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April 12th, 2010
12:17 PM ET

Nuclear terrorism is most urgent threat

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/02/11/us.iran.nuclear/story.iran.natanz.gi.jpg caption="The Natanz facility in Iran, where highly enriched uranium is being developed."]

Valerie Plame Wilson
Special to CNN

The story of how I became a national figure in the media is widely known, but few people know what I actually did for the CIA.

I was a covert operations officer specializing in nuclear counter proliferation - essentially, making sure the bad guys didn't get the bomb.

My job was to create and run operations that sought to peer into the procurement networks and acquisition chains of rogue nations. It was intense, tactical, creative and demanding. I believed that there was no more important work to be done.

I resigned from the CIA in 2006 because it was no longer possible to do the covert work for which I was highly trained and which I loved. This happened because in 2003, my covert identity was revealed in retaliation against my husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson, who wrote an op-ed piece in which he accused the White House of distorting the intelligence that was used to draw us into the Iraq war.

But I did not lose my belief that the danger of nuclear terrorism was the most urgent threat we face. Nor did I lose my passion for working, albeit in a new way, to address that threat. I am working on this issue now as part of the international Global Zero movement, in which political, military and faith leaders, experts and activists strive for the worldwide elimination of all nuclear weapons.

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Filed under: Nuclear Weapons • Technology • Terrorism
April 12th, 2010
11:51 AM ET

Obama's nuclear strategy: What's different?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/09/art.obama.0408.gi.jpg caption="President Barack Obama hosts leaders from 46 countries for a two-day nuclear security summit starting"]Eben Harrell
TIME

It is 72 pages long and filled with arcane deterrence language, but there's arguably no more important document in the world right now than the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) that President Obama released on Tuesday. After all, the text spells out how many nuclear weapons the U.S. will continue to deploy around the world and the conditions under which it would be prepared to use those weapons — no small thing considering that its arsenal is big enough to threaten the survival of the species. Here are five ways in which Obama has shifted — or not shifted — U.S. nuclear policy from the George W. Bush years.

1. It's still MAD
In a historic speech in Prague last April, Obama pledged to "end Cold War thinking." Yet the U.S. still has a cache of land- and sea-based missiles and long-range bombers. The reason? The idea of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) is still central to America's nuclear standoff with Russia. With thousands of weapons ready to launch at a moment's notice and with both sides retaining the option to "launch on warning" of an incoming attack, Obama said during the presidential campaign that the U.S. was unnecessarily exposing itself to accidental nuclear war, in the event of faulty radar alerts or computer glitches. (Long-range missiles do not have a self-destruct button and cannot be rerouted mid-flight.) While it is highly unlikely that the U.S. and Russia would ever intentionally engage in nuclear war, the NPR does nothing to carry out Obama's pledge to lessen the chance of accidental nuclear war by taking U.S. missiles off hair-trigger alert.

2. The U.S. won't start a nuclear war (against friendly nations at least)

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April 9th, 2010
11:34 AM ET

Analysis: After new START, what's next?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/04/08/start.what.next/story.obamanuke.gi.jpg caption="President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a landmark nuclear arms treaty Thursday." width=300 height=169]

Pam Benson
National Security Producer

Whittling down the massive American and Russian nuclear arsenals has been an arduous task. Under the terms of the new START treaty, each side can still possess 1,550 nuclear warheads. By anyone's measure, that is a lot of nukes. There is little doubt those numbers enable both countries to respond to any dire threat.

But as President Obama pursues his dream of zero nuclear weapons worldwide, is there a point where further reductions create serious problems for the nuclear powers?

For the Russians, the warheads have a powerful symbolic value. For the United States, more cuts could have a direct effect on current levels of global protection.

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Filed under: Nuclear Weapons • Russia
April 8th, 2010
12:13 PM ET

Obama's nuclear posture: Right for these times

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/01/t1.obama.0224.jpg caption="Perkovich: Obama's new nuclear policy shows he's serious about leading on nonproliferation." width=300 height=169]

George Perkovich
Special to CNN

America's new nuclear weapons posture, released yesterday by the Obama administration, gives much-needed momentum to the nuclear agenda President Obama set out in Prague last year.

It is in the longterm interest of the United States to move towards a world free of nuclear weapons, the only things that can immediately threaten the very existence of the country.

The new Nuclear Policy Review better reflects the realities of the world than previous ones and will help guide U.S. policy for the next five years. It also extends a process that started under the Bush administration –President George W. Bush also sought to reduce the role of nuclear weapons, though he didn't get credit for it.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Nuclear Weapons
April 8th, 2010
12:09 PM ET

Nuclear terrorism is most urgent threat

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.a.cnn.net/cnn/2007/POLITICS/03/16/cia.leak/story.plame2.gi.jpg caption="Plame says nations need to reduce nuclear arsenals and tightly control materials."]

Valerie Plame Wilson
Special to CNN

The story of how I became a national figure in the media is widely known, but few people know what I actually did for the CIA.

I was a covert operations officer specializing in nuclear counter proliferation - essentially, making sure the bad guys didn't get the bomb.

My job was to create and run operations that sought to peer into the procurement networks and acquisition chains of rogue nations. It was intense, tactical, creative and demanding. I believed that there was no more important work to be done.

I resigned from the CIA in 2006 because it was no longer possible to do the covert work for which I was highly trained and which I loved. This happened because in 2003, my covert identity was revealed in retaliation against my husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson, who wrote an op-ed piece in which he accused the White House of distorting the intelligence that was used to draw us into the Iraq war.

Keep reading...


Filed under: Nuclear Weapons
April 8th, 2010
11:38 AM ET

It's folly not to update nuclear arsenal

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/05/t1.art.obama.jpg caption="William Tobey: In reality, Obama's new nuclear arms strategy not very new or different." width=300 height=169]

William Tobey
Special to CNN

Presidents are extremely reluctant to limit their freedom to act before circumstances force them to make choices. "I'm not going to answer hypothetical questions" is often heard from the presidential podium.

Why then would President Obama seemingly limit his own options to defend American security by accepting limits on employment of U.S. forces in his newly released Nuclear Posture Review? The answer is he has not, because, in reality, not much has changed.

But one area where the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review might have a meaningful effect - and a deleterious one - is in improving the safety, security, and reliability of our nuclear stockpile. The new policy states flatly, "The United States will not develop new nuclear warheads." It anticipates programs to extend the life of existing warheads, but that work will not include new designs.

Keep reading...


Filed under: Barack Obama • Nuclear Weapons
April 7th, 2010
03:33 PM ET

The "true" inside story of why Barack banned the bomb

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/03/31/obama.energy/smlvid.jpg width=300 height=169]

David Gewirtz | BIO
AC360° Contributor
Director, U.S. Strategic Perspective Institute

Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the past few days, you know that President Obama has disclosed his plans to sharply curtail the rules of engagement for nuclear weapons.

What you may not know is the "true" story of why. That true story (with a few editorial liberties, of course) is detailed in the following timeline of the events. I know this isn’t April Fools, but this is still just for fun (sometimes the fun stories don’t occur right on April 1).

Near midnight, March 11, Israel snubs Biden

Joe Biden has just returned from Israel, a brutal 12-hour flight. Biden had been expecting to spend his flight time playing with an early release of the iPad, but Apple reneged at the last minute, so the VP had to content himself with playing Scribblenauts on his Nintendo DS.

Biden was even more cranky because Israel had effectively snubbed his diplomatic efforts, announcing a plan to build 1,600 more homes in East Jerusalem, despite Biden's desire to broker a peace.

FULL POST

April 7th, 2010
03:00 PM ET

It's folly not to update nuclear arsenal

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/04/28/obama.candidate.president/art.obama.cnn.jpg caption="Obama limiting his own options, says Tobey."]

William Tobey
Special to CNN

Presidents are extremely reluctant to limit their freedom to act before circumstances force them to make choices. "I'm not going to answer hypothetical questions" is often heard from the presidential podium.

Why then would President Obama seemingly limit his own options to defend American security by accepting limits on employment of U.S. forces in his newly released Nuclear Posture Review? The answer is he has not, because, in reality, not much has changed.

But one area where the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review might have a meaningful effect - and a deleterious one - is in improving the safety, security, and reliability of our nuclear stockpile. The new policy states flatly, "The United States will not develop new nuclear warheads." It anticipates programs to extend the life of existing warheads, but that work will not include new designs.

Keep Reading...

February 19th, 2010
03:10 PM ET

Contain Iran, don't attack it

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/WORLD/meast/02/19/iran.nuclear/story.iran.reactor.afp.gi.jpg caption="Draft report from U.N. watchdog agency says Iran could secretly be working on a nuclear bomb." width=300 height=169]

Fareed Zakaria | BIO
CNN Anchor, “Fareed Zakaria – GPS”

A new report saying that Iran could be secretly working on a nuclear weapon is a major development, but not one that should lead the U.S. to consider a military strike against the Tehran regime, according to analyst Fareed Zakaria.

The draft report, obtained by CNN and not yet approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency's board of governors, is the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency's strongest warning yet that Iran could be aiming to build a nuclear bomb.

Zakaria told CNN the report should spur U.S. diplomacy to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons but that talk by commentators outside the U.S. government of a potential military strike against Iran was wrongheaded. "To be casually talking about military action because we're getting frustrated seems to me somewhat dangerous," he said.

Keep reading...


Filed under: Fareed Zakaria • Iran • Nuclear Weapons
February 19th, 2010
08:08 AM ET

Video: Iran's nuclear ambitions

Anderson Cooper | BIO
AC360° Anchor


Filed under: Anderson Cooper • Fareed Zakaria • Iran • Nuclear Weapons
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