Ten years ago today, President George W. Bush said in a radio address to the nation: "It is clear that Saddam Hussein is still violating the demands of the United Nations by refusing to disarm." Eleven days later, he announced the invasion of Iraq to remove the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) allegedly possessed by Hussein's brutal regime and to prevent their use by or transfer to terrorist networks such as al Qaeda. That no such weapons existed was less a symptom of flawed intelligence than the U.S. leaders' obsession with achieving regime change in Baghdad and their consequent willingness to distort evidence on WMD toward that end.
As the international community seeks to stave off an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear program, policymakers would do well to draw lessons from the first attack to destroy a nuclear facility, Israel’s bombing of Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor on June 7, 1981. At the time, the attack drew near-universal condemnation, but it soon came to be seen as a milestone in nonproliferation, demonstrating that force could be a practical option to halt a suspected nuclear weapons program without harmful repercussions for the attacker.
It is doubtful that the Gulf states see the 2012 conference as crucial to their security, but with the negotiations forming a key piece of the regional security architecture, they cannot afford to ignore it.
In 1991, in the wake of the Persian Gulf War, the international community sought to tighten controls on the conventional arms trade. Today, as Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi uses imported military equipment against opponents of his regime, the 1991 efforts and their mixed results deserve renewed attention.
"Redirecting" scientists who worked in programs to produce weapons of mass destruction is a key part of U.S. nonproliferation efforts. In spite of current budget constraints, the United States needs to improve its capacity in that area. The difficulties that such programs faced in Iraq provide valuable lessons for future work.
In his memoir, Mohamed ElBaradei “pulls no punches” in arguing for negotiation over either sanctions or force as a nonproliferation tool, reviewer Michael Adler says.
The process of determining noncompliance is an important aspect of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards system, as well as the only established mechanism for determining noncompliance with the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) itself. Noncompliance with an NPT safeguards agreement constitutes violation of Article III of the NPT, the obligation to accept safeguards on all nuclear material, and, depending on the circumstances, possibly a violation of Article II, the obligation not to acquire nuclear weapons. (Continue)
Several recent U.S. government reports identified significant difficulties in tracking U.S. small arms and light weapons meant for Afghan national forces and an improvement in monitoring such weapons meant for Iraq.
According to a January study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the United States did not maintain complete records for 87,000 of 242,000 U.S.-procured weapons for the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). The study also found records to be unreliable for 135,000 weapons obtained from 21 other countries for the ANSF. (Continue)
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)
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence June 5 completed its long-delayed investigation into U.S. intelligence on Iraq prior to the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of that country. The final portions of the investigation entailed a comparison of prewar intelligence with speeches made by senior administration officials and an examination of the work carried out by two Pentagon offices, which compiled their own intelligence related to Iraq. (See ACT, March 2008. ) The committee began its examination of the prewar intelligence on Iraq in June 2003. (Continue)
The long-delayed Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report released today underscores once again that the president and his war cabinet selectively used portions of the flawed October 2002 National Intelligence Assessment (NIE) to justify the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. The new report documents, beyond a doubt, that Bush and his team cherry-picked the flawed intelligence estimate, which was filled with caveats and qualifications about Iraq’s alleged nuclear, chemical, biological, and missile programs. (Continue)
During a March 19 speech marking the fifth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, President George W. Bush warned of consequences for the early removal of U.S. forces from that country. These, he said, could include the possibility that a withdrawal would indirectly help al Qaeda acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Meanwhile, Vice President Dick Cheney seemed to indicate that Iran was pursuing the development of weapons-grade uranium, a claim contrary to international inspection findings. (Continue)
Five years after the March 2003 invasion of Iraq by U.S.-led coalition forces, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has yet to conclude its investigations into the pre-war intelligence that was cited by the Bush administration as the basis for the decision to take military action against Iraq. (Continue)
The theory of punctuated equilibrium posits that life on Earth has evolved not in constant, linear fashion but through long periods of stasis, interrupted by catastrophic events, such as meteor impacts, which suddenly push it in new, adaptive directions. Without stretching the metaphor too far, the evolution of nuclear safeguards can be viewed in this way. It has been characterized by long periods of continuity, interrupted by extraordinary events that have changed its nature and direction. (Continue)