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Nuclear News - 2/15/2007
RANSAC Nuclear News, February 15, 2007
Compiled By: Kevin Giles

A.  Russia
    1. Russia May Unilaterally Quit INF Treaty � General Staff, RIA Novosti (2/15/2007)
B.  Iran
    1. Iran Inspired by N Korea Nuclear Deal?, Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times (2/15/2007)
    1. Pact with North Korea Draws Fire From a Wide-Range of Critics in U.S., Helene Cooper and Jim Yardley, New York Times (2/13/2007)
D.  Nuclear Proliferation
    1. US and Panama to Combat Nuclear Smuggling, National Nuclear Security Administration (2/9/2007)
E.  Missile Defense
    1. Missile Defense and its Consequences, Andrei Kislyakov, RIA Novosti (2/15/2007)

A.  Russia

Russia May Unilaterally Quit INF Treaty � General Staff
RIA Novosti
(for personal use only)

Moscow may unilaterally abandon the agreement between Russia and the United States on the elimination of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles, the chief of the General Staff said Thursday.

The former Soviet Union and the U.S. signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) December 8, 1987. The agreement came into force in June 1988 and does not have a specific duration.

"It is possible for a party to abandon the treaty [unilaterally] if it provides convincing evidence that it is necessary to do so," said Army General Yury Baluyevsky. "We have such evidence at present."

The INF treaty eliminated nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers (300 to 3,400 miles). By the treaty's deadline of June 1, 1991, a total of 2,692 such weapons had been destroyed, 846 by the U.S. and 1,846 by the Soviet Union.

"Unfortunately, by adhering to the INF treaty, Russia lost many unique missile systems," the general said, adding that many countries are currently developing and modernizing medium-range missiles.

Demand for the INF treaty arose in the 1970s when the Soviet Union began to deploy what the West called SS-20 missiles.

These were two-stage, medium-range missiles, many of them mobile and hard for the United States to track or destroy. Since most SS-20s targeted Europe, they allegedly threatened America's NATO partners.

The U.S. administration under Ronald Reagan proposed the so-called "zero option," stipulating that if the Soviet Union scrapped all its ground-launched medium-range ballistic and cruise missiles, the United States would do the same and abandon its plans to deploy anti-missile defenses in Europe.

Seeking better relations with the West, ex-Soviet leader Gorbachev agreed to remove more than three times as many warheads and destroy more than twice as many missiles as Washington by 1991.

Baluyevsky's remarks could be interpreted as a strong warning to the U.S. regarding its plans to deploy elements of its anti-missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, and as a follow up to recent statements made by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov.

Putin said on February 10 that deployment of a U.S. missile defense system in Central Europe could trigger a new arms race.

The Russian leader told the 43rd Munich Conference on Security Policy that the reasons the U.S. cited in favor of deploying a missile defense system in Europe are not convincing enough, as launching North Korean ballistic missiles against the U.S. across Western Europe would be impossible, given the required trajectories.

"This clearly contradicts the principles of ballistics. Or, as we say in Russia, it's like trying to reach your left ear with your right hand," he said.

Moscow strongly opposes the deployment of a missile shield in its former backyard in Central Europe, describing the plans as a threat to Russian national security.

Speaking at an annual televised news conference February 1, President Putin pledged to amend the country's military strategy in view of the new developments.

"We must think - we are thinking - of ways to ensure our national security. All our responses will be asymmetrical but highly effective," he said.

The Russian military chief said Thursday that Russia's participation in the INF treaty will depend on future U.S. moves on missile defenses.

"What they [the Americans] are doing at present, building a third missile defense ring in Europe, is impossible to justify," Baluyevsky said.

Washington has also recently moved its largest sea-based missile defense radar in the Pacific from Hawaii to the Aleutian Islands, not far from Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula.

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B.  Iran

Iran Inspired by N Korea Nuclear Deal?
Kim Murphy
Los Angeles Times
(for personal use only)

Iran is quietly accelerating efforts to negotiate a deal on its nuclear program, using this week's agreement to freeze North Korea's program as a model.

In the North Korea pact, the Bush administration signed a deal that provides significant incentives to Pyongyang even before the country completely steps back from its nuclear weapons program. The administration's willingness to agree to that probably will harden Iran's demands that it too should get tangible benefits as part of any agreement, analysts in Iran say.

Those rewards could include guarantees for the security of Iran's government, an end to economic sanctions and the right to continue developing nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

At the same time, some hard-liners in Iran appear to want to use North Korea's example as an opportunity to toughen Tehran's demands in the expectation that the United States eventually will be obligated to meet them.

Some U.S. conservatives have criticized the deal with North Korea, predicting it will encourage Iran and other nations considering nuclear programs. At a news conference Wednesday, President Bush dismissed such criticism by John R. Bolton, his former United Nations ambassador.

Bush said he strongly disagreed with Bolton.

"I have told the American people, like the Iranian issue, I wanted to solve the Korean issue � North Korean issue � peacefully, and that the president has an obligation to try all diplomatic means necessary to do so," Bush said. "So the assessment made by some that this is not a good deal is just flat wrong."

But the debate in Iran now appears to focus on how hard Tehran should press for favorable terms.

"The hard-liners, perhaps impressed by North Korea's achievement, are now inclined to be more resilient and more uncompromising," said Sadegh Zibakalam, professor of politics at Tehran University. "They say if North Korea could do it, why shouldn't we? Why should we let the United States dictate to us rather than negotiate with us?"

Until this week's pact, U.S. officials had insisted that North Korea dismantle its nuclear program and disarm before a deal could be reached. In the end, North Korea agreed only to begin disabling its nuclear facilities in exchange for about $400 million in aid and other incentives. For now, North Korea will keep its nuclear material, which U.S. officials think is enough to make eight to 10 bombs.

North Korea's situation is different from Iran's in several respects. North Korea has built and tested a nuclear bomb. Iran insists its program is for civilian power generation. U.S. and international leaders doubt Iran's claim, and most intelligence officials think Tehran is at least two years from being able to build a nuclear weapon.

A U.N. Security Council resolution passed in December, with strong support from the U.S., demands a complete halt to Iran's uranium enrichment activities.

Iran has signaled it might be willing to compromise on enrichment, either by limiting it, suspending it or operating centrifuges with an inert gas instead of uranium. Iranian negotiators say a genuine agreement can be achieved only through open negotiations without preconditions.

A subtle upping of the ante in Iran's public position was evident shortly after the North Korea agreement was announced. Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Mohammad Ali Hossaini, declared Tuesday that Iran would never accept suspension of uranium enrichment as a precondition for negotiation.

He had said a day earlier that many options, including suspension, were on the table.

Although hard-liners in Iran think the country can tough it out against the U.S., a broad swath of the political elite backs an effort by Ali Larijani, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, to reach a compromise.

"This scenario has been at the back of the minds of some Iranian leaders: that if we reach a stage that we would be respected as an equal partner, then we could do real negotiations and reach a deal over our nuclear program," Zibakalam said.

A source familiar with the negotiations said Iran had a four-part package that included security guarantees, continued access to nuclear technology and certain "political and economic" guarantees.

Nonproliferation experts suggested the guarantees would include a demand to drop U.N. sanctions and possibly the unilateral sanctions that the U.S. has had in place against Iran since shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

In an interview Wednesday, Mohammad Kazem Anbarlouee, head of a conservative Islamic faction in parliament and the editor of Resalat, a hard-line newspaper, said Iran must insist on the return of $19 billion in Iranian funds intended for the purchase of U.S. weapons during the shah's regime and never returned after the revolution.

"We don't have any conditions right now, and we don't accept any preconditions," Anbarlouee said. "Because everything they asked us, we met. For example, they asked us to suspend our activities; we did that [in the past]. They asked us for U.N. supervision and visits, and we accepted this. We have nothing left. So Mr. Larijani will have some suggestions, not conditions.

"If they have some conditions, for example, about giving them some guarantees about not having nuclear weapons, they can tell us that. But if they want to ask us to suspend our nuclear activities for peaceful purposes, no, we are not ready for that."

He said Larijani was authorized to discuss establishing a consortium of nations to produce enriched fuel along with Iran, a previously floated proposal.

In Washington, Democrats intensified their calls for the administration to negotiate with Iran. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) said Bush would have to get authorization from Congress to attack Iran.

"It would be a mistake of historical proportions if the administration thought that the 2002 resolution authorizing force against Iraq was a blank check for the use of force against Iran without further congressional authorization," Clinton said.

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Pact with North Korea Draws Fire From a Wide-Range of Critics in U.S.
Helene Cooper and Jim Yardley
New York Times
(for personal use only)

The deal that could lead North Korea to shut its main nuclear reactor came under criticism from both ends of the political spectrum immediately after it was announced on Tuesday.

From the right, hardliners argued that the United States should have held out until North Korea agreed to fully declare and dismantle its entire nuclear program.

From the left, Democrats argued that the deal was no better than one they said the United States could have gotten four years ago, before North Korea tested a nuclear bomb.

If the agreement holds � pacts with North Korea have a history of falling through � it could put the United States and Japan on a path toward normalizing relations with the isolated nation, which President Bush identified as part of an �axis of evil� in 2002, and which tested a nuclear device just four months ago.

Under the pact, North Korea agreed to freeze its production of plutonium at its five-megawatt nuclear facility in Yongbyon, and to allow international inspectors to monitor and verify its compliance. In return, the United States, China, South Korea and Russia agreed to provide North Korea with food and fuel aid.

The pact kicks down the road three much tougher issues: complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula; a complete declaration from North Korea of all its nuclear activities; and the future of North Korea�s existing plutonium program.

The North would for now hold on to an arsenal that American intelligence officials say may contain as many as a half-dozen nuclear bombs or the fuel to make them.

Still, the deal represented a bureaucratic victory for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who has pushed for a more diplomatic approach with North Korea than more hawkish administration officials would have liked. In the end, it was Ms. Rice who convinced President Bush to sign onto the pact, administration officials said.

�These talks represent the best opportunity to use diplomacy to address North Korea�s nuclear programs,� President Bush said in a statement Tuesday morning. �They reflect the common commitment of the participants to a Korean Peninsula that is free of nuclear weapons.�

The broad criticism demonstrated the awkward place in which the administration has found itself on North Korea. Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, said the deal �takes us back to the future.�

�The good news is that it freezes in place North Korea�s nuclear program,� said Mr. Biden, who has declared his intention to run for president. �The bad news is that North Korea�s program is more dangerous to us now than it was in 2002, when President Bush rejected virtually the same deal he is now embracing.�

From the other end of the spectrum, John R. Bolton, who until December served under Ms. Rice as the United States ambassador to the United Nations, criticized the pact as too weak, telling CNN that it �contradicts fundamental premises� of the administration�s approach to North Korea during the past six years. Mr. Bolton, when in the administration, had argued in favor of a hard-line approach to North Korea.

Asked if she thought there was any substance to Mr. Bolton�s criticism, Ms. Rice said at a news conference in Washington on Tuesday: �No, I don�t.� She added: �I just think he�s wrong.�

According to administration officials, a turning point came on Jan. 17, when Ms. Rice met in Berlin with Christopher R. Hill, an assistant secretary of state who has been the lead American negotiator with North Korea.

Mr. Hill was in Germany for meetings with the North Korean representatives; Ms. Rice was making a stop there on her way home from talks with Arab leaders in Kuwait.

According to the officials� account, Mr. Hill gave Ms. Rice a one-page description of what the North Koreans had agreed to do. Ms. Rice made two telephone calls to Washington � first to Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, and then to President Bush. �Do you think we should proceed on this basis?� Ms. Rice asked President Bush. His reply was yes, the administration officials said.

Still, in the intense negotiations in Beijing that followed, the agreement seemed on the verge of collapse several times, as North Korea sought more aid. So fragile was the tentative accord reached Monday that Ms. Rice said she called Mr. Hill in Beijing, at 4:15 A.M. Tuesday in Washington, to make sure the agreement had held.

Under the deal, the United States and its partner nations agreed to provide roughly $400 million in various kinds of aid in return for the North starting a permanent disabling of its nuclear facilities and allowing inspectors into the country.

In return, the United States agreed to begin the process of removing North Korea from its designation as a terror-sponsoring state, a step that is bound to meet opposition in Congress. The United States also agreed to discuss with the North, within 30 days, terms for ending financial sanctions.

Of the five countries negotiating with North Korea, Japan � which had been seeking a tougher stance � did not agree to the aid package, saying that it first needs to work out the issue of North Korea�s past abductions of Japanese citizens.

But Japan joined the United States in agreeing to discuss normalizing relations with North Korea, another potentially big step that could begin when Ms. Rice sits down for a meeting with her North Korean counterpart in 60 days as part of a next set of meetings mandated by the pact.

Some experts previously critical of the Bush administration approach praised the accord as a turn to the pragmatic. �We were in a weak bargaining position and the Bush administration deserves credit for achieving a more limited agreement, rather than holding out for a more maximalist, but unachievable, objective,� said Gary Samore, a North Korea expert at the Council on Foreign Relations who helped to negotiate a 1994 agreement the Clinton administration struck with the North.

For her part, Ms. Rice contended that under the terms of the agreement, 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil which North Korea would receive in the first 60 days was an �actually modest� amount; another 950,000 tons of heavy fuel oil would not be forwarded to North Korea until it disabled the reactor and declared all its nuclear programs.

Experts who have followed the long haggling over the North Korean program said there are bound to be problems when the time comes for the North to disclose all of its nuclear facilities and dismantle its program. In perhaps a sign of things to come, North Korea�s state press agency released a statement that described the Yongbyon shutdown as a �temporary suspension.�

In Beijing, Mr. Hill responded quickly. �The North Koreans agreed to shut down their reactors and seal them for the purpose of abandoning them,� he said. �Any action to restart the reactors would be a violation of the agreement.�

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D.  Nuclear Proliferation

US and Panama to Combat Nuclear Smuggling
National Nuclear Security Administration
(for personal use only)

The United States signed a Declaration of Principles today with the government of Panama to help prevent smuggling of nuclear and other radioactive material. The Department of Energy�s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Department of Homeland Security�s (DHS) Customs and Border Protection (CBP) cosigned the declaration. The document covers implementation of NNSA�s Megaports Initiative and CBP�s Container Security Initiative, as both programs continue working together to stop nuclear material from being smuggled to U.S. ports.

�Today�s agreement with Panama represents a commitment on both sides to tackle the threat of illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials, which will further the fight against terrorism,� said NNSA Acting Administrator Thomas P. D�Agostino. �Cooperating with the Panamanian government on the Megaports Initiative will help to secure global shipping lanes and ultimately protect U.S. ports.�

NNSA's Megaports Initiative works with foreign governments to install specialized radiation detection equipment and enhance capabilities to deter, detect, and interdict illicit shipments of nuclear and other radioactive materials at international ports. The initiative is currently operational in six countries, and at various stages of implementation and negotiations with approximately 30 other countries around the world.

Under the Container Security Initiative (CSI), officers from both CBP and DHS� Immigration and Customs Enforcement are stationed at key seaports abroad to work with host governments to identify high-risk shipments bound for the United States and to examine these shipments prior to loading. CSI operates at 50 ports in North America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and North, South and Central America. About 83 percent of all cargo containers destined for U.S. shores originate in or are transshipped through CSI ports.

Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.

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E.  Missile Defense

Missile Defense and its Consequences
Andrei Kislyakov
RIA Novosti
(for personal use only)

The first, ground-based stage of the U.S. missile defense program has successfully been completed.

There is not much time left before the start of a battle royal for the right to place missile defense components, i.e. weapons, in space.

Fortunately, the success of the proponents of orbital duels is not pre-determined. "We have repeatedly come up with initiatives aimed at preventing the use of weapons in space," said Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Munich Conference on Security Policy in mid-February. "Today I would like to tell you that we have drafted an agreement on the prevention of weapons deployment in space. Very soon it will be made into an official proposal. Let us work on it together." Of course, there is little hope that the Russian initiative will have a serious influence on the missile defense program. Nevertheless, a barrier must be placed across weapons' path to space.

In discussing the danger of anti-missile efforts in their present form, let us start with purely military problems. Does the U.S. system pose a threat to Russia? The answer is unequivocal: it does not.

At present, the U.S. has two deployment areas for extraterrestrial kinetic interceptors: 14 silo-based anti-missile units in Alaska and another two in California. Soon another 10 may be deployed in Poland, with support infrastructure in the form of a ground-based radar in the Czech Republic.

A prominent Russian military expert and former head of the Defense Ministry's Space Research Institute, Major General Vladimir Dvorkin, says, "the creation of one missile defense deployment area in the Czech Republic, Poland and other eastern European countries and the deployment of a dozen of anti-missile units in each does not pose any threat to the Russian strategic containment potential. It would take hundreds of deployment areas and thousands of anti-missile units to damage this potential."

Moreover, despite the impressive characteristics of the U.S. Ground-Based Interceptor - an intercepting height of up to 1,500 km and a directed-fire range of up to 4,000 km, it cannot guarantee the destruction of warheads in the middle of the launch trajectory from Russian deployment sites, which is very inconvenient for the Americans. At the same time, to destroy them at the most convenient point, the beginning of the trajectory, the interceptor must be located within 500 km of the target, which is also impossible geographically.

However, the first two stages of the interceptor are flesh of the flesh of the second and third stages of the Minuteman II ICBM. So it will not take much imagination to deploy Minuteman III's, which have about the same length and maximum diameter as the Minuteman II, instead of the announced conventional antimissiles.

Yet there is a greater danger. Russian leaders have repeatedly said that they will give an "asymmetrical," cheaper, but "extremely effective" answer to the U.S. antimissile defense system. This answer was quite clear. In mid-2006, Chief of the Russian General Staff Yuri Baluyevsky said, "We have practically found adequate and asymmetrical methods that allow us to say: the existing and prospective ABM will be successfully penetrated by our intercontinental ballistic missiles and their warheads."

This launches a boundless program for the improvement of offensive nuclear weapons. The response will be the appearance of the prospective ABM, this time partially space-deployed.

The result will be a new battlefield with its own "front line" and "fortifications." Given that over 180 countries are involved in space activities and at least 40 of them use information from orbit for some or other defense purposes, it is hard to find an alternative to Putin's Munich proposal and to argue with Vladimir Dvorkin, who said, "The proposed ban on weapons deployment in space should be viewed as an invitation to develop and adopt a countries' code of behavior in space. It could ban all actions aimed at destroying space systems, including weapons deployment."

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and may not necessarily represent the opinions of the editorial board.

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DISCLAIMER: Nuclear News is presented for informational purposes only. Readers are encouraged to visit the websites from which the source material originates. Views presented in any given article are those of the individual author or source and not of RANSAC. RANSAC takes no responsibility for the accuracy of information contained in any article presented in Nuclear News.

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