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Bloomberg News
August 27, 2018
September 2006
Edition Date: 
Friday, September 1, 2006
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Obstacles Remain for U.S.-Indian Deal

Wade Boese

The House in July gave its preliminary stamp of approval to the United States forging a broader civil nuclear trade relationship with India, but the arrangement remains far from finished. India is upset about measures that U.S. lawmakers have attached to the deal, and U.S. and Indian negotiators are at a standoff on some key aspects.

On July 26, the House passed, by a vote of 359-68, legislation setting conditions for the future consideration and approval of a U.S.-Indian civilian nuclear cooperation agreement, which is still being negotiated. The Senate is expected to act on similar legislation in September, and then the two chambers must merge their separate bills.

New Delhi is unhappy with the contents of both the House bill and one passed in June by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “It is clear that if the final product is in its current form, India will have grave difficulties in accepting the bills,” Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told Indian legislators Aug. 17. The Bush administration is pressing Congress to modify some of its legislative provisions that India finds nettlesome.

The overarching problem with the bills, Singh and some Indian lawmakers and scientists insist, is that their contents depart from the outlines of the deal agreed to by President George W. Bush in July 2005 and March 2006. (See ACT, September 2005; ACT, April 2006.) They charge that the U.S. side is backsliding on its commitment to “full” civil nuclear trade and impinging on India’s nuclear weapons program and national sovereignty.

In exchange for Bush’s commitment to clear U.S. and international restrictions on nuclear trade with India, New Delhi pledged to separate its nuclear enterprise into civilian and military sectors. Under a March split announced by the Singh government, 14 currently operating and planned thermal nuclear reactors were designated civilian, thereby subject to international oversight and eligible for foreign nuclear imports. Eight thermal reactors, two breeder reactors, and three research reactors were put out of bounds to outside inspection and trade.

Honing the Deal

The administration is backing India’s opposition to a Senate Foreign Relations Committee provision that would prohibit exports of uranium-enrichment, plutonium reprocessing, and heavy-water technologies to India unless destined for facilities involved in approved bilateral or multilateral projects. These technologies can be used in civil nuclear programs, but they have direct applications to making nuclear weapons. India contends that full cooperation includes these technologies. Although U.S. policy is to deny such transfers to any country and administration officials have told Congress such items will not be exported to India, New Delhi is protesting the possibility of a statutory prohibition.

At an Aug. 2 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, National Security Council official John Rood, who has been nominated to serve as assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, testified that “we would prefer to maintain this practice as a matter of policy as opposed to a matter of law.”

The Bush administration is also objecting to a Senate provision mandating new end-use monitoring measures to ensure that U.S. nuclear exports to India are not diverted to unintended destinations or uses. Claiming that the administration would prefer to rely on existing mechanisms instead of instituting special ones for India, Rood argued that India “sees the creation of the end-use verification procedures as implying a lack of trust.”

Some in Congress say that is exactly the point. “ India is no stranger to violating international nuclear commitments,” Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) argued July 26. In 1974, India conducted its first nuclear test with the help of Canadian and U.S. nuclear imports designated for peaceful purposes.

Singh criticized any measures to assess or judge Indian nuclear behavior. “We oppose any legislative provisions that mandate scrutiny of either our nuclear weapons program or our unsafeguarded nuclear facilities,” the prime minister stated.

In its bill, the House included an annual reporting requirement proposed by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) intended to gauge whether India increases its production of fissile materials, highly enriched uranium and plutonium, for military purposes. Many lawmakers have expressed concern that Indian imports of foreign nuclear fuel could free up the limited Indian uranium stockpile to produce more nuclear weapons.

The United States is legally bound by the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty “not in any way to assist” a nuclear weapons program of a non-nuclear-weapon state, which India is considered to be under the treaty. To remove ambiguity about whether U.S. nuclear imports might contribute to India’s weapons program, some House members supported conditioning future trade on India capping or ending its fissile material production for weapons. By votes of 268-155 and 241-184, the House defeated amendments with this purpose July 26.

Still, lawmakers collectively argued that India should not increase its fissile material production for weapons after initiation of U.S.-Indian civil nuclear trade. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a July 20 report stated it hoped India would not “significantly” increase fissile material production because “then the committee might well question whether civil nuclear commerce with India had become inimical to regional security and U.S. national security.”

Several legislators assert the damage is already done. “History will say that with this agreement the world lost the last bit of an international tool to control the spread of nuclear weapons,” Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) declared July 26.

The two bills also mandate annual reporting on all U.S. exports to India during the previous year, as well as Indian adherence to or progress toward several nonproliferation agreements and practices. Singh said these reporting requirements were “not acceptable” because the “effect of such certification will be to diminish a permanent waiver authority into an annual one.”

If the United States ceased cooperation with India because of any violation of the agreement on New Delhi’s part, the House bill obliges Washington to try and prevent other foreign suppliers from filling the void. Similarly, the July 20 Senate Foreign Relations Committee report stated, “The committee is particularly concerned that the United States not facilitate or encourage the continuation of nuclear exports to India if U.S. exports were to be terminated.” Singh, however, made repeated references in his parliamentary address to the U.S. commitment in a March 2006 joint statement to ensure India with an uninterrupted supply of nuclear fuel and to join with India and other countries to restore fuel supplies if a disruption ever occurred.

Both congressional bills aim to keep the United States and other nuclear suppliers in sync on nuclear exports to India. They would tie the commencement of expanded U.S. nuclear exports to India to the voluntary Nuclear Suppliers Group first reaching consensus on exempting New Delhi from existing trade restrictions. France, Russia, and the United Kingdom back the U.S.-India initiative, but other members of the 45-nation regime remain undecided or critical of the deal. (See ACT, July/August 2006.)

U.S. and IAEA Negotiations With India

A key sticking point in U.S.-Indian negotiations on the cooperation agreement pertains to the conditions triggering its termination. Washington is seeking inclusion of a clause specifying that if India conducts a nuclear test, the agreement would be abrogated.

Singh said such a provision is “not acceptable.” Indeed, nuclear testing is a hot-button issue across the Indian political spectrum. Murli Manohar Joshi of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party said June 29 that his party’s view is that the no-testing commitment renders India’s nuclear arsenal “frozen permanently at a very low level of technology and at permanent parity with Pakistan.”

The testing issue is one of about a half-dozen that need to be worked out by U.S. and Indian negotiators. The two sides met for the first time in June and are expected to meet again in September to discuss a revised draft of the cooperation agreement the United States provided Aug. 8 to India.

Negotiators have agreed to resolve separately the process by which India might be permitted to reprocess U.S.-origin material. India had wanted the agreement to include pre-approval for such reprocessing, a benefit that the United States has only extended to Japan and the European consortium EURATOM. But the U.S. delegation said that these were special cases and would not be replicated.

Estimates of when the negotiations may conclude vary greatly, but the agreement cannot be finalized until after India completes safeguards negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The U.S.-Indian agreement must contain a reference to the date and signature of the Indian-IAEA arrangement, which would specify measures for detecting any diversion of technologies or materials from India’s civil nuclear sector to its military program.

An IAEA delegation visited India July 7-8 to discuss technical safeguard issues, but actual negotiations between India and the agency have yet to commence. IAEA spokesperson Marc Vidricaire described the July visit to Arms Control Today Aug. 22 as a “very preliminary meeting.” He further noted that India has not yet approached the agency about beginning actual negotiations and no additional meetings have been scheduled.

Currently, India can only subscribe to one type of safeguards, INFCIRC/66. India says it wants “India-specific” safeguards but has not publicly explained what that term means. If the agency and New Delhi reach agreement on a novel set of safeguards, they would need to be approved by the IAEA’s Board of Governors.

The duration of the safeguards is a matter of disagreement. India agreed to accept safeguards in perpetuity, but Singh said the offer of “safeguards in perpetuity is conditional upon these facilities securing fuel from international sources for their lifetime.”

U.S. lawmakers have expressed concern about this interpretation. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee stated that Indian government statements suggesting it would take “corrective measures” in case foreign nuclear fuel supplies are halted is “troublesome because it suggests a more voluntary approach to safeguarding India’s reactors than has been asserted.”

National Sovereignty

Singh has come under fire domestically from rival politicians and the nuclear complex for allegedly compromising Indian autonomy in pursuing the civil nuclear cooperation deal. He has recoiled at the charge, contending that negotiations on the deal “have not led to any change in the basic orientation of our policies or affected our independent judgment.”

This independence has been disconcerting to members of Congress concerned about India’s export behavior and its relationship with Iran. Although short of the required majority, 192 representatives supported an amendment July 26 to add a condition to the House bill requiring the president to make a determination that India is “fully and actively participating” in efforts to deny Iran a nuclear weapons capability.

On Aug. 4, the Bush administration publicly announced sanctions on two Indian entities for transferring chemicals to Iran. The sanctions determination had been made July 25, a day before the House passed its India bill.

In an Aug. 4 statement, Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), who sponsored the failed Iran amendment, said he was “appalled that the Bush administration…withheld this information from Congress” until after the vote. Department of State spokesperson Sean McCormack defended the administration Aug. 7, claiming, “I’m not aware of any attempt to deliberately withhold information from Congress.”

For its part, India contended the sanctions were unwarranted. A Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson asserted Aug. 7 the transfers were “not in violation of our regulations or our international obligations.”

Meanwhile, Singh’s government also conducted India’s first flight test July 9 of the Agni-3 ballistic missile, which has an estimated range of 3,000-5,000 kilometers. Although the test failed because the two-stage nuclear-capable missile did not separate properly, many interpreted the test as a show of independence because significant speculation existed that India had been postponing the experiment to avoid upsetting Washington.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace had played down the notion June 5 that the United States was pressuring India not to test. “ India will decide what India wants to do about testing missiles,” Pace told reporters in New Delhi.

Afterward, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow refuted any comparison between the Indian test and those conducted by North Korea several days earlier. Snow said July 10 that India’s launch was carried out in a “transparent and nonthreatening way” and was not a “provocation.”

 

Verification and the BWC: Last Gasp or Signs of Life?

Trevor Findlay

At first blush, the outlook for cooperative, multilateral verification of compliance with the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) looks grim. In 2001-2002, ten years of work devoted to preparing for and then negotiating a draft protocol to establish a standing verification organization for the treaty collapsed.[1]

In subsequent meetings of experts and annual meetings of states-parties devoted to discussing, not negotiating, a variety of BWC-related topics, verification rarely featured. Meanwhile, national policies toward BWC verification appear to have remained static.

The United States instigated the abrupt halt to the protocol negotiations at the treaty’s Fifth Review Conference. U.S. officials apparently remain steadfast in their view that effective verification of the BWC is impossible and that attempting it will be both delusional and dangerous to U.S. national security and commerce. Only a few Western states have been willing to hold aloft the banner of full-fledged verification.

It is reasonable to ask whether, in these circumstances, as the BWC’s Sixth Review Conference approaches in November and December of this year, there is any hope for moving forward on verification measures. The short answer is that there will be no agreement to return to the protocol negotiations, no new initiative to create a standing verification body for the treaty, and no wholesale climbdown by the United States on biological verification. The v-word itself likely will continue to be avoided in any final document, as it has been for years in deference to U.S. sensibilities.

Still, some gains can be made. A modest form of progress is possible on what might be termed quasi-verification measures, those which fall short of a full verification regime but could help to improve monitoring of the BWC. Indeed, even as the BWC regime appears to have stagnated in recent years, there has been some quiet movement that is changing the context of the bio-verification debate. Even if these efforts do not produce results at the conference, they may herald developments beyond it.

A Broader View of Verification

First, the concept of verification in the arms control and disarmament field has been considerably broadened since the end of the Cold War, not just due to that great sea-change but to the events of September 11, 2001; the perceived rise of global terrorism; and the exposure of Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan’s nuclear smuggling network. In turn has come the increased willingness of the UN Security Council, at least compared to its traditional reticence, to involve itself in ensuring compliance with international strictures on the proliferation of so-called weapons of mass destruction (WMD),[2] in some cases. Most notable to date has been its two-fold attempt to achieve the verified disarmament of Iraq, but the Security Council has also acted on North Korea’s ballistic missile threat and seems to be moving inexorably toward action in the case of Iran.

Perceptions of verification have also changed as a result of the Bush administration’s attempt to portray multilateral arms control and its accompanying verification edifices as outdated remnants of the Cold War that are inappropriate in the current era. Although undoubtedly self-serving, enabling the United States to justify its opposition to any verification measures for the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty and the proposed fissile material cutoff treaty, this has had the beneficial effect of forcing the arms control community to re-examine its long-held assumptions about the nature of verification. In any community that is 50 years old, it is only natural that certain shibboleths will form, sacred cows will be anointed, and unorthodox views accordingly shunned.

Today the international community’s collective view of verification has, by and large, been broadened to include virtually any activity that contributes to the full implementation of a treaty. The argument goes that because all measures designed to contribute to full implementation require monitoring to ensure compliance, they become part of the total verification package. The realization has come quite late, for instance, that noncompliance consists not simply in a state violating the central article of an arms control or disarmament agreement, by acquiring a banned weapon, but also in not fulfilling all of the treaty’s legal obligations, both nationally and internationally.

In an age of global terrorist threats, it has become crucial, for instance, that all states have national implementation measures to prevent their citizens or those of other countries from using their territory for nefarious purposes. It is vital that transshipment of goods be regulated and port security enhanced. Monitoring how states comply with these obligations becomes a form of verification. Indeed, this may be as important as verifying whether most governments are seeking weapons of mass destruction, especially because the majority are, in reality, what might be termed “serial compliers.”

As a result, reporting and transparency measures, once regarded in some quarters as simply providing a baseline for on-site inspections, have assumed much greater importance in the verification universe. This is exemplified by UN Security Council Resolution 1540 of April 2004 and its April 2006 follow-up, Resolution 1673, which demand that all states not just adopt national implementation measures to stop nonstate actors acquiring weapons of mass destruction but compels them to report their activities to the council. Cooperative threat reduction programs, export control regimes, and measures such as the Proliferation Security Initiative are all increasingly perceived as being part of the broad verification-compliance enterprise because they all involve a form of monitoring that generates verification-relevant information.

Not only has the verification envelope been pushed, but it has collided with a previously immovable object, compliance and enforcement. States have for too long neglected the compliance aspects of treaties, both in drafting and implementing them. What happens after a state engages in serious, deliberate noncompliance? This question was rarely posed in designing verification systems.Thanks to the United States, the compliance issue has been rejoined, both in the sense of being increasingly debated and in the sense of a reassertion of its indissoluble link to verification. This is not simply a Bush administration invention but a return to arms control’s original philosophy.

None of this is to say that the Bush administration’s ideological attack on multilateral verification has been an unalloyed good. On the contrary, in many respects it has been destructive of confidence and trust among the very states on which the United States depends to pursue its global aims. As former Department of State official Avis T. Bohlen has said of John Bolton, the former undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, who oversaw the U.S. hatchet job on the BWC protocol, “He was absolutely clear that he didn’t want any more arms control agreements. He didn’t want any negotiating bodies. He just cut it off. It was one more area where we lost support and respect in the world.”[3] Yet, what started as a U.S.-led redefinition of the boundaries of verification for its own purposes has, for better or worse, now permeated the multilateral dialogue on arms control and disarmament.

All of these developments have arguably had their greatest impact on the biological weapons category of weapons of mass destruction given the absence of a traditional verification regime for such weapons and continuing U.S. opposition to one being created. There has been a profusion of ideas that amount to monitoring of BWC implementation at least, if not verification of compliance. Improved biosecurity to avoid proliferation of dangerous pathogens, for instance, requires not just new standards but monitoring to ensure implementation. Enhanced confidence-building measures (CBMs) improve transparency, a hallmark of verification regimes. Better global disease surveillance is surely monitoring and hence a form of verification.

Verifiability Revisited

A second trend that may ultimately break up the biological weapons verification logjam is more specific to that class of weapons. Since the demise of the protocol, developments have occurred that call into question the assertion by some that the BWC is essentially unverifiable. Notable is the work of Amy Smithson in Washington, D.C., at the Henry L. Stimson Center and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. As she notes, “Policymakers, industry officials, and the general public are commonly told that the BWC is ‘unverifiable’ due to the complex, dual-use nature of biological materials, equipment, and technologies and the claim that inspections would automatically reveal sensitive defense or business information. These assertions hang in the air unchallenged.”[4]

Drawing on a wealth of expertise in industry, academia, and among inspection veterans, Smithson’s three painstakingly researched reports collectively amount to a rebuttal of the “inherent unverifiability” thesis.[5] Smithson, like the Bush administration, concludes that the draft protocol as it stood in 2001 was unworkable, but her studies indicate that it is possible to craft a mechanism to monitor industry facilities without necessarily compromising national security or commercial confidentiality. The same presumably may apply to biodefense facilities, research facilities permitted under the treaty to develop antidotes and other means of countering biological weapons threats. Smithson’s final report recommends that full field trials be held to test the proposed mechanism. This would partly fulfill the obligations of a U.S. law, ignored by the Clinton and Bush administrations, that mandates a thorough experimental and analytical assessment of the capabilities of on-site inspections for monitoring BWC compliance.[6]

In addition to this pioneering research, there has been, for the first time since attempts in the early 1990s to investigate the former Soviet biological weapons program, extensive field experience of multilateral biological weapons verification in the search for such activity in Iraq. The UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) did some of this pathbreaking work before 2001, which the United Kingdom subsequently used in designing proposals for the verification protocol; more experience was subsequently garnered by UNSCOM’s successor, the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC). This work was supplemented by the Australian/U.S./British Iraq Survey Group, which conducted its own search for biological weapons in Iraq after the coalition invasion in March 2003.

Changes in U.S. Policies Toward Multilateralism

A third, more recent trend with a potential impact on biological weapons verification may be characterized as the smoothing of the rougher edges of the Bush administration’s view of the utility of multilateralism. Tactically, U.S. policy has already mellowed somewhat under Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a variety of areas, notably with respect to Iran, North Korea, and the International Criminal Court. Even if the administration’s substantive views have not changed very much, the absence of the more combative Bolton from biological weapons policy and some subsiding of the rancor that resulted from the demise of the protocol has moderated the political context of the debate over biological weapons verification.

It is now difficult to imagine the complete absence of an internal debate in the lead-up to the review conference and beyond. The yawning gap between the administration’s realistic appraisal of the biological weapons threat and its completely negative assessment of the role that verification might play in dealing with the threat is surely unsustainable. In the post-Bush administration future, alternative perspectives on verifiability may well seep into the policymaking process, especially if taken further by additional research, scientific trials, and a thorough study of the lessons of the various Iraq biological weapons verification exercises.

Limits of Progress

To be sure, these developments do not portend a sudden change in official U.S. or other states’ attitudes toward verification of the BWC, especially since Bush administration objections have been as much ideological as substantive.

For example, a recent fact sheet on the State Department website baldly states that “international mechanisms and procedures will not contribute to the verifiability of the BWC.”[7] Other countries, which due to U.S. commandeering of the verification issue never had to reveal their true positions, undoubtedly continue also to hold anti-verification views, albeit for different reasons.

Russia, which has never revealed everything it knows about the Soviet biological weapons program—the most egregious violation of the BWC to date—views less than fondly the prospect of a standing verification regime that might do some retrospective sniffing around. Although China has more or less happily accepted the intrusive verification provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), it undoubtedly continues to wish to avoid further international constraints on its sovereign prerogatives and biotechnology prospects.

Cuba, India, Iran, and Pakistan, always wary of the protocol, presumably remain that way, even though they are part of the nonaligned group that officially contends that “the only sustainable method of strengthening the convention is through multilateral negotiations aimed at concluding a non-discriminatory legally binding agreement, dealing with all the Articles of the Convention in a balanced and comprehensive manner.”[8] This code language advocates a link between verification and the provision of assistance in biotechnology to the developing world, an issue that helped sink the protocol. On the other hand, a group of Latin American countries, in their own declaration, have expressed a willingness to develop with other delegations an “incremental process” toward providing the BWC with an “adequate verification mechanism.”[9]

The remaining, largely Western flag-bearers for BWC verification have mostly retreated into quiescence. Despite threatening otherwise, it seems they never seriously contemplated continuing with the protocol negotiations without the United States, as they did when Washington withdrew from negotiations to implement the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. Occasionally, Canada or Switzerland makes a ritualistic plea for a return to the protocol negotiations or speaks in favor of a comprehensive, multilateral verification mechanism of some sort, but their hearts seem not to be in it. A joint statement by Australia, Canada, and New Zealand in April 2006 failed even to mention verification.[10] Japan and Germany, which because of their large biotechnology industries consistently expressed qualms about some aspects of biological weapons verification, have gone particularly quiet.

The German view was reflected in the European Union Common Position this March that said rather lamely that the EU “remains committed to developing measures to verify compliance” with the BWC.[11]

Only Sweden and the United Kingdom, after a period of Foreign Office soul-searching, admit to remaining true believers. British Undersecretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office David Triesman said in early 2006 that the British government continues to favor creating an “inspections mechanism” for the BWC.[12] In the annual states-parties meetings, London submitted a concrete proposal that called for updating and strengthening the UN secretary-general’s mechanism for probing alleged use of chemical and biological weapons.[13]

It went nowhere, in part because the meetings were constrained from making recommendations, much less instigating action. It also reflected the fact that in the decades-long tussle between BWC reformists and BWC minimalists,[14] momentum has swung back in favor of the latter.

Implications for the Review Conference

It remains difficult at this stage to predict how these various trends will play out at this year’s review conference. In general, expectations are being kept deliberately low. After the drama over verification at the conference five years ago, there is an awareness that this topic, at least as traditionally conceived, is unlikely to be advanced by any delegation, much less attract the attention it deserves.

Nonetheless, the broader conception of verification that has recently emerged means that there are several quasi-verification options that are likely to receive attention at the meeting. This is in part because they have been debated at one of the annual meetings of states-parties since the last review and because there is general recognition of their value.

National Implementation Measures

The most obvious area is national implementation measures, including legislation. This field was considered at the first of the annual meetings, in 2003. A new dynamic to the issue was imparted by UN Security Council Resolution 1540, which directs all states, whether BWC states-parties or not, to adopt measures to prevent nonstate actors from acquiring biological weapons. There seemed to be unanimity at a seminar on the BWC held in Tokyo in February 2006 that national implementation measures must be advanced by the review conference.[15] It is difficult to see the conference failing to acknowledge, if not endorse, what is now obligatory for all states.

Yet, it is also not likely that the review conference will go beyond what the Security Council already demands in terms of reporting, which the council requires annually and which it scrutinizes via its 1540 Committee. This is partly because states will argue that the council is already “seized” of the matter and partly because many states are struggling to comply even at the most rudimentary level.

The conference could, however, establish some form of regularized support, including advice, assistance, and capacity building, for states that are struggling to comply with respect to biological weapons, in the same way that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons supports its members in their national implementation measures for the CWC. Canada has proposed such a step as a specific conference outcome. Given that voluntary financing will be the key to such an initiative, its prospects have been improved by the EU’s decision to expand its funding of nonproliferation initiatives to include biological weapons issues.[16] Such a role could be one of a number envisaged for a BWC institution or secretariat, various versions of which have been proposed by several states.

Of the major WMD arms control treaties, the BWC is the only one that has no such secretariat. The verification protocol would have established an Organization for the Prohibition of Biological Weapons, and since its demise, the United States has opposed any initiative that smacked of “creeping institutionalization.”

Confidence-Building Measures

A second area likely to be considered by the conference is the strengthening of the voluntary CBMs that have been progressively adopted by review conferences in 1986 and 1991. These take the form of annual declarations by states to each other of their BWC-relevant activities. Few states comply annually and rigorously. Proposals have been made since the CBMs first went into effect to expand the range of information sought, make them mandatory, and provide for more sophisticated compilation, analysis, and dissemination.[17] It is not clear which of these ideas will be entertained at the conference, but a number of states will be highlighting them. In particular, the EU is attempting to seize the moral high ground by having each of its members annually file a complete CBM return covering all nine declarations.[18]

Secretary-General’s Investigatory Capabilities

A third item that could be considered by the review conference, the most directly related to traditional verification, is a review and updating of the UN secretary-general’s investigatory mechanism. This 15-year-old arrangement originates from ad hoc probes requested by the UN General Assembly. In the early 1980s, the secretary-general was tasked with investigating the alleged use of chemical and toxin weapons in Indochina and Afghanistan. In 1982 the assembly institutionalized the procedure, giving the secretary-general standing authority and (modest) capacity for investigating future allegations of chemical, biological, and toxin weapons use in violation of the 1925 Geneva Protocol. The Security Council endorsed the arrangement in 1986. The mechanism comprises a list of experts that could be made available by states for investigative missions, a list of certified laboratories available for testing samples, and a set of recommended procedures produced by an expert group for the conduct of investigations. The mechanism has been used 12 times in six states, the last in 1992, sometimes on the initiative of the secretary-general himself. Since then, the arrangements have atrophied: the lists are incomplete and the procedures outmoded, not least due to the extensive experience of UNSCOM and UNMOVIC and scientific and technological developments in chemical and biological monitoring and verification.

Fostered initially by the United Kingdom’s initiative, the issue is gaining momentum. Many states are now on record as wanting the mechanism revivified. They include all of the EU and many other European states, in addition to Australia, Canada, Japan, and New Zealand. The UN Secretariat is ready to do its bit to review the mechanism, including by following up its 2002 request to UN member states for new nominations of experts and laboratories. The EU in March 2006 committed its members to update their expert and laboratory offerings.[19] A series of reports by independent commissions as well as UN-instigated reports has also recommended updating the mechanism.[20]

Most importantly, there are signs that the United States might be brought around to not standing in the way of this relatively modest reform. This would be in keeping with its at times newly pragmatic, albeit minimalist, acquiescence in multilateral initiatives. It would not only partly atone for overbearing U.S. behavior in quashing the BWC protocol at the last review conference but would be entirely consonant with President George W. Bush’s 2001 list of alternatives to the protocol, one of which was “procedures for addressing compliance concerns.” Further, the mechanism would still only deal with allegations of use and not research, testing, production, stockpiling, and transfer.

One potential difficulty might be that the mechanism was originally intended to address the verification lacuna in the 1925 Geneva Protocol, rather than the BWC. The protocol has a different set of states-parties and covers chemical and biological weapons use. An attempt at the 2004 intersessional meeting to have the BWC states-parties request the secretary-general to update the mechanism failed to gain consensus, presumably because of the fear that a revived mechanism could lead to BWC verification. Because the mechanism was established by the UN General Assembly outside the BWC context, one can easily imagine procedural objections alone being used to scuttle a renewed attempt to send such a request to the secretary-general.

By contrast, one verification initiative that would definitely sour the review conference would be a proposal to reconvene the Ad Hoc Group, which until 2002 had been negotiating the verification protocol and which has never been formally wound up. Re-enacting the battles of the last review conference would be counterproductive and not in the best interests of biological disarmament. During the April preparatory meeting for the conference, states-parties agreed on an agenda that removed some explicit references to the work of the Ad Hoc Group and verification. Although there may now be broad acquiescence to the U.S. desire to terminate the group and its mandate, spoilers such as Iran could use the issue to try to derail the conference.

Conclusion

Compared with discussions about strengthening the elaborate nuclear safeguards system or managing the intrusive, routine on-site inspections mandated by the CWC, the international conversation about BWC verification, often conducted sotto voce and without even using the dreaded v-word, must seem pathetically wan. Yet, in an area so fraught with controversy and past failure, even the realization of some of the modest possibilities discussed above would be a triumph.

Much of what happens at the review conference on the verification front, however defined, will in any case depend on broader currents that will be swirling around the event. As Nicholas Sims reminds us, tensions between Iran and the United States alone, although largely unrelated to the biological weapons issue, could help sink the conference.[21] Ideological sparring between the West and the nonaligned states about the privileging of certain BWC commitments over others—proxy for the Western fixation on compliance versus developing-country demands for free biotechnology—could also derail matters. This is quite apart from arguments over institutionalization and procedural wrangles over how the intervening years before the seventh review conference should be usefully employed.

What is needed on the BWC verification issue is for a white-knight state to step forward to lead the charge of the reformists. With so much dependent on the attitude of the United States and most states engaged with the world’s only superpower on issues far more important to their national interests than biological weapons verification, however, none is likely to appear. The best that can be expected is modest movement forward with U.S. acquiescence, if not enthusiasm. Hardly worthy of Bush administration nonproliferation official Carolyn Leddy’s laudable admonition to us to “succeed in our efforts to eliminate the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”[22] Yet, as she also says, “[a]nything else is not an option.”

 


Trevor Findlay is director of the Canadian Centre for Treaty Compliance at Carleton University, Ottawa.


ENDNOTES

1. Michael Nguyen, “BWC Verification: A Decade-Long Detour?” Arms Control Today, April 2006, p. 16.

2. Nuclear, radiological, chemical, and biological weapons and their means of delivery.

3. Scott Shane, “Never Shy, Bolton Brings a Zeal to the Table,” The New York Times, May 1, 2005.

4. “Resuscitating the Bioweapons Ban: U.S. Industry Experts’ Plans for Treaty Monitoring,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, November 2004, p. vii.

5. House of Cards: The Pivotal Importance of a Technically Sound BWC Monitoring Protocol, Stimson Center Report No. 37, May 2001; Compliance Through Science: U.S. Pharmaceutical Industry Experts on a Strengthened Bioweapons Nonproliferation Regime, Stimson Center Report No. 48, September 2002.

6. National Security and Corporate Fairness Under the Biological Weapons Convention Act, Public Law 106-113, November 29, 1999.

7. Bureau of Verification, Compliance, and Implementation, U.S. Department of State, “Verification and Compliance With International Prohibitions Relating to Biological Weapons,” November 2005 (fact sheet).

8. “Statement by the Delegation of Malaysia on Behalf of the Group of Non-aligned Movement and Other States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention,” Geneva, April 26, 2006.

9. “Joint Declaration of the Delegations of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay to the Preparatory Committee for the Sixth Review Conference of the States Parties to the BWC,” Geneva, April 26, 2006.

10. Intervention by Canada on behalf of Australia, Canada and New Zealand, Sixth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention, Geneva, April 26-28, 2006.

11. “Council Joint Action 2006/184/CSP of 27 February in Support of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, in the Framework of the EU Strategy Against the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Official,” Journal of the European Union, L 65/51, March 3, 2006.

12. David Ruppe , “ U.K. Still Favors Biological Weapons Verification,” Global Security Newswire, March 15, 2006.

13. “Enhancing International Capabilities for Responding to, Investigating, and Mitigating the Effects of Cases of Alleged Use of Biological or Toxin Weapons or Suspicious Outbreaks of Disease,” BWC/MSP/2004/MX/WP, July 23, 2004 (submitted by the United Kingdom).

14. Jez Littlewood, The Biological Weapons Convention: A Failed Revolution ( Aldershot, UK: Ashgate Publishing, 2005).

15. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and Center for the Promotion of Disarmament and Non-Proliferation of the Japan Institute of International Affairs, “Future Measures for Strengthening the BWC Regime,” Tokyo, February 14-15, 2006 (summary of discussions at the BWC Tokyo seminar).

16. Oliver Meier , “EU Approves Nonproliferation Framework,” Arms Control Today, June 2006, p. 37.

17. Nicholas Isla and Iris Hunger, “BWC 2006: Building Transparency Through Confidence Building Measures,” Arms Control Today, July/August 2006, pp. 19-22.

18. These pertain to data on research centers and laboratories and national biological defense research and development (R&D) programs; outbreaks of infectious diseases; publication of results and promotion of use of knowledge; active promotion of contacts; declaration of legislation, regulations, and other measures; past activities in offensive and/or defensive biological R&D; and vaccine production facilities.

19. “EU Action Plan on Biological and Toxin Weapons, Complementary to the EU Joint Action in Support of the BTWC, 2006/C 57/01,” Official Journal of the European Union, Vol. 49, No. 9 (March 2006).

20. A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility, 2004, p. 46 para. 141; In Larger Freedom, A/59/2005 (March 21, 2005), p. 29 para. 104; Uniting Against Terrorism: Recommendations for a Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, A/60/825 (April 27, 2006), p. 18 para. 90.

21. Nicholas A. Sims, “Toward the BWC Review Conference: Diplomacy Still in the Doldrums,” Disarmament Diplomacy, No. 82 (Spring 2006).

22. “S.S. Urges ‘Concrete Action’ to Stop the Spread of WMD,” Arms Control & Non Proliferation, Documents & Texts from the Washington File, U.S. Embassy, London, February 14, 2006.

 

Interdiction Initiative Results Obscure

Wade Boese

Like the shadowy trade it is intended to stop, the workings and record of a U.S.-led initiative to interdict shipments of unconventional weapons in transit are largely inscrutable. That is the way U.S. officials involved in the voluntary Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) say it will likely remain, even as they seek to expand its reach.

The United States launched PSI in May 2003 with the aim of improving countries’ air, land, and sea capabilities to stop and confiscate suspected shipments of biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons, as well as related materials and missiles. Initially, 10 countries enlisted in the initiative, but its ranks have swelled to nearly 80 governments, many of which remain anonymous.

Public information about PSI operations, however, has not kept pace with its growth. To be sure, there are some visible aspects of its work, such as 23 interdiction exercises, the latest sponsored by France in June.

The United States also has negotiated ship-boarding agreements with countries to establish expedited procedures for stopping and searching suspicious ships. Six countries have signed such agreements, although the last to do so was Belize in August 2005. A U.S. official involved in PSI told Arms Control Today Aug. 9 that additional agreements were being “aggressively” pursued.

The official refused to disclose whether past shipboarding agreements have been used to intercept any weapons cargo. Commenting on PSI in general, the official explained, “Things that happen in this arena are highly classified.” He further noted that “[o]ther countries could be [conducting] interdictions that we might not be aware of.”

Speaking to representatives of 65 countries attending a June 23 PSI high-level political meeting in Warsaw, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Robert Joseph touted the initiative’s value but said, “[I]t is inevitable that much of our work is done quietly and with cooperation in sensitive channels outside the public spotlight.” He continued, “[d]iscreet actions often help us stay one step ahead of the proliferators and give them less insight into steps they can take to evade detection.”

Nonetheless, Joseph told a Washington audience July 18 that the initiative has “played a key role in helping to interdict more than 30 shipments.” The example he singled out was the October 2003 confiscation of centrifuge components headed to Libya aboard the BBC China. But officials from participating foreign governments and former Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation John Wolf asserted last year that the interdiction was not a PSI operation. (See ACT, July/August 2005.)

The differing interpretations of the role PSI played in this October 2003 event appear to stem in part from the ambiguous nature of the initiative itself. As the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated May 31, “Unlike other international organizations, the PSI has no formal structure, headquarters, or chairperson.”

Moreover, the enforcement, intelligence, and military capabilities as well as legal authorities that PSI relies on predated the initiative. A main PSI objective is to get governments to make better use of or bolster these instruments. “We have been doing interdictions for a long time; [PSI] is a better way of doing it,” the U.S. official said.

Washington is now urging PSI participants to expand the concept of interdictions beyond just stopping cargo to blocking cash flows to proliferators. Last June, the president signed Executive Order 13382 to freeze U.S. assets of foreign companies connected to proliferation. Since then, more than two dozen foreign entities have been sanctioned under the measure. A foreign diplomatic source told Arms Control Today Aug. 16 that the administration’s proposal has not picked up a lot of momentum because other countries’ legal and financial frameworks are so diverse.

A more commonly shared goal of PSI countries is to increase participation, particularly in Asia. China, India, and Indonesia are all viewed as attractive candidates given their proximity to key trade routes and North Korea.

India , however, is rankled by Washington’s public linking of PSI with negotiations on a U.S.-Indian civil nuclear cooperation pact. China, as well as India and Indonesia, has expressed concerns about the legality of PSI, but U.S. officials have described Beijing as helpful on interdictions. Indonesian Minister of Defense Yuwono Sudarsono wrote June 13 in The Jakarta Post that the country’s leadership is weighing “partial and ad hoc adherence to the PSI on a case by case basis.”

 

Bush, Congress Wield Proliferation Sanctions

Miles E. Taylor

The Bush administration in July sanctioned nine companies for suspected involvement with Iran’s missile and unconventional weapons programs, and President George W. Bush Aug. 5 signed a short-term extension of an expiring 1996 sanctions law directed at Iran. At the same time, the Senate stepped up pressure on North Korea by voting to add it to a nonproliferation law that allows the president to sanction foreigners who supply weapons technology to countries of proliferation concern, such as Iran and Syria.

Of the nine sanctions announced by the administration, two were authorized by executive order, and seven were imposed under the Iran-Syria Nonproliferation Act.

Sanam Industrial Group and Ya Mahdi Industries Group, both based in Iran, were cited July 18 by the Department of the Treasury for alleged involvement in missile proliferation. That move was part of an ongoing effort by the Treasury Department to freeze the assets of organizations and individuals accused of being involved in supporting the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Twenty-five other entities were sanctioned June 2005 for financially contributing to or supporting proliferation activities. (See ACT, September 2005.)

The Iranian companies were said to be involved with the Aerospace Industries Organization (AIO), a subsidiary of the Iranian Ministry of Defense & Armed Forces Logistics. Last year, in issuing the executive order, Bush deemed the AIO a proliferation concern for its role in managing and coordinating Iran’s missile program.

The Treasury Department will now be able to freeze any financial assets being held in the United States by the designated companies and will prohibit U.S. businesses and individuals from working with them.

“As long as Iran’s nuclear ambitions continue to threaten the international community, the United States will use its authorities to target Iran’s efforts to sell and acquire items used to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles capable of carrying them,” Stuart Levey, the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a July 18 statement.

Effective July 28, the Department of State sanctioned seven additional firms under a separate measure, the Iran-Syria Nonproliferation Act, for assisting Iran with its weapons programs. The move, which included penalties against two Indian companies, was announced shortly after the House voted July 26 to support a nuclear cooperation agreement with India.

The Indian companies, Prachi Poly Products Ltd. and Balaji Amines Ltd., are chemical manufacturers.

Also listed in the injunction are two Russian companies, the state-owned arms trading company Rosoboronexport and aircraft maker Sukhoi; two North Korean companies, Korean Mining and Industrial Development Corp. and Korea Pugang Trading Corp.; and one Cuban organization, the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.

The sanctions will be in place for two years and will forbid U.S. government agencies from assisting or buying goods from the companies. The penalties will also block the sale of some military equipment, services, and technologies to the organizations and their subsidiaries.

The seven companies are the latest in a string of dozens of entities that have been punished for their assistance to Iran’s weapons programs under the Iran-Syria Nonproliferation Act. The Senate voted July 25 to expand that law to include North Korea, following a series of missile tests by Pyongyang earlier in the month.

If passed by both houses of Congress, the revised law would allow the president to sanction foreigners who transfer goods and technologies to North Korea that contribute to their ability to produce missile and nuclear weapons.

“ North Korea’s recent missile launches illustrate the threat this regime poses to the American people, the people of the region, and peace and stability in East Asia,” bill sponsor Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said in a July 25 statement.

Congress also took action on other sanctions measures.

With the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act set to expire Aug. 5, lawmakers agreed on a short-term extension until Sept. 29 so they could try to reach agreement on a new measure after the August congressional recess. The 1996 law calls for sanctions on foreign entities that invest in Iran’s and Libya’s energy sectors, a policy that lawmakers largely hope to maintain in a bid to curb Iran’s nuclear program.

In April, the House passed a measure intended to tighten those sanctions on Iran, but the Senate narrowly defeated a similar measure in June after the Bush administration said it would harm relations with countries, including U.S. allies, needed as part of its diplomatic strategy to counter Tehran. (See ACT, July/August 2006.)

 

Bush, Putin to Seek Nuclear Cooperation Pact

Miles A. Pomper

President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed July 15 to open negotiations on an agreement that would permit full nuclear cooperation between their countries. They vowed, as well, to encourage other states to renounce some civil nuclear technologies that can also be used to produce nuclear weapons.

A joint statement by the two leaders just before a Group of Eight (G-8) summit in St. Petersburg said that the measures would help to “facilitate the safe and secure expansion of nuclear energy worldwide.”

Russia has long sought a civilian cooperation accord with the United States commonly known as a 123 agreement, after Section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act, which governs such pacts. In particular, Russia had indicated it wished to serve as a repository for U.S.-origin spent nuclear fuel from countries such as South Korea, Switzerland, and Taiwan, estimating it could earn as much as $20 billion from the enterprise. The Clinton and Bush administrations had held off, however, trying to use the prospect of such an agreement as leverage to encourage Russia to restrict its nuclear dealings with Iran and otherwise support U.S. policy goals vis-à-vis Tehran.

Russia is constructing a light-water nuclear reactor near the Iranian city of Bushehr and has discussed the possibility of building additional plants. Moscow has rejected U.S. pleas to abandon or severely restrict such projects and has balked at sanctions and other punitive measures on Iran.

But in recent years, U.S. officials say that Moscow has taken other positive steps, such as demanding that Tehran return spent fuel from the Bushehr reactor to Russia. U.S. officials had feared that Iran might separate the plutonium from such spent fuel and use it to provide fissile material for nuclear weapons.

Moreover, some outside experts, such as former Clinton administration officials Matthew Bunn and Laura Holgate, have said that a 123 agreement could yield other benefits. For example, they claim it could provide the international community with greater access to Russia’s civil nuclear facilities and that revenues could fund efforts to secure or dismantle Soviet-era nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration has been seeking to enlist Russia’s participation in its new Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP). The program aims to develop new nuclear fuel-cycle technologies, including new forms of spent-fuel reprocessing. The administration claims these technologies will help nuclear power play a growing role in meeting U.S. and global energy needs while reducing the danger that civilian nuclear programs might be diverted for nuclear weapons purposes. Some lawmakers have questioned the technical, diplomatic, and financial basis of the GNEP program. Nonetheless, a 123 agreement would expand the opportunities for Russian cooperation.

For example, Russia right now is the only candidate to serve as a spent-fuel repository until the ambitious goals of GNEP are realized, a process that even administration officials acknowledge could take decades. Russian officials have also claimed that a 123 agreement would provide a legal grounding for more than 20 ongoing, joint nuclear programs, although it is far from clear that a pact is needed for these purposes.

If an eventual agreement were viewed as conforming to standard practice, Congress might have relatively little say in whether it enters into force. Under the Atomic Energy Act, such agreements with a nuclear-weapon state such as Russia automatically become law unless voted down by majority votes in both the House and Senate within 90 legislative days. By contrast, nonconforming agreements normally require both chambers to vote in support of the measure.

With or without a formal vote, some lawmakers are likely to raise concerns about the agreement. Congress has regularly scolded Moscow for its cooperation with Iran and may see another opportunity to do so.

Many lawmakers are also concerned that an agreement could encourage Russia to reprocess spent fuel. It has been U.S. policy since the 1970s to discourage this practice, and the United States has provided billions of dollars in aid to Russia to phase out its existing plutonium-production reactors, with the last reactor slated to close by 2011. (See ACT, April 2005.) Under U.S. law, the United States has to approve the reprocessing or enrichment of any batch of U.S.-origin fuel, although a 1982 executive order by President Ronald Reagan eased these restrictions in the case of Japan and the European consortium Euratom.

Potential efforts by Russian officials to tie the negotiations to separate discussions about exporting uranium to the United States may provoke opposition to the 123 agreement from lawmakers such as Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), the powerful chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Administration officials made clear that they are only in the initial stages of determining what their approach to such thorny issues might be. “We’ve made a decision to open negotiations on a range of cooperation and the agreement that would be required to engage in that cooperation,” National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley told reporters July 12. “That’s really all we’ve done,” he said.

Russia earlier this year submitted a proposed draft agreement, which U.S. officials have integrated into their own counteroffer, which has been circulated for interagency approval. No dates have been set yet to begin negotiations.

Other Fuel-Cycle Issues

In addition to moving forward on the nuclear cooperation agreement and GNEP, Putin and Bush endorsed two other plans designed to provide non-nuclear-weapon states with nuclear fuel so they will forgo uranium enrichment and plutonium and spent-fuel reprocessing. Low-enriched uranium is used to fuel nuclear power plants but highly enriched uranium can also provide the fissile material for nuclear weapons. Iran’s pursuit of enrichment technologies is at the crux of the current diplomatic standoff over its nuclear program.

In the joint statement, Russia pledged to establish “a system of international centers to provide nuclear fuel services, including uranium enrichment, under IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] safeguards.” Russian atomic energy chief Sergei Kiriyenko told reporters July 15 that the first center in Siberia would be ready for operation under IAEA supervision next year. Russia sought during the past year to encourage Iran to enrich its fuel at such a center, but Tehran rebuffed the offer after showing initial interest.

The joint statement also reiterated the two countries’ support for a proposal that they and four other enrichment providers made in late May to establish a “multilateral mechanism for reliable access to nuclear fuel.” The proposals are likely to be discussed at a special IAEA meeting Sept. 19-20 to develop a “new framework” that would encourage countries to renounce uranium enrichment and spent-fuel reprocessing technologies. (See ACT, July/August 2006.)

A July 16 “Statement on Non-Proliferation” backed by the G-8 leaders endorsed these efforts and extended for another year a two-year-old moratorium related to enrichment and reprocessing technologies that was first endorsed at the June 2004 G-8 summit in Sea Island, Georgia. (See ACT, July/August 2004.)

“It would be prudent in the next year not to inaugurate new initiatives involving transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technologies to additional states,” the eight leaders agreed. “We call upon all other states to adopt this strategy of prudence.”

 

Iran Rejects Security Council Demand

Paul Kerr

After more than two months, Iran responded Aug. 22 to a package of incentives and disincentives offered by China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States to convince Tehran to end its gas centrifuge-based uranium-enrichment program. Although Iran indicated that it wants to negotiate a solution to resolve international concerns about the program, it did not agree to the UN Security Council’s demand that it suspend work on enrichment by Aug. 31.

Enrichment can produce low-enriched uranium, used for fuel in civil nuclear reactors, as well as highly enriched uranium, which can be used as fissile material in nuclear weapons.

Iran’s response means that the country could face Security Council sanctions. That body July 31 adopted Resolution 1696, calling on Tehran to take several steps to ease concerns about its nuclear program. Fourteen countries voted in favor of the resolution; Qatar voted against it.

The resolution expresses the council’s intention to adopt “appropriate measures” under the UN Charter’s Chapter VII, Article 41, if Iran has not complied with the Security Council’s demands. Article 41 describes measures short of military force that can be employed “to give effect” to Security Council decisions.

To judge Iran’s compliance, the resolution requests that International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei submit a report by Aug. 31 to the IAEA Board of Governors and the UN Security Council on whether Iran has met the suspension requirements and undertaken other measures described in a February IAEA Board of Governors resolution. Such measures include, for example, Iran’s full cooperation with the agency’s investigation of its nuclear programs. (See ACT, March 2006.)

Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns said in an Aug. 21 interview with National Public Radio that in September the council would adopt a resolution “with sanctions” if Iran did not comply with the Security Council’s demands.

Such a move could face some resistance. Veto-wielding Security Council members China and Russia have resisted the idea of imposing sanctions.

The resolution underlines that the council must undertake “further decisions…should such additional measures be necessary.” The text also invokes Chapter VII, Article 40 of the UN Charter. According to that article, the council may first “call upon the parties concerned to comply with such provisional measures as it deems necessary or desirable” before deciding to implement punitive measures.

U.S. officials have indicated that if the Security Council fails to impose penalties, Washington will attempt to persuade other countries to impose unilateral sanctions on Iran.

Meanwhile, Tehran does not appear to be slowing down its programs. Indeed, some Iranian officials have suggested that Iran might undertake new nuclear projects, some of which could well increase international suspicions regarding Tehran’s proclaimed peaceful nuclear intentions.

The Offer

The package contains several proposals for providing Iran with nuclear energy, including multilateral ventures to provide a light-water nuclear power reactor, part ownership of a Russian enrichment facility, and a five-year “buffer stock” of enriched uranium stored under IAEA supervision. (See ACT, July/August 2006.)

Furthermore, marking a shift from previous opposition to any Iranian domestic centrifuge facilities, the proposal states that a final agreement would include a provision for reviewing the program’s suspension and permitting Iran to have an enrichment facility on its own territory. However, it appears unlikely that such permission will be granted any time soon.

The proposal also includes measures for economic cooperation and technology transfers to Iran, such as support for the country’s accession to the World Trade Organization and the modernization of Tehran’s telecommunications infrastructure.

The package also vaguely addresses security issues, saying that the parties would “support a new conference to promote dialogue and cooperation on regional security issues.”

In addition to the incentives, the proposal requires Iran to suspend its enrichment-related activities for the duration of negotiations. Iran had suspended its enrichment program in late 2004 before beginning negotiations with France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Those negotiations ended when Iran took several steps to renew enrichment-related activities, beginning in August 2005. (See ACT, September 2005.)

The package also calls on Iran to cooperate with the IAEA investigation and resume implementing an additional protocol to its IAEA safeguards agreement.

Additional protocols provide the agency with increased authority to detect clandestine nuclear programs, including by inspections of facilities that have not been declared to the IAEA. They supplement mandatory IAEA safeguards agreements, which are required under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Iran has signed but not ratified its additional protocol. Tehran had been implementing the agreement but stopped doing so in February.

The Security Council Takes Action

However, Iran failed to meet the six countries’ demand for an early July agreement to suspend its enrichment activities. In response, their foreign ministers adopted a statement July 12 expressing “profound disappointment” with Iran’s decision and stating that discussions of the matter within the Security Council would resume. (See ACT, June 2006.)

The permanent members of the Security Council and Germany presented their joint incentives package to the Iranian government June 6, after failing to overcome divisions that stymied earlier attempts to craft a Security Council resolution.

The council adopted Resolution 1696 following a debate among the five permanent members. Most of the discussions reportedly centered around the precise wording that the resolution would use to make Iran’s obligations mandatory, as well as an appropriate date for Tehran to comply.

The United States, France, and the United Kingdom favored a resolution that would threaten Iran with punitive measures. But China and Russia favored an approach that would set a more moderate pace for possible Security Council action.

Beijing and Moscow have expressed skepticism about the efficacy of sanctions and have also been reluctant to invoke Chapter VII for fear that it could provide a pretext for military action against Iran. (See ACT, May 2006.)

China’s UN ambassador, Wang Guangya, stated July 31 that the purpose of the resolution was to bolster the role of the IAEA rather than punish Iran. His Russian counterpart, Vitaly Churkin, emphasized during comments to reporters July 19 that Moscow wished to be patient with Tehran.

The final resolution, which was the first to address the Iranian nuclear issue, came about three months after a nonbinding March Security Council presidential statement called on Iran to take the steps outlined in the February IAEA resolution. (See ACT, April 2006.)

The Security Council resolution endorses the June package and “encourages” Iran to enter into negotiations with the relevant countries. It also states that Iran will not face punitive council action if it complies with the resolution.

In addition to the requirements outlined for Iran’s nuclear program, the resolution says that states should act to prevent the transfer of technology that could contribute to Iran’s enrichment or ballistic missile programs.

Iran’s Response

Ali Larijani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council and Iran’s lead nuclear negotiator, gave Tehran’s response to the ambassador from each country, except for the United States. The Swiss government gave the response to Washington.

Javier Solana, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, described Iran’s response Aug. 22 as “extensive,” requiring a “detailed and careful analysis.”

Iran reportedly did not agree to suspend its enrichment activities, a response consistent with past statements from Tehran. Larijani, however, said Aug. 22 that Iran was willing to begin negotiations on all aspects of the proposal.

The details of the response have not been made public, but some Iranian statements have hinted at Tehran’s answer.

For example, Iranian officials have publicly complained that the proposal contains ambiguities that need to be resolved. For example, Vice President Gholamreza Aghazadeh, who also heads Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said that Iran wants more detail about the package’s provisions for supplying Iran with nuclear reactors and fuel, an Iranian newspaper reported Aug. 16.

Furthermore, Mohammad Saidi, deputy head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, told the semi-official Mehr News Agency Aug. 22 that the package does not mention Article IV of the NPT. This omission, he said, raises doubts about Iran’s international interlocutors’ commitment to respect its right under the treaty to peaceful nuclear endeavors, as well as help with nuclear technology and fuel.

Additionally, Larijani indicated that Iran had questions about the proposal’s security provisions, the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported Aug. 24.

Larijani also said in an Aug. 26 television interview that, despite a proposal to establish a “fuel bank,” which would provide Iran with a guaranteed supply of nuclear fuel, Iran still needs to be able to enrich its own uranium as a hedge against possible future supply disruptions. (See ACT, June 2006.)

Iran’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Mohammad Javad Zarif, voiced doubts in an opinion piece published by CNN Aug. 14 that the other parties would allow Iran to enrich uranium, arguing that the resolution is “aimed at imposing pressure on Iran to abandon” the program.

Moreover, Saidi said that Iran would re-examine a proposal included in the June package that would allow Iran to own part of an enrichment facility located in Russia. (See ACT, November 2005.) He claimed that the Security Council resolution necessitated such reconsideration, but he did not elaborate.

Mohsen Rezai, secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council, indicated that Iran’s response was designed to neutralize the push for sanctions, the semi-official Islamic Students News Agency reported Aug. 28. But at least some of Iran’s interlocutors found Iran’s answer lacking.

An Aug. 23 Department of State press release said that Washington would review Iran’s offer but added that Tehran’s answer “falls short of the conditions set by the Security Council.” Burns accused the Iranians of “trying to delay…so that they [can] continue their nuclear research.”

France and Germany also expressed dissatisfaction with Iran’s response, with French Foreign Minster Philippe Douste-Blazy describing Iran’s response as “not satisfactory,” Agence France Presse reported Aug. 29.

Iran Looks to the Future

Larijani said that the UN deadline is not “the end of diplomacy,” adding that “it may be possible to move forward with this package, on another occasion, with another proposal.” But he noted that “[t]his type of diplomacy may not be appropriate at that time. The form will need to be changed.”

Larijani also warned that Iran would “reduce IAEA inspections” if the international community attempts to “deprive” Iran of its enrichment program. IAEA inspections are one tool that the agency uses to monitor NPT states-parties’ compliance with their safeguards agreements. He also said, however, that Iran does not currently intend to withdraw from the NPT.

Asked about the possibility of a U.S. military “confrontation,” Larijani replied that such an attack was unlikely, asserting that the United States “will run into problems.”

Larijani said that Iran “will endure” any UN-imposed sanctions rather than end its enrichment program. He also implied that Iran might cut off oil supplies to Europe if such sanctions are imposed.

New Nuclear Programs?

Despite the controversy, Saidi suggested in an Aug. 22 interview with the semi-official Fars News Agency that Iran might undertake new nuclear projects.

For example, Saidi said that the country intends to conduct research on more-advanced centrifuges, stating that “ Iran does not restrict itself to first-, second-, or third-generation machinery.”

If these claims are true, such research would likely cause more tensions with the UN. The IAEA is investigating whether Iran has conducted secret research on more-advanced P-2 centrifuges. Iran is known currently to utilize a relatively primitive model called the P-1. (See ACT, July/August 2006.)

Saidi also indicated that Iran may build nuclear power reactors moderated by heavy water, a move that could also raise concerns. The IAEA has already called on Iran to “reconsider” its construction of a heavy-water research reactor. The agency is concerned that Iran may use the reactor to produce plutonium, which can also be used as fissile material in nuclear weapons.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad launched the operation of a heavy-water production plant that has been under construction, IRNA reported Aug. 26.

 

UN Security Council Resolution 1696 on Iran

The UN Security Council July 31 approved Resolution 1696 demanding that Iran suspend all of its enrichment-related and reprocessing activities within one month as well as undertake several confidence-building measures outlined in a February International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors resolution.

The Security Council resolution makes mandatory Iran’s compliance, stating that the council is “acting under Article 40 of Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations.” Chapter VII of the UN Charter empowers the council to take actions “to maintain or restore international peace and security.”

Still, the resolution indicates that the council would have to take additional steps before taking further action, short of military force, against Tehran should it fail to comply.

According to Article 40, the Security Council may first “call upon the parties concerned to comply with such provisional measures as it deems necessary or desirable” before deciding to implement punitive measures permitted by the UN Charter, such as economic sanctions or military action. According to Article 41, the council “may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions.” Such measures may include economic sanctions.

Further indicating that the Security Council will not automatically adopt punitive measures, the resolution “underlines” that the council must undertake “further decisions…should such additional measures be necessary.”

Specifically, the resolution states that the Security Council:

1. Calls upon Iran without further delay to take the steps required by the IAEA Board of Governors in its resolution GOV/2006/14, which are essential to build confidence in the exclusively peaceful purpose of its nuclear programme and to resolve outstanding questions,

2. Demands, in this context, that Iran shall suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, to be verified by the IAEA,

3. Expresses the conviction that such suspension as well as full, verified Iranian compliance with the requirements set out by the IAEA Board of Governors, would contribute to a diplomatic, negotiated solution that guarantees Iran’s nuclear programme is for exclusively peaceful purposes, underlines the willingness of the international community to work positively for such a solution, encourages Iran, in conforming to the above provisions, to re-engage with the international community and with the IAEA, and stresses that such engagement will be beneficial to Iran,

4. Endorses, in this regard, the proposals of China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States, with the support of the European Union’s High Representative, for a long-term comprehensive arrangement which would allow for the development of relations and cooperation with Iran based on mutual respect and the establishment of international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme (S/2006/521),

5. Calls upon all States, in accordance with their national legal authorities and legislation and consistent with international law, to exercise vigilance and prevent the transfer of any items, materials, goods and technology that could contribute to Iran’s enrichment-related and reprocessing activities and ballistic missile programmes,

6. Expresses its determination to reinforce the authority of the IAEA process, strongly supports the role of the IAEA Board of Governors, commends and encourages the Director General of the IAEA and its Secretariat for their ongoing professional and impartial efforts to resolve all remaining outstanding issues in Iran within the framework of the Agency, underlines the necessity of the IAEA continuing its work to clarify all outstanding issues relating to Iran’s nuclear programme, and calls upon Iran to act in accordance with the provisions of the Additional Protocol and to implement without delay all transparency measures as the IAEA may request in support of its ongoing investigations,

7. Requests by 31 August a report from the Director General of the IAEA primarily on whether Iran has established full and sustained suspension of all activities mentioned in this resolution, as well as on the process of Iranian compliance with all the steps required by the IAEA Board and with the above provisions of this resolution, to the IAEA Board of Governors and in parallel to the Security Council for its consideration,

8. Expresses its intention, in the event that Iran has not by that date complied with this resolution, then to adopt appropriate measures under Article 41 of Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations to persuade Iran to comply with this resolution and the requirements of the IAEA, and underlines that further decisions will be required should such additional measures be necessary,

9. Confirms that such additional measures will not be necessary in the event that Iran complies with this resolution,

10. Decides to remain seized of the matter.

 

Letter to the Editor

Conventional Trident Provides a Vital Option

My former colleague, Steve Andreasen (“Off Target? The Bush Administration’s Plan to Arm Long-Range Ballistic Missiles With Conventional Warheads,” Arms Control Today, July/August 2006), provides a useful but unnecessarily negative perspective on the pros and cons of equipping some of the Navy’s Trident D-5 nuclear missiles with conventional warheads. As long as essential doctrinal, programmatic, and operational safeguards are put in place, a non-nuclear option for selected D-5s would provide a key “silver bullet” capability that future presidents could find vital under unlikely but strategically harrowing conditions.

Imagine the U.S. government obtains intelligence that a nuclear-armed terrorist organization is about to send out trucks loaded with one or more nuclear devices from a remote location. If there is any significant delay, the chances of later destroying these trucks could become nearly nil as they moved farther away from their garrison. An attack against the trucks with nuclear weapons would technically be an option, but one that a president might well refuse given the collateral destruction and the possibility of incorrect intelligence. By comparison, the collateral damage, both physical and political, from a non-nuclear attack would be vastly smaller.

Certainly nonballistic missile approaches should be considered first, but time constraints could rule them out. If communications to the missile can be quickly executed, a D-5 could reach its target in as little as 15-20 minutes, faster than even an ICBM because of its forward deployment. Andreasen is correct that if the target had started moving, it could soon clear out of the kill radius of the D-5 conventional warhead, but there is no a priori way to know in advance if this would be the case.

Moreover, this issue could be addressed if necessary by providing encrypted updates to the non-nuclear missile while in flight. At the same time, the use of reactive nanomaterials in the warhead and other advanced technologies should be considered. These could both increase the effectiveness of the conventional warhead and provide damage assessment to theater commanders.

Also contrary to Andreasen’s claim, launch debris is a problem of minor significance—the D-5s first two stages drop off early in the missile’s trajectory, usually landing in water; the third stage and bus could be targeted for minimal collateral damage.

The policy issues Andreasen raises are real but manageable. Countries with early warning systems could be notified shortly after launch. Andreasen usefully suggests a joint warning center that could be used for this and other purposes to ensure that misunderstanding is reduced or eliminated. With proper procedures in place, such a missile launch need be no more destabilizing than the four annual Trident reliability launch tests we have conducted for years.

It is true that we want several other countries to desist with their development of long-range missiles, but converting 24 nuclear Tridents to non-nuclear Tridents does not affect this problem. Those who want to develop such missiles already point to the large U.S. missile arsenal to help justify their programs; denuclearizing 24 Tridents will not affect this dynamic. Furthermore, non-nuclear long-range ballistic missiles would be useless to other countries without extraordinarily improved missile accuracy technologies that they are unlikely to achieve for many years. A claim that their long-range missiles are for conventional warheads would not pass an international snicker test.

Andreasen and Congress are right to be asking the right questions before this program proceeds further. But until such time that we have another option that could strike more swiftly, I agree with former Defense Secretaries Harold Brown and James Schlesinger that we should develop a non-nuclear option for the D-5 missile, to be used only under the most momentous of circumstances. In doing so, we must be mindful of the implications such a capability entails and ensure that we have in place rigorous procedures to forestall misunderstanding over its hopefully highly infrequent use.

 


Bruce MacDonald is a national security technology and policy consultant. He was assistant director for national security at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy during 1995-1999 and served as a national security aide on Capitol Hill during 1983-1995. From 1977 to 1983, he served at the Department of State, where he chaired the START Policy Interagency Working Group and the SALT III Ceilings and Reductions Interagency Working Group and served on the U.S. START delegation in Geneva.

 

Lawmakers Mixed on Nuclear Funding

Wade Boese

As Congress nears the end of its session this fall, lawmakers still must hash out the next annual budget for the U.S. nuclear complex. One area of general agreement is boosting funding for a new category of nuclear warhead, but lawmakers are divided on spending for dismantling older weapons and disposing of excess U.S. and Russian nuclear materials.

The House, which overwhelmingly passed an energy and water appropriations bill May 24 containing $6.4 billion in nuclear weapons spending, is waiting on the Senate to complete a parallel bill so differences between the two can be reconciled. On June 29, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a version of the bill for full Senate consideration. The appropriations would cover operations of the Department of Energy’s semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) for fiscal year 2007, starting Oct. 1.

NNSA, which manages the U.S. nuclear inventory, is promoting a two-year-old initiative, the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program, as essential for ensuring the arsenal’s future longevity and viability. The project calls for developing warheads that allegedly would be easier to maintain and safer than existing models because of new components and designs. However, the new warheads are supposed to conform closely enough to proven designs to avoid the need for a resumption of nuclear testing, which the United States halted in 1992.

Congress is buying into the concept; the House bill increases the administration’s original $28 million request to almost $53 million, while the Senate committee raised the total to nearly $63 million.

Still, House lawmakers led by House Appropriations Energy and Water Development Subcommittee Chairman David Hobson (R-Ohio) are more skeptical of the RRW program. The House bill mandates that the JASON Defense Advisory Group review the two designs currently vying to be the first RRW model—NNSA intends to make a selection in November—and judge the feasibility of developing a new warhead that does not require proof testing. Comprised of scientists, the independent JASON group often advises the U.S. government on defense and technology issues.

In a May 19 report, the House Appropriations Committee stated it “supports the RRW [program], but only if it is part of a larger package of more comprehensive weapons complex reforms.” This conditional support reflects in large measure Hobson’s view that the nuclear complex is excessive, outdated, and wasteful. From his perspective, a successful RRW program would lessen the need to maintain thousands of backup warheads in case of technical malfunctions in deployed weapons, thus enabling trimming of the stockpile and its associated infrastructure.

The Senate committee bill was influenced significantly by Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), whose state houses two national nuclear weapons laboratories. The bill is more forceful in backing the RRW program, instructing NNSA to “expand the RRW program immediately” by using $10 million to launch another design competition for a second RRW model.

Support for warhead dismantlement activities also is uneven. The House bill provides $105 million for this work, a $30 million increase from the administration’s request. But the Senate committee bill only allocates $35 million total.

A more profound divergence exists around a delayed U.S.-Russian program under which each country is to dispose of 34 metric tons of plutonium—four kilograms is sufficient for a nuclear bomb—by blending the material into mixed oxide (MOX) fuel for nuclear reactors. The project has been stalled by a liability dispute that U.S. officials claim is now resolved, although Russia must still sign the final document settling the matter. (See ACT, September 2005.)

But Hobson, arguing that Moscow does not plan to implement the program as agreed in 2000, led the House in cutting $320 million slated for building MOX project facilities in South Carolina. Russia does not favor the MOX approach but instead wants to use the plutonium as fuel for advanced reactors, which, if run in certain ways, could lead to the production of more plutonium than that burned up. Hobson is recommending that the U.S. plutonium be rendered unusable for weapons by immobilizing it with glass or ceramic in storage casks.

South Carolina lawmakers, the Bush administration, and Domenici all oppose the House action. At a July 26 hearing of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, NNSA chief Linton Brooks warned that switching from MOX to immobilization was a “bad idea” because it could lead Russia to “completely reconsider” fulfilling its plutonium-disposal commitment. Acknowledging that costs associated with the primary U.S. MOX facility have grown from $1.4 billion to $4.7 billion, Brooks contended immobilization would not necessarily save money, as Hobson asserts, because the method remains technically unproven.

Domenici and the Senate Appropriations Committee also support U.S. continuation of the MOX approach, regardless of whether Russia follows suit. The committee approved $618 million for the project. It further encouraged the administration to “find a mutually acceptable solution” with Moscow but warned it does not support Russia’s use of advanced reactors.

The House and Senate also appear to be on a collision course over another project with Russia involving the shutdown of its last three plutonium-producing civilian reactors and their replacement by fossil fuel plants. (See ACT, April 2005.) The House bill fully funds the administration’s request of $206 million, but the Senate committee eliminated all funding for the effort, which is scheduled for completion by 2010. In its report, the committee stated it has “run out of patience with the Russians” and they can complete the work on their own using “windfall gains from oil and gas sales.”

An administration proposal to revive commercial recycling of spent nuclear fuel is shaping up to be another source of friction between the two chambers. Strongly supported by Domenici, the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (see ACT, March 2006) is slated by the Senate committee for $36 million more than the administration’s $250 million request. The House bill only appropriates $120 million for the initiative, however, a cut Hobson explained May 24 that stems from “serious policy, technical, and financial reservations.”

The future of the Global Threat Reduction Initiative is clearer. The Senate committee bill bumps up funding for the collection of programs to secure global nuclear materials by $10 million to almost $117 million. The House initially granted a $13 million increase to the initiative but added another $28 million through an amendment by Reps. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.) and Jim Leach (R-Iowa).

 

UN Small Arms Conference Deadlocks

Miles E. Taylor

A two-week UN conference in New York aimed at cracking down on the worldwide illicit trade of small arms ended July 7 without a final agreement on measures to reduce the spread of the weapons. Delegates also failed to create a road map for future action.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan expressed disappointment July 10 in the conference’s inability to make headway on the issue, citing the urgent need to control illegal small arms and light weapons, which the independent Small Arms Survey in Geneva estimates account for one-fourth of the global gun trade and kill tens of thousands of people each year.

The conference was tasked with strengthening and updating an agreement produced when UN members met for the first global conference on the illicit international trade of small arms and light weapons in 2001. That agreement, the Program of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, outlined a series of voluntary measures to curb the danger posed by the illegal trade of such weapons, which range from grenades, pistols, and rifles to machine guns and man-portable air defense systems, or MANPADS. (See ACT, September 2001.)

However, differences over proposed measures to beef up the Program of Action proved to be too great. Countries that blocked moves to agree on global controls included China, Cuba, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, and Russia.

But the earliest and perhaps some of the strongest objections came from the United States.

In a July 28 speech at the outset of the conference, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Robert Joseph, speaking for the U.S. delegation, stated that U.S. representatives would not support an agreement that, among other things, made any reference to ammunition, civilian possession of small arms, or weapons transfers to nonstate actors.

These demands put the United States at odds with dozens of delegations that wanted to expand the scope of the 2001 agreement.

Rwanda, for example, urged conference delegates to limit or ban small arms transfers to nonstate actors, a move that many insisted would keep illicit weapons out of the hands of insurgents, terrorists, and drug traffickers. However, the United States argued that such a blanket ban could unintentionally harm groups trying to rise up against oppressive regimes.

Richard Kidd, who led the U.S. delegation and currently heads the Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, told Arms Control Today Aug. 11 that the discussion about nonstate actors “was one of the most dysfunctional debates of the entire process.”

Kidd insisted that if countries would simply enact and enforce the measures called for in the 2001 Program of Action, rather than trying to add new provisions, illicit weapons would not wind up in the wrong hands in the first place.

Instead, Kidd asserted, many countries came to the conference seeking to debate issues where there had historically been disagreement. “A large number of states find it a lot easier to talk than to do,” Kidd stated.

He said the United States sought to bolster countries’ enforcement mechanisms and end-user procedures, which are designed to ensure that exports go to legitimate recipients. He also said Washington favored doing more on cooperation assistance because many governments lack resources to implement the Program of Action. But, Kidd added, “there was a significant disconnect [at the conference] between policy posturing and practical, focused implementation.”

Others countries, though, maintained that the biggest holdup at the gathering was a U.S. refusal to agree to follow-up measures, such as setting a date for another review conference or creating a framework for future action on small arms. It was the only country to oppose such steps.

In a July 27 interview with Arms Control Today, Sri Lankan Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam, the president of the review conference, agreed that this was a problem. “ U.S. views on the follow-up hurt the conference because I do not think that the overwhelming majority was ready to accept [their position],” he explained.

The conference faced political pressure before it even began. In the days leading up to the meeting, members of the National Rifle Association flooded the United Nations with tens of thousands of letters arguing that the conference was going to take away their gun rights.

The outcry forced Annan to provide clarification in his opening statement at the summit. “Let me note that this review conference is not negotiating a ‘global gun ban,’ nor do we wish to deny law-abiding citizens their right to bear arms in accordance with their national laws,” he insisted. “Our energy, our emphasis, and our anger is directed against illegal weapons, not legal ones.”

But that assurance failed to translate into an agreement. Differences between states led to the creation of a draft document that was watered down to avoid disagreement and would have done little to expand the Program of Action. Because such conferences operate by consensus, all UN member states must agree on the final document before it can be approved.

Some states concluded that having no agreement seemed better than having a weak one. “I think there was a feeling that it was best to leave it like that rather than trying to agree on things that were less than what we agreed to in 2001,” Kariyawasam explained.

Although no new deal was reached, Kidd said that measures remain in place to curb weapons trafficking. “The Program of Action still exists, it’s still in effect, and if states implemented it, the problems of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons would be significantly reduced,” he stated.

Kariyawasam said he was optimistic about future action on small arms, noting that the UN General Assembly’s First Committee, which focuses on disarmament and international security, will have a chance to give the small arms debate some direction when it meets this fall.

Until then, he insisted, the world cannot afford to lose sight of the issue. “This subject has to be on the front burner, not on the back burner,” Kariyawasam said.

 

Revive the Test Ban Treaty

Daryl G. Kimball

Ten years ago this month, UN member states overwhelmingly endorsed and later opened for signature the longest-sought, hardest-fought nuclear arms control treaty: the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Today, despite widespread support for the CTBT and a de facto global nuclear-test moratorium, the treaty still has not entered into force.

The CTBT is a simple treaty with profound value to the struggle against proliferation. By verifiably prohibiting “any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion,” the treaty would simultaneously help constrain the qualitative improvement of nuclear weapons, curb proliferation, advance disarmament, and delegitimize nuclear weapons.

Moving forward on the CTBT is an essential step toward restoring confidence in the beleaguered nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) regime. The nuclear-weapon states’ commitment to achieve the CTBT was a crucial part of the bargain that won the indefinite extension of the NPT in 1995.

A decade later, it is feared that North Korea may conduct a nuclear test explosion to demonstrate its suspected weapons capability. Iran is threatening to leave the NPT and may be able to produce bomb-grade material within a few years. The existing nuclear-weapon states, including China, India, and Pakistan, could use another round of testing to perfect new and more dangerous nuclear-weapon capabilities.

Indeed, support for the treaty has steadily grown, as 176 states have signed the CTBT and 135 have ratified it. But the U.S. Senate’s highly partisan 1999 rejection of the CTBT, the ideologically driven opposition of the Bush administration, and the reluctance of nine other CTBT “rogue states” have delayed its formal entry into force and left the door open to renewed nuclear testing.
The current U.S. policy is most problematic and perplexing. Since 2001, the Bush administration has said it will not seek Senate reconsideration and approval for ratification. Senior officials say the CTBT is neither verifiable nor compatible with maintaining the existing U.S. stockpile.

At the same time, there is no requirement for new warheads that would necessitate renewed U.S. testing, and senior officials repeatedly say there is no other need for the resumption of nuclear testing in the foreseeable future. As a signatory, the United States is also bound by customary international law not to take any action contrary to the purpose of the CTBT. The Bush approach requires the United States to assume most CTBT-related responsibilities but robs U.S. diplomats of the moral and political authority to prod other nations to refrain from testing and help strengthen the nonproliferation system.

As 2008 Republican presidential hopefuls Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Chuck Hagel (Neb.) noted back in 1999, the Senate can and should reconsider the CTBT. “A clear majority of the Senate have not given up hope of finding common ground in our quest for a sound and secure ban on nuclear testing,” wrote Hagel.

If the next president were to press the Senate to reconsider and support ratification of the CTBT, that body would find that all the previous arguments against ratification have been soundly rebuffed. A July 2002 report of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) states that the United States “has the technical capabilities to maintain confidence in the safety and reliability of its existing nuclear-weapon stockpile under [a test ban].” The NAS report documents that no would-be CTBT violator could have confidence that a nuclear explosion of any military utility would escape detection. The CTBT international monitoring and on-site inspection system, buttressed by national intelligence, are more than equal to the task.

The United States is not the only guilty party. China, which signed the treaty in 1996, has said for more than three years that “all necessary work is underway in a serious and orderly fashion” to ratify. Beijing owes the world a detailed explanation for its continued delay.

Some prominent non-nuclear-weapon states whose ratification is needed for CTBT entry into force, including Columbia, Egypt, and Indonesia, have not ratified and should do so without delay. Action by these states, along with the United States, could help cure India’s CTBT allergy and lead New Delhi as well as Islamabad to enter into a legally binding test moratorium.

Overcoming the reluctance of the few also requires a stronger effort from the many friends of the CTBT. Unfortunately, top leaders of states committed to the CTBT, including Australia, France, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom, often fail to press their counterparts in the CTBT holdout states when they have the opportunity.

CTBT entry into force is within reach. But because of the inaction of a few states, the viability of a verifiable, comprehensive ban on nuclear tests and the future of the NPT itself is in jeopardy. With the 2008 U.S. election approaching, it is vital that CTBT supporters put the treaty back on the U.S. political map and move to secure ratification by other key states before it is too late.

 

 

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