RUSI in the News - February 2009

Citations of RUSI expert analysis and events in the global media, February 2009.

  • RUSI Experts in the News
  • Reports of RUSI events

RUSI Experts in the News

Submarine collision

RUSI in the NewsIn early February a British nuclear submarine collided with one of its French counterparts in what Lee Willet described as 'almost a freak occurrence'. The chances of two submarines being in the same place at the same time were, he said, 'one in a million'. That they failed to notice one another, however, is less of a mystery. Submarines do not advertise their position 'by pinging away with their sonar', leaving them virtually invisible to one another.

Despite its potential seriousness, the incident is unlikely to result in greater information sharing between France and Britain on submarine patrol routes. Whatever the strength of the relations between the two countries, these submarines remain 'the ultimate tools of national survival in the event of war'.

Media coverage: New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sydney Morning Herald, Associated Press, Irish Times, The Times, The Scotsman, The Financial Times, The Malaysian Star

More analysis from RUSI on British submarine capabilities here

Iran’s growing capabilities

Iran’s first successful satellite launch prompted fears in some quarters that Tehran was on its way to developing a serious long-range missile capability. Christopher Pang argued, however, that the technology involved was still 'very rudimentary', a long way from the sophistication required for an intercontinental ballistic missile.

A few weeks later, the International Atomic Energy Agency revealed that Iran had passed the threshold of enriched uranium required for a working nuclear warhead. The development, maintained Christopher Pang, strengthened Iran’s capability to continue negotiations', but it did not tell us whether 'Iran has made a decision to, or is capable of, making a nuclear bomb'. Numerous practical obstacles, he argues, still stand in the way of a fully functional Iranian nuclear missile.

Media coverage: The Guardian, Rzeczpospolita, Der Freitag

More analysis on Iran and regional security here

NATO's Russian mole

The conviction of Herman Simm, Estonian defence official and Russian spy, has prompted questions about the security of an expanded NATO. Responding to this latest news, Alastair Cameron pointed out that 'even before the Simm affair, corruption in the new NATO countries, as well as their immature political and judicial systems, were seen as risks.' 

Media coverage: Radio Free Europe

Read RUSI Research on Future NATO here

Looking ahead in Afghanistan

A BBC/ABS/ARD poll gave a sense of the challenges facing Aghanistan and ISAF’s mission in the country. The results showed, argued Michael Clarke, that although the battle for hearts and minds is not yet lost, it is 'further than ever from being won'. He emphasised that the credibility and legitimacy of the Afghan government is 'the most critical commodity at stake', with enhancing the perceived effectiveness of the Coalition a secondary but important goal.

The role of the Afghan President is then of critical importance, but support for Hamid Karzai in the post seems to be diminishing. A credible and legitimate leader will be vital for development in Afghanistan, said Michael Clarke, but 'if that’s not President Karzai so be it'.

Media coverage: BBC News, BBC Radio 4's The Today Programme, The Telegraph

More analysis from RUSI on Afghanistan here

UK Armed Forces

The UK government, warned Bill Kincaid, is prosecuting ‘war with a peacetime mentality’. Reduced budgets and over-long acquisition timeframes are leaving our soldiers less safe than they could be, he argued in a segment he presented for the BBC’s World Tonight.

Listen to Bill Kincaid's segment here

See also Changing the Dinosaur's Spots by Bill Kincaid

Searching for Alternative Supply Routes to Afghanistan

Russia has reasserted control over Central Asia, which it views as its ‘unique sphere of influence’, by pressuring the Kyrgyz government to close down the Manas airbase. The granting of a $2 billion dollar loan by Russia coincided with the Kyrgyz decision to eject the Americans from the airbase they use to supply Afghanistan. Russia, said Alex Neil, ‘doesn’t want NATO there any more than it wants them in Eastern Europe.’

The decision leaves Americans struggling to find reliable alternative routes for supplies and troops to Afghanistan.

Media coverage: The Times


Pentagon procurement records revealed a large and unexplained delivery of fuel to Shamsi airbase in Pakistan, prompting suspicions that the base was being used for drone attacks on the Taliban on the Pakistani side of the Afghan borders. Paul Smyth confirmed that the fuel delivery was not sufficient for Hercules flights but could have sustained drones or helicopters.

Media coverage: The Times

More RUSI analysis Pakistan here

Reports of RUSI events

Sir Mark Allen on Energy Security

Renowned Middle East Expert and industry consultant, Sir Mark Allen, argued that we can expect that OPEC discipline to be patchy and oil prices to ‘prove as difficult to forecast and manipulate during a downturn as they have in the past’. He also talked of the growing demands of citizens in petrostates and the importance of maintaining good relations with the major oil suppliers.

Media coverage: Associated Press of Pakistan

Video available at RUSI Events Podcasts

More RUSI analysis on Energy Security here

Bahrain Security Forum

Multilateralism emerged as a key theme at the forum organised by Bahrain's Ministry of the Interior and RUSI. Abdul Rahman Al-Attiyah emphasised the importance of cooperation in dealing with regional threats and ensuring stability in the Gulf. Paul Lever echoed his sentiments, saying that all states should work together to counter the threat of global terrorism.

Meanwhile former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff argued that the Bush administration's policies, and particularly its operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, had made the world more, not less, secure. 'Had we not gone in to Afghanistan', he said, 'Osama Bin Laden would still be there, the laboratories would still be there and the training camps would still be there".

Media coverage: Gulf Daily News, Arab Times

RUSI News report available here

Qatar Policy Dialogue

Speaking at the inaugural Qatar Policy Dialogue, Michael Clarke argued that the US and the Europeam countries should take a 'constructive role' in Iran. We need to engage, he suggested, before Iran manages reaches the nuclear weapon threshold. Although the Iranians currently have all the required equipment, the rushed pace of development and a lack of preparedness mean it is 'not yet fit for creating a bomb'.

Media coverage: The Peninsula

RUSI Qatar

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