Japanese Foreign Minister Okada Proposes 'No First Use' Talks with U.S.

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We are happy to serve you a daily summary of the day's top nuclear policy stories each morning, with excerpts from the stories in bullet form.

Stories we're following today:

Okada has Proposed Talks with U.S. Toward 'No-First-Use' Policy - Kyodo News [link]

  • Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said Friday he conveyed to the United States in late December his willingness to discuss steps toward realizing in the future the so-called ''no-first-use policy'' of nuclear weapons.
  • In a letter sent to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Okada also said in a press conference that Japan places ''trust and importance'' on U.S. nuclear and other deterrence measures, but would not call on Washington to take a policy that would contradict the goal of a nuclear-free world, on which Japan hopes to work together with the United States.
  • As ''two realistic steps'' toward the no-first-use policy, he cited in the letter recommendations to limit the role of nuclear weapons solely to deterring nuclear attacks and to prohibit the use of nuclear weapons towards non-nuclear weapon states which are members of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Nuclear Foes Target Utah Senators in Test Ban Fight - Deseret News [link]

  • David Culp can picture the nuclear chain reaction.
  • If the U.S. Senate ratifies the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), China has said it would follow suit. If China ratifies the treaty banning nuclear weapons tests, so would India, and then maybe Pakistan, and so on.
  • And Utah's two U.S. senators could have as much influence as anyone on which road the world's current and aspiring nuclear powers will take.
  • "It's not an exaggeration to say that much of the nuclear weapons policy for the planet will be decided right here in this state," Culp said in a talk Sunday at the Quaker Meeting House.
  • Note: David Culp is a nonproliferation lobbyist for the Friends Committee on National Legislation, a Ploughshares Fund grantee.

U.S. - Russia Nuclear Deal 95 Percent Agreed Upon - Reuters [link]

  • Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Sunday that a deal with the United States on a landmark nuclear arms reduction treaty was "95 percent" agreed, news agencies reported Sunday.

Book Tackles Atom Bomb Horror, Author Eyes 3D Film - Reuters [link]

  • A new book follows a handful of Japanese who were lucky -- or unlucky -- enough to survive both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings, and their shocking story could make it to the big screen in 3-D, its author said. Charles Pellegrino's "The Last Train From Hiroshima: The Survivors Look Back," is the result of lengthy research, including extensive interviews with the survivors and those who dropped the weapons toward the end of World War Two.
  • He and "Avatar" director James Cameron met one such person, Tsutomu Yamaguchi, not long before he died earlier this month aged 93, and Pellegrino believes it is their duty to commit his story to film.
  • "We have to figure out how to go forward with this project. With Mr. Yamaguchi dead it's our destiny to," Pellegrino said.
  • The 56-year-old author envisages a movie which combines full-color, 2-D footage of interviews with survivors with 3-D, sepia-toned reconstructions of the events they describe.
  • "We must communicate this to the world and stop this ever happening a third time," he said, adding that he was concerned that people in the United States had developed "amnesia" about the threat of nuclear weapons since the end of the Cold War.

Cabler of the Week: Ellen Tauscher - Foreign Policy's The Cable [link]

  • Where we ask 10 questions that help us to understand one of the personalities making foreign policy in the Obama administration. This week's subject: Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs Ellen Tauscher.
  • What do you see as the top three challenges for U.S. foreign policy over the next three decades? "Curbing the proliferation of all weapons, conventional or otherwise, will remain a challenge. We are going to have to continue to focus on our relationship with the major powers like Russia and China as well as the so-called "rising" or "middle powers."

 A View from the Dark Side

We Must Keep a Credible Deterrent - Jon Kyl (R-AZ) Letter to the Editor in the Wall Street Journal [link]

  • In their Jan. 20 op-ed "How to Protect Our Nuclear Deterrent," George Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn deliver a clarion call for the "necessity to maintain the safety, security and reliability of our own [nuclear] weapons." In so doing, they have associated themselves with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the experts on the bipartisan Perry-Schlesinger Commission, who have urged significant and immediate funding to develop a modern warhead and repair our decrepit Manhattan Project-era nuclear infrastructure.
  • I was pleased to see that the vice president recently noted the contributions Messrs. Shultz, Perry, Kissinger and Nunn have made to national security policy. It is imperative that the administration heed their warnings and commit significant and sustained investments to the modernization program beginning in the fiscal year 2011.