I salute the Arms Control Association … for its keen vision of the goals ahead and for its many efforts to identify and to promote practical measures that are so vitally needed to achieve them. -

– Amb. Nobuyasu Abe
Former UN Undersecretary General for Disarmament Affairs
January 28, 2004
September 2011
Edition Date: 
Thursday, September 1, 2011
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India, Pakistan Resume Security Dialogue

Kristina Popova

The foreign ministers of nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan met July 27 in New Delhi, resuming their high-level dialogue on security and confidence-building measures for the first time since the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai. A key focus of the discussions was the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir.

The bilateral relationship “should not be held hostage to the past,” said Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. “It is our desire to make the dialogue process uninterrupted and uninterruptible,” she said.

Khar’s Indian counterpart, S.M. Krishna, expressed confidence that relations between the two countries are “on the right track,” but he cautioned that “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” A joint statement, released after the official talks, characterized the atmosphere as “candid, cordial and constructive” and announced that the two sides had agreed on new arrangements to increase travel and trade across the disputed Line of Control.

The ministers also committed to convening meetings of expert groups in Islamabad in September on confidence-building measures relating to nuclear and conventional weapons, which would constitute the first information-sharing initiative in years on nuclear issues between the two states. The most recent development in this field was a 2005 agreement on prenotification of ballistic missile tests.

The bilateral discussions have taken on a new urgency in the wake of Pakistan’s efforts to expand the production of fissile material for weapons. Islamabad’s current arsenal is estimated to include between 90 and 110 warheads. India is believed to have enough separated fissile material for an arsenal of more than 100 nuclear warheads. In April, Pakistan tested the Hatf-9 short-range, nuclear-capable ballistic missile. (See ACT, May 2011.)

The foreign ministers of nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan met July 27 in New Delhi, resuming their high-level dialogue on security and confidence-building measures for the first time since the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

New START Hits 1,000 Notifications

Tom Z. Collina

The United States and Russia have conducted more than 1,000 notifications under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) since its entry into force in February, Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance Rose Gottemoeller said Aug. 4 at a conference in Omaha hosted by U.S. Strategic Command. The notifications are used to track movements and changes in the status of treaty-covered systems, such as when a heavy bomber is out of its home country for more than 24 hours.

Gottemoeller said the United States and Russia together have conducted eight on-site inspections since April. “We are keeping par with each other,” she said. Gottemoeller said that, for the first time, the two sides were exchanging data about actual re-entry vehicle (warhead) loadings on U.S. and Russian missiles.

“On-site inspection procedures under New START allow the United States to confirm the actual number of warheads on any randomly selected” Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles, she said. This inspection right did not exist under the original START, which was in force from 1994 to 2009.

Also under New START, every six months the sides exchange a comprehensive database of exactly where weapons systems are located, are undergoing maintenance, or have been retired. This semiannual exchange creates a “living document,” a comprehensive look into each other’s strategic nuclear forces, Gottemoeller said.

The data exchanges under New START “are providing us with a more detailed picture of Russian strategic forces than we were able to obtain from earlier exchanges,” Gottemoeller said, “and the inspections will give us crucial opportunities to confirm the validity of that data.” Both sides back up the verification regime with their own national technical means of verification, such as satellites and other monitoring systems.

New START’s “verification regime works and will help to push the door open to new, more intrusive inspections involving warheads or other smaller items of account. Such inspections will be crucial to any future nuclear reduction plans,” Gottemoeller said.

The United States and Russia have conducted more than 1,000 notifications under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) since its entry into force in February, Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance Rose Gottemoeller said Aug. 4 at a conference in Omaha hosted by U.S. Strategic Command.

Talks on Southeast Asia NWFZ Resume

Xiaodon Liang

For the first time in a decade, representatives of the five recognized nuclear-weapon states met last month with officials from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for discussions on the ratification of the protocol to the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone, also known as the Bangkok Treaty. The protocol would commit the nuclear-weapon states—China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—to abide by the articles of the treaty and not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against states-parties.

Although the Aug. 8-12 Geneva meeting did not yield any publicly announced developments, Indonesia, the current chair of the commission overseeing the treaty’s implementation, has confirmed that parties will meet again in October to continue talks. In an Aug. 8 speech, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono hailed the resumption of dialogue with the nuclear-weapon states as a “breakthrough.” At a July summit in Bali, ASEAN foreign ministers had welcomed the initial scheduling of the August consultations and stated that they hoped to achieve support for a UN General Assembly resolution on the nuclear-weapon-free zone during the 66th session, which will start Sept. 13.

The treaty, which entered into force in March 1997, bans the acquisition, possession, control, testing, transport, and stationing of nuclear weapons in the territory of the 10 ­signatory states.

Although China has previously expressed its willingness to ratify the protocol, the other four nuclear-weapon states cite outstanding issues with the geographical scope of the treaty as obstacles. Since the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference, U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, have expressed willingness to resume negotiations on the Bangkok Treaty’s ratification.

For the first time in a decade, representatives of the five recognized nuclear-weapon states met last month with officials from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for discussions on the ratification of the protocol to the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone, also known as the Bangkok Treaty.

U.S., North Korea Hold Bilateral Talks

Peter Crail

The United States and North Korea held their first high-level meeting in nearly two years in July as part of efforts to restart multilateral talks on North Korea’s nuclear program.

U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth met with North Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye Gwan in New York July 28–29, telling reporters immediately following the talks that the United States “reiterated that the path is open to North Korea toward the resumption of talks” if the North showed it was willing to return to the negotiating table as a “committed and constructive partner.”

A North Korean Foreign Ministry statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency Aug. 1 said, “Both sides recognized that the improvement of the bilateral relations and the peaceful negotiated settlement of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula conform with the interests of the two sides and agreed to further dialogue.” The statement also expressed Pyongyang’s interest in resuming multilateral talks “at an early date.”

Pyongyang also has said that it would be willing to observe a moratorium on the production and testing of nuclear weapons and missiles in the context of resumed talks, Russian presidential press attaché Natalya Timakova told reporters Aug. 24 after a meeting between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in Russia.

North Korea pulled out of six-way talks with China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States in April 2009, declaring that it would never return. Pyongyang has since backed away from that position, but the United States and South Korea have insisted on certain conditions before such talks begin again. In particular, the two countries have demanded that North Korea demonstrate its commitment to abandoning its nuclear weapons and related programs. Washington and Seoul also have maintained that Pyongyang must make amends for its apparent role in sinking a South Korean naval vessel in March 2010 and for shelling a South Korean island last November.

North-South talks on the two incidents made no headway in January, with North Korea denying that it sank the South Korean ship. (See ACT, March 2011.) Despite this setback, the two countries met in July, holding discussions that paved the way for the U.S.-North Korean meeting the following week. Wi Sung-lac, the South Korean envoy to the six-party talks, met with his North Korean counterpart, Ri Yong Ho, on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting in Bali July 22, telling reporters following the meeting, “We are now moving to a new stage of dialogue.”

South Korean officials, however, have said they do not anticipate the resumption of six-way talks in the near future. Wi told reporters in Seoul Aug. 1 that it was “too ambitious” to expect the negotiations to begin this fall. “We cannot go to six-party talks when [North Korean] nuclear programs are up and running,” he said.

A joint statement by the foreign ministers of Japan, South Korea, and the United States July 24 following the North-South meeting welcomed the opening of such dialogue and said that it “should be a ­sustained process going forward.”

“North Korea must make sincere efforts to improve relations with [South Korea] before the Six-Party Talks can be resumed,” the statement said.

The three countries also said that North Korea’s uranium-enrichment program, which Pyongyang first publicly revealed last November, “must also be addressed in order to allow for the resumption of” multilateral negotiations.

North Korea’s nuclear weapons program traditionally has relied on plutonium produced at a five-megawatt nuclear reactor that has been shuttered since 2007. However, after years of suspicions, North Korea revealed a plant believed to contain about 2,000 centrifuges used to enrich uranium. Uranium can be enriched to low levels to power nuclear reactors, which North Korea says is its aim, but the process can also produce highly enriched uranium usable in nuclear weapons.

The United States held a rare senior-level meeting with North ­Korean officials in July. The two sides agreed to additional meetings.

Pentagon Issues Cyber Strategy

Timothy Farnsworth

In the wake of a rising number of cyberattacks on computer networks worldwide, the U.S. Department of Defense on July 14 released an unclassified strategy for defending against and responding to attacks on U.S. computer networks and infrastructure.

Speaking at the National Defense University on the release of the 13-page “Department of Defense Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace,” Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn said, “[B]its and bytes can be as threatening as bullets and bombs” in the 21st century.

The new strategy is part of the Obama administration’s efforts to combat cybersecurity threats domestically and internationally. In May 2009, at the unveiling of the administration’s “Cyber Policy Review,” President Barack Obama said, “It’s the great irony of our Information Age—the very technologies that empower us to create and to build also empower those who would disrupt and destroy.” Last May, the administration issued its “International Strategy for Cyberspace,” which called for the establishment of international norms for how states operate in cyberspace. Last September, the departments of Defense and Homeland Security, which have responsibilities for protecting critical U.S. infrastructure, signed a memorandum of agreement to coordinate cyberactivity.

Malicious criminal cyberactivity is on the rise, with significant intrusions affecting government and commercial institutions on a regular basis. According to Lynn, critical ­infrastructure has been probed by state and nonstate actors.

Although the Defense Department is concerned by criminal activity in cyberspace, that is not the department’s main worry, Lynn said. “Our assessment is that cyberattacks will be a significant component of any future conflict, whether it involves major nations, rogue states, or terrorist groups,” he said. “Tools capable of disrupting or destroying critical networks, causing physical damage, or altering the performance of key systems” already exist, he said.

“Significant disruptions to any one of these sectors could impact defense operations,” Lynn warned. “A cyberattack against more than one could be devastating,” he said.

“Sophisticated cybercapabilities reside almost exclusively in nation-states. Although attribution in cyberspace can be difficult, this risk of discovery and response for a major nation is still too great to risk launching destructive attacks against the United States,” he said.

According to the new Defense Department strategy, the virtual realm of computer networks and related physical infrastructure will be treated as another operational domain like air, sea, land, and space, and the United States will apply the rules of armed conflict in the event of cyberattack. “Accordingly, the United States reserves the right, under the laws of armed conflict, to respond to serious cyberattacks with a proportional and justified military response at the time and place of our choosing,” Lynn said.

Lynn emphasized, however, that the new Pentagon cyberstrategy focuses on protecting against cyberattack and takes a more defensive approach to how the United States will operate within the cyberspace domain. Lynn said, “Our strategy’s overriding emphasis is on denying the benefit of an attack. Rather than rely on the threat of retaliation alone to deter attacks in cyberspace, we aim to change our adversaries’ incentives in a more fundamental way.”

The new strategy lays out five strategic initiatives designed to guide the Defense Department in how to operate and defend the United States in cyberspace. In addition to considering cyberspace as “an operational domain,” they are to “employ new defense operating concepts to protect [Defense Department] networks and systems,” use a “whole government approach” to cybersecurity, “strengthen collective cybersecurity” by working with allies and international partners, and invest in a highly trained “cyber workforce” and in technological innovation.

To protect current networks, the Pentagon cyberstrategy calls for improving best practices in order to protect against insider threats. It also calls for the employment of an “active” cyberdefense capability to prevent intrusions into the Defense Department’s networks by developing new operating concepts and computer architectures designed to give the department “real-time capability to discover, detect, analyze, and mitigate threats and vulnerabilities.”

The strategy also outlines the development of the National Cyber Range that will allow the Defense Department and its partners to “test and evaluate new cyberspace concepts, policies, and technologies.” At an estimated cost of $130 million, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), along with private contractors, is developing the cyberrange. One of the key contractors, Lockheed Martin, was itself the target of a significant cyberattack in May. The cyberrange will be a closed network that will replicate the Internet and is expected to be operational by mid-2012. DARPA is the research arm of the Defense Department and was the agency responsible for ­creating the Internet.

The new Defense Department cyberstrategy reiterates key elements of last May’s international strategy document by calling for “[c]ontinued international engagement, collective self-­defense, and the establishment of international cyberspace norms [that] will also serve to strengthen cyberspace for the benefit of all.” (See ACT, June 2011.)

The Defense Department strategy also says the Pentagon “will seek increasingly robust international relationships to reflect our core commitments and common interests in cyberspace.” The strategy states that “[t]he development of international shared awareness and warning capabilities will enable collective self-defense and collective deterrence.”

In an August 11 interview, James Lewis, a cyber expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said the strategy “puts flesh on the bones” of the 2009 review and also follows recommendations from experts, including the 2008 CSIS Commission on Cybersecurity. Lewis was the commission’s project director. The Defense Department strategy “emphasizes the need for better technology to protect critical network infrastructure” and “relies on establishing international norms and collective defense,” he said.

Some critics of the new Pentagon strategy say it does not provide enough detail on potential offensive, retaliatory options, either in cyberspace or through conventional actions, that would be used in the event of a major foreign cyberattack. But Lewis said, “It’s the right blend.”

One of the main obstacles to retaliatory actions is the challenge of confidently identifying the origin of a cyberattack. Sophisticated cyberattacks occur over several networks at once, making attribution in real time difficult. “This structural property of the current architecture of cyberspace means that we cannot rely on the threat of retaliation alone to deter potential attackers,” Lynn said in his speech. “Far from ‘militarizing’ cyberspace, our strategy of securing networks to deny the benefit of an attack will help dissuade military actors from using ­cyberspace for hostile purposes.”

The Pentagon’s new cyber strategy provides the department with guidance on how to defend the United States in cyberspace. The strategy states that cyberspace is an operational domain in which the rules of armed conflict apply.

Nuclear Triad Budgets Questioned

Tom Z. Collina

Last year’s bipartisan deal to increase funding for the U.S. nuclear arsenal, reached during the debate on the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), is now being challenged by a new bipartisan deal to cut defense spending. As outgoing Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright told reporters July 14, “The challenge here is that we have to recapitalize all three legs [of the nuclear triad], and we don’t have the money to do it.”

Responding to political pressure to reduce the national debt, the Obama administration announced in April that it would reduce growth in national security spending by $400 billion over 12 years; similar cuts received bipartisan support through an August budget agreement between the administration and Congress. The bipartisan compromise to cut U.S. budget deficits by more than $2 trillion over 10 years would reduce planned increases in defense spending by setting ceilings on “security” spending, which includes the departments of Defense, State, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security; the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA); the Agency for International Development; and the CIA. White House officials estimate that these spending caps will translate into $350 billion in defense cuts over 10 years.

In addition, if the new joint congressional committee, known as the “super committee,” fails to agree on a deficit reduction plan by the end of the year or if Congress fails to approve a plan, the deal, formally known as the Budget Control Act of 2011, would automatically reduce defense spending starting in 2013 by $500 billion more, the White House estimates.

The Defense Department has embraced the first round of reductions, but not the second. Newly confirmed Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta wrote to Pentagon employees Aug. 3 that the department could implement the initial cuts “while maintaining the excellence of our military.” The department is conducting a review of its roles and missions, due this fall, to determine where to make these budget adjustments. As for the additional reductions, Panetta wrote that they could “trigger a round of dangerous across-the-board defense cuts that would do real damage to our security, our troops and their families, and our ability to protect the nation.”

Neither the White House nor congressional leaders from either party appear to favor these automatic cuts. However, given how difficult it will be for the 12 members of the super committee, split evenly between the parties, to reach agreement on a deficit reduction plan, the automatic cuts cannot be ruled out. For this reason, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments wrote in August that the Defense Department “should immediately begin contingency planning for how to handle such a reduction.” According to the center, if enacted, the total reduction in defense spending over 10 years, including both sets of cuts, would be $968 billion below the administration’s fiscal year 2012 budget and future-year projections.

These budget reductions, although large, are roughly equivalent to proposals made by the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform in late 2010 and the “Back in Black” plan released by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) this July.

These looming budget reductions appear to spell trouble for any military program that is seeking a large infusion of funds over the next decade, such as the nuclear weapons accounts. “We’re not going to be able to go forward with weapon systems that cost what weapon systems cost today,” Strategic Command chief Gen. Robert Kehler, who manages U.S. nuclear forces, told a Capitol Hill audience July 26. Referring to a proposed new generation of strategic bombers and submarines, he said, “Case in point is [the] Long-Range Strike [bomber]. Case in point is the Trident [submarine] replacement…. The list goes on.” As to how the budget situation would ultimately affect the nuclear force, Kehler said that ­“everything is on the table.”

As it sought Senate ratification of New START last year, the Obama administration agreed to demands from Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and others for a 10-year funding commitment to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal. (See ACT, January/February 2011.) As recently as May, Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy James Miller testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that the administration was planning to spend $125 billion over the next 10 years to build a new generation of strategic delivery systems, including 12 new ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) to replace the current 14 Trident boats; refurbished Trident II submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs); a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM); a new long-range, nuclear-capable, possibly unmanned bomber; and a new nuclear-capable cruise missile for the bomber. In addition, the NNSA plans to spend $88 billion over 10 years to refurbish the nuclear warheads for those systems and to maintain and upgrade the warhead production infrastructure, including construction of two major new facilities. (See ACT, March 2011.)

Now, some Republicans are seeing the nuclear weapons budget as a prime target for defense cuts. For example, Coburn’s deficit reduction proposal includes $79 billion in cuts to nuclear weapons funding. He proposes reducing the U.S. nuclear arsenal to below the New START limit of 1,550 deployed warheads and cutting the number of ICBMs, SSBNs, bombers, and warheads in reserve.

Similarly, a 2010 Cato Institute report on the defense budget recommended $87 billion in savings from nuclear weapons spending, including arsenal reductions to a level of 500 deployed warheads; a 50 percent cut in delivery systems, keeping just six SSBNs and eliminating the bomber leg of the triad; and consolidation of NNSA weapons laboratories.

The nuclear weapons budget still has its defenders. House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee Chairman Michael Turner (R-Ohio) told Global Security Newswire Aug. 5 that additional cuts to the NNSA made by the super committee “would jeopardize our nuclear deterrent, and our defense posture.” Turner’s concern was shared by Kyl, who believes that “modernization of our nuclear deterrent should be fully funded,” a Kyl spokesman told the newswire. Kyl has been named to serve on the super committee, which, while seeking a compromise position on overall spending levels, is not expected to recommend funding levels for specific national security ­programs.

Plans for increased funding for new strategic nuclear delivery systems and upgrades to nuclear weapons facilities are under scrutiny as Republicans and Democrats seek to reduce the federal budget deficit.

P5 Commits to Arms Trade Negotiations

Xiaodon Liang

Representatives of UN member states came away from a July 11–15 meeting in New York with a statement of ­support from the five permanent members of the Security Council (P5) for the arms trade treaty (ATT) negotiation process and the first full but controversial and unofficial text of what a treaty might look like.

The meeting was the third session of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty. That conference, which will take place next July, is where the treaty will be formally negotiated and opened for signature if the participants can reach consensus on the text. (See ACT, April 2011.) A fourth preparatory meeting focused on administrative matters is scheduled for February 2012.

Roberto García Moritán of Argentina continued to serve as chairman of the treaty discussions. García Moritán has released a series of informal “nonpapers,” which are based on his impressions of states’ views and are intended to stimulate debate on substantive issues. As with previous versions, the latest nonpaper, dated July 14, is not a draft treaty and does not reflect consensus viewpoints. However, it is the first text that includes all or most of the elements of a final ATT, including goals and objectives, the scope of the treaty, criteria for states to consider in authorizing arms transfers, responsibilities for the creation of national transfer authorization systems, further rules for implementation, and final provisions.

In their July 12 joint statement, the P5—China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the Unites States—hailed the treaty’s potential to help solve “key problems resulting from the illicit trafficking and uncontrolled proliferation of conventional arms.” The five countries reaffirmed their joint understanding that the proposed ATT should not be “a disarmament treaty nor should it affect the legitimate arms trade or a state’s legitimate right to self-defence.” In a separate statement issued July 15, Alistair Burt, parliamentary undersecretary of state in the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said that the treaty would enhance competitiveness and create a “level playing field” for the global defense industry.

In their statements to the conference, delegations agreed that implementation of an ATT should be conducted at a national level and that each state would be responsible for enacting  measures to control trade as mandated by the treaty. States also broadly agreed to report on efforts toward implementation of the treaty. Some parties aired concerns that, without a commitment from larger countries to provide international assistance and expertise to smaller states, the latter would be disinclined to take on new commitments, thus damaging the universality of the treaty. That point was mentioned in a joint statement issued by the Caribbean Community and was repeated by other ­developing countries.

Regular reporting on application of the treaty proved a more contentious topic. Although many states, such as the Netherlands and South Korea, called for regular obligatory reporting, the contents of reports that will be explicitly mandated by the treaty remain unclear. Brazil, India, Israel, and other countries cited confidentiality and national security concerns as grounds for preferring less-detailed, aggregate reports to be shared among states-parties alone. García Moritán’s latest nonpaper no longer contains a requirement for reports of license approvals to be made public. In addition, widespread opposition to an institutionalized procedure for sharing information on transfer denials prevented inclusion of such a measure in the most recent nonpaper. Finland echoed the views of several other states in stating that the justification of transfer denials would improperly imply a right to receive arms transfers.

Many states applauded the work of the PrepComs in illuminating areas of disagreement and agreement on ATT proposals, but several countries said they doubted whether real progress had been made toward providing concrete proposals to the 2012 conference given lingering differences on such fundamental issues as the scope of the treaty. A Russian delegate stated that discussing implementation of a treaty with an undefined scope was equivalent to “construct[ing] the roof of a house that has neither foundation nor walls.” U.S. Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Non-Nuclear and Counter-Proliferation Ann Ganzer told a Department of Commerce conference July 20 that negotiations beginning next year “promise to be complex” but that the United States remains “committed” to seeking a treaty that reflects the “highest international standards possible.”

Additional Views on Implementation

States remain divided on whether an implementation support unit (ISU) should be housed within the United Nations or be independent and funded by states-parties alone. The Grenadian representative expressed concern that if the former approach were taken, UN members not party to the treaty might be unwilling to pay dues to support an ISU. More controversial however, was the future role of any permanent administrative body. States largely agreed that, at a minimum, an ISU should play some role in facilitating international assistance and acting as a repository for national reports. More ambitious proposals put forward by supporters of a stronger treaty include giving the ISU a role in verifying the accuracy of reports, arbitrating denials, and identifying implementation gaps. Sweden and Switzerland separately proposed outlining minimalist tasks for the ISU in the treaty itself but allowing annual meetings of states-parties or periodical review conferences to enumerate additional roles after the treaty enters into force.

For entry into force, a number of states have supported a simple threshold of between 30 and 60 ratifications, while others indicated that they were flexible on the issue. Brazil said that a strong ATT with a transfer denials exchange system and compulsory, comprehensive reporting requirements should include a select tier of primary arms-producing states that would be required to ratify the treaty before it came into force, while a weaker treaty would not need such an arrangement. Brazil separately called for a stronger disarmament focus and a treaty that would create additional obligations for arms-producing states. A minority of states, in particular India and a number of Arab countries, also have called for such a focus, while many participants in the discussion rejected the possibility outright.

An Emergent Opposition

Two nongovernmental organizations that attended the July PrepCom, the World Forum on the Future of Sport Shooting Activities and the National Rifle Association, made statements arguing that civilian firearms should not be included in the scope of the treaty. This position and other concerns were included in two letters addressed to the White House and Department of State, circulated by the offices of Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and signed by 55 other senators.

Both letters cite potential conflict with the right of U.S. citizens to own firearms as the leading cause for concern with the treaty process and demand that the Obama administration not support a treaty with limits on domestic ownership of civilian firearms.

The UN General Assembly resolution that established the process acknowledges the exclusive right of states to regulate such ownership, including through “national constitutional protections,” and states have reaffirmed this right in their statements at PrepCom meetings. Although some states, such as Russia, have emphasized the importance of controlling all stages of a weapon’s life cycle in order to prevent diversion, no proposal to obligate states to enact legislation limiting the domestic ownership of any weapons included in the scope of the treaty has gained wide support.

At present, many countries, including the United States, continue to support the inclusion of all small arms and light weapons within the scope of the treaty. According to the Swiss delegation, such weapons should be included “given, in particular, the roles these weapons play in fueling armed violence around the world.”

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council in July endorsed the negotiation process for an arms trade treaty as the diplomat chairing the treaty talks circulated an unofficial model text of the pact.

P5 to Take Up Fissile Material Cutoff

Peter Crail

As part of efforts to start negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons, the world’s five recognized nuclear-weapon states have agreed to hold discussions on the matter outside the deadlocked Conference on Disarmament (CD). The move follows increasing frustration with the inability of the CD to begin negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) because of Pakistan’s refusal to agree to a consensus work program. (See ACT, March 2011.)

The five nuclear-weapon states—China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—also known as the P5 for their status as the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, said in a joint statement to a special meeting of the UN General Assembly on the UN disarmament bodies July 27, “[I]n order to sustain the potential of negotiations [on an FMCT] in the CD, the P5 will, prior to the next [UN General Assembly], renew their efforts with other relevant partners to promote such negotiations.” The next session of the General Assembly opens Sept. 13. The special meeting on July 27–28 was a follow-up to a high-level General Assembly meeting on disarmament held last September, where the stalled FMCT process was also addressed. (See ACT, October 2010.)

The P5 effort on an FMCT came out of a June 30–July 1 meeting in Paris on steps to implement the decisions of last year’s nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference. (See ACT, July/August 2011.)

The countries that make up the P5 are the only NPT members allowed to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. All except China pledged during the 1990s to halt such production for weapons, and China is widely believed to have stopped around the same time. India, Israel, and Pakistan, the only countries never to have joined the NPT, are the only other countries that are not legally prohibited from producing fissile material for weapons, although only India and Pakistan are believed to continue to do so.

In 2006 the Bush administration proposed a draft FMCT text that would have entered into force once all P5 countries ratified the accord. The proposed treaty did not include verification measures, which all CD members had previously agreed needed to be part of such a treaty, and it failed to win support.

Diplomats from P5 countries said last month that the reference to “relevant partners” in their July 27 statement refers to other countries that possess uranium-enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing technology, which can be used to produce fissile material. White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism Gary Samore said in an April 7 interview with Arms Control Today that such countries “have something to bring to the negotiations” and would be directly affected by any additional verification requirements for fissile material production.

The P5 members all have expressed their preference for holding FMCT negotiations in the 65-member CD, the United Nations’ multilateral negotiating forum on arms control issues. That body, which operates on a consensus basis, has been unable to begin substantive work for more than a decade. The CD briefly agreed on a work program that would have initiated FMCT negotiations in 2009, but Pakistan broke the consensus before such work could begin.

Islamabad insists on a treaty that takes into account existing stocks of fissile material, a position supported by many countries in the developing world but opposed by the P5, which prefers prohibiting only future production. Wary that its preference would not be incorporated into any eventual treaty, Pakistan has used the CD’s consensus rule to prevent negotiations from starting.

Among the P5 countries, the United States in particular has insisted on the need to consider alternative venues for negotiating an FMCT if the CD remains unable to act. Rose Gottemoeller, U.S. assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification, and compliance, told the CD Jan. 27 that if the body could not find a way to start negotiations, “then we will need to consider other options.”

A Department of State official said Aug. 17 that “the CD remains our preference” for negotiating an FMCT, “but we remain committed to a P5-led process outside the CD that, albeit not now, could open the door down the road to a negotiating process.”

Earlier this year, the United States supported an initiative by Australia and Japan to host expert-level side meetings at the CD to discuss technical issues in preparation for future negotiations. Gottemoeller told the General Assembly July 27 that the discussions “proved to be productive, substantive, and collegial,” but said, “[W]e are no closer to FMCT negotiations today than we were two years ago.” The State Department official said such side meetings could continue, but are insufficient to make progress because key countries such as China and Pakistan have not participated.

The official also noted that Beijing was particularly wary of joining any P5 initiative on the treaty. China has insisted on FMCT negotiations at the CD and called into question the utility of other negotiating forums. On July 28, Chinese Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Wang Min told the General Assembly, “Any idea or practice of resorting to another framework is obviously not conducive to the work of the CD, nor will it produce a satisfactory FMCT.”

In addition to the P5 effort, some countries, as well as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, have suggested the possibility that the General Assembly take up the FMCT issue. In his July 27 remarks to the assembly, Ban said, “If the CD remains deadlocked, the General Assembly has a responsibility to step in.”

Similarly, in a statement on behalf of the 10-country Nonproliferation and Disarmament Initiative, Australian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Gary Quinlan said that if the CD is unable to begin FMCT negotiations during its August-September session, the group would ask the next General Assembly to address the issue and consider ways to begin negotiations. The 10 states in the group include developed and developing countries from several different regions.

Washington, however, says it sees problems with the General Assembly taking up the treaty. The State Department official said that “basic principles like consensus might be endangered” in such a venue.

The official added that the CD is the more appropriate multilateral forum, and if the CD cannot work, it is better to consider a process centered on the P5 because of its members’ fissile material production capacities.

The five original nuclear-weapon states have agreed to discuss ways to begin negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for weapons, which is currently being blocked by Pakistan at the UN Conference on Disarmament.

America and the Arms Trade Treaty

Daryl G. Kimball

Each year, thousands of civilians around the world are slaughtered by weapons sold to unscrupulous regimes and transferred to criminals and illegal militias. The enormous human toll of this cycle of violence undermines economic development and political stability in fragile regions.

As the world’s top conventional arms exporter with one of the most robust export control systems, the United States, along with its allies and partners, stands to benefit from tougher, global standards for the arms trade. Five years after the United Nations adopted a resolution calling for talks “establishing common international standards for the import, export, and transfer of conventional arms,” a widely supported arms trade treaty (ATT) text is within reach.

Since 2008, the United States has participated in expert talks, and in October 2009, Washington supported the UN resolution laying out a schedule for talks on an ATT. A final negotiating conference is scheduled for July 2012. At the United States’ insistence, agreement on the treaty text requires consensus.

It is in the United States’ interest to take the lead in supporting an effective, bulletproof ATT. By preventing military equipment, including small arms and light weapons, from reaching the hands of terrorists, criminals, and dictators, an ATT would assist U.S. partners and allies abroad in their efforts to protect human rights, promote stable democracies, and build more secure and productive societies.

An ATT should require states-parties to enact laws regulating the export, import, transfer, and brokering of arms. These regulations should apply to all major military equipment and small arms that are transferred from one party to another across international borders.

An ATT also should call on states to identify possible criteria for denial of international arms transfer licenses; this list should address human rights, security, and development concerns. In addition, a strong treaty should require member states to report regularly and publicly on their arms sales and purchases, transfer approvals, and reasons for license denials.

To be effective, an ATT needs to be comprehensive and cover not only the many types of arms transfers such as sales, gifts, and transfers of technology, but also weapons components and ammunition.

An unregulated arms trade increases the availability of weapons in conflict zones. Arms brokers can exploit these conditions to sell weapons to criminals and insurgents fighting U.S. troops.

For example, the Italy-based smuggling ring of Alessandro Bon sent multiple shipments of military sniper scopes and other military goods via a Romanian front company through Dubai to Iran in violation of a UN arms embargo. This equipment, in turn, found its way into the hands of insurgents fighting NATO forces in Afghanistan. By requiring states to license or otherwise regulate the activities of brokers and importers, an ATT could aid in the prevention of similar operations.

Unfortunately, in the United States, the value of an ATT has been obscured by the misleading lobbying efforts of the National Rifle Association and its proxies in Congress who allege that the still-to-be-negotiated treaty will clash with legal firearms possession in the United States. That is not the case.

Some of these concerns are reflected in two recent letters circulated by Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and signed by 55 other senators. Although both letters recognize the security and humanitarian benefits of the treaty, the Moran letter notes that certain states have called for certain internal arms transfers to be monitored.

Although some states might seek such provisions, such measures are undeniably outside the scope of the treaty. The 2009 UN General Assembly resolution establishing the ATT negotiation process explicitly acknowledges the exclusive right of states “to regulate internal transfers of arms and national ownership, including through national constitutional protections.”

A second concern outlined in the Moran letter relates to the inclusion of small arms and light weapons and their ammunition within the scope of the treaty. The letter claims this makes the treaty too “broad” and therefore unenforceable.

This argument ignores the fact that the U.S. government already controls the export and import of small arms and light weapons and their ammunition. It is in the interest of the United States to ensure that other states are required to follow similar practices.

Allegations that an ATT would infringe on the right of U.S. citizens to legally possess firearms amount to irresponsible demagoguery. Advocates of legal civilian gun possession should recognize the value of an ATT in reducing the carnage created by illicit and irresponsible international arms transfers. As governments work to finalize a treaty by next year, the Obama administration and Congress should join together to support a meaningful outcome.

Each year, thousands of civilians around the world are slaughtered by weapons sold to unscrupulous regimes and transferred to criminals and illegal militias. The enormous human toll of this cycle of violence undermines economic development and political stability in fragile regions.

CFE Treaty Talks Stall

Tom Z. Collina

After a year-long, high-level effort by the Obama administration to revive the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, the process appears to have ground to a halt in May and remained stuck since then.

After some initial progress, the U.S. and Russian negotiating positions remain far apart with little prospect for near-term success, knowledgeable sources said. A senior Obama administration official told Arms Control Today in an Aug. 24 interview that negotiators are taking a “serious pause” to rethink “what we need for conventional arms control in Europe.”

Experts are concerned that if the CFE Treaty ultimately collapses, Russia will increase its reliance on tactical nuclear weapons to defend itself from what Moscow now sees as NATO’s conventional superiority in Europe. This could become a roadblock to President Barack Obama’s plans to seek a follow-on to the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia that would place limits on tactical nuclear weapons, as well as strategic weapons and nuclear warheads in storage.

In a sign of the current stalemate, Victoria Nuland, the administration’s special envoy on CFE issues, left her post in June to become Department of State spokesperson and has not been replaced. The State Department appears to have little hope for constructive proposals from Russia and to be in a wait-and-see mode. In a July 1 statement at CFE talks in Vienna, Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance Rose Gottemoeller said that “the United States and our Allies stand ready to return to the negotiating table whenever we have a signal that real progress can be made on the remaining issues.” Mikhail Ulyanov, the director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Security and Disarmament Department, was more blunt, saying at the same event that CFE Treaty consultations are at “an impasse” and that unless the situation changes, “we may passively watch the European arms control system die.”

The central unresolved issues, according to U.S. officials, are that Russia has not been meeting its obligation under the CFE Treaty to share data on its military deployments and has stationed forces in the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Moldova without their consent. These issues date back to 1999, when the CFE Treaty was modified; to 2007, when Russia suspended its compliance with the treaty; and to 2008, when Moscow recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states following the Georgian-Russian conflict. Meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in April 2011, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that, to make progress on CFE issues, “Russia must be willing to talk to its neighbors about its equipment and forces in disputed territories” and “must be completely transparent about its military forces.”

Russia has met neither U.S. demand. Moscow’s position is that the CFE Treaty has been overtaken by events and must be replaced by the 1999 Adapted CFE Treaty, which Russia has ratified. NATO agrees, but its members have refused to ratify the modified treaty until Moscow meets its political commitments from 1999 to withdraw its forces from Moldova and close its military bases in Georgia. NATO says these deployments violated the 1999 ­political deal, which Moscow denies.

The Obama administration had been hoping that it could repair the CFE regime as part of a broader effort to improve U.S.-Russian relations, an effort that included the successful negotiation of New START. Since April 2010, the United States has led renewed efforts among the 30 CFE member states and six non-CFE NATO allies to “try to break the impasse that has prevented full implementation of the Treaty,” Gottemoeller said in her July 1 remarks. These states started a diplomatic effort to craft a “framework” statement of key provisions and principles that would guide new negotiations to strengthen the CFE regime.

According to current and former officials, NATO and Russian leaders met in Vienna numerous times between June 2010 and May 2011. NATO overcame Moscow’s initial opposition to any preconditions for talks on a new treaty, but Russia ultimately could not agree to the principle of host-country consent or to a resumption of compliance with the old CFE Treaty while talks continued, the officials said. They said that agreement on these two points would have required new instructions from senior Russian leaders, but that CFE issues did not appear to be high enough on the list of Russian priorities.

The CFE Treaty, signed at the end of the Cold War on Nov. 19, 1990, eliminated the Soviet Union’s overwhelming quantitative advantage in conventional weapons in Europe by setting equal limits on the number of tanks, armored combat vehicles, heavy artillery, combat aircraft, and attack helicopters that NATO and the Warsaw Pact could deploy between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ural Mountains.

The treaty was designed to prevent either alliance from amassing forces for a blitzkrieg-type offensive, which could have triggered the use of nuclear weapons in response. Although the threat of such an offensive all but disappeared with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact, member states have spoken of the enduring value of the unprecedented degree of transparency on military holdings under the CFE Treaty regime.

Gottemoeller said in July that, without a new Russian position on the key issues, real progress could not be made and “we must ask, ‘What is next for CFE?’” The senior administration official said that preparations are now being made for the CFE review conference in late September but that no breakthroughs are expected.

The Obama administration’s effort to revive the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty has stalled. Officials do not expect progress to be made at an upcoming review conference, and the treaty’s future is unclear.


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