By Hui Zhang
Senior Research Associate, Project on Managing the Atom, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School
Chinese president Xi Jinping said in his address at the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit that, “we should place equal emphasis on development [of nuclear energy] and security, and develop nuclear energy on the premise of security.” He further emphasized that, “developing nuclear energy at the expense of security can neither be sustainable nor bring real development. Only by adopting credible steps and safeguards can we keep the risks under effective control and develop nuclear energy in a sustainable way.”
By Simon Saradzhyan
This is an extended version of the author’s “Mixing Turncoats and Terrorism” op-ed published in The Moscow Times on September 9, 2012.
Events of one August day in Russia’s volatile republic of Dagestan have once again highlighted how turncoats can enhance terrorists’ capabilities to carry out deadly attacks in the North Caucasus and other regions of Russia.
On Aug. 28, Aminat Kurbanova, an ethnic Russian woman whose original name is Alla Saprykina, visited Said Afandi al-Chirkawi, the spiritual leader of two major Sufi orders in the North Caucasus. The prominent sheikh was initially reluctant to meet Kurbanova, but the 29-year-old woman said she was a Russian who wanted to convert to Islam and he eventually agreed to receiver her in his village home. In reality, this former actress-cum-dancer had not only already converted to Islam, but had also joined the ranks of the believers in Salafiyyah, the so-called pure Islam. Once in the same room with the sheikh, the woman detonated the bomb concealed under her clothes to kill him and seven others, including herself. Read more
Sean M. Lynn-Jones
By Sean M. Lynn-Jones
On June 4, a missile fired from a pilotless U.S. drone reportedly killed Abu Yahya al-Libi, said to be al-Qaida’s second-in-command, in a remote region of Pakistan. Just over a year earlier, U.S. special forces stormed Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbotabad, Pakistan, and shot him dead. In September 2011, a U.S. drone attack in Yemen killed Anwar al-Awlaki, an American radical Islamic cleric who had become an al-Qaida regional commander. Numerous other al-Qaida leaders have been killed in U.S. attacks in recent years. The Obama administration has made such decapitation attacks a central element in the U.S. struggle against al-Qaida and similar militant organizations. Read more
By Matthew Bunn
Associate Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School; co-principal investigator, Managing the Atom Program, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
Olli Heinonen and I have written a piece just out in Science (log in required) on nuclear safety and security in the aftermath of Fukushima. We call for more stringent national regulations and international standards, expanded and strengthened safety and security peer reviews, and beefed-up emergency response. Read more
By Rolf Mowatt-Larssen
Belfer Center Senior Fellow
I am a Norwegian-American. My parents were immigrants who came to the U.S. seeking an opportunity to make a decent living and raise a family. They became part of the American dream. Like my parents, I am proud of my Norwegian heritage. Before 9/11, I had the opportunity to serve in Norway in the U.S. Embassy in Oslo. I worked closely with the Norwegian government on our mutual national security interests. We had many conversations, and shared similar concerns about terrorism, in all its forms, foreign and domestic. Nonetheless, this attack was a shock – an almost inconceivable turn of events. As I reflect on it, it reminds me of the unfortunate truth that some catastrophes may simply be unpreventable, in spite of all our efforts, and resolve, to prepare for them. Read more
Joseph S. Nye
Some hawks have cited the skillful military operation that killed Osama Bin Laden as proof that terrorism must be dealt with by hard power, not soft power. But such conclusions are mistaken. A smart strategy against terrorism also requires a large measure of soft power.
Terrorists have long understood that they can never hope to compete head on with a major government in terms of hard power. Instead, they use violence to create drama and narrative that gives them the soft power of attraction. Terrorists rarely overthrow a government. Instead, they try to follow the insights of jujitsu to leverage the strength of a powerful government against itself. Terrorist actions are designed to outrage and provoke over-reactions by the strong. Read more
By Joseph S. Nye
Killing Bin Laden does not end terrorism. In the short run, it may even lead to a spurt of decentralized revenge attacks, but in the longer term it deals Al Qaeda a severe blow. Over the past decade, Al Qaeda became a loose network, almost a franchise, where much of the activity was developed by local terrorist entrepreneurs. Now the value of the brand name is diminished, and that makes the franchise less valuable.
As I describe in The Future of Power, terrorism is not about military strength or military victory. In an information age, it is not always whose army wins, but also whose story wins. Read more
By William H. Tobey
The Power & Policy Fellows’ Forum
By William H. Tobey
(Before he became a senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Will Tobey was Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation at the National Nuclear Security Administration. Last week, he was asked by an ABC News editor to share some perspective on the Japan nuclear reactor situation. Here are his observations).
Here is what I have told family and friends:
There are no absolutely safe options; all forms of reliable energy generation carry risk to human life and health. In the United States alone last year 48 Americans were killed in coal mining accidents and 11 were killed on the Deep Water Horizon Offshore rig. Many more died earlier than otherwise because of the health effects of fossil fuel pollution. Read more
By Arnold Bogis
The Power & Policy Fellows Forum
By Arnold Bogis
The latest diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks are filled with descriptions of smuggled radioactive materials. Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Michael Leiter recently testified to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that the likelihood of a dirty bomb attack may be as high as one with biological weapons. Two years ago, radioactive materials, ingredients for explosives, and literature on dirty bombs were discovered in a dead man’s house. Afghanistan or Pakistan? No: Belfast, Maine. Police responding to a domestic dispute discovered the dead man and the materials at the scene. Read more