Saturday, April 23, 2011

Huh?


Reading 'Donilon Op-Ed Courts Support for Nuclear Weapons Reduction' this blogger wondered re his sanity. The report stated that "... Donilon calls for further reduction of the role and number of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons (done along with Russia), the use of an international fuel bank to prevent the proliferation of nuclear energy, and bringing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty into force..." Eh? What is he talking about?

"Further" reductions in tactical nuclear weapons "along with Russia"? How exactly is this possible when there have been no agreements between the two countries that have included tactical nuclear weapons? For example, the New START only included strategic weapons... Doesn't "further" imply that there already have been efforts in this area?

And an "international fuel bank to prevent the proliferation of nuclear energy"? This doesn't make any sense whatsoever! The purpose of an international fuel bank would be the exact opposite i.e. a mechanism whereby other countries could (proliferate) reap the benefits of peaceful nuclear energy without learning to master the nuclear fuel cycle, and with the necessary nuclear fuel supplied and controlled by the international fuel bank (e.g. to prevent the diversion of fissile material to potential weapons programs).

Having a hard time believing that Donilon could be so far off the mark, this blogger went ahead and registered so as to read Donilon's Financial Times oped... Phew! What a relief! This is emphatically NOT what Donilon said (see a brief excerpt below for his actual words, register and go to the FT for the full piece). It turns out that this is just a case of Rebecca Kaplan of the National Journal mis-reporting what was actually said...

OK, so as a "White House staff reporter" she may not be an expert in nuclear issues, but how do you turn "... use a new international fuel bank to ensure that the use of nuclear energy does not lead to proliferation..." into "... use of an international fuel bank to prevent the proliferation of nuclear energy"?

Iran will not hinder plans for a nuclear-free world:

"Two years ago this month in Prague, President Barack Obama proposed steps to advance the goal of “a world without nuclear weapons”. In the 24 months since, we have laid the foundation for these next steps in arms control. But now new action is needed.... we will work to secure the world’s vulnerable nuclear materials within four years, and use a new international fuel bank to ensure that the use of nuclear energy does not lead to proliferation. We will also seek to bring the Comprehensive Test Ban treaty into force, while pursuing a further treaty to ban the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons... Past agree­ments have only dealt with some categories of nuclear weapons, but we believe the next round must be as wide as possible, including both non-deployed and tactical nuclear weapons. We must address the issue of Russia’s tactical nuclear weapons, which have never been subject to numerical limits. To do this we seek to reduce the role and number of US tactical nuclear weapons, as Russia takes reciprocal measures to reduce its own tactical forces, and also to relocate these away from NATO’s borders..."

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