Iran’s most contested stockpile declines significantly
Fredrik Dahl, Reuters – February 20, 2014
The size of Iran’s most contested uranium stockpile has decreased significantly for the very first time in four years after the historic first step deal was established last November. “The decrease has been quite important…progress has been quite substantial in terms of inventory,” said a senior diplomat. According to the IAEA, Iran’s reserve of 20 percent uranium gas has now fallen from 196kg to 161 kg, whereas approximately 250 kg is needed for the core of one nuclear warhead.
Agenda Established, Next Iran Talks: March 17
Associated Press – February 20, 2014
Iran and the P5 +1 have announced they have agreed to a plan to introduce a comprehensive deal that reduces worry over Tehran’s nuclear program. According to the sides, the next round of negotiations will begin in Vienna on March 17. “We’ve identified the issues we need to address for a comprehensive and final agreement,” said EU top diplomat Catherine Ashton. Now it’s just a waiting game to see whether the good start to the talks will continue throughout the negotiations.
The U.S. Air Force defends Long-Range Bomber
Aaron Mehta, Defense News – February 20, 2014
On Thursday the Air Force said it needs its new long-range strike bomber program, even if it can’t give the exact details (because it’s classified), to a panel at an Air Force Symposium in Florida. The panel included a full on defense of how the long-range strike bomber (LRS-B) is a key asset for the future of the Air Force. According to military officials, “Bombers can send messages. They can influence or initiate action, and are credible because of what they have done in the past.” Officials also clarified that the expected range number of 80-100 bombers to be produced is more about uncertainty over the price.
Colombia signs nuclear security agreement
Global Security Staff, Global Security Newswire – February 20, 2014
This week Colombia ratified an international protocol, which would require it to take extra steps in nuclear security. Colombia gave the IAEA signed documents for the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Weapons. The signed Amendment protects nuclear facilities and material in peaceful domestic use, transport and storage, and protects nuclear facilities against acts of terrorism. Although the U.S. itself has not signed it, it is urging some nations participating in the upcoming Nuclear Security Summit in March to ratify it.
DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
Department of Agency Blamed for Exceeding Costs
Rachel Oswald, Global Security Newswire – February 20, 2014
A U.S. congress watchdog is blaming the Department of Energy for not having an idea as to why costs have increased so much on a key nonproliferation program. The increase in $3 billion in costs has been put towards a project in South Carolina with efforts to dispose surplus weapons-grade plutonium by transforming it into an atomic reactor fuel. The Government Accountability Office has noted the National Nuclear Security Administration (within the Department of Energy) has historically had “difficulty in completing projects within cost and schedule.”
Fears of chemical weapons still being used
Josh Rogin, The Daily Beast – February 20, 2014
On January 13, five people were killed and more than 20 injured after being exposed to a mysterious gas. Some Syrian activists and witnesses believe the attack is proof that the Syrian government is still in possession and using chemical weapons against its own people, months after the Assad regime has promised to give up its arsenal. A group of survivors visited Washington this month to press the White House and politicians to take a more active role in the atrocities and to further investigate this alleged January 13th attack. As of now, U.S. intelligence officials have reported that they do not think the allegations are credible, and that the rebels can’t get their story straight.