"No one can solve this problem alone, but together we can change things for the better." 

– Setsuko Thurlow
Hiroshima Survivor
June 6, 2016
March 2007
Edition Date: 
Thursday, March 1, 2007
Cover Image: 

Books of Note

Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons. By Joseph Cirincione, Columbia University Press, March 2007, 192 pp.

Arms Control in the Middle East: Cooperative Security Dialogue and Regional Constraints. By Emily B. Landau, Sussex Academic Press, July 2006, 172 pp.

Small Arms and Security. By Denise Garcia, Routledge, October 2006, 266 pp.

Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons
By Joseph Cirincione, Columbia University Press, March 2007, 192 pp.

Part history, part theory, and part policy guide, this short volume serves as a primer on nuclear proliferation. Cirincione, an arms control expert now at the Center for American Progress, presents a comprehensive work that is clear to a novice without shortchanging the complexities of the subject. He includes a brief tutorial on nuclear physics as well as the history of nuclear weapons development and its Cold War legacy. He also offers his views on what leads states to build or to shun nuclear weapons. In doing so, Cirincione questions the wisdom of current U.S. nonproliferation policy. That policy, he says, focuses on denying weapons to states with poor relations with the United States rather than a more general attempt to halt nuclear weapons acquisitions. Instead, Cirincione argues that policy efforts should be directed at reducing what he characterizes as today’s three main nuclear dangers: nuclear terrorism, the spread of dual-use fuel-cycle technologies of uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing for plutonium, and the proliferation of nuclear weapons to new states.

Arms Control in the Middle East: Cooperative Security Dialogue and Regional Constraints
By Emily B. Landau, Sussex Academic Press, July 2006, 172 pp.

Emily Landau, a senior researcher at Israel’s Jaffa Center for Strategic Studies, examines the complex nature of arms control agreements in the Middle East. In particular, she looks at the Arms Control and Regional Security (ACRS) talks held from 1991 to 1995, based on interviews with the principals and an examination of the documentary record. The ACRS discussions involved Israel and 12 Arab states, except Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria, and were aimed at the eventual elimination of weapons of mass destruction in the region. Landau ascribes the ultimate failure of the talks on Egypt’s decision to take a different tack than other Arab states. Egypt, the historic Arab leader, wanted to use the talks to put pressure on Israel to renounce its nuclear weapons. Surprisingly, the other Arab states joined with Israel in calling for confidence- and security-building measures that aimed at stabilizing the region rather than for nuclear disarmament. Although acknowledging that circumstances have changed since the ACRS talks, Landau writes that such confidence- and security-building measures remain highly relevant.

Small Arms and Security
By Denise Garcia, Routledge, October 2006, 266 pp.

Denise Garcia, a research fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, examines the recent emergence of international norms governing the small arms trade. Garcia’s study analyzes two groups of norms: one group that receives support from the international community and another group that does not. Garcia views as successful norms governing the destruction and disposal of surplus weapons, the regulation of illicit arms brokering, and the marking and tracing of small arms. She says all share three crucial elements for success: coalition building among several actors, effective dissemination of information, and the existence of norm-building sites in the form of international and regional multilateral forums. Garcia argues that those seeking to develop other norms should take advantage of these tactics. For example, although some states have blocked the regulation of civilian arms in multilateral negotiations, there is increasing cooperation among states and nongovernmental organizations to address the issue, possibly foreshadowing its eventual acceptance as norm.

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HEU Smuggling Sting Raises Security Concerns

Justin Reed

Georgia and the United States revealed in January that in early 2006 they had arrested a Russian man attempting to sell 100 grams of weapons-grade uranium. The seizure was one of the largest of its kind and raised questions about the security of nuclear stockpiles in the region.

A joint Georgian-CIA operation nabbed Oleg Khinsagov in Tbilisi along with several Georgian accomplices. The sting was set up after Georgian authorities discovered extensive smuggling operations in the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

“When we sent buyers, the channels through Abkhazia and South Ossetia began to expand, and we started seeing a huge flow of materials…. Sometimes it was low-grade enriched materials, but this was the first instance of highly enriched material,” Georgian Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili told the Associated Press.

Khinsagov was carrying a plastic bag full of highly enriched uranium (HEU) in his jacket pocket. “He was offering this as the first stage in a deal and said he had other pieces,” Merabishvili said. “We don’t know if that was true,” he added. Georgian authorities sentenced Khinsagov to eight to 10 years in prison.

Efforts to discover the origin of the HEU have been hampered by squabbling between Russia and Georgia. Georgia gave a sample of the smuggled material to Russia for analysis but Russia’s Scientific Research Institute of Non-Organic Materials called the quantity of the sample “insignificant.” Only a few grams of HEU are needed to perform a full forensic analysis, however.

The Russian prosecutor-general is considering an inquiry.

Georgian and Russian officials blame each other for not being fully forthcoming. Tensions have been high since President Mikheil Saakashvili was elected in 2004 on a pro-U.S. platform. His election exacerbated disagreements over the stationing of Russian troops in border regions. (See ACT, January/February 2007. )

In a related development, the United States and Georgia signed a deal in February 2007 to increase cooperation in preventing nuclear smuggling. The agreement will facilitate information sharing between U.S. and Georgian offices, train Georgian experts, adequately store discovered radioactive substances, and increase border patrols.

The United States has already provided similar assistance to Russia to prevent nuclear smuggling.

U.S., Europe Anti-Missile Plans Upset Russia

A U.S. bid to base anti-missile systems in Poland and the Czech Republic is provoking strong reactions from Russia, including hints that it might abrogate a two-decade-old treaty restricting Russian missile holdings. (Continue)

Wade Boese

A U.S. bid to base anti-missile systems in Poland and the Czech Republic is provoking strong reactions from Russia, including hints that it might abrogate a two-decade-old treaty restricting Russian missile holdings.

Moscow has consistently opposed Washington’s proposal to base long-range ballistic missile interceptors in Europe since it first became public in 2004. (See ACT, July/August 2004. ) But January revelations that Washington has approached Prague and Warsaw to start formal negotiations over deployment options have reinvigorated the Kremlin’s denunciations.

Lieutenant General Henry Obering, head of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), told reporters Jan. 25 that the proposed stationing of 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a high-powered radar in the Czech Republic were not aimed at Russia, but primarily Iran. Tehran’s longest-range deployed missile, the Shabab-3, which some Iranian officials claim can fly up to 2,000 kilometers, could reach southern Europe. The MDA contends Iran might acquire a missile capable of striking the United States before 2015.

In a Feb. 10 speech blasting the United States at a high-level security conference in Munich, Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed Iran as a threat justifying the U.S. bases. Putin said the fielding of missile defenses in Europe “cannot help but disturb us.”

Days later, top Russian military officials, including General Yuri Baluyevsky, chief of Russia’s general staff, implied Russia could react to the U.S. interceptors by withdrawing from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. This accord, which led to the destruction of 2,692 missiles, bans U.S. and Russian possession of ground-launched cruise and ballistic missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers.

Putin also indicated Russia was re-evaluating the INF Treaty, although he attributed the deliberations to the accord’s inequity of forbidding Russia from having missiles similar to those being acquired by other countries. “It is obvious that in these conditions we must think about ensuring our own security,” Putin stated.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates registered concerns about the treaty’s possible abrogation. He told reporters Feb. 15 that it would be “a problem for us” and a “special problem” for European countries. Gates also said a Russian INF Treaty withdrawal could not be linked plausibly to the proposed European anti-missile units because they pose “no threat to Russia.”

Obering made a similar case Jan. 25, noting that Russia’s hundreds of ballistic missiles vastly outnumber the 10 planned interceptors. He further pointed out that the anti-missile systems would be physically incapable of stopping Russian missiles launched at the United States because the interceptors would be attempting to catch Russian missiles from behind as they fly away from, not toward, the interceptors.

The MDA chief also said he had kept Russian officials informed of U.S. plans and “will continue to work closely with the Russians.” Obering noted, however, that the United States would have to secure the agreement of host governments to permit Russian delegations to visit any future U.S. anti-missile sites on the continent.

If the Polish and Czech governments quickly consent to U.S. plans, Obering said construction could begin in 2008 and the sites could be operational as soon as 2011. He projected costs could total $3.5 billion and said that the United States would pick up the full tab.

U.S. lawmakers last year trimmed requested funding for exploratory site work from $56 million to $32.8 million and provided $63 million for initial work on 10 interceptors that could be deployed in Europe or the United States. MDA spokesperson Rick Lehner told Arms Control Today Feb. 20 that the administration’s February fiscal year 2008 budget request asks for about $225 million for the European sites. Fiscal year 2008 begins Oct. 1.

The United States is currently deploying and testing the ground-based interceptor model designated for Europe. The model scored its first intercept of a target last September, while earlier prototypes tallied five hits in 10 attempts during rudimentary testing. (See ACT, October 2006. )

Similar to the Fort Greely, Alaska, interceptor field, which totaled 14 interceptors at the end of February, no interceptors will be flight-tested out of the European site. Obering said that, during a real attack, there probably would not be time to consult a host government before launching an interceptor.

Sovereignty concerns, doubts about the system’s capabilities, and comments by Russian officials that they would target the anti-missile sites have caused mixed opinions among the Polish and Czech populations about the endeavor. Nevertheless, leaders in each country say they are inclined to engage in formal negotiations.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Forces Policy Brian Green told reporters Jan. 25 that the United States has been “very, very pleased” with discussions with the two governments and that Washington has “every expectation that our more intense discussions…will succeed.” Green and Obering said, however, that alternatives existed if negotiations with the two countries failed.

UN Battles Over Disarmament Bureaucracy

Jim Wurst reporting from the United Nations

It is a given that every new UN secretary-general has the right to organize the secretariat to his liking—the secretary-general’s most explicit responsibility in the UN Charter is of “chief administrative officer of the Organization.” However, Ban Ki-moon, who became secretary-general Jan. 1, discovered there are limits to that right. Ban found himself in a diplomatic showdown soon after taking office when he decided to revamp two departments, including the Department for Disarmament Affairs (DDA), without prior consultation with member states. He was ultimately forced to scale back his proposal substantially after protests from developing and European states.

In mid-January, Ban’s office began circulating an informal “nonpaper” describing a major overhaul of the peacekeeping and disarmament departments. Peacekeeping would be split in two, and the DDA would be subsumed into the already sprawling Department of Political Affairs. The proposal would have eliminated the DDA’s undersecretary-general and turned the department into an office, a step down in bureaucratic terms. In short, the DDA would lose its political and budgetary autonomy.

A broad spectrum of governments as well as civil society groups made it clear that they preferred the DDA to remain a department with its own undersecretary-general and specific mandates, the same as peacekeeping and humanitarian affairs.

The DDA had been an office in the Department of Political Affairs under Secretary-General Boutrous Boutrous-Ghali. His successor, Kofi Annan, made the DDA an independent department in 1998, with a mandate specifically designed to deal with post-Cold War realities. Critics of Ban’s plan said Annan’s rationale remained valid, and they saw little reason for another change.

In his original proposal, Ban argued that a change was necessary to place disarmament under his “direct supervision.” But critics said that the secretary general already has direct control of the DDA and other departments.

Ban revamped the proposal within a day of being roundly criticized by the 117-member Nonaligned Movement (NAM), which represents the interests and priorities of developing countries. He proposed to make the DDA a separate, independent office headed by a special representative. He gave more details as to his rationale and spelled out the responsibilities of the office, which would essentially be the same as the existing DDA. Ban said the purpose of the office was to ensure “a greater role and personal involvement of the Secretary-General in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation.”

The NAM countries welcomed these amendments and the consultation, but there were still concerns. In particular, they questioned whether a special representative would have greater access to the secretary-general than an undersecretary-general.

The other problem was that it was not clear where the “high representative”—it was initially a “special representative”—as opposed to an undersecretary-general would fall within the bureaucratic hierarchy, introducing a degree of ambiguity. Meanwhile, some nongovernmental groups argued that downgrading disarmament would send exactly the wrong signal as disarmament and nonproliferation challenges were increasing.

Clearly responding to the criticism, Ban produced a new plan on Feb. 15. This time, instead of an informal nonpaper, Ban sent a formal letter to General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa entitled “Strengthening the Capacity of the Organization to Manage and Sustain Peace Operations.” The explanation of what the office would do was now even more detailed, but there was no clarity as to the rank of the proposed high representative.

At a packed meeting with delegates Feb. 16, Ban laid out the new version. For the first time, he publicly acknowledged his difficulties, saying, “Many of you have expressed concern at the perception that the current disarmament structure would be downgraded as a result of this change. Let me dispel that perception.”

Then, in a major concession, Ban explicitly stated that the high representative would hold the rank of undersecretary-general. This apparently was enough to satisfy most states, whose representatives, in the comment period following Ban’s address, welcomed the clarifications and indicated acceptance of the plan, if not enthusiastic support.

Ban also asked the General Assembly to endorse the plan in “a framework resolution at the earliest possible date.”

At a Feb. 20 news conference, Ambassador Munir Akram of Pakistan, chairman of the Group of 77, a smaller group of developing countries, would not go that far. Although “we are fairly satisfied that the secretary-general has listened to our views,” he said, it was important that any restructuring “does not compromise or change the mandates” of the office as spelled out by the General Assembly.

“We do not wish to see any arbitrary changes in the mandates,” Akram stated, declining to say if he thought the assembly would move quickly on the plan. Other ambassadors later said they did not expect action on the plan until May.

U.S. Funding for CTBTO Lags

Daryl G. Kimball

Accumulating shortfalls in the U.S. contribution to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) could slow its effort to complete a global monitoring network and conduct data analysis designed to detect and deter treaty violations, according to diplomats and congressional staff. The deficits are mounting even as that network recently scored some new successes in registering North Korea’s Oct. 9, 2006, nuclear test.

In fiscal year 2006, which ended Sept. 30, 2006, the Bush administration requested and Congress approved $14.4 million for the CTBTO, which was more than $6 million short of the $22 million assessed by the Vienna-based organization. A stopgap fiscal year 2007 spending bill approved by Congress in February set spending at the same levels, which meant it fell even further short of last year’s U.S. assessment of $23 million.

The Bush administration’s budget request for fiscal year 2008, which begins Oct. 1, calls for an $18 million U.S. contribution. Although closer to the CTBTO’s current-year assessment, it would still fall about $3 million short.

A few other, smaller states also are behind in their contribution to the CTBTO. The United States is the single largest contributor, however, making any funding shortage significant. The CTBTO’s budget for 2007 is $102 million.

The budgetary shortfalls could directly affect the CTBTO’s ability to complete construction and certify for use the remaining stations in the International Monitoring System (IMS), diplomats say.

“While it is difficult to understand how shortfalls in contributions from specific countries will affect the CTBTO, less money is less money,” said a senior diplomat based in Vienna. “The main victim will likely be the completion of the remaining IMS stations, as well as maintenance and recapitalization for some existing stations, some of which are nearly 10 years old,” the diplomat said.

The 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) calls for the establishment of 321 monitoring stations to collect data worldwide and transmit them in real time to the International Data Center (IDC) in Vienna. When fully completed, the system will consist of 170 seismic, 60 infrasound, and 11 hydroacoustic stations capable of detecting tremors and waves caused by a nuclear explosion. The system will also include more than 80 radionuclide stations, supported by 16 analytical laboratories, to measure air samples for radioactive material associated with nuclear explosions.

The IMS stations and IDC analyses provide a baseline capability for detection that is augmented by national intelligence gathering techniques, as well as thousands of civilian seismic monitoring stations. Among the IMS stations yet to be completed are those in more remote regions, such as Turkmenistan, and those involving more sophisticated and expensive technologies.

According to the diplomat, “If this continues, the United States could also lose its voting rights sometime in 2008-2009, which depend on states-parties making their assessed contributions to the CTBTO.”

Under Article II of the CTBT, which the United States has signed but not ratified, “a member of the Organization which is in arrears in the payment of its assessed contribution to the Organization shall have no vote in the Organization if the amount of its arrears equals or exceeds the amount of the contribution due from it for the preceding two years.” CTBTO member states may make an exception if they believe the failure to pay is due to “conditions beyond the control of the member.”

IMS Assets Detect North Korean Test

Although only 60 percent of all IMS stations have been certified and are transmitting data, more than 10 of the IMS primary seismic stations detected the ground tremors produced by the Oct. 9, 2006, North Korean underground nuclear test explosion near P’unggye, according to the January 2007 newsletter of the CTBTO, Spectrum. The North Korean test blast was estimated by various national, international, and scientific monitors to be less than 1 kiloton (TNT equivalent) in yield. (See ACT, November 2006. )

More significantly, one of 10 experimental “noble gas” monitoring stations that are to be part of the IMS detected trace amounts of unique radioactive material that confirmed the explosion was nuclear. The station, which is located near Yellowknife in Canada’s Northwest Territories, detected two spikes in xenon gas readings, on Oct. 22 and 25, which, on the basis of atmospheric modeling, were consistent with the North Korean test, according to diplomats from two countries who are familiar with the data.

On Oct. 11, 2006, U.S. national monitoring assets also detected “radioactive debris” that indicated the explosion was nuclear, according to a statement from the office of the U.S. director of national intelligence.

House Approves Nonproliferation Initiatives

The House of Representatives approved several nonproliferation initiatives in January as part of a broader bill to fully implement the recommendations of an independent commission that investigated the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Miles A. Pomper

The House of Representatives approved several nonproliferation initiatives in January as part of a broader bill to fully implement the recommendations of an independent commission that investigated the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Implementing a campaign pledge of new Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the House approved the measure 299-128 on Jan. 9 in one of the first pieces of legislation of the new Democratic-controlled Congress. Congressional aides said that they expect the measure eventually to be reconciled in a House-Senate conference committee with similarly broad legislation approved Feb. 15 by the Senate Governmental Affairs and Homeland Security Committee.

The 9/11 Commission, formally known as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, had warned in 2004 that “the greatest danger of another catastrophic attack in the United States” comes from weapons of mass destruction (WMD). (See ACT, September 2004. )

Key provisions in the House bill would lift legal roadblocks to providing aid to Russia and other former Soviet states to safeguard or destroy nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons stockpiles as well as associated delivery vehicles and facilities; create a White House office to coordinate U.S. efforts to prevent WMD proliferation and terrorism as well as establish an independent commission guiding U.S efforts; and seek to use sanctions and foreign aid to prevent the emergence of new black market nuclear networks.

The House bill would overturn long-standing requirements that bar the disbursement of threat reduction monies unless the president annually certifies that former Soviet states receiving the aid are committed to meeting several criteria, including compliance with all arms control agreements. In December 2005, Congress granted the president permanent authority to annually waive those restrictions but stopped short of eliminating them outright. (See ACT, January/February 2006. )

The certification requirement became a major hurdle to threat reduction activities in Russia and other former Soviet states in 2002 when President George W. Bush refused to certify Russia’s commitment to complying with treaties banning chemical and biological weapons. That refusal, the first since the program began in 1991, triggered a freeze of some threat reduction funds, stalling projects aimed at securing and dismantling surplus weapons and their fabrication facilities.

The bill included another provision that would create a new Senate-confirmed White House coordinator of efforts to counter the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, particularly to terrorist groups.

Democrats have long campaigned for such a coordinator, saying that greater coherence needs to be brought to scattered efforts across the government. But the idea has won little support from the White House itself, which sees it as simply adding additional bureaucracy. Moreover, budget authority for individual programs would still remain with the relevant agencies.

In a related provision, the measure would establish a nine-member independent commission to assess the current initiatives in this area and recommend steps for moving forward.

A newer initiative included in the bill seeks to prevent the recurrence of black market nuclear networks like the one fashioned by Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan. Khan’s network is said to have provided technology for enriching uranium to Iran, Libya, and North Korea.

It would require the president to impose sanctions for the transfer of enrichment or reprocessing materials or technology to some non-nuclear-weapon states that did not have functioning enrichment or reprocessing plants as of Jan. 1, 2004. In particular, penalties would be required if the transfers went to states that did not have in force an additional protocol to their safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) or had a nuclear weapons program. The most sweeping sanctions would include suspensions of arms licenses and foreign aid to countries that host such black market networks. However, these sanctions could be waived by the president.

Both uranium enrichment and the reprocessing of spent fuel for plutonium can provide the fissile material for nuclear weapons. Additional protocols provide IAEA inspectors with greater authority to investigate allegations of undeclared weapons programs.

The passage of the nonproliferation provisions was a victory for Democrats, such as Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), who have unsuccessfully pushed similar legislation in the previous Republican-controlled Congress.

Tauscher told the House that, “[f]or too long, the Bush administration and their congressional allies have left nonproliferation on the back burner. The bill before us today provides the tools we need to fight the threat of the world’s most dangerous weapons.”

Many Republicans, however, objected both to the broad scope of the bill and individual provisions. In particular, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, sought to strip a provision that would encourage the Bush administration to seek UN Security Council authorization for its Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). The 2003 initiative launched by the United States aims to interdict shipments of weapons of mass destruction and related goods to terrorists and countries of proliferation concern.

“Giving the United Nations the ability to define what is permissible under the PSI will result in the imposition of unpredictable limitations, unpredictable conditions, and unpredictable interpretations and would result in a regulatory straightjacket overseen by the international bureaucracy,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “If this recommendation were followed, the PSI would be undermined.”

Democrats, however, countered that the provision was aimed at broadening international support for the PSI. The motion failed on a largely party-line vote of 198-230.

Bush Cuts Threat Reduction Budget

President George W. Bush’s 2008 fiscal year budget request calls for more cuts in programs related to nonproliferation activities in the former Soviet Union, although some individual threat reduction programs would see gains or maintain funding.

Daniel Arnaudo

President George W. Bush’s 2008 fiscal year budget request calls for more cuts in programs related to nonproliferation activities in the former Soviet Union, although some individual threat reduction programs would see gains or maintain funding.

Some proposed reductions reflect the winding down or closure of programs, while other cuts may reflect a shift in priorities away from traditional U.S.-Russian programs such as Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) to more regional or international programs.

Department of Defense

Money requested for the CTR program in the Department of Defense budget is down again this year to $348 million. The $24 million reduction for fiscal year 2008 follows a $44 million cut the previous year. The CTR program seeks to better control the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) complex in the former Soviet Union by securing chemical, biological, and nuclear facilities and finding employment for former weapons scientists and technicians.

The Pentagon budget would increase spending by $75 million in fiscal year 2008 for biological threat reduction efforts, including securing pathogens and facilities and setting up monitoring equipment for border posts and customs. Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), however, said he plans to offer an amendment to increase funding for biological weapons nonproliferation by $100 million. If approved, this would bring overall spending to $244 million in the next fiscal year.

Nonetheless, in a Jan. 25 interview with Inside the Pentagon, Rep. John Spratt (D-S.C.), a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, said broader increases for CTR funding were unlikely. Spratt said that although he wanted to see increased funding for securing fissile material and a more “rigid” scheme of accounting for sites in Russia and the United States, “I don’t think the budget will come to us…with enough money in [in it] to do these extra things.” He said he would work to find an offset for increased funding of nuclear nonproliferation activities but would not take it out of funding for the war in Iraq or other essential activities.

Indeed, money proposed for the Nuclear Weapons Storage Security program was down to $23 million for fiscal year 2008, a decrease of $64 million from current spending. This reflects the completion of a number of significant upgrades to Russian facilities and a shift to maintenance.

No funds were requested for the chemical weapons destruction program in fiscal year 2008. Although work on the weapons destruction facility at Shchuch’ye in Russia is still unfinished, the program is scheduled to end this year. Independent experts estimate the facility needs at least another $200 million to be completed.

The Nuclear Weapons Transportation Security program, on the other hand, is slated to receive $38 million for fiscal year 2008, a $5 million increase over the current spending. This will help to transport 48 trainloads of nuclear warheads to more secure facilities for storage and dismantlement.

The administration also requested a $2 million increase in funding for the Strategic Offensive Arms Elimination program. The $78 million in funds requested for fiscal year 2008 would be used to carry out such tasks as eliminating 65 ICBMs, defueling and storing another 20 ICBMs, and decommissioning or eliminating 44 ICBM silos.

The request for the WMD Proliferation Prevention Initiative to create better monitoring facilities on the borders of former non-Russian Soviet states was slightly higher than the previous year, at $38 million.

Department of Energy

The administration’s fiscal year 2008 budget request for a number of Department of Energy nonproliferation programs would also be below current spending. The International Nuclear Materials Protection and Cooperation (INMP&C) program was cut by $41 million to $372 million.

The INMP&C program works to secure the former Soviet nuclear complex, both personnel and material. Part of its funding is dedicated to goals agreed to in a 2005 joint statement between Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Bratislava. The Energy Department has explained that the decreases reflect completion of many of the upgrades.

The Energy Department cut $40 million out of the Strategic Rocket Forces (SRF) and 12th Main Directorate program, citing contractor and technical access problems as well as poor weather conditions. The program seeks to secure vulnerable nuclear weapons and weapons usable materials at SRF and 12th Main Directorate sites in Russia. The Bush administration also indicated that it projects further large cuts in funding to programs in “closed” Russian cities once dedicated to designing and testing nuclear weapons. In 2005 at Bratislava, however, the United States promised to continue to support such programs.

The Elimination of Weapons Grade Plutonium Production program also will receive less funding this year as its projects in Russia continue to wind down. Some $182 million is requested for fiscal year 2008, down $25 million from current spending. The projects were created to replace Russian plutonium reactors with generators powered by fossil fuels at Severnsk and Zhelenznogorsk. They are on schedule to be completed by fiscal year 2008 and fiscal year 2011, respectively.

Funding for the Russian Fissile Materials Disposition program will be cut to zero for fiscal year 2008. This comes after a dispute over Moscow’s refusal to pay for a mixed-oxide fuel-fabrication facility. This refusal angered Congress and halted the program, which converts weapons-grade plutonium into fuel for civilian nuclear reactors. The greater Fissile Materials Disposition program, which focuses on cutting stockpiles in the United States through similar techniques, was slightly increased to $609 million after the Senate concluded it was still worthwhile.

By contrast, funding for the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) continues to increase, up $13 million to $119 million. The program works to reduce and protect nuclear and radiological material internationally.

Department of State

The administration requested $464 million for the Nonproliferation, Anti-terrorism, De-mining and Related Programs line item in the Department of State’s budget. Funding for all of the subprograms within this section devoted to nonproliferation were down, something that was noted by Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Lugar in a Feb. 8 hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Export Controls and Border Related Security was set at $41 million, the Nonproliferation and Disarmament Fund at $30 million, and the Global Threat Reduction Program, formerly the Nonproliferation of WMD Expertise Program, is presently allocated $53.5 million.

Obama in particular took issue with the cuts, saying that these are “modest, but cuts nevertheless.” He added, “Now, I recognize that budgets are about priorities, but given how important, potentially, interdiction and some of these other programs are, you know, I’d like to see us at least stay constant…not go backwards.”

In response, Rice, while noting that these programs may be in less demand than in past, said, “I don’t think that we want to be complacent, and obviously we’ll keep examining it.” The administration, however, requested a $36 million increase for small arms and light weapons destruction activities globally. This proposed boost would raise future spending to $44.7 million.

Missile Defense Remains Budget Priority

Anti-missile programs have been a consistent Bush administration funding favorite, and its recent budget request to Congress continues the trend. All told, the Pentagon is seeking approximately $10.8 billion for its various missile defense projects. (Continue)

Wade Boese

Anti-missile programs have been a consistent Bush administration funding favorite, and its recent budget request to Congress continues the trend. All told, the Pentagon is seeking approximately $10.8 billion for its various missile defense projects.

The full Department of Defense fiscal year 2008 spending submission equals $623 billion and is supposed to fund all military activities, including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, for the year beginning Oct. 1. But the Pentagon also asked lawmakers Feb. 5 for an extra $93 billion to bridge an estimated spending shortfall through Oct. 1, primarily to maintain ongoing operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Most of the proposed future missile defense funding is part of the $75 billion research, development, test, and evaluation portion of the Pentagon budget because many of the systems are works in progress. The task of readying them for action rests primarily with the Missile Defense Agency (MDA).

The MDA initially planned this year to ask for $9.3 billion, the same amount as last year’s budget request, but the Pentagon instructed the agency to shave $500 million. Still, the leftover $8.8 billion bid stands as the third largest ever for the MDA or its predecessors and accounts for roughly 80 percent of all proposed fiscal year 2008 missile defense spending.

About one-half of the MDA funds are dedicated to the agency’s three anti-missile systems undergoing or on the verge of deployment. The rudimentary, long-range Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) is allocated the largest slice of the budget, at $2.5 billion. The ship-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System and the ground-mobile Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) are allotted $1 billion and $858 million, respectively. These two systems are geared toward stopping short- to intermediate-range ballistic missiles, but the MDA hopes ultimately to upgrade them to counter long-range missiles too.

The $2 billion in non-MDA missile defense spending is dispersed among the Air Force, Army, and Joint Staff. Almost one-half of this amount, $912.5 million, is on tap for the Army’s short- and medium-range ballistic missile defense system, the Patriot, which has a mixed battlefield record. (See ACT, November 2003. ) The Army intends to allocate nearly $473 million for purchasing 108 Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) interceptors. By the end of this year, the Army PAC-3 inventory is projected to number some 540 interceptors.

The Air Force aims to spend $587 million for the Space-Based Infrared System-high (SBIRS-high) program and $231 million on the Alternative Infrared Space System. Both satellite constellations are intended to spot ballistic missile launches around the world. The Air Force initiated the second program last year because of concerns about the rising costs and technical viability of SBIRS, although its initial orbiting sensor is reportedly performing well.

The MDA hopes that one of the Air Force systems can eventually be paired with the MDA’s own nascent Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) to provide seamless and precise tracking of hostile ballistic missiles worldwide. The MDA is seeking $331.5 million for the program, which is supposed to launch two demonstration satellites this year. But the STSS also has been prone to delays. Indeed, the MDA reported in January that the launch of possible follow-on satellites to the first duo have slipped at least four years to 2016.

The MDA has touted SBIRS and the STSS as key data contributors to the agency’s signature GMD system. Under orders from President George W. Bush, the MDA fielded the first GMD interceptor in July 2004 despite the system’s sparse and spotty testing record. More than two years later, the MDA scored the first and, to date, only intercept of a target in flight using an interceptor model the same as those deployed. (See ACT, October 2006. )

As of the end of February, 14 GMD interceptors were emplaced in Alaska and another two stationed in California. The MDA aims to raise the total to roughly two dozen by the end of this year and up to 54 by 2011, including 10 in Europe.

Similarly, the MDA is looking to build up its sea-based component, the Aegis defense, which has scored seven hits in nine intercept tests. Seven warships are now outfitted with the Aegis missile defense engagement capability, and three more are supposed to join their ranks this year. The MDA envisions up to 18 vessels armed with a total of 83 interceptors sailing the world’s waters by 2011.

The MDA aims to add THAAD interceptors to the deployment mix by 2009. After experiencing a seven-year intercept testing hiatus, THAAD has hit targets in two recent experiments, the latest on Jan. 27. THAAD interceptors are designed to collide with enemy ballistic missiles as they descend toward the ground.

The agency also is trying to perfect two systems to counter missiles shortly after their launch, when they are still ascending. But both projects, the Airborne Laser (ABL) and the Kinetic Energy Interceptor (KEI), pose significant engineering and technical challenges.

The MDA recently pushed back by a year to 2009 the first shoot-down attempt of a target in flight by the ABL aircraft, a modified Boeing 747 equipped with a powerful laser. This is six years later than originally scheduled.

Indeed, the Bush administration initiated the fast accelerating, ground-based KEI in 2003 as a possible ABL replacement. Now the KEI is experiencing similar problems. Its potential operational availability has moved back four years to 2014.

Still, the agency is currently standing by both programs. The MDA is seeking nearly $549 million for the ABL and $227.5 million for the KEI. MDA spokesperson Rick Lehner told Arms Control Today Feb. 20 that KEI bore much of the agency’s $500 million cut.

The other program primarily affected was the agency’s proposed space-based test bed. This project calls for deploying and testing by around 2012 a few satellites armed with interceptors. The MDA had slated $45 million for initiating work but slashed it to $10 million. Future annual funding is projected to climb to $124 million in fiscal year 2013.

The MDA nearly doubled funding this year for another futuristic effort, the Multiple Kill Vehicle. Slotted for $271 million, this program aims to develop kill vehicles small enough so several can fit on a single interceptor. This capability, which is supposed to be ready for flight by 2012, would lessen the requirement for satellites or interceptors to try and discriminate an actual warhead from any decoys or other countermeasures employed to confuse a defense.

Critics say that the MDA’s anti-missile systems, most notably the GMD, are vulnerable to decoys and countermeasures. They contend tests must be made more challenging by conducting them under greater real-world conditions and against more realistic targets.

The Office of Operational Test and Evaluation, the Pentagon’s independent weapons testing office, shares a similar view. In an annual survey of arms programs, the office recently described the U.S. missile defense capability as “very basic” but “increasing.” Although the office assessed the MDA as conducting “disciplined ground and flight testing,” it noted that the programs need “additional flight test data under stressing conditions…to increase confidence in the models, simulations, and assessment of system capability.”

At least one lawmaker, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), is almost certain to pay careful attention to the testing reporting. Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Levin has been critical of the Pentagon’s missile defense approach. “I think it’s a mistake to purchase all of the missiles before we know that they’re going to work,” he told reporters last November.

If Levin’s remarks are any indicator, the Bush administration may find its latest missile defense spending proposal to be a tougher sell this year with Congress under Democratic control than it has been in previous years when Republicans ruled.

Bush Seeks Budget Boost for Future Warhead

Wade Boese

The Bush administration wants lawmakers this year to nearly quintuple spending on what it claims will be the prototype future U.S. nuclear warhead. But as of the end of February, Congress was waiting on the administration to choose between two competing prototype designs.

Initiated in 2004, the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program has emerged as the centerpiece of the administration’s proposed overhaul of the complex maintaining the U.S. inventory of approximately 10,000 nuclear warheads. The long-term goal, administration officials say, is to elevate warhead production capabilities while cutting actual warhead numbers. Current plans call for nearly halving the arsenal by 2012. (See ACT, July/August 2004. )

The RRW program fits into the administration’s plan for a simple warhead that the revamped weapons enterprise ostensibly could produce quickly and maintain easily and safely. Proponents claim the minimalist nature of RRW warheads also would eliminate any need to test them, but skeptics doubt Congress and the military will ultimately accept swapping proven warheads for untested ones.

The United States stopped nuclear testing in 1992, and Congress has established that it wants the RRW program to avoid sparking a revival. Some lawmakers, such as House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee Chair Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), have floated linking support for the RRW program to U.S. ratification of the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which the Senate rejected in October 1999 and the Bush administration opposes.

Warheads are currently validated through surveillance and refurbishment efforts under the science-based Stockpile Stewardship Program. RRW proponents assert, however, that as time passes and changes accumulate, the risk grows that warhead performance might diminish.

Still, the administration recently reported in its Feb. 5 fiscal year 2008 budget request documents that “Stockpile Stewardship is working…the stockpile remains safe and reliable.” Recent studies also have concluded that plutonium, the material at the core of each U.S. bomb, may last as long as a century without degrading the warhead. (See ACT, January/February 2007. )

In its proposed budget, the administration is seeking $6.5 billion in nuclear weapons spending. This total, which is about $100 million more than current spending, would continue the current stewardship approach while ramping up the RRW process and the overhaul of the complex, which is dubbed Complex 2030 for the year it is to be realized.

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a semi-autonomous agency of the Department of Energy, administers U.S. nuclear weapons spending. The latest annual budget request is for the year beginning Oct. 1.

The RRW program is receiving $25 million in the current fiscal year expiring Sept. 30, but the proposed NNSA budget would increase funding to about $89 million. The Navy also is seeking $30 million to support the RRW program.

The first warhead that the RRW program is slated to replace is the W76 warhead for submarine-launched ballistic missiles. In principle, RRW models are supposed to replicate the capabilities and purposes of the warheads they replace, but NNSA officials say the program eventually could tailor bombs for new missions.

The administration projects direct costs for the RRW program climbing each year and eventually reaching $179 million in fiscal year 2012. The NNSA is seeking to have the first warhead of the series available that year or 2014 at the latest. The agency hopes to begin full-scale RRW production by 2025.

The Nuclear Weapons Council, comprised of officials from the NNSA and the Pentagon, had fallen months behind in announcing which RRW design it intends to build. The Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos nuclear laboratories both submitted designs last spring for a scheduled decision last fall.

Reports suggest that the council had endorsed a hybrid of the two proposals but had not convinced all the stakeholders of that approach. Nonetheless, the proposed budget contains funds to “conduct a conceptual study for additional RRW options.”

While the NNSA is seeking to jump-start work on future warheads, the agency has fallen far behind on disassembling retired warheads. If the agency achieves its proclaimed goal of accelerating such work, the dismantlement backlog will not be eliminated until nearly 2024. The NNSA said this work is important because “reducing the total number of U.S. nuclear warheads sends a clear message to the world that critical modernization programs such as [the] RRW [program] do not signal a return to the arms race of the Cold War.”

Slightly more than $52 million is budgeted for dismantlement, which is roughly $22 million below last year’s request. The NNSA says this reduction still squares with the aim of boosting future work because the “upfront costs” of hiring additional people and procuring new equipment for that effort occurred this year.

For warheads remaining in the inventory, the NNSA is seeking $1.4 billion in directed stockpile funding to maintain them and extend their lifespan. The submarine-launched W76 is slated for the largest slice of this spending, at nearly $245 million.

The NNSA requested money for two new programs to help prevent or respond to a nuclear attack against the United States. One program, for $16 million, would seek to develop technologies to allow relatively inexperienced teams of first responders to be able to isolate and stabilize a detected nuclear or radiological threat. Another $12 million would be devoted to establishing a National Technical Nuclear Forensics program to enable the identification and sourcing of material in a nuclear device both pre- and post-detonation. (See ACT, October 2006. )

The agency has not yet calculated the future costs of implementing its Complex 2030 vision. It contends that the overhaul will ultimately save money because the number of facilities, staff, and weapons will shrink, as will the security costs of protecting nuclear materials consolidated at fewer sites. Although the NNSA says it will maintain all eight sites of the existing complex, the NNSA asserted Jan. 31 that each location “would look much different than today” and the entire complex would require one-quarter or one-third less personnel.

Still, some lawmakers have questioned whether the administration’s makeover is ambitious enough for what they contend is a bloated, outdated, and wasteful weapons enterprise. Chief among these gadflies has been Rep. David Hobson (R-Ohio), who had been serving as the chairman of the House Appropriations Energy and Water Development Subcommittee, which takes the lead on determining funding for the weapons complex. If the NNSA had been hoping for some relief with the Democratic election victory last fall, it may be disappointed. The new chairman, Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.), shares views similar to Hobson.

Israeli Cluster Munitions Use Examined

Wade Boese

The Department of State recently informed Congress that Israeli use of U.S.-origin cluster munitions in Lebanon last summer might have broken U.S. export rules. Washington has yet to announce if it will take any action against its close ally, but some lawmakers are proposing new U.S. cluster munitions export and use policies.

Responding to an attack by Lebanon-based Hezbollah guerrillas last July, Israel launched a military offensive into its northern neighbor. During the ensuing month-long campaign, Israel employed cluster munitions, which are weapons dropped by aircraft, shot from artillery, or launched by rockets that can scatter up to several hundred small bomblets or grenades over broad areas. The dispersed submunitions sometimes fail to explode as intended, sowing wherever they land with potentially lethal or harmful explosives.

The UN Mine Action Service recently reported that, by mid-February, some 840 cluster munitions strike areas had been identified and that an estimated one million unexploded cluster submunitions litter southern Lebanon. It also noted that 30 deaths and 186 injuries have resulted from the detonation of leftover cluster munitions and other ordnance.

The United States launched an investigation last fall into whether Israel may have used U.S.-supplied cluster munitions in Lebanon contrary to a bilateral export agreement restricting their use. The regulations are secret, but they are generally understood to bar the use of cluster munitions against targets that are in populated areas or that are not strictly military. Washington initially imposed the regulations after previously suspending cluster munitions exports to Israel from 1982 to 1988 following allegations that Israeli forces improperly used such arms in attacks against Lebanese civilians.

In a classified report delivered to the Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs Committees, the State Department made a preliminary finding that there “could have been some violations” of U.S. export rules during last year’s war, State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack said Jan. 29. He told reporters that he would not speculate on actions Congress or the administration might take in response because the investigation was still ongoing.

A State Department official told Arms Control Today Feb. 20 that “we are continuing to gather information.” The official added, “As we learn more, we will take action as appropriate.”

Some lawmakers are not waiting on a final investigation outcome to address the cluster munitions issue. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), and Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced legislation Feb. 14 to prohibit U.S. use, sale, or transfer of cluster munitions that have submunitions with failure rates greater than one percent. The bill also requires that cluster munitions only be used against “clearly defined military targets” and not in areas where civilians are present or normally inhabit. The president for national security reasons could waive the first restriction on failure rates, but not the second limitation.

Feinstein and Leahy proposed similar legislation last year as an amendment to the annual defense spending bill, but the Senate rejected it 70-30. Opponents argued the measure might impair U.S. military operations.

U.S. policy since the fall of 2004 has prohibited the Pentagon from procuring new cluster munitions with submunitions that have failure rates greater than one percent. The policy, however, does not forbid U.S. armed forces from using some 5.5 million older, stockpiled cluster munitions that might not meet the higher performance standard.

“The impact of unexploded cluster bombs on civilian populations has been devastating,” Feinstein said Feb. 14, citing estimates that past U.S. use of such weapons in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, and Laos has caused thousands of civilian casualties. She also noted that she had been motivated in part by “recent developments in Lebanon.”

Israeli officials contend they took every precaution to avoid civilian casualties, including warnings to noncombatants through leaflets, talks with local leaders, and phone calls to evacuate areas where Hezbollah fighters were present. Still, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) initiated a review last November of its cluster munitions use in Lebanon.

David Siegel, a spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, told Arms Control Today Feb. 21 that the IDF inquiry was “still underway” but nearing completion. He also said Israel had provided “detailed responses” to U.S. investigators.

In the conflict’s aftermath, Siegel also said Israel had provided assistance “as extensive as possible,” including maps, coordinates, and training, to help locate and clear the cluster munitions remnants. Some UN officials and nongovernmental humanitarian and demining groups have contended that Israel has not given enough specific details to help with the cleanup.

Governments, including the United States, have donated at least $21.5 million for cleaning up and disposing of the cluster submunitions contaminating southern Lebanon. The UN Mine Action Service predicts the work might be completed by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, 46 governments agreed Feb. 23 in Oslo, Norway, to negotiate by 2008 a legally-binding treaty to ban cluster munitions that cause “unacceptable harm to civilians.” Participating countries, which currently do not include Israel or the United States, will meet again in May in Lima, Peru.


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