Categories
Security

India and the Nuclear Grey Zone

Agni-II missile
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.

Categories
Security Foreign policy

Obama’s Russian Roadblock

Obama and Putin
Obama and Putin at the G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, in June 2012. Photo: US Government/The White House.

MOSCOW – In a recent speech in Berlin, US President Barack Obama reaffirmed his commitment to nuclear disarmament and proposed steps toward achieving that goal. But Russia has made clear that it does not plan to pursue further reductions to its nuclear arsenal any time soon.

In the speech – delivered nearly 50 years after President John F. Kennedy addressed the then-divided city, highlighting the value of arms control between adversaries – Obama announced that the United States is prepared to cut its nuclear arsenal by up to one-third. He also proposed major reductions in the number of tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs) deployed in Europe. Moreover, he called upon the international community to renew its efforts to prevent Iran and North Korea from developing nuclear weapons; to bring theComprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and the proposed Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty into force; and to make nuclear energy safer.

Categories
Security Foreign policy

How United Is the Arab Front?

Arab stone design, courtesy of Eusebius@Commons/flickr

The Arab community has always publicly supported its Muslim counterparts. As a result there is an alliance among these states in opposition to Israel and the occupation of Palestine. However, it appears that behind the facade of Arab unity lies a game of dirty politics, where each state acts in self-interest often in contrast to the projected image of unity and loyalty.

A recent article by The Times publicized Saudi Arabia’s green light to Israel to use its air space to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities.  This is surprising as it pits Muslim states against each other openly and brings the reality of Arab loyalty into question.

In order to attack Iran’s nuclear sites, Israel has the choice of three routes. The northern route involves passing the Syrian-Turkish border. The central route goes over Jordan and Iraq, while the third southern route goes through Saudi Arabia and Iraq or Kuwait. So let’s assess where these Middle Eastern states stand.

Categories
Security

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.