Thursday, October 20, 2005

US Pressure on the Indo-Iranian Pipeline

In the previous post, “India, the country you should not miss!”, I have mentioned about the Indo-Iranian gas pipeline and the US-India strategic partnership. President Bush admitted India’s nuclear power status when he talked with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Washington DC this July. At the United Nations summit this September, Bush and Singh talked about the Iran problem. The United States pressured on India to scrap the Indo-Iranian gas pipeline in order to stop nuclear proliferation to Iran. India is in the middle between the United States and Iran, and the United States is testing India whether it chooses the West over Iran in the end (“Iran Issue Strains India’s Tie to US”, September 14, International Herald Tribune / New York Times).

As I mentioned before, India has to establish close relationship with the United States because it is exploring a global power status. Also, in the war on terror, India faces common threats with America, which are radical Muslims. On the other hand, Iran is an important partner to India. With growing population and economy, India’s demand for energy is soaring. The Indo-Iranian pipeline is a national project to satisfy this soaring demand for the future. In addition, India regards Iran a gateway for Afghanistan and Central Asia. India has been stepping up military cooperation with Iran to use this country an entry point to this region. Furthermore, India has the second largest Shiite population in the world. It makes no sense for India to confront Iran.

According to US National Intelligence Estimate in January 2005, Iran needs 10 years to develop nuclear bombs. However, Gary Schmitt, Executive Director at the Project for the New American Century, a leading neo-conservative think tank, insists that the United States and its allies keep alert on Iran. He says that Iran has not throw away its nuclear ambition. Also, it is quite difficult to have accurate information about Iran’s nuclear program. The Jerusalem Post estimates quotes Israeli intelligence source, saying that Iran will have a nuclear bomb by 2012 and could have the capability as early as 2008. Finally, he argues that it is important to remember why the Bush administration adopted military preemption in its strategic doctrine. No one can foresee the timing of attacks on the America and its allies by states or terrorist groups. As to Iran, people understand too little about the nature of regime and its strategic intention. This makes it furthermore difficult to predict Iran’s behavior. Therefore, the global community must be highly alert on Iran, and careful enough not to provide financial sources for a dangerous project.

To deal with Iran, the United States and EU3 (Britain, France, and Germany) need to demand Russia, China, and India to get involved with non-proliferation efforts. As a neighbor to Iran, India would play an important role. Currently, thanks to high oil price, Iran is in a good position to finance the nuclear program and sponsor terrorism. The Indo-Iranian pipeline will be a further help for this regime.

At the US-India summit this July, the United States agreed to help India’s peaceful use of nuclear energy. At present, nuclear power accounts for only 2.7% of total energy production in India. Further US assistance would be a good alternative to the gas pipeline. Though India has not given up the pipeline plan, Singh decided to vote against Iran at the UN summit this September. This was a critical test for the United States to judge India, whether it is a trustworthy partner or not. The problem is India’s national pride. Leading Indian papers, such as the Hindu and the Times of India laments this vote, because India had been the champion of nonalignment since its independence from Britain. India has made it clear that it would take sides with America and EU3, rather than Russia and China.

This is a vital message for other countries engaged in an energy resource project with Iran. Currently, Japan has a joint oil venture at Azagaden in western Iran. I am afraid this will be the third error for Japan in the conflict between Iran and the West. The first error was in 1952 when Mohammad Mossadegh nationalized the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. Japan bought oil from this radical leftist regime, which irked Britain and America. Fortunately, Mossadegh was thrown away, and the shah came back. The second error was that Japan continued the Mitsui Oil Project when the United States and Iran confronted over US embassy hostages in Tehran. Will it be the third error in the coming conflict between Iran and the West? That’s a real struck out!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Article Published

Last Friday, my article was published in Metropolis magazine. This is a free magazine, and widely distributed in English speaking communities in Japan. You can find some copies at the hotel, embassy, foreign bookshop, and record shop in Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya, Kyoto, and Kobe.

The article is based on my post, “A Review of VJ Day: Has Japan Really Been Born Again?”.

Please see the following link.

You can see other interesting articles by foreign writers in Japan when you see this site.

I have written the following articles before.

Metropolis will be a very helpful source of daily life information in Tokyo. When you visit there, I recommend you to take a copy at the hotel.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Britain Needs to Replace Trident Nuclear Missiles?

The future of nuclear deterrence was an important issue in the last general election. At present, Britain deploys US-made Trident missiles as strategic weapons. Current missile system must be replaced in2024, because the Vanguard class strategic missile submarines will be decommissioned. Therefore, a nation-wide debate is on going, regarding future nuclear possession. Prime minister Tony Blair made it clear that Britain will maintain nuclear deterrence for big league status in the world. The Conservative party welcomed his decision. Now, British leaders will discuss options of future nuclear arsenals. Britain will be firmly committed to global nuclear deterrence, and the cost and performance of deploying the next generation nuclear weapons will be vital. Meanwhile, leftist politicians insist that Britain should abolish all nuclear weapons in order to adapt to the post-Cold War international politics.

Before talking of these debates, let me explain briefly about the history of British nuclear weapons. Britain developed its own atomic and hydrogen bombs in1952 and 1957. Since then, Britain possessed two categories of nuclear systems: strategic bombers and SLBMs (Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile). While the United Kingdom has developed V-bombers --Valiant, Victor and Vulcan-- by itself, it has been using US-made SLBMs as a principal nuclear deterrence.

Britain tried to make independent SLBM by itself, but it was not successful. Therefore, Harold Macmillan talked with John F. Kennedy, and decided to import US-made Polaris missile under the Nassau agreement in 1962. Since then, Britain’s strategic weapons have become closely related to those with the United States. When Britain needed to upgrade its SLBMs, Margaret Thatcher decided to replace Polaris with another US-made missile, Trident. At the end of the Cold War, the United Kingdom abolished strategic bombers, and concentrates all the strategic arsenals on US-made SLBMs. As a result, the future of British nuclear weapon is tied with the United States.

In order to upgrade current nuclear system, Britain has the following options.
1. Life Extensive Program of Trident missile system
In this case, it is necessary to build new Trident launching or multi-role hunter-killer submarines. Also, Trident missile itself could be updated from current version of D5 to D5A. This missile update depends on whether the United States will do or not. In any case, tremendous cost is expected.

2. Cruise missile
In this case, multi-role hunter-killer submarines will be used. In the Iraq War, Britain fired US-made Tomahawk missiles from hunter-killer submarines. Cruise missiles fly a shorter range than ballistic missiles.

3. Air-based missile
This is what the RAF (Royal Air Force) insists. However, land-based strategic forces are vulnerable to attack by the enemy. This is the most unlikely option.

In any case, Britain will retain nuclear deterrence, because the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats support it as well. At present, it is quite likely that Britain will renew current Trident missile system.

However, Labour left-wingers argue that Trident is a Cold War deterrence, and useless against present threats, like dirty bomb attacks by terrorists and nuclear proliferations, particularly by Iran and North Korea. Robin Cook, who resigned Foreign Secretary when the Iraq War broke out, insists that Britain should end futile and costly obsession with nuclear weapons. Instead, he argues that Britain should assume leadership in global arms reduction by unilateral nuclear disarmament. Clare Short, a radical left who also resigned the cabinet minister when the Iraq War began, says, “It's just a symbol saying that Britain is in the big league, but if you need nuclear weapons to be in the big league, it's no wonder India and others want them.”

Britain’s choice on the Trident issue will have a significant effect on WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction) and terrorism problems. Both of them are the most critical to the global security today. I do not believe Britain will disarm it nuclear weapons unilaterally. In order to deal with current threats in a cost-effective way, Britain may choose cruise missile, because some US Trident submarines carries Tomahawk missile instead. The key to this debate is Britain’s role in the global war on terror and nuclear non-proliferation.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

The EU-Russia Industrialists’ Round Table

On October 3, the EU-Russia Industrialists’ Round Table will be held, in parallel with the EU-Russia Summit in London. What is the EU-Russia Industrialists’ Round Table?

The Industrialists’ Round Table (IRT) was founded at the EU-Russia Summit in July 1997. IRT gives advise on business and investment in Russia to the EU Commission and the Russian government. Also, it helps EU-Russian business partnership.

I wrote a post, “Russian Democracy in Danger: Carnegie Endowment Policy Brief by Former Swedish Diplomat” before. In the policy brief, the author insisted that the West stand firmly against Putin’s authoritarianism, while promoting cooperation in the areas of common interests like non-proliferation and energy resource development. Fortunately, Russia needs nuclear reduction. Unlike Iran, it will not expand nuclear arsenals with oil revenue.

Therefore, close partnership between EU and Russian business will be a great help for US-led effort to democratize Russia. There are many areas for economic cooperation between the EU and Russia. Energy resources, like oil and natural gas, are the most important. Also, Russo-European cooperation in finance is the key to expand mutual trade and investment. Moreover, Russia’s high-tech and IT industries are on a high level. Aerospace and military technologies since the Soviet era are top class in the world. Russia has a great potential for the West, as a partner in energy supply, new market, high-tech, and IT fields.

This EU-Russia Industrialists’ Round Table is backed up by a private company, Eventica. This company has been organizing many conferences and opportunities to exchange mutual viewpoints between the EU and Russia. In addition, Eventica publishes periodicals to provide information for Western businessmen to support their business in Russia. A quarterly journal, called “Russian Investment Review” offers information about the Russian market and economy. An annual “Russian Index” introduces 50 key persons in Russian politics and business.

People focus on the meeting between Tony Blair, EU Chairman, and Vladimir Putin. However, cooperation between private sectors on both sides is important as well. In order to promote democracy in Russia, while pursuing mutual cooperation, private sectors should be more active.

Finally, Japan must keep up with the US and the EU to promote democracy and pursue cooperation. This will be helpful to stop the Russo Chinese alliance, and resolve the Russo-Japanese territorial dispute.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

The State of Ballistic Missile Proliferation

This map indicates the state of ballistic missiles in 6 countries of proliferation concern. They possess ballistic missiles flying over 1,000 km. The ranges of missiles are shown in circle.

Among 6 countries of concern, India, Pakistan, and Israel already have nuclear bombs. Iran and North Korea are suspected.

North Korea’s Taepo Dong II is expected to reach Alaska. But no test has been done.

Saudi Arabia imported CSS-2 from China in 1987. Saudi has no nuclear weapons.

Source: Non-Proliferation Project, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace