The CSS Blog Network

ISN Weekly Theme: Iran – Reckless or Rational?

Detail of a carpet depicting Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khāmene’i, photo: youngrobv/flickr

The Islamic Republic’s recent political provocations against the West have left observers wondering: Is such behavior the result of careful calculation or messianic madness?

  • An Analysis by Philip McCrum about Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s fragile hold on power five years after his contested election win.
  • A Podcast interview with Dr John Mueller on the Iranian nuclear threat – or lack thereof.
  • Security Watch articles on Iran’s struggling Jewish community, the nuclear question and much more.
  • Publications housed in our Digital Library, including recent US Congressional Research Service analyses on US foreign policy toward a nuclear hungry Iran.
  • Primary Resources, including last week’s joint declaration By Iran, Turkey and Brazil on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.
  • Links to relevant websites, such as the ArmsControlWonk blog published by Dr Jeffrey Lewis of the New America Foundation.
  • Our IR Directory, featuring the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University.

Change in US Nuclear Policy?

CSS Analysis no 74: "Obama's Nuclear Policy: Limited Change"

CSS Analysis no 74: “Obama’s Nuclear Policy: Limited Change”

One year after Obama’s Prague speech, has the announced change in nuclear policy actually taken place?

In a newly published policy brief, CSS senior researcher Daniel Möckli assesses the practical results achieved by the Obama administration so far.

On the plus side, he argues, Obama has succeeded in reintroducing nuclear disarmament to the international agenda. But domestic factors, alliance policy, and strategic considerations limit the scope for major turns in US policy.

According to Möckli, neither a sustainable reinforcement of the non-proliferation regime nor substantial progress in multilateral arms control are in the offing.

The publication can be downloaded here.

China’s Nuke Storage Site Revealed

Chinese soldiers in Beijing / Photo: Luther Bailey, flickr

When it comes to the stockpiles of the world’s nuclear-armed states, China is among the most secretive of them all. This is what made the 12 March publication of a report on China’s Nuclear Warhead Storage and Handling System by Mark Stokes, executive director of the Washington-based Project 2049 Institute, an Asia-focused think-tank – all the more remarkable. Through “authoritative sources, correlation of reliable data, and analysis,” Stokes identifies not only where China keeps its nuclear weapons, but how (and how well) they are protected from accident and attack.

Stokes writes that the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Military Commission “maintains strict control over China’s operational nuclear warheads through a centralized storage and handling system managed by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Second Artillery.” In peacetime, warheads are managed through a system that is “separate and distinct” from PLA Second Artillery missile bases as well as apart from China’s system for keeping tabs on its civilian-use fissile materials. In addition, he says, the Second Artillery appears to control and manage nuclear warheads that could be used by the PLA’s air force and navy.

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Strategic Trends 2010: Key Developments in Global Affairs

Strategic Trends 2010 – The Center for Security Studies (CSS)

The Center for Security Studies (CSS) has released the inaugural publication, Strategic Trends 2010. Offering a concise annual analysis of major developments in world affairs, Strategic Trends’ primary focus is international security.

Along with the publication, the CSS has also launched the website Strategic Trends Analysis, where you will find both Strategic Trends and the complementary policy brief series CSS Analysis in Security Policy. The website also features graphics, audio and video podcasts, and a discussion forum on current security issues. You can also sign up for the Strategic Trends newsletter to learn about new publications.

Last year was noted as a year of crisis by our in-house policy experts, but 2010 remains a highly uncertain period for recovery. This is not only relates to economics, but broader security threats.

Geoeconomic shifts eastward, energy security, nuclear proliferation, a crisis of political conflict management, and US approaches toward South Asia and the Middle East will be most critical challenges hitting international headlines in 2010.

Sitting at the heart of these policy dilemmas remains a lack of effective global governance. We were presented with formidable challenges in 2009. This year, novel ideas have either been lacking or proven politically impossible to implement. With power gradually shifting from the West to the East, finding effective solutions to global governance questions will become ever more complex.
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NPT Review Conference / Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

CSS Analyses

CSS Analyses in Security Policy

The Center for Security Studies has just published two new policy briefs:

    • Oliver Thränert analyzes the main issues to be discussed at the May 2010 Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). According to him, the challenges of the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs make it difficult to achieve agreement. He also point out to the discord among state parties over whether to
      prioritize non-proliferation or disarmament.

  • Stephen Aris examines the role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Central Asia. He argues that it is not as anti-western as you would think. Taking into account the growing importance of the SCO to the region, he writes, the West should not exclude a priori the idea of selective cooperation with the SCO on common security interests.
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