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"[Arms Control Today] has become indispensable! I think it is the combination of the critical period we are in and the quality of the product. I found myself reading the May issue from cover to cover."

– Frank von Hippel
Co-Director of Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University
Press Releases

Summit Leaves Iran, North Korea Questions Unanswered

Christina Kucia

Despite what they described as “open, very frank” discussions about Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear programs, U.S. President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin concluded their Sept. 26-27 talks at Camp David without any concrete decisions on how to address the crises.

At a joint press conference Sept. 27, Bush said the United States and Russia “share a goal…to make sure Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapon or a nuclear weapons program.” Putin maintained that “Russia has no desire and no plans to contribute in any way to the creation of weapons of mass destruction, either in Iran or in any other spot, region in the world.” He noted that Russia’s decision to help Iran build a nuclear reactor at Bushehr is in full compliance with the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and agreed with Bush that both countries will continue to urge Iran to comply with International Atomic Energy Agency requirements.

The United States has criticized Russia’s assistance to Iran in constructing the $800 million reactor and providing nuclear fuel for the plant. Russia has maintained that it will require Iran to return any spent fuel, although the two countries have yet to sign an agreement enforcing this pledge. (See ACT, January/February 2003.) Concern over Iran’s nuclear energy program escalated in September after international investigators detected traces of highly enriched uranium in two facilities. (See “Concern Heats Up Over Iran’s Alleged Nuclear Program,” p. 20.)

Both presidents agreed that North Korea must cease its nuclear weapons program. At the press briefing, Bush reiterated his call for North Korea “to completely, verifiably, and irreversibly end its nuclear programs.” Putin, however, also pressed the United States to offer Pyongyang “guarantees in this sphere of security,” drawing attention to U.S. reluctance to provide such explicit guarantees. (See “U.S. Shows More Flexibility in North Korea Talks”) On the Iraq front, Bush failed to secure military or financial support from Putin for Iraq’s reconstruction.

Also during the summit, both sides discussed implementation of the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, which entered into force in May 2003. (See ACT, June 2003.) The Bilateral Implementation Commission, which is scheduled to meet twice yearly, has yet to convene. The commission’s first meeting may be scheduled later this fall, in late October or early November.

 

 

 

Despite what they described as “open, very frank” discussions about Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear programs, U.S. President George W. Bush and Russian President...

India, Pakistan Trade Barbs Over Nukes

Karen Yourish

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has denied reports that Pakistan shared its nuclear technology with other countries, namely North Korea. “All our [nuclear] assets are under strict control,” Musharraf asserted Sept. 25 at a gathering in Ottawa organized by the Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies. “I can guarantee they will not fall in the wrong hands.”

The Pakistani president rejected charges that “lower ranks” of the country’s military could be passing nuclear information to other countries or possible terrorists. He admitted having had “defense relations with North Korea” but said those were limited to surface-to-air missiles with conventional warheads. The U.S. government has been unable to prove reports that Pakistan’s Dr. A. Q. Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) engaged in a nuclear-for-missile swap with North Korea. (See ACT, September 2003.)

Earlier in the day, Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee raised the allegations against Pakistan before the UN General Assembly in New York. He said member states should be “particularly concerned at the various recent revelations about clandestine transfers of weapons of mass destruction and their technologies. We face the frightening prospect of these weapons and technologies falling into the hands of terrorists.” The prime minister went on to criticize international conventions such as the nuclear NonProliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) for their inability to reign in such exchanges. “Surely,” he argued, “something needs to be done about the helplessness of international regimes in preventing such transactions, which clearly threaten international security.”

“The same regimes expend considerable energy in imposing a variety of discriminatory technology-denial restrictions on responsible states,” the prime minister said.

India and Pakistan have refused to join the NPT or the CTBT, both of which would open up their nuclear arsenals to greater scrutiny. The two countries shocked the world in May 1998 when they detonated a series of nuclear devices weeks apart from each other.

In an address to the General Assembly Sept. 25, Musharraf attacked India for embarking on a “massive buildup” of its conventional and nonconventional military capabilities and warned countries who “oppose the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction” to review their decisions to offer major strategic systems to India.

India is seeking Washington’s blessing to buy the U.S.-Israeli Arrow anti-ballistic missile system from Israel. In August, the U.S. government gave Israel the green light to sell three Phalcon airborne early-warning radar command and control systems to India for an estimated $1 billion.

The Pakistani president warned that “sustainable security in South Asia requires India and Pakistan to institute measures to ensure mutual nuclear restraint and a conventional arms balance.” India’s interest in purchasing new weapons systems, he said, “will destabilize South Asia and erode strategic deterrence.”

President George W. Bush met with Musharraf Sept. 24 and had lunch with Vajpayee. According to the Department of State, the president discussed cross-border terrorism in Kashmir and support for the war on terror with both of the leaders. Musharraf said he raised concerns over India nuclear weapons purchases during his meeting with Bush.

India Consolidates Its Nuclear Force

The Political Council of India’s Nuclear Command Authority met Sept. 1 for the first time since it was established in January (See ACT, January/February 2003). The council, headed by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and set up to formulate political principles and administrative arrangements to manage India’s nuclear arsenal, took action to transfer ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons from India’s military services to the Strategic Forces Command now in charge of the country’s nuclear arsenal. “These decisions will consolidate India’s nuclear deterrence,” a statement issued after the meeting said.

 

 



 

 

 

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has denied reports that Pakistan shared its nuclear technology with other countries, namely North Korea. “

Chinese Concession Fails to End UN Disarmament Conference's Stalemate

Wade Boese

Proving the adage that “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” the 66-member Conference on Disarmament (CD) Sept. 10 concluded its fifth straight year without holding any negotiations. The stalemate persisted even though China compromised on an issue perceived to be a key obstacle blocking progress in the UN arms control negotiating forum.

No clear explanation has emerged as to why the conference failed to revive after China dropped its long-standing insistence that any work program must include the drafting of a treaty on the prevention of an arms race in outer space. That demand has long been a stumbling block to negotiations: the disarmament conference operates by consensus, and the United States has refused for several years to support any negotiations for limiting weapons in outer space. Washington, which is exploring space-based interceptors for its proposed layered missile defense system, claims such a treaty is unnecessary. The CD has not completed any arms control agreement since it wrapped up the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1996.

Several factors appear to have continued to block progress in the wake of China’s Aug. 7 announcement, which occurred in the last weeks of the conference’s negotiating period for the year. By conference rules, negotiations started one year do not carry over to the next. Some delegations probably wanted to avoid a repeat of 1998 when negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty were started in August, shelved in September, and not resumed the following year.

Disputes about the proposed outer space accord was also not the only controversial issue holding up the proposed CD work program, just the most prominent. Misgivings remain about nuclear disarmament talks, a negative security assurances treaty, and a fissile material cutoff treaty, which would forbid the production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons purposes.

Despite their recent tensions on Iraq and other issues, France and the United States are of the same mind on not wanting to discuss nuclear disarmament in a multilateral setting. Russia reportedly shares this reluctance.

Joined by the United Kingdom, these three nuclear-weapon states also have little enthusiasm for negotiating an accord on negative security assurances, which are commitments by nuclear-weapon states not to use nuclear weapons against countries without them. All four countries have consented to such negotiations before because the implicit understanding was that nothing would happen. Speculation exists that the United States might not support a repeat of such a charade, given February 2002 remarks by U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton questioning the value of negative security assurances (See ACT, March 2002) and general Bush administration distaste for international negotiations.

Further dampening prospects for negotiations on negative security assurances is China’s insistence that an agreement include commitments by all nuclear-weapon states to forswear the first-use of nuclear weapons. London, Moscow, Paris, and Washington all reserve the right to use nuclear weapons first and oppose the Chinese proposal.

The United States has essentially declared that it will not compromise on issues it does not want addressed. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control Stephen Rademaker told the conference in February that Washington would only consent to a “clean resolution” to start fissile material cutoff treaty negotiations. He warned that tying issues together to “win approval for dubious, unpopular, or outdated proposals must end if this body is to have a future.”

Although rhetorically enjoying consensus CD support, a fissile material cutoff treaty negotiation is not without detractors and potential pitfalls. Israel, for example, opposes the treaty, and relented to the start of treaty negotiations in 1998 only after intense U.S. arm-twisting. Israel’s Prime Minister at the time, Benjamin Netanyahu, warned that Israel had “fundamental problems with the treaty.”

Egypt, Pakistan, and Syria have argued that a completed treaty should not be limited to barring future production but also take into account existing stockpiles. They contend a treaty failing to do so would unacceptably codify unequal holdings of weapons-making material.

Aside from conflicting views about the conference’s work program, there is also an undercurrent of skepticism about whether all members, notably the United States, want the CD to succeed. A former senior U.S. government official familiar with the conference said in a Sept. 16 interview that Bolton and others in the Bush administration “detest the CD.”

The United States did not have a dedicated CD ambassador during this year’s round of negotiations, though in June the Bush administration nominated Jackie Wolcott Sanders, currently a deputy assistant secretary of state, for the position. The Senate has not yet voted on her nomination.

Regardless of the reasons, the conference found itself in a familiar position nearing the end of this year’s negotiating session. On Aug. 21, Japanese Ambassador Kuniko Inoguchi, who was serving as the rotating conference president, described the CD as being at a “serious impasse.” Expectations for the conference’s Jan. 19 start next year are not optimistic.


 

 

 

Proving the adage that “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” the 66-member Conference on Disarmament (CD) Sept. 10...

Interdiction Initiative Starts to Take Shape

Wade Boese

Aiming to give sea legs to their evolving effort to intercept global shipments of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), ballistic missiles, and related technologies to terrorists and countries of proliferation concern, participants of the 11-country Proliferation Security Initiative held their first maritime interdiction exercise in September. The group also approved a broad set of principles to guide their actions under the U.S.-led initiative.

In the Coral Sea on Sept. 12-13, a U.S. Navy destroyer joined ships from Australia and the Japanese Coast Guard, as well as French and Australian aircraft, in hunting down, boarding, and seizing the cargo of a merchant vessel pretending to carry WMD-related goods in an exercise dubbed “Pacific Protector.” Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom—the other seven members of the initiative—sent observers.

Pacific Protector marked the first in a series of 10 exercises envisioned over the next several months. Two are tentatively scheduled for October. France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States will lead some of the future practice interdictions, which will include ground, air, and sea scenarios.

The exercises’ objectives are two-fold. They are designed to improve the 11 countries’ capabilities to coordinate and carry out interdictions together and send a signal to potential proliferators that heightened attention is being paid to their dealings.

Senior U.S. government officials recently have argued that the initiative and its exercises are intended make proliferators take greater pains to hide their trade, making it more arduous and less profitable.

Though the initiative is ostensibly not targeted at any specific countries, top Bush administration officials, such as Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton, leave little doubt that North Korea is the country that Washington most wants to feel the initiative’s pinch. However, some U.S. officials, as well as diplomats of other governments, are quick to declare that the initiative is not a blockade of North Korea.

Pyongyang has reacted negatively to the initiative. North Korea’s state-run press described the exercises as “blatant military provocations” that could lead U.S.-North Korean relations to an “explosive phase.”

China, which hosted six-party talks in August to try and defuse tensions regarding North Korea’s bid to acquire nuclear weapons, also expressed criticism of the initiative, fearing it could further stress an already strained situation. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Kong Quan said Sept. 4, “Quite some countries have doubts over the legality and effectiveness of the [initiative]. Under such circumstances, one should act in a prudent manner.” He recommended that dialogue is the best way to prevent proliferation.

Concerns about the initiative also appear to extend to some capitals with close ties to Washington. Neither Canada nor South Korea has publicly joined the effort, though U.S. officials say the initiative is to be expanded as broadly as possible. China, Russia, and South Korea have all reportedly been consulted about the initiative.

The initiative is still in its formative stages. President George W. Bush announced the initiative May 31 and the participants held just their third formal meeting Sept. 3-4 in Paris, where they agreed upon a set of nonbinding principles framing the new interdiction strategy.

Participants pledged not to ship weapons of mass destruction or related delivery vehicles and technologies themselves and to “seriously consider” cooperating in letting their vessels or those flying their flags be stopped and searched if suspected of carrying such cargo. They also vowed to inspect vessels and airplanes reasonably suspected of transporting dangerous goods entering their territorial seas or airspace.

The initiative does not license its participants to conduct search and seizures unconditionally. A vessel in international waters, generally 24 kilometers and further from a coastline, is typically off-limits unless it is unmarked or the country whose flag the ship is flying gives permission for it to be boarded.

The initiative does not authorize or empower its adherents to do anything that they could not do before. It is more a spur to action to take greater advantage of existing national and international law to try and stop proliferation.

U.S. and foreign officials view sparse and tardy intelligence—not a lack of authority or forces—as the biggest hurdle to implementing the initiative. To remedy this shortcoming, the 11 countries committed to improve their procedures for sharing information on illicit or undesirable trade in a timely fashion to enable effective action.

 

 

 

Aiming to give sea legs to their evolving effort to intercept global shipments of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), ballistic missiles, and related technologies to terrorists and countries of proliferation concern...

Bush Calls on UN to Curb Proliferation

Christine Kucia

The Bush administration is urging the UN Security Council to adopt an anti-proliferation resolution that would call upon member states to “criminalize” the proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. In a Sept. 23 address at the opening of the UN General Assembly, President George W. Bush warned that “[t]he deadly combination of outlaw regimes and terror networks and weapons of mass murder is a peril that cannot be ignored or wished away.” He called on states to adopt tighter export controls, stronger legislation, and better border security to prevent the illicit transfer of materials and offered U.S. support to any country that needed help devising such programs.

Bush used the speech to justify further his handling of the war in Iraq and, amid criticism over Washington’s preemptive strike policy, called on member states to lend their support to reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Speaking earlier in the day, UN General Secretary Kofi Annan harshly attacked the Bush administration’s position—without actually naming names. “Now, some say…states have the right and obligation to use force pre-emptively, even on the territory of other states, and even while weapons systems that might be used to attack them are still being developed.” Annan condemned such logic, warning it “could set precedents that result in a proliferation of the unilateral and lawless use of force, with or without justification.”

Beyond calling for the nonproliferation resolution, Bush offered no new initiatives and failed to mention the world’s most pressing proliferation concerns: Iran and North Korea. Instead, the president stuck to familiar themes, reiterating the existence of measures such as the newly formed Proliferation Security Initiative (see page 24) and the Nunn-Lugar program as examples of steps that are being taken to prevent dangerous materials from getting into the wrong hands.

French President Jacques Chirac also stressed nonproliferation in his comments. He proposed holding a council summit meeting to frame a “genuine” UN action plan against proliferation, as well as creating a permanent corps of inspectors under the council’s authority.

In Their Own Words...Excerpts from the UN General Assembly Sept. 23

By President George W. Bush

A second challenge we must confront together is the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Outlaw regimes that possess nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons—and the means to deliver them—would be able to use blackmail and create chaos in entire regions. These weapons could be used by terrorists to bring sudden disaster and suffering on a scale we can scarcely imagine. The deadly combination of outlaw regimes and terror networks and weapons of mass murder is a peril that cannot be ignored or wished away. If such a danger is allowed to fully materialize, all words, all protests, will come too late. Nations of the world must have the wisdom and the will to stop grave threats before they arrive.

One crucial step is to secure the most dangerous materials at their source. For more than a decade, the United States has worked with Russia and other states of the former Soviet Union to dismantle, destroy, or secure weapons and dangerous materials left over from another era. Last year in Canada, the Group of Eight nations agreed to provide up to $20 billion—half of it from the United States—to fight this proliferation risk over the next 10 years. Since then, six additional countries have joined the effort. More are needed, and I urge other nations to help us meet this danger.

We’re also improving our capability to interdict lethal materials in transit. Through our Proliferation Security Initiative, 11 nations are preparing to search planes and ships, trains and trucks carrying suspect cargo, and to seize weapons or missile shipments that raise proliferation concerns. These nations have agreed on a set of interdiction principles, consistent with legal—current legal authorities. And we’re working to expand the Proliferation Security Initiative to other countries. We’re determined to keep the world’s most destructive weapons away from all our shores, and out of the hands of our common enemies.

Because proliferators will use any route or channel that is open to them, we need the broadest possible cooperation to stop them. Today, I ask the UN Security Council to adopt a new anti-proliferation resolution. This resolution should call on all members of the UN to criminalize the proliferation of weapons—weapons of mass destruction—to enact strict export controls consistent with international standards, and to secure any and all sensitive materials within their own borders. The United States stands ready to help any nation draft these new laws, and to assist in their enforcement....

By President Jacques Chirac

In the face of proliferating weapons of mass destruction, we reject all faits accomplis. We must stand united in ensuring the universality of treaties and the effectiveness of nonproliferation regimes. We must strengthen our means of action in order to ensure compliance....

By Secretary General Kofi Annan

In the Korean Peninsula, and elsewhere, the threat of nuclear proliferation casts an ominous shadow across the landscape….

Weapons of mass destruction do not threaten only the western or Northern world. Ask the people of Iran, or of Halabja in Iraq. Where we disagree, it seems, is on how to respond to these threats….

The council needs to consider how it will deal with the possibility that individual states may use force preemptively against perceived threats. Its members may need to begin a discussion on the criteria for an early authorization of coercive measures to address certain types of threats; for instance, terrorist groups armed with weapons of mass destruction….

Excellencies, we have come to a fork in the road. This may be a moment no less decisive than 1945 itself, when the United Nations was founded….

 

 

 

The Bush administration is urging the UN Security Council to adopt an anti-proliferation resolution that would call upon member states to “criminalize” the...

Countries Sticking to Timetable in Pledges on Eliminating Landmines

Wade Boese

Countries committed to eliminating anti-personnel landmines (APLs) are matching their words with deeds, according to a Sept. 15-19 meeting of states-parties to the Ottawa Convention, which bars the use, production, stockpiling, and transfer of APLs.

The treaty, which entered into force March 1999, gives each state-party four years to destroy its APL stockpiles and 10 years to rid its territory of APLs. All states-parties whose four-year deadlines have come due this year have successfully completed the task. Of the 137 states-parties, 110 no longer possess APL stockpiles. All told, states-parties have destroyed more than 30 million mines.

Turkmenistan is the one state-party marring the treaty’s otherwise unblemished compliance record. Each government is allowed to retain a “minimum number” of APLs, understood to be hundreds or thousands, for mine detection, clearance, and destruction training. Yet, Turkmenistan plans to keep 69,200 APLs for these purposes.

No states-parties are otherwise known to have violated the accord, though unconfirmed allegations exist that two treaty signatories—Burundi and Sudan—may have used APLs within the past year. The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties holds that countries are to abide by treaties they sign even if they have not completed the ratification process.

All other reported recent APL use occurred among a half-dozen countries—Burma, India, Iraq, Nepal, Pakistan, and Russia—of the 45 that have not joined the treaty. The United States, another non-signatory, reportedly stockpiled APLs for potential use in its invasion of Iraq but did not use them. (See ACT, July/August 2003.)

President Bill Clinton pledged in May 1998 that the United States would accede to the treaty by 2006 if the Pentagon succeeded in developing and fielding alternatives to APLs by that time. The Bush administration initiated a review of U.S. landmine policy, including Clinton’s pledge, in the summer of 2001 but has yet to announce any findings.

The review’s conclusions are expected to be revealed before the end of this year because Clinton had further declared that the United States would not use APLs outside the Korean Peninsula by 2003.

 

Countries committed to eliminating anti-personnel landmines (APLs) are matching their words with deeds, according to a Sept. 15-19...

Concern Heats Up Over Iran's Nuclear Program

Paul Kerr

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors unanimously adopted a resolution Sept. 12 that sets an Oct. 31 deadline for Iran to cooperate fully with the agency’s efforts to resolve concerns that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program. Tehran has sent mixed signals as to whether it will comply, possibly setting the stage for a showdown in the UN Security Council.

The resolution is the IAEA board’s strongest action to date regarding Iran’s nuclear program. In June the board issued a statement calling on Iran to resolve concerns created by its failure to report certain nuclear activities, as mandated by its safeguards agreement with the IAEA. Such agreements are required under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) to ensure that member states do not divert civilian nuclear programs to military purposes. Iran ratified the NPT in 1970 and has repeatedly denied that it is pursuing nuclear weapons. (See ACT, July/August 2003.)

The IAEA action follows months of pressure from Washington. The Bush administration expressed satisfaction with the resolution, with White House press secretary Scott McClellan describing it Sept. 25 as “one last chance for Iran to comply” and adding that the matter “should be reported to the Security Council” if Iran fails to do so. Although President George W. Bush said Sept. 25 that “there will be universal condemnation” if Iran does not cooperate, McClellan would not speculate on what course of action the administration would recommend if the matter is referred to the Security Council. The board is to evaluate Iran’s progress shortly after the deadline.

The United States has long had suspicions that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program, but international concern accelerated during the last year as more details about Iran’s uranium-and plutonium-based nuclear programs emerged. When operational, both programs could produce fissile material for nuclear weapons.

IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei issued a report in June summarizing the agency’s investigation into Iran’s nuclear programs and concluding that Iran had violated its safeguards agreements. A second report in August provided more details on Iran’s programs and revealed inconsistencies in previous Iranian statements to the agency, raising more questions about Tehran’s nuclear intentions.

Tehran has suggested that it is willing to cooperate with the IAEA but has voiced concerns that such cooperation will not be sufficient to meet U.S. demands. The IAEA is sending a team to Iran Oct. 2 to begin inspections and get a more complete picture of Iran’s nuclear activities, an IAEA official said in a Sept. 29 interview.

The Resolution

The most important component of the resolution calls on Iran to take “all necessary actions…to resolve all outstanding issues involving nuclear materials and nuclear activities” by the deadline, expressing particular concern about Iran’s gas centrifuge uranium-enrichment program. A pilot gas centrifuge plant near the town of Natanz contained more than 100 centrifuges as of February, when ElBaradei first visited the facility. Centrifuges spin uranium hexafluoride gas in cylinders to increase the concentration of the relevant isotopes. Tehran is also building a commercial facility that could hold enough centrifuges to produce fissile material for 25 nuclear devices per year. (See ACT, June 2003.)

The February discovery of the Natanz facility’s advanced state produced suspicions that Iran had secretly tested its centrifuges with nuclear material—an action that would violate its safeguards agreement. Under the agreement, Tehran can only conduct such tests if IAEA inspectors are notified. Iran has said it tested the centrifuges without nuclear material, but IAEA experts dismiss its claim.

In June, Iran adhered to the letter if not the spirit of its agreement by introducing nuclear material into the Natanz facility’s centrifuges under IAEA safeguards. That action came despite a board of governors’ request earlier that month that Tehran refrain from doing so. Iran accelerated its tests in August. The resolution “calls on Iran to suspend all further uranium-enrichment-related activities, including the further introduction of nuclear material into Natanz,” but there is no indication that Iran has stopped.

The resolution further calls on Iran to comply with the agency’s investigation into the matter by “providing a full declaration of all imported material and components relevant to the enrichment programme.” ElBaradei reported in August that environmental samples taken by IAEA inspectors revealed the presence of highly enriched uranium (HEU) at the pilot facility. Iran has explained the findings by claiming that it imported contaminated components, but the material’s presence may also indicate that Iran tested its centrifuges with nuclear material.

Iran’s acknowledgment that it had obtained some of the components through “foreign intermediaries” contradicted the country’s past contention that its enrichment program was entirely indigenous.
The centrifuge technology’s origin is unknown. Although a French report in May asserted that the technology is likely of Pakistani origin, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamidreza Asefi told reporters Sept. 1 that Iran has not cooperated with Pakistan. The August IAEA report says that the machines are of “an early European design,” but that does not exclude the possibility that they originated in Pakistan. (See ACT, September 2003.)

The IAEA resolution also requires Iran to allow inspectors to conduct environmental sampling in “whatever locations the IAEA deems necessary” to complete its verification tasks. Conducting samples has been a particularly contentious issue. Iran delayed allowing inspectors to conduct samples at a location called the Kalaye Electric Company for months after inspectors first requested access. When inspectors conducted sampling in August, they found “considerable modification” of the facility which could adversely impact the samples’ accuracy.

The IAEA has been particularly interested in the Kalaye site because Tehran acknowledged it produced centrifuge components there and the agency believes that sampling could help verify the government’s claim that it has not tested centrifuges with nuclear material. The IAEA has not revealed the results of the sampling, but the Associated Press reported Sept. 29 that Ali Akbar Salehi, Tehran’s chief delegate to the IAEA, acknowledged that inspectors found HEU at the site. He again blamed contaminated components.

Will Iran Comply?

Whether Iran will comply with the IAEA’s demands is an open question. Asefi said Tehran’s response to the resolution “is still being examined and…Iran’s final stance will be declared in due time,” the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported Sept. 21. Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, however, said in a television interview that Iran is “determined to cooperate” with the agency, according to a Sept. 28 Associated Press report.

Earlier in the month, Tehran seemed to issue a veiled threat to pull out of the NPT. Iran’s representatives walked out of the IAEA meeting when the resolution was adopted, and Asefi told reporters Sept.14 that Iran would “review its cooperation” with the IAEA. However, Vice President Gholamreza Aghazadeh told the IAEA General Conference Sept. 16 that, although Iran “objects” to the resolution, it is still “fully committed to its NPT responsibility.”

Salehi discussed his government’s thoughts in more detail with Der Spiegel on Sept. 15, saying Iran would take “appropriate measures” if the United States tries to force it to forgo all uranium-enrichment activities. These measures could include limiting its cooperation with the IAEA to the minimum level required by its original safeguards agreement, “completely” ending cooperation with the agency, or pulling out of the NPT, he said. During the course of the agency’s investigation, Iran has allowed the IAEA to conduct inspections beyond those required by Iran’s safeguards agreement.

Additional Protocol

The resolution reiterates the IAEA’s June request that Iran “promptly and unconditionally” implement an additional protocol to its safeguards agreement. An additional protocol allows the IAEA to conduct more rigorous inspections, including visits to facilities that countries have not declared to the agency in order to check for clandestine nuclear programs.

The IAEA and Iran have had ongoing discussions about the agreement, and Salehi said Sept. 15 that Iran is ready to begin negotiations “leading to our signing it.” IAEA spokesperson Melissa Flemming said that concluding the protocol was unnecessary for the agency to conduct its current investigation, Agence France Presse reported Sept. 25.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said in August that Iran signing the additional protocol would not be sufficient to satisfy Washington’s concerns about that country’s nuclear programs.

Moscow-Tehran Cooperation Continues

Russia continues to move forward on the construction of a light-water nuclear reactor near the Iranian city of Bushehr. Russia has agreed to provide fuel for the reactor, with the condition that Iran sign an agreement to return the spent fuel, but Russian Atomic Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev could not say when this agreement will be concluded, Agence France Presse reported Sept. 19.

Iran has also introduced a new variable. Russian Deputy Minister for Nuclear Energy Valery Govorukhin said that Iran now wants Russia to pay for the removal of the spent fuel, the Itar-Tass news agency reported Sept. 10. Rumyantsev added Sept. 19 that the two sides are negotiating this new demand—a process that could further delay conclusion of the agreement.

Although a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman called on Iran Sept. 13 to conclude an additional protocol and cooperate with the IAEA, Govorukhin added that Russia’s provision of reactor fuel is not conditioned on Iran signing the protocol. Moscow has hinted at such linkage in the past.

Washington has long opposed the Bushehr project because of concerns that Iran will gain access to expertise and dual-use technology that can aid it in developing a nuclear weapons program. Russia contends that the reactors will not contribute to a nuclear weapons program and will operate under IAEA safeguards.

Russian officials have said they may build more reactors in Iran and IRNA reported Aug. 26 that Russia has delivered feasibility studies to Iran for a second reactor being planned for Bushehr. The two governments agreed to conduct the studies in December 2002. (See ACT, January/February 2003.) Govorukhin said Sept. 10 that the Bushehr reactor will be completed in 2005, but the Aug. 26 IRNA report placed the date at 2004.

How Long Until a Weapon?


Major General Aharon Ze’evi-Farkash, the head of Israeli military intelligence, told Jane’s Intelligence Review that Iran can develop a nuclear device “within two years” after gaining the ability to produce sufficient uranium, according to a Sept. 13 Agence France Presse report. Iran has said that it plans to start installing centrifuges into the commercial Natanz facility in 2005.

Ze’evi-Farkash, however, added that Israel believes 2004 is “the point of no return” because Iranian scientists will have by then acquired all the “necessary knowledge” for building a nuclear device.

Public U.S. estimates give a slightly longer time frame. A January 2003 Congressional Research Service report states that “the consensus among U.S. experts appears to be that Iran is still about eight to ten years away from a nuclear weapons capability, although foreign help or Iranian procurement abroad of fissionable materials could shorten that timetable.” A February Defense Intelligence Agency estimate says Iran will have a nuclear bomb by 2010 if it acquires the necessary technology and fissile material. Whether these estimates take into account the most recent Iranian nuclear developments is unknown.

Additionally, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton argued during a June congressional hearing that Iran could build “over 80 nuclear weapons” if it had access to sufficient fuel, operated the Bushehr reactor for 5-6 years, and chose to withdraw from the NPT.

The IAEA Resolution: An Excerpt

1. Calls on Iran to provide accelerated cooperation and full transparency to allow the Agency to provide at an early date the assurances required by Member States;
2. Calls on Iran to ensure there are no further failures to report material, facilities and activities that Iran is obliged to report pursuant to its safeguards agreement;
3. Reiterates the Board’s statement in June 2003 encouraging Iran not to introduce nuclear material into its pilot enrichment cascade in Natanz, and in this context calls on Iran to suspend all further uranium enrichment-related activities, including the further introduction of nuclear material into Natanz, and, as a confidence-building measure, any reprocessing activities, pending provision by the Director General of the assurances required by Member States, and pending satisfactory application of the provisions of the additional protocol;
4. Decides it is essential and urgent in order to ensure IAEA verification of non-diversion of nuclear material that Iran remedy all failures identified by the Agency and cooperate fully with the Agency to ensure verification of compliance with Iran’s safeguards agreement by taking all necessary actions by the end of October 2003, including:
(i) providing a full declaration of all imported material and components relevant to the enrichment programme, especially imported equipment and components stated to have been contaminated with high enriched uranium particles, and collaborating with the Agency in identifying the source and date of receipt of such imports and the locations where they have been stored and used in Iran;
(ii) granting unrestricted access, including environmental sampling, for the Agency to whatever locations the Agency deems necessary for the purposes of verification of the correctness and completeness of Iran’s declarations;
(iii) resolving questions regarding the conclusion of Agency experts that process testing on gas centrifuges must have been conducted in order for Iran to develop its enrichment technology to its current extent;
(iv) providing complete information regarding the conduct of uranium conversion experiments;
(v) providing such other information and explanations, and taking such other steps as are deemed necessary by the Agency to resolve all outstanding issues involving nuclear materials and nuclear activities, including environmental sampling results;
5. Requests all third countries to cooperate closely and fully with the Agency in the clarification of open questions on the Iranian nuclear programme;
6. Requests Iran to work with the Secretariat to promptly and unconditionally sign, ratify and fully implement the additional protocol, and, as a confidence-building measure, henceforth to act in accordance with the additional protocol;
7. Requests the Director General to continue his efforts to implement the Agency’s safeguards agreement with Iran, and to submit a report in November 2003, or earlier if appropriate, on the implementation of this resolution, enabling the Board to draw definitive conclusions....

 

 

 

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors unanimously adopted a resolution Sept. 12 that sets an Oct. 31 deadline for Iran to cooperate fully...

Senate Okays Funds for Nuclear Weapons Research

Christine Kucia

The Republican-led House and Senate are at odds over whether to fund new nuclear weapons initiatives proposed by the Bush administration. The Senate’s fiscal year 2004 energy and water appropriations bill, approved Sept. 16, funds continued research on the controversial nuclear earth penetrator, accelerated nuclear test readiness, and exploration of new weapons technologies. Meanwhile, the House version, approved July 18, makes considerable cuts to these items. (See ACT, September 2003.) The differences will be hammered out in a House-Senate conference, likely to take place in October.

The administration has been encouraging Congress to modernize the nuclear arsenal for some time. More recently, a Sept. 11 “Statement of Administration Policy” sent to the Senate prior to the appropriations vote noted that full funding for nuclear research programs “will help lay the foundation for transforming the [n]ation’s Cold War era nuclear stockpile into a modern deterrent suited for the 21st century.” A post-vote letter from Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham to GOP Sens. Pete Domenici (N.M.) and John Warner (Va.) praised the Senate for keeping the president’s nuclear weapons initiatives in the bill and urged the senators to ensure the measures are sustained in conference with the House.

Attempts by Democratic senators to block the measures largely fell short. An amendment on the floor by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) to eliminate the funding for the earth penetrator and for new weapons technologies, as well as to bar funds from being used to shorten the test readiness period, failed 53-41. Democrats achieved a small victory, however, when the Senate passed by voice vote an amendment by Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), which would restrict weapons funding to research only and ensure that the administration consults with Congress before developing new nuclear weapons. The amendment mirrors one approved by the Senate during debate over the defense authorization bill in May. (See ACT, June 2003.)

During her floor speech, Feinstein warned that developing new weapons will harm U.S. nonproliferation objectives: “Indeed, by seeking to develop new nuclear weapons ourselves, we send a message that nuclear weapons have a future battlefield role and utility.” Kennedy stressed that appropriating the funds would be the first in a series of destabilizing measures that could make nuclear war more likely, and he told The New York Times Sept. 17, “We are fully committed to staying after the issue.” But Republican Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.) had a different take. “[W]e now have the capability of delivering weapons very precisely. Wouldn’t it be better to do that, even in a nuclear context, than the one we are in now?” he asked during the Sept. 15 floor debate.

 

 

 

The Republican-led House and Senate are at odds over whether to fund new nuclear weapons initiatives proposed by the Bush administration. 

Iraq Inquiry Winds Down; Blair Suffers Political Blow

Daniel Koik

As Lord Hutton prepares to wrap up his investigation into the suicide of arms expert David Kelly, it seems that British Prime Minister Tony Blair will escape legal charges that his government had falsified and exaggerated pre-war intelligence information on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Yet, Blair is hardly in the clear: the investigation’s revelations about the Blair government’s handling of intelligence and its treatment of Kelly have significantly damaged the Labor leader’s political standing.

The Parliament Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) concluded in a Sept. 11 report that, during the preparation of a September 2002 dossier documenting British intelligence analysis of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction programs and capabilities, the Blair government had not applied political pressure on the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), which was in charge of drafting the dossier. Referring to a May 29 report by BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan that alleged such pressure and first sparked the controversy, the ISC said, “The dossier was not ‘sexed up’ by Alastair Cambell or anyone else.”

Testifying before the committee, Blair said he took the nation to war because he was concerned that an Iraqi WMD capability would develop “into a nexus between terrorism and WMD.” He noted that “time will tell whether it’s true or not true.”

The committee also criticized some of the claims within the dossier for their lack of clarity and context. In particular, the committee said the dossier should have emphasized that, although it could determine if Iraq had developed biological and chemical capabilities, it did not have firm intelligence of exactly what had been produced and in what quantities. The committee also said that the Blair government had not placed in its proper context a claim that Iraq was prepared to use biological or chemical weapons on 45 minutes’ notice. The panel said that this charge had originally referred merely to battlefield munitions and not any larger strategic capabilities.

The 45-minute claim has been at the center of the intelligence controversy. In his May BBC report, Gilligan had cited an unnamed senior intelligence official “in charge of drawing up that dossier,” later acknowledged to be Kelly. Gilligan said the official asserted that the claim had been added over the criticisms of the intelligence community at the insistence of Downing Street. In June, Gilligan wrote in the Sunday Mail that, according to his source, Blair communications director Alastair Cambell had given the order.

Government officials have continued to deny that there was any government pressure over that or any other claim made in the dossier. (See ACT, September 2003.)

In his second appearance before the Hutton Inquiry, Campbell again said that he had only been involved with the creation of the dossiers in a “presentational” role and that he had not had any say in the substance of the report.

Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of MI6 Secret Intelligence Service, made a rare public appearance to testify before the inquiry that he had personally followed the creation of the dossier throughout its creation and that he was satisfied with the process. Dearlove said that he had considered the 45-minute claim to be “well-sourced.” He was “bemused” by the accusation that good intelligence could not come from a single source, saying that many reports produced by MI6 are single-source yet are still considered to be reliable. Dearlove did say, however, that “in hindsight” it should have been made clearer that the claim referred to short-range battlefield weapons.

To be sure, John Scarlett, the head of the JIC, admitted that he had revised the dossier after receiving an e-mail from Blair’s chief of staff Jonathan Powell, removing a reference stating that Saddam would only use biological or chemical weapons when “under threat.” Powell’s e-mail asked Scarlett to redraft the statement, because it would have supported arguments that Hussein would only be a threat if attacked.

But in his testimony, Scarlett argued that the e-mail only made him re-examine the statement and that removing the explicit phrase was justified given recent intelligence that placed Iraqi WMD and its importance in the context of Hussein’s “perception of his regional position, his plans to acquire and maintain regional influence and, as one report, and maybe more, put it: dominate his neighbors.” Given this interpretation, he said that removing the phrase permitted him to act within his instruction from the JIC to keep the dossier in line with the most recent intelligence.

Kelly was found dead July 18 after becoming caught up in a conflict between the Blair government and the BBC over Gilligan’s accusations. The government has faced strong criticism over the way Kelly’s name was revealed to the public. Representatives of the Kelly family have accused the government of using Kelly as “a pawn in their political battle with the BBC.”

Blair has seen his popularity plummet as a result of the crisis and late September polls in the Guardian show that 61 percent of British voters are unhappy with the job he is doing as prime minister and that only 38 percent now believe the war in Iraq was justified.

Facing even greater political trouble is Secretary of Defense Geoff Hoon. Hoon already faced substantial public criticism for his role in revealing Kelly’s identity as Gilligan’s source. But the ISC report also disclosed that Hoon had failed to disclose that two aides had submitted written concerns about the dossier to him prior to its publication. The ISC characterized this failure as “unhelpful and potentially misleading,” leading Conservative leader Ian Duncan Smith to call for Hoon’s resignation. Hoon said that he regretted any “misunderstanding,” but a September 5 poll in the Sunday mail showed that 62 percent of the British public backed Smith’s call for Hoon’s resignation.

The Hutton Inquiry and the ISC are two of the three committees that have investigated the British governments handling of Iraqi intelligence. The Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee also concluded in July that Blair and his advisers did not interfere in the creation of dossiers.

 

 

 

As Lord Hutton prepares to wrap up his investigation into the suicide of arms expert David Kelly, it seems that British Prime Minister Tony Blair will escape...

Study Casts Doubt on Boost-Phase Missile Defense

Wade Boese

A key criticism of the Pentagon’s ground-based midcourse missile defense system scheduled for deployment next fall is that an attacker could employ countermeasures, such as decoys that look like a warhead, to fool the interceptor into missing its target.

The Pentagon contends that near-term foes are not likely to be able to build effective decoys. It also claims that the decoy and countermeasure problem will be addressed by fielding additional defenses designed to destroy ballistic missiles shortly after launch and before any decoy warheads could be deployed—a period known as the boost phase.

But a July report by the American Physical Society (APS)—the largest U.S. society of professional physicists—raised questions about the Pentagon’s strategy. It estimated that boost-phase defenses are a decade away and might only work in the most limited circumstances.

The APS study, conducted by 12 experts, assessed whether land-, air-, sea-, or space-based systems could intercept a long-range ballistic missile three to four minutes after its launch. Though the experts said they made optimistic assumptions about the future performance of possible defenses, the study members told reporters July 17 that carrying out such intercepts would test the bounds of what is physically, technologically, and operationally feasible.

During a missile’s boost phase, it presents a larger, more visible, and slower-moving target than during later flight stages. The missile remains in one piece, its rocket engines are still burning hotly and brightly, and it is still accelerating. After the boost phase ends, the missile’s payload separates from the burned-out engines, leaving smaller, faster, colder, and possibly multiple targets hurtling through space. Temperature matters because proposed U.S. defenses rely on infrared sensors to home in on the target.

The primary constraint on intercepting ballistic missiles during the boost phase is time. Detecting a launch and then formulating an intercept plan would require at least 45 to 65 seconds, leaving less than 200 seconds at most for an interceptor to be fired and to reach its target before the boost phase ended. Field commanders would have little or no time to consult with superiors before firing their interceptors.

The time available for an intercept is constrained further by the fact that currently envisioned boost-phase defenses would destroy an enemy missile’s body but potentially leave its payload untouched. A surviving payload would almost never drop onto where it was launched from but fall somewhere between its launch point and intended target. Therefore, an enemy missile would have to be destroyed early enough in order to stop it from attaining a speed and trajectory that momentum would carry its payload to U.S. territory. The APS experts calculated this requirement could cut as much as 40 seconds from the potential intercept time.

Calculating an intercept so a destroyed missile’s payload would not fall on a U.S. ally, neutral country, or any populated area would be very difficult. Intercept windows to avoid such a possibility range between five to 20 seconds, the study reported. For example, preventing a destroyed, Iranian-launched missile’s payload from landing in western Europe would require the missile to be intercepted within a 10-to 20-second window. A North Korean missile fired at the U.S. interior would have to be shot down within a 10-second time frame to avoid having its payload inadvertently fall on Russia.

Due to the brief time frames for a boost-phase intercept, air-, sea-, and land-based interceptors would generally need to be deployed within 400 to 1,000 kilometers of the projected intercept point, according to the APS study. Consequently, boost-phase defenses would be most viable against relatively small countries, such as North Korea, and offer no protection against missiles launched from deep within the borders of large countries such as China and Russia.

Iran, which Washington charges is seeking nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles, presents a more ambiguous case. The APS study concluded that a terrestrial-based boost-phase defense could potentially shoot down a liquid-fueled Iranian missile, but not one powered by faster-burning solid-fuel engines because its boost phase is shorter.

Intercepting long-range missiles fired from a small country or a liquid-fueled missile from Iran would still require the development of interceptors more powerful and larger than any models the United States has built, according to the report. Ideally, interceptors would need to reach speeds up to six to 10 kilometers per second. Long-range ballistic missiles travel seven to eight kilometers per second.

The new interceptors would need to be based on land or ships bordering the potential missile launch point. In the cases of North Korea and Iran, this would require convincing countries that are not close U.S. military allies, such as China or Turkmenistan, to host U.S. interceptors on their territories. Ships could be stationed in nearby seas, though they would likely need protective escorts.

Another proposed alternative is to use a plane armed with a laser to knock out missiles rising toward space. The APS study judged that the Pentagon’s current Airborne Laser (ABL), which has seen its first intercept test slip by at least two years to 2005 because of problems coupling the laser and the plane, could counter liquid-fuel missiles—but not more heat-resistant solid-fuel missiles—launched by small countries. Because the ABL, which is initially designed to counter short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, has to be relatively close to its target to be effective, the APS experts deemed that it would be too vulnerable to enemy attack to be of any use against larger countries.

A possible solution to overcoming problems posed by geography is to place interceptors in space. Yet, the APS study estimated that approximately 1,000 space-based interceptors would need to be deployed to guard against a single missile launch because each individual interceptor would only cover a certain spot on Earth for a short period.

Boost-phase defenses themselves are not immune from countermeasures, the report found. A missile can be programmed to execute evasive maneuvers early in its flight. Moreover, a missile’s acceleration rate can vary unpredictably, making it difficult for a missile defense system to predict a missile’s course and pinpoint when it will reach a certain location.

The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency has stood by the boost-phase concept. “There’s no reason to believe we can’t develop an interceptor fast enough to perform boost-phase intercept,” agency spokesman Rick Lehner said Aug. 7.

 

 

 

 

A key criticism of the Pentagon’s ground-based midcourse missile defense system scheduled for deployment next fall is that an attacker could employ countermeasures, such as decoys that look like a warhead...

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