Saturday, October 30, 2004

America's Relations with Pakistan Deteriorating

Pakistan is an important country to the US because it is an important ally in fighting terrorists in Afghanistan (who may live part-time in Pakistan), and it has nuclear weapons, the technology for which it has been willing in the past to sell to the highest bidder.

Despite the Bush administration's efforts to build lines of communication and friendship with Pakistan, the Los Angeles Times reports as a headline that "In Pakistan, U.S. Policies Foster Suspicion and Hatred." The article quotes several Pakistanis who used to be favorable to the US. About one, who enjoyed living in New York, the article says that now, "...With each passing day, Hamid's empathy is eroding. He believes that the Bush administration, by pursuing a foreign policy fixated on security, is turning a legitimate battle against terrorism into a campaign of hatred against Muslims.... Hamid said that in a country squeezed between Musharraf, a general who seized power in 1999, and Islamic extremists, there is little room for Western-educated moderates."

According to another source, "'I personally feel Americans are losing friends in Pakistan very, very rapidly,' said Shah Mahmood Qureshi, deputy parliamentary leader of the Pakistan People's Party, whose exiled leader, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, was a close U.S. ally. 'When the realization finally comes, it'll be too late.'"

New Marine Offensive in Falluja

All the main news outlets are predicting a new Marine offensive in Falluja soon. This goes back to my earlier posting on September 13, about orders that came from Washington telling the Marines to back off during their first offensive, making them look cowardly. The first offensive started after American security contractors were killed in Falluja and strung up for all to see.

The new offensive seems as politically controlled as the first, which is tough for the Marines who have to carry it out. It seems pretty clear that it is being delayed until too late to influence the US election, or perhaps the threat of the offensive is being used to win the votes of hawks who were disappointed with the failure of the first offensive. If that's the case, the second offensive may be more bark than bite. A New York Times article warns that the situation in Ramadi, near Falluja, is rapidly deteriorating and that guerrillas who are run out of Falluja (population 300,000) might simply move to Ramadi (population 400,000).

The problem whether there is an offensive or not, is the January elections. If there is no offensive placing Falluja under US control, elections will be less meaningful in the Sunni triangle, and a significant Iraqi constituency will be under represented. If there is an offensive, it may turn the hearts and minds of the Sunni Iraqis against the US, again with unfavorable implications for the elections.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Indian Says Bush Was Soft on Non-Proliferation

An article on says that India should support President Bush's re-election because he has been so soft on India's nuclear program. While this attitude may have been good for US-Indian relations, which have needed improvement, it has not been good for the global non-proliferation regime. The problem is that if India proliferates and gets away with it, then every other country will think that it has a right to do so, including Iran and North Korea.

After criticizing Kerry for his strong non-proliferation stand, the article by Colonel Dr Anil A Athale (retd) says, "President Bush on the other hand has been responsible for stalling and virtually killing the CTBT and stressed that he is concerned about the spread of WMD (weapons of mass destruction) to 'terrorist' groups. Bush also stressed his resolve to build the anti-missile defence shield." In other words, Bush opposes some non-proliferation efforts (the CTBT, Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty), and has limited other non-proliferation efforts to terrorist groups only (not countries in general). Presumably, he thinks that the anti-missile shield means that the US can live with proliferation.

The writer says, "Thanks to President Bush's pragmatic approach, the issue of Indian nuclear weapons got pushed to the background over the last four years and Indo-US relations flourished."
Why Did the US Ignore the IAEA?

The debate between Bush and Kerry over the missing explosives in al-Qaqaa ignores an important issue: why did the administration ignore the IAEA's designation of these explosives as important to a nuclear weapons program? Bush has said that the main reason for the invasion of Iraq was because Saddam had or was about to get weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear. Remember the mushroom cloud smoking gun?

Under those circumstances, the administration should have requested a list of designated nuclear-related sites from the IAEA (the International Atomic Energy Agency) and then specifically assigned US troops to check on and secure those sites. The fact that the ABC News video shows US troops breaking an IAEA seal, having no idea what it was, indicates the poor training the troops got for their primary mission of protecting the US and the rest of the world from WMD.

The explosives were not WMD, but they are an important ingredient in making a nuclear weapon go bang, once you have the really important ingredient, fissile uranium or plutonium. Why weren't the troops briefed on this aspect of the invasion, and why was the IAEA's list of nuclear sites ignored? Partly because of the ill will between the Bush administration and the UN, and the UN's IAEA in particular. Bush singled out Hans Blix, who was heading up the UN's inspection effort, for particular personal insults, and apparently the US spied on Blix in the run up to the war. When you burn your bridges, as the US did before the war, you had better be right. It turns out that we were not right.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

American War Crimes

The Washington Post broke a story about the CIA's removal of prisoners from Iraq, although this appears to violate the Geneva Conventions. According to the Post, the Justice Department wrote a memo in defense of the practice. Although the memo was stamped "draft" and apparently never finalized, it was circulated to other agencies, and the CIA relied on it in undertaking the removals or "renditions."

On Sunday, the New York Times had a long article on the rewriting of military law after 9/11 to allow sending prisoners to Guantanamo, where the administration expected them to be beyond the reach of the US judicial system. The article says that the White House proponents of this system kept lawyers from other agencies -- including uniformed military lawyers and State Department lawyers -- out of the process because the White House considered them too soft.
Bush Failures on Non-Proliferation

The Washington Post has a major article on the failures of Bush's non-proliferation policy, involving most of the biggies, but with relatively little focus on Iraq. After all, it turned out that Iraq wasn't really a non-proliferation threat. It also doesn't mention India, since India is sort of doing its own thing, except that the unmentioned free pass for India complicates enforcing the entire non-proliferation regime, such as it is, against anyone.

The article, however, has in depth information on Pakistan (and the free pass given to A.Q. Khan), North Korea (and the absence of a policy -- "no carrot, no stick and no talk"), Iran (where the US turned down several opportunities to negotiate), Libya (about which the UK was much more concerned than the US), and finally Russia. According to the article, "'The big gorilla in the basement is the material from Russia and Pakistan,' said Robert L. Gallucci, dean of the Georgetown School of Foreign Service and a classified consultant to the CIA and Energy Department laboratories. 'This is the principal, major national security threat to the United States in the next decade or more. I don't know what's in second place.'" Regarding Nunn-Lugar, the article continues, "Securing the [Russian nuclear] materials is laborious, expensive and dangerous work. Bush decided to let two of the major programs lapse because Russia declined to accept a change in the agreement that would shield U.S. firms from liability for worker safety."

The other disturbing fact was that intelligence types are almost certain that A.Q. Khan was doing nuclear business with another country, but nobody knows which one, and Khan is not talking. Bush continues to coddle Khan and Pakistan because we need their help in the war on conventional terror. Apparently nuclear terror is not so important.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

What Happens to Saddam?

The New York Times reported Friday that a weeklong training session for Iraqi judges and prosecutors who are supposed to try Saddam Hussein did not go well. Western experts said the Iraqis were not acquainted with the complexities of international law used to deal with mass killing and genocide.

On the other hand, the UN said that Secretary General Kofi Annan had expressed "serious doubts" that the Iraqi court could meet "relevant international standards," worried that its ability to apply the death penalty went against UN policies, and therefore Annan had concluded that UN legal experts should not assist the Iraqis. According to the article, an Iraqi said he would welcome UN participation because, "It would stop the impression that the whole thing is run by Americans."

The Washington Post described the UN decision as "a blow to the United States and Iraq's interim government." The Post added, "A senior U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing diplomacy, said the Iraqi tribunals would proceed without U.N. support, with the first trials against Hussein's associates starting in the new year."

The articles do not mention the role of Ahmad Chalabi's cousin, Salem Chalabi. Salem was initially named to head the war crimes tribunal, but has recently been removed from that position because of accusations of his involvement in criminal activity, according to CNN.
Are We at War with Terrorism?

An article in today's Washington Post questioning whether there will be a terrorist attack to disrupt US elections raises the question of whether we are really in a war against terrorism comparable to the war in Iraq, or whether the real war on terrorism is more akin to the war on organized crime or drugs. The first question is what we mean by war. In America, the word war has been applied to wars on poverty, wars against crime, other types of "war" which are not one nation fighting another. Therein lies the problem, the war on terror is not a war against another nation, or an alliance of nations, but against people from many nations who share certain beliefs and hatreds. The nations don't share these dangerous values -- a relatively small percentage of the their populations do.

It's very possible that the 9/11 attacks were a fluke. If airport security had just been a little tighter, they never would have happened. If the FBI and CIA had just worked a little harder, they never would have happened. We were fighting 20-30 people who were intent on destroying thousands of Americans, but nevertheless, wars usually involve tens or hundreds of thousands of people fighting as many on the other side, perhaps millions. That's certainly not the case here, and Bush has never defined how his war on terrorism will be fought, unlike the conventional war on Iraq, which was fought in a relatively conventional way.

Can Bush really defend America if he is fighting the wrong war? I think there is a good chance that Bush is fighting the wrong war and that what he is doing is decreasing, not increasing, America's security.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Background on Unrest in Pakistan

The August 28 Economist article on whether Musharraf will retire from the military for the remainder of his rule as President, had some interesting comments on continuing instability in Pakistan. The article said, "Despite ... protestations of friendship to Harmid Karzai, Afghanistan's president, who was visiting Islamabad this week, there are still suspicions that Pakistan is less than zealous in pursuing remnants of the Taliban on its Afghan borders. Curbing Al-Qaeda-linked terror at home, however, is a matter, quite literally, of life and death for Pakistan's leaders. General Musharraf has narrowly escaped two assassination attempts. And nine people died in an attack last month on Mr Aziz," the new prime minister.

Given that Pakistan seems to be our most important ally against terrorism in the region, and that it possesses nuclear weapons, its commitment to anti-terrorism and its allegiance to the West, particularly the US, is crucial to our continuing our current policies in the region.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

US Acceptance of Israeli Abuses

Two recent articles highlight US acceptance of Israeli abuses of Palestinians, most recently in Gaza. The Washington Post reported today on the Human Rights Watch's criticism of Israel's demolishing houses in Gaza. "The pattern of destruction strongly suggests that Israeli forces demolished homes wholesale, regardless of whether they posed a specific threat, in violation of international law," Human Rights Watch said in its 133-page report, adding that in most of the cases "the destruction was carried out in the absence of military necessity."

On October 16, the Post reported that in an interview with the Financial Times, Brent Scowcroft said that President Bush is "mesmerized" by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The Post said that Scowcroft further told the Financial Times, "Sharon just has him [Bush] wrapped around his little finger." Broadening his view, Scowcroft said that relations with Europe are "in general bad."

President Bush must be unhappy when his Daddy's old associates pull out the long knives. More and more, however, it is looking like Daddy was right not to march to Baghdad following his victory in the 1991 Iraq war.
Brazil and Russia to Cooperate on Space Launch Vehicles

Brazil and Russia will sign a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on space launch matters when Putin visits Brazil in November, according to Space Daily. According to the article, the MOU calls for the joint development and production of launch vehicles, the launch of geostationary satellites and the joint development and utilization of Brazil's Alcantara Launch Center.

According to the article, "Russia's direct involvement in Brazil's space program accelerated following the explosion of Brazil's VLS rocket at Alcantara in August 2003. At that time, Russian space officials were invited to participate in the investigation to determine the cause of the explosion, which killed 21." Last September, Brazil awarded a contract to a Russian firm for technical assistance in rebuilding the launch tower destroyed in the VLS explosion, according the Brazilian newspaper, Gazeta Mercantil. The newspaper reported the new VLS launch tower is being built for to include the use of liquid-fuel rocket propellants, a technology, which Brazil does not yet possess, but which is being studied with the Russians to be incorporated into one of the future versions of the Brazilian VLS rocket.

Brazil's determination to proceed with its indigenous space launch vehicle is another example of its desire to be a first-rate world power, along with the US, India, China, Russia, etc. If space and nuclear technology are considered indicators of such first-rate power, then Brazil wants it regardless of the implications for the NPT and the MTCR. That does not necessarily mean that Brazil wants ICBMs with nuclear warheads; Brazil is a peaceful country. To the extent that the US uses its nuclear ICBMs to intimidate other countries around the world, however, Brazil could at some point follow in its footsteps by developing them. If the US turns its back on disarmament, then it may at some time have to invade Brazil, as it did Iraq, to eliminate the space and nuclear programs by force, if it is unwilling to accept them, as it has accepted them in India.
Nader the Spoiler

On Friday the New York Times print edition for Colorado had a front page article on the possibility that Ralph Nader's campaign may constitute a threat to John Kerry and the Democrats. (I can't find it in the Times' on-line edition.) It says that Nader could influence the electoral outcome in nine states, including Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Wisconsin.

I suppose the Democrats say this is a reason not to vote for Nader. I say that if the Democrats wanted me not to vote for Nader, they should have nominated Dean. Presumably the Democrats will win Iowa and New Hampshire, since these were the primaries that gave Kerry the nomination. I suppose also that the Democrats wanted a typical colorless politician who tries to be all things to all people, and that's why they wanted Kerry. So, they got him and they have a chance to win the election, but not with my help.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Good Article on Israeli Influence on US Foreign Policy

In an earlier post, I said that one reason I support Ralph Nader is because John Kerry's position on Israel is almost indistinguishable from George Bush's. This article in the St. Petersburg Times (of Florida) describes the situation well. The article quotes Duncan Clarke, professor of international relations at American University as saying, "Both of them [Kerry and Bush] have repeatedly stated their undying commitment to Israel and Israel's interests...."This is an area where both candidates, at least in their declared policies, agree solidly.... Both of them have repeatedly stated their undying commitment to Israel and Israel's interests." Later the article says, "Publicly, there is little daylight between the candidates. Both support a Palestinian state but call Arafat a 'failed leader.' Both support Sharon's plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip. Both appeared at AIPAC's annual conference."

The article goes on to say, "'President Bush adopted the Arab position of a Palestinian state despite the sustained and murderous execution of terrorism by the Palestinian Authority,' says Ariel Cohen, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation. 'Having said that, George W. Bush does have the reputation of being the most pro-Israel president" in two decades.' The administration's ardent support is widely presumed to be rooted in the influence of the 'neocons' or neoconservatives - a group of top officials and advisers with longtime ties to the Jewish state. Among them are Paul Wolfowitz, deputy defense secretary, and Richard Perle, former chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board."

It adds, "Even before the neocons became a factor in U.S. foreign policy, Israel enjoyed almost unqualified support in Congress. One big reason is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC].... Those familiar with AIPAC say it enhances its aura of power by picking battles it knows it can win. It was credited with - or blamed for - the 2002 defeat of incumbents Cynthia McKinney of Georgia and Earl Hilliard of Alabama, both seen as hostile to Israel."

I would add, many years ago it defeated Sen. Charles Percy of Illinois, when he was seen as a Chairman of Foreign Relations Committee who was not pro-Israel enough. The article goes on to point out that AIPAC has recently been accused of acting on behalf of Israeli intelligence and may have "crossed the line between lobbying and acting as an agent for a foreign government."

Finally, the article points out the role of evangelical Christians in molding the Bush administration's Israel policy: "The Bush administration's failure to push its 'road map for peace' stems in part from fear of alienating Jewish voters in an election year. But some experts say it is also because Bush doesn't want to anger a key Republican constituency: evangelical Christians.
Among them are the millennialists, who prophesy Israel's occupation of all of its 'biblical lands' and other scenarios that could lead to holy war with Islam. The Christian right 'has a very clear idea what it would like to see happen in the Mideast, and that's not based on Israel's pragmatic security but on theology - what could be called an apocalyptic foreign policy,' says Gorenberg of the Jerusalem Report.
Eight Candidates for Congress in Colorado Faced Draft. Only One Served.

Of the eight candidates for Congress in Colorado who faced the draft in the Vietnam era, only one served, John Salazar, according to the Denver Post. The most questionable escapes were by Pete Coors and Bob Beauprez, who got medical deferments for minor medical problems. The elite in this country do not fight for it, but they sing loudly the praises of defending and promoting democracy in war.
New York Times Endorses Kerry, Points Out Bush Non-Proliferation Failure

In its editorial on Sunday endorsing John Kerry for president, the New York Times said, "Heads of rogue states, including Iran and North Korea, have been taught decisively that the best protection against a pre-emptive American strike is to acquire nuclear weapons themselves." This is in addition to the lesson for non-rogue, large states -- like Brazil and India -- that the way to great power status is to acquire nuclear weapons.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

MTCR Criticizes Missile Proliferators

At the conclusion of its meeting in Seoul, the Missile Technology Control Regime issued a statement critical of countries suspected of developing nuclear capable missiles, according to Space Daily. The MTCR said:

"Partners expressed their serious concerns over missile proliferation in Northeast Asia, the Middle East and South Asia, and reaffirmed their determination to continue discouraging missile programs and activities of proliferation concern."

Reportedly the meeting especially focused on missile proliferation by Iran, Syria, India and North Korea. I think they also should have focused on Pakistan; it would be interesting to know if the US blocked that because of its need for Pakistani cooperation in the war on terrorism. The conference came amid growing concerns about North Korea's missile development. Pyongyang stunned the world in August 1998 by test-launching over Japan a Taepodong-1 missile with a range of up to 2,000 kilometers. Of course, Pakistan tested its Hatf-V missile with a range of about 1,500 kilometers during the meeting.

"Since the 1998 launch, there has been no information on North Korea's new missile development but it is always possible because North Korea could develop new missiles without [test firing]," said the meeting chairman Oh Joon, a director general of South Korea's foreign ministry. North Korea declared a moratorium on missile tests in September 1999 and in May 2001 extended the decision until 2003 and beyond. But the cash-strapped country has refused to stop missile exports, a major source of hard currency earnings.

The MTCR was established in 1987 to control exports of missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction.
IAEA Says Nuclear-Related Items Missing In Iraq

In a letter to the UN Security Council, IAEA Chief ElBaradei reported:

"As a result of its ongoing review of satellite imagery acquired on a regular basis, and follow up investigations, the IAEA continues to be concerned about the widespread and apparently systematic dismantlement that has taken place at sites previously relevant to Iraq's nuclear programme and sites previously subject to ongoing monitoring and verification by the IAEA. The imagery shows in many instances the dismantlement of entire buildings that housed high precision equipment (such as flow forming, milling and turning machines; electron beam welders; coordinate measurement machines) formerly monitored and tagged with IAEA seals, as well as the removal of equipment and materials (such as high strength aluminium) from open storage areas.

"As indicated previously to the Council, the IAEA, through visits to other countries, has been able to identify quantities of industrial items, some radioactively contaminated, that had been transferred out of Iraq from sites monitored by the IAEA. However, none of the high quality dual use equipment or materials referred to above has been found. As the disappearance of such equipment and materials may be of proliferation significance, any State that has information about the location of such items should provide the IAEA with that information."

This missing equipment is of relatively low-level significance; however, it is remarkable that after citing nuclear proliferation as the initial main reason for its invasion of Iraq, the US has been so cavalier about protecting nuclear-related materials and equipment. It's ironic that after some much excitement in about Iraq's purchase of aluminum tubes, one of the items missing is high strength aluminum. It's certainly possible that part of the reason for this report is the UN's pique at being diss'ed by the US. But the US should recognize that if you spit in someone's face, they might be critical of you later. The IAEA could have told us this privately, instead of making it public; perhaps they did. The US should take care of its business in Iraq, and apparently it has not been doing so.
Pakistan Tests Nuclear-Capable Missile

According to Reuters, Pakistan test-fired an intermediate-range, nuclear-capable ballistic missile on Tuesday as part of efforts to boost its defenses, but the test was not a show of strength for rival India, the military said. The test came at the start of two days of talks between Pakistani and Indian border officials in the Indian city of Chandigarh, their second meeting this year since regular contacts were revived to discuss frontier issues.

The missile was a Hatf V, a type of Ghauri missile with a range of 940 miles -- capable of hitting most Indian cities and which can carry a payload of 1,985 lb.

Reuters added that Pakistan tested its first nuclear bomb in May 1998 and says its weapons program is a response to that of India. In March, Pakistan test-fired the Shaheen II ballistic missile with a range of 1,250 miles and capable of carrying nuclear warheads to every corner of India. The Pakistani Hatf series of missiles, named after an ancient Islamic weapon, includes the Shaheen and Ghauri missiles.

Reuters further reported that the Ghauri was formally inducted into the military in January 2003. It was developed by Khan Research Laboratories, Pakistan's main uranium-enrichment facility, which was named after Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of the country's atomic bomb. Khan was sacked this year from his job as a special government adviser after he admitted to exporting nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea. According to Reuters, some experts say the Ghauri missile was developed with North Korean help in return for nuclear know-how (probably related to Pakistan's expertise in uranium enrichment), but Pakistan denies the link and says it is indigenously produced.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Brazil Vows to Continue Space and Nuclear Programs

Space Daily reported that Brazil does not want the world to misunderstand its space or nuclear programs, because both have only peaceful and civilian objectives in mind, according to Eduardo Campos, Brazil's Minister of Science and Technology. Since our space program was born during the years of military rule, we have to make sure that we make the transition to a fully civil program, with a focus on showing our society that it is just as important to predict the weather as it is to build a road, Campos told United Press International.


Campos also indicated that Brazil is determined to pursue development of its VLS national rocket program, despite previous failures and U.S. concerns about ballistic-missile, dual-use technology [i.e., under the MTCR]. The president has made a commitment to launch the VLS by 2006, Campos said, and it is an important program to our nation.

The United States shouldn't have any worries about the development of the VLS. He called the United States a great partner in the development of our intellectual capital in this regard, and added that the U.S. government has technical cooperation with us in all the areas that you can imagine. They also know that Brazil has the conditions to have a program such as the VLS.

Campos said Brazilian officials currently are in discussions with the United States about a new Technology Safeguards Agreement, which would permit U.S. rockets or payloads with U.S. components - such as satellites - to be launched from Alcantara, the country's space facility. Brazil previously had signed a TSA with the United States, but the agreement was not ratified by the Brazilian Congress when objections were raised - both in the legislature and the media - that certain restrictions included in the agreement infringed upon the country's sovereignty. (When Brazil talks about its sovereignty, it is serious, but it also means, "We're not going to agree to anything less than other countries are allowed to do, including the United States, China and India.")


Campos went out of his way to emphasize that the United States and the world should also not be concerned about Brazil's nuclear program, despite a recent dispute concerning U.N. inspections of one of the country's uranium enrichment facilities.

Brazil's nuclear program began in the same environment as the space program, Campos said, but later the Brazilian constitutional revision of 1989 established that it was to be a program with peaceful purposes. Brazil is one of the few nations in the world that has all of its installations - civil and military - licensed by all the international agencies.

Campos said Brazil has adhered very strongly to international, nuclear non-proliferation agreements. Last week, Brazil reached an agreement with the United Nations to allow inspections of its uranium enrichment plant outside of Rio de Janeiro, although the limited inspections will not permit access to certain areas. The limitations are meant to protect the country's proprietary technology, according to the country's Ministry of Science and Technology.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Indian Prime Minister Rejects Joining NPT

The Hindu newspaper reported on Friday that, "The Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, said today that the circumstances were 'not ripe' for India to sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) 'right now'. Dr. Singh, however, said that India was voluntarily fulfilling the commitments that went along with being a responsible nuclear power acting with 'due restraint'". Answering a question at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Dr. Singh said, "We are a nuclear power.... We have a no-first use doctrine in place."

He continued, "Also, we have an impeccable record of export controls so that any unauthorised use of sensitive nuclear materials can be effectively prevented." As the Hindu said, India has consistently taken the position that the NPT is unequal and discriminatory and that it will not sign the treaty. The pressure on New Delhi to sign it mounted after the May 1998 nuclear tests, but there has been no change in India's position on the issue.

The Prime Minister made it clear that India was interested in working with like-minded countries in strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation system. Without referring to Pakistan or the A.Q. Khan network by name, he said that India had seen the clandestine export of nuclear materials in "our" region.

Friday, October 08, 2004

My Anti-Bush is Nader

The Democrats think their call for anybody but Bush means voting for Kerry. But for me it means voting for Nader. I don't like Bush, but I don't like Kerry either. Why I don't like Bush should be pretty clear from other postings on this blog.

There are two main reasons that I don't like Kerry. As a Vietnam veteran, I didn't like his accusations that all Vietnam vets are war criminals, although his campaign says that he didn't believe this, that he was just reporting what other people said at some Detroit anti-war conference. I don't buy it. He may not have believed it, but he was using those accusations, which were well received by the left in those days to advance his career. It obviously worked; he's the Democrats' candidate for President.

The second reason I don't like Kerry is his position on the Middle East. The main reason for the unrest in the Middle East is Israel, and America's unquestioning support for Ariel Sharon. George Bush's obsequious, puppy-like devotion to Sharon's every whim is embarrassing to the United States. The latest is Dov Weisglass' statement that Sharon's Gaza policy is intended to freeze the peace process, and Bush's cowardly acceptance of it. Unfortunately, Kerry's position on Israel, as on Iraq, is almost identical to Bush's. In Israel, it appears that there is some lively debate about Sharon's hard line policy. In America, the Jewish community is solidly behind Sharon, which apparently means that both major political parties, the Republicans and the Democrats, unquestioningly support his bloodly, oppressive policies. Senator Edward's answer to Gwin Ifill's question on Israel during the Vice Presidential debate showed how devoted they are to Israel regardless of Israel's persecution of the Palestinians.

So, Nader is my man.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, Me, and the Bomb

On October 5, Secretary of State Colin Powell met with Brazilian Minister Celso Amorim while Powell was visiting Brazil. When I was assigned to the US Embassy in Brasilia as science officer during the 1980s, Celso Amorim was serving as the Foreign Ministry representative in the Ministry of Science and Technology. According to his bio, he held this job from 1985-88.

The US wanted to have a big meeting in Brazil to discuss scientific and technological cooperation, with the US side led by President Bush I's science adviser, Allan Bromley of Yale. Celso Amorim was not a big fan of the US, was not enthusiastic about the meeting, and stonewalled for a long time. Eventually we held the meeting, but there was not much agreement on joint projects. There was a lot of hand waving and agreements to agree later on specific projects.

During Powell's visit, there was discussion of Brazil's cooperation with IAEA inspectors who are scheduled to come to Brazil. There has been a question whether they would be allowed to inspect Brazil's plant for making uranium fuel for its nuclear power reactors. Brazil bought a huge nuclear fuel cycle plant from Germany before I was there in the 1980s. Then there was concern that Brazil would use it to highly enrich uranium to a level useful for bombs. That uranium enrichment process was very inefficient and cumbersome. Recently there have been rumors that Brazil purchased a more efficient centrifuge enrichment system from A.Q. Khan and Pakistanis, and for that reason would restrict the IAEA inspection.

When asked about the nuclear issue, Powell said, "I don’t think Brazil could be talked about in the same vein or put in the same category as Iran or North Korea.... In the case of Iran, Iran has been not forthcoming with respect to what it has been doing and we have seen the IAEA prying information out of Iran and our judgment is that Iran’s program is not just for power, but is also designed to move in the direction of a nuclear weapon. In the case of Brazil, this is simply not the case."

Following Secretary Powell's remarks, Celso Amorim said, "I won't go into the technical details, because I have no expertise to do that. But, it’s a simple matter. Brazil has nothing to hide in terms of its uranium enrichment process except for the technology that Brazil has acquired, and which Brazil naturally wishes to protect. It's perfectly possible, and this has been discussed very productively in Vienna. I, myself, was on the telephone with the director of the Atomic Energy Agency, Mr. El Baradei, who was very pleased with the contacts that he had made with our technical people. And, therefore, I believe it is perfectly possible to conciliate the objectives of the Atomic Energy Agency, to give them the certainty that the entire enrichment process is only for peaceful purposes, that there is no deviation of uranium, while at the same time protecting the Brazilian technology.

"Specifically how that's to be done has to be discussed between the Agency's technical people and the Brazilian authorities in the sector, specifically at the Resende plant that will be visited. It is in our interest to solve this problem, because we want to put the Resende plant into operation, as we have economic needs. Brazil is such a huge country, we cannot do without any source of energy. Brazil has major uranium reserves, and it's only natural that we do not want to have to send our uranium abroad to be enriched, to then have to have to come back to Brazil. That just doesn't make sense....

"Now, in terms of the Additional Protocol, I'll repeat one thing that I've said many times: Brazil has never said that it would not sign, but there is a process of negotiation here I think that we will soon come to an agreement on the Resende plant. And that will help consolidate the subject for the future. But, I want to reiterate, as I said to Secretary Powell, that when Brazil adhered to the Nonproliferation Treaty we actually accepted the package deal. There are three basic elements there: nonproliferation, as such; the possibility of peaceful use of nuclear power with no restrictions, unless there is some specific suspicion on the country but now Secretary Powell has said that there is none; and, third, concrete steps towards disarmament. Within that spirit we will continue to work on these matters. And, I'm certain that as in all the other situations, Brazil has always shown its desire to cooperate with the global goals of nonproliferation and of disarmament, and will continue to work in that direction."

The Additional Protocol which Amorim mentioned gives the IAEA stronger authority for inspections than originally granted under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Brazil did not join the NPT for years because it said that the NPT was discriminatory, giving more rights to nuclear powers like the US than to non-nuclear countries. When it finally joined, it did not agree to the additional protocol, and now will probably argue that the international community is trying to change the terms of the agreement after it has been signed. This happened to Brazil when it bought its first nuclear power reactor from Westinghouse in the US in the 1970s. After the billion dollar deal was signed, Congress passed a law saying that the US could not supply fuel for the reactor unless Brazil agreed to "full scope safeguards" (more intrusive than those Brazil had already agreed to) under the NPT. Brazil did not agree then and turned to Germany for future reactors and nuclear technology. Brazil bristled when the US refused to supply the fuel that it had agreed to supply, which was especially harmful coming on the heels of the OPEC embargo that had cut off Brazil's petroleum supply.

Part of my job in Brazil during the 1980s was to get Brazil to be more forthcoming on the nuclear safeguards issue. I was not very successful until the President of Argentina invited the President of Brazil to visit Bariloche, known to be the location of the primary Argentine nuclear research center. Removing an element of Argentine-Brazilian nuclear competition helped both countries move toward more responsible nuclear programs. But Brazil has always been nationalistic. It still did not join the NPT until years later. If the world allows India and Pakistan (not to mention Israel, North Korea, and perhaps some other countries) to join the nuclear club, then Brazil may well insist that it also has the right to join. I don't think there is any indication that Brazil would want nuclear weapons to threaten anybody, but it would not easily consign itself to second-class status in the world by giving up the nuclear option, if nuclear weapons are seen as a sign of great power status.

Charlie Duelfer and Me

Just for the record, Charlie Duelfer, who just issued his report on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and I served together in the State Department's old Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs during the Bush I administration under then-Assistant Secretary of State Richard Clarke (of Against All Enemies fame). I was working on the Missile Technology Control Regime and other missile proliferation issues, and I forget what Charlie was working on, but I think it had to do with technology transfer issues, and so we talked when there were problems with missile-related technology transfers.
More Unrest in Pakistan

A bomb attack in Pakistan today that killed almost 40 Sunnis is evidence of the continuing unrest there. The Sunnis then went on a rampage against the Shiites, which prompted the government to ban all such gatherings. Is this a country that can adequately care for its atomic bombs?
Brits First to Connect Bin Laden to Pakistani Nuclear Help

According to Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack, in late November 2001, Britain's CIA, MI6, found that a Pakistani nuclear weapons designer was willing to sell a nuclear bomb design to a British undercover agent posing as a terrorist. He offered information on a dirty bomb as well as on a relatively sophisticated nuclear bomb. Woodward says that CIA agents found a diagram of a dirty bomb when they overran a bin Laden sanctuary in Afghanistan. As a result, Woodward says that Bush sent then-CIA Director Tenet to peel "back the eyeballs of" Pakistani General Musharraf. The CIA asked the Washington Post to sit on a story about the Pakistani connection because it might cause the Pakistanis to stop cooperating. Woodward concludes, "Four months later, the senior CIA official said the agency 'didn't find what we feared in Afghanistan, but is it somewhere else? I don't think we're to the bottom of this yet.'"

In a footnote, Woodward says, "This was the beginning of the operation that in 2004 uncovered the clandestine sale of nuclear technology by the head of Pakistan's nuclear program, Abdul Qadeer Khan, who later confessed to aiding Iran, North Korea and Libya." I'm not sure that this was the operation that led to exposing the A.Q. Khan network, although it may have contributed important information which allowed intelligence analysts to figure out what was going on when Libya turned its nuclear program over to the West. I think Libya's move was what exposed A.Q. Khan, and that Libya was motivated by its desire to settle the PanAm 103 incident and return to the West's good graces.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Was Kerry Wrong to Criticize Allawi?

In the vice-presidential debate, Cheney jumped on Edwards for Kerry's criticism of Allawi after his address to Congress. Kerry criticized him because Allawi was campaigning for the Republicans. The Repubicans, not Kerry, started the debasement of the Iraqi government by using it as a Republican campaign tool. A number of comparisons on TV showed the similarity between Allawi's speech and his subsequent remarks, and Bush's stump speeches on Iraq. The Washington Post reported that the Bush administration and the Bush campaign had been involved in writing Allawi's speech. Since Allawi was campaigning for Bush, it was abolutely appropriate for Kerry to criticize him. The Republicans bought and paid for Allawi, and thus they can make him jump whenever they pull his strings. The Americans are still running Iraq (at least the parts not in open rebellion). It's not like he is the head of a real government.
Iran Claims More Powerful Missile

While the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) is meeting in Seoul on how to control missile proliferation, Iran has announced that it has a missile with a range of 2,000 km, or about 1,250 miles. CNN does not say how heavy a payload it can carry to this range, which could be important in deciding whether it could carry a nuclear warhead that far. In any case, the report indicates that the new missile is almost twice as powerful as Iran's previously most powerful missile, the Shahab-3. The new missile would be capable of reaching Israel and parts of southeastern Europe.
US Vetoes UN Resolution Criticizing Israel

Reuters reported that the United States on Tuesday vetoed a UN Security Council resolution demanding that Israel stop its major offensive in the Gaza Strip that has cost at least 68 Palestinian lives. Eleven nations voted in favor. Britain, Germany and Romania abstained on the measure, which was drafted by Arab nations.

Blindly supporting Israel's offensive against the Palestinians is not going to help us in Iraq, or anywhere else, except in Israel and with some constituencies in the US. Bush had it backwards; the road to peace in Baghdad runs through Jerusalem. We are only asking for more Arab and Muslim hatred.
Bush Is a Liar, Or Something Is Rotten in the White House, Say Dean and the NYT

Howard Dean pulled a few punches on Letterman last night, but he still spoke more clearly and honestly than anybody else, including Kerry. He spoke at length about the Sunday New York Times article on the aluminum tubes that Bush and his subordinates (Cheney, Rice, Powell) said were for centrifuges for nuclear purposes, but that the intelligence community knew were for conventional weapons uses.

Today the NYT followed up its article with an editorial saying that the administration had plenty of evidence that the tubes-for-bombs theory was baseless. The editorial says that Colin Powell "gravely damaged his reputation" by using the faulty information in his UN briefing, and that either Condi Rice fell down badly in keeping the President informed about this issue and should resign, or the President "terribly misled the public."

Monday, October 04, 2004

MTCR Meeting in Seoul

A meeting of the members of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which I helped create while I was working at the State Department, is being held in Seoul, South Korea. I'm glad it's still around and hopefully doing some good.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

New York Times Studies Iraqi Aluminum Cylinders

A huge article in today's New York Times, "How the White House Used Disputed Arms Intelligence," describes at length how the Bush administration used questionable analysis of intelligence to support its plan to invade Iraq. The White House knew that there was disagreement within the Intelligence Community about what Iraq intended to do with the aluminum tubes, but chose to ignore the disagreement and use only the interpretation that the tubes were intended to be used only in centrifuges for uranium enrichment. According to the article, this administration interpretation was mainly supported only by one junior analyst at CIA, and was opposed by analysts at the Department of Energy who had the most expertise on the subject.

The article is a strong indictment of the current intelligence structure, because George Tenet, the then-Director of Central Intelligence, claimed that he had no role in settling this dispute between intelligence organizations, despite the fact that this dispute was intimately related to the US decision to go to war with Iraq.

In addition, experts at the IAEA (the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency) also strongly discounted the CIA interpretation. According to the article, when the CIA analyst championing the nuclear use went to Vienna to make his presentation to the IAEA, the presentation was a disaster.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Is Pakistan's Nuclear Threat Manageable?

In the October Atlantic Monthly magazine, Graham Allison argues that while Pakistan is perhaps the greatest threat to American security today, it can be defused. Allison says that he was more frightened by the reports of A.Q. Khan's nuclear supplier network than he has been since the Cuban Missile Crisis. He says that once Khan's activities were discovered -- "a 'Wal-Mart of private-sector proliferation' -- a decades-old illicit market in nuclear materials, designs, technologies, and consulting services, all run out of Pakistan," the Pakistani response was to grant Khan a pardon. Allison continues, "Pakistani investigators have reportedly questioned a grand total of eleven people from among the country's 6,000 nuclear scientists and 45,000 nuclear workers, and have refused to allow either the United States or the IAEA access to Khan for questioning."

Allison says that in August 2001, Osama bin Laden met with two former officials of Pakistan's atomic energy program, where bin Laden and his second-in-command Zawahiri grilled them about how to make weapons of mass destruction. Then Allison raises the issue that has most alarmed me, "that a coup might topple Musharraf and leave all or some of Pakistan's nuclear weapons under the control of al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or some other militant Islamic group (or, indeed, under the control of more than one)."

Allison proposes that Pakistan generally follow the model of the Soviet Union as it was disintegrating; the USSR pulled most of its nuclear weapons back from states that were on the verge of becoming independent, leaving them only in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus, from which they were removed later. Another move would be for the US to help Pakistan install "permissive action links" (PALs) on all nuclear weapons, requiring Musharraf's personal approval before a nuclear weapon could be used. Allison argues that Pakistan would be unlikely to tell the US where all of its nuclear weapons are, but it might tell the US about some and China about the remaining ones.

Pakistan is unlikely to agree to either course of action proposed by Allison. As he says, Pakistan's main nuclear rival is India, and while peace talks between the two are ongoing, they will have to get a lot better, as will the situation in Kashmir, before Musharraf can be perceived by the Pakistani population as caving to international pressure to impose stricter controls on Pakistan's nuclear weapons.

As I noted earlier, it's unlikely that anything will happen on this front until there are some serious arms control negotiations among all the powers possessing nuclear weapons, including the US and Israel. One of the underlying assumptions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty is that the old nuclear powers, the US, the Soviet Union, Britain, etc., would engage in serious disarmament negotiations, which has not happened. Bush has shown contempt for such negotiations, and further undermined the concept by withdrawing from the ABM treaty. If anything, the Bush administration's conduct has shown how important it believes the possession of nuclear weapons is in order to be a superpower. Other countries are likely to follow the US example and ignore disarmament as an option.
What About Abu Ghraib?

I was disappointed that neither Kerry nor Bush mentioned Abu Ghraib in the debate last night. While no clear paper trail of orders has been traced to senior administration officials, the fact that the Bush administration decided from the creation the Guantanamo prison not to apply the Geneva Convention implicates the very highest levels of the administration in the Abu Ghraib atrocities. I find the failure to honor the Geneva Convention so offensive that it sullies the reputation of everyone in the Bush administration. The lower ranking soldiers who are being court martialed for their role in Abu Ghraib should have known better, but the administration that created the atmosphere of acceptance of torture is certainly to blame as well. It's possible that in a few years, Bush, Rumsfeld, maybe even Powell, and some of their subordinates will be branded as war criminals, and they, like Pinochet in Chile, will be unable to travel outside of the US without fear of being arrested.
US Deploys Anti-Satellite Weapon

The Rocky Mountain News reported today that Air Force Brigadier General Larry James announced that Air Force Space Command has deployed a new weapon to attack enemy satellite communications at the 76th Space Control Squadron in Colorado Springs. James did not say how the anti-satellite weapon works, whether it destroys the offending satellite or just interferes with it. Depending on how it works, it could create questions about space arms control, which probably don't interest the Bush administration, or if arms control is out of the question, could trigger some sort of arms race in space, particularly with the Russians, but perhaps also with the Chinese.
Cyber Security Chief Abruptly Resigns

The abrupt resignation of Amit Yoran, Richard Clarke's replacement (once removed) as cyber security chief in the Homeland Security Department, indicates that all is not well in Homeland Security. This tends to support Kerry's contention that Bush has focused too exclusively on Iraq and ignored other, more pressing threats to the US.

This abrupt resignation tends to reinforce the impression that Tom Ridge has been a failure as Homeland Security Secretary. His main activities seem to have been changing the color of the alert level, and recommending that people buy duct tape, while cargo security at ports and airports largely remains at pre-9/11 levels. Could Homeland Security find one of those atomic bombs that A.Q. Khan may have helped Osama bin Laden build?
Does Bush Think Pakistan's A.Q. Khan Has Been Brought to Justice?

Last night in his first debate with Senator Kerry, President Bush said, "The A.Q. Khan network has been brought to justice." He later said, "We busted the A.Q. Khan network. This was a proliferator out of Pakistan that was selling secrets to places like North Korea and Libya." They (various people and organizations -- the US, the British, the IAEA) did catch A.Q. Khan mainly because they stumbled over his activities in Libya when Libya renounced its WMD activities. Did Libya renounce its WMD because of US pressure. We'll probably never know exactly what motivated Qadhafi, but it's likely that he was motivated more by trying to settle Lockerbie-PanAm bombing under pressure from the British than because of any American breakthroughs.

So, what about A.Q. Khan? After the debate, CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked Karen Hughes about Bush's statement. He asked, "Do you believe that A.Q. Khan, who delivered nuclear materials to North Korea, to Libya, to other countries, has been a brought to justice?" Karen Hughes replied, "Wolf, his ability to trade on the black market nuclear materials has been severely damaged and compromised, yes." Wolf followed up, "But I get back to A.Q. Khan. He's a free man in Pakistan, he was pardoned by President Musharraf. Does that mean he has been brought to justice, after all that he did in circulating banned nuclear equipment around the world?" Karen Hughes replied "Well, again, Wolf, what I can tell you about A.Q. Khan is that his ability -- the president has made anti-proliferation a centerpiece of his initiative. The A.Q. Khan network's ability to deliver and trade in nuclear materials on the black market has been shattered."

So, A.Q. Khan is not selling nuclear materials at the moment, but he's walking around a free man, with millions of dollars in the bank from his past activities. And, we don't know exactly what he was doing before we stumbled on his operation, because Pakistan's president won't let US agents talk to him, and Bush won't pressure Musharraf to let them. Did Khan help Al-Qaida with nuclear weapons? We don't know.