Archive for the ‘politics international’ Category

Analysis of the Iran nuclear deal

May 18, 2017

The Impact of the Iran Nuclear Agreement http://www.cfr.org/iran/impact-iran-nuclear-agreement/p39032
 Zachary Laub, Senior Copy Editor/Writer  April 11, 2017

Introduction

Iran has dismantled much of its nuclear program and given international inspectors extensive access to sensitive sites under an agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Under its terms, the United States, European Union, and United Nations have lifted sanctions that had crippled the Iranian economy, but more than year after the accord took effect, Iranians have yet to see the recovery that President Hassan Rouhani had promised. Meanwhile, as the Trump administration has vowed a more aggressive approach to Iran and the U.S. Congress considers levying new sanctions, international businesses, sensing uncertainty, have largely held back from investing in the country.

 What are the terms of the JCPOA?

The JCPOA, which was signed in July 2015 and went into effect the following January, imposes restrictions on Iran’s stockpiles of uranium and its ability to enrich it. The so-called P5+1—that is, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and United States) and Germany—negotiated the agreement with Iran over nearly two years. During this period, the Obama administration said its intent was to set back Iran’s nuclear program so that any decision to sprint toward producing fissile material for a weapon—an indicator known as “breakout times”—would take at least a year, up from just a few weeks.

Nuclear restrictions on Iran. To extend that breakout time, the agreement requires that uranium enrichment at Fordow and Natanz be restricted and a heavy-water reactor, at Arak, have its core rendered inoperable; its plutonium byproduct, the P5+1 countries feared, could have been reprocessed into weapons-grade material. These facilities are now being repurposed for research, industrial, or medical purposes, and subjected to inspections by monitors from the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The accord imposes limits on the numbers and types of centrifuges Iran can operate, as well as the size of its caches of enriched uranium. (Mined uranium has less than 1 percent of the uranium-235 isotope, and centrifuges increase that isotope’s concentration. Uranium enriched to 5 percent is used in nuclear power plants, and at 20 percent it can be used in research reactors or for medical purposes. High-enriched uranium, at some 90 percent, is used in nuclear weapons.) The JCPOA also aims to guard against the possibility that Iran could develop nuclear arms in secret at undeclared sites.

Many of the JCPOA’s nuclear provisions have expiration dates. After ten years, for example, centrifuge restrictions will be lifted, and after fifteen years, so too will limits on the low-enriched uranium it can possess, as well as the IAEA’s access to undeclared sites.

Monitoring and verification. Among the open-ended provisions, Iran is bound to implement and later ratify an “additional protocol” to its safeguards agreement with the IAEA, which gives IAEA inspectors unprecedented access to Iran’s nuclear facilities. (As a signatory to the Nonproliferation Treaty, or NPT, Iran has committed to never pursue nuclear weapons, but it is entitled to pursue nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.) The agency’s director-general issues quarterly reports to the IAEA Board of Governors and UN Security Council verifying Iran’s implementation of its nuclear commitments.

The JCPOA established the Joint Commission, with the negotiating parties all represented, to monitor implementation of the agreement. That body, chaired by Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief, is charged with dispute resolution, and a majority vote of its members can gain IAEA inspectors access to undeclared sites they consider suspect. It also oversees the transfer of nuclear-related or dual-use materials.

Sanctions relief. In exchange for these limitations on its nuclear program and opening up access to international inspectors, the EU, UN, and United States all committed to lifting sanctions that they had imposed on Iran for its nuclear program. While the United States has only suspended extant nuclear sanctions, it pledged in the JCPOA to remove specified entities from sanctions lists and seek legislation to repeal the suspended sanctions within eight years, as long as the IAEA concludes that Iran’s nuclear activities remain peaceful in nature.

Still, other U.S. sanctions [PDF], some dating back to the hostage crisis in 1979, remain in effect. They cover matters such as ballistic missile production, support for U.S.-designated terrorist groups, and domestic human rights abuses. The United States has stopped enforcing its sanctions on oil exports, freeing Iran to trade on international markets again, but restrictions on financial transactions remain in place. Many banks and other companies, including foreign subsidiaries of U.S. businesses, are wary of doing business in Iran for fear of incurring fines or being barred from dealing on Wall Street. A major exception to U.S. primary sanctions allows Boeing to sell aircraft to Iranian airlines.

New Security Council resolutions are periodically needed to keep UN sanctions suspended, so, by alleging a major violation, any one of the P5 members can veto a new resolution. This “snapback” mechanism is set to remain in effect for ten years, after which point the UN sanctions are set to be repealed.

Has Iran upheld its obligations?

Implementation Day, on which sanctions were lifted, came once the IAEA certified that Iran had met preliminary requirements, including taking thousands of centrifuges offline, rendering the core of the Arak heavy-water reactor inoperable, and selling excess low-enriched uranium to Russia. Since then, the IAEA has mostly found Iran in compliance with the JCPOA’s requirements. Iran twice exceeded the amount of heavy water that it is allowed under the agreement, the IAEA reported, but quickly resolved it.

“Monitoring is a physical act, but verification is a political act.” —Christopher Bidwell, Federation of American Scientists

The challenge inspectors face is that they are “looking to prove the negative,” says Christopher Bidwell, a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists. “IAEA reports talk about where Iran is compliant, but then are silent on known rough issues,” he says, highlighting military sites, for which inspectors must seek access from Iranian authorities or adjudication by the Joint Commission. Also omitted from the public record, the International Crisis Group notes, are reports on Iran’s caches of low-enriched uranium and research on centrifuges. “Monitoring is a physical act, but verification is a political act,” Bidwell says. “How sure are you that what you’ve monitored has told you what you want to know?”

Have the P5+1 countries upheld their obligations?

The United Nations, European Union, and United States all repealed or suspended the sanctions that the JCPOA specified be lifted on Implementation Day, and since then the United States has also unfrozen or delivered to Iran certain seized funds. (Liquid assets freed up in European and Asian banks might have totaled some $50 billion, according to a U.S. Treasury official; in addition, the United States refunded $1.7 billion delivered for an arms deal that was signed before the 1979 revolution but never fulfilled.) Most significantly, the United States is no longer enforcing secondary sanctions on Iran’s oil sector, which has allowed Iran to ramp up its oil exports to nearly the level it had been prior to sanctions. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated in October [PDF] that Iran’s GDP was growing at 4.5 percent in 2016 as it boosted its oil production to 3.6 million barrels per day.

How is Iran’s economy performing?

Iranians have not seen as robust an economic recovery as many had expected to follow the JCPOA’s implementation. A morass of U.S. sanctions unrelated to the nuclear program has discouraged major international banks from investing in the country and made many companies wary of expanding into Iran. They fear being held liable for transacting with the numerous sanctioned entities associated with, for example, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which is ubiquitous in some industries. Uncertainty over whether the nuclear sanctions might be restored persists.

But factors unrelated to sanctions are also hampering the recovery. Corruption, mismanagement, and aging infrastructure are widely acknowledged barriers to industry, and, at about $50 a barrel as of April 2017, oil is trading at less than half the price it was five years earlier, so the revenues to be made from export don’t go as far. The IMF projected that Iran’s growth would “taper sharply” [PDF] in 2017 as it would have trouble surpassing its pre-sanctions level of oil production, and in March 2017 Iran said it would limit its oil production to 3.8 million barrels per day if OPEC members’ agreement to cap their production—a bid to raise oil prices—holds.

With the economy underperforming compared to what Rouhani had promised, some Iranian politicians have accused the United States of dealing in bad faith. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has expressed ambivalence about the JCPOA, criticized the faltering recovery. But so too has Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who negotiated the agreement. He said at CFR in September 2016, “it takes a lot to change the global climate that is afraid of the United States taking action against any bank that does any business with Iran.” Referring to U.S. Treasury regulations, he added, “there is one sentence that it’s OK to do business with Iran and about five pages of ifs and buts,” discouraging banks from entering the market.

Do U.S. politics jeopardize the JCPOA?

On the campaign trail, Trump pledged to dismantle or renegotiate the nuclear agreement, echoing the criticisms made by some members of Congress as the agreement was being finalized. Many objected to sanctions relief on the grounds that it would enrich Iran and allow it to expand its influence in regional conflicts like the Syrian civil war. Critics also said that monitoring provisions in the JCPOA offered no guarantee that Iran could not covertly develop a nuclear weapon.

Trump could reimpose waived sanctions or add new ones by presidential prerogative, enact statutory sanctions passed by Congress, or allow the presidential waivers of nuclear sanctions to lapse when they come due for renewal. Any of those measures could be perceived by either Iran or other members of the P5+1 as the United States reneging on its commitments.

After Iran tested ballistic missiles in late January 2017, the administration extended sanctions to twenty-five individuals and entities associated with either the missile program or the IRGC’s expeditionary Quds Force. (Though ballistic missiles could be used to deliver nuclear weapons, they are beyond the scope of the JCPOA; the UN Security Council resolution that codified the JCPOA contains only nonbinding language on the matter.) “It wasn’t a drastic departure from previous policy, including from the Obama administration,” says Ariane M. Tabatabai, a visiting assistant professor at Georgetown’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.

A bill cosponsored by the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee could prevent the president from fulfilling the U.S. obligation to delist certain entities within eight years of implementation; it could also be construed as impeding the benefits Iran can accrue from sanctions relief. That would “threaten the ongoing implementation of the nuclear deal,” says the Arms Control Association, an independent Washington-based nonproliferation group.

Do Iranian politics jeopardize the JCPOA?

The JCPOA is contentious in Iran as well. Rouhani is running for reelection on May 19, and “the main thing he’s being judged on by the electorate is the economic recovery,” Tabatabai says.

“The Rouhani government oversold its ability to generate economic recovery following the sanctions relief,” she says, “and so now it is dialing back expectations of what is realistic.” The government is now arguing that the recovery will take more time, and that its lag cannot be attributed to sanctions alone.

Hard-liners in Iran argue that the United States is angling to keep the Iranian economy depressed and that Rouhani was hoodwinked into unfavorable terms, a view they say is bolstered by extreme rhetoric from some members of the Trump administration and Congress. They argue that Iran has “redesigned its nuclear facilities while the sanctions have only been suspended,” and so the United States can reinstate sanctions with relative ease even as the Iranian nuclear program has been permanently set back, says Mohammad Ayatollahi Tabaar, an assistant professor at Texas A&M University’s Bush School of Government and Public Service

While some U.S. lawmakers continue to criticize the JCPOA, the other members of the P5+1 are firmly behind it. Many close watchers of the accord say that if the United States were to reinstate sanctions without presenting clear evidence of Iranian cheating, its negotiating partners would be unlikely to follow suit and resurrect the global regime that drove Iran to the negotiating table. “Iran’s goal is to create a gap between the U.S. and EU,” says Tabaar, so Iran likely won’t renege on its nuclear commitments. Instead, he says, hard-liners might push back against the United States in areas beyond the scope of the JCPOA, such as testing ballistic missiles or boosting its support for its clients in Iraq, Syria, or Yemen.

More on this topic from CFR

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The legal barriers to Australia importing nuclear wastes

November 21, 2016

Nuclear waste debate re-emerges in Australia. Moulis Legal 17.11.16

“…….A long history of talk but with little “legal” support

South Australia’s proposal to encourage the world to export its high-level nuclear waste to Australia is in stark contrast to the previous positions of both the Federal and South Australian Governments. Moreover, significant reform to State laws and to existing Federal practice would be required to facilitate the proposal, none of which has been formulated.

In 1998, the responsible Federal Minister condemned a recommendation by nuclear waste management consortium Pangea Resources for a repository for international high-level nuclear waste in the Western Australian outback. He reiterated Australia’s long-standing bipartisan opposition to such a development:

…no high level radioactive waste facility is planned for Australia and the government has absolutely no intention of accepting the radioactive waste of other countries. The policy is clear and absolute and will not be changed. We will not be accepting radioactive waste from other countries.1

After only cursory consideration of the repository idea in 1998, Western Australia actually went the other way, passing a law to make it illegal to establish a nuclear waste storage facility in the State, or to use any part of the State to store or dispose of nuclear waste, or to even transport nuclear waste in the State.2

Other Australian states – New South Wales;3 Queensland;4 Victoria;5 and South Australia6 – have enacted similar legislation either completely prohibiting a nuclear waste facility in their jurisdiction or making it necessary to seek certain approvals to build one. These legislative constraints would first need to be addressed before any facility were to be capable of being built in any of those States.

At a Federal level, a nuclear waste facility is not prohibited, however the statute responsible for creating the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (“ARPANSA”) also places a blanket ban the construction of nuclear fuel fabrication plants, power plants, enrichment plants and reprocessing facilities.

ARPANSA can permit imports of radioactive waste

Despite the above State prohibitions on the building of nuclear waste facilities and on the transportation of nuclear waste, no absolute prohibition applies to the importation of radioactive waste into Australia. Regulation 4R of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 (“the Regulations”) stipulates that radioactive substances can be imported into Australia, but only if permission has been granted by the Customs Minister or an authorised officer, such as the CEO of ARPANSA.7

ARPANSA administers Australia’s rights and obligations under a number of specific international treaties, with the most relevant to radioactive waste disposal and storage being the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (“IAEA”) Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management(“the Joint Convention”) which was ratified by Australia in 2003.

The discretion under regulation 4R of the Regulations to approve radioactive imports has rarely been afforded with respect to radioactive waste and never on a premise of the commercial disposal of international nuclear waste. ARPANSA officials readily advise interested parties that “current Commonwealth Government policy prohibits importation of spent nuclear fuel or radioactive waste of foreign origin into Australia”.

The international framework

The Joint Convention enforces a commitment to achieving and maintaining a consistently high-level of safety in the management, transboundary movement and disposal of spent fuel and radioactive waste. The Joint Convention notes:

… radioactive waste should, as far as is compatible with the safety of the management of such material, be disposed of in the State in which it was generated, whilst recognizing that, in certain circumstances, safe and efficient management of spent fuel and radioactive waste might be fostered through agreements among [the] Parties to use facilities in one of them for the benefit of the other Parties, particularly where waste originates from joint projects8

These principles are also recognised in the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, to which Australia is also a party.9 The Joint Convention also recognises that any state has the right to ban import into its territory of foreign spent fuel and radioactive waste.10

Additionally, just as Australia exports unspent nuclear material, being uranium, to foreign countries under safeguards, countries like Canada do too. Those safeguards are essentially accounting and inspection procedures designed to ensure that neither the uranium nor any by-product of it (such as plutonium) could be used to contribute to the construction of a weapon. Bodies such as the IAEA and the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (an office within the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) track exported nuclear material through its whole lifecycle, all the way through to the spent fuel and the reprocessing and/or the recycling of that fuel.

Any facility that were to accept international nuclear waste could also expect to be subject to scrutiny against the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (“NPT”). The overall quality and security of any nuclear waste disposal facility, as well the country that hosts it, need to satisfy extremely high domestic and international standards to be commercially – and politically – viable.

By virtue of both the Joint Convention and the NPT, Australia would need to establish treaties with overseas governments interested in disposing their nuclear waste in the facility, to specify the arrangements that would be put in place for the management of nuclear waste. Australia may also be obliged to seek evidence of “upstream” agreements in circumstances where the original nuclear product and/or the waste has moved between third party countries before its exportation to Australia…….. http://moulislegal.com/nuclear-waste-debate-re-emerges-in-australia/

Australia must rethink the way that it is a nuclear target, because of Pine Gap

November 21, 2016

when China looks at Australia, it will see Australia as an American base

“I think fundamentally we have to ask is that really the way we want to go. The signal we’re sending to Americans is that if they go to war with China, sure, we’ll be part of that.”

“It is embedding us in global military operations for which there is little strategic benefit for Australia.”

We are told mass surveillance makes us safer and in our fear we accept growing militarisation….. these facilities most likely don’t protect us, but put us at greater risk….These are the questions we don’t discuss.

US military bases in Australia: Protecting us or putting us at risk? http://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/us-military-bases-in-australia-protecting-us-or-putting-us-at-risk/news-story/274681984ca0959242829f9da8fa338e    Emma Reynolds news.com.au @emmareyn OCTOBER 2, 2016 THE US is strengthening a network of secretive military bases across Australia that could be used for waging wars against our interests, it was claimed at a weekend summit.

We are providing the US with extra capacity to make that happen, says Prof Tanter.

PINE GAP — ‘THE POISONED HEART OF AUSTRALIA’

Pine Gap was established in Alice Springs in 1966 when the CIA came up with the idea of putting satellites 36,000 kilometres above the earth’s surface. These had giant antennae that could listen to very weak signals from Soviet missiles testing, allowing the agency to work out the capability of enemy weapons.

The spy base was placed in isolated Alice in the NT because at the time, the massive amount of data had to be collected over 130km of land.

Prof Tanter says Pine Gap rivals Uluru as the symbolic centre of Australia, with its strange, mysterious power.

“It’s the poisoned heart of Australia and it is increasingly having an effect on our defence policies and the way in which we conduct our foreign policy,” he says.

The establishment of Pine Gap heralded the start of the American early warning system, which involved powerful infra-red telescopes staring at the earth looking for the heat bloom of nuclear weapons. And it continues to grow in strength long after the Cold War, with the number of antennae growing from two or three in 1970 to 33 today.

It has also grown in capability — picking up satellite and mobile phone transmissions that are important for conducting war in Iraq and Afghanistan and monitoring people allegedly carrying out terrorist activities. It spots jet aircraft in the sky and explosions on the ground.

If a North Korean missile takes off, its trajectory can be rapidly beamed to the US, triggering a possible drone assassination. Prof Tanter says such behaviour makes Australia a target.

“Do we really want to be implicated in that?”

DARWIN — TROOPS ON THE GROUND
In 2011, President Barack Obama visited Darwin to announce US troops would begin making regular visits to the Northern Territory as part of the country’s “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific region.

The Gillard government agreed to the “permanent rotation of US marines and US air force aircraft”, meaning we have a constant flow of US soldiers on the ground in Australia. There are currently 1500, but this could rise to 2500.

It was this development that triggered the establishment of IPAN in 2012 as onlookers became alarmed at the move from “the invasion of nerd and computer freaks” to actual “troops in uniform with rifles”, Denis Doherty, national co-ordinator of the Australian Anti-Bases Campaign, told news.com.au.

Some of the world’s best fighters and bombers, and Osprey hybrid aircraft, now regularly fly into Darwin and nearby Shoal Bay Receiving Station and RAAF Tindal in Katherine, with huge ships coming down from a US base in Okinawa, Japan.

The purpose is officially for training, but IPAN delegates say Australia has also acquiesced to potential deployment.

A few thousand troops may sound like small beer but in conjunction with marines at US bases in Hawaii, Okinawa and Guam, it is a significant force.

OTHER BASES The Defence Satellite Communication Station at Geraldton in Western Australia, along with Kojarena 20km inland, was one of Australia’s spy bases. It is now shared with two large American operational military communication systems that pull down information on Indonesian and Chinese satellites from the sky. This is part of the Five Eyes surveillance system used in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Kojarena is creating “battlefield conditions”, says Mr Doherty, providing data a soldier in Iraq can use to ascertain what’s behind a hill — the visual, weather and so on — making it “an American war fighting base”.

Australia paid $800 million for one of the satellites used by this system. But if America does not approve of an operation the Australian Defence Force requests, for example in Timor, it can turn off our access, says Prof Tanter.

The US also has access to the Delamere Air Weapons range and the Bradshaw Ranges (which are the size of Cyprus) in the NT, and the multinational training facility of Shoalwater Bay in Rockhampton, which boasts a mock town complete with pub, mosque and church.

America trains its troops in Australia in all conditions — jungle, savannah, woodland and desert.

Mr Doherty believes there are effectively almost 50 joint bases from Broome in WA to Richmond in NSW, since the US can use all Australian bases in a poorly defined “emergency”, and regularly does. The government insists there are only two joint bases, Pine Gap and North West Cape, since troops rotate out of Darwin — a claim Prof Tanter slams as “specious”.

“If it was built by the United States, if it was paid for by the United States, and if it can only function as part of an American global technology, then it’s an American base to which Australia might have some access; greater or lesser access as time goes on.”

AUSTRALIA’S PROBLEM

So why is the US using our bases a problem? Well, we aren’t just passive bystanders.

“Australia is very, very deeply involved,” says Prof Tanter.

Aussies work in every division of Pine Gap. The Aboriginal woman who introduced Friday night’s public forum revealed her mother worked there as a cleaner in the 1960s and knew nothing about its purpose. Even the hotel where the conference takes place is a supplier for the base, providing catering and accommodation for staff.

“At least we’re not locked out the way we were before, but with that comes culpability,” says Prof Tanter.

“The government seems to lack the ability to ask the question, ‘When do Australian and American interests coincide, and when do they not?’”

He suggests nuclear war or unethical activity in countries where we are not at war might be examples of that. We could be implicated in human rights offences.

“It is embedding us in global military operations for which there is little strategic benefit for Australia.”

The agreement seems “asymmetrical” to the professor. We have spent 13 years in Afghanistan and lost 40 soldiers and seen 250 seriously wounded, he notes.

“We’re an island a long way from anywhere. The most important thing is to get over this psychology of dependence.”

We find ourselves integrated with other US bases across Asia-Pacific, with bombing information from Delamere weapons range fed back to Canberra, Hawaii and then Washington.

Prof Tanter warns that when China looks at Australia, it will see Australia as an American base

“I think fundamentally we have to ask is that really the way we want to go. The signal we’re sending to Americans is that if they go to war with China, sure, we’ll be part of that.”

A Defence White Paper released in March emphasised the paramount importance of the US and its role in “global security”, stressing Australia’s desire to maintain strong military ties to America and increased “interoperability” of the two countries’ systems. The paper asserts the US “will continue to be Australia’s most important strategic partner”.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam says the two main parties are strangely bipartisan when it comes to not criticising defence decisions.

“The Liberals don’t stand up and say, why has there been no discussion on Darwin.”

He believes our submission to US interests, particularly in the case of the Iraq invasion that ordinary Australians were against, “paved the way for IS”.

A Defence Department spokesman this week told news.com.au facilities like Pine Gap make an important contribution to national security.

He said it provides intelligence on priorities such as terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and foreign military capability and weapons developments. It also supports monitoring of compliance with arms control and disarmament agreements and provides ballistic missile early warning information.

We are told mass surveillance makes us safer and in our fear we accept growing militarisation — but the conference speakers contest that these facilities most likely don’t protect us, but put us at greater risk.

Where should the decision to deploy lie? Do we need to host these bases? Should they do all the things they do? These are the questions we don’t discuss.

President Reagan co-operated with Russia’s President Gorbachev to defuse the nuclear weapons race

September 13, 2016

An Urgent History Lesson in Diplomacy with Russia, CounterPunch,
12 Aug 16 by RENEE PARSONS
 As prospects for peace appear dim in places like the Ukraine, Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan and now with a renewed bombing of Libya, the President of the United States (and  his heiress apparent) continue to display an alarming lack of understanding of the responsibilities  as the nation’s highest elected officer.  As has been unsuccessfully litigated, Article II of the Constitution does not give the President right to start war; only Congress is granted that authority (See Article I, Section 8).

So for the nation’s Chief Executive Officer to willy-nilly arbitrarily decide to bomb here and bomb there and bomb everywhere in violation of the Constitution might be sufficient standard  for that CEO  to be regarded as a war criminal. Surely, consistently upping the stakes with a strong US/NATO military presence in the Baltics with the US Navy regularly cruising the Black and Baltic Seas, accompanied by a steady stream of confrontational language and picking a fight with a nuclear-armed Russia may not be the best way to achieve peace……
Reagan, who was ready to engage in extensive personal diplomacy, was an unlikely peacemaker yet he achieved an historic accomplishment in the nuclear arms race that is especially relevant today as NATO/US are reintroducing nuclear weapons into eastern Europe……

According to Jack Matlock  who served as Reagan’s senior policy coordinator for Russia and later US Ambassador to Russia in his book, “Reagan and Gorbachev:  How the Cold War Ended,” one of Reagan’s pre-meeting [with Russia’s Mikhail Gorbachev] notes to himself read “avoid any demand for regime change.”  From the beginning, one of Reagan’s goals was to establish a relationship that would be able to overcome whatever obstacles or conflicts may arise with the goal of preventing a thermonuclear war. … 

After a lengthy personal, private conversation, it became obvious that the two men had struck a cord of mutual respect…. At the conclusion of Geneva, a shared trust necessary to begin sober negotiations to ban nuclear weapons had been established. Both were well aware that the consequences of nuclear war would be a devastation to mankind, the world’s greatest environmental disaster.  At the end of their Geneva meeting, Reagan and Gorbachev agreed that “nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought.”……

In December of 1987, Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev arrived in Washington DC to sign the bilateral Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (including Short Range Missiles) known as the INF Treaty.  The Treaty eliminated 2,611 ground launched ballistic and cruise missile systems with a range of between 500 and 5500 kilometers (310 -3,400 miles).  Paris is 2,837 (1,762 miles) kilometers from Moscow.

In  May 1988, the INF Treaty was ratified by the US Senate in a surprising vote of 93 – 5 (four Republicans and one Democrat opposed) and by May, 1991, all Pershing I missiles in Europe  had been dismantled. Verification of Compliance of the INF Treaty, delayed because of the USSR breakup, was completed in December, 2001.

At an outdoor press briefing during their last meeting together and after the INF was implemented, Reagan put his arm around Gorbachev.  A reporter asked if he still believed in the ‘evil empire’ and Reagan answered ‘no.”   When asked why, he replied “I was talking about another time, another era.”……..

As the current US President and Nobel Peace Prize winner prepares to leave office with a record of a Tuesday morning kill list, unconscionable drone attacks on civilians, initiating bombing campaigns where there were none prior to his election and, of course, taunting Russian President Vladimir Putin with unsubstantiated allegations, the US-backed NATO has scheduled AEGIS anti ballistic missile shields to be constructed in Romania and Poland, challenging the integrity of INF Treaty for the first time in almost thirty years.

In what may shed new light on NATO/US build-up in eastern Europe, Russian Foreign Secretary Sergei Lavrov denied US charges in June, 2015 that Russia had violated the Treaty and that the US had “failed to provide evidence of Russian breaches.”  Commenting on US plans to deploy land-based missiles in Europe as a possible response to the alleged “Russian aggression” in the Ukraine, Lavrov warned that ‘‘building up militarist rhetoric is absolutely counterproductive and harmful.’  Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov suggested the United States was leveling accusations against Russia in order to justify its own military plans.

In early August, the US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration authorized the final development phase (prior to actual production in 2020) of the B61-21 nuclear bomb at a cost of $350 – $450 billion.  A thermonuclear weapon  with the capability of reaching Europe and Moscow, the B61-21 is part of President Obama’s $1 trillion request for modernizing the US aging and outdated nuclear weapon arsenal.

Isn’t it about time for the President to do something to earn that Peace Prize?  http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/12/an-urgent-history-lesson-in-diplomacy-with-russia/

How Britain provided North Korea with nuclear technology, helping them towards getting nuclear bombs

September 12, 2016

What Theresa May forgot: North Korea used British technology to build its nuclear bombs.Ecologist, David Lowry 26th July 2016 

When Theresa May proclaims in Parliament that we need the £200 billion Trident nuclear missile system to see off the North Korean nuclear threat, writes David Lowry, just bear this in mind. It is a threat that the UK, global nuclear proliferator in chief, created in the first place, providing both the reactor technology and vital centrifuge materials to make North Korea’s nuclear dream come true.

In the debate on Trident nuclear WMD renewal in Parliament last week, the new UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, in a peculiarly ill-informed speech – demonstrating her political career that has virtually no experience in security or defence affairs – made, inter alia, the following unsupported assertions:
  • ” … today the threats from countries such as Russia and North Korea remain very real.”
  • “North Korea has stated a clear intent to develop and deploy a nuclear weapon, and it continues to work towards that goal, in flagrant violation of a series of United Nations Security Council resolutions.”
  • “North Korea is the only country in the world to have tested nuclear weapons this century, carrying out its fourth test this year, as well as a space launch that used ballistic missile technology. It also claims to be attempting to develop a submarine-launch capability and to have withdrawn from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.”
  • “Based on the advice I have received, we believe that North Korea could already have enough fissile material to produce more than a dozen nuclear weapons. It also has a long-range ballistic missile, which it claims can reach America, and which is potentially intended for nuclear delivery.”

It reminded me of the similarly ill-informed former Prime Minister Tony Blair, in his speeches to MPs trying to win them over with dodgy ‘advice’ from British intelligence, to go to war by invading Iraq in 2003.

MPs have short memories, despite the Chicot Report on the Iraq invasion disaster not yet two weeks old, and 472 motley MP fools backed May and Trident replacement. As with the Iraq invasion, MPs will in future have to admit their regrets at being fooled. And again, they ignord the thousands of demonstrators outside, calling for Trident to be abandoned.

Britain’s nuclear proliferation ‘secret’

But May was right in one way. North Korea has developed nuclear weapons. But what she did not say was they did it with copied British bomb-making technology.

There is significant evidence that the British Magnox nuclear plant design – which was primarily built as a military plutonium production factory – provided the blueprint for the North Korean military plutonium programme based in Yongbyon. Here is what Douglas (now Lord) Hogg, then a Conservative minister, admitted in a written parliamentary reply in 1994 to Labour MP Llew Smith:

“We do not know whether North Korea has drawn on plans of British reactors in the production of its own reactors. North Korea possesses a graphite moderated reactor which, while much smaller, has generic similarities to the reactors operated by British Nuclear Fuels plc. However, design information of these British reactors is not classified and has appeared in technical journals.”

The uranium enrichment programmes of both North Korea and Iran also have a UK connection. The blueprints of this type of plant were stolen by Pakistani scientist, A Q Khan, from the URENCO enrichment plant in The Netherlands in the early 1970s.
(see David Albright, Peddling Peril, 2010 pp 15-28, Free Press, New York)

This plant was – and remains – one-third owned by the UK government. The Pakistan government subsequently sold the technology to Iran, who later exchanged it for North Korean Nodong missiles……….

Lessons of history

This sorry tale has several important lessons for us today. First – and this must never be forgotten – the UK’s early ‘atoms for peace’ nuclear power programme was specifically designed and intended to produce plutonium for nuclear bombs. And it was not just nuclear waste from Calder Hall that went for plutonium extraction at Windscale, but from other sites that were meant to be purely civilian such as Hinkley Point.

The UK is therefore guilty of ‘breaking the rules’ that are meant to separate civil and military nuclear activities, and its complaints of other states doing the same all carry the unmistakeable whiff of ripest humbug.

Second, for all its public position of seeking to restrain nuclear proliferation, the UK is actually one of the world’s most egregious nuclear proliferators: providing arch-nuclear enemy North Korea with both the Magnox technology it has used to produce plutonium for atom bombs; and the high strength aluminium it has used for its uranium centrifuges.

So when Theresa May stands up in Parliament and proclaims that we need the Trident nuclear missile system to see off the North Korean nuclear threat, remember: it is a threat that the UK created in the first place, providing both the nuclear reactor technology and the centrifuge materials to make it happen.

And when the UK cites the nuclear threat from North Korea as a reason to spend an estimated £200 billion on the next generation of Trident, we can be sure that North Korea and other countries aspiring to their own nuclear weapons are applying precisely the same logic to the British nuclear threat.

And that considering the UK’s history of aggressive regime-changing interventions in Iraq and Libya, the hundreds of (up to 225) nuclear warheads in its possession, and its ability to target them accurately anywhere in the world, North Korea’s fears are probably a great deal better founded than Mrs May’s. http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2987935/what_theresa_may_forgot_north_korea_used_british_technology_to_build_its_nuclear_bombs.html

Humungous amount of nuclear waste targeted for importing to Australia

June 12, 2016

Nuclear Waste Brief by David Noonan, Independent Environment Campaigner.  3 June 16   An un-declared Australia port is targeted to receive a globally unprecedented scale of high level nuclear waste transport and shipping, facing some 100 000 tonnes of SNF waste over a circa 33 year period of proposed peak Nuclear port operations from project Year 11 to Year 45 (Jacobs MCM, Executive Summary, Figure 3 Timeline of spent fuel transfers, p.5).

This is some 25 per cent higher than the global total of 80 000 tonnes of SNF waste shipped around the world in a 45 year period since 1971 according to the World Nuclear Association report “Transport of Radioactive Materials(Sept 2015) and the Jacobs MCM consultancy (p.152).

A total of 30 000 tonnes of high level nuclear wastes were shipped to the UK Sellafield reprocessing facility and a total of 40 000 tonnes was shipped to the French La Hague reprocessing facility, by far the world’s largest nuclear ports, in the 45 year period since 1971 (WNA report).

An undeclared Australian port is targeted to take over three times the total tonnage of high level nuclear waste shipped to Sellafield and two and a half times the total tonnage shipped to La Hague.

Some 400 waste ships of high level nuclear waste, totalling 90 000 tonnes SNF waste and requiring 9 000 transport casks, are to be brought into Australia in a 30 year period of peak port operations.

In a comparable 30 year period, there were some 160 high level nuclear waste shipments from Japan to Europe from 1969 to late 1990’s, totalling 7 040 tonnes SNF waste and involving some 4 000 nuclear waste transport casks (WNA report).

Sweden has shipped over 4 500 tonnes SNF waste around the Swedish coast to their CLAB central interim storage facility by mid-2015 (WNA report). Australia is proposed to do so every 18 months.

Questions on the location of a Nuclear port and on the safety of waste shipments:

The SA State government must publicly explain the basis for the farcical claim made by Jacobs MCM (Introduction p.11) of “an abundance of locations” suitable for deep sea Nuclear port sites in SA.

Is a new deep sea Nuclear port and high level SNF waste storage site to be imposed in the coastal region south of Whyalla? Or as reported in The Australian “World’s nuke waste may pass through NT, SA(12 May 2016): Is the Port of Darwin also in the Nuclear target range?

The Final Report Concludes: “…if a cask was lost at sea and was irrecoverable, there is a potential for some members of the public consuming locally sourced seafood to receive a very small dose of radiation”; and Concludes that terrorist attack scenarios are conceivable and rocket attack has the greatest potential to cause a release of radiation (Appendix L – Transport risk analysis p.312).

A further Jacobs MCM desk top Concludes that radioactivity that escapes from an unrecovered and degrading cask is expected “to be diluted in thousands of cubic kilometres of seawater” (“Safety and risks in the transportation of radioactive material to and from Australia”, April 2016, p.50). see http://www.nodumpalliance.org.au/

Global danger of nuclear arms race between India and Pakistan

June 11, 2016

Nuclear Winter on a Planetary Scale: The Biggest Threat to Mankind Virtually No One Is Talking About,ALTERNET, By Dilip Hiro / TomDispatch April 8, 2016  A war between India and Pakistan could produce human suffering the likes of which the world has never seen before…….

Alarmingly, the nuclear competition between India and Pakistan has now entered a spine-chilling phase. That danger stems from Islamabad’s decision to deploy low-yield tactical nuclear arms at its forward operating military bases along its entire frontier with India to deter possible aggression by tank-led invading forces. Most ominously, the decision to fire such a nuclear-armed missile with a range of 35 to 60 miles is to rest with local commanders. This is a perilous departure from the universal practice of investing such authority in the highest official of the nation. Such a situation has no parallel in the Washington-Moscow nuclear arms race of the Cold War era.

When it comes to Pakistan’s strategic nuclear weapons, their parts are stored in different locations to be assembled only upon an order from the country’s leader. By contrast, tactical nukes are pre-assembled at a nuclear facility and shipped to a forward base for instant use. In addition to the perils inherent in this policy, such weapons would be vulnerable to misuse by a rogue base commander or theft by one of the many militant groups in the country.

In the nuclear standoff between the two neighbors, the stakes are constantly rising as Aizaz Chaudhry, the highest bureaucrat in Pakistan’s foreign ministry, recently made clear. The deployment of tactical nukes, he explained, was meant to act as a form of “deterrence,” given India’s “Cold Start” military doctrine — a reputed contingency plan aimed at punishing Pakistan in a major way for any unacceptable provocations like a mass-casualty terrorist strike against India.

New Delhi refuses to acknowledge the existence of Cold Start. Its denials are hollow. As early as 2004, it was discussing this doctrine, which involved the formation of eight division-size Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs).  These were to consist of infantry, artillery, armor, and air support, and each would be able to operate independently on the battlefield. In the case of major terrorist attacks by any Pakistan-based group, these IBGs would evidently respond by rapidly penetrating Pakistani territory at unexpected points along the border and advancing no more than 30 miles inland, disrupting military command and control networks while endeavoring to stay away from locations likely to trigger nuclear retaliation. In other words, India has long been planning to respond to major terror attacks with a swift and devastating conventional military action that would inflict only limited damage and so — in a best-case scenario — deny Pakistan justification for a nuclear response.

Islamabad, in turn, has been planning ways to deter the Indians from implementing a Cold-Start-style blitzkrieg on their territory. After much internal debate, its top officials opted for tactical nukes. In 2011, the Pakistanis tested one successfully. Since then, according to Rajesh Rajagopalan, the New Delhi-based co-author of Nuclear South Asia: Keywords and Concepts, Pakistan seems to have been assembling four to five of these annually.

All of this has been happening in the context of populations that view each other unfavorably. ……….

India’s Two Secret Nuclear Sites

On the nuclear front in India, there was more to come. Last December, an investigation by the Washington-based Center for Public Integrity revealed that the Indian government was investing $100 million to build a top secret nuclear city spread over 13 square miles near the village of Challakere, 160 miles north of the southern city of Mysore. When completed, possibly as early as 2017, it will be “the subcontinent’s largest military-run complex of nuclear centrifuges, atomic-research laboratories, and weapons- and aircraft-testing facilities.” Among the project’s aims is to expand the government’s nuclear research, to produce fuel for the country’s nuclear reactors, and to help power its expanding fleet of nuclear submarines. It will be protected by a ring of garrisons, making the site a virtual military facility.

Another secret project, the Indian Rare Materials Plant, near Mysore is already in operation. It is a new nuclear enrichment complex that is feeding the country’s nuclear weapons programs, while laying the foundation for an ambitious project to create an arsenal of hydrogen (thermonuclear) bombs.

The overarching aim of these projects is to give India an extra stockpile of enriched uranium fuel that could be used in such future bombs. As a military site, the project at Challakere will not be open to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency or by Washington, since India’s 2008 nuclear agreement with the U.S. excludes access to military-related facilities. These enterprises are directed by the office of the prime minister, who is charged with overseeing all atomic energy projects. India’s Atomic Energy Act and its Official Secrets Act place everything connected to the country’s nuclear program under wraps. In the past, those who tried to obtain a fuller picture of the Indian arsenal and the facilities that feed it have been bludgeoned to silence.

Little wonder then that a senior White House official was recently quoted as saying, “Even for us, details of the Indian program are always sketchy and hard facts thin on the ground.” He added, “Mysore is being constantly monitored, and we are constantly monitoring progress in Challakere.” However, according to Gary Samore, a former Obama administration coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction, “India intends to build thermonuclear weapons as part of its strategic deterrent against China. It is unclear, when India will realize this goal of a larger and more powerful arsenal, but they will.”

Once manufactured, there is nothing to stop India from deploying such weapons against Pakistan. “India is now developing very big bombs, hydrogen bombs that are city-busters,” said Pervez Hoodbhoy, a leading Pakistani nuclear and national security analyst. “It is not interested in… nuclear weapons for use on the battlefield; it is developing nuclear weapons for eliminating population centers.”

In other words, as the Kashmir dispute continues to fester, inducing periodic terrorist attacks on India and fueling the competition between New Delhi and Islamabad to outpace each other in the variety and size of their nuclear arsenals, the peril to South Asia in particular and the world at large only grows.

 Dilip Hiro, a TomDispatch regular, has written 34 books, including After Empire: The Birth of a Multipolar World. His latest book is A Comprehensive Dictionary of the Middle East.   http://www.alternet.org/world/nuclear-winter-planetary-scale-biggest-threat-mankind-virtually-no-one-talking-about

World Nuclear Victims Forum Declaration 2015 condemning the nuclear industry

January 4, 2016

The world nuclear victims forum was held at Hiroshima.
“A charter of world Nuclear Victim’s rights” was adopted. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10154396267119937&id=685379936
世界核被害者フォーラム

Declaration of the World Nuclear Victims Forum in Hiroshima
(Draft Elements of a Charter of World Nuclear Victims’ Rights)
November 23, 2015

1. We, participants in the World Nuclear Victims Forum, gathered in Hiroshima from November 21 to 23 in 2015, 70 years after the atomic bombings by the US government.
2. We define the rights of nuclear victims in the narrow sense of not distinguishing between victims of military and industrial nuclear use, including victims of the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and of nuclear testing, as well as victims of exposure to radiation and radioactive contamination created by the entire process including uranium mining and milling, and nuclear development, use and waste. In the broad sense, we confirm that until we end the nuclear age, any person anywhere could at any time become a victim=a Hibakusha, and that nuclear weapons, nuclear power and humanity cannot coexist.
3. We recall that the radiation, heat and blast of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki sacrificed not only Japanese but also Koreans, Chinese, Taiwanese and people from other countries there as a result of Japan’s colonization and invasion, and Allied prisoners of war. (more…)

France’s involvement in South Australia’s Nuclear Royal Commission

July 31, 2015

This Nuclear Royal Commission is becoming a bigger farce with each passing day!

We already knew that the Royal Commission was seeking help from Canada- notorious for the corruption in its nuclear industry

The Advertiser (South Australia’s voice for the nuclear industry) has informed us , apparently with joy and delight, that:

“The French want to sell the state their world-leading uranium enrichment and electricity-generating nuclear technology.”

“Suggestions proposed by the French have already been incorporated into its terms of reference”

“the French Ambassador, Christophe Lecourtier, also briefed Mr Weatherill on the transformation of the regional economy of Normandy, as host to significant sectors of French’s nuclear industry.

The ambassador argued parallels could be found with the South Australian economy if it were to become the home of a fledgling Australian uranium enrichment and nuclear energy industry.

Normandy has the French government’s most modern and main export reactor design, the so-called European pressurised reactor (EPR), which is currently under construction.”

It all sounds so very fine and dandy.

EXCEPT for:

1 France’s Nuclear Financial Crisis France’s State owned nuclear company AREVA now a costly burden  France’s nuclear corporation AREVA in deep financial trouble – needs tax-payer bailout.

2. France’s Nuclear Safety Crisis UK nuclear strategy faces meltdown as faults are found in identical French project.  Future of the entire Flamanville-3  project in doubt, with more problems at EPR nuclear reactor

Role of USA’s Assistant Secretary of State in the spiralling chaos of Ukraine

July 31, 2015

Now, the Ukraine chaos threatens to spiral even further out of control with the neo-Nazis and other right-wing militias – supplied with a bounty of weapons to kill ethnic Russians in the east – turning on the political leadership in Kiev.

Thus, it seems unlikely that Nuland, regarded by some in Washington as the new “star” in U.S. foreign policy, will be fired for her dangerous incompetence, just as most neocons who authored the Iraq disaster remain “respected” experts employed by major think tanks, given prized space on op-ed pages, and consulted at the highest levels of the U.S. government.


The Mess That Nuland Made, Reader Supported News By Robert Parry, Consortium News 22 July 15
Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland engineered Ukraine’s “regime change” in early 2014 without weighing the likely chaos and consequences. Now, as neo-Nazis turn their guns on the government, it’s hard to see how anyone can clean up the mess that Nuland made, writes Robert Parry. 

s the Ukrainian army squares off against ultra-right and neo-Nazi militias in the west and violence against ethnic Russians continues in the east, the obvious folly of the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy has come into focus even for many who tried to ignore the facts, or what you might call “the mess that Victoria Nuland made.”

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs “Toria” Nuland was the “mastermind” behind the Feb. 22, 2014 “regime change” in Ukraine, plotting the overthrow of the democratically elected government of President Viktor Yanukovych while convincing the ever-gullible U.S. mainstream media that the coup wasn’t really a coup but a victory for “democracy.”

To sell this latest neocon-driven “regime change” to the American people, the ugliness of the coup-makers had to be systematically airbrushed, particularly the key role of neo-Nazis and other ultra-nationalists from the Right Sektor. For the U.S.-organized propaganda campaign to work, the coup-makers had to wear white hats, not brown shirts.

So, for nearly a year and a half, the West’s mainstream media, especially The New York Times and The Washington Post, twisted their reporting into all kinds of contortions to avoid telling their readers that the new regime in Kiev was permeated by and dependent on neo-Nazi fighters and Ukrainian ultra-nationalists who wanted a pure-blood Ukraine, without ethnic Russians.

Any mention of that sordid reality was deemed “Russian propaganda” and anyone who spoke this inconvenient truth was a “stooge of Moscow.” It wasn’t until July 7 that the Times admitted the importance of the neo-Nazis and other ultra-nationalists in waging war against ethnic Russian rebels in the east. The Times also reported that these far-right forces had been joined by Islamic militants. Some of those jihadists have been called “brothers” of the hyper-brutal Islamic State.

Though the Times sought to spin this remarkable military alliance – neo-Nazi militias and Islamic jihadists – as a positive, the reality had to be jarring for readers who had bought into the Western propaganda about noble “pro-democracy” forces resisting evil “Russian aggression.”

Perhaps the Times sensed that it could no longer keep the lid on the troubling truth in Ukraine. For weeks, the Right Sektor militias and the neo-Nazi Azov battalion have been warning the civilian government in Kiev that they might turn on it and create a new order more to their liking.

Clashes in the West

Then, on Saturday, violent clashes broke out in the western Ukrainian town of Mukachevo, allegedly over the control of cigarette-smuggling routes. Right Sektor paramilitaries sprayed police officers with bullets from a belt-fed machinegun, and police – backed by Ukrainian government troops – returned fire. Several deaths and multiple injuries were reported.

Tensions escalated on Monday with President Petro Poroshenko ordering national security forces to disarm “armed cells” of political movements. Meanwhile, the Right Sektor dispatched reinforcements to the area while other militiamen converged on the capital of Kiev.

While President Poroshenko and Right Sektor leader Dmitry Yarosh may succeed in tamping down this latest flare-up of hostilities, they may be only postponing the inevitable: a conflict between the U.S.-backed authorities in Kiev and the neo-Nazis and other right-wing fighters who spearheaded last year’s coup and have been at the front lines of the fighting against ethnic Russian rebels in the east.

The Ukrainian right-wing extremists feel they have carried the heaviest burden in the war against the ethnic Russians and resent the politicians living in the relative safety and comfort of Kiev. In March, Poroshenko also fired thuggish oligarch Igor Kolomoisky as governor of the southeastern province of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast. Kolomoisky had been the primary benefactor of the Right Sektor militias.

So, as has become apparent across Europe and even in Washington, the Ukraine crisis is spinning out of control, making the State Department’s preferred narrative of the conflict – that it’s all Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fault – harder and harder to sell.

How Ukraine is supposed to pull itself out of what looks like a death spiral – a possible two-front war in the east and the west along with a crashing economy – is hard to comprehend. The European Union, confronting budgetary crises over Greece and other EU members, has little money or patience for Ukraine, its neo-Nazis and its socio-political chaos.

America’s neocons at The Washington Post and elsewhere still rant about the need for the Obama administration to sink more billions upon billions of dollars into post-coup Ukraine because it “shares our values.” But that argument, too, is collapsing as Americans see the heart of a racist nationalism beating inside Ukraine’s new order.

Another Neocon ‘Regime Change’

Much of what has happened, of course, was predictable and indeed was predicted, but neocon Nuland couldn’t resist the temptation to pull off a “regime change” that she could call her own.

Her husband (and arch-neocon) Robert Kagan had co-founded the Project for the New American Century in 1998 around a demand for “regime change” in Iraq, a project that was accomplished in 2003 with President George W. Bush’s invasion.

As with Nuland in Ukraine, Kagan and his fellow neocons thought they could engineer an easy invasion of Iraq, oust Saddam Hussein and install some hand-picked client – in Iraq, Ahmed Chalabi was to be “the guy.” But they failed to take into account the harsh realities of Iraq, such as the fissures between Sunnis and Shiites, exposed by the U.S.-led invasion and occupation.

In Ukraine, Nuland and her neocon and liberal-interventionist friends saw the chance to poke Putin in the eye by encouraging violent protests to overthrow Russia-friendly President Yanukovych and put in place a new regime hostile to Moscow.

Carl Gershman, the neocon president of the U.S.-taxpayer-funded National Endowment for Democracy, explained the plan in a Post op-ed on Sept. 26, 2013. Gershman called Ukraine “the biggest prize” and an important interim step toward toppling Putin, who “may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

For her part, Nuland passed out cookies to anti-Yanukovych demonstrators at the Maidan square, reminded Ukrainian business leaders that the U.S. had invested $5 billion in their “European aspirations,” declared “fuck the EU” for its less aggressive approach, and discussed with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt who the new leaders of Ukraine should be. “Yats is the guy,” she said, referring to Arseniy Yatsenyuk………..

Now, the Ukraine chaos threatens to spiral even further out of control with the neo-Nazis and other right-wing militias – supplied with a bounty of weapons to kill ethnic Russians in the east – turning on the political leadership in Kiev.

In other words, the neocons have struck again, dreaming up a “regime change” scheme that ignored practical realities, such as ethnic and religious fissures. Then, as the blood flowed and the suffering worsened, the neocons just sought out someone else to blame.

Thus, it seems unlikely that Nuland, regarded by some in Washington as the new “star” in U.S. foreign policy, will be fired for her dangerous incompetence, just as most neocons who authored the Iraq disaster remain “respected” experts employed by major think tanks, given prized space on op-ed pages, and consulted at the highest levels of the U.S. government.

[For more on these topics, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Obama’s True Foreign Policy Weakness” and “A Family Business of Perpetual War.”]

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click herehttp://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/31419-the-mess-that-nuland-made