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– John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
January 19, 2011
Press Releases

Experts Urge U.S. to Scale-Back Plans and Reduce High Costs of Nuclear Weapons Modernization Plan

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Experts Urge U.S. to Scale-Back Plans and Reduce High Costs of Unsustainable, Unnecessary Nuclear Weapons Modernization Plan 

For Immediate Release
: Sept. 22, 2014

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, Arms Control Association (202-463-8270 x107); Hans Kristensen, Federation of American Scientists (202-454-4695);Stephen Young, Union of Concerned Scientists (202-331-5429); Angela Canterbury, Council for a Livable World, (202-546-0795); Erica Fein, Women's Action for New Directions (202-544-5055 x2605).
(Washington, D.C.) Leaders and experts from seven national nongovernmental organizations are charging that current plans for maintaining and upgrading the U.S. nuclear arsenal over the next decade and beyond exceed reasonable deterrence requirements as set out by the President in June 2013, are unaffordable, and unless they are significantly adjusted, the nuclear force modernization plan will also deplete resources from higher priority budget needs. 

In a letter to the White House earlier this year, the groups write: "[w]e believe there are more realistic ways to maintain U.S. nuclear forces to meet tomorrow's national security requirements. The President's 2013 guidance allows for a one-third reduction below New START levels, but even if the United States maintains New START warhead levels, it can do so at significantly lower cost."

"Perpetual nuclear modernization is inconsistent with the pledge made 45 years ago by the the United States and the other NPT nuclear-weapons states to pursue nuclear disarmament, and is inconsistent with President Obama's call for the pursuit of a world without nuclear weapons," says Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists. "Despite the financial constraints, the United States (and other nuclear-armed states) appear committed to spending hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade on modernizing their nuclear forces," he notes.

In December 2013, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the United States plans to spend at least $355 billion to maintain and rebuild the nuclear arsenal and refurbish the nuclear weapons complex over the next decade, and that costs will continue to climb thereafter. A major part of this cost growth is the plan to rebuild all three legs of the existing nuclear "triad" and their associated warheads, including 12 new ballistic missile submarines, up to 100 new long-range bombers, and possibly new land-based ballistic missiles and a new long-range standoff cruise missile. 

The nuclear weapons plans, the costs, and the politics behind them, are described in a front page story in today's edition of The New York Times.

The nuclear weapons experts say that this U.S. spending plan is excessive, and that the United States can save tens of billions of dollars by reducing the number of new missiles and bombers it plans to buy and still maintain nuclear warhead levels established by the 2010 New START treaty with Russia.

Budget limits on future defense spending will force budget trade-offs among various Pentagon programs, the letter notes. The defense budget still needs to be cut by $115 billion from 2016-2019 to meet sequester targets, or about $29 billion per year on average.

These realities have led the White House to launch a National Security Council-led, interagency review of the multibillion-dollar plans to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal. This review will inform the administration's fiscal year 2016 budget request to Congress, Ned Price of the National Security Council said in an Aug. 22 e-mail toArms Control Today.

"We believe the current nuclear spending plan is unsustainable and will deplete resources from higher priorities," said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. "In its review, the Obama administration needs to make significant changes to existing nuclear force modernization plans that trim back, and in some cases, forgo unnecessary programs, such as a new nuclear-armed cruise missile, and save taxpayer dollars," he said.

The nongovernmental leaders say the United States can maintain planned warhead levels with fewer delivery vehicles. New START allows both sides to field up to 1,550 warheads on 700 long-range delivery vehicles. But the United States could also meet the warhead limit by fielding only about 600 delivery vehicles, saving tens of billions of dollars.

For example, the Navy plans to deploy about 1,000 warheads at sea under New START.  But the United States does not need 12 new submarines to field 1,000 warheads; eight submarines would be enough the groups note in their letter. By reducing the fleet of submarines to eight, the United States would save $16 billion over the next decade, according to the CBO.

The Air Force wants to develop a new nuclear-armed cruise missile, "but it is not clear why it needs both a penetrating bomber and a standoff missile to meet the deterrence requirements of the United States and our allies," said Kimball of the Arms Control Association. 

Earlier this year, Senate Appropriations energy and water subcommittee and the House and Senate Appropriations defense subcommittees cut the administration's request for the new cruise missile.

In its June 17 report accompanying the bill, the Senate Appropriations energy and water subcommittee said it is "reluctant to provide funding for a new cruise missile warhead when the Air Force cannot identify sufficient funding in its budget planning documents to design and procure a cruise missile to deliver a refurbished warhead."

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is also pursuing an overly ambitious and costly strategy for warhead refurbishment argue the organizations. The current plan, dubbed "3+2", envisions spending $60 billion to refurbish the arsenal and to use nuclear components that have not previously been tested together, raising reliability concerns.

"The NNSA should instead pursue a simpler refurbishment strategy, avoid risky schemes, and retire warhead types where possible," said Lisbeth Gronlund, co-director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Cuts in the size and not just the cost of U.S. and Russian stockpiles are also in order, the organizations argue. Last year, President Obama and the Pentagon announced that the U.S. could cut the size of the deployed strategic stockpile by up to one-third. Both sides should work in parallel to reduce force levels below the New START limits.

"Such an initiative would also allow both sides to reduce the extraordinary costs of force maintenance and modernization and could help induce other nuclear-armed states to exercise greater restraint," said Erica Fein, nuclear weapons policy director for Women's Action for New Directions.

"The New York Times did an excellent job of covering our nation's unsustainable, nonsensical nuclear weapons policy. However, there is more to the story," said Angela Canterbury, executive director for Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. "The current plan is geared towards building more nuclear weapons that we don't need and can't afford. We need to scrap it and the nuclear weapons we don't need. We need to put into place a far more affordable plan to meet the President's goals to make us safer."

The organizations' letter to the White House is available online.
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The Arms Control Association (ACA) is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the dangers posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.
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Experts from seven national nongovernmental organizations are charging that current plans for maintaining and upgrading the U.S. nuclear arsenal over the next decade and beyond exceed reasonable deterrence requirements.

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As Arms Trade Treaty PrepCom Nears, Experts Analyze Arms Trade and Recommend Action in Arms Control Today

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For Immediate Release July 7, 2010

Media Contacts Jeff Abramson, Deputy Director, Arms Control Association (202-463-8270 ext. 109)

(Washington, D.C.) Next week, representative from more than 100 countries will gather at the United Nations in New York City for preparatory committee meetings on a legally binding international arms trade treaty (ATT). In a special section “Getting a Handle on the Arms Trade” in the July/August edition of Arms Control Today, experts analyze the difficulty of monitoring transfers of conventional weapons and provide recommendations for creating a strong international instrument.

Daniel Mack, policy and advocacy coordinator for arms control at the Brazilian nongovernmental organization Instituto Sou da Paz and a leader within the international community pressing for a robust ATT, analyzes the current international debate in “The Arms Trade Treaty PrepCom: Prepared and Committed?” Detailing the key points of contention in the years that have led up to the July 12-23 PrepCom, Mack calls for states to be ambitious. He says, “The worst case scenario would be to move slowly and ultimately accommodate all views…  into a lowest-common-denominator or toothless instrument that could be ratified by all governments but would make none of their citizens safer.

The full article is available online at http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2010_07-08/mack

In another article, titled “The International Arms Trade: Difficult to Define, Measure, and Control,” Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s arms transfer program director Paul Holtom and researcher Mark Bromley note that the international arms trade continues to thrive despite the recent economic downturn. In explaining the challenges of defining and estimating the arms trade, Holtom and Bromley find that while the list of major arms suppliers  remains consistent since the height of the Cold War, the list of top importers is considerably different. They note, “If an ATT can be concluded, the next challenge will be to ensure that states have the capacity to control arms transfers (exports, imports, transit, transshipment, brokering, and other activities covered by transfer controls).”

The full article is available online at http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2010_07-08/holtom-bromley

Additional ATT resources are available online from the Arms Control Association at http://www.armscontrol.org/subject/116/date

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As Arms Trade Treaty PrepCom Nears, Experts Analyze Arms Trade and Recommend Action in Arms Control Today 

Arms Control Association Announces New Research Director, Tom Collina

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For Immediate Release: June 8, 2009
Press Contact: Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, (202) 463-8270 x 107

(Washington, D.C.) Today, the Arms Control Association announced that Tom Collina will join the staff as its Research Director beginning July 1.

Tom Z. Collina has over 20 years of Washington D.C. experience in arms control and global security issues. He has held senior leadership positions such as Executive Director of the 2020 Vision Education Fund, Director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, Executive Director of the Institute for Science and International Security and Senior Research Analyst at the Federation of American Scientists.
Collina portrait
Tom's past research and policy advocacy has focused on advancing efforts to strengthen the nonproliferation regime and reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism, including the indefinite extension of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, negotiation of a the zero-yield Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and reductions in U.S.-Russian strategic arsenals.

He has published over 50 articles in major magazines and journals and has appeared frequently in the national media, including The New York Times, CNN, and NPR. Tom has testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and briefed congressional staff on numerous occasions. Tom has a degree in International Relations from Cornell University and serves on the Boards of Directors of the Scoville Peace Fellowship and the Janelia Foundation.

Collina will concentrate on nuclear weapons policy, nuclear arms control, missile defense and missile nonproliferation, and nuclear testing policy issues and contribute to the ACA's monthly journal, Arms Control Today.

"We very pleased Tom Collina will be with ACA to augment our already strong research and policy team at this time, when so many important arms control opportunities and decisions are before U.S. and global decision-makers," said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

Energy Dept. Reshuffles Nonproliferation Program

Wade Boese


The Department of Energy announced April 14 that it is shifting control of its program aimed at retrieving tons of previously exported, U.S.-origin nuclear fuel that could be used to build nuclear weapons. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said the move would “refocus and strengthen our international campaign to deny terrorists opportunities to seize nuclear materials.”

Abraham reassigned responsibility for the nuclear materials retrieval program from the Energy Department’s environmental management office to its National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). Department sources said that the reorganization took place because the environmental management office, which is primarily tasked with cleaning up U.S. nuclear sites, was not viewed as giving the international effort sufficient priority. Following much debate, Energy Department officials settled on moving the program to NNSA after initially placing it with another office.

Established in 1996, the Foreign Research Reactor Spent Nuclear Fuel Acceptance Program is designed to return to the United States nearly 20,000 kilograms of enriched uranium, including roughly 5,000 kilograms of highly enriched uranium (HEU) previously exported to 41 countries. The program was launched amid growing concerns that terrorists or “rogue regimes” might buy or steal the material to build weapons.

In the early Cold War years, Washington had required all countries importing U.S. nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes to return it to the United States, but that policy lapsed in 1964.

The Clinton administration intended to limit the program to a 10-year time frame. U.S. officials wanted to pressure other governments to devise their own solutions for dealing with their nuclear waste so the United States did not become everyone’s “garbage can,” according to an Energy Department official interviewed April 23.

In addition, the retrieval program was seen as a necessary complement to another U.S. nonproliferation program to persuade states to convert their research reactors from using HEU fuel, which can be used directly to make nuclear weapons, to less bomb-ready low-enriched uranium fuel. To help convince states to make the switch, the United States needed to provide them with a viable HEU disposal option.

Under the retrieval program, states judged by the World Bank as being economically well-off pay for shipping the nuclear materials back to the United States, while Washington subsidizes the costs for poorer states. The U.S. government charges richer states for the retrieval process because, in part, it alone shoulders the long-term storage expenses.

Since the program’s inception, 1,100 kilograms of HEU have been shipped back to the United States. Depending on the bomb design, this amount could be used to build as many as 30 nuclear weapons.

However, a February 2004 program audit by the Energy Department’s inspector general (IG) reported that current projections indicate that the retrieval program is set to recover only about half of the eligible 5,000 kilograms of HEU by the program’s scheduled end.

A dozen states have declined to participate fully in the program for economic or political reasons. For instance, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands have their own programs either to store or reprocess the material. Yet, the IG audit assessed that at least 56 kilograms of U.S.-origin HEU is currently located in four “sensitive” states not involved in the program. The audit did not identify the four; but Iran, Israel, Pakistan, and South Africa are among current nonparticipants.

Abraham said NNSA’s new responsibilities for the program would include increasing the number of countries participating, expediting shipments, and extending the program’s life. He also called on NNSA to prioritize retrieving materials posing the greatest proliferation threat.

Abraham did not indicate whether the program might broaden its current scope. The IG report found that more than 12,000 kilograms of U.S.-origin HEU, nearly 80 percent of which is in Germany and France, does not currently fall under the rubric of the program. The program’s original mandate applied to enriched uranium shipped to foreign research reactors, but not to fast or special purpose reactors.

President George W. Bush’s Feb. 11 speech urging greater control of weapons-usable materials appeared to influence the reorganization. (See ACT, March 2004.)

Earlier this year, Energy Department officials testified that the retrieval program would be reassigned to the civilian radioactive waste management office. Reportedly, Undersecretary of Energy, Science, and Environment Robert Card, who resigned from his post April 18 for personal reasons, supported this approach. Many program officials, however, favored realignment with NNSA, which also helps Russia retrieve its exported nuclear fuel.

NNSA will ultimately share program duties with the civilian radioactive waste management office. Although a precise division of labor is still in the works, it is generally understood that NNSA will take the lead on policy and the waste management office will transport and store the retrieved nuclear materials.

Corrected online August 29, 2008. See explanation.

 

 

 

 

The Department of Energy announced April 14 that it is shifting control of its program aimed at retrieving tons of previously exported, U.S.-origin nuclear fuel that could be used to build nuclear weapons.

Brazil Denies IAEA Full Access to Enrichment Sites

Dan Koik


The Brazilian government continues to refuse to allow International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to eyeball equipment at its uranium enrichment plant, citing the need to protect its industrial secrets.

IAEA inspectors who have recently visited enrichment facilities at Resende have arrived to find portions of the site and its equipment concealed. Brazilian officials acknowledged that portions of the plant had been hidden, arguing that Brazil was not required to disclose every detail of the process. They said that inspectors would be allowed to conduct tests on uranium entering and leaving the facility as well as on the surrounding area.

Brazil claims that their enrichment equipment is up to 30 percent more efficient than previously possible and that allowing visual inspections of the equipment will allow competitors to steal its trade secrets. Brazil, which has the world’s sixth-largest natural uranium reserve, hopes that a domestic enrichment facility will allow it to save between $10 and $12 million every year on fuel for its own nuclear reactors and, eventually, to export surplus fuel.

Brazil’s actions have annoyed IAEA officials and other diplomats, who say that, although Brazil is not suspected of developing nuclear weapons, its refusal to allow unfettered access sets a bad precedent at a time when the international community is trying to compel Iran and North Korea to accept similar inspections.

The controversy comes after statements by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and former Minister of Science and Technology Roberto Amaral raised doubts about Brazil’s commitment to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). In a speech last year, Amaral said that Brazil needed to maintain scientific research capabilities in all fields, including the knowledge necessary to produce nuclear weapons. Lula quickly distanced himself from the remarks and Amaral was among the first to resign during a reorganization of the government this year. But Lula’s own nonproliferation credentials had been tarnished when he criticized the NPT as a discriminatory treaty during his campaign for the presidency in 2002. (See ACT, November 2003)

Indeed, Brazilian diplomats have echoed Lula’s earlier remarks in the controversy over inspections of the enrichment facilities. They have taken particular umbrage at President George W. Bush’s February proposal that countries which did not already possess such enrichment technology be prevented from acquiring it. (See ACT, February 2003)

A Brazilian diplomat told The Washington Post, “We don’t like treaties that are discriminatory in their intent.” He said that Bush’s proposal was “unacceptable to Brazil, precisely because we see ourselves as so strictly committed to nonproliferation, to disarmament, to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.”

In addition to the impasse over inspections, Brazil has refused calls by the IAEA, the United States and others to sign an Additional Protocol to its safeguards agreement with the IAEA under the NPT. An additional protocol expand the IAEA’s authority to detect clandestine nuclear programs and increase the number of nuclear-related activities that a signatory must declare to the agency.

The United States has avoided intervening in the dispute, beyond expressing a desire that Brazil should agree to inspections and sign the Additional Protocol. “It’s a very sensitive subject but I believe our government has a terrific amount of confidence in Brazil,” said Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega, “We believe they (Brazil) are committed to meeting their international obligations and this is a matter that is best handled by the IAEA in a multilateral way. We do not want to make this a bilateral issue, because quite frankly the U.S. has confidence that Brazil is a responsible actor.”

The United States also said that it would support Brazilian diplomat Sergio Duarte to chair the 2005 NPT review conference, although Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton used the opportunity to call on Brazil to resolve its differences with the IAEA so that “it doesn’t cast a pall over the review conference next year.”

 

 

 

 

The Brazilian government continues to refuse to allow International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to eyeball equipment at its uranium enrichment plant, citing the need to protect its industrial secrets.

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...

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.

Security Council Unanimously Adopts Resolution on Denying Terrorists WMD

Wade Boese


The UN Security Council April 28 unanimously adopted a resolution calling on states to take steps to deny and punish terrorists seeking weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. Despite its seemingly unobjectionable purpose, however, the U.S.-initiated resolution required several months of debate and revisions before winning approval.

In its final form, the legally binding resolution demands that all states adopt and enforce “appropriate, effective” laws and measures, such as export and border controls, to prevent nonstate actors from acquiring biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons, as well as missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles designed to deliver such arms. What constitutes “appropriate” and “effective” is not specified, however, and is left up to each state to determine “in accordance with their national procedures.”

Each state is also ordered to impose controls and safeguards on related materials that could be used to develop weapons of mass destruction.

The resolution further encourages states to work together to block any terrorist attempts to build, buy, steal, or trade dangerous weapons. Although China succeeded in removing the word “interdiction” from the resolution, the concept remains in a more ambiguous phrase calling on states to “take cooperative action to prevent illicit trafficking.” Beijing’s concerns stemmed from its wariness toward the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative, which is a loose coalition of 14 countries committed to intercepting threatening arms shipments at sea, in the air, and on land.

The measure also urges states to provide assistance to those without sufficient expertise or resources to implement the resolution.

James Cunningham, deputy U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, said April 28 that the resolution aims to check terrorists “seeking to exploit weak export control laws and security measures in a variety of countries.”

A U.S. official interviewed April 29 by Arms Control Today further explained that the purpose behind the resolution is to provide governments with the authority and leverage to do “everything within their jurisdiction to stop proliferators.”

Within six months, governments are supposed to submit a report on their intentions or completed actions under the resolution to a special committee charged with reporting on its implementation. Answering to the Security Council, the committee will operate for two years.

President George W. Bush first called for a resolution criminalizing proliferation in a Sept. 23, 2003, address to the UN General Assembly. (See ACT, October 2003.) It took the U.S. government nearly three months to draft its original proposal, another three months to convince the other four permanent members of the Security Council—China, France, Russia, and the United Kingdom—to back it, and one last month to win the support of the rest of the 15-member Security Council.

“The negotiation process was not easy,” Germany’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Gunter Pleuger said after the Security Council’s action. Germany held the council’s presidency in April, and U.S. officials wanted to get the resolution passed before the top position rotated in May to Pakistan, the member that expressed the greatest unease with the resolution.

Along with many other states, Germany voiced one of the central criticisms of the initial resolution: its lack of any reference to disarmament. Berlin and other capitals argued that nonproliferation and disarmament go hand in hand and that the surest way of preventing terrorists from getting weapons of mass destruction was for all states to eliminate such arms from their own arsenals.

The resolution now mentions disarmament in its preamble, partially satisfying Germany and other like-minded states. “We would have preferred, however, to see it highlighted in the operative section as well,” Pleuger stated.

Another primary concern of many states was the perception that the U.S. draft resolution initially authorized the use of sanctions and force.

The United Kingdom, the measure’s other leading champion, argued otherwise. “The resolution is not about coercion or enforcement,” assured Adam Thomson, who is the United Kingdom’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, in an April 22 debate on the resolution.

Pleuger attempted to clarify any lingering doubts following the Security Council’s approval. “The resolution does not foresee any unilateral enforcement measures,” he said, adding that any attempt to punish states for not living up to the resolution would require another Security Council decision.

The U.S. official interviewed April 29, however, dismissed the notion that the resolution lacked teeth. Noting that the council adopted the resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which recognizes punitive actions to preserve peace and security, the official stated, “[I]t’s the toughest mandate that the [United Nations] can give.”

Some states expressed concern that the resolution might be used to supplant existing arms control treaties and infringe on their treaty rights, such as the right to possess nuclear materials and facilities for peaceful purposes under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). The resolution states, however, that “none of the obligations set forth in this resolution shall be interpreted so as to conflict with or alter the rights and obligations” of states-parties to the NPT or other arms control accords.

Pakistan feared the resolution might be used to pressure it to give up its nuclear arsenal. An early draft of the resolution mentioned the “importance” of all states to “adopt and fully implement” existing arms control agreements. Pakistan is not a member of the NPT, which does not recognize the possession of nuclear weapons by Pakistan, India, or Israel. To mollify Pakistan, the resolution’s exhortation was modified to apply only to current treaty states-parties.

Another amendment made to the resolution to satisfy Pakistan was a clarification that the resolution applies only to the future. Islamabad was clearly motivated by the desire to insulate itself against any attempt by other governments to punish or pressure it to take additional actions related to the exposure earlier this year of a massive international nuclear smuggling ring headed by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of the Pakistani nuclear bomb program. (See ACT, March 2004.)

Pakistani Ambassador to the UN Munir Akram indicated April 28 that Pakistan considered the matter closed and that the resolution would not obligate Pakistan to cooperate with any government that felt differently or compel Pakistan to provide greater transparency of its weapons programs. “Pakistan will not accept any demand for access, much less inspections, of our nuclear and strategic assets, materials and facilities,” Akram said.

 

 

 

 

The UN Security Council April 28 unanimously adopted a resolution calling on states to take steps to deny and punish terrorists seeking weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery...

U.S. Accuses Burma of Seeking Weapons Technology

Paul Kerr


U.S. officials are warning that another new concern may be emerging in the clandestine world of proliferation: Burma.

During a March 25 House International Relations Committee hearing, Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Daley testified that the United States has “reason to believe” North Korea has offered surface-to-surface missiles to Burma (called “Myanmar” by the current regime). Daley said Washington has expressed concerns to Rangoon about possible transfers and said the United States would deal with such activity “vigorously and rapidly.” There is no indication, however, that Burma’s attempts have yielded any significant progress and Burmese officials deny accepting such offers.

Responding to questioning from the committee’s chairman, Rep. James Leach (R-Iowa), Daley confirmed that North Korea has provided some military hardware to Burma, but was unable to provide details about what had actually been transferred.

Daley also said that “the Burmese remain interested in acquiring a nuclear research reactor, [but] we believe that news reports of construction activities are not well founded.” Burma’s Deputy Foreign Minister U Khin Maung Win acknowledged in January 2002 that Burma had received “a proposal” from Russia to build a nuclear research reactor. A Burmese embassy official told Arms Control Today April 22 that Burma continues to receive “assistance…from Russia to construct a nuclear research reactor and trainees have been sent to Russia.”

Concerns that Burma is attempting to acquire missile and nuclear technology have surfaced before. In a September 2003 Washington Post op-ed, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) called Burma’s attempts to acquire a nuclear reactor “troubling,” arguing that even a civilian reactor poses “an unnecessary proliferation risk” because terrorists could steal nuclear material from it.

Keith Luse, a senior aide to Lugar on the Foreign Relations Committee, also expressed concern about Rangoon’s possible weapons activities during an April 9 speech at the Heritage Foundation. Asserting that “special attention must be provided to the growing relationship between Burma and North Korea,” Luse argued that the charge that Pyongyang may have transferred both nuclear technology and Scud missiles to Rangoon requires further investigation.

But the Burmese embassy official denied Luse’s charges, saying “there is no truth in statements indicating Myanmar is acquiring assistance in nuclear technology” from North Korea and pointing out that Rangoon does not have diplomatic relations with Pyongyang.

According to a Feb. 13 statement from the Myanmar Information Committee web site, Rangoon “has no desire” to develop nuclear weapons, but “has the right to develop nuclear facilities for peaceful purposes.” In his 2002 statement, Win indicated that Burma is pursuing a nuclear research reactor to produce radioisotopes for medical purposes and to “train our young scientists and engineers.” Additionally, a Burmese Atomic Energy Department employee’s presentation to a 2003 conference in Japan states that “nuclear power introduction [is] desirable for [the] long term” and Rangoon “should consider small” 100-400 megawatt reactors, perhaps to be introduced around 2025.

As a party to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), Burma is prohibited from developing nuclear weapons, but is allowed to have civilian nuclear facilities. Daley told the House International Relations Committee in October that Washington wants to be “absolutely certain” that any Burmese nuclear facility “not be directly usable for nuclear weapons and that it would be subject to the full panoply of international atomic energy safeguards.” Burma has a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Such agreements allow the agency to ensure that parties to the NPT do not divert civilian nuclear programs for military purposes. Burma has also signed the Treaty of Bangkok, which established a nuclear-weapons free zone in Southeast Asia when it entered into force in 1997.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has not publicly expressed any concerns about Burma and nuclear or missile-related activities. A November CIA report to Congress regarding weapons proliferation does not mention Burma, and an agency spokesperson interviewed April 12 declined to comment on Daley’s testimony. The CIA report does mention North Korea’s exports of ballistic missiles and related components to other countries—a longstanding U.S. concern.

 

 

 

 

U.S. officials are warning that another new concern may be emerging in the clandestine world of proliferation: Burma...

U.S. Shifts Focus in Iraq WMD Hunt

Paul Kerr


Charles Duelfer, the head advisor to the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), provided some new details about the still-fruitless search efforts for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD) during a recent Senate hearing but presented little new evidence regarding prohibited Iraqi weapons programs.

Duelfer testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee March 30 during a closed hearing. According to a public version of his testimony, Duelfer said the ISG—the task force charged with coordinating the U.S.-led search for Iraqi WMDs—is continuing to search for weapons, but is also beginning to focus on former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s related “intentions.”

Defending their failure to locate stockpiles of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons more than a year after the United States invaded Iraq, Bush administration officials have continued to insist that Iraq had “programs” to produce prohibited weapons. However, the ISG’s findings to date have produced only evidence of low-level, dual-use biological, chemical, and nuclear research efforts. Additionally, Duelfer’s predecessor, David Kay, told The Boston Globe in February that Iraq did not have the ability to produce weapons on a large scale. (See ACT, November 2003 and March 2004.)

Kay has indicated that Iraq had programs to develop missiles exceeding the 150-kilometer range permitted under relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. However, he presented no evidence Iraq was producing such missiles, apart from noting that Iraq had modified 10 cruise missiles as of the recent invasion whose range may have exceeded that permitted by the UN.

Emphasizing that he was providing the committee a “status report” rather than an assessment of the ISG’s findings, Duelfer provided little new information about Iraq’s weapons efforts. He did reveal that Iraq had “plans” to construct facilities to produce large supplies of some dual-use chemicals. Additionally, the ISG has found “documents” indicating that Iraq was working on a conventional weapons project that included “research applicable for nuclear weapons development,” Duelfer said.

The committee’s ranking Democrat, Sen. Carl Levin (Mich.), stated after the hearing that Duelfer’s public statement was misleading because it selectively chose intelligence from a supporting classified report submitted to the committee the same day. Duelfer suggested “that Iraq had an active…WMD program while leaving out information that would lead one to doubt that it did,” Levin said. The charge is reminiscent of one of the most controversial aspects of the invasion: administration officials’ unequivocal prewar statements about the existence of such weapons on the basis of often dubious intelligence.

Duelfer also identified several “challenges” facing the ISG, placing special emphasis on the “extreme reluctance” of relevant Iraqi personnel to cooperate. Consequently, he said, the ISG remains ignorant of several aspects of Iraq’s WMD efforts, including whether Iraq concealed prohibited weapons or was planning to resume production of them in the future. Additionally, the ISG has “yet to identify the most critical people in any programmatic effort” because many have not been located or refuse to cooperate fully.

Duelfer pointed to the postwar destruction of many key documents and the lack of experienced ISG personnel as additional impediments to the ISG’s work. Kay told Congress in January that the destruction of important documents and other evidence would likely render the ISG’s final conclusions ambiguous.

Duelfer did not say how long the ISG’s investigation would take or make any predictions about the prospect for future weapons finds. This stands in contrast to Kay’s January assessment that “85 percent” of Iraq’s prohibited weapons programs “are probably known” and that the ISG’s search is unlikely to turn up any significant stock piles of prohibited weapons.

 

 

 

 

Charles Duelfer, the head advisor to the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), provided some new details about the still-fruitless search efforts for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD)...

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