US-Soldaten in Afghanistan

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists



"How the coronavirus outbreak is like a nuclear attack: An interview with Jeffrey Lewis"

Der Abrüstungsexperte Jeffrey Lewis beschreibt die Corona-Pandemie in diesem Interview als einen "Atomkrieg in Zeitlupe". Dabei bezieht er sich konkret auf das Problem der politischen Führung. "The biggest parallel is that what is about to happen will have been largely preventable, particularly in the United States (…). In the nuclear field, we do worry that decisions made under tight timelines will be worse decisions, and that’s probably true. But I don’t think any amount of time would allow Trump to make better decisions. It’s just the situation might be slightly more forgiving. But as we’re learning now, it’s not. It’s not more forgiving. (…) One thing about nuclear command and control, which the virus outbreak underscores, is that it is so hard to get good information in a crisis. The epidemic spiraled out of control so quickly in certain countries that even the best experts were rushing to figure out what was going on. To me the danger of a nuclear war is not that somebody’s going to get up one morning and say, 'Ah, fuck it,' and push the button. It’s that we’re deeply flawed as human beings, and we have imperfect information, and we’re always trying to make decisions under complexity. And I think you saw the same things here. There was enough uncertainty early on that people could argue about how contagious the virus is, or how deadly it is. That uncertainty hampered the response at a critical moment."

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"The dark side of our drone future"

James Rogers entwirft ein Zukunftsszenario, in dem Drohnen in der Wirtschaft und der Logistik eine unverzichtbare Rolle spielen. Neben vielen Annehmlichkeiten werde diese "Drohnen-Revolution" auch neue Risiken und Herausforderungen mit sich bringen. "Some of the issues are self-evident and have already begun to cause problems as drone technologies expose unforeseen vulnerabilities within vital national infrastructure. (...) Uncertainty is a core part of the drone’s allure. The combination of ever-longer range and remote control allows for a distancing and a deniability when it comes to aggressive drone use. A drone can be above us, next to us, or, horrifyingly, outside our airplane window as we land at an international airport. It is unclear who is controlling any given drone, and there are currently few measures that can effectively trace, track, and disable the eclectic mix of drone systems that populate our skies. (...) As the drone future approaches, policy makers, industry leaders, security forces, and technology innovators must prioritize key questions: How will national governments secure emerging drone infrastructures as they grow exponentially over the next few years? How will data be kept secure? Can the hacking of drones and spread of disinformation be prevented? And, in the face of the most advanced drones, how will counter-drone systems react?"

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"Scientists have a new technique for verifying a dismantled nuke"

Ein neues Verfahren zur Verifizierung der Demontage von Atomwaffen könnte John Krzyzaniak zufolge in der internationalen Rüstungskontrolle zu einem "Game Changer" werden. "Arms control cannot work without verification, and verification must walk a fine line between transparency and information security. Inspectors need to confirm that a country is complying with its commitments, but the host country needs to ensure that it is not giving up state secrets or knowledge that could be used to proliferate weapons. An ideal verification method that is both transparent and perfectly secure is called a 'zero-knowledge' protocol. To date, researchers have not come up with a practical zero-knowledge protocol for verifying the dismantlement of nuclear warheads. (...) The new technique, which Danagoulian and his colleague Ezra Engel describe in a scientific paper published in Nature Communication, comes very close to striking that perfect balance between transparency and information security. In an email to the Bulletin, Danagoulian wrote that 'while strictly speaking the measurement is not zero-knowledge, it is near-zero-knowledge [in that] it doesn’t reveal any practical information about the weapon.'"

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"The Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign: A prelude to war with Iran?"

Auch Dina Esfandiary warnt, dass sich die diplomatische US-Strategie des "maximalen Drucks" auf den Iran schnell als "Vorspiel" eines Krieges herausstellen könnte. "It is unclear what the Trump administration aims to achieve with its 'maximum pressure' campaign. Ceasing the oil waivers only restricts Iran’s ability to purchase much needed humanitarian goods for a population that Secretary Pompeo repeatedly states the administration 'stands with.' The renewal of the waivers allowing work to continue on Iran’s nuclear facilities is wise, but the shortening of the timeframe will mean that the administration will merely have to revisit the issue in 90 days. The work contemplated under the Iran nuclear deal can’t possibly be completed within three months. What’s more, far from 'tightening restrictions on Iran’s program,' preventing it from shipping or selling excess nuclear material abroad seems designed to interfere with Iran’s efforts to implement its commitments under the JCPOA. Reframing a routine deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln strike force to the region only serves to unnecessarily heighten tensions and foster the potential for miscalculation. The only reason to do any of this is to push Iran into a corner, paving the way toward military confrontation — something few want because it will achieve little."

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"The Iran deal is a done deal"

Aaron Arnold hält die europäischen Bemühungen um eine Rettung des Atomabkommens mit dem Iran aus fundamentalen wirtschaftlichen Gründen für aussichtslos. "In the end (...) this is an economic decision, not a political one, and it is unlikely that the EU’s bulwark is strong enough to restrain multinational corporations’ economic interests for the sake of keeping political commitments to Iran. Germany’s trade with Iran, for example, sits at approximately $3.8 billion — less than 2 percent its of trade with the United States. It would be economically unwise to put those business relationships in jeopardy. It is this reality that will force the EU and the UK to concede to US unilateral sanctions. A bitter pill to swallow, indeed, and one that forces the JCPOA to collapse."

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"It is 30 seconds closer to midnight"

Das Wissenschaftsmagazin "Bulletin of Atomic Scientists" hat seine sogenannte "Weltuntergangsuhr" um 30 Sekunden vorgestellt. Die Wissenschaftler erklären ihre Entscheidung vor allem mit dem Amtsantritt Donald Trumps. "The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science and Security Board takes a broad and international view of existential threats to humanity, focusing on long-term trends. Because of that perspective, the statements of a single person — particularly one not yet in office — have not historically influenced the board's decision on the setting of the Doomsday Clock. But wavering public confidence in the democratic institutions required to deal with major world threats do affect the board’s decisions. And this year, events surrounding the US presidential campaign — including cyber offensives and deception campaigns apparently directed by the Russian government and aimed at disrupting the US election — have brought American democracy and Russian intentions into question and thereby made the world more dangerous than was the case a year ago."

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"The real German submarine scandal"

In Israel laufen gegenwärtig Ermittlungen zum Kauf deutscher U-Boote durch die israelische Regierung, ein Geschäft, bei dem möglicherweise nicht alles sauber abgelaufen ist. Victor Gilinsky hält die Lieferung der U-Boote für den tatsächlichen Skandal, da Deutschland und Israel gezielt Schlupflöcher im Atomwaffensperrvertrag ausgenutzt hätten. "(...) the existence of loopholes in the NPT does not diminish the obligation of the parties to act in accordance with the treaty’s fundamental objectives. The treaty preamble states that the members believe 'the proliferation of nuclear weapons would seriously enhance the danger of nuclear war.' The obligation to restrain nuclear weapons programs of non-NPT states does not end when those states obtain nuclear weapons. By providing Israel with strategic submarines, Germany has given that non-NPT member an essentially invulnerable capacity to strike anywhere in Europe, North Africa, or the Middle East with nuclear weapons. That surely is at odds with German (and American) insistence that the NPT is the 'cornerstone' of their proliferation policy."

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"Trump said he'd tear up the Iran nuclear deal. Now what?"

Ariane Tabatabai stellt Überlegungen über die Zukunft des internationalen Atomabkommens mit dem Iran an. Donald Trump habe das Abkommen im Wahlkampf als "dümmsten Deal aller Zeiten" bezeichnet, da es den Iran langfristig zu einer Atommacht werden lasse. Bei der Rettung des Abkommens werde es vor allem auf die Verbündeten der USA ankommen, so ihre Erwartung. "Even if he doesn’t pull the United States out of the JCPOA implementation process, though, Trump could still destabilize it. Republicans, generally more inclined to pass new sanctions and put obstacles in the way of the nuclear agreement, won both the House and Senate. That makes it crucial for US partners eager to see the agreement succeed to defend it. (...) US partners, especially the European countries, have not always been assertive throughout the negotiation and implementation process, but it is essential that they become so now, because they all have a stake in ensuring that the JCPOA survives past Trump’s time in office. This means that they must prepare to step up and tackle challenges and obstacles as they emerge, and serve as a check on Washington."

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"Time may be right for a Northeast Asia nuclear-weapon-free zone"

So lange sich Nordkorea – ob zu recht oder nicht – durch auf das Land gerichtete Atomwaffen bedroht fühle, werde es nicht auf eigene Atomwaffen verzichten. Daher sei die Zeit gekommen, über eine atomwaffenfreie Zone in Nordostasien nachzudenken, schreibt Chung-in Moon im Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist. "This approach deserves serious consideration—not least because it treats all the region's nuclear threats in an even-handed way. The stalled six-party talks, in contrast, have focused on threats emanating from North Korea, with other regional security issues playing a subordinate role."

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"The dangers of no-first-use"

Die Überlegungen der Obama Administration, die USA darauf festzulegen, niemals Atomwaffen einzusetzen, außer als Antwort auf einen gegen die USA gerichteten nuklearen Angriff, berge erhebliche Risiken und bringe dagegen keine Vorteile, schreiben Franklin C. Miller, Leiter der Beratungsagentur Scowcroft Group und Keith B. Payne, Präsident und Mitbegründer des National Institutes for Public Policy. "There is no doubt that the US nuclear deterrent has prevented war and the escalation of war in the past. For example, there is considerable evidence from the 1991 First Gulf War that the US nuclear deterrent helped to prevent Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein from escalating to the use of Iraqi chemical or biological weapons of mass destruction—possibly saving tens of thousands of US and allied lives. A US pledge of no-first-use now would encourage current and future opponents to believe that they need not fear the US nuclear deterrent in response to their potential massive use of military force against us or our allies—including the use of advanced conventional weapons, and chemical and biological weapons."

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"What does 'nuclear terrorism' really mean?"

Elisabeth Eaves vom Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists erklärt, was man unter dem bedrohlichen Szenario eines "nuklearen Terroranschlags" verstehen sollte. Am wahrscheinlichsten sei ein Anschlag mit einer "schmutzigen Bombe". Auch die Sabotage atomarer Anlagen werde von Experten in Betracht gezogen. Die Detonation einer Atombombe in einer Stadt sei dagegen höchst unwahrscheinlich. "While there are about 10,000 nuclear warheads in the world, most are heavily guarded and don’t lie around fully assembled. To steal one would require the cooperation of more than just one corrupt or coerced person. (...) As for building an atomic weapon, it’s unlikely that terrorists could make anything as sophisticated as the warheads owned by governments, but making a crude nuclear bomb — an improvised nuclear device, or IND — is 'potentially within the capabilities of a technically sophisticated terrorist group,' according to the Belfer Center report. However, in addition to equipment and know-how, the atom-bomb-seeking terrorist would need — the largest obstacle — some quantity of either plutonium or highly enriched uranium (HEU). Highly enriched uranium is present in fewer than 25 countries, according to a new report from the Nuclear Threat Initiative."

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"Europe won't bow to an anti-Iran-deal US Congress"

Ellie Geranmayeh vermutet, dass Europa den USA im Fall einer Ablehnung des Atomabkommens mit dem Iran im US-Kongress nicht folgen würde. "If the US Congress spoils the Iran deal, a difficult debate will take place among Europeans as to their options. Europe could succumb to economic pressure, align itself with Congress and renege on the deal. But at a time when European relations with Tehran have warmed, and in a situation where Congress has obstructed the deal without giving it a chance to succeed, Europeans are likely to sympathize with Iran and forcefully stand against the US legislature."

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"Why NATO should eliminate its tactical nukes, despite Russian belligerence"

Hans M. Kristensen und Adam Mount hoffen, dass sich die NATO-Staaten trotz der Ukraine-Krise entschließen, den Abbau der amerikanischen Atomwaffenarsenale innerhalb Europas voranzutreiben. Vom Argument der angeblich notwendigen Abschreckung Russlands durch die taktischen Atomwaffen sind sie nicht überzeugt. "(...) the evidence suggests the opposite: US tactical nuclear weapons detract from more useful defense initiatives, as is shown in several ways. First, there is no evidence that these weapons have had any effect on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s transgressions in Ukraine, Georgia, or the Baltic States. Russia took each of these aggressive actions, despite the presence of tactical nuclear bombs elsewhere in Europe. Nor have those bombs reassured eastern European NATO allies about US commitments to defend them. The newer NATO members closest to Russia are more concerned than ever and look to the West's non-nuclear forces instead for support. The reason tactical nuclear weapons are irrelevant in these cases is simple: The threat to NATO territory is not nearly severe enough for nuclear weapons to play a role."

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