Second Term Challenges: Nuclear Security and Iran

On the radar: Preventing nuclear terrorism; “Big bet” on Iran; Hearing schedules; Black swan on the peninsula; Ban at MIIS; Resolution on N. Korea; and Duck and cover, Kashmir.

Date | Edited by Benjamin Loehrke

Preventing nuclear terrorism - “Four years ago, President Barack Obama called preventing nuclear terrorism a top security priority, but the U.S. is only marginally safer from that threat today,” write Kenneth Brill and Kenneth Luongo in Politico.

--To further reduce the nuclear threat and reinvigorate the nuclear security summit process, “Obama should ensure his administration embraces a continuum of nuclear security improvements that begins with more aggressive voluntary actions and ends by 2020 with a legally binding nuclear security agreement,” writes Brill and Luongo. Full post here.

Iran - As President Obama enters his second term, a critical challenge will be preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, write Martin Indyk and Robert Kagan in The New York Times in a list of foreign policy recommendations.

--“The collapse of the nonproliferation regime that would follow Iran’s successful acquisition of nuclear weapons would strike a devastating blow to the international security order. Conversely, if Obama can succeed in achieving meaningful curbs on Iran’s nuclear weapons aspirations, he will do much to strengthen nonproliferation as a fundamental pillar of the new liberal global order.”

The President’s speech - “We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law. We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully –- not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear,” said President Barack Obama in the national security portion of his inaugural speech yesterday.

--”America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe. And we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation. We will support democracy from Asia to Africa, from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom.”

--”And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice –- not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity, human dignity and justice.” Full speech here.

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Confirmation hearings - Sen. John Kerry is set to appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as the committee considers his nomination to be Secretary of State. Jan. 24th at 10:00am.

--Sen. Chuck Hagel is set to appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee as the committee considers his nomination to be Secretary of Defense. Jan. 31st at 9:30am.

Resolution - The U.S. is circulating a resolution to the UN Security Council that condemns North Korea for its recent rocket launch. The resolution has China’s support. It does not contain new sanctions. Louis Charbonneau at Reuters has the story.

Technical report - “Characterizing the North Korean Nuclear Missile Threat” by Markus Schiller for RAND. (pdf)

In case of confrontation - Conflict on the Korean Peninsula could push the US and China into confrontation, suggests Martin Indyk in a list of unlikely yet possible crises that President Obama should work to avoid.

--To avoid a US-China conflict, Indyk suggests the US and China exchange information on their military assets in the area, share intelligence on North Korea’s WMD assets, and discuss measures to avoid humanitarian disaster if the North Korean regime were to collapse. Full article at Foreign Policy.

Report - “The International Atomic Energy Agency and Parchin: Questions and Concerns” by Robert Kelley at SPIRI. Background and perspective here.

Ban’s speech - “I urge all nuclear-armed States to reconsider their national nuclear posture. Nuclear deterrence is not a solution to international peace and stability. It is an obstacle. Member States also need to reinvigorate the international disarmament machinery,” said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the Monterey Institute of International Studies last Friday. Full speech here.

Tweet - @wellerstein: NEW POST: The story behind the U.K. Atomic Energy Authority coat of arms; and another H-bomb drawing by George Gamow:

Kashmir civil defense - Police officials in Indian-controlled Kashmir issued an advisory that families should be prepared for possible nuclear war by building fallout shelters and storing two weeks’ worth of food and water.

--"We routinely train and educate people regarding different natural and man-made disasters and that's our duty. This advertisement too was part of such a campaign. Please, let's not read into this beyond that,” said an Indian official associated with disaster response planning. Aijaz Hussain has the story for AP.