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I salute the Arms Control Association … for its keen vision of the goals ahead and for its many efforts to identify and to promote practical measures that are so vitally needed to achieve them. -

– Amb. Nobuyasu Abe
Former UN Undersecretary General for Disarmament Affairs
January 28, 2004
Press Releases

U.S. Nonproliferation Resolution Advances at UN

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.”

 

 

 

 

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...

U.S. Creates Advisory Board for Biosecurity

Kerry Boyd-Anderson


Heeding the advice of the National Academy of Sciences, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has created a board to advise federal departments or agencies on biological research that could pose a threat to national security. The new National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB), announced by HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson March 4, will advise the government on developing guidelines for overseeing “dual-use” research, which has potential for both civilian and military applications.

HHS views the board’s creation as the first step in a broader effort to enhance biosecurity—measures designed to minimize the chance that biological research for civilian purposes could be also used to create biological weapons. As the development of biological sciences have rapidly advanced, concern has increased about the possibility that research intended to improve life might instead be used for its destruction. HHS created the board partly in response to an October 2003 report by the National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council.

One of the NSABB’s primary tasks is to provide the government with advice on ways to identify dual-use research and to help develop guidelines for judging the risks and benefits of such research. The board, which will include up to 25 voting members from the scientific and security communities, will also work with scientific journal editors to develop guidelines to prevent the publication of research that is too dangerous for public dissemination while maintaining the free flow of ideas among the scientific and security communities. Other tasks include advising on the development of guidelines for programs to educate scientists on biosecurity issues, providing assistance to develop a code of conduct for scientists, and working to advance biosecurity measures and education internationally. In addition, the board may review specific proposed experiments but has no authority to deny or approve them. The National Institutes of Health will manage the NSABB.

There are important limits on the NSABB’s mandate, most importantly that it is confined to an advisory role. Moreover, the board will make suggestions only to government institutions or scientists receiving federal funding, not to independent commercial laboratories. Classified government research also falls outside the board’s scope. In addition, the board lacks any enforcement capability; it cannot enforce any of its recommendations or approve or deny experiment proposals.

In deciding to create the NSABB, officials chose the middle-of-the-road option in the debate over how best to strengthen biosecurity without limiting the free exchange of scientific ideas. Some scientists oppose government oversight, especially any possibility of restrictions on scientific publications. Others believe the board will help improve biosecurity without hampering scientists with bureaucratic red tape. At best, say some biosecurity advocates, the board is a first step. At worst, they say, it provides nothing more than a false sense of security.

 

 

 

 

Heeding the advice of the National Academy of Sciences, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has created a board to advise federal departments or agencies on biological research...

U.S. Points to Libya as Disarmament Model: An interview with Assistant Secretary of State Paula DeSutter

Wade Boese

Since December, Paula DeSutter, a top Department of State official, has been working long hours to ensure that Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi fulfills his pledge to abandon irrefutably all weapons of mass destruction (WMD) ambitions and programs. Based on that experience, she has a simple message for the leaders in Iran and North Korea: follow Gaddafi’s lead if you want better relations with the United States.

In a March 12 interview with Arms Control Today, DeSutter, assistant secretary of state for verification and compliance, described as “breathtaking” Libya’s Dec. 19 vow to end its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and subsequent steps to make good on that pledge. A former four-year professional staff member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, DeSutter said the United States wants “Libya to be a model for other countries” and that North Korea and Iran stand to reap greater benefits and security from ending their weapons programs than continuing them.

The United States has long charged North Korea and Iran with covertly pursuing nuclear weapons. North Korea, which kicked out international arms inspectors in December 2002, has admitted as much, while Iran staunchly denies the allegations despite a growing list of illegal nuclear activities exposed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The IAEA is responsible for deterring and detecting attempts by states to use their peaceful nuclear programs as a cover to build atomic arms illicitly.

The Bush administration has made clear that neither Iran nor North Korea can hope for improved relations with the United States unless each unambiguously abandons their nuclear weapons programs, or make what DeSutter deems a “strategic commitment.”

According to DeSutter, Libya made such a strategic commitment. It invited U.S., British, and international inspectors into the country; gave inspectors full access to all the facilities they wanted to see; and turned over weapons and related equipment for removal and destruction. In sum, states genuinely intent on disarming “volunteer information,” DeSutter stated.

For example, DeSutter said that Libyan officials on one occasion voluntarily took inspectors to a turkey farm where some chemical munitions were secretly stored. If they had not done so, she asserted, “we almost certainly would not have been able to identify [the farm as an arms storage area] independently.”

Since making its decision to disarm, Libya has destroyed 3,200 unfilled chemical bombs and allowed the United States to remove more than 1,000 tons of WMD-related equipment, including centrifuge components, and five Scud-C ballistic missiles. Tripoli has also agreed to stop using highly enriched uranium, which can be used to make nuclear weapons, to fuel its reactor at Tajoura.

If Iran and North Korea chose to copy Libya, DeSutter gushed about the possibilities. “I can imagine tremendous movement in terms of how close the United States would want to be to Iran,” DeSutter said. She added, “I can see an awful lot of national needs that [North Korea] has that would be best served by making a strategic commitment to give up its weapons of mass destruction.”

Yet, the Bush administration, which also condemns the two states for their poor human rights records and undemocratic systems, has never specified what kind of benefits the regimes could derive from disarming.

DeSutter implied both states would be safer if they gave up their suspected weapons programs because there would be less reason for other states to be concerned about them militarily. “It’s still a little hard for me to say this out loud, but Gaddafi got it right when he said that their WMD programs made them less secure not more secure,” she stated.

North Korean public statements suggest Pyongyang believes the opposite. They extol the North Korean nuclear weapons program as the only viable protection against attacks by more powerful states, in particular the United States.

Absent a strategic commitment to disarm, DeSutter indicated the United States would have little confidence in verification measures to provide assurances that Iran or North Korea had truly shelved their weapons programs because of their past records of cheating on agreements.

The presence of international arms inspectors would do little to ease her concerns. “No number of inspectors is an adequate substitute for a firm commitment on the part of the government to yield its weapons programs,” DeSutter declared.

Inspections can be of limited utility if items with both civilian and military uses are being scrutinized, DeSutter explained. She said, “As things get smaller, as things become more dual-use, then the verification challenge is going to grow.”

Still, DeSutter said she favors making greater use of the right of states-parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) to conduct challenge inspections to settle suspicions on whether fellow members are truly complying with that treaty. The CWC has been in force since April 1997, and there have been charges of cheating, but no challenge inspections have yet been carried out. DeSutter observed, “Because [the challenge inspection right] has not been used in the past, it becomes increasingly difficult to use it.”

Although very keen about shedding more light on the weapons programs of states hostile to the United States, DeSutter showed little interest in the same for governments friendly to Washington, such as Pakistan, which has nuclear arms and was recently exposed as the home base for an extensive proliferation network run by Abdul Qadeer Khan, father of the Pakistani nuclear bomb. (See ACT, March 2004.) Claiming Khan acted in his own interests and worked outside of Pakistan, DeSutter said, “Access to the Pakistani program wouldn’t have necessarily given us insight into what was being produced in Malaysia.”

For a complete transcript of this interview please click here

 

 

 

 

Since December, Paula DeSutter, a top Department of State official, has been working long hours to ensure that Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi fulfills his pledge to abandon irrefutably all...

Putin Downsizes Russian Nuclear Agency

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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...

NATO, Russia Hold Joint Missile Defense Exercise

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.

 

 

 

 

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...

North Korea Talks Stymied

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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...

Despite Khan, Military Ties With Pakistan to Grow

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.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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...

IAEA Praises Libya for Disarmament Efforts

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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...

Israel, India Sign Major Arms Deal

Wade Boese


With tacit U.S. blessing, Israel has finalized a $1.1 billion sale of three advanced airborne early-warning aircraft to India. Washington had previously urged the two countries to postpone the deal due to concerns that it might incite Pakistan.

Under the contract inked March 5, Israel will install its Phalcon system on three Russian-supplied aircraft for future delivery to India. The Phalcon is an advanced communications, electronic intelligence, and radar system able to provide simultaneous long-range tracking of multiple air and surface targets. The first of the three aircraft will be transferred to India within three to four years.

Israel has been marketing the Phalcon system overseas for several years but has met stiff U.S. resistance. In July 2000, Israel cancelled the proposed sale of four Phalcon systems to China under extreme pressure from Washington, which worried that the system might tilt the military edge in the Taiwan Strait away from Taipei and too much in Beijing’s favor. The United States further called upon Israel to delay a possible deal with India but dropped its objections in 2002 as relations improved between India and Pakistan.

Pakistani government officials expressed their displeasure with the new deal but did so in more reserved tones than usual. One Pakistani diplomatic source told Arms Control Today March 22 that the sale would exacerbate the already asymmetrical conventional-force balance between India and Pakistan and would compel Islamabad to look at ways to lessen the deal’s impact. It is too early to know what those measures might be, the source said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With tacit U.S. blessing, Israel has finalized a $1.1 billion sale of three advanced airborne early-warning aircraft to India. Washington had previously urged the two countries to postpone the deal due to concerns that it might incite Pakistan.

GAO Says Feds Lax in Countering Cruise Missile, UAV Threats

Wade Boese


A congressional watchdog has charged key federal agencies with complacency in addressing the growing danger presented by the global spread of cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), provoking a round of dissent from the Departments of Commerce, Defense, and State.

At a March 9 congressional hearing, representatives of the General Accounting Office (GAO), the Congressional Research Service, the State and Commerce Departments, and the Pentagon offered conflicting views on the adequacy of measures to prevent cruise missiles and UAVs from ending up in the hands of terrorists or hostile states. The hearing before a House Committee on Government Reform subcommittee was convened to discuss a January 2004 GAO report that found U.S. and international trade controls on such weapon systems inadequate.

GAO, which conducts investigations for Congress, estimated that at least 70 states currently possess cruise missiles and some 40 states own UAVs. Most of the world’s roughly 75,000 cruise missiles are anti-ship models with short ranges and small payload capabilities. However, GAO reported that at least a dozen states, including six defined as “countries of concern,” are working on land-attack cruise missiles, which could be used to strike U.S. territory from forward launching areas, such as from the deck of a ship.

Cruise missiles and UAVs pose a different type of challenge for defenses than ballistic missiles, which are only powered during the first few minutes after launch as they ascend to high altitudes and then rely on gravity to reach their target. Cruise missiles and UAVs are powered throughout their entire flight and can fly and maneuver at low altitudes, making them hard to track and shoot down. The flight characteristics of cruise missiles and UAVs are also very similar to planes, making it hard for battlefield radars and defenses to determine whether an incoming object is an enemy projectile or a friendly aircraft.

The Patriot missile defense system’s record in Iraq last year underscored the difficulty that militaries face in trying to defend against cruise missiles. Although Patriot systems destroyed nine Iraqi missiles, no Iraqi cruise missiles were successfully intercepted. Moreover, Patriot systems mistakenly blew up two friendly fighter aircraft and targeted a third. A September 2003 Army report assessing the Patriot’s record stated, “[T]he ability of these older cruise missiles to penetrate friendly airspace and reach their targets should serve as a warning to joint and Army leaders that the emerging cruise missile threat must be addressed.”

The ability of cruise missiles and UAVs to fly at specific altitudes and speeds makes them suitable for dispersing chemical or biological weapons. Because of their relatively smaller size, cruise missiles and UAVs are not ideal for carrying nuclear warheads. The United States and Russia are the only two states known to have nuclear cruise missiles. China is also believed to be developing a nuclear-capable cruise missile.

In its report, GAO warned that federal agencies are not conducting enough checks on U.S. exports of cruise missiles, UAVs, and related technologies to make sure that they are not falling into the wrong hands. Reviewing exports between fiscal years 1998 and 2002, GAO reported that the State Department followed up on only four of 786 licenses that it issued for cruise missile and UAV technologies and the Pentagon did not do a single check on more than 500 cruise missiles shipped to other states. The Commerce Department had a similar record, conducting end-use visits for only 1 percent of the nearly 2,500 missile-related export licenses it approved.

Although officials from the three departments all agreed with a GAO recommendation that more post-export checks be carried out, they defended past practices at the March 9 hearing. They observed that GAO did not report any evidence indicating that previous U.S. exports had contributed to or abetted proliferation.

Yet, Joseph Christoff, the director of GAO’s international affairs and trade office that conducted the study, stated that response misses the point. “While the departments contend that there is no evidence of wrongdoing, their conclusion is based on the small [number of] (33) post-shipment verifications they conducted over a four-year period,” Christoff wrote in a March 13 response to questions from Arms Control Today.

General Tome Walters Jr., who directs the Pentagon agency overseeing arms sales to foreign governments, claimed the United States only sells weapons to friends and that U.S. exports are not the problem. Walters, who said his agency has not exported any UAVs, asserted that the Pentagon has exported or agreed to export almost 200 fewer cruise missiles during the reviewed period than GAO claimed. Past cruise missile deliveries went to the United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark, and Taiwan, according to Walters. He said there are pending deliveries to Oman, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Among others, GAO identified Egypt, Kuwait, and Israel as additional U.S. cruise missile recipients.

The managing director of the State Department’s office of defense trade controls, Robert Maggi, faulted the GAO review for not taking into account other processes, such as pre-license checks, to vet potential buyers. However, GAO pointed out that the State Department only carried out six such inquiries for its 786 approved cruise missile- and UAV-related licenses.

GAO further charged in its report that it discovered a loophole in U.S. export controls that could enable proliferators to acquire cruise missile and UAV technologies surreptitiously. The U.S. government does not explicitly control all technologies related to cruise missiles and UAVs because they are so widely available and have legitimate commercial uses. However, a “catch-all” requires that even items not appearing on export control lists be restricted if destined for specific states or programs. The U.S. catch-all currently applies to requests from 20 states and 12 foreign missile projects.

Citing the fact that a New Zealand man was able to purchase uncontrolled items to build a cruise missile, GAO concluded that the catch-all is too narrow.

Matthew Borman, the deputy assistant secretary for export administration at the Commerce Department, said the catch-all is currently under review but questioned GAO’s New Zealand example. “Our engineers…are skeptical that a functioning cruise missile could be constructed out of uncontrolled parts and components,” Borman stated.

In a written response to the GAO report, the Commerce Department, which is responsible for promoting American business exports, also responded, “Any modifications to the catch-all policy should be carefully considered in order to ensure that the controls protect U.S. national security, but avoid unnecessary burdens on U.S. trade.”

GAO did not confine its criticisms to just U.S. export controls. It also looked at cruise missile and UAV control efforts by the 33-member Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and the 33-member Wassenaar Arrangement—both of which the United States belongs to. MTCR calls on its members to restrict exports of missiles and UAVs capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction, while the Wassenaar Arrangement specifies missile, aerospace, and dual-use items that its members are expected to control. Both MTCR and Wassenaar are voluntary and operate by consensus.

Although the two regimes have increased attention and controls on cruise missile and UAV sales over the past few years, GAO said their effectiveness is limited by the fact that not all exporters of these types of arms are regime members. For instance, China and Israel do not currently belong to either regime, although China is exploring MTCR membership and Israel has committed itself to abide by that regime’s guidelines. Iran, India, and Taiwan are also nonmember states that manufacture cruise missiles and may soon be looking to export them.

Moreover, GAO pointed out that not even members always agree on what constitutes an appropriate deal. France is a member of both regimes, but it went ahead with a sale of its Black Shaheen cruise missile to the UAE despite U.S. protests. Similarly, Russian assistance to India in developing the Brahmos cruise missile has raised concerns among some of Moscow’s fellow MTCR members.

GAO also knocked the regimes for not facilitating timely and efficient exchanges of information between members on their potential deals and export denials. Delays in sharing such information could prevent a member from raising concerns it may have about another’s transactions.

 

 

 

 

A congressional watchdog has charged key federal agencies with complacency in addressing the growing danger presented by the global spread of cruise missiles and...

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