It is by now the consensus view that the primary strategic beneficiary of the Iraq War has been Iran. By this view, the removal of a hostile regime in Baghdad has not only moved Iraq into the Iranian sphere of influence, but has also opened the floodgates for Tehran to extend its influence westward throughout the Middle East. This analysis, while compelling, begs the question: If Iran has “won” the Iraq War, just what has it really won? In a best-case scenario of a stable Iraq, it still amounts to a potentially volatile and dangerous relationship, and definitely a high-maintenance […]

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According to Le Figaro, the language of the Iran sanctions draft resolution (.pdf) floated last week by the Obama administration would not prohibit delivery of the long-contracted but repeatedly delayed Iranian purchase of Russian S-300 air defense systems. The draft prohibits the sale or transfer to Iran of “missiles or missile systems as defined for the purpose of the United Nations Register on Conventional Arms.” As Le Fig points out, that register explicitly does not include ground-to-air missiles such as the S-300. Pretty clever, as far as stealth concessions to Russia go.

The last few weeks have been disappointing ones for European diplomacy and energy politics, to say the least. At the beginning of April, Russia began construction of the Nord Stream pipeline, which will bring up to 55 billion cubic meters a year of additional Russian gas to Germany, bypassing non-EU transit countries as well as the Baltic republics and Poland. Moscow also began floating proposals for a joint-venture between Gazprom and Ukraine’s Naftogaz, raising the real possibility of Russian participation in the troublesome Ukrainian pipeline network. Although the EU initially opposed the two Russian initiatives, Brussels ultimately expressed acceptance. Its […]

Last week, the group of experts assisting with the drafting of NATO’s new Strategic Concept released their final report, entitled “NATO 2020: Assured Security, Dynamic Engagement.” In anticipation of the planned Strategic Concept, which is scheduled for approval at this November’s NATO heads-of-state summit in Lisbon, the experts’ report recommends how the alliance should define its purpose, nature, and fundamental security tasks in the contemporary and future security environment. Since last fall, the 12-member group, led by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, has convened a series of public and private meetings in various countries to discuss international security […]

The curtain rose on yet another act in the Iran drama this week. It began with the “diplomatic breakthrough” achieved by Brazil and Turkey: an Iranian agreement in principle to the fuel swap proposal, by which uranium is sent out of the country, turned into fuel rods, and returned for peaceful, civilian use. The plot thickened with the announcement by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — and in particular Russia and China — had agreed to bring to the table for discussion a draft resolution imposing a fourth set […]

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Secretary Clinton testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on The New START Treaty. Clinton says that this treaty, as with the ones that came before it, is better than not having any assurances at all. She says that a drawdown in nuclear stockpiles is a sign of the times and that the current heightened level of nuclear arms possessed by both Russia and U.S. dates back to Cold War levels and is largely unnecessary.

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My first reaction on reading the draft resolution of the U.N. sanctions against Iran (.pdf) now being circulated was that the economic component seemed pretty ho-hum, certainly far from the crippling measures we’ve been hearing about for the past few months. On the other hand, the military component caught my eye, because it seemed to put the kabosh on any hope Iran might still have of taking delivery of the Russian-made S-300 air defense missile systems it had contracted for. Today the AFP is reporting that if the draft stands as written, that is in fact the case. That represents […]

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Just a few quick thoughts on the Iran fuel swap deal brokered by Trukey and Brazil. First, it shows that the threat of U.N. sanctions was tactically effective, even if the actual sanctions themselves prove to be strategically ineffective. The threatened fourth round, and the diplomatic isolation among the permanent UNSC members that it implied, was probably a motivating factor in getting Iran to sign on, and definitely the motivating factor in generating Turkish and Brazilian involvement. Second, it’s premature to say that the deal is proof of Turkey reaching the “big leagues” in terms of its diplomatic stature. Sometimes […]

For the first time since American and Soviet missiles silently faced off across the vast, icy expanse of their northernmost Arctic territories during the Cold War, the Arctic is again becoming a strategic concern. As global climate change forces both permanent and seasonal sea ice to recede, the world is gaining what amounts to a brand new ocean — one that has never been fished, rarely navigated, and has waters that are thought to be rich with natural resources. In 2009, the United States Geological Survey estimated that the Arctic contains over 90 billion barrels of oil, 1,669 trillion cubic […]

The Obama administration is moving ahead with a James Baker-style strategy in attempting to persuade Russia to support stronger and stricter sanctions against Iran. This week, the president submitted the “123 Agreement” on civilian nuclear cooperation to Congress. The agreement had been initialed during the Bush administration, but was withdrawn from congressional consideration after the Russia-Georgia war in 2008. It will now take effect unless both houses of Congress pass legislation to block its implementation within a 90-day period. The agreement matters a great deal to the Russian nuclear industry, which, along with the country’s oil and gas complexes, makes […]

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The Antarctic Treaty Conference in Uruguay wraps up tomorrow, ending two weeks of discussions between more than 350 foreign officials, on pressing issues such as conflicting territorial claims and environmental threats to the region. In an e-mail interview, Danila Bochkarev, Energy Security Associate at the EastWest Institute, explains the current political climate in the Antarctic. WPR: What is the current territorial status of Antarctica under the Antarctic Treaty, and how would current territorial claims change that? Bochkarev: The Antarctic Treaty of 1959, which relates to all land mass and ice shelves south of 60 degrees south latitude, bans military and […]

At a recent NATO foreign ministers meeting in Tallinn, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the United States would not withdraw its tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs) from Europe in the near-term future. Clinton also said that these weapons should only be drawn down if done so simultaneously with similar Russian systems. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen echoed these sentiments and stated that U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe are an integral part of the alliance’s deterrent. But in addition to being increasingly unpopular among U.S. allies, the estimated 150-200 U.S. TNWs in Europe (.pdf) also lack military utility and […]

Iran’s alleged clandestine pursuit of a nuclear-weapon capability dominated the headlines last week during the ongoing Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference. However, beyond the theatrics of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s verbal exchange, it is important to remember, and ultimately to address, the root cause of the Iranian nuclear problem — namely, the spread of dual-use technologies such as uranium enrichment to countries outside the ring of first-order world powers. The problem with uranium enrichment is its ambiguity: It is a vital component of the civilian nuclear power industry, yet it can also be […]

This World Politics Review special report is a compilation of World Politics Review’s top articles on the global nuclear agenda from July 2009 through April 2010. The report includes articles on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. Below are links to each article, which subscribers can read in full. Subscribers can also download a pdf version of the report. Not a subscriber? Subscribe now, or try our subscription service for free. Disarmament Movement Needs Youth Involvement to Counter Cynicism By Johan Bergen√§sJuly 30, 2009Moving Past STARTBy Richard WeitzAugust 4, 2009Obama’s Challenging NPT AgendaBy Miles A. PomperAugust 4, 2009Keeping Swords, Building PlowsharesBy […]

In recent weeks, the members of the Obama administration have developed a comprehensive strategy for the Eighth Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which began yesterday. The administration’s declared position is to use the conference and other opportunities to strengthen all three of the treaty’s core objectives or “pillars”: disarmament, nonproliferation, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. U.S. officials have stressed their support for the fundamental trilateral bargain behind the NPT: Countries with nuclear weapons will move towards eliminating them; states without nuclear weapons will not seek to obtain them; and all countries will enjoy access to peaceful […]

President Barack Obama’s multipronged approach to minimizing nuclear risks — embodied in the simultaneous roll out of the Nuclear Posture Review, the START follow-on treaty with Russia, and the Nuclear Security Summit — is nothing if not ambitious. Taken together, these steps mark a potential turning-point for U.S. nuclear strategy by reducing the role of nuclear weapons and by prioritizing efforts to lock down weapons-usable material, clamping down on nuclear terrorism, and strengthening international rules against proliferation. As the Nuclear Posture Review puts it, “Changes in the nuclear threat environment have altered the hierarchy of our nuclear concerns and strategic […]