In 2010, the U.S. administration concluded a Nuclear Posture Review, or NPR, which outlines the President Obam´s agenda for reducing nuclear dangers, as well as advancing the broader security interests of the United States and its allies.
While the United States and Russia continue to have differences on this issue, the United States remains convinced that missile defense cooperation and transparency between the United States and Russia and between NATO and Russia is the national security interests of all countries involved.
Allies have also affirmed their desire to work with Russia on reciprocal transparency steps. While seeking to create the conditions for further nuclear reductions, NATO is willing to continue to ensure that the Alliance´s nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure, and effective, as NATO is committed to remaining a nuclear alliance for as long as nuclear weapons exist.
Obama famously proposed an ambitious nuclear risk-reduction program in a speech in Prague at the beginning of his first term, and followed it up with a number of early achievements. He reiterated the importance of his agenda in a June 2013 speech in Berlin.
HEU and Plutonium. The security and protection of fissile materials is at the core of the NSS process, and many countries have accelerated their plans to lockdown, downblend, and repatriate nuclear materials. According to the latest estimates, the global stockpile of HEU is approximately 1,390 tons, and stockpiles of civilian and non-civilian separated plutonium are approximately 260 tons and 230 tons, respectively.
Since the Seoul summit, three successful HEU removal and repatriation missions have been completed:Uzbekistan in November 2012, Austria in December 2012, and the Czech Republic in April 2013.(Uzbekistan and Austria do not participate in the NSS process.) The Czech Republic was the 10th country to eliminate all of its HEU since President Barack Obama’s April 2009 Prague speech in which he called for an international effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials within four years.
On 17 january we had Frank Rose, who is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for space and defense policy AVC at the US state department. At his visit Mr Rose provide issues about US-Russia Strategic Stability and American security policy. Russia has been a key partner in U.S’s efforts to secure or eliminate these materials. In 2011, the United States and Russia brought into force the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement and its 2006 and 2010 protocols, which requires each side to dispose of 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium, enough in total for about 17,000 nuclear weapons and thus permanently remove this material from military programs.
“We are not developing new nuclear weapons or pursuing new nuclear missions, we have committed not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against nonnuclear weapon states that are party to the NPT and in compliance with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations; and we have clearly stated that it is in the U.S interest and that of all other nations that the 68 year record of nonuse of nuclear weapons be extended forever”, said Frank Rose
And this week on 7th March 2014 the Swedish institute of International Affairs UI hosted a seminar to discuss Obama´s upcoming visit to Europe 24-27 March. According to Hans Blix, Former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA and head of the UN inspectors in Iraq) one of the speakers at the conference, said “there are further initiatives that are part of Obamas agenda, it is important to maintain support to partners around the world, who are securing sensitive nuclear materials worldwide and that make it harder for terrorists to acquire those materials”. A number of threat sources, ranging from terrorist groups to emerging nations, are capable of accessing advanced technologies and know-how provided by corporations, the Internet, the black market, and other sources.
At the third Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, beginning March 24, world leaders will announce new initiatives to secure or eliminate stocks of plutonium and highly-enriched uranium, key building blocks of nuclear weapons that could be stolen by terrorists. But some nations are still producing these materials or plan to begin doing so on an industrial scale.
More recently, Japan’s government has announced a Basic Energy Plan that renews the country’s commitment to plutonium as a fuel for nuclear reactors. North Korea, in particular, have long been causes for concern for not contributing to the international order. As the structural constraints surrounding the country started to loosen after the end of the cold war, North Korea developed into a constant headache for policymakers in the multilateral negotiations.
In Berlin, President Obama called on all nations to begin negotiations on a treaty that ends the production of fissile materials for use nuclear weapons. A Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty of FMCT would codify an end to the production of weapons.
Beginning multilateral negotiations on the FMCT is a priority objective for the United States and for the vast majority of states. The United States is consulting with the all recognized nuclear weapon states (NWS) China, France, Russia, and the United Kingdom , as well as two others that are not NPT members, India and Pakistan, to find a way to commence negotiations of an FMCT.
In his first term, Obama issued a Nuclear Posture Review that reduced the role of nuclear weapons in US policy; signed the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), reducing the US and Russian deployed nuclear arsenals; and spearheaded an historic international effort to prevent nuclear terrorism and elevate it to an issue of concern for heads of state—the results of which include the removal of all highly enriched uranium from 12 countries, including Ukraine.
The second-term nuclear cupboard has not been entirely bare, however. In his speech in Berlin, the president announced that he had signed off on a long-delayed update to high-level nuclear weapons policy guidance, paving the way for a potential reduction in deployed strategic nuclear warheads of up to one third below the New START limit of 1,550.
New START treaty. That would imply that the guidance review has concluded that the United States needs 1,000-1,100 warheads deployed on land- and sea-based strategic warheads, down from the 1,550 permitted under the New START treaty.
At the Nuclear Security Summit held in Seoul in March 2012, more than 50 countries, including the United States, pledged to seek the entry into force of the protection of nuclear material amendment in time for the Netherlands summit in March 2013.
In addition, efforts to safeguard and eliminate nuclear materials have continued, as has the Nuclear Security Summit process, the third installment of which is scheduled to take place in late March 2014 in the Netherlands.
Signing off on the updated nuclear guidance was an important step forward, but instead of taking 90 days to complete as originally planned, it took two years. The president also conditioned further weapons reductions on negotiations with Russia, which may not be forthcoming. Moscow has rejected US appeals to engage in another round of arms reductions and a data-sharing plan to reduce tension over US missile defense plans.
The first-step agreement between six nations and Iran, signed in November 2013, was a remarkable achievement.
The six-month deal constrains Iran’s nuclear program for the first time in a decade, and provides an opportunity to negotiate a more comprehensive agreement that erects even stronger roadblocks on Iran’s path to a bomb. Were such a deal to be successfully implemented, it would eliminate a great threat and be a legacy-defining feather in the US president’s cap.
However, the next round of talks will be enormously challenging. Obama has put the chances of reaching a longer-term agreement at no better than 50 percent. And then there’s North Korea. For all the recent progress with Iran, North Korea’s nuclear program is moving forward at an alarming rate.
While negotiations with Iran will likely remain its top priority, the Obama administration can’t afford to ignore other aspects of nuclear risk reduction. There are steps the administration can take during the remainder of Obama’s time in office to breathe new life into his agenda, increase US security, tailor the global security threats of the 21st century and set the stage for future progress.
As President Obama noted in Prague and repeated in Berlin, this will not be easy. It will require persistence and patience, and may not happen in his lifetime. Still, over the last four years we have succeeded in moving closer to this goal. The U.S., EU, Russia and China have maintained continuous and intensive contacts in this matter and talks with Iran to seek an arrangement that would preserve Iran´s right to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy without the operation of sensitive nuclear fuel-cycle facilities, specifically uranium enrichment and nuclear reprocessing plants.
The U.S.-led international order and the opportunity for cooperation and integration into it. Both are alive and well in the current system, and the balance provides a continued ability to solve problems and to manage crises at roughly the same rate as when American dominance was unquestioned. Maintaining that balance is central to the question of whether we will live in a stable or unstable system in the period to come.