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

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

Iraq Again Rejects 1284 While Pressures Build on Sanctions

Matthew Rice

AMID GROWING INTERNATIONAL concern about the humanitarian situation in Iraq, Baghdad reiterated its rejection of the UN Security Council's new weapons inspection organization, the United Nations Monitoring, Inspection and Verification Commission (UNMOVIC), which was created last December under Resolution 1284. On February 10, Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan declared, "The so-called inspection teams would not be allowed to return to Iraq because we rejected spies entering under such cover," according to the official Iraqi News Agency.

The statement was made during the visit of Russian envoy Nikolai Kartuzov, former ambassador to Iraq, who reportedly attempted to persuade Iraq to accept the Security Council mandate. Russia, Iraq's strongest ally on the Security Council, had previously stated that its abstention from voting on Resolution 1284 relieved it of the obligation to ensure its full implementation.

In a flurry of interviews over the next few days, Nizar Hamdoon, undersecretary of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry, was slightly more conciliatory than Ramadan. "Compromise will only be done when the council itself gets engaged with Iraq in a discussion," Hamdoon told the CNN on February 11.

UN officials did not appear concerned by the Iraqi statements, noting that Hans Blix, the newly appointed executive chairman of UNMOVIC, has yet to begin work. "There isn't an inspection mechanism up and functioning at the moment, knocking on the door, asking to go into Iraq," said John Mills, associate spokesman for the office of the UN secretary-general. Once Blix assumes his post on March 1, he will have 45 days to submit an organizational plan for UNMOVIC to the secretary-general and the Security Council.

Sanctions Regime Targeted

The profile of the humanitarian crisis in Iraq was raised this month when two high-level UN officials in charge of administering the humanitarian program in Iraq resigned. Hans von Sponeck, UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, and Jutta Burghardt, Iraq representative for the World Food Program, both announced their resignations in mid-February, complaining that improving the lives of Iraqis was impossible under the continuing sanctions regime. Von Sponeck also announced his intention to submit a report detailing the impact of the continuing U.S.-British bombing operations on the Iraqi people. A February 1999 report on the same subject brought harsh criticism from the United States, which accused von Sponeck of blindly accepting Iraqi statistics.

In the United States, 70 congressmen sent a letter to President Clinton on February 1 urging him to "de-link" military and economic sanctions on Iraq, noting that they have "failed to remove Saddam Hussein from power or even ensured his compliance with his international obligations, while the economy and people of Iraq continue to suffer." State Department spokesman James Rubin dismissed the suggestion that the sanctions were to blame. "They should direct their concern and their blame-casting at the Iraqi regime, which refuses day after day, time after time, to spend its hard currency helping its own people," he said.

The United States also dismissed suggestions, reported in The Washington Post on February 25, that the growing international attention and domestic pressure was pushing the administration to reconsider its hard line on dual-use imports. In its role on the UN sanctions committee, which reviews and may refuse Iraqi import requests, the United States has often denied Iraq's applications for dual-use items. "We are working constantly on using the oil-for-food program to provide humanitarian relief…. We will not clear what we view as dangerous dual-use products to Iraq. That policy has not changed; that policy is not under review, as is our sanctions policy not under review," White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said.

Proliferation Threats Continue, Administration Officials Says

Matthew Rice

OFFERING THE GRIM assessment that proliferation threats will continue to grow, several senior administration officials visited Capitol Hill in early February to discuss a wide range of security issues facing the United States. While addressing many potential dangers, their reports gave special attention to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), with an emphasis on the spread of ballistic missile technology. Vice Admiral Thomas R. Wilson, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, testified February 2 before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that "the prospects for limiting proliferation are slim, and the global WMD threat to U.S. allied territory, interests, forces and facilities will increase significantly."

In addition to Wilson, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet and J. Stapleton Roy, assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research, also appeared before the committee February 2 to present their annual reports. Robert Walpole, national intelligence officer for strategic and nuclear programs, testified before the Senate Subcommittee on International Security, Proliferation and Federal Services on February 9.

According to their testimony, U.S. conventional military dominance is likely to remain unmatched in the foreseeable future, even with declining defense budgets. But the U.S. advantage may only intensify proliferation trends as "many potential adversaries believe they can preclude U.S. force options and offset U.S. conventional military superiority by developing WMD and missiles," Wilson explained.

The Intelligence Community's Nonproliferation Center further outlined the threat in its biannual report to Congress, also released in early February. According to the report, Iran has continued to develop an infrastructure for chemical and biological weapons production, the latter aided by contacts within the former Soviet Union. While there is no direct evidence that Iraq has begun rebuilding its WMD programs, the report noted recent construction activity at sites destroyed during Operation Desert Fox indicates that Iraq is "likely" doing so. The report also said that Libya and Syria have continued chemical-weapons-related procurement activities, though UN sanctions have limited those efforts.

Missile Proliferation Emphasized

The combined threat assessments agreed that the prospect for long-range ballistic missile use against the United States, while growing, remains low. Strong relationships with the United States and the U.S. deterrent make a Russian or Chinese ICBM attack "unlikely," Roy explained. The U.S. deterrent may also constrain programs in the so-called "rogue" states. "Given the credibility of U.S. retaliatory capabilities in the face of any nuclear attack on the American homeland, we would assign the North Korean threat to a tertiary level," Roy said. However, in his testimony, Walpole noted that over the next 15 years North Korea, Iran and potentially Iraq could emerge as long-range missile threats.

More likely in the short to medium term would be an attack by an alternative delivery mechanism, which, until long-range programs became more robust, would have the advantage of lower cost, greater accuracy and an increased ability to effectively disseminate chemical or biological agents, Walpole said. But alternative delivery means are not likely to prevent continuing efforts to develop long-range missiles given their unique ability to "provide a level of prestige, coercive diplomacy and deterrence that non-missile means do not." Walpole argued that missiles designed for such reasons would not need to be deployed in large numbers and would have reduced requirements for accuracy and reliability, potentially cutting the time needed for development and deployment.

The North Korean and Iranian programs were given special attention. With continued aid from Russian and Chinese entities, Iran's missile program in particular could approach self-sufficiency in the coming years, according to the Nonproliferation Center report. In addition, its Shahab-3 program, a medium-range ballistic missile with a reach of 1,300 kilometers, has achieved what the report termed "emergency operational capability"—the ability to deploy a limited number of delivery vehicles in a crisis situation.

North Korea continued work on its Taepo Dong-2 intermediate-range ballistic missile, though a testing freeze negotiated with the United States remained intact. Chinese entities continued to provide raw materials and missile components in aid of this program. According to Roy, while the North Koreans have agreed to a freeze, they have yet to clarify the terms by which they would be willing to give up missile export activities, which have continued, particularly to countries in the Middle East.

While Iraq was designated the least likely of the three to deploy an ICBM within the next 15 years, the Nonproliferation Center report noted that its Al-Samoud ballistic missile, legally pursued under a UN-imposed range limit of 150 kilometers, could be reconfigured for a range of 180 kilometers. The report further explained that "once economic sanctions against Iraq are lifted, Baghdad probably will begin converting these efforts into longer range missile systems, unless restricted by future UN monitoring."

In addition to progress in these programs, Tenet warned of the emergence of "secondary suppliers"—countries that have long relied on imports of technology and expertise for the development of their own missile programs may begin to export their own knowledge and indigenously produced missiles or missile components. In the near term, this would likely be confined to the provision of shorter-range missiles and related materials. But as domestic infrastructures mature, longer-range delivery vehicles could be exported as well. Iran, for example, might be able to supply not only domestically produced Scuds, but the more advanced Shahab-3 as well, Tenet said.

Strategic Threats and NMD

For the foreseeable future, Russia and China will remain the only powers with the ability to accurately and reliably target U.S. cities with weapons of mass destruction, but the size and sophistication of their arsenals may vary depending on developments in their economies and their relationship with the United States, the officials concurred.

While the efficacy of missile defenses was not discussed, potential reactions to their deployment were mentioned. Roy noted that while "the aggregate nuclear-armed ICBM threat against the United States is declining dramatically" due to arms control obligations and Russian economic woes, "this situation could change for the worse if Moscow (and secondarily, Beijing) concluded that the United States was pursuing interests in fundamental conflict with their own." Altered threat perceptions could prompt Russia to halt nuclear reductions at or above 2,000 deployed warheads instead of the 1,500 it has suggested as a START III level.

Roy said that China could use multiple re-entry vehicles to triple its existing ICBM arsenal, which currently consists of about 20 Dong Feng-5 ICBMs, but Walpole added that China was not expected to do so in the near future. Roy also warned of a harsh reaction to U.S. missile defense plans. "The most serious potential threat to the United States would be Chinese military action, possibly in response to a perceived U.S. challenge to vital PRC interests…includ[ing] implementation of a robust theater missile defense system that nullified Chinese deterrence or included Taiwan," he said.

In addition, the deployment of missile defenses could spur trade in missile decoys and penetration aids. Russia and China would probably be willing to sell such technology, Walpole noted, and currently existing technologies could allow new proliferants to deploy countermeasures by the time that they flight test their missiles.

Clinton Again Relaxes Export Controls on Supercomputers

Matthew Rice

AMID GROWING INTERNATIONAL CITING TREMENDOUS ADVANCES in the computing industry and potential economic and security benefits to the United States, President Clinton announced a relaxation of licensing requirements for the export of high-performance computers (HPCs) on February 1. The changes make it possible for exporters to ship computers that have greater processing power without first obtaining a license from the Department of Commerce. The last change in HPC export control policy, which entered into force January 23, was announced last July. (See ACT, July/August 1999.)

The restrictiveness of HPC export controls is determined by a four-tier system based on the perceived threat posed by the country of the target end-user. Tier 1 countries, which include Canada, Mexico and Western European countries, are subject to very little control, while the United States retains a virtual embargo on HPC exports to Tier 4 countries, which include Iran, Iraq and North Korea. Tier 2 includes South Korea and most states in South and Central America, Africa and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and require licenses for only very high-level systems. Tier 3 encompasses countries of proliferation concern-such as India, Pakistan, China, the former Soviet states and Middle Eastern nations including Israel-and is subject to stricter constraints for both civilian and military end-users.

The newly updated regulations move Romania from Tier 3 to Tier 2 and change the HPC performance levels, measured in millions of theoretical operations per second (MTOPS), that determine licensing requirements for exports to civilian and military end-users in Tier 2 and Tier 3 countries. Exports of HPCs exceeding these defined performance levels require licenses subject to a national security review process coordinated by the Department of Commerce. For Tier 2 countries, the licensing threshold will rise from 20,000 MTOPS to 33,000 MTOPS. The licensing threshold for Tier 3 countries will rise from 12,300 MTOPS to 20,000 MTOPS for civilian end-users and from 6,500 MTOPS to 12,500 MTOPS for military end-users. Export restrictions to Tier 4 countries were not changed.

Changes in export controls regarding Tier 3 countries are subject to a six-month waiting period for congressional review. In the February 1 announcement, the administration asked that period be shortened to one month. Jake Siewert, White House deputy press secretary, explained that what the United States "would like to see is legislation that shortens that waiting period.... We want to make sure that when we make decisions, they move as quickly as the market." President Clinton made a similar request, which Congress ignored, in July 1999.

Another review of current controls, which will investigate the utility of distinguishing between civilian and military end-users, is set to begin in April.

CD Starts 2000 Session Stalemated

Despite a blunt January 18 opening plenary address from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan exhorting the 66-member Conference on Disarmament (CD) to "search for compromises in a spirit of flexibility," the first weeks of the conference's 2000 session proved a continuation of last year's deadlock. Persisting member differences over negotiating priorities, most significantly between China and the United States, blocked a work program agreement, which is required for actual negotiations to begin.

Annan, whose statement was delivered by CD Secretary-General Vladimir Petrovsky, said 1999 marked a "deplorable lack of progress" for disarmament. Though acknowledging the CD deadlock reflected "a wider and disturbing stagnation in the overall disarmament and non-proliferation agenda," Annan urged the conference to show a "real sense of urgency." He emphasized that the upcoming nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference in April, currently "shrouded in uncertainty," would stand a better chance of succeeding if the conference could make tangible progress, such as starting negotiations.

However, the current CD president, Austrian Ambassador Harald Kreid, said consultations with delegations revealed that conditions for starting work had not improved in recent months. He also observed that the conference, which operates by consensus, had "mastered the art of dithering, delaying, side-stepping and circumvention" during the past three years.

For much of that period, nuclear disarmament has been the primary hurdle. The Group of 21 (G-21) non-aligned states, led by India and Pakistan, linked negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty, which is the priority of the United States and the so-called "Western group," with the start of talks on a timebound framework for nuclear disarmament, which is opposed by all nuclear-weapon states except China. But in 1999, the G-21 relaxed its linkage, and the Western and Eastern groups, including Russia, accepted the idea of informal discussions for exchanging views on nuclear disarmament within an ad hoc working group. However, the precise language of a working-group mandate satisfactory to all has yet to be agreed upon.

In response to increased U.S. national missile defense activities, the prevention of an arms race in outer space emerged last year as the key conference issue. The United States singularly objected to negotiations on the subject, while China was the leading supporter.

At the close of the 1999 session and during the past few months, Washington has declared its willingness to show flexibility on the outer space issue. Yet U.S. officials have made clear that flexibility does not include formal outer space negotiations, but rather informal discussions, such as an ad hoc working group.

In its first statement to the 2000 conference on January 27, China stressed that the outer space issue, including the prohibition of anti-ballistic missile systems, remained its top priority, and that the CD should establish an ad hoc committee on outer space. Hu Xiaodi, China's permanent representative to the UN in Geneva, also called for "serious multilateral negotiations" on nuclear disarmament.

The conference did manage to approve its standard agenda on January 18-a perfunctory step required before a work program can be decided upon-opening seven broad topics for negotiation (though the conference president noted that any issue with consensus could be addressed during the session). The CD will break for its first recess on March 24 and then resume on May 22.

U.S. Issues Chemical Industry Regulation

On December 30, the Commerce Department issued regulations specifying procedures for submitting U.S. chemical industry declarations under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), effectively ending over two years of technical U.S. non-compliance with the 1997 treaty. Full U.S. cooperation with the convention's industry provisions, however, is likely to be complicated by several stipulations made by the department that may delay inspections by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the treaty's implementing body.

The new regulations require civilian U.S. facilities that produce, process, consume, import or export toxic chemicals or precursors covered by the CWC to submit initial declarations of their activities to the Commerce Department by March 30. They must also allow the OPCW to conduct verification activities on their grounds. The declarations will be transferred to the OPCW via the State Department, the "national authority" responsible for coordinating U.S. implementation of the CWC, which issued its own set of regulations dealing with issues such as sample-taking during inspections and enforcement provisions.

The CWC requires states-parties to destroy all their chemical weapons within 10 years and to declare civilian chemical facilities to the OPCW. Chemicals covered by the treaty are divided into three "schedules," based on the relative possibility of their being used in weapons. The United States expects to submit its industry declarations to the OPCW for Schedule 1 (the highest "risk" category) and Schedule 2 facilities by April 28, three years after the convention's entry into force, and inspections are expected to begin in May. It will submit declarations for Schedule 3 facilities and unscheduled-chemicals facilities at a later date.

The regulations' publication was the culmination of years of delay and bureaucratic wrangling between U.S. agencies. Even though initial industry declarations were due by July 1997 (three months after the CWC's entry into force), the Clinton administration failed even to sign national implementing legislation until October 1998. That action was eventually followed up with a June 1999 executive order requiring U.S. agencies to draft implementing regulations. (See ACT, June 1999.) Draft regulations were published in July and issued after comments were received in August.

The long delay in U.S compliance has taken its toll on the OPCW's operations. Expecting U.S. declarations at an earlier date, the OPCW had scheduled industry inspections in the United States for 1999. When it became apparent that these inspections would not occur, the OPCW rescheduled some of them to take place in other countries, generating resentment among other states-parties, who objected to the fact that their chemical industries were subject to more inspections than U.S. facilities.

Problems Persist

The fact that the regulations have cleared the way for industry inspections does not mean OPCW dealings with the United States will now proceed smoothly. Washington plans to send a host team-consisting of officials from the Commerce Department, the FBI and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency-to accompany each OPCW inspection team. The Commerce Department, claiming budget shortfalls and insufficient staffing, is not planning to host nearly as many industry inspections as the OPCW wants to conduct. Furthermore, citing concerns over the protection of commercial proprietary information, the department is not planning to support sequential industry inspections or industry inspections that occur within one week of each other. Also, the department does not intend to host more than one OPCW team at a time.

The Commerce Department has contacted the OPCW on its plans, which threaten to seriously slow the pace of already-delayed U.S. industry inspections and will most likely cause concern by other states-parties that have become frustrated with U.S. implementation practices. The OPCW has made no public comment on U.S. plans.

U.S. Wants Strengthened CCW Landmines Protocol

At the first annual conference of states-parties to the amended landmines protocol (Protocol II) to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), the United States proposed strengthening protocol restrictions on the use of landmines, particularly anti-vehicle mines, and developing measures to resolve charges of non-compliance. The initiatives generated little reaction at the conference, held December 15-17 in Geneva, but Washington hopes to build support for the proposals before a 2001 CCW review conference.

The amended protocol, which was adopted in May 1996 and entered into force in December 1998, differs from the 1997 Ottawa Convention banning the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel landmines (APLs), in that the protocol considers mines to be legal weapons. For that reason, some countries, including the United States, China and Pakistan, subscribe only to the protocol. U.S. policy is that it will sign the Ottawa Convention in 2006 if it can successfully identify and field suitable alternatives to its APLs and mixed anti-tank systems (a combination of anti-vehicle and APL devices).

Specifically, the amended protocol outlaws non-detectable APLs and prohibits non-self-destructing and non-self-deactivating APLs unless planted in monitored, perimeter-marked areas. Exporting mines to non-states-parties is proscribed, as is the use of mines that detonate in response to mine detectors and those that have anti-handling devices that remain active after the mine itself deactivates. Restrictions also apply to remotely delivered mines, such as those delivered by aircraft and artillery.

Current protocol requirements that mines be detectable and that remotely delivered mines have self-destructing or self-deactivating mechanisms apply only to APLs. At the conference, the United States proposed expanding these same criteria to anti-vehicle mines.

In addition, the United States called for increasing the "reliability" of the self-destruction and self-deactivation mechanisms on remotely delivered mines. Current technical specifications set a standard that only one in 1,000 mines can remain active after 120 days. Washington wants to raise this failure standard to one in 10,000.

Lastly, the United States proposed adopting a "regular procedure," including the possibility of on-site inspections, for handling non-compliance allegations. Rather than create a formal secretariat, the United States suggested a process similar to that in the Ottawa Convention. Under Ottawa, countries may raise compliance questions with the UN secretary-general, who can call for a meeting of states-parties, which can then authorize a fact-finding mission.

Charges of non-compliance were made at the conference. Canada accused Russia, a signatory, of indiscriminately using landmines in Chechnya-to such an extent that Russian mines were reportedly scattered in Georgia. Canada also sought clarification on reports that Pakistan, a state-party, attempted to sell mines to a private citizen in Britain. Pakistan, in a December 17 statement, reaffirmed its commitment to the protocol's export moratorium.

While voicing hope that having two APL instruments, the amended protocol and Ottawa, is a "temporary situation," Canada, which wants all countries to join Ottawa, endorsed improving the protocol's anti-vehicle mines and compliance provisions. Of the current 47 states-parties to the amended protocol, 42 are Ottawa states-parties or signatories.

Ottawa states-parties-now totaling 90 out of 137 signatories-are required to destroy stockpiled APLs in four years and all APLs in 10 years, though a renewable 10-year extension can be sought. On December 20, France joined a growing list of countries, including Canada, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Germany and the United Kingdom, that have completed destroying their stockpiles more than three years ahead of schedule.

UN Security Council Says 'No' to Ekeus, Agrees on Blix to Head UNMOVIC

A quarreling United Nations Security Council finally came to a consensus on an executive chairman to lead the newly created UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspections Commission (UNMOVIC), unanimously supporting the nomination of Hans Blix, former director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. representative to the UN and the council's acting president, made the announcement January 26, ending an impasse over the previous nominee, Rolf Ekeus.

The selection of an executive chairman was the first step toward implementation of the most recent Security Council resolution on Iraq. Resolution 1284, adopted unanimously but with key abstentions by Russia, China and France, authorized the creation of UNMOVIC to replace the embattled UN Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) while promising relaxation of economic sanctions for demonstrated Iraqi cooperation. (See ACT, December 1999.)

The January 17 nomination of Rolf Ekeus, former head of UNSCOM, concluded a grueling month of consultation between UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and members of the Security Council over the selection of an agreeable candidate. A UN source said that "lacking consensus on any of the 25 names submitted to the Security Council, the secretary-general nominated the man that he felt was the best for the job." As its executive chairman from 1991-1997, Ekeus directed the lion's share of UNSCOM's identification and destruction of prohibited weapons activities in Iraq.

The Ekeus nomination was short-lived, however. Representatives from Russia, China and France each registered their disapproval of Annan's choice. Noted Qin Huasun, China's permanent representative to the UN, "Candidates from developing countries, who may be better positioned to convince Iraq to cooperate with the council, should be given more attention and consideration." Other members offered less explanation for their opposition. Sergey Lavrov, the Russian representative, stated simply, "The Russian Federation cannot agree with the proposal." Overriding concerns appeared to be a desire to make a clean break from UNSCOM and the likelihood of an Iraqi refusal to cooperate with an UNMOVIC headed by Ekeus.

U.S. officials derided the notion of an "Iraqi veto" over the process, expressing strong support for the confirmation of Ekeus as late as January 24. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, criticizing council resistance, said, "We consider Ambassador Ekeus as so qualified, as somebody who knows the issues very well...and has the respect of the international community."

The Security Council never officially rejected Ekeus, but in subsequent discussions Blix emerged as a compromise acceptable to all sides. With his announcement of the nomination, Holbrooke made clear that the U.S. supported the Blix nod: "As the American representative, let me make clear that we are pleased with his nomination. We think he is an excellent choice." Holbrooke also emphasized that council unanimity should push Iraq closer to cooperation instead of the "very dangerous and ultimately self-damaging role" that it has played in the past.

Hans Blix, longtime Swedish diplomat, headed the IAEA from 1981 to 1997 and has extensive first-hand experience with the Iraq problem, having overseen the first six years of IAEA investigations into Iraq's nuclear program at the conclusion of the Persian Gulf War. During his tenure, the IAEA came under fire after the discovery of an extensive Iraqi crash program to build nuclear weapons that had gone undetected by annual IAEA inspections before the war. The IAEA safeguards system has since been strengthened.

Blix's first task is to develop an organizational plan for UNMOVIC and prepare to begin work in Iraq within 45 days after officially assuming his role as executive chairman. Important decisions will need to be made about the composition of the UNMOVIC team and the degree to which it will rely on the expertise of former UNSCOM staff. Perhaps the most challenging hurdle will be to outline the commission's work plan and the key disarmament tasks for Iraq to address before UN sanctions can be lifted. Because each step requires the approval of the Security Council, the battle over UNMOVIC's executive chairman may foreshadow additional struggles as the fledgling organization attempts to define itself.

In addition, though Iraq is legally obligated to comply with Resolution 1284, UNMOVIC's work ultimately depends on Iraqi accession to additional inspections. While Iraq did not condemn Blix with the same ferocity that it rejected the nomination of Ekeus, Iraqi UN Representative Saeed Hassan immediately dismissed the possibility of change in the Iraqi position. "Devil or angel, the new chairman will not change much.... This resolution is not implementable, is not working and will not work," he said. Iraq has long demanded a lifting of sanctions as a prerequisite to future cooperation with disarmament teams.

Iraq Accepts IAEA Inspection Team

However, Iraq did allow the first inspections of any kind since the U.S. and British airstrikes in December 1998, granting an IAEA inspection team access to Iraqi nuclear facilities from January 22-25. As a party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Iraq has agreed to allow annual inspections of its declared nuclear facilities to ensure compliance with the treaty's prohibitions on nuclear weapons programs. A source close to the UN emphasized that there was no connection between Iraqi acceptance of limited IAEA nuclear inspections and the broader question of accepting UNMOVIC's more intrusive mandate.

The inspection team visited the Iraqi nuclear site at Tuwaitha, a facility containing low-grade nuclear material that housed uranium enrichment and reprocessing facilities prior to the Gulf War. The IAEA reported that Iraq "provided the necessary cooperation for the inspection team to perform its activities effectively and efficiently," but noted that the limited nature of its mandate under the NPT Safeguards Agreement "cannot serve as a substitute for the IAEA's activities under the relevant Security Council resolutions."

A 1997 IAEA report to the Security Council stated, "There are no indications that there remains in Iraq any physical capability for the production of amounts of weapon-usable nuclear material of any practical significance."

Russia Adopts New Security Concept

IN A SWEEPING 21-page document that addresses a range of internal problems and highlights perceived international threats, Russia appeared to lower its threshold for the use of nuclear weapons. The new national security concept, which Acting Russian President Vladimir Putin signed January 10, is intended to "more distinctly outline the definition of a multipolar world and the way Russia will work on safeguarding national interests," according to Sergei Ivanov, secretary of Russia's Security Council. (See excerpts of the concept.)

The document, which replaces the security concept adopted in December 1997, will be complemented by a soon-to-be-finalized military doctrine currently circulating within the Russian government. The new military doctrine will supercede the present one, which was adopted in 1993, and will reportedly elaborate on and clarify Russian defense guidelines, including those concerning the use of nuclear weapons.

Updated Nuclear Posture

While the 1997 national security concept allowed the first use of nuclear arms only "in case of a threat to the existence of the Russian Federation," the new concept states that nuclear weapons may be used to "repulse armed aggression, if all other means of resolving the crisis have been exhausted." This more relaxed condition for the use of nuclear weapons appears to be a response to the decline of Russian conventional forces, which has accelerated in recent years because of Russia's economic troubles.

NATO's effective use of high-precision weapons in Yugoslavia last spring and Russia's recent difficulties in Chechnya have emphasized the weakness of Russia's conventional forces. "Russia, for objective reasons, is forced to lower the threshold for using nuclear weapons, extend the nuclear deterrent to smaller-scale conflicts and openly warn potential opponents about this," Colonel General Vladimir Yakovlev, head of Russia's Strategic Rocket Forces, stated recently in an interview with the Russian newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda.

Last summer, in what appears to have been a dress rehearsal for the new nuclear posture, Russia announced that it had conducted strategic "war games" that simulated a conventional NATO attack on an isolated part of Russian territory. In the exercise, termed "Zapad-99," Russian conventional troops were unable to repel the NATO attack, prompting Russia to use several nuclear weapons.

Russia's threatened use of nuclear weapons to deter conventional attacks is reminiscent of NATO's use of nuclear threats during the Cold War to deter superior Russian conventional forces from invading Western Europe. NATO's most recent strategic concept, approved last April at its 50th anniversary summit in Washington, acknowledged the alliance's vastly improved conventional position and stated that "the circumstances in which any use of nuclear weapons might have to be contemplated...are therefore extremely remote." At the same time, the alliance explicitly rejected a call for a no-first-use policy and placed no specific limits on the use of nuclear weapons.

In 1982, Leonid Brezhnev, then general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, established a nuclear no-first-use policy, but Russia abandoned the posture in 1993. China has a long-standing commitment to not using nuclear weapons first; the United States, Britain and France have all consistently resisted adopting a no-first-use policy.

Russia's Relationship With the West

The new concept is striking in its repeated admission of national weakness and focuses primarily on internal issues-the economy, terrorism, separatist movements and environmental degradation-as the primary dangers to Russian society. It also identifies the United States and its allies as serious threats to Russian security. The document criticizes "attempts to create an international relations structure based on domination by developed Western countries in the international community, under U.S. leadership and designed for unilateral solutions...in circumvention of the fundamental rules of international law."

Such attitudes are symptomatic of a gradual reassessment of Russia's relationship with the West that has been spurred by a series of threatening events in the last few years, beginning with NATO expansion and followed by the U.S.-led airstrikes against Yugoslavia and recent Western criticism of Russia's military campaign in Chechnya. "Whereas in the past in the Russian security concept...it was stated that Russia has no opponents or enemies in the world, now it is clearly stated that one of the primary possible threats to Russian security and foreign policy interests is the policy of the United States," Alexei Arbatov, a member of the Russian Duma, said in a February 2 telephone briefing from Moscow.

Some analysts have attributed the new concept's confrontational posture to Putin's more hard-line stance towards the West. But the concept's early drafts were crafted and approved by the Russian Security Council under President Yeltsin (albeit in collaboration with then-Prime Minister Putin), and published in draft form last November. After review by the Russian legislature and bureaucracy, the concept was signed by Putin, reportedly with only a few minor changes. Thus, while the concept's release just prior to a presidential election is probably not coincidental, its timing is largely a function of bureaucratic process.

Russia's increased criticism of the West has not gone unnoticed in the United States, but the Clinton administration is downplaying the importance of the new national security concept. "We...do not believe that it represents a significant major departure from Russia's concept issued in 1997 or that it makes the use of nuclear weapons more likely," State Department spokesman James Rubin said in a January 19 briefing.

After Stumble, 'HEU Deal' Back on Track

ON DECEMBER 1, the United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC) dropped its threat to resign as the government's executive agent for the U.S.-Russian Highly-Enriched Uranium Purchase Agreement. USEC had threatened to back out of the so-called "HEU deal" in recent months unless the federal government provided the company with additional financial support.

USEC unsuccessfully sought as much as $200 million in federal financial aid, arguing that the deal with the Russians was imposing undue financial burdens on the recently privatized company. Administration officials responded skeptically to USEC's claims of financial hardship. The company is spending $100 million this year on dividends to its shareholders and another $100 million to buy back its own stock.

Faced with USEC's possible resignation, the administration threatened to negotiate with other companies for the management rights to the deal, potentially creating a competitor to USEC. After much protest, USEC's board voted on December 1 to continue its involvement with the program until the end of 2001, when the current phase of the deal expires. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said he was "pleased that USEC is standing by their role as our executive agent for the HEU Agreement...that is so critical to our nonproliferation goals."

Under the terms of the agreement, formalized in 1993, the U.S. government is committed to purchasing 500 metric tons of weapons-usable highly-enriched uranium (HEU) over a 20-year period from Russia, thereby securing the material and providing Russia with a ready source of capital (estimated at $12 billion) to safeguard its fissile material stockpiles and dismantled weapons systems. Russia blends the HEU down to low-enriched uranium (LEU) before shipping it to the United States, where USEC brokers its sale to utility companies for use in civilian nuclear reactors. USEC then reimburses the Russian government for both the raw uranium and for the enrichment of that material.

Under the HEU deal, USEC must pay above-market rates for Russian enrichment services. It is therefore in USEC's interest (as a profit-seeking private enterprise) to try to undermine the HEU deal in order to avoid having to fulfill its full contractual obligations. USEC has undermined the deal repeatedly. Most recently, in October 1999, the company failed to provide adequate shipping containers to Russia, slowing down Russian shipments of LEU to the United States.

NATO Ministers Skeptical of U.S. NMD Plans

THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION formally briefed NATO defense and foreign affairs ministers for the first time on the proposed architecture for a limited U.S. national missile defense (NMD) system at the alliance's annual December ministerial meetings. Led by France and Germany, many European allies expressed concerns that the proposed NMD would damage relations with Russia, endanger arms control and decouple U.S. and European security. U.S. officials reassured the allies that no deployment decision has yet been made and that allied views, among other factors, would be taken into account prior to such a decision.

With President Clinton scheduled to decide on the proposed system's location and the awarding of an initial site construction contract in July 2000, many European allies were upset to be officially consulted so late in the process. U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen, however, assured his colleagues at the NATO defense ministers meeting, held December 2-3 in Brussels, that intra-alliance discussions on U.S. missile defenses would continue. President Clinton, for his part, has repeatedly said his July decision will be based on four criteria: technological readiness, the maturity of the "rogue nation" ICBM threat, cost factors and arms control considerations.

Washington delayed formal allied consultations because of incomplete U.S. plans and a desire to first hold strategic discussions with Russia, which has strongly opposed U.S. NMD efforts. Moscow emphasizes that the proposed system would violate the 1972 ABM Treaty, which prohibits a nationwide defense or the base for such a defense and which places specific restrictions on the architecture of any missile defense, including the location of intercept launchers and radars. U.S. officials have acknowledged that the planned system would require treaty modifications. Though the United States and Russia have been holding discussions exploring possible amendment of the treaty since mid-August at the Clinton administration's insistence, Moscow has repeatedly said it will not agree to treaty changes necessary to permit the proposed NMD.

Much of the opposition to the U.S. plans stems from the fact that Russia and many of the NATO allies do not share the U.S. assessment of the need to defend against the so-called rogue nation threat, which Cohen described as "real" and likely to "intensify in the coming years as countries continue to acquire chemical, biological and nuclear capabilities." To sway allied opinion, the U.S. provided a threat briefing at the start of the defense ministers meeting based on the latest U.S. National Intelligence Estimate that warned the United States—and implicitly Europe—would likely face ICBM threats from "North Korea, probably Iran and possibly from Iraq" in the next 15 years. (See ACT, September/October 1999.)

North Korea is cited most frequently by U.S. officials as a growing threat despite a September 1999 pledge by Pyongyang to suspend ballistic missile flight tests while holding negotiations with the United States to improve relations. Though currently abiding by the pledge, North Korea is "continuing other aspects of the [ballistic missile] program," a senior American defense official said at a December 2 press conference.

Secretary Cohen, who reportedly was very frank about the role of U.S. domestic politics in pushing NMD, also sought to dispel impressions that the system is targeted at Russia. He stressed that the system, which would initially field 100 interceptor missiles, would be limited and said that "it would not undercut the Russian strategic deterrent." When questioned on whether Russia would possibly halt the strategic reduction process in response to a deployed U.S. NMD, the senior American defense official claimed that "there is nothing incompatible between our concern with the growing rogue state ballistic missile threat and continued strategic stability and the arms control process."

Some European allies, however, remained unconvinced and raised the same concerns again with Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott at the NATO foreign ministers meeting December 15-16. (Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stayed in Washington to work on the Middle East peace process.) Fears that the planned NMD would possibly spark new arms races with Russia, China or others while leaving Europe unprotected continued to top European worries.

While French President Jacques Chirac has been outspoken in his criticism of U.S. NMD plans, NATO would prefer to keep alliance differences to a public minimum. When asked to assess allied views about the proposed system after the December meetings, however, one U.S. government official admitted that "no one is enthusiastic, but no one is absolutely critical, with the exception of France."

Following the foreign ministers meeting, NATO Secretary General George Robertson noted the United States "assured the allies that it will only take decisions on a national missile defense after full consultations within NATO." Cohen stressed at the defense ministers meeting that "only one person can make the recommendation" to go forward with NMD deployment and that it would be "very much premature to speculate what will happen next year."


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