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Congratulations to the Bush Administration

North Korea agreed to relinquish its nuclear programs. One has to be cautious with all North Korean announcements, but this deal seems to be more promising than any agreement reached in the past.

The Washington Post reports that Pyongyang has invited nuclear experts from the United States, China and Russia into North Korea to survey and recommend ways of disabling all of its atomic facilities by the end of the year. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, who has led the negotiations for many years, called the overture "another significant step toward the de-nuclearization" of the Korean peninsula. He said it was the first time a team of international nuclear experts had been invited into the country and pointed out that there are many different ways to disable a nuclear facility so that it would be extremely difficult to bring it back on line: "You can drill a hole in the side of a reactor. You can fill it with cement," he said. "You can do various things, but it helps if you have a site survey and have a look at the reactor first."

The German press is not celebrating the agreement, but the US press is not doing that either, I believe. Good news don't sell very well. Besides, it's good to be skeptical about North Korean promises. It might be too early for celebrations. I just think that President Bush and his administration deserve some praise for their work on North Korea, which was (is) a danger for the entire world. International politics is about much more than just Iraq and Guantanamo.

Blake Hounshell includes North Korea in his FP Passport list of "the top ten things Bush and his team have gotten right."

United States Apparently Removes Nuclear Weapons from German Base Ramstein

Nuclear inspection documents indicate that the U.S. Air Force may have permanently removed its nukes from Ramstein. This would mean that Germany’s contribution to NATO's nuclear mission now is reduced to Büchel Air Base.
The Atlantic Review's long-time reader and friend Marian has recommended an excellent article by Hans M. Kristensen in the Strategic Security Blog by the Federation of American Scientists. Quote on "Germany's Nuclear Decline" and the prospect of throwing NATO's principle of nuclear burdensharing into disarray
A poll published by Der Spiegel in 2005 revealed an overwhelming support across the political spectrum for a complete withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Germany. The German government said in May 2005 that it would raise the issue of continued deployment within NATO, but officials later told Der Spiegel that the government had changed its mind. Yet the withdrawal from Ramstein indicates that the government has been more proactive than thought or that the Bush administration “got the message” and decided not to return the weapons.
The withdrawal reduces Germany from the status of a major nuclear host nation to one on par with Belgium and the Netherlands, both of which also only have one nuclear base. The German government can now safely decide to follow Greece, which in 2001 unilaterally left NATO’s nuclear club. This in turn would open the possibility that Belgium (and likely also the Netherlands) will follow suit, essentially throwing NATO’s long-held principle of nuclear burdensharing into disarray.
Mr Kristensen also points out that "Despite the apparent reduction, NATO's Nuclear Planning Group (NPG) as recently as June 15, 2007, reaffirmed the importance of deploying U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe."
Personal comment: We need to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our defense planning, if we want to convince Iran and other countries to give up their assumed nuclear weapons programs. Thus the removal of some US nukes from Germany is a good step.

RELATED, sort of: "Five more U.S. Army sites in Germany will be closed through 2009 as part of a wider effort to realign the military's overseas structure, the U.S. Defense Department said Wednesday." writes The International Herald Tribune.