"[Arms Control Today] has become indispensable! I think it is the combination of the critical period we are in and the quality of the product. I found myself reading the May issue from cover to cover."

– Frank von Hippel
Co-Director of Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University
June 1, 2018
October 2008
Edition Date: 
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
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October 2008 Bibliography

Of Special Interest

Carter, Jimmy, “India Nuclear Deal Puts World at Risk,” The Financial Times, September 11, 2008.

Holbrooke, Richard, R. James Woolsey, Dennis B. Ross, and Mark D. Wallace, “Everyone Needs to Worry About Iran,” The Wall Street Journal, September 22, 2008, p. A23.

Institute for Defense Analyses, Study on the Mission, Roles, and Structure of the Missile Defense Agency, August 2008, 60 pp.

Levi, Michael A., Deterring State Sponsorship of Nuclear Terrorism, Council on Foreign Relations Special Report No. 39, September 2008, 33 pp.

Lugar, Richard, “Heal the International Atomic Energy Agency,” Defense News, September 21, 2008.

MacDonald, Bruce W., China, Space Weapons, and U.S. Security, Council on Foreign Relations Special Report No. 38, September 2008, 53 pp.

Miliband, David, “We Badly Need a Treaty to Control the Arms Trade,” The Independent, September 9, 2008.

Partnership for a Secure America, WMD Report Card: Evaluating U.S. Policies to Prevent Nuclear, Chemical, & Biological Terrorism Since 2005, September 10, 2008, 8 pp.

Perkovich, George, and Acton, James M., Abolishing Nuclear Weapons, Adelphi Paper 396, International Institute for Strategic Studies, September 2008, 130 pp.

U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of State, National Security and Nuclear Weapons in the 21st Century, September 2008, 24 pp.

I. Strategic Arms

Agence France-Presse, “Russian Strategic Bombers in Venezuela for ‘Training’: Chavez,” September 10, 2008.

Charbonneau, Louis, “Russia Says U.S. Blocking Nuclear Arms Reduction Talks,” Reuters, September 29, 2008.

Cordes, Henry J., “Nuclear Readiness High on StatCom Chief’s Agenda,” Omaha World-Herald, September 29, 2008.

Gertz, Bill, “Inside the Ring: China’s Nuclear Capability,” The Washington Times, September 4, 2008, p. B1.

Grossman, Elaine M., “U.S. Air Force Might Modify Nuclear Bomb,” Global Security Newswire, September 26, 2008.

Grossman, Elaine M., “U.S. Nuclear Arms Paper Underlines Need for RRW,” Global Security Newswire, September 24, 2008.

Grossman, Elaine M., “Military’s RRW Alternative Is Warhead Life Extension,” Global Security Newswire, September 12, 2008.

Itar-Tass, “Russia RVN Military Academy Discussing Strategic Deterrence,” September 22.

PIR Center, Russia-U.S. Strategic Relationship After the Georgian Crisis: Ten Questions and Answers, September 7, 2008.

Reed, Thomas C., “The Chinese Nuclear Tests, 1964-1996,” Physics Today, September 2008, p. 47.

RIA Novosti, “Medvedev Orders Upgrade of Russia’s Nuclear Deterrent by 2020,” September 26, 2008.

The Stanley Foundation Policy Dialogue Brief, International Implications for and Levers on US Nuclear Weapons Policy, September 2008, 9 pp.

Tyson, Ann Scott, “Unified Nuclear Command Urged,” The Washington Post, September 13, 2008, p. A8.

II. Nuclear Proliferation

Blechman, Barry M., Nuclear Proliferation: Avoiding a Pandemic, The Henry L. Stimson Center, September 29, 2008, 5 pp.

Hayden, Michael, Director’s Remarks at the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, September 16, 2008.

Pleming, Sue, “US Says Libya is a Model for Iran and North Korea,” Reuters, September 4, 2008.

Sanger, David E., “We May Miss Kim Jong-il (and Maybe Musharraf),” The New York Times, September 13, 2008, p. WK 3.

Warrick, Joby, “Nuclear Ring Was More Advanced Than Thought, U.N. Says,” The Washington Post, September 13, 2008, p. A11.

Wood, Houston G., Glaser, Alexander, and Kemp, R. Scott, “The Gas Centrifuge and Nuclear Weapons Proliferation,” Physics Today, September 2008, p. 40.


Agence France-Presse, “India Nuclear Deal Does Not Send Message to Iran: Germany,” September 8, 2008.

Agence France-Presse, “Top-Level China, India Talks Amid Nuclear Deal Tension,” September 8, 2008.

Albright, David, and Brannan, Paul, Surprising Admission by India’s Department of Atomic Energy (DAE): Claims Revealing Sensitive Centrifuge Drawings Does Not Violate DAE’s Secrecy Requirements, Institute for Science and International Security, September 19, 2008, 1 pp.

Albright, David, and Brannan, Paul, Indian Nuclear Export Controls and Information Security: Important Questions Remain, Institute for Science and International Security, September 18, 2008, 6 pp.

Anthony, Ian, “Civilian Nuclear Cooperation With India: Implications for the Nuclear Suppliers Group,” European Security Review, September 2008, p. 16.

Arun, T K, “Nuclear Disarmament Next,” The Economic Times, September 11, 2008.

Chellaney, Brahma, “Mortgaging Nuclear Crown Jewels,” The Hindu, September 17, 2008.

Crawford, David, Range, Jackie, and Solomon, Jay, “Nuclear Suppliers Group Backs U.S.-India Atomic-Trade Deal,” The Wall Street Journal, September 7, 2008.

Dombey, Daniel, “India Nuclear Deal Will Help Limit Iran, Says US,” Financial Times, September 10, 2008.

Eckert, Paul, “Atomic Supplier States Urged to Hold Line on India,” Reuters, September 2, 2008.

The Economic Times, “India Free to Conduct Tests: Mulford,” September 11, 2008.

The Economist, “A Legacy Project,” September 11, 2008.

Gienger, Viola, and Litvan Laura, “Bush Asks Congress to Approve U.S.-India Accord,” Bloomberg, September 11, 2008.

Grossman, Elaine M., “India, U.S. Said At Odds Over Pact Interpretation,” Global Security Newswire, September 5, 2008.

Haniffa, Aziz, “N-Deal: India Finds ‘Change in Language’ Unacceptable,” Rediff, September 24, 2008.

Heinrich, Mark, “Nuclear Nations Approve Disputed India Trade Waiver,” Reuters, September 6, 2008.

Heinrich, Mark, “Nuclear States Mull U.S.-India Deal Again as Clock Ticks,” Reuters, September 3, 2008.

The Hindu, “Don’t Sign 123, Says Former Indian Envoy to U.S.,” September 16, 2008.

The Indian Express, “If N-Deal Against India’s Interest, We’ll Walk Out: Kakodkar,” September 4, 2008.

Johnson, Ed, “India-U.S. Nuclear Accord a Bad Deal, Arms Group Tells Congress,” Bloomberg, September 18, 2008.

Kamdar, Mira, “Risking Armageddon for Cold, Hard Cash,” The Washington Post, September 7, 2008, p. B3.

Kessler, Glenn, “World Nuclear Trade Group Agrees to Restrict Sales to India,” The Washington Post, September 12, 2008, p. A10.

Kessler, Glenn, “In Secret Letter, Tough U.S. Line on India Nuclear Deal,” The Washington Post, September 3, 2008, p. A10.

Kinetz, Erika, “India Open for $80 Billion in Nuclear Business,” Associated Press, September 25, 2008.

Kole, William J., “45-Nation Group Approve Disputed Indian Nuclear Trade Waiver,” Associated Press, September 6, 2008.

Krepon, Michael, Likely Consequences of the Nuclear Suppliers Group Decision, The Henry L. Stimson Center, September 8, 2008, 2 pp.

Lakshmi, Rama, “In India, Outcry Over U.S. Letter,” The Washington Post, September 4, 2008, p. A9.

Laxman, Srinivas, “Indo-US Deal Will Boost N-Race: Pak Scientists,” The Times of India, September 14, 2008.

Ministry of External Affairs, Statement by External Affairs Minister of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee on the Civil Nuclear Initiative, September 5, 2008, 2 pp.

Montet, Virginie, “US House Approves Historic India Nuclear Deal,” Associated Press, September 28, 2008.

The New York Times, "A Bad India Deal," September 30, 2008.

Potter, William C., “Goodbye to Nuclear Export Controls,” The Hindu, September 9, 2008.

Sokolski, Henry D., “Go Slow on the Indian Nuclear Deal,” Forbes, September 29, 2008.

Squassoni, Sharon, Missed Opportunity: Nuclear Suppliers Group, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Proliferation Analysis, September 10, 2008, 2 pp.

Squassoni, Sharon, Minding the Gaps: U.S. & India Views on Nuclear Cooperation, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Proliferation Analysis, September 4, 2008.

Sengupta, Somini, and Mazzetti, Mark, “Atomic Club Votes to End Restrictions on India,” The New York Times, September 6, 2008, p. A6.

U.S. Department of State, Nuclear Proliferation Assessment Statement, September 12, 2008, 30 pp.

U.S. Department of State, Report Pursuant to Section 104(c) of the Hyde Act Regarding Civil Nuclear Cooperation with India, September 12, 2008, 26 pp.

U.S. Department of State, Questions for the Record Submitted to Assistance Secretary Bergner by Chairman Tom Lantos, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, October 5, 2007, September 2, 2008, 25 pp.

Varadarajan, Siddharth, “India Won’t Wait for 123 to Sign Deals With France, Russia,” The Hindu, September 14, 2008.

Varadarajan, Siddharth, “India Believes Fuel Assurances Are Binding,” The Hindu, September 12, 2008.

Varadarajan, Siddharth, “The Bush-Berman Bombshell and the Ghosts of Tarapur,” The Hindu, September 6, 2008.

Warrick, Joby, “ ’06 Blueprint Leak Intensifies Concerns Over U.S.-India Deal,” The Washington Post, September 18, 2008, p. A17.

Webb, Greg, “U.S. Offer on Indian Fails to Address Concerns,” Global Security Newswire, September 3, 2008.

World Nuclear News, “France-India Nuclear Cooperation Deal,” September 30, 2008.


Agence France-Presse, “Iran May Limit IAEA Access to Nuclear Sites: MP,” September 30, 2008.

Albright, David, Shire, Jacqueline, and Brannan, Paul, IAEA Report on Iran: Centrifuge Operation Significantly Improving; Gridlock on Alleged Weaponization Issues, Institute for Science and International Security, September 15, 2008, 4 pp.

Bipartisan Policy Center, Meeting the Challenge: U.S. Policy Toward Iranian Nuclear Development, September 2008.

Cashman, Greer Fay, “Peres on Iran: War Must Not Be an Option,” The Jerusalem Post, September 19, 2008.

Daragahi, Borzou, “U.N. Watchdog Reports Growing Frustration with Iran’s Nuclear Push,” Los Angeles Times, September 16, 2008.

Heinrich, Mark, “IAEA Probe Stalls, Iran Slowly Boosts Atom Enrichment,” Reuters, September 12, 2008.

International Atomic Energy Association Board of Governors, Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council resolutions 1737 (2006), 1747 (2007) and 1803 (2008) in the Islamic Republic of Iran, September 15, 2008, 6 pp.

Jahn, George, “EU Warns Iran Close to Nuclear Arms Capacity,” Associated Press, September 24, 2008.

Kay, David, “What’s Missing From the Iran Debate,” The Washington Post, September 8, 2008, p. A17.

Keinon, Herb, “Ex-Cheney Aide: Bush Won’t Hit Iran,” The Jerusalem Post, September 17, 2008.

McBride, Janet, “Russia’s Medvedev: Armed Action on Iran Unacceptable,” Reuters, September 12, 2008.

Milhollin, Gary, “An Arms Race We’re Sure to Lose,” The New York Times, September 28, 2008, p. A21.

Myers, Steven Lee, “Russia Won’t Meet With U.S. on Iranian Nuclear Program,” The New York Times, September 23, 2008, p. A12.

Perkovich, George, If Iran Stone-Walls, Stop Negotiating, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, September 24, 2008.

Perkovich, George, Iran Says “No” – Now What?, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Policy Brief, September 2008, 12 pp.

Radnofsky, Louise, and Cummins, Chip, “U.S. Accuses Iran Shipper of Nuclear Aid,” The Wall Street Journal, September 11, 2008.

Reuters, “Five Former U.S. State Secretaries Urge Iran Talks,” September 16, 2008.


Cohen, Avner, “Why India and Not Israel,” Haaretz, September 17, 2008.


DeSutter, Paula, Briefing on the History of Libya’s WMD Effort and Dismantlement Program and Libya’s Renunciation of Terrorism, U.S. Department of State, September 3, 2008.

International Atomic Energy Association Board of Governors, Implementations of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, September 12, 2008, GOV/2008/39, 13 pp.

North Korea

Agence France-Presse, “No ‘Immediate’ Risk North Korea Will Restart Nuclear Plant: US,” September 22, 2008.

The Boston Globe, “The North Korea Nuclear Deal is Worth Keeping, September 2, 2008.

Chang, Jae-Soon, “US Was Told N. Korea Would Restart Nuke Operation,” Associated Press, September 4, 2008.

Demick, Barbara, “North Korea Takes Nuclear Equipment Out of Storage,” Los Angeles Times, September 4, 2008.

DeYoung, Karen, “Unease Grows as N. Korea Asks to Remove IAEA Seals From Reactor,” The Washington Post, September 23, 2008, p. A16.

Harden, Blaine, “N. Korea’s Kim Said to Be Recovering From Stroke,” The Washington Post, September 11, 2008, p. A10.

Heinrich, Mark, and Westall, Sylvia, “N. Korea Ousts U.N. Monitors, Restarts Atom Bomb Plant,” Reuters, September 24, 2008.

Herskovitz, Jon, “U.S. Envoy Set to Revive Korea Nuclear Deal,” Reuters, September 30, 2008.

Jane’s Defence Weekly, Jane’s Defence Weekly Uncovers North Korea’s New Missile Facility, September 11, 2008.

Jung-a, Song, and Sevastopulo, Demetri, “N Korea Rebuilds Nuclear Reactor,” Financial Times, September 3, 2008.

Kessler, Glenn, “Administration Pushing to Salvage Accord With N. Korea,” The Washington Post, September 28, 2008, p. A7.

Kessler, Glenn, “Far-Reaching U.S. Plan Impaired N. Korea Deal,” The Washington Post, September 26, 2008, p. A20.

Kralev, Nicholas, “Lack of Written Agreement Snags N. Korea Talks,” The Washington Times, September 9, 2008.

Kralev, Nicholas, “N. Korean Nuke Move Called ‘Ploy,’” The Washington Times, September 4, 2008, p. A14.

Lee, Matthew, “Analysis: North Korea Nuclear Deal Falling Apart,” Associated Press, September 20, 2008.

Myers, Steven Lee, and Sciolino, Elaine, “North Koreans Bar Inspectors at Nuclear Sites,” The New York Times, September 25, 2008, p. A1. 

The New York Times, “The Troubled North Korea Deal,” September 28, 2008, p. A20.

Sang-Hun, Choe, “North Korea Hardens Stance on Nuclear Issue,” The International Herald Tribune, September 19, 2008.

Webb, Greg, “North Korea to Resume Plutonium Production in One Week,” Global Security Newswire, September 24, 2008.


AFP, “Pakistan’s Military Unlikely to Pressurise New President,” September 7, 2008.

Albright, David, and Brannan, Paul, Second Khushab Plutonium Production Reactor Nears Completion, ISIS Report, September 18, 2008, 11 pp.

Marchesano, Michelle, Pakistan’s Nuclear Security After Musharraf, Partnership for Global Security Policy Update, September 2008.


Agence France-Presse, “ ‘No Indication of Nuclear Material’ in Syria So Far: ElBaradei,” September 22, 2008.

Agence France-Presse, “No Reply from Syria to IAEA Over Suspect Sites: Diplomat,” September 19, 2008.

Jahn, George, “Diplomats: Syria Passes 1st Test of Nuclear Probe,” Associated Press, September 20, 2008.

Mikkelsen, Randall, “Discovery of Syrian Reactor a Joint Spy Victory-CIA,” Reuters, September 17, 2008.

Reuters, “UN: Syria May Have Buried Nuclear Traces,” September 21, 2008.

Webb, Greg, “Assassination Hinders IAEA Investigation of Alleged Syrian Reactor,” Global Security Newswire, September 25, 2008.

III. Nonproliferation

Alger, Justin, A Guide to Global Nuclear Governance: Safety, Security and Nonproliferation, The Centre for International Governance Innovation Nuclear Energy Futures, September 2008, 11 pp.

Broad, William J., “New Security Organization Will Try to Prevent Nuclear Theft,” The New York Times, September 29, 2008, p. A8.

Butler, Desmond, “Fears of US-Russia Breakdown on WMD Dismantlement,” Associated Press, September 18, 2008.

Charbonneau, Louis, “U.S., Iran, Others Urged to Join Nuclear Test Ban Pact,” Reuters, September 24, 2008.

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, Burundi Signs the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, September 24, 2008.

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, CTBTO Starts First Ever On-Site Inspection Simulation, September 2, 2008.

Fedchenko, Vitaly, “Testing Times: Doubts Hang Over Nuclear Test Ban Treaty,” Jane’s Intelligence Review, September 2008.

Finlay, Brian D., Nuclear Terrorism: US Policies to Reduce the Threat of Nuclear Terror, Partnership for a Secure America, September 2008, 28 pp.

Godsberg, Alicia, War in Georgia and Repercussions for Nuclear Disarmament Cooperation with Russia, Federation of American Scientists Strategic Security Blog, September 2, 2008.

Goodby, James E., “Internationalizing the Nuclear Fuel Cycle,” The Bulletin Online, September 4, 2008.

Heinrich, Mark, “IAEA Chief ElBaradei Will Not Seek Fourth Term,” Reuters, September 10, 2008.

Hsu, Spencer S., “In WMD Report, U.S. Gets a C,” The Washington Post, September 9, 2008, p. A21.

Jahn, George, “IAEA Head Not Running for New Term,” Associated Press, September 11, 2008.

Kessler, Glenn, “Rice: U.S. Had Aided In Nuclear Regulation,” The Washington Post, September 8, 2008, p. A13.

Lee, Matthew, “US Needs Russia for Iran, NKorea Nuke Deals,” Associated Press, September 24, 2008.

Long, Joseph, and Giles, Matthew, Reported Accomplishments of Selected Threat Reduction and Nonproliferation Programs By Agency, for Fiscal Year 2007, Partnership for Global Security, September 2008.

Malin, Martin B., “U.S., Russia Must Unite to Lessen Nuclear Dangers,” The Washington Times, September 23, 2008,

National Nuclear Security Administration, International Safeguards: Challenges and Opportunities for the 21st Century, September 9, 2008.

Schneidmiller, Chris, “International Agreement Needed on Nuclear Security Standards, NNSA Chief Says,” Global Security Newswire, September 18, 2008.

Solomon, Jay, “U.S., Russia Cooperate on Key Issues Amid Tensions,” The Wall Street Journal, September 23, 2008, p. A24.

Solomon, Jay, “Rice Leads Latest Push for Nonproliferation,” The Wall Street Journal, September 9, 2008, p. A5.

IV. Missiles and Missile Defense

Agence France-Presse, “US Operates Anti-Missile Radar in Israel: Report,” September 28, 2008.

Associated Press, “Czech Govt. Approves 2nd Missile Defense Deal,” September 10, 2008.

Canen, James W., “With Lt. Gen. Henry A. Obering,” Aerospace America, September 2008, p. 12.

Coyle, Philip E., “Ask McCain and Obama About Missile Defense,” Nieman Watchdog, September 10, 2008.

Forden, Geoffrey, “Safir When Ready: Iran Sets its Sights on Long-Range Capability,” Jane’s Intelligence Review, October 2008, p. 2.

Government Accountability Office, DEFENSE ACQUISITIONS: Sound Business Case Needed to Implement Missile Defense Agency's Targets Program, September 2008, 52 pp.

Government Accountability Office, MISSILE DEFENSE: Actions Needed to Improve Planning and Cost Estimates for Long-Term Support of Ballistic Missile Defense, September 2008, 52 pp.

Grant, Rebecca, and Grotto, Andrew J., Sea-Based Missile Defense: Expanding the Options, The Center for American Progress and The Lexington Institute, September 8, 2008, 16 pp.

Harden, Blaine, “North Korea Tests Engine of Long-Range Missile, Report Says,” The Washington Post, September 17, 2008, p. A12.

Heath, Michael, “Russia Test-Fires Ballistic Missile 6,700 Kilometers to Pacific,” Bloomberg, September 19, 2008.

Heinrich, Mark, “Photos Seen Alleging Iran Nuclear Missile Work,” Reuters, September 16. 2008.

Hess, Pamela, “N. Korea Has Quietly Built Long-Range Missile Base,” Associated Press, September 10, 2008.

Kislyakov, Andrei, “Anti-Missile Showdown Building Between East and West,” United Press International, September 5, 2008.

Raghuvanshi, Vivek, “India Inducts Agni-3 Missile,” Defense News, September 23, 2008.

Reuters, “Japan Plans Missile Test As North Korea Fears Grow,” September 22, 2008.

RIA Novosti, “Russia Refuses to Allow NATO Inspectors at its Missile Bases,” September 27, 2008.

RIA Novosti, “Russia May Push Forward with S-300 Sales to Iran,” September 1, 2008.

Subbaraman, Karthik, and Abrar, Peerzada, “New Tech to Boost Missile Range by 40%,” The Economic Times, September 10, 2008.

Thompson, Mark, “The Latest Star Wars Woes: Launching Fake Targets,” TIME, September 29, 2008.

Union of Concerned Scientists, Congress Should Not Fund the Planned European Missile Defense System, September 2008, 2 pp.

The Wall Street Journal, “Missile Offense,” September 10, 2008.

Wolf, Jim, “U.S. Plans $7 Billion Missile-Defense Sale to UAE,” Reuters, September 8, 2008.

V. Chemical and Biological Arms

Dando, Malcolm, “How to Update the Biological Weapons Treaty,” The Bulletin Online, September 3, 2008.

Grossman, Elaine M., “Senator Threatens Probe of Anthrax Case,” Global Security Newswire, September 18, 2008.

Joint Chiefs of Staff, Operations in Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Environments, August 26, 2008.

Kellman, Barry, Biological Terrorism: US Policies to Reduce Global Biothreats, Partnership for A Secure America, September 2008, 29 pp.

Kosal, Margaret E., Chemical Terrorism: US Policies to Reduce the Chemical Terror Threat, Partnership for A Secure America, September 2008, 30 pp.

Ramshaw, Emily, “Ike Renews Fears For Biodefense Lab on Galveston,” The Dallas Morning News, September 16, 2008.

Shane, Scott, “Critics of Anthrax Inquiry Seek an Independent Review,” The New York Times, September 23, 2008, p. A17.

VI. Conventional Arms

Agence France-Presse, “Norway Criticizes Use of Cluster Bombs in Georgia,” September 2, 2008.

Associated Press, “US Lawmakers Reject UK, Australia Export Treaties,” September 22, 2008.

Bromley, Mark, and Brzoska, Michael, “Towards a Common, Restrictive EU Arms Export Policy?: The Impact of the EU Code of Conduct on Major Conventional Arms Exports,” European Foreign Affairs Review, vol. 13, no. 3, p. 33.

Brook, Tom Vanden, “Bunker-busting Bombs Added to U.S. Arsenal,” USA Today, September 15, 2008.

Brzoska, Michael, “Measuring the Effectiveness of Arms Embargoes,” Peace Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy, vol. 14, no. 2, 2008, 34 pp.

Cole, August, and Dreazen, Yochi J., “Iraq Seeks F-16 Fighters,” The Wall Street Journal, September 5, 2008, p. A1.

The Economic Times, “Central and South America World’s Most Violent Places,” September 11, 2008.

Gettleman, Jeffrey, “Pirated Arms Freighter Cornered by U.S. Navy,” The New York Times, September 30, 2008, p. A14.

Grossman, Elaine M., “Chilton Shifts Prompt Strike Priority to Air Force,” Global Security Newswire, September 3, 2008.

Halpin, Tony, and Mostrous, Alexi, “Russia Ratchets Up US Tensions With Sales to Iran and Venezuela," The Times, September 19, 2008.

Lichtblau, Eric, “U.S. Steps Up Its Criminal Prosecution of Illegal Technology Exports to Iran,” The New York Times, September 17, 2008, p. A33.

Lipton, Eric, “With White House Push, U.S. Arms Sales Jump,” The New York Times, September 13, 2008, p. A1.

Pincus, Walter, “Decision to be Made in April On Self-Destructing Land Mines,” The Washington Post, September 8, 2008, p. A15.

Reuters, “Russia Grants Venezuela $1B to Buy Arms,” September 25, 2008.

Shalal-Esa, Andrea, “U.S. Approves $330 Million in Arms Deals for Israel,” Reuters, September 9, 2008.

Wolf, Jim, “U.S. Lawmaker Urges More Congress Say in Arms Sales,” Reuters, September 16, 2008.

Wolf, Jim, “U.S. Says Its Arms Exports Boomed This Year,” September 3, 2008.

Xinhua, “Kenya Says Influx of Small Arms Source of Conflicts in Region,” September 3, 2008.

VII. U.S. Policy

Grossman, Elaine, “Draft House Markup Adds $9 Million for Fast Strike,” Global Security Newswire, September 9, 2008.

Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, Securing the Non-Proliferation Capability of the Department of State, September 12, 2008, 16 pp.

Schwartz, Stephen I., Barack Obama and John McCain on Nuclear Security Issues, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, September 25, 2008.

VIII. Space

Barry, John, “Space Wars,” Newsweek, September 21, 2008.

Black, Samuel, and Khan, Babar, A Selective Chronology of U.S. Space Policy and International Diplomacy, The Henry L. Stimson Center, September 2008.

Cordes, Henry J., “Chilton Says China Made Mess in Space,” Omaha World-Herald, September 29, 2008.

Fiott, Daniel, The French White Paper on Defence and National Security: Peacebuilding, NATO, Nuclear Weapons, and Space, ISIS Europe, September 2008.

Gertz, Bill, “China Space Threat,” The Washington Times, September 25, 2008, p. B1.

Kommersant, “Russia Proposes Space Weapons Ban,” September 23, 2008.

Lawler, Andrew, “Obama and McCain are Swept Up In a Surprising Space Race,” Science, vol. 321, September 12, 2008, 3 pp.

Weeden, Brian, “The Fallacy of Space-Based Interceptors for Boost-Phase Missile Defense,” The Space Review, September 15, 2008.

IX. Other

Agence France-Presse, “Russia May Launch Nuclear Cooperation with Venezuela,” September 25, 2008.

Agence France-Presse, “China Sends Report to UN on Military Spending: Gov’t,” September 4, 2008.

Associated Press, “China’s Defense Spending Growing, but US Still Top,” September 4, 2008.

Associated Press, “Russia Warns Australia on Halting Uranium Sales,” September 2, 2008.

Lee, Matthew, “Rice Meets Gadhafi on Historic Visit to Libya,” Associated Press, September 6, 2008.

Myers, Steven Lee, and Knowlton, Brian, “U.S. Backs Off Civilian Nuclear Pact With Russia,” The New York Times, September 8, 2008.

Pomper, Miles A., “Who’s Voting for GNEP?,” Nuclear Engineering International, August 2008, p. 38.

Reuters, “Chavez Says Venezuela Will Develop Nuclear Power,” September 28, 2008.

Yardley, William, “No More Bomb-Making, but Work Aplenty,” The New York Times, September 10, 2008, p. A16.


On page 31 of Arms Control Today’s July/August 2008 issue, the news article “111 Countries Approve Cluster Munitions Treaty” should read: “107 Countries Approve Cluster Munitions Treaty.” Subsequent references within the article to “111 countries” should also read “107 countries.”

Editor's Note

Miles A. Pomper

Legal definitions, negotiating processes, and gradual technological improvements rarely make headlines. Yet, these are the nuts and bolts that can make arms control agreements and their associated regimes succeed or fail.

Take the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). When the Senate rejected the treaty in 1999, one of the more common objections was that it could not prevent states from cheating and conducting very low-yield or clandestine nuclear tests. But as David Hafemeister argues in this month’s cover story, that argument has lost whatever technical credibility it may have had after recent improvements in verification technology. Applying long-standing arms control standards, Hafemeister concludes that the CTBT is effectively verifiable.

In another feature article, Jean du Preez calls for reforming the process that is used to keep the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty regime up-to-date. He says that the current format of regular treaty-related meetings, adopted in 2000, has hobbled countries’ ability to cobble together compromises at once-every-five-years treaty review conferences, setting back nonproliferation and disarmament efforts worldwide.
In contrast, Ambassador Dalius Čekuolis says that careful preparation and the right format helped lead to a successful conclusion at the recent meeting he chaired of states seeking to advance a 2001 effort to control small arms and light weapons. And he contends that this process could serve as a model for other such efforts.

This month’s news section includes Wade Boese’s in-depth article on how the Bush administration’s approach to nonproliferation sanctions has shifted over time. Jeff Abramson analyzes international small arms transfers based on recent reports to the United Nations. Finally, Peter Crail reports on the latest twists and turns regarding Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear programs.

Our “Looking Back” essay by ACA Board Chairman John Steinbruner discusses the history and value of U.S. declaratory policy as an element of deterrence. Steinbruner argues that, on the 30th anniversary of President Jimmy Carter’s negative security assurance policy, it is time for the United States to change its words and to rethink deterrence for a new era.

In Memoriam: Charles Van Doren

Charles Norton Van Doren, a former senior U.S. government official and lifelong advocate for the control of nuclear weapons, died Aug. 23 in Washington, D.C., at the age of 84. Van Doren was born in New Jersey and attended Harvard University for two years before leaving to serve in the Army during World War II. After learning of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Van Doren decided to spend his career preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. In 1962 he joined the newly created Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA). He eventually became the ACDA’s assistant director, working on the Limited Test Ban Treaty and the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Van Doren retired from the Department of State in 1981. An opponent of nuclear testing, he was adamantly against the Reagan administration’s policy of continued tests. During his retirement, Van Doren taught seminars on nuclear energy at Georgetown Law School and contributed book chapters and articles to the nonproliferation field. He wrote a 1981 report for the Arms Control Association criticizing the Israeli strike on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor, lamenting that military strikes would not curb proliferation.

LOOKING BACK: Carter’s 1978 Declaration and the Significance of Security Assurances

John Steinbruner

In terms of operational practice as distinct from political rhetoric, institutionalized security policy in the United States is based on two presumptions: that imperial aggression is the principal form of threat and that the countervailing threat of deterrent retaliation is the most decisive method of protection. This formulation was established during the Cold War and has been retained in its aftermath. Because no country can plausibly threaten immediate imperial aggression against U.S. territory, the formulation is now justified as a hedge against the rise of an unnamed peer competitor. For many other countries, however, the United States itself is the most credible potential embodiment of such a threat.

Although most prefer not to dwell on that practical fact, it does make the security assurances first issued by the Carter administration 30 years ago a matter of immediate interest. In the traditional formulation, a reliable deterrent should be based on the capacity to retaliate under all circumstances, not merely on the expressed intention to do so. Capacity displayed in immediate operational capability is considered to be more credible and less subject to deception or rapid change than are expressed intentions. That hard standard is far more readily achieved by the United States than by any other country. Because most countries do not have and cannot reasonably acquire unquestionable nuclear deterrent capability, they are dependent on agreed restraint and forced to rely more heavily on judgments of intention. As a result, the authoritative declarations of intention embodied in security assurances have greater global significance than is usually assumed in U.S. discussion of the topic.

Historical Declarations

The declarations of greatest significance are those issued in connection with the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Those countries who agreed not to acquire nuclear weapons under the terms of the treaty had reasonable expectation that they would in return receive protection from the five states allowed to retain nuclear weapons. That basic rule was not included in the treaty text, however, because it was difficult to reconcile with U.S. and Soviet alliance commitments. By the time the NPT was negotiated in the late 1960s, the original principle of the UN Charter that each member state would be protected by all the others had been superseded by Cold War arrangements whereby protection was preferentially provided to formal alliance members. The United States believed at the time that the defense of Western Europe against conventional attack might require initiating the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon state-parties to the treaty that belonged to the opposing Warsaw Pact. U.S. officials considered it imperative to extend the same commitment to Japan and South Korea as well.

Unable to include the expectation of general protection directly in the treaty language, the non-nuclear-weapon states resorted to UN Security Council Resolution 255, passed on June 19, 1968. The resolution “recognizes” that aggression with nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear-weapon state-party to the treaty would create an immediate obligation for action under the UN Charter and “welcomes the intention expressed by certain states” to provide assistance under those circumstances. That language suggests not merely the promise not to attack (negative assurance) but also to provide active defense if someone else did (positive assurance). By virtue of the Security Council vote, the concept was implicitly accepted by all five NPT nuclear-weapon states, although France abstained from the vote, stating that declaratory assurances would be inadequate without corresponding disarmament provisions.

In 1978, eight years after the NPT officially entered into force and 10 years after approval of Resolution 255, the United Nations convened its first special session on disarmament, and the United States used the occasion to issue an authoritative statement of intention. Speaking to the special session on behalf of President Jimmy Carter, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance stated:

The United States will not use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear- weapon state party to the NPT or any comparable internationally binding commitment not to acquire nuclear explosive devices, except in the case of an attack on the United States, its territories or armed forces, or its allies, by such a state allied to a nuclear weapon state, or associated with a nuclear-weapon state in carrying out or sustaining the attack.[1]

That statement of negative assurance, endorsed by all succeeding administrations and reiterated at the 1995 NPT review conference that indefinitely extended the treaty, has come to be regarded as the standard formulation of U.S. declaratory policy. Its main feature is that the United States reserves the right to initiate the use of nuclear weapons in response to an attack of any sort as long as another nuclear-armed state is somehow implicated in the attack.

That qualified assurance had earlier been given formal legal standing for those states adhering to the nuclear-weapon-free-zone treaties for Latin America, the South Pacific, and Africa. In the Latin American case, the United States signed and subsequently ratified protocols to the treaty of Tlateloco extending negative security assurances to the states-parties to the treaties; but, as part of the ratification process, President Richard Nixon issued a proclamation laying out the qualification that was subsequently issued more generally but less formally in the 1978 statement.

Then, in 1996 with a Soviet invasion of Europe no longer a plausible concern, an aide to President Bill Clinton introduced additional qualifications at a White House press conference announcing that the United States had signed the corresponding protocol to the Treaty of Pelindaba, which sought to establish an African nuclear-weapon-free zone. He stated that attacks by other weapons of mass destruction would be justifying conditions for nuclear retaliation, and that was understood but not directly stated to mean chemical or biological agents. In Senate testimony two weeks earlier, Secretary of Defense William Perry had also implied that the use of nuclear weapons would be considered in responding to a chemical weapons attack. Neither statement addressed the central question as to whether the uniquely destructive power of nuclear weapons could be appropriately applied to substantially lesser forms of “mass destruction.”

In citing the doctrine of belligerent reprisal as justification for the additional qualifications, Clinton administration officials evoked a traditional legal rule holding that the provisions of one treaty would be suspended if those of related one were violated. Hence an attack using chemical or biological agents in violation of the 1925 Geneva protocol by a party to the Pelindaba treaty would invalidate its protection against a nuclear response.[2] They generally did not mention, however, that the doctrine would allow only for a response that could be demonstrated to be necessary and proportionate.

The evident efforts of Nixon, Carter, and Clinton to minimize legal limitations on U.S. deterrent operations all reflect an underlying institutionalized commitment to preserve as much uncertainty as possible in the minds of all conceivable opponents as to how far the deterrent effect of nuclear weapons might be extended. The incremental supplement to deterrence supposedly achieved against a willful aggressor by that deliberate ambiguity outweighed the legitimate interest of the non-nuclear-weapon states in establishing categorical security assurances, an interest on which they have repeatedly said their continued adherence to the treaty ultimately depends.

The U.S. extended deterrence doctrine has been emulated and thus reinforced by France, Russia, and the United Kingdom, all of whom have advanced similar qualifications to the security assurances they have issued.[3] Because the nuclear arsenals of Russia and the United States contain more than 95 percent of the nuclear weapons believed to exist, those two countries together effectively set the global standard. There is, however, a meaningful difference between them. Russia, whose conventional force capabilities are not competitive with those of NATO, has far more reason to rely on the extended deterrent effect of nuclear weapons for its own defense than does the United States. In fact, with the world’s most capable military establishment and least vulnerable national territory, the U.S. doctrine is especially subject to serious moral and practical questions.

Those questions are implicitly posed, moreover, by China’s nuclear weapons policy. China has historically had potentially antagonistic security relationships with Russia and the United States and is entangled in one of the world’s most significant remaining disputes over sovereign jurisdiction: the question of the ultimate status of Taiwan, which could become a trigger for active confrontation. China has nonetheless maintained the most limited deployment of the five official nuclear powers and has proclaimed the most restricted doctrine of use. China has repeatedly issued categorical assurance that it would not to be the first to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons at any time or under any circumstances, and those assurances are reflected in its deployment pattern. The most authoritative information indicates that China has less than 100 operational nuclear delivery systems, less than 25 of which could reach the United States and none of which are ever brought to immediately available alert status. Academic speculation aside, nothing in the historical record suggests that this minimal deployment posture and exclusive doctrine of retaliation has provided inadequate deterrent protection for China, despite the fact that it had the most demanding burden during its formative period and arguably still has.

Fundamental Issues

The extended deterrence doctrine has acquired nearly axiomatic status in U.S. security culture, to an extent that even its most glaring defects are generally ignored. Although few if any individuals seriously believe in the existence of an implacable aggressor held in check only by the threat of massive retaliation and poised to exploit any ambiguity of resolve, the continuation of deterrent operations designed against a hypothetical threat of that sort is considered prudent beyond question. That the resulting operational coupling of large U.S. and Russian alert forces creates the possibility of inadvertent catastrophe is dismissed as a negligible risk despite the directly applicable folk wisdom embodied in Murphy’s law: if something can go wrong, it eventually will.

Even more remarkably, the fact that large dispersed deployments increase the risk that terrorists might seize a weapon or an equivalent amount of explosive material is accepted despite frequently articulated fears of exactly that possibility. Current mainstream discussion appears willing to consider reducing active deployments to the 1,500-warhead level but not below 1,000. That latter figure might begin to impose meaningful constraint on the destructive potential of the U.S. deterrent force, but the former would not. There is no prominently articulated support for emulating China’s categorical assurances even from those who have recently advocated the elimination of nuclear weapons as an ultimate goal.

Despite its impressive hold over the U.S. security establishment, however, the extended deterrence doctrine is not assured indefinite reign. It has been undermined within the security bureaucracy by a radical assault from an intense minority faction promoting decisive military superiority as an ultimate substitute for deterrence. Successfully evoking the authority of President George W. Bush, they have advanced a doctrine of preventive war euphemistically labeled pre-emption. In an address to the West Point graduating class in 2002 and in an ensuing review of nuclear weapons policy, Bush reserved the right to initiate the use of force, including nuclear weapons if necessary, to prevent the acquisition of nuclear weapons by states considered to be inherently hostile to the United States.[4] In his 2002 State of the Union address,[5] Bush named Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as instances; in the perception of the world, he implemented the doctrine in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, unjustifiably as it turned out. Meanwhile, his administration issued a series of military planning documents proclaiming the intention to dominate space for national military advantage and began integrating both long-range precision strike weapons and ballistic missile defense into nuclear weapons operations, all of which projects a serious intention to engage in preventive operations.[6]

In the estimate of attentive military planners in China and Russia, the prevention/pre-emption doctrine backed by a rate of military investment that far exceeds their own is an inherent threat to their own deterrent forces, not merely to the named adversaries. If they come to believe that the doctrine has been established in the United States, they will be forced to counteract it in some fashion. That in turn is a threat to those in the professional core of the U.S. establishment who understand that the doctrine is inherently unrealistic and dangerously provocative. It is the unsustainable political project of an ideological minority whose actions have been discredited in Iraq and whose domination can be expected to diminish within the U.S. political system whatever the outcome of the election.

It is distinctly possible that adverse international reactions to the prevention/pre-emption doctrine will ultimately catalyze an accommodating revision of U.S. security policy that sweeps aside the traditional doctrine of extended deterrence as well. That outcome would be a bitter irony for the advocates of decisive superiority, but the threat of terrorist access to nuclear explosives provides a major incentive for that to occur. Admittedly, any hostile nuclear explosion anywhere in the world might trigger an insensate U.S. political reaction, reinforcing the aspiration for military dominance and giving it longer political life. Such an event would not render the aspiration achievable, however, and belligerent emotion would have to yield eventually to implacable fact.

Fortunately, it is more likely that some breach-of-security incident will command sufficient attention to give standing to the obvious common sense solution, namely, an arrangement whereby all nuclear weapons are removed from active operational deployment to secure storage where they can be continuously monitored and accurately counted. Because they could be reactivated if necessary, that arrangement would preserve all of the deterrent effect plausibly required and would essentially eliminate the inherent danger of inadvertent catastrophe. It would also provide much more reliable protection against terrorist exploitation, especially if all weapons-grade nuclear explosives are subjected to the same monitored storage conditions. Under such an arrangement, conveying reassurance of responsible management would be the principal objective. Preservation of a residual deterrent effect, readily achieved by the existence and operational potential of the stored weapons, would be subordinate to that objective.

The relentless underlying reality is that the process of globalization has rendered massive imperial aggression against any of the major established states virtually infeasible but is subjecting all of them to the disruptive threat of dissident violence emanating from the breakdown of legitimate authority in fragile jurisdictions. Common interest in preventing severe disruption of the global economy gives all major states strong reason to established higher standards of control over nuclear explosives and other menacing technologies. Those common interests are more significant than any residual threat of imperial aggression or coercive projection of influence. The imperatives of the situation require extensive collaboration for mutual protection rather than belligerent competition for national advantage. The ultimate implication is that reassurance replaces deterrence as the central purpose of security policy.

Defenders of the U.S. extended deterrence doctrine will be quick to point out that it plays an important role in conveying reassurance, as indeed it does for formal allies. Under emerging circumstances, however, it will be vitally important to recognize that extended deterrence does not require and cannot tolerate the initial use of nuclear weapons under any circumstance and that its legitimacy depends on global rather than culturally preferential application. To sustain the traditional doctrine in appropriately subordinated form, the United States will not only have to issue categorical negative security assurances, as China has done, but also globally inclusive positive assurances. It will have to indicate it is prepared to protect any country from unprovoked imperial attack and that it will not itself undertake pre-emptive attack without international authorization. That is the only viable way of justifying the degree of military superiority it will retain for quite some time.

Practical Observations

The U.S. political system does not concentrate executive authority to the degree that would be required to change operational security doctrine. The president and other authoritative agents can and do make doctrinal pronouncements, but institutionalized implementation depends on consensus created by seminal formative experience and lengthy evolution. The Cold War formulation still largely prevails because the United States has not yet encountered a comparably powerful formative experience. Unfortunately, it is an open question whether institutionalized policy can be appropriately altered in response to fundamental changes of circumstance without the motivating and organizing focus of global war, real in the case of World War II and widely imagined during the ensuing Cold War period.

It is not evident that entanglement in civil conflict and fear of associated terrorism will alone drive a fundamental reformulation. The threat involved is much smaller in scale in any given instance and different in character but not so different as to compel consensual reformulation. Nonetheless, current agonies of policy in Iraq and Afghanistan will clearly be formative experiences of some enduring consequence, and the lessons eventually drawn are likely to feature the importance of global collaboration. It is very unlikely that acceptable stabilization can be achieved in either instance without constructive engagement with Iran and significant assistance from Russia and China in accomplishing the degree of engagement required. That in turn will require fundamental accommodation with all three countries involving categorical negative assurances and substantial positive ones as well. Most immediately, however, that process will probably be burdened by the Russian action in Georgia, which is actually a localized event resulting from the failure of accommodation but is being depicted by defenders of the established doctrine as an ominous indication of broader imperialist impulse.

It is more likely that the consequences of global warming will eventually become imposing enough to force fundamental accommodation and the reformulation of policy necessary to accomplish it. Reliably effective action requires a massive transformation to energy generating technologies that do not emit carbon gases, which is unlikely to be accomplished on sufficient scale without substantial expansion of nuclear power generation. That in turn could not be safely or practically accomplished without new reactor designs, much more secure management of the fuel cycle, and intimate collaboration between the sources of finance and technology—primarily the European Union, Russia, and the United States—and the leading venues of application—China, India, and the developing world generally. Fundamental security accommodation would be an indispensable precondition.

Whatever the degree of accommodation eventually achieved, it is reasonable to expect that negative and positive security assurances will have increasing prominence in the regulation of security relationships. The disparities in military investment and resulting operational capability between the United States and everyone else virtually preclude equitable restriction of military capabilities and therefore make credible restraint on behavior essential. It will be increasingly incumbent on the United States to convey reassurance about the rules and circumstances under which its military establishment operates. It will be incumbent on potential adversaries to accept restrictions on behavior that preclude justification of coercive action. It will be incumbent on all to work out routine documentation of compliance more continuous and more convincing than traditional methods of adversarial verification. That is a predictable trend, however discouraging immediate events and traditionally interpreted history may appear to be.

John Steinbruner is director of the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM) and chairman of the board of directors of the Arms Control Association.


1. “Statement of Secretary of State Vance: U.S. Assurance on Non-Use of Nuclear Weapons, June 12, 1978,” Department of State Bulletin, August 1978, p. 52, ACDA, Documents on Disarmament, v. 1978, p. 384.
2. George Bunn, “The Legal Status of U.S. Negative Security Assurances to Non-Nuclear Weapon States,” Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 4, No. 3 (Spring-Summer 1997), pp. 1-17.
3. A conceptual distinction is often made between extending the deterrent effect from one state to another and extending it to forms of attack other than nuclear weapons. The operational doctrines of France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States all include both forms of extension.
4. Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, “President Bush Delivers Graduation Speech at West Point,” June 1, 2003.
5. Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, “President Delivers State of the Union Address,” January 29, 2002.
6. Nancy Gallagher and John D. Steinbruner, “Reconsidering the Rules for Space Security,” American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2008, pp. 25-29.

In terms of operational practice as distinct from political rhetoric, institutionalized security policy in the United States is based on two presumptions: that imperial aggression is the principal form of threat and that the countervailing threat of deterrent retaliation is the most decisive method of protection. This formulation was established during the Cold War and has been retained in its aftermath. Because no country can plausibly threaten immediate imperial aggression against U.S. territory, the formulation is now justified as a hedge against the rise of an unnamed peer competitor. For many other countries, however, the United States itself is the most credible potential embodiment of such a threat. (Continue)

Avoiding a Perfect Storm: Recharting the NPT Review Process

Jean du Preez

Forty years after the signing of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), cracks are growing in the cornerstone of the nuclear nonproliferation regime. This grand bargain among nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon states has in recent years been hamstrung by deep divisions among its members over past and future implementation of all its provisions. These divisions have exposed the treaty’s weaknesses, including its inadequate and lopsided enforcement mechanism, opportunities for abuse of the inalienable right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, and its lack of universality.

When the states-parties agreed in 1995 to extend the life of the treaty indefinitely, they did so as part of an integral package of decisions and one resolution.[1] This package, anchored to a legal requirement in the treaty,[2] represents a threshold in the treaty’s history and as such changed the way in which the treaty’s implementation was reviewed. The accord’s continued existence was linked to a set of “political conditions”—the Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Nuclear Disarmament [3]—and a new process to review the treaty’s effective implementation. Together, these decisions and the Middle East resolution, which endorsed the creation of a zone free of nuclear weapons as well as other weapons of mass destruction convinced many states, in particular those from the Nonaligned Movement (NAM)[4], to support the indefinite extension decision and to barter away the possibility that they could use the prospect of holding up future extensions as a bargaining chip. Because this unspoken bargain represented the achievement of “permanence with accountability,”[5] it continues to be widely regarded as the way for non-nuclear-weapon-states to maintain some pressure on nuclear-weapon states to stick to their part of the NPT grand bargain.

Five years later, the 2000 NPT Review Conference successfully adopted a fully negotiated outcome document, which not only solidified the controversial 1995 decision to remove the leverage built into the treaty by extending it indefinitely but further defined the nuclear disarmament program of action provided for in the 1995 Principles and Objective decision and, by implication, NPT Article VI (on nuclear disarmament). To this end, states-parties agreed to pursue “13 practical steps”[6] toward nuclear disarmament that include an “unequivocal undertaking” by the nuclear-weapon-states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

Since the milestone 2000 review conference, the achievement of the treaty’s objectives and those agreed to at previous review conferences have been impeded by a number of political, economic, and regional security obstacles, some of which are internal to the NPT, while others largely relate to external threats. Thus, convergence among the lack of political determination among its parties to bridge deep differences, negative tactics employed by some to emphasize certain aspects of the treaty while ignoring others, and a review process that allows delegations simply to talk to each other instead of negotiating agreeable solutions, provided the near perfect storm in which the 2005 review conference was doomed to sink.

Regrettably, the indicators of another looming disaster are already appearing on the horizon, and this one could prove even more damaging to the treaty regime. Another failed review conference will erode confidence in the treaty’s validity, further energizing theories by some analysts that states will break out of the regime and potentially acquire nuclear weapons. States-parties thus have a daunting responsibility to ensure that the 2010 review conference successfully discharges its mandate by strengthening the treaty’s implementation and setting realistic and achievable goals for the future.

As if the challenges on how to bridge the deep divisions among states are not difficult enough, the state-parties are faced with an equally complicated conundrum: how to promote success in 2010 within the straitjacket of the current treaty review process. The so-called enhanced strengthened review process adopted at the 2000 review conference effectively delays useful negotiations on substantive issues until the final preparatory session, further diminishing the chances for success in 2010.

The possibility of avoiding another shipwreck still exists. Doing so will require next year’s preparatory session and the 2010 review conference to return to a course that allowed for successful review conferences in 1995 and 2000.

Successful review conferences and international negotiations obviously require more than good processes. Indeed, at a time that the NPT is facing so many challenges, it may seem besides the point to fine-tune the treaty’s procedural machinery. Yet, the history and practice of international negotiations have proven that the process and environment in which negotiations occur are of critical importance for successfully negotiated outcomes. Equally important are the way in which decisions on a negotiated outcome are taken and how outcomes are defined.

Lessons From the 1995 and 2000 Review Conferences

Historically, the approach both to process and decision-making vis-à-vis the NPT has been a rather inconsistent one. At the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference, the states-parties decided to institutionalize and strengthen the treaty’s built-in review process [7] by mandating that annual preparatory committee (PrepCom) meetings[8] be held to consider substantive issues related to treaty implementation, agree on procedural preparations for the review conference, and make recommendations to the conference toward this end. Just as importantly, this strengthened review process was tied to a series of benchmarks that helped make the indefinite extension of the treaty possible.

Because fruitful negotiations were not considered possible at the review conferences due to time constraints and the level of acrimonious exchanges, the preparatory process designed in 1995 provided a mechanism that allowed for negotiations to take place during the PrepCom sessions, designed as mini-review conferences. The drafters of this process intended for each PrepCom to work on the basis of a “rolling text” developed in previous session(s). In addition, the 1995 Principles and Objectives document provided for the first time a set of benchmarks to gauge the implementation of the treaty and established a forward-looking agenda, including a clearly defined program of action on nuclear disarmament.

The fruits of this effort were evident at the 2000 review conference—the only such gathering to produce a fully negotiated, comprehensive consensus final document.[9] To be sure, there were some hiccups in the process. States-parties struggled to make substantive recommendations at the PrepCom sessions, and a dispute over the Middle East led to a collapse of the 1998 meeting. Nonetheless, groups such as the New Agenda Coalition were able to take advantage of the fact that the strengthened review process built its agenda from one PrepCom session to the next to increase pressure on the nuclear-weapon states. By the time the 2000 conference started, the nuclear-weapon-states, especially the United States, were aware that the New Agenda Coalition represented a serious negotiating partner and came to the table ready to make a deal. The New Agenda group of states also had the time to feel out the boundaries of what could be possible and to build alliances among the nonaligned and Western states-parties alike.

Despite the relative success of the 2000 review conference, however, the conference president, Algerian Ambassador Abdallah Baali, concluded that it had failed because of its tendency to be sidetracked over specific issues. He introduced an “improved” review process, which constituted a significant shift in how business has since been conducted in preparing for review conferences and may have impaired their chances for success. Since 2000, the first two PrepCom sessions no longer operate in “negotiation mode” but instead only discuss principles, objectives, and ways in order to promote the full implementation of the treaty, as well as its universality.[10] In practice, therefore, states-parties can wait until the third preparatory session, held only a year before a review conference, to start negotiating consensus recommendations to the conference. It was also determined that each PrepCom session should summarize its results and forward this summary to the next session for further discussion, but no clear guidance was provided on how and by whom the summaries should be prepared.

Why Did the 2005 Conference Sink?

It is not the intent of this article to dwell on the reasons why the 2005 review conference failed, but the conference was a victim of the wide gap in state priorities on how to deal with the many serious threats facing the treaty in a 21st-century security environment. It should also be recognized that the conference was set up to fail following the deadlock that emerged at the 2004 PrepCom over the conference agenda and disagreements over the chairman’s summary.

Still another less noticeable factor may have contributed equally to the conference’s downfall: the 2000 changes to the review process that favored those who lacked political commitment to the treaty’s goals, used negative tactics, or negotiated in bad faith. For instance, France argued that the outcome of each review conference stands on its own and continued to dispute the agreement at the 2000 conference that delinked the “unequivocal undertaking” by nuclear-weapon states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals from the notion in Article VI that nuclear disarmament is conditional on “general and complete disarmament.” The United States, with French support, blatantly dismissed the significance of the outcome of the 1995 and 2000 conferences, especially the 13 practical steps toward nuclear disarmament, arguing that the agenda for the 2005 conference should not refer in any way to these conferences. These negative tactics led to a deadlock because the NAM states refused to vitiate the historic significance of agreements reached at these conferences. Egypt, in particular, refused to accept any effort to negate the importance of the 1995 resolution on the Middle East. When the United States criticized Iran for not complying with its NPT obligations, Iran responded that the 2005 conference should focus on compliance with all the treaty’s objectives, including what it said was the failure of the United States and other nuclear-weapon states to meet their nuclear disarmament obligations.

Although the 2002 and 2003 PrepCom sessions were able to deliver smooth outcomes in light of their mandate not to negotiate but only discuss issues, this only stored up problems for the 2004 session. This session had to identify and reach agreement on substantive recommendations to the review conference as well as address relevant procedural issues, including the establishment of an agenda. This proved to be a tall order given the political environment in which the meeting was held, and the fact that the gathering lasted less than 10 days. The 2004 PrepCom session inevitably failed to make any recommendations, which had a direct impact on the failed outcome of the 2005 review conference.

Is Another Perfect Storm Brewing?

Some diplomats and analysts want to believe that although the review cycle for the 2010 conference got off to a bumpy start, it is back on track and that prospects are not as gloomy as they seem. An honest reflection of what transpired at the 2007 and 2008 PrepCom sessions and the prospects for 2009, however, shows a different picture.

After more than a week’s bickering over the agenda, the 2007 PrepCom session almost did not adopt a report, given the negative tactics by Iran. Although the summary by the chairman, Yukiya Amano of Japan, contained a rich menu of items raised during the session’s very limited debate, its importance was reduced to that of a national working paper in order to achieve a compromise. Likewise, although the 2008 session was not crippled by senseless arguments over the agenda, the substantive debate reminded of a staged beauty pageant in which delegations rolled out carefully crafted statements on well-known positions. Limited substantive exchanges occurred between delegations, and no attempts were made to narrow the differences. Deep differences over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, concerns regarding Syrian intentions, and efforts to limit access to nuclear energy further, including the civilian fuel cycle, could steer the 2009 PrepCom and the 2010 conference into yet another disaster.

To be sure, the PrepCom will be remembered for some positive developments. Although the 2008 summary by the chairman, Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko of Ukraine, suffered the same fate as that of the 2007 PrepCom chair, Yelchenko’s efforts to capture the discussions in a comprehensive and balanced manner were widely recognized. Yet, because his summary was also reduced in the end to a mere working paper, it has been buried among the numerous national working papers and reports submitted to the PrepCom. It is therefore unlikely to form the basis of the 2009 PrepCom’s work. Likewise, the nuclear-weapon states managed to issue a joint statement shortly before the end of the session, which although significant for the mere fact that it was the first such statement since the 2000 review conference, reflected a lowest-common-denominator approach and added very little substance in preparation for the next review conference. Less recognized but perhaps more important, Yelchenko was able to push through five significant stand-alone decisions related to the chairmanship and venue of the 2009 session, the presidency and venue of the 2010 review conference, and important budgetary issues.

Next year, the review cycle will be at the same stage as the 2004 PrepCom session, and the cracks in the improved review process are again showing. In fact, they may be getting worse. Compared to 2004, the 2009 PrepCom will not have the luxury of having factual summaries attached to the official reports on its previous sessions, but mere working papers. The 2009 PrepCom will therefore have little substantive material with which to work and, given the political climate, is likely to face the same fate as the 2004 PrepCom session. Before that happens, the states-parties should reflect on their inabilities to reach out and resolve deep differences and find ways to fix the review process.

To achieve success, states should recognize that the value of review conferences does not depend only on the ability of states-parties to adopt a final document by consensus. Instead of trying to reach agreement over carefully crafted, but often meaningless diplomatic wording in a final declaration, a successful review conference should be measured against the ability of the states-parties to cooperate in pursuit of common and agreed objectives to strengthen the future implementation of the treaty. In this regard, important lessons can be drawn from the 1995, 2000, and 2005 conferences.

Reconstructing the Review Process

Just as the 1995 and 2000 conferences set benchmarks to gauge the treaty’s implementation, such as the 1995 Principles and Objectives, and established a forward-looking agenda (e.g., the 13 practical steps in 2000), each review conference should designate specific topics for consideration at succeeding PrepCom sessions. These topics should be anchored to a set of forward-looking nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament objectives (see below) and should allow for the inclusion of urgent issues such as withdrawal if called for by states-parties. Annual states-parties meetings of approximately two weeks each should be held to promote common understandings and effective action on specific issues designated by the preceding review conference. Each state-party meeting should culminate in a short two- or three-day preparatory committee session aimed at taking specific substantive and procedural decisions related to the review conference. A way to reflect the work of the PrepCom that may avoid a deadlock at the end of the preparatory process would be for each PrepCom chair to prepare a compendium of all substantive proposals made during a particular session, to be attached to a brief chairman’s summary and passed on to the following session(s). This “rolling compendium,” together with early and continuing coordination among the PrepCom chairs, and if possible the presumed president of the review conference, could provide the basis for a successful outcome of the conference. The review conference will consider the work of the states-parties meetings and the PrepCom sessions and decide on any further action.

A similar process following the ill-fated attempt by the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) ad hoc group to negotiate a legally binding BWC verification system led to significant progress in that treaty’s implementation. The 2001 decision by the BWC states-parties included an element that is not apparent in the NPT process, namely the means to undertake substantive consideration of what can be done to achieve further progress in the future and to strengthen the treaty’s implementation. The inclusion of such an element in the NPT process would be consistent with the decision that was taken at the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference.

Streamline Decision-Making

Because review conferences are tasked to review the treaty’s implementation over the preceding five years and to take decisions on ways to strengthen the treaty, the strengthened review process should facilitate and not pre-emptively force agreements on the most critical issues. Moreover, because the need for consensus decisions at review conference are not anchored anywhere in the treaty, the practice of seeking consensus agreement on all issues should be reconsidered. The lack of agreement over one issue has led to the downfall or near downfall of past review conferences. For instance, despite having reached a milestone agreement on nuclear disarmament (the 13 practical steps), the 2000 review conference almost collapsed during its final days given U.S. determination to single out Iraq for lack of compliance. Ironically, similar tactics that focused on Iran contributed to the failure of the 2005 conference and hijacked the chairman’s reports of the 2007 and 2008 PrepCom sessions.

To avoid yet another divisive debate over past implementation of the treaty’s obligations, the review conferences, starting with the 2010 conference, should avoid seeking consensus agreement on the “review” part of its outcome. Although important to consider in depth the implementation of all the treaty’s obligations and address concerns over noncompliance, it is highly unlikely for any state to incriminate itself by agreeing to negative language about its treaty obligations. Instead of a consensus review document, the conference could issue a separate document, drafted in the style of the 1985 Final Document, reflecting in a balanced manner the discussions and concerns about the treaty’s implementation status. Admittedly, given the current political environment, opposition to this approach is likely to come from many states worried that documents that put them under pressure are agreed on while documents that put others under pressure are not or receive the watered-down (I said, he said) approach. Whatever the approach, it would be important to separate the review part of future conference outcomes from more forward-looking parts.

Nuclear Nonproliferation and Nuclear Disarmament Objectives

Building on and in no way diminishing the significance or continued applicability of the 1995 Principles and Objectives document and the 2000 Final Document, including the 13 steps for nuclear disarmament, a set of additional objectives should be developed around a balanced plan of action for consideration and adoption at the 2010 conference. As opposed to seeking consensus, in what is likely to be a highly divisive atmosphere, on how to reflect the treaty’s past implementation, the 2010 review conference should pursue agreement on a set of forward-looking nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament objectives that recognizes the outcomes of the 1995 and 2000 conferences and that take into account the changes in the geopolitical and international security environment. Such a set of updated objectives could serve as a lodestar to regain confidence in the treaty’s core bargains, as the 1995 Principles and Objectives were designed to do. As such, these objectives could include the following elements:

1. Universal application of nonproliferation and disarmament principles, including ways to engage the outlier states without rewarding them for behavior contrary to the NPT norm.

2. Means to strengthen disincentives against NPT breakouts.

3. Methods for strengthening existing nonproliferation obligations, including strengthening comprehensive safeguards (applied with the 1997 Model Additional Protocol), application of such safeguards as a condition of supply, and suspending nuclear cooperation with states found by the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors to be in noncompliance with their safeguard agreements until such violations have been redressed.

4. Renewed commitment to the peaceful use of nuclear energy in which states developing advanced capabilities are obligated to also accept a responsibility to take additional measures to assure the international community of their bona fides and in which particular importance is attached to development of multinational fuel-cycle facilities and assurances of nuclear fuel supply.

5. Practical and achievable nuclear disarmament goals, including a renewed commitment by all states, including non-nuclear-weapon states that have not yet done so, to ratify and fully support the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT); starting or supporting negotiations on a verifiable fissile material ban treaty that take into account both nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament objectives; an agreement among nuclear-weapon states to take their operational arsenals off of “hair-trigger alert” and a commitment not to research, develop, or deploy types of nuclear warheads fundamentally different from those present in their possession; the withdrawal of U.S. tactical weapons from NATO non-nuclear-weapon states; and agreement between Russia and the United States to withdraw this type of nuclear weapon to central storage on national territory for eventual elimination.

6. Means to counter nuclear terrorism, including the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1540, ratification of the amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, and minimization of use of highly enriched uranium and plutonium in the civilian nuclear sector.

7. Regional nonproliferation and disarmament approaches, including means to implement fully the 1995 resolution on the Middle East, means to bring into force all existing nuclear-weapon-free-zone treaties with the full support of the nuclear-weapon states, and the establishment of additional verification measures as confidence-building tools in regions of proliferation concern.

8. Security assurances, including through an unequivocal commitment, preferably in the context of the Security Council, by all states with nuclear weapons to no-first-use policies, as well as the establishment of new mechanisms designed to promote legally binding negative security assurances to NPT states-parties in full compliance with their nonproliferation obligations.

9. Accountability of all states-parties to their treaty obligations by means of a robust reporting system.

10. Greater reliance on education, training, and engagement of civil society in the process of strengthening the NPT norm.

Finally, the pursuit of a new deal would not be possible without strong and unambiguous determination on the part of all states-parties. Although some would argue that a new deal, such as the one described in this article, is beyond the realm of the possible or even desirable, the states-parties no longer have the luxury to continue doing business as usual. The warning alarms of another perfect storm have already sounded. It is time for the states-parties and those who play a leading role in the treaty’s review process to wake up, take a firm grip on the helm, and steer the NPT toward calmer seas. The states-parties should urgently replace their business-as-usual approach, based on methods that have failed, with a new, balanced, and forward-looking deal. Whatever the approach in pursuit of such a new deal, it would be of critical importance for all states not to approach individual elements singularly. Any desire to address only one aspect, whether nuclear nonproliferation, nuclear disarmament, or peaceful uses of nuclear energy, is a recipe for another perfect storm and should be avoided at all cost.

Jean du Preez is professor for nonproliferation studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and director of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Project at the JamesMartinCenter for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California. As a South African diplomat, he participated in the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference and the 2000 NPT Review Conference, where he was involved in designing and negotiating the successful outcomes of those conferences.


1. The 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference adopted without a vote a package of three decisions, comprising Decision 1 entitled “Strengthening the Review Process for the Treaty,” Decision 2 entitled “Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament,” and Decision 3 entitled “Extension of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.” The conference decided thereby “that, as a majority exists among States party to the Treaty for its indefinite extension, in accordance with Article X, Paragraph 2, the Treaty shall continue in force indefinitely.” The conference also adopted a resolution on the Middle East, sponsored by the three NPT depositary states.

2. Article X(2) of the treaty states that, 25 years after the entry into force of the Treaty, “a conference shall be convened to decide whether the Treaty shall continue in force indefinitely, or shall be extended for an additional fixed period or periods. This decision shall be taken by a majority of the Parties to the Treaty.” This provision provided the states-parties with the potential to terminate the treaty if they felt that it no longer served their national or collective interests.

3. The Principles and Objectives document was adopted as the second decision by the conference and was designed as a set of benchmarks to assess progress in the following areas: universality, nonproliferation, disarmament, nuclear-weapon-free zones, security assurances, safeguards, and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. As such, it included a nuclear disarmament program of action, including the conclusion of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), a fissile materials cutoff treaty, and the “determined pursuit” by the nuclear-weapon states of “systematic and progressive efforts” to reduce nuclear arsenals. It also called for “further steps” to assure non-nuclear-weapon states-parties against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. It further clarified that the treaty’s “inalienable right” to peaceful uses of nuclear energy (Article IV) must be applied “in conformity with Articles I, II as well as III of the Treaty.” It also expanded support for the principle that new nuclear “supply arrangements” should require full-scope IAEA safeguards “as a necessary precondition,” i.e., safeguards over all nuclear materials of the importing, non-nuclear-weapon state.

4. The Nonaligned Movement (NAM) was formed during the Cold War as an organization of states that did not seek to align themselves formally with the United States or the Soviet Union but sought to remain independent or neutral. With the exception of India and Pakistan, all 118 NAM members are parties to the NPT. NAM states-parties have traditionally adopted critical positions on the lack of progress toward nuclear disarmament.

5. See Jayantha Dhanapala, Multilateral Diplomacy and the NPT: An Insider’s Account (Geneva: UN Institute for Disarmament Research, 2005), p. 57.

6. These practical steps resulted as a consequence of direct negotiations between the nuclear-weapon states and an influential group of non-nuclear-weapon states, the so-called New Agenda Coalition (Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and Sweden) and provided the means toward the successful outcome of the 2000 review conference.

7. Article VIII.3 of the NPT mandated that “[f]ive years after the entry into force of this Treaty, a conference of parties to the Treaty shall be held…in order to review the implementation of this Treaty.” In the years though 1995, it became accepted as standard practice that review conferences would be held every five years, although the NPT specified that this was optional.

8. The 1995 conference decided that, beginning in 1997, the PrepCom session should hold, normally for a duration of 10 working days, a meeting in each of the three years prior to the review conference. If necessary, a fourth preparatory meeting may be held in the year of the conference. This decision led to the established practice of holding the first PrepCom session of subsequent review cycles two years after the preceding review conference.

9. Only three review conferences were able to produce final declarations. At the first review conference in 1975, when the treaty only had 91 states-parties as opposed to 188 today, a short final declaration was agreed by consensus, partly as a consequence of the “iron fist” leadership style of the Swedish conference president, Inga Thorsson. The 1985 review conference, under the presidency of Mohamed Shaker of Egypt, effectively used a system of informal consultations to formulate a final declaration that was agreed by consensus, even though differences of view on key issues were apparent within it. For more, see NPT Briefing Book, 2008 Edition (Southampton UK: MCIS/CNS, 2008) p. 18.

10. For the 2000 review conference decision on the improved strengthened review process, see 2000 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Final Document, Vol. I, NPT/CONF.2000/28.

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty: Effectively Verifiable

David Hafemeister

In October 1999, the U.S. Senate declined to consent to ratification of the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Although the floor debate itself was so short as to be perfunctory, verification concerns played a role in the Senate’s action. At the time, some senators contended that the treaty’s verification provisions were inadequate to deal with potential cheating, despite assertions to the contrary by the White House. Since then, the Bush administration has refused to reconsider the CTBT, despite widespread, almost unanimous international support for the pact.[1]

In the past year or two, however, there has been growing support across the U.S. political spectrum for Senate reconsideration of the CTBT. A bipartisan group of four senior statesmen, including former Secretaries of State George Shultz and Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of Defense William Perry, and former Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), have called for the Senate to re-examine and ratify the treaty, which prohibits the conduct of any nuclear weapons test explosion or any other nuclear explosion anywhere. [2]

The Democratic presidential nominee, Senator Barack Obama (Ill.), has also endorsed this call. In a July 16 speech in Indianapolis, he said, “[W]e’ll work with the Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and then seek its earliest possible entry into force.” The Republican presidential nominee, Senator John McCain (Ariz.), who voted against the treaty in 1999, said in a May 27 speech that if elected, he would “begin a dialogue with our allies, and with the U.S. Senate, to identify ways we can move forward to limit testing in a verifiable manner that does not undermine the security or viability of our nuclear deterrent. This would include taking another look at the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to see what can be done to overcome the shortcomings that prevented it from entering into force.” How McCain might try to address perceived shortcomings on the verifiability of the CTBT is not clear.

The high-level calls for CTBT reconsideration reflect the growing recognition that renewed U.S. leadership on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament is needed to shore up the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). The CTBT has long been seen as a litmus test of the nuclear-weapon states’ commitment to fulfilling their NPT Article VI commitment to end the arms race and pursue measures leading to nuclear disarmament. As of Sept. 26, 2008, 180 states have signed the CTBT and 145 have ratified, including all U.S. NATO allies. Iraq is the most recent signatory. However, the United States and eight other states, which are necessary for CTBT entry into force, have not ratified the treaty.

Since 1996, only three nations have defied a de facto global nuclear test moratorium: India, North Korea, and Pakistan. In each case, the international community immediately and strongly condemned the tests. Moreover, international verification capabilities have been tested and found sufficient to verify compliance with the CTBT. A particularly noteworthy example occurred in October 2006 when the extensive network of sensors in the International Monitoring System (IMS) set up to monitor CTBT compliance easily detected a relatively low-yield (0.6 kiloton) nuclear test explosion by North Korea. This detection occurred even without the full spectrum of nuclear explosion verification and monitoring capabilities that would be provided for under the CTBT. These capabilities include the possibility of short-notice, on-site inspections.

When and if U.S. policymakers decide to reconsider the CTBT, they will find that CTBT entry into force would not only strengthen the norm against testing, but would increase the technical and legal capabilities to monitor, detect, and deter violations of the test ban norm. They will also discover that since the 1999 Senate vote on the CTBT, there have been significant improvements in technical verification capabilities.[3] Together, these developments mean that few questions should remain about whether the CTBT meets the standard for “effective verification” as set down by top national security officials when the Senate considered and eventually supported previous arms control treaties.

How Much Verification Is Enough for Effective Verification?

In his Sept. 22, 1997, letter transmitting the CTBT to the Senate, President Bill Clinton wrote that “our National Intelligence Means, together with the Treaty’s verification regime and our diplomatic efforts, provide the United States with the means to make the CTBT effectively verifiable.”

A second attempt to convince a two-thirds majority of the Senate that the CTBT is verifiable will depend in part on achieving a clear understanding of what effective verification means. The U.S. standard for effective verification of an arms control treaty was defined during Senate consideration of ratification of the 1988 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and the 1991 START. During INF Treaty ratification hearings, Ambassador Paul Nitze defined effective verification: “[I]f the other side moves beyond the limits of the treaty in any militarily significant way, we would be able to detect such violation in time to respond effectively and thereby deny the other side the benefit of the violation.”

Thus, cheating that could threaten U.S. national security in a militarily significant way must be detected in sufficient time. In the case of a nation that already has nuclear weapons, effective verification is determined by the military significance of the additional nuclear-weapons capabilities it might obtain by cheating, beyond those it had before the treaty was in place.

During the START ratification hearings, Secretary of State James Baker repeated the Nitze definition of effective verification but added a criterion: “Additionally, the verification regime should enable us to detect patterns of marginal violations that do not present immediate risk to U.S. security.”[4]

The intelligence community has a somewhat different approach based on statistical criteria. High-confidence verification, in the community’s view, is the ability to detect 90 percent of the violations of treaty provisions. For the CTBT, this means the ability to detect 90 percent of nuclear tests at a determined threshold yield without regard to the military significance of any particular violation. Medium confidence implies 50 percent detection probability and low confidence implies 10 percent detection probability.

When a violation is suspected, the level of confidence in the monitoring data determines which adjectives are placed in front of “violation.” The terminology reminds us of the judicial standards of beyond a reasonable doubt (actual violation), preponderance of the evidence (likely or probable violation), and uncertain whether to prosecute (possible violation).

It is important to correlate these statistical categories with considered judgments of how yields and numbers of nuclear test explosions in violation of the CTBT would or would not affect the overall military balance or put U.S. security at risk and how it would affect the United States’ ability to respond to such cheating.

CTBT Monitoring Progress Since the 1999 Senate Vote

The 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty bans nuclear testing in the atmosphere, outer space, and underwater and is verified solely by classified national means. In contrast, the CTBT bans nuclear testing everywhere, and it has extensive verification provisions. These include the IMS, consisting of remote sensors (seismic, radionuclide, hydroacoustic, and infrasound);[5] confidence-building measures; provisions for consultation and clarification; and, once the treaty enters into force, the possibility of short-notice, on-site inspections, as well as national means. CTBT verification concerns have primarily focused on possible cheating by underground testing.

When the Senate considered the CTBT, some treaty critics suggested that it could only be monitored at testing levels of about one kiloton. This misperception arose in part from the fact that CTBT negotiators decided that the IMS should be designed to monitor nonevasive detonations above a threshold of about one kiloton anywhere in the world with high confidence. In reality, however, actual test ban verification capabilities were much better and have only improved since then. Not only have IMS monitoring technologies gotten better, but so have the capabilities of civilian seismic networks and national technical monitoring systems.[6]

Indeed, a 2002 panel of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) determined that “underground nuclear explosions can be reliably detected and can be identified as explosions, using IMS data down to a yield of 0.1 kilotons (100 tons) in hard rock if conducted anywhere in Europe, Asia, North Africa and North America”[7] Advances in regional seismology have provided additional confidence. For some locations, such as Russia’s former nuclear test site at Novaya Zemlya, the use of new seismic arrays and regionally located seismic stations has lowered the threshold to below 0.01 kilotons.

As an example, take the 0.6-kiloton, North Korean test noted above. This nuclear explosion was promptly detected and identified from signals recorded at 31 seismic stations in Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America, including 22 IMS stations established by the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization.[8] The U.S. Geological Survey posted a good estimate of the test location five hours after the explosion occurred.

Seismic data from underground chemical explosions show that far-lower-yield explosions would have been detected in the Korean region, as low as 0.002 kilotons in fact, a factor of 50 below the 0.1-kiloton NAS monitoring threshold and a factor of 500 below the nominal 1-kiloton threshold. [9] The 0.002-kiloton threshold is not applicable everywhere, but it is evidence that considerably lower limits can be obtained than previously assumed, particularly if there is a sufficient density of regional seismic stations.

Regional monitoring is based on signals that have traveled via the earth’s crust and upper mantle and have been recorded at distances up to about 1,500 kilometers. Better results are obtained with regional monitoring than with longer-range or teleseismic stations, which measure body waves that travel below the mantle. New algorithms, closer access, and seismic models enhance the ability to improve location estimates and discriminate better among nuclear tests, earthquakes, chemical explosions for mining, or other phenomena. For example, scientists have examined whether regional data from seismographs located at a distance of 500-1,500 kilometers could shed new light on 69 (out of 340) Soviet underground nuclear tests that took place at the Semipalatinsk Test Site in Kazakhstan during the Cold War but whose origin times, coordinates, and magnitudes had not been publicly determined. Using regional data, scientists were able to provide information on all but two tests over 1 ton (0.001 kilotons). This achievement took place with seismographs employing old technology. Newer technology provides even more potential.[10]

Moreover, regional monitoring has been enhanced by the continued global expansion of the IMS. As of Sept. 26, 2008, 233 of the 337 IMS facilities were certified, 30 were operational but not yet certified, 36 were under construction, and 38 are planned. Since 89 percent of the IMS facilities are now certified, operational, or under construction, it is reasonable to expect that 95 percent of the IMS network will be completed in about five years. Additional data can be retrieved quickly from the 120-station Auxiliary IMS network and from the vast Global Seismic Network.

The IMS has also improved the ability to detect radionuclides that would be emitted after a nuclear explosion by an order of magnitude. Forty of 80 radionuclide stations will be able to monitor for particulate and gaseous radionuclides. Radionuclides from the subkiloton North Korean test were detected in nearby South Korea and in distant Yellowknife, Canada, more than 7,000 kilometers away.

Experts have also been able to lower thresholds by comparing waveforms from two separate seismic events that are in close proximity. The small relative differences in the waveforms are used to reduce location uncertainties in seismically active regions by factors of 10 to 100, as compared to estimates based on arrival times of seismic waves. This is extremely useful at former test sites, and the technique is being extended to earthquake regions.

A new detection technique, interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR), is widely used by the United States, with its four Lacrosse satellites, as well as by the European Space agency, Canada, and Japan. InSAR can measure the earth’s subsidence (in many cases, to 2-5 millimeters accuracy) after a disruption, depending on the local situation.[11] InSAR is not used to measure nuclear yield but rather to pinpoint the location of the explosion to within 100 meters. In addition, INSAR can discriminate between earthquakes and explosions on the basis of the symmetry of the subsidence pattern. The detection threshold for InSAR is less than 1 kiloton at 500 meters depth for many locations if prior radar data is available, which is now frequently the case. Seismic data of a suspicious event can direct InSAR measurements to enhance the interpretation of the seismic data, and InSAR can provide much better location accuracy to direct on-site inspections of an ambiguous event. Its accuracy of 0.01 square kilometers is vastly better than the CTBT’s allowed upper limit of 1,000 square kilometers.

Evasion Scenarios

In its 2002 report, the NAS panel examined 10 evasion scenarios suggested by the U.S. intelligence community, concluding that “the only evasion scenarios that need to be taken seriously at this time are cavity decoupling and mine masking.”[12] The most commonly cited concern during the Senate debate was cavity decoupling, which is the use of a cavity to muffle the seismic wave from a nuclear explosion. No country is known to have fully decoupled a nuclear explosion in a cavity that was created for that purpose. An explosion is fully decoupled if the cavity is large enough to reduce the nuclear blast pressure on the cavity wall below a critical level (the cavity radius to do this must be larger than 25 meters multiplied by the yield in kilotons to the 1/3 power). The only fully decoupled nuclear test to do this displayed a yield that was reduced by a factor of 70. This was the 1966 Sterling test with a yield of 0.38 kilotons in a 34-meter diameter Mississippi salt cavity, which had been produced from an earlier 5.3-kiloton nuclear explosion. In 1976 the Soviet Union managed to partially decouple by only a factor of 12 with a test in a salt cavity in Azgir. The 9-kiloton weapon was too large to fully decouple in the 72­-meter diameter cavity, which had been created by an earlier 64-kiloton explosion.

During the 1999 Senate debate, then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) mistakenly claimed that a 70-kiloton explosion in a cavity could be hidden from IMS monitoring. To do this would require a cavity with a 200-meter diameter (equivalent to a 50-story building) with an area of 0.13 square kilometers at a depth of 1 kilometer. No such cavity has ever been constructed, and it would be essentially impossible to construct one physically or to use such a hypothetical cavity with sufficient secrecy to hide a test.

The NAS panel determined that an explosion in a cavity “cannot be confidently hidden if its yield is larger than 1 or 2” kilotons. The prospect that a country could cheat undetected fails to take into account that nowadays arrays of seismographs and other seismic capabilities can detect and identify many events that take place more than 2,000 kilometers away with yields considerably less than 1 kiloton. It also ignores advances in regional seismology (discussed below). One must also factor in the fact that, for example, 90 percent of underground Soviet tests at Novaya Zemlya vented radioactive debris, as did 40 percent of all Soviet tests.[13] Moreover, one must take into account that, for a successful clandestine test, the actual yield must be limited to the level predicted rather than a higher level (a “yield excursion”). This is a particularly difficult task for new nuclear-weapon states. The panel noted that if an inexperienced state wanted to reduce the risk of detection, “it would probably try to limit test yields to 0.1 [kiloton] or less.”

Venting of radioactive gases is also a problem for any state that might consider a clandestine nuclear test. In fact, it is highly likely that a significant amount (more than 0.1 percent) of radionuclides would be released and then detected by the IMS. The congressional Office of Technology Assessment reported in 1989, for example, that “since 1970, 126 [U.S.] tests have resulted in radioactive materials reaching the atmosphere with a total release of about 54,000 curies. Of this amount, 11,500 curies, roughly one-fifth were due to containment failure and late-time seeps.”[14] Venting from smaller tests can be even more difficult to contain, as the last four U.S. tests that vented had yields of less than 20 kilotons. Some scientists hypothesize that smaller explosions may not sufficiently enclose cavities with a glassified cage to prevent venting. Furthermore, the cavities may not rebound sufficiently to seal fractures with a stress “cage,” making venting more likely and the possibility of avoiding detection even smaller.

In the 1999 Senate debate, treaty opponents pointed to a classified 1996 CTBT National Intelligence Estimate and other intelligence community documents that made cavity cheating appear much too easy by not properly taking into account the six factors listed below. Even if each of these tasks could be carried out with high confidence of avoiding detection, there would only be a cumulative 50 percent chance of avoiding detection of one test and only a 15 percent chance that three tests could be carried out without detection. Yet, it is unlikely that a new nuclear-weapon state even could do this well given the major technical hurdles.

• Violators must be able to avoid yield excursions to prevent a planned clandestine test from being easily detectable. All first tests, including the early atmospheric tests if conducted underground, would have been detectable by the IMS: United States (1945, 21 kilotons), Soviet Union (1949, 20 kilotons), United Kingdom (1952, 25 kilotons), France (1960, 65 kilotons), China (1964, 22 kilotons), India (1974, 12 kilotons), Pakistan (1998, 9 kilotons), North Korea (2006, 0.6 kilotons).

• It is necessary to conceal from satellites materials removed to create a test shaft and cavity.

• Crater and surface changes due to testing must be hidden from InSAR and other technologies. The 1998 Indian and Pakistani test sites were easily located in SPOT commercial images with 5-meter resolution. As noted above, surface subsidence of a few millimeters is observable in many locations with InSAR.
• Practically all the radioactive gases and particles must be trapped. Radionuclide venting is a particularly serious risk for beginning nuclear-weapon states.

• The cheater must avoid the detection of weaker seismic signals by regional seismic stations and seismic arrays. With the advent of more seismic stations in the world, this becomes more difficult.

• The cheater must prevent the detection through national means. Human and other intelligence can provide other information that reveals test preparations. This information can be used by the CTBT Executive Council to authorize an on-site inspection.

What Kind of Cheating Would Matter?

It should be kept in mind that the principal risk that needs to be avoided is that a country under the CTBT could alter the strategic balance between it and the United States.

As noted above, the NAS study concluded that it would be very difficult for states with less nuclear testing experience, such as India, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, and Pakistan, to meet the required conditions to avoid detection by testing at 1 kiloton or less. It is far easier to test in the 10-kiloton range without a specific yield than to test at a specific small yield. The NAS study concluded that “[c]ountries of lesser prior test experience and/or design sophistication” would also lack the sophisticated test-related expertise to obtain “limited improvement of efficiency and weight of unboosted fission weapons compared to 1st-generation weapons not needing testing” from tests at levels of 0.01 kiloton to 1-2 kilotons.[15]

The NAS panel also judged that “[s]tates with extensive prior test experience [Russia and China] are the ones most likely to be able to get away with any substantial degree of clandestine testing.” For example, with difficulty, these states could validate designs for unboosted fission 1-kiloton weapons in a cavity. Yet, very-low-yield tests by nuclear-weapon states, such as Russia and China, should not materially change the strategic balance by themselves. A 1995 JASON panel concluded that testing at 0.5 kilotons would provide only minimal gains in developing a new weapon design.[16] Moreover, at a minimum, several clandestine tests are needed to change design parameters, improving the chance of detection.

Net Benefit Analysis of Three CTBT Situations

The NAS panel examined three global situations: with full compliance to the CTBT, without the CTBT, and with the CTBT with evasions by China, India, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Pakistan, and Russia. The NAS panel concluded that “[t]he worse-case scenario under a no-CTBT regime poses far bigger threats to U.S. security interests—sophisticated nuclear weapons in the hands of many more adversaries—than the worst-case scenario of clandestine testing in a CTBT regime, within the constraints posed by the monitoring system.”[17]

Our discussion has covered only technical issues in a world that is much more complex in its behavior. General John Shalikashvili, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, examined the net benefit of the CTBT by examining all aspects, including political ramifications for two worlds, with and without a CTBT. Shalikashvili’s report suggested a mechanism for CTBT ratification in which the United States would “commit to conducting an intensive joint review of the Test Ban Treaty’s net value for national security ten years after U.S. ratification, and at ten-year intervals thereafter…. If, after these steps, grave doubts remain about the Treaty’s net value for U.S. national security, the President, in consultation with Congress, would be prepared to withdraw from the Test Ban Treaty under the ‘supreme national interests’ clause.”[18] It is widely believed that the United States will not test a nuclear weapon because China and Russia would quickly respond with multiple nuclear tests, leading to a new arms race. In addition, the prevailing wisdom in Washington is that the U.S. effort to halt nuclear proliferation would be greatly damaged if the United States tested. Thus, the United States is constrained by the CTBT, while not gaining the full benefits that would follow from the CTBT being in force.

The CTBT Is Effectively Verifiable

Table 1 displays the monitoring limits for the various CTBT sensor systems from the 2002 NAS report and from other sources. As discussed above, cheating under the CTBT would be far from simple. Even if a country tested in a cavity and managed to carry out each of the six tasks identified above in such a way that the states might have high confidence (90 percent certainty for each task) that each task would not be detected, the cumulative difficulty of hiding such a test would be considerable and almost insurmountable for more than one test.

Still, to provide further assurance, additional monitoring capabilities could be deployed at declared test sites to address extremely small tests, but only after CTBT ratification and then to be followed by further negotiations. Cooperative monitoring near test sites can detect energy releases of less than 10 kilograms (0.00001 kilotons) by using passive-seismic, infrasound, and electromagnetic pulse sensors. Dosimeters placed 2 meters from experiments can detect very, very small fission and fusion yields of less than 1 gram-equivalent (0.000000001 kilotons). There is little military value from such low yield tests by themselves without following with larger tests. Most importantly, undetected cheating at extremely low yields under the CTBT would at most provide only limited benefits that would not adversely affect the strategic balance. A worst-case analysis was carried out by myself for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the Senate ratification report for START I, an approach that was continued for START II ratification.[19] Those reports concluded that potential violations to START I and II were not militarily significant, namely that the Soviets (and then the Russians) would gain little with massive cheating in their ability to hurt U.S. strategic forces beyond what they could do without massive cheating. These results allowed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to determine that START I and II were effectively verifiable. By the same standard, the CTBT is effectively verifiable.

David Hafemeister, science affiliate at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, was the lead technical staffer for evaluations of nuclear test ban monitoring at the Department of State (1987), Senate Foreign Relations Committee (1990-1992) and National Academy of Sciences (2000-2002). Data in this paper were presented to the 2007 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Entry-Into-Force Conference in Vienna.


1. In annual votes in 2003 to 2007, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) cumulatively gave 870 votes in favor of the treaty and only seven against (North Korea and Palau once each, and the United States five times). By year, tally, and resolution, the votes were in 2007 (176/1/4, UNGA 62/59); 2006 (172/2/4, UNGA 61/104); 2005 (172/1/4, UNGA 60/95); 2004 (177/2/4, 59/109); and 2003 (173/1/4, UNGA 58/71). The 20 abstentions resulted from five votes each by Colombia, India, Mauritius, and Syria. Since Colombia ratified the CTBT on January 29, 2008, the number of total abstentions is effectively reduced to 15.
2. 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; Sidney Drell and George Schultz, eds., Implications of the Reykjavik Summit on Its Twentieth Anniversary (Stanford: Hoover Press, 2008).
3. National Academy of Sciences (NAS), Technical Issues Related to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 2002) (hereinafter NAS CTBT study); David Hafemeister, “Progress in CTBT Monitoring Since Its 1999 Senate Defeat,” Science and Global Security, No. 15 (2007), pp. 151-183; David Hafemeister, Physics of Societal Issues: Calculations on National Security, Environment and Energy (New York: Springer, 2007), pp. 90-103. The NAS report and these papers are the technical underpinnings to this paper and the 2007 EIF-CTBT testimony.
4. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, The START Treaty, 102d Cong., 2d sess., 1992, p. 27.
5. Miles A. Pomper, “Test Ban Infrastructure: A Concrete Reality,” Arms Control Today, October 2004, p. 42.
6. Article IV (D), paragraph 37. of the CTBT allows for the consideration of evidence and data regarding possible violations from national technical means.
7. NAS CTBT study, p. 57. The limit of 0.1 kiloton does not consider evasive measures.
8. Paul Richards and Won-Young Kim, “Seismic Signature,” Nature Physics, No. 3 (January 2007), pp. 4-6; “North Korean Nuclear Test: Seismic Discrimination at Low Yield,” EOS, No. 88 (April 3, 2007), pp. 157-161.
9. NAS CTBT study, p. 56.
10. Vitaly Khalturin, Tatyana Rautian, and Paul Richards, “A Study of Small Magnitude Seismic Events During 1961-1989 on and Near the Semipalatinsk Test Site, Kazakhstan,” Pure and Applied Geophysics, No. 158 (2001), pp. 143-171.
11. P. Vincent, et al, “New signatures of Underground Nuclear Tests Revealed by Satellite Radar Interferometry,” Geophysical Research Letters 30, 2141–2145.
12. NAS CTBT study (2003), pp. 48-49.
13. Vitaly Khalturin, Tatyana Rautian, and Paul Richards, “A Review of Nuclear Testing by the Soviet Union at Novaya Zemlya, 1955-1990,” Science and Global Security, No. 13 (2005), pp. 1-42; NAS CTBT study, p. 45; Pavel Podvig, ed., Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2004), pp. 440, 483-566.
14. Office of Technology Assessment, “The Containment of Underground Nuclear Explosions,” 1989, pp. 48-55.
15. NAS CTBT study, p. 68.
16. JASON, “Nuclear Testing,” JSR-95-320, Aug. 3, 1995.
17. NAS CTBT study, pp. 70-78.
18. John M. Shalikashvili, “Findings and Recommendations Concerning the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty,” January 2001, p. 33.
19. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, START Treaty, pp. 49-64; Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, START II Treaty, 104th Cong., 2d sess., pp. 29-37. The committee ratification reports to the Senate concluded that, because of the resilience of the U.S. nuclear triad, the surviving U.S. strategic forces would not be greatly affected by massive Russian cheating in yields or numbers of strategic weapons.

In October 1999, the U.S. Senate declined to consent to ratification of the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Although the floor debate itself was so short as to be perfunctory, verification concerns played a role in the Senate’s action. At the time, some senators contended that the treaty’s verification provisions were inadequate to deal with potential cheating, despite assertions to the contrary by the White House. Since then, the Bush administration has refused to reconsider the CTBT, despite widespread, almost unanimous international support for the pact. (Continue)

Type, Targets of Sanctions Shift in Bush Administration

Wade Boese

In September, the U.S. Department of the Treasury imposed proliferation sanctions on 25 Iranian entities. Enacted under Executive Order 13382, the sanctions freeze any U.S. assets of the accused and prohibit them from engaging in U.S. financial or commercial activities.

The sanctions are the latest installment in a series the Treasury Department has imposed during President George W. Bush’s second term on entities allegedly assisting or engaged in the acquisition or sale of unconventional weapons, related materials, or missiles. At the same time, the Department of State, which spearheaded the drive to reinvigorate sanctions during Bush’s first term, has increasingly taken a back seat. The changes parallel a shift in the target of sanctions: over the course of the administration, sanctions have decreased against Chinese entities and increased against Iranian entities.

Current and former U.S. government officials familiar with Bush administration sanctions offer various explanations for the shifting trends, including personnel changes, bureaucratic battles, modified Chinese behavior, and the introduction of Executive Order 13382. Some of the officials contend the trends do not reflect conscious policy choices, but some former officials say that as time passed, the administration has moderated its sanctions approach on Chinese entities in a bid to win China’s cooperation in dealing with Iran and North Korea.

The Bush Administration Sanctions Record

Since taking office, the Bush administration has imposed sanctions related to unconventional weapons and missile proliferation 278 times against 197 foreign entities and one U.S. entity, a subsidiary of a Chinese company. Many foreign entities have been sanctioned multiple times, such as North Korea’s Changgwang Sinyong Corp., which has been penalized on nine separate occasions.

The number of sanctions invoked annually by the Bush administration has oscillated but averages about 35 times per year. In comparison, the Clinton administration averaged eight sanctions annually, according to June 4, 2003, testimony to the House International Relations Committee by John Bolton, then undersecretary of state for arms control and international security.

The dramatic rise in sanctions under the Bush administration compared to its predecessor was no coincidence but stemmed from a concerted push by Bolton, who held his undersecretary post for Bush’s first term, and other administration officials, several of whom had been Republican congressional staffers who were strong proponents of sanctions. They saw sanctions as a useful tool to punish and stigmatize proliferators and criticized the Clinton administration for not utilizing them more. Top Clinton administration officials often saw sanctions as too confrontational, potentially damaging to bilateral relations, and not always constructive in getting undesirable behavior changed. Instead, the Clinton administration tended to rely more on demarches, which are formal diplomatic notes, to inform foreign governments of activities that it wanted ceased. (See ACT, September 2003.)

Bolton indicated soon after he became undersecretary in May 2001 that he wanted to “go after sellers and sanction harshly,” a former U.S. government official told Arms Control Today in a Sept. 19 interview. Another former official in an interview the same day said, “Bolton was big on sanctions.”

Bolton encouraged the bureaus reporting to him to scour intelligence information for activities that mandated sanctions. Christopher Ford, who left government in September after serving as the U.S. special representative for nuclear nonproliferation, e-mailed Arms Control Today Sept. 19 that Bolton’s hard-driving approach on sanctions stemmed from his interest in both curbing proliferation and fulfilling statutory requirements that he and others alleged the Clinton administration had shirked or had been too lax in implementing.

A Tale of Two Terms

Bolton’s eagerness to employ sanctions during the Bush administration’s first term produced a large jump in penalties, particularly on Chinese entities. Sixty-two of the 108 sanctions (57 percent) levied in that span by the State Department involved Chinese entities.

Although the sanctions did not identify who was receiving the goods, general speculation centered on Iranian importers, given that many of the sanctions stemmed from the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000 and the Iran-Iraq Nonproliferation Act of 1992. Those laws focused more on punishing exporters than importers. Only two Iranian entities were sanctioned during the administration’s first four years.

Bush in March 2005 nominated Bolton to serve as the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations. After a grueling five-month process during which lawmakers refused to confirm him to the post, the president gave Bolton a recess appointment, which ended in 2006. (See ACT, January/February 2007; September 2005.)

During its second term, the Bush administration has sanctioned 170 entities, 62 more than during its first term. But 106 of the sanctions emanated from the Treasury Department, which was empowered in June 2005 to take a more active role in proliferation sanctions when the president issued Executive Order 13382. (See ACT, September 2005.) That order authorized the department, working with other government agencies, to block the U.S. assets of entities judged to be engaged in or assisting proliferation, as well as the U.S. assets of foreign banks that do not follow the U.S. lead.

The State Department levied the other 64 second-term sanctions, 44 less than during Bolton’s tenure as undersecretary. A U.S. official, however, told Arms Control Today Sept. 18 that the State Department was on the verge of imposing several more sanctions.

The administration’s sanctions also differed between the first and second terms in their targets. Iranian entities accounted for 96 of the 170 second-term sanctions, or 56 percent. On the other hand, Chinese entities in the same period were slapped with 16 sanctions, a quarter of the number in the administration’s first term.

Explaining the Shifts

All the current and past officials interviewed by Arms Control Today agreed that Bolton’s departure from the State Department in 2005 influenced to some degree the drop-off in sanctions it issued. Most also noted that his successors, Robert Joseph and John Rood, view sanctions as important but of lower priority than other goals.

Ford observed that Bolton seemed to have a “taste and flair for effective bureaucratic infighting,” helping ensure not only that the bureaus reporting to him followed his intent to rigorously apply sanctions laws, but also in outmaneuvering other State Department bureaus that worried such penalties might jeopardize relations with the government whose entities might be sanctioned. For instance, Lawrence Wilkerson, an aide to first-term Secretary of State Colin Powell and no fan of Bolton, told Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff on May 6, 2005, that the East Asia and Pacific Bureau “didn’t like” the many sanctions against China when the United States was “trying to negotiate with North Korea and have China be a very meaningful player in that negotiation.” Ford and Carolyn Leddy, who worked at the State Department before becoming director for counterproliferation strategy on the National Security Council (NSC) from July 2006 to November 2007, suggested that, with Bolton’s absence, the State Department bureaus skeptical of sanctions prevailed more frequently in intradepartmental struggles.

As the State Department’s focus on sanctions waned after Bolton, the Treasury Department’s proliferation sanction activities expanded through Executive Order 13382. The allure of “financial sanctions” received a boost in the eyes of many administration officials when the Treasury Department in September 2005 succeeded in getting a Macau-based bank, Banco Delta Asia, to freeze some North Korean accounts after designating the bank a “money laundering concern.” (See ACT, April 2006.)

Although North Korea eventually succeeded in getting the funds released, some foreign banking institutions in the interim had curtailed their activities with North Korea and Banco Delta Asia. That ripple effect pleasantly surprised Bush administration officials because the sanctions imposed through the State Department typically had not been replicated abroad. Sanctions triggered by the laws administered by the State Department generally prohibit the accused from U.S. trade or aid. Sanctions critics note that such penalties are often symbolic because most entities sanctioned generally do not trade with or receive aid from the United States in the first place.

Leddy stated in a Sept. 19 e-mail to Arms Control Today that “when I was at the NSC, Treasury certainly was the go-to department to get anything done.” She added that Stuart Levey, the undersecretary of treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, and his staff have “a real dedication and belief in the power of these financial tools.”

Some of the current and past officials also speculated that the Treasury Department’s growing role in sanctions could reflect that Executive Order 13382 sanctions are procedurally and bureaucratically easier to invoke than the laws that the State Department implements. Sanctions under the executive order require a determination by the Treasury Department or other agencies that an entity is engaged in or assisting proliferation, while the State Department must be satisfied that its determinations meet the criteria and intent of laws passed by Congress. The current official interviewed Sept. 18 also said that executive order determinations appear less reliant on secret intelligence, making it more feasible to levy sanctions without alerting proliferators to possible U.S. intelligence sources or methods.

The executive order also enables the U.S. government to go after the buyers or recipients of alleged proliferation transactions more than previous laws, which were focused on punishing the sellers. Many of the individuals interviewed by Arms Control Today saw this as a factor in the rise of sanctions on Iranian entities, in addition to the greater international scrutiny on Iran after the exposure of its clandestine nuclear activities in 2002.
One former State Department official e-mailed Arms Control Today Sept. 22 that the rise in Iranian sanctions was “in essence a decision to begin sanctioning as a political signaling mechanism, both to tell Iran that we knew what was up…[and] to signal to third parties that [the sanctioned entities] were bad news and that [the third parties] were vulnerable if they traded with the Iranian front companies.”

Less agreement existed among the current and former officials on why sanctions on Chinese entities have decreased. Almost all said that China’s proliferation record improved, but some suggested that the Bush administration also has become more lenient in sanctioning Chinese entities.

In May 20 testimony before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, Patricia McNerney, the principal deputy assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, gave a mixed assessment of Chinese proliferation. She charged that “a number of Chinese entities continue to supply items and technologies useful in weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery, and advanced conventional weapons to regimes of concern.” At the same time, she said some oft-sanctioned Chinese entities, namely NORINCO and the China Great Wall Industry Co., have taken steps to prevent “inadvertent transactions” that could contribute to proliferation. A month later, the Treasury Department lifted Executive Order 13382 sanctions against the latter company, stating that it had “implemented a rigorous and thorough compliance program to prevent future dealings with Iran.”

Still, two of the former U.S. officials contend that Chinese behavior had not improved so much to justify a falloff in sanctions. Instead, one of them argued Sept. 19 that the administration in its latter years has sought to “make nice with the Chinese” and “avoid antagonizing the Chinese because of the desire for support on North Korea and Iran.” The other former official concurred, telling Arms Control Today Sept. 20 that there had been “some effort to soften [sanctions] to win Chinese support” in negotiations on North Korea’s nuclear programs. The first official condemned the perceived change in approach as “not only false, but foolish.”

Matthew Levitt, who served from 2005 to 2007 as the deputy assistant secretary of treasury for intelligence and analysis, cautioned against drawing too many conclusions from the numbers of sanctions imposed on the entities of one country or another. He e-mailed Arms Control Today Sept. 17 that “there are real world issues that drive these decisions and in many cases decisions are taken not to take [sanctions] but another kind of action.”

Do Sanctions Matter?

Almost all the officials interviewed by Arms Control Today positively assessed the consequences of the Bush administration’s increased use of sanctions compared with that of its predecessor. Ford recalled that although he saw a considerable amount of incoming information on “problematic transfers by Chinese entities” when he arrived in 2003 at the State Department, the flow of reporting on such matters diminished over time, suggesting the sanctions were working. He conceded that some of the change might have been due to Chinese entities getting better at “concealing” their activities, but he maintained that U.S. sanctions certainly played a role in the decrease.

Paula DeSutter, assistant secretary of state for verification, compliance, and implementation, said in June 26, 2007, remarks at a Washington conference that U.S. sanctions combined with various UN Security Council resolutions on Iran and North Korea “have prompted many businesses and institutions around the world to scale down or terminate completely their dealing with proliferators.” Similarly, in a Sept. 10 briefing on the imposition of additional sanctions under Executive Order 13382, Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman, the principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, told reporters that the sanctions “are having an impact” but added that “much of what we know is based on intelligence that we can’t really discuss in an open briefing.” The Treasury Department has not released any totals for the amount of assets frozen under Executive Order 13382.

In a December 2007 report on sanctions against Iran, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which conducts studies for Congress, concluded it was difficult to judge sanction results. The GAO noted that several big European banks had followed the U.S. sanctions lead in curbing business with certain Iranian entities, but the agency also stated “the extent of [sanctions] impacts is difficult to determine.” The agency added that the Treasury Department’s assessment that Iran continues to pursue nuclear and missile capabilities “reinforces our finding that the overall impact of sanctions is unclear.”

Corrected online November 4, 2008. See explanation.

In September, the U.S. Department of the Treasury imposed proliferation sanctions on 25 Iranian entities. Enacted under Executive Order 13382, the sanctions freeze any U.S. assets of the accused and prohibit them from engaging in U.S. financial or commercial activities.

The sanctions are the latest installment in a series the Treasury Department has imposed during President George W. Bush’s second term on entities allegedly assisting or engaged in the acquisition or sale of unconventional weapons, related materials, or missiles. At the same time, the Department of State, which spearheaded the drive to reinvigorate sanctions during Bush’s first term, has increasingly taken a back seat. The changes parallel a shift in the target of sanctions: over the course of the administration, sanctions have decreased against Chinese entities and increased against Iranian entities. (Continue)

Nuclear Disarmament Panel Members Named

Kirsten McNeil

On Sept. 26, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced the members of a new joint panel with Japan on nuclear disarmament. The International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament will be co-chaired by former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans and Japanese counterpart Yoriko Kawaguchi.

Members of the commission include Ali Alatas (Indonesia), Turki Al-Faisal (Saudi Arabia), Alexei Arbatov (Russia), Gro Harlem Brundtland (Norway), Frene Noshir Ginwala (South Africa), Fraçois Heisbourg (France), Jehangir Karamat (Pakistan), Brajesh Mishra (India), Klaus Naumann (Germany), former Defense Secretary William Perry (United States), Wang Yingfan (China), Shirley Williams (United Kingdom) and former President Ernesto Zedillo (Mexico). The 15 co-chairs and commissioners will be supported by a panel of experts.

Rudd originally announced the formation of the commission after a trip to Hiroshima in June. He proclaimed that the commission’s mandate is “to reinvigorate the global debate on the need to prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons and for nuclear disarmament, and to strengthen the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) by seeking to shape a global consensus in the lead up to the 2010 NPT Review Conference, and beyond.” The commission will study several interdependent issues dealing with civilian nuclear energy, nuclear weapons proliferation, the global disarmament system, and the structure of the NPT.

A report is anticipated prior to the 2010 NPT Review Conference. The commission’s report is expected to build on the work done by the Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons in 1996 and previous NPT review conferences. The commission will meet for the first time Oct. 19-21 in Sydney.

Unfinished Business for the NSG

Daryl G. Kimball

In an unprecedented move that will undermine the value of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and the already beleaguered nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), the NSG reluctantly agreed Sept. 6 to exempt NPT holdout India from its guidelines that require comprehensive international safeguards as a condition of nuclear trade.

The decision is a nonproliferation disaster of historic proportions that will produce harm for decades to come. It severely erodes the credibility of global efforts to ensure that access to nuclear trade and technology is available only to those states that meet global nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament standards. India does not.

Furthermore, foreign supplies of nuclear fuel to India's civil nuclear sector will reduce or eliminate India's need to sacrifice electricity production to produce weapons-grade plutonium. This would enable India to increase the rate of fissile material production for bombs and worsen nuclear arms competition in Asia.

Compounding the error, the Bush administration rebuffed efforts by a group of responsible NSG states to incorporate into their decision provisions in U.S. law that severely restrict transfers of sensitive nuclear fuel-cycle technologies to India and mandate a cutoff of nuclear trade if India resumes nuclear testing.

When the NSG meets again in November, the United States and other participating governments will have an opportunity to close one of the loopholes of their India-specific exemption: barring the transfer of uranium-enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing technologies to states that have not joined the NPT or agreed to an additional protocol to their safeguards agreement, which gives international inspectors broader authority.

Tougher NSG standards on sensitive fuel cycle technologies are long overdue. In India's case, enrichment and reprocessing cooperation could actually help its nuclear bomb production program because international safeguards cannot prevent the replication or use of such technologies for weapons purposes.

In practice, it is unlikely that suppliers will transfer enrichment or reprocessing technology to India anytime soon. The NSG waiver for India maintains that NSG states must continue to "exercise restraint" with respect to transfers of sensitive dual-use technologies and enrichment and reprocessing technologies to India or any other state. And, according to the Bush administration, no NSG participating government intends to transfer enrichment or reprocessing technology to India. Yet, India continues to demand "full" access to the nuclear fuel and technology market, and supplier states intentions could change, especially if they smell a profit.

Before agreeing to consider the U.S.-Indian nuclear cooperation agreement last month, the House and Senate should have demanded that the United States win support for tougher NSG guidelines on enrichment and reprocessing transfers. Under heavy political pressure to rush the flawed deal through, they failed to do so.

In exchange for quick House approval of the India agreement, however, Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice acknowledged the NSG loophole in a personal commitment to Howard Berman (D-Calif.), chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Rice promised that the United States will make its "highest priority" to achieve a decision at the next NSG meeting to prohibit the export of enrichment and reprocessing equipment and technology to states that are not party to the NPT.

NSG discussions on the matter predate the proposal for opening nuclear trade with India and are ripe for a decision. In 2004 the United States proposed a complete ban on sensitive fuel-cycle technology transfers to states without such capabilities. Many NSG states objected and suggested a criteria-based approach, but the United States said no.

Just ahead of the May 2008 NSG meeting, the United States adjusted its position and threw its support behind a proposal that would bar enrichment and reprocessing technologies to states that:

  • have not signed the NPT;
  • have not agreed to an additional protocol to their International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards agreement;
  • are not in compliance with their NPT or safeguards obligations; or
  • are located in regions in which such transfers might promote proliferation or undermine security.

However, Washington also demanded that if enrichment or reprocessing transfers do occur, they should be executed only via "black box" technologies, wherein only the supplier can access and own the technology. Canada opposed this provision, thereby blocking consensus on the package.

If Washington and Ottawa can resolve their differences and if Brazil can be prevailed on to drop its misguided opposition to the additional protocol criterion, the NSG can adapt tougher enrichment and reprocessing transfer guidelines. This would plug one of the gaping holes in the September NSG waiver for India and ensure that other suppliers are more in line with U.S. policy.

The Bush administration must now follow through and rally NSG support for tougher NSG guidelines that would help mitigate some of the damage caused by the waiver for India.

In an unprecedented move that will undermine the value of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and the already beleaguered nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), the NSG reluctantly agreed Sept. 6 to exempt NPT holdout India from its guidelines that require comprehensive international safeguards as a condition of nuclear trade.

The decision is a nonproliferation disaster of historic proportions that will produce harm for decades to come. It severely erodes the credibility of global efforts to ensure that access to nuclear trade and technology is available only to those states that meet global nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament standards. India does not. (Continue)


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