By Andrew Carpenter and Ulrika Grufman
(For more information on this feature, see here.)
And this week’s in the weeds conceptual articles on nuclear weapons and related issues include…
Exploring the Maze: Counter-proliferation Intelligence
Crawford, M., 2011. Exploring the Maze: Counter-proliferation Intelligence, Survival. 53:2, 2011, Spring 2011. pp.131-158.
“Since 9/11 there has been minimal political and public tolerance in the United States and some other Western countries for failures of pre-emptive intelligence affecting homeland security. This has created a strong political intelligence-community bias in favour of worst-case scenarios.”(p 138)
Michael Crawford examines the problems that surround gathering intelligence for tracking foreign weapon of mass destruction programs. A major difficulty stems from the wide range of backgrounds that are required to fully analyze WMD programs. WMD programs are often times the most closely guarded of state secrets. It becomes very difficult to for intelligence agencies to gain access to these programs. Crawford highlights the role that the intelligence failures of the past such as the failure to prevent 9/11 have had on intelligence agencies. As a result of these failures, many intelligence analysts have created a culture of immediately moving towards the worst case scenario estimates. These scenarios, when coupled with WMD programs can often yield overhyped results. Crawford concludes that intelligence agencies should learn from past successes and failures to improve the capability of developing proliferation intelligence.
Saddam, Israel, and the Bomb – Nuclear Alarmism Justified?
Brands, H. & Palkki, D., 2011. Saddam, Israel, and the Bomb – Nuclear Alarmism Justified? International Security. 36:1, Summer 2011. pp. 133-166.
“In short, Saddam expected that an unconventional arsenal would permit Iraq to achieve a conventional victory, thereby weakening Israel geopolitically and making him a hero to the Arab world.”(p 135)
By using previously classified information made accessible by the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, Brands and Palkki explore Baathist Iraq’s interest in acquiring nuclear weapons. Through these documents they show that Hussein’s threats against Israel were not merely rhetorical. Instead they assert that he was convinced that Israel had to be dealt with militarily. The authors furthermore argue that Hussein not only wanted nuclear weapons as a deterrent against Israel. Instead, Hussein believed that the threat of a nuclear war between Iraq and Israel could force Israel into a conventional war. He was convinced that Iraq’s conventional military was superior and he thus hoped that his country could win back territory lost to Israel. Brands and Hagan’s argument goes against mainstream beliefs that states acquire nuclear weapons as a defensive deterrent. They conclude by stating that in the case off Iraq it was a good thing that the international community was concerned about the country’s interest in nuclear weapons.
Managing the Consequences of Nuclear Terrorism
Pandza, J. 2011. Managing the Consequences of Nuclear Terrorism. Survival. 53:5, Autumn 2011. pp. 129-142.
“The consequences of a nuclear terrorist attack would be horrific, and even a limited radiological incident could cause substantial disruption. Measures to prevent such an event should continue to receive the highest priority; but if prevention fails, decreasing a state’s vulnerability to the impact of an attack would make the public more secure.”(p 138)
Pandza argues that the international effort to counter nuclear terrorism has only focused on prevention. He urges policy makers to also turn their focus to being prepared to deal with the consequences of a potential nuclear terrorist attack. He acknowledges that prevention is very important and that it should remain important. Yet he highlights that we can never guarantee that an attack will not happen, and thus we should prepare to limit the consequences if it does. The author argues that the threat of a radiological incident is especially great. However, the damage could be substantially minimised by investing in precautionary measures such as swift responses, public communication and efficient decontamination. Moreover, if the damage can be limited then the incentive for an attack might be reduced. Pandza concludes by arguing that this issue should be given formal attention as an item on the agenda for the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit.