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Posts tagged "Nuclear Weapons"

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President Obama has dealt a blow to Republicans dreaming of war with Iran by announcing that he has directed Sec. of State Kerry to pursue a deal with Iran on their nuclear weapons program.

Video Obama at the UN discussing Syria:

The president provided deep insight into his foreign policy views. Obama told the UN that the United States is ready to act to prevent atrocities, but we can not and should not bear that burden alone. The president said that he was moving the United States away from a perpetual war footing, trying to close GITMO, cutting down on the use of drones, and trying terrorists in courts of law, and transferring detainees to other countries. Obama also said that the nation is reviewing the way they gather intelligence so that security and privacy concerns can be balanced.

President Obama told the UN that they must enforce the ban on chemical weapons when it comes to Syria. Obama laid out the agreement on the Syria’s chemicals weapons as a test of the UN’s ability to enforce basic international laws.

The big news is that Obama announced that he has directed Sec. of State Kerry to work with Russia and China on getting a deal on Iran’s nuclear program. The president said, “We should be able to achieve a resolution that respects the rights of the Iranian people, while giving the world confidence that the Iranian program is peaceful…The roadblocks may prove to be too great, but I firmly believe the diplomatic path must be tested.”

While Democrats strongly support diplomatic solutions to international issues, there are two distinct feuding camps within the Republican Party on foreign policy. The war with Iran faction is being led by John McCain and the Bush administration neo-cons. From the moment that Bush invaded Iraq, there has been a lust for war with Iran within a segment of the GOP. On the other side are the Rand Paul isolationists who have taken their distaste for any international involvement diplomatic or otherwise to the extreme. The Bush era pro-war conditioning is still dominant within the Republican Party, which is why there likely will be mass criticism of Obama’s diplomatic efforts towards Iran’s nuclear program.

For what feels like millionth time, President Obama demonstrated that his foreign policy ideology is almost the opposite of George W. Bush. His address to the UN today was comprehensive and insightful. Obama laid out the damned if you do, damned if you don’t position that the United States faces on many foreign policy issues. He expressed no reluctance to act when necessary, but made it clear to the UN that after a decade plus of war, the American people are tired of military conflict, so we expect the rest of the world to step up and do more.

It is a bad day to be a Republican warmonger. If Obama is successful, the entire Republican rationale for war with Iran will evaporate. After living through more than a decade of Bush instigated war, President Obama is attempting to lay the path for lasting peace.


Tensions on the Korean peninsula are nothing new — historically, North Korea frequently rattles its saber for one reason for another. But the recent escalation in tensions between the North and South have experts worried that this time might be different, that the threat of the United States being drawn into a devastating war with the nuclear-armed North is real in a way that it might not normally be. At the very least, it’s worth paying special attention this time around.

The escalation of tensions began in mid-February, when North Korea conducted its third-ever nuclear test. While the North’s ability to strike the United States is limited at best, the Obama administration interpreted the test as a violation of international law, and pushed throughstricter, though still porous, sanctions on North Korean elites.

North Korea responded in turn by threatening to nullify the armistice that ended the original Korean War, reverting the North and South to a legal state of war. Two days ago, it shut off the last remaining line of communication between the two Korean militaries, warning that “Not words but only arms will work on the U.S. and the South Korean puppet forces.”

Thursday night, the United States responded in kind, conducting a bombing drill with two B-2 bombers over South Korea. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel described the thinking behind the move: “The North Koreans have to understand that what they’re doing is very dangerous.”

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un got the message Friday morning. He ordered his country’s missile arsenal be readied to strike South Korea and the United States if necessary. While North Korean Unha-3 missiles could theoretically reach the West Coast, it’s not clear the missiles actually work. Moreover, North Korea lacks the technology to arm the missiles with nuclear warheads and to deliver them accurately even if they can get them in proper working order. 

So how is this different from the last 60-odd years of North Korean provocations? Many think it isn’t. Writing in the National Interest, Rajon Menon says the current Northern provocations are an example of the Hermit Kingdom’s “measured madness,” an attempt to wring more concessions out of an overcompensating international community.

But North Korea experts Victor Cha and David Kang disagree. They argue that Kim Jong Un’s inexperience (he’s only been running the country since December 2011), together with the South’s new President and more aggressive military stance, means there’s a greater risk (not certainty by any stretch, but risk) of escalation this time around:

So why worry? Two reasons. First, North Korea has a penchant for testing new South Korean presidents. A new one was just inaugurated in February, and since 1992, the North has welcomed these five new leaders by disturbing the peace. Whether in the form of missile launches, submarine incursions, or naval clashes, these North Korean provocations were met by each newly elected South Korean president with patience rather than pique. The difference today is that South Korea is no longer turning the other cheek…for half a century, neither side believed that the benefits of starting a major war outweighed the costs. The worry is that the new North Korean leader might not hold to the same logic, given his youth and inexperience.

So how do we know where this is going? The Washington Post’s Max Fisher suggests that you watch the joint North-South Kaesong Industrial Plant, which he believes the North would shut down in advance of any war.  Of course, states have gone to war with far less economic foresight, though there are other reasons to believe the North won’t go as far as war. It’s likely we’ll just have to wait and nervously see.

h/t: Zack Beauchamp at Think Progress Security

Pyongyang said its long-range missile and artillery units have entered combat posture and are targeting US military bases in Guam, Hawaii and mainland America.

"From this moment, the Supreme Command of the Korean People’s Army will be putting in combat duty posture No. 1 all field artillery units including long-range artillery units strategic rocket units that will target all enemy object in US invasionary bases on its mainland, Hawaii and Guam," the North’s KCNA news agency said.

The North has previously threatened nuclear attacks on the US and its ally South Korea. Military experts believe the threats to be empty, since North Korea is several years from building a nuclear warhead or a missile capable of reaching the mainland US.

Pyongyang has made increasingly aggressive threats recently after the UN Security Council issued a new round of sanctions over North Korea’s third nuclear test in February. The isolated nation says it needs nuclear capabilities to protect its sovereignty from its southern neighbor and the US.

Pyongyang previously threatened to attack US bases in Guam and Okinawa, Japan, last week as the bases are used to launch nuclear-armed US B-52 bombers for the joint exercise.


A full-scale U.S. invasion of Iran could cost the global economy $1.7 trillion, according to the Federation of American Scientists, a nonpartisan think tank which released a report on Friday detailing the estimated costs of different approaches, including military strikes, to solving the Iranian nuclear issue. A “bombing campaign” could cost $1.2 trillion. If the U.S. decided to go about striking Iran’s nuclear sites “surgically,” it’d still cost the global economy more than $700 billion.

Not surprisingly, the group found that a diplomatic approach would be one of the least expensive ways to solve the issue. A continued, strengthened sanctions push could cost the global economy about $64 billion. If the U.S. decided to “isolate” and “blockade” the Iranian oil industry it could bring the cost $325 billion. The most frugal option, at an estimated $60 billion, would be to “de-escalate” with the U.S. uniltaterally taking “steps to show that the United States is willing to make concessions.”

The report bases its estimates on factors including: “(1) financial market losses, (2) oil price increases, (3) military costs and other expenditures to provide security, (4) damage to infrastructure resulting from conflict, and (5) other global economic costs.” The FAS created the report to “to provide a starting point for discussion about one category of potential outcomes” because it believes there has been “less discussion about the outcomes and consequences of any international actions that might be set in motion if and when Iran crosses that line.”

Thus far, the Obama administration has advocated for a diplomatic approach toward the Iran nuclear issue: sanctions enforced by the administration and its European allies have resulted in enormous pressure on the Iranian economy.

h/t: Hamed Aleaziz at Think Progress Security