U.S. START Warhead Reductions Now Under Limit
On the radar: U.S. below START warhead limit; Iran’s nuclear deal support; IAEA warns of N. Korean nuclear activity; Another staged Pyongyang nuclear provocation?; and Scottish officials reject Trident modernization
U.S. below START limit - “The number of U.S. strategic warheads counted as ‘deployed’ under the New START Treaty has dropped below the treaty’s limit of 1,550 warheads for the first time since the treaty entered into force in February 2011 – a reduction of 263 warheads over four and a half years. Russia, by contrast, has increased its deployed warheads and now has more strategic warheads counted as deployed under the treaty than in 2011 – up 111 warheads,” according to Hans M. Kristensen for the Federation for American Scientists.
--“Russia is not in a build-up but in a transition from Soviet-era weapons to newer types that causes temporary fluctuations in the warhead count. And Russia is far below the treaty’s limit on deployed strategic launchers. Yet it is disappointing that [it] has allowed its number of ‘accountable’ deployed strategic warheads to increase during the duration of the treaty. There is no need for this increase and it risks fueling exaggerated news media headlines about a Russian nuclear ‘build-up.’” Read full story here. http://bit.ly/1VD2kqJ
Conditional nod from Iran - “A committee of Iran's conservative-dominated parliament gave its support on Sunday to Iran's nuclear agreement with world powers on condition there would be no foreign inspections of military sites and no curbs on developing its missile program. These proposals... could become law if passed by the assembly and approved by a top clerical body that vets proposed legislation,” according to the Dubai desk at Reuters.
--“Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Sept 3 he favored a vote in parliament on the nuclear deal, but it will still go to him, as the country's highest authority with the ultimate say on all state policy, for approval... Many see the chance of the leadership eventually rejecting the deal as small, since Tehran needs the removal of sanctions to revive its economy.” Read full story here. http://reut.rs/1MbwNHj
Amano notes N. Korea nuclear activity - “The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Tuesday it has noticed an increased amount of activity at North Korea’s main nuclear site,” reports International Business Times. “‘We have observed the discharge of water, transportation of equipment to the facility, and some indications of operations of the 5-megawatt reactor,’ IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano said, during a meeting with top South Korean officials,” reported South Korea’s official Yonhap News Agency.
--“Amano cited the satellite images of the Yongbyon nuclear complex… and asked Pyongyang to abide by its international obligations under the U.N. resolutions and agreements… In a piece published Tuesday in Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the Workers' Party of Korea,… [Kim proclaimed North Korea] ‘should produce more powerful cutting-edge arms of our kind and tirelessly strengthen self-defense nuclear deterrence...’” Get full story here. http://bit.ly/1NjcU74
No evidence for North Korea launch - “Pyongyang has a history of staging provocations linked to major dates, and few are as big as the 70th anniversary of the Workers’ Party founding this Saturday,” writes Ashley Rowland for Stars and Stripes. “However, satellite imagery taken last month show no preparations at key North Korean test sites, according to Joel Wit, a former U.S. State Department official.”
--“Buildings under construction at a rocket test site are much larger than other buildings there, and could signal that the North is preparing to test a larger engine meant for bigger rockets with longer ranges. However, it would take time for the North to test such an engine”, noted Wit. http://1.usa.gov/1OivTxf
Scottish MPs back scrapping of Trident renewal- “Neil Findlay and Malcolm Chisholm have signed a motion lodged at Holyrood by SNP MSP Christina McKelvie,” according to the BBC. “The motion calls for ‘investment in people instead of these weapons of mass destruction’”... “Mr Findlay is seen as being a close ally of Mr Corbyn who pledged to scrap Trident during his unsuccessful bid for the Scottish Labour leadership last year.”
--The motion states that “this continued move toward a next generation of nuclear weapons is at odds with the beliefs of the majority of the Scottish population and elected members... Signed by SNP colleagues, Green and independent members, [the motion] will be the subject of a short member's debate after first minister's questions on Thursday.” Read full story here. http://bbc.in/1hosvE3
--“Towards smarter nuclear export controls,” by Sandro Zero for World Nuclear News.http://bit.ly/1FUFqJA
--“China Launches Powerful Long March 6 Rocket Capable of Carrying 20 Warheads,” by Michael Kaplan at International Business Times.http://bit.ly/1jMniYr
--“13 Things You Didn’t Know About Britain’s Nuclear Arsenal,” by Tom Chivers at Buzz Feed News.http://bzfd.it/1FRGX3c
--“Chinese Thinking on Nuclear Weapons,” featuring Pan Zhenqiang and Fan Jishe. Tuesday, October 6th from 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM at Carnegie Endowment, 1779 Massachusetts Ave., Washington, DC. RSVP here. http://ceip.org/1LMpgTz
--“Policy & Politics of the Iran Agreement,” featuring Joe Cirincione and Bernadette Meehan. Thursday, October 8th from 4:30 - 6:00 PM at Institute for Study of Diplomacy, McGhee Library, Georgetown University, 37th and O St. NW, Washington, DC. RSVP here. http://bit.ly/1OE4YgE
--“Nuclear Detonation Effects in an Urban Area,” featuring John Mercier. Tuesday, November 10th from 12:00 - 1:30 PM at the Department of Science and Technology in Society at Virginia Tech, Virginia Tech Research Center, 900 N. Glebe Rd., Arlington, VA 22203. RSVP here. http://bit.ly/1KXP39b