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"No one can solve this problem alone, but together we can change things for the better." 

– Setsuko Thurlow
Hiroshima Survivor
June 6, 2016
News Briefs

Japan Admits Secret U.S. Nuclear Pacts

Tom Z. Collina

Japan confirmed in March, after decades of denials, the existence of secret Cold War-era pacts to allow U.S. nuclear-armed ships to dock in Japanese ports in violation of Tokyo’s own national policies. The secret pacts had been revealed previously in Washington, but Japanese leaders had continued to deny their existence.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s government opened an investigation of the secret agreements shortly after taking office in September 2009. The victory by Hatoyama’s Democratic Party of Japan ended the almost unbroken 54-year reign of the Liberal Democratic Party last year.

“It is regrettable that such facts were not disclosed to the public for such a long time, even after the end of the Cold War,” Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada told reporters in Tokyo March 9. “This is about becoming a government that discloses more information and is more truthful.”

Okada said exposing the pacts would not change Japan’s postwar policy of not making or owning nuclear weapons or allowing their entry into Japanese ports. He added the agreements were no longer needed because U.S. ships no longer carry nuclear weapons.

The investigation committee’s report said it had not found a formal signed treaty that allowed U.S. nuclear-armed warships into Japanese ports. Instead, the report said there had been an unspoken understanding with Washington that Tokyo would not ask whether U.S. ships had nuclear weapons on board.


 

More North Korean Arms Intercepted

Peter Crail

South Africa intercepted smuggled North Korean tank components last November, Pretoria reported to a UN sanctions committee at the end of February. In Feb. 24 testimony to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that the tank parts were destined for the Republic of Congo. The components were carried in two containers said to contain spare bulldozer parts, the Associated Press reported Feb. 25.

The attempted North Korean arms transfer joins a series of UN sanctions violations by Pyongyang uncovered in the nine months since a UN arms embargo was tightened last June. States with evidence of sanctions violations are required to report them to a UN Security Council committee established to monitor the sanctions. A Jan. 18 report by the committee indicated that it received reports on four cases of suspected violations by North Korea last year.

Known cases include the interception of arms caches by Thailand last December and the United Arab Emirates last August. Both shipments contained small arms, light weapons, and munitions bound for Iran. (See ACT, January/February 2010.)

The United States and its allies maintain that the sanctions have helped to put economic pressure on North Korea, which relies largely on sales of military equipment for foreign currency.


 

U.S. Releases Cybersecurity Details

Michael Ashby

The White House released for the first time unclassified details of the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI) March 2. Launched in January 2008 by the Bush administration, the CNCI details a number of initiatives designed to increase the security of public and private U.S. computer networks.

In a March 15 interview, James Lewis, director of the technology and public policy program and senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the release of CNCI is “a signal that the United States is taking a new approach to cybersecurity.” Lewis, who previously worked on national-security and technology issues for the U.S. government, added that the declassification of parts of the CNCI is a necessary step to include the private sector.

Part of the CNCI is “aimed at building an approach to cyber defense strategy that deters interference and attack in cyberspace…and developing appropriate responses for both state and non-state actors.” That statement appears to be the first acknowledgment by the Obama administration that it will develop a deterrence strategy in cyberspace.

According to Lewis, “[A] lot of the broad questions haven’t been wrestled to the ground: Who authorizes [the use of a U.S. offensive response]? When to use it? What will be its characteristics?”

The primary cyberthreats facing the United States come from China and Russia, Lewis said. Cyberattacks originating in those countries typically cannot be traced to the governments, but, because China and Russia have put a great deal of effort into monitoring communications, it is “implausible” that they “have not actively encouraged cybercrime,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the CNCI “faces challenges if it is to fully achieve its objectives related to securing federal information systems.” In a March 2010 report, the GAO said the CNCI should do a better job of defining roles and responsibilities, establish “measures of effectiveness,” and determine “an appropriate level of transparency.” On the last point, the report said, “Few of the elements of CNCI have been made public, and the rationale for classifying related information remains unclear, hindering coordination with private sector entities and accountability to the public.”


 

Russia, India Reach Arms Sale Agreements

Caitlin Taber

During Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s March 12 visit to India to meet with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Moscow and New Delhi agreed on several arms sales, according to news reports. Most notably, the visit concluded six years of negotiations for the sale of the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov to India, the reports said.

Media reports on the sale put the total value at $2.3 billion. Vadim Kozyulin, director of the conventional arms program at the nongovernmental PIRCenter in Moscow, said Putin has signed the agreement but that the final amount of the sale has yet to be disclosed.

The estimated price is significantly higher than the original $1.5 billion price tag Russia initially gave India in 2004, as reported by the U.S. Congressional Research Service. The price increase was a source of contention throughout the talks.

Negotiations reportedly are still under way to complete the sale of 29 MiG-29 fighter jets. According to the news reports and Kozyulin, that part of the package is worth about $1.5 billion. A contract for about 40 Su-30MKI fighter jets is also expected to be concluded in 2010, Kozyulin said.

In addition, Russia is currently testing the Akula-II class Nerpa nuclear-powered submarine for a possible lease to India later this year, Kozyulin said.