The Arms Control Association is an "exceptional organization that effectively addresses pressing national and international challenges with an impact that is disproportionate to its small size." 

– John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
January 19, 2011
December 2006
Edition Date: 
Friday, December 1, 2006
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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.

Problems With Iraq, Weapons Persist

Paul Kerr

The United States has lost track of thousands of weapons provided to Iraqi troops, according to an Oct. 28 report from the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR). Several days later, the office of Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Negroponte suspended public access to a website containing information from captured Iraqi documents apparently relevant to building unconventional weapons.

The report is the result of an audit of “the type, quantity, and quality” of weapons purchased for the Iraqi Security Forces by the U.S. Iraqi Relief and Reconstruction Fund (IRRF). The audit was conducted at the request of Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner (R-Va.) and came well more than three years after the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

According to the report, approximately 370,000 weapons costing about $133 million have been purchased with IRRF funds since November 2003. Twelve types of small arms were purchased, including machine guns, grenade launchers, and assault rifles.

The Multi-National Security Force Transition Command-Iraq could not account for 751 assault rifles, 13,180 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistols, and 99 machine guns, the report says, posing concerns about the “physical security” of the weapons.

Moreover, the United States may not be able to keep track of the remaining weapons because the command failed to register their serial numbers. Approximately 10,000 weapons, or less than 3 percent of the total provided, were registered, according to the report.

Although the command has said it will take steps to remedy the situation, the report argues that those efforts are inadequate.

For example, the command’s response to the report says that it has developed a system “to maintain accountability” of the weapons. However, SIGIR criticized this procedure, arguing that it is inadequate because the weapons are not registered until after they arrive in Iraq and are distributed to the Iraqi forces. “Without first determining how many weapons were in fact purchased and received…there is no assurance full accountability is established for all weapons,” the report says.

Additionally, the command rejected the report’s recommendation that it register serial numbers with the Department of Defense’s Small Arms Serialization Program, stating that it is meeting “the intent” of the report’s recommendation by establishing its own registry. However, the report states that the command is required to register the weapons with the program.

Sensitive Iraqi WMD Information Leaked

Meanwhile, concerns arose in November that Negroponte’s office may have posted information relevant to developing unconventional weapons.

The director of public affairs for the DNI, Chad Kolton, said in a Nov. 2 statement that the office has “suspended access to a web site containing captured Saddam [Hussein-]era Iraqi documents pending a review to ensure its content is appropriate for public viewing.” The office will review the material “before the site becomes available again,” he added.

This action followed a New York Times report that the documents contained information that could potentially assist the efforts of other states or nonstate actors to develop nuclear weapons. An IAEA official told Arms Control Today Nov. 22 that agency inspectors “had expressed concern internally about the site,” but the agency had not yet warned the United States before the Times article was published.

This is not the first time that the office has removed documents from the site in response to proliferation concerns. Demetrius Perricos, executive chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), expressed concern to U.S. officials in April about a document that contained information about Iraq’s chemical weapons program.

Asked about the Times article, UNMOVIC spokesperson Ewen Buchanan said in a Nov. 21 interview that the file “contains various ‘recipes’ and ‘cookbooks’ [for making chemical weapons] which we thought should not be made public,” adding that it was removed about a week later.

The document was the same as one that Iraq had provided UNMOVIC in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions adopted after the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

The DNI’s office had begun releasing the documents March 16. At the time, Negroponte cautioned that the government “has made no determination regarding” the documents’ accuracy or authenticity. (See ACT, April 2006.)

The documents were posted at the urging of several legislators, including House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) and Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.). Hoekstra has said that there are unanswered questions about the fate of Iraq’s illicit weapons.

Several official studies have concluded that Iraq did not have illicit weapons. No official evidence has emerged that information contained in the documents contradicts those findings.

The United States has lost track of thousands of weapons provided to Iraqi troops, according to an Oct. 28 report from the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR). Several days later, the office of Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Negroponte suspended public access to a website containing information from captured Iraqi documents apparently relevant to building unconventional weapons. (Continue)

Arms Trade Treaty Effort Endorsed

Wade Boese

UN member states recently overwhelmingly endorsed an effort to craft a treaty to regulate the international conventional arms trade. A final accord is by no means assured, however, as two dozen leading arms buyers and sellers abstained from the vote and the world’s top arms exporter, the United States, cast the sole dissent.

All told, 139 countries voted Oct. 26 for the so-called arms trade treaty resolution originally co-sponsored by Argentina, Australia, Costa Rica, Finland, Japan, Kenya, and the United Kingdom. The vote occurred in the UN General Assembly’s First Committee, which is an annual forum where governments debate measures on disarmament and international security matters. The General Assembly, which almost always replicates First Committee votes, is expected to give final approval to the resolution in early December.

Although various criteria-based proposals to limit global arms sales date back more than a decade, the current concept grew out of a September 2004 speech by then-British Foreign Minister Jack Straw. (See ACT, November 2004. ) Straw expounded on the initiative in March 2005, saying that weapons suppliers should “operate and trade in a way which is transparent, responsible, and accountable.”

The resolution calls for exploring a “comprehensive, legally binding instrument establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms.” Conventional arms encompass weapons ranging from pistols and rifles to tanks and aircraft carriers.

Welcoming the vote Oct. 26, British Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett said a future treaty’s purpose is to “end the irresponsible trade in arms worldwide.” There is no agreement yet on what standards should distinguish between responsible and irresponsible deals, although Beckett suggested criteria could include a potential importer’s “respect for human rights.”

Fifteen Nobel Peace Prize laureates, including International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei, the Dalai Lama, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, published an open letter Oct. 24 outlining what a treaty should entail. They recommended suppliers weigh how exported weapons might be used prior to making transfers. Any weapons deals that could be used to “violate international law” should be denied, the laureates wrote.

The earliest that formal negotiations on the treaty could start is 2009. The resolution first calls on the UN secretary-general next year to obtain government views on the possible treaty and make a report. Taking that report into account, a group of governmental experts is supposed to convene in 2008 to “examine the feasibility, scope, and draft parameters” of an agreement.

Typically, some 20 experts make up such a group, and they meet for three separate sessions during the year. If they reach consensus on a report recommending negotiation of a treaty, UN members could then vote to start formal talks. In the event consensus cannot be achieved, governments could choose to establish another experts group, start negotiations outside the United Nations among like-minded countries, or drop the effort entirely.

Although its composition is not yet determined, the 2008 experts group could have difficulty reaching consensus because it will most likely include officials from the United States and countries that abstained from the October vote, notably China and Russia. All three have large stakes in the global arms market (see page 28 ) and are critical of the initiative. Yet, a U.S. government official told Arms Control Today Nov. 17 that the United States was the “only government that had the gumption to vote no.”

The United States contends the initiative will be expensive, time consuming, and of little utility because any final product, if there is one, will inevitably establish standards of the lowest common denominator. The U.S. official said that Washington fears that if such an instrument is completed, it would weaken efforts to get certain countries to improve their export controls or behavior if they already complied with some minimum standard.

A British official told Arms Control Today Nov. 16 that London agrees that an accord “based on the lowest common denominator would be of questionable value.” Therefore, the British government, according to the official, “is committed to securing an agreement that will make a real difference.” The official added that “whatever the terms of a treaty, it should not compel any country or group to adopt controls weaker than they currently operate.”

Similar to other major arms suppliers, the U.S. government historically has been reluctant to cede any authority over export decisions. After initiating arms sales restraint talks with other key weapons exporters in 1991, the United States agreed to ship up to 150 F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan despite knowing that it would probably cause the talks to collapse, which they did. The Clinton administration then opposed for several years legislation to establish criteria for vetting U.S. arms exports. Most recently at a UN conference last summer, the Bush administration opposed barring small arms and light weapons exports to nonstate actors. (See ACT, September 2006. )

The Bush administration has opposed the arms trade treaty process in part because it could turn into a series of meetings spanning several years, similar to the UN-backed effort to curb illicit small arms and light weapons trafficking. While 172 countries voted at the recent First Committee for convening another small arms meeting by 2008, the United States stood alone in opposition. “What we don’t want is more meetings, but more action,” the U.S. official asserted.

Nonetheless, London intends to keep advocating the merits of an arms trade treaty to Washington. “The United Kingdom will continue to engage the United States on this issue and encourage it to participate as work progresses with the aim of securing its support for an eventual treaty,” the British official stated.

Editor's Note

Miles A. Pomper

The nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) has suffered a number of blows in recent years, from the disappointing outcome of the 2005 treaty review conference to an inability to staunch Iran’s nuclear ambitions and concerns that a pending U.S.-Indian nuclear cooperation deal will further undermine the shaky regime. In this month’s cover story, however, Jean du Preez says that states-parties can shore up the NPT if they embrace the kind of bargains they struck when the treaty was signed in 1968 and extended indefinitely in 1995.

The challenges confronting the NPT are evident in the 65-member Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva. In past decades, the CD, the United Nation’s primary arms control negotiating forum, and similar predecessors helped craft such essential accords as the NPT. Yet in recent years, the forum has effectively ground to a halt, unable to break a stalemate involving the United States and Russia and China. U.S. officials would like to restrict the forum to negotiating a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) that would seek to end the production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons. But China and Russia have insisted that the forum also begin discussions on a treaty aimed at preventing an arms race in outer space. Other countries want talks on nuclear disarmament.

In this month’s issue, we asked two experienced participants and one knowledgeable observer to suggest how to break this logjam. Former Bush administration official Stephen G. Rademaker expresses little optimism that the standoff can be ended, saying that states such as China are not genuinely interested in crafting an FMCT. Ambassador Paul Meyer of Canada says all states, including the United States, need to support a “balanced” work program including both FMCT negotiations and outer space talks.

Michael Krepon suggests a third path. For example, he proposes that, as an interim measure, many of the states with nuclear weapons agree to a voluntary moratorium on fissile material production for nuclear weapons.

North Korea’s Oct. 9 nuclear test delivered perhaps the strongest recent shock to the NPT. C. Kenneth Quinones writes that the handling of a previous North Korean nuclear crisis more than a decade ago offers lessons for resolving this one. He reviews A Moment of Crisis, which focuses on the role former President Jimmy Carter played in that 1993-1994 confrontation.

Our news section includes coverage of the effort to restore negotiations aimed at ending the North Korean crisis and tracks other developments from Senate approval of the U.S.-Indian nuclear trade deal to efforts to advance a global conventional arms trade treaty.

December 2006 Bibliography

Of Special Interest

Arms Control Association, The 2006 Biological Weapons Convention Review Conference: Articles and Interviews on Tackling the Threats Posed by Biological Weapons, November 2006, 68 pp.

Handicap International, Fatal Footprint: The Global Human Impact of Cluster Munitions, November 2006, 59 pp.

JASON, Pit Lifetime, The MITRE Corporation, November 20, 2006, 17 pp.

Johnson, Rebecca, Nicola Butler and Stephen Pullinger, Worse Than Irrelevant? British Nuclear Weapons in the 21 st Century, Acronym Institute, November 22, 2006, 75 pp.

Kristensen, Hans M., Robert S. Norris and Matthew G. McKinzie, Chinese Nuclear Forces and U.S. Nuclear War Planning, The Federation of American Scientists and The Natural Resources Defense Council, November 2006, 261 pp.

Perkovich, George, “Democratic Bomb”: Failed Strategy, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Policy Brief, November 2006, 8 pp.

Steinmeier, Frank-Walter, and Støre, Jonas Gahr, “Two Sides of the Same Coin: Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Disarmament,” Frankfurter Rundschau, November 11, 2006.

I. Strategic Arms

Arieff, Irwin, “Annan Fears World Paralysis on Nuclear Arms Threat,” Reuters, November 29, 2006.

Arnold, John, “Nuke Cores Should Last; Study Brings Bush Plan into Question,” Albuquerque Journal, November 30, 2006, p. A1.

Blair, Bruce G., and Chen, Yali, “The Fallacy of Nuclear Primacy,” China Security, Autumn 2006, p. 51.

Associated Press, “Putin: Russia Must Maintain Nuclear Capability Guaranteeing Destruction of Any Aggressor,” November, 16, 2006.

Brown, Colin, “Blix vs. Blair (But This Time it is Over Our Weapons of Mass Destruction),” The Independent, November 27, 2006.

Department of State, Annual Report on Implementation of the Moscow Treaty, October 2006, 5 pp.

Hebert, H. Josef, “Study Shows Plutonium in Warheads Last Longer Than Expected,” Associated Press, November 30, 2006.

Hodge, Nathan, “US Commences Warhead Upgrade for Minuteman Missiles,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, November 22, 2006, p. 7.

Hoffman, Ian, “Bomb Scientists Say Old Nukes Not Enough,” Inside Bay Area, November 30, 2006.

Hoffman, Ian, “Report Undercuts Administration Push for More Nukes,” Inside Bay Area, November 29, 2006.

Hoffman, Ian, “New, Safer Nuke Re-Enters U.S. Arsenal,” Inside Bay Area, November 27, 2006.

Kortunov, Sergei, “ Russia Must Remain a Major Nuclear Power,” RIA Novosti, November 29, 2006.

Lewis, J A C, “France Test Fires Nuclear Missile,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, November 15, 2006, p. 5.

Mendelsohn, Jack, “The New Threats: Nuclear Amnesia, Nuclear Legitimacy,” Current History, November 2006, p. 385.

Natural Resources Defense Council, “Where the Bombs Are, 2006,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November/December 2006, p. 57.

Pincus, Walter, “Plutonium Lifespan in U.S. Weapons Much Longer Than Thought,” The Washington Post, November 30, 2006, p. A9.

RIA Novosti, “ Russia Prioritizes Strategic Forces on Security Agenda,” November 16, 2006.

RIA Novosti, “ Russia to Buy 17 ICBMs in 2007,” November 17, 2006.

Safranchuk, Ivan, “Beyond MAD,” China Security, Autumn 2006, p. 90.

Sterngold, James, “Summary of Classified Plutonium Study Released; Feinstein, Others See Less Urgency for New Nuclear Warheads,” The San Francisco Chronicle, November 30, 2006, p. A10.

Sterngold, James, “Doubts Cast on Need for New Nukes; Study Finds Plutonium May Last Twice as Long as Expected,” The San Francisco Chronicle, November 15, 2006, p. A13.

II. Nuclear Proliferation

Broad, William J., “The Struggle for Iraq: U.S. Web Archive is Said to Reveal Nuclear Primer,” The New York Times, November 3, 2006, p. A1.

Butler, Kenley, Sammy Salama, and Leonard S. Spector, “The Khan Network: Where is the Justice?” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November/December 2006, p. 25.

Costa, Keith J., “Commission: China Hampers International Nonproliferation Efforts,” Inside Missile Defense, November 8, 2006, p. 3.

Hibbs, Mark, “The Unmaking of a Nuclear Smuggler,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November/December 2006, p. 35.

Langewiesche, William, “How to Get a Nuclear Bomb,” The Atlantic Monthly, December 2006, p. 80.

Linzer, Dafna, “Optimism Turns to Anxiety on Curbing Nuclear Arms,” The Washington Post, November 3, 2006, p. A23.

Linzer, Dafna, “ U.S. Shuts Web Site that Contained Nuclear Details,” The Washington Post, November 3, 2006, p. A8.

O’Hanlon, Michael, “What if a Nuclear-Armed State Collapses?” Current History, November 2006, p. 379.

Sokolski, Henry, “Too Speculative? Getting Serious about Nuclear Terrorism,” The New Atlantis, Fall 2006, p. 119.

Squassoni, Sharon, India and Iran: WMD Proliferation Activities, Congressional Research Service, November 8, 2006, 6 pp.

Yamaguchi, Mari, “ Japan Capable of Making Nuclear Weapons,” Associated Press, November 30, 2006.

Zimmerman, Peter D., and Lewis, Jeffrey G., “The Bomb in the Backyard,” Foreign Policy, November/December 2006, p. 33.


Costa, Keith J., and Bishnoi, Rati, “Senate OKs Bill to Implement Landmark U.S.-India Nuclear Trade Deal,” Inside Missile Defense, November 22, 2006, p. 1.

Gentleman, Amelia, “ U.S. Senate Vote on Nuclear Deals Draws Guarded Praise by India,” The New York Times, November 18, 2006, p. A6.

Linzer, Dafna, “Senate Backs White House Plan for India Nuclear Deal,” The Washington Post, November 17, 2006, p. A14.

Linzer, Dafna, “Lawmakers Concerned About U.S.-Indian Nuclear Trade Deal,” The Washington Post, November 15, 2006, p. A14.

Milhollin, Gary, “The US-India Nuclear Pact: Bad for Security,” Current History, November 2006, p. 371.

Mistry, Dinshaw, and Ganguly, Sumit, “The US-India Nuclear Pact: A Good Deal,” Current History, November 2006, p. 375.

Mukherjee, Krittivas, “ India Nuclear Deal Likely Final by May: U.S. Envoy,” Reuters, November 29, 2006.

Rajesh, Y. P., and Giacomo, Carol, “ India Cautiously Welcomes U.S. Nuclear Vote,” Reuters, November 17, 2006.

Stephenson, John, and Tynan, Peter, Will the US-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative Light India? Dalberg Global Development Advisors, November 13, 2006, 57 pp.

Wonacott, Peter, “ India Nuclear Pact May Create a Broad Opening for U.S. Firms,” The Wall Street Journal, November 18-19, 2006, p. A4.


Albright, David and Shire, Jacqueline, Latest IAEA Report on Iran: Continued Progress on Cascade Operations, No New Cooperation with the IAEA, The Institute for Science and International Security, November 14, 2006, 2 pp.

Broad, William J., “As Iran Seeks Aid, Atom Agency Faces Quandary,” The New York Times, November 19, 2006, p. A1.

Center for Defense Information, UN Security Council and IAEA Grapple with Iranian Nuclear Defiance, November 23, 2006.

Broad, William J., and Fathi, Nazila, “ Iran’s Leader Cites Progress on Nuclear Plans,” The New York Times, November 15, 2006, p. A8.

Clawson, Patrick and Eisenstadt, Michael, Forcing Hard Choices on Tehran: Raising the Costs of Iran’s Nuclear Program, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, November 2006, 56 pp.

Dreazen, Yochi J., and King Jr., Neil, “Why Iran Shares the U.S. Spotlight with Iraq,” The Wall Street Journal, November 14, 2006, p. A4.

Feinstein, Lee and Levi, Michael, “To Persuade Iran, Back Talk with Sanctions,” International Herald Tribune, November 10, 2006.

Freedman, Robert O., Russia, Iran and the Nuclear Question: The Putin Record,” Strategic Studies Institute, November 2006, 54 pp.

Fox, Jon, “ Iran Nuclear Bomb Imminent, Former CIA Chief Says,” Global Security Newswire, November 16, 2006.

Hassan, Hussein D., Iranian Nuclear Sites, Congressional Research Service, November 13, 2006, 4 pp.

Hoagland, Jim, “Ping Pong Diplomacy for Iran,” The Washington Post, November 5, 2006, p. B7.

International Atomic Energy Agency, Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran, November 14, 2006, 4 pp.

Karimi, Nasser, “Ahmadinejad says Iran will be Self-Sufficient in Nuclear Fuel by Next Year,” Associated Press, November 20, 2006.

Karimi, Nasser, “Iranian Ayatollah Remains Firm on Nukes,” Associated Press, November 8, 2006.

Kerr, Paul, “Divided From Within,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November/December 2006, p. 17.

Leopold, Evelyn “ Russia Seeks to Calm Europe on Iran Nuclear Arms,” Reuters, November 9, 2006.

Muravchik, Joshua, “Bomb Iran,” Los Angeles Times, November 19, 2006.

Pollack, Kenneth M., “Bringing Iran to the Bargaining Table,” Current History, November 2006, p. 365.

Shire, Jacqueline, and Albright, David, Iran’s Nuclear Program: Flawed House Intelligence Committee Report Should be Amended or Withdrawn, The Institute for Science and International Security, November 9, 2006, 4 pp.

Sokolski, Henry, “Here’s What to do if Iran Really Starts to Play Tough,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, November 14, 2006.

Takeyh, Ray, “Confronting Iran: Take Ahmadinejad with a Grain of Salt,” Los Angeles Times, November 19, 2006.

United Press International, “UN Nuclear Probe of Iran Hampered by Blind Spots,” November 28, 2006.

Williams, Stuart, “ Iran Wants 60,000 Centrifuges in Nuclear Drive: Ahmadinejad,” Agence France-Presse, November 14, 2006.


Karpin, Michael, “Will Israel Join the Nuclear Club?” Haaretz, November 24, 2006.

North Korea

Associated Press, “Ex-U.N. Weapons Inspector Blix Says Matter of Time Before North Korea Perfects Nuke Bomb,” November 17, 2006.

Bennett, Bruce, “ North Korea Policy Options,” United Press International, November 24, 2006.

Bliss, Jeff, “ N. Korea Cargo-Screening May Miss Nuclear Contraband,” Bloomberg News, November 3, 2006.

Carpenter, Ted Galen, “Nuclear Neighbors Might Thwart N. Korea,” The Chicago Sun Times, November 11, 2006.

Cooper, Helene. “ North Korea Talks: Back to the Table, Some Reluctantly,” The New York Times, November 2, 2006, p. A8.

Cooper, Helene, and Sanger, David E., “ U.S. Signals New Incentives for North Korea,” The New York Times, November 19, 2006, p. A8.

Dreazen, Yochi J., and Ramstad, Evan, “ U.S. Stance on North Korea Hits Hurdles at Summit,” The Wall Street Journal, November 20, 2006, p. A5.

Kahn, Joseph, and Cooper, Helene, “ North Korea Will Resume Nuclear Talks,” The New York Times, November 1, 2006, p. A1.

Kralev, Nicholas, “N. Korea Agrees to Six-Party Talks,” The Washington Times, November 1, 2006, p. A1.

Mathewson, Judy, “Carter Says Claim that North Korea Cheated is False,” Bloomberg News, November 3, 2006.

Nabeshima, Keizo, “What are Kim’s Objectives?” The Japan Times, November 14, 2006.

Nye, Joseph S., “Nonproliferation after North Korea,” The Washington Post, November 5, 2006, p. B7.

Paulus, Andreas L., and Müller, Jörn, Security Council Resolution 1718 on North Korea’s Nuclear Test, American Society of International Law Insight, November 3, 2006.

Ramberg, Bennett, “Why North Korea Loves the Bomb: Its Nuclear Weapons Program Plays a Major Role in Propping up Kim Jong Il’s Repressive Regime,” Los Angeles Times, November 1, 2006, p. A19.

Ramstad, Evan, “ South Korea Imposes Package of Mild Penalties on the North,” The Wall Street Journal, November 14, 2006, p. A6.

Sigal, Leon V., “The Lessons of North Korea’s Test,” Current History, November 2006, p. 363.

Valencia, Mark J., “Resolution on Korea: Now Comes the Hard Part,” Asia Times, November 7, 2006.

Zhang, Liangui, “Coping with a Nuclear North Korea,” China Security, Autumn 2006, p. 2.

III. Nonproliferation

Coleman, Joseph, “IAEA Chief Urges Ban on Nuclear Tests,” Associated Press, November 30, 2006.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, Global Partnership Program: Making a Difference, 2006, 30 pp.

Heinrich, Mark, “ U.S. Urges Europe to Prevent WMD Proliferation,” Reuters, November 8, 2006.

Marsh, Gerald E., and Stanford, George S., “Batteries Included: How to Spread Nuclear Power without Sharing Nuclear Know-How,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November/December 2006, p. 19.

Perkovich, George, “The End of the Nonproliferation Regime?” Current History, November 2006, p. 355.

RIA-Novosti, “ Russia Scraps 145 out of 197 Decommissioned Nuclear Submarines,” November 29, 2006.

Schwellenbach, Nick, and Stockton, Peter D. H., “Nuclear Lockdown,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November/December 2006, p. 45.

Sprenger, Sebastian, “Global Initiative Members Green-Light Governing Principles in Morocco,” Inside Missile Defense, November 8, 2006, p. 5.

Wier, Anthony and Bunn, Matthew, “Bombs That Won’t Go Off,” The Washington Post, November 19, 2006, p. B7.

The Yomiuri Shimbun , “Poll: 80% Support Upholding Japan’s Nonnuclear Principles,” November 21, 2006.

IV. Missiles and Missile Defense

Agence France-Presse, “ Pakistan Test Fires Nuclear-Capable Missile,” November 29, 2006.

Bousso, Ron, “ Israel Seeks New Technology to Shoot Down Rockets from Gaza,” Agence France-Presse, November 23, 2006.

Coyle, Philip E., “The Limits and Liabilities of Missile Defense,” Current History, November 2006, p. 391.

Deutsche Press-Agentur, “ India Successfully Conducts First Missile Interceptor Test,” November 27, 2006.

Karimi, Nasser, “ Iran Test Fires 3 New Missiles in Gulf,” Associated Press, November 3, 2006.

Kyodo News, “Aso, Rice to Put Missile Shield on Fast-Track Status,” November 17, 2006.

Liang, John, “Skeptics Call for Reining in Missile Defense Spending,” Inside Missile Defense, November 22, 2006, p. 1.

Liang, John, “DOD: Should BMDS Programs Get High-Production Priority?” Inside Missile Defense, November 8, 2006, p. 1.

RIA-Novosti, “Causes of Bulava Missile Test Failure Still Unknown: Space Agency,” November 28, 2006.

Roosevelt, Ann, “NATO, SAIC, Sign Contract for Theater Missile Defense Test Bed,” Defense Daily, November 29, 2006.

Rubin, Uzi, The Global Reach of Iran’s Ballistic Missiles, Institute for National Security Studies Memorandum 86, November 2006, 48 pp.

Sieff, Martin, “The Geopolitics of Japan’s BMD,” United Press International, November 24, 2006.

V. Chemical and Biological Arms

Associated Press, “Russian Officials Deny Report of Accident at Chemical Weapons Reprocessing Site,” November 23, 2006.

Center for Strategic and International Studies, The Biological Weapons Threat and Nonproliferation Options: A Survey of Senior U.S. Decision Makers and Policy Shapers, November 2006, 43 pp.

Eisler, Peter, “Pentagon Delays Chemical Weapons Disposal,” USA Today, November 20, 2006.

Fox, Jon,“ Russia, U.S. Discuss New Path for CW Disposal Plant,” Global Security Newswire, November 2, 2006.

Ha, K. Oanh, “Chemical’s Legacy of Suffering: Many Say U.S. Should Help Victims of Wartime Poison,” Mercury News, November 21, 2006.

Harrell, Eben, “Worlds’ Most Deadly Bugs…In the Hands of Terrorists,” The Scotsman News, November 14, 2006.

Rosenberg, Barbara Hatch, “Watching While They Work,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November/December 2006, p. 64.

Ruppe, David, “Biological Weapons Threat Has Shifted, U.S. Official Says,” Global Security Newswire, November 10, 2006.

Schneidmiller, Chris, “Nations Seek CW Treaty Relief,” Global Security Newswire, November 28, 2006.

Stringer, David, “Bid to Buy Chemical Weapons is Alleged,” Associated Press, November 14, 2006.

Tinger, Brooks, “More Focus Needed on Aftermath of Bio-Attacks,” Defense News, November 6, 2006, p. 26.

United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, Disarmament Forum: Toward a Stronger BTWC, 2006, No. 3, 63 pp.

VI. Conventional Arms

Associated Press, “Civilians the Overwhelming Victims of Cluster Bombs, Report Says,” International Herald Tribune, November 2, 2006.

Beehner, Lionel, The Campaign to Ban Cluster Bombs, Council on Foreign Relations Backgrounder, November 21, 2006.

Beehner, Lionel, Russia-Iran Arms Trade, Council on Foreign Relations Backgrounder, November 1, 2006.

Bender, Bryan, “US is Top Purveyor on Weapons Sales List,” The Boston Globe, November 13, 2006.

Berrigan, Frida, “United States Rides Weapons Bonanza Wave” Foreign Policy in Focus, November 16, 2006.

Blagov, Sergei, “ Russia Eyes Global Lead in Arms Exports,” ISN Security Watch, November 24, 2006.

Farah, Douglas, and Braun, Stephen, “The Merchant of Death,” Foreign Policy, November/December 2006, p. 53.

Forero, Juan, “For Colombians, A Growing Peril from Land Mines,” The Washington Post, November 2, 2006, p. A1.

Hartung, William D., “Pushing Democracy, or Arms?” The National Interest, November 3, 2006.

Human Rights Watch, “ Norway Opens Way to Cluster Munition Treaty,” November 17, 2006.

Kahaner, Larry, “Weapon of Mass Destruction,” The Washington Post, November 26, 2006, p. B1.

Klapper, Bradley S., “Red Cross Steps up Campaign Against Cluster Bombs, Urges Ban,” Associated Press, November 6, 2006.

Leigh, David, “Saudi Arms Deal Inquiry Closes in on Secret Papers,” The Guardian, November 20, 2006.

Leigh, David, and Evans, Rob, “BAE Secret Millions Linked to Arms Broker,” The Guardian, November 29, 2006.

Lewis, J A C, “France Posts Arms Sale Upturn,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, November 1, 2006, p. 16.

Lynch, Colum, “U.N. Report Cites Outside Military Aid to Somalia’s Islamic Forces,” The Washington Post, November 15, 2006, p. A13.

Myre, Greg, “Israeli General Orders Lebanon Inquiry,” The New York Times, November 20, 2006, p. A8.

Norton-Taylor, Robert, “Civilians Main Cluster Bomb Victims,” The Guardian, November 3, 2006.

Schroeder, Matthew, and Lamb, Guy, “The Illicit Arms Trade in Africa: A Global Enterprise,” African Analyst, Third Quarter 2006, p. 69.

Sengupta, Kim, “Study Says Almost All Cluster Bomb Victims are Children,” The Independent, November 3, 2006.

Stohl, Rachel, and Murphy, Tim, U.S. Arms Still Dominate International Market, Russia Leader to Developing World, Center for Defense Information, November 15, 2006.

Stohl, Rachel, Matthew Schroeder and Dan Smith, The Small Arms Trade: A Beginner’s Guide, One World Publishers, November 2006.

Wayne, Leslie, “Foreign Sales by U.S. Arms Makers Doubled in a Year,” The New York Times, November 11, 2006, p. C3.

Weinberger, Sharon, “Seller’s Market: The U.S. Arms Industry is Experiencing an Unexpected Boom Year with a Near Record-Setting $21 Billion in Foreign Military Sales,” Aviation Week & Space Technology, November 20, 2006, p. 42.

Williams, Jody, Shirin Ebadi, Wangari Maathai, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Betty Williams, and Mairead Corrigan Maguire, “Ban the Bomblets,” Ottawa Citizen, November 15, 2006, p. A17.

VII. U.S. Policy

Congressional Budget Office, Long-Term Implications of Current Defense Plans: Summary Update for Fiscal Year 2007, October 2006, 32 pp.

Gertz, Bill, “ U.S. Speeds Attack Plans for N. Korea: Pushed by Nuke Test, Pentagon Targets Plant,” The Washington Times, November 3, 2006, p. A1.

Hersh, Seymour M., “The Next Act: Is a Damaged Administration Less Likely to Attack Iran, or More?” The New Yorker, November 27, 2006.

Slackman, Michael, and Sanger, David E., “Envisioning U.S. Talks with Iran and Syria,” The New York Times, November 19, 2006, p. 1, Section 4.

VIII. Space

Anderson, Hil, “Space Cost Controls Urged,” United Press International, November 28, 2006.

Associated Press, “Report: Russian Official Sharply Criticizes Assertive New U.S. Space Policy,” November 29, 2006.

Government Accountability Office, Space Acquisitions: DOD Needs to Take More Action to Address Unrealistic Initial Cost Estimates of Space Systems, November 2006, 56 pp.

Johnson, Rebecca, Europe’s Space Policies and Their Relevance to the EU’s Security and Defence Policy, European Parliament Policy Department External Affairs, November 2006, 70 pp.

Liang, John, “GAO: DOD Should Address ‘Unrealistic’ Space System Cost Estimates,” Inside Missile Defense, November 22, 2006, p. 1.

Scott, William B., “Space Control Redux,” Aviation Week & Space Technology, November 6, 2006, p. 54.

IX. Other

Baker, Deborah, “Report: Los Alamos Security Flawed,” Associated Press, November 29, 2006.

Beeston, Richard, “Six Arab States Join Rush to go Nuclear,” The Times, November 4, 2006.

Interfax-AVN, “Defense Minister Says Russia ‘Duped’ by NATO over Expansion,” November 1, 2006.

Linzer, Dafna and Pincus, Walter, “Taliban, Al-Qaeda Resurge in Afghanistan, CIA Says,” The Washington Post, November 16, 2006, p. A22.

Shanahan, Dennis, and Kerr, Joseph, “Howard to Defy US on Nuclear Plant,” The Australian, November 11, 2006.

Vartabedian, Ralph, “Breach at Lab Called Significant,” Los Angeles Times, November 2, 2006.

Books of Note

India’s Nuclear Bomb and National Security
By Karsten Fey, Taylor & Francis Books, August 2006, 208 pp.

Karsten Fey, a research fellow at the Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals, probes the motives and dynamics of India’s nuclear policymaking by examining more than 705 editorial and opinion articles published in India’s major newspapers from 1986 to 2005. Fey argues that considerations besides security drove India’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, downplaying, for example, the role played by attempts to counter China’s nuclear arsenal. Rather than focusing on security issues alone, Fey says other factors played a significant role, including India’s pursuit of international recognition and the strong, often obsessive sensitivities of India’s elite regarding “acts of discrimination” or “ignorance” by the West toward their country.

Japan’s Nuclear Disarmament Policy and the U.S. Security Umbrella
By Anthony DiFilippo, Palgrave-Macmillian, October 2006, 288 pp.

This book appears at a particularly timely moment as North Korea’s Oct. 9 nuclear test has prompted renewed debate in Japan over whether Tokyo should consider developing nuclear weapons. Until now, Japan, the only country ever to be attacked with nuclear weapons, has been a global leader in efforts to abolish nuclear weapons. Indeed, Japan has championed nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation even as the U.S. nuclear umbrella has played a vital role in maintaining Japan’s security throughout the Cold War and into the 21st century. Tokyo has also become a “virtual nuclear-weapon state,” able to produce such weapons quickly if it so chooses. Anthony DiFilippo, a professor of sociology at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, examines this paradox. He provides an in-depth analysis regarding the internal and external dynamics shaping Japan’s international nuclear policy, worldwide counterproliferation efforts, and technological advancements in its civil nuclear program and the prospects that it will develop its own nuclear deterrent.

Verifying Treaty Compliance: Limiting Weapons of Mass Destruction and Monitoring Kyoto Protocol Provisions
By Rudolf Avenhaus et al., eds., Springer, July 2006, 629 pp.

This volume of expert analyses includes a comprehensive overview of arms control treaties, a unified framework for analyzing their performance, and an approach for improving the structure and operation of existing and future treaties. Based on results from meetings of the European Safeguards Research and Development Association’s Working Group on Verification Technologies and Methodologies conducted over a two-year period, the volume seeks to lay the groundwork for forming a specialized discipline in compliance verification. It aims to fill the gap in existing literature on arms control, which the editors say either focuses on political analysis or technological tools. Their verification framework brings together treaty objectives, operation, monitoring, and evaluation, as well as proposed improvements to the treaty process. Such an interdisciplinary approach, they say, would build confidence in international treaties, encourage the establishment of binding commitments from member states, and enable appropriate compliance verification, all critical to stemming the spread of sensitive technologies that can be used to produce weapons of mass destruction.

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India's Nuclear Bomb and National Security. By Karsten Fey, Taylor & Francis Books, August 2006, 208 pp.

Japan's Nuclear Disarmament Policy and the U.S. Security Umbrella. By Anthony DiFilippo, Palgrave-Macmillian, October 2006, 288 pp.

Verifying Treay Compliance: Limiting Weapons of Mass Destruction and Monitoring Kyoto Protocol Provisions. By Rudolf Avenhaus et al., eds., Springer, July 2006, 629 pp.

The Conference on Disarmament: Means of Rejuvenation

Michael Krepon

After a long and successful run, the Conference on Disarmament (CD) has fallen on hard times. The negotiating forum that has produced treaties setting norms against nuclear testing and chemical and biological weapons has, for the last 10 years, sat on its hands. CD ambassadors who once worked on deadline to hammer out key provisions governing on-site inspections and schedules of prohibited substances now moonlight on other assignments in Geneva.

The CD’s work agenda is in dispute, and its procedures are knotted by the rule that all matters must be agreed by consensus.

The consensus rule, which has remained unchanged since this forum originated as the Ten Nation Committee on Disarmament, has become unwieldy in a body consisting of 65 members. In effect, the CD has outgrown its mission. As the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission chaired by Hans Blix concluded earlier this year, it makes little sense for a single country to prevent all others from negotiating something that could help make the world a safer place.[1]

The consensus rule is a vestige of the Cold War and was originally designed to allow one superpower to veto the nefarious designs of the other. It has since become more widely employed by other nations, mostly those with nuclear weapons or nuclear ambitions. The CD’s rules of procedure have thus become yet another reason to rue nuclear proliferation. We cannot, however, limit the blame for the CD’s inaction on its anachronistic rules of procedure. In exceptional cases, these procedures can be circumvented. For example, in 1996 the CD maneuvered around an Indian roadblock to present the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) to the UN General Assembly, where it was overwhelmingly approved and opened for signature.

A second factor contributing to the stalemate at the CD has been the tectonic shift in international relations after the demise of the Soviet Union. The CD and its most important accomplishments were essentially products of the Cold War. Even the two major treaties produced by the CD that postdated the fall of the Soviet Union—the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the CTBT—were deeply rooted in bipolar politics. The first superpower discussions about a test ban occurred during the Eisenhower administration. The lineage of the CWC dates back to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The key negotiating breakthroughs for both agreements, relating to intrusive inspections, can be carbon-dated to the second Reagan administration, when Gorbachev overturned sclerotic Soviet negotiating practices.

After two of the Cold War’s major pieces of unfinished business were completed, the CD became rudderless. Its remaining agenda items have been fixed in amber, even after new challenges became more evident following the terrorist attacks of September 11. The champions of the traditional agenda have lacked clout, while the champion of the Cold War has lacked interest in new multilateral treaties. The CD has thus been orphaned during the “unipolar moment,” to use U.S. columnist Charles Krauthammer’s memorable phrase, when U.S. leaders enjoy unparalleled power, are beset by new challenges, and are disinterested in agreements that would constrain military options. In this new world, “democratic realists” such as Krauthammer have chosen “power over paper.” In their view, the negotiation of multilateral treaties would simply help weaker states tie Gulliver down. Besides, treaties are for well-behaved states; the problems of international relations lie elsewhere.[2]

A central tenet of this mode of thinking is that the world remains divided, this time between responsible states— U.S. friends and allies—and evildoers. Because these two camps operate by very different rules, the Bush administration postulated and sought to enforce separate norms for each camp. The Bush team has strongly asserted, for example, that responsible states should retain the right to hold and modernize nuclear weapons, rights that should not be granted to evildoers. This is a profound shift in thinking from the global nonproliferation system embodied in the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and reflected in the previous work of the CD.

The global nonproliferation system could only be built on norms that applied to all, especially in a world divided by nuclear weapons. The norm of nonproliferation and the norm of nuclear disarmament had to be intricately linked in the NPT in order to bridge this divide. The NPT could not be sustained and the basis for constraining outliers could not be maintained unless these norms applied to all states. The unity of norms also had been central to the functioning of the CD when it was negotiating multilateral treaties that reinforced the NPT.

The norms of nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament are now faltering for many troubling reasons, and the Bush administration is entirely correct in seeking new compensatory steps to halt dangerous trends. But these efforts are undercut by the administration’s attempt to seek one set of rules for good guys and another set of rules for bad actors. There most certainly are responsible states and dangerous ones, although disagreements persist as to which states fall into which category. We are wise to distinguish responsible states from dangerous ones by comparing their actions against universal norms; we invite trouble by trying to impose different norms for friends and potential adversaries.

One size has never fit all proliferation cases, but every case becomes more intractable by trying to impose two sets of rules governing proliferation. At the very time when U.S. military dominance could have been effectively used to reaffirm global norms of nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament, the Bush administration has made hard proliferation problems even more difficult to reverse.

To be sure, the loss of U.S. interest in the CD as a means of reinforcing the global nonproliferation system began during the Clinton administration. Once the CTBT was negotiated, the Clinton team neglected follow-on negotiations at the CD on space security. This disinterest turned to disdain in the Bush administration. Now the correlation between the global nonproliferation system and the CD is very weak, as is evident by the Bush team’s continued expressions of fealty for the former and the CD’s weak standing in Geneva.

The Bush team has adamantly ruled out the mere discussion of space security as a CD agenda item, which, in turn, enables other states to rule out a negotiating mandate on a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT). The Bush administration has taken the offensive by charging other states as hostage takers at the CD. This amounts to blaming the victim, however, as the CD’s logjam begins with the administration’s rejection of talks on space security and its a priori assertion that an FMCT is unverifiable. No other nation at the CD has embraced these positions although some might, if and when the CD actually applies itself to these topics. In the meantime, the administration remains isolated in Geneva, as well as at the United Nations, where the most recent resolution calling for space security initiatives was approved by a vote of 166-1-2. The no vote came from the United States; Israel and Cote d’Ivoire abstained.

Where does the CD go from here? The Tokyo Forum, a group of international experts convened by the Japanese government, concluded in 1999 that:

the Conference on Disarmament should suspend its operations unless it can revise its procedures, update its work program, and carry out purposeful work. It adheres to an agenda that has long been outdated but cannot be changed for lack of a consensus to do so. The consensus rule, even on minor procedural matters, is now causing perpetual deadlock. Consensus among CD members should not be necessary to begin or, indeed, conclude a multilateral convention. If a country does not like a treaty, it does not have to sign it. The structure of the CD’s groupings of states, based on outdated Cold War alignments, also needs to be changed to better reflect the contemporary world.[3]

It is a sad commentary on the nonworkings of the CD that, seven years later, these remedies remain largely unexplored. The CD is unlikely to return to its former role anytime soon. Nonetheless, there are still ways to derive good works from diplomats posted there. Creative diplomacy seeks opportunity out of adversity. By this measurement, opportunities abound.

One consequence of the Bush administration’s dualistic approach to proliferation has been to offer India what Washington hopes will be a single-country exception to the rules of nuclear commerce established by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Because the NSG also operates by consensus, some of its members might be inclined to attach conditions to the proposed U.S.-Indian deal before providing their consent. These conditions could either have further negative or some positive effect on proliferation. If some NSG members insist that, as a condition of their support, the United States drop its opposition to talks on space security in the CD, negotiations could also begin on an FMCT. This outcome could at least attach something positive to a deal that is likely to further weaken global norms against proliferation.

Space security and the fissile material cutoff are extremely complicated subjects. Even if the CD continues to be deadlocked, coalitions of the willing, including nongovernmental as well as governmental experts, could convene periodically in Geneva to lay the groundwork for agreements in both areas. Future agreements need not be confined to treaties, which take prolonged periods of time to negotiate and enter into force. Less-formal agreements that could be implemented more quickly than treaties might be considered by expert groups for subsequent consideration by the CD.

The CD has gingerly begun down this path, with annual workshops on space security initiated by Canada, China, and Russia with the assistance of the UN Institute for Disarmament Research. One worthwhile idea discussed at these workshops is creating a code of conduct for responsible spacefaring countries, which could serve as a near-term instrument to reinforce norms that prevent dangerous practices in outer space.[4] The pace of these deliberations might well be quickened with well-structured workshops between technical experts and diplomats on the key elements of a prospective code.

Global norms supporting nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament are undercut by ongoing fissile material production for nuclear weapons. It is therefore important for the CD to conclude an FMCT, but reaching agreement on such a treaty will be an arduous task. The governments that are most needed to sign up— India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, and Pakistan—may also be the most resistant to such a treaty. Monitoring arrangements for a cutoff agreement will be sensitive and far from simple. Verification workshops at the CD would be helpful to widen the circle of those familiar with these challenges.

A coalition of the willing could also pursue interim steps while awaiting a formal cutoff treaty. One step would be for the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, along with India, Pakistan, and perhaps Israel, to discuss a voluntary moratorium on fissile material production for nuclear weapons. France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States have publicly announced such moratoria. China has privately but not publicly said that it has stopped producing such material. A seven- or eight-party discussion might focus on how the current moratoria could be extended and how the parties might gain sufficient confidence that pledges are being honored. These talks could take place in parallel with CD deliberations.

Other workshops at the CD could be devoted to learning about cooperative threat reduction programs, such as how to improve border security to intercept the transport of dangerous materials. The CD also could host regular training sessions for the implementation of international codes of conduct, such as UN Security Council Resolution 1540.

These informal agenda items would not require consensus. Although modest, they could prove useful, leading to constructive governmental/nongovernmental partnerships and paving the way for more ambitious agenda items. The CD has had a distinguished past. With suitable adaptation, it could still have a useful future.

Michael Krepon is co-founder of the Henry L. Stimson Center and author of Cooperative Threat Reduction, Missile Defense, and the Nuclear Future (2002).


1. Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, “Weapons of Terror, Freeing the World of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Weapons, 2006, p. 180 (recommendation 58).

2. Charles Krauthammer, “The Unipolar Moment,” Foreign Affairs Vol. 70, No. 1, (Winter 1990-1991), pp. 23–33; Charles Krauthammer, “The Unipolar Moment Revisted,” The National Interest 70 (Winter 2002/2003), pp. 5-18; Charles Krauthammer, “In Defense of Democratic Realism,” The National Interest 77 (Fall 2004), pp. 1-12.

3. “Facing Nuclear Dangers: An Action Plan for the 21st Century: The Report of the Tokyo Forum for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament,” July 25, 1999. The author participated in the Tokyo Forum’s deliberations.

4. Michael Krepon with Michael Katz-Hyman, “Space Weapons and Proliferation,” Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 12, No. 2 (July 2005), pp. 323-341.

The Conference on Disarmament: Getting Back to Business

Ambassador Paul Meyer

The 65-member-state Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva last negotiated a treaty in 1996, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and for the intervening decade has been engaged in on-and-off discussions that often seemed remote from its mandate as the world’s “sole multilateral disarmament negotiating forum.”

This disappointing state of affairs in turn reflects CD members’ inability to agree on what issues they should take up and how they are to be treated.

For years, the CD has continued with the same underlying agenda, which consists of seven broad, substantive items ranging from “cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament” to “transparency in armaments.” Yet, it has failed to agree on a program of work that would translate the general categories of the agenda into a plan for tackling specific issues.

At the root of this failure are differing national priorities, interests, and threat perceptions among the CD member states. To break the logjam, several proposals have been put forward over the years for a CD work program, all entailing activity on four core issues: nuclear disarmament, a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT), the prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS), and negative security assurances, which are guarantees by nuclear-weapon states not to threaten or use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states. Yet, so far no proposal has received the general acceptance that this consensus-based body requires.

Developing countries have consistently emphasized the need for nuclear disarmament while developed countries have cited conclusion of an FMCT as their top goal. Russia and China consider PAROS to be their priority issue. The differences are exacerbated when some states insist that only their preferred item should figure in an eventual CD work program. For instance, the United States has insisted on limiting the work program to an FMCT while Russia and China demand attention to PAROS. The United States decries this Sino-Russian “linkage” as others are equally vocal about the necessity to ensure that their priorities are also accommodated. Whether one prefers to speak of “linkage” or “respect for the concerns of others,” it has long been evident that, in a body that follows a strict consensus rule for decision-making, it will not be feasible to obtain agreement on a program of work that does not at least address these four core issues.

Frustration over the impasse at the CD has been steadily mounting in the wake of the failed nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference in 2005 and the absence of any agreed text on nonproliferation and disarmament in the UN Summit Outcome document later that same year. In response, the six presidents of the CD for 2006 ( Poland, South Korea, Romania, Russia, Senegal, and Slovakia) launched an initiative to have a “common platform” to govern CD activity during the year. Previously, each president had acted independently during his or her tenure. The so-called six presidents’ (P6) initiative established a timetable for 2006 that included one week of “focused structured discussion” for each of the seven substantive items on the CD agenda.

The P6 initiative was a major experiment and yielded some distinct benefits. It provided much needed continuity among all six presidents. It identified specific times for the focused discussion, thus allowing for proper preparation, including the possibility for expert participation. As a presidential initiative, it did not require formal agreement by the conference and could simply proceed. The exchanges that did occur during the designated “theme” weeks were intense, involving in many cases experts from capitals, and generated several useful working papers that complemented the oral interventions. During a week in mid-May that focused on an FMCT, the United States tabled a draft negotiating mandate and draft treaty text. That marked an important sign of U.S. re-engagement in the conference after a protracted period in which Washington was enmeshed in an internal review of the FMCT issue and did not take a position on the question within the CD.

A swallow does not a summer make, however, or a week’s discussion a negotiating forum. Although the P6 initiative brought some benefits, it also had some clear deficiencies, which became more apparent and irksome as the year proceeded. The process only provided for one week of focused discussion per agenda item, and its rigidity did not allow work on a given topic to continue after its week in the limelight was over. It also did not differentiate between an issue such as an FMCT, which enjoys wide support and is ripe for negotiation, and an item such as “Comprehensive Program of Disarmament,” with no current proposal for action. Finally, as the P6 initiative was an informal one, there was no official status granted to the work done pursuant to it and no formal way of carrying this work forward. The prospects for next year remain wide open and in the hands of the incoming president, Ambassador Glaudine Mtshali of South Africa. Mtshali is already actively consulting with member states as to what could be done with the CD in 2007.

The view that next year’s deliberations at the CD cannot be a simple repetition of 2006 is widely held. At a minimum, many delegations would want to see a program that would provide for sustained work and a far greater utilization of the time available to the conference (the conference often meets only one or two half-days per week when it is in session). In addition, an improved program would need to differentiate between issues instead of applying an artificial equality of treatment among the different agenda items. Finally, it should allow for some official status to its proceedings so that progress is built on and appropriately recorded.

Ideally, the conference would agree next year to establish one or more subsidiary bodies to focus activity on the selected issues. Subsidiary bodies, such as ad hoc committees or working groups, would enable the various issues to be treated at their own pace, as decided by the chairs of the respective bodies, and would thus avoid the problem of the conference having to decide on an equitable allocation of time per issue. Contrary to what some suggest, nothing in the CD’s rules of procedure equate the establishment of an ad hoc committee with acceptance of a negotiating mandate. Subsidiary bodies are simply organizational tools that assist the conference in its functions.

From a Canadian perspective, a CD work program that would be both substantive and generally acceptable would have three components: a negotiating mandate for an FMCT, a discussion mandate for PAROS, and a discussion mandate for nuclear disarmament under which rubric the topic of negative security assurances could be subsumed. This would represent a manageable work program reflective of these issues’ relative state of development. Further, such a program would enable all key constituencies of the CD to claim that their priority issue was being addressed. It is worth recalling that the immediate commencement of negotiation of an FMCT and the establishment of a subsidiary body on nuclear disarmament were two specific tasks that the 2000 NPT review conference assigned to the CD. The failure to deliver on these agreements has been one of the factors contributing to the current crisis of confidence surrounding that treaty.

Similarly, the international community for many years has called for the establishment of an ad hoc committee on PAROS at the CD in a series of UN General Assembly First Committee resolutions. The most recent resolution was adopted with the support of 166 states. Only the United States stood in opposition, while two countries, Israel and Cote d’Ivoire, abstained ( Cote d’Ivoire’s representatives subsequently stating that they had intended to vote yes). These indicators demonstrate the wide political support for the CD taking action on an FMCT, nuclear disarmament, and PAROS.

The outgoing and incoming CD presidents are tasked with conducting consultations during the current intersessional period and recommending a program of work that could be agreed on. It is Canada’s hope and that of many other CD members that the consultations will yield a breakthrough in identifying a program of work that could command consensus support when the CD reconvenes next month. A promising indicator in this regard was the statement made to the CD on May 18 by Stephen Rademaker, then assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, which included the affirmation that the U.S. delegation “believes that the CD could continue to discuss other, so-called traditional issues as it conducts FMCT negotiations.” This stance appears compatible with a program of work that would combine negotiation of an FMCT with discussion of PAROS, nuclear disarmament, and possibly nuclear security assurances.

All the elements of a generally acceptable work program for the CD are at hand. All that is required now is an act of political engagement by some key member states to realize an agreement. Some have decried the “linkage” politics that they see being applied at the CD, but realistically, in a consensus-based, multilateral forum, there needs to be something for everyone if a universally acceptable outcome is to be arrived at. At the St. Petersburg summit this July, the Group of Eight states dedicated themselves to the reinvigoration of multilateral disarmament and nonproliferation fora “beginning with the Conference on Disarmament.”

Progress on multilateral arms control and disarmament is particularly critical now, given the grave challenges facing the global nonproliferation, arms control, and disarmament regime and the growing concern that we are sliding back into an anarchical nuclear world. There is nothing wrong at the CD that a little concerted diplomacy cannot fix. The alternative is another year of “going through the motions” at the CD while failing to progress on issues of real importance for the health and future viability of the regime.

Ambassador Paul Meyer is Canada’s permanent representative to the United Nations for disarmament. In that capacity, he has led Canada’s delegation to the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, to the Conference on Disarmament, and to meetings of states-parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and the Biological Weapons Convention. He has served in Canada’s Foreign Service for three decades, including as director-general of the international security bureau from 1998 to 2001. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.

The Conference on Disarmament: Time is Running Out

Stephen G. Rademaker

The problems confronting the UN Conference on Disarmament (CD) were succinctly and correctly diagnosed in the June 2005 final report of the congressionally mandated bipartisan Task Force on the United Nations:

As the multilateral negotiating body responsible for the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), and other agreements, the CD has in the past made major contributions to arms control and nonproliferation. But for nearly a decade, it has produced no new agreements and has spent most of its time wrangling over priorities and procedural matters. Having grown to 65 members and 37 observers, it has become much too unwieldy to do serious work, especially for an institution that operates by consensus. It has become a debating society, not a negotiating body. Moreover, the CD remains focused mainly on the traditional state-to-state arms control and nonproliferation agenda and has been slow to take up measures addressing the non-state actor threat. As it has become gridlocked, governments have begun to downgrade their participation in the forum.

The task force, co-chaired by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (D-Maine), was established by Congress in 2004 to develop recommendations for making the UN more effective. Its members came from across the U.S. political spectrum, ranging from former Senator Malcolm Wallop (R-Wyo.) to former Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark, a former NATO commander, and Donald McHenry, a former ambassador to the UN under President Jimmy Carter. Yet, this ideologically diverse membership had no problem coming to a consensus recommendation: “The CD has outlived its usefulness and should be abolished.”

The CD’s period of prolonged inactivity extends back to the end of 1996, when it completed work on the CTBT. That year, the CD decided to admit 23 additional countries to full membership. Although some of the new members, such as Israel, South Africa, and South Korea, are well situated to contribute positively to the work of the conference, others, such as Belarus, Iraq, North Korea, and Syria, have been less clearly committed to advancing the conference’s objectives. Eleven of the new members belong to the Nonaligned Movement (NAM), which has predisposed them to support positions taken by other NAM members, such as Pakistan and Iran, that have contributed to gridlock at the conference.

As suggested by the task force report, it is clear that the decision to expand the conference was a mistake because, under the CD’s consensus-based rules of procedure, 23 additional members equates to 23 additional potential vetoes over any proposed action by the conference. The problem was underscored again this year when Syria single-handedly prevented the adoption of a substantive final report on the conference’s work for 2006. There is an obvious lesson here for those who might be tempted to believe that the UN Security Council can be made more effective by expanding its size and increasing the number of veto-wielding members.

The CD’s consensus requirement for decision-making has proven very useful over the years. It has prevented the CD from wasting time negotiating doomed instruments by ensuring that negotiations on proposals that lacked essential support never got off the ground. On other occasions, it has given countries that have doubted a particular proposal the confidence necessary to enter negotiations knowing that they could deny consensus should their core interests be jeopardized. In these respects, the CD’s consensus requirement has strengthened the CD and enhanced its ability to produce arms control and nonproliferation instruments of enduring value.

Since 1996, however, the consensus requirement has been systematically utilized by some countries not just to block negotiations on proposals they oppose, but also to try to force negotiations on proposals opposed by others. These countries have, in other words, intentionally denied consensus in one area in order to try to create an artificial consensus in other areas. Cloaked behind euphemistic calls for a “balanced program of work” at the CD, this misapplication of the consensus requirement has amounted in practice to nothing more than hostage-taking.

The proposed fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT), which would end the production of fissile material for weapons purposes, is a meritorious idea that all CD members profess to support in principle. Yet, it has been blocked for nine years in an effort to coerce holdouts to acquiesce in the progress of other, unrelated ideas that they oppose, such as instruments regarding nuclear disarmament, negative security assurances, and the prevention of an arms race in outer space ( PAROS). In diplomatic parlance, negative security assurances are guarantees by the nuclear-weapon states that they will not use nuclear weapons against states that have formally renounced them.

Some have tried to suggest that the sole obstacle to adoption of a “balanced program of work” is the opposition of the Bush administration to PAROS, but both the United Kingdom and France have serious reservations to negotiations on nuclear disarmament or negative security assurances. Moreover, the Bush administration did not invent the U.S. policy of opposing negotiations on PAROS. The Clinton administration also was opposed to such negotiations, and it would be more than a bit strange for the Bush administration to retreat from that position, particularly given its relatively stronger commitment to missile defense as a national policy.

It is not surprising that members of the CD with strong attachment to particular ideas, such as nuclear disarmament and PAROS, would consider using all tools at their disposal, including hostage-taking, to advance their favored ideas. What is surprising is the tolerance of other countries for the tactic. Currently, the vast majority of delegations in Geneva pay lip service to the need for a “balanced program of work” at the CD. The accumulated frustration from nine years of inactivity is directed primarily not at the hostage-takers—after all, they are merely seeking to compel adoption of a “balanced program of work”—but rather at those countries that have refused to pay the ransom demanded.

This mindset on display today in Geneva is nothing less than a diplomatic manifestation of the Stockholm syndrome. After nine years of captivity, most of the prisoners in Geneva today identify more closely with their captors than with those who are working for their unconditional release. This attitude, widely embraced by those in Geneva with the purest of intentions and unquestioned commitment to the CD as an institution, is in fact no less of a threat to the CD than continued inactivity because, as everyone knows, paying ransom does not end hostage-taking. Rather, it encourages more of it. Virtually every country at the CD either has or could quickly come up with some favored arms control or nonproliferation idea that today is a nonstarter. The moment the CD grants the demanded negotiations, other countries that until now have exercised self-restraint will decide to join the queue.

The CD’s salvation lies not in propitiating this behavior but in returning to what has worked for it in the past: finding a single serious idea that can command consensus on its own merits and negotiating on it until a consensus product emerges. For nine years, delegations in Geneva have put forward new ideas in hopes of sidestepping the gridlock over a “balanced program of work,” but so far no idea has come close to an FMCT in terms of the seriousness of its subject matter or the degree of consensus it commands. Unless a brilliant new proposal emerges that has eluded CD members for nine years, the CD will only regain its relevance if it commences negotiations on an FMCT. It will continue its drift into irrelevance if it does not.

A key point that needs to be made at the outset of any discussion of an FMCT is that the United States is not the obstacle to concluding such a treaty. An FMCT would ban the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons purposes. It would not ban the production of fissile material for other purposes, such as the manufacture of medical isotopes or naval propulsion systems. The United States stopped all production of fissile material for weapons purposes in 1988 and has no foreseeable need to resume production of such material in the future.

Presently, the United States is grappling not with the problem of too little fissile material but rather with the problem of too much. As a result, the United States is spending billions of dollars to dispose of excess fissile material left over from the Cold War. Highly enriched uranium (HEU) that was produced at great expense is being downblended to produce fuel for civil nuclear reactors, and a facility is being constructed to convert weapons-grade plutonium into mixed-oxide fuel for power reactors. If the United States had any concern that its need for fissile material might grow in the future, the first thing it would do is stop spending billions of dollars to eliminate fissile material it currently has, not block the negotiation of an FMCT.

The principal obstacle to conclusion of an FMCT is countries, such as Pakistan and China, that today either are producing fissile material for weapons purposes or harbor plans to do so in the future. None of these countries will say that it opposes an FMCT. To the contrary, they insist that they favor a properly constructed treaty. It is no coincidence, however, that they are at the forefront of those CD delegations that have conditioned commencement of FMCT negotiations on progress on other unrelated issues, such as PAROS. Nor is it a coincidence that these countries are among the most outspoken advocates of including extensive verification measures as part of an FMCT.

It is counterintuitive that countries wanting to produce fissile material would be so keen to undergo intrusive international inspections of their most sensitive nuclear facilities, until one considers that the elaboration of such verification measures is sure to prolong the conclusion of any FMCT negotiation for many years, if not indefinitely. In the case of Pakistan’s insistence that FMCT verification extend beyond new production of fissile material to include existing stocks of such material—a demand that has been rejected by all nuclear-weapon states—one has to suspect that the real objective is indefinite postponement.

It was in part to avoid such delays that the United States proposed in July 2004 that the CD negotiate an FMCT containing no verification provisions. Not only would this expedite the conclusion of the treaty, but it would avoid creating a costly yet ineffective new verification mechanism.

A careful U.S. review had determined that even an ideal international verification mechanism would have serious deficiencies and would have great difficulty detecting cheating by countries determined to produce fissile material in violation of the treaty. Moreover, U.S. officials had concluded that, as a practical matter, an ideal international mechanism would not emerge from FMCT negotiations at the CD. Inevitably corners would be cut in order to minimize the financial costs of establishing and operating such a mechanism as well as to avoid intrusion into facilities of national security concern. The United States is not alone in having these concerns. Taking into account the limited effectiveness of the verification mechanism that was likely to be agreed at the CD, as well as the lengthy delays in concluding an FMCT that necessarily would be required in order to reach agreement, the United States had come to the view that seeking to establish such a mechanism was more trouble than it was worth.

The United States stressed that this approach did not mean that an FMCT would be unverified, any more than the BWC is unverified because it has no international inspectorate. Rather, responsibility for making compliance judgments would fall to the parties to the treaty, each of which would be expected to use its own capabilities to detect cheating. Such national capabilities have often been able to detect covert nuclear activities, the detection in 2002 of North Korea’s centrifuge-based enrichment program being a recent case in point. That program was first detected on the basis of intelligence information relating to suspicious procurements by North Korea, precisely the kind of information that an international inspectorate would never be able to generate on its own. If such an inspectorate existed today, it still would not be able to generate proof of the existence of that program using the tools available to it, primarily because it would not have the slightest clue where to go in North Korea to find the program.

In May this year, the United States followed up on its July 2004 announcement by tabling the text of a proposed FMCT. The United States said it can no longer support a mandate for FMCT negotiations that presupposes an outcome contrary to its position on verification, such as the so-called Shannon Mandate, with its requirement that an FMCT be “internationally and effectively verifiable.” Yet, the United States has not called for a mandate that requires its preferred outcome on verification. The mandate proposed by the United States is simply silent on the issue of verification, allowing all parties to come to the negotiations and advocate whatever outcome they prefer with respect to verification. Therefore, although the U.S. proposals are controversial among those who want an FMCT to include verification measures, no one should question the good faith of the United States in putting forward its ideas.

In a similar vein, some details of the U.S.-proposed text for an FMCT have drawn the fire of critics. Some have faulted the U.S. proposal for permitting the continued production of HEU for naval propulsion purposes. This criticism is somewhat strange, given that even the widely supported Shannon Mandate provided only for the negotiation of a treaty “banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” Inasmuch as naval vessels are plainly neither nuclear weapons nor nuclear explosive devices, there would have been no basis under the Shannon Mandate for negotiating a ban on the production of HEU for naval propulsion purposes.

Therefore, those who fault the U.S. proposal for permitting the continued production of HEU for these purposes are really faulting an FMCT as traditionally conceived. They are essentially calling for a treaty banning the production of all fissile material, full stop. There are arguments to be made in favor of such an approach, but there is one compelling reason to reject it, namely that it would be flatly unacceptable to many of the key governments at the CD. All nations with nuclear-powered navies stand with the United States in rejecting the notion that an FMCT should extend to the production of HEU for naval propulsion purposes. Further, those states that are investing in the full nuclear fuel cycle, including plutonium reprocessing, would never agree to prohibit the production of plutonium for nuclear fuel-cycle-related purposes. The United States, of course, is not among the latter group of states.

Some critics of the U.S. proposal have also quarreled with the provision that would have an FMCT expire after 15 years, subject to the ability of the parties to extend it at a review conference. Critics of this provision gloss over the fact that the NPT contains a similar provision, albeit one that provided for expiration of the treaty after 25 years. Obviously, there is a difference between 15 years and 25 years, but certainly the figure of 25 years set forth in the NPT was the product of a negotiation in which some countries initially advocated a shorter period. The larger point is that this particular provision, as well as the rest of the U.S.-proposed text, is merely a proposal. It was put forward to provide a basis for discussion and expressly not as a “take it or leave it” offer.

The record of the past nine years provides little basis for optimism that the CD is going to be able to rise to today’s challenges. International organizations being what they are, the recommendation of the Task Force on the United Nations that the CD be abolished caused hardly a stir in Geneva. The international civil servants there have continued their work secure in the knowledge that they will be collecting their paychecks long after hard copies of the task force’s final report have been removed from the shelves of research libraries. Meanwhile, countries will likely follow the example set by New Zealand and Sweden and withdraw their full-time ambassadors from the CD. The real work of confronting today’s security threats will shift to other fora that are producing results for the international community, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Proliferation Security Initiative, and (one hopes) the UN Security Council.

Stephen G. Rademaker is policy director for national security affairs and senior counsel for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.). During 2002-2006, he served as an assistant secretary of state, heading at various times the Bureaus of Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and International Security and Nonproliferation. Over the previous two decades, he held high-level positions in the House of Representatives and in the White House during the George H. W. Bush administration.

New Details Emerge on NK Nuclear Program

Paul Kerr

Several weeks after North Korea’s early October announcement that it had successfully tested a nuclear device, new information is emerging about the test and Pyongyang’s plutonium-based nuclear weapons program. Still, much uncertainty remains about the status and scope of that program and a suspected North Korean uranium-enrichment program.

Siegfried Hecker, a former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, spoke with North Korean officials about the nuclear program when he visited the country Oct. 31 to Nov. 4. He discussed his findings in a report presented Nov. 15. Hecker was accompanied by John Lewis, a historian at Stanford University; Charles “Jack” Pritchard, former special envoy for negotiations with North Korea; and Robert Carlin, former senior policy adviser at the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization. Lewis and Hecker also discussed the North Korean nuclear program with various Chinese officials. In addition, a Department of State official also discussed the status of these programs during two interviews with Arms Control Today.

Test Uncertainties

One week after the test, the office of Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte stated that North Korea had “conducted an underground nuclear explosion” with a yield of “less than a kiloton.”

North Korean officials maintained during their meeting that the test was successful, Hecker said. But he reported that Pyongyang told Chinese officials two hours before the test to expect a yield of about four kilotons.

A four-kiloton yield would have been far below that of the bombs the United States dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Nagasaki bomb, for example, had a yield of 21 kilotons. Analysts have debated whether the low yield indicates that North Korea attempted to test either a simple nuclear device or a smaller, more sophisticated device that could be deployed on a missile. (See ACT, November 2006.)

According to Hecker, Chinese nuclear scientists estimated the explosion’s yield at about one kiloton. Those scientists argued that the North Koreans had tested a simple nuclear device designed for an explosive yield of four kilotons in order to ensure that they could contain the test’s radioactivity in a horizontal shaft. The Chinese assessment is “reasonable…based on the facts we have at this time,” he said. The State Department official said that U.S. intelligence agencies had not yet determined why the test yield was so low.

North Korean officials told Hecker that the device used plutonium as its fissile material. The State Department official said Oct. 31 that the United States does not yet know whether this claim is true but said that he “would be shocked if it were anything else.” Whether the United States will be able to determine when the plutonium was produced is uncertain, the official said.

It does not appear that North Korea is preparing to conduct another test at this time. “None of the officials we met gave us the impression that they are planning a second nuclear test,” Hecker said. Likewise, the State Department official said that there are “no indications” that Pyongyang is doing so.

Hecker said that North Korea will “keep the number” of future nuclear tests “to a minimum” because of its limited plutonium inventory.

Plutonium Program Continues

Hecker also noted that North Korea continues to operate its nuclear facilities at Yongbyon, including its five-megawatt nuclear reactor and a facility for reprocessing spent fuel to extract plutonium. But he said that operation of the research reactor has slowed somewhat. In addition, the construction of two larger reactors, which would have vastly expanded Pyongyang’s plutonium-production capacity, has not kept pace with North Korea’s previous estimates.

Under the 1994 Agreed Framework between the United States and North Korea, Pyongyang froze these facilities’ operation and subjected them, along with approximately 8,000 spent fuel rods, to international monitoring. North Korea also froze the construction of the two larger reactors.

But after the most recent North Korean nuclear crisis started in October 2002, Pyongyang ejected the inspectors, announced its withdrawal from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, restarted the reactor, and claimed to have reprocessed the spent fuel to obtain plutonium.

Hecker said that prior to its test explosion, North Korea probably had 40-50 kilograms of plutonium, which is enough for about six to eight nuclear bombs. The test “most likely” consumed about six kilograms, Hecker said. This estimate of the total plutonium inventory appears to be somewhat lower than one from South Korea’s Ministry of Defense reported by the semi-official Yonhap News Agency Oct. 26. The reactor is accumulating about one bomb’s worth of plutonium per year, according to Hecker’s discussions with Yongbyon officials.

Hecker reported that Ri Hong Sop, director of the Yongbyon nuclear center, said that North Korea plans to unload the reactor “sometime next year” and reprocess the spent fuel. However, Pyongyang may unload the reactor sooner if the “political situation” changes, Ri said. North Korea expert Selig Harrison told reporters in September that Pyongyang intends to unload spent fuel rods from the reactor for reprocessing by the end of the year.

Pyongyang last unloaded the reactor during the spring of 2005 and restarted the reactor in June of that year. The reactor “has been operating with the current fuel load” since then, Hecker said.

The North Korean officials also provided an update regarding Pyongyang’s progress in completing the two larger reactors.

According to Hecker’s report, the officials said that “virtually nothing” has been done at a site where North Korea had been constructing a 50-megawatt reactor. Pyongyang has apparently not yet made “a political decision” to proceed with a full-on construction effort, Hecker said, adding that “technical difficulties” are slowing down the project. These difficulties will put the reactor’s completion “at least several years into the future,” he added.

After a visit last year, Hecker said that a North Korean official implied that Pyongyang is attempting to complete construction on the reactor within “a couple of years.”

Ri said that North Korea has not yet decided whether to complete a 200-megawatt reactor that had also been under construction prior to the Agreed Framework, said Hecker.

Uranium-Enrichment Program

Hecker said that the North Korean officials provided no information regarding the country’s suspected uranium-enrichment program. Gas centrifuges enrich uranium hexafluoride by spinning it at very high speeds to increase the concentration of the relevant fissile isotope. Highly enriched uranium can be used as fissile material in nuclear weapons.

Hecker said that “it is very likely” that North Korea has “at least a research-scale uranium-enrichment effort.” Pyongyang has repeatedly denied having such a program.

State Department officials told Arms Control Today about a year ago that North Korea has enough components sufficient for a “pilot” enrichment facility. But it is still unclear whether Pyongyang has an operating facility or possesses all necessary centrifuge components. (See ACT, June 2006.)

North Korea is likely continuing work on the program, the State Department official said in November, adding that the United States has little information about its progress and calling the program a “black hole.” The official indicated that North Korea’s efforts to obtain materials for the program had largely stopped but pointed out that Pyongyang may have learned to produce its own components.

The official also said that North Korea may have an advanced enrichment program but acknowledged that Pyongyang may have halted work on it, perhaps because the government ran out of money or lost access to foreign expertise.


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