Getting to Zero Update

In this issue:

BASIC and Getting to Zero (GTZ)

Wilton Park Conference

BASIC’s Executive Director, Paul Ingram, facilitated one of
the workshops and presented its findings, NPT – fit for purpose?, at
the Wilton Park 2008 NPT conference, ‘Nuclear Non-proliferation at the
Crossroads?’ December 15 to 19. Several conclusions were reached, not least
that a principal problem is the lack of connectivity between all the global
non-proliferation and disarmament tools to ensure effectiveness and a greater
effort made to establish a spirit of cooperation and recognize the common
interests involved.

The conference, reflecting the recent election of US
President Barack Obama and the building of momentum for breakthroughs in arms
control, as a whole was generally more positive about the prospects for
movement towards zero than previous years. As an important pre-conference for
diplomats and think-tankers involved in the lead-up to the NPT Preparatory
Committee in New York in May, this was important.


Politics around US tactical nuclear weapons in European
host states

Why the NATO summit this April may be the start of a roll
back for NATO’s tactical nuclear weapons.
Claudine Lamond and Paul Ingram, BASIC Getting to Zero Paper, No 11,
January 15, 2009.


Commitments to disarmament and arms control

More calls for reductions in nuclear arsenals

On February 4, UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband laid out
a three-condition, six-step proposal
to achieve the long-term goal of abolishing nuclear weapons worldwide. He
called on NPT-member states to enhance nonproliferation and security efforts,
and for current nuclear-weapons states, including the United Kingdom, to reduce
the size of their respective arsenals. Emphasizing the importance of dialogue and
confidence-building among these states, he further explained that collective
security regimes could enforce the global ban and “maintain international
security in a world without [nuclear weapons].”

On January 16, three British Generals: Field Marshal Lord
Bramall, General Lord Ramsbotham, and General Sir Hugh Beach, had written an article
in the Times calling for the United Kingdom to forego its nuclear
arsenal, explaining that “… major-player status in the international
military scene is more likely to find expression through effective,
strategically mobile conventional forces, capable of taking out pinpoint
targets…” They conclude, “Rather than perpetuating Trident, the case is
much stronger for funding our Armed Forces with what they need to meet the
commitments actually laid upon them. In the present economic climate it may
well prove impossible to afford both.” In an interview with the BBC,
former NATO Commander, General Jack Sheehan (US-ret) said that the United
Kingdom could be close to giving up Trident. BASIC issued a media advisory and
Paul Ingram a blog posting on the General’s statement.

Four German
statesmen: Helmut Schmidt (Social Democrat), Chancellor 1974-1982; Richard von
Weizsdcker (Christian Democrat), President 1984-1994; Egon Bahr, Minister in
Social Democratic governments and an architect of “ostpolitik;” and
Hans-Dietrich Genscher (Free Democrats), Foreign Minister 1974-1992, published
an article in the International Herald Tribune in which they put forth a plan
for “drastically reducing the number of nuclear warheads.” German Foreign
Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressed
a similar attitude in his open letter to then President-Elect Barack Obama on
January 12, “Only when Russia and the US take the lead [in global
disarmament] will we be able to effectively counter the uncontrolled
proliferation of nuclear weapons.”

On behalf of the European Union, French President Nicolas
Sarkozy called
for a revival of the nuclear weapons reduction movement in a letter to UN
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in early December. President Sarkozy reaffirmed
his proposal for an international ban on nuclear weapons testing, a moratorium
on the production of all fissile materials, and a universal inspection regime. He
also urged Russia and the United States to make progress in their efforts to
negotiate a successor to START. France concluded its six-month Presidency of
the EU at the end of December.

Such calls for global partnership and nuclear arms
reduction are reflected in the program put forward by a newly-created
organization: Global Zero. Made up of
100 past and current world leaders, Global Zero seeks to rid the world of
nuclear weapons within the next 25 years. This group convened for the first
early in December in Paris.


Munich Security Conference

On February 7, top officials convened the prestigious
security conference
in Munich, Germany. US Vice President Joseph Biden said that elements of the START treaty,
including verification procedures, must continue to steer global attempts to
curtail nuclear proliferation, and cited the United States’ and Russia’s “special
obligation” to pursue nonproliferation. Russian foreign minister Sergei
Ivanov praised the speech, calling it a “very
” development for US-Russian relations. Former Secretary of
State Henry Kissinger also spoke,
delivering a comprehensive speech on the state of the international
nonproliferation regime. He described Iran and North Korea as the two most
dangerous threats to nonproliferation. He also called for disarmament using a
gradual approach. “Affirming the desirability of the goal of a world free of
nuclear weapons, we have concentrated on the steps that are achievable and
verifiable,” he said.


START update

A US delegation under the Bush Administration met
with Russian officials on December 17 to negotiate a controversial extension or
replacement of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which will expire
in December 2009. Moscow, concerned in part with the Pentagons plan to place
conventional warheads on Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), wants a
comprehensive treaty that would impose limits on both nuclear
and conventional weapons. The Bush Administration had been advocating a
successor to START that would cover only nuclear warheads. But officials from
the Obama administration have recently
stated that they will pursue a “more traditional, legally binding” arms
reduction process with Russia, adding that a post-START treaty might commit
both sides to a nuclear arsenal as low as 1,000. On February 5, US State
Department spokesman Robert Wood commented that the administration was “deeply
committed to reducing the numbers [of warheads].” Last December, then
President-Elect Obama sent
Henry Kissinger, who has good relations with the Kremlin, to Moscow to discuss
issues related to disarmament and missile defense.


US ratifies IAEA Additional Protocol

After hanging in limbo since its approval by the US Senate
in 2004, former President Bush formally approved
of an Additional Protocol to the US inspections agreement with the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The Protocol allows IAEA inspectors
greater freedom of action vis à vis a nation’s nuclear program, including
short-notice inspections and the monitoring of environmental conditions which
may indicate covert nuclear activity. The US version, however, is much different
than the 1997 Model, and serves a primarily educational function. The United
States is not required to submit to the more invasive stipulations of the 1997
Model since it is officially recognized under the Non-Proliferation Treaty
(NPT) as a nuclear-weapons state. But by agreeing to the Protocol, Washington
hopes to persuade other countries to agree to the terms of the 1997 Model. The
Protocol officially took effect on January


Central Asian Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone

In December, Kazakhstan’s upper house of parliament approved
the Central Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty. This treaty prohibits the
development, production, or acquisition of nuclear weapons and other related
materials in the zone. It must be approved by Kazakhstan President Nursultan
Nazarbayev before it takes effect. Kazakhstan was one of the original signers
to the treaty when it was drafted in 2006. The United States, as well as French
and British leaders, have not recognized the treaty because of several problems they perceive,
including that the treaty could allow Russia to transfer nuclear weapons to the
treaty members under provisions permitting military assistance.

Further reading

Security Conference: Speeches 2009

Former NATO commander calls on Britain to ditch Trident
BASIC Media Advisory, January 29, 2009

Taking steps
toward a world free of nuclear weapons
Panel discussion with Sam Nunn, George Shultz, Sidney Drell, and David Sanger,
hosted by Bob Schieffer at the Center for Strategic and International Studies
(CSIS) in Washington, DC, January 29, 2009

urged to keep pledge to ratify nuclear treaty

Jonathan Tirone, Bloomberg, January 23, 2009

defence is to be strategic rather than politically expedient, dump Trident

Max Hastings, Guardian, January 19, 2009

does not need a nuclear deterrent: Nuclear weapons must not be seen to be vital
to the secure defence of self-respecting nations

Field Marshal Lord Bramall, General Lord Ramsbotham, General Sir Hugh Beach,
(London), January 16, 200

directions for foreign relations

(Senate Foreign Relations Chairman calls for US ratification of the nuclear
Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty and the reduction of the US nuclear arsenal down
to at least 1,000 deployed warheads.)
John F Kerry, Boston Globe, January 13, 2009

Taming the
nuclear dragon: A global nonproliferation treaty is in serious danger of
falling apart

Stephen M. Younger (formerly led nuclear research and development for Los
Alamos National Laboratory), Wall Street Journal essay, January 10,

arms control: The Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty
Amy F Woolf, Congressional Research Service report, updated December 30, 2008
(Available via the Website of the Federation of American Scientists)

arms control after START: Issues and options
Amy F Woolf, Congressional Research Service report, December 23, 2008
(Available via the Website of the Federation of American Scientists)

struggle for a nuclear weapon-free zone in Central Asia

Togzhan Kassenova, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, December 22,

around the world favor international agreement to eliminate all nuclear weapons

World Public Opinion, December 9, 2008


Country reports

United States

Strategic Posture Review Commission

The Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of
the United States released an interim report in
December. The panel has been led by former defense secretaries William J. Perry
and James R. Schlesinger. Citing the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea
as well as nations that already possess nuclear weapons, the commission
reported that proliferation has reached a “tipping
” which could lead to a serious international crisis within the
first year of the Obama presidency. The main danger, according to the panel, is
that “as each nuclear power is added, the probability of a terror group
getting a nuclear bomb increases.” It advised the President to make
nonproliferation a top priority in his national security strategy. They further
suggested more dialogue with Russia and ratification of the Comprehensive
Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Regarding Washington’s own nuclear arsenal, the
panel recognized eliminating global nuclear stockpiles as an important priority
while reaffirming the need for a credible deterrent prior to global


Task Force Review of the DOD nuclear mission

James Schlesinger also headed a task force review of the
nuclear mission of the Defense Department, which concluded with the release of
a final Phase II report
in December. The Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, set up the Task Force on
Nuclear Weapons Management in June 2008, after a series of systems failures
resulted in the loss and mishandling of nuclear warheads and related material.
The report found a “lack of interest in and attention to” the nuclear
mission throughout the Defense Department but also recommended the United
States maintain
its tactical nuclear weapons in Europe and modernize its nuclear warheads on
cruise missiles. Phase I focused specifically on the Air Forces management of
nuclear weapons.


Strong commitments in the Obama-Biden Plan

On the Agenda section of
the White House website, President Obama and Vice President Biden declare that
they will pursue the “goal of a world without nuclear weapons.” In an
effort to work toward this goal, they pledge to “stop the development of new
nuclear weapons; work with Russia to take US and Russian ballistic missiles off
hair trigger alert; seek dramatic reductions in US and Russian stockpiles of
nuclear weapons and material; and set a goal to expand the US-Russian ban on
intermediate-range missiles so that the agreement is global.” The agenda
also mentions President Obama’s vow to secure all loose nuclear material during
his first term. The page also says that the United States will maintain a “strong
deterrent as long as nuclear weapons exist.”


Commitments made during cabinet confirmation
hearings; Senate Foreign Relations Chair on CTBT

In her confirmation hearing, then Secretary of
State-designate Hillary Rodham Clinton emphasized
the importance of global efforts to prevent proliferation, saying that the
Obama Administration “will place great importance on strengthening the NPT
and the nonproliferation regime in general.” Clinton called for an expansion
of the IAEA and its budget, broader jurisdiction and more stringent
verification procedures. She also voiced her support for an international
nuclear fuel bank. During his confirmation hearing for Energy Secretary, Steven
Chu remarked in his opening statement,
before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, that the work of
the National Nuclear Security Administration should in part be geared toward “a
long-run vision of a world without nuclear weapons.” On a related note,
Senator John Kerry, the newly-appointed Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, also said
in an interview with Reuters on January 12 that he would seek to revive the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) on nuclear weapons.


Global Strike

On January 12, the US Air Force launched
the provisional Global Strike Command (GSC) at Bolling Air Force Base near
Washington, DC. This provisional force, led by Brigadier General James
Kowalski, will be replaced by the permanent command in September.


GAO finds NNSA to be a “high risk” area

On January 22, the Government Accountability Office (GAO)
submitted a report to
Congress which discussed the status of a number of government agencies. The
report found that the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
continues to have significant problems with budget and project management,
making it a “high risk for fraud, abuse, waste, and mismanagement.” The
report cited a number of major projects in which the NNSA exceeded original
costs by billions of dollars, urging the DOE to comply with management
requirements and to strengthen accountability. Employing these measures becomes
more important, the GAO added, as the NNSA begins to modernize the nation’s
nuclear weapons production facilities, a project costing “tens of billions of

Further reading

showdown over nuclear weapons

Mark Thompson, Time, January 26, 2009

nuclear-free dream fades: Barack Obama’s pledges on proliferation and securing
stockpiles are not as radical as they seem, and face some tough challenges

Simon Tisdall, Guardian, January 22, 2009

The Minot
investigations: From fixing problems to nuclear advocacy

Hans Kristensen, FAS Strategic Security Blog, January 14, 2009

security spending: assessing costs, examining priorities

Stephen I. Schwartz and Deepti Choubey, Carnegie Endowment Report,
January 2009

truth to intelligence

Joe Cirincione, Huffington Post, January 9, 2009

the role of nuclear weapons

Daryl G Kimball, Arms Control Today, January/February 2009

weapons in US national security policy: Past, present and prospects
Amy F Woolf, Congressional Research Service Report, updated December
30, 2008 (Available via the Website of the Federation of American Scientists)

takeaways from report of the Congressionally-established Bipartisan Commission
on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism

Graham Allison, December 22, 2008

myth of nuclear modernization and the Ikea bomb

Ivan Oelrich, FAS Strategic Security blog, December 17, 2008

Report of the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United

December 15, 2008

Report of the
Secretary of Defense Task Force on DoD Nuclear Weapons Management – Phase II:
Review of the DoD nuclear mission
December 2008

weapons in 21st century US national security
Report by a Joint Working Group of AAAS, the American Physical Society, and
the Center for Strategic and International Studies, December 2008


United Kingdom

Nuclear weapons technology sharing with the United

The Guardian reported
on February 9th that the United States may have been using the UK Atomic
Weapons Establishment (AWE) for research into the development of its own
nuclear weapons. The UK-based Chatham House and the US-based Center
for Strategic and International Studies
(CSIS) conducted an interview last
year with John Harvey, policy and planning director at the US National Nuclear
Security Administration, who said that the United States was borrowing British
technological capabilities that have proven to be “very valuable” for the
US nuclear weapons program. His remarks have raised questions as to whether the
United Kingdom has been assisting the United States with the development of new
nuclear weapons and a possible variant of the Reliable Replacement Warhead
(RRW) program. Harvey said that the United States and Britain recently amended
the Mutual Defence Agreement, which could allow for cooperation on an RRW
program. (For background information, see the following report on BASIC’s
Website: 1958 Mutual
Defence Agreement
, including information on a June 2004 amendment.)


Plans for new UK nuclear weapons plant

Earlier in January, the AWE submitted
plans to build a replacement nuclear warhead production and dismantlement
facility in Burghfield. The current plant at this location is over
50-years-old. The plan, developed by the Ministry of Defense, is known as
Project Mensa. Like previous facilities, the new one will fall under the jurisdiction
of the Health and Safety Executive’s Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, the
Hazardous Installations Directorate, and the Ministry of Defense. Project Mensa
may break ground by next year, and be commissioned by 2014-2015. The proposal
for building a new facility at the site has sparked controversy,
including questions over whether the area may be unsuitable because of
potential flooding.


Update on sale of stake in AWE

The AWE was the subject of intense controversy in December,
when the government sold
one-third of its stake in the organization to Jacobs, a US-based engineering
company. The AWE, founded after World War II, is responsible for the
construction and maintenance of the United Kingdom’s nuclear warheads. The
government’s sale of its stake puts two-thirds
of the AWE in the control of American companies. The US-based defense firm
Lockheed Martin and the British firm Serco also each own a one-third share of
the organization. This move, which the government failed to disclose to
Parliament, drew heavy criticism
from opposition politicians concerned that it further highlights the dependence
of Britain’s deterrent upon the United States. Gerald Howarth, the Conservative
Party’s shadow defense minister, said, “It is
consistent with the government’s unwillingness to share matters nuclear with
Parliament.” Nick Harvey, the Liberal Democrat’s defense spokesman, argued
that such technology sharing was prohibited by the nonproliferation treaty.

Further reading

should be in nuclear-weapons-free Middle East, former UK envoy tells IRNA

Islamic Republic News Agency, December 23, 2008

UK Government:
International campaign on nuclear disarmament

Press Wire, December 9, 2008 (registration required)


India and Pakistan

Pakistani scientist Khan released from house arrest

After five years under house arrest in his home in
Pakistan, a national court ordered the release
of AQ Khan on February 6. (Pakistan-based DAWN recently reported that the decision
could be repealed.) Khan had been confined despite being pardoned by the
Pakistani government in 2004 for allegedly selling nuclear technology to North
Korea, Iran, and Libya, a crime to which he initially confessed but later
recanted. The move to release Khan suggests the Pakistani government has
decided to prioritise its popularity at home over its relationship with the
United States and any concerns over its reputation for proliferation. Both US
and U.N. weapons inspectors have repeatedly attempted to question Khan about
his proliferation activities, but have been blocked by Islamabad, a situation
which is likely to continue. But these inspectors warn that Khan risks arrest
if he travels abroad, which he is highly unlikely to do.

On a related note, the United States had announced
in January that it will be imposing sanctions on 13 people and three companies
accused of involvement in the nuclear proliferation network of the Pakistani
scientist A.Q. Khan. The list of thirteen suspects, who have long been under
investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna,
include businessmen and engineers from Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Sri
Lanka, Turkey, and the Middle East. The sanctions include the freezing of the
suspects’ U.S.-based assets as well as a prohibition on Americans from engaging
in business with them. Urs
, a Swiss engineer investigated for his suspected involvement with
the Khan network, has been released after four years in detention.


Nuclear facility information exchange

On January 1st, India and Pakistan exchanged
their list of nuclear facilities, a practice they have conducted on every New
Year’s Day since 1992. The practice stems from their agreement
not to attack each other’s nuclear installations.

A large delegation of US business executives met
with Indian officials in New Delhi to thoroughly examine the text of the 123
Agreement, which was passed last year. This agreement allows for India to
participate in global civilian nuclear trade and use US nuclear technology. But
its implementation has been hampered by a sea of bureaucratic issues, the most
contentious being negotiating India’s right to reprocess spent fuel for its
three-stage breeder reactors.


Indian missile test

On January 20, India tested its
BraMos supersonic cruise missile, which is capable of carrying nuclear
warheads. India’s Defense Minister, AK Antony, said that the tests were
pre-planned and not directed toward any nation. While India and Pakistan
customarily warn each other prior to conducting missile tests, it was not made
clear whether Islamabad knew about the exercises. The test was conducted in
Rajasthan, a province that borders Pakistan. After initially declaring the
tests a success, the Indian Defense Ministry acknowledged on January 21 that
the BrahMos failed
to hit its intended target.

Further reading

back from the brink: Avoiding a nuclear march of folly in South Asia

Zachary Davis, Arms Control Today, January/February 2009

proliferation: The history of the future of nuclear weapons

Moeed Yusuf and Frederick S Pardee, the Brookings Institution, January 13, 2009

the barrage approach to illicit procurement
David Albright, Paul Brannan and Andrea Scheel, Institute for Science and
International Security, January 12, 2009



On February 2 Iran successfully launched
a domestically-built satellite into orbit. INRA described the launch as part of
a “data processing project,” and proclaimed it to be “the first
practical step towards acquiring national space technology.” This same
technology can also be used for launching weapons. Expressing “great concern”
about the launch, US State Department spokesman Robert Wood called on
the international community, particularly Russia and China, to put pressure on
Iran, citing common interests. Nevertheless, although the satellite reached orbit,
it was a great deal smaller than any possible military payload would be.

The Wall Street Journal reported on
January 16 that it observed a number of documents from the Iranian company ABAN
Commercial & Industrial Ltd. These records indicate that this company tried
to acquire 30,000 kilograms of tungsten copper from a company in Beijing
through an intermediary. This type of copper can be used in the development of
missile guidance systems. The United Arab Emirates also recently intercepted a
shipment of titanium sheets from China headed to Iran. Titanium may be used to
develop long-range missiles. Although these materials have civilian uses, Iran
is still prohibited by international sanctions from acquiring them. Law
enforcement officials in New York are also investigating
whether international banks have been laundering money for the Islamic

American intelligence officials contend that Iran has
somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 spinning centrifuges, (enough to produce a
weapon’s worth of uranium roughly every eight months) which is up from the
IAEA’s estimate last November of 3,800. But Iran appears to be having problems
with the natural resources needed for its nuclear program. The London Times
reports that the Islamic Republic is running low on unrefined uranium. In a press
conference on January 12, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashavi explained
that the Islamic Republic is “adamant to pursue its nuclear rights,”
although it denies trying to produce a nuclear weapon. According to David
Albright, the head of the Institute for Science and International Security,
Iran’s yellowcake may also run out by the end of 2009. Iran’s supply of
yellowcake is reportedly much too small to fuel a civilian nuclear program,
which has further aroused international suspicions of its claim that this
program is strictly for peaceful purposes.

On several occasions recently, Obama has reaffirmed
his commitment to meeting with Iranian officials without preconditions. But he
has also accused Iran of “pursuing a nuclear weapon that could trigger an
arms race.” Tehran’s response to Obama’s more moderate posture has been
cautious, but open. In an interview
on January 28, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad indicated that “if there
are real changes [from Washington], we will welcome it.” On February 6
Iranian parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani warned
Washington that the relationship would be repaired only if Washington “accepts
its mistakes and changes its policies,” placing the blame for hostilities
squarely on the American side.

A report released
by David Sanger in the January 10th edition of The New York Times
reveals information about President Bush’s strategy toward Iran. According to
interviews Sanger conducted with anonymous intelligence officials, starting in
early 2008 Bush embraced a covert strategy to undermine the infrastructure
surrounding Iran’s nuclear program. Reportedly, Bush embraced this strategy due
to frustration with the sanctions approach and the recognition that an overt
attack would destabilize the region. Sanger also indicated that Bush rejected
an air strike proposal on Iran’s nuclear facility at Natanz.

Further reading

nuclear with Iran now, with a time limit

Therese Delpech, Ariel Levite, George Perkovich, Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace, February 3, 3009

The Iranian
nuclear program after the National Intelligence Estimate
Philip H Gordon, Brookings, January 21, 2009

Iran not inevitable: Essential background and recommendations for the Obama
David Albright, Jacqueline Shire, Paul Brannan and Andrea Scheel, Institute for
Science and International Security, January 21, 2009

France, UK push
for EU sanctions on Iran – report

Iran Press News, January 19, 2009

How to deal
with Iran

William Luers, Thomas R Pickering, and Jim Walsh, New York Review of Books,
January 15, 2009

nuclear Iran: live and let live, or die another day?

Richard Haass, Sydney Morning Herald, January 14, 2009

cooperation between a company and government authorities disrupted a
sophisticated illicit Iranian procurement
David Albright, Paul Brannan, and Andrea Scheel, Institute for Science and
International Security, January 12, 2009

The Gulf
states must press the nuclear issue before it’s too late

Emile El-Hokayem, The National (newspaper – UAE), via the Henry L
Stimson Center Website, December 17, 2008


North Korea

Between January 15 and 19, South Korean envoy Hwang
Joon-kook led a group of nuclear experts on a visit to North Korea to examine
unused nuclear fuel rods at the communist state’s main reprocessing facility.
The North agreed to this type of inspection in December at the latest round of
the Six-Party negotiations between the United States, Russia, China, Japan,
South Korea, and North Korea. The negotiations failed,
however, to produce an agreement on procedures for the verification of the
dismantlement of North Korean nuclear facilities. The inspections were
conducted amid recent tensions between the North and South as Pyongyang declared
an “all-out confrontational posture” against South Korea on January 17,
prompting Seoul to heighten its vigilance along its northern border. But the
South Korean delegation reported that North Korea was continuing dismantlement
at the Yongbyong nuclear complex, even though Pyongyang had recently threatened
to continue its nuclear weapons program.

North Korean leader Kim-Jong
met with Wang Jiarui, a senior Chinese Communist official, in Pyongyang
on January 23. This was Kim’s first known meeting with a foreign emissary since
he reportedly suffered a stroke in August. South Korean analysts speculate that
with this move Kim is signaling to the world, particularly to the new US
administration, that he is still in control of his country and able to make
decisions about its nuclear weapons program.

On February 3, a South Korean intelligence official told
the Associated Press that the North may be preparing to test its Taepodong-2
missile, which is intended to have a range of more than 4,000 miles and thus
could conceivably hit the western coast of the United States. According to a
Japanese government source, it may be at least a month before the missile test.

Further reading

with North Korea: “Diplomatic warfare” ahead

Joel S Wit, Arms Control Association, January/February 2009

talks stall over sampling

Peter Craig, Arms Control Today, January/February 2009

Korea claims to have weaponized plutonium

CNN, January 18, 2009

More on Nork HEU

James Acton, Arms Control Wonk, January 14, 2009

nuclear threat is exposed

Donald Kirk, Asia Times, January 13, 2009

North Korea
issues New Year denuclearization pledge

Jon Herskovitz, Reuters, December 31, 2008


Missile defense

According to a January 28th article
in the New York Times, Russia has suspended (but not cancelled) its
plans to deploy its Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, leading to speculation
that the Kremlin may be reaching out to the Obama Administration. Officials in
Moscow refused to confirm or comment on the report, which came from an
unidentified Russian defense official. But at a Russian-NATO conference in
Munich on February 6, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov indicated
that Moscow is far from dead set on the Kaliningrad deployment. “[Russian] President [Dmitri] Medvedev from the very start said very clearly and
unequivocally that if there are no interceptors in Poland and the Czech
Republic [referring to the proposed US ground-based midcourse defense system] as was planned by the [Bush] Administration, clearly, there will be no
Iskanders in Kaliningrad,” he explained.

Michelle Flournoy, Obama’s undersecretary for policy at the
Pentagon, informed
the Senate Armed Services Committee that plans for missile deployment in Poland
and the Czech Republic should be evaluated during the quadrennial defense review
(QDR). She further said that this evaluation would take U.S.-Russian relations
into consideration. Flournoy disclosed these intentions during her Senate
confirmation hearing on January 15. The QDR is set to take place later this

On December 5, the US Air Force conducted a test of its
anti-missile defense shield at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. It
intercepted a dummy Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) launched from
Kodiak, Alaska. However, test decoys failed to deploy from the ICBM, continuing
to raise questions
about whether the system will be capable of coping with countermeasures.

received a $397.9 million contract from the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) in
December to continue development of the GMD program.

In early January, the Financial Times reported
that India and the United States had entered into discussions about
long-range missile defense systems for India. The US Defense Department claimed
that talks took place only on “a very rudimentary level.” Serious plans
for a missile defense deal could anger Pakistan. Recent India-US military
relations have intensified
and a controversial civilian nuclear cooperation agreement had been approved in
the latter half of 2008.

Further reading

Test hit,
diplomatic flop for US missile defense

Wade Boese, Arms Control Association, January/February 2009

Challenges loom
as Obama seeks space weapons ban

Andrea Shalal-Esa, Reuters, January 25, 2009

Obama’s ‘window of opportunity’ for improved Russia, EU ties

Charles A Kupchan and Bernard Gwertzman, New York Times, January 23,

should boost armed services’ role in missile defense

Baker Spring, Peter Brookes and James Jay Carafano, United Press International,
January 20, 2009

India and the US
talk missile defense

Siddharth Srivastava, Asia Times, January 15, 2009

tests for Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) System
Victoria Samson, Center for Defense Information, updated December 22, 2008

defense success questioned

Ben Preston, Santa Barbara, Independent, December 21, 2008

missile defense test shows technology not “unproven”

Baker Spring, Heritage Foundation, December 8, 2008


Other publications

the bomb: Why states provide sensitive nuclear assistance

Matthew Kroenig, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard
University, February 2009

Drawing a bright
redline: Forestalling nuclear proliferation in the Middle East

Mark Fitzpatrick, Arms Control Association, January/February 2009

weapons for all? The risks of a new scramble for the bomb

Thomas Omestad, US News and World Report, January 15, 2009

lines and tipping points for nuclear proliferation

Henry L Stimson Center event summary, January 14, 2009

for the fourth Nuclear Age

Ariel (Eli) Levite, Ifri Security Studies Center Proliferation Paper No 24,
Winter 2009

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