Nuclear weapon

Convergent Technologies, Dual-Use Weaponry and the Global Balance of Power

Posted on Updated on

30 June 2014

HMS Edinburgh fires Sea Dart Missile, courtesy of UK Ministry of Defence/flickr
Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic

Convergent and dual-use technologies could match or surpass the capabilities of existing nuclear and conventional arsenals within the next 20 years. For Robert McCreight, the dangers these technologies pose must be taken seriously, especially since states are almost sure to use them.

By Robert McCreight for ISN

As the complexity of advanced technologies continues to increase, hard questions need to be asked about the possibility of dual-use risks that could jeopardize the stability and security of the planet. States with weapons systems that are already highly developed could gain significant advantages from the advent of novel weaponry. Indeed, it is not inconceivable that in 15-20 years advanced dual-use technologies could match, nullify or surpass the capabilities of existing nuclear and conventional arsenals. What implications does this have for international security? Read the rest of this entry »

Iran’s nuclear shell game

Posted on Updated on

The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) presented the satellite images above on Thursday as evidence that Iran is continuing its efforts to destroy evidence of the existence of nuclear weapons development activity at its Parchin military base.

The UN nuclear watchdog stated that “based on satellite imagery, at this location, where virtually no activity had been observed for a number of years, the buildings of interest to the Agency are now subject to extensive activities that could hamper the Agency’s ability to undertake effective verification.”


Western envoys who attended Wednesday’s briefing said that two small side buildings at the Parchin military facility had been removed and ISIS said that they “have been completely razed.”


The disclosure followed inconclusive talks between Iran and six world powers in Baghdad last week to address concerns about the nature of its nuclear activities, which Iran says are aimed at generating electricity. Read the rest of this entry »

Iran News Round Up May 31, 2012

Posted on Updated on

Dr. A.Q. Khan's designed the centrifuges loose...

Dr. A.Q. Khan’s designed the centrifuges loosely based on Zippe-type gas centrifuges. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by Ali Alfoneh, Ahmad Majidyar and Michael Rubin
(E) = Article in English


  • Ahmadinejad addresses newly elected parliamentarians:
    • “The cabinet never intervenes in the work of the legislature… Tomorrow you will enter the parliament and you will appoint the committees. The chairman, deputy and other positions are all within your capability. We believe in this. We do not have an egoistic, politicizing view attempting to recruit and mobilize or to engage in factionalism… There is a division of labor… Why did the revolution take place? Was the purpose to elect some executives from the southern [poorer] parts of town, the villages and distant places to come to live in northern Tehran? When these people came to office, they did not have any money for their daily needs, but they have become billionaires, factory owners and merchants. Was this the purpose of the revolution…? The head of the chief inspectorate does nothing but shouting insults against the cabinet. And when it comes to the parliament, it is not answerable to anyone but God Almighty. This is also apparent in our constitution, which may be a fault… God forbid the day when people say about elected officials: ‘Such a pity; what we wanted and what we get.'”
  • Hojjat al-Eslam Hassan Khomeini, grandson of the founder of the Islamic Republic, says he will not run for president in 2013. He said this while participating at the funeral of brother of Mohammad Mousavi Khoeinihain Tehran

Military and Security

Nuclear Issue

Read the rest of this entry »

Iran says invites UN nuclear agency to visit

Posted on Updated on

English: Flag of the International Atomic Ener...
Image via Wikipedia

The letter, Soltanieh said, renewed an Iranian invitation from October for a team of senior International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials to travel to the country.

“I have also had discussions with the officials of the agency and we are planning for the visit,” Soltanieh said.

Western diplomats tend to see such invitations as attempts by Iran, which is facing tightening sanctions, to buy time and ease international pressure.

Amano has made clear that any new visit to Tehran by senior IAEA officials must address its growing concerns about potential military aims of the nuclear programme, which Iran says is strictly peaceful.

Asked whether Iran would be willing to discuss such issues, Soltanieh said: “We are going to discuss any questions and to work towards removing the ambiguities and resolving the issue.”

A senior Western diplomat earlier said Iran’s offer of talks

included no promise that discussions would cover issues raised in the November 8 IAEA report, which suggested Iran had worked on developing the means to build a nuclear weapon.

“Apparently the Iranians have invited agency officials, but the offer is clearly just part of their amateurish charm offensive,” the diplomat said. There is “no commitment to talk substance … same old movie.”

Western countries seized on the IAEA report last month to ratchet up economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic, one of the world’s largest oil producers. Read the rest of this entry »

Game Change–Five Bold Moves That Could Change World Affairs

Posted on Updated on

From reciprocal nuclear reductions to making nice with Iran, 5 bold moves that could change the world.


What are some potential game-changers in contemporary international diplomacy? By “game-changer,” I mean a bold and risky initiative that fundamentally alters the strategic landscape, creating new possibilities and forcing others to rethink their own positions.

I’m thinking about the kind of bold stroke that the late Michael Handel analyzed in his book The Diplomacy of Surprise: Hitler, Nixon, Sadat. He was interested in how certain leaders launched faits accomplis or other unexpected maneuvers to break out of diplomatic gridlocks. Obvious examples are Richard Nixon’s opening to China, Anwar Sadat’s surprise announcement that he was willing to go to Jerusalem in search of peace, or (less positively) the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop pact that briefly united Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union and helped open the door to World War II. These initiatives often involved advance planning behind the scenes, but they were unexpected at the time and had dramatic effects as soon as they were revealed.

So I’ve been trying to imagine other steps that contemporary world leaders could take that might have equally dramatic effects. This sort of initiative can be risky, of course, and there’s no guarantee that a bold gamble will succeed. With that caveat, here’s a short list of five potential “game-changers,” in no particular order.

AFP/Getty Images

The United States Takes the Military Option “off the Table” with Iran  

For at least a decade, U.S. leaders have repeatedly insisted that all options are “on the table” with Iran. In one sense this is a truism: as long as you have certain capabilities, you always have the option of using them no matter what you’ve said in the past. But constantly harping on the possibility of military action is not a good way to build trust — especially when the opponent is already deeply suspicious. It is also a very good way to convince an adversary that it ought to acquire some means of deterring a serious attack, such as acquiring a nuclear weapon, which is precisely what we don’t want Iran to do. In any event, keeping the military option “on the table” doesn’t appear to have achieved very much thus far.

So what would happen if the Obama administration announced that the military option was “off the table” completely? It could remind everyone that this step did not preclude military action to defend U.S. allies or retaliate against direct attacks on the United States or its forces, but that we were not contemplating any sort of preventive attack on Iran itself, and were going to rely on diplomacy instead. I doubt this would cause a sudden U.S.-Iranian thaw, but it might clear the air somewhat and strengthen the hand of Iranians who recognize that crossing the nuclear threshold may not be in their own interest.

I don’t for a minute think Obama & Co. will do any such thing between now and November 2012 (and probably not afterwards), and I certainly can’t imagine any of the GOP candidates (save Ron Paul) acting along these lines. But that just shows you how little imagination our foreign-policy establishment has these days.

Above, President Obama prepares to deliver a statement on the U.N. Security Council sanctioning Iran over its nuclear program in June 2010.

Roger L. Wollenberg-Pool/Getty Images

Hamas Revises Its Charter  

If you’ve never read the Hamas Charter, it’s worth a quick gander. You’ll find it pretty disturbing. Many experts believe that a lot of its elements (including the explicit rejection of Israel’s legitimacy, etc.) are not a true indication of Hamas’ bottom lines, but, even so, there’s a lot of offensive stuff that has nothing to do with concrete issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians. Case in point: the various references to a global Zionist conspiracy (going back to the French Revolution!), along with positive references to long-discredited anti-Semitic forgeries like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Check out Articles 22, 28, and 32, for example. In addition to making it easier for opponents to justify marginalizing Hamas, such passages make the organization sound out of touch with reality. Read the rest of this entry »

This Week – NATO needs to act on nuclear policy

Posted on Updated on

This week NATO foreign ministers meet (7th & 8th), less than six months before the summit in Chicago. They have a full agenda, not least the debates over the management of withdrawal from Afghanistan and discussing lessons from the Libya experience. They will also consider the deterrence and defense posture review (DDPR) that has been developing behind closed doors, but still in a surprisingly unformed state given its planned completion in May. Internal expectations are not high for significant change, but this really is not good news.

Unless NATO member states take initiative not only to clarify declaratory policy, but also lay out the road towards the withdrawal of its symbolic nuclear deployments in Europe, and shift the tools of assurance toward non-nuclear measures, they will be responsible for freezing the arms control relationship with Russia for several years and impacting upon the chances of pulling together international consensus behind tighter measures to combat the threat of nuclear proliferation.

Read the rest of this entry »

What happens the day after Iran gets the bomb?

Posted on Updated on

Deutsch: Atombombentest Romeo (Sprengkraft 11 ...
Image via Wikipedia

Josh Rogin Monday, December 5, 2011 – 5:51 PM

A team of conservative policymakers and thinkers believes that there’s a real chance that Western efforts to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon will fail, in which case the United States would have to lead an international effort to contain Iran and deter the Islamic Republic from using its nuclear weapons capability.

Experts at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a conservative Washington think tank, have spent the last six months thinking about how the United States should respond to a nuclear-armed Iran. They are getting ready to release an extensive report tomorrow detailing a comprehensive strategy for dealing with that scenario, entitled, “Containing and Deterring a Nuclear Iran.”

“The report is very much an acknowledgement of the very real possibility of failure of the strategy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and any responsible party should recognize that failure is an option. There’s been a huge disservice done by all who have spent their lives in denial of that possibility,” AEI Vice President Danielle Pletka told The Cable in a Monday interview. “Whenever you devise a strategy for what happens before a country gets a nuclear weapon, you should have a strategy for what happens after they get one as well.”

Pletka will unveil the report on Tuesday morning at an event with Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), and fellow AEI experts Tom Donnelly, Maseh Zarif, and Fred Kagan. The project brought together Iran experts of all stripes to brainstorm what would be needed to create the maximum level of confidence that, if Iran does develop a nuclear weapon, it would not decide to use it.

“While there can never be certain deterrence, Cold War presidents often had confidence that the United States had sufficient military power to support a policy of containment through a strategy of deterrence; for most of the period they felt that deterrence was assured,” the report states. “It is worth repeating Dean Acheson‘s basic formulation: ‘American power would be employed in stopping [Soviet aggression and expansion], and if necessary, would inflict on the Soviet Union injury which the Moscow regime would not wish to suffer.’ Assured deterrence began with assured destruction of the Soviet regime.”

Pletka said that while the geopolitical environment is now different, the basic goal of U.S. policy is the same — to create a situation whereby Iranian leaders would credibly believe that any nuclear attack would mean the end of their regime. But Pletka doubts whether this administration has the stomach for such a stance.

“Take out Soviet and Moscow from Acheson’s quote, and sub in Iran and Tehran. Are we willing to inflict on Iran injury which the Tehran regime would not wish to suffer? I doubt it,” Pletka warned. “There’s no question that a country can be deterred from using a nuclear weapon, the only question is if there is the will to put those tools in place.” Read the rest of this entry »