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April 15, 2019
July/August 2007
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IAEA, Congress Tackle Nuclear Fuel Supply

Oliver Meier and Miles A. Pomper

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei June 13 presented the agency’s Board of Governors with a report outlining ways countries might work together to discourage the spread of uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing facilities. The report came as the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program and increased interest in nuclear energy have prompted growing concern, including in Congress, about the spread of such facilities that could provide either fuel for power plants or fissile material for nuclear weapons.

The text of the report was not publicly released, reportedly because some board members objected to doing so. Nonetheless, knowledgeable sources said the report, written by IAEA staff, evaluates the legal, technical, financial, and institutional aspects associated with the problem, analyzing nearly a dozen proposals for multilateral cooperation put forward by IAEA member states, many at a special, two-day agency conference in September 2006. (See ACT, November 2006. ) But the sources said the report does not advocate any particular plan for moving forward and leaves the thorniest issues for the states on the IAEA board to resolve.

The proposals outlined in the report essentially fall into three camps: reliance on the international market, backup commitments by individual states, and the establishment of a last-resort facility under the auspices of the IAEA. All are intended to convince countries to rely on the international market rather than national facilities to enrich uranium or to extract plutonium for spent nuclear fuel. In his June 11 statement to the board, ElBaradei essentially argued that all of the mechanisms could complement each other, calling for “an incremental approach, with multiple assurances in place.” In doing so, he stuck to a theme that he has embraced since receiving an IAEA expert group report in February 2005, which evaluated several steps toward a multilateral solution of the problem. (See ACT, March 2005. )

According to a June 15 IAEA press release, the report argues for moving toward a multilateral framework by creating mechanisms that would “assure the supply of fuel for nuclear power plants; over time, convert enrichment and reprocessing facilities from national to multilateral operations”; and “limit future enrichment and reprocessing to multilateral operations.”

The debate on how to prevent the spread of sensitive nuclear technology by limiting the construction of national nuclear fuel-cycle capabilities in additional states has gained new urgency since President George W. Bush in February 2004 proposed to limit supply of such technologies to states that already have such capabilities. (See ACT, March 2004. ) Efforts to get the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to endorse such proposals permanently have languished, although the NSG has since approved annual moratoria on initiating any new agreements along these lines. Several developing countries, however, have criticized this approach as discriminatory, arguing that it institutionalizes a new cartel of technology holders. In particular, they say that it would infringe on their rights under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty for access to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

The agency says its proposals would not limit the right of states-parties to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and maintains that states would remain “free to choose their fuel options.” But it left important details to the IAEA board. For example, the board would still have to decide whether to limit supply assurances to countries that do not operate enrichment and reprocessing facilities or who renounce such an option. It would also have to decide whether it would require any potential recipients to have in place an additional protocol to their safeguards agreement. Such protocols provide the agency with greater authority to search for undeclared nuclear activities.

A June 8 statement from the Group of Eight (G-8) summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, provides some indications of a possible board response. The group, which includes several key IAEA board members, stated that any proposal on fuel supply assurances should provide “added value” to the nonproliferation regime. Although the G-8 supported the IAEA’s position that participation in any fuel supply mechanism should be voluntary, there are differences regarding what that would mean. The G-8 said only that a possible future mechanism “should not preclude any state from purchasing nuclear fuel cycle services on the existing market beyond the frameworks of multilateral mechanisms,” without taking a position on the right to set up new indigenous enrichment and reprocessing facilities.     

In an indication of the U.S. position, the House of Representatives on June 18 passed by voice vote the International Nuclear Fuel for Peace and Nonproliferation Act to help establish an international nuclear fuel bank. The bill was introduced by House Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) and provides $50 million to supplement an equivalent September 2006 pledge to the IAEA by the private Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI).

Implementation of the NTI pledge and the Lantos bill, however, will depend on the pledge of an additional $50 million by a third party. The bill authorizes the contribution to establish the fuel bank on the territory of a non-nuclear-weapon state, including maintaining a reserve of low-enriched uranium (LEU) for reactor fuel to provide to eligible countries as a fallback mechanism. Only states that do not operate enrichment or reprocessing facilities “on any scale,” are in compliance with their safeguards obligations, and have an additional protocol to their safeguards agreements in force would be eligible to receive services from the fuel bank. 

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee June 27 endorsed somewhat similar legislation by Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind). In addition, the House Appropriations Committee June 11 approved an energy and water spending bill that would provide $100 million in fiscal year 2008 for the fuel bank, if an additional $50 million were pledged by other IAEA member-states.

Unlike the Lantos legislation, the IAEA report says that a future nuclear fuel bank could be either a physical entity or a virtual one providing guarantees that appropriate fuel is forthcoming. It outlines the advantages and disadvantages of each approach. The report also argues that supply assurances should be tailored narrowly to convince states that their nuclear fuel supply will not be cut off for purely political reasons, that is, reasons other than a failure to pay for nuclear fuel or to meet their nonproliferation commitments under their safeguards agreement with the IAEA. Such safeguards are intended to prevent the diversion of peaceful nuclear material or technology to weapons purposes.

Because the member states had not seen the more than 90-page report before it was presented to the board, initial reactions were guarded. Several developing states of the Nonaligned Movement, including Iran, apparently repeated their concerns that any multilateral mechanism must not infringe on their right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Germany, acting in its current capacity as EU president, said in a June 14 press release that the report “comes at the right time” and that the European Union is “eager to find a solution which takes sufficient account of the current proliferation concerns regarding sensitive components in the nuclear fuel cycle.”

A Department of State official said June 19 that the United States believes that the IAEA report provides the basis for moving forward with debates on the board on the issue and that Washington “looks forward to discussion of the question of establishing a fuel assurance mechanism and to early action by the board to approve an IAEA role in a mechanism.” Still, substantive discussions are not expected before the next board meeting in September. They could also be postponed until the subsequent session in November.

Libya Backs Out of CW Destruction Agreement

Alex Bollfrass

Vowing to take sole responsibility for destroying its chemical weapons, Libya has annulled its contract with the United States. The Libyan government cancelled the agreement, effective June 14, because of dissatisfaction with its provisions on liability, financing, and facility ownership.

Department of State spokesperson Nancy Beck told Arms Control Today June 18 that Libya had given notice in May that “it was exercising its option to withdraw from the government-to-government contract, citing concerns about indemnification, cost-sharing, and the disposition of the equipment used to destroy its chemical weapons stockpiles.”

Despite the contract’s abrogation, the State Department described Libya’s actions as “a model of nonproliferation.”

Under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), to which Libya acceded in May 2004, Libya is obligated to destroy its stockpile by the end of 2010. The U.S.-Libyan agreement was signed in December 2006.

The bilateral agreement arranged for major U.S. assistance to the technically challenging and costly effort of eliminating chemical weaponry in the Libyan desert. In addition to destroying 23.6 metric tons of mustard gas, Libya must abolish around 1,300 metric tons of precursor chemicals to comply with the convention.

Beck also said that the United States had “demonstrated flexibility on indemnification and equipment disposition.” In particular, the equipment-disposition discussions focused on whether the U.S.-built destruction facility would be given or sold to Libya, and if it would be removed after completion. The indemnification deliberations centered on who would be liable for potential damages.

The State Department’s description leaves unclear whether Libya did not consider the United States flexible enough on these two matters or if the parties could not agree on financing, the third grievance cited by Libya. Under the contract’s terms, the United States would have contributed $45 million and Libya around $15 million.

Another U.S. official familiar with the issue told Arms Control Today on June 18 that money did not seem to be the pivotal issue and that Libya simply decided that it was too cumbersome to have the U.S. government involved. The official also expressed confidence that Libya is dedicated to destroying its stockpile.

Libyan representatives in the United States said they were not involved in the decision and declined to speculate on their government’s reasons. The Libyan ambassador to Washington, Ali Aujali, said he was generally not occupied with such “technical matters.”

The United States also is assisting chemical weapons destruction in Albania and Russia, where it has encountered similar challenges. Albania on April 29 became the first state to miss its destruction deadline under the CWC, officially blaming the delay on local weather conditions.

Russian officials have voiced complaints nearly identical to Libya’s over U.S. aid to its stockpile destruction efforts. Construction of the Shchuch’ye facility in particular has been held up by squabbles between the governments. (See ACT, May 2007 .)

Vowing to take sole responsibility for destroying its chemical weapons, Libya has annulled its contract with the United States. The Libyan government cancelled the agreement, effective June 14, because of dissatisfaction with its provisions on liability, financing, and facility ownership. (Continue)

Iran-Iraq Chemical Warfare Aftershocks Persist

Alex Bollfrass

Almost two decades after the end of the Iran-Iraq War, the conflict’s chemical weapons legacy lingers in the streets of Ramadi and in courtrooms throughout the world. Iranian, Kurdish, and U.S. victims of Iraq’s chemical weapons are seeking judicial redress. At the same time, the Iraqi special tribunal has sentenced three key perpetrators to death.

Revealing that the left-over dangers from eight years of that war have not ended, UN inspectors charged with verifying and monitoring Iraq’s disarmament warned in their latest report of the continuing threat that munitions and expertise left behind by the war still pose even as insurgents mount new types of chemical attacks.

Death Sentence for “Chemical Ali”

Ali Hassan al-Majid, Saddam Hussein’s cousin and top aide, was pronounced guilty on June 24 of ordering the use of chemical weapons during the dictator’s anti-Kurdish operation, a decision that earned him the nickname “Chemical Ali.” He was sentenced to death by hanging.

The so-called Anfal campaign lasted from late February to early September 1988. The prosecution alleged that the campaign destroyed approximately 2,000 villages and killed 180,000 people. The trial’s defendants claimed that it was a counter-insurgency operation and the Kurds were supporting the Iranian enemy. According to the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal’s verdict, the Anfal campaign constituted genocide, a war crime, and a crime against humanity.

During the Anfal campaign, Ali Hassan served as secretary-general of the Ba’ath Party’s northern bureau. He later oversaw the Kuwaiti occupation and was minister of the interior prior to the 2003 U.S. invasion. Two other high-ranking officials were also given the death penalty and another two received life sentences for their role in the attacks.

Complaints Collect in Dutch Courts

Iraq’s chemical warfare program relied on foreign suppliers, one of whom recently had his 15-year prison sentence extended another two years. The businessman Frans van Anraat had been convicted in December 2005 of complicity in war crimes for shipping more than 1,100 tons of thiodiglycol from a U.S. company to Iraq. The chemical was crucial in the production of the mustard gas used by the Ba’athists in their attacks on Kurds in 1987 and 1988, which included the Anfal campaign.

A Dutch appeals court increased Van Anraat’s sentence on May 9, arguing that he had been “driven by naked greed,” but it found the evidence insufficient to convict him of complicity in genocide. The appeals court also ruled that 15 Kurdish plaintiffs would not receive the €680 in damages that the lower court had awarded them.

These victims, however, are being represented in a separate upcoming civil case. The state prosecutor also is considering an appeal of the case to the Netherlands’ high court in hopes of establishing van Anraat’s complicity in genocide.

The Iranian government will be filing its own legal claims in the matter. Iranian news sources reported that Deputy Foreign Minister Mehdi Mostafavi announced May 12 in Tehran that his government would be launching suits against Iraq’s Western chemical suppliers and that it had created a dossier on the subject.

Iranian diplomats contacted by Arms Control Today did not respond to requests for details. It appears that the first suit will be brought in the Netherlands, in connection with the van Anraat case.

During the war, Iran developed its own chemical weapons program and supplier network in response to Iraqi attacks. One Israeli supplier, Nahum Manbar, is on the verge of release from prison in that country. He was sentenced to 16 years in 1998 but is likely to be released soon, pending the state attorney’s request for Israeli intelligence to vet if Manbar’s release would pose a threat. Two of Iran’s suppliers have also served jail sentences in the United States.

U.S. Veterans’ Suit Wilting

The Iranian lawsuits are starting just as U.S. Persian Gulf War veterans’ quest for compensation is trickling to a halt. The U.S. military blew up Iraqi ammunition depots containing chemical weapons agents and may have inadvertently exposed its own soldiers to toxic fallout. The class action lawsuit targeting alleged Western chemical suppliers to Hussein’s government, originally filed in 1994, has failed to gain traction in U.S. and European courts.

The class action complaint comprises some 3,000 plaintiffs, but its list of defendants has dwindled from 46 businesses to two companies. The lead attorney in the case, Gary Pitts, told Arms Control Today June 15 that he has been unable to establish proper jurisdiction over the mostly European companies in the United States, despite their U.S. subsidiaries.

As an American, Pitts has been unable to file in the national courts of the major suppliers: Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Some of the biggest suppliers to Iraq were German, but Germany’s judiciary rules do not permit consolidated lawsuits. This means that each plaintiff would need to file separate suits against each company.

Pitts said the “heavy players” had escaped punishment. One of the two remaining defendants, Alcolac Inc., was previously convicted of violating U.S. export laws in 1989 for supplying van Anraat with the thiodiglycol that he sold to the Iraqis. Kellogg, the other company, built an ammonia facility in Iraq but was not listed in the detailed records of its chemical weapons program that Iraq gave to the United Nations.

Another setback for the case has been the disappearance of a key witness, Alaa al-Saeed. He headed the Iraqi chemical weapons program at al-Muthanna, the largest chemical weapons facility under the Ba’athist government, and had agreed to testify in the case.

On his way to a new Iraqi government post in the Science Ministry, al-Saeed was kidnapped in March and is still believed to be in captivity. A representative of the U.S. embassy in Iraq confirmed to Arms Control Today June 17 that its Office of Hostage Affairs had an open file on al-Saeed but declined to provide details.

UNMOVIC Issues Warning of Lingering Expertise, Materials

In addition to occupying judges with questions of guilt and compensation, the war’s consequences still pose threats to the lives of people in Iraq. The UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) recently warned about the danger of an escalation in chemical attacks in Iraq. In their May 29 report to the Security Council, the commissioners noted that at least 10 insurgent attacks have killed dozens and injured hundreds of individuals. It observes that the situation is aggravated by the presence of a past program’s materials and expertise.

These attacks involved the dispersion of widely available chlorine gas with conventional explosives. The report, addressing the period between the beginning of March and the end of May, alerts the Security Council that hundreds of individuals in Iraq have experience in producing and delivering chemical weapons. The supply of these scientists’ expertise and insurgents’ demands for deadly weaponry presents a dangerous combination.

Another risk factor mentioned in the report is the existence of procurement networks that can acquire chemical precursors for weapons. UNMOVIC says that despite Security Council resolutions mandating that any dual-use chemicals imported into Iraq must be reported to it, UNMOVIC has received no such information since the U.S. invasion of March 2003. Consequently, weapons-usable chemicals can be shipped into Iraq with impunity.

Dual-use-chemical production equipment exists in Iraq, providing the infrastructure for small-scale production of chemical weapons. UNMOVIC points out that those interested in using chemical weapons could improvise primitive delivery systems to reach their targets.

The report also noted the possible existence of pre-1991 chemical weapons. Mustard gas-filled artillery shells may be particularly dangerous because the agent is unlikely to have deteriorated in potency. The remaining nerve-agent warheads are less of a direct threat because of probable degradation, but they may still pose a health hazard, according to the Iraq inspection agency.

The agency was disbanded June 29 before it could take action on removing these threats. Legal consequences from the Iran-Iraq War, on the other hand, will be rippling through the courts for the indefinite future.

Almost two decades after the end of the Iran-Iraq War, the conflict’s chemical weapons legacy lingers in the streets of Ramadi and in courtrooms throughout the world. Iranian, Kurdish, and U.S. victims of Iraq’s chemical weapons are seeking judicial redress. At the same time, the Iraqi special tribunal has sentenced three key perpetrators to death. (Continue)

Iran Offers to Resolve Issues With IAEA

Paul Kerr

Iran has invited International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials to visit Tehran in order to “develop an action plan for resolving outstanding issues” related to the country’s past nuclear activities, agency spokesperson Melissa Fleming announced June 25. “The IAEA intends to send a team as early as practicable,” she added. Iran’s invitation came as permanent members of the UN Security Council began work on a new resolution that would impose sanctions on Iran.

Ali Larijani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council and Tehran’s lead nuclear negotiator, issued the invitation the previous evening during a meeting with IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei. Larijani and ElBaradei also had discussed the plan during a June 22 meeting.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mohammad-Ali Hosseini told reporters June 24 that Iran could reach an agreement with the IAEA within two months.

Iran has a gas centrifuge-based uranium-enrichment program and is constructing a heavy water-moderated nuclear reactor. Iran says these programs are for peaceful purposes, but both also could be used to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons.

Unresolved issues related to these programs have been a persistent source of controversy. Since its investigation began in 2002, the IAEA has discovered that Tehran engaged in secret nuclear activities, some of which violated its safeguards agreement with the agency. The government has provided explanations for some of these issues, but the agency says that several others remain unresolved. (See ACT, March 2006.)

IAEA safeguards agreements, which are required under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), allow the agency to monitor NPT states-parties’ declared civilian nuclear activities.

Partly in response to Iran’s failure to clarify the outstanding nuclear issues, the Security Council has imposed sanctions on Iran in two previous resolutions, the most recent of which was adopted in March.

According to a May report from ElBaradei to the IAEA Board of Governors, the outstanding issues include “information relevant to the assembly of centrifuges, the manufacture of centrifuge components…and research and development of centrifuges or enrichment techniques.”

 Most recently, ElBaradei told the IAEA board June 11 that the agency is unable “to make any progress in its efforts to resolve [the] outstanding issues,” adding that “it is incumbent on Iran to work urgently” with the IAEA so that it can “provide assurance regarding the exclusively peaceful nature of all of Iran’s nuclear activities.”

Iran has previously promised to cooperate with the IAEA’s investigation, but nothing has come of those pledges. For example, an April 2006 Iranian letter said that Tehran was “prepared to resolve the remaining outstanding issues” with the agency and pledged to provide a timetable for compliance within the next three weeks. (See ACT, June 2006.)

More recently, Iran reiterated in a February letter to the IAEA its willingness to cooperate with the investigation. But this offer appeared to retain a previous condition that the Security Council end its involvement with the Iranian nuclear issue. (See ACT, March 2007.)

Meanwhile, Larijani met June 23 with the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, in Lisbon in an effort to restart negotiations with Germany and the five permanent members of the Security Council.

Those countries have said repeatedly that they are willing to negotiate with Tehran about a June 2006 offer of incentives intended to persuade the Iranian government to end its uranium-enrichment program. However, they continue to insist that Iran suspend work on those programs, a step it has refused to take.

Solana described the meeting as “very constructive.” Similarly, Larijani said that they had a “good discussion,” according to an official Iranian radio report. Solana told reporters that the two officials, who also met in April and May, are to meet again in about three weeks, according to Agence France-Presse.

Resolution Work Proceeds Slowly

The two previous Security Council resolutions included a demand that Iran suspend all activities related to its enrichment program, as well as construction of its heavy water reactor. (See ACT, April 2007.)

The resolutions also require Iran to cooperate fully with the IAEA’s investigation, as well as to ratify an additional protocol to its comprehensive IAEA safeguards agreement. Iran has signed an additional protocol, which augments the IAEA’s authority to investigate possible undeclared nuclear activities, but has not ratified it.

ElBaradei’s May report, which he issued per the council’s request, showed that Iran has not complied with the most recent resolution, which the council adopted in March. Resolution 1747 requires Iran to comply “without further delay” with the council’s demands or face “further appropriate [nonmilitary] measures.” (See ACT, April 2007.)

Hosseni said that Iran would increase its cooperation with the IAEA in order to dissuade the UN Security Council from adopting another resolution. However, Department of State spokesperson Tom Casey told reporters the next day that the United States is “moving forward with a discussion” with other permanent council members about “what kind of sanctions” could be included in a new resolution. He did not specify further.

Iranian officials have reiterated that Tehran will react negatively to a new sanctions resolution. Larijani said that Iran would respond to such a measure by making “another, longer stride” in its nuclear program but did not elaborate, according to an interview in the June 21 edition of Newsweek. Likewise, Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s permanent representative to the IAEA, warned in a June 15 interview with the semi-official Mehr News Agency that Tehran could further decrease its cooperation with the IAEA if the council were to adopt another sanctions resolution.

Iran has gradually scaled back its cooperation with the agency since early 2006. For example, Tehran had been behaving as if its additional protocol were in force since the fall of 2003, but stopped doing so in February 2006.

More recently, Iran has not allowed the IAEA to inspect its heavy water reactor facility since Tehran’s March decision to end its compliance with a portion of the subsidiary arrangements for its safeguards agreement. (See ACT, April 2007.)

Conventional Arms Treaty Dispute Persists

Wade Boese

Russia and NATO are still at odds over a European conventional arms pact despite an emergency meeting June 11-15 to discuss their differences. Russia is complaining that its long-standing concerns are still being ignored but has not suspended implementation of the treaty as it previously warned it might.

Anatoly Antonov, who heads the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department of International Security and Disarmament, asserted that other states paid only “lip service” to Russia’s positions at the Vienna gathering. The 26-member NATO alliance issued a statement expressing “regret” that no agreement could be reached.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had said in April that Russia might halt implementation of the 1990 Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, which caps the number of battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, heavy artillery, attack helicopters, and combat aircraft that 30 countries can station between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ural Mountains. Antonov said June 15, however, that a possible suspension was now “closer.”

Under a suspension or moratorium, Antonov explained, Russia would stop treaty inspections, notifications, and data exchanges. It would also consider moot weapons limits on Russian arms deployments in its northern and southern regions, or so-called flanks. But he said Moscow did not intend to increase its weapons deployments or withdraw from the treaty, which requires at least a 150-day advance notice.

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried, who led the U.S. delegation to the conference, told reporters June 12 that Russia had not indicated that a possible suspension was “imminent” but acknowledged that “it is certainly on the table.” A U.S. government official told Arms Control Today June 20 that “everybody is waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

Citing “serious problems” with NATO behavior under the CFE Treaty, Moscow called May 28 for the “extraordinary conference” on the accord. Russian negotiators arrived at the Vienna gathering with a half-dozen “problems” to discuss.

Russia’s main complaint is that NATO countries are refusing to ratify a November 1999 revision of the agreement, known as the Adapted CFE Treaty. Entry into force of that updated accord requires ratification by all the original treaty states-parties. Thus far, however, only Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine have done so.

NATO members are postponing ratification of the adapted treaty, which replaces bloc and geographic arms limits with national weapon ceilings, until Russia withdraws its military forces from the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Moldova. Moscow pledged to do so in documents concluded in parallel with the revised accord at a summit in Istanbul. (See ACT, November 1999. ) Kremlin officials charge the NATO linkage is “artificial.”

Moscow is eager for the adapted treaty to take effect because it loosens Russian flank restrictions, enabling larger Russian force deployments in the volatile Caucasus region, which includes Chechnya. The Kremlin wants to eventually negotiate away the flank limits entirely, but NATO countries have not agreed to do so.

The adapted treaty also contains an accession clause not included in the original treaty. Russian officials are unhappy that NATO members Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovenia are outside the treaty and without weapons limits. The four states have pledged to join the adapted treaty when the option becomes available.

NATO governments maintain that Russia holds the key to making this happen by ending its military presence in Georgia and Moldova.

Russia is working to close two remaining bases in Georgia by the end of 2008. But Georgia charges Russia has not fully abandoned another base, Gudauta, as claimed. This base is located in Abkhazia, a separatist region in Georgia.

The Kremlin’s withdrawal from Moldova has been stalled since 2004. Approximately 1,300 Russian forces remain inside the breakaway region of Transdniestria, where some of the troops are guarding a 21,000-metric-ton ammunition stockpile.

At the June conference, NATO members reiterated proposals to help Russia exit the two states. They suggested that multinational peacekeepers replace Russian forces in Moldova and that a voluntary international fund help pay for the destruction and removal of the ammunition. They also reaffirmed a German offer to lead a fact-finding mission to Gudauta to assess its status.

The Russian delegation dismissed the NATO proposals as nothing new and said the Georgian and Moldovan situations were being handled bilaterally. It insisted that NATO members should start ratifying the adapted treaty or that all CFE states-parties should provisionally apply the updated accord no later than July 1, 2008. NATO opposes this proposal.

The Russian and NATO delegations left the conference saying they were open to further talks, and Germany offered to host another conference for that purpose this fall.

U.S. Reaffirms Europe Anti-Missile Plan

Wade Boese

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s June 7 proposal to share radar data on missiles with the United States might be an earnest offer, a cynical ploy to undercut U.S. plans to base anti-missile systems in Europe, or both. Regardless, U.S. leaders say they will continue their current missile defense approach despite strong Russian opposition.

Meeting with President George W. Bush in Heiligendamm, Germany, Putin volunteered the “joint use” of the Russian-leased Gabala radar in Azerbaijan. Putin implied the radar could be used to peer south into Iran, which the United States estimates could develop long-range missiles to strike all of Europe or the United States before 2015. Washington claims its plan to station 10 strategic ground-based midcourse interceptors in Poland and an X-band radar in the Czech Republic is to protect against a growing Iranian threat and poses no danger to Russia.

Putin further suggested that if an actual threat materialized, interceptors could be deployed in southern Europe, Iraq, or on naval ships instead of in Poland, where Moscow contends interceptors could reach into Russia. The interceptors endorsed by Putin would be technically different than those planned for Poland. Instead of aiming to collide with warheads in space, the alternative interceptors would be designed to destroy missiles in their boost phase, when a missile’s rocket engines are still burning shortly after launch.

Although U.S. officials expressed surprise at Putin’s proposal, this is not the first time he has made it. Putin floated essentially the same concept in June 2000 when President Bill Clinton was weighing deployment of a nationwide U.S. defense. (See ACT, July/August 2000. )

Washington rejected the proposal then, in part, on the basis that the technology was not available. The United States currently has programs that might produce ship- and land-based interceptors for boost-phase testing around 2014. (See ACT, June 2007. )

Bush welcomed Putin’s ideas as “interesting.” The two leaders agreed experts from both sides will explore the Russian proposal.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials maintain they will not pause their current effort. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal June 8 that “we’re going to continue to work this with Poland and the Czech Republic.” Engaging with Russia, she added, “doesn’t mean that you are going to get off course on what you’re trying to do.”

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates informed reporters June 14 that the United States saw Putin’s proposal on the Gabala radar as “an additional capability” and not a substitute for the proposed Czech-based radar. The Gabala radar is a Soviet-era early-warning radar designed to spot and track missiles shortly after launch, while X-band radars are supposed to provide more precise flight-tracking data and pick a warhead out of a target cluster flying through space.

The U.S. reaction was not what the Kremlin wanted. Talking to reporters June 8, Putin stated, “[W]e hope that no unilateral action will be taken until these consultations and talks have concluded.” Similarly, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in a Moscow press briefing the next day declared, “[I]t is necessary as a minimum to freeze all the actions in deploying missile defense elements in Europe for a period of at least the study of our proposals.”

Russian officials assert there is no urgency to field anti-missile systems in Europe. They project a long-range Iranian missile threat as at least 15 to 20 years away. Even if Tehran moved more rapidly, Putin claimed June 7 that a three- to five-year lag would occur between the initial test and deployment of long-range missiles, permitting time for defenses to be erected.

Indeed, Putin’s Gabala radar proposal is about sharing data with the United States in order to form a common or joint assessment of Iran’s capabilities. Before initiating any possible defense schemes, such as Putin’s boost-phase concept, there should be mutual agreement about the threat, a Russian government official told Arms Control Today June 14.

Putin suggested as much June 8. “We propose carrying out a real assessment of the missile threats for the period through to 2020 and agreeing on what joint steps we can take to counter these threats,” the president explained to reporters.

The same day, Anatoly Antonov, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department of International Security and Disarmament, stated, “Only after concrete answers are obtained to questions about the nature and trends of missile proliferation should it be decided whether and what military-technical means are needed to repulse this threat.” He later noted that missile defenses should be “the last resort…when all the alternative measures have been exhausted.”

Moscow’s apparent assumption is that data from the Gabala radar will support their position that Iran poses no near-term threat, obviating U.S. plans. “Joint use of the information which this radar station obtains makes it possible…to give up the plans of deploying missile defense elements in Europe,” Lavrov said.

If the United States does not abandon or alter its current missile defense plans for Europe, Russian officials say there will be consequences. On June 8, Putin reiterated warnings that Russia would “target” the Polish and Czech anti-missile sites if they are built.

Putin’s comments followed a May 29 flight test of what Russian officials claimed was a new multiple-warhead ICBM capable of penetrating defenses. Referred to as an RS-24 by Russian officials, the missile is apparently a modified version of Russia’s most modern missile, the single-warhead Topol-M.

In a Jan. 1 data exchange, Russia claimed a total force of 530 ICBMs, of which 44 are silo-based Topol-Ms and three are mobile Topol-Ms. The United States currently deploys 500 silo-based ICBMs but plans to cut 50 of these missiles. (See ACT, May 2007.)

Washington has sought to soften Moscow’s hostility by publicly expressing interest in missile defense cooperation with Russia. But Putin June 4 derided U.S. offers as empty, saying they entail Russia providing missiles “as targets [that the United States] can use in training.”

Putin asserted that day that if Washington did not change course, Moscow would be bound to respond and could not be held responsible for the result. “We will absolve ourselves from the responsibility of our retaliatory steps because we are not initiating what is certainly growing into a new arms race in Europe,” Putin said.


Nuclear Talks Waiting on the United States

U.S. and Russian negotiators have put on hold talks on measures to succeed a landmark nuclear weapons reduction treaty while the Bush administration figures out its positions. But U.S. lawmakers are already starting to volunteer their advice.

The 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) is scheduled to expire Dec. 5, 2009. It slashed deployed U.S. and Russian strategic forces from more than 10,000 warheads apiece to 6,000 each and established an extensive verification regime. U.S. and Russian experts met for the first time in March to share ideas on what to do after START’s expiration. (See ACT, May 2007. )

Neither side is advocating exercising START’s five-year extension option. However, Moscow desires a new agreement capping both nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles, while Washington opposes such a formal approach, preferring a loose collection of confidence-building measures.

Arms Control Today has learned, however, that the two governments have agreed to prepare positions for future discussion on at least four issues: information exchanges, facility visits, missile launch notices, and noninterference with national technical means such as satellites. A second U.S. and Russian experts meeting reportedly is waiting on the Bush administration to complete this process and put together a proposal.

A June 18 McClatchy Newspapers report attributed the delay to Washington infighting. The U.S. intelligence community is keen on preserving intrusive mechanisms to keep tabs on Russia’s nuclear arsenal. But this position conflicts with that held by administration officials who say such measures are burdensome and unnecessary because Russia is no longer an enemy.

In a June 21 statement, Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, sided with the intelligence community. Recommending that START verification and transparency measures be extended, Lugar noted that “the predictability and confidence provided by treaty verification reduces the chances of misinterpretation, miscalculation, and error.”

Similarly, Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), chair of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, stated at a June 11 Arms Control Association event that “the intelligence community has expressed concern with losing the verification component provided by START.” Tauscher recommended that U.S. and Russian leaders approve a “bridge agreement that will extend START” until a new agreement can be negotiated.


Russian President Vladimir Putin’s June 7 proposal to share radar data on missiles with the United States might be an earnest offer, a cynical ploy to undercut U.S. plans to base anti-missile systems in Europe, or both. Regardless, U.S. leaders say they will continue their current missile defense approach despite strong Russian opposition. (Continue)

July/August 2007 ACT Print Advertisers

July/August 2007 Bibliography

Of Special Interest

Beckett, Margaret, “For a Nuclear-Free World,” Jerusalem Post, June 26, 2007.

Biden, Joe, “CSI: Nukes,” The Wall Street Journal, June 4, 2007, p. A17.

Carter, Ashton B., May, Michael M., and Perry, William J., “After the Bomb,” The New York Times, June 12, 2007, p. A23.

Nunn, Sam, “The Mountaintop: A World Free of Nuclear Weapons,” Nuclear Threat Initiative, June 14, 2007, 8 pp.

Odom, William E., “The Nuclear Option,” Foreign Policy, May/June 2007, p. 51.

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI Yearbook 2007: Armaments, Disarmament, and International Security, June 11, 2007, 752 pp.

I. Strategic Arms

D’Agostino, Thomas P. The Reliable Replacement Warhead Program: Remarks at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, National Nuclear Security Administration, June 15, 2007, 6 pp.

Drell, Sidney, “A Reliable Path to Disarmament,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, July/August 2007, p. 48.

The Economist, “Vlad and MAD,” June 9, 2007, p. 67.

Gormley, Dennis M., “Silent Retreat: The Future of U.S. Nuclear Weapons,” The Nonproliferation Review, July 2007, p. 183.

Harvey, John R., “Nonproliferation’s New Soldier: How the Reliable Replacement Warhead Program will Bolster Global Security,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, July/August 2007, p. 32.

Krauss, Lawrence M., “A Case of Dubious Rationales,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, July/August 2007, p. 41.

Landay, Jonathan, “Dispute Delays Arms-Control Talks with Moscow,” McClatchy Newspapers, June 18, 2007.

Liang, John, “Air Force Plans to Begin Reducing Minuteman III Fleet This Month,” Inside Missile Defense, June 6, 2007, p. 2.

Matthews, William, “D’Agostino Aims to Shift U.S. Lawmakers’ View in Favor of RRW,” Defense News, June 15, 2007.

Pikayev, Alexander A., “Unfair Advantage,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, July/August 2007, p. 36.

Pincus, Walter, “House Vote Stops Appropriation for New Generation of Nuclear Weapons,” The Washington Post, June 20, 2007, p. A20.

Saunders, Doug, “Cold Warrior Putin Threatens to Target Europe,” The Globe and Mail, June 4, 2007, p. A1.

Shen, Dingli, “Upsetting a Delicate Balance,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, July/August 2007, p. 37.

Vartabedian, Ralph, “U.S. Speeding Up Nuclear Disarmament,” Los Angeles Times, June 7, 2007.

Weitz, Richard, “Missile Tests Underscore Moscow’s Desire to Maintain Nuclear Deterrent,” World Politics Review, June 1, 2007.

II. Nuclear Proliferation

Gusterson, Hugh, “Nuclear Terrorism: Correcting the Future,” The Bulletin Online, June 5, 2007.

Kramer, Andrew E., “Russia’s Nuclear Power Company Finds Business Is Good - in Iran and Elsewhere,” International Herald Tribune, June 7, 2007.

Stinson, Jeffrey, “Russia Increasingly Filling Demand for Nuclear Technology,” USA Today, June 3, 2007.


Agence-France Presse, “Rice Eyes U.S.-India Nuclear Deal This Year,” June 27, 2007.

Associated Press, “Group of Regional Indian Parties Denounces India-U.S. Nuclear Deal,” June 6, 2007.

Bidwai, Praful, “Last-Minute Hitch over U.S.-India Deal,” Inter Press Service, June 7, 2007.

The Hindu, “U.S. Needs to Make Changes in Deal: Scientists,” June 18, 2007.

Jha, Ravi S., “Wrangling Continues on U.S.-Indo Nuclear Deal,” Khaleej Times, June 11, 2007.

Johnson, Jo, “Cloud Over U.S.-India Nuclear Accord,” Financial Times, June 3, 2007.

Nayar, K. P., “Nuke Talks in 3-Para Knot,” The Telegraph, June 4, 2007.

Rajesh, Y. P., “Little Progress in India-U.S. Nuclear Deal Talks,” Reuters, June 2, 2007.

Sethi, Manpreet, Indo-U.S. Civilian Nuclear Cooperation: Reprocessing Issue Reconstructed, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies Issue Brief, June 2007, 4 pp.

Stephenson, John, Will the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative Light India? Assessing the Economic & Resource Arguments for the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative, Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, June 5, 2007, 12 pp.

Varadarajan, Siddharth, “Manmohan Sent Strong Message through Burns,” The Hindu, June 6, 2007.


Bhadrakumar, M.K., “Russia’s Tango with Tehran,” Asia Times, June 26, 2007.

Goldschmidt, Pierre, Iran’s Nuclear Program: Between Denial and Despair,

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Proliferation Analysis, June 15, 2007.

Heinrich, Mark, “Iran Sets Talks with IAEA as New Sanctions Loom,” Reuters, June 21, 2007.

Heinrich, Mark and Strohecker, “ElBaradei Urges Iran to Halt Atomic Expansion,“ Reuters, June 14, 2007.

Hiro, Dilip, “The Iranian Bomb in a MAD World,” Asia Times, June 12, 2007.

Perkovich, George, and Squassoni, Sharon, Iran Goes Secret Again, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, June 14, 2007.

Pipes, Daniel, “Can the IAF Take Out Iran’s Nukes?” Jerusalem Post, June 13, 2007.

Reuters, “Rice Cool to Any Partial Nuclear Suspension by Iran,” June 24, 2007.

Sands, David R. “Iran Uses Fronts to Avoid U.N. Sanctions,” The Washington Times, June 13, 2007, p. A1.

North Korea

Gertz, Bill, “Data on N. Korea Centrifuges Sought,” The Washington Times, June 12, 2007, p. A1.

Herman, Bert, “Roh: Nuclear Crisis Just a Bargaining Chip,” The Washington Times, June 1, 2007, p. A17.

Jong-Heon, Lee, “Eyes Focused on N. Korea,” United Press International, June 15, 2007.

Magnier, Mark, “N. Koreans Hope Food and Shelter Come Next,” Los Angeles Times, June 2, 2007, p. A1.

Reuters, “North Korea Allows IAEA Team to Visit Nuclear Plant,” June 27, 2007.

Reuters, “Frozen North Korean Funds Released from Macau Bank,” June 14, 2007.

Sanger, David E., and Onishi, Norimitsu, “U.S., In Shift, Plans Talks in North Korea on Arsenal,” The New York Times, June 21, 2007, p. A8.

Song, Jung-a and Sevastopulo, Demetri, “N. Korea Invites UN to Nuclear Showdown,” Financial Times, June 17, 2007.


Albright, David and Brannan, Paul, Pakistan Appears to be Building a Third Plutonium Production Reactor at Khushab Nuclear Site, The Institute for Science and International Security, June 21, 2007, 6 pp.

Xinhua, “Pakistan Denies Report on New Nuclear Reactor,” June 23, 2007.

III. Nonproliferation

Fox, Jon, “Senators Call for Test Ban Treaty Ratification,” Global Security Newswire, June 8, 2007.

Group of Eight, Heiligendamm Statement on Non-Proliferation, June 8, 2007.

Group of Eight, Report on the Nuclear Safety and Security Group, June 8, 2007.

Heupel, Monika, Implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1540: A Division of Labor Strategy, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Papers, June 2007, 28 pp.

Jan, Sadaqat, “Pakistan Joins Fight on Nuke Terror,” Associated Press, June 10, 2007.

Perkovich, George, et al., Universal Compliance: A Strategy for Nuclear Security: 2007 Report Card on Progress, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, June 2007.

Sokolski, Henry, What Nuclear Challenges Might the EU Meet?, Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, June 14, 2007, 6 pp.

Weitz, Richard, “Future Global Nonproliferation Partnership Would Need More Follow-Through,” World Politics Review, June 28, 2007.

IV. Missiles and Missile Defense

Alison, Sebastian and Pinchuk, Ellen, “Russia Will Target Czech, Polish Missile Sites, Ivanov Says,” Bloomberg News, June 14, 2007.

Chivers, C.J., “Putin Proposes Alternatives for Missile Defense System,” The New York Times, June 9, 2007, p. A6.

Coyle, Philip, A Game of Make-Believe: The European Missile Shield, Neiman Watchdog, June 8, 2007, 2 pp.

De la Grange, Arnaud, “Antimissile Defence’s Real Purpose: Political Integration More than Military Protection,” Le Figaro, June 12, 2007.

Gard, Robert, “Outside View: Euro-BMD Bad for U.S.,” United Press International, June 22, 2007.

Grier, Peter, “A Leaner, Looser ‘Star Wars’ System” Christian Science Monitor, June 5, 2007.

Hildreth, Steven A. and Ek, Carl, Long-Range Ballistic Missile Defense in Europe, Congressional Research Service, June 22, 2007, 11 pp.

The Hindu, “No Move to Cap Long-Range Missiles,” June 19, 2007.

Ismayilov, Rovshan, “Radar for Rent,” Transitions Online, June 11, 2007.

ISN Security Watch, “Radar Diplomacy,” June 13, 2007.

Kuchins, Andrew C., “Vlad the Surpriser,” Newsday, June 10, 2007.

Lasker, John, “U.S. Ramps Up Missile Tests in the Pacific,” Asia Times, June 5, 2007.

Loven, Jennifer, “Bush Defends Missile Defense System,” Associated Press, June 1, 2007.

Mainville, Michael, “Azerbaijani Radar A Looming Presence for Nervous Inhabitants,” Agence-France Presse, June 8, 2007.

Matthews, William, “As U.S., Russia Spar over Missile Defense, Congress Cuts Funding,” Defense News, June 4, 2007.

Osgood, Carl, “Missile Defense: Cheney's Nuclear War Doctrine,” Executive Intelligence Review, June 29, 2007.

Postol, Theodore and Goodby, James, “Old Thinking about a New Threat,” International Herald Tribune, June 8, 2007.

Reuters, “Clinton Derides U.S. Missile Shield Plan,” June 29, 2007.

Sevastopulo, Demetri and Dinmore, Guy, “Russia and US Play Politics with Missiles,” Financial Times, June 21, 2007.

Shanker, Thom, “U.S. to Keep Europe as Site for Deterrent to Missiles,” The New York Times, June 15, 2007, p. A6.

Sieff, Martin, “Why U.S. May Reject Putin Plan,” United Press International, June 18, 2007.

Stott, Michael and Solovyov, Dmitry, “Russia Touts Radar Offer, Says U.S. Shield Not Needed,” Reuters, June 9, 2007.

Stratfor: “Geopolitical Diary: Understanding Putin's Missile-Defense Offer,” June 8, 2007.

Stolberg, Sheryl Gay, “Putin Surprises Bush with Plan on Missile Shield,” The New York Times, June 8, 2007, p. A1.

Thatcher, Jonathan, “Missiles Skid over Iced-Up North Korea Nuclear Deal,” Reuters, June 8, 2007.

Weitz, Richard, “A Bush-Putin Discussion on the Radar,” The Washington Post.com’s Think Tank Town, June 20, 2007.

V. Chemical and Biological Arms

Galbraith, Peter W., “’Chemical Ali’ Didn’t Act Alone,” Los Angeles Times, June 28, 2007.

Giacomo, Carol, “U.S.-Libya Chemical Arms-Related Deal in Doubt,” Reuters, June 8, 2007.

Lombardo, Ingrid, Chemical Non-Lethal Weapons: Why the Pentagon Wants Them and Others Don’t, Center for Nonproliferation Studies Research Story, June 8, 2007.

Krans, Maxim, “The Hysteria Behind Russia’s Ban on DNA Exports,” RIA Novosti, June 1, 2007.

Weitz, Richard, “Russian Chemical Weapons Dismantlement: Progress with Problems,” WMD Insights, June 2007.

Xinhua, “China to Establish Anti-Bioterrorism System, June 27, 2007.

VI. Conventional Arms

Aitamurto, Tanja, “Seven Questions about Cluster Weapons,” Helsingin Sanomat, June 6, 2007.

Associated Press, “Russia Completes Withdrawal from 1 of 2 Remaining Bases in Georgia,” June 27, 2007.

Associated Press, “U.S. Reverses Position and is now Willing to Negotiate a Cluster Bomb Treaty,” June 19, 2007.

Buzhinskiy, Evgeny, “One Step From a Moratorium: Why the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Does Not Suit Russia,” Rossiyskaya Gazeta, June 15, 2007.

Dempsey, Judy, “NATO Offer on Weapons Falls Short, Russia Says,” June 13, 2007.

The Economist, “A Change of Heart, or of Tactic,” June 21, 2007.

Elkus, Adam, “Gangs, Terrorists, and Trade,” Foreign Policy in Focus, June 6, 2007.

Horta, Loro, “China on the March in Latin America,” Asia Times, June 28, 2007.

International Committee of the Red Cross, Humanitarian, Military, Technical and Legal Challenges of Cluster Munitions, 2007, 89 pp.

ITAR-TASS, “Russia Doesn’t Want to Bury CFE, But May Have to Impose Moratorium: Minister,” June 21, 2007.

Keaton, Jamey, “U.S.: NATO Has Intercepted Iranian Arms,” Associated Press, June 13, 2007.

Kole, William J., “Russia Fails in Arms Treaty Overhaul,” Associated Press, June 15, 2007.

Murphy, John, “Israel Sees Problem Skyrocket; Militants Empty Towns with Simple Weapon,” The Baltimore Sun, June 2, 2007, p. A1.

Peuch, Jean-Christophe, “Russia: Moscow ‘Unhappy’ with Outcome of CFE Conference,” Radio Free Europe, June 15, 2007.

Pham, J. Peter, “Hu’s Selling Guns to Africa,” World Politics Review, June 28, 2007.

Reuters, “U.S. Open to Negotiations on Cluster Bombs But No Ban,” June 18, 2007.

RIA Novosti: “Russia Will Not Talk CFE Treaty Withdrawal in Vienna: Lavrov,” June 6, 2007.

Rickards, Jane, “Taiwan Rejects Most of U.S. Arms Package Offered in 2001,” The Washington Post, June 16, 2007, p. A11.

Slackman, Michael, “Running Guns to Gaza: A Living in the Desert,” The New York Times, June 19, 2007.

Smucker, Philip, “Taliban Uses Weapons Made in China, Iran,” The Washington Times, June 5, 2007.

Turse, Nick, “The Secret Air War in Iraq,” The Nation, June 11, 2007.

The Wall Street Journal, “Taiwan’s Self-Defense,” June 22, 2007.

Wright, Robin, “Iranian Flow of Weapons Increasing, Officials Say; Arms Shipments Tracked to Iraqi, Afghan Groups,” The Washington Post, June 3, 2007, p. A14.

VII. U.S. Policy

The Albuquerque Tribune, “Weapons Labs Need to Embrace Change,” June 29, 2007.

Berman, Russell, “Clinton Proposes New Ways to Combat Nuclear Proliferation,” New York Sun, June 28, 2007.

Porter, Gareth, “New Arms Claim Reveals Cheney-Military Rift,” Inter Press Service, June 20, 2007.

VIII. Space

Hitchens, Theresa, “Code Red?” Imaging Notes, Summer 2007.

Hoffman, Carl, “Battlefield Space,” PopularMechanics, July 2007, p. 76.

Reuters, “Eyes on Iran, Israel Launches New Spy Satellite,” June 11, 2007.

Tellis, Ashley J., Punching the U.S. Military’s ‘Soft Ribs:’ China’s Antisatellite Weapon Test in Strategic Perspective, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Policy Brief 51, June 2007, 7 pp.

Zaitsev, Yuri, “The Problem of Space Junk,” RIA Novosti, June 6, 2007.

IX. Other

Barr, Robert, “BAE Systems Subject of Investigation,” Associated Press, June 26, 2007.

Butler, Richard, “Don’t Kick the Inspectors Out of the U.N.,” The New York Times, June 29, 2007.

Gertz, Bill, “China Arms Talks, Reciprocity Stalled,” The Washington Times, June 14, 2007, p. A6.

Highfield, Roger, “How to Build a Greener H-Bomb,” Telegraph.co.uk, June 26, 2007.

Kay, Julie, “Merchants of Doom: A Burgeoning Anti-Terrorism Industry is Peddling Radiation Protection Suits, Nerve Gas Antidotes, and the Latest Spy Aids,” Chicago Sun-Times, June 24, 2007.

Minnick, Wendell, “Just an Update to Some Readers, ‘Realistic Appraisal’ of Threat to Others,” Defense News, June 4, 2007.

Puska, Susan, “Military Backs China’s Africa Adventure,” Asia Times, June 8, 2007.

Wald, Matthew L., “Sole U.S. Company That Enriches Uranium is Struggling to Stay in Business,” The New York Times, June 12, 2007, p. C4.

Editor's Note

Miles A. Pomper

It is perhaps the scenario most dreaded by the American public and U.S. national security experts: Organized crime gangs take advantage of poorly secured former Soviet nuclear materials and smuggle a bomb’s worth of nuclear material across unguarded borders. They pass the material to terrorists, who eventually detonate such a weapon in the United States or against U.S. interests.

Fortunately, such a scenario has yet to play out in real life. Indeed, as Sonia Ben Ouagrham-Gormley notes in this month’s cover story, available data indicates that, despite post-September 11 fears, a nexus among terrorists, organized crime, and dangerous weapons trafficking has not formed in the former Soviet Union. Still, she cautions that more needs to be done to keep such nightmares from becoming reality.

Likewise, Sidney Niemayer and David K. Smith say that, by failing to keep better track of these incidents and relevant materials, governments in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere are failing to fully tap a vital resource. Follow-on investigations and information sharing, they say, could help determine the origin of nuclear or radiological materials and point to the perpetrators of such crimes.

Americans may fear a nuclear attack by terrorists, but some non-nuclear-weapon states fear such an attack from the United States and other nuclear weapons possessors. To assuage their concern, they have pushed the nuclear-weapon states to provide assurances that they will not use nuclear arms against states without them. But as George Bunn and Jean du Preez argue in another article, the Bush administration has watered down the already limited negative security assurances provided by previous U.S. administrations. They urge the next U.S. president to solidify these commitments.

Our news section this month looks at Russia’s missile defense offer, a U.S. offer on cluster munitions, congressional opposition to a new nuclear warhead, and the release of a new International Atomic Energy Agency report on international cooperation to limit the dangers of nuclear fuel-cycle facilities.

How to cope with the potential dangers caused by the global spread of nuclear fuel-cycle technology is one of the themes of the book Atoms for Peace: A Future After 50 Years?, edited by Joseph Pilat. Ambassador Norman A. Wulf says the book demonstrates that supply-side approaches to controlling nuclear proliferation are losing effectiveness and more efforts need to be made to dampen the motivations for new states to acquire such weapons.

Also, a printer error led to some words being dropped from the introduction to the cover story in the print edition of our June issue. As a service to our readers, we have reprinted the article in full on page 51 of the July/August print edition of Arms Control Today.

The Wisdom of Sharing the Peaceful Atom

Atoms for Peace: A Future after Fifty Years? Edited by Joseph F. Pilat
Johns Hopkins University Press, March 2007, 392 pp

Ambassador Norman A. Wulf

When President Dwight Eisenhower made his historic Atoms for Peace address to the UN General Assembly in December 1953, that body had a total of 60 members. Now there are 192. By itself, this increase in independent countries, dramatic as it is, might be enough to justify a re-examination of the wisdom of sharing the peaceful atom. But other changes that have altered the assumptions underlying the proposal compel such a re-examination.

With the United States and the Soviet Union engaged in an arms race involving nuclear and thermonuclear weapons, Eisenhower’s speech foresaw applying “atomic energy to the needs of agriculture [and] medicine…and to provide abundant electrical energy.” To prevent misuse of the peaceful atom and to prevent acquisition of the capability to develop nuclear weapons, reliance was placed on international inspections (safeguards) and export controls. Few countries, it was believed, had the capability to develop the enrichment and reprocessing technology and equipment that would allow them to produce the enriched uranium or separated plutonium needed for nuclear weapons. Safeguards would prevent diversion of this material once imported from the few potential suppliers, and export controls would prevent those suppliers from providing critical technology and equipment to foreign weapons programs.

This approach can be seen in the subsequent drafting of the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). While Article IV sought to enshrine the goal of Atoms for Peace, Article III requires non-nuclear-weapon states to accept International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards “for the exclusive purpose of verification of the fulfillment of its obligations assumed under this Treaty with a view to preventing the diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons” (emphasis added). This focus on diversion also is contained in the safeguards agreements developed for non-nuclear-weapon states-parties to the NPT, commonly referred to as 153 agreements. Scant attention was devoted in those agreements to undeclared equipment or materials because of the assumption that constructing such capabilities was beyond most parties. Meanwhile, those countries capable of exporting technology related to enrichment, reprocessing, or use of fissile material would ensure that such items were subject to IAEA safeguards. To provide precision on what was subject to safeguards, NPT states-parties capable of such exports met and elaborated a list called the Zangger Committee Understandings. India’s 1974 test of a “peaceful” nuclear explosive device led to the establishment of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and to even stricter controls on enrichment and reprocessing technology. These control lists were expanded several times throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

This system of enforced scarcity worked remarkably well for several decades. Because change is the only constant, however, it soon became necessary to adapt the original regimes. More countries were not only gaining their independence but also enhancing their industrial capability.

The 1991 discovery of Iraq’s nuclear weapons program forced action. Through program 93+2 and the 1997 Model Additional Protocol, the IAEA sought to respond to the increasing capability of additional countries to manufacture nuclear-related technology by broadening its safeguards approach from merely looking for diversion of declared materials to looking for undeclared equipment and material. In the words of NPT Article III, the IAEA is now seeking to verify a party’s “fulfillment of its [NPT] obligations.”

Meanwhile, some countries were defeating export controls on sensitive technology and equipment by acquiring individual components. The NSG responded by placing limitations on such components and by making non-NPT states-parties with unsafeguarded programs ineligible for new civil nuclear supply. This latter reform decreased the risk of diversion of imported nuclear items but, more importantly, had the effect of granting preference to NPT states-parties in civil nuclear cooperation, a benefit they had long sought as a reward for joining the NPT. These efforts were further bolstered by the indefinite extension of the NPT in 1995, which made permanent the norms and principles underlying the nuclear nonproliferation regime.

These adaptations were essential to meet the growing proliferation challenge. Not unexpectedly, the challenges continue. One of the greatest challenges is the prospect of cooperation among proliferators or between proliferators and would-be proliferators. Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan’s actions with Iran, Libya, and North Korea must leave any informed observer with the unsettling concern that anybody with the necessary resources could obtain the technology for enrichment on the black market and obtain the needed equipment clandestinely.

Indeed, the concern must extend to the design of nuclear weapons because this was also allegedly provided by Khan to Libya and perhaps others. When the fact that a Malaysian company manufactured centrifuges is combined with the knowledge Khan shared on evading export controls, there must be greater concern that “anybody can do it.” If a country as isolated as North Korea can build and operate a reactor and a reprocessing plant, can export controls combined with IAEA safeguards ever again be considered adequate? Free trade also plays a role as the resultant further spread of industrialization means that increasingly complex factories and processes are built in ever-growing locales. It is understandable, albeit mistaken, for some to conclude that the nonproliferation effort should be abandoned and the focus placed instead on counterproliferation.

This is the context in which Atoms for Peace: A Future After Fifty Years? appears. The book is a compilation of papers from a conference held in 2003, and admittedly the passage of three and a half years from that conference to the publication of this book diminishes its value. Yet, most papers are presented by leading nonproliferation experts and wrestle with issues still germane today. Robert Litwak of the Woodrow Wilson Center; Ambassador Linton Brooks, then-administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration; and Laura Holgate of the Nuclear Threat Initiative are among the authors dealing with nuclear terrorism. Daniel Poneman, a senior nonproliferation official in the Clinton and Bush administrations, and Lawrence Scheinman of the Monterey Institute are among the authors looking at the future. Thus, editor and contributing author Joseph Pilat of Los Alamos National Laboratory has performed a valuable service in making this compendium of articles available in book form. No one can walk away from reading this book without agreeing with his overall conclusion:

So, mixed results and all, the legacy of Atoms for Peace profoundly influences the debate on all things nuclear. It may be expected that it will be defended or attacked, as pundits, policy analysts, and politicians put forward divergent proposals for a future in which nuclear energy remains as it was understood at the dawn of the nuclear age—a Janus-headed reality posing both extraordinary risks and benefits.

Any serious reader seeking to understand this tension will find in this book a wealth of information.

But what of the concern regarding widespread industrialization diminishing the effectiveness of the classical nonproliferation tools: export controls and international safeguards? Although several of the papers in the book touch on this problem, one chapter by Christopher Chyba of Princeton University succinctly sets forth the problem and begins the process of searching for answers. The goal he espouses for the United States is admirably straightforward as he notes the contrast between nuclear and biological weapon futures: “We may no longer be in a strong position to shape [the biological weapons future] although we need to make wise choices where we can. We want to continue to be able to shape our nuclear future” (emphasis added). Chyba readily concludes that there is no silver bullet. Rather, he espouses “a self-reinforcing web of nonproliferation measures” focusing both on supply-side and demand-side measures.

It has long been understood that export controls and safeguards can slow proliferation but not prevent it. Global industrialization is continually shortening the amount of time that export controls and safeguards can buy. Chyba concludes that this dictates far more attention being paid to demand-side measures “even as we preserve the importance of supply-side measures.” Tellingly, he concludes, “[t]his will continue to require an approach to the proliferation challenge that weighs the long-term consequences of short-term actions, and has the patience to make strategic choices that are in the long-term national interest.”

All the contributors to this book seem to agree on Chyba’s central point: the United States needs to provide the leadership to shape the world’s nuclear future. The tragedy is how often the current administration has failed that leadership test. This is not to say that everything that has gone wrong in the nonproliferation field is the fault of the United States. The current administration, however, has often failed abysmally in its response to those exogenous events. The administration not only fails to realize that the nonproliferation regime consists of several strands and that weakening one strand weakens all, but it also fails to appreciate that the ever-diminishing time that traditional nonproliferation tools make available must be used wisely.

In part, that failure is structural: politicians think in two- to four-year increments while within the Department of State, where nonproliferation has increasingly become the province of the Foreign Service, the three-year assignment cycle often defines the time horizon. With such a structure, weighing the long-term consequences of short-term actions, as Chyba recommends, has become ever more difficult. The structural problems were increased by an ill-advised reorganization of the nonproliferation bureau in the State Department that diluted its nonproliferation focus with other responsibilities and was used as an opportunity to marginalize many career civil servants with technical knowledge and experience while increasing the role of “right-thinking” political appointees. Although structural problems contribute, ideological rigidity combined with overwhelming hubris and a failure by President George W. Bush and his national security advisers to maintain discipline have been responsible for this administration’s failure to use wisely the time purchased by nonproliferation efforts.

Through seven prior presidents, a central pillar of U.S. nonproliferation policy has been support for universal adherence to the NPT. Thus, when North Korea threatened to withdraw from the NPT in 1993, the Clinton administration worked with Russia and the United Kingdom, the three NPT depositary governments, on a statement “questioning” Pyongyang’s stated justification for withdrawal. This concern was incorporated into UN Security Council Resolution 825. By contrast, the Bush administration silently acquiesced in 2003, finding itself constrained because it had recently withdrawn from the ABM Treaty; the withdrawal clauses in both treaties are virtually identical. Only after North Korea detonated a nuclear weapon was its NPT withdrawal condemned by a Security Council resolution.

The North Korea issue has been a battleground between those advocating regime change and those seeking behavior change. Advocates of regime change prevailed, relying on what is now admitted to be less dramatic evidence for their claim of North Korean cheating than they then believed, and the United States walked away from the 1994 Agreed Framework, which the Clinton administration had negotiated with Pyongyang. North Korea shortly thereafter responded by throwing out the IAEA, which had maintained a continuous presence at their plutonium facilities; separated what is believed to be five to seven bombs’ worth of plutonium from spent fuel; and conducted a nuclear test. The sensible course of maintaining controls over plutonium that was known to exist while seeking to deal with an enrichment program that might exist was not pursued.

The most recent evidence of the ongoing battle within the administration was the imposition of financial sanctions on North Korea, which occurred near the conclusion of the September 2005 six-party agreement on denuclearization principles. The Bush administration’s approach to dealing with North Korea could, until recently, be appropriately characterized as consisting of three no’s—no carrots, no sticks, no results. One is left with the sad belief that the deal with North Korea that the Bush administration currently appears to be pursuing is one that could have been achieved much earlier and without removing all constraints on plutonium.

On Iran, the administration was correct when it sought prompt referral of the matter to the UN Security Council. Yet, those efforts failed because the administration was not trusted after its “misuse” of Security Council resolutions to justify its invasion of Iraq and because the administration was unwilling to incur the costs needed to sell this approach. The Security Council’s failure was compounded by the administration’s initial refusal to collaborate outside the Security Council with China, Russia, and the European Union. The administration simply did not seem to consider that others were unwilling to place significant sticks on the table unless the United States was willing to place significant carrots. The time for solving nonproliferation problems on the cheap is past. In order to demonstrate seriousness, Washington must be prepared to pay significant costs to prevent proliferation.

The result was the United States sitting on the sidelines from 2003-2005 while the EU-3 (France, Germany, and the United Kingdom) as well as Russia and China continued searching for incremental steps that might nudge Iran into action. The Europeans, who could impose sanctions without Security Council action by withholding trade benefits, are following the U.S. model by refusing to incur significant costs. While the West dithers, Iran’s enrichment program is rapidly expanding.

Meanwhile, IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei, not trusting Washington’s leadership after U.S. disregard for IAEA conclusions on Iraq, has moved the agency from its technical role into an ever more political role by seeking to ensnare Iran with incremental steps. This approach has backfired and has emboldened Iran in the belief that the penalties that it must endure for proliferation are bearable.

An important strand of the overall nonproliferation regime is the universal condemnation of all nuclear proliferation. The administration has virtually severed this strand by succumbing to the siren song from India. The Bush administration’s view is that India, as a democracy, a huge market for U.S. products, and a potential ally in “containing” China, should be exempt from the principle that all proliferation is bad. The problem is not that the administration failed to get enough from India for abandoning principle. The problem is abandoning principle. Over the years, the United States on at least four occasions has silently placed bilateral pressure on friends to halt their nascent proliferation programs. Similar future efforts will be far less likely to succeed now that the United States has agreed that some proliferation is acceptable.

The Bush administration’s antipathy toward multilateral instruments and organizations has led to some disdainful treatment of the NPT and its review process, the IAEA, and export control regimes such as the NSG. Hostility combined with a lack of U.S. leadership has increased downward pressure on the overall regime.

Unwilling to force compliance with its decision to seek prompt entry into force of its additional protocol, the White House has accommodated the Pentagon’s delaying tactics and supported implementing legislation that is inconsistent with the terms of the protocol. The protocol is still not in force for the United States with the result that Washington has little ability to persuade others to accept it.

Instead of seeking to capitalize on U.S. ascendancy in smart conventional weaponry by minimizing the importance of nuclear weapons, the administration seeks to build new nuclear weapons and shorten the time required to resume testing. Under Department of Defense pressure, the administration failed to follow up on the promising May 2002 U.S.-Russia summit at which Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin set out the parameters of a comprehensive strategic nuclear dialogue. Many countries view these U.S. actions as showing a lack of compliance with Article VI of the NPT, undermining our ability to convince others to take Iranian noncompliance seriously.

The book contains a chapter written by then-Assistant Secretary for Arms Control Stephen Rademaker that parrots the expected ideological catechism to justify inaction on further nuclear arms controls: “It is simplistic and misleading to suggest that countries pursue nuclear weapons primarily in reaction to the nuclear policies of the United States and other legitimate nuclear weapon states. Countries bent on acquiring nuclear weapons have their own reasons.” It is not false modesty to profess that no one, including political appointees of this administration, really knows why a country may decide to acquire nuclear weapons. What is reasonable to assume is that all countries perform some semblance of a cost-benefit analysis. The logic of their analysis may not be the same as ours. Recall that the South African rationale for acquiring nuclear weapons was to draw in the major powers should a civil war develop there. A truly humble foreign policy would candidly admit that we do not know why countries decide to proliferate but pay attention to all the strands that make up the nonproliferation web and take logical actions to make acquisition less attractive. At a minimum, an appropriate rationale would eschew arguments that the United States must have nuclear weapons to deter the same threats that other countries also face.

The foregoing critique is not meant to imply that the Bush administration has done nothing correct in the nonproliferation field. As indicated earlier, recent administration steps seem to be evolving toward a more constructive approach toward North Korea. The administration also has moved the United States into a collaborative posture with China, the EU, and Russia on dealing with Iran’s program. These actions leave thoughtful observers to wonder whether North Korea and Iran are so much more “evil” than Libya as to justify these costly delays in rational approaches.

Also quietly but effectively, the administration continues its effort to wrap up all remaining remnants of the Khan network. It secured passage of Security Council Resolution 1540 to try and prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction (WMD), but it thus far has failed to devote enough time, attention, and resources to the 1540 Committee to ensure that all states not only enact export controls but effectively enforce them. In a rare departure, the administration in its first term also made available increased funding for IAEA safeguards. The much-touted Proliferation Security Initiative provides some modest benefits for what one can only hope will be rare cases when last-minute high seas interdiction of proliferation-related equipment or materials is necessary. Further, based on its overall posture at the recent first preparatory meeting for the 2010 NPT review conference, there seems to be at least a hint that the administration is beginning to understand the value of multilateral institutions.

It is to be hoped that some of these favorable straws in the wind will become U.S. policy. Elliot Richardson asserted in 1969 that the United States had a history of being lucky, but now the challenges facing us require that we be good. This administration has seriously eroded the margin for error that we once had. Rather than relying on the diminishing scope for luck, it is past time that the administration starts pursuing a policy that strengthens all the strands making up the nonproliferation regime.

This starts with a realization that the traditional tools of export controls and safeguards continue to be important. Increasing industrialization is broadening the number of possible proliferators, but it fortunately remains true that the technology for centrifuge enrichment, for example, is beyond the grasp of most countries acting alone. The effectiveness of export controls, however, is often undermined by the “ignorance excuse.” Exporting companies avoid penalties for violating export laws by asserting their ignorance of the fact that the item shipped was controlled or was destined to a proscribed location. States whose nationals evade the export laws of others to import a controlled item avoid sanctions by asserting their ignorance of the activities of their nationals.

Exporting nations must hold their companies accountable by presuming knowledge, and sanctions should be applied to any country whose nationals engage in circumvention. To have any chance of obtaining support for our compliance concerns, we must demonstrate an understanding of the concerns of others about our compliance with the NPT, and we must demonstrate consistency. Making an exception for India was always a bad idea; it now deserves a quiet burial. In short, this administration’s actions must match its rhetoric about the importance of nuclear nonproliferation.

Although our understanding of other countries’ cost-benefit analysis will necessarily remain incomplete, we can logically assume that security concerns are a primary factor in determining whether a country proliferates. If the nonproliferation regime can give countries confidence that those who could threaten their security are not acquiring nuclear weapons, they should have less interest in acquiring nuclear weapons. It is only when countries conclude that the costs of proliferating have gone down and the benefits remain or are increasing that there are increased risks of proliferation.

Will Persian Gulf states refrain, should Iran complete its drive for nuclear weapons? Will Japan continue to rely on the U.S. nuclear umbrella if North Korea’s weapons program continues to advance, and what of South Korea? What about the countries not presently on our radar screen that see India continuing to acquire nuclear weapons while engaging in nuclear commerce with the United States and presumably remaining a prime prospect for a permanent seat on an expanded Security Council? Finally, if the United States continues to assert that we must have nuclear weapons to deal with other WMD threats or for global prestige, why should other countries not emulate our example? We must strengthen all the strands of the nonproliferation regime and, as Chyba asserts, weigh “the long-term consequences of short-term actions, and [have] the patience to make strategic choices that are in the long-term national interest.” Nonproliferation is a cooperative effort. The United States must cooperate as well, even while asserting leadership.

Corrected online August 29, 2008. See explanation.


Ambassador Norman A. Wulf worked on nuclear nonproliferation for more than 20 years for the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and the Department of State, the last three of which (1999-2002) were as the president’s special representative for nuclear nonproliferation. In that capacity, he led the U.S. delegation to the 2000 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty review conference. Previously, he had negotiated the expanded safeguards contained in the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) 1997 Model Additional Protocol with some 50 other countries and then negotiated the U.S. version of this protocol with the IAEA.

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