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Senior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
April 15, 2019
October 2006
Edition Date: 
Sunday, October 1, 2006
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Senate Vote on U.S.-Indian Deal Delayed

Wade Boese

Despite the high priority attached by the Bush administration and New Delhi to a proposed U.S.-Indian civilian nuclear trade agreement, the Senate did not act on legislation advancing the deal before going into recess. But Senate leaders indicated they would take up the matter after the congressional elections in November.

President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh agreed in July 2005 to a wholesale revision of approximately 30 years of acrimonious U.S.-Indian nuclear relations. Bush pledged to alter U.S. law and international rules governing civilian nuclear trade to accommodate India, which has nuclear weapons and has never signed the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Meanwhile, Singh committed to opening more of the Indian nuclear complex to international supervision. (See ACT, September 2005. ) The House passed legislation July 26 moving the United States closer toward the president’s goal. (See ACT, September 2006. )

The Senate, however, has not voted on a similar bill, which the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved June 29. Even if the Senate eventually passes the measure, the upper chamber must reconcile any differences between it and the lower chamber’s bill into a final measure for Bush to sign this year. If a final bill is not produced before the current Congress expires at the end of December, both chambers will need to start from scratch next year.

Several factors contributed to the Senate’s delay so far in taking up the legislation. In addition to debating and voting on other high-profile issues, such as the defense appropriations bill, some Republican lawmakers reportedly raised behind-the-scenes objections to an unrelated measure attached to the U.S.-India bill by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Panel Chairman Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and ranking member Joseph Biden (D-Del.) added to the bill implementing legislation for the United States to complete ratification and bring into force an additional protocol to the U.S. safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The Senate gave its advice and consent to ratification of the measure in March 2004, but it cannot take effect until approval of implementing legislation authorizing the president to decree regulations permitting new IAEA activities inside the United States.

An additional protocol is a voluntary bilateral instrument providing the IAEA with greater authority to discover any illicit nuclear weapons activities inside a country. The United States signed an additional protocol in June 1998 to underscore its commitment to stemming the spread of nuclear arms and show non-nuclear-weapon states that concluding an additional protocol “will not adversely affect legitimate, transparent, and peaceful nuclear energy development,” the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reported in April 2006.

Because the United States already possesses nuclear arms, its additional protocol is essentially symbolic. Indeed, in its April report on the implementing legislation, the panel noted the additional protocol “will not likely result in additional inspections in the United States.” Washington also reserves the right to deny and restrict for national security reasons IAEA inspections and environmental sampling.

Nonetheless, some Republican lawmakers reportedly put a secret hold on the U.S.-Indian deal legislation because of concerns about the additional protocol implementing legislation. A hold is a common practice enabling senators to signal opposition to a particular measure and to tie up future action on it unless concerns are resolved. Lawmakers reportedly resolved their differences on the implementing legislation at the end of September. However, the back and forth on the additional protocol delayed the finalization of a unanimous consent agreement by which the Senate agrees to a specific amount of time and certain number of amendments to be considered during debate on a particular bill.

Meanwhile, India declined offers in September by U.S. negotiators to fly to New Delhi to continue talks toward completing the bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement, also known as a 123 agreement. The Singh government also has not initiated formal talks with the IAEA on safeguards, which are measures that India has agreed to apply to the civilian sector of its nuclear enterprise to help assure foreign suppliers that their civilian nuclear trade will not flow to the military sector. New Delhi has repeatedly stated that Washington must change U.S. law before India takes steps to fulfill its side of the deal.

Singh, opposition politicians, and the Indian nuclear establishment have already protested that the House-passed bill and the draft Senate bill include provisions inimical to India. (See ACT, September 2006. ) In an interview published in the Sept. 23-Oct. 6 issue of the Indian magazine Frontline, Indian Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar said India should “wait for the outcome of the U.S. legislative process” before determining how to proceed on the deal.



U.S., Russia Sign Plutonium Accord

Wade Boese

The United States and Russia finalized an agreement Sept. 15 resolving a long-standing dispute on a bilateral program to dispose of excess nuclear weapons material. Yet, even though the signing marked the highlight of a recent Washington visit by a senior Russian official to discuss a range of nuclear matters, the program’s future still remains in doubt.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak signed the agreement along with Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Robert Joseph at what the two sides termed the inaugural meeting of a new “strategic security dialogue.” In addition to Joseph, U.S. representation also included officials from the Pentagon and the National Security Council, a Department of State official told Arms Control Today Sept. 19.

The agreement settled an issue that had been helping to block the United States and Russia from fulfilling a program to dispose of 34 metric tons of plutonium each. Concluded in principle in 1998 and formally launched in 2000, the program stalled because of a disagreement over assigning responsibility for accidents or damage caused by U.S. personnel working inside Russia. The Kremlin interpreted previous liability formulations as protecting U.S. personnel even if they committed intentional acts of damage.

Negotiators reached a preliminary agreement to resolve the issue in July 2005, but Moscow took more than a year to vet the document through its bureaucracy before signing it. (See ACT, September 2005. )

The agreement addresses Russia’s earlier concerns by establishing a process for the two governments to hold consultations in the case of alleged deliberate damage. If the two sides are unable to reach a settlement within 90 days, the accused personnel could be subject to Russian claims or legal proceedings. Under the settlement, the U.S. government or a private U.S. corporation could not be held accountable for an individual’s transgressions.

Washington is treating the liability protocol as an executive agreement, meaning it does not require Senate advice and consent to take effect. The Kremlin, however, has indicated it will treat the measure as a treaty and seek approval from Russia’s legislature. But Moscow also has asserted it can provisionally apply the agreement if the need arises.

Noting that the total material slated for disposal by the stalled program was equivalent to 16,000 nuclear weapons, Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman Sept. 15 hailed the signing of the liability agreement. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) also praised the move the same day as “a significant step forward.”

Yet, support for the program has receded in Congress, and its funding is in jeopardy. Led by House Appropriations Energy and Water Development Subcommittee Chairman David Hobson (R-Ohio), the House cut $320 million from a program for building U.S. facilities to convert the excess U.S. plutonium into mixed oxide (MOX) fuel for nuclear reactors. Hobson has defended the action both as saving money and sensible because Moscow is no longer interested in the MOX approach. “The Russians are not coming,” Hobson adamantly argued May 24. (See ACT, September 2006. )

On the other hand, the Senate Appropriations Committee fully approved funding for the program. If the full Senate follows suit, then lawmakers from the two chambers will need to reconcile their competing funding levels.

Aside from signing the liability agreement, there were no other public results from Joseph’s and Kislyak’s meeting. But a diplomatic source told Arms Control Today Sept. 18 that the United States presented Russia with a draft agreement, commonly known as a 123 agreement, to establish full civilian nuclear cooperation between the two countries. This follows a July agreement between Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin to pursue such a relationship. (See ACT, September 2006 .) Moscow is expected to return a revised draft back to Washington in October.

Recently, Russia has indicated that its rationale may have shifted for such an agreement. Previously, Russia had said it wanted such an accord in order to host a depository for U.S.-origin spent fuel from countries such as Taiwan, South Korea, and Switzerland. But this summer Russian nuclear officials told the trade publication Nuclear Fuels that they want such an agreement primarily to import U.S.-origin uranium for enrichment and to exchange nuclear technologies.

In future rounds of talks, Joseph and Kislyak will discuss joint measures to stem the spread of unconventional arms, guard against terrorists using unconventional weapons, and provide “transparency and confidence-building measures in U.S. and Russian nuclear force postures and missile defense,” according to a Sept. 15 State Department press release.

The statement made no mention of nuclear reductions, an objective Russia appears keen on exploring. (See ACT, September 2006. ) Bush administration officials have repeatedly expressed disinterest in this notion.

The 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) obligates the United States and Russia to reduce their respective arsenals of approximately 5,500 and 4,400 deployed strategic nuclear warheads down to less than 2,200 each by the end of 2012. The two sides are currently relying on the verification regime of the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) to help assess progress toward the SORT goal, but START is due to expire in December 2009.

Discussion of possible “arrangements” to succeed START will be part of the future dialogue between Joseph and Kislyak, the State Department official told Arms Control Today. “As we approach the expiration of START, the United States believes the U.S.-Russia security relationship should reflect the end of the Cold War,” the official added. The Bush administration has typically made similar statements when arguing that the United States and Russia no longer need bilateral arms treaties because of their warmer relationship.

No date has been set for the next meeting between Joseph and Kislyak.



The United States and Russia finalized an agreement Sept. 15 resolving a long-standing dispute on a bilateral program to dispose of excess nuclear weapons material...

Balancing Nuclear "Rights" and Responsibilities

Daryl G. Kimball

Since the beginning of the nuclear age, efforts to exploit nuclear technology for energy and for profit have complicated the task of reducing the nuclear weapons threat. Now, as states such as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Iran, and South Africa either pursue or consider moving into the business of enriching uranium, the complexities and dangers could significantly deepen.

The 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) grants states the “right” to pursue nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, so long as states forswear nuclear weapons and comply with safeguards against the diversion of nuclear technology and materials for weapons purposes.

International safeguards can help detect and deter cheating, but they cannot prevent “breakout” scenarios. Yet, if current trends continue, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei has warned that we could “have 20-30…virtual nuclear weapons states, meaning countries that could move within months into converting their civilian capacity or capability into a weapons program.”

About 12 states already possess uranium enrichment or plutonium separation facilities, or both. These technologies can be used to produce fissile material for bombs. Government-affiliated and subsidized entities in the United States, Russia, and France, as well as a British-Dutch-German consortium, provide an enrichment capacity sufficient to meet current and projected future nuclear energy demands. As President George W. Bush noted in 2004, “enrichment and reprocessing are not necessary for nations seeking to harness nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.”

Even though they have small domestic nuclear energy sectors, Argentine, Brazilian, and South African officials, like Iran’s leaders, cite domestic nuclear fuel needs and the possibility of cutoffs in external supply as the rationale for exploring new, multibillion-dollar centrifuge-enrichment facilities. Prime Minister John Howard has called for Australia to enter the uranium-enrichment market although it is also economically infeasible for his country.

However, supply interruptions are only likely—and would be appropriate—if the recipient state violates its nonproliferation commitments. That is not likely, given that these states are members in good standing with the NPT and have supported action toward global nuclear disarmament. But if they insist on having enrichment capabilities, others such as Iran or South Korea, with weaker compliance records and stronger motives to pursue nuclear weapons, are sure to insist on having them too.

To reverse the trend, several states and a leading nongovernmental organization have offered ideas to create assured nuclear fuel supplies for states that forgo enrichment and reprocessing. At a special IAEA conference last month, a range of schemes were discussed. A “global nuclear fuel bank” is an old idea that may someday become a reality and could address the supply concerns, real or imagined, of many states.

Meanwhile, tighter restrictions on the transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technology and on the construction of new facilities are in order. Bush’s 2004 proposal that Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) states not sell enrichment and reprocessing equipment to any state that does not already have the capability is good but is not enough. It would allow Japan to move ahead with a major plutonium reprocessing plant and the construction of new U.S. and French centrifuge-enrichment plants. Not surprisingly, the NSG has not endorsed this discriminatory approach.

If we are to succeed in limiting the number of states capable of producing nuclear bomb material, all states must be willing to provide responsible leadership and restraint. In the near future, there is no economic rationale for new states to enter the civil uranium-enrichment or plutonium-separation arena. The further pursuit of plutonium separation by states such as Japan, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and especially the United States will only lead to more proliferation risks.

As supplier and buyer states explore options to deal with potential market shortages and interruptions in fuel supply, they must also all agree that recipient states meet basic nonproliferation standards. Otherwise, the growing trade in nuclear fuel and technology could facilitate weapons production. At the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference, member states endorsed a policy requiring “full-scope” safeguards as a condition of nuclear supply.

Unfortunately, the Bush administration, along with France, Russia, and the United Kingdom, is moving to weaken the existing safeguards regime by pursuing full civil nuclear trade with India, which refuses safeguards on all its facilities and produces fissile material for weapons. The leaders of Australia, Brazil, and South Africa have become a part of this problem too. All three have recently said they are prepared to reverse nonproliferation policies in order sell their uranium supplies to New Delhi.

Speaking for many nonaligned, non-nuclear-weapon states, South African officials have resisted restrictions on enrichment and plutonium separation technology that infringes on what they call their “inalienable right” to nuclear energy. Such interpretations of the NPT are dangerous and out of touch. Just as the nuclear powers have an obligation to agree to verifiably halt fissile production and dismantle their weapons stocks, non-nuclear-weapon states must exercise their “rights” in a way that helps avoid the further proliferation of nuclear weapons-related technology and the nuclear anarchy that would ensue.



Vienna Meeting Airs New Nuclear Fuel Proposals

Miles A. Pomper

Concerns that global tensions over Iran’s uranium-enrichment program may be the first in a series of future crises are spurring governments and private organizations from nuclear supplier countries to step forward with new efforts to limit the spread of nuclear fuel-cycle technology. But it is not clear if the steps will be enough to dissuade additional countries from undertaking activities that could potentially provide critical materials for nuclear weapons.

New steps include proposals from Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom and a $50 million commitment from the nongovernmental Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI). Russia and the United States also continue to promote their own proposals. The initiatives were the focus of a special International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meeting Sept. 19-20 to develop a “new framework” for fuel supply issues and will be considered further by the agency in future months.

Although differing in their particulars, the efforts are aimed at encouraging non-nuclear-weapon states to forgo domestic uranium enrichment and the reprocessing of plutonium in spent nuclear fuel. Low-enriched uranium (LEU) or a mixture of plutonium and uranium can be used to fuel nuclear power plants, but highly enriched uranium (HEU) or plutonium can provide the fissile material for nuclear weapons. Questions about whether Iran’s pursuit of enrichment technologies is intended for peaceful or military purposes lie at the heart of the standoff over Tehran’s program.

Trying to avoid future problems, the proposals seek to assure the non-nuclear-weapon states that they will be able to import adequate supplies of nuclear fuel.

NTI co-chairman Sam Nunn, for example, said Sept. 19 that billionaire Warren Buffett would provide $50 million to the IAEA to fund “a last-resort fuel reserve for nations that have made the sovereign choice to develop their nuclear energy based on foreign sources of fuel supply services and therefore have no indigenous enrichment facilities.” The money would be used to create an LEU stockpile and would be contingent on one or more member states contributing an additional $100 million in funds or an equivalent amount of LEU within two years and on agency member states agreeing on a political framework to manage such a stockpile. To date, however, no member-state has come forward and committed funds toward this project.

Assistant Secretary of Energy Dennis Spurgeon told reporters Sept. 19 that the NTI effort would complement a proposal that six nuclear suppliers made to the IAEA Board of Governors in late May. The proposal by France, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States would seek to establish a “multilateral mechanism for reliable access to nuclear fuel.”

U.S. officials have said the voluntary IAEA mechanism would include three basic elements. The IAEA would facilitate new commercial arrangements if a country should find its supply interrupted for reasons other than failure to comply with nonproliferation obligations. Reserves of enriched uranium, held nationally or perhaps by the IAEA, would serve as a fuel reserve of “last resort.” The agency would determine eligibility based on a country’s compliance with IAEA safeguards and acceptance of nuclear safety standards, as well as the renunciation of “sensitive fuel cycle activities,” such as uranium enrichment or spent fuel reprocessing. (See ACT, July/August 2006.)

In a related effort, the United States last year pledged to convert more than 17 tons of HEU into LEU for a fuel reserve. Spurgeon said that uranium would have a market value of more than $500 million but also made clear that none of this material would be placed under multilateral control.

Russia has pledged to establish a system of international centers that would produce and provide nuclear fuel under IAEA safeguards. Russian officials have claimed that the first such center in Siberia would be ready for operation next year. For the past year, Russia has sought to encourage Iran to enrich its fuel at such a center, but Tehran rebuffed the offer after showing initial interests.

In a Sept. 18 interview with the German business daily Handelsblatt, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier chimed in with a proposal for establishing a multinational uranium-enrichment facility under IAEA supervision.

“A multilaterization of the nuclear cycle is necessary in order to avoid similar developments in newly industrializing countries like Iran and strengthen the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT),” Steinmeier told the paper.

“There have to be international supply guarantees for the nuclear fuel. This could replace the wish for having your own uranium-enrichment facilities. It could be financed by countries which claim the right to buy nuclear fuel,” he added. Many of the details of this proposal remain unclear.

Still, the moves may not be enough. According to news reports, several countries have recently expressed an interest in building their first uranium-enrichment or plutonium reprocessing facilities, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, and South Africa.

Developing countries in particular are jealously guarding what they view as their right to such technologies. The NPT’s basic bargain calls for states to have access to nuclear fuels and technologies for peaceful purposes in return for renouncing nuclear weapons.

For example, at the Vienna gathering, Buyelwa Sonjica, South Africa’s minister of minerals and energy, said that any framework on access to nuclear fuel “should not involve any preconditions that would even hint” at forgoing their “inalienable right to nuclear energy” under the NPT. “We should guard against the notion that sensitive technologies are safe in the hands of some but pose a risk in the hands of others,” she said. “States that may decide to pursue domestic sensitive fuel-cycle activities for peaceful purposes and in conformity with legal obligations should not be discriminated against by excluding them from possible benefits that may derive from such mechanisms,” Sonjica added.


U.S.-Russian Nuclear Program Expires

Caitlin Harrington

Last-minute informal U.S.-Russian talks aimed at preserving an eight-year-old program appear to have come up short. The Nuclear Cities Initiative (NCI), designed to keep Russian nuclear weapons specialists from selling their secrets to rogue states, expired Sept. 22 with little hope that it would be revived.

The United States and Russia established NCI in 1998 as a unique program to rejuvenate 10 “closed” Russian cities that had held key portions of the Soviet nuclear weapons complex. At that time, many of them were reeling from the downsizing of the Soviet military machine and brimming with out-of-work nuclear specialists looking for a steady cash flow. The program provided jobs, English language training, small business loans, and other forms of economic relief to these unemployed nuclear workers.

Since these cities were founded, workers have essentially been isolated there by the Soviet and then Russian authorities because of their government’s desire to prevent the spread of nuclear secrets.

But NCI appears to be drawing to an end because the Department of Energy and Rosatom, the Russian nuclear agency, failed to renew the partnership in 2003 after Russia rejected a U.S. demand for a blanket liability exemption for all Americans working on NCI projects or in a program to dispose of surplus plutonium from nuclear weapons. (See ACT, September 2003). Earlier this month, the United States meted out a compromise with Russia on the plutonium disposition program that they said would apply to all future such programs. But it may be too late to save NCI. In 2003 the two countries agreed on a three-year extension to wrap up ongoing projects, but that period is now coming to an end.

Indeed, current and former U.S. government officials say there may be good reasons to let the NCI project fade away. They point out that the economic relief program may have lost some of its relevance in recent years as the Russian economy has improved. Some Russian government officials have echoed that sentiment, saying that they no longer need to rely on U.S. help to keep workers in closed cities employed. With the Russian economy booming, people living in Russia’s nuclear cities are doing much better than they were back in 1998 when guards at nuclear facilities were known to leave their posts to forage for food in the woods, according to former Clinton administration official Matthew Bunn.

But Kenneth Luongo, also a former Clinton administration official, said that the end of NCI is the latest harbinger of the decline of U.S.-Russian nuclear security cooperation. NCI’s downfall marks the abandonment of efforts to shrink the footprint of the Russian nuclear weapons complex, Luongo said, and of U.S. efforts to find jobs for scientists who, in the post-September 11 era, could cause security problems for the United States if they seek jobs in Iran, Iraq, or other countries of proliferation concern. Luongo, Bunn, and officials at the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) also point to the important, albeit modest, successes of NCI. It created about 1,600 jobs and helped to close down one of the Soviet Union’s largest nuclear warhead factories in Sarov, turning it into a computer center.

Even as the NCI program appears to be coming to an end, however, NNSA officials insist that programs to prevent unemployed nuclear weapons scientists from smuggling parts and selling secrets are still a priority. Last year, NNSA wrapped NCI into a broader program, Global Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention, which still subsists today on a U.S. government budget that averages about $25 million a year. The program pairs former weapons scientists in countries such as Russia and Libya with U.S. businesses to pursue constructive, civilian commercial enterprises, such as producing antidotes for tuberculosis or influenza.

NNSA officials also still say there is a chance that last-minute talks between the United States and Russia could yield a new bilateral agreement to continue the kind of work pursued under NCI. It is too early to know whether those talks with yield results, and it is likely that any new efforts to help the closed cities will look different than NCI.

“Russia and we have had informal discussions about how and whether a new bilateral agreement could usefully advance our security interests, given changes in the security environment since the original NCI agreement was established,” NNSA spokesperson Julianne Smith told Arms Control Today Sept. 21.

Whether NCI is renewed, those focused on reducing the risks posed by Russia’s nuclear weapons complex have their work cut out for them. Over the next several years, Russia is scheduled to shut down its three plutonium-production reactors—two at Seversk and one at Zheleznogorsk—and the two processing plants that serve them in a move that will throw additional thousands of nuclear scientists and technicians out of work.


Senate Intel Panel Releases Two Iraq Reports

Paul Kerr

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released two reports Sept. 8 as part of the second phase of its inquiry into pre-war U.S. intelligence concerning Iraq’s suspected chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons programs.

One report compares pre-war U.S. intelligence assessments with information gathered following the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. The other report evaluates the intelligence community’s use of information obtained from individuals associated with the Iraqi National Congress (INC), a group comprised of Iraqi exiles who opposed Saddam Hussein’s regime.

The first report reaches similar conclusions to those of a previous official U.S. government postinvasion investigation conducted by the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), the task force charged with coordinating the U.S.-led search for Iraqi prohibited weapons. The ISG had already debunked Bush administration officials’ pre-war claims that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons and had an active nuclear weapons program. (See ACT, December 2005.)

The intelligence community continues to review documents seized in Iraq. But a 2006 CIA retrospective, newly revealed in the intelligence committee report, states that such efforts are unlikely to yield new evidence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs. Noting that there “comes a point where the absence of evidence does indeed become the evidence of absence,” the CIA report adds that investigators “should have found at least some incidental reporting or references” if Baghdad had conducted “concealment and deception operations…to the scale necessary.”

In July 2004, the intelligence panel completed the investigation’s first phase, comparing the intelligence community’s pre-war assessments with the supporting pre-invasion intelligence. (See ACT, September 2004.) The second phase of the investigation is supposed to include an examination of Bush administration officials’ acquisition and use of intelligence, but it has been mired in partisan controversy. It began in June 2003 but has yet to be completed, despite repeated pledges from committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.). (See ACT, April 2006.)

The Sept. 8 committee reports focus on the intelligence community. The panel did not release three other reports examining other executive branch offices. While the committee maintains it will issue the additional reports, no date has yet been set for this. One of the reports would compare U.S. officials’ public statements regarding Iraq’s WMD and terrorist-related activities with the available intelligence. The others will evaluate U.S. pre-invasion intelligence about the likely postwar conditions in Iraq and “intelligence activities” conducted by officials from the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.

The Sept. 8 committee reports concentrate mainly on an October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which judged that Baghdad possessed chemical and biological weapons and was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. An NIE is supposed to be the intelligence community’s most authoritative assessment of a given subject. (See ACT, September 2004.)

Iraqi Weapons: Predictions vs. Results

Largely recapitulating information contained in previous reports, the report comparing intelligence before and after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq reiterates that, during the 1990s, Iraq had destroyed its chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons programs.

The CIA retrospective described in the report concluded that then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein chose to withhold information about Baghdad’s illicit weapons programs from UN inspectors who began work in the country after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. But in a reaction to “unexpectedly thorough inspections,” Iraq later destroyed large amounts of “undeclared weapons and related materials” without the presence of the inspectors.

Baghdad decided to cooperate with the inspectors in 1995 following the defection of the Iraqi leader’s son-in-law, Hussein Kamel. According to the report, Iraq gave relevant documentation to the inspectors “in a genuine attempt to come clean on programs, albeit while attempting to save face,” apparently by blaming Kamel for concealing the documents.

Iraq believed at the time that this cooperation “would gain favor with the UN.” However, Baghdad’s disclosure instead validated the international community’s suspicions that the country had misled the inspectors, suspicions that “resulted in more intrusive inspections,” the committee report says. The UN’s reaction led Hussein to believe that WMD allegations by the United States and other countries were being used “as a pretext for regime change” in Iraq, according to the CIA retrospective.

Baghdad subsequently stopped cooperating with the inspectors, who were withdrawn in December 1998.

Apparently questioning a widely articulated theory, the CIA retrospective also notes that there is no evidence indicating that Hussein made “a concerted effort to maintain the illusion of WMD for the benefit of local adversaries,” such as Iran. Iraq had only a general “sense of the need to project power and military might,” the retrospective adds.

INC’s Role

The report evaluating the intelligence community’s use of information gathered from Iraqi exiles concludes that it used “false information from INC-affiliated sources.”

The 2002 NIE obtained data from two such sources. For example, the NIE contained a description, based on one source, of a new facility suspected of being part of a reconstituted Iraqi nuclear weapons program. The ISG later investigated the site but found no evidence that it had been “involved in nuclear-related work,” the intelligence panel report says. Subsequent intelligence community investigations have called into question the source’s credibility. According to the report, the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) believe that the source never actually visited the facility he described, despite his claims to the contrary. Some intelligence officials believe that the defector “may have been provided with information about the facility by someone else.”

False information from an INC-associated source was also used to corroborate the NIE’s contention that Iraq possessed mobile facilities for producing biological weapons agents, the report says.

Additionally, the DIA continued to issue reports from INC-associated sources after the NIE was published. For example, a November report stated that, according to a member of the Iraqi opposition, Iraq had been smuggling chemical and biological weapons to Syria. A January 2003 report cited a source who claimed that Iraq had conducted “unspecified nuclear activity” at two facilities during the spring of 2002.

The Senate report only discusses information that the INC provided to the intelligence community and does not address widespread concerns that U.S. policymakers may have used INC intelligence obtained through other channels. Indeed, an additional view authored by several Democratic senators cites a June 2002 memorandum from the INC to the Senate Appropriations Committee that identified officials from the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Office of the Vice President as recipients of INC-provided intelligence.

The senators also point out that a September 2002 public White House document cited information from an INC-affiliated defector to support a claim that Iraq had chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons programs.


The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released two reports Sept. 8 as part of the second phase of its inquiry into pre-war U.S. intelligence concerning Iraq’s suspected chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons programs.

One report compares pre-war U.S. intelligence assessments with information gathered following the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. The other report evaluates the intelligence community’s use of information obtained from individuals associated with the Iraqi National Congress (INC), a group comprised of Iraqi exiles who opposed Saddam Hussein’s regime. (Continue)

Pentagon Shifts Arms Control Posts

Sonia Luthra

The Department of Defense’s top policy chief Aug. 28 announced an extensive reorganization that will affect several senior Pentagon arms control and nonproliferation positions.

Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Eric Edelman, who announced the reorganization, told reporters that its purpose is to reorient the policy department to better confront global terrorism. He said that the organization had been revamped to improve interagency coordination with the Department of State and the National Security Council as well as interactions with joint regional combatant commanders and countries overseas.

Under the new structure, the assistant secretary of defense for international security policy (ISP), currently Peter C. W. Flory, will be known as the assistant secretary of defense for global affairs. This new assistant secretary will have some of the same responsibilities as the predecessor position, but also some different ones.

For example, the new assistant secretary will work closely with the deputy undersecretary for technology security policy, who will report directly both to the new assistant secretary and to Edelman’s office. The deputy undersecretary will still have the Defense Technology Security Administration (DTSA) in his or her bailiwick. DTSA handles export controls and several nonproliferation duties, in addition to working with the State Department on cooperative threat reduction (CTR) initiatives with Russia and other countries. The deputy undersecretary post has been vacant since Lisa Bronson left the Defense Department in August 2005, and Edelman said the Pentagon has yet to come up with a candidate to fill the position.

Once Bronson’s replacement is finally chosen, he or she will supervise a new deputy assistant secretary of defense for counternarcotics, counterproliferation, and global threats. In the current organization, counterproliferation falls under the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low intensity conflict (SOLIC). The reorganization would also place the negotiations policy office, which conducts CTR negotiations and helps represent the department in arms control negotiations, under this new deputy assistant secretary.

The reorganization would shift responsibility for overseeing nuclear policy planning and nuclear deterrence from ISP to SOLIC. Replacing the forces policy office would be a new strategic capabilities office. Edelman said the office would be responsible not only for continuing with the administration’s effort to remake the nuclear triad but also for managing efforts to develop new precision strike capabilities and moving forward with missile defenses. The shift puts the policy office in line with efforts by Gen. James Cartwright, commander of Strategic Command, to reshape the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. deterrence strategy.

Departmental changes should begin Oct. 1 and are scheduled for completion March 1, 2007.


Re: ReSTART? The Need for a New U.S.-Russian Strategic Arms Agreement

Nikolai Sokov

Anatoli Diakov and Eugene Miasnikov (“ReSTART? The Need for a New U.S.-Russian Strategic Arms Agreement,” Arms Control Today, September 2006) provide an interesting discussion of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s proposal to replace START I with a new strategic reductions treaty. But they did not fully touch on several important issues, pertaining to how a final treaty might evolve.

Diakov and Miasnikov are right to argue that START I should be replaced, not extended. Many of its provisions became outdated even before it was signed because the pace of events in the last years of the Cold War overtook negotiations. In fact, the United States and the Soviet Union briefly considered abandoning it halfway in favor of negotiating a new treaty, but then decided to finish the job and instead adopted a special Joint Statement at the June 1990 summit outlining some key provisions of a follow-on treaty.

However, two subsequent attempts to replace START I failed. The 1993 START II never entered into force and was formally abandoned by Russia in 2002 the day after the United States withdrew from the 1972 ABM Treaty. START III consultations, which were launched by the 1997 Helsinki Joint Statement, never came to fruition and were abandoned by the end of 2000. By contrast, the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) is not a replacement for START I—it is more a joint statement than a full-scale treaty.

Many outdated provisions notwithstanding, START I has done a good job of providing transparency and predictability for the strategic arsenals of the parties. These elements need to be preserved. START I limits, however, are part of the past. It is likely that the substitute treaty will incorporate the targets provided by SORT—1,700-2,200 warheads compared to 6,000 in START I—or establish a new, somewhat lower target.

The biggest question regarding negotiations on the replacement treaty, which for convenience could be dubbed START+, is the scope of changes—provisions that will be dropped or modified. The “game of negotiations” is likely to be tense. Each or almost each proposed change entails a concession to the other side. Consequently, each side will carefully weigh which changes it wants to propose; and, paradoxically, the number of changes might be smaller than one can expect today. Each or almost each bargain will force the sides to consider abandoning the “game” altogether, that is, each will use the threat of withdrawing from negotiations and allowing START I to lapse without replacement.

Diakov and Miasnikov named Russia’s central demand: the right to put multiple warheads on its new Topol-M ICBMs. This appears to be a sine qua non condition: Russia would rather allow START I to expire than have a START+ without it. In fact, in the late 1990s some in the Russian military were even prepared to consider early withdrawal from START I just to clear the way for putting multiple warheads on Topol-Ms. The right to increase the number of warheads on other existing types could be on the agenda as well.

By contrast, a key U.S. demand—one that is likely to be granted—is likely to be new accounting rules that will make START+ similar to SORT. Whereas in START I every type of delivery vehicle is assumed to carry a certain number of warheads, SORT counts only warheads that each party declares deployed (although that number cannot be reliably verified), allowing the parties to claim reductions by removing warheads without eliminating missiles. This is known as “downloading.” Additionally, the United States will probably want the right to replace nuclear warheads with conventional warheads on some sea- and land-based strategic missiles.

Another item on the Russian agenda will be preservation of START I’s verification system. Russian officials consistently emphasize its value, but they also consider it cumbersome and expensive. It seems likely that Russian proposals will be similar to the ones considered for the ill-fated START III. Reportedly, these included reductions in the number of short-notice inspections and their replacement with “visits,” whose procedures would be less taxing than those mandated by START I.

Other likely Russian proposals would likely prove more controversial. These include modifying procedures for verifying the number of warheads so that inspectors can more easily count their actual number and a continued Russian insistence that existing warhead platforms on downloaded missiles be eliminated so that warheads, once removed, could not be put back secretly.

While the United States will probably agree to simplify START I verification rules, it will continue to object to new procedures for downloaded missiles. It will almost certainly have controversial proposals as well—elements of its own START III proposal regarding transparency of warhead stockpiles, including tactical nuclear warheads. Russia rejected these proposals in 2000 and is likely to reject them again.

In the end, negotiations might lead to an intriguing outcome, a START+ combining some of the flexibility of SORT with a simplified START I verification system.

One change that is almost certain concerns the number of parties to START+. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, its place was taken by four newly independent states with START I-limited weapons in their territories: Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine. The replacement treaty again could be made bilateral.

An element of uncertainty of START+ talks is how the Kremlin will address the issue of missile defense. Russia could insist on restraints on U.S. deployments, particularly in space, a demand that the United States is certain to resist. The result would be deadlock, as occurred with START I and later with START III. Russia might abandon that position, but rather than a change in its policy, this would represent a practical decision to solve only issues that are solvable and to postpone missile defense until some future, more opportune time.

Will START I replacement signal a renewed commitment of the United States and Russia to their nuclear disarmament obligations under Article VI of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty? Hardly. Like SORT, START+ would be primarily about optimizing nuclear arsenals inherited from the Cold War. The key benefits of the new treaty would be that these reductions would be transparent and predictable—features that SORT lacks. This seems a fair gain, worthy of a sincere effort.


Nikolai Sokov is a senior research associate at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. He was part of the Soviet delegation to the START I talks.


Japan, Australia Sanction North Korea

Paul Kerr

In a coordinated action, Japan and Australia announced Sept. 19 that they had adopted sanctions targeting multiple foreign entities tied to North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs.

The governments said that the sanctions were adopted in response to UN Security Council Resolution 1695, which the council adopted in July after North Korea launched several ballistic missiles. (See ACT, September 2006.) The resolution condemned the launches and called on Pyongyang to return to the six-party talks designed to resolve the crisis surrounding the country’s nuclear weapons program. The last round of such talks was held in November 2005. (See ACT, September 2006.)

The resolution requires states to prevent missiles and related “items, materials, goods and technology” from being transferred to North Korea’s missile or chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons programs. This requirement includes preventing the transfer of “any financial resources in relation to” Pyongyang’s weapons programs.

Australia and Japan each punished the same 12 organizations, as well as a Swiss citizen. All are already subject to similar U.S. sanctions. (See ACT, May 2006.) Japan also designated three additional institutions as suspect.

The sanctions restrict the designated entities’ ability to conduct financial transactions in the two countries. In Australia, the designees are prohibited from conducting financial transactions without prior approval from the Reserve Bank of Australia, the country’s central bank. A Japanese diplomat told Arms Control Today Sept. 28 that Tokyo’s sanctions prohibit financial transactions between the designated entities and Japanese citizens or institutions.

During a Sept. 19 press briefing, Tomohiko Taniguchi, deputy press secretary for Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, would not say whether Tokyo plans to renew other sanctions previously imposed after the missile tests. These included barring North Korean officials and a North Korean passenger ferry from entering Japan.

A Sept. 19 Department of State press release praised the actions by Japan and Australia and indicated that Washington might place additional sanctions on North Korea in response to the missile tests.

The statement added that the United States “strongly encourage[s] other states” to take actions similar to Australia’s and Japan’s, but none have yet done so. For example, South Korea halted food and fertilizer assistance to North Korea following the tests but has not announced any further measures.

For its part, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang told reporters Sept. 19 that Beijing “opposes” the new sanctions.

More Talks?

Taniguchi stated that the measures are meant to send a “powerful message” that North Korea should return to the six-party talks, which also include China, Russia, South Korea, and the United States. Pyongyang, however, has not indicated that it will do so.

Meanwhile, the United States appears to have somewhat softened its resistance to engaging in bilateral talks with North Korea before the six-party talks resume. U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Alexander Vershbow indicated during a Sept. 21 interview with South Korea’s semi-official Yonhap News Agency that Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill would be willing to travel to Pyongyang for bilateral meetings should North Korea agree to return to the talks.

North Korea has expressed interest in such a meeting. A June Foreign Ministry statement invited Hill to visit the country and “directly explain” the Bush administration’s position regarding the talks.

Hill has never visited North Korea, but the two countries have previously held bilateral meetings elsewhere. For example, U.S. officials met with their North Korean counterparts during past rounds of the six-party talks and held lower-level meetings in New York. (See ACT, September 2005.) Furthermore, U.S. officials told North Korea last fall that Hill was willing to visit the country if Pyongyang agreed to shut down its nuclear reactor. North Korea rejected the proposal. (See ACT, January/February 2006.)

Vershbow’s recent statement indicates a slight shift in the administration’s position. U.S. statements in recent months have suggested that the United States would only hold bilateral talks with North Korea during another session of the six-party talks.

Other participants in the talks have argued that Washington and Pyongyang should meet to resolve concerns about the September 2005 U.S. designation of Macau-based Banco Delta Asia as a “money laundering concern.”

Pyongyang has repeatedly cited that designation, which was followed by Macau’s decision to freeze the bank’s North Korean assets, as the reason for its refusal to return to the talks.


Israel Looks to Bolster Arms Capabilities

Wade Boese

After absorbing thousands of rocket and missile attacks this summer, Israel is keener than ever to expand its missile defenses. As international tensions with Iran mount, Israel also is moving to boost its offensive military capabilities with the purchase of two new submarines.

Reacting to the July 12 kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah militants, Israel launched a four-week offensive to root out and eliminate members of the radical Shiite group in southern Lebanon. As Israeli air strikes pounded targets across southern Lebanon and its ground forces poured across the border, Hezbollah unleashed a torrent of rocket attacks against northern Israeli cities.

By the time hostilities ended Aug. 14, 3,970 rockets and missiles had struck inside Israel, according to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The projectiles killed 43 Israeli civilians and forced more than a million people to seek protection in shelters, the ministry reported.

Israel possesses two operational anti-missile systems: the joint U.S.-Israeli Arrow and the U.S.-manufactured Patriot Advanced Capability-2 (PAC-2). Although both systems were activated during the recent conflict, no interceptors were fired because the incoming rockets were of a shorter range capability than the two missile defenses are designed to counter.

An estimated 80 percent of the rockets that struck Israel were 122-millimeter Katyushas with ranges of 20 kilometers or less and flight times of roughly one to two minutes. Hezbollah also fired 220-millimeter and 302-millimeter rockets but did not apparently launch many Fajr-type missiles, with ranges of 40 to 70 kilometers, or a single one of its longest-range missiles, the Zelzal, which has an estimated range of up to 200 kilometers. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) claimed that it succeeded in destroying some of these more potent missiles before they could be fired.

Prior to the recent conflict, the Israeli government had estimated that Hezbollah had stockpiled up to 12,000 rockets and missiles primarily from its patrons in Iran and Syria. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs asserted in an Aug. 15 statement that “most of the missiles [that] hit Israeli cities were manufactured by Iran.”

To prevent Hezbollah from importing additional arms, UN Security Council Resolution 1701, approved Aug. 11, calls on countries to prevent arms shipments into Lebanon except to the Lebanese government. The resolution also reiterates a demand from Resolution 1559 two years ago that Lebanon disband and disarm all militias inside its borders.

On Sept. 12, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan reported to the Security Council that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had provided personal assurances that his country, a key conduit for arms into Lebanon, would “undertake all necessary measures” to implement the arms embargo. The Lebanese government also pledged to deploy more troops along its border with Syria to prevent arms flows into Lebanon and requested that the United Nations help step up maritime patrols along the 200 kilometers of Lebanese coastline. France, Greece, Italy, and the United Kingdom have pledged to provide forces for this mission.

Still, Israel harbors doubts about the potential effectiveness of the embargo, particularly because it blames Lebanon for failing to disarm Hezbollah over the past two years. The group “would never have obtained the missiles and military equipment at its disposal had the Lebanese government not allowed this weaponry to reach Lebanon,” according to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Hezbollah remains defiant. In a Sept. 22 speech, Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah claimed the group still possessed 20,000 rockets and that “no army in the world” could disarm it, according to several press reports.

Consequently, Israel is looking to secure itself, in part, by augmenting its missile defense capabilities to intercept shorter-range rockets. Earlier this year, Israel started moving in this direction by selecting Raytheon Corp. and Israel’s Rafael Corp. to develop the Short Range Ballistic Missile Defense (SRBMD). This program is supposed to produce an interceptor missile that is faster and has a greater range than the PAC-2.

Yet, the system will be geared toward destroying projectiles with greater ranges than the Katyushas, leaving Israel vulnerable to attacks by these and similar shorter-range rockets. To address this void, Israel is evaluating a series of weapons concepts, including lasers, with the goal of selecting an option by the end of this year.

The United States and Israel previously explored a joint laser system, the Mobile Tactical High Energy Laser, for the Katyusha-type threat, but Washington terminated the program in September 2005. Dan O’Boyle, a spokesman for Army missile defense programs at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, told Arms Control Today Sept. 20 that the program was cancelled because of “higher priority funding requirements and pressing financial obligations to support our deployed soldiers.”

In general, Israel relies on U.S. funding to pursue its anti-missile projects. For example, the United States has provided roughly $1.5 billion since 1988 to the Arrow program. Israel keeps its missile defense funding secret.

With U.S. help, Israel is also aiming to improve the Arrow. Israel wants to expand the interceptor’s range, enable it to conduct intercepts at a higher altitude, and possibly shift it to a kinetic, or hit-to-kill, capability. Current Arrow interceptors employ a conventional explosive warhead.

Israel’s motivation for pursuing these upgrades is to stay ahead of what it views as Iran’s efforts to enhance its ballistic missile arsenal and develop nuclear weapons. Iran’s Shahab-3 is estimated to be capable of striking Israel. (See ACT, November 2004. )

The recent conflict with Hezbollah, which Israel considers an Iranian proxy, appears to have sharpened Israel’s concerns about Iran. “I think the Iranian threat is now also clearer,” Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told reporters Sept. 13 in Washington.

In a move aimed at bolstering its military capabilities vis-à-vis Iran, Israel in July signed a contract to purchase two Dolphin submarines from Germany. The deal came to light in August.

Israel already has three earlier versions of the diesel-electric-powered vessels, which allegedly have been outfitted to carry nuclear-armed missiles. (See ACT, November 2003. ) Although generally suspected of building up an inventory of nuclear weapons numbering in the tens to low hundreds, Israel adheres to a policy of nuclear ambiguity, only saying that it will not be the first country to “introduce” nuclear arms into the region. The German government has said the submarines are not designed to deliver nuclear weapons.



After absorbing thousands of rocket and missile attacks this summer, Israel is keener than ever to expand its missile defenses. As international tensions with Iran mount, Israel also is moving to boost its offensive military capabilities with the purchase of two new submarines. (Continue)


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