Smarter than a Nuclear Launch Officer?
Mark Thompson, TIME, – February 13, 2014
The tests nuclear launch officers are required to take are considered so difficult, two of them involving missiles and the codes used to launch them are open book tests and yet are still difficult to pass with a 100%. According to experts, having thousands of pages on technical orders on Air Force ICBM’s doesn’t help much. Unfortunately, scoring 100% on these tests has become the only way to earn promotions within the missile force, and therefore, many officers have succumbed to cheating. The pressure to cheat is intense, as a former Minuteman crew operator has said, “It’s pervasive because the leadership places so much emphasis on rote test scores in advance.” In light of the recent scandals, airmen retook their tests under intense scrutiny to ensure there was no cheating and the average test score was 95.5%. “They’re not cheating to pass—they’re cheating to get 100s because so much emphasis is placed to advance,” says a former officer.
Iranian Black Gold Increasing Exports
Keith Johnson, Jamila Trindle, Foreign Policy – February 13, 2014
A rise in Iran’s oil exports has raised the fear that Tehran will less likely become persuaded to sign a permanent deal on its nuclear program. Oil has been the “lifeblood” of Iran’s economy, and President Obama and his allies have spent years attempting to strangle its oil industry as a way of forcing Iran to come to the negotiating table. The IAEA reported that Iran’s oil exports spiked by 100,000 barrels a day in January, worth almost $4 billion/month. Some U.S. politicians have argued that the interim agreement the Obama Administration signed with Iran and the other members of the P5 +1 has simply allowed too much relief for Iran. The partial relief in sanctions that came with this agreement has indeed allowed for more Iranian oil exports to take place, but Obama has warned that the U.S would come down on sanctions violators “like a ton of bricks.”
More than 100 House Members support diplomacy
Ben Armbruster, Think Progress – February 12, 2014
More than 100 members of the House of Representatives—Democrats and Republicans—have now signed a letter supporting President Obama’s diplomacy efforts to Iran’s nuclear program and have urged colleagues to avoid “passing bills or resolutions that could jeopardize current talks with Tehran.” The push for more sanctions on Iran has died down a bit for now, and the congressional debate seems to be looking forward to the terms of a final agreement with Iran.
Kerry pushes China on North Korea Nukes
Simon Denyer, The Washington Post – February 14, 2014
While on his tour through Asia, Secretary of State Kerry said that China’s leaders were willing to put more pressure on North Korea if it did not return to talks about its nuclear weapons program. Although the leaders of the two nations discussed other issues, North Korea’s nuclear program topped the agenda. Washington-based China experts said it was unlikely that Beijing would push its long time ally of North Korea too far over the issue, but Kerry did report that both sides exchanged ideas on how to put more pressure on Pyongyang and that China was deeply concerned about instability in the Korean Peninsula and preferred a diplomacy route.
North and South Korea wrap up high level talks
Giles Hewitt, AP – February 13, 2014
The two Koreas wrapped up a second round of talks on Friday aiming to secure an agreement for family reunifications. The first round of talks marked the highest level of talks for seven years, but soon after South Korean-U.S. exercises took place over the peninsula, North Korea threatened to end the talks, as Pyongyang fears the drills are provocative rehearsals for war. Apparently, by calling on this year’s exercises to be delayed (not necessarily permanent cancellation), experts are saying that Pyongyang seemed to indicate it could live with the exercises. Although these current talks are just focused on family reunifications, some say that an agreement could signal a willingness to explore other issues.
Desmond Tutu’s World Without Nukes
Desmond Tutu, CNN – February 13, 2014
Desmond Tutu, Nobel Laureate and bishop, expressed his views on nuclear non-proliferation in an op-ed CNN article, urging the international community to establish a new course in arms controls discussions. Tutu emphasized that after Nelson Mandela was freed from prison, South Africa’s then President Frederick Willem de Klerk, issued instructions to dismantle the nation’s atomic arsenal and Mandela frequently implored the remaining nuclear powers to do the same. With ministers and diplomats from various countries currently convened in the Mexican state of Nayarit to discuss the effects of nuclear detonations, Tutu especially pressed that this type of work is a much-needed reminder “of what nuclear weapons do to human beings—something seldom mentioned in the arms control community.”