Weekly roundup

Articles and reports from the past week
“US seeks momentum with NPR, START ahead of NPT Review Conference”
The new US Nuclear Posture Review, the first to be fully unclassified, makes the following declarations:

“The fundamental role of U.S. nuclear weapons, which will continue as long as nuclear weapons exist, is to deter nuclear attack on the United States, our allies, and partners.”

“[T]he United States will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that are party to the NPT and in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations”

Although the NPR declares Iran to be in “non-compliance with non-proliferation norms”, key questions remain over how to determine “compliance with…non-proliferation obligations” and Iran’s nuclear status, and the nature of the non-“fundamental” purposes of US nuclear weapons are unspecified (Examiner, Guardian).
However, some analysts argue the NPR and the newly signed START follow-on treaty give the US momentum and political credibility ahead of this month’s US Nuclear Security Summit and the May NPT Review Conference (Council on Foreign Relations).

“P5+1 press ahead with sanctions meeting”
The UN ambassadors of the P5+1 states met to discuss UNSC sanctions against Iran (BBC). China, while reiterating its call for continued dialogue, has confirmed it will participate in relevant discussions (Associated Press). Russian President Medvedev stated that he had “outlined [Russia’s] limits on sanctions” in discussions with US President Obama, and any new sanctions are expected to target Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (Guardian).
Iran restated its willingness to negotiate a nuclear fuel swap on Iranian territory (Reuters).

“Israel reaffirms nuclear policy amid growing attention to undeclared arsenal”
Israel has reaffirmed its policy of deliberate ambiguity over its undeclared nuclear arsenal (Global Security Newswire). The comments came as Israel moves ahead with plans to develop new civilian nuclear reactors despite challenges in finding international partners due to its status outside the NPT (ISN).
Prime Minister Netanyahu has reversed his decision to attend the US Nuclear Security Summit reportedly after learning Egypt and Turkey would call on Israel to sign the NPT, though US commentators believe the real reason is tensions with the US over settlements in East Jerusalem (Politico).

Can the CIA sabotage Iran’s nuclear project? (Agence France-Presse)
Dan De Luce writes that Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri’s defection has renewed speculation over CIA efforts to sabotage Iran’s nuclear efforts, though it remains unclear how much intelligence Amiri can provide. Covert US efforts have involved drawing human resources out of Iran and introducing faulty components into Iran’s nuclear supply chain.

“Khamenei supports Ahmadinejad’s campaign for more subsidy cuts”
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has voiced his support for President Ahmadinejad’s continued campaign to cut $40 billion in state subsidies on gasoline and other basic goods (New York Times). The parliament approved a $20-billion cut in January. The cuts could reduce Iran’s vulnerability to international sanctions on gasoline imports, though officials continue to insist that sanctions would be ineffective (Associated Press).

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