"I find hope in the work of long-established groups such as the Arms Control Association...[and] I find hope in younger anti-nuclear activists and the movement around the world to formally ban the bomb."

– Vincent Intondi
Professor of History, Montgomery College
July 1, 2020
May 2007
Edition Date: 
Tuesday, May 1, 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)

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.”

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.

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.

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.

U.S.-Indian Nuclear Deal: Round II

By Daryl G. Kimball

The nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) faces enough difficulties without the additional burden of preferential treatment for NPT holdout states. Nevertheless, the George W. Bush administration won congressional approval last December for an ill-conceived nuclear trade bill that would blow a hole in U.S. and global nonproliferation rules. The legislation would allow India-specific waivers to U.S. laws designed to prevent the misuse of U.S. nuclear technology to build weapons, as India did in the 1970s.

Yet, the deal is not done. The United States and India must still conclude a formal agreement for nuclear cooperation, and U.S. leaders must win the consensus approval for changes to the guidelines of the 45-nation Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG), which restrict trade with states that do not accept comprehensive nuclear safeguards.

In the weeks and months ahead, U.S. officials cannot afford to make further concessions that could compound the damage to the nonproliferation system. Other leading governments also have a responsibility to help remedy the deep flaws in the deal and hold all states to a higher nonproliferation and disarmament standard.

In exchange for Bush’s commitment to help lift restrictions on nuclear trade with India, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reiterated India’s pledge not to resume nuclear testing and agreed to allow international inspections of more reactors by 2014. But India insists on keeping at least eight other reactors and India’s extensive military nuclear complex off-limits and refuses to halt the production of plutonium and uranium for bombs.

Under these circumstances, partial safeguards are all symbol and no substance. Even worse, U.S. supplies of uranium could free up India’s limited domestic uranium supply for weapons and violate U.S. legal obligations under Article I of the NPT not to assist India’s bomb program.

The Bush administration has brushed aside these objections, but new difficulties are surfacing that could derail the deal. U.S. and Indian negotiators are at odds over their draft agreement for nuclear cooperation. Under pressure from its nuclear establishment, Indian officials are lobbying for further concessions that would reduce accountability and increase the capacity of its civil and military programs but would be inconsistent with minimal conditions for trade established by Congress last year.

Current U.S. law stipulates that nuclear trade would end and U.S. nuclear supplies must be returned if India resumes testing or otherwise violates the agreement. Nevertheless, New Delhi wants to drop references in the agreement to these requirements and ensure that commercial nuclear contracts continue even if the underlying agreement is breached. Unlike 177 other states, India has so far refused to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and is under no legal obligation not to test. At the same time, New Delhi must face the reality that other states are under no legal or political obligation to assist India if it defies the world with another nuclear blast.

Congress also specified that safeguards on India’s “civil” nuclear facilities and U.S.-supplied material must be permanent and consistent with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) standards. India has rejected comprehensive safeguards but allows permanent, facility-specific safeguards for six older reactors. Nevertheless, New Delhi is seeking “India-specific” safeguards that would be suspended if foreign fuel supplies are interrupted. There is no precedent or safeguards plan for such an option, and it would be highly irresponsible for the IAEA or its 35-nation board to ever approve such a hollow arrangement.

Last year’s legislation specifically prohibits U.S. transfer of sensitive nuclear technology to India, including uranium-enrichment and plutonium-separation equipment. It also preserves a requirement for U.S. consent for the enrichment or reprocessing of U.S.-origin material. Indian officials are strenuously objecting. But so far, U.S. negotiators are resisting, partly because India has rejected permanent safeguards on its reprocessing and enrichment facilities and its plutonium-producing fast breeder reactors.

Finally, the deal must win the NSG’s consensus approval. Despite heavy pressure from U.S. and Indian diplomats, many NSG states remain skeptical or opposed, but until they see all the details, they are officially reserving judgment. Meanwhile, Chinese and French officials suggest the NSG should adopt “criteria-based” trade guidelines rather than an “India-specific” rule. This could open the way for nuclear trade with China’s ally Pakistan and possibly with Israel, creating additional proliferation risks.

To ensure that nuclear assistance to India or others does not aid weapons production, responsible NSG states must hold the line. At a minimum, they must reject proposals that could allow nuclear trade involving enrichment or reprocessing technology to any non-NPT member and bar nuclear trade with any non-NPT member that continues to produce fissile material for bombs or resumes nuclear testing.

The ongoing struggle to stop the spread and stockpiling of nuclear weapons will only become more difficult if leading states preach compliance for the many and create exceptions for their friends. India can gain access to the global nuclear technology market if it can overcome the urge to build up and improve its nuclear arsenal. For others, the proposal is a test of their commitment to a more universal and responsible approach to nuclear control in the 21st century—a test we cannot afford to fail.

The nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) faces enough difficulties without the additional burden of preferential treatment for NPT holdout states. Nevertheless, the George W. Bush administration won congressional approval last December for an ill-conceived nuclear trade bill that would blow a hole in U.S. and global nonproliferation rules. The legislation would allow India-specific waivers to U.S. laws designed to prevent the misuse of U.S. nuclear technology to build weapons, as India did in the 1970s.

Yet, the deal is not done. The United States and India must still conclude a formal agreement for nuclear cooperation, and U.S. leaders must win the consensus approval for changes to the guidelines of the 45-nation Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG), which restrict trade with states that do not accept comprehensive nuclear safeguards. (Continue)

UN Members Slow on Iranian, NK Sanctions

Paul Kerr

Most countries have yet to inform the United Nations whether they have relevant legislation in place to implement newly adopted Security Council-mandated sanctions on Iran and North Korea, according to recent reports from two UN panels charged with monitoring the restrictions.           

According to the reports, 68 states and the European Union have submitted reports on their sanctions targeting North Korea; 58 countries and the EU have provided information on their sanctions targeting Iran. The UN has a total of 192 member states.

Security Council officials seemed to differ in their views of the reports. For example, Italy’s permanent representative to the Security Council, Marcello Spatafora, who chairs the committee overseeing the sanctions imposed on North Korea, told reporters April 16 that the “atmosphere” surrounding the committee’s work “has been very constructive, very positive.” The committee did not consider any states “backtracking” in implementing the sanctions, he added.

In contrast, U.S. Ambassador Jackie Sanders commented March 23 that “some reports” had insufficient detail on the steps taken to implement the Iranian sanctions. She also expressed concern in her statement that “approximately 70 percent” of UN member states had not yet submitted their reports to the committee.

The Security Council set up the committees to monitor compliance with Resolution 1718, which the council adopted last October following North Korea’s nuclear test, and Resolution 1737, which the council adopted last December in response to Iran’s failure to comply with demands made in a July 2006 resolution. (See ACT, November 2006 and January/February 2007.)

Both resolutions imposed a series of sanctions on the two countries, including restrictions on importing and exporting a variety of goods and technologies. The resolutions were aimed, at least in part, to bolster ongoing multilateral diplomatic efforts to resolve concerns about Tehran’s and Pyongyang’s nuclear programs.

The resolutions required the committees to “seek” information from governments regarding their execution of the sanctions. Resolution 1718 requires governments to provide the relevant information within 30 days; Resolution 1737 required the data within 60 days. Both committees are to report to the Security Council every 90 days about their progress.

Belgium’s permanent representative to the UN, Johan Verbeke, who chairs the committee overseeing the sanctions imposed on Iran, said March 23 that 51 states reported they already have relevant legislation in place and seven others said they were in the process of implementing such measures.

Verbeke also reported that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) notified the committee in early March of the agency’s decision to suspend cooperation with Iran on a variety of technical assistance projects. (See ACT, April 2007.) Resolution 1737 states that the IAEA should limit its technical cooperation with Tehran to “humanitarian purposes.”

The committee’s workload has recently been increased by Resolution 1747, which imposed new restrictions on Tehran and expanded the scope of the sanctions described in Resolution 1737. Resolution 1747, which was adopted by the council in March in response to Iran’s continued failure to comply with the previous resolution, also requires states to report on their implementation efforts by late May. Whether the committee has begun work relevant to the March resolution is unclear.

As for the sanctions imposed on North Korea, 31 countries reported that they already have relevant legislation in place; 37 others said they were making progress in implementing the resolution, according to an April 16 report from Spatafora.

As of Jan. 10, 46 countries and the EU had submitted the relevant information, according to the committee’s first report.

States’ reports to the committees vary in length and detail. For example, the reports from Japan and the United States on Resolution 1718 describe those governments’ domestic regulations that prohibit or regulate items described in the resolution. The two countries’ reports on Resolution 1737 contain comparable amounts of detail.

By contrast, Egypt’s report on Resolution 1737 says that the country “does not supply” restricted items to Iran, but it does not list  any regulations governing the export of these goods.

Spatafora also reported that the committee issued a letter Feb. 21 to all UN member states that “addressed the issue of implementing” Resolution 1718’s ban on the export of “luxury goods” to North Korea, a term the resolution did not define. “[A]ny definition of luxury goods…would be the national responsibility” of individual governments, his report said. Several countries, including Australia, Japan, and the United States, have banned the export of luxury goods to North Korea. (See ACT, December 2006.)

The resolutions also assigned several other tasks to the committees, such as determining whether any additional items should be restricted by the resolutions. Spatafora’s report indicated that committee members have submitted amendments to the existing lists of restricted goods. Verbeke said that his committee has not received any such requests.

The resolution also charges the committees with adding any individuals or entities to the UN restrictions list. Both committee chairs say they have yet to receive such a request.

Verbeke and Spatafora said the committees are in the process of preparing “guidelines” for implementing the resolutions, as required by the Security Council. The committees also are to “examine and take appropriate action on information regarding alleged violations” of the resolutions’ restrictions. Neither Verbeke nor Spatafora indicated that there is evidence of such violations.

Asked about press reports that Ethiopia had purchased military equipment from North Korea, Spatafora said the committee has not addressed the matter. According to an April 13 statement from Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry, the country received a shipment from North Korea in late January that “contained spare parts for machinery and engineering equipment and raw material for the making of assorted ammunition for small arms.” The shipment was paid for before Resolution 1718 was adopted, the statement added.

Risks and Realities: The “New Nuclear Energy Revival”

Sharon Squassoni

The headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) sits in the suburbs of Vienna, in the northeast corner of a country that has outlawed nuclear power plants since 1978. The irony of this situation masks deeper divisions in the nuclear energy debate, which recent assertions of a nuclear renaissance have papered over.

Concern about greenhouse gas emissions and energy security combined with forecasts of strong growth in electricity demand has awakened dormant interest in nuclear energy. Yet, the industry has not yet fully addressed the issues that have kept global nuclear energy capacity roughly the same for the last two decades. Although nuclear safety has improved significantly, nuclear energy’s inherent vulnerabilities regarding waste disposal, economic competitiveness, and proliferation remain. Moreover, nuclear security concerns have increased since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Nuclear energy’s revival depends strongly on public sector support and financial backing. Even if it were true that nuclear energy emits no carbon dioxide, that it is renewable, and that it will provide energy independence—all selling points made by President George W. Bush—the fact would remain that nuclear energy is more expensive than alternative sources of electricity.

IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei has repeatedly cautioned that “nuclear energy alone is not a panacea, but it is likely in the near future to have an increasing role as part of the global energy mix.”[1] Such reticence from the agency tasked with promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy contrasts with the strong enthusiasm of business and media.[2] Yet here too, divisions are evident. Op-eds have swung between cautious optimism about nuclear expansion and growing pessimism about the proliferation-sensitive nuclear fuel-cycle technologies: uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing that could provide the essential fissile material for nuclear weapons. Such concern increased after the 2004 revelations of a black market network for uranium-enrichment technology led by Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan and the continuing refusal of Iran to halt enrichment-related activities.

The IAEA is at the forefront of efforts to manage future development of states’ fuel cycles so that access to weapons-usable fissile material—highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium—is limited, if not eliminated. As in the past, proposals likely to succeed are those that provide incentives to forgo sensitive fuel-cycle technologies rather than those that impose restrictions.[3] Even with such fuel supply assurances, however, any significant expansion of nuclear power is likely to prompt additional states to join the nuclear fuel haves. Already, Argentina, Australia, Canada, and South Africa have expressed interest in developing commercial uranium-enrichment capabilities. Ukraine is seeking cooperation with foreign partners “to obtain the full cycle of enrichment and production of nuclear fuel” to counter uncertain gas supplies from Russia.[4] Additional capacity in these states may not cause alarm, but it will make it increasingly difficult to justify why other states should not develop such capabilities.

Nuclear Power Today

Global nuclear energy capacity is currently about 368 gigawatts, with approximately 435 nuclear power reactors operating in 30 states. Three countries account for one-half of all nuclear power reactors: the United States (103), France (59), and Japan (55).[5] Most of the growth in nuclear energy occurred following the oil shocks of the 1970s. The low cost of uranium also helped make nuclear energy attractive. New nuclear energy development, however, started to slow after the Three Mile Island (1979) and Chernobyl accidents (1986) and after a drop in natural gas prices in the 1990s made gas-powered turbines more attractive than nuclear alternatives in Europe and the United States. Nonetheless, nuclear energy has been able to increase its share of electricity generation largely through better efficiency.

Coal and hydroelectric power still dominate the electricity market, with 39 percent and 19 percent shares, respectively, of world electricity generation. Nuclear energy accounts for about 16 percent of that supply, and gas and oil produce 25 percent. Renewable energy accounts for 1-2 percent. States that use nuclear energy to provide a significant portion of their electricity include Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Hungary, Japan, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Some 20 percent of U.S. electricity is generated by nuclear energy.

Front and Back Ends of the Fuel Cycle

Nuclear reactors are supported by uranium mining, milling, conversion, enrichment, and fuel fabrication. Almost 90 percent of the world’s reactors are light-water reactors (LWRs), requiring low-enriched uranium for fuel. Uranium resources are available across the globe, although Australia and Canada account for more than one-half of current production and more than 90 percent of reserves. Other key producers include Kazakhstan, Namibia, Niger, Russia, South Africa, the United States, and Uzbekistan. Although many countries may have uranium on their territory, the costs of extracting it could exceed the benefits for quite some time, particularly if it is of lower quality or quantity.

To be fabricated into fuel, the uranium must be converted into uranium hexafluoride. Four companies currently account for 88 percent of the conversion market: Rosatom (Russia), COMURHEX (France), ConverDyn (United States) and Cameco (Canada). Additionally, Brazil, China, Iran, and the United Kingdom operate uranium-conversion plants. Uranium enrichment, the next step in fuel fabrication, is conducted by four major enrichment suppliers, accounting for 95 percent of the market: Tenex (Russia); Eurodif (France); Urenco (France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom); and the U.S. Enrichment Corp., or USEC (United States). Other countries also have enrichment capability, although not all are commercial: Brazil (in commissioning stage), China and India (military), Iran (under construction), and Japan and Pakistan (military). Commercial capacity has exceeded demand for many years. Demand for enrichment was 38 million separative work units in 2004 while production totaled 50 million separative work units.[6] Although the IAEA estimates that enrichment capacity is sufficient for projected nuclear energy growth until 2030, other estimates suggest that substantial reactor orders would require “heroic efforts” to expand uranium mining and enrichment.[7] In addition, 16 countries have fuel fabrication plants, which take enriched uranium and process it into a form (fuel rods) that can be inserted into reactors. Four companies account for 84 percent of the market: AREVA (France), Westinghouse (United States), Global Nuclear Fuel (Japan and the United States), and TVEL (Russia).[8]

Spent fuel is either stored or reprocessed. Reprocessing uses mechanical and chemical processes to extract plutonium, uranium, and waste products from spent nuclear fuel. Currently, the plutonium is combined with uranium to form a mixed-oxide fuel, which can also be used in LWRs. About one-third of the existing stored spent fuel has been reprocessed. Worldwide, four primary commercial facilities reprocess plutonium from spent fuel for further power production: La Hague and Marcoule in France, Sellafield in the United Kingdom, and Chelyabinsk-65/Ozersk in Russia.[9] These four plants reprocess about 95 percent of all commercial spent fuel that undergoes the process. Belgium, Germany, Japan, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland have been the main customers of the British and French plants. Russia has reprocessed spent fuel from Finland, Hungary, and Ukraine. The Sellafield thermal oxide reprocessing plant closed in April 2005 after a leakage occurred and may reopen in mid-2007.[10] Japan has been reprocessing at the small-scale Tokai pilot plant since the 1970s, but the large-scale (800-ton capacity per year) Rokkasho-mura plant has been delayed for decades; it may begin operations this year. India, which is not a party to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), has three small reprocessing plants. Only one of these, PREFRE, is partially safeguarded. Other states have current or past reprocessing capabilities, including the United States, which reprocessed fuel for weapons purposes and, for a short time, commercial purposes. The current reprocessing capacity worldwide is about 5,000 tons of heavy metal per year.

In the 1970s, the United Kingdom and France anticipated scaling up reprocessing capacity to move to a plutonium-based fuel cycle, including the use of plutonium fuel in fast reactors. This has not yet materialized. Fast reactors, unlike the prevalent thermal reactors that use a moderator to slow down neutrons, are capable of fissioning a wider range of isotopes and thus can be used to “burn up” more isotopes in fuel. No state has been able yet to commercialize such reactors.[11] Given their reported expense and the relative inexpensive cost of uranium, there have been few economic incentives to move forward. Belgium and Germany, for instance, have stopped sending their fuel for reprocessing in anticipation of phasing out their use of nuclear power.

Why Nuclear and Why Now?

Sharp increases in oil and natural gas prices have made nuclear energy more attractive in the last few years. Whereas oil was priced at below $10 per barrel in 1999, it rose above $60 per barrel in March 2007.[12] Natural gas prices are often pegged to oil prices, and these too have increased dramatically. In the United States and Europe, new electricity generation in the 1990s was fired by natural gas rather than coal, but this is now changing.

Prices of alternative energy sources are just one factor in national energy policies. Improved safety and efficiency, at least in U.S. reactors, also has contributed to more attention to nuclear energy, as well as to regulatory streamlining and incentives for new nuclear power plants. Nuclear energy also is increasingly being viewed as part of the solution to climate change and energy security.[13]

Pressures from Climate Change

The Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change entered into force in 2005, establishing legally binding levels for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions of an average of 6 to 8 percent below 1990 levels between the years 2008-2012. There are many different routes to meeting the reduction levels, a discussion of which is beyond the scope of this article. Although increased efficiency and energy savings are a common-sense solution, these are sometimes viewed as conflicting with economic growth imperatives. The December 2004 UN High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change noted that developing nations viewed binding emission caps as impediments to economic growth, while industrialized nations were unwilling to reduce levels unless developing nations also did.[14]

Nuclear energy, relative to fossil fuels, contributes little to greenhouse gas emissions.[15] The extent to which increasing reliance on nuclear energy will solve the problem of greenhouse gas emissions, however, is doubtful. Power generation accounts for about 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, and transportation accounts for another 25 percent. Even optimistic scenarios of nuclear power expansion do not foresee a much-larger share for nuclear energy in overall electricity generation because, simply, electricity generation is forecasted to double by 2030.[16]

Moreover, much of that electricity growth will occur in the developing world, specifically in China and India. Because China and India are not bound to Kyoto Protocol reductions, their decisions on electricity production may be influenced by other factors, including cost and, in the case of India, a decision by the Nuclear Suppliers Group to allow nuclear cooperation with a non-NPT state.[17] Significant nuclear expansion will likely occur only after the time frame of the Kyoto Protocol because new nuclear power reactors will require 10-15 years to become operational following a decision to build. It is likely to take even longer in “new” nuclear technology states without existing infrastructure, including a system for regulating nuclear safety. Under the most optimistic scenario (five years to build), reactors under construction now will not make a significant difference in the time frame of the Kyoto Protocol.

Two years ago, the International Energy Agency concluded that “unless governments introduce new energy policies, growth in world energy production and consumption in the next three decades is projected to be 65 percent higher than the growth in the past 30 years.” More than 70 percent of that growth would come from outside the major developed countries, those states are grouped together in the Organization for Economic and Cooperative Development (OECD), with the largest shares coming from China and India. At the same time, the International Energy Agency noted that global carbon dioxide emissions would grow by 69 percent in the absence of new policies. Again, much of the growth would come from outside the OECD countries.[18] The carbon content of energy would increase because of the “declining share of nuclear and hydro power in the global energy mix.” The International Energy Agency forecasts that nuclear energy could drop to 10 percent of electricity generation in the absence of significant policy changes.

Assuming no significant policy changes emerge, nuclear energy is expected to grow to 416 gigawatts by 2030, about a 20 percent increase in capacity. This includes the retirement of 27 gigawatts of nuclear energy in Europe. Much of the increase will come from China, which plans to install 40 gigawatts of nuclear power by 2020; Japan, which plans to install 28 gigawatts by 2015; and India, which plans to install 40 gigawatts by 2030. The case of India is uncertain, as its previous goals remain unmet and its current plans assume buying a foreign LWR, a prospect that is far from assured.

Energy Insecurity

Many states are wary of depending on imported energy sources, leading states such as France and Japan to rely on nuclear power for most of their electricity needs. Recent cutoffs have underscored the instability of the oil and gas supply. In 2006 a natural gas price dispute between Russia and Ukraine resulted in a temporary cutoff of natural gas supplies to western and central Europe. In 2007, price disputes between Russia and Azerbaijan and between Russia and Belarus caused a temporary cutoff in oil supplies to Russia from Azerbaijan and in oil supplies from Russia to Germany, Poland, and Slovakia.[19] Other developments also have underscored the uncertainty of oil and gas supplies, among them temporary production shutdowns in the Gulf of Mexico and the Trans-Alaskan pipeline, instability in Nigeria, and nationalization of oil and gas fields in Bolivia in 2006.

Shifting to a plutonium-based fuel cycle was once thought to be a solution to potential uranium shortages, but many agree that the supply of uranium will be sufficient for several decades.[20] Already, China, Japan, and India are seeking to secure long-term uranium contracts to support nuclear expansion goals. Relative to gas and oil, the ability to stockpile uranium offers greater assurance of weathering potential cutoffs. Efforts also are already underway to establish an international nuclear fuel bank in an attempt to inject greater certainty in fuel supplies, although these are targeted at providing incentives for states to forgo uranium enrichment.[21] Uranium conversion, enrichment, and fuel fabrication—the three steps after uranium mining that are necessary before fuel can be inserted into a reactor—are now concentrated in a handful of countries. Although cost and economies of scale should argue against additional enrichment capacity, this may not be enough to dissuade some states from pursuing enrichment.[22]

Ultimately, only the development of breeder reactors, which produce additional nuclear material (plutonium or U-233) that can be used for future fuel, could provide real energy independence. Yet, the risks and costs associated with breeder reactors, which have not yet been proven commercially, are significant, especially where safety, security, and nonproliferation are concerned.

The Next Three Decades

Some nuclear expansion is already underway, but its direction is uncertain.[23] Where will expansion take place? Will expansion be limited to reactors only, or will it include enrichment and reprocessing facilities? What spent fuel disposal options will be necessary or desirable?

With the exception of South Africa, most of the growth in nuclear energy will occur in Asia and South Asia. One-half of the 26 reactors now under construction are located in Asia. States with the most growth have full nuclear fuel cycles; China, Japan, and India already have enrichment and reprocessing capabilities. South Korea continues to express interest in further developing a pyroprocessing technique that does not separate plutonium from uranium, as a solution to growing stockpiles of spent fuel.

Lack of strong nuclear expansion, however, has not stopped several countries from expressing interest in developing enrichment capabilities, including Argentina, Australia, Canada, and South Africa. None of these countries has a domestic reactor base that would require developing enrichment capability. Instead, they may be interested in enrichment to keep their future options open and for export purposes. Brazil, which is commissioning a new centrifuge enrichment plant at Resende, will likely produce more low-enriched uranium than is needed for its consumption by 2015. If such decisions were made purely on economic grounds, the thresholds for achieving economies of scale are high but not insurmountable.[24] One estimate is that indigenous centrifuge enrichment becomes cost effective at the capacity level of 1.5 million separative work units, an amount required by 10 1-gigawatt plants. Even then, such an enrichment plant is unlikely to be competitive with larger suppliers such as Urenco.[25]

More than a dozen countries without nuclear power are reportedly considering their nuclear energy options. These include states in Europe (Poland and Turkey), the Middle East (Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates), Africa (Namibia), Central Asia (Georgia), and Asia (Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam). It is unlikely that these states will pursue a full nuclear fuel cycle in the short run, but they may also desire to keep their options open.

A key question is what impact the U.S. Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) will have on global nuclear expansion. Will it make nuclear power “safe” for all states, as its proponents claim? The domestic portion of GNEP involves the development of “advanced recycling” of spent fuel, which overturns the 1970s-era U.S. policy of not encouraging the use of plutonium in the civil nuclear fuel cycle. The international component of GNEP envisions a consortium of nations with advanced nuclear technology that would provide fuel services and reactors to countries that “agree to refrain from fuel-cycle activities” such as enrichment and reprocessing. It is essentially a fuel leasing approach, wherein the supplier takes responsibility for the final disposition of the spent fuel. It is not clear if or how states would agree to refrain from fuel cycle activities, but the two components of GNEP together send a mixed message that recycling is valuable for some states but not for others.

South Korea, for one, seems to view GNEP as a green light to proceed with its pyroprocessing technique.[26] Until now, the United States has not permitted South Korea to reprocess U.S.-origin spent fuel because of proliferation concerns. Other states may be more interested in having someone else solve the problem either of spent fuel storage or high-level waste storage. Greater reprocessing capacity might help solve spent fuel storage but not necessarily high-level waste storage because no commercial reprocessing service will store high-level waste.[27] There also is no commitment yet to take back spent fuel, and delays in opening the Yucca Mountain repository, the first of its kind, provide little confidence that will happen. A further complication is the uncertainty of U.S. intentions. Although the Department of Energy has stated that, under GNEP, the supplier would take responsibility for the final disposition of spent fuel, it also has stated that the supplier “would retain the responsibility to ensure that the material is secured, safeguarded, and disposed of in a manner that meets shared nonproliferation policies.” As ever, the devil is in the details.

Implications for Nonproliferation

The expansion of nuclear power could have cascading effects on the nuclear nonproliferation regime, ranging from practical pressures to significant vulnerabilities. On the practical side, additional facilities will mean additional safeguards effort by IAEA inspectors. Although reactors themselves require relatively few inspection days, there will be significant work in helping prepare new nuclear states for nuclear power programs. Already, the IAEA has conducted workshops on infrastructure requirements, including energy needs and planning considerations; nuclear security and safeguards; physical infrastructure; current and future reactor technology; experience in developing nuclear programs; human resource requirements; and public perceptions.

Should a nuclear renaissance result in more states with so-called bulk-handling facilities (enrichment and reprocessing), the task of inspecting such facilities could place significant strain on the IAEA and the safeguards system. Some critics of the IAEA suggest that current methods of inspection cannot provide timely warning of diversion of a significant quantity of special nuclear material. Yet, the largest enrichment and reprocessing plants under safeguards now are under EURATOM safeguards; the IAEA’s role in verifying material balances in those plants is limited by the IAEA-EURATOM agreement. The only experience in safeguarding commercial-scale enrichment and reprocessing plants outside of EURATOM in a non-nuclear-weapon state is in Japan, where incidents with significant material losses have raised questions.

One question is whether new nuclear states would raise proliferation concerns by virtue of their geographic location, the existence of terrorist groups on their soil, or other sources of political instability. Would expanded nuclear infrastructure in Egypt, Jordan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Vietnam, and the GCC countries lead their neighbors to worry about and respond to the possibility that these countries will develop weapons programs? More broadly, will a nuclear renaissance that succeeds in limiting the number of states with uranium-enrichment or spent fuel reprocessing capabilities ultimately further erode the NPT by extending the existence of haves and have-nots from nuclear weapons into the nuclear fuel cycle? In the short term, efforts to limit expansion could slow some states’ implementation of the safeguards-strengthening measures in the 1997 Model Additional Protocol. In the long term, other decisions to strengthen the NPT could be jeopardized.

A nuclear renaissance that embraces reprocessing as necessary to reduce spent fuel accumulation could result in more plutonium in transit, providing more potential targets for diversion. A renaissance that includes widespread installation of fast reactors would similarly increase targets for diversion. Further down the road, will the next generation of reactors be more or less proliferation resistant than existing reactors? As of December 2002, the Generation IV Forum had not yet adopted a standard methodology for evaluating proliferation resistance and physical protection for the six systems under consideration.[28]

Finally, there is a larger question of whether technological developments will outpace nonproliferation initiatives, such as fuel supply assurances and multinational fuel-cycle centers, voluntary export guidelines, and further restrictions within the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Some recent criticism of the U.S. GNEP program has been aimed at the aggressive timeline for technology demonstration of advanced reprocessing, in contrast to developments more closely tied to nonproliferation objectives, such as supporting more proliferation-resistant reactors with sealed fuel cores that would limit handling of fuel.[29]


There is little doubt that nuclear energy will remain an important part of the global energy mix, but it is not the panacea that many advocates are selling. To begin with, a nuclear renaissance will take too long to have more than a negligible impact on carbon dioxide emissions that threaten significant climate change in the next decade. Further, the petroleum-dominated transportation sector, which accounts for 25 percent of world carbon dioxide emissions, offers few footholds now for nuclear energy substitution. (By contrast, oil only accounted for 5 percent of the global electricity mix in 2001.) In the distant future, perhaps nuclear energy may help offset transportation emissions through the production of hydrogen.

Nonetheless, nuclear energy could grow faster to 519 gigawatts by 2030 given significant policy support.[30] This would require not only that policymakers and regulators take steps to mitigate the inherent risks of nuclear power, which are calculated differently by all states, but that nuclear energy is as cost effective as alternative sources of electricity. Factors that may help improve the position of nuclear energy vis-à-vis alternatives include higher prices for other sources (natural gas and coal through a carbon tax), scaling down of reactor sizes to mitigate initial capital investment, regulatory improvements, and waste disposal solutions.

The nonproliferation risks of a nuclear renaissance clearly depend on the shape of nuclear expansion. More LWRs pose essentially no new technical challenges to the safeguards system, but additional enrichment or reprocessing capabilities in non-nuclear-weapon states could easily strain the system. A shift to fast reactors with reprocessing will likely introduce further strains on the nuclear nonproliferation regime. Fleets of fast reactors that burn plutonium could help diminish the size of civilian plutonium stockpiles eventually, but their cost effectiveness is highly doubtful. The provision of “cradle to grave” fuel services, as foreseen by GNEP, could go far toward limiting the spread of sensitive fuel-cycle technologies but awaits real decisions by key governments, such as the United States and Russia, on spent fuel and waste disposition. Clearly, measures are needed to help shape these potential developments to minimize the proliferation impact.


A Short History of Nuclear Power in the United States

The first commercial nuclear power plant in the United States began operation in 1960. The Atomic Energy Commission soon forecast that the United States would install 1,000 reactors by the year 2000, but this did not materialize. In the heyday of nuclear power in the United States, 41 orders for nuclear power plants were placed in just one year (1973). Five years later, however, the nuclear bubble burst. The last new nuclear power plant in the United States was ordered in 1978, but it was ultimately cancelled, along with 120 other orders. A combination of high construction and operating costs, safety concerns, the accident at Three Mile Island, and disputes over long-term storage of nuclear waste continued to make nuclear energy more costly than other alternatives. Nonetheless, more than 46 units entered service between 1979 and 1989.

Since then, the U.S. nuclear power industry has steadily improved its safety records and operating capacities and has lowered operating costs. Reactors with 40-year operating lives may now be extended another 20 years. Since 2001, U.S. national policy has supported new nuclear reactors, providing tax incentives, streamlined licensing, and funds for advanced research and development. As a result, utilities have expressed interest in applying for licenses for more than 30 new reactors. The 2005 Energy Policy Act of 2005, signed by President George W. Bush in August 2005, contained significant incentives for new commercial reactors. These include production tax credits, loan guarantees, insurance against regulatory delays, and extension of the Price-Anderson Act nuclear liability system. Higher fossil fuel prices and possible greenhouse gas controls may spur further interest by utilities and other potential reactor developers.

The Bush administration has supported nuclear energy since it entered office. In 2001 the National Energy Policy Development Group, chaired by Vice President Dick Cheney, recommended that Bush “support the expansion of nuclear energy in the United States as a major component of our national energy policy.” Specifically, the group recommended that the United States “reexamine its policies to allow for research, development and deployment of fuel conditioning methods…that reduce waste streams and enhance proliferation resistance. In doing so, the United States will continue to discourage the accumulation of separated plutonium worldwide.” The group also recommended that the United States consider technologies in collaboration with international partners “to develop reprocessing and fuel treatment technologies that are cleaner, more efficient, less waste-intensive, and more proliferation-resistant.”

In fiscal year 2003, the Department of Energy launched the Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative (AFCI) to develop and demonstrate nuclear fuel cycles that could reduce the long-term hazards of spent nuclear fuel. The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), established in early 2006, is now considered a centerpiece of the AFCI, and much of the AFCI funding will be spent on demonstrating a new spent-fuel separation technology called Urex+.[1]

In introducing GNEP, the Energy Department envisioned that the United States, which currently has 103 operating nuclear reactors, would install 300 reactors by 2050. “Advanced recycling” of fuel is a key part of GNEP. Commercial reprocessing of spent fuel, although rehabilitated by the Reagan administration, ultimately was abandoned for economic reasons. It appears that part of GNEP’s emphasis on recycling fuel is based on the assumption that the United States is unlikely to open a second repository for nuclear waste beyond the already designated site at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. At present, the United States has 55,000 metric tons of spent fuel in storage and is producing about 2,000 metric tons per year. U.S. officials have testified before Congress that, by 2010, the Yucca Mountain repository will be oversubscribed, despite an earliest anticipated opening date of 2017. Congress has passed legislation to authorize non-site-specific work related to identifying a second repository.[2] Nonetheless, many observers believe that there is no rush to take care of U.S. spent fuel and that reprocessing may not be the best answer.



1. Urex+ chemically removes uranium and other elements from dissolved spent fuel, leaving plutonium and other highly radioactive elements.

2. R. Shane Johnson, Statement before the Subcommittee on Energy, Committee on Science, U.S. House of Representatives, April 6, 2006.


Sharon Squassoni is a senior associate with the Nonproliferation Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.



1. See “Nuclear Power Not Panacea for Energy Supply, But It Certainly Helps—UN Atomic Chief,” UN News Center, December 1, 2006.

2. See Geoffrey Colvin, “Nuclear Power Is Back—Not a Moment Too Soon,” Fortune, May 30, 2005, p. 57; “The Greening of Nuclear Power,” New York Times, May 13, 2006, p. A16; “Nuclear Spring,” Chicago Tribune, May 15, 2006, p. 8.

3. See Lawrence Scheinman, “The Nuclear Fuel Cycle: A Challenge for Nonproliferation,” Disarmament Diplomacy, No. 76 (March/April 2004). For Scheinman’s discussion of past proposals, see Lawrence Scheinman, “Equal Opportunity: Historical Challenges and Future Prospects of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle,” Arms Control Today, May 2007, pp. 18-22.

4. “Ukrainian leaders See Nuclear as Key to Energy Independence,” Nucleonics Week, February 23, 2006, p 4.

5. Russia has 31 operating reactors. Eight states have between 10 and 20 reactors (Canada, China, Germany, India, South Korea, Sweden, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom). Five states have between five and 10 reactors, and 13 states have between one and four reactors. One-half of the states in the last category rely on nuclear power to supply more than one-third of their electricity needs.

6. This difference can be a little misleading because some enrichment demand is met by downblended Russian highly enriched uranium (HEU). Nonetheless, even the most optimistic estimates for worldwide demand by the World Nuclear Association posit 52 million separative work units by 2020. See International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), “Multilateral Approaches to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Expert Group Report Submitted to the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency,” INFCIRC/640, February 2005.

7. Thomas L. Neff, “Uranium and Enrichment: Enough Fuel for the Nuclear Renaissance?” Briefing presented at Global Nuclear Renaissance Summit, December 5, 2006.

8. Per Brunzell, “Nuclear Fuel Cycle; Technical Issues,” Briefing presented at IAEA conference “New Framework for the Utilization of Nuclear Energy in the 21st Century: Assurances of Supply and Nonproliferation,” September 2006.

9. See Frans Berkhout, “The International Civilian Reprocessing Business,” Energy and Security, No. 2 (September 8, 2005).

10. “THORP: Delay After Delay; Re-Opening Now Unlikely Until Mid-2007 at the Earliest,” Nuclear Monitor, March 19, 2007, p. 8.

11. The Russian BN-600 operates commercially now, but uses HEU fuel. See IAEA, “Multilateral Approaches to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle,” p. 78.

12. See Energy Information Administration, U.S. Department of Energy, “Petroleum Navigator,” found at http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/hist/wtotworldw.htm.

13. See Charles D. Ferguson, “Nuclear Energy: Balancing Benefits and Risks,” Council on Foreign Relations Special Report, No. 28 (April 2007).

14. “United Nations High Level Panel on Threats Challenges and Change,” UNGA A/59/565, December 2004.

15. The contribution is not zero because the inputs leading up to the operation of reactors require fossil fuels. See http://nuclearinfo.net/Nuclearpower/SeviorSLSRebutall.

16. International Energy Agency, “World Energy Outlook 2006,” 2006, p. 71.

17. See Fred McGoldrick et al., “The U.S.-India Nuclear Deal: Taking Stock,” Arms Control Today, October 2005, p. 6-12.

18. The International Energy Agency estimated that “power generation, which currently accounts for around 40 percent of the emissions, will contribute almost half the increase (or 8 billion metric tons) in global emissions between 2000 and 2030. Transport will account for more than a quarter, residential, commercial, and industrial sectors for the rest.” International Energy Agency, “30 Key Energy Trends of the IEA and Worldwide,” 2005, p. 32.

19. Deutsche Welle, “Merkel Puts Germany’s Nuclear Phase-Out in Question,” January 1, 2007, found at http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,2304599,00.html.

20. See Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Red Book Retrospective: Forty Years of Uranium Resources, Production and Demand in Perspective (Paris: OECD, 2006); World Nuclear Association, “Supply of Uranium,” March 2007, found at http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf75.html.

21. Oliver Meier, “The Growing Nuclear Fuel-Cycle Debate,” Arms Control Today, November 2006, pp. 40-44.

22. A single enrichment plant can supply up to 25 percent of the world market: 10 million separative work units, which is enough for 100 reactors.

23. According to the World Nuclear Association, 26 reactors were under construction as of January 2007, with another 64 planned and 156 proposed. Much of the short-term growth will come from Asia. India and China top the list of reactors under construction, with seven and five, respectively; China and Japan top the list of planned reactors with 13 and 11, respectively. China and South Africa lead in the number of proposed reactors (50 and 24), followed by the United States (21), Russia (18) and India (15). Of course, this latter category can be highly speculative. Meanwhile, other states are phasing out nuclear energy, and some are reconsidering decisions to phase out nuclear energy. Belgium, Germany, and Sweden have made decisions to phase out nuclear energy. In the case of Germany, the deadline is 2020, although Chancellor Angela Merkel has questioned this decision, given the need to meet Kyoto carbon dioxide emission targets and recent uncertainties about the reliability of Russia as a source of oil and gas. Seventeen nuclear reactors currently provide 30 percent of Germany’s electricity generation.

24. This discussion draws from an analysis generously provided by Harold A. Feiveson. See Harold A. Feiveson, “Global Warming, Radioactive Waste Disposal, and the Nuclear Future,” Arms Control Today, May 2007, pp. 13-17.. The IAEA Experts Group did not address the economics of enrichment, merely noting that there was little data on the topic.

25. IAEA, “Multilateral Approaches to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle,” p. 63. EURODIF produces 8 million separative work units per year; URENCO, 6 million separative work units per year; Rosatom, 20 million separative work units per year.

26. This technique, developed for metal fuel, does not separate plutonium from uranium. South Korea would then recycle the spent fuel in CANDU reactors. See “Pyroprocessing Might Be Nearing ROK Goal of Inclusion in GNEP,” Nuclear Fuel, February 26, 2007.

27. A complication is that the United States must provide consent to reprocess U.S.-origin spent fuel. For Russia to reprocess such fuel, a nuclear cooperation agreement (“Section 123” agreement) is necessary. This is currently under negotiation.

28. U.S. DOE Nuclear Energy Research Advisory Committee and the Generation IV International Forum, “A Technology Roadmap for Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems,” December 2002, p. 18, found at http://nuclear.energy.gov/genIV/documents/gen_iv_roadmap.pdf.

29. Matthew Bunn, “Assessing the Benefits, Costs, and Risks of Near-Term Reprocessing and Alternatives,” Testimony before the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations, September 14, 2006. See Jessica Tuchman Matthews, speech given at the First Annual Nuclear Fuel Cycle Monitor Global Nuclear Renaissance Summit, December 5, 2006.

30. For a discussion of the International Energy Agency’s Alternative Policy Scenario (APS), see International Energy Agency, “World Energy Outlook 2006,” pp. 361-385. The APS assumed that certain states would slow the retirement of reactors and that most reactors proposed already would come online with a few exceptions. This scenario did not account for states announcing the introduction of nuclear power, of which there are now at least 12 and possibly more. The scenario speculated that nuclear energy would be more competitive if natural gas prices hovered between $4 and $5 per million British thermal units (they are currently at $6.13); if coal exceeded $70 per ton (in the United States, it averaged $23 per ton on the open market, although prices are highly variable); if a carbon penalty was introduced; and if nuclear investment required less than $2,000 per kilowatt hour.


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