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"I actually have a pretty good collection of Arms Control Today, which I have read throughout my career. It's one of the few really serious publications on arms control issues."
– Gary Samore
Former White House Coordinator for Arms Control and WMD Terrorism
Press Releases

U.S. Defends New Nuclear Weapons Research

Wade Boese


U.S. research into new nuclear weapons designs will not spur other states to do the same nor impede U.S. nonproliferation efforts, the Bush administration asserted in a March 31 report to Congress. Other world officials suggest otherwise.

The Bush administration sought and won a repeal last year of a decade-old legislative ban on research into low-yield nuclear weapons with explosive power equal to or below five kilotons. (See ACT, December 2003.) Although granting the administration’s request, Congress demanded the administration assess by March 1 of this year how the repeal might affect efforts to halt worldwide nuclear proliferation.

Summing up its findings, the administration reported, “[T]here is no reason to believe that repeal has had or will have any practical impact on the pursuit of nuclear weapons by proliferating states, on the comprehensive diplomatic efforts ongoing to address these threats, or on the possible modernization of nuclear weapons by China or Russia.” The Departments of Defense, Energy, and State jointly submitted the report.

This conclusion contrasts sharply with the view of the United Nations top nuclear official, International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei. In a Feb. 12 piece in The New York Times, ElBaradei wrote, “We must abandon the unworkable notion that it is morally reprehensible for some countries to pursue weapons of mass destruction yet morally acceptable for others to rely on them for security—and indeed to continue to refine their capacities and postulate plans for their use.”

Top foreign officials from other states, such as Canada and Sweden, have echoed ElBaradei. Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds lamented March 16, “[W]e see a trend towards an increased emphasis on nuclear weapons as part of security strategies and signs that a new generation of nuclear weapons might be in the making. Such pursuits would undermine the credibility of the nuclear nonproliferation regime and could prompt a new arms race.”

In addition to researching new low-yield weapon designs, the Bush administration is exploring possible modifications to existing nuclear weapons to destroy targets buried deep underground better.

Administration officials justify the development of new nuclear weapons on the grounds that they are responding to changes in threats to U.S. national security. They cite the necessity of convincing terrorists and rogue regimes that the United States would use nuclear weapons if need be. They claim that, in the absence of smaller or modified nuclear weapons, U.S. enemies may nurture a dangerous doubt about the willingness of U.S. policymakers to unleash a nuclear attack, fearing large numbers of civilian casualties or international censure. “Nuclear modernization efforts may well strengthen deterrence by altering an adversary’s perception of what the United States is able to do, or might be prepared to do in a crisis,” the report declared.

Yet, development of newer or smaller nuclear weapons would not translate into an increased willingness to actually use them, according to the report.

During an April 6 appearance in Washington, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov deemed it a “dangerous thing” to advance nuclear weapons as a possible tool to thwart terrorists. The Russian newspaper Izvestia quoted Yuri Baluyevskiy, another leading Russian defense official, in an April 9 article as contending, “If the nuclear weapons which were formerly seen only as a political instrument of deterrence become battlefield weapons, that will be not simply scary but super scary.”

To be sure, Russia could be subject to the same criticism. Russia possesses the largest arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons and concluded a nuclear exercise predicated on countering terrorism in February that the Kremlin touted as its largest in 20 years.

Still, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Feb. 18 that Russia might match U.S. arsenal changes. “As other countries increase the number and quality of their arms and military potential, then Russia will also need to ensure it has new-generation arms and technology,” Putin said.

Nevertheless, the Bush administration insisted in its report that “we believe there is relatively weak coupling between Russian and U.S. nuclear weapons [research and development] efforts.”
Already anticipating how its new nuclear weapons research will be received at a review conference of nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) states-parties next year, the administration set out to blunt the expected condemnation in its report. “Nothing in the NPT…prohibits the United States from carrying out nuclear weapons exploratory research or, for that matter, from developing and fielding new or modified nuclear warheads,” the report asserted. It further dismissed criticisms of U.S. nuclear policy as misguided because the United States has consistently reduced its nuclear arsenal and “[t]he nuclear arms race has, in fact, been halted.”

 

 

 

 

U.S. research into new nuclear weapons designs will not spur other states to do the same nor impede U.S. nonproliferation efforts, the Bush administration asserted in a March 31 report to Congress...

U.S. Punishes 13 Companies for Iran Deals

Wade Boese


A common Bush administration refrain is that foreign companies can either do business with the United States or “rogue regimes,” but not both. The United States underscored that message April 1 by imposing sanctions on 13 foreign companies for trading with Iran, while waiving penalties on six Russian companies which Washington says have mended their ways.

Sanctions were imposed on five companies from China, two from Macedonia, two from Russia, and one each from Belarus, North Korea, Taiwan, and the United Arab Emirates. The companies were said to have exported items that appear on international arms export control regime lists or that could aid Iran’s production of missiles or chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons. Tehran is currently under intense international scrutiny for illegal nuclear activities exposed last year.

A Department of State official told Arms Control Today April 22 that Iran is aggressively seeking imports for all of its covert weapons programs. Because there is no expectation that Iran will stop trying to procure such items, the official said the focus must be on cutting off supply.

The newly sanctioned companies, some of which have been sanctioned previously, are prohibited from doing business with or receiving aid, arms, or other defense goods from the U.S. government for a two-year period.

The action has drawn some reproofs from the targeted countries. Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced April 3 that “Russia rejects the very principle of the imposition by one state of sanctions on some structures of other states.”

It is not apparent that any of the sanctioned companies have dealings with the U.S. government, but the Bush administration still views the penalties as valuable—an assessment amply illustrated by the fact that it has imposed proliferation sanctions nearly 80 times. In contrast, the Clinton administration averaged about eight sanctions per year, according to June 2003 congressional testimony by Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton.

U.S. officials insist that, even if a company has few ties with Washington, sanctions may shame another government to clamp down on companies under its control or dissuade other companies from doing business with the sanctioned party.

In a March 12 interview with Arms Control Today, Paula DeSutter, the assistant secretary of state for verification and compliance, said that sanctions “force countries into less effective acquisition routes.” She cited Libya’s problems with its former chemical weapons program as evidence. “When the equipment came and wasn’t what they needed, they really didn’t have a complaint mechanism,” DeSutter explained.

 

 

 

 

A common Bush administration refrain is that foreign companies can either do business with the United States or “rogue regimes,” but not both. The United States underscored that message April 1 by...

GAO: U.S. May Miss Chemical Destruction Deadline

Michael Mguyen


The General Accounting Office is warning that the United States may once again fail to meet a key milestone for destroying chemical agents. More troubling, GAO noted, are warnings that the United States may miss the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) ultimate 2012 deadline if these problems continue.

The United States originally pledged to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the international body created to carry out the CWC, that it would destroy 45 percent of its stockpile by April 29, 2004. Last September, the United States asked for and received an extension to December 2007. (See ACT, October 2003.) But with the U.S. weapons depots having destroyed only 27 percent of the stockpile, GAO is warning that this new deadline may also slip. Testifying before a House subcommittee on April 1, Raymond Decker, director of defense capabilities and management at GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, cautioned that “the optimism to reach the 45 percent in 2007 is if all the stars line up exactly right.” He listed several unplanned requirements that have delayed operations in the past. To avoid these obstacles, he said that program planners need to be “forward-leaning, forward-thinking, anticipating anything that could derail or stop the schedule, and that has not happened.”

Delays could lead to a domino effect. Already, the earlier extension means that the United States will be unable to fulfill its original intention of destroying its entire stockpile by April 2007. The Department of Defense has indicated it will ask for a five-year extension of that deadline as well. Such a one-time, five-year extension of the final deadline is permitted under CWC rules, although member-states cannot formally submit extension requests until one year before the deadline.

GAO noted several sources for the delays, including continuing operational incidents, environmental permitting, and community opposition. Auditors expressed support for the program’s recent reorganization, despite concern that two of the nine sites with chemical agents and munitions remain under the control of the Defense Department’s Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives (ACWA) program. The Army’s Chemical Materials Agency (CMA) maintains responsibility for the other seven.

The GAO report praised the chemical demilitarization programs for their improved coordination with federal and local emergency preparedness agencies but warned that costs related to the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program (CSEPP) are likely to rise. Many states and communities near chemical agent and munitions sites have submitted additional CSEPP requests in excess of their approved budgets, forcing the diversion of funds from agent destruction to cover the unfunded requests.

Rep. Jim Saxton (R-N.J.), chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities, noted that current estimates predict the last agent will not be destroyed until 2014. Such a timeline “place(s) our obligations and commitments under the Chemical Weapons Convention Treaty at risk,” Saxton stated. “They are frankly unacceptable. We must find ways, and affordable ways, to accelerate the destruction of the stockpile.”

In his fiscal year 2005 budget request, President George W. Bush proposed $1.37 billion for chemical agent and munitions destruction programs in the Defense Department, a decrease from $1.5 billion appropriated in 2004.

Funding for the chemical demilitarization program has become a controversial issue. Contractors at the two sites operated by ACWA, directed to accelerate agent destruction, have provided cost estimates that exceed the program’s expected budget. This has delayed destruction while the issue is being resolved. Although the accelerated methods proposed would be faster than incineration, a method in use or planned use at five other sites, the Defense Department may scale back or abandon the acceleration effort if there is not sufficient budgetary support. As Michael Parker, CMA director, explained at the same hearing attended by Saxton and Decker, the two sites operated by ACWA “are going to be pressing up very, very hard on 2012, and depending on how the overall budget and the availability of funding to accelerate those sites will determine whether or not we’ll be able to hit that 2012 mark.”

In 1998, the Defense Department estimated that the cumulative cost of the chemical demilitarization program would be $14.6 billion but in 2001 revised that number to be $23.7 billion. GAO now believes the total program cost will be substantially more than $25 billion.

 

 

 

 

The General Accounting Office is warning that the United States may once again fail to meet a key milestone for destroying chemical agents. More troubling, GAO noted, are warnings that...

U.S. Lifts More Sanctions on Libya

Paul Kerr


The White House announced April 23 that it is easing additional sanctions on Libya as a reward for Tripoli’s progress toward dismantling its chemical and nuclear weapons programs and eliminating its long-range missiles. Libya had pledged to end the programs in December 2003.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said President George W. Bush “terminated the application of the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) with respect to Libya and the Department of the Treasury has modified sanctions imposed…under the authority of the International Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).” The decision will permit “the resumption of most commercial activities” between the two countries, McClellan added.

The ILSA allowed the United States to punish foreign companies for certain investments in Libya’s oil and gas industries, as well as for providing goods or services contributing to Libya’s ability to acquire chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons. President Ronald Reagan imposed sanctions against Libya under the IEEPA in January 1986 after its involvement in terrorist attacks in Europe the previous month.

Despite Washington’s decision, Libya remains on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. Countries on that list are subject to several sanctions, including prohibitions on arms exports, economic assistance from the United States, and Department of Defense contracts. The United States is also required to oppose loans to such countries from international financial institutions and impose export controls on dual-use items.

McClellan said that “the necessity of ending any tie to terrorist groups or activities will continue to be a central issue in relations with Libya.” Tripoli agreed to terminate its support for terrorism as part of its December agreement.

Libya also remains subject to some other sanctions. Direct flights are still prohibited, and Libyan assets in the United States remain frozen.

Still, McClellan stated that Libya “has taken significant steps [toward] eliminating weapons of mass destruction programs,” praising Tripoli’s accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention and adoption of an additional protocol to its International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards agreement. The latter gives the IAEA additional authority to check for clandestine nuclear activities.

The United States has removed all of Libya’s longest-range missiles and most elements of its nuclear weapons program. Libya has destroyed its chemical weapons-capable munitions and agreed to destroy the remaining chemical agents. (See ACT, April 2004.)

Washington’s decision, which Libya’s official JANA news agency called a “victory” the same day it was announced, follows a February announcement that the United States was removing all travel restrictions to Tripoli and allowing “U.S. companies with pre-sanctions holdings in Libya...to negotiate the terms of their re-entry into operations” there.

The possibility of ending sanctions has provided leverage to U.S. diplomacy with Tripoli. Former State Department official Flynt Leverett wrote in January that the United States offered to lift sanctions as “an explicit quid pro quo” for Libya’s dismantling its weapons, although a senior administration official denied in December that “specific discussion[s] about lifting sanctions” took place. Additionally, Secretary of State Colin Powell implied during a February congressional hearing that U.S. officials explicitly held out lifting sanctions as a reward for Tripoli’s continued implementation of its December commitments.

The United Nations permanently lifted its sanctions on Libya in September 2003 after Libya complied with its remaining obligations under relevant UN Security Council resolutions. (See ACT, October 2003.)

McClellan also announced other U.S. diplomatic efforts. Specifically, the United States will “drop [its] objection” to Tripoli’s efforts to join the World Trade Organization, and the Department of State “intends to establish a U.S. liaison office in Tripoli, pending congressional notification.”

The United States closed its embassy in Tripoli in 1980 but currently has an interests section in the Belgian Embassy there. An interests section is a small diplomatic mission housed in another country’s embassy, used for contacts between countries that do not have full diplomatic relations. A liaison office flies the U.S. flag and is an intermediate step to full diplomatic relations.

McClellan added that Libya’s disarmament efforts have “set a standard that we hope other nations will emulate.” U.S. officials have repeatedly held up Libya’s “strategic decision” to eliminate its weapons programs as a model for other countries, such as Iran and North Korea, to follow. (See ACT, April 2004.)

UN Security Council Praises Libya

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council issued a statement April 22 welcoming Libya’s disarmament efforts and taking “note” of a March resolution adopted by the IAEA Board of Governors. That resolution found that Libya’s past clandestine nuclear activities “constituted non-compliance” with its IAEA safeguards agreement but also praised Libya’s subsequent cooperation with the agency, as well as its dismantlement efforts. (See ACT, April 2004.) IAEA safeguards agreements are designed to provide assurance that states-parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty do not divert civilian nuclear programs to military purposes.

Because of Libya’s cooperation, the resolution requested that IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei report Libya’s noncompliance to the Security Council “for information purposes only.” The IAEA is required to report findings of noncompliance to the Security Council, which then has the option of taking action against the offending government. The Security Council did not do so, instead “commending” Libya for its cooperation in its recent statement.

Washington has been trying to involve the Security Council in condemning two other countries’ nuclear programs. The United States wants the IAEA board to find Iran in noncompliance with its safeguards agreement but has not yet been able to persuade the board to do so (see page 26). The IAEA referred North Korea to the council in February 2003, but no action has been taken. (See ACT, April 2003.)

 

 

 

 

The White House announced April 23 that it is easing additional sanctions on Libya as a reward for Tripoli’s progress toward dismantling its chemical and nuclear weapons programs...

U.S., Russia Still SORTing Out Nuclear Reductions

Wade Boese


Nearly two years after concluding a treaty to reduce the size of their deployed strategic nuclear forces by roughly two-thirds, neither the United States nor Russia have finalized plans on how to accomplish that task.

U.S. and Russian government officials met April 8-9 in Geneva to officially update each other for the first time on their implementation of the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), which Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin signed May 24, 2002. Also known as the Moscow Treaty, the agreement commits the United States and Russia to operationally deploy fewer than 2,200 strategic nuclear warheads apiece by Dec. 31, 2012.

Washington currently deploys nearly 6,000 strategic nuclear warheads, and Moscow fields almost 5,000. These tallies do not account for stored strategic warheads or less powerful weapons known as tactical nuclear warheads that are not covered by SORT. The entire U.S. nuclear arsenal totals roughly 10,000 warheads, while Russia’s is estimated to be nearly double that.

SORT does not spell out how the United States and Russia should reduce their deployed nuclear forces, leaving each to proceed as it sees fit. In fact, the treaty leaves quite a bit of latitude: Warheads removed from deployment under SORT do not have to be destroyed but only stored separately from the missiles, bombers, and submarines used to deliver them. As Secretary of State Colin Powell explained to senators in July 2002 testimony, “The treaty will allow you to have as many warheads as you want.”

Still, the treaty does oblige the two sides to hold biannual meetings of a Bilateral Implementation Commission (BIC) to discuss their reduction activities.

George Look, a Department of State official who represents the United States in talks with Russia on START, headed the U.S. delegation to the first BIC meeting. Andrey Maslov, deputy director of the department for security and disarmament in Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, led Russia’s delegation.

A Bush administration official told Arms Control Today on April 15 that the meeting “got off on a good foot” and involved an exchange of “future [reduction] plans to the extent they exist.” The official explained that both governments have “broad outlines” and some near-term benchmarks for lowering their deployed forces, but that exact schedules and specific force plans remain unsettled.

The official described Russian reduction plans and future force structure for 2012 as “less certain” than those of the United States.

Washington intends to cut its deployed forces to between 3,500 and 4,000 strategic warheads by 2007. To reach that interim goal, the Pentagon plans to complete deactivating all 50 10-warhead MX ICBMs (see sidebar) and finish converting four of its 18 Trident submarines from carrying nuclear-armed ballistic missiles to conventional armaments.

U.S. reduction plans beyond this stage are not fixed because the Bush administration has been rethinking how the future U.S. nuclear stockpile—deployed and stored—should be comprised.

As a result, the administration has not sent Congress a stockpile memorandum detailing its nuclear force structure plans, which previous administrations had generally provided on an annual basis.

According to a congressional source, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld finally signed a stockpile plan recommendation for the president on April 19, but its contents remain unknown. The Department of Energy had approved the plan months earlier. The lag between the two departments’ approvals reportedly stemmed from their differences over how large the stored or reserve stockpile should be.

Two years ago, the Pentagon indicated it planned to store up to 2,400 nuclear warheads in a state of readiness, enabling them to be returned to service within weeks, months, or at most three years after being removed from deployment. (See ACT, March 2002.) This so-called responsive force would constitute only part of the U.S. nuclear warhead reserve. It is unclear to what extent this proposal made it into the recently recommended stockpile plan.

How many warheads to keep in storage and what their state of readiness should be are just part of the administration’s deliberations. It is also exploring new types of warheads out of concern that the existing U.S. arsenal is not tailored to deterring terrorists and rogue regimes.

Reflecting this current of thought, a task force of the Defense Science Board, an independent advisory body to the secretary of defense, issued a February 2004 report describing the U.S. nuclear stockpile as “aging” and “of declining relevance.” As a remedy, the report called for a shift toward warheads with lower explosive yields and more penetration capabilities to increase in potential adversaries’ minds the possibility that the United States might use nuclear weapons. Research into such new capabilities is currently underway.

The Defense Science Board report stated, “It is American policy to keep the nuclear threshold high and to pursue non-nuclear attack options wherever possible.” Still, the report added, “future presidents should have strategic strike choices between massive conventional strikes and today’s relative large, high-fallout weapons delivered primarily by ballistic missiles.”

 

 

 

 

Nearly two years after concluding a treaty to reduce the size of their deployed strategic nuclear forces by roughly two-thirds, neither the United States nor Russia have finalized plans on how to accomplish that task.

NATO Expands, Russia Grumbles

Wade Boese


Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov is calling upon the United States and NATO not to let relations with Russia slip into a “cold peace” following the March 29 addition of seven new members into the Western military alliance. In an April 6 speech in Washington, Ivanov struck the shrillest note among Russian leaders in a persistent yet resigned chorus opposing NATO’s growth.

Ivanov depicted Moscow’s view of Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia joining NATO as “calm, but negative.” Ivanov, who attended a NATO-Russian meeting on combating terrorism the day before, said that a window of opportunity remained for a meaningful NATO-Russian partnership but warned that the West should not allow it to become a “small vent shaft” or close altogether by forsaking Russian interests.

NATO’s recent expansion marked the second time that states from the old Soviet military bloc joined their previous Cold War rivals and the first to include former Soviet republics, in the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. NATO welcomed Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic into its ranks in 1999.

At the heart of NATO membership is a guarantee that an attack against one member will be considered an attack against all. In recent years, NATO has augmented its traditional role of defending its members’ territories with military action and deployments outside its members’ borders, such as in the former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan.

Russia objects to such activism. It also charges that the newest round of expansion will enable the alliance to deploy an unlimited amount of weaponry next to Russia’s borders in the three Baltic states, which are not bound by the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty. The CFE Treaty balanced the number of battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, heavy artillery, combat aircraft, and attack helicopters that NATO and the now-defunct Warsaw Pact could deploy in Europe.

Four NATO fighter jets started patrolling the three Baltic states’ airspace following their formal accession to the alliance. NATO, which now numbers 26 members, described the overflights as “routine policing.”

Although NATO contends that its expansion is not aimed at Russia, Ivanov appeared unconvinced. He declared that the Kremlin has “no illusions about the reasons why the Baltic states were admitted into NATO and why NATO airplanes…are being deployed there.” Ivanov explained, “It has nothing to do with a fight against terrorism and proliferation.”

Russia is urging that the Baltic states accede as soon as possible to a 1999 adapted version of the CFE Treaty. However, the three states cannot do so yet because the updated treaty, which supplants the original treaty’s arms limits on the two former Cold War military blocs with national limits for each state-party, has not entered into force. The original CFE Treaty, which has no provision for nonmembers to join it, is still in force and will remain so until all 30 existing CFE Treaty states-parties formally approve the adapted version.

NATO members are refusing to ratify the adapted CFE Treaty until Russia fulfills military withdrawal commitments related to Georgia and Moldova. In conjunction with the 1999 overhaul of the CFE Treaty, Moscow pledged that it would withdraw all of its military forces from Moldova by the end of 2002 and conclude negotiations with Georgia to close Russian bases on its territory by the end of 2000. Russia has not fulfilled either pledge. (See ACT, December 2003.)

While pressing Moscow to complete these actions, NATO is seeking to reassure Russia that its fear about unrestrained armaments in the Baltic states is unwarranted. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have all promised to apply for CFE membership once the adapted agreement enters into force.

Moreover, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told Russian President Vladimir Putin April 8 that “neither old nor new NATO members have any intention to station significant numbers of troops on their territories.”

Standing alongside Scheffer, Putin said Russia intends to “do all we can to ensure that relations between Russia and NATO develop positively.” Still, he labeled NATO expansion as a “problem” that did not address current security threats, such as terrorism.

Both Ivanov and Putin cautioned that any buildup of NATO military infrastructure near Russia’s borders would influence future Russian defense and security policies.

Secretary of State Colin Powell April 1 dismissed Moscow’s concerns that the West wants to hem Russia in. While noting the Pentagon’s interest in shifting U.S. bases around in Europe to respond better to troubled regions or terrorism, Powell said overall U.S. troop strength in Europe would decrease.

Nevertheless, Powell indicated NATO and the United States would remain vigilant against any Russian strong-arm tactics on its periphery. “Russia will try to exercise its influence and I think it’s something that we will have to watch and we’ll have to deal with,” Powell stated.

 

 

 

 

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov is calling upon the United States and NATO not to let relations with Russia slip into a “cold peace” following...

U.S., North Korea Jockey For China's Support as Working Group Nuclear Talks Approach

Paul Kerr


As North Korea and the United States prepare for a new round of multilateral talks concerning Pyongyang’s nuclear program, both sides are lobbying for the support of China in an effort to gain diplomatic leverage in future talks.

In April, Vice President Dick Cheney and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il visited Beijing within a few days of one another. Both discussed the status of the six-party talks designed to resolve a nearly two-year-old nuclear crisis. China, which provides North Korea with vital supplies of fuel and food, is one of the six parties and the host of the talks.

Soon after the two visits, China announced that a long-stalled “working group” meeting of lower-level officials would take place May 12. The talks, which will be conducted in Beijing, are designed to set the stage for a meeting of higher-level officials before the end of June.

The recent nuclear crisis began in October 2002, when the United States reported that North Korea admitted to pursuing a covert uranium-enrichment program, which can produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. As the crisis escalated, Pyongyang also restarted a plutonium-based nuclear program that had been frozen since 1994 by an agreement with the United States. Since then, the two countries have participated in three rounds of multilateral talks with China, including two rounds of six-party talks. The negotiations have made little apparent progress.

During the most recent round of six-party talks held in February, the parties— which also include South Korea, Japan, and Russia—agreed to meet again by the end of June and to form a “working group” of lower-level officials to prepare for the next round. (See ACT, April 2004.)

The visits by Cheney and Kim reflect the diplomatic importance Beijing has assumed since the crisis began. Pyongyang and Washington have both consulted with Beijing repeatedly, attempting to enlist its support for their positions. In an April 9 interview with Arms Control Today (see page 31), Department of State Director for Policy Planning Mitchell Reiss described China as a “mediator” in the dispute, adding that it has “the most influence on the North. And so to get [it] on board…gives us much more weight in these negotiations.”

In an April 15 speech at Fudan University in Shanghai, Cheney similarly argued that pressure from China and the other participants was important to “persuade” North Korea to dismantle its nuclear program. Cheney also indicated that Pyongyang’s neighbors should demand that it yield to U.S. demands as a condition for improved economic relations with them, suggesting that “the sad state” of its economy will force the regime to comply.

U.S. officials have previously suggested that North Korea’s economic weakness provides other governments with a source of diplomatic leverage, but U.S. intelligence agencies have stated that North Korea shows no signs of imminent collapse. (See ACT, December 2003.)

Warning that a nuclear-armed North Korea could both provoke a regional arms race and supply nuclear weapons technology to terrorists or other governments, Cheney also implied that the United States might lose patience with its diplomatic efforts. “It is important that we make progress in this area. Time is not necessarily on our side,” he said. Undersecretary of State John Bolton underscored Cheney’s point April 27, declaring that “simply continuing to talk…is not progress.”

North Korea itself has said that delays in resolving the dispute will give it more time to build its nuclear arsenal. (See ACT, March 2004.)

Kim met with high-ranking Chinese officials, including President Hu Jintao, during his April 19-21 visit. Washington did not become aware of the meeting until shortly before it began, a State Department official told ACT April 28.

The official Xinhua News Agency reported April 21 that the two leaders agreed to “jointly [push] forward the six-party talks process” and Kim promised North Korea “will continue to take a patient and flexible manner and actively participate in the six-party talks process, and make its own contributions to the progress of the talks.”

Kim noted that North Korea’s negotiating stance “remained unchanged,” according to an April 22 state-run Korean Central News Agency statement.

North Korea has said it will dismantle its nuclear weapons program, but only in a series of steps synchronized with significant U.S. concessions.

Pyongyang’s proposal has not swayed Washington, which says North Korea has failed to meet the U.S. bottom-line demand that any dismantlement agreement be “complete, verifiable, and irreversible.” Washington has said bilateral relations could improve if North Korea carries out such a disarmament program, but claims it will not “reward” Pyongyang for doing so, and refuses to specify how it will respond to such North Korean concessions.

Although Kim’s pledge may lend credence to South Korean press reports that Beijing pressured North Korea to soften its negotiating stance, two other recent Chinese decisions underscore Beijing’s reluctance to go along with a U.S. strategy to isolate Pyongyang. Instead, Beijing appears intent on retaining its role as an “honest broker” between North Korea and the United States.

Xinhua reported April 21 that the two countries agreed to “further develop bilateral economic and trade cooperation.” Additionally, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson stated April 22 that Beijing decided to increase its aid to Pyongyang.

Moreover, China joined South Korea and Russia during the last round of talks in pledging energy assistance to North Korea “on certain conditions.” Additionally, a Chinese Foreign Ministry official told reporters during the talks that the U.S. goal of North Korean nuclear dismantlement is “not enough” and that North Korea’s “concerns should be addressed.”

Indeed, despite Reiss’ insistence during the April 9 interview that the United States is able to form a “united front” against North Korea with the other four participants, China has consistently pressed for North Korea and the United States to show greater “flexibility” in the talks. The Foreign Ministry spokesperson stated April 15 that resolving the dispute requires “greater flexibility and pragmatism from the other five parties.”

 

 

 

 

As North Korea and the United States prepare for a new round of multilateral talks concerning Pyongyang’s nuclear program, both sides are lobbying for the support of China...

India, Pakistan Set Confidence-Building Talks

Gabrielle Kohlmeier


Indian and Pakistani officials are scheduled to meet later this month in the Indian capital New Delhi for formal discussions on nuclear confidence-building measures. The talks come in the wake of groundbreaking peace talks between the two bitter South Asian nuclear rivals earlier this year. (See ACT, January/February 2004.)

The May 25-26 meeting will include discussions on a possible agreement on annual exchanges of information regarding the location of nuclear installations and facilities. Another expected topic for discussion will be Pakistani nuclear weapons scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan’s admission that he passed nuclear secrets to Libya, North Korea, and Iran. Pakistani government officials have insisted that Khan acted without their support or acquiescence. While visiting Pakistan’s major nuclear facility in Rawalpindi April 21, Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf contended that no Pakistani government “had ever been involved in any kind of proliferation activities.”

In addition, Indian officials have expressed fears that Pakistani nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of extremists and have said that they will want a briefing on Pakistan’s nuclear security safeguards measures.

The talks will be led by Pakistan’s Acting Foreign Secretary Tariq Osman Hyder and the Indian Ministry of External Affairs Additional Secretary Sheel Kant Sharma. Further talks are scheduled for June 15-16 in Pakistan to discuss prevention of drug trafficking and smuggling. After the expert level meetings in May and June, the countries are planning another meeting in June that will bring together the countries’ foreign secretaries. Ministerial-level meetings will then assemble the foreign ministers at some time in August, according to the schedule outlined by India and Pakistan in February.

The talks mark the latest sign of progress in easing tensions between the two countries, which have come close to war on several occasions in the past five years. The most recent crises in 1999 and 2002 followed the two states’ nuclear-weapon test explosions of 1998 and raised concerns that the countries would resort to using their nuclear weapons. (See ACT, March 2004.)

Relations have been on an upswing since Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Musharraf took the opportunity at a Jan. 6 regional summit in Islamabad to discuss renewing attempts at negotiation. In February the two countries charted a map for discussing the divisive issues plaguing Indo-Pakistani relations. Key issues involved confidence building, terrorism and drugs, trade and economic cooperation, travel restrictions, and disputed territory, including Jammu and Kashmir. (See ACT, March 2004.)

Both sides have maintained their commitment to the talks. “The ethos of the moment is genuine,” former Pakistani Foreign Secretary Tanvir Ahmed Khan told the BBC News Online earlier this year. “There is sufficient political will on both sides to continue talks.”

In Pakistan, Musharraf has reaffirmed his commitment to the talks although no progress has yet been reported on the bitter divisions over the disputed province of Kashmir, a long-standing Pakistani grievance.

Further, Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Shivshankar Menon has said that his country’s national elections are unlikely to impede progress in Indo-Pakistani relations. Menon maintained that all of India’s major parties support dialogue with Pakistan and peaceful resolution of all issues.

 

 

 

 

Indian and Pakistani officials are scheduled to meet later this month in the Indian capital New Delhi for formal discussions on nuclear confidence-building measures...

Libya to Keep Limited Missile Force

Paul Kerr


The United States and United Kingdom have agreed “in principle” to allow Libya to keep at least some of its medium-range Scud B missiles, a Department of State official told Arms Control Today April 21. However, Libya must modify the missiles to conform with range and payload limitations it agreed to in December 2003, and the United States is “not sure” the plan is feasible, the official added.

Along with its December pledge to eliminate its nuclear and chemical weapons programs, Libya agreed to eliminate ballistic missiles that do not conform to guidelines set by the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). The 33-member MTCR is an export control regime that is designed to restrict missile suppliers’ exports of missiles capable of carrying a 500-kilogram payload at least 300 kilometers. (See ACT, January/February 2004.)

The official said Washington and London are waiting to hear details about Tripoli’s proposal, which they must approve, to modify the missiles. Two modification methods under consideration include removing portions of the missiles’ fuel tanks and adding weight to the nonpayload portions of the missile, the official said.

A British embassy official told Arms Control Today April 21 that the United States “has the lead” in the modification efforts but added that London will initially monitor Tripoli’s compliance because it has a closer relationship with Libya, including diplomatic relations. The United States will eventually “be involved,” the official said.

The two governments have been overseeing much of Libya’s disarmament activities. Assistant Secretary of State Paula DeSutter told Congress in March that the United States has removed Libya’s longest-range Scud C missiles. (See ACT, April 2004.) A State Department official interviewed April 19 would not say how many missiles Libya will be allowed to retain.

A 2001 Department of Defense report estimated the range of Libya’s Scud B missiles to be 300 kilometers, but the British official said the missiles that would be modified can fly farther than that. A senior intelligence official said in December that, in addition to showing U.S. and British inspection teams a North Korean Scud C missile with an 800-kilometer range, Tripoli disclosed its attempts to develop long-range Scud-type missiles with North Korean assistance. Libya has privately agreed to end its military trade with North Korea, Iran, and Syria, the State Department official said on April 21, adding that the United States is waiting for Libya to make a “public declaration” that it has done so.


 

 

 

 

The United States and United Kingdom have agreed “in principle” to allow Libya to keep at least some of its medium-range Scud B missiles, a Department of State official told Arms Control Today April 21...

New Life for the MX Missile?

Wade Boese


A vestige of the Cold War, the mammoth, 10-warhead MX missile is on schedule to become history next fall just like the superpower conflict that spawned its creation. Yet, Pentagon planners are already contemplating the missile’s possible reincarnation.

Air Force Space Command has deactivated 26 MX intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), also known as “Peacekeepers,” and has 24 more to go, according to spokesperson Michael Kucharek. The last MX missile is supposed to be disassembled by September 2005.

The Bush administration is deactivating the entire MX force as part of its efforts to reduce the number of operationally deployed U.S. strategic nuclear warheads to comply with the terms of the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty negotiated with Russia in 2002.

In decommissioning the MX group, the four-stage missile is taken apart in sections, beginning with its payload, and then the sections are shipped to Hill Air Force Base in Ogden, Utah, for storage. The Pentagon plans to maintain the MX missile silos, rather than blow them up, in order to keep them available to house future missiles.

A February 2004 report by a task force of the Defense Science Board, an independent advisory body to the secretary of defense, recommended redeploying MX missiles armed with conventional warheads so as to be able to hit targets around the globe in no more than 30 minutes.

The Air Force Space Command plans to review the proposal as part of a study beginning this month. That effort will examine what systems should be developed to replace hundreds of U.S. Minuteman III ICBMs whose service lives start to expire in 2018. The United States currently deploys 500 Minuteman IIIs armed with 1,200 nuclear warheads.

 

 

 

 

A vestige of the Cold War, the mammoth, 10-warhead MX missile is on schedule to become history next fall just like the superpower conflict that spawned its creation...

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