Diplomats Weighing More-for-More Strategy with Iran
Western diplomats are reportedly considering adopting a more-for-more strategy in the ongoing negotiations with Iran. Such an approach would offer Iran more sanctions relief in return for more Iranian concessions on their nuclear program. While some observers are optimistic that such an approach could progress the negations with Iran, others are less sanguine.
Iran Considering New Approach to Negotiations
As the West is reportedly considering altering its negotiating strategy with Iran, so too is its counterpart. Iranian officials have suggested that if the P5+1 does not soon offer relief from economic sanctions Iran would consider enriching uranium higher than 20 percent. One Iranian official stated, “Perhaps we may need to produce nuclear fuel for large commercial vessels that need 60 percent purity.” Although this new strategy has been alluded to, no official decision has been made to adopt it.
Installation of Centrifuges at Fordow Nearly Complete
According to Western diplomats, Iran has nearly completed installing the last 640 centrifuges in the underground Fordow plant near the city of Qom, bringing the overall total to approximately 2,800. Still, there are questions as to whether these latest centrifuges are operational. According to one diplomat, “The last I heard was that they… were not operational.”
Iran Diverts Portion of Enriched Uranium Stockpile
Recently Iran diverted a portion of its stockpile of enriched uranium for conversion into fuel for its civilian reactor, thus rendering the material incapable of being used for a weapon. Outside observers viewed this move with cautious optimism. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak noted that this may have delayed “the moment of truth” while another Western diplomat stated that they move “could help us buy some time for diplomacy.”
Russia to Modernize Nuclear Arsenal
A proposed Russian spending plan envisages Russia spending $3.2 billion on its nuclear arsenal by 2016. The plan includes purchasing a new class of ballistic missile submarines as well as two new types of ICBM. Russia has also recently completed a rearming of a division of its strategic missile force with a new generation of ICBM.
Britain Calls for Renewed Effort to Combat Nuclear Terrorism
Last week British Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt opened an international symposium by asserting “Nuclear terrorism is a real and global threat. A successful attack, no matter where in the world it came, would be catastrophic.” Burt also reminded those in attendance that today the threat from nuclear terrorism “is now a possibility we need to confront with the utmost vigilance.” According to IAEA statistics there have been over 2,000 incidents of nuclear material “outside state control” since 1993.
Zerbo Pushes for Ratification of CTBT by U.S. and Others
Last week Lassina Zerbo was elected to head the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, which is tasked with enforcing the CTBT and monitoring nuclear tests. The CTBT, which bans all nuclear tests, must be ratified by eight remaining states, including the U.S. and China, in order to enter into force.
Maj. Gen. Chambers Advocates for Maintaining Triad
In a recent op-ed Major General Willaim Chambers, the assistant chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration for the Air Force, argues that the Triad is both strategically necessary and economically affordable. As he writes, “the triad continues to provide the best blend of capabilities to guarantee a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent.”
USS Enterprise to be Retired
On December 1st the USS Enterprise is set to be retired. The world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier has been in service since 1961 and on its most recent deployment transited the Strait of Hormuz 10 times in a display of American resolve to Iran. Over the next several years the Enterprise’s nuclear reactors will be removed before it is transported to Washington State to be scrapped.