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"[Arms Control Today] has become indispensable! I think it is the combination of the critical period we are in and the quality of the product. I found myself reading the May issue from cover to cover."

– Frank von Hippel
Co-Director of Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University
November 2009
Edition Date: 
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Cover Image: 

November 2009 Bibliography

Of Special Interest

Blix, Hans, “It’s Not Just About Iran,” The Guardian, October 8, 2009.

The Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism, The Clock is Ticking: A Progress Report on America’s Preparedness, October 21, 2009.

Obama, Barack, “President Obama’s Nobel Reaction,” The New York Times, October 9, 2009.

Payne, Keith B., “A Vision Shall Guide Them?” National Review, November 2, 2009.

Wit, Joel S., U.S. Strategy Towards North Korea: Rebuilding Dialogue and Engagement, The U.S.-Korea Institute, John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, October 2009.

I. Strategic Arms

Agence France-Presse, “Russia Plans Doctrine Shift,” The Straits Times, October 8, 2009.

Associated Press, “Russia to Allow Pre-emptive Nukes,” The New York Times, October 14, 2009.

Birch, Douglas, “Ex-US Diplomat: Russia Balks at Zero Nuke Talks,” Associated Press, October 27, 2009.

Nowal, David, “U.S. Security Adviser in Moscow Nuclear Arms Talks,” The Washington Post, October 29, 2009.

Pincus, Walter, “Lowering the Alert Levels in U.S. and Russia,” The Washington Post, October 20, 2009.

Shanker, Thom, Baker, Peter, “U.S. Seeks to Keep Watching Russia’s Weapons,” The New York Times, October 19, 2009.  

Sheridan, Mary Beth, “Clinton Urges Support for U.S.-Russia Arms Control Treaty,” The Washington Post, October 22, 2009.

Woolf, Amy F., Strategic Arms Control After START I: Issues and Options, Congressional Research Service, October 9, 2009.

II. Nuclear Proliferation

Burns, Robert, “Clinton: Worrying Trend in Spread of Nuke Know-How,” Washington Post, October 21, 2009.

Grier, Peter, “Next Nuclear Worry for U.S.: Kazakhstan?” Christian Science Monitor, October 15, 2009.

Madra, Ek, “Myanmar Says Nuclear Ambitions Are Peaceful: Japan,” Reuters, October 3, 2009.

Matishak, Martin, “Experts Warn of Proliferation Dangers Posed by Laser Enrichment,” Global Security Newswire, October 28, 2009.


Iran

Associated Press, “U.S. Making Plans for Iran Nuke Strategy,” October 27, 2009.

Baer, Robert, “Iran’s Nuclear Program: Why We Know So Little,” Time, October 6, 2009.

Bazhanov, Yevgeny, “How to Keep Iran Nuclear-Free,” The Moscow Times, October 28, 2009.

Bolton, John R., “Iran Outlook: Grim,” National Review, October 19, 2009.

Borger, Julian, “Hopes Rise Of End To Impasse As Iran Gets Two Days To Back Nuclear Deal,” The Guardian, October 21, 2009.

Broad, William J., Sanger, David E., “Report Says Iran Has Data to Make Bomb,” The New York Times, October 4, 2009.

Erdbrink, Thomas, “Iran Officials Appear Split on Nuclear Plan,” The Washington Post, October 27, 2009.

Erlanger, Steven, Landler, Mark, “Iran Agrees to Send Enriched Uranium to Russia,” The New York Times, October 1, 2009.

FARS News Agency, “Iran to Answer IAEA Draft in Two Days,” October 27, 2009.

Gorman, Siobhan, Soloman, Jay, “U.S. Considers a New Assessment of Iran Threat,” The Wall Street Journal, October 19, 2009.

Heinrich, Mark, MacDonald, Myra, “Iran Wants Big Changes to Nuclear Deal with Powers,” Reuters, October 27, 2009.

Hwang, Doo-hyong, “Iran Bought Submarines from North Korea, Helped Syria get WMDs: Report,” Yonhap News Agency, October 22, 2009.

Ignatius, David, “A Hitch in Iran’s Nuclear Plans,” The Washington Post, October 16, 2009.

Kershner, Isabel, “Iranian and Israeli Envoys Were Both at Nuclear Talks,” The New York Times, October 23, 2009.

Medish, Mark, “What’s With Iran?” The New York Times, October 21, 2009.

Perkovich, George, “Dealing with Iran: The Power of Legitimacy,” Policy Outlook, No. 50, October 2009.

Pouladi, Farhad, “Ahmadinejad Hails Erdogans Nuclear Support,” Agence France-Presse, October 27, 2009.

RIA Novosti, “Ahmadinejad Links Iran’s Nuclear Program to Israel,” October 27, 2009.

RIA Novosti, “Russia Not Currently Supplying S-300 SAM Systems to Iran,” October 28, 2009.

Russia Today, “Moscow Says Iran Didn’t Refuse to Enrich Uranium in Russia,” Russia Today, October 27, 2009.

Sanger, David E., “Both Iran and West Fear a Trap on Deal,” The New York Times, October 25, 2009.

Sanger, David E., Erlanger, Steven, Worth, Robert F., “Iran Rejects Deal to Ship Out Uranium, Officials Report,” New York Times, October 30, 2009.

United Press International, “Iran Touts Missile Precision,” October 28, 2009.

Vinocur, John, “Politicus: This Time, the Hawks Are French,” The New York Times, October 13, 2009.

Worth, Robert F., Cowell, Alan, “Iran Delivers Response to UN Nuclear Watchdog,” The New York Times, October 30, 2009.

Zuroff, Avraham, “Should Israel Bomb Iran? Strategists Debate at Jerusalem Conference,” Jewish Tribune, October 27, 2009.

North Korea

Agence France-Presse, “North Korea Said To Have 13 Types of Biological Weapons: Military,” October 5, 2009.

Cha, Victor D., “What Do They Really Want?: Obama’s North Korea Conundrum,” The Washington Quarterly, October 2009.

Chang, Gordon G., “Beijing is Violating North Korean Sanctions,” The Wall Street Journal, October 15, 2009.

Chang, Jae-Soon, “Progress in Nuclear Standoff Key to Koreas’ Summit,” The Washington Post, October 24, 2009.

Harden, Blaine, “North Korea Fires Five Missiles,” The Washington Post, October 13, 2009.

Kim, Kwang-Tae, “South Korea’s Summit Should Help Resolve Nuclear Dispute,” The Washington Post, October 24, 2009.

Michishita, Narushige, “Playing the Same Game: North Korea’s Coercive Attempt at U.S. Reconciliation,” The Washington Quarterly, October 2009.

Oliver, Christopher, Dombey, Daniel, “North Korea Ready to Resume Nuclear Arms Talks,” Financial Times, October 6, 2009.

Pollack, Jonathan D., “Kim Jong-il’s Clenched Fist,” The Washington Quarterly, October 2009.

Shen, Dingli, “Cooperative Denuclearization toward North Korea,” The Washington Quarterly, October 2009.

Stewart, Phil, “Gates Pledges Nuclear Umbrella to Counter North Korea,” The Washington Post, October 22, 2009.

India

Agence France-Presse, “India Tests Nuclear Capable Prithvi-II Missile,” October 11, 2009.

Dikshit, Sandeep, “India Inks Nuclear Pact With Argentina,” The Hindu, October 15, 2009.

Lakshmi, Rama, “Key Indian Figures Call for New Nuclear Tests Despite Deal With U.S. Scientists Break With Prime Minister Evan as Test-Ban Effort Gains Steam,” The Washington Post, October 5, 2009.

New Kerala, “U.S. Awaits Adoption of Nuclear Liability Legislation: Envoy,” October 21, 2009.

The New York Times, “Just Say No,” October 11, 2009.

Press Trust of India, “India Bans Trade of Nuke Items with North Korea,” October 27, 2009.

Pakistan

Kerr, Paul, and Nikitin, Mary Beth, Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation and Security Issues, Congressional Research Service, October 15, 2009.

Thaindian News, “Clinton Warns Pakistan Over Horrors Of Its Nukes Falling Into Terrorists’ Hands,” October 28, 2009.


III. Nonproliferation

Grossman, Elaine, M., “New Transparency Measures Urged to Fight Nuclear Technology, Material Smuggling,” Global Security Newswire, October 30, 2009.

Grossman, Elaine M., “Proliferation Watchdogs Eye Litigation to Combat Illicit Trafficking,” Global Security Newswire, October 30, 2009.

IV. Missiles and Missile Defense

Agence France-Presse, “Russia Submarine Fails to Launch Trouble Missile: Report,” October 29, 2009.

Agence France-Presse, “North Korea’s Latest Missile Test Failed,” October 29, 2009.

Agence France-Presse, “China Pointing About 1,500 Missiles At Taiwan: Taipei Official,” Defense Talk, October 19, 2009.

Antidze, Margarita, “U.S. Says Not Eyeing Non-NATO States for Shield,” Reuters, October 20, 2009.

Baker, Peter, “Poland Agrees to Accept U.S. Missile Interceptors,” New York Times, October 22, 2009.

Curtis, Paul, “Japanese Warship Will Try for Missile Shootdown Off Kauai,” Honolulu Advertiser, October 27, 2009.

Freiberg, Chris, “Silos Get a Revamp at Fort Greely,” News Miner, October 28, 2009.

Gertz, Bill, “Russia Violates Treaty, Developing Missile,” The Washington Times, October 22, 2009.

Hornby, Lucy, “China and Russia Sign Missile Notification Pact,” Reuters, October 13, 2009.

Khaleej Times, “South Korea Deploys Long-Range Cruise Missiles,” October 15, 2009.

McAvoy, Audrey, “Japan Intercepts Ballistic Missile in Hawaii Test,” Associated Press, October 27, 2009.

Reuters, “Raytheon Awarded More than $100 Million for New Missile Defense System,” October 26, 2009.

Reynolds, Isabel, “Japan-U.S. Missile Defense Faces Budget Limits,” Reuters, October 21, 2009.

RIA Novosti, “Further Tests of Bulava Missile Delayed Until End of October,” October 14, 2009.

RIA Novosti, “Russia, U.S. in Talks on New Missile Defense System – Lavov,” October 13, 2009.

Weir, Fred, “Missile Shield Shift Opens Common Ground for Russia and US,” The Christian Science Monitor, October 28, 2009.

V. Chemical and Biological Arms

Corbett Dooren, Jennifer, “Anthrax Drug Stirs Concern,” The Wall Street Journal, October 27, 2009.

Global Security Newswire, “U.S. Reaches Chemical Disarmament Milestone,” October 6, 2009.

Global Security Newswire, “Russia Reports Eliminating 42% of Chemical Warfare Materials,” October 15, 2009.

Matishak, Martin, “Libya Requests Another Extension to Chemical Weapons Disarmament Deadline,” Global Security Newswire, October 21, 2009.

Matishak, Martin, “Waiting on Administration Input, Lawmakers Delay Vote on Biosecurity Bill,” Global Security Newswire, October 29, 2009.

Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Press Release, “Lebanon Designates OPCW National Authority,” October 16, 2009.

Robinson, Bill, “Destruction Plant Taking Shape,” Richmond Register, October 26, 2009.

Schneidmiller, Chris, “Chemical Weapons Convention Body Readies Next Leader,” Global Security Newswire, October 16, 2009.

Sternberg, Steve, “Behind the Scenes, System Sniffs for Biological Attacks,” USA Today, October 5, 2009.

VI. Conventional Arms

Earth Times, “EU Drops Uzbekistan Arms Embargo,” October 27, 2009.

EU Business, “EU Slaps Arms Embargoes, Sanctions, on Guinea Junta,” October 27, 2009.

Lanka Business Online, “Sri Lanka Government May Sign Anti-Landmine Treaty,” October 27, 2009.

Lynch, Colum, “U.S. Is Open to Talks On Conventional Weapons,” The Washington Post, October 16, 2009.

Mathiason, Nick, “Cluster Bomb Trade Funded By World’s Biggest Banks,” The Guardian, October 29, 2009.

UN News Centre, “Ivorian Parties Continuing to Rearm Despite Embargo, Says UN Report,” October 27, 2009.

World Tribune, “Report: Iran Acquired Submarines from North Korea,” October 26, 2009.

VII. U.S. Policy

Ambinder, Marc, “On Nukes, Obama Plans Hands-On Approach,” The Atlantic, October 23, 2009.

Becker, Bernie, “Senate Panel Authorizes Stronger Iran Sanctions,” The New York Times, October 29, 2009.

Brooks, Peter, “Biden’s Missile-Defense Missteps,” The New York Post, October 27, 2009.

Kyl, Jon, “Why We Need to Test Nuclear Weapons,” The Wall Street Journal, October 20, 2009.

VIII. Other

Agence France-Presse, “Israel Intercepts Plane Overflying Nuclear Reactor,” October 6, 2009.

Agence France-Presse, “Kadhafi Says Palestinians Should Have Nuclear Weapons,” October 26, 2009.

Blanchard, Christopher N., and Kerr, Paul, The United Arab Emirates Nuclear Program and Proposed U.S. Cooperation, Congressional Research Service, October 28, 2009.

Broad, William J., “Property of Nuclear Critic Is Seized by Federal Agents,” New York Times, October 20, 2009.

Chulev, Martin, “Iraq Goes Nuclear With Plans for New Reactor Programme,” The Guardian, October 27, 2009.

Clark, Heather, “Ex-Los Alamos Lab Physicist Describes Meetings,” The Associated Press, October 22, 2009.

Dempsey, Judy, “Ridding Germany of U.S. Nuclear Weapons,” The New York Times, October 28, 2009.

The Hindu, “India-US to Hold Second Round of Nuke Fuel Talks in Vienna,” October 5, 2009.

Khaleej Times, “German Coalition Wants Removal of U.S. Warheads,” October 22, 2009.

Norton-Taylor, Richard, “Cross-Party Group Urges End to Nuclear Weapons Threat,” The Guardian, October 29, 2009.

Reuters, “Watchdog Suspends Work at French Plutonium Plant,” October 15, 2009.

Thaindian News, “India’s Stance on CTBT Could Affect its UN Chances: US Expert,” October 22, 2009.

Westall, Sylvia, “U.N. Agency Hunts for Microscopic Nuclear Clues,” Reuters, October 22, 2009.

Correction

On page 56 of Arms Control Today’s October 2009 issue, the article "In Memoriam: Edward M. Kennedy" contained three incorrect dates. The House voted on the nuclear freeze resolution in 1983, the subsequent election was in 1984, and U.S.-Soviet arms control talks resumed in 1985.

Editor's Note

Daniel Horner

The Obama administration has embarked on an ambitious nuclear arms control and nonproliferation agenda. That point came across clearly when Arms Control Today sat down with Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher for an interview on October 21.

A recurring theme in Tauscher’s comments was the interplay between U.S. actions and the actions of other countries. She emphasized the need for U.S. leadership on efforts such as the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and a new strategic arms treaty, but, reiterating a point that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made during a speech earlier that day, Tauscher said that it is not only the nuclear-weapon states that are responsible for dealing with nuclear weapons issues. As participants in the global nonproliferation regime, all countries have “responsibilities and things that they have to invest in, pay attention to,” she said.

The interaction between the United States and a prominent non-nuclear-weapon state, Japan, is the subject of one of our features. Masa Takubo examines the complex relationship between the two countries and finds that the current Japanese-U.S. arrangement, centered on the U.S. “nuclear umbrella,” has “come to function as a barrier to global nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament.”

In discussing U.S. policies and their repercussions, Clinton and Tauscher put considerable emphasis on the ongoing Nuclear Posture Review and what it will say about the way the United States views nuclear weapons. In a news analysis, Tom Z. Collina examines one key issue in that review: where the United States draws the line in “modernizing” its nuclear arsenal.

Elsewhere in the news section, our writers examine non-nuclear weapons and efforts to contain them. Oliver Meier reports on the election of a new director-general for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and Jeff Abramson describes a change in the U.S. position on an arms trade treaty. That change could significantly boost prospects for concluding a treaty to tighten the rules on international arms transfers, he reports.

David Elliott’s feature article looks at a “weapon” that is drawing increasing attention and concern: cyberattack. Elliott carefully weighs the costs and benefits for the United States of adhering to an international convention limiting cyberwarfare and offers suggestions on how such a convention might be structured.

 

China Says N. Korea Wants Better Relations

North Korea wants to return to multilateral denuclearization talks and improve relations with Japan, South Korea, and the United States, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said during an Oct. 10 press conference in Beijing.

Peter Crail

North Korea wants to return to multilateral denuclearization talks and improve relations with Japan, South Korea, and the United States, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said during an Oct. 10 press conference in Beijing.

Wen met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il Oct. 5 to discuss ways to bring Pyongyang back to multilateral talks on North Korea’s denuclearization. During the Oct. 10 briefing, he expressed concern that the chance for restarting those talks, which included Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States as well as China and North Korea, may not last.

“If we miss this opportunity, then we may have to make even more efforts further down the road,” Wen said.

According to an Oct. 5 report by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Kim told Wen during their meeting that his country was ready to hold multilateral talks “depending on the outcome” of bilateral discussions with the United States.

“The hostile relations between [North Korea] and the United States should be converted into peaceful ties through the bilateral talks without fail,” KCNA reported Kim as saying.

Washington has indicated that it is willing to hold bilateral discussions with North Korea but only for the purpose of bringing that country back to the six-party talks. (See ACT, October 2009.) Pyongyang withdrew from those talks, which had been held intermittently since 2003, in April. (See ACT, May 2009.)

Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said during an Oct. 11 press briefing that the United States was “pleased” that Pyongyang reaffirmed its commitment to the talks. He noted, however, that North Korea did so “with some caveats that we’re going to have to explore in greater detail,” an apparent reference to Kim’s linkage between a return to the six-party talks and the outcome of discussions with Washington.

Department of State spokesman Ian Kelly said during an Oct. 20 briefing that there has been a standing invitation from North Korea for U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth to travel to Pyongyang for talks, but that Washington has not decided whether it would accept.

North Korea’s willingness to return to the talks does not appear to be the only U.S. condition for holding discussions with Pyongyang.

Campbell told reporters Oct. 14 that the United States and its allies in the region insist that Pyongyang honor the denuclearization pledges that it has made in the past. “So we’re going to need to see North Korea accepting those provisions for us to move forward in the course of the next several months,” he said.

North Korea has not indicated that it is willing to make such a recommitment. Although KCNA quoted Kim as telling Wen that Pyongyang’s “efforts to attain the goal of denuclearizing the peninsula remain unchanged,” North Korea has also signaled that it would expand its preconditions for denuclearization. Recent statements by North Korean officials and the country’s state media have tied Pyongyang’s denuclearization to broader global nuclear disarmament efforts.

In an English-language statement issued by the Foreign Ministry Sept. 30, North Korea said that its denuclearization “is unthinkable even in a dream as long as there exists the sources that compelled it to have access to nukes,” reiterating Pyongyang’s claim that it developed nuclear weapons in response to “the U.S. nuclear threat.”

The statement was delivered in response to the UN Security Council’s Sept. 24 adoption of a U.S.-sponsored resolution outlining steps that the international community should take to work toward a “world without nuclear weapons.” (See ACT, October 2009.) North Korea rejected that resolution in its Sept. 30 statement, calling it “a double-standards document” which “failed to fully reflect” an international consensus.

At the same time, the statement reiterated that the founder of the North Korean state, Kim Il Sung, called for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, claiming that Pyongyang would pursue that goal in the context of global nuclear disarmament.

North Korea reiterated this broader condition for its denuclearization in an Oct. 14 commentary by Pyongyang’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper. “In order to make the Korean Peninsula nuclear-free, it is necessary to make a comprehensive and total elimination of all the nuclear weapons on earth,” said the editorial, which also highlighted the need for the United States to take steps toward nuclear disarmament first.

The North Korean statements go beyond Pyongyang’s previous denuclearization commitment. In a 2005 joint statement by the countries involved in the six-party talks, North Korea pledged denuclearization in return for an affirmation that there are no nuclear weapons in South Korea, assurances against attack by the United States, and pledges by Washington and Tokyo to work toward normalizing relations with Pyongyang.

Although the United States has not made plans for formal bilateral discussions with North Korea, the two countries recently held informal talks in New York. State Department Spokesman Noel Clay said in an Oct. 24 statement that Sung Kim, U.S. special envoy for the six-party talks, met that same day with Ri Gun, director-general of the North American affairs bureau of the North Korean Foreign Ministry, “to convey our position on denuclearization and the six party talks.” Ri visited the United States at the end of October to attend conferences hosted by nongovernmental organizations.

UAE-U.S. Nuclear Pact Gets Green Light

The congressional review period for the U.S. nuclear cooperation agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ended Oct. 17 without action by Congress to block or add conditions to the pact. The expiration of the review period paves the way for the governments to exchange diplomatic notes to bring the agreement into force.

Daniel Horner

The congressional review period for the U.S. nuclear cooperation agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ended Oct. 17 without action by Congress to block or add conditions to the pact. The expiration of the review period paves the way for the governments to exchange diplomatic notes to bring the agreement into force.

Department of State spokesman Ian Kelly said Oct. 22 that the U.S. government has completed all the required internal procedures for entry into force. In an e-mail to Arms Control Today, a spokeswoman for the UAE embassy in Washington said that as of the end of October, the agreement was “still going through [a] pro forma process” in the UAE.

Under U.S. law, Congress does not have to vote in favor of such agreements, which are a prerequisite for U.S. nuclear trade with other countries. However, Congress must be given 90 days of so-called continuous session to review the agreements.

Although there was some criticism of the accord, particularly in the House, there was no sustained effort during the 90 days to block or modify it.

The agreement has gone through several versions under the Bush and Obama administrations. (See ACT, June 2009.) The latest version, which was submitted to Congress in May, contains what the Obama administration describes as “a legally binding obligation” on the UAE to refrain from uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing.

Under Article 7 of the pact, the UAE “shall not possess sensitive nuclear facilities within its territory or otherwise engage in activities within its territory for, or relating to, the enrichment or reprocessing of material.” The agreement defines a “sensitive nuclear facility” as “any facility designed or used primarily for uranium enrichment, reprocessing of nuclear fuel, heavy water production, or fabrication of nuclear fuel containing plutonium.”

The agreement also says that the UAE must have an additional protocol to its International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards agreement in force before the United States will issue licenses for nuclear exports to the UAE. The protocol gives the agency increased inspection rights; the UAE has signed but not ratified its protocol.

Obama administration officials and congressional supporters of the agreement have highlighted those provisions, which have not appeared in previous U.S. nuclear agreements. The UAE agreement has frequently been cited by supporters as a potential model for other countries, particularly in the Middle East. At an Oct. 7 hearing on the agreement by the Senate Foreign Relations Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs Subcommittee, Vann H. Van Diepen, acting assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, said that “the idea that we want to have the best possible controls on enrichment and reprocessing technology will absolutely be part of the mix” in negotiating agreements with other countries but that “once you start getting into specific negotiations with specific countries in specific contexts, you may not be able to skin the cat exactly the same way each time.”

Critics of the agreement have pointed to the UAE’s history of serving as a transshipment point for illicit exports. At the hearing, Van Diepen said, “While the UAE still has work to do, we believe that it is taking the necessary steps to implement an effective export control system.”

At the hearing, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) said he had “strong concerns about expanding the use of nuclear energy, particularly in this volatile region, before we have an international regime in place to ensure that countries will not export enrichment and reprocessing technologies.” He asked Van Diepen when the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) was expected to approve an agreement to tighten restrictions on exports relating to enrichment and reprocessing.

NSG members have drafted a document that sets out specific criteria that countries must meet in order to be eligible to receive enrichment or reprocessing technology exports. However, some members of the NSG, which operates by consensus, have not supported the “clean text,” as it is known. The Group of Eight countries agreed at their summit in July to adopt the policies in the NSG text. (See ACT, September 2009.)

Van Diepen said he was “optimistic” that the NSG “ultimately” will approve the agreement. He said “a couple of countries” have raised objections dealing with a “kind of broad sovereignty principle at very high levels” and that “it’s going to take us some time to work around” the objections.

He added that there have been “very, very, very few” enrichment and reprocessing exports approved under the current NSG rules.

In a congressionally required report, the Obama administration said Oct. 8 that, at NSG meetings in June, two countries continued to raise “strong policy-level conceptual concerns” and that “[s]everal” other NSG members “continued to have concerns about limitations on the right of non-enrichment technology holders to receive enabling technology.” The administration said it is “working closely” with other governments to reach consensus in time for a November meeting of the NSG’s consultative group.

 

Congress Funds Nonproliferation Work

Congress largely approved President Barack Obama’s nuclear nonproliferation budget, with some small adjustments, when both chambers approved the fiscal year 2010 energy and water development appropriations bill last month.

Cole Harvey and Daniel Horner

Congress largely approved President Barack Obama’s nuclear nonproliferation budget, with some small adjustments, when both chambers approved the fiscal year 2010 energy and water development appropriations bill last month.

Obama signed the bill into law Oct. 28.

The legislation, which includes monies for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), appropriates $2.14 billion for nuclear nonproliferation efforts, $15 million above Obama’s request. (See ACT, June 2009.)

The act also provides $6.38 billion, the amount requested by the administration, for weapons activities.

In nonproliferation, there were several program areas in which the congressional funding differed from the administration request. The largest adjustment went to nonproliferation and verification research and development, which received $317.3 million, $20 million above the presidential request. The program works to develop new technologies to help detect nuclear proliferation.

The second-largest boost went to international nuclear materials protection and cooperation, which received $19.8 million above the president’s request, for a total of $572.1 million. Programs under that heading work in Russia and other regions of proliferation concern to secure nuclear weapons and material against theft. The program also funds the installation of equipment at foreign ports and border crossings to detect nuclear material.

Congress provided $187.2 million, $5 million less than the administration requested, for the group of programs known as nonproliferation and international security. Those programs provide technical support for international treaties and organizations such as the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and the International Atomic Energy Agency. They also work to improve export controls and safeguards in other countries.

Congress trimmed $20 million from the administration request for the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), providing $333.5 million. GTRI programs aim to reduce the risks created by stockpiles of nuclear and radiological material around the world.

A report accompanying the bill specified that $20 million of the GTRI funds be used to support the domestic production of molybdenum-99, a widely used medical isotope. The United States currently has no capacity to produce the isotope and depends on foreign producers that use highly enriched uranium (HEU) for a key part of the process. The facilities being considered for construction in the United States would use low-enriched uranium (LEU) instead.

Nonproliferation advocates have long urged that existing isotope reactors convert from HEU to LEU and that new ones be designed to use LEU. In a June letter, a coalition of nonproliferation advocates and medical professionals noted increasing problems at the foreign reactors and urged Congress to address the issue by using the energy and water appropriations bill to support domestic, LEU-based isotope production.

Congress fully funded the largest item under the nonproliferation heading, the construction of a mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication facility in South Carolina. The plant, which is the centerpiece of the NNSA’s plutonium-disposition program, is being built to make MOX fuel, a blend of uranium and plutonium oxides, from surplus U.S. weapons plutonium.

Congress provided $504.2 million for the facility but expressed concerns about its cost. In the report accompanying the bill, Congress said it was worried that “future cost increases in the construction of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility…could divert resources from high-priority overseas nonproliferation activities. All efforts should be made to ensure this does not occur.”

For fiscal year 2010, Congress returned the MOX fuel project to the NNSA, where it has been historically. In recent years, Congress, at the instigation of the House appropriations energy and water subcommittee, had moved it to the Energy Department’s nuclear energy office. The House appropriators had questioned the project’s nonproliferation value and did not want the facility to drain funds from other nonproliferation programs.

In the section covering weapons programs, the appropriations act provides $1.51 billion, $8.8 million below the administration’s request, for work directly related to maintaining the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile. The legislation provides $223.2 million for the Life Extension Program (LEP) for the W76 warhead, the only LEP currently being undertaken by the NNSA. The LEP is intended to allow the 1970s-era W76 to remain in service for another 30 years without conducting nuclear tests.

Congress met the administration’s funding request for the maintenance of all nuclear bombs and warheads in the stockpile, with one exception. The request included $65 million for a study of the B61 nuclear bomb to determine options related to its refurbishment and service-life extension. Congress approved half that amount, $32.5 million, to study only the non-nuclear components of the bomb.

The new law also provides $96.1 million for nuclear weapons dismantlement, $12 million more than the administration requested.

The ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Jerry Lewis (Calif.), faulted the legislation for inadequately funding the nuclear weapons complex. “Given the Obama administration’s plan to reduce the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile, we need to make sure that the weapons we have left are safe and reliable, especially at a time when new threats to our security are emerging around the world. The funding level in this bill is simply inadequate to meet this need,” he said.

 

News Analysis: Officials Air Views on Key Stockpile Issue

As the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) moves toward completion in the coming months, the Obama administration is grappling with a major question about the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Given the stated need to maintain the arsenal for the foreseeable future, can the United States reliably maintain existing warhead designs, or will the country eventually need new ones?

Public statements by senior officials from the departments of Defense and State appear to be at odds on this point, and officials from other parts of the government apparently have weighed in as well.

Tom Z. Collina and Daniel Horner

As the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) moves toward completion in the coming months, the Obama administration is grappling with a major question about the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Given the stated need to maintain the arsenal for the foreseeable future, can the United States reliably maintain existing warhead designs, or will the country eventually need new ones?

Public statements by senior officials from the departments of Defense and State appear to be at odds on this point, and officials from other parts of the government apparently have weighed in as well.

The debate reveals what some observers see as a tension born from President Barack Obama’s Prague speech in April, where he called for “a world without nuclear weapons” while also saying, “As long as these weapons exist, the United States will maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal to deter any adversary.”

Inside the Obama administration, this debate is not about nuclear testing; the administration strongly supports the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and opposes additional tests. Nor is it about developing weapons with new military capabilities.

At issue is how long nuclear warheads “last.” During the Cold War, nuclear warheads were continually replaced with new, more-lethal types, developed with the help of more than 1,000 nuclear tests. The United States has not conducted a nuclear test since 1992. Since then, no new warhead types have been introduced into the arsenal. As a result, existing designs are getting older.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has said repeatedly that the United States probably needs to replace at least some existing weapons with new designs. He told the Air Force Association Sept. 16 that the United States should “continue to make investments, and I think larger investments, in modernizing [its] nuclear infrastructure.” That would include programs to extend the life of nuclear warheads “and in one or two cases probably new designs that will be safer and more reliable,” he said.

He added, “We have no desire for new capabilities. That’s a red herring. This is about modernizing and keeping safe a capability that everyone acknowledges we will have to have for some considerable period into the future before achieving some of the objectives of significant arms reduction and eventually no nuclear weapons at all.”

According to knowledgeable sources, the NPR has not reached a conclusion about the need for new warhead designs. Gates supported a similar effort in the Bush administration called the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program, which was canceled by Congress.

A top Department of State official has publicly opposed the idea of any program that would pursue new designs, even if they would not provide new capabilities. In an Oct. 21 interview with Arms Control Today (see page 6), Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher declined to comment specifically on whether the NPR would include a new version of the RRW program. She said she does not “consider RRW to be anything other than something from the past.” Noting that she chaired the House subcommittee that had oversight of the program and that she led the effort to kill it, she said, “When I kill something, it stays dead.”

In comments to The Cable in September, she said, “I think there are a lot people that still hope for the return of [the] RRW [program], and they are going to be sadly disappointed.”

A former congressional staffer who followed the RRW issue closely said Oct. 27 that there was “an apparent disconnect” between the public comments of Gates and Tauscher.

Eric Edelman, who served as undersecretary of defense for policy under Gates, said in a separate Oct. 27 interview that his impression is that Gates “is not wedded to something called RRW” but does strongly support modernization of the U.S. stockpile.

Noting that he no longer has day-to-day contact with Gates, Edelman, now a distinguished fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said he believes that Gates views such an effort as necessary if the Obama administration is to get Senate approval for a new strategic arms control agreement and the CTBT.

Edelman, who held senior positions in the State and Defense Departments, said his sense was that the administration “has not come to closure yet” on this issue. However, it is not “bad” to have differing views within the administration, he said. “Those disagreements get ironed out because, at the end of the day, it’s the president’s decision,” he said.

Tauscher’s position reportedly has some backing in the White House. At a high-level meeting in June, Vice President Joe Biden opposed the idea of a resurrected RRW program on the grounds that the perception that the United States was upgrading its nuclear warheads could undermine the administration’s credibility on nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, according to an Aug. 18 report by Global Security Newswire.

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which, along with the Defense Department, is responsible for maintaining the U.S. nuclear arsenal, is also pushing for the ability to design new warheads, as is the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM).

RRW Redux?

Some are seeking to achieve certain goals of the earlier RRW program by folding the basic idea—that new-design warheads will be needed in the future—into the definition of “stockpile management.” The fiscal year 2010 defense authorization bill states that the top objectives of the Stockpile Management Program are “to increase the reliability, safety, and security of the nuclear weapons stockpile of the United States” and “to further reduce the likelihood of the resumption of underground nuclear weapons testing.” Some see new warhead designs as serving both of these goals.

The idea of certifying new warhead designs for the arsenal without the help of nuclear tests now seems feasible, thanks to new diagnostic tools in the Stockpile Stewardship Program that have led to greater understanding of the basic physics of nuclear weapons. STRATCOM and the NNSA are now making the case that new, untested weapons designs would be more reliable than well-tested, older designs.

“Confidence in [the] reliability of [the] aging stockpile is decreasing,” say STRATCOM viewgraphs, and STRATCOM wants the option to “replace” existing warheads with new designs. The STRATCOM viewgraphs, originally obtained by The Washington Times and published in September, describe a “range of options to manage the stockpile” into the future, from least intrusive to most, as follows:

Refurbish: Rebuild the warhead nuclear components as close to the original as possible.

Reuse: Mix and match the best nuclear components of different warheads; may have to remanufacture parts.

Replace: Manufacture new nuclear components similar to those previously nuclear tested.

The last option is STRATCOM’s new version of the RRW program. STRATCOM is evaluating a new design option for a common warhead to replace the W78 (Minuteman ICBM) and W88 (Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile) warheads for the post-2020 time frame.

NNSA viewgraphs released in September by Nuclear Watch New Mexico, a local group that tracks Los Alamos National Laboratory, include a similar list of the three options, stating that “[r]eplacement is essential for a viable modernized stockpile with increased flexibility and diversity.”

This RRW-style approach to stockpile maintenance is controversial in part because it would involve the design of new warheads whose performance would not be confirmed with nuclear tests—something that has never been done in the age of modern U.S. weapons. RRW critics are concerned that new, untested designs may turn out to be less reliable than current designs, eventually leading to calls for renewed nuclear testing.

Warhead Lifetimes

Because nuclear warheads are no longer being replaced with new designs, as they were during the Cold War, the average age of the nuclear arsenal is increasing beyond previous experience.

That is not a major concern for the non-nuclear parts of warheads, which can be replaced under the Life Extension Program (LEP) and fully tested without nuclear explosions. But nuclear parts of warheads—primaries (plutonium pits) and secondaries (lithium-deuteride components)—cannot be explosively tested.

RRW skeptics counter that the aging of the arsenal is not a near-term problem because recent studies show that the pits can last a very long time.

The NNSA had estimated as recently as April 2006 that the pits would last roughly 45-60 years. In November 2006, Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos National Laboratories concluded that plutonium pits in current nuclear weapons have a shelf life of 85 years to perhaps 100 years or more. That conclusion was endorsed by the JASON group of senior defense consultants and by the NNSA. “These studies show that the degradation of plutonium in our nuclear weapons will not affect warhead reliability for decades,” then-NNSA Administrator Linton Brooks said in a November 2006 press release. “It is now clear that although plutonium aging contributes, other factors control the overall life expectancy of nuclear weapons systems,” he said. Given the arsenal’s current age, the newer estimates indicate that it will be more than 50 years before any plutonium parts in the 2009 stockpile start facing significant aging issues.

For now, it appears that independent weapons scientists have more confidence in existing, well-tested designs than new, untested ones. In an April 2008 paper, Sidney Drell, a JASON member and former director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, and Marvin Adams of Texas A&M University found that “[w]e still have far to go before answering whether new designs can be created that incorporate all the desired attributes, can be fielded without [underground tests], and provide confidence as high as or higher than we have currently in the legacy weapons.”

A new JASON report on the LEP has been completed, and an unclassified summary has been prepared but not yet released by the NNSA, according to an administration official.

Congress in October included $223 million for the LEP in the fiscal year 2010 energy and water development appropriations act. All of the money is to go to refurbishment, but not replacement, of the W76 warhead, which is used on Trident submarines. The act also provides $32.5 million to study refurbishing non-nuclear parts of the B61 bomb. Seeking to avoid any appearance of designing new nuclear weapons, the law’s language states that no funding was requested to study refurbishment of the nuclear parts of the B61 and that any funds to be used for that purpose require prior congressional approval.

 

Iranian Response to LEU Fuel Deal Unclear

Iran failed to respond formally in October to an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) proposal under which most of Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium (LEU) would be converted to nuclear fuel abroad. The delayed response coincided with mixed messages from Iranian officials and state media regarding Iran’s approach to the arrangement and with vocal opposition to the proposal from political opponents of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Peter Crail

Iran failed to respond formally in October to an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) proposal under which most of Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium (LEU) would be converted to nuclear fuel abroad. The delayed response coincided with mixed messages from Iranian officials and state media regarding Iran’s approach to the arrangement and with vocal opposition to the proposal from political opponents of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

France, Russia, and the United States agreed to the proposal Oct. 23 following IAEA-hosted negotiations Oct. 19-21 between those three countries and Iran. According to an Oct. 23 IAEA statement, Tehran told the agency that it would need more time to respond, but was “considering the proposal in depth and in a favorable light.” The agency said Oct. 29 that it received an “initial response” from and would continue consultations with Tehran and the other parties. Department of State spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters the same day that Washington needs “further clarification” and a formal response from Iran.

Although the specific terms of the proposal have not been made public, the deal is based on an Oct. 1 agreement “in principle” between Iran and the P5+1, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and Germany. Under the proposal, Iran would send about 1,200 kilograms of its LEU to Russia for further enrichment. France would then fabricate that material or Russian-origin enriched uranium into fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor. That reactor has been operating on Argentine fuel since 1993. It is expected to run out of fuel “in roughly the next year, year and a half,” a U.S. official said during an Oct. 1 background briefing.

The discussions over arrangements to supply the reactor with fuel began several months ago. In an Oct. 21 interview with Iran’s state-owned Press TV, Iranian Permanent Representative to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltanieh said that he sent a letter to IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei June 2 requesting assistance in refueling the reactor. He said Russia and the United States had indicated that they would be willing to participate in an arrangement to provide such fuel and were joined by France to carry out the manufacturing.

The senior U.S. official said that this arrangement “would be a positive interim step to help build confidence” for further negotiations with Iran on the nuclear issue.

The talks in Vienna were intended to work out the technical details of the deal. When Iranian negotiators sought approval for the IAEA proposal from Tehran, however, the arrangements faced opposition from several major political figures.

Ali Larijani, speaker of the Iranian parliament and former head nuclear negotiator, questioned whether Iran should trust sending its LEU stockpile abroad. “My guess is that the Americans have made a secret deal with certain countries to take enriched uranium away from us under the pretext of providing nuclear fuel,” he told the Iranian Students News Agency Oct. 24, adding, “I see no links between providing the fuel for the Tehran reactor and sending Iran’s LEU abroad.”

Mir Hossein Mousavi, Ahmadinejad’s key opponent in Iran’s still-disputed presidential election in June, also criticized the arrangement to send Iran’s LEU abroad. He was quoted by his official news Web site Kaleme Oct. 27 as stating that, under such a deal, “the hard work of thousands of scientists would be ruined.”

“And if we cannot keep our promises then it would prepare the ground for harder sanctions against the country,” he added.

Weighing in on the issue, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki left the door open for buying fuel or agreeing to an arrangement to ship out some of the LEU stockpile. He told the Islamic Republic News Agency Oct. 26 that “we might spend money as in the past or we might present part of the fuel that we have right now, and currently do not need, for further processing.” He indicated Iran would provide a response within a few days.

Tehran currently does not appear to have any other civilian use for its LEU stockpile. Iran’s sole nuclear reactor at Bushehr is scheduled to start operations later this year. (See ACT, April 2009.) Russia has already supplied the first load of fuel for that reactor. Although Iran has expressed its intent to construct another reactor at a site called Darkhovin, the IAEA said in an Aug. 28 report that it has not received the requested preliminary design information for that facility.

Iran’s Options Limited

In spite of suggestions by Iranian officials to purchase fuel rather than agree to the IAEA proposal, Iran’s ability to do so appears in doubt.

France, one of two countries with the technical capability to fabricate fuel to the specifications required, has stipulated that it would not agree to do so unless Iran shipped most of its LEU stockpile out of the country by the end of the year. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told reporters Oct. 20 that the transfer of the uranium out of Iran “must be before the end of the year, [and] there must be at least 1,200 kilograms—on that we won’t back down.”

The 1,200-kilogram figure represents about 75 percent of Iran’s LEU stockpile. According to U.S. officials and independent experts, Iran has produced enough LEU to be able to build one nuclear weapon if the material were further enriched. At its current rate of production, it would take Iran about a year to replace the 1,200 kilograms. Iran is likely to reduce that timeframe as it continues to expand its enrichment capacity.

Amid the French stipulations, Tehran has shown some resistance to France’s involvement in such an arrangement. Mottaki said during an Oct. 20 press conference that Tehran would hold negotiations with Russia and the United States on supplying the nuclear fuel but that “there is no need for France to be present.”

Iran was previously involved in a decade-long legal dispute with France regarding Iran’s investment in Eurodif, a French-based uranium-enrichment consortium. (See ACT, January/February 2006.) Following Iran’s 1979 revolution, Tehran halted payments to the consortium for nuclear fuel it declared it would no longer need and demanded repayment of a $1 billion loan, plus interest, it made to help build the Eurodif plant in France.

Before the two countries came to a settlement in 1991, Iran changed its position and requested that France fulfill its old contracts to provide fuel for the Tehran reactor. By that time, however, Iran fell under U.S.-led Western sanctions, and Paris denied Iran the fuel.

Iran has since used that dispute as a rationale for producing its own nuclear fuel rather than relying on the international market. Soltanieh said during his Oct. 21 interview that he raised the Eurodif issue in the fuel deal negotiations to express concern that the fuel might not be returned in light of what he called a “previous unfortunate confidence deficit.”

In addition to France, the only state that can make fuel to the required specifications for the Tehran reactor is Argentina, a country that has been at odds with Iran since August when Tehran appointed Ahmad Vahidi as defense minister. Vahidi is wanted by Argentina in connection with the 1994 bombing of a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires.

Argentina and Iran concluded a deal in 1987 for Argentina to convert the Tehran reactor to operate on fuel enriched to 19.75 percent uranium-235 and supply a shipment of fuel, which has been in use since 1993. When the United States provided Iran with the reactor under the Atoms for Peace program in 1967, it operated on 93 percent enriched uranium fuel. Uranium enriched to 20 percent of the fissile isotope uranium-235 is considered highly enriched, although the percentage generally required for weapons purposes is considerably higher.

Iranian officials have threatened to carry out further enrichment in Iran if the talks fall through. Ali Shirzadian, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), told reporters Oct. 10 that “should talks fail or sellers refuse to provide Iran with its required fuel, Iran will enrich uranium to the 20 percent level needed itself.”

Iran does not currently have the technical capability to manufacture fuel for the reactor from that enriched uranium, but having uranium enriched to the 19.75 percent needed for the facility would place Iran closer to the enrichment levels required for a nuclear weapon. According to IAEA reports, Iran has enriched its current LEU stockpile to levels below 5 percent, consistent with the needs of most nuclear power reactors.

IAEA Inspects Second Enrichment Site

Meanwhile, IAEA inspectors visited for the first time Iran’s recently revealed uranium-enrichment site near the city of Qom Oct. 25. (See ACT, October 2009.) Iran has named the plant Fordo, after the village believed to have sustained the largest percentage of casualties in the country’s eight-year war with Iraq during the 1980s.

The West claims that the previously undeclared site was likely to be used to produce material for nuclear weapons. U.S. intelligence officials have since stated that now that the facility is in the open, Iran will not likely use it for that purpose.

During an Oct. 4 joint press conference with AEOI head Ali Akbar Salehi in Tehran, ElBaradei said that the agency must have “comprehensive cooperation” from Iran regarding the enrichment site. He added, “Iran should have informed the IAEA the day they had decided to construct the facility.”

The agency’s next report on Iran’s nuclear activities is due to be considered by the IAEA Board of Governors when it meets Nov. 26-27.

Arms Exports Fell in 2008, UN Data Say

After increasing to record levels in 2007, transfers of major weapons systems as well as small arms and light weapons dropped in 2008, according to voluntary reports submitted to the United Nations’ conventional arms registry.

Jeff Abramson

After increasing to record levels in 2007, transfers of major weapons systems as well as small arms and light weapons dropped in 2008, according to voluntary reports submitted to the United Nations’ conventional arms registry.

Based on a 1991 agreement, the UN Register of Conventional Arms collects voluntary information on imports, exports, domestic production, and holdings of seven categories of major weapons systems: tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, and missiles and missile launchers. In 2003, countries agreed to request data on small arms and light weapons but did not create an official category for the weapons. (See ACT, September 2009.)

A comparison of reports submitted to the UN by or near the end of September for each reporting year indicates that exports of major weapons systems dropped from 28,577 to 7,913 between 2007 and 2008. Small arms and light weapons exports declined from 2,089,986 to 1,480,790, according to the data in the reports (see table 1).

The register’s data do not provide a complete picture of the global arms trade. Some countries do not submit reports; all countries do not define transfers in the same way; and there is no verification provision. Nonetheless, the register is the primary international mechanism for states to detail their arms trade, and the 2008 decline aligns with findings reported by other sources. A recent report from the Congressional Research Service said the conventional arms market shrank in 2008. (See ACT, October 2009.) The 2009 yearbook produced by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) calculated a drop of approximately 10 percent in major conventional weapons trade between 2007 and 2008.

The number of countries submitting data to the register declined. At least 100 countries submitted records each year from 1999 to 2006, but that number fell to 91 for 2007. By September 30 of this year, only 75 countries had reported calendar year 2008 transfers. Some of that decrease can be attributed to a reduction in the number of countries filing “nil” reports. For 2006, 63 countries filed such reports, claiming no transfers in any of the seven categories of major weapons. Only 39 did so for 2007 and 32 for 2008. Such reports, which affirmatively state that there were no transfers, are seen as statements of support for the register. The recent failure of a group of government experts to recommend adding small arms and light weapons as an official eighth category may further erode participation in the register.

Missiles Lead Decline in Major Weapons

Five of the seven major weapons categories saw a drop in deliveries, led by a dramatic decline in claimed missile and missile launcher exports. Because a missile and a warship are each counted as one unit in the register despite the difference in size and capability, comparing overall numbers can be misleading.

Slovakia, which reported the export of 17,740 missiles in 2007, said it had no missile exports in 2008, accounting for the biggest single difference.

Within the missiles category, Turkey delivered 1,480 122 mm rockets to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), marking the fourth year in a row that Ankara claimed at least 1,000 missiles exported to Abu Dhabi. As in 2007, one-half of the rockets delivered contained submunitions, which are smaller bombs that often fail to explode as originally intended. The Convention on Cluster Munitions, which would ban such weapons, has 23 ratifying parties, seven short of the number required for entry into force, but neither Turkey nor the UAE has signed the treaty (see page 5).

Russia led the missile category in 2008, noting a total of 1,683 missiles and launching mechanisms exported. Most went to Algeria, Egypt, and Venezuela. These weapons accounted for the vast majority of Russia’s 1,884 claimed exports across all seven categories.

Among Russia’s exports were 12 attack helicopters and eight combat aircraft sent to Venezuela. The strengthening relationship between the two countries drew statements of concern from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton when additional arms deals were announced in September.

Russia continued its long-standing arms relationship with India, sending the country 24 tanks, 12 large-caliber artillery systems, four combat aircraft, and 29 missiles, according to the Russian report. India claimed that all its imported weapons came from Russia in 2008, but future sales to the country are a possible source of Russian-U.S. rivalry as Washington seeks to expand its conventional arms trade with New Delhi. U.S. firms are currently competing for a combat fighter contract estimated at more than $10 billion. (See ACT, September 2009.)

As with Russia, missiles accounted for the majority of U.S. exports, with 298 of a total of 463 weapons exported falling into the missile category. According to the U.S. report, Turkey received 114 missiles from the United States. Washington also noted the transfer of 89 missiles to Pakistan, an ally in U.S. anti-terrorism efforts and a traditional rival of India.

In the combat aircraft category, the United States led all other states, claiming the transfer of 50 such weapons in 2008. Israel received 17 F-16D aircraft, the most sophisticated combat planes exported by the United States. Pakistan received 10 F-16Bs. Belarus was second in total claimed exports of combat aircraft, sending 33 Russian-origin MiG-23s to Syria and 11 Russian-origin Su-25s to Sudan.

China, a traditional supplier of less-sophisticated arms, especially to Africa, claimed very few transfers in 2008. Beijing delivered 20 armored combat vehicles to Rwanda and six fighter aircraft to Pakistan, a marked decrease from its reports of 120 exported weapons in 2007 and 387 in 2006.

Paul Holtom, an arms expert at SIPRI, highlighted China’s low number as one of several filings in 2008 in which national interpretations of what constitutes a transfer could lead to an underreporting of exports of conventional arms. In an Oct. 19 interview, he also noted the relative absence of data directly from African countries.

The group of governmental experts examining the register earlier this year concluded that the register “continues to be an important confidence-building measure.” Although the overall number of countries participating in the register declined, most major weapons suppliers, with the exception of Israel, did submit reports on their major weapons exports.

Those reports indicate that some African countries were major importers in certain weapons categories. The United States reported sending 55 battle tanks to Egypt, Russia reported the transfer of 53 tanks to Algeria, and Ukraine sent 33 tanks to Kenya. According to exporter’s claims, Nigeria received 153 armored combat vehicles, 149 from Turkey and four from Canada, while Chad received 113 armored combat vehicles, 88 from Ukraine and 25 from France.

Overall, 27 countries filed non-nil export reports for major weapons in 2008, providing data on 74 recipient states.

U.S. Is Dominant Small-Arms Customer

Although not filing a report on its small arms and light weapons transfers, the United States remained the dominant destination for exports of those weapons in a shrinking market. (See ACT, November 2007; October 2008.)

Eighteen of 22 countries reporting nonzero and nonclassified exports of small arms and light weapons for 2008 indicated the United States was a recipient. Together, these states transferred 936,036 weapons to the United States, 63 percent of all claimed exports. In 2007 the United States received approximately 75 percent of the 2.1 million small arms and light weapons exported.

Italy, the largest exporter in 2008, reported transferring 472,991 small arms, 301,957 of which went to the United States. Turkey received 28,989 small arms from Italy; Russia received 23,978. Mexico and South Africa each imported more than 10,000 weapons from Italy, according to Rome’s report.

All of Italy’s exports came from the first two of six categories of small arms, consisting of revolvers and self-loading pistols, and rifles and carbines. The four additional small arms categories are assault rifles, submachine guns, light machine guns, and others. Light weapons, which accounted for slightly more than 2 percent of total exports claimed in 2008 by all countries, are defined in seven categories as heavy machine guns, hand-held under-barrel and mounted grenade launchers, portable anti-tank guns, recoilless rifles, portable anti-tank missile launchers and rocket systems, mortars of calibers less than 75 millimeters, and others.

Italy replaced Croatia as the top exporter in 2008. Croatia claimed the export of more than 650,000 weapons in 2007, but reported only the transfer of 10,000 AK-47s to Iraq in 2008.

After not filing for 2007, the Philippines reported transferring 299,739 small arms in 2008 to become the second-largest exporter. The United States received 220,316 small arms from the Philippines, Thailand received 50,538, and Australia 15,290. As with Italy, two categories, revolvers and self-loading pistols and rifles and carbines, comprised the entirety of Philippine exports.

The United Kingdom remained the third-largest exporter of small arms and light weapons, claiming the transfer of 283,450 weapons, 266,906 of which went to the United States. Both numbers were approximately 30,000 higher than in 2007. Unlike Italy and the Philippines, the majority of the United Kingdom’s exports consisted of assault rifles.

Submissions to the register did capture some small arms and light weapons transfers to Afghanistan and Iraq in 2008, although neither country submitted a report. Four countries claimed sending 18,852 weapons in total to Iraq. Five countries transferred a total of 16,838 weapons to Afghanistan. In each instance, the number of weapons declined significantly from 2007, when nearly 100,000 weapons went to Iraq and 30,000 to Afghanistan. The ongoing lack of a U.S. small arms and light weapons report, even though the United States is a known major supplier of weapons to Iraq, indicates that the register only captures a small portion of the transfers to that country. (See ACT, September 2007.)

In total, exporting states claimed to transfer weapons to 131 countries in 2008.

Table 1: International Arms Exports Reported to the UN Register of Conventional Arms

2007 2008
Major Weapons Systems
Warships 16 14
Attack Helicopters 81 70
Combat Aircraft 219 222
Large-Caliber Artillery Systems 630 874
Battle Tanks 954 510
Armored Combat Vehicles 2,254 1,385
Missiles and Missile Launchers 24,423 4,838
TOTAL 28,577 7,913
Small Arms and Light Weapons 2,089,986 1,480,790

Source: Data derived from claimed exports in voluntary submissions to the UN Register of Conventional Arms by or near the end of September of each reporting year. See http://disarmament.un.org/UN_REGISTER.NSF for specific country reports. See www.armscontrol.org/act/2009_11/UNROCA for more details on data calculations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes on Data Source

Major weapons data is derived from voluntary reports of major weapons exports submitted to the annual UN Register of Conventional Arms. Data for 2007 was compiled near the end of September 2008 from 32 arms suppliers: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, China, the CzechRepublic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Montenegro, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States). Data for 2008 was submitted by Sept. 30, 2009 from 27 arms suppliers: Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States,

Small arms and light weapons data is derived from voluntary reports of small arms and light weapons exports to the annual UN Register of Conventional Arms. Data for 2007 was submitted by Sept. 24, 2008 from 25 arms suppliers: Albania, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the Ukraine. Data for 2008 was submitted by Sept. 30, 2009 from 22 arms suppliers: Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, CzechRepublic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Slovakia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdoom. Sweden also submitted details, but stated that numbers of items transferred were classified. Additional countries filed reports indicating no exports or that the number of exports is classified.

Data files for 2008 import and exports reports are attached, as well as country and weapons codes associated with that data. Not all notes associated with each transfer are captured in these files, which were created by the Arms Control Association based on records available online at http://disarmament.un.org/UN_REGISTER.NSF. In some cases, there was a discrepancy between the reports available online and those published as a pdf document (A/64/135). These discrepancies are highlighted in red in the files. The United Nations is not responsible for any transcription errors made in the creation of these files.

U.S. Supports Arms Trade Treaty Process

The United States last month pledged its support for talks on a legally binding instrument to regulate the global trade of conventional arms, breaking with previous U.S. votes against the United Nations-led process. UN member states are now expected to approve a schedule that could see an arms trade treaty (ATT) negotiated in 2012.

Jeff Abramson

The United States last month pledged its support for talks on a legally binding instrument to regulate the global trade of conventional arms, breaking with previous U.S. votes against the United Nations-led process. UN member states are now expected to approve a schedule that could see an arms trade treaty (ATT) negotiated in 2012.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in an Oct. 14 statement that “the Arms Trade Treaty initiative presents us with the opportunity to promote the same high standards for the entire international community that the United States and other responsible arms exporters already have in place to ensure that weaponry is transferred for legitimate purposes.” Her statement marked a change in U.S. policy from the Bush administration, which opposed resolutions on the ATT process in 2006 and 2008. (See ACT, December 2008.)

The breakthrough occurred as the UN First Committee considered a draft resolution that would convert the four remaining sessions of an open-ended working group into preparatory committee meetings leading up to the UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty in 2012. The resolution, approved Oct. 30, states that the conference will be undertaken “on the basis of consensus,” a controversial and key demand made by the United States.

Supporters of a consensus process argue that it is necessary to promote universal standards. In her brief statement, Clinton said that “[c]onsensus is needed to ensure the widest possible support for the Treaty and to avoid loopholes in the Treaty that can be exploited by those wishing to export arms irresponsibly.” Last year, U.S. officials indicated to Arms Control Today that the United States would likely have supported the 2008 resolution if it had included a consensus provision. Observers suggest that U.S. leaders also do not want a treaty to proceed without them, as happened recently with the Convention on Cluster Munitions. (See ACT, December 2008.)

Detractors of the consensus requirement contend that it gives individual countries the ability to stall the process or weaken the final document.

The United States is the world’s top arms exporter and maintains what Clinton called the “gold standard” of export controls on arms transfers. ATT advocates have long been seeking Washington’s involvement in the treaty process.

British Foreign Minister David Miliband, whose country has been an ATT leader, welcomed Clinton’s announcement. In an Oct. 15 statement, he said, “For many years we have sought an active U.S. partner in the drive for a strong Arms Trade Treaty. Now for the first time, we have one.”

With U.S. opposition removed, some observers had wondered whether other major arms-trading countries that had previously abstained would be forced to vote either for or against the treaty process. However, China, India, Pakistan, and Russia again abstained. Those countries participated in last year’s group of governmental experts meetings but abstained in UN First Committee and General Assembly votes. In total, 153 states voted for the resolution, 19 abstained, and Zimbabwe voted against it.

The resolution was offered by Argentina, Australia, Costa Rica, Finland, Japan, Kenya, and the United Kingdom. Committee recommendations are typically referred to and later approved by the entire General Assembly.

In 2006 the General Assembly passed Resolution 61/89, entitled “Toward an Arms Trade Treaty: Establishing Common International Standards for the Import, Export and Transfer of Conventional Arms.” The resolution led to the submission of views from approximately 100 states on the feasibility and parameters of a treaty. It also led to the establishment of a group of governmental experts. The United States decided at the last minute to participate in the group. (See ACT, March 2008.)

In December 2008, the General Assembly passed Resolution 63/240 establishing an open-ended working group to meet for six one-week sessions from 2009 to 2011. In contrast to a group of governmental experts, which is closed to the public and limited to invited experts, an open-ended working group conducts public debate that is open to all member states.

This year, the open-ended working group met March 2-6 and July 13-17 in New York. Far from resolving all issues, the group reported that the meetings had “allowed for constructive, in-depth, and extensive discussion on the elements regarding objectives, goals, scope, parameters and other aspects where consensus could be developed for their inclusion in a possible treaty.”

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