PONI Debates the Issues Blog

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Last fall, I visited the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS—formerly known as the Nevada Test Site), a sprawling 1,300-acre complex in the picturesque desert and foothills outside Las Vegas. The NNSS once hosted facilities supporting Cold War nuclear testing and development programs. Veterans of Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National…

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Balancing Trade and International Security

The World Customs Organization (WCO) serves as the sole international customs organization, providing leadership in re-orienting the global customs community to the valuable contributions it can make in national security. Customs authorities manage the movement of goods, money, and people, and play a key role in the prevention and detection of smuggling restricted goods. As the customs community single multilateral/international organization, the WCO provides leadership to focus on issues…

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Photo courtesy of UK Ministry of Defence, https://www.flickr.com/photos/defenceimages/8950656444/ In the aftermath of the British vote to leave the European Union, it has become apparent that extricating the United Kingdom from decades of EU membership will be no simple task. Nowhere is this reality clearer than in the realm of nuclear security. With Scotland having voted to remain in the EU by a significant margin, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of Scotland has stated that a second referendum on Scottish independence from the UK is highly likely. Among the many economic and…

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Last week (June 20-23), the UN Security Council held open consultations on the comprehensive review of Resolution 1540, which mandates that all 193 UN members must adopt and enforce effective laws to keep WMDs out of the hands of terrorists. UN member states, along with representatives from international, regional and sub-regional organizations, and non-governmental organizations, engaged in an open dialogue to reflect on the resolution’s achievements and to develop new ideas for improving…

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On July 30th, 2015, a 5.2 earthquake shook the city of Mersin and was felt all the way to Turkey’s eastern border. Ten days earlier, a devastating wildfire in the Gulnar district caused damage to more than 60 acres. Why does this matter? Turkey is in the pursuit of acquiring its first nuclear power plant in the Gulnar district, Akkuyu, only 50 miles from Mersin.

In addition to environmental concerns, the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant poses broader security risks as well. Under…

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It has been nearly a year since the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a historic agreement that after years of negotiation was meant to walk Iran back from the brink of “going nuclear” and reintegrate it into the global economy. Although Iran has abided by the terms of the agreement, the country has yet to feel the economic relief that it was promised in exchange for constraints on its nuclear program. Iranian optimism surrounding the prospect of economic relief is…

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If We Were Them, Would We Be Deterred?

When I began my career, I remember hearing senior leaders talk about the success of deterrence during the Cold War and it was summed up best by Ambassador Paul Nitze when he said he wanted the Soviets to conclude every day when they examined the situation, "Not Today Comrade." The answer was known then why their conclusion was "not today." The reward was not worth the risk. Looking at the present situation, do our adversaries all reach the same conclusion? Are they being deterred or just…

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Losing the Nuclear Edge

Photo courtesy of US Air Force: http://www.af.mil/News/Photos.aspx?igphoto=2000776419

The need to recruit and retain scientists and engineers remains a common theme among U.S. government agencies. The nuclear enterprise is no exception. Throughout the Department of Energy and Department of Defense, the colloquially named "gray beards" provide the technical expertise. The average age of engineers involved in all aspects of the nuclear enterprise from stockpile stewardship to nuclear monitoring and forensics is increasing as it becomes more difficult to…

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Nuclear Semantics

Hot off the heels of the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit, the international community is once again abuzz with plans to secure nuclear materials and thwart the efforts of terrorists to acquire these materials. Chief among these efforts is securing nuclear and radiological materials. Are these…

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photo courtesy of http://blog.nuclearsecrecy.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/duck-and-cover-drill.jpg If you ask young children around elementary schools in southern California what to do during an earthquake, they will enthusiastically demonstrate how to hide under their desk (as an adult this may be much more difficult than it sounds) and how to get outside quickly to their teacher’s meeting point once the shaking has stopped. In Kansas, students start drilling for…

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The triad of nuclear weapon delivery systems – consisting of land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), strategic bombers, and nuclear-armed submarines – is the holy trinity of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. However, all three legs of the triad are aging and will need large-scale, expensive modernization in the coming decades if they are to be maintained. This has prompted a discussion about the continued necessity of the nuclear…

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Right now, the world’s attention is focused firmly on the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. But there is another country that deserves at least as much attention, if not more: North Korea. The hermit kingdom’s nuclear weapons program is looking more and more dangerous these days; in April, Admiral William Gortney…

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The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of the Center for Strategic and International Studies or the Project on Nuclear Issues. The content of this web site does not constitute an endorsement by or opinion of the Department of Defense or any sponsor of the Project on Nuclear Issues.