Lack of cooperation by other countries, not domestic budgetary constraints, poses the greatest obstacle to President Obama’s goal of securing the world’s loose nuclear materials, a senior U.S. defense official said here on Friday (see GSN, June 3).
"We’re not funding limited on this stuff, but we are limited by our ability to engage in some of what I call the ‘hard cases,’ "according to John Harvey, principal deputy to the assistant Defense secretary for nuclear and chemical and biological defense programs.
The hard cases are the usual suspects plus a couple that normally escape scrutiny.
Harvey specifically mentioned North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, China and India as nations where it has proven difficult to work jointly to lock down fissile materials. Washington has long had antagonistic relations with Pyongyang and Tehran, while nuclear security is considered a sovereign matter in Beijing and Islamabad.
Wow, sovereigns who operate in their own perceived best interest. That perceived best interest thing is why we won’t get to global zero until we have more capable and destructive weapons than nuclear weapons.
He added that issues have also arisen in talks with allies, including securing plutonium intended for use in mixed-oxide fuel, a potential U.S. energy source that blends the fissile material with uranium. He did not cite specific countries.
As the saying goes when an unfavorable sailing wind exists, the pessimist complains, the optimist thinks it will get better, and the realist adjusts his sails.
Which position best reflects the USG’s attitude?