Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, reporting on US intentions vis-á-vis Iran, writes that one of the militarys initial option plans ... calls for the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11, against underground nuclear sites. Citing an unnamed former intelligence official, Hersh writes further that:
Late this winter, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sought to remove the nuclear option from the evolving war plans for Iran—without success, the former intelligence official said. The White House said, Why are you challenging this? The option came from you.
Seymour Hersh, The Iran Plans: Would President Bush go to war to stop Tehran from getting the bomb?,The New Yorker, 2006.04.17.
Max M. Kampelman has published an op-ed piece urging the US government to embrace the goal of eliminating all weapons of mass destruction. Kampelman was from 1980 to 1983 Ambassador to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe and from 1985 to 1989 Ambassador and Head of the United States Delegation to the Negotiations with the Soviet Union on Nuclear and Space Arms in Geneva. His op-ed article continues:
To this end, President Bush should consult with our allies, appear before the United Nations General Assembly and call for a resolution embracing the objective of eliminating all weapons of mass destruction.
He should make clear that we are prepared to eliminate our nuclear weapons if the Security Council develops an effective regime to guarantee total conformity with a universal commitment to eliminate all nuclear arms and reaffirm the existing conventions covering chemical and biological weapons.
Max M. Kampelman,
Bombs Away, The New York Times, 2006.04.24.
Hans Blix presented The WMDC Report: Weapons of Terror. Freeing the World of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Arms, the report of the WMD Commission which Dr. Blix chaired, to UN Secretary-Generral Kofi Annan and to the President of the UN General Assembly, Swedish Foreign Minister Jan Eliasson. The report canvasses its subject and highlights sixty recommendations for action. It calls for agreement on general principles of action, including
There is an urgent need to revive meaningful negotations, through all available intergovernmental mechamisms, on the three main objectives of reducing the danger of present arsenals, preventing proliferation, and outlawing all weapons of mass destruction once and for all.
WMD Commission The WMDC Report: Weapons of Terror. Freeing the World of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Arms. 2006.06.01.
North Korea announced that it had conducted its first test of a nuclear device.
After meetings in Beijing among China, the United States, and North Korea, China announced that North Korea would return to the Six-Party Talks after an absence of a year.
The US National Nuclear Security Administration announced recent studies, by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory, which bear on policy arguments concerning the nuclear stockpile, proposals to design new weapons, and strategies for nuclear abolition. The reports themselves are secret. The NNSA press release [excerpt]:
These studies show that the degradation of plutonium in our nuclear weapons will not affect warhead reliability for decades, [NNSA Administrator Linton F.] Brooks said. It is now clear that although plutonium aging contributes, other factors control the overall life expectancy of nuclear weapons systems.
The classified studies looked at pits in each nuclear weapon type and gave specific information on plutonium properties, aging and other information. Overall, the weapons laboratories studies assessed that the majority of plutonium pits for most nuclear weapons have minimum lifetimes of at least 85 years.
US National Nuclear Security Administration. Studies Show Plutonium Degradation in U.S. Nuclear Weapons Will Not Affect Reliability Soon. 2006.11.29.
NPR. David Kestenbaum, U.S. Nuclear Weapons More Stable than Expected. 2006.11.30.
JASON. Pit Lifetime. Unclassified executive summary of report by the JASON group reviewing the studies by LLNL and LANL. JSR-06-335. 2006.11.20. Transmitted by NNSA to the US Senate, Committee on Armed Services, 2006.11.28.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair told the House of Commons that his government would propose a new class of nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) and continued capabilities to practice nuclear deterrence, extending into the 2050s. The argument is developed in a White Paper, The Future of the United Kingdoms Nuclear Deterrent. Blair termed Trident the ultimate insurance.
United Kingdom. Ministry of Defence. defence news. The Future of the United Kingdoms Nuclear Deterrent: Defence White Paper 2006 (Cm 6994). 4 December 2006.
United Kingdom. Ministry of Defence. defence news. Government announced intention to maintain the UKs Nuclear Deterrent. 4 December 2006.
United Kingdom. Ministry of Defence. defence news. Safer Britain, Safer World: The Decision Not to Replace Trident. Alternative White Paper. Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. 4 December 2006.
Matthew Tempest, Blair promises proper debate on Trident. Guardian, 22 June 2006.
Matthew Tempest and agencies, Blair: we must renew Trident. Guardian, 4 December 2006.
Four prominent US public figures [former Secretaries of State George Shultz and Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, and former Senator Sam Nunn] issued a statement calling for US leadership in bringing an end to nuclear weapons. They wrote, in part:
Reassertion of the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons and practical measures toward achieving that goal would be, and would be perceived as, a bold initiative consistent with America's moral heritage. The effort could have a profoundly positive impact on the security of future generations. Without the bold vision, the actions will not be perceived as fair or urgent. Without the actions, the vision will not be perceived as realistic or possible.
We endorse setting the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons and working energetically on the actions required to achieve that goal ...
George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger, and Sam Nunn, The Wall Street Journal, A World Free of Nuclear Weapons. 2007.01.04.
Michael Crowley, The Stuff Sam Nunns Nightmares Are Made Of. The New York Times Magazine, 2007.02.25.
North Korea and the other countries in the Six Party Talks agreed to a package which would lead to staged, reciprocal measures—largely subject to further negotiations—including closure of North Koreas nuclear reactor at Yongbyon. [But cf. entry for 2005.09.19]
David Sanger, Outside Pressures Broke Korean Deadlock, The New York Times. 2007.02.14.
• Joint statement following Six-Party Talks on North Koreas nuclear weapons program, as released by the Peoples Republic of China. Washington Post, 2007.02.13.
The 2007 NPT Preparatory Committee meeting opened in Vienna. [For conclusion see entry for 2007.05.11]
Rebecca Johnson, Will They? Wont They? . Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy. 2007.05.01.
The 2007 NPT Prep Com, meeting 30 April - 11 May, concluded. A summary of positions, in the form of Chair Yukiyo Amanos Chairs Paper, was attached as a working paper to the Procedural Report, a device which accommodated reservations of some parties. [Detailed accounts of disagreements within the Prep Com are reported by Rebecca Johnson and available at the Acronym NPT site.]
Rebecca Johnson, NPT PrepCom Finally Adopts Its Report. Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy. 2007.05.11.
2007 NPT Prep Com Chairs Paper. [Unofficial text via the Acronym Insitute.] 2007.05.11.
The 2007 Carnegie International Nonproliferation Conference met in Washington, DC. The first plenary session was titled A World Free of Nuclear Weapons,, and the luncheon keynote by then British Foreign Secretary Margaret Becket, addressing that theme. She spoke both of the aim of nuclear disarmament and its not yet being in view. This ambivalence was expressed in the question mark of her title, A World Free of Nuclear Weapons? Becket said:
What we need is both vision – a scenario for a world free of nuclear weapons –
and action – progressive steps to reduce warhead numbers and to limit the role of nuclear
weapons in security policy. These two strands are separate, but they are mutually
reinforcing. Both are necessary. Both at the moment are too weak.
Let me start with the vision because perhaps that’s the harder case to make. After
all, we all signed up to the goal of the eventual abolition of nuclear weapons back in
1968. So what does simply restating that goal achieve today? More I think than you
might imagine because -- and I’ll be blunt -- there are – I was going to say some, I think
many – who are in danger of losing faith in the possibility of ever reaching that goal.
That would, I think, be a grave mistake.
The judgment we made 40 years ago that the eventual abolition of nuclear weapons was in all of our interests is just as true today as it was then. For more than 60 years, good management and good fortune have meant that nuclear arsenals have not been used, but we cannot rely just on history to repeat itself.
It would be a grave mistake for another reason, too. It underestimates the power
that commitment and vision can have in driving action.
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
2007 Carnegie International Nonproliferation Conference. Sessions, many by video, audio, and transcript. 2007.06.25-26.
Margaret Becket, A World Free of Nuclear Weapons? 2007.06.25.
The Guardian, Beckett calls for cuts in US and Russian nuclear arsenals. 2006.06.26.
The United States and India released the text of a proposed nuclear cooperation agreement. Critics charge that the agreement, which must obtain further approvals to enter into effect, rewards India despite Indias choice to remain outside the NPT framework. The agreements effect could be, they say, to free domestic Indian supply of fissile material from its civil sector to its nuclear weapon program. The Arms Control Association released an assessment titled A Bad Deal Gets Worse, which outlines the steps ahead:
Several more difficult hurdles must be cleared before Congress formally considers the agreement. First, India and the IAEA must negotiate and the IAEA Board of Governors must approve an Indian-IAEA safeguards agreement. Then, the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group must approve by consensus changes to its guidelines that currently restrict trade with non-nuclear-weapon states, such as India, that do not accept safeguards on all their nuclear activities. The rotating chair of the NSG is currently held by South Africa. The NSG is due to hold a "consultative group" meeting in Vienna this autumn. Germany will take over the chair when the NSG meets for its full Plenary session in the spring of 2008.
Agreement for Cooperation Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of India Concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy (123 Agreement). Full text [pdf]. Full text [.html]. 2007.08.03.
Daryl Kimball and Fred McGoldrick, U.S. Indian Nuclear Agreement: A Bad Deal Gets Worse. Arms Control Association. 2007.08.03.
The four prominent US public figures [former Secretaries of State George Shultz and Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, and former Senator Sam Nunn] who a year earlier called for an end to nuclear weapons repeated and expanded on their call. [See 2007.01.04] They wrote that
Progress must be facilitated by a clear statement of our ultimate goal. ... Without the vision of moving toward zero, we will not find the essential cooperation required to stop our downward spiral.
George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger, and Sam Nunn, The Wall Street Journal, Toward A Nuclear Free World. 2007.01.15.
The British Secretary of State for Defense, Des Browne, told the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva that the UK would propose that the N5 initiate discussion of technical challenges of verifying nuclear disarmament:
For the first time, I am proposing to host a conference for technical experts from all five recognised nuclear states, to develop technologies for nuclear disarmament.
At the centre of this offer are the skills and expertise of UK scientists at the Atomic Weapons Establishment. Those skills will form the basis of pioneering technical research into nuclear disarmament - to become a nuclear disarmament laboratory. ...
Despite significant reductions in stockpiles since the Cold War, there remain thousands of nuclear warheads worldwide. The proliferation of nuclear material, technology and weapons represents a grave threat to international security.
These challenges require a global solution. The international architecture to promote disarmament and counter proliferation is extensive, but still not sufficient. So we must continue to address these threats internationally.
Every nation, both with and without nuclear weapons, needs to contribute to this effort. Nuclear Weapons States must show forward commitment to disarmament in order to maintain broad support from the Non-Nuclear Weapons States on countering proliferation.
As one of the five recognised nuclear weapons states, the UK has made a significant contribution to countering proliferation, but this cannot be a unilateral approach. In the current circumstances, we cannot undermine our own national security. In renewing our own nuclear deterrent, we clearly set out our position in the 2006 White Paper as maintaining minimum deterrence.
The UK is determined to have a world free of nuclear weapons. But to get there we must first create an international environment that better supports disarmament. The UK has and will continue to pursue this until nuclear weapons no longer exist.
United Kingdom. Ministry of Defense. Des Browne, UK Secretary of State for Defense, remarks to the Conference on Disarmament. Laying the Foundations for Nuclear Disarmament. 2007.02.05.
Three former British Foreign Secretaries, Douglas Hurd, Malcolm Rifkind, and David Owen, and a former NATO General-Secretary, George Robertson, urge steps toward nuclear disarmament and abolition. They describe the initiative of Shultz, Kissinger, Perry and Nunn as an influential project, and declare that
Substantial progress towards a dramatic reduction in the worlds nuclear weapons is possible. The ultimate aspiration should be to have a world free of nuclear weapons. It will take time, but with political will and improvements in monitoring, the goal is achievable. We must act before it is too late, and we can begin by supporting the campaign in America for a non-nuclear weapons world.
• Douglas Hurd, Malcolm Rifkind, David Owen, and George Robertson, Start worrying and learn to ditch the bomb.
It wont be easy, but a world free of nuclear weapons is possible. Times [London], 2008.06.30.
The Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, Armed Services Committee, US House of Representatives heard testimony on 17 July 2008 concerning the future of the US nuclear weapon labs. Panelists represented the labs and their managers, and the US Government Accountability Office; panelists also included a former lab director and a private critic.
• Hearing on Nuclear Weapons Complex Modernization,, US House of Representatives, House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Strategic Forces. 17 July 2008. An agenda with links to prepared testimony was seen in July 2008 at the House website. For convenience GC.DD has combined the prepared texts into a single pdf file (about 1MB), in alphabetic order by name of presenter.
A key step in the US Congressional appropriations process is presentation of reports, including recommended expenditures by category, by the respective House and Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittees. These reports incorporate assessments of proposed programs. The American Institute of Physics summarises key points in documents available on its website, and includes pointers to the Subcommittee documents themselves:
Senate Report 110-416 ... accompanies S. 3258; see page 120-129 of the PDF version of the report that can be accessed at http://thomas.loc.gov/home/approp/app09.html for the complete text. ...
The National Nuclear Security Administration, an independent agency within the Department of Energy, designs, produces, and tests nuclear weapons, and provides the Navy's nuclear propulsion plants. NNSA also has jurisdiction over the nation's nonproliferation program. The total FY 2009 Department of Energy request was $25 billion, of which $9.1 billion was for NNSA programs. Within this budget, $6.6 billion was requested for the weapons program. ...
AIP quotes the [then unfiled] committee report as saying, about the Reliable Replacement Warhead,
That said, the Committee remains to be convinced that a new warhead design will lead to these benefits. The Committee will not spend the taxpayers money for a new generation of warheads promoted as leading to nuclear reductions absent a specified glide path to a specified, much smaller force of nuclear weapons. Similarly, the Committee finds no logic in spending the taxpayers money on a new generation of warheads promoted as avoiding the need for nuclear testing, while the Secretary of State insists that the Administration does not support the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
• [Senate] FYI The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Science Policy News Number 80: July 22, 2008 Web version:
http://www.aip.org/fyi/2008/080.html (Recommended). FY 2009 Senate Appropriations Language: DOE Nuclear Weapons Program. 2008.07.22.
• [House] FYI The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Science Policy News Number 81: July 23, 2008 Web version:
http://www.aip.org/fyi/2008/081.html (Strongly Recommended). House FY 2009 Funding Bill: DOE Nuclear Weapons Program. 2008.07.23
The Arms Control Association revealed a US government draft on nuclear cooperation with India which the United States will propose to the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Consent of the NSG, and of the US Congress, is required if the US-India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement is to take effect. ACA judges that
Generally speaking, any India-specific exemption from NSG guidelines would erode the credibility of the NSG's efforts to ensure that access to peaceful nuclear trade and technology is available only to those states that meet global nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament standards. India has not agreed to abide by the standards and commitments expected of other responsible states, including full-scope IAEA safeguards, a meaningful Additional Protocol to its safeguards agreement, a legally-binding ban on nuclear testing, and a halt to the production of fissile material for weapons.
• Statement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation with India [Text of Draft U.S. Proposal to NSG, August 2008]
• Arms Control Association. Note for Reporters. U.S. Proposal for India-Specific Exemption from Nuclear Suppliers Group Guidelines Circulated August 2008. Daryl G. Kimball (202-463-8270 x107). 2008.08.13.
In New York, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed the East-West Institute. His title: The United Nations and Security in a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World.In his remarks he offered a five-point proposal:
First, I urge all NPT [Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons] parties, in particular the nuclear-weapon States, to fulfil their obligation under the Treaty to undertake negotiations on effective measures leading to nuclear disarmament.
Second, the [P5] should commence discussions ,... on security issues in the nuclear disarmament process. They could unambiguously assure non-nuclear-weapon States that they will not be the subject of the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. The Council could also convene a summit on nuclear disarmament. Non-NPT States should freeze their own nuclear-weapon capabilities and make their own disarmament commitments. ...
[Third] ... We need new efforts to bring the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty into force, and for the Conference on Disarmament to begin negotiations on a fissile material treaty immediately, without preconditions. ...
[Fourth] accountability and transparency. ... The nuclear Powers could also expand the amount of information they publish about the size of their arsenals, stocks of fissile material and specific disarmament achievements. The lack of an authoritative estimate of the total number of nuclear weapons testifies to the need for greater transparency.
[Fifth] ... complementary measures [including] elimination of other types of WMD; new efforts against WMD terrorism; limits on the production and trade in conventional arms; and new weapons bans, including of missiles and space weapons. The General Assembly could also take up the recommendation of the Blix Commission for a “World Summit on disarmament, non-proliferation and terrorist use of weapons of mass destruction.
Ban also said that The very first resolution adopted by the General Assembly, in London in 1946, called for eliminating “weapons adaptable to mass destruction. Actually, the resolution created a United Nations Atomic Energy Commission and mandated the Commission to make specific proposals inter alia [c] for the elimination from national armament of atomic weapons and of all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction. Not quite the same thing.
• Ban Ki-moon, The United Nations and Security in a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World, as delivered, New York. http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2008/sgsm11881.doc.htm 2008.10.24.
• UNGA Resolution 1 (I), by link from http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/1/ares1.htm 1946.01.24.