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Right after I graduated, I interned with the Arms Control Association. It was terrific.

– George Stephanopolous
Host of ABC's This Week
January 1, 2005
June 2006
Edition Date: 
Thursday, June 1, 2006
Cover Image: 

LOOKING BACK: Going for Baruch: The Nuclear Plan That Refused to Go Away

Randy Rydell

Sixty years ago, U.S. Ambassador Bernard Baruch addressed the new UN Atomic Energy Commission and outlined a bold and controversial plan for international control or ownership of all “dangerous” nuclear materials and related facilities.[1] Six months later, the divided commission sent its report to the UN Security Council. Lacking a consensus, the plan appeared dead.

Yet, reports of its death were premature. It has been the subject of doctoral dissertations[2] and at least one masters thesis.[3] Hydrogen bomb pioneer Edward Teller urged its revival.[4] In 2003, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei firmly placed multilateral nuclear controls back on the public agenda.[5] In 2004 he stressed that the global spread of dangerous nuclear facilities “could be the Achilles heel of the nuclear non-proliferation regime.”[6]

The end of the Cold War and growing public concerns about nuclear weapons in anybody’s hands offer grounds for a second look at the Baruch Plan.

Origins

Early proposals for international nuclear cooperation predated the atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Several scientists urged such cooperation to avert a post-war nuclear arms race and to promote disarmament. On November 15, 1945, President Harry Truman, British Prime Minister Clement Attlee, and Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King issued a joint declaration proposing that “a commission should be set up under the United Nations” to prepare recommendations on “entirely eliminating the use of atomic energy for destructive purposes” and promoting peaceful uses.[7]

The declaration stressed that “no system of safeguards that can be devised will of itself provide an effective guarantee against the production of atomic weapons by a nation bent on aggression.” Yet, it also called for the new UN commission to devise “effective safeguards by way of inspection and other means to protect complying states against the hazards of violations and evasions” while cautioning against the “spreading of specialized information” before such safeguards were in place.

The proposal resurfaced in a communiqué issued from Moscow on December 27, 1945, following a meeting of the foreign ministers of the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It contained a draft General Assembly resolution on establishing a UN commission “to consider problems” relating to atomic energy.[8] On January 24, 1946, the General Assembly adopted a version of this text as its first official resolution (Resolution 1(I)).

The Department of State, meanwhile, continued its efforts to develop a specific proposal for international control. On January 7, 1946, Secretary of State James Byrnes appointed his undersecretary, Dean Acheson, to chair a Committee on Atomic Energy, which appointed a Board of Consultants chaired by David Lilienthal to draft an initial report. The result, known as the Acheson-Lilienthal report, was submitted to Byrnes on March 17 and publicly released a few days later.[9] It became, with significant amendments, the heart of the Baruch Plan.

Acheson-Lilienthal Report

Intended merely as “a foundation on which to build,” this report carried a lot of weight as its authors included some key participants in the Manhattan Project, most notably J. Robert Oppenheimer. Like the Truman-Attlee-King declaration, it stressed that “there is no prospect for security against atomic warfare in a system of international agreements to outlaw such weapons controlled only by a system which relies on inspection and similar police-like methods.”

Instead, the report called for international ownership and operation of all “dangerous” nuclear activities, which covered virtually the entire nuclear fuel cycle, including uranium and thorium mines. The new Atomic Development Authority would also conduct research, even on atomic weapons per se. Less-dangerous activities would be exempted from its mandate, including the operation of reactors using safeguarded “denatured” fuels that could not be used directly in nuclear explosives.

The report stressed that such goals could not be achieved if dangerous nuclear activities were left in “national hands.” It warned of the risks of “national rivalries” in forms of atomic energy that were readily convertible to destructive uses. Although the report lacked a detailed enforcement proposal, it called for the geographic dispersal of Atomic Development Authority facilities to ensure that if a state cheated, others could promptly respond, thereby denying any strategic advantage in such a move. Oversight would come from “some integral organ of the United Nations, perhaps the Security Council itself.” Although the report only briefly discussed “stages” of implementation, the United States would clearly relinquish the bomb only after the controls had been established.

The Baruch Plan

Shortly before the submission of that report, Byrnes appointed his friend, Bernard Baruch, to represent the United States at the newly established UN Atomic Energy Commission, a choice not supported by Oppenheimer, Acheson, or Lilienthal. Baruch, a financier-statesman who was well respected in Congress, assembled his own team, which included his own personal publicist, to develop a concrete plan to present to the commission. He indicated that he had his own ideas for the proposal and that he would not serve as any “messenger boy.”[10]

Baruch’s proposal addressed many issues in Resolution 1(I), including scientific cooperation, nuclear power, disarmament, and safeguards. The plan also borrowed heavily on the Acheson-Lilienthal report.

Yet, it also departed from the report, notably in asserting that “there must be no veto” to protect those who violate the controls. It stated that there must be “immediate, swift, and sure punishment” for violations. It was more ambiguous on whether the Atomic Development Authority should actually own uranium and thorium mines but more explicit about the various “stages” through which the controls would have to evolve before the United States would give up its bombs. Baruch left no illusions that disarmament would be easy: “But before a country is ready to relinquish any winning weapons it must have more than words to reassure it. It must have a guarantee of safety, not only against the offenders in the atomic area but against the illegal users of other weapons—bacteriological, biological, gas—perhaps—why not!—against war itself.”[11]

The Soviet Response

With the Cold War unfolding, the Soviet Union would not accept a plan that would eliminate its veto, deprive it of its option of acquiring nuclear weapons, and open its borders to intrusive international inspection, all in the hope that the United States would eventually relinquish the bomb.

Instead, the Soviet representative on the commission, Andrei Gromyko, submitted an alternative proposal on June 19, which reversed the staging of the Baruch Plan.[12] It began with a convention to prohibit the production, storage, or use of atomic weapons and to require the destruction of all such weapons. Violations would constitute a “crime against humanity,” but penalties would be imposed under domestic legislation. Gromyko stressed that the work of the commission could only be successful if the controls were consistent with the UN Charter, especially the veto authority.

The commission’s December 1946 report, although not representing a consensus—the Soviet Union and Poland abstained—did conclude that international control was technologically feasible. It found that although a convention to outlaw nuclear weapons was essential, it was not sufficient to ensure the use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes. The report also endorsed the U.S. proposal to eliminate the veto over enforcement.

The commission’s reports in 1947 and 1948 were opposed by the Soviet Union. The 1948 report concluded that the commission had reached an impasse, which continued into 1949, and in September 1949 the United States announced that the Soviet Union had conducted a nuclear test. In January 1950, the Soviet Union withdrew from the discussions, and the General Assembly dissolved the commission in January 1952.[13]

Legacy

The collapse of this initiative soon gave way in the 1950s to a substantially different approach. It sought to implement controls in a highly decentralized regulatory environment while relegating disarmament to, at best, a distant goal.

On December 8, 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower addressed the UN General Assembly[14] and offered his Atoms for Peace proposal, which offered peaceful nuclear cooperation in exchange for safeguards over nationally operated nuclear facilities—exactly what the earlier proposals had warned would not work.

By the mid-1950s, several converging trends set the world on this new course. The first was the reaffirmation of the primacy of national sovereignty in setting and implementing controls, which required a smaller role for central international institutions. The second involved a shift from a prohibitive to a regulatory approach; “safeguards” of national activities would replace schemes for direct control at the global level. A third trend was the substitution of “partial measures” for comprehensive disarmament.

Both the global and national regulatory approaches, however, had one element in common: a shared conviction that both plutonium separation and the production of highly enriched uranium (HEU) were legitimate peaceful activities.

Partial Measures

The legacy of partial measures with respect to disarmament requires little elaboration, as the nuclear arms race between the early 1950s and the mid-1980s resulted in the production of well more than 50,000 nuclear weapons worldwide. Although global nuclear disarmament efforts had failed, the partial measures had their own unhappy legacy.

Many of the basic concepts from the Baruch Plan continued to evolve, however, with the IAEA inheriting many of the Atomic Development Authority’s inspection and promotional functions but without the ownership. Between 1975 and 1987, the IAEA explored several multilateral schemes[15] to deal with fissile materials problems, each failing to produce a consensus.

1975-1977: The IAEA considered Regional Nuclear Fuel Cycle Centres.

1977-1980: The IAEA coordinated an International Nuclear Fuel Cycle Evaluation.

1978-1982: Two expert groups studied schemes for the international storage of plutonium and spent fuel.

1980-87: The IAEA’s Committee on Assurances of Supply explored methods to ensure guaranteed supplies of nuclear fuel for countries without fuel cycles.

1987: The UN Conference for the Promotion of International Cooperation on the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy considered various multilateral initiatives.

Why Worry?

In 2006, a few states still produce weapon-usable materials for civilian use, adding to security challenges posed by military stocks. One study claims that “enough weapons-usable uranium and separated plutonium exist today [2004] to produce well over 100,000 Hiroshima-sized nuclear devices.”[16] Losses of even very small amounts of such material pose grave concerns: the IAEA estimates that only about 8 kilograms of plutonium or 25 kilograms of HEU are needed for a bomb.

As of December 2004, the IAEA documented “662 confirmed incidents involving illicit trafficking and other related unauthorized activities involving nuclear and other radioactive materials” since January 1993. These included 18 incidents involving trafficking in HEU or plutonium, including a “few” involving “kilogram quantities.”[17]

The anticipated growth in nuclear energy use will greatly expand this security challenge. One study illustrates the staggering safeguards implications if global production of nuclear power grew by a factor of eight by the year 2075 (roughly the amount needed to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by a modest 25 percent).[18] The study estimated that this would annually produce 600 tons of plutonium (without reprocessing) and require some 200 additional uranium-enrichment plants, as well as the opening of a large nuclear waste repository each year thereafter.

Many security concerns would persist even if sensitive fuel-cycle activities were undertaken only at multilateral facilities. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the architect of the world’s most notorious illicit nuclear network, obtained his sensitive know-how from URENCO, a multinational consortium in the Netherlands.[19] Such technology was later retransferred to North Korea, Iran, and Libya.

Recent Multilateral Initiatives

Nevertheless, in October 2003, ElBaradei offered a multilateral initiative to “restrict” enrichment and reprocessing to “facilities under multinational control,” design nuclear energy systems that do not require or use weapons-usable nuclear materials, and consider multinational approaches to the management and disposal of spent fuel and radioactive waste.[20] He has long stressed the need for further progress on disarmament and nonproliferation, saying that “effective control of nuclear materials is the ‘choke point’ in preventing nuclear weapons development.”[21]

Following up, the IAEA published in 2005 the report of an expert group on “Multilateral Approaches to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle,” which outlined five “suggested approaches” ranging from reinforcing market mechanisms to more centralized multinational arrangements.[22]

The UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change also stressed the need for progress in disarmament, while calling for arrangements to enable the IAEA to meet demands for low-enriched uranium and for reprocessing services from states that did not pursue national fuel-cycle facilities.[23]

President George W. Bush has urged the “world’s leading nuclear exporters” to provide incentives to forgo such capabilities and to prohibit such exports to any state that did not already have full-scale, operational facilities.[24] On May 18, the United States proposed a draft fissile material cutoff treaty, which would prohibit, without verification, the production of separated plutonium or enriched uranium for use in weapons, but it would not outlaw such activities for other purposes.[25]

Quo Vadis?

As ElBaradei has stated, “[T]he [nonproliferation] regime as is right now is not adequate to deal with the increasing challenges.”[26] Many of the most severe challenges arise from the intrinsic properties of weapons-usable nuclear material.

After a long journey and many side excursions, the world now finds itself back at the same crossroads that it faced 60 years ago. To Baruch, the simple choice was between the “quick and the dead.” A more recent assessment frames the choice as between “denial” strategies or multinational fuel cycles.[27]

If the global use of nuclear power grows as expected, the production of such dangerous material, plutonium in particular, will substantially increase even if a treaty banning the production of fissile material for weapons purposes enters into force. Failure to address this challenge will frustrate global efforts to achieve the three most important nuclear security goals: disarmament, nonproliferation, and counter-terrorism.

Most initiatives dealing with fissile materials operate from the assumption that efforts to ban outright the production of HEU or the separation of plutonium are unrealistic. Yet, the prospect of seeking to regulate indefinitely ever-growing quantities of such material under national control seems no less utopian, even with strengthened safeguards. There is a better approach: if stuck in a hole, stop digging.

A treaty to ban the production of weapons-usable nuclear material would not require the international ownership of dangerous facilities, only their conversion to ensure they will not produce such material.[28] Low-enriched uranium would still be produced, although under even tighter international controls to avoid another Khan affair. Such a treaty would contain no double standards. It would facilitate verification. As noted in the Acheson-Lilienthal report, “It is far easier to discover an operation that should not be going on at all than to determine whether a lawful operation is being conducted in an unlawful manner.”[29] It would also reduce terrorism and proliferation risks, while promoting nuclear disarmament.

Reflecting back in early 1948 on the failure of the Baruch Plan, Oppenheimer wrote that “[i]t is necessarily denied to us in these days to see at what time, to what immediate ends, in what context, and in what manner of world, we may return again to the great issues touched on by the international control of atomic energy.”[30] The time to return to these great issues has surely arrived. As Oppenheimer concluded, “This is seed we take with us, travelling to a land we cannot see, to plant in new soil.”

 


Randy Rydell is senior counsellor and report director of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission (Blix Commission). He is also a senior fellow at the Arms Control Association and is currently on leave as a senior political affairs officer at the UN Department for Disarmament Affairs. He is co-author with Jayantha Dhanapala of Multilateral Diplomacy and the NPT: An Insider’s Account (2005). The views expressed are those of the author alone.


ENDNOTES

1. Bernard Baruch, Statement before the UN Atomic Energy Commission, June 14, 1946 (hereinafter Bernard Baruch statement).

2. Elliott Lee Meyrowitz, “The Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons: A Critical Analysis of the Relevance of International Law and the Failure of the Baruch Plan” (dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 1986).

3. Randy Jerome Rydell, “Antinomies of Security and Disarmament in the Baruch Plan Era” (paper, London School of Economics and Political Science, 1974).

4. “Expert: Put Nukes Under UN Control,” Reuters, February 9, 1992 (remarks at the Wehrkunde Conference, Munich, February 8, 1992).

5. Mohamed ElBaradei, “Towards a Safer World,” The Economist, October 16, 2003.

6. Mohamed ElBaradei, Statement to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors, Vienna, March 8, 2004.

7. Truman-Attlee-King Joint Declaration, November 15, 1945, in U.S. Department of State, Documents on Disarmament, Vol. I (1945-1956), pp. 1-2.

8. Moscow communiqué, November 15, 1945, in U.S. Department of State, Documents on Disarmament, Vol. I (1945-1956), pp. 3-5.

9. “Report on the International Control of Atomic Energy,” March 16, 1946 (hereinafter Acheson-Lilienthal report).

10. Barton J. Bernstein, “The Quest for Security: American Foreign Policy and International Control of Atomic Energy, 1942-1946,” Journal of American History, Vol. 60, No. 4, March 1974, p. 1033.

11. Bernard Baruch statement.

12. United Nations and Disarmament: 1945-1970 (New York: United Nations, 1970), pp. 15-24; U.S. Department of State, Documents on Disarmament, Vol. I (1945-1956), pp. 17-24.

13. UN General Assembly Resolution 502 (VI), January 11, 1952.

14. Congressional Research Service, Nuclear Proliferation Factbook, S.Prt. 103-111, December 1994, pp. 13-21.

15. “Expert Group Report to the Director General of the IAEA: Multilateral Approaches to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle,” 2005, pp. 30-31 (hereinafter Pellaud report).

16. Jon B. Wolfsthal, “Assessing Proposals on the International Fuel Cycle,” Working Paper No. 11, Stockholm, June 2004 (prepared for the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission).

17. “Illicit Nuclear Trafficking: Facts and Figures,” 2006.

18. Harold Feiveson, “Nuclear Power, Nuclear Proliferation, and Global Warming,” Forum on Physics and Society, January 2003.

19. Leonard Weiss, “Turning a Blind Eye Again?” Arms Control Today, March 2005, pp. 12-18.

20. ElBaradei, “Towards a Safer World.”

21. Mohamed ElBaradei, Address at the 2005 NPT Review Conference, May 2, 2005.

22. Pellaud report, p. 14.

23. “Report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change,” December 2, 2004.

24. President George W. Bush, Remarks at the National Defense University, Washington, DC, February 11, 2004.

25. U.S. Mission to the UN in Geneva, “U.S. Tables Draft FMCT Text at Conference on Disarmament,” May 18, 2006 (press release).

26. Mohamed ElBaradei, “Tackling the Nuclear Dilemma,” Arms Control Today, March 2005, p. 6.

27. Tariq Rauf and Fiona Simpson, “The Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Is It Time for a Multilateral Approach?” Arms Control Today, December 2004, pp. 17-21.

28. The Carnegie Endowment has called for a ban on the production of highly enriched uranium and “a decades-long moratorium on the separation of additional weapon-usable plutonium.” Carnegie Endowment, “Universal Compliance: A Strategy for National Security,” March 2005, p. 194.

29. Acheson-Lilienthal report, p. 34.

30. J. Robert Oppenheimer, “International Control of Atomic Energy,” Foreign Affairs, January 1948, pp. 239-252.

 

U.S. Unveils Draft Fissile Material Treaty

Wade Boese

At the 65-member Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva, the United States May 18 unveiled a draft treaty to end production of the two essential ingredients for building nuclear weapons. But prospects for negotiations on the proposal are slim because many countries disagree with key elements of the draft and with the U.S. insistence that the conference only address this issue.

The conference, which operates by consensus, last produced an accord in 1996. Since approval that year of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, members held unfruitful negotiations for a couple of weeks in August 1998. Otherwise, they have been stalemated even on beginning formal talks.

Contending that the CD has spent the last decade in “nearly meaningless exercises in rhetoric,” then-Acting Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation Stephen Rademaker urged conference members to devote their energies to negotiating a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT), which would outlaw new production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons purposes. Rademaker, who left his position May 19, offered a draft text with the stated purpose of spurring negotiations toward completion of a treaty before the CD ends its annual session Sept. 15. He told reporters afterward that the draft U.S. agreement was not a “take it or leave it” proposition.

However, Rademaker made clear the United States was only willing to negotiate on an FMCT and nothing else. Deriding what he labeled as “an unconscionable tolerance for hostage-taking,” Rademaker argued, “it is time for delegations finally to acknowledge that the package approach…will never succeed.”

Specifically, he said the United States sees “no need…for the negotiation of new multilateral agreements on nuclear disarmament, outer space, or negative security assurances.” The last item refers to codifying statements by nuclear-armed states that they will not use such weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states.

All three issues are broadly supported among conference members, and the United States is generally recognized as the sole country blocking any talks on the prevention of an arms race in outer space. Washington, which has plans to place experimental missile interceptors in orbit, contends no arms race exists in outer space, so such talks are unnecessary.

Still, both China and Russia declared prevention of an arms race in outer space their top priority at the conference. In the two days preceding Rademaker’s speech, both countries reaffirmed their demand for a “balanced program.” Similarly, the Group of 21 developing countries holds that nuclear disarmament is its highest priority.

Aside from rigid divisions over what topics should be negotiated, many conference members also differ with the United States on the substance of a fissile material treaty. The two most significant issues of contention are whether the treaty should address existing stockpiles and whether it should have verification measures.

Several countries assert that a treaty on fissile materials should not only end future production for weapons but also prevent existing stockpiles from being used to build new weapons. Pakistani Ambassador Masood Khan further argued May 16 that stockpiles had to be dealt with because “inequalities should not be frozen and perpetuated.”

The U.S. draft, however, excludes stockpiles. “Existing stocks of fissile material…would be unaffected,” Rademaker declared. This is a position that China and Russia recently endorsed.

Rademaker also reiterated U.S. opposition to negotiating verification measures for an FMCT. He said it would be up to states to monitor each other’s compliance, and if a serious problem arose, the UN Security Council could be requested to look into the matter.

First enunciated in July 2004 (see "Bush Shifts Fissile Material Ban Policy" Sept. 2004), this U.S. stance broke with long-standing U.S. support for FMCT verification, as well as the CD’s 1995 decision to negotiate an “effectively verifiable” agreement. Washington argues that verification measures would not catch determined cheaters, while providing a false sense of security and prying too much into legitimate security concerns of states.

The Bush administration also asserts negotiating such provisions would stretch the negotiations out too long. “With every day that goes by, the value of an FMCT diminishes because there will come a point where countries that are currently producing fissile material have all…they could possibly want,” Rademaker stated.

That is apparently the case with France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, which have publicly declared they no longer produce fissile material for weapons. China also is understood to have ceased such production. India, Israel, Pakistan, and North Korea have not renounced such production.

Other conference members disapprove of the U.S. verification position. Australia, Brazil, and South Africa all voiced support for verification measures in May speeches but said the matter should be resolved in the negotiations themselves. Japan and Canada took similar tacks, although Canadian Ambassador Paul Meyer warned May 16 that “an FMCT which proves ultimately to be merely a vague declaratory statement of good intentions about future production does the international community a disservice.”

In a speech the day before Rademaker’s presentation, Indian Ambassador Jayant Prasad also argued that the verification question should be determined during the negotiations. However, he added, “[a]bsence of a verification mechanism may engender [a] lack of confidence in compliance with the treaty, encourage willful noncompliance, and lead to allegations and counter-allegations of noncompliance.” Following Rademaker’s presentation, Prasad said he would like to reaffirm his statement and that he hoped further talks “will help us collectively to move toward a consensus.”

Last year, the Bush administration unsuccessfully tried to get India to halt fissile material production for weapons as part of a U.S. initiative to resume civilian nuclear commerce with India (see "U.S.-Indian Nuclear Deal Simmers" June 2006). Instead, New Delhi merely reiterated its past commitment to support negotiations on an FMCT at the CD. Other governments, some U.S. lawmakers, and many nongovernmental nuclear experts have criticized the administration for failing to secure a more substantial commitment.

Rademaker suggested the timing of the U.S. FMCT proposal had nothing to do with these criticisms. “As far as why we’re doing this today as opposed to last month or next month, these kinds of things take time within a government,” he stated. But Department of State spokesperson Sean McCormack said May 18 that the fissile material matter with India has “been an issue for some people, so we’ve put that [draft text] out there.”

Despite challenging the conference to conclude negotiations on an FMCT this year, the United States currently does not have a permanent representative to the conference. President George W. Bush nominated Christina Rocca, former assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs, for the position May 11, but it is uncertain when the Senate will vote on her nomination.

Rademaker used Rocca’s nomination as an occasion to imply that the United States might reconsider its participation at the conference if there was no action on an FMCT. “I urge all delegations to work with us in order to ensure that she does not serve as the last U.S. ambassador to the CD,” he declared.

 

UN Extends Committee on Terrorists and Arms

Wade Boese

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Reshaping U.S. Nonproliferation Strategy: An Interview With Undersecretary of State Robert Joseph

Wade Boese and Miles A. Pomper

The Department of State currently has a full plate of issues on nonproliferation and arms control matters, ranging from trying to resolve nuclear standoffs with Iran and North Korea to promoting a far-reaching U.S. initiative to engage in civilian nuclear commerce with India. Arms Control Today met May 18 with Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Robert Joseph to discuss these issues as well as the upcoming Biological Weapons Convention review conference.

ACT: When talking about Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear programs, U.S. officials say that each country should make a strategic decision to give up its nuclear programs. How does this administration define “strategic decision”?

Joseph: Iran and North Korea pose strategic threats to our security interests in vital regions, the nuclear nonproliferation regime, and the international community. We believe that in both cases what is required is a strategic decision. By strategic decision, we mean a decision that these governments will end their programs and will ensure that there is full confidence that these programs have been ended. I would point to Libya as a case in which we achieved a strategic decision on the part of a government pursuing nuclear weapons. The Libyans made the calculation that the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction was no longer in their interest. They announced their decision [December 19, 2003] to eliminate these programs and to allow full access by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as well as the United States and the United Kingdom, to their programs, the individuals involved, and the facilities involved. We have confidence that the decision was permanent and it applied comprehensively.

ACT: How would Tehran or Pyongyang, were they to take such a decision, demonstrate it? Would they have to take the same steps [as Libya] in terms of making a public announcement and providing access to all the relevant people?

Joseph: The Iranian regime denies that it is pursuing a nuclear weapons program. It says that its program is entirely peaceful. We of course believe that it is pursuing a nuclear weapons capability. Clearly, the concerns of the international community in that regard are reflected in the long line of IAEA resolutions and more recently by a [March 29] presidential statement from the UN Security Council. Iran has concealed its program for over 18 years. It has, according to the IAEA Board of Governors, violated its safeguards commitments. U.S. and other intelligence agencies and the IAEA have uncovered indications that [Iran] has pursued not only the capability to enrich uranium for fissile material for weapons, but indications of weaponization work. North Korea in September [2005] agreed to eliminate all of its nuclear programs. We believe all of those programs are related to nuclear weapons.

A strategic decision on the part of these governments would reflect the same conditions we saw with regard to the Libyan decision, which was a voluntary decision. Strategic decisions by their very nature have to be voluntary. One can look to the Libyan model as a model that applies in these other countries in the context of what a strategic decision would look like. Clearly, Libya is different from North Korea and North Korea is different from Iran. All of the proliferation challenges that we face are unique.

ACT: As you know because you participated in them, the administration engaged in direct negotiations with Libya. Why won’t the administration do that with Iran or take a multilateral approach like the six-party talks with North Korea as recommended recently by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger? [1]

Joseph: We do have a multilateral structure for discussions with North Korea. We did have discussions with the Libyans. I would not characterize them as negotiations in the classic sense where you trade X for Y. We had discussions. We were very clear in terms of how we characterized what needed to be done in order for us to have confidence that a strategic decision had been made on the part of the leadership to eliminate their weapons of mass destruction programs. In the case of Iran, we have of course approached this in a very multilateral way. We have approached it in the context of the IAEA process in Vienna. We have approached it in the context of the [UN] Security Council in New York. We have supported the various efforts by the EU-3 [France, Germany, and the United Kingdom] and others to find a negotiated outcome, a diplomatic outcome to this threat.

ACT: But why won’t the United States actually take part in talks as it has with North Korea?

Joseph: We have made very clear to Iran what our position is on these issues. We have a wide range of fundamental differences with the Iranian regime. We have not only the nuclear threat, but we have Iran as the central state sponsor of terrorism. It is a regime that is using terror and terrorist organizations to undercut the prospects for peace in the Middle East, for the fulfillment of the aspirations of the Lebanese people, and for undercutting the movement to democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have got a set of fundamental problems with the Iranian regime. I do not think there has been any lack of clarity in terms of the U.S. position on each of the key issues with Iran.

ACT: Would Iran’s compliance with the IAEA board’s requirements be sufficient to support a “diplomatic negotiated solution that guarantees Iran’s nuclear program is for exclusively peaceful purposes,” as outlined in the March 29 UN Security Council presidential statement?

Joseph: It is very important for Iran to meet the call of the Security Council in the context of the presidential statement and the resolutions of the IAEA board in the first instance by suspending its enrichment activities, which of course represents the most visible and urgent threat. Iran removed in January [2006] the IAEA seals on its facilities related to enrichment and has moved very fast down the enrichment path. It has announced that it has conducted enrichment activity at the 164-centrifuge cascade [at Natanz]. It has stated that it has converted over 110 tons of UF6, the feed material for centrifuges. It has stated that it has enriched uranium to over 3.5 percent.[2] All of these are very troublesome to us, and not just to the United States but to the international community. These activities on the ground have had a great deal to do with bringing together an international coalition that is determined to stop Iran from acquiring the capability to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. It is a first step. Suspension [of Iran’s enrichment activities] is a first step. The Iranians need to demonstrate that any peaceful program is entirely peaceful.

ACT: But what evidence would provide you confidence that Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons?

Joseph: What is important is that Iran not pursue the sensitive fuel-cycle technologies of enrichment or reprocessing. Another great concern, for example, is the construction of a heavy-water reactor. We, along with the other members of the IAEA board and the Security Council, believe that should stop.

ACT: Returning to North Korea, a couple of things. First, there was a mention in The New York Times today that the administration was talking about moving forward with a peace treaty proposal independent of whether there is an outcome on the nuclear talks. [3] Can you confirm that? Second, on the nuclear talks, would the United States participate in providing North Korea with energy supplies if North Korea froze operation of or dismantled its existing nuclear reactor?

Joseph: I cannot confirm anything in The New York Times story. We have been very clear in terms of what we believe should be the next step. North Korea should come back to the six-party talks, and we should implement the agreed statement that was reached last September. That statement emphasizes the need for North Korea to eliminate all of its nuclear programs, and that is the emphasis that we would certainly agree with.

ACT: If North Korea went forward [with dismantlement], would the United States participate in providing Pyongyang with energy supplies?

Joseph: We have made clear both in our June 2004 proposal and more recently that if in fact North Korea’s nuclear programs were eliminated, we would work to provide incentives, including in the energy area, that would be of benefit to the North Korean people.

ACT: Does the United States have a verification proposal that we are willing to share with North Korea so we could be certain that they are fulfilling their commitment to dismantle their weapons program?

Joseph: We are putting a lot of time and effort into developing a type of verification proposal.

ACT: Another issue that has garnered a lot of attention recently is the U.S. proposal to resume full civilian nuclear cooperation with India. Notwithstanding the broader U.S.-Indian strategic relationship, is this a net gain if assessed only on nonproliferation grounds?

Joseph: My assessment is that this is a net gain for nonproliferation. My assessment is that the steps that India has agreed to take as reflected in the commitments from last July [18] do, on balance, strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation regime. It is important that India will harmonize and implement the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) regulations for its exports, along with the guidelines of the Missile Technology Control Regime.[4] It is important that the civilian programs and civilian activities in the nuclear area will be safeguarded.[5] It is important that India will sign and implement an [IAEA] additional protocol. It is important that India has agreed not to transfer enrichment or reprocessing technologies to states that do not have them. Collectively, these commitments and the other ones that India took on in July move India closer into the mainstream of nonproliferation as opposed to keeping India on the outside. It is a net gain. I have never tried to oversell this, but I do believe that it is a net gain.

ACT: You mentioned the July 18 statement. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had committed India to “assume the same responsibilities and practices” as other leading countries. Given that the five recognized nuclear-weapon states have enacted or are understood to have enacted a fissile cutoff [for weapons purposes] and have all signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, why aren’t these actions expected of India as well?

Joseph: We have encouraged India to stop the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons. But that is not part of the July agreement.

ACT: Did the United States originally seek to have India end its fissile material production for weapons?

Joseph: We did. India was not willing to do that. We have made very clear that we will not recognize India as a nuclear-weapon state, which is something that it wanted us to do. We have made very clear that nothing that we provide under this or any other arrangement will be used for India’s nuclear weapons program. We have made explicit in our testimony and our public statements that we believe the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT)[6] is of fundamental importance and that we will not do anything in the context of our relationship with India or in any other context to undercut that treaty. We have said the same about the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which is a very important nonproliferation tool. We are not going to take any steps that would undercut its validity.

ACT: With regard to the NSG, if other countries were to oppose the U.S. initiative to exempt India from the guidelines, would the United States still act on a bilateral relationship with India to pursue full civil nuclear cooperation, or would we try to change the NSG consensus rule?

Joseph: We have said all along that we have to achieve a positive outcome both with Congress and with the NSG in order to move forward. We have said that we would not seek to change the rules of the NSG. The NSG operates on the basis of consensus. We know that we have our work cut out for us [in the NSG], just like we do to achieve passage of legislation with our own Congress. There are many legitimate questions that have been raised both by Congress and in the NSG. We are addressing those questions, and we think we have good answers to those because we do think overall this is a net gain for nonproliferation.

ACT: What is the current status of the U.S.-Indian negotiations on the bilateral cooperation agreement? Our understanding is that India has received a U.S. draft and came back with a half-dozen criticisms or questions. Could you fill us in on the status of the negotiations?

Joseph: We provided India with a draft of the so-called 123 agreement.[7] India has not gotten back to us formally on this. We anticipate that they will provide their comments in the form of an alternative draft in, we hope, the near future. We have heard that there are some difficulties in terms of the draft that we provided, but that is why one has negotiations. These agreements often involve intense negotiations.

ACT: Returning to fissile materials, the United States just offered a new fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) proposal at the Conference on Disarmament (CD). Why now, and is it directly tied to trying to win congressional approval for the U.S.-Indian nuclear cooperation deal?

Joseph: The administration’s position on the fissile material cutoff treaty has been clear for some time. In July 2004, [then-U.S. Permanent Representative to the CD] Jackie Sanders stated our position on an FMCT before the conference. (See ACT, September 2004.) This is the next step. We have translated our position on FMCT issues into a draft text, and today we laid that text down. We hope that it will become the basis for negotiations in Geneva.

ACT: Have you heard back from India whether it supports this new proposal?

Joseph: It is clear that there are differences in terms of the approach to an FMCT between the United States and India. But we both support the negotiation of a treaty to cut off fissile material production for nuclear weapons or other explosive purposes.

ACT: You mentioned differences. That largely goes to the issue of verification. With regard to the new U.S. proposal, if negotiations were to begin, is there anything that would prevent other countries from raising the issue of verification in those negotiations, and would the United States be receptive to potentially adding verification measures to this draft agreement?

Joseph: Clearly, there is nothing to prevent any participating government in the CD from raising whatever it wants to raise. We anticipate that more than one government will raise the question of verification in the context of an FMCT. We have looked at verification very closely. We did a full-scale assessment on verifiability of a cutoff, and we have come to the conclusion that it is simply not verifiable.

ACT: Would that preclude the United States from being receptive to adding some type of verification measures or confidence-building measures to the draft that we have submitted?

Joseph: We are not in a position where we are going to accept provisions in a treaty that we do not think are effective. In fact, we believe that they could be counterproductive in the sense that they may give a false sense of complacency.

ACT: Aside from the scope of an FMCT, talks on that agreement have been held up in the CD because of other linkages. Other countries have wanted to talk about nuclear disarmament and prevention of an arms race in outer space. Is the United States prepared to hold discussions and negotiations on those topics so we can begin discussions on the FMCT proposal?

Joseph: There has been a long-standing paralysis within the CD. Perhaps the clearest reason for that paralysis has been this hostage-taking, this linkage of one issue to another. We do not think that we should move forward on negotiations on these other issues. We think we should have the CD concentrate on an FMCT, and let’s see if the conference can make a contribution in that context. We know that this paralysis will continue if the hostage-taking continues. We would like to focus on an FMCT.

ACT: You mentioned negotiations, but my understanding is that other countries merely want to set up ad hoc groups that are for discussions rather than negotiations. Are we willing to discuss these subjects?

Joseph: I will just say that our preference is that we focus on an FMCT. It has been years since the CD has produced anything of value. We would like it to have productive negotiations on a topic of importance to the United States as well as to the broader international community.

ACT: Last year, the State Department consolidated the arms control and nonproliferation bureaus. Media reports have alleged that key officials say that the reorganization was politically motivated and will weaken U.S. efforts to address global weapons dangers. How would you respond to those charges?

Joseph: The reorganization was not politically motivated. The call for the merger of the arms control and nonproliferation bureaus surfaced for the first time in a review by the [State Department inspector general (IG)]. The objective of the merger was and remains to restructure these two bureaus so that they and the very talented people that reside in them can make the greatest contribution to dealing with today’s national security threats. I would start from the basic question, how can the State Department and, specifically, how can the bureaus [under the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security] make the greatest contribution to our national security? At the top of the list of the threats we face is the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, whether it is Iran, North Korea, other rogue states, or terrorists. We have restructured these two bureaus. We have created new offices in these bureaus to deal with the new threats that we face today to ensure, with regard to our traditional tools of nonproliferation, that we are making the greatest contribution, whether that is in terms of strengthening the treaty regimes or improving our export control assistance to other countries or in the context of new missions promoting the effectiveness of the Proliferation Security Initiative or implementing Security Council Resolution 1540 or expanding programs that will help to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

ACT: You mentioned the IG report. Why were the responsibilities of the Verification and Compliance Bureau increased while the IG report recommended that the bureau should have its functions and role narrowed?

Joseph: We looked at the issue across the bureaus, and it seemed to me and to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the best approach was to create a new bureau that focused on proliferation threats. This is the International Security and Nonproliferation Bureau. The traditional arms control implementation functions, we believed, fit more appropriately with the verification bureau. It was those offices that were transferred into that bureau.

ACT: The 1991 START, including its extensive verification regime, is set to expire in December 2009. Has this administration initiated discussions with Russia on ways either to extend the treaty or continue the verification system?

Joseph: We have had some very recent communications with Russia on this issue, and we are creating a U.S.-Russian group that will look at that question. This is a group that will be chaired by [Deputy Foreign Minister] Sergei Kislyak and myself.

ACT: Will this administration seek additional strategic arms reductions or negotiations with Russia?

Joseph: We have the reductions that are called for in the Moscow Treaty [Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty] that will take us through 2012.[8] It is our view that we ought to focus on other threats. We are working with the Russians on other issues. It is much broader than the old arms control agenda. We are working with them on a lot of nonproliferation and counterproliferation initiatives.

ACT: Is the administration interested in negotiating or discussing with Russia the issue of tactical nuclear weapons?

Joseph: We would very much like to engage on the issue of tactical nuclear weapons in the sense that there is a real imbalance. Russia is moving to put even more reliance on these weapons, while we have drastically reduced our inventories of tactical weapons. We would like to have that discussion. The question is, are we going to negotiate? We would like to have that discussion because we think it is important to understand Russian motivations.

ACT: This November, there is a Biological Weapons Convention review conference. What potential topics would the administration want to see addressed, and what would you view as the ideal outcome of the conference?

Joseph: We think that the work program that has been in effect since the last review conference has been very productive. Instead of focusing on what we consider to be a counterproductive “nonverification” regime, we focused on the more practical and more concrete measures of security of biological agents, codes of conduct, and the need for nations to criminalize the proliferation of biological weapons. We think that these measures are very important, and we would like to see a work program that continues in that same vein.

ACT: Aside from trying to resolve the problems that Iran and North Korea present to the nonproliferation regime, what other measures does this administration plan to pursue to help bolster the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and is the administration looking at the Seven-Nation initiative that is backed by the United Kingdom and Norway as something that might be a way forward?

Joseph: This administration, starting with President George W. Bush, has been very innovative in trying to strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation regime and the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. I would refer you to the speech that the president gave at the National Defense University in February 2004 in which he laid out seven initiatives, most of which were directed at strengthening the NPT: the ban on the transfer of sensitive technologies related to enrichment and reprocessing to countries that do not already have that capability, the establishment of a special committee on verification, and the list goes on and on. (See ACT, March 2004.) We are very proud of the record we have in that regard.

ACT: Thank you very much.

Click here for a complete transcript of this interview.


1. Henry A. Kissinger, “A Nuclear Test for Diplomacy,” The Washington Post, May 16, 2006, p. A17.

2. Low-enriched uranium nuclear fuel usually is enriched to 3-5 percent. Any material enriched to more than 20 percent is considered highly enriched uranium and is capable of being used to produce bombs. However, the level of enrichment considered ideal for weapons is more than 90 percent.

3. David E. Sanger, “ U.S. Said to Weigh a New Approach on North Korea,” The New York Times, May 18, 2006, p. A1.

4. The NSG is a voluntary export control regime consisting of 45 countries that agree to abide by common guidelines in their civilian nuclear commerce. The Missile Technology Control Regime is also a voluntary export control regime that calls on its 34 members to exercise restraint in their missile exports, particularly of technologies that can be used to deliver a 500-kilogram payload a distance of more than 300 kilometers.

5. In a March 2 military-civilian separation plan agreed to by the United States and India, New Delhi committed to put a total of 14 of its 22 current and planned nuclear reactors under safeguards by 2014. Because a total of six reactors already have or were previously slated for safeguards, India essentially agreed to put eight additional reactors under safeguards. Aside from the eight reactors left outside of safeguards, India also refused to put its existing breeder reactors, enrichment and reprocessing facilities, and spent nuclear fuel under safeguards. New Delhi also reserved the right to declare any future nuclear facilities it builds as off-limits for safeguards.

6. Along with Israel and Pakistan, India has refused to join the 1968 NPT, which commits all of its states-parties, except for China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, to forswear nuclear weapons. However, the five nuclear-weapon states are obligated by the treaty to work toward abolishing their nuclear arms. India, Israel, and Pakistan all have nuclear stockpiles but are not recognized by the treaty as nuclear-weapon states because they did not conduct a nuclear explosion before January 1, 1967.

7. Section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 requires that the terms of U.S. nuclear trade with other governments be set out in bilateral cooperation agreements and establishes eligibility conditions for potential recipients of U.S. nuclear commerce. However, India does not meet all of the conditions, so the Bush administration has proposed legislation to exempt India from them and alter the normal congressional review process of Section 123 agreements.

8. The treaty obligates the United States and Russia to reduce their operationally deployed strategic nuclear forces to between 1,700-2,200 warheads apiece. The treaty has no destruction requirements.

 

U.S. Bars Future Arms Sales to Venezuela

Wade Boese

Underscoring its continuing unhappiness with Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, Washington announced May 15 that future U.S. arms sales to Venezuela would be prohibited. Although Venezuela is not a major U.S. arms buyer, Venezuelan officials denounced the action.

Department of State spokesperson Sean McCormack said May 15 that the ban stemmed from a determination that Venezuela was not being helpful in the U.S. war on terrorism. McCormack provided more specific examples a day later, saying Venezuela was cementing closer intelligence ties with Iran and Cuba, serving as a transit point for arms and individuals of concern, and maintaining links to Colombian guerrilla groups.

The U.S. move outlaws any new U.S. government and commercial arms deals with Venezuela. The ban is not retroactive, so deals previously concluded can be filled. In addition, U.S. exporters can, up to 24 times a year, provide spare parts worth less than $500 for previously sold equipment, according to statements by McCormack May 17.

A precise accounting of what might be in the arms pipeline to Venezuela is difficult to ascertain as companies have four years to act after a commercial arms sales license is approved. In addition, the Pentagon does not have to publicly notify Congress of any arms sales it concludes with a foreign government unless the deal exceeds $14 million. The last agreement with Venezuela that topped this reporting threshold occurred in 1996.

Still, Venezuela in recent years has been procuring some U.S. arms, including spare parts for 24 F-16A combat aircraft purchased in the early 1980s. In its latest comprehensive accounting of weapons deals with foreign governments, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency reported that, from fiscal year 1994 to fiscal year 2004, Venezuela received approval for $184 million in arms purchases from the Pentagon and $103 million in arms buys from U.S. companies. Whether all these agreements were completed is unknown.

Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Minister Alí Rodríguez Araque blasted the U.S. move May 16 as an attempt to “handicap our defenses” and “prepare the political conditions for an attack.” In a May 19 op-ed in The Los Angeles Times, Bernardo Alvarez Herrera, Venezuela’s ambassador to the United States, denied the U.S. allegations and asserted Washington was seeking to “isolate, antagonize, and destabilize Venezuela.”

McCormack responded May 16 to Araque’s statements by arguing that “instead of throwing up sort of diversionary rhetoric and overheated rhetoric, [Venezuela] might focus instead on actually taking steps to fight terror.”

Washington recently also has been pressing Brazil and Spain to deny arms, such as military aircraft and naval patrol boats, to Venezuela. (See "Latin American Arms Sales Moving Forward," March 2006.) Comments by Araque and Herrera suggest that the United States is having some success, although Arms Control Today inquiries to confirm the status of the deals were not answered.

 

U.S. Offers Iran Direct Talks

Paul Kerr

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council, along with Germany, are continuing their efforts to craft a new package of incentives and disincentives designed to persuade Iran to end its gas centrifuge-based uranium-enrichment program. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced a significant U.S. policy shift May 31 by dangling the prospect of direct talks before Tehran.

In late May, China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States resumed their efforts to devise an offer after the Security Council failed earlier in the month to agree on the text of a legally binding draft resolution on Iran’s nuclear program. France and the United Kingdom introduced the draft resolution after International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei reported in late April that Iran had failed to heed a nonbinding March presidential statement from the council. That statement had urged Iran to take several steps, including resuming a suspension of its enrichment program and increasing its cooperation with an agency investigation of Iran’s nuclear activities. (See ACT, April 2006.)

But the European resolution met resistance from Russia and China because it would have invoked Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which allows the Security Council to take punitive action, such as imposing sanctions or using military force, “to maintain or restore international peace and security.”

Moscow and Beijing have expressed skepticism about the efficacy of sanctions and have also been resistant to invoke Chapter VII, fearing that it could give Washington a pretext to take military action against Iran. (See ACT, May 2006.)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said May 16 that “neither Russia nor China will be able to support” a Security Council resolution “that would contain a pretext for coercive, let alone military, measures,” the Interfax news agency reported. But John Bolton, U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, downplayed such fears while speaking to reporters May 5, saying that Chapter VII was merely being used because it is required to make Iran’s compliance with the resolution mandatory. Washington is willing to consider other formulations that would make the resolution’s demands legally binding without invoking Chapter VII, Bolton added.

Bolton also said that the United States would like the Security Council to adopt a unanimous resolution but added that Washington does not want “unanimity at any price.” He suggested that the United States might seek a vote on a resolution, even if Russia or China were to object.

Bolton also reiterated that Washington might take action outside the council by undertaking measures with other like-minded countries to constrain Iran’s nuclear ambitions. For example, the Bush administration is seeking to persuade institutions in Europe, Japan, and the Persian Gulf to halt financial transactions with Iranian entities. (See ACT, May 2006.)

Whether Tehran’s compliance with the Security Council’s requests would satisfy Washington remains unclear. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Robert Joseph would not directly respond when asked during a May 18 interview with Arms Control Today if such compliance would be sufficient to address U.S. concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. He did say that a re-suspension of Iran’s enrichment program was a sina qua non.

Iran has a pilot centrifuge facility and is constructing a larger commercial facility. Tehran has told the IAEA that the pilot and commercial facilities will eventually contain approximately 1,000 and 50,000 centrifuges, respectively. Gas centrifuges enrich uranium by spinning uranium hexafluoride gas at very high speeds in order to increase the concentration of the uranium-235 isotope. Iran also has a conversion facility for turning lightly processed uranium ore into uranium hexafluoride.

Iran suspended the program in late 2004 before beginning negotiations with France, Germany, and the United Kingdom designed to resolve international concerns about its enrichment program. Those negotiations ended when Iran restarted its uranium-conversion facility last August. (See ACT, September 2005.)

Proposal Discussions

Since the early May setback, diplomats representing the permanent Security Council members and Germany have been circulating drafts of the European proposal in an attempt to reach a consensus, a European diplomat familiar with the discussions told Arms Control Today May 26. The Europeans are trying to unify the Security Council around the proposal by persuading Washington to support an offer of incentives to Iran and by convincing Moscow and Beijing to support the threat of Security Council sanctions.

The idea, the diplomat said, is to present Iran with “a stark choice:” give up its enrichment program and gain the benefits of integration into the international community or keep the program and “suffer the consequences.” The Europeans have been trying to present Iran with such a choice since beginning talks with Tehran in 2003.

The proposal’s incentives reportedly would include a multilateral consortium to provide Iran with a light-water nuclear reactor for energy production, as well as a guaranteed supply of nuclear fuel. Similar but less-detailed incentives were contained in an August 2005 proposal that Tehran rejected at the time. (See ACT, September 2005.)

The European diplomat said that there is “nothing particularly new” about the incentives but argued that “explicit endorsement” of the proposal by Washington, Moscow, and Beijing would constitute “one key difference” between this proposal and the one offered in 2005.

The proposal, when finalized, may also address the issue of Iran’s security. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in recent interviews that Washington has not been asked to provide “security assurances” to Iran. But the European diplomat said that the proposal may include the initiation of a “regional dialogue” regarding security issues in the Persian Gulf region, adding that the matter is “still under discussion.”

The proposal’s disincentives will reportedly include an embargo on exports of arms and refined petroleum products to Iran, as well as sanctions designed to target the Iranian leadership, such as a travel ban on Iranian officials and the freezing of certain Iranian assets. (See ACT, April 2006.)

The European diplomat also indicated that if Iran complies with the resolution, the Security Council will agree not to take up the nuclear issue and will instead leave the matter to the IAEA.

Iranian officials have repeatedly called for such an arrangement as Tehran is wary of the Security Council’s power to impose wide-ranging demands and penalties—power that considerably exceeds the IAEA’s authority. For example, a senior Iranian diplomat told Arms Control Today in April that Tehran is concerned that the Security Council may give IAEA inspectors unlimited authority to investigate possible nuclear-related activities in its defense facilities. Washington could use such inspections to gather military intelligence, the diplomat said, citing UN weapons inspectors’ espionage activities in Iraq during the 1990s.

Iran has allowed the IAEA to visit some defense-related facilities. (See ACT, March 2006.)

Getting to Yes?

Iran’s former chief nuclear negotiator, Hassan Rowhani, indicated in a letter posted on Time magazine’s website May 10 that Iran is willing to alleviate the international community’s concerns about its nuclear program by, for example, “invest[ing] the time and effort necessary to receive the IAEA clean bill of health.” The IAEA still has a series of outstanding questions regarding Iran’s nuclear activities.

Rowhani, a representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Iran’s National Security Council, listed several other steps that Tehran would be willing to take, most of which have been articulated in past Iranian proposals. These include negotiating with “the IAEA and states concerned about the scope and timing of its industrial-scale uranium enrichment,” including setting verifiable limits on the production of centrifuge feedstock; and negotiating an agreement with the IAEA regarding the “continuous presence of inspectors in Iran.”

Nevertheless, it appears the two sides will have difficulty finding common ground. The Europeans will initially ask Iran to suspend work at its conversion and centrifuge facilities as a precondition for beginning negotiations, although they may ultimately agree to allow Tehran to continue conversion, the European diplomat said.

Such a compromise appears unlikely to be reciprocated, however. Iranian officials have repeatedly indicated that Iran will not stop work on its centrifuge facility.

The Europeans are not expected to offer to allow Iran to operate a pilot centrifuge facility for research purposes, although the diplomat acknowledged that the idea has been discussed. Iranian officials have said repeatedly that Iran will not forswear enrichment on its own territory.

Agence France Presse reported May 25 that, according to ElBaradei, Iranian officials have said that Tehran had “agreed in principle that for a number of years” Iran’s nuclear fuel production “should be part of an international consortium outside of Iran.” The issue of Iran’s enrichment research was “still being discussed,” he added.

In addition to proposing Iranian participation in a Russian enrichment facility, the draft European proposal would guarantee a nuclear fuel supply for Tehran by providing for a five-year enriched uranium reserve under IAEA supervision. Iran has previously expressed interest in multilateral fuel-supply schemes but has so far insisted on having a domestic enrichment capability as a hedge against possible supply disruptions.

Iranian officials, however, have said that Iran would accept limits on the number of centrifuges in its pilot facility. For example, the Iranian diplomat indicated that Tehran would have been willing in March to limit the number of centrifuges to between 164 and 500. A former European diplomat who maintains contact with Iranian officials said in a May 22 interview that, according to an Iranian official “directly involved” in the matter, Khamenei agreed in the spring of 2005 that Iran would accept a limit of 164 centrifuges.

Iran is currently operating a 164-centrifuge cascade in its pilot facility and is building two others.

But Gary Samore, a former Clinton administration National Security Council aide who maintains contact with Tehran, told Arms Control Today May 17 that Iran is determined to have an industrial-scale enrichment capability and does not want a constraint on its enrichment facilities. According to Samore, Iranian officials say privately that they want to have a “breakout capability” for developing nuclear weapons. Interestingly, the Iranian diplomat who spoke with Arms Control Today also suggested that there are some officials in Tehran who may want Iran to have a nuclear weapons option.

A former senior intelligence official offered another view. Former National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia Paul Pillar told Arms Control Today May 22 that, in his judgment, Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program but is not on an “irreversible course.” Pillar cautioned that such assessments are only judgments, noting that U.S. intelligence about Iran’s nuclear programs is limited.

Iranian officials have also told ElBaradei that if the negotiations resume, Tehran is willing to resume implementing its additional protocol to its IAEA safeguards agreement—another of the Security Council’s demands. Additional protocols provide the agency with increased authority to detect clandestine nuclear programs, including by inspecting facilities that have not been declared to the IAEA. They supplement mandatory IAEA safeguards agreements, which are required under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Iran has signed but not ratified its additional protocol. Tehran had been implementing the agreement but stopped doing so in February.

Will Washington Talk to Tehran?

In recent months, calls for direct talks between Washington and Tehran have increased, particularly from members of the U.S. foreign policy establishment. Among others, advocates for such talks include one-time Bush administration officials such as former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and former Department of State Policy Planning Director Richard Haass; Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and committee member Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.); former national security advisers Brent Scowcroft and Henry Kissinger, who was also secretary of state under President Richard Nixon; and William Perry, who was secretary of defense during the Clinton administration. In remarks to the European Parliament on May 30, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, also suggested that Washington participate in direct talks.

Previously, the Bush administration had responded coolly to such suggestions. But White House Press Secretary Tony Snow implied a shift during a May 24 press briefing, telling reporters that Washington might be willing to talk if Tehran agreed to suspend its enrichment activities.

Rice was more explicit in May 31 remarks to the press, saying that “as soon as Iran fully and verifiably suspends its enrichment and reprocessing activities, the United States will come to the table with our EU-3 colleagues and meet with Iran’s representatives.” She said similar remarks had been delivered directly to Iranian diplomats.

She also endorsed the elements of the proposed European package of incentives and disincentives, adding that “the Iranian regime can decide on one of two fundamentally different futures for its people and for its relationship with the international community.”

However, while Rice said that President George W. Bush “wants a new and positive relationship between the American people and the people of Iran” including enhanced trade and investment, “the nuclear issue is not the only obstacle standing in the way of improved relations.” In particular, she cited Iran’s alleged support for terrorism and “violence in Iraq,” as well as claims that Tehran has interfered (through terrorist proxies) in Lebanon.

Some nongovernmental experts have argued that a lengthy May 8 letter to Bush from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was an attempt at a diplomatic opening, although the letter did not directly address the nuclear standoff. State Department officials have also confirmed that Iran had recently sought direct talks.

Iran has made overtures to speak to Washington in the past. In the spring of 2003, Iran sent the United States a detailed proposal for negotiations to resolve several bilateral issues. For example, Iran offered to sign an additional protocol and end its opposition to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, according to a copy obtained by Arms Control Today.

The United States and Iran have previously said that, in principle, they are willing to discuss Iraqi security issues, but no such talks have taken place.

 

Indo-Pakistani Talks Advance

William Huntington

Pakistan and India are nearing final agreement on a proposal to reduce the risk of nuclear accidents or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons. According to a joint statement produced at the most recent round of talks on nuclear confidence-building measures (CBMs) in Islamabad April 25-26, the two nations “held detailed discussions on the draft text” of the proposal presented by India and “agreed to work towards its finalization,” possibly as early as July.

Subsequently, on April 27 India and Pakistan turned to discussing conventional CBMs and agreed to seek new accords on a number of issues, including finalizing a set of rules governing those sections of their border not in dispute. These rules would address such concerns as the setback distance for construction of facilities on either side of the border. Although most of the boundary between India and Pakistan is recognized as a legitimate international border by both sides, certain areas, most notably Jammu and Kashmir, are disputed.

Further, the two countries agreed to enhance the existing agreement barring the development of new defensive works along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, establish rules for holding meetings between sector-level military commanders, and finalize an agreement on the expedient return of “inadvertent line crosser(s).”

In addition, Pakistan presented India with a draft text on the prevention of incidents at sea.

Nuclear negotiators are set to meet again soon. Pakistani Additional Secretary for Foreign Affairs Tariq Osman Haider, who led the Pakistani delegation, was quoted by Reuters April 26 as saying that “finalization of the [nuclear] agreement would take place during the next round of foreign secretary-level talks in New Delhi in July.”

However, even as CBM talks continue, Pakistan’s National Command Authority in May said it will not only maintain its missile program but further improve its strategic capability. Islamabad claimed it was reacting in part to the pending U.S.-Indian civil nuclear deal and its potential effect on regional stability.

Four rounds of nuclear CBM discussions have taken place since 2004 as part of the “composite dialogue” framework set up between the nations to resolve contentious issues. There have been three rounds of similar conventional talks.

As recently as 2002, India and Pakistan deployed significant numbers of troops along their border during a confrontation stemming from Indian accusations that Pakistan had aided terrorist attacks on its territory. (See ACT, April 2002.)

 

 

U.S., Libya to Restore Full Diplomatic Relations

William Huntington

The United States is set to re-establish full diplomatic relations with Libya, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced May 15. The same day, President George W. Bush filed a report that will allow Libya to be taken off of the list of state sponsors of terrorism by the end of June, easing related sanctions.

The move culminates a historic rapprochement between the two nations that began in the late 1990s with Libyan steps to cooperate with the investigation into the 1988 bombing of Pam Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Libya accepted its culpability for the bombing in August 2003 and committed to paying $2.7 billion to the families of the victims. On December 19, 2003, following months of secret negotiations between Libya, the United Kingdom, and the United States, Libya announced its intention to scrap its unconventional weapons programs. (See ACT, January/February 2004.)

Among other disarmament steps, Tripoli agreed to destroy its stock of Scud missiles that violate the Missile Technology Control Regime; declared and agreed to destroy its chemical weapons and precursors; signed an additional protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency; and divulged information regarding its past illicit procurement of nuclear weapons-related items from the Abdul Qadeer Khan network.

The Bush administration painted the resumption of full diplomatic ties as a significant benefit for Libya stemming from Tripoli’s decision to abandon its unconventional weapons programs and made pointed comparisons with Iran and North Korea. Department of State spokesperson Edgar Vasquez told Arms Control Today May 18 that Libya’s recent decisions should stand as a “model for the regimes of Iran and North Korea.”

In a prepared statement, Rice said May 15, “Just as 2003 marked a turning point for the Libyan people so too could 2006 mark turning points for the peoples of Iran and North Korea…. We urge the leadership of Iran and North Korea to make similar strategic decisions that would benefit their citizens.”

Libyan Ambassador to the United States Ali Aujali told Arms Control Today May 22 that both Libya and the United States stood to gain from “opening a new page in U.S.-Libyan relations.” However, he noted that only if Libya realizes the benefits it expects from its new relationship with the United States would the normalization of relations send a “strong message” to the international community. These include increased economic and business ties, the institution of student exchange programs, and greater numbers of visas for Libyan citizens, he said.

 

 

The United States is set to re-establish full diplomatic relations with Libya, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced May 15. The same day, President George W. Bush filed a report that will allow Libya to be taken off of the list of state sponsors of terrorism by the end of June, easing related sanctions. (Continue)

U.S.-Indian Nuclear Deal Simmers

Wade Boese

The Bush administration is urging lawmakers to quickly give their approval to a U.S.-Indian civilian nuclear cooperation proposal, but some legislators are expressing reservations about the pace and scope of the deal.

President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh agreed last July to revive U.S. civilian nuclear trade with nuclear-armed India after a three-decade hiatus. Yet, many aspects of the deal remain unsettled. (See "Bush, Singh Advance Nuclear Deal," April 2006.)

On May 25, New Delhi provided Washington with India’s version of a bilateral cooperation agreement setting out the two sides’ obligations. Details of India’s draft were not yet available at press time, but preliminary Indian media reports suggest it does not include a provision triggering the deal’s termination if India conducts a nuclear test. A U.S. draft agreement, given March 14 to India, contained a clause to that effect.

Despite the incomplete status of the bilateral cooperation agreement, the Bush administration wants lawmakers to essentially permit a completed agreement to enter into force after 90 days unless two-thirds of both chambers of Congress object. This approach differs from current U.S. law, which would require a majority approval from both chambers.

Some lawmakers, such as Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), charge that the administration’s approach makes it nearly impossible for Congress to stop the agreement even if there are serious objections to its contents. Berman proposed an alternative bill May 19 requiring that India meet certain conditions, such as halting the production of highly enriched uranium and plutonium for weapons, to be eligible for future U.S. nuclear trade.

Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House International Relations Committee and a supporter of the deal, said at a May 11 panel hearing that the administration-backed legislation, if pressed to a vote soon, would “get a negative response from the Congress.” Lantos proposed that Congress wait until the bilateral cooperation agreement is finalized and India concludes safeguards negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency before using “expedited procedures to assure an up or down vote on the [deal].” Safeguards are supposed to help prevent the misuse of civilian nuclear technology for bombs.

Still, administration officials say they are optimistic that their preferred legislation will triumph. But they are also eager for Congress to act before July when lawmakers, particularly in the House, will start to turn their attention to winning re-election in November.

 

EU Approves Nonproliferation Framework

Oliver Meier

The European Parliament May 17 approved a seven-year budget framework for the European Union that is likely to lead to that body spending on average €141 million ($180 million) annually for the period 2007-2013 on nonproliferation, disarmament, and nuclear safety measures. EU officials said the measure should allow the EU and European governments to expand the scope and geographic reach of such activities, if sufficient funding is forthcoming.

The amount of spending on these programs may be adjusted up or down on an annual basis and is difficult to compare with previous spending because of the complex EU budget process.

The budget framework reflects an attempt to simplify budget structure and consolidates many previously separate thematic and regional budget lines. It also sets limits on how much the European Commission (the executive body and main bureaucracy of the EU) can spend on arms control, disarmament, and nonproliferation. But the new budget structure does not solve the problem that two distinct and at times competing EU institutions—the European Commission and the Council of the European Union—will continue to manage nonproliferation and disarmament funds. The council represents the collective will of EU member states’ governments.

Many European programs on nonproliferation and disarmament are expected to be subsumed under a new Stability Instrument on which the EU will spend €2.35 billion ($3 billion) over the next seven years. A maximum of 15 percent (€353 million or $450 million), of the Stability Instrument is set aside for nonproliferation, described as “risk mitigation and preparedness relating to chemical, nuclear and biological materials or agents.” Commission nonproliferation efforts in the past have focused on programs to secure former Soviet Union fissile material and retrain former Soviet scientists involved in weapons of mass destruction programs. Exact budget numbers to be spent on these efforts will only be determined in the process of the EU’s annual and multi-annual budget cycles.

Programs to improve nuclear safety have constituted a large part of the EU’s nonproliferation efforts to date. Such efforts, which are separate from the Stability Instrument, will continue to consume more funding than the Stability Instrument nonproliferation programs. It is estimated that spending on nuclear safety activities will amount to €465 million ($597 million) over the next seven years. In the past, the European Commission has included spending on nonproliferation and nuclear safety activities as part of its €1 billion ($1.28 billion) pledge under the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction established by the Group of Eight (G-8) countries at a summit in Kananaskis, Canada, in June 2002.

Under that initiative, also known as “10 Plus 10 Over 10,” the seven members of the group other than the United States have collectively promised to match a U.S. pledge of $10 billion over 10 years for threat reduction activities. The commission pledge is separate from individual pledges by France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom, which are all G-8 member states. The Global Partnership intends to secure or eliminate residual materials and weapons from the former Soviet Union considered vulnerable to unauthorized use or theft as well as to re-employ weapon scientists in peaceful pursuits. (See ACT, May 2006.)

Alexander McLachlan of the External Relations Department of the European Commission told Arms Control Today May 19 that the budget agreement “at least on paper” gives the EU the ability to expand the geographical and thematic scope of its nonproliferation activities. Thus, the EU now can spend money on biological and chemical weapons control as well as on the implementation of the nonproliferation clauses included in agreements made with third countries. This includes, for example, assisting efforts to improve export controls and crisis response capacities. (See ACT, May 2005.)

“This broader remit is certainly a positive thing in the sense that, taken together with the work being done under the Common Foreign and Security Policy [CFSP], it enables the EU to become a more global actor on nonproliferation,” McLachlan said.

The CFSP was initiated in 1992 after the signing of the Maastricht Treaty in an effort to steer a common approach to foreign policy and security issues. It has gathered strength and garnered increased funding in recent years—trends that are expected to continue. It has its own secretariat, led by Javier Solana, the current high representative for the CFSP.

Over the next seven years, a minimum of €1.74 billion ($2.23 billion) has been allocated for the CFSP, averaging about €250 million ($320 million) annually. But spending may well top that. In 2006, €102.4 million ($132 million) had been allocated for CFSP-related actions; a 2007 budget proposal, tabled in early May 2006, calls for about €159.2 million ($204 million).

Although the EU annually revisits the amount of the CFSP budget that will go toward nonproliferation and disarmament, previous spending has averaged about 10 percent. This includes funds spent on so-called Joint Actions, which have been used, for example, to support the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

* Dollar figures are given at current exchange rates.

 

 

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