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Co-Director of Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University
June 1, 2018
Julia Masterson

U.S. Indicts Five for Smuggling to Pakistan

March 2020

The United States has indicted five men for engineering a network to procure U.S. goods for Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programs, the Justice Department announced on Jan. 15. The men, from Canada, Hong Kong, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom, are accused of operating a network of 29 companies in the United States from September 2014 until October 2019, when the indictment was issued.

The five indicted are reportedly involved with a front company called Business World located in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. The federal court indictment charged the company’s associates with conspiring to violate the 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the 2018 Export Control Reform Act (ECRA).

In total, the indictment identified 38 U.S. exports that were transported through the network to the Advanced Engineering Research Organization (AERO) and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC). Both AERO and PAEC fall on the U.S. Commerce Department’s Entity List alongside other organizations that defy “U.S. national security or foreign policy interests” and have since 2014 and 1998, respectively.

Under the IEEPA and the ECRA, export licenses are required for goods to be transported to organizations on the Commerce Entity List. The Business World associates did not apply for nor obtain such licenses.

A U.S. Homeland Security Department official cited in the Justice Department release said the indictment was “a result of ongoing coordination and collaborative counter proliferation efforts” by various U.S. government bodies, including the Commerce, Defense, and Homeland Security departments.—JULIA MASTERSON

U.S. Indicts Five for Smuggling to Pakistan

IAEA Head Notes No New Breaches by Iran | P4+1 and Iran Nuclear Deal Alert

IAEA Head Notes No New Breaches by Iran Iran has not taken any further steps to breach the 2015 nuclear deal after announcing its fifth violation in early January, the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, told reporters in Washington Feb. 5 . Experts have taken this to mean that Iran has not installed additional centrifuges nor further increased its enrichment level after announcing Jan. 5 that it would no longer be bound by any operational limits of the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Grossi stressed...

North Korea Reiterates End to Test Moratorium

North Korea Reiterates End to Test Moratorium North Korea will no longer observe its self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile testing, a counselor to Pyongyang’s mission at the United Nations in Geneva said Jan. 21 . The April 2018 moratorium was designed to “build confidence with the United States,” but given that Washington “remains unchanged in its ambition to block the development” of North Korea, Pyongyang has “no reason to be unilaterally bound” by its past commitment, Ju Yong Chol said. The statement did not indicate if or when North Korea would resume nuclear or long-...

Kim Announcement Caps Tumultuous Year

January/February 2020
By Julia Masterson

North Korea closed the decade by announcing it would no longer be constrained by self-imposed moratoriums leader Kim Jong Un had followed since just before he first met U.S. President Donald Trump in 2018. At their Singapore summit that year, Kim agreed to refrain from testing nuclear weapons or long-range missiles. Unable to negotiate progress since, the two leaders have returned to issuing fiery rhetoric.

In more hopeful days, President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un greet each other at their Hanoi summit in February 2019. Nearly one year later, their inflammatory rhetoric has resumed. (Photo: Vietnam News Agency/Getty Images)North Korea’s “powerful nuclear deterrent capable of containing the nuclear threats from the U.S.” would be placed on “constant alert,” Kim said at the fifth plenary meeting of the 7th Central Committee of the Worker’s Party of Korea, held Dec. 28–31 in Pyongyang. “The scope and depth of [North Korea’s] deterrent will be properly coordinated depending on the U.S. future attitude towards the DPRK,” he said, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

Citing Washington’s failure to ease its “hostile policy,” Kim declared that North Korea is no longer “unilaterally bound” to its commitments, alluding to a possible resumption of testing this year.

Taken with Kim’s mention of a “promising strategic weapon system” and an announcement that North Korea would be “chilling [its] efforts for worldwide nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation,” Kim’s speech at the plenary meeting suggests that North Korea’s nuclear weapons development may intensify in the new year.

Pyongyang’s decision to step further back from the negotiating table—where the conclusion of a North Korean denuclearization agreement with Washington was once possible—did not occur within a vacuum. In the last month of 2019, Washington and Pyongyang resorted to hostile rhetoric and provocative threats that further strained their already inimical bilateral relationship. A look back at the year in review indicates that both the United States and North Korea missed opportunities to make progress toward goals of denuclearization and peacebuilding agreed upon at the 2018 summit between Kim and Trump.

Kim and Trump met Feb. 27–28 in Hanoi, Vietnam, for the first time after the historic June 2018 summit in Singapore. In Hanoi, they discussed objectives enshrined in a joint declaration released after their Singapore meeting, namely denuclearization and peacebuilding on the Korean peninsula. According to North Korea’s foreign minister Ri Yong Ho, the Hanoi summit ended abruptly after the Trump administration demanded “one more thing” of Pyongyang in addition to its offer to trade permanent dismantlement of uranium and plutonium production facilities at the Yongbyon nuclear complex for a partial removal of UN sanctions. At a news conference in Hanoi, Trump said North Korea wanted sanctions lifted “in their entirety” for partial denuclearization, signaling a clear disconnect between Washington and Pyongyang’s interpretation of the summit.

Kim remarked in an April 12 speech before the Supreme People’s Assembly that Pyongyang would entertain negotiations “one more time,” if Washington were to propose a third summit. The North Korean leader demanded that the United States amend its “methodology” to “lay down unilateral requirements and seek constructive solutions,” adding that Pyongyang had already initiated “crucial and significant measures,” referring to North Korea’s self-imposed moratoriums. Kim gave the Trump administration until the end of the year to change its negotiating stance, or the “prospects for solving a problem will be bleak and very dangerous.”

The two leaders met once more, in Panmunjom at the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea on June 30, where they agreed to resume working-level talks.

Ahead of the subsequent round of talks, held Oct. 4–5 in Stockholm, Sweden, Vox reported that the United States would propose trading a three-year suspension of UN sanctions on North Korea’s textile and coal exports in exchange for verifiable closure of the Yongbyon facility and an additional measure—likely ending uranium enrichment. The offer appeared to build on what Ri Yong Ho disclosed was on the table in Hanoi and included, as the Trump administration demanded, an additional concession by North Korea.

While unconfirmed, this proposed exchange aligned with the Trump administration’s apparent shift in negotiating approach. Trump said in September he was open to a “new method” for talks, and, while Trump did not provide any details, North Korea’s chief negotiator Kim Myong Gil praised Trump for taking a more flexible approach. Until then, the Trump administration’s strategy had largely centered on demanding North Korea’s full denuclearization in return for sanctions alleviation.

Kim Myong Gil said that a new method was the “best option” and suggested that “second thought” be given to the possibility of a “step-by-step solution starting with the things feasible first while building trust in each other,” likely referring to North Korea’s preference for an incremental approach that exchanges steps toward denuclearization for actions by the United States to lift sanctions and address Pyongyang’s security concerns. While the details of the Stockholm meeting remain unclear, a spokesperson for North Korea’s Foreign Ministry described the talks as “sickening” in an Oct. 6 statement released by the Korean Central News Agency.

Just as after Hanoi, it appears that Washington and Pyongyang left Stockholm with vastly different takeaways from their working-level talks. Washington proposed meeting again two weeks later, according to an Oct. 5 press release published by the State Department. But North Korea’s foreign ministry, in the spokesperson’s Oct. 6 statement, said it was “not likely at all” that the United States could “propose a proposal commensurate to the expectations of the DPRK and to the concerns of the world in just [a] fortnight.” The Oct. 4–5 working-level talks marked the last formal diplomatic exchange between the United States and North Korea of 2019.

Though Kim’s year-end deadline for negotiations with the United States expired on Dec. 31, Kim acknowledged in his plenary meeting speech that North Korea “urgently need[s]” engagement with the international community for “economic construction.”

Kim did not entirely denounce the possibility of continued bilateral talks with the United States, but he warned that “the more the U.S. stalls for time and hesitates in the settlement of the DPRK-U.S. relations, the more helpless it will find itself.” North Korea could “never sell [its] dignity,” Kim said, reiterating Pyongyang’s long-standing refusal to concede its nuclear weapons program without U.S. concessions in return.

North Korea will no longer bide earlier unilateral commitments to refrain from nuclear and long-range missile testing.

North Korea, China, Russia Converge Positions

January/February 2020
By Julia Masterson

Russia and China proposed partially lifting UN Security Council sanctions on North Korea on Dec. 16, in an effort to reinstate a diplomatic process, according to the Russian news agency Tass. Ahead of the draft resolution’s release, Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya said on Dec. 11 that “sanctions will not substitute for diplomacy. It is impossible to reach an agreement without offering something in return.”

Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya speaks to the UN Security Council meeting in January 2019. He has advocated using fewer sanctions and more diplomacy as part of a threeway effort to ease international tensions about North Korea. (Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images)Starting in 2018, China, North Korea, and Russia have held trilateral talks that have received less international attention than the stalled U.S.-North Korean diplomatic efforts to reach a settlement on denuclearization and peace on the Korean peninsula. The talks appear to have focused so far on converging the three countries’ positions to strengthen Pyongyang’s stance in negotiations with Washington. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Nov. 8 that the independent trilateral initiative should not be considered a substitute for the U.S.-North Korean dialogue, but the co-sponsored draft resolution purportedly calls for the “prompt resumption of the six-party talks or re-launch of multilateral consultations in any other similar format, with the goal of facilitating a peaceful and comprehensive solution through dialogue,” signaling Russia’s and China’s mounting interest in collaborating formally on North Korea’s denuclearization process.

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui met with Russian officials twice in Moscow in November to discuss “international issues of mutual concern” and shared “views on the situation of the Korean peninsula,” according to statements issued by the state-run Korean Central News Agency. Choe met for the first time with counterparts in Beijing and in Moscow in October 2018.

Based on reporting by the South China Morning Post, initial conversations appear to have centered on gaining support for Pyongyang’s preference for reciprocal concessions, trading North Korean steps toward denuclearization for a gradual alleviation of U.S. and UN sanctions, as well as actions to address Pyongyang’s security concerns. According to a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement released after the October meeting, “it is time to start considering the adjustment of the UN Security Council’s sanctions regime” against North Korea.

The Dec. 16 draft resolution reiterated this call and specifically recommended exempting from sanctions “certain industrial machinery and transportation vehicles which are used for infrastructure construction and cannot be diverted to…nuclear and ballistic missile programmes,” among other things. It also urged “further practical steps to reduce military tension on the Korean Peninsula and probability of any military confrontation by all appropriate means, such as, but not limited to, conclusion of agreements between military officials, and adoption of formal declaration and/or a peace treaty for the end of the Korean war.”

Faced with mounting pressure from Pyongyang, the Trump administration, which has long maintained that North Korea’s full denuclearization must precede sanctions relief, may be moving toward an increasingly more flexible negotiation stance. At a UN Security Council meeting on Dec. 11, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft noted that Washington “remain[s] ready to take actions in parallel, and to simultaneously take concrete steps toward this agreement” and added that the United States is “prepared to be flexible in how we approach this matter.” At the same meeting, a Chinese representative reminded that it is “imperative” that economic sanctions on North Korea be eased, and Nebenzya affirmed that progress is impossible for as long as North Korea is “told to unequivocally agree to all conditions that are imposed for the promise of future benefits.”

Nebenzya’s comments closely echoed those of Lavrov’s at the Moscow Nonproliferation Conference on Nov. 8, where he spoke on Moscow’s and Beijing’s preference for an “action-by-action, step-by-step” approach to North Korean denuclearization.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has held summits with Russian and Chinese leaders throughout 2018 and 2019 in addition to his two with U.S. President Donald Trump. Kim met Russian President Vladimir Putin once, in April 2019, and Chinese President Xi Jinping most recently in June 2019.

The three nations have been engaged in discussions while U.S.-North Korean diplomacy gains larger headlines.

BWC States Discuss New Technologies

January/February 2020

States-parties to the 1975 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) discussed the implications of emerging technologies and strategies to bolster emergency preparedness during their annual meeting in Geneva on Dec. 3–6.

The BWC bans the development or possession of biological weapons, but rapid advances in the biotechnology field require treaty participants to keep abreast of developments that could have military applications. The treaty has 183 states-parties and four signatory states. Only 10 states have not signed the treaty.

One expert recently stressed the BWC’s fundamental role in creating a global norm against the use of biological weapons. “Any government with any life science capability can now sequence and synthesize whatever it would like to do. Genomes can be engineered to give them new, potentially dangerous characteristics, transforming pathogens that are now benign into pathogens that have the ability to spread or be lethal,” said Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health and Security at Johns Hopkins University, in Nov. 20 testimony before the Senate Armed Services emerging threats subcommittee. To adequately respond to genome sequencing and other emerging, destabilizing technologies, Inglesby advocated for governmental efforts to strengthen the BWC and its implementation by states.—JULIA MASTERSON

BWC States Discuss New Technologies

Iran Announces New Nuclear Deal Breach | P4+1 and Iran Nuclear Deal Alert

Iran Announces New Nuclear Deal Breach Iran announced its fifth breach of the 2015 nuclear deal Jan. 5, stating that it “discards the last key component of its operational limitations” put in place by agreement. In the Jan. 5 statement Iran said its nuclear program “no longer faces any operational restrictions,” however Foreign Minister Javad Zarif did say that Iran will still continue to “fully cooperate” with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Zarif’s statement implies that Tehran intends to abide by the additional monitoring and verification measures put in place by the nuclear...

Getting Iran's Nuclear Compliance Straight

News Source / Outlet: 
Wall Street Journal
News Date: 
January 2, 2020 -05:00


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