"No one can solve this problem alone, but together we can change things for the better." 

– Setsuko Thurlow
Hiroshima Survivor
June 6, 2016

Interview With Rogelio Pfirter, Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons



Interviewed by Miles A. Pomper and Michael Nguyen

Rogelio Pfirter is the director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition for Chemical Weapons, the international organization charged with implementing the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention. On Sept. 23, Arms Control Today Editor Miles A. Pomper and Chemical and Biological Weapons Analyst Michael Nguyen spoke with Ambassador Pfirter about the future of his organization and the Chemical Weapons Convention.

ACT: There are now about 174 states-parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and it is getting close to universality. What do you see as the major obstacles that might keep the CWC from reaching its ultimate goal of universality, and how would achieving universality change your mission?

Pfirter: Well, the areas where we still haven’t achieved universality basically are problematic areas. Either we are talking about the Middle East, North Korea, or some states in Africa which have very serious problems, where the priority is internal reshaping of the countries. But basically I think it is the Middle East, where quite clearly chemical weapons have been alleged to exist, and secondly are somehow influenced by the ultimate decisions concerning the whole categories of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. So in a way one could say that in the Middle East, unfortunately, chemical weapons are hostage to nuclear weapons. We are making big efforts to try and break that logic, because we believe chemical weapons should be looked at on their own merits, so to say, and there’s good reason to eliminate them. But it won’t be easy to get countries in that region to sign and join [the CWC]—although I remain, I must say, prudently optimistic because in the last few months, what we have seen is that the countries in the region are prepared to look at this issue in a dynamic fashion and not just take for granted that there will always be a stalemate.

North Korea is a very different case, I mean they won’t even respond to any openings that we might make, and we do make openings ever so regularly to them. In terms of numbers, it is not too large, but in terms of quality, it might be quite a daunting task for us still. And of course, like any chain, we are as strong as our weakest link, and in as much as we don’t achieve universality and there are countries outside that either have the capability or have been alleged to have stockpiles, I don’t think we can claim success.

ACT: Switching topics a little bit, a few years ago, as you know, there was a financial crisis that prevented your organization from carrying out many of its inspection duties.[1] Are you now on a stronger financial footing and what steps are being taken to secure the long-term future of the organization?

Pfirter: Well, I think that we are certainly on a much safer, much stronger financial standing. In the last two or three years, that is since 2003, we have been able to carry on our full program concerning verification, both in terms of destruction of chemical weapons and, in terms of nonproliferation, inspections of industry. So I think we are on the right track so much so that this year for the first time, I have been able to propose a zero-growth budget in the strong belief that whatever we have now suffices to carry on program delivery. And that program delivery, I must say, in 2006 we will even contemplate more of a burden of intensive verification than this year. So I think we are alright. Of course, I don’t think any organization has a guarantee of long-term stability. What we need is continued commitments by member states to pay in full and on time. And on that, I think there’s still much room for progress.

ACT: When you say you are contemplating taking on more of a burden of verification, is there a particular direction you are thinking about going in?

Pfirter: Well yes, I think there are two things. First of all, there might be more facilities coming, more [chemical weapons] destruction facilities coming into operation. In Russia, we might have Kambarka as of next year, and Russia has also said that it will have Maradykovsky and that will demand having inspectors on site 24 hours, 7 days a week whenever there is a destruction activity.[2] And secondly, I am concerned that in the field of industry verification for nonproliferation’s sake, and bearing in mind also the looming threat of terrorism, that we should enlarge our efforts. Of particular concerns are Organic Chemical Production Facilities where I believe our effort is still very low in proportional terms when one looks at the universe of the number of plants we have identified as potentially relevant to the convention.[3]

ACT: But you think you are able to do all of this without increasing the budget?

Pfirter: For the time being, yes, because we are very keen on maximizing our resources, optimizing whatever we have. We have been working very hard with the United States and Russia, in particular, but also with India and with a state-party about the number of inspectors for use in inspection—being able to reduce them from eight to five in many cases.[4]

Secondly, we have not created, but we are making use of a new category of inspectors, who are not necessarily full-staff but are what we call a “special services agreement.” These are inspectors who are no longer in the organization, but we engage them for destruction-verification purposes, and we reduce in that way 40 percent in terms of cost-per-inspector. So I think that we will be able to probably cope.

ACT: You mentioned Russia. Are you confident that you will be able to handle the increased workload as the United States and Russia increase their chemical weapons destruction activities?

Pfirter: I think we are. As a matter of fact that matter at precisely this moment is being discussed by member states, and I have each possessor state telling me in writing their anticipated destruction activities for next year. And I believe that we are still on target with the number of inspectors that we have.

ACT: You mentioned one of the concerns that has been expressed at times, that this new seven-year tenure policy could result in the loss of expertise and institutional memory from the organization, particularly in the verification division. What are you doing to address this concern?

Pfirter: I must say, first of all, I think that the tenure policies were the result of the interests of many for making sure that we don’t repeat the model of some international organizations where because they become career organizations, there is a tendency to overgrow and over-inflate the staffing and there’s no motivation sometimes for improvement. On the verification front, although we do run the risks that you have mentioned, we have not been unsuccessful in recruiting or in replenishing the inspectorate, and we are trying to make sure we do it in a prudent and phased fashion, that we guarantee or allow for the preservation for as long as possible of institutional memory and also for the transmission of experience from the outgoing to the incoming. As a matter of fact, one directive that I have issued is that each one is expected to produce a legacy of experiences that we pass on to those who are coming in. So far, so good.

Now having said that, I believe that this is an issue, where because it is so new, no one could responsibly give an ultimate judgment of whether it’s been successful or not, and so in the near future, it is my intention (after three years probably) to sit down and make an evaluation from every possible point of view—not just the performance, but also financial and other [criteria]—and see how we are doing. I must say that we are finding it a bit more difficult sometimes to recruit people in areas not related to verification. As you know, we have a large administrative division, and for instance our own human resources office needed to be reinforced, and we haven’t been so successful getting professionals to apply and stay. So we have to look, and probably in the future a different mix might be advisable. But for the time being I think that as I said, on the verification front, I don’t feel that although we have had turnover of some of the key positions there, so far we are happy and satisfied that things are alright.

ACT: The Eighth Conference of States Parties adopted an action plan for the implementation of obligations related to national implementation and designation of national authorities under Article VII of the CWC.[5] We’re getting near the action plan’s November 2005 deadline, and it is clear that a lot of countries haven’t even taken the most basic steps despite a lot of regional workshops and offers of assistance. How do you expect the states-parties to address the end of the action plan at the upcoming Conference of States Parties?

Pfirter: I think this is a very serious matter. Implementation is of the essence. We all know that the ultimate effective means of this treaty—and this is not an irrelevant treaty, this is an important treaty for peace and security—the ultimate success depends on universality and full implementation by everyone. So, and that’s why the action plan was adopted by consensus, because everyone recognized that. And I think that we have to look now and do an evaluation of where we stand and take whatever measures are necessary now to make sure we move forward effectively in the future. We should do so prudently, but also with determination. And I think that I look forward to the debate that will take place in the context of the conference, and I do hope that member states will take the bull by the horns and see a way.

ACT:Are you proposing anything in particular?

Pfirter: No, I think we made our evaluation and now there are proposals from member states including the United States and that’s what’s being considered at the moment. If we are called by some states to say something, we will do that, but for the time being I think we are allowing for member states themselves to look into this, and probably some member states want to explain more, for example, those who are not where they should be. So I think that as we come closer to the conference probably, it will be clear where we are, but I’m quite sure that, first of all some action will be taken, and secondly, that this is not the end of the process but quite to the contrary, it’s an ongoing process.

ACT: Has the passage of UN Resolution 1540 changed your organization’s approach to the question of national implementation?[6]

Pfirter: Well, I must say one has to recognize that there’s probably no consensus among all member states as to what the resolution means. I personally believe it has been an extremely positive development. It has helped to boost the overall efforts for nonproliferation, of which chemical weapons is a big chunk. The resolution makes mandatory a series of requirements and obligations that are already in our convention but extends them even to countries that are still members of the [CWC]. All-in-all, I think that demonstrates the value of implementing our convention. It confirms, by stating obligations that are identical to our own convention, it demonstrates that our convention is very much an up-to-date document and quite relevant in the efforts against terrorism, which quite clearly constitutes a major priority. I don’t think that any treaty can see itself outside of that effort.

ACT: The United States and Russia, as you know, are the two largest possessors of chemical weapons stockpiles. If they fail to destroy their weapons by the CWC’s ultimate 2012 deadline, how will this affect the credibility of the regime and how will other states-parties react?[7]

Pfirter: I think it will have a devastating effect. But I as director-general would want to think that the countries remained strongly committed and therefore will take whatever measures are necessary to comply with their obligations by 2012. I know there is quite a degree of skepticism out there, but I as director of this organization have received nothing but reaffirmation and confirmation of their commitment and I look forward to the actions that will crystallize that commitment. I was in Russia in July and I heard it from the highest authorities there that they will do it. Russia, as you know, is redesigning its destruction program plan or calendar and we will see. I think that if Russia is successful in its effort to jump-start, so to speak, its program next year with Kambarka and Maradykovsky, we might think that maybe the effort will ultimately succeed.

I think at this stage, entertaining any idea of the renegotiation of this convention is very bad. Not the least because as you know this convention was adopted by consensus and any reopening of the doors would mean entering into a Pandora’s Box. We don’t know where it might end. Secondly, I believe that the priority issue of nonproliferation could be greatly affected if the obligations undertaken by possessor states are not implemented, because then it will probably be more difficult to push forward with industry verification on the agenda, which is aimed at that. So the key to success of this convention is the fairly harmonious fashion in which all the different provisions of the convention, the different verification activities and obligations I think by member states are being implemented.

ACT: Have people raised the issue of renegotiating the convention?

Pfirter: No, certainly not formally. Of course we are all aware it is near the end of 2005 and there already have been delays in the destruction of the 45 percent by the large possessor states and I know that there are voices out there, increasingly that say, “Well, this is unachievable.” We know that. But as I said, I think that ultimately the political will is there and I hope that countries will provide all the technical, financial, and political support necessary and the measures indispensable for them to comply with their obligations. These are solemn obligations taken under international law.

ACT:Speaking of politics, one of the obstacles or one of the issues that’s been out there are congressional stipulations put on the U.S. implementing legislation for the CWC. In your discussions with Congress or the administration, have you discussed or are you planning to discuss the possibility of repealing any of those conditions, for instance the ability to block chemical weapon inspections on grounds of national security or the provision preventing the removal of chemical samples?[8]

Pfirter: I don’t see those issues as the ones that are at this stage endangering the convention. I think what we have to concentrate on at this stage, fundamentally, is the destruction programs: their financing, the provisioning of all the technical and instrumental requirements for them to be successful. This is what I think is the key to it. Here is where I think we should put the emphasis at this stage rather than other things which aren’t, which might be there, but are not the ones that are making or breaking us at this stage of the convention.

ACT: Have other states-parties at the OPCW complained, in any form, about the U.S. provisions or the U.S. conditions?

Pfirter: As I said, this is an issue that at this stage is not in the priority of member states and there have been no discussions politically. I think that the priority is in the implementation of the different provisions of the convention, different articles: Article VI, Article VII, Article IV, certainly Article I.[9]

ACT: I know you’ve had the opportunity to meet with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance, and Implementation Paula DeSutter. Last year Arms Control Today interviewed her and she said that she felt there was a “growing consensus at OPCW that is more favorable to challenge inspections, particularly among the European states.”[10] As you know, the United States recently released a report about compliance with arms control treaties, and they concluded that Iran was strengthening key elements of its chemical weapons infrastructure.[11] Do you think that a challenge inspection of Iran or any other country is likely to occur in the future?[12]

Pfirter: Well as the director-general of the organization, I prefer not to talk about countries in particular. As you know, with a challenge inspection, the triggering element there is not a decision by the director-general, but rather, a request by a member state. If a member state has any request to make, well then there’s a procedure there. Having said all that, I personally as the director-general believe that it is crucial that we preserve the effectiveness of each and every one of the tools which the convention foresees for ensuring its full implementation. So without naming any country at all—without getting involved in that—what I say is that the institution of challenge inspection is one of the key components of the credibility and deterrent capacity of the [CWC]. So we have to make sure that we all recognize that it is there and it’s implementable should the occasion arise.

ACT: Not talking about any specific country, but a little more concretely, would you like to see challenge inspections go forward since this hasn’t been used?

Pfirter: I think we have to dispel the fear that, you know, this is something that cannot be done. I think it is crucial, I believe, to the ultimate ability of a convention to, as I say, for verification and deterrent purposes that we recognize that this is available. And as a consequence of that, I consider the obligation of us in the secretariat to retain a high degree of preparedness. Now this is something that we are doing regularly. Of course, I have also been encouraging not just the secretariat, but also member states to look into the decision to make sure that they too retain an ongoing preparedness. There’s no question that we need to keep it as a viable, not just theoretical, but actual instrument.

ACT: On the flip side of that, would you prefer that countries such as the United States file a complaint with the OPCW rather than make public judgments or accusations about countries’ programs?

Pfirter: I think that the United States, like any other country, is the one who knows best. The United States, quite clearly, is a key player in our organization and the good thing about the [CWC] is that it has an array of ways of addressing issues of concern for member states. One of the keys also to this success, I think, is the complementarity between the collective action and bilateral ongoing, continual consultations and the right to consultation and to ask questions which the convention foresees. So I think all countries will, in due course make up their balance and see what is the preferred way. There is a series of options there.

ACT: As a follow-up, Austria has held a meeting to talk about how to structure challenged inspections, and annually the United Kingdom actually has been conducting a mock challenge inspection. I know OPCW has sent observers, but are they active participants in these challenge inspection?

Pfirter: Not only have we [the Technical Secretariat] been involved in that, but we have carried out surprise challenge inspection exercises within the secretariat itself this year. I kept all but two or three staffers there from realizing it and even top directors didn’t know. We launched it at 9:20 [a.m.], the [same] morning a complaint is filed, and we selected a very far-away distant country. This was a realistic exercise and I got the permission of that country to do it. And by five in the afternoon we had been able to deploy 12 inspectors, the first third of the whole team, to the airport with all the equipment, and they would have been in situ before the deadline of 48 hours or 12 hours established by the convention itself and the verification annex.[13]

We consider that intensive readiness. And not only that, we also were able to ascertain that day, except for a delay of one industry inspection, we would have been able to carry on with our normal program delivery. So not only have we been able to deploy, but also to carry on our regular verification activities. So hopefully that gives some assurance, but of course, a challenge inspection depends on not only the ability of the director-general to deploy his team to the member states; it depends also on visas being issued by the countries that are affected, by transport being available and so on. So it requires a complexity of outside factors being in order, aside from the purely political ones that might arise in the policy-making elements. But that requires consideration of this matter beyond the Technical Secretariat itself.

ACT: Getting back to your answer to our first question. You talked about focusing more on the Middle East. You had some successes with Libya and Iran as states-parties, but Israel, Egypt, and Syria continue to hold out. The EU has tried to link trade to WMD pledges—especially with Syria.[14] But that doesn’t seem to have brought any change to their CWC state-party status, so do you have any new strategies that you plan to use?

Pfirter: This was an inert issue until two years ago. Two years ago we decided to do something about this, and we started in collective fashion, as well as bilateral context, to mobilize it. And while I would agree with you technically in the sense that yes, there has been no change of status—they have neither ratified in the case of Israel or acceded in the case of Syria and Lebanon and Egypt—from the political point of view, I think there has been encouraging developments in the sense that a dialogue has been opened and assurances have been obtained. First of all, [they have assured us] that there is no quarrel with the principles and purposes of the convention, quite to the contrary. That is to say, none of these countries think that chemical weapons should exist or should continue; the purposes are there. Secondly, I think that it’s been quite clearly a question of a disposition to revisit this issue and see where it stands and not consider that the frozen condition it was before is one that will last forever. We have also taken a few bilateral and collective actions as I mentioned.

First of all, I have had contacts with some of these authorities. The last one would be the foreign minister of Egypt last week in New York. And I have been reassured that there will be the possibility of change in the disposition to talk to the organization. In the past, Egypt, for instance, did not even send observers to our meetings, and we didn’t have any official Egyptian presence at our meetings. I think that starting with our meetings we are going to have in Africa now, we will have someone from the [Egyptian] embassy going, and hopefully there will also be observers in our next Conference of State Parties. In the case of Israel, Israel has been an observer as well as signatory party and we did have a very good, I think, exchange in the course of this year in March and we had [talks with] officials of different areas of the Israeli government, and I’m encouraged that this is not considered to be a dead issue there. And as I said, we also can do that with Syria too. On top of that we organized in Cyprus in July a workshop for the call for universality in the Mediterranean, where all the bordering countries came. We invited these countries; they all came to the meeting. And that was a very good opportunity for them to be present in a workshop or two about chemical weapons, for them to make presentations, to listen, and to network. U.S., UK, [and EU officials] were also there and highly supportive, and I was delighted to see dialogues and hopefully a fruitful basis for continuing consideration of these matters. So I haven’t got much more than that to offer, but that’s considerably more than we had 48 months ago.

That’s an issue which, as I’ve mentioned before, there’s a problem here that the issue of security seemed almost global in terms of weapons of mass destruction, and therefore, it would appear that countries considered there’s no room for addressing the chemical issue unless you also address the nuclear. Since we all know that these are very complex issues, I don’t think anyone is holding his breath they would be solved tomorrow. I think that part of the things we are preaching, so to say, is that there should be a decoupling between the nuclear and the chemical. First of all, these are different categories of weapons. They have different relevance in security terms. Quite clearly, the effects on civilians, and the ability to decouple and to address them might have also a very beneficial effect in terms of confidence building. So, this is the sort of thing we are trying to do.

ACT: Now, there has been some talk in the past about Israel unilaterally joining the CWC without waiting for Egypt or Syria because of concerns about the economics effects of the convention: Israel is a heavily industrialized nation and they have a large chemical import/export industry. Has there been a lot of talk among the member states about addressing the issue of trade between CWC non-states-parties with respect to Schedule III chemicals?[15] Would limiting trade in toxic industrials chemicals provide the economic incentive for some countries to join, particularly Israel?

Pfirter: I think that is a pertinent question. I don’t see at this moment a possibility for further progress in terms of further movement concerning non-sales of Schedule III [to non-states-parties] or not. I mean, this is an issue on which there doesn’t appear to be the necessary consensus at this stage. But yet I think that the fact that the [CWC] has high relevance to industry, not just to military and security establishments, is a key component, and certainly something we should be observing. In the case of some of the countries who have joined the convention that we have seen, and I’m thinking particularly of two or three, it was the chemical industry that really pushed for the adherence to the convention. So there might be something to that. Although, of course, the relevance of the security question in the Middle East is such that I think that we are all too aware that it will play a key role ultimately in any decision that countries might take. But as we move on in trying to persuade these countries to join and I think that what you said is relevant, I think for Egypt too it is relevant. The fact that a chemical industry might find itself deprived of access to certain, sort of, inputs that it might need. So yes, I think that we should clear that up, too.

ACT: But you don’t see any movement?

Pfirter: I don’t see at this stage any political movement in the organization for addressing the Middle East question in terms of chemical weapons through that.

ACT: Have the successful U.S. and UK negotiations that led to the dismantling of Libya’s nuclear and chemical weapons program changed any of OPCW’s strategies for dealing with other states that are reluctant to join the CWC?

Pfirter: Well I think that that has shown what I said before, the complementarity between the collective and the bilateral. This is totally in line with the convention. I think that it was a very positive demonstration of how member states on their own can play a key role in assuring the rules of the convention are achieved, and how it is possible for an organization such as ours to interact with those countries without mixing our roles, but do so in a very fruitful way. This is what we have seen in the case of Libya, so I’m quite sure this is relevant for our time, and that’s why I also believe that aside from the efforts that we undertake collectively, or I as director-general bilaterally, the efforts which countries bilaterally, or regionally might take in negotiations with those outside I also think are important and much encouraged.

ACT: Can you tell us a little bit more about the status of the current EU joint action?

Pfirter: Well, that’s a very successful project. As you know they approved one action in the last year that we are implementing this year. We are hopeful here, particularly during the British presidency, the action will be renewed also next year.[16]

Now that action is basically aimed at two or three key issues. One is universality, the other is full implementation, and the other one is technical assistance in developing countries. And I think that three legs of this tripod are all functioning very, very well. We have regular meetings with the European Union because of course they like to monitor what is going on, I think that this has been satisfactory, and certainly I find that this is a very good way for providing additional means for the OPCW to work on specific cases on this issue that are very important.

ACT: Is there anything you would like to add that we have not touched on?

Pfirter: I would say that, I think what is important that the [CWC] has proven to be a successful experiment. My only appeal to everyone is that everyone does his best to try to ensure that it continues to be so. The full political support, adequate financial support, and full dedication to the implementation of the provisions of the convention—being Article IV, Article VI, Article VII, Article I—this is very, very important. I hope that there will be no loss of enthusiasm on that front. Obviously, I think we need to work also in order to ensure that the big possessor states fulfill their obligations. I must say in the case of the United States that I believe that the financial means, the political will, are all there, so I’m quite confident that the United States will ultimately be able to make it. What we have now to see is how Russia is able to reach that point. And that requires strong concrete determined action by Russia, and also the provision of financial support by the developed world—by the G8 and the Global Partnership.[17] So I hope that it will be possible with two elements: Russia’s own homework and the international financial support will both continue to be forthcoming and if anything even more forthcoming now as we approach the [2012] deadlines.


1. In February 2001, the Organization for the Prohibition for Chemical Weapons’ (OPCW) director-general Jose Bustani warned of looming financial crisis. Many states-parties had failed to pay their due, leading to OPCW to substantially its inspections of destruction activities and industry. See Jonathan Tucker, “The Chemical Weapons Convention: Has It Enhanced U.S. Security?” Arms Control Today, April 2001, pp. 8-12.

2. Kambarka and Maradykovsky are two of Russia’s seven chemical weapons stockpile sites. Russia has said that it plans to open the destruction facility at Kambarka by the end of 2005, where it will destroy about 6,400 metric tons of lewisite (a blister agent), representing about 15.9 percent of the total Russian chemical weapons stockpile. At Maradykovsky, Russia is planning to begin construction of a destruction facility in March 2006 to destroy the stockpiled nerve agents there, representing about 17.4 percent of the total Russian chemical weapons stockpile.

3. Organic Chemical Production Facilities or Discrete Organic Chemical Facilities are those that produce organic compounds through a chemical process, and include processes such as pharmaceutical manufacturing.

4. Upon declaring its chemical weapons stockpile, one state-party requested that its identity be withheld under Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) confidentially rules. Official OPCW documents refer to the country as “a State Party,” although it is widely believed to be South Korea.

5. The Eighth Conference of States Parties adopted October 2003 an action plan to assist states-parties in meaning their obligations under Article VII of the CWC, which requires among other things that a state-party identify a national authority to the OPCW, implement penal and administrative legislation, and deposit the text of the implementing legislation with the OPCW. States-parties agreed that under the plan, individual countries and the OPCW should provide any technical assistance needed, and at the Tenth Conference of States Parties in November 2005 would revisit the issue and consider any further action, including the possibility of punitive measures.

6. The UN Security Council unanimously passed UN Resolution 1540 April 2004, requiring all states to adopt and enforce “appropriate, effective” laws and measures, such as export and border controls, to prevent nonstate actors from acquiring biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons, as well as missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles designed to deliver such arms. What constitutes “appropriate” and “effective” is not specified, however, and is left up to each state to determine “in accordance with their national procedures.” See Wade Boese, “Security Council Unanimously Adopts Resolution on Denying Terrorists WMD,” Arms Control Today, May 2004, p. 34.

7. Russia and the United States have the two largest declared stockpiles of chemical weapons at 41,000 metric tons and 38,000 tons respectively. The CWC requires states-parties destroying their chemical weapon stockpiles to meet three interim deadlines of 1 percent, 20 percent and 45 percent and then complete the destruction 10 years after the convention enters into force. However, the CWC also permits states-parties to request a one-time, five-year extension. The date of this ultimate deadline is April 29, 2012. Both the United States and Russia have been granted the one-time extension in principle when they received extensions to the interim deadlines that exceeded the original 10-year deadline. Russia has destroyed less than 3 percent of its stockpile, while the United States has destroyed about 37 percent. See Michael Nguyen, “Pentagon Backs Off Chemical Weapons Destruction Study,” Arms Control Today, June 2005, pp. 37-38.

8. The implementing legislation for the CWC (Public Law 105-277) had several conditions contrary to the CWC. The two most controversial provisions prohibit an OPCW inspection team from removing any chemical samples from the United States for testing and a national security exception permitting the president to deny a challenge inspection request. Article XXII of the CWC prohibits subjecting its articles to reservations, or reservations to its annexes that are “incompatible with its object and purpose.”

9. Article IV addresses the disarmament obligations of states-parties to destroy their stockpiles of chemical weapons. Article VI addresses the nonproliferation obligations of the convention, including schedules of restricted chemicals and precursors. Article VII deals with national implementation obligations (see endnote 4). Article I deals with the general obligations of the states-parties to destroy their stockpiles and production facilities.

10. ACT interviewed then-U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Verification and Compliance Paula DeSutter in March 2004. The full transcript of the interview is available online at <http://www.armscontrol.org/aca/DeSutterInterview.asp>.

11. The U.S. Department of State released its annual “Adherence to and Compliance With Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments” August 25, 2005, which concluded “Iran is in violation of its CWC obligations because Iran is acting to retain and modernize key elements of its chemical weapons infrastructure to include an offensive chemical weapons research and development capability and dispersed mobilization facilities.” See Wade Boese, “ U.S. Names Alleged Treaty Violators,” Arms Control Today, October 2005, pp. 36-37.

12. Challenge inspections under the CWC allow one state-party to request an OPCW inspection of a declared or otherwise site in another state-party if there is question of compliance or accuracy of a declaration. The state-party being inspected cannot refuse the challenge inspection.

13. The CWC and its verification annex provide detailed procedures for a challenge inspection. The director-general must notify the state-party being inspected at least 12 hours before the arrival of the OPCW inspection team to the state-party’s designated point-of-entry. The state-party then has 36 hours (or 48 hours after the original notification) to transport the inspection team to the perimeter of the site to be inspected.

14. The European Commission, in concluding an EU-Syria Associate Agreement to enhance trade relations, required Syria to agree to a nonproliferation clause regarding weapons of mass destruction. See Paul Kerr, “EU Deepens Ties With Libya, Syria,” Arms Control Today, November 2004, p. 41.

15. The CWC characterizes chemicals according to their toxicity and military and commercial utility. Schedule III chemicals are used in large quantities by commercial industry, but also pose a nonproliferation risk as chemical weapons or precursors. Although the convention set restrictions on the trade of Schedule I and II chemicals with non-states-parties, Schedule 3 transfers are still permitted. The convention expected states-parties to consider restrictions five years after the convention’s entry into force, but no action was taken at the First Review Conference.

16. The United Kingdom currently holds the European Union presidency. The term begins in July 1 and concludes December 31 of this year.

17. The Global Partnership is a G8 initiative announced June 2002 at the Kananaskis Summit held in Canada to commit $20 billion over 10 years to threat reduction projects primarily in Russia.

Interviewed by Miles A. Pomper and Michael Nguyen

Subject Resources:

Interview with Annalisa Giannella, Personal Representative on Nonproliferation of WMD to EU High Representative Javier Solana


Interviewed by Oliver Meier

Arms Control Today’s international correspondent Oliver Meier sat down with EU nonproliferation chief Annalisa Giannella to discuss Europe’s nonproliferation and security policies and future directions. The interview was conducted as the European Union and three member states geared up for a new round of negotiations with Iran and European countries reckoned with unification setbacks and a disappointing nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty meeting. Giannella has served in her current position since October 2003and previously served as the European Council’s director for security and defense policy and the head of the division for security issues.

ACT: What do you see as the EU’s specific strength in combating proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and where do you think the EU could do better?

Giannella: The EU is a very strange animal. It’s something more and better than an international organization, something more comprehensive and more powerful—we have possibilities for internal action as well as external action. The fact that the EU also has a legislative power is a very strong advantagewhen we have to agree on very high standards for the protection of radioactive sources. Because the EU has this legislative power, we can issue a directive that is in fact a European law applicable in all member states. So that’s a strength vis-à- vis the EU member states. And then there is the strength we have for external action. What we are now doing—and this is linked with what we call the streamlining of nonproliferation policy into the external relations of the EU—is that we are linking our political objectives with the attraction of the European Union as an economic partner. This is why we succeed in including a nonproliferation clause in the [trade and cooperation] agreements with third countries or a group of countries. We succeed because we can accompany this with our offer of cooperation, not only in trade but also in political issues.

ACT: Can you tell us which countries have trade agreements with the EU that include such clauses, and, more specifically, where the negotiations with Syria stand.

Giannella : We have succeeded in getting a nonproliferation clause in the agreement with Albania, with Tajikistan, and with Syria as well. Actually, the agreement with Syria has been initialed, so it is practically concluded. The reason why it has not entered into force is linked with other events in the country and in the region. There are other political reasons that so far have not made entry into force of the agreement possible. But the agreement has been finalized and initialed, and the clause is there, and the clause is very much in accordance with the mandate given by the [European] Council in November 2003. And now we have an agreement for the inclusion of the [nonproliferation] clause in the agreement with the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council[1] and in the renewal of the Cotonou Agreement (African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries). We are also negotiating with Mercosur.[2] Sobasically we are succeeding in getting this clause with all sorts of countries.

ACT: What is your impression of the consequences of the failed referendums in France and in the Netherlands for the Common and Foreign Security Policy (CFSP)[3] in general, and for European efforts to fight the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in particular?

Giannella : For the fight against WMD, the consequences are more or less the same as for the rest of the Common and Foreign Security Policy [CFSP], which means that they are not at all dramatic. We have managed to develop our CFSP over the last few years, with the old treaties,[4] and if you look back, we have made a lot of progress. I remember in 1999, I was working for the preparation of the Cologne European Council, and nobody could believe at that time that we would be able to develop a defense policy.[5] And then after Cologne, we had [the European Council in] Helsinki, we had [the European Council in] Nice,[6] and now we have crisis management operations in the Balkans, in Africa, everywhere. So I think that we are rather successful so far in the development of this new policy for the EU. The negative consequences of the non-ratification of the constitutional treaty seem to be linked to the fact that instead of having a double-hatted minister, we will continue to have two political leaders: the high representative and the commissioner for external relations.[7] But this is a complication that we can overcome by increasing coordination. I’m not saying that this is an ideal situation, but it’s not necessarily a real obstacle to the development of the CFSP. I mean, if you go even at national level, you have a minister for foreign affairs, a minister for development aid, a minister for external trade, and they are not necessarily the same person, so these complications exist outside the EU.

ACT: Can you give us your assessment of the progress made so far by France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the EU in the talks with Iran about its nuclear program?

Giannella : It’s very difficult to make an assessment because we are very much in the middle of the process. We are in a crucial phase because at the end of May, there was the ministerial meeting in Geneva at which our ministers took the commitment to present to Iran by the beginning of August a comprehensive proposal. So now we are in the process of finalizing our comprehensive proposal and we need to see what the reactions will be from the Iranian side. So, the process is very complicated, but I think that there are already some positive outcomes. The first positive outcome, I would say, for Iran, is that engaging in negotiations with us has assisted them in getting out of their total isolation. They were totally isolated, and now they are talking to the Europeans, they are enhancing their cooperation with Russia. Even the Americans I think [have] modified their language with respect to Iran. The IAEA’s negotiations with the EU has [caused] Iran not to be referred by the Board [of Governors] to the UN Security Council. So there are a lot of positive outcomes for Iran.

As far as we are concerned, we are interested in getting from Iran what we call an "objective guarantee" that their nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes, and this is not only because, of course, we don’t wish to see another state develop nuclear weapons, despite its commitments under the NPT. But also because we think that the region where Iran is situated is such a sensitive region, it is so unstable, there are so many tensions, and so if Iran should develop a nuclear military capability, that could trigger a [nuclear arms] race, and that would be a real problem for the whole international community. So I believe that it is already a positive outcome, in a certain sense that we so far have managed to stop the development of such a military program, and we have also helped Iran come closer to a normal situation. They are not yet in a normal situation because we need to get final assurance about their nuclear program. That is why we hope that the comprehensive proposal can trigger the last phase of the negotiation.

ACT: You already mentioned the objective guarantees that the EU is demanding. Is the permanent cessation of uranium enrichment the only way that Iran can meet that? And, connected to that, do Europeans support U.S. demands that Iran dismantle at least some of its nuclear facilities?

Giannella : We made clear from the beginning that enrichment and conversion, any enrichment-related activities are very sensitive, particularly because Iran has been concealing a lot of activities [from] the IAEA despite its safeguards agreements. We, and we being not only the Europeans but the rest of the world, cannot regard the carrying out of these activities by Iran as a normal activity. Of course, we know that the NPT allows the development of a civil nuclear program. The question is, does the development of a civil nuclear program imply necessarily these activities, because you can have a civilian nuclear program without necessarily producing nuclear fuel. You can get fuel from another country, like Russia in the case of Iran, for example. Then we can discuss fuel assurances, discuss cooperation in nuclear technology. But I think that the problem is to develop ways and means of assisting the development of a civilian nuclear program in such a way that it does not raise any concern in the other countries.

ACT: Russia has signed a deal to supply fuel. How does this play into your negotiations? Is Moscow’s deal complementing your negotiations or does it make them more difficult?

Giannella : Our cooperation with Russia is excellent in this case. And we are always in close consultation with the Russians, even in the preparations of our comprehensive proposal. So in our comprehensive proposal we take into account the fact that Russia has already concluded a contract with Iran for the supply of fuel for Bushehr I. We also take into account the possibility that Russia would supply Iran with a Bushehr II reactor. So all this is factored in as important factors. On the other hand, we understand that Iran does not necessarily want to depend exclusively on one country and would like to have other guarantees in order to have a power generation program that is totally safe. So cooperation with Russia is excellent. The cooperation between Russia and Iran is an important factor in our proposal, but we also take into account the legitimate concern of Iran not to depend exclusively on one country.

ACT: If things don’t go well in the negotiations, at what point do you think the EU would support a referral to the UN Security Council, and what in your view would be the purpose of such a referral?

Giannella : What has happened in Vienna so far is that the [IAEA] board has identified quite a number of failures by Iran to comply with its commitments. So far the board has refrained from referring the case to the Security Council, as it should do in a certain sense because the Security Council is the body in charge of these problems. But it has refrained from referring this case because there was this process of negotiation with the European countries which is promising and which everybody welcomes. And also because Iran has pledged to implement the additional protocol although they have not ratified it yet, but they have agreed to implement it, and they have shown some good cooperation with the IAEA. If the negotiation process is broken, then the board in Vienna will be faced with Iran’s failures without a solution to the lack of confidence that characterizes the international community’s perception of Iran. The positive element, which is counterbalancing the concealment by Iran, will not be there anymore. So clearly that can lead to a decision to refer the case to the Security Council. The Security Council, of course, is a new process. Everybody knows that the Security Council can adopt sanctions, but the Security Council also can decide to encourage, to frame the negotiations. The Security Council is a process. It’s not a one-shot event.

ACT: So you think they could be faced dealing with Iran in several steps once it was referred…

Giannella : Yes, of course, I don’t think it’s just one single event. But on the other hand, it is clear that the negotiations are, in my opinion, a very good chance for Iran to get out from the difficult situation. So Iran should not underestimate the fact that if it misses this opportunity, everything will be more difficult. Europeans are always in favor of a diplomatic solution, a political solution. If you read the WMD strategy, we say we want to fight against proliferation, but we want to address the root causes of proliferation: we try to understand why there are countries that are attracted by the development of a WMD program.

ACT: Could you give us your assessment of the EU’s performance at the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in New York in May, and why you think that the EU was not able to successfully affect the outcome of that conference[8]

Giannella : I am of the opinion that our performance was not bad at all. First of all, the fact that the [European] Council had been able to adopt a Common Position before the opening of the review conference was already a success, because if you look at the starting positions of our member states, which are very different for political reasons, historic reasons, and because of differences of status in the UN, it was a real effort, a real achievement to have that Common Position. I also noticed that a number of third [world] countries analyzed our Common Position and indicated that [it] could have constituted a good basis for a compromise in the review conference itself. And we had very favorable comments from Japan, Russia, China, and many EU partners--including big partners, because the Common Position of the EU constitutes a point of balance between the nuclear-weapon states, the non-nuclear-weapon states, the anti-nuclear-weapon states, etc. And there is evidence that our Common Position was welcomed both by members of NATO and by members of the New Agenda Coalition,[9] in particular by Brazil and South Africa, so the spectrum of countries who were supportive of our Common Position was very wide. We didn’t succeed, unfortunately, not because of our performance but because tensions were too high and because there were other participants at the review conference who did not necessarily have the same objective as the EU and maybe were not convinced as we were that a successful outcome of the conference was needed, was really an objective to pursue actively.

ACT: The EU has made several proposals to strengthen the NPT. What can be done to implement these proposals before the next review conference in 2010?

Giannella : We can continue to work to strengthen the NPT as we continue to work to strengthen other treaties and conventions because we can use all the opportunities we have in the context of our political dialogue. We can use also our participation in the export control regimes, we can work on the multinational approach for the fuel cycle, There are a lot of opportunities and forums to work on specific aspects, and we will continue to do so. But also what happens with Iran, what happens with India, there are a number of developments in the world on which we need to reflect in depth, and see how to move forward from there.

ACT: On many disarmament issues, the U.S. position is fundamentally different than the EU position. Do you think the trans-Atlantic gap on disarmament issues will continue to grow?

Giannella : Well, I think the situation on CTBT [the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty][10] and [a proposed] FMCT [fissile material cutoff treaty] is not necessarily the same.[11] On CTBT, clearly the EU member states have a different position from the United States. We have a common position on CTBT, and on that basis we even carry out démarches to Washington to convince it to accede to the treaty and to allow the treaty to enter into force. On FMCT, I would say that our positions are not that far apart because we are in favor of commencing the negotiations without prior conditions, so we don’t necessarily link the negotiations of an FMCT to the verification mechanism. So I think on the FMCT we could find common ground with the Americans.

But generally speaking, I would say that it is true that there is not necessarily a convergence of views between the EU and the Americans on disarmament. Suffice it to say that on the occasions of our summits we have joint declarations on nonproliferation, but disarmament is not mentioned. So we agree on a sort of common agenda to fight against proliferation, but we don’t have elements related to disarmament in this declaration. On the contrary, if you look at our strategy against proliferation—it is called “Strategy Against Proliferation”—it in fact includes some elements of disarmament.

Still, there is clearly somewhat of a gap. I don’t know whether this gap will grow. Of course, we would prefer to increase the convergence of views between us and our major partner. We have agreed now to conduct specific consultations in the field of compliance. I don’t know, maybe closer cooperation in the field of compliance can help us in allaying the concerns of our American friends. And maybe we’ll have more cooperation in the area of disarmament as well.

ACT: I believe that the European Council is preparing a joint action on steps needed to bring the CTBT into force and to support the work of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization. Could you update us on that and let us know how the European Union can contribute to the upcoming Article XIV conference to facilitate CTBT entry into force, which is planned at the United Nations in September?

Giannella : For the joint action, it is too early to tell you, because we have not been working on that so far. I mean, there is this idea that will be developed under the Austrian presidency [which will run from January to June 2006], and this is due to the fact that we simply don’t have enough resources, whether human or financial, to launch too many joint actions in a short period of time. In July, a few days ago, we had the adoption by the [European] Council of a new joint action in support of the IAEA. We are preparing a renewal of the joint action in support of the OPCW [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons], which would be adopted in autumn. We are preparing a number of initiatives in the area of export controls, and so simply we don’t have time and we wouldn’t have the financial resources either for such a joint action, but it is planned for the Austrian presidency. We will start preparation at the end of the year or the beginning of next year. So I can’t tell you much more at this point.

ACT: Related to the review conference of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) coming up at the end of next year, can you update us on what the EU is doing? Specifically, is the EU going to be placing the verification gap in the convention on the agenda of the review conference?

Giannella : First of all, clearly the preparation of the review conference of the BWC is a high priority for us. And we have already started under the UK presidency, and we will continue next year. We have also started preparation of a specific joint action in support of the BWC. We have the joint action in support of the IAEA, which is linked to the NPT, and we have a joint action in support of OPCW, which has been adopted in support of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), and now we would like to have a joint action in support of BWC. The specific problem we have there is that there is no agency that we can support, and that makes our projects more complicated. Because in the case of IAEA and OPCW, we finance, we support activities that can be implemented by the agency. In the case of biological weapons, we have to invent a mechanism that will allow us to implement this joint action. And we are planning to have projects in order to assist countries in drafting legislation to comply with the convention, etc.

As far as the verification mechanism is concerned, you know that there are a lot of problems that are not internal to the EU. So the situation is rather complicated. Of course, we will take advantage of all our channels of political dialogue in order to close the gap as much as possible. And we will work as much as possible on, I will not say alternative solutions, but maybe intermediary solutions. If we can’t get a verification mechanism, there are best practices for laboratories. There are other measures that are not as compulsory or, I would say, as spectacular as a verification mechanism but can help us to improve compliance with the convention.

ACT: There have been calls to cease the work of UNMOVIC this year. And the EU WMD strategy makes its goal to maintain UNMOVIC’s verification and strategy experience. Can you tell us what the EU is doing to make sure this goal is achieved?

Giannella : I can’t tell you too much in detail, but what I can tell you is that generally speaking we are in favor of having some verification and inspection expertise in the UN, but this specific point is under discussion in our working groups, so I can’t be more specific, but clearly we are working on it.

ACT: A couple of months ago the EU seemed to be drifting toward lifting the China arms embargo. Where do you see discussions on this topic going, and do you see any movement on it during the British presidency?

Giannella : Well, on the arms embargo, as you know the European Council has said two or three times already that in the end this arms embargo should be lifted. So I think this trend has been set. Now, I cannot tell you exactly when this decision will be taken formally, because this will depend on a number of factors, but clearly, we are always moving in that direction, and we are working in that direction.

And we work from different angles. We work from the point of view of export control. As you know we have been reviewing our code of conduct, we have been reinforcing our code of conduct. And now, the code of conduct is ready in the form of a Common Position, which is a legally binding instrument. But in addition to being a legally binding instrument, the substance of the rules of the code of conduct have been reinforced and complemented. As you know, we have also been working on the toolbox, which is a set of transparency measures and mutual controls that will apply to exports to countries previously under embargo. This is the export control side. So we have been making a lot of improvement for ourselves, but it is also to reassure our partners.

Secondly, always from the angle of perceptions of other partners, we have agreed with the United States and Japan to hold regularly a strategic dialogue on Asia and in particular on East Asia, and this is already underway. We already had not only the visit of [ EU High Representative Javier] Solana to Washington but we also had a meeting at the assistant secretary of state level, which took place in June, and we had a very comprehensive and very open exchange. This proved, by the way, that our approach to the region and to China is not different at all because both the United States and the EU see China as an important country with which we have to engage. And engagement is the only way to make progress on a number of issues. Engagement is the only way to be sure that China becomes more and more a responsible actor on the international scene.

And the third angle, which is not the last one, is the human rights angle since the embargo was decided upon as a sanction following the Tiananmen events.[12] We are continuing our very, very close and structured dialogue with China on human rights, and we continue to consider that China needs to make an important move in this field.

So the decision to lift the embargo will be taken in the light of these three aspects. But as I said, the trend has been set, and it is for our political leaders to assess the balance of these three.

ACT: May I ask two questions on the G-8 Global Partnership Against Weapons of Mass Destruction?[13] First of all, the European Commission has pledged $1 billion toward the global partnership. Can you tell us where the commission stands in meeting this pledge and why it has fallen short?

Giannella : I am not sure that it has fallen short, because there is a debate about whether the actual actions undertaken by the European Commission match entirely their commitment both in financial terms and in terms of type of projects. I know there are a number of projects in the area of nuclear safety, which are not considered as relevant for the G8 Global Partnership. Of course there we can have divergence of views, but I think that the commission is trying generally to meet its commitment. I would also underline that the commission has put forward for the next budget cycle I would say very important financial resources for nonproliferation projects, which would be devoted mostly to the G8 Global Partnership. Now there are difficulties within the [European] Council on the new financial cycle, and this is not only linked to the nonproliferation but to wider political and economic problems.[14] But, you know, if the commission may have some difficulties in meeting its commitment, this is the case also for other partners of the G8. So I don’t think it’s fair to single out the commission. I think the EU and its member states, and in particular those member states that are members of the G8, are deploying very substantial efforts to assist Russia to disarm and to dismantle.

ACT: The scope of the Global Partnership is being expanded, and some would like to see it fund projects in Libya, for example, and Iraq. Where do you see Europe’s position on this?

Giannella : As you know, the European Commission has always participated in the meetings of the different working groups and senior-level working groups on nonproliferation; we (the European Council) have started to participate recently. I don’t think we have a final European position on that. What I can tell you is that we are already planning some projects in support of Ukraine, for instance. We don’t have, at least at this stage, a European position on a possible expansion of the global partnership to countries outside the former Soviet Union.

1. The Gulf Cooperation Council is an organization founded in 1981 that includes six Persian Gulf states: Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Oman and Qata and aims to unify its participants economically and politically in a manner similar to the European Union.

2. Mercosur (Mercado Común del Cono Sur) is a 1991 free trade agreement between Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Chile and Bolivia are associated members.

3. In referenda, French and Dutch voters rejected a proposed EU constitution earlier this year. The Common and Foreign Security Policy (CFSP) of the European Union is the guiding structure for the EU’s foreign policy. It is referred to as the “Second Pillar” of the Treaty of Maastricht, which established the EU in its modern form. It was substantially altered by the Amsterdam Treaty, which came into force in 1999. It sets out in broad terms what the foreign policy goals of the EU should be, including support of UN resolutions and to ‘preserve peace and international security.’ For more information, see Johanna Spear, “The Emergence of a European ‘Strategic Personality,’” Arms Control Today, November 2003.

4. Ibid

5. The Cologne European Council was a meeting of the European Council in June 1999, at which former NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana was appointed Secretary-General of the Council and High Representative for the CFSP.

6. The European Council meetings in Helsinki and Nice in December 1999 and December 2000 respectively took further steps to achieve the goal of giving the EU an independent military capability, in particular in the area of crisis prevention. The decision to give the EU such a capacity for autonomous action had been taken at the European Council in Cologne in June 1999.

7. Currently, two officials share responsibility for the European Union’s foreign policy. Benita Ferrera-Waldner is is the EU Commissioner for External Relations, working for the EU Commission. Javier Solana is the EU Council’s High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy. The EU Constitution proposed to unify these two posts and to create the post of Union Minister of Foreign Affairs, who would be responsible for the representation of the Union on the international scene.

8. For an analysis of the NPT Review Conference see Wade Boese, “Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Meeting Sputters,” Arms Control Today, July/August 2005, pp. 22-23.

9. The member states of the New Agenda Coalition are Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and Sweden. These countries frequently issue joint proposals to advance nuclear disarmament.

10. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) bans all nuclear explosions anywhere. It has been signed by 175 countries and ratified by 122 states. The treaty, however, will not take full legal effect until 11 key states, including the United States, ratify the accord. See “The Status of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty: Signatories and Ratifiers” at http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/ctbtsig.asp.

11. A fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) would outlaw production of highly enriched uranium and plutonium for weapons purposes. A nuclear weapon cannot be made without one or the other. In July 2004, the Bush administration changed the U.S. position announcing that it does not believe the agreement can be crafted to protect against cheating. This has further complicated the commencement of negotiations on such an accord. See Wade Boese, “Bush Shifts Fissile Material Ban Policy,” Arms Control Today, September 2004, pp 20-21.

12. On June 4, 1989, the Chinese government violently suppressed pro-democracy protests on Beijing’s Tiananmen square. Hundreds, if not thousands, of protesters were killed by government troops. As a consequence, the EU imposed an arms embargo vis-à-vis China.

13. The Group of Eight (G-8) Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction is an initiative launched in June 2002 by the G-8, the world’s eight richest and most powerful countries. The initial participants pledged $20 billion over a 10-year period to this effort, including $10 billion from the United States, and have to date primarily funded projects in Russia.

14. In June 2005, a first round of talks on the EU’s long-term budget for the period 2007-13 failed.

Interviewed by Oliver Meier

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Interview with Assistant Secretary of State Stephen Rademaker


Interviewed by Wade Boese and Miles Pomper

On the verge of an important month-long meeting of states-parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), Assistant Secretary of State Stephen Rademaker met April 19 with Arms Control Today Editor Miles Pomper and Arms Control Association Research Director Wade Boese to discuss the U.S. approach to the upcoming meeting, which will take place May 2-27 in New York. Rademaker has served as the head of the Department of State'sArms Control Bureau since August 2002.

ACT: As you know, the seventh review conference of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) will take place in May. We understand informal discussions have failed to produce an agreement on a possible conference agenda, in part because of U.S. positions. What issues from the U.S. perspective are preventing an agenda from being completed?

Rademaker: We are confident that in the end there will be agreement on an agenda and that this will not prove to be an obstacle to a successful meeting. There was a disagreement at the Preparatory Committee[1] [PrepCom] last year about one element of the agenda. The question essentially revolved around how to refer to conclusions reached at the end of previous review conferences.[2] Since that time, a lot of thought has been given to the matter, and a number of creative suggestions have been made. I am not too worried that we will be able to reach agreement on an agenda by the time of the review conference.

ACT: Who will lead the U.S. delegation to the conference on a daily basis, and will Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice attend or speak?

Rademaker: Ambassador Jackie Sanders[3] will be the head of the U.S. delegation on a day-to-day basis. Who the titular head of the delegation will be is a matter that has yet to be decided.

ACT: What is the United States hoping to achieve at the conference, and what is your strategy for accomplishing those objectives?

Rademaker: The most important challenge facing the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty is the threat of noncompliance, which we have seen many instances of in recent years. These developments have to be truly alarming to anyone who cares about the nuclear nonproliferation regime. We have had North Korea announce its withdrawal from the treaty [in January 2003], resume nuclear weapons related work, and announce that it has produced nuclear weapons. We have a situation with Iran where the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has documented an 18-year history of deception and violation by Iran of its safeguards obligations,[4] all of which in our view is clear evidence that Iran has a covert nuclear weapons program. We think delegates to the review conference need to take a careful look at that situation. We also have the case of Libya, which was covertly pursuing a nuclear weapons program until evidence emerged of that program. Once [Libyan leader Moammar] Gaddafi was confronted with that evidence, he chose to renounce his nuclear ambitions. Still, Libya is another example of the compliance problem that we think needs to be the focus of attention.

Of course, underlying all three of these particular compliance issues was the Abdul Qadeer Khan network.[5] We learned in Libya of the existence of the Khan network and the fact that a covert operation was underway worldwide to supply countries, including NPT states-parties, contrary to their treaty obligations, interested in developing nuclear weapons. We think we have put the Khan network out of business, but we have to be concerned about the emergence of similar networks in the future.

These are the kinds of developments that have emerged since the last review conference in 2000, and we think the principal focus of attention at the upcoming review conference has to be these problems and what can be done to prevent them from undermining the foundations of the nuclear nonproliferation regime.

ACT: When you say these are the problems that need to be looked at, what are you asking other countries to do to address these compliance concerns?

Rademaker: We would like to see a consensus emerge that this is in fact a major challenge and that there is a shared interest among all treaty states-parties in remedying this problem. Once we can achieve agreement that this is a problem that needs to be remedied, then we can begin to talk about what those remedies might be. We do believe it would be important to try and reach agreement about the proper interpretation of Article IV of the treaty, which sets forth the right of non-nuclear-weapon states to peaceful nuclear cooperation. We think that it is clear from the text of Article IV that peaceful nuclear cooperation is an inalienable right for those parties that are in compliance with their nonproliferation obligations under the treaty. But for countries that are not in compliance, obviously their right to peaceful nuclear cooperation needs to be implemented in a manner consistent with the simultaneous requirement that they not be seeking nuclear weapons.

ACT: How do you convince other states to sign on to this consensus to bolster compliance?

Rademaker: Well, the review conference will go on for four weeks and will consist largely of speeches, meetings, dialogue, and lots of conversation. We have been active in the run-up to the review conference in explaining to other countries our views of what needs to be accomplished in New York, and we are going to continue throughout the course of the review conference to promote our views. This is the work of diplomacy.

ACT: Other countries are going to want more than just U.S. statements about this being the right thing to do. They will want the United States to pledge or take further actions. What is the United States willing to do to show that it is also complying with fulfilling its treaty obligations?

Rademaker: We are doing a lot to reinforce compliance with Articles II and III of the treaty.[6] For example, we were instrumental in helping create the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI).[7] PSI is a useful reinforcement to the nuclear nonproliferation provisions of the NPT. We also think UN Security Council Resolution 1540, which endorsed PSI and imposed additional obligations on all member states of the United Nations to take national measures to discourage proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, is an additional useful step.[8]

ACT: Just one aside if I could. Why did the United States advocate only having a two-year time frame on the 1540 committee?

Rademaker: I do not know.

ACT: My understanding was that other countries wanted a more permanent committee length, like the UN terrorism committee, but the United States suggested that it only be a two-year time frame for the 1540 committee.

Rademaker: I do know that we are taking this committee for a test drive, so to speak. There have been some difficulties in the implementation of [Resolution] 1540, so I do think that whatever our reasons were initially, it’s clear today that the two-year mark would probably be a good time to reassess how things have been working, revisit the question of how we want them to work, and go forward from there.[9]

ACT: As I am sure you know, the UN high-level panel that included Brent Scowcroft [President George H. W. Bush’s national security adviser] noted in its report [“ A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility”] that “lackluster disarmament by the nuclear-weapon states weakens the force of the nonproliferation regime and thus its ability to constrain proliferation.” The report further stated that the nuclear-weapon states have only a “mixed grade in fulfilling their disarmament commitments” and that past progress has been “overshadowed by recent reversals,” specifically citing the renouncement of the “13 practical steps.” What can the United States do to turn this tide of opinion at the NPT review conference?

Rademaker: I would disagree with the notion that the United States is in any way lacking in its compliance with its obligations under Article VI of the NPT or is in any way lacking in its commitment to fulfillment of Article VI. Certainly, I am aware that there are countries that register complaints, but in our view, those complaints are not well founded. The record of U.S. compliance with Article VI is unassailable. The obligations of Article VI are clearly stated within the NPT. It’s a one-sentence provision that in relevant parts says that all parties to the NPT, not just the nuclear-weapon states, are obligated to engage in good faith negotiations in the direction of nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament. Quite honestly, I do not think there is any country in the world that can point to a better record of compliance with those obligations than the United States.

Just three years ago, we signed with Russia and have since ratified the Moscow Treaty, which provides for a two-thirds r eduction in the number of strategic nuclear warheads that we deploy.[10] I simply do not know how a negotiated two-thirds r eduction in strategic nuclear warheads is not good faith negotiations by the United States on effective measures leading to nuclear disarmament. I simply do not understand how anyone can make that contention, and I think, people frankly will not make that contention. Instead, they will talk about other things that are a bit more removed from the actual obligations set forth in Article VI.

ACT: What do you mean by that? What issues do you think that they are going to raise?

Rademaker: What did the UN panel report?

ACT: Well, they talked about the renouncement of the 13 steps

Rademaker: I am not aware that we have renounced the 13 steps. We are prepared to talk about our record. But the 13 steps do not encapsulate the obligations of Article VI in the NPT. The obligations of Article VI are encapsulated in Article VI.

ACT: You are well aware that the 13 steps will be raised at the conference. How does the United States plan to address the matter when other countries raise it? Would the United States agree to a final document that refers to the 13 steps or elements of them?

Rademaker: I have not seen a proposed final document that either refers or does not refer to the 13 steps. We think the 13 steps reflect a statement of views that were relevant to the year 2000, when that statement was agreed to. A lot has changed since the year 2000, and we think it is time for the upcoming review conference to address the situation that exists in the year 2005. As I noted at the outset, the most important change since the last review conference is the emergence of this problem of noncompliance. Those of us who actually care about the future of the nuclear nonproliferation regime need to focus on the real problems of today, not a historical discussion of problems that were identified five years ago.

ACT: But is the United States concerned about the consequences that its position on the 13 steps might have in terms of other states’ views on their political commitments made at previous review conferences? One can cite the indefinite extension of the NPT in 1995 and the linkage of Article IV with Articles II and III in 2000. Are you concerned about the consequences for those political commitments by taking this view of the 13 steps as a historical commitment?

Rademaker: I am not sure that I would agree that the decision to extend the NPT was a political commitment. I think that, if you look to the text of the treaty, it was more than just a political decision. And, the linkage between Articles IV and II and III is a linkage that rests not on a political ground, it rests on the actual language of Article IV. There is explicit reference in Article IV to this linkage. We think that we can stand on our record, which we think is unassailable.

ACT: Still, even though the United States states that its record is unassailable, other countries are going to still raise questions and ask why can’t you do more. Are there steps the United States is willing to take to try and meet those concerns that other countries are going to raise? What steps could the United States take to satisfy the demands of other countries at the review conference to make them more willing to deal with the noncompliance issue?

Rademaker: The most important step we can take is to implement our obligations under Article VI, which we have done with the Moscow Treaty with its two-thirds r eduction in strategic nuclear warheads. It is a negotiated measure that will effectively lead in the direction of nuclear disarmament. It’s indisputable compliance by the United States with Article VI.

We have done additional things outside of negotiated processes that have been equally effective. With regard to nonstrategic nuclear weapons, we have fully implemented the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives,[11] dismantling more than 3,000 nonstrategic nuclear warheads. Last May, the president decided on an almost 50 percent r eduction in the U.S. nuclear stockpile to be implemented between now and the year 2012.

Taken as a whole, it is very hard to find fault with the U.S. record. None of the other countries at the upcoming review conference, if asked what they have done under Article VI—and I am speaking not just of the nuclear-weapon states but of the non-nuclear-weapon states that also have Article VI obligations—will be able to point to a record anywhere near as compelling as the United States can point to.

ACT: You are basically saying that the U.S. record cannot be challenged.

Rademaker: Yes. There will be criticisms. Countries will accuse us of not doing as much as they would like us to do. But these are ill-founded criticisms. These are not countries that will be able to answer very effectively what they have done to implement their obligations under Article VI.

ACT: In terms of the Article VI commitments and the Moscow Treaty, one criticism that is likely to be raised is that the r eductions are not irreversible or transparent. In addition, the United States has not been that active over the past year in making r eductions. For instance, the U.S. arsenal has apparently been r educed by two warheads in the past year under START[12] counting rules. What can the United States do to address the concerns that it is not doing enough to r educe its nuclear arsenal?

Rademaker: These additional criteria [irreversibility and transparency] are not specific criteria you will find outlined in Article VI. But we do think that there is tremendous transparency about the r eductions we have made. They are all a matter of public record. They are subject to verification under the START inspection regime. You have not heard any complaints by the Russian Federation that we are failing to provide transparency under that regime with regard to the Moscow Treaty r eductions. The point about START counting rules are just sophistry because START counting rules impute levels to delivery systems. They have nothing to do with the actual levels of warheads deployed on delivery systems. The Moscow Treaty refers to actual levels, not counting rules. And, with regard to irreversibility, I find it truly remarkable that anybody is going to come to the upcoming review conference expressing concern that in the year 2012 that, after we implement a two-thirds r eduction in our level of strategic nuclear warheads, we are going to somehow want to reverse course and build up. That is a purely hypothetical or conjectural concern.

Meanwhile, North Korea is building up and proudly declaring that it has become a nuclear-weapon state. Iran is clearly moving in that direction. Those are problems that exist today. Rather than focusing on hypothetical problems that some fear may emerge in seven years, we think it’s of much greater relevance to focus on the problems that we know exist today.

ACT: At the Conference on Disarmament, Dutch Ambassador Chris Sanders recently noted, “Effective multilateral presupposes a genuine attitude to take each other’s proposals seriously.” What proposals from other countries are the United States considering seriously?

Rademaker: I think that the French and the Germans have made some very interesting proposals about Article X of the NPT, which is the withdrawal provision. I think that we will come with an open mind to those proposals. We look forward to the proposals that other governments have to make about the problem of noncompliance. IAEA Director-General [Mohamed] ElBaradei has made some proposals about the nuclear fuel cycle that we have not embraced in the exact form that he has put forward, but we think that he has correctly identified a major problem facing the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and the nuclear nonproliferation regime. We look forward to working with him and others who have an interest in trying to develop solutions to the concern about the spread of [uranium-] enrichment and [plutonium] reprocessing technologies.[13]

ACT: The United States has put forward its own proposals about the fuel cycle with regard to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).[14] Do you see the NPT review conference as a forum to build support for those proposals, and do you see the NPT review conference as the forum from which you want to do more on the fuel cycle?

Rademaker: The president’s February 11 proposals of last year were to work with the Nuclear Suppliers Group. The NPT review conference bears no direct relationship to the Nuclear Suppliers Group, so it is not a forum where we will seek to achieve some decision to foster the president’s NSG proposals. That said, we do think that the review conference is an occasion to talk about the threats and challenges to the nuclear nonproliferation regime. Since the spread of enrichment and reprocessing capability is a challenge and Director-General ElBaradei has been very outspoken in trying to draw attention to it as a challenge, we think the upcoming review conference is an opportunity to continue the international conversation about this particular problem.

ACT: Reportedly, the five nuclear-weapon states are not going to issue a common statement or position prior to the conference as they have in the past. Why not?

Rademaker: It is my understanding that in the past the statement has not always been issued prior to the conference. There have been some times it has been issued during the conference. With that being the case, I am not sure your statement will prove correct.

ACT: So, there is an effort to craft a common statement?

Rademaker: It’s something that is under consideration.

ACT: We have talked about noncompliance and Article VI. What other difficult issues do you anticipate might arise at the review conference, and how will the United States try to resolve them so they do not negatively impact the conference outcome?

Rademaker: We are hoping for a successful conference, so I do not want to speculate about additional problems. We are working in a constructive matter with [Review Conference President and Brazilian Ambassador] Sergio Duarte to overcome the problems that emerged at the end of PrepCom last year. As I have said, we are hopeful that an agreement will be reached on an agenda. We think that there inevitably will be a discussion of this problem of noncompliance. We think the evidence of noncompliance is so overwhelming and the threat that it poses to the nonproliferation regime so manifest that most countries will want to talk about this at the review conference. We are not anticipating profound disagreements. I will be surprised if many countries come to the review conference championing the decision of North Korea to withdraw from the treaty.

ACT: Speaking of North Korea, are you looking for specific language at the review conference for dealing with the North Korean question?

Rademaker: I would be surprised if there is a desire at the review conference to deal with the decision by North Korea to withdraw. On the other hand, I would be surprised if there was not a strong desire to speak to the problem that other countries may decide to follow suit. In other words, I would expect North Korea’s withdrawal to be addressed in a more generic manner as potentially part of a systemic problem. The way it is likely to be viewed in New York is from the perspective of, what can we do to discourage other countries from withdrawing from the treaty pursuant to Article X? That is the general thrust of the French and German proposals. There should be widespread consensus at the upcoming review conference that withdrawal from the NPT is a bad idea and it’s something to be discouraged.

ACT: You said that you are hoping for a successful outcome to the conference. What would you consider a successful outcome?

Rademaker: A renewed commitment by all states-parties to the importance of the NPT. A general consensus that noncompliance with the NPT poses a threat to the regime and it’s something that needs to be taken very seriously and addressed. Effective action needs to be taken in cases of noncompliance, both to reverse the noncompliance that we know about and to discourage others from contemplating noncompliance.

ACT: Could the review conference be considered a success without a final document?

Rademaker: Absolutely. Three of the six review conferences concluded without final documents. I am not aware that there is a widespread belief that 50 percent of the review conferences have been failures. There is ample precedent for having a successful conference that does not result in a final document. We will work toward achieving agreement on a final document, but it is important to bear in mind that this is a collection of almost 190 countries that will act on the basis of consensus. Any one country at this conference will be in a position to block agreement on a final document. Should that happen, it would not necessarily follow that the conference as a whole was a failure.

ACT: How important is it for the administration that the review conference be viewed as a success?

Rademaker: We see the review conference as an opportunity because the problem of nuclear proliferation is viewed by this administration as, if not the top threat to our national security, one of the top threats to our national security. This review conference is an important opportunity to build international will to combat that problem.

ACT: On the flip side, what would you consider a failed outcome to the conference?

Rademaker: The conference would be a failure if it chose to dwell on the past rather than the present and the future, for instance, if, in the discussion on the problem of noncompliance, the review conference spent disproportionate time focusing on Article VI, where as illustrated by the Moscow Treaty all the movement is in a positive direction, rather than on Articles II and III, where all the movement is in a negative direction.

ACT: We touched on this a little bit, but are there additional measures or steps that the United States is willing to take to avoid this kind of outcome? Obviously, there is diplomacy, but in terms of strategy, how do you avoid that kind of failed outcome?

Rademaker: I take it that you are inviting me to announce today that the Bush administration has reconsidered its position on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty or the [Anti-Ballistic Missile] Treaty?

ACT: Well, beyond specific policy steps, is there a diplomatic strategy that might be more likely to be successful?

Rademaker: We are not approaching this review conference from the cynical perspective of, we are going to toss a few crumbs to the rest of the world and by doing that try to buy goodwill or bribe countries into agreeing to the agenda that we think they should focus on rather than some other agenda. We will stand on our record. We are proud to stand on our record. We do not think that we need to make apologies for our record. An objective analysis of our record will lead to a very brief discussion of Article VI, which can be a small sidelight to the much larger and more important discussion that needs to be had about the noncompliance problems we have under Articles II and III.

ACT: Thank you.

1. Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meetings are two-week conferences of NPT states-parties that take place during each of the three years preceding an NPT Review Conference. They are used by the NPT states-parties to prepare for the review conferences. See Wade Boese, “NPT Meeting Marked by Discord,” Arms Control Today, June 2004, pp. 28-29.

2. At the heart of the dispute to which Rademaker is referring was U.S. opposition to acknowledging the “13 practical steps” agreed to at the end of the 2000 NPT Review Conference. The 13 steps called for a series of actions toward nuclear disarmament, such as bringing the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) into force and strengthening the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. The Bush administration opposes the CTBT and withdrew the United States from the ABM Treaty in June 2002.

3. Ambassador Jackie Sanders serves as U.S. representative to the 65-member UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and as special representative of the president for the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.

4. Safeguards are mechanisms, such as inspections, seals, and remote monitoring, used by the IAEA to verify that countries are not illicitly diverting nuclear materials and technologies intended for peaceful purposes to build nuclear weapons.

5. Abdul Qadeer Khan is the “father” of the Pakistani nuclear weapons program and ran a proliferation ring that spanned a number of countries and provided nuclear expertise and technologies to Iran, Libya, North Korea, and possibly others. Khan publicly confessed February 4, 2004, to his proliferation activities on Pakistani television.

6. Article II of the NPT obligates non-nuclear-weapon states not to seek, acquire, manufacture, or receive nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices or control over them. Article III requires all non-nuclear-weapon states to subject their nuclear technologies and facilities for peaceful purposes to international verification to ensure that they are not diverting materials toward developing nuclear weapons.

7. President George W. Bush announced May 31, 2003, the creation of the PSI. The voluntary initiative calls on participating countries to use existing national and international authorities to intercept shipments of biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons, as well as related materials and delivery vehicles, at sea, on land, and in the air.

8. Passed unanimously April 28, 2004, by the UN Security Council, Resolution 1540 requires all states to institute “appropriate” and “effective” measures to deny terrorists and other nonstate actors biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons, as well as related materials and delivery vehicles. Resolution 1540 does not explicitly refer to PSI, and China succeeded in removing the word “interdiction” from the resolution. Nevertheless, U.S. officials assert that Resolution 1540 and PSI are complementary, citing paragraph 10 of the resolution, which “calls upon all [s]tates, in accordance with their national legal authorities and legislation and consistent with international law, to take cooperative action to prevent illicit trafficking in nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, their means of delivery, and related materials.”

9. The committee took several months to hire experts to help evaluate national reports on activities to comply with the resolution. That review process just started in March. See Wade Boese, “Slow Start for UN WMD Committee,” Arms Control Today, April 2005, p. 41.

10. Signed by Presidents Bush and Vladimir Putin on May 24, 2002, the Moscow Treaty is formally titled the Strategic Offensive R eductions Treaty (SORT). The agreement commits the United States and Russia to r educe their operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads to less than 2,200 apiece by December 31, 2012.

11. The Presidential Nuclear Initiatives were voluntary pledges made by President George H. W. Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in the fall of 1991 to eliminate certain types of tactical, or “battlefield,” nuclear weapons.

12. Signed on July 31, 1991, by Presidents George H. W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev, the Strategic Arms R eductions Treaty (START) committed Washington and Moscow to r educe their “accountable” strategic warheads down to 6,000 apiece by December 5, 2001. The two sides established specific criteria for what was “accountable,” so figures for START “accountable” warheads do not necessarily reflect weapons operationally deployed.

13. Uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing can be used in making fuel for civilian power reactors and producing nuclear weapons.

14. Established in 1975, the NSG is comprised of 44 nuclear supplier states, including China, Russia, and the United States, that have voluntarily agreed to coordinate their export controls governing transfers of civilian nuclear material and nuclear-related equipment and technology to non-nuclear-weapon states.

Interviewed by Wade Boese and Miles Pomper

Interview With Brazilian Ambassador and NPT Review Conference President Sérgio de Queiroz Duarte



The nearly 190 states-parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) will gather next May for four weeks to take stock of the landmark accord that lies at the heart of the global nuclear nonproliferation regime. The diplomat charged with leading this important meeting is Brazilian Ambassador Sérgio de Queiroz Duarte, who spoke Nov. 4 with Arms Control Today Editor Miles A. Pomper and Arms Control Association Research Director Wade Boese about the challenges facing the treaty and his responsibilities as president of next year's NPT Review Conference.

ACT: What are your objectives as president of the forthcoming nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in May, and what would be an ideal outcome of the Review Conference?

Duarte: The president has no objectives besides ensuring that the discussions take place in the best possible mood and the results, as much as possible, are consensual and reflect the will of the parties. The parties may have objectives, but I do not, besides having the conference agree on something that will be useful, forward looking, and advance the aims of the treaty. This is the only objective that I can have as president.

ACT: Are you speaking of getting a consensus document as was done at the last Review Conference?

Duarte: There have been six [Review] Conferences. Three of them had final documents, but three of them did not. Some parties are saying, "Well, if we don't achieve a final document this time, it will not be something that did not happen before. It may not be such a disaster."

I do not look so much at the form as the result. The results should be recorded. There should be a trace of what the results are, even if we do not have agreement. We may have a hybrid document, something more succinct than the previous final documents. We may even have some decisions or recommendations. It's pretty much up in the air what the results and the format of those results could be. I have been asking parties what they think the format should be. I will continue to ask that question and hope that whatever answers I get will guide me.

ACT: It sounds like you are getting answers all over the place about whether there will be a final document.

Duarte: It's still early, but I am putting that question to the parties. I am receiving answers and will continue to receive answers until the end of the conference.

ACT: Whom have you consulted?

Duarte: I started at the end of August. I have visited the capitals of the five nuclear countries.1 I have also gone to Geneva, Vienna, and New York. I held many bilateral consultations with many of the parties. I will continue to do that next year. I will travel again, not only to the five, but also to the capitals of other players in the Nonaligned Movement2 and other parts of the world. By the time of the conference, I hope to have consulted with the majority of the parties individually or in groups. It's very hard to consult individually with some 180 parties.3

ACT: Are you making progress toward having an agenda prior to the start of the conference?

Duarte: So far, I do not know. What I am telling parties is that it would be very, very difficult to start the conference without an agenda. The responses that I am getting are usually agreeing with that view. I hope that the parties realize the agenda is only a tool, a commencement, an instrument. You are not going to solve substantive differences in the agenda. I hope the parties help me between now and the start of the conference in putting together an agenda.

ACT: Are there some countries suggesting that an agenda is not that important to have before the conference begins?

Duarte: No. Everyone realizes the importance of the agenda. That is why it gets a little tinted with the substance.

ACT: What are the consequences if the conference begins without an agenda?

Duarte: The mood will be bad. The sentiment that things are not starting on the right note will be present. It will also be more difficult for me to organize a program of work without an agenda. The procedural steps that should be as smooth as possible at the start will probably be difficult to take. So, I hope that, by the time we meet, we have an agenda.

ACT: Is there some deadline for the agenda? Presumably you would have to circulate a draft agenda before other governments sign off on it.

Duarte: A draft agenda exists already. It was presented at the third Preparatory Committee (PrepCom).4 The provisional agenda is the 2000 [Review Conference] agenda brought up to date. This is the document that exists. The only problem [at the latest PrepCom] was with point 16, which is basically how to review the treaty. Some parties wanted to take into account what happened in 1995; others wanted both 1995 and 2000; and others wanted events between 2000 and now. This could not be agreed upon at the last day of the PrepCom. So, this is the material that we have to work on.

ACT: As you know, the NPT is comprised of three main elements: preventing the spread of nuclear weapons to additional countries, providing countries the "right" to peaceful uses of nuclear technology, and a commitment by all countries to work toward disarmament. Are all of these elements equal in importance? Should one be given more weight than others? And how interdependent are they?

Duarte: They are very much interdependent. The treaty was conceived in a way in which these elements were meant to be interdependent. Many of the parties start from the view that they are interdependent. Some parties place more emphasis on some of these elements rather than on others and therein lies part of the disagreements that we have. To have a successful conference, the result will have to be balanced between these elements. It is obvious that they are different in nature. The way in which you implement those obligations, the pace at which you fulfill obligations in the three elements is different. We have to be careful to understand these differences in what we wish the parties to do. But I do not think that we can be selective or give exclusive weight to one of the elements to the detriment of the others.

ACT: Some commentators and states-parties are arguing that the NPT and the nuclear nonproliferation regime are under greater duress today than in many years past. What would you judge is the most significant challenge or threat facing the NPT today, and do you agree that this is a time of greater duress than in times past?

Duarte: I have been involved with these matters for a large part of my professional life. I attended a number of Review Conferences even before Brazil became a member [to the treaty].5 I was at the 18-nation Disarmament Committee when the treaty was presented.6 So, I have seen this treaty off and on in my professional life several times. There have been other moments of duress and difficulty for the treaty.

Perhaps the emergence of the possibility of nuclear terrorism has added an element of more strain to the situation. It is not something that the treaty is specifically addressed to, but it has bearing on the things that the treaty is supposed to control. In that sense, there is more drama involved in the present situation.

You have instances of noncompliance or at least accusations of noncompliance.7 You have one party [North Korea] that withdrew from the treaty, which is something that never happened before. You have a sentiment that the nuclear-weapon powers have been less than forthcoming in the fulfillment of their own commitments.8 I am not saying that this did not happen, but that there is this sentiment on the part of several parties. Then again, on the part of the main powers, there is the sentiment that their efforts have not been correctly understood. So, all of these things add to the difficulties and emotions involved in the treaty. It's very hard to weigh this situation against similar situations in the past. It's complicated enough this time.

ACT: You mentioned accusations of noncompliance. Is it likely that the Review Conference might debate new or innovative enforcement measures or mechanisms to encourage treaty compliance or deter or punish treaty withdrawals?

Duarte: I am sure there will be suggestions or proposals to that effect. You asked me before what are the main difficulties. Perhaps the main difficulty that we will face is how to balance a perceived need for greater controls or more effective instruments of safeguards and controls with treaty provisions that ensure the right to peaceful applications of nuclear technology. How to promote the use of nuclear technology and at the same time how to constrain that use-it's a difficult conundrum that we must address and somehow solve.

ACT: If the Review Conference does not solve that problem, what is the timeline within which it must be solved? Is there a date by which things spiral too far out of control?

Duarte: I trust that most of the parties to the NPT are responsible and serious in their commitments and in the way they develop their programs. But if we do not have action on certain parts of the treaty, then we probably will not have action on other parts. Eventually, the situation may be one in which the treaty ceases to be seen as effective in all its aspects by different groups of parties. So, there is this danger of the unraveling of the whole system. But I do not think anyone could put a time frame on that.

ACT: Do you think the treaty is still effective today?

Duarte: I think it is. You have over 36 years of the treaty's existence. Three countries have not acceded.9 So, instead of the original five [nuclear-weapon states] that the treaty recognizes, you have three additional de facto [nuclear-weapon states], but no more than three. You also have one country that has withdrawn and another that is suspected of breaches, and then you have some 180 countries that have fulfilled and abided by their obligations. Statistically, at least, the treaty has been fairly successful and deserves more credit.

ACT: How would you respond to those who argue that there has been a spate or plague of noncompliance recently, involving not only North Korea and Iran but also Libya and Iraq?

Duarte: Well, both the Libyan and the Iraqi situations have been resolved by different means rather than by the treaty, so I do not think those situations have to be seen in the light of the treaty.

ACT: Brazil is a member of the New Agenda Coalition,10 which contends there has not been meaningful action by the nuclear-weapon states toward fulfilling their disarmament obligations under Article VI. How can the nuclear-weapon states live up to these commitments, and how important is it that they are perceived as doing so?

Duarte: It is very important that they are perceived to be living up to their commitments. I think it's a question of confidence, a question of transparency and of improving the climate of mistrust that exists [between the nuclear-weapon states and the non-nuclear-weapon states]. If the measures the nuclear-weapon parties took for nuclear disarmament were perhaps better understood by the remainder of the countries and were accompanied by very clear gestures of a continued commitment to arrive at that end-a reaffirmation which could be done at the Review Conference-it would help a lot to allay some of the mistrust that exists. It is something that each of the nuclear-weapon states-parties must do on its own. I do not have any reason to doubt the seriousness of any of the parties, nuclear or non-nuclear. If they are seriously committed to some steps, they should continue to be committed and fulfill their obligations, but they must do it in a way that will convince the rest of the parties that they are really complying. It is a difficult thing to do.

ACT: How can the nuclear-weapon states do that in a convincing way to the other states-parties?

Duarte: By being as transparent as possible. Transparency is difficult because it involves many responsibilities that a state has regarding its own security, but a little more transparency would go a long way to increase confidence.

ACT: Are you talking in terms of reports or perhaps maybe opening up their stockpiles to inspections?

Duarte: That would be difficult to ask of them. We have to understand that it's not easy to ask that because it involves security. Lately, they have shown and tried to report more. In the past two years or so, they started reporting and telling the steps they have taken. They should continue to do so and present as many details of not only what they did, but what they intend to do in the future regarding disarmament. It would be very helpful if they did that.

ACT: Should there be a regular reporting requirement as part of the review process?

Duarte: That would be useful. It's not easy to agree on the elements of that reporting, but it would be useful.

ACT: Several countries spoke out strongly at the last PrepCom that any exploration of new nuclear weapons by the nuclear-weapon states violates the spirit of the NPT and is at odds with the 13 steps on disarmament.11 The treaty contains no prohibition against the research or development of new nuclear weapons by the nuclear-weapon states, and in fact they built thousands of additional nuclear weapons following the NPT's conclusion in 1968. Why should the nuclear-weapon states refrain now from any research or development into new nuclear weapons when most of their arsenals are steadily decreasing?

Duarte: Research is one thing, but production is another. The fact that there is research adds to a climate of less-than-complete confidence among the parties. It would be useful if the nuclear-weapon states refrained from doing anything that would be perceived as continued reliance on nuclear weapons. Then again, [research] is not prohibited by the treaty, so we cannot say they are violating the treaty. One can argue that it may be against the spirit of the treaty, but it's very hard to pinpoint a specific violation.

ACT: At the last PrepCom, the United States contended that the 13 steps were essentially past commitments that were no longer relevant. Yet, most NPT states-parties appear to believe otherwise. Can these two positions be reconciled?

Duarte: I hope they can. What the United States said exactly was that it no longer supported some of the 13 steps. We know from their actions, for instance, that they no longer support the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). I do not know what else they no longer support. Words are very important in this business. You can not support something and still not be in violation of something.

The CTBT continues to exist as such. It has not entered into force, but parties to the treaty continue to do their best to see to it that [the CTBT] will enter into force as soon as possible. Regardless of the fact that the United States-there are others, of course-does not seem willing to ratify it at this time, this should not be seen with too much despondency. It took a long time for the CTBT to exist. We should continue working on [bringing it into force]. It's not something that we should look at as if no chance exists for further progress. We must keep the treaty alive, waiting for the exact moment.

ACT: It is one thing to not signal support for ratification of the CTBT, but it's another for a possible resumption of nuclear testing, which is something that has been talked about. What impact would a nuclear test have on the nonproliferation regime?

Duarte: If any of the nuclear-weapon countries, which have all been observing a voluntary testing moratorium, resumes testing, it would be a very hard blow to the whole system of nonproliferation, as much as if any non-nuclear-weapon country would be shown to be developing nuclear weapons. Although the nuclear-weapon countries are not bound by any obligation not to test, the blow would be the same.

ACT: One of the other 13 steps was negotiation of a verifiable fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT).12 There was discussion this past summer about resuming such negotiations after a long delay in the Conference on Disarmament. How big of a boost might the convening of those negotiations give the Review Conference?

Duarte: It would give a boost. At the UN First Committee today, a resolution was put forward asking for the establishment of a negotiating mandate for such a treaty with certain characteristics, including verification and irreversibility. But one important nuclear-weapon power [the United States] voted against it. There were 174 votes in favor and two abstentions (see page XX).

ACT: What is the sense among the other NPT states-parties about an FMCT without a verification regime because that is clearly what the United States is espousing?

Duarte: During the 1970s and 1980s, verification was very much a tool that was said to be indispensable to any arms control or disarmament treaty. But suddenly, it seems that it is no longer feasible. The discussion of [verification] has been put on a tactical vein.

I do not know anything about fissile material. I am not a physicist. I do not know whether [a treaty without a verification regime] is feasible. But if you have a treaty of importance on arms control and disarmament that contains no verification provisions, many would perhaps see it as a very weak instrument. Some contend that it would be useful to have even if you do not have verification provisions. The Biological Weapons Convention, for instance, has no verification provisions.13 It has existed for decades without verification provisions.

ACT: How might the NPT state-parties better involve India, Israel, and Pakistan in adhering to global nuclear nonproliferation standards established by the NPT and other agreements?

Duarte: There is deep division in the NPT membership on that. There are those who would wish to have some sort of association of those countries to the NPT that would recognize them somehow as having nuclear [weapons]. You cannot bring them into the treaty unless you amend it. To amend the treaty would raise many other difficulties. I do not think any of the parties is prepared to open the treaty to amendment for the purpose of bringing in those three countries because then you open it to other amendments and the treaty could then be in very grave danger. I do not know of any proposal by governments aimed at bringing those countries into the treaty. If there would be any such proposal at the Review Conference, then the conference will have to examine it. Some countries say that the three should adhere to the treaty as non-nuclear-weapon countries. They, of course, reject that. So, we are at an impasse on that question.

ACT: Does their continued existence outside the treaty have a negative pull on the treaty, or is that something that is more accepted by the states-parties today?

Duarte: Facts are facts. But the fact that nuclear-weapon countries exist-be they parties or nonparties to the treaty-is in itself a matter of concern for the rest of the world.

ACT: Terrorism and the exposure of the A. Q. Khan network14 reveal the great dangers posed to the nonproliferation treaty by nonstate actors. Is the NPT structured sufficiently to guard against this threat? Does the treaty need to be amended or altered in some way to better address the problem of nonstate actors?

Duarte: The treaty addresses states. It does not address any other entities. You do not have to amend the treaty because of the threat that nuclear weapons might get into the wrong hands. There are some structures for that. There is the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) for the purveyance of materials.15 There are some arrangements of a smaller membership to prevent the easier circulation of materials. There are also several things that are in the making because it's a new situation. The international community takes some time to put together its instruments in the face of such a grave possibility. But the treaty is not the main instrument to deal with that question. By improving the system of safeguards, you can reduce the possibility that fissile material may find its way outside the control of the individual states-parties to the treaty. But there must be complementary mechanisms to deal with that. The treaty cannot be seen as the main instrument in the fight against nuclear terrorism. It is certainly something that helps. Other instruments that are multilateral, nondiscriminatory, and agreeable to the whole international community must be found rather than ad hoc solutions.

ACT: Speaking to the issue of export controls, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei has spoken of the need to formalize the export control regime because now there are only political or voluntary commitments by a small group of states. Is there some way that the NPT might put in place a more formalized structure of export controls?

Duarte: You have the NSG for that, and it is a formal structure. You could formalize it further. But again, I do not think that the NPT should be the main instrument to deal with [export controls].

ACT: You mentioned earlier that the toughest challenge you will face is the question of reconciling peaceful uses of nuclear technology with ensuring that nuclear materials are not diverted for weapons purposes. There are a growing number of proposals that are meant to limit national possession of enrichment and reprocessing capabilities, and ElBaradei has convened an experts group on the subject. Is there any emerging consensus around a specific proposal for restricting these types of nuclear technologies or capabilities?

Duarte: I am not familiar enough with the experts group dealings to know whether there is an emerging consensus.

ACT: But more broadly, as you look forward to the Review Conference, is this issue dependent on what happens in the experts group or is there any discussion beyond that?

Duarte: I simply do not know. There is a concern from several countries that this issue is urgent and should be examined and that effective solutions and measures be taken. The outcome of the current discussion must be nondiscriminatory, and it must be agreeable to all international membership. The difficulty again is how to conciliate that. How do you restrict because you feel a clear threat and at the same time how do you uphold what many see as their legitimate right to a certain technology to improve their condition in terms of development?

ACT: Would requiring that certain technologies be under multilateral control be perhaps one nondiscriminatory approach to dealing with this problem?

Duarte: The question there is whether that control will really be nondiscriminatory. It [depends on] the modalities in which you exercise that control. It is interesting that only when developing countries start to master certain technologies that such technologies suddenly seem to be very dangerous and very necessary to be curbed. There are certainly many other countries in the world that possess this technology, and it did not seem to be such a danger.

ACT: It is widely expected that discussions about the Middle East will dominate a significant amount of time at the Review Conference. How do you expect the states-parties to address this issue, and what might be some possible substantive measures that can be agreed to regarding this topic, such as the possibility for a Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone?

Duarte: It has always been an important part of Review Conference deliberations. The next one will be no exception. It has always been a tough question, and it will not be different this time. The nuclear-weapon-free-zone issue will not be solved at the Review Conference. If all the parties involved have an attitude of avoiding too much confrontation and hostility in the deliberations, we may have a chance to preserve what has been achieved and hopefully to progress a little bit. But it is a difficult question, and we have to understand the difficulties that lie in the past. I am not overanxious about achieving final results at the Review Conference because whatever happens is a consequence of other things that the conference cannot control or change.

ACT: Is it possible for the Review Conference to even adequately deal with the Middle East since Israel is obviously not part of those deliberations? How do you account for that?

Duarte: Israel can always come in and become a party to the NPT. It is not barred from coming in. It would be very useful if Israel came in.

ACT: What is North Korea's NPT status, and how might states-parties address this unique situation at the Review Conference?

Duarte: Well, they have addressed [North Korea's] status at previous PrepComs by using a procedural device meant to give a chance to the consultations that are taking place outside of the NPT.16 It was agreed that the best course would be to let the six parties17 continue to talk without taking a stance on the substance of the matter in the NPT. There have been a couple of things that have happened recently that have stalled the six-party talks. The hope is that they will resume soon. If the six parties continue to hold their consultations, it's possible that the Review Conference will once again resort to the same procedural device in order to give the six-party talks a better chance of succeeding. But we do not know what will happen between now and May, so it's only a hypothesis. Parties will have to think about what they want to do.

ACT: A book titled The Nuclear Tipping Point was recently published. The thesis is that, if an additional country were to get nuclear weapons, other countries might rush to get them. Do you think North Korea poses that threat? If it were to declare itself a nuclear-weapon state or show or demonstrate that it has such weapons, would that compel others to move out of the treaty?

Duarte: It certainly is one possibility that might happen. It is very hard to reason with hypotheses; what would others do if such-and-such a thing would happen? The whole effort has been to prevent that situation from arising. The countries in that region that would feel affected by North Korea becoming a real nuclear-weapon power have so far shown admirable restraint and responsibility. All we can say is that the rest of the international community expects that non-nuclear countries will not resort to becoming nuclear because of security considerations, prestige, or whatever, but also that other countries will react in a constructive way to prevent that from happening. But you can only have this with a sentiment of enhanced regional security and responsible country behavior. In the NPT, at least, the immense majority of countries have behaved responsibly, so we have every reason to believe that they will continue to do so.

ACT: Brazil is currently engaged in a public dispute with the IAEA about how much access it should provide IAEA inspectors to its nuclear facilities. Why is Brazil refusing to provide the requested access?

Duarte: First of all, Brazil is not engaged in a dispute. Brazil is negotiating with the IAEA on the application of safeguards18 to a facility that was declared several years ago when Brazil started to build it. It has always been an open and transparent question. The fact that newspapers make dramas about it does not make it dramatic in itself. We have every reason to believe that we will achieve a satisfactory solution. It's not a dispute. It's not a refusal, despite the terms that have been used several times by newspapers. I do not know which interests have fueled those press reports, but the negotiations are continuing in a normal way. If you have a new facility to which safeguards have to be applied, because Brazil abides by the treaties it has signed, you have to discuss with the IAEA the modalities of the safeguards. I am convinced that we will arrive at a solution that will satisfy both parties.

ACT: So, the suggestion that Brazil is trying to prevent inspectors from seeing certain aspects of the facility is not an accurate description?

Duarte: Again, I am not a physicist. The technicians in Brazil say that the technology of the centrifuge is a novel and proprietary technology. It is something they have developed, and they do not want it to be copied. The only thing that I see in the situation objectively is the need to preserve an industrial secret without refusing to have the facility inspected in a way that will completely satisfy the IAEA and the international community as to the objectives of the enrichment. It's a certain grade for Brazil's reactors and not for any other purpose. So, it's a question of protecting the industrial technology and at the same time giving satisfaction as to the complete, peaceful use of the facility.

ACT: There have been suggestions by some American analysts that it's not simply proprietary technology, but technology that may have been used by the Khan network. Is there any basis to those accusations?

Duarte: I do not know. I am not a physicist. I do not know anything about the technology. I only know that it turns and that by turning it transforms something into something else. The important thing is to know for sure that this something else is used for the proper objectives.

ACT: How might this issue complicate your efforts as president of the Review Conference?

Duarte: I do not think the issue complicates it. It's one instance in which you have that basic question: What are the limits of the right to develop and use this technology, and what are the limits of intrusion to ascertain that the right is being used in a way that is compatible with the treaty? It's a difficult thing to solve.

Again, it's interesting that only when a developing country comes up with a technology there is drama. When you have thousands and thousands of nuclear weapons and countries that say they rely on such weapons for their defense, it does not seem so dramatic. But when a developing country tries to make a system that will, in some way, improve its position in the market for fuel, then it becomes a danger for humanity.

ACT: Is there anything that we did not touch on that you would like to add about your forthcoming presidency?

Duarte: Not specifically. As president, I hope that all the parties to the treaty come to the conference with a spirit of compromise to deal with the real questions that are troubling the parties, especially the questions that have to do with improving the mechanisms to prevent proliferation and making progress toward nuclear disarmament, which are two of the basic objectives of the treaty. If the result of the conference is balanced between those two considerations, I think we could claim success.

ACT: Would it be a failure if a balanced product was not reached?

Duarte: I do not know if it would be a failure. It would be a pity and a missed opportunity.

Interviewed by Miles A. Pomper and Wade Boese

Interview with Hans Blix



On June 19, 2004, ACT Editor Miles Pomper, Nonproliferation Research Analyst Paul Kerr, and ACA Executive Director Daryl Kimball sat down to speak with Hans Blix, former director-general of the IAEA.

ACT: Can you tell us about the new Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Commission that you’re heading[1]? What are its objectives, its elements, its status?

Blix: The Swedish government gave me a free hand in putting the commission together, and said they will finance it, giving about $2 million, and asking for a report before the end of 2005. We’re going to commission 15 members, geographically spread, as they should be, [including]: [William] Perry from the U.S., and we have Gareth Evans, and we have one Chinese general [Pan Zhenqiang], and we have another Indian general [Vasantha Raghavan] and then we have some people you know well: Patricia Lewis, she is Irish-British, and Alyson Bailes who is the head of SIPRI.com, and Mr. [Marcos] de Azambuja, from Brazil, Prince El Hassan [bin Talal] from Jordan, and from Russia we have [Alexei] Arbatov, Jr. So it’s a good spread, and very competent….We had one meeting in Stockholm at the end of January. That was the inaugural meeting. We outlined then what kind of studies we want to have made before we proceed. A number of them have come in already and will be before the members, early this month. We have the next meeting in Vienna at the end of June, and that will be focusing on nuclear questions. The third meeting this year will be in Vancouver in November. So with a lot of studies and basic material, I think we will be able to go through a nuclear agenda. I have listed a number of items that I think would be desirable to discuss. I’m not stating what the view should be, that would be presumptuous with so many competent people on board. Then we will go on, of course, with the other weapons of mass destruction—chemical, biological, and missile. I am confident that we will come out with some separate memoranda, and if we agree on that even before, it doesn’t have to be all at the end, but it can also be something in between.

ACT: What do you hope to accomplish with this commission?

Blix: It’s an interesting fact that we have the NPT [nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty] Review Conference at the end of next spring, and the presidential election here in the middle of it all. I’m not sure that will affect our views, what’s to be desirable, but it might affect what could be doable, because it seems to me that there is a difference between what Mr. [presumptive Democratic presidential nominee John] Kerry is saying here, and what the administration has said so far. I have understood Mr. Kerry to say that he would not go along with further work on a new nuclear weapon, and that he would favor an FMCT [Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty][2]. I didn’t hear him say anything about the CTBT [Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty][3], but at least on the two first points I’ve read as to what he said, and I haven’t heard similar sounds coming out of the Bush administration so far.

One of my strong feelings is that we would need to get back to a dynamic work on the disarmament agenda. We have seen lot of suggestions and a lot of new things in the past year, and I welcome much of that—the PSI [Proliferation Security Initiative][4], the discussion about the fuel cycle, etcetera, using NSG {Nuclear Suppliers Group][5]. I have no problems with most of these things, but I think that we need to get back to the bigger issues of the [fissile] cut-off and the Comprehensive Test Ban. I find it politically puzzling that we have not been moving on this agenda. We were celebrating, or we were all seeing and recollecting the Reagan era, and Mr. Gorbachev was here in Washington, and recalled the ambitions that they had - to do away with nuclear weapons. I was at the opening of the Cold War and indeed the end of the Cold War was the greatest thing that has happened for disarmament. Tensions drive armament, and the de-tension, détente, helps to promote disarmament. And it did. Indeed, much has happened. You see the dismantling of weapons, and it’s nice that the problem is rather how to do away with plutonium [more] than anything else.

However, there still remains this fact that this disarmament process has stalled in Geneva for a number of years. There are to my knowledge, no big territorial or ideological issues at stake between great powers and continents or blocs, if there are any blocs any longer. We shall see, of course, more civil wars, we shall see more regional conflict in the world, but we do not see over the horizon any conflict between the blocs, and that being so, it is puzzling that we are stuck in the big disarmament process. A re-launching of the disarmament process would inject a new atmosphere. I’m not going so far as to contend that it would affect the North Korean situation or Iranian situation, but there would be a new atmosphere. It’s hard to work up a great enthusiasm … among the non-nuclear-weapon states at a time when you see a strong reluctance on the part of the U.S. at any rate to move ahead with the big issues that are stuck.

ACT: You mentioned the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty. What do you see as its particular utility?

Blix: I don’t see that anyone needs more enriched uranium today, nor do they need any plutonium today, and in fact, if I read Wolf (correctly) [Assistant Secretary of State John Wolf in the June issue of ACT[6]], here there isn’t any production, hasn’t been any production for a long while. If you take the FMCT and relink it to the uranium situation and to the North Korean situation, where we certainly would like to see an end to reprocessing in North Korea—reprocessing is not per se prohibited under the NPT, and in Iran you have enrichment, and that of course is not prohibited. But if we then say that we need—and I agree with that—a termination of enrichment in Iran, regardless of whether they aim for a weapon or not. I agree there is reason why one could be suspicious. But if we ask that this be terminated for good, and ask for their commitment to that effect, I think that will be easier to sell if at the same time we had an FMCT under which the great powers said “Fine, we will continue to enrich, but we will stop any enrichment, for highly enriched uranium.”

ACT: You mentioned CTBT. In the nonproliferation context, what are the other big disarmament issues that you think there’s opportunity for?

Blix: Well, Comprehensive Test Ban of course.

ACT: Why?

Blix: It would prevent any one of those who can now [from going] further in development of their programs, and it is safer than the situation in which we find ourselves. Of course, they can do a lot of things by computers now, we know that, but still it would be one more obstacle.

ACT: In a speech that you gave in Italy you mentioned a four-tier approach for keeping countries from developing nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. The first tier was reducing the incentives of states to acquire the weapons, then export controls, then international inspections, and finally the reduction of existing nuclear arsenals. Can you explain and elaborate on that a little bit more?

Blix: I’m probably known to the world mostly as an inspector, and I had that function at the IAEA. But I always felt that the first barrier to proliferation is the political one, and sometimes I feel that in the arms control community we tend to look at all these technical fixes, and the control of this material, and that’s fine—I’m not against all that. But let us look at what is the basic thing that drives countries to go for nuclear weapons, or get more of them. It’s security concerns. When you look at Iran, or you look at Israel, or you look at India, Pakistan, Iraq, certainly North Korea, you have to see what are the perceived security concerns they have?

In the case of North Korea, I think it’s absolutely clear that they have that concern. They have been talking about a non-aggression pact, using language that we had around the Stalinist period, and we laugh a little at. But when you look at what they want, it seems to me that they want an assurance that their borders are inviolable, and I don’t see that that part of the problem should be very difficult. I don’t see anyone who wants to invade North Korea, because the problems of taking care of them would be very great.

The other side of the Korean thing may be the more difficult part of establishing inspection, verification, which must be sufficiently far reaching, and you only ever talk about nuclear. What about biological and chemical and missiles in North Korea? In Iraq [biological and chemical weapons were] not that irrelevant, but when you come to North Korea you have the feeling that no one talks at all about it. So inspection I think will be important and it raises special difficulties in a country so hermetically closed as North Korea. But what must drive them a lot is an almost paranoic feeling that they have no friends. They used to have the Russians, and they had the Chinese, etcetera, and they felt stronger earlier. But today they feel on insecure grounds and I don’t think this guarantee should be a difficult one to give.

One could have other views on North Korea. If it is now argued that Iraq was a humanitarian intervention—I don’t remember that was really the main argument at the time, but I see some people arguing it now—then of course you could have a humanitarian intervention in North Korea. It is probably the worst, most inhumane regime you have in the world. But I don’t think anyone wants to press that point today, nor do I. I am in favor of humanitarian intervention in the long run, and I think we ought to feel ashamed about the Rwanda business. But big countries are [not] going to send hundreds of thousands of their soldiers to liberate the country. Maybe if you had another genocide like Cambodia, and media were there, it would happen. And I think it would be good, because that would indicate a high level of human solidarity. But that’s not where we are with North Korea, yet. Therefore I think that it is right to zero in on the six-party talks, and on their demand for a guarantee on inviolability. And when we talk about their demand for oil and for food, etcetera, I [would] see if this can be [done], not as a humanitarian prop-up, but for an evolution of North Korea into a more viable [state]. If North Korea is to have a peaceful exit, what I would like to see would be that the outside assistance, which they no doubt will ask for, be geared toward an economic development in which they will come over in the Chinese direction. Not simply helping them not starve for the next period, but actually leading them somewhere.

Clearly Iran is an area where they have seen the [region] equipping itself with weapons. You had of course first Israel, but Iran must also be aware that Iraq is now termed a sovereign state in a few weeks time, and although I hope that there will be effective verification remaining in Iraq after sovereignty is supposed to be passed to it. Nevertheless, the technical know-how still remains in Iraq. And I’ve seen the holes in the Bushehr reactors, which the Iraqis shot with some Exocet rockets in the past. So, I imagine this will also figure in their thinking.

And while I approve of the diplomatic efforts of the European states[7], which are also coordinated with the U.S.—I think that they must not lose sight of the larger political approach to détente in the Middle East. It seems very far away, and I’m not naïve, and I know it’s not happening tomorrow. However, it has been conspicuous all the time that all the states in that region support the notion of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction. Israel does, and so does Iran. And if you were to move on with the roadmap, and if one were to tackle the central problem of the Middle East, the relations between Israelis and Palestinians, and if that issue is moving forward, I think it will also prove easier to tackle the issues of weapons of mass destruction. I’m not at all against the Europeans’ initiative. But I think in all these cases, we need to remember the political dimension.

Now the third big case, of course, is Pakistan and India. And clearly—although we know that India started its nuclear program because of China, not because of Pakistan, and also that Pakistan then started its program because of India. However, it ought to be much less difficult to approach that situation if you were to have a sub-solution to the Kashmir issue. And one can be a little more hopeful today than we were a couple of years ago. Vajpayee did quite a lot and it’s clear that the Congress party will want to go on. I don’t think that they are going to roll back, like South Africa. If India doesn’t do it then Pakistan won’t do it. But some things might be easier. They might get them to agree and subscribe to a comprehensive test ban, might get them to subscribe to an FMCT. And I think India has always been very reliable in terms of export controls, which Pakistan has not been. But there are lots of other things in reducing the risks that would work if you could diffuse the Kashmiri issue.

Now then, if we were to have, say, a new nuclear weapon being developed in the United States, and if it were clear that we continue to have blocks on the FMCT, then I think that the general atmosphere surrounding these issues will be harder. And you could have a problem in the Middle East. Certainly if Iran were to develop further in the wrong direction, there is a risk for other countries considering going for nuclear weapons. And if the North Koreans move on, well the risks are very, very great. If the North Koreans were to test a weapon, yes, it would be very, very serious.

ACT: When you talked about the political aspect of this, in both Iran and North Korea for example, you’ve emphasized the incentive side—the carrots—rather than the sticks. How effective do you think these kinds of incentives can be in getting states to comply with their nonproliferation obligations?

Blix: Well you have the sticks also, but how serious and how credible they are is another question. If you take North Korea, remember that in the crisis that we had before the Agreed Framework, they were [opinion] articles by [former national security adviser] Brent Scowcroft talking about the possibility of using arms against North Korea. It may be that it scares the North Koreans, but in a situation where you have Seoul in artillery range of North Korea, I’m not sure how credible it is.

In the case of Iran, surely the Iranians must be able to tell themselves that after the Iraqi affair there will not be any great inclination, on the part of the U.S. at any rate, to go for missile strikes. The Israelis might perhaps be a little less away from such an action but on the whole I think that the present juncture is not one where these threats are genuine. It is an uncertainty and the uncertainty about it may be a helpful one. But I would not rate the chances very high that they will be used.

There are other disincentives, and they are, as we know, in the economic sphere. That’s what the Europeans talked about. The U.S. doesn’t have much by way of economic relations with Iran today, but in Europe they do. That should hover in the background. If you begin to brandish them, then it may be counterproductive. Especially when you’re talking in the case of Iran, yes I agree, they have not been forthright, they have not been open. Their lack of transparency increases the suspicion, all of that I agree with.

At the same time, when one asks them to renounce or suspend their enrichment capacity, I think one also has to remember there’s a certain pride in these things, and technological prowess. I have heard it said, Why should Iran have nuclear power, they have oil? No one asked that question when the Shah was about to launch a huge project. I think this nuclear technology is part of the feeling that yes, we are also able to do the most advanced modern technology. As a strong protagonist of nuclear power, I’m not against it. Not least today, when we are seeing attacks on pipelines in Iraq, and when we have a feeling that terrorist movements are trying to scare away Western technicians or Westerners from Saudi Arabia, then we are in getting into a situation that may be similar to the past fear of a cutting off of supplies of oil. And we should be reminded then that with nuclear power you can at least reduce the reliance upon oil somewhat, not that much, but this is one of the most significant ways of doing it for electricity. In long term, if we were to make use of fuel cell cars, instead of gasoline-powered cars, the hydrogen could be produced with the help of nuclear power.

I do not mind countries like India, certainly a huge country, going for nuclear power. I think that’s desirable. But it also leads me to be an even stronger advocate of nonproliferation and of safety in the operation of reactors and the disposal of waste.

ACT: One of the items in your four-tier approach is export controls. There obviously is a problem with the widespread availability of uranium-enrichment technology, a matter of much discussion about how to deal with it. How would you propose dealing with this issue? President Bush has outlined a proposal that involves the Nuclear Suppliers Group, tightening its controls. [IAEA Director-General] Mohamed ElBaradei has mentioned another approach that might involve internationalizing the fuel cycle[8]. Could you comment on this problem and how it might be addressed?

Blix: Having international institutions running big, practical operations like nuclear enrichment plants is not easy. It is something that is within the statute of the IAEA—at the time, it was a much bigger suit than we could fill. But I am not at all against exploring that, and I appreciate that he [ElBaradei] is trying a constructive way on it.

We do have quite a number of non-nuclear-weapon states that have enrichment: Brazil, South Africa, Japan, of course. If we are asking that no one else do it, I don’t think that it can be a hard or fast rule. You may have a country that would develop very fast into using nuclear power much more. And I think it would have to be an arrangement on which you can have some flexibility. Suppose that Ukraine for instance, which has a lot of nuclear power, if they would also go for enrichment then I don’t see any absolute obstacle why that should not be so. At the present time we have licensed five nuclear-weapon states. Should we now license a few more for enrichment, and that’s the end of it? That’s a rigidity. I think we need some sort of flexibility in that for the future.

ACT: But even with that flexibility there is the problem of the illegal black market, which has been made so clear with the A.Q. Khan situation[9]. How does one get at that when there is wider availability of these technologies?

Blix: Using the NSG for these purposes is something that must be contemplated. It’s already being done, and I think that’s maybe a necessity. There have been some thoughts, as you know, about basing the NSG on a treaty basis instead. I think there will be some difficulty in that push. So far I’m not convinced that that is the right way to do it. Then everyone who would like to adhere to it would come in, and I’ve seen how the NSG already now has some difficulties with the tensions within the group that is there. But it is a weapon, the export control is a weapon, and is useful that this group seeks to uphold high standards, and send information to each other. This has been, by and large, helpful.

ACT: One of the reasons there is this concern about the fuel cycle is that it’s very difficult to distinguish between peaceful and military use, short of actually finding a weapon. Is there any way that the IAEA might develop some criteria that would give an early warning or some sense of what the intentions are when people are doing this kind of fuel cycle development? Iran, obviously is one example.

Blix: Well, I think if countries like Iran maintain that they only are only interested in enrichment to produce fuel then it should be in Iran’s interest to increase its transparency and to have impeccable relations via safeguards. If they do not do that, well then I think that is something that will provoke suspicions and concern. So the attitude of the country to inspection and to openness would be one criterion. I’m not saying that you could conclusively draw a conclusion that they’re doing a weapon if they’re not (transparent), but certainly it would be a reason for suspicions, and (would affect) how the outside world treats that country.

You cannot draw a conclusion that, yes they are [making] a weapon. It could also be a question of pride. You have to be cautious. I’ve been asked the question, why did [deposed Iraqi President Saddam] Hussein behave as he did in Iraq, when we now think there weren’t any weapons? I think it had a lot to do with pride. Also perhaps they wished to create the impression that they had weapons although they protested that they didn’t have any. And also personal pride that I think he felt the inspectors were like fleas in his fur. Some of them probably were, as well.

ACT: During our last interview[10], we had talked about the possibility of inspecting everywhere; that was also in your Wall Street Journal piece.

Blix: I deliberately wanted to put inspections third, in order not to overemphasize and say that this is a sort of panacea. It is not. Recently I’ve been trying to explain how far can you come with inspection, how useful is it? When Mr. Cheney said, for instance, that the inspections are useless at best, and instead [the administration relied on] defectors, he clearly went wrong.

On the other hand, I think it’s also risky to say that inspection is the key. Don’t underestimate it, don’t overestimate it. They are like search machines. They have their merits and they have their limitations. The great merit is that they can go into any place legally, they can be entitled to go in, and especially with the [IAEA] Additional Protocol[11], so you can go much further than before. You have the right to have access to the information, to people, to documents, etcetera. But they also have their limitations, they cannot go around the country. For that, they need to have information.

Intelligence on the other hand, they have their sources, they listen, and are spending billions on listening to what we say on our mobile phones, and what Blix: says to ElBaradei…Although what Mr. Khatami says may be more interesting. So they have an enormous amount of that. They have spies on the ground and satellites…that’s sort of common property nowadays.

ACT: But how would you propose, after your unique experience, to enhance inspections? You’ve mentioned the idea of creating a standing inspectorate, similar to UNMOVIC. I’m sure that you’ve thought about how weapons inspections and monitoring could be improved. Could you be a little bit more specific about this?

Blix: I was talking about the nuclear inspections now, but of course with UNMOVIC it would not be nuclear. I’m not suggesting at all that one should do away with the IAEA – the capacity is there, and the OPCW [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] [12] is also developing well and that’s the chemical. But in New York, it would be for biological if it’s needed, or for missiles if it is needed. But my starting point was this: that you have search machines with different capabilities, and you should make use of those. Both of them report to governments. If you say it’s the [United Nations] Security Council, or it is the [IAEA] Board of Governors, well it’s governments. If the governments are actors they should take action, so they receive the information that come from these search machines, and they [national intelligence and international inspections] are both valuable. But don’t mix them, don’t merge them, because I think that’s what happened in UNSCOM with disastrous effects, when intelligence often took over UNSCOM. So these are the two machines.

Now what can we do then with an organization like UNMOVIC? Yes, I would be in favor of a modified mandate that would allow it to continue with a broadened base that could be used ad hoc by the Security Council. It is not a very expensive item for the moment. They are managing on leftovers from the Oil for Food [Program][13], and that will last for a while. But they will need a budget. And the beauty of it is that they are not dependent upon a standing group or standing army of inspectors. Rather, we had the roster system set up for a different reason: that you were not allowed to go in.[14] And so we created a roster system, we train people, they work at home, and they are available like an international reserve that can go in. And it is very economic, they are given the refresher courses, and they learn the latest techniques.So with a relatively low cost you could have a reserve for some inspection.

Now how often would it be called in? Not terribly often…I hope there won’t be so many cases where they’re needed, but it would be there. And, in addition, you could have the standing group in New York, which is not very large now, 30 or 40 people or something, and they could continue with analysis. And they could also serve the Security Council. Carnegie [The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace] advanced the idea of a rapporteur for the Security Council on issues of nonproliferation. It could also be a sort of secretariat-basis for a rapporteur. There are difficulties for a secretariat to report on suspicions. You have to be very, very correct in what you say, or else you will get into trouble. Still, I think that backing up a rapporteur who might be, not a civil servant but appointed by the Security Council, could be of use. In any case, I can’t see any harm coming from that, and it would also fill a gap when it comes to anything to inspect on biological or on missiles. How often that will be I don’t know, but it’s not a very expensive proposition.

And presumably when the U.S. leaves Iraq, there will be some need for a continued inspection in Iraq. This has not been treated yet, and I’m somewhat skeptical about the idea of reducing the rights of inspection there. I don’t think that one should reduce what we have. If you look as Resolution 687 it describes the inspections in Iraq as a system precisely as a step in the direction of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction[15]. So I think that would be a reason for retention of UNMOVIC and since I have no fealty myself any longer, I think I can say that without being suspected of any ulterior motives.

ACT: The fourth item you listed in your speech was reducing existing nuclear arsenals, and obviously one of the discussions that’s likely to come up at the next Review Conference for the NPT is the compliance with Article VI[16] particularly, as you cited, the U.S. possible development of new nuclear weapons, and general disarmament by the nuclear weapon-states. How important do you think that is, and what role is that going to play at the review conference?

Blix: You can also have an item like a treaty-based ban on tactical nuclear weapons. You had the agreement made by Bush the elder to withdraw tactical nuclear weapons from foreign territory[17], but that was not based on a treaty. It’s not a big deal, but it’s one of the things you can do. It would be part of a new momentum in disarmament. They are doing rather well in drawing down. There may be limitation to the speed with which you can do that. We already now have big piles of plutonium and highly enriched uranium. So I’m not complaining about that side of it. They can certainly look at lowering further levels than they have agreed now. But since they can’t take care of all those anyway at the moment, I don’t see that as the most difficult issue.

Now counterproliferation is another. It was not in my list there. And I think I discussed it both in my book and also publicly that after 9/11…[there is a] fear that you could have terrorists or a rogue [state] attacking or making use of weapons of mass destruction. I have some understanding for the argument advanced by President Bush, mainly that if something is imminent, it’s too late. No government—not only the U.S.—no government which is sure that an attack with weapons of mass destruction is coming will wait for it, but they will seek to prevent it. So I understand that, too. But in all these preventive actions, intelligence that comes in, how do you know it will actually occur? I mean the UN Charter is very clear in Article 51, and says that you have the inherent right of self-defense if an armed attack occurs. An armed attack occurs you see it, but if it hasn’t occurred but simply is imminent, how do you know? You will not sit and wait for it, but you are dependent upon the intelligence. And what you can see today, of course is, that after the Iraqi affair there is no political inclination to rely too much on intelligence.

So the whole concept of counterproliferation has been weakened. It’s not gone, because if something is imminent then sure they will act. But they can also go to the Security Council and share the responsibility of a decision. I don’t accept their contention that the Security Council is impotent. I saw that [Prime Minister Tony] Blair said that the council is not there just to talk but also to act. Alright. Within a short day or two after that, the council acted within less than 12 hours to take a decision on Haiti. So if they are agreed they can act.

But in the case of Iraq last spring they were not agreed, and I think it was to the credit of the council that they did not authorize the war. Where would we have stood today if the council had said fine to the Spanish-U.S.-[British] resolution, had authorized it on erroneous premises? They were skeptical of the premises. They were right. Therefore, I think it was a good thing that they didn’t authorize the war. And with the present composition of the council, there is no automatic veto. The Russians, the Chinese are not automatically vetoing things. And therefore the council should not be ruled out as impotent. I think it is there, and if you had a threat that is not within 12 hours, well, I think that you might also share the responsibility in taking action by going to the council.

So one cannot rule out counterproliferation in exceptional circumstances. But at least if counterproliferation implies the use of force, and I’ve usually seen it in that context but it can be more innocent than that. The biggest case of counterproliferation—apart from the Iraqi War—was the Israeli attack on Osarik[18]. You have had assassinations of nuclear scientists in the past, but there might be a more innocent method.

Let me say something more about intelligence, and merging or mixing it with the inspection. This is fundamental. We know now, after the Iraqi affair, that international inspectors under the authority of the Security Council or the board of the IAEA came to conclusions that were closer to reality than what the intelligence agencies did. There are a couple of reasons that helped us on the [inspectors] side. One was that we had the Security Council as our master. The Security Council did not push us or breathe down our neck to come into any particular conclusions. They just said, “You do your professional work, and you report accurately to us.” Intelligence agencies clearly felt there was an expectation that they would come up with something that pointed to the direction of the existence of the weapons because their executive branch of the government wanted that, both in the [United States] and in the [United Kingdom].

The other [factor] was the international civil servants concept, which is strong in the UN and the IAEA. You are there to assemble facts, and submit that to a political level. You are not part of the policymaking. I was very clear to the Security Council that I am not advising what you are to do. I simply am responsible for our job of collecting the data and giving it to you.

In the national governments I think there has been a risk of the blurring, whether we see it, not only in this particular sphere, but we see of course in many areas where government, executive branch, in the policymaking, and selling it to the public, will want to create their own reality. And they repeat again and again the same thing of questionable factual value, and it turns it into virtual reality. I think you might say Iraq is a case where eventually the virtual reality collided with old-fashioned, real reality.

So this distinction between the role and the ability of the international inspectorate to work in their way, that argues in favor of making use of that as a force that can give you important objective data. Not doing away with intelligence data—they have their side, but keep them apart. And as I said the intelligence can provide the inspectors with ideas where to go, because they have other sources than inspectors do. However, what I have seen in the case of Iraq during the ’90s and described in some extent in my book, but [former White House terrorism expert Richard] Clarke has also come up with more material on this, and Gallucci [Robert Gallucci is former deputy executive chairman of the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM)] had a statement before David Albright’s group [Albright is the president of the Institute for Science and International Security] where he described the close liaison between UNSCOM and inspection and intelligence. Now, it was clear when they adopted [Resolution] 687 that intelligence—that UNSCOM was to have intelligence tips from the agencies. It was also stated clearly that the IAEA should not have direct access to intelligence but UNSCOM should designate sites for IAEA to inspect on the basis of the intelligence that they had received.

Now we know that at the end of UNSCOM the bubble burst and we know that UNSCOM was piggybacked directly by intelligence, notably U.S. but also UK intelligence. And that they had listening devices and they listened to traffic in the air and it was not just to identify weapons of mass destruction but [to find out] where was Saddam,where were his mistresses, etcetera. UNSCOM did not even get the result of these things but was just piggybacked, and that bubble burst in January 1999. UNSCOM withdrew at the end of 1998, it burst in 1999. There was plenty of writing about it in the U.S. media, Barton Gellman [of The Washington Post] and others came out with lots of things about it. That, I think, destroyed, the UN legitimacy of UNSCOM.

At the IAEA we had drawn another conclusion at the beginning of the Iraq War and that was that yes, we need intelligence, but it is mainly one-way traffic. They could not come and criticize us for not having found something if they hadn’t told us where to look. So we said please help us, give us something, but its one-way traffic. You tell us, we have safeguards confidential, we get all the information from the state, but that’s safeguards confidential. For us it was natural to say that we are in no position to give you something in return, except if we find something that’s in the interest of the government.

So one-way traffic was what they said, and we went for it. And in the Amorim committee report, which preceded UNMOVIC, you’ll find the same thing, they say one-way traffic. And you’ll find also in my introduction to the Security Council, of UNMOVIC, I stated yes we want to have intelligence. And they asked from whom and I said anyone who wants to give us, but it is in principle one-way traffic. Now in principle, you cannot be absolutely watertight, because if they give you a tip about a place to go, you go there, you find nothing, then of course you have to tell your supplier. And you must also be able to tell the supplier what are you interested in. But it is not a joint operation. And it is not that they can come and say we’d like to look at your archives on this point or that point. And when I read Mr. Clarke[19] now I find that he is describing the important IAEA [inspection] in 1991 when they got stuck in the parking lot. That was an area we were working inspection. However, he says he planned it together with a few outside people. UNSCOM was given the idea to go to this place, yes, but…it was a joint operation that probably mainly was led from the intelligence. In the long run you cannot do that and maintain a UN legitimacy. Especially if the intelligence will piggyback and use the inspections as an extended arm for their operations.

ACT: Let me ask you a question on this issue of role of the international civil servant. Obviously you took a lot of guff from the administration as they were leading up to the invasion of Iraq. And as you said ultimately it’s the government’s decision about what to do on these things. But you must have some advice for the next Hans Blix who might be in this position where you’re trying to persuade the governments that maybe there isn’t this kind of evidence there. How do you do this as an international civil servant?

Blix: Well I never said in the Security Council that I would advise against war. It would be presumptuous of me, and The New York Times was rather good about this and I agreed completely with them. But that is one thing. Mohamed [ElBaradei] explicitly asked for a few more months. You will not find that I said that I explicitly asked for it. They asked me how much more time do you think you would need. And I said well it won’t take years, and it won’t be weeks, but it would be months if the Iraqis cooperate. That’s what I said. Now my personal wish was of course to continue the inspection, and I think that’s probably how people perceived my attitude. But I did not explicitly ask Security Council to vet that.

However, on the question of the evidence, we were not silent. You will find in my book the description of the conversation with Blair—I have the transcript of it, and it is amusing. I think it was in February [2003]. It makes clear that I do not exclude the possibility that there are still weapons. But I am making clear to him that we were not impressed by the evidence that we had. I do say to him that it would be paradoxical if you invaded with several hundred thousand men and you didn’t find anything. This was in February. And he then said, no, no. All the intelligence agencies are agreed. And to top it off he said, “and the Egyptians too.”

So I had no doubt at all that he was [acting] in good faith, nor have I ever suggested that Bush was [acting] in bad faith. But our doubts or skepticism about the evidence began in the autumn because David Albright and his people were doubting the aluminum tubes. And I was doubtful about the yellow cake contract. Not because I had any suspicion at all that it was a forgery, but I felt that yellow cake is a long way from a bomb. And why should the Iraqis bother to import yellowcake. That was my simple layman thought about it.

But then in January and in February we went to dozens of sites given by intelligence—U.S., [British], and others—and found no weapons of mass destruction. In only three cases did we find anything at all, and in one case it was the illegal import of Volga engines, in another case it was the stash of nuclear documents on laser [uranium enrichment], and in the third case was a farm that turned out to contain conventional ammunition. So in no case, of all these dozens [of places] where they suspected there were weapons of mass destruction, did we find anything. That shook us quite a lot. Then came [Secretary of State] Colin Powell with his beautiful presentation—I won’t use another noun for it—his beautiful presentation to the Security Council. Perhaps we should have felt humiliated because he was then presenting all these smoking guns we hopeless inspectors had failed to see. However, I felt more like sitting in a court bench, saying well, the chief prosecutor is now putting forth the evidence then let’s see what the experts say about this evidence. So I let our experts dig their teeth into it. Now there were of course many things they could not check—the intercepted telephone calls and so forth that they could not check. But there were several others that they could check and each they were skeptical about.

Now that was when I said I have to go to the Security Council and also register our doubts about the evidence, and I did so. There I referred to three things, I referred to the fact that you cannot say that simply because something is unaccounted for it exists. Secondly, I referred to the sites that we had been to [that were] not building any weapons of mass destruction. And thirdly, I took up the case of the chemical sites, which Colin Powell had referred to, it was the only one that I took up, and I said the trucks that he had seen they thought were decontamination trucks or that our inspectors had seen and they were then at least water trucks and we had taken lots of environmental samples and seen no traces of chemicals. So, this was still in February [2003], that I went before the council. Maybe I could accuse myself today of not speaking louder, but that was the only voice that came, apart from Albright, who I think persistently pursued a respectable line. And we had the case of the drones, which Wolf came to me and threw on my desk. [20] I didn’t exclude at the time that it could be something but the inspectors were certainly not convinced of it, and we had had no reason to go forward, I can say that.

The case where we came closest to a suspicion was the anthrax, and because we had people analyzing that and it seemed that they could have squirreled away a quantity of anthrax. But I looked at it at very long briefings in which I examined step-by-step and I said, no, this is not conclusive. It is a strong indication, but not conclusive. In retrospect, well I couldn’t exclude even now that maybe we find a cistern of anthrax somewhere, there will be probably debris somewhere. But it was not conclusive.

ACT: What might the outcome have been today if inspections had continued for another three, four, however many months?

Blix: If inspections had continued I think that two things would have happened. First, we would have been able to go to all sites suggested to us by intelligence—[British], U.S., or any other—and since there weren’t any weapons we wouldn’t have found any. And we would have reported that fact, and I think that ought to have shaken the intelligence agencies. We didn’t have bad relations with intelligence, we were not so antagonistic at all. I think it should have shaken them to say “Sorry, but then our sources were bad.” Maybe the time was too short, maybe the number of cases was too short for them to retreat on that, or draw that conclusion. So that would have been the most important [outcome].

The other thing that could have happened was also important, but slightly less work, that was that the Iraqis gave us at the end of February and the very beginning of March, they gave us long lists of people whom they said had participated in the unilateral destruction operation in 1991. I had had discussions about this with Al Saadi [Amir Al Saadi, a senior adviser to then Iraqi President Saddam Hussein] about this, and I said “you must have some documents.” Afterward, I am still puzzled that this country that has fairly good bureaucracy didn’t have any documents. Some diaries came up and that was all. So I said, if you don’t have any documents you must at least have people that participated and they said yes. And eventually they came with this long list of people. And what we would have done would have been to interview these people. And there are difficulties you have with interviewing in totalitarian countries, but nevertheless there were some 80 or so names and in such a large number if you could interview them, there might have been some hope that we would understand more about the operation in ’91. Remember that they came forward and proposed that we should take samples of the soil, we should analyze it, we should come out with some quantitative conclusions which…

ACT: The Iraqis?

Blix: The Iraqis, yes. We went up against that. We would have done it, but I didn’t have much hope I’m not a scientist but I wouldn’t have much hope. But these two things—the interviews, and going to the science would have happened. And I assume that the Iraqis would have continued to give access without any difficulty because they invariably were okay on the access side. But if there had been a renewed cat-and-mouse game, then I am of the view that the Security Council would have gone along and authorized the use of force. However I think its more likely that, having 200,000 or more people at their borders, that they would have continued to gnaw their teeth and give access even to presidential sites[21]. And I think it would have become more difficult then to launch any invasion. This could have gone on over the summer, and I don’t quite see why they [the U.S.-led coalition] could not have waited until the autumn. I understand they didn’t want to have fighting during the summer, but if they had let inspectors go on until the autumn, I think the chances are that the air would have gone out of that. But the result would have been that Saddam [Hussein] would have stayed in power probably. Some people say that he couldn’t have survived the rumor that they had weapons of mass destruction—that’s not so sure, I think. So the chances are that he would have stayed, Saddam would have remained. The sole good result of the war I see is the disappearance of one of the world’s most bad regimes.

However, what would have been the case then? It would have been a little like [Fidel] Castro, like [Moammar] Gaddafi, who is now supposed to be a good boy. It would have been a situation similar, where the world does not intervene on a humanitarian basis but leaves it to foreign policy by obituary as The New York Times calls it elegantly. You wait him out. It would have had many negative aspects, but it also would have had many positive aspects.

ACT: The Bush administration has argued since the war that if inspections had ended that Saddam could have quickly reconstituted his chemical, and biological programs, perhaps even his nuclear weapons. Was it your expectation in the spring of 2003 that if the inspections had been allowed to continue, that they were going to end? Could these inspections have continued for a longer time in your view?

Blix: That was the mandate of the Security Council. UN Resolution 687 distinguishes between the inspections and long-term monitoring. And it was quite clear that when inspections were over, then you go into long-term monitoring. There was no end that wouldn’t require a specific decision of the Security Council. Now with [UN Security Council Resolution] 1284, this system was modified and they constantly introduced what they called reinforced long-term monitoring[22]. Well anyway, they were reinforced inspections, and so they made no difference between inspection and monitoring and there was no limit set to that. The real limit would not be formal, but it would be the risk of a fatigue in the council. A beginning resistance from the Iraqi side, and fatigue in the council, a wish not to implement it, to enforce it. That could have happened but that’s containment. And if they saw a sign of new nuclear things then they would probably pull up their socks again. So that’s the risk of containment. It’s not absent. But there was nothing in the cards at the time. Especially when you look at the situation in the spring of 2003, if they had gone on well, for quite some time, I think there would not have been any fatigue, but they would have watched them clearly. And we have now seen that [during]the whole ’90s, the UN actually succeeded in disarming [Iraq]without really knowing it. And even [from] 1998 to 2002, they didn’t do anything.

So the pressure, the combination, I think, of the risk of something happening militarily. The continued bombing of the no-fly zones, the economic sanctions, and the inspectors milling in the country helped to keep them away. I’m still a bit puzzled in why they played cat and mouse. And although I’m proud of what we did because we didn’t err as much as the intelligence agencies did, nevertheless it is somewhat puzzling that, especially UNSCOM but also we, were not able to conclude that there were not any weapons. And here, for eight years they were there, and UNMOVIC has now shown in the 14th quarter report after I left that there were no weapons destroyed after 1994. There was infrastructure, there were precursors, there were growth materials, but no weapons destroyed after ’94.

And I’m not sure even that UNSCOM ever found a weapon that had been hidden. They found a lot of chemical weapons in Mutanna, but Mutanna was declared. There were more weapons there than [what] had [been] declared, but the site was declared. But the fact then that no weapons were found after ’94 should then have given them and others a thought, a wonder: are they really so smart in hiding them? We went through all the cases in denial of access—cat and mouse—and while we had reports that [Iraqis] drove away with trucks, and that there were weapons that they burned, etcetera, in no case did [inspectors] find any weapons of mass destruction. When they went in eventually—after hours or sometimes after days—they didn’t find anything at all. And you do not drive away with large quantities of chemical weapons if you are being under surveillance. These facts should have struck a stronger bell. But instead we were all, including myself, so impressed by the fact that they were playing with inspectors and drew automatically, uncritically the conclusion “Ah Hah! They must be hiding something.” And that’s not what they did.

ACT: Hindsight is 20/20. You were talking earlier about sort of the need to create a new dynamic in nonproliferation, especially nuclear nonproliferation. Going toward the Review Conference next year, do you have any sorts of specific steps or ideas on what should be on the agenda for the Review Conference, and what would constitute success there?

Blix: I think the comprehensive test ban, FMCT, and the fuel cycle business. The NPT allows enrichment and reprocessing. But this is a subject that must be tackled in some flexible way because we cannot set the rules once for everyone who wants to have it now—that’s the licensees forever. I think this is essential. And of course we’ll have to watch the discussion. Everyone is so focused upon the acute cases, understandably and rightly, but I worry that opportunities are missed. I mean we do live in a détente, after all. It’s bizarre, that we are not doing better.

ACT: We just wanted to ask you one final question on “WMD”. In your recent book you use the term weapons of mass destruction to describe nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and yet there have been many who’ve not been happy about the conflation of these three.

Blix: I agree.

ACT: And yet that’s also the name of your commission. Can you elaborate a little…

Blix: It is so firmly entrenched that we can’t get away from it. We discussed the possibility. We discussed the possibility that we have another name, but no, no. We are stuck with that. I had begun my introduction for Monday by denouncing the concept of weapons of mass destruction, because the only thing they have in common is that we would like to do away with all of them. And biological of course, I mean you could say that, they could lead to mass death. But otherwise, it has some drawbacks in that it allows governments to come forward and say that you know we may have 30 countries in the world with weapons of mass destruction, but we do know that we may have less than 10 which are nuclear weapons. And I think this is part of hyping.

Yesterday I spoke before the Cosmos Club and I began by saying “Look, put these things in perspective.” I’m dealing with weapons of mass destruction, nonproliferation—both expressions are bad—but everyone is absorbed in these in the Western world to the exclusion of other problems. If you go to Asia, you will not find that people say that the risk of use of weapons of mass destruction is an “existential issue,” as Blair said recently. But they said “Well, you know, for those of us who hunger, hunger is more of an existential issue.” I would say for myself, and I think for everybody, that global warming, the threats to the global environment are as great if not greater than the threats from weapons of mass destruction. And that’s why I’m very much in favor for peaceful nuclear power.

So yes, weapons of mass destruction is a bad expression, everyone agrees about that, but at least in the arms control community we know the weakness. The other expression is nonproliferation. The Carnegie Endowment says that it’s a strategy for nonproliferation and they also say it’s a Nuclear Safety Strategy, which I prefer, because when we talk about nonproliferation, there is still the connotation, an echo of the idea that you have five licenses given. And that beyond that anything is bad. Whereas the Carnegie Endowment says no, it is not, and that it is a dual bargain. And I think one must remember that. But proliferation of course doesn’t question the parents. It questions the offspring.

ACT: How do you close that gap between the nuclear haves and have-nots?

Blix: It’s simple. Those who have it should negotiate to do away with it, and those who don’t have it they should recommit not to get it. Now how sincere it was at the outset I’m not so sure. Because it says negotiate toward doing away with the weapons and general and complete disarmament. Any talk about general and complete disarmament in 1968 was not terribly sincere. But since then it has become more important and it has been seen that you cannot simply have an alcoholic telling those who have not yet tasted alcohol that they should stay away from it. And they have committed themselves, at the latest NPT Review there was the commitment, and I think that they realized that if they are not moving in that direction that undermines the commitments of others.

[1] Sweden’s foreign ministry announced the commission’s formation in December 2003. For more details see Arms Control Today, January/February 2004.

[2] An FMCT would prohibit the production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU) for nuclear weapons purposes. For more details see http://www.armscontrol.org/aca/npt13steps.asp

[3] The CTBT prohibits signatories from conducting explosive tests of nuclear weapons. For more details see http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/ctbtsig.asp

[4] For a comprehensive analysis and description of PSI, see Jofi Joseph, “Can Interdiction Stop Proliferation?,” Arms Control Today, June 2004, pp. 6-13.

[5] The 44-member NSG is comprised of nuclear supplier states that have agreed to coordinate their export controls governing transfers of civilian nuclear material and technology to prevent nuclear exports intended for commercial and peaceful purposes from being used to make nuclear weapons. For more details see http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/NSG.asp

[6] See “The Bush Administration's Nonproliferation Policy: An interview with Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation John S. Wolf,” Arms Control Today, June 2004, p. 14-19. http://www.armscontrol.org/interviews/Wolf.asp

[7] See Paul Kerr, “With Deadline Looming, European Foreign Ministers Strike Deal to Restrict Iran’s Nuclear Program,” Arms Control Today, November 2003.

[8] See “Curbing Nuclear Proliferation: An Interview with Mohamed ElBaradei,” Arms Control Today, November 2003, pp. 3-6. http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2003_11/ElBaradei_11.asp

[9] Khan, a key official in Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, ran a covert network of suppliers who transferred nuclear technology to states suspected of developing nuclear weapons. For more information see "The Khan Network", March 2004 Arms Control Today, pp. 23-29. http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2004_03/

[10] See "Verifying Arms Control Agreements: An Interview with Hans Blix, the Outgoing Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC," Arms Control Today, July/August 2003, pp. 12-15.

[11] States concluding Additional Protocols to their safeguards agreements with the IAEA are obliged to disclose to the agency significantly more information regarding their nuclear activities than they would under their original safeguards agreements. Such protocols also increase the IAEA’s authority to detect clandestine nuclear activities. For more details see: http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/IAEAProtocol.asp

[12] The OPCW administers the Chemical Weapons Convention, a 1997 treaty ratified by 160 countries, which bans the use, development, production, and stockpiling of chemical weapons. For more details see http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/cwcglance.asp

[13] The Oil for Food program, which allowed Iraq to sell oil for buying medicine, health supplies, food, and other supplies “essential” for civilian needs, was created in 1995. For more details see: http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2002_10/UNresolutionsoct02.asp

[14] Iraq did not allow the UN inspectors to resume work in Iraq after they left in December 1998 until November 2002.

[15] The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 687 in 1991 after Iraq's defeat in the Persian Gulf War. The resolution formed the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) to verify that Iraq complied with UN-mandated non-nuclear disarmament tasks. For a list of relevant UN resolutions, see http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2002_10/UNresolutionsoct02.asp

[16] Article VI of the NPT reads: “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.” For a complete text of the NPT see http://www.armscontrol.org/documents/npt.asp.

[17] Blix is referring to the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives concluded by George H.W. Bush and former Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev. For details see Presidential Nuclear Initiatives section in U.S./Soviet Russian Nuclear Arms Control factsheet at http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2002_06/factfilejune02.asp

[18] In 1981, the Israeli air force destroyed the French-built Osarik nuclear reactor in Iraq.

[19] Richard Clarke, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War

[20] According to Blix, Wolf arrived at Blix’s office on March 6, 2003 with photographs of an Iraqi Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, as well as a cluster munition, and demanded to know why UNMOVIC had not declared their discovery a breach of Iraq’s disarmament obligations. See Blix, Disarming Iraq (New York: Panteon Books), pp. 221-222.

[21] UN Security Council Resolution 1154 endorsed a February 1998, memorandum of understanding (MOU) between UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Iraq which placed special conditions on inspections of these sites. The MOU did not give Iraq the right to impede the inspectors, but Iraq used these sites to conceal what were believed to be possible weapons activities. Resolution 1441, adopted in November 2002, specifically mandated unrestricted access to these sites.

[22] Resolution 1284, adopted in 1999, authorized the creation of UNMOVIC to replace UNSCOM after UN inspectors were withdrawn the previous year and verify that Iraq had fulfilled its remaining disarmament obligations.

Interviewed by Miles A. Pomper, Paul Kerr, and Daryl Kimball

Subject Resources:

Interview with Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation John S. Wolf



May 13, 2004
Wade Boese and Miles Pomper

ACT: The U.S. theme at the recently concluded NPT PrepCom was that a crisis of noncompliance currently exists with regard to the treaty. Could you briefly discuss the magnitude of the problem and what the US solutions are to resolving it?

Wolf: In the last dozen years or so, we have seen North Korea fail to comply with its safeguards obligations, violating its Article II and III NPT obligations. We have seen Libya admit to having had a nuclear weapons program. (See ACT, March 2004.) We have seen clear evidence of Iranian violations which in our view constitute Article II and III violations: the clandestine nature of their program, the unwillingness to respond to repeated calls by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) [to resolve questions about the Iranian nuclear program], and the continuing clandestine nature of part of their program. The whole question of the A.Q. Khan network, which has shown that nonstate parties are capable of gathering and selling sensitive nuclear technologies, up to and including nuclear weapons designs (see ACT, March 2004). The treaty was put together by state-parties determined to end the increasing number of countries that had nuclear weapons. That's not to mention states that are outside the NPT, which are repeatedly talked about: India, Pakistan, and Israel. So, the treaty, which has three parts-disarmament, peaceful uses, and nonproliferation-can't be successful if the core principle, the one that creates confidence in the international community, is being violated, and it's the compliance pillar that's being violated. That (lack of compliance) clearly will have an impact on other aspects of the treaty.

ACT: How do we bolster the compliance pillar then?

Wolf: We're doing a variety of things to bolster compliance. First of all, we think it's important for the world community to be clear and categorical that it's determined not to see an expansion in the number of countries with nuclear weapons. The six-party process in Asia looks at the North Korean nuclear weapons program and says that the only acceptable solution is complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of [North Korea's] weapons and nuclear programs. The insistent demand by the international community and the IAEA that Iran end its noncompliance and return to compliance is a first step, but I think it will take more than just the IAEA. It will take the international community writ large making clear to Iran that it faces two choices. If [Iran] chooses to continue down the nuclear weapons path, it will face increasing political and economic isolation. The alternative is to give up that path and be restored as a reputable member of the international community. Libya chose the benefits of coming clean. The work we are doing to root out the A.Q. Khan network makes clear that we are not prepared to accept those kinds of networks.

Then comes a whole set of things revolving around the president's proposals of February 11. (See ACT, March 2004.) There is an increasingly widespread belief that the sensitive nuclear technologies related to enrichment and reprocessing should not spread horizontally. We need to continue to strengthen the safeguards capabilities of the IAEA. We did that with a budget increase for the current biennium. We are doing that by looking to see the Additional Protocol become the new universal standard [for safeguards]. We hope that Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) countries will agree not to sell nuclear technology to countries that don't have in place an additional protocol or certainly haven't signed one by 2005. We believe there are some IAEA management reforms that could also be pursued.

Resolution 1540, which [the UN Security Council] passed a couple of weeks ago, was a clarion call to the international community that every country has to raise the levels of its export controls and improve the nature of its enforcement. (See ACT, May 2004.) A.Q. Khan's successes make clear that it's possible even with good export controls to export, buy, and assemble sensitive nuclear technology. That's an enforcement question and a sharing of information question. We will use the Proliferation Security Initiative increasingly as another active tool to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction-nuclear, chemical, and biological-and the means to deliver. [Those are several] things in motion to raise international standards, improve enforcement, and stop shipments of proliferation technologies as they occur.

ACT: Speaking of Resolution 1540, the United States persuaded other countries to accept it on the basis that it was aimed at nonstate actors. However, as you just noted in your remarks, it will require actions by states to toughen their export control laws, so it will be states that will ultimately be held accountable under the resolution. What are the standards to measure whether states live up to their responsibilities under Resolution1540, and what are the consequences if they do not?

Wolf: The resolution seeks to improve export controls and enforcement measures to stop nonstate parties from acquiring dangerous weapons and technologies. I would submit that the resolution also looks at state-state transactions, as well as state-nonstate transactions. There's a whole universe of state-state, state-nonstate, nonstate-nonstate, nonstate-state [transactions], and all of those need to be covered by comprehensive export controls and rigorous enforcement. We're not any safer if it's state proliferation to another state. We're certainly not safer if it's North Korea shipping weapons technology to Iran or if Iran is acquiring weapons technologies through state purchasing agencies.

ACT: At the PrepCom, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton noted that there have been "at least four" recent cases of NPT noncompliance.

Wolf: I left out Iraq.

ACT: Are there additional countries that the United States is looking at?

Wolf: He also said that we don't exclude that there may be one or more countries that have clandestine programs.

ACT: But the United States has not identified those or named their names yet?

Wolf: He said that we have not excluded. We have not said that the ones named are the only ones about which we are concerned.

ACT: At the PrepCom the United States pushed members to judge compliance by intentions rather than capabilities. This would appear to put more of the burden on the accused rather than the accuser to prove its case. Is this a new interpretation of compliance?

Wolf: No. You have to look at both capabilities and intentions. The intentions part covers, for instance, a willingness to dissemble false statements and misdeclarations. All of those have to be in addition to the capabilities, which may be physical. You have to factor in the degree to which a country takes efforts to deceive the international community. North Korea did it. They did it from the get go. They did it when they signed the NPT. They did it in the Agreed Framework. So, you take all that into account. If you look at my PrepCom statements last week, you'll see that I pointed to several cases where Iran said one thing in 2003, only to see it disproved by IAEA inspections during the last nine months. That kind of willful deception ought to be part of what countries take into account. Undersecretary [of State for Arms Control and International Security John] Bolton's speech made clear that, if the test [for determining noncompliance] is simply either seeing a nuclear weapon or seeing a nuclear weapons test, then its far too late for the international community to act.

ACT: The recent PrepCom was intended to provide a set of recommendations for next year's regular five-year treaty Review Conference. However, the meeting concluded with no such recommendations. Why?

Wolf: It was supposed to make efforts to come up with substantive recommendations. PrepComs haven't. It also was supposed to complete work on a number of procedural issues, and it's disappointing that it didn't conclude all procedural work. It did choose a president-elect. It did come up with financing arrangements. It did come up with rules for procedure. But in the end, the Non-Aligned Movement failed to agree to any of several proposals that were on the table on an agenda for the Review Conference. There were at least four, including the chairman's own proposal, that the United States could have supported. So, in a way it's disappointing that we failed to complete that work. It is not surprising that it didn't come up with substantive recommendations. In the history of Review Conferences, that tends to be the kind of thing that gets done at the Review Conference and not before the Review Conference.

The meeting was actually good in terms of the opportunity that it presented to member states to express their views. Thirty-eight countries, I think, expressed concerns about Iran for instance. Many talked about the problems of compliance. Many called for universal adoption of additional protocols, as well as safeguards arrangements for those states that still don't have them. Many countries called for improved export controls.

The United States and other nuclear-weapon states had an opportunity to make the case that disarmament is in fact taking place. We reiterated our commitment to Article VI. We talked about 13,000 weapons dismantled. The Moscow Treaty reductions will lead to an 80 percent reduction in U.S. operationally deployed strategic warheads. Nearly 90 percent of U.S. nonstrategic nuclear weapons have been eliminated since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Over the last 10 years, we have eliminated 1,200 strategic bombers and missiles. No U.S. nuclear tests have taken place since 1992. No fissile material has been produced for 15 years. Nine billion dollars has been spent on Cooperative Threat Reduction [CTR] programs. In the former Soviet Union, over 1,000 ballistic missiles were eliminated, and 6,000 strategic warheads were removed. Seven hundred tons of fissile material have been removed from the weapons stockpiles in Russia and the United States, of which 250 tons of that have been converted to low enriched uranium. In other words, it gave us a chance to make clear that disarmament is proceeding. But the fact is that it also provided us with opportunities to say the problem is not the nuclear-weapon states. It is the failure of some non-nuclear-weapon states to live by their obligations. And the failure by a few puts at risk the benefits for many.

ACT: Nevertheless, as you alluded to, the Non-Aligned Movement and the New Agenda Coalition both criticized the United States for not doing enough on disarmament. And they also identified as one of the reasons for the failure to come up with [Review Conference] recommendations a U.S. reluctance to reaffirm the 13 steps. Does the United States still support the 13 steps?

Wolf: On the first point, it's really interesting that when [the PrepCom was] talking about some of the proposals that the Non-Aligned [Movement] put forward at the last moment, the Russian delegate made the point, for instance, that one of their [Non-Aligned Movement] recommendations is that the nuclear-weapon states should improve reporting. He said that Russia had been providing reports and whenever Russia asked the Non-Aligned Movement, "Well, what do you think of our report? How could it be improved? Where do you see problems?" Russia gets no answers. So, [regarding] this sort of drumbeat about disarmament, some might wonder whether or not people are actually looking at the facts or simply reading the speech from last year without taking account of what happened in the year previous. The CTR programs go forward in Russia and the former Soviet Union; we continue to dismantle strategic weapons systems or they continue to dismantle warheads; we continue to immobilize fissile material, not by the kilo but by the ton; and yet those issues just seem to wander off the table.

ACT: What about with regards to the 13 steps?

Wolf: The 13 steps were an important conclusion to the 2000 Review Conference. But the world moves on and the discussion ought not to be locked in 2000. Some things have been overtaken by events. [The upcoming Review Conference] ought to focus next year on what's relevant for 2005. I will give you one example. One of the 13 steps was the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. The United States and the Russian Federation have terminated the ABM Treaty. So, to spend a lot of time debating whether or not we support that step is a real exercise in irrelevance, and we are not prepared to do it. The treaty does not exist anymore. It was a bilateral treaty, and it was ended legally.

ACT: I think we can all agree on the fact that it's no secret that the ABM Treaty is no longer in operation, but what about the other 12 steps?

Wolf: I am not going to wander through the other 12 steps now and go through each one. It just does not serve a purpose. We would prefer to talk about the disarmament we are doing, and we are doing a lot of it. We could return to 2000 and pretend that the next five years did not exist, but we would rather start in 2005, see what the world situation is, and discuss where we go from 2005 forward.

ACT: What would the United States see as a successful outcome to the 2005 NPT conference?

Wolf: It's just critical that the Review Conference takes a strong stand and look at ways in which we can ensure that compliance takes place. A number of discussions will take place between now and then in specific fora, including the IAEA, its Board of Governors, and the NSG. I am not sure that I want to lay out today what our goals are going to be a year from now because I am not sure I can put it in specifics. But we will come back to the theme that we discussed [the last two years], which is that the treaty is put at risk by those few who are failing to meet their obligations and who are seeking to acquire nuclear weapons and weapons capabilities clandestinely.

ACT: Clearly, there is a disconnect between the nuclear-weapon states and the non-nuclear-weapon states on prioritizing disarmament versus nonproliferation. How can the treaty survive if these two groups of states can't find a way to balance those two objectives?

Wolf: Because none of us have interests in seeing countries like Iran or North Korea have nuclear weapons. All of our security is jeopardized when countries like Iran and North Korea have nuclear weapons programs. What is put at risk for all of us is the ability to continue disarmament by the nuclear-weapon states and peaceful nuclear cooperation because the system just won't be able to continue to operate in the face of mass violations.

ACT: On this theme of getting tough with proliferators, the administration said little when Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf pardoned A.Q. Khan for leading the largest black-market proliferation ring ever exposed. Does the administration's blind eye to Khan's lack of punishment undercut the U.S. message on enforcement and compliance?

Wolf: You made at least two assertions that I do not accept. I am not sure that we were silent, and I am not sure that we have turned a blind eye. We expect Pakistan to continue to take vigorous action both to help identify and then to help root out the Khan network. That is a consistent message. It has not changed, and it's repeated to Pakistan at the very highest levels.

ACT: Is there confidence then that the Khan network is shut down, or is that still being worked on?

Wolf: We are working on that.

ACT: Pakistan has been very resistant to allowing outside governments or international inspectors into its territory. How can you have confidence that it is fulfilling the needs of shutting down this network if there is not access to their weapons programs, their officials, or to Khan himself?

Wolf: Both through our dialogue with [Pakistan] and through other means. I think we will have a good view as to whether or not they are cooperating. The Khan network is not limited to Pakistan, and so we are active with the United Kingdom, the IAEA, and others in a variety of countries to deal with people and entities elsewhere around the world.

ACT: Why not press the Pakistanis to allow U.S. officials to interview Khan? The United States was very insistent with Iraq leading up to the war that it have the ability to talk to their weapons scientists. Why hasn't the United States had the same insistence when it comes to Pakistan, which is a U.S. ally?

Wolf: I think we have a continuing dialogue with Pakistan, and I'm not going to go into the details of it.

ACT: The practice of "naming names" is an important element of this administration's nonproliferation strategy. However, it has been used to publicly name those states suspected of illicit weapons programs rather than their suppliers. For instance, at the recent PrepCom there was some dancing around the fact of not calling on Russia or other European states explicitly for their involvement or ties to Iran. Why shouldn't suppliers be held as accountable as the recipients?

Wolf: We do hold them accountable. We do hold them accountable to the extent that, if sales of technology and technical assistance violate U.S. laws, we use sanctions, among other things, to take action against proliferators. If you look at the Federal Register, you will see more than several dozen sanctions cases that have been concluded within the last year. (See ACT, September 2003.) We have a very active dialogue with a whole variety of countries when we see entities engaged within a country in proliferation activities. I suppose we have nonproliferation dialogues with a dozen or more countries.

ACT: Russia and Chinese entities regularly appear on the list of sanctioned parties. Are these companies acting independently of their government? Is this something where there government is not enforcing their own export controls or turning a blind eye toward these activities?

Wolf: It would be best to say they are not enforcing adequately their export controls. China now has a new set of export controls. (See ACT, January/February 2004.) One would assume that with the new export controls-if one assumes that it's not with the acquiescence of the government, and I'm not saying it is or isn't-then that requires better enforcement. So, we are constantly working with countries like China, but not just China. We do export control cooperation with 40 some countries because your chain is only as strong as the weakest link. You identify China, but if you look at where A.Q. Khan purchased his goods, he worked in Western Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. So, it is not any one country. We have a continuing dialogue with China, we have a continuing dialogue on export controls and enforcement with Russia, and we have these dialogues with 40 some other countries.

ACT: Does the United States support China's bids to join the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and the NSG?

Wolf: NSG, yes. MTCR, I do not think we have taken a decision on that yet.

ACT: In an address to the PrepCom, you called on Pakistan and India, who are obviously not parties to the NPT, to refrain from deploying or testing additional nuclear weapons because this would undermine the nonproliferation regime. Why doesn't U.S. research into new nuclear weapons undercut the nonproliferation regime as well?

Wolf: We have a nuclear stockpile. It actually includes low-yield weapons, and the research and development is simply related to whether they are effective in the configuration they are in. We have made no decision to build a new weapon. We certainly have not tested a new weapon. This is a research and development process. I think there is a clear difference between our nuclear weapons stockpile and the question of deploying weapons and nuclear missiles in a volatile region like South Asia.

ACT: Talking about the non-NPT states, obviously you have two of the tougher diplomatic assignments in Washington: the Middle East Peace Process and nonproliferation. As you probably know, Tom Graham , a former acting director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, says that its time for Israel to abandon its policy of nuclear ambiguity and declare its nuclear capability. How do you think such an action would affect the nonproliferation regime and the Middle East peace effort?

Wolf: I was not aware that the U.S. government was taking a view on the Israeli nuclear ambiguity so I probably cannot comment on Tom Graham's suggestion because then I would be unambiguous.

ACT: You and other U.S. officials have declared that Libya should serve as a model for both Iran and North Korea. Do you think it is realistic for Iran and North Korea to follow the Libyan example when those two states have completely different relationships and different sets of circumstances with the United States and the world than Libya did?

Wolf: Each one of those is different too. But our message in the six-party talks is that the path for North Korea toward integration in the international community starts with complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of its weapons and [weapons] program. And they get something specific back for it from those important neighbors who they claim are a threat. But they have to start with the first step. If Iran's original concern was that Iraq was developing a nuclear weapon-as it appears that it was-then that program is null and void.

ACT: Going back to the previous question, [Iran] often cites the Israeli nuclear program.

Wolf: I think it is pretty unlikely that Israel is going to attack Iran in an unprovoked way. But a country, which consorts with terrorists, has an active [weapons of mass destruction] relationship with North Korea, has traditionally had kind of expansionist influence in its region, and the size of Iran, with nuclear weapons and missiles would be dangerous in the region and dangerous to all of us.

ACT: Does the United States support the European Union's efforts to engage Iran by linking a potential trade agreement to Iran's compliance with its safeguards agreement?

Wolf: I shouldn't speak for the EU, but I think the decision to hold up the trade and cooperation agreement was based on a number of issues, including concern about Iran's proliferation and human rights. The initiative by France, Germany, and the United Kingdom is quite different. (See ACT, November 2003.) All I would say about that initiative is that, to date, there are no signs that Iran is complying with it, as the initiative was originally described to us, and no signs that the initiative has had any palpable effect on Iran's strategic decision to continue forward toward a nuclear weapons capability.

ACT: Are you saying it is essentially a pointless exercise that they are engaged in?

Wolf: I did not say that. I said, so far it has had no palpable affect. We think Iran is still moving in the direction of a nuclear weapons capability. I guess it would be better to say we cannot measure what impact it has had because it has led to a suspension of some things for now, but we still believe that Iran continues some clandestine efforts, not withstanding their commitments to the EU or the IAEA.

ACT: Specifically on that, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Semmel stated April 29 that "there is strong reason to question whether [Iran's additional protocol to its IAEA safeguards agreement] is being fully implemented as Iran claims." What is the strong reason, i.e., what is the evidence that they are not implementing the additional protocol?

Wolf: Because we have good reason to believe it.

ACT: I assume that means it is some sort of intelligence information?

Wolf: Well, no. It is good reasons.

ACT: The United States has repeatedly called on the IAEA Board of Governors to refer the Iran issue to the Security Council so that "appropriate measures" could be taken. What types of measures does the United States want the Security Council to take with regard to Iran?

Wolf: We believe that the IAEA Board of Governors has a responsibility [to report noncompliance to the Security Council]. In essence, they found noncompliance with safeguards obligations as long ago as last November. (See ACT, December 2003.) So, if the treaty architecture is to have any validity and have any strength when noncompliance takes place, [the noncompliance] needs to be reported. What the Security Council might do is still a bit of a hypothetical, but it would be far too simplistic to say that the only option would be to impose sanctions. There are a whole variety of things the council could do.

ACT: Such as?

Wolf: As a first step, I expect that it would add its political voice, the voice of the Security Council, in calling for Iran to adhere to its treaty obligation. That would be an important additional political fact that might help wavering countries, which have not yet accepted the noncompliance, to see that, in fact, there has been noncompliance.

ACT: Given that the council took no action after the Board of Governors referred the North Korean case in February 2003, why is the United States pursuing this course with Iran?

Wolf: We think it is important for the IAEA Board to take decisions where it has a responsibility to take decisions. We think it is important for the Security Council to act. We don't want to give up an important tool of the international architecture. It is always perplexing that, when the United States chooses to do something bilaterally or [multilaterally] outside an established international treaty then we are called unilateralists. But when we say we believe that the multilateral system should address real issues consistent with treaty obligations and the UN charter, people ask us why we are doing it.

ACT: What will the administration do in the event [the Iranian case] is referred to the Security Council and the Security Council does not act?

Wolf: We hope that the international community will take its responsibilities seriously.

ACT: Speaking of North Korea, the United States has said that North Korea's dismantlement of its nuclear programs will yield benefits. Is the United States prepared to specify the benefits that North Korea will gain?

Wolf: Yeah, but probably not in Arms Control Today.

ACT: In the six-party working group talks, is there some element of this that is being conveyed in more specific terms that has not been given publicly?

Wolf: I'm sure [U.S. envoy] Joseph DeTrani will be glad to speak about what he spoke about after he has spoken.

ACT: Along those lines, there has been some discussion to provide North Korea with a written security assurance. How much progress would North Korea have to make in dismantling its programs to receive this assurance?

Wolf: I am sure these are all issues that will be fully discussed in the various rounds of the working groups and the plenary.

ACT: Let me ask one thing on your speech at the PrepCom. You said, "Should the DPRK do so, the United States stands ready to reduce its sanctions as North Korea takes steps to address our concerns." Does this signal that North Korea will not have to completely dismantle its nuclear programs before receiving benefits from the United States?

Wolf: I am sure my statement meant exactly what it said.

ACT: One other question on North Korea. You described North Korea as an urgent challenge at the PrepCom, yet this administration seems to be plodding along with periodic meetings taking place several months apart. Why doesn't the pace of talks match that of the rhetoric that time is running short? Is the United States prepared to accept a nuclear-armed North Korea for the time being?

Wolf: Just because the six parties get together at the intervals they do does not mean that there is not a lot of working taking place between the meetings. There is. There is a very constant diplomacy taking place.

ACT: With North Korea or among the other five states?

Wolf: There is a very constant diplomacy taking place.

ACT: The United States is calling for the ratification of the additional protocol by every state by the end of 2005 as a condition for it to be eligible for nuclear trade. How is the United States expecting to accomplish this? Is this going to be something that is determined by the NSG, or is this adding a provision to the NPT? What is the process?

Wolf: I suspect that we would like to see the nuclear suppliers all have a common position.

ACT: When you say nuclear suppliers, are you referring to the group itself or also including those countries that are outside the regime such as India and Pakistan, that are becoming second tier suppliers to programs around the world?

Wolf: To whom?

ACT: Well, with Pakistan you have the Khan network operating from its territory.

Wolf: Well, the Khan network was not government policy. It was private capitalism. India? Is India helping anybody?

ACT: I am not certain that they are, but given that these countries have the capabilities, the material, and the technologies, is it enough just to have the NSG…

Wolf: I am not aware that either of those countries have any intentions to export.

ACT: So, right now the focus is on getting the Nuclear Suppliers Group to make a decision.

Wolf: Right.

ACT: And similarly along those lines, the other major proposal that you spoke about earlier is the denial of enrichment and reprocessing capabilities to those states that do not already possess fully functioning facilities and those that are not in compliance with the NPT. Is this something that will be done through the NSG then as well?

Wolf: We are working in a variety of settings to build support for that proposal. Ultimately, it might come to the NSG, but that is not the only place in which we are addressing it. We are addressing it bilaterally and in other groups. We will address it again in the NSG as we did in March at the experts meeting.

ACT: Another proposal is the creation of a special committee of the IAEA to focus on compliance and enforcement. There is also the call to prohibit countries suspected of or found to be violating their NPT commitments not to sit on the IAEA Board of Governors. My understanding is that some countries have referred to those proposals as being dead in the water right now. Is that the case? Is the United States going to continue to promote these two initiatives?

Wolf: Some people may think they are dead in the water, but we continue to promote them. I am sure we will come back to them both at the board and this fall at the [General Assembly].

ACT: Is there anything that we did not touch upon that you would like to expand upon or say for the record? This is your chance to get in the last word.

Wolf: No. You have asked a lot of questions. It is never a good policy to volunteer information.

ACT: Thank you.

Interviewed by Wade Boese and Miles A. Pomper

Subject Resources:

Interview with State Department Policy Planning Director Mitchell Reiss



April 9, 2004
Paul Kerr and Miles Pomper

ACT: You've spoken recently about the prospects for reaching a breakthrough in talks over North Korea's nuclear program. One of the tools that was advanced during these six-party talks to move things forward was the use of working groups and yet there doesn't seem to be, at least publicly, any movement on having these groups meet. Is there more happening behind the scenes than we know about?

Reiss: The past two days, April 7 and 8, there were trilateral meetings between the United States, South Korea, and Japan in San Francisco. And out of that meeting came the hope that we would be able to stand up the working group with all six members, by the end of this month, or early May. And so there has been a lot of diplomatic movement. It's not easy to coordinate among the five and North Korea, in order to organize this. But we've been very busy trying to make sure that we maintain the momentum from the six-party talks that took place in February.

ACT: What would you hope to gain from these talks?

Reiss: I think what needs to take place are extended conversations among the six. We certainly have strong viewpoints on certain issues like CVID [complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear weapons program]. It's understood that other parties also have concerns that need to be aired. None of these discussions can take place by just having brief meetings. It really needs to be an extended conversation of probing of views. But really at the first level, it's more of an explanation and exchange of information: requesting clarification from the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea or North Korea] as to what exactly it means when it says X, Y, or Z. And that, of course, leads to additional questions. And so that's the type of extended conversation that the six parties really need to have to get a better fix on what outstanding differences there may be, and whether it's possible to reach a diplomatic solution as the president has said he wants to do.

ACT: In your 1995 book, Bridled Ambition, you criticize the Clinton administration for not having anyone in charge, especially prior to Robert Gallucci's appointment. You suggested that a "single senior official invested with presidential authority could have disciplined the unwieldy bureaucracy, set straight policy priorities, and shaped a more consistent U.S. approach." Why has the current administration not done this?

Reiss: Well, let me challenge a couple of the assumptions. First of all, I think the situation today is different. We're in a different place than we were in '93, '94. I think that there has been a single person in charge of this policy, and it's been the president of the United States. It was his decision that we should not do this in a bilateral manner. That had been tried and shown to fail before. So the president set out the policy guidance and said it had to take place in a multilateral fashion so that other countries in the region could be invested in the success of this process. And so from day one, he has been setting policy. And, as I said earlier, he's made it clear that he would very much prefer a diplomatic solution.

ACT: But you must realize the president has got a lot of other things on his plate, and is not going to be responsible for actually carrying out the negotiations like Gallucci or someone like Bill Perry , who went over there and had discussions with people. Is it fair to say that there's been a significant amount of conflict within the administration at times on how to approach this issue?

Reiss: Well, let me say that the president's chief foreign policy advisor, the Secretary of State [Colin Powell], has been very clear in terms of his guidance that he's given the building. The State Department has taken the lead on this issue. And media reports of differences are just an occupational hazard here in Washington. Sometimes we tend to focus more on the personalities and the conflicts, and it really caricatures the issues. And it's not surprising that there should be disagreement - it'd be a little surprising if there was complete consensus on any foreign policy issue. So part of the job is to try and make sure that all views are reflected and we come to a single position. And we've done that as we entered the six-party process. And we'll continue to have a vigorous discussion as we go forward with the working groups. But I don't think that that's unusual. I don't think it's unique to this administration.

ACT: In your March 12 speech to the Heritage Foundation, and again today, you talked about Libya as an example for the North Koreans. There's some pretty obvious differences in the strategic and political situations of Libya and North Korea. Why do you believe North Korea will follow Libya's lead? I mean Libya didn't face a sworn enemy for fifty years, for instance?

Reiss: Well, I don't know North Korea will follow Libya's lead. What Libya did was make a strategic determination that it would have a better future-a more secure, a more prosperous future-if it abandoned its weapons of mass destruction. What we're doing now in terms of our diplomacy with Libya is to ensure that that in fact comes true: that there are tangible and intangible benefits for Libya-with us, with our European partners, with Libya's neighbors in the region- as it is welcomed back into the community of nations.

Now North Korea certainly is located in a different place geographically, but I think it faces the same type of strategic decision. Does it want a different future for its people? Is it willing to live in peace and security with its neighbors? [North Korea's leader] Kim Jong Il faces a choice. He can continue to depend on the kindness of strangers, overseeing a devastated economy with an isolated population, or he can join the 21st century. He also has an historic opportunity to do what his father never did, which is to create a stable, peaceful relationship with all his neighbors. That's one of the great benefits of the six-party format. It's one-stop shopping for North Korea. If they want to chart a new course, we want to help them get there. The South Koreans want to help them get there. The Japanese, Chinese, and Russians want to help them get there. It's up to Kim Jong Il to make that decision, and we can't make that for him. What we can do is to explain as clearly as possible what the benefits would be of him going down one path, and what the potential consequences would be if he chooses another path.

ACT: The administration has repeatedly said that six-party talks are better than, or will be more effective than, the Agreed Framework because it could lead to a multilateral versus a bilateral agreement. But the Agreed Framework involved not only the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) , but its implementation also included the EU, South Korea, Japan, and about a dozen other countries. Why do you think the differences are that significant between the Agreed Framework and the six-party talks?

Reiss: I think you're conflating two different entities. The negotiations that led to the Agreed Framework were bilateral, and had implications for the IAEA and for Japan and South Korea. But the other entity that I think you're referring to was KEDO [The Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization ] which was a follow-on to the Agreed Framework and did involve many countries, including the Europeans, as a member of the four man executive board.

The Agreed Framework itself was negotiated solely by the United States and the North Koreans. And at the time, the South Koreans and Japanese were extremely concerned - and in fact resentful - of the fact that the United States was negotiating the future of the Korean peninsula, with them not in the room. They were on the outside looking in. And I think that's clear if you talk to any of the principals who were involved at the time.

So there was a sort of a structural problem, right there from the start, that the United States was negotiating the future of the peninsula without the key neighbors involved directly in the negotiations. That's not happening here. What happened back then is that the North Koreans would then try and play South Korea off the United States-the United States off Japan, Japan off South Korea-to try and drive wedges, and try and create differences, and try and increase their negotiating room with all of these countries, in order to enhance their position.

They can't do that in the six-party format. They have to give the same message to all of us. All of us have to hear it at the same time. There's utility in forcing them to be a little bit franker, a little bit more open and candid and honest, than they were when they could play one off the other. And so just in terms of a diplomatic structure, we think that this enhances our ability to reach the objective that all five parties - save North Korea - in the last round of talks, went on record as stating, which is a complete dismantlement of all of North Korea's nuclear weapons programs.

ACT: So you're saying that you're prepared to accept maybe slower progress up front, because you feel that any agreement will be easier to implement once it's carried out because you've got everyone in the room?

Reiss: I'm not sure I understand what you mean. You mean the negotiation part of this?

ACT: Yes, the negotiations. Presumably if you just have two countries doing the negotiations you may be able to do things a little faster than with six.

Reiss: I'm not sure you can do anything quickly or easily with the North. They're very careful, they're very methodical. They're extremely patient. And I'm not sure that whether it's a two-man game or a six-man game that it makes any difference in terms of the pace or speed of the negotiations. What it does mean is that we're able to present a united front against the D.P.R.K. side, and I think they're feeling the pressure. We were ready to go to a second round at the end of last year. It was the North that was delaying. That's why we didn't get there until the end of February. So, we've been willing to engage; they've been the ones that have been reluctant. And I think they realize that the other five countries are lined up against them, because all five are opposed to North Korea having nuclear weapons.

ACT: Why is it that the North Koreans would be less likely to renege on an agreement made in this format than they were on the Agreed Framework?

Reiss: Well, I'm not sure that they will be. Any agreement that you have isn't going to be based on North Korea's intentions or trust. It's going to have to be verified independently. And that's true for whatever agreement that you have with the North Koreans. So, in a sense, the verification piece is irrelevant to the format issue.

Then why is this format better?

Reiss: The format's better because it gives us a much stronger hand to play when going to the North Koreans unified, with our allies and partners in the region, all of us saying the same thing: telling them their current course is unacceptable.

ACT: Sure, but it was not the case, prior to the Agreed Framework, that any country was saying that it's okay for North Korea to have nuclear weapons, was it? The South Koreans weren't saying that, the Japanese weren't saying that…

Reiss: A couple of things were happening. First of all, there were different threat assessments at the time. The other countries did not share the same concern the United States had in the early '90's - that North Korea actually had an ongoing nuclear weapons program. That was one. Two was that some of the countries, to use an economics term, were free riders. They would rather the United States play the bad cop, and they could play the good cop - let the United States do all the heavy lifting here. And yes, they shared our concern, but perhaps they didn't share it to the same extent because of the threat assessment. Or perhaps they didn't share it at all, but they were happy that the United States wanted to go ahead and deal with North Korea, that was fine.

Fundamentally we're in a different position now, and I think we've seen in particular an evolution of the Chinese position. Whereas a few years ago I think they saw themselves as facilitators, over the last year, early last year, I think they changed conceptually into a role as a mediator. And what we've been seeing more and more, especially over the last six months, is an evolution into their role as a direct participant, because they realize that their national security interests are fundamentally at stake if North Korea becomes a full-fledged nuclear weapons state. And that evolution is helpful, because South Korea and China have the most leverage, short of the use of military force against North Korea. They have the most influence on the North. And so to get them on board with the United States, Japan, and Russia gives us much more weight in these negotiations.

ACT: Is it the claim then that the lack of Chinese involvement in the past is what enabled North Korea to pursue an HEU [highly enriched uranium] program and violate the Agreed Framework?

Reiss: I don't know who's made that claim.

ACT: Well, I'm just trying to understand why… because the problem with the Agreed Framework as I understand it is the reason that the North Koreans were able to violate it is with their HEU program. That's why I'm trying to understand why that's less likely to happen.

Reiss: They were violating the plutonium program.

ACT: The Agreed Framework?


ACT: That they restarted their plutonium [reactor]?

Reiss: What time period are we talking about?

ACT: In October 2002, at the start of the recent dispute…

Reiss: Information coalesced during the summer of 2002 that they had an enrichment program.

ACT: Correct, which was in violation of the Agreed Framework.

Reiss: Assistant Secretary Kelly confronted them in October. Okay, now that had been taking place, we think, for a period of years. Now, you go back to the Agreed Framework and you look at what was agreed in terms of access by the IAEA to the facilities at Yongbyon. And the IAEA was not granted access to the isotope production laboratory, which they should have been- a violation of the Agreed Framework and the understanding subsequent of the IAEA. Okay, that took place in '95, '96, '97, '98. It didn't become public until later.

ACT: OK, is the argument then that that is less likely to happen because of China and South Korea presenting this united front against…

Reiss: I think you're conflating the verification piece with the negotiation phase of this issue.

ACT: I understand that, but the agreement would obviously provide for some sort of verification that has to be worked out, and is it more likely that the North Koreans will agree to that, do you think, with the involvement of China, South Korea, and the other countries?

Reiss: Yes, I think it's more likely, but again there's absolutely no certainty that the North Koreans will agree to it. Again, I think we have much greater diplomatic weight by having all of us sit on the same side of the table wanting the same thing, and putting it to the North Koreans.

ACT: I think this is actually a good point to transition to a broader question. The question of verification is at the heart of some of the problems of the NPT [nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty] more generally, not just North Korea, as is the question of enrichment facilities What are your ideas on coping with this problem in the long term?

Reiss: Well, the place to start really is with the president's address at NDU [National Defense University] on February 11, where he identified a number of measures that need to be adopted in order to enhance both our nonproliferation efforts and global nonproliferation efforts. And let me just go down a quick check-list of them: it was expanding PSI [Proliferation Security Initiative]; it was criminalizing proliferation activities through a UN Security Council resolution; it was highlighting the accomplishment of the administration at the G-8 Summit in Canada in getting a commitment of $10 billion from the United States plus $10 billion from the other G-8 partners over a period of 10 years; it was reinterpreting Article IV in terms of enrichment and fuel services for countries and the conditions under which those should take place in the 21st century; and it was calling for an expansion of the Additional Protocol , and using that ratification as a condition of countries giving civilian nuclear assistance to other countries. I think all of those were important steps that were taken. And I think this administration has done a number of things that really aren't yet sufficiently appreciated in terms of its support for the IAEA, in terms of budgetary support, significantly increasing the budget - especially the safeguards budget for the first time in decades - making a significant increase there. And PSI is important for its ability to capture people that are violating international rules and regulations, its deterrent effect, and I think third and intangibly but importantly, its ability to highlight the lack of enforcement in the international regime, and really the need to consider creative ways to enforce the rules and law against violators. And PSI scores on all three counts-capture, deterrence, and addressing the enforcement issue, which I think is essential.

ACT: We've certainly taken note of the president's speech. But what is going to happen in terms of follow-up? For example, is there going to be a UN resolution on PSI? As you know one of the problems is, how do you deal with interdiction on the high seas, which is not permitted under the current draft of the resolution. The PSI part was dropped out of that, from what I understand, at Chinese insistence.

Will there only be Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) agreements on these things since that obviously leaves out some important countries such as Pakistan, which is the root of the problem? And there are number of other questions along these lines.

Reiss: In terms of the high seas, talk to Undersecretary of State John Bolton about that . I think he also has a good argument in terms of boarding ships on the high seas under a self-defense rationale. I think the larger point that I'd like to make, so I'm just going to reinterpret your question, is if we look out over the next 20-30 years. How can we continue to be as successful, or more successful than we've been?

First of all we have to recognize that despite all the problems - and in some cases failures - that this regime has been much more successful, much more resilient, than people had anticipated. And of course the best known quote is from President Kennedy with his nightmare scenario: 20-30 nuclear weapon states by the mid-'70s. We have been very fortunate in not having that nightmare vision realized. We need to understand that a lot of the basic structures and programs are already in place. And so job number one is to make sure that we shore those up, make sure that we reinforce them, make sure they're maintained and improved. And again, the administration has been very good in terms of funding, especially the IAEA, in this regard.

We've also developed new programs, as I mentioned, PSI. But with lots of good ideas, implementation is the key, and so we need to keep our eye on the ball as we go forward and make sure that people honor their pledges in terms of financial commitments, and that we actually use this money so that it makes a real difference. The IAEA needs to continue to be strengthened. We're coming up to the NPT review conference, obviously that is important. We think we have a very good position going into the conference in terms of the accomplishments the administration can point to under Article VI . We also think that it's necessary to have a broad discussion of Article IV and the so-called inalienable right of countries to acquire the entire fuel cycle. Does that make sense in the 21st century, with all the threats that are now out there? And that's an important conversation to have.

ACT: Is it just a discussion or will there be some attempt to modify the NPT, or any specific proposal?

Reiss: I don't know of any attempt to try and amend the NPT. But I think that you can reinterpret provisions. But before you do that, you need to have a broad-based discussion and conversation with all the members. The Nuclear Suppliers Group is one area the president highlighted in his speech that's extremely important and that needs to be improved. The A. Q. Khan network really highlighted that.

Looking out again towards the future, one of the things I think about is when it comes to this revival with civilian nuclear power: how can we manage a possible upsurge in the civilian nuclear industry without creating the anxiety on the proliferation front that took place in the mid to late 1970s after the oil shock, when civilian nuclear power became much more popular, much more fashionable. It's possible with developments in China and in East Asia that civilian nuclear power will become again much more popular. So I'm repeating myself, but how do we manage that so that it doesn't lead to proliferation anxiety?

The nexus between terrorism and nuclear weapons, or even nuclear material, is obviously a current concern. I think its going to be with us for a very long time. The administration has a policy to try to capture radioactive material. We just need to push forward with that.

One of the things that I'm also concerned about is what I call "just in time" proliferation. And it's based on a manufacturing concept that was developed by William Deming and first adopted by the Japanese, and then much more broadly by the rest of the world. And it has to do with having no inventory or stockpiles on the shelf, but items arrive as you need to build your product. What that means is that it's much more difficult to actually find stockpiles of already built weapons. It's much more difficult to track supply lines because they're all disparate, and they only come together for a very short period of time right before a country is actually going to build something. The concept works beautifully in the private sector, and there's no reason why it can't work for the bad guys. But this will create enormous challenges for the IAEA, for the Nuclear Suppliers Group, for all the countries of the world, in order to prevent nuclear proliferation. And, in a sense, it's expected - it should be anticipated - because as we become more effective, as we become more successful in terms of stopping some of these things, we should expect the adversaries to adapt their tactics. So this is one of the tactics that I worry about as coming down the road. And as you think it through, it's going to require different types of efforts by existing institutions and programs in order to deal with it.

What kind of efforts or tools are you thinking of? For instance [former Iraq Survey Group lead inspector] David Kay and others have talked about the role of on-site inspections, and how that seems to them to be the most effective tool. Is that where you're coming from, or are there some other strategies?

Reiss: Well, on-site inspections certainly are important - essential in some cases. Still, there is a concern that you can inspect a place one day and there will be nothing there, and you come back the next week and everything will be there. And that's the whole idea behind the "just in time" concept. And that's going to require different mechanisms to try and prevent it from happening. And again, part of what I want to do in this interview is just start a conversation. We need to do a lot more thinking about how the regime is going to evolve, how the bad guys are going to adapt their tactics, and what measures we're going to need in order to go forward.

Then the final thing is enforcement. What happens when we actually catch somebody who has violated international law, rules, and regulations? And we've got a couple of important cases right now with North Korea and Iran. And so these are test cases to see how the international community and how the nonproliferation regime responds. And again to emphasize the point, this administration is neither unilateral nor preemptive. We are supporting the three European countries who are taking the lead with respect to Iran, we are supporting the efforts of the IAEA to deal with the very serious threat that Iran's nuclear program presents. And there's the six-party format for North Korea, again a multilateral approach seeking a diplomatic solution.

ACT: Speaking of enforcement, I don't know if its status has been clarified yet, but the last thing I heard is that North Korea still had not technically withdrawn, or its withdrawal had not been accepted, from the NPT. So even though they could be subject to more sanctions, nothing has been done in the Security Council which is where you would usually expect action against a state in noncompliance with its NPT obligations. Am I right? And if so, is that a concern given the issue of enforcement?

Reiss: My understanding is their noncompliance was referred to the Security Council in 2003, and that it has not yet been taken up by the Security Council. This administration, under the instructions of the president, is trying to seek a diplomatic solution. And I don't think any options are off the table, but I think the president's often-repeated preference is that he wants a diplomatic solution. So, that's what we're trying to do in the working group and the six-party talks.

ACT: It seems like one of the things that's being rethought in broad terms with the nonproliferation treaty is the role of Article IV and Article VI. But weren't those two articles the main incentives to get other countries to accept a treaty that let five states have nuclear weapons when no one else really could?

Reiss: This is a point I've tried to emphasize in a speech I gave on the 50th anniversary of Atoms for Peace at the Woodrow Wilson Center December 9, and it is that non-nuclear status is not a present that the non-nuclear-weapons states give the nuclear states. It is fundamentally, existentially, in their own interest that they and their neighbors do not acquire nuclear weapons. They are the most vulnerable members of the international community, and therefore the NPT is, above all, in their interests, more so than the nuclear-weapons states' interests. And so the idea that somehow they're making a concession or giving us, bestowing a gift upon the nuclear weapons states by adhering to non-nuclear-weapon status I just think is erroneous. I don't think it's logical. Fundamentally, the NPT is important for international stability and security. But, in terms of which countries benefit most, it's the non-nuclear-weapons states that benefit most from it. So I just want to be cautious in saying that Article VI was in return for Article IV, or Article IV was in return for Article VI. There are fundamental reasons why countries sign up to the NPT that have nothing to do with whether the United States or Soviet Union had 20,000 nuclear weapons or 5,000 nuclear weapons.

Well, my question is if we don't stick to Article IV what do we give non-nuclear-weapon states to overcome their objections? -What's the practical politics of getting them to accept the changes we want to the treaty?

Reiss: The president was very clear in saying that he thought that the private industry should be the ones that adjust their rules of engagement on supplying fuel to certain countries. So it wasn't within an NPT framework.

ACT: Getting back to North Korea, in your speech you also seem to suggest that the North Korean regime could fall apart in the event that it refused to make certain changes. That is if they failed to change their economic policies. But the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research told Congress within the past year that North Korea's not at risk of imminent collapse . What is the basis for believing that North Korea will change its behavior in order to avoid political and economic collapse when no such collapse is likely?

Reiss: North Korea surprised many who predicted that it would collapse in the mid-90s after Kim Il Sung died, and then they went through a very difficult period in terms of their inability to feed their own people. I think during the '96, '97, '98 period, an estimated one to two million North Koreans died of starvation or malnourishment, malnutrition, or a disease related to that. [Still] I don't think anybody is optimistic about the long term future of the North Korean economy. They may be muddling through right now, but it's unclear whether the minimal economic reforms that they've adopted are really a long-term solution to their problems. They still can't feed themselves. They're still dependent on the generosity of the World Food Program and all those who donate to the World Food Program in order to feed their own people. That's job number one for any regime, especially one in Asia.
So even if there's not an imminent collapse, it isn't a particularly attractive future when you look out over the next five to ten years if you're sitting in Pyongyang, if you continue to pursue the course you've been on. There is a different future that is available to North Korea, if they choose differently.

ACT: Is there a red line over which the United States will not allow North Korea to go? Last fall, Secretary Powell seemed to indicate that nuclear testing isn't a red line. So what is?

Reiss: Well, I didn't see the quote, so I can't comment on that. But I don't think it's in any country's interest to conduct a nuclear weapons test, especially North Korea. Let's just leave it at that.

ACT: Vis-à-vis Iran, what's the expectation for the June meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors?

Reiss: Well, there was a March 13 statement resolution by the board of governors which strongly criticized Iranian behavior and the lack of candor in their statements about their program. The delay in allowing inspectors to enter the country, the announcement about Esfahan, I think are further indications that Iran has still not made a strategic determination to surrender its nuclear program. What we appear to be seeing are tactical maneuvers to do as little as possible to avoid censure. The Director General's report will be very important in assessing the extent to which Iran has complied with its obligations, and the matter will be taken up at the June board meeting.

Interviewed by Paul Kerr and Miles Pomper

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Interview with Assistant Secretary of State for Verification and Compliance Paula DeSutter



March 12, 2004
Wade Boese and Miles Pomper

ACT: The bureau that you're in charge of, the Bureau of Verification and Compliance, became operational in February 2000. Could you explain to our readers what the bureau does, its responsibilities, and so on?

DeSutter: The Verification and Compliance Bureau has three primary missions. One, we assess other nations' compliance with their arms control and nonproliferation agreements and commitments. We provide those assessments on a day-to-day basis within the department. We also prepare the president's annual report to Congress on adherence to and compliance with agreements. We're a little late with the next version of the publication, but it is something that we prepare. We try to make sure it is a high-quality product that includes rigorous assessment of all the available intelligence weighed against the existing obligations and commitments.

The second mission that we have is that when arms control or nonproliferation agreements are being considered, proposed, negotiated, we try to make sure that we are involved early on to make the agreement or commitment as verifiable as possible. A lot of times people think that depends on whether or not the agreement has onsite inspection measures. Actually, very often the difference between a more or less verifiable agreement can be in how it's worded because these agreements or commitments are expressed in words. Some words are easier to understand so that everybody understands what the commitment is. We also will work closely with the intelligence community to make sure that we have the capabilities to monitor the agreement, and will try to structure an agreement so that we can enhance the intelligence capabilities that we have to give us the data that we are looking for.

Third, we are the principal policy liaison to the intelligence community for verification and compliance matters. That means we work closely with the intelligence community. We participate in their interagency groups. We look at various collection systems to make sure that we are retaining capabilities that we need for verification, and that-as we look into the future-we are going after the types of capabilities that will make us the most effective in our verification mission. So those are the three principle functions of the bureau.

ACT: Does the bureau monitor weapons programs of states that are not party to various arms control treaties?

DeSutter: We are mindful of them. Our report, generally speaking, does not include those, although we do participate in the review of activities for sanctions purposes. There may be applicable sanctions laws for those countries, and so we'll be mindful of those, as well. In addition, should there be a future commitment or agreement with those countries, we want to have been monitoring their activities and understand where they are.

ACT: What treaties and initiatives is the bureau currently verifying?

DeSutter: First and foremost, we are working to verify the Libyan commitment to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction programs and missiles of the range of those addressed in the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). That's been our primary focus since December when Libya made its commitment. But we also focus on the Biological Weapons Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the CFE [Conventional Armed Forces in Europe] Treaty and associated documents, the Nonproliferation Treaty, the Limited Test Ban Treaty, Open Skies, START, the Moscow Treaty, the INF Treaty, the Threshold Test Ban Treaty, and PNI [Presidential Nuclear Initiatives initiated by U.S. President George H.W. Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin].

ACT: What about the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI)? Are you involved in that activity at all?

DeSutter: We are not very involved in PSI. That's primarily led out of Undersecretary [of State for Arms Control and International Security John] Bolton's office with the assistance of the Nonproliferation Bureau.

ACT: How exactly do you verify these arms control agreements? In other words, what are the tools that you use to gather information on other countries' weapons programs? Without disclosing state secrets, of course.

DeSutter: We review all-source intelligence on the activities in question. We may notice the intelligence in raw reporting ourselves or the intelligence community may give us a heads-up that there is activity of concern. We will then examine the relevant obligations. If it rises to the level of a concern, we will begin drafting an analysis that probably will eventually make it into the annual noncompliance report. If there is any inspection data, we will review that as well.

ACT: Speaking of the annual noncompliance report, as you alluded to before, since the Bush administration has come into office only one such report has been submitted. Why is that?

When I got here there was a draft report that had been not completed. We went through it one more time and I analyzed it to see what improvements needed to be made in it. That report was submitted in June of last year. That report had always been prepared at the secret level with one or two annexes at a higher classification. It was my view that what was needed was to make sure that the report included all the relevant intelligence. Most of the relevant intelligence, especially in the proliferation area, is above the classification that the report was previously prepared at. We undertook new reviews of the intelligence across the board so it's a pretty comprehensive report. [The latest version] is in the clearance process. Frankly, we are a very small bureau with only a few people that work very hard and a lot of our attention has been focused on Libya rather than getting the report done.

ACT: What period will this new report cover? The previous report covers December '00 to December '01.

DeSutter: There is a cut-off date, but what I have told people is that we need to be up-to-date. For example, clearly we need to update the draft that we have written with the information we've gotten from Libya.

ACT: You said that the classification level of the report is going up. Is there going to be an unclassified version released?

DeSutter: There will still be an unclassified version. But whereas before the analysis was primarily done at the secret level, which means you couldn't include all of the available intelligence, it was only that data that was going to enlighten the unclassified findings. Now what we're trying to do is to increase the amount of information that's being used to develop the findings. The obligations are still going to stay the same, but the data that's going to be the basis of those findings will be enhanced. I think it will make it an even more rigorous report. What we've lost in timeliness will be made up for in quality.

ACT: When do you expect this latest version to be submitted?

DeSutter: I am hoping it will be submitted this summer.

ACT: One tool available to the United States to compel other states to comply with their treaty obligations is sanctions. This administration has imposed sanctions on foreign entities at a significantly greater rate than its predecessor.


ACT: Why is that?

DeSutter: Because a) we believe that the laws exist for a reason and that they should be fully implemented, and b) because we believe that we need to change the cost-benefit analysis of proliferators. We need to impose costs-the costs available in the form of sanctions laws-like every other tool we have available to us to try to stem the tide of proliferation.

ACT: And is there evidence to suggest that these sanctions are effective?

DeSutter: I believe there is. The sanctions that existed on Libya, for example, were certainly a significant element of the Libyan decision to give up their weapons of mass destruction programs. Colonel Moammar Gaddafi last week made it pretty clear that it wasn't that anyone else had imposed sanctions, it was that [Libyan] activities had brought the sanctions upon them. Those were clearly costly [to Libya], and removing those sanctions was a goal that they were seeking. In other cases, it's fair to assume that sanctions are having some effect.

At the same time, there are some foreign entities that have been sanctioned multiple times. It seems like they are not getting the hint. Does that really suggest that sanctions can be effective, if you have the same entities doing the same things over and over again?

It means that we have not been effective enough with regard to that particular entity. On the other hand, we are learning in the Libya case [that] their chemical program was impeded because it was difficult to obtain the best equipment. When the equipment came and wasn't what they needed, they really didn't have a complaint mechanism. So, what we do by these sanctions is we force countries into less effective acquisition routes. You do have the exception of the Khan network, which was selling pretty good stuff. But for the most part, you are forcing countries to do sub-optimal acquisition.

ACT: And that's what you consider an effective sanction? That's how you would measure the effectiveness?

The other measure is, does the country under sanctions understand that there is a cost associated with doing this? Countries have to make a choice between trading with the United States and trading with countries of proliferation concern.

The state that has had the most entities sanctioned by the administration is China. Over the past couple of months, China has initiated efforts to join both the MTCR and the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Is China's nonproliferation record good enough for it to join these two voluntary export control regimes?

That's under internal discussion within the U.S. government.

ACT: Can you give me some sense of what kind of steps China might need to take to prove that it is responsible enough to join these regimes?

DeSutter: I don't think that would be appropriate for me at this point.

ACT: With past Chinese proliferation, is it your assessment that it is one of the government not [effectively] enforcing its export controls, or is it one of the government turning its head?

DeSutter: Well, whichever it is, we have not seen a total cessation of the nature that we'd like.

ACT: In the wake of the recent Khan revelations, the United States has not imposed any sanctions on Pakistan. Why is that?

A.Q. Khan has been retired from the Pakistani government for some time from his major post. While I do not want to get into any detail, he certainly has been acting in his own interests rather than in the interests of the Pakistani government.

ACT: But as you recall, the president in his February 11th speech urged other states to get tough on proliferators. Does the US decision not to impose sanctions on Pakistan undermine the president's message?

DeSutter: I don't think so. I suppose others could have a different view. I don't think we can expect A.Q. Khan to be doing any more proliferation.

ACT: What about other members of his network? Is the United States confident that the network is now shut down? What steps are being taken to verify that the Khan network is no longer operating?

DeSutter: I'm really not in a position to discuss that.

ACT: Does the recent experience with Pakistan suggest that the United States should work harder to get its friends and allies, such as Pakistan and Israel, to grant greater transparency to their weapons programs, instead of simply focusing on states hostile to the United States?

DeSutter: I don't see how that follows from the Khan piece, but others might have different views.

Well, apparently the judgment was made that we didn't have a full understanding of what was going on with Khan's network until late in the game.

DeSutter: As the president noted in his [February 11] speech, Khan was producing equipment outside of Pakistan. Access to the Pakistani program wouldn't have necessarily given us insight into what was being produced in Malaysia.

ACT: Would access to these countries, though, provide us with greater confidence that they are not being used as a source for proliferators or that materials are not being diverted with or without their knowledge to potential proliferators?

DeSutter: Perhaps. I really would defer to my colleagues in the Nonproliferation Bureau.

ACT: Turning to Iran, what actions could Iran take to quell growing concerns about its nuclear program?

DeSutter: The primary step that Iran could take is to make a strategic commitment of the type Libya has made. That is: to give up its nuclear weapons program. Iran has not made such a decision.

Short of that, is ratifying and implementing the Additional Protocol sufficient for Iran to provide confidence that it is not illicitly pursuing nuclear weapons?

DeSutter: Let me point out that Libya had eliminated its nuclear weapons program prior to its adherence to the IAEA Additional Protocol this week. Iran can give up its nuclear weapons program independent of a decision to sign up to the Additional Protocol. The Additional Protocol might be a good step, but a better step is giving up its nuclear weapons ambitions.

Given that, if Iran does comply with the Additional Protocol, should it be allowed to possess enrichment and reprocessing capabilities?

DeSutter: My view is that Iran, by its actions, has given up the [right] to be treated as a trustworthy state.

ACT: What's the legal basis if you were going to try to deny these capabilities to Iran?

DeSutter: Article IV of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty provides for cooperation in peaceful nuclear programs so long as a country is in compliance with Article II. It will be difficult for Iran to give confidence that it is complying with Article II, particularly in the absence of a strategic commitment to do the type of forthcoming disclosure that we have seen from Libya.

ACT: What would that strategic commitment look like?

DeSutter: Libya serves as a good model. The Libyans said, "We are no longer going to have a nuclear weapons program." They invited the United States and the United Kingdom in. They gave the United States and the United Kingdom access to all facilities that we requested to see. They were willing to permit any tests that we wanted to conduct. They were willing to have their centrifuge program removed. They were willing to convert the Tajoura reactor from HEU [highly enriched uranium] to LEU [low enriched uranium]. They gave up their entire centrifuge program. Their transparency thus far has been complete. They also had in the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency]. My impression has been that they have given the IAEA access to whatever the IAEA asked for access to. There have not been time limits on how long the IAEA could be present. They have been very forthcoming.

In the chemical weapons area, we assisted them in drafting their declaration to the OPCW [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons]. They had the OPCW technical secretariat come in. On one occasion they said, "You know, we really hadn't told the others that came before, but there are some other munitions we need to show you." They took us to a facility that we almost certainly would not have been able to identify independently and showed us the unfilled munitions there. That is transparency. That is the kind of access that we are given when a country has made a strategic commitment. They volunteer information.

Currently no international body exists to monitor and verify threats posed by biological weapons and missiles. Does your recent experience with Libya suggest that such bodies are needed or would be helpful?

DeSutter: No.

ACT: Could you expand on that?

DeSutter: I think that biological weapons are one of the areas where an international body would not be very helpful.

Why is that?

DeSutter: Because, for example, what we are doing in Libya is talking to them and looking around. They have said that U.S. and U.K. experts can go anywhere they want to go and talk to anyone they want to talk to. That is not the kind of access and regime that you are going to have in a negotiated onsite inspection protocol.

ACT: What about for missiles?

DeSutter: Well, [the Libyans] certainly have been willing to give up their Scud-Cs. We would have to think about the missile side. Missiles are certainly easier to verify than biological [weapons].

ACT: At the same time, there isn't an international prohibition on missiles, just supply-side restraints through MTCR.

DeSutter: That's true.

ACT: In the absence of such an international body, would you need to develop a norm against international missile possession?

DeSutter: Yeah.

Looking back at Libya retrospectively, can you identify areas in which the United States and the international community could have improved its monitoring of Libyan weapons activities?

DeSutter: That is something that we are going to have to give some additional thought to. I'm sure that the IAEA is examining that very question right now.

ACT: Are there any other lessons learned from the actual dismantlement of Libya's programs?

DeSutter: Not yet, in the following sense. Libya made its commitment December 19th. We had the first group of U.S. and U.K. experts on the ground January 20th. It is now only March 12th. In that period of time, we have removed the Scud-Cs, the uranium enrichment program, including the uranium hexafluoride, and many other things. They have destroyed all of their unfilled chemical munitions. They have consolidated all of their agent and precursors into a safer location. We have been very busy. So, we are at the stage now where we need to begin thinking about what the lessons learned are. We want to have lessons learned from this because we want Libya to be a model for other countries. What has been accomplished with regard to Libyan weapons of mass destruction (WMD) elimination is breathtaking. It's time for us to stop, catch our breath, think about what all this means, and how we can apply these lessons elsewhere.

ACT: The flip side of the question is that you cited Libya as a possible model for the Iranians. They've also been cited as a possible model for the North Koreans. Is Libya's particular situation different-its political and strategic situation-in ways that allowed it to make this choice that would make it more difficult for North Korea that has been locked in a 50-year conflict with South Korea or an Iran that is in a dangerous neighborhood to make those choices?

DeSutter: I think one key difference is that both the North Korean and the Iranian programs are further advanced than the Libyan program. So, in that sense, there would be more to eliminate, although Libya was moving out smartly on its nuclear program. It's still a little hard for me to say this out loud, but Gaddafi got it right when he said that their WMD programs made them less secure not more secure. Iran, for example, has an awful lot of potential. And should it give up its support of terrorism, should it give up its WMD programs, I can imagine tremendous movement in terms of how close the United States would want to be to Iran; the kind of trade and people-to-people contacts that would greatly benefit Iran. I cannot imagine any scenario in which that decision would hurt Iran's security rather than help it. The same stands for North Korea. I do not think that South Korea has any intention, nor does Japan, and nor does the United States, of launching an attack against North Korea. I cannot see any [North Korean] national security needs that are enhanced by the North Korean nuclear program. I can see an awful lot of national needs that it has that would be best served by making a strategic commitment to give up its weapons of mass destruction. Gaddafi made the right choice for the Libyan people. It would be good if the governments of North Korea and Iran made the right decision for their people.

Some commentators have suggested that UNMOVIC proved itself in Iraq, and that it should now be converted into, or used as a model for, a permanent international arms inspection corps. What do you think of that idea?

DeSutter: I don't know why we need a permanent UN arms inspection corps.

ACT: It wouldn't be useful in a situation if Iran or North Korea gave up their weapons programs?

DeSutter: Not in my view. The way the Libya process worked was just fine.

ACT: So that's a no on the permanent inspection body?

DeSutter: I think no would be good, but the last time I just said no you were not very pleased with the answer.

We did an interview a couple of days ago with [Iraq Survey Group lead inspector] David Kay. Dr. Kay said, "International inspection is even more important now than it ever was. The on-the-ground examination of what's going on is irreplaceable as to what it can do. And so we've got to find a way to be sure that that inspection is well-equipped and well-funded, organized, and with maximum access possible, rather than believe that sitting back some place staring through space, or even with domestic export control laws, that you're going to be able to stop it that way." What is your reaction to Dr Kay's comments?

DeSutter: I have tremendous respect for David Kay. He did hard work in Iraq. Part of my answer is that even in Libya, where they had made the commitment, there is no substitute. No number of inspectors is an adequate substitute for a firm commitment on the part of the government to yield its weapons program.

Is it enough to constrain a weapons program though?

What do you mean?

ACT: Is the presence of inspectors enough to constrain a weapons program where it does not develop into one that is a threat to its neighbors or other countries?

DeSutter: It probably depends on how long an illicit program may have been underway, and what's being inspected.

The United States has accused other states of violating their commitments under the CWC not to possess chemical weapons. The CWC has a provision that permits challenge inspections. Yet, the United States has not called for a challenge inspection. Why is that?

DeSutter: The first thing that we generally do is we'll use the Article IX bilateral consultation mechanism to try to get a better understanding of where a program is. I think there is a growing consensus at the OPCW that is more favorable to challenge inspections. I favor using the challenge inspection mechanism more readily. Because it has not been used in the past, it becomes increasingly difficult to use it. So the question is, what standard of proof do you want to have before you actually ask for a challenge inspection? If you believe that you better have a case where you're absolutely positive that you're going to find evidence of noncompliance during that challenge inspection, you're going to make it so that you don't exactly need a challenge inspection. I think that the INF [Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces] Treaty model is a better model for how you want to regularize those sorts of things so that when you have a question or concern you go have a look under challenge inspection-type process without it being akin to a declaration of war.

When you say there's a greater consensus, does that mean other countries now share those views?

DeSutter: Yeah. It seemed that many of the European countries certainly thought that the challenge inspection process needed to be thought through.

Is that lack of support in the past been what's held up the challenge inspections?

DeSutter: I don't think that's been the only issue.

ACT: The latest arms reduction accord the United States negotiated with Russia, the Moscow Treaty, does not contain any new verification measures. How will the United States be able to verify that Russia is abiding by the terms of the accord?

DeSutter: We will be using our national technical means. We will also be using the provisions of START, which provides for inspections, dialogue with the Russians, and other activities.

ACT: START expires in 2009. Should the United States extend START so you have those verification mechanisms in place until the SORT implementation deadline of 2012.

DeSutter: I know some people feel strongly that that should be the case, but at that point we would be able to give it some thought. I don't see any problems at this point that would require us to do that.

ACT: One of the rationales used by the Bush administration to reject a proposed verification protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) was that it would put at risk U.S. industry and defense secrets. How does the United States expect other states to grant access to their weapons and dual-use facilities if the United States is unwilling to do the same?

DeSutter: I don't think we expected other countries to open up their biological facilities under BWC protocol we rejected.

ACT: Another major verification problem right now is North Korea. Has the United States developed a model verification regime that it would require North Korea to submit to if it decides to give up its nuclear weapons program? And could you describe the key elements of such a regime?

DeSutter: It would be best if we discussed the elements of any possible verification regime with the other parties to the six-party talks first. But, obviously, the United States has given a lot of thought to the difficulties that we would face in verifying a North Korean commitment. Again, the single most important enhancement to a verification capability is a strategic commitment on the part of that country to genuinely give up its capabilities. If North Korea makes such a strategic commitment, the verification regime will be far easier to design and implement.

There are some that say that a verification regime isn't valuable if its not 100 percent verifiable. Is there anything that is 100 percent verifiable?

DeSutter: There is no-and I think probably never will be-a 100 percent verifiable agreement or commitment. What we have to try to understand is when is verification good enough? Generally, what we mean when we say verification is effective. The way you reach that determination is fairly complicated. There's no set equation, but there are a number of factors, including: What is the compliance record of the country that we are trying to verify? How difficult is it to hide those elements that we are trying to verify from either inspection or national technical means? How much risk does the United States put itself at, or its allies, if there is undetected cheating? Those are just some of the elements that we have to look at in determining whether verification is effective.

For example, if you have two parallel agreements, and one of the agreements was with the United Kingdom and one was with Iran, and they had the same words, you might decide that verification was [more] effective in the case of the United Kingdom with whom we have an open transparent partnership than Iran, which has a history of noncompliance with its arms control and nonproliferation agreements and commitments.

In our recent experience with Iraq, though, you have a situation where its compliance record wasn't very good. But now that we are in Iraq, we're not finding the materials that we thought they were hiding. So is that criteria [reliable]?

DeSutter: When the new Iraqi government is constituted, I suspect that any given commitment made by them in the arms control and nonproliferation area will be judged to be far more verifiable [than before] because we have been there. We know what the ground truth is. Hopefully, this will be a regime that is trustworthy. I would expect it to be an ally of ours. [In contrast,] Saddam Hussein had a history of cheating, of lying, and of using weapons of mass destruction. The pictures of what happened to the people at Halabja are horrendous. There is a picture of a woman holding her baby, trying to cover it and protect it from the gas that was killing them. That is the type of regime that that was. I think that like many people who looked at the intelligence before, there wasn't a night during [last year's] war where I wasn't hoping and praying that chemical and biological weapons wouldn't be used against our troops. Clearly, he had the intent. David Kay has borne that out. Clearly, Iraq had programs. David Kay has supported that. What have not been found are the [weapons] stockpiles that we were concerned about. If you are going to wait until you know that they have the stockpiles, you have changed the equation. Certainly our intelligence was off. But it was off on some things and not on others. Iraq had these programs. It had the intent. Thank God they weren't as far [along] as we thought. Thank God they didn't have the stockpiles we were concerned about. Yes, we need to make sure our intelligence is as robust and credible as it can possibly be, but thank God they didn't have the stockpiles we were afraid of.

ACT: What you seem to be saying is we only can be confident in verification when it's people that we're already allied with or friendly with, which are the people you don't need to verify.

DeSutter: No, no, no. I'm not saying those are the only people we can verify. I'm saying that the single element that makes verification easier is if it is someone that we have an ongoing record. As I said, one of the elements in assessing whether verification is effective is what is the compliance record of the country you are looking at? That is only one element. You can still have agreements with countries that you don't trust. Certainly when we signed the INF Treaty we did not have a tremendous trust of the Soviet Union. And in those cases, you are going to have to do more work, you are going to have to have more measures, you are going to have to be more careful. And hopefully, your intelligence capabilities are going to be up to the task because you are not going to be able to expect them in every case to be forthcoming about the nature of their program. What you are going to need is to have robust intelligence.

What happens though in the case of Iraq where your robust intelligence conflicts with what inspectors on the ground are saying?

DeSutter: You have to weigh both. And this is true of any intelligence you may not have as well. Sometimes an intelligence briefer will come here and say we have no evidence that "x" is occurring. Well, that is an interesting data point only if you believe that our intelligence capabilities are capable of telling us whether or not "x" is occurring. For example, if you're not collecting on something, the fact that you have no intelligence that tells you that that's happening isn't a very interesting data point. And one of the things that I said goes into an assessment of effective verification is what is it that you're trying to verify. If we had an onsite inspection regime that was looking for large phased array radars, I'd be pretty confident. If you have a verification regime that is looking at something that is really big and hard to hide, fine. As things get smaller, as things become more dual-use, then the verification challenge is going to grow. It doesn't mean it's impossible, it just means it's going to get more difficult. The effectiveness determination is critical. You have to be able to say: What is going on in this particular case? What are we looking for? What are our capabilities to look? What are their capabilities to hide? What are their inclinations and their history of hiding things? How can we put all of this together? What's our capability to respond in a timely fashion? What is the risk to us if there is undetected noncompliance? All of those factors have to be put together, there's no one single factor that's going to be the whole thing that you look at. You've got to put those all pieces together or else you're not going to have a very robust determination about the effectiveness of verification. Some things are just harder than others.

ACT: I think that's all the questions we had. I don't know if there is anything you wanted to add that we haven't asked.

DeSutter: The Nonproliferation Treaty PrepCom is coming up in New York. That's going to be a very important [event]. The NPT has been under assault by North Korea, Iran, and other countries of concern. We have extremely good news in the Libya case. But verification and especially compliance are going to be important topics at the PrepCom. [The United States] needs to explain our views on compliance and why it's important, and why all of the nations who are party to the NPT need to have a stake in enforcement.

ACT: With regards to the PrepCom, I'm sure the United States is going to hear charges that it regularly hears, that it's not complying with the NPT. As the head of the Verification and Compliance Bureau here in the United States, how do you respond to those allegations?

I would say that given the number of commitments and actions that the United States has taken relevant to cutting the number of our nuclear weapons, moving forward in a number of areas, I think it would be a very sad thing, given the assault we're seeing on the NPT by virtue of the noncompliance that we've got, if countries focused on the United States instead of where the problem is.

Is the United States expecting to introduce additional measures beyond those that the president has discussed in his recent speech at the PrepCom?

DeSutter: I don't think so.

ACT: Will the Verification and Compliance Bureau be working with NSG countries to be sure they're implementing President Bush's request not to supply reprocessing and enrichment capabilities to other countries? Is that something your office will be dealing with?

The Nonproliferation Bureau would have the lead on that, but we would be happy to help our colleagues over there with that.

We appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

Interviewed by Wade Boese and Miles A. Pomper

Subject Resources:

Interview with David Kay



David Kay, former lead inspector of the Iraq Survey Group, spoke with ACT editor Miles Pomper and research analyst Paul Kerr March 5 on the search for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq. In the wide-ranging interview, Kay urged Vice President Dick Cheney to come clean about the failure to find WMD in Iraq. He also addressed what really happened to Iraq's unaccounted for biological and chemical weapons, called for enhanced international inspections of suspected WMD facilities, and said the Iraq war was not worth waging on WMD-grounds alone.

ACT: The New York Times today reported that it now appears that before the war Russian scientists and technicians had violated United Nations resolutions by helping Iraq develop long-range missiles[1] . Did you come across evidence of that in your investigations?

Kay: Yeah, and we reported it in the October [ISG] report[2]. We didn't identify the countries in the report. Jim [James Risen of The New York Times] has gotten other people in the intelligence community to identify the country. I have said, I think the major reason it's important to continue the work of the survey group is to pull out this international procurement network. We really, you know, we've had a number of cases [like] the A. Q. Khan[3] one. Although I'm a little worried. A. Q. Khan is, everyone is focusing on him. [In fact] it's a remarkable series of networks that seem to be running now, providing both the technology and the equipment to countries. The unknown is: are they also doing it to groups, non-state actors? You don't know that. It's actually, the interesting thing about states. States are easier to penetrate, they have a fixed location, they have a structure that endures and so you can focus on them. And many of them, like the Libyans and the Iranians, are subject to international inspection, so you have a process for verifying the truth. Now, I think the most dangerous phenomenon to crop up in the arms area in the last decade, really since the fall of the Soviet Union. Although some of it existed before, you have to say the Iraqi network that supported their program certainly predates the fall of the Soviet Union.

Vice President Cheney recently said that there might still be weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq. Your mid-January report was obviously fairly skeptical of that possibility. Do you think he's being realistic? Do you think his comments are helpful?

Kay: I certainly think it's important to continue the search for reasons of the procurement network if nothing else, and I think all of us recognize that since Iraq had weapons pre-1991, it is possible that their efforts to destroy them were less than 100 percent complete. I mean, most things in Iraq don't run at 100 percent efficiency. So, I wouldn't be surprised if there turned out to be rockets or mortars with pre-1990 gas, and so it's worth doing. What worries me about the vice president's statement is, I think people who hold out for a Hail-Mary pass—and lo and behold maybe we'll find that stockpile a year or two years out so everyone keeps searching-delay the inevitable looking back at what went wrong. I believe we have enough evidence now to say that the intelligence process, and the policy process that used that information, did not work at the level of effectiveness that we require in the age that we live in. It's a little like the analogy I sometimes use [of NASA's troubled and nearly fatal Apollo 13 mission to the moon]: in Apollo 13, if when the astronauts had said, "Houston, we have a problem," mission control had responded, "Well, you're only a third of the way to the moon. Why don't you keep going and we'll see how serious this problem is? And if and when you get there you don't make it, we'll investigate and we'll fix it for the next one." I mean, it is very hard for institutions to fix problems while they're in denial as to whether the problem really existed. And I am concerned that statements by the vice president and others—principally the vice president and the administration—really raise that issue.

ACT: So you think they are in denial at this point?

Kay: Well, I think you can read that statement of the vice president and say that he certainly is in denial and is holding hope that well, maybe the weapons will eventually be discovered. I don't think… I think most others at the working level recognize the correctness of the assessment that those weapons don't exist. And one has to say about the president himself, you know the president created the commission, which was to look back at it, and I think that's a hopeful sign. What I really find a little bit strange politically is the president already, even in the [January 2004] State of the Union address, where he didn't refer to weapons, but he referred to program elements, the same terminology I used in October. The president seems to be well beyond the point, but as long as you have others in the administration say, "Well, they may turn up later," you actually—well, I mean, it's really stupid politics. Which isn't my concern, but it creates this impression that some in the administration think they may still be there, while others recognize that it's very unlikely they'll be there and are prepared to get along with the act of understanding what went wrong.

ACT: Prior to the war you were one the leading critics of the United Nations weapons inspectors' effectiveness, yet you've now said that the results of your search indicate that the UN inspectors and sanctions were more effective than any of the critics had thought.

Well, when you get there, when you're on the inside and you have freedom to look at both what went on, as well as to interview the Iraqis who were involved, it's hard not to come away with the impression that they greatly UNSCOM[4] feared inspections and monitoring. And they clearly took steps in the '90s based on their belief that certain things would be found by the inspectors as they continued. And generally most inspectors, and this includes heads of the inspection process—if you go back and read statements from [former UNSCOM chiefs] Rolf Ekeus and Richard Butler, we focused on the limitations that the Iraqis were imposing on the inspections. And so we were looking at the difficulty that the inspectors had in operating, whereas the Iraqis, we now understand, were looking at the effectiveness the inspectors were achieving even with those limitations.

Now on sanctions I think the issue is somewhat more complicated. The Iraqis never really suffered greatly from lack of money as a result of sanctions. What sanctions did more than anything else—because the Iraqis defeated sanctions by resorting to black market, illegal activities—is clearly push an Iraqi decision-making system and economic system that was already corrupted and based on the Saddam Hussein family, loyalty, and all. It pushed it even more into the criminal vein and as it distorted the economic process of the country, it really played to the worst elements, which were really very bad, of the regime.

And so that the graft, the corruption, the figure which we've been given of about 60 percent of the skimming off the UN Oil-For-Food program went into new palace construction, an extraordinary figure. What sanctions did is it really, it drove the system to go underground, become corrupt, become clandestine, and much of the procurement of the weapons systems in the '80s were completely aboveground, arrangements with Western suppliers, mostly. Which were not hidden from view, by and large. And so, it really did have an impact that was distorting on their capability, and I think may have been the final thing that pushed them over the brink to what I call this vortex of total fraud and corruption that they were sinking into.

ACT: What about their ability to actually get necessary materials or dual use items and so on?

Kay: Well here again, it may be whether we're looking at the glass half full or half empty. They managed to continue to import a large amount of technology—both expertise and goods—that clearly were prohibited by the sanctions program. Now, clearly that amount is less than they would have been able to import if there had been no sanctions program. So I think it did inhibit their imports. It certainly made the imports more expensive in that they had to go a clandestine route for importation. Now, there's no evidence that money was a limitation on their program. What was a limitation was having the difficulty of getting it clandestinely and not always being able to openly procure from the best possible source, having to work through three middle men or so to get it, and getting it through a series of countries that trans-shipped it. So, I think it is fair to say that sanctions did limit the robustness of their program. Although I do think, I'm still struck, having spent the last six/seven months there, at how much they were able to get illegally. It just happened we were lucky that it was a system that was breaking down, so most of the stuff they got they weren't able to effectively use.

What role do you think now is appropriate for UNMOVIC[5] and the International Atomic Energy Agency in Iraq? Should the UN be afforded access to the classified version of your report?

Kay: Well, first of all, let's talk about physical access in Iraq. There were former inspectors, UNMOVIC and UNSCOM inspectors, Australians, and Brits, and Americans, that still are part of the survey group. The difficulty of, for example, inviting UNMOVIC to come back in, or even the IAEA to come back in, is a physical security issue. The UN after its headquarters was bombed withdrew everyone because of the threat of violence. Every inspector that worked for me—and myself included-was weapons—qualified, and carried a weapon. We lived in facilities that were almost routinely mortared. I mean, these were very unsafe conditions, and I couldn't imagine, I don't think anyone could imagine… the UN just does not expose its people to that level of risk, and that's appropriate. No UNSCOM inspector was ever armed, or UNMOVIC inspectors. We all rejected that option at the first inspection when it was considered, but it wasn't considered even very long.

With regard to the free exchange of information, I think it is appropriate at some point for that information to be exchanged. The difficulty of exchanging, in at least the six months I was involved and I suspect the same thing is true now, [is that] just because an Iraqi tells you something, or just because you get some records, you're not at the end-game and you're not prepared. It's raw and you're still looking to see if it's true, seeking other verification. For example, Jim Risen's article is broadly true in today's Times about the Russian missile involvement. The difficulty during my period there is we didn't yet have the names of all the Russian engineers who were there. We were running them down, we were seeking as well to find out whether they had been involved with other countries, because Iraq's not the only proliferation problem in the world. At some point it is clearly appropriate to face the Russian government, as well as the various regimes—[for example] in the case of missiles, the MTCR[6] and you know, here are the cases. And Jim Risen made it clear it's not just Russian firms—there were firms from at least three or four other countries involved. All of that needs to pass into the MTCR, and maybe UNMOVIC. But certainly MTCR, because the concern is not just Iraq, it's other people, other countries.

More broadly, I think there is, and we're almost at that point now where we're going to have to turn long-term monitoring of Iraq over to two different groups. First of all, the Iraqis. We'd already started, before I left, the discussions with the Iraqi authorities about the creation of a national monitoring capability that would in fact continue to perform the appropriate national role in safeguarding its technology and, over the long-term, be responsible for determining anything that turns up that's been missed during inspections. But secondly, Iraq is going to be subject—and it's still subject, depending on how lawyers determine the state succession rules—to treaties it's already signed, like the [nuclear] Nonproliferation Treaty [NPT], and its membership in the UN. Here again, there is this murky area of international law called state succession where you've got to determine whether the new government is still bound by everything the old government, the old state signed. I assume the answer is probably going to be yes, and all the UN resolutions as they relate to monitoring. So, there needs to be some international body that takes, and certainly the U.S. coalition is not the appropriate body for the long-term monitoring of Iraq's responsibility to its international agreements.

Those agreements, in most cases, have their own inspection reporting requirements. It also may be that in this region, given what's going on in Iran, for example, that the Iranians, Iraqis, and other states in the region, may decide, much like the Brazilians and the Argentines, to start with some sort of broader regional arms control agreement, which is not incompatible or in competition with their international obligations. But it would be a shame at this point, if in fact someone doesn't step forward in Iran or Iraq, and suggest regional security and stabilization ought to be something we think about and make this really a historic turning point. Because we went to war with the Iraqi government, we forget that Iraq's real enemies—and it has real enemies—are in the region because they went to war with Kuwait and with Iran. So some sort of regional stabilization that gave people on all sides of the borders confidence in what the others were doing would strike me as an appropriate one. And there again I think that's probably not, there's no role for the U.S. in that, other than [a] provider of technology as we help the other countries seeking to do that.

ACT: Do you think that they also may raise some uncomfortable questions about the Israeli nuclear program?

Kay: Well, that's, you know, that's been the historic problem with arms control in the Middle East. Everyone has said, "Well, we'll do it, but only if the Israelis do it." It strikes me that you've got a moment in time right now, with regard to the Iranian nuclear program, not their missile or chem or bio program, but their nuclear program-and with Iraq, where foresighted leadership might say "our objective is over the long run a more comprehensive Middle Eastern weapons of mass destruction-free zone." Well, we're not going to miss this opportunity to try to readjust the relationships between the two or three countries most involved. And just like, I don't, I would not view that as in competition with the IAEA, NPT, CWC[7], any of the other arms control agreements, nor would I view any competition with the ultimate objective of a nuclear free zone. One would like to think, even, that there would be the leadership that would say if we can do it between states that have a history of conflict of Iran and Iraq—I mean a million people were killed in that war in the '80s—we can maybe establish the mechanisms and competence that later we can do it with regard to other states in the region.

So, I mean, I think, it would be a shame if the traditional bugaboo of arms control in the Middle East—that is, the Israeli program—were to get in the way of real statesmanship now. And I think there is some possibility of that. I mean, the interesting thing to me that makes it a valid idea is you have a large number of Shias [Shiite Muslims] on both the Iranian and Iraqi side of the border. The Shias in Iraq are going for the first time in 35 years or so, play a role in government. So, for them, reestablishing a basis of cooperation of both the Iranian and Iraqi side, which involves some sort of arms control arrangement, would strike me as being an issue that is really quite separate from the Israeli issue, in terms of the domestic politics of Iraq.

ACT: In a recent speech at the U.S. Institute for Peace you mentioned that international inspections can play an important role in coping with future weapons of mass destruction (WMD) threats. What do you think is the proper role for international inspections regimes such as the IAEA and UNMOVIC, and what's your opinion on suggestions that UNMOVIC be retained as some sort of permanent inspections body?

Kay: Well, let me deal with the first one and come back to the last one. I think the challenge right now is to try to find a way to break out of this old argument between those who support international institutions and treaties, and those who found them to be less effective and has concentrated on military unilateral military solutions, and to seek ways to make international inspections more effective. You've got to realize, if you just take the nuke programs, you've got the Iranians now saying they had an illegal nuclear program that the IAEA did not identify for about 18 years until recently. And the Libyan program seems, although the information—at least in the open press—is less, seems to have been going on through 12 and 15 years. Also not detected. So, quite apart from Iraq, there is this issue of, "Can we make inspections more robust, so that programs like this would indeed be detectable?" I think the answer is yes. I think a combination of intelligence capability and new inspection technology can make those organizations much more effective [and] we have an obligation to do that. I think in the process of doing that, then the role for the existing international institutions that have inspections regimes—that's principally CWC and the NPT—I think is very good, and is important to do. It still leaves us with this problem of biological [weapons], where we have a treaty, but we don't have an inspection [regime][8].

ACT: Doesn't it also leave us with the problem of missile proliferation?

Kay: Well, and missiles…you don't have inspections. What you've got-and clearly it's not working and that's important to understand—is you thought if you impose requirements on those states that have missile capabilities (who are members of the MTCR), that would be one way of controlling it. Now it's quite clear, as a result of what happened in Iraq, states didn't exercise that authority very well. And so indeed you do need to consider, I think, whether, in fact, there is an inspection capability that needs to be created around the missile area. In some ways that's going to be as difficult as biological, but it certainly needs to be done. The issue of retaining UNMOVIC, to me it's a hard one to understand, because how would that play against IAEA inspection capabilities? In other words, what would its mission be?

ACT: Hans Blix, the former head of UNMOVIC, has suggested that the organization concentrate on the biological and missile areas[9], that these could be somewhere that UNMOVIC could play a role.

Kay: Well, it, it might be, although I would think the recent history of negotiating BWC expansion would suggest that it's more likely to be done among specialists that are focused in the same way you did IAEA nuke inspections or CWC. The slice of those states that have the technical capabilities and have the programs make it easier than a sort of UN negotiation. I think the same thing. I mean the whole MTCR arose out of that similar belief. We need to reexamine that and say, "Would it be easier to get more effective regimes if we did it multilateral across all regime areas, or across those two that don't have major inspection capabilities right now?" I'm just not certain… I would hate to see anything that would weaken either the…legitimacy of the CWC or the impetus to improve NPT. I think the urgency on the nuclear area and on the chemical area, is such that I would hate to see, for example, the additional protocol become the last step in the modernization of the NPT while we wait for some broader international negotiation that would make UNMOVIC more capable. Now, if the argument is going to be, "well, we'll just make UNMOVIC capable for biological and for missiles, and we'll let the reformation of the NPT and the improvement of CWC just go along the natural [path]. I guess that makes, that's less of an issue in terms of how it impacts with… it doesn't strike me that's a logical nature. And so much of UNMOVIC came out of the Iraqi experience. I mean, it's the logical successor to UNSCOM. Actually, I think many states would be reluctant to become subject to something that had that sort of parentage. UNSCOM and UNMOVIC were designed for a defeated state that was in opposition to the UN. I would like to believe that we…some of the rights to go anywhere, anytime, anyplace, that UNSCOM pioneered and that UNMOVIC later took up, would be key parts of this reformation of the inspection process. But I'm not sure that it's going to be easy to negotiate that in terms of the parentage of UNMOVIC. I'm agnostic on this, as to which is going to be the easiest way.

ACT: What about long-term monitoring? Clearly any regime would be better than Saddam's, but still people say they have a history of developing nuclear weapons…

Kay: You mean for long-term monitoring of Iraq? Sure.

ACT: Right, but also what we're asking the Iraqi government to do, and we're probably in a position to do, is to accept being an exception. That they have to accept a regime of inspection, and other people don't. What if you applied that more broadly? What if you could keep, say UNMOVIC, as a body you use for the hard cases, for the the Iraqs of the world, the North Koreans, and maybe the Iranians of the world?Instead of kind of worrying about the problem of universalizing a regime, you keep a body of expertise for the times when a country does have to be subjected to extraordinary measures?

Kay: I think that's a possibility, although you realize that, take North Korea. The real political issue right now has been whether North Korea is an item that should pass from the IAEA to the Security Council[10]. And the only way you would energize something like UNMOVIC would be just passage across the transom, from the specific regimes, or something to do it. And the lessons are, that's very hard. I don't think the Iranians, for example, would take very well to the idea that their past cheating now justifies them being treated by an inspection regime that's called UNMOVIC because of the heritage of UNMOVIC. I don't think the Libyans would either. I mean, there's a real question: "Have you gotten this far with the Iranians because you've been able to keep it within the context of the NPT context without ripping to shreds?" Though—and the same thing is true with the Libyans—you've been able to do it without passing into the high pressure Security Council New York regime. And of course the North Koreans withdrew from the NPT rather than be subjected to that. It just depends on how the political dynamics work.

I think the important lesson that you do want to survive out of UNMOVIC and UNSCOM is the lessons that in certain cases you need expanded rights to provide security and confidence that the state is living up to its obligation. Now whether those expanded rights ought to be within IAEA, CWC, and you do have this fact that for two regime areas, missiles and biological, you don't have a fully robust organization. And so the question has to be, should we now push again on BWC and push to further institutionalize MTCR so it looks more like NPT, CWC, or should we just take it in to the UN? It strikes me the argument is not clear as to which is better on that one. In one sense, I feel better about an inspection process that doesn't draw artificial lines between nuke and chem and bio and missiles, because most states as they operate those programs don't draw those distinctions. So an inspection regime like UNMOVIC has an inherent advantage over stovepiping of the IAEA or some other. On the other hand, the reluctance to go the Security Council supported route, for political reasons, is so great I wonder if it would really be utilized. And in some ways, we're at the point that modernization of the IAEA/NPT inspection regime now for the first time really looks feasible, much more than just the Additional Protocols[11], because of Libya, because of Iran, because of North Korea. I would hate for that to die because, well, we're gonna wait and see if we can't enhance another inspection regime to take over the hard cases.

ACT: To make the perfect the enemy of the good.

Kay: Yeah, to make the perfect the enemy of the good.

ACT: Getting back to the ISG (Iraq Survey Group) experience. You attributed some of the difficulties to the inherent difficulty of conducting joint operations between different government agencies. How can future inspections operations better integrate intelligence and military aspects such as the coordination between the CIA and the Pentagon?

Kay: I think the fundamental flaw that we got into is, in all this run-up to the war, no one sat down and said, "Okay, we're going to win the war, that's obvious. What are we going to do about the weapons, and what's the organization to find and root out the weapons program?" and then taken a clean sheet of paper and said, okay, here's how we're going to do it. Instead, what happened is the military very late in the planning process created this organization called the 75th Exploitation task force, which was an entire military unit, very small military unit, that was charged with finding the weapons and follow the bulk of the forces into Iraq and Kuwait, rather late and without any capabilities. By June, it was recognized [that there was a problem]. Judy Miller from [The New York] Times did a brilliant series on the problems of the 75th. So then it was thought, "Well we've got to fix that, let's have an expanded organization called the Iraqi Survey Group."

Now the survey group was never in its original formulation intended to be just for WMD. It had prisoners of war—including the case of Kuwaiti prisoners of war—recovery of cultural artifacts, the looting of museums and all that, as well as WMD. And it was to be an entirely military organization. Military commander reporting to a military commander, DOD [Department of Defense] funded, DOD organized. It didn't actually have a CIA component at all in it. Well, when that didn't work either, then there was this quick decision to transfer the authority to the intelligence community, and have the intelligence community lead it, but using this organization that was a military organization. That's what I refer to as really being unworkable.

I think if you have to do this in the future, and let me say I hope we don't have to do this in the future, I think it would be far better to multilateralize it, and—well, it would be far better to avoid the war, but it you have to do it after a post-conflict, it probably… you ought to take a clean sheet of paper and create an organization that is either entirely military and led by the military to do it, or an organization that is staffed, reported, led by the intelligence community. For military assets, there are components of it that flow into it, but they are not a dominant military organization.

Like I say, I hope that will be the relatively rare case. For example, if you take the Libyan case…what you had was an intelligence-led collection effort that went in to remove equipment and to conduct interrogations. I think that would be my model. If you've got to do it, you do it with that intelligence focus. Now, the answer against that is: "You hadn't fought a war with Libya, it wasn't a dangerous battlefield. You didn't need the things you needed in Iraq. We needed people who could shoot, we needed helicopters, we needed force protection. So you needed a lot of things that you normally only get from the military." But I think the structure and the table and the way it was organized was just bound to cause problems. I'm actually remarkably surprised there were as few problems as there were.

ACT: Prior to the invasion last March, U.S. officials claimed to have intelligence Iraq was defeating inspections efforts through various denial and deception tactics. What evidence has emerged regarding Iraqi cooperation with UN inspectors?

Actually, a fair amount of evidence. I think that's one case in which the claim is largely supported. That is, we have a number of interviews and interrogations that we conducted of scientists and engineers who had been interviewed by UNMOVIC who said that they had not told UNMOVIC the truth, and they then proceeded to take us to documents and equipment and records that they had sequestered away and given to us. And they said it simply was that they didn't believe that UNMOVIC could protect them from the secret police organization, intelligence organization of the Iraqi state, that they had been warned not to cooperate, they had been briefed, and they went into great detail about how they had been briefed prior to interviews. So, there was that.

There also were major discoveries of equipment and facilities, and the interesting thing about that is not so much that UNMOVIC didn't find—it's very difficult without intelligence to find stuff in Iraq or anywhere, and that includes the ISG. The interesting thing is, we got access to the records and to the people involved in the discussions in which the Iraqis themselves had decided which facilities they would reveal—put into the full final complete declaration 1441[12]—and which ones they would not. So it's quite clear the Iraqis took some out, [took some facilities] off the table. And we were able, because the Iraqis were more free to talk, to find those. We also discovered that the Iraqis had hidden certain facilities in places that are typically difficult for inspectors to go—mosques is one facility—the best English translation is Chamber of Commerce. It really, it was the Union of Industrialists, which had equipment which should have been declared to the UN of a biological-chemical nature. So, there was a fairly robust D&D [Deception and Denial ] program, considering what they had to hide. Which, I mean, they weren't hiding large production facilities or large stockpiles.

Now, I think it would be unfair to say that that was just designed to mislead UN inspectors. They were even more fearful of U.S. air-attack. So, a lot of the deception and denial techniques were designed to shield the facilities from being identified by—and this is over a long term, throughout the 90s—being identified by the U.S., because they feared air attacks, like Desert Fox[13].

ACT: In the lead up to the war in March 2003, several UN Security Council members formulated proposals to strengthen the UN inspection regime, give Iraq more time to comply. If these had been accepted, would they have garnered more Iraqi cooperation? Would the UN mandated monitoring and verification system have been effective in halting future Iraqi prohibited weapons activities?

Kay: I think you've got to distinguish between those measures that would have led to fuller Iraqi disclosure, or disclosure of Iraqi activities, and the question of whether those measures would have, in fact, inhibited a massive restart of the Iraqi program. I think the limitation on discovery and disclosure was the fear of the people involved of Saddam Hussein and his police. And I don't think any measures would have really overcome that fear. On the other hand, I think in retrospect it is obvious that rigorous inspections and accompanying sanctions played an important role in limiting the possibilities of the Iraqis to restart their program.

Now, some of their programs were more difficult to, for inspectors to limit and detect than others. The missile program is an interesting one because of [United Nations Resolution] 687, the [Persian Gulf War] cease-fire arrangement which allowed them to keep a missile program [of missiles with ranges not exceeding 150 km. So it was always a cat-and-mouse game throughout the UNSCOM years with the missiles: Were the missiles going to exceed a 150 mile range limitation or not, what was the payload, and all of that. I think that was, that was almost an inherent limitation that we had to live with regardless of how big our… but it…and it didn't limit the cooperation of foreign states.

I don't think the measures that were being discussed prior to the war would have detected the Russian assistance, for example, for that missile program. That assistance came in two forms: actual scientists and engineers who came to Baghdad who collaborated, and…they collaborated in a building that was not identified as part of the missile establishment. And then the collaboration continued when they went back to wherever they came from, and that was electronic and that probably wasn't discoverable. But I think vigorous inspection, I think it did lead to the Iraqi decision to get rid of their large stockpiles. I think…they viewed it as limiting their ability to restart the program while inspectors were there. So I think there was a gain from it. It would not have rooted out their capability, and it would not have stopped small-scale cheating, but I think it would have played a role in limiting a large scale restart of that program.

Now, a lot of this is something you know a lot better in retrospect than you knew at the time, and everyone ought to be on the up and up about this. Most intelligence reports from around the world said that the Iraqi chemical and biological programs had already been restarted and they had weapons. Turns out, I think, those reports were wrong, and now we know that they were wrong because inspections were more of a hindrance, and they feared them more in the mid-90s than we anticipated.

But the interesting question is: Why after '98 when the inspectors left didn't they restart the chemical and biological programs? The answer I have tentatively is two-form. One, is that the chaos and corruption was such that Saddam really just wasn't interested and they had limited capabilities to do it. They went for programs that were essentially science fiction, for detection and killing stealth aircraft instead. And secondly he thought, and most of the Iraqi senior scientists we interviewed thought, that the restart of a biological and chemical program was something they could do quickly. What they didn't have was the delivery system. So, I think what we ought to pay attention to that missile program. And the real question is whether that missile program would have been successful if the war hadn't intervened. …[Saddam Hussein] had pretty high range goals for them, to get up to 1000 kms. …By 2005, 2006, would they have had those missiles? My strong suspicion is that in fact they just weren't technically capable of doing that, even with foreign assistance. It would have taken them longer. They would eventually have gotten it, if the war hadn't intervened, but their own technical chaos, the declining state of efficiency of all of their manufacturing areas just would make that very difficult even with foreign assistance.

ACT: This obviously goes back to the question about UN enforcing its own resolutions, but UN Resolution 687 did mandate that there would be an ongoing monitoring and verification system to exist after Iraq was said to have dismantled its nuclear, chemical, biological, and extended missile programs. It wasn't just a question of saying "forgive and forget we'll go away now," even in a world where we lifted sanctions. It's true that it's harder to detect small scale cheating, but to get a missile of that type of range you have to have testing…

Kay: Well, unless you import it from the North Koreans or someone else.

ACT: I mean do you think that monitoring system could have done something to restrain them?

Well, I think that monitoring system, the 687 monitoring system, which ended of course when the inspectors left in '98. I mean that was ripped out by the Iraqis. If they had progressed to full-scale monitoring, would it have limited the Iraqi restart of the program? I think, I'm confidant to say that I think it would have detected really large-scale restart on most of the programs. What I'm not confident of is whether in fact the international community would have responded. That's a quite different… for example, the League of Nations response to German rearmament was, "Oh so what?" And it wasn't that it wasn't detected—it was detected.

The other thing that complicates that answer, or at least my view of the answer, is that if sanctions had really come off, I think it would have been harder to detect a restart of the biological program or of the chemical program than otherwise. The monitoring program of 687 was very tough as long as Iraq's economy was essentially in the straightjacket of sanctions. Because you controlled everything that went in legitimately, and so you could look for the deviants, the outliers, for the things that weren't legitimate. And you had the on-site inspection accompanying the monitoring, which everyone forgets. It wasn't just technical monitoring, it was really inspectors still on the scene, and that's what I think the Iraqi's really feared.

So…you couldn't have stopped small-scale cheating. And small-scale cheating in the biological area is probably significant—but it would have detected, I think, industrial production of missiles. It might not have detected importation. It would have detected a restart of the nuke program easily.

ACT: Let me ask you a bottom-line question, you have said that despite your discoveries, you still supported the war because of the pre-war human rights situation and the related horrors that you discovered there. Just leaving that aside a minute, if it was just a WMD-based decision, do you think that invading Iraq was a wise decision?

Kay: Well, here again, it's the great advantage of thinking I know the truth. I think [that] not having discovered stockpiles of WMD, you come to the conclusion that if that was the only thing you considered, that all these other things were off the table and didn't matter to you, clearly it was not. It was not worth it. Now, that's my personal perspective, I understand how others could have a different perspective in the shadow of 9/11, if you looked at the record of Iraq, having continued to defy in many ways the UN, would you have, and you had on your table, intelligence reports [pointing to possession of chemical and biological weapons].

ACT: That was certainly the general framework that everyone was sort of given at the time.

Kay: I think that actually affected a lot of the analysis, and it's a lot of the reason why people didn't step aside and challenge… I mean it's unfortunate that the largest challenge to that sort of assumption [that Iraq had given up its WMD] came from people like [former UNSCOM inspector] Scott Ritter[14] who sort of destroyed their own credibility in other forms, and so it never became a respectable position. And I think we all—and I certainly include myself—bear responsibility for not having said, "Let's step aside, and regardless of the fact that it's Scott or someone else arguing this position, let's give it a legitimate shake, and look at the alternative that is a real possibility, and see what evidence fits that explanation." It just seemed to be such a convenient explanation. As additional pieces of evidence became available, people looked at them if they fit the puzzle of "Iraq is continuing to cheat, let's put them in that model," and never tried to look to see if there is another model there.

And this is an analytical failing, as well as a political and policy failing. The evidence that really counted—and this wasn't manufactured, this was real evidence that the Iraqis were continuing to cheat and deceive and try to acquire capabilities—seemed to come from multiple sources. So everyone focused on what fit the puzzle, where you knew what was the picture on the box cover and this was of Iraq continuing its programs. The evidence that didn't fit that puzzle was just sort of cast aside, not attempting to put it into another box that may have had a completely different picture on the cover.

ACT: UNMOVIC had said that the ISG's findings added little to the evidence that UN inspectors found. How do you reconcile those claims?

Kay: Well I think that's wrong, for example, in the missile area. I think in the missile area if you just take public stuff that's in Risen's piece today and the October report, there's a considerable amount of stuff that UNMOVIC did not understand.

But on the other hand, I don't want this to be seen… I value what UNMOVIC found. I mean I think that it extended [the knowledge of] UNSCOM. What it really didn't resolve—UNSCOM in some ways made it harder to resolve—is this material balance issue. The missing… 500 liters of missing x, the missing y, which mostly dealt with material that UNSCOM had determined—correctly I think—that Iraq had imported, but that the Iraqis could not account for. UNSCOM didn't resolve that. I think in the end you'll find that ISG is able to resolve most of that.

You know, the war would have been completely different if Dr Blix—and it's not UNMOVIC's fault, don't misunderstand me, I don't think it's UNMOVIC's fault, I think it's Iraq's fault—but if Dr. Blix had been able to report to the Security Council that "all of these missing amounts we now understand where they were, they're accounted for, they did not go into new weapons, etc." Because of the Iraqi behavior and reporting, and the physical difficulty of resolving the material balance issues, no one was able to resolve that. And so I think we did add considerably, and the final report will explain in detail far more convincing—well UNMOVIC was unconvincing in the sense that they were unable to resolve it. I mean these were real differences, simply unresolvable. I think because the Iraqis are now able to talk, because we've got access to documentation, and we've been able to put that puzzle back together, you will in the following report find a pretty convincing case that says most of these amounts are accounted for and did not go into new weapons.

ACT: So what happened to these weapons? Were they destroyed or something else?

Kay: It varies. Some were destroyed. Some were destroyed in ways that the Iraqis were embarrassed to admit, how they had been destroyed. Some disappeared in the normal chaos and accidents that occurred. Realize they fought two wars they lost before this one—the Iran-Iraq war and the Persian Gulf War—and so, and those weapons, the unresolved amounts, revolved around importation of goods prior to the 1991 Gulf War and had been used to a large extent in the Iranian War. We figured out exactly in each one by piecing it together… and some of these explanations are terribly embarrassing to the Iraqis. Like I say, one major one involves disposal of weapons material and biological agents in ways that were not only not approved, but dangerous to the health of people in Baghdad, or thought to be. And so they just covered it up, and they weren't going to tell anyone that they had gotten rid of it that way. I don't want to go into exact details, I'll leave that to the next ISG report as you attempt to verify it. So, I mean I think it's unfair to say that the ISG has added nothing. In one sense, confirming, as I think we will confirm, some of UNMOVIC's conclusions, is an important add as well. But I think just on the missile area, I think it would be hard to sustain that argument.

ACT: Could we just go back to something you said about in terms of the records. One of the frequent arguments made is that when the Iraqis couldn't produce records, UNMOVIC would say you should have records to produce or if you don't have that you should have some personnel who did it. I know one explanation was that Iraqi society was just not as well organized as we had thought it to be. It sounds like what you're saying today is different, that there were ways to account for the weapons and they just didn't in many cases.

Kay: All of us-and that includes UNSCOM and UNMOVIC—all of us dealing with Iraq, knew that Iraq had tremendous record—keeping requirements, and they really kept records on almost everything. And so this inability to produce records on people that were involved on the destruction hung in everyone's mind as just not a credible explanation. I think what we have found out is that while there were some areas where records were not kept, the explanations for why they didn't keep records were not the ones they consistently gave to the UN. It was just reasons of protecting themselves and the regime from how they had destroyed certain things. That some of the records would have disclosed what they thought were importation networks that were not known about. There were a variety of reasons, not a single case. And there are some areas where, in fact, you're going to have to say the Iraqis were right. The chaos of the moment, losing two wars, led to some destruction and disappearance of stuff that was undocumented, and, you know, they were telling the truth.

And this gets back to really a fundamental point in the Iraqi case, which the Iraqis themselves have recognized, many of those under interrogation that is they got in the habit in 1991 of lying. They were caught in a series of lies, so that when they later told the truth in some cases—like why some of these records don't exist—no one would believe them because they were already convicted as consistent liars. It wasn't the fault of UNSCOM, it certainly wasn't the fault of UNMOVIC, and it largely wasn't the fault of the outside analysts. It was Iraq's fault for having ever gone down this way of such massive lying—principally in the initial stage to the IAEA, and then subsequently on the biological area and the chem area to UNSCOM. Or the missile area when you caught them with the gyroscopes they had imported and some turned up in the Euphrates. You know, they just, they lied about everything, so when they told the truth they didn't get credit for telling the truth. We thought it was just another lie.

ACT: Well, often they didn't have anyway to demonstrate they were telling the truth.

Kay: It's hard to demonstrate when you say, "We didn't keep records of this." How do you prove it? And it was hard because it came back to, "Okay well, bring the people involved who were there when it was destroyed," and they refused to do that. The explanation for that happens to be because those people were deadly fearful that if the regime understood—and the regime being Saddam—how they destroyed some of this material their heads would have been in a noose.

ACT: In your Jan. 28 testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, you stated that Iraq was more dangerous than we had thought, citing the regime's lack of central control over personnel with expertise in WMD. Has the invasion exacerbated that situation by increasing the chances that these personnel could provide their expertise to terrorists or rogue governments? And what do you think of the current efforts to reduce the spread of that expertise?

Kay: Well, in one sense it has been exacerbated. That is, the ability to flee Iraq, to leave Iraq is probably much easier to do now than it was under Saddam, although a lot of people did it under Saddam. In one sense, probably less so. That is, unless they took the technology, records of the technology, or pieces of equipment home, they don't have access, a lot of that has been destroyed. So they've got what's in their mind, and they've got their technical capability. But there's not much else that they can get access to.

No, I worry—I think we all, who were there, worry—that we continue to come across cases of Iraqis that we wanted to talk to who had left the country and no one knew where they were. The efforts to set up the equivalent of a program to retain scientists and engineers like we set up in the wake of the fall of the Soviet Union has been much slower in Iraq than it should have been. There are some efforts finally getting underway, but quite frankly the largest incentive to stay—and it was true in the Soviet Union too—is if you believe that the future is going to be better than the present and you see that progress is being made. Then most scientists will not go to the Sudan or even to the Gulf area. Iraqis are-we don't give them enough credit-they are very proud nationalists, very proud of their culture. They are extraordinarily family-centered organizations. So it's not a case of David Kay being willing to go to the United Arab Emirates…they've got to take both sides of their family's children, aunts and uncles, because they are responsible for them. And that's hard to do. As long as they believe that security and progress—economic progress, a legitimate way to make money and contribute—is in the near-term future, they'll stay in Iraq.

The greatest problem we have, of course, is giving them the confidence that there is physical security and that the economy is restarting. So I think that to the extent you can do that, and that there is a political process that will allow stability, the greatest fear the Iraqis have is not very much different than people who look at Iraq in this town is, that is civil war, breakdown of political society, failure to be able to restart the economy. So…anything we can do on that that benefits the average Iraqi also benefits the retention of the scientists.

There are special programs that are just now being pushed to try to target the scientists. It's too little too late, but …it's better to do it at anytime than not to do it. It's just been slow to get done.

ACT: You also said that the leading destruction of the facilities after the invasion hampered the ISG's ability to get a complete picture of Iraq's weapon program, and you made some comments earlier about the lack of prewar planning for securing those facilities. How would you assess the initial plans for locating and securing WMD there?

Kay: Practically useless. I do not think the U.S. military gave a very high priority to locating WMD. They gave the highest priority to WMD that might possibly be used against troops during the course of the war. And that was their great fear, so on the actual battlefront, attempts that were designed to deter any possible Iraqi use or to make it overwhelming that they would gain no advantage from using it, I think those activities were actually good.

But the longer-range issue of finding what was in the WMD, locating the infrastructure, and protecting it, was horrible. I mean, Tuwaitha—the principal nuclear research center that we know about—was essentially left unprotected. There was vast looting of radioactivity material and sources, looting of technical equipment. Records were destroyed. Now it was even worse in office buildings in Baghdad where the Military Industrialization Commission, for example, had its headquarters—those records were very, very valuable but they were looted and burned. The Ministry of Finance: looted and burned. And those went unprotected for well over a month, from April 9 to the end of May. I remember in May going out to the headquarters of the Iraqi Intelligence Service and it was a field day. Anyone could go in and collect records and dig through. … These were unprotected. This was not a task that the military planned to take on or gave a high priority to.

ACT: You said earlier that the sanctions regime probably worked to force the Iraqis to go underground to use these underground networks to procure material. Do you think that those networks are inherently a bit of a black box, because you don't by definition know what's going on there. Do you think that may have contributed to some of the unease regarding all the suspicions that Iraq was maybe farther along in reconstituting…

Kay: Yeah, you're absolutely right. You saw bits and pieces of what they were getting through the network, and you tended to then worst-case analysis on they must be getting other things through, even though you didn't see it, but you saw a network existed, and that some things were getting through. So, it added to the problem of making sound analysis.

ACT: In terms of export control regimes people talk about choke points, the kinds of technologies you can control—you can't control Playstation 2s, maybe you can control other things. In terms of dealing with the sort of network, the A.Q. Khan network, but others. Do you think that expertise is maybe a choke point?

Kay: Yeah, you can control technical expertise. Though I now…

ACT: Or do you think there's another…

Kay: I now sort of look at your technical expertise as being almost like your Playstation II analysis. When you don't necessarily have to go to the country, but you can do it with a team operating out of a research institute in a capital somewhere else, or you can, as in the A.Q. Khan era, you can take the expertise on designing central parts of a centrifuge and take them to a factory in Malaysia that then translates them into hardware. The technical expertise never goes directly to Libya. We just forget, it's such a different world that there is the technical expertise is now pretty broadly spread in most of these areas that how you would control it. So I don't see it being an effective choke line.

I actually have come to the conclusion that international inspection is even more important now than it ever was. The on-the-ground examination of what's going on is irreplaceable as to what it can do. And so we've got to find a way to be sure that that inspection is as well-equipped and well-funded, organized, and with the maximum access possible, rather than believe that sitting back some place staring through space, or even with domestic export control laws, that you're going to be able to stop it that way. There's not going… I think the conclusion from Iraq—and I think out of Iran and Libya—is going to be there really is no substitute for effective inspections.

And really, the good news part of that story is: I think if there is effective inspection, the need for unilateral pre-emptive action becomes much less critical. And the type of pre-emptive action that you might need, if you were to need it, becomes much less. You don't have to defeat a country, you may at some point decide you have to take out a facility [if] international inspectors are being denied access. That's really a lot different.


1. James Risen, "Russian Engineers Reportedly Gave Missile Aid to Iraq," The New York Tmes, March 5, 2004.

2. Kay testified before Congress regarding the October report about the ISG's findings. See http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2003_11/KayReport.asp

3. See "The Khan Network", March 2004 Arms Control Today, pp. 23-29. http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2004_03/Pakistan.asp

4. The UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) was formed in 1991 after Iraq's defeat in the Persian Gulf War to verify that Iraq complied with UN-mandated disarmament tasks. For a list of relevant UN resolutions, see http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2002_10/UNresolutionsoct02.asp

5. The UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission
(UNMOVIC) was formed in 1999 to carry out inspections in Iraq after UNSCOM inspectors were withdrawn the previous year. For more details see http://www.armscontrol.org/act/1999_12/unde99.asp

6. The Missile Technology Control Regime is an export control regime that aims to limit the spread of ballistic and cruise missiles. For more details see http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/mtcr.asp

7. The Chemical Weapons Convention, a 1997 treaty ratified by 160 countries, which bans the use, development, production, and stockpiling of Chemical Weapons. It is administered by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague. For more details see http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/cwcglance.asp

8. The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) was signed in 1972 but lacks enforcement and verification provisions. Efforts to negotiate a binding protocol fell apart in 2001, when the Bush administration rejected a proposed draft and any further protocol negotiations, claiming such a protocol could not help strengthen compliance with the BWC and could hurt U.S. national security and commercial interests. For more details see http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/bwcataglance.asp

9. See "Verifying Arms Control Agreements: An Interview with Hans Blix, the Outgoing Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC," Arms Control Today, July/August 2003, pp. 12-15.

10. In February 2003, the IAEA Board of Governors adopted a resolution declaring Pyongyang in "further non-compliance" with its obligations under the NPT and decided to report the matter to the UN Security Council. North Korea had ignored two previous resolutions calling for it to comply with its IAEA safeguards agreement, including reversing its January 2003 decision to withdraw from the NPT. See: http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2003_03/nkorea_mar03.asp

11. In response to its failure more than a dozen years ago to discover secret nuclear weapon programs by Iraq and North Korea, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) began an effort in 1993 to make it more difficult for states to illicitly pursue nuclear weapons. That effort eventually produced a voluntary Additional Protocol, designed to strengthen and expand existing IAEA safeguards for verifying that non-nuclear-weapon states-parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) only use nuclear materials and facilities for peaceful purposes. For more details see http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/IAEAProtocol.asp

12. Resolution 1441 required Iraq to allow "immediate, unimpeded, unconditional and unrestricted access" to "facilities, buildings, equipment, records, and means of transport which they wish to inspect," as well as a "currently accurate, full, and complete declaration of all aspects of its programmes to develop chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and other delivery systems."
For the full text see: http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2002_12/unres_dec02.asp

13. A three-day air campaign launched by President Clinton in 1998 after UNSCOM inspectors withdrew from Iraq, claiming their inspections were being hampered.

14. See Scott Ritter, "The Case for Iraq's Qualitative Disarmament," Arms Control Today, June 2000.

Interviewed by Miles A. Pomper and Paul Kerr

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Interview with Stephen G. Rademaker, Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control



January 21, 2004
Wade Boese and Miles Pomper

ACT: Some critics of the administration charge that it is anti-arms control. How would you respond to that criticism?

Rademaker: I don't think that's true at all. I think we have a very good record on arms control issues. Obviously, we are in a period that is different than the period of the Cold War so we've had to adapt the structure of arms control to deal with the contemporary security issues that we face. That's meant that some arms control arrangements that made sense during the Cold War, like the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, no longer made sense and we've parted company with them. As you well know, there were predictions that if we did that the inevitable result would be a new arms race, but history has been unkind to people who made that prediction. Within six months of terminating the ABM Treaty, we signed the Moscow Treaty [also known as the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty], which provided for the largest reduction ever in deployed strategic nuclear warheads.[1] In the past year, we've brought that treaty into force and we're very proud of it. We'll match our strategic arms control agreement up against that of any other administration. As you know, the last strategic arms control agreement negotiated between the United States and Russia was under the previous Bush administration. So I guess I'm perplexed by the suggestion that we need to defend our record.

ACT: As you know the historic bargains of arms control grants governments access to nuclear, chemical and biological materials, technologies and know-how for their civilian and defense related programs in exchange for not developing weapons. The administration has raised the question of whether these bargains still make sense. Is there an answer to that question and is it time for these bargains to be modified or dropped?

Rademaker: I think recent developments in Iran really put that question in perspective, because what is clear from the evidence that has emerged with regard to Iran is that it has been violating its obligations under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and under its safeguards agreement. They're no longer denying these violations. The only possible explanation for the violations was that they were intent upon developing nuclear weapons in violation of their international obligations. So then, once this evidence was uncovered, we confront the question "What to do about it?" Their contention, which, unfortunately, received some support in other quarters, is that we should just let bygones be bygones, that the Atoms for Peace bargain is the Atoms for Peace bargain and, having been caught red handed, we should excuse their previous violations and reinstate them as a NPT party in good standing and, as such, they should be entitled to technical cooperation under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), that they should be entitled to have a uranium enrichment program, because that is their treaty right. We question that. They promised to suspend their enrichment program under the deal that was cut late last year. First of all, obviously, suspension is different than termination and dismantlement. It's our view that it would be unacceptable, given their history in this area, for them to get back in the business of enriching uranium. We would hope that international arrangements like the IAEA and the NPT would take into account the fact that, at least in the case of proven cheaters, that the Atoms for Peace bargain needs to be applied in a judicious manner.

ACT: Is there any thought of a broader sort of policy change in terms of this trade-off and this bargain?

Rademaker: I think that there's general recognition that we have some problems under the NPT. There's this extraordinary situation of a country withdrawing from the NPT; I'm referring here to North Korea. We have the Iran problem. Clearly we had a Libya problem that's only now coming to light. So, I think there's a lot of rethinking that's going on, not just here. As I'm sure you know, the Director-General of the IAEA [Mohamed ElBaredei] has come up with a couple proposals of his own.[2] So, I think there's general recognition that we've got some problems with the existing arrangements and the desire in many quarters to reconsider some of these things.

ACT: Are there any proposals out there that you can say you're actively looking at as a way to revisit these bargains?

Rademaker: Well, we consider all the proposals that are made. We're considering the proposal made by [IAEA Director-General Mohamed] ElBaradei. We're considering what makes sense from our point of view. This is something we're looking at actively, but I'm not in a position today to tell you that we've decided to put forward the following three U.S. proposals. As you know, we have a NPT review conference coming up and we have one more PrepCom before that takes place.

ACT: So you expect this on the agenda?

Rademaker: I think inevitably it is something that the participants in that process will want to look at.

ACT: In general, the administration, including you, has been quite critical of the UN, the Conference on Disarmament, and the international disarmament machinery as not doing enough to address peace and security issues. Can you discuss what they should be doing and what are some of the U.S. recommendations and prescriptions for ensuring that the UN and its disarmament process remain relevant?

Rademaker: Well, we've been concerned that the UN disarmament process has lost some of its relevance and has been ineffective in recent years and there's no better example of that than the gridlocked Conference on Disarmament over the past 7 years. We've been dissatisfied with that, but I think everyone is dissatisfied with that. I'm not sure you'll find any country that will say that's an acceptable state of affairs. There may have been some movement late last year in the Conference on Disarmament as far as the position of China on negotiating a FMCT (fissile material cutoff treaty), so there is some prospect that finally, after 7 years, work may resume in Geneva. But, there are various proposals floating around about how to resume work and I'm not sure there has yet emerged a consensus on how the CD will get back to work.

ACT: In that case, is the U.S prepared to support negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty at this point?

Rademaker: The FMCT is not a new idea. It is a decade old idea at least. It was conceived at a time when this approach was considered the solution to nuclear breakout in South Asia. The mandate for FMCT negotiations was notionally finalized in 1995, in the so-called Shannon mandate, and, since then, there have been no negotiations.[3] As you know, there were radical developments in South Asia in the interim, so the philosophical objective of the FMCT has evolved in the meantime. Obviously, we can no longer stop nuclear breakout in South Asia with an FMCT. Now the suggestion is that an FMCT is a way to cap a nuclear arms race in South Asia. But with the developments in the CD late last year, we have had to take a fresh look at the whole question of FMCT and this 9-year-old mandate that has been sitting there. We're still in the process of evaluating how we think an FMCT would work in the contemporary environment. That review is ongoing and we don't have an outcome yet that we're prepared to announce.

ACT: Any timeframe for this?

Rademaker: Well, we're all aware of the fact that the CD reconvened two days ago in Geneva and there's an expectation that the U.S. is going to pronounce on both FMCT and then the larger package of possible proposals, and so we know that we don't have unlimited time to provide an answer one way or the other. On the other hand, the interagency process moves slower than we in government would sometimes like. So I regret that I can't tell you that next week we will have answer or how soon we'll have an answer.

ACT: Is your support for an FMCT, though, contingent upon this review?

Rademaker: Well, yes. Our position on FMCT will be determined as a result of the review

ACT: Is the FMCT as an idea still supported by the United States government and you're just looking at various ways the treaty would be negotiated or is the review a reconsideration of the concept in general?

Rademaker: I think given that this is a concept that's been around for a long time and a concept that has not evolved while the context in which it exists has evolved, we are looking at the threshold question, does an FMCT make sense, as well as the question of, if it does make sense, what kind of FMCT would we want to see?

ACT: There's been much discussion about the question of noncompliance and you mentioned Iran. One suggestion has been the creation of an international inspectorate to investigate illegal weapons activities, particularly in the biological weapons and missile field, which don't have organizations to do that. President Chirac and Hans Blix have put forward proposals on this. So far the administration hasn't embraced the idea. What does the administration see as viable alternatives?

Rademaker: As you know, the administration took a close look at the proposed inspectorate for biological weapons under the Biological Weapons Convention protocol and we decided that we didn't like what we saw and we walked away from that. I haven't seen any other international inspectorate proposals with regard to biological weapons that we would be in a position to accept or support. On missiles, I think the verification challenges are different, but, again, I've not seen an international inspectorate proposal that we could support. Frankly, I think one of the things that is going on is that coming out of the Iraq situation we have this UN entity in search of a mission. It's not the view of the United States government that that's the proper way to establish inspectorates, because we have a bunch of people and we need to do something with them. That's backwards. The proper way to go about it is to identify the problem that we seek to address and then develop an answer that speaks to the problem. I think UNMOVIC today is an answer in search of a problem, not a problem in search of an answer. The very fact that people are saying "Let's have UNMOVIC do missiles, no, let's have UNMOVIC do biology," shows that its an answer in search of a problem.

ACT: In light of the U.S. search for WMD in Iraq, which so far hasn't turned up any definitive weapons or weapons programs, does that make the administration rethink UNMOVIC's record in Iraq? The inspectors were saying, "The weapons are not there, we're not finding substantial evidence." Does this bolster support for, "Hey, these guys can do a good job?"

Rademaker: Again, all suggestions today that we should bring UNMOVIC to bear on particular arms control problems around the world are, as I said, answers in search of a problem. Any retrospective reevalution of the effectiveness of UNMOVIC would not bear on my fundamental point, which is that this is backwards to approach verification problems in this way. Let's identify the problem and then figure out what solution might make sense, not approach it from the perspective of we've got this UN entity and we need to do something with it.

ACT: North Korea and Iran are clearly the two countries that top the administration's proliferation concerns. Does one of them keep you up more at night?

Rademaker: No, because I'm the assistant secretary for arms control and I let the assistant secretary for nonproliferation stay up late at night worrying about Iran versus North Korea.

ACT: There were reports this morning that Iran is failing to fulfill its agreements with the foreign ministers' initiative to suspend its uranium enrichment. How does the administration rate Iran's progress in fulfilling these commitments in general and do you think that this foreign ministers' approach was the right one?

Rademaker: I thought it was deeply troubling that as soon as the agreement was announced, the Iranian press and the spokesman for the Iranian government went to great lengths to stress that they were only promising to suspend rather than terminate their enrichment program and further to stress that, from their perspective, the most important element of the entire arrangement was the reaffirmation of their rights under the NPT to have a peaceful nuclear program, which, when it comes to the question of uranium enrichment, I think translates to they fully intend to eventually terminate the suspension and get back into the business of enriching uranium. So, this has been a concern from the outset that we have had in the US government and I'm not surprised at all to see press accounts suggesting that Iranian compliance is not what we hoped it would be.

ACT: So what's the next step?

Rademaker: As you know, the IAEA board of governors is seized with this matter and I expect this will be something that's discussed at the next meeting of the board.

ACT: The United States is obviously a part of the Board of Governors. What do we expect to advocate as one of the members of that board?

Rademaker: We certainly would want to make sure that Iran is out of the business of enriching uranium.

ACT: So that would require calling for dismantlement, not suspension?

Rademaker: Yes. Let me interject. I'm the arms control guy. These are all nonproliferation questions, so if I hesitate, it's because you're forcing me to give another bureau's answers to these questions.

ACT: What is the status of the U.S. review of whether the United States should sign the Ottawa convention by 2006 as President Clinton previously pledged?

Rademaker: We're certainly not on track to sign the Ottawa Convention. We've been reviewing our landmines policy and I would anticipate that in the not too distant future we will announce a new administration policy with regard to landmines, but that policy will certainly not include signature of the Ottawa convention.

ACT: Can you give us any sense of what it will include?

Rademaker: No.

ACT: The U.S., though, will continue efforts to negotiate a protocol at the CCW on the anti-vehicle mine issue?

Rademaker: Correct.

ACT: As you mentioned earlier, next year will be the 5-year review conference of the NPT. Do Bush administration initiatives to explore new nuclear weapons designs for new missions contradict its Article VI commitment?

Rademaker: No.

ACT: Why not?

Rademaker: It's quite clear there's no provision in the NPT that prohibits nuclear-weapon states from continuing to explore new weapons designs, which is all we're doing at this point. The NPT has been around since 1968. The vast majority of weapons in our inventory were designed since 1968 so it's certainly a novel suggestion that we're prohibited from developing nuclear weapons under the NPT.

ACT: How would you assess the U.S. record in complying with Article VI?

Rademaker: I'm quite happy to stand on the Moscow Treaty and the two-thirds reduction in our deployed strategic nuclear warheads. I think we can point toward greater progress under this administration in moving toward the objectives of Article VI than can be pointed to under the entire previous history of the NPT.

ACT: As part of the agreement under the review conference of 2000, there were these 13 steps that were agreed to. One of them was the irreversibility of reductions. The Moscow Treaty does not require any warheads or delivery systems to be destroyed and it expires, essentially, the same day that it enters into force. So does this go against the U.S. pledge to make its reductions irreversible?

That would certainly be a novel interpretation of what irreversibility of reductions means. I would have thought that irreversibility of reductions means that you reduce by two-thirds you can't subsequently build-up beyond the reduction. To say that to reduce deployed forces requires you to also dismantle warheads, that's never been the case under any previous strategic arms control agreement and, obviously, the previous agreements were negotiated before the 13 steps were agreed.

ACT: But they did call for destroying the launchers.

Rademaker: That's correct, but not the warheads. I was perplexed throughout this debate about the Moscow Treaty that anyone could find fault with the absence of a provision in the Moscow Treaty mandating warhead dismantlement. There's no precedent for such a requirement in any bilateral arms control agreement with Russia.

ACT: There was an agreement at the Helsinki Summit to explore warhead dismantlement within START III though.

Rademaker: I was talking about arms control agreements. I mean, you have START II, you have START I, you have SALT II, SALT I. None of them required dismantlement of warheads. Then the Bush administration negotiates the Moscow Treaty and suddenly there's this objection that it doesn't contain a dismantlement provision, which was not an objection that was ever voiced with respect to START II, START I, SALT II, SALT I.

ACT: The Bush administration has focused much of its attention on rolling back or denying Iraq, Iran, and North Korea nuclear weapons programs, yet the administration has said little about the programs of Israel, India and Pakistan. Is the Bush administration conferring legitimacy on these weapons programs?

The most important distinction, of course, between the two categories of countries you cited were, in the case of the first category, we're talking about countries that have nuclear programs that violate their obligations as parties to the NPT. The second category of countries, you're talking about countries that are not violating the international legal obligation that they've undertaken. Those countries, and obviously it's the vast majority of countries in the world, that entered the NPT did so with their eyes open and we all understood as we came in that there were particular problems when it came to adherence by India, Pakistan, and Israel. So, does the U.S. support nuclear weapons programs in those countries? Absolutely not. But do we see it as a different kind of threat to the NPT regime? Absolutely. North Korea is a profound threat to the NPT regime. Countries can be a part of the regime while it serves their interest and then pull out when they feel like they've sufficiently advanced their nuclear programs to go it alone outside the NPT, well, the entire regime has been subverted. We think holding countries that adhere to the NPT to their commitments is a very high priority.

ACT: Why is the U.S. opposed to negotiating an agreement banning weapons from outer space?

Rademaker: It's our view that there's not an arms race in outer space so to negotiate a treaty prohibiting an arms race in outer space presumes a fact not in evidence. The fact is that we do have an arms control regime in outer space under the Outer Space Treaty and we think that treaty adequately covers the field. Now, we have said in Geneva that we're prepared to have a discussion about arms control considerations as they might apply to outer space, but the idea that its right to negotiate some new treaty banning a nonexistent arms race in outer space we consider premature, so we've not been prepared to agree to the commencement of such a negotiation.

ACT: Last question. Have proposals to shift and realign U.S. force deployments in Europe taken into account the provisions of the CFE and Adapted CFE Treaties, as well as the NATO/Russia Founding Act?

Rademaker: The decision-making on any redeployments in Europe is still underway, so it would be premature for me to assure you that the outcome of our decision-making has been something that fully complies with the CFE Treaty. What I can assure you of is that we are very mindful of our existing obligations under the current CFE Treaty, the obligations we hope to one day have under the Adapted Treaty and I expect that the results of the decisions will take account of those obligations and will be compliant with them. But, again, until the final decisions are made, I hesitate to tell you that. Well, it's impossible for me to tell you that they're compliant with the treaties, because the decisions haven't been reached yet.

ACT: Is there anything you want to add?

Rademaker: No.


1. The accuracy of this statement is debatable. Under START I, Washington and Moscow both committed to reduce their arsenals by more than 4,000 warheads, from more than 10,000 warheads down to 6,000. Under SORT, they agreed to reductions of between 3,800 and 4,300 warheads from 6,000 warheads to no more than 2,200 warheads and no less than 1,700 warheads. In addition, the SORT treaty followed on the preexisting if unimplemented START II agreement which committed both countries to no more than 3,500 warheads.
2. See "Curbing Nuclear Proliferation, an interview with Mohamed ElBaredei," Arms Control Today, November 2003.
3. The CD agreed to negotiations on a FMCT in August 1998, although they did not evolve to a point where a chairman was appointed to lead the talks before the session (and the agreed mandate) expired.

Interviewed by Wade Boese and Miles A. Pomper

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