Soon after the Obama administration took office, Vice President Joe Biden set the tone of the new administration's approach toward Moscow when he called for the United States and Russia to press the "reset button" in their bilateral relationship. This theme was reiterated in the March 9, 2009, meeting between Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Providing guidance to their bureaucracies, Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev, at their meeting on the margins of the April G-20 financial summit in London, "decided to begin bilateral intergovernmental negotiations to work out a new, comprehensive, legally binding agreement on reducing and limiting strategic offensive arms to replace" START. (Continue)
In the initial weeks of the Obama administration, former Vice President Dick Cheney stated that there was a "high probability" of a terrorist attempt to use a nuclear weapon or biological agent and that "whether they can pull it off depends on what kind of policies we put in place." President Barack Obama, in his April 5 Prague speech, said that terrorists "are determined to buy, build, or steal" a nuclear weapon and that the international community must work "without delay" to ensure that they never acquire one. Obama also outlined a number of policies for locking down vulnerable nuclear material and strengthening the nuclear nonproliferation regime. (Continue)
On Jan. 20, China issued its biennial defense white paper, which explained for the first time how its nuclear force would respond to different situations in line with its policy of "no first use of nuclear weapons." The paper, entitled "China's National Defense in 2008," is the sixth Beijing has issued since 1998.
China's primary strategic nuclear force is maintained by its Second Artillery Corps, which Beijing states "takes as its fundamental mission the protection of China from any nuclear attack." Although the paper's description of the role of the Second Artillery Corps focused on its nuclear forces, the corps also has a conventional precision-strike missile capability. (Continue)
Many aspects of the Chinese-U.S. relationship are mutually beneficial: some $400 billion in trade, bilateral military exchanges, and Beijing's increasingly constructive diplomatic role. There are other grounds for concern. Each side's militaries view the other as a potential adversary and increasingly make plans and structure their forces with that in mind.
On the conventional side, there are many important areas to consider, but the potential for nuclear rivalry raises monumental risks. This article assesses the dangers in the bilateral nuclear relationship, the potential for traditional arms control to address these challenges, the broadening of the "strategic" military sphere, and the issue of proliferation beyond the bilateral relationship. (Continue)
The National Intelligence Council (NIC) released its fourth Global Trends report on Nov. 20, timed to correspond every four years to the period of transition between presidential administrations. Chaired by Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analysis Thomas Fingar, the NIC is within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which sits atop the sprawling U.S. intelligence community. The "Global Trends 2025" report aims to identify key strategic drivers in the global system that could shape the issues facing the new administration and to guide policymakers toward a broad view of the world. (Continue)
The Bush administration notified Congress Oct. 3 that it plans to sell more than $6.4 billion in military equipment to Taiwan, triggering sharp criticism from China, which believes that the move would violate bilateral assurances made by Washington to decrease arms transfers to Taiwan.
According to the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the bulk of the planned U.S. sale would include 330 Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missiles and 30 Apache Longbow attack helicopters, as well as 182 Javelin guided anti-tank missiles, 32 submarine-launched Harpoon missiles, spare parts for F-16s and other fighter aircraft, and upgrades for four E-2T Hawkeye 2000 early-warning aircraft. The proposed package does not include new F-16 fighter jets or submarines, about which Beijing has been particularly concerned. (Continue)
In September, the U.S. Department of the Treasury imposed proliferation sanctions on 25 Iranian entities. Enacted under Executive Order 13382, the sanctions freeze any U.S. assets of the accused and prohibit them from engaging in U.S. financial or commercial activities.
The sanctions are the latest installment in a series the Treasury Department has imposed during President George W. Bush’s second term on entities allegedly assisting or engaged in the acquisition or sale of unconventional weapons, related materials, or missiles. At the same time, the Department of State, which spearheaded the drive to reinvigorate sanctions during Bush’s first term, has increasingly taken a back seat. The changes parallel a shift in the target of sanctions: over the course of the administration, sanctions have decreased against Chinese entities and increased against Iranian entities. (Continue)
In April, South African dockworkers refused to unload a Chinese cargo ship carrying more than 70 tons of small arms destined for Zimbabwe. The refusal set off international reactions that led to the recall of the shipment and calls for stronger international arms trade measures, such as a global arms trade treaty.
The shipment, including three million rounds of ammunition for AK47s and 1,500 rocket-propelled grenades, was meant to be unloaded at Durban, South Africa, and transported overland to land-locked Zimbabwe. (Continue)
The Department of Defense has negotiated a landmark new communications hotline between the U.S. military and the Chinese Ministry of National Defense, while it continues to keep a watchful eye on China’s growing military capabilities.
Defense Department officials announced Feb. 29 that they had formally agreed to implement the long-discussed Defense Telephone Link (DTL) with China. The agreement comes after years of talks between the two sides. Hotline talks were given a boost last September when President George W. Bush raised the issue directly with Chinese President Hu Jintao. The link was discussed again when Secretary of Defense Robert Gates visited China in November and at an annual bilateral meeting of undersecretary-level defense representatives in Washington in December. (Continue)
Taiwan’s legislature recently approved buying a dozen anti-submarine planes, a modest portion of an original $18 billion U.S. arms package offered six years ago. The purchase comes amid persistent U.S. questions about China’s military modernization and a new move to prevent American technology from aiding that drive.
Soon after taking office, President George W. Bush authorized selling Taiwan an array of weapon systems, including destroyers, diesel-electric attack submarines, and aircraft. (See ACT, May 2001.) Later, the United States added short- and medium-range anti-missile systems. Taiwan agreed to acquire four Kidd-class guided-missile destroyers, the final two of which were delivered last September. The rest of the package, however, became entangled in politics. (Continue)
A Review of The Minimum Means of Reprisal: China’s Search for Security in the Nuclear Age by Jeffrey Lewis. (Continue)
China 's Jan. 11 test of a sophisticated hit-to-kill anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon should have shattered complacency about the dangers posed by these arms. Much press commentary has focused on the threat to U.S. military systems, but these are less vulnerable than is popularly perceived. The real danger lies less in the military realm than in the long-term risk to civilian communications, weather forecasting, and pure scientific research conducted by all space-faring nations. (Continue)
After shooting down one of its weather satellites Jan. 11, the Chinese government maintained a baffling silence until Jan. 23 when it confirmed foreign reports of the event...