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former Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration
March 7, 2018
Missile Proliferation

Evaluating the Latest Iranian ICBM Threat Assessment



Issue Brief - Volume 1, Number 2, May 6, 2010

In search of new insights into the nuclear dangers posed by Iran, the press and pundits have latched onto a single sentence found in the Pentagon's April 2010 congressionally-mandated assessment of Iran's military power: "With sufficient foreign assistance, Iran could probably develop and test an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the United States by 2015."

Unfortunately, the 2015 date has been repeatedly quoted without qualifying language or context, leading many casual commentators to suggest erroneously that the report warns of the emergence of an Iranian ICBM sooner than previously projected. For example, The Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes in a Fox News Special Report on April 22 stated: "And now we have this report that says they were wrong about how soon...an Iranian missile could reach the United States."

A careful examination reveals that the Pentagon's latest report does not contradict recent "worst case" assessments of Iran's ICBM potential. In fact, the same exact language was used in the April 2009 "Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat" Report of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center.

Nor is the Pentagon's new assessment inconsistent with President Obama's emphasis last fall on responding to the more immediate threat emerging from Iranian medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) when he announced his plan to re-focus U.S. missile defense deployments in Europe. The latest annual "Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions" (covering calendar year 2009) by the intelligence community judged that: "producing more capable MRBMs remains one of [Iran's] highest priorities."

Looking back over the previous decade, the only significant change made in estimating Iran's ICBM timeline has been to lengthen it. As Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Lt. Gen. James Cartwright acknowledged in August 2009, the U.S. government had previously assumed the Iranian ICBM threat "would come much faster than it did."

An Unreliable Clock

Fixating on the 2015 date in the Pentagon report is even more inappropriate because of the flawed linguistic formulation surrounding it. First, to declare that Iran could probably develop and test an ICBM by 2015 "with sufficient foreign assistance" is to rob the date of any significance. If the foreign assistance were sufficient, then Iran could certainly develop and test an ICBM by 2015, but such a self-evident construct does not convey useful insight. Although the flight test milestone is said to be dependent on foreign assistance, little information is provided to permit evaluation of this dependency.

The Pentagon report does not elaborate on what kind of assistance has been received, whether and by whom it is still being provided, and what the prospects are for Iran obtaining "sufficient assistance" in the future. The intelligence community's latest WMD Technology Acquisition Report specifically mentions that Iran had received assistance from "entities in China and North Korea, as well as assistance from Russian entities at least in the past." However, the Pentagon report mentions only that "Iran has received assistance from North Korea and China." The absence of a reference to Russia is potentially significant, considering earlier intelligence assessments that an Iranian ICBM was likely to be based on Russian help.

A second logical flaw is the report's use of "could probably." This word pair obscures the issue of probability. Does it mean there is a ten percent chance or a 60 percent chance of a test in 2015? In traditional intelligence estimate usage, "could" refers to lower probability events, which cannot be ruled out, while "likely to" or "will probably" refers to the analysts' best guess of what will happen.

A third problem derives from the lack of a definition for the phrase, "develop and test." How successful does the test have to be to signify that the milestone has been reached? Is it more than an attempt resulting in the missile exploding on the launch pad? Is it less than a flight test delivering a warhead to a distant target area?

Iran's current ability to deliver conventional warheads on short- and medium-range missiles is a known and very concrete threat to the region. The ability of Iran to deliver nuclear weapons at intercontinental distances in 2015 is a "worst case" theoretical construct. Based on the meager and imprecise level of information provided by the Pentagon report, we have little reason to regard the latter as a likely contingency.

Déjà vu?

This is not the first time important qualifiers in intelligence assessments have been omitted from public commentary. One critical component of the leading "Key Judgments" in the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraqi WMD was: "if left unchecked, [Iraq] probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade."

Hardly anyone noted in absorbing and later recalling this warning that Iraq was already under serious "checks" in the form of sanctions at the time of the estimate's release and it fell under even more severe constraints two months later with passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1441 and the return to Iraq of international weapons inspectors. We now know that Iraq's nuclear reconstitution capabilities were actually deteriorating at the time of the NIE's publication, and in retrospect can even see in the language of the flawed estimate reasons to doubt its conclusion that Iraq's nuclear clock was again ticking. Unfortunately, qualifying language and caveats were overlooked by press and policy-makers in the lead-up to war.

What Motivates Iran's Regime?

In assessing the Iranian threat and devising policy responses, arriving at a speculative date for an ICBM flight test is much less relevant than digesting the first two substantive sentences in the Pentagon's latest report: "Since the revolution, Iran's first priority has consistently remained the survival of the regime. Iran also seeks to become the strongest and most influential country in the Middle East and to influence world affairs."

The press and pundits would be well advised to ponder the implications of these far more newsworthy assessments rather than to chase the mirage of a shift in intelligence assessments of Iran's future ICBM capability or to panic about the latest nuclear achievement announced by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. If regime survival is its first priority, Tehran is not going to launch a first-strike attack on Israel or on U.S. forces in the region. If gaining strength and influence is an important objective, Tehran will not be indifferent to the threat of diplomatic isolation and will not forever rule out constructive arrangements with other countries to enhance its security.

Bottom Line

If the United States wishes to dissuade Iran from developing nuclear weapons, it should avoid brandishing the rhetoric of regime change and preventive attack. Otherwise, the Iranian government may become convinced that the only way to avoid the fate of Saddam Hussein's Iraq is to emulate Kim Jong Il's North Korea in withdrawing from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and obtaining a rudimentary nuclear deterrent.

Instead, the United States should soberly assess Iran's nuclear and missile potential, realizing that an Iranian nuclear threat is not imminent and that Tehran is years away from ever being able to credibly threaten the United States with long-range, nuclear-armed missiles. Under these circumstances, Washington should vigorously but patiently pursue collective measures. These would include both further impediments to foreign assistance with Iran's missile and nuclear programs and also inducements for Iran to comply fully with its NPT obligations, behave responsibly in the region, and ease repression against the Iranian people. - GREG THIELMANN


Volume 1, Number 2

A careful examination reveals that the Pentagon's latest report on Iran's military power does not contradict recent "worst case" assessments of Iran's ICBM potential. In fact, the same exact language was used in the April 2009 "Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat" Report of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center.

Country Resources:

Subject Resources:

Pakistan Raises New Issues at Stalled CD

Eric Auner

Pakistan has raised a new set of concerns in the Conference on Disarmament (CD), the UN body responsible for negotiating a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT).

Islamabad’s objections are holding up the CD’s approval of a program of work on an FMCT and other issues.

The stalemate prompted a comment from CD Secretary-General Sergey Ordzhonikidze. Speaking Feb. 11 on behalf of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Ordzhonikidze expressed “great disappointment” with the body’s lack of progress, according to an official meeting summary. He described progress in the CD as “not even zero, it was minus.”

The 65-nation CD had been deadlocked since the conclusion of Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty negotiations in 1996. The CD, which operates through consensus, agreed on a work plan in May 2009. Pakistan did not block the plan, although Zamir Akram, Pakistani ambassador to the CD, said at the time it was “not perfect.” The plan included negotiations on an FMCT, as well as substantive discussions on progress toward nuclear disarmament, the prevention of an arms race in space, and the provision of negative security assurances to states not possessing nuclear weapons. (See ACT, June 2009.) The CD failed to adopt a framework to implement that work plan by the end of 2009, due in part to Pakistani concerns.

In January, Akram temporarily blocked the adoption of an agenda for the year as he suggested expanding the issues that it addresses. In a Jan. 19 statement to a CD plenary meeting, he said the “international arms control architecture is incomplete” without a “global regime on missiles.” He went on to say that “the issues of conventional arms control at regional levels and missiles are now pressing problems for the international community.”

The Indian delegation to the CD responded in a statement later that day, opposing the consideration of regional arms control issues at the CD. But the delegation said the CD could address some aspects of a global missile control regime.

In addition, the Pakistani government recently restated its opposition to an FMCT, citing regional security concerns. “Pakistan’s position [on an FMCT] will be determined by its national security interests and the objectives of strategic stability in South Asia. Selective and discriminatory measures that perpetuate regional instability…cannot be accepted or endorsed,” Pakistan’s National Command Authority said in a press release issued after a Jan. 13 meeting. The authority is the body responsible for formulating all aspects of Pakistani nuclear policy.

One of the issues surrounding the proposed FMCT is whether it should cover existing stockpiles as well as future production.

Akram communicated the country’s position to the CD in a Feb. 18 statement. “The FMCT that has been proposed will only ban future production of fissile material” and will “increase the existing asymmetry in fissile materials stockpiles between Pakistan and [India].” Akram said that India would be able to increase its fissile material stockpiles as a result of the 2008 waiver it received from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). (See ACT, October 2008.)

India does not allow international inspections of all its nuclear facilities. Acceptance of full-scope safeguards, as they are known, is a key requirement under NSG export guidelines. The 2008 decision made an exception for India, allowing New Delhi to import nuclear material, equipment, and technology. Critics of the move have said that India’s access to the international uranium market will allow India to devote more of its limited domestic uranium supply to building up its nuclear arsenal.

“We must ensure that the asymmetry” arising from an Indian stockpile increase “does not erode the credibility of our deterrence,” Akram said.

The NSG, which includes more than 40 countries, proceeded with the waiver “because their greed got the better of their principles or they simply lacked the courage of their convictions,” he said.

Ordzhonikidze responded to the Pakistani ambassador later that day. “[I]t is very hard to imagine that a program of work…will hamper [in] any way the strategic security of any member state,” he said.

Hamid Ali Rao, India’s ambassador to the CD, said Feb. 18 that “[t]he CD is not the forum to address bilateral or regional issues.” He urged the Pakistanis to avoid bringing up “extraneous” issues in the CD.



Pakistan has raised a new set of concerns in the Conference on Disarmament (CD), the UN body responsible for negotiating a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT).

Islamabad’s objections are holding up the CD’s approval of a program of work on an FMCT and other issues.

Winning on Ballistic Missiles but Losing on Cruise: The Missile Proliferation Battle

Dennis M. Gormley

Because Europe and the U.S. forces based there face a near-term ballistic missile threat, President Barack Obama’s decision to abandon a Bush-era missile defense plan makes good sense. In contrast to President George W. Bush’s approach, which focused primarily on a few potential ICBMs, Obama’s is more suited to Iran’s growing arsenal of medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

The Obama decision also provides an opportunity to reflect on how the ballistic missile threat has evolved over the last 25 years. There is reason to believe that missile nonproliferation policies have contributed to preventing the flow of specialized skills and technologies that are critical to enabling the leap from medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles to intercontinental ones. This success has been reinforced by U.S. ballistic missile defenses, which have kept pace with the way the ballistic missile threat from Iran and North Korea has emerged thus far.

Yet, the situation with regard to cruise missile proliferation is different. Cruise missile nonproliferation policies are less potent, and defenses are woefully inadequate, which may explain the sudden outbreak of cruise missile proliferation in the Middle East, Northeast Asia, and South Asia. Unless the Obama administration focuses on making missile controls, which are the primary focus of this article, and missile defenses function in tandem to address the threats from both ballistic and cruise missiles, the overall missile threat to U.S. interests could severely worsen in the years ahead.

Partial Success

Nearly a decade ago, Richard Speier, one of the principal architects of the now 34-nation Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), argued cogently that the MTCR and missile defenses were not in fact antithetical pursuits but complementary ones.[1] From the outset of the regime, Speier noted, this complementarity was reflected in the MTCR’s goal of targeting missile research, development, and production, while missile defenses focused on targeting the missile once it was launched. According to Speier’s analysis, effective missile defenses should raise the cost of offensive missiles by compelling nations to seek more-effective offensive missiles, larger inventories, and countermeasures (at least for long-range missiles traveling in space). The MTCR should make the job of missile defense easier to achieve by stretching missiles’ development time, lowering their reliability, and reducing their sophistication.

Despite its imperfections, the MTCR—the only existing multilateral arrangement covering the transfer of missiles and missile-related equipment, material, and technology relevant to weapons of mass destruction (WMD)—has brought a significant degree of order and predictability to containing the spread of ballistic missiles, especially with regard to a threatening state’s development of missiles capable of achieving intercontinental ranges. This was evident in the White House fact sheet issued to support the Obama administration’s alternative missile defense plan for Europe, which said, “The intelligence community now assesses that the threat from Iran’s short- and medium-range ballistic missiles is developing more rapidly than previously projected, while the threat of potential Iranian intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capabilities has been slower to develop than previously estimated.”[2]

There is little doubt that Iran’s slower than expected progress toward achieving ICBM capabilities is due to the MTCR’s success in blocking the flow of critical technologies and specialized expertise needed for such an achievement.[3]

Dependence on an intelligence community threat assessment returns the Obama administration to the long-standing notion of “threat-based” planning wherein major defense acquisition programs require a specific explication of the threat in order to justify the expenditure of major resources. The Bush administration’s secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, had come away from chairing the 1998 Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States newly appreciative of the tendency of U.S. policymakers, he argued, to underestimate the tenacity, resourcefulness, and determination of adversaries to acquire weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.[4] Consequently, Rumsfeld formalized capabilities-based planning in the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review; thereafter, capabilities were to be developed to handle the full range of likely future challenges rather than a narrow set of predictable threat scenarios. Missile defense funding, focused primarily on protecting the U.S. homeland, rose accordingly.

Rumsfeld dismissed planning on the basis of intelligence community threat projections. The panel he chaired, known informally as the Rumsfeld Commission, established a misguided, though influential, threat metric that suggested a straightforward path for states such as Iran and North Korea to develop ICBMs. As the commission report argued, “With external help now available, a nation with a well-developed Scud-based infrastructure would be able to achieve first flight of a long-range missile up to, and including, intercontinental ballistic missile range (greater than 5,000 km) within about five years of deciding to do so.”[5]

In 1998, Iran and North Korea each possessed more than just a Scud-based ballistic missile infrastructure; both countries had begun producing Scud missiles in the mid-1980s. Moreover, the two countries have benefited from a symbiotic relationship in missile development through shared research, development, and test results, bolstered by Iran’s purchases of North Korean missiles, missile components, and technical assistance. A critical component of this relationship was Iran’s willingness to conduct proxy tests of Nodong missiles for North Korea during the latter’s nearly eight-year test moratorium after the 1998 Taepo Dong-1 test produced a strong international backlash.

What accounts for the fact that neither North Korea nor Iran has achieved ICBM ranges more than 10 years after the Rumsfeld Commission issued its report and nearly 25 years after they achieved Scud production capability? In light of North Korea’s pursuit of three-stage ballistic missiles and a space-launch vehicle (SLV) and Iran’s progress in two-stage missiles and an SLV program, both states are presumably seeking such a capability. Their slow progress attests to the difficult challenges associated with moving from medium-range ballistic missiles to intermediate- and intercontinental-range ones.

The critical variable is the availability of external technical assistance. The Rumsfeld Commission assumed the existence of such help but did not specify that such assistance comes in various forms. In ascending order of importance, these include explicit representations of missile technology embodied in engineering drawings and blueprints; component technologies, such as light alloys to replace steel-bodied air frames; missile production equipment; and sustained and direct help from systems integration and systems engineering specialists who can furnish the specialized know-how needed to grapple with advances in propulsion systems, thermally protected re-entry bodies, and the complex staging needed to achieve intercontinental range.

Because of the MTCR’s expanding export control guidelines and technical annex, the ways and means of acquiring a ballistic missile have become much more complex since the creation of the regime in 1987. Prior to that time, the Soviet Union and secondary proliferators such as Libya and North Korea had directly provided Scud ballistic missiles to client states. Today, largely due to the MTCR, states seeking a ballistic missile capability are forced to take a different, more complicated approach, often including multiple front companies, intermediaries, transshipment means, and diversionary routing of subsystems and materials, all often supported by money-laundering transactions, designed to work around MTCR controls.

During the MTCR’s first decade in operation, the regime’s denial of provisions and diplomatic engagement helped thwart the missile programs of Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, South Africa, South Korea, Syria, and Taiwan.[6] Additional measures, such as the 2003 Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), have greatly enhanced cooperation among a growing list of partner states with regard to intelligence sharing, diplomacy, and improved techniques to detain, inspect, and seize suspicious cargo. As Denmark’s ambassador to the United States, Ulrik Federspiel, declared in May 2005, “[T]he shipment of missiles has fallen significantly in the lifetime of PSI.”[7] In mid-2006, a senior Department of State official said that PSI cooperation had stopped some exports to Iran’s missile program.[8]

Another important change has occurred since 1987: an increasing recognition by government nonproliferation officials of the importance of blocking the transfer of highly specialized knowledge, or “black art” skills, to missile programs of proliferation concern. These skills are critical to the goal of achieving substantially longer-range ballistic missiles. The transfer mechanism for these skills consists of lengthy face-to-face engagements between highly skilled missile specialists, especially systems engineers, and their mentees within Iran or North Korea, for example. This more advanced form of external assistance likely began to diminish significantly in the aftermath of several of the more egregious cases of Russian external support to foreign missiles programs in the early 1990s.[9] The shortage of specialized assistance only increases the need for North Korea and Iran to cooperate and set up a division of labor in pursuit of their missile ambitions. Yet, both are likely to struggle mightily toward the goal of achieving a capability to produce intercontinental-range missiles.

The Cruise Missile Problem

Although Speier’s ideal approximation of how the MTCR and missile defense might complement each other seems to have proven valid for ballistic missiles, it does not appear to hold true for cruise missiles. Cruise missile proliferation shows dangerous signs of vertical and horizontal momentum. Beginning in the 1960s, short-range (about 100 kilometers) anti-ship cruise missiles (about 75,000) spread to more than 70 countries, including 40 in the developing world. Until very recently, sophisticated and much longer-range cruise missiles for attacks against land targets remained largely the domain of a few industrial states, most notably the United States and Russia. Since 2004, however, land-attack cruise missiles have begun to spread across the Middle East, Northeast Asia, and South Asia.[10]

In the Middle East, Israel was once the sole country possessing land-attack cruise missiles, but now Iran is pursuing cruise missile programs for land and sea attack, including the reported conversion of 300 Chinese HY-2 anti-ship cruise missiles into land-attack systems. Iran’s surreptitious acquisition via arms dealers in Ukraine of at least six Russian Kh-55 nuclear-capable, long-range (about 3,000 kilometers) cruise missiles in 2001 will likely assist that country’s quest to produce more sophisticated long-range cruise missiles for attacking land targets. Iran has provided the terrorist group Hezbollah with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and sophisticated anti-ship cruise missiles, one of which severely damaged an Israeli vessel and killed four sailors during the 2006 war in Lebanon.

In South Asia, India and Pakistan are deploying land-attack cruise missiles for delivery of nuclear and conventional weapons. India, with Russian collaboration, is developing the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, plans for which include deployment with Indian army, navy, and air force units. The BrahMos can strike targets over land or at sea at a range of nearly 300 kilometers, while flying at mach 2.8. India has at least two other land-attack cruise missile programs underway, including one, called Nirbhay, similar to the U.S. Tomahawk with a range of 1,000 kilometers and another shorter-range one co-developed with Israel’s help. In August 2005, Pakistan surprised the world by successfully launching its first land-attack cruise missile, called Babur, purportedly a nuclear-capable ground-launched missile with a range of 700 kilometers. Two years later, it tested a second land-attack cruise missile, the air-launched Raad, with a 350-kilometer range. Pakistan claims they are indigenously produced, but it appears evident that at least China has helped in a substantial way.[11]

In Northeast Asia, China has recently unveiled two new land-attack cruise missiles, including the ground-launched DH-10 with a range of more than 1,500 kilometers and the air-launched YJ-63 with a range of 500 kilometers. According to the Pentagon’s 2009 annual report to Congress on China’s military power, the Second Artillery Corps has already deployed between 150 and 350 DH-10s, which complement the corps’ huge inventory of more than 1,000 ballistic missiles facing Taiwan. Taipei, for its part, first tested its HF-2E land-attack cruise missile in 2005 and seeks to extend its current 600-kilometer range to at least 1,000 kilometers, to reach targets such as Shanghai, and potentially 2,000 kilometers, so that even Beijing is within range. As many as 500 HF-2E cruise missiles were originally sought for deployment on mobile launchers. Not to be outdone, South Korea announced after North Korea’s nuclear test in 2006 that it had four new land-attack cruise missiles under development with ranges between 500 and 1,500 kilometers. The South Korean press took immediate note that all of North Korea, as well as Tokyo and Beijing, would be within range of these new cruise missiles. Even Japan, a nation whose constitution renounces war and offensive forces, is toying with the prospect of acquiring land-attack cruise missiles.

Uneven Controls, Weak Norms

What explains the sudden outbreak of cruise missile proliferation? First, compared to ballistic missiles, cruise missiles suffer from more unevenly executed controls and weak international norms against their spread. When the MTCR was formulated in the mid-1980s, the spread of ballistic missiles was a much greater concern than the spread of cruise missiles. Moreover, the regime’s authors found that delineating controls on cruise missiles and UAVs was a more challenging proposition than identifying which ballistic missile technologies to control. Yet, the regime sought to limit both ballistic and cruise missiles, called Category I items, capable of carrying a payload of 500 kilograms for at least 300 kilometers.[12]

After a considerable struggle, MTCR members succeeded in reaching a modest consensus on cruise missiles and UAVs, but actions taken by MTCR members between 1998 and 2002 cemented the status of cruise missiles and UAVs as a lower-priority concern. The first was the decision taken in 1998 by French and British leaders to sell the Black Shahine cruise missile to the United Arab Emirates, notwithstanding U.S. protestations. Making the transaction even more profoundly disturbing was the missile’s advanced characteristics. Not only was the missile subject to the regime’s strong presumption of denial due to its combination of range and payload, but it also possessed an extraordinarily low radar cross section and stealthy aerodynamic design. Thus, it had the same characteristics that, in ballistic missiles, inspired the MTCR’s authors in the first place, i.e., difficulty of defense, short warning, and shock effect. Of even greater concern was the precedent such a sale might have on other MTCR members or regime adherents, such as Russia or China, respectively.

Although U.S. objections to the Black Shahine transaction may have suggested a firm U.S. position with respect to equal treatment of ballistic and cruise missile transfers, U.S. behavior after the Black Shahine decision was ambiguous. In its long, drawn-out negotiations with Seoul prior to South Korea joining the MTCR in March 2001, Washington strongly urged a cap of 300 kilometers for the range and 500 kilograms for the payload in Seoul’s future ballistic missile programs, although allowing Seoul to “research” 500-kilometer ballistic missiles. Yet, the United States allowed South Korea the option of pursuing cruise missile development to what the United States thought would be a maximum range of 500 kilometers, as long as the payload was under 500 kilograms.[13] Here again, Washington’s differentiation between cruise and ballistic missiles conveyed the impression that the consequences of cruise missile proliferation were not terribly important compared with the spread of ballistic missiles. Ironically, during missile negotiations with Seoul in 1999, Washington had steadfastly insisted that Seoul not pursue missiles beyond the 300-kilometer range, arguing that 500-kilometer systems provided little additional military utility, especially in light of the financial cost and the risk of fueling a missile competition with Pyongyang and fomenting suspicion in China, Japan, and Russia.

Another form of unwelcome differentiation practiced by some MTCR members is making a rare exception to the regime’s “strong presumption to deny” the transfer of proscribed Category I missiles.[14] For example, the United States has transferred Category I Tomahawk cruise missiles to the United Kingdom and Spain, fellow members of NATO. Although Russia and South Korea are not formal allies, Moscow transferred a Category I first-stage liquid rocket to Seoul to support South Korea’s program to develop an SLV called the Naro-1, which made its inaugural flight August 25. Washington had earlier refused to help Seoul achieve its SLV ambitions, which places that nation in the position to convert such a launcher into a long-range ballistic missile were Seoul to violate the end-use restrictions to which it committed itself in order to acquire support from Russia. The chief difficulty with this type of differentiation is that it makes objecting to undesired missile proliferation behavior elsewhere more difficult.

Washington’s informal differentiation between ballistic and cruise missiles became even more apparent when the MTCR membership fashioned the Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation, which was launched in 2002 and now has 130 nations subscribed to its normative principles. By agreeing on a set of general principles and commitments designed to establish broad international norms and confidence-building measures dealing with the proliferation of ballistic missiles alone, the code of conduct fostered the wrong impression about acceptable and unacceptable missile activity. In effect, by not including cruise missiles in the code’s mandate, the initiating states created the notion that although curbing the spread of ballistic missiles was in the best interests of peace and regional stability, the unbridled spread of cruise missiles somehow would have less pernicious consequences.

Weak international norms related to cruise missiles have affected India’s behavior with regard to the utility of confidence-building measures and access to foreign cruise missile technology. Although India has not subscribed to the Hague Code of Conduct, which urges subscribers to implement pre-launch notifications, New Delhi has cooperatively pursued a missile launch notification agreement with Islamabad. From the outset of negotiations, Pakistan sought to include cruise missile launches in the agreement. India balked, not least because prior to a tentative agreement between the two countries in August 2005, only India had tested cruise missiles. With Pakistan’s surprise launch of its own cruise missile barely a week after the tentative accord was reached, New Delhi must have begun to reconsider its shortsightedness in keeping cruise missiles out of the agreement. By April 2006, after Pakistan had successfully conducted its second flight test of its new cruise missile, India signaled its interest in bringing cruise missiles into the joint notification accord. Thus far, cruise missiles remain outside this important regional accord, intensifying concerns about the destabilizing impact of a cruise missile arms race in South Asia.

The perception of normative differentiation between ballistic and cruise missiles also appears evident in India’s attempts to acquire cruise missile technologies to extend the range of its nascent cruise missile programs. Pakistan’s surprise cruise missile test in 2005 prompted calls in the Indian press to extend the range of the BrahMos cruise missile at least to that of Pakistan’s Babur and much farther if possible. Such an extension in range, it was noted, would require access to restricted technologies from Russia, an MTCR member state. The Indian press assumed that obtaining these technologies was feasible because the BrahMos cruise missile, unlike India’s ballistic missiles, was not subject to the same level of international scrutiny. Although there is no evidence that Russia has aided India in an extended-range version of the BrahMos cruise missile, Indian officials have publicly spoken of a BrahMos follow-on capable, within a decade, of traveling 1,000 kilometers at hypersonic speeds.

Even more provocative was India’s failed attempt in 2006 to flout existing MTCR guidelines by approaching the European missile giant, France-based MBDA Missile Systems, in hopes of obtaining a technology transfer arrangement and complete cruise missile systems. The Indian press reported that the deal fell apart in last-minute negotiations, but a more likely explanation is that after the respective French and Indian defense organizations reached a tentative agreement, the deal was nixed by the French government in light of obvious MTCR restrictions.[15] Since then, India has turned to Israel for assistance in achieving longer-range cruise missiles while India and Pakistan compete for advantage with new cruise missile deployments.

Inadequate Defenses

The second reason that cruise missiles are spreading relates to another unfortunate impression only growing in strength: that cruise missiles are undetectable and therefore highly survivable.

Until the 2003 war against Iraq, ballistic missiles were broadly seen as capable of penetrating U.S. missile defenses. During that conflict, however, while Patriot missile defenses successfully intercepted all nine threatening Iraqi ballistic missiles, they failed to detect or intercept any of the five primitive cruise missiles that Iraq employed.[16] Furthermore, changes in rules of engagement necessitated by having to deal with ballistic and cruise missiles contributed to the downing of two friendly aircraft by Patriot missiles. Before the 2003 war, cruise missiles were rarely depicted as weapons virtually impossible to intercept. Soon after, that message became the featured narrative accompanying the launch of nearly every new land-attack cruise missile program discussed earlier in this article.

Foreign Assistance

As with ballistic missile proliferation, outside technical assistance, particularly the specialized skills possessed by experienced systems engineers, is a critical proliferation factor in most new cruise missile programs. Chinese fingerprints are all over Pakistan’s cruise missile developments, while Russian engineering is known to have enabled China to further its cruise missile ambitions beginning in the early 1990s. Russian technical assistance, formalized in a joint agreement, has boosted India’s capacity to join the supersonic cruise missile club; Israel has helped India with its subsonic cruise missile programs. Iranian cruise missile programs depend heavily on foreign-trained engineers who honed their skills in five different countries. Even though the United States has sought to forestall Taiwan’s cruise missile ambitions with diplomatic interventions, Taiwan obtained critical U.S. cruise missile technology to improve the performance of the cruise missiles being developed under its new program. Unless the flow of foreign skills and technology is stanched soon, cruise missiles will only spread further.

Repairing the Damage

To address the spread of cruise missiles, several approaches deserve policymaker attention. The first is to take a more evenhanded approach to improving defenses against ballistic and cruise missiles. Demonstrably improved U.S. missile defenses against short- and medium-range ballistic missiles have made cruise missiles much more attractive to the country’s adversaries because U.S. cruise missile defenses remain weak and poorly managed.

Fighter aircraft equipped with advanced detection and tracking radars possess some modest capability to deal with low-volume cruise missile threats. If the cruise missile threat grows uncontrollably, however, the comparatively high cost of missile defense interceptors could make such defenses increasingly unaffordable and ultimately ineffective in coping with combined ballistic and cruise missile attacks. Existing U.S. cruise missile defense programs are underfunded, while doctrinal, organizational, and interoperability issues continue to discourage the military services from producing truly joint solutions for defending U.S. forces and allies. Homeland defenses are even more sorely lacking, but cruise missile defenses for safely projecting force overseas should take priority over the more improbable threat of a terrorist group launching a cruise missile from a freighter.

Also worthy of policymaker attention is the idea of working with Russia, within the NATO-Russia Council, on expanding the mandate of the Cooperative Airspace Initiative (CAI) beyond its current goal of achieving a system of air traffic information exchange along the borders of Russia and NATO member countries. The CAI, working in possible cooperation with functionally equivalent U.S.-funded Air Sovereignty Operations Centers in the former Warsaw Pact states, could form the basis for investigating an expansion of air monitoring capabilities to the domain of cruise missile warning and defense. Russia’s long-standing prowess in developing effective air defense systems, including the S-400, which can intercept ballistic and cruise missiles as well as aircraft, could fit nicely into a broad-area concept for European cruise missile defense.[17]

No less important is the complementary challenge of improving MTCR controls covering cruise missiles. Beginning in 2002, the MTCR began to fill many of the then-existing shortcomings in cruise missile controls, notably by creating a uniform set of ground rules for determining the true range of cruise missiles, expanding licensing requirements for civil engines and integrated flight navigation systems, and establishing new controls over complete UAVs equipped with aerosol dispensers. The import of these seemingly arcane adjustments was, in fact, substantial. Creating a coordinated list of controlled technologies representing potentially the most dangerous items from a proliferation point of view is a critical component of effective, although not foolproof, nonproliferation policy.

More must be done to shore up cruise missile controls. The cruise missile threat could grow dramatically worse if countries incorporate stealthy features or, worse, add certain highly tailored countermeasures to already stealthy cruise missiles. The addition of language in the MTCR’s technical annex covering specially designed countermeasure equipment, such as towed decoys and terrain-bounce jammers, which mimic the missile they protect, is critically important. The latter two devices will become commonplace as cruise missile observability shrinks through improved aerodynamic design and the addition of stealthy materials.[18] Also, as Speier has long argued, the United States should push to incorporate controls covering the export of ballistic missile countermeasures that render ballistic missile defenses more problematic.[19]

Detection of substantial transfers of specialized knowledge is conceivable; such transfers therefore are risky for the perpetrator. The MTCR should heighten awareness of the importance of monitoring such intangible technology transfers and highlight opportunities for intelligence sharing and collaboration among key member states.

The MTCR is criticized for including states that matter little as threats to proliferate missile-relevant items and for not including the world’s foremost proliferators. If China became the chief global dispenser of cruise missiles and the specialized know-how central to their further development, an intensification of the emerging missile contagion would be a near certainty. China’s membership status (it unsuccessfully sought membership in 2004) and its point of view on what technologies should be controlled (China’s national export controls fall short with regard to cruise missiles) stand as perhaps the greatest MTCR challenge today.

On balance, it would be better to have China operating from within the MTCR than as a mere adherent. Even though China was for years considered a proliferator, Beijing was permitted to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in 2004. Critics used most of the very same concerns about Beijing’s poor proliferation track record and weak enforcement mechanisms to argue against Beijing’s NSG accession, but Bush administration officials countered by stating that China had made enough improvements to warrant NSG membership. Formal accession to the MTCR would mark not only China’s involvement in a key security institution it doubted for many years, but also, more broadly, its increasingly close engagement in international economic and political institutions. Continuing to block China’s accession to the MTCR could backfire by encouraging Beijing to increase its incautious behavior regarding missile sales. That would make it easier for China to subvert U.S. security interests from the comfort of Beijing’s imprecise and occasionally self-serving adherent relationship with the MTCR today, most notably with regard to cruise missiles.

Last but not least is the need to repair the Hague Code of Conduct’s shortsighted normative treatment of missile proliferation. Certainly, countries such as South Korea and the United States that are wary of seeing cruise missiles added to the code of conduct’s mandate view them as precision delivery systems for conventional weapons, not as a means of delivering weapons of mass destruction. Lawrence Freedman has observed that “cruise missiles…are to some extent the paradigmatic weapon” of the revolution in military affairs, which is perceived as a decidedly conventional, not WMD, phenomenon.[20] Sadly, some states, notably India and Pakistan, are acquiring cruise missiles with nuclear and precise conventional delivery in mind. Cruise missiles are conservatively 10 times more effective than ballistic missiles in delivering biological weapons.[21] Moreover, by tying precision conventional-strike systems to pre-emptive war doctrines, states are moving closer to lowering the vital threshold between peace and war and escalation to WMD use.

Sentiment is growing for broadening the code’s mandate to include cruise missiles. Beginning in 2003, the 14-member independent Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, chaired by Hans Blix, deliberated for more than two years to develop “realistic proposals aimed at the greatest possible reduction of the dangers of weapons of mass destruction.”[22] On WMD delivery systems, the commissioners unanimously recommended the following: “States subscribing to the Hague Code of Conduct should extend its scope to include cruise missile and unmanned aerial vehicles.”[23] As missile proliferation specialist Aaron Karp notes, “If it is to prosper, expanding the Hague Code of Conduct to include cruise missiles probably is inevitable, if only because so many governments want it.”[24] The time is ripe to make the Hague Code of Conduct relevant to the changing nature of ballistic and cruise missile proliferation.

Table 1: Selected Cruise Missile Programs

Beginning in 2004, there was an outbreak of new land-attack cruise missiles in the Middle East, Northeast Asia, and South Asia. Current capabilities of selected countries in those regions are detailed below.

Country System

Range (kilometers)

Payload (kilograms) Status Origin
China Dong Hai-10 (DH-10) 2,000 Operational China
YJ-63 500 500 In development China
India PJ-10 BrahMos 290 300 In development/In service Russia/India
Nirbhay 1,000 In development India
Lakshya 350 600 Potential/Unknown Israeli help
Iran Converted HY-2 350 500 Potential/Unknown China
Kh-55 Potential/Unknown Ukraine
Pakistan Babur/Hatf 7 700+ In development China
Raad/Hatf 8 350 In development China?
South Korea Cheonryong 500+ In development South Korea
Boramae 500+ In development South Korea
Hyunmoo III 1,000 In development South Korea
Hyunmoo IIIA 1,500 In development South Korea
Taiwan Hsiung Feng-2E (HF-2E) Less than 1,000 400-450 In development Taiwan

Source: Data adapted from Dennis M. Gormley, Missile Contagion: Cruise Missile Proliferation and the Threat to International Security (Westport, CT: Praeger Security International, 2008), app. A.

Dennis M. Gormley is a senior fellow in the Washington office of the Monterey Institute of International Studies’ JamesMartinCenter for Nonproliferation Studies, a faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, and author of Missile Contagion: Cruise Missile Proliferation and the Threat to International Security (2008).


1. Richard Speier, “Can the Missile Technology Control Regime Be Repaired?” in Repairing the Regime, ed. Joseph Cirincione (Washington. DC: Routledge, 2000), pp. 202-216.

2. Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, “Fact Sheet on U.S. Missile Defense Policy,” September 17, 2009, www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/FACT-SHEET-US-Missile-Defense-Policy-A-Phased-Adaptive-Approach-for-Missile-Defense-in-Europe/.

3. On the MTCR’s broad accomplishments, see Vann Van Diepen, “Missile Nonproliferation: Accomplishments and Future Challenges,” International Export Control Observer, No. 5 (March 2006), pp. 16-18. See also Dennis M. Gormley, Missile Contagion: Cruise Missile Proliferation and the Threat to International Security (Westport, CT: Praeger Security International, 2008), pp. 32-34, 157-158.

4. Bradley Graham, The New Battle Over Shielding America From Missile Attack (New York: Public Affairs, 2001), pp. 41-42.

5. “Executive Summary of the Report of the Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States,” July 15, 1998, www.fas.org/irp/threat/bm-threat.htm.

6. Dinshaw Mistry, Containing Missile Proliferation: Strategic Technology, Security Regimes, and International Cooperation in Arms Control (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2003).

7. Arms Control Association, “Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) at a Glance,” 2007, www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/PSI.asp.

8. Mary Beth Nikitin, “Proliferation Security Initiative,” CRS Report for Congress, RL34327, September 10, 2009, p. 3 (citing Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Robert Joseph’s remarks on July 18, 2006).

9. The Russian case of detecting 200 illegally obtained passports for Makayev Design Bureau scientists, engineers, and family members and the detention of 36 of them at a Moscow airport before their departure for Pyongyang in 1992 shows that these activities can be detected and forestalled. The Russian government has advised scientists and engineers at enterprises suspected of aiding Iranian and North Korean missile programs that if they were subjected to U.S. sanctions for their activities, the government would take additional measures to penalize such behavior. Gormley, Missile Contagion, pp. 156-159.

10. For documentation and analysis of these developments and others discussed in this article, see Gormley, Missile Contagion.

11. Ibid., pp. 73-74.

12. Frederick J. Hollinger, “The Missile Technology Control Regime: A Major New Arms Control Achievement,” in World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers 1987, ed. Daniel Galick (Washington, DC: U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, 1988), p. 26.

13. See Mistry, Containing Missile Proliferation, p. 96. Mistry states that the policy declaration that Washington negotiated with Seoul included a trade-off provision allowing South Korea to develop 500-kilometer-range land-attack cruise missiles with a 400-kilogram warhead. South Korean press reports uniformly indicate that the agreement placed no restriction on the range of cruise missiles as long as the payload remained under 500 kilograms.

14. For a discussion of these examples, see Gormley, Missile Contagion, ch. 9.

15. Former French export control official, e-mail communication with author, July 2007.

16. For a full account, see Gormley, Missile Contagion, ch. 7.

17. For further elaboration, see Dennis M. Gormley, “The Path to Deep Nuclear Reductions: Dealing With American Conventional Superiority,” Institute Français des Relations Internationales, Fall 2009, pp. 40-41.

18. There is reason to believe that endgame countermeasures for cruise missiles can be controlled under the MTCR. Equipment that can be legitimately exported as part of a manned aircraft is not subject to control under the MTCR. Endgame countermeasures, however, such as towed decoys and terrain-bounce jammers, must be specially designed to work with the particular missile they are to protect, to achieve the intended mimicking of the radar signature.

19. Richard Speier, “Missile Nonproliferation and Missile Defense: Fitting Them Together,” Arms Control Today, November 2007, www.armscontrol.org/act/2007_11/Speier.

20. Lawrence Freedman, “The Revolution in Military Affairs,” Adelphi Paper, No. 318 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 70.

21. Eugene McClellan, interview with author, Arlington, Virginia, August 1997.

22. See Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, “Weapons of Terror: Freeing the World of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Arms,” May 2006, p. 15, http://wmdcommission.org/files/Weapons_of_Terror.pdf.

23. Ibid.

24. Aaron Karp, “Going Ballistic? Reversing Missile Proliferation,” Arms Control Today, June 2005, www.armscontrol.org/act/2005_06/Karp.


Because Europe and the U.S. forces based there face a near-term ballistic missile threat, President Barack Obama’s decision to abandon a Bush-era missile defense plan makes good sense. In contrast to President George W. Bush’s approach, which focused primarily on a few potential ICBMs, Obama’s is more suited to Iran’s growing arsenal of medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

The Obama decision also provides an opportunity to reflect on how the ballistic missile threat has evolved over the last 25 years. There is reason to believe that missile nonproliferation policies have contributed to preventing the flow of specialized skills and technologies that are critical to enabling the leap from medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles to intercontinental ones. This success has been reinforced by U.S. ballistic missile defenses, which have kept pace with the way the ballistic missile threat from Iran and North Korea has emerged thus far.

ACA Experts Condemn DPRK Rocket Launch: Urge U.S. and Allied Leaders to Maintain Focus on Denuclearization Goals


For Immediate Release: April 5, 2009

Press Contacts: Greg Thielmann, Senior Fellow and Director of Realistic Threats and Responses Project (202) 463-8270 x103 or Peter Crail, Research Analyst, (202) 463-8270 x102.

(Washington, D.C.): Experts from the independent, nonpartisan Arms Control Association (ACA) declared that North Korea's launch of what is believed to be its long-range Taepo Dong-2 rocket satellite carrier today was a "confrontational move that undermines stability in the region and makes progress in the six-party talks on that country's denuclearization more difficult to achieve."

According to early reports and government statements, the North Korean rocket followed a trajectory consistent with that of a satellite launch.

Declaring the launch to be a violation of UN Security Council resolution, the United States and its allies intend to pursue action in the council during an emergency session today.

Two ACA analysts urged the U.S. government, the other members of the Security Council, as well as Seoul, to remain focused on the goal of Resolution 1718, which is a North Korea without nuclear weapons, rather than taking steps that would likely lead hardliners in Pyongyang to suspend or reverse progress in the six-party talks altogether.

ACA Senior Fellow Greg Thielmann observes that: "However threatening a launch, which advances development of potential delivery vehicles for nuclear warheads, it pales in comparison with the threat posed by the retention and expansion of North Korean abilities to produce fissile material for those warheads."

North Korea first flight-tested its Taepo Dong-2 missile in July 2006. At that time, Pyongyang characterized the failed Taepo Dong-2 test as "as part of the routine military training for self-defense," rather than as a satellite launch.

"Unlike the 2006 ballistic missile test, North Korea's satellite launch permits it to test some, but not all of the performance required by a military system. For example, the 2009 test provides no information on whether North Korea has successfully designed the front end of a long-range military missile, which must withstand the severe stress of reentry through the atmosphere-not a trivial technological challenge," Thielmann noted.

The United States, Japan, and South Korea have argued that the rocket launch violates Resolution 1718, which the council adopted in 2006 in response to North Korea's nuclear test. That resolution prohibited Pyongyang from carrying out "any ballistic missile-related activities." China and Russia do not appear to consider a satellite launch to be in violation of Resolution 1718.

"Ultimately, the determination of whether the launch violates Resolution 1718 is a political decision by members of the council rather than a legal one," said ACA nonproliferation analyst Peter Crail.

"What is clear is that North Korea's provocative behavior ignored calls by the international community not to launch the rocket and violates the spirit of both the resolution and the six-party talks. The council should make this point in a firm but constructive manner that does not jeopardize any potential future progress in dealing with the real threat from North Korea's stockpile of nuclear weapons material," Crail added.

In addition to prohibiting North Korea from carrying out any further ballistic missile activities, Resolution 1718 also forbade North Korea from conducting additional nuclear tests, and required its denuclearization and return to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The resolution imposed a series of sanctions on Pyongyang, which will remain in effect until North Korea complies with the resolution.

"North Korea has been in violation of Resolution 1718 since the day it was passed, and its sanctions provisions have atrophied over the last couple of years. Only 73 countries have submitted reports to a UN sanctions committee responsible for monitoring the sanctions, and few states have taken meaningful measures to implement them," Crail said.

"Rather than explore new sanctions, which are likely to be counter-productive, the council should find ways to reaffirm and reinvigorate the role of the Resolution 1718 sanctions committee as an existing mechanism that can help prevent the most harmful materials from getting in or out of North Korea," Crail argued.

Experts from the independent, nonpartisan Arms Control Association (ACA) declared that North Korea's launch of what is believed to be its long-range Taepo Dong-2 rocket satellite carrier today was a "confrontational move that undermines stability in the region and makes progress in the six-party talks on that country's denuclearization more difficult to achieve." (Continue)

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Report Predicts Future Global Arms Trends

Kirsten McNeil

The National Intelligence Council (NIC) released its fourth Global Trends report on Nov. 20, timed to correspond every four years to the period of transition between presidential administrations. Chaired by Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analysis Thomas Fingar, the NIC is within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which sits atop the sprawling U.S. intelligence community. The "Global Trends 2025" report aims to identify key strategic drivers in the global system that could shape the issues facing the new administration and to guide policymakers toward a broad view of the world.

The report addressed weapons proliferation as well as other global issues, such as climate change and economic trends. Broadly speaking, the report predicts that China and India will see an increase in their relative power, shifting the international system to a multipolar scheme rather than the current unipolar one. The United States will continue to remain the most powerful country but will see a relative decrease as these other states rise in stature. Up-and-coming states such as Indonesia, Iran, and Turkey will also be major drivers in the system.

At a Nov. 20 press conference, Fingar warned that "[i]f Iran were to go nuclear, there could be a regional arms race. If one of the states that has the capability elects to proliferate...we could have a problem. And it's not too hard to imagine regimes having access to a weapon without the kind of fail-safe controls that we have [and] the Russians have."

More broadly, the report goes on to state, "[f]uture asymmetries in conventional military capabilities among potential rivals might tempt weak states to view nuclear weapons as a necessary and justifiable defense in response to the threat of overwhelming conventional attacks."

During the period, conventional weapons are predicted to be of increasing importance for terrorists, who are expected to seek advanced tactical weapons, such as anti-tank missiles and man-portable weapon systems. The current spread of improvised explosive devices and inexpensive robotics and sensors is expected to continue. The study characterizes warfare in the year 2025 as increasingly asymmetric, nonmilitary, and reliant on information.

Overall, the report tells a cautionary tale based on the spread of different kinds of weapons systems in conjunction with expanding and evolving reasons for conflict to occur among states. As the report notes, "[T]raditional security concerns are declining in importance but may be replaced by new issues, such as competition over resources."




The National Intelligence Council (NIC) released its fourth Global Trends report on Nov. 20, timed to correspond every four years to the period of transition between presidential administrations. Chaired by Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analysis Thomas Fingar, the NIC is within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which sits atop the sprawling U.S. intelligence community. The "Global Trends 2025" report aims to identify key strategic drivers in the global system that could shape the issues facing the new administration and to guide policymakers toward a broad view of the world. (Continue)

Iran Space Launch Raises Missile Concerns

Peter Crail

Iran carried out a test of a space launch vehicle Aug. 17, claiming the test was in preparation for placing an Iranian satellite in orbit. Although not believed to have been successful, the test has continued to raise concerns in the West. U.S. and European governments fear that Iran's development of rockets capable of placing satellites in orbit will improve Iran's ability to build longer-range ballistic missiles.

Indeed, the rocket test did demonstrate the connection between Iran's ballistic missile program and its space program. The two-staged rocket, named Safir (Ambassador), is believed to make use of a modified version of Iran's most advanced ballistic missile system, the Shahab-3, as its first stage. The Safir's second stage appears to use an indigenously developed propulsion system. Iran has not yet successfully tested a multiple-staged missile or rocket.

The Aug. 17 rocket test followed the launch of two suborbital sounding rockets designed to carry out scientific experiments at high altitudes. The two rockets, launched in February 2007 and February 2008, were also variations of the Shahab-3 missile.

Iran carried out a test of the Shahab-3 during military exercises held July 9-10. Iranian officials claimed that the test involved a variant with a range of 2,000 kilometers. However, the missile appeared to have been a standard Shahab-3 missile with a range of about 1,200 kilometers. The dimensions of the missile reported by the Iranian state-run media July 9 were nearly identical to the estimated dimensions of the Shahab-3 originally developed in the late 1990s, leaving little room for modifications that would be needed to extend the missile's range.

Speaking to the Iranian press following the Aug. 17 space launch, Reza Taqipur, the head of Iran's Aerospace Organization, stressed the "home-grown" nature of the Safir system. The Shahab-3, the rocket's first stage, is based on North Korea's Nodong-1 ballistic missile design, but the second stage does appear to represent an advance in Iran's domestic ballistic missile capabilities. Former UN weapons inspector Geoffrey Forden told Arms Control Today Aug. 18 that the second stage of the Safir demonstrated that the increasing sophistication of Iran's missile development "is driven by indigenous innovation" as opposed to foreign assistance. He added that "the important thing is that Iran, not North Korea, not Iraq, is the first country to break out of the Scud type of missile mold."

Many countries in the developing world acquired Scud missiles from the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and the missiles have served as the template around which several missile programs have centered. North Korea's Nodong-1, for example, is based on the Scud design.

Specifically, Forden assessed that the second-stage rocket uses a new thrust vector control system and that the difficulties in developing such a system helps to explain why the Safir appeared to have flown off course during its second stage. This system provides a more efficient steering mechanism for the rocket to carry out course adjustments than traditional Scud-based designs.

Uzi Rubin, former director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization, agreed that the Safir's second stage represented a departure from the "Scud mold." Rubin told Arms Control Today Aug. 19 that "Iran took a risky path" by forgoing a previously tested Taepo Dong-1-based system and pursuing a newer design with only two stages.

North Korea tested a three-stage variant of its 2,000-kilometer-range Taepo Dong-1 ballistic missile as a space launch vehicle in 1998. The test failed due to a malfunction with its third stage.

Most space launch vehicles use more than two sets of engines in order to produce enough thrust to place satellites in orbit. Questioning why Iran decided not to add a third stage to the Safir, Rubin suggested that Tehran may have been discouraged by the failure of the third stage during North Korea's 1998 space test or that the first stage did not have enough thrust to permit the added weight of additional stages.

Using the two-stage design, the Safir would only have the lifting power to deliver a very small payload. Iran has declared its intention to use the system to launch its 20-kilogram Omid (Hope) satellite. Forden assessed that the Safir would not have sufficient power to place a satellite in orbit.

Experts generally consider missiles capable of carrying at least 500 kilograms to be usable for delivering a nuclear weapon.

In spite of Iran's missile advances, the country still faces a number of hurdles in increasing the range of its ballistic missiles. The Shahab-3, Iran's longest-range missile, reportedly has a range up to 2,000 kilometers, placing all of the Middle East and parts of southern Europe within striking distance. (See ACT, October 2007. )

Extending that range will require mastering the staging process. In addition to the failed Safir test, Iran's previous tests of multiple-stage missiles were unsuccessful, including the 2,000-kilometer-range Ashura in November 2007. (See ACT, January/February 2008. )

Tehran would also need to develop a re-entry vehicle for the missile's warhead to protect it upon return into the atmosphere. The United States and its allies claim that materials acquired from Iranian technicians by Western intelligence agencies demonstrate that Iran has been working on designs for a re-entry vehicle. A February 2008 International Atomic Energy Agency report stated that the re-entry design contained in these materials was "quite likely to be able to accommodate a nuclear device." (See ACT, March 2008. )

The United States responded to the test by highlighting the tie between the technologies used to develop space-faring rockets and those used to develop long-range ballistic missiles. National Security Council spokesperson Gordon Johndroe said Aug. 18 that Iran's test and the "dual-use possibilities for their ballistic missile program are inconsistent with their UN Security Council obligations."

The UN Security Council has adopted three resolutions sanctioning Iranian entities involved in Iran's missile programs and requiring that all states take steps to prevent Iran from acquiring technology relevant to the development of such missiles. However, the resolutions have not placed an obligation on Iran to halt or curtail these programs.

Israeli officials offered a more muted response to the launch. Yitzhak Ben Israel, chairman of the Israeli Space Agency, told Israeli public radio that because Israeli territory had already been within the range of Iran's Shahab-3 missiles, "the threat posed by Iran comes from its nuclear program and not from its satellites or ballistic missiles."

In response to the threats faced by Israel from Iran's missiles, the United States has agreed to deploy an X-band early-warning radar system to Israel that would potentially increase Israel's ability to track and intercept incoming ballistic missiles. According to the terms of the agreement, the details of which have yet to be finalized, the X-band system would be operated by U.S. personnel from the Pentagon's European Command.

Lt. General Henry Obering, director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, told Defense News Aug. 7 that if the radar can be tied into Israel's Arrow missile defense system, Israel "will be able to launch that interceptor way before they could with an autonomous system."

Iran carried out a test of a space launch vehicle Aug. 17, claiming the test was in preparation for placing an Iranian satellite in orbit. Although not believed to have been successful, the test has continued to raise concerns in the West. U.S. and European governments fear that Iran's development of rockets capable of placing satellites in orbit will improve Iran's ability to build longer-range ballistic missiles. (Continue)

Threat Reduction Programs Meet Benchmarks

Daniel Arnaudo

U.S. threat reduction programs in Russia registered three significant successes in April. First, the Department of Defense announced April 9 that its Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program had helped Russia completely dismantle and destroy its stockpile of SS-24 ICBMs. Later the same month, the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced that the U.S.-Russian Material Consolidation and Conversion (MCC) program had downblended 10 metric tons of Russian highly enriched uranium to low-enriched uranium in its nine years of existence. Finally, with U.S. funding and support from the NNSA, Russia completed the shutdown of a reactor that produces weapons-grade plutonium in Seversk.

In an April 9 press release, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) announced the elimination of the last SS-24. "This is another important milestone in our 16 year effort to secure and dismantle the weapons of mass destruction of the former Soviet Union. The SS-24 ICBMs posed a serious threat to the United States with its 10 independently targeted warheads and ability to be moved throughout the country by train," said Lugar. After the Cold War ended, Lugar helped create the CTR program with then-Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) in the early 1990s by co-sponsoring legislation that allowed for cooperation between the United States and Russia on a range of nonproliferation work.

SS-24s could be deployed in silos or on railcars, making them mobile and difficult to target. Fifty-six SS-24s were eliminated in all, 42 of which were specially designed to be mounted on railcars.

The work was done as part of the Pentagon‘s Strategic Offensive Arms Elimination program, which was allocated $91 million for fiscal year 2008 and was set up to dismantle Russian ICBMs and their related infrastructure. The SS-24 destruction brings Russia closer to the limit set by the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), under which Russia and the United States agreed to cut the number of their deployed strategic warheads to 2,200 by the end of 2012.

According to Lugar's press release, the reductions were made in accordance with the guidelines set by the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and reaffirmed by SORT in 2002. The program will continue to dismantle truck-mounted SS-25s as part of the same treaty commitments.

Addressing another aspect of threat reduction, on April 24 the NNSA pointed to its MCC program that is operating at three facilities in Russia and has successfully converted enough material for 400 weapons into low-enriched uranium for power production purposes.

The NNSA also announced April 21 that a plutonium reactor at Seversk had been completely shut down. It is the first of three Russian reactors that can produce weapons-grade plutonium to be deactivated under the program for the elimination of weapons-grade plutonium. Two reactors are in Seversk, and another is in Zheleznogorsk. Because the reactors also produce power for their respective cities, the NNSA is working with Russian contractors to simultaneously build one coal-fired power plant in Zheleznogorsk and refurbish another in Seversk to replace the energy the reactors generate. (See ACT, March 2008)

The reactors were originally supposed to have been deactivated eight years ago under a agreement between then-U.S. Vice President Al Gore and Russian Prime Minister Victor Chernomyrdin in 1994, but construction difficulties, cost overruns, and disagreements about how to replace the electric power they provided extended the project for many years.

In December 2002, the project was transferred from the Defense Department to the Energy Department, which then concluded the present accord with Russia in March 2003. Its timetable called for the reactors at Seversk to be shut down by the end of 2008, and the NNSA press release added that it expects to shut down the second reactor there in June. The Energy Department's fiscal year 2009 budget request earlier this year noted that the second reactor at Zheleznogorsk is scheduled to be deactivated by the end of 2010.

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U.S. threat reduction programs in Russia registered three significant successes in April. First, the Department of Defense announced April 9 that its Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program had helped Russia completely dismantle and destroy its stockpile of SS-24 ICBMs. Later the same month, the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced that the U.S.-Russian Material Consolidation and Conversion (MCC) program had downblended 10 metric tons of Russian highly enriched uranium to low-enriched uranium in its nine years of existence. Finally, with U.S. funding and support from the NNSA, Russia completed the shutdown of a reactor that produces weapons-grade plutonium in Seversk. (Continue)

The EU’s Nonproliferation Efforts: Limited Success

Oliver Meier

In 2003, European states, shaken by their inability to unite around a common strategy toward Iraq, determined to forge a common and independent approach to dealing with proliferation threats.[1] Five years later, the EU's hopes of being an independent power broker on arms control and nonproliferation issues have only been partially realized, with both external pressures and internal fissures and constraints limiting Brussels' heft on the international stage.

In October 2003, the foreign ministers of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom ignored protests from the United States and reached an agreement with Iran to work toward a resolution of the crisis regarding Tehran's nuclear program. In December of that year, European Union (EU) member states adopted the European Security Strategy (ESS) and the associated EU Strategy Against Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, which called for effective policies to strengthen multilateral regimes and to address the root causes of instability and proliferation in cooperation with the United States and other key partners. 

Since 2003, the EU has played a leading role in the ongoing effort to curb Iran's uranium-enrichment program, but its ability to make progress has been limited by the recalcitrance of Iran and the United States, and its negotiating role has been eclipsed at times by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Russia. Internal fissures, including differences between nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon states and the failure to approve an EU constitution, have limited Brussels' ability to carve out an independent stance on such issues as missile defense, nuclear disarmament, and the future of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

To be sure, leadership change in the United States and the streamlining of the EU's foreign policy bureaucracy offer the prospect that Brussels in the next few years could come closer to the goals the EU set for itself five years ago. Yet, given the experience of the past five years, there is widespread skepticism that these opportunities will be seized.


In October 2003, more than a year after Iran's clandestine nuclear program was publicly revealed, the foreign ministers of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom (the so-called EU-3) negotiated a deal with Iran in which Tehran vowed to declare past nuclear activities and promised improved cooperation with the IAEA. In return, the EU-3 prevented referral of Iran to the UN Security Council, which Washington supported. In November 2004, Iran and the EU-3 signed the Paris agreement, in which Iran pledged to voluntarily suspend enrichment-related and reprocessing activities until a long-term agreement had been worked out. Although Washington continued to discourage negotiations between the European states and Iran, the move deflated U.S. pressure for a Security Council referral.

As the war in Iraq increasingly commanded U.S. political attention, Washington's opposition toward EU negotiations became less pronounced. After President George W. Bush traveled to Europe in February 2005, Washington for the first time backed some incentives offered by Europe to Iran, such as support for Iran's membership in the World Trade Organization and the supply of spare parts for civil aircraft if Iran were to halt its enrichment program and other fuel cycle-related activities. Yet, at nearly the same time that Washington was relaxing its pressure, Iranian attitudes began to harden, particularly following the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iranian president in August 2005.

Since that election, the EU has sought to keep the negotiating process alive. In June 2006, the EU-3 plus China, Russia, and the United States (the "EU-3+3") offered a new package of incentives to Iran.[2] The offer came after Iran had resumed certain nuclear activities and the UN Security Council for the first time had imposed sanctions on Iran, in February 2006.

Throughout this period, EU officials have sought to maintain a united stance against what they see as Iranian efforts to chip away at these sanctions without giving up its nuclear ambitions. Since last fall, Iran has carried out a work program with the IAEA to address some of the past questions that had raised international concerns about whether it truly intended its nuclear facilities for peaceful purposes. Yet, Tehran has still moved forward with its uranium-enrichment program, despite calls from the Security Council to suspend it.

The IAEA's efforts have drawn criticism from European diplomats who fear that agency director-general Mohamed ElBaradei would allow the Iranians to sidestep the UN sanctions and the EU-3+3 negotiations and issue Iran a clean bill of health. A senior official from an EU member state on April 14 argued that it was not possible "to close Iran's nuclear file" even if the program of work agreed between the agency and Iran is completed. He said that, in addition to resolving questions related to past Iranian activities, it was also necessary to build confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's current nuclear program.[3]

European officials also have said that the recent U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) did not justify backing away from UN sanctions. In December 2007, a U.S. NIE concluded that Iran had halted its nuclear weaponization efforts by 2003, further undermining the hard-line approach taken by the Bush administration. In response to a parliamentary inquiry on the NIE launched by the Green Party in the Bundestag, the German government on January 10 maintained that the NIE had "confirmed the international community's justified doubts about the peaceful character of the Iranian nuclear program" and simply refused to answer any questions about the validity of the NIE's findings, citing confidentiality concerns.[4]

An EU official explained that the EU is now pursuing a dual-track approach for Iran. "The first one-pressure through sanctions and readiness to start negotiations-is aimed at convincing Iran to stop its controversial nuclear activities. The second one is aimed at keeping [the] unity of the EU-3+3."[5]

Some EU members, particularly France, have called for the union to take more aggressive measures on its own. In September, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said "We have to prepare for the worst, and the worst is war."[6] Kouchner also called for tougher EU sanctions above and beyond those agreed to by the UN Security Council. His calls have met with little support, with Europeans opting to follow the German preference for a gradual increase of pressure through the adoption of moderate and reversible UN Security Council sanctions.

With presidential elections in the United States in November 2008 and in Iran in 2009 ahead, European efforts to resolve the nuclear crisis in Iran are effectively in suspension.

After the last direct contact with Iranian lead nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili on November 30, 2007, Javier Solana, the EU's high representative on foreign policy, stated his disappointment. "I had expected more from the talks with the Iranian delegation."[7] According to Iranian statements, both sides have not been in contact since then. On March 16, Solana was quoted by the Chinese news agency Xinhua that a next meeting might take place in "30 days to 90 days."[8]

The EU official also said that an improved package of incentives to be offered to Iran now under consideration is aimed only partly at kick-starting negotiations and also has to be seen against the background of keeping the EU-3+3 unity. "This is more a matter of presentation than of substance," he explained.

Despite the lack of success in convincing Iran to limit its nuclear program, some decision-makers judge the EU's effort at resolving the nuclear crisis as a success. "It is true, we have not been able to convince Iran to improve international confidence by suspending critical nuclear activities" the EU official stated. "However, after initially being skeptical of Europe's involvement, Washington is now fully supportive of a negotiated agreement along the lines proposed by the EU," he argued.

Grzegorz M. Poznanski, deputy director of the Department for Security Policy at the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, concurred on April 17. "The EU involvement in the talks with Iran is an example for the union's ambition to become involved in big issues and [that it] has the teeth to do just that," he said. "This is not the EU's fault that there has been no success so far in resolving the nuclear crisis with Iran."[9]

EU Versus NATO

For most Europeans, NATO is responsible for their collective defense, although the EU has increasingly expressed a desire for greater autonomy on defense issues since 1999. Thus, the EU is now in charge of several peacekeeping operations, and institutionally the European Defense Agency is supposed to oversee and coordinate procurement of military hardware.

Despite these aspirations and in spite of the fact that it will have a serious impact on European security, the EU has remained all but mum on a recent headline issue: the planned deployment of U.S. missile defense facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic. The issue has instead been left to NATO, where differences between Europeans persist. Although some countries call for a stronger link to NATO or even an integration of U.S. missile defense capabilities into an alliance-wide defense, Warsaw and Prague have so far not been willing to give other NATO members a say on the timing, scope, and content of bilateral agreements under negotiation with Washington. That dispute was not resolved at the April 2-4 NATO summit in Bucharest, which gave basic support for a missile defense system but left details to be resolved.

Early on, Solana, who had been head of NATO before becoming the EU's foreign policy chief, decided that the EU should not become involved in the issue. Initially, Solana argued that the EU lacked the capability to develop its own missile defense system and therefore was not able to take a position on the bilateral agreements under negotiation between the United States and two EU member states. On April 3, Solana presented the Romanian newspaper Adevarul with another reason for European lack of action by stating that, "under the Treaty of the European Union, the EU is developing a foreign and security policy which does not extend for the time being to territorial defense. This aspect falls under national responsibility and, for some of our member states, this means through NATO."[10]

The senior official from an EU member state backed Solana by arguing for a pragmatic course of action. "When thinking about whether to discuss an arms control issue in the EU or in NATO, you have to consider where you can make most progress," he cautioned. "On missile defense, little would be gained by raising the issue in the EU."

Ondrej Liska, deputy chairman for foreign affairs of the Green Party, who is the junior partner in the Czech government, offered a different view. "There are provisions in the Treaty on the EU that could have been used to initiate such a debate [on missile defense,] but the member states have not found the courage and the will to get rid of their old protective mentalities," he wrote.[11] Liska argued that "the U.S. intentions are to have lasting and profound impacts on the foreign and security policy of the EU."

Early attempts to explore possibilities for a joint position on missile defense within the EU apparently did not get very far. Poznanski said that "Poland has informed its European partners about its plans concerning missile defense, both bilaterally, and ad hoc in the EU Council, when EU partners have requested such briefings." To date, the EU Council has not taken a stance on the issue.

Privately, EU officials admit that the EU could have played a more active role on missile defense, and some argue it should have been more assertive. Concerns about the lack of official EU involvement are also widespread among members of the European Parliament. Karl von Wogau, Conservative chairman of the European Parliament's Security and Defense Subcommittee, argued that it would have been "desirable" if the planned deployment of missile defense components in the Czech Republic and Poland "would have been agreed at the European level."[12]

The debate is taking place against renewed fears that Europe might once again find itself in the uncomfortable middle between Russia and the United States. Wogau points out that the European Parliament wants to ensure that "Europe is not separated into zones with different levels of security." Wogau argues that NATO "has to take into account specific European security interests" in setting up a future missile defense system's infrastructure and command structure. He believes that NATO has now accepted this point of view because the communiqué of the April 2-4 Bucharest summit reaffirms "the principle of the indivisibility of Allied security as well as NATO solidarity."[13]

Asked about the dangers of renewed conflict between the East and West in Europe, Poznanski replied that he does not believe "that there is a possibility of going back to the Cold War in Europe. There are several institutionalized dialogues on strategic issues taking place between the EU, Russia, and the United States, including the NATO-Russia dialogue. The EU can play an important role as a partner to both the United States and Russia. This should be seen as an opportunity to be seized, rather than as a risk to be faced."

The EU's lack of a coherent position on missile defense is lamented by many, but its silence on another key European security crisis, Russia's suspension of the 1990 Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), is widely accepted. Solana has repeatedly called the CFE Treaty a "cornerstone of European security," but the treaty's demise has not been an issue for the EU as a whole,[14] primarily because NATO has historically coordinated its member states' positions on conventional arms control. Thus, a French diplomat highlighted the fact that the EU "is at an disadvantage" vis-à-vis NATO because the alliance has a long track record of dealing with issues such as the CFE Treaty and missile defense.[15]

Nuclear Disarmament

With review conferences on the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions recently concluded, the next diplomatic nonproliferation challenge for the EU will be to develop a strong common position for the 2010 NPT Review Conference. Common positions are binding agreements adopted by the EU Council and designed to make cooperation more systematic and improve its coordination.

Many EU officials remain concerned about the stalemate on strategic nuclear arms control between Russia and the United States. In a statement to the European Parliament on April 8, Solana warned of "the difficulties that we may be facing in 2009 and 2010 when all the major agreements on disarmament will come up for renewal." The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) will expire at the end of next year and the NPT review conference will take place just a few months later. Solana stated that "it will be important for the EU and its citizens to have the possibility of avoiding a vacuum between now and then" and urged the United States and Russia to "renew" START and reaffirm past unilateral pledges on nuclear disarmament, which he described as "fundamental pillars of our strategic security."[16]

Hopes for a more active EU arms control policy have been fueled by recent British and French statements on nuclear disarmament. Each country continues to modernize its nuclear arsenal but both recently announced cuts in their numbers of operational warheads. The French diplomat insisted that President Nicolas Sarkozy in his March 21 speech on nuclear deterrence had made "unprecedented gestures" for a nuclear-weapon state, for example by publicly announcing that the fact the force de frappe now maintains fewer than 300 nuclear warheads. He called the nuclear disarmament section of the speech "innovative."[17]

The United Kingdom recently announced a 20 percent cut in the number of operational warheads, and unusual for any nuclear-weapon state, British Defense Secretary Des Brown in a statement before the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament on February 5 recognized that nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation are connected, implying that continued reliance on nuclear deterrence may fuel proliferation.[18]

EU officials express caution about the significance of the shifts in British and French nuclear policies. The EU official described the two countries' statements in favor of progress on nuclear disarmament as helpful but warned that "it is too early to tell" whether they reflect a substantive shift, enabling a more proactive EU policy on some nuclear arms control issues. Poznanski pointed out that the United Kingdom's position on nuclear disarmament is "not surprising" because its work on nuclear arms control verification "has been going on for several years." He also stated that there is "a possibility of a French change of mood on nuclear arms control. This would potentially raise the lowest common denominator on nuclear arms control in the EU, especially in the light of 2010 NPT Review Conference."

The EU also has a problem in forging common positions on other issues on the nuclear nonproliferation agenda, such as the U.S.-Indian nuclear deal. Annalisa Giannella, Solana's personal representative on nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), has repeatedly warned that preferential treatment for India will undermine the EU's efforts to bring third countries to accept and implement tougher export control standards. Giannella has also voiced concerns about the deal's overall impact on the nonproliferation regime. Thus, she stated at a conference in Madrid in November that "only when solutions are discussed and agreed in a multilateral framework [are they] felt as legitimate and have a chance to be fully respected." Giannella went on to state that this is why "the nuclear deal with India has raised and continues to raise so many questions from the point of view of the credibility of the NPT. We have here a case where a country is rewarded without adhering to all the rules subscribed by the vast majority."[19]

These isolated warnings, however, do not necessarily reflect the consensus among member states. The EU official conceded that early attempts to develop a joint position among the 27 EU members on the U.S.-Indian nuclear deal have not been conclusive so far and have been abandoned because of significant differences among member states.

Nuclear-weapon states France and the United Kingdom openly support the agreement while many other EU members remain opposed.

The development of a coherent European position on the spread of proliferation-sensitive technologies is also complicated by France's desire to boost exports from its powerful nuclear industry, particularly to the Middle East. Since Sarkozy was elected president in May 2007, Paris has concluded bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements with Algeria, Libya, and the United Arab Emirates and is preparing such agreements with Jordan, Morocco, and Qatar. No attempt has apparently been made to coordinate these potentially proliferation-sensitive sales through the EU. For this, France has been criticized by one of its closest partners, Germany. Asked about Sarkozy's policy to promote nuclear energy exports to the Middle East, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung December 17, 2007, that he "cannot recommend to view nuclear energy as the solution to the world's energy problems and to spread nuclear reactor across the world and in regions where there is no guarantee that this technology will be handled competently and where no sufficient certainty exists regarding political stability."[20]

Different interests and backgrounds complicate the creation of a united EU position on the multilateralization of nuclear fuel cycle activities. Officially, the EU supports efforts to establish safe fuel-supply mechanisms that fulfill four criteria. According to a joint EU paper submitted to the 2007 NPT Preparatory Committee, these factors should be proliferation resistance, assurance of supply, a balance of rights and obligations, and market neutrality.[21] In reality, member states have now put forward a variety of proposals that are not necessarily complementary. Thus, the four supplier states, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, initially all supported the six-nation Concept for a Multilateral Mechanism for Reliable Access to Nuclear Fuel, submitted in June 2006.[22]

Germany, which has a national policy of phasing out nuclear energy, also has submitted its own proposal on a "Multilateral Enrichment Sanctuary Project," which calls for the establishment of a new enrichment facility in a special area under control of the IAEA.[23] Notably, Germany is the only nuclear fuel supplier that is not a partner country of the U.S. Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, which some in Berlin view as not sufficiently taking into account the interests of potential recipient states.

Austria, which is not using nuclear energy for electricity production, also has introduced its own proposal on a gradual multilateralization of the nuclear fuel cycle, and the United Kingdom is pursuing its idea of issuing "enrichment bonds" as a means of guaranteeing enrichment services.[24]

Technical Support for Nonproliferation

Because progress on many major arms control issues has largely eluded the EU, it has shifted attention to other topics, such as monetary support for international arms control bureaucracies, strengthening of export control regimes, and better national implementation of nonproliferation commitments.

Since the European Security Strategy was adopted, the EU has adopted a dozen joint actions to support multilateral regimes and institutions involved in tackling nonproliferation and disarmament issues, including the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the Biological Weapons Convention, and the 1540 Committee. Joint actions are coordinated actions by EU member states involving the mobilization of resources in order to attain specific objectives set by the EU Council.

Most recently, it adopted two such actions on April 14, one giving 7.7 million euros to support the IAEA's work on nuclear security and verification and one appropriating 2.1 million euros to support the World Health Organization's biosafety and biosecurity programs. The bulk of European nonproliferation funding still goes toward Global Partnership programs, aimed at dismantling and securing the WMD legacy in Russia and other post-Soviet states. In addition to pledges by member states, the EU has promised $1.4 billion toward the Global Partnership. Yet, some member states, particularly France and Italy, have been slow in implementing their pledges.[25]

In other cases, EU nonproliferation goals sound ambitious but get bogged down in bureaucratic infighting. EU arms control policies have long been hampered by competition between the European Commission (the executive body and main bureaucracy of the EU) and the Council of the European Union, which includes individual representatives from each of the EU member states.

For example, the EU Council in December 2006 endorsed a concept paper written by Giannella in cooperation with the European Commission on the creation of a Weapons of Mass Destruction Monitoring Center. The goal was to establish a cooperative working method for the EU Council Secretariat, the European Commission, and member states "to work together and ensure better synergy in the fight against the proliferation" of weapons of mass destruction, according to the EU's website.[26] Yet, a WMD center still does not exist, and the idea seems not to have moved beyond discussions on the issue. As Poznanski explains, "Reaching agreement on some of the big, strategic issues is not so easy when you work on the basis of the lowest common denominator, as we do in the EU. Therefore, the focus of the EU nonproliferation and arms control policies is often more on technical issues, where agreement can be reached more easily."

What Impact Will the Lisbon Treaty Have?

So far, the EU's ambition to become a more effective global actor on nonproliferation and arms control has been only partly realized. As the senior official from an EU member state admitted, "The EU's room [to] maneuver is limited on issues where member states' positions are too far apart, such as missile defense and the planned nuclear cooperation agreement between the United States and India." Nonetheless, an institutional streamlining of the EU's foreign policy, a possible reassessment of its arms control goals, and a redefinition of its relationship with NATO may all lead to a more energetic EU approach to arms control and nonproliferation issues in the future.

Progress on urgently needed institutional reforms was delayed for several years by the 2005 failure of an effort to win approval from some member states for a constitutional treaty that would have strengthened the union's foreign and security policy apparatus. The December 2007 Lisbon Treaty, which copies most of the constitution's provisions on foreign and security policy issues, could help make the EU's foreign policy more efficient and effective. That treaty still must be ratified by most EU member states but is expected to enter into force as early as January 1, 2009. Among the most visible changes in the foreign policy sphere will be the new posts of EU president, to be elected for two and a half years, and high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, effectively the union's foreign minister. The high representative will be "double-hatted," meaning that he or she will act in personal union as vice president of the European Commission and as the EU Council's representative on foreign policy, a potentially difficult combination. "This will be a mission impossible," the EU official warned.

The future role of the high representative will likely depend on his or her personality as well as interaction with the EU president. Potentially, the high representative could take the lead in representing EU member states collectively in arms control negotiations, such as in the talks with Iran.

According to press reports, Solana will continue to serve as high representative at least during an interim period when the Lisbon Treaty is being put into practice, which some say could last from months to a few years.[27]

Another novelty under the Lisbon Treaty is the European External Action Service (EEAS), which will consist of EU Council and European Commission staff as well as diplomats seconded from member states. The EEAS will assist the high representative but potentially also represent the EU as a whole abroad and in international organizations, including nonproliferation regimes. Although many details of the service's funding, role, and composition remain to be worked out, it is likely to create at least some bureaucratic pressure toward a more coherent EU foreign and security policy. An early indication of the bureaucratic hurdles to be overcome is the fact that the European Council Secretariat and the European Commission are preparing separate proposals on the EEAS. Implementation of the Lisbon Treaty will also help to consolidate the complex EU funding structure on arms control and nonproliferation, although the European Commission and the EU Council will continue to operate separate budgets.

Meanwhile, some unlikely connections appear between entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty and arms control. Liska indicated that there have been signals from elements of the Czech Conservative coalition party that it would link ratification of the Lisbon Treaty to the ratification of the bilateral agreement between Washington and Prague on the construction of a missile defense radar site. "I personally would consider that as a form of unacceptable blackmail," Liska said.

A New Security Strategy?

Against the background of the upcoming fifth anniversary of the ESS, EU member states are currently considering whether to update Europe's security strategy. The idea of revising the ESS had originally been put forward in August 2007 by Sarkozy, who wanted to push for a "bolder" EU.[28] On December 14, 2007, the EU Council asked Solana "to examine the implementation of the [ESS] with a view to proposing elements on how to improve the implementation and, as appropriate, elements to complement it, for adoption by the European Council in December 2008."[29]

That process, which could likely result in an annex to the ESS, is ongoing. According to the EU official, several proposals have been floated following Sarkozy's statement, but member states have not formally agreed on any specific course of action. The official also stated that no concrete preparations are currently taking place for an updated WMD strategy. Decisions on a revision of an ESS, including a possible update of the WMD strategy, are likely to be taken under the French EU presidency during the second half of 2008.

Several decision-makers support such a review, echoing the point made by Poznanski that "a review or an update of the [ESS] might be opportune because we will have a new institutional setting for the EU's Common Foreign and Security Strategy after the Lisbon Treaty comes into force, with the new position of high representative for foreign affairs and security policy and the [EEAS]." Such a review, however, may not necessarily lead to a more ambitious text. The senior official cautioned that a revision may not be in the interest of those that support the goals in the ESS because discussions may not result in a more ambitious document.

A New Division of Labor With NATO?

The EU's role on arms control issues will also be influenced by the future division of labor between NATO and EU. The relation between the two Brussels-based organizations on foreign and defense issues has always been competitive. A new push to realign the two institutions may be facilitated by the intention of the French government to rejoin NATO's integrated military structure. Given the interest of some within NATO to give the alliance a stronger role in nonproliferation and counterproliferation issues, such a development may also force the EU to reassert its role on nonproliferation and arms control issues.

So far, attempts to raise NATO's arms control profile seem not to have borne fruit. On December 7, Steinmeier and his Norwegian counterpart Jonas Gahr Støre called in a bilateral statement for NATO countries "to do more for disarmament."[30] In reaction, the NATO council launched a review, of which the Bucharest summit took note. Yet, NATO leaders merely tasked the NATO council to keep the alliance's contribution to arms control, disarmament, and nonproliferation "under active review."[31] The goal apparently is to prepare another report on arms control for NATO's 60th anniversary summit next year.

During that summit, NATO is also expected to launch a long-planned review of its 1999 Strategic Concept. A new Strategic Concept would have to address the role of nuclear deterrence in alliance strategy, a topic with implications also for European nonproliferation policies. Not only would the two European nuclear-weapon states have to be part of such an agreement, the United States still deploys nuclear weapons in three EU non-nuclear-weapon states-Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. Liska argues that this is an issue where Europe should act. "The EU should go ahead with disarmament initiatives even alone and set an example to the rest of the world," he said. "It should negotiate the withdrawal of U.S. nuclear weapons from its territory and start reducing its own arsenal."

In the end, Europe's ability to become a more effective actor on nonproliferation and disarmament will depend first on overcoming internal divisions and reducing the role of nuclear deterrence. Second, the EU will have to develop joint arms control agendas with Russia and most importantly with the United States. As a new administration takes over in Washington, the old diplomatic chestnut that the EU will have to become more effective and the United States more multilateral will gain new urgency.

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Oliver Meier is the Arms Control Association's international representative and correspondent based in Berlin and a researcher with the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg.


1. See Oliver Meier and Gerrard Quille, "Testing Time for Europe's Nonproliferation Strategy," Arms Control Today, May 2005, pp. 4-12.

2. In the EU-3+3 talks, negotiators representing the EU's three largest countries (France, Germany, and the United Kingdom) plus the EU's high representative on foreign policy have been negotiating on behalf of the EU together with permanent Security Council members China, Russia, and the United States.

3. Senior official from an EU member state, telephone interview with author, April 14, 2008.

4. "U.S.-Geheimdienstbericht zum iranischen Atomprogramm," Antwort der Bundesregierung auf die Kleine Anfrage der Fraktion BÜNDNIS90/Die Grünen, Printed matter 16/7702, January 10, 2008.

5. EU official, telephone interview with author, April 14, 2008.

6. "France Warning of War with Iran," BBC News, September 17, 2007, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6997935.stm.

7. "Brief Remarks by Javier Solana," European Council Press Release S348/07, November 30, 2007.

8. "Solana Hopes to Meet Iranian Negotiator for Talks," Xinhua, March 16, 2008.

9. Grzegorz M. Poznanski, telephone interview with author, April 17, 2008.

10. "HR Solana Interview for Adevarul," April 3, 2008, www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/en/sghr_int/99717.pdf.

11. Ondrej Liska, e-mail communication with author, April 22, 2008.

12. Karl von Wogau, e-mail communication with author, April 16, 2008.

13. "Bucharest Summit Declaration," NATO Press Release 2008(049), April 3, 2008.

14. See, for example, "Speech by Javier Solana at the 44th Munich Conference on Security Policy," Munich, February 10, 2008.

15. French diplomat, interview with author, April 4, 2008.

16. "Address by Javier Solana," Council of the European Union, S129/08, April 8, 2008.

17. "Speech by Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic at the Presentation of Le Terrible in Cherbourg," March 21, 2008.

18. Des Browne, "Laying the Foundations for Multilateral Disarmament," Speech at the Conference on Disarmament, Geneva, February 5, 2008.

19. "EU Aide Worried by Calls to Drop India WMD Clause," Reuters, March 2, 2007; Council of the European Union, "Speech by Mrs. Annalisa Giannella at a Seminar on Nuclear Proliferation," Madrid, November 6, 2007.

20. "Das deutsch-französische Verhältnis pflegen wir nicht aus bloßer Tradition," Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, December 17, 2007 (interview with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier).

21. Preparatory Committee for the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, "Multilateralization of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle/Guarantees of Access to the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy," NPT/CONF.2010/PC.I/WP.61, May 9, 2007.

22. "Communication Dated 31 May 2006 Received from the Permanent Missions of France, Germany, the Netherlands, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America," IAEA, GOV/INF/2006/10, June 1, 2006.

23. "Communication Received from the Resident Representative of Germany to the IAEA With Regard to the German Proposal on the Multilateralization of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle," IAEA, INFCIRC/704, May 4, 2007.

24. Oliver Meier, "News Analysis: The Growing Nuclear Fuel-Cycle Debate," Arms Control Today, November 2006, pp. 40-44.

25. See Paul Walker, "Looking Back: Kananaskis at Five," Arms Control Today, September 2007, pp. 47-52.

26. "EU Strategy Against the Proliferation of WMD," Council of the European Union, 16694/06, December 12, 2006.

27. See Mark Beunderman, "EU Faces Raft of Open Questions Over Diplomatic Service," EUobserver.com, November 27, 2007.

28. John Thornhill, "Sarkozy in Drive to Give EU Global Role," FT.com, August 28, 2007.

29. "Brussels European Council 14 December 2007 Presidency Conclusions," Council of the European Union, 16616/1/07 REV 1, February 14, 2008.

30. "Germany and Norway Call for NATO Disarmament Initiative," Federal Foreign Office Press Release, Berlin, December 7, 2007.

31. "Bucharest Summit Declaration."


India Test-Launches Submarine Missile

Wade Boese

India took a recent step toward its longtime goal of deploying nuclear weapons at sea by test-firing a missile from beneath the ocean’s surface. The submarine that this missile type is supposed to arm is scheduled to be put to sea for the first time next year.

 Official details about the Feb. 26 missile test are scant, and the Indian government did not respond to Arms Control Today inquiries requesting information. India’s media, however, reported on the event at length, albeit with some conflicting data.

In addition, the Pakistani government confirmed March 5 that it had been “duly informed” of the test in advance by India. The two rivals agreed in October 2005 to give each other prior notice of their surface-to-surface ballistic missile flight tests. (See ACT, November 2005. ) That notification suggests that the missile tested was a ballistic missile and not a cruise missile as some reports stated. A cruise missile is powered through its entire flight and can maneuver, unlike a ballistic missile, which is only powered during the early stages of its flight and then follows a trajectory dictated by gravity to its target.

The missile India fired from a submersible platform about 50 meters deep in the Bay of Bengal waters was most frequently cited as the K-15. Some reports also called it the Sagarika, which is a missile that two years ago India’s defense minister told lawmakers did not exist.

All reports generally agree that the tested missile can fly approximately 700 kilometers and carry a nuclear warhead. Most reports also declare the experiment was the missile’s inaugural undersea launch. Agence France-Presse Feb. 18 quoted S. Prahlada, a top official of India’s Defence Research and Development Organization, as telling reporters, “[W]e have completed all preparations for the first-ever launch of the missile.” But some reports indicated the missile may have been previously tested secretly, perhaps several times.

Rajesh Basrur, author of the book Minimum Deterrence and India’s Nuclear Security, told Arms Control Today in a March 20 e-mail that the previously reported tests were “component tests” and “the recent one was the first ‘undersea’ trial.” He added, “[T]hat would partly explain the publicity given to it.”

Another expert on Indian nuclear weapons, Bharat Karnad, also e-mailed Arms Control Today March 23 that the February launch was a “full-system test.” Formerly a member of India’s National Security Advisory Board and a participant in crafting India’s 1999 draft nuclear doctrine (see ACT, July/August 1999 ), Karnad contended the launch was a success but “some kinks appeared thereafter in [the missile’s] flight which need ironing out.”

India has at least a few years to try and perfect the missile. Sureesh Mehta, India’s top naval official, disclosed last December that the first Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) would be ready for sea trials in 2009. If the trials go well, it could be inducted into service two or three years later.

Largely kept secret, the ATV would be India’s first indigenous nuclear-powered submarine and India’s first submarine able to fire nuclear-armed missiles. India reportedly is building three of the boats. It began developing nuclear power submarines in the 1970s, but their development was delayed by troubles in building a power reactor small enough to fit onboard.

India’s interest in nuclear-armed submarines has been no secret. The 1999 draft nuclear doctrine endorsed a sea-based nuclear delivery capability. In its May 2006 “vision document,” the Indian navy stated its intent to conduct operations from “conventional war fighting to nuclear deterrence.”

Basrur and Karnad stated that India wants nuclear-armed submarines due to the notion that they are more “invulnerable” than air or ground systems. The thinking is that such arms more persuasively dissuade an adversary that, in a first strike, it will be able to minimize or eliminate the possibility of retaliation. India claims it particularly needs survivable forces because it has forsworn the first use of nuclear weapons. Basrur disagrees, contending that submarine-delivered nuclear weapons invite instability by increasing “risk precisely because they are hard to detect…thereby reducing reaction time and encouraging early warning and launch.” 

Admiral Muhammad Afzal Tahir, chief of Pakistan’s naval staff, reacted to the Indian test by reportedly calling it a “very serious issue” and warning it could provoke “a new arms race in the region.” In a lengthy interview several months ago with Asian Defence Journal, however, Tahir discounted the possibility that Pakistan would pursue a sea-based nuclear force, stating, “[P]resently, we do not have [the] technological capability and we cannot afford it.”

Other countries with nuclear-armed submarine missiles are China, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and France, which recently commissioned its latest nuclear-armed submarine (see page 35 ). Israel, which neither confirms nor denies its widely believed nuclear arms possession, also allegedly has equipped submarine-based cruise missiles with nuclear warheads. (See ACT, November 2003 .)

Russia Pushes Pacts as U.S. Kills Satellite

Wade Boese

At the stalemated Conference on Disarmament (CD), Russia recently urged states to pursue separate pacts to outlaw all arms in space and ban certain types of missiles already forsworn by Russia and the United States. Chances for work on those two proposals or other long-standing subjects appear slim, however, as no issue commands the prerequisite consensus at the 65-member conference. The negotiating climate was further clouded in late February by the U.S. destruction of a faulty U.S. satellite.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Feb. 12 submitted draft frameworks of the two agreements to the conference. The Geneva-based body convenes annually for three multiweek working periods but last negotiated a treaty, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, in 1996. Members have been arguing since that time about what they should negotiate next.

Lavrov said his country’s initiatives were not intended to further complicate the ongoing struggle to adopt a CD work agenda. Beginning last year, members have focused debate on a compromise plan to launch negotiations to halt the production of key fissile materials, plutonium and highly enriched uranium, for weapons purposes. The draft agenda also calls for establishing less formal talks on outer space, nuclear disarmament, and assurances to non-nuclear-weapon states that they will not suffer nuclear attack.

Last year, all but three countries, China, Iran, and Pakistan, were prepared to accept that agenda. The trio argued, in part, that all the issues should be treated equally rather than giving priority to a U.S.- and Western-favored fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT). European diplomatic sources in Geneva say that Algeria, Egypt, India, Israel, and Sri Lanka also harbor reservations about the proposed agenda.

Lavrov indicated that Russia’s outer space proposal, co-sponsored by China, was not in opposition to the draft agenda or an attempt to change it. Instead, he described the Russian proposal as having a “research mandate.” But Lavrov added, “We hope that subsequently, when appropriate conditions are there, our work can be channeled into a negotiating format.”

Similarly, Lavrov suggested that Russia was not seeking to graft its missile proposal on to the agenda. He said Russia was circulating the concept for “study” in hope of sparking a “constructive dialogue.”

Neither Russian proposal garnered a warm U.S. reception. Washington has long maintained that the existing 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which bans placing unconventional weapons in orbit, is sufficient. In its 2006 space security strategy, the Bush administration stated it would “oppose the development of new legal regimes or other restrictions that seek to prohibit or limit U.S. access to or use of space.” (See ACT, November 2006. )

The administration further contends that it would be difficult to ensure compliance with a space weapons ban because of the inherent ambiguity and dual-use capability of many space technologies and systems. For instance, a vessel used to conduct repairs on an orbiting satellite could alternatively damage or disable it.

In addition to proscribing the placement of any type of weapon in orbit or on celestial bodies, the draft Russian-Chinese treaty would obligate future states-parties “not to resort to the threat or use of force against outer space objects.” But Washington argues the measure would fail to prevent the research and development of air-, sea-, and land-based anti-satellite weapons, such as the system China used last year to destroy one of its aging satellites. (See ACT, March 2007. )

Seemingly underscoring its own point, the United States Feb. 20 smashed into small pieces a defunct U.S. satellite using a modified Standard Missile-3 interceptor, which is designed to counter short- to intermediate-range ballistic missiles. Many independent experts sharply questioned the stated U.S. justification for the action: protecting people against the slight possibility of injury or death from exposure to the satellite’s highly toxic hydrazine fuel.

Several days before the satellite intercept, Ambassador Christina Rocca, the U.S. permanent representative to the CD, said the proposed “engagement is not part of an anti-satellite development and testing program.” Moscow saw it differently. Reuters Feb. 16 quoted a Russian Defense Ministry statement accusing the United States of “going ahead for tests of an anti-satellite weapon. Such tests mean in essence the creation of a new strategic weapon.”

Two days later, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Jianchao described China as “highly concerned.” After the incident, Liu asked the United States to share data on the resulting debris, which unlike that created by the Chinese satellite destruction is not expected to pose threats to other satellites or spacecraft because the U.S. strike took place at a much lower altitude, around 250 kilometers instead of approximately 850 kilometers. Consequently, the U.S.-created debris is lower than where most satellites operate and will more quickly be pulled into the Earth’s atmosphere and burned up on re-entry.

U.S. officials denied that they would alter additional anti-missile interceptors to transform them into satellite killers. General James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters Feb. 21 that the modifications are “not something that we would be entering into the service in some standard way.”

Increased U.S. interest in developing anti-ballistic missile defenses in the late 1990s helped fuel Chinese and Russian demands for a new space agreement to limit U.S. systems. The Bush administration has subsequently sought seed money for a so-called space-based missile defense test bed, but lawmakers have consistently denied it funding, including for the current fiscal year. Still, the administration Feb. 4 resurrected the $10 million request as part of its fiscal year 2009 budget proposal (see page 30).

Like the United States, Russia expresses concern about other states’ growing missile capabilities; unlike the United States, Russia has not turned to missile defenses. One of the Kremlin’s initial reactions was to contemplate withdrawing from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty so Russia could legally field missiles comparable to those being developed by other countries. The INF Treaty bars the United States and Russia from possessing ground-launched cruise and ballistic missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.

Moscow’s Feb. 12 missile proposal indicates it has shelved, at least momentarily, the withdrawal option in favor of exploring extending the INF Treaty prohibitions to other countries. The Russian proposal urges other states to complete an agreement to stop flight testing and producing ground-launched missiles with INF Treaty-banned ranges and destroy their stockpiles.

A Department of State official e-mailed Arms Control Today Feb. 14 that the Russian proposal was “well-intentioned” but “not…the best way to address” the spread of missiles. The spokesperson contended a “one-size-fits-all treaty” would be impractical because of “complex regional situations,” such as those in South Asia and the Middle East.

Notwithstanding its skepticism, the United States joined with Russia last October to encourage other states to renounce INF Treaty-class missiles. The spokesperson noted that no government has responded publicly to that petition.

Meanwhile, many appeals to China, Iran, and Pakistan to support the draft CD agenda have failed. Pakistan in particular remains adamant that the plan is unacceptable.

While calling for a balanced work program, Pakistan maintains the current FMCT negotiating mandate is flawed for not specifying that a final agreement must be effectively verifiable. That goal used to be a common conference aim, but the United States declared in 2004 that such an objective was unattainable and should not be a precondition to negotiations. (See ACT, September 2004.) Although disagreeing, most countries have relented to the U.S. position on the understanding that verification measures can be broached in actual negotiations.

Islamabad further insists that FMCT negotiations not begin unless countries can raise the possibility that a potential agreement might go beyond stopping fissile material production to dealing with existing stockpiles. Pakistan is worried about freezing the status quo in which India has a lot more fissile material and weapons potential than Pakistan. Pakistani concerns have been compounded by the U.S. campaign to roll back rules limiting India’s access to foreign nuclear technologies and fuel.

In a rare speech by a defense minister to the CD, Des Browne of the United Kingdom Feb. 5 urged all countries to drop preconditions for negotiations on an FMCT, which he described as a “key milestone” on the road to nuclear disarmament. Despite a preliminary decision last year to extend its nuclear weapons capability at least another two decades, Browne insisted the British government supports “a vision of a world free of nuclear weapons.” He said the United Kingdom would help advance that goal by hosting before 2010 a conference on verifying nuclear disarmament for personnel from British, Chinese, French, Russian, and U.S. nuclear laboratories.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also took the atypical step Jan. 23 to travel to the conference and personally admonish it. Telling the CD that its successes were “distant memories,” Ban implored members to stop holding negotiations on one subject “hostage” to work on another. He warned the conference that it risked “losing its way.”

Conference members have until March 28 to set a course before the first working period expires. The conference will then reconvene May 12 to June 27 and July 28 to September 12.

At the stalemated Conference on Disarmament (CD), Russia recently urged states to pursue separate pacts to outlaw all arms in space and ban certain types of missiles already forsworn by Russia and the United States. Chances for work on those two proposals or other long-standing subjects appear slim, however, as no issue commands the prerequisite consensus at the 65-member conference. The negotiating climate was further clouded in late February by the U.S. destruction of a faulty U.S. satellite. (Continue)


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