Obama Administration Embraces Deeper Nuclear Reductions

On the radar: 1000-1100 warheads; the Elusive Upper Hand; Iran stories write themselves; Nuclear keep-away; Polling Tehran; and Get your own nuclear sub, only $6.98.

February 8, 2013 | Edited by Benjamin Loehrke

Implementing the nuclear posture review - “Senior Obama administration officials have agreed that the number of nuclear warheads the U.S. military deploys could be cut by at least a third without harming national security.” Jeffrey Smith at the Center for Public Integrity has the scoop.

--The administration reached consensus in support of a new presidential policy directive that says the U.S. can meet its deterrence goals with a smaller nuclear arsenal of 1000-1100 deployed nuclear warheads, according to sources within the report. An official announcement has not been made. The directive would implement the administration's 2010 Nuclear Posture Review.

--Instead of implementing reductions immediately, “the administration’s ambition is to negotiate an addendum of sorts to its 2010 New Start treaty with Russia, in the form of a legally-binding agreement or an informal understanding.”

--Senior officials and experts note that the modest nuclear reduction being considered could yield billions in budget savings if the U.S. scaled back its ICBM force or bought fewer new nuclear-armed submarines. http://bit.ly/YYJ5Qo

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Seeking the upper hand - The US and its EU negotiating partners are engaged in a perpetual cycle with Iran where both sides try to get the upper hand in negotiations in order to gain more concessions. In the process, neither side has been able to compel the other to capitulate, and gaining the upper hand has yet to translate into a favorable deal. Trita Parsi in The Daily Beast provides context for the ongoing negotiations. http://thebea.st/UJirty

Pre-write your Iran stories - “I think we're at the stage where it's possible to automate any blog post on the Iran crisis,” writes professor/blogger Dan Drezner at Foreign Policy.

--Points for future Iran posts: There is a deal to be had; sanctions will tighten until deal is reached; Iran will reject linkage between negotiation and coercion; sanctions will damage Iranian economy; and military strikes will be brandished but not used against Iran. Full list here. http://atfp.co/XYZIEM

Portal monitors - “United States Customs and Border Protections Radiation Portal Monitors at Seaports” from the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General. January 2013. (pdf) http://1.usa.gov/11Tus1F

Syria - Vice President Joe Biden and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov explored a US proposal where the US and Russia would cooperate to secure Syria’s chemical weapons if the Assad government falls. David Ignatius at The Washington Post has the story. http://wapo.st/XZ0a5T

Tweet - @insidedefense: FY-13 Plans To Proceed With $3.8 Billion, Two-Satellite SBIRS Buy At Risk (paywall) http://t.co/mfJMXMFd

”Nuclear keep-away” - Keeping Iran from acquiring the necessary materials to build uranium centrifuges is a critical goal of the international sanctions regime. NPR’s “All Things Considered” explains the process of uranium enrichment and the “global game of keep away” between Iran and centrifuge production. http://n.pr/11Triek

Poll - “Nearly half of Iranians said international sanctions have hurt their personal livelihoods a great deal, according to a new Gallup survey. Another 35 percent said sanctions have somewhat affected their livelihoods. Despite the impact of sanctions, 63 percent of surveyed Iranians said they still support the controversial nuclear program.” Summary from The Iran Primer. http://bit.ly/V3iGND

Tweet - @BulletinAtomic: The #NSG should be appreciated for what it is and focus on its original #nonproliferation goals http://t.co/hN5EJRJg

Events:

--President Obama delivers his State of the Union speech. February 12.

--”Evolving Global Security Challenges: From Traditional to Nontraditional Security Challenges.” Joe Cirincione, President of Ploughshares Fund. February 13, 6:00-8:00 p.m. @ Monterey Institute of International Studies. Live stream here. http://owl.li/hrbm7

--Budget Hearing: National Nuclear Security Administration Weapon Activities. February 14, 10:00 a.m. @ Rayburn House Office Building Rm. 2362-B. http://owl.li/htgVW

--”Five Myths About Nuclear Weapons: A Pragmatic Re-appraisal.” Talk by Ward Wilson. February 14, 3:30-5:00 p.m. @ American University, School of International Service. http://owl.li/hkKOD

--”The Korean Peninsula Issues.” Institute for Corean-American Studies. February 15, 1:00-4:30 p.m. @ Rayburn Office Building, Room B. http://owl.li/hr2Ag

Dessert:

Your very own nuclear sub - For $6.98 (plus 75¢ shipping), you could get your own 7-foot, fibreboard Polaris sub. It allows for two children to “have hours of imaginative play and fun” doing things like firing nuclear missiles.

--”How proud you will be as commander of your own POLARIS SUB - the most powerful weapon in the world.” Boing Boing has the ad, from Spiderman Comics March 1967 issue. http://bit.ly/WGwJYU

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