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I find hope in the work of long-established groups such as the Arms Control Association...[and] I find hope in younger anti-nuclear activists and the movement around the world to formally ban the bomb.

– Vincent Intondi
Professor of History, Montgomery College (Takoma Park, Maryland)
July 1, 2020
Press Releases

Representative Weldon, Pentagon Spar Over Proposed Nuclear Strategy

Christine Kucia

The Pentagon is seeking to block an effort by Representative Curt Weldon (R-PA) to form a Commission on Nuclear Strategy, which would offer recommendations on nuclear policy and military requirements to the secretary of defense as well as to both congressional armed services committees. In August, Weldon, the second-ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, lashed out at the Pentagon’s decision to oppose his idea and suggested that the Pentagon’s action might affect his future support for Department of Defense (DOD) proposals in Congress.

In passing its version of the fiscal year 2004 National Defense Authorization Act, the House of Representatives included a provision for forming the commission. Under the House bill, which was approved May 22, the secretary of defense must appoint 12 members—spanning a range of political, military, and technical expertise in nuclear strategy—in consultation with congressional armed services committee leaders. The group would review nuclear policy, assess a range of nuclear strategies that the United States could pursue in the coming decades, focus on strengthening relations with Russia, and discuss deterrence and military requirements for the nuclear arsenal. The commission analysis would also address the issues of missile defense, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and nuclear weapons development in other countries.

The Senate counterpart, however, contains no such provision, and members from both houses are meeting in a conference committee to reconcile the differences in legislation. The Pentagon informed conference committee members of its opposition on July 23 and pushed for the provision to be dropped from the bill. The stance was part of the “appeals package,” in which DOD outlines its positions on various aspects of the authorization bill.

Pentagon officials pointed to the expansive assessment of nuclear strategy and policy that comprised the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), which was released in January 2002, and noted that the study took into account all of the requirements that the commission would evaluate. (See ACT, January/February 2002.) In addition, the NPR called for periodic assessments by officials from the Departments of Defense and Energy and the military, the first of which will begin this year. In light of the broad range of research and development programs in the coming decade that the NPR initiated, DOD wrote, “A new review of Nuclear Strategy would therefore be both disruptive and redundant.”

The Pentagon’s opposition caught Weldon off guard, as shown by an August 14 letter he wrote to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Noting that he first learned of DOD’s disagreement with the proposed commission through press reports, Weldon criticized the department’s “lack of professional courtesy” in failing to inform him directly. He stressed that DOD’s reasoning does not take into account “Congress’ constitutional obligation to oversee the Department of Defense—a function completely separate and distinct from the Pentagon’s NPR.” Weldon also noted that more than 20 experts—including John S. Foster, who heads a commission on stockpile safety and reliability, and James Woolsey, former director of central intelligence and a participant in Rumsfeld’s 1998 commission to assess the ballistic missile threat—support the creation of a Nuclear Strategy Commission.

Weldon pointed out that DOD seems to have forgotten his efforts to support the Pentagon in previous legislative battles. He stated that, after the department “turn[ed] its back on my efforts and publicly oppose[d] my legislation without so much as the courtesy of a phone call,” he will be “hard pressed to continue to fight the Department’s battles on these issues in Congress in the future.”

His confrontation with the Pentagon might be short-lived, however. One congressional source said the conference committee faces many tough questions when it reconvenes its talks in September. According to the staffer, the Nuclear Strategy Commission is further down the list of committee priorities and lacks significant support from other members of Congress.

This dispute is not Weldon’s first confrontation with administration officials over nuclear policy. Weldon inserted himself in the middle of the crisis over North Korea’s development of its nuclear weapons capability, heading a bipartisan congressional delegation to visit the country in May and drawing up a 10-point plan of action to halt North Korea’s burgeoning production capability and bring the country into compliance with international nuclear arms control norms. (See ACT, July/August 2003.) Weldon also joined Representative John Spratt Jr. (D-SC) and other members of Congress in critiquing what they considered inadequate efforts by the Bush administration to secure and dispose of nuclear weapons and related materials in Russia, as well as calling for expanded measures to accelerate dismantlement of Russia’s weapons of mass destruction stockpiles.



 

The Pentagon is seeking to block an effort by Representative Curt Weldon (R-PA) to form a Commission on Nuclear Strategy, which would offer recommendations on nuclear policy...

Liability Concerns Jeopardize Renewal of Nonproliferation Programs

Christine Kucia

Two U.S.-Russian nuclear security programs administered by the Department of Energy (DOE) could be terminated because U.S. officials refuse to continue them under existing liability agreements that are deemed inadequate.

DOE officials insist that the liability language in the charter of the Plutonium Disposition Scientific and Technical Cooperation and the Nuclear Cities Initiative agreements—both set to be renewed this year—must “include liability provisions meeting U.S. standards,” according to a July 22 DOE press release. The same statement cited Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham: “We hope that the Russian Federation will accept our broad proposal on liability in time to allow for the extension of the Nuclear Cities Initiative Agreement,” which is set to expire September 22. The plutonium cooperation agreement lapsed July 24.

Washington insists on negotiating comprehensive liability provisions for foreign projects carried out in Russia to prevent the U.S. government and its representatives from being sued for accidents or problems that arise during the facilities’ building or operation. DOE operates an extensive array of U.S.-Russian nonproliferation programs under a variety of liability agreements. The plutonium and Nuclear Cities agreements, originally inked in 1998, contain fewer liability protections than language offered in other programs.

Bryan Wilkes, spokesman for DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration, said August 20, “We’re confident the dispute is going to be resolved because the programs are important to both countries. In the short term, this [dispute] will have no effect. But in the long term, if it goes unresolved, it will have a negative impact on the programs.” Wilkes added that, until the liability matter is settled, DOE will not start any new projects in either program.

The Nuclear Cities Initiative provides U.S. assistance to Russia to shut down former weapons production sites that comprised the core of Russia’s nuclear weapons infrastructure during the Cold War and to channel the talents of former nuclear weapons scientists and engineers into non-nuclear or civilian projects. The plutonium initiative enables U.S. and Russian scientific collaboration to help Russia dispose of excess plutonium, and the program is a key component of current efforts to establish mixed-oxide fuel facilities in both countries to begin disposing of 34 metric tons of plutonium under a September 2000 agreement. (See ACT, March 2002.)

Administration officials have sent mixed signals about each program’s future. According to the July 22 DOE statement, Abraham told Russian Atomic Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev that, despite the legal dispute, the United States intends to continue the Nuclear Cities Initiative under a provision that would allow the existing projects to continue.

Yet, State Department spokeswoman Tara Rigler told Global Security Newswire July 29 that projects under the now-expired plutonium agreement have been put on hold pending the negotiation of the liability agreement. Wilkes, however, noted August 20 that some plutonium disposition projects might continue under the auspices of the 2000 Plutonium Management and Disposition agreement. “Things are still moving forward,” Wilkes said.

In a July 22 letter to President George W. Bush, Representatives Chet Edwards (D-TX), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Ike Skelton (D-MO), John Spratt Jr. (D-SC), and Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) called for extending the nuclear security programs while continuing negotiations on liability language. They said that allowing the agreements to lapse or expire would not only jeopardize nonproliferation work in Russia but related plutonium disposition efforts in the United States as well. “The current situation raises doubts about the administration’s commitment to rapidly and effectively addressing the well-known nuclear security and proliferation concerns with Russia,” the members added.

Meanwhile, even the 2000 Plutonium Management and Disposition agreement faces questions about liability protections. Russia and the United States initially deferred liability discussions related to construction work on a facility in Russia that will process excess plutonium into mixed-oxide fuel for use in nuclear power plants—helping Russia fulfill its commitment to dispose of excess weapons-grade plutonium. A government source familiar with the issue warned that the present struggle over adequate liability provisions is the precursor to liability negotiations for building these facilities. Talks will intensify this fall because construction must begin in 2004 in order to meet the agreement’s timeline of beginning plutonium disposition in 2007. According to the source, “Russia needs to take the political decision to run its own facilities without a loophole to sue the U.S. for building the facilities.”

Administration officials point to liability provisions contained in the 1992 Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) umbrella agreement with Russia as the appropriate template for all nuclear nonproliferation programs. The Russian Duma, however, has not agreed to the liability requirements outlined by the United States, which would govern a large portion of U.S. threat reduction activities in Russia, so the umbrella agreement is considered provisional by the governments. Other nonproliferation program agreements negotiated after the CTR umbrella agreement did not contain the same strong liability provisions outlined in the CTR program.

Despite the dispute, other U.S.-Russian threat reduction programs operated by the Energy Department are moving forward. The United States and Russia negotiated access arrangements for a U.S. project to help shut down the last three of Russia’s plutonium-producing reactors in the closed nuclear cities of Seversk and Zheleznogorsk, the Energy Department announced July 17. Under the program, fossil fuel facilities will be constructed to replace the reactors, which still provide electricity to Russian residents and businesses in the region. After the fossil fuel plants are brought online beginning in 2008, the two countries will shut down the plutonium reactors. (See ACT, April 2003.)


 

Two U.S.-Russian nuclear security programs administered by the Department of Energy (DOE) could be terminated because U.S. officials refuse to continue them under existing...

Blair Faces Fight Over Intelligence on Iraq

Kerry Boyd-Anderson

While the Bush administration faces congressional hearings on the use of prewar intelligence on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, across the Atlantic, British Prime Minister Tony Blair is fighting for his political future as questions arise over the failure to find any clear evidence of chemical or biological weapons in Iraq.

The recent controversy revolves around a dossier Blair released in September 2002 detailing Iraq’s alleged efforts to continue developing biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons. Blair cited Iraq’s pursuit of such weapons as the primary justification for the U.S. and British invasion of that country. The dossier was approved by the Joint Intelligence Committee, which includes the heads of the British intelligence agencies and provides assessments to the prime minister.

Although some skeptics questioned the dossier’s claims from the beginning, the current row began in early June when the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) quoted “a senior British official” saying that Blair’s office had revised the September dossier “‘six to eight times.’” In particular, the unnamed official criticized the prime minister’s office for including information in the report—“Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction: The Assessment of the British Government”—claiming that Saddam Hussein’s military planning would allow for some of his chemical and biological weapons “to be ready within 45 minutes of an order to use them.” According to the BBC, the official said the intelligence services had not included that statement in the original draft because of doubts about its reliability.

The debate over the September dossier follows earlier disclosures about another report released in February on Iraq’s attempts to deceive inspectors. That dossier included 12-year-old information copied from a thesis by a U.S. graduate student.

Blair has forcefully denied that his office tampered with the evidence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction programs or that there is any serious breach between the intelligence community and the Cabinet.

In response to concerns over the use of intelligence by the Blair government, the Intelligence and Security Committee and the Foreign Affairs Select Committee are launching investigations. Opposition leaders also called for an independent inquiry, expressing concern that the two committees would not be objective. The Intelligence and Security Committee, in particular, reports to the prime minister, who decides whether to make the committee’s reports public. The opposition, however, lost a June 4 vote to hold an independent inquiry 301-203. Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith also asked Blair to release the original dossier that the Joint Intelligence Committee provided before it was publicly released in September; Blair has so far refused to do so.

Blair has offered full cooperation with the investigation by the Intelligence and Security Committee, promising to provide the committee with all Joint Intelligence Committee reports and to publish the parliamentary committee’s final report. Blair insists that more time is necessary to uncover weapons of mass destruction in Iraq but that they will be be found.

 

While the Bush administration faces congressional hearings on the use of prewar intelligence on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, across the Atlantic...

Radioactive Materials Discovered in Thailand, Georgia

Christine Kucia

Police in Thailand and Georgia recently apprehended suspects possessing radiological materials, reinforcing international concern about the availability of the building blocks for “dirty bombs.”

Authorities in Thailand apprehended Narong Penanam on June 13 after the police, tipped off by U.S. investigators, seized a substance in an undercover sting operation that the suspect claimed was uranium. Tests later showed the material was cesium-137, which, if paired with a conventional explosive, could be used to make a radiological weapon, or “dirty bomb,” that could spread radioactive debris over a wide area.

U.S. and Thai authorities have been working together since October 2002, after preliminary reports surfaced about the possible sale of weapons-grade uranium in Asia, according to a June 13 Homeland Security Department press release. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge called the sting operation “an outstanding example of international cooperation in disrupting the proliferation of radiological material.”

The suspect claimed that he procured the material from a source in neighboring Laos and expected to net as much as $240,000 from selling it. U.S. officials told The New York Times that the seized quantity of cesium—initially reported to weigh around 66 pounds—may have originated in Russia.

Loose radioactive material was also found in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, according to a June 16 Reuters article. Georgian police found containers of cesium-137 and strontium-90, as well as nerve gas concentrate, in a Tbilisi taxi cab May 31, and they arrested the taxi driver and two other suspects. Like cesium-137, strontium-90 is a radioactive isotope that could be used to make a dirty bomb. According to Givi Mgebrishvili, spokesman for the Georgian Interior Ministry, “The most likely version is that the containers were intended to be transported on to Turkey and to be resold,” Reuters reported.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has worked with Georgian authorities since 1997 to secure radioactive materials and dispose of abandoned equipment containing such materials, often found at Soviet-era military installations. They have not always been successful: In June 2002, for example, IAEA and Georgian authorities failed to find two strontium-90 thermoelectric generators known to have been abandoned in western Georgia.

The agency has documented over 280 incidents worldwide since 1993 involving the illicit trafficking of radioactive material, and in March over 120 countries met to discuss the problem. (See ACT, April 2003.)

 

 

Police in Thailand and Georgia recently apprehended suspects possessing radiological materials, reinforcing international concern about the availability of the building blocks for “dirty bombs.”

U.S. Military Did Not Use Landmines in Iraq War

IWade Boese

In ousting Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq, the U.S. military employed many weapons systems but not landmines. Nearly 150 countries have forsworn anti-personnel landmines (APLs) through the Ottawa Convention, but the United States had reserved the right to use them. (See ACT, April 2003.)

U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) Public Affairs reported June 5 that U.S. forces did not use or deploy any APLs in Iraq. CENTCOM later added that U.S. forces also chose not to use anti-vehicle mines or mixed systems, which have both anti-vehicle and anti-personnel components. When it led a coalition to evict Iraqi forces from Kuwait a dozen years ago, the U.S. military used approximately 118,000 landmines.

No treaty barred any country from using landmines in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. In 1997, however, some 90 countries negotiated the Ottawa Convention, which bans the use, production, stockpiling, and transfer of anti-personnel landmines and certain mixed systems.

Although the United States refused to sign the accord, many of its key allies, including the United Kingdom and Australia, became states-parties. These two countries made it clear before their participation in this year’s invasion of Iraq that their militaries would not use APLs.

CENTCOM did not offer any reason for why landmines were not used. One explanation might have been a desire not to constrain U.S. and allied mobility on the fast-moving Iraqi battlefield.

According to CENTCOM, U.S. forces did suffer some casualties from Iraqi landmines. Like the United States, Iraq was not bound by the Ottawa Convention.

The Bush administration is currently conducting a review of U.S. landmine policy. President Bill Clinton pledged in May 1998 that the United States would end the use of APLs outside Korea by 2003 and sign the Ottawa Convention by 2006. Clinton tied the latter to the Pentagon successfully developing and fielding alternatives to APLs and mixed systems by that time.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), a longtime landmine critic, said in an April 10 speech that the fact that U.S. forces defeated the Iraqi military in a few weeks, apparently without using landmines, is more proof that “landmines without a man-in-the-loop should have no future in U.S. war fighting plans.” Landmines with a man-in-the-loop system, which are permitted by the Ottawa Convention, require somebody to detonate them deliberately as opposed to ones that explode just by the contact or proximity of a person.

 

 

In ousting Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq, the U.S. military employed many weapons systems but not landmines.

U.S. Pushes Initiative to Block Shipments of WMD, Missiles

Wade Boese

The United States is banding with select countries to clamp down on suspected shipments of weapons of mass destruction, ballistic missiles, and related technologies around the globe. The initiative is in its formative stages, but its focus is convincing other countries to be more aggressive in stopping vessels and confiscating cargo within existing law rather than creating new international laws.

President George W. Bush unveiled the evolving U.S. effort, deemed the Proliferation Security Initiative, in a May 31 speech in Poland. Bush said the United States and its allies would pursue new agreements under the initiative to “search planes and ships carrying suspect cargo and to seize illegal weapons or missile technologies.”

John R. Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, testified at a June 4 congressional hearing that “legal, diplomatic, economic, military and other tools” would be used to pursue the interdiction mission.

The United States is initially limiting the countries it is recruiting for the initiative, but Bush said the United States would seek to “extend this partnership as broadly as possible.” U.S. officials began shaping the effort at a June 12 meeting in Madrid with their counterparts from 10 other participating countries—Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

The new initiative grew from the administration’s frustration over a December 2002 incident in which Spanish forces, acting in concert with the United States, stopped a North Korean shipment of short-range ballistic missiles but ended up letting the ship and its cargo go because they lacked a legal rationale for confiscating the missiles. (See ACT, January/February 2003.) In addition, the missile buyer, Yemen, which Washington sees as an important country in its war on terrorism, complained strenuously. “That was not the favorite moment” of the administration, a senior Bush administration official told reporters May 31.

Yet, it is unclear to what degree the new initiative will enable the United States to avoid a repeat of its December disappointment. The U.S. initiative, at this time, is not aimed at creating or changing international law. Instead, it is focused on determining what actions are possible within existing domestic law of participating countries.

Future interdictions will still be limited to locations where countries participating in the initiative have jurisdiction or are granted the authority to act. Stopping a ship and seizing its cargo in international waters will still require the consent of the country where the vessel is registered.

The senior Bush administration official explained, “And so one of the things we need to do with the countries that are interested is to decide what authorities we need for actions inside territorial waters, inside national airspace, at ports, in the air, to get things done.”

A U.S. Coast Guard official familiar with the initiative said June 17 that its primary purpose is to motivate participating countries to use existing law, authorities, and capabilities better and more actively to tackle weapons proliferation. The goal is to “identify gaps” in current practices and address them, the official said.

After their Madrid meeting, the countries participating in the initiative stated that they would “assess existing national authorities” to see what interdiction measures are possible. They are expected to share their findings at another meeting, perhaps as early as July.

A Democratic congressional aide said in a June 13 interview that the initiative will be a “useful tool but inadequate” if confined to enhancing the individual national authorities of a coalition of the willing. Such moves will do little to stop unwanted trade passing through international airspace or waters, the aide explained.

Proliferators could also seek to shield their exports and imports by restricting their trade as much as possible to the territory of countries not participating in the initiative. Many critical countries, such as North Korea’s neighbors China and Russia, are outside the initiative.

A European diplomat whose country is participating in the initiative said June 10 that there are known proliferation routes and chokepoints that can be targeted. Presumably, the United States will seek to enlist countries that are located along these routes or that serve as major international trade hubs or facilitators. For example, roughly 11 percent of registered cargo ships in 2002 flew the Panamanian flag, according to Lloyd’s Register, an independent organization that compiles shipping statistics used by the International Maritime Organization.

Countries must still work out the specifics of the initiative, although the European diplomat stated it did not involve “reinventing the wheel” but strengthening existing instruments. Another European diplomat said the same day that the initiative would be aimed at closing current proliferation loopholes. Both indicated that the general concept underlying the initiative has been under discussion for months and, in many ways, is already being carried out.

In his June 4 testimony, Bolton noted that, within the past two months, two separate shipments of goods believed to be destined for North Korea’s weapons programs had been seized. Bolton identified France and Germany as stopping one of the deals but did not specify which country or countries acted in the other.

 

The United States is banding with select countries to clamp down on suspected shipments of weapons of mass destruction, ballistic...

U.S. Courts Allies to Contain North Korea, Talks Lag

Paul Kerr

As the United States continues to insist that it seeks a peaceful solution to the North Korean nuclear crisis, recent statements from high-level officials indicate that Washington plans to push forward with a strategy of containment. No negotiations have been held between the two countries since April, and on June 9 North Korea explicitly declared for the first time that it is pursuing a nuclear weapons capability.

A U.S. containment strategy would aim to impede North Korea’s trade in items that provide Pyongyang with hard currency that could then be used to support its weapons programs. John Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, identified “remittances” from foreign organized crime networks, as well as the sale of ballistic missile components and illegal drugs, as sources of North Korean hard currency during a June 4 hearing before the House International Relations Committee.

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said in a June 9 press briefing that preventing North Korea from acquiring hard currency would “restrict the…movement of the regime” and perhaps induce North Korea to give up its nuclear program. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz argued during a May 31 conference in Singapore that North Korea “is teetering on the edge of economic collapse” and that this weakness “is a major point of leverage” for the United States and its allies. Other countries in the region should threaten to cut off aid to North Korea if it does not change policies the United States finds objectionable, he added.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said in a June 11 press briefing that the United States has been consulting with Japan and Australia on specific measures to stop North Korean illicit trade but emphasized that no decisions on interdiction have been made. South Korea participated in similar discussions with the United States and Japan, according to a joint statement following a June 13 meeting of the Trilateral Coordination and Oversight Group (TCOG). Japan has taken a first step toward enhancing interdiction, increasing port inspections of North Korean ships traveling between the two countries, Japan’s Minister of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport Chikage Oogi said in a June 10 press conference.

The effort to contain North Korean trade policy is related to the Bush administration’s recently announced Proliferation Security Initiative—a broader U.S. effort to prevent proliferation by persuading other countries to interdict the transfer of weapons of mass destruction and related technologies. Australia and Japan are members of the initiative, but China and South Korea are not. (See ACT, July/August 2003.) Secretary of State Colin Powell said June 17 that he believes that sufficient pressure can be brought to bear on North Korea even without China’s help.

There is concern among experts, however, that the containment strategy taking shape will not protect the United States from North Korea’s nuclear program—at least not for the immediate future. When asked if a containment policy provides a short-term solution to the nuclear crisis, Wolfowitz conceded that it does not but added that he did not think any other solution would be effective in the short term.

North Korea called the planned U.S. interdiction policy “little short of a sea blockade” and a “war action” in a June 18 statement from the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). North Korea also denied that it conducts illicit commerce, saying specifically that it would not sell nuclear material or missiles to terrorist organizations.

Dialogue?

Despite its moves to strengthen the containment of North Korea, the United States maintains that it wants to “have multilateral talks” with Pyongyang that include Japan and South Korea, Armitage said in a June 20 press briefing. In a June 9 KCNA statement, Pyongyang reiterated that it would be willing to participate in multilateral negotiations but insisted that it first hold bilateral talks with Washington.

The United States and North Korea last held formal discussions in April that included China. During the trilateral talks, which took place in Beijing, North Korea told the United States that it possesses nuclear weapons, threatened to transfer them to other countries, and made a veiled reference to nuclear testing, according to U.S. officials. (See ACT, April 2003.)

The April talks were the first since the nuclear crisis started last October. At that time, according to the United States, North Korean officials told a U.S. delegation during a meeting in Pyongyang that North Korea was pursuing a uranium enrichment program in violation of several nuclear agreements, including the 1994 Agreed Framework. The situation escalated for months, and in January North Korea announced its withdrawal from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). [See sidebar below.]

It is not known whether North Korea possesses nuclear weapons, but Powell said June 9 that the United States believes North Korea has “some small number of nuclear weapons.” The uranium enrichment program is being designed to produce two weapons per year. (See ACT, June 2003 and April 2003.) Additionally, U.S. officials have said that North Korea can develop five or six nuclear weapons within months if it reprocesses several thousand spent-fuel rods it has. Despite reports that in April North Korea claimed to have begun reprocessing its spent fuel, a State Department official interviewed June 24 said the United States does not know the status of Pyongyang’s reprocessing efforts.

The official also confirmed that Washington continues to insist that Pyongyang verifiably dismantle its nuclear program before President George W. Bush will undertake his self-described “bold approach,” which U.S. officials have said involves “economic and political steps” to help North Korea and to improve relations between the two countries. The official explained that the Bush administration may initiate these steps if North Korea gives up its nuclear program, but that issues such as human rights, missiles, and conventional forces would still have to be addressed.

North Korea continues to reject the U.S. stance on negotiations. A June 18 KCNA statement stated that this policy, combined with Washington’s efforts to increase pressure on Pyongyang, is an attempt to “contain” the country “with ease after forcing it to disarm itself.” The statement also explained North Korea’s view that such attempts at disarmament are a prelude to war, citing the invasion of Iraq in March as proof.

Increasing its rhetoric even further, North Korea stated in a June 9 KCNA statement that it would “build up a nuclear deterrent force” if the United States “keeps threatening [North Korea] with nukes instead of abandoning its hostile policy toward Pyongyang.” Although the statement did not say that North Korea possesses nuclear weapons, it marked the most explicit public statement from North Korea on the issue. The statement nevertheless maintained that a North Korean nuclear force would not be aimed “to threaten and blackmail others.”

U.S. officials have said that in April North Korea offered to eliminate its two nuclear programs and halt its missile exports if the United States complied with a list of demands which, according to a South Korean official, included the resumption of heavy-fuel oil deliveries, the completion of the reactors promised under the Agreed Framework, the “normalization of relations” between the two countries, and an “assurance of non-aggression.”

North Korea referenced its April proposal in the June 9 statement and indicated that it would “clear up” U.S. concerns about its nuclear program if Washington “drops its hostile policy toward” North Korea—a reference to what North Korea perceives as U.S. attempts to weaken its economy and threaten its security with both nuclear and conventional forces.

Meanwhile, Washington is renewing its efforts to persuade the UN Security Council to adopt a Security Council president’s statement condemning North Korea’s actions, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said June 20. A U.S. official interviewed that same day said that the United States has informally circulated a draft among the Security Council’s members.

The official added that China continues to oppose the statement because it does not believe the timing is right and wants to know more about the U.S. “game plan” for resolving the situation. (See ACT, April 2003.) Beijing continues to encourage dialogue and support a negotiated settlement to the nuclear crisis, a foreign ministry spokesperson said in a June 17 press briefing. (See ACT, June 2003.)

South Korea and Japan also continue to support a diplomatic solution to the crisis, but a joint press conference held June 7 between Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun revealed that the two leaders continue to differ somewhat in their approaches to North Korea. Koizumi stated that “dialogue and pressure are necessary for the diplomatic…solution,” according to a June 7 Agence France Press report, but Roh said that Seoul places “more emphasis on dialogue.”

Indeed, Seoul proposed a negotiating strategy with North Korea during the TCOG meeting, apparently similar in many respects to North Korea’s April proposal. According to a June 17 Joongang Ilbo article, the South Korean plan suggests “step-by-step measures,” requiring North Korea to verifiably dismantle its nuclear program, end missile exports, and continue its missile-test moratorium. In return, Pyongyang’s demands for security assurances, economic assistance, normalized relations, and the resumption of heavy-fuel oil shipments that had been part of the Agreed Framework would be addressed.


North Korea’s Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Status

Although North Korea announced its withdrawal from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) on January 10, Pyongyang’s status within the regime has yet to be formally determined.

Some states have argued that because North Korea did not cite or explain what “extraordinary events” led to its January 10 announcement, as required by the treaty, its withdrawal is invalid. A requisite three-month waiting period ended without comment on April 10, and a meeting of the remaining 188 NPT member states in late April did not confront the issue directly. (See ACT, June 2003.) The treaty’s depositories—Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—have not arrived at a decision about how to address North Korea’s withdrawal, prolonging the holdup of a formal announcement of North Korea’s treaty status.

Sources indicated that the depository governments are unwilling to expend bureaucratic time and energy on the question. One Western diplomat stressed, “It’s important to focus on what the North Koreans are actually doing” and leave the question of its NPT status aside for the moment. According to another source close to the issue, if the biggest problem—getting Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons ambition—is solved, North Korea could again be compliant with NPT standards, thus rendering the question of withdrawal moot.

-Christine Kucia

As the United States continues to insist that it seeks a peaceful solution to the North Korean nuclear crisis, recent statements from high-level officials indicate...

Congressional Delegation Visits North Korea to Ease Tension

Jonathan Yang

A bipartisan delegation returned June 3 from a rare trip to North Korea convinced that a negotiated solution could be found to the current tension over Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

The delegation considered its purpose to put “a human face on the U.S.” rather than to represent the administration, according to Representative Curt Weldon (R-PA), a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee and the leader of the delegation. Representatives Solomon Ortiz (D-TX), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), Jeff Miller (R-FL), and Joe Wilson (R-SC) were also members of the delegation. Weldon added that the delegation’s trip was “extremely worthwhile” and “positive,” with discussions covering a variety of issues with North Korean officials, including allegations of drug trafficking, weapons of mass destruction, ballistic missile testing and sales, and Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

Trying to gauge whether diplomacy could solve the current tensions with Pyongyang, Weldon presented a 10-point plan of action to Kim Gye Gwan, North Korean vice foreign minister and the appointed leader for negotiations on this issue, and received an encouraging response. In a June 25 speech at the 50th anniversary celebration of the U.S.-South Korean alliance, Weldon emphasized that the plan was not an attempt to negotiate, and the vice minister understood that the points were Weldon’s personal ideas and were not endorsed by the U.S. State Department. However, the vice minister’s extremely positive response provided encouragement that official negotiations could provide a solution—after hearing the plan, Kim “smiled and said that it was ‘exactly what we’re looking for,’” recalled Weldon.

In his June 25 speech, Weldon described his 10-point plan as a two-phase solution. Initially, the United States, its allies and North Korea would pursue five points of action. These included the United States entering into a one-year nonaggression pact with the North Korean government and officially recognizing that government. Pyongyang would “officially renounce its entire nuclear weapons and research programs” and rejoin the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). The United States and its allies would also provide an economic aid package to help North Korea’s economy and its citizens.

The second phase would occur at the end of one year or another agreed upon time period, contingent on the successful completion of the other points in phase one, including complete nuclear transparency and ratification of the NPT by North Korea. This phase proposes an additional five points of action. Pyongyang would join the Missile Technology Control Regime and agree to establish a plan for improving humanitarian rights in North Korea. The United States would enter into a permanent nonaggression pact and establish interparliamentary relationships to work with North Korea’s legislature on a variety of issues. Finally, a multinational threat reduction program would attempt to remove all nuclear weapons, materials, resources, and capabilities from North Korea within two years.

With the sense that a diplomatic solution exists, Weldon is now focused on encouraging Pyongyang to drop its opposition to multilateral talks. He plans to meet in New York City with North Korea’s UN ambassador, Song Ryol Han, to discuss this issue.

 

A bipartisan delegation returned June 3 from a rare trip to North Korea convinced that a negotiated solution could be found to the current tension over Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

Bush Okays $3 Billion Aid Package to Pakistan,

Rose Gordon

President George W. Bush is asking Congress to approve a five-year $3 billion security and development aid package to Pakistan, half of which would go to “defense matters.”

Bush announced his plan while meeting with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf at Camp David June 24.

Prior to September 11, 2001, U.S. aid to Pakistan had shriveled considerably in response to Islamabad’s development of nuclear weapons. Yet, since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the White House has elevated Pakistan to the status of a key U.S. ally in the war on terror, leading to a significant increase in both military and economic aid to the South Asian nation. This was Musharraf’s fourth visit to the United States since September 11, 2001.

A senior Bush administration official, however, cautioned that the aid is dependent on whether Pakistan meets the expectations of the White House by countering terrorism and proliferation and enacting democracy. “I’m not calling those conditions, but let’s be realistic; three years down the road, if things are going badly in those areas, [the aid package is] not going to happen,” the official said in a press briefing shortly after Bush and Musharraf’s joint press conference at Camp David.

Concern that Pakistan might be aiding the proliferation of other non-nuclear-weapons states grew this March, when Pakistan’s nuclear weapons laboratory, Khan Research Laboratories (KRL), was sanctioned by the United States for missile-related technology from North Korea. Some press reports suggested that North Korea had traded the missile technology to KRL in exchange for nuclear technology from the laboratory, although the State Department later denied such reports. (See ACT, May 2003.)

The senior official said that Musharraf assured Bush during their private meeting that he fully understood the U.S. view on proliferation, and he had also made a commitment not to have any “military-related” contact with North Korea. Musharraf also reiterated the Pakistani stance that such allegations against KRL were false during a speech at the U.S. Institute of Peace the day after his meeting with Bush. He added that Pakistan has “never proliferated,” nor will it ever do so.

The two leaders also discussed relations between Pakistan and India, including Kashmir and a recent peace initiative by Indian Prime Minister Atal Vajpayee. (See ACT, June 2003.) Bush said he “stand[s] by, ready to help” the peace process between India and Pakistan but that, ultimately, “the decision-makers will be the Pakistani government and the Indian government.”

Bush denied Islamabad’s long-standing request for the transfer of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, saying that they would not be a part of this aid package. In 1990, Washington halted the delivery of 28 F-16s it had previously promised to Pakistan, citing Islamabad’s inability to meet U.S. requirements that it did not have a “nuclear explosive device.” Pakistan was later reimbursed for the undelivered jets.

The senior official added that the United States is “perfectly willing to consider” upgrading the F-16s Pakistan already possesses but that Pakistan has many other defense needs that need to be met before new F-16 sales are taken up.

 

 

President George W. Bush is asking Congress to approve a five-year $3 billion security and development aid package to Pakistan, half of which would go to “defense matters.”

Western Governments Assess Nonproliferation Measures

Christine Kucia

The Group of Eight (G-8) and the European Union (EU) issued declarations in June supporting the potential use of force against countries that do not comply with nonproliferation regimes, reflecting a growing concern over Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear programs. The declarations also emphasized international commitment to efforts to secure and destroy weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

At the G-8 summit, held June 1-3 in Evian, France, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States issued a declaration describing WMD proliferation as “the pre-eminent threat to international security.” The statement noted that G-8 member states place a high value on diplomatic nonproliferation tools, such as inspections, export controls, and treaties. But the statement also indicated support, if necessary, for “other measures in accordance with international law,” a phrase that implies the use of force.

A senior U.S. official told the Associated Press June 3 that the United States interprets the statement—which includes strong condemnations of Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear activities—to mean that the G-8 condones the use of force against countries that violate nonproliferation regimes. French President Jacques Chirac, however, took exception to that interpretation, calling it “extraordinarily far-fetched,” and asserted, “There was never any question of using force against anyone in any area,” Reuters reported June 3.

Soon after the Evian meeting, EU heads of state met June 19-20 in Thessaloníki, Greece, and endorsed a statement titled “Basic Principles for an EU Strategy Against Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction.” Citing the international security threat posed by the spread of WMD and related materials, they professed the need for a “broad approach” to address the problem, which could include “coercive measures under Chapter VII of the UN Charter and international law.” The statement notes that the use of force by EU member states “could be envisioned.”

EU diplomats agreed that, although the statement represents a departure from previous declarations, they must keep all options open to deal with nonproliferation threats. Despite its strong dissent earlier in the month regarding the interpretation of the “other measures” that the G-8 leaders had sanctioned, the French government says it supports the EU’s endorsement of using force in extreme circumstances. “Traditional nonproliferation approaches have their limits. This new strategy is a way to expand the means available to countries,” said Martin Briens, political counselor with the French Embassy in Washington. Another Western official noted that the declaration “clearly shows our commitment to the use of force—as a last resort.”

The G-8 Partnership

At their meeting, the G-8 leaders also reviewed the first year of the Global Partnership Against the Spread of WMD, in which the United States pledged up to $10 billion—an amount to be matched by G-8 and other partner states—over the next 10 years to help safeguard and dispose of Russian weapons and radiological materials. (See ACT, July/August 2002.) A G-8 report on the partnership’s progress to date noted that although several obstacles to implementation, such as Russian tax issues, are being resolved, others, such as liability protection for foreign contractors, still remain. And while noting that many countries have undertaken bilateral projects with Russia to dismantle decommissioned submarines, dispose of fissile material, or destroy chemical weapons, the report stressed that “sustained and broadened efforts will be needed.”

The report also applauded efforts to solicit new donors to the partnership, and the United States announced June 2 that Finland, Norway, Poland, Sweden, and Switzerland had joined the assistance effort, which was first laid out at the 2002 G-8 Summit in Kananaskis, Canada. Additionally, an “action plan” endorsed at the Evian meeting indicated the partnership intends “to enter into preliminary discussions with new or current recipient countries…that are prepared to adopt the Kananaskis documents, as the Ukraine has already done.” Rozanne Oliver, U.S. State Department senior policy coordinator for the partnership, noted, “It was the intent all along to be open to recipients from other countries.” Although Ukraine’s application was not acted upon at this meeting, Oliver said, “The Global Partnership will be looking at this issue more after the initial phase.”

G-8 states also discussed the task of securing radioactive sources that could be used to develop a “dirty bomb,” the focus of a meeting the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had hosted in March. (See ACT, April 2003.) G-8 leaders endorsed the findings of that meeting, which advocated enhanced national controls and stepped-up international measures to secure radioactive materials, particularly those that have been abandoned, and they agreed to support the IAEA’s programs to do so. France offered to host another international conference in 2005 to assess the IAEA’s progress and discuss new strategies to tackle the problem.

 

The Group of Eight (G-8) and the European Union (EU) issued declarations in June supporting the potential use of force against countries that do not comply with...

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