Making Sense Of That Nuclear Deal With Saudi Arabia

The United States is trying to develop a nuclear cooperation agreement (123 agreement) with Saudi Arabia. The stories (another) focus on whether such an agreement would limit Saudi Arabia’s access to uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing, two technologies that can produce materials for nuclear weapons.

Let’s look at two other factors. 1) Although Saudi Arabia has had big ambitions for nuclear power, starting from sixteen reactors and now down to two, it is not clear that they can afford those reactors and have no administrative support for them. 2) Westinghouse, the company being pushed by the United States, is in no position to build those reactors. Read More

Links – February 20, 2018

North Korea is upping its cyber attacks. Washington Post. Guardian. Photo from Washington Post.

The indictment of 13 Russian citizens and three Russian organizations. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s statement about the indictment. Rosenstein’s letter appointing Robert Mueller Special Counsel.

The world after Trump: How the system can endure. We need to be thinking of how we will mend our institutions after the damage Trump and his people are doing. This is not all bad. Our systems are resilient, and there will be opportunities to improve on what we had before. The United States and Europe. Read More

Links – February 9, 2018

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would like eventually to enrich uranium. They also want to buy nuclear reactors. How should the agreements around those reactors be structured?

Russia hasn’t disposed of 34 tons of plutonium. It’s our fault.

How America Could Accidentally Push Russia into a Nuclear War. The Nuclear Posture Review gets Russia wrong.

Russian scientists at Sarov, Russia’s equivalent to Los Alamos, arrested for mining bitcoins. 

The education of Kim Jong-Un. Long read on North Korea’s leader, with bonus on how to think about intelligence analysis.

Here’s what war with North Korea would look like. A full-blown war with North Korea wouldn’t be as bad as you think. It would be much, much worse. Long read.

What if North Korea had won the Korean War?

Gene Sharp, Global Guru of Nonviolent Resistance, Dies at 90.

Beautiful jellyfish and radiolarians. (Top graphic from here.)

 

Today’s Flynn Story: More Questions Than Answers

Stuff that just doesn’t make sense or doesn’t fit together always catches a scientist’s eye. Today’s Michael Flynn story has caught my eye. There is a fairly straightforward story on the surface: Flynn had a business deal involving Russians. He is reported, by one whistleblower, to have texted a business associate during the inauguration to say that the sanctions on Russia would be coming off soon, so they would be able to make a gazillion dollars. The New York Times and NBC broke the story this morning, and Politico, McClatchy, and Reuters have followed.

If that is what Michael Flynn discussed with the Russians, it is at least dishonest, and probably illegal. Read More

Weekend Links – November 11, 2017

With Trump today saying that he’ll take Vladimir Putin’s word over that of the US intelligence agencies, here’s a reminder of how Republicans used to talk about Russia and the Soviet Union.

Ruthenium-106, an isotope used in cancer therapy, was detected over Europe in September. The distribution measured suggests it came from the Mayak plant in Russia, where nuclear fuel is reprocessed. The amounts over Europe were not dangerous and have mostly gone below detection limits. Read More

Michael Flynn Has IDEAS!

Michael Flynn is known for thinking outside the box, and we need ideas outside the box to solve some of the world’s problems. It’s also great when an action can address more than one problem. But it also helps to know what you’re doing.

Here’s an IDEA: The United States and Russia work together to supply Middle Eastern countries with civilian nuclear power. Several of those countries have been seeking nuclear power. The United States and Russia have companies that can build the plants. That’s the deal Flynn was seeking in October 2015. Read More

Links – June 6, 2017

The $110 billion arms deal to Saudi Arabia is fake news.

The bottleneck in Rex Tillerson’s State Department. Tillerson is depending primarily on two aides who don’t have a lot of foreign policy experience, rather than the expertise in State’s various bureaus.

Apparently Donald Trump’s insistence on absolute loyalty is part of the reason that government jobs are going unfilled. More about why those jobs are unfilled.

That Russian bank that Jared Kushner (and, btw, Carter Page) was dealing with.

The Marshall Plan turns 70 this week. Here are four reasons it was so important. Lessons for the current administration, if anyone is listening. Read More

Links – August 4, 2016

The anniversaries of Hiroshima (August 6) and Nagasaki (August 9) are coming up. Peace organizations are planning observances. But we’re not hearing much about them, because Donald Trump and the possibility of his little hands on the nuclear button are getting all the attention. And maybe that’s the most meaningful observance this year. Read More

Links – June 20, 2016

Vladimir Putin gave a long speech at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum last week. Here’s a summary (photo from here). Some of what he said sounded like he would like to be friendlier with Europe and the United States, but he has said that sort of thing before. One of the problems developing for Putin is that he has said so many things and contradicted them with his actions that it is hard for people to believe what he says. Full transcript of the speech.
Read More