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Security Nuclear

Why the Iran Nuclear Deal Still Matters for Europe

Image courtesy of Bundesministerium für Europa, Integration und Äußeres/Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

This article was originally published by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) on 16 January 2019.

Today is the JCPOA’s third birthday – will it have another one?

Three years ago, Iran and global powers implemented the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), curtailing the country’s nuclear weapons programme in exchange for sanctions relief. The deal continues to hang together – but only just. There are growing indications of signatory states’ fatigue and frustration in attempting to prevent the collapse of the JCPOA, following the US withdrawal from it last May. In this climate, it is important for the deal’s stakeholders to remember why it remains valuable:

Categories
Defense Nuclear

Extended (Nuclear?) Deterrence: What’s in a Word?

Image courtesy of DVIDS/Ronald Gutridge

This article was originally published by the ASPI’s The Strategist on 22 January 2019.

Over recent years, a somewhat geeky debate has emerged among the exponents of deterrence and assurance. Although the discussion typically occurs between Americans and nationals of an allied country, it’s overly simplistic to describe it as one between the US and its allies—the divisions aren’t that clear-cut.

The debate is part philosophical and part phraseological. At its core sits a single adjective. Some Americans (including policymakers) say that what the US offers its allies is ‘extended deterrence’. But a number of allied nationals (again, including policymakers) find the phrase underwhelming; they’d prefer that it read ‘extended nuclear deterrence’. And so we come directly to the crux of the argument: the presence or absence of the word ‘nuclear’ in the assurance that the US provides to its allies.

Categories
Security Nuclear

Whence Korean Denuclearization

Image courtesy of US Department of State/Flickr.

This article was originally published by the Pacific Forum on 14 January 2019.

North Korea’s state-owned news agency ran a wire story with tremendous significance just before Christmas, making clear that unilateral denuclearization is not going to happen. As part of a detailed explanation of Pyongyang’s position, it said: “When we refer to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, it, therefore, means removing all elements of nuclear threats from the areas of both the north and the south of Korea and also from surrounding areas from where the Korean peninsula is targeted. This should be clearly understood.” The text also states that “the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula means ‘completely removing the nuclear threats of the U.S. to the DPRK.’”

Categories
Nuclear

Russia’s Approach to the Development of Intermediate-Range Missiles

Image courtesy of Jacob Smith/DVIDS

This article was originally published by the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM) on 14 November 2018.

Russia will present the expected withdrawal of the United States from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Elimination Treaty (INF) as a step forcing a military response from Moscow. Even if the Russian Federation were to violate the INF by deploying new cruise missiles with a range greater than 500 km, the U.S. withdrawal from the treaty creates opportunity to blur responsibility. In the event of divided opinions within NATO, Russia’s position in arms control might be stronger vis-à-vis Europe and, indirectly, the United States. Moreover, Russia will continue expansion of its arsenal of ground-launched missiles.

Categories
Security Nuclear

Paranoia and Defense Planning: Why Language Matters When Talking About Nuclear Weapons

Image courtesy of the White House/Flickr

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 10 October 2018.

The U.S. ambassador to NATO has, when one thinks about it, just one job. No matter who holds the job, the U.S. ambassador to NATO has many priorities, as one would expect for a role that involves dealing with dozens of countries and trying to get them to agree on a coherent defense policy. But one would think that not provoking a nuclear war with Russia would be at the very top of the ambassador’s list of priorities. This seems like a no-brainer, but it helps to focus on the simple things. The United States has a special obligation to be the “adult in the room” and to keep the alliance focused on constructive responses to collective threats.