"I actually have a pretty good collection of Arms Control Today, which I have read throughout my career. It's one of the few really serious publications on arms control issues."
– Gary Samore
Former White House Coordinator for Arms Control and WMD Terrorism
December 2007
Edition Date: 
Saturday, December 1, 2007
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Revived U.S.-Indian Deal Heads to IAEA

Wade Boese

After appearing close to expiration, the U.S.-Indian civil nuclear cooperation deal was recently resuscitated when some Indian lawmakers relaxed their opposition to government talks with the world’s nuclear monitoring agency. The deal’s recovery, however, could be short lived if the consultations falter or fail to satisfy the lawmakers.

Almost exactly one month after Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh informed President George W. Bush that their two-year-old initiative had run into “difficulties,” Singh’s coalition government Nov. 16 announced that the deal had won clearance to move ahead. That approval came when India’s Communist parties and their allies, whose votes help keep the coalition in power, consented to the government holding talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which promotes and monitors civilian nuclear activities worldwide.

Indian officials traveled Nov. 21 to the agency’s Vienna headquarters to begin their discussions on a safeguards arrangement for the nuclear facilities that New Delhi designates as serving civilian rather than military purposes. Safeguards are mechanisms, such as inspections and remote monitoring, that are intended to ensure that civilian nuclear programs are not contributing to the development of nuclear bombs.

India conducted its first nuclear test in 1974 using a device derived in part from U.S. and Canadian exports designated for “peaceful” purposes. Now estimated to have a stockpile of up to 100 warheads, New Delhi has resisted foreign pressure to forswear future nuclear testing and stop producing nuclear material for bombs.

Only Indian facilities with IAEA safeguards would be eligible for any new nuclear commerce opportunities created through the Bush administration’s drive to peel back nearly three decades of various U.S. and multilateral nuclear trade prohibitions on India that grew out of its 1974 blast. To take advantage of Washington’s work, which is the heart of the July 2005 U.S.-Indian deal, New Delhi announced in March 2006 that eight more nuclear power reactors would join six others already under IAEA safeguards. Another eight reactors would be off-limits to international oversight and ineligible for foreign nuclear supplies.

India has said that it wants “India-specific” safeguards to apply to the reactors and other facilities it is classifying as civilian. Indian officials have not publicly explained how these safeguards might differ from India’s existing safeguards, but reports exist that New Delhi, among other things, wants flexibility to withdraw facilities from safeguards in the event that foreign nuclear supplies are cut off, even if it is the result of renewed Indian nuclear testing.

India-specific safeguards that depart dramatically from existing arrangements could face more difficulty winning the approval of the agency’s 35 member-state Board of Governors, which currently includes India’s neighbor and rival, Pakistan. The board, which next meets March 3-7, 2008, typically approves safeguards by consensus.

The Singh-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition also pledged that a committee that includes the leftist parties would review any completed IAEA agreement. Whether that panel has the power to reject the agreement is unclear.

Still, if they are dissatisfied, the leftist parties could again threaten to withdraw their support for the coalition government. The earlier use of this threat helped stall the effort previously and led to creation of the committee because Singh’s Congress Party feared that a leftist withdrawal could trigger early elections that would unseat the government. The leftist parties have condemned the overall U.S.-Indian initiative, charging that Singh is cozying up too much to Washington and compromising Indian sovereignty.

The main Indian opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, has vehemently criticized the deal as a covert U.S. attempt to constrain India’s nuclear weapons complex. In a Nov. 7 statement, the party blasted Singh as making a “significant strategic blunder” and called for the deal to be “renegotiated and not hustled through as the UPA government is attempting.”

If Singh can navigate the deal through India’s turbulent politics and the IAEA, future nuclear cooperation will still depend on the Bush administration winning final approval for expanding nuclear trade with India from the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and Congress, which gave its preliminary and qualified approval last December. (See ACT, January/February 2007. ) Before Congress reconsiders the proposed U.S.-Indian bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement, U.S. law requires that the NSG, which operates by consensus, adjust current guidelines that restrict trade with states, such as India, that do not subject their entire nuclear enterprise to IAEA safeguards. The next plenary meeting of the NSG is scheduled for May 2008, but a special session could be convened if the IAEA Board of Governors approves a new safeguards agreement with India.

The Bush administration has indicated it wants the deal finalized in 2008, but with U.S. elections scheduled for next November, the time for congressional action could be short.

Europe Eager to Preserve CFE Treaty

Wade Boese

Many European governments are increasingly anxious about the future of a treaty limiting conventional arms in Europe, but officials say there should be no cause for immediate alarm if Russia suspends implementation of the accord. The Kremlin maintains support for an updated version of that treaty and, in a related move, recently withdrew some Russian military forces from Georgia.

Completed the year before the Soviet Union’s 1991 disintegration, the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty placed equal caps on the battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, heavy artillery, combat aircraft, and attack helicopters that the two superpowers and their allies could deploy between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ural Mountains. Aiming to avert massive surprise attacks by either bloc, the treaty limited how many forces could be stationed in central Europe and concentrated in Europe’s northern and southern regions, the so-called flanks.

Referred to as a “cornerstone” of European security, the CFE Treaty is typically hailed for leading to the destruction of more than 60,000 weapons and building confidence and trust among its states-parties through an extensive verification regime. Last May, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice deemed the accord “one of the most important treaties of the 20th century.”

But with the Soviet Union’s collapse and NATO’s expansion to include 10 new members, including former Soviet allies and republics, the treaty’s value has waned in some eyes, most notably in Moscow. Consequently, CFE states-parties in 1999 negotiated an adapted version of the treaty, which among other things replaces the bloc arms limits with national weapons ceilings. (See ACT, November 1999. )

All 30 of the original treaty’s states-parties must ratify the adapted treaty for it to take effect, but only four have done so. The 22 CFE Treaty states-parties that are NATO members have been linking ratification of the adapted treaty to Russia fulfilling military withdrawal commitments regarding Georgia and Moldova. Russia made those pledges at the same summit at which the adapted treaty was completed.

Moscow contends the issues should not be linked and that the adapted treaty must be brought into force as quickly as possible to supplant the original treaty. One of Russia’s many criticisms of the older pact is that four NATO members (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovenia) are not party to it and therefore do not have any arms limits. The four cannot join the original treaty because it lacks an accession provision, but they will be able to accede to the adapted treaty after it enters into force.

With U.S.-Russian tensions escalating over a Bush administration plan to install strategic anti-missile systems in Europe, Russian President Vladimir Putin in July announced Russia would stop implementing the original CFE Treaty in six months unless NATO addresses Russia’s raft of concerns with the accord. In November, the Russian parliament’s two chambers approved the possible Dec. 12 suspension.

Contemplating a Suspension

The United States and its European allies are urging Russia not to carry out its threat. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier co-authored an article published Oct. 29 in the newspapers Le Figaro and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung warning that “an erosion of the CFE Treaty could spark new arms races and create new lines of confrontation.”

Several government officials from different European states told Arms Control Today in November interviews that the two foreign ministers’ concerns were principally of a long-term nature and that NATO members would work to prevent further confrontation even if Russia ceased implementing the CFE Treaty. Almost all of the officials asked not to be named and requested their country not be identified because of the sensitivity of the current situation.

All the officials agreed that the best result would be if Russia opted to “suspend its suspension.” A minority expressed hope that Russia might not act on its threat, but a majority seemed resigned that Moscow would not apply the brakes.

Russia has not been clear on what a suspension might entail. Russian officials have suggested that participation in inspections and data exchanges would cease, but they have not said whether Russia will stop attending meetings of the Joint Consultative Group, the treaty’s Vienna-based forum for implementation discussions. Moreover, Kremlin officials previously stated a suspension would not lead Russia to exceed its limits or redeploy its forces, but more recent media reports have quoted General Yuri Baluyevsky, chief of the general staff, as saying that such options would be kept open.

All the European government officials interviewed by Arms Control Today said NATO members likely would continue initially to provide data exchanges and notifications if Russia stopped. The purpose of doing so, they said, would be to maintain those channels for Russia to resume cooperation and to signal to other countries that one country’s choice not to abide by the treaty does not provide leeway for other states-parties to eschew their legal obligations. Aside from Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, and Ukraine are the other seven non-NATO CFE states-parties.

The officials generally downplayed possible Russian force buildups, at least in the short term, but acknowledged that concerns are greater for countries nearer Russian borders, such as the three Baltic countries, Norway, and Turkey. Several of the officials stressed, however, that “security cannot be divided.”

A Norwegian official interviewed Nov. 19 by Arms Control Today said his country has both “political and practical reasons” for preserving the CFE framework. But he noted that if Moscow were to increase its forces anywhere, it would most likely be in southern Russia.

A prolonged Russian suspension, some of the officials said, eventually could compel NATO countries to re-evaluate their defense planning. Michael Wyganowski, a former Polish diplomat who worked on CFE Treaty issues and is now executive director of the Washington-based Center for European Policy Analysis, told Arms Control Today Nov. 15 that absent data from Russia and arms limits on Russia, other European military planners would have to alter their “assumptions.” He speculated that if Russia walks away from the CFE regime, it could be a sign that Moscow sees military power playing a bigger role in its policy “toolbox.”

Still, the European government officials stressed the importance of not overreacting to a Russian suspension. In such a case, one official stated there would be no need to “panic,” while another official said it would be crucial to keep the “dialogue and doors open” with Russia.

During the past several months, the United States and its NATO allies have sought to persuade Russia to stave off the suspension, but some say the dialogue has been mostly one way. At multilateral meetings near Berlin and in Paris and at U.S.-Russian bilateral meetings in Moscow and Geneva, U.S. and European officials say the West offers proposals while Russia reiterates its problems and adds to its demands. One European official familiar with the talks told Arms Control Today Nov. 15 that there was “no sign that the Russians were seeking solutions to avoid a suspension.”

Georgia and Moldova

NATO members maintain they have insisted on conditioning the ratification of the adapted CFE Treaty in order to avoid having Georgia and Moldova feel abandoned. Both those governments want Russia’s forces to depart their two territories, and a key principle of the adapted treaty is that foreign deployed troops must have host-state consent.

Russia’s withdrawal from Moldova stalled in 2004, leaving approximately 1,200 Russian troops and about 21,000 metric tons of ammunition behind. But the Kremlin has been slowly reducing its forces in Georgia. In mid-November, Russia finished withdrawing its forces from the second of two bases it promised in 2005 to vacate. (See ACT, July/August 2005. ) With that step, only about 200 Russian troops, which Moscow says are peacekeepers, remain in Georgia.

A complicating factor in completing the withdrawals from Georgia and Moldova is that the remaining Russian forces are located in separatist territories. NATO members have volunteered financial assistance to facilitate the withdrawals and proposed that international peacekeepers replace the Russian troops. Moscow has declined these offers, claiming in part that the local ethnic Russian populations would not feel as safe with non-Russian soldiers.

Some NATO members in recent months have suggested starting ratification of the adapted treaty in conjunction with continued Russian withdrawal activities. On Nov. 5, David Kramer, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, testified to the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe that the “goal” would be to “send a constructive signal to Moscow that NATO stands by this treaty.”

The Flanks

Despite its discontent with the original treaty, Moscow also is not entirely happy with the adapted treaty. For instance, Russia dislikes provisions that would allow some NATO members to host temporary deployments of foreign forces above their arms limits.

Another top Kremlin complaint is that the adapted treaty maintains modified versions of the original treaty’s flanks limits on Russia. Those caps constrain the amount of forces that Russia can deploy on its own northern and southern territory, including the unstable Caucasus region. Moscow is calling for the abolishment of its flanks limits.

There is no consensus among NATO members about what should be done with the flanks. But many of the officials interviewed by Arms Control Today said it would be impractical to “open up” the adapted treaty to deal with the flanks before the agreement entered into force. One official volunteered that a potential compromise could be a pledge by NATO to review the flanks issue after the adapted treaty’s entry into force.

Kouchner and Steinmeier appeared to hint at this option. Contending that all the current CFE Treaty disputes cannot be resolved in the short term, the two foreign ministers suggested governments should “proceed on the understanding that even after the entry into force of the Adapted CFE Treaty, the door will remain open for further amendments.”

The CFE Treaty and European Security

Daryl G. Kimball

A mere 20 years ago, massive numbers of conventional and nuclear forces stood poised for attack on opposite sides of the Iron Curtain. NATO and Soviet bloc countries were finally able to draw down their arsenals, ease tensions, and build trust with verification through a series of landmark arms control agreements concluded in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Much attention has been focused on the impact of the treaty eliminating intermediate-range nuclear forces and the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) in solidifying the end of Cold War hostilities. No less important is the 1990 Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, which slashed NATO and Warsaw Pact armies and their equipment and effectively eliminated the possibility of a blitzkrieg-style land attack across the East-West frontier.

Over the years, the CFE Treaty has provided an unprecedented level of transparency, predictability, and stability to European security and the U.S.-Russian relationship. The treaty has led to the destruction of more than 60,000 heavy conventional weapons and more than 4,000 on-site inspections. The resulting post-Cold War military balance has erased the old rationale for maintaining tactical nuclear weapons in Europe, which was to counter the Soviet bloc's conventional military strength.

All of this may soon change, however, if CFE member states do not abide by core treaty principles, adopt an updated version of the treaty, and avoid confrontational steps that put the treaty in jeopardy. The Bush White House and the Kremlin are already at odds over U.S. plans to deploy strategic missile interceptors in eastern Europe, and they disagree about the future of START.

Now, Russian President Vladimir Putin is poised to suspend implementation of the CFE Treaty Dec. 12 unless the United States and its NATO allies address Russia's concerns. Moscow's key grievance is that NATO countries have failed to ratify a 1999 adapted version of the treaty, which would relax some arms limits on Russia and open up the treaty regime to additional members, including new NATO members Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovenia.

Led by the United States, NATO members have maintained they will not ratify the updated treaty until Russia completes military withdrawal commitments from Georgia and Moldova made in conjunction with the adapted treaty. A core element of the adapted CFE Treaty is that individual states give their consent to any deployment of foreign military forces within their territory. Approximately 1,200 Russian military personnel and massive ammunition stockpiles remain in Moldova, and another 200 personnel remain in Georgia.

To convey its goodwill and support for the adapted CFE Treaty, the United States reportedly has endorsed a more flexible course of action, allowing individual NATO members to start some ratification steps but not complete the process. They have reiterated their support for replacing Russian forces in Moldova with international peacekeepers.

Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, has said that the U.S. proposals represent "a step to the right direction." Yet, after the latest round of talks in November, Lavrov said, "[S]o far there is no progress." Russian officials have been vague about what the threatened suspension of treaty implementation might entail, but they have hinted that it might unilaterally redeploy some of its forces and end participation in inspections and data exchanges.

Such a course of action would be counterproductive. Other states may be tempted to unilaterally interpret the 1990 treaty, and some legislatures might slow, not hasten, their consideration and ratification of the adapted treaty. Over time, the absence of good information about Russia's capabilities may lead some Western military planners to adjust their calculations, which could lead to new conventional force buildups in Europe.

Key players must now take the right steps to avoid confrontation between former adversaries. Putin must resist internal pressure to undermine the CFE Treaty as a means to lash out at the United States over what Russia perceives as a lack of respect for its interests. The CFE Treaty still serves Russia's vital interests, particularly because it maintains reasonable limits on NATO forces. The Kremlin must also do its part and finally fulfill its commitments to withdraw its residual forces in Georgia and Moldova, which are not vital to security in those regions.

For their part, NATO member states should initiate the process of ratifying the adapted CFE Treaty within the next several weeks. If Russia suspends implementation of the 1990 treaty, other CFE member states should continue to abide by their treaty commitments. Doing so would avoid a total unraveling of the CFE regime and keep the door open for Russia to return to the treaty. CFE members should also strengthen the regime by agreeing to even lower force limits.

Moscow and Washington have enough troubles to solve without provocative new actions that further undermine the international arms control framework. It is time for renewed leadership to bring the adapted CFE Treaty into force in order to maintain security and cooperation across Europe's old dividing lines.

A mere 20 years ago, massive numbers of conventional and nuclear forces stood poised for attack on opposite sides of the Iron Curtain. NATO and Soviet bloc countries were finally able to draw down their arsenals, ease tensions, and build trust with verification through a series of landmark arms control agreements concluded in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Much attention has been focused on the impact of the treaty eliminating intermediate-range nuclear forces and the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) in solidifying the end of Cold War hostilities. No less important is the 1990 Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, which slashed NATO and Warsaw Pact armies and their equipment and effectively eliminated the possibility of a blitzkrieg-style land attack across the East-West frontier. (Continue)

CWC Conference Boosts Treaty, Exposes Rifts

Oliver Meier

A Nov. 5-9 annual meeting of Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) states-parties approved a number of decisions to strengthen the treaty but also exposed some differing views among the 116 participating states. Those differences on issues related to the future of the 10-year-old global ban on chemical weapons also indicate that next year’s CWC review conference might proceed less than smoothly.

British ambassador Lyn Parker is heading an open-ended working group preparing the review conference, which is charged with drafting the final declaration. He told Arms Control Today in an interview Nov. 20 that there was “a high degree of common purpose” among participating state representatives, but warned that differences persist on some major issues, such as defining the balance between activities related to disarmament and nonproliferation of chemical weapons on the one side and civil cooperation, assistance, and protection on the other. Parker welcomed the positive atmosphere in the working group, but pointed out that only a limited number of states-parties are represented there, and that it remained to be seen how discussions might develop when all states-parties come together at the review conference itself.

No Growth in OPCW Budget

The annual conference, the 12th such conference of CWC states-parties, approved the 2008 budget for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which implements the chemical weapons ban. For the third year in a row, the organization must cope with zero nominal growth in funds and was allocated 75 million euros ($111 million).

OPCW Director-General Rogelio Pfirter in his Nov. 5 statement to the conference talked of consolidating the budget and informed states-parties that the OPCW had so far received only 80 percent of 2007 contributions assessed against the 182 CWC member states. Pfirter warned that “our ability to meet our core objectives in 2007, particularly in light of the fact that the 2007 program and budget was a nominal zero-growth budget, still depends on our receiving states-parties contributions in full and on time.”

National Implementation Urged

The annual conference also decided to continue to press countries to do more to implement the convention through national legislation. U.S. Ambassador Eric M. Javits in his Nov. 5 statement argued that states-parties should focus efforts to improve national implementation in those approximately 20 states “that lack effective implementing measures, but have more activities relevant to the convention within their territories.”

In the end, the conference adopted a decision “on sustaining follow-up to the plan of action” on national implementation, including measures to contact and offer implementation support to those 10 states that have not designated a national authority and the 107 states-parties that had not informed the OPCW that they had enacted the comprehensive implementing legislation required by Article VII of the convention.

Iran Proposes to Establish Victims Fund

Agreement on a report of the meeting was held up by an Iranian demand that states-parties establish a “Chemical Weapons Victim’s International Funding & Assistance Network,” a proposal first mentioned by Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki at the 2006 conference of states-parties.

An Iranian diplomat argued in a Nov. 20 interview with Arms Control Today that because victims can suffer for a long time from the consequences of a chemical weapons attack, some “emergency measures of assistance as detailed in Article X” of the CWC should not necessarily be limited in time. The diplomat explained that, under its proposal, Iran would like to see improved coordination between the OPCW and relevant nongovernmental organizations regarding victims assistance, the creation of a voluntary fund to support such measures, and the establishment of medical centers in certain regions, so that victims could receive assistance more rapidly.

Others believe that the Iranian proposal is an attempt to divert attention away from its nuclear file and focus attention on an issue where it is a victim rather than a suspect. These observers wonder why the proposal is pushed now, some 20 years after the chemical weapons attacks on Iran. (See ACT, July/August 2007. )

Late on the last day, states agreed to task the OPCW’s executive council to conduct “intensive deliberations to develop measures for emergency assistance to Member States, including with regard to the victims of chemical weapons,” and report to the next conference of states-parties in 2008. Iranian negotiators see this as the beginning of negotiations on their proposal, while others point to the fact that discussions on how to implement Article X have been going on for a long time.

Looking Toward the Review Conference

States-parties left it to the review conference, which will take place April 7-18 of next year, to sort out other contentious issues, such as how to deal with the fact that the United States and Russia are unlikely to meet their 2012 final deadlines for destroying chemical weapons stockpiles. (See ACT, May 2007 .)

The Iranian diplomat told Arms Control Today that the review conference “should send a clear message that chemical weapons possessors should adhere to destruction deadlines and that any failure to meet these deadlines would constitute serious noncompliance.” The diplomat conceded, however, that given that the 2012 deadline is still four years away, 2008 might be “too soon” to discuss possible noncompliance by Russia and the United States.

In a Nov. 6 statement, Paula DeSutter, U.S. assistant secretary of state for verification, compliance and implementation, shied away from mentioning U.S. problems in meeting destruction deadlines and instead emphasized the need to destroy chemical weapons stockpiles in a safe, secure, and irreversible manner.

Parker agreed that “we are not at this moment in difficulty” because the United States and Russia are meeting their current destruction targets. He said that the general mood in the working group is that it would be “a little bit premature to try to work out now how [noncompliance with destruction deadlines] may be handled if and when the time comes.”

Parker argued that the real questions for the viability of the CWC lie in the future. He asked, “What kind of organization does this need to become? What are the balances between the traditional destruction and verification activities and some of the other activities such as cooperation, assistance, and protection, which are important to a lot of states-parties who are not themselves directly involved in the processes related to chemical weapons destruction?” He stated that he hopes the 2008 review conference “will come out with a positive balance sheet about the past and a number of…conclusions which will help move the organization forward over the next few years.”

Click here to read a full transcript of Lyn Parker’s Nov. 20 interview.

Bush Nuclear Fuel-Cycle Program Suffers Blows

Miles A. Pomper

After a sharply critical report from a high-level independent panel and amid continued criticism from Congress, the Bush administration appears to be scaling back its ambitions for the domestic leg of its controversial Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP). Meanwhile, other international nuclear fuel supply efforts seem to be attracting more attention.

Administration officials have claimed that the initiative, which seeks to develop new nuclear technologies and new international nuclear fuel arrangements, will reduce nuclear waste and decrease the risk that an anticipated growth in the use of nuclear energy worldwide could spur nuclear proliferation. Critics on Capitol Hill and elsewhere assert that the administration’s course would exacerbate the proliferation risks posed by the spread of reprocessing technology, be prohibitively expensive, and fail to significantly ease waste disposal challenges without any certainty that the claimed technologies will ever be developed.

An Oct. 29 report from a National Research Council (NRC) panel, commissioned by the Department of Energy, sided strongly with the critics, concluding that the department should “not move forward” with GNEP, particularly efforts to develop new commercial-scale facilities for reprocessing and for burning a new type of nuclear fuel. Citing a lack of urgency and appropriate technical knowledge, the NRC panel said the department should return to an earlier course in which it conducted a “less aggressive research program.”

The panel’s judgment echoes criticism from most lawmakers on relevant committees on Capitol Hill. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees  have approved legislation that would substantially cut funds for the Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative, which underpins GNEP, and limit spending to research. (See ACT, October 2007. )

Indeed, Dennis Spurgeon, assistant secretary of energy for nuclear energy, told the Senate Energy and National Resources Committee Nov. 14 that rather than annually confront such budget battles, he would personally favor funding GNEP in the future with a portion of a fee on electricity generation that Congress has imposed on nuclear power plant operators to pay for disposing of spent fuel. He said that the U.S. government has accumulated close to $20 billion from this fee, which has yet to be spent because of continued political wrangling over a planned permanent repository for nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

The GNEP program calls for research on new reprocessing technologies that administration officials say will not yield pure separated plutonium but a mixture, including plutonium, that is less applicable to making bombs. GNEP further calls for construction of new advanced burner reactors to make use of the reprocessed fuel. The administration also claims that doing so will reduce the volume of spent nuclear fuel currently stored at nuclear reactors so that the United States will not have to build another permanent repository.

The proposal has drawn criticism, in part because facilities that reprocess spent fuel for plutonium-based fuels might also be used to harvest plutonium for nuclear bombs. By establishing such facilities, critics say, the United States might be encouraging other countries to do so as well, perhaps leading to nuclear weapons proliferation. Because of such concerns, the United States had shied away from spent fuel reprocessing for nearly three decades until GNEP was launched in 2006.

Department officials had indicated that, by the summer of 2008, Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman would decide whether to build new commercial-scale fuel facilities and “fast” reactors that could produce and burn such new fuels. By that time, four industry groups are slated to provide studies examining financial, technical, and other issues.

The NRC panel said making such a decision next year would be unnecessarily hasty. “Domestic waste management, security, and fuel supply needs are not adequate to justify early deployment of commercial-scale reprocessing and fast-reactor facilities,” the panel wrote.

In particular, the panel said it was not clear if a second waste repository would be needed. It also argued that the knowledge of appropriate technologies was not sufficient to move to commercial-scale facilities. It said the cost of the program would be far more expensive than proceeding with the current once-through nuclear fuel cycle, a conclusion backed by the Congressional Budget Office in testimony before the Senate panel.

The NRC panel also said that “qualifying” the new fuel—ensuring it could be used appropriately in the reactor—would take many years. Instead the panel advocated returning to a lower-level research program to provide more basic information before choosing any particular path forward.

In his testimony before the Senate committee, Spurgeon acknowledged that the department would not be ready to move forward with commercial deployment of any new reprocessing technologies in the near future.

After the hearing, he told reporters that he did not expect Bodman next summer to call for any immediate construction of commercial-scale facilities using existing technologies employed by France and Japan that separate pure plutonium, an approach championed by Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), the panel’s ranking member. Rather, Spurgeon said the department would be charting a “technology path” forward for research, though his remarks did not close out the possibility of using COEX, a process nearly ready for commercial deployment that extracts and precipitates uranium and plutonium (and possibly neptunium) together so that plutonium is never separated on its own.

Still, Spurgeon pointed to some progress in the program’s international dimension when Italy on Nov. 13 became the 17th country to join GNEP. Sixteen countries had signed GNEP’s statement of principles in September, although the list did not include such important nuclear energy consumers and producers as Germany and the United Kingdom. Also, it is not clear how much weight Rome’s participation carries. Italy at one time had five power reactors and two under construction; but it shut down all of its nuclear power plants after a 1987 referendum in the wake of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

GNEP received a bigger boost on Nov. 29 when Canada, the world’s largest uranium producer, joined the partnership.

Ottawa had held back from joining the partnership earlier amid political controversy over whether GNEP would require Canada to accept spent fuel from other country or  limit its ability to enrich its own fuel.

Multilateral Fuel-Cycle Alternatives

Nevertheless, countries are putting more emphasis on efforts other than GNEP to control the nuclear fuel cycle, primarily aiming at its “front end.” Such efforts seek to limit the spread of technologies such as uranium enrichment, which can produce low-enriched uranium for fresh nuclear fuel, or highly enriched uranium, which can also be used as fissile material for nuclear weapons. Concerns over uranium enrichment have been at the center of the controversy over Iran’s nuclear program (see page xx). By contrast, GNEP primarily focuses on “back end” technologies that address how to deal with spent fuel from nuclear reactors.

In September, the U.S. administration had indicated that although the program was conceived in the wake of President George W. Bush’s February 2004 call to halt the spread of enrichment or reprocessing facilities to new countries, it would not require such forbearance as a condition of GNEP membership.

“We’re not asking countries to sign a statement that they will never enrich or never reprocess,” Spurgeon elaborated in an October interview with Arms Control Today.

The administration has taken other steps to encourage participation in the partnership. For example, it has said that a multinational steering committee, not the United States, will dictate GNEP’s direction and that the partnership will operate by consensus.

Nonetheless, multinational enrichment efforts seem to be moving more rapidly in the international arena than GNEP’s focus on reprocessing.

Nikolay Spasskiy, the deputy head of Russia’s atomic energy agency, told reporters after the September GNEP meeting that the U.S. initiative was one of only several such efforts and its importance should not be overemphasized.

Russia and Kazakhstan on Sept. 5 announced that they had inaugurated the use of an enrichment facility in Angarsk, Siberia, as an international center with joint ownership. The center is eventually envisaged as a multinational operation that will produce low-enriched uranium fuel under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitoring.

Armenia took a step toward that goal Nov. 29, announcing that it would participate in the center. Moerover, Spasskiy told Platts Nuclear Fuel in September that he expected Ukraine to join the venture before the end of the year and that Mongolia and South Korea are closely studying participation. Spasskiy’s boss, Sergey Kiriyenko, told Russian reporters in October that Australia and Japan also have indicated interest in participation, although Kiriyenko said that Japan has insisted that the facility first be placed under IAEA safeguards. Kiriyenko said an agreement with the agency could be in place by the middle of 2008.

South Africa is another potential candidate for an enrichment center. In September, South Africa declined to participate in GNEP, dealing a serious blow to U.S. ambitions for the program. Spurgeon claims that South Africa may still participate, saying its representatives “had a lot of questions” and a “misunderstanding” about GNEP’s requirements, particularly whether South Africa would have to forgo enrichment or reprocessing.

But Tseliso Maqubela, chief director for nuclear energy at the South African Department of Minerals and Energy, told Platts NuclearFuel in September that South Africa wished to set up a centrifuge enrichment facility on its territory in which it could utilize the shared technology of foreign partners and that if South Africa was unable to do so, it would develop the technology domestically. Major international enrichment companies have generally balked at providing foreign countries with access to the proliferation-sensitive technology.

In a Sept. 24 Platts NuclearFuel interview, French Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Alain Bugat said that France would open a new centrifuge enrichment plant under construction to “international partnerships” and would provide details within a few months. The French enrichment company Eurodif has involved Belgium, Italy, and Spain (and formerly Iran) as international partners in its gaseous diffusion plant at Tricastin.

How Does It Stack Up? The Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention at 10

Peter Herby and Eve La Haye

The Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, most often referred to as the Ottawa Convention,[1] is built on a few simple ideas: civilians should not be killed or maimed by weapons that strike blindly and senselessly, either during or after conflicts; wars should end when the fighting stops; and postconflict communities should be free to rebuild without risking lives and livelihoods to do so.

Article 1 of the convention translated these ideas into a clear undertaking by states “never under any circumstances to use anti-personnel mines.”[2] This was the first time in history that some states agreed to ban completely a weapon in widespread use by most of the world’s armed forces.

Ten years after its signature in Ottawa by 124 states, the Mine Ban Convention has been one of the most successful multilateral arms treaties of recent times. With 156 states-parties, it has become the principal international norm on anti-personnel mines. It has helped ensure and sustain a decade of investment at high levels in mine clearance and victim assistance. In specific mine-affected countries where it has been fully implemented, the numbers of new mine victims have dropped by two-thirds or more. The convention has also contributed to the emergence of a broader norm reflected in a new protocol on explosive remnants of war[3] and in current efforts to address the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions, that states are expected to do all within their power to avoid the use of weapons that keep on killing and to take responsibility for their explosive remnants of war.

An Epidemic of Death and Suffering

In the early 1990s, doctors and nurses of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) began to reflect on data about deaths and injuries caused by anti-personnel mines and found that, in medical terms, these small weapons were creating an epidemic of exceptionally severe injury, death, and suffering among civilians in most armed conflicts. By definition, epidemics cannot be stopped by simply treating the victims but must be ended at their source. The Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention aims to do just that, “to end for all people and for all time the suffering caused by anti-personnel mines.”[4]

The convention sets ambitious targets: states-parties may not use, develop, produce, stockpile, transfer, or acquire anti-personnel mines.[5] They have four years to destroy all stockpiled anti-personnel mines and 10 years to ensure the destruction of all anti-personnel mines in mined areas under their jurisdiction or control. In a unique development for an international treaty on weapons, the convention contains not only prohibitions or regulations of certain weapons. It also contains positive commitments to international cooperation in mine clearance and in providing for the care, rehabilitation, and social and economic reintegration of mine victims.

In agreeing in 1997 to completely prohibit anti-personnel mines, signatories concluded that the regulation of these weapons in Amended Protocol II of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), adopted just 19 months earlier, was an inadequate response to the growing scourge of anti-personnel mines. The protocol sought to prevent casualties by requiring some, but not all, anti-personnel mines to contain self-destruct or self-deactivation features[6] so that their effects would not persist after the military need for them ended. Yet, its rules on use were considered too complex and too dependent on the acquisition of new technologies to have a reasonable chance of being implemented in most conflicts in the developing world where landmine casualties were most widespread. The choice between a mine costing eight dollars that would function for 30 days and a much less expensive one that would last for decades was considered a predictable one for most poor armies and insurgent groups.

What Have States-Parties to the Mine Ban Convention Achieved?

The convention was opened for signature on December 3, 1997, and following the ratification of 40 states entered into force barely 15 months later, on March 1, 1999, a record time for a multilateral instrument governing weapons. As of November 30, 2007, the convention counts 156 states-parties, including all Western Hemisphere states, except the United States and Cuba; nearly all African states, except Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Somalia; and the vast majority of west and central European states, except Poland and Finland.[7] This is a truly outstanding achievement in such a short period of time and compares favorably to the 88 states that are party to Amended Protocol II of the CCW.

Thirty-nine states have chosen not to join the Mine Ban Convention, including some major possessors and producers, such as China, India, Myanmar, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States. These states have supported the convention’s objectives and the goal of the “eventual elimination of anti-personnel mines.”[8] Yet, as long as states remain outside of the convention and continue to produce new anti-personnel mines, to retain large stockpiles, and to reserve the right to use them, these mines will remain a persistent humanitarian problem. When states anywhere in the world remain outside of the anti-personnel mine ban norm, their absence can be used by others, whether they be states or insurgent groups, to justify the continued use of anti-personnel mines.

In spite of a lack of universal adherence, the convention has succeeded in dramatically decreasing worldwide use, production, and transfer of anti-personnel mines, even among states not party to it. This is evidence that, beyond the legal norm contained in the convention, the use of anti-personnel mines has been stigmatized. According to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which publishes the authoritative Landmines Monitor Report, only Myanmar and Russia are confirmed to have planted new anti-personnel mines in 2006-2007.[9] Notably, the United States has reportedly not used anti-personnel mines in the past three major conflicts in which it has been involved: Kosovo (1999), Afghanistan (2002), and Iraq (2003).

There has also been a significant decrease in the global production of anti-personnel mines, with only 13 states not party to the Mine Ban Convention known to be still producing mines, albeit on a limited scale.[10] At least 38 countries have ceased production of anti-personnel mines, including four states not party to the Mine Ban Convention.[11] The international trade in these weapons has virtually ceased, with a significant number of non-states-parties having export moratoria in place, including China, India, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States.[12] In effect, a de facto global ban on the export of anti-personnel mines is in force.

Undoubtedly, the most important achievement of the convention is that it has produced a significant reduction in the number of new landmine victims in countries where it is being fully implemented, contributing to a global reduction in new victims. Indeed, in countries where adequate data has been available and the convention is implemented, including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, and Croatia, the ICRC has noted a two-thirds decrease in the number of new victims as compared to levels in the early and mid-1990s. Although it is difficult to attribute this result to any one factor, the cessation of active hostilities in these countries and the implementation of the Mine Ban Convention’s comprehensive program of mine risk education, clearance, and stockpile destruction have all played a role. While the Landmines Monitor Report  estimates that there are still between 15,000 and 20,000 new victims every year, that is down from an average of 26,000 per year in the 1990s.[13]

Overall, even if the anti-personnel mine ban norm does not today constitute a rule of customary international law,[14] binding on all states, the widespread ratification of the convention in such a short time frame contributes to the crystallization of such a norm and has firmly established the belief among states that they must do all within their power to avoid the use of weapons that continue to kill indiscriminately during and after the end of hostilities.

Destruction of Stockpiled Anti-Personnel Mines

The convention gives each state-party four years to destroy its stockpile of anti-personnel mines under their jurisdiction or control. In the last 10 years, states-parties have destroyed more than 41.8 million anti-personnel mines. 10 states still need to fulfill their obligation to destroy stockpiles totalling 15 million mines before the end of their respective deadlines.[15] Virtually all states have done so within their four-year deadline.

The convention faces specific challenges in ensuring that Belarus and Ukraine, which together possess almost 10 million anti-personnel mines, meet their respective destruction deadlines in 2008 and 2010. Their PFM-1 mines contain highly toxic chemical agents and must be destroyed in a manner that does not contaminate air or water sources. In 2004, states undertook during the convention’s first review conference “to support the investigation and further development of technical solutions to overcome the particular challenges associated with destroying PFM mines.”[16] States-parties and the main donors have not yet risen to this challenge, as Belarus has indicated that it is unlikely to meet its deadline by March 2008. The possible failure of one country or the other to destroy these stocks within the convention’s deadlines could become an important compliance issue to be addressed by all states-parties.[17]

Clearance of Mined Areas

Each state-party has 10 years after the convention enters into force to clear all known mined areas under its jurisdiction or control. Vast tracts of mined areas have been cleared and given back to local communities since the convention entered into force.[18] With a total of 740 square kilometers de-mined, 2005 recorded the highest annual de-mining productivity since modern de-mining started in the late 1980s. In 2006, more than 450 square kilometers of contaminated land was cleared.[19]

One of the main challenges currently facing states-parties is to manage clearance deadlines, which begin to fall in 2009 and will continue in the following years. The treaty permits a state-party that cannot complete clearance within its 10-year deadline to request an extension from the Meeting of States-Parties. This provision was intended not as an escape clause but as recognition that some states, despite their best efforts, are so highly contaminated that they would require more time. As compared to a rigid deadline or an open-ended obligation it was also meant to serve as a means to ensure that progress of each affected state is examined at a specific point.

Approximately 50 states-parties have reported mined areas and more than one-half of the 26 states that have deadlines falling in 2009 and 2010 have indicated that they will ask for an extension or will probably need to do so. They range from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Mozambique, which are among the most mine-contaminated countries in the world, to Senegal and Venezuela, which have mines only in limited areas. Some have not yet completed comprehensive surveys or established national mine action plans, while others have a problem of a limited scale but did not give adequate priority to mine clearance during the past seven or eight years.

In 2006, states-parties led by Australia responded to this emerging situation by adopting a clear process for requesting an extension and for deciding on future extension requests. This includes the submission of a wide range of information on past actions and future plans that should facilitate consideration of the request by other states and an eventual decision, with comment if needed, at a Meeting of States-Parties.[20]

Extensions are not automatic and should be for the minimum period to implement a well-prepared and adequately funded clearance operation. It is important that extension requests be managed in a way that maintains the credibility of the treaty and creates maximum pressure for completion before the deadline or within a realistic and well-planned extension period.

Victim Assistance

The Mine Ban Convention is not only a set of prohibitions but a comprehensive program of action to end the scourge of anti-personnel mines through preventive mine action and clearance and assistance to victims. It also requires states-parties “in a position to do so” to cooperate and assist each other in the implementation of treaty commitments, with affected states having the express right to seek and receive assistance from other states-parties.

Twenty-four states with a significant number of landmine victims have been urged to establish their own specific national objectives and plans of action that will lead to tangible improvements in the services available to mine victims and survivors and other persons with disabilities. Other states-parties have provided considerable assistance directly, through international agencies and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). With the Implementation Support Unit,[21] they have assisted these affected states in the development and implementation of victim assistance objectives that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Assessing the achievements of states-parties in terms of victim assistance is far more difficult than measuring the implementation of stockpile destruction or clearance commitments and has at best been possible only in specific countries or local settings. In the view of the ICRC, which is present in most mine-affected countries, some improvement in access to and quality of care has been achieved, but far more priority needs to be given to these commitments by affected states and donor states-parties.


Success in meeting most of these challenges is intrinsically linked to the mobilization of sufficient financial resources. Although “mainstreaming” of mine action into existing humanitarian and development budgets and programs has been increasingly promoted and is a worthy approach, it must result in real increases in funding commensurate with mine clearance and victim assistance needs. Annual funding by Mine Ban Convention states and others for mine action worldwide, estimated at some $376 million in 2005,[22] is a modest sum when compared to the scale of the problem and to the socioeconomic damage caused by landmines. In 2006, funding for mine action increased to a record level of $475 million. But this increase was probably in response to the humanitarian crises in Lebanon and Iraq. The biggest contributors last year were the United States ($94.5 million) and the European Commission ($87.3 million).[23] Without a significant and sustained increase in human, technical, and financial resources from all states-parties, many mine-affected states-parties are unlikely to meet their deadlines, and in many contexts, the suffering of mine victims and survivors will not be alleviated. The delay in clearance is likely to be measured in lost limbs, lives, and livelihoods.

Implementation Mechanisms

In the 10 years since the convention’s adoption, a spirit of cooperation and assistance has developed among states-parties and among states, international agencies, and specialized NGOs to ensure that the convention has the desired humanitarian effects on the ground. Mechanisms for this cooperation have also evolved since the first Meeting of States-Parties in 1999 in Maputo, Mozambique.

The mechanisms established to date include annual meetings of states-parties to review progress and agree on how to address upcoming challenges; “intersessional” meetings each year of standing committees on clearance and mine risk education, victim assistance, and stockpile destruction and the general status and operation of the convention; and an Implementation Support Unit charged with synthesizing all information available on the status of implementation, supporting the states chairing these committees and annual meetings, and ensuring continuity. These mechanisms, as well as the annual Landmine Monitor Reports, have provided the basis for a constant appraisal of country situations. They have nourished contacts among affected states, donors, and clearance and victim assistance organizations. They have helped ensure that states remain engaged politically with their convention obligations and are regularly reminded of upcoming deadlines and implementation challenges.


The Mine Ban Convention’s continuing challenges in no way diminish the fact that it is, without a doubt, one of the great success stories in the humanitarian field in recent years. The convention has demonstrated the pertinence of central rules of international humanitarian law protecting civilians from the effects of armed conflict and their widespread public support. The development of the convention and the 10 years of its implementation have also provided a model for cooperative engagement among states, international agencies, civil society organizations, and specialist NGOs in achieving results that none could have achieved alone. This experience can undoubtedly provide insights for addressing other global humanitarian problems.

Since the Mine Ban Convention was opened for signature 10 years ago, there has been remarkable international progress in developing new international norms based on the same premise that civilians should not suffer from weapons that continue killing and maiming after hostilities have ended. A Protocol on Explosive Remnants of War was added to the CCW in 2003. After a conflict ends, it requires parties to armed conflicts to provide information rapidly on all munitions their forces have used in order to facilitate clearance. It also requires them either to clear the areas they control or to provide assistance to those that do.

Current international efforts to develop a new international instrument that will prevent the recurring postconflict casualties caused by unexploded cluster munitions have the same moral and humanitarian basis. The common thread in these developments is the expectation that civilians should not face the same fate from other munitions as they have from anti-personnel mines. Indeed, it could be argued that the unique movement that created the mine ban treaty norm is on the way to establishing an even more fundamental norm of public conscience that is not weapon-specific. Simply stated, this norm is that civilians must not be victimized, after the fighting stops and long after wars have ended, by weapons that have ceased to serve any military purpose.

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines has labeled the Mine Ban Convention “a success in progress.” What has been achieved is largely due to the fact that it is far more than a legal instrument. It is a living process that has brought out the best in those who have joined in its mission. The convention has grown from an impossible dream to a shared commitment of 156 states and to a humanitarian program of action mobilizing thousands of people around the world. This achievement reflects the extraordinary personal commitment that the convention has evoked among people in government, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, UN agencies, mine action organizations, victim assistance projects, and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Ensuring that the promise of this unique convention is fully realized will depend on maintaining this spirit of commitment and cooperation well into the future.


Peter Herby is head of the Arms Unit at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva. Eve La Haye is a legal adviser in the Arms Unit of the Legal Division at the ICRC. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the ICRC.


1. Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, September 18, 1997.

2. Article 1 of the convention also obliges states-parties never to develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile, retain, or transfer to anyone anti-personnel mines directly or indirectly, as well as never to assist, encourage, or induce in any way anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a state-party to the convention.

3. Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War, November 28, 2003, to the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

4. Introduction of the Nairobi Action Plan, adopted by states-parties during the first review conference in 2004.

5. An anti-personnel mine is defined in the convention as a mine designed to be exploded by the presence, proximity, or contact of a person and that will incapacitate, injure, or kill one or more persons. “Directional fragmentation devices” such as Claymore “mines” are prohibited by the convention if they are victim activated (e.g., by a tripwire). If they are “command detonated” by the action of a soldier, they are not covered by the convention.

6. Mines with such features have also been referred to as “smart” or “non-persistent” landmines.

7. Participation of Asian and Middle Eastern states is relatively low but nonetheless includes Australia, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Thailand, as well as Algeria, Kuwait, Iraq, Qatar, Tunisia, and Yemen for example.

8. This objective has been endorsed in repeated UN General Assembly resolutions, such as UN General Assembly Resolution 61/84 of December 6, 2006, and was adopted by consensus by all states-parties to the Geneva Conventions at the 28th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 2003. See Final Goal 2.1 and Action 2.1.2 of the Agenda for Humanitarian Action.

9. International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), Landmines Monitor Report 2007, Towards a Mine-Free World, p. 1. Other uses for anti-personnel mines were reported by armed nonstate actors in Myanmar and Colombia, for example.

10. The producers of anti-personnel mines are: China, Cuba, India, Iran, Myanmar, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, the United States, and Vietnam, Landmine Monitor Report 2007, p. 11

11. These four countries are Egypt, Finland, Israel and Poland; see ICBL, Landmine Monitor Report 2006, p.10.

12. ICBL, Landmine Monitor Report 2007, pp. 11-13.

13. ICBL, Landmines Monitor Report 2002; ICBL, Landmines Monitor Report 2006, p. 44.

14. A recent ICRC study on customary international law concluded that precautions to protect civilians, including marking, fencing, and clearance, amount to a rule of customary international law binding on all states. See J. M. Henckaerts and L. Doswald-Beck, eds., Customary International Humanitarian Law, Vol. I (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), pp. 280-286 (rules 81 to 83).

15. Kuwait, Iraq, and Palau are the last three states to ratify the convention, in July, August, and November 2007, respectively. The extent of their stockpiles is for the moment unknown.

16. Action point number 14 of Nairobi Action Plan.

17. Another challenge in the field of stockpile destruction is when states discover the existence of new stockpiles after their deadlines, as can occur for countries such as Angola and Afghanistan, coping with difficult conflicts or postconflict situations. States have agreed that any newly discovered stockpiles must be reported and destroyed as soon as possible. See Action point number 15 of the Nairobi Action Plan.

18. The clearance obligation covers areas in which mines are known or suspected to be present. There is no general requirement for a state to search every square meter of its territory to find mines or to certify that it is “mine free” in the absolute sense. As with stockpiles, if a state discovers after declaring completion of mine clearance that there are additional mined areas, it is obliged to report, establish perimeter markings for, and clear those areas.

19. ICBL, Landmine Monitor Report 2007, pp. 1, 21-39.

20. “Final Report of the Seventh Meeting of States Parties of 2006,” UNDoc. APLC/MSP.7/2006/5.

21. The unit itself is part of the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining and is supported by voluntary financial contributions of states-parties.

22. ICBL, Landmine Monitor Report 2006, p. 61.

23. ICBL, Landmine Monitor Report 2007, pp. 1-2, 62. One might notice that the largest contribution came from the European Commission, combined with national funding by EU member states for a total of $240.3 million.

Cluster Munitions Negotiations Launched

Wade Boese

Despite a process already underway to restrict cluster munitions, a group of states recently agreed to another set of negotiations on those weapons systems. The new talks will commence in January and involve countries, such as Russia and the United States, that defend the military utility of cluster munitions and abstain from the pre-existing process.

Concluding a seven-day meeting in Geneva, states-parties to the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) announced Nov. 13 that they had reached the necessary consensus to initiate negotiations on cluster munitions, which are bombs, rockets, and artillery shells that disperse smaller submunitions over broad areas. Those grenades or bomblets, sometimes numbering as many as 600 for a single munition, can fail to detonate immediately yet maim or kill if disturbed later.

The states-parties to the CCW, which regulates weapons judged to be indiscriminate or inhumane, declared their new negotiating goal to be a “proposal to address urgently the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions, while striking a balance between military and humanitarian considerations.” They scheduled four rounds of negotiations next year, the first of which runs Jan. 14-18, and called for a progress report next November. All 103 CCW states-parties can send experts to the negotiations.

In a Nov. 13 statement to the Geneva meeting, the head of the U.S. delegation, Ronald Bettauer, said the negotiations would be “challenging,” citing “significant differences” among states-parties. Indeed, CCW members agreed to negotiate a “proposal” instead of an instrument or treaty because the former term was considered more neutral and acceptable to countries, such as China and Russia, that still question the value of holding talks.

China, for example, reiterated its position that adherence to a 2003 CCW protocol on explosive remnants of war would “play an important role in effectively resolving problems concerning cluster munitions.” That existing protocol obligates governments to cordon off and clear areas of unexploded ordnance after conflicts end. (See ACT, January/February 2004. )

Until last June, the United States also had staunchly opposed CCW negotiations on cluster munitions. At that time, Bettauer attributed Washington’s reversal to “the importance of this issue, concerns raised by other countries, and our own concerns about the humanitarian implications of these weapons.” Still, he cautioned that the United States had no preferred outcome for any negotiation except that it help protect civilians from cluster munitions while permitting militaries to use the weapons. (See ACT, July/August 2007. )

The U.S. turnabout, however, followed the February startup of a Norwegian-led effort outside the CCW to negotiate a treaty to ban cluster munitions “that cause unacceptable harm to civilians.” (See ACT, April 2007. ) Known as the Oslo Process, the effort initially attracted some 40 countries, including France and the United Kingdom. Since then, the number of participants has almost doubled. Some CCW members are participants in both processes.

Norway, itself a CCW state-party, launched the Oslo Process after convention members in November 2006 failed again after several years of attempts to approve cluster munitions negotiations. Frustrated by what they deride as the slothful approach of the CCW, Norway and many other Oslo participants aim to conclude a treaty in 2008. Their next meeting is Dec. 4-7 in Vienna.

The United States last year criticized Norway for its initiative and stayed on the attack this year. In his Nov. 13 statement, Bettauer argued that “the CCW is the only framework that brings together the users and producers” and therefore is able to achieve “meaningful” results.

But nongovernmental supporters of the Oslo Process see the combination of a vague CCW mandate and participation of countries averse to negotiating legally-binding constraints as a recipe for failure. Thomas Nash, coordinator of the Cluster Munition Coalition, stated Nov. 13 that the CCW decision “is a road to nowhere.” The coalition consists of roughly 200 organizations that support action to prevent civilian cluster munitions casualties.

Although some independent experts charge that the major powers’ change of heart on CCW negotiations appears suspiciously timed to steal momentum away from the Oslo Process, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has sought to downplay competition between the two, encouraging both. Still, Ban has prodded CCW states-parties, calling on them in a Nov. 7 statement to “address the horrendous humanitarian, human rights and developmental effects of cluster munitions by concluding a legally binding instrument.”

Ban also urged countries to adopt national restraints on cluster munitions. At the Geneva meeting, Bulgaria and Croatia proclaimed their intent to join a growing number of states that have enacted domestic limits.

Meanwhile, the United States urged CCW members to pledge themselves to another voluntary commitment. For several years, the United States had teamed with 30 other governments to promote adoption of a new CCW protocol to restrict deployments of anti-vehicle mines that are undetectable or lack self-destruct or self-deactivation measures. After Belarus, China, Cuba, Pakistan, and Russia refused to drop their opposition to such rules, the United States last year made them part of a nonbinding declaration to which other governments could subscribe. (See ACT, December 2006. )

Speaking Nov. 7, Bettauer said the United States remained ready to negotiate an anti-vehicle mine protocol but that Washington was not interested in a “fruitless repetition of many prior discussions.” Stating that he was under the impression that positions had not changed, Bettauer encouraged other governments to sign up to the U.S.-sponsored declaration, which has been endorsed by two dozen other states.

Bettauer volunteered that the Bush administration, for its part, would work in the coming year to ratify four CCW measures that the United States has yet to bring into force. Those include the explosive remnants of war protocol, two separate protocols restricting the use of incendiary weapons and blinding lasers, and an amendment to apply the convention beyond interstate conflicts to intrastate fighting. Bettauer said the administration is supporting “expeditious Senate action on these treaties.”

Letter to the Editor: Detecting Clandestine Enrichment

James Acton

Trevor Findlay (“Looking back: The Additional Protocol,” Nov. 2007)  focused on the difficulties of verifying large bulk-handling facilities in his survey of future challenges. In reality, however, it is still the detection of clandestine nuclear activities that is the toughest challenge facing the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)—exactly the problem that prompted a reworking of the safeguards regime in the 1990s. While the main product of that rethink, the 1997 Model Additional Protocol, has considerably enhanced the IAEA’s ability to detect certain clandestine activities, it has done much less to increase the IAEA’s prospects for detecting small gas centrifuge enrichment plants (GCEPs). Indeed, although David Albright and Jacqueline Shire (“A Witches’ Brew? Evaluating Iran’s Uranium-Enrichment Progress,” Nov. 2007) are absolutely right to highlight the importance of Iran restoring implementation of its version of the additional protocol, it is also surely true that this step alone would be insufficient to rebuild international confidence that Iran is not  carrying out undeclared centrifuge activity.

Given the putative nuclear renaissance and the economic attractiveness of the gas centrifuge as an enrichment technology, there is a danger that clandestine GCEPs could become de rigeur for proliferation. The most effective way to reduce this threat is to prevent the spread of gas centrifuge technology (and hence the knowledge of how to build and operate clandestine plants). Indeed, proposals that offer a guaranteed supply of nuclear fuel to states that voluntarily agree not to exercise their right to enrich could help accomplish this. Whether such fuel guarantees will be widely adopted, however, remains unclear.

In parallel, efforts also need to be made to enhance the IAEA’s ability to detect clandestine GCEPs. This is an extremely tough problem since environmental emissions from centrifuge plants are very small and hence wide area environmental monitoring (as envisaged by the additional protocol and discussed by Findlay) is not an realistic option for detecting them.

One approach to detecting clandestine GCEPs is to pay greater attention to the production of centrifuges and their components. As Albright and Shire point out, the manufacture of centrifuges is a complicated, demanding and expensive process; there are likely to be interconnections between a declared centrifuge manufacturing program and a clandestine one. Giving the IAEA greater legal rights to inspect facilities and talk to personnel involved in the manufacture of centrifuges may help it uncover such links. At the very least, permitting the IAEA to tag key centrifuge components would prevent a state from using a declared facility for the production of centrifuges for an undeclared programme.

The IAEA could also be given greater powers to monitor non-nuclear materials that are relevant to enrichment—such as fluorine gas. It would, of course, be utterly impractical to attempt any kind of materials accountancy on fluorine, but given that 70—80% of fluorine is used in the synthesis of uranium hexafluoride for enrichment,[1] declarations by member states on its production and use could potentially be useful for safeguards purposes. For instance, the discovery of undeclared fluorine manufacture (by open source analysis or even, conceivably, environmental monitoring) would be an indicator of clandestine nuclear activity. Fluorine is not the only non-nuclear material relevant to enrichment (maraging steel is another). Monitoring a few key non-nuclear materials could make a useful contribution to the safeguards system.

Finally, there is a need for national intelligence services to be more willing to share information with the IAEA (under article VIII.A of its statute the IAEA is entitled to receive and utilise such information). Indeed, the IAEA is in a unique position to compare intelligence data (ideally from a range of sources) with state declarations and information from its own inspectors. The results from such an analysis can be very useful in helping to guide a search for clandestine nuclear activities. National intelligence data is already used in this way to some extent, but by being more willing to share it, national governments could significantly enhance the IAEA’s ability to detect clandestine nuclear activity.

Unfortunately, the prospects for any improvements in the safeguards regime are bleak right now. As demonstrated by the debacle of “Committee 25” (which was tasked with finding ways of strengthening the safeguards system that would not require any new legal authority for the IAEA), few states have any appetite for more intrusive or effective verification. Ultimately, Findlay may well be right: a “punctuation”—quite possibly a proliferation shock—may be required to generate the international consensus required for reform. It would, however, clearly be desirable if the nonproliferation regime could be strengthened before further proliferation occurs.

The 2010 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference provides an opportunity to re-evaluate the regime. Success in strengthening the non-proliferation component of the regime (both in 2010 and beyond) will depend upon the burden of increased verification being sweetened by parallel concessions elsewhere. All states need to consider what form such concessions should take—but a particular responsibility must lie with the nuclear-weapon states and their willingness to make greater steps toward disarmament.


James Acton is a lecturer at the Centre for Science and Security Studies’ Department of War Studies at King’s College London. His previous research projects have included an analysis of IAEA safegaurds in Iran and a study on the detection of clandestine weaponization activities.



1. N. N. Greenwood and A. Earnshaw, “Chemistry of the Elements”, second edition, (Amsterdam: Butterworth-Heinemann, 1997), p. 797.

Arms Control Today welcomes letters from our readers. Letters should be under 600 words and should include the writer's full name, address and daytime phone number. Please put "LETTER TO THE EDITOR" in the subject line of the E-mail. Letters may be edited for space. E-mail to the Editor.

A Somber Trip Down Memory Lane

Arsenals of Folly: The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race. By Richard Rhodes,
Alfred A. Knopf, October 2007, 400 pp.

John Newhouse

Richard Rhodes has written an altogether fitting sequel to his two exceptional books on the early history of the nuclear age, books that occupy a niche of their own in the literature. Although Rhodes is not breaking a lot of new ground in Arsenals of Folly, he does impart some new information and some useful insights. His various judgments are argued with the same force and clarity as they were in the earlier books The Making of the Atomic Bomb and Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb.

With this book, Rhodes takes the reader on an altogether somber trip down memory lane. His review of Washington’s pathetic efforts to moderate the nuclear arms race through the medium of arms control agreements reminds us of equally pathetic U.S. efforts to inject stability in the Middle East and western Asia. Rhodes is focusing mainly on the episodic period stretching from the Ford administration through the presidency of Jimmy Carter and the eight years of President Ronald Reagan.

It was a time when there appeared large opportunities to restrain the growth of nuclear arms and lower superpower tensions, but it was also a time during which the arms control process rarely got serious. Rhodes describes the process as going around in circles as each side tried to portray the other as stronger and more menacing. In describing a mindless competition, Rhodes calls part of his book “Apes on a Treadmill,” the metaphor famously used by Paul Warnke, a pre-eminent arms control negotiator and advocate. Rhodes then tells how the muddled superpowers “inadvertently blundered close to nuclear war in November 1983.” He adds, “The Soviet Side may or may not have believed a NATO attack was imminent at that time…and U.S. intelligence had failed to grasp the true extent of their anxiety.”

Arms control is not a function that comes naturally to bureaucracies. Political leaders and other opinion molders can easily agree on the need to curb the competition in destructive weapons. The process, however, periodically requires an agreement or deal if it is to be sustainable. A deal means something for both sides, and it is when the deal is about to be closed that the unnatural quality looms larger and deep doubts surface. Bureaucratic skeptics are prone to question why if, as advocates insist, a deal is a good one for our side, the other side is so keen to close. Most senior officials had a difficult time with that question.

Opportunities to take sensible steps in the last 15 years of the Cold War were edged aside largely by the interplay of bureaucratic politics in Washington. In the mid-1970s, the concept of détente fell from fashion, with the word formally expunged from the Ford administration’s official vocabulary. Two of Rhodes’s chapters are aptly titled “The Sorcerers Apprentices.” He identifies a sizable group, many of whose names still resonate, including Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle, and Paul Wolfowitz. Some of them operated within the government, some outside, and some were in-and-outers. Individually, most of these people were resourceful, messianic, and irrational. They were people who saw and still see lots of trees, but never the woods. (Years later, they became the shrillest advocates of invading Iraq.)

Rhodes describes in detail how this faction comprised many of the same people who succeeded in aligning Reagan with long-standing pet projects, notably ballistic missile defense, even though the debate on strategic defense had seemed to end in 1972 with the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.

Among other misdeeds, they also succeeded in corrupting the CIA’s leadership so that institutionally it acquired a tendency to follow the election returns when passing judgment on divergent estimates of the threat posed by Soviet strategic weapons. Estimates were bent, and the threat inflated (sound familiar?). Although the strategic forces of the two sides were always highly dissimilar, the estimates tended to compare them glibly. The forces reflected the widely different technological attainments of the two countries as well as their different geographical positions, which obviously mattered in strategic terms. The land is the natural strategic environment for Russia, while the United States can comfortably deploy strategic weapons on land and sea. Each side’s forces developed advantages that tended to be offset by the forces of the other. Hence, a rough parity, or equivalence, between the two aggregations of force emerged.

An epic and altogether useful figure appeared during this period: Mikhail Gorbachev. In two of his first three chapters, Rhodes traces first Gorbachev’s early and formative years, then his political career and campaign as a Soviet leader trying to halt the nuclear arms race. He quotes Gorbachev’s message to the 27th Party Congress: “The task of insuring security is more and more taking the form of a political task and can be resolved only by political means.” Although assorted personalities drift in and out of the story, Gorbachev emerges as not just the dominant figure but the one who tried hardest to create opportunities and then to exploit them. He struggled to move the arms control process forward against the resistance of two bureaucracies, his own and that of the United States.

What he wanted, first and foremost, was an agreement with Reagan, partly because he was the only president available to deal with and partly because Reagan was very secure politically. An agreement with him was unlikely to encounter the political squalls that had victimized the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks II (SALT II) under Carter.

Reagan thought of himself as the custodian of the peace and as a bulwark against the worst case. The problem, as he saw it, was linear and uncomplicated: the forces of good were arrayed against the forces of evil. He delegated control of East-West issues to the secretary of state, George Shultz, and the secretary of defense, Caspar Weinberger. They agreed on almost nothing. Shultz was a moderate, Weinberger a hard-liner. They in turn delegated operational responsibilities for many security issues to sub-cabinet-level people, who became the key figures in the arms control saga that covered most of the Reagan era. The battles became even fiercer than those of the Nixon-Ford era, but only rarely were they joined at the senior level, as they had been in the past. The by-product of the Shultz-Weinberger duel, internal gridlock, lasted five and a half years. During this time, Reagan rarely left the sidelines. His four predecessors had each favored the SALT process, assuming that the United States and the USSR had entered an era of nuclear parity. They all had internal divisions of opinion on SALT issues, but not on the desirability of the process. Reagan and most of his people, however, saw or professed to see unacceptable disparity. In their time, the Joint Chiefs of Staff represented the only agency in town that was unambiguously sympathetic to the arms control process.

Reagan nonetheless threw everyone wholly off course when he shifted his focus from offensive missiles to a space-based defense against them. What he and a tiny handful of like-minded people who had his ear had in mind was an astrodome: inbound missiles would be destroyed by lasers, particle beams, and other directed-energy weapons deployed in space. Nuclear weapons, said Reagan in March 1983, would be made “impotent and obsolete.” “Wouldn’t it be better to save lives than to avenge them?” he asked. “Star Wars” became the popular name for the program that followed; the bureaucracy called it SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative). This singular proposition would in various ways agitate the balance of Reagan’s presidency.

Rhodes notes that Reagan claimed SDI as his own idea, adding that there had never been a weapon without a defense. He was apparently talking about spears and shields. Rhodes also notes that the proposal had taken most of his closest advisers by surprise, not least, as he tells the story, because of Reagan’s offer to share the technology with Moscow. He seems to have felt that if the shield could be produced, the two sides should sit down and get rid of nuclear weapons.

All or most of the Pentagon saw SDI as a serious diversion of resources. Some months after Reagan launched it, people such as Weinberger and Perle could see its potential for sidetracking arms control.

Major European capitals—London, Paris, and Bonn—were appalled. All Europeans wanted the ABM Treaty kept intact. They and most orthodox U.S. thinkers on the subject were sure that any sizable defensive system would have the perverse effect of creating an enormous spiral in offensive nuclear arms, a situation in which there would be far less stability and less security for all. Washington was imposing a whole new strategy on them without warning, let alone consultation. The guarantor of Europe’s security, it seemed, had opted for shielded insularity.

In Moscow, SDI was seen as the devil’s own mischief, partly because it would bury the ABM Treaty, by then a Russian icon. Equally pernicious would be the effort needed to deny the United States a unilateral advantage. The Soviets may have felt as if they were condemned to an endless and exhausting game of catch-up with a power that held higher cards. Both sides had been working for many years on directed-energy weapons. Neither was then investing large sums in them because throwing money at this forbidding array of technologies seemed futile. In any case, the Soviets, like U.S. allies, were comfortable with the status quo, nuclear deterrence. With SDI, Reagan was not planning to extend the arms race into outer space; but the Soviets assumed, not unreasonably, that he would do just that.

The Soviet side, along with the Shultz faction in Washington, wanted another summit meeting. The first one, in November 1985, had been a let’s-get-acquainted meeting during which the two leaders had five hours of conversation and agreed that nuclear war could not be won and should never be fought. The second summit was held in December 1987, after being preceded by an improbable tête-à-tête in Reykjavik where Reagan and Gorbachev, after nearly agreeing to abolish nuclear weapons altogether, changed course abruptly when Gorbachev tied the deal to acceptance of a ban on SDI to include research and testing.

At bottom, Reagan and Gorbachev both strongly favored abolition. They diverged on how to get there. The way to eliminate weapons, Reagan believed, was to create a defensive shield. It was, says Rhodes, “a hubristic dream, a hope, a fantasy that American technological ingenuity could finesse a dangerous dilemma without resort to negotiation or compromise.”

During the initial summit meeting in Geneva, Gorbachev cited the need to meet each other halfway so as to reduce parity to lower levels. He then, Rhodes writes, “marshaled every argument he had” against SDI, arguing that it could lead to an arms race on earth and in space. He reminded the president that their foreign ministers had agreed in January 1985 that there should be no arms race in space. It was a dialogue of the deaf.

Throughout most of the 1970s and the 1980s, most of Washington’s analysis, as well as its rhetoric, would airbrush the harsh realities of what was happening within the Soviet Union, ignore its demographic and economic crises, and grossly misrepresent Soviet strategic power.

Rarely in this dreary period were nuclear issues exposed to the same degree of public scrutiny as other issues. If they had been, topics such as protracted nuclear war or limited nuclear war would have been lost in ridicule. Also, decisions in that era too often involved too few people, many of them narrowly focused specialists—brothers of the nuclear priesthood and the inspiration for notions of competent civil defense against nuclear weapons and limited nuclear war. Among the worst effects of the priesthood and its notions was their effect on the debate or what passed for the debate. Instead of a sober and balanced discussion of nuclear issues, society was confused, hence victimized, by shrill and polarized debate, the terms of which were far too often as arbitrary as they were absurd.

John Newhouse is a senior fellow at the World Security Institute and author of Cold Dawn: The Story of SALT and War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.

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A Review of Arsenals of Folly: The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race by Richard Rhodes.

U.S.-Pakistani Arms Pipeline Stays Open

Wade Boese

Deeming Pakistan a vital ally, the Bush administration has ignored U.S. lawmaker calls to halt arms transfers to the Pakistani government following the military regime’s November crackdown on political opponents, the court system, and the media.

On Nov. 3, Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency rule to counter what he described as rising extremism. Musharraf, who took power in a 1999 military coup, was facing a legal challenge to his rule and growing public protests fueled in part by the October return of exiled former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Although condemning Musharraf’s action, the Bush administration has not penalized Pakistan by suspending U.S. aid or arms exports. John Negroponte, deputy secretary of state, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee Nov. 7 that the administration was reviewing U.S. aid, including military aid, but had found no statutory requirements mandating a freeze. He added, “[M]uch of our assistance…contributes directly to our national interests and to the counterterrorism mission.”

Since Musharraf aligned Islamabad more closely with Washington’s anti-terrorism agenda after the Sept. 11 attacks, approximately $10 billion in U.S. aid has flowed to Pakistan. In addition, the Bush administration waived some arms sales prohibitions on Pakistan.

The Congressional Research Service, which conducts studies for Congress, reported Nov. 8 that Pakistan last year signed $3.5 billion in U.S. arms contracts, an amount slightly shy of Pakistan’s $3.6 billion in total U.S. arms purchases from October 1949 through September 2001. (The collective amount has not been adjusted for inflation.) That 2006 sum included a contract for 18 new F-16C/D combat aircraft as well as upgrades for 26 older F-16 fighters that the United States is essentially donating to Pakistan. (See ACT, November 2006. )

Some U.S. legislators are backing nonbinding resolutions to restrict military sales and transfers to Pakistan unless Musharraf reverses course and allows “free and fair elections” in January.

Introduced Nov. 8, the Senate measure has seven co-sponsors, including three presidential candidates: Senators Joseph Biden (D-Del.), Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), and Barack Obama (D-Ill.). Representatives Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) and William Delahunt (D-Mass.) introduced a similar resolution Nov. 14 in the lower chamber. It is unclear if or when either piece of legislation might be voted on.

Ackerman vehemently argued Nov. 7 against continuing arms transfers to Pakistan. Asserting that Musharraf had “told us to go take a hike,” Ackerman told Negroponte that the United States “should stop delivery of any further F-16s.” The president has the authority to stop any U.S. arms transfer abroad.

A spokesperson for the Pentagon’s office that manages U.S. government arms sales to foreign governments told Arms Control Today Nov. 14 that only four of the older F-16 jets have been delivered, while another 10 are awaiting proper classification for transfer. He described everything as “continuing as normal.” Laurie Quincy, a Lockheed Martin Corp. spokesperson, said in a Nov. 13 Arms Control Today interview that the company had not started production of the 18 new F-16 fighters, which are scheduled for delivery in 2010.

At the panel hearing, Negroponte implied the administration, under current circumstances, would not interfere with either process. He contended that the United States and Pakistan “cannot afford to have the on-again off-again interactions that characterized our relationship in the past.”

Negroponte was referring in part to a 1990 U.S. decision to cancel delivery of 28 F-16s to Pakistan due to its clandestine development of nuclear weapons. President Bill Clinton agreed eight years later to pay Pakistan $326.9 million and deliver another $140 million in goods to reimburse Pakistan for its advance payment on the nondelivered planes.


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