Login/Logout

*
*  

I salute the Arms Control Association … for its keen vision of the goals ahead and for its many efforts to identify and to promote practical measures that are so vitally needed to achieve them. -

– Amb. Nobuyasu Abe
Former UN Undersecretary General for Disarmament Affairs
January 28, 2004
November 2008
Edition Date: 
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Cover Image: 

November 2008 Bibliography

Arms Control in Print – November 2008


Of Special Interest

Ban Ki-moon, The United Nations and Security in a Nuclear Weapon-Free World, Address to the East-West Institute, October 24, 2008.

Burns, Nicholas, “We Should Talk to Our Enemies,” Newsweek, October 25, 2008.

Gates, Robert, Nuclear Weapons and Deterrence in the 21st Century, Transcript, The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, October 28, 2008.

Coats, Daniel R., and Robb, Charles S., “Stopping A Nuclear Tehran,” The Washington Post, October 23, 2008, p. A19.

Daalder, Ivo, and Lodal, Jan, “Nuclear Policy and the Next Administration: Toward a World Without Nuclear Weapons,” Foreign Affairs, November/December 2008, 9 pp.

Kerry, John, “Building a Stronger U.S.-India Friendship,” The Wall Street Journal, October 8, 2008.

Madhani, Aamer, “Questions and Answers with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki,” The Chicago Tribune, October 3, 2008, p. 8.

Perkovich, George, Abolishing Nuclear Weapons: Why the United States Should Lead, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, October 2008, 7 pp.

Sestanovich, Stephen, “What Has Moscow Done?: Rebuilding U.S.-Russian Relations,” Foreign Affairs, November/December 2008, 9 pp.

I. Strategic Arms

Anthony Aust, Masahiko Asada, Edward Ifft, Nicholas Kyriakopoulos, Jenifer Mackby, Bernard Massinon, Arend Meerburg, Bernard Sitt, A New Look at the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban-Treaty (CTBT), International Group on Global Security (IGGS), Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael, Security Paper No. 6, September 2008, 51 pp. 

Associated Press, “Russia Insists Its Nuclear Arsenal Is Secure,” October 31, 2008.

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

Grossman, Elaine M., “Gates Sees Stark Choice on Nuke Tests, Modernization,” Global Security Newswire, October 29, 2008.

Interfax/AVN, “Moscow, Washington Could Agree on New Document,” October 21, 2008.

Kazak, Sergey “Russia: Nuclear Forces Projection Up to 2020,” RIA-Novosti, October 29, 2008.

Lubold, Gordon, “US Air Force Seeks to Fix Nuclear Mission,” The Christian Science Monitor, October 23, 2008, p. 3.

The Moscow Times, “U.S., Russia to Meet Over Arms Control,” October 20, 2008.

Murdock, Clark, “DOD and the Nuclear Mission,” Joint Force Quarterly, Issue 51, 4th Quarter 2008, pp. 13-20.

National Nuclear Security Administration, Nuclear Weapons Dismantlements Up 20 Percent, October 1, 2008.

The New York Times, “New and Unnecessary,” October 12, 2008, p. A28.

Pincus, Walter, “Making a Pitch for Nuclear Warhead Program, The Washington Post, October 6, 2008, p. A13.

Pincus, Walter, “Gates Suggests New Arms Deal With Russia,” The Washington Post, October 29, 2008, p. A09.

United States Air Force Nuclear Task Force, Reinvigorating the Air Force Nuclear Enterprise, October 24, 2008.

II. Nuclear Proliferation

Associated Press, “German’s Trial Over Libya Nuclear Program Nears End,” October 9, 2008.

Choubey, Deepti, Are New Nuclear Bargains Attainable?, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, October 2008, 26 pp.

ElBaradei, Mohamed, Statement to the Sixty-Third Regular Session of the United Nations General Assembly, October 28, 2008.

Hibbs, Mark, “Lerch Admits he Aided Network; South African Data Under Wraps,” Nuclear Fuels, October 20, 2008. pg. 6.

Homola, Victor, “Germany: Engineer Jailed for Aiding Libya’s Nuclear Weapons Program,” The New York Times, October 16, 2008.

India

Agence France-Presse, “US to Send Nuclear Mission to India,” October 15, 2008.

Baker, Peter, “Senate Approves India Nuclear Treaty,” The New York Times, October 2, 2008, p. A8.

Bagchi, Indrani, “Japan Refuses to Commit on N-Pact,” The Times of India, October 23, 2008.

Department of State, U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative, October 15, 2008.

Dikshit, Sandeep, “Nuclear Pact with Kazakhstan Likely During PM’s Visit,” The Hindu, October 16, 2008.

The Economic Times, “India Free to Nuke Bomb: Pranab,” October 27, 2008.

Glosserman, Brad, and Bates, Gill, “Widespread Fallout From India-US Pact,” The Asia Times, October 28, 2008.

Hibbs, Mark, “Canada Seeks India Cooperation Pact Following NSG Sanctions Exemption,” Nuclear Fuels, October 6, 2008, pg. 18

The Japan Times, “NPT at a Crossroads,” October 9, 2008.

Kessler, Glenn, “Senate Backs Far-Reaching Nuclear Trade Deal With India,” The Washington Post, October 2, 2008, p. A17.

LaFranchi, Howard, “Fallout of U.S.-India Nuke Deal,” The Christian Science Monitor, October 24, 2008.

Rajghatta, Chidanand, “Bush Keeps His Word on Nuke Deal, Assures Fuel Supply and Reprocessing Rights,” The Times of India, October 9, 2008.

Rosenkratz, Holly and Gienger, Viola, “Bush Signs Indian Measure Promoting Nuclear Energy,” Bloomberg, October 8, 2008.

The Times of India, “US Rules Out India-Like Nuke Deal with Pakistan,” October 3, 2008.

The Times of India, “South Africa Ready to Supply Uranium to India,” October 15, 2008. 

Iran

Agence France-Presse, “Iran Targets Iranian Bank With Sanctions,” October 22, 2008.

Agence France-Presse, “IAEA Still Undecided on Nature of Iran Program,” October 27, 2008.

Associated Press, “US Slaps Sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards,” October 23, 2008.

Balmer, Crispian, “NATO Doubts the World Will Stop Iran Getting Bomb,” Reuters, October 6, 2008.

Cohen, Roger, “Iran is Job One,” The New York Times, October 22, 2008.

Cordesman, Anthony, Iranian Weapons of Mass Destruction, Center for Strategic and International Studies, October 14, 2008, 49 pp.

Crumley, Bruce, “Changing the Conventional Wisdom About Iran,” TIME, October 4, 2008.

Der Spiegel, “Berlin Plans to Deter Trade with Iran,” October 20, 2008.

Dombey, Daniel, and Blitz, James, “Go-It-Alone Plan on Iran Sanctions,” The Financial Times, October 12, 2008.

Friedman, Thomas L., “Sleepless in Tehran,” The New York Times, October 28, 2008, p. A31.

Gardiner, Sam, Dangerous and Getting More Dangerous: The Delicate Situation Between the United States and Iran, The Century Foundation, October 2008, 31 pp.

Jahn, George, “Intel Says Iran Plans Secret Nuclear Experiments,” Associated Press, October 30, 2008.

Jordan, Frank, “Larijani says Iran Wants Nuclear Talks to Continue,” October 14, 2008.

Kessler, Glenn, “Russian Arms Exporter Sanctioned Over Iran,” The Washington Post, October 25, 2008, p. A12.

Melander, Ingrid, “Iran Ties Enrichment Halt to Fuel Import Guarantee,” Reuters, October 2, 2008.

Mozgoaya, Natasha, “Dennis Ross on Why He’s Working for Obama and How He’d Talk to Iran,” Ha’aretz, October 18, 2008.

Nasr, Vali, “Obama is Right About Talking to Iran,” The Wall Street Journal, October 13, 2008.

Pallaschke, Diethard, “The Country With Real Leverage in Tehran,” The Wall Street Journal, October 7, 2008.

RIA Novosti, “Iran Hails Progress in Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant Construction,” October 14, 2008.

Sciolino, Elaine, “Nuclear Aid by Russian to Iranians Suspected,” The New York Times, October 9, 2008, p. A6.

U.S Department of State, Recent U.S. Actions to Halt Iran’s Procurement Practices for Attempted Acquisition of WMD-Related Items, September 30, 2008.

North Korea

Agence France-Presse, “NKorea Continuing Moves to Restart Nuclear Program: US,” October 3, 2008.

Agence France-Presse, “US Says No Decision ‘Yet’ on Removing NKorea From Blacklist,” October 10, 2008.

Agence France-Presse, “NKorea Seeks Farm Aid for Dismantlement: Report,” October 23, 2008.

BBC News, “N Korea ‘Puts Back Reactor Seals’,” October 17, 2008.

BBC News, “North Korean Leader ‘In Hospital’,” October 28, 2008.

Bolton, John, “Bush’s North Korea Surrender Will Have Lasting Consequences,” The Wall Street Journal, October 13, 2008, p. 19.

Cha, Victor, “Delisting North Korea,” The Washington Post, October 13, 2008, p. A21.

Cooper, Helene, “North Korea Is Off Terror List After Deal With U.S.,” The New York Times, October 12, 2008, p. A1.

Cossa, Ralph A., “North Korea: Settling for Half a Loaf,” The Japan Times, October 20, 2008.

Heinrich, Mark, “N.Korea Bars Monitors From Atom Complex: Diplomats,” Reuters, October 9, 2008.

Karl, Jonathan, and Radia, Kirit, “Coming Soon: Deal with North Korea … or 2nd Nuclear Test?,” ABCNews, October 9, 2008.

Kessler, Glenn, “U.S. Seems Set to Take N. Korea off Terror List,” The Washington Post, October 10, 2008, p. A16.

Kim, Hyung-Jin, “US, NKorea Seek Compromise in Nuclear Deadlock,” Associated Press, October 7, 2008.

Kim, Hyung-Jin, “NKorea May Be Developing Small Nuclear Warhead,” Associated Press, October 8, 2008.

Klinger, Bruce, North Korea Nuclear Verification: Has the U.S. Blinked?, Heritage Foundation WebMemo, October 31, 2008.

Lee, Matthew, “US Seeks Support Before Delisting North Korea,” October 10, 2008.

McCormack, Sean, Briefing on North Korea With Special Envoy for the Six-Party Talks Ambassador Sung Kim, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Sean McCormack, Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance, and Implementation Paula DeSutter, and Acting Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation Patricia McNerney, U.S. Department of State, October 11, 2008.

Namkung, K.A. and Sigal, Leon, “Setting a New Course with North Korea,” The Washington Times, October 19, 2008.

The New York Times, “The Latest North Korea Deal,” October 13, 2008, p. A28.

The Times of India, “North Korea Extracted 30.8 kg of Plutonium,” October 24, 2008.

Tomero, Leonor and Ptacin, Adam, Will Ill Kim Jong-Il Derail Disarmament, The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, October 6, 2008.

Sang-hun, Choe, and Cooper, Helene, “North Korea to Resume Disabling Nuclear Plant,” The New York Times, October 12, 2008, p. A6.

Sevastopulo, Demetri and Pilling, David, “Japan Rejects N Korea Nuclear Proposal,” The Financial Times, October 10, 2008.

U.S. Department of State, U.S.-North Korea Understandings on Verification, October 11, 2008.

Wright, Robin, “Stuart Levey’s War,” The New York Times, October 31, 2008.

Xinhua, “Russian, DPRK FMs Hold Talks on Bilateral Ties, Nuke Issue,” October 15, 2008.

Israel

El-Feki, Mustafa, “Sleight of Hand,” Al-Ahram (Egypt), October 23-29, 2008.

Syria

Agence France-Presse, “Syria Says Nuclear Cooperation not at Security Expense,” October 3, 2008.

Associated Press, “Syria Would Consider Another UN Nuke Agency Visit,” October 29, 2008.

Hibbs, Mark, “Key IAEA Directors Not Inclined to Press for Special Syria Probe,” Nucleonics Week, October 9, 2008.

Hibbs, Mark, “Evidence From IAEA Graphite Probe Not Critical to Syria Reactor Case,” Nuclear Fuels, October 20, 2008, p. 7.

Jahn, George, “Diplomats: IAEA Says Syrian Nuke Info Needs Probe,” The Associated Press, October 29, 2008.

Pakistan

Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Nuclear Security in Pakistan After Musharraf, WMD Insights, October 2008, 6 pp.

Agence France-Presse, “Pakistan PM Calls for US Nuclear Deal Like India’s,” October 2, 2008.

Reuters, “Pakistan Trumpets China Ties, Gets Nuke Plants Offer,” October 18, 2008.

Webb, Greg, “China to Provide Nuclear Reactors to Pakistan,” Global Security Newswire, October 20, 2008.

III. Nonproliferation

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

Allison, Graham, “Nonproliferation,” International Herald Tribune, October 9, 2008, p. 8.

Faulconbridge, Guy, “U.S. Slaps Sanctions on Chinese and Russian Firms,” Reuters, October 24, 2008.

Heinrich, Mark, “IAEA Nations Urge Non-Nuclear Mideast in Bitter Vote,” Reuters, October 4, 2008.

Hibbs, Mark, “Several IAEA States Cool to ElBaradei’s 2020 Report,” Nucleonics Week, October 16, 2008, pg. 8.

National Nuclear Security Administration, Highly Enriched Uranium Removed from Hungary, October 23, 2008.

Perkovich, George, Principles For Reforming the Nuclear Order, Ifri Security Studies Center, Proliferation Paper No. 22, Fall 2008, 21 pp.

Webb, Gerg, “IAEA Inks Cooperation Deal with Russian Center,” Global Security Newswire, October 22, 2008.

IV. Missiles and Missile Defense

Abdullav, Nabi, “Russia: No S-300 Missile Systems to Iran,” DefenseNews, October 9, 2008.

Associated Press, “Russian Missile Makes Record Flight,” October 11, 2008.

Blair, David, “Israel Building New Missile Defense Shield to Protect Against Rocket Attacks,” The Telegraph, October 6, 2008.

Kommersant, “Quite a Few Nations Interested in Russia’s Iskander-E Missiles,” October 1, 2008.

McGirk, Tim, and Klein, Aaron J., “Israelis Wary of a US Radar Base in the Negev,” TIME, October 2, 2008.

RIA Novosti, “Czech MPs May Launch Ratification of U.S. Shield Deal in Nov.,” October 1, 2008.

The Telegraph, “Russia Plans Biggest Missile Test for 24 Years,” October 7, 2008.

V. Chemical and Biological Arms

Chertoff, Michael, “Confronting Biological Threats to the Homeland,” Joint Force Quarterly, Issue 51, 4th Quarter 2008, pp. 8-12.

Cordesman, Anthony, Iranian Weapons of Mass Destruction: Capabilities, Developments, and Strategic Uncertainties (Chemical Weapons Programs), Center for Strategic and International Studies, October 22, 2008, 25 pp.

Cordesman, Anthony, Iranian Weapons of Mass Destruction: Biological Weapons Programs, Center for Strategic and International Studies, October 28, 2008.

Global Security Newswire, “World Destroys 41 Percent of Chemical Warfare Agents,” October 30, 2008.

Elshamy, Anwar, “Qatar’s Steps to Ban Chemical Arms Lauded,” Gulf News (Qatar), October 20, 2008.

Environment News Service, “South Korea Completes Destruction of Its Chemical Weapons Stockpile,” October 17, 2008.

VI. Conventional Arms

Adams, Jonathan, “Taiwan Arms Deal Sours U.S.-China Relations,” The Christian Science Monitor, October 6, 2008.

Agence France-Presse, “Increased African Support for Cluster Bombs Treaty,” October 1, 2008.

Associated Press, “Venezuela to Buy Russian Tanks, Armored Vehicles,” October 17, 2008.

BBC News, “Hijacked Tanks ‘for South Sudan’,” October 7 2008.

Gertz, Bill, “China Report Urges Missile Shield,” The Washington Times, October 1, 2008.

IceNews (Iceland), “Norway Officially Bans All Cluster Weapons,” October 27, 2008.

Kommersant, “Russia Ranks 2nd in Arms Sales,” October 30, 2008.

Magnier, Mark, “China Cancels Visit Over U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan,” The Los Angeles Times, October 7, 2008.

Mroue, Bassem, “Lebanon Demining Program Running Out of Money,” Associated Press, October 17, 2008.

Snyder, Charles, “State Department Approves Arms Sales,” Taipei Times, October 4, 2008, pg. 1.

Xinhua, “Australia to Sign International Treaty to Ban Cluster Bombs,” October 21, 2008.

Tiebel, Amy, “Olmert to Urge Moscow: Don’t Arm Israel’s Enemies,” Associated Press, October 5, 2008.

Williams, Dan, “Israel Switches From U.S. Cluster Bombs, Buys Local,” Reuters, September 30, 2008.

VII. U.S. Policy

Bolfrass, Alex, The U.S.-German Tactical Nuclear Weapons Dillemma, The Henry L. Stimson Center, October 30, 2008.

Cole, August, and Dreazen, Yochi, “Boots on the Ground or Weapons in the Sky,” The Wall Street Journal, October 30, 2008, p. A14.

Grossman, Elaine, M. “Obama Adviser Backs Missile Defenses in Europe,” Global Security Newswire, October 2, 2008.

Grossman, Elaine M., “New U.S. Africa Command to Support WMD Tracking,” Global Security Newswire, October 8, 2008.

Karl, Jonathan, “Exclusive: Petraeus Wants to go to Syria; Bush Administration Says No,” ABCNews, October 30, 2008.

Litwak, Robert S. “Regime Change 2.0,” The Wilson Quarterly, Autumn 2008, p. 22-27.

VIII. Space

Gertz, Bill, “Inside the Ring: Pentagon to Study Space-Based Missile Defenses,” The Washington Times, October 16, 2008.

Krepon, Michael, What Next For U.S. Space Diplomacy?, The Henry L. Stimson Center, October 10, 2008.

Krepon, Michael, Space: The Vulnerable Frontier, The Henry L. Stimson Center, October 29, 2008.

Vanden Brook, Tom, “Pentagon Envisions Spaceships Troopers,” USA Today, October 15, 2008, p. 7.

Wolf, Jim, “U.S. to Study Possible Space-Based Defense,” Reuters, October 17, 2008.

IX. Other

Agence France-Presse, “Afghanistan Elected to IAEA Board,” October 3, 2008.

Associated Press, “Venezuela, France Eye Nuclear Energy Cooperation,” October 2, 2008.

The Economist, “Who Wins, Nukes,” October 2, 2008.

Elliot, Dan, “Air Force: Nuke Missile Silo Fire Went Undetected,” Associated Press, October 30, 2008.

Global Security Newswire,
“Markey Seeks Bush View of Cargo Scanning,” October 31, 2008.

Hall, Mimi, “2012 Deadline to Scan All Port Cargo Won’t Be Met,” USA Today, October 20, 2008.

Norington, Brad, “Control Nuclear Weapons or Risk New Hiroshima: Evans,” The Australian, October 21, 2008.

Squassoni, Sharon, Nuclear Renaissance: Is It Coming? Should It?, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, October 2008, 8 pp.

Tirone, Jonathan, “Nuclear Terrorism Is No. 1 Threat, ElBaradei Says,” Bloomberg, September 30, 2008.

Webb, Greg, “U.S. Takes Back HEU Fuel From Overseas Reactors,” Global Security Newswire, October 7, 2008.

U.S., NK Agree on Draft Verification Plan

Peter Crail

After nearly two months of deadlock and North Korean threats to undo denuclearization progress made over the last year, the United States announced Oct. 11 an agreement with North Korea on measures to verify Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programs. U.S. officials emphasized, however, that the agreement must still be finalized and adopted by the other four parties (China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea) involved in six-party talks on North Korea’s denuclearization. The six countries are scheduled to meet in early November to discuss the agreement.

In addition to its announcement regarding the verification agreement, the Department of State removed North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism. Washington had made the delisting contingent on agreement on a satisfactory verification plan consistent with “international standards.”
Since mid-August, this disagreement had stalled progress on implementing two agreements by the six parties made last year aimed at disabling North Korea’s primary nuclear facilities and paving the way for the country’s eventual denuclearization. North Korea had objected to a U.S. demand to agree on a verification protocol before it was removed from the list. In the weeks prior to the Oct. 11 announcement, Pyongyang restricted access to all of the key facilities at its Yongbyon nuclear complex to international monitors and was in the process of restoring its ability to separate plutonium for use in nuclear weapons.

Despite North Korea’s removal from the terrorism list, Washington continues to impose a wide range of sanctions against Pyongyang for human rights violations, proliferation, and its status as a Communist state. (See ACT, September 2008.)

The day of the State Department announcement, the Democratic and Republican candidates for U.S. president issued statements in response. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) called the agreement “a modest step forward” in denuclearizing North Korea, adding that the decision to delist Pyongyang “is an appropriate response” so long as there are “immediate consequences” if North Korea does not follow through on the agreement. As part of such a response, he suggested that the parties providing energy assistance to North Korea in return for the disablement of its facilities could suspend such assistance and reimpose sanctions.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) took a far more skeptical tone, criticizing what he saw as a lack of consultation with U.S. allies in the region prior to the agreement. He stated that, before he is able to support the decision to delist North Korea, he “expect[s] the administration to explain exactly how this new verification agreement advances American interests and those of our allies.”

A Tentative Verification Agreement

The U.S.-North Korean verification agreement outlines the types of procedures that inspectors will use to determine the extent and history of North Korea’s nuclear activities, as well as who will carry the procedures out. Although the State Department has not released details of that agreement, it issued a summary Oct. 11 that says inspectors will have access to all declared facilities and, “based on mutual consent, to undeclared sites” and can use “scientific procedures” such as sampling and forensic activities. North Korea declared about 15 facilities related to its plutonium-based program in a document provided to the six parties in June.

U.S. officials claim that the verification agreement satisfies all U.S. requirements for inspections in North Korea. Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance, and Implementation Paula DeSutter told reporters Oct. 11, “All of the elements that we sought…are included in the various documents and agreements that they’ve obtained with the North Koreans.”

The State Department summary indicated that the verification protocol would apply to North Korea’s plutonium-based program, which produced the nuclear material used in Pyongyang’s October 2006 nuclear test, and “any uranium enrichment and proliferation activities.”

The United States and its allies suspect that North Korea has pursued a uranium-enrichment program, which could provide it with an additional path to nuclear weapons production. Washington has also accused Pyongyang of aiding the construction of a nuclear reactor in Syria to be used for a Syrian nuclear weapons program. (See ACT, May 2008.) Israel destroyed the reactor while it was under construction in September 2007. (See ACT, October 2007.)

North Korea has publicly denied pursuing uranium enrichment and assisting a Syrian nuclear program, and the two issues have hampered negotiations on implementing a February 2007 agreement on steps leading to North Korea’s denuclearization over the past year. As part of its June declaration, Pyongyang provided Washington with side documents acknowledging U.S. concerns about these activities and stating that it was not engaged in them at present and would not in the future.

Although the verification agreement potentially paves the way for addressing these two contentious concerns, U.S. officials indicated that the inspection effort would initially focus on North Korea’s plutonium-based program. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation Patricia McNerney indicated during an Oct. 11 press briefing that “the largest program that we all are aware of is the plutonium program, so it makes sense to start there.”

DeSutter noted during the briefing that although the key facilities related to North Korea’s plutonium-production effort are well known, the United States needs to gain clarity on where that plutonium is fashioned into a pit for a nuclear weapon. She also expressed hope that, in the process of finding out more details about the plutonium program, “we learn things about the uranium program by virtue of that.”

Congressional sources told Arms Control Today Sept. 29 that Senate Foreign Relations Committee members had advocated that the administration pare back its verification plan to focus on North Korea’s plutonium program and postpone efforts to address Pyongyang’s suspected uranium-enrichment efforts until later. A Senate staffer said in communication with Arms Control Today Oct. 15 that “it makes sense to begin with the declared sites, build confidence and familiarity and collect information, and then proceed to the undeclared sites of interest.”

In spite of the assurance by U.S. officials that the agreement contained everything Washington sought initially, some of the provisions of the agreement do not appear to be consistent with Washington’s initial verification proposal in July.

That proposal contained provisions for sweeping inspection measures, potentially in all parts of the country, including “full access upon request to any site, facility or location,” regardless of whether the sites were contained in North Korea’s June declaration. (See ACT, October 2008.) North Korea rejected this proposal as too intrusive, asserting that the access provisions for inspectors were “coercive.”

In its summary, the State Department indicated that inspectors will have access to undeclared sites “based on mutual consent” rather than “upon request,” as originally proposed. DeSutter explained Oct. 11 that the notion of mutual consent is implicit in any access inspectors have to relevant facilities, stating that the host country will generally “have to ensure that we get the access we need when we get to the site.” She added that the United States has not yet provided a list to North Korea of the sites that it wants to visit.

It is also unclear what types of North Korean personnel inspectors may interview and at what locations. Although McNerney stated Oct. 11 that the agreement met all of the criteria sought by Washington, including interviews with North Korean nuclear personnel, the State Department summary makes no mention of such interviews. The July proposal suggested that experts would be permitted to interview relevant personnel, including scientists, technicians, and facility managers, “at any site, facility, or location.”

The format of the verification agreement includes a written joint document and verbal agreements between the two parties regarding verification. It is unclear whether North Korea agreed to some of the measures that the United States initially proposed verbally rather than as part of the joint verification document. Moreover, U.S. officials described the verification agreement as a “baseline” to be finalized by the six parties. A State Department official told Arms Control Today Oct. 22 that this baseline left room for an agreement to include additional clarification and specific measures.

State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack told reporters Oct. 11 that the terms of the written and verbal agreements had been conveyed to the other parties. Asian diplomats told Arms Control Today in October, however, that Washington provided little information regarding the verbal agreements and questioned Pyongyang’s willingness to formalize them so soon after limiting its agreement to verbal assurances.

McCormack noted Oct. 11 that Japan insisted that the agreement should be formalized and included in writing, adding that the United States shares this position.

One provision of the agreement sought by Tokyo and Seoul was that experts from all six parties involved in the talks, “including from non-nuclear states,” would participate in the verification activities. Asian diplomats told Arms Control Today in October that North Korea had previously insisted that only countries that possessed nuclear weapons should be allowed to take part in verification, thereby excluding Japan and South Korea.

North Korea Reverses Its Reversal of Disablement

Following the Oct. 11 announcement of the verification agreement and the delisting, North Korea has recommenced work to disable its key nuclear facilities at Yongbyon, thereby rendering them temporarily inoperable. The official Korean Central News Agency issued a statement by the North Korean Foreign Ministry Oct. 13 stating that, with its removal from the U.S. terrorism list, North Korea “decided to resume the disablement of nuclear facilities in [Yongbyon] and allow the inspectors of the [United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)] to perform their duties on the principle of ‘action for action.’”

In the weeks prior to these announcements, North Korea had taken steps to reverse some of the work carried out over the last year to disable its key plutonium-production-related facilities, including a five-megawatt nuclear reactor, a fuel fabrication facility, and a reprocessing plant. (See ACT, October 2008.)

Siegfried Hecker, former director of Los Alamos National Laboratories, has estimated that it would take about a month for North Korea to be able to start reprocessing its spent fuel once again. (See ACT, October 2008.)

McCormack told reporters Oct. 17 that, in regard to the five-megawatt reactor, North Korea reimplemented the disablement work it reversed since mid-August and reapplied IAEA seals to equipment and nuclear material and had proceeded with disablement beyond the point when it began its reversal. Pyongyang, however, has not yet reimplemented all of the disablement work it reversed at the fuel fabrication and reprocessing plants.


Reports Fault U.S. Anti-Missile Approach

Wade Boese

Two recent reports found that U.S. anti-missile systems are being developed and fielded largely without long-term arrangements to operate them or sufficient input from the military services. Unless current practices change, the reports indicate existing and future systems might not be supported or maintained over time.

In an unclassified report sent to Congress, a panel with the private Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) concluded that the approach taken by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to meet President George W. Bush’s goal to swiftly deploy anti-missile systems “has been less successful in fostering the planning and preparation needed to adequately address future operations of deployed systems and follow-on procurement and sustainment.” The 20-member panel also noted that the military services designated to operate the systems “have not been heavily involved” in preparing for that responsibility, including specifying weapons requirements.

The August report, obtained Sept. 29 by Arms Control Today, was directed by Congress as part of the fiscal year 2008 defense authorization bill signed into law last January. One of the panel’s co-leaders was retired Gen. Larry Welch, who has headed several reviews of anti-missile programs, including a 1998 report that warned U.S. projects risked a “rush to failure.”

The latest findings correspond to the results of another study published in September by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which conducts investigations for Congress. The GAO reported that the MDA and the military services “have not routinely worked together on support planning” and that several anti-missile systems lack future support plans. In general, the GAO warned that “the difficulties in transitioning responsibilities from MDA to the services have complicated long-term planning.”

Rick Lehner, an MDA spokesperson, e-mailed Arms Control Today Oct. 17 that the agency is “engaging with all the military services to improve operations and sustainment activities and funding.” He added that the MDA has “a lot of responsibilities based upon the sheer number of programs and technologies we manage, and we do a great job.”

Formerly the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization until the Bush administration renamed it in January 2002, the MDA is tasked with deploying anti-missile systems “as soon as practicable.” On Dec. 17, 2002, Bush ordered limited deployments of ground-based long-range interceptors and sea-based shorter-range interceptors before the end of 2004. (See ACT, January/February 2003.)

The MDA succeeded in stationing a handful of interceptors in Alaska, but the IDA report noted that the “achievement was facilitated by the limited goal of an initial capability without specific performance requirements.” To date, the system has scored seven hits in a dozen intercept experiments.

Encouraged by the Bush administration, the MDA’s approach to anti-missile systems is known as spiral development. The aim is to develop and field initial capabilities quickly and then augment and improve them over time.

The IDA panel contended that, for midcourse intercept systems, which include the approximately two dozen deployed interceptors of the ground-based midcourse defense (GMD) in Alaska and California as well as the ship-based Aegis system, “the balance between qualitative improvements and deploying more of existing capabilities should be strongly in favor of qualitative improvements. Without such a focus, the current system capabilities will become obsolete.” The panel further stated, “[A] trend toward more deployments of current capabilities would seriously degrade the ability to increase the future capability of BMDS [the Ballistic Missile Defense System].” The BMDS encompasses all of the separate U.S. anti-missile systems.

The MDA, according to a statement provided by Lehner, views the panel’s findings as “consistent with the overall premise of our spiral development acquisition approach.” He stated, “[W]e have always planned on qualitative improvements to both the land-based and sea-based midcourse defenses.” For an example, he cited the agency’s effort to build smaller kill vehicles so that a single interceptor can carry more of those lethal devices to take on more than one target.

The IDA panel stressed that the MDA needs to focus on its primary role as a research and development agency, including putting a “renewed emphasis” on science and technology, and to pass systems procurement and operations responsibilities to the services. The MDA currently oversees or participates in operating some deployed systems and has not concluded arrangements for the military services to take over running and paying for some of the defenses, one notable exception being the Aegis system.

The IDA panel recommended that the MDA involve the services more in establishing performance requirements and testing objectives. The panel contended the MDA has had “too little interaction” with other Pentagon stakeholders and pointed out that the agency’s approach to developing capabilities “needs to involve the ultimate user throughout” to ensure that the product is “militarily useful.”

The GAO also urged that the MDA engage the services more, including in establishing long-term support plans. The congressional watchdog noted that five of the seven systems that it reviewed lacked agreements identifying who was accountable for the costs of operating and supporting the systems after 2013. Such arrangements are important, according to the GAO, because 70 percent of most weapons systems’ costs stem from their operation and support. The GAO noted that the MDA since 2002 has spent about $57 billion on developing and procuring the initial elements of the BMDS.

The Pentagon and the MDA contend they already are progressing along the lines encouraged by the IDA panel and the GAO. But in response to the GAO report, the Department of Defense also argued that because of the urgency of the threat or military need, sometimes “it may be unwise to slow or delay fielding of BMDS capabilities until every step is taken to complete operation and support planning.”


SPECIAL REPORT: Major Exercise Tests CTBT On-Site Inspections

Oliver Meier

SEMIPALATINSK, KAZAKHSTAN — It was a clear and sunny day when the earth shook in Arcania. Several seismic stations that are part of the International Monitoring System (IMS) that is monitoring compliance with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) picked up the event a short time later and transmitted the data in near real time to Vienna. There, the International Data Center of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) determined that the seismic event on Aug. 22 had a magnitude of 4.05 and placed it in the middle of the so-called Barrier Zone, where Arcania had conducted several nuclear test explosions in the 1970s and 1980s. Arcania claimed to have closed its nuclear test site in 1989 and stated that an earthquake triggered the seismic network. But Arcania’s neighboring state and regional competitor, Fiducia, remained apprehensive, not least because it had obtained its own information about suspicious activities prior to Aug. 22 in the Barrier Zone. Because both states are CTBT members, Fiducia requested an on-site inspection (OSI) to clarify what happened in Arcania on Aug. 22. That request was granted, and a team of international inspectors from 22 different countries began assembling immediately in Vienna.

This scenario provided part of the background information that was given to 40 international inspectors who arrived on Sept. 1 in Almaty, Kazakhstan, which doubled as the fictional Arcania’s capital city, Utopium. The team was taking part in the Integrated Field Exercise 2008 (IFE08), a large-scale simulation organized by the Provision Technical Secretariat (PTS) of the CTBTO to test crucial elements of the treaty’s OSI provisions. Once the CTBT has entered into force, such challenge inspections can be requested by any state-party to clarify whether a suspicious event was indeed a violation of the ban on nuclear tests.

Prior to the IFE08, the PTS had run several so-called directed exercises to test specific components of the OSI regime. The IFE08 was different. The month-long simulation was the largest and longest of its kind to date. Two hundred participants and observers traveled to the base of operations, at a remote location on the former Soviet nuclear test site Semipalatinsk. About 6,000 man-days were spent in the field, which represents a sizable portion of the annual monitoring activities of much larger organizations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) or the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Fifty tons of equipment had to be transported to the base (and back), and inspectors applied 10 different inspection technologies. All in all, the PTS spent about $6 million on the simulation, not including contributions of 672,000 euros (around $900,000) from the European Union and equipment from eight states.

Most importantly, the inspection was unprecedented because virtually all OSI components were tested in combination. “This was not a trivial exercise in terms of its parameters,” Tibor Tóth, the executive secretary of the PTS, concluded in an Oct. 9 Arms Control Today interview.

The inspectors’ assigned task was to find out what had really happened on Aug. 22. The exercise itself had a few more fundamental and important purposes, including a test of inspection equipment under realistic conditions, the training of future inspectors, and a trial of operational procedures. The IFE08 also was supposed to send a political signal that more than 10 years of OSI preparations have paid off and the organization will be ready to conduct an on-site inspection if and when the CTBT enters into force.

Assessing Logistics and Equipment

The IFE08 took place as significant progress has been made in the last few years in establishing the IMS, which has the primary task of identifying and locating suspicious events that might be indicative of a nuclear test explosion. When the IMS is complete there will be 321 monitoring stations and 16 radionuclide laboratories located in 89 countries. Because the CTBT prohibits nuclear test explosions in all environments—underground, in the atmosphere, or in the oceans—the system applies four different monitoring technologies and has comprehensive global coverage. A total of 170 seismic stations will monitor for the distinctive tremors produced by a nuclear test explosion, 60 infrasound stations will be able to detect sound waves typical for atmospheric tests, and 11 hydroacoustic stations will monitor the oceans. There will be 80 radionuclide stations capable of detecting telltale signatures of fission products produced by a nuclear explosion. As of Sept. 12, 232 IMS stations were certified, 31 were in a testing mode, and 36 were under construction. The PTS estimates that 85 to 90 percent of all IMS stations will be completed by 2009. Progress toward completion of the network of stations will depend on the degree of cooperation of the handful of countries that have not yet signed or ratified the treaty. Although not yet fully completed, the IMS is already operating and delivering data. For instance, numerous IMS stations detected North Korea’s Oct. 9, 2006, nuclear test, which was a relatively small yield event of only 0.6 kilotons TNT equivalent. (See ACT, October 2008.)

On-site inspections are intended to provide an additional, crucial layer of security to the verification system. If an ambiguous event is detected, any state-party may request an on-site inspection to seek clarification. In addition to information collected through the IMS, a requesting state may put its own evidence on the table to support its case that a state may have conducted a nuclear test. A positive vote of at least 30 of the 51 states that are members of the CTBTO’s Executive Council is required for an inspection to proceed. Because evidence from a clandestine nuclear test may disappear quickly, time is of the essence. A decision on a proposed inspection will have to be made no more than 96 hours after an inspection request was filed, and the director-general will then launch the inspection as quickly as possible. No more than 72 hours after arrival at the point of entry in the inspected state, inspection activities must begin.

A real on-site inspection can only be requested after the CTBT has become legally binding. But the treaty’s entry into force still depends on ratification by nine specific states, including nuclear-weapon possessors China, Israel, and the United States, which have signed but not ratified the treaty, as well as India, North Korea, and Pakistan, which have not even signed the accord. Thus, for the time being such inspections remain a theoretical possibility. Nonetheless, the CTBT requires the verification regime to be “capable of meeting the verification requirements of this treaty” when the accord enters into force. Therefore, preparations for the inspection regime have been ongoing since 1997.

Inspection team leader Wang Jun, in an Oct. 14 interview with Arms Control Today, called the fact that the exercise was conducted “a tremendous success, especially for a multilateral verification regime that is still in its build-up phase.” Organizers said the exercise put most components of an OSI to a realistic test, and with a few exceptions, inspection equipment met or outperformed expectations. Wang pointed out that the IFE08 marks the first time that a passive seismic detection network with mini-arrays, as opposed to single sensor stations, was used in an OSI exercise, and he said it performed extremely well. The teams deployed 28 such mini-arrays to monitor for aftershocks that could be indicative of the collapse of cavities created by underground nuclear blasts.

“These sensors covered about 80 to 90 percent of the inspection area, and the covered areas were highly sensitized,” Wang said. The system demonstrated its capability when it picked up and located a number of small conventional explosions that were apparently set off by locals at the margins of the inspection area on Sept. 10-11, even though the equivalent yield of the blasts was only on the order of kilograms of dynamite. Radionuclide sampling and gamma radiation surveys conducted from the ground and the air confirmed the real radioactive background survey results conducted just before the exercise. In the continuation period, inspectors applied techniques, especially aerial magnetic field mapping, to identify anomalies in the underground geological structures, which over real test sites produced very good results. “We now have full confidence that these inspection techniques would work” in a real inspection, Wang concluded, adding, “Had there been OSI-relevant radionuclides present, we would have found them.”

Some of the equipment had been donated by member states just before the exercise, creating the additional challenge for inspectors of using unfamiliar instruments. For example, the Chinese government had donated a mobile detector for argon-37, a radionuclide that does not occur naturally but can be found in the aftermath of a nuclear test. This was the first time the detector was operated in an inspection environment, and inspectors praised its performance.

Naturally, not all aspects of an on-site inspection can be simulated in an exercise, even a large one. Some components may be too intrusive to be applied at a former nuclear weapons test site; others, too expensive to be used for testing purposes. Thus, the treaty foresees the possibility of drilling in order to confirm the presence of radionuclides underground, which would provide indisputable proof of an underground nuclear explosion. At a cost of several million dollars per hole, however, drilling was ruled out for the IFE08. Other technologies could not be applied for safety and security reasons. For example, the Kazakh inspection hosts, possibly with the backing of former test site operators in Russia, insisted that soil samples could not be taken. Similarly, air samples could be collected but were not to be analyzed. Although the procedures for taking and analyzing of such samples were successfully tested, the results of this analysis had to be fabricated by scenario controllers. Harmonizing real and artificial data created additional difficulties.

The success of a future on-site inspection will also depend on the reliability of basic gear such as tents, toilets, and generators. The test of such equipment turned out to be more demanding than many had expected. The Kazakh steppe is a harsh environment, and the base was a minimum four-hour drive away from the next town, the formerly closed nuclear city of Kurchatov. Strong winds, rain, and icy temperatures made setting up the base of operations an unexpected challenge and delayed the beginning of some inspection activities, such as the initial overflight over the inspection area, for a few days.

Under such extreme circumstances, it quickly became clear which parts of the equipment worked well and which did not. The tents, donated by the European Union, were praised all around. Indeed, one of the Kazakh hosts inquired whether the team would not like to leave several of them behind. Fancy electrical toilets, built to incinerate waste and thus meet the most stringent environmental standards (euphemistically named Cinderella), were unreliable but at least turned out to be an inexhaustible source for jokes among exercise participants. While rugged Kazakh generators hummed along happily under any conditions, modern computer-controlled generators brought in for the exercise choked repeatedly on impurities in Kazakh diesel fuel, bringing life in the camp to an effective halt because of the sudden interruption in the electricity supply.

Training the Inspectors

Because on-site inspections are likely to be rare events, treaty negotiators decided that, unlike the IAEA and OPCW, the CTBTO will not have a ready, standing inspectorate. Instead, the future organization’s director-general would be able to draw from a pool of trained inspectors to form a team of up to 40 inspectors once the request for an OSI has been granted. One essential element of the exercise was therefore to train potential recruits under realistic conditions.

There is hardly a better training site for CTBTO inspectors than a former nuclear test site. The Soviet Union conducted 456 test explosions between 1949 and 1989 at Semipalatinsk, including 340 underground tests. Most of the boreholes used for underground nuclear tests are accessible, and about 30 were located inside the mock inspection area, providing inspectors with a unique opportunity to check how instruments would pick up the characteristics of underground tests, such as cavities created by nuclear detonations. The real possibility of contamination also contributed to a realistic test of health and safety precautions.

Semipalatinsk was also an ideal location to practice inspections because of its size and relative inaccessibility. The inspection area for the exercise measured 25 kilometers by 40 kilometers, thus covering the maximum space permitted under the CTBT of 1,000 square kilometers. The immense size of the area was compounded by the virtual absence of roads, making travel difficult and taking valuable time out of the maximum six hours that Kazakhstan for safety reasons allowed inspectors to spend in the field every day.

“We were pressed for time and extended for space,” inspection team leader Wang complained. He referred to the fact that, under the treaty, the inspection period can last up to 60 days after Executive Council approval of the OSI plus a possible extension of another 70 days but in the exercise that period had been artificially shortened to just 23 days, out of which field activities were conducted on 17 days.

The purpose of the initial inspection period, which under the treaty can last up to 25 days from the day that the Executive Council has authorized the inspection, is to narrow down the search area and identify sites of particular interest. The treaty foresees that techniques to cover large areas, such as visual observation, should be used initially. Thus, inspectors conducted overflights in an MI-8 helicopter and a radiation survey from the air. Based on the findings of these wide-area searches, inspectors were sent off to specific locations on the ground to conduct such tasks as taking environmental samples.

Narrowing down the inspection area turned out to be more difficult than expected. The team was not able to detect radionuclides indicative of a possible nuclear explosion, but an underground test does not necessarily vent such materials. Moreover, the progress inspection report (PIR), transmitted to the CTBTO’s director-general Sept. 12, listed several possible indicators of prohibited activities. For example, inspectors observed trucks and trailers near a construction site and a borehole. What were these doing at a site with no construction activities? At a different location, the team saw a scraped area. Was this an attempt by Arcania to hide evidence of prohibited activities? Inspectors also observed an orange trailer and tent, which had no obvious purpose at a remote location. Also, it found a new-looking concrete platform of about four meters in diameter covering a borehole.

In fact, these artifacts were several of a dozen anomalies within the inspection area that could be indicative of activities that the inspectors were supposed to identify during the exercise. The identification of these hints in the PIR was in itself a success. The inspectors, however, were frustrated because they were unable to see whether these “artifacts” were simply anomalies or represented a consistent pattern. Because of this and because the seismic survey did not enable them to reach any firm conclusions about the likely location of the triggering event, the inspectors refused to exclude certain areas for inspection in the PIR. This report was then accepted as the basis for an extension of the inspection into the so-called continuation period, a result that generated much frustration on the part of Arcanian officials, even if inspectors did prioritize three areas for further inspection.

Advancing OSI Procedures

Many CTBT states-parties hope that lessons learned during the exercise will invigorate discussions on an operational manual intended to guide on-site inspections that has been under development in Vienna in the Preparatory Commission’s (PrepCom) Working Group B, which is overseeing the implementation of the treaty’s verification system.

“The overall experience of the exercise should help discussions on the manual to move beyond the very theoretical way of thinking that we have unavoidably had in Working Group B,” Malcolm Coxhead told Arms Control Today in an Oct. 15 e-mail. Coxhead is currently leading efforts to draft the manual, which by 2005 had grown to an unruly 766-page draft with numerous unresolved issues. Coxhead has tried to develop so-called draft model texts to speed up that process, but agreement on a consensus document will require more time to achieve.

For the purpose of the IFE08, Working Group B agreed on a 174-page test manual to be used as a guide for inspectors and the inspected state-party. That document contains only a handful of brackets, indicating contentious issues, but several states-parties made clear that agreement on the test manual does not indicate that they have given up their reservations on the real text. In preparation for the IFE08, discussions on the manual paused in 2008 but are expected to resume in February 2009.

The exercise highlighted open issues between the treaty itself and the operational manuals as participants were trying to apply the two texts to the reality of an inspection. For example, there was a heated debate over whether Arcanian officials have the right to comment on the PIR before it is transferred to Vienna. Also, what is supposed to happen if inspectors accidentally gather information that is outside their mandate? Does all the data associated with that mission have to be deleted or just the additional information? Many such procedural issues, which could complicate a real inspection or could even provide a pretext for its termination, were identified during the exercise. An evaluation team comprised of 10 outside experts and PTS staff who monitored the IFE08 and drew independent conclusions will also deliver its findings to Working Group B.

John Walker, a British expert who played the role of team leader of the inspected state-party in the IFE08, told Arms Control Today in an Oct. 15 e-mail that “the challenge now is to make sure that identified lessons are valid, learned, and embedded.”

One of the lessons may be that some restrictions placed by states-parties on equipment to protect national and commercial secrets are superfluous. For example, some states insist that inspectors not be allowed to use satellite-based navigation instruments like the Global Positioning System (GPS) because it would enable them to pinpoint the location of sensitive sites or facilities. Such an approach would appear to be outdated given that today’s GPS functions are integrated into many mobile phones and the Internet provides access to high-quality satellite imagery. During the IFE08, the GPS was used for navigation throughout the exercise and without a problem.

The field exercise also demonstrated that the relationship between inspected state-party and inspected state is likely to fluctuate between cooperation and conflict. Group loyalty was strong. As in a real inspection, interaction between the inspected state-party and the inspection team was limited. The base of operations was divided into different zones for inspectors and host state. The two groups even took their meals at different times. Arcanian officials went so far as to compose a national anthem that inspectors reluctantly sang when the inspected state-party hosted a joint barbeque.

Many conflicts evolved around managed access, which is the process of the repeated negotiation of access rights between the inspected party and inspectors that is at the heart of modern verification regimes. The core problem is finding an adequate balance between the rights and obligations between the two sides. How far can inspectors go? How are they supposed to behave? How much information do they have to share with the inspected state-party? How much assistance does the inspected state have to give inspectors? Again and again, these issues were played out in the scenario.

For example, since the beginning of the exercise Sept. 1, the inspection team had wanted to gain access to an area that Arcania had declared off-limits. Arcania maintained that the area was unsafe because of ongoing operations to clear unexploded ordnance from a closed firing range. Even more frustrating for the inspection team, the area was located within a no-fly zone.

But the beginning of the continuation period on Sept. 14 provided a perfect opportunity to test the CTBT’s managed access provisions. On Sept. 15, Arcania for the first time granted inspectors access to the no-entry area, saying that ordnance clearance operations had finished. At the same time, however, and in accordance with treaty procedures, it did declare a so-called restricted access site (RAS) of 2 kilometers by 2 kilometers. “This is because of national security reasons, unrelated to the purpose of the inspection,” John Walker, playing the role of director of the Disarmament Division in the Arcanian Foreign Ministry, explained dryly during the daily 5:30 pm meeting between Arcanian officials and the inspection team leadership. Additionally, Walker limited access by the inspectors to the northern part of the no-entry area and up to 500 meters outside the eastern, northern, and western boundaries of the RAS. Plus, only certain routes were to be used to approach the RAS.

For Wang, that was not good enough. Although the inspection team leader recognized Arcania’s right to declare a RAS, he argued that further limitations on access were not permissible. Wang maintained that it is not for the inspected state to decide where inspectors could go outside the RAS and accused Arcania of violating treaty stipulations and inspection procedures.

Walker remained adamant. “Take it or leave it!” he exclaimed, citing strict orders to him from Arcania’s Department of Defense. In reaction, the inspection team leader decided to leave. “This behavior is not in accordance with the treaty,” he exclaimed and announced that inspectors would pack up the next day.

In the evening, a teleconference took place between the (virtual) CTBTO director-general and the inspection team leader to discuss the stalemate. In a closed-door meeting, Wang then proposed to Walker that the inspection team would conduct an additional overflight over the RAS, using gamma radiation monitoring equipment. This turned out to be an acceptable compromise.

As the continuation period of the exercise began, inspectors began to deploy a number of additional technologies, such as magnetic field mapping, ground penetrating radar, and electromagnetic conductivity measurements, to investigate sites of interest and to detect the type of cavity typical of an underground nuclear test. Being able to test in a real former test site now proved particularly valuable because inspectors were able to show that their instruments can pick up anomalies from real underground tests, despite the fact that some of these were conducted more than 20 years ago. Although the inspectors did find a number of additional clues, they still did not detect any positive proof of a recent underground nuclear explosion.

The Endgame

As it turned out, Arcania had something to hide but not an underground nuclear test. On Sept. 21, the penultimate day of inspection activities, chief inspector Wang came tantalizingly close to the reason for Arcania’s secretiveness when Walker gave in to the inspectors’ pressure and invited him to visit the RAS. Wang specifically wanted to see the orange trailer and tent that inspectors had been observing from a distance for some time. Walker personally invited Wang to observe the site, but again kept him at a distance. Wang requested an environmental sample, but Walker refused to let Wang near the trailer. Instead, he collected the soil sample himself and handed it to the chief inspector.

The reason for Walker’s unwillingness to allow full access was that Arcania had been in the process of preparing a nuclear test when the earthquake that triggered the inspection took place Aug. 22. The trailer was supposed to house the instrumentation to steer the test. The tent covered the borehole, and between the two places, a trench had been dug for instrumentation cables.

Basing the field exercise on this scenario drew some criticism, particularly from the chief inspector. The CTBT’s verification system is not tailored to detect test preparations because these are not covered by the treaty. At the time when the treaty was negotiated, prohibiting test preparations was seen as too daunting a task, and states decided to leave that issue outside the treaty’s scope. Test preparations do not leave many signatures. Wang therefore called the scenario “very dubious” because inspectors had been told to find indicators of an underground nuclear test. He also pointed out that most nuclear-weapon states still maintain their nuclear test sites and that inspectors might come across artifacts similar to the one at the heart of the exercise even though these are not indicative of an imminent test.

On the other side, Walker argued that the scenario was valid given that, “in a real situation, there could very well be nothing to find, but the team has to go about conducting a thorough inspection of the inspection area to identify all potential features of interest, explore them, and see whether they were of relevance to the purpose of the inspection, following up in greater detail as necessary. In this respect ‘red herrings’ are a legitimate inject.”

Although there was some disagreement about the scenario, it was generally acknowledged that the inspectors performed well under difficult conditions, identifying most of the artifacts that the scenario designers had placed in the inspection area. Tóth called the game “probably the most challenging scenario, from different angles.”

Coxhead, who participated in the IFE08 but was not involved in setting up the scenario, agrees that people in the control team came to realize during the exercise that “presenting a credible scenario for an interesting game is harder than we may have thought.” Coxhead, however, argued that field exercises have natural limits: “It is not easy to simulate a nuclear explosion, and we can’t let one off for real!”

Once evaluation of the IFE08 starts, it will become clearer whether the exercise did send a clear message, particularly to verification skeptics, that the OSI regime would be ready when the treaty enters into force. Seven countries, including China, Iran, and Israel, which have all signed but not ratified the treaty, as well as the OPCW accepted an invitation by the PrepCom to send diplomats and experts as observers to the exercise. Notably absent were representatives of the U.S. government. Preparations for the OSI regime have been severely hampered by the decision of the Bush administration in 2001 to boycott discussions on OSI and withhold funding for all PrepCom activities related to OSI. (See ACT, September 2001.) Nonetheless, a number of independent U.S. experts were involved in Kazakhstan as observers and as part of the evaluation team.

Walker said that when the CTBTO holds another major exercise in about four years, there will be a chance for nonsignatory experts to participate and “hopefully the lessons from 2008 will be fully realized.” Tóth believes that the IFE08 demonstrated that, “in case additional tools are needed, they are at our disposal under the treaty, we can use those tools and use them in an efficient way” and hopes that this message will be heard particularly by countries that remain outside the CTBT. “I hope this process will lead the nine countries whose ratification is necessary for entry into force one by one to join the train that is already leaving the station,” he said.


It was a clear and sunny day when the earth shook in Arcania. Several seismic stations that are part of the International Monitoring System (IMS) that is monitoring compliance with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) picked up the event a short time later and transmitted the data in near real time to Vienna. There, the International Data Center of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) determined that the seismic event on Aug. 22 had a magnitude of 4.05 and placed it in the middle of the so-called Barrier Zone, where Arcania had conducted several nuclear test explosions in the 1970s and 1980s. Arcania claimed to have closed its nuclear test site in 1989 and stated that an earthquake triggered the seismic network. But Arcania’s neighboring state and regional competitor, Fiducia, remained apprehensive, not least because it had obtained its own information about suspicious activities prior to Aug. 22 in the Barrier Zone. Because both states are CTBT members, Fiducia requested an on-site inspection (OSI) to clarify what happened in Arcania on Aug. 22. That request was granted, and a team of international inspectors from 22 different countries began assembling immediately in Vienna. (Continue)

West May Seek Alternative Sanctions on Iran

Peter Crail

With an Oct. 20 discussion among the permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and Germany demonstrating little chance of additional sanctions against Iran, some Western countries have indicated that they will seek stronger punitive measures outside of that forum.

Division amongst the council’s members led to a compromise agreement at the end of September with the adoption of Resolution 1835. (See ACT, October 2008.) This resolution reiterated international demands that Iran suspend its sensitive nuclear fuel cycle activities but did not impose additional sanctions. The council has levied sanctions on Iran on three occasions since December 2006 for failing to meet the same demands. China and Russia continue to oppose additional international sanctions on Iran by the council.

Nonetheless, following the adoption of Resolution 1835, the French Foreign Ministry issued a statement Sept. 30 indicating that Paris would “work with its partners on new sanctions to increase the pressure on Iran” if Tehran did not abide by international demands to halt its sensitive nuclear work.

The UN sanctions imposed on Iran thus far have primarily targeted Iranian persons, entities, and banks that council members determined were involved in Iran’s nuclear and missile programs (see page 47). Some Western governments are seeking to expand trade restrictions to cover Iran’s critical oil and gas sector.

British officials have specifically raised the prospect of unilateral sanctions on Iran’s energy sector. Foreign Minister David Miliband told Parliament Oct. 7 that oil and gas sanctions on Iran remained “an important part of our agenda both within the European Union and internationally.” Prime Minister Gordon Brown stated a goal to limit financial and energy investment in Iran in November 2007.

Berlin also appears to be preparing to curtail its business dealings with Tehran. The German magazine Der Spiegel reported Oct. 20 that, during an Oct. 13 interministerial meeting, Berlin decided to hold discussions with trade associations in order to pressure German firms not to do business with Tehran. According to the report, the German government particularly wanted firms in its financial and energy sectors to curtail any investment in Iran.

German officials made similar calls earlier this year as the country’s trade with Iran rebounded in 2008. During an Aug. 6 press conference, German Chancellery spokesperson Thomas Steg urged companies to exercise restraint given the “extremely sensitive nature” of business with Tehran.

Germany remains Iran’s most significant Western trading partner. Despite a 16 percent decline in German exports to Iran in 2007, trade with Iran has climbed by about 14 percent since the beginning of this year. However, German companies and officials have expressed concern that as German firms have stopped doing business with Iran, Russian and Chinese firms have taken their place.

Germany came under particular fire from Israel this summer following Berlin’s approval of a $160 million deal for the German energy firm Steiner Prematechnik Gastec to sell equipment to Iran to assist its natural gas exports. A German diplomat told Arms Control Today Oct. 22 that Berlin did not have the legal means to challenge this sale.

The United States has maintained substantial sanctions against Iran for well more than a decade. U.S. law also allows the president to take punitive measures against foreign entities investing at least $20 million in Iran’s energy sector. This provision has never been used.

Moreover, both of the leading candidates in November’s presidential election have called for further efforts to sanction Iran’s energy sector. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) support measures to ban the export of refined petroleum to Iran and to encourage divestment from firms doing business with Iran’s energy industries.

Iran’s economy is highly dependent on such energy exports. According to a June International Monetary Fund report on Tehran’s economic outlook, although Iran has substantial oil and natural gas reserves, “its capacity to increase hydrocarbon production is limited…due to insufficient investment.” The report also noted that if the price of oil dropped to $75 per barrel, Iran would be subject to “unsustainable” deficit spending due to its limited access to international financial markets.

Since reaching a high of about $148 per barrel this summer, oil prices had declined to about $71 per barrel on Oct. 20.

Moscow May Withhold Air Defense System From Iran

Although Moscow has not cooperated with the West in pushing for additional sanctions, it does appear to have demonstrated a willingness to respond to concerns about its military ties with Tehran.

Amid speculation over the past year Iran might acquire an advanced variant of the S-300 air defense system from Moscow, Russia has recently repeated its claim that it would not deliver such a system to Iran. When asked whether Russia promised Israel that it would not provide the S-300 to Iran, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Andrei Nesterenko told reporters Oct. 9 that Russia “will not supply such weapons to countries located in what we call volatile regions.” He added that Moscow makes decisions regarding whether or not to sell its weapon systems “with due account of regional stability and security.”

The S-300 is a sophisticated surface-to-air missile platform designed to counter aircraft at a range of 195 kilometers and ballistic missiles at a range of up to 50 kilometers. Such a capability would make the prospect of military action against Iran by Israel or the United States riskier and more difficult.

Tehran has previously suggested that it would receive the system from Russia, but Moscow has denied that any agreement has been made to that effect. Iran’s semiofficial Fars News Agency quoted Iranian Defense Minister Mustafa Najjar Dec. 26 stating that “the S-300 air defense system will be delivered to Iran on the basis of a contract signed with Russia in the past.”

Shortly thereafter, Rosoboronexport, the federal agency that oversees Russia’s military exports, rejected Najjar’s claim. It issued a statement Dec. 28 declaring that transferring the S-300 to Iran “is not being considered and is not being discussed at this time with the Iranian side.”

The latest Russian denial comes just days after outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert visited Russia Oct. 6-7 to urge Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to refrain from providing Iran and Syria with advanced weapons technology. Olmert told his cabinet Oct. 12 that his talks with Russia were “encouraging.”

Russia’s assurance that it would not provide advanced weapons systems to unstable regions such as the Middle East may be tied to an agreement it reached with Israel to refrain from transferring arms to each other’s adversaries.

Israeli Foreign Ministry Deputy Director-General for Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States Pinhas Avivi told reporters Oct. 6 that there is a “covert agreement” that Israel would not provide offensive weapons to Georgia and that Russia would not provide offensive arms to Iran and Syria. He noted that the two countries hold permanent consultations in which they decide what weaponry may be called offensive or defensive.

Moscow has reserved the option to provide air defense systems to Iran in the past, however, declaring that such systems do not harm the strategic balance in the region. Announcing the delivery of 29 Tor M1 short-range air defense systems to Iran, Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Ivanov told reporters Jan. 16, 2007, that the weapons were “intended solely for defense” and do not “destabilize the situation in the region.” He added that “[i]f the Iranian leadership has a desire to purchase more defense weapons, we would do that.”


Quick-Reaction Force Contract Awarded

Jeff Abramson

On Sept. 11, the Department of State awarded a contract for a private force that would be able to deploy anywhere in the world within 72 hours to assess dangers posed by explosive remnants of war (ERW). The force could then be tasked to clear and destroy such hazards over a period of up to three months.

According to a Sept. 29 press release, the quick-reaction force (QRF) aligns with the State Department’s goal of dealing “with all explosive remnants of war, whether they are surplus, abandoned, hazardous, or residual conventional weapons, rather than one specific type of weapon or munitions.”

Despite strong international efforts focused on cluster munitions over the past two years, Washington has stressed the importance of taking a broader approach. In a February white paper, the State Department argued that “[t]he campaign to ban cluster munitions has endeavored to elevate a single type of munition to infamy rather than addressing the continuing need to clean up all explosive remnants of war, the vast majority of which are not cluster munitions.”

Earlier this year, more than 100 countries agreed to support the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which will open for signature in December. The convention provides guidelines for clearance and bans future use of all but a very narrow range of cluster munitions. (See ACT, July/August 2008.)

The United States and many countries that together possess the majority of the world’s cluster stockpiles have so far opted not to support the Convention on Cluster Munitions. They are instead participating in a discussion within the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). In November, CCW states-parties may reach agreement on a cluster munitions-specific protocol that includes clearance guidelines but much less restrictive prohibitions on future use of the weapons.

The CCW already has a general ERW provision (Protocol V), which delineates cleanup responsibilities and suggests best practices for explosive weapons storage, risk education, and management, but no limitations on usage. The Senate provided its advice and consent on CCW Protocol V in September. (See ACT, October 2008.)

State Department officials stressed the civilian and humanitarian nature of the QRF in a meeting with Arms Control Today Oct. 6. They described the primary advantage of the force as the ability to respond rapidly, but said it would otherwise be similar to existing programs within the department’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, which is funding and will oversee the force.

Plans to create the force were announced Jan. 16 at a CCW meeting and followed up with a solicitation of bids from private contractors that opened April 29 and closed June 13. (See ACT, March and June 2008.)

The QRF will only deploy to countries that request it. The exact size of any deployment will depend on the situation, according to the officials. As an example, the force could have been requested and sent to Georgia earlier this year after hostilities between Georgia and Russia left insecure weapon depots, unexploded cluster munitions, and other remnants of war. In other situations, the QRF may only provide an assessment, leaving host countries and other international organizations a blueprint for how to proceed.

The State Department announced the selection of DynCorp International to operate the QRF in its September press release. The contract is valued at $2.4 million per year and may be continued one year at a time for four additional years. A State Department official indicated in an e-mail Oct. 14 to Arms Control Today that the force should be operational in mid-November.


Nuclear Deals Adding Up for South Asia

Wade Boese

Key nuclear suppliers wasted little time in offering their goods to India after a September waiver of international nuclear trade restrictions against that country. France and the United States swiftly signed bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements with India, while Russia is on the verge of finalizing a similar pact. Pakistan, India’s rival, also did not stay idle, claiming a new deal for two Chinese reactors despite a multilateral rule proscribing such a transaction.

On Sept. 30, France concluded the first nuclear cooperation agreement with India following the Sept. 6 Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) decision to exempt India from a 1992 rule restricting nuclear exports to countries, like India and Pakistan, that refuse to grant international access to their entire nuclear complexes. (See ACT, October 2008.) The terms of the French-Indian accord, negotiated earlier this year, remain confidential. On the day of the signing, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh thanked the French government for its “consistent support” of the three-year Bush administration campaign to void the NSG rule on India’s behalf.

Pranab Mukherjee, India’s external affairs minister, similarly praised Bush administration officials Oct. 10 when he joined Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to sign the U.S.-Indian cooperation pact. The two sides completed negotiations in July 2007 on the so-called 123 agreement (see ACT, September 2007), but were prohibited from finalizing it until a series of actions took place, including the NSG waiver.

In an Oct. 20 address to India’s parliament, Mukherjee said the government also hoped to conclude a nuclear cooperation agreement with Russia when President Dmitry Medvedev visits India in December. A draft agreement reportedly includes a Russian commitment to supply India with at least four new reactors.

Foreign firms cannot commence nuclear trade, including nuclear reactor fuel exports, with India until it brings into force its new safeguards arrangement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). To accomplish that, India must notify the agency that it is ready to bring the safeguards into force and specify where they are to be applied. Safeguards are measures, such as inspections, intended to deter or detect the diversion of nuclear materials or technologies from permissible peaceful purposes to nuclear arms.

India, however, intends to continue operation of a nuclear weapons sector, so the new safeguards arrangement will apply exclusively to facilities that India voluntarily declares to the agency in accordance with a March 2006 plan. (See ACT, April 2006.) New Delhi, which already has safeguards arrangements for six reactors, pledged by 2014 to incrementally submit eight additional power reactors (some currently operating and some under construction) to safeguards. Moreover, India will have to put the four possible reactors from Russia under safeguards. Eight other current Indian reactors would be out of bounds to the IAEA.

On Oct. 20, President George W. Bush fulfilled a legislative requirement to certify that U.S. nuclear transfers to India would be “consistent with the obligation of the United States under the [nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT)] not in any way to assist, encourage, or induce India to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other explosive devices.” That certification enables U.S. companies to apply for nuclear export licenses to India.

Critics of the U.S.-Indian agreement have said it will aid India’s bomb efforts by enabling India to dedicate more of its scarce uranium resources to producing fuel for weapons rather than power reactors. Opponents further contended that as India steps up its nuclear activities, Pakistan will seek to do the same.

Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), who was among the minority of lawmakers voting against approval of the U.S.-Indian 123 agreement, seized on Pakistan’s announced deal for two new Chinese reactors as confirming the critics’ concerns. In an Oct. 18 press statement, Markey asserted that, “by destroying the nuclear rules for India, President Bush has weakened the rules for everyone else.” He added, “Pakistan and China will be the first, but almost certainly not the last, to take advantage of this perilously weakened system.”

Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Pakistan’s foreign minister, apparently disclosed the deal to the media as part of a recent package of agreements concluded between the Chinese and Pakistani governments. News reports stated the deal would entail the supply of two additional reactors to Pakistan’s Chashma nuclear complex, where China has previously built one reactor and is installing another. The contracts for the first two reactors were concluded before NSG members in May 2004 invited China to join the group, so China could legally fulfill the contracts. The NSG rule recently waived for India still restricts trade with Pakistan, so China appears to be acting against its group commitments.

Qin Gang, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, offered journalists Oct. 21 only vague statements on the reported deal. Without specifically confirming the transfer of two additional reactors, Qin said China would continue its civilian nuclear “cooperation” with Pakistan and contended that such cooperation “fully complies with the two countries’ respective international obligations.”

The U.S. government has not commented on the purported deal and declined to answer questions posed Oct. 20 by Arms Control Today. Bush administration officials over the past few years have maintained Pakistan should not be given the same nuclear trade privileges as India. Prior to the NSG’s offer of membership to China and two weeks after China had concluded the contract for the second reactor at Chashma, John Wolf, assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation, told a May 18, 2004, House International Relations Committee hearing that “the United States would prefer that no country provide Pakistan the benefits of peaceful nuclear cooperation.” (See ACT, June 2004.)

Whether some governments will press China on its nuclear ties to Pakistan at an upcoming November NSG meeting is unclear. One item supposedly on the agenda is discussion of criteria to limit uranium-enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing technologies, which can be used to produce nuclear fuel for reactors and the key ingredients for nuclear arms. (See ACT, June 2008.) To help pave the way for congressional approval of the U.S.-Indian nuclear cooperation agreement, Rice promised to make the pursuit of such criteria, including a draft requirement that recipients be NPT states-parties, the “highest priority” of the United States.

If adopted, that criteria would block enrichment and reprocessing exports to New Delhi. India appears to be maneuvering to prevent such a possibility. At a recent trilateral summit, India joined two NSG members, Brazil and South Africa, in issuing an Oct. 15 declaration that included a provision underscoring “the importance of ensuring that any multilateral decisions related to the nuclear fuel cycle do not undermine the inalienable right of [s]tates to pursue nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.” The NSG operates by consensus, so the adoption of any criteria pertaining to exports of nuclear fuel cycle technologies, including enrichment and reprocessing transfers, could be blocked by a single state.


Key nuclear suppliers wasted little time in offering their goods to India after a September waiver of international nuclear trade restrictions against that country. France and the United States swiftly signed bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements with India, while Russia is on the verge of finalizing a similar pact. Pakistan, India’s rival, also did not stay idle, claiming a new deal for two Chinese reactors despite a multilateral rule proscribing such a transaction. (Continue)

NNSA Reports Progress in HEU Removal

Manasi Kakatkar

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced Oct. 7 that it had completely removed U.S.-origin highly enriched uranium (HEU) from Germany as part of its Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI). With this action, the NNSA has so far removed all U.S.-origin HEU from a total of 16 countries. In 2008, material has been removed from Argentina, Portugal, and Romania.

HEU can be used to fuel nuclear reactors or serve as the fissile material for nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) estimates that 25 kilograms of weapons-grade uranium is sufficient for a nuclear weapon.

This year the NNSA, a semiautonomous agency of the Department of Energy, has also successfully converted research reactors from using HEU to using low-enriched uranium (LEU) in Argentina, South Africa, and Ukraine and at the Institute of Nuclear Physics in Uzbekistan. All told, the NNSA has converted or shut down 62 HEU research reactors in 32 countries, including the United States. By 2018, the NNSA plans to have converted 129 of 209 research reactors to LEU. The remaining 78 reactors, NNSA officials said, cannot be converted as they are used for defense purposes or have a unique design.

The countries that agree to convert HEU reactors to LEU have their fresh and spent HEU and spent LEU shipped to the United States for secure disposition. Under the GTRI, the United States will accept U.S.-origin spent fuel from foreign reactors until 2019.

The U.S.-origin nuclear fuel return program undertaken since the 1990s has successfully removed more than 1,190 kilograms of HEU fuel from 27 countries. Since 2004, it has been a part of the GTRI.

Under the GTRI, the United States and Russia work closely together to remove fresh and spent HEU fuel. In February 2005, the two countries issued a Joint Statement on Nuclear Security noting that although the security of nuclear facilities in their countries meets current requirements, each country would work to safeguard their nuclear materials and facilities better. (See ACT, March 2005.)

Russia started accepting Russian-origin HEU fuel under its Russian Research Reactor Fuel Return program in 2002. It has so far received 764.4 kilograms of HEU fuel from 11 countries, including complete removal from Bulgaria and Latvia. On Oct. 23, NNSA officials announced that Russia had received its largest return shipment of HEU to date: 154.4 kilograms of spent HEU fuel. The HEU, retrieved from Hungary in October 2008, was said by the private Nuclear Threat Initiative to be enough for six nuclear weapons. Russia down-blends all received fuel to levels where the fissile isotope uranium-235 makes up less than 20 percent of the total uranium mix, an insufficient enrichment level for a nuclear explosive device.

Speaking Oct. 6 to an international gathering of experts seeking to reduce HEU use in research and test reactors, IAEA Deputy Director-General Yury Sokolov applauded the GTRI’s achievements. Sokolov also expressed concern that “about 150 civilian and military research reactors are still using HEU, and important quantities of fresh and spent HEU fuel continues to be stored in different countries.” He called for greater global action to eliminate civilian and eventually military use of HEU, for countries to declare their HEU stockpiles, and for states to establish a schedule to down-blend this material into LEU. Sokolov said, “The major obstacles to further minimization and eventual elimination of HEU are political and economic, not technical.”


The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced Oct. 7 that it had completely removed U.S.-origin highly enriched uranium (HEU) from Germany as part of its Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI). With this action, the NNSA has so far removed all U.S.-origin HEU from a total of 16 countries. In 2008, material has been removed from Argentina, Portugal, and Romania. (Continue)

U.S. Wields Financial Sanctions Against Iran

Peter Crail

On Oct. 22, the Department of the Treasury levied financial sanctions against the Export Development Bank of Iran and three of its affiliates for their role in providing financial services to Iranian defense organizations suspected of involvement in Tehran’s nuclear and missile programs, effectively cutting them off from the U.S. financial system. Washington has increasingly relied on such financial restrictions to respond to and deter the financing of proliferation and, more broadly, to place pressure on countries of proliferation concern such as Iran. (See ACT, October 2008.)

Although the use of sanctions against entities suspected of involvement in proliferation is not new, the strategy of implementing targeted restrictions to cut off individuals and organizations from the international financial system has only been developed in recent years. Stuart Levey, undersecretary of the treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, told the Senate Finance Committee April 1 that the “key difference” between the use of financial sanctions and more traditional sanctions “is the reaction of the private sector.” He explained that financial institutions have voluntarily cut off business with sanctioned entities and individuals out of “good corporate citizenship” and in order to protect their reputation, adding that “the end result is that the private sector actions voluntarily amplify the effectiveness of government-imposed measures.”

Indeed, one example of such voluntary financial isolation of targeted entities was Banco Delta Asia, in which financial institutions quickly severed ties with the bank and North Korea following U.S. sanctions for its illicit dealings with Pyongyang. (See ACT, April 2006.) However, as the administration has increasingly used such measures against Iran, it is not yet clear that these sanctions are having the desired impact in isolating Iranian entities from the international financial system and limiting Iran’s trade.

Executive Order 13382 Emerges as a Broad Tool

Until the last several years, these types of financial sanctions were generally used to target traditional financially oriented illicit activities, such as money laundering. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the United States increasingly began to employ such measures in response to national security concerns, including proliferation. Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Robert Kimmitt stated during a May 2007 speech to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy that since the September 2001 attacks, the roles of the Treasury Department and other finance ministries “have evolved…and the world of finance now plays a critical role in combating international security threats.”

The most common financial sanctions tool the United States has used to address proliferation is Executive Order 13382, issued by President George W. Bush in June 2005. Under the order, “all property and interests in property” of entities targeted for sanctions that are held by the United States or controlled by U.S. citizens are “blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt.” It also prohibits U.S. entities from carrying out any transactions with sanctioned persons and organizations.

The order provides broad authority to target a wide range of actors for direct or indirect participation in suspected proliferation activities. It grants authority not only to sanction entities that have engaged in the proliferation of nonconventional weapons, related materials, or the means to deliver them, but also to place financial restrictions against entities that are either owned or wholly controlled by sanctioned entities or that “attempted to provide, financial, material, technological or other support” for them. Therefore, once sanctions are placed on a given entity, other persons or organizations that do business with it are at risk of similar penalties.

In addition to providing such broad authority, U.S. officials have suggested that the financial sanctions provide a more streamlined mechanism to respond to proliferators. In a Sept. 19 e-mail to Arms Control Today, a former Department of State official wrote that executive order sanctions were procedurally easier to use than legislatively authorized sanctions “insofar as they didn’t involve the painful process of internal governmental argumentation and second-guessing about whether a legal standard set by Congress had been met.”

Although such sanctions may be easier to impose than congressionally mandated measures, there are interagency considerations to take into account. Matthew Levitt, former deputy assistant secretary of the treasury for intelligence and analysis, stated during a November 2007 address to the Carnegie Council that “there are all kinds of interagency equities” in the process of determining whether to sanction an entity. He noted that even when relevant U.S. agencies agree that a certain target meets the criteria for sanctions, diplomatic considerations or concerns about revealing intelligence sources and methods may lead to a sanction not being applied.

United States Builds List of Targets

At the time the order was issued in 2005, the Treasury Department immediately placed financial restrictions against eight organizations in Iran, North Korea, and Syria. Washington currently maintains sanctions under Executive Order 13382 against 114 individuals and organizations, including engineering firms, defense industries, banks, and trading companies. Nearly all of these entities are located in or controlled by firms based in China, Iran, North Korea, and Syria or are nationals of those countries.

Although the United States continues to sanction Russian firms for suspected contributions to Iran’s nonconventional weapons programs, it has not applied sanctions under Executive Order 13382 against any Russian entity.

Entities targeted under Executive Order 13382 remain subject to sanctions until the secretary of the treasury, in consultation with the secretary of state, determines that the sanctions may be lifted.

U.S. officials have argued that the success of such sanctions should not necessarily be measured in the amount of assets frozen, but rather the reaction by financial institutions to the sanctioned entities. In the case of Banco Delta Asia, for example, the value of the North Korean assets frozen only amounted to about $25 million. Nonetheless, it has been characterized as a success because banks shied away from North Korean business.

Even after the Banco Delta Asia funds were returned in 2007, Treasury officials continue to tout the success financial sanctions have had in isolating North Korea from the international financial system. Levey stated April 1 that “banks in China, Japan, Vietnam, Mongolia, Singapore, and across Europe decided that the risks associated with this business far outweighed any benefit.”

Iran appears to present a greater challenge due to its deeper integration into the international financial system. Although long-standing U.S. sanctions have largely cut off Iran from U.S. financial markets, Iran maintains a number of state-owned banks with branches in several countries, including in Europe, and Iranian entities have access to many key foreign financial institutions.

The United States has placed financial restrictions on 92 Iranian entities under Executive Order 13382. In an Oct. 23 e-mail to Arms Control Today, David Asher, who formerly led the State Department’s Illicit Activities Initiative targeting North Korea’s illegal financial dealings, said that the financial sanctions against Iran were having a dramatic effect, noting the number of banks that have curtailed business with Iran. In the last several years, major international financial institutions such as Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, and HSBC have curtailed or halted their business with Iran. Asher asserted that because proliferators still rely on the global trading system, the sanctions “make life much harder for the proliferator or procurement agent,” regardless of whether they have had a persuasive effect on the regime itself.

The sanctions aimed at Iranian banks in particular appeared to have had a broader impact, according to an Aug. 14 International Monetary Fund report regarding Iran’s economy. The report observed that some of Iran’s state-owned banks were undercapitalized, stating that “UN and U.S. sanctions against certain Iranian institutions have created difficulties for trade financing and payments, discouraged foreign investment, and adversely affected” their profitability. Washington has placed nonproliferation sanctions on three of Iran’s largest banks: Bank Mellat, Bank Melli, and Bank Sepah. It has also targeted other banks for counterterrorism purposes.

In spite of this apparent impact, U.S. officials have recognized that such measures have to be adopted on a broad basis in order to severely limit access to financial markets by proliferators.

Making Financial Sanctions Multilateral

Since 2006, Treasury officials have engaged in an international campaign to convince foreign governments and financial institutions of the risks of engaging in financial transactions with entities that are suspected of financing proliferation, as well as other illicit activities such as terrorism. This outreach has been aimed at U.S. allies and other key states, such as China and Russia. In his April 1 testimony, Levey asserted that even governments that are not close political allies “share a common interest with us in keeping their financial sectors untainted by illicit conduct.”

In addition to the U.S. outreach effort, some multilateral bodies have considered how to use financial sanctions to address proliferation. For example, a June report by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental body designed to address illicit financing internationally, describes in detail the concerns regarding proliferation financing and identifies three particular uses for employing targeted financial sanctions against proliferation. These included limiting access to the global financial system by proliferators and depriving them of their assets, disrupting proliferation networks through the public exposure of involved persons and entities, and identifying proliferators, front companies, and other associates so that financial institutions may be able to detect and prevent proliferation financing.

Perhaps the clearest incorporation of financial sanctions in a multilateral forum is a series of UN Security Council resolutions in response to Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. Since December 2006, the council has adopted three resolutions requiring that all states freeze the assets of 75 individuals and firms related to Iran’s nonconventional weapons programs, including Bank Sepah, Iran’s fifth-largest bank. Resolution 1718, adopted in October 2006, called on states to enact similar restrictions on entities involved in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, but the Security Council has not targeted any entities for such sanctions.

The UN sanctions have provided a means for ensuring that financial sanctions are applied on a broader basis. Although many countries have not yet taken such steps, the UN sanctions have been incorporated in EU legislation and have been implemented by key U.S. allies, such as Australia and Japan.

In spite of these multilateral efforts, the goal of broadening financial restrictions against Iran beyond the U.S. financial system have met some limitations. For example, Treasury Department Deputy Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes Daniel Glaser told two House subcommittees April 17 that although banks have increasingly halted their business with Iran conducted in dollars, they have continued to carry out business in other currencies. Tehran appears to have sought to take advantage of such a loophole by reducing its reliance on dollars. In December 2006, Iranian government spokesperson Gholam Hossein Elham declared that Iran was shifting its foreign currency reserves out of dollars and relying on euros for foreign exchange transactions.

As a result of increasing pressure from Europe, Iran has taken further steps since then to move its assets from European to Asian banks and converting other assets to gold and shares. (See ACT, July/August 2008.)

Other limitations relate to the lack of legal authorities for many other countries to impose the same types of financial sanctions that Washington can authorize under Executive Order 13382. A British diplomat told Arms Control Today in June that the European Union does not have the same legal authorities to levy financial sanctions as the United States. (See ACT, July/August 2008.) The EU has been largely dependent on UN resolutions to adopt a common sanctions strategy, although it has taken some steps to go beyond the sanctions required by the Security Council.

Beyond this reliance on UN measures, a German diplomat told Arms Control Today Oct. 22 that one of the key difficulties faced by European countries in applying financial sanctions is acquiring sufficient evidence that the entity is directly linked to proliferation. The diplomat pointed to the effort by Bank Melli, Iran’s largest bank, to seek legal action against the EU in July.

The EU sanctioned Bank Melli in June for its suspected involvement in proliferation financing by Iran, forcing it to close its offices in Hamburg, London, and Paris. (See ACT, July/August 2008.) A subsidiary of the bank filed a lawsuit against the EU in a London court in July, claiming that there was no legal basis for the sanctions. That court rejected the lawsuit, claiming that it must be decided by an EU court.

Moreover, even when such sanctions have increased the cost of doing business with Iran, that cost may not have risen to a level that will significantly deter trade. In the first half of the year, the volume of German trade with Iran has increased by about 14 percent, after a 16 percent decline in 2007. Germany maintains that one of the key factors behind this increase is the higher cost of doing business with Iran. This suggests, however, that many firms are willing to accept higher costs to keep their access to Iranian markets.


New Global Nuclear Security Institute Formed

Daniel Arnaudo

On Sept. 29, former Senator Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), the co-chairman of the private Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), announced the creation of the World Institute for Nuclear Security (WINS), which would bring together nuclear technicians, security personnel, governments, and international organizations to foster better security practices at nuclear facilities worldwide.

The NTI and the Department of Energy have each committed $3 million to the organization, while the government of Norway has pledged $100,000 to begin to bring personnel from developing countries into the program. The NTI grant comes in large part from funds supplied by a private foundation headed by former Secretary of Commerce Peter G. Peterson.

In order to better coordinate its activities with those of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), WINS will be based in Vienna. IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei offered his endorsement of the new organization in a Sept. 29 NTI press release: “As the full support of nuclear operators is key to effective nuclear security, I am confident that establishing a forum to help share and promote best practices amongst them will improve nuclear security.” In the same remarks, he also expressed confidence that WINS would “contribute to and complement” the IAEA’s work to establish international norms and guidelines for a global nuclear security regime.

The organization will be headed by Roger Howsley, previously the director for security, safeguards and international affairs at British Nuclear Fuels, the now defunct organization that once operated the United Kingdom’s nuclear plants. Howsley will report to an international board of directors and a membership made up of the operators and other officials in the governments and nuclear security structures of IAEA member states.

The model for WINS is the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO), which the private sector created in the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident to improve nuclear safety. In his remarks announcing the creation of WINS, Nunn said that the world could not afford a “security Chernobyl” and that the new organization would focus on securing nuclear installations as WANO has focused on ensuring their safe operations.

Members will share information about best practices for personnel at nuclear facilities, such as methods of preventing sophisticated attacks and techniques for keeping staff vigilant and coordinated for optimum security at vulnerable sites.

At first, WINS will work to improve security practices at sites that house plutonium and highly enriched uranium, which can be used to provide fuel for nuclear power plants and as fissile material in nuclear weapons. The institute will then expand to other radiological and civilian nuclear sites worldwide. If WINS develops according to its goals, within the next two to five years its backers expect its $6 million annual budget to rise to roughly $8 million to support an expanded association of operators.


Pages

Subscribe to RSS - November 2008