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"Though we have acheived progress, our work is not over. That is why I support the mission of the Arms Control Association. It is, quite simply, the most effective and important organization working in the field today." 

– Larry Weiler
Former U.S.-Russian arms control negotiator
August 7, 2018
March 2009
Edition Date: 
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Cover Image: 

Afghan Small Arms Records Incomplete

Jeff Abramson

Several recent U.S. government reports identified significant difficulties in tracking U.S. small arms and light weapons meant for Afghan national forces and an improvement in monitoring such weapons meant for Iraq.

According to a January study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the United States did not maintain complete records for 87,000 of 242,000 U.S.-procured weapons for the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). The study also found records to be unreliable for 135,000 weapons obtained from 21 other countries for the ANSF.

The report noted that positive corrective actions have been taken recently but that "inadequate U.S. and ANSF staffing at the central depots along with poor security and persistent management challenges have contributed to the vulnerability of stored weapons to theft or misuse."

The report came less than 18 months after a July 2007 GAO study found that the Department of Defense could not fully account for at least 190,000 weapons issued to Iraqi forces in 2004 and 2005. (See ACT, September 2007.) That and other reports, combined with concerns that U.S.-supplied weapons might be used against U.S. forces, contributed to the passage of a congressional mandate for new tracking requirements for Iraq-bound weapons. (See ACT, January/February 2008.)

A December 2008 report by the Defense Department's inspector general found that significant improvements had been made in Iraq but identified continuing problems, including inadequate accounting for nearly 60,000 weapons seized from insurgents and stored at depots in the country.

Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform national security and foreign affairs subcommittee, noted during a subcommittee hearing Feb. 12 that "what GAO uncovered is disturbing." In highlighting congressional action in regard to weapons meant for Iraqi forces, he said, "[o]ur hope was that lessons learned in that conflict would inform policies in other conflicts."

As the Obama administration calls for a reduction of forces in Iraq and an increase in Afghanistan, operations in that country are bound to draw greater scrutiny. In promising "sustained and constructive oversight," Tierney raised the possibility of U.S. forces dying "at the hands of an insurgent using a weapon purchased by U.S. taxpayers" and said that "this is just too important not to get right."

Several recent U.S. government reports identified significant difficulties in tracking U.S. small arms and light weapons meant for Afghan national forces and an improvement in monitoring such weapons meant for Iraq.

According to a January study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the United States did not maintain complete records for 87,000 of 242,000 U.S.-procured weapons for the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). The study also found records to be unreliable for 135,000 weapons obtained from 21 other countries for the ANSF. (Continue)

IAEA: Syrian Reactor Explanation Suspect

Peter Crail

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued a report Feb. 19 indicating that Syria has failed to provide adequate information regarding a destroyed facility the West suspects was once a clandestine nuclear reactor. The agency stated that a Feb. 17 letter it received from Syria in response to questions regarding the site and potentially related locations and activities "did not address most of the questions raised in the agency's communications." In addition, Damascus has only allowed the agency to carry out a single visit to the site of the destroyed facility and has not provided the IAEA with access to additional sites as requested.

Israel destroyed the facility, located at a site called Dair al Zour, in a September 2007 airstrike. In April 2008, U.S. intelligence agencies alleged that the facility had been a nuclear reactor under construction with North Korean assistance and that the reactor was modeled on North Korea's Yongbyon reactor, which Pyongyang used to produce plutonium for its nuclear weapons.

The IAEA has called on Israel and other countries to share any information on the destroyed facility, including satellite imagery. Washington briefed the agency in April 2008 on its assessment that the destroyed facility was a nuclear reactor.

Following the Israeli airstrike, Syria razed the site and has since constructed another facility in its place. Damascus claims that the original facility and the new one are military installations that are not nuclear related.

During the agency's initial visit in June 2008, it discovered microscopic uranium particles at the site of the destroyed facility. Although the small size of the particles made extensive analysis difficult, the IAEA indicated that the particles consisted of chemically processed uranium, raising concerns that the site had some nuclear purpose. In regard to the uranium particles, a senior UN official said in November, "[T]hat kind of material should not be there." (See ACT, December 2008.)

The recent report stated that the agency found additional particles as a result of continued analysis of samples from its June 2008 visit. The report also noted that the uranium is "of a type not included in Syria's declared inventory of nuclear material." Syria maintains a Chinese-built miniature research reactor under IAEA safeguards and has conducted small-scale experiments to extract uranium from phosphates.

The potential origin and use of the uranium that was the source of the particles remains unclear. A senior UN official explained during a Feb. 19 background briefing that "the chemical composition and some characteristics could be consistent with uranium used in a nuclear reactor" but further analysis is still needed. Moreover, the official noted that the particles discovered were in the form of uranium oxide, rather than the metallic uranium form used in North Korea's Yongbyon reactor, but left open the possibility that the uranium could have been oxidized as a result of the Israeli airstrike.

Syria claimed that the uranium particles originated from the Israeli munitions used to destroy the facility. The IAEA assessed in its February report, however, that "there is a low probability that the uranium was introduced by the use of missiles." A senior UN official said in November that no depleted uranium particles had been found. (See ACT, December 2008.) Uranium used in munitions is generally in the form of depleted uranium due to its high density. Israel stated in a Dec. 24, 2008, letter to the agency that it "could not have been the source of the uranium particles found on the site of the nuclear reactor."

In addition to the uranium particles discovered in the agency's environmental sampling analysis, a senior UN official said Feb. 19 that some graphite particles were found at the site. The presence of graphite may be significant because North Korea's Yongbyon reactor uses graphite to increase the number of fission reactions in the reactor.

The official noted that because the agency is still analyzing the samples to determine whether the graphite would be of a type used in a reactor, this information was not included in the report.

In order to carry out further analysis of remnants of the facility, the agency has requested that Syria provide access once again to the site and to salvaged equipment and debris from the destroyed facility.

In addition to the analysis carried out at the Dair al Zour site, the agency is also examining Syrian procurement activities that could be consistent with the construction of a nuclear reactor. A senior UN official Feb. 19 said that Syria has acknowledged these procurement efforts but claims that they were not nuclear related.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued a report Feb. 19 indicating that Syria has failed to provide adequate information regarding a destroyed facility the West suspects was once a clandestine nuclear reactor. The agency stated that a Feb. 17 letter it received from Syria in response to questions regarding the site and potentially related locations and activities "did not address most of the questions raised in the agency's communications." In addition, Damascus has only allowed the agency to carry out a single visit to the site of the destroyed facility and has not provided the IAEA with access to additional sites as requested. (Continue)

U.S., UAE Sign Nuclear Cooperation Pact

Miles A. Pomper

In one of her final acts in office, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Jan. 15 signed a nuclear cooperation agreement between the United States and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that includes a landmark nonproliferation provision. The Obama administration now must decide whether to press forward with the agreement amid concerns in Congress that the pact will provide Iran with easier access to nuclear technology.

The agreement represents the first in what is expected to be a series of U.S. nuclear cooperation agreements with Middle Eastern states. Several countries in the region have demonstrated a newfound interest in nuclear power, fueling concern that they could be developing peaceful nuclear technologies as a stepping-stone to nuclear weapons. There have also been concerns that placing nuclear materials in the volatile region would provide terrorists with easier access to dangerous nuclear materials. (See ACT, May 2008.)

The agreement is groundbreaking in several ways. With its economy demanding ever increasing amounts of energy and desalination capability, the UAE has plans to build as many as 10 nuclear reactors, making it the first Middle Eastern country with a substantial fleet of nuclear power reactors. The agreement also includes a key provision that would terminate cooperation if the UAE failed to fulfill its commitment not to engage in the sensitive nuclear technologies of uranium enrichment or spent fuel reprocessing, a pledge it has vowed to enshrine in law. These technologies can provide fuel for nuclear reactors or fissile material for nuclear weapons.

"We are confident that the agreement highlights the transparency of the civilian nuclear energy program the UAE is embarking on and should be lauded as the gold standard of nuclear cooperation agreements," Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE's ambassador to the United States, said Dec. 15.

In a further effort to prove its nonproliferation credentials, the UAE Feb. 2 approved an additional protocol to its comprehensive safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). IAEA safeguards are intended to prevent nuclear materials and technologies from being diverted from peaceful to military uses. States that approve versions of the IAEA's 1997 Model Additional Protocol agree to give agency inspectors greater authority to ensure that no undeclared nuclear activities are taking place. The IAEA Board of Governors must approve the agreements before they can enter into force.

Although the Obama administration has made no final formal policy decision on whether to move forward with the agreement, some influential players have already indicated their support.

Jon Wolfsthal, who will be advising Vice President Joe Biden on nonproliferation issues, told Bloomberg Feb. 3 that "[w]e should not only support the UAE deal, but it could be used as a model" for other countries to pursue nuclear power without raising weapons proliferation concerns.

Likewise, House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman (D-Calif.) in a Jan. 14 statement lauded the enrichment and reprocessing provision as "a significant advance for nonproliferation policy and a model for future nuclear cooperation agreements."

Berman also noted that he "and many other members of Congress place a very high priority on the international effort to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability" and would be seeing how well the agreement affects that goal.

Other members of Congress have expressed similar concerns about the deal. If the Obama administration submits the agreement to Congress, lawmakers will then have 90 legislative days to approve legislation blocking the agreement, or it will move forward.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced legislation Jan. 9 that would block the deal unless the UAE can show that it has stiffened its export control regime, cracked down on terrorist financing, and not engaged in banned trade with Iran for at least a year. Banned items include those prohibited under UN Security Council sanctions, U.S. law, and various international arms control agreements governing trade in missiles and nuclear, chemical, biological, and conventional weapons and materials.

Congress has long expressed concerns that Iran has used UAE ports to evade international restrictions by transshipping goods from there. The nuclear proliferation network of Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan (see page 51) relied on the UAE as a key hub in assisting clandestine uranium-enrichment programs in Iran and Libya.

NOTE: The article was corrected online March 9 and 11, 2009. It originally indicated that the UAE had concluded a comprehensive safeguards agreement on Feb. 2, when such an agreement had been in effect since 2003, albeit limited by a small quantities protocol.

Iran Makes First Successful Space Launch

Peter Crail

Iran announced Feb. 3 that it carried out its first successful launch of a satellite into orbit. The launch raised international concerns regarding the progress Iran has made in its ballistic missile program, in particular the possibly that Iran may develop an ICBM in the future.

The state-run Iranian press agency PressTV said Feb. 3 that Iran's two-stage space-launch vehicle, named Safir-2 ("ambassador" in Farsi), placed a small satellite in orbit aimed at "gathering information and testing equipment."

Iranian officials declared last year that Tehran intended to launch a satellite by the end of the current Iranian calendar year, which concludes in March. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) confirmed the day of the announcement that Iran placed a satellite in orbit.

Iran unsuccessfully tested its first space-launch vehicle, also named Safir, in August 2008. (See ACT, September 2008.)

The Feb. 3 space launch appears to have demonstrated Iran's improved proficiency with several types of rocket subsystems as well as the increasing sophistication of the technology it employs.

For example, the Safir-2 liftoff was the first known successful launch of any Iranian multistaged system, suggesting that Tehran may be increasingly capable of employing multistaged missiles in the near future. Recent tests of Iran's two-staged missiles have not been successful. (See ACT, January/February 2008.)

Staging allows multiple rocket engines to be stacked on top of one another to increase the range and carrying capacity of the rocket system. It is one of the critical technologies needed for long-range missiles.

In addition to Iran's further development of rocket staging, it also appears to have acquired a more sophisticated rocket propellant capability.

At the time of the August 2008 Safir test, some technical assessments suggested that the rocket would not have enough power to place a satellite in orbit. (See ACT, September 2008.) Former UN weapons inspector Geoffrey Forden told Arms Control Today Feb. 4 that it is difficult to see how even an "incrementally improved" two-staged missile based on "Scud-type technology" could have placed a satellite in orbit. He argued that it "would definitely have to have a much improved thrust, perhaps even using cryogenic fuels such as liquid oxygen."

The Soviet Union originally developed the short-range Scud missile during the 1950s. A large number of countries acquired these types of missiles throughout the Cold War and used them as the basis to develop more-advanced missile systems.

Uzi Rubin, former director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization, made an assessment similar to Forden's Feb. 21 in The Wall Street Journal. He argued that the Safir-2's propulsion system "is based on the more modern technology of storable liquid propellants," adding that such technology makes it "launch-ready at any moment-a significant advantage for military missiles."

Rubin also noted that the technologies that Iran has been demonstrating are internationally proscribed and that "none of those technologies should have been available to Iran."

Since December 2006, the UN Security Council has adopted three sanctions resolutions prohibiting states from providing Iran with technologies that could be used to benefit its nuclear and missile programs. Exports of the missile-related technologies proscribed by the resolutions have also been controlled since 1987 by the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), a group that now includes 34 states that manufacture and trade in such goods.

Despite its progress, Iran has not yet demonstrated some technologies needed to field an ICBM, particularly one capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

Although Iran was able to attain an increase in engine power with the Safir-2, the rocket was only capable of carrying a small satellite reportedly weighing about 25 kilograms. The MTCR considers missiles capable of carrying at least 500 kilograms to be nuclear capable.

Iran is also not believed to have developed a re-entry vehicle capable of carrying a nuclear-sized payload although U.S. officials have asserted that materials acquired from Iranian technicians demonstrate that Iran has been working on re-entry vehicle designs. A February 2008 International Atomic Energy Agency report stated that the re-entry design contained in these materials was "quite likely to be able to accommodate a nuclear device." (See ACT, March 2008.)

Responding to the Safir-2 launch, the United States expressed concern that it would be used to advance Iran's missile capabilities. Pentagon spokesperson Geoff Morrell told reporters Feb. 3 that "the technology that is used to get this satellite into orbit...is one that could also be used to propel long-range ballistic missiles."

French Foreign Ministry spokesperson Eric Chevallier expressed similar concerns, stating Feb. 4, "We can't but link this to the very serious concerns about the development of military nuclear capability."

Iran's space launch vehicle is closely related to its missile program. The first stage of the Safir-2 is a slightly modified version of its medium-range Shahab-3 missile. (See ACT, September 2008.)

 

Iran announced Feb. 3 that it carried out its first successful launch of a satellite into orbit. The launch raised international concerns regarding the progress Iran has made in its ballistic missile program, in particular the possibly that Iran may develop an ICBM in the future. (Continue)

Iran Still Rebuffs IAEA Requests

Peter Crail

Iran continues to refuse to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regarding key aspects of its current and previous nuclear activities, according to a Feb. 19 report by the agency. Tehran has also produced a significant stockpile of low-enriched uranium (LEU) hexafluoride and has continued to expand its uranium-enrichment operations, contrary to UN Security Council demands requiring that Iran suspend its enrichment activities, the construction of its heavy-water reactor, and the production of fuel for that reactor.

Iran Remains Uncooperative

Since the August 2007 conclusion of a work plan with Iran to resolve outstanding questions related to its previous nuclear activities, the IAEA has sought to clarify work that Iran is alleged to have conducted that the agency says constitutes "possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program." Although Iran has provided answers to most of the IAEA's other questions, it has continued to declare that allegations of work related to nuclear weapons are false and that it does not need to cooperate further in the agency's inquiries. (See ACT, March 2008.)

The allegations of possible nuclear weapons activities stem largely from studies on nuclear weapons development the United States and others have provided to the agency that Western intelligence agencies claim once belonged to Iranian nuclear officials. The studies relate to activities such as high-explosives testing, mounting a possible nuclear warhead on a missile, and clandestine efforts to produce nuclear material. Iran has acknowledged that some of the information in the studies is factual but denies any work related to nuclear weapons.

The February report indicated that Iran continues to refuse access to individuals, locations, and documentation that may be relevant to the possible weapon activities. During a Feb. 17 diplomatic forum in Paris, IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei criticized Iran for refusing to address the agency's questions, stating that "Iran right now is not providing any access or any clarification with regards to those studies or the whole possible military dimension."

In addition to refusing to provide clarification of its past nuclear activities, Iran has not reinstituted elements of its safeguards agreement providing the IAEA with design information and access to nuclear facilities under construction. In particular, Iran has refused to provide the agency with information regarding its heavy-water reactor under construction at Arak. When completed, the reactor is estimated to be capable of producing about 9 kilograms of plutonium each year, enough for up to two nuclear weapons.

Iran suspended its implementation of part of its safeguards agreement, Code 3.1, in March 2007 in response to the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1747, which placed a second set of sanctions on Iran for failing to suspend its sensitive nuclear activities, including the construction of the Arak reactor.

According to the recent report, the lack of IAEA access to the reactor "could adversely impact the agency's ability to carry out effective safeguards at that facility." A senior UN official said Sept. 15, 2008, that the reactor is likely to be completed in 2011 and will come on line in 2013. (See ACT, October 2008.) The February report indicated that Iran has begun producing uranium fuel rods for this reactor at a fuel manufacturing plant at Isfahan.

A senior UN official said during a Feb. 19 background briefing that early access to the reactor is necessary to ensure that there is "no possible clandestine exit" built into the reactor allowing the diversion of plutonium and to determine the necessary safeguards mechanisms for the facility.

In addition, Iran has completed the containment dome structure over the reactor, prohibiting the agency from continuing to monitor construction inside the reactor using satellite imagery.

Iran Produced Significant LEU Stockpile

The report also indicated that, since February 2007, Iran has produced about 1,010 kilograms of LEU hexafluoride at its commercial-scale enrichment plant at Natanz. This material consists of an enrichment level of 3.49 percent uranium-235 (U-235). Nuclear fuel for light-water reactors generally consists of uranium enriched to about 4 percent U-235 while nuclear weapons require enrichment levels of 90 percent or higher.

When asked during a Feb. 19 background briefing whether this material is enough for a nuclear weapon if enriched further, a senior UN official stated that there is "theoretically enough" of the U-235 isotope in the material for a "significant quantity" of highly enriched uranium (HEU). The IAEA considers 25 kilograms of HEU to be a significant quantity, which is a general measure of the amount of material needed for a single weapon. Some experts maintain that a weapon could be fashioned with less HEU.

The amount of LEU Iran has produced is larger than originally expected due to an accounting error by Iran prior to the IAEA's physical inventory verification carried out in November 2008. Although Iran estimated that it had produced a total of 630 kilograms of LEU between February 2007 and November 2008, the IAEA concluded that Iran produced 839 kilograms in that period. Iran estimated that it produced an additional 171 kilograms of LEU between November 2008 and the end of January.

A senior UN official described the accounting error Feb. 19 as normal for the start-up of such a facility and explained that Iran miscalculated the ratio of the product output from its centrifuges and the waste output. The official said that there was little risk of diversion as both the LEU product and waste output were kept under agency containment and surveillance. The official added that the agency is working with Iran in order to improve its accounting procedures in the future.

Iran has also continued to expand its enrichment efforts. According to the IAEA report, Iran has nearly completed a second 18-cascade unit at its Natanz plant, having installed 15 of those 18 centrifuge cascades. Each cascade consists of 164 centrifuges. This gives Iran a total of 33 cascades installed at the facility, or about 5,400 centrifuges.

Iran is also continuing to carry out preparations to install centrifuges at three additional units, which will also contain about 18 cascades each.

In spite of the continued installation of centrifuge cascades, Iran only began to operate one additional cascade with uranium hexafluoride feedstock between August 2008 and the end of January, bringing the number of total operating cascades to 24. A senior UN official said Feb. 19 that this represented "a very slow increase" in the number of machines running with the feedstock. Remarking on the possible rationale for the slower growth of enrichment work, ElBaradei told reporters Feb. 17 that the assessment of the agency "is that it's a political decision."

In addition to its commercial-scale facility, Iran has continued to test its more advanced centrifuge designs at a pilot enrichment facility, also located at Natanz. Two of the designs being tested at this facility, the IR-2 and IR-3, are believed to be capable of enriching uranium 150 percent faster than the IR-1 machines being used at the commercial-scale plant. (See ACT, November 2007.) A senior UN official said Feb. 19 that Iran has not informed the agency of any intention to begin installing these centrifuges in large numbers at the commercial-scale facility.

Iran continues to refuse to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regarding key aspects of its current and previous nuclear activities, according to a Feb. 19 report by the agency. Tehran has also produced a significant stockpile of low-enriched uranium (LEU) hexafluoride and has continued to expand its uranium-enrichment operations, contrary to UN Security Council demands requiring that Iran suspend its enrichment activities, the construction of its heavy-water reactor, and the production of fuel for that reactor. (Continue)

NNSA Completes B61 Refurbishment

Scott Miller

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced that it had completed on Jan. 9 its eight-year effort to refurbish the B61-7 and B61-11 strategic nuclear bombs.

The B61-7 and B61-11 are gravity bombs, deliverable by B-52H or B-2A strategic bombers, with varying explosive yields up to 360 kilotons. The steel-encased B61-11 was designed to have earth-penetrating, or bunker busting, capabilities of up to six meters. According to a report published in 2007 by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the U.S. stockpile contains an estimated 215 operational B61-7 bombs and 20 operational B61-11 bombs. The number of actively deployed B61-7s is expected to be reduced to 120 by 2012.

Since 1992, when the United States began observing a moratorium on nuclear testing, policymakers have debated how best to ensure the safety and reliability of the nuclear arsenal. In 1993 Congress introduced the Stockpile Stewardship Program in order to evaluate and address age-related effects on nuclear weapons. In response to this congressional mandate, the NNSA created the Life Extension Program (LEP). Under this program, the NNSA is able to extend the life of its existing nuclear weapons an additional 20 or 30 years without designing new weapons systems.

In contrast, the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program would permit the design of new warheads and weapon systems. The Bush administration supported the RRW initiative, but Congress has not funded the controversial program for the past two years, preventing the NNSA from proceeding with its new WR1 warhead design. (See ACT, December 2008.)

Work on B61 refurbishment began in 2000 as part of the NNSA's LEP. The B61 presents unique challenges not only because of its complex engineering but also because it is among the oldest designs in the U.S. nuclear arsenal. (See ACT, December 2008.) The original B61-1was introduced in 1969, and most of the B61s in the arsenal were produced during the 1960s and 1970s.

In February, the NNSA announced that the first refurbished W76 warhead had entered the nuclear stockpile after a 10-year effort to extend its life. The W76 was added to the U.S. arsenal in 1978.

Refurbishments often involve repairing or replacing parts that have deteriorated over time. The renovation of the B61 has involved overhauling the canned subassembly, which is the steel housing for the warhead secondary, as well as replacing various supports and cables. The first refurbished B61s were delivered in 2006 despite some early problems in the program. In a Department of Energy audit report released in August 2005, investigators reported several issues, including technical problems, testing delays, and unsatisfactory program management. According to the report, the NNSA was receptive to the Energy Department's recommendations and sought to complete the refurbishment on time.

The January announcement reported that final refurbishments were completed one year early. In the NNSA press release, Deputy Administrator for Defense Robert Smolen boasted that "[t]his is the culmination of an ambitious continuing effort which helped to ensure that the nation's aging nuclear weapons stockpile continues to be reliable."

U.S. Arms Notifications Spike in 2008

Jeff Abramson

Notifications made to Congress in 2008 of requested U.S. arms sales reached their highest monetary level in more than a decade. Countries in the Middle East accounted for more than half of the $75 billion in government-to-government requests, which also included controversial arrangements with Taiwan. Notifications do not always result in deliveries, and experts warn against expecting the high level of possible deals to continue.

By law, Congress is notified when the Department of Defense proposes government-to-government foreign military sales (FMS) of major defense items, articles, and services, as well as construction and design projects if the value of those sales reach minimum thresholds. In 2008 the Defense Department informed Congress of potential conventional arms transfer agreements with 25 countries, Taiwan, and an international consortium made up of NATO allies together with Sweden and Finland.

The total potential value of all deals if they were to be completed is estimated to be more than $75 billion, up from $39 billion in 2007 and $37 billion in 2006, and significantly higher than the $14 billion average from 1997 to 2005.

No notifications have been made in 2009, and despite the recent increases, experts caution against seeing a trend in the recent proposal levels. In a Feb. 18 e-mail to Arms Control Today, a congressional source said that the high levels in 2008 stemmed from the confluence of several major initiatives that the Bush administration wanted to see move forward before the end of its tenure.

Israel's request to purchase as many 75 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft and associated equipment over the next 15 years was the single largest request, with a projected maximum value of $15.2 billion. The Joint Strike Fighter program, which has international partners and investors, is designed to provide the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marines and select U.S. allies with a state-of-the-art aircraft but has experienced cost increases and delays. Israel's purchase of the fighters, if realized, would constitute a significant investment in the program.

Israel, criticized for its recent military actions in Gaza, also identified interest in thousands of small-diameter bombs and tens of thousands of anti-tank weapons and training rockets.

Iraq's $18.7 billion in possible purchases, up from $4.5 billion in 2007 and $2.3 billion in 2006, included a wide array of military items, as well as technical and construction assistance. Combat-oriented equipment listed in the notifications included as many as 280 M1A1 tanks, 392 light armored vehicles, 50 armed helicopters, 200 Hellfire missiles, 20 coastal patrol boats, and more than 100,000 assault rifles. A congressional source told Arms Control Today Feb. 13 that these notifications were consistent with efforts to help Iraq develop its internal security capabilities.

Within the Middle East, notifications involving members of the Gulf Security Dialogue (GSD) accounted for nearly $13 billion in potential sales. The GSD is a security cooperation mechanism between the United States and six Persian Gulf states: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Arms sales to GSD members have been controversial (see ACT, September 2007), and an October 2008 Congressional Research Service report predicts that they will remain that way due to a long-standing U.S. policy of maintaining Israel's "qualitative military edge" over its neighbors.

In 2008, notified sales to the UAE were valued at just more than $9 billion. The UAE requests listed many missile and anti-missile systems, included the first potential foreign sale of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) fire units. The THAAD system is designed to counter missiles at altitudes as high as 150 kilometers, offering a response to concerns about Iran's ballistic missile capabilities.

FMS notifications included the possible sale of 900 satellite-guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs) to Saudi Arabia. In January 2008, a House resolution co-sponsored by 104 members of Congress was introduced to block the JDAM sale to Saudi Arabia but ultimately was not acted on by the House Foreign Affairs Committee within the required review period. Once notified, Congress has 15-30 days, depending on the intended purchaser, to block a sale by joint resolution of disapproval, but no sales have ever been blocked by this method. Congress also can pass legislation to stop or modify sales at any time up to the point of delivery.

Taiwan's potential $6.4 billion in foreign military sales, nearly twice the 2007 value of $3.7 billion, have also been controversial. The 2008 notifications included hundreds of Patriot missiles, 30 Apache attack helicopters, 1,000 Hellfire missiles, and 32 submarine-launched Harpoon missiles. China objected to the sales and cancelled senior-level military exchanges in the fall. China's defense white paper issued in January 2009 noted that "the United States continues to sell arms to Taiwan...causing serious harm to Sino-U.S. relations as well as peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits."

Despite China's concerns, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton confirmed that the United States would continue arms exports to Taiwan. Citing the Taiwan Relations Act, she stated Feb. 15 "that the United States will provide support for Taiwan's defense...our policy remains as it has been."

Within Asia, Congress added South Korea to a list of countries deserving lighter scrutiny. Under the 1976 Arms Export Control Act, notification threshold levels are $14 million for major defense equipment, $50 million for other articles and services, and $200 million for construction and design services. Notification thresholds for the so-called NATO Plus Three countries (NATO allies, Australia, Japan, and New Zealand) are $25 million, $100 million, and $300 million, respectively by type. In October, South Korea was added to the list, making a new NATO Plus Four group.

Accurately tracking recent arms sales is notoriously difficult because FMS notifications only capture proposals that reach threshold levels and tend to be bunched together, as well as representing only potential sales. The transfer of excess defense articles are handled separately. So too are commercial sales of certain military and dual-use items, with some licenses managed through the Department of State and others through the Department of Commerce. Recent-year State Department direct commercial sales licenses are estimated to be worth as much as $100 billion, but researchers typically do not rely on such figures because licenses can last for four years and actual agreements are not systematically reported.

Nonetheless, the concentration of notified government-to-government FMS to countries in the Middle East and Asia, with an overall tilt toward the Middle East, is consistent with global trends, as is the general increase in the overall value of the arms trade. (See ACT, December 2008.)

Many FMS agreements are supported by financial grants and other assistance provided by the United States. For example, Israel received more than $24 billion in U.S. military grants from 1997 to 2007.

Although such aid could provide a consistent base level of funding, given the global economic situation and the years it often takes to complete arms sales, experts warned that many of the notified deals may be delayed, altered, or fall through altogether. Future sales may also be impacted.

 

Notifications made to Congress in 2008 of requested U.S. arms sales reached their highest monetary level in more than a decade. Countries in the Middle East accounted for more than half of the $75 billion in government-to-government requests, which also included controversial arrangements with Taiwan. Notifications do not always result in deliveries, and experts warn against expecting the high level of possible deals to continue. (Continue)

Nuclear Management Change Recommended

Scott Miller

A Department of Defense task force formed after several recent incidents of nuclear weapons mismanagement found a lack of enthusiasm and understanding of the importance of nuclear deterrence throughout the department and recommended a series of changes to improve the department's performance. The report came as department officials said that changes recommended in an earlier report, focused on similar problems in the Air Force, were beginning to bear fruit.

On Dec. 18, the Task Force on Nuclear Weapons Management, headed by former Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger, submitted its second report to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. It recommended that Pentagon professionals be educated on the role and strategic dynamics of deterrence through a series of seminar war games. In addition, the task force pointed out that understanding of the strategic mission must begin at the White House and therefore that the secretaries of defense and energy should periodically brief the president on the state of U.S. nuclear capabilities. They called for the Navy to conduct biennial self-assessments of its nuclear mission to maintain the safety and ensure the reliability of the submarine-based component of the strategic triad. Finally, to coordinate these efforts, the panel recommended creating the position of assistant secretary of defense for deterrence.

The task force also reported on NATO and the state of nuclear forces in Europe. The report recommended that the Pentagon re-evaluate the role of nuclear weapons in Europe and warned against removing weapons from Europe without consulting NATO allies. This recommendation came at a time when some leading statesmen such as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, were calling for consolidation of deployed nuclear weapons. The task force showed concern for the state of the nuclear planning staff for the U.S. combatant command for Europe and recommended that the staff be fully manned with experienced people and not neglected as it has said to have been in recent years. The task force did find, however, that the level of nuclear weapons security in Europe "meets or exceeds" Defense Department and NATO standards. With regard to U.S. Strategic Command, the panel warned that the combatant command is being overwhelmed and recommended that its missions be limited to deterrence, global strike, and space.

Finally, the task force commented on the significant progress the Air Force had made in implementing the recommendations from its first report. (See ACT, October 2008.) In response to the task force's recommendations, the Air Force released a "Nuclear Roadmap" in October, which called for the creation of a new Global Strike Command to manage all bombers and ICBMs. On Jan. 12, the Air Force established a provisional Global Strike Command at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C., until a permanent location can be determined.

The Air Force also apparently improved its nuclear weapons safety and reliability procedures. Reports indicated that the Air Force failed several safety inspections late last year. In October, Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana received an unsatisfactory rating during its nuclear surety inspection. This was followed by another unsatisfactory rating in December at Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming. More recent inspections have resulted in improved scores. Malmstrom was reinspected in early February and received a satisfactory rating. During his opening remarks to the Senate Armed Services Committee Jan. 24, Gates showed his approval for the Air Force's progress, stating, "[D]espite the shortcomings of the past, I do believe the U.S. nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure, and reliable. The Air Force has taken significant steps to improve its nuclear stewardship."

 

Bush Imposes Final Proliferation Sanctions

Daniel Arnaudo

The United States imposed new sanctions Jan. 15 on seven companies from China, Iran, and North Korea, barring them from trading with U.S. companies or government agencies for two years. The sanctions, along with those related to the Abdul Qadeer Khan network, represented the last of nearly 300 such punishments related to unconventional weapons and missile proliferation that were doled out during the Bush administration's eight-year tenure. (See ACT, October 2008.)

Notice of the actions was published in the Federal Register Feb. 2 and singled out two Chinese entities, Dalian Sunny Industries and Bellamax; two Iranian industries, Shahid Bakeri and Shahid Hemmat Industrial Groups; and three North Korean companies Korea Mining and Development Corporation, Moksong Trading Corporation, and Sino-Ki.

The action will not likely affect the companies directly because past sanctions have barred them from trading with U.S. entities until present. Nonetheless, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson protested the sanctions on the Chinese businesses Feb. 3, claiming that they could hurt future prospects for economic cooperation with the United States.

Dalian Sunny Industries, also known as LIMMT Economic and Trade Company Ltd., has traded with Iranian companies in the past; and this relationship was responsible for the sanctions placed on it under Executive Order 13382, issued in June 2005. The order, which "blocks the property of specially designated [weapons of mass destruction] proliferators and members of their support networks," provides the basis for the sanctions on all seven entities and is administered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control.

A June 2006 press release from the Treasury Department said that Dalian Sunny Industries and other Chinese firms had given "financial, material, technological or other support for, or goods or services in support of the Aerospace Industries Organization, the Shahid Bakeri Industrial Group and/or the Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group."

The Shahid Bakeri and Shahid Hemmat Industrial Groups are subsidiaries of Iran's Aerospace Industries Organization, a group that is itself "a subsidiary of the Iranian Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics, and is the overall manager and coordinator of Iran's missile program," according to the Treasury Department. (See ACT, July/August 2007.)

The Iranian entities have had their international assets frozen since December 2006 under UN Resolution 1737 for activities related to Iran's ballistic missile program.

Obama Sets New Course on Arms Control

Cole Harvey

In recent public statements and congressional hearings, Obama administration officials have indicated that they will reverse Bush-era policies on a number of major arms control issues. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other Obama appointees have said that they will actively pursue ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) as well as a new strategic arms agreement with Russia and have revised the U.S. approach to negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons.

The statements made clear that the new administration planned to press forward with the policies Obama advocated in an Arms Control Today survey and in other venues during last year's presidential campaign. (See ACT, December 2008.)

In response to written and oral questions posed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January as part of her confirmation process, Clinton confirmed the administration's intention to win Senate ratification for the CTBT, which the Senate rejected in a 51-48 vote during Bill Clinton's presidency. (See ACT, September 1999.) In order to win the two-thirds majority needed for Senate passage, Clinton pledged that the Obama administration would work "intensively" with senators to reassure them on such technical issues as the verifiability of a test ban. Clinton also stated that the administration would ask Congress to fully fund the U.S. contribution to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization's (CTBTO) International Monitoring System, a system of sensors and other technologies designed to detect even low-yield nuclear tests. Although the Bush administration abided by a moratorium on nuclear testing, it opposed the CTBT and did not fully fund its monitoring system.

The Bush administration also refused to fully fund the U.S. contribution to the CTBTO itself. The Obama administration "will want to ensure that [the CTBTO] is adequately funded," Clinton said, but she stopped short of saying that the administration will ask Congress for the full amount of the U.S. assessed contribution.

Clinton and other officials have said that the United States will pursue new reductions in nuclear arms with Russia, in advance of the expiration of the START this December. In her Jan. 13 confirmation hearing, Clinton identified nuclear nonproliferation and negotiations on START as her "very highest priority." She echoed Obama's position, taken during the campaign, that the United States would seek to reduce its total nuclear arsenal, including deployed and nondeployed weapons, in conjunction with Russia. Negotiations on an agreement to replace START foundered in the last months of the Bush administration. (See ACT, October 2008.)

The most important element of any new agreement, according to testimony by Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy at a Jan. 15 hearing, is the continuation of the START monitoring and verification procedures. The administration has not taken a position on a Russian proposal to limit strategic delivery vehicles as well as warheads.

The Obama administration also intends to revive negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT), which would outlaw the production of new fissile material-plutonium and highly enriched uranium-for use in nuclear weapons. Those talks have been stalled for more than a decade in the Geneva-based 65-member Conference on Disarmament (CD).

Clinton noted in her confirmation hearing that the Obama administration planned to break with its predecessor by restoring U.S. support for a negotiating mandate calling for an eventual FMCT to include international monitoring and verification procedures. In May 2006, the Bush administration proposed a draft FMCT that lacked verification mechanisms, arguing that such provisions would be too expensive, overly intrusive, and unlikely to dissuade determined cheaters. (See ACT, June 2006.) Other members of the CD, which conducts its business by consensus, opposed the U.S. stance. Clinton stated in her testimony that abandoning the previous administration's policy is an essential step to resuming FMCT negotiations.

In her Senate testimony, Clinton claimed that the difference between the current and former administrations is a philosophical one. She asserted that the Bush administration disparaged arms control treaties and believed, in her words, that "good people don't need them and bad people won't follow them." By contrast, she said, arms control and nonproliferation are "passionate concerns of the [new] president."

The Arms Control Association maintains a list of new administration members who will be advising President Obama on issues relating to arms control. Click here to see the full list of filled and vacant positions.

In recent public statements and congressional hearings, Obama administration officials have indicated that they will reverse Bush-era policies on a number of major arms control issues. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other Obama appointees have said that they will actively pursue ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) as well as a new strategic arms agreement with Russia and have revised the U.S. approach to negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons. (Continue)

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