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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
July/August 2009
Edition Date: 
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Cover Image: 

Russia Vetoes UN Mission in Georgia

Cole Harvey

Russia voted against extending the mandate of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) in the Security Council June 15, scuttling a last-minute effort to renew the mission's mandate and dealing another blow to the already strained Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty.

The vote ended the nearly 16-year-old mission to help keep the peace between Georgia and its breakaway territory of Abkhazia. In a press release following the vote, the Russian Foreign Ministry called the proposed extension of the mandate "useless in the present situation" because it does not refer to Abkhazia as an independent state. Moscow recognized the independence of Abkhazia and nearby South Ossetia following Russia's conflict with Georgia in August 2008.

UNOMIG was established in 1994 to monitor a ceasefire between Georgia and separatists in Abkhazia following a series of conflicts after the fall of the Soviet Union. The mission set up a demilitarized zone along the Abkhazian border and a broader region where heavy weapons were not permitted. As of February, UNOMIG was staffed by 151 international uniformed personnel.

British, French, and U.S. diplomats wanted to extend the UNOMIG mandate with a reference to Security Council Resolution 1808, in which the council reaffirmed the territorial integrity of Georgia. Russia's ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin said there was no sense in extending the original mandate "since it's built on old realities." Ten states in the Security Council voted in favor of the extension, with four abstentions. Russia was the only country to vote against the resolution, but, as a permanent member of the Security Council, Russia has veto power.

Russia signed treaties of friendship with Abkhazia and South Ossetia in September 2008 and pledged to guarantee the security of the two territories. Under the mutual assistance pacts, Russia is setting up one military base in each territory and has taken responsibility for guarding the Abkhazian and South Ossetian borders.

Moscow's decision to recognize the independence of the two territories and to commit military forces to their defense further clouds the future of the 1990 CFE Treaty. The treaty, which governs military force levels in Europe, was adapted by its parties in 1999 to take into account the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the expansion of NATO. The adapted treaty has not come into force, pending ratification by the NATO states.

At the 1999 Istanbul summit that produced the Adapted CFE, Russia made a nonbinding "political" commitment to shutter its military bases in Georgia and to reduce its military presence there. Russia continued to maintain a small "peacekeeping" garrison in Abkhazia after the 1999 summit, and NATO countries refused to ratify the adapted treaty while those forces remained in Georgia. (See ACT, January/February 2007.) Frustrated by the NATO refusal to ratify the Adapted CFE, President Vladimir Putin suspended Russia's implementation of the original treaty Dec. 12, 2007. (See ACT, January/February 2008.)

Addressing the Security Council after the vote last month, Rosemary DiCarlo, the U.S. alternative representative for special political affairs at the UN, said the United States "deeply regrets" the failure to extend the UNOMIG mandate and stressed the importance of a UN presence in Georgia.

An EU observer mission is now operating in Georgia, but it will end Oct. 1 unless its mandate is extended by the EU member states. In a June 15 statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry called these observers a "considerable restraining factor" on tensions in the region and said that Russia is "ready to continue and strengthen our cooperation with the European Union in this area." Unlike the UN monitors, however, the EU observers do not have free access to territory inside Abkhazia.

 

Russia voted against extending the mandate of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) in the Security Council June 15, scuttling a last-minute effort to renew the mission's mandate and dealing another blow to the already strained Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty. (Continue)

U.S. Still Committed to Engaging Iran

Peter Crail

Responding to postelection turmoil in Iran and accusations of voting fraud in favor of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Washington has reaffirmed its intention to pursue a dialogue with Tehran regarding its nuclear program.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said during a June 17 press conference with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman that the United States is "obviously waiting to see the outcome of the internal Iranian process, but our intent is to pursue whatever opportunities might exist in the future with Iran." Washington previously expressed an interest in beginning discussions with Iran on its nuclear program following the June 12 elections. (See ACT, June 2009.)

Since then, U.S. officials have cautiously tried to avoid drawing conclusions regarding the results of the Iranian elections, held on June 12, as the results are still in dispute. However, Obama said during a June 16 CNBC interview that concerns regarding Iran's nuclear efforts, as well as its support for U.S.-designated terrorist groups, "would be true whoever came out on top in this election."

"Either way, it's important for the United States to engage in the tough diplomacy around those permanent security concerns that we have-nuclear weapons, funding of terrorism," he said.

IAEA Reports Enrichment Buildup

Against the backdrop of leadership questions in Tehran, Iran has continued to expand its uranium-enrichment activities at its commercial-scale Natanz plant. A June 5 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report indicated that, as of the end of May, Iran had installed a total of about 7,000 centrifuges at that facility. Of those, about 5,000 are running with uranium hexafluoride, the feedstock used to produce enriched uranium, the IAEA said.

Enriched uranium can be used at low concentrations of the uranium-235 isotope to power most nuclear plants; at high concentrations, it can be used in nuclear weapons. Since enrichment operations began in February 2007, Iran has produced about 1,300 kilograms of low-enriched uranium hexafluoride.

The centrifuge expansion at Natanz has now started to take place in the third of five 3,000-centrifuge "units" that Iran has prepared for such installation (see Table 1).

In response to this expansion of the number of centrifuges being installed and the increased production rate for low-enriched uranium, the IAEA indicated that "improvements to the containment and surveillance measures" at the facility are needed for the agency to "fully meet its safeguards objectives." The June 5 report said the agency has held discussions with Iran for that purpose.

During a June 15-19 IAEA Board of Governors meeting, agency Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei questioned the need for the continued expansion of Iran's enrichment plant. "Why is there a rush now for Iran to build its enrichment capability in terms of industrial capacity?" he asked, adding, "There is no commercial need for it right now."

ElBaradei made the comments as part of a reiterated call for a "freeze for freeze," in which Iran halts the additional installation of centrifuges while the UN Security Council agrees not to pursue additional sanctions. Since 2006, the council has demanded that Iran suspend all enrichment operations and has adopted three sanctions resolutions in response to Iran's refusal to comply.

The freeze-for-freeze concept was part of a revamped proposal for negotiations offered by the permanent members of the council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and Germany to Iran last year. (See ACT, July/August 2008.) Iran's response to this parallel freeze proposal is also reportedly being considered as a potential "benchmark" by the six countries to denote progress in negotiations with Tehran on the nuclear issue. (See ACT, June 2009.)

Obama said in May that the United States would review progress in any negotiations by the year's end.

The Associated Press reported June 17 that Geoffrey Pyatt, U.S. deputy chief of mission to the IAEA, told the agency's board during the June meeting that Washington was still open to the freeze-for-freeze idea.

Table 1: Natanz Operations as of May 31, 2009

 

Iran's Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant is intended to house two production halls, A and B, with each hall comprising eight units of 18 centrifuge cascades each. Each cascade contains 164 individual centrifuges. Iran has completed one 18-cascade unit and is currently expanding or preparing to work on four additional units simultaneously. This chart shows where such operations are currently ongoing. The operating cascades are those running with the uranium hexafluoride feedstock used to produce enriched uranium.

Unit Cascades Operating Total Cascades Installed Total Centrifuges
A24 18 18 2,952
A25 Pre-installation work
A26 12 18 2,952
A27 8 (plus 5 centrifuges) 1,317
A28 Pre-installation work
TOTAL 7,221
Source: International Atomic Energy Agency

 

Responding to postelection turmoil in Iran and accusations of voting fraud in favor of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Washington has reaffirmed its intention to pursue a dialogue with Tehran regarding its nuclear program. (Continue)

IAEA Finds Uranium at Second Syrian Site

Peter Crail

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have discovered traces of an undeclared form of uranium at a second Syrian site, according to a June 5 IAEA report. The find adds further questions to a year-long IAEA inquiry into allegations that Syria had secretly pursued nuclear weapons.

The newly discovered uranium traces come from annual environmental samples the agency took in August 2008 from "hot cells," containments that are shielded to allow safe handling of radioactive material. The hot cells are in a facility that also houses Syria's Miniature Neutron Source Reactor, a 30-kilowatt miniature reactor that Syria bought from China in 1991. Such reactors typically are used for training and radioisotope production.

The IAEA described the detected particles as being "of a type not declared at the facility."

The agency indicated that Syria has failed to explain the origin of the chemically processed uranium and that further analysis is needed to determine if there is a connection to similar traces found at a facility Israel destroyed in 2007 at a site called Dair al Zour. Washington claims that the destroyed facility was a nuclear reactor that Damascus was building with North Korean assistance to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons. (See ACT, May 2008.) A senior UN official said in February that the chemical composition of the uranium particles found at that site "could be consistent with uranium used in a nuclear reactor." (See ACT, March 2009.)

A diplomatic source said June 18 that the IAEA is still analyzing the uranium from Dair al Zour.

During a June 15-19 IAEA Board of Governors meeting, Syrian officials sought to downplay the presence of the particles discovered in the hot cells.

The diplomatic source said that Syria claimed during the board meeting that Damascus only recently began using the hot cells once again for student research. According to the source, Syria said the IAEA would be expected to pick up activity from such renewed use.

The Associated Press also quoted Ibrahim Othman, director-general of Syria's Atomic Energy Commission, describing the finding as only "one particle or two particles." Another diplomatic source disputed Othman's claim, telling Arms Control Today June 22 that the agency discovered "a significant number of particles, close to the number found at Dair al Zour."

The United States has called on Syria to cooperate with the IAEA to resolve all unanswered issues raised by the agency. Geoffrey Pyatt, U.S. deputy chief of mission to the IAEA, told the 35-member board that there needed to be an understanding why "material that was not previously declared to the IAEA was detected at two facilities in Syria, one of which was being constructed clandestinely," Agence France-Presse reported June 18.

In addition to seeking answers regarding the uranium particles, the agency has sought an explanation of Syria's efforts to obtain items that could be used in constructing a nuclear reactor. In particular, the IAEA sought to clarify the role of the pumping station on the Euphrates River associated with the destroyed Dair al Zour facility and the purpose of the large quantities of graphite and barium sulfate sought by Syrian entities.

North Korea used graphite as a moderating material to absorb neutrons in its Yongbyon nuclear reactor. Barium sulfate can be used as a shielding material in similar reactors.

According to the June 5 report, Damascus told the IAEA that the pumping station was used for civil water purification. Syria also claimed that the graphite was intended for its steel industry and the barium sulfate for shielding radiation therapy centers, the report said.

The IAEA said that it could not yet confirm these explanations and that a May 24 letter Damascus sent to the agency did not contain any of the requested supporting documentation for Syria's claims.

The agency is also still assessing Syria's denial of alleged cooperation between Syrian and North Korean nuclear scientists and with a North Korean import/export firm.

 

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have discovered traces of an undeclared form of uranium at a second Syrian site, according to a June 5 IAEA report. The find adds further questions to a year-long IAEA inquiry into allegations that Syria had secretly pursued nuclear weapons. (Continue)

Obama Arms Control Team Fills Out

Eben W. Lindsey

Four months after Inauguration Day, President Barack Obama's arms control and nonproliferation team is taking shape.

One important position was filled late last month when the Senate approved the nomination of Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security. Tauscher, whose congressional district contains two national laboratories, has focused on arms control and nonproliferation issues throughout her career. As chair of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, she has worked in Congress to strengthen nonproliferation programs and pushed for greater oversight of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency. At her June 9 confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, she expressed her commitment to Obama's vision of a world without nuclear weapons and indicated that arms reductions by the United States would help the U.S. government promote its nonproliferation goals.

"By reducing our nuclear arsenal, the United States, in my view, will be in a better position to prevent the spread of nuclear as well as chemical and biological weapons," said Tauscher.

The committee's ranking Republican, Sen. Richard Lugar (Ind.), asked her to "answer critics" in the Senate who believe it is inappropriate to conduct negotiations with Russia for a START follow-on agreement before the conclusion of the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). In her response, Tauscher said the U.S. government has "the ability to multitask." While the NPR, which is due to be completed around the end of the year, is in process, there will be ongoing guidance from the Pentagon on "the military requirements for the stockpile and a number of other issues that are informing the negotiations and our negotiator," she said. In her testimony, she also emphasized the importance of concluding a follow-on agreement before the December 5, 2009, expiration of START.

The question of conducting START follow-on talks before the completion of the NPR became a key issue delaying Tauscher's confirmation. After the committee unanimously approved Tauscher's nomination, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) placed a hold on it. Kyl's hold on Tauscher's nomination was reportedly related to the START follow-on talks. Following a briefing by the State Department on the START talks, Kyl dropped the hold June 25, and the full Senate confirmed Tauscher that night under a unanimous consent motion.

Working under Tauscher is Rose Gottemoeller, who has already been confirmed as the assistant secretary of state for verification, compliance, and implementation. She is leading the U.S. delegation to the START follow-on talks with Russia. During the Clinton administration, Gottemoeller served as deputy undersecretary of energy for defense nuclear nonproliferation and was director for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasian affairs in the National Security Council (NSC).

Also reporting to Tauscher is Andrew Shapiro, who was confirmed June 19 as assistant secretary for political and military affairs. From 2001 to 2009, he served as senior defense and foreign policy adviser to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), who is now secretary of state.

In another State Department appointment, the White House announced June 1 that Robert Einhorn had been appointed special adviser to Clinton for nonproliferation and arms control. His office will be located within the Bureau of International Security. Einhorn served as assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation during the Clinton administration. James Timbie will continue in his long-standing role as senior adviser to the undersecretary for international security and nonproliferation.

Also in the State Department, Susan Burk, who led U.S. preparations for the 1995 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review and Extension Conference, was confirmed June 2 as special representative of the president for nuclear nonproliferation. She will lead the U.S. delegation at the 2010 NPT Review Conference. Bonnie Jenkins has been confirmed as the State Department coordinator for threat reduction programs. In addition to serving as a program officer for U.S. foreign and security policy at the Ford Foundation and a research fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, Jenkins was on the staff of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, also known as the 9/11 Commission.

At the White House, Gary Samore is coordinator for arms control and WMD (weapons of mass destruction) terrorism. Samore is a former vice president at the Council on Foreign Relations and previously worked in the Clinton NSC as the senior director for nonproliferation and export controls. Working with Samore is George Look, who is responsible for treaty-based nonproliferation efforts for the White House, including the 2010 NPT Review Conference. Look, a longtime civil servant, formerly was executive director of the Arms Control and Nonproliferation Advisory Board at the State Department.

In the Department of Defense, Andrew C. Weber has been confirmed as assistant to the secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical, and biological defense programs. Weber, whose nomination was confirmed May 18, most recently served as the Defense Department adviser for threat reduction policy and is responsible for the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program, which focuses on weapons of mass destruction and their materials, particularly in the former Soviet Union.

Marcel Lettre II, former national security adviser to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), has been appointed principal director for countering weapons of mass destruction. He works for Rebecca Hersman, deputy assistant secretary of defense for countering weapons of mass destruction.

Edward L. "Ted" Warner, formerly assistant defense secretary for strategy and threat reduction, is working with Gottemoeller as the official representative of the Defense Department to the START follow-on talks with Moscow.

Obama has yet to announce his pick for director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. The acting director is Maj. Gen. Randy E. Manner.

In May, the Senate also approved the nomination of Daniel Poneman to become deputy secretary of energy. Poneman served from 1993 to 1996 as special assistant to the president and senior director for nonproliferation and export controls at the NSC. Before that, he served as White House fellow in the Energy Department under the George H.W. Bush administration.

 

Four months after Inauguration Day, President Barack Obama's arms control and nonproliferation team is taking shape.

One important position was filled late last month when the Senate approved the nomination of Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security. Tauscher, whose congressional district contains two national laboratories, has focused on arms control and nonproliferation issues throughout her career. As chair of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, she has worked in Congress to strengthen nonproliferation programs and pushed for greater oversight of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency. At her June 9 confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, she expressed her commitment to Obama's vision of a world without nuclear weapons and indicated that arms reductions by the United States would help the U.S. government promote its nonproliferation goals. (Continue)

MDA Tests Laser Amid Budget Cutbacks

Eben W. Lindsey

The Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency (MDA) last month successfully tested the tracking components of the Airborne Laser (ABL) system, the agency announced June 15. The tests, which took place June 6 and June 13, mark the first time the ABL system successfully detected and tracked a missile in the boost phase. These tests come amid a series of decisions reducing or eliminating the funding for some missile defense programs.

The ABL is a modified Boeing 747-400F jumbo jet designed to detect, track, and ultimately destroy ballistic missiles during their boost phase, before they have exited Earth's atmosphere. The ABL system was designed to patrol in pairs, utilizing infrared sensors to detect a missile's plume. Once the missile is detected, two low-power, solid-state lasers track the missile and compensate for atmospheric disturbances; a high-power chemical oxygen iodine laser (COIL) then destroys the missile before it exits the atmosphere. According to the press release, the MDA plans to continue testing the tracking system against progressively more difficult targets before carrying out a complete demonstration later this year, when the ABL system will track and destroy a ballistic missile in boost phase.

The ABL system is one of two boost-phase missile defense systems originally planned by the MDA. The other is the ground-based Kinetic Energy Interceptor (KEI). The Department of Defense's fiscal year 2010 budget request does not include funding for the KEI, which was originally developed by the Northrop Grumman Corp. and has received $1.2 billion in funding. The fiscal year 2010 request for the ABL system was $186.7 million, down $214.1 million from the fiscal year 2009 appropriation. (See ACT, June 2009.) The Defense Department plans to use the ABL currently being tested as a "technology demonstrator" and eliminate funding for a second ABL prototype, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee May 14. Funding that had been designated for the second aircraft now will be used for the technology demonstration, he said.

The MDA press release uses the term "prototype" to refer to the existing aircraft, but an MDA spokesperson said nothing should be read into that terminology. The ABL that was tested is a technology demonstrator, "and no additional aircraft are proposed or planned," he said in a June 25 e-mail.

The limited range of the ABL's laser components makes their use in the field tactically unrealistic, Gates said in his testimony. To make proper use of the ABL in the field, 20 of them would have to fly in close orbit of a country suspected of preparing a missile launch, he said.

With funding for the KEI canceled and the ABL project relegated to the role of technology demonstrator, the MDA has no active programs focused on intercepting ballistic missiles in their boost phase. Current programs focus on better-understood technology, such as the AEGIS ballistic missile defense system, a sea-based system that targets missiles during the ascent and descent portions of the midcourse phase, and the land-based Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, which can intercept missiles in their terminal phase as they re-enter the atmosphere.

In total, $9.3 billion has been requested for missile defense programs in President Barack Obama's fiscal year 2010 budget, a reduction of $1.2 billion from the previous year. Gates has said he is reorganizing the missile defense effort to focus more on terminal-phase defenses, which are designed to intercept a missile after it re-enters the atmosphere. (See ACT, May 2009.)

 

The Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency (MDA) last month successfully tested the tracking components of the Airborne Laser (ABL) system, the agency announced June 15. The tests, which took place June 6 and June 13, mark the first time the ABL system successfully detected and tracked a missile in the boost phase. These tests come amid a series of decisions reducing or eliminating the funding for some missile defense programs. (Continue)

GAO Finds Gap in U.S. Export Controls

Emma Ensign

Sensitive dual-use and military technology can be easily and legally purchased within the United States and illegally exported without detection, according to a report issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) last month.

Using a fictitious front company and false identities, the GAO was able to purchase dual-use technology such as electronic sensors often used in improvised explosive devices, accelerometers used in "smart" bombs, and gyro chips used for guiding missiles and military aircraft. The GAO was also able to export the technology without detection to a country that it identified only as "a known transshipment point for terrorist organizations and foreign governments attempting to acquire sensitive technology," the GAO's Gregory Kutz said in congressional testimony June 4. Kutz, managing director for forensic audits and investigations, was a witness at a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, which had requested the GAO probe.

Although items such as the ones the GAO purchased are often subject to export restrictions under the Commerce Control List or the Department of State's U.S. Munitions List, they can be legally obtained from manufacturers and distributors within the United States, often with only a name and a credit card, the report said. According to the report, the items have been and continue to be used against U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Access to that type of sensitive military technology could give terrorists or foreign governments an advantage in a combat situation against the United States, the report said.

Dual-use technology refers to technology that has both conventional and military or proliferation uses. Machinery such as a triggered spark gap, for example, can be used as a high-voltage switch for medical applications and a detonator for a nuclear weapon, the report said.

The report cited officials from several government agencies as saying there is no practical way to prevent such products from leaving the country after they have been purchased by a domestic buyer. The report noted that although regulations are in place to prevent improper use of dual-use and military technology, these regulations focus on controlling exports rather than on securing domestic sales. Currently, there are no legal requirements for the sellers of dual-use or military technology to conduct background checks on prospective domestic customers.

The GAO report highlights "an enormous loophole in the law," Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), chairman of the oversight subcommittee, said in a statement at the hearing. "The stakes cannot be higher."

According to the report, seven of the 12 types of sensitive dual-use and military items obtained during the investigation have previously been the focus of criminal indictments and convictions for violations of export control laws. Additionally, a 2008 report by the U.S. Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute revealed attempts by North Korea to procure dual-use technology from foreign sources for use in that country's guided missile program.

Although there are programs in place to educate manufacturers and distributors on common risks associated with the sale of military or dual-use technology, the lack of controls in place to regulate domestic sales limits the effectiveness of such programs, the GAO report said.

The report suggests that restricting domestic sales of dual-use and military items could be key to preventing the illegal export of such technology.

Seeking a Balance

Many U.S. companies balk at the prospect of more export controls, arguing that they are obstacles to success in the global market. At the confirmation hearing of Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), whose nomination to be undersecretary of state for arms control and international security was approved by the Senate June 25, Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) expressed such concerns.

Because "a lot of technological growth is international," companies would suffer if they "are prohibited from being engaged internationally," he said. Their viability and their "ability to create new technologies to make us safe" would be "compromised if those companies were to relocate in other countries that don't have the same restrictions [as the United States] because they have modernized their national security assessments" that are the basis for export controls, he said at the June 9 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. He asked Tauscher to "review these programs to make sure that we're not disadvantaging American companies" but also to avoid any action that would be "inconsistent with our national security interests, which obviously comes first."

Tauscher said she planned to review U.S. export control policies. She stressed her commitment to protecting dual-use technology on national security grounds, a stance echoed by the GAO report, which stated that "ensuring the effective protection of technologies critical to U.S. national security" was now considered a "high-risk area." However, like Cardin, she noted the need for a balance between commercial and security interests. U.S. policy, she said, has to find the "sweet spot," at which "we are absolutely protecting the national security items, but at the same time, we're cognizant that there's a war of markets for things that can be taken off the list."

The United States, which currently is the leading producer of advanced military and dual-use technology, has become a primary target for illegal procurement efforts launched by terrorists and foreign governments, the GAO report said.

Speaking at the June 4 hearing, Stupak addressed such concerns, saying he hoped to "discuss ways in which government and business can work together to ensure that our technological advantage is not used to jeopardize the safety of our troops, our allies, and our communities here at home."

The issue of illegal retransfers resurfaced later in the month with the June 11 sentencing of Traian Bujduveanu, a naturalized U.S. citizen, who had been convicted for his role in a conspiracy to export dual-use aircraft parts illegally to Iran. Bujduveanu, the owner of Orion Aviation, was sentenced to 35 months in prison for helping to smuggle parts of F-14 fighter jets, Cobra AH-1 attack helicopters, and CH-53A military helicopters.

The Department of Justice has publicly stated that roughly 43 percent of the more than 145 defendants charged in 2008 for violating export controls of restricted military and dual-use technology were attempting to export munitions and other restricted technology to Iran or China.

 

Sensitive dual-use and military technology can be easily and legally purchased within the United States and illegally exported without detection, according to a report issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) last month. (Continue)

S. Korean Pyroprocessing Awaits U.S. Decision

Daniel Horner

The Obama administration appears likely to make a decision that could complicate potential South Korean pursuit of a controversial spent fuel treatment process known as pyroprocessing, according to comments by current and former U.S. officials.

They say the administration probably will classify pyroprocessing as reprocessing, a decision that could place certain restrictions on South Korea's development of the process.

Pyroprocessing differs from PUREX (plutonium-uranium extraction) reprocessing, which has been used in nuclear energy and weapons programs around the world, because the plutonium separated from spent fuel by pyroprocessing remains mixed with other elements. Advocates of pyroprocessing say the difference makes the process significantly less proliferation-prone than PUREX and that pyroprocessing therefore should not be considered reprocessing. Many nonproliferation advocates say the differences are not very significant from a nonproliferation standpoint.

Questions about pyroprocessing have gained prominence as South Korea and the United States renegotiate their agreement for civil nuclear cooperation, which expires in 2014. Under the agreement, the United States can restrict South Korean research in areas such as reprocessing.

The U.S. government has been divided on whether pyroprocessing is reprocessing. In a rare public statement on the issue in May 2008 at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, Carter "Buzz" Savage, director of fuel cycle research and development in the Department of Energy, said pyroprocessing "obviously" is reprocessing if one carries out "the full flow sheet," the sequence of activities followed in the process.

In an interview last month, Savage said the Obama administration was still in the process of developing a broader policy statement that would encompass that issue. But he referred back to his Carnegie statement and suggested that the new policy was likely to be consistent with that. As he had in his Carnegie remarks, he emphasized that the pyroprocessing issue was only one element of South Korean-U.S. cooperation.

Frank von Hippel, a Princeton University professor who served as a nonproliferation official in the Clinton administration, said in a June 15 e-mail that he believes the Obama administration has defined pyroprocessing as reprocessing. Von Hippel is a leading advocate of the view that pyroprocessing is reprocessing.

Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), the Foreign Relations Committee's ranking member, appeared to be seeking information on that point when he posed a written question to Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), as part of her confirmation process to be undersecretary of state for arms control and international security (see page 37). Lugar asked if an agreement that "allowed any form of reprocessing" to take place in South Korea would violate the 1992 Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. One provision in the declaration states that North Korea and South Korea "shall not possess nuclear reprocessing and uranium enrichment facilities."

Tauscher replied, "I believe that the existence of a reprocessing plant in [South Korea] would be inconsistent with the commitments made in the 1992 joint declaration." She did not repeat Lugar's "any form of reprocessing" formulation.

Although Tauscher was not an administration official when she provided the answer, such responses generally can be assumed to reflect an administration's position.

The Department of State did not respond to requests for elaboration on Tauscher's answer.

 

The Obama administration appears likely to make a decision that could complicate potential South Korean pursuit of a controversial spent fuel treatment process known as pyroprocessing, according to comments by current and former U.S. officials. (Continue)

UN Tightens North Korea Sanctions

Peter Crail

The UN Security Council last month broadly expanded sanctions and counterproliferation measures against North Korea in response to that country's May 25 nuclear test.

Resolution 1874, which the council unanimously adopted June 12, builds on the measures the council took in 2006 when it adopted Resolution 1718 in response to North Korea's first nuclear test.

U.S. officials said that there is greater focus on enforcing sanctions this time around. The international community did not use all of the measures available under Resolution 1718 because North Korea re-entered denuclearization talks shortly after that resolution was adopted.

Stephen Bosworth, U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee June 11 that "as we move forward, we are going to continue to be very concerned about implementation [of the renewed sanctions], and I would expect that other countries will be as well."

The 34-paragraph resolution features an intensified inspection regime to prevent proliferation to and from North Korea, calls for enhanced financial restrictions against North Korea and North Korean firms, a nearly comprehensive arms embargo on the country, and strengthened council oversight over the implementation of the resolution (see sidebar). The council also reiterated demands that Pyongyang not conduct any further nuclear or missile tests, return to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and verifiably abandon all nuclear programs.

The council agreed on a number of provisions intended to strengthen the implementation of sanctions against North Korea. But, at the urging of China and Russia, some of those provisions were turned from requirements into recommendations, diplomatic sources said in June. In particular, the resolution "calls on" states to enact a number of financial restrictions against North Korea as well as carry out inspections of suspected shipments that violate the sanctions, rather than making such steps mandatory.

The resolution also calls on states to take more extensive measures to limit financial dealings with North Korea and North Korean entities. Although Resolution 1718 required that states freeze the assets of North Korean entities blacklisted by the council, Resolution 1874 recommended similar actions against any North Korean assets within their jurisdiction if those assets could contribute to Pyongyang's nonconventional weapons programs. The council also called for states to withhold public financial support for trade with North Korea that could aid such programs.

In support of these financial restrictions, the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued an advisory June 18 recommending that U.S. financial institutions take "commensurate risk mitigation measures," in light of the financial restrictions called for by Resolutions 1718 and 1874. The Treasury Department stated that there is an "increased likelihood" that North Korean financial institutions will use deceptive practices to circumvent sanctions and urged "enhanced scrutiny" over North Korean accounts and transactions.

Diplomatic sources said in June that such recommendations had little relevance for U.S. financial institutions, which do not generally do business with North Korea, but may have an impact if banks in Asia and Europe move to follow suit.

The new resolution also calls for "adjustments" to the items and North Korean entities falling under the sanctions. Baki Ilkin, Turkish permanent representative to the United Nations and chair of the Security Council's 1718 Committee, told reporters June 19 that he received lists from some countries regarding additional North Korean entities to blacklist.

Resolution 1718 called for the council to designate entities suspected of involvement with North Korea's nonconventional weapons programs. However, no entities were placed on the committee's blacklist until last April, when the council responded to a North Korean rocket launch. (See ACT, May 2009.) At that time, the council sanctioned three North Korean firms from lists of 11 firms provided by Washington and 14 by Tokyo.

Addressing the issue of enforcement, the council called on states to take additional steps to inspect shipments suspected of violating the sanctions on North Korea. Such steps include the potential for inspecting vessels on the high seas with the consent of the flag state of the ship in question and providing the legal authority to seize and dispose of any materials or weapons found. Resolution 1874 also requires that states not provide "bunkering services," such as fuel or other supplies, to North Korean vessels suspected of violating sanctions.

William Newcomb, a former senior economic adviser to the Intelligence and Analysis Office at the Treasury Department, told a United States Institute of Peace audience June 10 that North Korean ships are fairly small and cannot travel far without refueling.

Although the resolution raises the possibility of stranding suspect North Korean vessels, it does not provide for the forcible boarding of ships that refuse inspections. China in particular insisted that such forcible boarding not be permitted. Following the adoption of Resolution 1874, Chinese Permanent Representative to the UN Zhang Yesui told reporters that states must "act prudently and with sufficient grounds" with regard to cargo inspections and "under no circumstances should there be the use of force, or the threat of the use of force."

North Korea has said that it would view attempts to board its ships as an act of war.

It appears that the United States intends to refrain from forcing such inspections. Diplomatic sources told Arms Control Today in June that, in spite of the prospect of high-seas interdiction raised in Resolution 1874, U.S. enforcement of the sanctions will still rely primarily on cooperation from states in the region to carry out inspections.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell appeared to hint at this cooperation during a June 24 press briefing, stating that the United States would not make a decision to confront suspicious ships alone. "[T]hat is a decision I think we will likely take collectively with our allies and partners out there," he said.

Morrell was responding to questions regarding a North Korean ship, the Kang Nam, that the United States had been tracking. He said the ship "has a particular history that makes it more of interest" but stressed that the United States has been "interested in North Korean ships for some time." Morrell appeared to be referring to past suspicions that the Kang Nam was involved in proliferation from North Korea.

North Korea Rejects Resolution

North Korea reacted to Resolution 1874 by issuing a Foreign Ministry statement June 13 condemning the UN action and outlining "countermeasures" Pyongyang would take, including the development of a uranium-enrichment program.

The statement was the first time that North Korea has publicly admitted to pursuing a uranium-enrichment program. The United States has long suspected North Korea of maintaining such an effort as a second route to nuclear weapons, and the issue was critical in the 2002 collapse of a 1994 denuclearization agreement between Washington and Pyongyang. (See ACT, November 2002.) Pyongyang reportedly agreed to address those suspicions last year in six-way negotiations as part of a secret side document. (See ACT, May 2008.)

Uranium enrichment can be used to produce low-enriched fuel for nuclear power plants or high-enriched material that can serve as the explosive core in nuclear weapons.

The June 13 statement claimed that North Korea would be pursuing uranium enrichment to provide fuel for a light-water reactor it intended to construct. North Korea said it has been working on developing this capability and that "enough success has been made in developing uranium enrichment technology to provide nuclear fuel" for such reactors.

The other steps Pyongyang said it would take in response to the UN measure included weaponizing all newly separated plutonium and meeting "an attempted blockade of any kind" with "a decisive military response."

Following the Security Council's condemnation of North Korea's rocket launch in April, Pyongyang stated that it would reprocess the spent fuel from its Yongbyon reactor, estimated to contain enough plutonium for one or two additional nuclear weapons. (See ACT, May 2009.) North Korea shut down that reactor as part of a February 2007 aid-for-denuclearization agreement. (See ACT, March 2007.) The June 13 statement said that North Korea has reprocessed "more than one third" of this material.

Moreover, Pyongyang also sought to dispel the notion that it would denuclearize, stating that "[i]t has become an absolutely impossible option" for North Korea "to even think about giving up its nuclear weapons."

Following through on a pledge made earlier this year, Pyongyang also appears to be readying a test of a long-range ballistic missile. The Japanese newspaper Daily Yomiuri reported July 18 that North Korea is preparing a launch of its longest-ranged missile, the Taepo Dong-2, in the direction of Hawaii.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told reporters June 18 that the United States has deployed certain missile defense assets in response to a potential missile test. "We do have some concerns if [North Korea] were to launch a missile in the direction of Hawaii," he said.

The deployments include transferring additional Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missiles to Hawaii and sending the sea-based X-band radar, which has been docked at Pearl Harbor since 2007 for maintenance and upgrades, into the Pacific Ocean. THAAD missiles are designed to shoot down incoming ballistic missiles during their final flight phase while the X-band radar is intended to track incoming warheads and single them out from decoys.

UN Security Council Resolution 1874 on North Korea

The UN Security Council last month unanimously adopted Resolution 1874 condemning North Korea's second nuclear test. The June 12 resolution expands on the sanctions and inspection provisions contained in Resolution 1718, which the council adopted in 2006 in response to Pyongyang's first nuclear test. Both resolutions were adopted under Article 41 of the UN Charter, which authorizes the Security Council to take nonmilitary punitive actions against a state. The following is a summary of the key additions in Resolution 1874, in which the Security Council:

  • Prohibits North Korea from exporting:

1) any arms or related materiel, or providing financial transactions, technical training, services, or assistance related to such arms; and

2) all items on an expanded Nuclear Suppliers Group trigger list and dual-use materials and technologies list, as well as any technical training, advice, or other services related to them.

  • Prohibits states from procuring the above items or related assistance from North Korea.
  • Decides that states shall not supply, directly or indirectly, any of the above arms or items or relevant services to North Korea, with the exception of small arms and light weapons.
  • Calls on states to "exercise vigilance" over the supply of small arms and light weapons to North Korea and requires states to notify the Security Council's North Korea sanctions committee (the 1718 Committee) at least five days prior to any such sale or transfer.
  • Calls on states to inspect all cargo to and from North Korea in their territory, including seaports and airports, as well as ships on the high seas, with the consent of the flag state, if the state "has information that provides reasonable grounds to believe" that the cargo contains items prohibited by Resolutions 1718 and 1874.
  • Calls on states to cooperate with inspections and, if the flag state does not consent to inspection on the high seas, to require the flag state to direct the vessel to the nearest port for required inspection by local authorities.
  • Authorizes states to seize and dispose of items prohibited under Resolutions 1718 and 1874 that are identified in any inspections.
  • Requires states to report to the 1718 Committee any inspections, seizures, and disposals of cargo that are conducted as part of the resolution's implementation.
  • Requires states to prohibit the provision of bunkering services, including fuel, supplies, or any other servicing of vessels, to North Korean vessels if the states "have information that provides reasonable grounds to believe" the vessels are transporting items prohibited by Resolutions 1718 and 1874. Services that are necessary on humanitarian grounds are exempt from this requirement.
  • Calls on states not to provide financial services or allow the transfer to, through, or from their jurisdiction any assets or resources that could contribute to North Korea's nonconventional weapons programs. Such steps may include freezing assets within their jurisdiction associated with such programs and "applying enhanced monitoring to prevent all such transactions," consistent with the countries' national laws. Also calls on states not to provide public financial support for trade with North Korea that could contribute to such programs, including granting export credits, guarantees, or insurance.
  • Calls on states and international financial and credit institutions "not to enter into new commitments for grants, financial assistance, or concessional loans" to North Korea "except for humanitarian and developmental purposes directly addressing the needs of the civilian population."
  • Calls on states to report to the council within 45 days on steps taken to implement the sanctions in Resolutions 1718 and 1874.
  • Requests that the UN secretary-general create a panel of up to seven experts to assist in the work of the 1718 Committee, including by analyzing information provided by states and providing recommendations on actions the council or states may consider to improve implementation.


The UN Security Council last month broadly expanded sanctions and counterproliferation measures against North Korea in response to that country's May 25 nuclear test.

Resolution 1874, which the council unanimously adopted June 12, builds on the measures the council took in 2006 when it adopted Resolution 1718 in response to North Korea's first nuclear test. (Continue)

Accord on New Rules Eludes Nuclear Suppliers

Daniel Horner

Nuclear supplier countries last month ended their annual plenary meeting without agreeing on new rules for exports related to uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing.

In a June 12 statement issued at the close of a meeting in Budapest, the 46-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) said its members had "agreed to continue to work to strengthen" the group's guidelines in that area. Equipment and technology related to enrichment and reprocessing are considered to be particularly sensitive types of nuclear exports because those processes can produce material that is usable in a nuclear weapon.

The current NSG guidelines contain only a general instruction to exercise "restraint" in sensitive exports. The suppliers have been working for years to adopt a more rigorous standard. They have agreed to use a so-called criteria-based approach, under which recipients of sensitive exports would have to meet a list of preset requirements. However, the NSG members have not been able to agree on the specific list of criteria.

At the end of last year, the suppliers appeared to be closing in on an agreement, in large part because the United States and Canada had reached a compromise on rules for enrichment-related exports. (See ACT, December 2008.) Canada's objections to more stringent rules had been one of the main obstacles to an accord.

But since then, current and former diplomats said, other countries have raised objections to various parts of the proposal. Two sources mentioned Turkey as a country voicing objections. Other countries previously mentioned as having concerns include Brazil, South Africa, and South Korea.

According to sources familiar with the proposal, the criteria fall into two groups, "objective" and "subjective." The objective criteria would cover issues such as whether the country is a party to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and has agreed to an additional protocol to its International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards agreement. Such protocols give the agency inspectors more latitude than they have under standard safeguards agreements.

Subjective criteria would require potential exporters to consider issues such as whether the export would undermine regional stability and if the recipient country was in a volatile region. Turkey is concerned that its access to sensitive exports could be restricted if it were considered part of the Middle East, the diplomatic sources said.

According to a former U.S. diplomat, some European countries expressed concern that the arrangement would impose additional restrictions on their access to enrichment technology if they one day joined Urenco, the British-Dutch-German enrichment consortium.

U.S. Sees Progress

The NSG "made progress" in Budapest toward reaching agreement on new rules for enrichment and reprocessing exports, an official from the U.S. Department of State said in a June 25 e-mail. The NSG "agreed that efforts to reach consensus should continue over the summer and prior to the next regular meeting of the NSG Consultative Group this fall," the official said. According to the NSG's Web site, the consultative group is the NSG's "standing intersessional working body." The consultative group typically meets several times a year and, like the NSG as a whole, makes decisions by consensus.

As it generally does, the consultative group met during the days just before the plenary in Budapest. There was no consensus on the export criteria, a diplomat from a key NSG country said. Sometimes, if there is only one country standing in the way of consensus, an issue will be forwarded to the plenary, where higher-level officials might be able to break the deadlock, he said. But pushing an issue to the plenary when there is broader disagreement could "ruin it," he said.

He said some of his fellow diplomats believed the June meeting was "a decisive moment" and that the failure to reach an agreement there could be a "bad indicator."

According to the former U.S. diplomat, many NSG countries want to resolve the issue and put it behind them. But when asked if he thought they were near agreement, he replied, "I wouldn't say that."

Last September, during final negotiations between the U.S. Congress and the Bush administration over the U.S.-Indian civilian nuclear cooperation agreement, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice promised Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) that the United States would press for an agreement on new NSG guidelines for enrichment and reprocessing. (See ACT, October 2008.)

In a Sept. 26 statement, Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Rice had pledged that the "highest priority" of the United States at a November 2008 NSG meeting would be to reach an agreement to ban enrichment and reprocessing exports to countries that are not parties to the NPT. India is not an NPT party.

In the June 25 e-mail, the State Department official said, "The United States continues to believe that strengthening the NSG Guidelines as they apply to transfers of sensitive enrichment and reprocessing equipment and technologies is a major priority."

 

Russia, U.S. Lag on Chemical Arms Deadline

Rachel A. Weise

The likely failure of Russia and the United States, the holders of the world's largest stockpiles of chemical weapons, to meet a key treaty deadline for destroying their stocks is prompting varying responses from experts. In recent public statements and interviews, officials involved in the process emphasized the progress and commitment of the two countries, while independent experts expressed concern about the effect of the missed deadline on the nonproliferation regime.

Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) must irreversibly destroy their stockpiles of chemical weapons by April 29, 2012. As of June 24, 188 countries were parties to the convention, and two more countries had signed but not yet ratified it.

The CWC is testimony to how "successful and fruitful" the cooperation between Russia and the United States can be, Rogelio Pfirter, director-general of the treaty secretariat, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in the Hague, said June 16. In a speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, Pfirter, whose term as OPCW director-general ends next year, declined to speculate whether the two countries would meet the CWC destruction deadline. He acknowledged that "time is short" because so many weapons remain to be destroyed by 2012.

But he also said it is important not to "trump up" possible scenarios. Other CWC member states should wait to see how Russia and the United States progress as the deadline approaches, he said. When his successor and the representatives of the CWC's member states wake up on the morning of April 30, 2012, they will need to reassess the status of the chemical weapons destruction effort and determine if the possessor states were negligent in meeting their commitments, he said.

In his remarks, Pfirter emphasized the progress made by Russia and the United States toward meeting the treaty's requirements. "I applaud the Russian government's commitment" to chemical demilitarization, he said. He also said he has "no doubt" about the U.S. commitment to the CWC, although estimates for when the United States will complete destruction of its chemical weapons stockpile have varied. In November 2006, the U.S. Department of Defense announced that destruction would not be complete until 2020 and 2023 at the chemical weapons depots in Pueblo, Colorado, and Blue Grass, Kentucky, respectively. Increased funding may hasten the demilitarization process, a knowledgeable U.S. official said.

Russia's progress is expected to be slower. Although the May 2009 formal opening of the Shchuchye chemical agent destruction facility brings Russia one step closer to fulfilling its CWC obligations, there is still a sizable stockpile of Russian chemical weapons awaiting destruction. Jonathan B. Tucker, a senior fellow at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Washington, said he was highly skeptical that Russia will meet the treaty deadline. Although not disputing that assessment, the U.S. official said the United States believes that Russia has "demonstrated complete commitment" to its CWC obligations.

Russian Destruction Process

In addition to the challenge presented by the approximately 28,000 metric tons of chemical weapons in Russia that remain to be destroyed, some observers are concerned about the demilitarization process that Russia is using. At certain facilities, Russia has carried out the first part of the chemical weapons destruction process but has not taken the subsequent steps needed for complete destruction as specified in the CWC. For example, at the Leonidovka destruction site, Russia has drained the toxic fill from many munitions and used a chemical process to neutralize the warfare agents, but it has just started incinerating the delivery vehicles and the neutralized liquids, Pfirter explained in a speech to the OPCW executive council in April. For that reason, the OPCW has not yet formally recognized any chemical weapons destruction at Leonidovka despite much activity there.

Failure to destroy all chemical weapons components irreversibly can have serious repercussions for the nonproliferation regime, Tucker said. It would be relatively easy for someone to refill an empty munition with a chemical agent to reconstitute a chemical weapon, said Paul Walker, director of security and sustainability at Global Green USA. Security has improved at many of Russia's chemical weapons storage sites, he added, but the risk of refilling bomb or shell casings will remain as long as the munitions exist.

Walker further cautioned that Russia's partial demilitarization process could set a "dangerous precedent" if the OPCW grants Russia destruction credit for separating chemical weapons into their various components before it has irreversibly destroyed them. The danger is that a CWC nonsignatory, such as Syria, might later accede to the CWC, demilitarize in a manner similar to Russia, receive credit for destruction prematurely, and then secretly recover the chemical warfare agent from the neutralized reaction mass or refill empty munitions with new agents, he said. According to the U.S. official, Moscow and the OPCW negotiated modified procedures specifically for Russia, granting it demilitarization credit earlier in the destruction process to help it meet the 2012 deadline. Walker said that Russia received destruction credit for neutralizing nerve agents at the Maradykovsky destruction site even though it has not destroyed the associated bomb casings. In another instance, the OPCW granted Russia destruction credit after it neutralized chemical agents but before it incinerated the reaction mass, Walker said. Although the OPCW has been fairly lenient to date on this issue, it might become stricter as the 2012 deadline approaches because Iran, which is a party to the treaty, has expressed concern about Russia's receiving credit for destruction prior to reaching an irreversible end point, Walker said. (See ACT, May 2008.)

At the opening ceremony for the Shchuchye chemical weapons destruction facility, Russian Industry Minister Viktor Khristenko said that Russia is on schedule to meet the CWC deadline and that it will have destroyed 45 percent of its arsenal by the end of this year.

To date, the United States has destroyed about 60 percent of its stockpile. The United States "is very committed to finishing the job," the U.S. official said. In recent years, the Defense Department has sped up demilitarization by allocating more funds and building new destruction facilities, he said. In 2006 the United States was projected to have destroyed only about two-thirds of its stockpile by 2012; the current estimate of 90 percent destroyed by 2012 reflects the increased pace, he said.

Potential Repercussions

Although the CWC does not impose automatic sanctions in cases of noncompliance, there could be serious political fallout if Russia and the United States have not completely destroyed their stockpiles by the 2012 deadline, Tucker and Walker said.

Some CWC member states have voiced concern at the slow pace of U.S. disarmament. During the CWC's second review conference in April 2008, Iran rebuked "major possessor states" for insufficient progress toward the 2012 deadline, adding that the destruction delay "is a matter of serious concern" because it indicates a state's intention to retain certain stockpiles for military purposes. Walker noted that a U.S. failure to meet the CWC destruction deadline would weaken its negotiating position with Iran, North Korea (a nonsignatory of the CWC), and other countries that Washington has criticized for breaking international law.

Amending the CWC to extend the destruction deadline seems very unlikely, in large part because of the difficult process that the treaty has established for making amendments, Walker said.

Russia and the United States are inclined to oppose that approach anyway because opening the CWC to amendment could bring about unwanted changes, Walker and the U.S. official said. Two examples are Iran's call for the abolition of export controls on certain chemical agents and other states' desire to reduce the monitoring of industrial plants that produce dual-use chemicals, the official said.

 

The likely failure of Russia and the United States, the holders of the world's largest stockpiles of chemical weapons, to meet a key treaty deadline for destroying their stocks is prompting varying responses from experts. In recent public statements and interviews, officials involved in the process emphasized the progress and commitment of the two countries, while independent experts expressed concern about the effect of the missed deadline on the nonproliferation regime. (Continue)

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