Talks Continue, Contention over Enrichment and Sanctions
On the radar: “Some progress” in Baghdad; Irrational weapons; Save the Navy from the SSBNX; The politics of inflexibility; Further reductions; and Returning to NATO’s kicked can.
May 24, 2012 | Edited by Benjamin Loehrke and Mary Kaszynski
Quote - “I would count a future meeting as a success here…I’ve long been of the view that to have everything settled in one fell swoop is probably a council of futility. It’s just too complicated. There are too many pieces. There are too many compromises that would have to be made,” said Amb. Thomas Pickering to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. http://owl.li/b7PBl
Ongoing - The Baghdad talks are now continuing into a second evening, The Washington Post reports. Officials say negotiators are now focusing on agreeing to another round of talks. http://owl.li/b7SYo
Tough talks - Iranian negotiators rejected the P5+1 offer of medical isotopes and spare parts for civilian aircraft in exchange for halting 20% uranium enrichment as “unbalanced and therefore unacceptable," AP reports.
--Still, according to the EU foreign policy chief’s spokesman, “some progress was made.”
--The next round of talks has not been finalized, as Iran objects to the proposed location (Geneva). http://owl.li/b7PnX
Unusable, irrational - “Nuclear weapons are terror weapons, and basically unusable,” writes Walter Pincus. “That’s one reason why no rational strategy, other than deterrence, has ever been developed to justify them.”
--From Congress funding the B61 LEP despite rising costs to the P5 modernizing their arsenals while negotiating with Iran, Pincus concludes “there is little rational when it comes to nuclear weapons.” http://owl.li/b7Pfl
Reducing the sub requirement - CNAS released a report on reforms that the Pentagon should take to make the military more effective and less expensive. Nuclear highlight: “The Navy should also strongly support attempts by the executive branch to negotiate binding, verifiable and mutual nuclear arms control agreements that reduce the requirement for 12 next-generation SSBNs.”
--”That requirement will consume disproportionate amounts of the shipbuilding budget and reduce the Navy’s ability to buy additional attack submarines and surface combatants that can meet a wider range of future military challenges.” Read the full report, by authors Lt. Gen. Barno, Dr. Bensahel, Irvine and Sharp. http://owl.li/b7PEM
U.S. politics and the Iran talks - While Iran has shown increasing flexibility in the nuclear negotiations, the U.S. has simply piled on more sanctions. Paul Pillar sees domestic politics at work: “ Most American politicians have come to see as politically beneficial a line according to which pressure is the only proper posture toward Iran...[and] as politically dangerous support for any measure that could be described as making nice to Iran.” http://owl.li/b7Ptz
Why reductions make sense - “Sharply reducing the number of such weapons in the U.S. arsenal — and encouraging other countries to do the same — should be one of the first orders of business for the remainder of his [Obama’s] term in office,” writes The Baltimore Sun editorial board. http://owl.li/b7PMF
Westerwelle on NATO - “I very much welcome the fact that tactical nuclear weapons will now also be included in these disarmament talks...In the talks with Russia we naturally also want to see these tactical nuclear weapons gradually disappear,” said German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. Global Security Newswire has the story. http://owl.li/b7PIL
Putting off a decision - NATO’s proposal to conduct further studies on nuclear policy should the alliance decide to reduce its nonstrategic nuclear weapons in Europe was a small step forward. But, without political leadership, it is unlikely to be decisive.
--Writes Miles Pomper, within the next few years, events will force NATO and the U.S. to pick between two broad options: consolidate the nuclear mission to bases in Italy and Turkey or withdraw the weapons to the U.S. The alternative is to bridge the two options and seek reciprocal reductions with Russia. http://owl.li/b7PGS
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