What’s next on nonproliferation and international security, in Washington and around the globe.
— Sept. 30: Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter will be all about India — at least for an hour. He’s scheduled to dish about U.S.-India military cooperation and defense trade at the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank with strong ties to President Obama. Carter has been steering the Pentagon’s efforts to secure a stronger military partnership with the nation that has both a booming economy and history of nuclear-weapons testing. His talk is timely, as President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were slated to meet at the White House on Sept. 27.
— Sept. 30: Another high-profile Ashton — Catherine Ashton, high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy and vice president of the European Commission — is poised to address the Wilson Center in Washington. Ashton has been a key figure in setting up potential multi-nation talks with Iran about its nuclear-development efforts — which the Middle Eastern nation insists are peaceful in nature, yet Western powers fear are aimed at developing atomic weapons. The think tank says Ashton will delve into issues the U.N. General Assembly recently addressed — namely Iran and Syria ““ as well as her work related to the Balkans, Egypt and Somalia. The Wilson Center, under the leadership of former Democratic congresswoman Jane Harman, is using the event to make the start of a new Global Europe program that, is says, focuses on “Europe’s external challenges and opportunities.”
— Sept. 30: Can the United States and Russia move past mutual nuclear deterrence? The Brookings Institution’s Arms Control Initiative is teaming up with Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs for an event (at the Washington think tank’s office) that will tackle this and related, thorny issues regarding post-Cold War U.S.-Russian relations. A trio of panelists — Gary Samore, executive director for Research at the Belfer Center, William Tobey, senior fellow at the Belfer Center, and Pavel Zolotarev, deputy director of the Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, or ISKRAN — will chat about a new report they wrote, dubbed “Transcending Mutual Deterrence in the U.S.-Russian Relationship.”
— Sept. 30-Oct. 1: The much-talked-about U.N. General Assembly will wrap up its work, but not before hearing from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is slated to be the final speaker at the yearly gathering of countries. His speech — which will be webcast — is expected to include a repeated call for Iran to cease its uranium-enrichment activities. All eyes have been on the U.N. Security Council, which on Sept. 26 agreed on a resolution requiring Syria to eliminate its chemical weapons. The deal, notably, does not include immediate penalties (such as U.S. military strikes) if President Bashar Assad does not comply. In recent days the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons were hashing out how to delineate their roles in inspecting and ultimately eliminating Syria’s newly declared chemical arms.
— Sept. 30-Oct. 1: Disarmament experts from Europe and beyond will gather at the second EU Non-proliferation and Disarmament Conference in Brussels. Topics for the three plenary sessions will be “strengthening the non-proliferation and disarmament regime,” “addressing non-proliferation and disarmament in the Middle East” and “EU non-proliferation policy and implementation.” The gathering — arranged by the EU Non-proliferation Consortium and the International Institute for Strategic Studies — is sure to touch on a stalled U.N. effort to convene a conference about designating the Middle East as a weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone.
Oct. 1: Waste Confidence. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission plans to meet in Rockville, Md., to discuss and hear from the public about its proposed changes to its regulations related to the environmental impacts of indefinitely storing spent nuclear fuel at nuclear-power plants. So-called waste confidence has been a controversial topic. The NRC says the meeting will “provide an opportunity for interested parties to provide comments on the Waste Confidence Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (DGEIS) and proposed rule,” starting with a “brief” staff presentation before a public-comment period.
Oct. 2: Nine experts will gather to discuss the book “Strategic Asia 2013-14: Asia in the Second Nuclear Age” at George Washington University in the nation’s capital. The tome “examines the role of nuclear weapons in the grand strategies of key Asian states and assesses the impact of these capabilities — both established and latent — on regional and international stability,” according to The National Bureau of Asian Research. The 13th annual volume of the book reflects updated assessments of economic, political and military trends. The chapters, written by varied experts, tackle topics such as Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Oct. 4: Harvard Yard will be the location of the seminar “Steps to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism: Recommendations Based on the U.S.-Russia Joint Threat Assessment.” The event, at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Mass., will look at a new report from the Belfer Center and ISKRAN. The two organizations published the “U.S.-Russia Joint Threat Assessment on Nuclear Terrorism” in 2011. Their new report, to be presented at this seminar, “analyzes the existing framework for action, identifies gaps and deficiencies, and makes specific recommendations for improvement of nuclear security,” organizers say.
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President Obama has said he’ll nominate John King to fill out the last few months of Obama’s presidency as Secretary of Education. King has been in an acting secretary role since Arne Duncan stepped down in December. The White House is pressuring the Senate to act quickly on the nomination.
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House Speaker Paul Ryan today is trying to convince his large but divided conference that they need to pass a budget under regular order. “Conservatives are revolting against higher top-line spending levels negotiated last fall by President Obama and Ryan’s predecessor, then-Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). GOP centrists are digging in on the other side, pledging to kill any budget that deviates from the two-year, bipartisan budget deal.” Ryan’s three options are to lower the budget numbers to appease the Freedom Caucus, “deem” a budget and move on to the appropriations process, or “preserve Obama-Boehner levels, but seek savings elsewhere.”
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Bernie Sanders has closed to within seven points of Hillary Clinton in a new Morning Consult survey. Clinton leads 46%-39%. Consistent with the New Hampshire voting results, Clinton does best with retirees, while Sanders leads by 20 percentage points among those under 30. On the Republican side, Donald Trump is far ahead with 44% support. Trailing by a huge margin are Ted Cruz (17%), Ben Carson (10%) and Marco Rubio (10%).