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"I want to thank the Arms Control Association … for being such effective advocates for sensible policies to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and most importantly, reduce the risk of nuclear war."
– Senator Joe Biden
January 28, 2004
May 2009
Edition Date: 
Friday, May 8, 2009
Cover Image: 

May 2009 Bibliography

 

Of Special Interest

Bolton, John R., "Obama's NK Reaction: More Talks," The Wall Street Journal, April 6, 2009.

Dhanapala, Jayantha, "Remove, Don't Reset, the Nuclear Button," The Asahi Shimbun, April 1, 2009.

Gorbachev, Mikhail, "What Role for the G-20?" The New York Times, April 27, 2009.

Kissinger, Henry A., "Obama's Foreign Policy Challenge," The Washington Post, April 22, 2009.

Kristensen, Hans M., From Counterforce to Minimal Deterrence: A New Nuclear Policy on the Path Toward Eliminating Nuclear Weapons, The Natural Resource Defense Council, April 2009.

Ratnesar, Romesh, "Gorbachev, Schultz, Nunn, Perry Urge a Nuclear-Free World," Time Magazine, April 22, 2009.

Task Force Report, "U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy," Council on Foreign Relations Press, April 30, 2009.

The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, "Remarks by President Barack Obama: Prague, Czech Republic," April 5, 2009.

The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, "Joint Statement by President Dmitriy Medvedev of the Russian Federation and President Barack Obama of the United States of America," April 1, 2009.

I. Strategic Arms

Agence France-Presse, "Official: Russia Ready to Cut Nuclear Arsenal," April 23, 2009.

Cooper, Helene, "Promises of 'Fresh Start' for U.S.-Russia Relations," The New York Times, April 1, 2009.

Grossman, Elaine M., "Obama Team Eyes Changes in U.S.-Russian START Verification Practices," Global Security Newswire, April 17, 2009.

Grossman, Elaine M., "Russian Experts Question Role of Conventional 'Prompt Global Strike' Weapons," Global Security Newswire, April 7, 2009.

Halpin, Tony, "Fresh Talks Raise Hope of Nuclear Cuts," The Times of London

Kralev, Nicholas, "Battlefield Nukes Left out of Arms Talks," The Washington Times, April 16, 2009.

MacWhirter, Iain, "Brown Can Show the Way by Ditching Irrelevant Trident," The Herald, April 6, 2009.

Pan, Phillip P., "Key Item For Obama, Medvedev: New Arms Talks," The Washington Post, April 1, 2009.

Pincus, Walter, "Report Urges Updating of Nuclear Weapons Policy," The Washington Post, April 14, 2009.

Siegel, Harry, "German Minister Wants U.S. Nukes Out," Politico, April 11, 2009.

Young, Brett and Dyomkin, Denis, "Russia Gives Cautious Response to Obama Nuclear Plan," Reuters, April 20, 2009.

II. Nuclear Proliferation

Levy, Clifford J., "Ukraine Says 3 Tried to Sell Bomb Material," The New York Times, April 14, 2009.

Iran

Agence France-Presse, "Ahmadinejad Pledges New Offer on Iran Nuclear Crisis," April 15, 2009.

Agence France-Presse, "Iran Tells EU Official Ready for Nuclear Talks," April 13, 2009.

BBC News, "Iran Opens Nuclear Fuel Facility," April 9, 2009.

Daragahi, Borzou and Mostaghim, Ramin, "Iran Touts Nuclear Technology Gains," Los Angeles Times, April 10, 2009.

Lekic, Sloboban, "Iran Works on New Proposals for More Nuclear Talks," The Washington Post, April 23, 2009.

Nicoullaud, Francois, "We Need a New Way to Deal with Iran's Nuclear Program," The Daily Star, April 9, 2009.

Pouladi, Farhad, "Iran Vows to Make New Rockets, Nuclear Fuel," Agence France-Presse, April 13, 2009.

Richter, Paul, "Biden Warns Israel off Any Attack on Iran," Los Angeles Times, April 8, 2009.

Rosen, James, "Moscow Open to 'More Severe' Punishment for Iran Over Nuclear Program," FOX News, April 9, 2009.

Sadjapour, Karim, Iranian American Relations Under The Early Obama Administration, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Proliferation Analysis, April 15, 2009.

North Korea

Associated Press, "IAEA: North Korea Expels Inspectors," April 13, 2009.

Deutsche Presse Agentur, "North Korea a Nuclear Power State, says IAEA Chief," April 20, 2009.

Kim, Jack, "North Korea Threatens Nuclear Tests over U.N. Move," Reuters, April 29, 2009.

Lynch, Colum, "Key U.N. Powers Agree on N. Korea Statement," The Washington Post, April 12, 2009.

Myers, B.R., "To Beat a Dictator, Ignore Him," The New York Times, April 1, 2009.

Paal, Douglas H., North Korea: Time for Strategy, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Proliferation Analysis, April 3, 2009.

RIA Novosti, "Russia, S. Korea Pledge New Steps to Revive Six-nation Talks," April 25, 2009.

Sokolski, Henry, "What to Do about Pyongyang," National Review Online, April 2, 2009.

Sue-young, Kim, "Obama Asked to Clarify Stance on NK Nukes," The Korea Times, April 1, 2009.

Sue-young, Kim, "Pyongyang Resumes Nuclear Program," The Korea Times, April 26, 2009.

The Washington Post, "No More Bribes," April 29, 2009.

Pakistan

Bokhari, Farhan and Lamont, James, "Obama Says Pakistan Nukes in Safe Hands," The Financial Times, April 29, 2009.

Syria

Schneidmiller, Chris, "Syria Unlikely to Resume Nuclear-Weapon Program, Expert Says," Global Security Newswire, April 7, 2009.

III. Nonproliferation

Agence France-Presse, "Japan Backs Obama's Call for Nuclear-free World," April 6, 2009.

Agence France-Presse, "Japan to Host Global Meet for Nuke-free World," April 27, 2009.

Goldschmidt, Pierre, Concrete Steps to Improve the Nonproliferation Regime, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Proliferation Analysis, April 2009.

Grossman, Elaine M., "U.S. to Signal 'Positive Trajectory' at NPT Preparatory Conference," Global Security Newswire, April 21, 2009.

Kimball, Daryl G., "Taking the Bang Out of Nuclear Weapons," The Moscow Times, April 13, 2009.

Lengell, Sean, "Senators Target Firms Doing Business with Iran," The Washington Times, April 13, 2009.

Nakasone, Hirofumi, "Ending the Nuclear-Weapons Threat," The Wall Street Journal, April 30, 2009.

Nurshayeva, Raushan, "Kazakhstan Offers to Host Global Nuclear Fuel Bank," Reuters, April 6, 2009.

Perkovich, George, The Road to Zero Nukes, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Proliferation Analysis, April 6, 2009.

Pincus, Walter, "Biden to Shepherd Test Ban Treaty Vote," The Washington Post, April 8, 2009.

Press TV, "Ahmadinejad Nods at Nuclear Fuel Bank Idea," April 7, 2009.

Reuters, "CTR Program Deactivates 10 More Nuclear Warheads," April 15, 2009.

IV. Missiles and Missile Defense

Broad, William J., "North Korean Missile Launch Was a Failure, Experts Say," The New York Times, April 5, 2009.

Cooper, Helene and Sanger, David E., "Obama Seizes on Missile Launch in Seeking Nuclear Cuts," The New York Times, April 5, 2009.

Harel, Amos, "Iron Dome Missile Defense System Likely to be Ready by 2010," Haaretz, April 11, 2009.

Lauria, Joe, "U.N. to Condemn Pyongyang Launch," The Wall Street Journal, April 13, 2009.

Morgan, David and Thatcher, Jonathan, "North Korea Missile Consistent with Satellite: U.S.," Reuters, March 31, 2009.

RIA Novosti, "India Test-fires Nuclear-capable Ballistic Missile," April 15, 2009.

Sang-Hun, Choe, "North Korea Rocket Launch on Track," The New York Times, April 3, 2009.

Sieff, Martin, "Obama, Gates Take Aim at Israel's Arrow-3 Missile," United Press International, April 9, 2009.

United Press International, "Israel Missile Defense Test a 'Success,'" April 7, 2009.

V. Chemical and Biological Arms

Global Security Newswire, "Dominican Republic Joins Chemical Weapons Convention," April 1, 2009.

Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, "The Bahamas Becomes 188th State Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention," April 23, 2009.

Schneidmiller, Chris, "India Completes Chemical Weapons Disposal; Iraq Declares Stockpile," Global Security Newswire, April 27, 2009.

VI. Conventional Arms

Blunt, Elizabeth, "Ethiopia Destroys Mines Stockpile," BBC News, April 13, 2009.

Janabi, Ahmed, "UAE Guns for Advanced Weaponry," Al Jazeera English, April 28, 2009.

Reid, Tim, "Iraq Seeks to Buy US-made F-16 Fighter Jets," Times Online, April 2, 2009.

The World Tribune, "Report: Sudan is No. 2 Military Client of China," April 3, 2009.

Thompson, Loren B., "U.S. Needs More F-22 Raptors in a Dangerous, Unpredictable World," United Press International, April 14, 2009.

U.S. Department of Defense, "Gates Says America Must Protect Conventional Capabilities," April 17, 2009.

Wong, Edward, "Naval Show to Feature Submarines From China," The New York Times, April 21, 2009.

VII. U.S. Policy

Agence France-Presse, "Gates Urges 'Reform,' Cuts in US Weapons Programs," April 6, 2009.

Civiak, Robert L., Transforming the U.S. Strategic Posture and Weapons Complex for Transition to a Nuclear Weapons-Free World, April 2009.

Ling, Katherine, "Obama's Nuclear Nonproliferation Plan Heralds Changes for DOE Labs," The New York Times, April 6, 2009.

Parsons, Christi and Hamburger, Tom, "Obama Pledges to Pursue the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons," Los Angeles Times, April 6, 2009.

VIII. Space

Lal, Neeta, "India's Eye in the Sky Takes Aim," Asia Times Online, April 21, 2009.

Reuters, "Japan Mulls Satellite for Missile Launch Detection," April 22, 2009.

United Press International, "Satellites Alter Battlefield Paradigm," April 3, 2009.

IX. Other

Foreign Policy, "Seven Questions: Hans Blix," April 2009.

 

Editor's Note

Daniel Horner

President Barack Obama's April 5 speech in Prague listed a host of nuclear challenges and sketched out plans for meeting them. In this month's issue, three experts provide detailed analyses that fill out and go beyond the broad agenda that Obama articulated in his speech.

Obama announced a new international effort to secure vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years, vowing to expand cooperation with Russia and "pursue new partnerships" in that effort. In our cover story, Kenneth N. Luongo argues for an effort that continues to give the proper attention to "the old neighborhood" of Russia and the other former Soviet states but broadens the geographical and conceptual focus. A key element, Luongo says, is to include biological as well as nuclear threats.

Lewis A. Dunn also emphasizes cooperation and partnership, but his focus is on U.S. opportunities in two countries, Russia and China. Dunn proposes a series of "cooperative security activities" the United States could pursue with those countries. Among his list of suggestions is information sharing by the United States on its ongoing Nuclear Posture Review.

Obama's Prague speech emphasized the need to punish violators of global nonproliferation rules. But it is difficult to press for punishment if there is no consensus on what constitutes a violation of the rules. In a closely argued analysis, John Carlson delves into the issue of safeguards noncompliance.

Meanwhile, William Lanouette looks back at the question of "civilian control" of nuclear weapons, a question that has surfaced in different forms at various points in the nuclear age.

In the news section, Peter Crail reports on the newly expanded field in the race to succeed International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei. Oliver Meier provides details on German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier's call for the removal of U.S. nuclear weapons from Germany and the potential repercussions of that policy for NATO. Cole Harvey reports on Obama's Prague speech and the reactions to it, as well as the launching of U.S.-Russian negotiations on a follow-on to START.

This issue of Arms Control Today is the first for me and Managing Editor Elisabeth Erickson. It would be difficult to imagine a more fascinating time to be coming into this job. For me, that was one of the great attractions of it.

Another was the magazine's reputation. When I told my friends and colleagues that I was taking the job, many of them said how much they enjoyed and relied on Arms Control Today and how they admired the work of my predecessor, Miles Pomper. Those comments were inspiring, but also daunting.

Elisabeth and I, along with all our colleagues at Arms Control Today, are committed to maintaining the high quality of the magazine. Now that our first deadline has passed, we are trying to think of ways to make it even better. Please share your thoughts with us at [email protected].

 

Correction

In the April 2009 issue of Arms Control Today, a word was omitted from a sentence in the article, "The Future of Nuclear Arms: A World United and Divided by Zero." The sentence, on page 21, should read, "The world today is largely united on the merits of this goal but remains deeply divided over how to achieve it."

National Ignition Facility Completed

The National Ignition Facility (NIF), a central component of U.S. scientific research and stockpile stewardship, has been completed, the Department of Energy announced March 31. The NIF has been under construction at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California since May 1997. (Continue)

Scott Miller

The National Ignition Facility (NIF), a central component of U.S. scientific research and stockpile stewardship, has been completed, the Department of Energy announced March 31. The NIF has been under construction at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California since May 1997.

The 10-story complex houses 192 lasers capable of producing close to 2 million joules of energy, making it the world's most powerful laser. According to the NIF Web site, the heat and pressure produced when all the laser beams are focused on its small eraser-sized target is similar to the conditions found within stars, planet cores, and nuclear detonations.

In a March 31 Energy Department press release, Thomas D'Agostino, head of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), hailed the facility as "a cornerstone of a critical national security mission, ensuring the continuing reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile without underground nuclear testing, while also providing a path to explore the frontiers of basic science, and potential technologies for energy independence."

The NNSA, a separately organized agency within the Energy Department, is responsible for the Stockpile Stewardship Program. Congress introduced the program in 1993 to bolster the effort to maintain the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear arsenal in the absence of nuclear weapons testing.

The cost of completing the NIF was $3.5 billion, an Energy Department budget official said in an April 27 e-mail. That figure includes "the building itself and the assembly and installation project (i.e. what goes in the building)," the official said.

 

 

GAO Details Nuclear Aid to Terrorism Sponsors

Scott Miller

Four countries the Department of State has designated as sponsors of terrorism received a total of $55 million in nuclear technical assistance under an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) program between 1997 and 2007, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The four countries-Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria-received the money through the IAEA's Technical Cooperation Fund. In 2007 the United States accounted for 25 percent, or approximately $19.8 million, of the fund's budget. IAEA member states agree to pledge a certain amount of money to the fund each year.

The report was requested by Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia. In releasing the report March 31, Akaka issued a statement saying, "As a long-time advocate for strong, international nonproliferation efforts, I am troubled by GAO's findings."

Akaka's office said April 23 that "no final decisions on hearings or legislation have been made at this point" but that he is "working with his colleagues in the Senate and the State Department on an appropriate solution."

One problem the GAO noted was the inability of the Departments of Energy and State and U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories to get detailed information concerning specific technical cooperation projects while the projects are under consideration by the IAEA. For instance, for 97 percent of the projects under review from 1998 to 2006, the only information the laboratories received was the names of projects, the report said. The GAO also found that, from 1998 to 2006, the Energy Department flagged 43 projects as potentially posing a proliferation risk, but 34 of those were approved and funded by the IAEA.

The GAO proposed that Congress instruct the State Department to withhold part of the U.S. technical cooperation contribution in an amount proportionate to the U.S. share of IAEA aid to countries designated as state sponsors of terrorism. According to the report, the United States currently withholds funds in proportion to its share of aid to Cuba and has done the same in the past for Iran, Libya, and the Palestinian territories.

The State Department "strongly opposed" the idea and argued that because contributions to the Technical Cooperation Fund are not directed toward specific projects, such an action would fail to prevent technical cooperation projects in states of concern and would "anger states in the developing world." The GAO defended the proposal but also broadened it to include the option of requiring the State Department to explain its rationale for not withholding funds, so that lawmakers have additional information before making their decision.

In addition to that "matter for congressional consideration," as the GAO called it, the report offered 10 recommendations for the executive branch. The State Department agreed with seven of those 10 recommendations. For example, the department endorsed recommendations to focus technical cooperation projects on a limited set of "high priority technical areas" and to encourage outreach to private sector donors and partners.

The department expressed misgivings about a recommendation to establish a formal information-sharing mechanism on technical cooperation project proposals, citing confidentiality concerns.

 

 

Part of GNEP Officially Canceled

The Department of Energy last month announced it had ended a key part of the Bush administration's Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) but said it is "considering options" for continuing the effort's international component.

GNEP sought to promote nuclear power in the United States and around the world while developing new types of spent fuel reprocessing plants and fast-neutron reactors. A main focus of GNEP, which was launched in early 2006, was an effort to speed the deployment of a commercial-scale reprocessing plant in the United States. (Continue)

Daniel Horner

The Department of Energy last month announced it had ended a key part of the Bush administration's Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) but said it is "considering options" for continuing the effort's international component.

GNEP sought to promote nuclear power in the United States and around the world while developing new types of spent fuel reprocessing plants and fast-neutron reactors. A main focus of GNEP, which was launched in early 2006, was an effort to speed the deployment of a commercial-scale reprocessing plant in the United States.

But in an April 15 statement, the Energy Department said it is "no longer pursuing near-term commercial demonstration projects." Deputy Press Secretary Jen Stutsman issued the statement in response to a question from the magazine Nuclear Engineering International, which posted excerpts from the statement on its Web site.

The fiscal year 2009 omnibus appropriations bill provides $145 million for the Energy Department's Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative, a research and development program that preceded GNEP and then served as its technology development arm. The funding bill specifies that the research effort should be focused on "proliferation resistant fuel cycles and waste reduction strategies." Secretary of Energy Steven Chu also has made clear that he views reprocessing as a subject of long-term research, rather than a near-term domestic option.

GNEP's push for near-term commercial deployment had been one of the most heavily criticized parts of the controversial program on Capitol Hill.

The program's recruitment of international partners-more than 20 countries have signed GNEP's statement of principles-also drew criticism in Congress, but the Energy Department indicated it sees some value in that part of the program or a variation of it. The department "is considering options for advancing the Administration's nonproliferation and energy priorities through its participation in the international activities of GNEP," according to the April 15 statement.

The Obama administration has supported a global expansion of nuclear energy in conjunction with an international "fuel bank," a mechanism to provide assured supplies of fuel so that countries have less reason to pursue domestic programs for uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing. President Barack Obama made that connection in his April 5 speech in Prague, saying that the fuel bank will allow countries to "access peaceful power without increasing the risks of proliferation." He added, "We must harness the power of nuclear energy on behalf of our efforts to combat climate change and to advance opportunity for all people."

Gregory Schulte, U.S. permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency, specifically cited the international work under GNEP in remarks to an April 20-22 nuclear conference in Beijing. Schulte, who delivered the remarks on behalf of Chu, said, "We need to take full advantage of these and other exchanges to seek solutions and innovations to bring about the new framework proposed by President Obama."

Meanwhile, some U.S. utilities are exploring the so-called closed fuel cycle, which involves spent fuel reprocessing and fabrication of new fuel from the reprocessed material, in spite of the drop-off in government support for the idea. U.S. industry sources said a group has been in discussions about obtaining plutonium now stored in Europe and having the material fabricated into fuel in Europe for a demonstration program in U.S. reactors.

The plutonium would be made into mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel, so called because it is a mix of plutonium and uranium oxides. Conventional nuclear fuel-the kind used in all current U.S. reactors-is made from uranium oxide.

Top officials from AREVA, the French nuclear company, confirmed that they are in talks with U.S. utilities about a MOX demonstration program in the United States. AREVA owns and operates facilities covering all parts of the nuclear fuel cycle, including MOX fabrication.

One of the AREVA officials said there are several outstanding issues, including the price. A large part of the cost would be for the transportation of the MOX assemblies from Europe to the United States, he said.

 

 

Gates Reorienting Missile Defense Programs

The U.S. missile defense program would be refocused and its overall spending would decline under the Obama administration's fiscal year 2010 budget request, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said April 6. At a press conference, Gates said he intends to reorganize the program around short-range missile defense and efforts to counter "rogue" states. (Continue)

Cole Harvey

The U.S. missile defense program would be refocused and its overall spending would decline under the Obama administration's fiscal year 2010 budget request, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said April 6. At a press conference, Gates said he intends to reorganize the program around short-range missile defense and efforts to counter "rogue" states.

As a result, the Pentagon would not increase the number of ground-based, mid-course strategic missile interceptors at Fort Greely, Alaska, and would scale back or eliminate two programs-the Airborne Laser (ABL) and Multiple Kill Vehicle (MKV)-he said. Overall, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) budget would be reduced by $1.4 billion. In fiscal year 2009, which ends September 30, Congress appropriated $8.85 billion for the agency.

The ABL is a modified Boeing 747 jet aircraft that, once completed, would use a powerful laser to shoot down enemy missiles while they are climbing through the atmosphere. According to a March 2009 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, the ABL, which began in 1996, is more than six years behind schedule. The projected budget for completing the program has jumped from an estimate of $724 million in 1996 to $3.6 billion today, the GAO said.

Gates announced that the Department of Defense would cancel the second ABL prototype plane, while shifting the existing aircraft into a research and development role. In announcing the change, Gates said that "the program's proposed operational role is highly questionable."

Gates said he also plans to end the MKV program, citing "its significant technical challenges." The MKV is intended to intercept ballistic missiles during the mid-course phase of flight by firing several independent interceptors from a single booster. The program was designed to overcome an incoming missile's decoys or countermeasures by simultaneously targeting multiple objects. The MDA projected that the MKV would not be ready for deployment until 2017, according to the GAO.

Not every MDA project will need to tighten its belt under Gates' budget. Programs that focus on theater missile defense would be given additional resources. Gates would direct an additional $700 million toward the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) programs. THAAD is a truck-mounted interceptor designed to destroy incoming missiles as they fall to earth during their final phase of flight. The MDA plans to deploy the first THAAD unit, which includes 24 interceptors, in 2010.

The SM-3 is the sea-based interceptor employed aboard ships using the Aegis ballistic missile defense system and is intended to counter intermediate-range ballistic missiles during the mid-course phase of flight. Gates also recommended upgrading an additional six ships to incorporate the Aegis missile defense system, beyond the 18 Aegis-equipped ships already at sea, at a cost of $200 million. Both Aegis and THAAD can be used "to better protect our forces and those of our allies," Gates said.

The reordering of the MDA budget represents a shift toward more flexible regional defenses, according to Gates. At the press conference, he said that although the Pentagon would continue to develop long-range intercept capabilities, "we are adding a significant amount of money...to provide tactical or theater missile defense. We are basically maxing out the production lines for the SM-3 and the THAAD.... So I think that's a real focus here."

 

 

World Powers Invite Iran to Nuclear Talks

The United States and five other world powers in April invited Iran to renewed talks to address international concerns over Tehran's nuclear program. The move came as Washington was finalizing a new Iran policy, which U.S. officials have indicated will include diplomatic outreach to Tehran. During an April 5 speech on arms control in Prague, President Barack Obama said his administration "will seek engagement with Iran based upon mutual interests and mutual respect." (Continue)

Peter Crail

The United States and five other world powers in April invited Iran to renewed talks to address international concerns over Tehran's nuclear program. The move came as Washington was finalizing a new Iran policy, which U.S. officials have indicated will include diplomatic outreach to Tehran. During an April 5 speech on arms control in Prague, President Barack Obama said his administration "will seek engagement with Iran based upon mutual interests and mutual respect."

Meanwhile, Iran celebrated its "National Nuclear Technology Day" April 9 by declaring that it has mastered the nuclear fuel cycle as it inaugurated a nuclear fuel manufacturing facility, with Iranian officials suggesting that such a development alters the terms for any diplomatic initiative.

U.S. to Join Nuclear Talks With Iran

In the first public statements revealing some of the conclusions from the ongoing U.S. policy review on Iran, U.S. officials indicated in April that Washington would break from previous practice and send a representative to all future meetings of a six-country dialogue with Tehran. During an April 8 press briefing, Department of State spokesperson Robert Wood expressed the U.S. commitment to the "P5+1 process" but explained "what is different is that the U.S. will join P5+1 discussions with Iran from now on."

The P5+1 process refers to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and Germany, which have pursued a dual-track approach since 2006 to respond to Iran's nuclear program. The two tracks involve proposals for a negotiated resolution to concerns about the nuclear program and sanctions for Iran's failure to comply with UN obligations.

The six countries issued a statement April 8 warmly welcoming "the new direction of U.S. policy towards Iran" and indicating that they would formally invite Iran to take part in negotiations on its nuclear program with their representatives to "find a diplomatic solution to this critical issue."

The Bush administration had maintained that it would enter such talks only after Iran complied with UN Security Council demands to suspend its sensitive nuclear activities. It made an exception to this policy in June 2008 when Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns attended a discussion between the six countries and Iran. (See ACT, July/August 2008.) U.S. officials stated at that time that such participation would only occur once. Burns continues to serve as the key U.S. negotiator in the P5+1 process.

Obama has frequently indicated that the United States would be willing to enter negotiations with Iran "without preconditions," an apparent reference to the Bush administration's insistence that Iran first suspend certain nuclear work.

Although no longer a prerequisite for the start of talks, the nuclear suspension is still a key objective of negotiations with Iran, U.S. officials say. Wood told reporters April 9 that Iran's suspension of its uranium-enrichment program "is a fundamental international community requirement for us to be satisfied that Iran is pursuing a...peaceful nuclear program."

Uranium enrichment can be used to create fuel for nuclear power reactors as well as material for the explosive core in nuclear weapons.

Iran appears to have responded positively to the U.S. interest in diplomatic engagement and the invitation for renewed talks with the P5+1 countries on its nuclear program. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stated during an April 15 speech that Iran has "designed a new package for negotiations which will soon be ready and delivered" to the six countries. He did not provide any details of what the package would include.

Iran Touts Nuclear Progress

As the six countries sought to renew talks to address Iran's nuclear program, Tehran continued to claim advances in its nuclear efforts. Celebrating Iran's third annual National Nuclear Technology Day, Ahmadinejad declared that Iran had mastered the nuclear cycle with the inauguration of a nuclear fuel manufacturing plant near the city of Isfahan.

The head of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, Alaeddin Borujerdi, told reporters April 9 that suspending uranium enrichment cannot be discussed with Iran now that the country has completed the nuclear fuel cycle.

The nuclear fuel cycle refers to a series of processes by which nuclear fuel is produced, used in nuclear reactors, and disposed of or recycled for further use. Certain aspects of this cycle, including enriching uranium for fuel in certain types of reactors and separating plutonium from spent reactor fuel, may be used to create material for nuclear weapons.

Iran has facilities and operations encompassing all of the processes involved in the production of nuclear fuel and the disposition of nuclear waste, although, according to estimates by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the country has limited "reasonably assured" sources of domestic uranium. (See ACT, April 2009.) In 2003 Iran acknowledged carrying out undeclared small-scale experiments with plutonium separation between 1988 and 1992, but no such work is believed to be ongoing.

Iranian officials indicated that the fuel manufacturing plant would be used to produce fuel for Iran's heavy-water reactor, currently under construction near the town of Arak. A Feb. 19 IAEA report stated that the agency had carried out an inspection of the plant earlier that month and that fuel rods for the Arak reactor were being produced. Both facilities are covered under Iran's safeguards agreement with the IAEA.

A senior UN official stated during a background briefing last September that the Arak reactor is likely to be completed in 2011 and come online in 2013. The reactor is designed for research purposes rather than to produce nuclear power, but it could be used to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons. (See ACT, March 2007.)

To meet the needs of the Arak reactor, the fuel manufacturing facility will only need to produce natural uranium fuel, rather than the enriched uranium fuel generally used for light-water nuclear power reactors. Because of the demands of the enrichment process, the latter fuel is more difficult to manufacture.

It does not appear that Iran would be able to use the plant to manufacture fuel for its only currently existing nuclear power reactor, at Bushehr. Russia has agreed to provide the initial enriched uranium fuel for that reactor, which was recently completed and underwent a trial run in March; and the specification for its production is proprietary information maintained by Rosatom, Russia's state-owned nuclear conglomerate. (See ACT, April 2008.) In an April 13 e-mail to Arms Control Today, a Russian diplomat said he doubted that Rosatom sold the right to manufacture such fuel to Iran.

When contacted by Arms Control Today April 20, Rosatom officials would not comment on any arrangements made with Iran.

In addition to inaugurating the fuel plant, Iranian officials declared that they had made additional advances in uranium enrichment, including the installation of about 7,000 centrifuges at the commercial-scale uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz.

The Feb. 19 IAEA report indicated that, as of that month, Iran had installed about 5,400 machines.

Additional Targets for Treasury Sanctions

While the Obama administration expresses its intention to chart a new course for negotiations with Iran, it continues to levy sanctions on firms and individuals believed to be contributing to Iran's nuclear and missile programs.

The Department of the Treasury April 7 sanctioned six Iranian firms and one Chinese individual under Executive Order 13382, which freezes any U.S.-held assets of these entities. The order also blocks their access to the U.S. financial system and prevents U.S. firms from doing business with them. (See ACT, November 2008.)

Stuart Levey, undersecretary of the treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in an April 7 press release that the administration applied the sanctions to prevent those entities "from abusing the financial system to pursue centrifuge and missile technology for Iran."

The six Iranian entities are all owned by or affiliated with Iranian defense firms that have been placed under U.S. and UN sanctions. Five are suspected of involvement in Iran's uranium-enrichment program. The United States says the sixth firm manufactured power units for Iran's ballistic missile systems.

Two of the Iranian entities were sanctioned by UN Security Council Resolution 1803, adopted in March 2008. (See ACT, April 2008.)

The sanctioned Chinese individual, Li Fangwei, is the commercial manager of LIMMT Economic and Trade Company Ltd., a firm that the United States sanctioned in June 2006. In addition to placing restrictions on Li, the Treasury Department listed eight front companies as aliases used by LIMMT to skirt U.S. financial restrictions.

 

 

N. Korea Launches Rocket, Renounces Talks

North Korea's long anticipated rocket launch April 5 set off a chain of events resulting in international sanctions on North Korean firms and Pyongyang's withdrawal from six-way talks to end its nuclear weapons program.

North Korea, which warned that any UN response would provoke a hostile reaction, insisted that it is no longer bound by multilateral agreements reached with the United States and countries in the region and stated its intention to reconstitute the nuclear facilities that it temporarily disabled under those accords. In an April 25 Foreign Ministry statement, Pyongyang declared that it had begun separating plutonium to enhance its "nuclear deterrence." (Continue)

Peter Crail

North Korea's long anticipated rocket launch April 5 set off a chain of events resulting in international sanctions on North Korean firms and Pyongyang's withdrawal from six-way talks to end its nuclear weapons program.

North Korea, which warned that any UN response would provoke a hostile reaction, insisted that it is no longer bound by multilateral agreements reached with the United States and countries in the region and stated its intention to reconstitute the nuclear facilities that it temporarily disabled under those accords. In an April 25 Foreign Ministry statement, Pyongyang declared that it had begun separating plutonium to enhance its "nuclear deterrence."

Rocket Launch

More than a month after indicating that it would attempt to launch a satellite into space, North Korea fired a three-stage rocket April 5, defying calls by the United States and countries in the region not to take such an action. Although Pyongyang declared the launch a success, other countries have concluded that the rocket did not place a satellite in space.

The U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) issued a statement April 5 explaining that the first stage landed in the Sea of Japan while "the remaining stages along with the payload itself landed in the Pacific Ocean." NORTHCOM said that "no object entered orbit."

The rocket, which North Korea calls the Unha-2, is believed to be a modified version of the North's Taepo Dong-2 missile first tested in 2006. That test failed about 40 seconds after launch. The recent launch, in spite of its failure to orbit a satellite, therefore demonstrated some improvement of North Korea's proficiency with its longest-range missile system.

Independent estimates suggest that, in a ballistic missile configuration, the Taepo Dong-2 may be able to carry a 500-kilogram payload about 9,000 kilometers, making it capable of reaching Alaska, Hawaii, and the western coast of the continental United States. The rocket's first stage is believed to be powered by a cluster of four Nodong medium-range ballistic missiles, offering considerable lift capacity. The makeup of its second and third stages is unclear.

Although the NORTHCOM statement referred to the rocket as a satellite launch vehicle, the United States and its allies said the rocket launch was intended to test North Korea's long-range ballistic missile technologies, which have many similarities with satellite launchers. (See ACT, April 2009.) Additional modifications are needed for the rocket to serve as a nuclear-weapon delivery vehicle.

In March, Pyongyang provided international agencies with information on where the rocket's first two stages were expected to land in the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean. The first stage landed in the expected location while the second reportedly landed hundreds of kilometers short of the area in which North Korea estimated it would land, about 3,150-3,950 kilometers from the launch site.

Security Council Condemnation, Sanctions

The UN Security Council responded to the launch by issuing a presidential statement April 13 condemning it and declaring that it was "in contravention of Security Council Resolution 1718." The council also imposed sanctions on three North Korean firms believed to be involved in Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs. Presidential statements by the council are issued with the approval of all 15 members but do not have the same legal force that resolutions do.

Although the statement fell short of a new resolution sought by the United States and Japan, those countries did appear to win concessions from China and Russia to declare that the launch contravened Resolution 1718 and to levy sanctions under that resolution.

The council adopted Resolution 1718 in October 2006 in response to North Korea's nuclear test earlier that month. (See ACT, November 2006.) It prohibited Pyongyang from engaging in "any ballistic missile activity" and required that all countries freeze the assets of designated North Korean entities believed to be involved in that country's nuclear and missile programs. Prior to April, the council had not designated any entities.

China and Russia previously maintained that because the Unha-2 was intended to orbit a satellite, the launch was not prohibited by Resolution 1718. The United States and Japan argued that the resolution barred all activities with ballistic missile applications. (See ACT, April 2009.) To prevent any continued legal dispute, the April 13 statement demanded that North Korea "not conduct any further launch."

Beijing and Moscow had also warned against taking any steps, such as new sanctions, that would jeopardize negotiations with North Korea on its nuclear program.

Following the launch, Russia's permanent representative to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, told reporters that it was important "not to give in to emotions" and lose sight of the "main goal...the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula."

After the UN statement, however, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters in Seoul April 24 that Moscow stood behind the council's decision to penalize North Korea for the rocket launch. During an April 23 visit to Pyongyang, Lavrov told North Korean officials that Russia would be willing to launch their satellites.

The United States and Japan were also able to win agreement to sanction North Korean entities under Resolution 1718, though not as many as they had wanted. On April 24, the council agreed to place financial restrictions on three North Korean firms: Korea Mining Development Trading Corp., Tanchon Commercial Bank, and Korea Ryongbong General Corp.

Reuters reported April 21 and Arms Control Today confirmed with diplomatic sources that the United States sought to sanction 11 firms, while Japan proposed that the council list those 11 entities plus an additional three.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury has placed financial restrictions on 10 North Korean firms suspected of involvement in the country's nuclear and missile programs, including the three firms now designated by the council.

In addition to seeking UN penalties, Japan extended its own sanctions against North Korea April 10, including an embargo on North Korean imports and limitations on exports and remittances to the isolated state. Moreover, in contrast to its usual practice of extending the sanctions for six months, Tokyo imposed them for an additional year. The sanctions have been in place since 2006.

Hours after the council adopted its statement, the North Korean Foreign Ministry issued a declaration "resolutely" rejecting the UN action and outlining steps that Pyongyang would take in response. In the April declaration, North Korea argued that "there has never been a case in history that the [council] took issue with a satellite launch."

Nuclear Talks Denounced

Alleging that the other participants in the six-party talks on denuclearizing the Korean peninsula had infringed on North Korea's sovereignty by issuing the council statement, Pyongyang declared that it "will never participate in such talks and will no longer be bound" by any of its agreements.

South Korea and current Security Council members China, Japan, Russia, and the United States have been the participants in the talks with North Korea.

The six countries have reached three formal agreements since the talks were initiated in August 2003 in response to Pyongyang's withdrawal from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) earlier that year. In a 2005 joint statement, the parties concluded a key overarching agreement outlining the goal of the negotiations. In that agreement, North Korea pledged to abandon "all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs" and to return "at an early date" to the NPT.

Two subsequent agreements reached in February and October 2007 detailed initial steps to implement the 2005 statement, including temporarily rendering North Korea's key plutonium-related facilities temporarily inoperable. The process, which requires reciprocal steps by North Korea and the other five countries, has not been completed.

In spite of Pyongyang's withdrawal from the negotiations, other participants have insisted that the six-party talks continue.

Department of State spokesperson Megan Mattson told reporters April 25, "The United States remains committed to the six-party goal of the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula in a peaceful manner through the six-party talks."

Lavrov similarly stated during an April 24 press conference that "our joint task is to create conditions towards the resumption of the negotiating process" with North Korea. He had traveled to Pyongyang one day earlier to discuss the talks with key members of the North Korean leadership. Based on those meetings, Lavrov said at the press conference, "today, North Korea is not ready to return to the negotiating table."

In its April 14 statement, North Korea said it would reverse the steps taken under the 2007 agreements to disable its nuclear facilities, "putting their operation on a normal track." On April 16, Pyongyang ejected international and U.S. monitors from its Yongbyon nuclear complex.

Escalating the situation further, Pyongyang also declared that it would "fully reprocess" the spent fuel rods from its Yongbyon reactor in order to extract plutonium for nuclear weapons. The 8,000 spent fuel rods from the reactor contain about 7-10 kilograms of plutonium, enough for one or two nuclear weapons. (See ACT, October 2008.)

In an April 25 Foreign Ministry statement, North Korea said that it has already begun separating this plutonium. "The reprocessing of spent fuel rods from the pilot atomic power plant began as declared in the Foreign Ministry statement dated April 14," said a Foreign Ministry spokesperson, according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency.

The statement said the move "will contribute to bolstering the nuclear deterrence for self-defense in every way."

It is unclear whether the reprocessing facility has been restored to its normal working condition. Siegfried Hecker, former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, told Arms Control Today last September that it would only take "a month or so" to restart operations at that facility once the equipment was moved back into place. (See ACT, October 2008.) In the September interview, he said that "the reprocessing facility was the one that was disabled the least." The disablement work on the reprocessing facility focused on the "front-end" loading operations because the other portions of the facility contain high-level radioactive waste, Hecker noted.

South Korea Considers Full PSI Membership

Seoul is mulling its own response to the Taepo Dong-2 launch. South Korea indicated prior to the launch that it would consider formally joining the U.S.-initiated Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) if North Korea went ahead with the action. (See ACT, April 2009.) Although Seoul appears to be in favor of joining the effort, reported divisions in the South Korean government seem to have delayed any final decision.

The Korea Herald reported April 23 that the delay is due in part to "competing foreign policy camps within government." The disagreement reportedly centers on concerns that North Korea may stoke a conflict in response to a South Korean decision to join the PSI. Pyongyang has warned that Seoul's membership in the PSI would constitute an "act of war," a threat it has reiterated in recent weeks. A South Korean diplomat told Arms Control Today in April that Seoul has begun taking additional precautionary steps to protect its civilian ships from threats by North Korean vessels.

The United States established the PSI in 2003 as an informal grouping of states that pledged to share information on and interdict suspected shipments of unconventional weapons and related goods. (See ACT, September 2003.) That year, the first 11 key participants identified North Korea as one of the "states of particular concern" with respect to the goals of the initiative. Seoul is currently an observer to the effort, which now includes more than 90 participants.

South Korean presidential spokesperson Lee Dong-kwan said during an April 14 press conference that the government planned to announce its decision after a high-level security policy meeting the following day. After that meeting, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Moon Tae-young told reporters that although Seoul was committed to joining the initiative, it was postponing an announcement until the end of that week.

April 15, the date of the originally expected announcement, is also the date that North Korea celebrates the birthday of its founder, Kim Il Sung. As of April 24, South Korea had yet to make an announcement on the PSI.

Although it has not publicly disclosed its decision, South Korea does appear to have shared it with PSI members. The Korea Times quoted an unnamed Foreign Ministry official April 15 stating that Seoul "informed related countries of our plan to take part in the initiative," adding "we are also conducting internal procedures."

 

 

Presidents Back U.S.-Russian Civil Nuclear Pact

President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev have agreed to move ahead with a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement between their countries, but a senior Department of State official said the Obama administration may need some time to address congressional concerns about the pact. (Continue)

Daniel Horner

President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev have agreed to move ahead with a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement between their countries, but a senior Department of State official said the Obama administration may need some time to address congressional concerns about the pact.

Speaking April 7 at a luncheon session of the Carnegie International Nonproliferation Conference, Rose Gottemoeller, assistant secretary of state for verification, compliance, and implementation, said the process of consulting with lawmakers will be "slow and, I think, deliberate" because of "the difficult issues that confront the agreement on Capitol Hill." Nevertheless, she said, "I hope that this is an agreement that can be fairly quickly brought before the Congress again."

In May 2008, President George W. Bush submitted the agreement to Congress but withdrew it three months later in the wake of Russia's military action in Georgia. Even before the clash with Georgia, the pact was facing resistance from some influential members of Congress. The main focus of their concern was Russia's relationship with Iran, particularly with regard to Tehran's nuclear program.

Last year, the two top members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee-Chairman Howard Berman (D-Calif.) and ranking member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.)-introduced legislation that would have made the issuance of licenses for U.S. nuclear exports to Russia contingent on a presidential certification that Russia was not providing Iran with assistance relevant to nuclear or certain other types of weapons. The president also would have had to certify that Russia was "fully and completely" supporting U.S. efforts to impose "effective" international sanctions on Iran.

At the April 7 luncheon, Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, said such conditions were "absolutely irrelevant" to the agreement. If the agreement serves U.S. interests, then it should be supported, he said.

Supporters of the pact have said it would solidify support for U.S. work on nonproliferation issues, including efforts to convince Iran to abandon its uranium-enrichment program. "Virtually every nuclear danger America faces will be made more dangerous if Congress rejects [the agreement]," Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) argued in The New York Times last May. (See ACT, June 2008.) Lugar, ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Nunn, a former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, drafted legislation that led to many existing U.S.-Russian nonproliferation programs.

Gottemoeller's comments "directly acknowledged the deep problems" that members of Congress have with the agreement, a Democratic congressional staffer said in an April 20 e-mail. A Republican staffer said April 21 that he had not yet seen any signal from the administration that it was preparing to resubmit the pact.

After their meeting in London April 1, Obama and Medvedev issued a wide-ranging statement on U.S.-Russian relations. According to the statement, the two leaders "will work to bring [the cooperation agreement] into force."

Under U.S. nuclear export law, Congress does not have to vote to approve the agreement. Once it is submitted, the pact could enter into force after 90 days of so-called continuous session unless lawmakers vote to disapprove it. Congress also could vote to approve it, but that approval could come with conditions, as Berman and Ros-Lehtinen proposed in their bill last year.

 

 

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