The CSS Blog Network

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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ISN Weekly Theme: Environmental (In)Security

Environmental insecurity takes a human toll on this Darfuri refugee family, photo: HDPT CAR/flickr

This week the ISN examines the evolving concept of security in relation to the profound environmental challenges of the 21st century – concluding that international policymakers must address the complex interplay between resource scarcity and violent conflict with a clarity of vision and cultural sensitivity.

This ISN Special Report contains the following content:

  • An Analysis by UNDP advisor Dr Marwa Daoudy provides an overview of the international policy and academic communities’ reactions to the increasing securitization of natural resources in recent decades.
  • A Podcast interview with ISN founder Professor Kurt Spillmann examines the environmental factors that impact on conflict – concluding that cultural sensitivity and vision are needed for successful resolution.
  • Security Watch stories about the global grab for resources and the tensions that ensue – from the Tajik-Uzbek border to Bangladesh, India and beyond.
  • Publications housed in our Digital Library, including an East/West institute paper on ‘Improving Regional Cooperation on Water’ and case studies on the relationship between oil and conflict from Nigeria to Venezuela.
  • Primary Resources, like the recent European Commission’s paper, ‘Climate Change and International Security.’
  • Links to relevant websites, among them a Global Politics magazine article about the possibility of increased conflict due to climate change-induced resource scarcity and migration.
  • Our IR Directory with relevant organizations, including the Oakland-based Pacific Institute think tank that offers research and policy analysis on issues at the intersection of development, environment and security – with a special focus on water and climate.

Quiet Corruption: Not Just an African Problem

Corruption, quiet and invisible / Photo: xiaming, flickr

The World Bank is pouring old wine into new bottles in a publication on corruption in Africa. The insight that everyday corruption is detrimental to Africa’s development is old wine. The new bottle is “quiet corruption,” a term created “to indicate various types of malpractice of frontline providers (teachers, doctors, inspectors and other government representatives) that do not involve monetary exchange.”

To be fair, the World Bank’s communication strategy is to redirect the media focus from high-profile corruption involving politicians and business leaders to small corruption by civil servants. Such ‘quiet’ forms of corruption includes “absenteeism,” “lower level of effort than expected or the deliberate bending of rules.” However, the claim that “one of the main reasons Africa is lagging behind is the poor service delivery that is a consequence of quiet corruption” is hardly surprising.

Power and Moral Hypocrisy

When it comes to corruption, I find more insightful a recent research article entitled “Power Increases Hypocrisy.” Joris Lammers and Diedrik A Stapel (Tilburg University) along with Adam D Galinsky (Northwestern University) conducted a series of experiments in political psychology. They found that powerful people impose strict moral standards on others but practice less strict moral behavior themselves – a phenomena they call moral hypocrisy (note that the experiments were not conducted in Africa, but with students at a Dutch university). » More

The ISN Quiz: Challenging Education

We challenge you to test your knowledge about education worldwide, part of our theme this week: Challenging Education

[QUIZZIN 11]

Electricity in Nigeria: (Sort of) Off and On

Power outages are a Nigerian norm, photo: Annemiek van der Kuil/flickr

This blog is part of a series of contributions documenting time spent in southern Nigeria to attend a conference and gather data for the targeting energy infrastructure (TEI) project.

In Nigeria, people celebrate when the lights come on. Admittedly, after barely a week in the country I too found myself joining in the collective, nationwide jubilee. The regular power outages throughout the country have created an emotional rollercoaster, whereby the mere act of sitting in a dark room that is at one moment illuminated by nothing more than a few flashlights (most of which are from mobile phones) and then at another buzzing with electricity. It’s nothing short of thrilling.

Yet the thrill soon dissipates in exchange for bewilderment. How can one of the top oil and gas producers in the world be short of energy to power its economy? Unfortunately, the irony doesn’t stop there. While millions of barrels of sweet, easily refined crude oil are shipped out of here daily to feed other economies, domestic fuel shortages have been a common feature in Nigeria. Years of militancy and criminal exploitation aimed at the oil and gas infrastructure in the energy-rich Niger Delta region mean there has been no development of new infrastructure, and overall mismanagement has limited the amount of supplies needed to feed domestic consumption. It wasn’t until last month that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) announced that fuel supplies exceeded national daily consumption rates for the first time in months. Accustomed to such scarcity, I found that most people frequently note when they see a station with short lines.

But the Nigerian civil society (and I would go further, to say African civil society) are extremely powerful, resourceful and innovative. What the state doesn’t provide, the community finds a way to supply. In the case of the energy shortages, Nigerians manage considerably well. For instance, the lively cyber café in Warri (which has become somewhat of a second home for me) is being powered by a generator as I scribble this blog. The actual power went off a long time ago. In fact, stepping outside one finds that the traffic noise is almost overwhelmed by the sounds of generators humming from most businesses. » More

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