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– Hans Blix
Former IAEA Director-General
Press Releases

Congress Appears in No Rush to Pass Additional Protocol Implementing Legislation

The implementing legislation for an additional protocol to the U.S. safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) remains tied up in a Senate committee...

Michael Cowden


The implementing legislation for an additional protocol to the U.S. safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) remains tied up in a Senate committee, but Republicans and Democrats hope to see action taken on the bill before the July 4 recess.

Both, however, acknowledge that the process could take longer than expected.

“This is something that will take some time,” Andy Fisher, spokesperson for Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), told Arms Control Today. “Numerous committees in both houses have an interest in the legislation.”

After failing to detect Iraq’s pre-1991 nuclear weapons program, the IAEA negotiated a new, more invasive inspection regime for countries who agree to participate. Codified in the 1997 model Additional Protocol to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), the tougher rules allow IAEA officials to conduct short-notice inspections and require participating states to provide more information to the IAEA about their nuclear material and nuclear weapons-related equipment.

The United States signed such an additional protocol in 1998. But in approving its version in March, the Senate, at the behest of the Bush administration, inserted broad exemptions to protect military as well as commercial nuclear secrets. (See ACT, April 2004.)

“I do not believe that the additional protocol will be a burden for the United States,” said Lugar (R-Ind.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in a March 31 statement.

Although other signatories to the treaty do not enjoy such exemptions, U.S. participation is seen as an important symbolic step in encouraging other countries, such as Iran, to sign an additional protocol.

A Vienna-based diplomat said that U.S. implementation of an additional protocol would set a good example for countries that have not yet done so. He said it also could help prevent other countries from developing nuclear weapons, citing Libya’s nuclear program as something that could have been stopped by a protocol.

The implementing bill was referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in December. Although the Senate unanimously endorsed an additional protocol itself on March 31, no vote has been scheduled in that chamber for the implementing legislation, which, unlike a treaty, must be approved by both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Implementing legislation describes the nuts-and-bolts process of how the treaty will work under U.S. law and is needed before it can be enforced domestically. The Senate also insisted that such implementing legislation be in place less than six months after the United States chooses to deposit its instrument of ratification to the agreement—the final step needed to become international law. The Bush administration has not yet carried out that step.

Fisher declined to suggest a timeline for Senate action, but staffers from each party predicted the measure will go to the floor in late June or early July.

One staffer said jurisdictional issues are mainly to blame for delays. The implementing legislation was initially referred to the Foreign Relations panel, but many of its provisions, like the ones concerning the issuing of warrants under U.S. law, pertain to issues that are usually handled by the Judiciary Committee.

Implementing legislation has yet to be introduced in the House.

A Democratic congressional staff member suggested that companion legislation would not be introduced in the House until after the Senate approves its version. He suggested, moreover, that the legislation would pass quickly once introduced in the House because, he said, the White House is eager to put additional diplomatic pressure on Iran.

 

 

 

 

U.S. Nonproliferation Resolution Advances at UN

A U.S. effort at the United Nations aimed at preventing nonstate actors from acquiring nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons has advanced. After months of talks...

Wade Boese


A U.S. effort at the United Nations aimed at preventing nonstate actors from acquiring nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons has advanced. After months of talks, Washington March 24 formally submitted the anti-proliferation resolution to the UN Security Council for approval after winning agreement from other major capitals on acceptable wording.

President George W. Bush first proposed the resolution in a Sept. 23, 2003, address to the UN General Assembly. (See ACT, October 2003.) The final language calls on states to “refrain from providing any form of support to non-state actors that attempt to develop, acquire, manufacture, possess, transport, transfer or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery.”

If the resolution is passed, governments would be duty bound to strengthen and enforce their domestic laws, export controls, and border controls against the sale, transfer, and theft of weapons of mass destruction and missiles from their territories by nonstate actors. The resolution orders that these measures be “appropriate” and “effective” without spelling out exactly what such terms entail.

A spokesman at the U.S. Mission to the UN told Arms Control Today March 25 that standards had not yet been developed to guide judgments on whether a particular government was living up to the terms of the resolution. Appropriate punishments for any violations also remain to be decided, although the official confirmed that a government not complying with the resolution might be threatened with sanctions or military force.

The resolution encourages states capable of doing so to help others that may lack the “legal and regulatory infrastructure, implementation experience and/or resources” to take action under it.
A Security Council committee would be established for “no more than six months” to monitor implementation of the resolution. Governments would be required to file reports on their activities under the resolution within 90 days of its adoption by the Security Council.

Nine of the 15 Security Council members, including all five permanent members, will need to approve the resolution for it to become binding. The United States had been negotiating with the council’s four other permanent members—China, France, Russia, and the United Kingdom—since December to secure their support for the resolution.

Washington reportedly worked the hardest to win over Beijing, although one U.S. official remarked March 25 that, “at one point or another, everybody had objected to something.”
China’s resistance to early drafts of the resolution stemmed from its opposition to the explicit use of “interdiction.” Beijing is concerned about the legality of intercepting ships suspected of carrying deadly arms or related materials.

The United States, which is spearheading a 14-state effort—the Proliferation Security Initiative—to interdict threatening arms shipments around the globe, removed the controversial word. However, the resolution does urge states to “take cooperative action to prevent illicit trafficking.” Ambassador John Negroponte, the U.S. representative to the UN, stated March 24 “There’s nothing in this resolution that precludes the continuation of the Proliferation Security Initiative.”

Negroponte told reporters that the resolution is “not meant to supercede, undercut, or undermine existing disarmament and nonproliferation regimes.” The intent, he explained, is to complement current arms control treaties by extending prohibitions against weapons beyond states.

The 15 Security Council members convened expert groups to begin consideration of the resolution March 25. There is no certainty as to when they will come to a final conclusion, but Negroponte said, “We hope to move this forward as expeditiously as possible.”

 

 

 

 

Despite Khan, Military Ties With Pakistan to Grow

President George W. Bush has lifted all sanctions against Pakistan and will designate the country a “major non-NATO ally”—an elite status that entitles recipients to preferential treatment in military-military operations...

Karen Yourish Roston and Delano D'Souza


President George W. Bush has lifted all sanctions against Pakistan and will designate the country a “major non-NATO ally”—an elite status that entitles recipients to preferential treatment in military-military operations. The two policy shifts come on the heels of February disclosures that A.Q. Khan, the father of the Pakistani nuclear bomb, had for years been providing nuclear weapons technology to Iran, Pakistan, and North Korea.

Secretary of State Colin Powell announced Bush’s intent to designate Pakistan a major non-NATO ally on March 18, following a meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister Kursheed Mehmood Kasuri in Islamabad. He said the move will facilitate cooperation between the United States and Pakistan in the war against terrorism.

The trip offered little insight into whether top Pakistani government and military officials were aware of or even involved in Khan’s network. Powell told reporters after a meeting with Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf that he received some new information about the network during the discussion but that he wanted to “reflect on what he said to me and discuss it with some of my other colleagues back in Washington” before commenting on specifics.

During a March 30 hearing of the House International Relations Committee, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton addressed the issue. “Based on the information we have now, we believe that the proliferation activities that Mr. Khan confessed to recently...were activities that he was carrying on without the approval of the top levels of the government of Pakistan.”
Bolton did say, however, that he is certain that some government officials did participate in and benefit from Khan’s network.

The administration says the decision to bestow “non-NATO ally” status on Pakistan underscores the importance of the country’s role in the war against international terrorism, particularly in the continuing fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban. With the designation, Pakistan will join an exclusive club of nations, including Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, New Zealand, South Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines. Major non-NATO allies are given greater access to U.S. defense equipment and supplies and are allowed to participate in cooperative research and development programs with the United States.

Further cementing U.S.-Pakistani relations, Bush said March 24 that he is lifting all remaining sanctions imposed in 1999 after Musharraf seized power in a coup, although most of these had already been waived or eliminated during the past five years. Bush said the action would “facilitate the transition to democratic rule in Pakistan and is important to United States efforts to respond to, deter, or prevent acts of international terrorism.”

Not surprisingly, the news of Pakistan’s new status is not sitting well with the Indian government. Although relations between the two countries have been improving—a series of peace talks are scheduled over the next few months—India has long accused Pakistan of fomenting cross-border terrorism, and the two countries are locked in a strategic battle over Kashmir. The tit for tat continued, with Pakistan testing its Shaheen II intermediate-range ballistic missile on March 9 and India testing its Trident short-range surface-to-air missile at month’s end.

Following Powell’s announcement, Navtej Sarna, a spokesperson for Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, noted that “it is disappointing that [Powell] did not share with us this decision” when he was in India two days before he made the statement in Islamabad. “We are studying the details of this decision, which has significant implications for India-U.S. relations,” Sarna stated.

India goes to the polls from April 20 to May 10 in an election that is expected to keep the Vajpayee coalition government in power. Still, Indian officials worry that the U.S. decision to grant Pakistan special military status could affect Vajpayee’s position in the upcoming election. Anand Sharma, spokesperson for India’s main opposition Congress Party, has called the U.S. decision a “public repudiation” for New Delhi.

The United States is trying to dispel Indian government concerns over its decision to grant Pakistan major non-NATO ally status. During questioning from reporters March 22, White House spokesperson Scott McClellan said the United States has “made it clear that we’re willing to explore the same possibility of similar cooperation with India.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

North Korea Talks Stymied

A second round of six-party talks to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis apparently yielded only marginal progress on procedural issues with major substantive differences still dividing the United States and North Korea...

Paul Kerr

A second round of six-party talks to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis apparently yielded only marginal progress on procedural issues with major substantive differences still dividing the United States and North Korea. In addition, the participants, including China, Russia, South Korea, and Japan, have yet to follow through on even the modest measures announced at the talks’ conclusion.

According to a Feb. 28 Chairman’s Statement issued by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi after the talks, which took place Feb. 25-28 in Beijing, the parties agreed to meet again in Beijing by the end of June and form a “working group” of lower-level officials to prepare for the meeting. A precise date has not yet been set, however, for either the next round of talks or a working group meeting.

Wang’s statement also said that all parties “expressed their commitment to a nuclear weapon-free Korean Peninsula” and agreed to “take coordinated steps to address the nuclear issue and…related concerns.” However, this does not appear to signify progress because China made a similar statement following the first round of talks.

Recounting the meeting to reporters during a Feb. 28 press conference, Wang described U.S. and North Korean positions that were essentially the same as those expressed prior to the talks. “Sharp” differences remain between Washington and Pyongyang, he said. (See ACT, March 2004.)

The participants are attempting to resolve the crisis that erupted in October 2002. That month, the United States announced that North Korea admitted during a meeting in Pyongyang to having a clandestine uranium-enrichment program, a charge North Korea has since disputed. Such a program can produce explosive material for nuclear weapons. Washington argued that the program violated an agreement that the two countries concluded in 1994, known as the Agreed Framework, to resolve the first North Korean nuclear crisis, which began after North Korea was discovered diverting spent fuel from its graphite-moderated nuclear reactor for reprocessing into plutonium for nuclear weapons. (See ACT, November 2002.)

Under the Agreed Framework, North Korea agreed to freeze the reactor and spent fuel, as well as the related facilities, and place them under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitoring. In return, Washington agreed to several measures, which included establishing an international consortium to provide heavy-fuel oil and two proliferation-resistant nuclear reactors to North Korea.

After the international consortium suspended fuel oil shipments the following month, North Korea ejected IAEA inspectors and withdrew from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Since then, North Korea has restarted the reactor, claimed to have reprocessed the spent fuel, and implied that it is constructing nuclear weapons. (See ACT, March 2004.)

Talks Redux

Attempting to resolve the crisis, the United States and North Korea have participated in two rounds of multilateral talks before the recent discussions: an April 2003 trilateral meeting in Beijing and a first round of six-party talks in August. (See ACT, October 2003 and May 2003.)

Nevertheless, little substantive headway has been made as neither of the parties has budged much from its opening bid. The United States has insisted that North Korea dismantle its nuclear programs but refuses to “reward” Pyongyang for doing so. The Bush administration has not publicly presented any specific proposals for resolving the crisis, but it has said that relations between the two countries might improve if North Korea verifiably dismantles its nuclear program. Additionally, Washington has linked such an improvement to Pyongyang’s progress in other areas, such as human rights, and has not stated that North Korean nuclear concessions would be sufficient for the United States to enact any policy changes.

Wang said the U.S. delegation told North Korean diplomats during the recent talks that Washington has “no intention of invading…or attempting a regime change” in North Korea and hoped to “normalize relations…after its concerns were addressed.” Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee March 2 that the United States “could” normalize its relations with North Korea if the latter addresses such issues as conventional forces on the Korean peninsula and human rights.

Wang also stated that North Korea “reaffirmed its willingness to give up nuclear programs…[if] the U.S. abandoned its hostile policies toward the country” and “offered to freeze its nuclear activities as the first step” if other participants take “corresponding actions.”

North Korea has previously claimed that it would be willing to dismantle its nuclear program, beginning with a freeze in further nuclear developments, but only in a series of synchronized steps that coincide with the United States providing significant concessions. Pyongyang wants Washington to normalize bilateral diplomatic relations, lift economic sanctions, increase food aid, issue an assurance that it will not attack North Korea, complete the suspended reactor project, and resume fuel oil shipments that were part of the Agreed Framework. (See ACT, October 2003.) Pyongyang’s demand for unspecified “corresponding actions,” however, may signal some flexibility on this position.

In a statement following the talks, Japan’s Foreign Ministry identified two specific issues dividing North Korea and other participants. The first is that Washington, Tokyo, and Seoul want all of North Korea’s nuclear programs to be dismantled, but Pyongyang wishes to be allowed to have one for peaceful purposes. This demand may signal North Korea’s wish to revive the Agreed Framework’s currently suspended nuclear reactor agreement. The second issue is that Washington and the other two governments want Pyongyang to acknowledge having an uranium enrichment program, which it has so far refused to do.

Wang also said that the other parties “discussed the concept” of Washington’s oft-repeated demand that the North Koreans agree to the “complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantling” of its nuclear programs but added that “no consensus has been achieved” on the specifics.

One sign suggesting that the talks were contentious is that the six parties failed to reach consensus on a joint document, leaving it to Wang to issue his statement instead. Department of State spokesperson Richard Boucher told reporters March 4 that North Korea demanded unacceptable “last minute” changes which ruined the prospect for a joint document.

There were some small signs of progress. Wang noted that China, South Korea, and Russia “pledged to provide energy assistance to [North Korea] on certain conditions.” South Korea’s deputy foreign minister, Lee Soo-hyuck, issued a proposal at the talks to provide energy assistance to the North in return for a freeze of its nuclear program, along with a promise to dismantle it. Washington was consulted on Seoul’s proposal and did not oppose it, a State Department official told Arms Control Today March 25.

The decision to announce another round of talks at the end of the February meeting also contrasts with the situation following the previous round, when North Korea implied that it was uninterested in further talks. Although Pyongyang quickly agreed in principle to participate in another round, a date was announced only after months of intense diplomacy.

The participants are now trying to agree on a date for a working group meeting. China has circulated a “concept paper” about the group’s composition and agenda to the other five parties, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said March 18. The State Department official said that both of these items remain under discussion.

Describing the working group’s purpose, the official said the concept is designed to form a regular meeting process to “clarify questions and reach agreements on certain matters” before the next round of six-party talks.

The Aftermath

North Korea blamed U.S. intransigence for the talks’ lack of progress. A Foreign Ministry spokesperson stated Feb. 29 that the U.S. delegation would not address its concerns and “said that it was not willing to negotiate.” Instead, the U.S. officials “insisted…that it can discuss [North Korea’s] concerns only when it completely scraps its nuclear program,” the spokesperson said.

A March 29 statement from the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) indicates that Pyongyang’s current position appears unchanged from the one expressed during the talks. However, North Korea seemed to issue a new demand in a March 8 KCNA statement, which said that the United States should withdraw its troops from South Korea if Washington’s position does not change.

Other participants also noted the distance between Washington and Pyongyang. Chinese Foreign Ministry official Liu Jianchao urged all participants to show “flexibility” in their positions during a Feb. 27 press conference, but added that the U.S. goal of North Korean nuclear dismantlement is “not enough” and that North Korea’s “concerns should be addressed.” Additionally, the South Korean official told Arms Control Today March 23 Washington and Seoul “share many important goals,” but there are “differences on tactics.”

For its part, the United States expressed satisfaction with the talks’ outcome, although North Korea apparently did not satisfy the U.S. requirement that it make a “fundamental choice” to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons. A senior administration official briefing reporters just before the talks did not say how North Korea should demonstrate that it had made this choice. However, Assistant Secretary of State Paula DeSutter told Arms Control Today March 12, without mentioning North Korea by name, that a “strategic commitment” to disarm included granting inspectors the sort of information and access that Libya has provided since announcing its intention to give up its nuclear weapons program in December.

State Department Director of Policy Planning Mitchell Reiss elaborated on this “choice” in a March 12 speech that appeared to signal a subtle shift in U.S. policy. Reiss explained that Washington’s “immediate objective” is for Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear program but added that the administration also seeks “the transformation of [North Korea] into a normal state.” Referencing Libya’s decision, Reiss argued that North Korea currently faces a “pivotal choice” where it can either pursue nuclear weapons or “transform its relations with the outside world.” Reiss suggested that North Korea’s economy and government could collapse if it chooses the former.

Reiss then described the actions North Korea may be expected to take if it wishes to become a “normal” state. These include adopting economic reforms and an efficient energy distribution policy. These demands supplement the list of non-nuclear issues that the Bush administration has linked to progress in bilateral relations.

The March 12 speech also contains what is probably the administration’s most specific articulation to date of the possible benefits that North Korea might receive if it complies with U.S. demands. These benefits include the end of economic sanctions, “removal from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, opportunities for economic and technical assistance” in such areas as agriculture and defense conversion, and “the normalization of relations.” However, Reiss’ speech did not specify which North Korean actions would be sufficient to realize these benefits and, apart from specific types of economic assistance, the speech added little to previous U.S. suggestions that it would normalize diplomatic relations with Pyongyang. Additionally, most of the benefits Reiss discussed were part of the Agreed Framework, but current U.S. demands well exceed North Korea’s obligations under that agreement.

Furthermore, recent revelations from knowledgeable U.S. government sources appear to contradict the premises of Reiss’ statement. For example, U.S. intelligence agencies have stated that North Korea shows no signs of imminent collapse. (See ACT, December 2003.) Additionally, some U.S. and British officials have pointed out that Libya’s disarmament came about after years of diplomacy, and a former Clinton administration official wrote in January that the United States offered to lift sanctions on Libya in exchange for disarming. (See ACT, March 2004.)

North Korea has also dismissed elements of this policy. In his Feb. 29 statement, the North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson described the linkage of normalizing relations with issues other than its nuclear program “absurd.” He also implied that a policy designed to force a collapse of the North Korean regime would actually give Pyongyang time to build its nuclear weapons arsenal.

 

 

 

 

 

Bush, ElBaradei, Discuss Proposals of Nuclear Nonproliferation Talks

Diplomats from more than 100 states are expected to convene for nearly two weeks beginning April 26 to assess what future measures might be taken to shore up the beleaguered...

Wade Boese


Diplomats from more than 100 states are expected to convene for nearly two weeks beginning April 26 to assess what future measures might be taken to shore up the beleaguered nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). In anticipation, U.S. President George W. Bush and Mohamed ElBaradei, the United Nations’ top nuclear expert, met in mid-March to discuss possible proposals.

Although the nuclear nonproliferation regime was recently buoyed by Libya’s December 2003 renunciation of its nuclear weapons program, the exposure of illicit Iranian nuclear activities and the disclosure of Abdul Qadeer Khan’s black market nuclear network highlighted the regime’s ills.

With the help of the Pakistani-based Khan network, NPT states-parties Libya and Iran pursued secret nuclear work for years without being caught. North Korea, which announced its withdrawal from the NPT last year, also conducted nuclear-related dealings with Khan. (See ACT, March 2004.)

These revelations have spurred calls for reform from Washington, other world capitals, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is responsible for making sure states do not illegally use their peaceful nuclear programs to build atomic bombs covertly.

At Washington’s invitation, ElBaradei, the IAEA director-general, visited the United States March 15-18 to discuss proposals for remedying the ailing nonproliferation regime. ElBaradei met with Bush, top officials from the CIA and the Departments of Energy and State, and members of Congress.

ElBaradei summed up his message to the president in a March 18 PBS interview as “[T]his is a different ball game and we have to revise the rules.”

Possible revisions discussed at the meetings included cleaning up and securing weapons-usable material worldwide, strengthening export controls, and denying uranium-enrichment and plutonium reprocessing technologies to states that do not have them. Currently, 15 states possess such capabilities, which are legal under the NPT but necessary for making nuclear weapons. ElBaradei does not want to see that total grow.

Although Bush and ElBaradei share many of the same concerns and believe that the threat of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons demands that the past rules of the nonproliferation regime be updated, they have yet to announce a set of agreed specific proposals or general strategy.

Both men have laid out initiatives separately: Bush in a Feb. 11 speech at the National Defense University and ElBaradei in a series of written pieces and interviews. (See ACT, March 2004 and November 2003.) Bush’s proposals have stressed getting individual states to do a better job of clamping down on their own nuclear materials and technologies, while ElBaradei has urged that states subject their nuclear programs to more stringent multinational controls. There is some overlap, such as ending the use of highly enriched uranium (HEU) in reactors around the globe.

The forthcoming NPT Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meeting, which is scheduled from April 26 to May 7 in New York, will likely see a full airing of proposals to amend the nonproliferation regime. Indonesian Ambassador Sudjadnan Parnohadiningrat will serve as the meeting’s chairman.

Treaty compliance and enforcement will be the central themes pushed at the PrepCom by the U.S. delegation, which will be headed by Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton.

In a March 12 interview with Arms Control Today, Assistant Secretary of State for Verification and Compliance Paula DeSutter said, “Verification and especially compliance are going to be important topics at the PrepCom.” The reason, she explained, is because the treaty “has been under assault by
North Korea, Iran, and other countries of concern.”

If past PrepComs are any guide to what can be expected, the United States will not be the only state reprimanding other NPT members for failing to live up to their commitments. In fact, the United States will face the same charges.

Many states have previously alleged that Washington, as well as Beijing, London, Paris, and Moscow, have not done enough to reduce the role and size of their nuclear arsenals. Article VI of the NPT calls upon all treaty members to work toward disarmament.

In 2000, these five capitals joined in agreeing to 13 steps to advance toward that goal, but they have made mixed progress in fulfilling their pledges. For example, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which bans nuclear testing, has not been brought into force, and negotiation of a treaty to end the production of HEU and plutonium for weapons purposes has not been initiated even though a five-year deadline was set for its completion. The Bush administration is now reviewing whether it supports such negotiations. (See ACT, March 2004.)

However, the administration contends it has a solid NPT record, citing its 2002 treaty with Russia to reduce their nuclear forces to fewer than 2,200 deployed strategic warheads each by the end of 2012. “I think we can point toward greater progress under this administration in moving toward the objectives of Article VI than can be pointed to under the entire history of the NPT,” Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control Stephen Rademaker asserted in a Jan. 21 interview with Arms Control Today.

DeSutter said, “I think it would be a very sad thing given the assault we’re seeing on the NPT by virtue of the noncompliance that we’ve got if countries focused on the United States instead of where the problem is.”

 

 

 

 

Putin Downsizes Russian Nuclear Agency

Russia’s formerly powerful Atomic Ministry stands to lose power in President Vladimir Putin’s second term, with uncertain consequences for the Kremlin’s stance on issues from policy toward Iran to...

Gabrielle Kohlmeier


Russia’s formerly powerful Atomic Ministry stands to lose power in President Vladimir Putin’s second term, with uncertain consequences for the Kremlin’s stance on issues from policy toward Iran to cooperation with the United States on efforts to dismantle Russia’s Cold War stockpile of nuclear weapons and materials.

Just before winning an easy re-election March 14, Putin announced plans to restructure the executive branch to give him more power over the federal bureaucracy. The number of cabinet positions was cut from 30 to 17. One casualty of the downsizing was the Russian Atomic Ministry (Minatom), which was replaced with the new lower-level Federal Atomic Energy Agency. The agency is still headed by former Atomic Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev, but it is now under the Ministry of Industry and Energy with a reduced mandate that covers only civilian-related issues. Military aspects will now be handled by the Defense Ministry.

Minatom was in charge of producing and storing civilian and defense nuclear materials, the development and testing of nuclear weapons, and the elimination of excess nuclear warheads and munitions. The Russian government has yet to designate which of these activities will fall to the new agency and which will fall to the Defense Ministry. Putin has said that the new government structure will not be finalized before April.

Rose Gottemoeller, a key liaison with Minatom during the Clinton administration, said that one challenge will be to re-establish a rapport between the corresponding ministers, as U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham’s counterpart will now be Russian Minister of Energy and Industry Viktor Khristenko instead of Rumyantsev. A more difficult question will be whether Russian government reorganization will require a shift in responsibility for existing programs across corresponding U.S. departments. Various Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) programs had been coordinated between the U.S. Department of Energy and Minatom, but now more of the programs could shift under Russian Defense Ministry control. Traditionally, however, the U.S. Department of Defense, not the Energy Department, deals with the Russian Defense Ministry. If responsibility for programs shifts across U.S. departments, nonproliferation budget allocations could also be affected. (See ACT, March 2004.)

Gottemoeller, who served as the Energy Department’s undersecretary for defense nuclear nonproliferation, also warned that the shift could harm decision-making and implementation of bilateral programs. In particular, the shift could complicate efforts by U.S. officials to gain what they believe is needed access to Russian nuclear facilities.

Paul Longsworth, National Nuclear Security Administration deputy administrator for defense nuclear nonproliferation, testified before a Senate committee March 10 that such efforts had recently been gaining ground with Minatom. “A working group has been established by Secretary Abraham and Minister Rumyantsev to address this issue [of access required by nonproliferation programs] and is testing new procedures for access to more sensitive Minatom facilties,” Longsworth said. However, such sensitive facilities might now move to the Defense Ministry, some sections of which, Gottemoeller said, have previously resisted granting access for U.S.-conducted CTR programs.

Despite these potential difficulties, U.S. officials assert that Russia’s stance on nonproliferation issues is moving in the right direction. In March 18 testimony before the House International Relations Committee, Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Jones stressed the progress in Russian-U.S. cooperation and the importance of continued engagement. Although various members of Congress voiced concerns over Russian-Iranian nuclear cooperation, Jones insisted that the “acknowledgement by the Russian government for the first time of their concern that Iran…wanted to develop a weapons program” marked significant advancement and that the Russian government “pledged that they will not ship nuclear fuel for Bushehr,” a civilian light-water nuclear plant that Russia has been building for Iran despite U.S. objections.

Speculation that Minatom’s demise might lead to the cancellation of the Bushehr project was dispelled with the March 22 announcement by the Federal Atomic Energy Agency that a trip to Iran to finalize the agreement to transfer nuclear fuel to Iran was not canceled, merely postponed. Rumyantsev asserted that the Bushehr project will proceed as planned as long as Tehran signs an agreement pledging to return all of the spent reactor fuel to Russia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

NATO, Russia Hold Joint Missile Defense Exercise

NATO and Russia used to plan missile attacks against each other, but now they are working together to protect against them. The former adversaries held their first exercise March 8-12 to test...

Wade Boese


NATO and Russia used to plan missile attacks against each other, but now they are working together to protect against them. The former adversaries held their first exercise March 8-12 to test jointly developed procedures to defend against strikes from short- and medium-range ballistic missiles.

The exercise, which took place in Colorado Springs, Colo., did not involve actual military systems or troops but was done using computer simulations. It focused on how NATO and Russian commanders would communicate with each other and direct their troops if they came under missile attack during a joint operation. Nearly 60 representatives from Russia and nine NATO members participated in the “command post exercise.”

A NATO official said March 23 that the exercise went “very well,” although some “refinements” to the prepared procedures would be needed. Another exercise is expected before the end of 2005.

NATO and Russian officials jointly worked out the test procedures through a working group on theater missile defenses established in June 2002. That group is also conducting a study on how various air and missile defense systems might operate together.

NATO-Russian cooperation on theater missile defense follows earlier U.S.-Russian efforts initiated in September 1994 by then-Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin. The two countries have conducted a series of joint theater missile defense exercises since 1996. (See ACT, March 2001.)

Western cooperation with Russia on missile defenses has not involved building actual weapons. Washington and Moscow undertook a 1992 project, the Russian-American Observation Satellite (RAMOS), to build two satellites for detecting ballistic missile launches worldwide, but the Pentagon cancelled it earlier this year. No alternative has been proposed.

 

 

 

 

Top Military Brass Insists Missile Defense Ready to be Deployed

Despite intense grilling from Senate Democrats and an acknowledgment that the system has yet to be fully tested, top Pentagon officials...

Wade Boese


Despite intense grilling from Senate Democrats and an acknowledgment that the system has yet to be fully tested, top Pentagon officials have not retreated from claims that a planned defense against ballistic missiles would be effective when it is deployed later this year.

“The analysis that has been done clearly shows that this will bring a capability, admittedly rudimentary and initial, but a capability that is of military utility,” Admiral James Ellis, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee March 11.

President George W. Bush declared Dec. 17, 2002, that the United States would begin operating the initial elements of a projected multilayered defense against ballistic missiles in 2004.

The president’s announcement came only six days after the proposed system had failed in its latest attempt to destroy a mock warhead in space. That failure dropped the system’s intercept record to five hits and three misses, and no similar tests have been conducted since.

Despite the system’s small number of intercept tests, the Pentagon is pushing ahead with plans to fulfill the president’s deployment order, which the Pentagon has since said would take place in fiscal year 2004, which ends Sept. 30.

Beginning as early as June, six ground-based missile interceptors are to be deployed at Fort Greely, Alaska, and another four interceptors at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. By the end of 2005, the ground-based force will include 20 interceptors. Another 10 ship-based missile interceptors designed to counter short- and medium-range ballistic missiles are also to be deployed by that time.

Lieutenant General Ronald Kadish, director of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the official in charge of developing U.S. missile defense systems, told the armed services panel that the interceptors will be available for emergency use and testing purposes.

Kadish cautioned senators against predicting the proposed ground-based system’s future performance capabilities solely by its intercept record. He explained that MDA relies more extensively on models and computer simulations to gauge how the system will function and said that these tools suggest the defenses will work properly.

One Pentagon witness offered a less certain perspective under pointed questioning from Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.). Thomas Christie, the Pentagon official charged with overseeing final testing of U.S. weapon systems, said it was not clear that the system would be able to destroy a real North Korean missile because of the immature nature of existing models and simulations. A North Korean attack is what the Pentagon routinely postulates as the near-term threat that the system will face, although Pyongyang has yet to flight-test a missile capable of reaching the continental United States.

Christie defended the Pentagon’s current deployment plan as necessary so that the system could be subjected to more challenging testing. He said that system components had to be put into the field so they could be tested in ways that more closely resemble real scenarios and involve real troops as operators, or what the Pentagon calls “operational testing.”

However, when Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) asked whether the Pentagon had any operational tests planned, Christie said, “As of right now, there are no plans for that.” Both Christie and Kadish said that some tests have had operational aspects even though no dedicated operational tests have taken place or are scheduled.

Responding to questions from Arms Control Today, MDA spokesperson Rick Lehner stated March 19 that no plans currently exist to launch missile interceptors out of Fort Greely for testing purposes, although he noted such a possibility “will be considered in the future.”

In addition, a February 2004 report by the General Accounting Office, which does investigations for Congress, noted that the Pentagon has no plans to involve the primary land-based radar supporting the Fort Greely missile interceptors in a flight test scenario for another three years. The study further reported that “none of the components of the initial defensive capability to be fielded in September 2004…has been flight-tested in its deployed configuration.”

Opportunities to flight-test the system’s components have been cut back. MDA recently halved the number of intercept attempts it would conduct this year before the September deadline down to one. Since the summer of 2000, MDA has dropped seven intercept tests.

Christie admitted that he would like to see more testing done to increase confidence in the system, but he said that nothing in past testing suggests the system is bound to fail. “I see no technological issues that have jumped up that says we’re not going to be able to do this or that,” Christie testified.

At the same time, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has expressed concerns about the program’s schedule this year in a February report. OMB stated the system’s “cost, schedule, and performance targets are very ambitious and potentially carry a high degree of development risk.”

The aggressive deployment plan reflects the Department of Defense’s new thinking that it is better to put some capability into the field and improve it incrementally rather than keeping a system in development until it is perfected. Some Pentagon officials have described the rationale more simply as “something is better than nothing.”

Sen. Mark Dayton (D-Minn.) characterized the Pentagon’s new approach as “gross negligence.” Commenting on the proposed deployment, Dayton said, “It would be unthinkable by corporate prudence, by fiscal sanity, by government oversight, and by public common sense to be undertaking this.”

Further irking some Democratic senators is that the Pentagon’s current fiscal year 2005 budget requests funding for interceptors beyond the first 20. The Pentagon is seeking $470 million to begin preparing for a third set of 10 missile interceptors to be deployed beginning in 2006 and $35 million for another 10 missile interceptors that might be stationed at an undetermined third site. In his prepared testimony, Kadish wrote the third site would be “outside” the United States.

Levin warned Pentagon officials that U.S. law prohibits building weapons systems that have not been operationally tested at a rate surpassing what is known as low-rate production. The officials claimed that current interceptor production rates do not exceed that threshold. A weapons system will generally be produced at a lesser pace than what is possible (low-rate production) until a final commitment is made to procure the system, at which time more items will be manufactured at a greater tempo known as full-rate production.

 

 

 

 

IAEA Praises Libya for Disarmament Efforts

Libya continues to move forward in fulfilling its December 2003 pledge to eliminate its nuclear and chemical weapons programs, as well as its long-range missiles...

Paul Kerr

Libya continues to move forward in fulfilling its December 2003 pledge to eliminate its nuclear and chemical weapons programs, as well as its long-range missiles. Perhaps in an effort to encourage other countries to follow Libya’s example, the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Board of Governors adopted a resolution March 10 finding that Libya’s past clandestine nuclear activities “constituted non-compliance” with its IAEA safeguards agreement, while also praising Libya’s subsequent cooperation and dismantlement efforts.

Although the board expressed “concern” about Tripoli’s secret nuclear efforts and called them a “breach of its obligation to comply with…its Safeguards Agreement,” it also commended the government’s “actions….to remedy the non-compliance.” IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei told the board March 8 that Libya has displayed “active cooperation” with the agency’s efforts to investigate its nuclear activities, allowing inspectors “unrestricted access to all requested locations” and providing the agency with relevant information.

Because of this cooperation, the resolution requested that ElBaradei report Libya’s noncompliance to the UN 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. There is no indication that the Security Council intends to do so in Libya’s case.

The resolution’s finding of noncompliance is based on a Feb. 20 agency report which provided new details on how, starting in the 1980s, Libya failed to report a variety of nuclear activities to the IAEA—a violation of its safeguards agreement. Such agreements allow the IAEA to monitor states-parties’ compliance with the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which Libya joined in 1975. The IAEA first stated in December that Libya violated its safeguards agreement but provided no specifics.

Libya fulfilled another of its December commitments by signing an additional protocol to its safeguards agreement March 10. Such protocols expand the IAEA’s authority to investigate suspected clandestine nuclear activities. Libya had previously agreed to act as if the protocol were in force until it is ratified.

The IAEA is continuing to verify Libya’s claims and investigate its procurement network. ElBaradei is to issue a report on the agency’s progress in time for the board’s next meeting in June.

Disarmament Efforts Continue

International organizations, as well as U.S. and British weapons experts, have continued to assist Libya in accounting for and dismantling its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs. Assistant Secretary of State Paula DeSutter told the House International Relations Committee March 10 that London and Washington, along with the IAEA, “arranged the removal” of fresh highly enriched uranium (HEU) from the center housing Libya’s Soviet-supplied, 10-megawatt Tajoura Research Reactor. The approximately 13 kg of 80 percent enriched fuel, which, according to an IAEA press release, “can…be processed and used to make a nuclear weapon,” was shipped to Russia March 8. Moscow originally supplied the fuel and “intends to blend down the HEU” into a form unsuitable for weapons use, according to an agency press release.

DeSutter added that, earlier in the month, the United States “removed” additional material related to Libya’s nuclear and missile programs. This material included centrifuge components, “all of Libya’s longest-range missiles,” and missile launchers. The Department of State said in January that it had removed centrifuge components, uranium hexafluoride, ballistic missile guidance systems, and nuclear weapons designs from Libya.

DeSutter also testified that the United States is developing programs “to redirect Libyan WMD and missile scientists, engineers, and technicians to productive civilian pursuits.” A State Department official told Arms Control Today March 22 that the United Kingdom “has the lead” on this effort, which is in the process of gathering information on the relevant Libyan personnel.

At the same time, international efforts to dismantle Libya’s chemical weapons program are progressing. On March 19, inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)—the organization that verifies compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention—verified Tripoli’s March 5 initial chemical weapons declaration. According to the OPCW, Libya declared “approximately 23 metric tonnes of mustard gas, 1,300 metric tonnes of precursor chemicals, …[an] inactivated chemical weapons production facility, …[and] two chemical weapons storage facilities.”

Between Feb. 27 and March 3, the OPCW also “verified… the complete destruction” of more than 3,500 unfilled bombs “designed to disperse chemical warfare agent,” according to organization press releases. The OPCW stated March 22 that it intends to verify Libya’s destruction of the remaining chemical agents.

The December Deal


A Libyan official has provided more details about Tripoli’s decision to come clean about its weapons activities. Libyan President Moammar Gaddafi’s son, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, told al-Hayat March 10 that Libya made its decision for “political, economic, cultural and military gains” and because it was “on a dangerous path…with the Western countries.” He also implied that Libya had been developing WMD for use in the event of a conflict with Israel, but progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process made such planning unnecessary.

Libya’s December decision resulted from a series of discussions begun after Libya approached the United Kingdom in March 2003 to resolve concerns that it was pursuing WMD. Bush administration officials have claimed credit for Libya’s cooperation, saying that it stemmed from two of their actions: last year’s U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and the Proliferation Security Initiative, under which German and Italian authorities interdicted an October shipment of centrifuge components from the United Arab Emirates to Libya. DeSutter testified that Libya allowed U.S. and British experts “unprecedented access to some of their most secret WMD sites” after the October interdiction.

However, a former senior State Department official who led Clinton administration efforts in the Middle East, has asserted that Libya had long sought to renounce its unconventional weapons programs. In a March 10 Financial Times article, former Assistant Secretary of State Martin Indyk wrote that Libya offered to give up its chemical weapons program during secret talks in 1999. The Clinton administration refused this offer, he said, because it placed a higher priority on persuading Tripoli to fulfill its remaining obligations under UN Security Council resolutions imposed in response to Libya’s bombings of two passenger airlines during the 1980s.

Other officials have also emphasized the role of prior diplomatic efforts in motivating Libya’s decision. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw pointed out in December that London had been engaged in “diplomacy…going back for six or seven years” with Tripoli. In addition, Flynt Leverett, who previously helped oversee the Bush administration’s Middle East policy at the National Security Council, wrote in January that, during two years of diplomatic discussions beginning in 2001, the United States offered to lift U.S. sanctions on Libya in exchange for “a verifiable dismantling of Libya’s weapons projects.”

Whatever the reason for Tripoli’s decision, U.S. officials seem optimistic that the two countries’ bilateral relationship will improve. Assistant Secretary of State William Burns told the House International Relations Committee March 10 that “U.S.-Libyan relations are on a path of gradual, step-by-step normalization,” citing Libya’s progress in following through on its December commitments to dismantle its WMD programs and renounce support for terrorism. In order for this trend to continue, Burns added, Libya must continue this progress and make improvements in areas such as human rights. Burns visited Libya March 23 to discuss further efforts to normalize bilateral relations.

The United States currently does not have diplomatic relations with Libya and still maintains a number of economic sanctions imposed in response to Libya’s past WMD activities and support for terrorism. However, several steps have already been taken to improve relations. For example, the United States announced in February that it was removing all travel restrictions to Libya and allowing “U.S. companies with pre-sanctions holdings…to negotiate the terms of their re-entry into operations” there. Additionally, the United States has sent a diplomat to staff an interests section in the Belgian Embassy in Tripoli, the first official U.S. representation in more than two decades.

Other steps may be taken soon. Another State Department official interviewed March 22 said that “there is talk” about asking Congress to strike Libya from the 1996 Iran-Libya Sanctions Act. Under that law, the United States can punish foreign companies for making certain investments in Libya, or providing goods or services that contribute to Libya’s ability to acquire chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons.

IAEA on Libya

A Feb. 20 report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) spelled out Libya's failures to comply with its safeguards agreement with the agency.

Perhaps the most important activities Libya failed to declare are related to its gas centrifuge-based uranium-enrichment program. Tripoli began the program in the early 1980s and revived it in 1995. According to the IAEA, Libya failed to report that it imported uranium hexafluoride, along with other nuclear material, as recently as 2001. When fed into centrifuges, uranium hexafluoride can be used to produce either low-enriched uranium (LEU) for use as fuel in civilian nuclear reactors or highly enriched uranium (HEU), which can be used in nuclear weapons. U.S. officials first disclosed the program in December, stating that Libya had centrifuge components as well as complete centrifuges but no operating enrichment facility. Libya acquired its centrifuge components from foreign suppliers, including the network run by Pakistani official Abdul Qadeer Khan. (See ACT, March 2004).

Additionally, the agency said that Libya did not report design information for a nine-centrifuge pilot facility. The IAEA is in the process of verifying Libya's claim that it did not introduce any nuclear material into the facility.

The report further noted that Libya failed to disclose the design information for a facility which it used to conduct clandestine uranium-conversion experiments. Natural uranium must be converted into uranium hexafluoride gas before it can be enriched. Libya acknowledges that it produced some uranium compounds, but not uranium hexafluoride.

The Feb. 20 report also disclosed for the first time that, between 1984 and 1990, Libya secretly irradiated small amounts of uranium in its Soviet-supplied 10-megawatt Tajura Research Reactor and separated plutonium from some of the resulting product. The reactor was under IAEA safeguards. Separating plutonium from spent nuclear reactor fuel is another method for producing fissile material for nuclear weapons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Controversy Persists Over Failure to Find Iraqi WMD

More than one year after U.S.-led forces invaded Iraq with the announced intention to rid that country of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the failure to...

Paul Kerr

More than one year after U.S.-led forces invaded Iraq with the announced intention to rid that country of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the failure to find such nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons continues to stir controversy in the United States and overseas.

The debate was fueled in March by the publication of “Disarming Iraq,” Hans Blix’s insider account which details the back-room diplomacy leading up to the onset of the war. Blix, the former executive chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), charged that U.S. officials ignored UN weapons inspectors’ pre-invasion reports that there was no evidence that Iraq possessed WMD or had reconstituted its weapons programs.

Despite the inspectors’ reports, Bush administration officials “wanted to come to the conclusion that there were weapons” in Iraq, Blix told NBC’s Today show March 15. Blix’s depiction of the U.S. attitude toward Iraq’s unaccounted-for weapons is consistent with U.S. officials’ professed skepticism about the efficacy of UN weapons inspections, as well as with previous statements from administration officials indicating that the Sept.11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States lowered their tolerance for the perceived risk of Iraqi WMD acquisition. (See ACT, January/February 2004 and April 2003.)

David Kay, former top adviser to the U.S.-led search effort, and Blix have argued that Iraq destroyed its weapons stockpiles during the 1990s—a claim bolstered by a Feb. 27 UNMOVIC report indicating that almost no weapons of mass destruction were discovered in Iraq after 1994.

Blix pointed out in a March 15 FOX News interview that the uncertainty about Iraq’s suspected WMD stemmed from its failure to account for those weapons destroyed outside the presence of UN inspectors. Baghdad had still not accounted for these weapons as of the invasion. Rather than admitting uncertainty, however, U.S. and British officials simply counted any unaccounted-for weapons or related materials as weapons that actually existed. (See ACT, March 2004.)

In a March 5 interview with Arms Control Today, Kay attributed this belief to Iraq’s past noncompliance and deception of weapons inspectors, which had encouraged U.S. and British officials to assume the worst about its behavior. Nevertheless, Kay said that Saddam Hussein’s regime likely did not offer proof of the weapons’ destruction for two reasons. The first is that some were destroyed during the “chaos” following the 1991 Persian Gulf War and its war with Iran during the 1980s. The second is that Iraqi officials were “embarrassed to admit” to some of the methods used to destroy the weapons. For example, Iraq disposed of “biological agents in ways that were…dangerous to the health of people in Baghdad” he said.

Beyond an ingrained mindset, Blix and Kay have blamed poor coalition intelligence for their inaccurate assessments of Iraq’s arsenal of unconventional weapons. Blix said in a March 16 CNN interview that his inspectors received useful coalition intelligence on only three occasions, arguing that U.S. and British reliance on defectors as intelligence sources likely accounted for the divergence between the U.S. and UN assessments of Iraq’s weapons activities. The UN inspectors did not use defectors as sources, he added.

CIA director George Tenet acknowledged in February that some U.S. intelligence came from defectors who were sometimes unreliable. Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), ranking member on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, also stated in a March 5 speech that these human sources “were apparently less reliable than the [intelligence community] thought” and suggested that “other potential intelligence sources [indicating that Iraq had no WMD programs] may have been dismissed.”

Intelligence Controversy

As investigations into U.S. intelligence on Iraq continue, increased attention has been focused on the role of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) for Policy in disseminating raw intelligence about Iraqi WMD to senior administration officials. Former OSD staff member Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Karen Kwiatkowski wrote in a March 10 article for Salon magazine that personnel in the office had a close relationship with Iraqi defectors and produced “talking points” for briefing more senior administration officials that included information at variance with U.S. intelligence on Iraq’s suspected weapons programs.

Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith said in a recently-released June 2003 letter to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner (R-Va.) that he had tasked some OSD staff with reviewing existing intelligence concerning terrorist networks. Feith stated in a press briefing that same month that these staff members found “linkages between Iraq and al Qaeda” and also “looked at” WMD. Additionally, Feith’s letter revealed that OSD personnel briefed staff from the National Security Council and Office of the Vice President on their findings regarding Iraq’s suspected links to terrorists. Tenet told the Senate Armed Services Committee March 9 that he was unaware such a briefing had taken place.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence announced in February that they would look into Feith’s efforts in their ongoing investigation into the intelligence controversy.

The OSD briefing is not the only time that administration officials have appeared to ignore the CIA’s judgments. For instance, Tenet told the committee that the CIA did not approve a Jan. 20, 2003, report to Congress signed by President George W. Bush which referenced Iraq’s “attempts to acquire uranium.” Although Tenet had succeeded in stopping several senior administration officials’ attempts to insert this reference into other presidential speeches, Bush still made the charge during his 2003 State of the Union address. Subsequent revelations have disproved this claim. (See ACT, September 2003.)

Reports that administration officials pressured intelligence analysts to alter their conclusions about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction have also been controversial. In her March speech, Harman stated that “some analysts” who worked on the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on the Iraq threat told her that they believed that the “decision to go to war had already been made [in the fall of 2002], and that their mindset was to advise military commanders” on the dangers of Iraqi battlefield WMD. Harman added that analysts’ belief that they “had to come down on one side or the other” on the question of Iraqi weapons generated “categorical statements” about Iraq’s weapons capabilities in the NIE. Cheney has acknowledged questioning intelligence analysts frequently but denies pressuring them.

 

 

 

 

 

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