Re-Engagement Needed to Strengthen Stability with Russia

Report - Despite the worsening relations between the West and Russia, there are several key areas of security policy where Russia and the West should re-engage, argues a new report, “Strengthening Stability in Turbulent Times,” by the Deep Cuts Commission.

--Sample of the report’s recommendations: “(1) the elements of the European security architecture need re-engagement; (2) the U.S.-Russian dialogue on strategic nuclear arms and missile defense needs new impetus; (3) the INF Treaty compliance debate requires creative but practical problem-solving.”

--Signers of the report include Fetter, Kelleher, Thielmann, Häckel, Stützle, Diyakov, Esin, Rogov and many more. Full report here. (pdf)

Transparency - “The key [to a good Iran deal] is not the rollback of the program, but our ability to monitor it,” writes Dennis Ross in POLITICO. “For me, the deal is acceptable — provided that the transparency is real, we have assured response mechanisms to any noncompliance that cannot be blocked, and we establish in advance what the consequences or price will be for every category of violation.”

--Regarding recent rhetoric on the framework, “we need not react to the supreme leader’s statements — either in terms of trying to explain them away or suggesting that they reflect bad faith,” Ross concludes. “Whether the supreme leader is posturing for an internal constituency or trying to convince us that we must yield more, our posture should be the same: We will be governed by the principles we agreed to and not by his public statements.”

JPOA still working - “Iran still respecting terms of interim nuclear deal: U.N. report” by Reuters.

Cardin - “Congress is not a party to the nuclear negotiations, and in no way does the [Corker-Cardin] bill alter that reality. It simply sets up a process for Congress to perform its due diligence,” writes Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) in response to a recent New York Times editorial that laid out the problems with the Corker bill.

Unity abroad - “Departures in American foreign policy as momentous as making peace with the Castro regime or resetting nuclear diplomacy with Iran ought not to be constructed on narrow vote margins in Congress,” writes Steve Coll in The New Yorker.

--“Despite shifting disagreements between Presidents and Congress, the country should seek to project unity abroad, in order to reassure allies and deter enemies… Cohesion in foreign policy is surely preferable to senators sending freelance missives to declared enemies of the state.”

Sanctions timeline - The timing of sanctions relief will be a key issue in the next ten weeks of negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest hinted that the administration may be willing to accelerate that timeline: “once we start to see Iran take important, tangible steps towards shutting down every pathway they have to a nuclear weapon and cooperating with intrusive inspections, then we can begin... the work of starting to phase in sanctions relief. ” Full transcript of the press briefing here.

Opportunity - “The deal is a great moment of opportunity for the Arab world, with Israel as a silent partner, to strike a new bargain with Iran,” writes Ellen Laipson in The National Interest. “The [new regional] activism can be turned into bold approaches to engaging Iran, insisting on redlines for Iran's support for various rebels, and identifying more constructive ways to work together, tentatively to be sure, to reduce the more acute and immediate threats in the region.”

--Big new initiatives could include reviving talks on a WMD free zone in the Middle East, collaboration on climate change, and joint ventures on alternative energy.

Tweet - @WinWithoutWar: Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's Fmr. Chief of Staff on the harsh realities of a military incursion in Iran.

Overkill - “At a time of tight defense budgets, why does the Air Force plan to spend billions of extra dollars so that a president 10 or more years from now can have two options if he or she wants to use bombers to attack an enemy with nuclear weapons?” Washington Post’s Walter Pincus on the irrational plan to buy a long-range standoff missile, B61 gravity bomb and a host of other costly nuclear systems.

Tweet - @Cirincione: "The [NewStart] treaty may have been a step forward...but the price he paid has turned out to be two steps backward."

Budget gimmicks - The House Armed Services Committee Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee plans to add money to a special account for the Ohio class submarines, chairman Rep. Randy Forbes told This would move the new nuclear subs out of the Navy’s shipbuilding budget, where the enormous costs of the program threaten conventional ships.

Quick Hits:

--“Warning Iran, U.S. Sends Two More Ships to Yemen,” by Michael Shear and Matthew Rosenberg for The New York Times.

--“Iran nuclear talks resume,” by Laura Rozen for Al-Monitor.

--“Inspectors Need Full Access in Iran Nuclear Deal, Moniz Says,” by Jim Snyder for Bloomberg.


--“The Iran Deal: Delays or Delivery?” A discussion with Joe Cirincione and Dr. Jim Walsh. April 21 at 5:30 pm, The Hampshire House, 84 Beacon St., Boston, MA 02108. RSVP here.

--“The Changing Face of Iran: Nuclear Diplomacy and its Implications,” featuring Ali Vaez. April 22, 8:30 to 10:00 London time. Hosted by Chatham House.

--House Armed Services Committee, markup of the annual National Defense Authorization Act, which includes the nuclear weapons and nonproliferation programs of the National Nuclear Security Administration. April 29 at 10:00 AM. Located at 2118 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC. Webcast on the committee website.

--“Nuclear Agreement with Iran: Can’t Trust, Can We Verify?” Hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, with witnesses Charles Duelfer and David Albright. April 22 at 10:00am in Rayburn 2172.

--”Air Force and Navy Nuclear Programs and the Implementation of Nuclear Enterprise Review Recommendations” Hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, with witnesses Maj. Gen. Garrett Harencak, Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, VADM Terry Benedict, Deputy NNSA Administrator Madelyn Creedon and Dr. Yisroel Brumer. April 22 at 2:30pm in Russell ST-222.

--“Atomic Aversion and Just War Principles” featuring Scott Sagan. April 24 from 12:00-1:00pm at the Wilson Center.


Math wizardry - When two B-52s blew up over Palomares Spain in 1966, the Air Force found three of the four H-bombs on board relatively quickly. The fourth one fell into the sea, requiring the Navy to find “an object the size of a kayak in hundreds of square miles of poorly-mapped sea bottom.”

--The effort to recover the bomb succeeded when scientists brought out and applied “an obscure 250-year-old probability theory” that created a dynamic probability map for where the bomb might have ended up. Steve Weintz at War is Boring goes through the history of the Palomares search and the math whizzes that helped recover the bomb.

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