TIME

Iran Nuclear Talks to Be Extended Until July

Officials sit around the negotiations table during their meeting in Vienna
Officials sit around the negotiations table during their meeting in Vienna on Nov. 24, 2014. Joe Klamar—Reuters

The move gives both sides breathing space to work out an agreement but may be badly received by domestic skeptics

(VIENNA) — Facing still significant differences between the U.S. and Iran, negotiators gave up on last-minute efforts to get a nuclear deal by the Monday deadline and extended their talks for another seven months.

The move gives both sides breathing space to work out an agreement but may be badly received by domestic skeptics, since it extends more than a decade of diplomatic efforts to curb Iran’s nuclear prowess.

International negotiators are worried that Iran is using its nuclear development program as a cover for developing nuclear weapons and they have imposed economic sanctions on Tehran. Iran denies the charge, saying it is only interested peaceful nuclear programs like producing power.

After a frenetic six days of diplomacy in Vienna, negotiators agreed Monday to nail down by March 1 what needs to be done by Iran and the six world powers it is negotiating with and by when. A final agreement is meant to follow four months later.

Comments by key players in the talks suggested not much was agreed on in Vienna beyond the decision to keep talking. The next negotiating round was set for early December but the venue is unclear.

The decision appears to benefit Iran. Its nuclear program is left frozen but intact, without any of the cuts sought by the U.S. And while negotiations continue, so will dole-outs of monthly $700 million in frozen funds that began under the temporary nuclear deal agreed on late last year that led to the present talks.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said the sides were giving themselves until March to agree on a text “that sets out in layman’s language what we have agreed to do.” Experts then will be given another four months to “translate that into precise definitions of what will happen on the ground,” he told reporters.

Even the new deadline for a final deal was not immediately clear, with negotiators saying it was July 1, and Hammond fixing it at June 30.

Past talks have often ended on an acrimonious note, with each side blaming the other for lack of a deal. But mindful of hard discussions ahead, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry focused on praise, in an apparent attempt to maintain a relatively cordial atmosphere at the negotiating table.

Kerry, who arrived Thursday and met repeatedly with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamad Javad Zarif, said Zarif “worked diligently and approached these negotiations in good faith.”

“We have made real and substantial progress and we have seen new ideas surface,” he told reporters. “Today we are closer to a deal that will make the whole world, especially our allies in Israel and the Gulf, safer.”

Hammond and other foreign ministers of the six powers also sought to put a good face on what was achieved. Hammond spoke of “significant progress,” while German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said only differences about “technical details” remained.

But the length of the extension suggested that both sides felt plenty of time was needed to overcome the disputes on how much Iran needed to restrict nuclear activities that could be used to make weapons in exchange for relief from sanctions imposed over its nuclear program.

“All the people involved here feel that there really is a chance to find out a way to each other and we are going to take that chance,” Steinmeier said about the decision to extend.

But obstacles far from the negotiating table could complicate the process.

Members of the new Republican-controlled U.S. Congress that will be sworn in in January have already threatened to impose additional sanctions on Iran and may well have enough votes to overturn an expected veto of such legislation by President Barack Obama.

New sanctions could very well derail the talks, as Iran has signaled they would be a deal breaker, and Kerry appealed to Congress to “support … this extension.”

In Tehran, hardliners fearful that their country could give away more than it gets under any final deal could increase pressure on Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to break off talks. The talks extension, however, appears to have the approval of Khamenei, who is the ultimate arbiter in his country.

Among other issues, the two sides are haggling over how many — and what kind — of centrifuges Iran should be allowed to have. The machines can enrich uranium from low, reactor-fuel level, up to grades used to build the core of a nuclear weapon, and their output grows according to how modern they are.

Washington wants deeper and more lasting cuts in the program than Tehran is willing to give.

Suggesting some movement on enrichment differences, Kerry told reporters, “Progress was made on some of the most vexing challenges that we face.”

An extension was widely expected as the deadline approached with neither side having the appetite for new confrontation that would renew the threat of military action against Iran by Israel and potentially the U.S. as well as tighten the sanctions regime on Tehran.

Alluding to that alternative, Kerry declared: “We would be fools to walk away.”

TIME National Security

More Band-Aids for the Nation’s Ailing Nuclear-Weapons Force

A US Air Force missile maintenance team removes the upper section of an intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead in an undated USAF photo at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana.
A US Air Force missile maintenance team removes the upper section of an intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead in an undated USAF photo at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana. Airman John Parie—U.S. Air Force/Reuters

Pentagon beefs up spending to keep yesterday’s weapons ready for tomorrow

The U.S. military’s nuclear force — both its hardware (the weapons) and its software (the people who operate those weapons) — is in disarray. That can only come as a surprise to those who don’t concede the Cold War is over, and that neither the funding, nor the required mindset, exists to keep it going indefinitely.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Friday that a pair of reviews calls for spending about $7.5 billion over the next five years to shore up the nation’s nuclear weapons, as well as the bombers, land-based missiles and submarines that carry them. “The reviews found evidence of systematic problems that if not addressed could undermine the safety, security and effectiveness of the elements of the force in the future,” he said. “These problems include manning; infrastructure; and skill deficiencies; a culture of micro-management; and over-inspection and inadequate communication, follow-up, and accountability by senior department in nuclear enterprise leadership.”

There was a palpable sense of national mission when you visited nuclear sites during the Cold War. While that remains true at most sites, there’s a feeling gleaned from speaking with current nuclear officers that their mission isn’t as vital as it once was. Congress feels the same way, which is why the nation’s nuclear-weapons organization has been nickled-and-dimed, relatively speaking, for the past 25 years (although it’s slated to cost $1 trillion over the next 30 years).

Hagel ordered the reviews in January, after reports of widespread cheating surfaced among the airmen operating the Air Force’s intercontinental ballistic missiles at Montana’s Malmstrom Air Force Base. The Navy also discovered that some of its sailors had apparently cheated on tests involving the nuclear reactors that power some of the service’s ships and subs. The panels recommended more than 100 changes, which will be monitored by a newly created Nuclear Deterrent Enterprise Review Group that will report directly to Hagel every three months.

“Our nuclear triad deters nuclear attack on the United States and our allies and our partners,” Hagel told reporters. “It prevents potential adversaries from trying to escalate their way out of failed conventional aggression, and it provides the means for effective response should deterrence fail.”

Arms-control advocates disagree. “Apart from deterring a nuclear attack, nuclear weapons play an increasingly limited role in U.S. national security policy, but our arsenal is still configured and sized for a Cold War world that no longer exists,” says Kingston Reif of the non-profit Arms Control Association. “There are simply no plausible military missions for these weapons given their destructive power, the current security environment and the prowess of U.S. conventional forces.”

The Air Force has already made improvements. Last month, missile launch officers became eligible to receive up to $300 monthly because of the importance of their mission. New uniform and cold-weather gear also have been provided the ICBM crews, who work in North Dakota and Wyoming as well as Montana. It has added 1,100 more troops to its nuclear force (the Navy’s hiring 2,500 more). Last week, the Air Force awarded 25 airmen the new Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service medals to honor their work.

The roots of the problem runs deep. Over the past two decades, the Air Force has shifted responsibility for its ICBMs around like an unwanted child. The missiles bounced from Curtis Lemay’s Strategic Air Command, where they had been since becoming operational in 1959, to Air Combat Command in 1992. They moved to Space Command in 1993, and finally to Global Strike Command in 2009, created as a mini-SAC following a pair of nuclear snafus of 2007-08 that led to the cashiering of the Air Force’s top two officials. “We mattered under Strategic Air Command,” Dana Struckman, a retired colonel who manned missiles from 1989 to 1993, said earlier this year. “The Cold War was still on, and we had a sense of purpose that I don’t think they have today.”

Some official Air Force reports acknowledge the problem. “Many current senior Air Force leaders interviewed were cynical about the nuclear mission, its future, and its true (versus publicly stated) priority to the Air Force,” a 2012 Air Force paper said. Commanders routinely told nuclear airmen that they were in a “sunset business” and “were not contributing to the fight that mattered,” it added. A second Pentagon study noted that most airmen manning ICBMs “were not volunteers for missile duty.”

Hagel conceded the problems aren’t new. “Previous reviews of our nuclear enterprise lacked clear follow-up mechanisms,” he said. “Recommendations were implemented without the necessary follow-through to assess that they were implemented effectively. There was a lack of accountability.” To fix that, he said he has assigned Pentagon cost experts to monitor the new changes being made so that the Defense Department knows “what’s working and what’s not.”

The defense secretary pledged to “hold our leaders accountable up and down the chain of command.” That’s because the problems aren’t confined to the lower ranks. The Air Force fired Maj. Gen. Michael Carey — in charge of all the nation’s ICBMs — last year after an official trip to Moscow, where he drank excessively and cavorted with “suspect” women. During a layover at a Swiss airport, witnesses told Pentagon investigators that Carey “appeared drunk and, in the public area, talked loudly about the importance of his position as commander of the only operational nuclear force in the world and that he saves the world from war every day.”

Those still in charge don’t see their assignment as a Cold War mission. “I don’t think we’re any more a Cold War force than an aircraft carrier, or Special Ops, or the UH-1 helicopter,” Lieut. Gen. James Kowalksi, chief of Global Strike Command, said of his nuclear arsenal last year. A Russian first strike, in fact, has become such a “remote” possibility that it’s “hardly worth discussing,” he said. “The greatest risk to my force is an accident. The greatest risk to my force is doing something stupid.”

Kowalski became the No. 2 officer in U.S. Strategic Command in October 2013, overseeing the nation’s entire nuclear arsenal, after President Obama fired Vice Adm. Tim Giardina from the post for allegedly gambling in an Iowa casino with counterfeit chips. The charge — a felony — happened at Horseshoe Council Bluffs Casino, a 15-minute drive across the Missouri River from the nation’s nuclear headquarters.

Hagel implied Friday that operating the nation’s most deadly weapons in the 21st century is kind of like using enough wax and elbow grease to shine up an old jalopy: “We must restore the prestige that attracted the brightest minds of the Cold War era, so our most talented young men and women see the nuclear pathway as promising in value.” Only one problem: the most talented young men and women know the Cold War ended before they were born. Given that, they also know there’s no way to restore the resolve and purpose those manning the weapons against the Soviet Union once felt.

TIME Nuclear

U.S. Looks to Improve Management of Nuclear Weapons Cache

“Our nuclear deterrent plays a critical role in securing U.S. national security”

The United States’ arsenal of nuclear weapons is badly in need of a makeover, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Friday.

“The good news is that there’s nothing here we can’t fix,” Hagel told reporters. “But if we don’t pay attention to this, if we don’t fix this eventually, it will get to a point where there are some questions about our security.”

Hagel said a full review of the country’s nuclear arsenal revealed “evidence of systematic problems,” including issues with manpower, infrastructure, skill deficiencies, a culture of micromanagement and over-inspection.

The overhaul of nuclear arms across the entire Department of Defense will include reforms that address each of these areas. In order to make the nuclear field a more attractive career path for young soldiers, for instance, Hagel elevated the Global Strike Command to so-called a four-star billet, meaning high-ranking soldiers in the nuclear fleet can be equal in rank to their counterparts in non-nuclear fields. Hagel also announced the creation of a new medal to recognize service in the nuclear field.

“Our nuclear deterrent plays a critical role in securing U.S. national security,” Hagel said. “No other capability remains more important.”

Read next: Why ISIS Can Survive Without Baghdadi

TIME National Security

Hagel to Order Nuke-Force Overhaul to Fix Failures

Chuck Hagel
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel listens to a question during a briefing at the Pentagon on Oct. 30, 2014 Susan Walsh—AP

The AP documented numerous missteps over the past two years, including misbehavior by ICBM force leaders, lapses in training, violations of security rules and exam cheating

(WASHINGTON) — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has concluded that problems in the nation’s nuclear forces are rooted in a lack of investment, inattention by high-level leaders and sagging morale, and is ordering top-to-bottom changes, vowing to invest billions of dollars to fix the management of the world’s most deadly weapons, two senior defense officials told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Hagel ordered two lengthy reviews of the nuclear force after a series of stories by the AP revealed numerous problems in management, morale, security and safety, leading to several firings, demotions and other disciplinary actions against a range of Air Force personnel from generals to airmen.

Hagel’s moves, while not dramatic, are designed to get at the core of the problem, the officials said.

The senior defense officials discussed the reviews and Hagel’s response to them on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to be cited by name.

Hagel was expected to announce his decisions at a morning news conference Friday and then fly to Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, home of a Minuteman 3 missile unit whose recent setbacks are emblematic of the trouble dogging the broader force.

The Air Force has been hit hardest by the problems, particularly its Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile force based in North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. The AP documented numerous missteps over the past two years, including misbehavior by ICBM force leaders, lapses in training, violations of security rules and exam cheating.

The Navy, which operates nuclear-armed submarines, had its own exam-cheating scandal this year and has suffered from a shortage of personnel.

Hagel’s reviews concluded that the structure of U.S. nuclear forces is so incoherent that it cannot be properly managed in its current form, and that this problem explains why top-level officials often are unaware of trouble below them.

The reviews also found that a combination of problems amount to fundamental flaws, rather than random or period slip-ups that can easily be fixed, the defense officials said. They said the nuclear forces are currently meeting the demands of the mission but are finding it increasingly hard to cope.

To illustrate the degree of decay in the ICBM force, the review found that maintenance crews had access to only one tool set required to tighten bolts on the warhead end of the Minuteman 3 missile, and that this single tool set was being used by crews at all three ICBM bases. They had to share it via Federal Express delivery, the defense officials said. The crews now have one at each of the three bases.

When he ordered the two reviews in February, shortly after the Air Force announced it was investigating an exam-cheating ring at one ICBM base and a related drug investigation implicating missile crew members, Hagel was said to be flabbergasted that such misbehavior could be infecting the force.

“He said, ‘What is going on here?'” one of the senior defense officials recalled.

Among his more significant moves, Hagel authorized the Air Force to put a four-star general in charge of its nuclear forces, the two senior defense officials said.

The top Air Force nuclear commander currently is a three-star. Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson is responsible not only for the 450 Minuteman ICBMs but also the nuclear bomber force. Hagel has concluded that a four-star would be able to exert more influence within the Air Force, the defense officials said.

Hagel also OK’d a proposal to upgrade the top nuclear force official at Air Force headquarters in the Pentagon from a two-star general to a three-star, the officials said.

The review’s authors, retired Air Force Gen. Larry D. Welch and retired Navy Adm. John C. Harvey Jr., found fault with one of the unique features of life in the nuclear forces. It is called the Personnel Reliability Program, designed to monitor the mental fitness of people to be entrusted with the world’s deadliest weapons.

Over time, that program has devolved into a burdensome administrative exercise that detracts from the mission, the authors found, according to the senior defense officials. Hagel ordered that it be overhauled.

Hagel concluded that despite tight Pentagon budgets, billions of dollars more will be needed over the next five years to upgrade equipment. That will include a proposal to replace the Vietnam-era UH-1 Huey helicopter fleet that is part of the security forces at ICBM bases. The Air Force declared them out of date years ago but put available resources into other priorities.

The defense officials said Hagel would propose an amount between $1 billion and $10 billion in additional investment. An exact amount had not yet been determined.

Hans Kristensen, a nuclear expert with the Federation of American Scientists, said Thursday that while he had not seen the Hagel reviews or heard what actions Hagel was ordering, he was skeptical that it would make much difference.

“Throwing money after problems may fix some technical issues but it is unlikely to resolve the dissolution that must come from sitting in a silo hole in the Midwest with missiles on high alert to respond to a nuclear attack that is unlikely to ever come,” Kristensen said.

A cascade of embarrassments befell the Air Force over the past two years, beginning with an AP story in May 2013 revealing one missile officer’s lament of “rot” inside the force. Another AP story in November disclosed that an independent assessment for the Air Force found signs of “burnout” and elevated levels of personal misconduct among missile launch crews and missile security forces.

The AP also disclosed last year that four ICBM launch officers were disciplined for violating security rules by opening the blast door to their underground command post while one crew member was asleep.

Just last week the AP disclosed that the Air Force fired two nuclear commanders and disciplined a third, providing evidence that leadership lapses are continuing even as top Air Force officials attempt to bring stability to the ICBM force.

The most senior officer to be relieved Nov. 3 was Col. Carl Jones, vice commander of the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren Air Force base in Wyoming. He had been investigated for inappropriate behavior, including alleged cruelty toward a subordinate.

TIME Science

The Nuclear-Safety Activist Whose Mysterious Death Inspired a Movie

Karen Silkwood
Karen Silkwood in an undated photo AP Images

Nov. 13, 1974: A plutonium plant worker and activist dies in a mysterious car crash on her way to expose the plant’s lax safety record

Karen Silkwood was either a martyr among whistleblowers and nuclear safety activists, or, if you believe her employer’s account, a lunatic who smeared plutonium on the bologna in her fridge.

As a lab technician at the Kerr-McGee plutonium plant in Crescent, Okla., during the early 1970s, Silkwood became concerned by what she saw as quality-control failures and lax safety procedures that put employees at risk of radioactive contamination. She was elected to the bargaining committee for the plant’s union and testified before the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission about the facility’s unsafe working conditions.

On this night, Nov. 13, in 1974, the 28-year-old Silkwood was headed to a meeting with a New York Times reporter, carrying a folder full of documents and photos she said would demonstrate the extent of the safety problems. But she never made it to the meeting: her car hit a concrete culvert wall en route, killing her, after she apparently swerved off the road. The folder full of evidence was never found.

A private investigator working for the union found dents on the back of her car that suggested she could have been pushed off the road. An autopsy, however, revealed traces of alcohol and prescription sedatives in her blood. Police concluded that she had fallen asleep at the wheel, and her death was ruled an accident. The circumstances surrounding the crash were nonetheless so bizarre that they made national news. For one thing, Silkwood had been exposed to so much radiation poisoning that cancer was essentially guaranteed, according to a doctor who testified in the case.

But how the plutonium got into her system — including her lungs and her digestive tract — was as mysterious as the cause of the crash. Not only had she recently set off plant monitors that tested for radioactivity — and been scrubbed clean — but plutonium contamination had been found in her apartment as well: in her kitchen, her bathroom and in a bologna-and-cheese sandwich in her refrigerator, according to a 1979 TIME report.

Lawyers for Kerr-McGee hypothesized that Silkwood had intentionally taken plutonium home to contaminate herself. As TIME reported:

Defense Attorney William Paul argued last week that she was emotionally unstable and possibly had been affected by the use of tranquilizers. Paul said she had become deeply involved in a bitter fight between her union and the company, and charged that she had set out to prove that the plant was dangerous by making herself seriously ill. She was, he suggested, kinky.

Still, she became a posthumous celebrity, inspiring a 1983 movie, Silkwood, in which she was played by Meryl Streep. While some critics took issue with her glorification — a New York Times review of “Silkwood” concludes that “the evidence in the case suggests that Miss Silkwood was not a nuclear Joan of Arc but an activist (who) … became a victim of her own infatuation with drugs” — her death galvanized the anti-nuclear community and led to new scrutiny of nuclear facilities.

The Kerr-McGee plant closed the year after Silkwood’s death, partly vindicating her claims. According to TIME, “Westinghouse, which had been buying its fuel rods, complained of their poor quality and refused to renew its contract.”

Read the 1979 story about what happened to Karen Silkwood, here in TIME’s archives: Poisoned by Plutonium

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: October 20

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Early intervention for young people could halt schizophrenia before it starts.

By Amy Standen at National Public Radio

2. Next generation air traffic control management can reduce delays and frustration at the airport.

By Aaron Dubrow at the National Science Foundation

3. Alabama prisons are at 190% capacity. Sentencing reforms are slowing prison population growth, but much work remains.

By Kala Kachmar in the Montgomery Advertiser

4. In the five weeks remaining under the deadline, the U.S. and Iran can reach a historic accord on nuclear arms.

By Joe Cirincione in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

5. For the peaceful coexistence of bicycles and everyone else in a city, we can learn a lot from Copenhagen.

By Mikael Colville-Andersen in the Guardian

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME India

India Successfully Tests Its First Nuclear-Capable Cruise Missile

The weapon is called Nirbhay, which means fearless

India’s first indigenously developed nuclear-capable cruise missile was successfully test-fired on Friday at the Integrated Missile Test Range in Chandipur, Odisha.

The Nirbhay, which means fearless in Hindi, has been dubbed “India’s answer to America’s Tomahawk” and can strike targets more than 400 miles away, according to NDTV.

Although India already had tactical and ballistic missiles in its military arsenal, including the 180-mile BrahMos cruise missile that it developed jointly with Russia, the new weapon is a significant step forward in terms of range and capability.

Nirbhay’s ability to fly at tree level makes it difficult to detect by radar, and it can also hover near targets and strike from any direction.

An unnamed official said that the missile was fired just after 10 a.m. local time from a mobile launcher, according to the Times of India.

“Flight details will be available after data retrieved from radars and telemetry points, monitoring the trajectories, are analysed,” the official said.

This was Nirbhay’s second planned test, after an initial one slated for March 2013 had to be aborted when the projectile deviated from its intended course.

TIME India

Military Action, Diplomatic Threats Between India and Pakistan in Kashmir

Villagers sit on the debris of their house after it was damaged during the recent exchange of fire between Pakistan and India at the Pakistani border town of Dhamala Hakimwala
Villagers sit on the debris of their house after it was damaged during the recent exchange of fire between Pakistan and India at the Pakistani border town of Dhamala Hakimwala on Oct. 8, 2014 Faisal Mahmood—Reuters

Border skirmishes are common between the South Asian neighbors, but the weeklong confrontation is the most serious such escalation in nearly a decade

India and Pakistan exchanged multiple warnings and even subtle hints of a nuclear retaliation on Thursday, as military action from both sides continued on the Kashmir border in what is the worst standoff between the two countries in nearly a decade.

Heavy shelling on the border over the past week has resulted in the deaths of at least eight Indian and nine Pakistani civilians, and thousands of villagers have been forced to flee their homes, according to Reuters.

Tensions between India and Pakistan, who have fought three wars since the former was liberated and the latter created in 1947, have long convulsed South Asia. Border skirmishes between the nuclear-armed neighbors are relatively common in spite of a 2003 cease-fire agreement, but a sudden escalation of violence, stronger-than-usual posturing from both governments, and a departure from the usual methods of resolution are what sets the current conflict apart.

“This conflict is different first of all in that it’s prolonged and escalating, and secondly in that civilians are getting killed,” says Radha Kumar, director general of the Delhi Policy Group. “It’s never gone on for this long in the past 10 years.”

In August this year, there were cease-fire violations along the Indian-Pakistan border in Jammu, Indian-administered Kashmir’s winter capital. Some civilians were killed and around 2,000 villagers fled their homes to ramshackle camps. Toward the end of the month, a flag meeting was held between the two forces and peace had prevailed, only to be shattered early this week.

Pakistan’s Defense Minister Khawaja Asif, in response to his Indian counterpart Arun Jaitley’s warning that Indian forces would render any “adventurism” by Pakistan “unaffordable,” said Islamabad has the ability to counter Indian aggression, followed by what could be perceived as a veiled threat. “We do not want the situation on the borders of two nuclear neighbors to escalate into confrontation,” Asif said on Thursday.

The border standoff marks a downturn in India-Pakistan relations under new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose invitation to Pakistan’s embattled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for his inauguration ceremony in May sparked hopes of closer ties between the historic adversaries. The recent flash floods in Kashmir, which claimed hundreds of lives on both sides of the border, also saw exchanges of support and goodwill between the two leaders.

Shuja Nawaz, director of the Washington, D.C.–based Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center, says the current conflict is fairly typical in terms of the force used by either side and that civilians have been caught in the cross fire. However, “what makes it different is that you have two new governments and they are not following the standard operating procedures of resolving this at the military level,” he tells TIME.

The Indian Express reported that India’s Border Security Force has refused to engage in another flag meeting with Pakistani officials, instead asking the Ministries of Home and External Affairs to use diplomatic channels to resolve the conflict.

“All our efforts to secure peace and tranquility on the Line of Control and the Work Boundary have elicited no cooperation from the Indian side,” said a statement from Sartaj Aziz, National Security Adviser to Prime Minister Sharif. On Friday, the Pakistani leader called on New Delhi to honor the pre-existing cease-fire agreement.

Certainly, the steadily escalating conflict could not come at a more inopportune time for Sharif, as he faces widespread protests over allegations of corruption that have rocked his government for over two months amid rumors of a potential military coup. “He is trying to show that he and the military are on the same page,” says Nawaz.

However, analysts are split on the long-term consequences of the current escalation. According to a high-ranking Indian army official in Kashmir, who spoke to TIME in August on condition of anonymity, border confrontations with India will only increase as political instability deepens in Pakistan.

“The fact of the matter is that Nawaz Sharif is not in charge, he’s not even in charge of the capital,” agrees former Indian diplomat G. Parthasarathy, who served as the high Commissioner to Pakistan between 1998 and 2000. “The [Pakistani] army is primed to see how the Modi government will react to this infiltration.”

But Hamayoun Khan, a lecturer in the Strategic Studies Department at Islamabad’s National Defence University, says that Indian politics have just as much of a role to play in the conflict, pointing to upcoming state-assembly elections in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Khan says the border situation works to the advantage of nationalist parties like Modi’s BJP, which is not shy about courting anti-Pakistan views to get votes. “Once they are over, once the rhetoric from the other side stops, this conflict will abate,” he says. “They [India] will mellow down and so will we.”

Khan also disagrees with claims that the Pakistani Prime Minister has no control of his government. “The political situation that has been going on for over 60 days has put Nawaz Sharif under a lot of pressure, but he’s bearing the burden of that pretty well and is pretty much in control,” he says.

The question of the possibility of rapprochement, meanwhile, is yet to be answered. “My fear is that the escalation ladder is very steep, particularly in Kashmir. You can go quickly from exchanging words to exchange fire,” says Nawaz. “It’s not in the best interests of either government to let this issue fester.”

— With reporting from Nilanjana Bhowmick / New Delhi

TIME Israel

Netanyahu Tells World Leaders ‘Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas’

Prime Minister also refutes Palestinian leader's accusations of "genocide" in Gaza Strip

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed back Monday against Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ claims that Israel was waging a “genocide” against Palestinians, and called on world leaders to treat Palestinian militant group Hamas as indistinct from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, Netanyahu refuted claims by Abbas and others that his military had committed war crimes during the 50-day war in the Gaza Strip this summer, citing the lengths to which the Israeli Defense Force went to warn civilians to evacuate targeted areas.

“Israel dropped fliers, made phone calls, sent text messages, broadcast warnings in Arabic, all to allow civilians to evacuate targeted areas,” Netanyahu said, arguing that Israel took all available precautions to protect civilian lives, while Hamas deliberately fired rockets from areas where children live and play. “Israel was using its missiles to protect its children, Hamas was using children to protect its missiles,” he added.

He said that the fact that Hamas’s deliberate placement of rockets in civilian communities were the “real war crimes.”

The Israeli Prime Minister also spoke about the growing “cancer” of militant Islam, comparing the situation in Israel with that in Iraq and Syria. “ISIS and Hamas are branches of the same poisonous tree,” he said. “When it comes to their ultimate goals, Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas. And what they share in common, all militant Islamists share in common.”

The conflict, which ended in August, left 2,100 Palestinians dead and 73 Israelis dead, according to the BBC. The UN said that most of the Palestinian dead were civilians. “This last war against Gaza was a series of absolute war crimes carried out before the eyes and ears of the entire world, moment by moment,” Abbas said last week.

Netanyahu said criticism in Europe of Israel’s treatment of Palestinian civilians often amounts to thinly-veiled anti-Semitism. “We hear mobs today in Europe call for the gassing of Jews, we hear some national leaders compare Israel to the Nazis,” he said. “This is not a function of Israel’s policy, this is a function of diseased minds. That disease has a name, it’s called anti-Semitism, and it’s spreading in polite society.”

The president also warned that Iran was undergoing a “manipulative charm offensive” in order to lift sanctions and continue with plans to build a nuclear weapon. “It’s one thing to confront militant Islamists on pickup trucks… its another thing to confront militant Islamists armed with weapons of mass destruction,” he said. “Would you let ISIS enrich uranium? Then you shouldn’t let the Islamic state of Iran do them either.”

A UN Council tasked with negotiating with Iran on its nuclear program has not made much progress in recent weeks, according to the LA Times. They hope to reach an agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program to non-military uses in exchange for lifting oil sanctions.

Netanyahu urged the world’s leaders not to trust what he called the “world’s most dangerous regime.” “To say Iran doesn’t practice terrorism is like saying Derek Jeter never played shortstop for the New York Yankees,” he said.

TIME politics

Watch History’s Most Infamous Political Ads

Daisy Ad
The Daisy ad, described in the Sept. 25, 1964, issue of TIME From the Sept. 25, 1964, issue of TIME

President Johnson's "Daisy" TV spot in history aired 50 years ago

The advertisement described by TIME in the paragraph above aired only once, 50 years ago, on Sept. 7, 1964.

It’s a minute long and appeared during Monday Night at the Movies on NBC. This is what happens next, as TIME described it: The countdown ends, and the screen erupts in atomic explosion, followed by the voice of Lyndon Baines Johnson, who says somberly: “These are the stakes: to make a world in which all of God’s children can live, or go into the dark. We must either love each other or we must die.”

The commercial, an election-season spot for incumbent president LBJ, was never meant to run repeatedly, but it was followed later in the month by a similar commercial featuring another little girl, this time with an ice cream cone, accompanied by an ominous voiceover about radioactive chemicals introduced to the environment by nuclear tests. Still, the spots provoked immediate controversy — and contributed to TIME’s decision to dub the Sept. 25, 1964, issue “The Nuclear Issue.” (The daisy girl appears on the cover.) Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater, TIME said then, was dogged by an “itchy-finger image.” After speaking in favor of making it easier for the nation’s armed forces to use nuclear weapons if needed, Goldwater became synonymous with the threat of full-on nuclear destruction. As one registered Republican from Vermont told a reporter, “I don’t think too much of President Johnson, but I guess I’m really afraid of Senator Goldwater.”

Nuclear weapons became the central issue of that year’s campaigns, but — as TIME reported — neither side had 100% of the facts straight. On the one hand, Johnson’s strenuous insistence that he would never delegate the authority to launch nuclear weapons ran contrary to the procedures already established by the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy. NATO’s supreme commander in Europe already had the right in certain situations to cross the line from convention to nuclear weaponry. (Today, as TIME explained as part of the Answers Issue that arrived on news stands earlier this month, a minimum of two people are needed to launch a nuclear weapon in the U.S.) On the other hand, Goldwater’s claim that soldiers on the ground could operate small hand-held nuclear weapons ignored the fact that no such weapons existed. As explained by the diagram below, the smallest nuclear weapon the U.S. had, the Davy Crockett, weighed over 100 pounds and had a range of up to 2.5 miles, with enough power to destroy a bridge or up to 50 tanks. And after that the weapons quickly get much more powerful.

Sept. 25 1964 nuclear weapons chart
From the Sept. 25, 1964, issue of TIME

Johnson’s misstatements, however, didn’t matter in the long run. He won the 1964 presidential election in a landslide victory — and the fear-provoking TV ads that ran only once went down in history as some of the most infamous, and most effective, political spots ever.

Watch both of them below:

Read TIME’s full 1964 report on Johnson’s advertisements here, in TIME’s archives: The Fear & The Facts

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