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

– Amb. Nobuyasu Abe
Former UN Undersecretary General for Disarmament Affairs
January 28, 2004
December 2006
Edition Date: 
Friday, December 1, 2006
Cover Image: 

Iran’s Enrichment Efforts Advance

Paul Kerr

Iran continues to advance its nuclear programs even as diplomatic efforts to contain it continue, according to a Nov. 14 report from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei to the agency’s Board of Governors. ElBaradei also reported that investigators have not been able to make progress in their investigation of Tehran’s nuclear activities for months, although Iran promised some renewed cooperation with the agency in late November.

Uranium Enrichment Continues

The report indicates that Iran is moving forward with its gas centrifuge-based uranium-enrichment program. 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 (LEU), which can be used in nuclear reactors, and highly enriched uranium (HEU), which can be used in certain types of nuclear reactors and as fissile material in nuclear weapons.

ElBaradei confirmed that Iran has been testing centrifuges in its pilot uranium-enrichment facility with uranium hexafluoride “during intermittent periods,” although they have mostly been operated without nuclear material.

The director-general’s report confirms that Iran has completed installing a second 164-centrifuge cascade. Iran has for months been operating cascades made up of 10 and 20 centrifuges, as well as an initial 164-centrifuge cascade. ElBaradei said that Tehran began to test the new 164-centrifuge cascade with uranium hexafluoride Oct. 13. (See ACT, November 2006.) According to the International Institute of Strategic Studies, it would take more than a dozen years of operating a 164-centrifuge cascade to generate enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon.

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

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ali Hoesyni reiterated Nov. 12 that Iran plans to install 3,000 centrifuges in the larger facility by March 2007. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a Nov. 21 television interview that Iran ultimately intends to install 60,000 centrifuges, a number slightly higher than past figures given to the IAEA. Last April, Stephen Rademaker, then-acting assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation issues, claimed that it would take less than a year for Iran to enrich sufficient material for a nuclear weapon if Tehran had 3,000 installed centrifuges and less than a month if Tehran had 50,000. (See ACT, April 2006.)

Another measure also indicates that Iran has been accelerating its enrichment efforts. Between Aug. 13 and Nov. 2, Iran fed about 34 kilograms of feedstock into its centrifuges. By contrast, Iran fed a total of about six kilograms of the material into the centrifuge during June and July, according to a report from ElBaradei to the IAEA board in August.

The IAEA is still verifying Iran’s claim that the more-recent campaign enriched uranium to less than 5 percent uranium-235, a level typical for LEU used in nuclear reactors.

Tehran also began a new “campaign” in June to produce uranium hexafluoride from lightly processed uranium ore. According to the report, Iran converted a portion of 160 metric tons of lightly processed uranium ore to uranium hexafluoride, yielding 55 metric tons as of Nov. 7. According to the report, Iran told the agency that it anticipates converting all of the ore by January 2007.

Investigation Stalled

Meanwhile, ElBaradei told reporters Nov. 23 that the agency is “going through a period of standstill” in its investigation of a number of issues related to Iran’s past undeclared enrichment-related activities.

His report says that the IAEA has found no evidence that Iran has diverted any of its declared nuclear facilities or materials. However, it also says that the agency will “remain unable to make further progress in its efforts to verify” that Tehran has not engaged in clandestine nuclear activities “unless Iran addresses…long outstanding verification issues.”

Since its investigation began in 2002, the IAEA has discovered that Iran engaged in secret nuclear activities, some of which violated its safeguards agreement. Iran has provided explanations for some of these issues, but the agency says that several others remain unresolved. (See ACT, March 2006.)

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

ElBaradei attributed the IAEA’s lack of progress to Iran’s limited cooperation with the agency. As one obstacle, he cited Tehran’s continued refusal to implement its additional protocol to its IAEA safeguards agreement. Tehran has signed the protocol, which augments the IAEA’s authority to investigate possible undeclared nuclear activities, but has not ratified it. For several years, however, Tehran had been behaving as if the protocol were in force but stopped doing so in February. (See ACT, March 2006.)

ElBaradei also noted Tehran’s decision to link its cooperation with the investigation to the UN Security Council’s deliberations concerning Iran’s nuclear program (see page 31).

Iran indicated in a Nov. 1 letter to the IAEA that it is willing to address the agency’s outstanding questions regarding its nuclear program, according to ElBaradei’s report. However, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki indicated in a Nov. 23 television interview that this cooperation is “conditional” on the Security Council stopping its deliberations.

ElBaradei reported that the agency has been unable to resolve a number of outstanding issues related to Iran’s centrifuge program, such as procurement efforts and research on advanced centrifuges.

Additionally, the IAEA has still not made progress in determining the origin of some LEU and HEU particles found at several locations in Iran. The particles raise the possibility that Tehran may have either imported or produced additional undeclared enriched uranium in violation of its safeguards agreement. Iran has previously admitted that it enriched uranium secretly but only to very low levels.

Most recently, the agency has asked Iran for information regarding HEU particles discovered when inspectors took environmental samples from a container located at the Karaj Waste Storage Facility. The facility had not been declared to the agency, an IAEA official told Arms Control Today in late October. ElBaradei reported that the agency had asked Iran to provide information about the source of the particles and the past use of the containers.

Iran replied in a Sept. 6 letter that the containers “had been used for the temporary storage of spent fuel” from a research reactor located in Tehran, which “could explain the presence of the HEU particles.” The IAEA is currently analyzing samples taken from other containers, which had been used to store spent fuel from the reactor.

The reactor had used HEU fuel but has used LEU since the early 1990s. Iran has recently provided additional cooperation relevant to this issue, ElBaradei informed the IAEA board Nov. 23. Tehran told the agency that it will allow agency inspectors to take additional environmental samples from equipment located at a “technical university.” The IAEA last collected such samples in January and subsequently discovered that they contained HEU particles. (See ACT, July/August 2006.)

Iran has also “agreed to provide” the IAEA with access to the “operating records” of its pilot enrichment facility, ElBaradei said. Tehran has dragged its feet on supplying this information for several months, according to his report.

According to ElBaradei, the agency also is continuing its investigation of Iran’s past undeclared plutonium-separation experiments. Iran, however, has not “provided sufficient clarification” of these issues and has told the agency that “no other relevant information is available,” he reported.

Most recently, the IAEA detected plutonium in the environmental samples taken from the containers found at the Karaj facility, according to ElBaradei’s report. The agency is assessing a Nov. 13 response from Iran.

The Iranian Atomic Energy Organization issued a statement two days later indicating that the plutonium particles originated from spent fuel from the research reactor.

The plutonium experiments have caused concern because Iran is building a nuclear reactor moderated by heavy water. Such reactors can produce weapons-grade plutonium, which is also used as fissile material in nuclear weapons. Although the IAEA has found evidence that Tehran was interested in reprocessing spent reactor fuel, Iran has said that it will not do so.

U.S. Reports on Nuclear Treaty Implementation

Wade Boese

The Department of State recently reported to lawmakers that the United States and Russia appear on pace to fulfill the terms of a 2002 nuclear treaty but also admitted that Washington has no plan on what should happen in relation to the 2009 expiration of an earlier bilateral nuclear accord.

An unclassified version of the October report on implementation of the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) states that “all indications are that both parties are fully committed to fulfilling the [treaty] reductions, and no obstacles are envisioned to their capability to do so.” The report is an annual congressional requirement that is supposed to be submitted April 15 each year.

But the report also notes that “the administration has no formal position, as yet, with regard to the end” of the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). SORT did not include verification measures, so the United States relies on its national intelligence capabilities and START’s verification regime to assess Moscow’s SORT implementation.

SORT obligates the United States and Russia to reduce their deployed offensive nuclear forces to 1,700-2,200 strategic warheads apiece by Dec. 31, 2012, which is also the day that the limit expires. At the time Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin signed the agreement, the target warhead level was roughly equivalent to a cut of two-thirds in the deployed forces for each side. (See ACT, June 2002. )

Warheads do not count against the treaty limit if they are stored separately from ICBMs, submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and long-range bombers. No warheads or delivery vehicles need to be destroyed as part of the SORT reduction process.

Also known as the Moscow Treaty, the agreement set no interim force benchmarks. Yet, Washington indicated that it would work to lower its deployed strategic arsenal to 3,500-4,000 warheads by 2007.

U.S. deployed offensive strategic warheads numbered 3,878 as of the end of last year, according to the October report. This marks the first time that Washington has provided such a precise figure in the unclassified report.

In a projection of the 2012 composition of U.S. strategic nuclear delivery vehicles, the report reaffirms Bush administration plans announced earlier this year to retire 50 Minuteman III ICBMs and cut 38 B-52H bombers. This would leave the United States with 450 Minuteman IIIs and 56 B-52H bombers in addition to 21 nuclear-capable B-2 bombers and 14 nuclear-armed Trident submarines. However, Congress restricted moves to begin these reductions in a defense authorization bill signed Oct. 17 by the president. (See ACT, November 2006. )

The unclassified report does not detail existing Russian warhead levels or reduction plans, although the classified version reportedly contains such information. Under START warhead-counting rules, which are different from those under SORT, the Kremlin reported July 1 that it had 4,384 strategic warheads and 912 strategic nuclear delivery vehicles.

START and its verification mechanisms are scheduled to lapse Dec. 5, 2009, three years before the SORT reductions are supposed to be completed. Although Putin has called for negotiations to “replace” START, the Bush administration has not been receptive. (See ACT, October 2006. )

Other governments have also expressed concerns about the expiration of START. Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre joined with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier Nov. 11 to urge the United States and Russia to negotiate a follow-on agreement to START.

Some nongovernmental nuclear experts have raised the possibility of extending START or at least some of its verification provisions, but Washington has been largely silent on the issue.

In comparison to its predecessors, the October report appears to diminish the value of the START verification regime. Whereas all earlier reports noted START provides “important data” for the U.S. intelligence community, the latest version uses the phrase “additional data.”

Citing improved U.S.-Russian relations, Bush administration officials have repeatedly downplayed the necessity of formal nuclear agreements or talks with Russia. The annual SORT reports have consistently predicted that there will be “increasing openness” in the two sides’ strategic relationship.

Still, there are indications that the two government’s nuclear relations remain rocky at times. The October report confirms a September Arms Control Today article that the United States and Russia have replaced an offensive nuclear transparency working group established in conjunction with SORT with a new channel of talks between Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Robert Joseph and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak. The disbanded group reportedly only met four times over three years because of agenda disputes.

Meanwhile, Putin emphasized in a Nov. 16 speech the need for Russia to retain a strategic arsenal capable of destroying any potential foe regardless of how advanced or modern its weapon systems. He said this posture requires Russia to maintain the quality of its strategic systems, no longer necessarily to match an adversary weapon for weapon.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov announced the same day that Russia plans to procure 17 new ICBMs next year. This is about triple the acquisition rate of previous years. (See ACT, January/February 2006. )

The new missiles likely will be a combination of silo-based and road-mobile SS-27 Topol-Ms. Since 1997, Moscow has deployed 42 of the silo-based missiles, according to the July START data exchange. Subsequently, Russia reportedly deployed its first road-mobile version of the missile and plans to field up to two more before the end of the year.

Development of a new submarine-based missile, the Bulava, is progressing more slowly. The missile has failed its last two flight tests, the latest of which occurred in October. It is unclear when the missile might be ready for deployment.

Despite the Bulava and Topol-M programs, Russia’s aging nuclear inventory is projected ultimately to decline below the lower SORT limit.

The Department of State recently reported to lawmakers that the United States and Russia appear on pace to fulfill the terms of a 2002 nuclear treaty but also admitted that Washington has no plan on what should happen in relation to the 2009 expiration of an earlier bilateral nuclear accord. (Continue)

Anti-Nuclear Terrorism Principles Issued

Wade Boese

Led by the United States and Russia, 13 countries recently promulgated eight general principles for averting and responding to nuclear terrorism. The group will meet in February to discuss further actions.

The principles emerged from the inaugural Oct. 30-31 meeting in Rabat, Morocco, of the voluntary Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin announced the initiative in July on the eve of the Group of Eight (G-8) summit in St. Petersburg. (See ACT, September 2006. )

In addition to host Morocco and the other six G-8 members—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom—Russia and the United States invited Australia, China, Kazakhstan, and Turkey to participate in the meeting and the International Atomic Energy Agency to observe.

A Department of State official told Arms Control Today Nov. 18 that Moscow and Washington wanted to limit the initial meeting to a “manageable size.” Invites were extended to China and Australia, according to the official, because they are seen as “very important” to the initiative’s success, while Kazakhstan and Turkey are “important geographically.” The latter three countries also were among the first publicly to welcome the initiative’s unveiling.

The October principles outline basic steps governments should take to deny terrorists the means to conduct nuclear attacks as well as measures to mitigate the consequences if governments fail. The principles also emphasize developing capabilities to trace and prosecute terrorists and their accomplices or suppliers.

Many of the principles essentially have already been accepted in existing international agreements or legal mandates. The 2005 International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism obligates adherents to protect their radioactive material against theft, while UN Security Council Resolution 1540 and its successor, Resolution 1673, require all governments to take an array of steps to prevent nonstate actors from acquiring nuclear arms or biological and chemical weapons. (See ACT, May 2005 and May 2004. )

The State Department official said the U.S.-Russian initiative and its principles are to serve as a “vehicle” to help implement these other instruments. Ideally, the official said, the initiative will “foster activities” between not only governments but also between the private and public sectors to implement these international obligations and to take on additional responsibilities beyond them.

Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Robert Joseph, the U.S. co-chair of the initiative, said July 18 that participating governments would seek a work program at the inaugural meeting, but this is now the objective of the second meeting scheduled for February 2007 in Turkey. The Russian co-chair is Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak.

The work plan is expected to include exercises, information sharing, task forces, and workshops to promote the initiative’s goals. Participating states also will seek to agree on “terms of reference for implementation and assessment to support effective fulfillment of the initiative,” according to an Oct. 31 State Department press statement.

The initiative will be open to all countries that endorse the principles. The State Department official said that the aim is to create a “steady and growing network” of participants because “we cannot [combat nuclear terrorism] alone.”

Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism Principles

The following eight principles were agreed to by the 13 countries participating in the inaugural October meeting of the voluntary U.S.-Russian Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.

  1. Develop, if necessary, and improve accounting, control and physical protection systems for nuclear and other radioactive materials and substances;
  2. Enhance security of civilian nuclear facilities;
  3. Improve the ability to detect nuclear and other radioactive materials and substances in order to prevent illicit trafficking in such materials and substances, to include cooperation in the research and development of national detection capabilities that would be interoperable;
  4. Improve capabilities of participants to search for, confiscate, and establish safe control over unlawfully held nuclear or other radioactive materials and substances or devices using them;
  5. Prevent the provision of safe haven to terrorists and financial or economic resources to terrorists seeking to acquire or use nuclear and other radioactive materials and substances;
  6. Ensure adequate respective national legal and regulatory frameworks sufficient to provide for the implementation of appropriate criminal and, if applicable, civil liability for terrorists and those who facilitate acts of nuclear terrorism;
  7. Improve capabilities of participants for response, mitigation, and investigation, in cases of terrorist attacks involving the use of nuclear and other radioactive materials and substances, including the development of technical means to identify nuclear and other radioactive materials and substances that are, or may be, involved in the incident; and
  8. Promote information sharing pertaining to the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism and their facilitation, taking appropriate measures consistent with their national law and international obligations to protect the confidentiality of any information which they exchange in confidence.

U.S. Maintains Perch Atop Rising Arms Market


Wade Boese

Russia and France last year eclipsed the United States in arms sales to developing countries, but Washington still led in total global weapons deals, according to a recent report to Congress.

The United States has ranked as the world’s most prolific arms seller since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s and the nearly simultaneous triumph of U.S. arms over Soviet weapons in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. But figures in the Oct. 23 report Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 1998-2005 indicate Washington faces renewed competition, particularly in sales to developing countries.

The annual report by Congressional Research Service analyst Richard Grimmett classifies all countries as developing except Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, the United States, and all European states.

Last year marked the first time in the eight-year period covered by the report that the United States did not conclude the highest value of arms agreements with developing countries. The United States finalized nearly $6.2 billion in such sales, but France tallied $6.3 billion and Russia posted $7 billion.

Still, the United States signed $12.7 billion in total arms agreements in 2005, surpassing every other supplier in worldwide weapons deals. In comparison, France’s grand total was $7.9 billion and Russia trailed with $7.4 billion.

Although annual U.S. arms sales have remained relatively level over the past several years, the U.S. share of global deals has varied depending on fluctuations in the overall market. For example, in inflation-adjusted dollars, U.S. arms agreements in 2003 totaled $15.5 billion and accounted for one-half of the $29 billion in worldwide sales, while the U.S. sum last year made up just more than one-quarter of the global total of $44 billion.

The recent global upsurge stems from increased sales by China, France, Russia, and the United Kingdom. French agreements last year exceeded those from 2004 by $5.7 billion. Russia showed a smaller gain of $1.8 billion, while China tripled its 2004 sales total to $2.1 billion.

Although the United Kingdom’s $2.8 billion in agreements last year marked a $3.8 billion decline from 2004, the 2005 total still ranked as London’s second-highest sum in the past eight years. A $1.8 billion agreement to sell 66 Hawk advanced jet trainers to India played a big part in the abnormally high 2004 British total.

India was the leading developing-country arms buyer in 2005 with $5.4 billion in agreements. Those included contracts for six French Scorpene attack submarines worth $3.5 billion and roughly a billion dollars in Russian missile and rockets.

The United States traditionally has not been a major arms seller to India, but Washington is seeking to change that by offering New Delhi combat aircraft. (See ACT, May 2005. ) Grimmett told Arms Control Today Nov. 16 that Indian leaders appear to be “seriously thinking” about the proposal.

Even if Washington fails to lure New Delhi away from Moscow and Paris, the United States is unlikely to be supplanted as the globe’s top arms marketer because of its large stable of customers. Grimmett noted in his report that U.S. clients include the developing countries “most able to afford major new weapons purchases.”

Seven of the top 10 developing arms buyers since 1998— Egypt, Israel, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Taiwan, and the United Arab Emirates—are dedicated U.S. customers or made major past purchases of U.S. arms. China, India, and South Africa are the other three.

The $107 billion in global weapons deals signed by the United States since 1998—more than double that of second-place Russia’s $45.6 billion in agreements over the same span—will help ensure that steady business flows to U.S. arms manufacturers. “The fact that the U.S. has such a wide base of arms equipment clients globally means that it still will be able to conclude a notable number of agreements annually to provide support, upgrades, and ordnance” for previously sold weapons, Grimmett wrote.

Russia is working to improve its post-sales support to attract new customers. It has also sought to expand arms sales through counter-trade arrangements, co-production agreements, and debt forgiveness. Algeria and Syria are recent beneficiaries of the latter practice.

Although arms orders are up for the Kremlin, Grimmett assessed that its efforts to woo new buyers has “met with mixed results.” Algeria, Indonesia, Malaysia, Venezuela, Vietnam, and Yemen have all recently acquired Russian arms, but China and India still account for a substantial portion of Moscow’s arms sales.

Russia’s long-term ability to retain its past customers, let alone add new ones, is uncertain because “the Russians have not sunk a lot of money into research and development,” Grimmett said Nov. 16. As a result, Russian arms manufacturers risk not keeping pace technologically with Western rivals and losing potential customers, particularly richer states.

The relative inferiority of Chinese weapons has relegated most of Beijing’s sales to poorer countries in Africa and Asia that cannot afford more advanced and expensive Western arms. The report suggests that future Chinese sales will be predominantly small arms and light weapons rather than major conventional arms, such as battle tanks or combat aircraft.

A key exception could be missiles and missile technologies, which the United States frequently criticizes or sanctions China for reportedly exporting. “ China can present an obstacle to efforts to stem proliferation of advanced missile systems to some areas of the developing world where political and military tensions are significant,” the report states. Beijing’s alleged missile transfers have stifled its bid to join the voluntary 34-member Missile Technology Control Regime. (See ACT, November 2006. )

Compared to their Western counterparts, Chinese arms exports, particularly of small arms and light weapons, do not generate significant revenue. The motivation underlying Beijing’s sales, according to Grimmett, appears to be to extend Chinese political influence and gain access to natural resources, particularly oil.

In this respect, the report suggests that China might be different from some other arms suppliers. “Where before the principal motivation for arms sales by foreign suppliers might have been to support a foreign policy objective, today that motivation may be based as much on economic considerations as those of foreign or national security policy,” Grimmett wrote.

Beijing also differs from other major arms exporters in that it is also a top arms importer. Buying primarily from Russia, China has acquired $14.3 billion in foreign arms since 1998. This amount is second only to Saudi Arabia’s receipt of $50 billion in arms deliveries. (These two sums are not adjusted for inflation.)

Nonetheless, neither Beijing’s nor Riyadh’s arms appetite appears sated. Aside from India, no other developing countries signed up for more new arms agreements in 2005 than Saudi Arabia ($3.4 billion) and China ($2.8 billion).

This trio of top buyers seems motivated and positioned to continue making major foreign arms purchases, although the report observes that arms sales trends can change quickly based on economic factors and national threat assessments. Grimmett stated, “A significant increase in the total value of arms agreements in one or two years is not necessarily predictive of the immediate years to come.”

North Korea Sanctions Detailed

Paul Kerr

Since North Korea agreed Oct. 31 to return to multilateral negotiations designed to resolve the crisis surrounding its nuclear weapons program, officials from other participants in the six-party talks have held a series of preparatory meetings. But no starting date has been set for the talks. Meanwhile, a UN Security Council committee has finalized lists of military items whose export to North Korea are restricted because of Pyongyang’s Oct. 9 nuclear test.

North Korea Returns

North Korea said after the test—its first—that it was still willing to eliminate its nuclear weapons programs. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill told reporters Oct. 31 that during meetings in Beijing involving U.S., North Korean, and Chinese officials, the North Korean delegation reiterated Pyongyang’s willingness to implement a September 2005 joint statement. In that statement, produced at the end of the fourth round of talks, Pyongyang agreed in principle to dismantle its nuclear programs in return for incentives from other participants of the talks.

North Korea’s decision to return to the talks marked a shift from its previous refusal to do so until Washington lifted what Pyongyang has termed “financial sanctions” on the Macau-based Banco Delta Asia, a reference to the Department of the Treasury’s September 2005 designation of the bank as a “money laundering concern.”

The United States asserts that the bank provided financial services to North Korean government agencies and front companies engaged in illicit activities such as drug trafficking. Since the U.S. designation, Banco Delta Asia has frozen North Korea’s accounts, and other financial institutions have curtailed their dealings with Pyongyang. (See ACT, September 2006.)

A spokesperson for North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said Nov. 1 that Pyongyang agreed to return to the talks “under the precondition” that North Korea and the United States would resolve the Banco Delta Asia issue “within the framework” of the six-party talks.

But Hill said the previous day that although the United States had agreed to “find a mechanism within the six-party process” to address the matter, the North Koreans made “very clear” that these discussions “were not preconditions.”

Washington is “prepared to form a working group” that would develop a way for Pyongyang to address U.S. concerns about its illicit activities, Hill said without specifying further.

The Banco Delta Asia issue has haunted the stalled talks since all six parties last met in November 2005. The North Korean delegation focused almost exclusively on that issue during that session, which lasted only a few days. (See ACT, January/February 2006.)

North Korea and the United States have not met bilaterally to discuss the matter since March. At the time, North Korean officials made several suggestions for resolving U.S. concerns about the country’s illicit activities. The Bush administration, however, apparently rejected these proposals at the time.

Pyongyang subsequently attempted to discuss the matter with the United States, but the Bush administration refused to engage in bilateral discussions separate from the six-party talks.

However, a U.S. official familiar with the issue claimed in a Nov. 21 interview with Arms Control Today that U.S. officials have made offers since the March meeting to provide North Korea with advice on ensuring that their financial transactions are legitimate. But the official said that Pyongyang has not taken advantage of the offers.

Looking Ahead

Since the October announcement, U.S. officials have been meeting with officials from the other parties in order to “prepare the groundwork” for the talks, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters Nov. 16.

However, the United States has not decided on the details of its plan for implementing the September 2005 agreement, including the resolution of controversial questions regarding the proper sequencing of rewards and obligations, the State Department official said.

Regardless, Rice made clear that Washington expects Pyongyang to take the first step when the talks resume, saying that North Korea will “need to demonstrate” its commitment to denuclearization in order to show that “the talks are going to produce something.” She did not specify further.

Similarly, the U.S. official said that the Bush administration hopes that North Korea will come to the talks with a proposal to dismantle its nuclear programs, adding that the United States has not yet decided precisely how Pyongyang should implement this commitment.

Nevertheless, Hill apparently discussed some specifics during a Nov. 29 bilateral meeting with North Korean Vice Minister Kim Gae Gwan in Beijing, telling reporters that day that he “share[d] some ideas…that we had already worked out” with the other participants in the six-party talks. Hill provided no details, but added that North Korea will study the proposals.

However, the U.S. official provided ACT with some details regarding Washington’s expectations of North Korea. For example, Washington wants Pyongyang’s initial actions to go beyond simply suspending the operation of its nuclear facilities, the official said.

Charles L. “Jack” Pritchard, a former State Department special envoy to North Korea, told a Washington audience Nov. 15 that in recent discussions he had in Pyongyang, North Korean Deputy Director-General for North America Li Gun indicated that North Korea might be open to such a suspension.

North Korea has continued to operate the facilities associated with its plutonium-based nuclear weapons program. Pyongyang also is suspected of having a uranium-enrichment program. Both can produce fissile material for nuclear weapons.

The official also said that North Korea would be expected to present a declaration of its nuclear program and materials, adding that Pyongyang’s failure to provide some information regarding its enrichment program will likely result in the end of negotiations. “Some people here will pull the plug” on the process, the official said.

The United States has not received any indication from North Korea that it wants to discuss the program, he added.

As for the Banco Delta Asia issue, the U.S. official said that the working group would likely begin work around the same time as the next round of talks.

However, he said that the issue is unlikely to be resolved in the short term because the United States is not in a position to end its investigation of the bank. The official also dismissed reports that some funds may be unfrozen in the future, explaining that the investigators do not know which accounts are associated with illicit activities. No funds will be freed up until the investigation is completed, the official said.

Some observers have speculated that releasing some funds could be part of a deal to persuade North Korea to be more conciliatory.

Pritchard also said that Pyongyang apparently expects China to unfreeze the funds, but China’s Foreign Ministry has indicated that this is not the case.

Resolution Implementation Moves Ahead

Meanwhile, the UN committee has finalized the lists of weapons-related items whose export to North Korea are restricted, a South Korean diplomat told Arms Control Today Nov. 30. The committee was established under Security Council Resolution 1718, which was adopted Oct. 14 in the wake of the North Korean test. The diplomat said that the committee has “yet to work out” the list of North Korean entities and officials subject to the resolution’s restrictions. In addition to military-related items, the resolution says that states are to prevent the transfer of luxury goods to North Korea, but it does not define what those are.

The diplomat also said that about 33 governments have submitted their initial reports on the steps they have taken to implement the resolution, which called on all governments to submit such reports within 30 days.

One of those was the United States. On Nov. 29, Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez said that the United States had defined its set of luxury goods that Washington would ban from being sold to North Korea. They include such items as “cognac and cigars,” he said, adding that the relevant regulations “will be published in the Federal Register.” He did not specify a date.

Senate Passes U.S.-Indian Nuclear Trade Bill

Wade Boese

The Senate Nov. 16 overwhelmingly approved a bill to facilitate expanded civil nuclear trade with India. The House earlier this year passed similar legislation. The two congressional chambers hope to negotiate a compromise measure for President George W. Bush to sign before the end of the year.

The Senate bill passed 85-12, bolstered by support from current Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and his expected successor, Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.). No Republicans dissented on the measure, which Lugar hailed as advancing the president’s “most important strategic diplomatic initiative.”

The measure essentially exempts India from legislation Congress passed three decades ago that virtually ended nuclear commerce with the South Asian state. Lawmakers enacted the earlier legislation after India in 1974 conducted a nuclear test using material produced by a Canadian-supplied reactor using U.S.-origin heavy water designated for peaceful purposes. In July 2005, Bush promised Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that he would push lawmakers to resuscitate nuclear trade between the two countries if India divided its nuclear complex into civilian and military sectors. (See ACT, September 2005. ) New Delhi unveiled its separation plan last March, classifying 14 of 22 existing and under construction power reactors as civilian. (See ACT, April 2006. )

In the day-long debate, proponents of enhanced trade put less emphasis on the virtues of nuclear cooperation per se than the importance of forging closer ties with a rising, democratic Asian power. For example, Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) said India could serve as a counterweight to China. “As China expands its economic power and military strength, U.S. nuclear cooperation with India can help to even the international keel,” he said.

Advocates also contended nuclear commerce with India would help power India’s growing economy, profit U.S. industry, and provide India with more environmentally friendly energy. They also argued implementation of Bush’s initiative would give India a greater stake in global efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons.

Detractors disputed these claims. They also warned the current plan would lead to more nuclear weapons and undermine worldwide nuclear control rules. “This agreement means we are signing up to have more nuclear weapons produced on this earth,” Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) stated.

In negotiations on the Bush-Singh pact, New Delhi rejected Washington’s request that India cease producing fissile material (highly enriched uranium and plutonium) for weapons. Indian leaders maintain they are not ready to cap or constrain their nuclear weapons program.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) criticized the deal as it would provide “assistance to India without any restraint or limitation on its existing weapons program.” He argued it conflicted with a “fundamental tenet” of U.S. policy: countries seeking civil nuclear commerce should abandon or forswear nuclear weapons. This policy is also a core element of the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which India has never signed.

Bingaman proposed an amendment requiring New Delhi to make progress toward checking the growth of its arsenal before receiving U.S. nuclear exports. His two-step approach would have permitted nuclear equipment and technology to flow to India if it was “taking specific steps” to conclude a treaty outlawing fissile material production for weapons, while the supply of nuclear material would have hinged on New Delhi halting such production.

Lugar conceded “an Indian commitment to abandon its nuclear weapons program would have been optimal,” but he characterized Bingaman’s proposal as a “killer condition.” India, Lugar contended, would construe the amendment as “moving the goalposts and an unacceptable renegotiation of the deal.” Senators sided 73-26 with Lugar.

Critics also voiced concern that increased U.S. nuclear exports to India would free up resources New Delhi now dedicates to energy for use in weapons production. They warned that such a development would call into question the U.S. NPT obligation “not in any way to assist, encourage, or induce” non-nuclear-weapon states to acquire nuclear arms. Despite having nuclear weapons, India is considered a non-nuclear-weapon state under the accord.

Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) proposed prohibiting all nuclear trade with India unless the president certified that such transactions would not “contribute directly or indirectly” to India’s nuclear weapons program. His amendment also would have required the president to secure assurances from New Delhi that it would not use fuel imports for its civilian sector to facilitate increased output on the military side. It was defeated 71-25.

Although Biden helped spearhead the opposition to Feingold‘s amendment, he acknowledged the thrust behind it. “I hope especially that India will not use its peaceful nuclear cooperation to free up domestic uranium for increased production of nuclear weapons,” he said. Absent an outside provocation, such an increase would be a “gross abuse of the world’s trust,” Biden declared.

Senators reaffirmed during the debate that an Indian nuclear test or transfer of civilian nuclear imports to its military sector would be a clear breach of the U.S.-Indian pact and result in its termination. Lugar said that, in the event of a test, the United States “shall have the right to request the return of supplies.”

Nonetheless, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) indicated that India would be able to turn elsewhere after the deal was approved. “Once the door to cooperation is opened to India, it may be difficult to get other countries to agree to shut it again,” he observed. Indeed, France and Russia are already lining up as potential suppliers, and China and India issued a joint statement Nov. 21 agreeing “to promote cooperation in the field of nuclear energy.”

India’s ties with Iran drew some of the greatest scrutiny from lawmakers. Indian leaders have said they oppose a nuclear-armed Iran, but New Delhi also stated last year that the Iranian nuclear program did not pose a threat to international security. Bush administration officials have repeatedly portrayed India as playing a helpful role on Iran.

Senators rejected 59-38 an amendment by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) requiring a suspension of Indian military-to-military relations with Iran before receiving U.S. nuclear imports. But they adopted by voice vote an amendment by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) conditioning future nuclear commerce on a presidential determination that New Delhi was “fully and actively participating” in U.S. and international efforts to contain Iran’s nuclear program.

Bush welcomed Senate passage of the legislation and said he looked forward to signing a final bill soon. Congress reconvenes Dec. 4 and will have to reconcile the recent Senate bill with the July 26 House version. (See ACT, September 2006. )

It remains to be seen whether a final product will retain some Senate provisions that India has criticized. New Delhi has been particularly critical of two. One calls for additional measures to verify that U.S. exports stay in India’s civil sector. The other prohibits exports of uranium-enrichment, plutonium reprocessing, and heavy-water technologies because they can be used to produce nuclear bombs as well as energy.

India is taking a wait-and-see approach. Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told Indian parliamentarians Nov. 23 that “it would be premature to predict the eventual outcome of this process or to comment on the matter [until] we have seen the legislation in its final form.” He added, “[T]here is no question of accepting any additional requirements beyond those” in the original Bush-Singh statement and the separation plan.

The Senate bill includes a measure unrelated to India that could be a source of contention for House members. It would implement under U.S. law an additional protocol to a U.S. safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In March 2004, the Senate gave its advice and consent to ratification of the protocol itself. Although largely symbolic, the protocol notionally gives the agency greater authority to conduct activities inside the United States. The House has not yet considered such implementing legislation, so that chamber would have to approve it as part of the final legislation that emerges from the House-Senate conference committee for the instrument to take effect.

Even if Congress approves a final bill and Bush signs it into law before the end of the current congressional session, it would still be some time before expanded U.S.-Indian nuclear trade could commence. The two governments first must complete negotiations on a formal bilateral nuclear cooperation accord, which then must be approved by Congress. In addition, India and the IAEA must reach a safeguards agreement specifying what types of oversight measures will be placed on Indian civil nuclear facilities. Finally, the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group would need to exempt India from the voluntary group’s nuclear supply restrictions. (See ACT, November 2006. )

The Senate Nov. 16 overwhelmingly approved a bill to facilitate expanded civil nuclear trade with India. The House earlier this year passed similar legislation...

Anything but Conventional

Daryl G. Kimball

What is the most serious weapons-related security threat? The answer depends on who you are and where you live. For many Westerners, the biggest worry may be catastrophic nuclear terrorism. But for millions of people in conflict-ridden developing regions, the greatest threat emanates from the free flow of and trade in conventional weapons. With global arms sales soaring to more than $44 billion in 2005 and hundreds of thousands of people dying annually from weapons and war, tough new controls on international arms sales are urgently needed.

U.S. and global leaders recognize the high-consequence dangers posed by nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. As a result, they have established a patchwork system of legally binding treaties restricting the possession, proliferation, and use of “unconventional” weapons. However, there is no international treaty regulating the export of conventional arms, which produce more misery and carnage on a day-to-day basis.

During the Cold War, weapons sales were primarily used by Washington and Moscow to win friends and fight proxy wars. Since then, the global arms market has persisted but is driven more and more by profit and interest in sustaining domestic armaments industries.

Partly as a result, countries have sought but been unable to achieve binding restrictions on the global arms trade. After the 1990 Persian Gulf War, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States initiated talks on regulating weapons transfers. The talks limped along until September 1992, when a U.S. decision to sell 150 F-16 fighter aircraft to China’s rival, Taiwan, halted the effort.

Later, in the mid-1990s, a bipartisan congressional coalition sought and failed to establish tougher criteria for U.S. arms sales. The Clinton administration, which relaxed nearly two decades of restrictions on advanced arms sales to Latin America, strongly opposed the adoption of any new standards. A 2001 UN conference on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons foundered because the Bush administration opposed provisions affecting civilian gun ownership or arms transfers to nonstate actors.

The latest geostrategic rationale for many U.S. sales is the so-called war on terror. For instance, U.S. officials claim that the recent sale to Pakistan of F-16 jets with air-to-air missiles will help in the fight against al Qaeda. In reality, they are for fighting India, and they create a market for selling similar U.S. fighters to India.

The result is a robust global arms bazaar led, in order, by the United States, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, and China. Sixty-eight percent ($30 billion) of all weapons sales last year were with developing nations, many of which have subpar records on human rights and democracy. Last year, the United States alone signed deals worth $6.2 billion with states such as Egypt, Israel, Kuwait, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates for attack helicopters, missiles, aircraft, and other weapons.

Is the arms trade a cause or a symptom of global conflicts? It is both. As outgoing UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan recently put it, “Arms buildups can give rise to threats leading to conflict, and political conflicts can motivate the acquisition of arms. Efforts are needed both to reduce arms and to reduce conflict.”

In particular, the burgeoning trade in small arms and light weapons, including rifles, machine guns, and mortars, helps increase the level of violence of civil conflicts in many countries, from Angola to Colombia, Congo, Haiti, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and the Darfur region of Sudan.

In response to this unacceptable situation, one major supplier state, the United Kingdom helped spearhead and win UN support for a process that could eventually lead to a new global arms trade treaty. In October, the United Nations’ First Committee endorsed a resolution that calls for exploring common standards for the import, export, and transfer of conventional weapons. Multilateral negotiations could begin in two years. The goal is not to outlaw arms sales but to require suppliers to operate in a more transparent, responsible, and accountable manner.

The resolution won 139 votes, while 24 states, including Russia and China, abstained. The United States was the only state to oppose it. U.S. officials complain that the effort will produce more meetings and less action and lead to a lowest-common-denominator set of standards. Yet, to paraphrase Churchill, what is wrong with more jaw-jaw if it means less war-war?

Rather than impeding the initiative, the United States should be out front pulling. U.S. diplomats should listen to their British counterparts who point out that key suppliers can and should work together to ensure that the treaty compels states to adopt stronger, not weaker, arms transfer controls.

As the world’s leading arms supplier, the United States has a special responsibility and a clear self-interest in establishing tougher, binding standards on conventional arms transfers. Today, most arms sales have little or nothing to do with self-defense and the arms being sold only help fuel conflicts and tensions in unstable areas, undermining prospects for peace and opportunities for the less fortunate. We can no longer afford to ignore the long-term cost to human security. The time to act is now.

What is the most serious weapons-related security threat? The answer depends on who you are and where you live. For many Westerners, the biggest worry may be catastrophic nuclear terrorism. But for millions of people in conflict-ridden developing regions, the greatest threat emanates from the free flow of and trade in conventional weapons. With global arms sales soaring to more than $44 billion in 2005 and hundreds of thousands of people dying annually from weapons and war, tough new controls on international arms sales are urgently needed.

U.S. and global leaders recognize the high-consequence dangers posed by nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. As a result, they have established a patchwork system of legally binding treaties restricting the possession, proliferation, and use of “unconventional” weapons. However, there is no international treaty regulating the export of conventional arms, which produce more misery and carnage on a day-to-day basis. (Continue)

Security Council Deadlocks on Iran

Paul Kerr

The UN Security Council’s five permanent members remained deadlocked in November on a resolution that would address Iran’s continued refusal to suspend its uranium-enrichment program. Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors sent an additional signal of concern about an Iranian nuclear reactor project that could potentially produce plutonium for nuclear weapons.

A Nov. 14 report from IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei said that Iran has not yet complied with Security Council Resolution 1696, which called on Tehran to suspend its gas centrifuge-based uranium-enrichment program by Aug. 31. Rather, Iran has expanded its enrichment program, ElBaradei reported.

The permanent Security Council members, along with Germany, also had required Iran to suspend the program as a precondition for beginning negotiations on a package of incentives they offered Tehran in June. The package is designed to persuade Iran to give up enrichment but leaves open the possibility that Tehran could eventually have such a program. (See ACT, October 2006.)

Iran claims that it intends to produce low-enriched uranium to be used as fuel in nuclear reactors. But many suspect that Tehran will use its enrichment-related facilities or the expertise gained from operating them to produce highly enriched uranium, which can be used as fissile material in nuclear weapons.

Resolution 1696 requires Iran to take other steps to demonstrate that its enrichment program is exclusively for peaceful purposes, such as fully cooperating with the IAEA investigation of its nuclear programs. (See ACT, September 2006.) Tehran has also not complied with this provision, ElBaradei reported.

Security Council Discussions Continue

In Resolution 1696, the council had expressed its intention to adopt “appropriate measures” under the UN Charter’s Chapter VII, Article 41, if Iran did not comply with its demands. Article 41 describes measures short of military force that can be employed “to give effect” to council decisions.

France, Germany, and the United Kingdom reacted to Iran’s continued noncompliance by drafting a resolution in late October that would impose sanctions on Tehran. That draft includes a series of measures apparently designed to constrain Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. (See ACT, November 2006.)

In early November, Russia submitted a number of changes to the draft. Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s permanent representative to the United Nations, said that his country’s changes make the European draft “quite a bit shorter,” Reuters reported Nov. 3. Moscow has been that draft’s most vocal public critic, but Beijing also has voiced objections.

Both a European diplomat and a Department of State official told Arms Control Today Nov. 27 that Russia and other council members subsequently have only made limited progress in resolving their differences regarding the scope of a resolution.

According to press reports and statements from U.S. and Russian officials, Moscow objects to such provisions as a near ban on travel for officials associated with Iran’s nuclear programs, as well as potential restrictions on Russian supplies of fuel for a nuclear power reactor that Moscow is constructing near the Iranian city of Bushehr. Russia has agreed to supply fuel for the reactor and take back the spent fuel. (See ACT, November 2006.)

Moscow also wants to narrow the resolution’s provisions that would restrict trade in goods potentially related to Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Russian officials have argued that a resolution should seek to moderate Iran’s behavior rather than punish Tehran. Moscow also has expressed concern that punitive measures could induce Iran to cease its cooperation with the IAEA altogether.

Iran has already cut back on its cooperation by halting in February its implementation of an additional protocol to its safeguards agreement. (See ACT, March 2006.) Such agreements allow the agency to monitor the declared civilian nuclear activities of states-parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to ensure that they are not diverted to military purposes. Additional protocols augment the IAEA’s authority to investigate possible undeclared nuclear activities.

Although the United States supports the European draft, Washington has reportedly continued to push for stronger action against Tehran.

Speaking to reporters Nov. 15, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley characterized differences between Washington and Moscow as “largely tactical considerations.” But John Bolton, the U.S. permanent representative to the UN, was more blunt in a FOX News interview the same day, claiming that Russia’s stance stems from its commercial ties with Iran.

By contrast, the European diplomat said that Russia’s motives are not yet known and that the United States and European council members are trying to “get to the bottom” of Moscow’s objections.

Russia may not agree to the sanctions at all, he said, adding that, in any case, Moscow “does not appear to be in any hurry.”

Reactor Aid Rejected

With action stalled in New York, the IAEA board took a modest action against Iran’s nuclear program during a Nov. 23-24 meeting in Vienna. The board declined to approve an Iranian request to provide technical assistance for a heavy-water reactor that Tehran is constructing at Arak. Weapons-grade plutonium can be obtained far more easily by reprocessing the spent reactor fuel from heavy-water reactors than from light-water reactors, such as the one being built near Bushehr.

U.S. Permanent Representative to the IAEA Ambassador Gregory Schulte said in a Nov. 13 speech that the completed reactor would be capable of producing enough plutonium for about two nuclear weapons per year.

In a Nov. 22 speech to the IAEA Technical Committee, Iranian Permanent Representative to the IAEA Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh reiterated that the reactor is intended to produce medical isotopes and argued that a decision to deny assistance would be motivated by politics. Iran is requesting “technical recommendations” regarding nuclear safety rather than reactor construction, he added.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Nov. 23 that Iran will continue work on the reactor regardless of the IAEA’s decision, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Iran has said that it will not engage in reprocessing, and ElBaradei reported that there “are no indications” of such activities in the country.

A State Department official confirmed press reports that the board did not vote on the matter but agreed simply to remove the request from a list of other technical assistance requests that were granted that day. ElBaradei told reporters Nov. 23 that the board might reconsider its decision at some point in the future.

Cluster Munition, Anti-Vehicle Mine Limits Sought

Wade Boese

Upset at the lack of progress at a November meeting on multilateral arms issues, some states took matters into their own hands. Norway announced plans to lead negotiations on banning cluster munitions, while Australia, Denmark, and the United States crafted a voluntary pledge under which governments would promise to limit their use of anti-vehicle mines.

These were announced near the end of the third review conference of the 1981 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) that took place in Geneva Nov. 7-17. The accord’s 100 states-parties must commit to at least two of its five protocols that seek to protect civilians and combatants against injury or death from indiscriminate or inhumane arms. The convention’s newest protocol entered into force Nov. 12 and commits adherents to clear their territories postconflict of unexploded ordnance, or explosive remnants of war (ERW). (See ACT, January/February 2004. )

Although fully committed to the new protocol, Norway wanted the review conference to pursue additional steps to prevent ERW altogether. Specifically, Oslo hoped states-parties would commit to outlawing cluster munitions, which are bombs, rockets, or shells that spread smaller submunitions or bomblets, sometimes up to several hundred, over a broad area.

Independent studies have found that these weapons have accounted for a significant portion of unexploded ordnance, as well as ERW casualties, in recent conflicts. The UN Mine Action Service reported Nov. 13 that cluster munitions have caused all 23 deaths and “most” of the 136 reported injuries from unexploded ordnance in Lebanon following fighting there last summer between Israel and the radical Shiite group Hezbollah. (See ACT, October 2006. )

Norway was not alone in singling out cluster munitions. In a Nov. 7 message to the conference, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged countries to “freeze the use of cluster munitions against military assets located in or near populated areas.” Austria, the Holy See, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, and Sweden also advocated negotiations for a legally binding instrument that “addresses the humanitarian concerns posed by cluster munitions.”

But several larger powers indicated at the outset that such proposals were overly ambitious and undesirable. The Department of State issued a Nov. 3 statement declaring that countries should focus on fulfilling the new ERW protocol and “not on negotiating new rules on cluster munitions.” Similarly, Anatoly Antonov, head of the Russian CCW delegation, stated Nov. 7, “[W]e cannot accept the logic of restrictions or even bans on ammunition artificially and groundlessly declared as ‘most dangerous.’” Moscow and Washington have both employed cluster munitions in recent military conflicts.

The CCW operates by consensus, and opponents of cluster munitions negotiations were not swayed. But the conference agreed to a June 19-22, 2007, meeting of a group of governmental experts to discuss arms that cause ERW, including a “particular focus on cluster munitions.” The group would report on these talks to next year’s annual states-parties meeting in November.

This compromise did not satisfy Norway. Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre announced Nov. 17 that his government would organize a conference in hopes of moving toward an international cluster munitions ban. He argued the urgency of the problem demanded action and that the “time is ripe” because of “increasing calls” for a ban.

Some states already have cluster munitions restrictions. Belgium has outlawed them, Norway has instituted a use moratorium, and Germany has stopped procuring them.

The Norwegian initiative recalls Canada’s effort a decade ago to ban anti-personnel landmines (APLs) after the CCW and the Conference on Disarmament failed to do so. This initiative produced the 1997 Ottawa Convention that now numbers 151 states-parties and which has helped destroy some 38 million stockpiled APLs worldwide. (See ACT, November 2006. )

No date has been set for the Oslo meeting nor have any invitations been made. A Norwegian official told Arms Control Today Nov. 20 that this process should not be considered as competition to the CCW meeting but as a parallel process.

Ronald Bettauer, head of the U.S. delegation to the CCW conference, made clear Nov. 17 that Washington sees things differently. Describing the United States as “disappointed” with Oslo’s move, he said, “the effort to go outside this framework is not healthy for the CCW” and would “weaken the international humanitarian law effort.”

Bettauer contrasted Norway’s response on cluster munitions with how other states reacted to the failure of the conference to adopt a long-standing, 31-nation proposal to restrict the use of anti-vehicle mines. Rather than “go outside” the CCW and undermine it, Bettauer said frustrated governments would proceed on an anti-vehicle mines agreement when the states-parties were ready. But in the meantime, some governments would move forward and enact as national policies the restrictions that they had sought internationally.

Five years ago, the United States and Denmark proposed that the CCW adopt a protocol restricting anti-vehicle mines. The initiative gained 29 other co-sponsors, including Norway.

The latest version of the proposal calls for limiting the use of undetectable anti-vehicle mines or anti-vehicle mines lacking self-destruct or self-deactivation mechanisms to clearly marked perimeter areas. It would further restrict exports of undetectable anti-vehicle mines or those that cannot self-destruct or self-deactivate.

In the past few years, Belarus, China, Cuba, Pakistan, and Russia have blocked the proposed protocol. In November, they again opposed the measure.

Pakistan insisted that undetectable and long-lasting anti-vehicle mines are necessary for security, while China raised what it claims are the economic and technical challenges of making anti-vehicle mines detectable and outfitting them with self-destruct and self-deactivation mechanisms. Antonov further asserted a case had not been made that anti-vehicle mines pose a “serious humanitarian threat.”

The State Department Nov. 3 issued a statement detailing incidents of civilian deaths inflicted by anti-vehicle mines. In addition, protocol proponents argue that threats of anti-vehicle mines can dissuade or slow the delivery of aid, food, or medicine to areas needing help.

Confronting a persistent stalemate, CCW members did not extend negotiations for another year. The conference did agree to devote up to two days to discuss anti-vehicle mines at the 2007 states-parties meeting.

Washington, which voiced readiness to resume negotiations if positions changed, did not hide its unhappiness. “The United States was deeply disappointed that after five years of discussion, the conference was unable to achieve consensus on the adoption of an anti-vehicle mine protocol and had to suspend work on this important subject,” the State Department declared Nov. 17.

Still, Australia, Denmark, and the United States unveiled the same day a voluntary “Declaration on Anti-Vehicle Mines” incorporating the key elements of the anti-vehicle mine proposal. By the close of the conference, 22 additional countries, including Canada, France, and the United Kingdom, had pledged to adhere.

CCW members reached consensus on two issues at the conference. They agreed to establish a pool of experts for states-parties seeking compliance assistance and create a voluntary contribution fund that poorer states-parties or nonmembers could use to help pay for CCW-related activities or events.

Half Full or Half Empty? Realizing the Promise of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

Jean du Preez

Some analysts are already writing the epitaph for the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Others are dusting off Cold War prognosis about nuclear chain reactions, arguing that the treaty has failed and that more and more states will break out or creep out from the almost 40-year-old regime. Still others are looking into ways to establish a new nuclear nonproliferation regime, arguing that the NPT cannot meet today’s challenges.

These gloomy forecasts on the future of the NPT follow a number of setbacks: the disappointing outcome of the once-every-five-years treaty review conference in 2005; the inability of the 2005 UN summit to express itself on the threats associated with nuclear weapons; North Korea’s blatant disregard for the treaty’s goals, including its October 2006 nuclear test; increasing concerns over Iran’s nuclear intentions; and the impact of the U.S.-Indian nuclear cooperation deal. There now seems to be a growing belief that the goals embedded in the treaty and upheld for almost four decades have become “missions impossible.”

The nuclear nonproliferation regime is in deep trouble and facing unprecedented challenges. NPT states-parties should be seeking to build bridges between each other on ways to strengthen the treaty’s core bargains as they did in 1995 and 2000. Instead, they are taking singular approaches. Some focus only on the nonproliferation side of the NPT bargain, including a few key parties who prefer threats of sanctions and military action to diplomacy. Another group, meanwhile, is quick to make linkages aimed at stalling progress on nonproliferation or in an attempt to force equal treatment on issues such as nuclear disarmament, the crises in the Middle East, and assurances against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.

Yet, has the NPT failed? Although a bit dated and despite some noncompliance concerns, it is fair to say that the vast majority of its members continue to believe in and fully support the treaty’s objectives and principles. Contrary to growing perceptions in Washington, both in governmental and nongovernmental circles, the treaty has a good track record. Although the only four states that remain outside the treaty are now armed with nuclear weapons, this problem relates to long-standing regional and bilateral political issues that the NPT was not necessarily designed to address. Convincing these countries to renounce nuclear weapons or control their nuclear-related technologies and material will require tailor-made diplomatic approaches outside the context of the NPT in which the United States and other NPT nuclear-weapon states have a leading role.

The “glass-half-empty” protagonists seem to believe that because less than a handful of NPT members have cheated— Iraq, Libya, North Korea, and Iran—the NPT and its safeguards system have failed to prevent proliferation. Of these “cheaters,” Iraq and Libya are no longer of nuclear proliferation concern, while the verdict is still out on Iran’s intentions. In their analysis of the treaty’s well-being, those who foresee a demise of the NPT seem to forget that several states, such as Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, Kazakhstan, South Africa, and Ukraine, gave up their nuclear weapons or related programs and joined the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon states in good standing. Moreover, the overwhelming majority of other non-nuclear-weapon states have laudable compliance records.

Instead of finding ways to reward good behavior, more and more initiatives are surfacing on ways further to curtail the right of states in good standing to use the atom for peaceful purposes. Others argue that the nuclear cooperation deal between India and the United States will tear the treaty apart because it would essentially reward India for staying outside the regime. They seem short on ideas, however, on how to incorporate the world’s most populist democracy into the nonproliferation fold while providing its citizens with a sustainable energy source. Many others believe that the nuclear-weapon states have not met their legal disarmament obligations, but they have little legal ground to judge these states, given the weaknesses of the treaty in this regard.

The treaty is not yet on the brink of failure. Talk of such failure plays into the hands of those who wish to pursue nuclear weapons or use unilateral action in pursuit of national counterproliferation objectives. Yet, the continued inability to adapt the treaty from its Cold War framework to one more responsive to today’s security environment will, over time, erode the treaty’s relevance as a cornerstone of international security. As they now begin formal preparations for the 2010 review conference, states-parties must move quickly to lay the groundwork for success by establishing an effective preparatory process, defining balanced and achievable goals, and building political will and momentum to implement them.

For if states-parties approach the next review cycle with the same business-as-usual approach as they did the past one, the outcome of the 2010 review conference could be in jeopardy long before it starts. Another failed conference could pave the way for greater involvement and intervention by the most powerful states, acting either as coalitions of the willing or through the UN Security Council, on the grounds that the multilateral machinery has ground to a halt and that the NPT is no longer functional. Others may start questioning the security framework that the treaty promises and seek their security through other means, including nuclear weapons.

Opportunities to advance the treaty’s goals in the run-up to the 2010 conference remain. Taking advantage of them requires visionary leadership, strong political will at the highest levels, and innovative and constructive cooperation among all key players—national, intergovernmental, and nongovernmental—to strengthen the core bargains on which the treaty was founded almost 40 years ago. In so doing, the treaty’s inherent weaknesses should be recognized with a view to finding ways to address these limitations in a holistic manner. What is needed urgently is not a new treaty or lopsided ways to deal with current threats, but a balanced plan of action to implement the treaty’s core bargains, taking into account developments since its adoption, including the way in which it was extended in perpetuity.

Going Back to the Future

When the member states of the 18-nation Disarmament Commission, later the Conference on Disarmament (CD), agreed to the text of the NPT in 1968, they did so knowing that the treaty was not perfect and that its provisions might not stand the test of time. In part, this led to the agreement that the treaty would not last in perpetuity but that its future would be determined 25 years after entry into force. The text of the treaty was the best that could be achieved at a time when the United States and the Soviet Union had large arsenals of nuclear-tipped missiles aimed at each other and when it was feared that several other states might follow the example of those states that had acquired a nuclear weapons capability.

While states without nuclear weapons agreed to forgo that option immediately, nuclear-weapons states made two rather vague concessions. They agreed in Article IV that the restrictions embedded in the treaty would not affect the “inalienable right” of all states to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and that states should share technology and material for the peaceful use of the atom. In Article VI, they agreed to pursue negotiations in “good faith” to stop the arms race and, in what appears to have been an afterthought, made a similar commitment to nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament. No time frame was set for these negotiations. A withdrawal provision was also added, requiring advance notice and an explanatory statement. Finally, they came up with a formula to define those countries temporarily entitled to possess nuclear arms by recognizing as legitimate nuclear-weapon states only those countries that had detonated a nuclear explosive device prior to January 1, 1967.[1]

Over time, these sweeteners helped encourage almost all states to join the pact.[2] Despite the inherently discriminatory nature of the treaty, states with the capability to develop nuclear weapons decided not to do so but instead accepted in good faith the requirements set forth by the treaty to remain nuclear weapons free. They saw in the treaty a “grand bargain,” one they hoped would ensure their own national security and lead to the elimination of nuclear weapons. These incentives, however, are now considered by some as loopholes as they allow states to use peaceful nuclear energy as cover for weapons development before exercising their right to withdraw from the treaty. Others argue that the retention of nuclear weapons by a few states allows them to threaten those without weapons.

The 1995 agreement to extend the treaty indefinitely was yet another grand bargain. Instead of making the treaty’s future conditional, it was agreed to strengthen the review process[3] as a yardstick to measure progress on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament during every five-year review cycle. As recalled by Ambassador Thomas Graham Jr., who led the U.S. delegation to the 1995 conference, the treaty was extended indefinitely based on a set of “political conditions,”[4] a major component of which was a set of principles and objectives for nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament anchored to three clearly defined disarmament actions,[5] and on an agreement that a legally binding instrument should be considered to assure non-nuclear-weapon states against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.[6] These negative security assurances and the nuclear disarmament promises, especially from the United States, played an important role in winning indefinite extension of the treaty.[7] Today, many states feel that this decision was a mistake because it effectively eliminated the little leverage that non-nuclear-weapon states had over nuclear-weapon states to stick to their end of the bargain and ultimately disarm.

By contrast, the much-heralded 2000 review conference actually watered down some of the important agreements reached in 1995. For instance, the clearly defined nuclear disarmament program of action was no longer intact. Instead it was replaced with a basket of items, the so-called 13 practical steps on nuclear disarmament, without attaching clear priority to them. Many of these steps, offered as concessions by the nuclear-weapon states to ensure successful adoption of a final document as validation of the 1995 indefinite extension decision, were not real concessions at all, such as the agreement to achieve the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) after the Senate had already categorically rejected U.S. ratification of the treaty the previous year.

Similarly, knowing full well that breaking the deadlock in the CD was improbable, states-parties agreed to conclude negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) within five years, provided it were done in the context of the CD’s program of work. The only real achievement among the 13 steps was step six, representing the first “unequivocal undertaking” by the nuclear-weapon states to eliminate their nuclear arsenal. Although no time frame was attached to this undertaking, the notion of “eventual” progress toward this goal was removed, and a clear de-linkage was made to the idea of general and complete disarmament.

Even the limited successes of the 2000 conference were soon eroded. As early as 2001, at least two nuclear-weapon states (the United States and France) negated several of the intensely debated bargains. For instance, soon after taking office, the Bush administration stated that many of the 13 steps were no longer valid, among other reasons, pointing to the Senate’s rejection of the CTBT. France continues to argue that any progress toward nuclear disarmament be part and parcel of general and complete disarmament.[8]

In contrast to the high level of cooperation between all states-parties in 1995 and 2000, the legacy of the 2005 conference is one of negative tactics and a lack of political commitment. Had the United States and France not so blatantly provoked other states-parties by attempting to roll back some of the key decisions and agreements taken at the 1995 and 2000 conferences, the 2005 outcome could have represented progress. From the perspectives of Washington and Paris, however, the 2005 conference was a mission accomplished. Not only were the 1995 and 2000 agreements sufficiently undermined, but initiatives to counter new proliferation threats outside the treaty regime are now gaining more support. Likewise, for the other main culprits, Egypt and Iran, the 2005 “failure” prevented both a rollback of previous decisions, in particular those related to the Middle East, and any reference to Iranian noncompliance.

Two opposing perceptions emerged from the ashes of the 2005 conference: that the agreements reached in 1995 and 2000 remain supreme and that the 2000 bargains were a mistake and that the value of consensus final documents to reflect common approaches is of less importance. Of further concern is the split that emerged among non-nuclear-weapon states. Key Western states now promote minimalist approaches at the expense of their own traditional positions and important measures agreed in 1995 and 2000. On the other hand, developing countries are stonewalling attempts aimed at restricting their treaty rights. They argue that they should not be forced to accept additional obligations when the nuclear-weapon states are allowed to ignore their previous disarmament commitments and agreements. If in 2010 the states-parties fail to learn from this experience, then the treaty’s relevance as the cornerstone of the nuclear nonproliferation regime would be in serious jeopardy.

Where We Are Now

Only a few months away from the first preparatory session, or PrepCom, for the 2010 review conference, there is already a deep sense of pessimism about its prospects. As if challenges from North Korea to Iran to India were not enough reason to doubt any positive outcome, the events at the 61st General Assembly First (Disarmament) Committee in October (see page 40) showed that the 2005 divisions now run even deeper.

Instead of a setting a positive tone for the 2007 PrepCom by adopting more conciliatory approaches, Washington apparently decided to entrench itself as an obstacle by casting negative votes on 24 of the 52 resolutions recommended by the committee. Of these, the United States was alone in voting no on 12 occasions, even in the face of overwhelming support, including from its closest allies.

At the expense of being isolated with a country it holds in utter contempt, the U.S. delegation alone joined North Korea in voting against the principles of a CTBT, while Washington leads the charge to isolate Pyongyang and demand that it never test nuclear weapons again. Washington again joined North Korea in voting against a rather innocuous resolution put forward by Japan on a “renewed determination towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons.” Shattering any hopes that the non-nuclear-weapon states might be granted one of their long-standing aspirations—not to be threatened by the use of nuclear weapons— Washington for the first time and on its own voted against a resolution that called for legally binding negative security assurances.

As if this was not enough, the U.S. delegation rubbed it in by stating that it “opposes” a negative security assurances treaty “or any other legally binding instrument on security assurances.”[9] This dangerous message could heavily impact how states perceive their security within the context of the NPT. They may come to believe that protection against U.S. aggression requires a nuclear arsenal. No wonder North Korea voted in favor of this resolution.

Washington’s backpedaling from its own 1995 and 2000 commitments to back an “effectively verifiable”[10] FMCT caused Canada[11] to withdraw its traditional resolution in support of the treaty. It did so ostensibly to prevent further damage to the already fragile support for an FMCT and to avoid confrontation with the United States.

Instead of welcoming the signing of a long-awaited Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (CANWFZ) treaty,[12] the United States, the United Kingdom, and France voted against a resolution put forward by five Central Asian states and pressured some of their allies and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to withhold their endorsement of the treaty. Not only is the signing of the CANWFZ treaty one of few positive developments in a maze of pessimism about the future of nonproliferation, but it clearly underlines the commitment to nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation by a group of states that previously had nuclear weapons on their territory and continue to live in a nuclear-armed neighborhood. The United States and other opponents may have legitimate concerns about some aspects of the treaty, but what they seem to ignore is that this is the first treaty that requires its members to adhere to enhanced International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, which include the Model Additional Protocol. The treaty also requires its members to meet international standards for the physical protection of nuclear material.

Of course, the United States is not alone in undermining prospects for a smooth start to the next review cycle. Tehran’s continued intransigence to cooperate fully with the IAEA and heed resolutions by the IAEA board and the UN Security Council has already divided the NPT membership and could make Iran the focal point of the first preparatory session in 2007. What is now most needed is a responsible approach by the leadership in Tehran. It needs to prove to the international community that Iran can be a responsible possessor and user of nuclear material and technology.

The intense focus on Iran’s nuclear aspirations also holds negative consequences for other developing countries that want to develop the means to use the atom for nuclear energy and other peaceful purposes. A number of initiatives intended to curtail this right have sprung up over the last two years, ranging from multilateral controls over the nuclear fuel cycle to eliminating the use of highly enriched uranium (HEU) in the civilian nuclear sector.

Already, several developing countries have reacted sharply. Some, such as Algeria, Argentina, Egypt, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia, recently declared their intentions to develop their own civilian nuclear energy programs. Moreover, the leaders of the Nonaligned Movement, which brings together 115 developing countries, reiterated in September 2006 that “each country’s choices and decision in the field of peaceful uses of nuclear energy should be respected without jeopardizing its policies or international cooperation agreements and arrangements for peaceful uses of nuclear energy and its fuel-cycle policies.”[13] The reaction by these developing countries to initiatives to curtail their Article IV rights is forewarning that this is likely to become the dividing line between success and failure in 2010.

Another early warning is the deepening frustration over the lack of progress on nuclear disarmament. Key nonaligned states, such as Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, and South Africa, have already linked progress on issues such as standardization of the Model Additional Protocol, limitations on the nuclear fuel cycle, and civilian HEU elimination to appropriate progress on nuclear disarmament.

Toward 2010: A Strategy for Success

Given deep differences on how to resolve the challenges facing the treaty today, it is crucial for states-parties to consider new ways to regain confidence in the treaty’s core bargains. Attempts to address these challenges, however, must focus on the achievable, must be balanced, and should not appear to reinterpret, negate, or diminish existing obligations, commitments, and undertakings.

The first order of business for the PrepCom in 2007 should be to get the process right. The experience at PrepCom sessions since the adoption of the 1995 strengthened review process has demonstrated that, for the process to be effective and to yield the expected results, it is vital that states-parties show the required political will and be prepared to carry out discussions and negotiations with a view to reaching results on procedural arrangement and substantive matters.

While it is important at next year’s PrepCom to have a genuine and frank exchange of views on current challenges facing the treaty with a results-oriented approach, care should be taken not to create an even deeper divide among states-parties that may not be bridgeable before the 2010 conference. Instead, the first PrepCom should primarily focus on the procedural mechanisms that would enable agreement on both procedural arrangements and substantive recommendations reflecting the views of all states. These should take into account the recommendations, deliberations, and results of its previous sessions. Mindful of the full cycle leading up to the conference, state-parties should keep the process alive, dynamic, and responsive. The possibility of a fourth PrepCom session shortly before the review conference should also be considered. If, however, it proves unlikely for the PrepCom to produce substantive consensus recommendations, it should adopt a report consisting of procedural arrangements for the conference and a summary of the proposed recommendations.

Building on and in no way diminishing the significance of the 1995 “Principles and Objectives,” the 2010 review conference should adopt a plan of action in support of the full implementation of the treaty’s objectives, taking into account the changes in the geopolitical and international security environment. The action plan should stand on its own and serve as a “lodestar”[14] to regain confidence in the treaty’s core bargains, as the Principles and Objectives document did in 1995. Such an action plan should include a number of elements.

Universality

While reaffirming the importance of universal adherence to the treaty, states such as India, Pakistan, and Israel are unlikely ever to join the treaty as non-nuclear-weapon states. Ways to capture them must be explored without rewarding them for staying outside the norm. For instance, they should be required as a precondition for any civilian nuclear cooperation to accept an additional protocol in the same manner as NPT nuclear-weapon states. Making an exception for one state, as envisaged in the U.S.-Indian deal, without securing sufficient assurances that technology and material will not be diverted to a nuclear weapons program should not be an option. These states should also be required to sign on to a future FMCT.[15]

Nonproliferation

Both nuclear- and non-nuclear-weapon states should reaffirm their nonproliferation obligations and recognize the need to strengthen these obligations without undue restrictions on the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Further strengthening of nonproliferation measures must be packaged with equal obligations on the nuclear-weapon states. Although nuclear cooperation with a state found to be in noncompliance with its nonproliferation obligations should be suspended, criteria should be developed to distinguish between the degree of seriousness of violations as well as the violator’s willingness to take steps to correct the matter. UN Security Council Resolution 1540, which is aimed at preventing nonstate actors and terrorists from gaining access to “weapons of mass destruction” and related material, has the potential to plug the gaps in the nonproliferation regime, but significant skepticism remains among many states about its application. A broader understanding needs to be developed about the role of the resolution in strengthening states’ NPT nonproliferation obligations.

Preventing Nuclear Terrorism

The fear of nuclear terrorism is not equally shared by all states-parties, but they should recognize that an act of nuclear terrorism anywhere in the world could have severe consequences for all. The role of the IAEA Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources, the need to implement fully and strengthen Security Council Resolution 1540, and universal adherence to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material should be emphasized. Although eliminating the use of HEU in the civilian sector would contribute toward preventing terrorist access to this material, agreement on this approach would best be linked to the inclusion of excess military fissile material under an FMCT.

Nuclear Disarmament

Here the focus should be on the achievable over the medium term. Of highest priority should be maintaining moratoria on nuclear testing and the expansion of existing moratoria on military fissile material production. At the same time, all states-parties should recommit themselves to achieve the early entry into force of the CTBT and work toward a future verifiable FMCT. This assumes that CD negotiations for such a treaty would commence before 2010. Other commitments by nuclear-weapon states to verifiable and transparent arms reduction measures also should be emphasized. Although most urgent with respect to Russia and the United States, all nuclear-weapon states should agree to reduce the operational status of their nuclear forces.

Diminishing the role of nuclear weapons in security policies would serve to address fears among non-nuclear-weapon states that they are potential targets of these weapons. Nuclear-weapon states should also pledge not to adopt nuclear doctrines or develop new weapons systems that blur the distinction between nuclear and conventional weapons or lower the nuclear threshold.[16] At the same time, Russia and the United States should implement their undertakings to eliminate specific types of nonstrategic or tactical nuclear weapons and agree to withdraw all these types of nuclear weapons to central storage on national territory for eventual elimination.[17]

Safeguards

All non-nuclear-weapon states should agree to accept comprehensive safeguards agreements further strengthened by an additional protocol. The application of these strengthened safeguards should be a condition of supply of technology and material for peaceful purposes. It should also be emphasized that these measures are not designed to limit the right of states to peaceful nuclear energy but rather to enhance international confidence in every state’s ability to be a responsible possessor and user of advanced nuclear material and technologies for peaceful purposes. Of equal importance should be the requirement that civilian nuclear cooperation with states outside the NPT be preconditioned on the application of an additional protocol to all related nuclear facilities and material.

Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy

It is essential to reaffirm Article IV rights for states in full compliance with their nonproliferation and full-scope safeguards obligations (Articles I, II, and III of the treaty). States found to be in violation of these obligations should forfeit their rights under Article IV. The IAEA should continue to be used as an active forum for exploring ways to reduce proliferation risks associated with the nuclear fuel cycle without jeopardizing peaceful uses of nuclear energy, including these technologies. The results of the September 2006 IAEA Special Event on Assurances of Nuclear Supply and Non-Proliferation[18] and the IAEA Secretariat’s expected recommendations on potential nuclear fuel-supply mechanisms next year could increase support for multilateral fuel-cycle controls.

Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones

Existing and future zones should be considered as mechanisms to address both the nonproliferation and disarmament objectives of the NPT. States should be encouraged to urgently ratify these treaties. The entry into force of the African Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone treaty (Pelindaba) should be a high priority for all states. It is equally important that the nuclear-weapon states ratify the relevant protocols to all existing zone treaties.

Security Assurances

In an effort to defuse a potential deal-breaker, the nuclear-weapon states should reaffirm prior to the 2010 conference and in the context of the Security Council their political pledges not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states.[19] The conference should establish a mechanism to consider ways to provide legally binding negative security assurances to NPT states-parties in full compliance with their nonproliferation obligations.

Accountability

To address the imbalance inherent in the design of the NPT, ways should be considered to increase the accountability of all states-parties to their obligations under the treaty. Holding annual meetings of state-parties and extraordinary state-party conferences to respond to serious challenges, such as a withdrawal or a nuclear test, could be one possible way. Admittedly, this idea is controversial, but nothing in the treaty precludes a PrepCom from adopting consensus decisions and resolutions on matters of urgent concern relating to the authority, integrity, and implementation of the treaty. The reporting mechanism built into the 13 steps toward nuclear disarmament also could be used as a template for all states to report on the implementation of their NPT obligations.

Civil Society and Outreach

Increased participation of civil society, including academic institutions and the corporate sector, should be encouraged as a means to inform wider audiences about the danger of nuclear proliferation. Enhanced participation of nongovernmental organizations as observers in NPT meetings would also have mutual benefits for states-parties and civil society. States-parties should be encouraged to promote nonproliferation and disarmament training and education in academic institutions and diplomatic training courses. International organizations such as the IAEA and the CTBT Organization should support this goal.

Although political will derives from each state-party’s own perception of the treaty, a number of initiatives could foster political momentum in support of the action plan and a successful conclusion to the 2010 review conference. First, the nuclear-weapon states should start by reaching agreement on how to deal with North Korea, resolving their differences over Iran, and dispelling any suspicion over possible new weapons development and nuclear testing. Another positive political message to the broader NPT membership would be for congressional Democrats to restart a process in support of the CTBT. This could re-energize the ratification process in other states, such as China, Colombia, Egypt, and Indonesia. These states also must ratify the treaty for it to enter into force. This in turn would create a more favorable environment for success in 2010.

Like-minded coalitions, new and existing, could be used to promote achievable options to develop and strengthen confidence in the treaty. In the past, groups of like-minded states such as the New Agenda Coalition[20] and regular collaboration between state-party representatives and nongovernmental experts have shown remarkable results. Unfortunately the divisive relationships among NPT states-parties seem to have crept into these like-minded groups. Given Germany’s influence in the nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament debates, Berlin could use its presidency of the European Union next year to promote a balanced and flexible role for the EU during the next review cycle. Likewise, the nonaligned leadership should avoid being entrapped by the hard-line positions of some of its members. Yet, although like-minded coalitions and political groups remain important vehicles to promote common approaches in support of the treaty’s objectives, it would be important not to force like-mindedness on states where the political will or the belief in common approaches does not exist.

To generate high-level political will in support for concrete action at the 2010 conference, a NPT heads of state summit should be convened on the margins of the 64th UN General Assembly in New York in 2009. A strong but balanced political declaration issued by such a summit just prior to the 2010 review conference could provide much needed political momentum. Adding even more weight would be a joint statement at this summit by the permanent five members of the Security Council in which the nuclear-weapon states commit themselves to work toward a positive outcome in 2010.

Of significant importance could be a change in U.S. political leadership. Many countries hope that the outcome of the 2008 presidential election could lead to a change in U.S. nonproliferation and arms control policies and have been buoyed by the outcome of the November 2006 elections. Such a change could send a powerful and positive message to the wider NPT membership.

Conclusion

Although the NPT has not been mortally wounded yet, there is a real possibility that a failure in 2010 could make the treaty irrelevant as an effective instrument for maintaining international peace and security. The challenge facing the states-parties during the next review cycle is ensuring that the treaty’s continued validity, including its indefinite extension, remains intact. That can not be ensured if individual elements of the NPT’s bargains are approached singularly; neither can one or another of these elements be ignored or minimized. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan emphasized this need for balance when he recently compared it to an aircraft that can remain airborne only if both wings are in working order. He sternly warned that the international community is “asleep at the controls of a fast-moving aircraft. Unless we wake up and take control, the outcome is all too predictable.”[21]

Any desire, be it by the non-nuclear-weapon states or the nuclear-weapon states to address only one aspect of the NPT bargains—be it nuclear disarmament, nuclear nonproliferation, safeguards, the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, or universality—is a recipe for failure and should be guarded against. To avoid an NPT crash and burn, a new grand bargain, at the highest political levels is needed to reinvigorate the 40-year-old treaty.


Jean du Preez is director of the International Organizations and Nonproliferation program at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies in the Monterey Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California.


ENDNOTES

1. Article IX of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) defines the nuclear-weapon states as China, France, the Soviet Union (now Russia), the United Kingdom, and the United States, all of whom tested nuclear weapons before this date.

2. Only India, Israel, and Pakistan have not signed the NPT. North Korea joined but announced its withdrawal from the treaty in 2003 and detonated a nuclear device in October 2006.

3. “Decision 1: Strengthening the Review Process for the Treaty” (1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference, New York, April 1995).

4. Ambassador Thomas Graham Jr., remarks, Global Security Institute Forum on “Lessons for the Future From the Crucible of Experience,” New York, May 24, 2005.

5. “Decision 2: Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament” (1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference, New York, April 1995). Paragraph four contains a program of action on nuclear disarmament: the conclusion of negotiations on a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), the start of negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT), and the pursuit by the nuclear-weapon states of systematic and progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally with the ultimate goal of eliminating those weapons.

6. Ibid. Paragraph eight states that, “[n]oting United Nations Security Council resolution 984 (1995), which was adopted unanimously on 11 April 1995, as well as the declarations of the nuclear-weapon states concerning both negative and positive security assurances, further steps should be considered to assure non-nuclear-weapon states party to the treaty against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. These steps could take the form of an internationally legally binding instrument.”

7. See George Bunn, “The Legal Status of U.S. Negative Security Assurances to Non-Nuclear Weapon States,” Nonproliferation Review 4, No. 3 (Spring-Summer 1997), p. 1.

8. At the 2000 NPT Review Conference, France argued that Article VI links nuclear disarmament to general and complete disarmament. Although it initially acquiesced that these items are not linked, it continues to claim that its French version interprets this differently.

9. Explanation of vote by the U.S. delegation on draft resolution A/C.1/61/L.45, adopted at the 61st session of the General Assembly’s First Committee.

10. Shannon Mandate, adopted by the Conference on Disarmament March 23, 1995.

11. Canada is the traditional sponsor of a First Committee resolution dealing with the FMCT.

12. The foreign ministers of the five Central Asian states— Kazakhstan, Krygyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan—signed a treaty establishing CANWFZ on September 8, 2006, in Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan.

13. Final document of the 14th Summit Conference of Heads of State or Government of the Nonaligned Movement, Havana, Cuba, September, 16, 2006 (based on paragraph 2 [Article IV] of the Final Document of the 2000 NPT Review Conference).

14. At the 1995 Review and Extension Conference, South Africa proposed that the review process be strengthened by adoption of “set of principles for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament which would be taken into account when the implementation of the treaty is reviewed” and that these principles would “take into account the current international environment.” These principles were offered not as amendments to the treaty but to serve as a lodestar to focus attention on the importance of the treaty’s objectives and the changing security environment. The South African ideas provided the basis for the decision to indefinitely extend the treaty. They are as relevant today as they were in April 1995.

15. The U.S. draft FMCT introduced to the CD does not list India, Pakistan, and Israel as states whose ratification is required for entry into force of the treaty.

16. Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, Weapons of Terror: Freeing the World of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Arms ( Stockholm: WMD Commission, June 2006), p. 98 (Recommendation 21).

17. Ibid., p. 99 (Recommendation 23).

18. “New Framework for the Utilization of Nuclear Energy: Assurances of Supply and Non-Proliferation,” 50th International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference Special Event, Vienna, September 19-21, 2006.

19. In 1995 the pledges by the five nuclear-weapon states were formally acknowledged by the Security Council in Resolution 984, adopted just prior to the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference, marking the first real politically binding commitment both on positive and negative security assurances. This resolution was seen as an effort by the nuclear-weapon states to secure support for the indefinite extension of the NPT.

20. The New Agenda Coalition was launched in 1998 by the foreign ministers of eight non-nuclear-weapon nations—Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Slovenia, South Africa, and Sweden—with the purpose of pressuring the nuclear-weapon states to fulfill the obligation they undertook in Article VI of the NPT to eliminate nuclear arsenals. The coalition officially consists of the above states except Slovenia.

21. Lecture by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan at Princeton University, November 28, 2006.

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