The rest of the world keeps going, even though Donald Trump is sucking all the oxygen out of the coverage. And I’m as guilty as anyone. It’s hard to know how much to say about the ignorant and bigoted comments that appear daily. There does need to be pushback, but not at all clear how much. Read More
The last couple of weeks have been difficult. I’ve written some things but felt they weren’t appropriate for right now. I’ll publish them as I think the time is right. For now, here are some other people’s writing. Read More
India has applied to join the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group. It’s not going well. Read More
My op-ed in Physics Today on the use of fear in discussions of nuclear terrorism. It appears that a number of other people are seeing that hyping the fear factor isn’t the best way to discuss these issues: Elisabeth Eaves in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Al Mauroni in War on the Rocks, and a group educating journalists on nuclear matters. Also some good sense on how to protect nuclear plants from terrorists. Photo from the Physics Today article. Read More
On April 26, it will be thirty years since the Chernobyl reactor blew up. That event gave the Soviet Union’s new premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, a scare that got him thinking about better ways to run the country. None of that worked out quite as he planned, though. Here’s a good history of the Chernobyl event. Photo from here of the containment now being built for the ruined reactor. Read More
More analysis of Russia’s drawdown in Syria from Paul Pillar, Dmitry Gorenberg and Michael Kofman, Samuel Greene, and Pavel Baev. Also Mark Galeotti on Russian Spetznaz (special forces) in Syria. Samuel Greene’s piece is particularly worth reading in terms of strategy. World leaders seldom act out of petty spite or revenge. Read More
Russia is partially withdrawing its troops from Syria. It will maintain its naval and air bases there but will remove some unspecified amount of troops and equipment. Every reason you can think of has been offered in the speculation as to why and why now. Here’s a reasonable interpretation from Randa Slim, who has been involved in Track II discussions with Russia. Also from Mark Galeotti. How much will Russia continue to support Assad? Will Assad support the peace process with his protector partially gone? And how will other parties to the conflict respond? Nobody really knows. Here’s an article about strained relations between Russia and Iran. Read More
Today will probably be Implementation Day in the Iran nuclear agreement. Jim White has pulled the relevant sections from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Agreement. There will be many news stories. The short version is that Iran has, much more quickly than I expected, disassembled its easy pathways to a bomb and opened up for intensive IAEA inspections in return for lifting of a great many sanctions. This will depress the price of oil, as Iranian oil comes on the markets.
Update (10:30 am, MST): Iran has released 4 American prisoners, in exchange for the release of 7 Iranian prisoners in the US. Below the fold: Relevant documents and news reports on Implementation Day, which came in just under the wire, Vienna time.
China wants to build a new rail route to Europe. That would help to open commerce for the Central Asian nations along the way. Those nations were part of the Soviet Union, and Russia sees them as its sphere of influence. But it is not in a position to promote something like that new rail route. Plus Russia would like to ally more closely with China, but their respective economies would easily subordinate Russia in that relationship. Interesting times ahead. Read More