Nukes in the Campaign

My old buddy Ian Hoffman has done the best piece I’ve seen so far on the nuclear nonproliferation issue in the context of the fall campaign. It’s interesting to see nukes rise in importance in the national debate (though Hoffman points out the occasions when it’s happened before), but Ian makes clear these are very hard problems:

But there’s no guarantee that Abraham’s deadline or Kerry’s is achievable. Nuclear security in Russia lies in the hands of large, slow and secretive bureaucracies. More money won’t necessarily result in faster progress.

Ultimately, Russians, not American presidents, control the pace.

“The major problem isn’t 13 years or four years. We’re not going to do it at all,” said Hecker at Los Alamos, pioneer of the original U.S.-Russian scientific contacts that evolved into the nonproliferation programs. “Only the Russians can secure their nuclear materials, and we’re at a point now where money is no longer a limiting factor.”

“Russia is a place that still produces plutonium, and it’s a place that doesn’t like to tell you what it’s got or what it’s doing,” Sokolski said. “It’s not something that can be solved in a short period of time by force feeding of money and priorities.”