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

Controversy Persists Over Failure to Find Iraqi WMD

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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...

Bush, ElBaradei, Discuss Proposals of Nuclear Nonproliferation Talks

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.”

 

 

 

 

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...

IAEA Condemns Iran—Again

Paul Kerr

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Board of Governors has again adopted a resolution criticizing Iran for failing to cooperate fully with the agency’s investigation into its suspected nuclear weapons program, raising the stakes in Tehran’s dealings with the United Nations’ nuclear arm and, indirectly, the United States. The resolution calls on Iran to intensify its cooperation with the agency but defers possible action against Tehran until the next board meeting in June.

Although the resolution, adopted March 13, acknowledges that Iran has recently been “actively cooperating” with the IAEA, it also notes that “Iran’s cooperation so far has fallen short of what is required [and] calls on Iran to continue and intensify its cooperation.” A February report from IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei detailed Tehran’s failure to disclose several nuclear activities, despite past promises to comply with IAEA resolutions requiring such disclosure. (See ACT, March 2004.)

The board reserved its harshest language for Iran’s failure to previously disclose a research and development program for an advanced type of gas centrifuge, known as the “P-2.” The IAEA learned about that program this winter, even though Iran had claimed in October to have given a complete accounting of its gas centrifuge-based uranium-enrichment program. Gas centrifuges are used to produce low-enriched uranium (LEU) for use in nuclear reactors, but they may also produce highly enriched uranium (HEU) for use as the explosive material in a nuclear weapon. Iran had previously disclosed a large enrichment program which uses a simpler type of centrifuge, the “P-1.”

ElBaradei told the board March 8 that this failing was inconsistent with Iran’s October pledge to provide the IAEA with all information about its nuclear programs, terming it “a setback to Iran’s stated policy of transparency.” As part of that agreement, Iran also agreed to sign an additional protocol to its IAEA safeguards agreement and suspend its uranium-enrichment program. (See ACT, November 2003.) Iran signed the protocol in December 2003 and has pledged to act as if the agreement were in force until it is ratified.

IAEA safeguards agreements are to ensure that states-parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) do not divert civilian nuclear activities to military purposes. Iran maintains that its program is solely for peaceful purposes. Additional protocols expand the IAEA’s authority to detect clandestine nuclear programs and increase the number of nuclear-related activities that member states must declare to the agency. The March resolution “urges” Tehran’s “prompt ratification” of the protocol.

Iran’s director-general for international political affairs, Amir Zamaninia, told the board March 13 that Iran omitted its advanced centrifuge program from its October report to the IAEA because the relevant “technical” personnel thought its pledge only required Tehran to report information about less-advanced centrifuges they had tested using nuclear material. Iran intended to report its more advanced program in accordance with its obligations under the additional protocol, he said.

The resolution also “calls on Iran to be pro-active in taking all necessary steps...to resolve all outstanding issues” outlined in ElBaradei’s February report. In addition to the advanced centrifuge program, these include Tehran’s experiments with polonium, a radioactive isotope that can be used to trigger a chain reaction in a nuclear weapon; the “nature and scope” of its laser-based uranium-enrichment program; and “LEU and HEU contamination” at two facilities associated with Iran’s centrifuge program.

Iran’s hesitant cooperation with the IAEA has caused concern since ElBaradei first visited Iran’s main uranium-enrichment facility in February 2003. For months, Iran lagged in providing information about its nuclear activities to the agency and in granting inspectors full access to facilities.

The resolution also “calls on” Tehran to maintain and expand its October commitment to suspend its uranium-enrichment activities. According to ElBaradei’s February report, Iran had suspended most of its enrichment-related activities but continued to assemble centrifuges and manufacture related components. Iran agreed in February to stop both of these activities.

Controversy

The days leading up to the resolution’s adoption were contentious, the final version being the product of a compromise between the United States and other board members. For example, a U.S. Department of State official told Arms Control Today March 18 that Washington wanted the resolution to condemn Iran’s actions in stronger terms and include the fact, discussed in ElBaradei’s February report, that “military industrial organizations” own “most” of the workshops associated with Iran’s centrifuge programs. Washington, however, is “satisfied” with the resolution, the official said.

In contrast to its lobbying efforts prior to the last IAEA resolution concerning Iran, the United States did not push for the board to find Iran in noncompliance with its safeguards agreement. Such a finding would have required the board to refer the matter to the UN Security Council. The State Department official said, however, that the board should do so “at the appropriate time.” The official did not specify what actions Washington hoped the Security Council might take, but argued that they could include issuing a Security Council President’s statement or imposing economic sanctions.

The last resolution, adopted in November, employed language intended to avoid the requirement to send the matter to the Security Council, while conveying that Iran’s secret nuclear activities had violated its safeguards agreement. (See ACT, December 2003.)

The board referred North Korea to the Security Council last year in response to its refusal to cooperate with the agency, but the council has yet to take any action.

For its part, the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported March 17 that Iranian President Mohammad Khatami told reporters that Iran is “dissatisfied” with the resolution but will continue to cooperate with the IAEA. Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA had suggested March 10 that Iran might review its cooperation with the agency if Tehran did not approve of the resolution, according to IRNA.

The ambassador caused additional friction March 12 when he announced Iran was postponing an upcoming IAEA inspection. Although the ambassador explained that the delay was necessary because of the approaching Iranian New Year, Khatami indicated March 17 that its decision was a reaction against the resolution. ElBaradei announced March 15 that Tehran would allow the inspectors to visit March 27.

The State Department official said that even this two-week delay was “regrettable” because Tehran could use the time to cover up evidence of nuclear activities. The official added that Washington believes Tehran is continuing to conceal part of a secret nuclear weapons program and observed that Tehran only changed its stance on the recent inspections “after some other countries intervened.” The United States has repeatedly changed Iran with having a nuclear weapons program.

Iran also raised eyebrows when Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi stated that Iran will “definitely resume [uranium] enrichment when our relations with the agency become normal,” IRNA reported March 10. Iran has repeatedly emphasized the temporary nature of its suspension agreement, but Kharrazi’s statement was one of the strongest to date on the matter. Iran is legally allowed to enrich uranium under the NPT, but the United States wants a permanent halt to these activities because of concerns that Iran will be able to use its facilities to produce fissile material covertly.

Next Steps

The resolution requests ElBaradei to issue a report on Iran’s activities “before the end of May” and states that it will consider the agency’s “progress in verifying Iran’s declarations,” as well as a response to Iran’s “omissions.” The IAEA is also continuing to investigate Iran’s foreign suppliers, which includes a network headed by Pakistani nuclear official Abdul Qadeer Khan. (See ACT, March 2004.)

The State Department official said that the United States will continue to allow the IAEA to take the lead on resolving concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. In a March 18 interview on PBS’s Newshour with Jim Lehrer, ElBaradei said that he had suggested to U.S. officials during a March visit to the White House that they begin a direct “dialogue” with Tehran. The State Department official said Washington rejects this approach because the appropriate steps for Tehran to take are outlined in the IAEA resolutions and bilateral dialogue would undermine the IAEA process.

 

 

 

 

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Board of Governors has again adopted a resolution criticizing Iran for failing to cooperate fully with the agency’s investigation into its...

Top Military Brass Insists Missile Defense Ready to be Deployed

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.

 

 

 

 

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

Congress Critical of Bush Nuclear Weapons Budget

Karen Yourish Roston


As they make their annual rounds on Capitol Hill on behalf of the president’s proposed budget, Bush administration officials are finding themselves in the hot seat defending President George W. Bush’s fiscal year 2005 request for the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP). Lawmakers are also peeved that they have yet to receive the administration’s overdue nuclear stockpile report.

Arms Control Today reported last month that the president’s 2005 budget proposal lays out a five-year schedule for RNEP that foresees production of the new weapon by the end of fiscal year 2009. (See ACT, March 2004.) Administration officials maintain the program is still in the study phase and that no decision has been made to develop or produce the weapon, but they have not convinced key members of Congress.

“I find it really hard to conceive of any circumstances under which this country would even use a nuclear weapon again,” Rep. David Hobson (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Appropriations energy and water subcommittee, told Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham at a March 11 hearing. “Despite those constraints, [the Department of Energy] seems to think they should spend another half a billion dollars of taxpayers’ dollars to explore and test the concept of Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator.”

During a March 23 hearing, Hobson’s Senate counterpart, Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), traditionally a staunch supporter of the Energy Department, told Linton Brooks, head of the department’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), that he was “surprised” to see nearly $500 million provided for the RNEP in out-year funding.

Moreover, both lawmakers expressed frustration at the administration’s failure to deliver a nuclear stockpile plan to Congress.

“This kind of, quote, Money is no object, unquote, thinking might have been the norm for the nuclear weapons complex during the Cold War years, but I think it’s completely out of touch with the political and fiscal realities that we face today,” Hobson said. “[U]ntil we receive a revised stockpile plan from [the Department of Defense] that shows real change in the size and the composition of the stockpile, and until [the Energy Department] re-calibrates its planning, workforce facilities, and budget to support the smaller stockpile, I do not believe that we should spend our limited budget resources on expansion of NNSA’s nuclear weapons activities.”

Facing similar prodding from Domenici, Brooks responded that the report “is being worked on, literally, as we speak, but because of the importance, I think this will have to be personally approved by the president and I can’t predict how long that will take.”

Still, Brooks did clarify at a March 24 hearing before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces that, although the United States plans to "substantially" reduce its deployed strategic nuclear arsenal to between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads as called for by the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), it will retain a significant number of additional warheads in storage. He said “sufficient warheads” need to be retained “to augment the operationally deployed force in the event that world events require a more robust deterrent posture.”

Signed May 24, 2002, by Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin, SORT requires the United States and Russia each to reduce its number of deployed strategic warheads from today’s 5,000-6,000 to no more than 2,200 by the end of 2012, when the treaty will expire. The agreement requires that the warheads be removed from their delivery systems but does not require their destruction, permitting each side to keep as many warheads and delivery vehicles as they want for future use. Washington intends to store enough so it could field up to 4,600 warheads in as little as three years after the treaty ends. Secretary of State Colin Powell acknowledged in Senate testimony in July 2002 that the accord does not limit the amount of warheads either country can possess. “The treaty will allow you to have as many warheads as you want,” Powell stated. (See ACT, September 2002.)

Even as he battled over the stockpile plan, Brooks characterized RNEP as “the single most contentious issue in our budget.” He said the out-year projections are included in the budget request only “to preserve the president’s option,” should he decide to move beyond the study stage.

“[T]here is a clear military utility to this weapon,” Brooks stated. “[D]espite this obvious utility…we will move beyond the study stage only if the president approves and if funds are authorized and appropriated by Congress.”

The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service noted in a March 8 report that the president’s 2005 budget plan casts “serious doubt” on administration claims that the RNEP is just a study.

Nuclear earth penetrator weapons, sometimes called “bunker busters,” burrow deeply into the ground before detonating, increasing their ability to destroy hardened underground targets. In May 2003, the Air Force began studying modifications to convert existing B61 or B83 nuclear bombs to an earth penetrator configuration.

Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, argued in a March 8 letter to Brooks that “the planning and budgeting for further steps in the…process in the next five years speaks to a clear intent to develop these modified nuclear weapons at a time when the feasibility study has not been completed and the Department of Defense has not submitted a request for this weapon.”

Some in Congress are more forgiving. Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.), chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, said during the March 24 hearing that the administration is “kind of caught between the rock and a hard spot.…[I]f you don’t put in the money, then somehow or the other they think you’re hiding it. If you do put in and you save for it, then you can be accused of trying” to move ahead with the program without congressional approval.

“I’ve looked at this figure, too, and that, obviously, sticks out there,” Allard continued. “But, on the other hand, I think we need to have some estimate in case we decide to move ahead with [RNEP] about where those future costs will be.”

Corrected online August 29, 2008. See explanation.

 

 

 

 

As they make their annual rounds on Capitol Hill on behalf of the president’s proposed budget, Bush administration officials are finding themselves...

Senate Passes Additional Protocol

Miles A. Pomper


The U.S. Senate March 31 unanimously approved an “additional protocol” to the U.S. safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), less than a month after President George W. Bush made a strong push for Senate passage of the pact.

Before the treaty becomes national or international law, however, Congress must first pass implementing legislation, a process that could take several months as the administration’s proposed language has yet to be considered by the relevant House and Senate committees.

All non-nuclear-weapon states-parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) have safeguards agreements with the IAEA that require detailed declarations of nuclear activities and allow IAEA inspections to ensure that those activities are not being used for illegal military purposes. As a recognized nuclear-weapon state under the NPT, the United States is under no legal obligation to accept such safeguards but has, as a matter of policy, voluntarily permitted them, albeit with broad “national security” exemptions.

The additional protocol agreement approved by the Senate is based on the 1997 Model Additional Protocol. The IAEA, after its failure to detect Iraq’s pre-1991 crash nuclear weapons program revealed weaknesses in the agency’s inspections and monitoring procedures, developed the protocol to strengthen the agency’s ability to detect clandestine nuclear activities. For example, the protocol allows agency inspectors to conduct short-notice inspections of undeclared facilities and requires states to provide more information to the IAEA about their nuclear activities. The IAEA cannot actually implement these measures in a particular country unless its government has concluded its own version of the Additional Protocol.

The U.S. version of the Additional Protocol, signed in 1998, would provide the IAEA with nonmilitary information on U.S. research, development, enrichment, and reprocessing activities; locations and capacity of fissile material production sites; export and import of nuclear material; and uses of fissile material and waste products.

The agreement, however, allows the United States to invoke a provision called the “national security exclusion” to deny the IAEA access to “activities with direct national security significance…or to locations or information associated with such activities.” The United States has the “sole discretion” in determining whether it can invoke the exclusion. In the event that it does allow IAEA inspectors into a facility, the United States will be able to use “managed access” to limit the inspectors’ activities. Washington can also employ “managed access” to protect “proliferation-sensitive” and “proprietary or commercially sensitive information” in military and commercial nuclear facilities.

Senate approval of the additional protocol came after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had voted 19-0 on March 4 in favor of a resolution of ratification. In the same markup, the panel also approved legislation reauthorizing spending for the Department of State that includes several important nonproliferation efforts.

The Senate panel also unanimously approved a fiscal year 2005 State Department authorization bill, laying down policy markers and spending ceilings for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 The bill would authorize $485 million for the “Nonproliferation, Anti-terrorism, Demining, and Related Programs Account”—$70 million more than Bush requested.

The legislation would also authorize funding for several new initiatives designed to improve foreign countries’ abilities to deal with proliferation threats from radiological to biological weapons. These include fellowships for multidisciplinary training on nonproliferation issues; programs to train “first responders” such as doctors and police officers to cope with an attack by a radiological, or “dirty,” bomb; and programs to improve public health facilities and expertise overseas to detect the use of biological weapons better.

In addition, the bill calls for the president to submit an annual report to Congress summarizing U.S. policy and actions regarding arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament, with input from all of the major national security agencies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The U.S. Senate March 31 unanimously approved an “additional protocol” to the U.S. safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), less than a month after President George W. Bush...

U.S. Announces New Landmines Policy

Wade Boese

On Feb. 27, the Bush administration announced that it would not join an international treaty banning anti-personnel landmines (APLs), but would limit the types of landmines its military forces may use in the future.

Under the new policy, the United States will work toward ending its use of anti-vehicle and anti-personnel landmines that are not designed to self-destruct and self-deactivate within a specified period of time. Such landmines are referred to as “dumb mines,” while those equipped with self-destruct and self-deactivation features are known as “smart mines.” The current U.S. landmine arsenal is comprised of roughly 15 million smart mines and 2.5 million dumb mines.

Nearly all U.S. smart mines are designed to destroy themselves if they are not set off within a span of four hours to 15 days after being put in place. If the self-destruct mechanism fails to work, the landmine’s battery will go dead within 90 days, effectively disarming the explosive. These features are intended to prevent landmines from maiming or killing civilians months or years after fighting ends.

Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Lincoln Bloomfield, who announced the new landmine policy, said that U.S. self-destruct mechanisms are extremely reliable. He declared such devices have never failed to work in more than 60,000 tests.

The new U.S. policy will be implemented in two phases. Between now and 2010, U.S. forces will be prohibited from using dumb mines outside of the Korean Peninsula unless specifically authorized by the president. After 2010, the exception for dumb mines in Korea will expire. U.S. forces will be free to use smart mines on battlefields.

The Bush policy announcement voids two May 1998 pledges by President Bill Clinton. Clinton said the United States would end the use of all APLs—smart and dumb—outside of Korea by 2003 and accede to the Ottawa Convention by 2006 if the Pentagon found suitable APL alternatives by that time.

The Ottawa Convention, which entered into force in March 1999, prohibits the use, stockpiling, transfer, and production of APLs. The treaty also applies to some mixed landmine systems that have both anti-personnel and anti-vehicle devices, but does not rule out the use of pure anti-vehicle landmines. More than 140 states, including all current U.S. NATO allies, are states-parties to the Ottawa Convention.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Stability Operations Joseph Collins, who also participated in unveiling the new policy, explained that senior military commanders could not support joining the Ottawa Convention because it was impossible to predict whom and where the United States might fight next. He said APLs offer unique capabilities, such as denying an enemy the freedom to maneuver, that other weapon systems could not.

Despite the Pentagon’s reluctance to give up APLs permanently, it did not use such weapons during its conflict with Iraq last year. (See ACT, July/August 2003.)

As part of its new landmine policy, the Bush administration is also seeking to boost funding for global demining and landmine victim assistance to $70 million—a mark nearly double that from a couple years ago. Since 1993 the United States has contributed almost $800 million to such activities, making it the largest funder of landmine action in the world. Bloomfield claimed that such efforts have helped halve landmine casualties from roughly 26,000 annually several years ago down to 10,000.

Bloomfield said that Washington will also encourage other capitals to end the use of dumb mines and pursue an international agreement outlawing their sale and export.

 

 

 

 

 

On Feb. 27, the Bush administration announced that it would not join an international treaty banning anti-personnel landmines (APLs), but would limit the types of landmines its military forces may use in the future.

U.S. Will Not Join Landmine Treaty; Position on Fissile Material Cutoff Pact Uncertain

Wade Boese

The Bush administration has no intention of joining an anti-landmine treaty and is reviewing past U.S. support for negotiating an agreement to end the production of key nuclear weapons materials, Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control Stephen Rademaker told Arms Control Today in a Jan. 21 interview.

Sworn into his post in August 2002, Rademaker serves as a chief deputy to the Department of State’s senior arms control official, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton. Like his boss and many other top Bush administration security officials, Rademaker, who worked for several years as a senior aide on the House Committee on International Relations, holds a skeptical view of multilateral arms control agreements.

In the summer of 2001, the Bush administration initiated a review of U.S. landmine policy. A key element was a May 1998 pledge by President Bill Clinton to sign by 2006 the Ottawa Convention banning anti-personnel landmines (APLs) if the United States was able to find effective alternatives to such weapons. Rademaker said future U.S. landmine policy “will certainly not include signature of the Ottawa Convention.”

Rademaker’s comments mark the first official confirmation that this administration would not fulfill Clinton’s pledge. The administration subsequently announced its new landmines policy Feb. 27.

A longtime champion of ending U.S. landmine use, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) expressed disappointment Feb. 20 about the administration’s intention. “It is unfortunate, but no surprise, that the Bush administration will not join the Ottawa Convention,” the senator said. He added, “Ten years ago the Pentagon pledged to aggressively develop alternatives to landmines, but that turned out to be an empty promise.”

Despite remaining outside the Ottawa Convention, the United States did not use APLs in its invasion of Iraq last March. (See ACT, July/August 2003.) It is also the largest funder of mine action work, such as destroying landmines and helping landmine victims.

The United States is party to the amended mines protocol of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), which limits how landmines may be deployed, and is pushing for negotiations on a new CCW protocol to regulate the use of anti-vehicle mines.

Along with the landmine promise, the Bush administration inherited from the Clinton administration a policy calling for the negotiation of a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) to end the production of highly enriched uranium and plutonium for nuclear weapons purposes. During its first years in office, the Bush administration continued its predecessor’s promotion of the FMCT at the 66-member United Nations Conference on Disarmament, and administration officials repeatedly blasted their fellow members, particularly China, for failing to start formal talks on the agreement.

Over the past several years, China insisted that negotiations on a treaty preventing an arms race in outer space be conducted in parallel with the FMCT. That idea had been strongly rejected by Washington. As Rademaker explained, “It’s our view that there’s not an arms race in outer space so to negotiate a treaty prohibiting an arms race in outer space presumes a fact not in evidence.”

Near the close of the conference’s annual working session last fall, China offered to drop its insistence on parallel negotiations. (See ACT, October 2003.) Rather than seizing the apparent opportunity to start the long-awaited FMCT talks, however, Rademaker indicated the administration is now having second thoughts. “We are looking at the threshold question, does an FMCT make sense?” he said.

Rademaker contended that an earlier rationale for the treaty—to prevent a nuclear arms race from emerging in South Asia—is now outdated since both India and Pakistan are armed with nuclear weapons. Rademaker remarked, “This is a concept that’s been around for a long time and a concept that has not evolved while the context in which it exists has evolved.”

Rademaker said he did not know when the administration would come to a conclusion about the treaty. President George W. Bush made no reference to the FMCT in his Feb. 11 speech outlining seven U.S. nonproliferation initiatives.

At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing with Secretary of State Colin Powell the day after the president’s speech, Senator Joseph Biden (D-Del.) said that the FMCT would be “an essential supplement” to the president’s proposals. He described it as a “win-win proposition for the United States because we have more than enough fissile material ourselves, while countries of concern continue to seek it.” Powell replied that “some questions have been raised” about the proposed treaty and that the review was still ongoing.

Despite the administration’s uncertain FMCT position, Bush made clear that a top U.S. aim is to limit the spread of nuclear weapons-making capabilities. One of the president’s proposals held that countries not currently possessing working enrichment and reprocessing plants should not be allowed to get them. Enrichment and reprocessing facilities, which a government can legally possess under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) if they are open to international oversight, can enable countries to refine materials not suitable for nuclear weapons into key bomb-making ingredients.

Rademaker suggested that Iran, which claims to have suspended its recently exposed, illicit enrichment activities last November, must be denied the right to such capabilities even if done within the context of the treaty. “We certainly would want to make sure that Iran is out of the business of enriching uranium,” he declared.

Changing times and threats require revisiting past agreements and understandings, according to Rademaker. “I think there’s general recognition that we’ve got some problems with the existing arrangements and the desire in many quarters to reconsider some of these things,” he said.

The Bush administration itself has not hesitated to break with the past. Rademaker noted that the administration “walked away” from a seven-year process to add a verification protocol to the treaty banning germ weapons because “we didn’t like what we saw” and “parted company” with the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty prohibiting nationwide defenses against strategic ballistic missiles because it “no longer made sense.”

Still, Rademaker insisted that the Bush administration has “a very good record on arms control issues.” As evidence, he pointed to the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, which entered into force last June and commits the United States and Russia to reduce their deployed strategic arsenals to less than 2,200 warheads each by the end of 2012. Some outside experts have criticized the treaty for not requiring the destruction of a single warhead or delivery vehicle and for its warhead limit expiring the same day that it takes effect, but Rademaker dismissed these criticisms. “We’ll match our strategic arms control agreement up against that of any other administration,” he said.

For a full transcript of the interview, please click here

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

The Bush administration has no intention of joining an anti-landmine treaty and is reviewing past U.S. support for negotiating an agreement to end the production of key nuclear weapons materials...

Taiwan, China, and U.S. in Arms Referendum Imbroglio

Wade Boese

After provoking a stern rebuke from the United States, Taiwan in mid-January modified a proposed March 20 referendum regarding China’s deployment of ballistic missiles aimed at the island. The move appeared to mollify Washington, but Beijing remains upset.

The initial referendum text asked voters to weigh in on whether China should end its deployment of some 500 ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan and revoke its threats to use force against the island. The amended referendum now simply questions whether Taiwan should buy more missile defense systems if China does not withdraw its missile deployments and whether Taipei should negotiate a “peace and stability” framework with Beijing.

The referendum—the island’s first—was proposed last fall by Taiwan’s President Chen Shui-bian, a longtime advocate for Taiwanese independence who is currently seeking re-election. (See ACT, January/February 2004.) Both Beijing and Washington objected to the proposal. China perceived the referendum as a sly attempt to put Taiwan on a path to declare independence, which China resolutely opposes because it wants the island returned to the mainland’s control. The United States worried such a vote might plunge China and Taiwan into armed conflict.

Standing next to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao after a Dec. 9, 2003, White House meeting, President George W. Bush warned, “The comments and actions made by the leader of Taiwan indicate that he may be willing to make decisions unilaterally to change the status quo, which we oppose.”

China was not appeased by the change in the referendum’s language. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan fumed Jan. 18, “This is a unilateral provocation against the peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits and its essence is to make way for Taiwan’s independence in the name of referendum in the future.”

Washington has reserved official comment on the new wording, but it also has been pushing Taiwan to buy missile defense systems for the past few years
. Taiwan has pleaded it does not have the funding.

Although the United States stands ready to supply Taiwan with arms, it takes issue with growing European interest in resuming weapons deals with China. France and Germany are spearheading an effort to get the European Union (EU) to end its arms embargo against Beijing that has been in place since the Chinese government violently crushed public protests at Tiananmen Square in June 1989. Javier Solana, the EU’s top foreign policy and security official, has recently suggested that the embargo is likely to be repealed, although when remains unclear.

Department of State spokesperson Richard Boucher Jan. 28 recommended against such an action. “We believe that the U.S. and European prohibitions on arms sales [to China] are complementary, were imposed for the same reasons—specifically, serious human rights abuses—and that those reasons remain valid today,” he said.

Not surprisingly, China views the matter differently. On Feb. 12, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue deemed the EU arms embargo a “relic of the Cold War.” She added, “It is our hope that…this anachronism would be comprehensively resolved as soon as possible.”

 

 

 

 

 

After provoking a stern rebuke from the United States, Taiwan in mid-January modified a proposed March 20 referendum regarding China’s deployment of ballistic missiles aimed at the island. 

U.S. Delegation Visits North Korea

Questions Remain Over Pyongyang's Weapons Claims

Paul Kerr

The January visit of an unofficial U.S. delegation of arms control and North Korea experts, including senior Senate staff aides, to North Korea’s nuclear facilities at Yongbyon resolved some uncertainties concerning the status of Pyongyang’s nuclear program but left other questions unanswered. The delegation members were the first foreign observers to visit the site since North Korea ejected UN inspectors in December 2002.

One of the most important revelations about the visit came when delegation member Siegfried Hecker, a senior fellow at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Jan. 21 that North Korean officials allowed him to handle a jar containing what appeared to be plutonium metal, although he explained that he lacked the proper instruments to verify that claim absolutely. Plutonium metal is used to form the explosive core of one type of nuclear weapon.

North Korean officials claimed that the fuel came from reprocessing approximately 8,000 spent fuel rods from its five-megawatt nuclear research reactor. Those fuel rods had been kept intact in a cooling pond and closely monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) under the now-defunct 1994 Agreed Framework between the United States and North Korea. The IAEA is the agency charged with monitoring compliance with the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which North Korea signed in 1985 and from which it withdrew in January 2003.

As part of the Agreed Framework, Pyongyang also agreed to shut down the Yongybyon reactor and related facilities, as well as halt construction of two larger reactors, and to allow the IAEA to monitor its compliance. North Korea restarted the reactor in February 2003.

According to a statement from the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said Jan. 10 that North Korean officials showed the delegation its “nuclear deterrent.” North Korea has said it possesses nuclear weapons, and the CIA told Congress in August that North Korea “has produced one or two simple” nuclear weapons and “validated the designs” without explosive testing. (See ACT, December 2003 and January/February 2004.)

However, Hecker stated that he told the North Koreans they had only produced evidence that they knew how to form plutonium metal, not that they either had nuclear weapons or the ability to design, build, and deliver such weapons. He also told the Senate panel that, even if the plutonium metal sample was authentic, it might not have been made from the spent fuel rods restricted under the Agreed Framework, but from an earlier batch. IAEA officials and intelligence analysts have long believed that Pyongyang might have reprocessed enough plutonium to build one or two bombs before that accord went into effect.

Hecker stated that the North Koreans claimed to have reprocessed all of the spent fuel rods between January and June 2003 and allowed the delegation to visit the pond that had contained the fuel rods. The delegation also visited North Korea’s reprocessing facility. Activity at the reprocessing facility had been frozen under the Agreed Framework. Hecker said the delegation observed that the fuel rods were no longer in the pond but could not confirm that North Korea had reprocessed the spent fuel as it had claimed.

Hecker also told the Senate that North Korea has indeed restarted the research reactor but that it is not rebuilding the smaller of the two incomplete reactors, describing that reactor as being in a “terrible state of repair.” The group was not able to observe the status of the larger reactor, Hecker said. North Korea has implied that it may resume construction of both reactors, which would vastly increase the number of bombs it might be able to build each year.

North Korean officials indicated that they viewed the visit as leverage in pushing the United States to hold and conclude additional talks on North Korean terms.

Hecker said that North Korea’s vice foreign minister, Kim Gye Gwan, told the delegation that an early resolution of the crisis is in the U.S. interest, arguing that delays in resolving the nuclear crisis have “not been beneficial to the U.S. side. With an additional lapse in time, [North Korea’s] nuclear arsenal could grow in quality and quantity.”

The delegation, which also included John Lewis, a professor at Stanford University, and Charles “Jack” Pritchard, former special envoy for negotiations with North Korea, visited North Korea’s nuclear facilities Jan. 8. During a Jan. 21 appearance on PBS’s Newshour with Jim Lehrer, Pritchard speculated that North Korea invited the delegation to view its nuclear facilities in order to resolve ambiguities concerning its nuclear capabilities following its withdrawal from the NPT.

In addition, Pritchard said Jan. 15 that Kim clarified North Korea’s previous denials that it has a uranium-enrichment program by providing new details. Kim told the delegation that North Korea does not have any relevant equipment or scientists trained to run such a program. The recent crisis began in October 2002, when a U.S. delegation accused North Korea of pursuing a clandestine uranium-enrichment program—an alternate method for obtaining fissile material for nuclear weapons.

The United States continues to maintain that North Korea admitted to having such a program during that meeting, but North Korea has argued that it never made such a stark admission. Journalist Don Oberdorfer stated in November 2002 that North Korean officials informed him that an October 2002 KCNA statement contains the exact words used during the U.S.-North Korean meeting. The relevant portion of that statement reads, “The [Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea] made itself very clear…that the D.P.R.K. was entitled to possess not only nuclear weapon[s] but any type of weapon more powerful than that so as to defend its sovereignty and right to existence.” (See ACT, December 2002.)

According to Hecker, North Korean officials gave Lewis the Korean language transcript of the meeting, which Lewis gave to the Department of State.

Two Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff members also visited the Yongbyon facilities and had other meetings with North Korean officials, but committee sources told Arms Control Today Feb. 24 that their reports are still being prepared.

 

 

 

 

 

The January visit of an unofficial U.S. delegation of arms control and North Korea experts, including senior Senate staff aides, to North Korea’s nuclear facilities at Yongbyon resolved...

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