Nuclear Issues

8 Items

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Blog Post - Atlantic Council

A Strategy for Dealing with North Korea

| Sep. 12, 2017

New sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council on September 11 in response to North Korea’s latest nuclear test are “not significant enough,” according to R. Nicholas Burns, an Atlantic Council board member who served as undersecretary of state for political affairs in the George W. Bush administration.

Sanctions must be part of a “patient long-term strategy” that includes deterrence, working closely with allies, and negotiations, said Burns, laying out the United States’ options for dealing with the North Korean crisis.  

Blog Post - Nuclear Security Matters

Bunn, Tobey, and Roth on Nuclear Smuggling

May 20, 2015

Matthew Bunn, William Tobey, and I have a new op-ed in The Hill’s Congress Blog, “Don’t weaken our defenses against nuclear smuggling.” We wrote it in response to proposed legislation that would prohibit funding for fixed radiation detectors to catch nuclear smugglers – both for installing new ones and even for maintaining the ones U.S. taxpayers have already paid billions to install.

Blog Post - Nuclear Security Matters

Reducing the Risk of “Dirty Bombs”

Mar. 10, 2014

In the spectrum of threats to nuclear security, highly radioactive materials such as cesium-137 and cobalt-60 represent a set of concerns and challenges which is much different from that of fissile materials like highly enriched uranium. Unlike the latter, they cannot be used to build a nuclear weapon. However, terrorists could use such sources to construct a so-called “dirty bomb”, an improvised explosive device which spreads the radioactive substances in a populated area. Although, according to most planning scenarios, such a “dirty bomb” would likely cause few radiation-related casualties, its economic effects could still be in the billions of dollars – especially if parts of a city needed to be shut down for weeks or months while they are being decontaminated.

Blog Post - Iran Matters

Inside the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013

| Dec. 19, 2013

News broke yesterday that three prominent senators—Menendez (D-NJ), Kirk (R-IL), and Schumer (D-NY)—may introduce legislation this year that would impose new sanctions against Iran with a “deferred trigger.” That is, the new sanctions can be averted only if the Obama administration provides specific and difficult certifications every 30 days including that Iran is implementing the terms of the November 24 Joint Plan of Action and negotiating “in good faith” toward a final deal. Based on an advance copy of the “Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013,” I summarize the substance of the draft legislation, including both the new proposed sanctions and the complicated set of presidential certifications and notifications to waive existing sanctions and suspend the additional sanctions.  In a second post, I examine the current legislative state of play and the likely administration objections to the draft legislation.

Blog Post - Iran Matters

Anticipating objections to the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act

| Dec. 19, 2013

In the near term, the Obama administration does not yet need to engage Senators Menendez, Kirk, and Schumer on the details of their proposed Nuclear Weapon Free Act of 2013. The upcoming congressional recess and the protection of friendly senators (including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Chairman of the Senate Banking and Finance Committee Tim Johnson) are likely to delay consideration of the bill for the time being. However, congressional support for sanctions legislation against Iran has strong bipartisan support, and pressure for additional legislation is likely to grow if – as seems likely – it becomes apparent in coming months that negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran on a final agreement are not faring well. In the event that the Obama administration is forced to enter into negotiations with Congress on new sanctions legislation, the White House is likely to have several objections to the proposed Senate legislation, especially on the certification requirements to waive or suspend sanctions.