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

– Setsuko Thurlow
Hiroshima Survivor
June 6, 2016
July/August 2007
Edition Date: 
Sunday, July 1, 2007
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Books of Note

Breaking the Nuclear Impasse: New Prospects for Security Against Nuclear Weapons
Edited by Jeffrey Laurenti and Carl Robichaud, The Century Foundation Press, May 2007, 142 pp.

This book is the product of a Century Foundation conference held in February. Summarizing the recommendations that gained the broadest support during discussions, Joseph Cirincione, vice president for national security at the Center for American Progress, and Carl Robichaud, program officer at the Century Foundation, identify nine goals for sustaining the nonproliferation regime, including the end of fissile material production, the removal and elimination of tactical nuclear weapons, and consistent reinforcement of nonproliferation norms. Several leaders in the field then propose means for achieving these goals, including approaches that seek to preserve the virtues, not the vices, of traditional arms control strategies and to use market forces to support nonproliferation. Despite the outward deadlock of the arms control debate, the authors maintain that positive advancements are possible if leaders strengthen their commitment to the principles of nonproliferation and disarmament. Ultimately, the book stresses the need for a comprehensive strategy, complete with concrete goals, to repair the political and structural inconsistencies in the nonproliferation regime.

Arms Control After Iraq: Normative and Operational Challenges
Edited by Waheguru Pal Singh Sidhu and Ramesh Thakur, The United Nations University Press, 2006, 452 pp.

Taking advantage of a wide variety of state and regional perspectives, this book, edited by Waheguru Pal Singh Sidhu of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy and UN Assistant Secretary-General Ramesh Thakur, covers how the strategies of nonproliferation and disarmament have adjusted since the war in Iraq and also how the “tools” of arms control have changed in their importance and impact. Several contributors discuss the new emphasis on counterproliferation and the switch from deterrence to “compellence” strategies. The efforts of the UN Security Council and the international community at large are discussed not only for their limited ability to enforce compliance but also for the role their ground-breaking verification bodies played in dealing with Iraq. In addition, points of view from the nuclear powers and other influential parties, such as Egypt and Japan, offer differing cultural and historical approaches to nonproliferation.

Global Non-Proliferation and Counter-Terrorism: The Impact of UNSCR 1540
Edited by Olivia Bosch et al., Brookings Institution Press, 2007, 226 pp.

Three years after its adoption, policymakers and scholars evaluate UN Security Council Resolution 1540, a 2004 measure obligating all UN member states to act to prevent nonstate access to weapons of mass destruction. In 14 essays, diverse authors from around the globe put the resolution in legal, historic, and strategic context and recommend guidelines for enforcement, lawmaking, and prosecution. Part one presents Resolution 1540 as part of the broader history of efforts against proliferation. Part two discusses the resolution in relation to nonproliferation treaties on nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and their means of delivery. Part three relates Resolution 1540 to other recent efforts, including the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative. Acknowledging that the resolution’s effects on nonstate proliferation have yet to be determined, the editors conclude that its most lasting contribution will be its validation of a globally cooperative agenda against proliferation.

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Breaking the Nuclear Impasse: New Prospects for Security Against Nuclear Weapons. Edited by Jeffrey Laurenti and Carl Robichaud, The Century Foundation Press, May 2007, 142 pp.

Arms Control After Iraq: Normative and Operational Challenges. Edited by Waheguru Pal Singh Sidhu and Ramesh Thakur, The United Nations University Press, 2006, 452 pp.

Global Non-Proliferation and Counter-Terrorism: The Impact of UNSCR 1540. Edited by Olivia Bosch et al., Brookings Institution Press, 2007, 226 pp.

Taiwan Buys U.S. Arms; U.S. Eyes China

Wade Boese

Taiwan’s legislature recently approved buying a dozen anti-submarine planes, a modest portion of an original $18 billion U.S. arms package offered six years ago. The purchase comes amid persistent U.S. questions about China’s military modernization and a new move to prevent American technology from aiding that drive.

Soon after taking office, President George W. Bush authorized selling Taiwan an array of weapon systems, including destroyers, diesel-electric attack submarines, and aircraft. (See ACT, May 2001.) Later, the United States added short- and medium-range anti-missile systems. Taiwan agreed to acquire four Kidd-class guided-missile destroyers, the final two of which were delivered last September. The rest of the package, however, became entangled in politics.

Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian has urged making the deals, but his Democratic Progressive Party does not control the legislature, the Legislative Yuan. Led by the Nationalist Party, the majority coalition in the Legislative Yuan has blocked funding for the weapons, arguing that they are too expensive and too provocative to China, which opposes foreign arms sales to the island. Beijing asserts Taiwan is a renegade province that should be under the mainland’s control and does not rule out using force to accomplish that objective.

On June 15, the Legislative Yuan approved buying 12 P-3C Orion anti-submarine reconnaissance aircraft and upgrades to its current anti-missile systems, the Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC)-2. The parliament declined to seek newer PAC-3 batteries. Lawmakers also endorsed further study of the submarine option.

The Legislative Yuan’s shift has been attributed to Nationalist Party maneuvering to increase the appeal of its candidate in the presidential election next March. Speculation also exists that the recent move was orchestrated to ease a separate requested purchase of 66 U.S. F-16 fighter jets. Washington has resisted moving ahead on the proposal, insisting that Taiwan first complete the 2001 offer.

U.S. officials have repeatedly rebuked Taiwan for not acting on the package. In a May 3 press conference, Stephen Young, director of the American Institute in Taiwan, noted that “Taiwan’s friends” question whether Taipei is “serious about maintaining a credible defense.” The institute serves as the de facto U.S. embassy in Taiwan since Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979.

Although Taiwan has essentially forgone major arms purchases the past several years, China has been working to improve its armed forces. The Pentagon noted May 25 in the latest edition of its annual report Military Power of the People’s Republic of China, the “balance of forces [is] continuing to shift in the mainland’s favor.”

The report highlights China’s 2006 receipt from Russia of the last of four Sovremenny-class destroyers and a final pair of eight Kilo-class diesel-electric attack submarines. Beijing also boosted its conventionally armed short-range ballistic missiles opposite Taiwan by at least 100 to approximately 900.

On the strategic side, the Pentagon upgraded the status of China’s road-mobile, solid-fuel DF-31 missile, which has an estimated range of some 7,000 kilometers, from developmental to “initial threat availability.” A Pentagon official told reporters May 25 that the phrase meant that the missile “could be employed in actual military operations.”

A longer-range variant, the DF-31A, which could target all of the United States, was still assessed as “developmental.” The Pentagon suggested that missile might become operational as early as this year, similar to China’s new submarine-launched ballistic missile, the JL-2.

These newer missiles have been in development for some time. The 2002 edition of the Pentagon report estimated that they would become available around mid- to late decade. All told, China’s current force of ICBMs capable of reaching the continental United States remains at approximately 20—no change since the Pentagon issued its first annual report in 2000.

Chinese leaders, according to the report, see space and counter-space capabilities as signs of prestige and power similar to nuclear weapons. China’s Jan. 11 destruction of an aging satellite in orbit (see ACT, March 2007 ) revealed only one element of what the Pentagon describes as a “multi-dimensional program” to “deny others access to outer space.”

China is funding its arms purchases, missile developments, and space capabilities with a growing military budget. In March, Beijing announced a nearly 18 percent spending increase from last year, to approximately $45 billion. The Pentagon, which in February asked Congress for $623 billion for one year, says China’s actual military budget could be as high as $125 billion.

China rails at such allegations. On May 28, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu blasted the Pentagon report as spreading the “myth of the China threat by exaggerating China’s military strength and expenses out of ulterior motives.” Qin Gang, another ministry spokesperson, defended China’s military modernization June 21 as “moderate and reasonable.”

Although the annual Pentagon report focuses on China’s capabilities, Washington says what it is really interested in and unclear about is Chinese intentions. “We wish that there were greater transparency, that [the Chinese] would talk more about what their intentions are [and] what their strategies are,” Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said May 24.

Possible conflicts with Taiwan are the near-term military focus of China, the report concludes. Yet, it also assesses that China is creating a base for pursuing “broader regional and global objectives.”

China’s growing capabilities has caught the attention of some U.S. lawmakers. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, warned at a June 13 panel hearing that China has “stepped into the superpower shoes that had been vacated by the Soviet Union with respect to military power.” But Undersecretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs Richard Lawless told the panel that Beijing “is not necessarily interested in the ability to stand toe-to-toe and go into a major conflict with the United States.”

Greater openness on China’s part could diminish the possibility of future conflict, U.S. officials say. Lawless noted that, without Chinese transparency, the United States is “put in the position of having to assume the most dangerous intent a capability offers.”

U.S. officials contend China is opening up slightly but not enough, particularly in the nuclear realm. Beijing has begged off recent U.S. invitations to engage in a nuclear policy dialogue, but Gates and other U.S. officials are strongly promoting the offer. “That kind of dialogue, whether or not it involves specific proposals for arms control or anything else, I think, is immensely valuable,” Gates said June 2.

The two governments are expected to begin exploring establishment of a military hotline this September. Still, Lawless cautioned that “there’s a lot left to finalize.”

Although seeking to improve relations with China, the United States is wary of China’s military rise. In its 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review, the Pentagon observed that China “has the greatest potential to compete militarily with the United States and field disruptive military technologies that could over time offset traditional U.S. military advantages.”

Aiming to prevent U.S. companies from abetting such developments, the Department of Commerce June 15 announced new rules on exporting dual-use goods to China. Dual-use items have civilian and military applications.

The recent measures expand the list of items that require U.S. companies to obtain a license when shipping to known military end uses in China. These 20 product categories include some high-performance computers, lasers, aircraft, aero-gas turbine engines, and machine tools.

At the same time, the Commerce Department is seeking to reward Chinese entities with records of not re-exporting or diverting imports to unauthorized purposes. Such importers will be eligible to become “validated end users” that will be exempted from getting licenses for some dual-use goods. In addition, the threshold for obtaining licenses for some dual-use items that are not destined for military uses will be increased from $5,000 to $50,000.

In a June 15 press statement, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez described the new rules as a “common-sense approach” that will facilitate U.S. exports to “pre-screened civilian customers” while denying goods that “would contribute to China’s military.”


Taiwan’s legislature recently approved buying a dozen anti-submarine planes, a modest portion of an original $18 billion U.S. arms package offered six years ago. The purchase comes amid persistent U.S. questions about China’s military modernization and a new move to prevent American technology from aiding that drive.

Soon after taking office, President George W. Bush authorized selling Taiwan an array of weapon systems, including destroyers, diesel-electric attack submarines, and aircraft. (See ACT, May 2001.) Later, the United States added short- and medium-range anti-missile systems. Taiwan agreed to acquire four Kidd-class guided-missile destroyers, the final two of which were delivered last September. The rest of the package, however, became entangled in politics. (Continue)

U.S.-Indian Talks Fail to Move Nuclear Deal

Wade Boese

Top U.S. and Indian officials failed recently to jump-start their stalled negotiations on a bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreement that both governments hail as a centerpiece of their new relationship.

The two sides sought to favorably portray the latest talks that took place May 31 to June 2 in New Delhi. The U.S. embassy there issued a statement describing the discussions as “useful,” while Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon deemed them as “constructive and productive.”

But the lead U.S. negotiator, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns, left town without addressing reporters. His quiet exit spoke volumes about the lack of results, particularly since the Department of State had announced May 1 that the goal of Burns’ visit was to “reach a final agreement.”

The agreement being pursued is known as a 123 agreement, after the relevant section of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954. It would set the terms of future U.S.-Indian civil nuclear commerce. The United States previously cut off most nuclear trade with India following India’s 1974 explosion of a nuclear device derived in part from Canadian- and U.S.-origin material and technologies imported ostensibly for peaceful purposes.

Menon said June 2 that he was not setting dates or deadlines for completion of the agreement “because I do not think that is the right way to negotiate something that is so complicated.” Still, he noted that the two sides would like to finish negotiations “very quickly.”

President George W. Bush reportedly has invited Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to an August stay at his home in Texas. They would probably like nothing more than to cap their visit with a finished agreement.

The two leaders put the entire effort in motion two years ago. (See ACT, September 2005. ) Bush pledged to change U.S. law and international rules restricting nuclear trade with India in exchange for a Singh commitment to open up a greater portion of India’s nuclear complex to outside oversight, specifically safeguards administered by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Safeguards are measures intended to prevent nuclear technologies and materials in civil programs from flowing to nuclear weapons.

Congress gave its blessing to reviving nuclear trade with India in legislation passed last December. In that legislation, lawmakers established conditions under which future trade could be carried out. (See ACT, January/February 2007 .)

After the congressional action, Bush administration officials predicted a speedy conclusion of the 123 agreement. But the process has slowed to a standstill over the past several months because of differences over the details of the agreement.

India is opposed to clauses that would terminate cooperation and mandate the return of imports if New Delhi conducts another nuclear explosion. India also wants license to deal with U.S.-origin nuclear fuel however it sees fit, as well as the opportunity to purchase reprocessing and enrichment technologies. Those technologies can be used to make nuclear fuel or nuclear bombs. In addition, India is seeking assurances that it will not be deprived of foreign nuclear fuel supplies in the event the United States ceases cooperation.

Neither side has been in a compromising mood. Existing U.S. law and policy limits U.S. flexibility, while the Indian nuclear establishment and opposition lawmakers are pressuring the Singh government not to budge.

Burns acknowledges the difficulties but proclaims confidence they will be overcome. “I believe we will reach the mountaintop,” he said in a May 23 speech.

Conclusion of a 123 agreement would not mark the fulfillment of the Bush-Singh plan. Before U.S.-Indian nuclear trade could actually commence, there would also need to be congressional approval of the 123 agreement, completion of an IAEA-Indian safeguards agreement, and a nuclear trade exemption for India from the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which operates by consensus.

A 1992 NSG rule restricts nuclear trade with non-nuclear-weapon states that do not subject all of their nuclear enterprise to IAEA safeguards. New Delhi does not do this, nor under the Bush-Singh plan does it plan to start. Because India is classified as a non-nuclear-weapon state under the terms of the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which New Delhi has not signed, it must get relief from the NSG rule to take greater advantage of international nuclear trade.

Despite some preliminary contacts, the IAEA and India have yet to launch negotiations on India’s request for unique safeguards. Meanwhile, some NSG members, such as France, Russia, and the United Kingdom, favor granting India a trade exemption, but other members must still be convinced. The group does not plan to take up the matter until a 123 agreement and IAEA safeguards agreement are negotiated.

North Korea Reactor Shutdown Looms

Paul Kerr

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials visited North Korea in late June, almost two weeks after Pyongyang agreed to finish implementing a February pledge to halt its nuclear reactor. Another meeting of six-party talks designed to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis may take place in July, but no firm date has been set.

An IAEA team led by Olli Heinonen, deputy director-general for safeguards, was scheduled to arrive June 26 in Pyongyang. North Korea invited the agency in a June 16 letter after a North Korean banking dispute moved toward resolution.

Heinonen told reporters June 23 that “[t]he purpose of the trip is…to negotiate details” about verifying and monitoring the shutdown of North Korea’s nuclear facilities located at Yongbyon, according to Reuters. IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei held initial discussions with North Korea about the issue in March. (See ACT, April 2007.)

Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill told reporters in Tokyo June 23 that North Korean officials indicated during a bilateral meeting in Pyongyang that the country would shut down its operating, graphite-moderated nuclear reactor within approximately three weeks.

Hill met with North Korean Vice Minister Kim Gye Gwan and North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun during a June 21-22 visit to Pyongyang. The visit was the first by a U.S. official in Hill’s position since his predecessor, James Kelly, went to Pyongyang in October 2002. National Security Council official Victor Cha visited North Korea this past April.

A June 16 report from the state-run Korean Central News Agency said that Pyongyang invited the agency because “the process” of resolving the Macau-based Banco Delta Asia dispute had reached the “final phase.”

North Korea agreed in February to halt within 60 days the operation of the Yongbyon reactor and associated reprocessing facility, which is used to separate plutonium from spent reactor fuel, as well as “invite back IAEA personnel to conduct all necessary monitoring and verifications.” But Pyongyang refused to shut down the facilities because it contended the bank issue had not been resolved.     

The Department of State argued in April that the matter had been resolved as the bank had “un-blocked” the relevant North Korean accounts earlier that month. But North Korea said a resolution requires that the funds first be transferred.

Subsequent difficulty in conducting that transaction delayed resolution of the issue. After several false starts, the funds were ultimately transferred to a Russian bank in which North Korea reportedly holds an account. The funds were transferred via the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank and the Bank of Russia. A June 25 North Korean Foreign Ministry statement acknowledged that the funds had been transferred, “thus settling the controversial issue.”

Since September 2005, the bank matter had been a persistent obstacle to progress in the six-party talks, which also include China, Japan, and South Korea. That month, 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.

Next Steps

IAEA spokesperson Melissa Fleming told Arms Control Today June 25 that the agency expects its team “to come back with agreed modalities” for verifying the shutdown. The IAEA Board of Governors must approve these plans “because this is a special verification mission,” she said. Fleming also confirmed a June 23 Los Angeles Times report that another team of inspectors is likely to go to North Korea in about two weeks.

U.S. officials have repeatedly emphasized the importance of resuming work on the remaining portions of the February agreement. State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack told reporters June 22 that “we need to really get to the point where the rubber meets the road.”

For its part, North Korea says that it is now willing to implement the second phase of the February agreement, according to the June 25 Foreign Ministry statement.

North Korea agreed to shut down its nuclear facilities as part of the first phase of a two-step agreement that contains initial steps for implementing a September 2005 joint statement. Pyongyang pledged in the 2005 statement to abandon its nuclear weapons and “existing nuclear programs” in exchange for a series of political and economic incentives. (See ACT, October 2005.)

North Korea’s fulfillment of its shutdown pledge would allow the other parties to implement the remaining elements of the first phase of the February agreement.

For example, South Korea is to provide 50,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil to the country in exchange for the shutdown. South Korean Foreign Minister Song Min-soon told reporters June 20 that “preparations are underway” to provide the fuel “similarly in time with” North Korea’s shutdown of its nuclear facilities and the return of IAEA inspectors, according to Agence France-Presse.

Hill told reporters June 25 that the United States hopes “to have a six-party meeting of some kind…probably in the second week of July.” He said that meeting would likely happen after the shutdown begins but did not say whether the meeting would happen before the shutdown is complete.

According to Hill, the meeting should focus on implementing the February agreement’s second phase, which is to include North Korea’s provision of “a complete declaration of all nuclear programs,” as well as the “disablement of all existing [North Korean] nuclear facilities.” In return, the other parties are to provide “economic, energy, and humanitarian assistance up to the equivalent” of an additional 950,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil.

Hill told reporters June 18 that the United States envisions the second phase taking place “in the latter part of this calendar year.” Regarding the disablement of the reactor, Hill asserted that the task could be completed within “several days, a couple of weeks at the most.” But he acknowledged a week later that the parties have not yet determined precisely how the reactor is to be disabled.

The February agreement also calls for a meeting of the six parties’ foreign ministers once the first phase is implemented. Such a meeting would likely take place in late July or early August, Hill said.

Hill argued during a June 19 press briefing that five working groups tasked with formulating specific plans for implementing the remaining portions of the September 2005 statement should resume their work. But a State Department official told Arms Control Today June 25 that the timing of those meetings had not yet been decided.

In Memoriam: Charles William Maynes Jr.

Zachary Ginsburg

Reviewing a biography in The New York Times on British arms control advocate and scientist Solly Zuckerman, Charles William “Bill” Maynes Jr. wrote, “One of life’s mysteries is why some individuals accomplish so much.” Maynes exemplified this mystery: he was a Rhodes Scholar, a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University, a foreign service officer, secretary of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, chief nonproject economist for the U.S. Agency for International Development mission in Laos, issues staff head for 1972 Democratic vice presidential candidate Sargent Shriver, senior legislative assistant to Sen. Fred Harris (D-Okla.), assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs, Eurasia Foundation president, editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy magazine, and an Arms Control Association board member.

An expert both on politics and economics, Maynes was named one of the most influential U.S. experts on foreign policy by the World Affairs Councils of America. Foreign Policy magazine describes his breadth of knowledge and experience as “legendary in Washington.”

“Bill Maynes was an important member of the generation that developed the legal and institutional arrangements for international security accommodation,” said Arms Control Association Board Chairman John Steinbruner. “His persistent commitment to equitable reason and his resistance to belligerence were inspirational qualities that will long be remembered by those privileged to observe them.” Maynes, an ACA board member since October 2001, died of cancer June 2 at his home in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

As an assistant secretary of state, Maynes oversaw peacekeeping operations in Lebanon and witnessed the independence of Namibia. After leaving the Department of State in 1980, he became editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy magazine, a position he held for more years than any other editor. Under his leadership, the magazine earned numerous awards and gained broader readership.

Maynes’ opinions on the course of American international affairs at the magazine were widely respected. During the Cold War, he criticized Republican and Democratic administrations for weak, incoherent foreign policy doctrines that resulted in a destabilizing reliance on military arsenals and interventionism. “There may be particular circumstances for which military measures are appropriate,” he and his predecessor at Foreign Policy, Richard H. Ullman, remarked in 1980, “but as a panacea, such a prescription represents a political hoax on the American people.”

During the arms buildups of the early 1980s, Maynes called for a diplomatic cooling between the United States and the Soviet Union. When opinion abroad of U.S. policies stooped so low that a majority of Britons believed the United States to be a greater threat to world stability than the Soviet Union, Maynes authored a 1987 article in Foreign Policy entitled “America’s Chance,” advocating bilateral arms control arrangements. He said, “Militarily, the Soviet Union has put the United States on the defensive on arms control issues.”

Amid the uncertainty of the United States’ unipolarity after the Soviet Union’s collapse, Maynes’ analyses on U.S. and transnational affairs were almost prophetic. As early as 1993, Maynes warned of brewing ethnic conflicts, such as those in Serbia, Sudan, and Afghanistan. To meet these challenges, which frequently have little regard for national borders, he urged collective security based on the UN Charter.

Responding to Ambassador L. Paul Bremer’s proposal of a unilateral, military-oriented antiterrorism strategy that would later become a guiding philosophy of the George W. Bush administration, Maynes commented that, “[u]nfortunately, this approach has been tried and has failed. Israel followed such an approach against the Palestinian movement and Britain against the Irish Republican movement, [and] among the Palestinian and Irish populations resentment grew and support for the terrorists increased.” Instead, Maynes offered a more diplomatic approach: “The key to making progress against terrorism is not a primary reliance on military activism but continued pressure to get states to live up to their responsibilities” principally through “progress on the peace front.”

From his earliest years at Foreign Policy, but especially in his final days there, Maynes became increasingly wary of media sensationalism and its political influence. In his last editorial as editor-in-chief, Maynes concluded that “all forms of the media are under pressure these days to hold on to viewers or readers.” Thus, “[t]here is rising pressure to find pieces or to spotlight issues that will shock rather than inform.” Maynes also warned that the U.S. political system had become one in which “ideas are no longer tools made available to everybody, [but] are weapons crafted primarily for one’s political allies.”

In the final decade of his life, Maynes was the president of the Eurasia Foundation, which “distributed more than $360 million to help establish democratic and economic stability in the states of the former Soviet Union.”


ElBaradei: IAEA Budget Problems Dangerous

Paul Kerr

Budget constraints are jeopardizing the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) ability to perform vital parts of its mission, particularly those most closely related to preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei has warned in recent months. Meanwhile, a committee established by the IAEA Board of Governors to review the adequacy of agency safeguards has ended its work after having made little progress in its deliberations.

According to a document obtained by Arms Control Today, ElBaradei told the IAEA board June 15 that the proposed agency budget for 2008 “does not by any stretch of the imagination meet our basic, essential requirements,” adding that “our ability to carry out our essential functions is being chipped away.”

The IAEA performs a wide variety of nuclear-related functions, including promoting safety in nuclear facilities as well as cooperating with countries on matters such as nuclear power and nuclear medicine.

It also performs missions critical to preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. For example, the IAEA implements safeguards agreements, which states-parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) are required to conclude. Such agreements allow the agency to monitor certain declared nuclear activities and facilities to ensure they are used solely for peaceful purposes.

Additionally, the IAEA performs functions designed to prevent the smuggling and theft of nuclear material, such as maintaining a database that tracks illicit trafficking in such material. The agency also provides assistance to states to help them prevent the theft of nuclear material.

Budget in Flux

The IAEA board has not yet agreed on a budget for fiscal year 2008, a situation that ElBaradei described June 11 as “disappointing.” The board could decide on a budget at an early July meeting, Agence France-Presse reported June 17, but that has not yet been confirmed.

The board is required to submit the agency’s annual budget to the IAEA General Conference, which meets each September. The director-general initially develops the budget with input from IAEA staff and member states.

Based on a UN formula, each member-state contributes a certain amount of funds to the IAEA’s “regular budget.” The agency’s total regular budget for fiscal year 2007 is approximately $370 million. The IAEA also receives voluntary contributions from member states.

The agency’s fiscal year 2007 verification budget, which includes the implementation of safeguards, is less than $145 million. The budget for nuclear safety and security, which includes measures to secure nuclear materials, is approximately $30 million.

Starting in the mid-1980s, a group of wealthy countries imposed a “zero real-growth” budget on the IAEA. Beginning in 2003, however, the agency has received modest budget increases.

For fiscal year 2008, ElBaradei submitted a nominally zero real-growth budget, according to another document obtained by Arms Control Today. However, it contains a separate category of funding for “essential investments.” Some governments have asked the IAEA to decrease its 2008 fiscal year budget, the document says.

Size Matters

ElBaradei warned June 15 that continued flat budgets would force the agency to cut back on some of its missions. Similarly, he argued four days earlier that the “dichotomy between increased high priority activities and inadequate funding, if continued, will lead to the failure of critical IAEA functions.”

Government officials and outside experts widely acknowledge that the IAEA’s workload will increase in the future. According to an April 18 Department of State fact sheet, “requirements for IAEA safeguards and inspections are expected to increase dramatically over time” because more countries are likely to increase their reliance on nuclear power.

At least in the short term, the agency also will need to devote more resources to other functions, such as evaluating information supplied by member-states as more countries conclude additional protocols to their safeguards agreements, according to a 2005 IAEA budget document.   

Additional protocols expand the number of nuclear-related activities and facilities that an NPT member-state must declare, as well as augment the agency’s authority to detect undeclared nuclear activities. So far, 82 out of 189 NPT states-parties have additional protocols in force; another 30 have signed them.           

A former senior IAEA official pointed out, however, that there are only a few states with significant nuclear activities that do not have an additional protocol in force.           

The IAEA would also be tasked with monitoring a multilateral North Korean nuclear agreement as well as a nuclear cooperation deal between the United States and India, if either became a reality (see pages 41 and 42).

Nongovernmental experts interviewed by Arms Control Today in June agreed that the IAEA needs a budget increase immediately. Government officials have made similar claims. For example, Ambassador Abdul Minty, South Africa’s representative to the IAEA Board of Governors, warned in a June 14 statement that the IAEA’s current budget situation could result in the “weakening” of the agency.

The State Department fact sheet also acknowledged that the agency needs additional funding. But in a June 21 interview with Arms Control Today, a knowledgeable U.S. official said that the urgency of ElBaradei’s case is “not proven.”

Agency officials and nongovernmental experts, meanwhile, have identified a number of IAEA functions that could be adversely affected by current budget levels. These include a number of issues related to the IAEA’s safeguards mandate. Indeed, ElBaradei warned June 15 that the agency’s “safeguards function is being eroded over time.”

As one example, he cited the state of the IAEA’s laboratories, asserting June 11 that they “are full of equipment that is outdated.” As a result, ElBaradei added June 15, the agency must “rely on a very small number of external laboratories” for analyses of environmental samples.

Both Matthew Bunn, a former Clinton administration official who is currently a senior research associate at Harvard University, and Andreas Persbo, a researcher at the Verification Research, Training, and Information Center, agreed with ElBaradei’s assessment.

The agency takes environmental samples from countries’ nuclear facilities in order to determine, for example, if a country used them for secret activities involving nuclear material. The use of such samples is expected to increase, according to the 2005 budget document.

Additionally, the former IAEA official argued that the IAEA will need to buy more satellite images for its future safeguards work.

Both ElBaradei and Bunn have indicated that the IAEA needs additional as well as new types of equipment for conducting its safeguards activities.

Both also have argued that the agency’s budget for nuclear security is too low. ElBaradei complained June 15 that the IAEA relies on “highly unpredictable” voluntary contributions for 90 percent of that budget.

Safeguards Committee Ends Work

Meanwhile, a committee established in June 2005 to consider methods for improving IAEA safeguards has ended its work without making any recommendations.

The United States pushed the IAEA board to establish the Advisory Committee on Safeguards and Verification after President George W. Bush called for its formation in a 2004 speech. The committee, which was granted a two-year term, was expected to provide advice to the board on whether current safeguards are sufficient for dealing with potential proliferation challenges, such as clandestine nuclear programs and the threat of nuclear terrorism. (See ACT, July/August 2006.)

A Vienna-based diplomat told Arms Control Today June 21 that the committee, which held a total of six meetings, was ultimately unable to reach consensus on a list of 18 recommendations provided by the IAEA secretariat.

ElBaradei stated in June 2005 that the IAEA board would decide after two years whether to extend the committee’s mandate. However, “there are no immediate plans” for continuing its work, the Vienna diplomat said.

The diplomat added that the committee was supposed to generate ideas for improving safeguards, but disagreements among the members prevented this, leading the group to ask the secretariat to provide recommendations.

The secretariat circulated technical papers in May 2006 that described measures to improve the safeguards system, including augmenting the capabilities of the agency’s laboratory network, encouraging states to provide the agency with data about nuclear-related transactions, and expanding the list of materials and equipment that NPT states-parties are required to declare under additional protocols. The secretariat also suggested means of increasing the IAEA’s use of satellite imagery, but the diplomat said that the committee’s discussions about the subject were not productive.

From the beginning, the committee was characterized by its members’ lack of willingness to be “constructive,” the diplomat said, explaining that many states perceived the process to be “political” rather than “technical.” Disagreement about persistently contentious issues related to the NPT, such as whether states-parties should place more emphasis on non-nuclear-weapon states’ compliance with safeguards obligations or nuclear-weapon states’ obligations to reduce their nuclear arsenals, contributed to the committee’s lack of progress, the diplomat said.

Corrected online August 29, 2008. See explanation.


Sanctions on Iran Grow

Paul Kerr and Wade Boese

During the past several months, the U.S. Departments of State and the Treasury have placed sanctions on several Iranian entities that they claim have engaged in activities related to Tehran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Meanwhile, the international community has moved forward in implementing other sanctions on Iran that were imposed in UN Security Council resolutions.

In June 2005, President George W. Bush authorized the Treasury Department in Executive Order 13382 to freeze the U.S. assets of foreign entities suspected of supplying or supporting the development of unconventional arms and ballistic or cruise missile programs. (See ACT, September 2005. ) The order bars U.S. citizens, companies, and institutions from doing business or facilitating transactions with sanctioned entities, a term that encompasses individuals, private companies, or government agencies. Other foreign entities that do business with those already sanctioned risk being penalized as well.

The Treasury Department recently added a total of seven Iranian entities in three separate announcements. The first announcement was in April, the second and third in June. Earlier this year, the department added nine entities to the list, six of which were Iranian. (See ACT, March 2007. )

The U.S. government has designated a total of 43 entities under the executive order; 20 are Iranian. Of those, 15 are subsidiaries of five other entities.

Whether any of these designees have any assets under U.S. jurisdiction is unclear. Treasury Department spokesperson Molly Millerwise told Arms Control Today June 28 that the department does not disclose such information. Asked whether the assets belonging to subsidiaries of designated parent entities also are frozen, Millerwise explained that “all of” a designated company’s “property and interests in property are blocked. Depending on the facts and circumstances, its investments in other companies may be considered blocked property.”

Almost all of the recently designated entities are listed in an annex to UN Security Council Resolution 1737, which was adopted last December. The two exceptions are Iran’s Aerospace Industries Organization and a related entity, Mizan Machine Manufacturing Group. The resolution imposed a series of sanctions on Iran, including restrictions on importing and exporting a variety of goods and technologies related to Tehran’s nuclear and missile programs. (See ACT, April 2007. )

On April 3, the State Department designated Iran’s Defense Industries Organization under the executive order for activities “that have materially contributed to, or pose a risk of materially contributing to, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or their means of delivery,” according to an announcement in the Federal Register. The State Department provided no details, but the annex to Resolution 1737 describes the Defense Industries Organization as an “overarching” entity controlled by Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics. Some of the organization’s “subordinates” have been involved in Iran’s centrifuge and missile programs, according to the annex. The April 3 designation was the first such action by the State Department under the executive order.

On June 8, the Treasury Department designated two companies, Pars Tarash and Farayand Technique, for their involvement with Iran’s gas centrifuge-based uranium-enrichment program. There is widespread concern within the international community that this program could be used to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. Tehran maintains that the program is exclusively to produce fuel for nuclear reactors (see page 26 ). 

The companies are connected to Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, the Kalaye Electric Company, or both, according to a department press release.

Bush included the Atomic Energy Organization, which the Treasury Department describes as “the main Iranian institute for research and development activities in the field of nuclear technology,” in an annex to the original 2005 executive order. The Kalaye Electric Company, a subsidiary of the organization, was similarly designated in February 2007. (See ACT, March 2007. )

On June 15, the department designated two individuals, Mohammad Qannadi and Ali Hajinia Leilabadi. According to a department press release issued that day, Qannadi and Leilabadi act or purport to act “for or on behalf of” Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization and the Mesbah Energy Company respectively. The Mesbah Energy Company is an Atomic Energy Organization “subordinate,” which the Treasury Department designated in January 2006.

Mesbah Energy Company has been used to “procure products for Iran’s heavy water project,” the press release stated. Iran is constructing a heavy water-moderated nuclear reactor and an associated heavy-water plant. The annex to Resolution 1737 describes the company as a “provider” for the reactor project. The United States and other countries suspect that the reactor could be used to produce plutonium for fissile material in nuclear weapons.

The United States also has targeted entities involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program. On June 8, the Treasury Department designated Fajr Industries Group and Mizan Machine Manufacturing Group under the 2005 executive order. Both are connected to Iran’s Aerospace Industries Organization, according to the department.

The Aerospace Industries Organization, which was also identified in the original executive order’s annex, “is a subsidiary of the Iranian Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics, and is the overall manager and coordinator of Iran’s missile program.”

Both of the newly designated entities are involved in procuring equipment and materials for Iran’s ballistic missile program, according to the department, whose June 8 press release provided some details about these activities.

For example, it stated that Fajr Industries Group “has consistently procured a wide range of missile guidance and control equipment on behalf of” the Aerospace Industries Organization. Since the late 1990s, the company has “purchased high strength steel alloy, useful for guidance equipment in ballistic missiles,” the press release said.

For its part, the Mizan Machine Manufacturing Group purchased in April 2005 “a state-of-the-art crane…probably intended for use in Iran’s Shahab missile program,” the press release says, adding that such cranes “can be used to support missiles…in the field or at storage facilities.” The Shahab-3 is the longest-range missile that Iran has deployed to date. (See ACT, January/February 2007. )

Additionally, the company acted on behalf of the Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, a “subordinate entity” of the Aerospace Industries Organization, to acquire equipment “that could be used to calibrate guidance and control instruments for more accurate [ballistic missile] targeting.”

State Department Sanctions

Earlier this year, the State Department imposed sanctions on 31 entities under the Iran and Syria Nonproliferation Act for unspecified transfers of items, either to or from Iran or Syria, related to weapons of mass destruction, certain conventional weapons, and ballistic or cruise missiles. 

For two years, the sanctioned entities will be prohibited from receiving U.S. government contracts, assistance, or military trade, as well as any goods controlled by the 1979 Export Administration Act, which regulates exports that have both civilian and military purposes. The State Department provided no details about the entities’ activities.

According to announcements published in the Federal Register Jan. 5 and April 23, two dozen entities located in 10 countries were sanctioned in January; 13 entities located in seven countries were sanctioned in April. The State Department in April also sanctioned Hezbollah, a foreign terrorist organization.

Of the penalized entities, four were Iranian. One of these, the Sanam Industrial Group, also is designated under Resolution 1747, which contains an annex similar to that of Resolution 1737. The council adopted Resolution 1747 March 24. Iran’s Defense Industries Organization was sanctioned both in January and April.

Except for Hezbollah, the other entities are located in 10 other countries: China, Iraq, Malaysia, Mexico, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, Sudan, and Syria. Six of these entities were sanctioned both in January and April.

Implementation of UN Sanctions Continues

Belgium’s UN permanent representative Johan Verbeke, who chairs the committee overseeing the sanctions imposed on Iran, gave a progress report to the Security Council June 21. The Security Council set up the committee to monitor countries’ compliance with Resolutions 1737 and 1747.

Verbeke said that the committee, which is required to report to the Security Council every 90 days about its progress, has received reports from 50 states and the European Union regarding their implementation of Resolution 1747. That resolution called on all countries to report on their implementation of the sanctions within 60 days.

A total of 73 countries have submitted reports regarding their implementation of Resolution 1737, he added. As of March 23, some 51 states and the EU had done so, Verbeke reported at the time. The United Nations has a total of 192 member states. (See ACT, May 2007 .)

In addition to receiving governments’ reports, the committee adopted guidelines May 30 for implementing the resolutions, Verbeke said.

Lawmakers Sideline New U.S. Nuclear Warhead

Wade Boese

Congress has yet to complete the raft of bills governing U.S. nuclear funding and policy for the next fiscal year, but the early returns are not promising for the Bush administration’s program to develop a new nuclear warhead. Lawmakers say they want long-term nuclear plans before new weapons.

Launched in 2004, the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program aims to produce warheads that will ostensibly be safer, easier to maintain, and more reliable than the estimated 10,000 warheads in the current U.S. stockpile. Existing warheads have been certified annually as safe and reliable, but RRW program advocates say the weapons might degrade over time. They contend the new weapon will be less vulnerable to these risks because of simpler design and more modern and less hazardous components.

Still, legislators this year have capped development of the RRW and cut funding. The most severe action occurred June 20 when the House in its yet-to-be-finalized energy and water appropriations bill zeroed out the nearly $89 million funding request for the initiative from the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). This semi-autonomous Department of Energy entity manages the U.S. nuclear weapons complex.

On the Senate side, the panel with initial responsibility for the energy and water appropriations bill June 26 trimmed $22 million from the NNSA request. If the full Senate follows suit then the two chambers will ultimately have to negotiate a final sum, which tends typically to be a compromise between the different amounts.

In addition to the NNSA request, the Bush administration also sought $30 million for the Navy to work on the RRW program. That pot of funding will be dealt with through the defense appropriations bill on which neither the House nor Senate has started work.

The two chambers have made progress on their separate versions of the defense authorization bill. Authorization measures establish legislative guidance for programs, while appropriation bills provide the money. As they currently stand, both the House and Senate authorization bills confine RRW work to design activities and block engineering work.

The first RRW design was selected in March, and program officials are currently refining the design and projecting future costs and schedule. (See ACT, April 2007. )

Lawmakers have raised questions about whether the RRW program will accomplish the administration’s proclaimed goals. One stated purpose of the program is to enable the United States to reduce its overall arsenal size. Administration officials argue that the new warheads will be easier to produce, making it unnecessary to maintain as many spares for crises or emergencies.

RRW advocates also contend the program will diminish the probability that the United States will have to return to nuclear testing, which was suspended in 1992. They say the current upkeep process gradually moves warheads away from proven designs, raising doubts about their performance and increasing pressure to test.

The minimalist RRW design will preclude such uncertainty, according to program supporters. Thomas D’Agostino, who has been nominated to head the NNSA, told a Washington audience June 15, “I wouldn’t recommend spending a dollar [on the RRW program] if I thought this couldn’t be certified without an underground nuclear test.”

But some legislators are skeptical. Speaking June 19 on the House energy and water measure, Rep. David Hobson (R-Ohio) said the RRW program “has merit…but all we have right now is a vague promise.” Hobson has been a vocal critic of what he sees as an outdated and oversized nuclear weapons complex.

The chair of the House Appropriations Energy and Water Development Subcommittee, Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.), shares a similar view and has other worries. He argued June 20 that pressing ahead with the program “will be misunderstood by our allies, exploited by our adversaries, [and] complicate our work to prevent the spread and the use of nuclear weapons.” Visclosky later declared, “I wish the administration…had as much aggression and commitment to downsizing the complex as they do on developing a weapon.”

Teaming with Hobson, Visclosky led the House in cutting the RRW funds. In a June 6 report, Visclosky’s panel stated, “[T]here exists no convincing rationale for maintaining the large number of existing Cold War nuclear weapons, much less producing additional warheads.” It further contended the RRW program was “premature,” absent a long-term nuclear strategy.

This sentiment appears widespread. The House defense authorization bill, passed May 17, calls for establishing a 12-member commission to conduct a strategic posture study. The Senate has yet to finalize its defense authorization bill, but an early version passed June 5 by the Armed Services Committee would require the Pentagon to undertake a nuclear posture review. Whether both studies make it into a reconciled bill remains to be seen, but many lawmakers apparently want more long-term thinking about the U.S. nuclear stockpile and its mission.

Senator Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), however, asserted that the House RRW actions, in part, could send U.S. nuclear strategy in a “new, unknown direction.” Also representing New Mexico, Republican Rep. Heather Wilson charged the recent moves amounted to a “radical shift” in U.S. nuclear weapons policies and risked forcing a resumption of nuclear testing. New Mexico is home to two U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories.

Congress has yet to complete the raft of bills governing U.S. nuclear funding and policy for the next fiscal year, but the early returns are not promising for the Bush administration’s program to develop a new nuclear warhead. Lawmakers say they want long-term nuclear plans before new weapons. (Continue)

Anti-Nuclear Terrorism Strategies Discussed

Abby Doll

On June 11, some 38 partner states of the nearly one-year-old Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism convened for the third meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan, to discuss future prospects. In a simultaneous meeting, representatives from close to 30 countries attended the initiative’s Conference on International Nuclear Terrorism Law Enforcement in Miami, Florida.

The anti-nuclear terrorism initiative was introduced jointly by President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin in the summer of 2006 in an effort to combat the nuclear terrorism threat through a cooperative network of partner states. (See ACT, September 2006 .) Since then, membership has grown to more than 50 countries, and participating governments have agreed to a statement of principles and a plan of work.

The statement of principles, which was agreed on during earlier meetings in Rabat, Morocco, and Ankara, Turkey, includes a list of commitments to tackle factors that facilitate nuclear terrorism. Member states pledge to address the security of nuclear storage facilities, the illicit trafficking of sensitive radiological and nuclear material, and the development of their countries’ strategic response to nuclear or radiological terrorist attacks or threats.

In Astana, the 38 countries joined observers from the International Atomic Energy Agency and the European Union to discuss the initiative’s progress in furthering these principles and developing the plan of work, which includes capacity-building activities for participating states. Japan and Australia have completed the first two capacity-building activities by hosting the Seminar on Strengthening Nuclear Security in Asian Countries and the Asia-Pacific Seminar on Combating Nuclear Terrorism, respectively.

The Miami conference, hosted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), sought to add meat to the bones of the initiative’s objectives by specifically supporting the principle to enhance participants’ abilities in “response, mitigation, and investigation” of nuclear terrorism activities.

For five days, more than 400 officials from law enforcement, intelligence, border control, nuclear security, and other related professions attended presentations on topics ranging from nuclear smuggling to nuclear forensics. Notable speakers included FBI Director Robert Mueller and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. Case studies, tabletop exercises, and demonstrations of technical procedure also supplemented the discussions.

On the third day, two Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams from the FBI and the Miami police staged a simulated drill at the Orange Bowl to demonstrate a response to a radiological dispersion device. Delegates from 28 countries watched the team demobilize a “terrorist cell” operating inside a fictitious warehouse and then use a specialized robot from the Miami Fire Department to destroy the mock radiological device.

Emphasizing the importance of information-sharing to achieve the principle’s goal, Mueller stressed that “no one person, no one officer, no one agency can prevent a nuclear terrorist attack on its own. There are too many unlocked doors and unknown players, too many ports and porous borders.”

It remains unclear how the initiative will coordinate with other nuclear terrorism prevention measures. These include UN Security Council Resolution 1540 and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism as well as U.S.-led initiatives such as the Proliferation Security Initiative and the Global Threat Reduction Initiative. Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation John C. Rood maintains that “there’s value in having some diversity of efforts” to address a common problem.

Pakistan recently endorsed the statement of principles, bringing the membership of the initiative to 51 states. Rood said that the meeting’s discussion generated a two-year work program of about 20 coordinated activities sponsored by participating governments. In September, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, and Romania will test the progress of the initiative’s capacity-development measures by running an exercise with a hypothetical radiological dispersion device or “dirty bomb.”


Statement of Principles by Participants in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, October 2006

• Develop, if necessary, and improve accounting, control and physical protection systems for nuclear and other radioactive materials and substances;

• Enhance security of civilian nuclear facilities;

• Improve the ability to detect nuclear and other radioactive materials and substances in order to prevent illicit trafficking in such materials and substances, to include cooperation in the research and development of national detection capabilities that would be interoperable;

• Improve capabilities of participants to search for, confiscate, and establish safe control over unlawfully held nuclear or other radioactive materials and substances or devices using them;

• Prevent the provision of safe haven to terrorists and financial or economic resources to terrorists seeking to acquire or use nuclear and other radioactive materials and substances;

• Ensure adequate respective national legal and regulatory frameworks sufficient to provide for the implementation of appropriate criminal and, if applicable, civil liability for terrorists and those who facilitate acts of nuclear terrorism;

• Improve capabilities of participants for response, mitigation, and investigation, in cases of terrorist attacks involving the use of nuclear and other radioactive materials and substances, including the development of technical means to identify nuclear and other radioactive materials and substances that are, or may be, involved in the incident; and

• Promote information sharing pertaining to the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism and their facilitation, taking appropriate measures consistent with their national laws and international obligations to protect the confidentiality of any information which they exchange in confidence.

On June 11, some 38 partner states of the nearly one-year-old Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism convened for the third meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan, to discuss future prospects. In a simultaneous meeting, representatives from close to 30 countries attended the initiative’s Conference on International Nuclear Terrorism Law Enforcement in Miami, Florida. (Continue)

Cluster Munitions Control Efforts Make Gains

Wade Boese

The clock appears to be ticking on the unconstrained use of cluster munitions. The ranks of a Norwegian-led initiative to prohibit these types of weapons have swelled to approximately 70 countries. Meanwhile, the United States recently switched its position in another forum to support negotiating some restrictions on cluster munitions.

Cluster munitions are weapons fired from artillery and rockets or dropped by planes that fragment and spread as many as 600 submunitions (small bomblets or grenades) over broad areas. When the submunitions fail to detonate properly, which can happen frequently, they can injure or kill people who later come into contact with them. Independent studies estimate that tens of thousands of noncombatants over the past several decades might have fallen victim to cluster munitions.

The first use of cluster munitions dates back to World War II, but Israel’s large-scale use of cluster munitions against Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon last August increased attention to the weapon system. (See ACT, October 2006. ) In a June 5 report, the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre in South Lebanon stated that 904 cluster munitions strike areas had been identified in Lebanon and that leftover cluster munitions and other unexploded ordnance had claimed 236 postconflict casualties, including 31 deaths.

At a June 19-22 meeting in Geneva, the United States, a supplier of some of the cluster munitions used by Israel last summer, announced it would back negotiations on cluster munitions under the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), which numbers 102 states-parties. The convention regulates indiscriminate and inhumane arms, such as incendiary weapons, through five separate protocols.

Last fall, Washington helped block work on a new CCW protocol on cluster munitions. (See ACT, December 2006. ) Ronald Bettauer, head of the U.S. CCW delegation, said June 18 that the about-face reflected “the importance of this issue, concerns raised by other countries, and our own concerns about the humanitarian implications of these weapons.”

Bettauer indicated four days later that the United States does not have a specific proposal. “The United States has taken no position as to the outcome of the negotiations,” he told other delegations. Bettauer, however, noted that any result should “protect civilians while taking into account security requirements.”

On behalf of the European Union, Germany has proposed a negotiating mandate to conclude a CCW protocol on cluster munitions by the end of 2008. Acting on its own accord, Germany also has submitted a draft protocol that would phase-out cluster munitions, but initially permit the use of cluster munitions that met certain technical requirements, such as submunitions failure rates of less than one percent. It would also allow cluster munitions use against targets not near populated areas.    

Despite the U.S. reversal and the EU proposal, there is no guarantee that negotiations will be initiated. The CCW operates by consensus and other countries, including China and Russia, have previously balked at cluster munitions measures. CCW members will decide this November on whether to start any cluster munitions negotiations.

Frustrated with the cumbersome and slow-moving CCW process, Norway last year—much to Washington’s chagrin—opted to launch an independent process to negotiate a cluster munitions treaty. The inaugural February meeting of the so-called Oslo Process brought together 46 countries that committed to concluding in 2008 an agreement banning cluster munitions “that cause unacceptable harm to civilians.” (See ACT, April 2007. )

A growing group, including several African states, gathered May 23-25 in Lima, Peru, for a second meeting to propel the process forward and give the proposed treaty more shape. Norway provided the countries with a draft discussion text.

Key aspects of that document included an initial six-year period for destroying stockpiled systems and an initial 10-year period for clearing cluster munitions contaminating a country’s territory. There were also provisions for governments to assist cluster munitions victims and make regular implementation reports. The Norwegian draft also called for entry into force of a future treaty once 20 countries ratify it.

Differences of opinions emerged on all of those issues, but two other issues provoked more substantial debate and revealed some divisions.

Participants disagreed over whether there should be a transition time permitting states to use cluster munitions until alternative weapons become available.

They also diverged over what cluster munitions should be prohibited. For example, some contended cluster munitions equipped with self-destruct mechanisms or those with low failure rates should be allowed, but other states argued for a blanket ban.

This latter group is strongly backed by nongovernmental groups involved in the Oslo Process. Jody Williams, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for her work against anti-personnel landmines, told the Lima conference May 25, “Honest assessments of the use of cluster munitions in real combat situations, we believe, can only lead to the elimination of cluster munitions.”

In general, states coming down on the more stringent sides of the transition and exemption issues are those that hold out little hope for or are not party to the CCW. Led by Norway, this group also includes Ireland, Lebanon, Mexico, New Zealand, and Peru.

Oslo participants supporting transition times and exemptions tend also to back negotiating a CCW instrument. Australia, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, and Switzerland rank among those states putting greater stock in a possible CCW instrument, while Canada, France, and the United Kingdom occupy more middle ground, voicing support for both paths. The contention by some of these states is that a CCW protocol, if negotiated, would potentially capture more major powers and cluster munitions producers and users.

Nongovernmental organizations are urging states to ignore the siren song of the CCW. Steve Goose, director of the arms division at Human Rights Watch and a co-chair of the Cluster Munition Coalition, argued in separate May 25 press statements that the CCW was a “dead-end process” and “a distraction that should be avoided.”

Meanwhile, Oslo Process participants are pushing ahead on several fronts. At the May meeting, Peru declared that it would work toward turning Latin America into a zone free of cluster munitions. In addition, Hungary and Switzerland announced national moratoriums. Belgium and Costa Rica are arranging regional meetings of Oslo participants, while the next full meeting is scheduled for Dec. 5-7 in Vienna.


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