WMD Articles

Global Insights

When it Comes to Nonproliferation, China Has Been a ‘Free Rider’

By Richard Weitz
, , Column

The Chinese, U.S. President Barack Obama said in a recent interview, “have been free riders for the last 30 years,” while the U.S. has maintained international security for the good of the world. Although Obama might not have meant to be so blunt, his remarks reflect a widespread view within Washington that China, in order to minimize foreign risks, has not been as helpful on many global issues, especially nonproliferation. more

Iran’s Rouhani Stokes Domestic Backlash With Attack on Critics

By Nader Habibi
, , Briefing

In an address last week to Foreign Ministry officials, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani did not hold back his frustration with critics of nuclear negotiations with the P5+1. Deviating from his usual calm and moderate tone, Rouhani told his critics to go “to hell.” The backlash could further polarize Iranian politics and bring deep-rooted tensions between reformists and conservatives to the surface. more

In Training Partner Militaries, U.S. Should Not Rush to ‘Do Something’ in Africa

By Michelle Sieff
, , Briefing

As African heads of state gather in Washington this week for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the continent’s overall security progress shouldn’t obscure its ongoing challenges, including violent Islamist extremism. With the shift in U.S. counterterrorism strategy from direct to indirect action—training partner or indigenous troops—U.S. policymakers and the military must confront critical strategic and practical issues. more

Congressional Republicans Seize on Russia’s Missile Treaty Violation

By Eric Auner
, , Trend Lines

Last week, the State Department officially reported that Russia had violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty when it tested cruise missiles. Republican lawmakers expressed immediate dismay with the Obama administration; some even advocated U.S. withdrawal from the treaty. Even if Republicans shy away from that, the INF issue will continue to serve as a locus of anti-Russian sentiment. more

The Realist Prism

Syria, Ukraine May Force Obama to Learn to Love Coalitions of the Willing

By Nikolas Gvosdev
, , Column

Democrats often mocked the George W. Bush administration's invocation of "coalitions of the willing" to legitimize U.S. action abroad. Once back in power, they argued, Democrats would be able to generate genuine multilateral support to back U.S. initiatives. Although the Obama administration initially seemed to fulfill those predictions, two crises now threaten to derail the Obama approach to multilateralism. more

Global Insights

China Advances on Missile Defense, With Eye on Dissuading Rivals

By Richard Weitz
, , Column

On July 23, China conducted its third declared ballistic missile defense test in the past four years, with the Ministry of Defense announcing afterward that the test “achieved the desired objectives.” But it would be premature to conclude that Beijing now embraces BMD. Instead, the recent tests are designed primarily to overcome adversary missile defenses as well as to develop China’s anti-satellite systems. more

The Realist Prism

On Iran and Russia, Obama Gambling for More Time

By Nikolas Gvosdev
, , Column

Though it is axiomatic that almost any foreign policy action taken by President Barack Obama will be reflexively criticized by the Republican opposition, in recent months congressional Democrats have been more willing to publicly voice critiques of the president’s performance. But Obama appears to be willing to swallow his pride and suffer domestic political attacks if it buys him time and maneuvering room.

more

Strategic Posture Review: Israel

By Shai Feldman
, , Report

Israel’s threat environment has changed dramatically in recent years, especially when compared to that which Israel faced when its defense doctrine was first articulated and its force structure was first conceived. This report will discuss these changes, identify the new challenges Israel faces, characterize the domestic environment affecting defense allocations and attempt to ascertain the implications of these factors for Israeli strategy. The conclusion will elaborate on the debate now taking place within the country’s defense community about the future doctrine and force structure of the Israel Defense Forces. more

With Negotiations Extended, U.S. Ponders Future of Iran Sanctions

By Eric Auner
, , Trend Lines

The extension of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 countries includes allowing Iran to access $2.8 billion of its restricted assets. That has many in Washington debating the effect of previous sanctions relief and whether threatening or imposing future sanctions would improve the U.S. hand in negotiations. But analysis is mixed over the extent to which this relief has boosted Iran’s economy. more

What Western Ukraine Stands to Gain From EU Association Agreement

By David Klion
, , Trend Lines

Last month, Ukraine’s newly elected President Petro Poroshenko signed an association agreement with the European Union. While EU integration has long been unpopular in Ukraine’s contested east and in the Russian-annexed Crimea, the mood in the west is far more enthusiastic. On top of existing cultural connections, western Ukraine has much to gain from the association agreement’s promised reduction of tariffs. more

Diplomatic Fallout

Syria’s Chemical Arms Destroyed, but Aid Effort Unravels

By Richard Gowan
, , Column

Although no end to the war in Syria is in sight, remnants of international cooperation have survived. The U.S. and Russia have dismantled Syria’s chemical arms stockpile, and the U.N. is, in theory, committed to getting humanitarian aid into the country. This ugly modus vivendi is arguably a potential model for big-power cooperation in managing future conflicts. But is even this minimal consensus sustainable? more

Global Insights

Despite Softer Rhetoric, Iran Foreign Policy Shows Little Change

By Richard Weitz
, , Column

One of the major issues affecting U.S. deliberations over whether to accept a nuclear deal with Iran or to cooperate with Tehran in Iraq is the question of how much Iranian foreign policy has changed under President Hassan Rouhani. In fact, a survey of Iranian foreign policy during the past year shows major improvements in only a few areas, with a harder line on other issues and broad continuity in most cases. more

Factions in U.S., Iran Continue to Dispute Purpose of Talks

By Eric Auner
, , Trend Lines

Representatives from the U.S.-led P5+1 countries and Iran met earlier this month for talks on Iran’s nuclear program that observers generally agree were inconclusive. As the parties prepare for the next round in Vienna June 16-20 and the July 20 deadline for a final agreement approaches, domestic forces in both the United States and Iran are trying to affect the goals and substance of a final agreement. more

Global Insights

After Ukraine, Limited Prospects for U.S.-Russian Security Cooperation

By Richard Weitz
, , Column

I spent part of last week in Russia, giving a talk at the Moscow Carnegie Center on U.S.-Russia security cooperation after Ukraine, and attending a security conference organized by the Russian Defense Ministry. The difference between the two audiences was striking, and in the end, only a few opportunities for near-term cooperation were identified, most notably regarding Afghanistan and Iran’s nuclear program. more

Global Insights

West Joins China, Russia to Promote Nuke-Free Central Asia

By Richard Weitz
, , Column

At a ceremony on the margins of last week’s Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty meeting, France, the U.K. and the U.S. reversed their long-standing opposition and joined China and Russia in signing the protocol to the Central Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Agreement. The signing demonstrates that even in moments of great power tensions, nuclear nonproliferation remains an issue of consensus and cooperation. more

Global Insights

NATO’s Missile Defense Counteroffensive to Ukraine

By Richard Weitz
, , Column

As part of their response to perceived Russian meddling in eastern Ukraine, the U.S. and its NATO allies are considering increasing U.S. missile defenses based in NATO’s European member states. While Moscow clearly hates these U.S. systems, and placing them near Russia is sure to capture Moscow’s attention, the U.S. missile defense response needs to be nuanced to yield net benefits to Western security. more

Full-Spectrum Diplomacy

Though Still Uncertain, Obama’s Legacy Begins to Take Shape

By Heather Hurlburt
, , Column

President Barack Obama’s trip to Asia this past week seemed to push the “legacy” cliche button in the minds of editors everywhere, even though we’re still six months from the midterm elections. For right now, at least, a more interesting question to ask might be: In national security and foreign policy, how has Obama set the stage so that he and his team can construct a legacy over the next two years? more

Syrian Chemical Weapons Destruction Proceeding Slowly

By Eric Auner
, , Trend Lines

One of the Obama administration’s biggest foreign policy gambles, the agreement to rid Syria of its chemical weapons in the midst of that country’s civil war, is behind schedule but still making progress. Despite tensions over Ukraine and the outcome of the Syrian civil war itself, the United States, Russia and others appear to be maintaining cooperation on the issue. more

Hungary Risks Putinization, Isolation After Orban Re-Election

By Andrew MacDowall
, , Briefing

“The outcome of the elections is an obvious, unambiguous mandate for us to continue what we have begun.” So said Hungary’s populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban after his Fidesz party trounced the left-liberal opposition in an April poll that also saw the vote share of the far right top 20 percent. The continuation might entail more of Orban’s centralizing and nationalist policies, as well a tilt toward Russia. more

Despite Rift, U.S. and Russia Seek to Keep Arms Control On Track

By Eric Auner
, , Trend Lines

Even as the United States works with allies to isolate Russia diplomatically and deter further Russian aggression, the Obama administration hopes to maintain business as usual in efforts to restrain threats from nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Russian cooperation is a prerequisite for almost any meaningful progress in tackling nuclear and WMD proliferation in Iran and elsewhere. more

Global Insights: Global Nuclear Security Agenda at Pivot Point

By Richard Weitz
, , Column

President Barack Obama’s whirlwind visit to Europe began yesterday against the looming shadow of the Ukraine crisis. While Obama will seek to rally Western resistance to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and affirm the administration’s strong commitment to European security, the trip was initially scheduled to coincide with the third Nuclear Security Summit, which focuses on preventing nuclear terrorism. more