Monday, September 20, 2010

Nuclear Posture Report Review - Post #5

This post is part of a series that I continue to write about the NPR report issued by the Obama administration. You can download the report here. This post will deal with the "Preventing Nuclear Proliferation and Nuclear Terrorism" chapter of the NPR. Once again, before I continue commenting on the NPR, I need to add a disclaimer. I am employed by Sandia National Laboratories. The views written here are not the official position of SNL and should not be viewed that way. They are my views as a private citizen.

As I continued to read through this document, I found that I am getting more increasingly frustrated at the tone of the Obama administration.  Am I the only person that thinks that this administration uses the phrase, "For the first time" more than is reasonable?  As you finish the 1st paragraph of the chapter (page 9), you will see the claim that we have placed non-proliferation and preventing nuclear terrorism at the top of our list of things to do "for the first time."  While the priority may not have appeared explicitly in the previous NPRs, it is ridiculous to say that we have not placed the highest priority on securing loose nukes and nuclear materials since the fall of the Soviet Union.  We have even worked with the Russian Federation to do just that since the early 1990's.

On page 10, there is the statement that we are "identifying and prosecuting its [international terror] networks and establishing international standards and best practices."  I circled the sentence and wrote one word, "HA!"  This section gave me a chuckle because the Obama administration still believes that fighting terrorism is a law enforcement activity.  This is one of the flaws that the 9/11 Commission noted in its final report.  The terrorists are at war with us and some still think that it is a matter of identifying and prosecuting crime.

On page 11 (second bullet), we find that the U.S. hosted a "Nuclear Security Summit" in April 2010.  That is typical of the Obama administration:

  • Get together
  • Talk for a day or two
  • Declare agreement
  • Praise the work done.
If you remember, Israel refused to attend because of the implications of the pre-determined outcome.  There was a lot of positive press coverage over this nothing Summit, but the "agreement" reached will have no lasting impact on international non-proliferation activities.

One of the most disturbing aspects of this chapter is found on page 12 (second bullet), where the NPR declares that we will strengthen our nuclear forensics efforts.  In some circles, this activity is referred to as attribution.  This is a give-up statement that declares "What we are going to do is going to fail, but we will be able to identify those responsible for nuking us."  That scares the hell out of me.

The 3rd bullet on page 12 is ironic to me.  It states that we will hold fully accountable any ... that helps nuclear activities against the U.S. However, we state previously in the NPR, that have taken nuclear weapons off the table for those that are in compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  It seems to me that a country could aid terrorists in attacking us with nuclear and/or radiological weapons while maintaining compliance with the NPT.

On page 13 (first bullet), we find that the Obama administration is going to pursue another failed Clinton administration policy, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).  In addition, the administration is going to try to negotiate a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT).  The details of these two treaties are not fleshed out enough right now to outline my specific objections.  However, with the track record we have of Obama so far, I doubt that U.S. interests will be protected by this administration in the negotiations of these treaties.

The final comment that I have deals with the final bullet in this chapter.  The progress toward a "world free of nuclear weapons" mentioned there is incredibly NAIVE unless we are talking about developing technology that can and will be used even if the U.S. maintains a nuclear stockpile.

Just a few more of these posts left...

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