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– Gary Samore
Former White House Coordinator for Arms Control and WMD Terrorism
Israel

French Proposal on Hold as Tensions Mount | P4+1 and Iran Nuclear Deal Alert, September 24, 2019

French Proposal on Hold as Tensions Mount The latest attempt by European powers to salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear deal hit a roadblock this month when the Trump Administration hesitated to engage in a French-sponsored initiative. In August, French President Emmanuel Macron offered a proposal before world leaders at the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France for a $15 billion line of credit to Tehran in exchange for its full compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). According to the plan, the $15 billion credit line would be guaranteed by Iranian oil and would help compensate...

Compliance with Nuclear Arms Control and Nonproliferation Norms Is Eroding, New Study Finds

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All nuclear weapons possessor states failed to make progress to reduce their nuclear arsenals; Key states’ records in nine of 10 nonproliferation & disarmament categories have deteriorated.

For Immediate Release: July 10, 2019

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107

(Washington, DC)—A new, 80-page study published by the Arms Control Association evaluates the recent records of all the world’s nuclear-armed states, as well as several states of proliferation concern and finds that respect for key nuclear nonproliferation norms and internationally-recognized obligations and commitments is eroding.

The report, "Assessing Progress on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament, 2016-2019," is the fourth in a series that assesses the extent to which 11 key states are fulfilling, promoting, or undermining 10 standards identified as critical elements of the nonproliferation and disarmament regime.

Collectively, states fared worse on the majority of criteria when compared with the prior edition of the Arms Control Association’s Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament Report Card covering the 2013–2016 period.

The study comprehensively evaluates the records of China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, India, Israel, Pakistan, and North Korea—each of which possesses nuclear weapons—as well as Iran and Syria, which are states of proliferation concern, from 2016 through March 2019.

“Each of the states that possess nuclear weapons is taking steps to invest in new delivery systems and several are expanding the role of nuclear weapons in their security doctrines," noted Alicia Sanders-Zakre, a co-author of the report. "These trends increase the risk of nuclear weapons use,” she warned.

“Our review of actions—and inactions—by these 11 states suggest a worrisome trend away from long-standing, effective arms control and nonproliferation efforts," warned Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association and co-author of the report. "By documenting the policies of these states over the last decade, we hope this report will demonstrate that support for critical nonproliferation and disarmament norms is eroding.”  

Several of the key findings include:

  • The United States and Russia: The overall grades for both the United States (C+) and Russia (C+) dropped, due partly to Russia’s violation of a key bilateral arms control treaty and the U.S. decision to withdraw from that treaty in response. Both states also expanded the circumstances under which they would use nuclear weapons and are investing in new, destabilizing delivery systems.
     
  • France and the United Kingdom: These two states received the highest overall grades (B) of the 11 states assessed, but neither country has taken steps during the period covered in this report to make additional nuclear force reductions.
     
  • China, India, and Pakistan: All three of these states are increasing the size of their nuclear arsenals and are investing in new nuclear-capable delivery systems. New missiles being developed and fielded by all three suggest that these countries are now storing warheads mated with certain missiles or moving toward that step, which increases the risk of use. China’s overall grade was a C+; India and Pakistan both scored C.
     
  • North Korea: North Korea scored the worst of the states assessed in this report with an overall grade of F. Pyongyang continues to expand the country’s nuclear arsenal and is the only state to have tested a nuclear weapon during the timeframe covered. However, North Korea continues to abide by a voluntary nuclear and missile testing moratorium declared in April 2018 and appears willing to negotiate with the United States over its nuclear weapons program.
     
  • Iran: Through the period covered by this report and until June 2019, Tehran continued to adhere to the restrictions on its nuclear activities put in place by the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal over the course of this report, despite the United States’ withdrawal from the agreement last year and its decision to reimpose sanctions in violation of U.S. commitments. Iran, however, has transferred ballistic missile components in violation of international norms and Security Council restrictions, causing its overall grade to drop to C-.
     
  • Israel: Israeli actions over the past several years in support of ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty earned it a higher grade on the nuclear testing criteria, but its inaction on the Middle East Nuclear Weapons Free Zone and backsliding on negative security assurances caused its overall grade to drop to a C-.

The report reviews implementation and compliance with existing internationally-recognized obligations and commitments.

“The standards and benchmarks in our report do not necessarily represent our ideal strategy for addressing the nuclear weapons threat,” noted Davenport. “New and more ambitious multilateral nonproliferation and disarmament strategies will be needed to meet to future nuclear challenges,” she remarked.

Last week, the U.S. State Department convened a meeting involving more than three-dozen countries, including the five original nuclear weapon states, to discuss steps to improve the environment for nuclear disarmament.

“We hope this report card can serve as a tool to help hold states accountable to their existing commitments and encourage effective action needed to strengthen efforts to prevent the spread and use of the world’s most dangerous weapons,” noted Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. 

“We encourage all states who are serious about strengthening the global nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament enterprise to commit themselves to meet and exceed the existing goals and objectives to reduce and eliminate the nuclear danger,” he urged.

The full report can be accessed at www.armscontrol.org/reports

Description: 

A new report details the extent to which 11 key states are fulfilling, promoting, or undermining 10 standards identified as critical elements of the nonproliferation and disarmament regime. 

Assessing Progress on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament: 2016-2019 Report Card

This report is the fourth in a series that assesses the extent to which 11 key states are fulfilling, promoting, or undermining 10 standards identified as critical elements of the nonproliferation and disarmament regime during the period between 2016 and June 2019.

Collectively, states fared worse on the majority of criteria when compared with the prior edition, which covered the 2013–2016 period.

Download this report.

U.S., Israel Conduct Joint THAAD Exercise

For the first time, the United States deployed a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) ballistic missile defense battery to Israel for a month-long readiness exercise. The early March exercise served as “a demonstration of the United States’ continued commitment to Israel’s regional security,” said a March 4 statement by the U.S. European Command.

The deployment to southern Israel in the Negev desert was unrelated to a specific event, but helped Israel to integrate the system into the nation’s defenses and “simulate different scenarios,” according to Israel Defense Forces spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus.

Designed to intercept short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, the THAAD system uses an X-band radar that Israel has deployed at its Nevatim airbase since 2008.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the THAAD system, noting in a March 4 statement that “together with our defense systems we are even stronger in order to deal with near and distant threats from throughout the Middle East.” The deployment occurs during a push to tighten U.S.-Israeli military cooperation following U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement of U.S. troop reductions in Syria and amid tensions with Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Israeli missile defense systems also include the Iron Dome system, designed to intercept short-range rockets and artillery shells, and Patriot and Arrow ballistic missile defense systems. Israel is testing an advanced version of David’s Sling, an air defense and tactical missile defense system.—SHERVIN TAHERAN

U.S., Israel Conduct Joint THAAD Exercise

Israel Claims Secret Nuclear Site in Iran


November 2018
By Kelsey Davenport

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed what he described as a secret nuclear warehouse in Iran and publicly called for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to visit the site, putting pressure on the international watchdog agency that could hamper its independence.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, addressing the United Nations, uses a visual aid to highlight his allegations about a “secret atomic warehouse” in Tehran. His comments were misleading, according to two U.S. intelligence officials cited by Reuters. (Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)Netanyahu’s allegations come as the United States is pressuring countries to support its sanctions on Iran and as the remaining P4+1 parties (China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom) to the July 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran are taking steps to work around the coercive U.S. measures and preserve the accord. (See ACT, October 2018.)

Speaking at the UN General Assembly on Sept. 27, Netanyahu described the facility in central Tehran as a “secret atomic warehouse for storing massive amounts of equipment and material from Iran’s secret nuclear weapons program.” Netanyahu called on IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano to “do the right thing” and inspect the warehouse “immediately” before Iran finished clearing it out.

Amano pushed back in an Oct. 2 statement, saying that the agency does not take any information at “face value.” Although Amano did not mention Netanyahu directly, he said that all material, including that received from third parties, is subject to a rigorous and independent assessment. Further, Amano said that IAEA nuclear verification work “must always be impartial, factual, and professional” and that the agency’s independence is “of paramount importance.”

Netanyahu’s remarks garnered headlines around the world, but it remains unclear whether the facility is of interest to the IAEA. Still, Netanyahu’s comments could complicate work by the agency. IAEA inspectors should visit the facility if their assessment determines that an inspection is warranted. Yet, if inspectors visit the site now, it may appear as if the IAEA is acting at Israel’s behest, which would jeopardize the agency’s credibility and independence.

Brandishing a picture of the facility, Netanyahu charged that Iran removed 15 kilograms of radioactive material from the warehouse in August. It is not clear if Netanyahu was referring to uranium, plutonium, or another radioactive material. Possession of undeclared uranium or plutonium would violate Iran’s safeguards agreement and the multilateral nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, but radioactive materials used for a variety of purposes, including medical and industrial activities, are not subject to the same restrictions.

U.S. intelligence officials also disputed Netanyahu’s description of the facility and said his comments were misleading. One intelligence official quoted by Reuters on Sept. 27 said that the facility has been known to the U.S. intelligence community for some time and is full of documents, not nuclear equipment. The officials said that “so far as anyone knows, there is nothing in it that would allow Iran to break out” of the nuclear deal any faster. Iranian officials immediately denounced Netanyahu’s accusation as a farce, and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on Sept. 30 that Netanyahu is “desperately seeking to find a pretext to create hype” about Iran’s nuclear program.

This is the second time Netanyahu has publicly revealed what he describes as secret information tied to Iran’s nuclear weapons program. In February 2018, Israel stole archival material from a facility in Iran that appears to document activities related to the country’s nuclear weapons development and shared the information with several states and the IAEA.

Netanyahu publicly revealed that the raid took place and released some details from the stolen material at a press conference in April, just weeks before U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear agreement and reimpose sanctions, despite Iran’s compliance with the provisions of the deal. Israel is one of the few states that encouraged Trump to withdraw from the accord.

In his Sept. 27 speech, Netanyahu claimed that the IAEA “has still not taken any action” following up on the archival material and “has not demanded to inspect a single new site.”

The information shared publicly confirms what the IAEA and the U.S. intelligence community already concluded, that Iran had an organized illicit nuclear weapons program that it abandoned in 2003, although some activities continued. The IAEA reported in 2015 that it had no evidence of nuclear activities with military dimensions after 2009.

Netanyahu’s allegation that the IAEA has done nothing appears to be at odds with the U.S. assessment.

During the IAEA Board of Governors meeting on Sept. 11–14, Nicole Shampaine, an official at the U.S. mission in Vienna, told the board that the United States supports the agency’s “careful assessment of the newly acquired archive materials.” She said any “concern” related to undeclared nuclear activities or material must be pursued and the United States has “full confidence” in the IAEA and its inspectors “to do so appropriately.”

If any of the archival material indicated that Iran pursued illicit nuclear activities after the nuclear deal was concluded, it is likely that the Trump administration would have accused Iran of violating the agreement and its safeguards obligations under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), given Trump’s animosity toward the accord.

The U.S. State Department released a report in April that concluded Iran is in compliance with its NPT obligations and, through 2017, with the Iran nuclear deal.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s charge draws pushback from the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Arms Control and Proliferation Profile: Israel

July 2018

 

Though Israeli officials have never confirmed or denied the existence of the country’s nuclear weapons and have stated that Israel will not be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons in the Middle East, experts estimate that it possesses 80-90 nuclear warheads and enough fissile material for 200 total warheads. Israel has deliberately maintained a highly ambiguous nuclear posture and nuclear doctrine and has been secretive about its capabilities, but it is believed to have developed a nuclear triad for delivering its nuclear weapons. Some reports have claimed that Israel maintains offensive biological and chemical weapons activities. Israel is not a party to the NPT and never signed or ratified the Biological Weapons Convention and signed but never ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention. Israeli officials have been vocal critics of the nuclear deal with Iran, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and have made public threats to attack Iranian nuclear facilities. Israel has taken military action in the past against what it considered were proliferation threats in Iraq and Syria.

Contents

Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties

Export Control Regimes, Nonproliferation Initiatives, and Safeguards

Nuclear Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

  • The Nuclear Arsenal, an Overview 
  • Delivery Systems
  • Fissile Material
  • Proliferation Record
  • Nuclear Doctrine

Biological Weapons

Chemical Weapons

Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities

  • Conference on Disarmament (CD)
  • Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone (WMDFZ) 
  • Nuclear Security Summits
  • Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)

Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties

 

Signed

Ratified

Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

---

---

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

1996

---

Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM)

1983

2002

CPPNM 2005 Amendment

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2012

Chemical Weapons Convention

1993

---

Biological Weapons Convention

---

---

International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism

2006

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Export Control Regimes, Nonproliferation Initiatives, and Safeguards

Group

Status

Australia Group

Not a member

Missile Technology Control Regime

Not a member but Israel has committed to maintaining export controls consistent with the regime

Nuclear Suppliers Group

Not a member

Wassenaar Arrangement

Not a member, but Israel has a domestic law that adopts all Wassenaar controls. 

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol

Israel has not negotiated such an agreement.

Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism

Participant

Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation

Not a participant

Proliferation Security Initiative

Participant

UN Security Council Resolutions 1540 and 1673

Israel has filed the requested reports on its activities to fulfill the resolutions and volunteered to provide assistance to other states.

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Nuclear Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

The Nuclear Arsenal, an Overview

Israel has never officially acknowledged that it possesses nuclear weapons and is not party to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. In 2011, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated the official Israeli stance that Israel will not “be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East.” Experts estimate that Israel has a nuclear arsenal of about 80-90 warheads, as of June 2019, with enough additional material for up to 200 nuclear weapons. Israel is believed to have developed a nuclear triad for delivering its nuclear warheads. 

Delivery Systems

Ballistic Missiles

  • Israel is believed to field an arsenal of nuclear-capable Jericho-II and Jericho–III missiles. The Jericho series is based on French technology and are likely road-and rail-mobile.
  • Israel is estimated to have anywhere from 25-100 Jericho missiles but most sources estimate that it possesses about 50. 
  • The short-range Jericho-I was first deployed in the early 1970s and has a range of 500 km but was retired from service in the 1990s.
  • The 1,500 km medium-range Jericho-II followed in the 1980s.
  • The Jericho-III is believed to have entered service in 2011. It was first tested in 2008 and again in 2011. Its range is estimated to be in between 4,800-6,500km, which would classify it as an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

Submarines and Submarine-Launched Cruise Missile (SLCM)

  • There is uncertainty about Israel’s ability to launch nuclear weapons from sea-based platforms. Nonetheless, it is widely assumed that Israel possesses the capability.
  • Israel’s sea-based nuclear forces are based on five Dolphin-class submarines constructed by and acquired from Germany for the Israeli Navy beginning in 2000. A sixth submarine has been purchased and is expected to be delivered in 2018.
  • Israel is believed to have retrofitted the Dolphin-class vessels with an indigenously developed, dual-capable, submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM) system with an estimated range of 1,500 km, although the Israeli government has denied its existance.
    • The British paper the Sunday Times reported the test of a nuclear version of this missile off the coast of Sri Lanka in June 2000.  
    • In June 2002, former State Department and Pentagon officials confirmed that the U.S. Navy observed Israeli missile tests in the Indian Ocean in 2000 and that the Dolphin-class has been fitted with nuclear-capable cruise missiles of a new design. 
  • There have been rumors that Israel’s SLCM in question is a modified version of the U.S.-supplied Harpoon anti-ship cruise missile or the Israeli Popeye Turbo air-launched missile.

Strategic Bombers

  • Very little is known about Israel’s air-based nuclear forces. It is estimated that Israel maintains 30 nuclear gravity bombs to be delivered by aircraft.
  • The Israeli military possesses 205 F-16 Falcons and 25 F-15 Eagle aircrafts, some of which are believed to be equipped for nuclear weapon delivery.

Fissile Material

  • Very little is known about Israel’s fissile materials production or stockpiles. The Israel Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) is responsible for overseeing the country’s nuclear activities.

Plutonium

  • According to the 2015 Global Fissile Material Report, Israel may still produce plutonium for weapons via its 50-year-old Dimona (Negev Nuclear Research Center) plutonium production reactor constructed by France. The Dimona facility may also be used solely for producing tritium and the associated lithium-6 at this point.
  • As of January 2017, Israel is estimated to possess 860 kg of weapons-grade plutonium.

Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU)

  • As of 2017, Israel’s stockpile of HEU is estimated at approximately 300 kg; this stockpile may have been transferred from the United States in the 1960s, although that is not publically acknowledged by either government.

Proliferation Record

  • Although a major exporter of conventional arms and military equipment, Israel is not known to have deliberately or significantly contributed to the spread of biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons to other states, although the extent of Israel’s involvement in South Africa’s previously secret, now abandoned, nuclear weapons program is uncertain.
  • Under U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” program, Israel received nuclear training and technology potentially utilized in its nuclear weapons program. 
  • In 1994, the United States placed sanctions on Nahum Manbar, an Israeli businessman accused of supplying Iran with chemicals for its chemical weapons program.
  • The Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) has regularly published defensive chemical weapon research openly, along with other Israeli institutions such as the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University, and the Weizmann Institute of Science.
  • In June 1981, the Israeli Air Force bombed and destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor that it perceived as a threat. Similarly, in September 2007, the Israeli Air Force conducted an airstrike on a Syrian reactor after it failed to declare and provide design information to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The Israeli Defense Forces confirmed the attack in March 2018.
  • Israel has also made public threats to attack nuclear facilities in Iran to prevent the Iranians from acquiring nuclear weapons.
  • Israel is not party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

Nuclear Doctrine

Israel has long maintained a policy of ambiguity about its nuclear arsenal. Israeli officials never confirmed or denied the existence of nuclear weapons. Therefore, Israel has not made any statements about its willingness to use nuclear weapons. Israel maintains, however, that it will not be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons to the Middle East. Israel generally abstains from voting on an annual UN General Assembly resolution that would establish international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon states that the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons would not be used against them, including recently in resolution 72/75 in 2017.

Testing:
Israel has never conducted an official nuclear weapons test. Israel may have jointly conducted a nuclear test with South Africa in 1979, but some experts argue that the observed phenomenon was not caused by a nuclear explosion. Israel has singed but not yet ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and Israeli officials have made several statements indicating the country’s support for the treaty and ongoing efforts to ratify.

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Biological Weapons

  • The Israeli government operates an extensive and sophisticated biodefense program.
  • It has not made public pronouncements on its biological weapons policy nor signed the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), which is widely interpreted as an indication that Israel has some offensive capabilities.
  • Israel has taken steps to strengthen its export control regulations on dual-use biotechnologies.

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Chemical Weapons

  • Israel has signed, but not ratified, the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
  • Although the status of its formerly extensive offensive weapons program and stockpile is unknown, Israel is active in defensive research and believed to maintain advanced scientific-technical chemical weapons research and development infrastructure. 
  • Russian intelligence claimed in 1993 that “Israel has a store of chemical weapons of its own manufacture...[and] is capable of producing toxic substances of all types, including nerve-paralyzing, blister-producing and temporarily incapacitating substances and so forth.”
  • In 1999,  publications by the IIBR, funded by the Israel Ministry of Defense (MOD), revealed an "extensive effort to identify practical methods of synthesis for nerve gases (such as tabun, sarin, and VX) and other organophosphorous and fluorine compounds" according to the Nuclear Threat Initiative.
  • According to a 2008 report by the Center for Strategic & International Studies, Israel may have stockpiles of weaponized nerve gas, but there is no firm evidence supporting this claim.
  • Israel has strengthened its export control regulations on dual-use chemicals since 2004, aligning them with Australia group standards.

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Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities

Conference on Disarmament (CD)
Israel participates in the CD. Prior to the nuclear deal with Iran, Israel opposed negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT), out of concern that it would not be an adequate safeguard against Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. At the 2012 CD, Israel did not mention the FMCT, but urged the members to focus on other issues, rather than the “four core issues” (nuclear disarmament, a fissile material cut-off treaty, prevention of an arms race in outer space, and negative security assurances) that continue to be in a stalemate.

Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone (WMDFZ)
Establishment of a WMDFZ in the Middle East was an integral part of the decision to indefinitely extend the NPT in 1995. At the 2010 NPT Review Conference, state parties agreed to hold a conference toward establishing such a zone by 2012. This meeting was postponed, however, over lack of agreement on the agenda. Following the failed effort in 2012, Israel participated in a series of consultations with Finnish coordinator Jaakko Laajava and the Arab Group. This effort halted after the 2015 NPT Review Conference failed to produce a final document to extend Laajava’s mandate. Israel’s ambiguity surrounding its nuclear capabilities and its refusal to sign the NPT has been cited as an obstacle to achieving these ends. 

In 2015, Israel stated at the IAEA General Conference that the “decades-long quest for a WMD free Middle East requires a realistic evaluation… Israel, however, remains committed to its long-held vision of a more secure and peaceful Middle East.” Adding that “direct engagement, based on confidence building and trust, is essential to make progress towards the fulfillment of this vision.”

The WMDFZ in the Middle East related to discussions on a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East. In 1974, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) approved a resolution endorsing the goal of establishing a nuclear weapons free zone (NWFZ) in the Middle East following a proposal by Iran. In 1980, Israel joined the international consensus allowing the UNGA to pass a resolution supporting the goal of NWFZ without a vote although Israel maintained reservations.  

Nuclear Security Summits
Israel participated in all four Nuclear Security Summits.

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)
As a key regional power and long-time adversary of Iran, Israel took an avid interest in the negotiation of the July 2015 JCPOA, which limits and rolls back Iran’s nuclear program. The deal was fiercely opposed by the Israeli government which viewed it as a “historic surrender” and a threat to its national security. After the brokering of the agreement, Netanyahu said that "Israel is not bound by this deal with Iran because Iran continues to seek our destruction. We will always defend ourselves."

Responding to President’s Trump May 8, 2018 decision to withdraw from the JCPOA, Netanyahu said that “Israel fully supports President Trump’s bold decision today to reject the disastrous nuclear deal with the terrorist regime in Tehran.”

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Country Profiles

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Israel Confirms Syria Reactor Strike

Israel confirmed it conducted the 2007 bombing of a partially completed reactor in Syria that likely was part of an illicit nuclear weapons program. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on March 21 that Israel “prevented Syria from developing nuclear capability” and that Israeli policy to prevent “enemies from arming themselves with nuclear weapons” remains consistent.

This image provided by the Israeli government in March reportedly shows the suspected Syrian nuclear reactor being bombed in 2007. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)It was generally accepted that Israel was behind the September 2007 airstrike on the al-Kibar facility in Deir al-Zour, but Israel did not publicly acknowledge its role until March 21, when it declassified documents on the attack. Previously, Israeli censors blocked journalists from publishing reports tying the Israeli government to the attack, although foreign media outlets and officials have cited Israel since it occurred in 2007. (See ACT, October 2008.)

It is unclear why the Israeli government decided to acknowledge the attack now, although the timing may be tied to the movement by U.S. President Donald Trump toward abandoning the Iran nuclear accord, as advocated by Israel and Saudi Arabia. The U.S. intelligence community concluded in 2008 that Syria was constructing the reactor with North Korean assistance, possibly for a nuclear weapons program, in violation of its international legal commitments under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Syria did not declare the reactor to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which found the country in noncompliance with its safeguards commitments in 2011 after Syria refused to cooperate with the agency’s investigation. (See ACT, July/August 2011.)—KELSEY DAVENPORT

Israel Confirms Syria Reactor Strike

Nuclear Declaratory Policy and Negative Security Assurances

March 2018

Contact: Kelsey DavenportDirector for Nonproliferation Policy, (202) 462-8270; Kingston ReifDirector for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy, (202) 462-8270 x104

The world’s nuclear-armed states each have declared, to varying degrees of specificity, when and under what circumstances they reserve the option to use their nuclear weapons. Most nuclear-armed states have also declared under what circumstances they rule out the use of nuclear weapons. These “positive” and “negative” nuclear declaratory policies are designed to deter adversaries from military actions and to assure non-nuclear weapon states and allies they will not be subject to a direct nuclear attack on their territory and should be dissuaded from pursuing nuclear weapons themselves.

There is no universal agreement among nuclear weapon states on the first-use of intercontinental ballistic missiles.Today, most nuclear-armed states, including the United States, reserve the option to use nuclear weapons first in a conflict. Only two nuclear-armed states (China and India) have declared no-first-use policies, by which they commit themselves to use nuclear weapons only in response to a nuclear attack.

All five of the nuclear-weapon states recognized in the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) have issued a set of “negative” nuclear security assurances, which were recognized by the UN Security Council in Resolution 984 (1995). These pledges, however, are nonbinding and some nuclear-weapon states reserve the right to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states under certain circumstances. The following is a more detailed summary of each country’s policies.

United States

The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review report declared that there are four missions for the U.S. nuclear arsenal: deterrence of nuclear and non-nuclear attacks, assurance of allies and partners, achievement of U.S. objectives if deterrence fails, and capacity to hedge against an uncertain future.

The document reiterated that the United States does not maintain a nuclear “no first-use policy” on the grounds that U.S. response options must remain flexible to deter nuclear and non-nuclear attacks. “Non-nuclear capabilities,” according to the report, “can complement but not replace U.S. nuclear capabilities” for the purpose of deterrence. In the event that deterrence were to fail, the report also declared that Washington could use nuclear weapons to end a conflict on the “best achievable terms for the United States.”

The NPR dictates that the use of nuclear weapons will only be considered under “extreme circumstances” to defend the “vital interests” of the United States and its allies. It defines “extreme circumstances,” which the 2010 NPR did not, to include “significant non-nuclear strategic attacks” against “U.S., allied or partner civilian population or infrastructure, and attacks on U.S. or allied nuclear forces, their command and control, or warning and attack assessment capabilities.”

The United States issued assurances not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon-state NPT members in 1978, 1995 and 2010 except in the case of “an invasion or any other attack on the United States, its territories, its armed forces or other troops, its allies, or on a State toward which it has a security commitment, carried out or sustained by such a non-nuclear-weapon State in association or alliance with a nuclear- weapon State.” In 1997 the United States issued a classified presidential decision directive (PDD) reaffirming these pledges.

The 2018 NPR repeated existing U.S. negative security assurances by stating that Washington “will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that are party to the NPT and in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations.” However, the report qualified that the United States reserves the right to amend its negative assurance if warranted by “the evolution and proliferation of non-nuclear strategic attack technologies.” At the February 2 press briefing following the report’s release, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy John Rood clarified that this may include cyber capabilities.

For a more details, see U.S. Negative Security Assurances at a Glance.

China
China issued negative security assurances at the United Nations in 1978 and 1995 and is the only NPT nuclear-weapon state that has declared a no-first-use policy, which it reiterated in February 2018.

At the 2018 Munich Security Conference, Fu Ying, chairperson of the foreign affairs committee of the National People’s Congress, said that “China is also committed to the principle of non-first-use of nuclear weapons, and no-use of nuclear weapons against any nuclear state [sic] at any circumstances and no-use of nuclear weapons against nuclear-free zones.”

In its April 1995 letter to UN members outlining its negative security assurances, China declared that it “undertakes not to be the first to use nuclear weapons at any time or under any circumstances.” China consistently reiterates this policy in its defense white papers. The most recent, edited in 2016, stated that “China will unconditionally not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or in nuclear-weapon-free zones, and will never enter into a nuclear arms race with any other country.”

At the 2010 NPT Review Conference, China also called for the negotiation of an international legally binding instrument to prohibit first-use of nuclear weapons and use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states and nuclear-weapon free zones.

France
France maintains a policy of calculated ambiguity regarding first-use of nuclear weapons. A 2013 French government defense white paper states that “the use of nuclear weapons would only be conceivable in extreme circumstances of legitimate self-defence” and that “[b]eing strictly defensive, nuclear deterrence protects France from any state-led aggression against its vital interests, of whatever origin and in whatever form.”

France issued negative security assurances at the UN in 1987 and 1995. In its 1995 statement to the UN, France pledged not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states that are party to the NPT “except in the case of invasion or any other attack on France, its territory, its armed forces or other troops, or against its allies or a State toward which it has a security commitment, carried out or sustained by such a State in alliance or association with a nuclear-weapon State.”

At the 2010 NPT Review Conference, France called for nuclear possessor states to “work resolutely to advance disarmament in all its aspects; in which the doctrines of nuclear powers will restrict the role of nuclear weapons solely to extreme circumstances of self-defence where their vital interests are under threat.”

Russia
According to the December 2014 Russian Military Doctrine Paper published by the Ministry of Defense, Russia reserves the option to use nuclear weapons in response to an attack involving any weapon of mass destruction, and in response to conventional attacks “when the very existence of the state is under threat.” This phrase suggests a willingness to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states in the event of an impending conventional military defeat.

In 1993, Russia moved away from Leonid Brezhnev’s 1982 no-first-use pledge when the Russian Defense Ministry under Boris Yeltsin adopted a new doctrine on nuclear weapons. The new policy ruled out the first use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states that are party to the NPT but said nothing about use against states possessing nuclear weapons. Since the 1993 shift, many Western analysts have come to believe that Russia pursues an “escalate to de-escalate” strategy—the notion that, in the event of a large-scale conventional conflict, the Kremlin would use or threaten to use low-yield nuclear weapons to coerce an adversary to cease attacks or withdraw. However, other analysts maintain that this is not the case. 

Russia issued unilateral negative security assurances not to attack non-nuclear-weapon states in 1978 and 1995, but stated in 1995 that those pledges would not apply “in the case of an invasion or any other attack on the Russian Federation, its territory, its armed forces or other troops, its allies or on a State toward which it has a security commitment, carried out or sustained by such a non-nuclear-weapon State in association or alliance with a nuclear-weapon State.”

United Kingdom
In the 2015 Strategic Defense and Security Review document, the United Kingdom said it will not use, or threaten to use, nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states that are party to the NPT and in compliance with the treaty’s obligations. The United Kingdom appears to leave open the option to use nuclear weapons in response to WMD threats, such as chemical or biological attacks, if such threats emerge. Currently London acknowledged that there is “no direct threat” posed by WMDs to the United Kingdom in the 2015 document, but the government reserves the right to “review this assurance if the future threat, development or proliferation of these weapons make it necessary.”

The United Kingdom issued a unilateral negative nuclear security assurance in 1978 and again in 1995. In the 1995 pledge the United Kingdom said it will not use, or threaten to use, nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states party to the NPT. This assurance does not apply, however, to any state acting “in association or alliance with a nuclear-weapon state” that attacks the United Kingdom, its territories or allies, or any state in breach of its commitments under the NPT.

India
India has a no-first-use doctrine. As the government stated in a draft nuclear doctrine in August 1999, “India will not be the first to initiate a nuclear strike, but will respond with punitive retaliation should deterrence fail.” Although India has adopted a no-first-use policy, some Indian strategists have called the pledge’s validity into question. The credibility of this pledge was weakened in 2009 when Indian Army Chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor suggested that the government should review the pledge in light of the growing threat of Pakistan. In 2010, National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon stated that India's nuclear doctrine was “no first use against non-nuclear weapons states.” MIT professor Vipin Narang has also observed that “the force requirements India needs in order to credibly threaten assured retaliation against China may allow it to pursue more aggressive strategies—such as escalation dominance or a ‘splendid first strike’—against Pakistan.”

During debate at the Conference on Disarmament in 2014, India’s representative reiterated the government’s no-first-use policy and the policy on nonuse against non-nuclear-weapon states and said that India was “prepared to convert these undertakings into multilateral legal arrangements.”

Israel
Given that Israel has not acknowledged possession of nuclear weapons, it has not made any statements regarding its willingness to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states. Israel generally abstains from voting on an annual UN General Assembly resolution that would establish international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon states that the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons would not be used against them, including recently in resolution 72/25 in 2017.

Pakistan
Pakistan has only issued negative nuclear security guarantees to those states that are not armed with nuclear weapons. Pakistan’s position regarding when and whether it would use nuclear weapons in a conflict with another nuclear-armed state, namely India, is far more ambiguous. Pakistani officials have indicated that the circumstances surrounding its no-first-use policy must remain deliberately imprecise, as demarcating clear redlines could allow provocations by the Indian military just below any established threshold for use.

In a 2015 statement, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is one-dimensional, that is it for "stopping Indian aggression before it happens" “not for starting a war.” He also said in 2015 that Pakistan is capable of answering aggression from India due to Islamabad’s development of short-range tactical nuclear weapons. In July 2016, Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Asif suggested Islamabad would use nuclear weapons for defensive purposes in armed conflict with India.

North Korea
Following its fourth nuclear test in January 2016, Pyongyang declared a policy of no-first-use under the condition that hostile forces do not encroach on its sovereignty. The Jan. 6, 2016 government statement said that North Korea, as a “responsible nuclear weapons state, will neither be the first to use nuclear weapons…as long as the hostile forces for aggression do not encroach upon its sovereignty.”  North Korea has re-affirmed this stance at the May 2016 Worker's Party Congress in Pyongyang and in the 2018 New Year's Address. North Korea, however, routinely threatens to use nuclear weapons against perceived threats, including against the United States and South Korea, a non-nuclear-weapon state.

Strategic Arms Control and Policy

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Progress on Nuclear Disarmament, Nonproliferation Inadequate to Meet Threats, New Study Finds

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For Immediate Release: July 15, 2016

Media Contacts: Tony Fleming, communications director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 110; Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107

(Washington, D.C.)—President Barack Obama failed to make progress in key nuclear disarmament areas over the course of his second term, but did achieve important steps to improve nuclear materials security and strengthen nonproliferation norms, namely the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, according to a new study released by the Arms Control Association, which evaluates the recent records of all the world’s nuclear-armed states.

The report, "Assessing Progress on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament, 2013-2016," is the third in a series that measures the performance of 11 key states in 10 universally-recognized nonproliferation, disarmament, and nuclear security categories over the past three years. The study evaluated the records of China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, India, Israel, Pakistan, and North Korea—each of which possess nuclear weapons—as well as Iran and Syria, which are states of proliferation concern.

“The United States is investing enormous resources to maintain and upgrade nuclear weapons delivery systems and warheads and is keeping its deployed nuclear weapons on ‘launch-under-attack’ readiness posture. The lack of U.S. leadership in these areas contributes to the moribund pace of disarmament,” said Elizabeth Philipp, the Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellow at the Arms Control Association, and a co-author of the report.

“Obama should use his remaining months in office to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. strategies and mitigate the risks of inadvertent use. Obama could consider declaring that Washington will not be the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict,” said Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association and co-author of the report.

“U.S. leadership could spur China and Russia to take positive actions and improve the prospects for further disarmament. Russia’s decision to develop a new missile in violation of its treaty commitments and Moscow’s rebuff of attempts by the United States to negotiate further nuclear reductions is very troublesome, as is the expansion of China’s nuclear arsenal and Beijing’s steps toward increasing the alert levels of its forces,” Philipp added.

“Several states did take significant steps over the past three years to strengthen nuclear security, including action by the United States and Pakistan to ratify key nuclear security treaties,” said Davenport.

“The July 2015 nuclear deal struck between six global powers and Iran was also a significant nonproliferation breakthrough that has significantly reduced Tehran’s nuclear capacity and subjected its activities to more intrusive international monitoring and verification. While the international community must remain vigilant in ensuring that the deal is fully implemented, blocking Iran’s pathways to nuclear weapons negates a serious nonproliferation concern and demonstrates the consequences of flouting the international norms and obligations,” Davenport said.

“For the third time, the United Kingdom received the highest grade of all the states assessed, while North Korea remained at the bottom of the list with the lowest overall grades. North Korea’s recent nuclear test and its ballistic missile development require the next U.S. administration to pursue more robust engagement with Pyongyang to freeze its nuclear activities,” Philipp said.

“Our review of the record indicates that further action must be taken by all 11 states if they are to live up to their international disarmament and nonproliferation responsibilities. By tracking the progress, or lack thereof, of these states over time, we hope this report will serve as a tool to encourage policymakers to increase efforts to reduce the risk posed by nuclear weapons,” Davenport said.

A country-by-country summary can be viewed here.
The full report card can be downloaded here

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The Arms Control Association is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.

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A new study suggests that President Obama, failed to make progress in key nuclear disarmament areas during his second term.

2016 Report Card on Nuclear Disarmament, Nonproliferation Efforts

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