Trident Renewal Not Affordable or Strategically Sound, says Former UK Defence Secretary

On the radar: Scaling back Trident; $10.4 billion bomb unaffordable; Khamenei rejects direct talks; MOX not viable; Sanctions effects questioned; China’s reaction to DPRK; and Former Target manager tapped for NNSA security chief.

February 7, 2013| Edited by Benjamin Loehrke and Alyssa Demus

Trident renewal “not viable” - Nuclear weapons are less relevant for the UK’s security and should not be a priority for the country’s tightening defense budget, writes former UK Defence Secretary Des Browne and Ian Kearns in The Telegraph.

--Browne and Kearns argue that the UK’s decreasing defense dollars should be used for conventional capabilities, not preserving the UK’s nuclear status quo. Scaling back the Trident patrols or buying fewer submarines, they write, “would continue our glide-path to reduced reliance on nuclear weapons for our security, and in the circumstances, make sound strategic sense.” Full article here.

Halting B61 - “In light of its high cost, uncertain need, and lack of immediacy, Congress should fence funding for the B61 LEP in FY 2014 until a public, unclassified review of a range of reasonable alternatives is completed,” write 15 organizations in a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein on the $10.4 billion nuclear bomb project.

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Khamenei stays in character - "Some naive people like the idea of negotiating with America, however, negotiations will not solve the problem. [...] You take up arms against the nation of Iran and say: 'negotiate or we fire'. But you should know that pressure and negotiations are not compatible and our nation will not be intimidated by these actions," said Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a recent speech seen as a rejection of Vice President Joe Biden’s offer of direct talks between the U.S. and Iran. Marcus George at Reuters has the story.

Tweet - @ksadjadpour: Khamenei has expressed contempt for the US on at least a weekly basis for the last 24 yrs. Today he was himself:

Letter- “All federal agencies need to halt wasteful spending in the current fiscal environment, and MOX is a prime candidate. The DOE is now in the process of re-baselining MOX costs and schedule. We think this program has already failed the viability test. [...] Don’t let nuclear waste become a symbol for government waste.”

--The Project On Government Oversight and Taxpayers for Common Sense are calling on President Obama to cut funding to the MOX facility at the Savannah River Site in Aiken, South Carolina.

Article - In his article “Why Eliminate Nuclear Weapons?” James Doyle examines and addresses arguments traditionally posited by proponents of nuclear deterrence.

-- “Nuclear weapons should be eliminated because they will not make nations powerful in the twenty-first century and beyond. Their existence in the arsenals of the world creates the possibility of their use and the risks they create outweigh their value. The marginal contribution that nuclear deterrence now makes to the absence of major aggression between great powers is being purchased at too high a price,” writes Doyle. Full article from Survival. (pdf)

Pressure gage - The U.S. implemented a new set of sanctions targeting Iran’s oil sector on Wednesday, intended to increase economic pressure on Iran. Yet, some question the sanctions’ influence on country’s highest authority, the supreme leader - “The people may be suffering in Iran, but the supreme leader isn’t, and he’s the only one who counts,” report Thomas Erdbrink and David Sanger of the New York Times

Tweet - @Cirincione: Interested in interning in @plough_shares DC office? We are hiring a part time intern. Details here, apply soon!

BUFFs under sequester - Under sequestration, B-52 flying hours are expected to be cut 10%. Lt. Gen. James Kowalski of Air Force Gobal Strike Command previews the effects on the bombers and its training flights. From American Forces Press Service.

Tweet - @nukes_of_hazard: Reupping @ArmsControlWonk on how w/some flexibility even worst case sequester cuts would still allow US to nuke Russia

Naughty neighbors - "China is extremely concerned by the way things are going. We oppose any behavior which may exacerbate the situation and any acts which are not beneficial towards the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula," said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying regarding North Korea’s latest provocations. Reuters has the story.

Tweet - @TheEconomist: This week's cover preview: Change in North Korea. Richer, freer, scarier...


--”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.

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

--”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.

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


NNSA security chief - The National Nuclear Security Administration tapped Col. Steve Asher (USAF, ret.) to be its chief of defense nuclear security, putting him in charge of securing the country’s nuclear weapons sites.

--Asher’s past experience: Recently was a team leader at a Spokane, WA, Target store. Previously in charge of security for ICBMs at Malmstrom AFB until 2008, when the missile wing failed its surety inspection. Mother Jones has the story.