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"I really enjoyed the last phone conference. For those of us who support ACA but do not work in this field, these phone conferences are very educational."

– Maura Davenport
Member
December 12, 2017
July/August 2006
Edition Date: 
Saturday, July 1, 2006
Cover Image: 

U.S.-Indian Deal Clears Congressional Hurdles

Wade Boese

Key lawmakers gave their initial blessing at the end of June to a Bush administration initiative to expand civilian nuclear commerce with India, but reserved final judgment pending completion of detailed terms governing such trade. U.S. and Indian negotiators recently held their first round of negotiations toward this end, while New Delhi has yet to begin talks on granting international inspectors greater access to its civilian nuclear sector.

President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pledged in July 2005 to overhaul three decades of acrimonious U.S.-Indian nuclear relations, which stem in large part from India’s 1974 nuclear test that made use of U.S. and Canadian imports intended for peaceful purposes. Bush committed to changing U.S. law and international rules restricting full civilian nuclear trade with India, while Singh vowed to make India’s nuclear establishment more open. (See ACT, September 2005.)

Nearly a year later, neither side has fulfilled its pledges despite the Bush administration’s early hopes that the entire process would move quickly. Winning twin votes in the House International Relations and Senate Foreign Relations Committees giving the president authority to waive certain aspects of U.S. law to pursue nuclear trade with India marked the first concrete White House step to hold up its end of the bargain. The June 27 House vote was 37-5, while the June 29 Senate vote was 16-2.

The bills approved by the committees, however, were not exactly what the administration wanted.

The White House originally asked lawmakers to back legislation that would have made it easier for a detailed U.S.-Indian bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement to sail through Congress once it is negotiated. (See ACT, April 2006.) Such agreements are required by the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, which also establishes specific standards of behavior for U.S. nuclear trade partners. Instead of requiring a majority of both congressional chambers to approve a bilateral cooperation agreement for it to take effect, the administration advocated a process by which the agreement would essentially enter into force unless two-thirds of both chambers voted against it.

The House and Senate committees rejected the administration’s approach. Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), chairman of the House panel, derided the administration-backed legislation June 27 as “profoundly unsatisfactory” because it had asked Congress “to remove itself” from having a final say on the future bilateral cooperation agreement. The chairman of the Senate panel, Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), said June 29 that requiring the agreement to receive a “positive vote…fully protects Congress’ role in the process.”

Hyde warned the administration against assuming that the agreement’s future passage is assured. He recommended U.S. negotiators “pay close attention to Congressional concerns” when working out the details of the agreement with their Indian counterparts.

Nonetheless, the process endorsed by the House panel mandates that any House floor debate on the agreement will be limited to six hours and lawmakers will not be permitted to offer amendments. The Senate bill does not contain similar procedures.

The full Senate and House still need to approve their respective versions of the legislation passed by the committees and then reconcile their differences before a measure can be sent to the president to sign into law.

The chief concern of lawmakers that emerged during the committee’s deliberations was preventing India’s use of any U.S. nuclear exports to help produce more nuclear weapons. The House and Senate panels adopted provisions explicitly stating that U.S. nuclear trade should not directly or indirectly assist India’s strategic program. But the Senate panel defeated a proposal by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) that would have required the president to certify that U.S. nuclear trade was not contributing to India’s military nuclear activities. The 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) prohibits the United States from aiding other countries’ nuclear weapons programs.

The Senate panel barred, except for a few specific scenarios, the export of any uranium enrichment, plutonium reprocessing, or heavy water production technologies to India. These technologies have direct applications to building nuclear bombs.

Some legislators sought and failed to condition U.S. nuclear exports on New Delhi ending or capping its production of fissile material, highly enriched uranium and plutonium, for nuclear weapons. California Democratic Representatives Howard Berman and Brad Sherman contended that without such a move U.S. nuclear trade could aid or contribute to a growth in India’s nuclear arms stockpile. House International Relations Committee ranking member Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) argued that an Indian fissile material production halt would be “desirable” but Congress could not demand it because it would be a “quintessential deal breaker.”

Both committees, however, passed language that could upset New Delhi. In particular, the committees adopted language to prohibit Washington from working with other capitals to supply India with nuclear transfers in the event that U.S.-Indian cooperation is terminated. The Singh government had been trumpeting the fact that a March U.S.-Indian agreement commits the United States to develop measures and join with other countries to ensure that India’s nuclear fuel supply will never be disrupted.

If India were to walk away from the deal, not all members of Congress would shed tears. Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa) said the U.S.-Indian deal amounted to a knife in the NPT, which he described as “the most serious arms control treaty perhaps ever negotiated.” The treaty codifies the right of civilian nuclear trade for countries forswearing nuclear weapons. Nuclear-armed India, Israel, and Pakistan never joined the accord.

Most of Leach’s fellow House panel members welcomed the prospect of engaging in nuclear trade with India. Yet, the House and Senate legislation both say that the 44 other countries in the voluntary Nuclear Suppliers Group must first also agree “by consensus” to full civilian nuclear commerce with India. The measures also conditioned approval on congressional satisfaction with the contents of the future bilateral cooperation agreement and the outcome of New Delhi’s effort to grant international inspectors greater ability to oversee and inspect India’s civilian nuclear apparatus.

Status of Negotiations

U.S. and Indian officials conducted their first round of negotiations on a bilateral cooperation agreement June 12-14 in New Delhi. The two sides have been tightlipped about the talks. One U.S. official told Arms Control Today June 23 that there had been “progress” but that both negotiating teams had issues and questions to take back to their capitals.

India reportedly had several concerns about a March U.S. draft of the agreement and submitted a version of its own to the United States in May. The substantive differences between the two drafts have largely remained secret, but India has publicly objected to a U.S. proposal to include a provision terminating the agreement if India conducts a nuclear test.

The next round of negotiations has yet to be scheduled. The U.S. official said that the two sides are “trying to go at the fastest pace possible.”

Meanwhile, it is unclear when New Delhi will begin negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on what safeguards will be applied to India’s civilian nuclear sector. The IAEA administers safeguards to deter and detect the misuse of civilian nuclear materials and technologies for military purposes.

In a March 2 agreement with Bush, Singh said India would submit 14 out of 22 current and planned thermal nuclear power reactors to “India-specific” IAEA safeguards by 2014. Six of the 14 already have safeguards or were previously slated for them. (See ACT, April 2006.)

Still, India has not defined what it means by India-specific. The IAEA only has one type of safeguards, known as INFCIRC/66, for countries outside the NPT. Any different formulation would need to be approved by the IAEA Board of Governors.

 

U.S., Russia Extend Threat Reduction Authority

Wade Boese

The United States and Russia have renewed until 2013 an agreement governing U.S. programs to help Russia secure and eliminate its excess unconventional arms and nuclear materials. The extension occurred June 16, on the eve of the agreement’s scheduled expiration.

The agreement spells out legal rights and responsibilities affecting the Department of Defense’s Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program, as well as some similar Department of Energy ventures. These issues include liability for program contractors, tax exemptions, and relevant site-visitation rights inside Russia.

Over the past few years, Russian officials complained that the agreement’s terms were heavily skewed in Washington’s favor. In particular, they claimed the liability provision would even absolve U.S. entities for deliberate damage. A U.S. official discounted this assertion in a May 19 Arms Control Today interview, saying it was a Russian “interpretation.”

Despite its past complaints, Moscow agreed to the same umbrella provisions in the June 16 extension. In addition to covering existing programs, the extended umbrella agreement will apply to new projects falling under the four general CTR efforts of eliminating strategic offensive arms, destroying chemical arms, safely transporting nuclear weapons, and securing nuclear weapons, according to a Pentagon official interviewed June 20 by Arms Control Today.

Established in 1992 to prevent leftover Soviet weapons from being misused or stolen, the CTR program has, among other accomplishments, contributed to the deactivation or destruction of 6,828 nuclear warheads, 152 bombers, 29 nuclear submarines, and 194 nuclear test tunnels. The CTR program is often referred to as the Nunn-Lugar program after its 1991 champions, Senators Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and Sam Nunn (D-Ga.). Nunn retired from the Senate in 1996.

Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, hailed the extension in a June 19 press release, asserting that “this cooperative effort has immeasurably increased the security of both our countries.” He noted that the United States has spent more than $5.7 billion on the program and related efforts over the last decade.

The recent extension does not address a long-delayed program in which the two countries each agreed to dispose of 34 metric tons of plutonium. The two sides struck a new liability deal for this effort last July (see ACT, September 2005), but the agreement is still wending its way through the Russian bureaucracy, according to U.S. officials. They say they remain optimistic about its eventual implementation.

 

Nonproliferation Diplomacy: An Interview with Ambassador Gregory L. Schulte

Miles A. Pomper

As U.S. permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and other Vienna-based organizations, Ambassador Gregory L. Schulte has been deeply involved in U.S. efforts to limit Iran’s nuclear program, develop a series of multilateral nuclear fuel assurances, and other nonproliferation initiatives. Arms Control Today met with Schulte in his Vienna office June 7 to discuss the status of U.S. efforts.

ACT: The latest that I’ve heard about the controversy over Iran’s nuclear programs is that Javier Solana, secretary-general of the Council of the European Union, delivered an offer to the Iranians. Can you tell us a little more about what’s in the offer?

Schulte: We have chosen to not reveal the details of the offer. It was something agreed among the six foreign ministers [ China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States] because we want to give the leaders in Tehran every opportunity to consider the offer carefully and to give it a reasoned response. We don’t want to provoke them into a negative response because our goal, of course, is to convince them to suspend all enrichment-related activities, including research and development, and to start negotiations. The six foreign ministers laid out very clearly two paths. One is a positive path that will offer the Iranian people benefits, including access to civil nuclear power. The negative path is one that goes through the [UN] Security Council. We want to give them all opportunities to make the right choice, which is the positive path.

ACT: Have you defined what suspension means?

Schulte: Suspension has been defined again and again. It means all enrichment-related activities to include research and development. We’re not looking to parse that in some fashion. We’re looking for a full suspension.

ACT: Let me ask you about another area. I understand there is a pending U.S. proposal dealing with fuel assurances that is going to be announced at the IAEA Board of Governors meeting next week. Do you have any more details on that proposal?

Schulte: Well, for some time [IAEA] Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei has been urging countries to start work on a multilateral set of fuel assurances that could be made available to countries who are interested in nuclear power but who do not have an interest in investing in the enrichment and ultimately reprocessing capabilities associated with nuclear power. So in response to his request and recognizing that more and more countries are interested in nuclear power, the United States and France have worked with other nuclear fuel-supplying countries to put together a basic set of assurances for reliable nuclear fuel supply that would be implemented by the IAEA and that would be available to countries who have chosen not to have enrichment capabilities. Our intention is to brief the Board of Governors on this basic concept at the meeting next week.

Then we hope that the IAEA Secretariat will be in a position to move forward to start developing the more detailed legal, technical, and other aspects of this proposal so we might have a very basic mechanism that could be considered and potentially adopted by the board in September. Now, one thing I should stress in all this is we actually think that the civilian fuel market is quite adequate. It’s very diverse. It does a good job. It gives people interested in fuel a variety of countries and companies that it can turn to. So, the last thing we want to do is somehow interfere in the market. But we are prepared to work with the IAEA and others to put in these basic backup assurances for countries who worry that for some reason the market might fail them.

ACT: One of the reasons the Iranians have cited for why they need to have enrichment is as a kind of backup guarantee. Would Iran—if it down the road agreed not to go forward with enrichment, would Tehran be eligible for such programs?

Schulte: This program is designed for countries that choose not to have enrichment and reprocessing capabilities, and any country that participates in it of course would need to be abiding by its safeguards obligations. So, Iran has some major violations that they have to deal with first. When we put these assurances together, it was not with Iran specifically in mind. We were learning the lessons of Iran and looking to the future, recognizing that more and more countries are interested in nuclear power.

One of the things that Iran has illustrated to us is that there is a major loophole in the [nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty] NPT. The loophole is one whereby countries, under the guise of a civil program, can develop the wherewithal for nuclear weapons. They can, as Iran has done, develop an enrichment capability when it’s not actually for a civil program, when it’s actually for a military program. This is a loophole that’s been recognized by not just the United States but also by [UN Secretary-General] Kofi Annan and ElBaradei. Part of our goal to fill that loophole is in fact to put fuel assurances in place to give countries additional confidence that they don’t have to develop these type of enrichment and reprocessing capabilities.

ACT: Would countries such as the United States, for instance, ultimately still have to give approval for deliveries of this fuel to go forward?

Schulte: The goal is to have the mechanism be sufficiently diverse so that if there were an issue with one supplier, the IAEA would be in a position to facilitate supply from another country and the arrangement might even be backed up with some standing reserves of fuel. For example, in September of last year, [Energy Secretary Samuel] Bodman announced that the United States was prepared to downblend 17.4 metric tons of highly enriched uranium [HEU], which was surplus to our military requirements, and use that as part of a U.S. contribution to a backup reserve.[1] Other countries have also been looking at whether they would be prepared to contribute in a similar fashion.

ACT: Have any other countries committed to contribute?

Schulte: We know that Russia, for example, has been looking at this as a possibility.

ACT: Switching topics to India, IAEA officials tell me that the Indians have yet to present any safeguards proposal to the agency. Do you know when they will, and do you know why they have not yet done so? As you know, members of Congress are looking to consider the IAEA safeguards proposals as part of their decision-making process. How would this work out in terms of staging?

Schulte: There are a number of moving parts here. There’s the congressional piece, where Congress needs to make changes to the Atomic Energy Act and would also need to approve a U.S.[-Indian] 123 agreement.[2] The Nuclear Suppliers Group would need to, in our judgment, make an exemption to existing rules for India.[3] There’s the safeguards agreement that needs to be negotiated between India and the IAEA, and finally there’s the 123 agreement, which needs to be worked out between the United States and India. Our goal is to try to move all of these moving parts together in tandem.

So, for example, we have been urging the Indian government to move forward with the negotiations with the IAEA on a safeguards agreement. There was an initial discussion that took place a number of months ago between the head of India’s Atomic Energy Commission [Anil Kakodkar] and ElBaradei where they talked about the nature of the agreement. We hope that those talks will continue soon. The Indians have committed to a permanent safeguards agreement. We know they have to be somewhat unique for India, given the nature of this agreement. On the other hand, we also know and the Indians know that these have to be permanent safeguards that are put in place and that the Board of Governors will need to be satisfied with the arrangements put in place.[4]

ACT: You said that they were somewhat unique. I guess the phrase that was used in the March U.S.-Indian agreement was that there would be “India-specific safeguards.” But no one can really figure out what that means. Does the United States have an idea of what that means?

Schulte: Well, I think the director-general has an idea of what that means. He thinks that it will look pretty much like a standard safeguards agreement that a non-nuclear-weapons country would have, with some adjustments for India.

ACT: Can you give me a sense of what kind of adjustments you’re talking about? Obviously, they have nuclear weapons, so some elements would not be relevant to a non-nuclear-weapon state, but which ones?

Schulte: This agreement is going to apply to various facilities, and it’s up really to the IAEA and India to work out the details of that agreement.

ACT: Part of the U.S. agreement talks about a fuel-supply agreement. Would India be eligible for this kind of assured fuel supply that you are talking about?

Schulte: The arrangements that we have put in place are for countries that have chosen not to have enrichment and reprocessing capabilities. India has enrichment capabilities.

ACT: Okay. The agreement talks about what are essentially assured supplies of fuel for the facilities. Maybe we are reading this incorrectly, but it appears that safeguards would essentially be contingent on the assurance of fuel supply and whether that goes forward. Is that a correct reading, and isn’t that also a different way of dealing with safeguards than is traditional?

Schulte: It’s very clear. They’re permanent safeguards. They’re not contingent on anything. We think that this provides a net gain to the nonproliferation treaty. Obviously, for 30 years we have been encouraging India to join the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon state. It’s apparent after 30 years of effort that that’s not going to happen. The director-general, among others, was urging us to think differently about India. We have now thought differently about India. We’ve thought about how best we can help it meet its energy concerns and at the same time strengthen the nonproliferation regime. The judgment we’ve reached is that India has assumed enough additional commitments—safeguards commitments, commitments on not spreading enrichment and reprocessing [technology], commitments related to the Nuclear Suppliers Group [NSG] guidelines—that this is a net benefit to the proliferation regime. I certainly can’t speak for the Congress, but I’ve been involved in recent discussions of the NSG taking place here in Vienna, and it’s clear that more and more countries are understanding that this is a net benefit to the nonproliferation regime. It’s important given India’s place in the world, given their relations with India, and given India’s own requirements for nuclear power.

ACT: Actually, I have a question regarding the safeguards committee that was established by the IAEA last year. According to folks at the IAEA, all that’s happened so far with the committee is that the IAEA Secretariat has submitted a couple of papers that have recommendations and people are considering them. Is there any more that you can tell me about what is going in this regard?

Schulte: The committee was established in June of last year. It had its first meeting in November. It’s gone through an organizational phase. I think it’s now starting to get down to work. As you say, the secretariat has submitted a number of recommendations, meant to strengthen the safeguards system. There was a good technical discussion of those recommendations. The committee is considering those recommendations. We have also provided a briefing on lessons learned from the A. Q. Khan network to the committee to encourage countries to think about how you deal with these future challenges. We anticipate next week that there will be a first progress report from the committee to the Board of Governors. We hope that, when it reconvenes in September, it will have transitioned fully out of the organizational phase and really started to get down to work.

ACT: One of those suggestions, as I understand it, was for certain satellite providers to give priority access to the IAEA for imagery. Is that something the United States will support?

Schulte: We have a support program that’s very active in terms of providing support for the IAEA. We have looked at ways of providing them enhanced access to satellite imagery. We’ve looked at ways of providing them enhanced access to open source information. We recognize increasingly that, for the IAEA to carry out its role, it doesn’t do it just with inspections and by taking swipe samples. But it also needs to take advantage of the wealth of information that’s out there, for example, just from open sources. So, we’re looking for ways to help them with that.

ACT: A couple more questions on Iran. I understand that there will probably be a written report from the director-general on where the investigation stands [the report was released June 12]. Do you expect anything else in terms of debate or substance on Iran at the Board of Governors meeting?

Schulte: We’re expecting a written report tomorrow. It will probably be a very short report because unfortunately we haven’t seen and the agency hasn’t seen really any cooperation from Iran. The last report we received said there essentially had been no cooperation over the last month. We suspect that the upcoming report will say something similar. Of course, we’ll look very carefully at the report to tell us if Iran is preparing to suspend its enrichment-related activities, which we called upon them to do, or if Iran seems poised to move forward quickly. But we don’t see next week’s board meeting as a diplomatic deadline or decision point. Right now, the decision does not lie in Vienna, the decision lies in Tehran. And we are looking for the leadership in Tehran to choose the constructive path. From here in Vienna, we will be watching to see, are they prepared to meet IAEA demands to suspend enrichment and reprocessing activities, are they prepared to start cooperating with the IAEA, are they prepared to start implementing the additional protocol? We, of course, will be doing our best to make clear that the Board of Governors and nations more broadly called upon them to do three things: suspend the activities that concern us so much, cooperate with the IAEA, and start to negotiate in good faith.

ACT: What do you think of their responses so far?

Schulte: I think it’s too early to judge. We want to give them the opportunity for a considered response. As the president [George W. Bush] said, the initial response after the package was presented to Iran sounded positive, but we’re giving them the opportunity to respond. We want them to make the positive decision, but they need to manifest this by a willingness to negotiate seriously, and they need to manifest this by verifiably and fully suspending their enrichment-related activities.

ACT: Does this suspension have to be permanent?

Schulte: We’re just asking for a suspension.

Click here for a complete transcript of the interview.

 


ENDNOTES

1. Wade Boese, “U.S. Proposes Nuclear Fuel Safety Net,” Arms Control Today, November 2005, p. 35.

2. The United States submitted a draft civil-nuclear agreement to India in March 2006. The Indian government countered with their own version in May. The two governments are now negotiating over these two drafts. See Wade Boese, “U.S.-Indian Nuclear Deal Simmers,” Arms Control Today, June 2006, p. 44.

3. The Nuclear Suppliers Group is a 45-nation group that voluntarily seeks to coordinate the export of nuclear materials.

4. Wade Boese, “Bush, Singh Advance Nuclear Deal,” Arms Control Today, April 2006, p. 32.

 

Nuclear Suppliers Still Split on U.S.-Indian Deal

Wade Boese

The world’s leading nuclear supplier states remain divided on a U.S. initiative to exempt India from international rules restricting civilian nuclear trade with New Delhi. The 45 members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) also are at odds on two proposals for adding regulations governing their nuclear exports.

Group members convened June 1-2 in Brasilia for an annual decision-making meeting, but no major policy decisions were adopted because of differences among the participants. The voluntary group operates by consensus to coordinate nuclear export controls among its members, which range from nuclear-armed powers such as the United States and Russia to the small, non-nuclear island nation of Malta.

India, Israel, North Korea, and Pakistan are countries with significant nuclear programs that are outside the group. These four countries are barred from importing key nuclear materials and technologies from NSG members because, in part, they fail to meet a 1992 NSG requirement that importers submit their entire nuclear complexes to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. Such measures are intended to deter and detect the diversion of civilian nuclear technologies to building bombs.

President George W. Bush committed last July to clearing away barriers restricting full civilian nuclear trade with India. (See ACT, September 2005.) Now, U.S. officials, backed by their British, French, and Russian counterparts, are urging the NSG to exempt India from the 1992 rule, which was originally conceived and promoted by the United States.

Aside from the four main proponents and some strong critics, such as Sweden and Ireland, most NSG members seem to be on the fence, albeit leaning one way or the other. Before taking a final position, these members, for the most part, want to wait for Congress to act on the initiative, for Washington and New Delhi to complete negotiations on a bilateral cooperation agreement, and for India and the IAEA to conclude a new safeguards arrangement.

Several government officials of NSG members interviewed in June by Arms Control Today said that the Brasilia event saw no notable shifts in members’ positions. A few of these officials attributed the lack of movement to insufficient information provided by India and the United States in response to concerns and questions raised about the deal by NSG members at previous group meetings. Because NSG meetings are supposed to be confidential, the officials declined to be identified for this article.

The officials noted that China, for the first time, declared it would prefer establishing a criteria-based approach for determining whether countries not meeting the 1992 condition should be allowed to engage in nuclear trade, rather than singling out India for special exemption. China has nuclear projects underway with Pakistan, which has told the NSG that the U.S.-Indian initiative might destabilize South Asia. China can fulfill nuclear contracts with Pakistan that predate Beijing joining the NSG in 2004, but it is now restricted in pursuing new deals with Islamabad.

India declined to attend the Brasilia meeting despite being urged to do so by Washington. Although not a NSG member, India has pledged to abide by NSG rules for nuclear commerce.

U.S., British, and French officials reportedly sought to include a positive reference to the U.S.-Indian deal in the group’s closing public statement, but other members were not in favor of doing so. As a result, a June 2 statement by the group simply reported that members had examined and discussed the deal and “agreed to return to this matter.”

The group also will continue talks on two other major proposals on which the Brasilia meeting was unable to reach consensus. Both are outgrowths from a February 2004 Bush speech outlining proposals to stem the spread of unconventional weapons. (See ACT, March 2004.)

The first aims to establish as an NSG trade rule that importers must adhere to an IAEA additional protocol. Such protocols give the agency greater authority to investigate whether illicit nuclear activities are taking place inside a particular country.

Argentina and Brazil, which have not negotiated additional protocols, oppose such a move. So does South Africa, which pointed out that other group members— Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and the United States—have yet to bring their additional protocols into force. France and Russia, major nuclear suppliers, oppose this criterion too, presumably for commercial reasons.

The second U.S. proposal called for barring uranium-enrichment and plutonium reprocessing technologies to countries currently lacking operational facilities for those activities, which can produce both nuclear fuel and the explosive material for nuclear weapons. Last year, after some NSG members objected to an outright ban, the group agreed to devise criteria for judging whether importers should be permitted to receive enrichment and reprocessing capabilities. (See ACT, September 2005.) But members failed to concur on criteria in Brasilia.

Members did agree to exercise stricter control over some nuclear exports, including valves designed for uranium enrichment. Halting Iran’s uranium-enrichment program is a top priority for the United States and some other group members. The group reported that its talks on “current proliferation challenges focused principally on [ Iran].”

Nuclear experts of the group will meet next in October. The date and site of the next annual plenary are not fixed yet because the group has not selected who will serve as its next rotating chairman.

 

U.S., Allies End North Korea Reactor Project

Paul Kerr

 

The Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization’s (KEDO) executive board announced June 1 that it had formally terminated its project to build a light-water nuclear reactor in North Korea.

The organization’s executive board, which is comprised of Japan, the European Union, South Korea, and the United States, had debated the reactor project since the most recent North Korean nuclear crisis began in late 2002. Washington repeatedly attempted to persuade the executive board to end the reactor project, but Seoul resisted. The board instead decided to suspend work on the reactors, first doing so in December 2003. (See ACT, December 2003.)

KEDO’s executive board said it made its decision based on the “continued and extended failure” of North Korea to comply with its relevant obligations under the 1994 Agreed Framework.

Washington established KEDO as part of that agreement, which the United States and North Korea concluded following an earlier crisis over Pyongyang’s plutonium-based nuclear weapons program. The organization was charged with providing two proliferation-resistant light-water reactors to North Korea, as well as 500,000 metric tons of heavy-fuel oil each year while the reactors were under construction. In exchange, North Korea agreed to freeze operation of its graphite-moderated nuclear reactor and related facilities, halt the construction of two larger reactors, and store approximately 8,000 spent fuel rods under international monitoring. (See ACT, December 2005.)

Plutonium separated from spent reactor fuel can be used as fissile material in nuclear weapons, but it is more difficult to use light-water reactors for that purpose.

Beginning in December 2002, Pyongyang took several actions that violated the Agreed Framework, including ejecting International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors charged with monitoring the freeze, announcing its withdrawal from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and restarting the reactor. Pyongyang claims to have reprocessed the stored spent fuel to obtain plutonium for nuclear weapons.

These actions followed KEDO’s November 2002 decision to suspend the fuel oil shipments in response to Washington’s announcement that North Korean officials during a meeting the previous month had admitted to having a clandestine uranium-enrichment program. Uranium enrichment can be used to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. (See ACT, December 2003.)

South Korea’s Ministry of Unification said in a June 1 statement that delays in settling the North Korean nuclear issue influenced its decision to allow the project to end. Multilateral talks designed to resolve the nuclear crisis have not yet yielded a substantive agreement. Those talks began in August 2003 but have been stalled since November 2005. (See ACT, May 2006.)

In November, the executive board had agreed in principle to cancel the project and began discussions about the related legal and financial issues. The organization withdrew its personnel from the reactor construction site Jan. 8 following North Korea’s decision to “terminate…the agreements that governed KEDO’s presence at the site,” the organization’s June 1 statement said.

KEDO will continue as an organization, but its role will apparently be limited to carrying out the reactor project’s termination. Department of State spokesperson Tom Casey told reporters June 1 that KEDO’s headquarters in New York will “close as soon as practicable to terminate the operation.” An unnamed Unification Ministry official said the same day that completely liquidating the project “is expected to take a maximum of one year,” the semi-official Yonhap News Agency reported.

Seoul Left Holding the Bag

According to the Unification Ministry, KEDO’s executive board adopted a resolution May 31 saying that Seoul is to “cover the costs arising from the liquidation process,” such as resolving compensation claims from subcontractors. In return, the government-owned Korea Electric Power Corp., the prime contractor for the reactor project, would gain ownership over reactor “equipment and materials” located outside of North Korea.

The fate of assets remaining in North Korea, such as vehicles and construction equipment, is unclear. According to its June 1 statement, KEDO said it “requires payment” from Pyongyang for financial losses in connection with the reactor project. The statement did not specify an amount.

It appears unlikely that North Korea will soon provide any such compensation.

A State Department official told Arms Control Today June 20 that Pyongyang would “probably not” either surrender or pay for any KEDO assets remaining in the country.

Indeed, North Korea has argued that it should be compensated because the United States violated the Agreed Framework. Both governments have repeatedly accused each other of violating the agreement. (See ACT, December 2002.)

 

Potential North Korean Missile Test Raises Tension

Paul Kerr and Wade Boese

Reports in June that North Korea was on the verge of testing its first longer-range ballistic missile since 1998 set countries around the region on edge. Meanwhile, six-party talks concerning the North Korean nuclear crisis remain stalled.

National security adviser Stephen Hadley told reporters June 22 that preparations for a North Korean missile launch were “very far along,” although he had cautioned two days earlier that “the intelligence is not conclusive at this point.”

Hadley and other U.S. officials, including President George W. Bush, cautioned North Korea against going ahead with the test. The other countries involved in the six-party talks, which include China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea, similarly attempted to dissuade North Korea from such an action. The six countries have not met since November 2005.

John Bolton, U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, told FOX News June 22 that Washington’s reaction to a North Korean missile test would be “overwhelmingly negative.” Bolton has been engaged in “preliminary discussions” with other countries regarding possible multilateral responses to such a test, Department of State spokesperson Adam Ereli said June 20.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said June 19 that Tokyo would take “stern action if North Korea fires the missile,” Kyodo News Service reported. These actions could include economic sanctions, Abe said.

Further, the head of South Korea’s Ministry of Unification, Lee Jong-seok, stated that Seoul had “made it clear that a missile launch would have an impact on the South’s assistance to the North,” the country’s semi-official Yonhap News Agency reported June 23. South Korea is a major source of economic aid to its northern neighbor.

Ambassador Han Song Ryol, North Korea deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, told South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency June 21 that Pyongyang is “aware of the U.S. concerns,” adding that the two sides “should resolve the issue through negotiations.” But Ereli told reporters the same day that such a meeting is “not in the cards” and that North Korea should discuss the matter in the six-party talks.

Han also said that his government “has the right to test-fire missiles.” Another North Korean Foreign Ministry official, Ri Pyong Dok, told reporters June 20 that North Korea is not bound by a voluntary moratorium on flight-testing longer-range missiles, which Pyongyang has observed since September 1999.

In September 2002, North Korea agreed to extend the moratorium indefinitely as part of a bilateral agreement with Japan, known as the Pyongyang Declaration. Although North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in March 2005 that the moratorium was no longer “valid,” Pyongyang implicitly reaffirmed it in the six-parties’ September 2005 joint statement. (See ACT, April 2005.) North Korea and Japan pledged to “take steps to normalize their relations in accordance with the Pyongyang Declaration,” the statement says.

Vice President Dick Cheney told CNN June 22 that the missile is a Taepo Dong-2, a longer-range version of North Korea’s 2,000-kilometer-range Taepo Dong-1. (See ACT, June 2005.) The Taepo Dong-1, the longest-range missile Pyongyang has flight-tested, cannot reach the United States.

Because North Korea has not flight-tested the Taepo Dong-2, the missile’s capabilities are uncertain. The range of a ballistic missile depends on such factors as its payload and number of stages. Estimates of the Taepo Dong-2 range from 5,000 kilometers to 15,000 kilometers.

Cheney said the United States believes the missile has three stages, adding that Washington does not know the missile’s payload.

Japan’s senior vice minister for foreign affairs, Yaguhisa Shiozaki, told a parliamentary committee June 22 that North Korea does not appear to be able to mate a nuclear warhead to its longer-range missiles, the Yonhap News Agency reported. Publicly available U.S. intelligence estimates also tend to support that assessment.

The longest-range missile Pyongyang has deployed is the 1,300-kilometer-range Nodong, according to a December 2001 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate.

Missile Defense Activated?

The administration also responded to the North Korean missile launch preparations by readying its nascent long-range ballistic missile defense system to fire, according to a June 20 Washington Times article. But spokespersons from the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and Strategic Command declined to confirm this report in interviews with Arms Control Today, saying they would not discuss the anti-missile system’s capabilities or operational status. MDA has responsibility for researching and developing U.S. missile defense systems, while Strategic Command is charged with overseeing their operation.

Bush vowed in December 2002 to deploy the initial elements of a long-range missile defense system in 2004. The fielded components now comprise nine missile interceptors at Fort Greely, Alaska; two additional interceptors at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California; and several ship- and land-based radars linked up with satellites and a battle-management command and control center.

But the rudimentary system has not been publicly declared operational and has undergone limited testing. Indeed, the interceptors currently deployed have not been tested against a target in flight. The last successful intercept experiment of an earlier model of the deployed interceptor occurred in October 2002.

In March congressional testimony, the Pentagon’s top independent weapons-tester, David Duma, told lawmakers that the system’s testing record did not indicate that it could be counted on to destroy a hostile missile warhead in flight. (See ACT, April 2006.) Still, General James Cartwright, the commander of Strategic Command, told Arms Control Today May 12 that he would “bring [the system] online in a heartbeat” if a threat emerged. (See ACT, June 2006.)

Meanwhile, MDA successfully conducted a previously scheduled test of a short- to medium-range ship-based missile interceptor June 22. This experiment marked the seventh hit in eight tries for the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system, which is not built to counter long-range ballistic missiles.

Japan, whose territory North Korea’s Taepo Dong-1 overflew during an August 1998 test, has been working with the United States since 1999 to develop and procure elements of the Aegis ship-based anti-missile system. (See ACT, April 2006.)

On June 23, Tokyo and Washington signed an agreement to proceed with the further development of one of those elements, a new 60-centimeter rocket motor for the Aegis system’s Standard Missile-3 interceptor. This new motor, which might be ready for flight testing as early as 2014, is intended to enable the interceptor to target long-range missiles. White House Press Secretary Tony Snow explained to reporters June 26 that the latest cooperation agreement “was not in response to any specific threat, although it is part of a program designed to meet the long-standing North Korean threat.”

 

News Analysis: An End to U.S. Tactical Nuclear Weapons in Europe?

Oliver Meier

NATO’s policy of basing U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in several European countries has lasted long after the end of the Cold War, despite increasing pressure from parliamentarians, disarmament advocates, and public opinion. Now, a more mundane yet more tangible force may now tip the balance against the status quo: money. Public statements from and interviews with government officials and experts in Europe indicate that European governments may not be willing to make the investments in a new generation of nuclear-capable aircraft or participate in relevant technology sharing that would be needed to sustain the policy.

Nuclear sharing was developed during the Cold War to deepen U.S.-European military ties and to create a forum where Europe could have a say in Washington’s nuclear policies. As the Cold War ended, about 4,000 U.S. tactical nuclear weapons remained on European soil, intended to offset Soviet conventional and nuclear forces. In a series of bilateral understandings with the Soviet Union and then with Russia in the early 1990s, President George H. W. Bush sharply reduced that number. Today, an estimated 480 B-61 gravity bombs remain deployed in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, which also possesses its own nuclear arsenal. Of these weapons, 180 are assigned for use by the five non-nuclear-weapon states. These weapons remain under U.S. custody during peacetime but can be released to U.S. allies for delivery in times of war.

U.S. and European officials readily acknowledge that they have held on to the weapons for predominantly political rather than military reasons. In its 1999 Strategic Concept, NATO implied that improved relations with Russia meant that the weapons’ military purpose had largely ended, but called for retaining the weapons as a means of shoring up the political solidarity of the alliance. U.S. and European officials have also seen the weapons as a potential bargaining chip to encourage Russia to part with its own much larger arsenal of such weapons, variously estimated at about 3,000 deployed operational warheads.

But the status quo is imperiled by the aging of NATO’s nuclear-capable fighter fleet. Over the next several years, a number of European NATO members involved in nuclear sharing arrangements have to decide whether to replace aging fighter aircraft capable of delivering nuclear weapons, commonly known as “dual-capable aircraft.” Amid budget pressures and growing public concern, some key groups are beginning to balk. These concerns come as NATO is expected to update the 1999 Strategic Concept, including a possible revision of its nuclear doctrine.

German Disagreements

Discussion of the issue is the most highly charged in Germany, which hosts an estimated 150 U.S. nuclear weapons. Germany relies exclusively on Tornado PA-200 aircraft to deliver U.S. nuclear weapons. The Tornado entered service in the early 1980s and had been expected to be phased out over the next 15 years. Nuclear-capable Tornados are deployed at Büchel Air Base, along with an estimated 20 B-61 bombs. Germany had been expected to begin retiring them as early as 2012.

The Tornados are to be replaced by the Eurofighter (Typhoon), a multinational aircraft built jointly by Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. But the German government in July 2004 told parliament—the Bundestag—that it does not intend to certify the Eurofighter to carry nuclear weapons. Such certification would require Germany and its partners to grant the United States access to Eurofighter technology, which Europeans are reluctant to do because they fear the loss of commercial proprietary information.

Berlin is looking for a way to delay making a decision. In February, the government stated that it might keep some Tornados beyond the expected end of their service life in 2020. The only clear purpose for such a move would be to preserve the ability of the German air force to deploy U.S. nuclear weapons.

Nevertheless, there is concern within NATO about Germany’s long-term commitment to nuclear sharing. A senior NATO official told Arms Control Today June 2 that a decision by the German government to “extend the life of the Tornado would only delay and not solve the issue.”

Such fears are heightened by growing pressure from the Bundestag. Since April 2005, all three opposition parties in the Bundestag—the liberal Free Democrats, the left-of-center Green Party and the socialist Left Party—have introduced resolutions calling for a complete end to Germany’s involvement in nuclear sharing and a withdrawal of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons from German territory.

This year, the debate also is taking place within the government. When the draft of a new Defense White Paper was released to the Bundestag this spring, an unprecedented dispute about German support for NATO’s nuclear doctrine erupted between center-left Social Democrats and conservative Christian Democrats, which together form the governing “Grand Coalition.”

The draft, which was leaked to a German internet site (www.geopowers.com), states that nuclear deterrence will remain necessary to deter hostile states possessing nuclear weapons, including states with a fundamentalist ideology. Echoing earlier NATO language, the draft goes on to argue that “the common commitment of Alliance partners to war prevention, the credible demonstration of Alliance solidarity and nuclear posture require also in the future German participation in nuclear tasks.” The text specifies that this includes “the deployment of allied nuclear forces on German soil, participation in consultations, planning and providing means of delivery.”

This language was immediately and publicly rejected by the Social Democrats and, along with a subsequent position paper, made clear that for the first time that a governing party in Germany was calling for withdrawing from NATO nuclear sharing. The position paper, written by Social Democratic members of the Bundestag’s Defense Committee, categorically states that Social Democrats are “not willing to provide new means of delivery” once the Tornado has reached the end of its service life “in a few years.” Then, Germany’s participation in “tactical nuclear sharing” should end, the Social Democrats demand.

Rolf Mützenich, the Social Democrats’ spokesperson for arms control, told Arms Control Today June 13 that this means that Germany would no longer provide aircraft or personnel to participate in NATO nuclear sharing. Mützenich cautioned that “as long as these weapons exist,” Germany should stay involved in the “strategic operative” aspects of nuclear sharing, namely, it should continue to participate in alliance consultations and decision-making on nuclear doctrine. As a NATO member state, Germany is eligible to participate in nuclear deliberations—in the Nuclear Planning Group for example—even if it does not host nuclear weapons. Mützenich emphasized that as far as he is concerned, Germany’s participation in nuclear sharing should end “as early as possible” before 2012. He called on the German government to closely consult with partners and allies in order to initiate an open debate within NATO on the role of nuclear weapons in today’s world. “In the long-term, nuclear weapons should be abolished altogether. As long as that is not achievable, NATO should renounce the first use of nuclear weapons,” Mützenich said.

Christian Democrats are now the only party in the Bundestag that supports the deployment of U.S. nuclear weapons in Germany and NATO’s nuclear posture. Responding June 9 to questions from Arms Control Today, Christian Democrats defense spokesperson Bernd Siebert rejected the idea of basing a decision on Germany’s future involvement in nuclear sharing on the phasing out of the Tornado. “Instead, it should be a political judgment whether nuclear sharing is still up to date or not.” According to Siebert, the Christian Democrats support Germany’s involvement in nuclear sharing as an insurance against unforeseeable risks and because it “guarantees political influence on the use or nonuse of nuclear weapons.” Siebert said he sees no necessity “to fundamentally call into question NATO’s current strategy.”

The white paper draft was prepared by the Defense Ministry, which is headed by Christian Democrat Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung, and is currently being reviewed by the Foreign Ministry, which is headed by Social Democrat Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier. Discussions on Germany’s future involvement in nuclear sharing are expected to continue when the next draft is debated in the Bundestag.

Italian Uncertainties

Germany is not the only one of the nuclear-sharing participants to have doubts. A new government in Italy is also raising concerns.

Italy’s past Conservative government of Silvio Berlusconi had committed Rome to purchasing both the Eurofighter as well as its competitor, the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), with the JSF taking over the Tornado’s nuclear missions. The JSF, also known as the F-35, is a $35 billion multinational program led by the United States. Partners include the nuclear-sharing countries of Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

But the new center-left government of Prime Minister Romani Prodi, elected in April, has called into question Italy’s commitment to the JSF. Should Italy decide to opt out of the program, the country would be left only with the non-nuclear Eurofighter.

According to a April 17 Defense News report, Giovanni Urbani, aerospace spokesperson for the Democratic Left, which is part of Italy’s governing coalition, proposed on April 11 that Italy “pull out of acquiring the JSF and look at the third-tranche Eurofighter instead, thus boosting a European production line.” New Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema told Reuters on May 21 that “a politics of disarmament must be relaunched, one that invites reflection on part of the great powers, starting with the United States.” Further, Francesco Martone, head of the Rifondazione Comunista-European Left in the Foreign Affairs committee of the Italian Senate, told Arms Control Today June 12 that the new government “should cancel Italian participation in the JSF.” Martone, says that Italy should initiate discussions on nuclear sharing “with a view to free our country from nuclear weapons.” Martone, whose party is part of Italy’s governing coalition, is preparing a bill that proposes to reinvest Italy’s share in the JSF in development aid.

Some in NATO, however, believe that the new Italian government will eventually support the JSF, if only to avoid hefty financial penalties for opting out.

The Bomber Gap

Italy is not the only country to raise questions about whether and how it might go forward with the U.S. fighter. Delays, cost overruns, and disagreements between the United States and its allies about access to JSF technology continue to plague the program. Unless these are resolved soon, Turkey and the Netherlands might not have nuclear-capable aircraft when their current fleet of F-16s starts reaching the end of its service life as early as 2009.

Under current plans, a nuclear-capable variant of the JSF is slated to enter into service in 2012 or later when a fourth version of the fighter could start to roll off production lines. But no JSF partner country has yet committed to buying this series of JSFs. Thus, there is a real possibility that Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey might not be able to deploy dual-capable aircraft for several years, removing these countries’ ability to participate in nuclear sharing.

Some in NATO fear that politicians in member states might put off deciding whether to buy nuclear-capable aircraft until NATO is forced to alter its nuclear posture to accommodate technological and financial realities. “I think politicians will delay making a decision as long as possible. I don’t anticipate any serious discussions on this issue until the 2008-09 time frame,” the senior NATO official said. By that time, it might be too late for some countries to have a smooth transition from nuclear-capable Tornados or F-16s to a follow-on aircraft.

Parliamentarians in the Netherlands and Turkey as well as Belgium have called for debates about their governments’ support for NATO’s nuclear weapons policy. This raises further questions about the ability of governments to make the financial pledges necessary to secure long-term involvement of their countries in nuclear sharing.

For the time being, the Netherlands remains committed to the JSF. However, the Dutch government resigned June 30 and the largest Dutch opposition party opposes involvement in the program. It has vowed to cancel agreements should it become part of a new government after parliamentary elections expected in October. The NIS News Bulletin May 3 quoted Labour Party (PvdA) member of parliament Luuk Blom as predicting that “not a single JSF will be bought under [a] PvdA government. It is to be a firm issue in our election program.” The Dutch Defense Ministry is expected to sign an agreement with the United States at the end of this year governing the production, maintenance, and continued development of the JSF.

Turkey has not committed firmly to buying either the Eurofighter or the JSF. Ankara may decide by the end of 2006 how it will spend $10 billion it has earmarked to buy 100 new-generation combat aircraft. Turkey is already a member of the JSF consortium but may end up buying some Eurofighters as well. According to a June 19 report in the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, the Turkish Parliament on June 12 discussed the presence of an estimated 90 U.S. nuclear weapons at the U.S. air force base in Incirlik. Sukru Elekdag, a member of parliament and a former ambassador to the United States, who initiated the debate, noted that the United States had already withdrawn nuclear weapons formerly deployed in Turkey’s rival, Greece. Moreover, Elekdag stated that it would be difficult to explain the continued presence of U.S. nuclear weapons on Turkish territory to its Muslim and Arab neighbors.

Belgium has sidestepped the issue by investing in a life-extension program for its F-16s, which is expected to keep its fleet flying for another 15 years. But Brussels has rejected an invitation to join the JSF program as a partner, and there appears to be no rush to take a decision on a follow-on model for Belgian F-16s before 2008-2010, in particular with general elections taking place next year. In April 2005, the Belgian Senate unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Belgian government to take an initiative in NATO to review its nuclear doctrine and to initiate the gradual withdrawal of U.S. tactical nuclear from Belgian territory. (See ACT, May 2005.)

A New Nuclear Policy for NATO?

This November’s NATO summit in Riga, Latvia, is also likely to duck the issue of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. The senior NATO official complained that “there are currently no discussions on NATO nuclear policy within NATO” and that “this is not on anybody’s plate.” At most, NATO heads of state and governments are expected to launch a review of the Strategic Concept.

That there is currently no movement to adapt NATO’s nuclear posture was confirmed June 8 when NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels reaffirmed that NATO continues “to place great value on the nuclear forces based in Europe and committed to NATO, which provide an essential political and military link between European and North American members of the Alliance.”

NATO leaders this fall are unlikely to consider changing their 1999 Strategic Concept, which states that “solidarity and common commitment to war prevention continue to require widespread participation by European Allies involved in collective defence planning in nuclear roles, in peacetime basing of nuclear forces on their territory and in command, control and consultation arrangements.” Instead, they are likely to approve a so-called Comprehensive Political Guidance. This document, which was agreed on last year but has not yet been published, apparently confirms NATO’s current nuclear posture.

There is, however, much talk in NATO about a new Strategic Concept to be agreed at a possible NATO summit in 2009, which marks NATO’s 60th birthday and the 10th anniversary of NATO’s current Strategic Concept. Robert Bell, who was NATO’s assistant secretary-general from 1999 to 2003 and previously served as a senior arms control official on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration, told Arms Control Today June 13 that it is not clear that NATO will decide to update the Strategic Concept. If it does, “there is no guarantee” that the issue of dual-capable aircraft will be debated, he added.

Bell detects little willingness within NATO or among member states to change the alliance’s current nuclear doctrine and believes that the responsibility for taking the initiative on nuclear sharing rests with Washington. “Were this or were a new administration to decide to end the program, I do not believe the participating NATO allies would seriously try to stop it,” Bell said.

Indeed, some in the Pentagon favor ending nuclear sharing. A February 2004 report by the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board recommended that the secretary of defense “consider eliminating the nuclear role for Tomahawk cruise missiles and for forward-based, tactical, dual-capable aircraft” because “there is no obvious need for these systems, and eliminating the nuclear role would free resources that could be used to fund strategic strike programs of higher priority.”

In an October 2005 interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had indicated a willingness to leave the future of NATO nuclear deployments up to Europeans. Rumsfeld noted that it is up “to the Germans and to NATO” to pass judgment on the purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons on German soil. “Some countries in Europe made the decision to allow them to be on the continent. It was seen to be in their interest and is still seen that way today as it persists. So one would assume it continues being in their interest,” Rumsfeld said.

Nevertheless, the current timetable means member states participating in nuclear sharing may need to make a decision on whether to purchase dual-capable aircraft before a new nuclear doctrine is in place. Thus, they could end up buying aircraft with a nuclear capability that in the long run may not be needed.

One means under consideration of guarding against this possibility and also deflecting public criticism of NATO’s nuclear posture would be to withdraw U.S. nuclear weapons from Europe but leave the technical and physical infrastructure associated with nuclear sharing in place so that the weapons could be redeployed swiftly if and when NATO considers such a move necessary. A withdrawal of all deployed B-61 bombs would not affect readiness because NATO has already slowed response times of U.S. nuclear forces deployed in Europe from days to months. Member states participating in nuclear sharing would still need to provide dual-capable aircraft, although perhaps in reduced numbers. The air forces of these countries would continue to train for nuclear missions by using a “Realistic Weapons Trainer” and dummy weapons. Fifty-four new trainers were delivered to Europe as recently as February 2004.

From NATO’s perspective, such an arrangement of “virtual” nuclear sharing might have a number of technical and political disadvantages. NATO member states may be reluctant to redeploy nuclear weapons in times of crisis for fear of sending a wrong, escalatory signal. The United States currently deploys specially trained Munitions Support Squadrons of approximately 125-150 soldiers each at every base where U.S. nuclear weapons are stored. These units would either have to remain stationed at bases where nuclear weapons could be redeployed or kept on standby in the United States for possible relocation in Europe. Both are expensive options and may be difficult to justify, given how unlikely it is that NATO nuclear weapons would ever actually be used. There is also a fear at NATO headquarters in Brussels and national defense ministries that NATO’s nuclear policy may over time fade into irrelevance if the real weapons are withdrawn.

Further, advocates of a denuclearized NATO are likely to criticize virtual nuclear sharing as half-hearted and insufficient from a disarmament perspective. Such a move would not enable NATO to reap the arms control benefits associated with a complete termination of nuclear sharing. Thus, Russia may continue to argue that NATO’s nuclear policy continues to stand in the way of a broader agreement on tactical nuclear weapons.

Bell does not believe that there are realistic alternatives to current sharing arrangements and predicts that the current “model will remain until the NATO [tactical nuclear force] comes out altogether and for good.”

Public Opinion

Ultimately, European publics may have the last word. Public pressure on NATO to revise its nuclear policy is growing. A May survey commissioned by Greenpeace on the question of nuclear weapons deployments revealed that almost two-thirds of the populations in those countries (aside from Turkey) that host U.S. B-61 bombs want Europe to be free of nuclear weapons. Anti-nuclear sentiments were strongest in Italy and Germany (71.5 percent and 70.5 percent, respectively) and weakest in the United Kingdom (55.7 percent). The survey also made clear that more, than 15 years after the end of the Cold War, about 60 percent of the people in Belgium, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands are unaware that U.S. nuclear weapons continue to be deployed in their countries.

 

Brown Supports Continuing UK Nuclear Weapons Program

Gordon Brown, the heir apparent to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, announced his support for developing a successor to the United Kingdom’s strategic submarine fleet June 21. Brown’s support for the program, which could cost as much as $45 billion (see ACT, April 2006), came despite significant public and parliamentary opposition—including within the governing Labour party—to the move.

“In an insecure world we must and always will have the strength to take all necessary measures fro stability and security,” Brown said. The United Kingdom currently deploys 58 U.S.-supplied Trident D5 missiles with up to 200 warheads.

 

 

Plans for Missile Defenses in Europe Unsettled

Wade Boese

U.S. plans for establishing a strategic ballistic missile defense base in Europe remain unsettled, but Russian officials are sharpening their criticism of the proposal. Meanwhile, leaders of the 26-member NATO alliance will soon begin weighing options for proceeding with missile defenses in Europe.

The Bush administration has installed nine long-range missile interceptors at Fort Greely, Alaska, and another two at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. A version of the deployed interceptors, which are to hone in on and collide with an enemy warhead in space, has yet to be tested against a target in flight. The first test of this type might occur as early as August.

The Pentagon revealed in 2004 its intentions to expand long-range interceptor deployments to Europe to defend against possible ballistic missile launches from the Middle East. (See ACT, July/August 2004.) Although Missile Defense Agency (MDA) Director Lieutenant General Henry Obering told reporters March 20 that the United States would like to begin work on the project in 2007, no plans have yet been finalized.

MDA spokesperson Rick Lehner told Arms Control Today June 14 that the possible hosts for a base of 10 interceptors have been narrowed to the Czech Republic or Poland because of their location and expressed interest. “Consultations are continuing” with the prospective hosts, according to Pentagon spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Karen Finn in a June 16 interview with Arms Control Today, but she declined to elaborate. The Pentagon’s office of international security policy is heading the talks on the U.S. side.

Marek Purowski, a spokesperson for the Polish embassy in Washington, also told Arms Control Today June 14 that the talks were ongoing but that no decisions had been made. He said many technical details, such as who will control the interceptor’s operation, still needed to be worked out.

Some U.S. lawmakers are also balking at funding the site. As part of its fiscal year 2007 budget request submitted to Congress in February, the administration asked for almost $56 million to begin construction of the European site and for an additional $63 million to begin manufacturing the proposed base’s 10 interceptors. In a defense appropriations bill passed June 20, the House of Representatives zeroed out the base construction and interceptor funds.

The Senate has yet to approve a defense appropriations bill, so the ultimate status of the funding request remains uncertain. Both chambers each pass an appropriations bill, and then they work out the differences between the two before sending a final version to the president.

Russian leaders, however, are not waiting on the U.S. budget process to register their opposition to the proposed missile defense base. Speaking June 7 to the Duma, the lower house of Russia’s legislature, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov criticized the base as one that over time might be used to intercept Russian missiles or secretly house offensive ballistic missiles. “The danger also arises of the use of the planned anti-missile defense silo launchers for clandestine deployment of ballistic missiles,” Lavrov stated.

Lehner dismissed such a possibility. He said the base would have “no offensive capability whatsoever” and interceptors and ballistic missiles have “entirely different configurations for silos.”

Moscow is not alone in presuming that a European-based U.S. missile defense site, in some form, will one day be a reality. A 10,000-page study recently completed by NATO postulates that the most efficient way for building a missile defense architecture in Europe is to use the proposed U.S. site as one of the initial building blocks, according to a NATO official familiar with the study interviewed June 14 by Arms Control Today.

Initially requested in 2002 and officially completed May 10, the “NATO Missile Defense Feasibility Study” concluded that building an anti-missile system to protect all members’ territories was technically feasible and outlined various options for achieving that goal. The NATO official said alliance military planners must now “await political guidance” on which options, if any, to pursue.

The study will be presented to NATO leaders at the alliance’s heads of state summit November 28-29 in Riga, Latvia. If the leaders determine that proceeding with missile defenses is “desirable,” the official said the next step for the alliance will be to define the specific architecture.

 

Iraq Strives to Join Chemical Weapons Pact

More than three years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Baghdad is apparently making progress in its efforts to accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). But the fate of the UN organization charged with dismantling Iraq’s chemical weapons program has yet to be determined. (Continue)

Paul Kerr

More than three years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Baghdad is apparently making progress in its efforts to accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). But the fate of the UN organization charged with dismantling Iraq’s chemical weapons program has yet to be determined.

On May 30, the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) provided Iraq with documentation about the country’s past chemical weapons programs in order to help the country accede to the CWC. Countries who wish to accede to the convention are required to provide documentation of any past chemical weapons programs within 30 days after the convention enters into force for that country. Iraq had chemical weapons prior to the 1991 Persian Gulf War but later destroyed them and did not revive the program. (See ACT, November 2004.)

Iraq has not yet signed the convention, but in 2004 it declared its intention to do so and accede once a permanent government was in place. The convention prohibits the production and stockpiling of chemical weapons. To advance their efforts, Iraqi officials have been working with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), participating in two implementation training workshops during the past year. The OPCW verifies compliance with the CWC.

After the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the UN Security Council tasked the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM), which UNMOVIC later succeeded, with verifying and supervising the destruction of Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons, as well as missiles exceeding UN-permitted ranges. As part of its disarmament requirements, Iraq was required to provide the inspectors with complete disclosures of its illicit weapons programs. The United Nations withdrew the inspectors in December 1998, but they returned in November 2002 with Iraq’s consent. (See ACT, December 2002.)

According to a May 30 UNMOVIC report, Samir Al-Sumaida’ie, Iraq’s permanent representative to the Security Council, requested UNMOVIC’s assistance in an April 7 letter to acting Executive Chairman Demetrius Perricos. Al-Sumaida’ie asked the commission to provide Baghdad with the “full, final and complete disclosure” of its chemical weapons program. UNMOVIC did so based on an “updated” version of the declaration, which Iraq had submitted to the United Nations in December 2002.

UNMOVIC Sits Tight

As Iraq seeks to accede to the CWC, it is trying to persuade the Security Council to end UNMOVIC’s role in Iraq. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari stated during a June 15 Security Council meeting that the United Nations should “review” UNMOVIC’s mandate.

Radio Free Europe reported in May that, according to a statement from Iraq’s Foreign Ministry, Baghdad is willing to allow UNMOVIC to “confirm” that Iraq does not have illicit weapons or related programs. Yet, Iraq would not allow the inspectors to work indefinitely, the statement said.

The Security Council, however, appears no closer to determining the commission’s fate.

A UNMOVIC official told Arms Control Today June 20 that some council members have still not resolved their differences over what, if any, role UNMOVIC should play in the future. (See ACT, April 2006.)

The inspectors left Iraq just before the U.S.-led March 2003 invasion and have not since been able to conduct in-country inspections.

Although the council adopted a resolution shortly after the invasion stating its intention to “revisit” UNMOVIC’s mandate, it has not yet done so.

Lingering Uncertainties

The May 30 UNMOVIC report also contains a detailed description of Iraq’s previous chemical weapons program and observes that “a number of issues…remain unresolved.” The report states that although “there is a high degree of confidence” that Iraq’s chemical weapons were destroyed, it is possible that some weapons remain in the country.

The inspectors successfully dismantled the program, but they were not able to account fully for the chemical weapons agents and munitions that Iraq claimed to have produced. This uncertainty resulted from several factors, including the insufficient records provided by the Iraqi regime, the regime’s decision to destroy some of its weapons without the presence of UN inspectors, and the Iraqi military’s inadvertent mixing of chemical munitions with conventional munitions during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war. (See ACT, April 2004.)

Charles Duelfer, the special adviser to the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), reported in 2005 that Iraqi and U.S.-led coalition forces will likely continue to discover chemical weapons left over from Iraq’s pre-1991 stocks. Such weapons, however, “do not pose a militarily significant threat” because the chemical agents and munitions have degraded, he added. The ISG was the task force charged with coordinating the U.S.-led search for prohibited Iraqi weapons. (See ACT, June 2005.)

A National Ground Intelligence Center report made public June 21 states that coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 munitions containing degraded chemical weapons agents. The report cautions that chemical weapons agents remain hazardous and potentially lethal.

A recently released CIA report notes that terrorists and insurgents had been attempting to acquire or develop chemical weapons agents for use against coalition troops in Iraq. None of these attempts were successful, says the report, which analyzed 2004 data.

Duelfer’s report said that since 2003, coalition forces in Iraq have been attacked twice with chemical weapons. But the report generally downplayed the risk of such attacks.

 

U.S. Sanctions Five Companies for Iran Trade

Wade Boese

The United States June 13 cited one U.S. and four Chinese companies as allegedly assisting Iranian ballistic missile programs. Any entities doing business with these designated companies risk having their U.S. assets frozen.

The recent moves flow from Executive Order 13382 that targets entities financially contributing to or supporting proliferation activities. (See ACT, September 2005.) This recent group of five companies brings the total number of entities identified by the U.S. government under the order to 25. The amount of assets frozen in connection with these designations is undisclosed.

The Chinese companies named June 13 by the Department of the Treasury were Beijing Alite Technologies Co., LIMMT Economic and Trade Co., China Great Wall Industry Corp., and the China National Precision Machinery Import/Export Corp. The penalized U.S. company, G. W. Aerospace, Inc. of Torrance, California, is a subsidiary of the China Great Wall Industry Corp.

“The companies targeted today have supplied Iran’s military and Iranian proliferators with missile-related and dual-use components,” stated Undersecretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey in a June 13 Treasury Department press release. Dual-use goods are items that can be used both for civilian and military purposes.

The Bush administration has previously penalized all of the Chinese companies. Prior to the latest penalties, they had collectively accumulated eight sanctions since 2001. Altogether, the Bush administration has sanctioned 33 Chinese entities for proliferation activities under U.S. law and executive orders, but these firms are the first to be punished under Executive Order 13382.

As it typically does, China protested the U.S. sanctions. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu told reporters June 15 that Beijing “does not allow any [corporation] or individual to engage in or support proliferation activities.” She said Washington had failed “to provide any convincing evidence” of wrongdoing and blasted the sanctions as “groundless and extremely irresponsible.”

 

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