Article: Nuclear Threats Then And Now

A decision to trim a tree in the Korean demilitarized zone in 1976 escalated into a threat to use nuclear weapons. After a fatal skirmish between U.S. and North…

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FAS Obtains a Copy of U.S. Arms Sales Report

The Arms Sales Monitoring Project has obtained, via the Freedom of Information Act, a copy of the Defense Department’s contribution to the annual “Section 655” report* on U.S. arms…

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DHS updates Ready.gov…sort of.

Earlier this month, The Department of Homeland Security added two new sections to the Ready.gov website, one for people with disabilities and another for seniors. However, when you…

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Is the Department of Homeland Security interested in serving the public or saving face?

We recently received a letter from the Department of Homeland Security asking us to change the graphics on our website ReallyReady.org because they believe we have infringed on their “intellectual property” because we used logos and graphics that were similar to those used on their site, which was, of course, part of the point. Today we announce that we have altered the graphics so that we can focus on the fact that the Department of Homeland Security’s emergency preparedness website ready.gov is inadequate and sometimes misleading and that they should fix it and we have explained how and why.

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MANPADS for Hezbollah?

In the August 9th edition of Jane’s Defense Weekly, Deputy Editor Robin Hughes reveals alleged plans by Iran to supply Hezbollah with “a steady supply of weapons systems,” including Chinese QW-1 and its own Mithaq (or Misagh) man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS). The article cites unnamed western diplomats, who also claim that Iran agreed to provide, “at a later date,” several different types of Russian missiles, including the sophisticated SA-16. Assuming the information is accurate, the missile transfers are significant for several reasons. First, the missiles are a potential threat not only to Israeli military aircraft but also commercial airliners worldwide. Hezbollah has a long history of terrorist attacks against civilian targets. According to Georgetown Professor Daniel Byman, the organization “was perhaps the world’s most active terrorist organization,” and had a hand in several high profile attacks, including the hijacking of TWA flight 847 in 1985 and the bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires in 1994. Its involvement in such acts has waned in recent years, but there is no guarantee that it won’t resume these activities, or retransfer the missiles to terrorists with immediate designs on commercial airliners. Secondly, the transfers violate a nascent but critically important international norm against the transfer of MANPADS to non-state actors, which is codified in resolutions, declarations and agreements adopted by members of several multilateral forums. Some of these agreements explicitly ban the transfer of MANPADS to non-state actors, while others do so indirectly by limiting such transfers to “foreign governments or to agents specifically authorised to act on behalf of a government after presentation of an official EUC certified by the Government of the receiving country.”

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Plutonium Reprocessing: two steps forward, one step back.

The administration has submitted a $250M request to Congress to start work on a plutonium recycling program as part of its Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, or GNEP, proposal. Trying to figure out exactly what the proposal is has been like trying to nail Jell-o to the wall. Whatever criticism is raised, DOE responds that, no, it isn’t quite that. So I was getting a good picture of what GNEP was not but could not figure out what it was.

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Perspective on the Debate on the US-India Nuclear Deal.

Last week the House of Representatives debated and passed the United States and India Nuclear Cooperation Promotion Act of 2006. I think that most of the debate missed what I consider the most important points. First of all, I should emphasize that every Congressman, even those most strongly opposed to the deal, introduced their remarks with praise for India. I have not yet come across any American commentator anywhere who does not feel that it is natural and desirable for the United States and India to have closer ties. I think that one of the great tragedies of the Cold War was that the United States and India seemed early on to have got their wires crossed because of misjudgments on both sides. The one issue on which everyone seems to agree is that India and the United States should be friends. Some of the Congressional comments in fact went a bit overboard. Congressman Davis of Illinois said, “India is a flourishing democracy that seeks to develop its nuclear program for purely peaceful reasons,” which is, of course, patently false—the purely peaceful part—but never mind, it fit the tone of the debate.

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