US Nuclear Stockpile Reductions
US general asks cut in nuclear stockpile
Bryan Bender, Boston Globe – August 6, 2012
The Pentagon calls the stockpile an “active reserve.” Others call it a hidden nuclear arsenal. International arms control treaties do not apply to it and officials rarely discuss it publicly. But now, the nation’s backup supply of nuclear weapons may be next up for major cuts. For the first time a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is suggesting the United States’ nuclear weapons reserve is too large and becoming too expensive to maintain.
Analysis: Israeli rhetoric not seen leading to Iran war
Chrispian Balmer, Reuters – August 2, 2012
For all its recent tough talk, Israel looks highly unlikely to launch an attack against Iran ahead of U.S. presidential elections in November, hoping that Washington will ultimately do the heavy lifting… An array of analysts in Israel see an Israeli strike in coming months as unlikely, pointing to the huge difficulties posed by military action coupled with the political intricacies of defying Washington in the run-up to the U.S. vote. An Israeli official told Reuters Netanyahu’s inner council, comprising the coalition’s eight top ministers, had not discussed Iran in detail since last year, suggesting there was nothing imminent in the works.
Report: Cleanup Activity at Suspected Parchin Test Site Appears Complete: Site Considerably Altered
David Albright and Robert Avagyan, ISIS – August 1, 2012
Commercial satellite imagery from July 25, 2012 of a site at the Parchin military complex shows what appears to be the final result of considerable sanitization and earth displacement activity (see figure 1). The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) suspects that this complex contains a high explosive testing chamber that was used for nuclear weapons related development.
EU Ashton: Want Iran Confidence Building Measures ‘Now’
Laurence Norman, Wall Street Journal – August 2, 2012
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton spoke with Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, Thursday and impressed on him the need for Iran to take confidence-building steps “now,” the European Union said in a statement. It is the first time Mrs. Ashton and Dr. Jalili have spoken since talks in Moscow regarding Iran’s nuclear activities failed mid-June. Since then, EU technical experts have met with their Iranian counterparts, and last week the deputies of Mrs. Ashton and Dr. Jalili met in Istanbul.
DoD Mounts Push To Placate Israel
Barbara Opall-Rome, Defense News – August 4, 2012
As visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was engaging in high-profile attempts to placate Israel anxieties over a nuclearizing Iran, his acquisition chief was working under the radar here all week on a package of programs to bolster Israel’s military edge.
US Nuclear Security
U.S. nuclear bomb facility shut after security breach
Mark Hosenball, Defense News – August 3, 2012
The U.S. government’s only facility for handling, processing and storing weapons-grade uranium has been temporarily shut after anti-nuclear activists, including an 82-year-old nun, breached security fences, government officials said on Thursday. WSI Oak Ridge, the contractor responsible for protecting the facility at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, is owned by the international security firm G4S, which was at the center of a dispute over security at the London Olympic Games. Officials said the facility was shut down on Wednesday at least until next week after three activists cut through perimeter fences to reach the outer wall of a building where highly enriched uranium, a key nuclear bomb component, is stored.
Two Top Afghan Security Ministers Face Dismissal
Alissa J. Rubin,New York Times – August 4, 2012
The Afghan Parliament voted Saturday to dismiss the two most powerful members of President Hamid Karzai’s security team, a surprise move that could create new turmoil as the United States-led coalition prepares to leave the country.
Remember the war in Afghanistan? Obama and Romney don’t seem to.
Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post – August 3, 2012
There are still almost 80,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and each month brings a few dozen home in coffins — more than 2,000 since 2001. Hundreds more arrive on medical evacuation flights, many of them without a limb. The war will cost taxpayers more than $100 billion this year. The Taliban, which enjoys sanctuary in nuclear-armed Pakistan, continues to conduct devastating attacks on the Afghan government and the civilian population. But you wouldn’t know any of it from listening to President Obama and Mitt Romney on the campaign trail.
Broken Budget System at NNSA
John Fleck, Journal North – August 2, 2012
The National Nuclear Security Administration, under fire for massive cost overruns on projects in New Mexico and elsewhere, doesn’t thoroughly review its own budget estimates before it sends them to Congress, according to auditors at the Government Accountability Office. A top agency official disputed the finding, but acknowledged improvements are needed in its budget process. Rising costs of a new plutonium building at Los Alamos National Laboratory, which saw a sixfold increase before the project was shelved this year, are evidence of a broken budget management system at the agency, GAO auditors found.
Pentagon Official Blames U.S. Bomb Cost Hike on “Incomplete” DOE Agency Estimate
Elaine M. Grossman, Global Security Newswire – August 3, 2012
A U.S. Defense Department official has blamed an “incomplete” initial cost estimate last year by the Energy Department’s nuclear security organization for new revelations that a program to revamp the B-61 nuclear gravity bomb has more than doubled in price. The effort to extend the service life of hundreds of the aircraft-launched weapons will cost $10 billion, in stark contrast to a $4 billion estimate the National Nuclear Security Administration, a semiautonomous DOE arm, had first projected. “The earlier [figure] was a rough estimate based on incomplete knowledge,” said the senior Defense official, who was not authorized to address the matter publicly and demanded anonymity for this article.