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"ACA's journal, Arms Control Today, remains the best in the market. Well focused. Solidly researched. Prudent."

– Hans Blix,
Former IAEA Director-General
October 2009
Edition Date: 
Monday, October 5, 2009
Cover Image: 

October 2009 Bibliography

Of Special Interest

Baker, Peter, Kulish, Nicholas, “White House to Scrap Bush’s Approval to Missile Shield,” New York Times, September 17, 2009.

Coats, Daniel, Robb, Charles, Wald, Charles, Meeting the Challenge: Time is Running Out, The Bipartisan Policy Center, September 15, 2009.

Obama, Barack, “Obama’s Remarks on Missile Defense,” New York Times, September 17, 2009.

Obama, Barack, Brown, Gordon, Sarkozy, Nicolas, “Transcript: Remarks on Iranian Nuclear Program,” New York Times, September 25, 2009.

Schulte, Gregory L., “Damascus Deception,” Foreign Policy, September 2, 2009.

Shanker, Thom, “Despite Slump, U.S. Role as Top Arms Supplier Grows,” New York Times, September 6, 2009.

United Kingdom, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, “P5 Statement on Disarmament and Nonproliferation Issues,” September 3, 2009.

I.    Strategic Arms

The Asahi Shimbun, “Nuclear Disarmament,” September 14, 2009.

BBC News, “Russia: Offensive, Defensive Arms Relationship Said Key To New START Document,” September 7, 2009.

Lugar, Richard G., “Nunn-Lugar Program August Update,” September 28, 2009.

Reuters, “Russia Says Progress Made on U.S. Nuclear Arms Deal,” September 3, 2009.

RIA Novosti, “Russia to Dismantle 191 Nuclear Submarines by Late 2010,” September 29, 2009.

RIA Novosti, “Russian Bombers Test High-Precision Weaponry During Drills,” September 28, 2009.

The Scotsman, “Scrap Trident Says UK Survey,” September 8, 2009.

Xinhua Economic News Service, “China Committed to Peaceful Nuclear Policy – Atomic Energy Official,” September 15, 2009.

II.    Nuclear Proliferation

The Economist, “Proliferation from North Korea and Iran: Will Russia and China Pitch In?” September 10, 2009.

Lederer, Edith M., “Egypt Warns of Mideast Nuclear Arms Race,” The Associated Press, September 25, 2009.

Lekic, Slobodan, “Syria Calls for Israel to Join Nuclear Treaty,” The Associated Press, September 29, 2009.

Sibaja, Marco, “Brazil VP Says Country Should Build Nuclear Arms,” The Associated Press, September 25, 2009.

Iran

Afrasiabi, Kaveh L.,“U.S. Faces Tough Choice on Iran,” Asia Times Online, September 4, 2009.

Blitz, James, Dombey, Daniel, “EU Casts Doubt on Iranian Proposals in Nuclear Dispute,” Financial Times, September 10, 2009.

Borger, Julian, “‘Secret Annexe’ to UN Nuclear Inspection Agency Report Reveals Iran Has ‘Sufficient Information’ to Make a Nuclear Weapon,” The Guardian, September 18, 2009.

Broad, William J., Mazzetti, Mark, Sanger, David E., “A Nuclear Debate: Is Iran Designing Warheads?” New York Times, September 28, 2009.

Coats, Daniel, Robb, Charles, Wald, Charles, “Taking Iran Seriously,” The Wall Street Journal, September 10, 2009.

Cohen, Eliot A., “There Are Only Two Choices Left on Iran,” The Wall Street Journal, September 27, 2009.

Cohen, Roger, “The U.S. – Iranian Triangle,” New York Times, September 28, 2009.

Dahl, Fredrick and Derakhshi, Reza, “Iran Presents Negotiation Offer to UN Powers,” Reuters, September 9, 2009.

Damianova, Julia, “Iran Makes Nuclear Talk Offer; Details Unclear; U.S., Allies Condemn Uranium Work They Suspect Is For Bomb Program,” Chicago Tribune, September 10, 2009.

Erdbrink, Thomas, “Iranian Invites Six Powers to Tehran,” The Washington Post, September 8, 2009.

Faashi, Farnaz, “Khamenei Offers No Compromises,” The Wall Street Journal, September 12, 2009.

Heinrich, Mark, “IAEA’s Poor Nations Split On Iran’s Attack Bid,” Reuters, September 16, 2009.

Kessler, Glen, “U.S. Accepts Offer From Tehran for Broad Talks,” The Washington Post, September 12, 2009.

Lauria, Joe, “Ahmadinejad: Iran Isn’t Breaking Rules,” The Wall Street Journal, September 25, 2009.

Levy, Clifford J., “Russia Say Sanctions Against Iran Unlikely,” New York Times, September 10, 2009.

Oster, Shai, “China’s Oil Needs Affects its Iran Ties,” The Wall Street Journal, September 28, 2009.

Porter, Gareth, “Crucial Iran Nuclear Evidence ‘Covered Up’,” Asia Times Online, September 16, 2009.

Reuters, “Russia’s Medvedev Does Not Rule Out Iran Sanctions,” September 15, 2009.

Reuters, “Israeli Chief: Iran Not an Existential Threat,” September 17, 2009.

Sanger,  David E., “U.S. Says Iran Could Expedite Nuclear Bomb,” New York Times, September 9, 2009.

Sanger, David E., “U.S. and Allies Warn Iran Over Nuclear ‘Deception’,” New York Times, September 25, 2009.

Slackman, Michael, “Possibility of Nuclear-Armed Iran Alarms Arabs,” New York Times, September 30, 2009.

Solomon, Jay, “Iran Agrees to Meeting on Nuclear Program,” The Wall Street Journal¸ September 15, 2009.

Warrick, Joby, “Iran’s Envoy Sees Upcoming Talks as an Opening,” The Washington Post, September 18, 2009.

White, Gregory L., “Medvedev Leaves Wiggle Room on Sanctions,” The Wall Street Journal, September 28, 2009.

Worth, Robert F., “Nuclear Agency Said to be in ‘Stalemate’ with Iran,” New York Times, September 7, 2009.


North Korea


Heinrich, Mark, “U.S. Urges World to Enforce North Korea Sanctions,” Reuters, September 8, 2009.

Herskovitz, Jon, “U.S. Seeks Clarity from North Korea on Uranium,” Reuters, September 6, 2009.

Hwang, Doo-hyong, “UN to Take Action After Hearing Report on North Korean Arms Seizure: Rice,” Yonhap News, September 2, 2009.

Kim, Ji-hyun, “Korea, U.S. to Fine-Tune Stance on North Korea,” The Korea Herald, September 30, 2009.

Kim, Hyung-Jin, “U.S. Open to Dialogue With North Korea,” Time, September 30, 2009.

Matishak, Martin, “Pacific Command Chief Says North Korean Proliferation Not ‘Under Control’,” Global Security Newswire, September 16, 2009.

Sue-young, Kim, “Sept, Oct Critical Moment for North Korea Issues,” Korea Times, September 13, 2009.

Wall Street Journal, “Kim’s Uranium Spin,” The Wall Street Journal, September 10, 2009.

Pakistan

Agence France-Presse, “U.S. Satisfied with Pakistan’s Nuclear Security,” September 8, 2009.

Agence France-Presse, “Pakistani Court Delays Nuclear Scientist’s Case,” September 14, 2009.

Global Security Newswire, “Pakistan Bolstered Security After Sept. 11, Analysis Says,” September 11, 2009.

Smith, R. Jeffrey, “Pakistani Scientist Cites Help to Iran: Official Aid for Nuclear Program Claimed,” The Washington Post, September 9, 2009.

Syria

Global Security Newswire, “EU Presses Syria to Explain Uranium Traces,” September 10, 2009.

United Press International, “EU Urges Syria to Come Clean on Uranium,” September 9, 2009.

III.    Nonproliferation

Dorling, Philip, “Call to Mix Uranium Sales and Nuclear Ban,” Canberra Times, September 18, 2009.

Lederer, C. P., “U.S. Hopes World Leaders at UN Meeting Chaired By Obama Will Back Nuclear Nonproliferation,” The Canadian Press, September 2, 2009.

United Press International, “Kazakh Offer to Host Nuclear Fuel Bank,” September 28, 2009.

IV. Missiles and Missile Defense

Adelman, Kenneth, “A Long-Term Fix for Medium-Range Arms,” New York Times, September 25, 2009.

Agence France-Presse, “Iran Says Developed Anti-Cruise Missile System,” September 7, 2009.
Agence France-Presse, “Japan Missiles Interception Test Succeeds,” Sydney Morning Herald, September 17, 2009.

Associated Press, “Russian FM Denies S-300 Missiles on Hijacked Ship,” New York Times, September 8, 2009.

Borger, Julian, “Obama’s Missile Rethink: The Ball is Now in Moscow’s Court,” The Guardian, September 17, 2009.

DiMascio, Jen, “European Missile Defense Reviewed,” Politico, September 10, 2009.

Global Security Newswire, “Turkey Set to Pay $7.8B for U.S. Missile Defenses,” September 15, 2009.

Minnick, Wendell, “Beijing Rehearsal Shows Off New Missiles,” Defense News, September 8, 2009.

New York Times, “Editorial: Missile Sense,” September 18, 2009.

Pollack, Joshua, “Getting Back to Basics on Missile Defense,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, September 15, 2009.

Ravid, Barak, “PM’s Secret Moscow Visit Was Part of Campaign Against Missile Sales to Iran,” Haaretz, September 11, 2009.

Reuters, “In Restive Med, U.S. Ship Eyes Risk of Missile War,” New York Times, September 8, 2009.

RIA Novosti, “Solomonov to Keep Working on Bulava Development,” September 15, 2009.

RIA Novosti, “U.S. Could Deploy Missile Shield in Arctic – Russia’s NATO Envoy,” September 28, 2009.

Spiegel, Peter, “McCain: Obama Decision Missile Shield ‘Seriously Misguided’,” The Wall Street Journal, September 17, 2009.

Sweeney, Conor, “Russia Still Cool On New U.S. Anti-Missile Scheme,” The Washington Post, September 29, 2009.

Traynor, Ian, “Europe Reacts, Obama Dropping Missile Defense Shield,” The Guardian, September 17, 2009.

V. Chemical and Biological Arms

Agence France Presse, “US Senators Move to Guard Against Bio Attack,” September 8, 2009.

Associated Press, “US Chemical Disposal Plant Properly Closed,” September 1, 2009.

Cary, Annette, “Plan Being Made for Chemical Depot’s Future,” The News Tribune, September 13, 2009.

Finley, Bruce, “Army to Boost Checks of Pueblo Chemicals,” The Denver Post, September 10, 2009.

The Jerusalem Post, “Hizbullah Arms Cache that Exploded Contained Chemical Weapons,” September 3, 2009.

Matishak, Martin, “No ‘Silver Bullet’ Against Extremists at U.S. Biodefense Labs, Security Report Says,” Global Security Newswire, September 30, 2009.

Strohm, Chris, “Obama Deals Blow to Chemical Industry,” CongressDaily, October 2, 2009.

United Press International, “A New Anthrax Vaccine is Under Development,” September 9, 2009.

VI. Conventional Arms

Agence France-Presse, “U.S., Venezuela Blame Each Other For South American ‘Arms Race’,” September 15, 2009.

Baldwin, Tom, “Political Help Behind Libya Arms Trade, Says Official,” The Times, September 5, 2009.

The Economist, “Attack of the Drones: Smaller and Smarter Unmanned Aircraft are Transforming Spying and Redefining the Idea of Air Power,” September 3, 2009.

The Economist, “Guns in Africa: Out of Control,” September 10, 2009.

Grushenko, Kateryna, “UK Looks into Ukrainian Arms,” The Kyiv Post, September 9, 2009.

International Relations and Security Network, “Costs of War: Dollar Deals,” September 15, 2009.

Jung, Sung-ki, “South Korea May Cut Fighters, Helo, in 2010 Budget,” Defense News, September 7, 2009.

Military News, “Russia Ready to Supply Tanks to Venezuela – Medvedev,” September 10, 2009.

United Press International, “Israel Eyes Big Arms Sale in Africa,” September 14, 2009.

Weitz, Richard, “Chavez Trades Oil for Arms in Moscow,” World Politics Review, September 15, 2009.

VII. U.S. Policy

Butler, Desmond, “Obama Facing Hurdles to Nuclear Disarmament Goals,” The Washington Post, September 3, 2009.

Lederer, Edith M., “US Wants Results from Obama Nuclear Meeting at UN,” Associated Press, September 3, 2009.

Nikitin, Mary Beth, Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), Congressional Research Service, September 10, 2009.

Shanker, Thom, Landler, Mark, “Pentagon Checks Arsenal in Race for Nuclear Treaty,” New York Times, September 9, 2009.

Tepperman, Jonathan, “Why Obama Should Learn to Love the Bomb,” Newsweek, September 7, 2009.

The Wall Street Journal, “The Disarmament Illusion,” September 26, 2009.

VIII. Space

The Agonist, “Ban on Space Weapons Not Enough to Keep Satellites From Being Shot Down,” September 2, 2009.

Missile Defense Agency, “Successful Space Tracking Surveillance System Demonstrator Satellites Launch,” September 25, 2009.

IX. Other

Agence France-Presse, “Israel Gets Two More German Submarines,” September 30, 2009.

Borger, Julian, “Former British Officials From Nuclear Disarmament Group,” Guardian, September 8, 2009.

Flitton, Daniel, “Australia, Japan in Nuclear Rift,” The Age, September 4, 2009.

Global Security Newswire, “Indian Scientist’s Remark Kicks Off Debate Over Nuclear Test Agenda,” September 10, 2009.

Russia Defends Struggling Missile Program

Russian leaders remain committed to the Bulava RSM-56 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) despite a number of high-profile test failures, a top military official said Aug. 26.

Luke Champlin

Russian leaders remain committed to the Bulava RSM-56 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) despite a number of high-profile test failures, a top military official said Aug. 26.

“We still believe the Bulava will fly,” Chief of the Russian General Staff Nikolai Makarov said at a press conference in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, according to RIA Novosti. Makarov responded to criticisms of the program by contending that the failures were the result of “technical problems in production, rather than faulty design.” The Bulava program has been a centerpiece of Russia’s program to modernize its ballistic missile arsenal.

The most recent test, on July 15, failed when the missile’s first stage malfunctioned shortly after launch. The director of the Bulava program, former Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology (MITT) chief Yuri Solomonov, resigned in the aftermath of the test. Solomonov was the principal designer of the Topol-M (SS-27) ICBM. The Topol-M has been cited by Russian leaders such as Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as the future of Russia’s ICBM arsenal and as a means of overcoming U.S. strategic missile defense systems. Solomonov has been replaced as chief of MITT by Sergei Nikulin but was allowed to maintain his post as director of the Bulava program.

The July test represents the sixth failure in 11 flight tests for the Bulava. Prior tests have resulted in similar problems, as malfunctions in the first or third stage of the solid-fuel missile caused it to self-destruct. (See ACT, December 2006.) There has been some speculation in the Russian press that these failures have raised doubts about the future viability of the program. Some commentators have suggested that the Bulava will be abandoned in favor of the more successful Sineva RSM-54 SLBM. The Sineva, designed to be loaded into existing Delta IV-class submarines, has been in service since 2007.

At the Aug. 26 press conference, Makarov flatly denied speculation that the Sineva could be deployed in place of the Bulava. “The Sineva is a completely different system,” he said, according to RIA Novosti. To remedy the problems encountered in testing, Makarov has announced that Bulava production will be shifted from the Votkinsk Machine Building Plant to an undisclosed new location.

Anatoly Perminov, director of the Russian space agency, Roskosmos, said in an interview with the Russian newspaper Izvestia Aug. 27 that he doubted the relocation plan will succeed. According to Perminov, an attempt to re-engineer Bulava production will require a “great deal of time,” as a reorganization would require “the termination of contracts with existing companies and a new round of bids.” Perminov also said Votkinsk is the only factory in Russia capable of producing solid-fuel missiles.

The Bulava was originally commissioned as a replacement for the failed Bark RSM-52 SLBM program in 1998. The Bulava was designed as the primary SLBM for the new Borei-class nuclear submarines, and many elements of this design were borrowed from the Topol-M.

IAEA’s Syria Probe Remains Stalled

Syria continues to refuse full cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) investigation into allegations that it pursued a secret nuclear weapons program, according to an Aug. 28 IAEA report. Syria has not given the agency access to additional sites of interest or turned over sufficient information to explain the presence of undeclared uranium particles detected last year, the report said.

Peter Crail and Anna Hood

Syria continues to refuse full cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) investigation into allegations that it pursued a secret nuclear weapons program, according to an Aug. 28 IAEA report. Syria has not given the agency access to additional sites of interest or turned over sufficient information to explain the presence of undeclared uranium particles detected last year, the report said.

Washington accused Damascus last year of attempting to construct a nuclear reactor with North Korean assistance to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons, prompting the agency’s investigation. (See ACT, May 2008.) Israel destroyed the suspected reactor in a September 2007 air raid. Syria claims the facility, located near the village of Dair al Zour, was a military building with no nuclear applications.

In addition to urging Syria to provide additional transparency, the IAEA report asked other states with information relevant to Syria’s suspected nuclear activities, “including Israel,” to share it with the agency.

The report described the most recent Syrian explanations for refusing requests for additional access to sites and information. A key part of the agency’s probe deals with the presence of chemically processed uranium discovered in samples taken from the Dair al Zour site in June 2008. (See ACT, December 2008.)

Although Damascus claims that the particles came from the bombs Israel used to destroy the facility, the agency maintains that the particles are inconsistent with the type used in munitions. According to the report, Syria has “not yet provided the necessary cooperation” to allow the IAEA to determine the origin of the particles.

In an Aug. 13 letter to the agency, Syria said that it has already provided all of the necessary information on the facility. Damascus also rebuffed agency requests for access to the debris from the site, claiming in the letter that it could not do so because it has been more than a year since the building’s destruction. Neither Syria nor the IAEA provided additional details on that point.

Syria also refused to give the IAEA access to three additional locations the agency has described as “allegedly functionally related” to the Dair al Zour site, claiming that it has no obligation to provide such access because those locations are of a “military and non-nuclear nature.”

Responding to this claim, the IAEA stated in the August report that there is “no limitation…on Agency access to information, activities or locations simply because they may be military related.”

According to a diplomat who was present at the meeting, IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei told the agency’s Board of Governors June 17 that the IAEA is “ready to work with any modality to protect Syria’s confidential military and non-military information.”

In contrast to the frustration it expressed over Syria’s lack of cooperation at the Dair al Zour site, the Aug. 28 report noted that Damascus has provided further explanation regarding the presence of uranium particles discovered at the site of Syria’s sole nuclear reactor.

A June 5 IAEA report indicated that the annual samples at the reactor taken by the agency in August 2008 uncovered additional uranium particles “of a type not declared at the facility.” (See ACT, July/August 2009.) The reactor is a 30-kilowatt miniature neutron source reactor that Syria bought from China in 1991. Such reactors typically are used for training and radioisotope production.

According to the most recent report, Syria stated in a June 8 letter that the particles “resulted from the accumulation of sample and reference materials used in neutron activation analysis.” Damascus supported its claim by providing the agency with access to the site to take additional environmental samples and giving the IAEA relevant information and a list of reference materials to enhance its investigations, the report said. The IAEA said it is currently analyzing the environmental samples it collected to determine the accuracy of Syria’s claims.

During a Sept. 7-11 meeting of the agency’s board, ElBaradei called for greater Syrian cooperation, stating Sept. 7 that “it is in Syria’s interest to enable the agency to corroborate its statements.”

In a Sept. 9 statement to the board, the European Union also expressed concern about Syria’s lack of transparency, saying that, “in the absence of the necessary cooperation with the IAEA the completeness and correctness of Syria’s declarations under its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement would clearly remain in doubt.” The statement called on Syria to sign and ratify an additional protocol to its safeguards agreement “as soon as possible.”

The 1997 Model Additional Protocol provides the agency with greater inspection authority, improving its ability to detect undeclared nuclear activities.

Along the same lines, Gregory Schulte, who until June served as the U.S. permanent representative to the IAEA, said that the agency’s safeguards authority in Syria is currently inadequate to address the suspicions surrounding that country’s suspected nuclear activities. In a Sept. 2 article on Foreign Policy magazine’s Web site, he said Damascus should adopt an additional protocol and that the IAEA “must be prepared to exercise [its] full authority.”

In that respect, he noted that Syria’s safeguards agreement contains a provision authorizing “special inspections” that has not been implemented. Special inspections are a rarely used IAEA tool granting the agency broader access if it determines that it cannot carry out its responsibilities because the state under investigation is not providing sufficient information.

“The director general’s report suggests that [the] time has come” for the IAEA to invoke the special inspection clause, giving the agency a mandate to inspect undeclared sites, Schulte said.

 

Secret Iranian Enrichment Facility Revealed

Iran has been constructing a second uranium-enrichment facility in secret, the leaders of France, the United Kingdom, and the United States announced during a Sept. 25 press briefing. In a statement delivered on behalf of the three countries and Germany, President Barack Obama said “the size and configuration of this facility is inconsistent with a peaceful program.”

Peter Crail

Iran has been constructing a second uranium-enrichment facility in secret, the leaders of France, the United Kingdom, and the United States announced during a Sept. 25 press briefing. In a statement delivered on behalf of the three countries and Germany, President Barack Obama said “the size and configuration of this facility is inconsistent with a peaceful program.”

The four countries indicated that they, along with China and Russia, would still move forward with an Oct. 1 meeting in Geneva agreed earlier this month and that, at that meeting, Iran “must cooperate fully and comprehensively with the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] to take concrete steps to create confidence and transparency in its nuclear program.” They also called on the IAEA to immediately investigate the facility, located on a military base near the Iranian holy city of Qom, and report to the agency’s Board of Governors.

British, French, and U.S. officials briefed the IAEA, as well as China and Russia, on the facility earlier during the week.

IAEA spokesman Marc Vidricaire said in a Sept. 25 press statement that Iran provided a letter to the agency Sept. 21 indicating that it was constructing another pilot enrichment plant in the country, which would enrich uranium up to 5 percent. Iran has been operating a pilot-scale enrichment facility at Natanz since 2003.

Uranium is generally enriched to low levels if the material is to be used as fuel in nuclear reactors. The explosive cores of nuclear weapons generally use uranium enriched to 90 percent and higher.

Vidricaire also said that “Iran assured the Agency in the letter that ‘Further complementary information will be provided in an appropriate and due time.’”

Senior U.S. officials said during a Sept. 25 background briefing that “Iran learned that the secrecy of the facility was compromised,” leading Iran to reveal the site to the IAEA. The officials said that Iran’s notification to the agency led the three governments to provide more detailed information about the facility and the support facilities that were producing equipment for it. Otherwise, the United States and its allies intended to disclose information about the facility “early in any dialogue process” with Iran, one of the officials said, according to a transcript of the briefing.

Gathering Information for “Several Years”

According to the senior administration officials, the U.S. intelligence community, working with allied governments, had been aware of the Qom facility “for the past several years.” They said, however, that evidence providing “high confidence” that the facility was intended for uranium enrichment was not obtained until earlier this year.

During the background briefing, the officials said that the U.S. intelligence community assesses that the Qom facility is designed to hold about 3,000 centrifuges. That is “not a large enough number to make any sense from a commercial standpoint,” one of the officials said. The intelligence community judged that the facility would be able to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for “a bomb or two” per year, the official said.

Iran’s commercial-scale enrichment facility at Natanz is designed to hold about 50,000 centrifuges, machines that spin at high speeds to separate the fissile isotope uranium-235 from other uranium isotopes in the enrichment process. The U.S. officials said that because the Natanz facility is currently under international monitoring that would easily detect an attempt to produce weapons-grade uranium, Tehran likely wanted to use another facility, such as the one discovered at Qom, for that purpose.

It is not yet clear what type of centrifuges the Qom facility is designed to hold. The Natanz facility is currently operating with a 1970s-vintage centrifuge design, called the P-1, which Iran acquired from the illicit network run by former Pakistani nuclear official Abdul Qadeer Khan. However, Iran has been carrying out tests of newer generations of centrifuges based on the more advanced P-2 design Iran also obtained through the Khan network. (See ACT, November 2007.) The P-2 centrifuge can enrich uranium about two and a half times faster than the P-1.

Tehran claims that the previously hidden facility was intended to preserve Iran’s nuclear capabilities in the event of an attack on the country’s nuclear facilities. Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, told reporters Sept. 26, “Given the threats we face every day, we are required to take the necessary precautionary measures, spread our facilities and protect our human assets.” Salehi said that Iran would allow the IAEA to inspect the facility, but did not give a time frame.

Now that the facility is no longer secret, Washington assesses that it will be even more difficult for Iran to pursue a nuclear weapons capability. At the Sept. 25 background briefing, a senior U.S. official said that “because of international pressure to allow the IAEA to inspect this facility and place it under safeguards, it sets their nuclear weapons program back.”

Even so, the United States indicated in an official Sept. 25 background question-and-answer document regarding the Qom facility that the U.S. intelligence community still judges that Iran suspended its nuclear weapons program in 2003. That judgment was first made public in a 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which defined such a weapons program as “weapon design and weaponization work and covert uranium conversion-related and uranium enrichment-related work.” (See ACT, January/February 2008.) The NIE also judged “with moderate confidence” that Iran’s nuclear weapons program remained halted “as of mid-2007.”

The United States maintains that the judgments in that NIE still stand. The question-and-answer document stated that, “in and of itself the information on this facility does not contradict our 2007 assessment of Iran’s nuclear program.”

U.S. intelligence officials stood by the 2007 NIE findings in the months prior to the disclosure of the Qom facility as well. In May 18 remarks to the Pacific Council on International Policy, CIA Director Leon Panetta repeated the finding that Iran halted its weaponization program in 2003. He added that “the judgment of the intelligence community is that Iran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop deliverable nuclear weapons.”

Panetta expanded on that view in a Sept. 18 interview with Voice of America. He said the U.S. intelligence community believes that although Iran is “proceeding to develop a nuclear capability in terms of power and low-grade uranium, there is still very much a debate going on within Iran as to whether or not they ought to proceed further.”

A senior U.S. official said Sept. 25 that the Qom facility is still under construction and that Iran is likely “a few months, perhaps more” from installing all of its centrifuges and operating them.

Iran Claims Facility Construction Legal

Responding to claims that it likely intended to use the facility to enrich uranium for weapons in secret, Iran claimed that it was not required to notify the IAEA about the facility for several months.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, “According to the IAEA rules, countries must inform the Agency six months ahead of the gas injection in their uranium enrichment plants.”

“We have done it 18 months ahead, and this should be appreciated, not condemned,” he added.

Iran told the IAEA in March 2007 that it was reinterpreting a subsidiary arrangement to its safeguards agreement to revert to an older version, which requires states to provide design information regarding new nuclear facilities six months prior to the introduction of nuclear material. (See ACT, April 2007.) Under the newer version of that subsidiary arrangement, called Code 3.1, states are obligated to provide such information “as soon as the decision to construct or to authorize construction [of a nuclear facility] has been taken.”

Iran agreed to implement the newer version of that arrangement in February 2003.

According to the agency, however, Iran is not allowed to reinterpret such an agreement unilaterally. A March 2009 statement by the IAEA legal adviser said that such provisions “can only be amended or suspended with the agreement of both parties to them,” referencing Iran and the IAEA as the parties to such arrangements.

U.S. officials maintain that regardless of Iran’s reinterpretation of its arrangements with the IAEA, it is still a violation of Tehran’s safeguards obligations. A senior U.S. official noted Sept. 25 that Iran began construction of the facility before it pulled out of implementing the newer safeguards arrangement.

World Powers Still to Meet With Iran

Revelations regarding the Qom facility came just a week before the scheduled Oct. 1 meeting with Iran. The discussions would mark the first formal meeting between the Obama administration and Tehran. Washington will be joined in the talks by the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia, and the United Kingdom) and Germany.

The six countries agreed earlier this year that they would review their approach to Iran if it did not come to the negotiating table in September. (See ACT, September 2009.)

The two sides were previously at odds regarding the topics for discussion during the October meeting. Although the six countries intended to focus on the nuclear issue, Iranian officials said that the nuclear issue was “finished” and would not be subject to negotiation.

A proposal for discussions that Iran submitted to representatives of the six countries Sept. 9 did not contain any reference to Iran’s nuclear program. The five-page document reiterated several of the issues raised in a similar proposal Iran circulated last year, including suggestions on regional security cooperation and addressing global economic concerns.

Unlike the 2008 proposal, however, the recent document did not have a section on nuclear issues. Instead, it broadly addressed the role of the IAEA and the universality of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) as part of an overall discussion on “international issues.”

Since the disclosure of the Qom facility, the six countries have insisted even more forcefully that Iran not only address the nuclear issue, but also take steps to increase transparency regarding all of its nuclear activities.

During the Sept. 25 press briefing, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown insisted that if Iran did not adhere to its international commitments regarding its nuclear program, they would push for more stringent sanctions. Sarkozy said that Iran would have until December to change course.

The United States and its allies appear to have recently received increased support from Russia for potential additional sanctions on Iran. Although Moscow had previously indicated that it did not see additional sanctions as useful, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev seemed more receptive to such measures during a Sept. 23 joint press conference after bilateral talks with Obama.

Russia’s position is clear: Sanctions rarely lead to productive results, but in some cases, sanctions are inevitable,” he said.

Questions Raised on IAEA Information

The IAEA’s preparations to inspect the newly revealed facility come after allegations that the agency is withholding assessments of Iranian activities relevant to a nuclear weapons program.

In an Aug. 30 statement, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said that an Aug. 28 report on the agency’s inspections in Iran “does not reflect all the information known to the IAEA regarding Iran’s efforts to continue to pursue its military program.”

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner echoed that claim Sept. 3, stating that information in agency annexes suggests that there is a military aspect to Iran’s nuclear program. He said such annexes should be released as soon as possible.

Similarly, the Associated Press reported Sept. 17 that IAEA officials have compiled a confidential report that concludes that Iran has enough expertise to make a nuclear warhead. According to the Associated Press story, the document “is based on intelligence provided by member states, the agency’s own investigations, and input from outside nuclear arms experts.”

The IAEA has repeatedly denied the existence of such a document, claiming most recently in a Sept. 17 press statement that it “has no concrete proof that there is or has been a nuclear weapon programme in Iran.” In the statement, the agency said that accusations that it is withholding information “are politically motivated and baseless,” explaining that all of the information that it has received and assessed has been included in the reports to its Board of Governors.

The Aug. 28 report reiterated the status of the IAEA’s investigations into a series of “alleged studies” by Iran relating to the development of a nuclear weapon. The agency first outlined its concerns regarding the suspected weaponization activities in a February 2008 report and provided more detailed information in an annex to a report issued in May 2008. (See ACT, June 2008.) The suspected activities include mating a ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead and carrying out explosive tests of a type used to detonate a nuclear weapon. In the IAEA’s reference to the alleged studies, there was no indication of a clandestine enrichment facility of the kind disclosed at Qom.

The IAEA received information regarding the alleged studies from Western intelligence agencies beginning in 2005. (See ACT, March 2008.) The Aug. 28 report said this information appears to be generally consistent and derived from multiple sources over different periods of time.

The report indicated, however, that the agency has a limited ability to authenticate and substantiate all of the intelligence information it has received on Iran’s suspected weaponization efforts. It stated that “the information is being critically assessed, in accordance with the agency’s practices,” by corroborating it with information that it receives and its own findings.

According to a diplomat who attended a Sept. 9 board meeting, IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei said that the issue of the alleged studies is not a matter of analyzing their implications, but determining their accuracy and authenticity. If authentic, he said, “there is a high probability that nuclear weaponization activities have taken place,” adding, “but I should underline ‘if’ three times.”

 

Indian Scientist Triggers Debate on Testing

A leading Indian nuclear scientist has said the yield from India’s 1998 test of a thermonuclear device was less than expected and that the country should not close off the option of further tests.

The comments, reported Aug. 27 by The Times of India, touched off a debate that has lasted for weeks.

Daniel Horner

A leading Indian nuclear scientist has said the yield from India’s 1998 test of a thermonuclear device was less than expected and that the country should not close off the option of further tests.

The comments, reported Aug. 27 by The Times of India, touched off a debate that has lasted for weeks.

The Times quoted K. Santhanam, who had direct responsibility for the series of 1998 nuclear tests as a top scientist with India’s Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), as saying, “Based upon the seismic measurements and expert opinion from [the] world over, it is clear that the yield in the thermonuclear device test was much lower than what was claimed. I think it is well documented and that is why I assert that India should not rush into signing” the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

In a subsequent interview with the Indian Web site Rediff.com, Santhanam was asked about the timing of his comments. He cited the change of U.S. administrations, saying that the Obama administration is “bound to further pressurise India to sign the CTBT.”Top Indian officials, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar, rejected Santhanam’s claims and said the 1998 test was successful, according to Indian media reports.

India, which is one of the 44 designated states that must ratify the CTBT to bring it into force, has not signed the treaty. Its current policy is to adhere to a declared moratorium on testing.

During a Sept. 21 media briefing in Washington, Tibor Tóth, executive secretary of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, said it was “very encouraging” that the rebuttals to Santhanam were coming from within India and included people who were “even higher in the scientific echelon” than Santhanam at the time of the 1998 tests.

Among the officials arguing that the 1998 tests were a success was A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, who was head of the DRDO at the time and later became president of India. In the Rediff.com interview, Santhanam dismissed Kalam’s comments, saying Kalam is a missile scientist and was not present at the test.

Responding to Santhanam in an interview with The Hindu, Indian National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan said, “As of now, we are steadfast in our commitment to the [nuclear testing] moratorium. At least there is no debate in the internal circles about this.” Asked about the prospects of joining the CTBT if other current nonparties, such as the United States and China, do so, Narayanan said India needed to “have a full-fledged discussion on the CTBT.”

Observers inside and outside India have said the country’s government would have to weigh the impact of a nuclear test on its nuclear cooperation agreement with the United States. Under U.S. law, an Indian test would halt such cooperation.

The agreement entered into force last year, but several unresolved issues have blocked nuclear trade between the two countries.

India has said there will be no contracts with U.S. companies until the two countries have concluded an agreement on reprocessing of U.S.-origin material. The first round of talks took place in July and went smoothly, according to two U.S. sources. The next round is scheduled for October 8-9, the sources said. The Department of State declined to confirm the dates.

One of the sources, who strongly supports the U.S.-Indian deal, said it is “possible, though perhaps unlikely” that the reprocessing agreement would be finalized before Singh comes to the United States for a scheduled state visit in late November.

Also still unresolved are terms for U.S. exports of nuclear technology. (See ACT, September 2009.) A 2006 U.S. law known as the Hyde Act creates a “nuclear export accountability program” that includes requirements for the tracking of U.S. nuclear exports to ensure that they do not boost India’s weapons program.

Agreeing on those arrangements has taken longer than it should have, the source said. There might have been some “miscommunication” that was not handled “expeditiously,” but the two sides are “definitely focused now” on resolving the issue, he said. U.S. industry officials are “just tearing their hair out” at the slow pace, he said.

At a Sept. 25 press briefing in New York, Robert Blake, assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, acknowledged that “there are still some steps that have to be taken” to “move forward” on nuclear cooperation. They include passage of nuclear liability legislation by the Indian parliament and the formal announcement of sites at which U.S. companies would build groups of reactors, Blake said.

 

North Korea, U.S. Seen Preparing for Talks

The United States is ready to hold direct talks with North Korea on denuclearization, potentially paving the way for the Obama administration’s first formal discussions with Pyongyang, U.S. officials said in September.

Peter Crail

The United States is ready to hold direct talks with North Korea on denuclearization, potentially paving the way for the Obama administration’s first formal discussions with Pyongyang, U.S. officials said in September.

Department of State spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters Sept. 11 that the United States is “prepared to enter into a bilateral discussion with North Korea.” He added that such talks would be “designed to convince North Korea to come back to the six-party process and to take affirmative steps towards denuclearization.”

In April, Pyongyang declared that it would “never participate” in the six-way talks with China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States, following the UN Security Council’s condemnation of a North Korean rocket launch earlier that month. (See ACT, May 2009.) The other five participants maintain that North Korea must return to the talks, which have been held intermittently since 2003 to work toward the denuclearization of the KoreanPeninsula.

Crowley said that Washington has not made any decisions on when or where such a meeting would occur but that “some decisions” would be made “in the next couple of weeks.”

U.S. allies in the region indicated that they approved of U.S.-North Korean talks on the condition that they were aimed at restarting the six-party process.

South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Moon Tae-young told reporters Sept. 14, “The government is not against a U.S.-North Korean bilateral meeting if it does not replace six-party talks and expedites the six-party process aimed at denuclearizing North Korea.”

Similarly, the newly appointed Japanese foreign minister, Katsuya Okada, said during a Sept. 18 press conference, “The bilateral talks between the U.S. and North Korea can be somewhat fruitful only for the purpose of pushing forward the six-party talks.”

Japan and South Korea have been wary of U.S. bilateral initiatives with North Korea in recent years. Tokyo and Seoul expressed particular dismay last year when the United States concluded bilateral understandings with North Korea without carrying out what they felt was an appropriate level of consultation. (See ACT, November 2008.)

Japanese and South Korean diplomats said in September that the United States should consult fully with Tokyo and Seoul before any bilateral discussions in order to coordinate their approach.

Washington appears to have taken steps in that direction. Stephen Bosworth, U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, visited the region in early September, and Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg made a similar trip to the region a few weeks later.

Evans Revere, former acting assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, now president of the Korea Society, said Sept. 10 that the U.S. visits demonstrate that “coordination is central to the new U.S. approach” to North Korea. Noting that it would not be possible to address fundamental issues, such as a formal peace agreement with North Korea, without the multilateral process, he said, “Washington appears to be sticking to its guns on the six-party talks.”

According to former National Security Council Director for Asian Affairs Victor Cha, now Center for Strategic and International Studies senior adviser and Korea Chair, the distinction between bilateral and six-party talks is “somewhat of a false choice.” Noting that bilateral and multilateral talks were held under the Bush administration, Cha said in a Sept. 16 e-mail that “substantive negotiations, if ever restarted, will take place in both venues.” He added, however, that the six-party talks will remain in some form “as the only multilateral security architecture ever created in postwar East Asian history.”

Although current and former officials have stressed the relevance of the six-party talks for the regional security architecture, one former official suggested that the process may also carry benefits for influencing North Korea’s internal dynamics. Kenneth Quinones, a State Department official involved in North Korean affairs during the Clinton administration, said Sept. 18 that multilateral talks would enhance the influence of the country’s foreign ministry on North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, whose focus is otherwise monopolized by the military leadership. “I remain optimistic that Pyongyang will return to the talks, but first Kim Jong Il must reassure his generals that North Korea would benefit from them,” he said.

The North Korean leader has recently expressed greater interest in multilateral discussions. China’s official Xinhua News Agency quoted Kim Sept. 18 as telling Chinese special envoy Dai Bingguo, “North Korea would like to solve relevant issues through bilateral and multilateral talks.” Pyongyang had previously indicated that it would only be willing to hold discussions with the United States on a bilateral basis.

The North Korean announcement follows a series of overtures during the summer attempting to improve relations with Washington and Seoul, including the Aug. 4 release of two U.S. journalists held on charges of espionage. (See ACT, September 2009.)

Revere said that Pyongyang’s shift seemed to come from a recognition that the country was suffering from a “public relations problem.” He noted in particular the strength of the international sanctions imposed on North Korea following its actions earlier this year. “Targeting arms sales has got to have an impact on their income stream,” he said.

The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1874 in June following North Korea’s second nuclear test. That resolution required a wide range of sanctions on North Korean exports, imports, and financial activities and provided extensive guidelines on the interdiction of North Korean ships suspected of violating the sanctions.

Commenting on the impact of that resolution, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Susan Rice told reporters Sept. 14 that the coordinated response to carry out the sanctions “sends a strong signal that the international community is vigilant, united, and determined to see these sanctions fully implemented.”

Although only 37 of 192 member states had submitted a report to the United Nations on their work to implement Resolution 1874 as of September 30, a number of incidents in recent months have demonstrated efforts to enforce the North Korea sanctions. (See ACT, September 2009.)

These efforts include the July seizure by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) of a North Korean ship found to have been smuggling illicit arms to Iran. UAE authorities reportedly found rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons aboard the Australian-registered, Bahamas-flagged cargo vessel ANL Australia.

Resolution 1874 prohibits North Korea from exporting “all arms and related material” and calls on states to “exercise vigilance” regarding the transfer of small arms and light weapons, such as those found on the vessel.

Rice said Sept. 14 that the UN committee overseeing the sanctions on North Korea is “very actively engaged in investigating” the ANL Australia incident.

China, North Korea’s primary trading partner, also appears to be taking some steps to implement the sanctions. Diplomatic sources told Arms Control Today in September that China stopped a shipment of small arms from North Korea bound for Syria. The sources indicated, however, that the shipment was sent back to North Korea rather than confiscated.

Another diplomatic source could not corroborate the account of the interdiction but said “the Chinese are serious” about implementing the sanctions.

The UN restrictions on importing small arms from North Korea are not as strict as those on other forms of weaponry.

India also inspected a suspect North Korean ship in August. (See ACT, September 2009.)

In a possible signal of North Korea’s frustration with the sanctions, Pyongyang sent a letter to the president of the Security Council objecting to the UN’s punitive actions under Resolution 1874. Under the council’s rotating presidency, the United States was president for September. The Sept. 4 letter said that the resolution violated North Korean sovereignty and that Pyongyang “will never be bound by this resolution.”

The letter added, however, that North Korea was prepared for “both dialogue and sanctions.”

In addition to reacting to the UN sanctions, the North Korean letter cautioned that the country had taken “countermeasures to oppose sanctions,” stating that it is in the “final phase” of reprocessing its spent nuclear fuel and that “extracted plutonium is being weaponized.”

North Korea is believed to have enough plutonium in the spent fuel from its Yongbyon reactor for an additional one or two nuclear weapons. (See ACT, October 2008.) Pyongyang’s reprocessing campaigns in prior years provided it with enough plutonium for up to 12 weapons, according to expert estimates.

Pyongyang also stated for the second time that it was engaged in a uranium-enrichment effort, claiming that “experimental uranium enrichment has successfully been conducted to enter into completion phase.” Pyongyang first admitted to working on the process in June. (See ACT, July/August 2009.) The United States and its allies have long suspected that Pyongyang was engaged in such efforts, which could provide the country with another path to nuclear weapons. (See ACT, May 2003.)

It is unclear what North Korea means by referring to uranium enrichment as experimental, a term it used in conjunction with the process when it first admitted to carrying out such work in June. At that time, Pyongyang said that the process would be used to provide fuel for light-water reactors.

Cha characterized the recent North Korea statements regarding enrichment as significant because they constitute a formal admission of a uranium-enrichment program, which Pyongyang previously denied. He said the admission is not likely to have an impact on the resumption of talks.

Japan May Shift Tactics

In addition to the new approaches signaled by the United States and North Korea, former U.S. officials and diplomatic sources said in September that the new Japanese government, which came into office Sept. 16, may shift tactics in how it approaches Pyongyang, even as Tokyo’s overall strategy remains the same. The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has said that it remains focused on restarting the six-party talks and strengthening sanctions on North Korea.

The DPJ won enough seats in the Aug. 30 election to serve as Japan’s new ruling party, replacing the Liberal Democratic Party, which has governed the country almost continuously for about 60 years.

The United States is approaching the DPJ government on the North Korean issue to seek “any revised thinking that Japan might have on this topic,” Crowley said Sept. 17.

During the six-party talks, Tokyo insisted that it had to see progress in resolving the issue of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s before Japan would contribute to the incentives provided to Pyongyang by the other four countries in return for North Korea’s denuclearization efforts.

During the six-party talks, North Korea often complained that Japan was withholding energy assistance pledged under six-party agreements. (See ACT, March 2007.)

Revere said the new Japanese government may have an opening now to alter its approach to North Korea. He said that the abduction issue had “crowded out other core concerns” for Tokyo, including the threat to Japan from North Korean missile capabilities.

Quinones, now an academic in Japan, similarly said that because the public attention on the abduction issue has subsided and is being replaced by economic concerns, the Japanese government could re-engage North Korea in bilateral discussions, including providing energy assistance if Pyongyang returned to the six-party talks.

He also said recent back-channel contacts between the new Japanese government and North Korea may signal to the Japanese public a possible moderation of the Japanese stances toward Pyongyang.

In a rare move, North Korea made a conciliatory gesture toward the new Japanese government. Kim Yong Nam, who holds North Korea’s second-highest office, said in a Sept. 10 interview with Kyodo News that the two countries could have “fruitful relations” if the new government respects a 2002 bilateral declaration on improving ties.

Japanese officials have ruled out early bilateral talks with Pyongyang.

 

U.S. Expands Lead in Shrinking Arms Market

In the midst of a global recession that reduced the global demand for weapons, the United States managed to expand its share of worldwide arms agreements significantly in 2008, according to a September report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). Last year, developing countries continued to be the most important markets for arms sales, the report said.

Andrew Fisher

In the midst of a global recession that reduced the global demand for weapons, the United States managed to expand its share of worldwide arms agreements significantly in 2008, according to a September report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). Last year, developing countries continued to be the most important markets for arms sales, the report said.

The report, “Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2001-2008,” is the 2009 edition of the CRS’s annual analysis, authored since 1982 by international security specialist Richard Grimmett. It analyzes arms transfer agreements worldwide while giving particular attention to sales to developing countries.

The total value of all arms transfer agreements in 2008 was $55.2 billion, the lowest level since 2005, the report said. The peak was $59.7 billion in 2007.

In 2008 the United States concluded $37.8 billion worth of arms transfer agreements, representing 68.4 percent of all such agreements globally. That is up significantly from the U.S. total of $25.4 billion in 2007, which represented only 42.5 percent of global agreements. (See ACT, December 2008.)

During 2008, the United States also made worldwide deliveries of $12.2 billion, continuing eight years of dominance as the world’s top deliverer of arms. Grimmett defines arms deliveries as “items actually transferred,” while arms transfer agreements represent contracts signed between supplier and recipient countries. Due to their complexity, arms deals can take years to implement and can be adjusted over time, leading to figures for agreements and deliveries that rarely match.

Several other countries are significant arms sellers, although none on the scale of the United States. Italy was a distant second, with $3.7 billion in agreements, up from $1.2 billion in 2007, followed by $3.5 billion for Russia, down from $10.8 billion in 2007. These top three suppliers collectively made 81.5 percent of all international arms transfer agreements in 2008.

Worldwide weapons orders in 2008 were down 7.5 percent from 2007. A main factor in the drop was the decision by some purchasing countries to forgo major new systems because of budgetary restraints imposed by the global recession and rising oil prices, the report said. Those countries opted to limit purchases to the upgrading of existing systems, training and support services, or the integration of already purchased weapons into their forces, Grimmett said.

Continuing a trend that can be seen since 2001, developing countries, defined in the report as all countries except Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, the United States, and European countries, have increasingly been the major market for arms from the world’s largest suppliers. Arms sales to developing countries comprised 76.4 percent of worldwide arms sales in 2008, with the United States generally finding its largest markets in the Near East, a region stretching from Morocco to Iran. Russia found its largest markets in Asia, the report said.

In 2008 the United States made 70.2 percent of its agreements with developing countries. Russia and France each made more than 90 percent of its agreements with such countries; for China and the United Kingdom, the figure was 100 percent.

Between 2007 and 2008, the value of arms transfer agreements with developing countries increased slightly, from $41.1 billion to $42.2 billion. The decrease in global arms sales during this time came from developed countries, where total arms sales decreased from $18.6 billion in 2007 to $13.0 billion in 2008. Deliveries to developing countries in 2008 were equal to $18.3 billion, slightly lower than the 2007 level of $18.4 billion and the lowest level during the 2001-2008 reporting period.

Oil Price Effects

Spiking oil prices squeezed budgets devoted to arms purchases in many countries in 2008, but increased oil revenue swelled defense budgets in oil-exporting developing countries and allowed them to devote huge sums of money to arms purchases, Grimmett said. Saudi Arabia led all developing countries in arms purchases over the reporting period, with a value of $36.7 billion since 2001 and $8.7 billion in 2008. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has signed $15.3 billion in agreements since 2001, with $9.7 billion coming in 2008. Venezuela, another major oil exporter, has also emerged as a significant purchaser of arms, with agreements totaling $5.8 billion since 2001.

The United States dominated sales agreements with developing countries in 2008. Its sales of $29.6 billion represented 70.1 percent of the market, up 39.9 percentage points over 2007. In addition to taking advantage of its well-established network of purchasers for defense articles and services, the United States has been able to maintain a steady stream of orders for upgrades, spare parts, and support services, even when it has not concluded major new deals for weapons systems, Grimmett said.

An important market for the United States has traditionally been the Near East region, where Saudi Arabia has consistently been a top purchaser of U.S. arms. The UAE has emerged as a large customer as well, signing agreements in 2008 for a comprehensive Patriot air defense missile system for more than $6.5 billion.

The United States also sought to expand its military cooperation with India in 2008, signing a nearly $1 billion deal for C-130J cargo aircraft. In a recent speech, Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro cited arms sales as an “important tool for broadening and deepening our partnerships with emerging powers such as India.” An end-use monitoring agreement signed in July by India and the United States may pave the way for the sale of advanced weaponry, including fighter aircraft, in the near future. (See ACT, September 2009.)

Russia, which has relied on the Chinese and Indian markets for high-value arms sales, has worked in recent years to expand its base of customers through creative financing options, such as debt swaps and “licensed production agreements,” which allow its customers to produce and sell Russian weapons, Grimmett said. Russia also has improved its follow-on support services, which have been viewed as lacking in the past, the CRS report said. Russia’s military hardware has been attractive to less-affluent developing countries because it ranges from basic to the most highly advanced systems, the report said.

Russian exports to China during the reporting period have included fighter aircraft, destroyers, submarines, anti-ship missiles, military transport aircraft, aerial refueling tankers, and jet engines. Grimmett wrote that such purchases show that “Chinese arms acquisitions are apparently aimed at enhancing its military projection capabilities in Asia, and its ability to influence events throughout the region.”

Russia’s most significant agreements in 2008 include deals with India to provide 80 Mi-17 helicopters for $1.3 billion and to upgrade MiG-29 fighters for $1 billion.

An important emerging market for Russia is Venezuela, with which Moscow has concluded significant agreements for the sale of fighter aircraft and helicopters, along with licensing agreements to produce AK-103 assault rifles. Following the Sept. 13 announcement of a $2.2 billion agreement between Russia and Venezuela, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the deal raises “the question as to whether there is going to be an arms race in the region.” She also said that Venezuela needs to be “putting in place procedures and practices to ensure that the weapons that they buy are not being diverted,” highlighting a long-standing U.S concern that arms are being diverted to criminal groups elsewhere in the region.

Although Russia has had some success in diversifying its arms exports, Grimmett said that long-term foreign sales of Russian arms may be hampered by the absence of sustained investment in research and development that other suppliers, such as the United States, have undertaken.

Currently a major importer of arms, China has also emerged as a growing source of arms for developing countries in Africa and Asia that are looking for options that are more affordable than the major weapons systems offered by other suppliers.

China’s arms sales to developing nations peaked at $2.8 billion in 2005 and amounted to only $800 million in 2008. One notable sale was that of an airborne warning and control system to Pakistan for $278 million in 2008. China is not likely to earn large revenues from such transfers but may view them as “a means of enhancing its status as an international political power, and increasing its ability to obtain access to significant natural resources, especially oil,” Grimmett said.

 

Talks on Fuel Bank Stalled at IAEA

Plans to establish an international nuclear fuel bank, a key part of nonproliferation programs put forward by several world leaders, have failed to receive the support they need to start being put in place.

Daniel Horner and Oliver Meier

Plans to establish an international nuclear fuel bank, a key part of nonproliferation programs put forward by several world leaders, have failed to receive the support they need to start being put in place.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors ended its September meeting with little progress since June, the last time the board met. Earlier this year, advocates of the proposed fuel bank had talked about a timetable under which the board in June would have directed the IAEA Secretariat to flesh out a proposal for the September meeting and the board could have then endorsed it.

But at the June meeting, some of the board’s 35 members balked at the plans. The board essentially decided to continue discussing the plan at a conceptual level. The talks have not made much headway since then, sources at the September meeting said.

IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei, President Barack Obama, and others have strongly backed the fuel bank concept.

The aim of the fuel bank proposals is to dissuade countries from pursuing their own uranium-enrichment programs by providing them with an assured supply of fuel at market prices. The bank would serve as backup to existing commercial mechanisms for countries with good nonproliferation credentials.

In February 2004, President George W. Bush proposed a version of this approach in a speech at the NationalDefenseUniversity in Washington. (See ACT, March 2004.) But Bush’s version required countries to “renounce” enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing and was combined with a call for a ban on enrichment- and reprocessing-related exports to states that do not already operate fuel cycle facilities. That approach led to complaints from many potential recipients, and U.S. officials eventually turned away from such language.

All proposals so far, however, have come from current or potential supplier states, while potential recipients have been largely indifferent or critical. (See ACT, January/February 2009.)

The first proposal before the June board was aimed at establishing an IAEA-owned reserve of low-enriched uranium. In 2006 the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a private U.S. organization, had pledged $50 million for such a reserve on the condition that IAEA member states would donate another $100 million. By the June meeting, the IAEA had received pledges from the United States ($49.5 million), the European Union (up to €25 million), Kuwait ($10 million), the United Arab Emirates ($10 million), and Norway ($5 million), enabling it to implement the proposal. Kazakhstan had offered to host the fuel bank.

Deadline Extension Possible

The NTI originally had set a September 2008 deadline for the IAEA to receive the required pledges and put the program in place. The NTI later agreed to a one-year extension. In a Sept. 29 interview, Charles Curtis, NTI president and chief operating officer, said he had received a request from ElBaradei for another one-year extension. The request is “under review,” he said, adding that he expects a decision “in very short order.”

The board also had before it a proposal from Russia to host and provide the funding for a similar reserve. The Russian proposal and the one responding to the NTI offer are considered the most mature. Other fuel assurance concepts are in various stages of development.

In presenting the proposals to the board in June, ElBaradei stressed that countries would not be giving up any rights, including the right to develop an indigenous fuel cycle, by endorsing a fuel bank or by receiving nuclear fuel from it. Both proposals also emphasized that point.

However, both proposals ran into heavy opposition from several members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Many of the criticisms aired at the board meeting centered on countries’ concerns that they would have to “surrender” fuel cycle rights, a source familiar with the discussions said in a July interview. That skepticism indicates “larger trust and credibility issues,” he said.

In her summary of the June session, the board’s chairperson, Taous Feroukhi of Algeria, said members raised questions on a range of issues, including “the reliability or credibility of the triggering mechanism, the eligibility criteria, the supply of natural uranium as fuel, and the financial implications of the proposals.” They also questioned “the proposition that the development of an enrichment capability posed a proliferation risk,” she said, according to the IAEA’s written record of her remarks.

Feroukhi summarized the results of the lengthy debate by saying the board “may continue with its consultations and discussion” and the secretariat “will assist in further elaborating a conceptual framework that could form the basis for developing detailed proposals that would adequately address the views and concerns of Member States.”

Supporters of the proposal had been hoping for a “green light” from the board to keep developing the proposal, but the board issued “more of a slow-down signal” instead, the source familiar with the discussions said.

U.S. officials interviewed in July cast the results more favorably. One official said the discussions were a “positive step forward,” even though they indicated that additional time would be needed to put the program in place. The “tenor” of the discussions had changed from “general rhetorical comments” to questions about “concrete implementation,” he said.

Curtis said there had been some progress, with “serious work” being done by the IAEA Secretariat to develop answers to the questions that countries had raised. There also have been government-to-government communications on the issue, he said.

The UN Security Council last month endorsed a nonproliferation and disarmament resolution that includes a provision encouraging “multilateral approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle, including assurances of fuel supply and related measures, as effective means of addressing the expanding need for nuclear fuel and fuel services and minimizing the risk of proliferation” (see page 22). Curtis noted that the resolution “urges” the IAEA board “to agree upon measures to this end as soon as possible.” He said, “Arguably, some renewed momentum may flow from that.”

Questions Outstanding

Curtis acknowledged that there are “legitimate issues and questions that can and should be raised” and that, in spite of the explicit language in IAEA documents, there are still deep suspicions that the fuel bank proposal is a “first step to legislating a limitation” on countries’ rights to pursue the fuel cycle.

ElBaradei, in his Sept. 14 statement to the IAEA general conference, tried to inject new urgency into the fuel bank debate by pointing to the “growing number of ‘nuclear weapons capable’ countries which, because of their mastery of uranium enrichment or plutonium reprocessing, could manufacture nuclear weapons within a few months if their security perceptions change.” ElBaradei, who is scheduled to step down from his post at the end of November, said he believes that there are no insurmountable “technical or legal stumbling blocks” to setting up a fuel bank and that he hopes “an effective mechanism will be agreed upon by the [IAEA] in the near future.”

However, diplomats interviewed in September said the outstanding issues will take time to be resolved. Peter Gottwald, commissioner for disarmament and arms control at the German Federal Foreign Office, said in a Sept. 18 interview that discussions at the IAEA board demonstrated that it was “too early” to expect concrete results from a consideration of specific proposals to address the issue of multilateral fuel-supply assurances. Brazil’s permanent representative to the IAEA, Ambassador Antonio Guerreiro, in his Sept. 15 statement to the IAEA general conference, said that “an understanding of what we want to achieve with the different proposals or concepts that we have on the table” is lacking and  “what has to be clear is that the actual exercise of what is an inalienable right cannot be looked at with suspicion.” He was referring to Article IV of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which establishes an “inalienable right” to “develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.”

Yet, both sides of the debate were at pains to leave doors open by pointing out that the deadlock at the June meeting does not preclude future discussions. A Western diplomat said Sept. 16 that discussions on a nuclear fuel bank “have not been shut down” and that the IAEA director-general is free to continue the talks on that subject. Gottwald said he believes “that multilateralization is absolutely essential in the longer run” but conceded that he does not “expect much progress on this issue in the short term.” South African Ambassador Abdul Minty, one of the critics of proposals to establish multilateral fuel assurances, said in a Sept. 16 interview that “the dialogue has just started,” noting that the June board meeting marked the first time that concrete proposals were discussed.

Curtis said progress “will take a significant diplomatic effort in capitals,” rather than just among IAEA delegates, by the United States and the European Union. He said he did not expect the issue to be on the board’s agenda for its November meeting.

In private conversations, diplomats concerned with the issue said they do not expect any tangible progress before the May NPT review conference. Several said it is not clear what impact the change in IAEA leadership will have on the debate over nuclear fuel-supply assurances. Incoming director-general Yukiya Amano, whose appointment was affirmed by the general conference, did not mention the concept of multilateralizing the nuclear fuel cycle in his Sept. 14 acceptance speech.

 

Clinton Makes Case for CTBT at Conference

A global nuclear test ban would increase U.S. security because “as long as we are confronted with the prospect of nuclear testing by others, we will face the potential threat of newer, more powerful, and more sophisticated weapons that could cause damage beyond our imagination,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sept. 24 in New York.

Meri Lugo

A global nuclear test ban would increase U.S. security because “as long as we are confronted with the prospect of nuclear testing by others, we will face the potential threat of newer, more powerful, and more sophisticated weapons that could cause damage beyond our imagination,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sept. 24 in New York.

Clinton’s remarks, which came exactly 13 years after the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was opened for signature, were delivered on the opening day of the biennial international conference on facilitating the treaty’s entry into force. As Clinton noted, her attendance was the first by a U.S. official since 1999. “We are glad to be back,” she said.

Annex 2 of the treaty specifies 44 countries that must ratify the treaty to trigger its entry into force. The United States has signed the treaty but not ratified it. Eight other Annex 2 countries—China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, North Korea, and Pakistan—also have not ratified it.

After the United States signed the CTBT in 1996, the Senate voted against ratification in October 1999. The Bush administration did not pursue ratification.

In her address to the CTBT conference, which was attended by senior representatives from more than 100 governments, Clinton reaffirmed the Obama administration’s public commitment to “work with the Senate to ratify the CTBT” and called on other Annex 2 states to ratify the treaty.

Clinton also told the conference that the United States is “prepared to pay our share” of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) budget so that “the global verification regime will be fully operational when the CTBT enters into force.” The comment indicated a change in policy from the Bush administration, which delivered on most of the U.S. assessed contributions for the CTBTO’s International Monitoring System (IMS), but did not contribute for activities related to preparing for on-site inspections, which will be available after the treaty’s entry into force. The shortfall led to a suspension of U.S. voting rights within the CTBTO for several years. (See ACT, June 2009.)

The IMS will include 321 monitoring stations, 80 percent of which already have been installed. Clinton “urge[d] all host countries to ensure that the data from these stations are reported to the [CTBTO’s] International Data Center,” an apparent reference to China, which is not yet allowing the transmission of data from the IMS stations that have been established inside its borders.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi told the conference that “the Chinese government will continue to work with the international community to facilitate the early entry into force” of the CTBT.

Addressing the conference Sept. 24, CTBTO Executive Secretary Tibor Tóth acknowledged the “politically difficult times during the last decade” but reflected the conference’s overall optimistic tone by saying the prospect of CTBT entry into force was more hopeful than ever.

The CTBT has 181 signatories, and on the eve of the conference, St. Vincent and the Grenadines deposited its instrument of ratification, bringing the total number of treaty ratifiers to 150. The conference was concluded by ratifying states passing a final declaration with measures to promote entry into force of the CTBT, which included calling on nonratifying states to continue their voluntary testing moratoriums.

The conference comes on the heels of several recent test ban-related comments by officials from Annex 2 states. In June, Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda stated that Indonesia would immediately seek ratification of the CTBT after the United States had ratified it. At a Sept. 21 media briefing in Washington, Tóth welcomed the comments but said Indonesia should not necessarily wait for the United States.

In India, comments by a scientist who was involved in the country’s 1998 nuclear tests have triggered a debate over testing and whether India should join the CTBT.

At the Sept. 21 briefing, Tóth said it was important that such “soul-searching” is taking place in India and elsewhere, particularly in the context of the run-up to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty review conference in May. He also said that ratifying the CTBT would be a good way for Iran to “demonstrate what it is repeating,” namely, that its nuclear program is not part of a weapons effort.

Iran has signed the CTBT but not ratified it; India has not signed it.

At the New York conference, Tóth praised the renewed attention the CTBT has received. He reminded conference attendees that although CTBT entry into force is a more realistic vision than a decade ago, much work is left to be done. “It is up to member states to translate this new momentum into concrete action,” he said.

 

Nuclear Arms Resolution Passed at UN Summit

The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a U.S.-sponsored resolution seeking “to create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons” Sept. 24, endorsing many of measures laid out in President Barack Obama’s April 5 speech in Prague. (See ACT, May 2009.) The resolution also lays the political groundwork for strengthening the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) regime and tightening nuclear export controls. It also demands that Iran and North Korea comply with their obligations under previous Security Council resolutions.

Cole Harvey

The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a U.S.-sponsored resolution seeking “to create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons” Sept. 24, endorsing many of measures laid out in President Barack Obama’s April 5 speech in Prague. (See ACT, May 2009.) The resolution also lays the political groundwork for strengthening the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) regime and tightening nuclear export controls. It also demands that Iran and North Korea comply with their obligations under previous Security Council resolutions.

Nonproliferation

In a key nonproliferation provision, the council asserted its right to determine if a case of noncompliance with the NPT constitutes a threat to international peace and security and emphasized its “primary responsibility” in addressing such a threat.

The council did not name any particular country in this regard, but the resolution expresses concern at “the current major challenges to the nonproliferation regime” and recalls prior resolutions that address the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs. The resolution demands that the “parties concerned” comply with their obligations under international law.

“This is not about singling out individual nations,” Obama said. “It is about standing up for the rights of all nations who do live up to their responsibilities.”

French President Nicolas Sarkozy made the strongest statement on noncompliance, recalling that Iran and North Korea have ignored Security Council resolutions for years. He urged the international community to bring greater pressure to bear on those two countries.

“There comes a moment when stubborn facts will compel us to take a decision,” he said, according to a UN translation. “Let us not accept violations of international rules…. There will come a moment one has to agree and take sanctions.”

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown similarly said it was time for the council to consider “far tougher sanctions” on Iran. By contrast, Presidents Hu Jintao of China and Dmitry Medvedev of Russia did not mention Iran or North Korea in their statements.

The council further called on all states to implement an additional protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The 1997 Model Additional Protocol provides the agency with greater inspection authority than it has under the standard safeguards agreements signed with NPT parties, improving the IAEA’s ability to detect undeclared nuclear activities.

The council noted that the protocol and the more basic Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement constitute “essential elements” of the IAEA safeguards system. Additionally, the council urged states to take measures that would allow the export of nuclear technology and material only to those countries that have an additional protocol in place. Many non-nuclear-weapon states are reluctant to see the protocol made mandatory and prefer that it remain a voluntary measure.

The council also endorsed a series of measures that would make it more difficult for states to abuse the NPT by importing nuclear material or technology for ostensibly peaceful purposes, only to withdraw from the treaty or covertly develop a weapons program. The resolution encourages exporter states to establish a right to demand the return of all nuclear material and technology if the receiving state withdraws from the treaty or is found by the IAEA to be in noncompliance with its responsibilities. The supplier state should also have the right to demand the return of any special nuclear material—plutonium or enriched uranium—produced through the use of imported material or technology, the resolution says.

Similarly, the council urged states to require, as a condition of nuclear supply, agreements that IAEA safeguards should continue to apply to any imported material and technology even if the receiving state terminates its agreements with the IAEA.

The council promised to address “without delay” any state’s withdrawal from the NPT and affirmed that a withdrawing state remains responsible for any violations of the treaty committed prior to withdrawal.

Disarmament

The resolution calls for further progress on nuclear disarmament, while welcoming the ongoing negotiations between the United States and Russia to replace the expiring START. The resolution calls on all states, not just parties to the NPT, to pursue negotiations on “effective measures” related to disarmament. India, Israel, and Pakistan are not parties to the NPT, while North Korea withdrew from the treaty in 2003. All four are nuclear armed.

The council also called on all states to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) at an early date and to conclude negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. Forty-four specified states, including the United States, must ratify the CTBT before it can enter into force; the United States and eight others in that group have not done so. The Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament agreed in May to begin negotiating a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) but has been stalled by procedural wrangling. Both the CTBT and FMCT are considered crucial steps on the road to nuclear disarmament by the non-nuclear-weapon states.

The resolution also “welcomes and supports” efforts to conclude nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties, saying that such zones help realize the objective of nuclear disarmament. Six such treaties are currently in force, covering Africa, Antarctica, Central Asia, Latin America, the South Pacific, and Southeast Asia. The creation of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East has been a long-standing goal of the NPT community, formally endorsed at the 1995 review conference.

The council also recalled statements issued by the five nuclear-weapon states in 1995 promising not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states.

Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy

The resolution briefly addressed the third pillar of the NPT, encouraging states’ efforts to develop peaceful nuclear industries that adhere to “the highest international standards for safeguards, security, and safety.” The council underlined states’ “inalienable right” under the NPT to pursue the peaceful use of nuclear energy, while noting that “enjoyment of the benefits of the NPT by a State-Party can be assured only by its compliance with the obligations thereunder.”

The council also expressed support for multilateral approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle. There have been several proposals, including for the creation of a fuel bank administered by the IAEA, to ensure that countries can have assured access to uranium-enrichment services without constructing enrichment facilities on their own territory. The IAEA Board of Governors has been unable to reach agreement on putting any of these proposals into action (see page 24). The council urged the IAEA board to agree on a plan of action “as soon as possible.”

IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei, addressing the summit, warned that a number of states have mastered uranium-enrichment and plutonium-separation technology and that any of them could develop nuclear weapons “in a short time” if they withdrew from the NPT. In order to close off the fuel cycle route to nuclear weapons, ElBaradei stated that the “ultimate goal should be the full multinationalization of the fuel cycle as we move towards nuclear disarmament.” ElBaradei, who is scheduled to step down from his post at the end of November, has been a strong advocate of multinationalization.

Historic Meeting

The resolution was adopted at a rare summit-level meeting of the Security Council, chaired by Obama. The meeting was attended by the heads of state or government of all but one of the 15 members of the council; Libya sent Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgham, its permanent representative to the United Nations. “With the unanimous agreement today,” Brown said after the vote, “we are sending a united and unequivocal message that we are committed to creating the conditions for a world free from nuclear weapons.”

 

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