Armas nucleares

Cuando Irán anunció en enero que “reduciría” aún más sus compromisos con el acuerdo de 2015 que limita sus actividades nucleares, no fue en respuesta al asesinato por parte de Estados Unidos del líder de las Fuerzas Quds iraníes, el general Qassem Suleimani, unos días antes. Pero ambos acontecimientos reflejan la escalada de la confrontación entre Irán y Estados Unidos desde el verano de 2019. Cualquier esfuerzo por salvaguardar la sustancia del acuerdo de 2015 (formalmente conocido como Plan de Acción Integral Conjunto o PAIC) debe tener en cuenta este contexto.

El régimen iraní declaró que con esta fase “quinta y final” de reducción de sus compromisos con el PAIC, ya no se sentiría atado a los límites superiores acordados del trato en cuanto a las centrífugas y al enriquecimiento de uranio.…  Seguir leyendo »

A heavy water secondary circuit at a nuclear plant near Arak, Iran, last month.Credit...Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, via Associated Press

The costs of the United States’ targeted killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, are mounting beyond the already significant risks of Iranian retaliation and subsequent military confrontation.

On Sunday, Tehran announced that it will cease to honor all “operational restrictions” imposed by the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known as the Iran nuclear deal, which aimed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

While Iran has not announced what, if any, specific nuclear activities it intends to resume, its decision to remove the restrictions on its uranium enrichment, production and research could soon pose a challenge for the Trump administration at least as great as retaliation against the assassination.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Trump and Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, meeting on the North Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone in June.Credit...Erin Schaff/The New York Time

Is anyone surprised? On the last day of 2019, after months of threatening the United States to ease its nuclear standoff with “a bold decision” by year’s end — or else — the leader of North Korea darkly announced that the country would unveil a new strategic weapon “in the near future.” Kim Jong-un also declared an end to a moratorium on nuclear weapons and missile tests. On the first day of 2020, he did not deliver his customary, often fiery, New Year’s address. In other words, he interrupted his regularly scheduled program to bring us his latest threat.

The false calm is over; the old North Korean nuclear crisis is back on — only, it has just entered a deadly serious phase.…  Seguir leyendo »

What is North Korea doing and what does it mean?

North Korea has taken a series of escalatory steps by conducting 13 missile tests (short-range and submarine-launched ballistic missiles) since May and lodging threats including an unwelcome “Christmas gift” it will present if the U.S. fails to propose a new deal by the end of the year. Pyongyang upped the ante again on 8 December, by claiming to have conducted a “very important” test at the Sohae satellite launching ground – likely of a rocket engine; five days later, it carried out another such test at the same facility to strengthen its “strategic nuclear deterrent”, another way of describing capabilities relevant for a nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).…  Seguir leyendo »

Hasta hace unos pocos años, parecía que el problema de las armas nucleares estaba controlado, o acaso resuelto. Los arsenales nucleares de Estados Unidos y Rusia se habían reducido considerablemente respecto de los máximos de la Guerra Fría, y los tratados de control de armas limitaban los sistemas de alcance largo e intermedio. Pero puede que todo esto se termine.

Los avances logrados durante la última generación no se limitaron a Estados Unidos y Rusia. Fue posible persuadir a Libia para que abandonara sus ambiciones nucleares, Israel frustró el desarrollo de esas armas en Irak y Siria, y Sudáfrica entregó el pequeño arsenal que tenía.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Hassan Rouhani visits the exhibition of nuclear technology on April 9, 2019. Office of the Iranian President.

Iran announced on 5 November that it is moving ahead with incremental breaches of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). According to President Hassan Rouhani, as of 6 November, Tehran will start “injecting [uranium hexafluoride] gas into the centrifuges in Fordow”, a bunkered enrichment facility that under the deal is meant to be converted “into a nuclear, physics and technology centre”.

This move is the latest in a series of staggered steps toward downgrading Tehran’s adherence to the nuclear agreement. The process began in May 2019, when the Rouhani administration set a 60-day rolling ultimatum for the agreement’s remaining parties (France, Germany, the UK, Russia and China) to deliver the deal’s expected economic dividends in the face of unilateral U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

¿El control de las armas nucleares se está desintegrando? El Tratado sobre Fuerzas Nucleares de Alcance Intermedio de 1987 (INF por su sigla en inglés) ha colapsado, el acuerdo nuclear iraní de 2015 está tambaleándose y Corea del Norte ha seguido expandiendo su arsenal nuclear y de misiles balísticos. Peor aún, no resulta claro si Estados Unidos adherirá al Nuevo Tratado START cuando expire en 2021. Ese acuerdo limita (en 3.000) la cantidad de armas estratégicas con las que Rusia y Estados Unidos se han apuntado mutuamente.

Afortunadamente, la historia ofrece cierto consuelo. Durante la Guerra Fría y después, luego de los períodos de ruptura del control de armamentos normalmente vinieron fases de reconstrucción.…  Seguir leyendo »

A view outside the storage site on the outskirts of Tehran which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel described as a “secret atomic warehouse.”CreditCreditThe Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)

Reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency don’t usually make for riveting reading, so you may have missed last Friday’s latest, soporifically headlined “Verification and monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran in light of United Nations Security Council resolution 2231 (2015).”

Don’t be fooled. Buried in the report are two oblique sentences hinting at a mystery about which you may soon hear a great deal.

“Ongoing interactions between the Agency and Iran relating to Iran’s implementation of its Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol require full and timely cooperation by Iran,” the report says. “The Agency continues to pursue this objective with Iran.”…  Seguir leyendo »

The alarming escalation between the U.S. and Iran risks unravelling the nuclear deal, prompting direct military engagement and destabilising the Arabian Peninsula. In this excerpt from its Watch List 2019 – Second Update, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to de-escalate tensions and maximise efforts to preserve the nuclear deal.

Tensions between Iran and the U.S. have grown at an alarming pace in recent months. The Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign, following its withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal, has inflicted significant harm on Iran’s economy – an estimated 80 per cent of which is now under unilateral sanctions.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Trump says he wants to make sure Iran never acquires nuclear weapons. His policy, however, is having the opposite effect: It is giving Tehran a powerful incentive to go nuclear, while at the same time making it increasingly difficult for the United States to prevent that. On Monday the official Iranian news agency announced that the country had breached the limits for enriched uranium imposed on it by the 2015 international agreements.

Indeed, American policy toward Iran over the past year makes it clear that Iranian leaders were foolish not to develop a nuclear deterrent in the early 2000s.

Although there has not yet been a significant military clash, the United States has effectively declared war on Iran.…  Seguir leyendo »

Un recuerdo personal: hace unos cuantos años, Jacques Chirac, entonces presidente de la República Francesa, declaraba ante algunos diplomáticos: «¿La bomba iraní? ¿Y qué?». El presidente francés y muchos otros dirigentes europeos nunca han compartido la histeria estadounidense respecto a los proyectos nucleares de Irán. En el fondo, otros gobiernos menos racionales que el de Teherán, en concreto el de Pakistán, poseen armas nucleares, igual que Israel, India y China. ¿Deberíamos temer a Irán más que a China o Pakistán?

Recordemos que, aparte del uso que le dieron los estadounidenses en 1945, las bombas nucleares solo se han empleado como elemento disuasorio.…  Seguir leyendo »

A picture of Mao Zedong and Kim Il-sung on a remaining section of the Hekou Broken Bridge, which connected China and North Korea before it was bombed by the United States Army during the Korean War.CreditEuropean Pressphoto Agency

As President Xi Jinping of China left North Korea on Friday afternoon, much attention was focused on whether he had obtained any concession on denuclearization from Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader — and how he might leverage that when he meets President Trump this week on the margins of the G-20 summit. But this focus on nuclear weapons and China’s trade war with the United States obscures the real significance of Mr. Xi’s trip, and it mistakes his weakness for strength.

As notable as the pomp and ceremony of the rare meeting — the first visit to Pyongyang by a Chinese head of state in 14 years — was the lack of specifics about policy to emerge from it.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi. Photo: Getty Images.

Tensions have again flared between the US and Iran. The Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, followed by Tehran’s warnings of resuming its nuclear programme, have revived a crisis that spans several decades.

Within the Trump administration, influential leaders – including National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – seem to be steering the US into conflict with Iran.

This conflict has never been a direct confrontation, instead mainly featuring in countries across the Middle East. Iraq has been the most cherished prize for both sides. Recently citing an increased threat, the US evacuated all non-essential staff from Iraq.…  Seguir leyendo »

On January 31, 2019, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom announced their most substantive move yet to save the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, to which they are signatories, from collapse. With the European Union’s blessing, the three states established a special channel that shields trade with Iran from U.S. sanctions. The Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges, or INSTEX, as the channel is called, holds out the possibility that Europe can yet salvage the nuclear agreement’s core bargain: that Iran was to limit its nuclear activities in return for the normalization of economic relations. The preservation of this arrangement will depend not only on the modicum of European-Iranian trade that INSTEX might help preserve but on whether Europe can navigate a narrow path between what Iran expects and what the United States can tolerate.…  Seguir leyendo »

A magnificent fresco adorns the main pavilion of the royal palace in the Iranian city of Isfahan, depicting the 16th-century Battle of Chaldiran, fought between the Turkish-Ottoman and Persian-Safavid empires. The fresco appears to show the Persian army victorious, having crushed its Turkish adversary. The truth is that Chaldiran marked a decisive victory for the Ottomans, who went on to annex eastern Anatolia and northern Iraq. But what the self-serving historical distortion suggests is not shame of defeat but pride in the heroic valor with which the Iranians resisted a foe that outnumbered them and, unlike them, possessed heavy artillery. Donald Trump’s administration, which has made bringing Iranians to their knees the cornerstone of its Mideast policy half a millennium later, should draw a lesson from the battle and the way the Persians digested defeat.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran, in 2010.CreditCreditMajid Asgaripour/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In the year since the United States withdrew from the nuclear agreement with Iran, that country has practiced what its president, Hassan Rouhani, has described as “strategic patience.” But now Iran seems to be giving up on that.

On Wednesday, Mr. Rouhani announced that Iran would stop adhering to some of the deal’s provisions. Iran’s goal, though, is not to find a quick exit — or any exit at all — from the deal, but to signal to the European countries that also signed it that they can no longer sit by as the United States imposes sanctions and more generally piles pressure on Tehran.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hace diez años, durante su primer viaje presidencial por Europa, Barack Obama pronunció un discurso histórico en la ciudad de Praga. En un gesto sin precedentes, el presidente estadounidense declaró que retornar a un mundo libre de armamento nuclear representaba un objetivo tangible, lo que contribuyó a que Obama fuese premiado con el Nobel de la Paz. Asimismo, Obama prometió a los ciudadanos checos que Estados Unidos jamás les daría la espalda, asegurando que la cláusula de defensa colectiva de la OTAN suponía un compromiso “para todos los tiempos”.

Una década más tarde, Estados Unidos parece haber dado un giro de 180 grados.…  Seguir leyendo »

Alexyz3d/iStock, via Getty Images Plus

The globe’s nuclear safety net is fraying badly. Dangers of nuclear confrontations are growing not only in Europe, with decisions by the presidents of both nuclear superpowers, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, to withdraw from a treaty banning intermediate-range missiles; they are suddenly rising, too, in Asia, where India and Pakistan — both nuclear powers — have carried out conventional airstrikes across the Kashmir divide. Elsewhere in Asia, negotiations between Mr. Trump and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, to begin a denuclearization process have abruptly ended.

The thickest, weight-bearing strands of this safety net are treaties that have been cast aside without being replaced.…  Seguir leyendo »

En el año 1971, un amplio abanico de mandatarios mundiales se congregaron en la ciudad iraní de Persépolis, la antigua capital del Imperio persa. Entre ellos, se encontraban personalidades tan destacadas y variopintas como Josip Broz Tito de Yugoslavia, Raniero y Grace Kelly de Mónaco, el vicepresidente estadounidense Spiro Agnew y el presidente de la Unión Soviética Nikolái Podgorni. La ocasión era una suntuosa fiesta convocada por el sah de Irán, Reza Pahleví, con motivo de los 2500 años de la fundación del Estado imperial de Irán.

Según el parecer del ayatolá Ruhollah Jomeini, que ocho años después se convertiría en el líder supremo iraní, lo que tuvo lugar en Persépolis fue nada menos que “el festival del diablo”.…  Seguir leyendo »

A second U.S.-North Korea summit

There are reasons for concern about a second U.S.-North Korea summit. If there is no tangible movement on denuclearization, public support for dialogue with North Korea will erode quickly, with the potential for a return to a policy of “maximum pressure.” If this were to happen, it would be a major diplomatic failure with far reaching consequences.

In 2017, when North Korea had 18 ballistic missile launches, to include two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) launches capable of reaching the United States, and a test of a thermonuclear warhead, the prospect of military conflict with North Korea was real.

Fortunately, Kim Jong-un quickly pivoted, in his January 2018 New Year’s address, to an appeal for better relations with South Korea and the United States, stating that a nuclear North Korea could now focus exclusively on economic development.…  Seguir leyendo »