Foreign Policy Blogs

Arms Control and Proliferation

U.S. Senate Approves Guns to Syria: ‘Designated Terrorists’ Still on OFAC List

U.S. Senate Approves Guns to Syria: ‘Designated Terrorists’ Still on OFAC List

The fact that the end users, the Free Syrian Army, to whom the US government has decided to send ‘lethal aid,’ is closely affiliated with individuals and organizations still listed on the Department of Treasury’s ‘SDN’ List, people and groups the Office of Financial Assets Control (OFAC) has banned as importers or recipients of US goods (especially weapons), doesn’t seem to bother the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Perhaps the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is confused? Unaware that a transfer of weapons from the US, directly or through an intermediate buyer, to any organization or individual listed on OFAC’s list would constitute an illegal arms sale?

read more

Obama and Syria: Red Lines Redeemed?

Obama and Syria: Red Lines Redeemed?

I’ve contended in previous posts (herehere and here) that President Obama’s failure to enforce his numerous threats against the use of chemical weapons by the Bashir al-Assad regime in Damascus is a significant reason to doubt the credibility of his repeated vows to …

read more

Obama’s NDU Speech: Implications for Tehran

Obama’s NDU Speech: Implications for Tehran


The major speech on counter-terrorism policy President Obama delivered last week at the National Defense University has generated a great deal of commentary about its implications for drone strikes and Guantanamo detainees. Little noticed, however, is the underlying message it sends to Iran’s leaders.
Mr. Obama …

read more

Red Line Blues: North Korea, Iran and Syria

Red Line Blues: North Korea, Iran and Syria

A defining moment for Mr. Obama’s foreign policy legacy is fast approaching
From the Levant and the Persian Gulf to the Korean peninsula, events in recent weeks have offered a clinic in the difficulty of enforcing red lines on rogue regimes and their weapons of mass destruction, as well as how …

read more

Iran: Cutting the Gordian Knots

Iran: Cutting the Gordian Knots

The good news in nuclear arms control this last week was of course China’s rather surprising decision to join in international sanctions against North Korea. The single most important thing about sanctions, almost always, is not their material effect but, rather, when the sanctions are universal,  the moral and political …

read more

The Four Statesmen Return to the Rostrum: Take Action on Proliferation Risks Now

The Four Statesmen Return to the Rostrum:  Take Action on Proliferation Risks Now

In what seems to be a response to the Corker/Inhofe op-ed in the Wall Street Journal of last week, elder statesmen George Shultz, Bill Perry, Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn reiterated their call for more urgent progress on reducing nuclear risks, particularly proliferation.  This is their fifth article …

read more

Old Thinking, New Realities

Old Thinking, New Realities

In an OpEd in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, Senators Bob Corker, currently Ranking Member on the Foreign Relations Committee, and James Inhofe, well-known global warming skeptic and Ranking Member on the Armed Services Committee, opined about how the administration’s commitment to eliminating nuclear weapons was 1) dangerous, 2) …

read more

North Korean Nuclear Test: What Is the Nature of the Threat?

North Korean Nuclear Test: What Is the Nature of the Threat?

 
From a global perspective, any new entry into the “nuclear club” is high undesirable as such: With every new entrant, there is an exponential increase in the political complexity of achieving total nuclear disarmament — or, to put it more simply, there is an additional obstacle in the way of …

read more

Nuclear Weapons Accomplishments in the Chu Years

Nuclear Weapons Accomplishments in the Chu Years

Departing Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s farewell letter is not the usual five paragraphs consisting of gradiose claims and bromides for the ages. At more than 3,750 words, it is the length of a college term paper or a magazine feature article. As …

read more

Nuke Brain Drain in the Senate

Nuke Brain Drain in the Senate

With the retirement of Senator Jon Kyl and defeat of Senator Richard Lugar — of the unprecedented Nunn-Lugar initiative — Congress’s 113th session will see a significant lacunae in arms control and nuclear nonproliferation expertise.  While I am hard-pressed to call Kyl an “expert” — someone who repeatedly questioned the …

read more

Syria is a Test of U.S. Credibility on Iran

Syria is a Test of U.S. Credibility on Iran

Shifting red lines in Syria undermines the tough rhetoric toward Tehran
Many observers have connected the civil war raging in Syria to the broader U.S. standoff with Iran.  Critics of the Obama administration’s extremely cautious approach on Syria argue that pushing more forcefully for the demise of …

read more

Our Third Most Urgent Nonproliferation Priority

Our Third Most Urgent Nonproliferation Priority


With the outcome of the U.S. presidential election and the transition from the first to second Obama term, it’s a time for pundits to compile to-do lists. For example, fellow blogger Jodi Lieberman recently circulated an excellent one from the NTI Center for Nonproliferation …

read more

Japan’s Plutonium Problem

Japan’s Plutonium Problem

After Iran, arguably the most urgent problem in nuclear nonproliferation policy is Japan’s huge and growing stockpile of separated plutonium, its plans to start commercial reprocessing of spent nuclear fuels next year,* and the bad precedent that will set for South Korea, South Africa and other …

read more

Hibbs on The IAEA’s State Level Approach to Safeguards

Hibbs on The IAEA’s State Level Approach to Safeguards

 

In his most recent, and to my mind, revealing examination of the evolution of the IAEA safeguards regime, Carnegie Senior Associate Mark Hibbs lays out some critical issues facing the evolution of the Agency’s central nuclear watchdog function.  What he finds is a swirling morass of political jockeying, an …

read more

Obama’s Second-Term Agenda

Obama’s Second-Term Agenda

In terms of establishing the conditions for a world without weapons of mass destruction (the main theme of this blog), we might as well say frankly that Obama’s first term left a good deal to be desired. Despite the clear commitment to the elimination of nuclear weapons the Obama made …

read more