What’s next on nonproliferation and international security, in Washington and around the globe.
— August 17: The Proliferation Security Initiative’s PANAMAX 2013 exercise wraps up. The multinational drill focuses on defending the Panama Canal and implementing the PSI mandate to interdict and prevent the illegal trafficking in weapons of mass destruction. As the annual exercise marks its first decade, Panama recently stopped a shipment of Soviet-vintage jets, missile-control vehicles and other Cuban military equipment being transported through the canal — amid 100,000 tons of sugar — en route to North Korea. Havana authorities say the gear was being shipped to Pyongyang for repair and eventual return to the Caribbean island, despite the imposition of sanctions against North Korea that would bar such transfers.
— August 19: U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), his chamber’s minority leader, will tour the Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant at the Blue Grass Army Depot in his home state. Once construction is complete, the facility is expected to offer a state-of-the-art capability to safely “neutralize” the 523 tons of lethal nerve and blister agents stored at Blue Grass, along with a variety of associated munitions. The federal government last month began furloughing firefighters at the base, due to budget sequestration, which triggered warnings of potentially dire safety risks. Good thing, then, that “safety is of paramount importance” at the Army depot’s construction area, according to guidance issued to reporters who will accompany McConnell, and that “flame-producing devices (such as matches or cigarette-lighters) may not be brought onto the site.”
— August 19-August 30: The United Nations-sponsored “open-ended working group” on nuclear disarmament meets at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, for its third and final session of this year. Chaired by Manuel Dengo, Costa Rica’s envoy to U.N. office in Geneva, the group is to develop proposals for international negotiations on the global abolition of atomic weapons and the maintenance of a nuclear-free world.
— August 20: The Foundation for Defense of Democracies is holding a Washington discussion on “Al-Qaida and its Affiliates: On Life Support or an Imminent Threat?” Speakers include three journalists and issue experts, who will explore whether the killing of Osama bin Laden more than two years ago has weakened al-Qaida — or if, instead, instability from Iraq to Syria to Yemen and beyond has bolstered the terrorist organization.
— August 22: As part of its “Cross-Straits Series,” the Atlantic Council is hosting a discussion called “The Coming Asian Arms Race?” The Washington event will feature Ely Ratner, the Center for a New American Security’s Asia-Pacific Security Program deputy director, and Randall Schriver, president and chief executive officer of the Project 2049 Institute, exploring mounting defense spending in the Asia-Pacific region, increased military activity by Japan and the possibility of associated tensions between China and Taiwan, North and South Korea, and other neighboring competitors.
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Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor and Democratic National Committee chair, announced he's pulling out of the running to regain the chairman's post. Dean "announced in a pre-recorded video to a conference of state Democratic chairs that he would step aside to allow for a new face to lead the party as it seeks to rebuild."
"Once again, businessman and philanthropist David M. Rubenstein has come through for the National Park Service. This time, he's pledged funding needed to modernize the Washington Monument's elevator-- but the monument will remain closed until 2019 while repairs and improvements are underway. Rubenstein's donation of between $2-3 million, announced Friday, will correct those ongoing elevator issues, which have shuttered the monument since August 17."
The National Defense Authorization Act passed the House this morning by a 375-34 vote. The bill, which heads to the Senate next week for final consideration, would fund the military to the tune of $618.7 billion, "about $3.2 billion more than the president requested for fiscal 2017. ... The White House has issued a veto threat on both the House and Senate-passed versions of the bill, but has not yet said if it will sign the compromise bill released by the conference committee this week."
Bill Schuette, Michigan's attorney general, has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the state to halt the recount of the state's voting results. The recount was elected by Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Schuette says the recount shouldn't occur because Stein cited no evidence of voter fraud or tabulation error.
"Republicans have elected Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) the next chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. Walden defeated Reps. John Shimkus (R-IL) and Joe Barton (R-TX), the former committee chairman, in the race for the gavel" to succeed Michgan's Fred Upton.