In early July, U.S. forces transferred 550 metric tons of yellowcake, the compound made from mined natural uranium ore, from the Iraqi nuclear site of Tuwaitha to a port in Montreal. If the material were processed for military purposes, it would be sufficient for as many as 50 nuclear weapons. The Canadian corporation Cameco purchased the nuclear material.
In a July 7 briefing, Department of State spokesperson Sean McCormack said the operation was conducted according to applicable International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regulations. Citing "security concerns," McCormack noted that the transfer was done secretly. An unnamed senior U.S. official told the Associated Press in July that the transferal took nearly three months, beginning in April. (Continue)
Reports about security problems at U.S. nuclear weapons bases in Europe have led to renewed calls from parliamentarians of European allies for an end to NATO's nuclear weapons-sharing arrangements. But a senior NATO official interviewed by Arms Control Today rejected the reports about security problems, predicted a continuation of NATO's nuclear weapons policies, and called for a modernization of U.S. nuclear weapons deployed in Europe.
The Bush administration has moved closer toward its goal of establishing long-range anti-missile outposts in Europe, completing basing agreements recently with the Czech Republic and Poland over Russian objections and threats. The earliest that site construction could start is late next year if lawmakers in the United States and the two host countries back the effort. (Continue)
Ambassador Nabil Fahmy has served in Egypt's Foreign Ministry for 30 years and has focused particularly on disarmament and regional security issues. Most recently, he acted as Cairo's ambassador to Washington from October 1999 to August 2008. On July 21, Arms Control Today spoke with Ambassador Fahmy on a variety of issues, including Egypt's perspective on the global nuclear nonproliferation regime, the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, and concerns regarding Iran's nuclear program. (Continue)
Frustrated by Polish negotiating demands on a plan to install U.S. anti-missile interceptors in Poland, the United States recently said it had other basing options. Despite vigorous Russian opposition to the potential interceptor deployment in a former Soviet ally, the Bush administration is considering a former Soviet republic, Lithuania, as an alternative. (Continue)
Serious consequences await those that aid terrorists in acquiring or using unconventional weapons under a new policy that national security adviser Stephen Hadley has broadcast. The Bush administration, however, is not clarifying whether the punishment could include U.S. nuclear weapons use, an ambiguity that suits some experts but troubles others. (Continue)
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates fired Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley and Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne on June 5 after a report by Navy Adm. Kirkland Donald highlighted significant oversights in the Air Force’s nuclear security practices. (Continue)
Over the past month, the issue of how the United States will address Iran’s nuclear program has become one of the centerpieces of the foreign policy debate between the two presumptive major-party presidential candidates. The candidates differ in particular on their perceptions of the usefulness of direct dialogue with Iran, with Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) indicating that he would drop U.S. preconditions for meeting with Iran and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) declaring that such an approach would only strengthen the ruling regime in Tehran. (Continue)
With the Sochi Declaration in April 2008, the poker players in Washington and Moscow effectively laid down their strategic arms control cards for the last time in the Bush and Putin administrations. They reiterated their intention to carry out further reductions in strategic offensive arms, they pledged to continue development of a legally binding post-START arrangement, and they restated their commitment to Article VI of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which calls for eventual total elimination of nuclear weapons. (Continue)
Keynote by Ambassador Sergio Duarte, with a panel featuring representatives from the Obama and McCain campaigns.