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Problems and non-problems

By Michael J. Smith on Monday April 12, 2010 02:20 PM

This is a problem:

But this is not:

I know, I know, it's hard to get all these towelheads straight. But you can always count on the New York Times to explain -- there are towelheads, and then there are towelheads:

Leaders Gather for Nuclear Talks as New Threat Is Seen

WASHINGTON — Three months ago, American intelligence officials examining satellite photographs of Pakistani nuclear facilities saw the first wisps of steam from the cooling towers of a new nuclear reactor.....

The Pakistanis insist that they have no choice. A nuclear deal that India signed with the United States during the Bush administration ended a long moratorium on providing India with the fuel and technology for desperately needed nuclear power plants.

Now, as critics of the arrangement point out, the agreement frees up older facilities that India can devote to making its own new generation of weapons....

Mr. Obama met with the leaders of India and Pakistan on Sunday, a day ahead of a two-day Washington gathering with 47 nations devoted to the question of how to keep nuclear materials out of the hands of terrorists.... this meeting has quite limited goals: seeking ways to better secure existing supplies of bomb-usable plutonium and highly enriched uranium. The problem that India and Pakistan represent... is deliberately not on the agenda.

“President Obama is focusing high-level attention on the threat that already exists out there, and that’s tremendously important,” said Sam Nunn... "the fact is that new production adds greatly to the problem.”

Nowhere is that truer than Pakistan, where two Taliban insurgencies and Al Qaeda coexist with the world’s fastest-growing nuclear arsenal. According to a senior American official, Mr. Obama used his private meeting Sunday afternoon with Yousaf Raza Gilani, Pakistan’s newly empowered prime minister, to “express disappointment” that Pakistan is blocking the opening of negotiations on a treaty that would halt production of new nuclear material around the world.

Experts say accelerated production in Pakistan translates into much increased risk.

“The challenges are getting greater — the increasing extremism, the increasing instability, the increasing material,” said Rolf Mowatt-Larssen of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, who as a C.I.A. officer and then head of the Energy Department’s intelligence unit ran much of the effort to understand Al Qaeda’s nuclear ambitions.

“That’s going to complicate efforts to make sure nothing leaks,” he said. “The trends mean the Pakistani authorities have a greater challenge.”

Few subjects are more delicate in Washington.

(There are one or two, though):

The Times continues:

India... is making new weapons-grade plutonium, in plants exempted under the agreement with the Bush administration from inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency. (Neither Pakistan nor India has signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.)

The Obama administration has endorsed the Bush-era agreement. Last month, the White House took the next step, approving an accord that allows India to build two new reprocessing plants. While that fuel is for civilian use, critics say it frees older plants to make weapons fuel.

“The Indian relationship is a very important one,” said Mr. Nunn, who influenced Mr. Obama’s decision to endorse a goal of ridding the world of nuclear weapons. But he said that during the Bush years, “I would have insisted that we negotiate to stop their production of weapons fuel....”

"During the Bush years", he would have "insisted". But now -- well, these are no longer the Bush years. And so presumably there will be no "insistence", impotent as it would undoubtedly be, from Mr Nunn.

You can't make this stuff up. Allow me to repeat:

“The challenges are getting greater — the increasing extremism, the increasing instability, the increasing material,” said Rolf Mowatt-Larssen of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, who [was] a C.I.A. officer and then head of the Energy Department’s intelligence unit...
Wild, isn't it? The Ivy/Langley connection is very old news, of course -- in fact, it was never news -- but here we have the Times advertising it as a credential.

Comments (3)


not sure why this potential arsenal counting
gets at the source of the "threat"
to humanity
as much as it diverts it

i must admit the notion
a loose nuke in non state players' hands
might end up in a container yard
some where coastal and densely populated
here in liberty land
was a nice retro fit
to what was becoming
an ever more remote
and ridiculous

the earth's big nations
and their millions of citizen critters
faced a day of foreign state delivered
mutually assured
nuclear atonement

i really hope some fabricated
stolen paki nuke story
introduced into our thinking water
by the langley ghost riders

puts yellow cake to shame

i've always felt

a good scare story is the cheapest form
of "defense " spending

My pops may be the only person I have known who was Langley via Coast Guard via high school.


Musta been a helluva guy, back then. But times have changed. The Quality background is still common but not to be taken for granted. Some of 'em are downright suburban.

By the way, the Coasties are still a fine bunch, in my experience, even though every effort has been made, of late, to turn them into cops. I speak here as a hapless incompetent sailor who has attracted the Coasties' attention from time to time. I love how they unfailingly address you as "captain", even after you've done something incredibly stupid.

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