"Though we have acheived progress, our work is not over. That is why I support the mission of the Arms Control Association. It is, quite simply, the most effective and important organization working in the field today." 

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Former U.S.-Russian arms control negotiator
August 7, 2018
WMD Terrorism

Press Briefing: Hans Blix Reports on WMD Dangers and Solutions










JUNE 7, 2006

Transcript by:
Federal News Service
Washington, D.C.

Edited by the Arms Control Association

DARYL KIMBALL: Welcome to this morning's briefing sponsored by the nonpartisan Arms Control Association. For those of you who don't know who we are, the Association was established in 1971 and we are dedicated to public education about weapons dangers and to promoting effective arms control and international security strategies. We also publish the monthly journal Arms Control Today. Our session this morning is also sponsored by the Embassy of Sweden and the American Bar Association Section of International Law Task Force on Nuclear Nonproliferation.

Hans Blix is well known to many of us. He has been one of the most prominent members of the international committee dealing with the control of weapons of mass destruction. We're very pleased that Dr. Blix is speaking to an Arms Control Association audience for the second time this year; he spoke to our annual meeting in January. As International Atomic Energy Agency director general and later as head of UNMOVIC, the United Nations Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission, he participated in a process that eradicated the Iraqi nuclear, chemical, and biological programs and provided us with what we now realize was an accurate account of the resulting situation.

In December 2003, the Swedish government established the independent Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Commission and asked Dr. Blix to chair it. The WMD Commission includes 13 international weapons and security experts. You can see their names in the report that we've been distributing out front. That group includes former U.S. Secretary of Defense Bill Perry, and former UN Undersecretary-General for Disarmament Affairs Jayantha Dhanapala.

It was just last week that the commission released its report and presented it to Secretary-General Kofi Annan. It was a unanimous report, and I must say it is a rather thorough survey of today's weapons problems and a very thorough menu of recommendations about how to address them. I think it is a very much-needed wake-up call that provides a practical and balanced menu that could get us back into the business of eliminating chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons.

I would just note a couple unique features about the report before I turn the podium over to Dr. Blix and we hear from three distinguished experts who are going to provide us with some very brief comments on their observations about the report.

I would note that the report says, "There has been a serious and dangerous loss of momentum and direction in disarmament and nonproliferation efforts." As I read the report, it attributes much of the situation, though not all, to the failure of China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States to seriously abide by their commitments to nuclear disarmament as enshrined in Article VI of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. To reverse that set of problems and the wider set of WMD challenges that faces the world today, the report contains 60 recommendations, and among them-I would note too that Dr. Blix highlights in the preface himself-are the bringing into force of the Comprehensive Test Band Treaty (CTBT) and concluding a verifiable global fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT), which would ban the production of highly enriched uranium and plutonium for bombs. And if the United States does not exercise what Dr. Blix calls decisive leverage on these two issues, he writes, "there could be more nuclear tests and new nuclear arms races." On those points, I would certainly agree. So with that, I'll turn the podium over to Dr. Hans Blix. Thank you for being with us again.

HANS BLIX: Thank you. Thank you very much for your kind introduction. It's a pleasure to be here with the Arms Control Association, also being invited by the Bar Association. I'm a lawyer, although I spend much of my time in diplomacy. They say that diplomats are the only people who think twice before they say nothing. (Laughter.) However, I think both the report and I, myself, will be fairly frank.

The first question that we encounter about the report is why another report; there have been reports before. There was the Brandt Report [in 1980]; there was the [Swedish Prime Minister] Olof Palme report Common Security [in 1982]; and there was the 1996 Canberra Report, and there was a [August 1998] panel meeting in Tokyo. I think the answer to that is that while many of the problems remain-some have been solved, but many have remained in the field of weapons of mass destruction-the world around us changes. The Palme report came in the Cold War and the Canberra Report came when the Cold War was ended, and many people thought that was harvest time. Well, since then we have had also the Iraq war in 2003. We now have that behind us. Many people are focusing upon Iran and North Korea and we need an assessment as of today's situation.

The WMD Commission thinks and notes there is not only a stagnation in the arms control and disarmament field, but worse than that some arms races are actually going on. The stagnation we know from the UN world summit that took place last [September], which had no single line about disarmament or arms control, and from the failure of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference last May, which ended in acrimony and disarray.

The arms race, I think, is conspicuous, although not much discussed in the case of space, where huge sums are being spent on the preparations for possible conflicts and war in space. We have, on the one hand, armies of engineers who are linking us together with our mobile phones and our Internet and trillions of money invested in space. Then you have another army of engineers who are preparing how to shoot down each other's satellites. It would be an utter disaster if anything were to happen there because modern communications would break down; Global Positioning System, everything. It would really be a vast disaster. There has been very little public discussion and certainly no discussion in Geneva where, as you know, the talks at the [Conference on Disarmament] have not taken place for many years. They have not been able to agree on a work program.

We think the situation is worse. There is the discussion, as you know, in this country, about new types of nuclear weapons. The Congress has held back on the bunker busters and weapons of lower yield, but the missile [defense] development goes on.

Now, why is it that we are in this situation? During the Cold War there was important progress made in a number of areas. We had the Biological Weapons Convention, we had the partial test ban agreement, and we had a lot of bilateral U.S. and Russian agreements. The commission discusses that and also notes that public opinion is not so engaged in the questions of disarmament any longer. Perhaps the explanation is that at the end of the Cold War many people felt that the risk of obliteration of our civilization is gone; we can draw a sigh of relief; we can look at the global warming and other issues instead.

During the 1990s, I also think the important elements were the disillusionment and disappointment that the NPT, a global treaty, did not prevent Iraq from cheating. The [International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)] safeguard system, for which I was responsible in the 1980s and the 1990s did not detect what was going on in Iraq. We have reasons to defend why we didn't find it-nor did the CIA, nor did the Israelis, although they destroyed the Iraq reactor in 1981. The safeguard system did not function. It was not built for this kind of situation; it was built in the 1970s for a different world. But the disappointment was there in the 1990s and the disappointment about the effect of global arrangements and global institutions. I think they all had a huge effect on the idea of counter-proliferation, which was something that was prominently discussed already in the 1990s.

At the same time, U.S. military power grew very much, especially in relation to the Russians, whose military power sank. There was an inclination to look at what can you do by the threat or by the use of big military power? That came then in the war of 2003. At present time, of course, we have to note that the military means certainly didn't bring about an eradication of weapons that didn't exist. But it also demonstrated the limitations of the use of military power. So if the conventions had their limitations, military power also had limitations. At the present time, I think no one is really suggesting that in the case of Iran there would be an attempt at a military solution.

Now, at the NPT review conference last year there was bitterness. There was an unwillingness on the side of the nuclear-weapon states to discuss their part of the double bargain of going to disarmament. There was bitterness by many of the non-nuclear-weapon states that they did not see a determined effort to move out of the nuclear weapons era. There was even the feeling of being cheated, being tricked into having accepted a prolongation without any end of the treaty in return for what they saw as promises in 1995 and reaffirmed in the year 2000 about the nuclear-weapon states doing more in the field of disarmament. So that ended in a great deal of bitterness.

I think the commission does point out a number of things to which the U.S. has taken initiative and supported warmly relevant to the field of arms control and disarmament. On the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), we discuss and support that it can be a valuable tool to enforce export restrictions and the interception [of WMD shipments] on the high seas or in airports, et cetera. We are simply asking the question, how much effect has it had? How effective has it been? I saw the other day that a naval training exercise that [PSI participants] were to have in the Sea of Japan that South Korea and China had withdrawn from it. Perhaps it looked less like an exercise than like a naval maneuver of the model of 1910. I was not surprised that they actually withdrew. There is a lot of ambivalence in the attitude to [PSI], but the commission feels that, no, there are some good things in this, and we say so. I think we have a balanced discussion about it.

Resolution 1540 of the Security Council is also an element which the U.S. supported warmly. As most of you here know, [the resolution] says that it's not enough that states and governments have obligations to stay away from biological or chemical or [nuclear weapons], but that you also need to have states obliged to implement and oblige their citizens to stay away from it. [Pakistani nuclear weapons scientist Abdul Qadeer] Khan was part of the background of this resolution.

We think that is a very significant step in the work of the Security Council. We applaud that the council is taking more seriously and making use of its powers to reduce and to restrain weapons of mass destruction. But there are things to note in this. It's welcome that it makes use of these in accordance with the UN Charter. Now, what is the power the council has? We know that the council, under Article 39 of the charter, has the duty to determine the existence of the threat to international peace and security. If they have determined that, they can then go on to Article 41 or 42, either an economic sanction or military sanction.

That is a judging position that they have; a right and authority to judge. They also have then the executive position. They can decide that now we have economic sanctions, and all members of the UN are then obliged to follow suit to enforce under Article 25 of the charter. What the council has decided under Chapter 7 is binding upon them. What we see in 1540 is a legislative power. They don't legislate themselves, but they order member states, under Chapter 7, to introduce this legislation. That's a new step. However, under Chapter 7, they say proliferation constitutes a threat to international peace and security and you are obliged under Article 25 to introduce legislation. But it is a generic threat; it is not an individual threat.

Compare this with the Iran case. Does Iran today constitute a threat to international peace and security? Does the enrichment of perhaps a milligram of uranium to 4 percent constitute today a threat to international peace and security, or is it a case of Chapter 6, which deals with situations which, if they continue, may develop into threats of international peace and security. Maybe I'm too much an international lawyer for your taste on this one, but in the terms of constitutional development of the UN, I think it is an important one. It may be that the august members of the council actually will say, what can we agree to do? Once we agree on that, then we decide how we'll characterize the situation. That may be the political reality.

Now, I may get back to the question of Iran, but here we see what I've said are two areas in which I think the United States, in particular, has been trying to move forward in the field of arms control and disarmament. The commission certainly pays attention to that.

The other side of the picture, however, is the bitterness about the stagnation that has taken place and the arms races that we can see. We are pointed to what could be done in this respect. You will see that we are not, as it were, participating in the sort of dialogue of what is to be done now. We are not looking for a compromise proposal between the non-nuclear-weapon states and the nuclear-weapon states. We are not looking at that. We are fully aware that some of the proposals we come with are not things that will fly today.

We propose that there should be another world summit on arms control, disarmament, and nonproliferation and terrorism after very thorough preparations. We think that it was, as I said, a disgrace that last year's world summit did not succeed. We think there should be very thorough preparations, and at the end of those another world summit.

We're also raising the issue of the Conference on disarmament in Geneva, which has been without a work program for a long time. We suggest that the consensus rule they have about the work program is a relic of the Cold War. The General Assembly can adopt items on its agenda for the village councils of the world to discuss with a simple majority, and we are suggesting that the Conference on Disarmament should at least be able to put items on the agenda with a two-thirds majority. These are the only two procedural suggestions we have. All the rest of the 58 recommendations are of substantive character.

What I put on top, and the commission also says it should be on top, is ratification and bringing into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. That's not going to happen next week. We know that. The present U.S. administration is opposed to it. However, we think that no step would be more important to change the atmosphere in the world and to move into a different direction than such a ratification. If there was U.S. ratification, we feel pretty convinced that the Chinese would follow. If the Chinese did, the Indians would, et cetera. It would be a positive domino effect.

If one does not, well, then there is some risk. Although we have a [testing] moratorium for a long time, there is some risk that it might break down. Indeed, if there was testing anywhere then we can be assured that we would have another round in the spiraling race. So it's not without danger to be where we are.

The other big step we are pointing to is the FMCT, the cutoff of production of fissile material for weapons purposes. The report came out before the U.S. had tabled [May 18] a draft in Geneva, which was a quite recent thing, and, I think, welcome. The commission's view was that there should not be a precondition of verification or precondition that stocks be included. There are two big fighting points, but we suggest that there should be discussions and that these two things could be discussed in substance in the conference. However, we leave no doubt that the commission is of the view that a FMCT can be verified. It is verifiable, and the vast majority, certainly, of the world's countries are of that view. [Editor's Note: The U.S. position is that an FMCT is not verifiable.]

We know that enrichment plants are verified and inspected by the IAEA in Brazil and in Japan, two non-nuclear-weapon states. They're also verified in the UK and in France by the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM). A big enrichment plant built with Russian technology in China was also sold to the Chinese on the condition that it will be under IAEA safeguards. So we have this practice. Would anyone contend that this verification is meaningless, that it doesn't give sufficient assurance?

If you look at the question in the light of the proposed agreement between the U.S. and India [on civilian nuclear cooperation], I think it takes on an even greater importance. We do discuss that agreement. We pointedly say that the agreement has many aspects, including one of energy, facilitating for India to make use of the most modern Western technology. But it also raises concern about proliferation. The commission takes the view, which I think is correct, that the NPT facilitates the transfer of nuclear technology to states which are parties. It does not prohibit a transfer of technology to states which are not parties, provided that it doesn't collide with the obligation of states to work for nonproliferation, which is in the Article I of the NPT.

Concerns have been raised in this regard, that such an agreement, which would facilitate for India to buy uranium from abroad, would allow India to make use of indigenous resources to increase enrichment and thereby have the freedom, if they so wished-they don't say they would wish to-to increase the amount of fissile material for weapons purposes. That would, of course, tend to foment and increase tension vis-à-vis Pakistan and vis-à-vis China. It has a risk, at any rate, of a race. By contrast, if there were to be a verified cutoff agreement then this risk would be gone. The U.S., in negotiating with India, is somewhat handicapped in proposing that they might ask India for a unilateral action, which seems very unlikely that the Indian government would go along with it. But if the U.S. were to also accept and move along with verification of the draft that they have submitted in Geneva, then the chances would be better.

The commission is very positive on the question of the [fissile material] cleanout, the Nunn-Lugar [cooperative threat reduction activities], and the taking of nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert. We are commenting upon all of these in a favorable way, including what the U.S. itself is doing.

We are discussing the specific cases of Iran and North Korea (DPRK). We think that they're a little apart from the general discussion about nonproliferation because these are acute cases and they have to be treated with diplomacy. We are pointing to security as an important element. In most cases in history where we have had proliferation, there has been a perceived security interest that has propelled the countries. That may well be true for both Iran and the DPRK. We note that so far generating these types of discussions with Iran, the question of security does not seem to have surfaced.

I don't know exactly what is in the package that they have handed over in Tehran the other day. But I saw that Robert Einhorn commenting in The Wall Street Journal today, said that prestige and security may be important. Prestige because if you see the discussions here, you have a matter of prestige that comes up about who goes first. Is the proposal that [Iran] suspends the enrichment research then we can sit down or is it to discuss suspension?

So it's a matter of who goes first in this discussion. There are some parallels in the North Korean case as well. Nevertheless, the commission points to security as an important element. We have one idea for a confidence-building measure that is new, which we haven't seen in any governmental discussions and that is taken from the Korean context. In South Korea there is a proposal that they should revive the contents of the [denuclearization] declaration of 1992, which also embraces no enrichment, no reprocessing, either in the North or in the South; they would have to have assurance of supply from some other place.

The commission asks could it not also be imitated in the case of the Middle East? Could one have commitments from all the countries in the Middle East, those who would be parties to the weapons of mass destruction free zone, including Iran and Israel, not to make any enriched uranium or plutonium? It will leave Israel with some 200 nuclear weapons that we generally think they have, but it would stop further activities for reprocessing. Unless I'm ill-informed, I think Israel has been positive to the idea of an FMCT. [Editor's Note: Israel has gone along with the notion of an FMCT being negotiated at the Conference on Disarmament, but has also expressed reservations.] In principle, it would seem to be a step that would be possible. But you could, by that token or by that means, also get Iran to commit themselves to non-enrichment, and Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and all the other countries. You could see this step as a confidence-building measure toward a zone arrangement, which is pretty far away and cannot really be imagined without further steps toward a peaceful settlement.

Before I leave the NPT and Iran and North Korea, the question is: is the NPT unraveling? I would say yes. We are saying, yes, there are these holes or these difficulties. It didn't work in the case of Libya, Iraq, and North Korea, but one should not forget that this treaty still has brought a tremendous amount of stability and clarity. We have Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus that joined. South Africa walked back and joined the NPT. We have Argentina and Brazil that long resisted [joining, but are now parties]. They've all come around. It's too much to say that the world is sort of milling with would-be proliferators. We are warning against an exaggerated attitude in this regard.

We do discuss the fuel cycle. There are perhaps two main proposals in the air. One is the one that [IAEA Director-General Mohamed] ElBaradei came up with: a nuclear fuel bank under which you would not have any obligation of states to stay away from enrichment, but it would be an arrangement that would make it economically interesting for states which have nonproliferation credentials to buy the fuel from the bank, and they would then not have to go for enrichment. We do raise, however, the question of who decides in the bank whether you have credentials or not? Is it my successor, ElBaradei, or it the board of the IAEA, or is it someone else? Is there a veto anywhere? So that's a problem that has not been clarified.

The other main avenue that we have comes from the U.S. It is the so-called Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP); a rather grandiose idea positive about nuclear power. I personally like that because I'm pro-nuclear; the commission is neutral on the question of nuclear power. But the Bush proposal is one that supports nuclear power. It says we will need it much more; developing countries will need simpler, safe reactors. But, under GNEP, they should not buy fuel. We should lease fuel to them and when it has been burnt out then it is sent back. Fuel cycle states would take back the fuel and they would reprocess it in a new process. It would come out not pure plutonium, which might be proliferation-risky, but it would be a mixture of plutonium-enriched uranium and neptunium. It could be burned in special breeder reactors. We would thereby take out about 80 times more of the energy contents of the uranium than you would otherwise.

However, that would be a few fuel cycle states in the world that would do this. We don't quite know which are in the category. The question we would raise is, of course, will this arrangement, which is far away, maybe 20 years away, be perceived as a cartel? Would it be another haves and have-nots? It is far away. We say this will be discussed and the IAEA is the proper place for a discussion of this proposal and other proposals. It is true that if the world will have a nuclear spring, if there were many more reactors coming up-it takes time to build these machines, after all-we have time to consider it. That is what we are proposing.

Lastly, on the question of verification, the area which I know much about, we are endorsing that the [IAEA] Additional Protocol should be accepted by all non-nuclear-weapon states to the NPT. It is legitimate for states exporting anything nuclear to say that we do it only on the condition that you join the Additional Protocol. There will be pressure in that direction. It's a vast difference between the tradition of safeguards that we have from the 1970s and the Additional Protocol.

We are not negative toward national intelligence. It's true that [international inspectors] came closer to the truth in the case of Iraq than national intelligence. That's evident. We did it because there was critical thinking; we had a mandate from the Security Council; there was no governmental pressure from one country that we were susceptible to. However, [national intelligence and international verification] have different functions and worked different sources. The national intelligence has a lot of listening of our telephone conversations and they have spies on the ground, et cetera, and they see the applications for import of nuclear equipment. They have many of these sources. The international verification, both of the IAEA and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), have the great advantage that they can go in on the ground and they can see the installations from the inside. They can see the papers, the accounts, and they can interview people as well. If they're turned away that's a sign; that's an interesting sign. It has its value.

In last resort, it is the governments who act. It's not the IEAE secretariat or the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons secretariat that acts; it's the governments that act in the last resort. They sit on these boards and they get their information from the international safeguard system and international verification. They also have information from their own national intelligence. They can weigh it together and they will draw conclusions. I see no contradiction between these two and I'm not personally at all averse to national intelligence, which I think is needed. Although, we would like to see them exercise critical thinking.

These two should be weighed together. National intelligence should help international verification by way of giving them tips as to we suspect this or that, we have heard this or that, go here or there. But it should be one-way traffic. International verification must not become a remote control arm of national intelligence because then they lose the confidence of the world and they also will find it much more difficult to operate in the countries in which they are. It would be much more difficult. One can sense sometimes disdain for international verification. I think that's misplaced. I think that the two are needed and should be put to good use by all.

I think I'll stop on that. I've talked enough. We are happy that the baby [the WMD Commission report] is born and that it was born by a unanimous group.

KIMBALL: Thank you very much, Dr. Blix, for your excellent overview. Part of the purpose of this session this morning is to bring forward the commission's recommendations and to foster a discussion about it. To start that discussion this morning, we've invited three distinguished experts to offer their thoughts and comments about the report. We'll hear from each of them for about 10 minutes each. Then, we'll open up the floor to your questions for Dr. Blix and our discussants.

First, we have Robert Einhorn, who is a senior advisor with the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He served for nearly 30 years in the U.S. government and was assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation. In 2001, he was awarded with the Secretary of State's Distinguished Service Award.

After Bob, we'll hear from Jonathan Tucker, who is now a senior fellow at the Monterrey Institute's Center for Nonproliferation Studies. Jonathan has served at the State Department and the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. He had a stint doing inspections in Iraq on biological weapons, and he is also the proud author of another book, War of Nerves: Chemical Warfare from World War I to al Qaeda. He's also a member of the ACA board of directors.

Finally, we'll also hear from Dr. John Burroughs, who is executive director of the Lawyer's Committee on Nuclear Policy, based in New York. He is a specialist in international law and treaty regimes and served as the nongovernmental legal coordinator at the nuclear weapons hearings at the International Court of Justice back in the 1990s. He is the co-editor of the book Rule of Power or Rule of Law?

Bob, please come to the podium and let us know what your thoughts are. I should also just let everyone know that I have asked the discussants to provide to us what they think is one of the more significant aspects of the Blix Commission report, what is the most disappointing element or what is missing, and what are the most important recommendations upon which policymakers should act.

ROBERT EINHORN: Thank you, Daryl. I'm going to conform to Daryl's guidance that our comments fall in these three categories and I'll start with why this report is special and what distinguishes it from other reports.

One of the distinguishing features, it seems to me, is the very high caliber and diversity of the commissioners who contributed to this report. Along with that what is noteworthy is the ability of Dr. Blix to forge a consensus among these commissioners that doesn't simply reflect the lowest common denominator. The report actually says something, unlike lots of reports that are adopted by consensus.

A second feature that distinguishes this report is its comprehensive treatment of WMD issues. It integrates what's needed in terms of existing WMD arsenals as well as what's needed to prevent the proliferation of these capabilities, both to additional states as well as to non-state actors.

A third distinguishing feature is the balance that it strikes between the ideal and the practical. I'll give you one example of this, but there are many. The report maintains that the goal we should have in mind is to outlaw nuclear weapons. It suggests that states begin now to start preparing for a day when WMD would be outlawed. At the same time, the report discusses the possibility of the development of new nuclear weapons, but, in suggesting that, it doesn't call for a blanket prohibition on new developments of nuclear weapons. Instead, it says that states that are contemplating replacement or modernization of nuclear weapons systems should, at a minimum, refrain from developing nuclear weapons with new military capabilities; therefore, new missions. I don't know how the report would treat the so-called Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program of the U.S., but it seemed, perhaps, designed not to preclude such a development by the United States.

In the category of shortcomings or deficiencies, I would say that it places too much emphasis on carrots relative to sticks in persuading North Korea and Iran to abandon their nuclear ambitions. The solutions that the commission advocates for North Korea and Iran are good ones. I think they're the right ones. The report correctly identifies the kinds of incentives that should be offered to both North Korea and Iran. But, in my view, North Korea and Iran are unlikely to give up their nuclear options unless they believe that they will pay a high price for staying on their current course. The report, at least in my reading of it, gives very little attention to the pressures that the international community must apply to both countries in order to induce them to give up these nuclear options.

I think there's also an imbalance in favor of global agreements and institutions relative to less formal and more ad hoc measures. I think this is an understandable reaction to the Bush administration's tendency, especially in its first term, to disparage rule-based multilateral approaches and instead to rely on unilateral methods; methods outside existing agreements and institutions. But, in my view, the pendulum shouldn't swing back too far in the other direction. Multilateral agreements and institutions are clearly necessary but they're not sufficient. I think they have to be supplemented by more ad hoc measures. There's a synergy between the more formal and the less formal measures.

Formal measures, like the NPT, can give legitimacy to informal methods like the Proliferation Security Initiative or even coercive bilateral diplomacy. Tough ad hoc measures outside multilateral regimes may sometimes be necessary to reinforce existing institutions. For example-and it's an example that Dr. Blix knows well-without credible preparations for military action in the fall of 2002, it's highly unlikely that Saddam Hussein would have permitted Dr. Blix's UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) inspectors to pursue highly intrusive verification measures in Iraq under Security Council Resolution 1441.

Also, I personally see little value in the commission's recommendation for a world summit on disarmament, nonproliferation, and terrorist use of WMD. This is one of the two procedural recommendations that Dr. Blix mentioned. Clearly, the absence of political will in the world today is a real problem, but elevating the level of interaction is no guarantee that the important differences that exist today will be bridged. Holding yet another meeting at the summit level might simply polarize the issue further with countries breaking into blocks and adopting rigid positions. I think this was at the root of the failure at the NPT review conference in 2005 and the summit in September of 2005 to reach any consensus.

Let me turn to the recommendations of the commission's report that the United States government and perhaps other governments should act upon. I think there are many recommendations that are excellent that ought to be acted upon, but in light of time constraints, I'm going to only touch on three.

The key nuclear powers should adopt a moratorium on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons pending completion of a formal fissile material cutoff treaty. In part, to deflect criticism of the U.S.-India civil nuclear cooperation deal, the administration recently tabled a draft fissile material cutoff treaty. As Dr. Blix pointed out, there has been criticism of the U.S.-India deal on the grounds that not only did it not cap fissile material production in India, but actually it could facilitate a buildup of fissile material in India.

I think, in part, to deflect this criticism of the deal, the U.S. tabled this draft treaty recently in the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament. But, given procedural wrangling over the Conference on Disarmament's work program, as well as disagreements as to whether an FMCT could be effectively verified, I think it's going to take a long time for the negotiations actually to get underway. But a moratorium among key countries- I would suggest a moratorium among the seven countries that have tested nuclear weapons and declared themselves to be nuclear-weapon states-would mitigate one of the major defects of the U.S.-India civil nuclear cooperation deal and head off what could be a new competition in fissile material production involving China, India, and Pakistan.

Second, policymakers should heed the commission's advice to strengthen the nonproliferation role of the UN Security Council. In particular, the Security Council should be prepared to mandate supplementary verification authority to the IAEA and the OPCW, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, when existing verification authorities are insufficient for those agencies to do their job. We have such a situation today with respect to Iran. The IAEA director-general has issued a report recently which says that he's unable to make any progress in determining whether or not Iran has undeclared nuclear facilities and activities. Essentially what he's saying is that he doesn't have the tools with existing authorities to achieve his mission. In such circumstances, the UN Security Council should act to give the director-general or the IAEA the authority to employ more intrusive verification measures; measures that go beyond even the Additional Protocol.

The Security Council should also press for a more robust implementation of Security Council Resolution 1540 than we've seen today. As Dr. Blix has pointed out, 1540 requires under Chapter 7 all member states to put in place effective export controls and physical protection measures for nuclear installations and materials and for other dangerous substances. It also calls on them to enact legislation to criminalize proliferation-related activities by entities and individuals under their jurisdiction. It's a nonproliferation tool with vast potential, but it's been in effect now for about two years and two months, and that potential has not yet begun to be tapped. Members of the council should give 1540 some real teeth.

Finally, policymakers in the U.S. and elsewhere should follow the commission's advice to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in the security policies of the nuclear powers. In recent years, several nuclear powers, including the U.S., Russia, and France, have talked about using nuclear weapons in a wider range of contingencies. For example, the U.S. and others, including India, have spoken about using nuclear weapons in response to a chemical or biological weapons attack. The U.S. has also suggested that nuclear weapons might be used first to destroy deeply buried WMD-related facilities. If the nuclear powers act as if nuclear weapons are becoming more and more useful and more and more indispensable to their national security strategies, then we can expect additional countries to want nuclear capabilities of their own.

For the U.S., which has unrivaled conventional military capabilities today, it makes little sense to give others a reason to acquire a nuclear capability that can neutralize that conventional military superiority. The commission is right that it's time to review U.S. doctrine on the use of nuclear weapons and even to consider the idea of pledging not to be the first to use nuclear weapons. No-first-use, I know, is heresy in Washington, and certainly within administrations of both Republicans and Democrats. But I think it's high time that we took another look at that and the commission points us in that direction.

KIMBALL: Thank you very much, Bob. Jonathan Tucker, please.

JONATHAN TUCKER: Thanks, Daryl. The findings and recommendations of the WMD Commission report on chemical and biological weapons have received quite a bit less attention than on the nuclear issues so I'm grateful to the Arms Control Association for including chemical and biological weapons (CBW) issues on the agenda today. CBW tend to be the Rodney Dangerfield of WMD. (Laughter.) They don't get as much respect as nuclear weapons.

Overall, the WMD Commission report is extremely timely in reaffirming the importance of multilateral treaties and institutions in combating the spread of WMD and in urging renewed emphasis on cooperative approaches to security which have languished in recent years. With respect to chemical and biological weapons, the report is comprehensive and identifies the major outstanding issues. Although many of the recommendations have been made before, the main problem in the field of CBW disarmament today is not a shortage of good ideas, but rather of the political will needed to implement them.

On biological weapons, the commission correctly observes that international cooperation to eliminate the threats posed by biological weapons is more urgent today than ever for a number of reasons, including the ongoing revolution in the life sciences, which has made it possible to manipulate fundamental life processes for hostile purposes and the global diffusion of dual-use biotechnology equipment and know-how, which are making these capabilities accessible to rogue states and terrorist organizations.

In confronting this challenge, the commission notes that the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) remains the central pillar of efforts to prevent the hostile use of biology because it provides, "an international standard by which biological activities can be judged." Although the BWC today has 155 states-parties, it is generally viewed as weak because of its lack of formal verification measures and institutional support. The key opportunity to strengthen the BWC will be come later this year at the sixth review conference of the treaty, which will convene in Geneva between November 20th and December 8th.

The WMD Commission notes the need for a multifaceted approach to the biological weapons threat that strengthens the multilateral and legal prohibition regime while linking it with other kinds of governmental and non-governmental national and international measures. I would support this approach. I think the idea is to create a web of mutually reinforcing measures to strengthen the convention, including internationally harmonized biosecurity measures, national laws and regulations that make the prohibitions of the treaty binding on individuals, and scientific codes of conduct. There can be synergistic relationships among these different levels and different types of measures.

Some of the commission's recommendations are highly ambitious, such as establishing a small BWC secretariat to handle organizational and administrative measures to address the institutional deficit of the convention; the fact that the BWC, unlike the NPT and the CWC, does not have an organization of its own to oversee implementation. The commission also recommends the creation of a standing biological verification unit that would report to the UN Security Council and would conduct investigations at the request of the council.

Both of these ideas are extremely worthwhile and have been suggested before. Unfortunately, they are unlikely to be supported by a consensus of state-parties at the review conference. I think a more realistic recommendation in the report is the proposal to revitalize an existing mechanism by which the UN secretary-general can launch field investigations of alleged use of chemical or biological weapons in violation of the 1925 Geneva Protocol. This mechanism has been on the books since 1980. It has not been used, however, since 1992, and has fallen into disrepair. In order to revitalize this mechanism, it will be necessary to create an updated list or roster of experts who can be deployed when necessary, a dedicated store of inspection equipment, and a reliable source of funding for this field investigation mechanism.

An important biological weapons-related issue that is not addressed in the commission report is the huge expansion since Sept. 11 of the U.S. biodefense program, which now consumes about $5 billion a year. Some U.S. biodefense programs are troubling because they could be perceived either as undermining or even contravening the Biological Weapons Convention. Of particular concern is the Biological Threat Characterization Program, which involves the laboratory assessment of putative biological threat agents, including genetically engineered pathogens, to guide the development of medical countermeasures against them. Much of this work is classified and difficult for other countries to assess in terms of whether it is truly defensive. I believe that it is defensive but other countries may come to different conclusions. If other countries were to emulate this approach, these programs could easily become a cover for offensive developments. Thus, to the extent possible, countries should provide the maximum degree of transparency about their biodefense programs to avoid creating mutual suspicions and hedging strategies that could lead willy-nilly to a new biological arms race.

On chemical weapons, the commission notes that despite the successful implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which now has 178 states-parties, the treaty faces some major challenges. These include the failure of states with declared chemical weapons stockpiles to destroy them on schedule, the fact that several states believed to have chemical arms have not yet joined the treaty, uneven national implementation, and shortcomings in verification and inspection activities. It's been difficult to identify the most salient issues, but I will focus on two.

I think a very important issue identified by the commission is the fact that nearly all of the states with declared stockpiles of chemical weapons-the United States, Russia, Albania, Libya, India, and South Korea-will fail to meet the 2007 deadline for destroying their stocks and will have to apply for a five-year extension, as permitted by the treaty. Now, a one-time extension is permitted, but the U.S. and Russia have already suggested that they will be unable to meet even the extended 2012 destruction deadline.

In order to prevent this failure to meet the treaty commitment, which I think can be explained for a number of reasons, it will be necessary to address not only the funding issue, which is discussed in the report, but also the political dimension. How can we address the reality that countries will be unable to meet the destruction deadlines without undermining the convention itself? I would argue that instead of amending the treaty to establish a new deadline, which could open up the treaty to undesirable amendments, it should be incumbent on both the U.S. and Russia to make a political commitment to a new timetable and for the treaty organization, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, to pass a resolution approving the new schedule and holding the two countries accountable.

The other highly salient issue relevant to the CWC discussed in the commission report is the problem of non-lethal chemical weapons. Although the CWC bans the use of incapacitating and riot-control agents as a method of warfare, it contains an exemption-some have called it a loophole-for "law enforcement including domestic riot control purposes." As the commission report points out, the term "non-lethal" is in fact misleading because all incapacitating gases can be lethal if the concentration is high enough or the time of exposure is sufficiently long. We saw an example of this in 2002 during the siege of a Moscow theater at which hostages were being held by Chechen rebels. Russian security forces pumped an incapacitating gas into the theater and ended up killing not only the hostage takers but about a fifth of the hostages, over 100 people.

Unfortunately, some governments, including both Russia and the United States, wish to adopt a more flexible interpretation of the Chemical Weapons Convention rules on the use of incapacitating chemical agents. Some analysts contend that the use of an incapacitating gas by Russia in the Moscow theater incident was legal because it was a case of domestic law enforcement. However, paramilitary and counterterrorist operations, such as the Moscow theater incident, go beyond domestic law enforcement because they're an extension of an armed conflict; in this case the war on Chechnya. I think one could make the same argument about the global war on terror.

The use of incapacitating agents in paramilitary operations, in my view, undermines Article I of the CWC, and permitting such use would constitute a dangerous erosion of the fundamental ban on chemical weapons intended by the authors of the CWC. One recommendation that is not contained in the report is that the next review conference of the CWC, which will convene in 2008, should define the law enforcement exemption more narrowly to rule out the use of non-lethal incapacitating agents in paramilitary counterterrorist operations.

In conclusion, there are lot more things I could say about the report, which is full of useful suggestions, but I think the main shortcoming of the report is that although it identifies a number of worthy goals, it does not assess their political feasibility in the current political environment, or provide a roadmap or strategy for achieving them.

I also think the commission report misses an opportunity to seek out some common ground with the United States and the current administration. Multilateral treaties and ad hoc initiatives among groups of like-minded states, such as the Proliferation Security Initiative or the Australia Group, are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Indeed, I think, as Bob Einhorn mentioned earlier, these approaches may be reinforcing under certain circumstances.

To make a distinction between selective multilateralism and traditional multilateralism is, to some extent, a false dichotomy. I think there are also some mildly encouraging signs that the Bush administration may be moving away from the hard unilateralism of its first term, which has had so many unfortunate results for American interests, and toward a more pragmatic and cooperative approach to nonproliferation, as reflected in the U.S. initiative toward Iran. It is to be hoped that this new approach will eventually include a rethinking of the value of multilateral arms control treaties and institutions.

KIMBALL: Thank you, Jonathan. John Burroughs, you're up.

JOHN BURROUGHS: Good morning. Thanks Daryl for inviting me here and, as I've said to Dr. Blix before, thanks for doing this report. The Lawyer's Committee on Nuclear Policy together with the Western States Legal Foundation, and Reaching Critical Will, and in consultation with the Arms Control Association, has a program of assessment and outreach regarding the Blix report. We're planning to do an in-depth analysis, probably available by the fall, but you can see our preliminary responses at www.wmdreport.org.

One of the things we like about this report is it reflects, to some degree, what civil society groups like ours have been saying for the past decade or 15 years. At least some of our ideas have crept into the report. I'm not saying they're given a lot of emphasis, but for example, on page 109 there is a reference to a nuclear disarmament treaty. Well, in fact, in the mid-1990s, my organization and other drafted a model nuclear weapons convention to outlaw and prohibit nuclear weapons, just as the Chemical Weapons Convention does for chemical weapons. Also on page 109 there is a reference to the holding of the International Court of Justice that there is an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects. Well, that was a campaign in the 1990s that had a lot of civil society, NGO involvement. It was one of the best things that occurred in the 1990s, at least in sort of setting the goals for achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world.

Now, I'm going to turn to what Daryl asked us all to do. What is, in my opinion, one of the greatest strengths of this report? It's that it explains very clearly how nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons can be and are being controlled through treaty regimes. It explains that treaty regimes bring stability. It explains that they involve implementing agencies and review processes. It explains that states around the world buy into these regimes and buy into the rules on non-use, non-possession of nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) weapons.

This may all seem rather basic, but it needs to be understood. It needs to be understood, especially in this country, that there are functioning, effective treaty regimes, and that there is a system of international law which applies to NBC weapons. The report also very effectively gets across that regimes work when there is reciprocity and cooperation. I'm not sure the report says this explicitly, but certainly what I've learned at the UN and the NPT is that for states to accept the Additional Protocol as the standard for compliance with their obligations under the NPT and the safeguards agreements, they need to see some action on the disarmament side of the regime. That's an example of how reciprocity and cooperation works.

The report, I am glad to say, is written very diplomatic. Well, not diplomatic but it's written in a very impartial way. It's honest, too. On page 94, for example, it says quite clearly, "It's easy to see that the nuclear-weapon states-parties to the NPT have largely failed to implement this commitment" to systematic and progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally; a commitment they agreed to in 1995 in connection with the indefinite extension of the NPT. At other places, too, this report is quite clear that the nuclear-weapon states are falling down on their side of the Nonproliferation Treaty.

That's something that is well known in international circles, but it's something that the public needs to understand in this country. For example, the principles of verification and irreversibility affirmed by the 2000 NPT review conference were not applied in the Moscow Treaty of 2002. There has not been a diminishing role of nuclear weapons in security policies-another of the commitments made in 2000.

I hope you have heard that the Department of Energy was planning on blowing up 700 tons of ammonium nitrate fuel oil at the Nevada test site on June 2nd in order to model the effects of a low-yield nuclear attack on underground structures. That's an example of how the role of nuclear weapons has not diminished in U.S. security policy. Fortunately, local opposition from Western Shoshones and anti-nuclear activists and down-winders has led to the indefinite delay of that test, but it's certainly illustrative.

Another strength of the report is that it describes UN institutions very well. The Security Council is talked about in the report. The report says the Security Council should become a focal point for implementation of actions regarding NBC weapons. But the report also acknowledges the need for the Security Council to build legitimacy by wide consultations and that eventually there will need to be reform of the Security Council to make it a more legitimate institution.

I certainly want to underline those points very strongly that the Security Council just cannot function as sort of the ultimate authority in NBC weapons unless it has much more legitimacy than it now has. I don't think the report intends to do this, but if you read their discussion of the Security Council, you might think they're saying, well, we need to go away from multilateral agreements. I don't really think they intend to say that, but perhaps they should have said more clearly, we need both more multilateral agreements and an effective Security Council.

What's the greatest weakness of this report? I think it's sort of a corollary to the strength of its discussion of international regimes and UN institutions. It's lacking in dimensions of vision and values, all of which I think are assumed by the report, but they're not really articulated very well. This is more a how-to kind of report than a visionary kind of statement. We need to find a way in this country to translate this sort of international policy speak into language that makes sense to Americans. That's our job; it's not necessarily the commission's job.

What are the most important recommendations? The recommendations come as a whole package, so it's hard to single them out. Also, it's a little bit difficult to see which recommendations have a chance of being seized upon in the short term, so I didn't really think about that. What I thought about is which of the recommendations will really make a difference in changing the situation on nuclear weapons.

I think two are just really important. They have been important for a long time and I'm glad the commission talked about them. One is Recommendation #17. It calls for de-alerting of nuclear forces, and it spells it out rather nicely. I'm not going to go through it now because we're running a little bit short of time. It does talk about a commission being established between the United States and Russia to make recommendations about this. One thing that should be considered in these U.S.-Russian relationships is how do we get the international community involved as well? Perhaps there should be a representative of the NPT or the UN involved.

The second recommendation that's very important is #18, which is on the need for a new strategic nuclear weapons reductions treaty, this time applying the principles agreed at the 2000 review conference on verification, transparency, and irreversibility. The core of nuclear arms control is having verified reductions. We're never going to get to low levels of nuclear weapons, let alone a nuclear-weapons-free world if there isn't verification and transparency along the way.

KIMBALL: Thank you, John, our other discussants, and Dr. Blix. You've been a very patient audience. I'm sure by this time you've read the entire report from beginning to end and you have your own opinions and you have your own questions, so I would invite you to speak up, give us your questions. Please tell us who you are and who you would like to answer the question. Norman Wulf.

QUESTION: Norman Wulf, formerly with the State Department. My question is for Hans. First, if I could, I would commend him for his demonstration of what an active retirement looks like. (Laughter.) Bob Einhorn, in his remarks, suggested that perhaps in a WMD-free world, the United States really comes out quite well because of our advanced conventional capability. I'm putting a few words into his mouth. But, given your experience, Hans, both in the IAEA with the Additional Protocol and then with the verification requirements that the UN Security Council imposed upon Iraq, what kind of additional authority should the IAEA have, particularly if their countries are going to voluntarily accept these verification mechanisms? In other words, how would you improve the Additional Protocol, based upon the experience you've had with UNSCOM and with the vision that you have at some point of a WMD-free world?

BLIX: Thanks everybody, especially the commentators for their constructive and well-taken views. We are delighted to come out and to listen because we think we need to provoke a discussion in the international community.

Let me say simply first that on the imbalance between the visionary on the one hand and the need to be realistic of what you can achieve at the present time-that is a balance that is difficult to strike-but our ambition has not been to strike a sort of compromise between the attitude of the current U.S. administration and others. We have tried to be more long-term looking without being "blue-eyed" because we have three constituencies we address: there are the governmental negotiators, and they're hard-headed; we have the think tanks and the NGOs; and we have the general public. The members of the commission are people who are experienced in practicing diplomatic life. We've tried to come out with something that we think can be doable, perhaps not tomorrow; not a number of things will be acceptable in the current climate. We realize that, though, they may germinate. We think that this little chunk will be on the table in many places and hopefully will germinate.

Now to your question, Norm Wulf. I think the world stands in gratitude to the U.S. [for being] the chief negotiator in the IAEA for the Additional Protocol. It was a very, very tough thing. I think the IAEA did the right thing. In 1991, when we had discovered the calutrons in Iraq and discovered that the safeguards system of the 1970s was not sufficient, I went to the IAEA Board of Governors and I said that we need to have access to more information, we need to have access to more sites, and we need to have access to the Security Council if need be. That then started the work on what was called "93 plus 2," an effort to develop a new, stronger type of safeguards system. Norm Wulf was the American negotiator on the board who brought this to fruition and I was happy to see that the Additional Protocols was accepted during my last general conference in 1997.

Now, there are things in this that I'm not pleased with and I'm sure there are things that Norm is not pleased with. It doesn't go far enough on a number of points. States are reluctant to have international inspectors milling around in their installations, and more so in the big states than in the small states. However, this is what could be achieved after that calamity. As you know, humanity usually moves forward after calamities, regrettably, after them. The Additional Protocol [falls] far from the intrusive inspection regimes we had in the Security Council in the case of Iraq. We have seen how Iran has accepted the Additional Protocol on a voluntary basis. They have also gone beyond that. They have not ratified the Additional Protocol yet and they have withdrawn their voluntary acceptance of it after the West brought the issue into the Security Council. I'll leave it up to their own threat in this regard and the condition that they accept that protocol as a part of accession, clearly.

How good are the additional protocols? Well, inspection techniques and methods have advanced very much and the Iraq affair was a great learning lesson. But one should be aware that we can never come down to zero risk. Cosmetic inspection is worse than none because it may lull you into false confidence with a rude awakening, but even very far-reaching inspections will not prove the negative. We had that problem in the case of Iraq and we will have that problem in the case of Iran even if the Security Council, as I think Bob suggested, would decide, under Chapter 7, that if they stay away from demanding military and economic sanctions, that they could demand that Iran should accept very far-reaching inspections, perhaps even going beyond the Additional Protocol. That would be reasonable. However, even if this were to happen, I think the IAEA could never say that there is the absolute assurance that there is nothing left; no documents, no computer programs, or no prototype centrifuge. We could not say it in Iraq. We could say that the more intrusive inspections they have and the more open they are, the less risk there is, but at the end there will be a small risk left, and that's a political assessment, whether you accept it or not.

In some ways I think I'm a little skeptical about the resolutions which say that Iran should prove that there is no intention. How can you prove an absence of an intention? Even if you could prove that the Ayatollah Khomeini had said on his deathbed that Iran never, never touches against their religion, et cetera, they could change their mind in a year or two. It is good that you have insurance. There will be less of fear and less of concern, less of suspicion, but proving the absolute negative will not be possible. One has to recognize that. But one can only do what is possible.

The Additional Protocol is an important step, and it may be, as Bob Einhorn says, that perhaps the Security Council should go beyond that.

KIMBALL: We have several hands now. Paul Walker, please.

QUESTION: Thank you, Daryl. My name is Paul Walker from Global Green USA. This question is to Hans Blix and to Jonathan Tucker. First of all, congratulations on a very excellent report, and also on three very good commentaries.

My question is with regard to chemical weapons. One of the concerns we have around chemical weapons is the slowness of destruction, which Jonathan referred to. We now know, although some of us have known actually for a number of years, since Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld stated a month ago that the destruction program in the United States will drag on potentially for another 10 to 15 years. We also know in Russia that it will likely drag on for at least the same amount of time. One of the concerns we have is the security of the stockpiles. It's less a concern in the United States because the specific bunkering of the stockpiles, but it's a major concern in Russia, given that the majority of the stockpiles there have not had security upgrades, to the best of our knowledge.

I'm wondering if this issue was raised in the commission. It's not mentioned, as far as I can see, in the report. There is no mention of security of stockpiles, the potential theft and diversion, and the lack of transparency in security, particularly in Russia, at the stockpiles, especially where there are major global partner funding efforts going on.

BLIX: I don't remember whether somewhere we talked about it. I do remember that we talk about the security of the chemical industry. There has been much talk about safety of the nuclear industry; that no terrorists be able to penetrate them and blow up swimming pools full of spent fuel. We reason the same way about the chemical industry. Both industries must be responsible in its way and cooperate with the government to be sure that nothing is trickled off, to protect their own installations, and that they not be blown up by terrorists and thereby contaminating. But, of course I would agree with you that, yes, the stockpiles of chemical weapons, they are as worthy of protection as nuclear ones are.

TUCKER: Paul, I would just agree with that concern, particularly with respect to stockpiles that have portable artillery shells that are filled with nerve agent which have probably posed the greatest risk of theft or diversion. In the interim period while Russia is destroying these weapons, it's really essential to secure the stockpiles and make sure that no diversion occurs and improve accounting systems so we know we can have some accountability.

KIMBALL: We had a question up front please.

QUESTION: Thank you. Edward Ifft, Georgetown University. Dr. Blix, thank you very much for this report, which I'm sure will be a major contribution. A question on Iraq, if I may. At the height of the Iraq crisis, you put forward the formulation that Iraq was cooperating on process but not on substance. That seemed like a useful way to understand the situation, although the U.S. administration immediately seized on those words as one of the justifications for the war. Knowing what we know now, it seems clear that the Iraqis were actually telling the truth to a much greater extent than they were given credit for.

My question is, knowing what you know now, would you change that formulation on process versus substance? What I'm really driving at is: are there lessons for the future in that experience? This will sound naïve, but in particular, shouldn't we be paying more careful attention to what these countries actually say? For example, the way in which the Iranian letter was just dismissed out of hand without even the ritual we'll-study-this-carefully response is troubling. Should we be thinking of more creative ways to test the veracity of what these suspect countries actually tell us? Thank you.

BLIX: Thanks very much. I remember in the early part of 2003 I was sometimes asked, how could you be so critical of Iraq in January and now you are more lenient in your comments? I said, well, you know, if you are an inspector or if you are a meteorologist and you report on the weather and the weather changes, your reports are not going to be identical.

We were critical and disappointed at the 12,000-page report that Iraq submitted in November 2002. It did not solve any of the problems of things that were unaccounted for. It did give us information on what has happened since the inspectors had left, especially in the biological and chemical fields, but it was disappointing. When I used those words, which actually were coined by Mohamed ElBaradei, about cooperation on process but not on substance, there was, we felt, a restriction on their cooperation.

They could have done more. We warned them that we are five minutes to midnight, and it was only toward the end of January/end of February that they became frantic. I've been told that Amir al-Saadi, who was our opposite number, had not met Saddam for a very long time. There were big constraints under which he operated. I think he tried his best.

In February, the Iraqis came with the idea that we should examine the areas where they had destroyed chemical and biological weapons in the past. They had been dug up and examined to some extent by the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) in the 1990s. But the Iraqis suggested that with modern techniques and science, we could actually figure out how much had they destroyed. Had they destroyed as much as they said? I was somewhat skeptical about it, but I was not a scientist so I left it to our scientists. I felt that if you pour 100 liters of milk in the ground today and then you come 10 years later, can you really establish that it was 100 liters you did away with? That was my simple consideration. But they are a little better at this than I thought, and they did examine. They could actually verify and confirm that quite a number of chemical and bacteriological weapons had been destroyed in the sites where they were. As we made headway, we were disappointed in the increasing attention.

I agree with Bob Einhorn that you need also to have sticks in the background. Now, we would not have been allowed into Iraq if it had not been for the mobilization of the U.S. and the strengthening of the military. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan also said that diplomatic language needs to be reinforced by a threat. But when Bob says that he thinks we perhaps paid too little attention to the sticks and too much to the carrots, I think everybody knows you have the sticks. You don't need to talk or wave them so much. There can also be something humiliating about them. If you say that you, Iran, must behave, or, you are international troublemaker, I think it might gain you votes in some parts of the world, but it's not going to make it easy to reach agreement in Vienna.

I hear these words from the Iranian letter were dismissed. Yes, I agree with you that we should always study what they say, and in the case of Iraq, perhaps we underestimated the defense they had; namely they were an underdeveloped country, accounting was not so easy. They had in fact destroyed them in 1991. Mr. Kamal, the son-in-law of Saddam, had said that in conversations with UNSCOM leader Rolf Ekeus and others when he defected to Jordan. That was not given much attention. Of course, as inspectors, you have to be a skeptic. That Mr. Kamal says something or that my opposite number says something, that's not enough. You have to go for proof. Even in March 2003, we did not say that there were no weapons of mass destruction. We said that we have carried out 700 inspections and we have gone to lots of sites suspected by intelligence. We have not found any. We also pointed to some of the evidence presented by the U.S. and said that we don't believe in this.

As things developed when we were in Iraq, we developed increasing skepticism about it. I think personally that if we had been there for another few months, we would have been able to go to all the sites which intelligence suspected, and there weren't any weapons of mass destruction. We would have told them and the Security Council. I think it would have been much more difficult to go to war.

Maybe we were too suspicious. On the other hand, I think that's the job of the inspectors, to be suspicious; not to say that a black cat walking across the room is evidence, but still be very critical of what you see and be credible. I think we did that. Scott Ritter has criticized that [we] could have stopped the war; [we] could have said there are no weapons of mass destruction. No, then we would have deviated on the other side of our task. We did not have a basis for excluding it. I think we did well. We have to see, when a statement is made, at which time is it done?

QUESTION: I'm David Isenberg with the British American Security Information Council. This question is to Dr. Blix. Sir, thank you very much for the work of you and your fellow commissioners on the report. You state in your Recommendation #16 on page 92, "States deploying their nuclear forces in triads consisting of submarine launch missiles, ground-based intercontinental ballistic missiles and long-range bombers should abandon this practice in order to reduce nuclear weapons redundancy and avoid fueling nuclear arms races." My question is simply this: given states like that, would you tell them, reduce down to one delivery system, or would you say you're allowed two, or did you have any thoughts differentiating between that given that a few pages before that you said essentially the concept of deterrence is increasingly invalid if not totally defunct in this age, which is the rationale of course that all states today put forward for the use of a triad. It would seem that if you're going to permit them to have any delivery systems at all, one means should be enough. I'm just wondering what your thoughts were on that.

BLIX: I think our reasoning is that this leads to a temptation to have an unnecessary number of nuclear weapons. The military will say they need so many here and so many there. We have not said whether it would be enough to have one or two. The British are reduced only to subs. But the current system is an encouragement to have many, and therefore they can have their pick which one they will. There is a lot of redundancy at the present time.

KIMBALL: I would just note that if you look at the entire report one of the themes that comes out is that-you can correct me if I'm wrong-you're pointing out that over 15 years after the end of the Cold War there are still enormous arsenals, and so there needs to be a reexamination of why there are so many and not just why they are on certain launch systems.

Yes, we have a question right over here. Thank you.

QUESTION: I'm Larry Weiler. I'm an ancient arms controller. (Laughter.)

KIMBALL: And a famous one.

QUESTION: My comment and question has to do with priorities in the nuclear field. You recommend that nuclear weapons be outlawed. That's a rather long-term objective. But what do we need to change the situation from where it is today? I would make a reference to an exchange I had with President George W. Bush about five weeks ago. He was from me to you away from me. He didn't expect the question, but I said I hoped he would recognize that the NPT involved a basic agreement that non-nuclear-weapon states would give up nuclear weapons and nuclear-weapon states would engage in a program of nuclear disarmament. I said I was aware of all of the agreements that have taken place, including [the 2002 Moscow Treaty] with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but that I hoped that he would consider what only one U.S. president, Lyndon Johnson, had been prepared to consider: a no-first-use policy to aid nonproliferation in the long run. He stood there for quite a while and thought about this as though it was a new idea.

UNKNOWN: It was.

QUESTION: No, I'm quite serious. Now, maybe he was just being nice but he didn't have to think a long time to be nice. He said, I'll take your words to heart, and without a commitment on the spot on the non-using, I'll think about it. Now, my question is, how do we get a change of policy except by having a president decide to change nuclear weapons policy? The bureaucracy is a hopeless case because you can't raise this in the bureaucracy without being accused of being a traitor. So how do we change it? Do we only get a president or do we create a public campaign for non-use policy, which they support when they're asked this in polls. What do we do, if we don't do this, to change things dramatically?

BLIX: I'm delighted to hear from an ancient arms controller. My first experience came as a legal advisor in 1962 at the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Conference started in Geneva, so I feel, sir, with you very much.

Now, as to how can you bring these problems home to the leaders. Well, Mr. Ronald Reagan, certainly, was someone who had it when he was Reykjavik once and talked to Mikhail Gorbachev. There was something that he knew and he felt about.

The commission does not recommend that one achieve disarmament, whether in Iraq or North Korea, by a regime change. We are against that. I think we will also not go into discussing regime change in the United States. We are not recommending that. That's for you to discuss. I think that we have a more modest role for putting on the table proposals. Some of them could be perceived as much too far-reaching for the climate and for the bureaucracy.

I think, on the whole, government will learn from their experience. The basic feeling that I carry with this report is that, yes, there has been some sort of disillusionment for the multilateral instruments. There is now disillusionment with the military means. We'll have to come back to see what are the values of treaties; a big country usually has less need for treaties and commitments than small countries do in the world. Frankly, we write a lot about treaties and value treaties. There are those in this country, and several international lawyer too, who have a distain for treaties and say they are not really binding unless they're in our interest. Now, treaties are the replacement of legislation for the international community. The vast majority are respected. They're less secure, less reliable in the field of security and disarmament maybe than in other fields, but that's what we have at the present time.

We must make use of them. We must not make fun of them. We must not ridicule them because the United States relies enormously upon treaties in the world. I'm sure that neither Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice nor your president could come out and say that treaties are not binding upon the United States. This is how we move forward. I see some shaking heads. I've seen American representatives say so, but, in fact, Condoleezza Rice went to the American Society of International Law and affirmed her support for the validity and the importance of treaties and international laws.

This is maybe visionary stuff in the views of some. I wrote my doctoral dissertation about treaties. I think that this is really important. But not everything is global treaties. We use the word plurilateral for approaches like the PSI. The effort of a joint global community working together is an important one.

I point to the fact that after Sept. 11 there was a tremendous solidarity with the U.S. from all around the world, and that has dissipated. What you see now is a tremendous amount of criticism in most parts of the world. It should not be mixed with anti-Americanism. It's not anti-Americanism; it's a criticism of this approach. We used to see the U.S. as a lead wolf, as it were, in the international sphere, and we've seen it lately often as a lone wolf. Many people out in the world would like to see the U.S. come back to the lead wolf position, leading development in formal treaties and in joint approaches.

KIMBALL: We have a question here and a question back there.

QUESTION: Thank you. My name's Jackie Cabasso. I'm with Western States Legal Foundation and we are working with the Lawyer's Committee on this civil society review. I've had the opportunity to read the whole report, and again, I want to congratulate Dr. Blix and the commission. It is something that we can definitely work with. As I had said to you at an earlier briefing, I'm delighted to have you as a spokesperson for nuclear disarmament.

I have a question that came to my mind based on Mr. Einhorn's comments on the Reliable Replacement Warhead, which I think we don't really know what that is; it's a black box. But on page 99 you say that if research on nuclear weapons is continued, modifications should only be for purposes of safety and security, and demonstrably so. First of all, it seems a bit inconsistent to me to even validate the idea of perpetuating, extending the lifetimes, if you will, of nuclear arsenals. But if you are saying demonstrably so, are you suggesting that perhaps the IAEA should have inspectors at the Lawrence Livermore and the Los Alamos labs to make sure that the Reliable Replacement Warhead program is only for safety and security modifications? (Laughter.)

BLIX: We would be delighted if the IAEA would inspect Los Alamos. I've been there once myself in giving a lecture and I found a very intelligent and surprisingly understanding audience, I thought at the time.

As Bob Einhorn said a while ago, the commission is in favor of outlawing [nuclear weapons] in the long term. We also point to what we see as an obligation, a duty on the part of the nuclear-weapon states to see how they can manage their defense problems in a world without nuclear weapons, as the rest of the world has to do. They must weigh all the circumstances before they prolong or retain their programs.

We are pointing to the fact that the U.K. will soon be in a situation when they'll have to weigh this. We talk about whether they will extend a program [the Trident nuclear system] that no longer has the purposes, the intention for which it was created and that has a very doubtful value to a situation of threats that they may now be facing, terrorism? That's for them to say. We are not going so far as to say that this is the decisions you take. That would be somewhat presumptuous.

We are also envisioning the reality that maybe they will continue. But in the view of the [acknowledged nuclear-weapon states] and the NPT, we think that the minimum you can require, with that obligation they have to move away from nuclear weapons, is that they do not move ahead with nuclear weapon, giving them new missions; bunker busters, I think, would be another mission. Lowering the threshold for nuclear weapons would also be moving away from their obligation under the NPT, which is to negotiate toward nuclear disarmament.

We are applying the same standard without the NPT to the other three (Israel, India, and Pakistan). We say that they too have obligations to help us to move out of the nuclear. But we are saying that it should start with the biggest ones: with the U.S. and Russia. There are, after all, about 27,000 nuclear warheads still in the world, and most of them in the U.S. and in Russia.

KIMBALL: I have a question right here.

QUESTION: John Liang with Inside Missile Defense. A question for Dr. Blix. Recommendation #44 says that, "States should not consider the deployment or further deployment of any kind of missile defense system without first attempting to negotiate the removal of missile threats. And if such negotiations fail, deployments of such systems should be accompanied by cooperative development programs and confidence-building measures." Could you flesh that out a little bit? What kind of cooperative programs do you think might work? And to Dr. Einhorn, how confident are you that any kind of measure like that would work?

BLIX: If you take the possibility of missile defense, say, in Eastern Europe with the stations there in various countries as possible defenses against possible Iranian missiles or missiles in Pakistan or elsewhere. The first line would mean then that they should see if you can remove these threats first. Can you have an agreement with Iran that they stay away from development of intercontinental missiles? If you cannot do that, then the second line of the approach is that you should discuss confidence building measures so that there will be information about the launch and such matters.

On missiles, I was asked yesterday the question about why are you so shy; why are you not proposing a treaty convention banning missiles altogether? I was somewhat taken aback because we hadn't really seen the possibility. It seems so hopelessly unrealistic to get to today. There have been discussions in the UN and they have said that's a very great problem but there is no agreement whatever about it. If one moves away from nuclear weapons, then there will also be a lesser need for missiles. It has to go along in a dynamic way toward disarmament. I think that that will also make the missile threat less. It is a big issue that I think we have not penetrated enough and certainly we have not come up with a viable proposal.

EINHORN: I think it's important that there be a relationship between missile threats and missile defenses. The problem is you may have a mismatch between the lead times for both. There's a very long lead time to be able to develop and deploy effective defenses, and if a country has already developed missiles and even flight tested missiles and has a certain confidence that they would work if deployed, that could be a very short timeframe for the threat to materialize.

I think it's hard. Can we count on a negotiation to stop North Korea's long-range missile capability, or Iran's? I don't think we can. I think we should try to do it. In the Clinton administration we got pretty far in negotiating a ban on North Korea's long-range missile capability, but that didn't materialize and now I've seen news reports that the North Koreans may be preparing to conduct a flight test of a Taepodong-II missile.

I think it would be hard to persuade proponents of missile defenses that we can rely on negotiations to suppress the threat indefinitely.

KIMBALL: I think we had another question back here.

QUESTION: Thank you. Sharon Squassoni from the Congressional Research Service. Thanks for your report, which I haven't read in-depth. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems your report calls for universal adherence to the BWC and CWC but not the NPT. If that's the case, if you could just explain why it didn't.

My other question is on the fissile cutoff. Your report probably was completed before the U.S. draft treaty was tabled, but I wonder if even in your capacity as a lawyer, you could comment on three aspects of the treaty which I find a little troubling. One is the duration for 15 years. The other is that entry into force is only dependant on the five nuclear-weapon states. The last is what looks to me like an exemption for production of highly enriched uranium (HEU) for naval fuel, naval propulsion. Thank you.

BLIX: Right. On the three conventions, we call for universal adherence to the CWC and to the BWC. They do not make distinctions between any states so that is entirely natural. But the NPT does make a difference between the nuclear-weapon states and the others. The cases you are really asking about are India, Pakistan, and Israel. We are saying that we are seeing them as states which possess nuclear weapons. That's the reality. We are saying that they have obligations to move away from nuclear weapons along with the others, though it should start with the U.S. and Russia, which have the largest numbers.

There is no way in which [India, Israel, and Pakistan] can adhere to the NPT without doing away with their nuclear weapons. It is recognition of a fact that they have them and that none will move away from them. I don't think it helps us really to close our eyes to that fact. We must get back to reality. I gave a series of lectures once about recognition. There are many situations in the world which say that, well, we've tried to get rid of this by not saying that it exists. I don't think that's realistic and we have not gotten by that method. We would like to see them accept obligations, but I don't think it's realistic to say that they should come in the NPT. There could be other ways.

On the cutoff, you have perhaps more information and have seen the cutoff draft, which I have not. I was puzzled also by the idea that it should enter into force only with the ratification of five states. I would have thought that it was essential to have the three others coming in as well. In a way, the cutoff agreement would not really require to have more than the eight or nine members in it. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, too, in a way would not really require more than eight or nine members in it because all non-nuclear-weapon states-parties of the NPT are prohibited from testing nuclear weapons. But you have an espousal of it by the whole international community, which is good and I recognize that.

In the case of a cutoff, yes, again, it's the five plus the three plus North Korea. That would be essential to have. No [non-nuclear-weapon states] of the NPT is allowed to produce enriched uranium for weapon purposes anyway. But I would take the view that, yes, you would need all of those who have nuclear weapons.

The last point was about the exemption of highly enriched uranium? I think, for the time being at any rate, highly enriched uranium is needed for submarines and is also needed in some reactors, although the world is trying to convert these reactors to low enriched uranium. We are urging in the report a phase-out of the production of highly enriched uranium. The French use a low-enriched uranium in their submarines, so in the longer run it ought to be possible.

We are more lenient on plutonium. We are saying that they should consider what they can do to reduce plutonium because we have huge plutonium producers in the U.K. and France and in The Hague and so forth based upon an economic calculation that is probably not valid any longer: that it would be economically useful to go for reprocessing and breeder reactors. But it will take time to move us out of that.

As GNEP demonstrates, breeder reactors may indeed come back in the world if we need more nuclear power. It's just not a subject that fills many people with enthusiasm in the U.S. If you look at the problem of energy in the world, well, it may take on a little different color. While we say that one should reduce it to what is needed, we are not saying that repossessing should be outlawed.

KIMBALL: Bob, you had another comment about this.

EINHORN: Yeah, just on the entry into force. I actually think that they came to the right conclusion that there should be five and no more. Why? Because those are the five NPT nuclear-weapon states so they have a responsibility to take such steps. If the five joined, I think that would put very substantial pressure on the others to come onboard. I think that would be effective, whereas if you made adherence by seven or eight or nine a necessary requirement, I think it could have an opposite effect. I think we had that opposite effect with India and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Also, if you decide more than five, where do you stop? Is it seven? Is it eight? The eighth, of course, is Israel. I know Israel's position on an FMCT. It's non-recognition; it's "head in the sand" because Israel doesn't want to have to defend to its public that we have enough and we don't need more because what's enough? Israel doesn't admit that it has a nuclear capability.

I think if you try to get seven or eight, you import into this issue all kinds of difficult political problems and you may hang up getting a treaty at all. I think five is the right number.

BLIX: I would disagree with you on this one. I think we talked about the Indian deal a little while ago and the risk that if they were to go on and import more uranium it could also cause Pakistan to move with it and China as well. I think it would be highly desirable to have them there.

In the case of Israel, yes, I agree that's a complication that they don't admit that they have nuclear weapons. However, I think that's something that would be finessed. Maybe, you can have commitments which are made to the Security Council. I'm glad that we have some disagreements too.

KIMBALL: Beyond the specifics here, let me draw us back to something that Bob said in his comments about the FMCT that I think is important to remember is that while there is this United States proposal that's been put forward, there are differences at the Conference on Disarmament about verification. There continue to be differences about whether other issues can be discussed or negotiated at the Conference on Disarmament.

The United States does not support the discussion of a treaty to prevent an arms race in outer space. For all intents and purposes, this proposal is there, but it is not going anywhere soon, at least in our estimation. Therefore I think it is important to come back to what Bob has suggested, which is that it might be useful for there to be a similar agreement that is reached among the seven key countries that have acknowledged they have nuclear weapons to stop fissile material for weapons purposes.

I think we have run out of time. We have covered an enormous amount of ground. I want to thank the audience for your patience and your interest. I want to thank Dr. Blix for his time, once again, with the Arms Control Association, and to our discussants for reading the report, thinking about it, and providing us with their thoughtful remarks. We do have many copies out front, courtesy of the WMD Commission and the Swedish Embassy. I know you probably already have one, but I would encourage you to take one on the way out for a friend because my staff doesn't want to bring back loads of boxes to our office and we want people to use them.

We've covered a lot here, and let me just remind you about one theme that comes out of the report that I think is important for us to remember as we go away from this, which is something that Dr. Blix notes in his preface: all WMD are inherently dangerous in anybody's hands and so long as any state has such weapons, especially nuclear weapons, others will want them. This is a problem that exists. Whether the United States or other countries have them or don't have them, we all need to work together and try to move forward to make progress. Thank you very much. (Applause.)


UN Extends Committee on Terrorists and Arms

Wade Boese

In a unanimous vote April 27, the UN Security Council extended for two years a committee charged with monitoring efforts by states to prevent nonstate actors from acquiring or developing biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons. The vote on Resolution 1673 reflected general satisfaction with the committee’s activities to date but also an acknowledgement that much work remains to be done.

The committee’s origins can be traced to a September 2003 speech by President George W. Bush calling for a UN resolution criminalizing proliferation. (See "Bush Calls on UN to Curb Proliferation," October 2003.) After several months of debate and the exposure of the nuclear black market network run by Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1540 in April 2004 requiring all countries to “adopt and enforce appropriate effective laws” prohibiting nonstate actors from obtaining unconventional arms. (See "Security Council Unanimously Adopts Resolution Denying Terrorists WMD," May 2004.) Neither “appropriate” nor “effective” were defined.

The so-called 1540 committee was originally established for a two-year period ending April 28, 2006, to review mandated country reports detailing individual UN members’ implementation of the resolution. By April 20, the committee, which comprises the 15 current Security Council members, had received and assessed at least the initial reports of 129 countries; 62 countries failed to file a report. Eight experts hired by the committee helped evaluate the reports.

In an April 25 report of its findings, the committee revealed that many countries lack laws, border controls, and export controls to prevent the spread of unconventional weapons to nonstate actors. For example, the committee reported that only 77 countries have a “national legal framework to control the flow of goods across their borders” and just 80 governments “have some export control legislation” pertaining to unconventional weapons items.

The report further noted the committee’s concern “about the number of states that still have no legislation in place that prohibits and penalizes the possible use by non-State actors of their territory as a safe haven” for unconventional weapons activities. Although many governments contend they do not have such weapons or the materials that can be used to make them, the committee asserted that all states must adopt laws regarding such arms because “their territories may still be used as part of the proliferation pathway.”

An official associated with the committee told Arms Control Today May 12 that the recent report reveals the “poor job” countries have done in implementing the resolution. “It leads one to believe that we have been pretty lucky [in avoiding a terrorist attack employing unconventional arms],” the official remarked.

Speaking May 18 in Tokyo, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan declared, “More must be done to ensure compliance with Security Council Resolution 1540.”

A Department of State official interviewed May 18 by Arms Control Today described implementation of the resolution as being at an “early stage” and admitted “there remains a great deal of capacity-building and education to be done.” Nevertheless, the official described the 1540 committee as an “important tool” that can be used to “prod states” into taking action.

Many countries, particularly those that did not file reports, claim they do not have the infrastructure or resources to implement the resolution. Nearly all of the governments that did not file reports are relatively poorer countries from Africa, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific. North Korea is the only state with known nuclear weapons capabilities that has not reported.

Resolution 1540 urged governments “in a position to do so” to assist those that might have trouble fulfilling their obligations. The April 25 report noted that 46 countries have volunteered to provide assistance, while 32 countries requested such help.

However, little, if any, specific assistance has been rendered, according to several U.S. and foreign government officials interviewed by Arms Control Today. A senior State Department official said May 15 that one of the key challenges for the committee over the next two years will be “marrying up donors with recipients.”

A precise work program for the committee remains to be settled. However, a general sense exists that the committee will intensify its efforts to obtain reports from countries that have failed to provide them and to bring donors and recipients together. One diplomatic source at the United Nations told Arms Control Today May 18 that both areas are of particular interest to Slovakian Ambassador Peter Burian, who was appointed chairman of the committee Jan. 4.

What remains uncertain is whether the committee will take a bigger role in prioritizing and recommending remedial actions for countries to strengthen their laws and export and border controls. The official associated with the committee said that many countries “won’t find it acceptable” if it is telling them what to do. The senior State Department official also stressed that it is important for donors to provide assistance without being “too heavy-handed or intrusive.”

Still, one area where Washington will urge action is pushing countries to specify penalties that will be imposed if entities help finance proliferation. The United States instituted Executive Order 13382 with this objective last June (see "United States Eyes Proliferator's Assets," September 2005) and has sanctioned 20 foreign entities to date using the measure.

Like its predecessor, Resolution 1673 was adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which authorizes the Security Council to take punitive actions if it chooses. Although top U.S. officials have repeatedly pointed out this option in past speeches, the senior State Department official said that possibility is not likely to be invoked anytime soon. However, the official said the question of how to respond to countries that ignore the committee’s outreach activities is something the Security Council might eventually have to address.


Pentagon Defends Global-Strike Plan

Wade Boese

A recently unveiled initiative to arm some U.S. submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) with conventional warheads has lawmakers wondering whether dangerous misunderstandings and miscalculations could arise with other nuclear powers, particularly Russia. Pentagon officials downplay the possibility, contending that the benefits of the new capability outweigh the potential risks.

The Department of Defense is asking Congress this year for $127 million to start replacing nuclear warheads with conventional warheads on 24 Trident D-5 SLBMs. Within two years, two dozen missiles would be equally dispersed among 12 separate submarines, which means each vessel would carry 22 nuclear-armed and two conventional-armed missiles. The conventional warheads, four per missile, would be either a solid slug or a bundle of rods known as a flachette round, not explosive warheads.

Although the Bush administration revealed its intentions to pursue conventional global-strike capabilities in its December 2001 Nuclear Posture Review, the SLBM option was first detailed in early February as part of the Quadrennial Defense Review. (See ACT, March 2006.) The so-called prompt global-strike concept behind the SLBM conversion seeks to enable the United States to attack a target anywhere in the world with a conventional warhead in less than an hour.

At a March 29 hearing of the Senate Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, legislators expressed some unease about the SLBM proposal. Subcommittee chairman Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and ranking member Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) both questioned whether submarines with mixed loads might cause confusion for other countries about the type of missile fired and its intended target. In such a circumstance, they worried a country might mistakenly conclude that it was under U.S. nuclear attack and potentially retaliate with nuclear weapons.

Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy Peter Flory said the Pentagon takes this concern “very seriously.” However, he and General James Cartwright, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, minimized the danger of miscalculation. In addition to its traditional mission of exercising operational control over deployed nuclear forces, Strategic Command over the past few years also has been tasked with overseeing the development and fielding of missile defenses and global-strike capabilities.

Flory said that the United States has emergency communication mechanisms, such as hotlines, with Russia and China “for mitigating any potential risk of misperception.” Cartwright and Flory also stated the United States would rely on advance notification measures and military-to-military talks to help alleviate uncertainty. They further asserted the launch and trajectory of a conventional system could be made to appear differently than that of a nuclear missile.

Cartwright also made the case that the United States has a long record of launching non-nuclear missiles without a negative incident. “Since 1968, we’ve launched 433 of these warheads on these missiles without ambiguity through notification processes,” Cartwright testified. The general was referring to SLBM test launches not involving nuclear warheads, a spokesperson from Strategic Command told Arms Control Today April 21.

Claiming that Russia is the sole country with the current capability to detect and respond rapidly to a ballistic missile launch, Flory argued that “the Russians will know very quickly as they have all the way through the Cold War and up to today what the trajectory is and where the impact points will be.”

Still, Russia detected a missile launch near Norway in January 1995 that led Kremlin leaders to be notified that the United States might have initiated a surprise nuclear attack. Moscow did not immediately order a counterattack and, after anxious minutes, eventually determined that the “missile,” which was a scientific rocket, posed no threat.

Flory and Cartwright maintained that proceeding with conventional SLBMs was worthwhile. Cartwright contended such a capability gives the United States an option for dealing with “fleeting targets” that have a high “regret” factor if they are not destroyed, such as unconventional weapons threats, enemy command and control elements, and terrorists. “In many cases, nuclear weapons are not going to be an appropriate choice for those types of targets, and so you want a conventional alternative,” Cartwright said.

SLBMs were selected over ICBMs as the inaugural conventional prompt global-strike option in part because of their greater accuracy and global range. U.S. ICBM fields are in Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming, limiting the missiles’ reach and increasing possible overflight and miscalculation problems, particularly with Russia.

Corrected online August 29, 2008. See explanation.



Resolution 1540: Universalizing Export Control Standards?

Scott Jones

In 2003, President George W. Bush called on the United Nations to pass a resolution to “criminalize” the proliferation of “weapons of mass destruction” (WMD) by and to nonstate actors. The next year, the UN Security Council obliged, passing Resolution 1540 on the nonproliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons as well as related delivery systems.

Based on Chapter VII of the UN Charter, the resolution called for states to comply with a battery of legal obligations and report on their progress in implementing the resolution. It also called for the formation of a new UN committee to receive and compile the reports. That committee’s term was initially set to expire at the end of April, but on April 27 the Security Council unanimously approved Resolution 1673 extending the committee’s term for two years.

Inspired by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and by revelations surrounding the proliferation network of Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, the resolution was explicitly designed to address a gap in current nonproliferation treaties and arrangements as well as deficiencies in national legislation. The gap concerns nonstate actors[1] because, strictly speaking, these groups are not captured by such treaties as the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) or the Chemical Weapons Convention.[2]

Still, the treaty ultimately relies on states to curb such nonstate efforts. Resolution 1540 calls on states to put in place “appropriate effective measures to account for and secure” WMD-related items in production, use, storage, or transport and to “maintain appropriate effective physical protection measures” of said items. Most importantly, the resolution seeks to address the absence of universal standards for export controls, representing one of the most far-reaching efforts in this regard since the creation of the NPT.

Now with the recent extension of the committee created to ascertain compliance with the resolution, it is an appropriate time to assess whether the implementation of the resolution has lived up to the goals of the international community. The assessment is mixed. The resolution has played a valuable role in spurring a more focused and sustained effort to create a truly international standard for export controls beyond those of the limited current multilateral regimes. Yet, both the report and the committee’s work illustrate distinct problems with transparency, resources, guidance, awareness, and mandate. If the committee’s extension is to prove truly useful, these issues need to be addressed.[3]

Articulating Universal Export Control Standards

The current de facto standards for export controls are shared among the multilateral export control arrangements: the Australia Group, the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime, and the Wassenaar Arrangement (see "Multilateral Export Control Regimes"). Because their rules are restricted to their limited membership, however, they also have limited global currency. When strategic technologies were produced by and traded among a smaller number of states, export controls were effectively applied by and between these supplier states. With an increase in the amount of global trade in strategic technologies and dual-use goods (those with both civilian and military applications), regime nonmember countries with weak export controls can compromise international export control efforts.

As Figure 1 indicates, Resolution 1540 identifies the key elements of effective export controls. Specifically, the resolution calls for the creation of “effective” laws to control WMD-related transfers. Leaving aside the ambiguities inherent in “effective,” the first three paragraphs of the resolution provide the legal basis to address brokering, transit, transshipment, and re-export controls and sufficient penalties for violations. As the resolution is legally binding, all UN member states must adopt such laws, albeit in a manner according “with their national procedures.” Likewise, paragraph six of the resolution calls on states to develop “national control lists and calls upon all member states, when necessary, to pursue at the earliest opportunity the development of such lists.”[4]

In addition, states must develop an enforcement capacity to police exports and transfers of sensitive items. States are urged to “develop and maintain appropriate effective border controls and law enforcement efforts to detect, deter, prevent and combat, including through international cooperation when necessary, the illicit trafficking and brokering in such items in accordance with their national legal authorities and legislation and consistent with international law.”[5]

To ensure compliance with the “effective” laws, the resolution calls on states to “develop appropriate ways to work with and inform industry and the public regarding their obligations under such laws.” That is because, apart from direct theft of strategic goods and technologies (e.g., fissile material), WMD acquisition efforts are based on otherwise routine commercial transactions.[6] States such as Iraq, Iran, Libya, North Korea, and others were able to procure sensitive technology, innocuous-looking dual-use materials, and know-how through direct and semi-commercial channels. They did this by using already existing networks of scientists, technologists, and businessmen who had been cooperating for decades in the WMD procurement efforts of various countries, the Khan network being the most recent example. They operated through real or shell companies, brokerage firms with shady antecedents, and insignificant and/or overlooked warehousing facilities around the world. Much of the proliferation took place by exploiting loopholes in existing national export control systems of major supplier states whose policies have been shaped by the guidelines of the multilateral regimes.[7]

The resolution acknowledges this reality in its comparative detail of export control standards. Unlike materials accounting, physical protection, and control, export control requirements contain specific references to, for example, brokering and transshipment controls. Both brokering and transshipment controls speak directly to the actual means by which proliferants seek to acquire dual-use items. For instance, the most recent example of dual-use brokering, the 2004 arrest of Israeli Asher Karni for allegedly re-exporting U.S.-made triggered spark gaps from South Africa to Pakistan, suggests that proliferation is also being driven by middlemen.[8] Dubai may not itself be the source of dangerous technologies or materials, but it found itself at the center of the Khan network in a transit and transshipment capacity.[9]

In summary, Resolution 1540 identifies the necessary elements of effective national export controls: legal basis, enforcement capacity, and industry-government relations. Although the resolution’s universality is viewed somewhat skeptically by many—it was approved by the 15 members of the Security Council rather than the 191 members of the UN General Assembly—it was unanimously adopted.[10] Nevertheless, as with similar resolutions, the likelihood of implementation is problematic for reasons of scale, resource, and commitment.

Implementation Problems

Although the resolution delineated general export control standards, implementation has been and will be limited by perceptual and awareness problems associated with export controls. To states outside the current multilateral export control regimes, export controls are unfamiliar tools. Even within the regimes, export control development varies greatly.[11] Compounding matters, trade controls are unpopular internationally. For several years, the multilateral export control regimes have been viewed as “supplier cartels” engineered to keep high technology from developing countries.[12] Further, heavily trade-dependent countries in regions such as Asia view trade controls as antithetical to their economic development. This wariness is to some extent enshrined in the resolution. Rather than explicitly seeking to curtail trade in dual-use goods, which would have complicated the adoption and the implementation of the resolution, the Security Council adopted the politically expedient term “related materials.”[13] Yet, it is precisely dual-use goods, materials, and technology that reside at the heart of the proliferation problem.

Through the resolution, a 1540 Committee was created to assess compliance. Within its original two-year mandate, the committee, composed of Security Council representatives and select outside experts, developed a matrix to review the national reports in a comprehensive, systematic manner. Yet, its ability to do so effectively has been limited. The resolution, for instance, does not specify what would constitute “appropriate effective national export and transshipment controls.” Additionally, the committee is not empowered to establish such criteria. [14] Therefore, the effort to assess implementation has been undermined by the absence of commonly agreed-on definitions. The work of the committee has also been hampered by resource constraints and the routine political complications surrounding the UN in general and the Security Council specifically.[15]

Adherence to the resolution by all 191 members is complicated by the fact that export controls are a relatively novel concept to many countries. As one staff member of the 1540 Committee commented, “[O]ne should not underestimate the lack of understanding of the resolution, especially with respect to export controls.”[16] To many states, the obligations accruing from the resolution are simply not clear. This situation is evident in various reports. For example, Yemen’s submission is only five lines long. Other countries have done even less: according to a draft April 21 report from the 1540 committee to the Security Council, roughly a third of the UN membership (62 countries) had yet to submit their first national report by the end of the panel’s original two-year term.

To help such countries, Resolution 1540 invites states to offer assistance to other “states lacking the legal and regulatory infrastructure, implementation experience and/or resources” to “fulfill the provisions of the resolution,” but it does not demand that they do so. In other words, Resolution 1540 is an unfunded mandate: compliance is required without direct recourse to resources. According to the 1540 committee, 46 countries, of the 124 countries submitting reports, have offered assistance, the bulk of which is devoted to export controls. At least 37 of these states made offers of or have programs in place for direct, or country-to-country, assistance; and at least 31 reports provide detailed data on offers or programs in at least one category by type (training or expertise); scope (legal or implementation); subject (physical protection or export controls); and region. Interestingly, Pakistan is among the 46 states offering export control assistance.[17]

With respect to requests for assistance, 32 states have requested assistance in implementing the resolution. Twenty-four of these states have made specific requests, but some of the requests are quite general. For example, Jordan states that it is “ready to cooperate with countries which are able to provide assistance, in terms of either legislation or operational skills and resources, with a view to implementation of the resolution.”

On the other hand, some states with recent negative export control experiences have eschewed any assistance. For instance, in its 1540 report, Malaysia, which hosted an important supplier to the Khan network, contends that, “[c]urrently, Malaysia does not require assistance in implementing the provisions of the resolution within its territories.”[18] Iran, on the other hand, which received materials from the Khan network, has requested general assistance: “[d]ue to its long sea and land borders and given the huge amount of financial and human resources required for the implementation of the resolution, the Islamic Republic of Iran welcomes assistance in form of expertise, technical, and financial resources. Specific requests, if deemed necessary, will be announced in the future.”

Despite the offers, up to now the United States has been the only major provider of export control assistance.[19] Extending its export control assistance programs beyond the approximately 45 countries with which it currently cooperates would call for financial support orders of magnitude beyond its current operating budget.[20] The Group of Eight, under the auspices of the “Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction,” has called for similar support for export control assistance. However, actual support has flagged since this effort was launched several years ago. Similarly, the European Union has developed an export control assistance strategy, enunciated in the “Action Plan against Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction,” approved by the EU Political and Security Committee at a meeting on June 10, 2003. Yet, the EU currently does not have an integrated policy toward international export control assistance.[21] At this point, it is unclear how offers of and requests for assistance would be efficiently coordinated, let alone financed.[22]

Conclusion: Next Steps

In the two years since its inception, Resolution 1540 has, at a minimum, expanded the normative awareness and rhetorical repertoire of the nonproliferation community. A more expansive reading of the resolution suggests that it can bring all states into the nonproliferation system, including states such as Pakistan, whose absence has vexed supply-side nonproliferation efforts. Specifically, the resolution establishes a truly universal means by which to create export control standards outside the otherwise restrictive multilateral export control regimes. For example, IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei observed that “we must tighten controls over the export of sensitive nuclear material and technology. The nuclear export control system should be binding rather than voluntary, and should be made more widely applicable to include all countries with the capability of manufacturing sensitive nuclear related items.”

Although the implementation of Resolution 1540 faces considerable obstacles, even to its partial realization, the resolution provides a critical template on which to build a truly international consensus on the form, if not scope, of export controls. Ostensibly created to address the nonstate-actor gap, the resolution also concentrates on state-based proliferation programs. For example, Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation John Wolf argued, “I would submit that the resolution also looks at state-state transactions, as well as state-nonstate transactions. There’s a whole universe of state-state, state-nonstate, nonstate-nonstate, nonstate-state [transactions], and all of those need to be covered by comprehensive export controls and rigorous enforcement.”[23] Such a comprehensive approach is necessary to ensure a proper balance between global trade and nonproliferation, a balance articulated in the resolution.

There are obvious problems of conceptual clarity, resources, oversight, and implementation, but the resolution should not be viewed as a final document. Instead, the resolution should serve as the starting point for a wider dialogue on how best to manage trade in strategic items, many of which are critical for the development of modern economies.

The Security Council and the 1540 committee have begun this dialogue with Resolution 1673 and the panel’s report to the Security Council.

The council, in addition to calling on those states which have not filed a report at all to do so “without delay”, encouraged all states that have submitted such reports to provide “additional information on their implementation.” Such steps, the council suggested should include additional information on implementation of export controls.

In its resolution, the Security Council called for greater outreach activities to increase understanding of the resolution and explore “experience sharing and lessons learned in the areas covered by resolution 1540.”

It also called for enhanced technical assistance to carry out the resolution. For its part, the committee suggested that the Security Council examine the feasibility of identifying model legislation to aid states in meeting their obligations.

Yet, if the 1540 instrument is to move beyond the rhetorical into the practical, perhaps shifting to a treaty-level mechanism, it will require further legal, conceptual, and financial support. These demands will necessitate a significantly fortified committee or other coordinating body capable of establishing working-level best practices for export control systems, identifying noncompliance, directing assistance, and ensuring maximal coordination with pre-existing regimes, i.e., the multilateral export control regimes.

Scott Jones is a senior research associate at the Center for International Trade & Security at the University of Georgia.


Multilateral Export Control Regimes

Scott Jones

The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is an informal institution comprised of 45 states, more than half of which are nuclear technology suppliers. It establishes common guidelines governing nuclear transfers in an effort to ensure that civilian nuclear trade does not contribute to nuclear weapons acquisition. NSG guidelines on nuclear exports were first published in 1978. Fourteen years later, prompted by the concern about Iraq’s clandestine efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction, the NSG established additional guidelines for transfers of nuclear-related dual-use equipment, material, and technology.

The Australia Group (AG) is an informal arrangement that aims to allow exporting or transshipping countries to minimize the risk of assisting chemical and biological weapon proliferation. The group was formed in 1984 with 15 members at Australia’s initiative, as a response to evidence about chemical-weapon use in the Iran-Iraq War. As of April 2006, participants in the regime include 39 governments and the European Union.

The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) is an informal and voluntary association of countries sharing the goals of nonproliferation of unmanned delivery systems for weapons of mass destruction. The countries seek to coordinate national export licensing efforts aimed at preventing proliferation. The group was originally established in 1987 and the number of members has increased steadily to its present total of 34 countries. It controls exports of missiles (and related technology) whose performance in terms of payload and range exceeds stated parameters. There are two categories of items controlled. Category I includes complete systems and subsystems capable of carrying a payload of 500 kilograms over a range of at least 300 kilometers and specially designed production facilities for such systems. Category II includes missile-related components such as propellants, avionics equipment, and other items used for the production of Category I systems.

The Wassenaar Arrangement (WA) is an informal agreement of 40 states established in 1996 to prevent countries from acquiring large and dangerous stockpiles of conventional weapons and sensitive technologies by encouraging members to share information on their exports to nonmembers. There are two agreed lists of items: a munitions list, which comprises conventional weapons almost exclusively designed for warfighting, such as tanks and fighter aircraft, as well as military explosives, toxicological agents, biocatalysts, and other military agents; and a dual-use technology list that is broken into two tiers. Tier 1, the basic list, is made up of sensitive items and technologies, and tier 2 consists of very sensitive items that are subject to more stringent monitoring.




1. The UN Security Council Resolution 1540 definition of a nonstate actor is an “individual or entity, not acting under the lawful authority of any state in conducting activities which come within the scope of this resolution.”

2. For a recent review of the terrorist weapons of mass destruction (WMD) threat, see John Eldridge, “Terrorist WMD: Threats and Responses,” Jane’s International Defence Review, September 1, 2005.

3. For an excellent summary analysis of select country reports, see Lars Olberg, “Implementing Resolution 1540: What the National Reports Indicate,” Disarmament Diplomacy, No. 82 (Spring 2006).

4. A control list for nonproliferation export controls is the legally established means of verifying the types of goods, services, and technologies that will be controlled and therefore reviewed by the licensing system. Control lists define the products being controlled by describing the technical specifications of items that require a license in order to export. A typical nonproliferation export control list contains categories for nuclear, chemical, biological, missile, dual-use, and conventional weapons technologies. Traditionally, national dual-use control lists are derived from the multilateral export control regimes as a minimal basis for control.

5. Resolution 1540 was designed to accommodate the Proliferation Security Initiative. Jofi Joseph, “The Proliferation Security Initiative: Can Interdiction Stop Proliferation?Arms Control Today, June 2004, p. 6.

6. The Abdul Qadeer Khan network revealed the extent to which commercial networks were engaged in illicit trade. In addition, studies on terrorist group WMD acquisition efforts indicate they are similarly relying on trade rather than theft. See Gavin Cameron, “Multitrack Microproliferation: Lessons From Aum Shinrikyo and Al Qaeda,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Vol. 22, No. 4 (October-December 1999).

7. Even advanced Western countries were not immune to exploitation by the Khan network. See “ Pakistan’s Quest for UF6 Sensors Underlines Limits of NSG Controls,” NuclearFuel, March 28, 2005.

8. Institute for Science and International Security, Asher Karni Case Shows Weakness in Nuclear Export Controls, (2004).

9. See Mathew Swibel, “Trading With the Enemy,” Forbes, April 12, 2004.

10. The U.S.-initiated resolution required several months of debate and revisions before winning approval. See Wade Boese, “Security Council Unanimously Adopts Resolution on Denying Terrorists WMD,” Arms Control Today, May 2004.

11. Center for International Trade and Security, Strengthening Multilateral Export Controls: A Nonproliferation Priority (2003).

12. The Sunshine Project, Export Controls: Impediments to Technology Transfer Under the Convention on Biological Diversity (2004).

13. As defined by Resolution 1540, related materials are “materials, equipment and technology covered by relevant multilateral treaties and arrangements, or included on national control lists, which could be used for the design, development, production or use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and their means of delivery.”

14. The 1540 Committee adopted its terms of reference on August 13, 2004. The terms delineate the guidelines for the conduct of the committee’s work and indicate that the committee may decide to establish cooperative arrangements, as necessary, with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons or, if appropriate, with “other relevant international, regional and sub-regional bodies, including Security Council committees.” The committee is also to “undertake its tasks with utmost transparency.” Nevertheless, the terms do not define the operative provisions of the resolution, such as defining the necessary and sufficient components of “effective” export controls or safeguards.

15. For issues regarding the legitimacy of Security Council legislation, see Merav Datan, “Security Council Resolution 1540: WMD and Non-state Trafficking,” Disarmament Diplomacy, No. 79 (April/May 2005).

16. For the original source for these statistics, see Richard Cupitt, “Export Controls and Implementing UNSC Resolution 1540 (2004),” Presentation made at the Carnegie Conference on Non-Proliferation, November 7-8, 2005, found at http://www.carnegieendowment.org.

17. Draft Report To The Security Council By The Committee Established Pursuant To Resolution 1540 (2004); Olberg, “Implementing Resolution 1540.”

18. After initial nuclear transfers to Iran, Khan reportedly expanded his network of customers to include Libya and North Korea. Khan’s network was based on a complex structure of international suppliers that shipped components unimpeded by ineffective controls. Details of Libya’s acquisition trace the network to Malaysia, Singapore, Turkey, South Africa, Switzerland, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, and possibly others. Malaysia’s lack of an export control system was a key consideration for Khan in engaging a company in Malaysia to manufacture centrifuge components. See Christopher Clary, “Dr. Khan’s Nuclear WalMart,” Disarmament Diplomacy, No. 76 (March/April 2004).

19. Some European states and Japan provide export control assistance to less-developed countries, albeit on a fraction of the scale provided by the United States. European officials recently indicated in private discussions that they are considering additional measures at the request of the 1540 Committee. Such steps might include organizing regional meetings to aid countries that have not reported to the committee or filed incomplete reports. Communication with Annalisa Giannella, April 5, 2006, Brussels.

20. The U.S. Export Control and Related Border Security Assistance program, which provides essential technical and material assistance to recipient countries to help them carry out these nonproliferation efforts, was budgeted at approximately $40 million for fiscal year 2004.

21. Nonproliferation and export control assistance programs and projects are developed nationally by individual member states. EU assistance, such as denuclearization programs in Russia, is financed using a variety of different national and collective mechanisms. Some projects are managed by the authorities of member states, and others are managed by the commission.

22. For a similar point, see Wade Boese, “Implications of UN Security Council Resolution 1540,” Presentation to the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management panel discussion, March 15, 2005, found at http://www.armscontrol.org.

23. Wade Boese, “The Bush Administration’s Nonproliferation Policy: An Interview With Assistant Secretary of State John S. Wolf,” Arms Control Today, June 2004, p. 14.


Global Cleanout: Reducing the Threat of HEU-Fueled Nuclear Terrorism

Alexander Glaser and Frank N. von Hippel

The greatest opportunity for would-be nuclear terrorists or countries seeking a quick bomb or two are poorly secured sites that contain significant quantities of highly enriched uranium, (HEU)—uranium containing a high percentage of the chain-reacting isotope uranium 235. HEU is the material of choice for terrorists or for states that seek to proliferate clandestinely without testing their weapons.

Unlike plutonium, HEU can be worked without special protections. It can also produce a full-yield explosion in a simple gun-type design in which one subcritical mass of HEU is fired into another. The bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, built with about 60 kilograms of 80 percent enriched HEU, used this design. Today, there is little disagreement that a terrorist group could design a workable gun-type device. It is therefore critical to make current stocks of HEU as inaccessible as possible.

The most effective approach in the long term to the risk of diversion or theft of HEU is to eliminate it from as many locations as possible and blend down excess HEU to low-enriched uranium (LEU). In contrast to HEU, LEU contains less than 20 percent U-235.[1] It is considered non-weapons-useable primarily because the amount of uranium needed to set off a sustained nuclear chain reaction—about one critical mass—is so large.

The United States and Russia have already slimmed down their stockpiles of weapons HEU somewhat. At the end of the Cold War, the Soviet Union and the United States together had about 2,000 metric tons of HEU, enough for about 35,000 gun-type or more than 100,000 implosion-type bombs. Other countries had an estimated 60 tons. Most of this material was in weapons. Due to the downsizing of their nuclear stockpiles, Russia and the United States declared, respectively, 500 and 174 metric tons of HEU as excess.[2] Most is being blended down to LEU for use as power-reactor fuel.[3]

Outside of its use in weapons, HEU also is used as a fuel for naval and research reactors and for the production of certain medical isotopes. Recently, Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman announced that an additional 200 tons of excess U.S. weapons uranium will be reserved for future use as naval reactor fuel (160 tons) and space-reactor and research-reactor fuel (20 tons) and blended down to LEU for use as research and power reactor fuel (20 tons).[4]

The size of the reserve for the nuclear Navy indicates that the naval-reactor fuel cycle will be a major challenge to the goal of reducing global stockpiles of HEU. This issue has been explored elsewhere.[5] We therefore focus here primarily on uses of HEU in land-based civilian reactors.

Although the current global HEU stockpile for land-based reactors (50-100 metric tons)[6] is much less than the quantities of HEU in nuclear weapons and reserved for naval reactor fuel, it is still enough for at least 1,000 gun-type devices. The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) estimated in 2004 that there were 128 research reactors and associated facilities worldwide with at least 20 kilograms of HEU.[7]

Many of these facilities are in urban locations with only modest security, presenting potential targets to would-be nuclear terrorists. A large fraction are in Russia, which has yet to give adequate priority to cleaning out facilities containing HEU that is no longer needed. At several sites, there is enough HEU to make more than 10 gun-type weapons.

Decommission Excess Reactors

Whereas power reactors are fueled with uranium that is less than 5 percent enriched, HEU is still widely used to fuel civilian research reactors. During the 1950s and 1960s, as part of their competing Atoms for Peace programs, the United States and the Soviet Union built hundreds of research reactors domestically and for export to more than 40 other countries. In response to demands for longer-lived fuel and maximum reactor performance, exports restrictions were relaxed, which resulted in most of these reactors being fueled with weapons-grade HEU enriched to more than 90 percent.

Figure 2 shows the countries that have or have had HEU-fueled reactors. Fortunately, according to our research, 13 of these countries no longer have HEU because of international efforts to convert research reactors to LEU and to return their irradiated HEU-containing fuel to its country of origin.

Most of the world’s aging HEU-fueled research reactors are no longer needed. Two International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) research-reactor experts put it this way at the 2003 international Reduced Enrichment for Research and Test Reactors (RERTR) conference: “Only reactors with special attributes (such as a high neutron flux, a cold [neutron] source, in-core loops to simulate power reactor conditions) or with commercial customers (such as radioisotope production or silicon doping) are adequately utilized.”[8]

Eliminating excess reactors would reduce the total number of research reactors worldwide from hundreds to tens. In some cases, research reactors could be replaced by accelerator-driven neutron sources. A few years ago, the United States decided to build such a neutron source at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The laboratory had first proposed building a powerful new research reactor but ran into opposition because it was to be fueled with HEU.

Just shutting down an HEU-fueled reactor, however, is not sufficient. To eliminate the danger of diversion or theft, the HEU fuel must be removed, i.e., the reactor must be “decommissioned.” In 2000 the IAEA’s International Nuclear Safety Advisory Group urged consideration of proper decommissioning of 258 shutdown research reactors worldwide. In a follow-up analysis, one reason cited for these reactors not being decommissioned was “the hope that the reactor will be returned to operation.”[9]

To make a decommissioning program attractive in Russia and elsewhere, it might be necessary for concerned countries to invest in strengthening the surviving research-reactor centers. Such assistance should be conditioned, however, on the management being willing to allow research groups from decommissioned facilities to become “users groups” on a nondiscriminatory basis. Such arrangements are standard in the United States and western Europe but are still foreign to Russia, where a group does not have an opportunity to do experiments if it does not have its own reactor.

Reactor Conversion and Fuel Takebacks

So far, the United States has shied away from promoting the decommissioning of reactors. Instead, it has focused on converting facilities to less-risky fuels. Both the Soviet Union and the United States launched efforts in the late 1970s to convert HEU-fueled research reactors to lower-enriched fuel. By 1991 the Soviet Union had converted most of the foreign research reactors that it supplied from 80 percent to 36 percent enriched fuel. The collapse of the Soviet Union halted the program, however, and also created a new group of independent countries with HEU-fueled reactors. The Energy Department estimates that Soviet-designed research reactors inside and outside Russia today use a total of about 350 kilograms of HEU fuel per year.[10] In 1993 the United States began to work in Russia to revive the Russian program with the objective of converting all Soviet-designed research reactors to LEU. The first such conversion, in the Czech Republic, was completed in October 2005.[11]

The United States began its own efforts to convert HEU-fueled reactors to LEU in 1978. The original purpose of the U.S. RERTR program was to convert to LEU foreign reactors to which the United States was supplying HEU fuel. In 1986 the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission required that the nongovernmental research reactors that it licenses in the United States (mostly located at universities) also convert to LEU if such fuel is available and if the Energy Department makes available the funding for the conversion. By the end of 2005, the program had converted or partially converted 31 foreign and 11 domestic reactors. These research reactors had previously required together annually about 250 kilograms of fresh HEU.

The bulk of the task, however, remains to be done. The Energy Department’s list still contains 120 operating HEU-fueled reactors, and this list is incomplete. The Energy Department also estimates that the world’s remaining HEU-fueled research reactors consume about 1,000 kilograms of HEU per year. About 500 kilograms of this HEU is for Western-designed reactors, mostly supplied by the United States, and the remainder provided by Russia and China. The RERTR program estimates that 41 of these reactors can be converted using existing LEU fuels.[12] However, of the Western-designed reactors, 10 that consume the bulk of the HEU cannot be converted until advanced LEU fuels are developed.[13]

These 10 research reactors have compact, high-powered cores designed to maximize neutron intensity for testing reactor fuels and materials to high irradiation levels and for neutron-scattering measurements used to probe the arrangements of atoms in complex materials.

Because a high concentration of U-235 is needed for compact cores, HEU is an ideal fuel. To achieve a similar density of U-235 in an LEU-based fuel has been the primary challenge for the conversion program.

The approach of the RERTR program has been to develop 20 percent-enriched LEU fuels that make up for the lower level of enrichment by increasing the relative concentration of uranium vis-à-vis other elements in the nuclear fuel. In 20 percent-enriched LEU, unlike HEU, each gram of U-235 is diluted with 4 grams of uranium 238. So, the uranium density in the LEU fuel must be about five times higher than in the HEU fuel. Fortunately, the densities of the HEU fuels that have to be replaced are mostly quite low, between 3 percent and 9 percent of the density of solid uranium. The most advanced LEU fuel commercialized thus far has a uranium density of 25 percent of solid uranium. A higher uranium density fuel, which was to be commercialized this year, has not fared well. Because of its unexpected poor irradiation performance, the availability of fuels with the densities required to convert the research reactors into those with compact, high-powered cores has slipped to approximately the year 2010. The most promising fuel currently under development—solid uranium alloyed with molybdenum—has a uranium density of 84 percent of that of solid uranium and could be used to convert all remaining high-powered research reactors.[14]

Spent Fuel

The residual uranium in spent HEU fuel is also still potentially usable for weapons. It typically contains about half of its original U-235. HEU that was originally weapons grade is of special concern because it is still near weapons grade.[15] For some years after discharge from the reactor, the spent fuel is considered “self-protecting” by the IAEA because the radioactive fission products it contains emit highly dangerous gamma rays as they decay.[16]

As this radiation field dies down with time, however, the spent fuel becomes a greater proliferation concern. Typically, research-reactor fuel elements are no longer self-protecting 25 years after discharge.

In 1996, therefore, the United States invited foreign countries that had received U.S. HEU fuel to ship back two common types of spent HEU fuel and began to work in 2002 with Russia similarly to retrieve Soviet/Russian-origin HEU fuel from outside Russia. As of the end of 2005, however, only about a ton of the U.S.-origin fuel had been returned to the United States.[17] Progress in returning Russian HEU is at an even earlier stage. About 122 kilograms of HEU in un-irradiated fuel had been shipped back to Russia, but as of November 2005, fuel originally containing approximately 2,000 kilograms of HEU that had been shipped from Russia to 17 countries remained abroad.[18] The United States in 1999 also established a Materials Consolidation and Conversion (MCC) program to acquire excess Russian civilian HEU and blend it down to 20 percent-enriched LEU. This low-profile program has made steady progress. As of the end of 2005, about 7 tons of an estimated 17 tons of excess Russian civilian HEU had been blended down, but as yet, not a single site has been completely cleaned out.[19]

Overall, therefore, although programs to reduce the number of locations where HEU can be found are in place, they have achieved only a small fraction of their objectives, despite the additional impetus given by the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Post-September 11 Developments

In 2004 the Energy Department responded to congressional concern about how slowly the HEU cleanout programs were moving by combining its reactor-conversion and spent HEU fuel takeback efforts into a Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) program. Then-Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham committed that the GTRI would help Russia repatriate all Russian-origin fresh HEU fuel by the end of 2005—which has since slipped to 2006—all Russian-origin spent HEU fuel by 2010, and all U.S.-origin HEU spent fuel by 2014. Abraham also pledged to convert all U.S. civilian research reactors to LEU by 2013—now 2014—and to convert all other research reactors “throughout the world.” All told, Abraham promised that the United States would spend about $450 million on this effort. [20] That comes to about $45 million per year over 10 years, which is about the current level of effort.

These are laudable goals. Unfortunately, Russia, which accounts for about one-third of the world’s HEU-fueled reactors and more than half of the world’s civilian HEU, has yet to make a commitment to convert or decommission any of its own HEU-fueled research reactors. President George W. Bush took pressure off of Russia to do so at a February 2005 summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The two leaders agreed to limit to “third countries” U.S.-Russian cooperative efforts to deal with the danger from HEU-fueled reactors.[21] Russian government officials have reportedly used this agreement as a reason for suspending further discussions with the United States on the conversion of Russia’s own HEU-fueled reactors. Fortunately, as discussed below, Russia’s nuclear institutes still appear open to cooperation in this area.

Toward a Comprehensive Program

Current efforts also largely exclude reactor types that make up about half of the world’s HEU-fueled reactors: critical assemblies and pulsed reactors. Worldwide, there are at least 38 HEU-fueled critical assemblies and 19 HEU-fueled pulsed reactors. Most are among the 59 HEU-fueled research reactors listed in the 2004 RERTR Program Execution Plan as “research reactors using HEU fuels that are not part of the RERTR Program.”[22]

These reactors do not consume fuel, but their cores often contain huge quantities of HEU.

Critical assemblies are used to determine the physics properties of proposed reactor-core designs. Most pulsed reactors were designed to determine the effects of neutron bursts from nearby nuclear explosions on nuclear warheads and other objects. The fuel of both types of reactors is only slightly radioactive—orders of magnitude less than required for self-protection.[23]

Once again, most of these reactors could be decommissioned. Most critical assemblies are obsolete because their mission can be accomplished today by inexpensive and highly accurate computer simulations. Indeed, Russia has more than 60 percent of the world’s HEU-fueled critical assemblies because it has decommissioned so few. An effective program needs to be mounted to help it do so. In 2002 the Moscow-based Kurchatov Institute of Atomic Energy, which has 12 HEU-fueled critical assemblies, requested U.S. assistance to decommission most of them. The Energy Department’s MCC program has recently begun discussions with Kurchatov about this proposal.

Likewise, most pulsed reactors are no longer needed because the effects of their neutron bursts can be simulated with computers. In 2004 Abraham cited this as a reason to shut down one of the Sandia National Laboratory’s two HEU-fueled pulsed reactors: “[A]fter operations of three years or perhaps less, the Sandia Pulsed Reactor will no longer be needed, since computer simulations will be able to assume its mission.… When its mission is complete, this reactor’s fuel will be removed from Sandia National Laboratories, New Mexico, allowing us to reduce security costs at Sandia and further consolidate our nuclear materials.”[24]

For those facilities that will be kept, steps should be taken to convert them to LEU or at least to reduce significantly the enrichment of their fuel. An indication that this is possible is provided by two Russian facilities with huge HEU inventories:


  • One critical facility at the Institute of Physics and Power Engineering in Obninsk contains 8.7 tons of HEU, as well as 0.8 tons of plutonium, mostly in the form of tens of thousands of disks less than 2 inches in diameter. Some of the HEU is at a 36 percent-enrichment level, while some is weapons grade (90 percent). It appears that the safer 36 percent-enriched uranium should be sufficient for mocking up large breeder reactor cores, which is the main mission of the facility.[25]
  • A pulsed reactor at the Institute of Experimental Physics in Sarov ( Russia’s counterpart to the Los Alamos National Laboratory) contains 833 kilograms of weapons-grade uranium, enough for 15 Hiroshima bombs. The GTRI program recently committed to fund a proposal from the institute to do a feasibility study on converting this reactor to LEU. The MCC program could potentially help fund the conversion.[26]

Other HEU-Fueled Reactors

There are also other types of civilian HEU-fueled reactors that should be addressed. For example, Russia has a fleet of seven civilian nuclear-powered icebreakers whose 11 reactors currently annually require HEU fuel containing about 225 kilograms of U-235.[27]

The Moscow-based Bochvar Institute, which develops Russia’s nuclear fuels, began in the late 1990s to develop LEU fuel suitable for a floating nuclear power plant whose reactor design is derivative from one used to power Russia’s nuclear icebreakers. The privately funded Nuclear Threat Initiative is negotiating with the Bochvar Institute to build on this work and develop LEU fuel that could be used to convert the nuclear icebreakers.

Russia also has dedicated HEU-fueled isotope-production reactors. Two high-powered isotope-production reactors at the Mayak Chemical Combine in the Urals are reportedly fueled with weapons-grade uranium. During the Cold War, they consumed an estimated 800 kilograms of HEU per year, mostly for the production of tritium for weapons.[28]

Today, given Russia’s smaller number of operational nuclear warheads, the primary use of these reactors is probably to produce radionuclides for medical and other civilian purposes. They might therefore be appropriate targets for a cooperative conversion effort.

Conclusion and Recommendations

The recently launched GTRI hopes to achieve complete elimination of HEU-fuel shipments to research reactors outside Russia by 2014. Few of the critical assemblies and pulsed reactors that collectively contain huge quantities of barely irradiated HEU have been targeted yet, however, and Russia has not yet agreed to convert or decommission its own HEU-fueled reactors.

What is needed is a broader international effort to decommission HEU-fueled research reactors that are no longer needed, accelerate the conversion of operating research reactors for which replacement LEU fuel is available, and assure that fuels are developed as soon as possible to convert the remaining HEU-fueled research reactors that are still needed.

The key countries whose cooperation is required are those that have built and exported or that operate large, high-powered, HEU-fueled research reactors, large critical assemblies, or pulsed reactors. China, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States account for more than 90 percent of the global civilian HEU inventories and demand. Their joint engagement in an accelerated conversion and cleanout effort would likely bring along the other countries that receive or have received fuel from the major HEU suppliers.

The reluctance of Russia’s government to give this effort high priority domestically at the same time that the leading Russian nuclear institutes have been asking for U.S. funding for projects to convert or decommission their HEU-fueled reactors illustrates the importance of working directly with the institutes as well as on a government-to-government level. This bottom-up approach, in which U.S. programs engage the Russian institutes directly and the institutes help get their government’s approval, has been key to virtually all successful U.S.-Russian cooperative nuclear security initiatives.

More serious engagement by high-level U.S. officials is also required. The recent acceptance by the White House of a limitation to U.S.-Russian cooperative efforts on HEU cleanout to “third countries” illustrates the types of misstep that can occur when high-level officials are not adequately informed.

Finally, consideration needs to be given to ways to make it more attractive to decommission or shut down little-used HEU-fueled reactors. In particular, consideration should be given to facilitating the concentration of research-reactor or accelerator neutron services in regional centers of excellence open to all appropriate scientists.

If the international community takes its responsibility to prevent nuclear terrorism and to support nonproliferation efforts seriously, a global cleanout of civilian HEU could be achieved within the next five to eight years.



Ending HEU Use in Medical-Isotope Production

Alexander Glaser and Frank N. von Hippel

Some medical-isotope production reactors use highly enriched uranium (HEU) as a “target” for neutron bombardment to produce the fission product molybdenum-99. The decay product of this isotope, Technicium-99, is used annually in tens of millions of medical procedures.[1] There is currently no domestic producer of this material and the Department of Energy estimates that a total of 85 kilograms of weapon-grade HEU are used for this purpose annually in reactors in Belgium, Canada, France, the Netherlands, and South Africa.[2]

Argonne National Laboratory has developed a means of substituting low-enriched uranium (LEU) for the more dangerous HEU in this process. Two smaller producers have converted to LEU and another is in the process of doing so. But the largest producers do not want to incur the cost of conversion. Two of them, Nordion of Canada and Mallinckrodt, which produces in Europe, backed a successful lobbying effort to include a provision in this year’s Energy Policy Act. This provision suspends the application of a 1992 law that conditions exports of U.S. HEU to foreign users on their willingness to convert to LEU as soon as LEU fuel or targets become available.

Corrected online August 29, 2008. See explanation.



1. Six-hour half-life technicium-99m emits a 0.14 MeV decay gamma ray used for medical imaging.

2. Office of Nonproliferation, National Nuclear Security Administration, “RERTR Program Project Execution Plan,” February 16, 2004.

Alexander Glaser is a member of the research staff of Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security and Frank N. von Hippel is a professor of public and international affairs at Princeton. An abridged version of this article will appear in the February 2006 issue of Scientific American.


1. See A. Glaser, “About the Enrichment Limit for Research Reactor Conversion: Why 20%?” International Meeting on Reduced Enrichment for Research and Test Reactors (hereinafter referred to as RERTR conference), Boston, November 2005.

2. See David Albright et al., Plutonium and Highly Enriched Uranium 1996 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997).

3. See Laura Holgate, “Accelerating the Blend-Down of Russian Highly Enriched Uranium,” Nuclear Threat Initiative, June 2005.

4. See Wade Boese, “ U.S. Trims Nuclear Material Stockpile,” Arms Control Today, December 2005, p. 29.

5. Chunyan Ma and Frank von Hippel, “Ending the Production of Highly Enriched Uranium for Naval Reactors,” Nonproliferation Review, Spring 2001, p. 86.

6. David Albright and Kimberly Kramer, “Civil HEU Watch: Tracking Inventories of Civil Highly Enriched Uranium,” Institute for Science and International Security, August 2005. The estimate of 165-184 tons includes 123 metric tons of excess U.S. weapons HEU and 10 tons of BN-350 spent fuel in Kazakhstan not included in our estimate. Also, we believe that their range of 15-30 tons for civilian HEU in Russia may be low.

7. U.S. Government Accountability Office, “Nuclear Nonproliferation: DOE Needs to Take Action to Further Reduce the Use of Weapons-Usable Uranium in Civilian Research Reactors,” GAO-04-807, July 2004, p. 28.

8. Pablo Adelfang and Iain Ritchie, “Overview of the Status of Research Reactors Worldwide,” RERTR conference, Chicago, October 2003.

9. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), “Safety of Research Reactors,” Topical Issues Paper No. 4, p. 10.

10. Office of Nonproliferation, National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), “RERTR Program Project Execution Plan,” February 16, 2004.

11. NNSA, “NNSA Completes Czech Research Reactor Conversion,” November 4, 2005.

12. Bieniawski, Statement, RERTR conference, Boston, November 2005.

13. NNSA, “RERTR Program Project Execution Plan.”

14. Pure uranium metal is not suitable as a reactor fuel because it swells seriously under irradiation at only a fraction of the desired fuel life.

15. The enrichment of a high-burn-up fuel that was originally 93 percent would still be above 75 percent. The critical mass of the 75 percent HEU would be only about 30 percent higher than that of the original material.

16. The IAEA considers a spent fuel element self-protecting if the dose rate one meter away exceeds one Sievert (100 rems) per hour. Five Sieverts over a period of less than two weeks is a median lethal dose for an adult. See IAEA, “The Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities,” INFCIRC/225/Rev. 4, June 1999.

17. Michael Dunsmuir, interview with author, September 2005. About 13.7 tons (80 percent) of the 17.5 tons of HEU reported as still abroad in 1993 was in the European Union (EU), within which much of the material was traded between facilities and some reprocessed. U.S. officials believe that 2 tons of 35 percent-enriched HEU exported to the EU was blended down there to LEU. See Albright, Plutonium and Highly Enriched Uranium 1996, pp. 245-253.

18. Andrew Bieniawski, Presentation, RERTR conference, Boston, November 2005.

19. Tom Wander, interview with author, November 2005.

20. IAEA, “Remarks Prepared for Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham,” Vienna, May 2004.

21. Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, “U.S.-Russia Joint Fact Sheet: Bratislava Initiatives,” February 2005.

22. Table B8 of the RERTR Program Project Execution Plan includes 21 reactors identified as critical assemblies and 10 identified as “fast burst,” “prompt burst,” or pulsed.

23. In the case of critical assemblies, this is because they release fission heat at an extremely low rate, typically only about 100 watts instead of millions. Pulsed reactor fuel accumulates only trace quantities of fission products for a different reason: they operate at high powers but mostly in infrequent pulses for less than one-thousandth of a second.

24. “Remarks Prepared for Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham for the Security Police Officer Training Competition,” May 7, 2004.

25. The core of Russian’s BN-600, which is HEU fueled, has a peak enrichment of 26 percent. See O. M. Saraev, “Operating Experience With the Beloyarsk Fast Reactor BN600 NPP,” Technical Committee Meeting on Unusual Occurrences During LMFR Operation, IAEA, Vienna, November 1998, p. 103. Thirty-six percent-enriched fuel therefore should be more than sufficient. See also Frank von Hippel, “Future Needs for HEU-Fueled Critical Assemblies,” RERTR conference, Boston, November 2005.

26. The MCC program pays the Elektrostal Fuel Fabrication Facility and the Dimitrovgrad Scientific Research Institute of Atomic Reactors to acquire and blend civilian HEU down to 20 percent LEU and dispose of the LEU. Part of the payment is passed on to the organization that is releasing the excess HEU. This incentive payment could be used to defray much of the cost of the core conversion, and some of the blended-down material could be used to fuel the converted core.

27. Oleg Bukharin, interview with author, September 2005.

28. “Lyudmila” and “Ruslan” are reportedly light-water reactors, each with a 1000 thermal-megawatt capacity. Oleg Bukharin, “Analysis of the Size and Quality of Uranium Inventories in Russia,” Science & Global Security, Vol. 6 (1996), p. 59.


Preventing a Nuclear Katrina

Daryl G. Kimball

Surveying the devastation the day after Hurricane Katrina struck Gulf Coast towns and cities, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour (R) likened the storm force to a nuclear attack. “I can only imagine this is what Hiroshima looked like 60 years ago,” he told reporters. Not quite, Governor.

The blast, fire, and radiation effects of the 15-kiloton bomb dropped on Hiroshima killed some 140,000 people by the end of 1945 and injured still more. A similar weapon used today against a major city would wreak similar or even more extensive death and damage.

The nation must and will help the greater New Orleans region recover from the worst U.S. natural disaster in decades, but there is no evacuation or post-disaster triage plan sufficient to deal with a terrorist attack with even a “small” nuclear weapon, let alone a conflict between states involving nuclear weapons. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich put it mildly when he asked, “[I]f we can’t respond faster to an event we saw coming across the Gulf [of Mexico] for days, then why do we think we’re prepared to respond to a nuclear or biological attack?”

The only cure is prevention. Success primarily depends on depriving terrorists access to nuclear bomb material, which they cannot produce on their own. But it only takes about 25 kilograms of highly enriched uranium (HEU) or 8 kilograms of plutonium to fashion a nuclear bomb. Worldwide, there are about 1,900 metric tons of HEU and more than 1,800 tons of plutonium in civilian and military stockpiles in dozens of countries. In the absence of U.S. support for a global, verifiable ban on fissile material production for military purposes and a phaseout of production for civilian purposes, the stocks will only grow.

Significant quantities of nuclear weapons-usable material remain all too vulnerable as a result of inadequate security and accounting at hundreds of nuclear facilities, particularly in the former Soviet republics. The International Atomic Energy Agency has documented at least 18 cases of theft or smuggling of weapons-usable fissile material since 1993. In July, Georgia disclosed it had thwarted four more attempts to steal HEU over the last two years. Russia also possesses at least 3,000 relatively more portable and less secure tactical nuclear weapons.

Just as essential levee protection and Louisiana coastal wetlands restoration projects were ignored or shortchanged, the president and most members of Congress have also failed to act on many of the recommendations of expert panels on nuclear terrorism. The 2001 bipartisan Baker-Cutler task force report on Department of Energy nonproliferation programs with Russia praised the program’s “impressive results” but warned that diffuse management and budget shortfalls leave an “unacceptable risk of failure” with potentially “catastrophic consequences.”

The panel recommended ramping up funding for nuclear security in Russia to $3 billion annually for 10 years. Nevertheless, critical nuclear threat reduction programs were cut in the fiscal year 2002 budget submission. Congress later restored the funding, and the administration has sought and received substantial contributions from European allies. In the administration’s latest budget request, Energy and Department of Defense programs to secure nuclear material and weapons were approximately $515 million.

Some projects have been accelerated. U.S. officials report they have “secured” 75 percent of Russia’s estimated 600 metric tons of plutonium and HEU and will complete the rest by 2008. Additionally, nearly 50 of Russia’s known nuclear warhead sites now have state-of-the-art security. Still, there may be as many as 100 sites that do not. Clearly, there is more that must be done and quickly.

Congress itself has complicated and slowed the work by requiring the president to certify Russian compliance with arms control agreements before releasing funds for securing and disposing of Russia’s dangerous nuclear and chemical stockpiles. This year, Congress should finally pass legislation to suspend this self-defeating requirement. To overcome lingering distrust, break through disputes about who is liable for accidents, and reaffirm their mutual commitment to the task, Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin must corral their own bureaucracies and put nuclear threat reduction at the top of the agenda.

One of their highest priorities should be higher funding and early completion of the Energy Department’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative. This includes returning U.S. and Russian-origin HEU and spent fuel from vulnerable sites throughout the world and converting the 105 civil research reactors that use HEU fuel to low-enriched uranium fuel. They should also agree to new tactical nuclear weapons transparency and security arrangements and begin to decommission and dismantle obsolete tactical nuclear weapons based in Europe and elsewhere.

As Bush himself said in 2001 about the threat of nuclear terrorism, “History will judge harshly those who saw this coming danger but failed to act.” Mr. President, now is the time to accelerate action on effective measures aimed at preventing the ultimate disaster before it is too late.


UN Adopts Nuclear Terrorism Convention; Treaty Seven Years in the Making

Claire Applegarth

The UN General Assembly April 13 adopted an international convention addressing the threat of nuclear terrorism, bringing an end to more than seven years of negotiations on the document. The treaty criminalizes the possession, use, or threat of use of radioactive devices by nonstate actors, their accomplices, and organizers “with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury” or environmental or property damage.

Originally proposed by Russia in 1998 and entrusted to the oversight of an ad hoc committee established to tackle the issue of international terrorism, the convention, titled the International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, is now the 13th such UN legal instrument on terrorism and the first concluded since Sept. 11, 2001. It was adopted by consensus and will open for signature Sept. 14 during the 60th Anniversary Summit of the United Nations. It will enter into force after 22 governments have ratified it.

Beyond criminalizing acts of nuclear terrorism, the convention also will require governments either to prosecute terrorist suspects in domestic courts or extradite them to their home countries. It further encourages increased exchanges of information and greater cooperation between countries in the pursuit of terrorist suspects.

In a brief mention of preventative nuclear security measures, the treaty urges states to ensure the protection of radioactive materials, “taking into account” recommendations of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The convention also classifies as a punishable offense any attacks on nuclear facilities that could risk the release of radioactive material.

Although widely welcomed as an important contribution to the international legal framework governing terrorism and nuclear security, the agreed treaty text does not represent as ambitious a document as some nations had hoped. In an April 1 news conference, Albert Hoffman, the South African coordinator of the negotiations, said that a number of proposals were ultimately excluded from the treaty’s scope so as to facilitate its universal adoption.

According to Hoffman, some delegations had expressed concern that the convention exempts military activities and personnel from prosecution for similar offenses as those articulated in the treaty. Other delegations would have liked to see the treaty protect against acts of terrorism committed by state actors involving nuclear weapons or materials. The final convention does not address state use of nuclear weapons.

States were also unable to reach consensus on a definition of terrorism, one of the key points of contention prolonging the negotiations, which was ultimately left out of the final convention. A recent report by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, released late March 2005, proposed to define terrorism as “any action…intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants with the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act.”

Annan’s report, entitled “In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security, and Human Rights for All,” also called for UN General Assembly approval of the nuclear terrorism convention and for “consolidating, securing and, when possible, eliminating hazardous materials and implementing effective export controls” as key elements of a strategy to deny terrorists access to nuclear materials.

Congratulating the General Assembly on its approval of a convention that represents “a vital step forward on multilateral efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism,” Annan also urged states to finalize a draft comprehensive legal instrument addressing international terrorism. This broader convention, however, will have to revisit the problem of reconciling differing states’ views on a definition of terrorism.

Slow Start for UN WMD Committee

Wade Boese

Nearing the halfway point of its lifespan, a UN committee is just starting its primary task of pinpointing weak spots in national laws and export controls that terrorists might exploit to acquire missiles and chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons.

Established by the unanimously approved UN Security Council Resolution 1540 last April (see ACT, May 2004), the committee is tasked with reviewing reports volunteered by governments on their steps to meet the resolution’s legally binding requirement to institute “appropriate, effective” measures denying nonstate actors lethal weaponry. The resolution did not define what constitutes “appropriate” and “effective,” leaving that standard up to the committee to interpret.

The committee’s purpose in conducting the reviews is to identify where governments have overlooked or not owned up to proliferation loopholes in their national statutes, border controls, and export control systems. The committee is comprised of representatives of the current 15 members of the Security Council.

Although reports started trickling in around an October deadline last year, the committee’s consideration of those reports did not get underway until March.

An extended process to hire independent experts to assist in vetting the reports contributed to the delay. The committee selected four experts last December, but the last one did not arrive in New York to begin work until March. The experts are from Brazil, Germany, Russia, and the United States. Up to three more experts might still be hired.

India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, and Syria have all joined the recognized nuclear-weapon states—China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—in submitting reports. As of March 23, a total of 105 countries had reported to the committee. North Korea is a notable exception.

Many of the other 80-some governments that have yet to file reports are from Africa and the Caribbean. Some of these states contend they do not believe the resolution applies to them because they lack the weapons and materials on which the resolution is focused. Others maintain they do not have the capacity or resources to execute the resolution’s mandate.

Still, Washington, other capitals, and the committee are urging all countries to file reports. Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation Mark Fitzpatrick asserted in a March 17 speech that “proliferators look for the path of least resistance—the unprotected border, the unenforced regulation, [and] the lax licensing system.” Therefore, Fitzpatrick concluded, “[e]ach state’s critical review of its own laws and regulations will help locate national, regional, and international gaps.”

The resolution calls on countries with the ability to do so to help others comply with its terms. London, Moscow, and Washington, among others, have pledged their willingness to lend such assistance, but none has been requested so far.

How the committee will seek to redress the problems or shortcomings revealed by the national reports remains unclear. An official close to the committee said its first resort would probably be notifying individual capitals of the committee’s concerns and recommendations for possible remedial steps. No judgments have been reached about follow-up steps that might be taken.

U.S. officials have said they do not view enforcement as one of the committee’s responsibilities, although they assert that their stance might be revisited.

A U.S. government official stated March 15, “The fact that Resolution 1540 has been adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter means that the obligations outlined in the resolution are legally binding on member states and that states can face punitive action for failing to fulfill their obligations.”

British government officials, as well as representatives of other foreign governments, hold that, because Resolution 1540 does not spell out consequences for noncompliance, an additional Security Council resolution would be required to punish a state for not fulfilling the resolution.

In addition to its hired experts, the committee has pledged to seek outside advice and assistance from international institutions. These include the International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors peaceful nuclear programs worldwide to make sure they are not being used illicitly to produce weapons, and the Chemical Weapons Convention’s implementing body, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. However, the committee is still trying to determine what type of information it wants from them.

Both U.S. and British officials have criticized the committee’s work pace. Emyr Jones Parry, the United Kingdom’s permanent representative to the United Nations, said after the December selection of experts, “I would be less than frank if I did not wonder why it has taken us so long to get to where we are.” The U.S. government official speaking March 15 commented, “The work of the [Resolution] 1540 committee, while slow to begin, is showing promise in assessing and evaluating how to close gaps against proliferation.”

Time is limited for the committee. Its expiration date, which could be extended, is set for April 28, 2006.

Implications of UN Security Council Resolution 1540



Presentation to the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management Panel Discussion, March 15, 2005

Wade Boese
Research Director, Arms Control Association

I want to thank the hosts today for inviting me to speak with such a distinguished panel on this important topic. This is an important topic because Security Council Resolution 1540 could have far-reaching and significant implications for the international nonproliferation regime, and thereby U.S. and world security. I want to emphasize the word could. That word is important because the resolution is an initiative that governments, with the necessary prodding, might still forge into an effective instrument. It isn’t there yet, and, I fear, the odds may be stacked against such an outcome.

In my view, those odds stem from five primary challenges, each of which I will discuss further:

  • Vague guidelines and definitions
  • National enforcement
  • International enforcement
  • A weak structural foundation, and
  • Legitimacy

Before exploring these five challenges further, let me note that my remarks are based on two assumptions. One, that Resolution 1540 in practice applies to trying to stop all WMD-related proliferation, not just that to non-state actors. And, two, the resolution opens the door for the international community, through the Security Council, to penalize governments failing to abide by the resolution’s terms since 1540 was adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

Vague Guidelines and Definitions

Suffice it to say that the Resolution 1540 is short on specifics. What items specifically are supposed to be controlled? Should all items on the control lists of the Australia Group, the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime, and the Wassenaar Arrangement be subject to all countries’ national export controls? If yes, that would be a remarkable step toward harmonizing and universalizing these export control regimes, which is something that International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei has called for.

Moreover, what are “appropriate effective” laws, physical protection measures, and border controls? And, does the last one apply to just goods or people too? Would U.S. border controls—given the mixed record of keeping out illegal immigrants—be sufficient in this regard or would they be found lacking? This all depends on how governments decide to interpret and apply the resolution. Standards must be set. Governments should err on the side of ambitious rather than cautious.

National Enforcement

Once these ambitious laws, physical protection measures, border controls, and export controls are on the books, they must be enforced. It’s not enough to simply codify these obligations and restrictions; they must be acted upon. Proliferators are not going to change their behavior simply because stricter rules or measures are put on paper.

Exhibit A would be China. Since 1992, Beijing has issued a series of proclamations and regulations limiting exports of ballistic missiles and their technologies in order to conform with the export guidelines followed by the 34-member Missile Technology Control Regime. Still, the State Department regularly imposes proliferation sanctions on Chinese entities. During its more than four years in office, the Bush administration has imposed proliferation sanctions 112 times; 62 of those sanctions have been on Chinese entities, including state-run businesses. Many of these sanctions stem from alleged missile-related transactions with Iran.

Whether Beijing is turning a blind eye toward this proliferation activity or it simply does not have the capacity to stop these transactions isn’t really the issue here. Although clearly, the former is of greater alarm. The fundamental point is that a government must be both willing and able to enforce its laws, export controls, physical protection measures, and border controls to successfully impede proliferation. Governments should not simply view Resolution 1540 as a law-making exercise. If they do, proliferation will continue; just as missile proliferation has from China.

International Enforcement

How the international community responds as a whole to poor national enforcement, intentional or unintentional, also looms large. Will the international community, in the form of the Security Council, apply the same rules and standards to all or will it be selective in which governments will be taken to task for not fulfilling their legally-binding responsibilities? A universal approach will lend the resolution greater legitimacy and prevent the emergence of zones or regions where proliferators feel they can act with impunity.

My concern is that the resolution could be implemented in a way reflecting the Bush administration’s general approach to proliferation, which is that the problem is bad actors, not bad weapons. From this perspective, it’s more important to focus on certain regimes rather than taking a more comprehensive approach to eliminating WMD wherever it may be found, regardless of whether that source is a U.S. friend or foe. This approach greatly influences the administration’s Proliferation Security Initiative or PSI, which I believe is a fine concept, if not a bit oversold.

First, interdiction is not as novel as some in the administration make it out to be. Second, PSI does not legally empower governments to do anything that they could not do before. This issue of legal authority in PSI is a bit of a red herring because ultimately the initiative’s success rests upon good intelligence. You can’t intercept something if you don’t know where it is.

To be sure, PSI has a broad mandate of intercepting threatening shipments at sea, on land, or in the air. But the administration has narrowed the scope of the initiative by caring more about the specific recipients than the suppliers. State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher noted, “The country of origin is obviously important, but destination is much more important.” Although predating PSI, the administration’s decision to permit Yemen to receive its North Korean Scud missiles intercepted by Spanish forces in December 2002 points to this selective approach.

Furthermore, John Bolton, a chief architect of PSI, said in an interview with my organization’s monthly publication Arms Control Today, “There are unquestionably states that are not within existing treaty regimes that possess weapons of mass destruction legitimately. We’re not trying to have a policy that attempts to cover each and every one of those circumstances.” In other words, India, Israel, and Pakistan are not under PSI scrutiny despite their possession of the very weapons and materials that the initiative is trying to stop the trade in and the exposure of the A.Q. Khan network operating from Pakistan.

Islamabad ’s punishment of Khan, or more appropriately lack of punishment, also raises the question of how Washington and other capitals might respond under Resolution 1540 to another government taking such a lenient stand against a confirmed proliferator. A country’s temporary standing in the global war on terror or other political considerations should not trump enforcement of the resolution. As the A.Q. Khan network amply demonstrated, proliferation has many sources, including perceived allies, whose allegiances and motivations are always subject to change. Setting standards that hold allies accountable for the same transgressions or failings as enemies is essential for protecting against the long-term dangers posed by proliferation.

If the United States and the international community take a similar tack with Resolution 1540 as that with PSI—as a tool to be used against a few select states, while neglecting others—the resolution will certainly fail. As Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Semmel has warned, “a single state supplying critical materials or technologies could defeat the efforts of us all.” Resolution 1540 will surely be only as strong as its weakest link.

A Weak Structural Foundation

Another potentially limiting factor of Resolution 1540 that is also apparent in PSI is the lack of a solid foundation. This reflects the Bush administration’s skepticism about formal, multilateral institutions. In PSI, no secretariat has been established, no formal channels for sharing intelligence have been created, no obligations to participate in exercises or operations exists, and no specific funding is set aside for PSI’s operation. The whole initiative conforms to the administration’s preference for acting with coalitions of the willing that permit the greatest freedom of action possible. Likewise, the administration opposed the creation of a permanent committee to oversee Resolution 1540, opting instead for a two-year life span.

This is shortsighted. Two years might not be enough time to identify the problems, let alone solve them. In addition, there are vows to lend assistance to those in need under the resolution, but at this time those are simply vague promises. Perhaps a donor contribution fund should be established, experts identified, and best practices collected and distributed to give governments some idea of what resources may be available to help them live up to Resolution 1540. One can imagine some governments being reluctant to acknowledge shortcomings in their export control systems for which they would be held accountable without having some assurances that they alone will not bear the responsibility for improving or strengthening those systems. Adding some flesh and muscle to the bones of Resolution 1540 would help, but this is a tall order given that the committee only has one more year before it expires.


All of these four challenges will impact whether governments view Resolution 1540 as legitimate. However, Resolution 1540’s legitimacy over the long run will not be based solely on its own merits. Much of the world will be waiting to see how the norm against exporting WMD, delivery vehicles, and related materials (i.e. nonproliferation) will be translated into a norm against possession as well (i.e. disarmament). By not addressing existing arsenals, Resolution 1540 is vulnerable to charges that it is just another discriminatory, supply-side mechanism designed to keep the developing world down. Therefore, Resolution 1540’s ultimate success will also hinge upon parallel actions by countries armed with WMD to reduce the quantity and salience of such arms. Without such steps, a mix of apathy, cynicism, and mistrust will undermine the resolution.

Realizing Potential

If this quick analysis appears a bit pessimistic, it is only because Resolution 1540 has such great potential. In the resolution lies the opportunity for expanding the tools and mindsets necessary for slowing proliferation beyond those countries that are members of the exclusive, some would say discriminatory, export control regimes.

It could also serve to overcome one of the biggest obstacles inhibiting trust among the nuclear-weapon states, as well as between those states and the non-nuclear-weapon states: secrecy. In operative paragraph 3(a), Resolution 1540 orders states to develop appropriate effective measures to account for their weapons and materials subject to control. Once accomplished, the potential exists for that information to be shared. If some type of mechanism were established to facilitate this activity, it would address one of the major criticisms of the non-nuclear-weapon states about being kept in the dark by those with nuclear arms. This matter will be raised repeatedly at the forthcoming nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in May.

Still, the crux of the debate at the upcoming review conference will be whether all states are living up to their treaty obligations and whether some states are unfairly taking on greater burdens than others. Such questions must be avoided in implementing Resolution 1540. For the resolution to succeed, each government's obligations must be clearly spelled out and all must be held equally accountable. Otherwise, weak links will emerge and proliferators will exploit them.

Thank you.

*On April 28, 2004, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1540 requiring all states to adopt “appropriate effective” measures to prevent non-state actors from acquiring biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons, as well as the means for their delivery. See “Security Council Unanimously Adopts Resolution Denying Terrorists WMD,” Arms Control Today, May 2004, and “ U.S. Disappointed with Worldwide Response to WMD Resolution,” Arms Control Today, December 2004.



Presentation by ACA Research Director to the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management Panel Discussion

Subject Resources:

Congress Seeks Nonproliferation Measures

Timothy Westmyer

As Congress began a new session in January, lawmakers kicked off the year with a flurry of proposals to stem the spread of nuclear arms and other deadly weapons, with most focused on ostensibly preventing terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

Sen. Joseph R. Biden (D-Del.), ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced legislation Jan. 24 designed to secure and dispose of Russia’s nuclear material. The omnibus bill authorizes spending of close to $300 million among five nonproliferation activities. It also endorses efforts by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) to end congressional restrictions on the programs and expand them beyond the former Soviet Union.

Proposed spending includes $60 million for the Department of Energy to convert one or more nuclear-weapon facilities in Russia to non-defense-related work. The conversions are part of the Nuclear Cities Initiative, which lapsed in 2003 because of disputes over liability protections afforded to U.S. contractors. The bill also calls for an additional $40 million in funding to President George W. Bush’s $416 million request for the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program under the Department of Defense budget. In addition, the Defense and Energy Departments each received authorization for $25 million to work with Russia to account for and destroy its tactical nuclear weapons.

Russia is estimated to hold thousands of tactical nuclear weapons, or smaller “battlefield” nuclear bombs, in undisclosed locations. Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control Stephen Rademaker last October urged Russia to provide more information about its tactical nuclear weapons arsenal. (See ACT, November 2004.) Legislation introduced Feb. 1 in the House by Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) authorizes efforts to inventory and secure these arms.

On Jan. 26, Reps. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), John Spratt (D-S.C.), and Martin Meehan (D-Mass.) put forth a series of measures on how to reduce nuclear terrorism. They said the measures were based on recommendations made by the federal commission that probed the Sept. 11 attacks. (See ACT, September 2004.)

The bill authorizes an additional $100 million for the Global Cleanout Initiative, which promotes efforts to eliminate fissile materials and related technologies in at-risk sites worldwide. The Biden bill authorizes $95 million for similar efforts.

Their legislation would establish a White House nonproliferation czar and charge this official with coordinating all federal government nonproliferation activities. The measure also urges the creation of a parallel office within Russia. The Schiff-Shays bill similarly recommends establishing a U.S. director.

Both the Tauscher bill and Shays-Schiff bill call for $50 million to be spent on boosting Bush’s Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). The money would be used to aid states supporting the PSI mission of intercepting proliferation in progress.

House GOP members made their views known on halting proliferation by releasing a Jan. 26 report through the House Republican Policy Committee entitled “All Tools at Our Disposal: Addressing Nuclear Proliferation in a Post 9/11 World.” The report stresses safeguarding nuclear material from terrorist organizations or regimes hostile to the United States.

The report deems as vital the development of enhanced detection technology and stricter International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections via the Additional Protocol, which expands the methods and tools inspectors can use to detect clandestine nuclear programs. It calls for increased exploration of “proliferation-resistant” nuclear energy technologies to make it more difficult for countries to abuse civilian nuclear energy industries allowed under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Despite the administration’s position that a proposed fissile missile cutoff treaty cannot be “effectively verifiable,” the report concludes that the United States should negotiate a treaty “that is effective and verifiable.” The proposed treaty would outlaw production of highly enriched uranium and plutonium for weapons purposes.


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