Tehran gets closer to going nuclear.3:00 PM, May 20, 2010 • By MICHAEL ANTON
Just when you thought the Iran problem couldn’t get worse, it’s worse.
Lessons from history aid understanding of nuclear war scenarios -- and the outlook is grim. 6:25 PM, May 17, 2010 • By MICHAEL ANTON
The Telegraph (UK) published an astonishing bit of news over the weekend. Actually, it’s not quite “news,” as the story has been bouncing around for some years. But the Telegraph cites an article sanctioned by the highest authorities in Beijing, which gives the story a fresh imprimatur of credibility.
In 1969, when Sino-Soviet relations were at their worst, the Russians contemplated destroying Chinese nuclear sites with a first strike. They had the presence of mind to realize that letting nukes fly might have unintended consequences. So Moscow gingerly approached Washington with the news. The reaction was surprising. American officials told the Soviets that if they struck first, we would hit Russia with a nuclear strike of our own. Needless to say, nothing happened.
The Obama administration fumbles relations with India May 10, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 32 • By DANIEL TWINING
In 1998, President Bill Clinton flew over Japan without stopping on his way to spend nine days in China. This led to acute concern in Tokyo over “Japan passing”—the belief that Washington was neglecting a key Asian ally in favor of the region’s rising star, China. Twelve years later, Indians worry that the same thing may be happening to them, despite the transformation in U.S. relations symbolized by the 2008 nuclear deal.
Can the CIA understand Iran?12:15 PM, Apr 20, 2010 • By GABRIEL SCHOENFELD
A leading Iranian cleric, reports Reuters, is blaming earthquakes on female promiscuity. "Many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray and spread adultery in society which increases earthquakes," Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi told worshippers in Tehran.
This may sound wacky, but it can teach us a serious lesson. The question it poses is: How well do we understand the thinking of the Iranian leadership on questions small and large? Here are some words of a caution from a CIA study:
Estimates Iran will have long-range missiles as early as 2015. 11:28 AM, Apr 20, 2010 • By MICHAEL ANTON
Remember the two missiles defense sites—one in Poland, the other in the Czech Republic—that the Obama administration cancelled last fall as a goodwill gesture to Russia? The stated rationale at the time was: Since the sites were intended to defend America and our allies from Iranian missiles, and our intelligence estimated that the Iranians were a long way from fielding such missiles, the sites were unnecessary.
Now, this was a transparently flimsy excuse even at the time. If we believed (which we did then and do now) that Iran is determined to develop ICBMs, then why wait? It takes time to build interceptor and radar sites and make sure they work properly. Is the right time to begin only after the threatening country has in hand the capability which the installations are intended to counter?
On Iran's nuclear program.12:50 PM, Apr 19, 2010 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen told a forum at Columbia University yesterday, "Iran getting a nuclear weapon would be incredibly destabilizing. Attacking them would also create the same kind of outcome...In an area that's so unstable right now, we just don't need more of that."
How comforting. 1:10 PM, Apr 14, 2010 • By GABRIEL SCHOENFELD
"Iran is not expected to be capable of producing nuclear weapons for at least a year, maybe more, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Tuesday,” reports Reuters, covering him from aboard a U.S. military aircraft en route to South America:
Asked about reported comments that Iran might be able to join the nuclear club in months, Gates said: "I don't believe it."
"I think that most estimates that I've seen, haven't changed since the last time we talked about it, which is probably at least a year, and maybe more," Gates told reporters.
A year is not a long time. What are we doing in response?
Kazakhstan and other repressive nations are given a podium. 3:15 PM, Apr 12, 2010 • By DANIEL HALPER
Kazakhstan's leader has given permission to the commander in chief to allow U.S. military planes to fly over his country en route to Afghanistan. This was the result of a meeting President Nursultan Nazarbayev held at the White House with President Barack Obama yesterday. That's one accomplishment -- perhaps the only accomplishment? -- of this Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C.
All we need to do is show North Korea a little good faith.1:39 PM, Apr 8, 2010 • By GABRIEL SCHOENFELD
Is false advertising always bad? That certainly is not the case with the Obama administration’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), which is being billed by the White House as the greatest shift in American doctrine since Dr. Strangelove devised a doomsday machine. The truth of the matter is that there is less change in the administration’s pronouncement than meets the eye—or should I say eyewash?
Gates v. Obama12:00 AM, Apr 8, 2010 • By JOHN NOONAN
If the Nuclear Posture Review -- a congressionally mandated document which evaluates the state and purpose of America's nuclear forces -- was a battle between Secretary Gates and President Obama, Gates won.
But just barely.
...this treaty is dead.12:21 PM, Apr 6, 2010 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
A friendly reality check for exuberant Democrats on the first day of the Nuclear-Zero Pax Obama -- this treaty is almost certainly dead on arrival. I hedge only because the Democrats might try to jam it through using reconciliation. (Is it legal? The parliamentarian will decide!) Yes, Republican criticism has been relatively muted. The treaty is a give-away to Moscow, but it isn’t a total capitulation -- the cuts are marginal and the effect will largely be to continue the status quo, i.e. a decaying U.S. nuclear deterrent and rampant proliferation. We already knew that reversing those trends isn’t a top priority for the Obama administration (excepting Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who seems to have put up a real fight on this one).
What we will say after Iran tests its first nuclear device.1:46 PM, Apr 5, 2010 • By GABRIEL SCHOENFELD
Iran is pressing forward with its nuclear program. The Obama administration is dithering. Bent upon getting a Security Council resolution rather than assembling a coalition of the willing, the White House and American policy is being held hostage by Russia and most of all by China. Here’s an informed prediction: if Beijing does come around and support a new round of sanctions, it will be hailed by the White House as a major breakthrough: peace in our time. But the actual sanctions will be weak to worthless. China has too much at stake in Iran as a source of energy. It also sees an opportunity to poke us in the eye.
3:21 PM, Apr 2, 2010 • By GABRIEL SCHOENFELD
One of Barack Obama’s more significant unfulfilled campaign promises is getting the Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Last year, speaking in Prague, he announced a determination to press ahead, declaring that
my administration will immediately and aggressively pursue U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. After more than five decades of talks, it is time for the testing of nuclear weapons to finally be banned.
The president had hoped to get this done before the end of this year, but thanks to what promises to be an extended debate over the new START agreement, time is slipping away.
Cost-benefit analysis gone mad.2:09 PM, Apr 2, 2010 • By GABRIEL SCHOENFELD
Back in November 2007, the National Intelligence Council (NIC) released a declassified summary of an authoritative National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) declaring with “high confidence” that four years earlier "Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program.” Buried in a footnote was the fact that the summary was only referring to one—and far from the most important—component of Iran’s nuclear project. The other portions of the Iranian bomb effort—most significantly, uranium enrichment—were continuing apace.