"I want to thank the Arms Control Association … for being such effective advocates for sensible policies to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and most importantly, reduce the risk of nuclear war."
– Senator Joe Biden
January 28, 2004
March 2008
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March 2008 Bibliography

Of Special Interest

Carter, Jimmy, “Nuke in the Neighbourhood,” Bahrain Tribune, January 16, 2008.

Federation of American Scientists, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Union of Concerned Scientists, Toward True Security: Ten Steps The Next President Should Take To Transform U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy, February 2008, 37 pp.

International Atomic Energy Agency, Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and Relevant Provisions of Security Council Resolutions 1737 (2006) and 1747 (2007) in the Islamic Republic of Iran, February 22, 2008, 11 pp.

Office of Senator Richard Lugar, Lugar Says Arms Control Has Suffered Significant Setbacks, January 30, 2008.

Shultz, George P., William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger, and Sam Nunn, “Toward a Nuclear-Free World,” The Wall Street Journal, January 15, 2008, p. A13.

I. Strategic Arms

Agence France-Presse, “Russia Has Right to ‘Preventative’ Nuclear Strike: General,” January 19, 2008.

Arbatov, Alexei, Reducing the Role of Nuclear Weapons, International Conference on Nuclear Disarmament, February 26, 2008, 13 pp.

Associated Press, “Putin: Russia Could Aim Nuclear Missiles at Ukraine if it Joins NATO,” February 12, 2008.

Blair, Bruce G., Increasing Warning and Decision Time (“De-Alerting”), February 26, 2008, International Conference on Nuclear Disarmament, February 26, 2008, 12 pp.

Burroughs, John, Visible Intent: NATO’s Responsibility to Nuclear Disarmament, The Middle Powers Initiative, January 2008, 10 pp.

Chang, Andrei, “Analysis: China’s nuke expansion at sea,” United Press International, February 29, 2008.

Fox, Jon, “New Warhead Gets $10 Million in Proposed Budget,” Global Security Newswire, February 5, 2008.

Gottemoeller, Rose, “Sergei Ivanov’s Strategic Breakthrough,” Nezavisimaya Gazeta, February 19, 2008.

Grossman, Elaine, “Air Force Omits Nuke Error From 2007 Incidents List,” Global Security Newswire, February 28, 2008.

The Guardian, “Disarmament Still Matters,” January 7, 2008.

Hebert, H. Josef, “Quality of Nuclear Devices Questioned,” Associated Press, January 20, 2008.

Hoffman, Michael, “U.S. StratCom Chief Backs Investing in New Nukes,” Defense News, February 27, 2008.

Hoffman, Michael, “Nuke Handlers Not Ready for Inspection,” Air Force Times, January 7, 2008.

Lague, David, “Chinese Submarine Fleet Is Growing, Analysts Say,” The New York Times, February 25, 2008.

Loft, Kurt, “Nuclear Bombs Down, Risk the Same,” The Tampa Tribune, January 13, 2008.

Norton, John, “Expert: Don’t Expect No-Nukes World,” The Pueblo Chieftain, February 23, 2008.

Pincus, Walter, “Panel Cites Drop in U.S. Attention to Nuclear Arsenal,” The Washington Post, February 13, 2008, p. A2.

Pincus, Walter, “Air Force Alters Rules for Handling of Nuclear Arms,” The Washington Post, January 25, 2008, p. A5.

RIA Novosti, “Russia’s RS-24 ICBM to Enter Service in 2009 - SMF Commander,” February 27, 2008.

Shen, Dingli, De-emphasizing the Nuclear Weapons, International Conference on Nuclear Disarmament, February 26, 2008, 7 pp.

Solholm, Rolleiv, “International Disarmament Conference in Oslo,” The Norway Post, February 26, 2008.

Traynor, Ian, “Pre-Emptive Nuclear Strike a Key Option, NATO Told,” The Guardian, January 22, 2008.

Tsao, Nadia, “US defense director highlights China missile threat,” Taipei Times, February 29, 2008.

Webb, Greg, “Leading U.S. Scientist Criticizes Warhead Effort,” Global Security Newswire, February 27, 2008.

Webb, Greg, “Shultz, Other Experts Back Nuclear Disarmament,” Global Security Newswire, February 26, 2008.

II. Nuclear Proliferation

Associated Press, “ElBaradei Says Greatest Danger Comes From Atomic Weapons in Hands of Extremist Groups,” February 9, 2008.

Associated Press, “Pope Urges World to Prevent Terrorists From Getting Weapons of Mass Destruction,” January 7, 2008.

Brumfiel, Geoff, “Nuclear War: The Safety Paradox,” Nature.com, January 16, 2008.

Chubin, Shahram, Regional Conflicts and Nuclear Dangers, International Conference on Nuclear Disarmament, February 26, 2008, 7 pp.

Dougherty, Mimi, “Taiwanese Legislator Accuses President Chen of Nuclear Weapons Development,” WMD Insights, February 2008.

Furmann, Matt, “Oil for Nukes – Mostly a Bad Idea,” Christian Science Monitor, February 29, 2008.

Raghavan, V. R., Regional Conflicts and Their Impact on Reducing Nuclear Dangers, International Conference on Nuclear Disarmament, February 26, 2008, 4 pp.

Saunders, Paul J., “The Road to Recovery,” The National Interest Online, January 2, 2008.

Shuster, Mike, “Concerns Continue over Nuclear Proliferation,” NPR.org, February 28, 2008.

Sokolski, Henry, “Atomic,” The Wall Street Journal, January 17, 2008.


Agence France-Presse. “Communist Leader Says No Nuke Deal Until Bush Goes: Report,” February 12, 2008.

Agence France-Presse, “23 Groups Forge Coalition Against India Nuclear Deal,” January 16, 2008.

Associated Press, “Australia Won’t Sell Uranium to India,” January 15, 2008.

Chand, Manish, “Manmohan Government Looks at April Deadline for N-deal,” Indo-Asian News Service, February 24, 2008.

Dikshit, Sandeep, “Pact With France Only After NSG Clearance,” The Hindu, January 22, 2008.

The Economic Times, “Left for India Getting N-Fuel, But Scrapping Deal With U.S.,” January 6, 2008.

Haniffa, Aziz, “N-trade: US Can’t Have Different Standards for India,” Rediff.com, February 14, 2008.

Hibbs, Mark, “New Zealand Floats Conditioning India NSG Exemption on Protocol,” NuclearFuel, January 28, 2008, p. 4.

Mohammed, Arshad, “Burns says ‘Time is Wasting’ on India Nuclear Deal,” Reuters, February 8, 2008.

Nucleonics Week. “US Seeking Indian Commitment to Buy Reactors From US Vendors,” February 28, 2008.

Pradhan, Bibhudatta, “Biden, Kerry Say India Must Conclude Nuclear Accord by May,” Bloomberg.com, February 20, 2008.

Press Trust of India, “US to Support India’s Deal with NSG Only if it is ‘Consistent’ With Hyde Act,” February 14, 2008.

Rediff.com, “Time is Running Out for N-deal: US Senators Tell Dr. Singh,” February 20, 2008.

Reuters, “U.S. Warns India Its Now or Never for Nuclear Deal,” February 9, 2008.

Reuters, “Britain Lends Support to India-U.S. Nuclear Deal,” January 21, 2008.

RIA Novosti, “Russian-Indian Nuclear Deal Ready for Signing,” February 21, 2008.

RIA Novosti, “Russia, India Initial Deal to Build 4 More Reactors for NPP,” February 12, 2008.

The Times of India, “Top US Senators Set July-end Deadline for N-deal,” February 20, 2008.

The Times of India, “US Wants India to Adhere to Hyde Act,” February 14, 2008.


Agence France-Presse, “Security Council Edges Toward Iran Sanctions,” February 29, 2008.

Agence France-Presse, “Iran has Capacity to Produce Nuclear Arms: U.S. Intelligence,” February 13, 2008.

Agence France-Presse, “Iran’s Top Nuclear Negotiator Reshuffles Team,” January 1, 2008.

Albright, David, and Shire, Jacqueline, Iran Installing More Advanced Centrifuges at Natanz Pilot Enrichment Plant: Fact Sheet on P-2/IR-2 Centrifuge, The Institute for Science and International Security, February 7, 2008, 2 pp.

Associated Press, “IAEA Member Suggests Iran’s Nuclear Program Continued Past 2003,” February 25, 2008.

Associated Press, “Iran Stepping Up Its Uranium Work,” February 25, 2008.

Champion, Marc, “Exile Group Claims Iran Is Developing Nuclear Warheads,” The Wall Street Journal, February 20, 2008, p. A4.

Cooper, Helene, and Hodge, Warren, “Europeans Plan Incentives, as Iran Says Sanctions Won’t Halt Nuclear Program,” The New York Times, February 26, 2008.

Daragahi, Borzou, and Mostaghim, Ramin, “Iran Sanctions Ripple Past Those in Power,” Los Angeles Times, January 20, 2008.

Dombey, Daniel, and Morris, Harvey, “US Sees Iran Nuclear Dispute Going to 2009,” Financial Times, February 27, 2008.

The Economist. “Has Iran won?” January 31, 2008.

Farley, Maggie, and Richter, Paul, “U.S. Envoy Debates Iranians: A No-No,” Los Angeles Times, January 30, 2008.

Fathi, Nazila, “UN Nuclear Official Urges Iran to Clarify ‘Outstanding Issues,’” The New York Times, January 12, 2008.

Garwin, Richard L., “When Could Iran Deliver a Nuclear Weapon,” The Bulletin Online, January 18, 2008.

Gerecht, Reuel Marc, “Attack Iran, With Words,” The New York Times, February 20, 2008.

Government Accountability Office, Iran Sanctions: Impact in Furthering U.S. Objectives Is Unclear and Should be Reviewed, December 2007, 60 pp.

Heinrich, Mark, “Iran Clarifies Bomb-Grade Uranium Traces to IAEA,” Reuters, February 12, 2008.

Heinrich, Mark, “Iran Testing Advanced Centrifuges,” Reuters, February 6, 2007.

Irish, John, and Abbas, Mohammed, “Gulf Bowing to U.S. Pressure Over Iran Bank Links,” Reuters, January 14, 2008.

Jahn, George, “Iran Puts Uranium Gas in Centrifuges,” Associated Press, February 14, 2008.

Maloney, Suzanne, and Takeyh, Ray, “Time To Start Talking To Tehran,” Newsweek, January 25, 2008.

Omestad, Thomas, “Intelligence Chief Reshapes Iran NIE,” U.S. News & World Report, February 6, 2008.

Pletka, Danielle, and Rubin, Michael, “ElBaradei’s Real Agenda,” The Wall Street Journal, February 25, 2008, p. A14.

Reuters, “Iran Shrugs Off Sanctions Threat Over Atomic Plans,” February 25, 2008.

Reuters, “Russia Warns Iran on Missiles, Uranium Enrichment,” February 13, 2008.

Sanger, David, and Sciolino, Elaine, “U.S. to Produce Data on Iran's Nuclear Program,” The New York Times, February 15, 2008.

Simpson, Glenn R., “U.S. Weighs Sanctions on Iran’s Central Bank,” The Wall Street Journal, February 25, 2008, p. A1.

Solomon, Jay, and Gorman, Siobhan, “In Iran Reversal, Bureaucrats Triumphed Over Cheney Team,” The Wall Street Journal, January 14, 2008.

Takeyh, Ray, and Cirincione, Joseph, “ElBaradei is quietly managing to disarm Iran,” Financial Times, February 26, 2008.

Wald, Matthew, “U.S.-Backed Russian Institutes Help Iran Build Reactor,” The New York Times, February 7, 2008.

The Wall Street Journal, “Iranian Nuclear Rewrite,” February 8, 2008.

Weisman, Steven, “World Group Tells Banks to Beware of Deals With Iran,” The New York Times, February 29, 2008.

Zagorin, Adam, “Still Trying to Squeeze Iran,” Time, January 31, 2008.


Oren, Amir, “CIA Reveals: We Said in 1974 That Israel Had Nuclear Weapons,” Haaretz, January 13, 2008.

North Korea

Achin, Kurt, “Incoming S. Korean President Pledges Billions if North Quits Nuclear Weapons,” Voice of America, January 4, 2008.

Agence France-Presse, “US to Send Fuel Aid to N. Korea Despite Nuclear List Delay,” February 6, 2008.

Agence France-Presse, “North Korea Still a Nuclear Proliferation Risk: Intel Report,” February 5, 2008.

Albright, David, and Shire, Jacqueline, “Slowly, but Surely, Pyongyang is Moving,” Washington Post, January 24, 2008, p. A19.

Albright, David, Brannan, Paul, and Shire, Jacqueline, North Korea’s Plutonium Declaration: A Starting Point for an Initial Verification Process, The Institute for Science and International Security, January 10, 2008, 3 pp.

Associated Press, “Rice seeks Japan's help with North Korea,” February 26, 2008.

Associated Press, “N. Korea Says Delay in Talks ‘Technical,’” February 21, 2008.

Blumenthal, Dan, “Six Parties, Zero Progress,” The Weekly Standard, February 25, 2008.

Choe, Sang-Hun, “U.S. Nuclear Envoy Puts Gentle Pressure on North Korea,” The New York Times, January 11, 2008.

Cody, Edward, “N. Korea Slowing Disarmament, U.S. Nuclear Delegation Reports,” The Washington Post, February 17, 2008, p. A21.

The Economist, “Eerie Silence,” January 3, 2008.

Harden, Blaine, “All Nuclear Efforts Disclosed, N. Korea Says: US Calls Pyongyang Declaration Incomplete but Says Negotiations Will Continue,” The Washington Post, January 5, 2008, p. A13.

Kralev, Nicholas, “U.S. urges eyeing flow of nuclear materials,” The Washington Times, February 26, 2008, p. A1.

Kralev, Nicholas, “U.S. presses N. Korea on Syria,” The Washington Times, February 20, 2008, p. A1.

Lee, Chi-Dong, “U.S. Sets New Deadline for N. Korea’s Declaration of Nuclear Programs,” Yonhap, January 10, 2008.

Reuters, “North Korea Seems to Meet U.S. Criteria on Terror Listing,” January 22, 2008.

Sung-ki, Jung, “N. Korea Suspected of Misusing Oil Aid for Military Trainings: Report,” DefenseNews.com, February 10, 2008.


Agence France-Presse, “Indian Official Warns Over Pakistan Nukes,” February 21, 2008.

Agence France-Presse, “Pakistan Nuclear Weapons Vulnerable: US,” February 5, 2008.

Harrison, Selig, “What A.Q. Khan Knows,” The Washington Post, January 31, 2008, p. A21.

Press Trust of India, “Pak Rejects Reports of Possible Takeover of its N-Assets By U.S.,” January 2, 2008.

Sokolski, Henry D., ed., Pakistan’s Nuclear Future: Worries Beyond War, Strategic Securities Institute, January 2008, 378 pp.

Voice of America, “Pakistan Nuclear Officials Kidnapped, Ambassador to Afghanistan Missing,” February 12, 2008.

South Korea

Yoon, Won-sup, “Park Sought to Develop Nuclear Weapons,” The Korea Times, January 15, 2008.


Hersh, Seymour M., “A Strike in the Dark: What Did Israel Bomb in Syria?” The New Yorker, February 11, 2008.

The Institute for Science and International Security, ISIS Statement Regarding “A Strike in the Dark” in the February 11 Issue of The New Yorker, By Seymour Hersh, February 6, 2008, 1 pp.

Stern, Yoav, “IAEA: We Hope to Visit Site of IAF Strike on Syria,” Haaretz, January 7, 2008.

III. Nonproliferation

Associated Press, “Colombia Ratifies Nuclear Test Ban Treaty,” January 30, 2008.

Associated Press, “Barbados Ratifies Global Treaty Banning Nuclear Explosions,” January 15, 2008.

Associated Press, “Malaysia Ratifies Global Treaty Banning Nuclear Test Explosions,” January 18, 2008.

Baby, Soman, “Bahrain to Join the Nuclear Club,” Gulf Daily News, February 18, 2008.

Casey, Robert P., Jr, “An Issue That Needs Airing,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 4, 2008.

Davidson, Lee, “Pentagon’s Efforts to Fight Weapons of Mass Destruction Flayed,” Deseret Morning News, January 2, 2008.

Dhanapala, Jayantha, What Further Steps Could Non-Nuclear Weapon States Take to Strengthen the Non-Proliferation Regime? International Conference on Nuclear Disarmament, February 26, 2008, 10 pp.

Einhorn, Robert J., Controlling Fissile Materials and Ending Nuclear Testing, International Conference on Nuclear Disarmament, February 26, 2008, 10 pp.

El Saiedi, Ali F., How Can Increasing Demand for Nuclear Energy be Squared with Disarmament Objectives? International Conference on Nuclear Disarmament, February 26, 2008, 10 pp.

Finerin, Daniel, “Britain Joins U.S.-led Nuclear Power Club,” Reuters, February 26, 2008.

Fitzpatrick, Mark, Squaring Increasing Demand for Nuclear Energy with Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Objectives, International Conference on Nuclear Disarmament, February 26, 2008, 8 pp.

Goldschmidt, Pierre, Nuclear Renaissance and Non-Proliferation, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, February 20, 2008, 12 pp.

Government Accountability Office, Nuclear Nonproliferation: DOE Needs to Reassess Its Program to Assist Weapons Scientists in Russia and Other Countries, January 23, 2008, 17 pp.

Meyer, Josh, “Al Qaeda Said to Focus on WMDs,” Los Angeles Times, February 3, 2008.

Reuters, “Russia tells U.S. plutonium plants to shut sooner,” February 2, 2008.

Schneidmiller, Chris, “Answers on Nuclear Smuggling Remain Elusive,” Global Security Newswire, February 19, 2008.

Wald, Matthew, “Hiring of Soviet Scientists Has Strayed From Aim, Audit Says,” The New York Times, January 24, 2008.

United Press International, “NNSA Official Praises Russian Cooperation,” January 2, 2008.

Vartabedian, Ralph, “How the U.S. Seeks to Avert Nuclear Terror,” The Los Angeles Times, January 6, 2008.

IV. Missiles and Missile Defense

Agence France-Presse, “Poland to Get US Military Upgrade for Missile Shield: Ministry,” February 27, 2008.

Agence France-Presse, “Japan Working on Central Tokyo Missile Shield: Official,” January 14, 2008.

Agence France-Presse, “India Looks to Develop Anti-Missile Defense System By 2010,” January 8, 2008.

Associated Press, “U.S. Missile Shield Plan Nearly Final, Czechs Say,” February 25, 2008.

Associated Press, “Iran Accelerating Missile Development,” January 16, 2008.

Baczynska, Gabriela, and Jasser, Adam, “Poland Raises Stakes for U.S. Missile Shield,” Reuters, January 9, 2008.

Cavanaugh, Tim, “The ICBM Turns 50,” Los Angeles Times, February 23, 2008.

Crouch II, J.D., and Joseph, Robert, “Tough Calls, Good Calls,” The Wall Street Journal, January 22, 2008, p. A19.

Dempsey, Judy, “Poland and Czech Republic Team Up in Missile Defense Talks With U.S.,” The New York Times, January 11, 2008.

The Economic Times, “India to Test Agni III+ Ballistic Missile in 2009,” January 7, 2008.

The Economist, “Disharmony in the Spheres,” January 17, 2008.

Government Accountability Office, Defense Acquisitions: Assessment of DOD Efforts to Enhance Missile Defense Capabilities and Oversight, February 26, 2008, 14 pp.

Haaretz, “IDF Successfully Launches Test of Long-Range Missile,” January 7, 2008.

Jung, Sung-ki, “S. Korea Opposes Joining U.S. Missile Defense System,” The Korea Times, January 3, 2008.

Kislyakov, Andrei, “Does Russia Need a ‘Half-Baked’ Missile and Another New Tank?” RIA Novosti, January 15, 2008.

Loven, Jennifer, “Bush, Czechs Fail to Seal Radar Deal,” Associated Press, February 28, 2008.

Lucas, Ryan, “Polish Town Leery of U.S. Missile Defense,” Associated Press, January 19, 2008.

Missile Defense Agency, Fiscal Year 2009 (FY 09) Budget Estimates: Overview,” February 5, 2008, 40 pp.

Purvis, Andrew, “Poles, Czechs Balk at Missile Shield,” Time, January 16, 2008.

Raghuvanshi, Vivek, “India Working on Mach-5 Missiles,” Defense News, January 7, 2008.

Ravid, Barak, “Israel Unveils Missile Designed to Intercept Hezbollah Rockets,” Haaretz, January 22, 2008.

Reuters, “Missile Shield Talks with Poland, Czech Rep. on Track: U.S.,” February 21, 2008.

Reuters, “Poll Shows 70% of Czechs Now Oppose U.S. Shield,” January 8, 2008.

Reuters, “Taiwan Sees Jump in China Missile Build-Up,” January 1, 2008.

Singh, Rahul, “India test-fires missile launched from submarine,” Hindustan Times, February 26, 2008.

United Press International, “NATO opens missile defenses facility,” February 15, 2008.

Whitlock, Craig, “New Team in Poland Cool to U.S. Shield: Premier Conditions Support on More Aid,” The Washington Post, January 19, 2008, p. A18.

Wolf, Jim, “U.S., Israel said set to launch anti-missile tests,” Reuters, February 27, 2008.

V. Chemical and Biological Arms

Associated Press, “PB Arsenal Says All VX Nerve-Agent Rockets Destroyed,” February 29, 2008.

Associated Press, “Ricin Possibly Found at Las Vegas Motel,” February 29, 2008.

Barry, Dan, “Living With Danger, and Wondering How to Live Without It,” The New York Times, February 25, 2008.

De Vreij, Hans, “Dutch institute conducting biological warfare research,” Radio Netherlands Worldwide, February 25, 2008.

Golan, Avirama, “Soldiers sue government over harmful anthrax tests,” Haaretz, February 20, 2008.

Government Accountability Office, Chemical and Biological Weapons: DOD and VA Need to Improve Efforts to Identify and Notify Individuals Potentially Exposed during Chemical and Biological Tests, February 2008, 49 pp.

Loughlin, Sue, “76 Percent of Newport’s VX Agent Neutralized,” The Tribune-Star, January 17, 2008.

Schneidmiller, Chris, “More Money Needed to Meet CW Disposal Deadline, Experts Say,” Global Security Newswire, January 15, 2008.

VI. Conventional Arms

Agence France-Presse, “Bulk of States Back Cluster Bomb Ban, Organisers Say,” February 22, 2008.

Associated Press, “Australia ‘obstructing’ cluster bomb ban,” The Age, February 19, 2008.

Agence France-Presse, “US predicts at least 80,000 military export licenses a year,” January 23, 2008.

Associated Press, “U.S. to Set Up Cluster Bomb Clearance Team,” January 17, 2008.

BBC.com. “China defends arms sales to Sudan,” February 22, 2008.

The Chosun Ilbo, “U.S. Gov't Urged to Upgrade Korea’s Arms Buyer Status,” February 19, 2008.

Jeena, Kushal, “Analysis: India Rejects Ban on Landmines,” United Press International, January 18, 2008.

Jennings, Ralph, “U.S. to wait for Taiwan vote before jet sales possible,” Reuters, February 1, 2008.

Lilley, Ray, “No Agreement Yet on Cluster Bomb Ban,” Associated Press, February 21, 2008.

The New Zealand Herald, “NZ’s Bomb Clearing in Lebanon Ends,” February 7, 2008.

Pincus, Walter, “A New Arms Race in the Gulf?” The Washington Post, January 21, 2008, p. A13.

Pomper, Miles A., “Two International Efforts Compete to Impose Cluster Bomb Restrictions,” World Politics Review, February 22, 2008.

Reuters, “U.S. Defends Some Uses of Cluster Bombs,” January 16, 2008.

Roberts, Evan, “Red Cross Says Ban on Cluster Bombs Urgent,” International Herald Tribune, February 6, 2008.

Simonite, Tom, “’Robot arms race’ underway, expert warns,” New Scientist, February 27, 2008.

Williams, Dan, “Israel to Get ‘Smarter’ U.S.-Made Bombs Than Saudis,” Reuters, January 13, 2008.

VII. U.S. Policy

Wald, Matthew, “As Nuclear Waste Languishes, Expense to U.S. Rises,” The New York Times, February 17, 2008.

Wald, Matthew, “Energy Dept. Funding Institutes with Iranian Ties,” The New York Times, February 6, 2008.

VIII. Space

Agence France-Presse, “Russia, China Propose New Treaty to Ban Arms in Space,” February 12, 2008.

Associated Press, “Pentagon Says Satellite Hit a Success,” February 25, 2008.

Bender, Bryan, “US Missile Hits Crippled Satellite,” The Boston Globe, February 21, 2008.

Bradsher, Keith, “China Criticizes U.S. Missile Strike,” The New York Times, February 21, 2008.

Dareini, Ali Akbar, “Iran Opens Space Center, Launches Rocket,” Associated Press, February 4, 2008.

The Economist, “Dangerous Driving in the Heavens,” January 17, 2008.

Elsworth, Catherine, and Spencer, Richard, “Protests as US shoot down rogue spy satellite,” The Telegraph, February 22, 2008.

Everett, Terry, “Needed: Strategy for Space Protection,” The Washington Times, January 11, 2008, p. A19.

Gertz, Bill, “U.S. Satellites Dodge Chinese Missile Debris,” The Washington Times, January 11, 2008, p. A1.

Hitchens, Theresa, “Space Wars: Coming to the Sky Near You?” Scientific American, February 18, 2008.

Kaufman, Marc, and White, Josh, “Navy Missile Hits Satellite, Pentagon Says,” The Washington Post, February 21, 2008, p. A1.

Krepon, Michael, Bush’s ASAT Plan, The Henry L. Stimson Center, February 20, 2008.

Lague, David, “China Expresses Concern Over U.S. Plan to Shoot Down a Faulty Spy Satellite,” The New York Times, February 19, 2008.

MacDonald, Bruce, and Ferguson, Charles, “Taking Friendly Fire to New Heights,” Los Angeles Times, February 21, 2008.

Moore, Mike, “Arms Race in Space?” San Francisco Chronicle, February 12, 2008.

Mulrine, Anna, “The Satellite Shootdown: Behind the Scenes,” U.S. News & World Report, February 25, 2008.

Schachtman, Noah, “How China Loses the Coming Space War,” Wired, January 10, 2008.

Shanker, Thom, “U.S. display of antisatellite capability leaves rivals uneasy,” International Herald Tribune, February 22, 2008.

Shanker, Thom, “Missile Strikes a Spy Satellite Falling From Its Orbit,” The New York Times, February 21, 2008.

Shanker, Thom, “Washington Memo: Missile Defense Future May Turn on Success of Mission to Destroy Satellite,” The New York Times, February 16, 2008.

Tellis, Ashley, “Don't Panic About Space Weapons,” The Wall Street Journal, February 22, 2008.

Letters to the Editor: “Trust Us” Is Not Enough in Pakistan

Pervez Hoodbhoy

It is good to see Kenneth N. Luongo and Brigadier General (Ret.) Naeem Salik’s unbridled optimism about Pakistan’s ability to safeguard its nuclear arsenal (“Building Confidence in Pakistan’s Nuclear Security,” December 2007). But a more tempered approach would perhaps have been better. In thinking about how well Pakistan may be able to secure its nuclear weapons, materials, and experts, it is worth remembering that Pakistan has been unable to protect its constitution from military coups, has lost half its territory (East Pakistan, now Bangladesh) in 1971, and has failed to safeguard the lives of its most prominent political leaders in recent months.

The goals of Pakistan’s Strategic Plans Division (SPD), with which one of the authors was associated, are indeed laudable. With U.S. tutoring and funds, the SPD says it has implemented various technical precautions such as improved perimeter security, installation of electronic locks and permissive action links that require the entry of a code before nuclear weapons can explode, and implementation of a personnel reliability program. Although these increase safety against theft or unauthorized access to weapons and material, it is better to be cautious about such security given the increasingly sophisticated and violent Islamist insurgency in Pakistan and the longer-term direction and intensity of social change.

Some claims made by those in charge of Pakistan’s nukes are brash. Feroz Hassan Khan, a former SPD director, for instance told The Wall Street Journal in late November that “[t]he system knows how to distinguish who is a ‘fundo’ [fundamentalist] and who is simply pious.” If it were truly so, Pakistan need not have suffered the tidal wave of suicide bombings that has crashed through its towns and cities in recent years.

The feeling of being in total control starts at the top of the army. President Pervez Musharraf, who recently resigned from the military, was asked by Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria in January 2008 if he thought Pakistan’s nuclear weapons were safe from Islamic militants. He confidently replied, “Absolutely. [The SPD] is like an army unit. Can one rifle be taken away from an army unit? Can the bullet of a rifle be taken away from an army unit? I challenge anyone to take a bullet, a weapon, away from an army unit.”

But just two weeks later, the Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported that Taliban militants had captured four military trucks in Darra Adamkhel on the Indus Highway. Some reportedly carried ammunition, while others were transporting 4x4 military vehicles fitted with sophisticated communications and listening technology. Another week later, the trucks were recovered, minus cargo.

There are other examples. In August 2007, the BBC reported that about 250 Frontier Constabulary soldiers surrendered to the Taliban, together with their equipment and weapons, all without firing a shot. Initially an attempt was made to deny that any soldiers had been kidnapped or had surrendered. But some weeks later, after the BBC interviewed the military officers in the Taliban’s captivity, President and then-General Musharraf criticized them for cowardice and unprofessional behavior.

Here lies the crux of the problem. In spite of the SPD’s professionalism, the fact is that procedures and technical fixes are only as good as the men who operate them. This is not just an academic question. For more than 25 years, the army nurtured Islamist radicals as proxy warriors for covert operations on Pakistan’s borders in Kashmir and Afghanistan. This produced extremism inside parts of the military and intelligence. Today, some parts are at war with other parts.

This chilling truth is now emerging. A score of suicide attacks in the last few weeks, some bearing a clear insider signature, have rocked an increasingly demoralized military and intelligence establishment. Fearful of more deadly attacks, military officers in Pakistan have abandoned use of uniforms except when on duty. They move in civilian cars accompanied by gunmen in plain clothes and no longer flout their rank in public.

The authors state that “there have not been any examples to date of systemic failure” in Pakistan’s nuclear security. But, given that there is no oversight body, how are we to know? Even the nuclear-weapon states, the United States included, have had serious problems at some point. Pakistan has the additional problem that it cannot be guaranteed that the custodians of nuclear weapons will always be responsible to the government.

One also does not know if radical Islamists can eventually hijack a weapon or acquire the technical expertise and the highly enriched uranium needed for a crude, in situ nuclear device. But it is quite certain that, having gone to the trouble of getting it, they will use it if they can. One should not assume that London or New York will be the preferred targets because Islamabad and Delhi may be just as good—and certainly much easier. In the twisted logic of the fanatics, there is little or no difference between apostates and those who are the tools of apostates. The suicide bombings inside mosques, and in Pakistan’s public places, send exactly this message.

I would like to believe Luongo and Salik that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and materials are safe. The problem is that, like me, they really do not know. In a matter involving enormous consequences, for them to say “trust us” is not good enough.


Pervez Hoodbhoy is chairman of the Department of Physics, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, and author of Islam and Science: Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Rationality (1991).

Kenneth N. Luongo and Naeem Salik Respond

Kenneth N. Luongo and Brigadier General (Ret.) Naeem Salik

Pervez Hoodbhoy is a longtime observer of political and nuclear developments in Pakistan, and his views are important in the debate over Pakistan’s nuclear security. Our article was a factual assessment of how Pakistan’s nuclear security has evolved over the past nine years, where it stands today, and how it might continue to evolve in the future. In fact, Time magazine characterized this piece as “the most detailed account yet of how Islamabad protects its atomic arsenal.” The article speaks clearly on the threat scenarios that exist in Pakistan and acknowledges the issue of growing religious fundamentalism in both the civilian and military sectors. It emphasizes the importance of assuring and improving personnel reliability. Further, the article makes clear that Pakistan, like all nuclear nations, has ongoing and evolving security challenges and therefore must remain adaptive and open to further improvement. That is why it continues working with the United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Surprisingly, however, Hoodbhoy’s letter also introduces examples of challenges faced by Pakistan that are really tangential to the performance of nuclear security. His arguments about Pakistan’s social fragility, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, attacks against military units, and the 1971 secession of its eastern wing are in a category of political and social challenges faced by many nuclear nations. In the nuclear era, the United States has survived the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the attempts on the lives of Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. The United States was unable to prevent the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the British government failed to prevent the London Underground bombings—all acts carried out by religious extremists. These tragic events did not translate into the inability of these nations to keep their nuclear assets safe in crisis situations just as Pakistan has been able to maintain control of its nuclear assets during the recent political crisis.

Political challenges and crises will arise. The important point is to have in place the best systems possible to ensure that nuclear assets are not at risk as a result. We, like Pervez Hoodbhoy, remain concerned with the state of nuclear safety and security in Pakistan because it is important for global security. That is why Pakistan has taken significant steps since the 1998 nuclear tests to strengthen the custodial controls of its strategic assets. This progress is important, and it needs to continue.


Kenneth N. Luongo is president of the Partnership for Global Security and a former senior adviser on nonproliferation policy to the secretary of energy. Brigadier General (Ret.) Naeem Salik is currently the South Asia Studies Visiting Scholar at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

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.

It is good to see Kenneth N. Luongo and Brigadier General (Ret.) Naeem Salik’s unbridled optimism about Pakistan’s ability to safeguard its nuclear arsenal (“Building Confidence in Pakistan’s Nuclear Security,” December 2007). But a more tempered approach would perhaps have been better. In thinking about how well Pakistan may be able to secure its nuclear weapons, materials, and experts, it is worth remembering that Pakistan has been unable to protect its constitution from military coups, has lost half its territory (East Pakistan, now Bangladesh) in 1971, and has failed to safeguard the lives of its most prominent political leaders in recent months. (Continue)



On page 45 of Arms Control Today’s January/February 2008 issue, the news article “Concerns Raised as South Korea Joins GNEP” inaccurately identified the timing of a number of meetings. The sentence “GNEP partners held their first steering committee meeting Dec. 19, adopting a work plan calling for two more such meetings next year and a ministerial-level executive committee meeting late next year” should have read “GNEP partners held their first steering committee meeting Dec. 19, adopting a work plan calling for two more such meetings this year and a ministerial-level executive committee meeting late this year.” The meetings are in 2008.

Editor's Note

Miles A. Pomper

Recently, four senior statesmen called for renewed action toward the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons. Our cover story this month is an interview with one of them, former Senator Sam Nunn (D-Ga.).

Nunn says that, without such action, he has become convinced that the world is headed toward a “nuclear nightmare” because of the potentially cataclysmic mixture of a world with spreading nuclear technologies and terrorists aspiring to acquire and use them. In op-eds in The Wall Street Journal in January 2007 and January 2008, Nunn, along with former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz and former Secretary of Defense William Perry, laid out a series of important near-term disarmament steps.

As Nunn and his partners struggle to rein in nuclear arms, the world will mark the success of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) at the second review conference next month. Since entering into force nearly a decade ago, the chemical weapons ban has led to the destruction of many of these arms. It has also been embraced by the international community; only a dozen states have neither signed nor ratified the treaty.

Nonetheless, as the authors of two of our features note, the CWC’s success is incomplete. Daniel Feakes points out that the holdouts from the treaty now include states, particularly in the Middle East, whose participation is quite important but whose support will be difficult to win. He also notes that ratifying the treaty is one thing, but it is not clear how deep the commitment is to truly implementing it.

Ralf Trapp says that scientific and technological developments threaten to outstrip the ability of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to determine whether states-parties are complying with the treaty. He urges the CWC’s second review conference to take steps to bring it up to date.

In our Looking Back essay this month, John Hart discusses the legacy of old and abandoned chemical arms that still harm countries from Belgium to China. Hart examines the complex political and technological challenges of removing and destroying these arms.

Our news section includes an article by Wade Boese on Russia’s little-noticed decision to end missile testing notifications, an update from Peter Crail on the International Atomic Energy Agency probe into Iran’s nuclear program, a CWC analysis by Oliver Meier, and extensive coverage of the effect of the Bush administration’s fiscal year 2009 budget request on arms control and nonproliferation.

LOOKING BACK: The Continuing Legacy of Old and Abandoned Chemical Weapons

John Hart

I hear a dull thud. A blue mist comes floating across the frosty fields. In the field behind the cemetery, the DOVO, the Belgian War Munition Demolition Service, has blown up another heap of First World War ammunition. They do it twice a day, one and a half tons a year. When the farmers find grenades, they leave them at the base of the utility masts, and the miners collect them. And so it goes on here. Generation after generation, this soil continues to vomit up grenades, buttons, buckles, knives, skulls, bottles, rifles, sometimes even a whole tank. The Great War never ends.[1]

Nearly 66 million artillery shells containing chemical weapons were fired during World War I. At least 40 different compounds were weaponized for use on the battlefield.[2] Now, nearly a century later, hundreds of World War I- and World War II-era shells are recovered annually from the European battlefields, mostly in Belgium and France.[3] Nor is the concrete legacy of chemical warfare confined to Europe. Such aged chemical weapons affect countries as far as China.

The 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) requires that chemical-weapon possessors meet the treaty’s overall deadline for destruction: April 29, 2012. However, the treaty established particular definitions for such “old” and “abandoned” chemical weapons as well as different destruction and financing requirements. With the treaty’s second review conference scheduled to meet in The Hague in April, states-parties should assess how well the verification of the destruction of such obsolete chemical arms is proceeding.

Treaty Requirements

The CWC classifies as old chemical weapons (OCW) those produced before 1925 or those produced between 1925 and January 1, 1946, that have “deteriorated to such [an] extent that they can no longer be used as chemical weapons.” The convention defines abandoned chemical weapons (ACW) as “chemical weapons, including old chemical weapons, abandoned by a State after 1 January 1925 on the territory of another State without the consent of the latter.”[4]

A state-party is required to declare OCW or ACW found on its territory no later than 30 days after the CWC enters into force for it. States-parties are to submit “all available relevant” information, including, to the extent possible, their location, type, quantity, and present condition. States-parties that discover OCW after the CWC enters into force for them are required to provide the above information to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Technical Secretariat no later than 180 days after such a discovery. OCW produced prior to 1925 are to be treated as “toxic waste” and as such are subject to the lowest level of verification.

A state-party that has ACW on the territory of another state-party is required to declare this to the OPCW within 30 days of the CWC’s entering into force for it. The cost of the destruction of ACW is to be met by the abandoning state-party, if its identity is known.[5]

Who Has What

As of December 2007, three states declared that chemical weapons had been abandoned on their territory, and 13 declared possession of OCW.[6] Destruction operations are underway in most of these states. By comparison, six states said they possessed post-World War II chemical weapons stockpiles.[7]

Some of the OCW possessor states have been recovering and destroying OCW as they find them in the field. During 2005-2006, for example, Austria uncovered three such weapons, which posed no immediate danger to the environment. In 2007 the OPCW approved a proposal to destroy these munitions in Germany, at Munster, partly on the condition that they remain under the ownership and control of Austria.[8] During 2006-2007, Australia recovered a number of empty, corroded shells in New South Wales and Queensland. Australia considered the munitions to be already destroyed because of their deteriorated condition and declared them as OCW.[9] In March 2007, the United Kingdom completed the destruction of all its OCW, totalling 3,812 munitions, at a cost of approximately $20 million.[10] There is also periodic recovery of old munitions from the territory of the former Soviet Union. For example, in 2004 a number of World War I-era artillery shells, some of which were reportedly filled with chlorine, were uncovered in the village of Toporivka in the Chernovsti region of Ukraine.[11]

It is reasonable to assume that other successor states may face similar challenges. All told, as of December 31, 2006, countries had declared 50,700 OCW produced before 1925 and 66,700 OCW produced between 1925 and 1946. As of the same date, approximately 37,600 munitions had been declared as ACW.[12] Belgium, China, Germany, and Japan have significant destruction efforts.


Following the end of World War I, it was common for scrap collectors to recover spent artillery shells and other scrap metal from the former battlefields, including those in Belgium. The copper driving bands on shells were of particular interest. In the 1920s, Belgian authorities let contracts to collect the war material systematically. The volume was so great that a decision was taken to dump the munitions or scuttle them on ships. Much of this dumping occurred in shallow water in an area called Horse Market (Paardenmarkt).[13] Belgium began to assess chemical weapons destruction technologies in the early 1980s, and a destruction facility at Poelkapelle, near Ypres, began operating in the late 1990s. Ypres is the site where German forces released approximately 160 tons of chlorine in April 1915. It was also where Germany first used sulfur mustard, also called Yperite, in July 1917. Key combatants in the war used chemical weapons.

More than 12,000 shells have been destroyed at the Poelkapelle facility, and as of 2007, close to 50,000 shells have been examined using X-rays and neutron activation analysis. This is carried out partly to determine whether the shell is a conventional explosive or is a chemical round. It also assists with determining where the shell should be drilled or cut to avoid touching the burster well. Some shells, particularly 7.7 cm artillery rounds, contain glass bottles to prevent the chemical fill (usually Clark I) from mixing with the explosive components of the munition. These bottles tend to break over time and contaminate the explosive components with chemical-weapon agent. In such cases, additional safety and environmental precautions must be taken because it is impossible to separate the agent from the explosives. Currently, the facility receives about 10,000 items (approximately 200 metric tons) per year. At least one-third are immediately identified as being conventional rounds. Typically, approximately 5-10 percent of the total have been found to be chemical weapons munitions.[14]


Japan’s World War II-era occupation of China has left a large legacy of chemical weapons. In 1991 the first joint Chinese-Japanese investigation of a site containing chemical weapons was conducted in an effort to determine the scope of the problem. Since then, the two countries have jointly conducted approximately 75 fact-finding missions or site investigations of suspected ACW sites. Since 2000, they have executed 16 excavation and recovery operations.[15]

These activities provided evidence for the presence of approximately 350,000 chemical weapons munitions, 90 percent of which are located in Haerbaling in Jilin Province in northeastern China. In 1992 the Chinese delegation to the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament introduced a paper estimating that approximately two million chemical weapons had been abandoned on its territory. This initial estimate was revised downward as a result of subsequent joint Chinese-Japanese investigation and field visits.[16] In 1999 the two governments signed a memorandum of understanding in which Japan formally acknowledged the presence of large numbers of chemical weapons it abandoned on Chinese territory. In the agreement, Japan promised to provide “all necessary financial, technical, expert, facility as well as other resources” for the purposes of destroying the ACW.[17] In 2006, Japan sent four investigation teams and five excavation and recovery teams to China, where more than 1,700 projectiles were recovered.[18]

In 2007, Japan announced its intention to introduce a mobile destruction system (apparently a detonation chamber system) to complement the planned construction of a fixed, incineration-based chemical weapons destruction facility in Haerbaling. Approximately 38,000 of the estimated 300,000 or more ACW located in the region have been recovered and are awaiting destruction.

Although destruction operations of ACW in China have not yet begun, the country faces a number of challenges. These include the difficulty in locating all ACW sites, the presence in some cases of conventional munitions with fuses that might trigger the munitions while they are being handled or while in storage, and possible corruption. In 2007 a former president of a Japanese contractor and other parties were reported to have been arrested for illegally diverting destruction assistance funds. It is estimated that the total cost for Japanese destruction assistance could exceed 1 trillion yen (approximately $9 billion).[19]

Nonetheless, destruction operations in China should be simpler than for most other states because it only has two basic types of chemical fills, requiring only two different types of destruction methods. The fact that one of the technologies is expected to employ explosive charges does mean that there is some concern about how long this process will take. Generally, it is more difficult with this method to achieve the necessary throughput in order to destroy large numbers of munitions in a timely manner because attaching the charges lengthens the destruction process.

China and Japan are considering using different destruction technologies at the main destruction facility at Haerba-ling. For red munitions containing Clark I (diphenylchloroarsine) or Clark II (diphenylcyanoarsine), a destruction technology using donor charges is being debated. For the yellow munitions, a 50-50 mixture of lewisite and sulfur mustard, using a static detonation technology is being considered. For this, a temperature of approximately 550 degrees Celsius will be sufficient to destroy the munitions, including the chemical warfare agent. A mobile destruction plant is currently under consideration and should begin operation by late spring 2009.[20] It will be used to destroy small caches of weapons, including some outside Jilin province.


Beginning in World War I, the military training ground at Munster was the principal experimental and training area for Germany’s chemical weapons efforts. The site has hundreds of thousands of World War I- and World War II-era conventional and chemical weapon munitions. In 1919, approximately 1 million chemical weapon shells were scattered about the site when a train carrying munitions exploded, after which the area had the appearance of a moonscape. The British military also used Munster for some field testing of chemical weapons munitions after World War II. Most of the munitions at Munster are German, but it also houses significant quantities of munitions produced by other countries during both world wars. The soil is also contaminated with metals, most notably arsenic, and one can readily uncover munitions in almost any given area on the facility grounds.

Currently, the chemical weapons destruction facility consists of three different plants. Munster I is used primarily to treat material that results from the dismantling of old chemical weapons munitions. Munster II is primarily used to clean soil, and Munster III is a static detonation chamber into which munitions are directly fed without disassembly. In Munster II, arsenic is removed from the soil by a soil-washing process, and then the remaining material that has a high concentration of arsenic is placed into a plasma-furnace system, which operates at a temperature of 1,200-1,500 degrees Celsius. Some arsenic is trapped in a nonleaching crystalline structure of vitrified glass slag and the rest is precipitated as arsenate (a salt) from the off-gas scrubber system.


Japan continues to uncover and destroy OCW dating from the Second World War. At the end of the war, stocks of Japanese weapons included yellow and red munitions, green agent (chloroacetophenone), blue agent (phosgene), brown agent (hydrogen cyanide), and white agent (trichlorarsine). Japan produced 75-millimeter, 90-millimeter, 105-millimeter, and 150-millimeter artillery shells; 15-kilogram and 50-kilogram bombs; and various canisters and drum containers. One of the first authoritative public disclosures by Japan in the English language of the nature and type of their known or probable locations was published in 1980. It stated that, since the end of the war, 102 accidents had occurred during destruction operations, resulting in 127 casualties and four deaths.[21]

A national survey carried out by Japan of OCW in the country in 1973 identified 18 sites that were presumed to have OCW at the end of World War II. OCW were also known to have been dumped in eight locations in the waters off the coast of Japan. In 2002 and 2003, construction workers were exposed to OCW in Samukawa Town and Hiratsuka City. Authorities also found arsenic in organic form in groundwater at Kamisu City. In 2003, Japan’s Ministry of the Environment undertook an effort to identify the scope of the problem and began recovery and destruction operations. The survey identified 114 sites on Japanese territory where the existence of OCW is known or suspected. Of these sites, the presence of OCW and their location are confirmed for four sites: Hiratsuka City, Kamisu City, Samukawa Town, and Narashino City. Narashino City is the site of a former school of the Japanese Imperial Army.[22]

A major recovery operation of munitions involving the use of magnetometers and divers has also been carried out since 2004 at Kanda Port in southwestern Japan, where dredging operations are underway to assist with the construction of an airport. Phase two of the operation involved the recovery of 100 50-kilogram yellow bombs and 500 15-kilogram red bombs. More than 1,200 chemical munitions have been destroyed since 2004, including 1,043 red bombs and 211 yellow bombs. The munitions are detonated in an explosive containment chamber that can be readily dismantled for use elsewhere. Particular attention has been devoted to ensuring the safe disposal of arsenic residues from the interior of the explosive containment chamber and the remnants of the munition bodies.[23]

CWC Requirements and Implementation Practice

The states-parties to the CWC have not been able to reach consensus on a number of implementation issues concerning OCW and ACW. None of these issues fundamentally undermine the efficacy of the CWC’s verification regime, but some of them may be taken up at the review conference. In particular, the states-parties still need to agree on guidelines for determining the usability of chemical weapons produced between 1925 and 1946, appropriate formats for declaring OCW and ACW, and who should pay for the inspection costs of OCW.

There is a lack of consensus on what constitutes usability. Some contend that both the munition body and chemical need be usable for the weapon to be considered as such. Others say that only either the munition body or the chemical need be usable to meet this standard. Usability guidelines are currently implemented according to two secretariat papers from 2000 on a case-by-case basis.[24]

The principal difficulty associated with agreeing on the declaration format for OCW and ACW was that states-parties felt that a weapon’s age and condition would make it difficult to provide detailed information because either it was not available or would be too dangerous for munition-disposal experts to try to obtain.[25] States-parties have periodically considered whether information is “available” or “relevant.” Some of the parties have also expressed a reluctance to engage in “historical research” projects. They typically express the wish only to declare the weapons and destroy them, thereby keeping to a minimum the financial and administrative burden required for effective OPCW verification.

Finally, states-parties have never formally agreed on whether the CWC requires that possessors of OCW should bear the full “direct costs”[26] of verification of destruction, although in practice they do. Instances may also occur where it is unclear whether a chemical weapon was produced before or after January 1, 1946. It is politically more acceptable to declare OCW than to declare the possession of chemical weapons and thus be labeled publicly as a chemical weapons possessor.


OCW and ACW will continue to pose a potential danger to humans and the environment for the foreseeable future. The fate of the arsenic in the destruction by-products of some of the chemical warfare agents has been a long-standing concern and technical challenge. There is also great uncertainty in the case of ACW in China on the difficulties associated with longer-term storage of possibly unstable munitions under conditions that cannot be fully analyzed in the abstract. Meeting these and other challenges will require continued cooperation and information sharing, including within the framework of the OPCW.[27]

Moreover, given the fact that chemical weapons produced before January 1, 1946, will continue to be recovered, an OPCW working group has suggested that the second review conference might consider the practicality of setting a deadline for the destruction of such weapons as they are recovered over the coming decades.

Technical and political expertise on old and abandoned chemical weapons (OACW) issues will be affected also by generational changes as munitions specialists retire or change fields. Here too the OPCW could help to serve as a mechanism to facilitate the transfer of relevant knowledge and expertise among the states-parties as they deal with this problem.

Finally, it is sometimes difficult to determine how the higher-level diplomatic statements of the states-parties relate to CWC implementation practice and what role the sending of signals to each other is playing within the broader political context. It is therefore important for outside observers to try to obtain a better understanding of the operational-level activities of CWC implementation and how they relate to the states-parties’ broader political interests and concerns. Although not all OACW implementation issues have been formally resolved, they are dealt with on an interim but fair basis that poses no serious challenge to the fundamental object and purpose of the CWC.

John Hart is head of the the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s Chemical and Biological Warfare Program (Nonproliferation and Export Controls Project) and co-author of the Historical Dictionary of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Warfare (2007).


1. Geert Mak, In Europe: Travels Through the Twentieth Century (London: Harvill Secker, 2007), pp. 96-97.

2. Ron Manley, “The Problem of Old Chemical Weapons Which Contain ‘Mustard Gas’ or Organoarsenic Compounds: An Overview,” in Arsenic and Old Mustard: Chemical Problems in the Destruction of Old Arsenical and “Mustard” Munitions, ed. Joseph F. Bunnett and Marian Mikolajczyk (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1998), p. 2; John Hart, “A Review of Sea-dumped Chemical Weapons,” Paper presented at “The Environment and the Common Fisheries Policy, Threats to and Constraints on Sustainability (Greenwich Forum),” Royal Society, London, January 27, 2000.

3. Between 3,500 and 4,000 shells are recovered annually, of which approximately 10-20 percent are chemical weapons.

4. Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling, and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction (CWC), Article II, paras. 5-6.

5. CWC, “Annex on Implementation and Verification,” Part IV (B), paras. 3, 4, 9, 10.

6. China, Italy, and Panama have declared ACW. Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, the United Kingdom, and the United States have declared OCW.

7. These six are Albania, India, Libya, Russia, South Korea, and the United States. South Korea is generally understood to be the sixth posesssor but has asked that it not be officially identified by the OPCW as such at the present time. Albania has completed the destruction of its stockpile.

8. OPCW, “Report of the Executive Council on the Performance of Its Activities in the Period From 8 July to 29 June 2007,” C-12/3, September 26, 2007, para. 2.32, pp. 8-9.

9. Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office, “Annual Report 2006-2007,” p. 54.

10. British Ministry of Defence, “Britain Completes Destruction of Old Chemical Weapons,” Defence News, March 27, 2007.

11. “Workers Find Poison Gas Shells at Ukraine Construction Site,” Deutsche Presse-Agentur, June 21, 2004. Munitions, mostly dating from World War II, are recovered every month in Ukraine. Daily reports on the recovery of old munitions is provided by the Ukrainian government at www.mns.gov.ua/daily/showdailyarchive.php.

12. OPCW, “Draft Report of the OPCW on the Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction in 2006,” C-12/CRP.1, June 27, 2007, p. 8.

13. Tine Missiaen, Jean-Pierre Henriet et al., Evaluation of the Paardenmarkt Site (Ghent, Belgium: University of Ghent: 2001).

14. Presentations by Belgian officials at Chemical Weapons Demilitarization Conference (CWD2007), Brussels and Poelkapelle, Belgium, May 2007.

15. Masanori Nishi, “Abandoned Chemical Weapons in China: Efforts for Early Destruction,” Presentation at CWD2007, Brussels, May 15, 2007.

16. Conference on Disarmament, “Some Information on Discovered Chemical Weapons Abandoned in China by a Foreign State,” CD/1127, February 18, 1992.

17. See CWC, “Annex on Implementation and Verification,” Part IV (B), para.15 (language agreed to by virtue of the fact that both governments are states-parties to the CWC).

18. “Statement by H. E. Mr. Takeshi Nakane, Ambassador, Director-General, Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Science Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the Eleventh Session of the Conference of the States Parties [to] the OPCW,” The Hague, December 5, 2006. On the type and quantity of chemical weapons in China, see Shigeyuki Hanaoka, Koji Nomura and Takeharu Wada, “Determination of Mustard and Lewisite Related Compounds in Abandoned Chemical Weapons (Yellow Shells) From Sources in China and Japan,” Journal of Chromatography A, Vol. 1101 (2006), pp. 268-277; Science Council of Japan, “Risk Assessment of Old and Abandoned Chemical Weapons and Development of Safe Advanced Destruction Technologies,” March 23, 2005.

19. “Japan: Daily Calls for Suspending Chemical Weapons Disposal Project in PRC,” FBIS-CHI-20071025, October 25, 2007 (from an original article in Tokyo Sankei Shimun).

20. Unnamed defense contractor, personal communication with author, February 2008.

21. H. Kurata, “Lessons Learned From the Destruction of the Chemical Weapons of the Japanese Imperial Forces,” in Chemical Weapons: Destruction and Conversion (London: Taylor & Francis, 1980), pp. 77-93.

22. Gen’ichiro Tsukada, “National Statement on CW Issues: Measures Against the Potential Hazard of OCWs in Japan,” Presentation to CWD2007, Brussels, May 15, 2007.

23. Takashi Washadi and Ryusuke Kitamura, “Destruction of Old Chemical Bombs Using DAVINCHTM at Kanda, Japan,” Presentation at CWD2007, Brussels, May 14-18, 2007.

24. OPCW, “Note by the Secretariat: Proposed Verification Measures for Old Chemical Weapons Produced Between 1925 and 1946,” S/166/2000, February 2000; OPCW, “Note by the Secretariat: Detailed Verification Measures for the Application of Usability Criteria for Chemical Weapons Produced Between 1925 and 1946,” S/231/2000, December 2000.

25. Ron Manley, “Preparing for Disarmament: Articles III, IV and V,” in OPCW: The Creation of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, A Case Study in the Birth of an Intergovernmental Organization, ed. Ian R. Kenyon and Daniel Feakes (The Hague: T.M.C. Asser Press, 2007), pp. 150-151.

26. These costs are incurred as a result of the inspection, as opposed to other costs that are incurred regardless of whether the inspection has taken place. The parties agreed to this understanding in order to avoid having the membership as a whole effectively subsidize the cost of verification of destruction of weapons possessed by a relatively small number of the states.

27. Thomas Stock, “Old and Abandoned Chemical Weapons Under the CWC: Challenges and Reality,” Paper presented at OPCW Academic Forum 2007, The Hague, September 18-19, 2007.

I hear a dull thud. A blue mist comes floating across the frosty fields. In the field behind the cemetery, the DOVO, the Belgian War Munition Demolition Service, has blown up another heap of First World War ammunition. They do it twice a day, one and a half tons a year. When the farmers find grenades, they leave them at the base of the utility masts, and the miners collect them. And so it goes on here. Generation after generation, this soil continues to vomit up grenades, buttons, buckles, knives, skulls, bottles, rifles, sometimes even a whole tank. The Great War never ends. (Continue)

Advances in Science and Technology and the Chemical Weapons Convention

Ralf Trapp

With the second review conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) approaching in April, a raft of studies have appeared making clear that fundamental changes in science and technology are affecting the implementation of the treaty and that it must be adapted to take account of them.[1]

The most significant development is the revolution in the life sciences and related technologies, including a growing overlap between chemistry and biology. There is a vastly increased understanding of the functioning of biological systems as a result of the mapping of the human and other genomes as well as of advances in structural biology and the study of proteins (proteomics). Information technology and engineering principles are increasingly integrated into biology. The intersection between chemistry and biology has further expanded thanks in part to the automation of synthesis and screening of chemical compounds enabling laboratories to assess vast numbers of new chemical structures and a much-enhanced understanding of how certain “chemicals of biological origin” act. Technological advances supplement these trends, for example, providing for more efficient means of delivering biologically active chemicals to target populations or targeting organs and receptors within an organism.

These developments are expected to bring many benefits, including new medical treatments and methods of pest control. At the same time, the capacity to discover or design new chemical structures that may have utility as chemical warfare agents has also increased significantly. Novel agents can be created far more quickly than ever before. In addition, advances in manufacturing technology have shortened other time requirements, enabling shortcuts in the progression from research and development to full-scale manufacturing. Changes in the chemical industry have dispersed technology and facilities, complicating verification and traditional nonproliferation strategies.

As a result, the time and effort needed to field a new chemical weapon has shrunk, particularly in the early stages, while the capability to detect such actions has not grown significantly. These trends and a recently increased interest in the use of incapacitants for law enforcement purposes raise at least the threat that states could skirt or quickly break out of the CWC prohibitions on developing and acquiring chemical weapons. It has also enlarged the overlap between the two otherwise quite separate treaties governing chemical and biological weapons, the CWC and the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). States-parties need to adapt the implementation of the CWC to account for these changes or risk diminishing confidence in its effectiveness and endangering its viability.

Advances in Technology and Industry

To be sure, many traditional obstacles remain to the development of chemical weapons in a state-level program. Most importantly, any potential agents must meet tough requirements before they can be fielded. These include the possibility of industrial-scale production, tactical mixtures that can be effectively disseminated and are sufficiently stable for long-term storage, effective dissemination equipment/devices, and adequate means of ensuring that one’s own forces are protected.

These constraints do not apply to the threats of terrorist chemical weapons use. The threat that terrorists may use toxic chemicals, however, correlates more closely with the accessibility of toxic materials than with the evolving scientific capability to develop novel agents in the laboratory. That is not to dismiss the concern, but the problem is less one of enforcing an international norm such as the CWC than of how states, companies, and research institutions can control access to chemical facilities and materials.

Technological change can also bring significant benefits to the fight against chemical weapons. For example, advances in nanotechnology are expected to help in developing more effective protections against agents, such as new detection devices (faster, cheaper, more sensitive, and more selective sensors), and improved filtration materials, means of decontamination, and medical countermeasures.

Still, these scientific and technological gains undoubtedly come with new concerns. Nanotechnology offers the possibility to engineer “smart” materials that respond to specific stimuli. It also promises a more efficient and targeted drug delivery via the respiratory system and other pathways. For example, it could facilitate the entry of toxic chemicals into the body or specific organs, in particular the brain, for selective reaction with specific gene patterns or proteins or for overcoming the immune reaction of the target organism. These developments may have significant applications as new medicines and treatments. They could, however, also be exploited for the development of new chemical warfare agents or the fine-tuning of existing ones. Any offensive chemical weapons program begun today would surely take advantage of these new methods and concepts.

Technological advances continue to change the manufacturing processes in the chemical industry. New processes are being introduced to increase efficiency and yield, including a range of new catalytic processes. The use of multipurpose equipment and the adoption of on-demand principles has become a common feature. Manufacturers adjust to changing market demands and increasingly use technologies and equipment that allow them to switch production output on short notice. Although allowing chemical plants to be converted to the production of new products, this also means that there is a risk of standby capabilities appearing that could easily and quickly be switched to supplying an offensive chemical weapons program.

A more recent development is the use of microreactors, which have begun moving from the laboratory to (limited) industrial production. One of the driving factors is safety: chemicals that are otherwise hazardous to manufacture, handle, or store can be produced safely on-site when needed. In addition, capital costs for such facilities are low, and many chemical reactions show improved reactivity, product yield, and selectivity when performed in microreactors. Microreactors allow companies to scale up a chemical process from laboratory to industrial scale more quickly and easily. Production output can be increased by combining multiple reactors in batteries, a process also known as “numbering-up.”

Of course, these advantages could also apply to new chemical warfare agents. The use of microreactors can significantly shorten the time required to synthesize new toxic chemicals for testing and development purposes. Microreactors can apply combinatorial principles to synthesize a series of related compounds for test purposes, or they can be used to make small quantities of toxic chemicals easily and quickly during the development of a new agent for weaponization. Worryingly, if states were to produce chemical weapons in such reactors, there would be fewer clues that might indicate to outsiders that such production was taking place. Traditional industrial-scale chemical weapons production facilities require heavy-duty ventilation systems, scrubbers, and high stacks. Because processing highly toxic or corrosive materials in microreactors produces fewer waste streams and reaction yields are much higher, there is less need for telltale pollution abatement systems.

In addition, structural change in the chemical industry could also pose risks to CWC implementation. Driven by market forces, the industry is moving from its traditional production locations (Japan, the United States, and western Europe) to new places in Asia, eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. Some of the countries involved in setting up new chemical operations have limited experience in regulating chemicals or weak implementation systems for the CWC. At the same time, international trade in chemicals is on the increase. These are challenges to the CWC’s verification system as well as to traditional nonproliferation measures in the chemical field.

Recommendations to the Review Conference

What, then, are the issues that the upcoming review conference ought to consider when it assesses the impact of advances in science and technology on the operation of the CWC?

A first is whether the CWC’s schedules, which attempt to characterize agents and precursors by their risk based on past weaponization and other factors, need to be amended. Currently, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the international body charged with implementing and verifying the CWC, and states-parties tightly control high-risk chemicals (Schedule 1). This is feasible because these agents and key precursors, as a rule, have very few legitimate uses. States and the OPCW less stringently control Schedule 2 and 3 chemicals, which have legitimate uses ranging from smaller-scale specialty chemicals to mass-produced chemicals and thus have much higher thresholds before such production triggers declarations and inspections. Should the growing overlap between chemistry and biology and the emergence of new biologically active compounds necessitate the inclusion of new chemicals into the schedules or are the schedules unfit to deal with these emerging risks? Including new chemicals with potential chemical weapons utility in Schedule 1 would severely hamper their legitimate uses. Listing them in Schedules 2 and 3 might be meaningless given the relatively high thresholds for declaration and inspection; many would simply fall through the net.

If the schedules were to remain as they are, there is a risk that the CWC verification system may get stuck in the past. One way to avoid this fate would be to step up the frequency and effectiveness of verification at other chemical production facilities (OCPFs) producing unscheduled discrete organic chemicals.[2] This relates to a number of issues: the overall number of OCPF inspections that is desirable, the amount of information available on these facilities to the OPCW Technical Secretariat, an improved site selection mechanism for inspections, the level of expertise at the OPCW to ensure that inspectors can adequately assess facility capabilities during an inspection, and the ability to use inspection methods such as sampling and on-site analysis. There is, however, a degree of reluctance to respond to the trends in chemicals manufacturing with a shift in verification focus. Some developing countries see suggestions to shift emphasis from verifying scheduled chemicals to OCPFs as an attempt to exercise control over the use of chemical technology and to shift the burden of verification to the developing world. They are therefore reluctant to accept that the OCPF verification regime needs to be further enhanced in response to trends in the chemical industry.

In a broader context, to adapt the CWC to the new challenges emanating from advances in the life sciences will require consideration of how best to reinforce the “general purpose criterion.”[3] This includes national implementation (legislation, regulations, and enforcement); the recognition that the schedules must not limit the scope of the CWC; and the need to ensure effective (self-)governance of the life sciences as well as industry. One example of this is the Responsible Care program, a global voluntary chemical industry initiative to improve health, safety, and environmental performance; communicate with stakeholders; and apply self-regulatory measures to ensure compliance with regulations, including the CWC.

A second issue relates to how verification can make use of new opportunities created by science and technology, such as new or improved verification equipment and methods. The OPCW has identified gaps in its tool box, for example, with regard to analyzing biomedical samples. This capability gap affects the OPCW’s ability to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use and should be closed swiftly. There are also efforts under way to improve further the OPCW’s capability to conduct environmental sampling and analysis on-site and to use other inspection methods. The review conference should encourage the OPCW Technical Secretariat to make best use of technological advances so as to maintain a high standard with regard to its verification methods and equipment.

A third issue is whether technological and scientific advances might aid the destruction of chemical weapons, particularly old and abandoned chemical weapons and those dumped in the sea.[4] This is an area where the review conference could encourage further cooperation between states-parties and the sharing of assessments, experience, and technological know-how.

A fourth issue is how advances in science and technology will help improve protection against chemical weapons. Many of these advances can help upgrade the protection against chemical agents, enhance decontamination capabilities, or lead to new medical countermeasures. This is important as states harden their structures against the menace of chemical terrorism. It will also have a deterrent effect against the use of chemical weapons by states that still remain outside the regime. The review conference should recognize the need to improve the protection against chemical weapons further, encourage cooperation and exchanges between the states-parties in this field, and call on the Technical Secretariat to help states-parties develop and improve their protective capabilities. For example, this could include exercises to simulate national and international response mechanisms to chemical incidents.

A fifth issue relates to the CWC objective to enhance international cooperation in the peaceful uses of chemistry. Recent scientific and technological advances will create many opportunities in this respect, but they must be pursued in recognition of the fact that international cooperation must be fully consistent with the CWC’s disarmament and nonproliferation obligations. There is therefore good reason to maintain a strong link between international cooperation programs and OPCW efforts to promote national implementation and ensure effective verification. The review conference should recognize that the OPCW is not a development agency but that its efforts with regard to industry verification as well as helping states-parties adopt national regulations and controls in the chemical field will facilitate trade and investment into the emerging chemical sectors of developing countries.

Finally, the arms control community has over the past four decades kept a clear demarcation between chemical and biological weapons. The CWC and the BWC have taken different directions with regard to a number of implementation issues, most prominently verification. In the real world of research and, increasingly, industry, the borders between the two fields are getting blurred. What the implications will be for the two regimes has yet to be fully understood. At the national level, there are signs of what one might call “regime conversion,” with some countries combining their national implementing agencies and mechanisms for the two conventions. There also is an overlap of efforts within the scientific and industrial communities to adopt governance mechanisms and ethical codes to prevent the misuse of chemical and biological sciences for hostile purposes.

The situation at the international level, however, is more complicated, particularly with regard to verification. It is difficult to understand how the CWC can successfully address the verification dimension of the increasing convergence between chemistry and biology without running into some of the same difficulties that prevented the adoption of a BWC verification protocol in 2001-2002.[5] There is thus a risk that the CWC review conference might set itself up for failure if it aimed too high. At the same time, it cannot ignore the advances in the life sciences and their effect on the CWC. The challenge will be to find the right balance in further developing the treaty’s verification system while enhancing national implementation, developing self-governance mechanisms, and involving all stakeholders in the implementation process.

How States Might Skirt the Chemical Weapons Ban

Ralf Trapp

It might be possible for states to carry out programs that could take advantage of new discoveries in science and technology to develop a novel agent while asserting that they are technically complying with Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) obligations.

The CWC allows for the use of toxic chemicals for “law enforcement purposes including domestic riot control.” The traditional interpretation of this clause has been that states-parties are clearly allowed to use riot control agents (RCAs) for domestic riot-control purposes subject to certain conditions in the CWC. Some have claimed that the provision has broader implications, for example, permitting occupying forces, such as those of the United States in Iraq, to use RCAs abroad.[1] Similarly, some states-parties have said that toxic chemicals other than RCAs could be used for law enforcement purposes. In particular, they have insisted that they consider the use of lethal chemicals for capital punishment consistent with the provisions of the CWC.

Internationally, the changing nature of armed conflict, with an increased focus on counterinsurgency and counterterrorism methods, has stimulated a renewed interest in so-called nonlethal weapons, including incapacitants. Advances in the life sciences could lead to the development of drugs that may match to an extent the pharmaceutical profile required of such weapons, and the very fact that progress in life science research may be seen to offer such opportunities could fuel further developments.

The implications are both legal and practical. On the legal side, the prohibition not to develop, produce, and stockpile (new generations of) chemical weapons could be seriously undermined. After all, there is no such thing as a nonlethal toxic chemical—lethality depends on such factors as the dosage, the vulnerabilities of the target population, and the methods and location of agent dispersal.[2] Moreover, in a military context, there is an additional factor: the agents would be used on a battlefield where other weapons are present (guns, artillery, aircraft, etc.), and incapacitants could increase the lethality of these conventional weapons if used in combined operations.

On the practical side, the remaining comfort that one could derive from the fact that it still may take considerable time to go from discovering a new agent to actually fielding an effective weapon would be gone. Inspectors might find chemical weapons at the stages of development, production, or stockpiling, and a state-party could claim that these arms were entirely legitimate as part of a program for law enforcement purposes.

To ensure transparency and promote confidence, some have proposed to make toxic chemicals intended for law enforcement purposes subject to declaration to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. This step may be premature, but it will be important that states-parties recognize this issue and start discussing the implications of these developments so as to prevent the emergence of a new generation of chemical weapons. The review conference would be the appropriate forum to initiate such a discussion.


1. See, for example, Kyle M. Ballard, “Convention in Peril? Riot Control Agents and the Chemical Weapons Ban,” Arms Control Today, September 2007, pp. 12-16.

2. British Medical Association, “The Use of Drugs as Weapons,” May 2007, located at www.bma.org.uk/ap.nsf/Content/drugsasweapons.



Ralf Trapp is an independent consultant on chemical and biological weapons disarmament. He formerly held senior positions at the Technical Secretariat of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.


1. The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) conducted an international workshop on the matter in April 2007 in Zagreb, Croatia, and submitted a report to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The OPCW’s Scientific Advisory Board prepared an interim report to the OPCW Working Group for the Preparation of the Second Review Conference. With the support of the Netherlands and the European Union, the OPCW held an Academic Forum and an Industry and Protection Forum, which looked at the strategic challenges for the CWC. Also, a number of national studies of these issues have been commissioned.

2. The CWC schedules focus on dual-use materials, the toxic chemicals and precursors that could be used for chemical weapons purposes. The OCPF regime attempts to capture chemical plants that may have an “intrinsic” technological capability to produce chemical warfare agents. This category encompasses a large part of the organic chemical industry with a wide array of chemical plants that pose varying degrees of risk to the CWC, ranging from highly-relevant multipurpose plants capable of switching production to a variety of chemicals on short notice to rather less-relevant, dedicated plants producing basic organic intermediates, fertilizers, and other mass products. For more detail, see Jonathan Tucker “Verifying the Chemical Weapons Ban: Missing Elements,” Arms Control Today, January/February 2007, pp. 6-13.

3. This is shorthand for a concept built into the definition of chemical weapons as well as the requirements for national implementation of the CWC. Rather than relying on a list of prohibited chemicals, the CWC considers any toxic chemical or precursor a chemical weapon unless it was intended for purposes not prohibited, such as for peaceful uses or for chemical defense, and only as long as their types and quantities can be justified by such legitimate purposes. The schedules must therefore not be confused with a list of prohibited chemicals or a definition of chemical weapons. Their sole purpose is to guide routine verification measures.

4. Given that Russia and the United States, for example, have agreed to destroy their stockpiles by 2012, new technologies are unlikely to make a major contribution to destruction efforts related to stockpiled chemical weapons. The IUPAC report noted that “[t]echnologies for the destruction of stockpile[d] chemical weapons have matured to a point, and timelines for the completion of [chemical weapons] destruction operations are such, that there is little point in reviewing emerging technology options for these destruction operations. Although there remain [chemical weapons] destruction facilities that have yet to be commissioned, the technology choices are well-known and assessed. Issues that may influence outstanding decisions on technology choices are largely in the legal, policy, regulatory, public awareness/education, and economic domains.” Mahdi Balali-Mood et al., “Impact of Scientific Developments on the Chemical Weapons Convention (IUPAC Technical Report),” Pure and Applied Chemistry, Vol. 80, No. 1 (2008), p. 189.

5. For a discussion of the reasons that led to the U.S. administration’s refusal to complete negotiations of the BWC verification protocol and of the measures subsequently adopted by the BWC review conference instead of such a protocol, see, for example, “The BWC After the Protocol: Previewing the Review Conference,” Arms Control Today, December 2001, pp. 13-18; Kerry Boyd, “BWC Review Conference Meets, Avoids Verification Issues,” Arms Control Today, December 2002, p. 21.

With the second review conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) approaching in April, a raft of studies have appeared making clear that fundamental changes in science and technology are affecting the implementation of the treaty and that it must be adapted to take account of them. (Continue)

Getting Down to the Hard Cases: Prospects for CWC Universality

Daniel Feakes

When states-parties to the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) gather next month in The Hague for their second review conference, the plenary sessions will be unusually full, and for good reason. Since the ban on developing, producing, stockpiling, transferring, or using chemical weapons entered into force in April 1997, the CWC has won support at an unprecedented rate for a multilateral arms control agreement.

The number of states-parties has increased from 87 at entry into force to 183 now with an additional five who have signed but not ratified the convention. The CWC is thus closing in on the goal of universal membership. Only seven states have neither signed nor ratified the pact. Still, bringing these remaining holdouts into the regime will be far from easy, particularly those countries that are in the Middle East.

Given this challenge, CWC states-parties and the treaty’s implementing body, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), need to decide how much attention to devote to winning these states’ full membership in the treaty regime as it moves into its second decade in force. After all, no international arms control treaty has ever attracted universal adherence; the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) is closest with only three nonmember states and a fourth state, North Korea, whose legal status is uncertain, not to mention that many CWC states-parties have yet to fully implement their commitments under the treaty. Plus, the organization faces new responsibilities and limited resources in coping with scientific and technological changes and new verification challenges.

Nonetheless, universality has rightly been a key priority during the CWC’s first decade and should be in the next. Many of the key holdouts lie in the Middle East and, given the region’s tensions and history, are among those most likely to use chemical arms. The absence of even small states from the CWC could undermine the treaty by providing safe havens or transshipment points for nonstate actors and smuggling networks. Universal adherence would strengthen the norm against chemical weapons by demonstrating that this principle is accepted in many different political, cultural, religious, economic, and legal settings. Moreover, the number of states adhering to a treaty is one criterion used to judge whether it forms a rule of international customary law and thus is binding on all states whether or not they have joined.

Status of the CWC

The CWC was opened for signature in January 1993, and initial assumptions were that the 65 ratifications required for entry into force would be deposited quickly. These hopes proved optimistic as ratification slipped off the political agenda in many countries and the drafting of new regulations and primary legislation led to inevitable delay. Instead, it took until October 1996 to gather the required ratifications. These did not include Russia or the United States, the two then-admitted and -largest possessors of chemical weapons. Indeed, it was unclear whether either of the Cold War superpowers would ratify the treaty as original states-parties before it was slated to enter into force in April 1997. In the end, the United States ratified the CWC days before it entered into force, following a protracted Senate battle, and Russia ratified it in November 1997.

Since then, membership of the CWC has increased steadily and is now approaching universality. In particular, the number of states-parties increased more rapidly after the treaty’s first review conference in 2003 approved an action plan[1] to achieve this goal: the number of states outside the CWC has fallen from 40 in 2003 to 12 in 2007.

Each of the 12 remaining holdout states has its own unique reasons for remaining outside of the CWC. Bearing this in mind, they can be grouped into the following clusters.

Angola, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, and Guinea-Bissau

In theory these four states (one nonsignatory and three signatories) should be the easiest to persuade to join the CWC. They are mostly fairly small countries with no history of chemical weapons possession, no serious external threats to their security, and small chemical industries. Angola differs from the other three in that chemical weapons were allegedly used during the country’s civil war, although no such use was ever confirmed. The main obstacles in these countries are now logistical and resource constraints rather than political issues. An OPCW Technical Secretariat background paper for the treaty’s first review conference identified a number of factors that have distracted attention from the CWC in such countries, including AIDS, desertification and drought, poverty, and debt.[2] OPCW Director-General Rogelio Pfirter told the 2007 Conference of the States Parties (CSP) that such countries “fully support” the CWC.[3] It is therefore likely that all four will join in the relatively near future.


Iraq is a special case given its previous possession and use of chemical weapons, UN verification and destruction activities, and the 2003 invasion and subsequent fruitless search for that country’s presumed chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. Under Saddam Hussein, Iraq refused even to sign the CWC, but it is now very close to becoming a member state. In November 2007, the Iraqi Presidential Council endorsed a bill on Iraq’s accession, and the Iraqi Foreign Ministry announced that accession would occur in the near future.[4] It will mark the culmination of a process that began in 2004 soon after sovereignty was returned to Iraq. Since then, Iraqi officials attended every session of the annual CSP and at least two sessions of the Executive Council (the OPCW’s governing board) as observers and have participated in several OPCW regional seminars and workshops. In addition, the organization’s Technical Secretariat has organized four training workshops for Iraqi officials. Iraq has also begun the process of preparing its initial declaration to the OPCW. Iraq’s imminent accession is unlikely to lead to major shifts in the views of Egypt, Israel, or Syria on whether to join the CWC, although it will further isolate those Middle Eastern states still refusing to do so.[5]

Lebanon, Myanmar, and Somalia

This group is slightly disparate, but all three share varying degrees of serious internal political tensions that have delayed CWC membership. Lebanon could accede in the very near future as it is at an advanced stage in the process of accession, having completed the necessary parliamentary procedures. The current inability of the Lebanese parliament to elect a new president has slowed the process. Myanmar had been proceeding well toward ratification, but its efforts “now seem to have paused,” according to Pfirter. Allegations of chemical weapons possession and use by Myanmar have been made but remain unproven. The long-running lack of a functioning government in Somalia and the current humanitarian crisis mean that CWC accession by Somalia in the near future is probably unlikely.

Egypt, Israel, and Syria

The Middle East is the most serious obstacle to achieving CWC universality. Indeed, the situation seems unfavorable to any form of arms control.[6] The CWC’s prohibitions should most rapidly be extended to the region, however, given that Egypt, Israel, and Syria are all widely identified as chemical weapons possessors and that the two most recent conflicts involving these arms (Egypt’s intervention in Yemen in the 1960s and the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s) took place in the Middle East. These factors combined with the existing tensions in the region mean that the area could witness the use of such weapons. In addition, Iran, although a CWC member state, is suspected by some of possessing a chemical weapons capability, although this claim is unproven and Iran is subject to routine OPCW inspections.[7]

There have been past attempts to establish a regional arms control infrastructure. In April 1990, Egypt proposed a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone (WMDFZ), and all states in the region have since committed themselves to this goal, at least in principle.[8] During the 1990s, the Arms Control and Regional Security (ACRS) Working Group met as part of the Middle East peace process. The ACRS collapsed in the mid-1990s mainly due to the dispute between Egypt and Israel regarding nuclear weapons.[9]

The main obstacle to breaking the CWC deadlock in the Middle East is the political linkage between chemical and nuclear weapons made by Arab states. Many refused to sign the CWC in 1993, although since then all Arab League states except Egypt, Lebanon, Somalia, and Syria have joined the convention, thus eroding this policy. Complicating the situation is the fact that the linkage works both ways, with some analysts citing the chemical weapons stockpiles of neighboring countries as justification for Israel’s nuclear arsenal. As Pfirter put it, in the Middle East, chemical weapons are “hostage” to nuclear weapons. The OPCW has been trying to decouple nuclear and chemical weapons, hoping to make progress on chemical arms independently and thereby building confidence that could then contribute to progress in other areas.[10] One of the key issues is which country takes the first step toward decoupling. Israel is reluctant to make the first move after its decision to sign the CWC in 1993 was not reciprocated by key Arab states, despite U.S. diplomatic pressure. If this can be overcome, Libya’s 2004 accession as a possessor state offers a possible model for others in the region to follow.

Little is known publicly about the chemical weapons programs of Egypt or Syria and the internal thinking behind either country’s policy toward the CWC. Both are widely assumed to possess such capabilities,[11] and Egypt is alleged to have used chemical arms in the 1960s in Yemen and assisted Iraq’s chemical weapons program in the 1980s.[12] Egypt was an active participant in the CWC negotiations and was widely expected to join the CWC. Egypt was instead the most vocal proponent of the linkage policy and, along with Syria, refused to sign the CWC in 1993. Neither state has officially confirmed that they possess chemical weapons, but both are likely to view such stockpiles as a strategic counterbalance to Israel’s nuclear weapons. During the 1990s, Egypt held firmly to the linkage policy by not joining consensus on the annual CWC resolution in the UN General Assembly and preventing the Organization for African Unity from calling for CWC universality. Syria adopted a similarly standoffish approach to the CWC. Since 2003, however, both countries have become more engaged with the OPCW while maintaining their concerns about the regional security situation. Egypt and Syria have since sent participants to OPCW regional workshops and have participated in recent universality seminars. Egypt attended the 2006 CSP as an observer, and in April 2007, Pfirter visited Cairo. In October 2007, he told the UN First Committee that Egypt (and Israel) had kept the door open “for a constructive dialogue.”[13]

Like Egypt and Syria, little is known publicly about Israel’s chemical weapons capability and whether it still remains active.[14] Much more is known about the domestic debate surrounding Israel’s policy toward the CWC. Unlike Egypt and Syria, Israel is a CWC signatory, binding it politically to the treaty’s objectives and purposes. Its status also allowed Israel to participate in the meetings prior to the treaty’s entry into force, which it did actively. Despite its participation, Israel decided in 1997 not to ratify, following a lengthy internal political debate. Israel’s reluctance is based on its perception of the security situation in the Middle East and its requirement for verifiable arms control regimes and normalized relations with its neighbors. Unilateral ratification was considered in 1997 but rejected, despite the potential for damage to the Israeli chemical industry from the CWC’s trade restrictions if Israel did not join. Instead, security concerns dominated the debate. Israel likely views such possession in terms of retaliation-in-kind for chemical weapons attacks by others and as an intermediate deterrent between its conventional and nuclear options.[15]

Israel also has concerns about the CWC’s on-site verification regime, presumably due to fears of a challenge inspection at one of its nuclear facilities.[16] Indeed, during the preparatory meetings, Israel strived to water down the on-site inspection procedures. As a CWC signatory, Israel has remained engaged by sending observers to the CSPs and participating in regional workshops and seminars. Israel’s engagement has increased since 2003, with a visit from the director-general in April 2006 and participation in recent universality seminars. Senior Israeli delegations have also twice visited OPCW headquarters in The Hague, most recently and most interestingly the day after Pfirter had visited Cairo.

North Korea

Even less is known publicly about the chemical weapons capability of North Korea, but it is widely suspected of possessing a substantial program.[17] Whereas the OPCW has been able to make contact with other nonmember states, North Korea has not responded to any OPCW overtures. This issue has been overshadowed by the ongoing negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear weapons, especially since its nuclear test in 2006 and the ongoing disablement of its nuclear program. If the nuclear question is satisfactorily resolved, however, attention could turn to Pyongyang’s chemical weapons program, although North Korean officials might oppose extending the process to such arms. Perhaps the fact that South Korea is a declared chemical weapons possessor and is destroying its stockpile in accordance with the CWC could have some influence on the North.[18] The adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1718 in October 2006 may also have increased the likelihood of international attention, as it not only requires the North to abandon its nuclear program but also “all other existing weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programme in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.” These other programs are not specified, but the best way for North Korea to abandon its suspected chemical weapons program in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner would be to join the CWC as a possessor state as Libya did in 2004. For that to happen, it would probably require a lengthy process of secret negotiations and diplomatic pressure from key countries, such as China and the United States.

The OPCW Approach to Universality

Even if a government is inclined to join the CWC, doing so is not a simple matter. In most countries, initial consideration of whether to join takes place within the foreign ministry. The foreign ministry then consults with other ministries and domestic stakeholders, such as the chemical industry, and recommends a course of action to the executive. In some countries, the executive can then deposit the instrument of ratification or accession; in others, prior parliamentary approval is required. This whole process can be extremely prolonged, with delay at any stage, whether due to interdepartmental opposition, crowded parliamentary agendas, national elections, changes in government, or bureaucratic politics. Of the 12 remaining nonmember states, some are at an advanced stage in this process, while others have not yet begun.

The OPCW Technical Secretariat and member states undertake a range of activities to encourage holdouts to complete this process, part of an innovative OPCW approach to universality that has since been imitated by other organizations. At the time that the treaty was signed, the conventional wisdom was that “a state’s decision to join a security-related treaty is strictly an internal, sovereign matter.”[19] The slow progress toward entry into force, however, led to a more proactive approach. Sergey Batsanov, who was deeply involved in the process, said the OPCW departed from “the experience of ‘older’ multilateral arms control regimes” and took “a hands-on role in persuading new states to join and helping them to develop domestic implementing legislation and regulations, while taking into account their specific political, legal, and economic conditions.”[20]

Regional seminars were and still are an essential tool in raising awareness as well as providing information on CWC implementation requirements. The OPCW also uses bilateral meetings with officials from nonmember states, and when possible, Pfirter visits such states to press the case for CWC membership. On occasion, the OPCW has also been involved in behind-the-scenes negotiations with, for example, Afghanistan, Libya, Serbia and Montenegro, and Sudan, and it made a low-profile contribution to the successful ratification processes in the United States and Russia.[21] Consecutive CSPs since 1997 have urged full universality, particularly for those states believed to possess chemical weapons. The OPCW has also been able to count on the active support of the United Nations and its secretary-general, who acts as depositary of the CWC.

Alongside the Technical Secretariat, OPCW member states have been equally active in promoting universality through demarches, visits and meetings, and action within international and regional organizations. Individual member states have also made voluntary contributions supporting the OPCW’s universality activities or have sponsored or hosted events such as regional seminars. The OPCW has developed strong working relationships with regional organizations that have in turn promoted CWC universality in their own specific contexts. The European Union has provided significant financial and diplomatic support. Assistance from member states is most useful when they have historical, cultural, or linguistic links with a nonmember state or when they carry a significant influence due to economic or other relations. For example, the EU has drafted a nonproliferation clause for insertion into its bilateral trade agreements, including some that are not CWC member states. The clause commits its signatories to take “steps to sign, ratify, or accede to, as appropriate, and fully implement all other relevant international instruments.”[22] The EU and Syria signed an association agreement containing the clause in 2004, but the EU has deemed that political circumstances so far are not good for ratification. By linking arms control and trade issues, the EU hopes to exert more leverage over nonmember states. Assistance from member states is likely to become more important as the number of nonmembers decreases and those remaining have serious political or security concerns.

Besides the activities of the Technical Secretariat and member states, the CWC itself also contains incentives for states to join, most explicitly the treaty’s restrictions on chemical trade with nonmember states. These were first proposed by President George H. W. Bush in 1991 to “provide tangible benefits for those states that join the Convention and significant penalties for those that fail to support it.”[23] Trade with nonmember states in two of the CWC’s three categories of controlled chemicals is already banned, and trade in the third category could also be banned.[24]

The ability of states-parties to request assistance and protection in the event of a chemical weapons attack is the flip side of the universality coin. The CWC attempts to negate the risk that, in forgoing a chemical weapons option, states could put themselves at a strategic disadvantage vis-à-vis other states. The CWC does this by giving each state-party the right to request assistance and protection if it believes chemical weapons have been used against it or their use is being threatened. Another incentive is provided by the CWC’s provisions aimed at economic and technological development under which member states are supposed to be able to participate in the fullest possible exchange of chemicals, equipment, and scientific and technical information. To meet this goal, the OPCW has supported internships, research projects, and laboratories in developing member states, although such programs do not go far enough for some developing countries

The Second Review Conference and Beyond

The not too distant future could see the CWC reach a stage similar to that of the NPT, with perhaps only four nonmember states—Egypt, Israel, North Korea, and Syria. However, achieving this status will require continued, intensive work by the OPCW and its member states. The upcoming review conference could usefully urge the remaining nonmember states to join as soon as possible and instruct the Technical Secretariat and member states to continue providing assistance. The conference should also commend the 2002 action plan and its achievements to date and renew its mandate for as long as required. Targeted pressure and bilateral assistance should be maintained on Angola, the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Lebanon, Myanmar, and Somalia until they complete their ratification or accession processes. Getting all of these states into the CWC will further isolate and highlight the remaining nonmembers. States remaining outside of the CWC by this stage will be leaving themselves open to serious suspicions that they possess chemical weapons at a time when, given the almost universal nature of the CWC, possession is seen as entirely illegitimate and in contravention of international customary law.

The Middle East is likely to remain the key sticking point, leaving total CWC universality dependent on a resolution of the wider political and security situation in the region. There are intermediate steps that the OPCW and its member states could encourage that might contribute to a wider political solution. These would depend on further progress in the OPCW’s attempts to decouple consideration of chemical and nuclear weapons, which would likely require support from key actors, such as the United States or the EU. Arab efforts to link these issues have already largely eroded, and if Egypt and Syria remain its only adherents, enough diplomatic and economic pressure could be put on both states to encourage them to accede. In that situation, Israel would have little remaining justification in not ratifying. Israel could also be encouraged to join by OPCW member states agreeing to actively consider a trade ban on Schedule 3 chemicals. CWC adherence by all three states could be undertaken in a carefully stage-managed, reciprocal process modeled on Libya’s accession in 2004 or the 1968 Syrian and 1969 Israeli accessions to the 1925 Geneva Protocol. Such a process would require high-level support and involvement from key states in cooperation with the OPCW, but it could make a significant contribution to confidence building in the region, as well as efforts to create a WMDFZ.

The second review conference may find it useful to strengthen the link between universality and national implementation. Many new member states find that they need advice and assistance to implement the treaty nationally while others draft their national implementing legislation prior to joining and therefore require assistance with ratification, accession, and national implementation before joining. Rather than maintaining a distinction, Batsanov suggests an integrated approach, perhaps through a combined task force.[25] There are also clear overlaps with UN Security Council Resolution 1540, which requires all states to implement a variety of domestic measures to prevent nonstate actors from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery, and related materials. The conference should encourage continued collaboration between the OPCW and the 1540 Committee. It is important to remember that “universality comprises more than just numbers of states parties.”[26] Getting a state to join the CWC is only the start of a long-term process. CWC adherence counts for little if states then do not follow through on their obligation to effectively implement the treaty domestically. Even in a world of universal CWC membership, the threat of safe havens will remain unless all states enact implementing legislation. So, although complete CWC universality would be a significant step on the road toward a world free of chemical weapons, even if that goal is achieved, much work will remain to be done.

Daniel Feakes is a research fellow at the Science & Technology Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex, co-editor of The Creation of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons: A Case Study in the Birth of an Intergovernmental Organization (2007), and creator of the website cwc2008.org, which highlights the upcoming Chemical Weapons Convention review conference.


1. Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), “Action Plan for the Universality of the Chemical Weapons Convention,” EC-M-23/DEC.3, October 24, 2003. As a document of the OPCW Executive Council, the action plan is not publicly available, but it has been reproduced. See Scott Spence, “Achieving Effective Action on Universality and National Implementation: The CWC Experience,” in Strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention, Review Conference Paper No. 13, ed. Graham Pearson and Malcolm Dando, April 2005, annex II.

2. OPCW, “Background Paper on Universal Adherence to the Chemical Weapons Convention,” RC-1/S/5, April 25, 2003, p. 6.

3. OPCW, “Opening Statement by the Director-General to the Conference of the States-Parties at Its Twelfth Session,” C-12/DG.11, November 5, 2007, p. 14.

4. Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Chief of Organizations and International Cooperation Department at Foreign Ministry Stresses Presidency’s Endorsement on Law of Iraq’s Affiliation to Agreement of Prohibition, Storage and Using of Chemical Weapons,” November 22, 2007.

5. Markus Binder, “Iraq Moves Toward CWC Accession,” WMD Insights, December 2007-January 2008.

6. Dalia Dassa Kaye, “Time for Arms Talks? Iran, Israel, and Middle East Arms Control,” Arms Control Today, November 2004, pp. 6-10.

7. Dany Shoham, “Image vs. Reality of Iranian Chemical and Biological Weapons,” International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence, Vol. 18, No. 1 (Winter 2004), pp. 89-141.

8. The 1995 and 2000 NPT review conferences endorsed the idea of a Middle East WMDFZ. For more on a WMDFZ, see Jan Prawitz, “A Note on the Proposed Zone Free of Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East,” Paper presented at the Second Conference on the Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone, School of Oriental and African Studies, London, September 17-18, 2007.

9. Bruce W. Jentleson and Dalia Dassa Kaye, “Security Status: Explaining Regional Security Cooperation and Its Limits in the Middle East,” Security Studies, Vol. 8, No. 1 (September 1998), p. 205.

10. “Steps Toward Universality: An Interview With Rogelio Pfirter, Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons,” Arms Control Association, September 23, 2005, www.armscontrol.org/interviews/20050923_Pfirter.asp.

11. On Egypt, see Dany Shoham, “Chemical and Biological Weapons in Egypt,” Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 5, No. 3 (Spring-Summer 1998). On Syria, see Magnus Normark et al., “Syria and WMD: Incentives and Capabilities,” Swedish Defence Research Agency, FOI-R--1290—SE, June 2004.

12. On the Yemen allegations, see The Prevention of CBW: The Problem of Chemical and Biological Warfare, Vol. V (Stockholm: Almqvist and Wiksell, 1971), pp. 225-238. On Egyptian assistance to Iraq, see Central Intelligence Agency, “Comprehensive Report of the Special Adviser to the DCI on Iraq’s WMD,” Vol. III (September 30, 2004), p. 63.

13. OPCW, “Statement by HE Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter, Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons,” October 17, 2007.

14. See, for example, Magnus Normark et al., “Israel and WMD: Incentives and Capabilities,” Swedish Defence Research Agency, FOI-R--1734—SE, December 2005.

15. Eitan Barak, “Israel, the CWC and the Universality Objective: The View From Jerusalem,” The CBW Conventions Bulletin, June 2005, pp. 3-4.

16. Avner Cohen, “Israel and Chemical/Biological Weapons: History, Deterrence and Arms Control,” Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 8, No. 3 (Fall-Winter 2001), pp. 46-47.

17. See Elisa D. Harris, “Threat Reduction and North Korea’s CBW Programs,” Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 11, No. 3 (Fall-Winter 2004); International Institute for Strategic Studies, “North Korea’s Weapons Programmes: A Net Assessment,” January 2004.

18. There are five remaining declared chemical weapons possessor states in the OPCW: India, Libya, Russia, the United States, and an unidentified country known in OPCW publications as “A State Party.” This is widely acknowledged to be South Korea. A sixth possessor, Albania, completed destruction of its stockpile in July 2007.

19. Sergey Batsanov, “Approaching the Tenth Anniversary of the Chemical Weapons Convention: A Plan for Future Progress,” Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 13, No. 2 (July 2006), p. 341.

20. Ibid.

21. Ibid.

22. Council of the European Union, “Fight Against the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction: Mainstreaming Non-proliferation Policies Into the EU’s Wider Relations With Third Countries,” 14997/03, November 19, 2003.

23. The White House, “Statement by the President on Chemical Weapons Initiative,” May 13, 1991. The statement is accompanied by a fact sheet on the Chemical Weapons Initiative. The proposed restrictions were detailed in a subsequent U.S. working paper tabled in Geneva. See “Measures to Ensure Universality,” CD/CW/WP.357, August 8, 1991.

24. Trade in Schedule 1 chemicals with nonmember states was banned starting with the entry into force of the CWC. These chemicals have been developed or used as chemical weapons, pose a high risk to the object and purpose of the CWC, and have little or no use for other purposes. A ban on trade in Schedule 2 chemicals came into force in 2000. These chemicals pose a significant risk to the object and purpose of the CWC, can be used as precursors for Schedule 1 chemicals, and are not produced in large commercial quantities. A ban on Schedule 3 trade has been possible since 2002, but member states have not reached consensus on this issue. Jonathan B. Tucker, “Strengthening the CWC Regime for Transfers of Dual-Use Chemicals,” The CBW Conventions Bulletin, March 2007, p. 2.

25. Batsanov, “Approaching the Tenth Anniversary of the Chemical Weapons Convention,” p. 352.

26. Jean-Pascal Zanders, “The Chemical Weapons Convention and Universality: A Question of Quality Over Quantity?” Disarmament Forum, No. 4 (2002), p. 23.

When states-parties to the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) gather next month in The Hague for their second review conference, the plenary sessions will be unusually full, and for good reason. Since the ban on developing, producing, stockpiling, transferring, or using chemical weapons entered into force in April 1997, the CWC has won support at an unprecedented rate for a multilateral arms control agreement. (Continue)

A World Free of Nuclear Weapons: An Interview With Nuclear Threat Initiative Co-Chairman Sam Nunn

Interviewed by Daryl G. Kimball and Miles A. Pomper

Sam Nunn has long been a leader in the U.S. national security community. A Democrat from Georgia, Nunn served four terms in the U.S. Senate from 1972 to 1996, including as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He is currently co-chairman and chief executive officer of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nongovernmental organization dedicated to reducing the risk of the use and spread of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.

In January 2007 and this past January, Nunn and three other senior U.S. statesmen from both parties—former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz and former Secretary of Defense William Perry—co-authored op-ed articles in The Wall Street Journal calling for the United States to champion the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons and outlining several immediate steps toward achieving this goal. On January 24, Arms Control Today met with the former senator to discuss this initiative and relevant U.S. arms control and nonproliferation policies.[1]

ACT: In essays in The Wall Street Journal in January 2007 and January 2008, you and other prominent Americans called for “a world free of nuclear weapons,” asserting that the current approach to dealing with nuclear dangers is inadequate. How did all of you arrive at this dire conclusion and ambitious solution?

Nunn: I think all of us probably arrived at the conclusion at different times and different ways. We then converged together with that view over a period of several months. In my own case, it was several years of my evolution to [come to] that conclusion.

I believe that the threat has fundamentally changed. We went through the Cold War, where we had a great danger of escalation from conventional [warfare] to tactical nuclear weapons, right up the ladder to strategic nuclear weapons. I was convinced that, at the battlefield front, [NATO’s] military people were going to ask for nuclear release at the very beginning of any conventional war. So I spent a great deal of time in the Senate to try and strengthen conventional forces in Europe so we could raise the nuclear threshold and make it where we would have at least several days, maybe even weeks, to make a decision [to go nuclear].

[More recently,] the work we’ve done with the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI)—particularly on the fuel bank,[2] securing and reducing nuclear material stockpiles, trying to convert reactors around the globe from using highly enriched uranium to low-enriched uranium,[3] and advocating a fissile material cutoff[4]—has convinced me that we simply are not going to get the cooperation we need around the globe to take the steps that are essential for our security without having a restoration of the vision that was laid down in the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Whether we agree on the interpretation or not, the world perceives that the countries with nuclear weapons made a pledge to step-by-step reduce them, make them less relevant, and eventually get rid of them.[5]

The nuclear fuel bank is aimed at trying to prevent proliferation of uranium-enrichment facilities all over the globe.[6] But when you start talking to people about the fuel bank, you find out pretty quickly that there’s no interest even among our best friends, in setting up another have and have-not regime: those who have and can enrich uranium and those who have not and will not be able to enrich. That is why it’s hard to get traction in terms of sanctions against Iran. It’s hard to get unity on a lot of things and, I think, it will get increasingly difficult.

Therefore, in my view, we’re moving toward a nuclear nightmare with more enrichment, more nuclear materials, and more know-how around the globe and terrorist groups who have made it very clear they are doing everything they can to get these weapons. Thus, I believe the vision and the steps go together. The way I like to express it is that we ought to make nuclear weapons less relevant and less important, prevent nuclear weapons or materials from getting in the hands of dangerous people, and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons as a threat to the world.

ACT: What do you think are the biggest challenges in convincing nuclear-weapon states to pursue this kind of path?

Nunn: People don’t know that the nuclear-weapon states have a hard time thinking about national security without nuclear weapons. They’ve become so relevant. For a time in the early 1990s after the Soviet Union broke up, I thought it was an opportune time to make nuclear weapons a lot less relevant, particularly with the Nunn-Lugar program.[7] But that time passed for a lot of reasons that you can debate. I think that expanding NATO and putting the military first after the collapse of the Soviet Union rather than making an economic expansion with the European Community was a fundamental mistake. It gave the Russians the feeling that they were, as they pretty much are, excluded from European defense and security. Now, the Russians are in the position that we were in when we ordered up thousands of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. They feel that their conventional forces are not strong enough, requiring them to have not only a nuclear deterrent in a very active way, but a heavy reliance on battlefield nuclear weapons and first use. It’s not unusual that the Russians would come to that conclusion. That’s the conclusion we had during the Cold War. I think the nuclear powers have varying reasons [for possessing nuclear weapons], but it all goes to dependency on nuclear weapons psychologically.

With U.S. conventional capabilities now and with the disappearance of the Warsaw Pact, I really think we are in a totally different threat environment. The current threat environment is one where not only is there no need to have a confrontation with the Russians, but there’s every reason for our own security to have cooperation. While the threat environment has changed, the psychology of nuclear weapons for the nuclear powers in most cases has not changed. That would apply to India and Pakistan for obvious reasons. It would apply to Israel and the Middle East. It would apply to China. Everybody is kind of looking at everybody else.

I describe moving toward zero as climbing a mountain, the top of the mountain being zero nuclear weapons. We might not get there in my lifetime, but we need to be heading up the mountain, not down the mountain. We have to head up the mountain together. It’s not going to be a unilateral move. It’s going to have to be moving up the mountain together and hopefully reaching a plateau so that our children and grandchildren can at least get out their binoculars and see the top of the mountain.

ACT: Which steps up the mountain would you say are the most important?

Nunn: I have my own pet rocks. I think working with the Russians on missile defense is enormously important because if that does not happen, we are going to make all these other steps, which involve the Russians, much less likely and much more difficult. On the other hand, working with the Russians on missile defense and early-warning systems could open up the door for a lot of other things.

If I had to say what would do more good than any one single thing in terms of improving American and Russian security, it would be extending warning times. I haven’t been briefed on the U.S. warning time in a long time because it’s classified. But whatever it is, it is minutes.[8] It’s insane for us, 16 years after the Cold War, to think of the Russian president having four or five minutes to make a decision about whether what may be a false warning requires a response before he loses his retaliatory force. It is insane. That’s fundamentally against American security interests. The Russians can make a mistake. Radars and satellites can go wrong. So we ought to ask ourselves why we don’t work with the Russians to give them more warning time. They need to ask themselves why they don’t work with us to give us more warning time.

ACT: What in particular on missile defense would you do? The most recent essay talked about a cooperative approach. When and how do you think the United States and Russia should reach a cooperative approach on missile defense, particularly missile defense in Europe?

Nunn: I was glad to see Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice go to Moscow with proposals. Evidently it took a long time for the bureaucracy to put those proposals in writing, and when they put them in writing, there were certain things left out from the Russian perspective.[9] Still, I think it was a big step forward for them to go over there. George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, and I all strongly recommended that after we met in Russia last July with a group led by [former Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny] Primakov. We came back saying missile defense was very important, so we hope that we had something to do with Gates and Rice going over there. They went, and I think that was very good.

When I say cooperative, I think the two presidents have to make it clear to the people under them that this is strategic, not tactical, and that the militaries are expected to take whatever the obstacles are and work the problems.

The thing is that [the Bush administration] is basically deploying a system that’s not mature against a threat that’s not mature.[10] The Russians don’t agree on the threat. One of the things I mean by cooperation is a joint threat assessment. I proposed that recently to President [George W.] Bush. I proposed a joint intelligence assessment on the threat. It doesn’t have to be just the Iranian threat, but the generic missile threat. That would tell you how much time you’ve got and where differences exist. If you don’t agree on the threat, it’s going to be ultra hard to agree on the response.

Warning time is similar. I proposed to both [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and Bush in the last six months what I just basically said to you. I suggested respectfully that they tell their military leaders, “We want more warning time. If it’s ‘x’ now, we want it to be ‘2x.’ You give us the steps. We want you to work out the details.”

What is it that makes Russia think it has to launch quickly? What is it that makes Russia think, in the tactical area, that it needs the option of first use? What is it that makes NATO continue to say it has to have first use? Start working those problems because insecurities are on both sides. Beyond the prestige factor—we’ve made nuclear weapons too important—the underlying factor is insecurity. So we have to work the insecurity problems with the United States and Russia and then in every region of the world if we’re ever going to go up the mountain. We have to work regional insecurity problems. “We” are the United States and other nuclear powers, as well as the regional powers.

ACT: The May 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) commits the United States and Russia to each lower their strategic operational forces to less than 2,200 strategic warheads by 2012, which is when the treaty expires. Should there be a follow-on treaty to SORT, and how low should the numbers go?

Nunn: I would like us to focus on the number of quick-launch weapons. I have felt for a long time that while it is perfectly valid and important to talk about and come down in numbers, it is much more important to make nuclear weapons less relevant in the long run. If we can make them less relevant, then the number will come down very appreciably.

Nuclear weapons can be made less relevant if they are not going to be used in the early stages of a conflict. Some type of physical barriers could be introduced down the line so nobody can launch within a week and their retaliatory response is not threatened. You have to have both. You can’t have nuclear weapons locked up in a pile sitting there waiting for someone to destroy them.

ACT: START I expires at the end of 2009. How mechanically and diplomatically do you think the two sides can pursue the reductions that you are describing? Is it in the context of the SORT and START processes or through unilateral reciprocal initiatives? How do you see future reductions being pursued?

Nunn: All of the above. I do not think it’s either arms control treaties or things beyond arms control treaties. I think it is both.

It would be folly to allow the START verification provisions to expire. I think reconstructing them would be a whole lot harder than having this administration and the Russians agree on [extending] them.

I also think SORT needs to be fulfilled. When it first came up, I called it a “faith-based treaty.” It expires the same day that the limits take effect. I think that is absurd. The next administration has to do something about that. Obviously, this one will not. The next administration will have to tie verification provisions to SORT.[11]

I think the arms control treaty process is important. Obviously, you want to reach agreements. But the dialogue, the conversations, the people getting to know each other, and the realization of the fears and seeing where the fears coincide are important. That is where I differ so much from this administration. Sure it is frustrating and takes a long time.

We have a lot of things that we can do without treaties. Warning time, for instance, I don’t think lends itself to a treaty approach.

I also would like to see [command and control] updated in light of the huge technological changes, particularly the cyber world. I don’t think we have explored anywhere near adequately the danger of command and control being penetrated by people in the cyber world, whether it’s a third country or a very clever hacker. There are horrors out there when you see the stakes involved. That’s why I go back to my big pet rock. If everyone had the posture where they could not shoot for a week, it would be a different world. That would make nuclear weapons less relevant, and the discussion about how many you need takes on a different flavor. That is in no way in opposition to reducing numbers, but it is saying that reducing numbers is not the be all and end all.

ACT: There are still several hundred tactical U.S. weapons in Europe. Would you support their unconditional or immediate withdrawal? Why or why not?

Nunn: What I favor is a U.S.-Russian agreement—NATO would have to be involved—that would basically acknowledge the problems of tactical nuclear weapons: the fact that they are susceptible to terrorist attack; the fact that if they are deployed, there is more difficulty with command and control; and the fact that, in some cases, it is reported that there is pre-release authority, where you would not have to get permission from the leaders of the country. I hope nobody has it. I’m not sure about the Russians. I would talk about all of that.

My first goal would be to have transparency between the United States and Russia: where the weapons are and how many there are through mutual exchange of inventories. If you don’t have a baseline, how do you know what they are missing? That’s the way that I would start with tactical nukes. The [final] goal would be to get rid of all of them.

ACT: Given what you mentioned about Russia’s changing perception of threats after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, do you think Russia is ready for that dialogue now, or are there changes in U.S. and NATO policy that are going to be necessary to open the door to that negotiation about transparency and accountability?

Nunn: At this stage, I have seen no indication that Russia is ready for that conversation.I think you have to be willing to sit down and talk to the Russians about where they fit into the overall European security framework. NATO’s Partnership for Peace[12] was a worthy effort for a few years, but it has run its course in my view. The discussions now by serious people about inviting Georgia and Ukraine into NATO and [deploying] missile defense systems in the Czech Republic and Poland mean that the clock is running. We don’t have that much time to have a serious discussion about Europe. NATO has to ask itself if it is in NATO’s interest for Russia to be virtually the only country in that part of the world that’s not eligible to be in that huge defense alliance. If the answer is “that’s the way we want to go,” we’re doing everything just right. If we want Russia to be excluded and if we want Russia to perceive NATO as a permanent enemy, we’re doing it all just right. I don’t think it is our goal. I also don’t think it is NATO’s goal. I don’t even think it is this administration’s goal. So we have to back up a little bit and say, “Time out. What is the view of the Russian security role?” I think the Russians have to ask themselves that. Most of their responses are simply frustrated responses to what is happening rather than thoughtful and creative ideas about the kind of role that they want to play.

Obviously, Russia is not ready to join NATO. NATO’s not ready. But should there be some kind of overall security framework that the Russians play a big role in and really have a significant voice? If there is not, my view is that we’re going to have a very hard time with this whole nuclear agenda and we’re going to have a very hard time with the security agenda in Europe over the long haul.

In my view, the behavior of an awful lot of people involved in NATO security during and since the 1990s, including the Bill Clinton and Bush administrations, has basically been one of almost deliberate disdain for Russia being important enough to worry about. I have felt all along that that was extremely shortsighted. It was perhaps true in a pure economic sense for quite a while. It is no longer true in energy, no longer true in environment, no longer true in economics, and, in my view, never has been true in terms of national security. Russia’s going to be a player, and to me, the question is whether it’s inside or outside the tent. Right now, it is outside the tent. Maybe that is what the Russians want. Maybe that’s what NATO wants. But I believe it is happening inadvertently without much thought.

ACT: You are well known for your work with Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) to create the Cooperative Threat Reduction program. What are your recommendations for accelerating and maximizing the unfinished work of that program and similar efforts?

Nunn: I see a maturing of the Nunn-Lugar program in the former Soviet Union. There’s a lot left to do, but given Russia’s very impressive economic progress, I think that Russia should step up to the plate much more as a partner. I believe that Russia and the United States should really join together to approach this whole subject on a global basis. I see the Nunn-Lugar concept continuing, but I don’t see the funding continuing to be primarily American. The Group of Eight has already made pledges, and they need to be fulfilled.[13] The Russians also need to step up much more to their own security and beyond their own security. I see Russia necessarily moving from being, in effect, a partner that is supplicant for funds to a truly global partner that deals with these subjects on a global basis with its own experts and its own money.

The UN Security Council passed Resolution 1540, which places the burden on every country to take security steps to prevent catastrophic terrorism by protecting their nuclear arsenals or materials, including radiological [materials]. Most countries have not been able to do much under that mandate. I have proposed that the United States and Russia offer U.S. and Russian experts who have worked together on the Nunn-Lugar program to basically be available under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to help any country in the world that needs help implementing that resolution. Those experts could provide technical assistance, best practices, and other know-how on the ground. The United States and Russia have learned so much working together over the last 15 years that I think it would be a shame not to have that lab-to-lab, military-to-military, scientist-to-scientist expertise available to others. It could grow into a bigger project, but I would start off with a small group of people, and it would need to be under the IAEA. It would have to be voluntary. Nobody could impose that on the world, but it certainly ought to be offered. That is the way I see the Nunn-Lugar program evolving.

ACT: I want to get back to your discussion earlier about the fuel bank, particularly the NTI role. What’s your sense on the notion that there has been movement in Russia in establishing a fuel center? What are the prospects that this will really happen, and what are the obstacles that might prevent its creation? Where do things stand?

Nunn: We are involved in it all the time, but the answer is, I don’t know. I think there’s a good chance that we could get something done. I think the IAEA, at least its leadership, would like to get something done. The problem gets back to the haves and have-nots. There are a lot of countries out there that are determined, no matter what happens, not to get into a regime where some people have and some people have not. I think that whatever’s framed in terms of fuel assurances has to be framed so that countries do not forsake their sovereign right to engage in enrichment at some point down the line. From my point of view, the whole concept of fuel assurances is to help those countries that have decided on their own not to go into enrichment. So there’s a thin line there. Not going into enrichment is an actuality; forsaking your right is a pledge. I do not think we are going to get anything that looks like a pledge.

I think what we can get is a regime that has tiers of assurances for fuel, starting predominantly with the marketplace but with marketplace backups, including the Russian concept of enrichment on its soil under IAEA supervision; the U.S. concept of cross guarantees of supplies; perhaps some of the Japanese, German, and British ideas for a series of tiers; and certainly the final reserve, which we propose is the NTI fuel bank controlled by the IAEA.

All of those things are entirely possible, but right now it is going to take a lot of diplomatic leadership to make it happen. It is going to require some of those countries that don’t have enrichment and don’t want enrichment, but also don’t want to give up that right to enrichment, to step up strongly and endorse this concept. Right now, that is the missing element.

ACT: Given those realities, which countries do you believe will be convinced to take advantage of a fuel bank and decide not to go down the enrichment path? Is a fuel bank really going to convince the hard cases, such as Iran or an Iran of tomorrow?

Nunn: The Russian proposal with Angarsk[14] or some concept like that is the best case in terms of Iran. Of course, Iran has said “no” so far. But my understanding is that they have said “no” and not “hell no.” They may not use profanity.

Some people believe we could simply divide [the world] into good guys and bad guys, and if they are good guys, they [can enrich]. So India and Brazil could go ahead and enrich. I don’t think that works, and I don’t think it has any sustainability. I don’t think we can sit here and divide the world into good and bad. Now, we can take adamant positions against people that we think are extremely dangerous, like the Iranians. But a lot of the countries are going to be in between. They are not going to fit into anything like that. So I think there has to be an international regime. IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei is very dedicated to that. I have a lot of confidence in him, but whether he can pull it off is uncertain given the attitude of so many of these countries which have the determination not to be have-nots with enrichment, as well as with weapons. But I will add that I think it is important to have all enrichment, including U.S. enrichment, under international safeguards. That might not be acceptable here, in Russia, and in a lot of other places, but I think it is going to have to be that way. I don’t think we can simply divide the world up.

ACT: The next president is going to have to deal with a lot of issues, including the war in Iraq. How realistic is it that the next administration and Congress will take up and implement the ambitious agenda that you and your colleagues have outlined? And how do you get the U.S. government to prioritize these issues?

Nunn: It depends on who is elected. Some of the candidates have talked about some of these things in some depth and others, primarily on the Republican side, have not addressed these issues.

In the last presidential election, both Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) and President Bush said on national television that nuclear terrorism was the most important challenge we faced. President Bush has said over and over again that keeping the most dangerous weapons out of the most dangerous hands is our top priority. President Putin has said the same thing. It’s the gap between words and deeds that is the frustration because all the words are there.

What is missing is execution. What is missing is presidential focus, both Bush and Putin, on a continuing basis. What is missing is a sense of priorities in our allies, although British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is now speaking out on these subjects. What is missing is an organization in the United States, Russia, and other countries that is held accountable for real execution and performance. Most of the efforts disappear at third and fourth levels of the bureaucracies without people at the top paying a lot of attention. That has to change with the next U.S. administration, whether it’s Republican or Democrat, and hopefully in Russia too.

Click here for the unabridged version of this interview.



1. George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger, and Sam Nunn, “A World Free of Nuclear Weapons,” The Wall Street Journal, January 4, 2007, p. A15; George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger, and Sam Nunn, “Toward a Nuclear-Free World,” The Wall Street Journal, January 15, 2008, p. A13. Both essays can be read on the Nuclear Threat Initiative’s Web site at www.nti.org/c_press/c3_opeds.html.

2. The general concept of a nuclear fuel bank is to establish a reserve of nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes that can be made available to those states forgoing the development of full national nuclear fuel cycles. For more information on the NTI initiative and other fuel bank proposals, see Oliver Meier, “News Analysis: The Growing Nuclear Fuel Cycle Debate,” Arms Control Today, November 2006, pp. 40-44.

3. Highly enriched uranium can be used to build nuclear weapons. Low-enriched uranium cannot be used for that purpose.

4. A fissile material cutoff entails ceasing the production of highly enriched uranium and plutonium for weapons purposes. Both these fissile materials have been used in nuclear arms.

5. Article VI of the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty obligates its states-parties to “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

6. Uranium-enrichment facilities can be used to produce low-enriched uranium to fuel power reactors and highly enriched uranium to build nuclear weapons.

7. Established by legislation passed in 1991, the U.S. Nunn-Lugar program has funded activities in Russia, other states of the former Soviet Union, and additional countries, such as Albania, to secure and dispose of excess or outlawed biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons and materials, as well as delivery vehicles.

8. An ongoing debate about the actual alert status of U.S. nuclear weapons flared up last fall when New Zealand sponsored a UN resolution calling on nuclear-armed states to remove their nuclear weapons from high alert. Wade Boese, “Nuclear Weapons Alert Status Debated,” Arms Control Today, December 2007, p. 44.

9. The United States maintains it did not renege on its proposals to ease Russian concerns about plans to deploy 10 strategic anti-missile interceptors in Poland and an associated radar in the Czech Republic. Wade Boese, “Europe Anti-Missile Plan Faces Hard Sell,” Arms Control Today, January/February 2008, p. 47.

10. The Bush administration claims that its proposed European-based anti-missile system is to defend against a growing Iranian ballistic missile threat.

11. SORT did not include any verification measures. In his June 2002 letter transmitting the treaty to the Senate for its advice and consent to ratification, President George W. Bush stated, “It is important for there to be sufficient openness so that the United States and Russia can each be confident that the other is fulfilling its reductions commitment. The Parties will use the comprehensive verification regime of [START] to provide the foundation for confidence, transparency, and predictability in further strategic offensive reductions.”

12. NATO launched the Partnership for Peace program in 1994 to enable nonmember countries to pursue bilateral cooperation on a variety of military and political issues with the alliance.

13. In a June 2002 summit at Kananaskis, Canada, the Group of Eight members (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) pledged to raise up to $20 billion over 10 years to help secure and eliminate biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons in Russia and other states of the former Soviet Union. Paul F. Walker, “Kananaskis at Five: Assessing the Global Partnership,” Arms Control Today, September 2007, p. 47.

14. Russia plans to establish a multinational uranium-enrichment facility in the Siberian city of Angarsk.

Contradictions Still Plague U.S.-Indian Nuclear Deal

Daryl G. Kimball

Two and a half years after President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced their proposed U.S.-Indian civil nuclear cooperation deal, the ill-conceived arrangement faces a highly uncertain future. In the next few weeks, decisions will likely be made at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) that will determine whether the deal occurs at all and, if so, at what cost to the global nuclear nonproliferation system.

As soon as this month, the IAEA Board of Governors may be convened to consider a new India-specific safeguards agreement. If approved, the 44 other members of the NSG might then act on a U.S. proposal to exempt India from long-standing guidelines that require comprehensive IAEA safeguards as a condition of nuclear supply. If these bodies agree, the United States and other suppliers could finalize bilateral nuclear trade deals with India.

Although many states are willing to bend some rules to help India buy new reactors and the additional fuel needed to run them, there is growing resistance to forms of nuclear trade that could indirectly enable India’s nuclear weapons program or that would allow continued nuclear trade if India breaks its pledge not to resume nuclear test explosions. There is good reason for such concern because India violated past agreements on peaceful nuclear cooperation when it tested its first nuclear device in 1974 and has refused to allow comprehensive IAEA safeguards.

Contrary to claims of its proponents, the deal does not bring India into the nonproliferation mainstream. In fact, given India’s refusal to join the five original nuclear-weapon states in halting the production of fissile material for weapons, foreign supplies of nuclear fuel could free up New Delhi’s existing (and limited) uranium stockpile and increase its capacity to produce more nuclear bomb material. Unlike 177 other states, India has not yet signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Meanwhile, Indian officials are highly sensitive to concerns that the deal could affect its nuclear weapons program. To preserve India’s military options, the Singh government has bargained hard for unprecedented fuel supply assurances and unspecified “corrective measures” in the new safeguards agreement to offset disruptions that might occur if India resumes testing.

Indian leaders are also demanding terms of trade with other nuclear suppliers that sidestep the minimal but vital nonproliferation conditions and restrictions established by Congress in 2006 implementing legislation. The law, known as the Hyde Act, would require the termination of U.S. nuclear trade if New Delhi resumes nuclear testing or violates its safeguards commitments.

To improve its fuel production and spent fuel reprocessing capabilities, the Singh government has fought tooth and nail to secure access to uranium-enrichment and plutonium reprocessing technologies. The Hyde Act effectively bars the transfer of these sensitive nuclear technologies, which India could potentially use to enhance its military nuclear program.

Yet, India is demanding an NSG exemption without any of these and other conditions or restrictions. To date, the Bush administration has carried India’s water. The current U.S. draft proposal calls for a “clean” exemption, and the bilateral U.S.-Indian nuclear cooperation agreement contradicts the Hyde Act in several areas.

But at a hearing Feb. 13, the new chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), challenged Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on this approach, noting that would give other nuclear suppliers, such as France and Russia, a commercial advantage and undermine U.S. nonproliferation objectives. Rice told Berman that the United States would pursue India-specific nuclear trade guidelines that are “completely consistent” with the Hyde Act.

Days later, India’s special envoy, Shyam Saran, contradicted Rice, saying that “it is our expectation that there would be a fairly simple and clean exemption from these guidelines, without any conditions or even expectations regarding India’s conduct in the future.” He asserted that India has “no problem with permanent safeguards provided there are permanent supplies of fuel.”

Saran noted that, in the U.S.-Indian nuclear cooperation agreement, the Bush administration pledged to help India amass a strategic fuel reserve and provide fuel supplies for the lifetime of its safeguarded reactors. Yet, at the urging of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), the Hyde Act stipulates that fuel supplies should only be “commensurate with reasonable reactor requirements.”

Now is the time for Congress and responsible members of the NSG to hold the Bush administration to Rice’s pledge to support international guidelines for trade with India that, at the very least, incorporate the minimal requirements mandated by U.S. law. If India’s leaders cannot even abide by these minimal standards and decide to reject the deal, that is their choice. Additional concessions to India will only further compromise the already beleaguered global nonproliferation system.

Two and a half years after President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced their proposed U.S.-Indian civil nuclear cooperation deal, the ill-conceived arrangement faces a highly uncertain future. In the next few weeks, decisions will likely be made at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) that will determine whether the deal occurs at all and, if so, at what cost to the global nuclear nonproliferation system.

As soon as this month, the IAEA Board of Governors may be convened to consider a new India-specific safeguards agreement. If approved, the 44 other members of the NSG might then act on a U.S. proposal to exempt India from long-standing guidelines that require comprehensive IAEA safeguards as a condition of nuclear supply. If these bodies agree, the United States and other suppliers could finalize bilateral nuclear trade deals with India. (Continue)


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