Login/Logout

*
*  

"[Arms Control Today is] Absolutely essential reading for the upcoming Congressional budget debate on the 2018 #NPR and its specific recommendations ... well-informed, insightful, balanced, and filled with common sense."

– Frank Klotz
former Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration
March 7, 2018
October 2011
Edition Date: 
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Cover Image: 

OPCW Chief Eyes Libyan Chemical Stocks

Libya’s remaining stockpile of usable mustard gas could be destroyed “within a month” once certain conditions are met, the chief of the international body that implements the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) said Sept. 16.

Xiaodon Liang

Libya’s remaining stockpile of usable mustard gas could be destroyed “within a month” once certain conditions are met, the chief of the international body that implements the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) said Sept. 16.

In a statement e-mailed to Arms Control Today, Ahmet Üzümcü, director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), said the organization is “confident” of that timeline for destroying Libya’s nine metric tons of sulfur mustard, which is stored in liquid form. He listed three conditions, two of which appear to have been met since he made the statement.

Another 2.5 metric tons of Libya’s sulfur mustard, which have congealed and are essentially unusable, will take somewhat longer to destroy, he said.

The usable sulfur mustard poses “a security risk,” Üzümcü said, but he noted that the material is not in a weaponized form and is located in a secure facility in the southeastern Libyan desert. All of Libya’s declared means for delivering the mustard gas, more than 3,500 aerial bombs, were destroyed in 2004, he said.

Üzümcü said the OPCW has “not been informed about any unusual activity at the storage site,” which was sealed in February. U.S. Department of State spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Sept. 8 that the United States understood Libyan chemical weapons storage facilities to be “secure” and “sealed.”

Üzümcü also noted that Libya’s chemical weapons production plants are no longer functional. Since January 2004, when Libya acceded to the CWC, two plants have been destroyed and a third has been converted into a pharmaceuticals plant with approval from the OPCW, he said. Libya also has declared nearly 1,400 metric tons of precursor agents, chemicals needed for the production of weapons and has destroyed about 40 percent of that amount, he said. In the absence of chemical weapons production facilities to utilize them, the remaining precursor agents are not considered an urgent risk but must be destroyed along with the remaining mustard gas, he said.

Neutralization of Libya’s mustard gas stockpiles began in October 2010. Between that time and the beginning of protests against Moammar Gaddafi’s government earlier this year, Libya was able to destroy around 55 percent of the mustard gas before a malfunction in a heating component of the neutralization unit halted further work, Üzümcü said. According to Üzümcü, the international sanctions imposed by UN Security Council resolutions and the general instability in Libya have prevented replacement of the machine part.

One of the conditions cited by Üzümcü for completing the destruction work is that the UN sanctions committee for Libya allow the importation of the component for the neutralization unit. On Sept. 16, after Üzümcü issued the statement, the UN Security Council partially lifted its sanctions on Libya by adopting Resolution 2009, which states that “arms and related material of all types, including technical assistance, training, financial and other assistance, intended solely for security or disarmament assistance to the Libyan authorities” will not be subject to the embargo.

Another of Üzümcü’s conditions is the recognition of Libya’s new National Transitional Council (NTC) government by the United Nations. That condition also was met on Sept. 16.

The third condition Üzümcü set was that “security arrangements must be made to allow for the return of OPCW inspectors to the [stockpile] storage site, where the neutralization unit is located.”

In a Sept. 26 e-mail, OPCW spokesman Michael Luhan said that the organization considered the first two conditions to have been met and was continuing to work on returning its inspectors to Libya as soon as possible.

Threat to Air Traffic

In recent weeks, U.S. military and diplomatic officials have emphasized the threat posed by the potential proliferation of conventional weapons, especially shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles (man-portable air defense systems, or MANPADS), throughout North Africa. The weapons have been discovered in army depots in Libya.

Speaking to reporters Sept. 14 at a Defense Writers Group roundtable meeting in Washington, Gen. Carter Ham, who heads U.S. Africa Command, said the MANPADS would be at the “top of the list” of security worries in Libya.

According to the State Department, more than 40 MANPADS attacks against passenger jets have taken place around the world since the 1970s. The department confirmed Sept. 16 that the U.S. embassy in Algiers had received information on a possible threat against planes chartered by oil companies operating in Algeria.

Newer models of MANPADS are capable of targeting military combat aircraft, although the presence of such missile systems in Libya has not yet been confirmed by official sources. Reporters in Libya have described advanced Russian missiles such as the SA-24 appearing in unsecured Gaddafi-loyalist stockpiles. An unnamed official with the Russian arms manufacturer KBM told the Web site Aviation Week in March that the exporter had sold SA-24 missiles to Libya, but without special triggers needed to operate them as a man-portable weapon.

U.S. officials say efforts are being made to reduce the risk of MANPADS proliferation in North Africa. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman told reporters Sept. 14 during a conference call that U.S. government personnel were working “quietly” with the Libyans on controlling and destroying MANPADS. Nuland also confirmed Sept. 8 that two nongovernmental groups, the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action and Mines Advisory Group International, were working on MANPADS recovery operations in Libya with the support of the State Department. While attending a Paris meeting on funding the new Libyan government, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sept. 1 that the NTC had been “very responsive” to U.S. concerns about MANPADS.

On a regional level, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger have held recent discussions with U.S. officials on how to improve border controls and efforts to confiscate illegal arms, according to Nuland. Ham said that it was “heartening, actually, to see a greater degree of collaboration.” Algeria has also expressed concerns about the flow of Libyan armaments. Following a Sept. 7-8 regional conference on terrorism, Algerian Minister Delegate in Charge of Maghrebian and African Affairs Abdelkader Messahel said the issue should be a priority for the new Libyan government.

Ham also said there were risks posed by unexploded conventional munitions that could be used by terrorist groups to create improvised explosive devices. He listed three groups of particular concern: al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Boko Haram, and al Shabab.

Nuclear Materials

With regard to Libya’s nuclear program, Nuland said the last of the country’s highly enriched uranium was removed in 2009. The Gaddafi government announced in December 2003 that it was abandoning its nuclear and chemical weapons programs. (See ACT, January/February 2004.)

Former International Atomic Energy Agency Deputy Director-General for Safeguards Olli Heinonen said in an Aug. 23 blog post that other nuclear materials should remain a concern of the new Libyan government. Heinonen, now a senior fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center, said “large quantities” of radioisotopes, radioactive waste, and low-enriched uranium fuel remained at Tajoura, a research center outside Tripoli. Invoking the looting of the Tuwaitha reactor near Baghdad after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Heinonen said that “relying on luck” to prevent the theft of these materials and their subsequent use in a dirty bomb was “not an option.”

Letter to the Editor: The Meaning of the NPT

I  am happy for this chance to briefly engage with Norman Wulf in his review of my new book, Interpreting the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (“Misinterpreting the NPT,” September 2011). I am unsatisfied with the forum in which Arms Control Today has deigned to allow this response. No more than 800 words as a letter to the editor. I mean, Dan Horner chooses as a reviewer for my book a senior U.S. official who was head of U.S. nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) diplomacy during a period about which I am critical of U.S. NPT diplomacy in the book. This wasn’t exactly a choice of an objective, dispassionate reviewer, was it? It was bound to produce a critical review, and so it has. And yet, I get 800 words to respond.

Daniel H. Joyner

I am happy for this chance to briefly engage with Norman Wulf in his review of my new book, Interpreting the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (“Misinterpreting the NPT,” September 2011). I am unsatisfied with the forum in which Arms Control Today has deigned to allow this response. No more than 800 words as a letter to the editor. I mean, Dan Horner chooses as a reviewer for my book a senior U.S. official who was head of U.S. nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) diplomacy during a period about which I am critical of U.S. NPT diplomacy in the book. This wasn’t exactly a choice of an objective, dispassionate reviewer, was it? It was bound to produce a critical review, and so it has. And yet, I get 800 words to respond.

But to the task. Wulf is of course a perfectly valid choice of reviewer for a book on the NPT, especially on the pages of Arms Control Today. He has long and intimate experience with the NPT as a state official and, because of that experience, has important insight to bring to bear in analyzing the history surrounding NPT policy and legal disputes. Indeed, this is precisely why I interviewed him during the process of researching my book and why you will find a direct quote from this interview on page 39.

However, I would note that while he was a lawyer in government for many years, this alone does not make him an international legal expert or scholar. On questions of complex treaty interpretation law and theory, therefore, I don’t consider his critique to be a “peer review” of my book, as would be expected in an academic international legal journal such as the American Journal of International Law.

In his review, Wulf charges that my analysis in this book is agenda driven and that my personal policy preferences are given undue weight in my legal analysis. In so attempting to cast my arguments as biased and polemical, Wulf is clearly trying to discredit them. And he will not need to try hard with most U.S. officials, present and former. There is very much an orthodoxy on interpretation of the NPT among U.S. officials, and Wulf is one of the revered keepers of that orthodoxy. In challenging this sacred cow, my arguments are frequently cast as biased.

However, my thesis and supporting arguments in this book do not in fact derive from political or other bias, but rather from my objective analysis of the NPT as a treaty and my interpretation of the NPT in rigorous accordance with the rules on treaty interpretation found in the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. It was through my objective examination of the treaty as a legal scholar, in this holistic fashion, that the thesis became clear, not the other way around.

Additionally, I think it is important to understand that what I have written in this book, while not the “traditional” view as Wulf puts it—meaning, of course, the traditional view among right-thinking Western government officials like himself—is in fact the legal view of NPT interpretation that has been maintained by officials of most developing non-nuclear-weapon states for decades and expressed by them in countless speeches at NPT meetings and in other international diplomatic forums. My book is simply the first instance of these legal arguments having been made in a comprehensive, rigorous fashion by an international legal scholar.

In terms of the actual substantive legal arguments that Wulf critiques, it is of course impossible to have a meaningful debate on such complex issues of international law in the space provided me here. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I would encourage readers to actually read my book to judge for themselves the rigor and persuasiveness of my analysis and arguments.

In the end, what I would suggest to readers is that what they are witnessing in Wulf’s review is the old guard of U.S. nuclear law officialdom coming out to cast as biased and radical a view on NPT legal interpretation that challenges their carefully cultivated, deeply held, and aggressively defended orthodoxy of NPT legal interpretation.

But the reader should note that, in most of the world’s capitals, the view of NPT interpretation held to be most radical and politically motivated is precisely that to which Wulf subscribes. In most of the world’s capitals, my legal interpretations and conclusions in this book are so familiar and so accepted as to be considered self-evident.


 

Daniel H. Joyner is a professor of law at the University of Alabama School of Law.

North, South Korea Meet on Nuclear Issue

North and South Korean nuclear negotiators held bilateral talks in Beijing last month, continuing an effort to revive stalled multilateral negotiations on North Korea’s nuclear disarmament. The two sides do not appear to have bridged differences on the conditions for resuming the six-party talks, which also include China, Japan, Russia, and the United States.

Peter Crail

North and South Korean nuclear negotiators held bilateral talks in Beijing last month, continuing an effort to revive stalled multilateral negotiations on North Korea’s nuclear disarmament. The two sides do not appear to have bridged differences on the conditions for resuming the six-party talks, which also include China, Japan, Russia, and the United States.

Seoul and Washington maintain that Pyongyang first must demonstrate its commitment to abandon its nuclear weapons and related programs, including verifiably halting a uranium-enrichment program the North first publicly revealed last year. North Korea says it wants to restart the six-party talks without preconditions.

Uranium enrichment can be used in making fuel to power nuclear reactors and to make highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons.

North Korea first agreed to give up its nuclear weapons and programs in a September 2005 joint statement of the six-party talks. After taking some steps to implement that agreement, North Korea scuttled the negotiations in April 2009 after the UN Security Council reprimanded Pyongyang for a rocket launch earlier that month. (See ACT, May 2009.) Although North Korea said at that time it would never return to six-way negotiations, it has since reversed its position.

China, which chairs the six-party talks, has previously proposed a three-step process to revive the talks. The process involves North Korean bilateral meetings with South Korea and with the United States, followed by a preparatory meeting of the six parties. (See ACT, May 2011.) Although the first two steps have been carried out, the countries have not agreed to go beyond the bilateral discussions. The Sept. 21 discussions between South Korean nuclear negotiator Wi Sung-lac and his North Korean counterpart, Ri Yong Ho, followed high-level talks in New York between U.S. and North Korean officials in July. (See ACT, September 2011.)

At a Sept. 19 seminar in Beijing celebrating the sixth anniversary of the 2005 joint statement, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said, “We are happy to see that there have been some new, positive interactions between the parties concerned surrounding the restart of the six-party talks.”

The North-South nuclear dialogue appears to be a sign of thawing tensions between the two countries. The tensions reached a peak last year after North Korea was found to have sunk a South Korean naval vessel and Pyongyang shelled a South Korean island in response to a military exercise, killing four and injuring 19 South Korean civilians and soldiers.

Wi and Ri formally initiated the recent round of bilateral nuclear discussions during a July 22 meeting in Bali, following which Ri said the two sides were “moving to a new stage of dialogue.” Prior to that meeting, the two countries had not met to discuss the nuclear issue in two years. Seoul initially insisted that Pyongyang apologize for the altercations prior to negotiating on the nuclear issue, but it has since dropped that requirement.

The North-South talks followed the first International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors meeting in four years to consider a report by an IAEA director-general on Pyongyang’s nuclear activities. The Sept. 2 report provided a detailed overview of the agency’s understanding of North Korean nuclear activities going back to the 1970s and, for the first time, included third-party information on North Korea’s enrichment program. The information came from former Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Siegfried Hecker, who was allowed to visit a North Korean enrichment facility last year. (See ACT, December 2010.)

IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano told the IAEA board Sept. 12 that North Korea’s nuclear program “is a matter of serious concern” and that reports about the construction of a new uranium-enrichment facility and light-water reactor in North Korea “are deeply troubling.” He also stressed the IAEA’s role in verifying Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

IAEA inspectors have not been present in North Korea since April 2009, when Pyongyang last ejected them.

The U.S. government said the report showed that North Korea’s claim that it only began work on its enrichment program in April 2009 was “unlikely,” U.S. Permanent Representative to the IAEA Glyn Davies told the IAEA board Sept. 14. “The report’s assessment of [North Korea’s] enrichment-related procurements is consistent with our belief that North Korea has been pursuing enrichment for an extended period of time,” Davies said.

The United States accused North Korea of pursuing enrichment in 2002, but North Korea denied carrying out such work until 2009.

The IAEA report also publicly detailed for the first time the agency’s assessment of suspected North Korean assistance to Libya’s now-defunct nuclear weapons program. It said that it was “very likely” that a large cylinder of uranium hexafluoride Libya obtained in 2001 originated in North Korea. “That would indicate that [North Korea] had undeclared conversion capabilities prior to 2001,” the report said.

Conversion is the industrial process that produces uranium hexafluoride, the feedstock for enrichment. To support an indigenous enrichment program, North Korea would need to have mastered the process or obtained the uranium hexafluoride from elsewhere.

UN Examines U.S. WMD Controls

A UN nonproliferation body carried out its first formal in-country visit last month, examining the steps that the United States has taken to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Peter Crail

A UN nonproliferation body carried out its first formal in-country visit last month, examining the steps that the United States has taken to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Diplomats said that, in addition to giving the panel overseeing the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1540 a better understanding of U.S. efforts to implement the resolution, the visit could serve as an example for other countries to follow.

The council adopted Resolution 1540 in 2004 to address the potential proliferation of unconventional weapons, related materials, and delivery systems to terrorist groups and smugglers. The resolution requires all states to adopt and enforce a series of national laws criminalizing the possession of unconventional weapons; setting standards to secure materials, facilities, and technologies used to make them; and establishing export controls to prevent their spread. A committee made up of the council’s 15 members also was established to oversee implementation of the measure.

To assess implementation, the committee and its eight experts traditionally have relied on national implementation reports that states have been required to submit and on public records of national laws and arrangements with international nonproliferation agencies. A 2009 UN review of Resolution 1540’s implementation suggested that country visits by the committee could enhance such information gathering and “delve deeper into understanding the challenges” of adopting the wide array of national laws and procedures the resolution requires.

The council endorsed the prospect of country visits in April when it adopted Resolution 1977, which extended the committee’s mandate for 10 years.

During the Sept. 12-16 visit to Washington, committee experts and representatives held meetings with and toured facilities belonging to a variety of government agencies, including the departments of Commerce, Defense, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security. During a Sept. 15 press briefing, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation Programs Simon Limage said that the visit was intended to “demonstrate the whole-of-government approach to the problem of proliferation.”

Limage noted four types of WMD-control efforts that the United States wished to highlight for the 1540 Committee: accountability, physical protection, border control enforcement, and export controls.

Committee representatives and U.S. officials stressed, however, that the visit was not an inspection akin to those carried out by international agencies such as the International Atomic Energy Agency, although the panel is to prepare a report on the visit.

Ruvarna Naidoo, acting spokeswoman for the chair of the 1540 Committee, said in a Sept. 14 interview that one of the purposes of the visit is to spur additional governments to host similar visits, providing greater understanding of how the governments tackle the issue of WMD proliferation. She also said that given the committee’s role in matching states needing implementation assistance with countries and organizations that provide such assistance, additional dialogue in the form of country visits can help countries put in place more-effective WMD controls.

Turkey to Host NATO Missile Defense Radar

After an extended delay, the U.S. Department of State announced on Sept. 2 that Turkey had agreed to host an early-warning radar as a key part of the European Phased Adaptive Approach, the Obama administration’s plan for missile defense in Europe.

Tom Z. Collina

After an extended delay, the U.S. Department of State announced on Sept. 2 that Turkey had agreed to host an early-warning radar as a key part of the European Phased Adaptive Approach, the Obama administration’s plan for missile defense in Europe.

U.S. officials have said they expect the radar to be deployed at a military base in Kurecik, about 435 miles from Iran, by the end of the year. The radar, along with the March deployment to the Mediterranean Sea of the USS Monterey, armed with Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) IA missile interceptors, would complete the first phase of the administration’s missile defense plans.

Other elements of the administration’s missile defense plans for NATO also have recently fallen into place. On Sept. 13, Romania signed an agreement with the United States to deploy 24 SM-3 IB missile interceptors at Deveselu Air Base in 2015. The pact still has to be ratified by the Romanian parliament. In addition, a U.S.-Polish agreement that entered into force on Sept. 15 would place SM-3 Block IIA interceptors at a base near Redzikowo in 2018. Both agreements were expected and are consistent with previously announced plans.

The U.S. desire to put an AN/TPY-2 X-band radar in Turkey has been known for more than a year, but Ankara had delayed its decision in an apparent attempt to avoid a conflict with Iran, against whose missiles the NATO interceptor system would be aimed. Ankara had been seeking to position itself as an intermediary between Washington and Tehran. The Iranian Foreign Ministry issued a statement regretting Turkey’s decision, saying it would “create tension” and cause “complicated consequences.”

Turkey also was seeking assurances from the United States that information from the radar would not be shared with Israel, a restriction opposed by many in the U.S. Congress. Israeli-Turkish relations have soured since Jerusalem’s raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla in 2010. U.S. officials said that no promise was made to Ankara regarding data sharing with Jerusalem. “It’s a U.S. radar,” a senior official told reporters on Sept. 15, adding, “Nothing in any of the agreements restricts our ability to defend the state of Israel.” A similar U.S. radar is already deployed in Israel.

Ankara appears to have a different interpretation. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in an interview Sept. 18 that information gathered by the radar would be available only to NATO members. “We will provide support only for systems that belong to NATO and are used solely by members of NATO,” he said. Israel is not a NATO member.

The Russian Foreign Ministry responded to the U.S.-Turkish radar agreement Sept. 2 by noting the “continued lack of progress in the Russia-NATO dialogue” on missile defense cooperation “due to the stubborn reluctance” of the United States and NATO to consider Russia “as an equal partner.” Moscow reiterated its demand for the United States and NATO to provide “solid, legally binding assurances that their missile defenses in Europe would not be directed at Russian strategic nuclear forces.”

Moscow is concerned about U.S. plans to deploy hundreds of increasingly capable SM-3 missile interceptors by 2020 at sea and on land as part of the phased approach, which NATO approved last November to counter the missile threat that allies expect to emerge from Iran. Russia agreed to work with NATO to seek areas of cooperation, such as sharing information on third-party missile launches and conducting joint exercises. The Pentagon has been interested in gaining access to data from Russian radars located northwest of Iran, such as the Gabala radar in Azerbaijan, that could provide useful tracking information on Iranian missiles that could be launched toward Europe or the United States.

Moscow has made it clear that it would be unwilling to pursue additional nuclear arms reductions with Washington unless its concerns about NATO’s missile interceptor plans are addressed. The United States and Russia met in Brussels in June to seek a compromise, but the talks were not successful. (See ACT, July/August 2011.) The effort stalled, officials said, because the United States and NATO could not convince Moscow that NATO would not use the system to intercept Russian strategic nuclear forces.

Speaking at a conference in Copenhagen on Sept. 5, U.S. Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder said Russia’s desire for a legally binding agreement was a “stumbling block we need to remove…. [The United States] can’t sign such an agreement.” Daalder said NATO was working on a compromise “in the form of a political statement” that makes it clear that the NATO system “is directed against a threat coming from outside Europe, not against Russia.”

Meanwhile, on Sept. 1, Raytheon’s new SM-3 IB missile, planned for deployment in Romania and at sea in 2015, failed to intercept a target during its first flight test, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) announced. The SM-3 IB is an upgrade of the SM-3 IA interceptor now deployed on the Monterey and other Aegis ships. Also last month, the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee zeroed out funding for the SM-3 IIB interceptor from its version of the fiscal year 2012 spending bill, in part because of problems with the SM-3 IB.

The SM-3 IB test missile was launched from the Aegis cruiser USS Lake Erie in the Pacific Ocean minutes after a short-range ballistic missile target was launched from Kauai, Hawaii, 574 miles away. “An intercept of the target was not achieved,” an MDA statement said. Agency officials are conducting a review of the test failure, the MDA said.

NATO Deterrence Review Gets Under Way

NATO has agreed on the process for its deterrence and defense posture review, launched at the alliance’s summit in Lisbon last November.

Oliver Meier

NATO has agreed on the process for its deterrence and defense posture review, launched at the alliance’s summit in Lisbon last November.

The North Atlantic Council (NAC), NATO’s political decision-making body, on Sept. 14 approved specific posture-review taskings to guide drafting of the final report, which is to be adopted at the summit next May 20-21 in Chicago.

Although there is now agreement on the process, several diplomats and officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, expressed differing expectations about the focus and outcome of the review, particularly its nuclear elements.

In Lisbon, the leaders of the 28 NATO members had agreed that essential elements of the review “would include the range of NATO’s strategic capabilities required, including NATO’s nuclear posture, and missile defence and other means of strategic deterrence and defence.” The review was one way to avoid a clash over differences on NATO’s future nuclear posture in the alliance’s new Strategic Concept, adopted at Lisbon. (See ACT, December 2010.)

In the new Strategic Concept, NATO pledged to “ensure the broadest possible participation of Allies in collective defence planning on nuclear roles, in peacetime basing of nuclear forces, and in command, control and consultation arrangements.”

Under NATO nuclear sharing arrangements, the United States keeps an estimated 150 to 200 B61 gravity bombs in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey. These countries could provide aircraft that could deliver U.S. nuclear weapons to their targets in times of war, although the strike mission of the Turkish air force may have expired.

The posture review will examine the details of those arrangements. According to diplomatic sources, the mandate of the senior advisory body to NATO’s Nuclear Planning Group (NPG) on nuclear policy and planning issues, called the High Level Group, is to develop proposals for the nuclear elements of the posture review. The group’s mandate includes giving advice to the NAC on options for NATO’s nuclear posture on issues such as numbers, basing, and arrangements for U.S. nuclear weapons deployments in Europe.

Meanwhile, the development of a new directive for military implementation of the Strategic Concept, updating the existing classified guidance adopted in May 2000, has begun but with the caveat that its results may have to be revised in light of the posture review’s conclusions.

The planned modernization of NATO’s nuclear infrastructure in Europe, which includes the procurement of new dual-capable aircraft by allies and the modernization of U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe, remains a contentious issue. (See ACT, December 2009.)

According to a May report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the U.S. government plans to replace all existing B61 bombs with modernized weapons under a $4 billion life extension program. The replacements would occur between 2017 and 2022.

The stated goal of the program is to increase the safety, security, and effectiveness of the weapons, but according to the report, the new bomb will also contain a new tail kit “designed to increase accuracy, enabling the military to achieve the same effects as the older bomb, but with lower nuclear yield.” The Department of Defense and NATO allies agreed in April 2010 on the military characteristics of the new bomb to be deployed in Europe, the report said.

There are different views as to whether plans for replacing U.S. weapons in Europe need to or should be approved in the context of the posture review. Publicly, officials from NATO headquarters and member states maintain that NATO members do not need to agree to such new deployments. For example, a senior Polish official wrote in a Sept. 21 e-mail to Arms Control Today that “the political decision about this program will be undertaken by the U.S. side as an owner of the nuclear weapons.” Likewise, in reply to questions by Green Party spokeswoman for arms control and disarmament Agnieszka Malczak, German Minister of State Cornelia Pieper on June 8 argued that the B61 life extension program is a “national decision by the United States and independent of the organization of nuclear sharing arrangements within NATO.”

However, a senior U.S. official argued in a Sept. 15 interview that plans for future deployment of the modernized B61 in Europe are within the purview of the posture review. “For any change to NATO’s nuclear posture, consensus has to exist,” he said.

Uta Zapf, chairwoman of the subcommittee on disarmament, arms control, and nonproliferation in the German Bundestag, went a step further. In a Sept. 15 e-mail to Arms Control Today, she said, “We need a discussion among all NATO members about U.S. plans to deploy new types of B61 weapons. Until a political consensus is reached, such plans must be put on hold.”

There is continuing disagreement within NATO whether the posture review should revise NATO’s nuclear doctrine. The new Strategic Concept did not restrict NATO’s options for using nuclear weapons and simply states that “the circumstances in which any use of nuclear weapons might have to be contemplated are extremely remote.” By contrast, the United States and the United Kingdom have recently expanded their so-called negative security assurances by ruling out the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states that are members of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and are in compliance with their nonproliferation obligations. (See ACT, May 2010.)

Some member states believe that NATO should modify its nuclear posture to bring it in line with the revised U.S. and British declaratory policies. In a Sept. 13 interview, a Norwegian diplomat said he is “not expecting any dramatic changes in NATO’s nuclear posture” as a result of the review, but that “Norway’s point of departure is that we would like the [review] to signal reduced reliance on nuclear deterrence.” The diplomat said that “negative security assurances are the issue where such change is most likely to occur from our perspective.”

France, which does not participate in the NPG, takes a different position. For example, Paul Zajac, first secretary at the French Embassy in Berlin, maintained in an April paper that, from a French perspective, NATO should not and cannot have a nuclear weapons policy that spells out the conditions under which NATO would use or would not use nuclear weapons. “There can be no question of NATO committing itself on the issue of negative security assurances, which are unilateral legal acts adopted by nuclear[-]weapon states,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, some countries are apparently considering ways to circumvent the French veto on changing NATO’s declaratory policy. The Polish official wrote that, from his country’s perspective, “declaratory policy is an important part of deterrence policy, therefore it shall also be discussed.” Emphasizing the preliminary nature of discussions on nuclear issues in the posture review, he cautioned, “We don’t think that adoption of the negative security assurances in line with the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review is the only solution NATO might adopt, especially given growing nuclear proliferation risks.” Some officials mentioned the possibility of a political declaration adopted by NATO heads of state and government at the Chicago summit that would support the expanded negative security assurances of the United States and the United Kingdom.

The U.S. official said that, “in the [Obama] administration, there is no consensus yet on what the United States would like to see as the outcome of the [posture review]. Our position is being painfully and slowly crafted through the interagency process and will then have to be approved at the highest level. Thus, Washington has still not decided whether it would support NATO adopting negative assurances, if by any other name.”

The newly created Weapons of Mass Destruction Control and Disarmament Committee (WCDC) has been charged under the posture review with elaborating NATO’s role in arms control. In Lisbon, NATO members had agreed on the committee at the insistence of Germany and against strong French opposition. (See ACT, April 2011.) In a rare show of unity on nuclear issues, the ambassadors of the two countries on July 7 sent a joint proposal to NATO members. The one-page paper, which, according to diplomatic sources, served as the basis for the Sept. 14 agreement on the WCDC mandate, suggests that the WCDC examine, among other things, “possible reciprocal measures aiming to reinforce and increase transparency, mutual trust and confidence with Russia,” particularly on tactical nuclear weapons.

The paper states that the WCDC “could also serve as a forum through which” the United States consults with allies “on modalities for including [tactical nuclear weapons] in possible future bilateral arms control negotiations with Russia,” although member states still disagree whether the committee should continue to exist beyond the 2012 summit.

Three senior committees will now begin to draft input on the four separate elements of the posture review: the NPG High Level Group on nuclear issues, the WCDC on arms control, and the Defence Policy and Planning Committee, which is the NAC’s senior advisory body on defense matters, on the contribution of conventional weapons and missile defenses to the mix of defense and deterrence capabilities at NATO’s disposal.

Drafting of the final posture-review report will begin with national statements on the reports from the three committees at the NATO defense ministers’ meeting on Feb. 2-3. The joint meeting of defense and foreign ministers in March would then preview the final report. According to the Sept. 14 decision, the NAC will play a key role in drafting the report, but it is not clear to what degree staff at NATO’s Brussels headquarters and the office of Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen will be involved. The senior U.S. official said that “the current timetable leaves allies extremely little time for drafting of the final report.”

CWC Parties Wrestle With 2012 Deadline

With a treaty-imposed deadline for destruction of all chemical weapons stockpiles less than seven months away, diplomats are scrambling to avoid a crisis over the officially acknowledged fact that Russia and the United States, the holders of the world’s largest stockpiles of those weapons, will not eliminate them by that date.

Daniel Horner

With a treaty-imposed deadline for destruction of all chemical weapons stockpiles less than seven months away, diplomats are scrambling to avoid a crisis over the officially acknowledged fact that Russia and the United States, the holders of the world’s largest stockpiles of those weapons, will not eliminate them by that date.

The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) sets April 29, 2012, as the final deadline for destroying those weapons. For years, experts have viewed that deadline as unrealistic for a variety of reasons.

Last year, Russia acknowledged that it would not meet the deadline, estimating that the effort would stretch to the end of 2015. (See ACT, July/August 2010.) The United States announced in 2006 that it would not meet the 2012 deadline and has set 2021 as its target date.

In May 24 comments to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, Ahmet Üzümcü, the director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), said, “Although the convention does not permit any further extensions in the destruction deadlines, the imminent default needs to be viewed dispassionately and objectively.” The OPCW is the international body that implements the CWC.

Üzümcü cited the “massive” size of the stockpiles, adding that “[t]he efforts and resources required for their elimination in conditions of safety and environmental sensitivity were no less daunting, and perhaps underestimated at the time when the convention was drafted.” The CWC was opened for signature in 1993; it entered into force in 1997.

In his Geneva comments, Üzümcü said he was “confident” that the CWC parties “will seek a balanced way forward that preserves both the credibility and the integrity of the convention.”

Differing Perspectives

The issue figured prominently at the most recent meeting of the OPCW Executive Council.

Kazem Gharib Abadi, Iran’s ambassador the OPCW, said in his July 12 opening statement that failure to meet the destruction deadline “will be viewed as noncompliance.” Citing Article XII of the treaty, he said such a “breach” should be “brought to the attention” of the UN Security Council, the UN General Assembly, and the annual conference of CWC parties.

Robert Mikulak, the U.S. ambassador to the OPCW, said his country has an “unwavering” commitment to completing the destruction of its stockpile and would be about 90 percent of the way to that goal by the April deadline.

In a Sept. 23 interview, a third OPCW ambassador said that if the parties do not find a way to accommodate the missed deadline, “the risk of endangering the system will be huge.” It is crucial to avoid “politicization” of the issue, which will become much more intense, with “finger pointing” and accusations, if the deadline arrives without a solution, he said.

He said delegations are working with Peter Goosen, the South African chairman of the Executive Council, to craft language that would resolve the issue. The draft text will not impose sanctions for failing to meet the deadline, he said, adding that sanctions would be “counterproductive.”

In a Sept. 22 interview, Paul Walker, director of security and sustainability at Global Green USA, also said the proposed text would not use terms such as “violation” or “noncompliance.” The draft text has not been made public.

According to the OPCW ambassador, the text would require confidence-building measures based, as he put it, on a “reinforced framework of verification and reporting”; a regular review of progress until all the weapons are destroyed; and a reaffirmation of countries’ obligation under the CWC. Several delegations also are pressing for the possessor states to issue a new timeline, he said.

Transparency Stressed

In his July statement, Mikulak listed several transparency measures the United States is taking, including inviting council members to visit U.S. destruction facilities every other year. Walker underlined the need for Russia and the United States to take additional steps to reassure their fellow CWC parties that both countries “are doing all they can to abolish their [chemical weapons] stockpiles in a safe and timely manner.” In particular, he proposed annual high-level OPCW visits to chemical stockpiles and demilitarization facilities and to national capitals to meet with “all stakeholders—federal, state, and local.”

The draft text has attracted “almost a general consensus,” the OPCW ambassador said in the Sept. 23 interview. Whether the issue is resolved before the deadline depends on two factors, he said. One is whether “the delegation that is currently opposing the text”—a clear reference to Iran—is “interested in the content of the decision”; if so, “there is room for negotiation,” he said. On the other hand, if the country is seeking confrontation and trying to embarrass the United States, the parties will have to decide whether they want to accept a situation in which one party blocks a decision, he said.

By tradition, the OPCW operates by consensus, but it is not legally required to do so, the ambassador noted. When the organization broke from that tradition almost a decade ago over the ouster of Director-General José Bustani, it was “traumatic,” he said.

Walker said he thought Iran would be “quite isolated” if it sought to penalize Russia and the United States, as those two countries “have been working in very good faith.” In any case, he said, the issue is “a tempest in a teapot”; there is nothing the parties can do about the failure to meet the deadline, “which was arbitrary to begin with,” he said.

The OPCW ambassador, however, said that because of the chances for increased politicization and resulting damage to the regime, the timing of the decision is “almost as important as the content.”

The next Executive Council meeting is scheduled for Oct. 4-7 in The Hague. After that, the parties are to hold their annual conference Nov. 28-Dec. 2. Although the conference generally takes its cue from the council, the conference could come to a decision without council action, the ambassador said. Also, the council could convene an extraordinary meeting between its October session and the parties’ conference, he said.

Cluster Bomb Protocol's Status Uncertain

States-parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) failed to reconcile disputes over key elements of a draft protocol on cluster munitions during an Aug. 22-26 preparatory session in Geneva, diminishing the likelihood of a final agreement emerging from the CCW’s fourth review conference, scheduled to be held in Geneva Nov. 14-25.

Farrah Zughni

States-parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) failed to reconcile disputes over key elements of a draft protocol on cluster munitions during an Aug. 22-26 preparatory session in Geneva, diminishing the likelihood of a final agreement emerging from the CCW’s fourth review conference, scheduled to be held in Geneva Nov. 14-25.

The 1981 convention seeks to balance military needs with humanitarian concerns by restricting the use of conventional weapons “deemed to be excessively injurious or have indiscriminate effects.” Although all parties must agree to any additions to the treaty, a new protocol is binding only on countries that ratify it.

The draft protocol, submitted by the chair of the preparatory sessions, Jesus S. Domingo of the Philippines, forbids “a High Contracting Party to use, acquire, stockpile or retain cluster munitions” made before Jan. 1, 1980, and restricts the use, development, production, acquisition, and retention of cluster bombs produced on or after that date. The protocol also sets an eight-year deadline for destruction of other prohibited munitions; the deadline can be extended on request for another four years.

For the United States and other CCW countries, including China, Russia, and South Korea, that produce, use, store, and transfer cluster munitions, the protocol would provide an opportunity to consent to an international standard without completely abstaining from the weapons. The only other accord regulating cluster munitions—the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), which prohibits stockpiling, storage, transfer, and use of cluster munitions—has so far proven unpalatable to many countries that still employ them.

The United States, a strong supporter of the CCW protocol, has emphasized on various occasions the importance of these weapons in its own military policy. On July 9, 2008, days after the CCM was adopted, the Department of Defense issued a press release stating, “Cluster munitions are legitimate weapons with clear military utility in combat.… Blanket elimination of cluster munitions is therefore unacceptable.”

Humanitarian Benefits Debated

The U.S. opening statement at the Geneva meeting argued for the humanitarian benefits of Domingo’s proposal. “A CCW Protocol along the lines of the Chair’s text…would be an important and undeniable step forward from a humanitarian viewpoint—with the effect of immediately prohibiting more than 2 million U.S. cluster munitions alone,” the statement said.

However, a number of CCW parties that are also signatories or parties to the CCM have voiced dissatisfaction with the current text of the proposed CCW protocol.

Austria, along with Mexico and Norway, has been among the most vocal critics of the draft. In an opening statement to the Geneva meeting, Alexander Kmentt, director of disarmament, arms control, and nonproliferation at the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, argued that Domingo’s text “(re)legitimizes the use of cluster munitions” and represents a lowering of international humanitarian norms, therefore undermining the obligations of CCM parties under the convention.

“It is our conviction that these weapons need to be stigmatized so as to make their use morally unacceptable, irrespective of whether or not a state is a party to the CCM,” Kmentt said. The three countries and their supporters oppose specific provisions of the draft protocol, including those that prohibit only munitions produced prior to 1980—what the critics call an “arbitrary” deadline—and allow parties to defer destruction of certain types of cluster munitions for up to 12 years. Advocates of a stronger protocol also argue that restrictions on cluster bombs manufactured after 1980 do not go far enough.

“Many, if not most submunitions found unexploded in Kosovo…would appear to be exempt under the [chair’s] text,” said Neil Buhne, director of the UN Development Program’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, at the preparatory meeting.

Austria, Mexico, and Norway submitted an alternative draft protocol on July 20 and stated that any final text would need to be “complementary to and compatible with the commitments that have been taken by CCM signatory and ratifying states,” which constitute two-thirds of CCW parties.

The alternative proposal uses language that is more general than Domingo’s and does not contain a definition of cluster munitions. Advocates of the alternate draft say such ambiguity is necessary to accommodate otherwise irreconcilable views.

“Let us make it very clear that the alternative text that we have put forward does not represent our national positions,” Austria, Mexico, and Norway said in an Aug. 24 joint statement to the preparatory session. “The alternative text is intended to be a compromise text, a text that we believe could be acceptable to all High Contracting Parties including both those who do not intend to ratify the CCM in the near future and all those who have already signed or ratified the CCM.”

Although no state has explicitly said it will reject the protocol if it is presented to the review conference in its current form, several countries have hinted at such a possibility, noting “it would not be possible to support a protocol that would have lower standards” than the CCM, Norway said on Feb. 21 during an earlier preparatory meeting. Austria and Mexico have issued similar statements.

Not all CCM countries, however, have taken this stance. In a Sept. 13 statement at the second meeting of CCM parties in Beirut, the Lithuanian delegation recognized that “some states, including the largest producers and users of Cluster Munitions, are not yet ready to join the Convention” and said reaching a final agreement at the CCW was “important as a further step.”

Afghanistan Joins CCM

During the Sept. 12-16 Beirut meeting, the Afghan delegation announced it had submitted its instrument of ratification to the United Nations, making it the 62nd of 66 countries to ratify the convention.

According to recently released WikiLeaks cables, Afghanistan’s Dec. 3, 2008, signature of the CCM came as a surprise to the United States, which had received “assurances to the contrary” from Afghan President Hamid Karzai in February 2008. The cables state that Karzai signed the CCM “at the last moment” and “without prior consultation” with the U.S. government.

The cables also document U.S. efforts to “take full advantage of flexibility afforded by Article 21,” because the United States still has “a very small stockpile” of cluster bombs in Afghanistan. That article allows parties to take part in joint military operations in which nonparties “might engage in activities prohibited” under the convention.

An article published earlier this year in Melbourne’s The Age newspaper cited WikiLeaks cables documenting how U.S. officials secretly worked with Australia and other CCM countries to weaken Article 21 so that the United States could continue to conduct military operations with CCM parties. (See ACT, June 2011.)

CTBT Signatories Push Entry Into Force

Fifteen years after the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was opened for signature, more than 160 senior government officials met at a Sept. 23 conference at the United Nations to urge its signature and ratification by nine key remaining states to trigger entry into force.

Daryl G. Kimball

Fifteen years after the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was opened for signature, more than 160 senior government officials met at a Sept. 23 conference at the United Nations to urge its signature and ratification by nine key remaining states to trigger entry into force.

More than 50 officials spoke at the seventh biennial Article XIV Conference on Facilitating Entry Into Force. Under the treaty’s Article XIV and Annex 2, 44 specified countries must ratify the treaty to bring it into force. Nine of those states—China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, and the United States—have not yet done so.

The final conference declaration “urge[s] all remaining States…to sign and ratify the Treaty without delay” and endorses bilateral, regional, and multilateral initiatives to achieve the treaty’s “earliest entry into force.”

In his address to the conference, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted the growing calls, at the international political level and from the many victims and survivors of nuclear testing, for bringing the treaty into force. “My message is clear: Do not wait for others to move first. Take the initiative. Lead. The time for waiting has passed,” he stated. “We must make the most of existing—and potentially short-lived—opportunities.”

Since the 2009 Article XIV conference, the treaty has been signed and ratified by Trinidad and Tobago and ratified by four other states: the Central African Republic, Ghana, Guinea, and the Marshall Islands. To date, 182 states have signed the treaty, and 155 have ratified it. Yet, entry into force remains years away.

Carl Bildt and Patricia Espinosa, the foreign ministers of Sweden and Mexico, respectively, presided over the conference. Sweden and Mexico will head multilateral efforts to promote CTBT entry into force for the next two years.

The United States and China, which have signed but not ratified the treaty, have repeatedly expressed their support for it. In a Jan. 19, 2011, joint communiqué, Presidents Barack Obama and Hu Jintao declared that “both sides support early entry into force of the CTBT.”

In May of this year, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher announced that the administration would begin a quiet effort to discuss the technical issues of the treaty with some Senate offices. (See ACT, June 2011.) In an interview posted Sept. 2 on the Web site Arms Control Wonk, Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance Rose Gottemoeller confirmed that the effort has begun, noting that “the way people are going to come to their decisions about the treaty [is] through [a] process of very serious discussion and debate, seeing the facts, and coming to understand them.”

Gottemoeller also said, “[W]e’re not going to set any deadlines for ratification…we’re not rushing into this. We’re playing this as a long game, and really want to have that serious discussion and debate, and to get all the facts in front of the responsible figures: the Senators, the members and their staffs who are going to have to absorb and understand what all the issues are.”

In his Sept. 21 address before the UN General Assembly, Obama pledged that “America will continue to work for a ban on the testing of nuclear weapons.”

At the Sept. 23 CTBT conference, Tauscher reiterated the Obama administration’s support for the treaty and said, “[W]e intend to see it enter into force, but we cannot do it alone. As we move forward with our process, we call on all governments to declare or reaffirm their commitment not to test.”

Although movement toward U.S. Senate reconsideration of the CTBT remains slow, U.S. financial and technical support has substantially increased under the Obama administration.

Already the largest contributor to the Vienna-based Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), the United States announced two voluntary contributions in September. The first, valued at $8.9 million, will underwrite in-kind projects implemented by U.S. agencies in coordination with the CTBTO. These include enhancing radionuclide and noble gas detection technologies, refining seismic detection techniques, and supporting auxiliary seismic stations, according to a Sept. 6 CTBTO press release. The second contribution of $25.5 million will be used to reconstruct a damaged hydroacoustic station in the French Southern Territories, thereby completing the global hydroacoustic network to detect prohibited nuclear explosions, according to the CTBTO.

Since the establishment of the CTBTO in 1997, the global monitoring and data analysis system for verifying the treaty has been built up and is nearly complete, with about 85 percent of the planned 337 monitoring stations now operational. The CTBTO’s International Data Center also contributes to information for tsunami early warning, and earlier this year, the CTBTO provided global surveillance of the radioactive emissions from the Fukushima nuclear reactor complex after the March 11 accident there.

P5 Struggles to Unblock FMCT Talks

Fulfilling a commitment made at the United Nations in July, the world’s five recognized nuclear-weapon states met in Geneva on Aug. 30 to discuss ways to break the logjam at the Conference on Disarmament (CD) on a proposed treaty to ban the production of fissile materials for weapons. However, the states, known as the P5 because they also are the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, did not agree to pursue negotiations outside the CD, where Pakistan remains opposed to treaty talks.

Tom Z. Collina

Fulfilling a commitment made at the United Nations in July, the world’s five recognized nuclear-weapon states met in Geneva on Aug. 30 to discuss ways to break the logjam at the Conference on Disarmament (CD) on a proposed treaty to ban the production of fissile materials for weapons. However, the states, known as the P5 because they also are the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, did not agree to pursue negotiations outside the CD, where Pakistan remains opposed to treaty talks.

The P5 position to keep the fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) talks in the CD means that because of the forum’s consensus rule for decision-making, Pakistan’s concerns eventually will have to be addressed if the CD is going to make progress. Negotiations on an FMCT have been held up for years by Islamabad, which is blocking the needed consensus. (See ACT, September 2011.) As one CD representative put it in a recent interview, “Pakistan needs more time to produce more material, and they are happy to wait.”

Zamir Akram, the Pakistani ambassador to the CD, said in an Aug. 30 interview that Islamabad has a “growing window of vulnerability” in relation to India on fissile material stockpiles and that the window “needs to be closed.” According to Akram, the 2008 U.S.-Indian nuclear deal changed the strategic dynamics in South Asia by allowing New Delhi to divert its domestic fissile material production to weapons. (See ACT, July/August 2011.)

Akram said that Pakistan is open to dialogue and wants a “level playing field.” One way to achieve that, he said, is by giving Pakistan a Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) waiver like the one India received in 2008, exempting it from the group’s general policy of requiring that recipients of member states’ nuclear exports place all their nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards. (See ACT, October 2008.)

Another approach, Akram said, is to address New Delhi’s fissile material stockpiles in FMCT negotiations. The P5 members are opposed to reducing existing stocks through FMCT talks, however, saying they support the so-called Shannon mandate, which would leave that issue to be resolved during the negotiations.

Pakistan wants clarity and cannot accept “ambiguity” in the talks, Akram said. He has said that Pakistan is “ready to stand in splendid isolation” at the CD.

It is not clear how much support exists in the NSG for a Pakistani waiver. Pakistan also is reportedly seeking a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama to Islamabad later this year. An earlier trip had been planned, but U.S.-Pakistani relations took a dive after al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was killed in a covert raid by the U.S. military in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 2.

Among the five nuclear-weapon states, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States all have publicly renounced fissile material production for weapons. China is believed to have stopped such production.

India, Israel, and Pakistan, the three countries that never have joined the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), are the only states other than the P5 not legally prohibited from producing fissile materials (plutonium and highly enriched uranium) for nuclear weapons. Only India and Pakistan are believed to be currently producing such materials.

After their meeting, the P5 issued a joint statement supporting the negotiation of an FMCT “at the earliest possible date in the CD” and declaring that it would meet again “with other relevant parties” during the UN General Assembly First Committee’s session in October.

In recent interviews, representatives in Geneva said the statement’s phrase “in the CD” was a concession by the United States, which wants to pursue treaty negotiations outside the 65-nation body to avoid Pakistan’s veto. The Obama administration has said repeatedly over the last year that if the CD could not start negotiations, then “other options” would need to be considered. China and Russia, on the other hand, want the talks to stay in the CD and do not support other venues, in which the consensus rule might not apply.

The P5 did agree to discuss strategy for moving the talks forward in the CD. Such discussions may also include “other relevant parties” such as India, Israel, and Pakistan, which could be asked to join, according to officials.

Other countries, such as Canada and Mexico, are seeking to start FMCT negotiations in the UN General Assembly, according to the Geneva representatives. These delegations say that the rule of consensus in the CD is outdated and needs to be changed. If there is no consensus, they say, the issue should be brought to the UN where nations can take a vote. Canada, along with others, said in a Sept. 21 statement that it would introduce a resolution along these lines at the UN General Assembly in October.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - October 2011