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Press Releases

U.S. Imposes More Proliferation Sanctions

Wade Boese

The Bush administration in September continued to show that it would not be shy about sanctioning entities suspected of proliferation activities, levying penalties against a Russian entity and a Chinese firm, as well as sanctioning the Chinese government.

Since taking office, the administration has aggressively imposed sanctions at a rate about triple that of the Clinton administration. (See ACT, July/August 2003.) Including these latest sanctions, Washington has penalized foreign companies and individuals 23 separate times this year alone.

On Sept. 16, the United States announced that the Russian firm Tula Design Bureau would be prohibited from receiving aid, signing contracts, or trading in military equipment with the U.S. government for one year due to its sale of advanced conventional weapons to Iran.

Three days later, Washington announced that the Chinese firm China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO) would be barred for two years from trading in missile-related goods with the U.S. government because of unspecified missile proliferation activities. The firm will also be prohibited from shipping any items it produces to the United States.

Both the Russian and Chinese companies are repeat offenders. Tula Design Bureau was last sanctioned in September 2002, but NORINCO has already been sanctioned twice this year.

The Bush administration also decided to sanction the Chinese government. Beijing will be barred from importing any goods appearing on the export control list of the 33-member Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) for two years if the import is for China’s development or production of electronics, space systems and equipment, or military aircraft. The MTCR control list includes missiles, their subsystems and components, and related technologies. Similar sanctions were imposed on the Chinese government in September 2001.

The administration also had the option of penalizing the Kremlin but decided not to. In its public statement, the administration explained that providing aid to the Russian government was “important to the national interests of the United States.”

 



 

 

 

The Bush administration in September continued to show that it would not be shy about sanctioning entities suspected of proliferation activities, levying penalties...

U.S. Refuses to Lift Sanctions Against Libya

Paul Kerr

Citing concerns about Libya’s pursuit of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the United States will continue bilateral sanctions on Tripoli despite the UN Security Council’s Sept. 12 decision formally to lift similar decade-old sanctions.

The UN sanctions were initially imposed in 1992 in response to the bombings of a Pan Am flight en route from London to New York in 1988 and a French flight over Niger in 1989. The sanctions were lifted by a 13-0 vote, with the United States and France abstaining, after Libya agreed to take formal responsibility for the attacks and compensate the families of the Pan Am flight victims.

The UN had suspended the sanctions in 1999 after Libya handed over two officials for trial in the Pan Am bombing and following France’s acknowledgement that Libya cooperated with French officials investigating the 1989 bombing.

Department of State deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said Washington abstained from the UN vote because it did not want action on the resolution “to be misconstrued as a decision to modify” U.S. bilateral sanctions on Libya and because the Bush administration has concerns about Libya’s “pursuit of weapons of mass destruction” as well as “other aspects” of the country’s behavior, including its poor human rights record and “history of involvement in terrorism.”

The United States maintains a series of sanctions against Libya that prohibit a wide range of economic activities. Under the 1996 Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, the United States can punish foreign companies for providing goods or services that contribute to Libya’s ability to acquire chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons.

In recent months, the Bush administration has stepped up allegations that Libya is trying to obtain weapons of mass destruction. During a Sept. 16 hearing before the House International Relations Committee, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton identified Libya as one of four “rogue states”—along with Iran, North Korea, and Syria—attempting to “acquire or develop WMD and their means of delivery.” In what could be construed as a veiled threat, Bolton in April said the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq should signal to Libya that “the cost of [its] pursuit of weapons of mass destruction is potentially quite high...the determination of the United States…to keep these incredibly dangerous weapons out of the hands of very dangerous people should not be underestimated.”

That said, so far Libya’s WMD capabilities appear to be relatively modest. In February, CIA Director George Tenet told Congress that “Tripoli has been able to increase its access to dual-use nuclear technologies” since the 1999 suspension. (See ACT, March 2003.) An April CIA report to Congress covering the first half of 2002 expresses concern over “Libya’s continued interest in nuclear weapons” since the UN sanctions were suspended in 1999. A 2001 Pentagon report, however, assesses that “Libya has made little progress” on its nuclear program because the program “lacks well-developed plans, expertise, consistent financial support, and adequate foreign suppliers.”

Additionally, the CIA assesses that Tripoli is seeking to “acquire” the capability to develop and produce biological weapons agents. The Pentagon report states that the suspension of UN sanctions will improve “Libya’s ability to acquire biological-related equipment and expertise” but Libya’s biological weapons program “has not advanced beyond the research and development stage.”

The CIA report also states that Libya appears “to be working toward an offensive [chemical weapons] capability” and has “reestablished contacts with sources of expertise, parts, and precursor chemicals abroad” since the UN sanctions were suspended.

According to the Pentagon report, Libya maintains an “aging Scud missile force,” and the missiles are probably poorly maintained and their operational status “questionable.” Tripoli will probably be able to build a medium-range ballistic missile “with continued foreign assistance,” the CIA warned.

Libya has ratified the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and the Biological Weapons Convention and subscribes to the Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation. It has not signed the Chemical Weapons Convention.

A Libyan official denied the country is attempting to develop weapons, according to a Sept. 15 report from Jana, Libya’s official news agency.

 



 

 

 

Citing concerns about Libya’s pursuit of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the United States will continue bilateral sanctions on Tripoli despite...

U.S. Shows More Flexibility in North Korea Talks

Paul Kerr

With another round of six-party talks concerning the North Korean nuclear crisis likely to take place, the Bush administration has signaled new flexibility in its bargaining position. Although U.S. policy is still far from fully formed, the biggest change appears to be that the United States will not insist that North Korea completely dismantle its nuclear facilities before Washington addresses some of North Korea’s concerns. Instead, Department of State officials say, they are looking at a step-by-step approach to reduce tensions.


Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sept. 22 that future multilateral discussions are likely, and officials from South Korea, Japan, Russia, and China—the other participants in the recent talks held in Beijing—have all expressed support for another round.

North Korea, however, has been ambivalent. An Aug. 30 statement from the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) indicated that Pyongyang was uninterested in further six-party talks. But a Sept. 2 agency statement reaffirmed Pyongyang’s “will to peacefully settle the nuclear issue…through dialogue.”

Subsequent North Korean statements have argued that future six-party talks will not be useful unless Washington changes its “hostile policy” of threatening a military attack and economic strangulation. Pyongyang officials have repeatedly demanded that the two countries conclude a non-aggression treaty before Pyongyang destroys its nuclear weapons program.

Pyongyang’s ambivalence toward future talks stems from its aversion to U.S. demands that North Korea dismantle its nuclear program before addressing any of North Korea’s concerns. Indeed, the United States has repeatedly insisted that North Korea dismantle its nuclear program as a necessary—although not necessarily sufficient—condition for improved bilateral relations.

North Korea contends that the United States continued to articulate this position during the Beijing talks. (See ACT, September 2003). However, a senior State Department official insisted during a Sept. 4 press briefing that the U.S. delegation actually displayed more flexibility than the North Koreans claim and that Pyongyang’s statements seemed “pre-scripted” rather than responsive to the actual discussions.

The official said the U.S. presentations were “different in tone and in content” from those made during talks with North Korea in Oct. 2002 and this past April. The official added that the U.S. delegation “made clear that we are not seeking to strangle North Korea…we can sincerely discuss security concerns in the context of nuclear dismantlement, and...we are willing to discuss a sequence of denuclearization measures with corresponding measures on both sides.” The United States did not specify what measures it would take, the official said.

This account of the U.S. position is somewhat consistent with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s Aug. 29 statement that all parties had reached a “consensus” to solve the nuclear crisis “through synchronous and parallel implementation.” However, a Sept. 1 statement from the South Korean government said there were “sharp differences” between the two sides, and Wang told reporters the same day that—despite his earlier comments—Washington’s policy is the “main problem” preventing diplomatic progress.

Pyongyang’s Proposal

During the talks, North Korea reiterated and elaborated on its solution for resolving the standoff. According to an Aug. 29 KCNA statement, North Korea proposed a step-by-step solution, calling for the United States to conclude a “non-aggression treaty,” normalize bilateral diplomatic relations, refrain from hindering North Korea’s “economic cooperation” with other countries, complete the reactors promised under the 1994 Agreed Framework, resume suspended fuel oil shipments, and increase food aid. In return, North Korea would dismantle its “nuclear facility,” as well as end missile testing and export of missiles and related components.

North Korea made a similar proposal during a round of trilateral talks held in Beijing in April. A Sept. 10 KCNA statement also said that Pyongyang would discuss verification measures for any agreement “only after the U.S. drops its hostile policy.”

“Nuclear facility” appears to refer to its plutonium-based nuclear reactor frozen under the Agreed Framework—the agreement that defused the first North Korean nuclear crisis by providing North Korea with heavy fuel oil and two proliferation-resistant light water reactors in exchange for freezing its plutonium-based nuclear facilities. An August KCNA statement denied U.S. charges, first made during a bilateral meeting in Oct. 2002, that North Korea possesses a uranium-enrichment program—another method for producing fuel for nuclear weapons.

A Compromise?

Following meetings with Bush and Powell in early September, South Korean Foreign Affairs-Trade Minister Yoon Young-kwan said in a statement that the United States would probably go to the next round of talks with a proposal that would likely address North Korea’s security concerns. Powell said in August that the United States could support some form of written security assurance to North Korea, although he ruled out a nonaggression treaty.

Although State Department spokesman Richard Boucher Sept. 5 said the United States is not “going to grant inducements to North Korea to change its behavior,” a State Department official interviewed by ACT Sept. 24 said Washington is “looking at a sequence of steps” toward North Korean dismantlement. The senior State Department official stated Sept. 4 said North Korea would not “have to do everything before they would hear anything.”

Still, U.S. policy is clearly in flux. For example, the senior State Department official said Washington has not “completely decided” on procedures for verifying any North Korean agreement. And although Bush said in May that the United States “will not tolerate” a nuclear-armed North Korea, the administration has not said how it will respond to North Korea’s producing nuclear weapons. Powell stated during a Sept. 22 interview with Business Week that the United States will say “Gee, that was interesting” if North Korea test nuclear weapons, contending that North Korea would only conduct such a test to “scare the international community.”

State Department Spokesman J. Peter Ereli said Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly is to meet his counterparts from South Korea and Japan Sept. 29-30 to coordinate their North Korea policies.

A Nuclear Doctrine?

North Korea articulated the circumstances under which it would use nuclear weapons in a Sept. 1 KCNA statement, which describes Pyongyang’s “nuclear deterrent” as “defensive,” adding that its weapons will “remain unused” unless another country “provokes” it. North Korea does not intend to sell its nuclear weapons or provide them to terrorists, the statement adds.

North Korea told the U.S. delegation during the April talks that it had nuclear weapons and made a veiled reference to testing them. According to the senior State Department official, during the August talks the North Korean delegation threatened to test nuclear weapons or “demonstrate the means that they would have to deliver” them—an apparent reference to their missiles. The Sept. 2 statement warned that North Korea “will have no option but to increase its nuclear deterrent force” if the United States does not change its policy.

KEDO’s Future

Meanwhile, Bush agreed Sept. 14 to waive the restrictions on funding to the Korean Peninsula Development Organization (KEDO), the U.S.-led consortium that is building the reactors under the Agreed Framework. Congress had prohibited funding KEDO unless Bush determined “that it is vital to the national security interests of the United States.” Bush’s decision provided “up to” $3.72 million for KEDO’s administrative expenses—not for the actual reactors, which the United States has never funded.

U.S. allies have opposed scrapping the reactor project. Minister Yoon said Seoul favors a “temporary suspension” of the project, as opposed to terminating it, according to a September press release.
Decisions about the reactor project’s future would be made at a KEDO Executive Board meeting, but no meeting has been scheduled, a KEDO official said during a Sept. 24 interview.

A North Korean Proposal

The following is the keynote speech given by Kim Yong II, North Korea’s vice minister of foreign affairs, at the six-party talks in Beijing Aug. 27. It is the most detailed account to date of what the North Koreans proposed, and appeared in an article published by KCNA, the state-run news agency:

For a package solution, the U.S. should conclude a non-aggression treaty with the D.P.R.K., establish diplomatic relations with it, and guarantee the economic cooperation between the D.P.R.K. and Japan and between the north and the south of Korea. And it should also compensate for the loss of electricity caused by the delayed provision of light-water reactors [LWRs] and complete their construction.

For this, the D.P.R.K. should not make nuclear weapons and allow the nuclear inspection, finally dismantle its nuclear facility, put on ice the missile test fire, and stop its export.

According to the order of simultaneous actions, the U.S. should resume the supply of heavy-fuel oil and sharply increase the humanitarian food aid while the DPRK should declare its will to scrap its nuclear program.

According to this order, we will allow the refreeze of our nuclear facility and nuclear substance and monitoring and inspection of them from the time the U.S. has concluded a nonaggression treaty with the DPRK and compensated for the loss of electricity.

We will settle the missile issue when diplomatic relations are opened between the DPRK and the U.S. and between the DPRK and Japan. And we will dismantle our nuclear facility from the time the LWRs are completed.

First, the DPRK and the U.S. should make clear their will to clear up bilateral concerns.
The DPRK will clarify its will to dismantle its nuclear program if the U.S. makes clear its will to give up its hostile policy toward the DPRK.

Second, all the countries participating in the six-way talks should agree on the principle to implement the measures for solving the nuclear issue between the DPRK and the U.S. through simultaneous actions.

If our reasonable proposal is turned aside at the talks, we will judge that the U.S. does not intend to give up its attempt to stifle the DPRK by force at an appropriate time while persistently insisting the DPRK “scrap its nuclear program first” to waste time.

In this case, the DPRK cannot dismantle its nuclear deterrent force but will have no option but to increase it. Whether the nuclear issue will be settled or not depends on the U.S. attitude.

In His Own Words

The following are excerpts from the first public comments made by Charles L. “Jack” Pritchard, former special envoy for negotiations with North Korea, since he resigned from the State Department in late August (prior to the Beijing talks) over the Bush administration’s approach toward North Korea. The comments were made during a Sept. 8 press briefing at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.:
“I’ll start off by saying…the prospects for success, unless the format is slightly altered, are very grim. [T]he six-party formulation is in fact the right one. Multiparty internationalization of the issue, particularly on the nuclear issue, is the right track to take…The change that has to occur is putting in the component of a true bilateral engagement between the United States and North Korea....
“What is required is a sustained involvement by the United States with North Korea. Does that mean that we’re going to resolve the problem bilaterally? No. We’re going to lay the ground work that will put it back into the six-party format….But it cannot occur without a sustained and serious dialogue between the United States and North Korea. You cannot get to the point where you understand who your opponent is at the negotiating table unless you have had continuous contact with them over a period of time….
“[I]t’s going to be very difficult to trust any arrangements that are made with the North Koreans. But the alternative is not acceptable. Allowing the North Koreans to become a declared nuclear weapons state, testing the nuclear weapons, and potentially having the ability to transfer the technology or the weapons is not acceptable. Nor is not negotiating acceptable….
“Rather than the drive-by meetings that occur, where we roll down the window and we kind of wave to the North Koreans and then move on, we’ve got to have a full-time negotiator who can do the coordination with North Korea, do the coordination of our policies with our allies Japan and South Korea on a continuous basis, and touch base with the Chinese and the Russians….”

 

 

 

 

 

With another round of six-party talks concerning the North Korean nuclear crisis likely to take place, the Bush administration has signaled new flexibility in its bargaining position. 

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...

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