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The Arms Control Association is an "exceptional organization that effectively addresses pressing national and international challenges with an impact that is disproportionate to its small size." 

– John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation,
January 19, 2011
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.

     

    Pentagon Details Hussein's Pre-Invasion Efforts

    Matt Dupuis

    A Pentagon report released March 24 offers new insights into Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s pre-war actions related to his country’s then-suspected nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs and the response of the United States and its allies.

    The Iraqi Perspective Project, based on captured Iraqi government documents and interviews with former Iraqi officials, reiterates some findings of previous U.S. government reports (see ACT, November 2004), but provides a more detailed analysis of Hussein’s leadership style, strategic calculations, and pre-war diplomatic maneuverings prior to the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

    It shows that Hussein made late efforts to cooperate with UN weapons inspectors when they returned to Iraq in late 2002 after a four-year absence but that these attempts were wrongly dismissed by Western intelligence agencies because of Iraq’s past record of obfuscation. The report, like other post-war U.S. reports, concludes that Hussein was intent on restarting suspected weapons programs once sanctions were eventually lifted.

    The report states that, in the decade after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Hussein had often pursued a strategy of “purposeful ambiguity” regarding his real and purported arsenals, a deceptive tactic aimed at deterring external threats from Israel and Iran as well as internal threats such as coups.

    But after the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, Hussein began to shift course, fearing that the United States would turn against his regime. He sought to avoid provocative actions. As pressure mounted on Baghdad in late 2002, he ordered Iraqi officers to cooperate fully with UN weapons inspectors, “thus denying President George W. Bush and the Americans any excuse for starting a new conflict.” The strategy was also aimed at “solidifying the promise of more substantial French and Russian efforts on Iraq’s behalf,” to forestall UN support for military action, according to the report.

    At times, however, the strategy of cooperation appeared not only to fail but to backfire because of preconceptions created by Hussein’s record. The report, for example, cites an episode related to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Feb. 5, 2003, speech to the UN General Assembly. (See ACT, March 2003.) Arguing that Iraq was concealing illicit weapons, Powell cited an intercepted conversation between two Iraqi Republican Guard Corps commanders, in which one commanded the other to “remove” the listing of “nerve agents…wherever it comes up,” as proof of Iraqi obstruction of the inspections process. But the report says that Powell and U.S. intelligence agencies had reached an erroneous conclusion in assuming that “military actions to remove lingering traces of weapons fielded in the past” were “attempts to conceal current [weapons of mass destruction (WMD)] assets or operations.”

    More broadly, the report concluded that “when it came to WMD, Hussein was simultaneously attempting to deceive one audience that they were gone and another that they still had them,” putting himself into a “diplomatic and propaganda Catch 22.”

    Captured documents reveal that Hussein kept many of his closest advisers in the dark about the state of Iraq’s weaponry for fear of possible coup attempts and an attack from Israel. If it was revealed that Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction, “it would not only show Israel that Iraq did not have [weapons of mass destruction] but might actually encourage” Israel to attack, Hussein and other Iraqi officials believed. Hussein used chemical weapons in his successful efforts to crush rebellions by the Kurds in the 1980s and Shiites in the 1990s, as well as in the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. (See ACT, January/February 2006.)

    The report notes that, based on Iraq’s previous stockpiles, the plausibility of secret and compartmentalized prohibited weapons programs, and Western governments’ public assessments, “a number of senior Iraqi officials continued to believe it possible…that Iraq still possessed a WMD capability hidden away somewhere.” But the report notes that the same officials denied having any “direct knowledge” of these weapons.

     

    Nunn-Lugar at 15: No Time to Relax Global Threat Reduction Efforts

    Paul F. Walker

    The Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program, which will celebrate its fifteenth birthday later this year, is one of the clear successes of post-Cold War diplomacy. CTR was established in 1991 to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons after the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Since then, the program, also known as Nunn-Lugar, after two of its founders, Senators Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), has deactivated more than 6,800 nuclear warheads and overseen the end of nuclear weapons programs in Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine.

    Yet, throughout the last decade and a half, the program has wrestled with recalcitrance on the part of some Russian bureaucrats and military officials and with opposition from some U.S. policymakers who have perceived it as a diversion of precious Pentagon resources.

    The pressure to slow down or terminate the program has intensified recently in Washington, illustrated by less than optimal CTR budget requests from the Bush administration and reluctance by Congress to expand particular programs. Bilateral tensions also have spiked, leading to differences over funding priorities and potentially risking these efforts.

    Now is not the time to abandon this valuable program. Thousands of nuclear warheads await deactivation, thousands of tons of chemical weapons remain to be destroyed, and dozens of nuclear submarines among other Cold War weapons systems await dismantlement. Although some significant changes need to be made, too much valuable work remains to be done to let relatively minor difficulties stand in the way of fulfilling this historic opportunity to improve both national and global security.

    Post-Cold War Concerns

    As the Cold War wound down in the late 1980s and early 1990s, a major concern, particularly in light of the growing lack of structure in East European and former Soviet capitals and militaries, was the threat of proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and related launch systems. The Soviet Union and United States had negotiated and signed several important bilateral arms control agreements throughout the 1970s and 1980s. These agreements had already led to important weapons reductions, including destruction of some 1,800 short- and intermediate-range missiles by the end of 1990.

    However, the nuclear arsenal of the former Soviet Union still bristled with nuclear warheads and launch systems in 1990: an estimated 1,398 ICBMs, 61 strategic nuclear submarines with 930 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and 175 long-range strategic bombers. In addition, the Soviet Union was thought to have at least 40,000 tons of chemical weapons and an unknown number of biological weapons and pathogens.

    The breakup of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact thus led to much concern about “loose nukes” and the overall security of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the former Soviet republics. As a result, Congress established the CTR program in November 1991 in the fiscal year 1992 defense authorization act. Both Nunn and Lugar, along with Rep. Les Aspin (D-Wis.)—who would later serve as secretary of defense—and others actively supported this new initiative. After the failed coup in Moscow in August 1991 and the complete disintegration of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, this initiative became all the more urgent. The final legislation, the Soviet Nuclear Threat Reduction Act of 1991, authorized $400 million in Department of Defense funds to help the Soviet Union and its “successor entities” with three broad tasks:

    1. to “destroy nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, and other weapons”;

    2. to “transport, store, disable, and safeguard weapons in connection with their destruction”; and

    3. to “establish verifiable safeguards against the proliferation of such weapons.”

    Lugar, in the minority on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the time, warned in late November 1991 that the Soviet breakup risked harming “international stability” and could mean much less security for nuclear arsenals. Senate colleagues warned of the “seizure, theft, sale or use of nuclear weapons or components…particularly if a widespread disintegration in the custodial system should occur.” They also warned of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction beyond the former borders of the Soviet Union. Nunn, then chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, summed up these major concerns as follows: “We are on the verge of either having the greatest destruction of nuclear weapons in the history of the world or the greatest proliferation of nuclear weapons, nuclear materials, and scientific know-how on how to make these weapons, as well as chemical weapons, ballistic missiles, even biological weapons the world has ever seen.”

    Other Senate proponents such as Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), a senior member of the Foreign Relations panel, argued that the Nunn-Lugar amendment would be “assisting ourselves,” not just the Soviet Union, in preventing terrorist use of weapons of mass destruction. Yet, critics such as Sen. Malcolm Wallop (R-Wyo.) and other conservative Cold War politicians emphasized that this was simply foreign aid to an enemy state and would allow the Soviet Union to reinvest its own resources in more military hardware.

    By 1993, two years after congressional passage, the CTR program acquired its current name and enlisted the help of the Departments of State and Energy for weapons security, transportation, demilitarization, and weapons scientist redirection efforts. Four years later, both of the departments would begin to request funds for their own complementary programs in nuclear nonproliferation and security.

    Over the past decade, Energy Department programs have broadly focused on security and management of fissile materials, while State Department efforts have sought to engage former Soviet weapons scientists in civilian projects in order to preclude brain drain. Today’s Energy Department programs are managed under the National Nuclear Security Administration and include a variety of nuclear materials protection and cooperation assistance efforts, proliferation prevention initiatives, and the elimination of weapons-grade plutonium. Energy Department funding mechanisms are complex, but the total request for fiscal year 2007 is about $834 million. State Department programs have also supported export control and border security projects, have helped establish international science and technology centers in Moscow and Kiev for the retraining of weapons scientists, and have participated in legal negotiations on nonproliferation. Annual State Department funding, including the Nonproliferation and Disarmament Fund, is about $150 million.

    This analysis focuses, however, on the Defense Department’s ongoing CTR program. Congress authorized $400 million annually out of the defense budget for the CTR program for its first four fiscal years, 1992-1995. Over the next decade, annual requests ranged from a low of $328 million in 1997 to a high of $476 million in 2000. Although the debates noted above have continued over the years regarding whether CTR funds are truly necessary for nonproliferation or rather a stealthy foreign aid program for the former Soviet Union, both parties in Congress have generally been receptive to executive branch requests. Over 15 years of funding requests, from 1992 to 2006, Congress has reduced funding only twice and increased funding only once. Approximately $6.1 billion has been requested and authorized over the period, averaging $407 million per year. Combined with Energy and State Department requests for global nonproliferation efforts but without amounts for U.S. fissile material reprocessing in the Energy Department budget, annual funding is about $1 billion, the amount to which the United States committed at the 2002 Group of Eight (G-8) summit in Kananaskis, which established the Global Partnership (see page 38). The current request for fiscal year 2007 for the CTR program is $372 million. In addition, the administration has requested $45 million in a fiscal year 2006 supplemental bill for enhanced warhead security.

    The primary goal for the CTR program, as noted in the initial programmatic goals above, has been the security and elimination of former Soviet nuclear weapons. At the time of the CTR program’s establishment in late 1991, the Soviet Union’s strategic nuclear arsenal was estimated at well over 10,000 strategic nuclear warheads and bombs (some estimates, which include tactical weapons, range up to three times this amount) and deployed in Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine, in addition to Russia. Early projects included purchases of armored blankets, storage containers, railcar improvements, and emergency response vehicles for nuclear warhead security. CTR support remains ongoing today in weapons transportation and storage security. It has also focused on fissile materials storage as thousands of nuclear warheads are dismantled and bomb-grade fissile materials must be safely stored for the longer run. A major effort since the mid-1990s has been the construction of a $400 million storage facility at Mayak, outside of Chelyabinsk, designed to hold more than 25,000 fissile material containers from approximately the same number of nuclear warheads.

    In addition to security, transportation, and storage of nuclear warheads and bomb-grade fissile materials, the dismantlement and destruction of nuclear weapons systems have been major CTR tasks and have helped to implement the 1991 START I and the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (Moscow Treaty). The CTR program can claim a long list of accomplishments in reducing former Soviet weaponry. Perhaps most important, all nuclear warheads have been returned to Russia from the former Soviet republics of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine. All strategic weapons infrastructure, including missiles and silos, has also been eliminated in Belarus and Kazakhstan, and elimination is underway in Ukraine.

    The safe storage and destruction of Russian chemical weapons has also been a top priority of the CTR program. Russia signed the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1993, along with the United States and many other countries, and ratified it in November 1997, six months after the U.S. Senate had approved the treaty. Russia declared seven chemical weapons stockpiles containing a total of 40,000 metric tons of nerve and blister agents. The United States, after a July 1994 inspection of the chemical weapons destruction site at Shchuch’ye, decided to help Russia build a large demilitarization facility at the 5,400-ton nerve agent stockpile. This stockpile was chosen primarily because of its proximity to the southern Russian border and the portability of its two million artillery shells. To date, the CTR program has committed more than $1.1 billion for this effort, including provision of mobile testing laboratories, construction of a Central Analytical Lab (CAL) in Moscow, and the dismantlement of two former chemical-agent production facilities.

    Although a trip report from the 1994 on-site inspection included a recommendation to secure and destroy this site as soon as possible, construction did not officially begin at the site until March 2003, and demilitarization operations are predicted to commence as late as 2010, according to March 29 testimony by Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy Peter Flory. Because of the long delays in this project, Congress allocated $20 million in fiscal year 1999 for security upgrades at the two nerve-agent artillery shell stockpiles—Shchuch’ye and Kizner—which were completed three to four years later.

    The CTR program has also sought, based on its original congressionally mandated tasks, to engage Russia in demilitarizing its enormous biological weapons establishment, estimated at 60,000 employees at more than 50 dispersed sites. Over the past decade, efforts have been made to improve security of biological weapons sites and specifically of biological pathogen collections, to redirect former weapons scientists through the Moscow International Science and Technology Center, and to help Russia develop more modern surveillance and monitoring systems. Progress in this area, however, has been very slow, as pointed out in a 2003 General Accounting Office report, because of lack of Russian transparency and site access, especially to military-related sites. This has caused the CTR program to focus more recently on former Soviet republics, such as Georgia, that have been more cooperative with Western partners.

    The CTR program, after almost 15 years of work and some $6 billion in appropriations, has accomplished a great deal. The deactivation of over 6,800 nuclear warheads and almost 1,000 strategic missile launchers and silos alone is an enormous accomplishment for global security and homeland defense. As former Defense Secretary William Perry has noted, it is “defense by other means,” particularly important in today’s terrorist- and proliferation-threatened world.

    Perhaps equally important, it has brought the major Cold War enemy, Russia, back into cooperative and allied relations with the West along lines—deep cuts in weapons of mass destruction—that many observers only dreamed about more than a decade ago.

    Problems Requiring Resolution

    However, there have been many tough challenges to threat reduction programs over the past 15 years that need to be resolved before the CTR program will have much hope of making better progress in the next decade.

    Eliminating Bureaucratic Obstacles and Enhancing Transparency

    Perhaps first and foremost is the need for cooperative, supportive, and transparent behavior on the part of all partners in nonproliferation and threat reduction efforts. This challenge covers a wide swath of territory and issues, but the many roadblocks that have been built over the years to inhibit cost-efficient project implementation require elimination.

    Both access to Russian sites and Russian visa regulations for foreigners no doubt top most complaints of CTR officials. As noted, Russia has been very grudging in providing access to biological weapons facilities and needs to do more so that better security can be provided for dangerous pathogens. Likewise, U.S. officials rightly complain about Russia limiting or denying access to nuclear weapons facilities where they have installed equipment, thus preventing accountability.

    In addition, paperwork for site access continues to be overly complicated. Although not surprising, especially when compared to current regulations in the United States for access to similar U.S. sites, one would hope that a more streamlined and trusting approach could have been developed over a decade of bilateral work. Likewise, Russian and U.S. visa regulations require expensive, complicated, and time-consuming processes that continue to inhibit constructive exchanges and cost-efficiencies in projects. Major CTR projects in Russia have spent millions of CTR dollars simply processing Russian short-term visas and covering travel for employees out of country during application processes. Visa approvals and denials can also be capricious and harmful at times, as was the case when a CTR project manager was detained at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow and deported two years ago. This drains both financial resources and productive worker time and undermines mutual trust.

    The most egregious example of a lack of transparency was the failure of a $100 million liquid rocket fuel disposition facility in Krasnoyarsk. After the CTR program built the facility, Russia announced that it had already used its strategic liquid-fueled missiles in space launches. Unfortunately, the lack of communication and transparency among the United States and Russian federal governments and agencies, and the primary U.S. contractor caused the facility to be finished long after the need for it had disappeared. There continues to be miscommunication among all parties in many projects, perhaps partly caused by language barriers and the failure of the CTR program to promote Russian language studies in its personnel, but this is also no doubt caused by lingering Cold War suspicions both by Russian and CTR managers.

    Ending CTR Political Conditions

    Another major and ongoing challenge to successful CTR projects is the need to overcome political conditions that stall and inhibit demilitarization efforts. The congressional debates over whether threat reduction projects are advantageous to national security have resulted in two sets of six congressional conditions being placed on CTR funds. Six broad conditions, such as whether Russia is adhering to all arms control and human rights agreements, require annual certification by the administration for all CTR projects. A second set of six conditions have been emplaced on the chemical weapons destruction work and require, for example, annual certification that Russia has fully and accurately declared its chemical weapons stockpile. Congress has fortunately provided annual waiver authority for the president, that is, the ability of the president either to certify or waive these 12 conditions in the interest of national security. Lugar was successful in 2005 in amending the fiscal year 2006 defense authorization act to eliminate these conditions all together. Unfortunately, his amendment did not survive the House-Senate conference on the bill. These conditions, now outdated and nonproductive, need to be removed for good. Lugar is expected to reintroduce his amendment again this year, a very positive step in facilitating more efficient and timely CTR efforts.

    More Community Involvement

    A third major obstacle for the CTR program has been the lack of project funds to support local community involvement and transparency at major CTR project sites in Russia. Most informed observers have recognized for a decade or more that centralized, authoritarian implementation by the Russian federal government of dangerous and contentious projects in Russia is no longer feasible because of local opposition and Russia’s democratic evolution. This first became obvious in 1989 when dozens of local factories and thousands of workers went on strike to protest the proposed opening of a secretly constructed chemical weapons destruction facility in Chapayevsk. This facility today remains open only for limited military training.

    The first CTR program director, Major General Roland Lajoie, and his successor, Brigadier General Thomas Kuenning, both recognized that proactive community outreach was critical to project implementation and risk reduction. They both supported establishment of public outreach offices, managed by the environmental nongovernmental organization (NGO) Green Cross Russia and overseen by Global Green USA and Green Cross Switzerland, as a neutral, independent facilitator at the controversial Shchuch’ye site. The active involvement of the local community, including public hearings, independent health and risk assessments, and establishment of a Citizens’ Advisory Commission, have been central to making progress in this important project. Unfortunately, this model of project implementation has not been replicated at other CTR project sites, and community opposition continues to be a major challenge for most work in Russia.

    The case of Votkinsk well illustrates this problem. The CTR program had agreed to help Russia destroy its solid rocket propellent and strategic missile stages at the Votkinsky Zavod, one of the largest missile factories in Russia. The project goal was to construct a closed-burn facility where some 800 or more large missile stages could be safely ignited and toxic gases carefully scrubbed. Russia had moved the project to Votkinsk after it had earlier been rejected by local authorities in Perm. After investing more than $100 million, about a quarter of the estimated project costs for the CTR program, the project was shut down because neither the CTR program nor the Russian government would meet local requests from the Udmurt regional government for some local investments. For want of 1-2 percent of project costs, a major strategic and environmentally sound disarmament initiative was lost.

    Over the past few years, several members of the G-8 Global Partnership—Canada, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and others—have recognized the importance of community involvement and have begun supporting local outreach offices. At the urging of NGOs and the new U.S. ambassador to Russia, William Burns, the U.S. Agency for International Development has also begun engaging local communities on a very limited basis. Additionally, the Russian federal government has begun over the past three years to invest limited resources in local communities. These efforts must be expanded and supported more actively by all threat reduction programs, including the projects of the Defense, Energy, and State Departments.

    Consistent Funding

    Lastly, adequate and predictable funding remains a major challenge for successful CTR implementation. Opponents of CTR funding regularly complain about the lack of burden-sharing among allies, including Russia. The establishment of the G-8 Global Partnership in 2002 at Kananaskis, Canada, where $10 billion was pledged over 10 years—essentially a match to the U.S. pledge of $10 billion—was a major step in the right direction. Russia, in participating in this pledge, also stepped up its funding profile. This was about 10 years late, but the delay is understandable given the difficult economic transition it weathered throughout the 1990s. Although some observers believe that the Global Partnership should have accomplished more over the past four years, it continues to expand its work as more countries commit funds to Russian nonproliferation projects.

    Yet, the fiscal year 2007 CTR request of $372 million remains more than $40 million below the fiscal year 2006 appropriation and $80 million less if one includes the fiscal year 2006 supplemental request. Compared in real terms to the early years of the Nunn-Lugar appropriations, the CTR program receives less than half the funds it used to receive. It is apparent from this request, especially when several recent bipartisan studies have proposed spending at least double this amount, that a certain weariness is setting into CTR programs. Perhaps the Defense Department judges other more directly battlefield-related projects of higher priority. However, much still remains to be done in threat reduction; we would be terribly remiss, indeed irresponsible, not to take advantage of this unique opportunity to eliminate long-standing threats and proliferable weapons of mass destruction before they fall into the wrong hands.

    The fiscal year 2006 defense authorization act requests a report from the Defense Department on impediments to successful implementation of nonproliferation and threat reduction programs. This report must fully cover these major challenges and offer short-term solutions to move these important projects forward.

    According to recent CTR figures, the U.S. goal is to eliminate at least another 6,500 nuclear warheads, 850 ICBMs, 350 ICBM silos, 80 strategic bombers, almost 400 SLBMs, 300 SLBM launchers, 19 strategic ballistic missile submarines, and 5,400 tons of nerve agent; and this is the short list. More than 100 nuclear-powered attack submarines await dismantlement; another 34,000 tons of chemical agents are still to be destroyed; and tons of fissile material remain to be secured and safely stored, far beyond these initial threat reduction goals.

    The CTR budget should be increased by at least $100 million to $472 million for fiscal year 2007, and high priority should be placed on accelerating warhead dismantlement, fissile material security and storage, and chemical weapons destruction at the nerve agent sites of Shchuch’ye and Kizner. International and multilateral projects are never simple or cheap, but every day lost to unnecessary bureaucratic obstacles, underfunded budgets, and lingering Cold War suspicions only increases risks to global and homeland security. This is not a time to lose commitment or energy for implementing the 1991 Nunn-Lugar threat reduction goals. This is not a time to reduce or sunset any nonproliferation programs.

    This year also heralds renewal of the 1992 bilateral CTR Umbrella Agreement, which was amended and extended in 1999. Should this agreement lapse in June 2006, all CTR projects would run the risk of being halted. Fortunately, Flory testified before the Senate in March 2006 that Russia “has accepted U.S. terms for extension of this framework and we believe that we will be able to conclude negotiations well before the June 2006 deadline.”

    Threat reduction projects, both bilateral and multilateral, remain extremely important. President George W. Bush has placed top priority on such initiatives in his recent National Security Presidential Directives regarding nuclear, chemical, and biological threats and promised “comprehensive strategies” to combat WMD proliferation. Political differences among the United States, Russia, and other countries, however challenging they may be, must not be allowed to stand in the way of securing and eliminating these potential tools of terrorists. The forthcoming G-8 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, in July offers a timely opportunity for Bush, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and other national leaders to reaffirm their commitments to cooperative nonproliferation and threat reduction goals and, equally important, to the elimination of ongoing obstacles to safe, efficient, and mutual disarmament objectives. Global security demands no less.

     


    Paul F. Walker is Legacy program director with Global Green USA, the U.S. affiliate of Mikhail Gorbachev’s Green Cross International.


     

    Details of CTR Budget Emerge

    William Huntington

    Funding for Department of Defense chemical weapons destruction in Russia will be cut sharply if Congress approves President George W. Bush’s fiscal year 2007 budget request, according to Pentagon documents released late March.

    The Pentagon request for the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program includes a proposed 61 percent cut in such assistance. In 2005, Congress approved $108.5 million in funds for the chemical weapons program for the current fiscal year, which runs through Sept. 30. But the administration only requested $42.7 million—a $66 million cut—for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

    The Defense Threat Reduction Agency, which administers the CTR program, claims no more funds are needed beyond those requested for 2007, as those funds, in combination with funds already appropriated for 2005 and 2006, will allow for the completion of the chemical weapons destruction facility at Schuch’ye in Russia. But some nongovernmental advocates note that Russia is lagging far behind on its overall destruction commitments under the Chemical Weapons Convention (see ACT, April 2006) and would benefit from additional assistance.

    All told, the administration is seeking a cut of more than 10 percent to the CTR program, which seeks to secure, dismantle, and destroy weapons of mass destruction (WMD), their delivery systems, and their production facilities in the former Soviet Union. The president requested $372.2 million for the CTR program for fiscal year 2007, down $43.3 million from the fiscal year 2006 appropriation of $415.5 million.

    The administration has sought to step up current spending on the program before the fiscal year ends. The president included an additional $44.5 million for CTR warhead security programs within his 2006 supplemental appropriation request for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is now being considered by Congress.

    The WMD Proliferation Prevention program also faces a cut. The administration requested $37.5 million for the program, down from its 2006 appropriation of $40.6 million. Within the program, a significant increase of nearly three times is slated for the Caspian Sea Maritime Proliferation Prevention program in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, while the Land Border and Maritime Proliferation Prevention program in Ukraine is marked for a 48.5 percent cut. These programs seek to improve border controls and block WMD smuggling in certain former Soviet states.

    The administration requested $77 million for the Strategic Offensive Arms Elimination program in Russia, down $1.9 million from the 2006 appropriation of $78.9 million. This program allows for the destruction of Russian strategic nuclear delivery systems, including ICBMs and submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and for the defueling and partial dismantlement of Delta- and Typhoon-class nuclear submarines.

    The president has also requested increases for some CTR programs.

    The Biological Weapons Proliferation Prevention program is slated to receive $68.4 million, an increase of $7.6 million, or 12 percent, from the 2006 appropriation of $60.8 million. The program assists states of the former Soviet Union with the development of modern disease detection and response, provides for secure storage of pathogen libraries, and supports cooperative research ventures.

    Funding for the Nuclear Weapons Storage Security program was requested at a level of $87.1 million, up $3 million, or 3.5 percent, from the 2006 appropriation of $84.1 million. However, the programmatic increase is in fact larger than the top-line number suggests, as the 2006 appropriation included a one-time sum of $10 million for the construction of a training site for Russian WMD security officers.

    The administration also requested a small increase for the Nuclear Weapons Transportation Security program, up $3 million, or 10 percent, to $33 million. The program works to improve security for nuclear warheads during transport, including the provision of special railcars.

     

     

     

    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.

     

     

     

    News Analysis: The Global Partnership—A Mixed Record

    Joanna Wintrol

    Nearly four years ago, several leading countries agreed to better coordinate and expand their efforts to secure and destroy stockpiles of unconventional weapons and materials housed in Russia and other former Soviet states. Almost halfway through the initiative’s planned 10-year lifespan, funding and projects are up from past levels, but total pledges and contributions have fallen well short of projected goals. Meanwhile, Russia and the donors continue to spar over funding goals, and several programs have been slowed by bureaucratic hurdles.

    At a June 2002 Group of Eight (G-8) summit in Kananaskis, Canada, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States established the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction. The initiative, also known as “10 Plus 10 Over 10,” calls on members of the group, as well as other interested donors, to match a U.S. pledge of $10 billion over 10 years to help lockdown and eliminate residual Soviet materials and weapons considered vulnerable to unauthorized use or theft.

    Today, 18 countries and the European Union have joined the United States in funding such work in Russia, Ukraine, and beyond. Yet, funding pledges are $3 billion shy of the $20 billion promised, according to the last official estimate from donor countries in June 2005. Among others, Canada, Germany, and the United States have been generous in their pledges, while those from some members, such as Japan, have been more modest.

    Moreover, actual contributions appear to fall significantly short of even these pledges. No comprehensive accounting is available, but reports from individual countries such as Germany and Japan indicate that they have not yet delivered on their pledge. In 2002, Germany pledged $1.5 billion to the Global Partnership and as of 2005 had spent the equivalent of $206.5 million at current exchange rates. Japan initially pledged $200 million and has since contributed the current exchange rate equivalent of $6.9 million. In addition, in a 2005 informal poll of government officials and nongovernmental experts conducted by the Moscow-based, independent PIR center, roughly 80 percent of the responders believed that there is a significant gap between the pledges being made and the money that is being received in Russia. When asked whether the $20 billion pledge has been successfully realized as a “floor” and not a “ceiling,” 75 percent said “no.”

    Funding Clashes

    Russia, the largest recipient of such assistance, has also clashed with European and U.S. donors over where the funds should be directed. Russia has placed priority on destroying decaying nuclear submarines and chemical weapons, as it is worried about their environmental consequences and is striving to meet its pledge under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) to destroy its entire arsenal of such arms. Many Western donors, by contrast, would like to see funds directed toward programs to secure Russian biological and nuclear weapons facilities and relevant weapons and to retrain experts in these fields.

    Moreover, Russia has balked as donors have sought to shift funds to other former Soviet republics or outside the region entirely. (See ACT, June 2004.)

    In those areas in which Russia has backed the funding, some progress has been made.

    The pace of nuclear submarine dismantlement has accelerated since the Global Partnership began. A fleet of nuclear submarines located in northwest Russia is expected to be dismantled by 2010. Already 32 of the 100 or so submarines in the region have been destroyed, 20 since 2002 alone. Canada, Germany, Japan, Norway, and the United Kingdom are the principal donors for work in the submarine field.

    The Global Partnership has been successful in increasing efforts to redirect weapons scientists to peaceful employment through such centers as the International Science and Technology Center in Moscow, which coordinates the multilateral funding of projects for scientists in Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia. By 2004, more than 200 private and governmental organizations were participating in the funding of more than 100 research projects.

    The partnership has also helped Russia make limited progress in dismantling its vast chemical weapons stockpile, which is the largest in the world. Under the CWC, Russia must complete the destruction of its stockpile by 2012, although this deadline is unlikely to be met (See "U.S. Unable to Meet CWC 2012 Deadline"). Originally, the deadline was set at 2007, but as delays on all sides have mounted, an extension of five years was granted. As of February 2006, Russia had eliminated less than 3 percent of its total stockpile.

    But even these efforts have seen setbacks.

    The ongoing construction of a chemical weapons destruction facility at Shchuch’ye was slated to be one of the United States’ largest ventures in the Global Partnership. Since 2002 the United States has subsequently earmarked $540 million to destroy the 5,450 metric tons of nerve agents stored at that facility and in neighboring regions. It was scheduled to be completed and operational in time to comply with the original April 2007 deadline.

    But inconsistent U.S. funding, a shortage of qualified labor, subcontractor bankruptcies, and Russian government delays have delayed construction. Shchuch’ye is now scheduled to begin operations in late 2008 at the earliest. To try to meet a revised 2007 deadline for eliminating 20 percent of its chemical weapons arsenal, Russia has been forced to focus its efforts on stockpiles at other sites.

    Coordination and Legal Challenges

    Beyond chemical weapons and submarine destruction, broader problems remain. A challenge for all sides has been coordination. A multitude of disagreements exist over where, when, and how the money is being spent. Laura Holgate, who previously helped manage U.S. assistance efforts at the Departments of Energy and Defense in the Clinton administration, told Arms Control Today March 30 that “identifying collective priorities and making sure that projects are being handled with the best coordination possible is just not happening.”

    Donors have not put in place a comprehensive mechanism to oversee the allocation of funds to projects in the recipient countries, creating accountability issues between donors and recipients. Members disagree over how to measure the sums of the pledges reaching the recipient and whether the funds are being used effectively on the ground.

    Still, the most significant obstacle is the failure to match stated pledges with actual funds. Both donors and recipients appear to share responsibility for these problems.

    Citing national security concerns Russia has refused to provide access to nuclear weapons facilities and projects where foreign equipment has been installed and nuclear warheads are stored. But this has made it difficult for Western governments to convince their legislatures that the programs are delivering good value for their money. As Stephen Rademaker, acting assistant secretary of state for security and nonproliferation issues, explained at an April 12 press conference in Moscow, “[O]ne of the practical challenges in implementing these programs is to strike the balance between our need for accountability and Russia’s need to be satisfied that its national security is being protected.”

    A graphic example of this type of problem is the U.S.-built fissile material storage facility near Mayak, Russia. The facility is capable of holding thousands of bombs’ worth of fissile material under tight security while they await destruction. However, because of oversight disagreements between the United States and Russia, the Mayak facility has remained empty since it was handed over to the Russians in 2003.

    Moreover, Russia has set up complicated legislative procedures and conditions for completing bilateral agreements, including passage through the Duma. This has slowed the process of sorting through liability and tax exemption legislation, preventing several projects from getting started.

    In June, the Cooperative Threat Reduction Umbrella Agreement, which covers U.S. liability for the program, will expire. Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy Peter Flory told the Senate in March that Russia “has accepted U.S. terms for extension of this framework and we believe that we will be able to conclude negotiations well before the June 2006 deadline.” However, the extension to the agreement will still have to be put through the lengthy process of review and approval in several U.S. and Russian government agencies, plus passage through the Duma.

    Still, Global Partnership officials have emphasized the need for long-term outlooks in planning and project proposal to ease coordination efforts and avoid overlap in the future.

    Holgate suggests that more must be done now to address the urgency of the threats that exist under present conditions. Holgate maintains that “the donors don’t yet themselves internalize the degree to which insecure [weapons of mass destruction] globally are a threat to them and their own interests…and if the powers that be in the donor countries did see the threat to them and their security, they would be doing a lot more a lot faster.”

    But Annalisa Giannella, the European Union’s senior nonproliferation official, puts the blame on Russia. “The difficulties that we encounter in implementing our projects in Russia do not encourage us to envisage more projects,” she said. “In addition, there isn’t full agreement with the Russians on the scope of the cooperation under the Global Partnership.”

     

    Libya Chemical Weapons Destruction Costly

    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)

    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.”

     

    Security Council Mulls Response to Iran

    Paul Kerr

    The UN Security Council is mulling possible responses to Iran’s failure to comply with a March 29 presidential statement that called on Tehran to resolve concerns about its nuclear programs and to re-suspend its uranium-enrichment activities.

    The statement, which did not specify any consequences and is not legally binding, instructed International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei to report on Iran’s compliance to the agency’s Board of Governors and the Security Council within 30 days.

    There was no indication prior to ElBaradei’s report, which was issued April 28, that Iran had complied with the council’s demands. Indeed, Iran in April accelerated work on its nuclear programs and said its gas centrifuge-based uranium-enrichment program would continue. Nevertheless, Iranian officials have repeatedly said that Tehran wishes to address concerns about its nuclear efforts.

    Officials from Germany and the five permanent, veto-wielding Security Council members—China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—are scheduled to meet May 2 in Paris to discuss the matter.

    Enrichment Breakthrough

    Rather than suspending its enrichment program, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stated April 11 that Tehran’s effort had achieved a technical breakthrough. He said that Iran had “completed the nuclear fuel cycle at the laboratory level.” Vice President Gholamreza Aghazadeh, who also heads Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said that Iran enriched uranium to approximately 3.5 percent uranium-235 in a cascade of 164 centrifuges. He said that Iran only plans to produce uranium containing between 3.5 percent and 5 percent uranium-235.

    Gas centrifuges enrich uranium hexafluoride gas by spinning it at very high speeds to increase the concentration of the uranium-235 isotope. Low-enriched uranium typically has about 3-5 percent uranium-235 and is used as fuel in civilian nuclear reactors. Highly enriched uranium (HEU) has much higher concentrations of uranium-235, typically around 90 percent, and can be used as fissile material in nuclear weapons.

    Iran claims that it wants to master the enrichment process for its peaceful nuclear program, but the United States and some of its European allies contend that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons development. Iran had agreed in November 2004 to suspend “all enrichment- related” activities for the duration of negotiations with France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. But the negotiations ended when, beginning in August 2005, Tehran resumed the program in several stages.

    Ahmadinejad said that Iran will “continue on this path…until we have produced industrial-level fuel, which we will use in our power plants.”

    A Department of State official confirmed press reports April 25 that Iran is also preparing to operate two additional 164-centrifuge cascades.

    Aghazadeh said that Iran plans to install 3,000 centrifuges by April 2007. Stephen Rademaker, acting assistant secretary of state for security and nonproliferation issues, claimed on April 12 that such a plant would enable Iran to produce enough HEU for a nuclear weapon within 271 days.

    Moreover, an April 13 speech by Ahmadinejad focused renewed attention on Iran’s P-2 centrifuge program, one of the most contentious unresolved nuclear issues. Ahmadinejad reportedly said that Iran is “presently conducting research” on such a centrifuge, a statement suggesting that Tehran has conducted undisclosed work on the program.

    The United States has long suspected that Iran has a secret program to develop a P-2 centrifuge, which is more advanced than the P-1 centrifuges Iran currently uses, allowing it to produce enriched uranium more quickly.

    Iran has told the IAEA that it previously conducted research on P-2 centrifuges but stopped in 2003. Apparently contradicting Ahmadinejad, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hamidreza Asefi told reporters April 23 that Iran is not conducting P-2 research. The IAEA has not yet been able to verify Iran’s accounts of its previous P-2 research.

    Despite Iran’s recently announced achievements, however, Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte told a Washington audience April 20 that the U.S. intelligence community continues to estimate that Iran will not have enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon for at least a “number of years…perhaps into the next decade.”

    Other Confidence-Building Setbacks

    Other Security Council requests also apparently went unheeded. In addition to calling for an enrichment suspension, the March 29 statement had urged Tehran to build confidence in the peaceful nature of its nuclear program by cooperating with the IAEA and implementing several measures called for in a February 2006 IAEA resolution. (See ACT, April 2006.)

    The IAEA board had urged Tehran to reconsider its decision to build a heavy-water nuclear reactor and had called on Iran to allow IAEA inspectors greater authority to investigate questionable nuclear activities on its territory.

    Nonetheless, Aghazadeh said April 11 that Iran has continued construction of its heavy-water reactor and would begin operating it sooner than previously anticipated. Aghazadeh said the reactor would be commissioned by the end of 2009; Tehran had previously told the IAEA that the reactor would begin operating in 2014. Iran has begun producing heavy water at a production plant located at the same site, he added.

    The IAEA is concerned that Iran may intend to use the heavy-water reactor under construction to produce plutonium for fissile material from its spent fuel.

    Iran has also not agreed to ratify an additional protocol to its IAEA safeguards agreement or to resume voluntarily abiding by its provisions. Safeguards agreements, which are required under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), allow the IAEA to monitor NPT states-parties’ declared civilian nuclear activities to ensure they are not diverted to military purposes.

    Additional protocols, based on the 1997 Model Additional Protocol, provide the agency with increased authority to detect clandestine nuclear programs, including by inspecting facilities that have not been declared to the IAEA. Tehran has signed such a protocol but stopped adhering to the protocol in February 2006. Subsequently, Iran has reduced the agency’s access to its nuclear-related facilities. (See ACT, March 2006.) But Iran’s deputy secretary of the Supreme National Security Council for Strategic Affairs, Ali Hosseini-Tash, said Tehran is willing to ratify the protocol “under appropriate circumstances,” the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported April 22. He did not elaborate.

    The IAEA’s reduced access leaves the international community without a key source of information regarding Iran’s nuclear program. For example, agency inspectors cannot inspect workshops where Iran is suspected of conducting secret centrifuge work.

    This loss of information comes at a time when U.S. intelligence regarding Iran’s nuclear program is weak. The State Department official said that Washington has “no hard evidence” to give to the IAEA that Iran is pursuing undeclared nuclear activities.

    Moreover, ElBaradei reported to the IAEA board in late February that Tehran’s laggard cooperation with the agency left the agency unable to determine whether Iran has “undeclared nuclear materials or activities.”

    The IAEA board has also called on Iran to take other actions beyond those required by its safeguards agreement, such as providing IAEA inspectors with access to certain military facilities and government officials, in order to resolve a number of questions about Iran’s nuclear programs. (See ACT, April 2006.)

    The secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Larijani, told reporters the day after an April 13 meeting with ElBaradei that Tehran would “discuss and solve” the remaining outstanding issues, IRNA reported. But there is no indication that Iran has done so.

    Security Council Split

    The permanent members of the Security Council continue debating the proper response to Iran’s failure to heed their call. The United States, France, and the United Kingdom advocate an approach that would gradually ratchet up pressure on Iran, including the possibility of future sanctions designed to target the Iranian leadership. Russia and China have favored a more cautious pace and a greater role for the IAEA.

    As a next step, British, French, and U.S. officials have indicated that they support passage of a Security Council resolution making Iran’s compliance with the February IAEA resolution mandatory. The resolution would invoke Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which allows the Security Council to take punitive action, such as imposing sanctions or using military force, against offending countries “to maintain or restore international peace and security.”

    For their part, Moscow and Beijing have expressed skepticism about the efficacy of sanctions and have also been resistant to invoke Chapter VII. A Russian diplomat indicated during an April 27 interview with Arms Control Today that Moscow does not want a resolution that would give Washington a pretext to take military action against Iran (See "Reports Grow That U.S. Plots Strike Against Iran").

    In addition to its UN diplomacy, the Bush administration has been encouraging other governments to increase pressure on Tehran unilaterally, for example, by halting exports of weapons and dual-use items to Iran.

    Additionally, the State Department official confirmed April 25 that Washington is attempting to persuade Japanese and European banks to halt financial transactions with Iranian entities. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Robert Joseph told reporters April 21 that he had discussed similar measures with several Persian Gulf countries.

    Russia may also be exercising its leverage on Iran, albeit more subtly. A senior European official and the State Department official told Arms Control Today that they believe Moscow is pressuring Tehran by slowing work on a nuclear power reactor Russia is constructing near the Iranian city of Bushehr. Press reports have indicated that work on the reactor has slowed, but Russia has not explicitly linked the project’s pace to Iran’s IAEA compliance.

    Anatomy of a Stalemate

    The Security Council and Iran are at loggerheads partly because both believe that making concessions will weaken their negotiating positions.

    Despite its defiance, Tehran has said it is willing to reach a negotiated solution to the dispute but will not do so “under pressure.” For its part, Washington argues that isolating Iran will induce it to comply with the council’s demands.

    One reason for Iran’s intransigence, an Iranian diplomat told Arms Control Today April 19, is Tehran’s skepticism of the Bush administration’s willingness to negotiate a solution to the nuclear issue. Explaining that Tehran views Washington as driving the Security Council’s actions, the diplomat added that Iran suspects the United States of using the nuclear issue as a pretext for increasing international pressure on the Iranian regime.

    The Bush administration has indicated that it is pursuing a policy to build up democratic opposition to Iran’s Islamic regime and also frequently criticizes the government about non-nuclear matters, such as its support for terrorist organizations. (See ACT, April 2006.)

    Tehran has refused to comply with the council’s demands for fear that Washington will view any compromise as a sign of weakness and attempt to extract more concessions, the diplomat added.

    A 2004 speech to high-ranking Iranian officials by then-secretary of Iran’s National Security Council Hassan Rowhani suggests an additional explanation for Iran’s diplomatic tactics. Attaining the ability to enrich uranium could enable Iran to overcome international opposition to its enrichment program, he argued, adding that the international community ultimately accepted Brazil’s nuclear fuel program after initial opposition.

    Iran’s Compromise?

    Iran has discussed what it termed as compromise proposals with its European interlocutors. For example, Tehran has stated its willingness to negotiate limits to industrial-scale enrichment. Larijani indicated in early March that Iran is also willing to negotiate limits to its research activities.

    But both Iran’s refusal to suspend its current enrichment research and insistence on retaining at least a small centrifuge plant continue to meet with resistance. Iran’s European interlocutors maintain that they will not resume negotiations unless Tehran suspends all of its enrichment-related activities.

    Predictably, the Europeans rejected an Iranian proposal presented during an April 20 meeting in Moscow. A State Department official familiar with the meeting confirmed reports that Iran proposed to implement a “technical pause” of its enrichment program while resuming long-term negotiations over larger-scale enrichment. Tehran, however, said it would continue to operate its completed cascade and only suspend work on the two cascades under construction.

    Iran has also been discussing a related proposal with Russia, but the two sides seem no closer to reaching an agreement. Moscow has proposed allowing Tehran to own 49 percent of a centrifuge plant located in Russia that would enrich Iranian-produced uranium hexafluoride. (See ACT, December 2005).

    Asefi said April 23 that the proposal remains “on the table.” But Iran’s insistence on having its own centrifuge plant has also been a point of contention with Russia. According to the proposal, enrichment would take place in Russia, and Iran would have no access to the centrifuge technology.

    Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki described another possible multilateral solution in a March 30 speech to the Conference on Disarmament. Mottaki argued for the establishment of regional enrichment consortiums to be jointly operated under IAEA safeguards by regional participants. Countries from outside the region could also participate, he said. Ahmadinejad has previously suggested that other countries could invest in Iranian enrichment facilities.

    Corrected online August 29, 2008. See explanation.

     

    Tehran Tests Missiles

    Wade Boese

    Amid growing international pressure and tension surrounding its nuclear program, Iran conducted several missile tests as part of a week-long military exercise ending April 6.

    Dubbed variously by the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) as the Holy Prophet or Great Prophet of Islam war game, the exercise appeared to be aimed at bolstering domestic resolve and warding off foreign military attacks. “We hope the trans-regional powers have got the message of the war game,” Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Commander Yahya Rahim Safavi said on the exercise’s final day, IRNA reported.

    Iran claimed the maneuvers showcased some new military capabilities, including a torpedo, an air-to-surface anti-ship missile, and a surface-to-sea anti-ship missile. Iranian officials also boasted that these weapons systems were indigenously produced.

    Both assertions were disputed to some extent by a Department of State official interviewed April 20 by Arms Control Today. Although acknowledging that “there is a lot we do not know,” the official said that the U.S. government is “not sure we are seeing anything new, particularly regarding the torpedo.”

    The official noted that the Iranian torpedo appeared similar to the Russian Shkval torpedo, which is an observation shared by other press reports citing anonymous Western intelligence sources and nongovernmental experts. However, the degree to which Russia might have assisted the program is unclear, and there is speculation that Kyrgyzstan may somehow be involved. Kyrgyzstan’s embassy in Washington, D.C., denied this implication, stating in an April 20 e-mail to Arms Control Today that Kyrgyzstan “never assisted” Iran with torpedoes.

    Some of the other “new” Iranian systems are widely reported as closely resembling Chinese missiles. The Bush administration has sanctioned Chinese entities more than 50 times for alleged proliferation transactions with Iran or Iranian entities. Washington also has imposed penalties five separate times on Chinese entities for missile-related activities, although the recipients were not specified.

    Even though the Iranian missiles may not be indigenous or wholly new, Washington still condemned the tests. State Department spokesperson Adam Ereli said April 3 that they constituted “a further reminder of an aggressive program of…development and deployment of weapons systems that many of us see as threatening.”

     

     

     

    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.

     

    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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