By Nathan Beauchamp-Mustafaga, Research Assistant for Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Programme
The United States needs to push North Korea straight to the top of its policy agenda, says academic Joel Wit (above), saying that Pyongyang might already possess 25 nuclear weapons and may have deployed a prototype road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
Speaking at the IISS several days before Pyongyang carried out its third nuclear test on 12 February, the former State Department official and Visiting Scholar at the US–Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) said he thought the passive policy of ‘strategic patience’ during the Obama administration’s first four years had failed.
As the administration entered its second term, he suggested, the White House should take a more proactive approach to North Korea – especially given President Barack Obama’s recommitment to Asia and his outspoken advocacy on nuclear issues.
Every year, the IISS invites nominees from the next generation of strategists to attend the Manama Dialogue as part of its ‘Young Strategists Programme’. Here, one of this year’s Young Strategists – Alexander Vysotsky, Senior Secretary in the Office of the Mayor of Moscow – reflects on his highlight from Saturday in Manama:
‘I’m in the process of preparing a PhD thesis on Democratisation as an element of the US policy in the Middle East in 2001-2008, so I was especially looking forward to Saturday’s Plenary Session on “The US and the Region”.’
Taking part in the session were Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns, former presidential candidate John McCain and Charles ‘Dutch’ Ruppersberger, who is the senior Democrat member of the US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.
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As predicted, the latest report on Iran’s nuclear programme by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has contributed to a push in Israel and parts of the US for preventive military action. Since May, Iran has installed more than a thousand new centrifuges in the underground facility at Fordow, doubling the number there since the last IAEA report in May.
In a pre-emptive move of their own, White House officials gave their own spin to the latest developments several days before the IAEA released the report. While not underplaying their concern over Iran’s continued defiance, the Obama team noted that the new numbers are not a ‘game changer’. The new centrifuges are not (yet) being used for enrichment and the stockpile of 20% enriched uranium has not grown since May because half of it has been converted to an oxide form for use in fuel plates.
The danger posed by Iran’s nuclear programme is heightening incrementally: the numbers grow arithmetically, not by orders of magnitude. Mark Fitzpatrick, in a new article for Al-Monitor questions the wisdom of a war over a 10% increase in centrifuges. A proportionate response would be to increase the sanctions pressure on Iran, which has so far not made good use of diplomacy.
Read the full article at Al-Monitor
There is a case to be made for a Republican national security policy, but Mitt Romney has yet to make it, writes IISS-US Executive Director Andrew Parasiliti in the Huffington Post. A recent USA Today/Gallup poll showed that 52% of those surveyed thought Obama ‘would better handle’ foreign affairs than Romney, who tallied just 40%, and Romney’s recent overseas trip didn’t exactly burnish his foreign-policy credentials. Parasiliti argues that Romney needs more than ‘tired conservative platitudes designed primarily for the Republican base’ – in which he insists he is ‘tougher on Iran, a better friend to Israel, a more formidable adversary to Russia and China, and a bigger spender on defence’ – and should expand on a theme from a speech he gave last month: ‘A healthy American economy is what underwrites American power.’ Parasiliti points out that the same USA Today/Gallup that put Obama on top in foreign affairs put Romney ahead on the deficit and the economy. This pointed to an electoral advantage for the Republicans if they ‘develop and expand on this link between the economy and national security’.