Clear and present danger 0

Jennifer Rubin writes that Obama’s nuclear summit is not serious, since he will not address the truly serious nuclear threat – Iran’s development of nuclear weapons.

The nuclear summit is underway in Washington, D.C. An air of unreality pervades because the greatest nuclear threat of our time goes unaddressed. At times, the degree to which Obama evades the Iranian issue is jaw-dropping. This report explains:

“The central focus of this nuclear summit is the fact that the single biggest threat to U.S. security — both short term, medium term and long term — would be the possibility of a terrorist organization obtaining a nuclear weapon,” Obama said Sunday afternoon. “If there was ever a detonation in New York City, or London, or Johannesburg, the ramifications economically, politically and from a security perspective would be devastating. And we know that organizations like al-Qaeda are in the process of trying to secure a nuclear weapon — a weapon of mass destruction that they have no compunction at using.”

Actually, the single greatest threat — and the most likely means for a terrorist organization to possibly obtain a nuclear weapon — is the mullahs’ nuclear program. About that, the president offers the moral power of example (i.e., our own disarmament) and watered-down sanctions.

She is right, of course.

But this report indicates that material to make “dirty” bombs is already in the hands of terrorists:

Five people suffering serious burns were hospitalized in West New Delhi this week from contact with radioactive material in a Delhi scrap market identified as Cobalt-60 which may be used for making a dirty bomb. Indian police cordoned off the 200 market stores and sealed nearby establishments up to a one-kilometer radius. Scrap dealer Deepak Jain and his helpers lost consciousness when they cut a piece of scrap metal. A white fluid oozed out causing the burns, Jain’s hair fell out and within minutes his skin turned black. His workers suffered and nausea.

All five are battling for their lives in hospital, setting off a security scare in the Indian capital, with prime minister Manmohan Singh briefed on the incident before leaving for Washington to attend the nuclear security summit which opened Monday, April 12.

Nuclear scientists from the Baba Atomic Research Center and Narora Atomic Power Plant identified the material and are working around the clock to investigate its source. …

Cobalt-60 is used in radiotherapy for treating cancer and welding steel. A US report last year recommended monitoring this material along with Caesium-137, Strontium-90 and Plutonium to effectively counter nuclear terrorism. Unlike a nuclear bomb, a dirty bomb does not involve nuclear fission and can be used like a conventional weapon.

India has been warning that Pakistan’s nuclear facilities are in danger of falling into the hands of the Taliban:

The day before the conference, the Indian prime minister met Obama and tackled him about Pakistan’s inaction against Muslim terrorists and exhorted him to jointly combat terror emanating from Pakistan as the most dangerous source of potential nuclear terror… Indian leaders as well as their military and intelligence advisers have repeatedly warned Washington that al Qaeda and Taliban were moving in on Pakistan’s nuclear facilities through their deep penetration of Pakistan’s intelligence service and may soon be in position to take over. …

As the “posture” Obama is taking with regard to nuclear deterrence is apparently proving more frightening than reassuring to Americans, what does the  State Department and the Pentagon have to say to dispel those fears?

Jennifer Rubin continues:

Neither Obama’s credibility nor America’s deterrent capability was enhanced by either the START treaty or the Nuclear Posture Review. So [Secretary of State} Hillary Clinton and [Defense Secretary] Robert Gates took to the airwaves Sunday to assure us that the Obami really weren’t doing great damage to our national security. Hillary seemed to fudge on the “no nuclear response to a NPT signatory’s attack” when she tried to bluster her way through her interview on Face the Nation:

SCHIEFFER: Are non-nuclear weapons so good now, Madam Secretary, that we don’t have to rely on nuclear weapons anymore?

CLINTON: We rely on both, Bob. And I think that’s the point that Secretary Gates is making. We’ve maintained a strong, robust nuclear deterrent as set forth in the nuclear posture review. But we have also in this administration moved toward a global strike capability to enhance our conventional response.

And we have an enormous amount of firepower conventionally. And it is also clear that this is putting everybody on notice. We don’t want more countries to go down the path that North Korea and Iran are. And some countries might have gotten the wrong idea if they looked at those two over the last years. And so we want to be very clear. We will not use nuclear weapons in retaliation if you do not have nuclear weapons and are in compliance with the NPT.

But we leave ourselves a lot of room for contingencies. If we can prove that a biological attack originated in a country that attacked us, then all bets are off, if these countries have gone to that extent. So we want to deal with the nuclear threat first and foremost, because that’s the one that we face right today.

All bets are off? Well, the nuclear option is, if we believe the Nuclear Posture Review. But maybe it doesn’t say what we mean. Or maybe it’s getting increasingly hard to figure out whether we are serious about deterring rogue states or not. Indeed, the administration is increasingly flighty and obtuse, making it hard to parse the often inconsistent rhetoric. Iran’s nuclear bomb would be unacceptable, but maybe we can’t do anything about it. The greatest threat is a terrorist organization with a nuclear bomb, but we’re increasingly lackadaisical about denying one to the most active state sponsor of Islamic terrorists. We aren’t going to retaliate against an NPT signatory after a devastating chemical or biological attack, but who knows.

If there is any rhyme or reason to this, it no doubt eludes both friends and foes. It does, however, convince many that this president doesn’t really appreciate how to project American strength and keep our adversaries at bay. The summit, therefore, promises not only to be irrelevant but also counterproductive to our national-security interests.