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More of NPEC’s Work
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Articles | Working Papers & Monographs | Interviews | Official Docs & Letters | Op-Eds & Blogs | Press Releases | Presentations | Audio & Video | Testimony & Transcripts | Translations | Wargame Reports
 
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Asia, Pacific Rim
Jan 06, 2021 How to Think about Our Rivalry with China and Russia
  On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, Henry Sokolski gave an interview with The John Batchelor Show. We’re trading a lot, at least with China; quite unlike the Cold War.  Another complication is that our ideological opposition to what's going on in China and Russia is a lot less than the fear and loathing were during the Cold War. Finally, our allies have reason to want to do business with them.  China’s and Russia’s militaries work hand in glove with each other. A change is that many people know the malice of China in intentionally releasing the virus, with over 300,000 deaths.  However, many of China’s trading partners want nothing to do with China’s strategic cooperation. South Korea wants to rejoin with the North; not fully [aligned] with Japan. India and Australia.  A lot of other stuff needs attending to beneath that. It's a lot more complicated than formerly. Space: does this moot the success of strategic arms treaties of the last century?  No.  . . . an upcoming period of US vulnerability is space. Deterrence: a different meaning from during Cold War; no longer based in seas, air, ground, but on eyes, ears, voice from space. Absent these, a sort of lobotomy.      
Interviews; Audio & Video
Nov 05, 2020 Three Neglected Space Issues: Laser ASATs, Cooperation with China and Russia, and Space Secrecy
Earlier this summer, NPEC and the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Law and National Security held their fifth space policy workshop, “Three Neglected Space Issues: Laser ASAT's, Cooperation with China and Russia, and Space Secrecy.” Attached is the workshop report. Very little has been said publicly about the Chinese and Russian ground-based anti-satellite weapon threat. The first panel clarified this threat. Like rendezvous satellites, ground-based lasers have perfectly legitimate civilian applications. However, they also can be used to disrupt, dazzle, and destroy important military satellites. Some technical fixes against this threat are possible. It also would be desirable to have certain rules governing the operations of these ground-based systems. Devising either set of fixes, however, are not possible without discussing these matters in a more open fashion. The second panel focused on how excessive secrecy is hobbling America’s military space programs and related space control diplomacy. The details of how self-defeating some forms of secrecy are and what should be done about it were extensively discussed. Finally, the third panel focused on space cooperation with Russia and China. What is the future of such cooperation? Might more cooperation help sort out rules for military space operations or is additional space cooperation ill-advised? On these matters, the participant’s views were divided: Some thought space cooperation was the best way to promote needed space control rules; others believed it would be unlikely China would ever comply. Below is the workshop’s report. The impressive list of speakers and participants included James Clapper, former director of national intelligence, Mike Rogers former Chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, Michael Gold, acting associate NASA administrator, and Simon “Pete” Worden of Breakthrough Initiatives.
Testimony & Transcripts
Oct 31, 2020 A China Wargame for the New Administration
As President Biden fills out his national security team, deterring Chinese adventurism, particularly towards Taiwan, will be necessary to keep the peace. Last October, NPEC conducted a series of wargames that had Beijing stopping all cargo ships bound for Taiwan and demanding that they pay a duty to Mainland China. Attached is a final report on these games, which engaged 20 Hill, Pentagon, State, and Intelligence Community staff. Although the United States and its Pacific allies did all they could to avoid military conflict in the games, a shooting war ensued. Fortunately, the U.S. and its allies were able to produce a stalemate without going nuclear. There were two important take-aways. The first is that the United States needs to work more vigorously with its Indo-Pacific allies to deter Beijing from using military force to intimidate Taiwan and China’s other neighbors. The report lists several ways to do this.  Second, the U.S. needs to revitalize its efforts to dissuade Japan and South Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons. This needs to begin now, before any regional crisis, such as an invasion of Taiwan, might prompt Japan or South Korea to get their own nuclear weapons. Any such U.S.-led nonproliferation effort must also address China’s nuclear materials and weapons build-up.   
Wargame Reports
Oct 22, 2020 Mitchell Institute Talk
Presentations; Audio & Video
Oct 21, 2020 "What Missile-driven Competition with China Will Look Like," American Purpose
Earlier this week, administration officials said they were close to reaching an agreement with Moscow to extend the New START arms control agreement for an additional year. They made it clear that they wanted to use the year to get China to join the talks with Washington and Moscow. Assuming this takes place, though, what would the US, Russia, and China talk about? In the short-run, it's unclear. In the long-run, the matter of China's missiles (they have more than anyone else) must come up. In the below analysis published by American Purpose, I look out the next 5, 10, 15 and 20 years.  The United States and its allies have their work cut out for them. China is likely to bubild up its nuclear and conventional missile forces even further in an attempt to gain advantage over the United States and its friends not just in the Western Pacific, but globally. The United States and its friends, however, can and will compete militarily and diplomatically, all of which is discussed below. 
Articles; Op-Eds & Blogs
Sep 13, 2020 A Project Best Not Done: South Korean Nuclear Submarines
  Churchill once remarked the only thing worse than fighting with allies is fighting without them. Reviewing South Korea’s plans to build nuclear submarines, one gets the impression that Seoul may unwittingly be trying to do both: If it proceeds to acquire nuclear submarines, Seoul will needlessly spend more to achieve less to counter both surface and underwater naval threats and will weaken its military operational ties to the U.S. Navy. In fact, South Korea could buy far more nonnuclear anti-submarine and surface capabilities by foregoing the nuclear option and tighten their operational ties with the U.S. in the process.   It does not help that South Korea’s pursuit of nuclear submarines raises nuclear proliferation concerns. Any attempt by Seoul to fuel these boats will require renegotiating the U.S.-South Korean nuclear cooperation agreement. There is a good reason why: Getting into the uranium enrichment business would give Seoul a sure-fire nuclear weapons option.   To examine how much sense South Korea’s proposed nuclear submarine program makes militarily, NPEC commissioned James O. Campbell Jr., Lead Yard Production Manager at the Naval Sea Systems Command, to contrast these nuclear systems against the military potency and economic efficiency of their nonnuclear alternatives. The attached year-long study makes the case that Seoul’s enthusiasm for building their own nuclear submarines is misplaced.    It may well be that the United States will always have difficulty dictating to its allies what weapons they must buy from the United States. At a minimum, however, friends don’t let friends spend more to make everyone less secure. Given the much better nonnuclear anti-submarine and anti-surface system alternatives that Mr. Campbell has identified, South Korean enthusiasm for building nuclear submarines is just such a case.    
Working Papers & Monographs
Aug 24, 2020 "Will North Korea Benefit from Joe Biden's Plan for Iran?," The National Interest
 "Will North Korea Benefit from Joe Biden's Plan for Iran?" is an op-ed Henry Sokolski wrote. It appeared in The National Interest on August 24, 2020. 
Op-Eds & Blogs
Aug 05, 2020 "Thinking Hard About Missile Defense," RealClearDefense
Last month, the Japanese canceled on a major US-Japan missile defense project, Aegis Ashore. Japanese officials cited cost and effectiveness as issues driving their decision. The question now is what Japan and the US might do next. Much of the discussion has focused on different kinds of offensive missile or active missile defense measures.  This is too narrow a focus. As Bryan Clark of the Hudson Institute and I argue in the attached Real Clear Defense piece, “Thinking Hard about Missile Defense,” a key part of the missile defense solution for Japan lies in perfecting passive defenses — mobility, camouflage, decoys...and hardening. These first three types of passive defense are hardly new. Hardening, however, is undergoing a quiet technical revolution with the advent of ultra high performance concrete, which is five to ten times more resilient than conventional reinforced concrete.  When combined with other more traditional forms of passive defense, ultra hardening can geometrically increase the number of weapons needed for an attack because an adversary has to assume each potential target is hardened. It also should reduce missile defense requirements significantly, making terminal limited foot-print active defense systems, like Patriot and other shorter range missile defense systems, sufficient where previously they might have been dismissed as inadequate. As Washington works with its allies to protect key overseas bases, how much missile defense of what type is going to be a major issue that will be easier to work if passive defenses and hardening are dialed in.      
Op-Eds & Blogs
Jul 23, 2020 The American Security Case for Seoul and Tokyo Not Going Nuclear
  In the midst of deteriorating security relations between Seoul and Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe recently announced Japan was terminating its joint deployment of a land-based U.S. missile defense system, AEGIS Ashore. Meanwhile, Washington continues to lean on Japan and South Korea to pay billions more for the continued basing of American military forces in each country. It’s unclear how this story will end. One ending has Japan and Tokyo going nuclear and relying less on the U.S.. This option privately has backers in Washington, Tokyo, and Seoul. As the attached NPEC-commissioned study by Eric Heginbotham and Richard J. Samuels of MIT make clear, however, it’s less than a bad option; it’s dead wrong. As they note: Neither new allies [e.g., Australia, India, and South Korea] nor nuclear weapons would empower these states to balance Chinese power more broadly. Indeed, they might instead be accompanied by greater accommodation. This, in turn, would only increase the risk of Tokyo and Seoul parting ways with Washington or, worse, catalyzing East Asian tensions and war. Heginbotham and Samuels want none of this. Their study makes for useful reading as do their recommendations to adjust how our military works with Japan and South Korea on nuclear and other deterrence matters.
Working Papers & Monographs
Jul 16, 2020 How Much Nuclear Weapons Material Might China Make?
  As U.S. nuclear arms negotiators continue to call on Beijing to join control talks with Russia, one topic that has so far escaped most experts’ attention is just how much nuclear weapons material China might be able to make and stockpile. Since it has generally taken a decade to negotiate nuclear control agreements, NPEC asked the leading expert of China’s nuclear activities, Hui Zhang of Harvard, to project what the numbers might be for the next two decades.     Attached is his detailed analysis. The high numbers for separated plutonium and highly enriched uranium stocks and production capacity are sobering:  By 2030, China could have thousands of additional bombs’ worth of these materials on hand. How is this possible?  China has an extensive “peaceful” program to enrich uranium. It also is building a large domestic reprocessing plant, has a pilot plant it currently operates, and is still planning on importing a massive reprocessing plant from France. These plants can extract nuclear weapons explosive plutonium from China’s fleet of heavy and light water reactors and, soon, from the fast reactor now under construction.     China claims all of these fissile production activities are peaceful. Yet, Beijing has protested Japan’s plans to bring its own large reprocessing plant at Rokkasho on line in the fall of 2021. Chinese officials say this plant’s operation would be destabilizing as it is designed to make 1,600 bombs’ worth of plutonium a year.     Japanese and Chinese nuclear enthusiasts refuse to concede that producing and using plutonium-based fuels in power reactors is uneconomic compared to using low-enriched uranium in conventional reactors. The negativity of plutonium economics, however, is a lasting feature and, in fact, is only getting worse.   What does this suggest? Dr. Zhang recommends that, at a minimum, China make both its uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing and reactor programs and plans more transparent. Beyond this, he recommends that Beijing slow down on the commercial plutonium front.  “China,” he notes, “has no convincing rationale for rushing to build commercial-scale reprocessing facilities or plutonium breeder reactors. China should postpone the large reprocessing-plant project, and take an interim-storage approach.”   I and others have argued that in addition, the United States should open talks with Beijing and Japan on these programs and join in announcing a joint moratorium on commercial reprocessing and on the further expansion of uranium enrichment capacity until economic demand clearly requires it. Perhaps this is a topic that China would feel comfortable discussing even if, for the moment, it chooses to sit out three-way strategic arms control talks.    
Working Papers & Monographs
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The Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC), is a 501 (c)3 nonpartisan, nonprofit, educational organization
founded in 1994 to promote a better understanding of strategic weapons proliferation issues. NPEC educates policymakers, journalists,
and university professors about proliferation threats and possible new policies and measures to meet them.
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