Two powerful forces are spinning away simultaneously in Iran: the social unrest stemming from the country's disputed presidential election, and thousands of high-tech centrifuges that are busy producing nuclear material.
The Obama administration's dilemma here is simple. Those centrifuges are likely to reach critical mass faster than the protesters in the streets. In a nutshell, that's why the administration's offer to talk with Tehran remains on the table despite the international outcry over the Iranian election.
That dilemma was put into stark relief Friday by a sermon from former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, which may become a milestone in Iran's post-election unrest. Mr. Rafsanjani, an ayatollah and an iconic figure in the history of Iran's Islamic revolution, criticized both the June election and the government's reaction to the ensuing protests, implying that his nation's current leaders have lost the faith of their citizens. (See related article.)
In one fell swoop, that kept the protest movement alive despite a police crackdown; showed that the split in Iran's clerical ranks over the supposed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is deep; and opened the door to all sorts of intriguing regime-change possibilities. The sermon also instantly sent demonstrators back into the streets. Another flashpoint looms in early August, when Mr. Ahmadinejad is to be sworn in for his second term.
Yet from the West's perspective, the problem is that the time needed to somehow effect change in Iran's government, or even its behavior from the street up, is likely to be long -- and, unfortunately, longer than the time needed to amass a worrisome amount of nuclear material.
The International Atomic Energy Agency last month reported that some 5,000 centrifuges now are working in Iran, churning out low-enriched nuclear fuel, while another 2,000 or so could soon join them. Those centrifuges don't produce nuclear material sufficiently enriched to produce an atomic bomb, and Iran insists the material is for civilian power production. But it can be the building block for weapons if further enriched.
The Institute for Science and International Security, a nonpartisan technical organization overseen by former IAEA inspector David Albright, estimates that at current production rates, Iran could accumulate enough low-enriched uranium to serve as feedstock for two nuclear weapons by the end of next February. It's still a leap from there to actually producing a weapon, and U.S. government specialists think Iran remains anywhere from one to three years away from being able to make a nuclear bomb.
Still, time isn't on the side of the West, and there is little reason to think political ferment in Iran will, in the short run, change the arc of its nuclear program. "The bottom line is that their laboratories are probably working 24/7," says Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, which last week hosted a major speech by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "So we don't have the luxury of waiting for a government we like until we approach them."
Thus, administration officials argue that if a central reason to open a dialogue with Iran was to test whether there was a way to negotiate Tehran off its current nuclear path, the need to test that hypothesis has hardly receded. If anything, the urgency has intensified. "We remain ready to engage with Iran, but the time for action is now," Mrs. Clinton said in last week's speech. "The opportunity will not remain open indefinitely."
The danger now, though, is that a diplomatic outreach to Iran has the potential to lend Mr. Ahmadinejad and his government legitimacy at a time when it is being questioned by Iranians themselves. So the trick is to open a line to the Iranians generally without seeming to bless the besieged president.
There are a couple of ways to do that. The most likely is to talk to the Iranians within the "P5 plus one" international group -- which consists of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany -- rather than directly. The administration said before the Iranian election that it envisioned starting a dialogue by taking part in meetings that group might hold with Iranian officials.
One senior administration official notes that Iran has said recently it will bring new ideas to the P5 plus one group on how to deal with its nuclear program. That hasn't happened yet, so in a sense the ball is in Iran's court.
The other option is to explicitly open channels to Iranian leaders other than Mr. Ahmadinejad. The U.S. could aim either below to the foreign minister or above to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini, the country's ultimate power source.
In any case, Mr. Haass suggests moving quickly to find out whether the Iranians will accept a "ceiling" on their nuclear activity. If the answer is no, he says, the U.S. then can move at the Security Council in September to seek tougher international sanctions on Iran. In any case, that sound diplomats will hear in the background is the whirling of Tehran's nuclear centrifuges.
Available at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124813286163066807.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
2. IAEA Inspection in Iran Proceeding Smoothly: Ambassador
Xinhua News Agency
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Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said IAEA inspection in Iran is continuing without any obstacles, the official IRNA news agency reported on Sunday.
"IAEA activities in Iran, in the presence of inspectors and controlling systems, proceed without any delay or problems," Soltanieh told IRNA in Vienna on Saturday.
Rejecting a report by Associated Press that Iran has created obstacles for IAEA inspections in Iran, he underlined that regular inspections, especially in Natanz, are in progress, IRNA said.
The West suspects that Iran's nuclear program is intended for nuclear weapons. But Iran claimed that it is for peaceful purposes only.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-07/19/content_11733932.htm
3. New Iranian Nuclear Head Urges Mutual Trust With West
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Iran's newly-appointed nuclear energy chief is calling for an end to hostilities between his country and the West, and renewed efforts to build trust.
Iranian government TV says that the country's new nuclear energy chief, Ali Akbar Salehi is urging the West to end hostilities with Tehran and to start building trust.
"Legal and technical discussions about Iran's nuclear case have finished," he insists, "and there is no room left to keep this case open."
"We hope," he added, "that more efforts will be made [by the West] to obtain mutual confidence, instead of the last six years of hostility."
They were Salehi's first comments to the media, since being appointed by President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, Friday, following the resignation of veteran nuclear negotiator Gholam Reza Aghazadeh.
The soft-spoken Salehi was educated at the American University of Beirut and holds a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Salehi is Iran's former envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency and signed a protocol allowing for freer inspections of Iran's nuclear sites. His appointment appears to be something of a gesture to the U.S.
Neither the U.S., nor the other members of the so-called Group of five-plus-one, including the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany, however, are likely to agree with Salehi about the closure of Tehran's nuclear file.
U.S. President Barack Obama warned Tehran, during the G-8 summit in Italy, that the world is giving it until September to comply with U.N. resolutions over its controversial nuclear program.
Iran has persistently refused to stop enriching uranium, and the West fears that it will use highly enriched uranium to build atomic weapons.
The Iranian government, however, continues to insist that its nuclear program is intended for peaceful, civilian purposes, alone.
Iran analyst Meir Javedanfar of the MEEPAS (Middle East Economic and Political Analysis) center in Tel Aviv argues that Tehran is hardening its position over its nuclear dossier, in response to Western criticism over its violent crackdown against its own people following the June 12 presidential elections.
"I think Ayatollah Khamenei is sending the message that the more we are pushed on other fronts, the more we're going to adjust the balance in our favor, and one area is the nuclear program, because Khamenei knows how important the nuclear program is to the West, especially to President Obama," he said.
"So, I think this is kind of a backlash against what Iran sees as Western interference in its own affairs. I also think that the Iranian government still sees the West as divided and there's not much the West can do at the moment to stop Iran's nuclear program, so they're toughening their policy and they want to see what the reaction will be, if the reaction is going to be hard or if the West is going to come up with an even [better] offer," he added.
Javedanfar, however, believes that those who are seeking a compromise with Iran should not despair completely, because Iranian leaders are pragmatists, and may at the end of the day be ready for an agreement.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Motaki said one week ago that Tehran was preparing to present a "new package" of proposals, concerning what he called "international, security and political issues," to the West for talks.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has also warned the West that Tehran would weigh their criticism over its crackdown on protesters following the June 12 election, in assessing future relations with their countries.
Available at: http://www.voanews.com/english/2009-07-18-voa13.cfm
1. Seoul Reaffirms Massive Aid for Nuclear-Free N Korea
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South Korea has reaffirmed its offer of massive economic aid for impoverished North Korea if it scraps its nuclear weapons, officials said on Tuesday.
Chief nuclear negotiator Wi Sung-Lac and Rhee Chang-Young, vice chairman of the Financial Services Commission, briefed foreign investors on the plan last week at a video conference hosted by banking giant Goldman Sachs.
It was first proposed by incoming President Lee Myung-Bak 17 months ago as part of his “Denuclearisation, Openness, 3000” policy.
This pledges to raise the North’s gross domestic income to 3,000 dollars in a decade if it scraps its atomic arsenal, through a proposed international aid fund of 40 billion dollars and other major assistance projects.
The communist North has angrily rejected the “Vision 3,000” initiative because it is linked to denuclearisation.
But the plan has attracted renewed attention since the US administration announced a “two-track” strategy on the North — tough enforcement of sanctions and an attempt to lure Pyongyang back to the bargaining table.
Wi, quoted by Yonhap news agency, said various ideas were discussed at last week’s video conference to help North Korea, but only on condition it scraps its atomic weapons.
He was speaking in the Thai resort of Phuket, where the ASEAN Regional Forum on security is being held this week.
Kurt Campbell, assistant US secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs, said during a visit to Seoul which ended Monday that the United States and its negotiating partners are preparing a “comprehensive package” of incentives.
“If North Korea is prepared to take serious and irreversible steps (towards denuclearisation) the US, South Korea, Japan, China and others will be able to put together a comprehensive package that would be attractive to North Korea,” he told reporters.
“But in this respect, North Korea really has to take some of the first steps.”
Six-nation nuclear disarmament talks grouping the two Koreas, China, Japan, the US and Russia began almost six years ago but got bogged down last December.
After the United Nations Security Council censured its April 5 long-range rocket launch, the North announced it was quitting the talks and restarting its atomic weapons programme.
It staged its second nuclear test on May 25, prompting the Council to adopt a resolution imposing tougher sanctions.
Available at: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/displayarticle.asp?xfile=data/international/2009/July/international_July1569.xml§ion=international&col
2. Clinton Heads to SE Asia for NKorea, Myanmar Talks
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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton headed to Thailand on Tuesday for a regional security conference expected to focus on the North Korean nuclear threat, Myanmar's rights record and terrorism.
Following a five-day visit to India, Clinton left New Delhi for Bangkok, where she will meet Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, before heading Wednesday to the island of Phuket for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum (ARF).
State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said Clinton's talks with Abhisit would focus on "cooperation on climate change and counter-terrorism, regional security, and Thailand's leadership role as ASEAN chair."
US officials said a key thrust of her debut appearance at the ARF would be how to crank up the pressure on North Korea to return to multilateral nuclear disarmament talks after its missile and nuclear weapons tests.
They said Clinton will meet one-on-one with her counterparts from South Korea, China, Japan and Russia -- which along with the United States were North Korea's partners in six years of disarmament negotiations.
North Korea withdrew from the talks after the United Nations censured its long-range missile test in April. The showdown with the international community took another turn for the worse when it staged a nuclear test in May.
Pyongyang's foreign minister has declined to attend the security forum, instead sending a roving ambassador to the grouping of 27 nations including the United States and European Union.
The US State Department has been coy on whether Clinton would meet any North Korean delegates in Phuket.
The forum will also face the perennial challenge of Myanmar, which has sparked international outrage by putting pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi on trial over an incident in which an American man swam to her lakeside house.
Myanmar, ASEAN's most troublesome member since joining the bloc in 1997, showed its defiance earlier this month by refusing to allow UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to visit the opposition leader when he visited the country.
Clinton is also expected to discuss the region's economy and joint action on tackling swine flu, and will hold an unprecedented meeting with counterparts from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia to discuss health and environmental issues concerning the Mekong river.
ARF will also tackle terrorism after deadly suicide blasts Friday at two hotels in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, a key ASEAN state that Clinton visited in February on her first overseas tour as secretary of state.
During her visit to New Delhi and Mumbai, Clinton said she had reassured her hosts that President Barack Obama would not only maintain but deepen a "strategic partnership" launched under his predecessor George W. Bush.
Deals were struck paving the way for billions of dollars in exports of civilian nuclear reactors and military hardware to India, but differences of opinion remain between New Delhi and Washington over climate change.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5j1cuyBQ1ggFlWTdK8pVJWwplTybA
The U.S. and South Korea are hatching a "comprehensive" strategy for persuading North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, breaking from the step-by-step process that has seen Pyongyang backtrack on pledges.
Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Kurt Campbell discussed the new strategy with chief South Korean nuclear envoy Wi Sung-lac during talks Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Moon Tae-young said.
The possibility of a new approach came as Pyongyang's isolated communist regime hardened its boycott of international nuclear talks after carrying out its second atomic weapons test and test-firing a barrage of banned missiles in defiance of U.N. sanctions.
Campbell first spoke of the idea Saturday, saying the U.S. and its partners would be prepared to offer a "comprehensive package that would be attractive" to North Korea if it returned to multinational talks aimed at ending its nuclear programs and took irreversible steps to disarm.
South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan told lawmakers Monday that such a package approach would be aimed at resolving all outstanding issues at once by putting all of North Korea's obligations and demands on the table.
Yu did not elaborate but said disarming the North in phases, the approach the talks have pursued so far, is difficult because the North can reverse the steps it has taken.
"We can't repeat the past negotiating pattern" of rewarding North Korea for partial denuclearization steps, ministry spokesman Moon said. "We plan to continue consultations with related countries about a comprehensive solution."
In Washington, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said Monday that the U.S. is willing to do its part if North Korea agrees to resume the nuclear dialogue and take steps toward nuclear disarmament.
"The ball is in North Korea's court," Crowley said, noting that North Korea will pay a significant price unless it returns to talks.
North Korea agreed in February 2007 to disable its nuclear reactor as a step toward its ultimate dismantlement in exchange for energy aid and political concessions.
However, a year ago, Pyongyang halted the process and later abandoned the pact over a dispute on how to verify its nuclear activities - after it had received most of the promised energy aid and concessions, such as removal from the U.S. blacklist of states sponsoring terrorism.
The standoff led to Pyongyang conducting its second nuclear test in May and banned missile tests early this month, provocations which some analysts believed were aimed at drawing the attention of the new U.S. administration.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said U.S. was intentionally playing down the impact of North Korea's nuclear tests.
"We weren't going to give the North Koreans the satisfaction they were looking for, which was to elevate them to center stage," Clinton said in an ABC interview broadcast Monday from India.
The North also quit the talks aimed at ending its nuclear ambitions in April in anger over a U.N. rebuke for launching a long-range rocket. The country's No. 2 leader, Kim Yong Nam, said last week that the nuclear talks are permanently over.
Campbell, at the start of talks with Wi, said: "We need to make sure that we're extremely closely coordinated in a very critical period ahead."
The two also talked about implementing U.N. sanctions punishing Pyongyang for its latest atomic test and getting the communist regime to return to nuclear negotiations, Moon said.
South Korea's coast guard said Monday that it is drawing up guidelines on how to inspect North Korean ships suspected of carrying banned items - a process that is expected to enrage Pyongyang, which has warned it would consider such inspections a declaration of war.
The move to inspect ships is in line with recent U.N. sanctions that clamp down on North Korea's alleged trading of banned arms and weapons-related material, a key source of hard currency for the impoverished nation.
A coast guard official said the guidelines would call for inspecting North Korean ships traveling in South Korean waters if there is concrete evidence they carry banned items. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, did not give details.
A North Korea ship suspected of heading toward Myanmar with banned items on board turned back earlier this month after being trailed by the U.S. Navy as part of the U.N. resolution.
Available at: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/07/20/world/main5176329.shtml
4. New IAEA Head Amano Hopes to Revive Six-Party Process
The Japan Times
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Reviving the six-party talks remains a vital component of the effort to denuclearize North Korea, Yukiya Amano, the next director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Thursday in Tokyo.
But Amano, who earlier this month became the first Asian voted in as head of the nuclear watchdog, noted that the IAEA can only play its role once Pyongyang agrees to allow inspectors to enter its nuclear facilities.
"There needs to be steps forward within the six-party talks on a process for denuclearization," he said in a news conference at the Foreign Ministry, adding that the IAEA is ready to do its job when called upon.
Turning to Iran, Amano acknowledged that Tehran hasn't fully cooperated in the release of information on its nuclear programs and that the agency will continue to push the government for more transparency.
Amano, who has served with the Permanent Mission of Japan to the International Organizations in Vienna since 2005, said nuclear nonproliferation and promoting the peaceful use of atomic energy are two key objectives for the IAEA today.
He said he will continue to push for both with Japan, the only country to have experienced nuclear attacks. He added that Tokyo is ready to provide technological assistance to those who pursue the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Available at: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20090717a6.html
The recent aborted voyage of a North Korean ship, photographs of massive tunnels and a top secret meeting have raised alarm bells that one of the world's poorest nations may be aspiring to join the nuclear club — with help from its friends in Pyongyang. No one expects military-run Myanmar, also known as Burma, to obtain an atomic bomb anytime soon, but experts have the Southeast Asian nation on their radar screen.
"There's suspicion that something is going on, and increasingly that cooperation with North Korea may have a nuclear undercurrent. We are very much looking into it," says David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington, D.C. think tank.
The issue is expected to be discussed, at least on the sidelines, at this week's ASEAN Regional Forum, a major security conference hosted by Thailand. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, along with representatives from North Korea and Myanmar, will attend.
Alert signals sounded recently when a North Korean freighter, the Kang Nam I, headed toward Myanmar with undisclosed cargo. Shadowed by the U.S. Navy, it reversed course and returned home earlier this month.
It is still not clear what was aboard. U.S. and South Korean officials suspected artillery and other non-nuclear arms, but one South Korean intelligence expert, citing satellite imagery, says the ship's mission appeared to be related to a Myanmar nuclear program and also carried Scud-type missiles.
The expert, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said North Korea is helping Myanmar set up uranium- and nuclear-related facilities, echoing similar reports that have long circulated in Myanmar's exile community and media.
Meanwhile, Japanese police arrested a North Korean and two Japanese nationals last month for allegedly trying to export a magnetic measuring device to Myanmar that could be used to develop missiles.
And a recent report from Washington-based Radio Free Asia and Myanmar exile media said senior Myanmar military officers made a top secret visit late last year to North Korea, where an agreement was concluded for greatly expanding cooperation to modernize Myanmar's military muscle, including the construction of underground installations. The military pact report has yet to be confirmed.
In June, photographs, video and reports showed as many as 800 tunnels, some of them vast, dug in Myanmar with North Korean assistance under an operation code-named "Tortoise Shells." The photos were reportedly taken between 2003 and 2006.
Thailand-based author Bertil Lintner is convinced of the authenticity of the photos, which he was the first to obtain. However, the purpose of the tunnel networks, many near the remote capital of Naypyitaw, remains a question mark.
"There is no doubt that the Burmese generals would like to have a bomb so that they could challenge the Americans and the rest of the world," says Lintner, who has written books on both Myanmar and North Korea. "But they must be decades away from acquiring anything that would even remotely resemble an atomic bomb."
David Mathieson of the New York-based Human Rights Watch, who monitors developments in Myanmar, says that while there's no firm evidence the generals are pursuing a nuclear weapons capability, "a swirl of circumstantial trends indicates something in the nuclear field is going on that definitely warrants closer scrutiny by the international community."
Albright says some of the suspicion stems from North Korea's nuclear cooperation with Syria, which now possesses a reactor. Syria had first approached the Russians, just as Myanmar did earlier, but both countries were rejected, so the Syrians turned to Pyongyang — a step Myanmar may also be taking.
Since the early 2000s, dissidents and defectors from Myanmar have talked of a "nuclear battalion," an atomic "Ayelar Project" working out of a disguised flour mill and two Pakistani scientists who fled to Myanmar following the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attack providing assistance. They gave no detailed evidence.
Now a spokesman for the self-styled Myanmar government-in-exile, the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, says that according to sources working with the dissident movement inside the Myanmar army, there are two heavily guarded buildings under construction "to hold nuclear reactors" in central Myanmar.
Villagers in the area have been displaced, said spokesman Zinn Lin.
Andrew Selth of Australia's Griffith University, who has monitored Myanmar's possible nuclear moves for a decade, says none of these reports has been substantiated and calls the issue an "information black hole."
He also says Western governments are cautious in their assessments, remembering the intelligence blunders regarding suspected weapons of mass destruction in Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
A U.S. State Department official, speaking on customary rules of anonymity, said he would not comment on intelligence-related matters such as nuclear proliferation.
"I don't want that to be seen as confirmation one way or the other. Obviously, any time that a country does business with North Korea we're going to watch to see what that is," the official said.
Alarm bells about Myanmar's aspirations have rung before. In 2007, Russia signed an agreement to establish a nuclear studies center in Myanmar, build a 10-megawatt nuclear research reactor for peaceful purposes and train several hundred technicians in its operation.
However, Russia's atomic agency Rosatom told The Associated Press recently that "there has been no movement whatsoever on this agreement with Burma ever since."
Even earlier, before the military seized power, Myanmar sought to develop nuclear energy, sending physicists to the United States and Britain for studies in the 1950s. The military government established a Department of Atomic Energy in 2001 under U Thaung, a known proponent of nuclear technology who currently heads the Ministry of Science and Technology.
Myanmar is a party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and under a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency, it is obligated to let the U.N. watchdog know at least six months in advance of operating a nuclear facility, agency spokesman Ayhan Evrensel said.
Evrensel said the Vienna-based IAEA has asked Myanmar to sign a so-called "additional protocol" that would allow agency experts to carry out unannounced inspections and lead to a broader flow of information about Myanmar's nuclear activities.
The regime has remained silent on whatever its plans may be. A Myanmar government spokesman did not respond to an e-mail asking about Russian and North Korean involvement in nuclear development.
In a rare comment from inside Myanmar, Chan Tun, former ambassador to North Korea turned democracy activist, told the Thailand-based Irrawaddy magazine, "To put it plainly: Burma wants to get the technology to develop a nuclear bomb.
"However, I have to say that it is childish of the Burmese generals to dream about acquiring nuclear technology since they can't even provide regular electricity in Burma," the Myanmar exile publication quoted him last month as saying.
Some experts think the generals may be bluffing.
"I would think that it's quite possible Yangon would like to scare other countries or may feel that talking about developing nuclear technologies will give them more bargaining clout," said Cristina-Astrid Hansell at the California-based James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. "This is not unreasonable, given the payoffs North Korea has gotten for its nuclear program."
Available at: http://www.charter.net/news/read.php?id=15714986&ps=1012&srce=news_class&action=1&lang=en&_LT=HOME_WLNWU00L1_UNEWS&page=1
1. US, Japan Agree to Set Up Official Talks on Nuclear Deterrence
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The United States on Saturday agreed with Japan to set up an official talks on ways to boost the nuclear deterrence it provides to protect Tokyo as tensions continue with North Korea, a senior official said.
The US delegation -- led by Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, and Wallace Gregson, assistant secretary of defence -- discussed with their Japanese counterparts the situation in North Korea and the Japan-US security alliance, they said in statements.
"Today the US and the Japanese side agreed to set up a special working group that would meet in Washington over the course of several weeks, that would be the first meeting to begin a deep discussion about the elements of nuclear deterrence," Campbell said after the meeting.
"Our goal here is to make a very strong commitment to Japan about the fact that the nuclear deterrence of the United States are extended, the nuclear umbrella remains strong and stable, and our commitment to Japan is absolutely unshakable," he said in an interview with Japanese public broadcaster NHK.
Conservative Japanese politicians have argued that Tokyo should arm itself with nuclear weapons to protect itself against Pyongyang's nuclear threat.
The idea of Japan going nuclear would "not lead to Japan's national interest or the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region," Campbell said in an interview with the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper issued in Japanese on Saturday.
He said he hoped to discuss the possibility of the collapse of the North Korean regime amid its leader Kim Jong-Il's ailing health, NHK said.
"I would just underscore that the United States, Japan, (and) other nations have to be prepared for a variety of scenarios on the Korean peninsula," he told a television footage.
"We are watching developments as they unfold in North Korea vary carefully," he said.
The issue of a so-called "nuclear umbrella" -- when a nuclear power pledges to defend an ally that is not armed with atomic weapons -- is sensitive in Japan, the only country to have suffered an atomic attack.
Washington and Tokyo have long shied from openly discussing the issue.
Japan campaigns for a world free of nuclear weapons but relies on the United States for deterrence as fears mount over North Korea's atomic programme and China's continued stockpiling.
Campbell arrived in Japan on Thursday for talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone and other high-level officials, in his first visit here after being appointed to the senior position under President Barack Obama.
Available at: http://www.spacewar.com/reports/US_Japan_agree_to_set_up_official_talks_on_nuclear_deterrence_999.html
1. DOE Statement on UK Government’s “Road to 2010” Report on Nuclear Security
National Nuclear Security Administration
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Thomas P. D’Agostino, the Department of Energy’s Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, today applauded the British government’s new report on advancing the global nuclear security agenda. Issued yesterday, “The Road to 2010 – Addressing the Nuclear Question in the Twenty First Century” outlines a strategy for addressing the threat posed by the proliferation of nuclear weapons ahead of the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference.
Among other steps, it includes the creation of a UK Center for Nuclear Excellence that will work to secure existing stocks of nuclear material, develop proliferation-resistant civilian nuclear reactor fuels, and improve access to the peaceful use of nuclear energy for countries that play by the rules.
"The ‘Road to 2010’ report is an important contribution to the nuclear security agenda outlined by President Obama and President Medvedev in Moscow and endorsed by the G-8 summit last week in L'Aquila," said D’Agostino. "With nuclear energy playing an increasing role in meeting growing energy demands, it is more important than ever for the international community to act together to reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism. The steps outlined in this report, including the creation of a UK Center for Nuclear Excellence, will be an important vehicle for securing existing stocks of nuclear material, developing proliferation-resistant civilian nuclear reactor fuels and eventually pursuing more effective verification measures for arms control and nonproliferation agreements. As President Obama said, the threat of a terrorist acquiring a nuclear weapon is the single greatest threat facing our nation. The steps outlined in the ‘Road to 2010’ report will help prevent that nightmarish scenario from becoming a reality."
Last week in Moscow, President Obama and President Medvedev signed a Joint Statement on Nuclear Cooperation that outlined critical steps for securing nuclear material worldwide, minimizing the use of highly-enriched uranium (HEU) in civilian applications, accelerating efforts to repatriate HEU fuel to its country of origin, further improving physical protection systems at nuclear facilities, and strengthening the effectiveness of the international safeguards system.
With the largest nuclear nonproliferation program in the world, the Department of Energy’s NNSA plays an important role in implementing that agenda. Through its Second Line of Defense program, NNSA combats illicit trafficking of nuclear materials and radioactive substances by installing radiation detectors at ports, border crossings and points of entry around the world. NNSA’S Global Threat Reduction Initiative works with its international partners to convert HEU reactors to more proliferation resistant LEU reactors and repatriate HEU and LEU to its country of origin.
To improve the security of nuclear weapons and materials at their source, NNSA's Material Protection, Control and Accounting Program provides material protection, control and accounting (MPC&A) upgrades at nuclear sites in Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union.
To help strengthen the international safeguards regime, NNSA's Next Generation Safeguards Initiative is working to develop the policies, concepts, technologies, expertise, and infrastructure necessary to sustain the international safeguards system as its mission evolves over the next 25 years.
Available at: http://nnsa.energy.gov/news/2453.htm
1. Clinton Makes Gains on India Defense Deals, Spars Over Climate
Indira A. R. Lakshmanan
(for personal use only)
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s first trip to India opened the door for $20 billion in U.S. defense and nuclear energy sales, while making little headway on bridging divides over climate change and arms control.
Clinton’s three-day visit -- her longest to any nation as the chief U.S. diplomat -- was billed as an opportunity to upgrade cooperation with the world’s largest democracy and one of its fastest-growing economies.
The two governments established a Cabinet-level “strategic dialogue” on agriculture, trade, energy, education and homeland security, a mechanism designed to “broaden and deepen” ties and encourage India to help solve global problems, Clinton said yesterday.
Most significant among yesterday’s agreements was an accord to monitor the use and any attempted resale of U.S. defense technology and equipment, a requirement under the U.S. Arms Export Control Act of 1996. India’s approval of the provision removed a barrier to American military exports.
Lockheed Martin Corp., based in Bethesda, Maryland, and Boeing Co. of Chicago are among companies competing for $11 billion in fighter-jet orders from India, the largest defense contract in play worldwide.
India also used the final day of the Clinton visit to designate two sites for U.S.-built nuclear power plants in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, part of an agreement negotiated by former President George W. Bush on civilian nuclear power.
GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, a subsidiary of Fairfield, Connecticut-based General Electric Co., and Monroeville, Pennsylvania-based Westinghouse Co., a subsidiary of Tokyo’s Toshiba Corp., would be among the companies bidding for nuclear energy contracts worth at least $10 billion. More than 30 U.S. nuclear-industry suppliers have expressed interest.
Final investment by U.S. nuclear suppliers depends on India ratifying an international treaty, as it has pledged to do, to shield foreign companies from liability in a nuclear accident.
Clinton’s talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna addressed cooperation in counter-terrorism and efforts to encourage neighboring Pakistan to take a harder line on violent extremists.
Krishna said India and the U.S. view each other as global partners.
Iran on Agenda
One issue on their expanding agenda is how to contain Iran’s nuclear program to ensure it isn’t converted to military use. In an interview with India’s NDTV channel, Clinton said she wanted “to understand the perceptions that India has of Iran.”
Some U.S. lawmakers want to target Iranian gasoline imports from India and Europe as a way to bolster sanctions designed to pressure Iran into paring its nuclear ambitions.
For all the talk of commercial and strategic cooperation, Clinton’s visit exposed rifts on issues critical to President Barack Obama’s administration.
A July 19 event intended to showcase cooperation on clean energy technology at a “green” building outside New Delhi spotlighted the debate. The Indian environment minister said India resents demands from the U.S. for adoption of legally binding caps on carbon emissions.
“There is simply no case for the pressure” considering India produces among the lowest per capita emissions in the world and 500 million of its citizens have no access to commercial energy, Minister Jairam Ramesh told Clinton during a closed-door discussion that a reporter was allowed to observe. Ramesh later distributed his remarks to the press.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a climate bill on June 26 that imposes tariffs on exports from countries that refuse to adopt greenhouse gas controls by 2020. Such gases are blamed for a warming global climate.
Clinton assured Ramesh that “no one wants to in any way stall or undermine the economic growth that is necessary to lift millions of more people out of poverty. But we also believe that there is a way to eradicate poverty and develop sustainably that will lower significantly the carbon footprint.”
The public discord showed the delicacy of the Obama administration’s efforts to enshrine legal carbon limits in a United Nations treaty in Copenhagen this December.
Developed nations must provide financial incentives to ensure any deal won’t hinder growth, food security and poverty alleviation, Ramesh said.
In a speech at the University of Delhi yesterday, Clinton called the exchange “incredibly fruitful and vigorous,” adding that “if people aren’t honest with each other,” differences can’t be overcome.
Arms control and nuclear non-proliferation are other points of contention, and there was no evidence the two sides resolved their disagreements.
India, along with Pakistan, Israel and North Korea, has long refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, saying it creates an unfair system by limiting the legal possession of nuclear weapons to the five powers who acquired them before 1967: the U.S., China, Russia, Britain and France.
India has resisted ratifying the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty unless the entire world moves to nuclear disarmament.
Obama has called for major cuts to nuclear arsenals, and the U.S. wants India to do what it can to defuse tensions with China and Pakistan to halt a regional arms race.
Clinton will fly to Thailand today, where she will meet Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and attend Association of Southeast Asian Nations meetings in Phuket.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601080&sid=acDdny9m3ylo
2. US Downplays CTBT Differences Ahead of India Talks on Monday
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Setting the stage for nuclear business with India, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday sought to downplay differences over nuclear issues, saying the two countries can work together for a 21st century non-proliferation regime, but left it to New Delhi to decide its position on signing the CTBT.
"We will work for a 21st century non-proliferation regime. The US will continue to do whatever we can to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)," Clinton, who arrived in New Delhi from Mumbai Sunday afternoon, told NDTV in an interview.
"But I understand long-standing concerns by the Indian government. It's a natural concern," she said.
"What I want to discuss with my Indian counterparts, the PM and others is what can we do together to act against proliferation"" she said.
"...and I have been very impressed by the comments that a number of Indian officials have made about new ways of seeking approaches that we can explore together," Clinton said.
"The Obama administration is trying to get Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) passed by our Congress. And I think that this will be an option of course for the Indian government," she said.
Clinton stressed she will be talking to External Affairs Minister SM Krishna about what the two countries can do together "to prevent the proliferation of the nuclear and other weapons to non-state actors like Al-Qaeda."
Implementing the civil nuclear deal with India and the prospects of nuclear business between the two countries that could run into billions of dollars will be an important theme of the talks on Monday.
India is likely to announce two sites for American nuclear reactors in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh after Clinton's talks with Krishna in New Delhi Monday.
In a separate interview to another news channel after landing in Mumbai on Thursday, Clinton stressed that "the civil nuclear deal stands on its own merit" when she was asked if the nuclear deal will be held hostage to India signing the CTBT.
Clinton also stressed that the US will seek India's help in preventing the proliferation of nuclear technologies to non-state actors and countries like Iran and North Korea.
Available at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/StoryPage.aspx?sectionName=RSSFeed-News&id=d07b440f-7398-404b-878f-69603ac5a464&Headline=US+downplays+CTBT+differences+ahead+of+India+talks+on+Monday
Washington on Monday reassured New Delhi of its commitment to the civil nuclear agreement and clarified that the US was not opposed to transfer of enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) technology to India.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said President Barack Obama’s administration was not opposed to transfer of ENR technology if it was done through “appropriate channels” and under internationally recognised safeguards.
“We have just completed a civil nuclear deal with India. So if it (transfer of ENR technology) is done within the appropriate channels and carefully safeguarded, as it is in the case of India, that is appropriate,” said Clinton, launching the new strategic partnership with India.
She was addressing a joint news-conference with External Affairs Minister S M Krishna at the end of her three-day maiden tour to India as the Secretary of State.
She also reaffirmed the Obama Administration’s commitment to completing “all remaining elements” of the nuke deal with India.
Krishna earlier said that Clinton was “one of the key supporters” of the Indo-US nuke deal, which was “realised through a bipartisan effort in the US Congress and the desire to add qualitative substance” to the bilateral relationship.
Clinton’s words are intended to allay concerns in New Delhi over the recent G8 statement that effectively blocked sale of the sensitive ENR technology from any of the eight members in the grouping to a country that has not yet signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT. India is not among the signatories of the NPT and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and New Delhi maintains that both are discriminatory in nature.
Meeting in Vienna today
Hillary’s assurance came just ahead of the negotiations between New Delhi and Washington on reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. The officials of both countries are set to meet in Vienna on Tuesday to start the negotiations.
Clinton, however, added that Washington was “very much opposed to unauthorised and inappropriate” transfers of nuclear technology and materials that “unfortunately can take place” with the involvement of “certain countries or non-state actors. There is a right way of doing it (transfers of sensitive nuclear technologies) and there is also a very wrong way to do it,” she said.
Though the new regime in Washington was expected to put more pressure on New Delhi to sign the NPT and CTBT, Clinton just said that the United States was “seeking advice and suggestion from India about how we can prevent the unauthorised and dangerous transfer of nuke technology and material that poses a threat to the entire world.”
The visiting United States Secretary of State wrapped up her tour to India with an hour-long meet with External Affairs Minister.
Krishna said that the agenda of parleys reflected the global dimension of Indo-US partnership. “We have created new forums for meaningful dialogue on climate change, disarmament and non-proliferation. We also recognise the importance of ensuring that the steps planned to revive the global economy should safeguard the priorities of sustainable development and the goals of poverty alleviation in the developing world,” he said.
Krishna and Clinton also reaffirmed the unequivocal commitment of both countries to resist the threats to our two democracies from the scourge of terrorism.
Available at: http://www.deccanherald.com/content/14976/us-swears-nuclear-deal.html/
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