1. Why nuclear monitors have a grudging fondness for Kim Jong Il
David E. Sanger
International Herald Tribune
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When news filtered out of the black hole of North Korea that Kim Jong Il probably suffered a stroke in August, no one in the Bush administration rushed out to buy a get-well-soon card. Kim is, after all, the man that President George W. Bush once described as a "tyrant," a dictator who starves his own people, and, according to some senators, a "pygmy," the biggest insult for a man who keeps a lot of elevator shoes in the presidential closet in Pyongyang. But whatever names he is called by senior U.S. officials, there was a surprising ambivalence in official Washington about the news last week, and more than a whiff of reluctance to lose Kim at the helm just now. This was especially true among U.S. intelligence officials, who worry every day about what might happen if a state implodes, and whether such a situation would lead to a free-for-all for that state's weapons. Such shudders have not been limited this summer to the Hermit Kingdom of North Korea. They were also felt about Pakistan even before its president, Pervez Musharraf, resigned in mid-August rather than face impeachment. Knowing that Musharraf was on thin ice, the U.S. government had already run "tabletop exercises" in which a Pakistani descent into chaos would leave everyone wondering who was in control of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. Would it be the new elected prime minister, whom the military deeply distrusts? The army? The small clique of trusted Musharraf aides who built the country's nuclear security system, but who no longer have a patron? Concerns about these two unsteady nuclear powers have begun to change the thinking among officials in Washington who used to focus principally on the scenario that a nuclear weapon might pass from a government to a terrorist group. Now, seven years after a CIA agent known as Dragonfire erroneously reported that Al Qaeda had hidden a nuclear weapon in New York, the worry is being broadened. It now focuses on whose hands in government control the nukes, especially at a time of great confusion. It is not that anyone in the United States is more sanguine about the possibility of a terror group acquiring enough nuclear material to set off an atomic bomb in a U.S. city. That is still the No.1 worry. But the way the problem is analyzed is beginning to shift. "We used to have this great distinction between 'states with nukes' that we could deter the old-fashioned way, and 'groups with nukes' that we couldn't deter," said a senior U.S. intelligence official who would not speak on the record because he monitors the Pakistani arsenal. But today, he said, "our biggest problem may be groups within states" that could take advantage of political chaos to seize what they need, either to sell it or to win a struggle for leadership of the country. Oh, for the simple days of Bush's formulation of "with us or against us." Before he came up with alternative rationales for the war in Iraq, Bush often said the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, had changed his view of tolerable risk. He insisted that the possibility, no matter how slim, that Saddam Hussein would obtain or sell a weapon was unacceptable. Yet to experts in Bush's own administration, what is happening today in countries like North Korea and Pakistan poses a far higher statistical risk of letting loose nuclear weapons than Iraq ever did. (For one thing, there is no question that those two countries have the nuclear material.) Bush has been silent about this problem, but his spokespeople and those at the Pentagon have a stock answer to questions on the issue. It boils down to this: There is little reason to worry as long as the military remains in charge. While North Korea and Pakistan have little else in common, they both have strong militaries with a well-honed sensibility about survival. "It is very difficult for me to imagine someone arriving at a North Korean facility with guns blazing and emerging with a nuclear weapon," said Matthew Bunn, who teaches at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and is the author of "Securing the Bomb," an annual survey of nuclear threats around in the world. "And the military understands that there is a big chance of retaliation if they ever sold anything to a terrorist - retaliation that would remove them and everyone they ever met from power." That is why the U.S. bomb-watching community has a grudging fondness for Kim, the "pygmy dictator." The United States' biggest fear about North Korea is a collapse of the state, in which a starving, broke nation simply implodes. That could send everyone on a mad scramble for the country's arsenal - the Chinese, the South Koreans, the Russians, the Americans. "The bad news about North Korea," said Jonathan Pollack, a North Korea expert at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, "is that we don't know much about their nuclear control system. Or even if they have much of one." The good news is that the arsenal is small. In recent negotiations with the United States, before Kim fell ill, the country said it possessed about 82 pounds, or 37 kilograms, of bomb-grade plutonium. If officials are not lying - a significant "if"' - that is about enough to make six weapons. Some in the CIA think the North Koreans could have 12 or more weapons. It is nothing to sneeze at, but compared with Pakistan's arsenal, it is a manageable number. Pakistan has a sophisticated Nuclear Command Authority, with layer upon layer of protections, some of them installed with the help of a covert U.S. program that has already spent more than $100 million. Its leaders are acolytes of Musharraf, but they are thought to be military professionals first, and therefore responsible. But unified leadership at the top still counts. The problem is that Pakistan has a great deal of nuclear material and is making more at a quick pace. Its facilities are spread out, so that India, for instance, could not easily attack them all. The Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, has deeply divided sympathies, with many supporting the Taliban and extremist causes. And the bulk of the military is not much better. "So when a Pakistani facility gets attacked," asks Bunn, "what do the guards do? Do they fight? Do they help? Do they run away?" Recent history is not especially reassuring about either Pakistan or North Korea, considering how much technology has already leaked from them to other states. It was in Pakistan's laboratories that Abdul Qadeer Khan started his nuclear proliferation ring that flourished during political upheaval in the 1990s. Khan has been under house arrest, but in recent months he has been allowed to move around much more freely. And when the Israelis bombed a nuclear reactor in Syria a year ago, it soon became clear that the Syrians had received a lot of design and building help from the North Koreans. That was when Kim had his full faculties. The nightmare is how much worse the leakage could get if it is unclear who is in charge.
1. ENERGY: Brazil plans to build 60 nuclear power plants
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The Brazilian Mines and Energy minister, Edison Lobï¿½o, said today in Angra dos Reis (state of Rio de Janeiro) that Brazil has already decided to give priority to the resumption of the country's nuclear program. Some 60 nuclear power plants should be built in the next 50 years. Each unit should have generation capacity for 1,000 megawatts. The minister's declarations were said during a visit to the location where Angra 3 nuclear plant will be built. The project should be concluded in five years and generate 1,405 megawatts. 'The problems in Bolivia are another indication that we have to continue our nuclear program,' he added.
The black market network supplying illicit nuclear technology had substantial and sensitive information on how to make atomic arms, the IAEA has revealed. It said much of the networkï¿½s material was passed on to customers in electronic form ï¿½ giving a potentially unlimited number of clients access, whether they were governments or individuals. The IAEAï¿½s information was contained in a report on Libya and based on investigations conducted since Libya renounced its efforts to make nuclear weapons in 2003. The report is posted on the agencyï¿½s internal website for perusal by the IAEAï¿½s 35-nation board. While Libya is no longer a proliferation concern, the reportï¿½s revelations on the network headed by Pakistani scientist A. Q. Khan are important because he also supplied Iran and North Korea with nuclear know-how and hardware and could, therefore, help in investigations of those countriesï¿½ programmes. Diplomats linked to the IAEA said the Libya investigation also revealed that the network had peddled more sophisticated information linked to making nuclear weapons than the agency had previously known. North Korea went on to develop nuclear weapons but agreed to mothball its programme last year before the disarmament process hit a recent snag over a dispute about verification of its atomic activities. Pakistan has downplayed the IAEA report about Mr. Khanï¿½s links with Libyaï¿½s clandestine nuclear programme, terming it as ï¿½recycling of old allegations.ï¿½ Insisting that there was no new revelation in the report, Pakistan said the report essentially provided an overview of Libyaï¿½s nuclear programme. ï¿½The references to provision of nuclear equipment and related design simply mention the transfers that took place in the past and the conclusions drawn by the IAEA as a result of its follow-up verification activities,ï¿½ said Foreign Office Spokesman Muhammad Sadiq in a statement. Presenting this report as a fresh piece of information is an attempt to cast aspersions on Pakistan, said Mr. Sadiq, adding the country has already extended cooperation to the nuclear watchdog in this case. The confidential report by the IAEA said Libya was in contact with the Mr. Khanï¿½s black market network much earlier than first thought. According to the report, Libyaï¿½s contacts with Mr. Khan date back to 1984, 10 years earlier than previously assumed. Mr. Khan, was placed under house arrest in 2004 after he confessed of his involvement in the non-proliferation networks. Earlier this year, he retracted his confession, saying it was made under pressure. The IAEA specifically warned about the ease with which weapons designs were transferred through CD-ROMs, computer hard drives and the Internet. The Khan network was active in Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, South Africa, UAE, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Japan according to the report.
1. President Bush Sends US-India Nuclear Deal to Congress
Press Trust of India
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On Wednesday, September 10th, US President George Bush sent the text of a proposed US-India nuclear agreement to Congress for approval. Today, in response to the President's actions, the US-India Business Alliance (USIBA) and the US Congressional Task Force on US-India Trade held a briefing on Capitol Hill with Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher regarding the deal's current status.
Ambassador Boucher congratulated Mr. Sanjay Puri, President of the US India Business Alliance (USIBA) for organizing this most timely event, which was the first briefing to be held by the Administration on Capitol Hill since India was given a waiver by the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG) on Saturday, September 6, 2008. Recognizing the importance of the briefing, Ambassador Boucher said, "This is where the action is," referring also to the fact that it is now up to Congress to get the deal done. "We hope the legislation can be passed,"
The Chairman of the Taskforce, Rep. Eni Faleomavaega (D-AS), who also serves as Chairman of the Foreign Affairs' Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment, commended USIBA for the important role it has played in galvanizing the Indian American community. "USIBA's work has not gone unnoticed. We will continue working in hopes of seeing this deal through, and Mr. Puri and I will be meeting with Chairman Berman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the very near future for further discussions."
Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY), a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and a key Democratic leader in the US House of Representatives, stated, "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has indicated he would like to see this move, I share that. It's high on the agenda even if it goes to the lame duck session.
I am confident that we will pass it."
Rep Ed Royce (R-CA), also a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said, "India today views the US as a reliable, dependable partner. If our actions are to match our rhetoric, if we are truly concerned about our ally in a tough neighborhood, now is the time to extend this helping hand."
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Chair of the Caucus on India and Indian Americans offered a more cautious note. "Congress has received a report from the White House and that sets the clock in motion but you can't expect this to go through like a rifle shot. The chances are fifty-fifty. But if it doesn't go through now, I will emphasize it doesn't mean any disrespect for India."
"The accord will strengthen economic, military and diplomatic ties with an emerging power and will bring a new source of energy to a fast-growing country working to lift millions out of poverty," Sanjay Puri, President of USIBA, said, "and USIBA is fully committed to doing its part to help get this deal done."
1. India wonï¿½t wait for 123 to sign deals with France, Russia
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Despite Washingtonï¿½s expectation that India will wait for Congressional approval of the ï¿½123 agreementï¿½ on bilateral nuclear cooperation before concluding deals with other suppliers, the government has decided to sign a landmark nuclear framework agreement with France during Prime Minister Manmohan Singhï¿½s visit to Paris later this month. Following last weekï¿½s waiver for India from the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Bush administration is now trying to complete the U.S. domestic approval process for the 123 by September 26, when Congress formally adjourns, so that the issue does not require the convening of a special ï¿½lame duckï¿½ session in December. But regardless of the fate of the 123, India appears finally to have made up its mind to clinch its deals with France and Russia on a priority basis. ï¿½We will go ahead and sign with the French in Paris this month and with the Russians when [President] Medvedev comes to Delhi on December 4,ï¿½ said an official source on condition of anonymity. The NSG had opened the door and India intended to go through it. Confirming that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had asked India to wait till the 123 was passed so that American companies were not disadvantaged, the sources said India had made no commitment to the U.S. ï¿½We have never said we will wait,ï¿½ the source said, noting that External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee had immediately clarified this issue when his remarks earlier in the week were taken as suggesting otherwise. ï¿½As for disadvantaging U.S. firms, the question does not arise because we are talking of a free market and competition,ï¿½ the source added. Hitting out at U.S. attempts to revise key provisions of the 123 agreement, the sources said that if President Bush and the State Department did not believe the textï¿½s provisions were legally binding, ï¿½why did they put us through seven months of negotiations?ï¿½ India, the source said, was now waiting to see how the U.S. domestic process got completed. ï¿½Let him complete his internal process and then come to us. [But] if the 123 comes with changes or conditions, weï¿½ll see [our options].ï¿½ Asked whether India might even refuse to sign the agreement if it came with riders that negated its key provisions, the source said, ï¿½Let us see. Until we actually sign, nothing is over.ï¿½ Washingtonï¿½s approach, the sources stressed, was making it harder and harder for India to buy American material as and when the 123 was approved. ï¿½I think his own companies will now have to deal with him,ï¿½ the source added. India, he said, had taken up with the U.S. the contents of Mr. Bushï¿½s September 10 letter to Congress as well as the State Departmentï¿½s controversial replies to a set of questions raised by the House Foreign Relations Committee on the 123 agreement.
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