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October 2006
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News Analysis: IAEA Limits Leave Iran Intel Gaps

Paul Kerr

As negotiators seek to start talks to ease concerns about Iran’s nuclear program, Tehran’s February decision to limit the access of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors is contributing to additional doubts about its nuclear intentions and capabilities.

When the IAEA referred Iran’s case to the UN Security Council in February, Tehran retaliated by halting its voluntary implementation of the additional protocol to its safeguards agreement with the agency. Iran has signed the protocol, which augments the IAEA’s authority to investigate possible clandestine nuclear programs, but has not ratified it.

The resulting vacuum of information raises concerns that the international community could either underestimate or overestimate the progress of Tehran’s gas centrifuge-based uranium-enrichment program. It is particularly important as U.S. officials spar among themselves and with foreign officials over the potential threat posed by the program, which could produce either civilian nuclear fuel or fissile material for a nuclear weapon.

In order to promote Iranian transparency, the Security Council in July adopted Resolution 1696, which calls on Tehran to act in accordance with its additional protocol. Iran has not complied.

Without Tehran’s implementation of its protocol, inspectors find their access limited to the terms of the country’s standard safeguards agreement with the IAEA. Such agreements, which are required under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), allow the agency to monitor NPT states-parties’ declared civilian nuclear activities to ensure they are not diverted to military purposes. But inspectors have considerably less access to nuclear-related sites and information without an additional protocol in effect.

Nor has Iran so far heeded the Security Council’s call for cooperation that extends even beyond the terms of its additional protocol. The agency has said that its inspectors need greater access to facilities and personnel than is granted by Iran’s additional protocol. Tehran has previously provided some of this cooperation but not enough to resolve some ambiguities surrounding its nuclear program.

In a Sept. 18 statement to the IAEA General Conference, agency Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei said that the agency has accounted for “all the nuclear material declared by Iran” but added that it has not been “able to make progress on resolving” the outstanding questions regarding Iran’s nuclear activities.

This lack of full Iranian cooperation means that the IAEA “cannot make any further progress in its efforts to provide assurances” that Tehran is not pursuing undeclared nuclear activities, ElBaradei said, calling the situation “a matter of serious concern.”

Although Iran has provided the agency with the required access to declared nuclear facilities and materials, it has somewhat hindered the inspectors’ work by, for example, declining to give access to certain records of its operating centrifuge facility. The IAEA inspectors’ decreased access to Iranian nuclear-related facilities in recent months also appears to be impeding the agency’s understanding of several other aspects of Tehran’s centrifuge program. For instance, the agency is unable to monitor Iran’s advanced centrifuge research because the country is no longer granting access to the relevant workshops.

Wayne White, a former top Middle East intelligence analyst at the Department of State, expressed concern in a Sept. 27 interview with Arms Control Today that Tehran could already be taking advantage of the IAEA’s lack of access by moving some, though not all, components related to its nuclear program.

Grappling With Uncertainty

Echoing knowledgeable current and former U.S. officials, Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte told National Public Radio Sept. 1 that U.S. intelligence about Iran is limited, calling the country a “hard target.”

Providing an example of the uncertainty regarding Tehran’s nuclear program, Negroponte said that the United States does not know “whether there’s a secret military program and to what extent that program has made progress.” U.S. officials have previously told Arms Control Today that Iran likely does not have an advanced, secret enrichment program. (See ACT, September 2005.)

White cautioned that the information vacuum could cause analysts to underestimate capabilities, noting that this had happened in the case of Iraq prior to the 1991 Persian Gulf War. By the same token, however, he agreed that the IAEA’s restricted ability to investigate Tehran’s nuclear program could also allow unsubstantiated reports of clandestine Iranian nuclear activities to go unchallenged and influence perceptions that the country is pursuing nuclear weapons.

The departure of UN weapons inspectors from Iraq in 1998 deprived the international community of a critical tool for verifying what later proved to be inaccurate human and technical intelligence reports that Iraq was pursuing a nuclear weapons program. A European diplomat interviewed Sept. 25 argued, however, that the international community had learned a lesson from the Iraq intelligence debacle, describing the ongoing process of evaluating intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program as “rigorous and conservative.”

As was the case prior to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, policymakers have responded differently to the ambiguity surrounding the potential Iranian nuclear threat, with some arguing for caution and others suggesting more vigorous action.

For example, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov argued during a Sept. 11 interview with Vremya Novosti that Tehran may not be pursuing a nuclear weapon, adding that policymakers making “panicky forecasts…would do well to remember about patience which can bring about a negotiated solution.”

On the other hand, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations John Bolton told CNN Sept. 19 that “uncertainty about the exact state of Iran’s nuclear program” warrants treating Tehran’s “clear effort to get a nuclear-weapon capability as very serious.”

Similarly, Robert Joseph, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, argued during a Sept. 6 press briefing that Iran needs to be stopped before it acquires the ability to produce fissile material, rather than an actual nuclear weapon. Asked about possible timelines for Iranian nuclear weapons acquisition, he said that once Tehran is “able to operate….cascades over a sustained period of time,” it will “be able to acquire a nuclear weapon” without being detected.

Disagreement regarding the potential Iranian nuclear threat also manifested itself in a public dispute between the IAEA and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. IAEA officials criticized the panel’s Aug. 23 committee report, which the Democratic committee staff did not endorse, for containing inaccuracies regarding Iran’s nuclear program.

A Sept. 12 letter from IAEA Director of External Relations and Policy Coordination Vilmos Cserveny to committee Chairman Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) points out that the report contains “some erroneous, misleading and unsubstantiated information.” It cites several examples, including a photograph caption that falsely states that Iran is currently producing “weapons grade” enriched uranium.

How Long Until an Iranian Bomb?

In the interview, Negroponte reiterated U.S. estimates that Tehran will have the “capability” to produce a nuclear weapon “five to 10 years from now,” unless circumstances change. A Department of National Intelligence spokesperson said that the intelligence community is evaluating this assessment as part of its work on a new National Intelligence Estimate, Newsweek reported Sept. 25.

By contrast, Israeli government estimates suggest that Iran could master the enrichment process within six to 12 months and produce enough highly enriched uranium (HEU) for a nuclear weapon in as little as three years, according to a knowledgeable Western official.

Asked about differences between the two government’s estimates, Negroponte said that both countries “basically operate from the same knowledge base” but that Israel will “sometimes…give you the worst-case assessment.”

Some U.S. officials have also argued for less-optimistic timelines. For example, Bolton said that the international community should not “assume that the intelligence estimates that put [ Tehran’s ability to acquire nuclear weapons] off for many years are necessarily going to be right.”

Additionally, Joseph told the House International Relations Committee in March that several “wildcards,” including potential assistance from foreign entities, could “accelerate” the intelligence community’s notional timeline.

Modest Progress for Iran, Less for the IAEA

Meanwhile, an Aug. 31 report from ElBaradei indicates that Iran appears to be making modest progress on its enrichment program in defiance of Resolution 1696.

According to the report, Tehran has continued to test centrifuges at its pilot facility by feeding uranium hexafluoride into individual centrifuges “for short periods of time.” Gas centrifuges enrich uranium by spinning uranium hexafluoride gas at very high speeds in order to increase the concentration of the uranium-235 isotope. They can produce low-enriched uranium, which can be used in nuclear reactors, and HEU, which can be used in certain types of nuclear reactors and as fissile material in nuclear weapons.

Iran also tested a 164-centrifuge cascade with uranium hexafluoride at the pilot facility for two days in early June and again between June 23 and July 8. Iran introduced additional feedstock into the cascade on Aug. 24.

Tehran is continuing work on installing a second 164-centrifuge cascade, the report adds. Iran also has told the agency that it expects to be able to run the cascade without uranium hexafluoride in September. ElBaradei has previously reported that Iran is working on a third similarly sized cascade, but the report does not mention it.

All of these cascades are in the pilot centrifuge facility, but Iran is also constructing a larger commercial facility.

Tehran told the agency in June that it has enriched uranium to 5 percent uranium-235. The IAEA is still evaluating this claim. Since then, Iran has produced uranium enriched to “various levels,” the report says. The country had previously tested the cascade in March and April and produced small quantities of uranium enriched to slightly lower levels of uranium-235.

Tehran also began a new “campaign” to convert 160 metric tons of lightly processed uranium ore to uranium hexafluoride, the report says, adding that Iran anticipates completing this task by January 2007. It produced about 26 metric tons of feedstock between June 6 and Aug. 25. During its last conversion campaign, which took place between August 2005 and April of this year, Tehran produced approximately 118 metric tons of the material.

Iran also told the IAEA that it is conducting research on “different types of centrifuge machines,” without using nuclear material. The agency had asked Iran to clarify statements from officials such as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Tehran had been conducting such research. The IAEA has long been concerned that the country, which currently uses P-1 centrifuges, has been conducting research on more-advanced P-2 centrifuges.

Additionally, the agency is asking Iran for information regarding HEU particles discovered when inspectors took environmental samples in August 2005 from a container located at a waste storage facility. The IAEA recently completed its analysis of the particles. According to the report, which does not mention the particles’ enrichment level, the agency has requested Iran to provide information about the “source of the contamination and the past use of the containers.”

The particles raise the possibility that Tehran may have either imported or produced undeclared enriched uranium. Iran has previously admitted that it enriched uranium secretly but only to very low levels.

The IAEA is also still attempting to determine the origin of other HEU particles previously discovered on equipment from an Iranian university but has apparently made no progress. A State Department official told Arms Control Today in June that Tehran probably did not produce that HEU. (See ACT, July/August 2006.)

ElBaradei reported that Iran is continuing work on a reactor moderated by heavy water despite the Security Council’s call for the country to “reconsider” the project.

The reactor has caused concern because weapons-grade plutonium, which is also used as a fissile material in nuclear weapons, can be obtained far more easily by reprocessing the spent reactor fuel from such a reactor than from more proliferation-resistant reactors. Iran has acknowledged conducting undeclared plutonium-separation experiments but says it will not engage in reprocessing.

According to the report, Tehran has recently provided the IAEA with additional information regarding its past plutonium experiments and also allowed inspectors to meet with relevant Iranian officials. These efforts, however, have not resolved the agency’s outstanding questions regarding the experiments.


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)

Anti-Missile System Scores Test Hit

Wade Boese

The Pentagon’s strategic ballistic missile defense intercepted a test target Sept. 1 for the first time since President George W. Bush ordered the rudimentary system deployed nearly four years ago. The success comes on the cusp of a U.S. decision to extend the system to Europe, although nongovernmental missile defense proponents vigorously advocate a different destination: space.

Just hours after the test, Lieutenant General Henry Obering, director of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency (MDA), declared the experiment a “total success” and a “huge step” for advancing missile defenses. He also said the outcome gave him confidence that the system had a “good chance” of destroying a missile in a real attack. Nonetheless, the flight test fell short of resembling a realistic scenario, and in one respect, it was less difficult than past tests.

Still, the experiment involved several firsts. It involved the first launch of an interceptor of the same make as the 11 currently deployed at Fort Greely, Alaska, and the two stationed at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. In another departure, both the test interceptor and target missile were launched from new locations.

The test interceptor was launched from Vandenberg. Prior testing involved firing the interceptor from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The target missile was launched from Kodiak, Alaska, rather than Vandenberg in order to generate a different trajectory.

Instead of shooting the target missile west over the Pacific Ocean toward Hawaii, the new launch point enabled MDA to fire the target south. That allowed the target missile’s flight to more closely resemble the path that a North Korean missile might take. For some time, the Pentagon has postulated that North Korea represents one of the key near-term threats that the rudimentary defense must be prepared to stop. That premise only appears to have been reinforced after Pyongyang in July conducted a partly successful spate of missile tests, even though the longest-range system failed shortly after takeoff. (See ACT, September 2006. )

In the Sept. 1 flight test, an early-warning satellite detected the target missile’s launch and relayed coordinates to the ground-based midcourse (GMD) system’s fire control center at Colorado Springs, which cued an early-warning radar located at Beale Air Force Base, California, to start tracking the target. Once the radar started tracking the missile, trajectory data was sent back to Colorado Springs, where a “firing solution” was formulated and then electronically fed into the test interceptor at Vandenberg.

The interceptor blasted out of its silo roughly 16 minutes after the target’s launch. After the interceptor’s final booster rocket burned out, it released an exoatmospheric kill vehicle (EKV) in space. This roughly 60-kilogram mass of sensors then received a target update from Colorado Springs and maneuvered into a collision with the mock warhead from the target missile. The collision occurred approximately six and one-half minutes after the interceptor’s launch.

“What we saw today was a very realistic trajectory for the threat…and a very realistic trajectory, a very realistic intercept altitude, and intercept speeds for the…interceptor against the target,” Obering told reporters afterward. In addition, the system’s fire control center was manned by an actual crew of the 100th Missile Defense Brigade, instead of private contractors. Obering concluded that “this is about as close as we can come to an end-to-end test of our long-range missile defense system.”

Still, key elements of the system did not participate in the test. Although tested separately on other occasions, the Cobra Dane radar located at the western tip of the Aleutian Islands could not be used because it is permanently oriented away from the recent experiment’s location. Cobra Dane would be the primary radar for relaying early tracking data on a missile fired at the United States from the direction of Asia.

Another sensor, the sea-based X-band radar, also did not contribute tracking data for the intercept, although MDA reported it operated in a “shadow mode.” The radar is supposed to help the system discriminate between an enemy warhead and any decoys that might accompany it.

Previous systems involved up to three decoys with a mock warhead, but the latest test had none. Roughly one-third of the Sept. 1 EKV’s software and hardware were different from those of previously tested models, so the test scenario was simplified to check if the revamped EKV could perform its basic functions. Indeed, MDA did not officially characterize the test as an intercept attempt, but as a data collection flight test.

A former director of the Pentagon’s independent weapons testing office, Philip Coyle, wrote a Sept. 11 commentary for Neiman Watchdog, a Harvard University online journalism publication, calling the latest test “the simplest flight intercept test ever” because of the lack of decoys. Many scientific critics of the Pentagon’s strategic missile defense say that adversaries will be able to use decoys and other countermeasures to thwart the system.

Obering said he was “confident” that the system could “handle simple countermeasures” and that future tests of the system will add them. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld also said in a Sept. 1 statement that the tests will become “more challenging.” Neither specified whether the next intercept test scheduled tentatively for December will involve decoys.

All told, the GMD system has achieved six hits in 11 tests involving targets. Prior to the latest trial, the defense had not scored a successful intercept since October 2002.

Following a December 2002 miss, the system went into a testing hiatus as the Pentagon concentrated on fielding interceptors to comply with Bush’s order that month to deploy an initial system in 2004. (See ACT, January/February 2003. ) MDA resumed testing in December 2004, but technical malfunctions caused the first two attempts to be aborted before the interceptor launched.

This meager testing record was becoming a source of discontent for some lawmakers. Seven Democratic members of Congress, including the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, Ike Skelton ( Mo.), sent Rumsfeld a letter Aug. 29 pressing for more realistic testing. Similarly, the Senate Appropriations Committee also contended in July that MDA was devoting too many resources to researching futuristic concepts instead of focusing on “adequate testing and fielding of currently available technology.”

Obering told Arms Control Today Sept. 15 that the Pentagon “will continue to request funding that is adequate for both near-term and future missile defense technology development and deployment efforts.” He described both as “essential for current and future national security needs.”

One deployment option that MDA is preparing to embark on is to Europe. The Bush administration contends that Europe-based interceptors are needed to counter a growing Iranian ballistic missile threat. Tehran’s longest-range missile, the Shahab-3, can reach as far as Turkey.

Washington has approached the Czech Republic and Poland about hosting the site, but no agreement has yet been reached. During a visit to Washington, Polish Defense Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said Sept. 13 Poland would want some additional bilateral security arrangements with Washington in return for hosting interceptors.

U.S. lawmakers have not fully embraced the European deployment plan. The House earlier completely eliminated the $119 million requested for the site by the Bush administration as part of the fiscal year 2007 budget, while the Senate fully funded it. In a Sept. 22 compromise, the two chambers agreed to provide $32.8 million for the site and $63 million to begin work on the base’s proposed 10 interceptors, which lawmakers also said could be deployed elsewhere. This amounts to a $23 million cut from the original request.

Meanwhile, a group of nongovernmental missile defense advocates called the Independent Working Group on Missile Defense, the Space Relationship, and the 21st Century is urging limited deployments of ground-based systems and more work toward stationing interceptors in orbit. The group includes Ambassador Henry Cooper, who headed a predecessor organization to MDA that, during the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, focused on developing space-based systems to protect against a presumed onslaught of Soviet ICBMs.

In a report released this summer, the group argued that the Bush administration’s system “provides extremely limited coverage” and leaves unaddressed potential threats from “strategic competitors such as Russia and China,” as well as from surprise missile launches by ships off U.S. coasts. As a remedy, the group advocates the deployment of up to 1,000 space-based interceptors beginning with an initial capability in 2010. Testing of space-based interceptors, they recommend, should start in three years.

MDA has plans to explore placing interceptors in orbit, but at a much slower pace and smaller scale than proposed by the nongovernmental group. The agency intends to start requesting funding in next year’s budget for establishing a “test-bed” around 2012 of less than a “handful” of interceptors, Obering told Arms Control Today last year. (See ACT, November 2005. )

On Sept. 15, Obering told Arms Control Today that MDA still has “plans to conduct technical demonstrations to determine the technical viability of space-based defenses.” But he also noted that space-based missile defenses require “a significant policy debate.”

China and Russia for the past several years have sought to block U.S. missile defense plans for space by getting the 65-member Conference on Disarmament to negotiate an agreement on the prevention of an arms race in outer space. But the conference operates by consensus, and the United States has consistently opposed the Chinese and Russian initiative, arguing that there is no arms race in space. The conference ended its 2006 session Sept. 15 without having started any negotiations, including on the outer space issue.



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.


Global Arms Exports Continued Upswing in 2005

Wade Boese

Government reports volunteered to the United Nations reveal that 2005 marked the highest volume of major conventional weapons exports in more than a dozen years. Yet, the figures, like those in previous years, do not take into account some arms transfers, a shortcoming that a UN-commissioned group of experts has proposed to rectify.

Beginning in 1992, the UN has urged all countries to provide annually to its Register of Conventional Arms data on their previous year’s exports and imports of tanks, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), large-caliber artillery, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, and missiles and missile launchers. The purpose of such voluntary reporting is to help identify when countries are making weapons purchases that might pose threats to their neighbors or regional stability.

In a foreword to this year’s experts report to the General Assembly, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan praised the register as playing a “valuable role” in discouraging “excessive and destabilizing” arms accumulations. Argentine Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Roberto García Moritán, who chaired the 20-member experts group, extolled the register Aug. 23 as “an effective instrument to promote understanding between states and prevent surprises.”

Still, register submissions for 2005 reveal a robust global arms market. Indeed, the 28 countries claiming exports last year reported 11,987 cumulative weapons deliveries, one of the highest totals in the register’s history.

Atypically large exports by Turkey and Israel contributed to the abnormally high tally. Turkey reported exporting 3,040 122-millimeter rocket systems to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Israel shipped 2,422 81-millimeter mortars to Brazil.

Even if the Turkish and Israeli exports, as well as a Bulgarian transfer of 547 man-portable missile launchers to the United States for destruction, are excluded, the 2005 weapons export total stands as the highest mark in five years.

This wholly quantitative assessment of exports, however, offers an imperfect measure of the character and scale of worldwide arms deliveries by counting one mortar or missile the same as one tank, combat aircraft, or warship. In addition, such summations cannot provide insight into possible transactions rejected by arms suppliers. Nevertheless, raw numbers remain useful indicators of arms market trends and the most active weapons exporters and importers.

Foremost among the world’s arms suppliers, the United States carried out 160 more weapons exports than it did in 2004. All told, Washington sent 1,724 arms exports to 21 countries and Taiwan. Almost half of the U.S. deliveries (850 exports) were missiles and missile launchers. Washington also did brisk business in ACVs (511) and combat aircraft (98), including supplying the UAE with three dozen F-16E/Fs and Israel with 22 F-16Ds.

Russia, the chief competitor to the United States in arms deliveries, trailed by nearly 1,000 exports last year. Moscow shipped 744 weapons to 13 customers, including 12 attack helicopters to Sudan. Recent reports, including a Sept. 9 article in The Washington Post, have described a fresh round of Sudanese government helicopter attacks against villages in the war-torn Darfur region.

Moscow’s primary customers remain China and India, which together accounted for nearly two-thirds of Russia’s 2005 arms exports. India obtained two Russian combat aircraft and 273 missiles, while China acquired 196 Russian-made missiles. The United States is attempting to court India with new fighter jet sales and other military hardware.

Ukraine has emerged as a rising weapons supplier with 649 exports in 2005, up from 349 in 2004. Ukraine appears to be making some headway in challenging Russia for the arms business of former Soviet states and clients. Kiev transferred 192 weapons to countries of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc in comparison to 45 deliveries by Russia. Ukraine also made inroads into the traditionally Russian market of China with shipments of 363 air-to-air missiles to Beijing.

China halted its register participation in 1998 to protest the U.S. practice of reporting on U.S. arms transfers to Taiwan. Chinese officials contended the U.S. reporting helped burnish the international stature of Taiwan, which Beijing views as a renegade island that should be under the mainland’s control.

Aiming to facilitate China’s return to the register, the 2006 experts group, which included Department of State official William Malzahn, recommended that register reports should only include data on arms trade between UN member states, which Taiwan is not. This recommendation, as well as others made by the group, was reached by consensus and therefore has the endorsement of the United States. It must be approved by the UN General Assembly to take effect. Washington still plans to report publicly on its arms exports to Taiwan separate from the register.

The experts group, the sixth to assess the register’s operation, made other proposals aimed at augmenting reporting. Seeking to capture more naval arms trade, the experts called for lowering the warship reporting threshold from 750 metric tons to 500 metric tons. Most experts supported cutting the threshold further, but the Chinese government expert objected.

Consensus also could not be reached on expanding reporting to cover some other military systems, such as bridge-laying vehicles and troop transport and aerial-refueling planes.

The experts did agree on a standard reporting form for countries to volunteer information on their trade in small arms and light weapons, which are not covered by the register. Although a 2003 group of experts encouraged countries to report on such trade, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, and the United Kingdom were the only ones to do so for 2005.

By adopting a standard reporting form on small arms and light weapons, the experts hope to entice greater participation by countries, particularly in Africa, that have shunned the register because of charges that it neglects the predominant arms affecting their security. Small arms and light weapons range from pistols to machine guns to anti-tank missiles.

Even if governments do not carry out weapons transactions within the register’s categories, the UN urges capitals to make reports. As of mid-September, 68 of the 112 governments that have filed 2005 reports noted they had no exports or imports.

Although between 60 and 90 governments, including many prolific arms buyers in the Middle East, do not participate in the register in any given year, most key arms exporters submit annual reports. Malzahn asserted in an Aug. 23 speech that the register “has captured the vast majority” of the global weapons trade covered by its reporting categories. “By any measure, the register has been a resounding success, establishing a global norm of transparency and accountability in military matters and reinforcing civilian control of the military,” Malzahn stated.




On page 41 of Arms Control Today’s September 2006 issue, Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) should have been identified as Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee.



October 2006 Bibliography

Of Special Interest

Allison, Graham, Ed., “Confronting the Specter of Nuclear Terrorism,” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 607, No. 1, September 2006, 202 pp.

International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Landmine Monitor Report 2006, September 2006, 1,230 pp.

International Panel on Fissile Materials, Global Fissile Material Report 2006, September 25, 2006, 99 pp.

Pearson, Graham S., Nicholas A. Sims, and Malcolm R. Dando, Eds., Strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention: Key Points for the Sixth Review Conference, Department of Peace Studies, University of Bradford, September 2006, 281 pp.

I. Strategic Arms

Associated Press, “Chirac says French Nuclear Deterrent Must Adapt to Changing Threats,” September 7, 2006.

British American Security Information Council, Does Britain Need to Replace Trident: You Decide, September 2006, 4 pp.

Fleck, John, “Official Urges Nuke Work,” Albuquerque Journal, September 4, 2006, p. D4.

The Moscow Times, “Nuclear Arsenal Will Be Upgraded by 2009,” September 7, 2006, p. 4.

Taverna, Michael A., “Missile Gap: Upcoming M51 Ballistic Missile Firing Buoys French Nuclear Plans, Despite Cruise Missile Delays,” Aviation Week & Space Technology, September 25, 2006, p. 42.

II. Nuclear Proliferation

Associated Press, “ Egypt to Start Building Nuclear Power Plants Soon, Minister Says,” September 24, 2006.

Elliott, Geoff, “Threat Remains of a Nuclear Terror Strike,” The Australian, September 11, 2006.

Ezigbo, Onyebuchi, “ Nigeria Affirms Interest for Nuclear Technology,” Nigeria This Day, September 25, 2006.

Ferguson, Charles D. and Potter, William C., “Lining Up to Enrich Uranium,” International Herald Tribune, September 12, 2006.

Handelman, Stephen, “World’s Nuclear Haves and Have-Nots Beginning to Play ‘Let’s Break a Deal,’” The Globe and Mail, September 28, 2006.

Hedges, Stephen J., “Civilian Nuclear Power Effort Widens: Critics Say U.S. Global Plan Could Increase Weapons Proliferation,” Chicago Tribune, September 4, 2006.

Johnson, Tim, “Anxiety Chipping Away at Japan’s Nuclear Taboo,” The Mercury News, September 18, 2006.

Kaplan, Eben, “The Legacy of A. Q. Khan,” Council on Foreign Relations, September 5, 2006.

Katsuta, Tadahiro, and Tatsujiro Suzuki, Japan’s Spent Fuel and Plutonium Management Challenges, International Panel on Fissile Materials, September 2006, 33 pp.

Keinon, Herb and Associated Press, “Olmert Unfazed by Egypt’s Plan to Build Nuclear Plants,” The Jerusalem Post, September 25, 2006.

Laufer, Michael, A. Q. Khan Nuclear Chronology, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Issue Brief, September 7, 2006, 10 pp.

Lyman, Edwin S., The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership: Will It Advance Nonproliferation or Undermine It?, The Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, September 7, 2006, 8 pp.

Schlesinger, David and Rhoads, Brian, “Interview: China’s Wen Resists Sanctions Against Iran, N. Korea,” Reuters, September 5, 2006.

Slackman, Michael and Mona El-Naggar, “Mubarak’s Son Proposes Nuclear Program,” The New York Times, September 20, 2006, p. A14.

Suter, Keith, “Islam’s Strangelove Leaves Deadly Fallout,” The Daily Telegraph, September 4, 2006.

The Times of India , “A. Q. Khan Network Still Alive: U.S. Think Tank,” September 8, 2006.


DeSutter, Paula, “The Administration’s Perspective on China’s Record on Nonproliferation,” September 14, 2006.


Associated Press, “Report: India Disproves Capping of its Nuclear Fissile Material Production,” September 8, 2006.

Ferguson, Charles D., “Security is Vital in U.S.-India Nuke Deal,” The Christian Science Monitor, September 19, 2006.

Giacomo, Carol, “Senators Trade Blame over India Deal Delay,” Reuters, September 26, 2006.

Hartcher, Peter, “India Forces PM’s Hand on Uranium,” The Sydney Morning Herald, September 25, 2006.

Hibbs, Mark, “IAEA Governors Opposing Unique Safeguards Protocol for India,” Nucleonics Week, Vol. 47, No. 39, September 28, 2006, p. 1.

Mian, Zia, A.H. Nayyar, R. Rajaraman, and M.V. Ramana, Fissile Materials in South Asia: The Implications of the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal, International Panel on Fissile Materials, September 2006, 40 pp.

Sokolski, Henry, “ New Delhi’s message to Washington: Drop Dead,” The Weekly Standard, September 6, 2006.

Subramanian, T.S. and Menon, Kesava, “The Goalposts Haven’t Been Shifted and They Will Not be Shifted,” The Hindu, September 30, 2006.


Agence France-Presse, “Chirac Urges World Powers Not to Refer Iran to Security Council,” September 18, 2006.

Arnold, Martin and Dombey, Daniel, “Chirac Backs UN Compromise on Iran,” Financial Times, September 18, 2006.

Associated Press, “Iran-EU Nuclear Talks to Resume in Germany,” September 27, 2006.

Carpenter, Ted Galen, Iran’s Nuclear Program; America’s Policy Options, CATO Institute Policy Analysis, September 20, 2006, 19 pp.

Center for Strategic and International Studies, Judging the Iranian Threat: 20 Questions We Need to Answer, September 19, 2006, 12 pp.

Charbonneau, Louis, “EU, Iran Plan More Nuclear Talks, No Deal Reached,” Reuters, September 28, 2006.

Der Spiegel, “ Iran’s Atomic Ambitions: IAEA Fears the ‘Iraq Scenario’ in Nuclear Dispute with Tehran,” September 20, 2006.

Duffy, Michael, “What Would War Look Like?” Time, September 25, 2006.

Eisenstadt, Michael, Iran: The Complex Calculus of Preventive Military Action, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, September 25, 2006.

Giacomo, Carol, “Major Powers Mull Meeting to Break Logjam with Iran,” Reuters, September 16, 2006.

Ignatius, David, “ Iran Ready for a Test of Wills,” The Washington Post, September 1, 2006, p. A21.

Igantius, David, “Bush’s Message to Iran,” The Washington Post, September 15, 2006, p. A19.

Jahn, George, “ U.S. Officials Press for Iran Sanctions Ahead of Last-Ditch Nuclear Meeting,” Associated Press, September 6, 2006.

Karon, Tony, “Why Iran Has the Upper Hand in the Nuclear Showdown,” Time, September 7, 2006.

Katz, Yaakov, “IDF Tackling Iran’s WMD Threat,” The Jerusalem Post, September 19, 2006.

Krauthammer, Charles, “The Tehran Calculus,” The Washington Post, September 15, 2006, p. A19.

Linzer, Dafna, “UN Inspectors Dispute Iran Report by House Panel,” The Washington Post, September 14, 2006, p. A17.

Murphy, Francois, “ France Confirms Iran Said It May Suspend Enrichment,” Reuters, September 15, 2006.

Newsweek, “How Close is Iran to Having Nuclear Weapons?” September 25, 2006.

Perkovich, George, Defining Iran’s Nuclear Rights, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Proliferation Analysis, September 7, 2006.

Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Recognizing Iran as a Strategic Threat: An Intelligence Challenge for the United States, House of Representatives, August 23, 2006, 29 pp.

Ramberg, Bennett, “Bomb Tehran Today or Be Bombed Tomorrow?” San Francisco Chronicle, September 6, 2006. p. B11.

Reuters, “EU’s Solana Cites Progress in Iran Nuclear Talks,” September 15, 2006.

Reuters, “U.S. Bars Iranian Bank’s Access to System,” September 9, 2006.

Rubin, Alissa J. and Farley, Maggie, “UN Nuclear Agency Faults Iran,” Los Angeles Times, September 1, 2006.

Sciolino, Elaine, “Highly Enriched Uranium Found at Iranian Plant,” The New York Times, September 1, 2006, p. A10.

Shire, Jacqueline and Albright, David, Iran’s NPT Violations: Numerous and Possibly Ongoing?, The Institute for Science and International Security, September 29, 2006, 5 pp.

Shire, Jacqueline and Albright, David, Iran’s Response to the EU: Confused but Sporadically Hopeful, The Institute for Science and International Security, September 11, 2006, 4 pp.

Slavin, Barbara, “ U.S., Iran Share Interests in Iraq, Khatami Says,” USA Today, September 4, 2006.

Strobel, Warren P. and Walcott, John, “ Iran Debate Echoes Prelude to Iraq,” The Miami Herald, September 18, 2006.

Takeyh, Ray, “The Rising Might of the Middle East Super Power,” Financial Times, September 11, 2006, p. 12.

Wright, Robin, “Khatami Arrives As U.S. Weighs Sanctions on Iran,” The Washington Post, September 5, 2006, p. A16.


Reuters, “West Blocks Arab Bid to Rap Israel over Nuclear Issue at IAEA Meeting,” September 24, 2006.

North Korea

Associated Press, “ Australia Imposes N. Korea Sanctions,” September 19, 2006.

Gregg, Donald and Oberdorfer, Don, “Wrong Path on North Korea,” The Washington Post, September 6, 2006, p. A15.

Inagaki, Kana, “ Japan, Australia OK N. Korea Sanctions,” Associated Press, September 19, 2006.

Kyodo News Agency, “ Japan Announces Sanctions Against North Korea,” September 19, 2006.

Kyodo News Agency, “Kyodo Carries ‘Gist’ of Japan’s Financial Sanctions Against North Korea,” September 19, 2006.

Kyodo News Agency, “China Opposes Japan’s New Sanctions on North Korea,” September 19, 2006.

Parameswaran, P., “Arms Race, Trade Tensions Would Follow a North Korean Nuke Test: Report,” Agence France-Presse, September 3, 2006.

Pinkston, Daniel, “ North Korea’s Foreign Policy Toward the United States,” Strategic Insights, September 2006, 7 pp.

Yonhap News Agency, “ U.S. Nuclear Envoy Hill Could Visit Pyongyang if N. Korea Concedes,” September 21, 2006.

Yonhap News Agency, “ South Korea Denies President Roh Urged US to Defer North Sanctions,” September 19, 2006.

Yonhap News Agency, “ N. Korea Continues to Mention Willingness to Resume Six-Party Talks,” September 18, 2006.


Braun, Chaim, Security Issues Related to Future Pakistan Nuclear Power Program, The Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, September 14, 2006, 48 pp.

III. Nonproliferation

Aloise, Gene, Nuclear Nonproliferation: IAEA Safeguards and Other Measures to Halt the Spread of Nuclear Weapons and Material, Government Accountability Office, September 26, 2006, 32 pp.

Burroughs, John, Fulfilling the NPT Bargain for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation: Next Steps, Middle Powers Initiative Briefing Paper, September 2006, 20 pp.

Costa, Keith J., “ U.S., Russian Officials Sign Liability Protocol for Plutonium Disposition,” Inside Missile Defense, September 27, 2006, p. 5.

Gormley, Dennis M., “Securing Nuclear Obsolescence,” Survival, Vol. 48. No. 3, Autumn 2006, p. 127.

Government Accountability Office, Combating Nuclear Terrorism: Federal Efforts to Respond to Nuclear and Radiological Threats and to Protect Emergency Response Capabilities Could Be Strengthened, September 2006, 39 pp.

Hebert, H. Josef, “ U.S., Russia Resolve Plutonium Dispute,” Associated Press, September 15, 2006.

Hundman, Eric, The Global Threat Reduction Initiative’s First Two Years, Center for Defense Information, September 6, 2006, 3 pp.

Interfax, “Duma Ratifies International Convention for the Suppression of Nuclear Terrorism,” September 15, 2006.

MacLachlan, Ann, “IAEA to Mull Supply Strategies, but Third World Remains Wary,” Nucleonics Week, Vol. 47, No. 39, September 28, 2006, p. 10.

Parrish, Scott and Potter, William, United States Seeks to Block Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, Center for Nonproliferation Studies, September 5, 2006, 9 pp.

Steen, Michael, “ Central Asia Declares Nuclear Free Zone,” Reuters, September 8, 2006.

Weir, Fred and Mark Clayton, “US-Russia Effort to Contain Nuclear Experts Fades,” The Christian Science Monitor, September 20, 2006, p. 1.

IV. Missiles and Missile Defense

Associated Press, “Czech Foreign Minister Supports U.S. Missile Defense Base in His Country,” September 6, 2006.

Babbin, Jed, “Reagan’s Vision, Rumsfeld’s Legacy,” The American Spectator, September 5, 2006.

Billingslea, Marshall, “Shielding The Allies,” The Wall Street Journal, September 18, 2006, p. 15.

Coyle, Philip, “What About the Most Recent Missile Defense Test?” Neiman Watchdog, September 11, 2006.

Gertz, Bill, “ U.S. Succeeds in Missile Defense Test,” The Washington Times, September 2, 2006, p. 1.

Herskovitz, Jon, “ North Korea Finds Market for Missiles Shrinking,” Reuters, September, 3, 2006.

Liang, John, “Despite DOD Warnings of Delays, Conferees Lower European Missile Defense Site Funding by $20 Million,” Inside Missile Defense, September 27, 2006, p. 27.

Liang, John, “Fallon: North Korean Missile Test Highlights Small Reaction Time,” Inside Missile Defense, September 27, 2006, p. 3.

Muradian, Vago, “ Russia Resists Polish Missile Defense Role,” Defense News, September 25, 2006, p. 26.

Pons, Sophie, “Czech Gov’t Under Fire Over US Missile Plans,” Agence France-Presse, September 9, 2006.

Scott, Richard, “Test Firing Boosts USN’s SLIRBM,” Jane’s Navy International, September 2006, p. 10.

Sieff, Martin, “Is Ballistic Missile Defense Worth the Money?” United Press International, September 28, 2006.

Spiegel, Peter, “ North Korea’s Strike Range Cast in Doubt,” Los Angeles Times, September 23, 2006.

Talbot, David, “Missile Defense: Hit or Miss?” Technology Review, September 14, 2006.

Wall, Robert, “Designing Defenses: SAIC is Chosen to Develop the International Alliance’s Missile Defense System,” Aviation Week & Space Technology, September 25, 2006, p. 42.

Wolf, Jim, “ Poland Wants US Pact in Exchange for Missile Silos,” Reuters, September 13, 2006.

V. Chemical and Biological Arms

Grossman-Vermaas, Rita, Brian Finlay, and Elizabeth Turpen, Regulating Access to and Control of Dangerous Pathogens: Implications for the Pharmaceutical Industry, The Henry L. Stimson Center, September 2006, 40 pp.

Litovkin, Viktor, “Moving Away from Chemical Warfare: Third Step,” RIA Novosti, September 8, 2006.

Schneidmiller, Chris, “ Researchers Seek to Counteract Bioengineered Anthrax,”Global Security Newswire, September 5, 2006.

Wolf, Jim, “US faults China on germ weapons, Iran, North Korea,” Reuters, September 14, 2006.

VI. Conventional Arms

Ghattas, Sam F., “ Syria Pledges to Halt Weapons; Will Reinforce Boarder Patrols,” The Washington Times, September 2, 2006, p. A1.

Helly, Damien and Isbister, Roy, “Strengthening European Support for an Arms Trade Treaty,” European Security Review, September 2006, 5 pp.

Hirschman, Dave, “A Raptor for U.S. Allies?” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, September 5, 2006, p. C1.

Karniol, Robert, “ Ukraine Sells Kolchuga to Iran,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, September 27, 2006, p. 6.

Klug, Foster, “ U.S. Criticizes China Arms Sales,” Associated Press, September 15, 2006.

Murphy, James, “The Rise and Rise of Rosoboronexport,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, September 27, 2006, p. 32.

Reuters, “ Russia Accuses NATO Nations of Arms Sales to Georgia,” September 29, 2006.

Shadid, Anthony, “In Lebanon, a War’s Lethal Harvest: Threat of Unexploded Bombs Paralyze the South,” The Washington Post, Sept. 26, 2006, p. 1.

Tutu, Desmond, “The Modern Successor to the Slave Trade; No Longer Should the Peace Business be Undermined by the Arms Business,” The Independent, September 13, 2006, p. 29.

VII. U.S. Policy

Belasco, Amy, The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11,” Congressional Research Service, September 22, 2006, 40 pp.

Haass, Richard N., “Speaking with the Enemy,” Los Angeles Times, September 23, 2006.

Ikenberry, G. John, and Slaughter, Anne-Marie, Eds., Forging a World of Liberty Under Law: U.S. National Security in the 21 st Century, The Princeton Project on National Security, September 27, 2006, 96 pp.

Wright, Robin, “War Backfiring on U.S., Khatami Says,” The Washington Post, September 6, 2006, p. A6.

VIII. Space

Hillery, John, U.S. Satellite Export Control Policy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, September 20, 2006, 2 pp.

Huck, Peter, “The Race of the Space Warriors,” The New Zealand Herald, September 23, 2006.

Muradian, Vago, “ China Tried to Blind U.S. Sats with Laser,” Defense News, September 25, 2006, p. 1.

IX. Other

Cordesman, Anthony H. and Kleiber, Martin, Chinese Military Modernization and Force Development, Center for Strategic and International Studies, September 7, 2006, 118 pp.

Government Accountability Office, Nuclear Energy: Status of DOE’s Effort to Develop the Next Generation Nuclear Plant, September 2006, 34 pp.

Kosachev, Konstantin, “Role of Russian Peacekeepers in Georgia, Moldova Explained, Justified,” Nezavisimaya Gazeta, September 27, 2006.

Rifkin, Jeremy, “Nuclear Energy: Still a Bad Idea,” Los Angeles Times, September 29, 2006.


Editor's Note

Miles A. Pomper

The fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks is a reminder of the dangers of a terrorist using chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons and the need to take all steps to prevent such an attack. But what if, despite our best efforts, such an attack took place? Would we be able to identify who did it and from where they obtained the fissile material or nuclear weapon itself?

In our cover story this month, William Dunlop and Harold Smith call for the United States to work with Russia on developing joint forensic teams to identify the perpetrators properly and inform the global response to such a catastrophe.

Biological weapons have usually been considered too technically complex for terrorists or lone hackers to develop or use. But Christopher F. Chyba writes that manipulations or synthesis of DNA will be increasingly available to the technically competent if they choose to make use of it. Chyba says that arms control efforts must catch up to these rapid technological changes.

The major forum for addressing these and other biological weapons challenges is the once-every-five-years Biological Weapons Convention review conference. In 2001 the event ended in acrimony. John Borrie writes that since then, a modest work program has helped to rebuild a measure of confidence in the BWC process. He says that, at this year’s review conference, states-parties may be able to move forward on improving practical implementation of BWC provisions but that these efforts may be too little, too late.

The job of curbing biological, chemical, and nuclear threats is one of the most important responsibilities of the president of the United States. In our book review this month, Spurgeon M. Keeny Jr. critiques a new history that examines how each of the U.S. presidents since World War II managed and shaped U.S. nuclear weapons and arms control policy.

Our news section includes articles looking at the gaps in intelligence information behind the current debate on Iran’s nuclear program, the controversy over Israel’s use of cluster munitions, and the surprising tensions over the signing of a treaty creating a Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone.


Fingers on the Nuclear Trigger

At the Borderline of Armageddon: How American Presidents Managed the Atom Bomb. By James E. Goody

Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr.

At last, a well-written, objective account of the evolution of U.S. nuclear weapons policy and efforts at nuclear arms control from the beginning of the nuclear age to the dangerous situation we face today. In At the Borderline of Armageddon, James Goodby examines how each U.S. president since World War II has sought to manage the atomic bomb.

U.S. presidents have had no illusions about the catastrophic consequences of nuclear war. Despite great differences in personality and the challenges they faced, all presidents have come to understand that such a conflict, in the words of President Ronald Reagan, “cannot be won and must never be fought.” Although public formulations of nuclear policy have at times appeared to preserve nuclear options in certain circumstances, presidents have been very careful to step back from the borderline of Armageddon.

Goodby presents this historical review essentially as a series of case studies examining the role of each president in turn rather than the evolution of separate policy issues. This provides the reader with material to assess and compare the overall contribution of each president.

The book challenged me to review my own experiences, which somewhat parallel Goodby’s. Although prepared to be critical, I found myself in almost complete agreement with his treatment of the complex history of the period and his commentary on events and personalities.

Presidents and Precedents

President Franklin D. Roosevelt initiated the nuclear age when he authorized the Manhattan Project, but President Harry Truman took the decisive steps when he authorized the use of nuclear weapons against Japan and subsequently approved the then-controversial hydrogen bomb project. Goodby correctly emphasizes, however, that Truman also established numerous wise precedents for the control of nuclear weapons.

These precedents included civilian control of atomic energy, presidential control of nuclear weapons, and a rejection of preventive war, as well as attempts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and bring them under international control. He also showed a willingness to negotiate with adversaries.

At the time that the United States was the sole possessor of nuclear weapons, Truman proposed a universal ban on nuclear weapons with international controls under the United Nations. He unambiguously established the primacy of the president in controlling these arms when, during the Korean War, he cashiered General Douglas MacArthur, who wanted a free hand against China, including possibly using nuclear weapons. Truman’s legacy was a remarkable record for a simple man thrust by fate into the world’s most powerful position.

In contrast to Truman, former General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had led Allied forces in World War II, came to the presidency well qualified to tackle the nuclear threat. In the wake of the testing of multi-megaton thermonuclear weapons, he concluded that there could be no winners in a nuclear war. With the growth of Soviet nuclear capabilities, however, he was under increasing military and political pressure to react. These pressures were epitomized by the 1957 Gaither Report, whose recommendations, Goodby correctly reports, Eisenhower angrily rejected.

As the Department of Defense staff representative on the study, I agreed with Eisenhower’s conclusion that the United States would become a “garrison state” if it implemented all of the recommendations, which included, among other things, a call for nationwide fallout and blast shelters and a crash buildup of strategic offensive and defensive weapon systems.

Testing Times and Test Bans

Despite pressures for a military buildup and the public shock over the 1957 Soviet launch of the Sputnik satellite, which was seen as a proxy for a long-range ballistic missile capability, Eisenhower took the initiative in proposing a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty (CTBT) with the now increasingly feared Soviet adversary. As Goodby correctly points out, Eisenhower’s military credentials allowed him to propose arms control negotiations and thus helped establish another useful precedent for future commanders-in-chief.

As technical assistant to Eisenhower’s first science adviser, James Killian, I was at the center of the preparations and subsequent negotiations with the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom for a CTBT. At the time, Eisenhower appeared to be acting almost alone, with little visible support within his administration in the face of intense opposition from the military, the weapons laboratories, and Congress. Goodby reports that Secretary of State John Foster Dulles supported Eisenhower in the initiative, but that only became public decades later with the release of a classified memorandum. Despite concerted efforts to sabotage the negotiations by U.S. opponents, much progress was made until late in Eisenhower’s administration when President Nikita Khrushchev withdrew from the negotiations after the shooting down of a U-2 spy plane over Sverdlovsk.

President John F. Kennedy, of course, deserves great credit for his personal role in the Cuban missile crisis, which demonstrated the critical importance a president can and must play in avoiding Armageddon. Nevertheless, Kennedy was handicapped by his emphasis during the election campaign on the so-called missile gap. In reality, this gap did not exist, but the belief that it did resulted in a massive ballistic missile buildup.

Still, Kennedy resumed the test ban negotiations, which soon bogged down on the issue of the number of permitted inspections of seismic events that might have been caused by underground nuclear tests. The United States eventually called for seven or eight, while the Soviets offered two or three. My boss, Jerry Wiesner, attempted unsuccessfully to persuade Kennedy and the Soviets to split the difference and propose five inspections, but there were no takers. I thought at the time and still believe that Kennedy did not really want a comprehensive test ban agreement because it had little chance of ratification in the face of rabid military, weapons laboratory, and congressional opposition. I suspect the same was true for Khrushchev, who was facing increasing domestic problems.

The 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty, which ruled out nuclear testing in space, the atmosphere, and underwater, still permitted underground tests as a mutually convenient way to resolve the diplomatic stalemate. I believe Goodby is overly generous in the high marks he gives Kennedy for this treaty. The agreement did reassure world opinion of improved U.S.-Soviet relations after the Cuban missile crisis. It also put an end to atmospheric testing, which had resulted in extremely high-yield Soviet atmospheric tests with significant worldwide fallout as well as high-altitude U.S. tests that produced alarming effects on satellites, which Goodby fails to note. Fundamentally, however, the Limited Test Ban Treaty simply drove testing underground where many more tests were conducted than before the treaty took effect. It also helped delay the negotiation of a comprehensive test ban treaty for more than 30 years.

President Lyndon B. Johnson, despite his growing preoccupation with Vietnam, rejected out of hand the use of nuclear weapons there. His view of nuclear war was brought home to me by his reaction at the final meeting in 1965 on the military budget to an item listed as DUCCS. In response to his question as to what this was, he was told it stood for Deep Underground Command and Control Site, a facility that would be located several thousand feet underground, between the White House and the Pentagon, designed to survive a ground burst of a 20-megaton bomb and sustain the president and key advisers for several months until it would be safe to exit through tunnels emerging many miles outside Washington. After a brief puzzled expression, Johnson let loose with a string of Johnsonian expletives making clear he thought this was the stupidest idea he had ever heard and that he had no intention of hiding in an expensive hole while the rest of Washington and probably the United States were burned to a crisp. That was the last I ever heard of DUCCS.

Nonproliferation and Arms Control

One of the few key activities Goodby fails to mention was the Gilpatric Committee, which in early 1966 reported to Johnson on nuclear proliferation. The committee’s membership included Chairman Roswell Gilpatric, formerly Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara’s deputy, and eight former senior government officials who were united in their recommendation for prompt action to contain nuclear proliferation and their support for the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), then in the early stages of negotiation. As staff director of the committee, I participated in the hour-long briefing with Johnson, who was clearly impressed. Subsequently, when some key U.S. allies raised objections that made successful completion of the NPT uncertain, Johnson instructed Secretary of State Dean Rusk to do what was necessary to complete the treaty promptly. Without Johnson’s personal intervention, the treaty would not have been completed during his presidency.

Johnson and McNamara recognized the need to cap the rapid buildup of strategic nuclear arms and to include limits on ballistic missile defenses as well as to maintain stable mutual deterrence. Their thinking on these matters, which was initially introduced to a skeptical Soviet Premier Aleksei Kosygin at a 1967 summit in Glassboro, New Jersey, became the basis for subsequent negotiations leading to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I) and the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. Although the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia in the summer of 1968 led to postponement of the initial U.S.-Soviet negotiations tentatively scheduled for September 1968, Johnson believed so strongly in the importance of the subject that he privately sought, up to the last days of his presidency, to reschedule the beginning of the talks in a desperate effort to present incoming President Richard M. Nixon, whose support was uncertain, with the fait accompli of an ongoing negotiation.

Nixon surprised both critics and supporters by vigorously pursuing Johnson’s initiatives on capping strategic nuclear arms and nuclear proliferation. Immediately after taking office, he announced that he supported the idea of talks with the Soviets on a strategic treaty. After having his national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, study the strategic situation intensively for nine months, Nixon initiated negotiations that led to the ABM Treaty and SALT I. He also obtained Senate advice and consent to ratification of the NPT even though some key states, including China, France, Germany, and Japan, did not ratify the treaty at that time.

As assistant director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), I participated in the interminable meetings leading up to and backstopping these negotiations. Although it was originally envisaged that ACDA would manage the interagency planning and backstopping process, it was soon apparent that this would not work given the strong opposition of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Defense Department to the undertaking. I was delighted when Kissinger’s increased involvement in the planning shifted the detailed management directly to the White House, as success depended on Nixon’s conviction that it was his own treaty to achieve and defend.

With Kissinger’s participation, the ABM Treaty was successfully negotiated and received the Senate’s advice and consent by an overwhelming vote of 88 to 2, and the SALT I Interim Agreement received strong congressional approval. Remarkably, Nixon accomplished these breakthroughs in arms control as well as the opening to China despite remaining mired in Vietnam for almost his entire tenure and the developing domestic problems that eventually led to his resignation.

President Gerald Ford’s brief term was marked by failure to make progress on SALT II, which was important because SALT I was only an interim five-year agreement. Whatever Ford’s personal intentions, he was unable to rise above the quarreling over nuclear policy among the strong-willed advisers he inherited: Kissinger and Secretaries of Defense James Schlesinger and Donald Rumsfeld. Goodby describes these internecine battles well.

President Jimmy Carter came to office with strong views on the need to step back from nuclear annihilation with a broad and impressive arms control agenda. Despite his excellent intentions and generally sound judgment, unforeseen external events and poor timing conspired to limit severely what he was able to accomplish. At the outset, in addition to efforts to complete the long-delayed SALT II, he launched a fusillade of new initiatives, including a CTBT, a ban on anti-satellite systems, and even limits on conventional weapons.

Although all of these proposals were highly desirable, they were too much for the U.S. bureaucracy and its aging Soviet counterpart to handle in the face of strong, hostile, vested interests. These and other initiatives floundered against the background of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Frustrated and angry, Carter decided to withdraw SALT II from Senate ratification. As acting ACDA director, I advised Secretary of State Cyrus Vance to oppose this action, even though immediate ratification was not in the cards, because, I argued, under the circumstances every effort should be made to keep avenues of contact with the Soviet Union open.

While pursuing his broad arms control agenda, Carter was confronted with a number of proposals for major new military programs designed to increase U.S. nuclear deterrent and war-fighting capabilities. He received much unwarranted criticism for correctly canceling or opposing several of these programs, of which the so-called neutron bomb was the best-known example. The neutron bomb, which was touted as a more acceptable way to utilize tactical nuclear weapons in Europe because it killed people with less impact on property, did not in fact differ in any significant way from existing low-yield tactical nuclear weapons. Carter sensibly canceled the unnecessary program when Germany, after originally enthusiastically championing it, refused to permit deployment of the weapons on its territory.

In the closing days of Carter’s administration, I was assigned to head the U.S. delegation to negotiations with the Soviets to explore the possibility of an agreement on Theater Nuclear Forces. My instructions were to discuss anything I wanted except the possibility of mutual zero levels for intermediate-range nuclear missiles, a concept that was then anathema to Germany because it was seen by Chancellor Helmut Schmidt as destroying the “seamless web” of nuclear deterrence. This restriction was discouraging because I thought this was the only basis for an agreement. The Soviets chose not to pursue this option, and the talks ended with Reagan’s election victory.

Reagan’s Astonishing Evolution

Goodby documents how Reagan’s initial negative view of arms control gradually evolved, amazing critics and supporters alike as he became an advocate of radical proposals that went beyond traditional arms control to proposals that cut, rather than merely limited, nuclear weapons. At the outset, he rejected ratifying SALT II and then proclaimed as the centerpiece of his nuclear policy the Strategic Defense Initiative, which had the impossible goal of developing an impenetrable shield that would make nuclear weapons “impotent and obsolete.” Interestingly, he did not call for repudiation of the ABM Treaty but proposed instead a bizarre “broad” interpretation of the treaty that would allow precisely what the treaty was designed to prohibit.

With the passage of time, however, Reagan initiated the negotiation of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) to reduce rather than simply cap the number of strategic nuclear systems. He also negotiated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty banning all intermediate-range nuclear missiles, a concept that only a few years earlier had been considered beyond the pale. At a truly remarkable summit at Reykjavik, Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev exchanged proposals to ban all strategic nuclear missiles but failed to agree on the treatment of ballistic missile defenses. One wonders if agreement had been reached at Reykjavik whether it could have actually led to a full-fledged treaty, given the obsession with details subsequently demanded in START I. It is also interesting to ponder what the consequences of such a treaty would have been for international security.

In describing the record of President George H. W. Bush, Goodby leads the reader to the conclusion that Bush accomplished more actual arms control than any other president. Goodby notes that Bush quickly completed and ratified START I and negotiated START II, which called for much deeper reductions of strategic delivery systems. Even more significantly, with the collapse of the Soviet Union looming, he recognized the potential danger of the chaos that might ensue and the opportunity it presented to bring the world a major step back from nuclear disaster.

Bush seized the moment and announced the unilateral withdrawal and elimination of most of the U.S. tactical nuclear weapons stationed in Europe. This allowed Gorbachev to announce his decision, several days later, to return to Russia the thousands of Soviet tactical nuclear weapons deployed in the territories of Warsaw Pact members and the non-Russian states of the Soviet Union with a commitment to eliminate most of them. Thus, without protracted formal negotiations, both sides vowed to eliminate a significant portion of their nuclear weapons stockpiles, including those tactical Soviet nuclear weapons that were most exposed to potential diversion. He also initiated implementation of the imaginative proposals of Senators Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) to assist Russia and the other newly independent states in complying with the dismantlement provisions of START I and the INF Treaty.

President Bill Clinton was unable to take full advantage of the opportunities presented by the collapse of the Soviet Union because of unrelenting opposition from Congress and to some extent the Russian Duma. He did make a major contribution in persuading Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus to join the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon states and to return to Russia for dismantlement the strategic nuclear warheads remaining on their territories. If this had not been done, Ukraine and Kazakhstan would have become the third- and fourth-largest nuclear-weapon states.

However, on the negative side, succumbing to congressional pressure, Clinton decided to deploy a modest missile defense system consistent with hopefully mutually agreed-on minor modifications to the ABM Treaty. This contributed to START II never entering into force and helped prevent the negotiation of an anticipated START III with further substantial reductions.

Clinton also took the lead in achieving the indefinite extension of the NPT, which was set to expire in 1995 after 25 years, and provided the necessary leadership in completing the long-delayed multinational negotiation of a CTBT. In 1999, however, the Senate Republican majority forced the Senate to reject ratification of the treaty, leaving the treaty in limbo, where it remains today.

In an excellent chapter on George W. Bush, Goodby characterizes the current president’s mindset as believing that “the time had finally come to scrap the old order.” To date, he has been quite successful in this objective. Goodby notes that other presidents helped build up the international nonproliferation and arms control regimes that they saw as supporting U.S. national security. Yet, Bush clearly believes that the United States, as the only remaining superpower, should be prepared to shape the international order unilaterally and has rejected treaties that would in any way restrict U.S. freedom of action. To this end, he withdrew from the ABM Treaty, despite strong Russian objections, and replaced the unratified START II with the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT). Also known as the Moscow Treaty, SORT lacks verification provisions, and its limits on future U.S. strategic forces are effectively toothless.

Although Bush has given high priority to preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons to perceived U.S. enemies, his actions have either been ineffectual or counterproductive. At the beginning of his term, he overruled the decision of Secretary of State Colin Powell to continue very promising negotiations that the Clinton administration had begun with North Korea, thus spurring Pyongyang to advance its nuclear weapons program. Disregarding the precedent followed by previous presidents, he initiated a preventive war against Iraq on the false grounds that it was illegally developing nuclear weapons. Most recently, he has agreed to negotiate a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement with India, despite long-standing U.S. and Nuclear Suppliers Group policy to deny such aid to Pakistan, India, and Israel because they have not signed the NPT and are known to have nuclear weapons.

Today, confronted with the difficult problem of Iran’s potential nuclear weapons ambitions, Bush has made clear that all options are on the table if Iran refuses to terminate its uranium-enrichment program. Because UN agreement on effective sanctions is unlikely, rumors abound that Bush is seriously considering military actions in another preventive war. Given the international hostility that his policies have created, it is clear that any such action would have to be carried out unilaterally, with disastrous results to long-range U.S. security.

Goodby’s book demonstrates effectively the critical role that presidents have had in developing nuclear policy and avoiding nuclear Armageddon. Overall, it makes a persuasive case that all previous presidents have performed remarkably well in this regard, despite having to deal with events beyond their control, difficult adversaries, and an often uncooperative Congress.

I strongly recommend the book to anyone interested in the evolution of U.S. nuclear policy or seeking a challenging text for a college course. Our current president might well profit from this book as he contemplates his legacy. In addition, it should be mandatory reading for any aspirant to the presidency in 2008.

Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr. first worked in the Office of the President in 1956 when he served on the staff of the Gaither Committee. Subsequently, he served as a technical assistant to the president’s science adviser under Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson and concurrently as a senior member of the National Security Council staff under Kennedy and Johnson. Under Presidents Nixon and Carter, he served as assistant director and then deputy director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. Keeny was executive director and president of the Arms Control Association from 1985 to 2001.

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A Review of At the Borderline of Armageddon: How American Presidents Managed the Atom Bomb by James E. Goodby

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.



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