Center for Strategic Communication

June 18th

U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet on sidelines of G20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico. The meeting reportedly focused on the situation in Syria; however, the two leaders also issued a joint statement in which they vowed to continue their “commitment to strengthening close and cooperative relations.” The statement, which covered a variety of topics, also acknowledged that the U.S. and Russia had a special responsibility in regards to nuclear arms control and nonproliferation.

U.S. President Barack Obama issues statement to Congress to renew penalties against North Korea. A national emergency related to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program was first issued in 2008 and this latest notification will extend U.S. penalties for an additional year. The President’s statement declared, “The existence and risk of proliferation of weapons-usable fissile material on the Korean Peninsula and the actions and policies of the government of North Korea continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.

June 19th

NNSA confirms radiation sensor activation at Freeport in Riga, Latvia. The sensors serve as a deterrent against the smuggling of nuclear or radiological weapons related substances. This deployment is the latest addition of the NNSA’s Second Line of Defense program’s efforts in Latvia.

Members of Congress send letter to President Obama supporting a veto of FY 2013 NDAA if it retains provisions of House version. The letter, sent by Congressman Edward Markey (D-Mass) and 32 other members of the House, urged the President to veto any legislation with provisions that limit his ability to make nuclear arsenal reductions.

The P5+1 talks in Moscow closed without major breakthrough. The latest round of international negotiations was unable to reach a deal to resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program. Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, stated that there remained “significant gaps” after “tough and frank” exchanges. While talks failed to resolve any of the long standing issues, the parties did agree to continue talks on a technical level before deciding to schedule future high-level talks.

June 20th

Two Russian Professors are convicted of treason. The convicted academics were charged with selling China secret information related to the Russian Bulava SLBM system.

June 21st

Explosives discovered at Swedish nuclear power plant. During routine security checks, a truck filled with explosives was found at the Ringhals atomic power station. While police refused to comment on the amount or type of explosives discovered, they did reveal that there was no detonating device attached to the material. Sweden has subsequently raised the security alert at all ten reactors located at three different nuclear power plants.

Israel calls for increased sanctions against Iran. Israeli Vice Premier Shaul Mofaz met with U.S. secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington following the P5+1 talks in Moscow. Vice Premier Mofaz stated that given the failure in Moscow “the West must impose a full oil embargo on Iran and tough financial sanctions. He later added that “in parallel, preparations for other options must continue.”

Iran blames world powers’ bullying and dishonesty for lack of progress in Moscow talks. Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, an influential Iranian politician and former president, said that “The [Moscow] talks proved that the Western side is (not interested) in interaction and they are not honest. They have based their policy on bullying alone.” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also defended Iran’s efforts in Moscow, stating that Iran had offered ‘legal, constructive, fair, and friendly proposals.”

Russia to establish new DARPA-type agency.  Russian President Vladimir Putin submitted a bill to parliament for the establishment of the Russian Foundation for Advanced Research Projects. According to Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, “the foundation will take on all high-risk and fundamental research projects in the military-industrial complex.

Obama administration defends nuclear arsenal modernization efforts. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the implementation of the New START Treaty received testimony from officials from the Energy, Defense and State departments. During the hearing, Sen. Bob Corker commented on the administration’s modernization efforts saying, “It seems like things are being slow-walked…that there’s no intention to follow through, and they actually hope to come up with more reductions so that much of the modernization that we’re talking about does not have to take place.” However, Thomas D’Agostino of the Energy Department responded that the administration is making significant investments, working to improve 80 per cent of the stockpile and is also focusing on infrastructure.

June 22nd

Change in Japanese Atomic Law causes alarm. The conservative Liberal Democratic Party introduced an amendment during open-floor discussion to modify the Atomic Energy Basic Act. The move was subsequently approved in the upper house of parliament. The amendment reads, “The safe use of atomic power is aimed at contributing to the protection of people’s lives, health and property, environmental conservation and national security.” It is the addition of the phrase ‘national security’ that has caused alarm, leading some to speculate the amendment could be used as a legal basis for a future nuclear weapons program. Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura responded to the speculation by saying that “Japan has never wavered in its commitment to the peaceful use of atomic power” and that “the government has no goal at all for its military use.”

Russia argues against placing ultimatums on Iran. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that “In order to settle the issue, it’s necessary to refrain from constant threats of using force, abandon scenarios aimed against Iran, and stop dismissing the talks as failure. He further added that while the talks must not be dragged out, that it would be wrong to “put forward any artificial deadlines and ultimatums…”