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More of NPEC’s Work
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Greater Middle East & Africa
Jul 07, 2020 Conventional wisdom says Turkey won't go nuclear. That might be wrong.
Turkey's successful military intervention in Libya has raised eyebrows in the West. No other Middle Eastern state would dare deploy conventional forces hundreds of miles from its borders, with no international coalition backing it, to defeat the dominant Libyan force backed by nuclear powers Russia and France. If Ankara is as set on becoming a regional power player as their recent moves suggest, what else might they do?  Think nuclear. As NPEC's Wohlstetter Fellow John Spacapan argues in the attached piece for The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, "Conventional wisdom says Turkey won't go nuclear. That might be wrong," three signs point to Turkey pursuing the bomb. First Erdogan has made it clear at the UN General Assembly and at a Turkish political rally in Antalya, he wants the bomb. Second, Turkey is building nuclear power plants. They can provide bomb materials and a cover to acquire weapons-related technology. What they won't provide in Turkey, is cheap electricity. Third, Erdogan has bent over backward to form a military alliance with nuclear-armed Pakistan, a country that has previously shared nuclear weapons-related technology with Iran, Libya, and North Korea. All of this suggests the United States should act now to convince the Turks to change course.  
Op-Eds & Blogs
Apr 11, 2020 Iran Says It Does Not Want a Bomb: We Should Listen
While the world focuses its attention on battling the Coronavirus, Iran has made several provocative moves, including a threat to pull out of the NPT and build-up of low-enriched uranium. Many analysts have interpreted these actions as the opening moves in a sprint toward the bomb. Others interpret Iran as a state desperate for sanctions relief.  Which view is correct? This desperate. As John Spacapan argues in the attached The National Interest piece, "Why America Should Believe Iran When It Says It Doesn't Want Nuclear Weapons", Iran learned a lesson from the Arab Spring, and particularly the case of Libya, that contradicts the conventional wisdom on why enemies of the United States pursue, or don't pursue nuclear arms proliferation. In particular, the last decade has taught Tehran that dictators in the Middle East are far more likely to be killed or overthrown by their own people than by the United States. This suggests that when Iranian officials say they do not want to get a bomb, maybe we should listen. 
Op-Eds & Blogs
Mar 16, 2020 Missile Wars: What's Coming
On March 16, 2020, NPEC's Executive Director, Henry Sokolski gave the following lecture at University of California: San Diego. Missile Wars: What's Coming Since the 1970s, military theorists have predicted wars would be waged with super precise missiles that would penetrate most defenses. Recent successful missile attacks against oil facilities at Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, and Ain Assad Airbase in Iraq suggest that their predictions have come true. How real is this revolution? What new civilian and military targets might now be vulnerable that previously were not? In the case of civilian targets, such as nuclear power plants and cities, what are the moral and military considerations? This presentation will answer these questions.
Presentations; Audio & Video
Jan 23, 2020 Dealing Preventively with NPT Withdrawal
  Last week, Pierre Goldschmidt, former Deputy Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency for Safeguards, spoke on theHill and visited senior officials in the executive branch. The NPEC-commissioned paper he presented (see below) focused on what’sneeded to deter additional withdrawals from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). His suggestions could not be more timely. In January, Iran’s foreign minister threatened to leave the NPT. His threat came only months after Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, complained at the United Nations General Assembly that the world’s recognized nuclear armed states should give up their nuclear weapons or allow all other nations to get them. Erdoğan’s complaint followed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman’s public announcement that Riyadh would leave the NPT if Iran was found developing nuclear weapons. The last time a country withdrew from the NPT was North Korea in January of 2003. At the time, Pyongyang was able to withdraw, expelled all resident IAEA nuclear inspectors, and was not even sanctioned. Only after North Korea exploded a nuclear device did the United Nations impose economic sanctions. This is not a model to follow. Instead, as Mr. Goldschmidt recommends, the United States should work with like-minded states to promote country-neutral rules before the next state gets its first bomb. The United States should also take up Mr. Goldschmidt’s recommendations with the Russians and Chinese.  
Articles
Jan 17, 2020 The Little-Known Loophole in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty
Iran threatened to pull out of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) if Germany, France, and the UK refer Tehran to the United Nations (UN) Security Council for violating the Iran nuclear deal.  This announcement came on the heels of Turkish President Recep Erdogan's complaint September 24th to the UN General Assembly that the NPT's recognition of five nuclear weapons states was illegitimate. There should be no nucelar armed states, he argues, or all states, including Turkey, should be free to acquire them. Meanwhile, Mohammed Bin Salman has promised to get nuclear weapons if Iran did. All of this spells trouble.  As Victor Gilinsky and Henry Sokolski explain in The National Interest, several days before Iran's foreign minister made his latest Iranian threat, the NPT allows states to withdraw from the treaty all to easily. Certainly, NPT member states did little or nothing when North Korea withdrew from the treaty in 2003. Only three years later, after Pyongyang exploded a nuclear weapon did the UN impose serious sanctions. This is a worry. Will the NPT, which turns 50 this year, suffer another withdrawal? If so, will it make it to 60? Late in 2018, Christopher Ford, Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation, said more needed to be done to deter further NPT withdrawals. We agreed and argue that this should be priority number one in the upcoming April five-year review of the NPT. 
Op-Eds & Blogs
Nov 14, 2019 Taking Erdogan's critique of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty seriously
One topic President Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not discuss in November but should have was the future of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). As Victor Gilinsky and Henry Sokolski write in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientist piece, “Taking Erdogan’s critique of the Non-Proliferation Treaty seriously,” (see below) Erdogan objected to the NPT regime at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, September 24th. Referencing the treaties recognition of only five nuclear weapon states, Erdogan stretched out to the fingers of his right hand, and to wide applause, “the world is bigger than five.” Earlier in September, Erdogan complained, "Some countries have missiles with nuclear warheads… this, I cannot accept.” His UN pronouncement makes clear that his objection to the NPT, however, is much broader than any restriction it might place just on Turkey. What Erdogan wants is a world either with no nuclear arms state or no restrictions on nuclear weapons whatsoever. Erdogan’s challenge is brassy but he has a point: either the NPT gets stronger or it goes away. Victor and Henry make the case for strengthening the NPT and suggest, at a minimum, what it might require. The alternative is to let the treaty continue to decline as leaders like Erdogan and Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman publicly threaten to withdraw.  
Op-Eds & Blogs
Oct 22, 2019 The Ultimate Middle East Missile Target: Nuclear Reactors
Four weeks ago, a fleet of highly precise, low-flying missiles struck Saudi Arabian oil facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais, taking out five percent of the world's oil supply. What was most significant about the attack, however, wasn't the damage it did, but the damage it presaged.  As Mark Dubowitz and I explain in "The Ultimate Middle East Missile Target: Nulear Reactors" in The Washington Examiner, missile attacks in the future could include large, nuclear reactors that once hit could produce Chernobyl-scale disasters. If Iran, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, and Egypt stick to their plans to build nuclear power plants, there will be plenty of targets to choose from.  Also, given the pinpoint accuracy of the radar-evading drones and missiles now available (think of precision measured in meters, not kilometers), these plants will be radioactive sitting ducks. The missiles need not penetrate the thick containment structure protecting the reactor's core to do real harm. Instead, they would be aimed at the reactor's control room, diesel generating building, spent reactor fuel pond, or the incoming grid electrical wires. Hit two or more of these aim points and you dramatically increase the risks of a reactor meltdown or radiological release that would force an evacuation of massive proportions.  What's the bottom line? As Mark and I write, "The lesson should be clear: Don't build more large reactors in the region. They're radioactive sitting ducks." 
Op-Eds & Blogs
Oct 04, 2019 The Nonproliferation Gold Standard: The New Normal?
Two years ago, the possibility of a U.S.-Saudi nuclear cooperative agreement that would allow Riyadh to enrich uranium or reprocessing spent fuel now seemed a sure cert. Today, at best, it seems a distant possibility. As Victor Gilinsky and Henry Sokolski write in the piece, "The Nonproliferation Gold Standard: The New Normal?" in Arms Control Today, the gold standard is no longer viewed as extreme, inpractical, or unnecessary. Just the opposite. Not only has Secretary of State Pompeo publicly stated that America wants both Riyad and Tehran to forswear enriching uranium and reprocessing spent fuel, but even the best known boosters of selling Saudi Arabia-U.S. reactors (IP3), now think acceptance of the gold standard is essential. This does not mean that the White House won't seal a deal with Riyad or that Congress will have the strength or will to demand the gold standard, but now opponents of the standard have some explaining to do.  At a minimum, three problems demand attention. First, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman announced on 60 minutes that he would be willing to violate the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty if he thought Iran had acquired a bomb. Second, the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the Saudi government's attempted cover up raises first order questions about how trustworthy any Saudi nuclear promises might be. Finally, the Kingdom's indiscriminate bombing of Yemen has undermined congressional faith in the Crown Prince's judgement. All of these points have strengthened demands that Riyad adhere to the gold standard. There are other reasons besides, including Israel's opposition to any deal that would allow Riyad to enrich or reprocess.  Of course one can question if it makes sense for any nation in the Middle East to be building large reactors. More recently, the drone attacks against Saudi oil refining plants reinforced already strong apprehensions Middle East nations have about the military vulnerability of nuclear facilities in the region.  At the very least, if there is to be nuclear exports to the Middle East, or to any other state that lacks nuclear weapons, the gold standard provides "welcome protection" and ought to be the new normal. 
Articles
Sep 23, 2019 Victor Gilinsky at UC San Diego: "1979 Israel Nuclear Test?"
On September 23, 2019, NPEC sent Program Advisor, Victor Gilinsky to give a public lecture at UC San Diego, "1979 Israel Nuclear Test?"
Presentations; Audio & Video
Sep 22, 2019 How the 1979 Nuclear Flash Might Test Us Yet
September 22nd marked the 40th anniversary of a series of nuclear tests conducted off the coast of South Africa. Israel has long been suspected of being responsible for these tests. When these tests occured, the Carter administration was eager to deflect intelligence that confirmed they were nuclear and that suggested Israel was behind them. Since then, more information has been released making it all but impossible to deny Israel's culpability. Foreign Policy has published six pieces laying out the latest evidence. Included in those six is my own essay, "How the 1979 Flash Might Test Us Yet". In it, I explain the legal, nuclear proliferation, and diplomatic implications of the United State's unwillingness to confirm Israel's violation of the Limited Test Ban Treaty, which Israel signed and ratified. In fact, it is now illegal for U.S. officials to discuss this matter: They are all subject to a federal gag order. For a variety of reasons that I lay out in my piece, it's in everyone's interest that this order be rescinded.
Op-Eds & Blogs
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