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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
May 2006
Edition Date: 
Monday, May 1, 2006
Cover Image: 

Uzbek Nuclear Material Removed

Carina Linder

Under a classified mission, spent fuel containing 63 kilograms of highly enriched uranium (HEU) was successfully returned to Russia from Uzbekistan, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced April 20.

Monitored by the IAEA, the bomb-grade spent nuclear material was transported in four separate shipments from the Uzbekistan Institute of Nuclear Physics to the Mayak plant in Russia, where it will be reprocessed over the next several years. The high-security operation was conducted jointly by the United States, the Russian Federation, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and the IAEA as part of the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), an NNSA program to repatriate nuclear and radiological materials from around the globe.

The transportation of the nuclear material, enough to produce at least two nuclear weapons, was carried out over a course of 16 days. The Uzbek material was of “particular concern” because it had lost much of its radioactivity and therefore would be easier to handle by terrorists or others. The mission was completed on April 19, after six years of planning.

The HEU was originally supplied to Uzbekistan by the Soviet Union for use in its 10-megawatt research reactor, located near the Uzbek capital of Tashkent. The reactor currently produces isotopes for medical purposes.

This is the first time Russian HEU spent fuel has been returned to Russia from other countries under a 2005 agreement on nuclear security cooperation between President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin. (See ACT, March 2005.) Indeed, “[i]t is the first time that fuel used in a research reactor has been repatriated to Russia since the break-up of the Soviet Union,” the IAEA noted. Still, roughly 1,000 kilograms of spent Russian-origin HEU fuel remains abroad, according to estimates by scientists at Princeton University.

The shipment follows earlier IAEA- and/or GTRI-supported operations made in order to transfer un-irradiated reactor fuel containing HEU back to its country of origin. Approximately 186 kilograms of HEU fresh fuel have been returned to Russia from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Libya, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, and Uzbekistan under the GTRI program, according to the NNSA. There are more than 100 research reactors around the world still running on weapons-grade HEU.

 

Seizing the Moment: Using the U.S.-Indian Nuclear Deal To Improve Fissile Material Security

Kenneth N. Luongo and Isabelle Williams

The July 2005 agreement that could result in the United States sharing civilian nuclear technology with India has raised many legitimate questions about the future of the nuclear nonproliferation regime. The intense debate about the potential negative effects of the agreement, however, has blinded many to the opening that it has created to bolster nuclear material security in South Asia.

The agreement, if handled correctly, can create the conditions for engaging India and Pakistan in a new and constructive dialogue aimed at significantly strengthening the protection of their fissile material and nuclear facilities.

Given the unprecedented nature of this agreement and the dramatic change it would represent in U.S. nonproliferation policy, the ideal trade-off for congressional approval would be a complete cutoff of fissile material production in South Asia. However, there is robust opposition in India and Pakistan to a cutoff at this time. Therefore, a necessary and achievable alternative is to mandate that India engage in a serious dialogue about improving fissile material and facility security.

Requiring a discussion of security improvements and successfully implementing them would likely prove to be a touchy issue in New Delhi. Both the Bush administration and the Indian government have called for congressional approval of this agreement without conditions. Yet, given the post-September 11 importance of achieving the highest levels of fissile material security, it would be difficult for any responsible nuclear state to deny such a request, especially if it were handled in a way that minimized Indian domestic sensitivities.

If India, which is very clear about proclaiming itself as a responsible nuclear power, accepted the idea, it would join Pakistan, which has already begun a quiet dialogue with the United States on nuclear security improvements. The two sets of discussions could then potentially move in parallel and at a rapid pace. The confirmation of the actual security improvements would represent a concrete step forward in South Asian nuclear security and thereby balance out some of the troublesome security implications of the U.S.-Indian nuclear pact.

Procedurally, such a nuclear security dialogue could be mandated by the attachment of a condition to any legislation approving the agreement or be proposed as a precondition to approval of the agreement or its full implementation. There is a precedent for such a requirement. Conditions were imposed on the U.S.-Chinese nuclear cooperation agreement and implementation was delayed for almost 13 years while China made progress toward meeting them.

This initiative could be undertaken by the United States, other advanced nuclear states in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), or through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), but the method is less important than the end result. If the U.S.-Indian agreement is approved by Congress and backed by the NSG without a serious attempt having been made to intensify cooperation with India and Pakistan on nuclear protection beyond the IAEA safeguards contemplated under the agreement or currently in place, it would amount to an enormous missed opportunity to improve global security.

Proliferation Concerns

The terrorist attacks of September 11 and the subsequent U.S.-led anti-terrorism campaigns have heightened concerns regarding the active presence of jihadi groups operating in the South Asian region and in particular about extremist movements in Pakistan. One of the key drivers for engaging India and Pakistan on nuclear security issues is to prevent such terrorists from acquiring nuclear materials. In addition, the uncovering of the Abdul Qadeer Khan nuclear black market network demonstrated the nuclear proliferation risks that can arise when nuclear security standards are lax. Effective domestic control over nuclear materials is the first line of defense against threats both to domestic security and the use of fissile materials against foreign targets. For this reason, nuclear security is in the vested interest of all countries.

Pakistan has been described as “the most crucial node of the nexus of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction proliferation.”[1] The uncovering of Khan’s nuclear network demonstrated significant weaknesses in the security culture within Pakistan’s nuclear establishment. There are fears that an insider at a nuclear facility will attempt to sell technology or material that will end up in the hands of a state or nonstate actor. It has also been suggested that a coup could topple Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and result in the loss of central control over nuclear storage facilities, leaving some or all of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons vulnerable to theft by terrorists or in the hands of extremist groups.[2]

There are fewer concerns regarding India’s nuclear program because India has not been the breeding ground for global terrorists, nor has it been the scene of any major nuclear proliferation on the scale of Khan’s operations. However, there are a number of sustained terrorism campaigns operating within India, and there have been sporadic terrorist attacks in zones of high-level military security in India, including the 2001 terrorist attack on the Indian parliament.

Moreover, although no group has attempted to sabotage or enter a nuclear facility, there has been at least one explicit threat by a terrorist group to target nuclear facilities.[3] Reports of thefts of sensitive materials in India have fueled such concerns. For example, in July 1998 the Central Bureau of Investigation seized more than eight kilograms of natural uranium stolen from the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) in Chennai.[4] A retired scientist could also possibly be persuaded to assist a state’s or nonstate actor’s quest for nuclear materials or weapons. Concerns have also been raised about illicit nuclear equipment purchases, sensitive knowledge leakages, and lax export control implementation by India.

Domestic and International Security Efforts

Both India and Pakistan assert that they understand the importance of nuclear security. Officials from each country have stressed in public that necessary steps have been taken to strengthen security standards and that their nuclear programs are adequately secure, including domestic, bilateral, and international steps.

Pakistan has undertaken an extensive reorganization of the departments responsible for its nuclear programs. The Strategic Plans Division was created in 2000 to oversee the nuclear establishment and is currently establishing a permanent dedicated security force for nuclear facilities. Other domestic measures implemented in Pakistan to enhance security include:

• introducing domestic legislation to tighten controls on nuclear related exports,

• improving physical security at sensitive facilities,

• strengthening the personnel reliability system,

• relocating nuclear materials and weapons to more secure locations, and

• removing individuals involved in the nuclear black market from their posts within the nuclear establishment.[5]

There are few details regarding security standards in place in India, but the oversight infrastructure of the civilian and military nuclear programs in India appear to be well developed. It is generally believed that different levels of security are in place, depending on the sensitivity of materials, including fencing and sensors. Physical barriers installed at nuclear facilities deny access to sensitive areas, and access control is maintained over personnel working in them.[6]

The two countries are also currently involved in bilateral discussions, which include nuclear threat reduction measures. They also have demonstrated an interest in joining the NSG; have signed or acceded to regional cooperative agreements containing disarmament components; and have participated in IAEA nuclear safety and security training courses.[7]

Both countries are also required to provide the highest standards of security for fissile material under UN Resolution 1540 and as members of the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials. However, the resolution is not a substitute for concrete action, and the convention’s standard by itself may not prove sufficient because it does not require full-scale performance testing and does not delineate internal security procedures.

Framework for Cooperation

Although India and Pakistan have improved their nuclear security standards, they have done so on a measured path and under their own terms. They have provided no concrete evidence to the international community to support claims that their programs are invulnerable or that no improvements can be made or are needed. Because of the high international stakes involved if materials and expertise are not secured properly, more substantive cooperation is essential to ensure standards are as stringent as possible.

At the top governmental level in India and Pakistan, however, there are likely to be a number of obstacles to engaging in this very delicate dialogue, including political sensitivities, different threat perceptions, and bureaucracy. Future efforts will therefore need to be carefully packaged and executed and will require a higher priority on the political agenda.

Both countries are reluctant to allow external access to their nuclear programs and are suspicious about intrusive cooperation with the IAEA or the United States. National sovereignty over nuclear programs is a high priority in both countries, and they are unlikely to accept any initiative that advocates maximum transparency. This includes providing information relating to numbers, types, or locations of assets. Discussions would have to be conducted quietly as there is concern that acceptance of outside security assistance will be seen as undermining national plans and could have domestic political ramifications.[8] The media in each country has already accused their governments of “selling out” the country’s nuclear assets to the United States.

Scope of Cooperation

Therefore, it is essential that any dialogue on cooperation focus on ways to encourage India and Pakistan to become more transparent about their nuclear security procedures while remaining sensitive to political concerns and international nonproliferation commitments. Neither country would accept a donor-recipient relationship in this area with the United States or other states similar to the one that has developed between the United States and the other Group of Eight (G-8) nations as part of the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program and the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction. Under these efforts, as much as $2 billion per year is spent to secure fissile materials and other nuclear assets, destroy excess chemical weapons and nuclear-weapon launchers, and to redirect weapon scientists to peaceful pursuits.

Unlike Russia, it is very unlikely that either India or Pakistan would allow U.S. officials or laboratory specialists into its nuclear facilities to implement security upgrades. Also, financial resources are not likely to be a major issue. Nor are they likely to include dismantling the nuclear military establishment, closing down facilities, or blending down fissile materials.

It would be more productive to address specific threats faced in the region and look for ways to reduce them in a manner that respects the needs and sensitivities of the region.[9] Cooperation should focus on opening dialogue on a possible “menu” of low-intrusive tools that could be adopted and implemented unilaterally by either country at facilities across the board, both civilian and military. The goal would be to enhance and upgrade existing security procedures and provide an adjunct to IAEA safeguards at facilities where they existed or are proposed.

Possible tools that could be considered would include training programs, exchanges of best practices, and steps to strengthen the security culture in all nuclear-related institutions. Organizational links, such as lab-to-lab relations and scientific exchanges, could also be explored. Dialogue might need to begin by addressing the outsider threat (guard training, fences, cameras, equipment, etc.) because the insider threat is more sensitive and touches on broader internal issues that will be more difficult to address without a certain level of trust. It may also be possible to provide uncontroversial and nonintrusive up-to-date technology that is not nuclear specific, including surveillance monitoring and physical access controls.

Other areas that could be included in the menu include:

  • ensuring personnel reliability systems are as up to date and efficient as possible;

  • updating physical security standards at all nuclear facilities and for weapons, weapon components, and materials, including barriers and perimeters, surveillance, and access control techniques;

  • strengthening the security of radioactive material held by nonstate agencies;

  • ensuring effective planning for dealing with emergencies and response procedures;

  • ensuring effective control and accounting for weapons, weapon components, and materials;

  • reviewing the most likely threats and designing protection that ensures a high level of security; and

  • discussing stringent export control law implementation.
  • Partners in Cooperation

    There are several nonintrusive and uncontroversial approaches that could be adopted to engage with India and Pakistan more deeply on nuclear security upgrades. These include bilateral discussions with the United States or other advanced nuclear states or the use of programs within the IAEA.

    Bilateral

    At this stage, the preferable route for engagement might be initiating off-the-record bilateral negotiations with the United States to share best practices on security procedures. The United States has developed and strengthened its relations with each country in recent years and has extensive experience in implementing and evaluating nuclear security both domestically and internationally through a variety of programs.

    The United States and Pakistan initiated a bilateral dialogue on improving nuclear security in the wake of an October 2001 visit by Secretary of State Colin Powell. The results of the discussions have been very closely held, but they have been described by knowledgeable experts as nonintrusive and nonsensitive expert-level discussions. The scope reportedly includes export and commodity controls, personnel reliability programs, nuclear material protection, control and accounting, transportation security, knowledge exchanges, and training. One knowledgeable Pakistani official has described the progress under this dialogue as being substantial. Others have indicated that the scope of the talks may be even greater and extend to discussions on installing new safeguards on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants.[10]

    Although this is a positive step toward bolstering nuclear security in Pakistan, such dialogue must receive sustained, high-level political attention from both parties and must show concrete results. The United States and Pakistan should have clearly stipulated goals for short- and long-term progress and ensure that any upgrades can be confirmed, taking into account the need to maintain discretion for political and other purposes. The same set of circumstances would apply to cooperation with India as well.

    IAEA

    The IAEA is also an important potential avenue for short- and long-term nuclear cooperation in South Asia. India and Pakistan are members of the IAEA, and the IAEA has already made a number of contributions to their nuclear security efforts. It might be difficult to involve the IAEA further because of the sensitivities that exist in both countries because they are not signatories to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

    It is important for India and Pakistan to remember that while the IAEA plays an important role in verifying the implementation of the NPT, the IAEA is more than just an extension of the NPT. The IAEA was created by a statute more than a decade before the existence of the NPT. Further, the statute states that any country can request the agency to apply safeguards to their nuclear activities, as the IAEA has already done on four Indian nuclear reactors and four Pakistani nuclear reactors. The IAEA statute therefore provides a potentially useful tool for further cooperation in South Asia.

    There are no specific requirements in the statute relating to nuclear security, but the IAEA does have funds available for a number of ways to collaborate and work with different countries. These include providing security expertise through training programs, technical cooperation, and fact-finding missions.

    India and Pakistan could also request assistance from the IAEA with nuclear security under the International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS). The key goal of IPPAS is to assist countries to secure their nuclear materials and facilities by dispatching teams of international experts who will examine and offer suggestions on how to improve the countries’ security standards. Neither India nor Pakistan appears to have taken advantage of this service to date.

    The international community could also press for further participation from India and Pakistan in the international nonproliferation regime. For example, India and Pakistan could announce that they would behave in conformance with the key articles of the NPT without actually being recognized as nuclear-weapon states or signing the treaty. This would serve as recognition that the NPT remains the principal framework for nonproliferation and place India and Pakistan closer to the international nuclear mainstream.[11]

    Conclusions

    The U.S.-Indian nuclear cooperation agreement has raised important nonproliferation questions and the hackles of many nonproliferation specialists because it proposes to alter the status quo dramatically. Although the world faces many important nuclear proliferation challenges at present, the chief nonproliferation objective in the current environment is assuring the highest level of nuclear material security globally. India and Pakistan, two countries with extensive and growing fissile material stockpiles, now are largely outside the scope of international security standards, and their own nuclear material security practices are opaque.

    Unfortunately, the agreement does not include any conditions for India to strengthen its nuclear security standards beyond introducing IAEA safeguards on a limited number of declared civilian facilities. As the IAEA itself acknowledges, safeguards provide only a firewall against nuclear terrorism, and it is the responsibility of states to ensure the adequacy of their fissile material safety. This should include all locations where fissile material may be stored, including non-IAEA-safeguarded civilian and military facilities.

    Therefore, an opportunity exists for Congress to work in concert with the administration and other international partners to shore up the agreement by requiring a dialogue that can concretely improve fissile material security in South Asia. Approval of the agreement without this adjunct dialogue and its concrete outcomes will result in a missed opportunity for the United States and for global security.

    All countries that possess an active nuclear program have a responsibility, domestically and internationally, to ensure that the highest effective nuclear security standards are in place. India and Pakistan are pressing their claims to be treated as responsible nuclear states. Therefore, they should embrace this mandate of providing greater confidence that they have demonstrably maximized the security of all of their nuclear infrastructure.

     


    Kenneth N. Luongo is executive director of the Russian-American Nuclear Security Advisory Council (RANSAC) and Isabelle Williams is a consultant at RANSAC’s Globalizing Threat Reduction Project. RANSAC is an independent, nongovernmental organization dedicated to the effective control and elimination of weapons of mass destruction.


     

    Nuclear Security in India and Pakistan

    Kenneth N. Luongo and Isabelle Williams

    One of the major arguments against the U.S.-Indian nuclear cooperation agreement is the belief that it will allow for continued growth of fissile material stockpiles in South Asia. These stockpiles do not approach the size of those in the United States and Russia, for example, but they are significant and uncapped. By contrast, the United States and Russia have stopped producing fissile materials for weapons.

    India

    Knowledge of India’s nuclear material and weapon stockpiles is based on expert estimates; likewise its fissile material and facility security practices are opaque. Current estimates claim that India possesses 300-470 kilograms of plutonium,[1] sufficient to produce up to 120 nuclear weapons, and a smaller amount of highly enriched uranium (HEU). India’s nuclear weapons are thought to be stored as separate components.

    India has a more extensive civilian nuclear program than Pakistan and has plans to quintuple nuclear energy production over the next 15 years. India currently has 15 operating nuclear power reactors, seven more under construction, and several others planned. This growth is driven in part by India’s economic expansion and subsequent growth in energy needs.[2]

    Four of these reactors currently operate under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. In addition, the Tarapur plutonium reprocessing facility is safeguarded when safeguarded fuel is being processed, and the Tarapur mixed-oxide fuel-fabrication plant has safeguards when safeguarded material is being used. The Hyderabad fuel-fabrication plant has partial safeguards. Key nuclear weapons-related facilities not subject to IAEA inspections include Bhabha Atomic Research Center, which houses the Cirus and Dhruva research reactors for plutonium production, plutonium reprocessing plants, and a pilot-scale uranium-enrichment plant.[3] These sites, as well as storage sites for weapons-grade material or for weapons themselves, could be attractive targets for terrorists seeking nuclear materials because they contain weapons-usable material.[4]

    Pakistan

    The extent of Pakistan’s nuclear-weapon components and materials are also not known in detail. Current estimates claim that Pakistan possesses 1,200-1,250 kilograms of HEU, sufficient to produce between 55 and 90 nuclear weapons, and 20-60 kilograms of plutonium.[5] Pakistan is reported to have several nuclear weapons storage facilities. Nuclear weapons are believed to be stored either in component form, with the fissile core separated from the non-nuclear explosives, or as weapons mounted on a delivery vehicle, with the fissile core stored separately.[6]

    Four of Pakistan’s nuclear facilities currently operate under IAEA safeguards: the Karachi and Chasma-1 power reactors and the Pakistan Atomic Research Reactors I and II in Rawalpindi. Several key nuclear weapons-related facilities are not subject to IAEA inspections. One is the Khan Research Laboratory, which is where weapons-grade uranium is fabricated into weapons. Other uranium-related facilities not under safeguards are the enrichment facilities at Golra, Sihala, and Gadwal. Plutonium-related facilities not subject to safeguards include the Khushab research reactor, which is estimated to generate about 50 megawatts of power, sufficient to produce the plutonium necessary for a few nuclear weapons per year, and New Laboratories, a plutonium reprocessing plant.[7]

    Jihadi groups and religious fundamentalists in Pakistan are a significant cause of concern. A number of al Qaeda operatives have taken refuge in the adjoining border between Afghanistan and northwestern provinces of Pakistan. Al Qaeda has claimed to have an interest in acquiring nuclear materials. There also is a growing level of terrorist activity within Pakistan, including assassination attempts on Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who plays a critical role in assuring Pakistan’s indigenous nuclear security.

     


    1. David Albright and Kimberly Kramer, “Fissile Materials: Stockpiles Still Growing,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November/December 2004.

    2. Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India, “Nuclear Power in India.”

    3. Joseph Cirincione with Jon B. Wolfsthal and Miriam Rajkumar, Deadly Arsenals: Tracking Weapons of Mass Destruction, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2002.

    4. Sharon Squassoni, “Nuclear Threat Reduction Measures for India and Pakistan,” Congressional Research Service, May 5, 2003.

    5. Albright and Kramer, “Fissile Materials.”

    6. David Albright, “Securing Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons Complex,” Paper for the 42nd Strategy for Peace Conference, Strategies for Regional Security, October 25-27, 2001.

    7. Cirincione with Wolfsthal and Rajkumar, Deadly Arsenals.

     

     

     


    ENDNOTES

    1. Sharon Squassoni, “Nuclear Threat Reduction Measures for India and Pakistan,” Congressional Research Service, May 5, 2003.

    2. David Albright, “Securing Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons Complex,” Paper for the 42nd Strategy for Peace Conference, Strategies for Regional Security, October 25-27, 2001.

    3. On September 12, 2001, Sheikh Jamil-ur-Rehman, leader of the Tehrik-ul-Mujahideen, a terrorist group active in Kashmir, vowed to attack nuclear facilities in India.

    4. Rajesh Basrur and Friedrich Steinhausler, “Nuclear and Radiological Terrorism Threats for India: Risk Potential and Countermeasures,” The Journal of Physical Security Vol. 1, No. 1 (2004).

    5. Muhammad Afzal, “Cooperation in Fissile Material Management: The View From Pakistan,” Paper submitted to the Institute for Nuclear Materials Management Annual Meeting, July 12, 2005; Major General Mahmoud Ali Durrani (Ret.), “Pakistan’s Strategic Thinking and the Role of Nuclear Weapons,” Cooperative Monitoring Center Occasional Paper No. 37, July 2004.

    6. P. R. Chari, “Protection of Fissile Materials: The Indian Experience,” ACDIS Occasional Paper, September 1998.

    7. Pakistan participated in an IAEA safety workshop held in Islamabad and an IAEA-sponsored physical protection training course at Sandia in 2002. In 2002, India requested a regional workshop on physical protection, and India was one of several states in which the IAEA conducted physical protection-related seminars in 2003.

    8. Afzal, “Cooperation in Fissile Material Management.”

    9. Ramamurti Rajaraman, “Cooperative Threat Reduction: Is There Scope for Extension to South Asia,” Landau Network Centro Volta Workshop on South Asia Discussion Paper 1, September 27, 2004.

    10. K. Alan Kronsdadt, “Pakistan-U.S. Relations,” Congressional Research Service, October 8, 2004; Charles D. Ferguson, “Preventing Catastrophic Nuclear Terrorism,” CSR No. 11, March 2006.

    11. Thomas E. Shea and Danielle J. Peterson, “Global Best Practices for Nuclear Materials Management: Perspectives on South Asia,” Paper submitted to the Institute for Nuclear Materials Management Annual Meeting, July 12, 2005.

     

    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.

     

     


    ENDNOTES

    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.

     

    Reports Grow That U.S. Plots Strike Against Iran

    Paul Kerr

    Even as the Bush administration continues its diplomatic efforts to resolve the international dispute surrounding Tehran’s nuclear programs, recent press reports have increased concern that the United States may take military action against Iran in order to end the perceived threat posed by the programs.

    The press for more than a year has reported that the Pentagon is drawing up plans for possible air and missile strikes. But several April reports have brought greater attention to the issue.

    An April 10 New Yorker article reported that the Department of Defense is considering a range of targets. These include Iran’s nuclear facilities, as well as unrelated targets. Striking these other targets could be part of a broader strategy to bring about regime change in Tehran, the article said.

    Perhaps most alarming, the magazine also reported that the United States may attack some of Iran’s nuclear sites with nuclear weapons. According to the article, one of the “military’s initial option plans, as presented to the White House by the Pentagon this winter, calls for the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11 [bomb], against underground nuclear sites.”

    Iran has buried key elements of its nuclear program including its gas-centrifuge uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz and has constructed tunnels at its uranium-conversion facility located near Isfahan.

    The possibility that Iran also has clandestine, underground, nuclear-related facilities has vexed U.S. intelligence for some time. A Department of State official told Arms Control Today in February that the United States believes Iran has such facilities because of the underground construction at Natanz and Isfahan, as well as military bases. Iran is also known to have buried many of its missile facilities, the official said. (See ACT, March 2006.)

    But two former State Department officials familiar with the matter indicated in interviews with Arms Control Today earlier this month that the United States has no specific information about other buried Iranian facilities. “I have been wondering myself about the ‘numerous’ buried facilities,” one former official said, adding that “press reporting about other facilities is unconfirmed.”

    That has not stopped experts from debating responses to the possibility of such facilities. Some experts have argued that air strikes would not stop Iran’s nuclear program because Tehran could just continue to work at its secret sites or reconstitute any damaged facilities or equipment. On the other hand, the New Yorker article indicated that, according to some U.S. officials, the Pentagon needs to retain a nuclear option in case it lacks sufficient information about a newly-found Iranian underground nuclear facility to mount a successful conventional attack.

    Whether the administration is seriously considering the use of nuclear weapons against Iran is unclear. Recent Bush administration national security planning documents have suggested that the United States might use nuclear weapons against such targets, perhaps pre-emptively. (See ACT, September 2005.)

    However, the New Yorker reported that U.S. military commanders do not support the use of a nuclear weapon against Iran. And British Foreign Minister Jack Straw called the notion of a nuclear strike “completely nuts” in an April 9 BBC interview.

    U.S. allies and other countries involved with the ongoing diplomatic efforts have not voiced support for any sort of military action against Iran.

    President George W. Bush and administration officials have stated repeatedly that Washington will not take any options “off the table” but have generally refrained from overtly threatening Iran with military force. Bush dismissed reports of military action as “wild speculation” during an April 10 speech in Washington.

    View From Tehran

    In response to the reports of U.S. military strike planning, Iranian officials have displayed both concern and bravado. For example, Iran’s Foreign Ministry sent a complaint to the UN Security Council in March protesting “thinly veiled [ U.S.] threats of resort to force against” Iran. Some Iranian officials have suggested that they want an assurance that the United States will not attack.

    But other Iranian officials have downplayed the possibility of a U.S. strike, citing such factors as the U.S. military’s ongoing difficulties in securing Iraq following the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003.

    Iranian officials have hinted at Tehran’s likely response to a military attack. According to the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said April 26 that Tehran would retaliate against “ U.S. aggression” by damaging the U.S. interests worldwide “twice as much” as any military strikes. Iranian officials have made similar threats of retaliation in the past.

    Ali Larijani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, stated the previous day that military strikes would fail because Iran would respond by starting “covert” nuclear activities, IRNA reported.

     

    U.S. Unable to Meet CWC 2012 Deadline

    Michael Nguyen

    The United States has announced that it will not be able to destroy its stockpile of chemical weapons before a final deadline required by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), even with the maximum one-time extension permitted by the treaty.

    In April 10 letters to the chairs of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said that by April 2012 the United States anticipated destroying only 66 percent of its stockpile, the second largest in the world. As of mid-April, the United States has destroyed about 39 percent of its 38,000-metric-ton stockpile. A Department of Defense official said that based on the current timeline, destruction activities will not be completed at all sites until 2017.

    The convention requires the United States to destroy its stockpile by April 29, 2007. However, the treaty does permit states-parties to request a one-time, five-year extension to the final deadline, allowing destruction activities to continue until April 2012. The Conference of States-Parties, the CWC body that must approve all deadline extensions, effectively granted the United States the one-time extension in 2003 when it extended an interim deadline for destroying 45 percent of the stockpile to December 2007.

    During an April 20 informal meeting of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Executive Council, Eric Javits, the U.S. ambassador to the international body, indicated that the United States planned to formally request the final deadline extension to April 2012, but acknowledged that the United States would not be able to meet even that target. The executive council will consider the U.S. request at its next meeting May 16-19 and send any recommendations to the Conference of States-Parties for approval in December.

    “It has taken longer than anticipated to build facilities and to obtain the necessary permits and consent to begin destruction of chemical weapons, and we have found that, once operating, our facilities have not destroyed weapons as rapidly as we initially projected,” Javits said.

    During an April 17 briefing in Washington, a State Department official said that although the United States might miss the 2012 deadline, it was not a reflection of the commitment to the goal of the CWC, which remains “strong.”

    The consequences of the U.S. failure to meet the CWC’s final deadline are unclear. Article XII of the convention permits states-parties to take measures to address issues of noncompliance but does not spell out any automatic penalties. CWC states-parties could choose to pursue various individual or collective actions against the United States. (See ACT, June 2005.) However, the State Department official did not believe the other states-parties would impose any serious sanctions and downplayed the possibility of amending the CWC to extend the deadline.

    The United States is not alone in its tardiness. Of the five other states that have declared stockpiles of weapons, only Albania is expected to complete destruction activities by April 2007, a State Department official said. Despite claims that it will destroy its entire stockpile in accordance with the CWC, Russia is also widely expected to miss the 2012 deadline. Russia has destroyed less than 3 percent of its stockpile, which at 41,000 metric tons is the largest declared stockpile.

    South Korea has already received a deadline extension until the end of 2008, while the Executive Council will be considering May 16-19 requests from India and Libya along with that from the United States. Libya is awaiting a U.S. decision about whether to provide destruction assistance (See "Libya Chemcial Weapons Destruction Costly"). India and Libya, said the State Department official, are expected to request one-time extensions of less than five years. Japan and China have also requested an extension to the deadline to destroy the chemical weapons Japan abandoned in China at the end of World War II.

    In the United States, at least six of nine chemical weapons disposal facilities will be continuing operations beyond 2012, including four U.S. Army incineration facilities. Of these, a facility in Umatilla, Oregon, is not expected to finish until 2017. A fifth Army-operated disposal facility in Newport, Indiana, has begun neutralizing chemical agents but has encountered resistance from the public and certain state governments to a plan to transport hydrolysate, a caustic by-product of the neutralization process, to New Jersey for further treatment. Construction of an on-site treatment plant could add $300 million in costs and up to four years to the destruction process, said a Defense Department official.

    Two other planned destruction sites in Pueblo, Colorado, and Blue Grass, Kentucky, are still in the design phase. Both facilities, which are operated by the Defense Department independent of the Army, are not expected to be operational until 2011 and would not complete their destruction activities until 2017.

    In the past, Senators from Colorado and Kentucky have blasted the Defense Department for failing to adequately fund efforts at both sites (see ACT, March 2005). Recently, Colorado’s two Senators offered a non-binding resolution acknowledging the importance of meeting the treaty’s deadline and calling upon the department not to slacken its efforts.

    A Defense Department official estimated that, without further changes, the final costs of destroying the entire stockpile, including the costs of cleaning up and closing the disposal facility sites, would be $32 billion. That number is up from the initial estimate of $14.6 billion and the 2001 estimate of $23.7 billion. (See ACT, May 2004.)

     

    U.S. Steps Up North Korea Sanctions

    Paul Kerr

    The Department of the Treasury announced March 30 that it had imposed penalties on a Swiss company, along with one of its owners, for procuring “goods with weapons-related applications” for North Korea. The move follows about a dozen similar sanctions under a June 2005 executive order issued by President George W. Bush and comes as multilateral talks designed to resolve the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula remain stalled.

    A Treasury Department press release said it had designated Kohas AG and its president, Jakob Steiger, as being involved in the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons or related delivery vehicles.

    Describing the firm as an industrial supply wholesaler, which acts as a “technology broker in Europe for the North Korean military,” the press release added that both the company and Steiger have been involved in activities of “proliferation concern on behalf of North Korea since the company’s founding in the late 1980s.” The department did not provide further details.

    The designation freezes any U.S. assets either of the company or Steiger. It also prohibits the company or Steiger from engaging in transactions with any U.S. citizens or companies. Whether this action will have any practical effect on the entities is unclear. The Treasury Department cannot disclose whether designated companies have any U.S. assets, a department spokesperson told Arms Control Today April 24.

    Moreover, the assets may already be frozen. The Treasury Department last October similarly punished Korea Ryongwang Trading Corp., a North Korean company that owns just under half of the Swiss firm’s shares. Any U.S assets the company had “would have been frozen at that time,” the spokesperson said.

    Steiger owns the remainder of the firm’s shares, the press release said. The spokesperson emphasized that the designations also “prohibit the individuals and entities from accessing the U.S. financial system.”

    Both the company and the Swiss government have disputed the Treasury Department’s account. Othmar Wyss, an official at the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, stated, “we don’t believe the company has shipped goods to North Korea without approval or that these goods have been used for the production of weapons of mass destruction,” Reuters reported March 31.

    Steiger told Reuters the same day that the company imported aluminum brackets from North Korea to manufacture shelving. But the firm does not export to that country, he said. He also denied that North Korean entities owned any part of his company, Reuters reported.

    North Korea’s proliferation activities have long been a source of concern. Stuart Levey, the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said March 30 that North Korea’s efforts “to build and sell weapons of mass destruction depend on a vast network, the reach of which extends beyond Asia.”

    North Korea is believed to have used overseas networks to transfer ballistic missiles and related technologies as well as acquire components for a suspected clandestine nuclear weapons program.

    During an April 6 Senate hearing, Levey touted the success of other recent U.S. actions to curb Pyongyang’s proliferation activities, such as the Treasury Department’s September designation of a Macau bank as a “money laundering concern.” 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, the distribution of counterfeit U.S. currency, and smuggling of counterfeit tobacco products and pharmaceuticals.

    Since the September designation, the bank has frozen the relevant accounts. Other financial institutions have also curtailed their dealings both with the bank and North Korea, according to U.S. officials.

    Levey also indicated that the United States would continue such efforts, saying the Internal Revenue Service’s investigation would “exploit underlying North Korean account information at Banco Delta Asia.” Such an investigation will enable the United States to “gain an even greater understanding of...[North Korea’s] illicit activities,” he said.

    Meanwhile, the Treasury Department has undertaken another measure designed to stem North Korean illicit activities. The department announced April 6 that it is amending the Foreign Assets Control Regulations to place new restrictions on U.S. transactions involving North Korean property. The amendment prohibits “[U.S.] persons from owning, leasing, operating, or insuring any vessel” flying the North Korean flag. The new restrictions become effective May 8.

    Still No Talks

    Despite a March meeting between North Korean and U.S. officials to discuss the Banco Delta Asia matter, Pyongyang continues to refuse to agree to another round of six-party talks, citing its objections to the actions taken against the Macau bank. The six parties, which also include China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea, last met in November. (See ACT, April 2006.)

    North Korea has repeatedly called on the United States to lift the “financial sanctions,” which Pyongyang asserts are part of a U.S. policy to undermine the regime and to pressure the country to make concessions in the six-party talks.

    The Chosun Ilbo reported April 13 that North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye Gwan told reporters Pyongyang would return to the talks if the United States lifted the freeze of Banco Delta Asia’s funds, which total approximately $24 million. Kim reportedly tried to meet with Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill during the conference, but Hill refused to do so.

    Washington maintains that it is ready to return to the talks but has not indicated that it will agree to Kim’s request. Hill reiterated the Department of State’s position that the two sides could meet bilaterally in the context of the six-party talks to discuss the Banco Delta Asia issue, South Korea’s semi-official Yonhap News Agency reported April 11.

    For their part, other participants in the talks have continued to call on North Korea and the United States to be more flexible. For example, Chinese President Hu Jintao acknowledged during an April 20 press conference with Bush that the negotiations “have run into some difficulties” and said that all parties should “further display flexibility, work together, and create necessary conditions for the early resumption of the talks.”

     

    New Details Emerge On NK Enrichment Program

    Paul Kerr

    A former Department of State official familiar with Pyongyang’s nuclear program told Arms Control Today April 18 that North Korea’s suspected uranium-enrichment program has received a more advanced type of centrifuge from a black-market network than has previously been made public.

    The claims had first been reported in the New York Times the previous day.

    The official said that North Korea received the advanced P-2 centrifuge from Pakistan. Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf acknowledged last fall that a proliferation network run by former Pakistani nuclear official Abdul Qadeer Khan had provided Pyongyang with 12 to 20 complete centrifuges, as well as centrifuge designs and components. (See ACT, October 2005.)

    U.S. officials had earlier claimed that Pyongyang received centrifuge components from the Khan network. Libya is also known to have obtained P-2 centrifuges from Khan (see ACT, July/August 2004). Iran has acknowledged obtaining P-2 centrifuge designs from the network but has denied receiving the actual centrifuges (See "Security Council Mulls Response to Iran").

    Gas centrifuges enrich uranium hexafluoride by spinning it at very high speeds to increase the concentration of the relevant fissile isotope. Highly enriched uranium can be used as fissile material in nuclear weapons. Pyongyang has repeatedly denied having a uranium-enrichment program.

    Even if North Korea has received P-2 centrifuges, it is not clear whether or to what extent North Korea has made use of either of the centrifuge technologies. State Department officials told Arms Control Today last fall that North Korea has enough components sufficient for a “pilot” enrichment facility. But there appears to be considerable doubt as to whether Pyongyang has an operating facility or possesses all necessary centrifuge components.

    North Korea also has a plutonium-based nuclear weapons program. In 2003, Pyongyang restarted a nuclear reactor and related facilities whose operation had been frozen under a 1994 bilateral agreement with the United States. Pyongyang claims to have extracted plutonium from the reactor’s spent fuel and used it to produce nuclear weapons. (See ACT, December 2005.)

    The U.S. intelligence community assesses that North Korea probably has nuclear weapons but has not yet confirmed the accuracy of Pyongyang’s claims.

     

     

     

    Libya Chemical Weapons Destruction Costly

    Michael Nguyen

    The United States is considering aiding Libya with the destruction of its chemical weapons stockpile, but Department of Defense officials are expressing reservations about spending the department’s limited threat reduction funds on a potentially expensive project.

    In December 2003, Libya pledged to eliminate all elements of its nuclear and chemical weapons programs and soon thereafter acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which prohibits states-parties from developing, producing, or using chemical weaponry. (See ACT, March 2004.) During an initial inspection in March 2004, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the CWC’s implementing body, verified Libya’s declared stockpile of 23 metric tons of mustard gas and more than 1,300 metric tons of precursor chemicals. The CWC requires Libya to destroy both by April 29, 2007, although Libya has requested an extension.

    Libya has already destroyed more than 3,500 unfilled aerial munitions and received permission from the OPCW to convert a former chemical weapons facility at Rabta into a pharmaceuticals plant. (See ACT, October 2004.)

    James Tegnelia, director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), told reporters March 30 that, based on initial estimates, U.S. assistance for destroying the weapons could cost more than $100 million. That would represent a substantial slice of the Defense Department’s budget for implementing the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program to dismantle weapons of mass destruction programs in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere. For fiscal year 2007, President George W. Bush has asked Congress to provide $372 million for the program. (See ACT, March 2006.)

    By comparison, the United States expects to give Albania about $20 million in assistance over two years to destroy its 16 metric tons of chemical agent. (See ACT, December 2004.)

    Peter Flory, assistant secretary of defense for international security policy, told Congress April 5 that any destruction project would be “fairly expensive” because the weapons and materials are stored in a remote location in the desert, about 600 kilometers from Tripoli, Libya’s coastal capital. Speaking at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, he said that transporting these weapons would almost certainly be necessary. “Where these things are now does not have any water, and chemical [demilitarization] is a very water-intensive process.” He also noted that temperatures during the day often reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit at the location, which was not disclosed for security reasons.

    The choice of destruction method and the issue of transporting the chemical agent to a more suitable location will have an effect on the final costs. A joint team of officials from DTRA and the Department of State has visited Libya and is in the process of drafting a report on possible options.

    Given the technical challenges, both Tegnelia and Flory expressed reservations about using limited CTR funds for this project, especially given the other projects competing for funding, particular in the former Soviet Union. “We have to consider what are the opportunity costs of doing that particular bit of work,” said Flory, who also stated that any decision should carefully consider the conditions of the munitions, their proliferation risks, and the technical challenges.

    “In the end, meeting the Chemical Weapons Convention responsibility is the Libyan government’s responsibility,” Tegnelia added.

    But Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who chaired the April 5 hearing, said, “It would seem that the Cooperative Threat Reduction program is the most logical candidate” to bear the costs of the destruction. Cornyn said that Congress in December 2003 authorized the use of CTR funds outside of the former Soviet Union “with the specific example of Libya in mind.”

     

    The United States is considering aiding Libya with the destruction of its chemical weapons stockpile, but Department of Defense officials are expressing reservations about spending the department’s limited threat reduction funds on a potentially expensive project. (Continue)

    Congress Ponders Conditions for U.S.-Indian Deal

    Wade Boese

    Indian and U.S. government officials have warned that their proposed civil nuclear cooperation deal should not be tampered with, lest it unravel. Yet, even U.S. lawmakers supportive of the deal have said congressional conditions should be expected, while some foreign nuclear suppliers and Indian politicians are also resisting giving the deal a free pass.

    U.S. law has significantly restricted civil nuclear trade with India since New Delhi’s 1974 test of a nuclear device that made use of U.S. and Canadian nuclear imports slated for peaceful purposes. Over the next three decades, India secretly pursued a nuclear weapons program, shielded nearly all of its nuclear enterprise from international oversight, conducted a series of nuclear tests in May 1998, and accrued an estimated arsenal of 50-100 nuclear weapons.

    Citing India’s rising status and growing energy needs, President George W. Bush pledged last July to help revive U.S. and global nuclear commerce with India. Toward this end, Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in March approved a plan dividing India’s nuclear complex into civilian and military sectors. (See ACT, April 2006.)

    Washington provided New Delhi March 14 with a draft bilateral cooperation agreement that would govern U.S. exports to the civilian portion of India’s nuclear apparatus. Such agreements are required by the 1954 Atomic Energy Act. Formal negotiations on the agreement await India’s counterproposal, according to a Department of State official interviewed April 18 by Arms Control Today. “We have made ourselves available whenever India is ready,” the official said.

    Although the agreement remains to be negotiated, the Bush administration is urging Congress to pass legislation that would make it easier for it to take effect once it is completed. In particular, instead of requiring the negotiated agreement to win the approval of a majority of members in each congressional chamber, the administration is essentially asking Congress to allow the agreement to enter into force after 90 days if two-thirds of the House and Senate do not vote to block it.

    In April 5 appearances before both the Senate Foreign Relations and House International Relations Committees, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice defended the administration’s approach. While saying that “we’re prepared to work with the Congress on concerns,” Rice also told the House committee, “we can’t be in a position of having to renegotiate this agreement.” She further asserted that “anything that would suggest that we are somehow turning this into an arms control agreement would be particularly problematic.”

    Rice was primarily alluding to frequent criticism that the administration should have secured an Indian commitment to end India’s production of fissile material—plutonium and highly enriched uranium—for weapons purposes. Without such a cessation, questions could arise about whether nuclear trade with India’s civilian nuclear infrastructure could be contributing to New Delhi’s military sector. France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States all have halted production of fissile material for weapons while China is understood to have done so.

    In addition, without such a halt in fissile material production, the size to which India’s nuclear stockpile could grow would remain uncapped. Rice acknowledged to the Senate committee that “we didn’t set out to constrain the [Indian] strategic program in this agreement.”

    Yet, Rice contended that the administration did not expect India to increase its nuclear arsenal substantially. India maintains its goal is having a “minimum credible deterrent,” although it has not explained what this means. “Credible minimum deterrent is a self-explanatory term that requires no further elucidation,” a spokesperson for India’s Ministry of External Affairs stated April 8.

    Like the Bush administration, Indian government officials are adamantly opposing any possible changes to the Bush-Singh framework. Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran told reporters March 31 in Washington that the agreement “emerged from exceedingly complex and tough negotiations” and that a “very, very delicate state of balance” resulted. “Now if you start making revisions and changes, that balance is likely to be offset,” Saran warned.

    Still, several legislators indicated to Rice April 5 that they are uncomfortable with the administration’s approach. “We’re being asked to, in advance, approve an agreement, the details of which we won’t know at the time,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) complained.

    Some lawmakers, even deal supporters, told Rice to expect changes to the legislation. “It is my studied view that this legislation passing Congress will not be the same as was introduced and there will be conditions that will be added,” observed Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), who is currently co-chair of the congressional caucus on India and Indian Americans. Similarly, the ranking member of the House International Relations Committee, Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), said, “The administration will not get all it wants from our committee, but neither will our committee get its entire wish list.” Committee Chairman Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) had already stated in March that conditions were a possibility. (See ACT, April 2006.)

    Senators not only registered reservations about approving legislation before a final agreement was concluded but also expressed concerns about acting before knowing the outcome of negotiations between India and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the safeguards India will institute. Safeguards are measures designed to deter and detect the misuse of civilian nuclear facilities and technologies to build nuclear arms. Indian Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar made an initial visit to the IAEA in April to discuss the issue.

    Although saying he was “probably going to support this,” ranking Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Joseph Biden (D-Del.) declared, “Congress should not give up its power under existing law without knowing what the India peaceful nuclear cooperation agreement and India’s safeguards agreement with the IAEA will contain.” Echoing Biden, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) said, “I am uncomfortable voting…without seeing those safeguards.”

    Rice sought to alleviate their concerns, noting that “nothing in this legislation can take effect until the president determines that there is an acceptable agreement with the IAEA.” However, she emphasized that Congress should not wait on the safeguards. “We believe that the proper sequence is to go ahead and pass the legislation, to negotiate the bilateral agreement…and then to have the IAEA safeguards fully negotiated.”

    But some in Congress are leery of letting the president alone determine whether the safeguards are adequate. Indeed, the only criterion of the legislation that is not left up to the president’s determination is if India conducted another nuclear test. Rice noted that, in such a case, “the deal from our point of view would at that point be off.”

    There has been some speculation, including at least one news report, that Washington has assured India that it will have the nuclear fuel it needs even if the United States halted nuclear commerce with India after a nuclear test. The State Department official interviewed April 18 denied such a possibility, saying that Washington has not committed to “go around U.S. law.”

    Still, as part of the March separation plan, the United States pledged to assist India in developing “a strategic reserve of nuclear fuel to guard against any disruption of supply over the lifetime of India’s reactors.” If this reserve was sufficiently built up, it would, in effect, assure India of nuclear fuel even if it conducted a nuclear test triggering the termination of the U.S.-Indian bilateral cooperation agreement.

    The State Department official reported that the draft U.S.-Indian nuclear cooperation agreement contains a provision ending the whole arrangement in the event of an Indian nuclear test. This is standard practice for all U.S. nuclear cooperation agreements with countries not officially recognized as nuclear-weapon states, which India is not. Only countries that conducted nuclear tests before January 1, 1967 are deemed nuclear-weapon states by the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). New Delhi has not joined this treaty.

    India has objected to the nuclear test clause in the draft agreement. A Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson told reporters in New Delhi April 17 that “such a provision has no place in the proposed bilateral agreement.”

    This stance may reflect the Singh government’s sensitivity to domestic Indian public opinion in light of charges from opposition parties that India has struck a bad deal. Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) asserted April 6 that “ India has ended up giving more and more concessions.” In particular, he condemned as “not acceptable” that the agreement would “convert a voluntary moratorium on further tests by India into a legally binding commitment for all times to come.” BJP President Rajnath Singh recommended five days later that India should consider walking away from the deal.

    Although Indian complaints are that the deal is too strict, other countries are concerned it is too lenient. At a March 22-23 Vienna meeting of the voluntary Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), roughly half of the participating states raised questions about the agreement, several critically. Group members vow to abide by certain nuclear commerce guidelines, including a rule that eligible export recipients not recognized by the NPT as nuclear-weapon powers must subject all their nuclear facilities to safeguards, which India refuses to do.

    Washington is urging the group, which operates by consensus, to adopt a proposal that would exempt India from this regulation. Given the numerous questions surrounding the proposal, diplomatic sources have told Arms Control Today that it is highly unlikely that the NSG will act on the U.S. proposal at the group’s May 29-June 2 plenary in Rio de Janeiro. When it might take up the issue is uncertain, but Rice told House committee members that the administration views NSG action as “at the end of [the] trail.”

    Several U.S. lawmakers expressed concerns to Rice that the U.S. initiative might lead other NSG members to lobby for similar exceptions for their preferred customers. Of particular concern was that China might seek changes for Pakistan, which is a nuclear rival of India.

    Rice dismissed this prospect, saying that Washington has repeatedly told Pakistan that it was not eligible for a similar arrangement as India because of Islamabad’s poor proliferation record, particularly Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan’s black market activities. (See ACT, March 2004.)

    Islamabad, however, is not happy about the deal. A Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson derided the U.S. approach April 10 as “discriminatory.” The spokesperson added, “Instead of making exception for one, a package deal would have been preferable.”

    When Congress may act on the administration’s legislation for the deal remains uncertain. The two committees are holding additional hearings in May, and House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) told reporters on an April visit to India that Congress might not vote on the matter until after this November’s congressional elections. Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) also told Rice April 5 that Congress would carry out “exhaustive deliberations” before reaching any conclusions.

     

    Australia, China Conclude Nuclear Deal

    Paul Kerr

    Australia and China April 3 concluded two agreements to increase nuclear cooperation. Although the agreements must still be ratified by each country before entering into force, they appear to pave the way for Canberra to help supply Beijing’s expanding nuclear power industry.

    In doing so, Australia brushed aside domestic concerns that the agreement could indirectly augment China’s nuclear arsenal. Canberra also denied that it was planning to change policy and allow similar uranium sales to India.

    Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and Chinese Foreign Minster Li Zhaoxing signed the agreements, including relevant safeguards, governing the transfer of nuclear material from Australia to China, as well as cooperation on peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The agreements will enter into force 30 days after each side has fulfilled all relevant “domestic requirements.” They are to remain in force for an initial period of 30 years.

    Beijing mines its own uranium but is trying to secure access to additional supplies as it seeks to increase its nuclear power-generating capacity to cope with increases in energy demand. Australia is the world’s second-largest producer of uranium, according to a 2004 report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

    It is not yet clear when the transfer would begin. Australia’s resource minister, Ian MacFarlane, said that Canberra is still “some distance” from exporting uranium to China, Xinhua Financial Network News reported April 3.

    The agreements must enter into force before the uranium can be transferred, although contracts can be concluded before then. Downer stated April 3 that the agreements must still be reviewed by the Australian parliament but did not specify a date for the review. An Australian diplomat told Arms Control Today April 24 that “[t]he review process takes several months. At this stage, we do not have an estimate for when it will be completed.”

    No specific nuclear cooperation agreements have yet been concluded. But such cooperation is “likely to include” research at a new reactor belonging to the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization, according to a fact sheet from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

    Canberra has declared repeatedly that the agreements will not help China augment its nuclear weapons arsenal. Downer stated April 3 that the agreements “establish strict safeguards arrangements and conditions” to ensure that Australian uranium, as well as “any collaborative programs in applications of nuclear technology…[are] used exclusively for peaceful purposes.”

    According to the nuclear material supply agreement, China is not to use Australian nuclear material for “direct military applications,” such as fissile material for nuclear weapons or fuel for nuclear reactors used for powering naval ships or submarines.

    China acceded to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1992 as a nuclear- weapon state. Australia will supply nuclear material only to Chinese nuclear power facilities under IAEA safeguards, which allow the agency to monitor those facilities to ensure they are not used for military purposes. Beijing’s military facilities are not under such safeguards, according to Australia’s foreign affairs department. Australia and China must still agree on a list of facilities that will receive uranium.

    In the event that the IAEA stops administering its safeguards, the two countries can “arrange for the application of safeguards satisfactory to both parties.”

    The nuclear material supply agreement also places other restrictions on China. For example, Beijing is required to obtain Canberra’s permission before reprocessing spent reactor fuel, producing uranium with a uranium-235 isotope concentration of 20 percent or more, or transferring nuclear material to countries that do not have a nuclear transfer agreement with Australia.

    China currently enriches uranium for its nuclear reactors as well as for some of its nuclear weapons. Uranium used in weapons typically contains about 90 percent uranium-235.

    Reprocessing spent reactor fuel can produce plutonium for use as fissile material or as fuel in certain specialized nuclear reactors. China does not currently use plutonium for reactor fuel, but it does use plutonium in its nuclear arsenal.

    According to Australia’s foreign affairs department, Canberra can suspend or terminate the nuclear material transfer agreement if Beijing does not abide by either the agreement’s terms or by China’s IAEA safeguards arrangements.

    Moreover, Australian officials denied that the deal would free up indigenous Chinese uranium and thereby help Beijing increase its arsenal. The officials noted that China is widely believed to have ceased production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. However, unlike the other four nuclear-weapon states under the NPT— France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States— China has yet publicly to announce a moratorium on fissile material production.

    Asked whether Australia plans to supply uranium to India, Downer said in an April 4 interview with Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio that the two countries could “certainly not” conclude such an agreement “under present circumstances.” Australian law prohibits Canberra from exporting uranium to countries that have not signed the NPT.

    Washington has recently concluded an agreement with New Delhi that would allow India to obtain U.S.-supplied fuel for its nuclear reactors. Congress must still approve the Bush administration’s proposed changes to U.S. law, which currently prohibits such transfers (See "Congress Ponders Conditions for U.S.-Indian Deal").

     

    House Approves Iran Sanctions Bill

    Miles A. Pomper

    The House April 26 overwhelmingly approved legislation tightening sanctions aimed at curbing progress in Iran’s nuclear program. The 397-21 vote came despite Bush administration concerns that the measure might harm relations with some U.S. allies.

    The Senate has yet to act on the legislation, but a similar Senate bill by Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) has 58 co-sponsors, enough to ensure majority support in the 100-seat chamber.

    The legislation updates and extends the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996, which was revised in 2001 and is set to expire later this year. (See ACT, September 2001.) The existing law requires the United States to impose sanctions on foreign companies that invest more than $20 million per year in Iranian oil or gas development. French, Italian, Malaysian, and Russian entities have well surpassed these limits, and the Chinese company Sinopec is planning a major investment in Iranian natural gas. But neither the Clinton or Bush administrations have ever allowed any sanctions to take effect because of diplomatic opposition to such “secondary sanctions.”

    The House-passed bill would drop the Libya provisions because of Tripoli’s 2003 pledge to comprehensively dismantle its nuclear and chemical weapons programs. (See ACT, January/February 2004.) It would permit the president to impose sanctions on any person that exports, transfers, or provides to Iran “any goods, services, technology, or other items” that knowingly aid the ability of Iran to develop weapons of mass destruction or “destabilizing numbers and types of advanced conventional weapons.”

    It also urges the Bush administration “to work to secure support at the United Nations Security Council for a resolution” to impose sanctions on Iran “as a result of its repeated breaches of its nuclear nonproliferation obligations.” The bill is to remain in effect until Iran has verifiably dismantled its suspected “weapons of mass destruction programs.”

    The House-passed bill includes measures that tighten the application of existing sanctions. In particular, congressional aides said that it seeks to force the executive branch to investigate credible reports of sanctionable activities. The law requires that the president issue a sanctions determination within one year of receiving such a report and clear an existing two-year backlog of such investigations. It seeks to broaden the net of firms covered by these activities to institutions such as insurers, underwriters, or guarantors who knowingly help finance any investments as well as to foreign subsidiaries of U.S. firms. It also encourages U.S. pension funds and mutual funds to divest from foreign companies investing in Iran’s petroleum sector.

    However, the Bush administration has not fully embraced the measure. In March testimony, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns raised concerns that some provisions in the bill might strain relations with close U.S. allies whose help the United States will need to change Iran’s behavior.

    France , Russia, and China wield vetoes as permanent members of the UN Security Council at a time that body is considering further moves in response to Iran’s failure to meet the goals of a previous Security Council presidential statement, which could include sanctions (See "Security Council Mulls Response to Iran").

     

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