Posts Tagged ‘nuclear weapons’

Charles Ferguson, Director of the Council on Foreign Relations-sponsored Independent Task Force on US Nuclear Weapons Policy, and Scott Sagan, a Task Force member, joined the World Affairs Council on Monday for a very timely discussion of nuclear arms reduction and elimination. They spoke about the steps the Obama administration can take to lead the global reduction effort; the need to include Israel in any long-term solution, even though Israel has never officially acknowledged its nuclear arsenal; and the prevention of rearmament, should the goal of elimination ever be reached.

Given Friday’s disclosure of a previously unknown nuclear site in Iran and Sunday’s missile tests there, much of the discussion centered on Iran. Sagan cited a recent poll conducted by World Public Opinion, which found that 55 percent of Iranians prefer that Iran develop only nuclear energy and 31 percent would favor an agreement that would end uranium enrichment if sanctions were dropped. Sagan and Ferguson also spoke about their belief that a politically unstable country, such as Iran or Pakistan, poses a greater threat to global security than one with an unpredictable leader, such as North Korea.

For more on Nuclear Reduction, listen to the recording of the program with Charles Ferguson and Scott Sagan here, or check out a few of the articles and reports mentioned in the program.

The Independent Task Force’s full report.

“Toward a Nuclear-Free World”, a Wall Street Journal op-ed written by George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, Sam Nunn, and William Perry. Printed on January 15, 2008, the piece preceded the formation of the Task Force, which is chaired by Perry.

“Spreading Temptation: Proliferation and Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation Agreements”, an article from the summer issue of the journal International Security on the correlation between the sharing of nuclear knowledge and the decision to make a nuclear weapon.

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Pakistan released nuclear scientist Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan on Friday – the former head of Pakistan’s nuclear programme, and a man who has admitted to transferring nuclear secrets to other countries. According to a BBC article, the US continues to regard Dr. Khan as a “serious proliferation risk.”

Here at the Council, we recently hosted writers Catherine Collins and Douglas Frantz, formerly of the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, as they detailed the sequence of events that allowed one man to lay the groundwork for Pakistan to become a nuclear-armed country. According to their book, The Nuclear Jihadist, the acquisition of nuclear technologies and expertise to assemble functioning bombs by Iran, Libya, North Korea, and Pakistan, can be traced to one source: Abdul Qadeer Khan. From his earliest days working in a Dutch research laboratory through his flight to Pakistan to spearhead its nuclear program, US and foreign intelligence authorities watched A.Q. Khan and could have stopped him from smuggling technology and blueprints to other countries, but were thwarted or ignored by political leaders who chose to concentrate on what they believed to be more immediate strategic priorities.  Watch the full program below, or click here to skip to different chapters.

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Steven Chu, our soon-to-be Energy Secretary, in his office at Berkeley

Yesterday, President-Elect Obama announced his new energy and climate change team – the group that will be collectively responsible for achieving Obama’s stated goals for the environment, including huge reductions in global warming emissions and a dramatic restructuring of our national energy system. For his Energy Secretary, Obama named Steven Chu, the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Nobel Prize winner, and keynote speaker at our conference on climate change back in September. Dr. Chu’s main tasks will be to upgrade our electrical power delivery system, manage our nuclear weapon’s stockpile, and direct research and development of alternative energy sources. Experts, including Scott Segal of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, seem excited about Chu’s nomination, quoted in the NY Times saying that he brings “an understanding of the art of the possible in energy technology,” which will be critical to the development of a cost-effective climate change policy.

One potential point of contention between Chu and Obama may arise around corn-based ethanol. Obama has advocated for this as a source of alternative energy, but at a meeting of state agricultural departments this fall, Chu knocked it for its upfront energy costs and competition with food supply.

At our conference in September, Chu spoke about the cutting-edge technologies they’ve developed in his lab toward reducing green house gas emissions. Watch his talk here.

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