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"I want to thank the Arms Control Association … for being such effective advocates for sensible policies to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and most importantly, reduce the risk of nuclear war."
– Senator Joe Biden
January 28, 2004
January/February 2006
Edition Date: 
Sunday, January 1, 2006
Cover Image: 

Letters to the Editor

Hungarian Missiles Set for Destruction

I welcome the interest that Arms Control Today has shown (“Hungarian Missiles Set for Destruction,” November 2005) in Hungary’s destruction of Strela-2 Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS). Like you, we in Hungary believe that proliferation of conventional weapons in general and MANPADS in particular poses real threats to all of us. And international cooperation is essential in reducing this threat. However, I believe that one part of your article may confuse readers about Hungary’s efforts to accomplish our mutual goal.

Your article touched on a bilateral agreement signed on Sept. 27 by U.S. Ambassador to Hungary George Walker and Hungarian Minister of Defense Ferenc Juhász. Your article mentions that the agreement called for destroying “1,540 SA-7 missiles, also referred [to] as Strela-2s.” Later on, the article refers to Hungary’s voluntary declaration to the UN Register on Conventional Arms that “ Hungary said its MANPADS holdings include 243 Strela-2s, 61 Iglas, and 45 Mistral-2s.”

Readers might be inclined to assume therefore that there was a discrepancy in the Strela-2 holdings between the numbers pledged to be destroyed in the agreement and those that were declared to the United Nations. But the differences actually occurred because in its UN register declaration, Hungary communicated the number of MANPAD launchers it possessed, rather than the number of associated missiles. UN regulations do not provide detailed guidance on how to make such voluntary MANPAD declarations, permitting countries to provide either set of numbers.

I can assure your readers that Hungary’s data is and will remain reliable. We treat information exchanges to all international regimes, including the UN Register on Conventional Arms, very seriously, understanding that transparency is one of the cornerstones of world-wide security.

Likewise, Hungary’s security regulations in this regard are very strong and are fully implemented by all relevant organizations. Recently, in fact, a U.S. inspection team visited Hungary to monitor the destruction of some Strela-2Ms. These experts noted the high level of Hungarian security regulations in this regard and proposed that Hungarian facilities serve as models for other countries in implementing such security regulation.

 


Col. László Tóth is head of the Arms Control Center in Hungary’s Ministry of Defense.

Taiwan Receives U.S. Warships

Wade Boese

Two refurbished U.S. destroyers sold to Taiwan arrived there Dec. 8, and two more will be transferred this year. But Taiwan’s legislature is blocking other major U.S. arms buys.

President George W. Bush authorized exporting four Kidd-class guided missile destroyers to Taiwan in April 2001. (See ACT, May 2001.) Taiwanese sailors received the first two ships Oct. 29 at a ceremony in Charleston, South Carolina, where the ships have been undergoing upgrades.

In 2001, Bush also offered Taiwan eight diesel-powered submarines and a dozen P-3C Orion anti-submarine aircraft. Separately, Washington has encouraged Taipei to acquire short-range anti-missile systems. (See ACT, June 2003.)

Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian has fought to win legislative approval of a special budget to procure the U.S. arms, but the Legislative Yuan has balked. Even cutting the original $18 billion request to $11 billion has not swayed the legislature, which is not controlled by Chen’s party. Some legislators have questioned the need for and cost of the weapons.

Chen also has proposed increasing annual defense spending from 2.4 percent of Taiwan’s gross domestic product to 3 percent. This proposal awaits legislative approval as well.

With an eye on China’s military modernization (see ACT, September 2005), Pentagon officials are urging Taiwan to boost its military spending and arms procurement. Beijing has warned that it will use force against Taiwan, which China claims is a renegade province, if Taiwan declares independence or stalls on reunification.

Brigadier General John Allen, who is the principal director of the Pentagon’s Office of Asian and Pacific Affairs, stated Oct. 29, “As [Taiwan] faces the growing threat of a major [Chinese] military buildup, it is imperative that the people of Taiwan hold their leaders of all political parties accountable for reaching a consensus to increase defense spending.”

Similarly, Reuters quoted the director of the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), Lieutenant General Jeffrey Kohler, as complaining Dec. 7 that Taiwan has “turned some of their defense issues into a political football.” The DSCA implements U.S. government arms sales.

A Pentagon spokesperson told Arms Control Today Dec. 8 that future U.S. arms exports to Taiwan hinge on the special budget. In sum, the spokesperson said, “If they don’t have the money, there is nothing to talk about.”

 

U.S. Sanctions Nine Companies for Iran Trade

Wade Boese

The United States imposed sanctions Dec. 23 on nine foreign firms for allegedly making exports to Iran that could contribute to unconventional weapons programs. It also rescinded 2004 sanctions against an Indian citizen.

Six Chinese companies, two Indian firms, and an Austrian company were penalized under the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000. For two years, the accused will be barred from receiving U.S. government contracts, assistance, or military trade, as well as any goods controlled by the 1979 Export Administration Act, which regulates exports that have both civilian and military purposes.

The Bush administration had sanctioned three of the Chinese firms earlier. One of them, NORINCO, now has been penalized for the seventh time. Still, three of the Chinese companies—Hongdu Aviation Industry Group, LIMMT Metallurgy and Minerals Company Ltd., and Ounion International Economic and Technical Cooperative Ltd.—had not been sanctioned previously.

Similarly, two Indian firms, Sabero Organic Chemicals Gujarat Ltd. and Sandhya Organic Chemicals PVT Ltd., as well as an Austrian company, Steyr-Mannlicher GmbH, were punished for the first time. The sanctions come at an awkward time for the Indian and U.S. governments, which have lauded India’s nonproliferation credentials as a justification for increasing bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation. (See ACT, September 2005.)

Both New Delhi and Beijing protested the sanctions. A spokesperson for India’s Ministry of External Affairs Dec. 28 called the penalties “not justified,” while a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Dec. 29 expressed “strong dissatisfaction” with the U.S. action.

India, however, welcomed the U.S. decision to remove September 2004 Iran Nonproliferation Act sanctions on Dr. C. Surendar, a retired scientist from India’s atomic energy establishment. (See ACT, November 2004.) It also urged that sanctions levied at the same time against Dr. Y. S. R. Prasad be waived.

All told, the Bush administration has imposed proliferation sanctions 134 times against 81 foreign entities. Thirty-three Chinese entities account for 68 of the sanctions. A dozen North Korean firms have racked up 21 sanctions, while seven Indian entities have totaled eight penalties. The remaining sanctions are spread out among 29 entities in at least 13 different countries and Taiwan.

 

Russia, West Clash over Troop Pullouts

Wade Boese

Moscow recently warned Western governments that their continuing insistence that Russia fulfill past political commitments to pull its military forces out of Georgia and Moldova is jeopardizing a treaty capping conventional weapons deployments in Europe. However, U.S. and most European governments say that Russia’s failure to fulfill its past withdrawal pledges is the real problem.

In 1990, NATO and its Soviet-led counterpart, the Warsaw Pact, concluded the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty to limit the number and location of heavy weapons, such as battle tanks, deployed between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ural Mountains. The 30 states-parties overhauled the accord in 1999 so each country would have individual weapons ceilings. (See ACT, November 1999.) Yet, the 1990 accord is still in effect because only Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine have ratified the adapted version, which will not enter into force until all the original agreement’s states-parties ratify it.

Speaking Dec. 5 at an annual ministerial meeting of the 55-member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, “If steps are not taken to ratify [the adapted CFE Treaty] in the very near future, we will be in danger of losing the whole regime of control over conventional arms in Europe.” He added, “I don’t think any of us are interested in having that situation arise.”

NATO members are tying their approval of the revised accord to Moscow ending its lingering Cold War-era military presence in Georgia and Moldova. Lavrov Dec. 7 dismissed NATO’s reasons for not ratifying as “far-fetched pretexts.”

The adapted CFE Treaty was agreed at a 1999 summit in Istanbul, at which the Kremlin also pledged that in 2000 it would conclude a timetable for closing its remaining military bases in Georgia. Moscow further committed that, by the end of 2002, it would completely withdraw its armed forces from Moldova.

Russia and Georgia finally reached a preliminary deal last May for the full departure of Russian forces by the end of 2008 (see ACT, July/August 2005), but it has yet to be finalized. Much less progress has been made with Moldova, where approximately 1,400 Russian troops remain and an ammunition dump totaling nearly 21,000 metric tons awaits disposal. The last shipment of Russian weaponry out of Moldova occurred in March 2004.

Although applauding Russia for its agreement with Georgia, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns said Dec. 5 that Moscow must do more. “Fulfillment [of the Istanbul commitments on troop withdrawals] continues to be a prerequisite for the ratification of the adapted CFE Treaty,” Burns stated. Explaining the U.S. and NATO position to reporters the next day, Burns said, “We must defend principle and frankly defend the interests of Georgia and Moldova.”

Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel, the rotating head of the OSCE for 2005, also criticized Russia. Rupel declared Dec. 5, “There is no excuse for systematic failure to live up to the responsibilities to which we’ve committed ourselves.” He continued, “For example, it is unfortunate that after six years we are still debating the 1999 Istanbul commitments on withdrawal of Russian forces from Moldova.”

Moscow claims that its forces are helping keep peace between the Moldovan government in Chisinau and the separatist region of Transdniestria, where the Russian forces are stationed. The Kremlin also has said that the pro-Russian separatists are blocking the withdrawal. However, the general opinion among U.S. and European officials familiar with the matter is that Russia easily could resume the withdrawal at any time.

Largely because of disputes over Moldova, OSCE members failed to reach consensus on a final document to summarize their meeting. Instead, Rupel issued a Dec. 6 statement that “most ministers” support the Istanbul commitments, welcome the Russian-Georgian agreement, and “note also the lack of movement in 2005 on withdrawal of Russian forces from Moldova.”

NATO and Russia are likely to continue sparring over Russia’s withdrawal efforts during the next several months. Georgia, Germany, and Russia are expected to resume talks this spring on arrangements for an international team to verify whether Russia, as it asserts and Georgia disputes, has vacated the Gudauta base located in Georgia. Russia claims the remaining troops at the base are serving as peacekeepers. In addition, CFE Treaty states-parties will convene a treaty review conference in May.

 

Russian Nuclear Ambitions Exceed Reality

Wade Boese

Top Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, boasted several times last year that Russia’s future nuclear arsenal will be unrivaled. Russia’s recent nuclear activities suggest this is more of a long-term goal rather than a short-term possibility.

To be sure, Russia conducted its first flight test of a new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) and reportedly a second successful test of a new warhead. Still, Moscow’s new weapons may be years from deployment, and Russia is retiring aging missiles faster than it is deploying new ones because of limited budgets. This downward trend also coincides with U.S.-Russian arms reduction agreements.

Russia’s Strategic Rocket Forces released a Nov. 30 statement touting that all of its 2005 missile flight tests had been successful. All but two of Russia's 2005 experiments, however, involved Soviet-era delivery systems. Such tests have been needed because Russia has extended the service of some missiles, such as the 10-warhead SS-18, beyond original deployment plans in order to preserve some parity with U.S. strategic force levels.

The two tests breaking new ground occurred Sept. 27 and Dec. 21. They involved the launch of a Bulava missile, or RSM-56, by a modified Soviet-era Typhoon submarine. Moscow has not publicized the solid-fuel missile’s payload, but general speculation is that it can carry up to 10 warheads.

When the Bulava will finish testing and be ready for service is also unknown. Two new Project 955 Borey-class submarines are undergoing construction to be outfitted with the missiles, but the operational date for the first vessel was recently postponed by one year to 2007.

Meanwhile, Russia, as part of its 1991 START reporting obligations, revealed in July that it removed 20 SLBMs and their 200 nuclear warheads from service during the previous six months. Data for the rest of 2005 has not yet been publicly released.

Moscow also noted that it eliminated 26 ICBM launchers with some 150 warheads over the first six months of last year. A Department of State official told Arms Control Today Dec. 13 that Russia continued reductions through the end of the year, including scrapping its last rail-based SS-24 systems. Together, the ICBM and SLBM reductions left Russia with approximately 4,350 deployed warheads by START’s terms.

Along with the United States, Russia is bound by the May 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) to lower its strategic arsenal to 1,700-2,200 deployed strategic warheads by the end of 2012. Russia’s force levels are widely projected eventually to drop below the bottom limit.

Still, Russia is slowly fielding some new ICBMs. Since 1997, Moscow has deployed some 40 silo-based SS-27 Topol-Ms. The Kremlin also completed flight-testing of a road-mobile version of this missile at the end of 2004, and deployments of it might begin this year.

Although the SS-27 is envisioned as the mainstay of Moscow’s future strategic forces, Russian production has remained modest, at roughly a half dozen per year. No indications exist that Russia plans to ramp up production.

Russian officials have mentioned the possibility of adding warheads to the single-warhead SS-27 to maintain a higher number of deployed warheads in light of the new missile’s slow production rate. But START limits the SS-27 to a single warhead because it is a variant of the single-warhead SS-25. Moscow’s options if it decides to arm the SS-27 with more warheads, therefore, are to modify the SS-27 so it is a different type of missile than the SS-25 or wait until START expires in December 2009.

More ambiguity surrounds Russia’s exploration of what Russian and Western media have identified as a “maneuverable warhead” but what could also be a re-entry vehicle. A re-entry vehicle shrouds a warhead to enable it to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere.

Putin last September said that Russia was developing “new strategic high-precision systems” that can alter “course and height.” The purpose behind such capabilities is to make a warhead a more elusive target for anti-missile systems, such as those the United States is pursuing, a point Russian officials repeatedly emphasize.

The system reportedly has been flight-tested in early 2004 and this past November. The Washington Times implied Nov. 21 that U.S. officials confirmed that the latest test involved a vehicle that “can change course and range.” Russian officials have not specified when the system might become operational.

Although Russia is actively exploring ways to enhance its arsenal, Moscow has also expressed interest in negotiating lower strategic arms limits with the United States.

But Bush administration officials, who have expressed no anxiety about Russia’s strategic nuclear developments, have dismissed the prospect of negotiating additional limits. (See ACT, July/August 2005.)

 

Senate Struggles With Riot Control Agent Policy

Michael Nguyen

Fearing that military commanders were not using riot control agents, particularly tear gas, because of overly cautious interpretations of U.S. law and treaty obligations, Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) introduced an amendment to the recent fiscal year 2006 defense authorization bill that critics said threatened to undermine the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

The Senate adopted the amendment Nov. 9 by a vote of 98-1 but only after Ensign agreed to changes in the text and provided assurances that he was not attempting to change current U.S. policy. The final conference version of the defense authorization bill, adopted by the House and Senate in December, includes the amendment.

“We think they [the State Department] are misinterpreting the current policy which has existed for some time now in the United States,” said Ensign on the Senate floor Nov. 8. “We now need to clarify it so that our warriors know exactly that they can use riot control agents under specific uses.” His concerns echoed those of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who told a congressional committee in February 2003 that the restrictions on agent use were a “straightjacket” hurting the ability of soldiers in Afghanistan to use nonlethal force. (See ACT, March 2003.)

U.S. policy regarding the use of riot control agents is governed by overlapping sets of laws and obligations. The CWC, which entered into force in 1997, clearly prohibits the use of such agents as a “method of warfare.” However, in 1975 President Gerald Ford signed Executive Order 11850, which permits the use of such agents only in “defensive military modes to save lives.” The executive order included several examples of permitted uses, such as controlling prisoners of war or when civilians are being used to mask attacks. In addition, the Senate’s 1997 CWC resolution of ratification made clear that Executive Order 11850 would remain the policy of the United States. The U.S. exception has not been formally challenged by other CWC states-parties.

To provide further clarification, Ensign introduced a two-part amendment in July to the defense authorization bill. The first section was a “Statement of Policy” that appeared to expand the use of the agents. The phrase “in combat and in other situations for defensive purposes to save lives” appeared to establish “combat” as a new and distinct category where the use of riot control agents was permissible.

However, when Ensign reintroduced the amendment Nov. 8, the “Statement of Policy” had been changed to a “Restatement of Policy.” Three words, “in combat and,” had been removed, and the new version retained the “defensive purposes” language of Executive Order 11850.

The new text also reaffirmed that only the president, consistent with Executive Order 11850, may authorize the use of riot control agents, which was absent in the original amendment text.

In addition to the changes, several senators repeatedly asked Ensign during the amendment’s floor debate Nov. 8-9 to reassure them that the amendment in no way changed current U.S. policy. For many, such as Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), support for the amendment hinged on the understanding that “it in no way modifies, changes, reinterprets, or otherwise revises the laws of the United States regarding the use of [riot control agents] in war to save lives, nor in any way affects U.S. compliance with our international obligations. This amendment creates no new law, and changes no U.S. policy.”

Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), who described himself as a “steadfast supporter” of the CWC, agreed to support the amendment but urged “that the limited nature of this amendment be made more explicit in conference.” The text of the conference report, however, falls short of the strong assurances sought by Biden, Lugar, and others and simply notes that the amendment “would restate current U.S. policy on riot control agents, and require a report on the use of riot control agents by members of the Armed Forces.”

 

U.S. Combat Aircraft Delivered to Pakistan

Wade Boese

The United States delivered two F-16A combat aircraft to Pakistan Dec. 13, marking the first such transfer since 1990 when Washington had halted exports of F-16s to Islamabad because of its nuclear weapons program. The planes can be converted to deliver nuclear bombs.

The Pentagon supplied the two fighters through its Excess Defense Articles (EDA) program, which enables foreign governments to acquire arms or military equipment retired from U.S. military service. These exports are generally conducted with little or no charge and provided “as is.” In this case, Pakistan did pay for some refurbishment work, a Pentagon spokesperson told Arms Control Today Dec. 16.

More F-16s might be in the EDA pipeline for Pakistan, but the Pentagon spokesperson declined to comment on that possibility. Jane’s Defense Weekly reported in August that “at least 10 additional refurbished” F-16s could be supplied in 2006.

Pakistan has grander plans. Islamabad reportedly was negotiating much of last year for a separate purchase of some 70 new F-16s. But Pakistani leader General Pervez Musharraf said in November that his government would postpone the F-16 buy while the country recovered from a devastating earthquake one month earlier.

The Bush administration announced in March that it would favorably consider Pakistani requests for F-16s. (See ACT, May 2005.) Washington had provided 40 of the fighters to Pakistan before 1990. But that year, President George H. W. Bush concluded that he could no longer certify to Congress that Islamabad did not possess a nuclear explosive device. U.S. law prohibited military exports to Pakistan in such an instance.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush, eager to secure Islamabad’s help in the U.S.-declared global war on terrorism, waived this restriction and others imposed for Pakistan’s May 1998 nuclear tests. At the same time, Bush lifted similar sanctions on Pakistan’s neighbor and nuclear rival, India. But he held back from selling either country advanced fighters. (See ACT, October 2001.)

Now, Washington is offering U.S. fighters to New Delhi as well. A traditional Russian arms client, India is weighing the purchase of 126 new combat aircraft.

 

North Korean Talks Hit Impasse

Paul Kerr

Diplomatic efforts to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis appear to have hit an impasse only months after six-party talks produced a set of principles for a peaceful solution.

North Korea has not yet agreed to attend the next session of six-party talks designed to resolve concerns about its nuclear weapons program. Pyongyang is angry over recent U.S. actions apparently designed to increase pressure on the regime. For their part, U.S. officials have expressed exasperation with the talks’ pace. “We can’t just sit there, stalemated session after stalemated session.… We need to see progress,” Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill told the Associated Press Dec. 2.

The six parties, which also include China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea, began the latest round of talks in November, hoping to build on a September statement of principles to guide future negotiations. Although the November meeting made little headway, U.S. officials indicated subsequently that the parties had informally agreed to hold a second session in January. (See ACT, December 2005.)

Since then, however, North Korea’s irritation with the Department of the Treasury’s September designation of a Macau bank as a “money laundering concern” appears to have become a major obstacle to the talks. The United States asserts that Banco Delta Asia provided financial services to North Korean government agencies and front companies engaged in such activities as drug trafficking, counterfeit U.S. currency distribution, and smuggling of counterfeit tobacco products.

U.S. Pressure

Multiple North Korean statements also have expressed anger with harsh U.S. rhetoric about Pyongyang, particularly a Dec. 7 reference to North Korea as a “criminal regime” by U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Alexander Vershbow. Likewise, Pyongyang sharply criticized a speech delivered in Seoul by Jay Lefowitz, the U.S. human rights envoy to North Korea, in which he lambasted the Communist regime’s poor human rights record.

Pyongyang’s state-run Korean Central News Agency Dec. 19 reiterated a previous North Korean position that it cannot discuss abandoning its nuclear program unless the Bush administration ends its “hostile policy” designed to topple the North Korean regime. North Korea argues that this policy, which includes pressuring Pyongyang on its human rights record and taking action against suspected North Korean illicit activities, is inconsistent with Washington’s pledge in the September joint statement to respect Pyongyang’s sovereignty.

North Korea committed in that statement to abandon all of its nuclear programs and return to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). The other parties pledged to respect Pyongyang’s sovereignty, normalize their diplomatic relations with the North Korean government, and provide North Korea with economic cooperation and energy assistance. (See ACT, October 2005.)

Although a Dec. 16 statement adopted by the two Koreas said that the September agreement “should be implemented at an early date,” North Korea repeatedly said in December that it will not return to the talks unless the United States first lifts what Pyongyang calls “financial sanctions,” a reference to the Banco Delta Asia designation. According to knowledgeable Department of State officials, the North Korean delegation focused almost exclusively on the matter when the six parties met in November.

The Treasury Department has proposed a rule that, if adopted, would bar U.S. financial institutions from opening or maintaining accounts for Banco Delta Asia. U.S. officials have also put pressure on Macau to take action against the bank.

North Korea has said that the two countries should settle the matter through negotiations, but the United States has refused to do so, arguing that it is a law enforcement issue unrelated to the talks. U.S. officials, such as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, have said that North Korea can avoid any such punitive actions by the United States by halting its illegal activities.

In lieu of negotiations, Hill during the November meeting offered to arrange a working-level briefing about relevant U.S. regulations for North Korean officials, a State Department official familiar with the talks told Arms Control Today Dec. 12. North Korea has turned down this offer, as well as an effort by U.S. nongovernmental organizations to host a similar briefing, the official confirmed.

Hill said Dec. 20 that the United States remains willing to provide such a briefing, South Korea’s semi-official Yonhap News Agency reported.

A North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson offered a different version of events Dec. 2, stating that Hill had actually agreed to discussions between the “heads of the delegations” to “settle the issue of financial sanctions.” Washington “reneged” on the agreement by offering the working-level briefing, the spokesperson added.

Other talks participants have raised concerns that U.S. pressure on North Korea could negatively impact the negotiations. South Korean Foreign Ministry officials have criticized Vershbow’s rhetoric and indicated that Washington should coordinate its efforts with Seoul before taking further measures like the Banco Delta Asia designations.

Future Diplomacy

Although the next six-party meeting has yet to be scheduled, the State Department official said the United States plans to table the same proposal it presented during the third round of talks in June 2004. The official added that Washington is willing to discuss all the elements of that offer, which proposed a two-phase process in which North Korea would freeze, then dismantle its nuclear facilities in return for fuel oil provided by the talks’ other participants, as well as several U.S.-initiated incentives. (See ACT, July/August 2004.)

The two sides also continue to disagree about the proper sequencing for implementing the joint statement. The United States continues to insist that North Korea quickly shut down its nuclear facilities and prepare a comprehensive declaration of its nuclear weapons, materials, and facilities before receiving any rewards from the United States or other parties.

Throughout the six-party talks, North Korea has continued to operate its five-megawatt graphite-moderated nuclear reactor and related facilities, which had been frozen under a 1994 agreement with the United States. Pyongyang claims to have built nuclear weapons with plutonium obtained from the spent reactor fuel, but the veracity of this claim is unknown.

Additionally, U.S. and South Korean officials expressed concern at North Korea’s Dec. 19 announcement that it would “pursue” the construction of larger “graphite-moderated reactors,” an apparent reference to two reactors whose construction also had been frozen under the 1994 agreement.

North Korean officials had discussed the operation of these additional reactors with Siegfried Hecker, former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa). But this announcement was Pyongyang’s most definitive public statement on the matter. The officials told Hecker and Leach that North Korea was conducting work on the smaller 50-megawatt reactor. Pyongyang, however, had not yet decided whether it would resume work on the larger 200-megawatt reactor, according to a presentation Hecker gave in November. (See ACT, December 2005.)

North Korea has demanded compensation for freezing its nuclear facilities, but Hill has repeatedly stated that the United States will neither negotiate for a freeze nor promise rewards to Pyongyang for taking this step alone.

A bilateral meeting before the November talks illustrates this conflict. U.S. officials told the North Koreans that Hill would pay his first visit to the country if it agreed to shut down the reactor, the State Department official said. North Korea rejected the proposal.

The State Department official, however, indicated some U.S. flexibility on the matter, saying that North Korea could receive a reward if it halts the reactor’s operation as part of a broader plan for dismantling the nuclear facilities. North Korea uses the term “freeze” to refer to a temporary shutdown, the official explained.

The North Koreans during the November meeting discussed a plan to dismantle their nuclear program, but citing the Banco Delta Asia designation, they decided not to table a formal proposal, according to the official.

In addition to North Korea’s commitment under the September joint statement, it has previously issued proposals that would have resulted in the dismantlement of the Yongbyon facilities. (See ACT, September 2005.)

Even if the sequencing issue is resolved, reaching agreement on implementation details could prove difficult. According to the State Department official, the parties have yet to iron out the details of such issues as verifying North Korea’s declaration, dismantling its nuclear facilities, and providing energy and other forms of economic assistance to Pyongyang. Administration officials have said that these issues need to be resolved in discussions among groups of experts, but these groups do not yet exist.

U.S. Policy—Another Track?

In addition to its actions against Banco Delta Asia, the Treasury Department exhorted U.S. financial institutions Dec. 13 to take “steps to guard against” future North Korean abuse of their financial services.

The United States has also pursued other methods of curbing North Korean illicit activities.

For example, the administration decided in October 2005 to designate eight North Korean entities as being involved in the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons or related delivery vehicles. This designation, taken pursuant to an executive order President George W. Bush issued in June 2005, freezes any U.S. assets that these entities may have. It also prohibits transactions between these entities and any U.S. citizens or companies.

Whether this action will have any practical effect on these entities is unclear. The Treasury Department cannot disclose whether designated companies have any U.S. assets, a department spokesperson told Arms Control Today Dec. 19. Moreover, these entities’ assets may already be frozen because the Treasury Department similarly designated their parent companies in June 2005. (See ACT, July/August 2005.)

U.S. officials have generally stated in public comments that law enforcement actions taken against North Korean illicit activities are entirely separate from the six-party talks.

But a knowledgeable current State Department official, along with several former State Department officials familiar with the matter, indicated otherwise in interviews with Arms Control Today. They said that targeting North Korea’s illicit activities also was thought to be a mechanism for pressuring North Korea to compromise on its nuclear program.

Likewise, David Asher, who worked on North Korean issues in the State Department until July 2005, indicated a connection between the two tracks during a speech last October. Asher said that Pyongyang’s earnings from its illicit activities have enabled the government to withstand political isolation and to “resist demands” that it end its nuclear weapons program.

The current and former officials interviewed said that U.S. officials began working as early as 2002 to determine the full scope of North Korea’s illicit trade and to improve interagency coordination to stop such activities. These efforts accelerated after Australia seized a North Korean ship carrying heroin about four months before the first round of six-party talks. At that time, several administration officials advocated targeting North Korea’s hard currency earnings to bring Pyongyang to heel. (See ACT, July/August 2003.)

The role of these enforcement actions has been unclear since the six-party talks began. One State Department official said that the department was not consulted about the timing of the Macau bank designation, adding that “these things have a life of their own.”

Other current and former State Department officials described a split in the administration. They said that some officials view targeting North Korea’s illicit activities as a way to augment the talks and persuade Pyongyang to be more conciliatory. Others have come to see such pressure as a tool to change the North Korean regime.

 

North Korean Nuclear Crises: An End in Sight?

Bong-Geun Jun

After 25 months and on-and-off negotiations, the six-party talks finally produced a milestone joint statement on September 19, stipulating goals and principles leading to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Yet, as the failure of a subsequent November round to achieve significant progress makes clear, this is only the beginning of another long journey full of surprises and uncertainties.

As the parties participating in the talks with North Korea—China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States—seek to move forward, they must take heed of the disappointing history of nuclear negotiations (see sidebar). Occurring every few years since 1991, these nuclear negotiations show a clear cyclical pattern. First, there is a crisis, then there is an improvised and incomplete nuclear deal. Then, the deal collapses, and another crisis erupts.

The cycle reflects a number of recurring patterns. The United States tends to neglect relations with North Korea aside from crises. Once the two sides negotiate, deep distrust and animosity makes compromise, middle-ground solutions on most issues very difficult. The result is that Pyongyang and Washington only paper over differences before they begin the cycle anew.

North Korea bears much of the responsibility for this litany of failures. North Korea has a habit of reopening negotiations in order to squeeze out additional rewards or delay the fulfillment of its own obligations. Even worse, North Korea also tends to renege and withdraw from agreements once the cream is skimmed off the top or pressure is gone.

Yet, the United States also bears its share of the blame. Pyongyang’s frustrating negotiating tactics have led Washington to pursue an “all or nothing” approach in which it has demanded airtight and complete agreements with North Korea rather than more limited measures. Until Pyongyang becomes a more responsible member of the international community, however, the chances of reaching such a detailed agreement with Pyongyang are very low, while the diplomatic and financial cost of not achieving this goal is very high.

Rather than seeking a perfect agreement, the United States would be better off concentrating on following up and managing incremental agreements, something which it has thus far neglected to do. Building on such incremental promises and implementations offers the best chance of moving the six parties to the next level.

It is a good sign for the future of the talks that, by its actions in September, the United States seems to have decided on this more practical and incremental approach. In addition, new political and security trends on the Korean peninsula and in the Northeast Asian region are helping to form a favorable environment for the resolution of the nuclear issue. Despite lingering uncertainties and doubts—and history—there are substantial grounds for believing that the six-party process will yield real progress in ending the North Korean nuclear program permanently.

Competing Approaches and Solutions

Behind the previous negotiating failures lie inconsistencies in policy toward the North Korean nuclear issue both in the United States and South Korea and between the two allies. Internal conflicts in both countries between hawks and doves have often led to paralysis in decision-making processes and a failure to take timely actions. In addition, the consultation and coordination process between the United States and South Korea has often been neither smooth nor effective. Fortunately, both within and among the two capitals, policymakers now seem to have agreed on a fairly consistent approach to the talks.

Since 1991, Washington and Seoul have generally pursued four schools of thought and approaches to the North Korean nuclear issue: collapse, non-engagement, negotiation, and sunshine.

Washington has tended to fall into one of two camps. The first was a set of policies enacted in President George W. Bush’s first term that were directed to end the North Korean regime: collapse. Despite the emotional appeal in the United States of terminating the evil North Korean regime, the collapse approach was neither welcomed nor supported in the Northeast Asian region, as it tended to feed confrontation and crisis and led to North Korea’s withdrawal and isolation from the international community.

The second most common U.S. approach, non-engagement, has involved pursuing a strategy of muddling through in an attempt to avoid either military measures or appeasement. This approach is both reactive and crisis-prone, thus prolonging the status quo of nuclear stalemate. From 1995 to 2000, this policy toward North Korea was not so much a result of choice as it was a stalemate resulting from the confrontation between the Clinton administration and the Republican-led Congress over North Korea policy. By contrast, during Bush’s first term, non-engagement was sometimes followed as well, at times as a conscious choice and at other times as a reflection of a stalemate between the Department of State and other officials over North Korea policy. This stalemate persisted until Bush made a conscious choice to pursue dialogue seriously last year.

Seoul, on the other hand, has tended to follow two other sets of policies on the other end of the policy spectrum from Washington: sunshine and negotiations. The Kim Dae-jung government (1998-2002) pursued a sunshine policy tinged with nationalistic sentiment toward the North. This policy called on the United States and South Korea to take a number of steps to placate North Korea without requiring that North Korea first reciprocate.

The best policy results, such as the 1994 Agreed Framework and the 2005 Joint Statement, have been achieved when both Seoul and Washington have actively pursued a policy of negotiation. It was only after much trial and error, for example, that the Bush and Roh Moo-hyun administrations agreed last year that Washington’s collapse and non-engagement policies and Seoul’s sunshine policy should be coordinated and converged into the more moderate position of negotiation.

It is crucial for Washington and Seoul, the two critical players with the strongest interests in denuclearization, to maintain a joint position of negotiation even against domestic pressures to diverge in opposite directions. Past experience tells us that policy coordination between and within the governments becomes all the more important as divergences and disparities of policies usually result either in policy paralysis or inaction. Moreover, China, Japan, and Russia also tend to stick to the position of negotiation.

Four Reasons for Optimism

Assuming that the major players are able to learn from experience and stick to a policy of negotiation, there are some grounds for believing that the chances for success are significantly greater than in the past. Most notably, there are some new phenomena and trends that could increase the chances of a complete resolution of the nuclear issue. The following four factors stand out:

The Benefits of a Multilateral Approach

The six-party talks have become an effective tool to keep all the participants in the process. The six-party process also will provide an effective implementation guarantee mechanism once the implementation stage begins. All participants to the talks will be witnesses to and guarantors of the agreements. If one party tries to renege on its obligations, it has to confront criticism from the other five. In the 1990s, when North Korea failed to implement either the Joint Denuclearization Declaration or the Agreed Framework, Washington and Seoul alone could not mobilize any effective punitive measures against Pyongyang other than verbal reprimands. In the six-party process, although punitive measures might still be limited, numbers do count. Parties that traditionally support North Korea, such as China and Russia, would be obliged to join the United States and South Korea in taking joint action against Pyongyang.

The binding and restraining power of the six-party process, however, goes both ways. Although the United States started the six-party talks to mobilize multilateral pressure against North Korea, it turns out that the United States itself is also subject to the group mechanism. For example, at the urging of the other participants at the third round of six-party talks in June 2004, the United States refrained from expressing its previous demand for “complete, verifiable, and irreversible disarmament” so as not to give North Korea an excuse to boycott the negotiations. In addition, at the fourth round of six-party talks, Washington also made a symbolic concession to Pyongyang’s demands for peaceful use of nuclear energy and light-water reactors, after learning that the rest of the participants were sympathetic to South Korea’s position that such a right could be recognized as a matter of principle.

This new trend of multilateralism in the six-party talks also has made possible multilateral security cooperation in the Northeast Asian region. In the 1990s, any suggestions of regional security cooperation were rejected as not ripe or a perceived lack of common culture and ideologies in the region. For the first time at the government level in the region, all six states agreed to “explore ways and means for promoting security cooperation.”

Once multilateralism begins to function, it is not easy to break away unless one is ready to take all the blame. It is an effective mechanism to constrain and bind the behavior of the participants.

China’s Role

Second, China is playing an effective role as the mediator as well as the host of the six-party talks. Because the United States and North Korea do not trust each other, it becomes crucial to have a respected mediator. At the beginning of the first round of the six-party talks in August 2003, China initially only served as host, but increasingly and successfully, it has developed its role as a mediator. China’s active role in the six-party talks also coincides with China’s interest in being perceived as a responsible leader in Northeast Asia working toward regional peace and stability and not a regional hegemon.

Pyongyang’s External Dependence

Third, North Korea has become more dependent on assistance from and trade with the international community, including South Korea and China, for its survival. North Korea also has been undergoing significant socioeconomic reforms and opening since the 2000 inter-Korean summit. These economic changes and increasing dependence make North Korea more vulnerable to outside pressure than it was in the 1990s.

North Korea underwent a serious economic crisis in the 1990s when the Communist trade bloc collapsed. Worsening food shortages finally caused mass starvation from 1995 to 1998, when drought and flood alternately swept through North Korea. Pressed to undertake economic reforms, North Korea, one of the most closed societies in the world, introduced elements of the market economy into its revised Socialist constitution in 1998 and through the Economic Management Improvement Measures of July 1, 2002. Its economy and industry, which reportedly run below 30 percent of capacity, cannot be sustained unless supported by foreign aid and cooperation. If North Korea keeps expanding its nuclear arsenal, however, neither the international community nor Seoul can indefinitely continue economic cooperation and assistance. Memories of its severe economic and food crises and dependence on the outside will be an added restraint to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

U.S. Policy Shifts

Most importantly, U.S. policy toward North Korea seems to have become more practical, with an emphasis on diplomacy and negotiations instead of containment and pressure. The negotiation strategy of the policy team led by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill has proven effective. In fact, the United States has a higher chance of diplomatic success on the Korean peninsula than in any other trouble spot around the world.

Unfortunately, Bush lost four critical years during his first term, moving back and forth between the policies of collapse and non-engagement and failing to coordinate its North Korea policy with Seoul. In the meantime, North Korea restarted its nuclear activities and multiplied its weapons capability.

A New Package Deal

What might a deal look like that truly ended the North Korean nuclear crisis? The new formula would have to be comprehensive, phased, mutually beneficial, and multidimensional. It would likely require several implementation stages to foster trust that both Pyongyang and Washington will follow through on their commitments. Likewise, North Korea and its interlocutors would have to carry out reciprocal actions. These agreements would have to include countries other than North Korea and the United States so as to aid implementation and ease Pyongyang’s security concerns. And to guarantee that all of the six parties view the situation similarly, clear and effective verification processes would be essential.

 Moreover, permanent denuclearization will require progress and close coordination in five separate areas: dismantlement, security assurance and diplomatic normalization, economic aid, peace-regime building on the Korean peninsula, and Northeast Asia security cooperation.

For example, in a first stage Pyongyang might freeze all of its nuclear activities at Yongbyon, allow monitoring, and pledge to refrain from long-range missile tests. The United States would offer tentative security guarantees. The United States and other countries would resume shipments of heavy fuel oil suspended in 2002 while South Korea would begin discussions with North Korea on conducting surveys and drawing up plans to provide electricity.

In a second stage, North Korea would begin to dismantle any nuclear weapons and nuclear fuel cycle programs and facilities. The United States would begin negotiations on normalizing relations and easing sanctions. And other countries would aid North Korea’s economic and agricultural development and help Pyongyang prepare to join the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

In a final stage, North Korea would complete dismantlement and resolve any outstanding issues about its nuclear program, its long range missile efforts, or accusations that it has an arsenal of biological and chemical weapons. The United States and Japan would normalize relations and remove sanctions, and South Korea would begin providing North Korea with electricity. At this point, the United States and other countries might also again consider providing North Korea with light-water reactors when its nonproliferation bona fides have been proven.  

Given new diplomatic realities and a renewed willingness to denuclearize the peninsula, such an outcome is feasible. But the United States will need to make further diplomatic efforts and exercise further strategic flexibility. If it does so, it will be able to count on strong regional support both for the six-party talks and for the ultimate goals of dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear programs.


Recurring North Korean Nuclear Crises

Bong-Geun Jun

The past 15 years have seen a series of nuclear crises on the Korean peninsula, followed by agreements that collapsed, precipitating new crises. Some crises have been conspicuous and acute, others less so.

The First Crisis

The first nuclear crisis occurred when North Korea refused to sign a full-scope safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). When North Korea joined the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in December 1985, it was obliged to sign a safeguards agreement within 18 months. Taking advantage of an IAEA mistake in sending a wrong document, North Korea refused to meet the first deadline of June 1987 and then failed to meet a second deadline of December 1988. The crisis ended in December 1991 when North Korea suddenly accepted a South Korean proposal to denuclearize the Korean peninsula, the Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and signed the long-overdue safeguards agreement in January 1992. The United States then rewarded Pyongyang by suspending annual U.S.-South Korean “Team Spirit” military exercises and arranging the first-ever meeting of high-ranking U.S. and North Korean officials in New York.

The Second Crisis

The first nuclear package deal collapsed a year later, however, when North Korea realized that the U.S.-North Korean high-level meeting would prove a one-time event and that the Team Spirit exercises were to resume in early 1993. Meetings between South Korea and North Korea under a Joint Nuclear Control Commission fizzled.

In addition, when the IAEA pressed for special inspections on suspected nuclear facilities in Yongbyon, North Korea announced in March 1993 its withdrawal from the NPT, thus bringing about another crisis on the peninsula. The United States responded by opening a new round of negotiations, which produced a joint statement in which North Korea “decided unilaterally to suspend as long as it considers necessary the effectuation of its withdrawal from the NPT.” In return, the United States provided North Korea with assurances against the threat and use of force. The United States also promised to continue a dialogue among equals with North Korea.

The Third Crisis

In May 1994, North Korea surprised the world by blatantly and in the absence of IAEA inspectors unloading spent fuel from the five-megawatt graphite-moderated reactor at Yongbyon, providing it with the means of producing plutonium that could be used in nuclear weapons.

These North Korean provocations put Pyongyang on a crash course with Washington and nearly led to a war on the peninsula as the Clinton administration began reviewing surgical-strike options against North Korean nuclear facilities. Amid a heightened crisis, the United States and North Korea were pressed to choose between war and a nuclear deal. At this point, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter intervened and struck a deal with then-North Korean President Kim Il Sung. This dramatic intervention led to an agreement known as the Agreed Framework on October 21, 1994.

The agreement was a nuclear-for-nuclear package deal: North Korea would freeze and eventually dismantle its graphite-moderated nuclear fuel cycle, and in return, the United States and its allies would provide “proliferation-resistant” light-water reactors (LWRs) in addition to other means of energy, economic, and diplomatic compensation. Further, the IAEA would be able to account for what North Korea had done with all of its spent fuel.

Once again, though, the nuclear deal was never fully implemented. Most importantly, the United States was never enthusiastic about the idea of providing the LWRs, with some Clinton administration critics saying the reactors represented a type of bribe and that fuel from them could still be diverted to nuclear weapons use. Major construction work to build the LWRs started only in 2000, six years after the conclusion of the 1994 Agreed Framework. Additionally, the Clinton administration, under attack from Republicans in Congress for supposedly succumbing to Pyongyang’s nuclear blackmail, only partially implemented its commitment to ending economic sanctions and improving U.S.-North Korean relations. For its part, North Korea rejected IAEA inspection requests needed to determine what it had done with its spent fuel.

The Fourth Crisis

Still, the two countries managed to muddle through the 1990s without a conflict, and the freeze at Yongbyon remained in place. In October 2002, however, the United States accused North Korea of developing the capabilities to enrich uranium (another potential building block for nuclear weapons), in violation of the 1991 Joint Denuclearization Declaration and the 1994 Agreed Framework. It also claimed that Pyongyang had acknowledged that it had done so. Washington retaliated by nullifying the Agreed Framework and stopped provision of heavy-fuel oil and construction of the LWRs. The situation was further aggravated by the Bush administration’s distaste for North Korea and its leader, Kim Jong Il, as shown in explicit expressions such as “axis of evil” and “tyrant.”

North Korea reciprocated with the expulsion of IAEA inspectors from the Yongbyon complex in December 2002 and announced that it would withdraw from the NPT permanently. Pyongyang also restarted the five-megawatt reactor and began reprocessing spent fuel.

Amid increasing tensions, China began hosting six-party talks in August 2003, but it was not until the third round of the talks in June 2004, when the United States made its first concrete offer, that either Pyongyang or Washington appeared to treat them as a serious forum to hash out differences. Prior to that point, the United States attempted to use the talks to exert multilateral pressure on Pyongyang, while North Korea resisted any negotiations other than bilateral talks between itself and the United States. It was only after the second-term Bush administration decided to seriously pursue diplomacy in August that the six-party talks became a truly viable negotiating forum, with both sides showing give-and-take.

 

 


Bong-Geun Jun is director-general for national security and unification studies at South Korea’s Institute for Foreign Affairs and National Security.

 

Anti-Vehicle Mines Proposal Falters

Wade Boese

The future of a four-year-old initiative sponsored by the United States and 30 other states to restrict the use of anti-vehicle mines is uncertain due to stiff opposition from some countries, most notably Russia and China.

More than 60 states-parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) gathered in Geneva Nov. 14-25 to discuss the proposal. The CCW aims to prevent civilian casualties and protect soldiers from inhumane wounds by regulating the use of specific types of weapons, such as mines, incendiary weapons, and blinding lasers.

Washington and its supporters hoped the meeting would back negotiations on a new CCW protocol requiring that all anti-vehicle mines used outside of clearly marked perimeter areas be detectable and equipped with self-destruct and self-deactivation devices. The proposal also would bar transfers of undetectable anti-vehicle mines and remotely delivered anti-vehicle mines that lack self-destruct and self-deactivation features. Remotely delivered mines are designed to be emplaced by artillery or aircraft.

But several countries, led by China and Russia, argued that there were still too many unsettled issues to launch negotiations on a final agreement. Because the CCW generally operates by consensus, the minority view prevailed. States-parties have the option of forcing a vote, but the practice is discouraged.

U.S. officials, which had said 2005 was the pivotal year for the proposal, blasted the outcome and cast doubt on whether Washington would continue to participate in future talks. Speaking for the U.S. delegation, Jeffrey Kovar declared Nov. 25 that “the United States is not interested in continuous study” and that “business as usual” was a “failure.” He concluded, “Nevertheless, we will not block the CCW from continuing on this issue.”

What this means for the U.S. role at the talks when they resume in March 2006 remains unclear. Meetings are also scheduled for June and August, and a broader CCW review conference is set for November.

Department of State officials interviewed Dec. 16 by Arms Control Today said that the U.S. government is still evaluating its options. One of the officials complained, “It is not credible to say there is a problem but then do perpetual negotiations.”

The U.S. position is causing some nervousness among supporters of an anti-vehicle mines protocol because Washington has been the proposal’s primary promoter. The United States and Denmark initiated the effort in 2001.

Finnish Ambassador Markku Reimaa, who is serving as the coordinator of the anti-vehicle mine talks, urged countries to press on. “It is my firm conviction that, as a result of this work, a commonly acceptable instrument on [anti-vehicle mines] should be concluded by the time of the review conference,” Reimaa said Nov. 25.

But Russia and China stand in the way. Although other countries, such as Brazil and Pakistan, have expressed concerns about the proposal, the State Department officials said they did not think that other capitals would block an agreement if Beijing and Moscow were onboard.

Russia appears to be the larger obstacle. Moscow questions the basic premise that anti-vehicle mines pose humanitarian risks or threaten civilians, while Beijing argues that making anti-vehicle mines detectable or equipping them with self-destruct or self-deactivation mechanisms is too technically challenging and expensive.

It is difficult to know how many civilian casualties are caused by anti-vehicle mines. But the proposal’s supporters argue that anti-vehicle mines impede or deter humanitarian convoys, demining activities, and the return of refugees or internally displaced people to areas where the mines are believed to have been placed.

Sponsors of the proposal have made some compromises to try and make it more palatable. For instance, instead of completely banning undetectable anti-vehicle mines, the proposal has been revised to permit their use as long as they are employed within a perimeter-marked area.

Still, China and Russia maintain it is “premature” to finalize an agreement. Chinese Ambassador Hu Xiaodi said Nov. 24 that a “wide divergence on many basic elements of the issue of [anti-vehicle mines] exists.” Anatoly Antonov, head of the Russian delegation, remarked the same day that “[w]e are merely on the threshold of understanding the implications of the potential arrangements.”

Kovar disputed the contention that views are too far apart, saying, “Quite frankly, on issues of substance, we do not believe this to be the case.” One of the State Department officials said the issue simply comes down to “political will.”

Despite their differences on anti-vehicle mines, Beijing, Moscow, and Washington are in alignment on another CCW matter. All three capitals say they are moving toward ratifying a November 2003 agreement on post-conflict cleanup of abandoned or unexploded munitions, collectively referred to as explosive remnants of war (ERW). (See ACT, January/February 2004.) A draft U.S. ratification package is currently circulating among government agencies before its submission to the Senate for lawmaker review, one of the State Department officials reported.

Although Washington is taking steps to ratify the ERW protocol, as well as a 2001 amendment that would make the CCW and its protocols apply to intrastate conflicts instead of just interstate fighting, the Bush administration appears less interested in two other CCW protocols. In 1997 the Clinton administration submitted for Senate advice and consent protocols restricting the use of incendiary weapons and blinding lasers, but lawmakers have not completed a review of them. The Bush administration has not pushed the Senate to act.

 

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