What We Are Reading

What We Are Reading

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Key Reads

Iran plans major jump in uranium enrichment after Natanz site attack
Kareem Fahim / The Washington Post 
Iran will begin enriching uranium to 60 percent purity, a top official said Tuesday, far exceeding its current level in a defiant move following the attack on a key nuclear site, Iranian news agencies reported. Iran’s state-run Press TV quoted Iran’s lead nuclear negotiator, Abbas Araghchi, as saying the country informed the International Atomic Energy Agency of plans to start 60 percent uranium enrichment.

U.S. to Increase Military Presence in Germany 
Melissa Eddy / The New York Times  
The United States will increase its military presence in Germany by about 500 personnel to better defend Europe, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during a visit to the country on Tuesday. The statement not only reverses the previous administration’s plans to withdraw up to 12,000 of the roughly 36,000 U.S. troops stationed in Germany. It also expands the U.S. footprint at a time when Europe is growing uneasy over Russian troop movements near the border with Ukraine.


American Competitiveness

In Battle With U.S. for Global Sway, China Showers Money on Europe’s Neglected Areas 
Tom Fairless / The Wall Street Journal  
The struggle between the U.S. and China for global influence has come to Europe’s gritty industrial backwaters, where China is steadily co-opting local economies starting with their railroads. China overtook the U.S. as the European Union’s biggest trading partner for goods last year, a historic turning point driven in part by Europeans’ hunger for Chinese medical equipment and electronics during the Covid-19 pandemic.


National Security & Strategy 

Scoop: U.S. and Israel to hold strategic Iran talks on Tuesday
Barak Ravid / Axios 
Top national security officials from the U.S. and Israel will convene virtually on Tuesday for a second round of strategic talks on Iran, three Israeli officials tell me. Why it matters: The talks come two days after an explosion at an Iranian nuclear facility that experts consider a likely act of Israeli sabotage, and one day before the U.S. resumes indirect nuclear talks in Vienna over a return to the 2015 nuclear deal — a prospect that has raised anxiety levels in Jerusalem.

Taiwan: ‘Record number’ of China jets enter air zone 
Stephen McDonell / BBC 
Taiwan has said a record number of Chinese military jets flew into its air defense zone on Monday. The defense ministry said 25 aircraft including fighters and nuclear-capable bombers entered its so-called air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Monday. The incursion is the largest in a year and comes as the US warns against an “increasingly aggressive China.”

Russia’s FM in Egypt for talks on ties and Ethiopia’s dam 
Samy Magdy / The Associated Press 
The foreign ministers of Egypt and Russia discussed trade and other ties between the two nations Monday, with Egypt’s top diplomat urging Moscow to help settle Egypt’s dispute with Ethiopia over a massive dam project. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrived in Cairo on Sunday for a two-day visit. He met Monday with President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi before his talks with Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry.


Asymmetric Operations

Mexico detains 30 Marines accused of disappearances
Al Jazeera  
Prosecutors in Mexico have arrested 30 Marines in connection with the disappearance of an unspecified number of people in the northern state of Tamaulipas in 2014, the Navy said on Monday. “Thirty naval service members were made available to the Attorney General’s Office on April 9 in compliance with arrest warrants… for the alleged crime of forced disappearance of persons,” the Navy Secretariat said in a statement.

3 killed in Pakistan in clashes between police, Islamists
Babar Dogar / The Associated Press 
Two demonstrators and a policeman were killed Tuesday in violent clashes between Islamists and police in Pakistan, hours after authorities arrested the head of an Islamist party in the eastern city of Lahore, a senior official and local media reported.

Haiti’s Moïse ‘won’t give up’ on freeing kidnapped clergy
Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse says he will “do everything the law allows” to secure the release of 10 people who were kidnapped by a gang in the town of Croix-des-Bouquets on Sunday. All but three of those kidnapped are Catholic clergy, among them a French nun and a French priest.


Climate Security

New Zealand introduces climate change law for financial firms in world first 
New Zealand has become the first country to introduce a law that will require banks, insurers and investment managers to report the impacts of climate change on their business, minister for climate change James Shaw said on Tuesday.

Sea levels are going to rise by at least 20ft. We can do something about it 
Harold R. Wanless / The Guardian 
The climate emergency is bigger than many experts, elected officials, and activists realize. Humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions have overheated the Earth’s atmosphere, unleashing punishing heat waves, hurricanes, and other extreme weather – that much is widely understood. The larger problem is that the overheated atmosphere has in turn overheated the oceans, assuring a catastrophic amount of future sea level rise.


Energy Security 

Oil prices rise after robust China data, Middle East tension 
Shadia Nasralla / Reuters 
Oil prices rose on Tuesday after strong Chinese import data, but markets broadly shrugged off Middle East tensions which have so far not disrupted oil supply. Brent crude oil futures were up 61 cents, or 1%, at $63.89 a barrel by 1221 GMT while U.S. crude oil futures gained 53 cents, or 0.9%, to $60.23 a barrel. Both contracts have recorded changes of less than 1% for four straight sessions.


Nuclear Security 

Attack in Iran Stirs Fears for Future of Nuclear Talks 
Sune Engel Rasmussen and Felicia Schwartz / The Wall Street Journal 
Iran on Monday accused Israel of orchestrating an attack on its main nuclear facility that stirred fears for the future of talks involving Washington and Tehran over a deal to constrain the Islamic Republic’s ability to produce a nuclear weapon. The attack at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility, which destroyed a number of centrifuges and caused an electricity blackout, occurred as U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was visiting Israel and was preparing to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Iran and Russia discuss ties, the Middle East, and nuclear deal
Maziar Motamedi / Al Jazeera 
Iran and Russia have held high-level talks on bilateral ties, the region, and Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers during Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov’s trip to Tehran on Tuesday. In a meeting with Lavrov, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran wishes to expand regional cooperation with Russia on Syria, Afghanistan, and Yemen in order to help establish stability and combat American interventions.


US-Russia Relations 

Russia calls U.S. an adversary, warns its warships to avoid Crimea 
Andrew Osborn and Alexander Marrow / Reuters 
Russia on Tuesday called the United States an adversary and told U.S. warships to stay well away from Crimea “for their own good,” calling their deployment in the Black Sea a provocation designed to test Russian nerves.

NATO Urges Russia to Halt Military Buildup on Ukraine’s Borders 
James Marson / The Wall Street Journal 
NATO called for Russia to end a military buildup on its borders with Ukraine that has sparked concerns of a major escalation in the conflict between the two countries, which has simmered since the Kremlin invaded in 2014. Jens Stoltenberg, secretary-general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, said Russia should withdraw tens of thousands of troops it has massed around Ukraine in recent weeks.


Latin American Security 

Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala deploy troops to lower migration 
Alexandra Jaffe / The Associated Press 
The Biden administration has struck an agreement with Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala to temporarily surge security forces to their borders in an effort to reduce the tide of migration to the U.S. border. The agreement comes as the U.S. saw a record number of unaccompanied children attempting to cross the border in March, and the largest number of Border Patrol encounters overall with migrants on the southern border — just under 170,000 — since March 2001.


Recent Reports

Briefing Note – Why the United States Needs a National Power Grid
Katherine Seevers and Dan Slesinski 
The Biden Administration has proposed investing in reliable, efficient electric power lines that deliver more renewable energy. In the “American Jobs Plan,” released on March 31, the Administration laid out a plan for investing in American jobs and renewable energy, as well as strengthening the resilience of the electrical grid. However, the United States needs a national power grid in order to increase its energy security and resilience to extreme weather events. By improving electricity transmission, a national power grid would also make the transition to clean energy easier and cheaper. The Administration should seek to better integrate the United States’ three disparate electrical grids as part of its new infrastructure bill.

Perspective – National Security Implications of Climate Change in Florida
Adam Despang, Katherine Seevers and Adam VanGorder  
Florida plays an important role in U.S. national security. It is home to headquarters of three Combatant Commands: U.S. Central Command, U.S. Special Operations Command, and U.S. Southern Command. It houses over 20 bases, representing every branch of the U.S. military. It provides key access to irreplaceable training grounds for U.S. pilots in more than 180,000 square miles of Department of Defense (DoD) controlled airspace over the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. Climate change poses clear risks to these security assets.


On Our Flashpoint Blog

ASP in the News: Board Member Lt. Gen. Norm Seip, USAF (ret.) in The Invading Sea
Savarni Sanka 
On April 6, ASP board member Lt. Gen. Norm Seip, USAF (ret.) wrote an op-ed in The Invading Sea advocating for increased government funding to support adaptation and resilience programs that mitigate the threat that climate change poses to military readiness and national security. In the op-ed, Lt. Gen. Seip describes the costly impact that climate change has had on military bases and readiness in Florida, a state home to three combatant commands and over 20 bases, and the need for risk management and mitigation to counter the national security risks of climate change.

Event Recap: Beneath the Waves: A Deeper Look at the National Security Threats of Illicit Fishing in “Seaspiracy”
Savarni Sanka
On April 7, the American Security Project (ASP), in collaboration with Sea Shepherd, hosted an event on illicit fishing and the threat it presents to national and global security. Panelists from the event included Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT), ASP Board Member ADM William Fallon, USN (Ret.), Sea Shepherd CEO Alex Cornelissen and Director of Campaigns Peter Hammarstedt, and Seaspiracy directors Ali and Lucy Tabrizi. ASP COO Andrew Holland moderated the conversation.

The Need to Prepare for the Consequences of Withdrawal from Afghanistan
Matthew Wallin 
As the U.S. continues a trajectory towards withdrawal from Afghanistan, there is a growing policy debate about the timing of the withdrawal and the future of the country. Recently, President Biden expressed his own doubts about whether a May 1 deadline to remove troops, agreed-to by the Trump administration, is realistic. At the core of the issue, is the realization that there are no good-policy options for the U.S. in Afghanistan, and the acceptance of defeat.

For the Chinese Nuclear Program, Less is More
Landon Cooke  
China possesses a full nuclear triad—intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM’s), heavy bombers, and submarine-launched ballistic missiles—but only has an estimated 320 nuclear warheads at its disposal, making it 16 times smaller than the total nuclear arsenal of the U.S. China has possessed advanced nuclear technology for decades and is vying for influence across the globe in an era of great power conflict. So why is the Chinese nuclear arsenal quantitatively inferior to ours, and does this mean it is not a threat?

The U.S. Should Strengthen Ties with Georgia to Counter Russian Influence
Rylee Boyd 
U.S. policy in Georgia cannot change the environment that Georgia operates in—one where Russia still plays an outsized role of influence in the state. However, even with limited resources and challenging conditions in the region, the U.S. can still improve its ties with Georgia through the issues of trade, democracy, and Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Subnational Diplomacy’s Role in U.S.- China Relations
Sarah Forland 
Empowering and incorporating subnational diplomacy—diplomacy done between cities, states, and provinces—into America’s foreign policy strategy can offer the Biden administration a way forward in maintaining a relationship with China that uses the flexibility of cities and states to identify potential points of subnational collaboration, while engaging in strategic competition nationally.


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