New START, National Interests, and the Spending Debate
June 19, 2012 | Edited by Benjamin Loehrke and Leah Fae Cochran
Spending targets or national interests - Some in congress are trying to scuttle the New START treaty because the proposed 5% increase in funding for NNSA weapons activities - despite the tense budget environment - does not mirror predetermined levels laid out in 2010. Responding to such funding concerns, Secretaries of Energy and Defense, Stephen Chu and Leon Panetta, report to the Hill, “We fully support the FY 2013 budget request for NNSA, which is reasonable, responsible, meets military requirements, and maintains funding for the most critical programs and capabilities.”
--"It continues to be in the U.S. national interest to remain a Party to the New START Treaty,” write Secretaries Chu and Panetta. Kingston Reif has the story at The Nukes of Hazard. http://bit.ly/LuOJTx
The power to make cuts - Thirty-two House Democrats signed a letter spearheaded by Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) calling on President Obama to veto the FY13 National Defense Authorization Act if it includes provisions limiting the President’s ability to make cuts to nuclear weapons.
--“At a time when the U.S. has formally agreed to reduce its nuclear arsenal under the New START Treaty, and there is a growing consensus among defense experts and retired military officers that a far smaller nuclear force is required for an effective nuclear defense and deterrent, we must reduce our nuclear weapons arsenal.” Read the entire letter here: http://1.usa.gov/L0a8Oy
Nuclear costs - “The Pentagon has been underestimating that spending by almost 100 percent,” according to Gordon Adams in an article on the new Stimson Center study on the nuclear weapons budget.
--”The more accurate budget figure for the annual costs of our strategic nuclear forces alone is $31 billion a year, not $20 billion,” writes Adams. “Over the next 10 years, the study estimates we will spend between $350 billion and $390 billion on our strategic nuclear forces.” Full post at AOL Defense. http://aol.it/LiyGXD
After Moscow - Talks between the P5+1 and Iran are wrapping up, and a diplomatic breakthrough remains elusive. Tony Karon at TIME says this should surprise no one, “because the expectations of the two sides are so far apart that prospects for a breakthrough remain remote.”
--For the U.S.: “The West’s leverage doesn’t go away if there is no agreement in Moscow…We still have time for a diplomatic process,” says Colin Kahl of CNAS.
--For Iran: If talks do not produce sanctions relief, “Iran will feel obliged to respond with further escalation of its own...And the problem is that options for escalation on the Iranian side are fewer and more dangerous,” notes Trita Parsi. http://ti.me/Mmxe6e
Joint statement - Nuclear issues fill the upper half of the joint statement from President Obama and President Vladimir Putin at yesterday’s G20 summit. On arms control, the statement says, “As a priority, we intend to successfully implement the New START Treaty, and to continue our discussions on strategic stability. Despite differences in assessments, we have agreed to continue a joint search for solutions to challenges in the field of missile defense.”
--The US and Russia agreed to redouble efforts to improve nuclear security. On Iran, the statement supports a finding a negotiated solution to restore confidence that Iran’s nuclear program will remain exclusively peaceful. CTBT got a hat tip. http://1.usa.gov/NM23V2
Tweet - @JakeTapper: the body language at this Obama/Putin bilat is off the hook chilly.
Accident, MD or Syria, VA - Al Kamen at The Washington Post appealed to his readers’ expertise on where the House can stick its proposed East Coast missile defense site. Highlights below. The real House proposal would spend $100 million to kick start efforts on an East Coast site. Kamen’s winners only got a T-shirt.
--“Capitol Hill — or at least around the House side,” so when the “non-existent” missiles are fired, “the interceptors that don’t work can protect” them, wrote Barry Blechman of the Stimson Center.
--“Accident, MD and Pork Barrel Pond, MA” wrote Zachary Hosford.
--“How about Syria, Va.? That way, if the Iranians launch a missile at us, we can say we had the good people of Syria shoot it down for us,” offered Doug Williamson. http://wapo.st/NehaEr
Sanctions report - “Sanctions and Nonproliferation in North Korea and Iran: A Comparative Analysis,” an Federation of American Scientists Issue Brief by Daniel Wertz and Ali Vaez.
--Key point: “The success of a sanctions policy ultimately should not be measured by its breadth or its efficacy in crippling the economy of the target state, but instead by its effectiveness in impeding proliferation and changing the target state’s behavior – without incurring unacceptable humanitarian costs.” http://bit.ly/L11kI8
Essay contest - CNS is accepting submissions for research papers in nonproliferation. This year they are looking for “new insights, new perspectives, new approaches, and specific recommendations for resolving today's most urgent nuclear weapons challenges, including those involving state and non-state actors”.
--The deadline is September 14th and the grand prize is $5,000 and a spot in the The Nonproliferation Review. Details here: http://bit.ly/4K3RzV
Making a nuclear bomb - It’s not a how-to, but “engineering guy” Bill Hammack has a YouTube video explaining why obtaining enriched uranium is the biggest hurdle for making a nuclear weapon. Gizmodo has the video. http://bit.ly/Lc3KKx
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