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G-8 Summit Advances Bush Proposals

Gabrielle Kohlmeier

At a June 8-10 summit at Sea Island, Georgia, leaders of seven of the other richest countries in the world endorsed some but not all of the nonproliferation proposals that President George W. Bush offered earlier this year. The summit left the president with a mixed scorecard heading into the November U.S. presidential election and 2005 Review Conference on the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

In a Feb. 11 speech at the National Defense University, Bush had offered seven nonproliferation proposals. (See ACT, March 2004.) The summit’s nonproliferation “Action Plan” reflected some of these new initiatives, as well as some long-standing approaches to stemming the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and related delivery systems.

The Group of Eight (G-8) announced their intention to push for new Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) guidelines that would incorporate measures aimed at preventing sensitive items with proliferation potential from being exported to states “that may seek to use them for weapons purposes, or allow them to fall into terrorist hands.” The NSG is a voluntary export control regime now composed of 44 states, including all eight countries at the Sea Island summit. Its members promise to coordinate and restrict their nuclear trade.

Moreover, to forestall proliferation before those changes can be made, the G-8 agreed to a one-year moratorium on inaugurating any new transfers of enrichment or reprocessing equipment and technology transfers to additional states. This agreement makes headway toward Bush’s goal of permanently banning such exports to any states that do not already possess enrichment or reprocessing facilities. But by banning only new transfers, it still permits any pending transfers to continue to be carried out.

The seven other G-8 members—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, and the United Kingdom—endorsed Bush’s call for universal adherence to the 1997 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) model Additional Protocol, which empowers the IAEA to conduct more intrusive inspections and requires states to volunteer more information on their nuclear programs. The action plan asserts that the model Additional Protocol “must become an essential standard of nuclear supply arrangements.” By the end of 2005, the G-8 aims to achieve this goal by strengthening the NSG guidelines. Bush has suggested that date as a guideline by which time any countries that had not signed such an additional protocol be made ineligible for imports to their civilian nuclear programs.

The other G-8 countries lent their support to Bush’s proposal to establish a special committee of the IAEA Board of Governors, which will be responsible for preparing a “comprehensive plan for strengthened safeguards and verification.” The other countries were less willing, however, to endorse Bush’s proposal to prevent any state under investigation for proliferation violations from serving on the IAEA board. Instead, the action plan advised that “countries under investigation for non-technical violations of their nuclear nonproliferation or safeguards obligations should elect not to participate in decisions by the IAEA Board of Governors or the Special Committee regarding their own cases.”

The seven other countries welcomed Russia’s recent decision to join them in the Bush administration’s Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). They expressed support for continuing to expand PSI an informal collaboration of states using existing legal frameworks to interdict shipments of potential proliferation items.

In addition to new initiatives, the G-8 leaders re-emphasized the importance of various existing components of the nonproliferation regime and announced their intent “to help and encourage states in effectively implementing their obligations under the multilateral treaty regimes.” Specifically, the G-8 called on states to subscribe to the International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation, which obligates states to exercise maximum possible restraint in the development, testing, and deployment of ballistic missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The group called for universal adoption of the International Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources, approved by the IAEA Board of Governors last September. It said this initiative would “improve controls on radioactive sources to prevent their use by terrorists.” Further, the leaders reiterated support for UN Security Council Resolution 1540, which requires states to outlaw the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to nonstate actors by implementing domestic legislation controlling nuclear weapons-related material.

G-8 leaders urged all non-states-parties to join both the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The action plan explicitly expresses support for “the use of all fact-finding, verification, and compliance measures, including, if necessary, challenge inspections, as provided in the CWC.” If challenge inspections are utilized, this may mark progress for the CWC. Responding to a question during a March 2004 interview with Arms Control Today about the lack of challenge inspections performed under the CWC guidelines to date, ,Assistant Secretary of State Paula DeSutter alleged that European reluctance had contributed to the past failure to make use of the challenge provisions.

G-8 leaders continued to square off over fulfilling a $20 billion pledge they made in 2002 to combat nonproliferation in Russia and the other former Soviet republics, known as the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction. Bush and other administration officials had expressed their hope to get the $20 billion designated as a floor, or minimal amount to be pledged, rather than a maximum. However, the other countries refused to go along. Moreover, a report issued at the conference indicated that aside from the United States, which had pledged $1 billion per year, the G-8 members had fallen far short of their goals.

Still, there were some advances for the multinational effort. The G-8 members sought to boost their funding base by expanding the partnership to include new donor countries, including Australia, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Ireland, South Korea, and New Zealand.

Prior to the summit, U.S. government officials wanted to expand the partnership to new recipient countries, though Russia as well as some other G-8 countries raised objections, protesting that not enough had been accomplished yet in Russia to warrant the expansion of the partnership to other beneficiaries. (See ACT, June 2004.) Despite Bush’s apparent inability to get agreement for new recipients at the June 8-10 summit, Undersecretary of State John Bolton stated June 9 that he was reasonably confident that at least one other former Soviet republic would be formally inducted as a recipient country by the end of the year.

Although the Global Partnership was not formally expanded to include the former Eastern bloc, the G-8 countries did express their intent to expand the Global Partnership to fund new jobs for Libyan and Iraqi scientists with WMD expertise. In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee June 15, Bolton clarified that, although efforts would be coordinated through the Global Partnership, funds used for these ventures would be in addition to the $20 billion committed to nonproliferation projects in the former Soviet Union.

A number of obstacles besides lack of funding have hampered the progress of the Global Partnership. A key impediment has been the inability of donor countries to reach agreements with Russia on issues such as liability and tax exemptions. Some progress was apparently achieved along these lines at the summit, where Canada and Russia brokered a bilateral agreement that ended a two-year impasse.

At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing June 15 dealing with the ramifications of the G-8 Summit, some senators also questioned how much progress the new Sea Island initiatives would achieve. Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), the panel’s ranking Democrat, asserted that while the agreements and initiatives comprising the action plan sound like progress, he was circumspect as to whether significant new resources would be devoted to those agreements: “Too often, bright new initiatives turn out to be largely repackaging funds that are already in the budget.”.

Senator Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), testifying before the panel, acknowledged that positive agreements were announced but expressed disappointment in the outcome of the summit. “I have yet to hear that progress on nuclear nonproliferation was as dramatic as I had hoped or as dramatic as the world needs.”