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Op-Eds & Blogs
Dec 14, 2019 America Must Dissuade China's Interest In Nuclear Arms
In all competitions there are winners and losers but in some competitions who benefits most and least can get hazy as the risks that the competition forces on both parties rise. A case in point is the slow nuclear race that China has begun to run against the United States and our closest Asian allies. Right now, Beijing has only several hundred nuclear warheads. But, the US Defense Intelligence Agency projects this arsenal will double by 2030. This is worrisome. In the attached The National Interest piece “America Must Dissuade China's Interest In Nuclear Arms,” Michael Mazza of The American Enterprise Institute and Henry Sokolski spell out what risks China's nuclear rise will run and how best to avoid them. As China’s nuclear weapons proficiency increases its arsenal will become more similar to our own. This, in turn, could encourage Beijing to toy with more aggressive nuclear use doctrines. Japan and South Korea are sure to be rattled. In the worst case, they could feel compelled to acquire nuclear weapons of their own. This would create dangerous uncertainties for both us and China. What should we do? Mike and I suggest three things. Piling up unnecessary nuclear kindling — uneconomical plutonium stockpiles and production plants as well enrichment capacity in excess of civilian demand — makes no sense. It should stop in China and Japan and not begin in South Korea or the United States. Meanwhile, the United States should focus its military modernization efforts on systems that would diminish the value of nuclear arms. These would include advanced space systems, long-rang precision strike weaponry, and submersible technologies. Developing these systems would encourage China to invest in nonnuclear naval and air defensive systems— weaponry incapable of doing direct harm to the US or our Asian allies.  
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.  
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." 
Oct 12, 2019 Should Dominance Be Our Immediate Space Security Priority?
In this Space News op-ed, Brian Chow and I ask should dominance be America's immediate space security priority. Our short answer is no. Instead, the United States should tackle the weightier task of preventing Russia and China from disabling our key satellites. As we explain, Moscow and China are testing spacecraft that can damage or push our key satellites out of position. The United States, though, has not prioritized dealing with this threat, which may be realized in a few short years. The Pentagon is paying far more attention to how best to organize and equip ourselves to achieve space dominance. Brian and I argue that the United States should instead prioritize working with our closest space allies to creat what the French describe as "space exclusion zones" around our most critical satellites. The French as planning to enforce these zones by using space situational awareness assets and non-space debris producing bodyguard satellites. Brian and I are that the United States should too.
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.
Sep 09, 2019 The United States Should Follow France's Lead in Space
Last week, President Trump authorized the re-creation of the Air Force Space Command. Its aim is to make America great in space. In pursuit of putting America first though, it would be useful to pay attention to a smaller space faring nation -- France, which just announced its new space strategy. In the attached Space News op-ed, "The United States should follow France's lead in space," Brian Chow and I argure that the French plan is worth emulating. The French space policy calls for the development of bodyguard spacecraft.  These spacecraft would protect key satellites from possibly being attacked by robotic rendezvous spacecraft. The French also want to create space exclusion zones. Brian and I recommend that the U.S. join forces with the French. In specific, the U.S. should work with the French at the next NATO Summit this December to convince NATO to expand France's bodyguard program and to create appropriate self-defense zones around the most vulnerable, critical allied satellites. This piece, "The U.S. Should  Follow France's Lead in Space," by NPEC Executive Director, Henry Sokolski and Brian Chow, an independent policy analyst, was published in Space News.
Aug 25, 2019 What Enforcement of the NPT Now Requires
Earlier this month, it was reported that the White House wants a new deal with Iran that would eliminate uranium enrichment and the reprocessing of spent reactor fuel. Whatever Iran's answer to such a request might be, this principle needs near universal application if nuclear power is to remain compatible with international security. The reason why is simple: When it comes to enrichment and reprocessing, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) cannot reliably confirm military diversions in a timely fashion. If we are serious about enforcement -- the touchstone for any effective nuclear agreement -- we have to start saying "no" to civilian nuclear cooperation with non-weapon states that are unwilling to forswear enrichment and reprocessing. This piece, "Nuclear Power Must Not Lead to Nuclear Bombs," by NPEC Executive Director, Henry Sokolski, and NPEC's Program Advisor, Victor Gilinsky was published in The National Interest.
Jul 24, 2019 Before Saving the Planet, Could We Please Get the Bill?
Although it wasn't much noticed, last week Secretary of Energy Rick Perry played both sides of the national energy-environmental debate. America, he insisted, is driving down emissions globally by exporting natural gas and developing nuclear and renewables. What he failed to explain, however, is which of these energy options is subsidized, by how much, and who is picking up the tab. Unfortunately, our government does not keep score. As David Montgomery and I explain in our piece (below), "Before Saving the Planet, Could We Please Get the Bill?" in RealClearEnergy, we've fallen into the habit of taking an "all-of-the-above" approach. This strategy ends up pushing subsidies for virtually every energy option including some of the most uneconomical ones. In the case of nuclear energy, if frequently results in subsidies for exports of reactors -- machines that can serve as bomb starter kits. However much political sense an "all-of-the-above" strategy might make, it's rotten economics, encourages bad environmental policies, and can lead to risky nuclear exports. What we need to do instead is compare costs and choose the least expensive, most profitable ways to reduce emissions first. Towards this end, David and I make a number of recommendations. The first is to hold off on any new energy commercialization subsidies, bailouts or mandates and back away from any "national security" imperatives that cannot be quantified. It would also be helpful to have The McKinsel Company and its competitors release their latest environmental economic ranking models to help clarify what steps might reduce undesirable emissions quickest and most cheaply.
Jun 23, 2019 Only Congress Stands Between Saudi Arabia and Nuclear Weapons
A piece by NPEC Executive Director, Henry Sokolski, and NPEC Advisor, Victor Gilinsky, on selling nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia in The National Interest called "Only Congress Stands Between Saudi Arabia and Nuclear Weapons."
Jun 04, 2019 Why Congress Should Say No to Yet Another Fast Reactor Dream
A piece by NPEC Executive Director, Henry Sokolski, and NPEC Program Advisor, Victor Gilinsky on fast reactors in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists called "Why Congress Should Say No to Yet Another Fast Reactor Dream."
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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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