“I also want to thank Daryl Kimball and the Arms Control Association for allowing me to address all of you today and for being such effective advocates for sensible policies to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and most importantly, reduce the risk of nuclear war.”

– Joseph Biden, Jr.
January 28, 2004
Julia Masterson

Russia, China Skip Syrian Chemical Weapons Meeting

June 2020
By Julia Masterson

Russia and China boycotted a May 12 meeting of UN Security Council members and high-ranking officials of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) held to discuss the findings of the OPCW’s April 2020 report that blamed the Syrian Air Force for three incidents of chemical weapons use in a rebel-held Syrian town in March 2017. (See ACT, May 2020.)

The meeting was originally intended to be held as a formal session to examine the implementation of Security Council Resolution 2118, which calls for the verified destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons and preceded the international effort to destroy Syria’s declared stockpile. Instead, council president Estonia opted to hold the meeting in a closed setting using teleconference communications. Syria, although not a council member, was invited to participate in the discussion.

Russia did not join the dialogue and criticized the private setting of the meeting. Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, said holding a meeting to discuss Resolution 2118 and the OPCW report behind closed doors contradicted “the slogans of openness and transparency of the Security Council” and “undermine[d] the prerogatives of states-parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention.” China abstained from the meeting without comment.

The United Kingdom criticized Russia’s absence, saying Moscow was politicizing the discussion of chemical weapons use in Syria and seeking to undermine the OPCW’s work.—JULIA MASTERSON

Russia, China Skip Syrian Chemical Weapons Meeting

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U.S. Seeks Iran Arms Embargo Extension The United States is considering a range of options to prevent the October 2020 expiration of a UN embargo that restricts arms sales to and from Iran. Those options include making a legal case that the United States remains a bona fide participant of the nuclear deal with Iran that it withdrew from in May 2018 in order to use a Security Council provision to block the embargo’s expiration. The embargo’s October 2020 expiration date is written into UN Security Council Resolution 2231 , which endorses and helps implement the nuclear deal, formally called...

OPCW Blames Syria for 2017 Attacks

May 2020
By Julia Masterson

The new investigative team for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) concluded in its inaugural report April 8 that Syria's air force was responsible for a series of chemical weapons attacks using sarin and chlorine in March 2017.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley holds up photos of victims of the Syrian chemical attack during a meeting of the UN Security Council on, April 5, 2017. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)The OPCW Investigation and Identification Team began its work in June 2019 with a mandate to attribute responsibility for chemical weapons use in Syria, which has continued throughout the Syrian civil war and despite the destruction of the vast bulk of Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpile following its accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in 2013.

The OPCW began investigating instances of chemical use in Syria in 2014 through its Fact-Finding Mission, which was created as an impartial body mandated to confirm only the use or nonuse of chemical weapons. In 2015 the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2235 establishing the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) to attribute responsibility for the chemical attacks identified by the mission.

But after the JIM implicated the Syrian government in four of the six chemical incidents it investigated, Russia vetoed the extension of the UN Security Council mandate in 2017. (See ACT, December 2017.)

In response, the majority of OPCW states-parties sought new ways to continue investigative work and hold CWC violators accountable. In 2018, two-thirds of the OPCW Conference of States Parties voted to establish the investigative team. Now, the team continues the attribution work of the JIM under the sole authority of the OPCW, seeking to name the perpetrators responsible for the chemical attacks identified by the mission but not previously investigated by the joint UN-OPCW body. (See ACT, July/August 2018.)

The team’s first report focuses on chemical attacks on March 24, March 25, and March 30, 2017, in the rebel-held town of Ltamenah, Syria. Through interviews with witnesses, analyses of flight data, and other investigative methods, the team concluded that the Syrian air force released sarin on March 24 and March 30 and chlorine on March 25 from military airplanes and helicopters.

The team also identified a key chemical component linking the sarin dropped over Ltamenah to sarin produced by the Syrian government. During a 2017 JIM investigation into chemical weapons use in Khan Shaykuhn, Syria, inspectors compared recovered chemical munitions to samples retained in OPCW labs after Syria’s chemical weapons destruction and identified the shared presence of an impurity called phosphorus hexafluoride. The OPCW established that Syria uses phosphorus hexafluoride in its production of methylphosphonyl difluoride, which is a precursor chemical of sarin and creates the volatile nerve agent when combined with isopropyl alcohol and hexamine.

According to a JIM report released in October 2017, the OPCW regards the impurity as a “marker chemical” for methylphosphonyl difluoride produced in Syrian labs. During its investigation into the Ltamenah attacks, the team compared a sample of a munition recovered from the March 30 attack to the methylphosphonyl difluoride in Syria’s stockpile and found a strong correlation, indicating that the sarin used in Ltamenah was created using chemicals originating in the Syrian stockpile.

The team confirmed that the attacks could only “occur pursuant to the orders from the highest levels of the Syrian Arab Armed Forces” and that the commander in chief of the armed forces, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, was the “lead decision maker.” The team also learned during its investigation that senior Syrian military officials involved with the country’s chemical weapons program were ordered March 21, 2017, to “prepare items for use in the defense of the Hama,” the area within which Ltamenah is located.

Following release of the report, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in an April 8 press release commended the team’s work and called on “other nations to join our efforts to promote accountability for the Syrian regime and uphold the norm against chemical weapons use.”

With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic preventing an in-person meeting of the OPCW Executive Council, the German Foreign Ministry urged in an April 15 statement that the council meet at the earliest possible opportunity to “take up the case” of Syrian noncompliance.

Despite widespread support for the OPCW team, efforts by some nations to undermine the OPCW’s credibility and question its findings continue. In an April 9 statement broadcast by the Syrian Arab News Agency, the Syrian Foreign and Expatriates Ministry disputed the team’s findings and said that Syria “condemns, in the strongest terms, what has come in the report of the illegitimate so-called Investigation and Identification Team, and rejects what has been concluded in it, in form and content.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry also denounced the team’s findings, claiming on April 9 that the report’s authors are “accomplices in the consistent violation of the basic principles and procedures of objective and unbiased investigations stipulated in the CWC.” According to Wyn Bowen, a former weapons inspector who now heads the School of Security Studies at King’s College London, “Moscow’s statements and actions around the OPCW appear to constitute a concerted effort to undermine the CWC and norms against chemical weapons development, ownership, and use.”

Russia’s endeavors to systematically discredit the OPCW may pose a problem as the international community seeks to hold perpetrators identified by the team accountable for their actions. Given the chemical signature confirming that the sarin used March 24 and 30, 2017, was produced in a Syrian lab and the flight data attributing all three incidents to Syrian military aircraft, the team’s report leaves little room for doubt about the role of the Syrian government in the March 2017 chemical attacks.

The team’s mandate extends to some 33 chemical incidents in Syria that were identified in prior investigations by the Fact-Finding Mission and where perpetrators were not named by the JIM. The April 8 report marks the first of several attribution reports by the new investigative body.

Investigators identified Syria's air force as responsible for March 2017 sarin attacks against rebel-held communities in Syria.

Pandemic Disrupts Security Meetings

May 2020
By Julia Masterson and Shannon Bugos

The global spread of the novel coronavirus has thrown into disarray the schedule of numerous international convenings on arms control and nonproliferation planned for this year.

Argentine diplomat Gustavo Zlauvinen, the president-designate of the 2020 review conference for the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, speaks to the UN Security Council on Feb. 26. He announced in April that he was seeking to postpone the review conference until January 2021. (Photo: Evan Schneider/UN)One of the largest conferences that has been postponed is the 10th review conference of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which will now take place no later than April 2021. (See ACT, April 2020.) Previously scheduled to begin April 27 at UN headquarters in New York City and last a month, the conference usually involves dozens of side events and the participation of hundreds of government officials from the 191 states-parties to the treaty, nongovernmental organizations, and meeting support personnel.

In a message dated April 17 to NPT states-parties, the president-designate of the review conference, Gustavo Zlauvinen, said, “Unfortunately, the lack of clarity surrounding when the current circumstances will end, combined with the number of General Assembly-mandated meetings that have been postponed, as well as the already heavy schedule of meetings for 2021, has led to significant constraints on the availability of rooms and conference services for the foreseeable future.”

Zlauvinen said that, “in light of those constraints, the only option that meets the requirements of States Parties between now and August 2021 is to hold the Review Conference at UN Headquarters from 4–29 January 2021.” He said he will seek a formal decision from states-parties to hold the review conference on those dates. Other options, he said, would require “significant downsizing, both in terms of the number of weeks for the Conference and the number of parallel meetings.”

The fourth conference of nuclear-weapon-free zones and Mongolia, scheduled to be held April 24, 2020, at the United Nations in New York, was also postponed. The group has met prior to NPT review conferences since 2005 to “analyze ways of cooperating that can contribute to achieving the universal goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.” Participation in the conference is open to states-parties of the five extant free zones and Mongolia, which declared itself a nuclear-free territory in 2000. (See ACT, October 2012.) According to UN General Assembly Resolution 73/71, the conference planned for 2020, when held, will focus specifically on enhancing “consultations and cooperation” among the nuclear-free states. The April 24 conference has not been rescheduled.

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), located in Vienna, postponed its third Science Diplomacy Symposium likely until November. The CTBTO, which operates the International Monitoring System and data center to verify compliance with the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), holds this symposium every two years in order to highlight the CTBT’s contribution to international peace and security. The 2020 symposium aims to spotlight the value of increasing access to and use of scientific advice in policymaking and collaboration and cooperation between scientists and policymakers.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) postponed the 35th meeting of its Advisory Group on Nuclear Security scheduled to be held April 20–24 in Vienna. The group is comprised of experts who collaborate with the IAEA director-general to strengthen IAEA efforts to deter, detect, and react to nuclear and radiological terrorism. The group meets two times each year.

In the conventional arms space, Carlos Foradori of Argentina cancelled the April working group and preparatory meetings for the 6th Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty, which entered into force in 2014 and currently has 104 states-parties. The conference is still scheduled for August 17–21. As president of the conference, Foradori made the decision based upon UN guidelines and said he will develop “a plan that will allow our work to continue remotely in the intersessional period to ensure necessary decisions can be taken by [the conference] guiding the work of the next … cycle.”

Meetings regarding emerging technologies have also been modified due to pandemic-related public health restrictions, including the Berlin Forum on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems, originally scheduled for April 1–2, 2020. Instead, the German Foreign Ministry opted to convene the meeting virtually, drawing participation by 300 governmental and nongovernmental representatives of 70 countries worldwide. A statement published April 2 by the ministry reminds that, “in times of crisis, it is crucial that we continue to address urgent issues through international cooperation.”

The forum met to exchange ideas on guiding principles for a future framework governing the use of lethal autonomous weapons systems. Participants discussed definitions of the human role in the use of lethal force and norms surrounding these systems. According to a readout of the virtual meeting published by the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, the ministry intends to detail key points from the forum and to hold a follow-up conference in November 2020.

The majority of international events and conferences scheduled for late May or later have not yet officially addressed whether they will still take place. The second part of this year’s session of the Conference on Disarmament, for instance, remains scheduled to begin May 25. A meeting of the group of governmental experts on lethal autonomous weapons systems
is still planned for June. But the United States has shifted the 46th Group of Seven summit on June 10–12 to a video conference due to coronavirus concerns. The heads of state summit was originally intended to take place at Camp David, Maryland.

The coronavirus has forced the delay or cancellation of a wide range of arms control and nonproliferation meetings in the months ahead.

North Korea Spurns Diplomacy With United States

May 2020
By Julia Masterson

Pyongyang is no longer interested in diplomatic dialogue with Washington, according to a March 31 statement published by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). “We will go our own way. We want the U.S. not to bother us. If the U.S. bothers us, it will be hurt,” the statement asserted.

President Donald Trump speaks in the White House on April 28. He has reportedly reached out to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during the coronavirus pandemic, but North Korea has said it wants no more nuclear dialogue.  (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)The statement, authored by the unnamed director-general of North Korea’s new Foreign Ministry for Negotiations With the United States, was written in response to U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo’s plea to world leaders at the Group of Seven summit in March to “stay committed to applying diplomatic and economic pressure over [North Korea’s] illegal nuclear and ballistic missile program.”

Days before the summit, North Korea announced on March 22 through the KCNA that U.S. President Donald Trump had penned a personal letter to leader Kim Jong Un offering support through the coronavirus pandemic. North Korea has rejected such assistance from the United States, but accepted humanitarian assistance from other states.

Pompeo’s remarks on the heels of Trump’s offer led Pyongyang to “misjudge who the real chief executive is” in the United States. According to the March 31 statement, “[H]earing Pompeo’s reckless remarks, we dropped the interest in dialogue with further conviction, but have become more zealous in our important planned projects aimed to repay the U.S. with actual horror and unrest for the sufferings it has inflicted upon our people.”

An April 14 statement published by the KCNA notes that North Korea’s recently implemented annual state budget calls for “increasing the capability of national defence, by adjusting and reinforcing the economy as a whole, and concentrating investment in the training of talents and developing science and technology.” Changes to the national budget are reflective of North Korea’s ideological drive for self-reliance and self-defense.

At a meeting of the 7th Central Worker’s Party of Korea in December 2019, Kim said that “the huge and complicated work of developing the ultramodern weapon system possessed only by countries with advanced defence science and technology presupposed [Pyongyang’s] own innovative solution in terms of the scientific and technical aspect without anyone’s help.” Kim announced North Korea’s planned possession of a “promising strategic weapon” that would guarantee the country’s sovereignty and right to existence.

North Korea’s criticism of U.S. calls for maintaining international sanctions and its declaration of intent to improve its military capabilities are likely designed to show the regime’s frustration with what it sees as the inflexible position of the United States on denuclearization and peace talks following the unsuccessful Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi.

North Korea also continues to test new missile systems, including on April 14, the eve of the birthday of the North Korea’s first leader, Kim Il Sung, and South Korea’s general election. According to preliminary assessments by the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff, the round of tests on April 14 are believed to have been North Korea’s first launch of a cruise missile since June 2017.

A spokesperson for the U.S. State Department told South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency on April 15 that Washington “continue[s] to call on North Korea to avoid provocations, abide by obligations under U.N. Security Council Resolutions, and return to sustained and substantive negotiations to do its part to achieve complete denuclearization.”

Other U.S. officials, however, have downplayed the significance of the North Korean missile tests. Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley noted in an April 14 Pentagon briefing that the missile tests were not “particularly provocative or threatening” to the United States. Rather, he said they may have been “tied to some celebrations that are happening inside North Korea, as opposed to any deliberate provocation” against the United States.

Since announcing it would no longer be bound by its self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile testing, North Korea has conducted five rounds of tests of shorter-range missiles in 2020. (See ACT, April 2020.) North Korea has not tested a long-range missile since ending its moratorium, but many independent missile experts assess that Pyongyang’s continued testing of its shorter-range systems are an indication that North Korea is also pursuing the further development of longer- and possibly intercontinental-range missiles.

North Korea has continued to test new missile systems and develop other new weapons as the United States aims to press sanctions.

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Iran Delays Announcing Nuclear Achievements The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) announced March 27 that it developed a new advanced centrifuge and would unveil the machine in April, but it appears that event may have been postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The AEOI may have intended to display the new centrifuge during a ceremony marking the country’s National Nuclear Technology Day, an annual event during which officials recap the country’s nuclear accomplishments of the past year. National Nuclear Technology Day was scheduled for April 8, but Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman...

OPCW Investigation Confirms Syria Responsible for Three Chemical Attacks in 2017

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) concluded with confidence that Syria’s Air Force was responsible for sarin and chlorine attacks on the rebel-held town of Ltamenah in March 2017. The OPCW’s findings are detailed in an inaugural April 8 report by the organization’s Investigation and Identification Team (IIT), a body established with a mandate to attribute responsibility for the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Chemical weapons attacks have continued on an irregular basis throughout the country’s ongoing civil war, despite Syria’s accession to the Chemical...

Iran Boosts Enriched Uranium Stockpile

April 2020
By Julia Masterson

Iran has accumulated approximately 1,021 kilograms of low-enriched uranium (LEU), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) detailed in a report released March 3. The report notes that Iran is continuing to expand its uranium-enrichment program and is now accumulating enriched material from all 1,044 first-generation IR-1 centrifuge machines at its Fordow facility and from 5,060 IR-1s and a limited number of advanced model machines at its Natanz facility.

IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi speaks to the media on March 9. He told the agency's Board of Governors the same day that Iran has continued to allow the IAEA to conduct its activities defined by the 2015 nuclear deal. (Photo: Dean Calma/IAEA)Under the 2015 nuclear deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran’s LEU stockpile is capped at 300 kilograms of uranium hexafluoride gas enriched to 3.67 percent uranium-235 and is limited to output from 5,060 IR-1 centrifuges at Natanz. Three hundred kilograms of uranium hexafluoride gas equates to about 202 kilograms of uranium by weight.

Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile is now about five times larger than the JCPOA limit. The stockpile’s size shortens Iran’s breakout time, the time it would take to produce enough nuclear material for one weapon, if Tehran were to choose to pursue nuclear weapons development. How quickly Iran could produce enough fissile material for a weapon depends on several factors, including the number and type of operating centrifuges. When the JCPOA was fully implemented, Iran’s breakout time was estimated to be 12 months.

Iran’s growing uranium stockpile should not necessarily be perceived as a sprint to the bomb. Iran continues to comply with the IAEA on-site verification and monitoring activities that are designed specifically to detect higher levels of enrichment and a diversion of materials for weapons purposes, said IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi at his agency’s Board of Governors meeting on March 9.

In addition to its comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA, required of all non-nuclear-weapon states party to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Iran is obligated under the JCPOA to adhere to an additional protocol to its safeguards agreement that allows inspectors increased access and tools to verify the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program. The JCPOA grants the IAEA a long-term presence in Iran and allows the agency to continuously monitor Iran’s uranium enrichment, among other things.

“The agency continues to verify the nondiversion of nuclear materials declared by Iran under its safeguards agreement,” Grossi said, adding that the agency is undertaking investigations into Iran’s undeclared nuclear activities.

Grossi also said that despite Iran’s Jan. 5 announcement that it would no longer be bound by the deal’s operational restrictions, “to date, the agency has not observed any changes to Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA.”

Iran continues to comply fully with its JCPOA-related safeguards and monitoring commitments and to adhere to the deal’s prohibition on plutonium reprocessing, according to the March 3 report. Iran also has not installed any additional IR-1 centrifuges at the Natanz facility and has not taken steps to pursue construction of the Arak heavy-water reactor under its original design, in keeping with the deal’s requirements that Iran install no more than 5,060 IR-1 centrifuges at Natanz and convert the Arak reactor to produce less plutonium.

Tehran’s Jan. 5 announcement marked its fifth breach of the nuclear deal since it first began reducing its compliance with the agreement in May 2019. Nevertheless, Iran’s violations likely are not indicative of imminent nuclear weapons development but are rather an attempt by Tehran to pressure the remaining parties to the JCPOA to offer sanctions relief promised under the deal.

In response to Iran’s escalatory measures, the European members of the nuclear deal (France, Germany, and the United Kingdom) triggered the deal’s dispute resolution mechanism Jan. 14 in an effort to facilitate dialogue necessary to address Iran’s noncompliance and salvage the agreement. The dispute resolution mechanism, laid out in the text of the JCPOA, provides for a 15-day period of discussions within the governing Joint Commission, which comprises the deal’s remaining members. The time-bound period for discussions within the Joint Commission can be extended by consensus vote.

EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell, who chairs the Joint Commission, announced on Jan. 24 that “there is agreement that more time is needed due to the complexity of the issues involved. The timeline is therefore extended.”

The members of the Joint Commission met for the first time Feb. 26 in Vienna. The meeting was attended by representatives from China, France, Germany, Iran, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the European Union.

In his statement following that session, Borrell said that “serious concerns were expressed regarding the implementation of Iran’s nuclear commitments under the agreement,” but added that “participants also acknowledged that the reimposition of U.S. sanctions did not allow Iran to reap the full benefits arising from sanctions lifting.”

Borrell remarked that a series of expert-level discussions had taken place in recent weeks regarding Iran’s violations of the JCPOA and Washington’s reimposition of sanctions following the U.S. withdrawal from the deal in May 2018. Although he did not clarify whether the Joint Commission period of the dispute resolution mechanism would be further extended, Borrell noted that expert-level discussions would continue to move forward.

“All participants [in the Feb. 26 meeting] reaffirmed the importance of preserving the agreement, recalling that it is a key element of the global nuclear nonproliferation architecture,” Borrell said.


As Iran stores more nuclear material than allowed by the 2015 nuclear deal, it continues to allow IAEA monitoring of its nuclear activities.

North Korea Tests First Missiles of 2020

April 2020
By Julia Masterson

North Korea launched a series of short-range missiles in March, marking its first missile tests in 2020 and signaling Pyongyang’s intent to follow through with leader Kim Jong Un’s promise to possess a “new strategic weapon” in the near future. Kim announced North Korea would continue to develop “necessary and prerequisite strategic weapons” throughout the year in his speech at a plenary meeting of the 7th Central Committee of the Worker's Party of Korea, held Dec. 28–31.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un observes missile tests on March 21. (Photo: KCNA)Images released by Pyongyang’s Korea Central TV confirm that the two short-range ballistic missiles launched on March 21 had similar features to the KN-24 missile last tested in August 2019. Kim oversaw the recent test, according to a March 22 statement in the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

The statement said that the tested missile will “be delivered to [Korean Peoples’ Army] units,” which analysts have speculated may indicate the missile could soon be operational. In a statement a day earlier, KCNA reported the launches were part of an “artillery fire competition between large combined units of the Korean People’s Army.”

The launch came after weeks of successive short-range ballistic missile tests by North Korea following a Feb. 29 KCNA announcement that Kim had overseen a military drill intended to “judge the mobility and the fire power strike ability” of North Korea’s Korean People’s Army’s defense units.

All the March tests appear to have been of short-range ballistic missiles, meaning they can fly less than 500 kilometers. Two missiles launched on March 2 bore some similarity to previous flight tests of North Korea’s KN-25 short-range ballistic missile, according to Michael Elleman, a missile expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). A statement released on March 2 by South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) via the Yonhap News Agency further identified “similarities in features between what it fired [March 2] and those launched last year.”

North Korea also tested three projectiles on March 9, all of which were KN-25 missiles, according to recently released IISS assessments.

“North Korea is believed to be continuing its joint strike drill,” said a senior South Korean JCS officer. Kim oversaw the March 9 launches and expressed “great satisfaction” and “highly appreciated the perfect combat readiness of the long-range artillery sub-units,” the KCNA reported the following day.

Those tests came one day after the North Korean Foreign Ministry responded through the KCNA to a joint statement released by five UN Security Council members condemning the March 2 launches. “The reckless behavior of these countries instigated by the U.S. will become the fuse that will trigger yet another momentous reaction,” the Foreign Ministry said.

After a March 5 meeting of the Security Council, Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom urged North Korea to “engage in good faith in meaningful negotiations with the United States aimed at denuclearization” and to abandon “all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner.”

South Korea’s presidential office said on March 9 that “North Korea continuing to stage joint massive artillery drills following those on Feb. 28 and March 2 does not help efforts to bring peace to the Korean peninsula.”

Despite allies’ mention of meaningful negotiations between the United States and North Korea, discussions on denuclearization and peacebuilding appear to remain stalled. (See ACT, March 2020).


Pyongyang tests short-range missiles in military exercises.

IAEA Raises Safeguards Questions | P4+1 and Iran Nuclear Deal Alert

IAEA Raises Safeguards Questions International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Rafael Grossi raised concerns in March about Tehran’s failure to cooperate with an agency investigation into possible storage and use of undeclared nuclear materials at three locations in Iran. In a March 3 report to the agency’s Board of Governors, Grossi outlined the agency’s efforts since January 2019 to request information from Iran about activities at the sites and documented Tehran’s refusal to cooperate with the agency’s investigation. Iran also refused the IAEA’s request in January 2020 to...


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