I salute the Arms Control Association … for its keen vision of the goals ahead and for its many efforts to identify and to promote practical measures that are so vitally needed to achieve them. -

– Amb. Nobuyasu Abe
Former UN Undersecretary General for Disarmament Affairs
January 28, 2004
June 2006
Edition Date: 
Thursday, June 1, 2006
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States Agree on BWC Conference Agenda

Michael Nguyen

States-parties to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) have agreed to an agenda for the treaty’s review conference this fall that will include an article-by-article review of the convention. They also left open the possibility of continuing the recent practice of scheduling intersessional meetings between this review conference and the next one, anticipated in 2011.

Seventy-eight states-parties to the treaty banning the development, production, and stockpiling of biological weapons met April 26-28 in Geneva, Switzerland, to resolve several procedural matters, including the dates of the review conference and the adoption of its agenda. The review conference will take place Nov. 20–Dec. 8. in Geneva and will be the convention’s sixth since its entry into force in 1975. Ambassador Masood Khan of Pakistan was selected as the preparatory committee’s chairman and was nominated to be president of the review conference.

Working by consensus, the preparatory committee sought to adopt an agenda while sidestepping the issue of continued U.S. resistance to the negotiation of a verification protocol to the treaty. During the last review conference in 2001, the United States had announced that it would not support the work of the Ad Hoc Group, which had been negotiating such a protocol. (See ACT, January/February 2002.)

According to observers at the preparatory meeting, almost all states-parties tried to avoid antagonizing the United States, and most states-parties were willing to set aside the discussion of verification issues. At the same time, the United States did not move to end the Ad Hoc Group’s mandate, which is technically still in effect. However, the group has not met since prior to the 2001 review conference.

During the April meeting, the states-parties used the previous review conference’s agenda as a base text. According to U.S. and non-U.S. observers, all of the parties except Iran readily agreed on a set of changes for this year’s agenda that removed some explicit references to the work of the Ad Hoc Group and verification. But Iran was unable to get support for its position from any other states-parties, including those that continued to support the negotiation of a verification protocol.

In the end, the states-parties adopted an agenda that reflected the U.S. desire not to revisit the issue of verification.

The agenda makes no explicit reference to the intersessional work program adopted in 2002. But Richard Lennane, the secretary of the preparatory committee, said that states-parties could address the findings of those meetings during the article-by-article review or by using a procedural mechanism in the agenda. States-parties could also use the procedural mechanism to propose additional intersessional meetings, Lennane said.

Based on the limited number of statements from states-parties, it is clear that there is strong interest in continuing the series of meetings, even if it is not clear at this point what the future topics of those meetings might be.

Many delegations welcomed the adoption of an agenda especially after the problems that plagued the 2005 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference. The failure of the NPT preparatory committee to adopt an agenda paralyzed the NPT review conference for nearly a week while the states-parties worked to adopt an agenda and address other procedural matters. (See ACT, June 2005.)

“There were three positive outcomes from the meeting,” said Lennane. In addition to the adoption of the agenda, the states-parties agreed that the conference would last a full three weeks and ordered the preparation of three additional background papers to serve as a basis of common understandings.

Three weeks would be enough time to “allow the conference to conduct a full and thorough review of the convention,” Lennane said. In addition, the papers would detail developments in other international organizations and compile the additional understandings reached at previous review conferences. “We won’t have to reinvent the wheel again,” he said.

Some question, however, whether the convention is enough to address the rapidly changing life sciences field. A May 2 UN report from Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for “a forum that will bring together the various stakeholders” in government, industry, academia, and public health to address the issue of biological terrorism. Such a forum would be better able to manage the threat from nonstate actors, the report said.

During the 2005 annual meetings, the BWC states-parties addressed the issue of codes of conduct for the life sciences, but the UN report called this effort and those by various national and international organizations and professional unions “diffuse.” (See ACT, January/February 2006.) According to the report, “[t]he approach to fighting the abuse of biotechnology for terrorist purposes will have more in common with measures against cybercrime than with the work to control nuclear proliferation.”


IAEA Raises New Questions on Iran Program

Paul Kerr

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) continues to investigate questions about Iran’s nuclear file, specifically Tehran’s incomplete and inconsistent accounting of its uranium-enrichment and plutonium-separation activities. But an April 28 report from agency Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei also says that Tehran’s February decision to decrease inspectors’ access to its nuclear-related facilities is impeding the agency’s ability to investigate and monitor Iran’s nuclear programs.

ElBaradei said “gaps remain” in the agency’s knowledge of “the scope and content” of Iran’s enrichment program. Consequently, the IAEA is “unable to make progress in its efforts to provide assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran.”

ElBaradei also indicated that Tehran has continued work on its nuclear programs in defiance of a March UN Security Council presidential statement. That nonbinding measure urged Tehran to resolve concerns about its nuclear activities and suspend work on its uranium-enrichment program. Instead, Tehran has announced additional progress on the program.

Tehran has indicated that it might comply with some of the Security Council’s requests. The IAEA received a letter from Iran April 27 stating that the country is “prepared to resolve the remaining outstanding issues in accordance with the international laws and norms.” Iran also pledged to provide a timetable for compliance within the “next three weeks,” the letter added. However, as of May 23, Tehran did not appear to have done so.

Iran’s offer also appears to have been conditional. The letter said Tehran would comply, “provided that Iran’s nuclear dossier will remain, in full, in the framework of the IAEA and under its safeguards.”

Since ElBaradei issued his report to the Security Council and the IAEA Board of Governors, the five permanent Security Council members, as well as Germany, have been attempting to devise a response to Iran’s lack of cooperation.

Investigation Continues; Iran’s Cooperation Lags

The March presidential statement instructed ElBaradei to report within 30 days on Tehran’s progress in complying with a February IAEA board resolution. That resolution had called on Iran to take a series of steps, such as fully cooperating with the IAEA investigation and resuming suspension of its gas centrifuge-based uranium-enrichment program. (See ACT, March 2006.)

Iran had agreed to suspend the program in November 2004 as part of an agreement governing its negotiations with France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Those negotiations ended when Iran restarted its uranium-conversion facility in August 2005. The country resumed work on its centrifuge program in January.

Gas centrifuges enrich uranium by spinning uranium hexafluoride gas at very high speeds in order to increase the concentration of the uranium-235 isotope. They can produce both low-enriched uranium, which can be used in nuclear reactors, and highly enriched uranium (HEU), which can be used in certain types of nuclear reactors and as fissile material in nuclear weapons. Uranium-conversion facilities convert lightly processed uranium ore into several compounds, including uranium hexafluoride.

Iran notified the agency April 13 that it had enriched uranium to 3.6 percent uranium-235, ElBaradei’s report says, adding that subsequent samples taken by the IAEA “tend to confirm” Tehran’s claim. Vice President Gholamreza Aghazadeh, who also heads Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said subsequently that Iran had produced uranium containing 4.8 percent uranium-235, the semi-official Islamic Students News Agency (ISNA) reported May 2. (See ACT, May 2006.)

Iran used uranium hexafluoride imported from China for its initial enrichment tests but has since used indigenously produced feedstock, an unnamed Iranian official told ISNA May 19. Iran has produced 110 tons of the material since September 2005, ElBaradei reported.

Tehran has had difficulty producing uranium hexafluoride of sufficient purity, but sources told Arms Control Today in March that the country’s conversion capabilities appear to be improving. Uranium hexafluoride with high levels of contaminants can corrode centrifuges when used as feedstock.

The presidential statement also called on Iran to reconsider its construction of a heavy-water reactor, but Tehran is continuing work on the project. The IAEA is concerned that it may use the reactor under construction to produce plutonium, which can be used as fissile material in nuclear weapons.

Additionally, the statement said that Iran should ratify its additional protocol to its IAEA safeguards agreement and resume acting in accordance with the protocol in the meantime. Tehran has signed the protocol, which augments the IAEA’s authority to investigate possible clandestine nuclear programs, but has not ratified it.

IAEA safeguards agreements, which are required under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), allow the agency to monitor NPT states-parties’ declared civilian nuclear activities to ensure they are not diverted to military purposes. Iran has continued to abide by its safeguards agreement.

Tehran had been implementing its additional protocol, even though it was not in force. It ended this cooperation in February. Iran began in January to scale back IAEA monitoring at centrifuge-related facilities.

ElBaradei reported that “ Iran’s decision to cease implementing” the protocol means that the IAEA’s ability to investigate and monitor Tehran’s nuclear programs “will be further limited.”

Iran Has Issues

Despite Iran’s diminished cooperation, ElBaradei’s report does contain some new information about Tehran’s nuclear activities.

Uranium Enrichment

The IAEA is investigating the origins of newly discovered HEU particles that investigators believe may indicate previously undisclosed Iranian enrichment research. According to press reports, IAEA inspectors found HEU particles on equipment purchased by a physics research center located at the Lavizan-Shian site. Asked about these reports, a diplomatic source in Vienna close to the IAEA told Arms Control Today May 12 that there is “something there.”

The research center’s role in Iran’s nuclear program has been a matter of concern because the center had been connected to the Iranian Ministry of Defense.

IAEA officials in January first asked to take environmental samples from “high vacuum equipment” purchased by a former head of the research center. ElBaradei’s report does not say how the agency learned of the equipment, but past IAEA reports suggest that Iran did not provide the information. Such equipment can be used in centrifuge operations.

The amount and origin of uranium-235 contained in the newly discovered HEU is unclear. Some HEU particles previously found in Iran were enriched to 36 percent uranium-235 and others to 54 percent uranium-235. HEU used as fissile material typically contains approximately 90 percent uranium-235. Past IAEA test results had indicated that the HEU particles came from imported centrifuge components.

The origin of the enriched uranium particles has long been a matter of interest because their presence suggests that Tehran may have either imported or produced undeclared enriched uranium. The country has only admitted to enriching uranium to very low levels.

The IAEA also is analyzing environmental samples taken from other dual-use equipment acquired by the research center at Lavizan-Shian.

ElBaradei reported that despite Iran’s promises to provide “further clarifications” regarding these procurement activities, the IAEA has not yet received the relevant information. “Further access to the procured equipment is necessary for environmental sampling,” he added.

Iran has also not provided any additional information about its efforts to obtain centrifuge materials and equipment, ElBaradei reported. The IAEA believes that Tehran may be withholding relevant documentation about those efforts. The agency is also concerned that Iran may have conducted undisclosed work on its P-1 and P-2 centrifuge programs.

Arguing that these issues were not covered by its safeguards agreement, Iranian officials would not discuss the matter during February and April meetings with the IAEA.

The agency has also asked Iran to “clarify” reports suggesting that the country has conducted research on more-advanced P-2 centrifuges. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reportedly said in April that Iran has conducted such research, but Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hamidreza Asefi subsequently denied it was doing so.

Iran told the IAEA that it has not conducted work on the P-2 centrifuge program since 2003.


The IAEA has also not yet resolved inconsistencies in Iran’s accounts of its plutonium-separation experiments. ElBaradei’s February report had indicated that the IAEA found evidence suggesting that Tehran produced plutonium that it had not disclosed to the agency.

Iran has provided additional information in an attempt to clarify the matter. Most recently, an April 17 letter “reaffirmed [ Tehran’s] previous explanations of the inconsistencies,” according to ElBaradei’s report. No further detail was disclosed.

ElBaradei said the IAEA “cannot exclude the possibility” that Iran has failed to disclose relevant plutonium production to the agency.


NEWS ANALYSIS: Behind Iran's Diplomatic Behavior

Paul Kerr

Ever since the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) uncovered Iran’s previously covert nuclear activities in 2003, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom (later backed by the United States) have attempted to persuade Iran to give up its uranium-enrichment program through a carrot-and-stick approach. This has combined the threat of punitive UN Security Council actions with the promise that Tehran would receive economic and political benefits if it complied with the West’s demands.

An examination of the Iranian leadership’s public statements and negotiating behavior, along with interviews with Iranian officials, indicate that this approach has successfully encouraged some Iranian compromises. The West has extracted some concessions from Tehran by exploiting the regime’s fears of the economic and political risks associated with further international isolation.

But during the past 10 months, Tehran has become more recalcitrant, a trend that has coincided with the diminished clout of Iranian officials more supportive of international engagement and the rise of those more inclined to advocate aggressive negotiating tactics. These domestic political changes occurred as an altered geopolitical landscape arguably decreased the credibility of Security Council threats.

If current trends continue, the international community may well be hard-pressed to persuade Iran’s policymakers that the risks of pursuing a uranium-enrichment exceed the rewards.

A Tangled Nuclear History

Iran and Isolation

Since the current Islamic regime came to power in 1979, the relationship between Tehran and the West has been characterized by mutual distrust and antagonism.

This distrust has interfered with Iran’s efforts to obtain nuclear technology. For example, France refused to provide enriched uranium to Iran after the revolution despite the fact that Tehran still held a substantial interest in the French Eurodif uranium-enrichment plant. (See ACT, January/February 2006.)

Mistrust from this episode apparently continues to animate Iranian diplomacy. A senior Iranian diplomat told Arms Control Today in April that the Eurodif venture, as well as other past Western efforts to constrain its nuclear program, have led the regime to believe that it cannot trust foreign nuclear fuel suppliers.

Moreover, Iranian officials claim that Iran obtained its enrichment technology from a clandestine procurement network because the United States had persuaded other countries to refrain from selling such technology to Iran.[1]

Nonetheless, in the decade leading up to the nuclear crisis, Iran’s relations with the West, particularly western Europe, had been improving. These ties were bolstered because Iran’s previous president, Mohammad Khatami, was perceived as a relative moderate with his call for a “dialogue among civilizations.” Some powerful Iranian politicians, as well as a large segment of the Iranian population, clearly supported the continuation of this trend, which was threatened by the 2003 revelations of Iran’s secret uranium-enrichment and related facilities.

Nuclear Crisis Hits

During the months following the initial public revelations of Iran’s nuclear programs, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom were able to use Tehran’s fear of international isolation to induce its cooperation.

Shortly after the IAEA began its investigation of Iran’s nuclear activities, the three European countries offered, in exchange for several Iranian concessions, to begin negotiations with Iran aimed at resolving concerns regarding its nuclear programs. In addition, the Europeans threatened to support the Bush administration’s efforts to persuade the IAEA Board of Governors to refer Iran to the UN Security Council if Tehran refused to cooperate.[2]

Iran agreed in October 2003 to suspend its uranium-enrichment activities, ratify an additional protocol to its IAEA safeguards agreement, and cooperate with the agency’s investigation of its nuclear activities.[3]

Then-secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Hassan Rowhani, who was in charge of Tehran’s nuclear diplomacy, said that at the time Iran feared the United States intended to push the council to adopt resolutions similar to those directed at Iraq prior to the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Washington wanted UN inspectors to be “given unrestricted access to [relevant] installations, facilities and individuals,” he wrote in a July 2005 report to then-President Khatami, adding that “Iran’s refusal to abide by such resolutions” would have resulted in “subsequent threats followed by military action.” Tehran also believed that the U.S. agenda extended beyond the nuclear issue. Rowhani told a group of senior Iranian officials in 2004 that the “Americans intend to use the lever of the UN Security Council to solve all of their problems with us,” such as Iran’s support for terrorist organizations.

Within months of its agreement with its European interlocutors, Iran began to test the limits of Western diplomatic resolve by chipping away at its promised suspension of its uranium-enrichment activity. The Europeans again threatened to refer the matter to the Security Council. Once more, Tehran yielded, agreeing in November 2004 to adhere to a broader suspension while the two sides negotiated an agreement that was to provide “objective guarantees” that Iran’s nuclear program would be used “exclusively for peaceful purposes.”

Rowhani indicated that Tehran was influenced by unified international opposition to its enrichment program, arguing that if any of the “powerful countries” had supported the program, Iran “would have had an easier time” proceeding.

During its subsequent discussions with the Europeans, Iran presented several compromise proposals, including a January 2005 paper describing Iran’s willingness to negotiate about a range of issues, such as terrorism and Persian Gulf regional security.

Iran later offered to implement several measures intended to provide assurances of its peaceful nuclear intentions, although Tehran consistently signaled its intention to restart its conversion facility to produce uranium hexafluoride feedstock for centrifuges.

A March 2005 proposal described several mechanisms designed to limit the enrichment program’s proliferation potential. These included limiting the initial operation of the Natanz enrichment facility to 3,000 centrifuges, limiting the uranium-235 content of the enriched uranium, and “allowing continuous on-site presence of IAEA inspectors” at Iran’s centrifuge and conversion facilities.[4] 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 offered further compromises in subsequent proposals, although all of them would have allowed for some uranium-enrichment activity, which was steadfastly opposed by the Europeans and the United States. For example, Iran offered in April to allow IAEA monitoring at its uranium-conversion facility, to begin at an earlier time than previously offered. A July 2005 letter from Rowhani to the Europeans indicated that Iran would agree to operate a lower number of centrifuges during the Natanz facility’s initial operation. The letter also said that Iran would suspend industrial-scale enrichment at Natanz for approximately 10 years.[5]

However, the talks ended in August 2005 after Iran rejected a proposal from the Europeans that offered Iran an array of economic, technical, and security incentives, as well as an assured supply of nuclear fuel, in return for giving up its enrichment facilities. Tehran also broke the November 2004 agreement by restarting its uranium-conversion facility.

These actions took place as Iran’s new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, took office after having been elected in June.

The senior Iranian diplomat said in April that the proposal was “insulting” and showed the Europeans to be unreliable negotiating partners. Stating that the Europeans had not seriously considered Iran’s compromise offers, he pointed out that the European proposal would have required Tehran to give up its enrichment program, a demand that was not an explicit part of the November 2004 agreement. Iran has also complained that the Europeans’ offer required Iran to make short-term concrete concessions in return for vague promises of future rewards.

The diplomat also criticized the United States, arguing that Washington “cast a long shadow” over the talks. U.S. pressure to maintain a hard-line stance dissuaded the Europeans from compromising with Iran, he said.

Although Iranian officials emphasized at the time that these decisions were made by consensus, Rowhani said in a speech in April that he had disagreed with this decision. Had the Europeans responded to Iran’s proposals earlier, he said, the two sides could have reached an agreement.

After the Dog Catches the Car: Security Council Diplomacy

Although both sides have repeatedly expressed their willingness to negotiate, Iran has not been willing to suspend its centrifuge program, the Europeans’ condition for resuming negotiations. The IAEA board finally referred Iran to the Security Council in February. (See ACT, March 2006.) The council issued a nonbinding statement in March that called on Iran to suspend its uranium-enrichment program and resume negotiations with the Europeans. So far, Iran has refused to do so.

Both sides believe that aggressive negotiating tactics have been successful in extracting concessions. Each faction also has reason to believe that time is on its side. Iran continues to say that it wants to resume negotiations, but it is not clear whether and to what extent Iran is truly prepared to compromise.

However, some Iranian officials are concerned that Iran’s intransigence has come at a cost and has put Iran in diplomatic jeopardy. In a letter to Time magazine published May 10, Rowhani expressed concern that the Security Council could impose sanctions and “even use of force” on Tehran. In a speech the previous month, he argued that the Ahmadinejad government’s more aggressive approach had yielded “some success” but at “a heavy price,” citing the growing international consensus against Iran’s enrichment program.

View From Tehran: Things Are Looking Up

Nevertheless, three trends suggest that Iran will continue to take a tough line. First, Iran likely perceives itself still to be in a relatively strong bargaining position. Second, Tehran is skeptical that its attempts at compromise will be rewarded. Third, Iran’s internal political dynamics appear to be moving away from, rather than toward, compromise.

It is widely believed that Iran’s bargaining position has improved since 2003. For example, the continued insurgency in Iraq may have decreased the United States’ ability to initiate military action against Iran. The increase in oil prices during the past year has likely reduced the Security Council’s willingness to impose sanctions on Iraqi oil exports and increased Tehran’s ability to withstand sanctions in other areas.

Additionally, Tehran has continued to make progress on its enrichment program, providing the regime with another potential source of bargaining leverage. Since last fall, Iran has resumed work at its pilot centrifuge facility, produced enriched uranium, and continued to produce uranium hexafluoride.

A May 18 statement from official Iranian radio claimed that Iran’s technical progress has already enabled Iran to extract concessions from its European negotiating partners. Prior to August 2005, the Europeans had insisted that Iran would have to give up its uranium-conversion facility as part of any final agreement. The Europeans, however, have backed off that demand since Iran restarted the facility. (See ACT, December 2005.)

Iranian officials have previously argued that Iran should use its technological achievements as bargaining leverage. Rowhani asserted in 2004 that the international community typically puts “pressure on a country that is standing on the threshold” of being able to enrich uranium. But if that country developed the technology, he said, “it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to continue the pressure.”

Iran’s Suspicions

Ever since President George W. Bush labeled Iran as part of the “axis of evil” in his 2002 State of the Union address, his administration has made clear its desire to see the clerical regime replaced. Washington also has continued to articulate its differences with Tehran on a range of non-nuclear issues and recently boosted its support for the democratic opposition in Iran.

Therefore, Iran continues to suspect the United States of using the nuclear issue as a pretext for increasing international pressure on the regime.

Indeed, Tehran fears that Washington will view any Iranian nuclear compromises as a sign of weakness and an opportunity to extract additional concessions. For this reason, Iran has balked at taking even temporary steps, such as a renewed suspension of its enrichment program, the Iranian diplomat said.

Additionally, the threat of Security Council action may now be dissuading Iran from undertaking IAEA-requested confidence-building measures that go beyond the government’s safeguards obligations, the diplomat added. Tehran has complied with some of these measures but is wary of participating in what Iran views as a potentially open-ended process that could lead to punitive Security Council actions similar to those taken against Iraq.

The Correct Negotiating Partner

Bush administration officials, such as national security adviser Stephen Hadley, have indicated that the international community can exploit differences within the Iranian leadership by maintaining pressure on Tehran. But such a strategy could prove difficult to execute.

On one hand, there are divisions within the Iranian leadership regarding the regime’s diplomatic tactics. Indeed, both Rowhani’s 2005 report and 2004 speech describe intense debates about diplomatic strategies and tactics. It seems clear that some Iranian leaders perceive international isolation more costly than do others.

However, pro-engagement Iranian officials have already been “discredited” by the Europeans’ rejection of Tehran’s 2005 offers, Farideh Farhi, an expert in Iranian politics, told Arms Control Today May 23. The Iranian diplomat concurred. This rejection demonstrated to more hard-line Iranian officials that compromise was ineffective and only signaled weakness, he said.



1. This claim was contained in Rowhani’s July 2005 report. For example, China decided in 1997 under U.S. pressure to cancel its agreement to supply Iran with a uranium-conversion facility. The United States also persuaded Russia during the 1990s to cancel a proposed sale of uranium-enrichment technology to Iran. Interestingly, the CIA in 1997 assessed that Iran was “responding to Western counterproliferation efforts by relying more on legitimate commercial firms as procurement fronts and by developing more convoluted procurement networks.”

2. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards agreements, which are required under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), allow the agency to monitor NPT states-parties’ declared civilian nuclear activities to ensure they are not diverted to military purposes. Under the IAEA statute, the agency Board of Governors is required to notify the Security Council if a member state is found in noncompliance with its safeguards agreement.

3. 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. Iran has signed but not ratified its protocol. However, Iran still implemented the agreement pending ratification. Iran stopped adhering to the agreement in February. (See ACT, May 2006.)

4. Iran has a pilot centrifuge facility at Natanz and is constructing a much larger commercial facility at the same site. Tehran has said that the pilot and commercial facilities will eventually contain approximately 1,000 and 50,000 centrifuges, respectively.

5. Rowhani’s letter, a copy of which was obtained by Arms Control Today, stated that “[n]egotiations for the full scale operation” of the centrifuge facility “would continue on the premise that it would be synchronized with the fuel requirements” of a European or Russian-supplied nuclear reactor—a period of approximately 10 years, the Iranian diplomat said.


Small Arms, Large Problem: The International Threat of Small Arms Proliferation and Misuse

Matt Schroeder and Rachel Stohl

The illicit proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons[1] ranks among today’s most pressing security threats. Tens of thousands of people are killed or wounded each year in conflicts that are fought primarily with these weapons and in crime-ridden areas outside of conflict zones. They are also the weapons of choice for many terrorists. Approximately half of the international terrorist incidents documented in the 2003 Department of State report on global terrorism were perpetrated with small arms and light weapons.

Governments will gather in New York during June 26-July 7 to address this danger and mark the five-year anniversary of the inaugural UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. That conference resulted in an international Program of Action (PoA) on small arms and light weapons, the first comprehensive global agreement on such arms. Despite its limitations, the PoA has boosted international efforts to stem the uncontrolled proliferation and misuse of these deadly weapons. These efforts include increasing the number of signatories to relevant treaties, drafting best practice guidelines, destroying surplus stockpiles, strengthening national laws, and heightening awareness of the issue. Progress has been pronounced in certain areas. Particularly noteworthy is the U.S.-led global campaign to eradicate the illicit trade in Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS).[2]

Yet, there is still much more to be done. Reports of lost, stolen, and diverted small arms and light weapons are daily reminders of the continued prevalence of weak export controls, poor stockpile security practices, and inadequate or nonexistent border security. Particularly disheartening are arms shipments to war zones and dictators. Since 2001, UN investigators have documented numerous violations of arms embargoes on governments and armed groups in Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Somalia.

Reining in the illicit trade requires a global recommitment to implementing the PoA. Thus far, implementation has been very uneven. Some countries have fulfilled most of their obligations, while others have yet to satisfy even the most basic requirements. The review conference is an opportunity to systematically assess implementation of the PoA to date, identify shortcomings in national and international implementation, and develop a road map—formal or informal—for addressing these shortcomings. Taking full advantage of this opportunity requires that member states avoid the pitfalls of consensus decision-making and follow through on commitments made during the conference.

A Growing International Awareness, 1995-2006

The UN Small Arms Conference

During the 1990s, the gruesome intrastate wars that ravaged many developing countries were fought primarily with small arms and light weapons. In Rwanda, nearly a million people were massacred in less than a month by genocidaires armed with machetes and protected by AK-47-wielding soldiers. In Liberia, a civil war lasting more than a decade and fought primarily with small arms and light weapons took the lives of 250,000 people and displaced nearly half the population. These and other equally horrific examples led to the convening of a 1996 UN Panel of Governmental Experts to develop an agenda for addressing the excessive and destabilizing accumulations of small arms. The panel produced a report and recommended that the United Nations hold an international conference on the issue.

A similar expert panel three years later developed a loosely coordinated UN agenda on small arms. As part of this agenda, the United Nations has taken up the issue of small arms proliferation at the UN Security Council and in the UN General Assembly.[3] In addition, the UN secretary-general produces annual reports on small arms, and the Security Council has imposed arms embargoes, which include the prohibition of small arms and light weapons transfers.

Regional initiatives in the late 1990s also helped set priorities and develop standards and norms. Among them were the 1997 Organization of American States (OAS) Firearms Convention and the complementary Model Regulations, which seek to reduce small arms trafficking in the Western Hemisphere. In addition, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) drafted a Document on Small Arms and Light Weapons in 2000 that contained export criteria for small arms transfers.

The most intense efforts came at the UN Small Arms Conference, which was held in New York during July 9-20, 2001. Its primary purpose was to consolidate and coordinate small arms initiatives and develop an action agenda. Negotiations at the conference were tense and at times acrimonious. Then-Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton set the stage with a forceful opening-day speech that bluntly outlined U.S. “redlines,” those issues that were off limits for discussion. Although every country has redlines, the tone and starkness of Bolton’s speech alienated many member states.[4]

Particularly contentious were the issues of limiting arms to nonstate actors, norms and standards on civilian possession of weapons, restrictions on the legal trade and manufacture of small arms, and follow-up processes aimed at negotiating legally binding treaties. When the PoA was finalized, all references to nonstate actors, civilian possession, and legally binding treaties had been removed. The United States was the most vocal in its opposition, but it was not alone. China, Cuba, and other states silently supported the positions that the United States publicly advocated.

Although many debates were acrimonious, the member states were able to agree on a wide variety of issues. The resulting agenda for action contains recommendations for government action at the national, regional, and global levels. It is significant for several reasons, primarily because it establishes a global action plan on small arms that all UN members have agreed to implement. It also has several limitations. It is voluntary (politically rather than legally binding), has no enforcement mechanism, and is riddled with ambiguous language and vague requirements. For these and other reasons, implementation of the PoA varies widely. Below is a brief overview of the 10 “pillars” called for in the PoA and their implementation.

National Points of Contact and Coordination Agencies

Establishing agencies to coordinate policy and research on the illicit small arms trade and identifying points of contact to liaise between these national agencies is the most basic and the easiest to implement of the pillars. Yet, as of May 2005, only 143 out of more than 190 UN member states had designated national points of contact, and just 79 had established national coordination mechanisms.[5] These numbers represent a significant improvement from 2003, but they still fall far short of the universal compliance that it is not unreasonable to expect five years after the UN conference. Furthermore, several entries on the United Nations’ National Points of Contact list are incomplete or out of date, reducing the utility of this list.

Legislation, Regulations, and Administrative Procedures

A clear, comprehensive set of laws, regulations, and administrative procedures that covers all aspects of the manufacture, transport, storage, transfer, and disposal of small arms and light weapons is a prerequisite to an effective national response to their illicit proliferation and misuse. Roughly three-quarters of UN member states have laws and procedures controlling the import of small arms, about two-thirds control production, and less than one-half control the transit of small arms through their territories.[6] Because arms traffickers are experts at identifying and shifting their operations to countries with lax or nonexistent controls, these legal gaps are problematic.

Criminalization Regimes

Because governments cannot lock up gun runners if their activities are not criminal offenses, the PoA requires that member states outlaw the unauthorized manufacture, possession, stockpiling, and trade of small arms and light weapons. Yet, many countries still have not criminalized some or all of the activities identified in the PoA. Only about three-quarters of UN member states have laws and procedures that criminalize the illicit possession of small arms, and only two-thirds criminalize the illicit manufacture and trade of these weapons.[7]

Stockpile Management and Security

Proper management of national small arms stockpiles is also essential to curbing the illicit trade. Physical security and stockpile management practices vary significantly from country to country. Some governments go to great lengths to secure their small arms and light weapons, while the control exercised by other governments is tenuous at best.

Too little is known about many national practices to systematically assess progress in this area since 2001. Yet, anecdotal evidence from the press, government officials and UN reports, and data compiled by civil society suggest there is still much room for improvement. Since 2001, there have been several disturbing accounts of egregiously poor practices and a steady stream of reported thefts and diversions from government arsenals. Furthermore, the 2005 study found that only 99 governments have “standards and procedures for the management and security of stockpiles,” and only 64 claim that they conduct “regular reviews of stocks.”[8]

Internationally, concern over the dangers posed by poor stockpile management spurred the development of best practice guides and the establishment of several national and multilateral assistance programs. In 2003 the OSCE published a detailed guide to stockpile management and security and began providing advice and assistance on stockpile security and management to member states, starting with Belarus and Tajikistan. Some countries also provide assistance on a bilateral basis. Since 2000, a small team at the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency has completed such assessment and orientation missions in more than 24 countries.[9]

Weapons Collection and Disposal

Stockpiles of surplus and obsolete small arms and light weapons are attractive targets for arms traffickers, who often acquire them from corrupt or unsuspecting government officials. The vast Cold War stockpiles in eastern Europe have been particularly exploited, as evidenced by recent transfers to countries under UN arms embargoes. For example, small arms shipments from Ukraine to western Africa in 1999 and 2000 added 180 tons of assault rifles, machine guns, MANPADS, anti-tank missiles, and ammunition to the arsenals of former Liberian president Charles Taylor’s rogue regime and the Revolutionary United Front, an insurgent group that gained control of Sierra Leone’s diamond mines through a campaign of rape and mutilation.[10]

Since 2001, donor states have teamed up with several countries in eastern Europe, Latin America, and elsewhere to destroy surplus stockpiles of small arms and light weapons. These programs rank among today’s most important and cost effective aid programs. In the past five years alone, NATO countries have funded the destruction of more than 4.5 million small arms and light weapons.[11] Similarly, a modestly funded State Department program has destroyed more than 800,000 surplus weapons, including 18,500 MANPADS, and 80 million rounds of ammunition.[12] Despite its obvious importance, the program received only $8.6 million in funding for the current fiscal year, which is little more than “decimal dust,” to use the words of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).[13]

Export, Import, and Transfer Controls and Regulations

Preventing illicit arms transfers requires the adoption of policies, procedures, and practices aimed at controlling their import, export, transit, retransfer, and end use. These controls range from arms export eligibility criteria—the factors considered by governments when determining whether to authorize a particular transfer—to post-shipment monitoring of exported items. Several spectacular diversions of small arms to terrorists and war zones since 2001 are directly attributable to shortcomings in national transfer controls. In 2001, the Nicaraguan government’s failure to verify the legitimacy of a (fraudulent) Panamanian purchase order supplied by a crooked arms broker resulted in the diversion of 3,000 AK-47 assault rifles to Colombian narco-terrorists.[14]

There has been a flurry of multilateral activity on transfer controls over the past five years. Members of regional and international institutions have adopted several new multilateral agreements and have indicated their support for the creation of new agreements. At the global level, entry into force of the firearms protocol to the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime in July 2005 was an important milestone in the campaign to universalize strong transfer controls. The protocol requires states-parties to adopt a variety of controls on the manufacture, storage, transportation, and transfer of firearms.

As of April 2006, 52 countries had signed the protocol, and 49 countries had ratified it. Also significant is the expansion of the UN Conventional Arms Register to include mortars between 75 and 100 millimeters in size and MANPADS. The register is a voluntary arrangement that increases transparency in the international arms trade by encouraging states to submit annual reports on their arms imports and exports, as well as their national holdings and procurement. Prior to the addition of mortars and MANPADS in 2003, the register only covered large weapon systems such as planes, tanks, and ships.

Also significant is the burgeoning international movement for a common set of arms export criteria, or global principles, that would elaborate states’ existing responsibilities under international law. The largest and most visible initiative is the Control Arms Campaign, the ultimate goal of which is an arms trade treaty that “would have at its heart a set of common core principles to regulate and control the international arms trade.”[15] The movement has been embraced by at least 42 governments and nearly a million individuals worldwide.

Although critically important, many of these agreements have significant limitations. They lack monitoring and enforcement mechanisms, leaving the identification, documentation, and punishment of noncompliance to individual member states. Implementation is also slowed by resource limitations. Effectively controlling land borders, seaports, and air space requires trained personnel and functioning equipment, both of which are in short supply in many developing countries. Finally, many states are not bound by the agreements, either because they are not members of the regional organizations through which the agreements were negotiated or because they simply have not ratified them.


The term “brokering” refers to the myriad administrative, logistical, and financial activities associated with international arms transfers. These activities range from acquiring end-user certificates to arranging for the transport of the weapons to the recipient. Arms brokering is an underregulated area in the international community; only 40 countries have some form of arms brokering legislation.[16] The resulting gaps and inconsistencies are exploited by illicit arms brokers, who shift their operations to the areas with the weakest laws and the least oversight.

Regional agreements, obligations under the PoA, and pressure from civil society are all aiding in the development of national brokering laws and international brokering standards. For example, the European Parliament passed a resolution in 2001 calling for an international treaty on arms brokering and the appointment of a group of states to facilitate such a process. In 2002 it also adopted a common position on brokering that requires the development of legal controls on brokers and the establishment of penalties for violations of these controls. This was an important step in developing regional brokering standards and harmonizing national practices in Europe. Similarly, in 2003, both the Wassenaar Arrangement and the OSCE created guidelines and best practices on arms brokering, and the OAS developed its own Model Regulations for firearms brokers.

The PoA addresses brokering in its follow-up section, which calls for an exploration of ways to develop stricter international controls on brokering. A UN Group of Governmental Experts will begin a formalized process after the 2006 review conference. Meanwhile, some nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have called for a legally binding international convention on brokering that requires registration and licensing of brokers, criminal penalties for violators, and systems for international cooperation.[17]

Marking, Tracing, and Record-keeping

Without a universal system to mark weapons at the point of production, import, transshipment, and export, it is extremely difficult for law enforcement to track the route of black market weapons accurately and determine how to stop more weapons from following the same route. Thus, some states are seeking to develop marking and tracing regimes that require placing specialized markings on each weapon.

Regional and international institutions have attempted to develop marking and tracing regimes, but to date, little progress has been made. The marking of small arms is, to an extent, covered in the UN firearms protocol, but loopholes and the slow pace of ratification have weakened the effort to develop a single universal system.

The PoA required a feasibility study on the development of an international instrument on marking and tracing. Thus, in June 2005 a UN working group drafted a nonbinding document that established minimum standards for marking small arms and light weapons and an international procedural mechanism for tracing illicit weapons. However, the agreement is actually weaker than many national and regional standards. Some NGOs are calling for a legally binding treaty and have created a model convention on marking and tracing.[18]

Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration of Ex-combatants

Effective disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) programs are essential to limiting future proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons. When implemented properly, DDR programs reduce the number of illicit weapons in circulation and provide opportunities for former combatants to pursue a livelihood in areas other than soldiering. In many cases, programs provide incentives such as cash, goods, or skills training in exchange for weapons.

The PoA encourages states to develop and implement DDR programs that include small arms collection, control, storage, and destruction and, if states have the capacity to do so, to support DDR programs in other countries. The World Bank has a multinational program that coordinates DDR programs throughout the Great Lakes region of Africa, the goal of which is to develop programs for up to 350,000 ex-combatants in nine countries.[19] Since the 2001 conference, high-profile DDR programs have been established in Afghanistan and Sierra Leone. In Afghanistan, donor governments, such as Japan, helped to pay the $100 million tab for disarming approximately 63,000 former combatants, decommissioning 250 former militia units, and providing reintegration packages to 53,000 ex-combatants.

Assistance and International Cooperation

One of the major themes in the PoA is the need for cooperation at the national, regional, and international levels to develop best practices and strategies for addressing small arms proliferation and misuse. Without systematic cooperation, intelligence sharing, and assistance, the PoA and other small arms measures will not be effectively implemented, as the small arms problem is multifaceted and transnational.

As of May 2005, at least 22 states had provided financial or technical assistance for small arms projects in other countries.[20] As mentioned above, the United States provides millions of dollars each year to help countries secure small arms stockpiles and destroy surplus and obsolete weapons and provides substantial export control training and tracing assistance to more than 30 countries. Similarly, Australia, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom provide significant financial support for stockpile security and destruction programs. Also encouraging is the emergence of regional leaders such as Pakistan, Thailand, and South Africa, which have established programs aimed at, for example, the disarmament of ex-combatants in neighboring countries.[21]

Regional organizations and multilateral agencies have also provided support for the creation and implementation of small arms programs. For example the UN Development Program and the Stability Pact established the South East Europe Small Arms Clearinghouse to assist countries in that region with border control, legislative and regulatory issues, the collection and destruction of illicit and surplus small arms, and stockpile management. Other regional organizations, such as the OSCE, the European Union, and NATO also have elaborate small arms assistance programs.

Review Conference

The agenda for this summer’s review conference is still being drafted. Negotiations continue on the scope and language of a proposed outcome document for the meeting, which is currently being prepared through informal UN consultations supplemented by a number of planned regional consultations.

Some states, such as members of the EU, hope that the conference will be an opportunity to supplement, elaborate on, or clarify the PoA while other states, including the United States, would prefer that the focus be limited to reviewing progress made on the PoA. These states often argue that adding to the list of obligations makes little sense when so few governments have met existing obligations. Many states agree on the need to clarify sections in the PoA that are seen as confusing by adding definitions and more concrete language. For example, they suggest defining precisely what is meant by “adequate laws, regulations and administrative procedures.”

It is still too soon to tell which issues will be addressed at the conference. Some issues that dominated discussion in 2001, particularly arms shipments to nonstate actors, will almost certainly be on the agenda. Other issues, such as national controls on civilian possession, are so contentious that many states object to even discussing the possibility of including them on the agenda. Finally, there are several new, potentially contentious issues that were not part of the discussions in 2001 that may make it onto the agenda. These issues include the relationship between small arms and development and the introduction of specific arms export criteria.

As for the form of a final conference document, states could adopt an addendum to the PoA that fleshes out existing obligations or develops new obligations at the national, regional, and global levels. Alternatively, states could adopt a declaration that simply reaffirms the principles already identified in the PoA. Delegates might also attempt to map out the future of the UN small arms process after the conference, which is currently ill defined. A potential obstacle to achieving any of these objectives is the common UN practice of decision-making by consensus, which in the past has stymied negotiations and allowed a few states to derail measures that enjoy broad support. Failure to reach consensus in a final conference document could be particularly detrimental as this document is likely to identify “next steps” for the UN small arms process.


Reducing the illicit proliferation and misuse of small arms requires a multifaceted approach pursued at multiple levels.

Controlling Supply

Curbing small arms proliferation and misuse requires that the legal trade in weapons be more effectively controlled because the majority of illicit weapons start out in the legal market. Currently, there is no internationally accepted set of controls on arms transfers, and national controls vary in scope and effectiveness. Existing agreements and obligations, such as arms embargoes, lack enforcement mechanisms and are often violated with impunity.

Internationally, the implementation and enforcement of national and international arms embargoes must be improved. Particularly important are UN arms embargoes, violations of which must be thoroughly investigated and punished by the international community. At the national level, those governments that lack authorization systems for the production and transfer of small arms and light weapons should establish them immediately, and countries with weak systems should take steps to strengthen them. Many governments still do not require authentication of end-user certificates, review proposed exports against a list of eligibility criteria, or monitor the end use of exported small arms[22]—the sine qua non of an effective transfer control system. These governments, with assistance from the United Nations, regional organizations, and donor states, should take immediate steps to strengthen their transfer controls.

Securing , Removing and Destroying Weapons

Destroying surplus and obsolete weapons stockpiles is a simple, cost-effective strategy for reducing illicit arms transfers. Donor states should increase funding for these programs, many of which continue to operate on shoestring budgets. Similarly, the international community should prioritize the improvement of national physical security and stockpile management practices. One possible approach is to convert existing best practices into an international agreement and push hard for universal implementation of its provisions. Finally, states should take additional steps to mop up the weapons already in circulation by expanding weapons collection and buyback programs in post-conflict situations. To improve the effectiveness of these programs, planners should take into account the context and conditions in each situation; complete planning for the program before the conflict ends, to ensure that the program begins immediately after the cessation of hostilities; and secure enough funding from donor states to ensure that adequate resources are available for the program’s duration.

Curbing Misuse and Demand

To ensure that weapons are used for lawful purposes, states should establish domestic ownership licensing and authorization systems that take into consideration the applicant’s history of violent behavior, mental health, age, and knowledge of the laws and the safe operation of weapons, among other criteria. In addition, those states that have not criminalized the unauthorized export, use, and ownership of weapons should do so immediately. Finally, those governments that are not already doing so should train their law enforcement personnel in the internationally accepted codes of conduct for firearms use and monitor their compliance with these codes.

States must also develop strategies that address the reasons individuals, groups, and governments seek weapons in the first place. Such strategies must reflect an understanding of the complexities of violence in conflict zones, crime-ridden countries, and countries recovering from war and should involve government officials, local community leaders, and NGOs. These strategies must be linked to other aspects of violence-reduction and disarmament programs, such as security sector reform, and build them into existing programs, such as DDR programs, by providing populations with ways to achieve security and power other than through armed violence.


Matt Schroeder is manager of the Arms Sales Monitoring Project at the Federation of American Scientists and Rachel Stohl is senior analyst at the Center for Defense Information at the World Security Institute.


1. According to the UN, small arms and light weapons are weapons that can be transported and used by one person or a small crew. Small arms: revolvers and self-loading pistols, rifles and carbines, assault rifles, sub-machine guns, and light machine guns. Light weapons: heavy machine guns, hand-held underbarrel and mounted grenade launchers, portable anti-tank and anti-aircraft guns, recoilless rifles, portable launchers of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missile systems, and mortars with calibers of less than 100 millimeters.

2. Bureau of Political-Military Affairs and Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, U.S. Department of State, “The MANPADS Menace: Combating the Threat to Global Aviation From Man-Portable Air Defense Systems,” September 20, 2005 (fact sheet).

3. To date, the UN has adopted more than 30 UN small arms resolutions. These range from addressing small arms in particular countries or regions to the provision of assistance to states attempting to curb small arms proliferation.

4. See Rachel Stohl, “ United States Weakens Outcome of UN Small Arms and Light Weapons Conference,” Arms Control Today, September 2001, p. 34.

5. Biting the Bullet, International Action on Small Arms 2005—Examining Implementation of the Program of Action, International Action Network on Small Arms, July 2005, p. 251.

6. Ibid., p. 32.

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid., p. 31.

9. Myerscough, “Challenging Conventional Threats: FY06-FY07 Budgets Show Increase,” April 3, 2006 (from the Center for Defense Information).

10. S/2001/1015, S/2000/1195, S/2003/223, S/2002/486.

11. NATO, “Status of Trust Fund Projects,” April 3, 2006.

12. John Hillen, Testimony Before the House International Relations Subcommittee for International Terrorism and Nonproliferation, March 30, 2006.

13. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “New Initiatives in Cooperative Threat Reduction,” February 9, 2006.

14. General Secretariat of the Organization of American States, “Report on the Diversion of Nicaraguan Arms to the United Defense Forces of Colombia,” January 6, 2003.

15. Oxfam International, “Towards an Arms Trade Treaty: Next Steps for the UN Programme of Action,” p. 21.

16. Biting the Bullet, International Action on Small Arms 2005, p. 6.

17. Fund for Peace, “Model Convention on the Registration of Arms Brokers and the Suppression of Unlicensed Arms Brokering,” July 2001.

18. Directorate-General for Development Cooperation, Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Draft Convention on Marking, Registration, and Tracing of Small Arms and Light Weapons, June 2003.

19. World Bank, “Greater Great Lakes Regional Strategy for Demobilization and Reintegration,” 2002, p. 42.

20. Biting the Bullet, International Action on Small Arms 2005, p. 33.

21. Ibid., p. 286.

22. Ibid., pp. 162-171.


Reorganization Run Amok: State Department's WMD Effort Weakened

Dean Rust

On July 29, 2005, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced a Department of State reorganization that focused primarily on arms control and nonproliferation efforts. Its stated purpose was to strengthen the State Department’s role in “protecting America from weapons of mass destruction” [WMD].[1] This was the culmination of an internal, albeit one-sided, debate prompted by an August 2004 draft report by the State Department’s Office of Inspector General.

During May-June 2004, the inspector general conducted an inspection of the Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Verification and Compliance Bureaus, all of whose substantive duties are generally overseen by the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security. The stated reason for the inspection was the need to evaluate the results of the 1999 merger of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency into the State Department, which had led to the creation of the three bureaus.

The draft report included recommendations that claimed to make the department more efficient and effective in pursuit of U.S. arms control and nonproliferation objectives. Unfortunately, serious misjudgments were made in the report and in implementing the subsequent reorganization, with the latter also infused with a strong political bias. The State Department is now left with a structure not fully equipped to meet today’s diplomatic challenges in arms control and nonproliferation and a seriously demoralized and depleted group of career officers working in these areas.

A Background of Battles

It was clear from President George W. Bush’s 2000 election campaign that some changes in arms control and nonproliferation policy would be made following his election. The choice of the highly ideological John Bolton as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, however, suggested that the State Department’s approach to such diplomacy could change significantly, despite then-Secretary of State Colin Powell’s reputation for moderation and pragmatism. After all, Bolton brought to his position strong doubts about the value to the United States of treaties and international institutions of any kind.

By late 2002, the Senate had confirmed Bush’s three choices to head the bureaus: Stephen Rademaker as assistant secretary of state for arms control, John Wolf as assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation, and Paula DeSutter as their counterpart in the verification and compliance bureau. In addition, the White House had announced the main outlines of its WMD policy.

Over the next year, each bureau’s profile became more clearly defined. As they did, the arms control bureau leadership claimed it did not have enough to do. This view, undoubtedly influenced by Bolton, was puzzling in light of Bush’ s embrace of the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, agreement to a U.S.-Russian Consultative Group for Strategic Security, support for negotiation of a fissile material cutoff treaty, and emphasis on strengthening the norms of the biological and chemical weapons conventions—all arms control bureau responsibilities.

Wolf displayed more independent leadership of his bureau, which led to occasional differences with Bolton. For its part, the verification and compliance bureau was a natural Bolton ally; its mission included assessing a key vulnerability of arms control and nonproliferation treaties and commitments. This political context set the stage for what was to follow.

Throughout 2003 and into the spring of 2004, the three bureaus were frequently in conflict both over policy and process issues. Some of this was to be expected and in the nature of bureaucratic give and take on issues over which bureau equities overlapped. Yet, it went much further: both the arms control and verification bureaus had begun to encroach regularly on the nonproliferation bureau’s responsibilities. Issues on which these bureaus had not previously focused suddenly became of interest, and their views frequently diverged from those of the nonproliferation bureau. Bolton did not seek to ameliorate this situation; if anything he encouraged it. (Bolton had come to view the nonproliferation bureau as untrustworthy because it occasionally took issue with his views during internal debates.)

As a result, the internal process became increasingly dysfunctional. The productivity and effectiveness of all three bureaus were hampered. Needless, nearly daily bureaucratic battles broke out. Policy deliberations were sidetracked and drawn out. Issues already resolved were frequently resurrected. Collegiality suffered as secret meetings and back-channel messages were employed. Senior officials and their deputies spent an inordinate amount of time addressing turf issues. Sometimes, four different representatives from each of the bureaus and the undersecretary’s office would strive to represent the department at interagency nonproliferation meetings. Other governments and even U.S. agencies naturally wondered who was in charge as the assistant secretaries for the three bureaus vied for influence.

This situation was particularly acute when it related to issues where Bolton wanted to curtail the nonproliferation bureau’s influence. One noteworthy incident occurred at the 2004 meeting of the preparatory committee for the 2005 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference. No less than three assistant secretaries, an undersecretary, and one ambassador delivered U.S. statements, two of which were embarrassingly repetitive. Not surprisingly, the inspector general’s office heard plenty about these problems during its inspection.

Initial drafts of the inspector general’s report for each bureau became available in early August 2004. As reported in these pages, the report found unclear lines of authority among the bureaus, which had led to duplication and unproductive competition. It also found that that the arms control bureau had too little to do and that the nonproliferation bureau was overworked. It concluded this was a structural problem that could be remedied by merging the arms control and nonproliferation bureaus and narrowing the functions and role of the verification bureau.

The recommendation to merge the arms control and nonproliferation bureaus was a serious mistake. First, the problem was not structural. The lack of “clear lines of authority” identified by the inspector general had resulted from deliberate intrusion by the other two bureaus on the nonproliferation bureau’s functions. This problem could have been clarified by the undersecretary or other high-level officials, had they chosen to do so. Second, it was not clear how the secretary of state would be better served by asking an assistant secretary already stretched by a wide range of nonproliferation issues to also take on arms control matters.

Frankly, even if one believed that the arms control bureau did not have enough to do, it would have been wiser to retain it but assign it some of the nonproliferation bureau’s responsibilities, such as securing and disposing of the remnants of the Soviet Union’s missile and nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs. Moving these functions to the arms control bureau would have allowed greater concentration on them while allowing the nonproliferation bureau to sharpen further its focus on critical issues such as the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea and the pursuit of presidential initiatives, such as the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) and UN Security Council Resolution 1540.

Eliminating the arms control bureau was bound to hamper U.S. diplomacy in this still critical area of international security. Arms control retains considerable salience globally, including among U.S. allies. Moreover, although the United States has modified some approaches to arms control and no longer negotiates lengthy treaties, Bush has pursued unilateral, bilateral, and multilateral measures in this field that should receive regular attention from the State Department. The arms control agenda actually seemed quite robust.

With regard to the role of the verification and compliance bureau, however, the inspector general’s recommendation was on target. Restricting this bureau’s actions and influence would have helped remedy many of the inefficiencies uncovered in the report. I make no judgement on the work for which it clearly had the lead. Moreover, its officers did much good work on cross-cutting issues; they helped keep the arms control and nonproliferation bureaus “honest” and pushed hard for stronger enforcement. Under Bolton, however, the bureau’s leadership crossed the line, and it became more of a hindrance to effective policy than a help.

The inspector general’s report became final in December 2004, and Powell approved the merger of the arms control and nonproliferation bureaus shortly before leaving office, leaving implementation to Rice. He took no action on the recommendation to narrow the role of the verification bureau. Some had argued that any change to the verification bureau would have required congressional action and would be difficult to obtain (Congress created it by statute in 2000). This argument was a red herring; the State Department leadership could have considerably relieved the tangled lines of authority while fully respecting the verification bureau’s statutory mandate.

Rice and Reorganization

Rice affirmed Powell’s decision but deferred implementation until Robert Joseph was sworn in as Bolton’s successor. The new structure was rolled out on July 29, 2005, with Rice announcing the proposed new Bureau for International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN). The structure was largely consistent with options that the arms control and nonproliferation bureaus had considered in early 2005, except that offices dealing with counterproliferation, WMD terrorism, and strategic planning were added to the merged entity and two arms control offices dealing with strategic and conventional arms control were moved to the verification bureau rather than becoming part of the new ISN bureau. Thus, contrary to the inspector general’s recommendation, the verification bureau’s scope expanded, and it was renamed Verification, Compliance, and Implementation (VCI) to reflect the addition of these offices. Joseph stated that the reorganization offered opportunities for professional advancement and represented good government, i.e., it would improve the management of resources and reduce duplication.

The department concluded congressional consultations on September 12, 2005. The only change that emerged from these consultations was the separation of the missile defense and missile nonproliferation functions, with the former going to the enhanced verification bureau. Joseph affirmed that the merger would adhere to all civil service regulations and merit system principles. Little formal planning for implementation of the merger had taken place during the congressional consultation period.

Implementation of the Reorganization

Despite this lack of planning, it was decided to bring the new ISN bureau into existence the next day, September 13, 2005. This was the first of three serious mistakes made before the end of September that effectively doomed important aspects of this reorganization. To stand up the new bureau without an implementation plan meant that specific functional duties of the new offices in the ISN bureau had not been enumerated, nor had any acting office directors been chosen. Neither Arms Control nor Nonproliferation Bureau employees had been assigned to the new bureau, nor had their interests or preferences been determined. The huge amount of personnel work involved in creating new positions had not begun.

To illustrate the consequences of this lack of planning, on September 13 the three newly created offices in the ISN bureau had no employees, and two other ISN offices formed from the merger of abolished offices in its predecessor bureaus had no lines of authority. There were many other organizational and administrative tasks that had not been addressed for all offices, including how to create new professional opportunities (as promised by Joseph) for the more than 200 employees affected by the merger. This lack of advance planning when combined with a sense of urgency in standing up the ISN bureau led to a process constantly beset with more questions than answers and one with many shortcuts. A delay of two to three months after September 13 in establishing the ISN bureau would have permitted a respectful transition period and avoided the “keystone cops” aspect of this exercise.

Only after the reorganization was already underway, did Joseph name a senior management panel to implement it. His second big mistake was the composition of this panel and its mode of operation. As a rule, career employees from substantive, legal, personnel, and management offices in the State Department have joined political appointees in effecting reorganizations. This approach brings expertise, impartiality, and transparency to bear on the many personnel and other management decisions to be made by the political officials. Powell had established such an interdisciplinary task force when it appeared the merger might occur during his tenure. The inspector general’s report had made a similar recommendation.

Instead, Joseph placed the task solely with Frederick Fleitz, Bolton’s former chief of staff, and a panel comprised of political appointees who served under Bolton.[2] These included the principal deputy assistant secretaries of the three bureaus—Frank Record, Andrew Semmel, and Christopher Ford—as well as Ambassador Jackie Sanders, who resided in Geneva and served as U.S. representative to the Conference on Disarmament and as the president’s special representative for nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.

This was a remarkably bad decision. Without casting aspersions on these individuals, the fact is that new leadership had come to the State Department. Rice and Joseph clearly wanted to invigorate the department’s nonproliferation function. Why then would they turn to political appointees dating from Bolton’s tenure to carry this out, particularly given the history of conflict among these bureaus and individuals that was well known inside the State Department? No matter how well intentioned they might have been, each panel member brought a political and personal agenda to the table that had been influenced by the infighting that had occurred. It was inevitable that paybacks would be part of this process, even if not articulated.

Did Rice and Joseph also not realize how little trust the career staff would have in a panel composed largely of political appointees who owed their loyalty to Bolton, whose aversion toward employees who disagreed with him was well known? To top it off, the management panel met in secret, and nothing of importance about its deliberations was revealed. Career personnel officers offered advice to the senior management panel, but much of it was not followed. It appeared as though the panel was trying to maintain a semblance of legality in its decisions but with little regard for sound personnel management policies and practices.

The third serious mistake involved the selection of acting office directors for the new ISN bureau. The standard practice would have limited the choices to the merged bureaus, and then seniority and experience would determine who serves as “acting.” Instead, employees outside the career ranks of the arms control and nonproliferation bureaus were invited to apply for these positions. This was another bad management decision. Not only were former office directors from the merged bureaus competing against each other for a limited number of comparable slots in the new bureau, but personnel with little to no experience in running arms control or nonproliferation offices were invited to join the pool of eligible candidates. Not surprisingly, the selection process was entirely opaque. The decisions were announced on September 28 and amended later in the year.

Incumbent arms control and nonproliferation bureau civil servants and two foreign service officers were chosen to lead seven of the 12 ISN offices. This was not a surprise as all, but one of these offices had experienced little to no change in its duties or composition, and two had previously been led by foreign service officers. However, the senior management panel went outside the ranks of the bureau’s career civil servants for the leadership of the five other offices, including those dealing with the NPT, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran and North Korea, counterproliferation, anti-WMD terrorism, and strategic planning. Several very well-qualified officers—some with more than 20 years experience and outstanding reputations—were bypassed, including some who had led offices and thus were being demoted from their previous levels of responsibility. Significantly, three offices in the merged bureaus had been led by women; none of the ISN acting office directors announced on September 28 were women.

When so many qualified State Department career employees are inexplicably denied leading positions in the new organization, it feeds the perception that political factors played a role in the panel’s decisions. Given the composition of the panel, it does not take much imagination to arrive at that conclusion. Indeed, The Washington Post quoted an official involved in the reorganization as acknowledging that the influence of some career employees was reduced because they were viewed as “disloyal.”[3] The facts point toward an effort to select individuals with favorable political or personal connections to the panel over long-serving career staff with superior qualifications. Not surprisingly, this led to a mini-revolt against the panel, a situation that festered for months and received press attention in February 2006.[4] These decisions and the manner in which they were made do not comport with merit system principles codified in U.S. law promulgated by the Office of Personnel Management involving “fair and open competition for advancement” and “the efficient and effective management of employees.” Moreover, the secret and slipshod way the reorganization was implemented fell far short of “maintaining high standards of integrity, conduct and concern for the public interest.”[5]

The Result

What started as an ostensibly routine inspection of the arms control, nonproliferation, and verification and compliance functions at the State Department has ended with a restructuring that has led to a net loss of the State Department’s effectiveness in these areas. Arms control is bifurcated and subjugated, nonproliferation is even more overburdened, and verification and compliance is more overextended. Poor implementation of the reorganization further compounded the damage caused by the structural changes.

Beyond cronyism and the influence of political factors in the selection of personnel, there is also a presumption by some in the administration that the State Department’s seasoned WMD experts are only capable of “old think” and that post-September 11 “new think” is needed. This perception is wrong. Experienced government WMD experts know the technology, legal regimes, intelligence, and international politics of arms control and nonproliferation and are best suited to devise ways to strengthen existing tools and to find new approaches. They have been doing so for years. Effective adaptation of the regime to new threats requires knowledge and experience. These officers are highly capable of energizing even the less-than-ideal new organizational structure put into place by Joseph.

Yet, the botched implementation has already led many experienced career officers to leave the newly constituted ISN bureau, with others closely on their heels. This resource of knowledge, experience, and advice was consciously built up over the past 30 years in the State Department and the former Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), which was merged into the State Department in 1999 to strengthen its ability to address weapons proliferation. The dissipation of this resource will hamper the State Department’s role at home and abroad for years to come.

Frankly, one could argue that this reduction in the State Department’s role is precisely the outcome some were seeking. It is no secret that some in the administration have little faith in treaties and institutional approaches to arms control and nonproliferation. What better way to strip the State Department of its capabilities in these areas, including its experienced officers, than under the guise of reorganization? Efforts to push back against this outcome were effectively neutralized throughout the process by ignoring or overruling alternatives offered by career substantive and administrative officers.

Although accomplishing their political agenda, the architects of this reorganization have weakened the administration’s overall diplomatic resources needed to carry out its goals in coping with such threats as Iran and North Korea and in pursuing its priority tools, including the Proliferation Security Initiative. Moreover, the president, while pursuing new approaches in nonproliferation, has not abandoned existing treaties and institutions in this area and has even pursued limited negotiations on arms control. It is the job of the State Department to advance these policies. Indeed, Rice has strongly affirmed the importance of international agreements and norms on weapons of mass destruction and has expressed support for maintaining the State Department’s role in arms control diplomacy. Yet, the reorganization has severely compromised the State Department’s capabilities in some of these areas.

It is too early to cite specific examples of how this reorganization has harmed the administration’s nonproliferation efforts. Besides, the real damage from poor organizational changes and the loss of experienced staff would most likely be manifest in small increments, with major consequences aggregating over time. It is a fact, however, that the offices in the former nonproliferation bureau that dealt with the NPT, the IAEA, and the North Korean and Iranian nuclear programs are mere shadows of their former selves. The offices were either merged or divested of some of their duties, their former civil service leadership positions were eliminated, and many experienced career staff have left. The office leadership positions have been reclassified as foreign service positions. While foreign service officers with good management skills can and have served effectively in running nonproliferation program offices, the State Department needs experienced and knowledgeable civil service officers running offices with front-line operational nonproliferation policy responsibilities, including those with a strong technical component.

Similarly, the refusal of the reorganization panel to place former arms control or nonproliferation bureau career professionals in leadership positions on counterproliferation, anti-WMD terrorism, and nonproliferation strategic planning has also seriously compromised Joseph’s task of invigorating these functions. The elimination of the arms control bureau and the transfer of its top career strategic nuclear analysts to other topics will hamper the State Department’s ability to develop the best possible options for future U.S.-Russian cooperation in this area. Additionally, the strengthening of the verification and compliance bureau means that State Department policies on arms control and nonproliferation will continue to be hindered by a much too strong emphasis on matters that, although important, prevent a balanced consideration of U.S. interests on some WMD issues.

It may be too late to change much of what has transpired, but senior State Department leadership must ensure that the remaining reorganization tasks are handled with the utmost professionalism, including full attention to merit system principles. The permanent directors of the five offices noted above should be civil servants, and the selection criteria should focus heavily on relevant experience and knowledge, as well as management skills. Senior leadership must also stem further hemorrhaging of expertise from the ISN bureau. Moreover, it must revisit the decision to transfer strategic and conventional arms control policy to the expanded verification bureau. These key areas deserve more attention than simply being a subset of verification and compliance.

In general, the State Department’s senior management and human resource officials need to take a serious look at this entire exercise, remedy any abuses that occurred, and advise the secretary of state on policies and practices that any future reorganization should follow. The inspector general’s office should delve into some of its key recommendations, such as why the verification bureau’s mandate was expanded rather than contracted and why the reorganization was implemented by a political panel under Joseph rather than, as the inspector general recommended, one led by the undersecretary for management. The inspector general’s office should consider adding subject matter experts to future inspections of functional bureaus. With all due respect, an inspection team comprised solely of foreign service personnel was handicapped in making credible and informed judgments about the efforts of the three previous bureaus in carrying out the administration’s objectives in the arcane fields of arms control, nonproliferation, and verification and compliance. These fields have been dominated for more than three decades by civil servants from a broad range of legal, scientific, military, national security, political science, and international relations backgrounds.

Finally, the selection of a new assistant secretary for the new ISN bureau is critically important. Rice should recommend to the president a person compatible with her approach to nonproliferation diplomacy, one who is experienced, open-minded, and genuinely committed to building effective cooperation in combating the spread of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and related delivery systems, including through the invigoration of international institutions and treaties. It should also be someone capable of mining the considerable resource offered by the State Department’s career arms control and nonproliferation staff and of restoring trust across the board with that group. The selection should reflect a clear break from the political orientation that burdened the State Department’s efforts in this area during the president’s first term.

U.S. diplomacy aimed at building partnerships against weapons and missile proliferation is our first line of defense against states or terrorists that would do us harm. Certainly, some changes in the organizational structure were advisable to reflect today’s priorities and to allow for more efficiency. A heightened organizational focus on new tools such as the PSI and UN Security Council Resolution 1540 makes good sense. However, this reorganization fell well short of achieving its objectives. The State Department has publicly downplayed the internal dissent by citing “the difficulty of change.” Yet, in the words of the old German proverb: “To change and change for the better are two different things.”

Undoubtedly, this is not the first time that subcabinet-level political appointees have hijacked a reorganization to pursue their own agenda, but the outcome in this case has hampered the State Department’s ability to pursue the president’s crucial national security objectives. The new organizational structure has serious weaknesses, many experienced staff have been shunted aside or have left, and key offices remain understaffed. Rice can still salvage some aspects of this unfortunate situation, but she needs to move quickly.


Dean Rust retired from the Department of State on September 30, 2005 after more than 35 years with the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) and the State Department’s Nonproliferation Bureau, which was created after ACDA merged with the State Department in 1999. His last position with the Nonproliferation Bureau was as the acting deputy director of the office that dealt with nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and International Atomic Energy Agency matters.

1. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, “Beginning to Transform the State Department to Meet the Challenges of the 21st Century,” Department of State, July 29, 2005.

2. See Wade Boese, “State Department Announces Reorganization,” Arms Control Today, October 2005, p. 36.

3. Glenn Kessler, “Administration Critics Chafe at State Dept. Shuffle,” The Washington Post, February 21, 2006.

4. See Warren Strobel, “Career Weapons Experts Booted by Bush Team,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 8, 2006.

5. 5 USC § 2301.


June 2006 Bibliography

Of Special Interest

Berger, Samuel R., “Talk to Tehran,” The Wall Street Journal, May 8, 2006, p. A19.

Fischer, Joschka, “The Case for Bargaining With Iran,” The Washington Post, May 29, 2006, p. A23.

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

Nunn, Sam, “Nuclear Pig in a Poke,” The Wall Street Journal, May 24, 2006, p. A14.

Office of the Secretary of Defense, Annual Report to Congress: Military Power of the People’s Republic of China, May 2006, 50 pp.

Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, Weapons of Terror: Freeing the World of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Weapons, June 2006, 227 pp.

I. Strategic Arms

Howe, Kevin, “Nobel Winner Sees Nuclear ‘Hypocrisy’: IAEA’s ElBaradei Urges Disarmament,” Monterey Herald, May 31, 2006.

Interfax, “ Russia: Missile Reduction Treaty Will Not Harm Russia’s Nuclear Potential,” May 17, 2006.

Isachenkov, Vladimir, “ Russia Develops Tougher Ballistic Missiles,” Associated Press, May 17, 2006.
Knight, Amy, “A New Arms Race Has Begun,” Ottawa Citizen, May 17, 2006.

Mainville, Michael, “Putin Warns Arms Race Not Over Yet,” The Washington Times, May 11, 2006, p. A1.

Noronha, Rifka, Cause for Concern: An Update on the Reliable Replacement Warhead Program, Center for Defense Information, May 22, 2006.

RIA Novosti, “Putin Highlights Strategic Forces in State of the Nation,” May 10, 2006.

Sterngold, James, “House Panel Boosts Bush Plan to Build New Nuclear Warheads,” San Francisco Chronicle, May 20, 2006, p. A3.

II. Nuclear Proliferation

Agence France-Presse, “‘Nukes Breed Nukes,’ ElBaradei Warns,” May 25, 2006.

Agence France-Presse, “ Pakistan Says Nuclear Proliferation Chapter Is Closed,” May 3, 2006.

Donnelly, Thomas, “Choosing Among Bad Options: The Pakistani ‘Loose Nukes’ Conundrum,” National Security Outlook, May 2006.

Haass, Richard, “ India, Iran and the Case for Double Standards,” Taipei Times, May 16, 2006, p. A9.

Henderson, Simon, Comparing Iranian, Pakistani Nuclear Programs, The Washington Institute, May 8, 2006.

Interfax, “Sanctions Won’t Solve Nuclear Crises, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Says,” May 27, 2006.

ITAR-TASS, “ Russia to Speed Up Construction of Fast Breeding Reactor,” May 29, 2006.

Karaganov, Sergey, “A New Nuclear Age?” Rossiyskaya Gazeta, May 20, 2006.

Starobin, Paul, “Of Mullahs and MADness,” National Journal, May 20, 2006, p. 20.

Warrick, Joby, “ U.S. Silence Impeding Swiss in Nuclear Case,” The Washington Post, May 26, 2006, p. A16.


Gaicomo, Carol, “ U.S. Said Flexible on India Nuclear Deal,” Reuters, May 22, 2006.

Hibbs, Mark, “Replication of Dhruva Reactor Proposed for Next Indian Economic Plan,” Nuclear Fuel, Vol. 31, No. 10, May 8, 2006.

Jayal, Brijesh D., “Keeping the Pledge,” The Telegraph, May 15, 2006.

Mathewson, Judith, “ U.S. Says Indian Nuclear Test Moratorium Is Key ‘Commitment,’” Bloomberg, May 17, 2006.

Perkovich, George, A Realist Case for Conditioning the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal, May 15, 2006.

Ratnam, Gopal, “Questions Trail U.S.-India Nuke Deal,” Defense News, May 15, 2006, p. 20.

Sethi, Manpreet, “Indo-U.S. Cooperation No Threat to Proliferation,” Defense News, May 15, 2006, p. 37.

Sevastopulo, Demetri, “Indian Nuclear Pact Raises Doubts in Congress,” The Financial Times, May 5, 2006.

Zee News, “Indo-US Ties Not to be Affected by Outcome of Nuke Deal: Saran,” May 26, 2006.


Arbatov, Alexei, Russia and the Iranian Nuclear Crisis, May 23, 2006.

Bloomberg, “Bush’s Offer on Iran Talks Aimed at Winning Over China, Russia,” June 1, 2006.

Der Spiegel , “Spiegel Interview with Iran’s President Ahmadinejad, ‘We Are Determined,’” May 30, 2006.

Dombey, Daniel and Findley, Stephen, “Big Powers Fail to Break Impasse on Iran’s Nuclear Program,” The Financial Times, May 25, 2006.

Ferguson , Charles D. and Mizin, Victor, “ Russia Can Help Resolve Iran Crisis,” The Baltimore Sun, May 22, 2006.

Gottemoeller, Rose, “The Russia Card,” The New York Times, May 3, 2006, p. A25.

Haghighatjoo, Fatemah, “Factional Positions on the Nuclear Issue in the Context of Iranian Domestic Politics,” Iran Analysis Quarterly, May 2006, p. 2.

Kessler, Glenn, “ U.S. Under Pressure to Talk to Tehran,” The Washington Post, May 11, 2006, p. A20.

Khalaji, Mehdi, Iran: International Pressure and Internal Conflict, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, May 24, 2006.

Kirgis, Frederic L., “ Iran and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty,” ASIL Insights, Vol. 30, Iss. 13, May 30, 2006.

Kupchan, Clifford A. and Takeyh, “US Could Benefit from a Give-and-Take Strategy with Iran,” The Boston Globe, May 23, 2006.

Linzer, Dafna, “ U.S. Urges Financial Sanctions On Iran, White House Tries to Enlist Europe, Japan,” The Washington Post, May 29, 2006, p. A1.

Magnier, Mark, “ Iran Must Halt Enrichment Effort, China Official Says,” The Los Angeles Times, May 16, 2006, p. A14.

Maleki, Abbas, “ Iran is Eager to Defuse the Nuclear Squabble,” Financial Times, May 9, 2006.

Omestad, Thomas, “Face-Off,” U.S. News & World Report, May 15, 2006.

Porter, Gareth, “Burnt Offering,” American Prospect, June 6, 2006.

Reuters, “Nuclear Dispute is Basis for Iranian Computer Game,” May 28, 2006.

Rohani, Hassan, “ Iran’s Nuclear Program: The Way Out,” Time, May 9, 2006.

Ross, Dennis, “A New Strategy on Iran,” The Washington Post, May 1, 2006, p. A19.

Simon, Steven and Takeyh, Ray “Cautious Iran,” Christian Science Monitor, May 3, 2006.

Slavin, Barbara, “White House Hints at Talks with Iranians,” USA Today, May 24, 2006.

Spolar, Christine, “Iran Undeterred by Western Opposition as it Seeks Nuclear Reactors,” The Chicago Tribune, May 29, 2006.

Strobel, Warren P., “Weakening U.S.-Russian Relations Complicate Diplomacy with Iran,” Knight Ridder, May 23, 2006.

Svetlova, Ksenia and Martin, Paul, “Scheme Eyed to Halt Iranian Nuke Pursuit,” The Washington Times, May 10, 2006, p. A16.

Vick, Karl and Linzer, Dafna, “ Iran Requests Direct Talks on Nuclear Program,” The Washington Post, May 24, 2006, p. A1.

Vick, Karl, “ Iran’s Leader Writes to President Bush,” The Washington Post, May 8, 2006, p. A18.

Walker, Tom, “Suspicion Grows on Iran’s Uranium,” The Sunday Times, May 14, 2006.

Weisman, Steven R., “Help with Reactor Included in European Offer to Iran,” The New York Times, May 17, 2006, p. A6.

Zak, Chen, Nuclear Decision-Making in Iran: A Rare Glimpse, Middle East Brief, Paper 5, May 2006, 10 pp.

Zangeneh, Parisa, “Nuclear Politics, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the Iranian People, Iran Analysis Quarterly, May 2006, 16 pp.

North Korea

Beck, Lindsay, “Envoy Says No Progress on North Korea Talks,” Reuters, May 25, 2006.

Breen, Michael, “NK as a Temporary Nuclear State,” Korea Times, May 16, 2006.

Dong-min, Lee, “ Ex-U.S. Diplomat Urges Direct Talks with North Korea,”Yonhap News Agency, May 1, 2006.

Lee, Jong-Heon, “North Korean President Stands Firm On Sanction Threat,” United Press International, May 3, 2006.

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

Song-wu, Park, “NK Urged to Abandon Nukes for ‘Brighter’ Future,” Korea Times, May 17, 2006.

III. Nonproliferation

Agence France-Presse, “ Russia to Remove Enriched Uranium from Satellite States by 2013,” May 29, 2006.

Associated Press, “Arab League Chief Calls for Nuclear-Free Middle East,” May 22, 2006.

Benn, Aluf, “ Israel, U.S. at Odds Over Nuke Treaty Proposal,” Haaretz, May 24, 2006.

Faulconbridge, Guy, “ Russia Wants Changes to U.S. Uranium Pact,” Reuters, May 19, 2006.

Gertz, Bill, “ U.S. ‘Disrupted’ al Qaeda WMD Efforts,” The Washington Times, May 3, 2006, p. A6.

Higgins, Alexander G., “New Treaty Proposed to Halt Nuclear Bomb-making Material,” Associated Press, May 18, 2006.

Hoehn, William, Preliminary Analysis of the U.S. State Department’s Fiscal Year 2007 Budget Request for Global WMD Threat Reduction Programs, RANSAC, May 2006.

Interfax, “Russian Company to Produce Containers for Spent Nuclear Fuel by Year-End,” May 29, 2006.

ITAR-TASS, “ Ukraine to Eliminate 3 Nuclear Weapons Storage Facilities by 2007,” May 18, 2006.

Kennedy, Harold, “ U.S. Steps Up Efforts to Keep WMD Out of Enemy Hands,” National Defense Magazine, June 2006.

Litovkin, Viktor, “ Russia Getting Rid of Floating Chernobyls,” RIA Novosti, May 16, 2006.

Miller, Judith. “Gadhafi’s Leap of Faith,” The Wall Street Journal, May 17, 2006, p. A18.

Miller, Judith, “How Gadhafi Lost His Groove,” The Wall Street Journal, May 16, 2006, p. A14.

Munger, Frank, “ Y-12 Getting Rid of Bombs,” Knoxville News Sentinel, May 29, 2006.

National Nuclear Security Administration, NNSA Marks 2-Year Anniversary of Global Program to Reduce Nuclear Threats, May 24, 2006, 2 pp.

Nesmith, Jeff, “UT Professor Fights U.S. Uranium Exports,” The Austin American-Statesman, May 13, 2006.

Page, Jeremy, “Doomsday Cargo is Safe after Top-Secret Odyssey,” The Times, May 2, 2006.

Pincus, Walter, “ U.S. to Step Up Disassembly of Older Nuclear Warheads,” The Washington Post, May 4, 2006, p. A11.

Sezer, Murad, “With All Eyes on Neighboring Iran, 34 Countries Kick Off Exercise Against WMD in Turkey,” Associated Press, May 26, 2006.

Shulman, Mark R., The Proliferation Security Initiative as a New Paradigm for Peace and Security, Strategic Studies Institute, April 2006, 58 pp.

IV. Missiles and Missile Defense

Agence France-Presse, “Kremlin Voices Concern at U.S. Conventional Missile Plans,” May 15, 2006.

Agence France-Presse, “Missile Threat to Europe Warrants Shield Says NATO Official,” May 11, 2006.

Agence France-Presse, “ Pakistan Test Fires Long Range Nuclear Capable Missile,” May 1, 2006.

Bedi, Rahul, “ India Holds Back from Test Firing Agni III,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, May 31, 2006, p. 14.

Brown, Harold and Schlesinger, James, “A Missile Strike Option We Need,” The Washington Post, May 22, 2006, p. A17.

Brown, Nick, “U.S. Test Intercepts Ballistic Missile in Descent Phase,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, May 31, 2006, p. 5.

Gordon, Michael, “ U.S. Is Proposing European Shield for Iran Missiles,” The New York Times, May 22, 2006, p. A1.

Gordon, Michael, “Pentagon Seeks Nonnuclear Tip for Sub Missiles,” The New York Times, May 29, 2006, p. A1.

Government Accountability Office, Defense Management: Actions Needed to Improve Operational Planning and Visibility of Costs for Ballistic Missile Defense, May 31, 2006, 53 pp.

Interfax-AVN, “Russian Lawmaker Sees U.S. Missile Defense Deployment in E. Europe as Threat,” May 23, 2006.

Kaplan, Fred, “Whose Missile Shield Is It, Anyway?,” Slate.com, May 23, 2006.

Mannion, Jim, “US Consults Europeans on Anti-missile Site,” Agence France-Presse, May 22, 2006.

Meyer, Henry, “Military Chief: Russia Close to Building Missile System Able to Penetrate All Defenses,” Associated Press, May 18, 2006.

Reuters, “Kremlin Expresses Alarm at U.S. Missile Plans,” May 11, 2006.

RIA Novosti, “Russian Army Chief Warns Over Non-Nuclear ICBMs,” May 18, 2006.

Sieff, Martin, “ Pakistan and India Race Rockets,” United Press International, May 12, 2006.

Sieff, Martin, “ Pakistan Tests Shaheen Missile,” United Press International, May 10, 2006.

Trimble, Stephen, “New Options Enter Race for Boost-phase Intercept Weapon,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, May 31, 2006, p. 7.

United Press International, “MIT Probe Rejects BMD Research Fraud Claim,” May 24, 2006.

Zaborsky, Victor, “Ukrainian Proliferation: Missile Export Effort Risks Treaty Violation,” Defense News, May 1, 2006, p. 37.

V. Chemical and Biological Arms

Foy, Paul, “ Russia, U.S. Lag in Destruction of Chemical Weapons,” Associated Press, May 10, 2006.

Government Accountability Office, ANTHRAX: Federal Agencies Have Taken Some Steps to Validate Sampling Methods and to Develop a Next-Generation Anthrax Vaccine, May 9, 2006, 32 pp.

Leopold, Evelyn, “Annan Urges Global Forum Against Bioweapons,” Reuters, May 3, 2006.

Litovkin, Viktor, “United States Hinders Russia’s Chemical Disarmament,” RIA Novosti, April 27, 2006

Tucker, Jonathan B. and Walker, Paul F., “A Long Way to Go in Elimination Chemical Weapons,” The Boston Globe, May 1, 2006.

Tucker, Jonathan B. and Zilinskas, Raymond A., “The Promise and Perils of Synthetic Biology,” The New Atlantis, Spring 2005.

United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, Twenty-fifth quarterly report on the activities of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission in accordance with paragraph 12 of Security Council resolution 1284 (1999) , May 30, 2006, 15 pp.

VI. Conventional Arms

Abdullaev, Nabi, “ Venezuela Spat Highlights U.S.-Russia Discord,” Defense News, May 29, 2006, p. 8.

Agence France-Presse, “ Taiwan Denies Plans to Cancel Arms Deal With US,” May 9, 2006.

Anderson, Guy, “Venezuela Considers Purchase of Russian Su-35 Fighters,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, May 31, 2006, p. 20.

McLean, Robert T., “From Russia with Arms,” The American Spectator, May 2, 2006.

Minnick, Wendell, “Airplane Race in Taiwan Straits,” Defense News, May 15, 2006, p. 1.

Raghuvanshi, Vivek, “India-Iran Defense Relationship Cools Slightly,” Defense News, May 1, 2006, p. 6.

Reuters, “ Germany Arrests Germans, Iranians for Iran Exports,” May 10, 2006.

Reuters, “ U.S. Senators Vow to Reform Arms Export Controls,” May 9, 2006.

RIA Novosti, “CFE Treaty Unviable, Out of Touch With Reality – Russia Diplomat,” May 31, 2006.

Scott Tyson, Ann, “Pentagon Finds China Fortifying Its Long-Range Military Arsenal,” The Washington Post, May 24, 2006, p. A17.

Tigner, Brooks, “Code Snagged on China Embargo,” Defense News, May 8, 2008, p. 10.

Traynor, Ian, “ U.S. in Secret Gun Deal: Small Arms Shipped from Bosnia to Iraq ‘Go Missing’ as Pentagon Uses Dealers,” The Guardian, May 12, 2006.

VII. U.S. Policy

Agence France-Presse, “ U.S. to Renew Diplomatic Relations With Libya,” May 15, 2006.

Dinmore, Guy, “ U.S. Presses China to Toughen Stance on Iran,” TheFinancial Times, May 11, 2006, p. A1.

LaFranchi, Howard, “A New Rival to ‘Regime Change,’” The Christian Science Monitor, May 23, 2006.

Linzer, Dafna, “ U.S. Urges Financial Sanctions on Iran: White House Tries to Enlist Europe, Japan,” The Washington Post, May 29, 2006, p. A1.

VIII. Space

Agence France-Presse, “ India Wants US to Lift Remaining Sanctions On Space Technology,” May 10, 2006.

Broad, William J., “Administration Conducting Research Into Laser Weapon,” The New York Times, May 3, 2006, p. A22.

Hitchens, Theresa and Valasek, Tomas, European Military Space Capabilities: A Primer, The Center for Defense Information, 2006.

Interfax AVN, “Russian Spy Satellites as Good as U.S.- Space Forces Commander,” May 17, 2006.

Singer, Jeremy, “USAF Interest in Lasers Triggers Concerns About Anti-Satellite Weapons,” Space News, May 1, 2006.

Wolf, Jim, “Pentagon Weapons Buyer Backs Space Missile Plan,” Reuters, May 10, 2006.

IX. Other

Bedi, Rahul, “India Releases Joint War Doctrine,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, May 31, 2006, p. 13.

Isachenkov, Vladimir, “Putin Says Russia Needs a Strong Military to Resist Political Pressure,” Associated Press, May 10, 2006.

RIA Novosti, “ITER Fusion Reactor Project Agreement Initialed At Brussels Meeting,” May 24, 2006.

Snyder, Jim, “Nuke Utilities Clamor for More Enriched Russian Uranium,” The Hill, May 24, 2006

Zlobin, Nikolai, “Worse Than the Cold War,” Nezavisimaya Gazeta, May 12, 2006, pp. 11.


"Completely Nuts"

Daryl G. Kimball

As the international confrontation over Iran’s nuclear program gradually escalates, the Bush administration insists it is seeking a diplomatic solution even as it refuses to rule out the possibility of pre-emptive military strikes against Iran. President George W. Bush himself said last year, "I hope we can solve it diplomatically, but I will never take any option off the table."

One option he certainly should rule out is the use of nuclear weapons. As former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw recently commented, a pre-emptive nuclear strike on Iran’s nuclear and leadership targets is "completely nuts," for several reasons.

The threat alone reduces the chance Tehran’s leaders will respond positively to multilateral diplomacy designed to persuade them to halt Iran’s uranium-enrichment program and accept more intrusive international inspections. A nuclear or conventional strike on Iran’s nuclear complex would only delay Iran’s nuclear program, enhance popular support for its radical leaders, and provide it with a rationale to pursue nuclear weapons openly. Worse still, it could inflict mass casualties, trigger a regional war involving exchanges of ballistic missiles, and prompt terrorist attacks against U.S. targets abroad and at home. Bush’s foray into Iraq would become even more costly.

Iran has violated its nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) safeguards, but it says its program is solely for peaceful purposes and that it has a "right" under the NPT to pursue it. Although outsiders cannot be sure if Iran has made a strategic decision to acquire nuclear weapons, Tehran could have the capacity to mass-produce bomb-grade nuclear material within several years if it continues to improve and expand its enrichment facilities.

Since August, diplomatic efforts by France, Germany, and the United Kingdom have broken down, and Iran has resumed enrichment and stopped certain inspections. European offers of access to foreign sources of nuclear fuel and economic integration could not overcome the prestige Iran now associates with nuclear technology and Tehran’s concern about U.S.-led regime change intentions.

New U.S. diplomatic overtures are less likely to succeed so long as the threat of force, especially nuclear force, is held out as an option. Unfortunately, credible press reports indicate that the U.S. government is refining plans for conventional air strikes against some 400 key nuclear and leadership targets in Iran. These plans include contingencies for nuclear strikes using B61 Mod 11 bombs against Iran’s major underground uranium-enrichment facilities.

The Bush administration is not the first to convey ambiguous nuclear threats against non-nuclear-weapon adversaries. When asked about the possible use of nuclear weapons against a Libyan chemical weapons installation in April 1996, a Clinton administration spokesperson said, "We would not foreclose any options for dealing with that threat."

Yet, Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi continued his pursuit of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons for several years. Only after quiet, direct engagement with U.S. and British officials and offers of normalized trade and diplomatic relations, an end to sanctions, and increased foreign investment did Libya agree in December 2003 to renounce its unconventional weapons. Without a public and direct threat of attack, Gaddafi could claim that he arrived at his decision "voluntarily."

Now, the Bush administration believes that if Tehran’s leaders can be made to believe Bush is willing to attack, even with nuclear weapons, they will soften or reverse their position. Think again. Iran’s hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said he is willing to hold talks over Tehran’s disputed nuclear agenda but not with Israel or countries that hold "bombs over our head." His defiance has won him broader support in Iran.

The threat of force also makes it more difficult to win international support for a new package of incentives and disincentives that would give Iran a clear choice between the benefits of nuclear restraint and compliance or international financial and economic strangulation.

U.S. officials have sought a fresh UN Security Council resolution that would cite Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which could lead either to sanctions or the use of military force if Iran does not comply. With the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in mind, veto-wielding China and Russia want it to rule out the use of force. European officials have said they would not support a military attack.

A new and more comprehensive diplomatic push is needed. In exchange for the indefinite suspension of Iran’s uranium-enrichment program and full cooperation with international inspections, the major powers should not only offer Iran guaranteed nuclear fuel supplies and trade benefits, but also normalized diplomatic relations and binding negative security guarantees as well.

Just as Iran should not necessarily exercise its "rights" under the NPT to enrich uranium, which could be used for weapons production, certain U.S. military options should not be considered, let alone pursued.




• On page 27 of Arms Control Today’s May 2006 issue, a STRATCOM spokesperson incorrectly reported that the 433 launches of non-nuclear armed ballistic missiles cited by STRATCOM Commander General James Cartwright in March 29 testimony referred to both submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles. The figure only corresponds to SLBMs.

• On page 31 of Arms Control Today’s May 2006 issue, a statement was wrongly attributed. It should have read, “A 2004 speech to high-ranking Iranian officials by then-secretary of Iran’s National Security Council Hassan Rowhani suggests an additional explanation for Iran’s diplomatic tactics.”

• On page 26 of Arms Control Today’s May 2006 issue, the caption cited the wrong date for then-Secretary of State Colin Powell’s speech to the UN General Assembly. It should have read Feb. 5, 2003.


Strategic Decisions: An Interview With STRATCOM Commander General James E. Cartwright

Wade Boese and Miles A. Pomper

The Bush administration set forth its plan for transforming the roles and structure of U.S. strategic forces in its December 2001 Nuclear Posture Review. The revamped posture, according to administration officials, aims to reduce U.S. reliance on nuclear weapons and augment them with growing conventional strike capabilities, missile defenses, and a more responsive and robust defense infrastructure base. The responsibility for making this vision a reality rests largely with the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM). On May 12, Arms Control Today interviewed STRATCOM Commander General James E. Cartwright about implementation of the president’s plan.

ACT: STRATCOM’s traditional mission has been the operational control of deployed U.S. nuclear forces, but more responsibilities have been added in recent years. Could you talk a little about STRATCOM’s additional missions for missile defense, space, and global strike?

Cartwright: Back in 1992, the Navy mission and the Air Force mission were brought together, and that was the stand-up of STRATCOM.[1] The headquarters was at Offutt [Air Force Base, Nebraska]. Then in 2002, Strategic Command and Space Command were merged under the common head of Strategic Command. During 2003, we added in missions that included global strike, integrated missile defense, information operations, and C4ISR [command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance]. There really was not a combatant commander[2] who had purview over those kinds of mission areas, which tended to be cross-cutting. The idea was to get them pulled under a single combatant commander who would be both an advocate for those capabilities and operational provider of those capabilities to other regional combatant commanders. That was the thought process in adding those missions. The last mission, combating weapons of mass destruction, was added in 2005. This involves nonproliferation, counterproliferation, and consequence management [of an unconventional weapons attack]. So, that has been the gamut of missions added.

ACT: Getting back to the more traditional mission of STRATCOM, as a presidential candidate in May 2000, George W. Bush said, “The United States should remove as many weapons as possible from high-alert, hair-trigger status.” Yet, U.S. intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) remain ready to fire within minutes, and there has been no significant change in the number of weapons on high alert since Bush took office. Why hasn’t the president’s recommendation been fulfilled?

Cartwright: The first assumption is that it has not been fulfilled, and we can certainly debate whether that is true or not. Clearly, the Moscow Treaty of 2002 directed bringing down a number of operationally deployed weapons. There is a 2007 midpoint that we set as an arbitrary goal within the government for, “Are you on track, or are you not on track?”[3] We are well on track for that. We are meeting every one of the planned reductions, and in several of the cases, we are ahead of schedule. It is classified exactly what the numbers are. That is one piece of how we look at it.

Another is that we have gotten the B-1 bomber out of the business of nuclear weapons. We have taken the B-52 bombers off day-to-day alert, along with the tankers and other assets supporting them.[4] The MX, or Peacekeeper, ICBM was retired last September and taken out of its holes. My sense is we have moved in a direction that has been pretty aggressive in [terms of] reductions and changes in posture. There are some other classified activities inside the military that are also in compliance with the Moscow Treaty. We are moving pretty aggressively here to do that.

As the advocate for operational nuclear forces, I would note that most of these weapons are aging. The design criteria associated with them that was valid in the 1950s and 1960s against the world that we live in today is starting to change. So, this concept introduced by Congress called the Reliable Replacement Warhead [RRW program] is important to us. It is not a new warhead. It is going after upgrades in safety, security, and surety of the weapons. The extent to which you can leverage the reduction in operationally deployed warheads to free up resources—the intellectual capital, the laboratories, the production- and maintenance-type capital, and the dollars and cents—to start moving us to safer and more reliable weapons is something we are supporting. So, bringing down operationally deployed weapons is leverage to allow us to move in that direction. We also see in [the RRW program] the ability to build and design in the current construct weapons that do not need testing. Now, that has yet to be proved, but that is the design goal that we are trying to shoot for.

ACT: Would STRATCOM be comfortable in adding an RRW weapon that had not been tested?

Cartwright: The work that we are doing with the laboratories today would give us reasonable confidence that we can move forward [without testing]. Again, it is not a redesign of the whole weapon; it is focused on safety, security, and surety. We believe we can understand the changes that would be introduced and be comfortable that we can manage the margins of performance inside of those and stay within the regime that would allow us not to have to test. Now, we are in the early stages of the design work. You have got to see this mature, and you have to understand the uncertainties associated with it. There are a certain number of uncertainties that are just associated with nuclear science. You have got to understand how all of those stack up. But the belief right now is that you could, in fact, manage this activity in a way that would not require testing.

ACT: Going back to the original question about high alert, what threats require the United States to maintain nuclear-armed strategic systems on high alert?

Cartwright: In the old triad,[5] the bombers were on alert, but their response [was] measured in hours to close to the target. Submarines were our survivable leg. Land-based missiles on alert were our quick responders. That was generally how we looked at that triad. We already talked about the bombers. On submarines, there is a pretty good dialogue—good, bad, or indifferent—on [converting some nuclear-armed SLBMs] to conventional. The thought process that we have worked our way through is that the conventional variant, if it was to be approved, would be the priority weapon system for defining where we patrol and what we do. This stays consistent with the idea that submarines are the survivable leg. Those assets can afford a longer time to be responsive.

ICBMs remain the responsive—high-alert, as you stated it—assets. Again, we have gotten the Peacekeepers out of that level of activity. We are now at 500 ICBMs (Minuteman IIIs). There is a dialogue with Congress to do some more reductions.[6] So, that did not change the status of the ICBMs. But clearly the bomber status has changed, and we are moving in a direction that would keep the submarines survivable but prioritize conventional activities for them versus nuclear activities.

ACT: In his May 2000 speech, President Bush also argued that the premise of Cold War nuclear targeting should no longer dictate the size of our arsenal. However, even after the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (Moscow Treaty), the United States still intends to deploy up to 2,200 strategic nuclear warheads. This force level suggests that the U.S. arsenal size is still being driven by Russian targeting considerations. Why is this the case nearly two decades after the end of the Cold War?

Cartwright: There are a couple of ways to look at that. The Russians still do have the preponderance of nuclear capability, and they certainly have the preponderance of delivery capability to threaten the United States, should they choose to. Intent is always the hardest thing to understand—you have to have at least one paranoid person around, and that is STRATCOM—so you have to make sure you are accounting for the risks that you are accepting in a relationship. But, having said that, the Russians for all intents and purposes have complied with the Moscow Treaty. You are starting to see the emergence of other countries with either the acknowledged capability or the acknowledged intent to field nuclear weapons. Today, they are characterized by nowhere near the delivery platforms or numbers, if they have nuclear weapons, of Russia. Certainly, the accuracy, range, and all the other attributes associated [with those systems] are not as good probably as, say, the Russians were at the peak of their time. Then, there are those who just have aspirations and are working aggressively to get delivery platforms. So, there is a range of activity out there. The question becomes, what do you want to have and is that a more difficult target set than being able to focus in on just the Russian/Soviet Union landmass.

Does this [expansion in the number of countries with weapons] get matched by the number of warheads? Is that an appropriate way to look at it? Is it really more of a problem for delivery systems and the appropriate way to do it? Do you have a broad enough range of effect? What we are talking about there is escalation control and confidence-building measures. When you have more than just one adversary, those become much more difficult to manage. It’s more complicated if you are dealing with multiple governments and the way they govern; multiple, different end-states that they might have in mind; and different levels of sophistication in their weapons production and delivery enterprises.

One of the things that we came to with the Russians was a reasonable protocol about warning time, and we used that to manage our relationship. If you got inside that warning time, that was grounds for being uncomfortable with each other. We could measure that through treaties or sensors or whatever. We do not necessarily have those relationships with others that are starting to be interested in the nuclear enterprise or weapons of mass destruction in general.

ACT: Speaking of treaties with Russia, the 1991 START, with its extensive verification and information exchange regime, is set to expire in December 2009. As a military commander, are you worried about losing that level of transparency and confidence provided by that regime, and would you like to see those mechanisms or measures extended or transformed in some way?

Cartwright: As a military commander, I would sure like to see them transformed; if not transformed, then to remain. I think you want something that is a little more responsive to the changes that occur in the world than the current treaty construct. That is someone else’s domain—the Department of State—to figure out. The attributes that you would seek are transparency, the ability to generate warning time, and confidence in what the intentions are of a counterpart. When talking about the United States and Russia before, I mentioned warning time. Warning time allows me to defend myself and not misjudge what it is that you are doing. A vehicle [for the attributes mentioned above] should allow the regime or protocol to keep up with the state of the technology in the future.

The State Department is working very hard on a Joint Data Exchange Center with the Russians. It has had some trouble getting its foundation laid down, but it looks like it is starting to move forward. This center would allow us to exchange information in real time and across more than just offensive weapons. We could start to look at missile defense, defensive weapons, and space sensors. There are any number of things that you could start to bring in to help create, like we did with warning time, better confidence of what each other is doing so misinterpretation becomes less of a problem. Whatever the construct is that we do with a treaty-like activity, you are trying to make sure that you can build confidence, understand the intentions of your adversary, and have time to react appropriately to those intentions. Usually, “appropriately” is defined as finding alternative ways to get out of a problem. You want to generate the time to be able to do that; the less time, the less options you have.

ACT: Russia repeatedly cites the continuing existence of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in Europe as a threat and as a reason for not reducing its own tactical nuclear weapons arsenal. What is the military justification for retaining almost 500 U.S. nuclear warheads in Europe?

Cartwright: We have a relationship with NATO under which we have various platforms and capabilities stationed in support of that activity.[7] So, we meet those obligations.

The bigger issue associated with tactical weapons is the issue of their size, volume, weight, et cetera. It is hard to steal a ballistic missile. It might be easier to get at something that is tactical. [One concern] is that, in exercising, protecting, and demonstrating what your [tactical nuclear] capabilities are in order to be transparent, do you expose those things, and is that giving an opportunity to terrorists to get in and out? We believe with great certainty that ours are well controlled. We worry about newcomers and about all of the [former] Soviet Union. Where did all this stuff go? Do we have good control of it?

The Russian perception of the world is that they are surrounded by countries that look like they are starting to proliferate and have the potential to have tactical weapons. They may not have the transparency with [countries] that are relatively close to them as we [do].

ACT: So, your perception is that Russia’s posture is a response to some other country’s current or potential nuclear arsenal rather than, say, U.S. conventional superiority?

Cartwright: It has to play into the calculus. I think it really has to play into their calculus. From the standpoint of our calculus, we have a strategy to assure allies that we will be there for them if they are attacked. In that assurance, we are trying to develop more precise weapons and more credible weapons. I’m talking more about the conventional side of the equation here. [We want] capabilities that are responsive and that really can assure [our allies]. Assurance is a very difficult thing for those countries in today’s environment, where short- and medium-range ballistic missiles can be rolled out, fired, and hidden in very short order and their flight time is very quick. Look at the Middle East, for instance; the time of flight and the time of reaction is very, very quick now. It is starting to creep way inside of those comfort zones that we had in the Cold War about having time to have alternatives. This new class of weapons, particularly short- and medium-range, that is being developed really puts stress on normal protocols to make sure that you got options and transparency.

ACT: You mentioned conventional weapons. Given today’s threat environment and STRATCOM’s likely war-fighting scenarios, do you believe that the United States needs to develop more useable nuclear weapons or a more effective array of conventional weapons?

Cartwright: It is never an either/or. But I think right now the balance of usability and functionality for the problems we are trying to address—because of precision, because of speed, because of the associated technologies—there are more viable options that can be serviced by conventional weapons than maybe in the past.

ACT: In that regard, you have this Prompt Global Strike initiative to start converting two missiles on each U.S. ballistic missile submarine to carry conventional warheads instead of nuclear warheads. Does this reflect a determination that conventional warheads can effectively replace nuclear weapons for some existing target sets or simply the addition of new missions and potential targets?

Cartwright: Both. Let’s go to new emerging targets and the war on terrorism, [using] both a historical example and a [more recent] one. [Look at] the activities associated with the [1986 Operation] El Dorado Canyon strike against Libya. We had problems [with] overflight rights and going into an area that was defended. We lost an F-111 fighter-bomber. We lost a crew. It was in an area where you clearly had somebody who was supporting terrorism acts that occurred in the buildup [before the U.S. mission]: where terrorists left that country, did something, and then went back, et cetera. [What] if you could influence in a way that was quickly responsive and precise, while doing a much better job of controlling collateral damage and not having to expose crews and aircraft to defensive measures? All of those things would argue for a better way of doing it.

Now, there have been several initiatives since El Dorado Canyon to build weapons that could work in that environment. Still, move forward to Afghanistan: it took us almost six weeks to get the overflight rights to get at the terrorist camps. In that period, they had time to move, leave, deceive, protect themselves, you name it. If we could have gotten there much quicker—this is where you get into the subjective—would it have been different? Clearly, time, reaction, and the ability to get to places that are either heavily defended or are just plain hard to get to are some things that we have got to understand as we move forward in developing delivery systems and weapons. The more complicated these problem get oftentimes—let’s just take those past two examples—the more inappropriate, probably, a nuclear response is. Yet, if that is what you have as your immediate response capability, what choice does a country have? You really enter into a self-deterred environment.

ACT: There have been some concerns raised about Prompt Global Strike. Russian President Vladimir Putin recently expressed concern that other nuclear powers might misinterpret a U.S. launch of a conventionally armed ballistic missile as a nuclear-armed missile and retaliate accordingly. How do you address this danger of ambiguity, particularly during a crisis?

Cartwright: It was interesting because he did use the word “other.”[8] Maybe transparency and the Joint Data Exchange Center and some of these things are actually starting to work. I hope so. But you always have to worry in war that your actions might be interpreted incorrectly. It does not matter whether you are dealing with an intercontinental ballistic missile or an M-16 rifle. If you pull the trigger in war, the second- and third-order effects of intent are always the most difficult thing to understand. But you try to build in escalation control and transparency. As a ground commander, one of the first things you are always trying to do is establish some sort of communication with your adversary. They may believe you, they may not. But at least you have got to try to develop some sort of confidence-building measures so your intent is understood. That works both ways. You want them to understand why you are there and what you are doing. You want them to understand clearly what your end-state is because, if they go in a different direction, both of you can really get hurt. If you are a wrestler in high school, the worst person you can wrestle is somebody who has no experience and has no idea how to play the game because you are going to get hurt.

Where I think [Putin] is focused—now, I do not want to put words in his mouth—is if you are an emerging country trying to build delivery systems and saying that you actually have nuclear capabilities, how are we going to know when you launch that capability what it is that you are actually doing? [We need to make] sure that emerging countries that are starting to develop ballistic missiles enter into some sort of set of agreements with us to help build an understanding of confidence about what it is they are trying to accomplish, what their activities really are, and what they think [their activities] mean. If [they] are not going for mutual assured destruction but limited action, make sure it is interpreted as limited action. But how do you build those transparency measures? Those are the key activities. Are Russia’s neighbors bothering to tell the Russians that they are launching something? A lot of other countries do not bother to tell you when they are launching something. You have got a certain amount of time to see if it is on a ballistic trajectory and what direction is that trajectory going. Is there one, or are there multiples? The ambiguity goes up significantly if you do not get any notification.

ACT: You interpret Putin’s comments as aimed at third countries rather than the United States?

Cartwright: I am sure that he is talking to us too, but I am also sure that there is kind of a secondary message here that this is not just a U.S.-Russian problem. We have got to look broader. How are we going to manage these ballistic missiles that are starting to proliferate? How are we going to manage the intent of the country, independent of what the warhead is? How are we going to manage the difference between test and exercise and conflict? Where do we start to build and in what form do we start to build those transparency and escalation control measures?

ACT: What about vis-à-vis the United States? How would you answer those critiques vis-à-vis the United States?

Cartwright: Today, what we have done, significantly with the Russians but also with others, is to start to publish whenever we are going to launch. Since 1968, we have had 430-450 [Trident] launches [without nuclear warheads]. We publish that. We put it out in the open source. We make sure that we tell what direction and the general part of the day or what day it is going to be. You can imagine that, with that many launches, we have had bad weather, we have had maintenance malfunctions, et cetera, but we get that word out. We do that regularly. If a country is interested in knowing it, we are interested in telling them what we are doing. We will continue to do that whether we think they can see us or not. You ought to assume that something has given them an indication [about U.S. activities], rather than saying, “Gee, they do not have a satellite” or “They do not have radar today.” You always should assume that somebody has seen something happen. The more you tell them, the more you announce it, the more you publish it, the more you are standardizing how you do business, the more important.

The other piece to this that I think is probably pretty significant is that we have certainly moved on a path to not classify what is going on. As we manage [Prompt Global Strike]—as we did with artillery, ground-based cruise missiles, sea-based cruise missiles, air-launched cruise missiles, bombers, et cetera, when we moved them to dual-purpose—we have tried to make that as transparent to everyone as possible. The intent here is to get it out, to get it understood, exercise it, demonstrate it, and show people what it can and cannot do. If [other countries] have radar or they have a space system, then they can see it. When we do that, we tell them ahead of time: look in this area. [The goal is to] get to that more transparent environment. Again, at the end of the day, if a person believes that M-16 is going to kill them, they are going to react one way. If they believe that it is a warning shot, they are going to act a different way. The more you keep it transparent, the better. But you can never guarantee how an adversary interprets something.

ACT: You mentioned the proliferation of ballistic missile technologies. One of the concerns about Prompt Global Strike is that maybe it will imbue ballistic missiles with more strategic value in the eyes of others. Might this proposal undercut missile nonproliferation efforts?

Cartwright: Two ways to go at that. One is that we have not built any new ballistic missiles in quite a while. In fact, we have gone down. Yet, what you see in the world is the proliferation of ballistic missiles.

Another way to look at it is if we do something like this, will it [provide an incentive to] somebody else to either accelerate what they are doing or start new efforts as they watch what we are doing? Again, there is no intent to increase the number of [ballistic missiles]. There is intent to create a diversity of effects that is more appropriate for the world that we are in and more controlling of escalation. But it is more of an acknowledgement that the world we are in is not one country versus another anymore. It is a global problem, particularly when you deal with terrorism. Our forces, transports, delivery vehicles, ships, airplanes, et cetera, are reducing in numbers, so the physical distance that any one branch of the service has to cover is greater. The range of effect a ship has to cover is greater. So, you have got to start to move to delivery vehicles that have global reach inside of the timelines of the regret factors that someone would deliver to you with a ballistic missile. [Prompt Global Strike] is really about if we have got to reach globally quickly—and that is the new world we live in—then let’s have a more responsible effect at the other end. Some people use the word “proportional.” I am not sure that is a good one; “appropriate” [might be better].

ACT: So, does Prompt Global Strike herald a growing transition away from nuclear warheads for strategic missions?

Cartwright: It certainly offers an alternative. Today, [our method of] prompt global strike is nuclear, and that is where I am trying to change.

ACT: The initial elements of a nationwide missile defense system were deployed in the fall of 2004, but it has yet to be declared operational. Why is that, and what has to be done before that system will be declared operation?

Cartwright: The declaration of it being operational is up to the national command authority.[9] But there are certain criteria that [are] important from STRATCOM’s perspective. Today, the system is a [research and development] system with a rudimentary operational capability. In November 2004, STRATCOM entered into what we called a shakedown period, which was really the first chance that we had to put operators into the system, run it for extended periods of time to understand [whether] this is what an operator needs versus what a developer needs. What would you change about it? How do you do management of the system, [including] command and control of the sensors and the weapons? We went through that for about six to eight months. We took all of the lessons out of that, along with some other things that we did in testing, and said, “Okay, here is what we need to have in the system in order to be ready to go.” Those upgrades, adjustments, or whatever you want to call them started to be installed by the Missile Defense Agency in about November of last year. That installation period was to take through the late summer of this year.

We are waiting to see how all that installation work goes. There were a series of tests that we as operators wanted to see, [such as] using the radars that are in the system to actually track incoming missiles and then transmit the data. We had several [tests] over the past year across the face of radars and things like that. There were new sensors we wanted added for redundancy and command and control capabilities for redundancy and assurance. Those are all now starting to come onboard. At the end of this year, we will start to see the fruits of those upgrades. The other piece that you would like to see is some consistent success with the ground-based interceptor. We have had one good shot here recently, which was the first [test] that had all of the production components end to end in the system.[10] That was an important test. There are two more that are coming that shall demonstrate [the interceptor’s] ability to maneuver and ability to actually hit the target. We want to see that along with the introduction of these new sensors so that we know those sensors match up with those weapons.

There is also a big piece of this involving the [Standard Missile-3] ship-based interceptors and the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) interceptors. We want to see that piece actually integrated [with the sensors and command and control elements of the strategic missile defense system]. You may think you are just adding a module—like, “Gee, I’m going to have PAC-3 in the system now”—but did that have any effect on what you are doing with the ground-base interceptor? Those are things that we want to see over the next few months to be very comfortable. Does that mean that I would be uncomfortable bringing [the strategic ground-based system] up to an alert today if I or the national command authority felt that we had some kind of threat? No, I would bring it online in a heartbeat. There is no reason why you would not. But those are the kinds of things I would like to see over the next few months to make sure we got the system that we really want to have for the long term.

ACT: House Appropriations Energy and Water Development Subcommittee Chairman David Hobson (R-Ohio) said it is time for a thoughtful and open debate on the role of nuclear weapons in our country’s national security strategy. Would STRATCOM welcome this debate, and what are some of the key issues that you feel that debate should revolve around?

Cartwright: You have hit all of them in this. I believe that debate is something we have to have. In the debate, what is the appropriate use [of nuclear weapons]? What is the appropriate match between what we see out there in the world today and the types of weapons we have available? [What are] the confidence-building measures and the escalation controls so we [can] build as many options to not use weapons as possible? All those things ought to be discussed. But we are, because of a lack of a debate, kind of locked in what we had in the Cold War and how we used to do it. That is why the [conventional Trident missile] is such big deal for us. It is to get a discussion. Is that what we want for a capability, or is there something else we want for a capability? At the end of the day, I will do what I am told, obviously. But I think people ought to understand at least what a commander perceives as sometimes a mismatch for what it is we have as a threat out there and what we have as an arsenal.

ACT: Thank you.

Click here for a complete transcript of this interview.


Joint Data Exchange Center on Hold

Wade Boese

A former kindergarten in north Moscow is still awaiting its makeover into a center to help prevent the United States and Russia from stumbling into a nuclear war. The transformation was supposed to take a year, but U.S.-Russian disputes over taxes and liability issues have halted the renovation for more than five years. Now, U.S. officials hope that work might soon resume.

Then-Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin agreed in September 1998 to establish the Joint Data Exchange Center, and the plans were finalized June 4, 2000. At the center, the two countries are ultimately supposed to display information in real time when their early-warning systems detect launches of ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles traveling more than 500 kilometers in range or apogee. The purpose of sharing such data is to mitigate the possibility that benign activities are misinterpreted as an attack.

In December 2000, the two governments also decided that the center would serve as a clearinghouse for exchanging notifications, at least 24 hours in advance, when they intend to launch ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles.

Teams of 16 U.S. and 19 Russian military personnel would be assigned to the center, which would operate around the clock. Another 62 Russians would provide security and support.

Although both governments continue to profess strong support for the center, its establishment became tied up in a larger U.S.-Russian disagreement over whether U.S. entities working in Russia on certain projects should pay taxes and be liable for damages. Moscow insisted they should, while Washington rejected the notion.

The Bush administration settled on a strategy for resolving the most difficult case first and then applying that solution to similar problems. Last July, U.S. officials announced that terms had been reached on what they considered the most troublesome project, an agreement for both sides to dispose of 34 metric tons of weapons-usable plutonium. (See ACT, September 2005.) But the deal has yet to take effect because Moscow has not given its formal approval.

Still, U.S. officials repeatedly say that the delay is not a product of any U.S. or Russian misgivings but merely bureaucratic process and that they are confident this hurdle will soon be cleared. A U.S. official familiar with these issues told Arms Control Today May 19 that Russia’s approval is “real close.” The official added that once the plutonium project deal is sealed, the U.S. intention is to “immediately move forward” on resolving the liability and tax issues holding up other projects, including the Joint Data Exchange Center.





1. In 1946 the Air Force Strategic Air Command (SAC) was established to manage U.S. long-range bombers and their nuclear payloads. The Navy later developed its own nuclear forces—the Polaris SLBM—and the Air Force added ICBMs to the U.S. nuclear delivery mix. In 1960 the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff (JSTPS) was created to oversee planning and targeting for all U.S. nuclear forces. In June 1992, SAC and JSTPS were both shut down, and STRATCOM was established.

2. The Department of Defense has nine combatant commands: Central Command, European Command, Joint Forces Command, Northern Command, Pacific Command, Southern Command, Special Operations Command, Strategic Command, and Transportation Command.

3. The Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, also known as the Moscow Treaty, commits the United States and Russia to reduce their operationally deployed strategic nuclear forces to 1,700-2,200 warheads apiece by the end of 2012. The Department of State has reported that the 2007 target level for U.S. forces is 3,500-4,000 warheads.

4. President George H. W. Bush ordered U.S. strategic bombers off alert September 27, 1991, as part of what became known as the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives.

5. The old triad refers to ICBMs, SLBMs, and long-range bombers. The new triad promulgated in the 2001 Nuclear Posture Review consists of conventional and nuclear offensive strike capabilities, active and passive defenses, and a responsive defense infrastructure. The old triad is now seen as a sub-unit of the offensive strike component of the new triad.

6. The February 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review called for lowering the number of deployed ICBMs to 450. Warheads associated with the 50 missiles slated to be taken off alert are to be redeployed on some of the remaining ICBMs.

7. NATO’s 1999 Strategic Concept declared, “The fundamental purpose of the nuclear forces of the Allies is political: to preserve peace and prevent coercion and any kind of war.” The document further stated the alliance would “maintain adequate nuclear forces in Europe,” although it noted the circumstances in which their use would be contemplated were “extremely remote.”

8. In his May 10, 2006, address to the Russian Federal Assembly, Putin stated, “[T]he media and expert circles are already discussing plans to use intercontinental ballistic missiles to carry non-nuclear warheads. The launch of such a missile could provoke an inappropriate response from one of the nuclear powers, could provoke a full-scale counterattack using strategic nuclear forces.”

9. The national command authority is the president and the secretary of defense.

10. General James E. Cartwright is referring to the December 13, 2005, flight of the interceptor. This was the first successful flight test of the interceptor model currently deployed in Alaska and California. However, the test did not involve a target or an intercept attempt.


Congress Challenges Global Strike Plan

Miles A. Pomper

Congress is challenging a new Pentagon plan to arm some submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) with conventional warheads. In crafting the fiscal year 2007 defense authorization bill, lawmakers have also made a few other significant changes to plutonium-disposition, missile defense, and nuclear warhead programs proposed by the Bush administration.

The House approved the defense authorization bill May 11 by a 396-31 vote; the Senate Armed Services Committee approved its version May 4. Once the full Senate acts on the bill, which sets broad policy goals and funding ceilings, the two chambers will need to reconcile their versions of the bill before sending a final measure to President George W. Bush. In addition, both chambers later this year must pass a defense appropriations bill to allocate specific funding for programs in the half-trillion-dollar Pentagon budget as well as an energy appropriations bill to allocate funding for the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons-related programs.

In considering the defense authorization bill in May, both chambers raised questions about the administration’s new Prompt Global Strike plan, which would substitute conventional warheads for some nuclear warheads on 24 Trident D-5 SLBMs.

Under the administration proposal, within two years, two dozen conventionally armed missiles would be dispersed among 12 submarines. That would mean each vessel would carry 22 nuclear-armed and two conventionally armed missiles. The administration has asked for $127 million for the plan for fiscal year 2007, which begins Oct. 1.

Pentagon and administration officials have said that the change is needed to give the military a non-nuclear capability for hitting “fleeting targets” with a high “regret” factor if they are not destroyed. These might include unconventional weapons threats, enemy command and control elements, and terrorists.

But lawmakers have questioned whether submarines with mixed loads might cause confusion for other countries about the type of missile fired and its intended target. In such a circumstance, they worry that a country might conclude that it was under U.S. nuclear attack and potentially retaliate with nuclear weapons. Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, have raised similar concerns.

“The launch of such a missile could provoke an inappropriate response from one of the nuclear powers [or] could provoke a full-scale counterattack using strategic nuclear forces,” Putin said in his annual state of the nation address May 10.

In approving the defense authorization measure, the full House largely seconded the judgment of the House Armed Services Committee. That panel cut the administration’s entire $50 million procurement request for the submarine conversion program and well more than half of the related research and development request.

“The committee is concerned that the development of this conventional ballistic missile capability for a submarine that has historically carried nuclear-armed ballistic missiles could cause a missile launch misinterpretation regarding which type of warhead a ballistic missile may be carrying,” the report said.

Although the Senate Armed Services Committee authorized the administration’s $127 million request, the panel prohibited the Navy from using more than $32 million of the funds until the secretaries of defense and state submitted a report to Congress addressing “nuclear ambiguity issues,” according to a committee press release.

The House and Senate panels met the administration’s $27.7 million request for another controversial weapons program: the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program. But the House Armed Services Committee included language in its report calling for a National Academy of Sciences study of whether a new scientific methodology that would be used to evaluate the program can be relied on. The RRW program would explore new warhead designs to increase the reliability, safety, and security of the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal without the resumption of nuclear testing. The United States has not carried out a nuclear test since 1992.

The House panel also called for the secretaries of energy and defense to outline their plans by Feb. 1 of next year “to transform the nuclear weapons complex so as to achieve a responsive infrastructure.” The Bush administration has called for the creation of such a modernized and expanded infrastructure, saying its creation would allow the United States to quickly meet new demands for nuclear weapons that might arise in the future while maintaining the reliability of the existing stockpile.

The committee suggested that both this effort and the RRW program might obtain enhanced funds in the future if the Pentagon phases out another warhead, the W-80. The program calls on the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration to prepare another plan by Feb. 1 “for redirecting the human resources and facilities” from maintaining the W-80 to the RRW program and transforming the weapons complex.

Missile Defense

Without changing overall missile defense spending significantly, the House and the Senate plans made changes to the administration’s budget request, directing more spending to programs that are operational or closer to realization over longer-term initiatives. The administration requested $11.2 billion for missile defenses in fiscal year 2007, including $9.3 billion for the Missile Defense Agency. (See ACT, March 2006.)

The House overwhelmingly blocked a proposed amendment by Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.) that would have cut funds for the agency in half. It also would have prohibited the deployment of space-based interceptors and additional deployments of Ground-based

Midcourse Defense (GMD) system interceptors. Only 124 lawmakers voted for the measure, while 301 voted against it.

Instead, lawmakers focused on smaller changes. The Senate panel, for example, added $200 million for flight-testing the GMD system against long-range ballistic missiles. The GMD system has been deployed in Alaska and California. At the same time, it cut $200 million, roughly a 50 percent reduction, from the Kinetic Energy Interceptor (KEI) program, a fast-acceleration land-based interceptor, which aims to shoot down missiles as they ascend. The House called for a $20 million boost for the $2.9 billion GMD program and a $100 million cut from the KEI effort, whose deployment schedule has been delayed from 2012 to 2014.

The Senate panel also added substantial chunks of $100 million each to accelerate improvements to and increase the number of Aegis ship-based Standard Missile-3 interceptors as well as for Army procurement and upgrades of additional Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missiles. By contrast, the House committee called for increasing the administration’s request by $40 million and $140 million, respectively, for those programs. The administration had requested $1 billion for the Aegis program and had asked for up to $900 million for the PAC-3s.

The House also eliminated $55.8 million the administration had requested for constructing a third GMD interceptor site in Europe and cut $65 million from the $165 million administration request for the Multiple Kill Vehicle Program.

Plutonium Disposition

Both chambers are seeking to move forward with U.S. plans for disposing of weapons-grade plutonium independent of Russian action; the administration request included funds toward a Russian disposal facility. The two nations agreed six years ago to each blend 34 metric tons of surplus plutonium with uranium to provide mixed oxide (MOX) fuel for nuclear power reactors. But the effort has been stalled for several years, and Russia has recently suggested it might abandon its effort and instead dispose of most of the plutonium in a fast-breeder reactor. Such reactors produce additional plutonium, a shift the United States has not supported because of proliferation concerns.

The House approved $174 million for construction of a MOX facility at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. The administration had asked for nearly $290 million, including $35 million toward a Russian facility.

The Senate panel approved the full construction funds but withheld nearly all of the money for the U.S. and Russian projects until 30 days after the Energy Department files two reports. For the U.S. funds to proceed, the Energy Department would have to provide an independent cost estimate for construction and certify that it planned to use the MOX facility for plutonium disposition, regardless of what occurs with the Russian program. For the Russian funds to move forward, the department would have to address concerns such as the method of disposing plutonium, the schedule for doing so, and how this would correspond with the U.S. effort.



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