In this issue
- United States
- United Kingdom
- North Korea
- Nuclear terrorism
- Controls on the nuclear fuel cycle
On July 20, 2007, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates joined with
the Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman and Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice to submit to Congress a three-page statement
on US national security and nuclear weapons, entitled “Maintaining
Deterrence in the 21st Century.” Among other things the White House
wants Congress to fund US nuclear missile updates to dissuade
possible attacks from countries such as Iran and North Korea. Military
affairs analyst William Arkin notes
that in the statement “there is the sense that the US is trying
too hard to justify a policy that perhaps it realizes is becoming
In early September it was first
reported by Military Times that a US B-52 bomber mistakenly
loaded with six nuclear warheads flew from Minot Air Force
ND, to Barksdale Air Force Base, La., on Aug. 30, resulting in
an Air Force-wide investigation.
The B-52 was loaded with Advanced Cruise Missiles (ACMs), part
of a Defense Department effort to decommission 400 of the ACMs.
But the nuclear warheads should have been removed at Minot before
being transported to Barksdale, the officers said. The missiles
were mounted onto the pylons of the bomber’s wings. ACMs carry a
W80-1 warhead with a yield of 5 to 150 kilotons and are specifically
designed for delivery by B-52 strategic bombers.
This was a major breach of nuclear weapons transportation procedures
as the Air Force banned the transport of nuclear weapons mounted
under the wings of aircraft in 1968 after 27 nuclear-armed Air Force
aircraft crashed between 1950 and 1968. The Washington
Examiner reported September 7 that Defense Secretary Robert
Gates initially wanted to release more information about the incident
but was talked out of it by Air Force officers.
The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library released declassified
recordings of President Kennedy discussing the debate over a nuclear
test ban in 1963. See the Library news release here.
On July 20 the United States and India finalized an implementing
agreement for their landmark civilian nuclear deal after extensive
talks in Washington. The nuclear cooperation agreement between the
United States and India has been the subject of much debate over
various issues. One of them was India’s insistence
on a US guarantee that India will receive fuel supplies for the
lifetime of reactors. See more here,
Commentary from the Economist Intelligence Unit is here
and from Yale Global Online here.
Analysis from the Arms Control Association is here.
for commentary from the Federation of American Scientists Strategic
Security blog. The Global Security Newswire reports
on criticism from US lawmakers here.
Another controversy is that Australia appears set to
lift a ban on uranium sales to India, with senior ministers
expected to overturn a policy of selling only to signatories of
the Non-Proliferation Treaty. See more here
The Herald reported
September 4 that British scientists are secretly working on the
design of a revamped nuclear warhead at the Atomic Weapons Establishment
at Aldermaston in Berkshire. The alleged design for a new nuclear
warhead is reported to be similar to the US Reliable Replacement
Warhead program. Dubbed the ‘High Surety Warhead’, the weapon under
construction is expected to have fewer degradable components and
an extended lifespan. The new warheads are intended to be dependable
enough to eliminate the need for underground tests, which would
be in violation of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
On August 30 the IAEA issued a report
on Iranian cooperation with international inspectors. A framework
agreement (which formed part of the IAEA report) between Iran
and the IAEA to clear up outstanding ambiguities over Iran’s nuclear
program was met with suspicion in Washington and some European capitals.
Mohamed ElBaradei said
that it could represent the last chance for Iran to engage in transparency.
The IAEA report urges Iran to ratify and implement the Additional
Protocol, and said:
Confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s
nuclear programme requires that the Agency be able to provide assurances
not only regarding declared nuclear material, but, equally important,
regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities
in Iran, through the implementation of the Additional Protocol.
In response Iranian spokesperson Hosseini said
that Iran would not accept the Additional Protocol until Iran’s
file was returned from the UN Security Council.
Two days after the release of the IAEA report President Ahmadinejad
that Iran is running more than 3,000 centrifuges used to enrich
uranium The claim appeared at odds with the IAEA report, which puts
the number much lower – at close to 2,000. For details see ArmsControlWonk.
A critique of the IAEA report by the Institute for Science and International
Security is here.
Over the summer Western powers delayed until September efforts
to toughen UN sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program in
hopes of improved cooperation with UN inspectors.
The Washington Post reported
July 26 that US presidential candidates agree Iran should not
be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons but their prescriptions for
preventing such an outcome are vague.
On July 25 a Russian subcontractor said
the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran cannot be completed by the
fall of 2007 as suggested by Iranian authorities and will only be
commissioned a year later.
On July 23 British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said
that tougher sanctions are likely against Iran over its contested
nuclear program while also declining to rule out the possibility
of future military action against the country.
with Iran: Confrontation, Containment, or Engagement? A Conference
Report, RAND Conference Report, 2007.
Transcript of “Living with a Nuclear Iran and North Korea?”
Independent Institute, June 21, 2007.
Ephraim Kam, A
Nuclear Iran: What Does it Mean, and What Can be Done, Institute
for National Security Studies, Tel Aviv University, Memorandum 88,
On July 18, the IAEA confirmed that North Korea has shut down its
nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, along with four related nuclear facilities:
a plutonium separation facility; a nuclear fuel fabrication plant;
and two larger, incomplete nuclear reactors. The shutdown has, for
now, ended North Korea’s production of plutonium, which had been
ongoing since 2003. North Korea’s nuclear envoy demanded
that his country be given power-generating reactors as a reward
for eventually dismantling its atomic weapons program.
US envoy Chris Hill detailed
progress on implementing the agreement on the July 23 Jim Lehrer
Newshour. On September 2 he said
North Korea had agreed to disable its main nuclear fuel production
plant by the end of the year and to account to international monitors
for all of its nuclear programs, including what American intelligence
agencies say they believe was a second, secret program purchased
Scott Snyder, Responses
to North Korea’s Nuclear Test: Capitulation or Collective Action,
The Washington Quarterly 30, No. 4 (2007): 19-32.
of “Living with a Nuclear Iran and North Korea?” Independent Institute,
June 21, 2007.
The July 23 issue of Newsweek magazine reported
on how the US Government Accountability Office ran a sting to
procure enough radioactive material to build and dirty bomb and
how legally easy it was to find suppliers.
A Risk and Economic
Analysis of Dirty Bomb Attacks on the Ports of Los Angeles and Long
Beach, Risk Analysis, Vol. 27, No. 3, 2007
William C. Bell and Cham E. Dallas, “Vulnerability
of Populations and the Urban Health Care Systems to Nuclear Weapon
AttackExamples From Four American Cities,” International Journal
of Health Geographics, 2007, 6:5.
Ashton B. Carter, Michael M. May, and William J. Perry. “The
Day After: Action Following a Nuclear Blast in a US City.”
The Washington Quarterly 30, No. 4 (2007): 19-32.
The Norwegian Institute of International
Affairs (NUPI) and The
Norwegian Defence Command and Staff College will host the seminar
Weapons in the 21st Century: Old Players, New Game – New Players,
Old Game from 6 to 7 December in Oslo, Norway. This seminar
focuses on the nuclear-weapon threat posed by state and non-state
2 Sunday Times ran excerpts from a newly published book detailing
both the export activities of Abdul Qadeer “A Q” Khan and the procurement
of nuclear technology by Pakistan.
Detailed background on the history and status of the nuclear test
ban debate is available in Nuclear
Weapons: Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, updated July 12, 2007.
Adrian Levy and, Catherine Scott-Clark, Deception:
Pakistan, the United States and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons,
Walker & Company, October 16, 2007.
Jessica Tuchman Mathews, Reinvigorate
Nuclear Nonproliferation, Democracy: A Journal of Ideas,
Issue #6, Fall 2007.
Jimmy Carter, Undermining
peace, Guardian Comment Is Free, September 9, 2007.
1540, Henry L Stimson Center, August 6, 2007.
Cynthia Kelly, The
Manhattan Project: The Birth of the Atomic Bomb in the Words of
Its Creators, Eyewitnesses and Historians, Black Dog & Leventhal
Publishers, September 17, 2007.
recording of the Nonproliferation Review Luncheon Briefing held
on July 24th, 2007 is now available, along with these two
articles from the July issue, “Japan Tests the Nuclear Taboo”
and “US Strategic War Planning After 9/11”.
Global Security Newswire reported
August 8 that US lawmakers are planning to consider six bills
that address an international nuclear fuel bank proposal that experts
say could be a useful tool to stem the spread of uranium enrichment
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations announced
July 28 that Southeast Asian countries will set up a safety watchdog
to ensure that nuclear power plants in the region are not used to
produce weapons or aid terrorists and other criminal groups.
Behind: International Scrutiny of the Peaceful Atom, A Report
of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center On the International
Atomic Energy Agency’s Nuclear Safeguards System.