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Former IAEA Director-General
May 2007
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U.S., Russia Exploring Post-START Options

Wade Boese

Moscow and Washington recently initiated talks on what measures might follow the upcoming expiration of START, their landmark nuclear arms reduction treaty. Russia favors negotiating another treaty cutting strategic nuclear forces, but the United States prefers a less formal arrangement without weapons limits.

Officials of each government told Arms Control Today that neither side supports extending the 1991 START accord past its scheduled Dec. 5, 2009 expiration. The officials requested that they not be identified because of the early stage and sensitive nature of the discussions.

Experts from the two governments met March 29 in Berlin to exchange views on which elements of START they would like to preserve and to discuss post-START options. Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance, and Implementation Paula DeSutter led the U.S. delegation, while the Russian team was headed by Anatoly Antonov, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for International Security and Disarmament. Both sides say the next meeting has yet to be scheduled but should occur soon.

A Department of State official said April 13 that the Berlin meeting was a “positive start” and set the stage for a “potential productive outcome.” The official cautioned that the United States was not seeking “another treaty.”

Christopher Ford, U.S. special representative for nuclear nonproliferation, stated March 17 at a conference in Annecy, France, that the United States “hopes to ensure that transparency and confidence-building measures remain an enduring part of the U.S.-Russia relationship.” Such measures help each side stay informed about the other’s nuclear forces.

President Vladimir Putin last June called for negotiating follow-on arms limits to START. (See ACT, September 2006.) Russian officials reaffirmed that goal in April interviews with Arms Control Today, saying Moscow wants a legally binding agreement restricting both warheads and delivery vehicles. The Kremlin has indicated it wants a ceiling of 1,500 strategic warheads but has not specified a delivery vehicle level.

START obligated Moscow and Washington to slash their deployed strategic nuclear forces from approximately 10,000 warheads each to no more than 6,000 apiece by Dec. 5, 2001. The accord also limits each side to 1,600 delivery vehicles—ICBMs, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and heavy bombers.

As of Jan. 1, Russia reported it had 4,162 warheads under START, and the United States claimed 5,866 warheads. These sums, however, are not precise tallies of current holdings because of the treaty’s unique counting rules. For example, the U.S. total includes 400 warheads assigned to 50 MX ICBMs even though the Air Force retired the last of these missiles in September 2005. (See ACT, October 2005.)

In contrast, the United States informed lawmakers last October in an annual implementation report on the May 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) that operationally deployed U.S. strategic nuclear warheads totaled 3,878 at the end of 2005. (See ACT, December 2006.) SORT commits the United States and Russia to reduce their strategic forces to 1,700-2,200 operationally deployed warheads each by the last day of 2012. The accord imposes no constraints on delivery vehicles.

SORT also does not define an “operationally deployed strategic warhead,” and the warhead limit expires the same day that it takes effect, freeing the two countries to decrease or increase their arsenals. The United States is generally perceived as being able to financially support a larger arsenal than Russia.

The two sides currently use START verification provisions to help assess compliance with SORT because the latter lacks such measures. If no new verification mechanisms are established by the time START expires, a former U.S. verification official previously warned Arms Control Today that the two countries will be “flying blind” in their nuclear relationship. (See ACT, April 2005.)

A Russian official told Arms Control Today April 18 that “common ground” exists on continuing some verification after START. The official noted, however, that more intrusive measures, such as onsite inspections, would need to be included in a legally binding agreement to be permitted by domestic Russian law.

Under pressure from U.S. lawmakers and Putin, President George W. Bush reluctantly agreed to make SORT legally binding. Bush and other senior administration officials had contended a treaty was unnecessary for countries that were no longer enemies.

In a May 13, 2002, PBS interview, Condoleezza Rice, then Bush’s national security adviser, described SORT as a “transitional measure to a day when arms control will play a very minor role in U.S.-Russian relations, if a role at all.” Russia, however, is hoping to prevail on Rice in her current position as secretary of state to negotiate another arms reduction treaty.

Moscow and Washington recently initiated talks on what measures might follow the upcoming expiration of START, their landmark nuclear arms reduction treaty. Russia favors negotiating another treaty cutting strategic nuclear forces, but the United States prefers a less formal arrangement without weapons limits. (Continue)

U.S. Poised to Cut Ballistic Missiles

Wade Boese

As early as the end of May, the Air Force might start trimming the U.S. long-range nuclear ballistic missile force by 10 percent despite the objections of a few lawmakers. The service also is moving forward with plans to cut its nuclear-armed cruise missile fleet by approximately two-thirds.

The reductions are part of the U.S. effort to work toward fulfilling the May 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT). That agreement requires U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals to have less than 2,200 operationally deployed strategic warheads each on Dec. 31, 2012, although that ceiling will lapse at the end of that same day. In its last SORT implementation report, the Bush administration said the United States had 3,878 operationally deployed strategic warheads at the end of 2005. (See ACT, December 2006.)

The United States currently deploys 500 Minuteman III ICBMs in silos spread across the sparsely populated landscape of Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming. Each missile is armed with one, two, or three nuclear warheads.

Minuteman IIIs, first deployed in 1970, are the only ICBM the United States fields as of September 2005, when it removed the last of 50 MX missiles from service. (See ACT, October 2005. ) Washington also maintains 14 ballistic missile submarines, 21 B-2 bombers, and 94 B-52 bombers for nuclear delivery missions. The Pentagon plans to cut the B-52 force to 56 aircraft.

As part of its Quadrennial Defense Review last year, the Pentagon recommended reducing the Minuteman III force to 450 missiles. (See ACT, March 2006. ) The review is conducted every four years to assess whether the military is fielding the proper armaments and forces to meet U.S. security requirements.

Led by lawmakers whose states house the missiles, Congress last fall passed a legislative requirement forbidding the Pentagon from starting the reduction until 30 days after supplying a report to Congress justifying the move. Legislators received that classified report March 16.

An Air Force official told Arms Control Today April 20 that the reductions will not begin before May 25 and will take two years to complete. Strategic Command is in charge of deployed U.S. nuclear forces, but Air Force Space Command staffs the crews that operate the ICBMs.

Warheads removed from the missiles will be turned over for storage to the Department of Energy’s semiautonomous National Nuclear Security Administration. The missiles will be shipped to Hill Air Force Base in Ogden, Utah, where they will be used for testing, including experiments to extend the service lives of the remaining Minuteman IIIs another decade to 2030. No final decision has been made about what to do with the empty silos.

The 50 missiles slated for reduction are those of the 564th Missile Squadron located at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana. Two hundred Minuteman IIIs are assigned to Malmstrom, while the other 300 are split between Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota and Francis E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming.

The 564th Missile Squadron, known as the “Odd Squad,” uses a different command and control system than the other squadrons. Retiring the 564th Missile Squadron will permit the Air Force to eliminate the separate training and equipment necessary for maintaining it.

Captain Elizabeth Mathias, chief of public affairs at Malmstrom, told Arms Control Today April 16 that shutting down the squadron will result in the loss of 500 base personnel. She also said the move would trim at least $3 million in annual spending, although she noted this sum does not account for the additional savings gained from cutting the separate training and depot costs.

Montana’s lawmakers in Congress are objecting to the proposed reduction. They contend that if the missiles are retired, U.S. security could be weakened and the local economy will suffer.

Montana’s Democratic senators, Max Baucus and Jon Tester, sent a letter March 16 to Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne asking him to reconsider the reduction. Similarly, Montana’s sole House member, Republican Denny Rehberg, issued a March 28 statement declaring, “Obviously, the Pentagon is not getting the message that eliminating these missiles would weaken our nation’s defense.”

All three lawmakers have said they will contest the reduction, although their options are limited. Baucus has suggested he might put holds on a few nominations to gain some leverage.

A congressional staffer familiar with the issue said in an April 17 Arms Control Today interview that the Montana delegation was seeking to win “some trade-offs” to benefit the base and surrounding communities. Indeed, Rehberg acknowledged in his statement that he will “look for new ways to expand Malmstrom’s mission,” while Tester stated in an April 20 press release that “we’ll fight tooth and nail for a new mission at the base.”

Meanwhile, the Air Force is starting to take a substantial portion of its nuclear-armed cruise missile fleet out of service. Assigned for delivery by bombers, these cruise missiles fly at subsonic speeds within the atmosphere and can maneuver. The Minuteman III missile travels through space on a ballistic trajectory toward its target.

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ordered the Air Force last Oct. 17 to decommission all AGM-129 Advanced Cruise Missiles (ACMs) and shrink the force of AGM-86 Air-Launched Cruise Missiles (ALCMs) to 528. Air Force fact sheets from early 2006 reported the service had approximately 460 ACMs and 1,142 ALCMs.

In March 28 prepared testimony to the Senate Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, Air Force Major General Roger Burg said the service would not take “irreversible actions” to demilitarize and destroy retired cruise missiles until receiving “final congressional approval.” No serious congressional opposition has emerged to the plan.

As early as the end of May, the Air Force might start trimming the U.S. long-range nuclear ballistic missile force by 10 percent despite the objections of a few lawmakers. The service also is moving forward with plans to cut its nuclear-armed cruise missile fleet by approximately two-thirds. (Continue)

Nuclear Material Security Agreement Reached

Daniel Arnaudo

The United States and Russia have reached agreement on a plan for Russia to sustain and maintain U.S.-installed security upgrades at Russian nuclear material sites, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) said April 11. But a recent report from a congressional watchdog agency criticizes the lack of a similar plan for sustaining security upgrades at Russian nuclear weapons storage sites.

The agreement outlines a process through which the NNSA, part of the Department of Energy, and the Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom) will cooperate to sustain the upgrades while gradually allowing Russia to take full responsibility for the storage system’s maintenance. The NNSA said the agreement covers sites with nuclear material but does not include those locations where nuclear weapons are stored, which are subject to further discussion and are much more sensitive.

Indeed, according to the February 2007 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, both the Energy Department and Department of Defense have complained that they have had difficulty gaining access to the weapons storage sites where they have completed work to verify that the systems are functioning. The report expresses uncertainty over whether an agreement can be reached to allow sufficient access to maintain these more closely guarded programs.

According to the GAO, Russian scientists also report that although the Russian government has claimed it will have no problem in maintaining the systems, some sites have fallen into disrepair and would greatly benefit from continued U.S. assistance.

The report also charges that the current system is not sufficiently precise when it characterizes a site as “secure.” This definition includes both rapid and comprehensive upgrades, a distinction the GAO concludes is too important to ignore.

Rapid upgrades include basic security provisions, such as sealing old windows, replacing locks, and purchasing equipment for security forces and can be completed in six to 12 months. More comprehensive upgrades involve electronic security systems, video cameras, and alarms that can take one to two years to complete.

Nonetheless, the GAO also notes that the Pentagon and the Energy Department have spent about $920 million through fiscal year 2006 to secure (by their definition) 62 nuclear warhead storage sites and make significant upgrades to the transportation system used to transfer weapons from the nuclear sites to storage or disposal facilities.

Progress or Problems at CW Destruction Site?

Daniel Arnaudo

U.S. officials say they are close to signing an agreement with the Russian government to complete the building of a major chemical weapons destruction facility that has been plagued by construction delays.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities April 11, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Joseph Benkert stated that construction of the facility at Shchuch’ye “is now about 50 percent complete. We expect to amend the agreements and add the final contracts and funding to complete this project very soon.”

Shchuch’ye is a complex containing one-seventh of Russia’s roughly 40,000-metric-ton chemical weapons arsenal. The munitions stored there include some of the most dangerous chemical weapons—nerve agents such as sarin, soman, and Russian VX—housed in 1.9 million artillery shells and 600 rocket and missile warheads. (See ACT, July/August 2001.)

Former Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), an architect of U.S. programs to contain such dangers, described the stockpile in testimony at the April 11 hearing as “enough chemical weapons in that facility to kill everybody on the face of the earth three or four times over if it was disseminated in an efficient way. Of course, [it] wouldn’t be. Chemicals aren’t. But that shows you the magnitude.”

Nunn also said that when he recently visited the site, he saw open holes in the roof and that the buildings were slowly sinking into the wet ground and urged U.S. officials to complete an agreement and move forward.

Nonetheless, Benkert did not set any clear timeline for finishing the negotiations nor did he mention any dates for completing a project that has consistently encountered setbacks.

He also did not explain how completion of the project would be funded. Since Congress authorized the project in 1992, costs have risen from an initial estimate of $750 million to more than $1 billion. Although some money Congress has already appropriated has not yet been spent on the project, the Bush administration did not request additional funding for the project in its fiscal year 2008 budget request. Outside experts have expressed skepticism that Russia will be willing to foot the bill for any gap in funding.

U.S. funding for the destruction of Russian chemical weapons has always been contentious. In 1993, Congress mandated that Russia meet a series of conditions before the money was released, including accounting for their entire chemical weapons stockpiles and destroying all its nerve agents at Shchuch’ye. As Russia was unable or unwilling to meet some of these conditions, Congress eliminated funding in 2000 and 2001 and held it back for nine months in 2002 until lawmakers granted President George W. Bush the authority to waive the restrictions on national security grounds.

In 2006, Congress gave the president permanent authority to waive the restrictions. Despite this breakthrough, problems persist both with U.S. funding and on the Russian side of the partnership, according to a U.S. official familiar with the program.

In particular, the effort at Shchuch’ye has recently run into a number of problems that have slowed progress, including funding limitations, a lack of skilled labor, delays by the Russian government, and concern about subcontractors bidding for the project.

Problems with the Russian subcontractor bids made to the Parsons Corp., which was designated by the Department of Defense to manage the project, have become a significant obstacle. The bids all were much higher than estimated and would have left the project well over the budget set by Congress.

“Over the past year, there were significant problems ensuring that final contract awards could be accomplished transparently for prices that had a reasonable relation to the work proposed to be accomplished,” Benkert said.

But he added, “After detailed negotiations, we are now poised to sign an agreement with Russia, which will allow us to pull the Shchuch’ye project across the goal line within the U.S. budget. If that budget turns out to be insufficient, we expect to have Russia’s commitment to fund whatever is necessary to complete the project.”

 The new agreement that Benkert said was near completion would insert the Russian government into the process to accept subcontractor bids and more directly control the process, according to congressional sources. An apparent stumbling block to closing the deal, however, is a U.S. desire to maintain oversight and inspection over the project after the job of subcontracting has been handed over to Russia.

At the hearing, Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) posed just such a question, asking Benkert, “Has [the Defense Department] pared back the scope of its work on systemization of this facility and the training of the Russian operators as a result of this development?” Benkert replied that the Defense Department had worked to incorporate continued U.S. oversight into the agreement and that it will be “watching this very carefully as it progresses to make sure that, in fact, the work does what it’s supposed to do.”

Moscow’s original plan was to bring the facility online by 2006, but that deadline was extended to 2009 after discussions with the U.S. government. That deadline is now likely to slip further.

The facilities at Shchuch’ye and other sites have been established to meet Russia’s commitments under the Chemical Weapons Convention. Under that pact, Russia is supposed to destroy its entire Soviet-era 40,000-metric-ton arsenal by 2012, but it is widely anticipated that it will not meet that deadline. (See ACT, January/February 2005.)

In addition to the United States, other countries also have invested money and material in the project. Contributors include Canada, which has committed up to $25 million for the construction of a local railway; France, which has committed more than $6 million; and other countries, which have committed millions more through direct work on the project or through the G-8 Global Partnership.

The United States remains by far the largest foreign source of funding for the project, so its support remains critical. Congress in the coming months will have a chance to weigh in on this, including the lack of funds for Shchuch’ye, when it takes up fiscal year 2008 defense appropriations and authorization legislation.

U.S.-Russian Missile Center Faces Another Hurdle

Wade Boese

A long-stalled U.S.-Russian project to share information on missile launches worldwide might never advance if the United States bases strategic anti-missile systems in Europe.

Two Russian officials, who asked not to be identified, told Arms Control Today in April interviews that the fate of the proposed Joint Data Exchange Center was currently tied to the U.S. initiative to station 10 missile interceptors in Poland. (See ACT, March 2007. ) They said Moscow remained interested in the center but warned that position would change if Washington fielded the interceptors, which are intended to destroy missile warheads in space.

U.S. officials reacted with surprise when informed of the Russian statements. They said the U.S. government still supported the joint center, which is supposed to be established in a renovated kindergarten in Moscow.

The center’s intended purpose is to allow the United States and Russia to share missile tracking data in real time to diminish the chance of a false missile attack alarm and to build mutual trust. General James Cartwright, who oversees deployed nuclear forces and missile defenses as the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, described the center in a May 2006 Arms Control Today interview as “important for transparency.” (See ACT, June 2006. )

But the Russian officials indicated Moscow would be opposed to the possibility of revealing sensitive and technical information about its early-warning systems to the United States if it was deploying strategic anti-missile interceptors in Poland.

As of mid-April, the United States had installed 15 similar interceptors in Alaska and two in California. The Pentagon last September conducted its first successful intercept test of a target using an interceptor model that was the same as those deployed. (See ACT, October 2006. )

Initially agreed to in principle in 1998, the U.S.-Russian center was delayed by broader disputes over whether U.S. entities working in Russia should pay Russian taxes and be liable for damages. Such issues were resolved in a settlement last fall between Moscow and Washington for a more contentious project, raising hope that the center would soon benefit from a similar solution. (See ACT, October 2006. )

One U.S. official told Arms Control Today April 20 that the United States hopes last fall’s agreement will serve as a precedent for the Moscow-based center. The official further said Washington was only aware of “relatively minor” and “resolvable” issues concerning the center.

Russia has made no secret of its opposition to U.S. missile defense deployments in Europe. President Vladimir Putin and other senior political and military officials have railed against the proposal, threatening a range of responses, including militarily targeting the proposed base and withdrawing from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) and the 1990 Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty. The INF prohibits Moscow and Washington from possessing ground-launched cruise and ballistic missiles with ranges between 500 to 5,500 kilometers.

Russian officials dismiss U.S. assurances that the interceptors are to protect against a growing missile threat from Iran and are not geared toward Russia. The Kremlin asserts Iran poses no threat and implies the initial minimal U.S. deployment could be enhanced and expanded to potentially undermine Russia’s missile force.

In a recent arms treaty information exchange with the United States, Moscow claimed to have 530 deployed land-based ICBMs and 272 deployed submarine-launched ballistic missiles. All told, these missiles are recognized as carrying approximately 3,500 nuclear warheads.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov wrote in an April 11 Financial Times article that U.S. missile defense “capabilities may well grow significantly.” He also asserted their deployment in Europe “would fundamentally alter the continent’s geo-strategic landscape.”

The Bush administration is trying to placate Russia by providing it with a “serious offer for cooperation on missile defense,” Department of State spokesperson Sean McCormack said April 19. Moscow, however, has shown little interest publicly in the proposal.

Progress on UN WMD Measure Mixed

Wade Boese

Three years after the UN Security Council required states to enact measures to prevent nonstate actors from acquiring or using unconventional arms, progress toward that goal is disparate and muddled. The limitations are perhaps best summed up by the fact that the United States is calling 2007 “the year of implementation.”

In April 2004, the Security Council unanimously adopted UN Resolution 1540 mandating that governments institute and enforce “appropriate, effective” laws, border controls, export controls, and physical security measures to make it tougher for terrorists to arm themselves with biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons or the means to deliver such weapons. (See ACT, May 2004. ) The resolution did not define “appropriate” or “effective.”

The resolution grew out of a Sept. 23, 2003, call by President George W. Bush to criminalize proliferation and gained traction with the February 2004 exposure of the nuclear black market network ran by Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan. (See ACT, March 2004. )

The Security Council mandated that all states report within six months on their activities and plans to fulfill the mandates of the resolution and established a committee with a two-year lifespan to monitor and report on these efforts. In April 2006, the Security Council extended the committee’s lifespan another two years. (See ACT, June 2006. )

Only 54 countries met the original reporting deadline, but by last April, a total of 129 governments had supplied at least one report. Still, 62 countries, most of which are located in the Caribbean, the South Pacific, and sub-Saharan Africa, had not complied with the resolution’s reporting requirement. All countries with nuclear weapons, except North Korea, have reported.

Some of the nonreporting governments contend they do not have the capacity, resources, or need to report. In an April 18 interview, a British government official said that it was “too early” to judge whether some countries are “not willfully complying.” The Security Council adopted the resolution under Chapter VII of the UN charter, providing the possibility that countries could be sanctioned or penalized for noncompliance, although the issue has not yet been raised.

Slovakian Ambassador Peter Burian, chairman of the committee, made obtaining reports his top priority last year, launching an outreach campaign to inform governments about their obligations under the resolution. Despite three outreach seminars in China, Ghana, and Peru as well as other workshops, the effort had yielded just seven more initial reports as of April 20.

One source close to the committee told Arms Control Today April 18 that Burian still considers “very important” the “universalization” of the resolution as measured by states’ recognition of their responsibilities through reporting to the committee. The source said Burian views the outreach phase of the committee’s work as unfinished.

Nonetheless, an official associated with the committee said it and its eight independent experts would increasingly turn to compiling best practices or lessons learned as voluntary guidelines for countries to follow in implementing the resolution.

In interviews with Arms Control Today, several officials familiar with the committee’s work said the body was unlikely to recommend priorities to states because of the perception that it would be interfering with or encroaching on a government’s sovereign right to legislate.

The United States, as well as the committee, is urging governments to develop national implementation plans. Washington adopted its own such plan last May, but details of the document have not been made public.

A U.S. official and the official associated with the committee said in separate interviews that the process of creating national implementation plans was valuable in and of itself for bringing together government bureaucrats who otherwise might not talk.

Both also asserted that involving the private sector would be essential to the resolution’s long-term success. They said businesses had to be made more aware of their economic stakes in preventing a terrorist attack by use of an unconventional weapon or the trade they might risk losing if their state is perceived as lacking proper controls, regulations, and security measures. 

The official associated with the committee told Arms Control Today April 20 that countries needed to “set their own priorities” because a “one-size-fits-all approach” was inappropriate. The official explained, for example, that a landlocked country requires different types of controls than a maritime state.

A common challenge that many countries face is funding the measures to fulfill the resolution. Describing the problem of preventing nonstate actors from obtaining unconventional weapon as “huge,” the official said addressing it is “very expensive.”

The resolution calls on states that can do so to lend expertise or financial, organizational, or technical assistance to those governments requesting such help. Forty states have announced their willingness to provide direct assistance, although the committee is not tabulating delivered assistance.

Neither are some major donors. Both the United States and United Kingdom could not provide Arms Control Today with totals, saying they have many programs, some preceding the resolution, that contribute to the resolution’s goals. U.S. officials have highlighted one initiative, the Export Control and Related Border Security program, as allocating almost $132 million since 2004 to other countries for training and equipment to implement the resolution.

The committee does not seek to match potential donors with recipients. It describes its role as a “clearinghouse,” which entails maintaining general lists of assistance requests and aid offers. During a Feb. 23 Security Council debate on the resolution, Brazil called on the committee to be more active in facilitating assistance.

Guarding against biological weapons proliferation is an area most in need of attention and assistance because it lags behind efforts on chemical and nuclear arms, according to the official associated with the committee. The official attributed this disparity partially to the fact that countries can turn to the International Atomic Energy Agency in the nuclear realm and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in the chemical sector but do not have a comparable institution to turn to in the biological field. The 1972 Biological Weapons Convention did not establish any implementation body or secretariat.

The official said another area where countries need to step up their efforts is enforcement. Many countries have laws or controls in place, but they do not always apply them, the official said.

Still, all officials interviewed for this article agreed that the much more difficult work was yet to come. Many see the implementation phase as more complicated than the outreach phase, which they also cautioned must continue. The official associated with the committee said that all countries face a “long, hard slog.”

Tests, Arrests Draw Attention to Indian Missiles

Alex Bollfrass

Indian missile engineers are wasting little time celebrating their first successful intermediate-range ballistic missile test. With their confidence boosted, missile program managers have offered to develop an ICBM and announced upcoming missile defense tests.

This push for ballistic missile advances coincides with federal government charges that a U.S. company has been violating U.S. export control laws. Cirrus Electronics stands accused of transferring dual-use technology to Indian government laboratories.

Parthasarathy Sudarshan, founder of Cirrus Electronics, was arrested March 23 together with his sole U.S. employee for supplying Indian weapons laboratories with electronic equipment suited for ballistic missiles and fighter aircraft. The indictment cites an Indian government official in the United States and charges two Cirrus employees abroad.

The defendants are charged with violating several laws that regulate what can be exported from the United States and who may receive sensitive technology. Most military exports require a government license.

The Department of Justice says Cirrus, knowing its Indian clients were unlikely to be approved, circumvented the licensing process by first shipping the items to Singapore. The company also provided forged end-user certificates to its suppliers.

The indictment’s first nine counts allege Cirrus illicitly aided India’s missile program. The U.S. Department of Commerce maintains a list of companies and individuals ineligible to receive military and dual-use technology without a permit.

Two Cirrus customers, Vikram Sarabhai Space Center and Bharat Dynamics Ltd., are on the list because of ballistic missile development work. They are owned and operated by the Indian government. Both received static random access memory chips and other electronic equipment for use in missile guidance and firing systems.

The second series of charges involve combat aircraft technology. Military-use technology exports must be approved by the Department of State. Cirrus did not seek such approval for 500 microprocessors. They were shipped via Singapore to the Aeronautical Development Establishment, a government outfit, for use in the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft.

Circumstances surrounding this charge are diplomatically awkward. Indian government officials are directly implicated in the trafficking charges, despite past assurances to respect U.S. export law.

An unnamed Indian government official is believed to have accompanied Sudarshan on a visit to the microchips’ producer in February 2004. Seven months after the trip, India’s foreign secretary assured the State Department that facilities affiliated with the Indian government would never “obtain or use U.S.-origin licensable items in contravention of U.S. export control laws and regulations.”

Moreover, Sudarshan and his employees “were in frequent consultation with Indian government representatives and were constantly acting at their direction and behest,” according to the Justice Department. The indictment calls Sudarshan an illegal agent of the Indian government.

Previous circumventions of U.S. export laws have benefited Indian government weapons laboratories. Between February 2003 and April 2006, the Commerce Department investigated more than 60 possible violations involving Indian consignees. This violation appears to be the first facilitated by an Indian official in the United States.

India reportedly relies on gray-market procurement for some of its weapons programs, particularly uranium-enrichment technology. Its position outside of international regimes regulating weapons technology trade, such as the Missile Technology Control Regime, restricts its ability to obtain technology and materials from the international market.

The revelations also came at an inopportune moment as the United States and India attempt to move forward with a nuclear cooperation agreement (see page 30 ).

Separately, India successfully tested the nuclear-capable Agni III missile. This marked the first successful test after a failed attempt last year. The intermediate-range ballistic missile flew for about 15 minutes on April 12. The missile’s makers say it has a maximum payload of 1.5 metric tons and can travel more than 3,000 kilometers.

The international response to the test was muted. China, whose main eastern cities would be in range of the missile once it is inducted into the Indian arsenal, did not protest. Chinese officials have downplayed the risk of a missile race with India, possibly because China’s arsenal size and reach far outrivals India’s.

Pakistan, already in India’s nuclear reach, received prior notification as required under bilateral agreements. Its government refrained from comment.

Prior to last year’s test, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace signaled U.S. approval of such tests. Speaking June 5 in India, he said, “India will decide what India wants to do about testing missiles” and described such tests as “not destabilizing.”

The test’s domestic impact was more pronounced. It appears to have invigorated India’s interest in missile and anti-missile technology.

The head of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which developed the Agni series, advertised DRDO’s ability to develop an ICBM within two to three years. He added that the decision to do so would be a political one.

The DRDO also announced an upcoming missile defense test this summer. The anticipated interception will occur within the atmosphere, following last November’s successful test at an altitude of 50 kilometers.

Ballistic missiles can be intercepted in different phases of flight. November’s test targeted the latter portion of the mid-course phase, while the planned endoatmospheric interception aims at the terminal phase at 30 kilometers altitude.

The Agni III’s development was not aided by Cirrus’s transfers. Instead, the transfers went to laboratories working on the Prithvi series of ballistic missiles, which have a shorter range.

Three other systems were recently tested, beginning March 30 with a naval version of the Prithvi, the Dhanush. The supersonic cruise missile BrahMos underwent a 14th trial flight April 22 as part of its ongoing induction in the Indian army. Between these two tests, the Indian government conducted one of an unnamed system, possibly the Sagarika cruise missile.

In the meantime, Sudarshan is being held by authorities pending a May 1 status hearing. His sole U.S. employee is pleading not guilty and has posted bail. The trial is expected to take place in the summer or fall.

Indian Demands Slow U.S.-Indian Nuclear Deal

Wade Boese

As the Bush administration’s drive to revise U.S. and international nuclear trade rules for India has sputtered, U.S. officials have been expressing public exasperation with New Delhi’s negotiating demands and perceived foot-dragging.

At the Department of State’s April 20 press briefing, spokesperson Sean McCormack said that “there is frustration” over New Delhi’s approach to negotiations on a nuclear cooperation “123 agreement.” Section 123 of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act of 1954 requires the terms, conditions, and scope of nuclear trade with foreign governments to be codified. Congress will need to approve a completed U.S.-Indian agreement for cooperation to commence.

President George W. Bush has steered the United States toward reviving nuclear cooperation with India after nearly a three-decade hiatus. Washington essentially cut India off from such trade after New Delhi’s 1974 test of a nuclear device derived partially from Canadian and U.S. technologies and materials designated for peaceful purposes.

McCormack’s admission followed weeks of increasingly exasperated remarks by Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns, who has served as the administration’s primary intermediary with India. Burns has been quoted by several news outlets commenting on U.S. frustration and disappointment with the current state of play and putting the onus on India to get things moving again.

U.S. and Indian negotiators met in March and April but made little headway. McCormack admitted that the latest discussions did not “quite yield the results that we had hoped for.”

The shift in U.S. tone from last December has been appreciable. At that time, Burns predicted U.S.-Indian negotiations, as well as other necessary actions to make India eligible for U.S. and international nuclear commerce, could be completed in as little as six months.

But U.S. and Indian negotiators have barely inched forward on an agreement, largely because of Indian demands that conflict with U.S. policy and law. Declining to pinpoint specific issues, McCormack said, “[T]he Indian government has raised a series of issues in these negotiations concerning our laws.” He added, “[W]e’re not willing to consider at this point any further changes to our laws.”

Among India’s demands is that the United States drop a nuclear testing termination clause standard to 123 agreements. New Delhi also is resisting an obligation to return imported items if it breaches the agreement.

In addition, India is seeking the right to buy enrichment and reprocessing technologies, as well as pre-approval to reprocess U.S.-origin spent fuel. U.S. policy is to restrict enrichment and reprocessing transfers because such technologies can be used to build nuclear weapons. Similarly, the United States only has granted reprocessing rights of the kind India wants to Japan and the European consortium EURATOM out of concern that other countries might harvest plutonium for weapons from the spent fuel. In fact, India has already used this method to build its nuclear arsenal.

On another front, New Delhi has yet to initiate negotiations on a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Safeguards are measures such as remote monitoring and inspections designed to detect the diversion or misuse of civilian nuclear materials and technologies for nuclear weapons production.

As a condition of Bush’s effort to refashion a nuclear trade relationship with India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pledged India would divide its nuclear complex into military and civilian sectors and allow IAEA oversight of the latter. India subsequently announced in March 2006 that it would designate as civilian 14 of its 22 thermal reactors that are either operating or under construction and subject them to safeguards by 2014. (See ACT, April 2006. )

Although India never signed the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), the treaty commits the United States and all other nuclear-weapon states-parties “not in any way to assist” non-nuclear-weapon states in acquiring nuclear weapons. India falls into the treaty’s category of a non-nuclear-weapon state because New Delhi did not conduct a nuclear test prior to Jan. 1, 1967.

India maintains it wants “India-specific” safeguards, but it has not publicly clarified the concept. Still, India is generally understood to want safeguards that apply to facilities only when imported nuclear materials or technologies are present, which is inconsistent with the U.S. position and current IAEA safeguards practices.

Peter Rickwood, an agency spokesperson, told Arms Control Today April 23 that there have been no developments between India and the agency.

In an act passed by Congress and signed by Bush last December, U.S. lawmakers made the conclusion of an Indian-IAEA safeguards agreement a prerequisite for congressional consideration of a completed 123 agreement. (See ACT, January/February 2007. )

 An Indian-IAEA safeguards agreement also is understood to be a precondition for the voluntary 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to decide whether to exempt India from a 1992 group rule that restricts nuclear trade with non-nuclear-weapon states failing to submit all their nuclear facilities to IAEA safeguards.

In its December act, Congress also conditioned its consideration of a final 123 agreement on a consensus NSG decision to allow expanded nuclear trade with India.

Although McCormack professed that the administration still has “faith” that an agreement eventually will be reached, administration officials are clearly anxious. “This administration has about 20 months left in office, so we would very much like to conclude this agreement in the Bush administration,” McCormack noted.

North Korea Misses Disarmament Deadline

Paul Kerr

North Korea has failed to meet an April 14 deadline for implementing its portion of a February agreement to eliminate its nuclear weapons program. Progress continues to be delayed by an unresolved dispute involving North Korean funds in the Macau-based Banco Delta Asia.

The United States maintains that the dispute has been resolved because the bank “un-blocked” the relevant accounts April 10, the Department of State said April 14. Similarly, South Korean Foreign Minister Song Min-soon said that the “door to resolving the problem is now open in the way the North wanted,” Reuters reported April 11. But North Korea said a resolution requires that the funds first be transferred.

The bank matter has been a persistent obstacle to progress in the six-party talks since September 2005 when the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated Banco Delta Asia as a “money laundering concern.” The bank subsequently froze North Korea’s accounts, and other financial institutions curtailed their dealings with Pyongyang. The United States has asserted that the bank provided financial services to North Korean government agencies and front companies engaged in illicit activities.

The United States pledged in February that the Banco Delta Asia dispute would be resolved within 30 days. Daniel Glaser, deputy assistant treasury secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes, announced the next month that the two countries had “reached an understanding” regarding the frozen funds, but difficulty in transferring the funds has delayed resolution of the issue. (See ACT, April 2007.)

Kim Myong Gil, North Korea’s deputy chief of mission to the United Nations, told South Korea’s semi-official Yonhap News Agency April 24 that Pyongyang wants both the money to be released and the funds to be transferred to another bank. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Jianchao told reporters the same day that the problem has “yet to be resolved completely.”

A North Korean bank is currently engaged in “negotiations” with Banco Delta Asia “to settle the issue,” Ri Je Son, director of North Korea’s General Department of Atomic Energy, reportedly said in an April 20 letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The six parties, which also include Japan and Russia, met in March to assess progress and discuss future work. But the talks recessed after four days because North Korean negotiators refused to engage in further discussions until Pyongyang received the disputed funds. At the time, the six parties agreed to resume the talks “at the earliest opportunity,” but no date has yet been set for another meeting.

Lack of Progress

Following a September 2005 joint statement, the February agreement called on North Korea to halt the operation of its nuclear facilities at Yongbyon within 60 days and “invite back IAEA personnel to conduct all necessary monitoring and verifications.” Pyongyang also agreed to “discuss with other parties a list of all its nuclear programs.” (See ACT, March 2007.) In the September 2005 joint statement, North Korea pledged to abandon its nuclear weapons and “existing nuclear programs” in exchange for a series of political and economic incentives. (See ACT, October 2005.)

As of the end of April, however, Pyongyang had not shut down any of its nuclear facilities or discussed its nuclear programs. North Korean officials met with IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei once in March for initial discussions about implementing the agreement. No further meetings have been held.

In addition, five working groups tasked with formulating specific plans for implementing the remaining portions of the September statement have not met since the March six-party meeting. Nor has North Korea received 50,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil, which is to be provided by South Korea. The other five parties promised the fuel in return for Pyongyang shutting down its nuclear facilities.

North Korea will receive the fuel, however, if the government invites IAEA inspectors “immediately to begin shutting and sealing the Yongbyon nuclear facility,” according to the State Department’s April 14 statement. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill told reporters in Beijing the next day that North Korea would not receive any fuel oil until it is “prepared to move ahead.”

Asked during an April 14 background briefing whether Pyongyang must complete shutting down its nuclear facilities before receiving the fuel oil, a senior State Department official replied, “I don’t think we’ve attached a great deal of specificity to that.”

The other five parties have not set a new deadline for North Korea to fulfill its obligations under the February agreement. State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack told reporters April 23 that “there’s not an infinite amount of time.” He had acknowledged four days earlier, however, that “the North Koreans probably will” determine when the Banco Delta Asia issue is resolved.

Neither Hill nor the senior State Department official would say what consequences there would be if North Korea’s lack of compliance persists.

Grounds for Optimism?

Despite the lack of progress, there may be reasons for optimism. For example, South Korea’s top nuclear negotiator, Chun Young-woo, said that the Banco Delta Asia issue “is reaching a final stage of resolution,” Yonhap reported April 26.

The news agency also reported the same day that Kim Seung-kyu, head of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, told a National Assembly Committee that, although North Korea’s reactor is still in operation, the country has recently taken some steps that suggest that Pyongyang may be preparing to admit IAEA inspectors.

These activities, which include road maintenance, as well as “construction of a small building…behind the reactor,” could be “preparations to build convenient facilities and refurbish adjacent areas” in preparation for the inspectors, Kim said, according to a committee statement.

For its part, Pyongyang publicly remains committed to carrying out its obligations under the February agreement. For example, the North Korean Foreign Ministry stated April 13 that Pyongyang “remains unchanged in its will to implement” the February agreement and will “move” when the bank dispute is resolved.

Similarly, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (D) said on ABC’s This Week two days later that North Korean officials had said they would shut down the nuclear facilities and invite the IAEA inspectors after the funds were unfrozen. Richardson visited the country earlier in April as part of a larger delegation of current and former U.S. officials, including National Security Council official Victor Cha.

Ri’s letter, published by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, appeared to articulate a slightly different formulation. Although it asserted that Pyongyang will “invite” IAEA inspectors to North Korea “the moment the actual defreezing of the frozen fund[s] in the bank has been confirmed,” it added that the government will “discuss the issues of suspending the operation” of the Yongbyon facility. The letter said nothing about shutting down the nuclear facilities. Ri did, however, reiterate Pyongyang’s commitment to “implement” the February agreement.

Japan Renews Sanctions

Meanwhile, Japan extended for an additional six months sanctions that it imposed on North Korea last October, Foreign Minister Taro Aso told reporters April 10. (See ACT, November 2006.) Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters six days later that Japan does not plan to impose additional sanctions, according to the Kyodo News Service.

Sudan Accused of Violating UN Arms Embargo

Scarlet Kim

A UN report has accused the Sudanese government of flying weapons into conflict-ridden Darfur in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

The briefing, compiled by a panel of experts charged with assisting the Security Council’s Sudan Sanctions Committee in monitoring compliance with resolutions on Darfur, was leaked to the media April 17 by a diplomat on the committee. The committee, which includes all 15 members of the Security Council, has decided not to make the report public after objections were raised by three member states.

According to the report, the Sudanese government has been transporting weapons, ammunition, and other military equipment into Darfur without prior authorization from the sanctions committee. The arms embargo only applies to Darfur, and Sudan continues to obtain weapons from multiple sources, including China, which recently announced plans to enhance cooperation with the Sudanese military. Russia also reported to the 2006 UN Register of Conventional Arms that it exported 12  attack helicopters to Sudan in 2005.

Despite EU sanctions against the sale or transfer of weapons to Sudan, a British company, Dallex Trade, was recently discovered to have been importing ammunition into the country. In an unrelated incident, Land Rover has been accused of supplying off-road vehicles to the Sudanese police, who have subsequently mounted them with machine guns.

The UN report also alleges that the Sudanese government has painted military aircraft white to disguise them as UN planes. The planes have been observed operating out of Darfur’s three main airports and are suspected of conducting aerial surveillance and bombardment of villages in the region.

In an April 20 interview with Arms Control Today, Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem, Sudan’s permanent representative to the UN, categorically rejected the report’s findings. He said that weapons flowing into the hands of nonstate actors in Darfur were coming from “sources outside of Sudan,” such as Chad, which he described as a “traditional rebel supporter.”

Abdalhaleem also defended the presence of military aircraft in Darfur, stating that “Sudan is not a demilitarized country” and is legitimately restationing aircraft from southern Sudan as required under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which ended a 21-year civil war in that region. He denied that any planes had been painted white, insisting that photographic evidence of such aircraft was taken in other African countries.

In light of the report’s findings, the United States and the United Kingdom have stated their intention to pursue tough new sanctions against Sudan, such as expanding the arms embargo, imposing financial and travel bans on a broadened list of Sudanese officials said to be responsible for abuses in Darfur, and implementing an international no-fly zone over Darfur. Security Council members China, Russia, and South Africa have all voiced objections to such a move. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has asked the Security Council to refrain from imposing sanctions while he continues to press for a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Darfur.

News of the report came in the wake of Sudan’s decision to allow the UN to deploy a “heavy support package” comprised of 2,250 UN peacekeepers, 750 international police, and logistical and aviation equipment to assist the 7,000 African Union (AU) peacekeeping troops already stationed in Darfur. Khartoum continues to refuse UN and AU requests for the deployment of a 20,000-strong UN-AU force.

Abdalhaleem stated that Sudan was still committed to allowing UN forces to enter Darfur despite the threat of new sanctions. He said the country would “not fall into a trap” set by those states seeking to “spoil the peace process.”


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