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"The Arms Control Association’s work is an important resource to legislators and policymakers when contemplating a new policy direction or decision."

– General John Shalikashvili
former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
October 2008
Edition Date: 
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Cover Image: 

Threat Reduction Programs Continue Despite Rifts

Daniel Arnaudo

Russia’s conflict with Georgia in August caused a serious rift in U.S.-Russian relations but does not appear to have harmed the two countries’ cooperation on improving the security of nuclear materials and weapons in Russia, according to administration officials and members of Congress.
Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Sept. 17, Thomas D’Agostino, administrator of the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), discussed the administration’s views on the effect of the recent conflict on nonproliferation programs in Russia.

D’Agostino said, “I think that the Russians and the [United States] both recognize the value of these programs and that…despite the recent activities that have gone on, we have a commitment that we are going to follow through on, working with Russia on nonproliferation and that it is way too important for the world to pause the activity. That’s a consensus view within this administration.”

In the aftermath of the Georgia conflict, Congress has also indicated that it will not change its threat reduction funding priorities because of the war. The Defense Authorization Act authorized $434.1 million for the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program, an increase of $20 million from the administration request.

The two authors of the act that created the CTR and related nonproliferation programs, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), have both expressed confidence that the programs will continue for now despite any political differences the two nations have, but also contended that there are inherent risks in such a strained relationship.

Lugar cited specific examples of recent progress during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Sept. 9. Lugar said that, “during August, the month of contention in Georgia, 10 intercontinental ballistic missiles were destroyed in Russia and four shipments of nuclear weapons were sent to safe and secure storage. It’s a fairly modest outcome, but nevertheless the program sort of rumbles on.”

At the same hearing, William Burns, undersecretary of state for political affairs and a former ambassador to Russia, echoed D’Agostino’s and Lugar’s comments. “On some critically important issues, like combating nuclear terrorism and nonproliferation, we have a hard-headed interest in working with Russia,” Burns said. He added that the United States was committed to working with Russia on dealing with Iran’s nuclear program, finding a follow-on to START, and continuing to secure hazardous weapons and materials in the former Soviet Union.

The CTR and other nonproliferation programs were created by the 1992 Nunn-Lugar legislation with the goal of securing weapons stockpiles in the former Soviet Union, but many diplomats, lawmakers, and outside experts have called for its realignment after more than 15 years of existence. A stronger Russian economy has given the government more money to pay for its own security, and the increasingly global nature of nuclear commerce and proliferation threats are often cited as reasons for a re-examination of priorities.

In some ways, the programs are a victim of their own success as many projects have been completed or are rapidly coming to an end. In a Sept. 9 press release, the NNSA reported that it had completed upgrades at more than 85 percent of the Russian nuclear warhead sites of concern and is on schedule to finish the job by the end of 2008.

In his remarks, D’Agostino noted that the NNSA has shifted from physical security to focus on sustainability and to develop cost-sharing programs more in line with present economic realities. The NNSA press release notes that the agency has reached agreement with Russia on “principles to sustain security upgrades after 2012,” when the Russians take full control of the security project.

D’Agostino also mentioned at the Sept. 17 meeting that the NNSA had submitted a draft agreement to the Russians on the disposition of 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium by each nation and was anticipating a response, despite the recent conflict. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman and Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency Director Sergei Kiriyenko made a joint statement Nov. 19, 2007, endorsing a plan to downgrade the plutonium at Russian plants. But the statement has yet to be turned into an amendment to the 2000 agreement, which currently covers the plutonium disposition effort. (See ACT, December 2007.)

U.S. and international programs to secure or eliminate unconventional weapons and materials are also beginning to branch out to countries outside of the former Soviet Union. On July 8, heads of government at the annual Group of Eight (G-8) meeting released a statement affirming the evolution of their Global Partnership against the Proliferation of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction and supporting an expanded international focus. (See ACT, September 2008.) Countries pledged $20 billion over 10 years for nonproliferation activities at the 2002 G-8 summit, and thus far most of the funding has gone to supporting work in the former Soviet Union.

U.S.-based programs are also shifting their focus incrementally. The NNSA reported that it had helped to end Libya’s nuclear weapons program by removing 1.8 metric tons of uranium hexafluoride and 500 metric tons of centrifuge components and other related materials. Another program finds work for and supports former weapons scientists from Iraq and Libya, while a third provides radiation detection devices and training for guards at international border crossings worldwide.

Nonetheless, some outside experts complain that not enough is being done. A report recently issued by the Partnership for a Secure America, a group co-chaired by former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.) and former Sen. Warren Rudman (R-N.H.) gives the U.S. government a grade of C+ on cooperative nonproliferation and counterproliferation and a D in terms of ensuring the long-term sustainability of U.S. programs. Key recommendations include creating an adviser with direct access to the president who would help develop a comprehensive plan to address nonproliferation issues worldwide.

In August 2007, President George W. Bush signed legislation establishing the Office of the United States Coordinator for WMD Proliferation and Terrorism, but he has not named anyone to fill the position. (See ACT, September 2007.)

Russia’s conflict with Georgia in August caused a serious rift in U.S.-Russian relations but does not appear to have harmed the two countries’ cooperation on improving the security of nuclear materials and weapons in Russia, according to administration officials and members of Congress. Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Sept. 17, Thomas D’Agostino, administrator of the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), discussed the administration’s views on the effect of the recent conflict on nonproliferation programs in Russia. (Continue)

Conference on Disarmament Comes Up Empty Again

Manasi Kakatkar

Despite urging from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and many participating governments, the 65-member Conference on Disarmament (CD) proved unable in 2008 to break its long-standing stalemate on negotiating priorities. It has been 12 years since the CD last produced an arms control agreement.

In March, this year’s conference presidents proposed a program of work for the 2008 session, but it failed to win consensus support from members even by the end of the session in September. The draft program included appointing Ambassador Sumio Tarui of Japan as the coordinator for negotiations on a proposed fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT), which would ban the production of fissile material—plutonium and highly enriched uranium—for weapons purposes. Such negotiations would be conducted without preconditions, including over verification issues, and allow all delegations to pursue their positions and submit proposals on issues relevant to them.

Since the UN General Assembly called for FMCT negotiations in 1993, differences over whether the talks should address existing stocks and require “effective verification” and how to define materials have stalled progress. Some see a treaty excluding existing stocks of fissile materials as useless and weak. In 1995, members of the conference had agreed to begin negotiations on an “effectively verifiable” FMCT under the Shannon mandate, which refers to a negotiating directive for the treaty brokered by Canada’s then-ambassador to the conference, Gerald Shannon.

The Bush administration withdrew its support for the Shannon mandate in 2004 after an internal policy review raised concerns about the verifiability of an FMCT. (See ACT, September 2004.) As such, U.S. officials claim that requisite verification measures would ultimately burden lawful states and fail to deter cheaters. Similarly, France and Pakistan have expressed concerns about intrusive and expensive verification regimes. Several countries have also raised concerns that verification negotiations could prolong talks by years, allowing countries to produce fissile materials until final agreement is reached. However, countries such as Australia, Canada, Japan, and the United Kingdom had distanced themselves from the U.S. position and stressed that verification arrangements are necessary to make an FMCT credible and effective.

In addition to FMCT negotiations, the proposed draft program of work for 2008 would have assigned coordinators to preside over less formal talks on issues of nuclear disarmament and the prevention of nuclear war, prevention of an arms race in outer space, and negative security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon states. (By providing negative security assurances, countries pledge not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states.) The program of work would not have required that specific decisions regarding these issues be taken by the end of the conference, nor would it have prejudiced any future decisions at the conference on these issues.

Most of the countries welcomed and supported the proposal as a compromise basis for ending the stalemate in the conference. However, countries such as Pakistan, Russia, and South Korea criticized it for laying greater emphasis on FMCT negotiations rather than placing equal priority on all four issues or discussing their preferred issue. Ambassador Masood Khan of Pakistan said that the proposal “is crafted with a built-in prejudgment about the outcome of discussions and negotiations.”

Replying to Pakistan’s criticism and demand for a renewed program of work, New Zealand’s ambassador, Don Mackay, said that the program of work does not need to be perfect and states should be willing to put their positions to test without laying down any preconditions for the results of such negotiations. He claimed that the work program was not prejudicial.

Procedural reforms in the conference were also discussed. Norway criticized a conference rule that requires consensus for a work program to move forward, saying that countries misuse it, hampering progress in the CD. Hilda Skorpen, the Norwegian deputy permanent representative, said that it was “time for an open and honest debate about working methods, rules of procedures, consensus principle, seating arrangements for that matter, and not least, the workings of the regional groups.” Ambassador German Mundarain Hernandez of Venezuela demurred, saying that the consensus rule acted as a safeguard in reaching and implementing agreements.

Skorpen also expressed concern that if the conference did not resume substantial discussions, countries would go outside to other fora and methods of negotiations. The United States had expressed similar concern in the past. For example, Stephen Rademaker, acting assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, warned in 2006 that without progress, “the real work of confronting today’s security threats will shift to other fora that are producing results for the international community.” (See ACT, December 2006.)

The session also ended without any action on a draft proposal by Russia and China on the “prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space and the threat of use of force against outer space objects.” The United States maintained that ensuring compliance with a space weapons ban would be difficult due to the inherent ambiguity and dual-use capability of many space technologies and systems. Although the draft proposal obligates parties not to threaten outer space objects, it would not prevent the research and development of air-, sea-, and land-based anti-satellite weapons. (See ACT, March 2008.)

The 2009 CD session will be held in three periods: Jan. 19 to March 27, May 18 to July 3, and Aug. 3 to Sept. 18. The next six rotating presidents of the CD are slated to come from Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe.

Despite urging from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and many participating governments, the 65-member Conference on Disarmament (CD) proved unable in 2008 to break its long-standing stalemate on negotiating priorities. It has been 12 years since the CD last produced an arms control agreement. (Continue)

UN Register Captures Expanded Small Arms Trade

Jeff Abramson

Since a new standard form for submitting small arms and light weapons transfer data was agreed to in 2006, a UN register for such information has seen increases in the number of countries filing voluntary reports and the volume of weapons they detail. The latest submissions provide insight into the movement of more than 2.3 million weapons in 2007.

As of Sept. 24, 36 countries had provided detailed information on their small arms and light weapons trade to the UN Register of Conventional Arms, accounting for nearly 2.1 million exported weapons and more than 280,000 imported weapons. This is a dramatic increase compared to last year’s entries, which by late October included 30 countries and more than 535,000 exported weapons and 105,000 imported weapons. (See ACT, November 2007.) In both years, a handful of other countries submitted reports claiming no trade in the weapons or that specific numbers were confidential.

Whether the increase marks a global uptick in trade of these easily portable weapons is difficult to ascertain. As with last year’s data, the majority of participating countries are members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), skewing the findings to these states and their partners. Much of the increase is due to submissions of Croatia, Italy, and Ukraine, which did not provide detailed information in the previous year.

Export Data Touches More Than 100 Countries

Twenty-five of the 36 participating countries claimed to export small arms and light weapons in 2007. Together, they listed more than 140 recipient countries, thereby revealing information about many countries that provided no data.

The single largest exporter, Croatia, claimed the transfer of more than 650,000 weapons, comprised primarily of 528,766 revolvers and self-loading pistols and 120,300 rifles and carbines to the United States. Although submitting information on major conventional weapons transfers, such as tanks, the United States did not provide small arms and light weapons data.

Italy exported more than 460,000 small arms to 81 different countries. As with Croatia, Italy claimed its main recipient country to be the United States, accounting for 331,347 weapons. Also significant, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Thailand each imported more than 10,000 weapons, according to the Italian submission.

The third-largest exporter, the United Kingdom, claimed the transfer of more than 250,000 weapons. The United States accounted for 234,685 and Afganistan 11,232 of the weapons. In the previous year’s report, the United Kingdom was the largest exporter filing a submission, documenting nearly 360,000 weapons exported.

Ukraine, disclosing its small arms and light weapons transfers for the first time, claimed more than 160,000 weapons exported, making it the fourth-largest reporter. All countries listed in Ukraine’s report are OSCE members. In 2000, OSCE members agreed to intergovernmental exchanges of information on small arms and light weapons. Ukraine’s submission may signify a trend of OSCE countries sharing these reports with the UN register.

Although not filing a report on small arms and light weapons, the United States emerged as the primary importer of the weapons, as it did in last year’s accounting. All told, 18 different countries claimed to export nearly 1,550,000 weapons to the United States, almost 75 percent of all reported exports. Greece listed more than 115,000 of these as returns of M1 rifles, suggesting that some of the U.S. import trade is comprised of weapons re-exported to the United States.

Submissions to the UN register also show transfers to Iraq and Afghanistan, although certainly painting an incomplete picture because neither country nor the United States filed their own reports. Nonetheless, four countries claimed to export nearly 100,000 weapons to Iraq, with Slovakia accounting for 51,200 and Romania 43,233 of the weapons.

Afghanistan received a total of more than 30,000 weapons from eight countries. Romania and the United Kingdom each provided more than 10,000 weapons to the country, which is currently being supported by NATO troops.

Import Data Highlights Complexity of Transfers

Although claimed imports only accounted for 290,000 weapons in 2007, the data from 32 filing countries reveal that additional countries are involved in the trade of small arms and light weapons.

The top five countries claiming imports were Mexico (48,678 weapons), France (43,667 weapons), Slovakia (30,268 weapons), Georgia (28,769 weapons), and Italy (26,311 weapons). Although the UN register counts items, not their monetary value, these import figures align to a certain degree with that available in the UN’s Commodity Trade Statistics Database, which measures trade value. For revolvers and pistols, Mexico and Italy were among the top five importers in that database.

Together, the countries filing import information to the UN register claim to be receiving weapons from 47 countries, led by Germany (57,810 weapons), the United States (39,270 weapons), and Belgium (38,181 weapons). Germany and the United States also emerge as top-three exporters in the commodity database.

Still, the UN register is limited. Import and export data nearly never matches, making it difficult to verify trade information. For example, the United Kingdom, a consistent filer of detailed information and promoter of greater transparency in the global arms trade, listed no imports. Yet, countries claim to have exported more than 60,000 small arms and light weapons to the United Kingdom. These discrepancies are due in part to differences in when transactions are counted and how they are classified.

The UN register orginated from a 1991 agreement seeking to add transparency to the global arms trade, calling on all countries to report annually on their previous year’s exports and imports. Historically, declarations have focused on heavy equipment such as tanks, combat aircraft, warships, large-caliber artillery, and missiles and missile systems. In December 2003, the UN General Assembly invited members also to submit small arms and light weapons data. A standardized reporting form was introduced in 2006.

That form is comprised of six categories of small arms and seven of light weapons. The first two categories of small arms, consisting of revolvers and self-loading pistols and rifles and carbines, account for more than 80 percent of total reported exports and imports. Additional small arms categories include assault rifles, sub- and light machine guns, and others. Light weapons, which account for less than 1 percent of total claimed transfers, are defined as heavy machine guns, recoilless rifles, hand-held under-barrel and mounted grenade launchers, mortars of calibers less than 75 millimeters, portable anti-tank guns, missile launchers and rocket systems, and others.

Since a new standard form for submitting small arms and light weapons transfer data was agreed to in 2006, a UN register for such information has seen increases in the number of countries filing voluntary reports and the volume of weapons they detail. The latest submissions provide insight into the movement of more than 2.3 million weapons in 2007. (Continue)

Report Urges Changes in Air Force Nuke Operations

Kirsten McNeil

A Department of Defense task force Sept. 12 recommended putting a single official in charge of the Air Force’s nuclear mission as well as other structural and procedural changes in the ways the service handles that mission. The recommendations follow highly publicized incidents involving the mishandling of nuclear warheads and components, reports of lax warhead security, and the dismissal of the Air Force’s top military and civilian leaders. (See ACT, July/August 2008.)

In June, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates appointed the task force headed by one of his predecessors, James Schlesinger. The Sept. 12 report represented the first phase of the panel’s work, which focused solely on the Air Force, responsible for strategic bombers and ICBMs. A second phase will provide recommendations on the entire Defense Department’s handling of nuclear weapons.

The report details how the Air Force has given lower priority to the nuclear mission over time as more pressing conventional priorities have taken precedence. It asserts that this lack of interest helped create the environment for the weapons-handling issues.

Currently, U.S. nuclear forces under Air Force control are spread over 10 Air Force bases and six logistics centers. The 20th Air Force, based out of Wyoming, has responsibility for maintenance and operations of all 450 deployed ICBMs. Strategic bombers are under the 8th Air Force, based out of Louisiana.

The task force recommended putting one person in charge of the nuclear mission, saying it was the lack of central responsibility that led to the handling errors. In addition, the report recommends realigning nuclear bombers and missiles (currently under Air Force Space Command) to an Air Force Strategic Command. This command, it said, should be better aligned with U.S. Strategic Command and provide clear lines of authority and accountability for the nuclear mission.

In March 2006, the Air Force established the Nuclear Weapons Center (NWC) at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, and the Schlesinger-led task force recommended consolidating the storage of nuclear weapons there. In addition, the task force recommended placing management of logistics and inventory under the NWC instead of the Defense Logistics Agency. Consolidating responsibility is intended to prevent future handling issues.

By combining all personnel responsible for the management of nuclear weapons into one entity, the task force hopes a stronger culture and ethos will be created. The report recommends the assignment of all bombers to the 8th Air Force, and the removal from the 8th Air Force of several missions that are not bomber related, such as cyberwarfare, intelligence, and surveillance.

To address the relatively lax nuclear culture that has evolved in the Air Force since the end of the Cold War, the task force recommends requiring that nuclear personnel undergo professional military education covering topics of deterrence and defense. Unannounced inspections were recommended to ensure that equipment and procedures were maintained properly. A quarterly review of resource allocation and mission readiness is also recommended to restore confidence in the nuclear deterrent.

The Air Force is currently tracking more than 180 corrective actions stemming from the warhead-mishandling incidents. The recommendations in this report are designed to address more systemic problems that had evolved within the service since the end of the Cold War. However, the authors of the report also point out that it will take sustained leadership and commitment to “restore the culture and ethos of nuclear excellence.”

In addition, on Sept. 25, Acting Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley announced administrative punishments for six Air Force generals and nine colonels for a mistaken 2006 shipment of four nosecone fuses for nuclear missiles to Taiwan. (See ACT, May 2008.) The officers received disciplinary letters of varying severity for their roles in the episode. This comes several months after Gates fired the secretary and the chief of staff of the Air Force.

A Department of Defense task force Sept. 12 recommended putting a single official in charge of the Air Force’s nuclear mission as well as other structural and procedural changes in the ways the service handles that mission. The recommendations follow highly publicized incidents involving the mishandling of nuclear warheads and components, reports of lax warhead security, and the dismissal of the Air Force’s top military and civilian leaders. (Continue)

Global Arms Exports Soar in 2007

Wade Boese

After dipping in 2006, global conventional arms exports last year rose because of increased weapons transfers by Russia, the United States, and other top suppliers, as well as the shipment of thousands of rockets by Slovakia and Turkey. All told, arms deliveries in 2007 were the largest for any year since governments started providing an annual accounting of their weapons transactions to the United Nations in 1993.

By May 31 of each year, states are asked to volunteer data to the UN Register of Conventional Arms on their previous year’s imports and exports of tanks, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), large-caliber artillery, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, and missiles and missile launchers. Countries also may report on their arms stockpiles and small arms and light weapons transactions (see page 45). The register’s intended purpose is to help arms suppliers avoid unwittingly contributing to excessive and destabilizing arms accumulations.

More than 100 countries have participated in the register in each of the past several years, but near the end of September, the UN had received only 85 country submissions covering 2007. Still, the 32 states reporting exports included most prominent global arms suppliers, aside from Israel. Those 32 states’ cumulative 28,577 weapons exports more than doubled the 2006 exporter total of some 11,100 arms.

Summing up reported exports, however, is an imperfect measure of the global arms market because a rocket is counted the same as a warship or a fighter plane, even though the military utility and potential lethality of those systems are vastly different. Hence, comparing tallies from different years or the deliveries of one country to those of another can distort the relative value or significance of particular sales or the role of certain states.

The abnormally high 2007 tally, for example, stemmed in large part from the export of 16,576 122-millimeter rockets to Bulgaria by Slovakia, which also shipped 764 rockets to Indonesia and another 380 rockets to Turkey. Meanwhile, Turkey, for the third straight year, delivered 3,000 122-millimeter rockets to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Half of the rockets transferred to the UAE were armed with cluster munitions. More than 100 countries recently negotiated a treaty to ban most of those types of arms because their use was seen as too indiscriminate and inhumane. (See ACT, July/August 2008.) Neither Turkey nor the UAE subscribed to that effort, but Turkey is a member of the Geneva-based Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons that is considering other limits on the transfer and use of cluster munitions.

Russia and the United States, traditionally the top arms suppliers, both shipped some 400 weapons more in 2007 than in 2006. Russia last year transferred 1,807 major weapons to a dozen states, while the United States delivered 1,403 arms to 23 countries, not including Taiwan. Last year marked the second consecutive year that Russian exports exceeded U.S. shipments.

Accounting for more than half of Russia’s delivery total were 984 missiles sent to China, a long-standing Russian arms buyer. Other key Russian arms recipients were Algeria, with 296 imports, and India, with 231 imports. The Bush administration hopes that one of the benefits of spearheading the process to make India eligible for international nuclear trade will be to convince India to leave Russia’s stable of arms clients. In particular, U.S. arms companies are seeking to fill an Indian contract for 126 fighter jets, even though the United States is a key arms supplier to India’s rival, Pakistan, delivering 115 howitzers and 40 missiles to that country last year.

Moscow’s list of arms customers continued to include states with which Washington and other Western capitals will not do business. Russia transferred a dozen fighter jets and 86 missiles to the oil-rich Venezuelan regime of Hugo Chavez, which the United States accuses of fomenting instability across Latin America, particularly in neighboring Colombia. Russia also delivered four attack helicopters to the government of war-torn Sudan. Belarus was the only other state to report exports to Sudan, shipping it two ACVs.

No other suppliers in 2007 reported transferring more than 1,000 weapons, but France, the Netherlands, South Africa, and Ukraine claimed more than 500 exports apiece. The Netherlands totaled 790 exports, including shipments of 217 ACVs to Egypt and 522 U.S.-origin missiles to Finland. South Africa’s reported exports consisted of 692 ACVs, 427 of which were identified as going to the U.S. Army. Ukraine, one of the few top suppliers to experience an export decrease over the past two years, reported distributing 672 exports to 16 states, stretching from Chad and Kenya in Africa to Burma and China in Asia. France compiled 514 exports, the largest portion of which was 264 missiles sent to the UAE.

According to the exporter data, the UAE was the second-largest importer in 2007 behind Bulgaria. It appears that the UAE may remain among the future ranks of top importers. The Pentagon in September notified Congress that it might sell the UAE as much as $9 billion worth of arms, including the first proposed export of the short- to intermediate-range Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system.

After a nine-year hiatus, China late last year resumed its register participation. China’s submission for 2007 revealed a drop to 120 arms exports from the previous year’s mark of 387. Five of the nine importers of Chinese arms were African states (Chad, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, and Tanzania), reflecting China’s expanding efforts to obtain greater access to that continent’s markets and natural resources.

No exports to Jordan appeared in the Chinese report, although Jordan claimed in its register submission to have received 1,650 mortars from China. Jordan also reported importing 2,200 anti-tank missiles and launchers and 182 shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile launchers from Russia, which lacked corroborating information in its register submission. Other notable disparities in register submissions included Bulgaria not claiming the reported delivery of 16,576 Slovakian rockets, while Georgia asserted it imported 10,000 rockets from Bulgaria, despite no mention of such transfers in that country’s register report.

Whether the discrepancies reflect deliberate deceptions are uncertain. Data submitted to the register by exporters and importers often do not match, in part, because governments classify their transactions differently. Some countries, like the United States, define a transfer as completed when the ownership title is exchanged whereas another government might say a deal is not final until weapons physically arrive in or leave its territory.

Another complicating factor in verifying the accuracy of the register reports is that many states do not participate in the UN instrument. Most Arab states boycott the register, arguing they will not report on their conventional arms until Israel publicizes details on its suspected nuclear forces. Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon are the few states from the Middle East that typically participate in the register even though the region is heavily engaged in the arms market.

In their latest reports, exporters identified states in the Middle East and North Africa as importing 4,863 weapons. That amount was much less than the reported 19,599 arms sent to Europe, but exceeded the claimed transfers to other regions: 2,128 to Asia and the Pacific, 611 to South Asia, 554 to North America, 425 to Africa, and 388 to Latin America.

After dipping in 2006, global conventional arms exports last year rose because of increased weapons transfers by Russia, the United States, and other top suppliers, as well as the shipment of thousands of rockets by Slovakia and Turkey. All told, arms deliveries in 2007 were the largest for any year since governments started providing an annual accounting of their weapons transactions to the United Nations in 1993. (Continue)

Destruction Complete at U.S. Chemical Weapons Site

Kirsten McNeil

The United States has completed destruction of chemical weapons agents at Newport Chemical Depot in Newport, Ind. The milestone, announced by the Army Chemical Materials Agency Aug. 11, means that destruction has been completed at three of the seven sites that had housed such agents in 1997 when the United States joined the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

The treaty calls for the elimination of all chemical weapons stocks by 2012, but neither the United States nor Russia are expected to meet that deadline.

The Newport Chemical Agent Disposal Facility was specifically built to dispose of the VX in storage there, which was the only chemical agent on site. The Newport facility housed 1,269 tons of VX in 1,600 steel containers but no munitions. The nerve agent had been stored on the site in steel containers for nearly 40 years when destruction began in 2005.

Destruction was performed using caustic neutralization technology, which involves mixing the VX with heated sodium hydroxide and water. Now that the chemical destruction has been completed, the facility will be closed.

Destruction has also been completed at Johnston Atoll, Hawaii, and Aberdeen, Md. Several other sites around the country currently maintain an inventory of VX, including Blue Grass, Ky.; Pine Bluff, Ark. (M23 VX landmines); Tooele, Utah; and Umatilla, Ore.

In recent years, the United States has stepped up chemical agent destruction, but officials have said they will miss the 2012 deadline. The Department of Defense now estimates that the remaining chemical stockpile, less than one-half of the original declared amount, can likely be destroyed by 2023. The final facility scheduled to complete chemical agent destruction is Blue Grass, where construction of the disposal facility began in October 2006. This facility plans to begin chemical agent disposal in 2017, with completion projected for 2023.

At the last CWC review conference, several states expressed concern over the pace of stockpile destruction in Russia and the United States. (See ACT, May 2008.)

The United States has completed destruction of chemical weapons agents at Newport Chemical Depot in Newport, Ind. The milestone, announced by the Army Chemical Materials Agency Aug. 11, means that destruction has been completed at three of the seven sites that had housed such agents in 1997 when the United States joined the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). (Continue)

CCW Considers Limits on Cluster Munitions

Jeff Abramson

In September, delegates to a Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) meeting considered possible limitations on the use of cluster munitions, while supporters of a separate process criticized the effort as too little, too late. The discussions came against the backdrop of alleged use of the weapons in the August conflict between Russia and Georgia. A next round of meetings in November will determine whether a new protocol will emerge from the CCW this year.

The CCW governmental group of experts on cluster muntions convened Sept. 1-5 in Geneva. During the meeting, delegates discussed many of the most contentious issues involved in drafting a new treaty protocol, including general prohibitions and restrictions, and provisions on storage, destruction, and transfer of cluster munitions between countries. The discussions followed the May conclusion of a separate treaty, the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), outside the CCW treaty process. The CCM, which opens for signature in December, bans the use of cluster munitions, with the exception of a narrow range of sophisticated weapons, and imposes strict guidelines for stockpile strorage, destruction, and transfer. (See ACT, July/August 2008.)

The CCW draft protocol is filled with bracketed text indicating possible additional changes. It provides a variety of options for defining which cluster munitions would be prohibited. Relying on technical features to minimize “the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions,” some of the proposals could bar the most commonly used cluster munitions. One option matches current U.S. policy, which calls for using more advanced cluster munitions so that no more than 1 percent of submunitions remains unexploded after dispersal. (See ACT, September 2008.) Yet another lists the technical characteristics of acceptably sophisticated weapons laid out in the CCM but leaves unclear whether all or only part of that treaty’s five-part definition of what constitutes such a muntion would apply.

Under the CCM, cluster-like weapons are permitted that contain no more than nine explosive submunitions, each of which must have the following characteristics: weigh more than 4 kilograms and less than 20 kilograms; be designed to detect and engage a single target; and be equipped with an electronic self-destruct mechanism and an electronic self-deactivating feature. The vast majority of the world’s cluster munitions, including those from the United States, do not meet these requirements. (See ACT, July/August 2008.)

Supporters of the CCW process stress that it involves the major users and stockpilers of cluster munitions, including countries such as China, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States, which have thus far remained outside the Oslo process that led to the CCM. The CCW meeting’s chair, Danish Ambassador Bent Wigotski, told Arms Control Today in a Sept. 17 e-mail that, “for the first time in public, most of the major players not taking part in Oslo indicated their readiness to negotiate restrictions/prohibitions on some types of cluster munitions.” He added, “I hope that everybody will keep in mind that 90 percent of world stockpiles are not covered by the CCM.”

Others have raised questions as to whether the CCW is on track. Norwegian Ambassador Steffen Kongstad, who led Norway’s delegation to the CCW meeting as well as his country’s efforts in the Oslo process, told Arms Control Today in an e-mail Sept. 14 that “it is not clear that any solution or consensus agreement is emerging in [the] CCW at this stage.” Instead, he suggested that “perhaps a more constructive approach is to see if a more limited scope like a transfer ban could be a more productive way for [the] CCW. Trying to establish an alternative to the CCM seems a bit too late.”

Nongovernmental advocates of the CCM have been more critical of the CCW approach. The Cluster Munitions Coalition, a leading international alliance in the Oslo process, passed a negative judgment on the CCW effort and issued a press release Sept. 5 titled “USA, Backed By Denmark, Works To Legalise Cluster Bombs After Ban Agreed.”

As the CCW meeting was beginning, new allegations of cluster munitions use in Georgia surfaced. On Sept. 1, Human Rights Watch announced that it had received a letter from the Georgian Defense Ministry acknowledging Georgia’s use of cluster munitions “against Russian military equipment and armament” but stating that they “were never used against civilians, civilian targets and civilian populated or nearby areas.” The letter was later made available on the ministry’s Website. Human Rights Watch had previously documented Russian use of cluster munitions in Georgia. (See ACT, September 2008.)

The issue does not appear to be impacting the likelihood of an agreement coming from the group. According to Wigotski, “Events in Georgia did not affect the CCW process.” Kongstad also expressed skepticism that the issue would impact future deliberations, but did say that “it emphasizes the relevance of the CCM and the importance of establishing an international norm.”

In September, delegates to a Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) meeting considered possible limitations on the use of cluster munitions, while supporters of a separate process criticized the effort as too little, too late. The discussions came against the backdrop of alleged use of the weapons in the August conflict between Russia and Georgia. A next round of meetings in November will determine whether a new protocol will emerge from the CCW this year. (Continue)

ElBaradei to Leave IAEA in 2009

Manasi Kakatkar

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei recently announced that he would not seek a fourth term of office after his current term ends in November 2009. ElBaradei’s 11-year tenure has been marked by Libya abandoning its nuclear weapons program, efforts to reign in Iran’s and North Korea’s programs, tensions with the Bush administration over Iraq, and the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

The former Egyptian diplomat began his IAEA career in 1984 and served as the agency’s legal adviser and assistant director-general for external relations. He was appointed as the agency’s director-general on Dec. 1, 1997, and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 in recognition of “efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way.”

The IAEA chief has frequently called on nuclear-weapon states to speed up disarmament efforts and sought to win support for multilateral efforts to restrict the growth of uranium-enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing capabilities. These capabilities can be used to produce fuel for nuclear power plants or fissile material for nuclear weapons. To dissuade countries from enriching uranium and assure them of alternative fuel supplies, he proposed a plan with the nongovernmental Nuclear Threat Initiative to establish a reserve fuel bank under IAEA controls.

ElBaradei’s term has not been without controversy. The agency clashed with the Bush administration on several occasions, particularly in the lead-up to the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. During that period, ElBaradei rebutted administration claims that Iraq was reviving its nuclear weapons program. Postwar U.S. investigations backed up ElBaradei’s assertions.

More recently, he has been accused by the United States and Israel of being lenient in dealing with Iran, and the United States tried to block his election to a third term in 2005. For his part, ElBaradei has accused the United States and its allies of complicating IAEA investigations in Iran and Syria by not being sufficiently forthcoming with intelligence.

ElBaradei alluded to these clashes in his 2005 speech accepting the Nobel Prize. “We are limited in authority. We have a very modest budget. And we have no armies,” he said. “But armed with the strength of our convictions, we will continue to speak truth to power.”


Potential Successors to ElBaradei

A successor to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei will be appointed by the 35 states on the agency’s Board of Governors next year with the approval of the General Conference, which includes all IAEA member states. States can submit nominations until the end of this year. Thereafter, informal consultations will be conducted with the goal of reaching consensus on a successor. If no consensus is achieved, ElBaradei’s successor will be chosen by a two-thirds majority of the board and then endorsed by the General Conference. The next IAEA director-general is slated to take office in December 2009. Potential candidates named by knowledgeable officials and in press reports include:

 Yukiya Amano (Japan): Amano is Japan’s ambassador to the international organizations in Vienna, including the IAEA. He served as the chairman of the Board of Governors in 2005-2006 and accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the IAEA along with ElBaradei in 2005. The 61-year-old diplomat has been involved in several arms control negotiations, including the 1995 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Extension and Review Conference, talks that led to the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the 2001 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) verification protocol, and Amendment I of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. He has held numerous senior positions in the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

Olli Heinonen (Finland): Heinonen is the IAEA’s deputy director-general and heads its department of safeguards. As such, he has led the agency’s investigation of Iran’s clandestine nuclear activities. Prior to joining the IAEA, he worked as a senior research officer at the Technical Research Center of Finland Reactor Laboratory.

Abdul Minty (South Africa): Minty is the deputy director general of South Africa’s Department of Foreign Affairs and its representative to the IAEA Board of Governors since 1995. He is also the chairman of the South African Council for the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Minty was officially announced as a candidate by the South African Department of Foreign Affairs on Sept. 12. South Africa is a founding member of the IAEA and held the designated seat for Africa on the Board of Governors until 1977.

Rogelio Pfirter (Argentina): Pfirter is currently in his second term as director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which implements the Chemical Weapons Convention. In addition to serving as a diplomat representing Argentina, Pfirter was instrumental in drafting legislation permitting Argentina’s adherence to the NPT and its regime for the export of sensitive materials.

Tibor Tóth (Hungary): Tóth is currently executive secretary of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization. Tibor Tóth was the chairman of the Ad Hoc Group to draft measures to strengthen the BWC, including an unsuccessful effort to approve a verification protocol to the treaty. He served on the IAEA Board of Governors from 1997 to 2001. Tóth joined the Hungarian Foreign Ministry in 1977. He was ambassador-at-large for nonproliferation and critical technologies with the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2001-2003.

 

 

Senate Approves Pacts Regulating Conventional Arms

Wade Boese

During the final days of September, the Senate gave its advice and consent to the U.S. ratification of four measures related to a 1980 convention regulating the use of conventional weapons judged to be more inhumane or indiscriminate than others.

The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) has five separate protocols encompassing landmines and booby traps, weapons with fragments undetectable by x-rays, incendiary weapons, blinding lasers, and explosive remnants of war (ERW). The United States has ratified and is bound by protocols covering the first two categories, but protocols covering the latter three have been waiting on Senate approval for years. The 2003 ERW protocol was submitted in 2006 to the Senate, while the 1980 incendiary weapons and 1995 blinding lasers protocols were delivered in 1997.

On Sept. 23, the Senate authorized the president to conclude ratification of the incendiary weapons and blinding lasers protocols. It also assented to a third CCW measure, an amendment expanding the scope of the treaty’s pre-2002 protocols to govern armed conflict within states in addition to fighting between states. As with each protocol, the amendment is only binding on those states that ratify it.

One hundred states are bound by the protocol on incendiary weapons, which prohibits the use of such weapons—those designed to set fire to or burn their targets—against civilians or military targets located among “concentrations of civilians,” except when there is clear separation between targets and civilians. The Senate, however, attached a condition to the protocol stating that the United States has the right to use incendiary weapons against “military objectives located in concentrations of civilians where it is judged that such use would cause fewer casualties and/or less collateral damage than alternative weapons.” In such cases, the Senate reservation, recommended by the Bush administration, asserts that U.S. forces should “take all feasible precautions” to mitigate harm to civilians and nonmilitary objects.

Lawmakers attached no reservations to the protocol outlawing the use of lasers designed to cause permanent blindness or the amendment expanding the scope of the earlier CCW protocols to cover intrastate conflicts. The blinding lasers protocol has 91 states-parties, while 62 countries have subscribed to the amendment.

On Sept. 26, the Senate approved the ERW protocol, which delineates the responsibilities of states to clean up unexploded or abandoned munitions after fighting ceases. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee July 29 had approved the protocol along with the other CCW instruments for consideration by the full Senate. Forty-six states have ratified the ERW protocol.

At an April 15 panel hearing on the CCW measures, Sen. Robert Casey (D-Pa.), who chaired the meeting, stated that “formal U.S. ratification of these treaties would do nothing, nothing to change or alter our current military practices.” Still, he argued it was important for the Senate to approve the agreements for ratification in order to “bolster U.S. leadership when it comes to promulgating universal adherence to law of war treaties.”

In his prepared testimony to that hearing, Charles Allen, deputy general counsel for international affairs at the Department of Defense, stated that the CCW agreements “are widely supported, including by the Departments of State and Defense, and we do not believe they pose contentious issues.” He added that approval of the measures, particularly the ERW protocol, “would strengthen U.S. efforts” to negotiate a new CCW instrument limiting cluster munitions. The United States has spearheaded CCW talks to limit the use of cluster munitions as an alternative to a more restrictive, Norwegian-led effort that recently produced a treaty banning most types of the weapons, which disperse smaller explosive submunitions over a broad area. (See ACT, July/August 2008.) The United States is pressing states-parties to the CCW to produce an instrument later this year.

During the final days of September, the Senate gave its advice and consent to the U.S. ratification of four measures related to a 1980 convention regulating the use of conventional weapons judged to be more inhumane or indiscriminate than others. (Conclusion)

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