1. US Says Aid Won’t Go to Pakistan Nuclear Program
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The Obama administration is confident that Pakistan will not use a planned sharp increase in US aid to strengthen its nuclear arsenal, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday.
The New York Times this week reported U.S. lawmakers were told in confidential briefings that Pakistan is rapidly adding to its nuclear capability while fighting a Taliban insurgency, stoking fears in Congress about diversion of U.S. funds.
Militant violence in Pakistan has surged over the past two years, raising doubts about its stability and anxieties about the security of its nuclear arsenal, which is believed to comprise at least 25 to 50 warheads.
The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs on Wednesday approved tripling U.S. economic aid to Pakistan to about $1.5 billion a year for each of the next five years, including money for Pakistani schools, the judicial system, parliament and law enforcement agencies.
The legislation, which will now go to the House floor and would ultimately have to be reconciled with a similar Senate bill, also authorized $400 million in annual military aid for the next five years.
“We are very clear, very firm and quite convinced that none of our aid will in any way affect the efforts of Pakistan regarding their nuclear stockpile,” Clinton told U.S. lawmakers without saying whether Pakistan is expanding its arsenal.
“We are absolutely committed not to seeing any diversion of our money,” she added.
The Pakistani military, which launched an offensive against the Taliban in the Swat Valley this month, said its soldiers had captured a Taliban stronghold in the village of Sultanwas in Buner district, about 60 miles (97 km) from Islamabad.
The United States views Pakistan as crucial to stabilizing neighboring Afghanistan and to defeating al Qaeda militants, who plotted the Sept. 11 attacks while protected by the Afghan Taliban regime then in power.
Many al Qaeda militants are since believed to have crossed the border into northern Pakistan.
The House panel sought to put some conditions on the $400 million in military aid, saying that it hinged on Pakistan making progress combating terrorist groups and cooperating on dismantling nuclear weapons material supply networks.
The bill specifically asked for “direct access to Pakistani nationals associated with such networks,” a reference to rogue nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan who ran a black market in atomic technology.
After complaints from the Pentagon, the sponsor of the bill, California Democrat Rep. Howard Berman, changed its language to make it easier for the president to waive the conditions on military aid.
In addition to the funding making its way through Congress, the United States on Tuesday offered Pakistan $110 million to help the estimated 1.5 million people driven from their homes by the fighting between government and Taliban forces in Swat.
Available at: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle.asp?xfile=data/international/2009/May/international_May1457.xml§ion=international&col
2. Pakistan Denies Increasing Capability to Make Nukes
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Pakistan's information minister denied accusations Wednesday that his country is expanding its capability to produce nuclear weapons.
This week, the Institute for Science and International Security published a report with satellite imagery that the group says shows expansion of "Pakistan's key military and civilian fuel cycle site near Dera Ghazi Khan."
"If there is any construction over there, I don't verify it," Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said of the allegations.
"There may be some residential areas over there, and the old construction may be demolished, and the new construction should be there," Kaira added. "You can't say that the new installation is there."
The report published commercial satellite photos comparing the Dera Ghazi Khan nuclear site in October 2004 and August 2008. Watch what the satellite photos show »
"Site preparations can be seen that will double the size of this compound," the institute wrote. "The reasons for this expansion are undoubtedly related to Pakistani decisions to upgrade its nuclear arsenal, currently estimated to contain roughly between 60 and 100 nuclear weapons."
The Institute for Science and International Security, based in Washington, is a "non-profit, non-partisan institution dedicated to informing the public about science and policy issues affecting international security," according to its Web site.
The group's focus is "on stopping the spread of nuclear weapons, bringing about greater transparency of nuclear activities worldwide and achieving deep reductions in nuclear arsenals," the site said.
The report emerged more than a week after the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, the top American military commander, told U.S. lawmakers that Pakistan was expanding its nuclear weapons program.
Pakistan recently secured pledges from international donors for billions of dollars worth of aid to bolster the government of President Asif Ali Zardari.
On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that Washington would rush an additional $110 million in humanitarian assistance to help the 1.9 million Pakistanis who have been forced to flee their homes as the military confronts Taliban militants in northwestern Pakistan.
On Wednesday, Clinton assured senators that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is secure and that U.S. aid money won't be diverted to produce even more nuclear weapons.
Two American military cargo jets arrived at an airbase near the Pakistani capital Wednesday, carrying air-conditioned tents and pre-packaged meals for the refugees.
The advance of the Taliban to within 60 miles of Islamabad last month sparked international fears that the government of the nuclear-armed country was in danger of collapsing.
Pakistani government officials have repeatedly declared that the country's nuclear arsenal is secure from militants.
But the institute report pointed out that fighters from an ethnic Balochi separatist movement have carried out a ground attack on the Dera Ghazi Khan nuclear site.
"An expansion in nuclear weapons production capabilities needlessly complicates efforts to improve the security of Pakistan's nuclear assets," the report concluded.
Available at: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/05/20/pakistan.nuclear.program/index.html
Iran's president announced the successful test launch of an advanced surface-to-surface solid-fuel missile Wednesday that could reach Israel and other potential targets across the Middle East.
Iranian state television showed the blue rocket rising from a sunny desert, surrounded by the red, white and green flags of the Islamic Republic.
Iran has long had missiles that could reach Israel and the Persian Gulf states where the U.S. maintains several bases. But President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad boasted that the new Sejil-2 incorporates "advanced technology" that makes it more accurate than Iran's arsenal of Shahab missiles, which are based on North Korean-designed rockets.
The two-stage missile has a range of 1,200 miles, the official Islamic Republic News Agency said. Iran's single-stage liquid-fueled Shahab-3 has the same range. But experts say solid-fuel double-stage rockets are more accurate.
In addition, they say, solid fuel is more stable, meaning it can be stored longer and moved more easily. Solid propellant may also allow Iran to bypass the fueling cycles needed for liquid-fueled rockets, speeding up the launch sequence.
"The defense minister contacted me and said . . . 'With divine intervention and the assistance of the Lord of the Age, the Sejil-2 rocket, which has very advanced technology, was launched from Semnan province,' " Ahmadinejad told a crowd of supporters in the rural northern province, where he was campaigning ahead of June 12 elections. " 'It hit the target exactly.' "
In Washington, Obama administration officials said the test demonstrated that Iran had made progress in its efforts to develop a solid-fuel missile with a longer range than its older, Shahab series rockets.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates described the launch as "a successful flight test" of a missile with a range between 1,200 and 1,500 miles. "Because of some of the problems they've had with their engines, we think at least at this stage of the testing it's probably closer to the lower end of that," Gates said during testimony before a panel of the House Appropriations Committee.
Tehran and the West are at odds over Iran's nuclear development program and its refinement of missile technology, which the U.S., Israel and many other nations believe are the cornerstones of an eventual nuclear weapons program. Hours after Ahmadinejad's speech, the French Foreign Ministry said it viewed the announcement of the rocket launch with "great concern."
Iran insists that its nuclear program is meant for peaceful civilian purposes only. Officials say their nation's missile program is meant to defend it in the face of threats by Israeli officials to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities to protect the Jewish state, which fears the creation of weaponry by Iran that could be used against it. Ahmadinejad has repeatedly called for Israel's destruction.
A March 16 report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies suggested that Israel could overcome the political complications of flying fighter jets and bombers over third-country airspace to launch an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities by instead firing ballistic missiles at the sites.
A report published Tuesday by a U.S. think tank said Iran was technologically at least six years away from developing a deliverable nuclear missile, though it could create a nuclear device within a year if it kicked out international inspectors, withdrew from its treaty obligations and further refined its enriched uranium.
Ahmadinejad's rocket announcement upstaged news that the Guardian Council, a powerful body of clerics and jurists, had approved the candidacies of three powerful rivals against him in the upcoming presidential vote.
Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said the military exercise may have been an effort by Ahmadinejad to bolster his defiant reputation ahead of the poll.
"He wants to divert public attention away from his economic failings and portray himself as a strong leader," Sadjadpour said. "I'm sure Ahmadinejad was hoping for a stronger U.S. reaction which could keep the attention focused on this issue, but the Obama team has so far been wise enough not to take the bait."
Available at: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-iran-missile21-2009may21,0,6407751.story
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday that a nuclear-armed Iran is "going to spark an arms race" in the Middle East.
In an appearance before a Senate Appropriations panel, Clinton reiterated that the Obama administration opposes Iran getting a nuclear weapons capability and that it is relying for now on diplomatic pressure to stop it.
After reports that Iran has conducted a missile test, which was later confirmed by the Pentagon, Clinton said that a wide array of threats, including attempts by terrorists to obtain nuclear weapons, represent a "daunting" challenge for the United States.
The Iranians claimed the test launch was a success and Defense Secretary Gates agreed, saying "It was a successful flight test. The missile will have a range of approximately 2,000 to 2,500 kilometers," reports CBS News correspondent David Martin reports
That's 1,200 to 1,500 miles - more than enough to reach Israel and even parts of Europe, Martin reports. But the Iranians don't yet have a reliable weapon.
"Because of some of the problems they've had with their engines we think at least at this stage of the testing we think it's probably closer to the lower end of that range," Gates said.
At the same time, Iran continues enriching uranium, although not yet to bomb-grade levels. The CIA estimates Iran could have a nuclear weapon sometime between 2010 and 2015. But both the U.S. and Israel have launched covert operations designed to through sand in the gears by supplying faulty parts or designs, Martin reports.
Clinton also described a nuclear capability in Tehran as an "extraordinary threat," and said the U.S. goal is "to persuade the Iranian regime that they will actually be less secure if they proceed with their nuclear weapons program."
The secretary said she did not expect there would be any significant progress in getting Iran to enter into discussions on incentives to abandon a nuclear program at a time when there is a campaign there for the presidency.
"Our goal is to persuade the Iranian regime that they will actually be less secure if they proceed with their nuclear weapons program," Clinton told the Senate panel headed by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
She said that while there is a lot of discussion about timetables, "the goal is the same: a nuclear armed Iran with a deliverable weapon system is going to spark an arms race in the Middle East" and the greater region.
"That is not going to be in the interest of Iranian security," Clinton added. "At the same time, we see a growing recognition among a group of countries that they do not want to see this reality take place."
She said that she didn't know when the U.S. might "see some openness and some willingness to engage on this very important issue," but likely not during Iran's election season. "But we are going to pursue our diplomatic efforts," Clinton said.
Earlier Wednesday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran test-fired a new advanced missile with a range of about 1,200 miles, capable of reaching Israel and U.S. Mideast bases.
The announcement comes less than a month before Iran's presidential election and just two days after President Barack Obama declared a readiness to seek deeper international sanctions against Tehran if it did not respond positively by year-end to U.S. attempts to open negotiations on its nuclear program.
U.S. officials are hoping for a more moderate government after elections in June. But the real powers in Iran are the mullahs and they aren't up for election, Martin reports.
Analysts said the launch was likely intended for domestic consumption ahead of the June 12 elections, rather than a message to the U.S., which has criticized Iran's past missile launches as stoking instability in the Middle East.
"But I don't think the Obama administration and other nations will look at this as a constructive sign," said Patrick Clawson, deputy director for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
"Iran's long range missile test is not only provocative, but it puts both President Obama and the Security Council in a difficult position," said CBS News Foreign Affairs Analyst Pamela Falk from the U.N. "After three rounds of sanctions that have not worked, the best hope for a peaceful settlement continues to be for Iran to negotiate its way back to an inspections program."
"With Iran's election in less than a month, the situation might change," added Falk. "But Israel's new Prime Minister is pressing for more U.N. sanctions and Iran's current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is more defiant than ever."
Available at: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/05/20/world/main5027428.shtml
1. India Test Fires Nuclear-Capable Missile Agni-II
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The surface-to-surface ‘Agni-II’ missile was fired from Wheelers Island in the eastern state of Orissa as a trial by the army, the official. The area is 100 miles north of Bhubaneshwar, the capital of Orissa state.
The missile can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads weighing up to 2,200 pounds, the official said.
India’s current crop of missiles are mostly intended for confronting neighbouring archrival Pakistan, but the Agni-II can put areas in southern China within a striking range, said Rahul Bedi, a defence analyst with Jane’s Defense Weekly, a weekly magazine reporting on military affairs.
Available at: http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/world/07-india-test-fires-nuclear-capable-missile-agni-ii-ha-07
Efforts must be consolidated and a detailed study must be conducted before any decision is made regarding peaceful nuclear energy applications in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), said an Omani Foreign Ministry official yesterday. Professor Hajji Suleiman Sharif, the director of the Peaceful Nuclear Technology Bureau, said in a press release that delegates at the eighth meeting of the GCC team responsible for monitoring detailed studies on applications of peaceful nuclear energy, which concluded here yesterday, had called for consolidating GCC efforts in research in this area.
He said that there were many technical, scientific, political and economic issues of relevance that need to be looked into, adding that the team had agreed to boost its efforts in the period up to the end of 2009. Sharif said that a number of detailed studies had to begin within the next three months and would be completed as soon as possible, while emphasizing the importance of coordination and cooperation between the GCC and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on studies into the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Moreover, he said, the team members had established a timeline for all the necessary training, seminars and workshops which need to be held before the end of the year, thus creating a basis upon which experts and specialists could contribute to decision-making in this area. The team's eighth meeting began in the Omani capital on Tuesday. The GCC member states are working to make peaceful nuclear energy available for electricity production purposes.
Available at: http://www.kuwaittimes.net/read_news.php?newsid=NjE1OTA2Mjc1
2. U.S. Lawmakers Reject Nuclear in Renewable Power Goal
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U.S. lawmakers pushing to include greater recognition for existing nuclear power in a national renewable energy standard failed to win new breaks for the industry when a U.S. congressional panel on Wednesday voted down an amendment to a controversial climate change bill.
The sweeping bill, which seeks to cap greenhouse gas emissions, includes a renewable energy mandate that would require utilities to generate 15 percent of electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2020.
Under the legislation sponsored by Democratic Representatives Henry Waxman and Edward Markey, utilities' renewable mandate would be reduced in proportion to the portion of any electricity sales from new nuclear plants, but not existing nuclear plants.
Republican Representative Cliff Stearns of Florida, who offered the failed amendment, said the measure would have helped states meet the renewable electricity standard with a source that has no carbon emissions.
Waxman argued that the bill was not discriminating against nuclear power, but that nuclear was not renewable energy because it requires uranium, a limited resource. Also, he said the renewable standard was aimed at promoting new power sources and technology.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee is in its third day of debate of a nearly 1,000-page climate change bill, which seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.
The panel approved a measure that would require the State Department and U.S. Trade Representative to annually prepare and publicize a report on whether China and India have adopted greenhouse gas emission reduction programs as stringent as those found in the United States.
An amendment requiring the Energy Department to develop rules for enforcing any national energy efficiency building code established through this legislation was also approved.
Republicans have blasted the legislation, warning that it could drastically curb the United States' economic growth by making U.S. companies less competitive internationally with countries such as China and India that will likely not have strong climate change regulations.
"A cap and trade program will never be made to work in an economy as diverse and complex as the United States. It's just not possible. It's going to cost a lot of money and a lot of jobs," Republican Representative Joe Barton of Texas told reporters on the sidelines of the hearing.
A poll conducted by Reuters found that Democrats have the votes to get the climate legislation passed by the committee. Of the 59 members on the House committee, 30 lawmakers, all of them Democrats would definitely vote "yes" or were likely to support the bill, according to the survey.
Barton predicted, however, that the Waxman-Markey bill would not make it into law.
"This cap and trade exercise that we're about to engage in, is an exercise in futility on their side. Even if they muscle it out of committee, it's not going anywhere."
The heart of the historic bill would set up a system limiting carbon dioxide and other pollutants by gradually reducing the amount of greenhouse gases that utilities, steelmakers, oil refineries and other companies can emit. Businesses would be required to acquire an ever-decreasing number carbon pollution permits.
A separate report from the Energy Information Administration on Wednesday said U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels fell by 2.8 percent in 2008, the largest drop since the agency began reporting greenhouse gases. The agency said high oil prices and the slowing economy were factors in the decline.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/GCA-GreenBusiness/idUSTRE54J62N20090520?rpc=401&
3. Kazakhstan Studies Plan to Host Nuclear Fuel Bank
Xinhua News Agency
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Kazakhstan is still studying the plan to host the international nuclear fuel bank in its territory,Timur Zhantikin, chairman of the Kazakh Atomic Energy Committee, was quoted as saying on Monday by Interfax News Agency.
Kazakhstan is studying technical details to host the international nuclear fuel bank and discussing the bank's location, Zhantikin said in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan.
He believed that once the technical feasibility of the plan is proved, Kazakhstan will offer to host the international nuclear fuel bank to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Zhantikin emphasized at the same time that ensuring the ecological and environmental security of Kazakhstan will be the principal concern in formulating the program for building the international fuel bank.
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said on April 6 in Astanathat, if the international community needs to set up a bank for the nuclear fuel, Kazakhstan could consider hosting such a depository.
Kazakhstan had earlier approached the U.S. on hosting the international nuclear fuel bank in its territory, so that nations that renounce nuclear weapons could purchase fissile fuels for peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-05/18/content_11397532.htm
As Hideo Hiraoka pushes to persuade leaders at the United Nations to advocate a nuclear-free Northeast Asia, he still remembers his first encounter with nuclear devastation at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum decades ago.
"That was my original starting point," the 55-year-old executive director of the Democratic Party of Japan's Nuclear Disarmament Group said on the sidelines of a recent meeting to prepare for the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference.
As a 12-year-old he was "very shocked" by the images of death and destruction he saw.
Hiraoka, a DPJ member in the House of Representatives, recalled the horrific nightmares that followed once he returned home to nearby Yamaguchi Prefecture. The explosion left another imprint on his life when he learned about the secondary radiation exposure to his father, then a noncommissioned officer in the Imperial Japanese Army.
Hiraoka, considered a "second-generation A-bomb survivor," said the experiences and his pledge to prevent history from repeating itself have shaped his career path.
"These are the weapons that must never be used. We, as human beings, whose civilizations have overcome countless crises, now have a responsibility to abolish this hell of our own invention," he said in a recent speech in New York. "As a Japanese lawmaker, I deeply feel a special responsibility to work hard for this cause."
Hiraoka is not only speaking out against the existence of nuclear weapons, but also lobbying other parliamentarians, U.N. diplomats, members of civil society groups and nongovernmental organizations to prevent further proliferation.
While speaking as a panelist and attending conferences, the soft-spoken Hiraoka has rallied hard to promote a plan to make Northeast Asia nuclear-free.
The plan calls for North Korea, Japan and South Korea to conclude a treaty to establish nuclear weapons-free zones, which would ban the development and possession of nuclear weapons by the three nations. It also calls on the United States, China and Russia not to launch or threaten to launch nuclear attacks against the three Northeast Asian countries.
He unveiled details of a draft treaty at the international body last week.
Other nuclear-free zones exist to cover Antarctica, Latin America and the Caribbean, the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, Africa, Central Asia and Mongolia, the sea bed and outer space. The Japanese public first learned about the draft last August on the eve of the 63rd anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing. But the ideas were new to many of the international participants attending the meeting, which ends Friday after two weeks of deliberations.
Called the "three plus three nations arrangement," the plan reflects the DPJ's desire to wean Japan away from its reliance on the nuclear umbrella provided by the U.S.
During the interview, Hiraoka indicated that if his party manages to make inroads at the next general election to be held later this year, the arrangement could become the cornerstone of Tokyo's foreign policy.
"We can make progress at the intergovernmental level," he added.
In other public appearances, Hiraoka spoke of recent events, such as the April 5 rocket launch by North Korea. He said that while many believe that Pyongyang is at the root of tension in the area, there are more complex factors at play.
Coupled with Japan's history of colonialism, a sense of distrust "has created thick filters" and "laid the groundwork for regional security problems," Hiraoka explained.
"Given these multifaceted circumstances, with countries in the region perceiving a potential threat in one another, setting up a Northeast Asia nuclear weapon-free zone has critically important implications," he said.
Available at: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20090521a9.html
2. Lugar Praises Removal of Bomb-grade Nuclear Material from Kazakhstan
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U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar praised the cooperation between the United States and Kazakhstan that has led to the removal of more than 160 pounds of bomb-grade nuclear material from Kazakhstan through the National Nuclear Security Administration´s Global Threat Reduction Initiative.
"In 2007, former Senator Sam Nunn and I visited the one of Russia´s best-known nuclear scientific research facilities at Luch, outside of Moscow. We were briefed on the important work that the Global Threat Reduction Initiative was accomplishing with their Russian counterparts. Luch had received four shipments of high-risk nuclear fuel from various locations around the world, including from Latvia, Libya, Germany, and most recently Poland. I have seen GTRI´s work firsthand and I congratulate them on a job well done," Lugar said.
When the Soviet Union collapsed, Kazakhstan emerged as the eighth largest nuclear power in the world. The United States has been working with Kazakhstan since 1993, when the United States first signed implementing agreements with Kazakhstan under the Nunn-Lugar program to secure or remove such materials.
This is not the first time the U.S. has achieved important success in cooperation with the Government of Kazakhstan. In the winter of 1994, the Kazakh government discovered nearly 600 kilograms of highly enriched uranium, enough to make several nuclear weapons. The material was highly vulnerable, and we know that a number of governments and organizations had a strong interest in acquiring it. The Nunn-Lugar program worked closely with the Kazakh Government in a classified mission known as Project Sapphire to ensure that these materials were transported to the United States for safekeeping.
"In 1995, Kazakhstan acceded to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapons state. This was a remarkable achievement that remains an important symbol of international leadership when viewed in the prism of Iran and North Korea´s efforts to circumvent the NPT," Lugar said.
The Nunn-Lugar program also has had significant success in its biological weapons proliferation prevention efforts in Kazakhstan. Strong bilateral cooperation led to the razing of the largest anthrax production facility in the world. The plant, known as Stepnogorsk, was built by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Each piece of equipment involved in the production and weaponization of biological weapons was destroyed, and the structure was bulldozed to the ground. During Lugar´s visit to Astana in 2008, Kazakh leaders agreed to share samples of pathogens and disease strains that could be modified and used to attack civilian populations. The United States and Kazakhstan are now working together to produce antidotes and treatments for these difficult health risks.
Lugar has annually visited Russia, Kazakhstan or other former Soviet states to oversee the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program since its inception in 1991. The program has provided U.S. funding and expertise to help the former Soviet Union safeguard and dismantle its enormous stockpiles of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, related materials, and delivery systems. In 2003, Congress adopted the Lugar-initiated Nunn-Lugar Expansion Act, which authorized the Nunn-Lugar program to operate outside the former Soviet Union to address proliferation threats. In 2004, Nunn-Lugar funds were committed for the first time outside of the former Soviet Union to destroy chemical weapons in Albania. In 2007, Lugar announced the complete destruction of Albania´s chemical weapons.
The Nunn-Lugar scorecard now totals 7,514 strategic nuclear warheads deactivated, 752 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) destroyed, 498 ICBM silos eliminated, 143 ICBM mobile launchers destroyed, 633 submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) eliminated, 476 SLBM launchers eliminated, 31 nuclear submarines capable of launching ballistic missiles destroyed, 155 bomber eliminated, 906 nuclear air-to-surface missiles (ASMs) destroyed, 194 nuclear test tunnels eliminated, 433 nuclear weapons transport train shipments secured, upgraded security at 24 nuclear weapons storage sites, and built and equipped 18 biological monitoring stations.
Available at: http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/103175
3. Russia, Allies Fear Terrorists May Get Hold of Pakistani Nuclear Weapons
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Russia and other member-countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization have serious worries that terrorists will get access to nuclear weapons in Pakistan, the Interfax news agency reported on Wednesday quoting deputy head of the Russian Security Committee Vladimir Nazarov.
“The situation in Pakistan becomes more and more dangerous. The area that is under the authorities’ control is shrinking and the country possesses nuclear weapons. We all, and first of all the SCO have justified concern that those weapon can fall into the terrorists’ hands,” Nazarov said.
Pakistan’s program for developing and producing its own nuclear weapons started in the early 1970s as a reply to a similar program in India. According to latest estimation by US intelligence, Pakistan possesses up to 100 nuclear charges.
On Monday, the head of the US Central Intelligence Agency told reporters that the US does not know the location of all of Pakistan's nuclear weapons but is confident there are "pretty secure" measures to keep them out of terrorists' hands.
Available at: http://www.mosnews.com/themes/2009/05/20/pakistan/
4. US, Russia End First Round of High-Stakes Nuclear Talks
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The United States and Russia on Wednesday concluded the first round of talks aimed at replacing a landmark Cold War-era nuclear disarmament treaty before it expires in December.
Negotiators met behind closed doors to discuss a successor to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), in high-stakes talks whose outcome could have far-reaching implications for global security.
The initial two-day negotiating session went in "business-like and constructive atmosphere," the Russian foreign ministry spokesman said, adding that the next round would take place in Geneva on June 1-3.
"The sides discussed a wide range of issues involved in preparing the future accord, as well as a possible outline of the report on the talks which is due to be presented to the presidents of both countries in July," the spokesman said.
The Russian foreign ministry said earlier that both sides had agreed to stay quiet about the talks, which are expected to be difficult as negotiators seek to reach a deal before START expires on December 5.
The effort to replace the 1991 treaty is a central element of US President Barack Obama's plan to "reset" badly strained ties with Russia.
Productive negotiations could boost Obama's vision of a world free of atomic weapons and help set the stage for a summit in July when Obama travels to Moscow to meet Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
Reflecting the difficulties facing negotiators, however, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that the final treaty needed to take missile defence into account.
His comments appeared aimed at US plans to install elements of a global missile shield in eastern Europe which have angered Moscow and threaten to undermine the START negotiations.
"The general principle of the treaty should be the equal security of both sides and the preservation of parity in the sphere of strategic stability," Lavrov told reporters in Moscow.
"This cannot be guaranteed without taking into account the situation in the sphere of missile defence or the deployment of weapons systems in space, as well as plans to create non-nuclear warheads," he added.
Moscow has consistently demanded that a final agreement must encompass the missile defence issue, include a ban on weapons in space and place limits on strategic missiles armed with conventional warheads.
Washington has resisted including these issues on the agenda for the START talks. The United States also says the missile shield is no threat to Russia and is instead meant to protect against Iran.
Talks on finding a successor to START made little progress under Obama's predecessor, former US president George W. Bush, and many stumbling blocks remain despite a warming of ties under Obama.
Some policy experts have been sceptical that a replacement can be agreed before the treaty expires on December 5.
"The biggest problem on the path to bettering US-Russian relations is the colossal level of political mistrust," said Nikolai Zlobin, the head of the Russia and Eurasia Project at the World Security Institute in Washington.
"Even if it is possible to someday overcome this mistrust, it won't happen soon," he wrote in the Russian state newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta.
START, which is seen as a cornerstone of strategic arms control, led to deep cuts in the US and Russian nuclear arsenals after its signing in 1991.
The US negotiating team in Moscow is led by Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller while the Russian team is headed by Anatoly Antonov, head of the foreign ministry department for security and disarmament.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iuPzXAqPvgygxG8Aw5z_A-2AHrVw
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