Monday, 16 December 2019
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Up-to-the-minute perspectives on defence, security and peace
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existential threats

By Martin Groarke

According to a report by the Nuclear Threat Initiative, scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico are in the process of developing 'detailed, virtual models of nuclear reactor facilities to help provide more true-to-life training to inspectors' whose job it is to monitor such sites for the illicit diversion—to non-peaceful purposes— of nuclear material. Reportedly involving the same computer tools as those used in the production of today's animated films, the team at Los Alamos have already built a three-dimensional model of a reactor in Idaho, including small details such as wiring, warning markers and radiation indicators. The system has been provided to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and, according to Kelly Michel, the official in charge of the project, has already helped IAEA safeguards officials to notably improve their inspection test scores.

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James Wood Forsyth Jr. and B. Chance Saltzman

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan dominate security discourse. With thousands of lives lost and billions of dollars spent, few issues merit more attention. Yet it is worthwhile to remember that these wars, like all wars, will end. And when they do, policy makers will come to terms with a harsh, albeit forgotten, reality: The ruling of distant peoples, as George Kennan so aptly put it, is not "our dish." TheUnited States should steer clear of "an acceptance of any sort of paternalistic responsibility to anyone be it in the form of military occupation, if we can possibly avoid it, or for any period longer than is absolutely necessary." Simply put, intervention might have been our fate, but it should not be our policy.

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By Tom French

With the recent apparent concessions by the Iranian government over death by stoning in the face of western pressure, this seeming victory for 'soft power', begs the question whether similar policies might work on North Korea (DPRK).

The EU seems to think so, having recently passed a resolution on human rights in North Korea, which included the appointment of a special representative and calls on the DPRK to 'abolish the death penalty and end to the ongoing grave, widespread and systematic human rights violations, public executions and extra-judicial executions'.

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By Adam Lyons

At a time when economic constraints are unleashed across broad areas of public spending, it is right that defence should receive its share of the pain. However, during a time of conflict in Afghanistan, it is essential that defence should not bear the brunt of the cuts that are to come, as continued operations have added unforeseen, but necessary strain to the defence budget. Neither should the outcome of the Strategic Defence and Security Review be overwhelmingly influenced by that conflict. Afghanistan is a current priority. Consequently there is a danger that this will result in an overwhelming focus upon counter-insurgency operations, to the detriment of future operational effectiveness. Where, and in what form future conflicts shall take, cannot be accurately predicted. It is vital, therefore, that the United Kingdom's armed forces should remain effective, whilst becoming increasingly economical. To abscond from its world role and relegate itself from the league of true blue-water military powers, for mere short-term savings, would be devastating for British security and global influence. The maintenance of a modern, technological force is becoming increasingly expensive to the point where elements have become unaffordable. As coalition warfare has become the norm, some capabilities and assets can be dispensed with. A complete overhaul of the defence procurement budget is also needed to make it more affordable and effective. Yet, significant investment in air, land and sea projects must be continued to meet the unforeseen challenges of the future.

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