Michael KreponYear End Contest Winners

This year’s contest to come up with the best one-line characterization, haiku or limerick regarding nuclear developments during the Bush and Obama presidencies is over. It’s time to choose the winners. Our panel of judges – Tom Nichols, Josh Pollack and me – has reached the following conclusions.

Honorable mention goes to T for:

He raised eyebrows in Hradčany
New hope for a deal on test banning
For Godot we all wait
Prospects are not great
As the White House sits on its fanny.

Anon, always a contender, gets props for:

There once was a president’s son
Who bought into percent doctrine one.
While Saddam he deposed,
A few problems arose,
Buying time for Iran and Jong-Un.*
(*Requires creative pronunciation)

Building on this theme, we tip our hat to SQ, who stuffed the ballot box, for:

There once was a boy from Pyongyang
On whose word life and death seemed to hang
Plus his buddy the Worm
He made half the globe squirm
With alcohol, nukes, Sturm und Drang

Andrew gets kudos for:

We ask, before deals for Natanz,
Is the onus DC’s or Tehran’s?
Going mano-Amano,
We’ll need help from Bono,
To quell urges to start dropping bombs.

We are indebted to Continuing Resolution for this fine entry:

Two presidents, two visions
of an arsenal transformed,
but in the end
not much changed.

And now, for the envelope please… The winning entries are SQ’s:

Simply calling it
A strategy doesn’t make
Patience strategic

And this mordant entry from Ricki:

The Obama Administration’s nuclear posture is best described like spawning salmon in a drying river: doing what’s been done before out of instinct and expectation, doomed to failure, overtaken by events, and likely eaten by a (Russian) bear.

SQ & Ricki: send me a note (krepon@stimson.org) with your mailing addresses and the inscriptions for your prizes.


  1. Bradley Laing (History)

    The U.K. Defense Secretary said $129.8 million of investment has been awarded to BAE Systems to begin work on the next generation of Royal Navy submarines, Successor-class submarines, which will carry the U.K.’s strategic nuclear deterrent.


    The investment will allow BAE, which currently has more than a thousand people working on the Successor program, to begin work on some initial items for the submarines that are due to replace the Vanguard class from 2028

  2. Cthippo (History)

    Congratulations to the winners and honorable mentions!

    I never could write in verse, so I bow before your talents.

  3. Bradley Laing (History)


    The Russian Navy is expected to receive 40 new warships and auxiliary vessels this year, according to RIA Novosti.
    In addition to surface ships of various classes, the navy will also commission the third Borey-class nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine, the Vladimir Monomakh…

    Russia will continue the repair and overhaul of the Admiral Nakhimov nuclear-powered missile cruiser and three nuclear-powered attack submarines this year, the report said.

  4. Bradley Laing (History)


    Fallout: Documentary about On the Beach
    By Richard Phillips
    4 January 2014
    Written and directed by Lawrence Johnston; co-written and produced by Peter Kaufman
    The subject of Australian documentary filmmaker Lawrence Johnston’s Fallout is the novel On the Beach and subsequent Hollywood movie of the same name. The feature-length work premiered at the 2013 Melbourne film festival and screened in a handful of Australian cinemas late last year.

  5. Tom Nichols (History)

    Lots of great entries, but that haiku is sublime. Thanks for having me on board again!

  6. Bradley Laing (History)

    Radioactive particles from nuclear tests that took place decades ago persist in the upper atmosphere, a study suggests.

    Previously, scientists believed that nuclear debris found high above the Earth would now be negligible.

    However this research shows that plutonium and caesium isotopes are still present at surprisingly high concentrations.

    The work is published in the journal Nature Communications.

    Lead author Dr Jose Corcho Alvarado, from the Institute of Radiation Physics at Lausanne University Hospital in Switzerland, said: “Most of the radioactive particles are removed in the first few years after the explosion, but a fraction remains in the stratosphere for a few decades or even hundreds or thousands of years.”

    However, he said the levels were not high enough to pose a risk to human health.


  7. Bradley Laing (History)

    Nuclear Launch Officers Tied to Narcotics Probe

    F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. January 9, 2014 (AP)

    By ROBERT BURNS AP National Security Writer

    Hoping to boost sagging morale, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made a rare visit Thursday to an Air Force nuclear missile base and the men and women who operate and safeguard the nation’s Minuteman 3 missiles. But his attempt to cheer the troops was tempered by news that launch officers at another base had been implicated in an illegal-narcotics investigation.

    Two officers at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana are being investigated for allegations of drug possession, said a service spokesman in Washington, Lt. Col. Brett Ashworth. Both of those being investigated are ICBM launch officers with responsibility for operating intercontinental ballistic missiles.

  8. Bradley Laing (History)

    “Off The Beach: A Novel by Nevil Shute”


    BAD news for surfers: great white sharks live three times as long as we thought. And that’s just the irradiated ones.

    Marine biologists have discovered that while previous estimates put its upper age at less than 30, the great white actually has a lifespan comparable to our own – dramatically changing our understanding of how to conserve it.

    Conventionally, the age of sharks is determined by looking at growth bands in their vertebrae. In much the same way that trees deposit rings in their trunks, the theory was that they had one growth ring a year and that these could just be counted.

    However, now scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the US have overturned that assumption, thanks to nuclear weapons tests in the 1950s.

    During the Cold War, atmospheric testing of atomic bombs threw significant amounts of radiocarbon into the air. This found its way into the marine food chain and, eventually, into the deposits left in sharks’ bones. The result was a “time stamp” for when the deposits were made – with a sharp peak of carbon-14 marking the arrival of nuclear testing.

    By looking for this peak in the skeletons of dead sharks, the researchers found one shark that had lived past 70

  9. Bradley Laing (History)


    Japan and Turkey agreed to conclude the nuclear energy pact, a precondition for exporting nuclear technology, in May. It requires the recipient country to use technology, as well as equipment and materials, only for peaceful purposes.

    However, the pact includes a provision allowing Turkey to enrich uranium and extract plutonium, a potential material for nuclear weapons, from spent fuel if the two countries agree in writing. A senior Foreign Ministry official said the clause was added at the request of Turkey.

    The agreement would also pave the way for exporting Japan’s enrichment and spent nuclear fuel reprocessing technologies if revisions are made.

    The provision has sparked criticism that it contradicts Japan’s stance against nuclear weapons.

  10. Bradley Laing (History)

    Transparency no index of nuclear security, says India

    By Sandeep Dikshit


    India has dismissed a report by an influential U.S. think tank that placed it 23rd out of 25 countries in terms of securing its nuclear stockpile from non-state actors.

    The report by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) improves India’s score by a mere one point on the basis of a financial contribution to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Nuclear Security Fund.

    Senior government officials were not left enthused with the report as it equates transparency with nuclear security. “We don’t think it is a great idea to put all information about how India guards its nuclear establishments in the public domain when they are talking about preventing the bad guys from getting in,” explained a senior official while attributing the NTI’s quest for inside information on such sensitive issues to a “fishing expedition for information

  11. Bradley Laing (History)


    MOSCOW, January 14 (RIA Novosti) – Russian naval escort ships are helping out in an international operation to remove chemical weapons stockpiles from war-torn Syria, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday.

    Russia’s naval task force in the Mediterranean Sea is working with other nations, which include the United States, to evacuate the stockpiles from the Syrian port of Latakia, Shoigu said. The first batch of chemical weapons left Syria on January 7 aboard a Danish cargo vessel, escorted by the Russian nuclear-powered missile cruiser Peter the Great and a Chinese patrol ship.

    The Defense Ministry in Moscow said Tuesday that this was the first time that the Russian and Chinese navies had cooperated in an operation.

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