Monthly Archives: November 2008

Iskander, the Giraffe

_I’m not making this up._

*Kaliningrad Zoo giraffe nearly christened after Russian missile system.*

In response to a contest held by the Kaliningrad Zoo administration to name a baby giraffe, the city residents proposed to call it Iskander after the Russian missile system. The opinions were divided, Zoo staff said.

A RIA Novosti video is “available here”:

Note to Dennis Ross…Some Logic, Please

Whatever one thinks about Iran, this bit from D Ross makes no sense:

bq. We need to offer political, economic and security benefits to Tehran, on the condition that *Iran change its behavior not just on nukes but on terrorism* as well. Sticks will show Iran what it stands to lose by going nuclear; carrots will show its leaders what they would gain by moderating their behavior.

Leaving aside the fact that neither Iran nor the intelligence community say that Tehran is going nuclear, conditioning “carrots”: (God, please kill that stupid metaphor) on terrorism does not show Iran what it will gain if it complies with the United States’ nuclear demands but does nothing on terrorism.

Syria Nuclear Evidence Destruction

I agree that the United States may be right to be concerned about “possible Syrian efforts”: to sanitize sites that may (or may have been) nuclear-related. But this whole thing would be easier to sort out if the Israelis hadn’t blown up the reactor-box thing in the first place.

Talking Turkey w/Kislyak

Just in time for T-giving break, ACA posted the “much-anticipated interview”: with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. In addition to the predictable discussion of re-starting START and missile defense issues (_yawn! just kidding_), the interview has some CFE and 123 wonkage.

Quite interesting is Kislyak’s response to an ACA prompt on the need for Russia to provide assurances to U.S. policymakers on Moscow’s supply of conventional weapons to Tehran:

bq. When it comes to the defense supplies you seem to be referring to, first of all, there are no inconsistencies with our obligations or the resolutions of the Security Council because we do show restraint, and whatever we do is purely defensive and *for deterrence*. It is our policy, and it is going to be reportable to the Russian parliament and Russian people and not anybody else. If the United States is interested in working with us, we will be more than ready to work, but it needs to be based on mutual respect and the mutual respect of interests.

That “d-word” again… Why use it at all?

Kazakhstan Goes For CANWFZ

The Kazakhstani parliament ratified the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone treaty today, according to “press reports ^ru^”: As I “noted last week”:, Kazakhstan was the last remaining state out of the CANWFZ five (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) that needed to ratify.

This baby could still use some “U.S. support”:

Rose G. on U.S.-Russian Iran Coop

In the fresh issue of _Pro et Contra_, Rose Gottemoeller has an amazing article that explores possible avenues for engagement between Russia and the United States on Iran. Not that my bias matters, but I wholeheartedly agree with Rose’s interpretation of Russian policy on Iran and do see that a reintroduction of the “Angarsk proposal”: to the Iranians might prove useful.

I wanted to highlight the article -because I nodded in agreement about a million times while reading it- because it argues that the 1972 “*Agreement Between the Government of The United States of America and the Government of The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Prevention of Incidents On and Over the High Seas*”: (INCSEA) could prove to be a useful venue for U.S.-Russian joint efforts to engage the Iranians and, as such, would also serve to buttress U.S.-Russian relations.

INCSEA regulates dangerous maneuvers at sea and restricts other forms of harassment such as shining search lights onto the bridges of vessels, or shooting flares at them. It also provides for increased communication at sea—including advanced notification of naval exercises, and regular consultations and information exchanges between the navies.

*Naval incidents have been precisely an area of sharp tension between the United States and Iran for many years, in the Persian Gulf and Straits of Hormuz*. In January 2008, for example, U.S. media reported that Iranian speed boats were threatening to ram U.S. naval vessels, and were even moving toward them at high speed. The United States has not been alone in tangling with the Iranian navy. The previous year, the Iranians went so far as to seize the crew of a British naval vessel, holding them for nearly a week before their release.

Because naval incidents provide so much in the way of publicity for the Iranian regime, *the Iranians may have no interest in engaging in an “incidents at sea” negotiation*. However, they might be interested, in the first instance, in *understanding* how the United States and Russia have been able to cooperate in this area. The U.S. and Russia could develop a joint briefing based on the history of the agreement’s implementation, emphasizing each of the categories covered—dangerous maneuvers, harassment, pre-notification of actions at sea, and information exchanges. They could also *talk about the procedures developed for implementation*, and in particular, the *routine process of annual review*.


With the Iranians, the *first incentive for joining the discussions might be the legitimizing function of engagement with high-level interlocutors*, the United States and Russia. In the end, however, the *common-sense, low-key approach of the agreement might also prove attractive*, leading to a negotiation that could have some real benefits to security in the Persian Gulf, raising confidence levels among all participants in the negotiations with Iran. Eventually, such negotiations, if they lead to an agreement, could have a broader impact on security in the region.

As far as the United States and Russia are concerned, the very fact that the *INCSEA agreement is such a routine success of Cold War diplomacy may enable both countries to use it as a mechanism for joint cooperation on Iran, despite the hangover from the summer war in Georgia*. The naval communities involved in implementing the agreement include a wealth of experience on both sides, including many senior retired naval officers who would make responsible and serious interlocutors with the Iranians.

Anyway, the article, titled “U.S.-Russian Cooperation on Iran: Aftermath of the Summer War in Georgia,” is really worth a read. “Check it out”: (I should note that this is one example of _good_ “out of the box”: thinking.)

Iran on Those Documents

Meaning, the documents given to the IAEA about the now-famous “alleged studies” on Green Salt, RVs, etc. that the DG “keeps”: talking “about”: in his reports.

Iran sent a “letter”: in September to the IAEA which provides some interesting details about what the documents (PowerPoint presentations, in at least some cases) actually consist of. I know it’s just their word, etc., but still…

Topics for Study

I hope a lot of transition recommendations point out that the Cold War is over and that non-state actors are important. Those observations should be followed by “out of the box” thinking which rehashes existing nonproliferation ideas.

That would be great.

*Update:* A FoKerr reminds me that WMD terrorism is a threat. Someone should mention that as well, because no one’s ever thought of it.

Floating NPP Promotional Video

While checking out the snazzy “Atomenergoprom website”:, I found a must-see promotional video on floating NPPs (with corny music).

This video probably dates back to “spring 2008 or earlier”: Thus, it doesn’t reflect the fact that the floating NPP project was “shifted from Sevmash to Baltiyskiy Zavod”: in August.

I can’t seem to be able to embed it, but “check it out at this link”:

p. !/images/45.jpg!

Only One Ratification Left for CANWFZ

Keep forgetting to mention that a week ago, Tajikistan’s parliament ratified the 2006 treaty establishing a nuclear-weapon-free-zone in Central Asia (CANWFZ). Tajikistan’s action follows Turkmenistan’s ratification in April of this year. (Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan have already deposited the instruments of ratification in 2007.)

This leaves “Kazakhstan”: as the sole remaining state that needs to ratify.

For more info, check out the “CANWFZ Inventory file”: and “this backgrounder”: The CNS “NWFZ Clearinghouse”: is useful too.