“What's really strikes me about ACA is the potential to shape the next generation of leaders on arms control and nuclear policy. This is something I witnessed firsthand as someone who was introduced to the field through ACA.”
– Alicia Sanders-Zakre
June 2, 2022

Interview With The Special Representative To Promote The Ratification Process Of The CTBT Jaap Ramaker



Interviewed by Oliver Meier and Miles A. Pomper

On Oct. 18, Oliver Meier, the Arms Control Association’s international representative and correspondent, and Arms Control Today Editor Miles A. Pomper talked to Ambassador Jaap Ramaker about efforts to achieve entry-into-force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Ramaker, a Dutch diplomat, was appointed in 2003 by CTBT member states as special representative to promote the ratification process of the CTBT. He was confirmed in that position during the Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the CTBT, which took place recently on Sept. 21-23 in New York. Ramaker, who at the time chaired the test ban negotiations, has been tasked with serving as a liaison between the countries that have already ratified the CTBT and those that have not done so. The CTBT will formally enter into force after 44 designated “nuclear-capable states” have deposited their instruments of ratification with the UN Secretary-General. To date, 176 states have signed and 125 have ratified the treaty. Yet of the 44 specified countries, only 33 have ratified the treaty.

ACT: What do you think governments could do to exercise more persistent top-level diplomacy in support of CTBT entry into force?

Ramaker: Let me first of all say that I already enjoy quite a bit of support. The European Union, for instance, adopted a while ago a Common Position when they were preparing for the [nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty] NPT Review Conference.[1] In that Common Position, the EU members said that they give me their full support. Recently in China, the Chinese authorities told me that they are very supportive of what I’m doing and trying to do. And it’s my impression that other countries certainly are supportive of what I’m doing and also are promoting entry into force themselves. You know, countries like Australia or Japan, or Russia and Canada, and I’m sure there are others—I don’t want to leave anyone out— each of them in its own way acts in favor of entry into force of the Treaty. That also helps me in my task. We’re all working towards the same objective.

ACT: You mentioned China in your presentation. Is there any movement or any news on China? As you know, for some time they’ve talked about completing their ratification proc edure.

Ramaker: This is also a concern to me. When I was in China last April my interlocutors told me that China is moving forward but carefully. During the last NPT Review Conference in New York the Chinese delegation stated that China is now working very hard on the internal legal proceedings needed for ratification. I take their word for it.

ACT: And did they give you any more specifics other than they were working hard, any milestones?

Ramaker: Well, I cannot be more specific than they are. That is clear.

ACT: You mentioned Vietnam also. What’s your assessment with regard to Vietnam? Do you think there will be movement with regard to their ratification?

Ramaker: I visited Vietnam in November last year. I’ve since been in touch with Vietnam. And I talked to the foreign minister of Vietnam in New York recently and my impression is that the Vietnamese are really working on this issue and that to me sounds positive.

ACT: You’ve also been to Pakistan, I believe. And Pakistan and India have not even signed the treaty. Can you tell us a little bit about your efforts with regard to South Asia and how you see the situation there?

Ramaker: There are three regions as I also mentioned in my statement in New York last month where issues of nuclear disarmament, of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, of nonproliferation are in my view part of some sort of a wider regional context. Obviously this is the case with South Asia, with India and Pakistan, as well. [Unlike India] Pakistan received me in November last year. I had a good exchange of views with the Pakistani side on various aspects of the treaty, but I don’t think that there is any movement to be seen on their part towards at least signing the treaty at the moment. What I find interesting on the other hand is that India and Pakistan are engaged at present in a process of nuclear confidence-building measures between themselves. These confidence-building measures also relate to the issue of nuclear weapon test explosions. Given the situation as it is, I have encouraged my interlocutors in Pakistan at least to continue on that path. For instance, it would be interesting to see whether the two of them could not one way or the other formalize their already mutually agreed confidence-building measures on nuclear testing into some sort of a bilateral legally binding arrangement.

ACT: One of the provisions in the U.S.-India framework agreement is that the Indians will maintain their moratorium on nuclear testing.[2] Has there been any attempt, have you attempted to follow up on that discussion at all in terms of this kind of confidence-building discussion that you mentioned with Pakistan?

Ramaker: No, I’m not involved in any way in what’s going on in this sphere of nuclear cooperation between the United States and India.

ACT: Well, I was speaking specifically about this moratorium, because right now there’s sort of a bilateral moratorium between the Pakistanis and the Indians, but this was an attempt to make it broader.

Ramaker: Just to be precise, the text on nuclear testing agreed between India and Pakistan doesn’t talk in terms of a bilateral moratorium. It talks about two unilateral moratoria. So each side pledged to the other to maintain its own moratorium, and obviously any appeal to continue to adhere to the moratorium observed by one of them is in itself positive.

ACT: Can we change subjects slightly? You were reappointed during the recent Article XIV conference and right now work together with Australia, which is the coordinating state until the next Article XIV conference.[3] What efforts are you planning to undertake to accelerate entry into force during the next couple of years?

Ramaker: I think there are a number of things to be done. First of all, I tend to distinguish between two aspects of the treaty. On the one hand there is the need to continue to increase the support of the treaty in terms of the overall numbers of signatures and ratifications. Raising these numbers, many feel and I feel myself too, will strengthen the norm against nuclear weapons testing that already now exists. That is one objective. On the other hand there is of course the question of the actual entry into force of the treaty itself. As you know, of the 44 countries that have to ratify before the treaty can enter into force, we are still missing 11.[4]

I will focus on both aspects, but if I may say so in a considered way. As to the question of increasing the overall numbers of signatures of ratification, I intend to use a combination of methods, so to speak. In some cases I will make bilateral visits. In other cases I will attend regional conferences or international fora that countries that have not yet signed or ratified will attend or participate in. In the margins of these conferences I will seek meetings with their government officials - prime ministers, foreign ministers - that are there and draw their attention to the relevance and the importance of the Treaty and their country's early adherence. Of course signature and ratification by any given country in the last analysis is an internal matter. As far as signature is concerned it depends first of all on a decision that that country has to make for itself. And as far as ratification is concerned, each country of course has its own constitutional requirements that will have to be met. I have to respect that.

Secondly, there is the question of the entry into force of the Treaty proper, the second aspect I mentioned. Obviously there are among the 11 some countries whose ratification is long overdue and do not have as far as I know particular problems with the substance of the treaty. I’m thinking of Indonesia, of Vietnam, and of Colombia. Well, we already discussed Vietnam. I think they’re on the right track. I am planning a visit to Indonesia in the near future. With regard to my visit to Indonesia it is a matter of finding the right dates on which my interlocutors will be in a position to receive me and I myself will be free to travel. Anyway I do think that the time has come for our Indonesian friends to speed up the ratification process to the extent possible. Indonesia, after all, traditionally is a very active country when it comes to nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament. As you know, the country played an important and constructive role at the time during the [1995] Review and Extension Conference that made the NPT permanent. Indonesia played a very constructive role in the test ban negotiations as well. And, just to quote a recent example, Indonesia was part of the Norwegian initiative of seven countries a little over a month ago. As you know that initiative tried to bridge the differences that exist with regard to nonproliferation and disarmament in the framework of the World [Millennium +5] Summit. So the Indonesians have been very active in all of these areas. They have been calling for ratification of the treaty themselves quite often. So it is fair to say that they favor the treaty. Ratification by Indonesia therefore seems to be a matter of according the right priority to it rather than anything else.

ACT: What’s their explanation of why they haven’t ratified at this point?

Ramaker: Well that is what I’m going to find out when I’m there.

ACT: Can I ask you about another important holdout state: the United States?

Ramaker: I can shed no new light on the situation with regard to a possible U.S. ratification of the treaty. But I hope that in due course the U.S. would wish to revisit the question of the CTBT and analyze whether or not, on balance, it would not be better off with the treaty than without it.

ACT: Maybe we can change back to the Article XIV Conference, and can you comment on the outcome of the conference in general? What are the specific measures agreed to accelerate entry into force and are you happy with the result?

Ramaker: I think first of all that these regular conferences on facilitating entry into force are positive in themselves. The original idea stemmed in the final phase of the negotiations from Canada, when we all realized that it was going to take a long time before the treaty could enter into force. So holding a conference like the one you just mentioned has a stimulating effect in itself. In the run-up to the last conference and during the conference itself, we have seen a number of additional ratifications and at least one additional signature, which is good. If you take a look at the situation during the Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of September 2003 and compare it to the present one of 2005, it is interesting to see quite an increase in the number of states that have signed and ratified. As you know Ambassador [Tom] Grönberg of the outgoing coordinating country Finland reported during the conference in New York that two years before, in September 2003, the treaty had 168 signatures. Now it has 176. Two years ago, he went on, 104 countries had ratified the treaty, but now there are 125. That represents a little over 20 percent increase in two years’ time. Of course when it comes to the list of 44 states progress is much slower. Nevertheless the overall numbers have increased quite a bit and I do think that these conferences play a role in that countries want to participate as full members and not as observers. As a result they tend therefore to speed up their internal decision-making beforehand.

Of course, as to your second question, the conference itself sends a strong signal through the very statements governments make. If I am not mistaken there were 117 delegations participating - about 40-50 at the political level - and all of them were expressing themselves very strongly in favor of ratification. And I think that in itself is very welcome. Then there was the final document adopted at the end of the conference. I noted that the media this time paid considerably more attention to the conference's outcome than in 2003. The [CTBT Organization] CTBTO in Vienna has compiled the press articles and also the internet items. That compilation has the size of a telephone book of a small city, so to speak, which is not bad. Then of course, for me the main, well, one of the main, measures adopted is to be found in the continued support in the Final Document for my own work, as special representative, which I think is very helpful.

ACT: There has been this movement, and presumably you can get some more ratifications, but is there a danger of kind of losing momentum at this point because you’re running up against the truly hard cases in this situation?

Ramaker: Yes, we are running up against the hard cases from a number of points of view. If you take the overall numbers—176 countries have signed—you should compare it with the overall membership of the United Nations. If I’m not mistaken that number is now 191. Some of those still missing haven’t signed yet because the treaty is a bit beyond their present political horizon so to speak. In other words the treaty is not really a priority for them. But in a number of other cases there are probably specific reasons why they did not sign. Of course this is obvious, for instance, for two of the three countries that didn’t join the NPT— India and Pakistan—but I think for a few others as well. Anyhow, there is still some potential for increase in the overall number of signatures.

Of course, there is a much greater potential for an increase in the number of ratifications. Here again it is often a matter of priorities and limited means. In many cases countries have quite a number of treaties waiting for ratification. In some of these cases officials told me that they were just in the process of making an inventory of all the treaties that they still had to work on. Then they will have to assign a priority to them because their capacity to do the necessary preparatory and legislative work for ratification of international instruments is indeed limited. So then my role is to say, well, do take a look at this treaty and see whether you can raise its priority in your overall legislative work.

ACT: In that context, maybe, could you more generally tell us what activities you would like to see from states that have already ratified to support entry into force and to support your work also?

Ramaker: Well, I do think that, the CTBT, indeed the entire issue of nuclear weapons tests and nonproliferation deserves a higher place in the list of priorities that states apparently use when they deal with each other. It remains important that the question of the test ban's entering into force is being raised at times at a sufficiently high - if not the highest - political level. That does not always happen unfortunately. And because in some cases countries have so many other issues to discuss with each other that they feel may be more acute that this treaty then sort of falls by the wayside. I think that is wrong and has to be changed whenever possible. On the other hand I know that quite a few countries do raise these issues at the right political level.

This last summer, for instance, when President Hu [Jintao] of China paid a state visit to the Russian Federation, the two countries, according to the final statement of that visit, agreed to work together for an early entry into force of the test ban. This means that the issue had been raised on that occasion at the highest political level—and I think that’s good.

ACT: You and many governments also at the September entry into force conference have said that the CTBT is an essential part of broader efforts to stem proliferation of nuclear weapons and to work toward nuclear disarmament. What impact do you think the failure of the NPT Review Conference in May had on your work, and what will be the consequences for the CTBT in general?

Ramaker: I would like to hope that the failure of the last NPT Review Conference to reach consensus on a final document, and subsequently of the World Summit to agree on a chapter on nonproliferation on disarmament, would focus the minds of governments on the real reasons underlying this. I would hope that, these governments as a result would give somewhat more thought to the question of how one could bridge the gaps that presently exist. So that’s the potentially positive side to these two failures in a row. Of course, it’s a pity in itself that profound differences exist in the first place, but that’s the way it is.

ACT:Given that the entry into force of the CTBT is unlikely in the short-term, some already have raised questions about the value of setting up the CTBTO and maintaining the International Monitoring System at a high level of operations. From your perspective, what is the relation between the work being done in Vienna to prepare the treaty’s verification system and the entry into force of the treaty?

Ramaker: From my perspective, which is working towards speeding up the Treaty's entry into force, the work in Vienna is very valuable. I was recently in Vienna when the new Executive Secretary [Tibor Toth] was briefing a group of visitors from the Netherlands that I was with on the progress being made in building the International Monitoring System [IMS]. It was encouraging hearing him say that two-thirds of the stations of the IMS are now up and running. Of course, there is still quite a bit of work to be done but nevertheless. There is a system of on-site inspections being worked out. This treaty, moreover, is unique in that national technical means are integral part of its verification system. What is in the works in other words, is a very, very effective verification system, which should inspire countries to have confidence that no cheating will take place once the Treaty will have taken effect. And that in itself should help in convincing countries to adhere to the Treaty. Still, I think you do have to make a distinction that if there is a non-nuclear-weapon state who wants to show the world that it possesses the capacity to develop nuclear weapons that then they may be interested in not even hiding a nuclear weapon test. But nuclear-weapon states are a different case, and between them it will be essential that they can have the full confidence that no cheating takes place, that no break-outs can take place. Therefore I believe that the work being done in Vienna, which - it should be said here - is of a very high quality, is extremely important also in the light of the promotion of the Treaty as such.

ACT: Do you have any other comments you’d like to add?

Ramaker: I think that it is of course true that under the present circumstances it may take a while before the treaty can really take effect. But the central message of all of this is that we should keep our eye on the ball and simply work continuously and steadily towards our common objective. I don’t think that there is any reason to slow down let alone give up what we’re trying to do. This goes both for the Treaty as such and for the work being done in Vienna. It may take a while, but a permanent ban on nuclear weapon test explosions remains of tremendous importance for our efforts to prevent ever more states from acquiring nuclear weapons if they do not have them yet or improving or "modernizing" them if they do. So we should simply go on with what we are doing as indeed we do.


1. “Council Common Position 2005/329/PESC of 25 April 2005 relating to the 2005 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons”, Council of the European Union, available at: http://europa.eu.int/eur-lex/lex/LexUriServ/site/en/oj/2005/l_106/l_10620050427en00320035.pdf

2. Meeting in Washington July 18, President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh agreed to a raft of measures ranging from promoting democracy abroad to increasing bilateral space cooperation. In the two leaders’ joint statement, Bush pledged to “work to achieve full civil nuclear energy cooperation with India.” The president said he would ask Congress to “adjust U.S. laws and policies” and other countries to “adjust international regimes” to permit India the nuclear goods it wants. In exchange, Singh said Indian nuclear facilities would be divided into military or civilian sites and that civilian facilities would be opened to international oversight. Singh also reaffirmed Indian policies to uphold a nuclear testing moratorium, maintain strict export controls, and support negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) to end the production of key nuclear materials for building nuclear weapons.

3. The Conference on Facilitating the Entry Into Force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) is also known as the Article XIV Conference in reference to the section of the CTBT which allows for such conferences.

4. China , Colombia, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, the United States, and Vietnam have signed the CTBT but not ratified. India, North Korea, and Pakistan have neither signed nor ratified the treaty.

Interviewed by Oliver Meier and Miles A. Pomper

Interview with Tibor Tóth, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization



Oliver Meier

On September 30, one week after the conclusion of the Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in New York, Arms Control Association’s international representative and correspondent Oliver Meier met with Ambassador Tibor Tóth. Tóth, an Hungarian diplomat with extensive experience in the field of arms control and disarmament, is the newly appointed head of the Provisional Technical Secretariat, which sets up the future Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) Organization. He succeeds Wolfgang Hoffmann, who had served as executive secretary since March 1997.

ACT: Ambassador Tóth , you took over Aug. 1 as executive secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization. Could you outline to us briefly what your priorities will be for the next couple of years in your work?

Tóth: Of course the priorities are very much defined by the treaty. They are very much defined by the resolution on the establishment of the [Preparatory Commission]. They are very much defined by the mid-term plan,[1] as well as for five years ahead. In that respect, whatever is prescribed by those documents, we will have to continue the implementation. I see two main areas for the Provisional Technical Secretariat. One is the further universalization of the treaty, and the other area is the continued buildup of the [International Monitoring] System (IMS) and putting in place those necessary ingredients for the implementation of the treaty.

As for the first part, of course, it’s a job shared with the members of our constituency, the signatories and ratifiers. While this is a joint venture of course, on many, many issues, we are doing an extremely important job. Universalization, in my judgment, is not just about ratification. There are important stepping-stones, all signatories or ratifiers are integrated in our family, in our arrangement, if you wish. For many of them, the [IMS] station-building is an important part of the job.

We will have, together with [the relevant states], created the necessary links of communications once those stations are built and certified. We have to see to the creation of the [ National Data Centers] and the communication links between [National Data Centers] and the Vienna International Data Center. [We have to see whether] traffic exists in both directions where, on the one hand we are getting the necessary data—waveform data and radionuclide data—and at the same time, whether we are able to distribute in this testing and provisional creation phase the data as well.

Why is the future operation of this arrangement important? This is a point that I would like to emphasize. The CTBT is a unique arrangement among the verification regimes. We are not just collecting information that is relevant for benchmarking comparisons or implementation, but after we have collected that information, we are sharing all that information with the members of our arrangements. In the second respect, I find it quite a unique and quite a democratic arrangement to enable countries to make good use of that arrangement. We have to enable them through capacity-building, through training to have a capacity available. That’s an important element as well as a stepping-stone leading to more and more integration of signatories and ratifiers. So all these steps are very important on the better integration of countries, which would lead to universalization together with ratification.

ACT:As the former chair of Working Group A,[2] can you briefly describe to us the overall financial situation of the organization and what are your anticipated requirements? Are signatory states making contributions sufficient to meet those needs? Can you tell us which states are in arrears? And also what could be done to improve the financial situation?

Tóth: Yes. Right now, we are close to the end of the third quarter of the year. My own feeling is that we are very close to the payment of the assessed contributions [at the level] where it used to be in the last couple of years. Still, we will have to make sure in the next three months that it really happens. If this will be the case, some still missing contributions will come in. Again, probably we will be above 90 percent of payment. Normally it’s between 90 percent and 95 percent, dependent upon whether we are speaking about the year, the existing financial year, or referring to the previous financial year. This is a very good ratio in the light of some of the difficulties in the other organizations. At the same time, it’s critical for us. We are an organization that is spending less than 20 percent of the budget on administrative costs. Of course, on one hand, it’s quite trivial in the light of the important buildup job we are to carry out. At the same time, it’s a result of certain elements of rationalization where we try to keep the administrative costs as low as possible. As for the prospects, we will have to see whether this payment pattern will continue or not. There might be, in the case of the United States, a continued discussion.

ACT: If I can just ask you a question on that point. The current U.S. administration does not support the treaty, but it continues to contribute a very large portion of the overall assessed dues. It withholds a share, however, that would be used for preparing the on-site inspection regime. A small number of states that provide a smaller share of CTBTO’s budget have also withheld or failed to deliver on their obligation for other reasons. What has been the effect on the work of CTBTO, and what do you think can be done to overcome these challenges?

Tóth: First of all, all payments, big or small, are important. The big ones because of the financial health of the organization; the small ones because of the political dedication expressed. As I mentioned to you, the rate of 90 percent to 95 percent payment is a very healthy rate, so in that respect, compared to many, many organizations, I think we have an excellent example. In the case of the United States, as it was stated by the Secretary of State, we hope that this might be in 2006 a one-time shortfall, if it is not resolved by the joint Senate/House [Conference] Committee, because right now there is a discussion about that.[3]

ACT: If I can just interrupt, what do you think might be the impact on CTBTO if the United States were to further cut its funding? As you mentioned, the Bush administration has proposed contributing $7.5 million less than its assessed contribution. What is your thinking on the possible effects of that?

Tóth: I would suggest waiting for the outcome of this joint Senate/House of Representatives discussion, because, as I understand, there’s a chance that at least a major chunk of the more than $7 million might be brought back as a result of the initiative that was undertaken in the Senate. And of course as I mentioned, the assessed contributions are needed, so we are making good use of the money, but for the continued buildup of the system we need the money. In terms of smaller countries, many of them are probably facing financial or economic difficulties, so it’s not necessarily an absence of political dedication on their side. At the same time, of course, we are encouraging all, all states-parties to pay their assessed contributions.

ACT: If I can change topic, we already mentioned the importance of continuing to build up the IMS. Can you give us a brief overview of current capabilities of the IMS, how many stations are completed? When do you anticipate completion? What is your target date?

Tóth: Around two-thirds of the system is ready, about 60 percent. As for the dynamics, there is a good dynamic because just during the last two years, 115 [IMS stations] were put in place, which is practically doubling the stations in place, so it’s not just the absolute number this time but the dynamics are very rapid. We have to put these numbers in the right context. We are the Preparatory Commission. If you have a look around at how preparatory commissions are functioning normally, real life for those regimes which do have a preparatory commission starts after the entry into force. It was very much the case, for instance, for [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] OPCW. We have to put in place practically the whole system by the time of entry into force. So we, as a newly born baby, were expected from day one not just to walk but to run with high speed if you wish. So we are trying to do that. Another aspect of showing how dynamically our capacity is building is to show it through the products, because the stations are just a means of retrieving products, which is the data—data relevant for future comparisons benchmarking. In the last two years, the daily volume of data exchange tripled from 5 gigabytes per day to 14 gigabytes per day, which is an indication on the one hand of the volume generated by more and more stations. In addition to that, it’s an indication that more and more countries are participating in the provisional operation and the testing of the system. Right now we have 89 countries, and more than 700 end users of the data in those 89 countries. Again, a number dynamically increasing.

ACT: You already mentioned that the system is expected to be ready at entry into force. What’s your planning in terms of when you aim for completion? Could you also talk a little bit about the technical hurdles in completing the system? What do you see as the biggest hurdle right now?

Tóth: First of all, the good news I shared with you is that the system is two-thirds ready. The bad news is that we have to build the remaining one-third, and the low-lying fruit in terms of stations to be built have been built, so those stations that remain are in difficult geographic places, climate-wise in difficult places, or, because of some of the administrative and other arrangements, in difficult conditions. The Provisional Technical Secretariat had to build up two-thirds of the stations in the last nine years. What is ahead of us to bring the level to around 90 percent to 95 percent readiness by the end of 2007. And if you take into account that two-thirds of the stations were built, many of them in easier places in let’s say eight years, then this is quite a challenge. That would mean at the same time that by early 2008, around 90 percent to 95 percent of the system would be ready. Of course, it’s not just about building the stations. It’s about the communication lines; it’s about making those ingredients and putting them in place, which I mentioned earlier, the communication lines, [National Data Centers], the way how we are interacting with states signatories and ratifiers, and in addition to that, the testing on the system. So for nearly a year now we are running a system-wide [performance] test that is called SPT1, and this exercise should give us some idea how in its integrity, the different elements that were created, would really create a system, how they would work together in as seamlessly a way as it is possible.

ACT:Can you say something about the geographical coverage of the system right now? How good is it? What can you detect?

Tóth: The system is quite sensitive and already a couple of years ago the system was good enough to pick up, in 1998, the [Indian and Pakistani] test explosions. The system was good enough to pick up those confidence-building non-nuclear explosions, for instance in the case of Kazakhstan, which were below the 1 kiloton range, I think 0.1 kilotons was the number.[4] And the system was even able to pick up some accidental explosions as well. So it’s a system that is relatively versatile, yes, at the same time we have to improve the coverage of the system. We have to improve the coverage of the system in Asia, we have to improve the coverage of the system in the Middle East, and we have to improve the coverage of the system, geographically speaking, in Africa. We have to, technology-wise, improve the radionuclide components[5] as well, so there is work to be done in that respect. And the other issue is that once we put systems in place, more and more we have to realize there is a maintenance job as well. So putting a system in place is one thing, but there are accidental phenomena, ruptures of cables that we will have to fix as well, so that is another element that is affecting our daily life.

ACT:If I can move away briefly from test-ban monitoring, in March, the Preparatory Commission decided to explore options for releasing IMS data to tsunami-warning organizations.[6] On a trial basis, the Provisional Technical Secretariat was given the mandate to share data from seismic and hydro-acoustic stations[7] immediately with any tsunami-warning organization recognized by UNESCO. Are there are any results from this test yet, and what is the status of discussions for using IMS data for tsunami early-warning?

Tóth: Indeed, based upon this mandate given to us, we did our homework. What I can share with you is that as a result of the effort of all scientists, we managed to narrow down the timeframe needed for the first package of data which, for the purposes of the treaty, we are producing within less than two hours—this is called [Standard Event List] SEL raw data—we managed to reduce that lead time to 20 minutes, for a rawer package of data, at the same time data that is quite relevant for tsunami alert functions. And we are in accordance with the mandate on a testing and exploration basis, sharing this data through UNESCO’s International Geographic Commission, with regional hub organizations like the Northwest Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Japan, or the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Honolulu. We had a discussion in the recent session of Working Group B,[8] end of August/early September, where we number one reported all these efforts on our part, and there were experts from both centers who shared with us their impression, and there seems to be an expectation that we continue this testing and exploration. Of course all that means that these regional hub organizations are releasing further the information. So hopefully with this 20 minutes lead time, if you put this lead time in the 26 of December 2004 context [when a disastrous Tsunami occurred in the Indian Ocean] , this is life-saving data in that context for countries like Thailand, Sri Lanka, countries on the African coast.

ACT: Looking ahead, do you think these trials will be a precedent for wider use of IMS data for other scientific and disaster-relief purposes, and looking even further ahead from a technical perspective, is it possible that data collected and analyzed by the IMS, including radionuclide data, might be useful to CTBT states-parties in assessing whether there are cases of non-compliance with other international agreements, particularly the NPT?

Tóth: First of all, we are exploring these opportunities in accordance with the mandate given to us. So it’s very much up to the state signatories and ratifiers to decide which areas they see that we should additionally explore possibilities. There is a serious exploration undertaken by signatories and ratifiers; during the last three years there were a couple of events—London, Sopron, Hungary, and Berlin—where very intense attention was devoted to both civil and scientific applications of the data. You mentioned some of them. I would like to add the potential relevance of infrasound data[9] as a result of volcanic eruptions for safe security overflight information in areas where such volcanic eruptions might happen. Or the global warming phenomenon could be followed once we can build up the necessary database to compare data. How far member states will request us to move in this direction? My feeling is that we will have to focus on the core function of our mandate, which is CTBT implementation. At the same time as we see, from the renewed mandate given to us as a result of the session of Working Group B, and from the statements that were delivered in the recent Article XIV conference,[10] where there is very strong political support. We probably feel encouraged with this understanding that we shouldn’t lose sight of the core mandate, but we will remain helpful and relevant for humanitarian, disaster-alert, and other purposes. And we achieved all these results without significant additional costs, which is quite important.

ACT: One last question on on-site inspections. Given the absence of the United States representatives from discussions on on-site inspections, how are preparations for on-site inspections going? Are you planning any new measures to speed up discussions, in particular for the on-site inspection manual, and are there any plans to conduct field exercises in the near future?

Tóth: I think what we are doing is very much based, again, on the treaty, language [of] resolutions and the Preparatory Commission midterm plan, and in that respect, on the 2003 Strategic Plan. Those elements indicate to us that, as it is the case with the IMS, there is some system-wide testing that is going on. There is a need to see how, in an integrated context, the [on-site inspection] elements can be brought together. What is foreseen as a result of the recent meeting of Working Group B—and it is subject to approval by the November plenary—is an integrated field exercise to be undertaken in 2008. There are some preparatory steps to mention; two directed exercises will take place as well. All of that of course would require the necessary ingredients to be put in place. You mentioned that the ongoing work on the operational manual is important. There are test manuals to be developed by Working Group B, which should be like an underlying guidance for these exercises. We as the secretariat are working on standard operating procedures, and so please again, in different areas, for this integrated field exercise, on the equipment side there is an expectation that we will receive from member states the necessary in kind support. While I’m not sure that the term “exercise” is fully accurate, all of these elements will have to be put together in a realistic way where we can simulate their function. So that would be the purpose of all activities for the next two to three years in this area. It’s very much like the SPT1, we are trying to test whatever we have created in the last couple of years, based on the level of readiness that we have achieved. I don’t think it’s any speeding up. There’s no speeding up, no slowing down, we are moving forward as it is prescribed.


1. The Medium Term Plan is a planning tool that guides the work of the Preparatory Commission for the period 2005-2009.

2. Working Group A is a subsidiary body of CTBTO’s Preparatory Commission and is responsible for budgetary and administrative matters.

3. See Tiffany Bergin, “Hill Split on CTBTO Funding,” Arms Control Today, September 2005, p. 40.

4. On August 22, 1998, a chemical explosion of 0.1 kiloton was conducted as a confidence-building measure under the CTBT. The explosion took place under a joint U.S.-Kazakhstan program to destroy facilities at the former Soviet nuclear test site in Eastern Kazakhstan. At the time, several International Monitoring System stations in the region were not yet operational, but the explosion was well located on the basis of detections at stations far away in Alaska, Central Africa, Norway, Scotland, and Sweden, as well as at three nearer stations in Russia.

5. The radionuclide network of 80 stations will use air samplers to detect radioactive particles released from an atmospheric nuclear explosion or vented from an underground or underwater nuclear explosion. Forty-one radionuclide stations had been completed as of December 31, 2004. See Preparatory Commission for the CTBTO, “Report of the Executive Secretary on Major Programmes 1-7 for 2004,” CTBT/PC-24/3/Annex III, June 27-28 2005 (hereinafter Report of the Executive Secretary 2004).

6. See Oliver Meier, “CTBTO Releases Test Ban Monitoring Data for Tsunami Warning,” Arms Control Today, April 2005, pp. 39-40.

7. Fifty primary and 120 auxiliary seismic stations will be used to detect seismic waves generated by earthquakes, explosions or other phenomena. Eleven underwater hydroacoustic stations are being established to detect explosions under water or in the atmosphere at low altitude. As of December 31, 2004, 32 primary seismic, 94 auxiliary seismic, and 7 hydroacoustic stations had been completed. See Report of the Executive Secretary 2004.

8. Working Group B is a subsidiary body of CTBTO’s Preparatory Commission and responsible for verification.

9. Sixty land-based infrasound stations will use sonar to detect atmospheric tests. As of December 31, 2004 half of the planned stations had been completed. See Report of the Executive Secretary 2004.

10. The Fourth Conference on Facilitating the Entry Into Force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was held in New York from September 21-23, 2005.

Interviewed by Oliver Meier

Interview With Missile Defense Agency Director Lt. Gen. Henry Obering



Wade Boese and Miles A. Pomper

President George W. Bush has made fielding missile defenses a priority for his administration. In pursuit of this objective, he withdrew the United States from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in June 2002. During his administration, he has requested nearly $40 billion in funding for the Pentagon agency charged with developing ballistic missile defenses, and ordered the 2004 deployment of the initial elements of a defense against long-range ballistic missiles. On Sept. 29, Arms Control Today interviewed Air Force Lt. Gen. Henry Obering, who oversees the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency (MDA), on the current status of and future plans for U.S. anti-missile systems.

ACT:We appreciate you taking the time to talk to us. Could you provide our readers with a snapshot of the current status of ballistic missile defense efforts, particularly the ground-based midcourse (GMD) system?

Obering: First of all, I want to make a couple of points. The ground-based system is of course the most visible and one of the more complex components of our missile defense system. But it is part of a larger capability that we are building, and that is an integrated ballistic missile defense system. It will consist of space-based sensors, sea-based defenses, land-based defenses—along with sea- and land-based sensors—tied to command and control centers. So, we are building an integrated and layered system.

Now, specifically to the ground-based midcourse system, it is the part of the system that is capable at this point of protecting against long-range missile threats. We attack them in the midcourse phase.[1] Since the summer of 2004, we have been emplacing interceptors at Fort Greely, Alaska, and at Vandenberg, California. We currently have seven interceptors placed at Fort Greely and two in California. They are supported by the Defense Support Program satellites, which we have had for years for early warning purposes, and the Cobra Dane radar in the Aleutian Islands, which we just had a very successful test of. In that test on [Sept. 26], we launched an actual long-range target out of the back of a C-17. It comes down in parachutes and then ignites and comes on a threat trajectory into the defended area across the radar. We proved in that test that we were able to detect, track, classify, and generate a fire-control solution against that missile with the interceptors and the actual hardware and software that we have in an operational configuration today.

ACT:Let me ask you a question on the interceptors placed at Fort Greely. Last October, the appropriate military commands began putting the system through a “shakedown.” Initially, this was described as a process that would last several weeks but it has now been underway for nearly a year and the system is yet to be declared operational. Why is that?

Obering: Well, I do not know who classified that as only being for several weeks.[2] I am unaware of that. What we decided to do was what you would do with any system of this complexity—much like taking a ship on a shakedown cruise. That is what we have been doing since last October.

Let me get to a broader point here for just a second and then come back. We live in a different world then when we signed the ABM Treaty during the Cold War with the Soviet Union. The way that we acquired, produced, developed, and tested [weapon] systems grew up in that Cold War environment. And, to be very frank, there was not a sense of urgency then that we have developed in this day and age. So, we felt we were totally defenseless against a country that would develop a long-range or, even for that matter, a medium-range threat against the United States. We had no defense against that. In [missile defense] testing we did from 2000 to 2002,[3] we successfully intercepted targets. We did that with a prototype of the [exoatmospheric] kill vehicle (EKV)[4] that we have in the ground today. That gave us enough confidence that we had a capability that we ought to start getting out the door; again, because we had no defense at all. Had we been attacked, I would have been hard-pressed to say why I did not try to start getting that capability into the field. So that was the rationale behind starting to put out a defensive line of capabilities. Is it perfect? No. Is it what we are going to have for the future in terms of this idea? No. We are going to continue to improve this.

In fact, we have already had at least two major configuration changes to the system with respect to updated software in the fire control system of the command-and-control and battle management system. We continue to develop and wring those out. We have demonstrated that we can take the system from what we would call a developmental state, where we are upgrading this software or upgrading a configuration, into an operational alert state, and then back. We will continue to do this as we improve and upgrade the system. But the point is that when we are in this development mode we can come out of that into an operational mode should we have to for real-world purposes. That is something that is important. You can continue to build a system and improve it while having that inherent capability.

ACT:Is there going to be a point when you are going to declare the system operational?

Obering: Well, first of all, I do not make that call. I am responsible for developing the system and getting it out there. There are a lot of factors that go into what you declare in terms of the capability, not the least of which, obviously, is the technical readiness or the maturity of the system. From a technical and performance perspective, we have a capability that we can use. Had we followed that classic [development] model that I talked about in the Cold War era, we would just now begin to probably start some of our testing to support a fielding decision, meaning that we would be three or four years away from having any operational defensive capability. We would be launching targets and interceptors in our test bed in the South Pacific, but in terms of a real live operational capability against a real-world threat, we would not have anything.

This idea of concurrent development and test, development and test, development and test, with inherent capability, is a model that we need to pursue for today’s environment. We have used it on other programs. We used it on Global Hawk and on Predator.[5] In this particular instant where you do not have anything, I think it is very appropriate.

ACT:Two years ago, then-Undersecretary of Defense Edward Aldridge predicted the [ground-based] system would have a 90 percent chance of successfully taking out a North Korean ballistic missile. A few months ago you noted that the system has a “better-than-zero” chance of hitting an incoming missile. What accounts for this seemingly large discrepancy and how do you rate the current system’s ability to intercept a ballistic missile warhead?

Obering: What I meant by “better-than-zero” is that if you do not have anything in the field, you have zero. The specific percentage of the system’s effectiveness is classified. That is why I do not articulate what that is. Now, Undersecretary Aldridge made a comment in testimony and I do not know the context of that in terms of how he made or why he made that remark. But I can tell you that not only is it better than zero, which is what we had a year ago, it is much, much better than zero. I just cannot get into what those details are. Nor, I think, would the American public expect that because we do not typically go into those kinds of details for our systems.

ACT:What is that assessment of much, much better than zero based on?

Obering: The testing that we have done to date. It is based on the confidence that we have continued to build in the system. I want to go back and iterate a little bit about that. A lot of times, critics say, “it is untested, it is unproven, etc.” The fact of the matter is the basic functionality of the system—the ability to intercept a target traveling at the speeds that we are talking about,[6] the ability to engage in a terminal engagement and destroy the target—we have seen that in intercepts that we have done in the 2000-2002 timeframe. We took the kill vehicle that accomplished those intercepts and we improved it by making it more producible and making it a more robust design. The booster that we have in the ground today, we have actually flown successfully in the current configuration twice before and in a similar configuration another time. Is the system designed for a very, very complex threat suite? The answer is no. But what it can handle is what we anticipate the threat to be in the near term. We will evolve and improve the system over time to handle what we think the threat is going to evolve to.

ACT:You mentioned testing; there has not been a successful intercept test since October 2002. The interceptors that are deployed now in Alaska and California are comprised of boosters and kill vehicles that have never been flight-tested together. What gives you confidence that these interceptors will work?

Obering: Good question. I want to be a little specific about why we have not had a successful test since 2002. A large measure of that time was to stand down because we thought we had learned as much as we could learn from those tests. We had basically wrung out those configurations as much as we could. A large measure of that stand down was to take the money that we would have had in further testing of that design and put it into the development of the [interceptor] configuration that we have in the holes today.

When we came back up on line last year to begin our flight testing again, we ran into a problem in December and a problem in February.[7] Those problems had nothing to do with the basic functionality of the system. They were basically technical glitches.

In December, we had a software timing issue in the booster; we actually flew with that twice before. It was easily fixed. It was one parameter in one software line of code.

In terms of the February test, we had a ground support arm in a silo that did not clear out of the way. That turned out to be workmanship and a quality control issue. Let me explain. We have two silos down in the South Pacific that we test out of. The particular configuration of the silo that we were testing out of in February happened to be for a booster configuration that is no longer in the program and there had to be some modifications done to that silo to accommodate the booster that we now have in Alaska and California. It was the workmanship surrounding the modifications to that test silo that led to this failure. This was not the rocket science part. We determined that based on workmanship there was some salt air fog that got into the silo. It corroded a hinge and that is what [led to the failure]. We do not have that problem in Alaska or in California with respect to the silos.

Since we had the failures in December and in February, I wanted to make sure that we had wrung everything out. Because when you have two failures in a row like that, even when they are peripheral to the basic functionality of the system, you want to make sure that you do not have any other problems lurking, especially when you talk about quality-control, workmanship, and that type of thing. I established the Independent Review Team to take a look at the program and review every aspect of it, basically soup-to-nuts, and to tell me where we needed to pay attention. They made some great recommendations. Since May, we have been going through the items that they have recommended and we have laid out a systematic test program that we plan to get back into here in a couple of months. In the meantime, we have been taking components of the booster and the kill vehicle and putting them through qualification testing. We have been doing full qualification testing on the booster’s software. So those have been the pacing items to get us back into flight testing.

ACT: You mentioned the Independent Review Team; their conclusion was that there was not enough flight data to validate [testing] models and simulations. Once again, how do you have confidence that the interceptors will work?

Obering: Well, the major conclusion that they had is that there were no design flaws that they could tell in the system. That was one of the primary [findings] they made. You almost never have enough flight test data to validate all the simulations and models that you need. However, I can tell you on the booster flights that we have accomplished for the booster configuration that is sitting in the silos in Alaska and California, we have flown that and those models for the flight test have very accurately predicted the performance of those boosters, including the launch environments and everything else. We have to have more flight test data. There is no doubt about that. But we can now get that data as part of our flight test program and, at the same time, have at least some type of capability, should we need it, to counter an operational real world threat. This is not a game. It tends to be a game sometimes, I think, inside the beltway.

ACT: If I may, what’s the reasoning behind conducting the next two flight tests without a target and then waiting to go back to intercept testing next year?

Obering: First of all, any time that you go through that type of systematic exhaustive review of your program, you want to go back and make sure that you minimize the variability when you resume testing. We want to take this a step at a time now. We are being very conservative to make sure that we have thought through everything.

The rationale for not flying against a target in the next flight test is we want to make sure we can take the kill vehicle through its paces. We are going to be able to do some things with that kill vehicle now that we would not be able to do if we were flying against a target. For example, if there is no target when the kill vehicle opens its eyes, it is going to do some maneuvers that we have not had to do in the recent test program.

The reason we are going to fly the second flight test without a target is because we are going to start launching the interceptor out of an operational site, which is Vandenberg. You do not do that overnight. You have got to make sure that you have tested the crews; that they are ready. Moving to a new site means you have new aspects of range safety and everything else. Therefore, you want to make sure that you have got that right before you go against a target.

Then we introduce targets for the third test and the fourth test.

ACT: Will those be fired from Kodiak [ Island, Alaska]?[8]

Obering: From Kodiak, exactly.

ACT:Our readers, as I am sure you are not surprised, have closely followed the debate over missile defenses and the ABM Treaty. As you know, in December 2001, the president announced that the United States would withdraw from the treaty. How has that withdrawal benefited U.S. missile defense programs?

Obering: Tremendously. Absolutely tremendously. It also benefited arms control. Because, let’s face it, we are the ultimate in arms control. When all else fails, we have to have something between us and a weapon. When attempts to diplomatically disarm other countries fail, we have to perform.

At the time the ABM Treaty was signed in 1972, it was appropriate for the environment that we were in. It was a very good thing because our primary threat at that time was the Soviet Union, which had missiles capable of reaching the United States. The concept of mutually assured destruction was evident; it was stabilizing between the two countries. The lessoned learned from the ABM Treaty is make sure that you have the right treaty with the right nation. In 1972, there were about eight nations around the world that had ballistic missiles or ballistic missile technologies and most of those were friendly to the United States. Today, there are more than 20 countries around the world that have ballistic missiles and ballistic missile technologies and many of those countries are not friendly to the United States or, at least, could be considered hostile to some of our intents and interests. For us to have abided by the ABM Treaty with a country that no longer existed, while the rest of the world were arming themselves with these weapons, flies in the face of responsible defense for the American people. I could not honestly look an American in the face and say that we are providing for the common defense if we are not addressing a threat that was growing around the world.

ACT: Were there specific actions that you would not have been permitted to do under the treaty that you have done since the withdrawal?

Obering: You bet. We could not have built an integrated capability, which you are going to have to do against these types of threats. The ability for us right now to take an Aegis radar[9] and tie information [that it gathers] into a fire control system for a ground-based weapon located in Alaska or California would have been a violation of the treaty. We could not mix strategic and tactical or theater weapons systems together to achieve the capability that we now have and that we will continue to improve.[10] This idea of mixing and matching sensors and interceptors and command-and-control elements to expand your detection and engagement capability over a single, autonomous system would have been prohibited by that treaty. So the ability to even develop and field a capability, other than the one site that was allowed in the treaty, would have been prohibited.

Again, the treaty was a recognition of the environment in which it was written. It is not the environment that we have today. We had to take very realistic steps to address today’s environment and today’s threats. I do not view this as a zero-sum game like some people do. We have to continue diplomatic efforts to try to encourage countries not to invest in weapons of mass destruction. One of the ways you can do that—and I think historically speaking it has always been the case—is through strength. You show them that it is not worth the investment. The ultimate missile defense is if we can dissuade a country from ever investing in ballistic missiles to start with. That is one of the primary objectives. If we cannot do that, we have to find ways to deter them from ever using them, and if they do use them, to destroy them before they harm the American people, our interests, or allies.

ACT: Recently you have endorsed exploring the possibility of space-based interceptors. MDA has plans to possibly begin testing and exploring these systems as early as 2012. When will the United States start having to deploy hardware to create this space-based test bed and why do you think this is necessary?

Obering: That is a great question. Let me preface it this way. Twelve years ago, if you had asked me if we were going to be fighting in Afghanistan, I would not have predicted that. If you can tell me where we are going to be fighting 12 years from now or what threat countries we have to deal with or what those threats will look like and where they are coming from, then I could lay out very precisely a terrestrial-based system that could handle that. But we do not know. We know what we know today and we will continue to evolve that.

There are a lot of things about a space-based interceptor that we do not know that we need to explore from a technical perspective. I think it is also a proper debate to have with the American public and in Congress as to whether we want to do this. But speaking from a military perspective and from somebody who is charged with protecting the American people, deployed U.S. forces, allies, and friends against all ranges of missiles in all phases of their flights, it makes sense to explore a space-based interceptor layer. And, it would be nothing more than that. It would be a layer to the system that we have evolved and will continue to evolve terrestrially. There is a lot that needs to be answered and there needs to be an active debate about whether we want to do this. One of the things that I want to make sure is that it is an informed debate and that is why we think it is prudent to do some experimentation with respect to whether you can even achieve [a space-based layer]? Can you build the responsiveness to command-and-control? Is it affordable? If you have interceptors that are unaffordable in terms of their mass, size, weight, or whatever, there is no use in starting down the path. So what we have proposed is not that we are going to actively build a space-based layer. What we have proposed is a very modest and moderate test bed approach to launch some experiments. We have a very modest amount of money beginning in the 2008 timeframe to begin to do this experimentation. The debate can take place in parallel to that and hopefully it will be a much more informed debate than we have today.

ACT:What about those who would point out that initially the Fort Greely site started out as a test bed site and then it was turned into an operational site so why couldn’t a space-based test bed become a deployment site just by changing its name?

Obering: Well, when we took the Fort Greely site as a test bed and it became basically a site with an operational capability, it was done for a good reason. There was a recognition that we had an emerging threat. We had a threat from North Korea and we had to do something about that.[11] I would anticipate that we would not have an operational space-based interceptor layer unless we needed it. But these defenses take time so being able to go from a test bed into an operational status in a very short amount of time is something that is an advantage, not a disadvantage.

ACT:What about the concerns of Russia, China, and others that this could set off an arms race in space?

Obering: The Russians and the Chinese understand, or at least should understand, that the scale of what we are doing nowhere near matches what they can amass in terms of attack profiles and quantities. We are not talking about a massive Brilliant Pebbles[12] or a massive space-based interceptor constellation that would come anywhere near close to countering a Russian or Chinese threat. We are not talking about that. We are talking about a modest layer to help us engage emerging threats that could occur around the world over the next decade. Now, some people also describe this as the weaponization of space. That is a term that we do not do enough examination of. What we are talking about doing—if this pans out—is putting very small-scale interceptors into space that would be defensive weapons. They would have no offensive capability. They would have no ability to attack anything on the ground. They would not have the survivability to come back through the atmosphere.

ACT:They could attack satellites in space.

Obering: It depends on how we design them. It depends on what their intent and their use are. A warhead traveling through space and a satellite traveling through space are very different. These have to be considered defensive weapons because, again, just by design and by the nature of what we are talking about. But I am not the one to decide that. All I am charged to do is to try to make sure that we have thought through the technical aspects and that we have got an informed debate. This is a decision that needs to be made by the American people and, obviously, debated in Congress.

ACT: How many interceptors, in general, are we talking about for a test bed in space?

Obering: Not even a handful to start with. We are talking about onesies, twosies in terms of experimentation. That is all we are talking about.

ACT: There are also concerns about the creation of space debris. What is your perspective on that issue?

 Obering: I think there is a lot of misunderstanding about that. I think there is a lot we still need to work out and think through about debris. By the way, we intercept in space today. Our intercepts for the GMD system and for Aegis occur in space today. So we understand and know how to handle debris issues associated with a test bed. Debris is somewhat of a side issue. I know we have folks that are actively looking and exploring it. But you can get different opinions of that depending on which side you engage.

ACT: Back on Earth, could you update us on U.S. plans to deploy long-range interceptors in Europe?

Obering: We have money that has been budgeted beginning in the 2006 timeframe for this, and we think it is important for a variety of reasons. Part of our strategy is not only to protect the U.S. homeland, but also to protect our deployed forces, our allies, and friends. We are concerned about threats that may emerge from the Middle East. Having another interceptor site in Europe would greatly [complicate] not only an attacker’s problem with respect to the United States in terms of how many interceptor sites they have to deal with, but it also primarily provides coverage to our allies and friends. There are several nations in Europe that are very interested in hosting a third interceptor site and we will continue to pursue that over the next year.[13]

ACT: Has there been any determination made whether these would be the ground-based midcourse interceptors or Kinetic Energy Interceptors?[14]

Obering: Like anything else we do, we try to crawl, walk, and then run. The only interceptors that would be available in the near term would be the ground-based midcourse interceptors that we have today in Alaska and California. If we can evolve this Kinetic Energy Interceptor, which I think would be a tremendous addition to our capability, then that is another option we could offer for the future.

ACT:Has there been any determination on which European country will host interceptors?

Obering: No, not yet.

ACT: Is there a general timeframe? You said the money begins in 2006, but when might interceptors be deployed to Europe?

Obering: Well, we are going to have to have a fairly sound, solid foundation of agreement in the next several months so that we can begin to move out with the program.

 ACT: Spending on all missile defense-related activities over the past several years has been approximately $9 billion annually. Do you foresee future spending remaining about the same and approximately how much do you think bringing a layered missile defense system on line will cost?

Obering: I think this year we have asked for $7.8 billion in the president’s budget.

ACT: Is that MDA or all missile defense-related funding?

Obering: That’s the MDA budget, $7.8 billion.[15] It is about $6.4 billion in development and about $1.4 billion in fielding or deployment capabilities. And that stays pretty constant across the [Future Years Defense Plan] in terms of that investment. We will manage within that. Do I think that that is going to stay that way? I think that we are facing tremendous budget pressures and that [MDA] is part of that mix. We have to be involved and we have to be part of that discussion in terms of what that budget authority would be.

But in terms of affordability, let me put it to you this way. If you look at every penny that we have spent on missile defense since 1983 when President Ronald Reagan started the effort, it is about $92 billion. That is every penny that has been appropriated to missile defense. If you look at the Sept. 11 attack on New York City, the direct damage cost alone, as reported by the [Government Accountability Office] in 2002, is about $83 billion. That does not have anything to do with economic opportunity cost or anything like that. So in one attack that did not include a weapon of mass destruction, you have almost reached the total investment line of what we have done over 22 years in missile defense. It is not just how much does the system cost. It is what is that return on investment and are we getting that return on investment for the American people? [Missile defense] is a small fraction of the overall defense budget. I believe that the return on that is very well worth it because had we had an attack of a weapon of mass destruction on an American city like New York or Los Angeles or even Washington, you would not believe the damage cost. If we can prevent or interdict that, it is well worth the investment.

Another thing people ask me is “Well, what about weapons of mass destruction in suitcases or in ships off the coast or smuggled in?” It is not an either/or. We have to be prepared for all of those, unfortunately, in this day and age, I wish it was not like that but wishing is not a strategy. We have to be prepared for all eventualities.

ACT: Going back to testing, there are some people that have read the Independent Review Team report as suggesting that MDA should cut back on its flight testing to avoid failures that might undercut the system’s deterrent value in a potential adversary’s eyes. Is this an accurate reading of the report or the strategy behind MDA’s delay in resuming intercept testing [of the ground-based midcourse system]?

Obering: Absolutely not. When we get back into the air in our test program—and we believe that that will be in the next couple of months here—then we plan to fly four times in 12 months. That is a much increased pace over what we have done in the past.

And, by the way, that is just one part of [missile defense testing]. We also have the Aegis program, which we flight-tested last February. That was very successful. We are going to flight-test that again in November. Next year in the [Terminal High Altitude Air Defense][16] program, the Aegis program, and the GMD program, we will have approximately 10 flight tests if you add all those up. That is a very aggressive test program. We are not sitting on our hands and trying to effect any type of delay because of that consideration.

ACT: One program you did not mention was the Airborne Laser.[17] Where does that program stand? We know there has been some difficulty in bringing that on line.

Obering: Actually, we have had tremendous success since last November. It was a program when I came to the agency that was what I would consider to be unstable. They were losing schedule. They were not making sufficient progress. There was a concerted effort made over the past year and a half to restructure and refocus on the major milestones. And, by the way, this is a good example of making sure that you have focused on the proper things. Two years ago or more, we were worrying about maintainability and spending resources on that when we had not even fired the laser yet.

Last November, we achieved first light in the laser and we achieved first flight of the heavily modified 747. Since that time we have had 42 flights with the aircraft. We have completed the passive optical testing of the aircraft. We have been actively lasing. In fact, this past weekend, we have gone through more than half of what we consider to be the full duration time for the laser. And, we have achieved a stable lasing and achieved equilibrium in the laser reactions.[18] So we have made tremendous progress. That portends to be a revolutionary capability with respect to defense and what it can add to this arsenal of defense against a ballistic missile threat.

ACT: You have already addressed it somewhat, but for decades missile defense and efforts to limit offensive missiles were viewed as competing against one another. How do you see the two as being complementary or how do you achieve that?

Obering: First of all, you have to recognize that arms control assumes rational actors. Arms control assumes adversaries that can be deterred. It assumes that there are people who have something to lose and that you can actually deal with in terms of negotiation and in terms of being able to come to an accommodation over a mutual disarmament, or even unilateral for that matter. What we are finding out today in this world is we have folks that are not like that. We have folks that are willing to sacrifice not only themselves but hundreds of people for a particular cause. If those people get their hands on these types of weapons—and there are hundreds and hundreds of missiles out there; many, many, many that are unaccounted for—they are almost undeterrable. Certainly, they are nonnegotiable when it comes to something like arms control. That is why I see us as being very much a collaborative effort. There are countries that can be deterred. There are countries that we can enter into arms control agreements with. I think that is very wise and that is something that we need to do. On the other hand, we have seen in the last several years that there are organizations and countries that just are not deterred in that manner.

ACT:Is there anything we have not asked about that you would like to add?

Obering: Just one of intent and one of what I will call trust. Many times you can get the feeling, if you read a lot of the critics of missile defense, that we are trying to pull the wool over somebody’s eyes or that we are trying to fool people or we are trying to build something that is unreliable or that is foolhardy. I wish that more people would give us the benefit of the doubt. We have thousands and thousands of dedicated Americans that are working very, very hard to build a defensive capability where there was none before. They are doing it for a very good reason. When you walk though some of the factories that we have that are producing these components and these systems, what you see on the walls are pictures of American cities. In many cases, they are aerial photographs of the hometowns of the workers that are crafting the system. They understand what they are doing is very important. I wish more people would give us the benefit of the doubt. We are on the side of trying to prevent weapons of mass destruction from being used against the American people and our interests. I think that is something that I would like to see emphasized much, much more.

ACT: Thank you very much for your time.



1. Ballistic missiles have three stages of flight: the boost phase, the midcourse phase, and the terminal phase. The boost phase begins at the missile’s launch and lasts until its rocket engines stop firing. Depending on the missile, this phase lasts between three to five minutes. The midcourse phase starts after the rockets finish firing and the missile is on a ballistic course toward its target. For ICBMs, this phase occurs in space and can last up to 20 minutes. It is during this stage that that the missile’s warhead(s) separate from the delivery vehicle. The terminal phase begins when the missile’s payload re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere and it continues until impact or detonation.

2. General John W. Holly, who oversees development of the ground-based midcourse defense, told a Washington audience Oct. 14, 2004, that the shakedown would take place over six to 12 weeks. (See ACT, December 2004.)

3. From October 1999 to December 2002, the Pentagon conducted eight missile intercept tests using the ground-based system. The system tallied five hits and three misses in these developmental tests.

4. The ground-based interceptors deployed at Fort Greely and Vandenberg Air Force Base are comprised of two main components: a high-speed booster and the EKV. The booster lifts the EKV into space, where the two then separate. Using radar updates and its own onboard sensors, the 70-kilogram EKV is supposed to maneuver into the path of an oncoming warhead and destroy it through a collision.

5. Global Hawk and Predator are unmanned aerial vehicles.

6. The GMD system is currently focused on intercepting targets traveling five to seven kilometers per second.

7. In these two tests, the interceptor failed to launch. (See ACT, March 2005.)

8. In all previous intercept tests, the targets have been fired from Vandenberg Air Force Base west over the Pacific Ocean toward the test interceptors based at Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. By firing the targets from Kodiak Island and the interceptors from Vandenberg, the system will face new intercept trajectories.

9. The Aegis radar is part of a broader ship-based system originally intended to track and counter short- and medium-range ballistic missiles. In recent years, MDA has claimed the system can also help track a long-range ballistic missile. The concept is to use the ship-based radar to relay tracking data to a ground-based interceptor to help locate and engage a target.

10. Strategic systems are those designed to engage long-range ballistic missiles. Tactical or theater systems are those designed to counter short- and medium-range ballistic missiles. Different capabilities are needed to intercept missiles with different ranges because they all fly at varying speeds, trajectories, and altitudes.

11. North Korea ’s last ballistic missile flight test was an August 1998 test of its medium-range, 2,000-kilometer Taepo Dong-1. Although the U.S. intelligence community has assessed that North Korea is developing a longer-range Taepo Dong-2 capable of reaching the United States, Pyongyang has not tested such a missile.

12. Brilliant Pebbles was an initiative of President George H.W. Bush that envisioned up to 1,000 space-based interceptors.

13. At least the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland have all held discussions with the United States about hosting missile interceptors. (See ACT, July/August 2004.)

14. The Kinetic Energy Interceptor (KEI) is supposed to be a mobile land- or sea-based missile interceptor capable of traveling at some six kilometers per second. The interceptor was originally envisioned for taking out enemy missiles during the boost phase, but now MDA is exploring whether it might also be used to counter missile warheads in the midcourse phase. KEI is supposed to begin flight-testing in 2008 and the projected deployment date for the land-based model is 2013.

15. MDA does not fund the ground-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 system against short- and medium-range missiles nor the Space-Based Infrared System-high (SBIRS-high), which is supposed to help detect missile launches worldwide. SBIRS-high is intended to replace the Defense Support Program satellites.

16. Formerly the Theater High Altitude Area Defense system, THAAD is a mobile ground-based system designed to intercept short-, medium-, and intermediate-range ballistic missile warheads near the end of the midcourse phase or the start of the terminal phase. Intercepts could take place inside or outside the atmosphere. THAAD was last flight-tested in the summer of 1999 after which it was put through a redesign.

17. The Airborne Laser program calls for mounting a powerful laser on a modified Boeing 747 to shoot down ballistic missiles in the first few minutes after their launch. During the Bill Clinton administration, Pentagon plans called for testing a completed system in 2003, but delays have postponed such an experiment until at least 2006.

18. Lasing is the process of creating the laser beam. It is estimated that the laser beam at full power would need to be concentrated on its target for a minimum of eight to 15 seconds to take it out. Currently, all 6 of the projected modules for creating a full power laser beam are currently being used in testing. The prototype laser, including its power producing modules, has yet to be integrated on the Boeing 747 aircraft.

Interviewed by Wade Boese and Miles A. Pomper

Subject Resources:

Interview with Odair Gonçalves, President of Brazil's Nuclear Energy Commission



Interviewed by Miles A. Pomper and William Huntington

Odair Gonçalves is president of Brazil’s Nuclear Energy Commission (CNEN), the agency responsible for regulating and licensing all nuclear activity in Brazil. On Sept. 28, Gonçalves spoke with Arms Control Today Editor Miles A. Pomper and Arms Control Association Scoville Fellow William Huntington about Brazil’s nuclear programs in the wake of new revelations about his country’s nuclear past.

ACT: As you know, the former president of Brazil, Jose Sarney, confirmed in August what many around the world have long believed: that Brazil once had a secret nuclear weapons program.[1] What is your estimate of when this program was dismantled?

Gonçalves: Sarney said that, but it is not completely clear that that program existed. For example, the CNEN has made a scan of our documents to see if there is something related to a nuclear weapons program or something like that. But there was not. So, it’s a question because we had a military regime during a certain time. And in any regime, not just in a military regime but in any regime, there are a lot of things that are secret. If there were such a program it was secret and there is no document, in our institution at least. So, we are not quite sure about this thing. But if it were [true], our constitution from 1988 said that such a program is forbidden. So from 1988 to now I don’t believe that there was anything related to a nuclear weapons program.

 ACT: As you know, one of your predecessors, Jose Luiz Santana, said in August that when he took office [in 1990] the Brazilian military was in fact still working on a nuclear bomb.[2] Was he wrong about that?

Gonçalves: Again, we don’t have any documentation. But, I may say that he also said that we had some highly enriched uranium (HEU). In this case, I may say that it’s not true. That is very clear to me. We know exactly what he was talking about. It was about a stock we have of around 20 percent enriched uranium, which is for sure not possible to make an atomic device with.

ACT: So you had HEU, but not weapons grade uranium.

Gonçalves: Oh, no. Weapons grade uranium must have at least 90 percent enrichment. So, since this was not true, I’m not quite sure about the other statements. And this I know for sure was a lie.

ACT: You say that there was some 20 percent enriched uranium. One of his claims also was that this was not uranium that Brazil had produced itself.

Gonçalves: No, it was imported, clearly.

ACT: Where was it imported from, and when?

Gonçalves: Well, that is not quite clear but we have it under [International Atomic Energy (IAEA)] safeguards. So, it’s public, the quantity. Where was it imported from? We are not quite sure and perhaps it is not clear how the old government obtained it, or under which agreement it was possible to acquire this uranium. But for sure, it’s now under safeguards. It’s about 20 percent enrichment, which makes it clear that it’s nothing related with any kind of bomb. It’s below 20 percent.

ACT: And it’s now, all the material, all the enriched uranium is now under safeguards.

Gonçalves: Under international safeguards, yes.

ACT: An August 29 CNEN statement maintained, as you’ve said here as well, that there are no documents or information that can confirm Santana’s claims.[3]

Gonçalves: Yes, exactly.

ACT: But that denial did not definitively contradict his claims, on the other hand. Do you possess any definitive proof that his statements are false?

Gonçalves: What we may say is that now there is no such plan. There is nothing that is hidden or not under safeguards in Brazil. We can’t guarantee anything from the old government because it was a different regime. Even our constitution was different. But since 1988, it’s possible to say that there’s nothing going on. Everything in Brazil is very clear. Our program is completely under safeguards. It’s difficult for any country to say completely what happened in a former government. Especially if you have some kind of military regime underway.

ACT: So it sounds to me that you would dispute his characterization that from 1988 to 1990 the program continued.

Gonçalves: Yes.

ACT: Either before 1988 or after that was the military preparing for a nuclear test explosion?

Gonçalves: We have a hole, as you know.[4] It was just a hole. That is what it is. There was a lot of media notice about that. From our point of view, some things are very easy to guarantee. If the military regime intended somehow to make an atomic device, it was just a plan because there is no way to get the fuel, the uranium, the nuclear material to make such a device. So that’s completely clear now. Even if there was something, it was just in the way of plans or studies or something like that. Even though we don’t have any kind of document attesting such a thing. It is clear, our position, because we are the regulator institution so we know quite well what is going on in the country.

ACT: But as you know, technically, if you could make 20 percent enriched uranium you could make 90 percent enriched uranium.

Gonçalves: We could not. It was not ours, it was imported. That’s clear. We now are able to perform enrichment, and just to 5 percent. And if you can enrich uranium, even if you could go until let’s say 20 percent, it’s not the same thing to enrich to 90 percent. We have to have another design, another approach, and so on. We have a license to do these things and the licensing in Brazil is just for 5 percent for the new plant at Resende.

ACT: Brazil has not yet signed an additional protocol to its safeguards agreement.[5] Why not?

Gonçalves: Because our position was that we were waiting for the results from the review meeting of the [nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT)] some months ago, and now we are studying the thing to see what we are going to do. But until now, we were waiting for the results of the conference.[6]

ACT: So you’re considering signing a protocol now?

Gonçalves: We are studying the thing.

ACT: Some outside experts might believe that one of the reasons you have not signed an additional protocol is that it would require additional disclosures about, for instance, these early programs. Are they linked in any way?

Gonçalves: No, it’s not true. They have nothing to do with each other. The position is that we also think there are some issues about other countries’ compliance with the traditional NPT. For example, about disarmament.[7] So, we understand that it’s not just a question of providing compromises but you have also to commit yourself to disarmament. We are arguing about that. But it’s not a closed position, anyway. There is nothing in the additional protocol about disclosing former programs.

ACT: But when the South Koreans, the Taiwanese, and the Egyptians signed their additional protocols, additional information about their past programs was released.[8] And I assume that was because an additional level of disclosure was called for then.

Gonçalves: No, but we were not part of the NPT before 1994. And we are not committed to give any information before that date. That’s the date when we signed the NPT.

ACT: I see. This may be somewhat of a speculative question, but since you acknowledge that perhaps from 1985 to when the civilian government came in in 1988 the military might have continued with a program, why might they have done that? After all, there was an agreement in 1985 with Argentina to end these programs.

Gonçalves: Let me understand exactly what you said. You are talking about some involvement in constructing a bomb or something like that, that’s what you said?

ACT: Right.

Gonçalves: The military developed, for example, centrifuges.

ACT: Well, it made some efforts to take the steps that are needed to construct a bomb.

Gonçalves: You are talking about the statements of Santana?

ACT: Right. As you said, you can’t really answer the question from 1985 to 1988 because you don’t have documentation.

Gonçalves: Oh, no, no. It’s hard to believe that after the constitution, something happened. But before the constitution, there were no restraints. But we don’t know about any project since.

ACT: Concerning the Resende facility, reportedly the first of its four modules is now operational.[9]


ACT: Does Brazil still intend to complete the construction of all four modules?

Gonçalves: We intend to, naturally. And when everything is constructed, the provision is that we will be able to provide at least 50 percent of the necessary fuel for the two power plants in Brazil.

ACT: Do you have any idea of what the timeframe for finishing the construction of the last three modules might be?

Gonçalves: If we have the money, which is still not clear, in about seven years.

ACT: Does Brazil plan, or are there discussions at all under way, on ever using the Resende facility to enrich fuel for use in the Navy’s submarine reactor program?

Gonçalves: It is not possible because the license is just for 5 percent [enriched uranium fuel], and the submarine will need about 18 percent to 19 percent.

ACT: President Silva commissioned the National Energy Policy Council to make recommendations on Brazil’s nuclear program, and as far as I understand, he asked for those recommendations by April 2005. Has the Council issued its recommendations?

Gonçalves: Yes, and it was a study not just from CNEN, but the industries and everyone involved in nuclear activities in Brazil, and with other ministers and so on, including the foreign minister.

ACT: I know that one of the questions under discussion was construction of the Angra-3 reactor. Is that happening, or not?

Gonçalves: That is the first step in our proposal.

ACT: So that’s been agreed to?

Gonçalves: Not yet.

ACT: There are reports that the Angra-3 reactor is somewhat controversial between different Brazilian ministries because of its potential cost. Is that true?

Gonçalves: Well, it’s not exactly a controversy. It’s natural that different ideas come out and we discuss them. But it’s not agreed completely at all, to answer your question.

ACT: Is it true that the Resende facility will not be commercially viable without the completion of the Angra-3 reactor?

Gonçalves: It depends what you call commercially viable, because when you are speaking about energy, to have some complete cycle, a closed cycle, completely independent from other suppliers and so on, could be very important. And how to appraise that, it’s not very easy. So it depends on what you are saying. We could also export some uranium. Not just enriched uranium, but perhaps the yellowcake.[10] But these are only possibilities to think about in the whole context of the program.

ACT: I don’t know if there was something that we didn’t touch on that you thought was important to get across.

Gonçalves: It’s important to say that we are completely in accordance with the NPT. We are one of the only countries in the world that has also the military installations under safeguards. That’s very important to say. And everything we do is according to our constitution, which says that every and all nuclear activities must be for peaceful purposes.


1. “Ex-Leader Says Brazil Pursued A-Bomb,” Associated Press, August 8, 2005.

2. “Brazil Nearly Built Bomb in 1990’s, Scientist Says,” Associated Press, Agust 30, 2005.

3. “CNEN clarifies information about the Brazilian Nuclear Programme,” Comissāo Nacional de Energia Nuclear (CNEN), August 29, 2005.

4. In September 1990, Brazilian President Fernando Collor de Mello revealed and publicly shut a deep shaft, purportedly dug for a nuclear test explosion, at an Air Force base in the Cachimbo Province in north-central Brazil.

5. In 1993 the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) began an effort to strengthen the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). That effort resulted in the voluntary 1997 model Additional Protocol, designed to strengthen and expand existing IAEA safeguards for verifying that non-nuclear-weapon states-parties to the (NPT) only use nuclear materials and facilities for peaceful purposes. See “The 1997 IAEA Additional Protocol at a Glance,” (http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/IAEAProtocol.asp) Arms Control Association, January 2005.

6. The May 2005 NPT Review Conference ended without the states-parties able to reach a consensus on how to strengthen the treaty. Many governments expressed disappointment and frustration with the Conference outcome. See Wade Boese, “Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Meeting Sputters,” (http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2005_07-08/NPT.asp) Arms Control Today, July/August 2005, p. 22.

7. Brazil is a member of the New Agenda Coalition (NAC), which holds that the slow pace of disarmament by the five recognized nuclear-weapon states undermines the NPT. The other NAC members are Egypt, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, and Mexico.

8. See Paul Kerr, “IAEA Probes Seoul’s Nuclear Program,” (http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2004_10/IAEA_Seoul_Nuclear_Program.asp) Arms Control Today, October 2004, p. 33, and Paul Kerr, “IAEA Investigating Egypt and Taiwan,” (http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2005_01-02/Egypt_Taiwan.asp) Arms Control Today, January/February 2005, p. 38.

9. Brazil commissioned a new centrifuge uranium-enrichment plant, called Resende, in 2004. See Sharon Squassoni and David Fite, “ Brazil’s Nuclear Vision,” Arms Control Today, October 2005, p. 13.

10. Yellowcake is a concentrated form of uranium that results from the milling process of uranium ore. Ore typically contains 0.1% uranium oxide while yellowcake contains about 80% uranium oxide. Yellowcake can be converted to uranium hexafluoride gas for centrifugal enrichment.

Interviewed by Miles A. Pomper and William Huntington

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

Country Resources:

Subject Resources:

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

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