Global mass surveillance: We cannot say we were not warned

Yesterday I came across this report to the European Parliament (‘An appraisal of technologies of political control’). According to the report, ‘[w]ithin Europe, all email, telephone and fax communications are routinely intercepted by the United States National Security Agency, transferring all target information from the European mainland via the strategic hub of London then by Satellite to Fort Meade in Maryland via the crucial hub at Menwith Hill in the North York Moors of the UK’ (p. 19). The date? 6 January 1998. In light of the recent disclosures, it seems that the warning contained in the report fell on deaf ears.

Research Assistants for my New Book Project

As I am now working on my new book on Iran in earnest, I will be looking for some able research assistance. I already have one research assistant here at Alabama, hard at work. But there are a couple of chapters in the book that would be significantly aided in their progress through the efforts of a small team of researchers assisting me, for example, in compiling case studies of noncompliance with IAEA safeguards, and information on the sanctions program on Iran.

I have in mind for this role graduate level students or young researchers, who are interested in international nuclear law.

If anyone out in reader land would be interested in joining this small team of research assistants, please email me directly at   I would ask colleagues to please send this request for interest to students and student listserves you know of, where interested students may view it.  

In return for the effort of research assistants, I can offer complimentary mention in the acknowledgments section of the book, letters of recommendation if desired, and my appreciation.

Thanks to all in advance.

Nuclear Chickens Come Home to Roost in South Asia

I was just reading this new report about an agreement between Pakistan and China, under which China will provide two new nuclear reactors to Pakistan over the next few years. China argues that such cooperation with Pakistan is “grandfathered in” to China’s accession to the NSG in 2004. But the other very clear undercurrent of this deal is China’s sense of freedom to act in a way that is arguably in disharmony with NSG standards, because of the 2005 U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement, for which the US received a waiver from the NSG.

Critics, including myself, have decried the US-India deal as representing a hugely significant undermining of the spirit of the NPT. India, like Pakistan, possesses nuclear weapons and is not a member of the NPT.  The US-India nuclear cooperation deal effectively gives to India, which developed nuclear weapons outside the NPT, the same benefits of civilian nuclear cooperation that every Non-nuclear Weapon State member understood they had to sign the NPT, and forego a nuclear weapons program, to secure from the US and other supplier states. Giving this cooperation to India without India’s similar commitment to forego a nuclear weapons program, goes right to the heart of the grand bargain of the NPT, and makes NPT NNWS question what they are really getting in return for their NPT commitments.

Having signed this agreement with India, the US now has very little moral high ground on which to stand to criticize China’s civilian nuclear cooperation with Pakistan. China knows this, and knows that this fact will insulate it from any meaningful criticism or compliance pressure with regard to NSG rules.

New Paper by Mark Hibbs on the Vietnam/US 123 Agreement

This is an excellent new paper by Mark Hibbs on the recent signing of a 123 agreement between the US and Vietnam.  As Mark explains, this new 123 agreement includes a political understanding that Vietnam will not pursue enrichment or reprocessing activities (ENR), but does not make this understanding a legally binding obligation. Mark argues that the US policy of flexibility in approaching the negotiation of new 123 agreements, and not requiring what has come to be known as the “gold standard” of a legally binding obligation not to pursue ENR activities, is prudent and should continue. I am in complete agreement with Mark on this point, for the reasons he well explains.  Mark has long been one of the most sensible commentators on this issue.

VERTIC Paper on the IAEA GC Safeguards Resolution

This paper by Sonia Drobysz and Hassan Elbahtimy of VERTIC is the best review and analysis of the IAEA General Conference deliberations, and ultimate action, on the annual safeguards resolution last month that I’ve seen. I recommend it highly. It explains the concerns that many states have about the IAEA DG’s new state level concept for safeguards.  I have given my own analysis of the most recent IAEA DG state level concept report previously here, which includes these same concerns. I’m glad to see that these concerns persuaded so many states to object to inclusion of language regarding the state level concept in the safeguards resolution.

Nuclear Weapons Bibliography

Nuclear Weapons bibliography

I wanted to bring readers’ attention to the attached nuclear weapons bibliography, compiled by friend of ACL Patrick O’Donnell, who is an adjunct faculty member of the Philosophy Department at Santa Barbara City College, and who blogs over at Ratio Juris.  The bibliography is a really useful compilation of publications on “Development, Detonation, Deterrence & Disarmament” as it says. Thanks to Patrick for forwarding it.

Conference in Naples

I would like to bring to our readers’ attention this conference on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation that is taking place at the end of this week in Naples. I will be one of the discussants in the first session. Come if you can!