Following scandals, SecDef Hagel orders outside review of nuclear missile crews
Robert Burns, AP – January 23, 2014
A cheating scandal–itself linked to a drug scandal–is the latest in a string of incidents involving US nuclear missile crews, and the revelations have finally prompted a serious reaction from higher-ups in the Department of Defense. The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation’s own Kingston Reif has been quoted as saying that a review does not go far enough. Rather, “Our civilian and military leaders must also think more creatively and more seriously about reshaping our nuclear posture to reflect the current security environment.”
Pentagon study identifies major “nuclear monitoring gaps”
David E. Sanger and William J. Broad, New York Times – January 23, 2014
According to a study conducted by the DOD Defense Science Board, the US does not have the proper tools to detect and monitor small, possibly clandestine foreign nuclear programs. The study calls for greater investment in signals intelligence (SIGINT) collection, more use of open source materials, and more extensive collaboration between the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, and Intelligence Community. The response to the study has been mixed, especially given its emphasis on increased SIGINT capabilities at a time when the NSA is under much scrutiny.
China tests ICBM, releases photos in likely gesture toward US
Minnie Chan, South China Morning Post – January 23, 2014
China tested its Dongfeng-31, an ICBM first acquired in 2006 and purportedly with the range to strike portions of the United States, and subsequently published the first public photos of any such test. The move has been described as an action intended to demonstrate China’s deterrence capability to the US, which has recently bolstered its military presence in the region.
North Korea changes tone, not much else
Giles Hewitt, AFP – January 24, 2014
North Korea has continued to ask South Korea to cancel planned military drills with the United States due to be held in February and March. While North Korea had previously threatened South Korea with “an unimaginable holocaust” should the drills take place, North Korea has more recently asked nicely, saying that this is an opportunity for “reconciliation and unity” on the Korean Peninsula. South Korea has not accepted North Korea’s calls to abandon the drills, and experts suggest that North Korea simply hopes to make the world believe that South Korean intransigence is to blame for the rift between the two states.
Details of a final nuclear deal proposed, may be hard to achieve
Bradley Klapper and Julia Pace, AP – January 23, 2014
A recent study by the Institute for Science and International Security suggests that a final nuclear deal will need to involve the removal of 15,000 of Iran’s 20,000 centrifuges, the shut-down of an underground enrichment site, and limits put on the heavy water reactor at Arak. Iranian officials have not commented specifically on those proposals, but it is clear that any such deal will take a long time to finalize, and Iran will likely resist such deep cuts to its nuclear program.