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U.S. Seeks Expansion of G-8 Nonproliferation Aid

Gabrielle Kohlmeier


The United States is hoping to use a summit meeting next month to win other countries’ endorsement of a proposal to expand a multibillion dollar nonproliferation program beyond Russia, but Moscow is balking.

During a conference in Moscow April 23-24, U.S. Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow indicated that the United States wanted to use its position as host of the June 8-10 Group of Eight (G-8) summit in Sea Island, Georgia, to win the support of five wealthy European nations and Japan for restructuring the two-year-old G-8 Global Partnership Against the Proliferation of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction.

Initiated at the 2002 G-8 summit in Kananaskis, Canada, the Global Partnership involved a collective pledge of $20 billion over 10 years first for Russia’s and eventually for other former Soviet states’ nonproliferation projects, with half the total coming from the United States. (See ACT, July/August 2002.)

In his remarks, Vershbow expressed U.S. support for expanding the Global Partnership both in terms of donors and recipients. The United States would like to solicit additional funds from Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea. At the same time, countries such as Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan are seen as prospective recipients of nonproliferation aid funded through the Global Partnership.

Vershbow also said that expanding the effort to include Ukraine would be a “natural choice.” Those efforts took a step forward in early May, when Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Gryshchenko and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst discussed the possibility of Ukraine receiving international aid through the Global Partnership. During that May 6 meeting, Herbst handed Gryshchenko a letter from Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton welcoming Ukraine’s willingness to participate in the Global Partnership and to abide by the key nonproliferation principles outlined at the 2002 G-8 summit.

As part of its nearly $1 billion annual contribution to threat reduction through its Cooperative Threat Reduction programs, the United States already contributes significant amounts annually to nonproliferation efforts in former Soviet states, including Georgia, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan, as well as Ukraine. Despite U.S. rejection of Ukraine’s formal request to become a recipient member of the Global Partnership last year, the United States counted its funding of nonproliferation projects there as part of its contribution to the Global Partnership in its budget justification to Congress for fiscal year 2004.

In addition to expanding distribution of funds to other former Soviet states, an April 30 Financial Times article suggested that U.S. and British officials want to use some of the Global Partnership funds to redirect Libyan and Iraqi scientists in an effort to keep them from being lured by offers from potential proliferators.

Russia, on the other hand, is reluctant to permit other countries to receive funds from the Global Partnership. Russian officials say that Russia has borne the greatest costs of nonproliferation efforts and claim that only $50 million of the funds pledged by countries other than the United States have actually materialized in Russia.

The actual amount that has been spent is difficult to determine and the $50 million figure does not seem to account for all of the nonproliferation projects that have received non-U.S. G-8 funding in Russia. But both experts and Global Partnership members acknowledge that the quantity spent thus far was significantly lower than what was pledged. Bureaucratic and legal impediments, as well as a lack of political will, were cited by the participants to the Moscow conference as hurdles to the efficacy of the Global Partnership, problems that they hoped would be addressed at the upcoming G-8 summit.