President Barack Obama talks with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran during a phone call in the Oval Office, Sept. 27, 2013. Photo: The White House.
Iran has a new president, Hassan Rouhani. He speaks eloquently about wanting a rapprochement with the West and of a desire to refrain from developing a nuclear weapons programme. The Obama administration has responded by opening the first serious high level diplomatic engagement with Iran since 1979. The two leaders have even spoken by phone. But, the odds are that this is a waste of time despite Rohani’s insistence that the environment for negotiations is ‘quite different‘ from that of the past.
Any official representative of the Iranian regime cannot be trusted. The regime has frequently used brinkmanship tactics over the nuclear issue for its own benefit. This takes the familiar form of Iran coming to the table when it feels the squeeze of negative attention and/or sanctions. After a period of ‘diplomacy’ Iran then retreats from the talks and goes back to the business of being a pariah state. Meanwhile, an unbroken pursuit of attaining mastery over the nuclear cycle goes on. The goal always has been for Iran to have a nuclear option due to its precarious regional situation in which it is under threat from all directions, including internal. This pattern has repeated itself so often in the last decade that there is no reason to believe Rouhani this time. » More
Agni-II missile. Photo: Antônio Milena/Wikimedia Commons.
India’s status as a military power is underlined by its possession of nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, India’s nuclear weapons program is not permitted under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and New Delhi has elected to remain outside of the formal non-proliferation regime. This ambiguous position has become increasingly accepted by members of the regime, but it represents a challenge for global non-proliferation, because there is no incentive for the country to engage in disarmament or to stem proliferation while this status quo continues. Moreover, India’s place as an accepted nuclear weapons state outside of nuclear regulatory frameworks could significantly impact global non-proliferation efforts. » More
Barack Obama. Photo: Matt Ortega/flickr.
On 19 June, President Obama announced his intention to reduce the number of deployed nuclear weapons by up to a third. Speaking in Berlin, he said ‘So long as nuclear weapons exist we are not truly safe’, while also announcing that the US will work with NATO allies to seek ‘bold reductions’ in both US and Russian tactical weapons in Europe.
He pledged to pursue US ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), and to begin negotiations to end the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons – neither of which has made any headway in the last fourteen years. He also announced that the US will host a Nuclear Security Summit in 2016, following previous successful summits in Washington, DC and Seoul, and the forthcoming 2014 summit in the Netherlands. » More
Soldiers honouring Kim Il-Sung at Mansudae Grand Monument. Photo: gadgetdan/flickr.
In its latest attempt to raise war fever on the peninsula, North Korea has asked foreign embassy personnel to consider evacuating. But the North’s overheated rhetoric is obscuring a real threat posed by its nuclear and missile potential. Its nuclear test on February 12 showed it is on the way to perfecting a compact weapon capable of being mounted on a missile. It now says it will restart its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon to generate plutonium, and will continue enriching uranium for weapons. And it may be moving to test-launch a new missile capable of reaching Japan or possibly Guam.
The nuclear test set off renewed talk in Seoul and Tokyo about nuclear arming of their own, prompting Washington to try to reassure its allies through deterrence. Yet, doing so has done little to make Korea or the region more secure. » More