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"ACA's journal, Arms Control Today, remains the best in the market. Well focused. Solidly researched. Prudent."

– Hans Blix,
Former IAEA Director-General
August 1997
Edition Date: 
Friday, August 1, 1997

KEDO Breaks Ground for Reactor Project

On August 19, the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) held a groundbreaking ceremony at the North Korean site where two light water reactors are to be built under the terms of the 1994 U.S. North Korean denuclearization accord. (See p. 3.) KEDO, led by the United States, South Korea and Japan, is overseeing the multi billion dollar project and the delivery of heavy fuel oil to North Korea until the first reactor is operational. In exchange for the reactors and the fuel, Pyongyang agreed to freeze and eventually eliminate its nuclear weapons program.

Over the next year, KEDO will be preparing the Kumho site near Sinpo City, and building the infrastructure to support the estimated 7,000 South Korean workers who will live in the North while the project is completed. The Korea Electric Power Company (KEPCO), the South Korean state owned company selected as the prime contractor, is currently working at the site under a $45 million preliminary works contract that includes housing, support and storage facilities, road improvements and the transport of materials and equipment. KEDO and KEPCO are still negotiating the prime contract, which is expected to be finalized this fall.

New Head of Russian Strategic Forces Praises START

Newly appointed commander in chief of the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces, Colonel General Vladimir Yakovlev, expressed his strong support for the U.S. Russian strategic offensive arms reduction process in an interview published in the Russian Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye on August 14. Yakovlev, who takes over responsibility for the strategic rocket forces from General Igor Sergeyev (the new Russian Defense Minister), said the START agreements will preserve nuclear deterrence, enhance strategic stability, reduce the likelihood of military confrontation and provide significant economic benefits.

Although START II has not yet been approved by the Russian Duma, Yakovlev is optimistic about the treaty's prospects. "I believe the START II Treaty unquestionably is advantageous for Russia. Its ratification is without an alternative both from a military strategic as well as economic standpoint," he said. Yakovlev also noted that several Russian complaints about START II were largely addressed by the "Joint Statement on Parameters on Future Reductions in Nuclear Forces," signed by President Bill Clinton and President Boris Yeltsin on March 21 in Helsinki. (See ACT, March 1997.) Nevertheless, it remains unclear whether Yeltsin will press the Duma to take up the treaty when it returns from its summer recess.

OPCW Awaiting Data, Making Inspections

Four months after entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), implementation is proceeding apace, with over 60 "routine" inspections (17 in the United States) carried out so far. But issues remain to be addressed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the treaty's implementing body, including the failure of one third of CWC states parties to submit the required data declarations which were due May 29.

Of the CWC's 167 signatories, 98 have ratified the treaty that bans the stockpiling, development, transfer, acquisition and use of chemical weapons and contains provisions for destruction of weapon stockpiles and production facilities. The OPCW's Executive Council, the body overseeing implementation of the CWC, will hold its fourth meeting September 1 4. The council has yet to decide how to deal with the outstanding data declarations, which should detail current and past chemical weapons programs or confirm non possession. An OPCW spokesperson said, the determination whether OPCW will release specific details on data declarations has not been made. So far only the United States and India have admitted to having possessed chemical weapon stockpiles. To date, no state party has requested a challenge inspection, but the OPCW plans to conduct over 100 routine inspections by the end of 1997.

Britain Announces New Arms Export Policy

The Labor government of newly elected Prime Minister Tony Blair followed through on a campaign promise July 28 when it established new criteria governing arms exports. Foreign Secretary Robin Cook announced that Britain would not export arms to states that "might use them for internal repression or international aggression" and would prohibit the export of items used for torture.

Cook said that the new criteria would not be applied "mechanistically" and that other factors would be considered when evaluating arms requests. The government provoked criticism for opting not to apply the new policy to agreements made by the previous government, which allowed a controversial sale of 16 Hawk jets and 50 armored vehicles to proceed to Indonesia, a state routinely criticized for its human rights record.

A British official said that the new policy would have a limited effect on British arms sales, and that the future significance of the policy will be the greatest for states with poor human rights records. In 1996, Britain was the second largest exporter of arms in the world according to a recently released U.S. Government report. ( See p. 22.)

U.S. Investigating Seismic Event Near Russian Nuclear Test Site

 

Craig Cerniello

ON AUGUST 16, several seismological monitoring stations in northern Europe detected a seismic event in the vicinity of the Russian nuclear test site at Novaya Zemlya. The Washington Times reported on August 28 that some U.S. officials suspect the event may have been caused by a low yield nuclear explosion. Russia, which instituted a unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing in 1991 and signed the Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) Treaty in 1996, has officially stated that the seismic event was a small earthquake. As of the end of August, the Clinton administration has not reached a conclusion as to the nature of the event. It is unclear what impact, if any, the seismic event will have on the administration's plans to submit the CTB Treaty to the Senate, possibly as early as late September

 

Status of the Seismic Event

During an August 28 Defense Department briefing, Captain Michael Doubleday announced the Clinton administration's initial reaction to the incident: "We are aware that a seismic event with explosive characteristics occurred in the vicinity of the Russian nuclear test range at Novaya Zemlya on the 16th of August. The information which we have is still under review, and we've reached no conclusions at this point." The administration has also requested further clarification from Russia regarding the event, variously reported as between 3.3 and 3.8 on the Richter scale.

Meanwhile, in an August 29 interview with Itar Tass, Russian Atomic Energy Minister Viktor Mikhailov said, "The nuclear test site at Novaya Zemlya was closed down, and Russia strictly complies with the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty." He described the seismic event as "an ordinary earthquake" in the Kara Sea, located approximately 100 kilometers from Novaya Zemlya in a commonly known seismic area. Apparently in response to reports of increased activity at Novaya Zemlya, Mikhailov noted that "hydrodynamic experiments" (which do not utilize fissile materials, produce no nuclear yield and are clearly permissible under the CTB Treaty) are being conducted at that location.

The seismic event was detected by six seismological stations that will be part of the CTB Treaty's international monitoring system (IMS)—a global network of 321 seismological, radionuclide, infrasound and hydroacoustic stations designed to detect and identify nuclear explosions prohibited by the treaty—as well as several other seismological stations in the region. The six IMS stations that detected the seismic event are located in Arti and Norilsk, Russia; Hamar and Spitsbergen, Norway; Lahti, Finland; and Hagfors, Sweden. Another IMS station located in Karasjok, Norway, most likely would have been able to pick up the event as well, had it not been shut down for repairs.

Critics of the CTB have seized on the seismic event as evidence that either the Russians have already cheated or that it will be impossible to verify whether low yield nuclear explosions have occurred under the treaty. For instance, Senator Jon Kyl (R AZ) said in The Washington Times on August 29 that "Russia's action raises key questions. When will the Clinton administration get serious about Russian violations of its arms control commitments?"

Supporters of the CTB, however, have challenged the assertion that the seismic event was caused by a nuclear explosion and have pointed out that several monitoring stations in the IMS were able to detect the event, demonstrating the effectiveness of the treaty's verification regime. Moreover, proponents have argued that once the CTB enters into force there will be additional tools available to help states parties determine whether a violation has occurred, especially provisions allowing for on site inspections.

Since the CTB was only opened for signature in September 1996 and has not yet entered into force, the IMS is only in the process of being developed. Thus far, over 25 of the 50 primary seismological stations in the IMS, 40 50 of the 120 auxiliary seismological stations, 15 of the 80 radionuclide stations, one of the 60 infrasound stations and two of the 11 hydroacoustic stations are in existence. These facilities, however, still require varying degrees of upgrades to meet treaty specifications.

Information gathered by the IMS will be transmitted to the treaty's International Data Center (IDC) for storage and processing. The IDC, to be located in Vienna, will provide information on suspicious events to states parties to help them analyze whether a treaty violation may have occurred. The Defense Department has already set up a prototype IDC at the Center for Monitoring Research in Arlington, VA. The Preparatory Commission for the CTB Treaty Organization has been meeting regularly to help facilitate the transfer of this prototype facility to its permanent location in Vienna, scheduled for 1999, and to complete the establishment of the IMS.

U.S. To Join 'Ottawa Process'; Will Seek Changes to Treaty

 

Erik J. Leklem

IN AN ELEVENTH HOUR effort to influence the emerging draft treaty on a global anti personnel landmine ban, the United States on August 18 announced that it would join the Canadian led "Ottawa Process" and participate in the final round of negotiations September 1 19 in Oslo, Norway. Clinton administration officials said, however, the United States would propose a number changes to the current draft text, including an exception for the stockpiling and use of anti personnel mines on the Korean Peninsula and a revision of the accord's definition of a mine so as to permit the use of some U.S. anti tank systems which incorporate anti personnel capabilities. The current draft treaty bans the production, stockpiling, transfer and use of all anti personnel mines with no exceptions.

Over one hundred countries are expected to participate in the Oslo conference, the fourth meeting in the year old effort that seeks to have a treaty ready for signature by December 1997. While several countries welcomed the U.S. decision to participate in Oslo, many ban supporters were critical of the administration's insistence on an exemption for the Korean Peninsula, arguing that such a proposal clearly violates the spirit of the treaty. Ban proponents, particularly among the international non governmental organizations that have been closely involved in the Ottawa Process, have also suggested that the proposed U.S. changes could set a precedent for other states to advance unfriendly amendments to the draft text. Under the conference's rules of procedure, any proposed change to the draft text will have to be approved by two thirds of the participating delegations. According to the State Department, U.S. officials had presented the administration's position to some 40 participating countries prior to the start of the Oslo negotiations, and these meetings generally had a "positive tone."

In addition to seeking a geographic exception for the Korean Peninsula and a revised definition of an anti personnel mine, the administration said it would also propose changes to strengthen the draft text's verification provisions, primarily enhanced information exchanges and fact finding missions. Australia is one of only a few countries that may back the United States on this point. In contrast, most states do not believe an intrusive verification regime would be economically viable. The United States will also seek the inclusion of a provision delaying entry into force until a majority of producers and users ratify the treaty or one that defers implementation of parts of the accord for nine years.

The administration's decision to negotiate at Oslo alters, at least temporarily, its January decision to pursue a global landmine ban solely at the Geneva based Conference on Disarmament (CD). (See ACT, January/February 1997.) In addition to U.S. opposition to details of the Ottawa Process's so called Austrian draft text, administration officials have said the CD is a more appropriate forum because its membership includes Russia and China, two of the world's largest producers of anti personnel landmines and critics of the Canadian led effort. (While Russia has attended some of the Ottawa meetings as an observer, China has avoided the negotiations entirely.) But the CD's continuing inability to initiate formal negotiations on a global landmine ban effectively blocked the United States from assuming a leading role in efforts to negotiate a treaty.

On August 14, the CD's new "special coordinator" on landmines, Ambassador John Campbell of Australia, said the CD would not include landmines on its agenda until after the outcome of the Ottawa Process was clear, postponing serious consideration of the issue in the CD until after the Ottawa treaty is signed.

U.S. North Korean Missile Talks Collapse Following Defection

WHILE THE collapse of U.S. North Korean missile talks in late August may have temporarily set back Clinton administration efforts to rein in Pyongyang's missile activities, the cause of the break down—the defection to the United States of a senior North Korean diplomat believed to be familiar with the North's missile related transfers to the Middle East—may produce an intelligence bonanza for the United States. The diplomat, Chang Sung Kil, North Korea's ambassador to Egypt and a former vice foreign minister, is the highest ranking official from the North ever to defect directly to the United States.

Chang's defection and that of his brother, a lower ranking diplomat based in Paris, and their families prompted North Korea to withdraw from a scheduled third round of missile talks in New York only hours before they were set to begin on August 27. A North Korean official said the defections would also have "serious effects" on the four party talks (involving North and South Korea, the United States and China) on formally ending the Korean War scheduled to resume September 15.

The U.S. North Korean missile talks, which opened in April 1996, focus on Pyongyang's missile development programs and its missile related exports. So far, however, the talks have apparently not produced any changes in Pyongyang's proliferation behavior. The United States is particularly concerned about North Korean transfers to Egypt, Iran and Syria, as well as Pakistan, and its development of short and medium range ballistic missiles. In addition to producing Scud B and Scud C short range missiles (with ranges of 300 and 600 kilometers, respectively), North Korea is developing the 1,000 kilometer range No dong (which it has flight tested) and is suspected of developing the Taepo dong I and Taepo dong II (with an estimated range of 3,500 kilometers).

In a June 1997 unclassified report on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and advanced munitions, the CIA said North Korea "continued to export Scud related equipment and materials to countries of concern" during the last half of 1996. In early 1996, North Korea reportedly provided Egypt with materials and equipment that, according to a leaked CIA document, "could allow Egypt to begin Scud C series production." (See ACT, July 1996.)

As part of the Clinton administration's carrot and stick approach to dealing with North Korea's proliferation activities—offering a bilateral dialogue while maintaining the threat of economic sanctions—the administration announced August 6 in the Federal Register that the United States was imposing sanctions on two North Korean entities—the Lyongaksan General Trading Corporation and the Korea Pugang Trading Corporation—for unspecified missile related transfers. The sanctions, however, which prohibit the U.S. government and U.S. companies from doing business with either firm, are largely symbolic because of long standing legislation that precludes such trade.

Clinton Ends 20-Year Ban On High-Tech Arms to Latin America

 

Wade Boese

THE CLINTON administration on August 1 rescinded a 20 year old policy of restricting transfers of advanced U.S. weapons, such as combat aircraft, to Latin America, in favor of a more lenient policy of evaluating sales on a case by case basis. Although U.S. military contractors and a few Latin American states welcomed the decision, the predominant response from Latin America was one of criticism and skepticism.

Under the new guidelines, an interagency working group, to be chaired by the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs (although currently vacant, John Holum, director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), is expected to assume this position as a result of ACDA's consolidation into the State Department), will meet intermittently to review proposed arms sales and to reconcile arms sales with arms control objectives. U.S. officials insist that ultimate responsibility for restraint rests with Latin American countries, since arms purchases are domestic decisions. The administration is removing the restrictions to prevent U.S. firms from being "disadvantaged" in competition for sales in the region.

Lockheed Martin, vying for an estimated $500 million Chilean contract for approximately 20 combat aircraft, was an immediate beneficiary. The new policy permitted Lockheed to meet Chile's August 7 deadline for submission of a second set of technical specifications, which went beyond the level of information provided to Chile by Lockheed and McDonnell Douglas (manufacturer of the F/A 18) under Clinton's March authorization. (See ACT, April 1997.) Prospects for Lockheed's F 16, in the competition with aircraft such as the French Mirage 2000 5 and Russian MiG 29, would otherwise have been dim. A U.S. government official said the Chilean deadline was a "driving force" in the timing of the decision.

 

Opposition to Move

In anticipation of President Clinton's expected policy shift, congressional opponents of U.S. high tech arms sales to Latin America sought to counter the administration's move. On June 27, Senators Joseph Biden (D DE) and Christopher Dodd (D CT) introduced a bill to prohibit the sale of advanced aircraft to the region. On July 31, Representative Nita Lowey (D NY) along with 22 co sponsors introduced similar legislation in the House.

Both bills call for continued restraint to prevent the undermining of regional security. Representative Lowey issued a statement on the day of the policy reversal that the United States "must not allow McDonnell Douglas and Lockheed Martin to dictate our foreign policy."

Former President Jimmy Carter, who originally instituted the ban to limit sales to dictatorships and regimes with poor human rights records, expressed "deep disappointment" with the reversal and asked the administration to postpone any sales until the issue could be raised at the next Summit of the Americas in April 1998. Carter also advocated instituting a two year moratorium for both arms buyers and sellers, a proposal supported by the presidents of Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Government officials and commentators throughout Latin America questioned the motives of the decision, which they see as stemming more from U.S. economic than security concerns. Colombian President Ernesto Samper said the policy shift could spark an arms race. Despite its vocal criticism of lifting the ban in past months, Argentina's response was confined to an August 20 press statement that said states should avoid the "acquisition of sophisticated armaments that lack justification in the existing climate of peace and security."

The Clinton administration is considering granting "major non NATO ally status" to Argentina. Currently, states with this status¾Australia, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Jordan, New Zealand and South Korea¾have priority in requests for excess U.S. defense articles and have close military relations with Washington. President Clinton is expected to extend this status to Argentina during an October visit to the region.

Chilean officials have voiced opposition to the U.S. establishing a "special relationship" with Argentina, saying it could upset the balance of relations among Latin American states, but have not indicated whether such a policy change would influence Chile's choice of aircraft for its modernization program.

Regardless of which aircraft Chile opts for, Robert Pastor, director of the Latin American and Caribbean Program for the Carter Center, anticipates the new Clinton policy will result in "more fragile democracies, increased tensions, and less security and stability in the region."

U.S. Increases Worldwide Share Of Arms Deliveries, Agreements in 1996

 

Wade Boese

THE UNITED STATES dominated the conventional arms market in 1996, according to a Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report released August 13. Data measured by CRS national defense specialist Richard F. Grimmett in Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 1989 1996, show the United States expanded its worldwide share of both arms transfer agreements and deliveries, outpacing the combined exports of the next largest suppliers: Britain and Russia.

In 1996, the total value of all agreements reached $31.8 billion (all figures in current dollars), the first increase since 1992, while the value of all deliveries increased slightly to $30.1 billion, far below the 1989 total of 45.4 billion (the peak year of the period covered by the report). Nearly three quarters (73.9 percent) of all deliveries went to developing countries in 1996, with Saudi Arabia, the largest recipient, importing arms worth $6.3 billion. Developing countries accounted for 61 percent of all agreements led by India ($2.5 billion) and Egypt ($2.4 billion).

Worldwide U.S. agreements were valued at $11.3 billion (35.5 percent the total), an increase of $2.1 billion from 1995, but only half the 1993 total of $22.4 billion. The value of U.S. agreements with developing countries rose to $7.3 billion, representing 37.5 percent of the market, up from 23.7 percent in 1995. Because the United States is the only major arms supplier that maintains two distinct export systems (government to government and commercial sales), the report includes only U.S. government to government sales, which comprise the "overwhelming portion" of all U.S. transfers, according to Grimmett.

While the value of Britain's agreements in 1996 rose from the 1995 level of $1 billion to $4.8 billion, Russian agreements plummeted from $8.2 billion to $4.6 billion. Russia, the 1995 leader in developing world agreements, saw a 12 percent decrease in agreements and only delivered $2.2 billion worth of arms to developing states, while U.S. deliveries totaled $9.5 billion.

Russia's declining share in the arms market in 1996 reflected the fact that Russia's clients have less purchasing power than the West's wealthy clients in the Middle East. Buyers are also unsure whether Moscow can supply the necessary spare parts and services to maintain equipment. Russian sales in 1996 were bolstered by an Indian purchase of 40 Su 30 fighters and a deepening relationship with China, which recently finalized a deal to co produce some 200 Su 27 aircraft with Russia. But Grimmett said Russia's real problem may surface in the long term, when Russia's failure to invest in advanced research and development could place Moscow at a competitive disadvantage.

Despite the modest increase in the arms market from 1995 to 1996, Grimmett feels that the market has reached a point of stability following the post Gulf War surge and that major purchases, such as fighter aircraft, will subside as suppliers increasingly focus on retaining traditional clients and maintaining and upgrading previously supplied equipment.

Aftershocks From the Novaya Zemlya Earthquake

 

Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr.

A small earthquake beneath the Arctic Ocean off the coast of Novaya Zemlya has led to reports that Russia conducted a clandestine nuclear explosion at its former test site on the island. Although it is now clear that the earthquake occurred over 100 kilometers from the test site, some in the U.S. intelligence community apparently have not abandoned their initial assessment that the seismic signal was produced by a nuclear explosion. Failure of the Clinton administration to acknowledge the natural origin of the event will call into question the verifiability of the Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) Treaty and Russia's good faith in honoring its testing moratorium and signature of the CTB.

The current flap became public on August 28 when The Washington Times quoted one Pentagon official as confirming that a seismic event on August 16 was suspected of being caused by a nuclear explosion, and reported that Pentagon officials had "high confidence" that the activity detected was a nuclear test equivalent to between 100 tons and 1,000 tons of TNT. In addition to being in the "vicinity" of the Russian test site on Novaya Zemlya, the seismic event was alleged to have "explosive characteristics" and to have been accompanied by suspicious activity at the test site.

In sharp contrast to this alarming report, U.S. and foreign non governmental seismologists, who have studied extensive unclassified data from many nearby seismic stations, have concluded that the event was located over 100 kilometers from the test site beneath the bottom of the Arctic Ocean and had the characteristics of other small earthquakes in the area. Subsequently, it was reported that the Air Force Technical Applications Center, which monitors worldwide seismic activity, had located the event 130 kilometers from the test site.

Immediately after The Washington Times story, the Russian government unequivocally denied that there had been a nuclear test on Novaya Zemlya. With regard to the reported activity at the test site, the Russian minister of atomic energy said Russian scientists were carrying out "hydrodynamic" explosive experiments there, and other Russian spokesmen indicated that Russia would also be conducting "subcritical" experiments. Such experiments, which are too small to produce measurable seismic signals, do not result in any nuclear yield and are therefore not banned by the CTB.

Ironically, the aboveground activity observed at Novaya Zemlya closely paralleled similar activity at the U.S. nuclear test site in Nevada where preparations were also underway for a mid September subcritical experiment deep underground. To complete the parallel, a few days before the scheduled U.S. subcritical experiment, a comparable earthquake occurred in the vicinity of the Nevada Test Site.

Failure to resolve the nature of the Arctic seismic event promptly could adversely affect the Senate's advice and consent to ratification of the CTB. An official position that the matter is under "continued study" will be seized upon by treaty opponents both as an attempted cover up of a clandestine Russian test and as proof that the treaty is unverifiable. This would be a tragic outcome to what has actually been an impressive demonstration of the ability of the treaty's not yet fully operational monitoring system to identify as an earthquake a suspicious event which was of a smaller magnitude than the completed system's estimated capability.

Looking to the future, unless the U.S. government can establish a rapid and secure decision making process without premature charges of violations, the United States will lose its credibility as the objective agent of verification for this important treaty. There will be a daily average of more than 50 seismic events worldwide with magnitudes equal to or greater than this event. Unless obvious screening criteria, such as location, depth and aftershocks are given the overriding weight they logically warrant, the system will soon be overwhelmed with unresolved events. Once the treaty is in effect, on site inspections will be useful to resolve truly difficult cases; however, the factual basis for such inspections will have to be persuasive and consistent with available technical intelligence. In this case, the event was so located that treaty provisions would not provide for an on site inspection of the test site or even any land area on Novaya Zemlya because the inspection would be limited to a 1,000 square kilometer area beneath the Arctic Ocean where the event occurred.

Verification will be the most difficult issue in the Senate's debate on advice and consent to ratification. How the administration handles the Novaya Zemlya event will be a key to that debate. Equivocation on identification will feed doubts about the treaty's verifiability; a reasoned and decisive stance on identification will demonstrate the power of the monitoring system and the value of the treaty.

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