Nuclear Weapons

The Bomb and the Hedgehog

Despite the often invoked ending of the Cold War, Russia’s defence policy is still focused on nuclear deterrence, and particularly the nuclear balance with the United States.  Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov recently announced that Russia will continue to increase its potential in airspace forces and other parts of its nuclear deterrence strategy.

The Defense Ministry worked on building the early-warning radars along Russia’s borders as well as permanent deployment of S-400 and S-500 anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems.

"We have a possibility to efficiently counter a high-technological enemy should it undertake aggression against Russia," Gerasimov said.

Writing in Pravda, a defence correspondent noted that

according to Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Wesley Miller, U.S. nuclear weapons are in need of urgent modernization. Defense structures experienced global reduction that affected nuclear armed forces of the United States. The Americans are also concerned about Russia’s efforts to increase the readiness of its nuclear forces.

Russia’s conventional armed forces are still in a state of relative disarray, and are currently no match for their U.S. counterparts:

During a conference in Moscow last week, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said that an attack with the use of 3,500-4,000 units of high-precision weapons would deprive Russia of the possibility to resist in only six hours. "According to current estimates from the United States, as a result of such an attack, 80-90 percent of the Russian nuclear potential could be destroyed," said Deputy Prime Minister.

Commenting on Twitter, Carnegie Moscow Center director and defence analyst Dmitri Trenin points out that  while there is an absence of strategic trust between Russia and the United States, the enormous disparity in conventional military power between the two nations means that nuclear deterrence remains the only area in which Russia can maintain equivalence. For Russia, he notes, “this is a hedgehog posture”. 

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IAEA head says Iran hampering agency’s work

IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano has said that Iran is preventing nuclear inspectors from carrying out their work in the country, and has appointed a new top investigator, Herman Nackaerts, to replace Olli Heinonen, who resigned from the IAEA earlier this year. (Reuters)

Russia/Israel/Syria/Iran

  • Israel’s defence minister Ehud Barak went to Russia on Sunday in a bid to halt an arms deal between Russia, Syria and Iran.
  • On Monday Ehud Barak signed an arms deal between Israel and Russia.
  • On Monday the IAEA complained that Iran is preventing some of its inspectors from monitoring Iran’s nuclear program.
  • On Tuesday the head of Iran’s nuclear program claimed that Iran has the right to bar some UN inspectors.
  • According to IDF sources, NGOs are planning to sail up to 20 ships to Gaza in coming months.

(jpost.com)

Heinonen: Iran nuclear program is a threat

The Jerusalem Posquotes former UN chief of nuclear inspections Olli Heinonen as saying that Iran has enough low-enriched uranium to make two nuclear weapons, though “it would not be logical for it to cross the bomb-making threshold”:

Heinonen called Iran’s nuclear program a “threat” in a rare public interview, given shortly before he stepped down from his position as deputy director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Heinonen was head of the IAEA’s nuclear safeguards arm, which monitors countries’ nuclear programs to make sure they are intended for peaceful use. Heinonen left the post in August for personal reasons.

Iran and Russia in joint nuclear fuel proposal

According to AFP, Iran has proposed to Russia that the two countries should jointly produce fuel for the Bushehr reactor, and also for future nuclear plants.

“Moscow is studying this offer,” [Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s AEO] said [on Thursday]. “We (Iran) should show the world our capability in uranium production and transforming it to nuclear fuel.”