Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Reif and Tomero: New Delhi's Nuclear Gains

The Center’s Kingston Reif and Leonor Tomero had a terrific letter to the editor published in today’s Wall Street Journal that refutes several claims about the U.S.-India nuclear deal. The full letter is provided below.

New Delhi's Nuclear Gains
July 30, 2008

In "A Civil Nuclear Power" (July 21), M.R. Srinivasan makes a number of arguments about the U.S.-India nuclear deal that do not withstand close scrutiny.

First, on the issue of nuclear testing, there is nothing in either the India-specific safeguards agreement or the 123 agreement that says nuclear trade with India will cease if India conducts a nuclear test. Moreover, both agreements support India's efforts to develop a "strategic reserve" of nuclear fuel to guard against any disruption of supply, even if that disruption is caused by India's resumption of nuclear testing. These provisions fail to uphold key conditions of U.S. law contained in the Hyde Act that Congress passed in 2006.

Second, the claim that the deal would have no impact on India's nuclear weapons production capacity doesn't comport with the statements of key Indian officials. As a former head of India's National Security Advisory Board puts it, "it is to India's advantage to categorize as many power reactors as possible as civilian ones to be refueled by imported uranium and conserve our native uranium fuel for weapons grade plutonium production."

Finally, the deal will not help India meet its burgeoning energy needs. Even with the deal, nuclear power is not expected to exceed 8-9% of India's total electrical capacity through 2032. Instead the United States should encourage and assist India with efforts to burn coal more cleanly, devise better energy efficiency and conservation programs, modernize and expand its grid and develop decentralized renewable energy resource generation.

Kingston Reif and Leonor Tomero
Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation

Monday, July 28, 2008

National Security Legislative Wrap-Up

This is the last week of congressional session until September, and there is expected to be little action on national security issues. Aside from the Defense Appropriations bill scheduled for September, Congress may be done with legislation dealing with national security issues for the rest of 2008, with the possible exception of the U.S.-Russian civilian nuclear deal. That means the Defense Authorization bill, most appropriations bills, the U.S.-India nuclear deal and Iran sanctions legislation may not be considered until 2009, if at all.



On July 24, the House Foreign Affairs Committee adopted legislation approving a civilian nuclear agreement between the U.S. and Russia, but added conditions on Russian support for Iran. The measure requires the President to certify that Russia is not helping Iran's nuclear weapons program and supports U.N. Security Council sanctions on Iran. Proponents argue that the only way to get the deal approved this year is to include these conditions.

If Congress takes no final action to approve the deal, it will likely die when Congress adjourns for the year on September 26 before 90 days of "continuous session" for congressional consideration have expired.


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi have said that the Fiscal Year 2009 Appropriations bill will be one of two appropriations measures passed by Congress this year, most likely in September (the other may be the Military Construction and Veterans bill. The Senate Appropriations Committee mark-up scheduled for July 24 was postponed until September. The House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee mark-up is scheduled for July 30.


As the bill tends to take up to two weeks of Senate floor time, the measure has been put off until September -- and many never be considered by the Senate.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Congressional Schedule for DoD and DoE Bills

Provided below is an updated schedule of Congressional action on key Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Energy (DoE) bills, as prepared by David Culp of FCNL. Click to enlarge.

Friday, July 25, 2008

John Isaacs: Hand-Wringing over Success in North Korea

The Center’s Executive Director, the indomitable John Isaacs, put together a great piece yesterday that reviews the recent events involving North Korea’s nuclear facilities and the ensuing uproar by conservatives domestically.

Isaacs begins:

The same neoconservatives who dominated the Bush administration for almost eight years are now screaming like stuck pigs over the administration’s latest moves on North Korea. You would have thought that the heathens had been let into the temple—or, even worse, that W. had appointed Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) or Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) to Cabinet positions.

President George W. Bush announced on June 26 that the United States would take steps to remove the last remaining Stalinist regime from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. This step was in return for North Korea submitting a long-delayed official declaration about its nuclear program.

Click here for the full article.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Obama Highlights A World Free of Nuclear Weapons in Berlin Speech

In his much awaited speech in Berlin today, Sen. Barack Obama again reiterated his support for a world free of nuclear weapons:

This is the moment when we must renew the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. The two superpowers that faced each other across the wall of this city came too close too often to destroying all we have built and all that we love. With that wall gone, we need not stand idly by and watch the further spread of the deadly atom. It is time to secure all loose nuclear materials; to stop the spread of nuclear weapons; and to reduce the arsenals from another era. This is the moment to begin the work of seeking the peace of a world without nuclear weapons.

Obama has made the elimination of nuclear weapons a major theme of his campaign, including the release of a television spot that highlights the risk of the weapons falling into the hand of terrorists.

Sen. McCain has also endorsed the same goal in a May 2008 speech.

For more information on the candidates’ positions on nuclear weapons and nonproliferation related issues, check out the following Center analyses:

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

U.S. India Nuclear Deal Post-Confidence Vote Update

As expected, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh survived Tuesday’s confidence vote. Singh secured 275 votes while his opponents managed 256. There were 10 abstentions. As I noted last week, the vote was marked by all sorts of questionable shenanigans, including the renaming of an airport after a key lawmakers’ father and the temporary release of a number of jailed lawmakers – some of them convicted murderers – so they could take part in the vote.

Needless to say, these tactics did not endear Singh to his opponents:

At one point, legislators from the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party waved wads of cash in the air, saying the Congress Party and its allies had tried to bribe them to stay away from the vote. The ruckus forced a temporary adjournment of the house.
With the confidence vote out of the way, the IAEA Board of Governors is scheduled to take up the India-specific safeguards agreement on August 1, after which the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), must exempt India from international rules barring nuclear trade with non-NPT signatories. Once these two steps have been completed, the U.S. Congress will be free to vote on the final U.S.-India 123 agreement.

With time running out to complete the deal before Congress is set to adjourn on September 26, both the Singh government and the Bush administration are ready to push hard to rush the deal through the NSG and Congress.

Commenting on the recent developments in a conference call with reporters yesterday, David Mulford, the U.S. ambassador to India, stated:
The US has been ready and is now geared up… We are very actively on our way… We hope we can be in a position to send the legislation to Congress in early September.
For this to happen, the NSG would have to complete its deliberations on the deal by the end of August, an incredibly short time-frame given that at least two NSG sessions are likely to be necessary. However, even in the unlikely event that Congress does take up the 123 agreement in early September, a lame-duck session would almost certainly be required, as Congress must be in continuous session for at least 30 days (or 45, depending on who you talk to) in order to take action on the agreement. For the moment, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has all but ruled out the possibility of a lame-duck session.

For more on why we think rushing the deal is a terrible idea, see here and here.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks.

Monday, July 21, 2008

National Security Legislative Wrap-Up

The Senate and House Appropriations Committees completed their mark-ups of the Fiscal Year 2009 State, Foreign Operations Appropriations bill. However, as with most appropriations bills, it is not likely that the bill will be considered by the full House or Senate. Legislation to impose sanctions on Iran is bubbling, but again, there may not be sufficient time before adjournment to complete any legislation. While the Defense Authorization bill remains in limbo, House and Senate leadership have said that Congress will pass an annual Defense Appropriations bill -- most likely in September.



On July 16, the House approved the Fiscal Year 2009 State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs appropriations bill. On July 17, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the bill. Both bills provide $36.6 billion in funding and represent the largest component of the Fiscal Year 2009 International Affairs Budget. When combined with the proposed $1.3 billion in funding for the International Food Aid Programs (Agriculture Appropriations) and $300 million for the Global AIDS Fund (HHS-Labor Appropriations), total spending for the FY09 International Affairs Budget will be $38.2 billion. This spending level represents a $1.6 billion reduction from the Administration's request and a $4 billion increase or 11% increase over FY08 base spending levels.


On July 17, the Senate Banking Committee approved still another Iran sanctions bill by a vote 0f 19 - 2. The measure, introduced by Senate Banking Committee Chair Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Ranking member Richard Shelby (R-AL), would impose sanctions on foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies that do business with Tehran. There is no section blocking the U.S.-Russian nuclear agreement.


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi have said that the Fiscal Year 2009 Appropriations bill will be one of two appropriations measures passed by Congress this year, most likely in September. The Senate Appropriations Committee plans a mark-up of the bill on July 24.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Craziness in India

Who knew that Indian politics could be so entertaining? With a hugely important confidence vote scheduled for July 22, the Indian political landscape has been thrown into a tizzy.

Last week, in protest over the government’s decision to push ahead with the U.S.-India nuclear deal, the Indian Communists, who virulently oppose the deal, withdrew their support for the Congress Party-led governing coalition and threw in their lot with the BJP, an ironic political alliance of convenience to say the least. For its part, the Congress Party secured the support of the Samajwadi Party. Neither bloc commands an absolute majority, and while the Congress Party is expected to survive, the outcome is still in doubt.

And how are the two sides attempting to woo “undecideds” to their cause? Via the AP’s Matt Rosenberg:

So with such a close vote – both sides have each lined up around 260 lawmakers, a dozen shy of what they need to win – no deal appears too outlandish in an atmosphere that is short on ideology and long on patronage.


The government... announced Thursday that it was naming the airport in the northern city of Lucknow after former Prime Minister Charan Singh, whose son Ajit heads a small political party with three sitting lawmakers.

India's Central Bureau of Investigation — its FBI — recently announced it might investigate corruption allegations against the Samajwadi Party's main rival, Mayawati, the single-named chief minister of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

A handful of jailed Congress lawmakers — including one serving a life sentence for murder — have also secured bail so they can vote. The move is legal, but was harshly criticized by the Communist Party of India, which said "there is a question of political morality involved."
What? You mean releasing convicted felons and murders for two days purely for political purposes borders on the politically immoral. You don’t say!

A report filed in London’s Daily Telegraph expands on the story of the “handful of jailed Congress lawmakers”:
The most infamous of the six MPs is Mohammed Shahabuddin from the lawless eastern state of Bihar, who is serving a life term for killing a political opponent. His bail has been granted on the condition that he pays his expenses and those of his police escort.

Another is Rajesh Ranjan, a fellow National Socialist Party MP also from Bihar, who was imprisoned for murdering a local trade unionist.

"Both are important to the vote of confidence and are happy to be out of prison and spend time with fellow MPs in Delhi" senior party leader Ramkripal Yadav said.

Obama vs. McCain: Seven Areas of Agreement, and Six of Disagreement, on Nuclear Weapons

In a campaign that features back and forth on issues large and small, where Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain disagree on everything from taxes to offshore drilling to Social Security to Iraq, it is amazing how much agreement there is on nuclear weapons issues. As Executive Director John Isaacs told the Los Angeles Times on July 13, "We'll have major progress on nuclear issues no matter who is elected." In this short analysis, provided below, Isaacs lists seven areas of agreement and six of disagreement between Obama and McCain on nuclear weapons.


and McCain both have pledged to work towards eliminating nuclear weapons worldwide, a goal originally espoused by former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, former Senator Sam Nunn, and former Secretary of Defense William Perry.

of the candidates seek to reduce the United States' nuclear arsenal. They have pledged to retain a reasonable nuclear deterrent while still fulfilling the United States' commitment under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Both candidates encourage the negotiation of an extension of the START nuclear agreement with Russia. Obama introduced S. 1977 in August 2007, a bill fortifying U.S. non-proliferation policy that included provisions related to START. In his May 2008 speech on nuclear security, McCain reaffirmed the need to pursue "binding verification measures" based on those included in START.

Both candidates support strengthening the IAEA. Obama's S. 1977 resolution authorized $15 million annually for IAEA activity. McCain is also a proponent of increased funding, as well as increased transparency and compliance on the part of the nuclear countries under IAEA scrutiny.

Both of the candidates support an increase in Cooperative Threat Reduction programs in Russia and the former Soviet Union.

Both Obama and McCain have indicated that they will work for a global treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.

Both of the candidates have affirmed their ongoing support for the NPT, emphasizing that they will work towards better global enforcement.


Obama supports ratification of the CTBT, while McCain said he will "reconsider" the treaty.

While both candidates voted for the U.S.-India nuclear agreement, Obama's vote included amendments making the deal conditional upon India ending its military cooperation with Iran and a presidential certification that the agreement will not be used to aid India in creating new nuclear weapons.

has stated that he does not support the Reliable Replacement Warhead at this time. McCain has yet to offer a stance on the issue.

While both Obama and McCain consider Iran a threat, Obama has been a stronger proponent of engaging Iran in diplomatic negotiations. McCain has taken a harder line.

Obama opposes the Yucca Mountain storage facility, citing safety concerns. McCain supports the Yucca Mountain facility.

Obama is not convinced of the necessity of the expansive missile defense plan laid out by the Bush administration (which calls for a third missile defense site to be built in Europe). McCain, however, is a strong supporter.

Research assistance provided by Kimberly Mills and Meghan Warren.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Help Us Get Out the Vote

Interested in helping get voters registered and to the polls for November? The Center is one of 8 organizations launching a voter education and get out the vote campaign to ensure that people who support arms control and smart national security policies get to the polls - and we're looking for volunteers.

If you're interested, you'll receive training, and a list of names with phone numbers of people who either are not registered, or are registered but need a reminder to vote.

Click here to get more information and to sign up.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Obama Releases Video on Loose Nukes

Props to the Obama team for its latest television ad below, where he directly addresses the issue of loose nukes. The ad, entitled, "America's Leadership," is scheduled to air in Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Virginia.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Reif and Tomero: The Rush to a Flawed Nuclear Deal

The Center’s Kingston Reif and Leonor Tomero rebuked Bill Emmott on the U.S.-India nuclear deal in Saturday’s Washington Post. The text of their letter to the editor is provided below.

The Rush to a Flawed Nuclear Deal
Saturday, July 12, 2008; A12

In his July 7 op-ed piece, "New Life for the India Nuclear Pact," Bill Emmott said that Congress must not allow India's close ties with Iran to hold up the U.S.-India nuclear deal and that the deal is worth pursuing.

In reality, the India-Iran relationship should be cause for concern. The two countries have undertaken two joint naval exercises, and Indian companies have been subject to sanctions by the United States for exporting expertise and technology related to weapons of mass destruction to Iran.

Ultimately, however, India's close relationship with Iran isn't the most serious problem with the pact. Rather than integrating India into the nonproliferation mainstream, the proposed deal would set a risky double standard that would shatter the delicate bargain upon which the global nonproliferation regime is based.

In addition, by increasing India's capability to produce nuclear weapons, the deal will exacerbate an already perilous nuclear arms race in South Asia, because Pakistan is likely to respond by expanding its own nuclear capability.

The Bush administration's desire to complete the deal before it leaves office cannot be allowed to come to fruition at the expense of key U.S. nonproliferation objectives. The deal should be left to the next administration and the next Congress, where, we hope, its numerous shortcomings will be remedied.

Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellow

Director of Nonproliferation
Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation

National Security Legislative Wrap-Up

The Senate Appropriations Committee completed mark-up of the Fiscal Year 2009 Energy and Water Appropriations bill. However, it is not likely that the bill will be considered by the full Senate. Congress completed action on the wiretap bill as well. Senate consideration of the annual Defense Authorization bill could begin this week or the following week or mañana.



The Senate Energy and Water Subcommittee completed its mark-up on July 8 and the full Committee on July 10. While few details of the mark-up are available, the Committee cut the entire $10 million request for the Reliable Replacement Warhead but approved $145 million for plutonium pit manufacturing. It is not clear if or when if the bill will be considered by the full Senate.


On July 7, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) formally introduced the bill as S. 3227.

The House of Representatives may consider a resolution introduced by Reps. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) and Mike Pence (R-IN) that has more than 230 sponsors. H.Con.Res. 362 is non-binding resolution that demands that President Bush initiate an international effort to prohibit petroleum exports to Iran and impose stringent inspections on everything entering or departing Iran. Some view a potential blockade as an act of war. The Senate version is S. Res. 580, introduced by Sens. Evan Bayh (D-IN) and John Thune (R-SD), which currently has 33 co-sponsors.


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on July 7 that the bill will be considered on the Senate floor in July.



The House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee has scheduled its mark-up or writing of this bill for July 16. The full House Appropriations Committee mark-up is scheduled for July 23. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said that the bill will be considered on the Senate floor in July or September.

The House Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee has scheduled its mark-up or writing of this bill for July 16. The full House Appropriations Committee mark-up is scheduled for July 23.

Friday, July 11, 2008

U.S.-India Nuclear Deal Update

Since last summer, when India and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) negotiated a safeguards agreement, the U.S.-India nuclear deal has been in limbo due to opposition from Indian political parties like the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian Communists. The Communists, who have provided the Congress-Party led governing coalition with its parliamentary majority for the past four years and see the deal as a threat to an independent Indian foreign policy, threatened to withdraw from the coalition government led by Prime Minister Singh if India pushed ahead with the deal.

Until last week, meetings within India's governing coalition failed to produce an agreement. However, a breakthrough this past weekend saw Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh secure the support of the Samajwadi Party for the deal. Bolstered by the Samajwadi Party’s support, it was reported on Wednesday that Singh had submitted the safeguards agreement to the IAEA’s Board of Governors. In response, India’s Communist parties formally ended their support for the governing coalition and called for a no-confidence vote in Parliament. Having secured Samajwadi’s backing, the Singh government is likely to survive a no-confidence vote, thereby avoiding the possibility of early elections.

Despite this breakthrough, it is not clear if there is enough time to complete the remaining steps necessary to implement the deal before the end of 2008. There are reports that the IAEA Board of Governors is considering a special meeting on July 28 to discuss the safeguards agreement, after which the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) must exempt India from international rules barring nuclear trade with non-NPT signatories. Once these two steps have been completed, the U.S. Congress will be free to vote on the final U.S.-India 123 agreement.

If the IAEA Board of Governors ratifies the safeguards agreement, which it is expected to do on or around July 28, the NSG would have to give its approval to allow changes in international rules governing the export of nuclear material and technology. An ad hoc meeting would have to be convened and at least two sessions would be required for NSG consideration of the changes.

According to Lynne Weil, spokeswoman for the House Foreign Affairs Committee, "At this point, both [the IAEA and NSG actions] have to take place in the next couple of weeks" in order for the deal to be considered by Congress. This is due to the fact that the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 requires that Congress be provided with at least a 90-day (counted as days of continuous session of Congress) review period to consider the 123 agreement (including a 45-day Committee review period). Congress is scheduled to adjourn on September 26 and both Sen. Majority Leader Reid and House Speaker Pelosi have so far indicated that there will be no lame-duck session.

Given that the IAEA isn’t scheduled to take up the safeguards agreement until the end of July and the NSG may need until September or October to reach a decision, there does not appear to be enough time left on the legislative calendar for Congress to take up the 123 agreement before the Bush administration leaves office. If the deal moved forward now, Congress would have to agree to forego this 90-day timeframe for consideration and instead take up the agreement in a very short time-frame before adjournment. However, even in the event of a lame-duck session, the 90-day review period would not be possible at this point.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Reif: Mitchell Wrong on Third Missile Defense Site in Europe

Scoville Fellow at the Center and regular contributor to NoH, Kingston Reif, penned a terrific letter to the editor in the Washington Times today. Reif pokes a few holes in a commentary by A. Wess Mitchell on the push for a third missile defense site in Europe. The full letter is provided below.

Iran can be deterred

In "Radar shield quest" (Commentary, Tuesday), A. Wess Mitchell makes three strategic arguments in favor of extending the U.S. missile defense system to a third site in Europe. All of them suffer from numerous flaws. First, the claim that the third site enjoys growing support from NATO obscures the fact that at the April NATO summit in Bucharest, NATO members merely stated that they "recognize" - rather than "welcome" or "support" - the contribution the system could make to European security. Ultimately, the alliance has not pledged to develop any missile defenses.

Second, it is unlikely that the third site would enhance U.S. leverage in negotiations with Iran. Our intelligence community has concluded that a state seeking to attack the U.S. homeland would find it far simpler and less expensive to launch a nuclear attack via shorter-range cruise missiles, cargo shipments or terrorism. These are all threats long-range missile defenses in Europe would be powerless to combat.

Third, the insinuation that Iran cannot be deterred is based on conjecture rather than fact. Iranian foreign policy, since the Islamic Revolution has been guided by the principles of realpolitik, not millenarian fanaticism.

Scoville Fellow
Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation

Monday, July 7, 2008

National Security Legislative Wrap-Up

Congress has returned from recess. The Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee has scheduled its mark-up of the annual Energy and Water Appropriations Bill for July 8 with a full Committee mark-up for July 10. Full Senate consideration of the annual Defense Authorization Bill could begin next week.



On June 17, the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee marked up or wrote its annual bill that included $33.3 billion for Fiscal Year 2009. It cut all funds for the Reliable Replacement Warhead and prohibited any spending for the project. The Subcommittee also cut the $302 million requested for the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership to $120 million and restricted the use of the remaining funds, recommended no funding (a cut of $145 million) for the manufacture of new nuclear weapons pits (which are the core of the weapons), and no funds (a cut of $100 million) for the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Facility Replacement. The committee increased funding for the Global Threat Reduction Initiative from $220 million to $407 million, Non-Proliferation and International Security from $140 million to $185 million and international nuclear materials protection and cooperation from $! 430 million to $609 million.

On June 25, the full House Appropriations Committee approved the bill as reported by the Subcommittee.

The Senate Energy and Water Subcommittee tentatively scheduled its mark-up for July 8 with a full Committee mark-up for July 10.


The House of Representatives may consider a resolution introduced by Reps. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) and Mike Pence (R-IN) that has more than 200 sponsors. H.Con.Res. 362 is non-binding resolution that demands that President Bush initiate an international effort to prohibit petroleum exports to Iran and impose stringent inspections on everything entering or departing Iran. Some view a potential blockade as an act of war. The Senate version is S. Res. 580, introduced in the Senate by Sens. Evan Bayh (D-IN) and John Thune (R-SD) that currently has 32 co-sponsors.


On June 26, the Senate approved the bill by a vote of 92 - 6 and sent it to the President for signing.


The full Senate is likely to consider the bill sometime in July -- maybe.


As part of the completed fiscal year 2008/2009 Supplemental Appropriations to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Congress tacked on a waiver to the 1994 Glenn amendment, an amendment which limited the United States' ability to provide financial assistance to North Korea for dismantlement of its nuclear weapons program. The waiver was an arcane but crucial step in enabling further progress to be made on removing nuclear materials and shutting down North Korea's Yongbyon reactor. Up until now, the Glenn amendment had hindered the Department of Energy from funding work to verify and assist North Korea in disabling and dismantling its nuclear weapons programs.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

McCain vs. Obama on National Security Issues

The Center’s Executive Director, John Isaacs, put together a terrific analysis which compares and contrasts Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama's positions on Iraq, Iran, nuclear weapons, missile defense, North Korea, and others. Excerpted below are the relevant portions; the full analysis can be found here.

The two major presidential candidates left standing would make major changes to the national security and foreign policies carried out by the George W. Bush administration over the last seven years. Not surprisingly, exactly what kind of changes depends on who ends up on the steps of Capitol Hill taking the oath of office in January 2009 -- Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) or Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL).

The following analysis is based on several indicators: the candidates' U.S. Senate voting records; their national security platforms as laid out in articles, op-eds and speeches; and their responses to queries in debates, public appearances and questionnaires. Although campaign pledges and voting records do not always accurately translate into actual policy, they can provide important clues as to the future president's inclinations.


President Bush has displayed unremitting hostility toward the radical regime dominating Iran, a country that U.S. intelligence sources report had previously been pursuing a nuclear weapons program. He branded Iran part of the "axis of evil" and promoted regime change as the preferred U.S. policy. With a few limited exceptions, the United States under Bush has refused to talk directly with Iran.

McCain has been clear about his position on Iran. In February 2008, he told an audience: "I intend to make unmistakably clear to Iran we will not permit a government that espouses the destruction of the State of Israel as its fondest wish and pledges undying enmity to the United States to possess the weapons to advance their malevolent ambitions." He also rejects "unconditional dialogues" with Iran.

Obama has delivered messages on Iran that were more mixed. He has said "The danger from Iran is grave, it is real, and my goal will be to eliminate this threat." In a June 2008 speech to the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, he refused to take the military option against Iran off the table: "I will always keep the threat of military action on the table to defend our security and our ally Israel. Sometimes there are no alternatives to confrontation. But that only makes diplomacy more important. If we must use military force, we are more likely to succeed, and will have far greater support at home and abroad, if we have exhausted our diplomatic efforts."

In the same speech, however, Obama promised: "aggressive, principled diplomacy without self-defeating preconditions, but with a clear-eyed understanding of our interests." He has said also that it "would be a profound mistake for us to initiate a war with Iran" and condemned the administration's "saber-rattling" on Iran. Obama missed a vote on a controversial amendment offered by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Lieberman that proposed labeling Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. Obama called the amendment a repeat of the mistakes that led to war in Iraq; however, he had cosponsored an earlier bill declaring the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization.


World free of nuclear weapons: In 2007, a bipartisan group of senior and former government officials called for moving toward a "world free of nuclear weapons." In their article by that name, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State George Shultz, former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA) and former Secretary of Defense William Perry urged the United States to lead an international effort to rethink traditional deterrence, reduce nuclear weapon stockpiles and take other steps toward the longer term goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.

Obama has been clear in his support of their effort. In response to a Council for a Livable World questionnaire, he promised: "As president, I will take the lead to work for a world in which the roles and risks of nuclear weapons can be reduced and ultimately eliminated."

In a May 2008 speech, McCain also endorsed the concept: "A quarter of a century ago, President Ronald Reagan declared, 'our dream is to see the day when nuclear weapons will be banished from the face of the Earth.' That is my dream, too."

New nuclear weapons: The Bush administration has put forward proposals to build a new generation of nuclear weapons; however, these plans might be seen as conflicting with U.S. efforts to restrain other states' nuclear ambitions. McCain has supported the proposed new nuclear weapons programs. In four key Senate votes from 2003 to 2005, McCain voted to proceed with the work on such weapons. But in his May 2008 speech, he declared: "I would cancel all further work on the so-called Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, a weapon that does not make strategic or political sense." McCain did not express an opinion on another new nuclear weapons program, the Reliable Replacement Warhead. Obama, only in the Senate for the fourth vote, opposed the new weapons. He has not been categorical in response to the Council for a Livable World's queries about his position on new nuclear weapons, responding that he did not support "a premature decision to produce the [Reliable Replacement Warhead]."

Nuclear Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT): One of the longest sought goals of the nuclear age has been a global ban on all nuclear test explosions as an important step to advance nuclear nonproliferation. In 1996, after 50 years of work, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was signed and opened for ratification. However, three years later, the Senate decisively rejected the treaty. Although the United States has not conducted a nuclear test explosion since 1992, the Bush administration has not put the treaty forward for a new vote.

McCain voted against the treaty, stating at the time: "The viability of our nuclear deterrent is too central to our national security to rush approval of a treaty that cannot be verified and that will facilitate the decline of that deterrent." More recently, McCain has committed to continuing the moratorium on nuclear weapons testing that has existed since 1992, and promised to take "another look" at the test ban treaty. Although Obama was not in the Senate at the time of the 1999 vote, he has promised to make the test ban treaty a priority of his first term in office and pledged to work to rebuild bipartisan support for the treaty.

Nuclear non-proliferation: Efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons to additional countries have faltered during the Bush administration. McCain has promised expanded proliferation efforts, increasing funding for American non-proliferation programs, strengthening international treaties and institutions to combat proliferation, increasing funding for the International Atomic Energy Administration and negotiating a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty.

Obama has committed to securing all vulnerable nuclear weapons materials around the world within four years of taking office: "I'll lead a global effort to secure all loose nuclear materials during my first term in office." He has also promised to seek a global ban on the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons and "dramatic reductions" in nuclear weapons stockpiles and a strengthened Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.


In 2001, the Bush administration withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and since then has moved swiftly to deploy national missile defense interceptors in Alaska and California. The latest fiscal budget request for 2009 is $12.3 billion for all forms of missile defense.

McCain has declared that he "strongly supports the development and deployment of theater and national missile defenses." His votes in the Senate back up that claim: he opposed all three amendments to cut the program in 2004. In a 2001 speech to the Munich Conference on Security Policy, he advocated abandoning the ABM Treaty.

Obama has been critical of the Bush missile defense plans: "The Bush Administration has in the past exaggerated missile defense capabilities and rushed deployments for political purposes." Obama voted for an amendment offered by Sen. Carl Levin in 2005 (the last major vote on missile defense) while McCain missed the vote. Obama has not indicated plans for missile defense upon assuming the presidency.

Missile defense site in Europe: McCain has also been clear in his support for a third missile defense site in Europe that is bitterly opposed by Russia. Congress cut a portion of the funding for the program in 2007 in advance of approval from the two Central European countries. In an October 2007 debate, McCain said: "I don't care what [President Vladimir Putin's] objections are to it." He has also described the system as a "hedge against potential threats" from Russia and China.

Obama has been less clear what he would do with the Bush proposal, but indicated that he would not allow the program "to divide 'new Europe' and 'old Europe.'" He also suggested that: "If we can responsibly deploy missile defenses that would protect us and our allies, we should -- but only when the system works."


During the last seven years, it is believed that North Korea reprocessed enough plutonium for about six to ten nuclear weapons. In 2006, North Korea became the ninth country in the world to test a nuclear weapon. In the last 12 months, negotiations among six countries -- the six-party talks including the United States, North Korea, Russia, China, Japan and South Korea – produced an agreement where North Korea would disable its facility and provide a full declaration of its nuclear sites and activities. In exchange, the United States would beging the process of removing North Korea from the terrorist list, easing economic sanctions and moving toward normalization of U.S.-North Korea and Japan-North Korea relations.

After President Bush announced on June 26 that North Korea would be taken off the state-sponsored terrorism list in response to North Korea's declaration of its nuclear program, Obama called the move "a step forward." He went on to say: "We should continue to pursue the kind of direct and aggressive diplomacy with North Korea that can yield results. The objective must be clear: the complete and verifiable elimination of North Korea's nuclear weapons programs."

McCain was a bit less effusive, calling the announcement "a modest step forward." He added: "Our goal has been the full, permanent and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula . . . If we are unable to fully verify the declaration submitted today and if I am not satisfied with the verification mechanisms developed, I would not support the easing of sanctions on North Korea."


U.S.-India nuclear deal: McCain and Obama both voted for the U.S.-India nuclear deal in 2006, but Obama also voted for amendments to condition the deal on India ending military cooperation with Iran and a presidential certification that nuclear cooperation with India will not aid India in making more nuclear weapons. McCain continues to endorse the treaty "as a means of strengthening our relationship with the world's largest democracy, and further involving India in the fight against proliferation."