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"...the Arms Control Association [does] so much to keep the focus on the issues so important to everyone here, to hold our leaders accountable to inspire creative thinking and to press for change. So we are grateful for your leadership and for the unyielding dedication to global nuclear security."
– Lord Des Browne
Vice Chairman, Nuclear Threat Initiative
Interviews

The Bush Administration's Views on the Future of Nuclear Weapons: Interview with NNSA Administrator Linton Brooks

Linton Brooks, the administrator of the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), discussed the Bush administration’s policy on a variety of issues related to the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile in a Dec. 2 interview with Arms Control Today Editor Miles Pomper and Arms Control Association Executive Director Daryl Kimball.

ACT: I assume right now you’re in the process of working out your fiscal year 2005 budget request, with the usual back and forth with the Office of Management and Budget. Could you tell us where you stand in the process and anything about your proposed request? Is it an increase from the bill that the president just signed, and what are some highlights?

Brooks: Well you know, until the budget goes forward, it’s all just talk, and there’s a pretty robust tradition: we don’t pre-empt the president. But the administration has been very clear in its support for nonproliferation, and I expect the budget to reflect that. The administration has been very clear that we need to maintain the safety, security, and reliability of the nuclear stockpile, and I expect the budget to reflect that. But we’re still in the formulation stage.

ACT: Any particular initiatives you might want to highlight?

Brooks: Well, once again, they call it the president’s budget for a reason, so if there are any initiatives, they will be his initiatives. But we’ve got more than enough to do to continue with the efforts that we’ve already got in place. So, I would expect you will see continued stress on the control of nuclear materials, particularly in Russia. I’d expect you to see continued stress on [research and development]. I’d expect you to see continued stress on border security in the sense of the so-called Second Line of Defense Program in Russia and what we call Megaports, which is tied to [the U.S. Custom Service’s] Container Security Initiative.[1] So, I think you’d see more of the same in most areas; and on the weapons side, I think you’ll see continued stress on the importance of stockpile stewardship and on the development of the tools that we’re using to substitute for the fact that we’re not testing.

ACT: You mentioned R&D…Congress just approved the repeal of the Spratt-Furse provision, as you know, which would allow NNSA to pursue low-yield nuclear weapons research.[2] How do you plan to use the $15 million that’s been earmarked for the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrating device?

Brooks: Well, first of all, it’s important to understand that those are two completely separate issues. The Congress approved the research on the Nuclear Earth Penetrator in fiscal year 2003, and it wasn’t impacted by the prohibition on low-yield nuclear weapons research because it isn’t anything new. At one level, what we’re doing with the Nuclear Earth Penetrator is very simple. We’re taking the existing bomb, and we’re putting a very heavy case around it so that it can penetrate into rock, and then we’re trying to figure out if we can take the existing nuclear package and have it still function. And we’re actually going to do that with two different bombs, the B61 and the B83, to see which version works. So, since it’s all existing weapons and it’s packaging, it wasn’t caught up [with the repeal of the Spratt-Furse provision].

The reason it was important to reduce or get rid of the prohibition on low-yield nuclear weapons was not because we’re trying to develop or developing low-yield nuclear weapons—that’s a common misconception. It’s one of those things that everyone knows, except if you go back, you can never find anybody from the administration who actually said that. What we said was that the amendment was poorly drawn and it prohibited research that could lead to a low-yield nuclear weapon. And so, we were in a situation where to think about anything you sort of had to have two physicists, an engineer, and a lawyer, because most concepts could lead to low-yield [weapons], regardless of what they were designed to do and because there are questions that needed to be investigated, questions about how you have a robust stockpile, an enduring stockpile in what could be a very long-term absence of testing. Do you need to redesign existing weapons to give yourself a greater margin? We didn’t want to get that caught up in questions of “Were we in violation of the law?”

In the nuclear weapons business, you have to be absolutely meticulous with regards to rules of law. So, we didn’t want to be in the position where we couldn’t do the thinking that we think we need. But there is no list of low-yield weapons we’re thirsting to develop—that’s a misconception.

ACT: So, what will you do with the $6 million you have earmarked for low-yield weapons?[3]

Brooks: Well, we don’t know. We’re going to work with the Department of Defense. There are a number of ideas. Those ideas range from capabilities we don’t have, such as the ability to destroy biological agents without spreading them, to improved safety and security to designs that are more capable or more robust in a no-testing environment. There could be some exploration of any or all of those. What we do on these is we work with the Department of Defense to try and sort out both what’s most technically interesting and what would be the most useful. But probably, it will be more of that effort will be focused on safety, security, flexibility, greater margins than on fundamental new capabilities.

ACT: Now, if I could just ask you about what kinds of criteria come into play with the decision about moving forward beyond research, on to these new concepts?

Brooks: Well, it depends a little bit on the concept. The kind of criteria that come into play…first of all, if you’re talking about a new concept, that obviously requires the Department of Defense to conclude that it needs it, and it also requires us to go back to Congress if we want to move into production. The secretary has been very clear in his testimony that we don’t believe that we can or should move from research into production without going back to Congress. The Congress has been equally clear in the law that that’s their view too.

ACT: You mean research into development and production?

Brooks: Development and production, yes. So, first question is, is there a military necessity? Second sort of criteria is cost. I mean, there are clearly things you can conceive of, things that are incrementally better, but they aren’t worth the cost. Third criteria is the ability to do whatever you want to do without testing. Nuclear weapons—and these are clichés, but clichés are useful— nuclear weapons are devices that are hotter than the surface of the sun and where time durations are measured in nanoseconds, and there is a good deal that is not perfectly understood, and so there’s a limit to how much you can change things without testing. The policy of the United States is that there is not now a need for testing. One would not be interested in pursuing something even if it were affordable, and even if there might be a military requirement, the criteria would be, can you do something without testing? And I guess a fourth criteria would be technical feasibility. I don’t think there’s a checklist in this sense, these are individualized decisions.

But for example, when our predecessors decided to develop a variant of the B61 bomb, the B61-11, which penetrates earth but not rock, and we just wanted the same thing, only with rock, they looked at those things. They looked at, “Was there a military necessity for this adaptation of a weapon?” They looked at, “Could they afford this?” They looked at, “Could they do without nuclear testing?” They looked at whether the technical risk was high. That was not in the legal sense a “new weapon,” anymore than the Earth Penetrator is in a legal sense, a “new weapon,” but it was an adaptation of an existing weapon. And so, they sort of went through that checklist—that’s kind of the checklist we would go through. But you know, we’re not there yet at the moment. At the moment, what I am trying to do is get a little less than one-tenth of one percent of the weapons budget to do some thinking, conceptual thinking that we haven’t been doing lately. I don’t mean to minimize the importance of the Advanced Concepts work—we’re pleased the Congress supported it, and we think it’s important—but it’s not most of what we do. Most of what we do is fairly straightforward stockpile stewardship.

Research Goals

ACT: Talking a little more about those other programs, more broadly, what are your goals for NNSA for the next two years on R&D? I mean, not just in this area, but stockpile stewardship and so on. And what are the priority areas that you’re looking to move ahead on?


Brooks: Well, I think there are several. First, there is the completion of the various tools that are part of the Stockpile Stewardship. The most obvious is the National Ignition Facility (NIF).[4] We won’t complete it in the next two years, but we will continue to move forward. It’s already the most powerful laser in the world at four percent of its ultimate capability. But it is very, very important because it’s the closest we can come to duplicating on a very small scale the physical phenomena involved in nuclear burn. Similarly, the ATLAS facility, which we’re reassembling in Nevada.[5] Similarly, the dual axis hydro-test facility, or hydro-test device, in Los Alamos.[6] So, that’s the first broad group of things, and that’s clearly where the most money is. It is in the scientific tools to continue the transformation of the nuclear weapons business from an empirical art to a theoretical science. Then, the second set of research priorities is in nonproliferation, and there it is to continue our ability both to monitor nuclear explosions in all environments and to detect and therefore deter proliferation. Third, I guess, is something we haven’t spent very much on, but over the next two years, we need to put more research and development into physical security and cyber-security. One of the things that we learned since September 11 is that there are groups of people who are willing to die to inflict damage on the United States, and that’s caused us to look very closely at the security of the nuclear weapons complex. I’m satisfied with where we are now, but in the long run, we need to leverage technology more. The strength of America is technology and not our ability to produce more and more guns and gates and guards. So, that’s a third broad area. I guess those are the three biggest.

ACT: Can I just ask you about the first set that you mentioned? There has been a running debate about the importance and the cost of the NIF. You came in here in the last year…tell me what your evaluation is of the importance of the NIF to the task of the maintaining the existing stockpile. Some have said that this is vital. Others have said that this would be useful, but it is not the major facility that is necessary to conduct the surveillance and evaluation necessary to maintain the stockpile. Can you give us your perspective on how this fits in?

Brooks: Well, first of all, that question was on people’s minds, particularly a few years ago when there were management and cost problems with the program.[7] Those have been largely overcome. The program is, as far as I can tell now, extremely well managed, it’s on schedule, it’s on cost, it’s meeting milestones, it’s worked over three million hours without a lost time action. Just in program management terms, things are going well, but it’s still a very expensive program. No single thing replaces nuclear testing. So, we have sort of a spectrum of things that work at different physical regimes, and all of them are necessary to give us a complete theoretical understanding of nuclear phenomena. NIF will do things that nothing else will do, and those things are important to the understanding of the physical phenomena. If you believe—it’s certainly the policy of the administration of the United States—that we would prefer not to return to nuclear testing, then things like NIF become important. It’s always hard to use words like “crucial.” If the building burns down tomorrow, I won’t recommend we get out of the nuclear business. But it’s clearly very, very important. We’ve looked at it. We’ve had it looked at by external groups, and I believe it is one of the most important of the major projects we’re doing.

ACT: Getting back to something you said a little earlier, you mentioned the possibility of low-yield research on preventing the spread of biological agents…

Brooks: As an example of one of the things that people sometime suggest as a fundamentally new capability.

ACT: As you know, there’s been a debate on this issue. Some people say—members of Congress, people at Los Alamos, and so on—that these kinds of warheads should be developed to destroy hardened bunkers, especially for chemical or bio agents. Others say you can destroy these bunkers, but you can’t do this without creating substantial collateral damage. Where do you come down in that debate?

Brooks: Well, but those are often given as if they are mutually exclusive. They’re not mutually exclusive. Look, to make it absolutely clear, the use of nuclear weapons is an awesome decision. The idea that you can have a nuclear weapon that is used without having anything happen is fanciful. And nobody in this administration has any interest in lowering the nuclear threshold, and it’s very important to keep that in mind. So, if jobs can be done, if military missions can be accomplished by conventional means, then of course that’s what you want. I mean, this is the administration that in the Nuclear Posture Review has recognized that nuclear and non-nuclear and nonkinetic means of offense need to be looked at in total. This is the administration that assigned new missions to the U.S. Strategic Command to provide that integration precisely because we don’t want to be left with the choice of nuclear or nothing.

So, you have to understand that the people who say that the use of nuclear weapons would have severe consequences are right—they’re right politically, and they’re right physically, and they’re right in terms of collateral damage. But it’s also true that there is a substantial difference between relatively low collateral damage and very high collateral damage. It’s also true that it might be better in certain circumstances to have collateral damage from a nuclear blast, but no spread of chemical or biological weapons. We don’t know whether or not there’s any role for nuclear weapons here because we haven’t been thinking for the last ten years. What we want to do…we keep getting asked, “What are you trying to develop?” I don’t know. I’m trying to get some smart people to think a little bit about what kind of capabilities we might be able to offer, and then there’s a debate to be had about whether those capabilities are needed, whether they’re worth the cost, both political and financial, whether they can actually be done. So, I want to have the same debate my critics want to have, only I just want to have facts, and they want it now.

ACT: Could I just ask a clarification question, which I am confused about? You mentioned the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator research on the B61 and B83.[8] You mention relatively low collateral damage and higher collateral damage…I mean, the B61 and the B83…

Brooks: Those are two separate discussions.

ACT: Those are big weapons as I understand.

Brooks: We don’t talk specific yields, but let’s just say whatever yield the B61 has now [is the] same yield it’s going to have after I put this hardened case on it. The issue with the Nuclear Earth Penetrator is a military effectiveness issue. It says, “Are there situations in which there is something in hard rock you’d like to destroy and you don’t know how to do it conventionally?” The answer: Probably. Could you do it with a nuclear weapon if you spent some money hardening it? That answer: I don’t know. That’s what the Congress is letting me go find out. Then, if the answer to that turns out to be “yes,” then there’s a debate to be had. Is having that capability worth the cost? And that’s the debate we’ll need to have, but it’s premature to have that debate until we’ve answered the technical question about whether is it feasible. Quite separately from that, there are those who would argue that any use of nuclear weapons is apocalyptic, and I tend to agree with that. But the question comes, do we have a responsibility, is it desirable to look at things which would have less collateral damage? And there, I think the answer is “yes,” but the difference is that “yes” doesn’t mean “none.” And so, that’s the kind of thing that we might look at, but I want to distinguish between that and the Nuclear Earth Penetrator. We’re not planning to change the physics package in those weapons at all. That’s why to some extent the blurring of that with other questions has been an unfortunate confusion.

ACT: When you talk about these hardened and deeply buried targets of concern, where are they? Are they in Russia, or are they elsewhere?

Brooks: Well, they’re in a number of countries. We’ve provided to the Congress in a classified report some details that the Department of Defense provided. But I’m not comfortable enough with what I know from The New York Times and what I know from highly classified intelligence [to talk about it].

ACT: Is this our traditional threat?

Brooks: This is not going up against the Russians in case Stalin comes back. That’s not what we’re primarily thinking of. We are thinking in terms of…I mean, what have we learned in the last 10 years? Well, everybody’s learned something a little different. One thing that I’ve learned is that our ability to predict the future is not nearly as good as we thought it was, and we’ve learned that we may need to deter people who have very different value sets. And we’ve learned that there are lots of people in lots of places who are building underground facilities. So, that suggests, without focusing at all on any particular country, that [there will] come a time when having the ability to hold at risk underground targets may be important. And the question is, “Should the president have that capability in his back pocket?” And the answer is: Don’t know. Depends on how much it costs, depends on all the things I won’t know until I finish doing the research.

The U.S. Nuclear Arsenal

ACT: The Nuclear Posture Review, the National Security Strategy documents, and the Moscow Treaty provide a rough outline for the force size, composition, and mission of the deployed and reserve nuclear arsenal. Can you fill in some of the details? I mean, for example, are there cuts we can expect in the arsenal in 2004 and 2005? Is there any more specificity now on the final size of the arsenal afterwards?

Brooks: Well, I mean, we’ve talked about the 1,700-2,200 in 2012. When you get into the specific requirements of the deployed arsenal, you’re in the wrong department. You really ought to talk to my friends in the Department of Defense. I won’t ask them to talk about stockpile stewardship, I probably ought not talk about force requirements.

ACT: But you must be involved at some level with the stockpile plan, which I think Congress asked for last year. Is that report scheduled to go to the Hill in the next few months?

Brooks: I believe we will be forwarding it. But once again, these are classified documents, and I am not in a position to talk. They are primarily…the generation of military requirements is primarily the responsibility of the Department of Defense. My function in all of that is to help understand what is feasible and then to figure out how to actually make sure that the weapons are safe, secure, reliable, there on time.

ACT: As you know, Congress only appropriated half of what you requested for fiscal 2004 for the Modern Pit Facility, in part because of the lack of the stockpile plan.[9] How is that going to affect your schedule for that project?

Brooks: We don’t know yet. The Modern Pit Facility, as you know, is not scheduled to actually reach IOC [Initial Operational Capability] until late in the next decade, so…

ACT: 2018, right?

Brooks: 2018, yes. So there’s plenty of time to catch up, assuming we reach consensus on where we’re going. We’re continuing to work on analyzing alternative locations. We’re continuing to work with our friends in the Department of Defense on getting the kind of stockpile detail the Congress wants. What is important to understand is, sooner or later, we have to build the Modern Pit Facility, and we have to do it for reasons that are not political, but physical. Plutonium is a radioactive material, and as it decays, its properties change. And there comes a point—and our estimates in the environmental impact statement were somewhere between 45 and 60 years—there comes a point at which uncertainties in the way plutonium behaves are so great that we can no longer be certain that the stockpile will function. What happens is, the plutonium decays, little pockets of gas build up, and the metallurgy changes. What you have to do is melt it down and reform it, and to do that, you need a facility that can make such pits. While we have an interim capability that we’re developing at Los Alamos, in order to rework the whole stockpile, we need a facility, and Congress understands that. So, the argument is not, “Will there be a facility?” The argument is a little about its size. And for that, you do need to understand the future stockpile. I’m fairly confident that we will be able to convince the Congress that we do have a handle on the stockpile and that we’ll get back on track with the Modern Pit Facility. We are very early in this process, and I don’t think it will be significantly delayed, but of course we will have to see.

ACT: Does the draft environmental impact statement suggesting that you might need 125-900 pits per year take into account the nuclear force reductions?

Brooks: I believe that it is 125-450. I don’t believe…I’ll have to go back and look, but certainty I’ve never heard anybody look at it [who doesn’t believe] that it’s much more likely to be at the low end of the range. Turns out, if you look at sort of a cost versus capability, it’s like most things. To do one pit a year costs a lot of money, and then after that it goes up fairly gently with more. If it turns out to be something less than 125, and you’ve sized it for 125, you haven’t really wasted very much money. That spec was set at a time when we sort of knew where we were going, but you don’t want to place too much emphasis on the numbers. In steady-state, it’s very easy. You tell me how long plutonium will last, you tell me how many weapons I’ve got, and I can tell you how many I have to process every year. But it’s not that way at the very beginning because we made them all in a bunch, so you’ll have to do greater processing at the beginning. That’s why you can’t afford to wait.

ACT: So, given that uncertainty about the overall size of the stockpile by 2018, given some of the uncertainty and changing findings about the aging properties of plutonium, do you see any scenario under which the existing facility at Los Alamos, TA-55, might be capable of producing the quantity? You’re quite definitive about the need for a facility, but TA-55 has been upgraded, and it has the capability of being upgraded further. Why can’t TA-55 do the job?

Brooks: Capacity. I think sooner or later, I mean, it might buy you some time, it certainty is important in giving you an interim capability. But the reason TA-55 is so important is not for the rework of the whole stockpile, but in case you have a problem that is unforeseen in a particular weapon that requires you to do some rework there. I don’t believe that anything like the numbers you need to turn over a stockpile of a few thousand, which is probably a prudent plan for 20 years from now—and we have many decisions—you can’t do that in a place like TA-55. Let’s just assume that we settle on a 50-year lifetime. Then, let’s say you can do 50 pits a year, which I think is…most people would wonder if you can get up that high at TA-55. That’s 2,500. You’re looking at 1,700-2,200 deployed, and when you look at spares and augmentation, it just…so that would be sort of the bare minimum you could get by with something…and I don’t think you can be certain enough 15 years in the future that that’s the stockpile, so I am pretty sure we’re going to need a facility.

ACT: You’ve talked about a number of times about not wanting to return to nuclear testing, and you’ve testified before that the stockpile is safe and reliable without testing. Do you foresee any need to resume nuclear testing in the next two to three years?

Brooks: No.

ACT:
And why is that?

Brooks: Because everything that we know about the stockpile right now is that it is safe, secure, and reliable and that things that we need to investigate typically are things that can be investigated without nuclear testing. So, I don’t have any reason to believe that we were going to need to return to testing. But we can’t give up the ability to test if we discover a problem that can only be resolved through testing. That’s the reason why our view is completely consistent, the president having made it clear that we have no interest in returning to testing but having made it equally clear that we don’t plan to endorse the Comprehensive Test Ban [Treaty], which would preclude us from doing what we need at some hypothetical time in the future. But absolutely no reason to believe that there will be any need to test in the next few years, and that shouldn’t be taken to imply that we’ll need to test afterwards, it’s just these are inherently hard…it’s hard to foresee problems that you haven’t yet found.

ACT: Last fall, former undersecretary for acquisition at DOD, Mr. [Edward “Pete”] Aldridge, seemed to have some other thoughts. I think he sent a memo to the lab directors and others at the Nuclear Weapons Council to look into the value of a renewed testing program to maintain the safety and reliability of the arsenal.[10] Does that research effort or that study continue, and what motivated that request?

Brooks: Well, you would have to ask Pete Aldridge what motivated it specifically. He and I talked about the importance of asking the question. What I think motivated it was that it’s important to make sure to make sure that what I just said is true. So, you have to think through it fairly systematically. We did that. We had a conference in August, which examined a number of questions about maintaining the stockpile. I’m not going to go into the details of that conference, which was classified, but I was there, and you heard what I just said about the need for testing. So, I don’t believe there’s any disagreement in the community. But you need to keep looking at these things. We look at a lot of things, not because we’ve decided that we need to change things…it’s a lot like some of the Advanced Concepts work. You need to keep looking to make sure you understand where the science is and where stockpile is and what could be done. You need to stop and systematically ask yourself, and we do every year when we do the assessment of the stockpile, is there any need for testing? And each year, we’ve concluded, “No, there’s no need.”

Proliferation Concerns

ACT: I know you’re short on time, so two quick proliferation questions I wanted to ask. One has to do with the programs with Russia, the various programs of cooperation in the nuclear arena. Appropriators expressed concern about the failure of, the lapse of various agreements with Russia, particularly the Nuclear Cities Initiatives and plutonium disposition activities…[11]

Brooks: One of the plutonium disposition activities…

ACT: Right. Can you tell us, first of all, what is the status of negotiations with the Russians, and how would you respond to critics who contend that these programs were already on the administration’s chopping block and the administration is using this holdup as an excuse to drop them?

Brooks: Let me answer the second one first: that’s nonsense, just absolutely nonsense. The Plutonium Disposition Program remains important, and we continue to work on the liability. The Nuclear Cities…the secretary worked with his Russian counterpart to take advantage of a provision in the Nuclear Cities agreement that allows us to continue on-going programs, and we did a survey of all the on-going projects, making sure we got as many as possible started, so they could be called on-going and codified that when Deputy Administrator Paul Longsworth and his counterpart met in September.[12] We did that precisely so we could keep this going until we are able to reestablish a formal agreement.

…The issue with the Russian Federation has been liability. The United States believes that, in the present state of the Russian legal system, it’s important that our contractor and our personnel be indemnified against liability for their acts. The Russians accepted that principle in the Cooperative Threat Reduction Agreement. They accepted it again when they extended it. They are having some trouble in generalizing that principle, and we’re working with them, but I’m confident that it’s solvable.

Once solved, we will revive, if you will, the Nuclear Cities agreement. It will be formally a new agreement, but it will be the same Nuclear Cities program, with liability solved. Once it’s resolved, we will continue plutonium disposition. So, what you’re seeing is the clash of competing values. We want the programs to go forward. We want adequate liability protection. Particular agreements turned out to be the ones that happened to expire in 2003. If there had been some other agreements that had happened to expire, they’d have been the ones, because we were unwilling to renew an agreement without adequate liability, but we are willing to continue working with agreements. We didn’t preemptively cancel Nuclear Cities…

ACT: You said you front-loaded these into the pipeline before the agreement expired. Is there a date when that will bite?

Brooks: Ummm…I don’t know. The Congress last year gave us the authority to merge the Nuclear Cities and the Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention into something called Russian Transition Initiatives. Because of that, we have a good deal of flexibility to shift money back and forth, so that also lets us continue the effort. You know, I want to see Nuclear Cities…We are hopeful that the liability issue will be resolved soon. We measure soon, I think, in single-digit number of months. It’s not days or weeks. It’s just a practical matter of dynamics of Russian politics and the Duma elections are such that we’re not going to get this all sorted out until the after the first of the year.

ACT: Your boss, Secretary [Spencer] Abraham, said in his speech to the [United Nations] that world leaders had to think about how the grand bargain between nuclear and non-nuclear states “can be sustained into the future.” As you know, one of the major threats to that bargain has been the ability of non-nuclear states to manipulate the NPT’s provisions for the transfer of peaceful nuclear technology to aid clandestine nuclear weapons programs. What might be done to alter this bargain? For example, what is your view of IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei’s suggestion to place under multilateral control crucial fuel-cycle facilities for plutonium reprocessing and uranium enrichment? Are there discussions within [the Department of Energy] and elsewhere about how to deal with this?

Brooks: There’s always discussions. There’s always discussions. It’s an important issue. I think in general terms, you have the right to believe that, if there are important issues, somebody who works for me is trying to think through it. Problem is, thinking through thinking and coming up with great ideas that can actually be implemented aren’t the same thing. So, as the secretary made it clear, we are trying to understand how we can modernize the fundamental bargain of Atoms for Peace, the notion that we could proliferate the benefits of nuclear power without proliferating nuclear weapons. And almost certainly, focusing on fuel cycle is the right way to do that. But whether that suggests simply more attention to the current regime, new regimes, we don’t know that yet.

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

Brooks: I guess only that we talked about the nonproliferation, and we talked about the weapons program, and it’s important to understand that, from our perspective, we’re talking not about two things, but one. The creation of the National Nuclear Security Administration and the consolidation of these programs under me is because we see them as very deeply related. Their related technically obviously. I mean, what I learn in protecting American nuclear weapons spills over into my ability to protect Russian nuclear weapons. But they are linked philosophically, and that is that, on the one hand, we want to minimize threats to the United States by making sure that nuclear materials and nuclear weapons stay out of the hands of people who would do us harm.

On the other hand, we want to make sure that we have a safe and effective deterrent, so even if people acquire the capability to do us harm, they will, to the maximum extent possible, be deterred from doing so. So, it’s often been suggested that there’s some tension between a weapons program and a nonproliferation program, but as somebody who’s responsible for both, I don’t see tension, I see complementarity, and I think that’s the point I’d like your readers to understand.

NOTES

1. The Second Line of Defense Program is a National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) cooperative program with the Russian Federation and other countries to detect and deter the illicit trafficking of nuclear and radiological material at strategic transit and border sites such as border crossings and air and sea transshipment hubs. The Megaports Initiative builds upon the experience gained through the Second Line of Defense Program to provide technical assistance to screen the world’s busiest seaports for radioactive material prior to shipping cargo to U.S. ports.

2. The Spratt-Furse amendment [Sec. 3136 of P.L.103-160, the FY 1994 National Defense Authorization Act] bars “the conduct of research and development that could lead to the production by the United States of a low-yield nuclear weapon which, as of the date of the enactment of this Act [Nov. 30, 1993] has not entered production.” The law defines a “low-yield nuclear weapon” as one that has “a yield of less than 5 kilotons.”

3. Congress appropriated $6 million for the Advanced Concepts Initiative, which has been suspended since 1993. Christine Kucia, “Congress Authorizes New Weapons Research,” Arms Control Today, December 2003.

4. The National Ignition Facility (NIF), billed as the world’s largest laser, is a 192-beam facility under construction at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories to support the Stockpile Stewardship Program. It will simulate the temperatures and pressures that occur during nuclear-weapon explosions to study fusion ignition and to monitor the effect of aging on the reliability of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. When construction began in 1997, the projected cost of NIF was $1.2 billion. Arms Control Today, May 1997.

5. The ATLAS facility is a pulse-powered energy implosion device originally constructed at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico to support the Stockpile Stewardship Program. The Department of Energy is reassembling the facility at a Nevada location, where it will continue to support stockpile management but will also be used for other experiments.

6. The Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrodynmaic Test Facility (DARHT) at Los Alamos National Laboratories, when completed, will provide stereoscopic viewing (3-D) of imploding pits in support of the Stockpile Stewardship Program.

7. On August 17, 2000, the General Accounting Office (GAO) issued a report that sharply criticized the Energy Department for “inadequate oversight” and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for “poor management” of the National Ignition Facility. Officials associated with the program apparently told GAO that they knowingly submitted unrealistically low budget estimates to Congress in order to secure approval for the project, believing that “the value of NIF to the future of the Laboratory overshadowed potential cost concerns.” Arms Control Today, September 2000.

8. The B61 and B83 are nuclear gravity bombs. The B61 Mod 11 was developed in 1997 and has an upper yield in the hundreds of kilotons, while the B83 is a megaton-class weapon.

9. The Bush administration requested and received authorization for a funding level of $22.8 million for the Modern Pit Facility, but appropriators only provided $10.8 million. Christine Kucia, “Congress Authorizes New Weapons Research,” Arms Control Today, December 2003.

10. The memo was sent October 21, 2002. Christine Kucia, “Pentagon Memo Raises Possibility of Nuclear Testing,” Arms Control Today, December 2002, p. 14.

11. The Nuclear Cities Initiative provides U.S. assistance to Russia to shut down former weapons production sites that comprised the core of Russia’s nuclear weapons infrastructure during the Cold War and to channel the talents of former nuclear weapons scientists and engineers into non-nuclear or civilian projects. The plutonium initiative enables U.S. and Russian scientific collaboration to help Russia dispose of excess plutonium, and the program is a key component of current efforts to establish mixed-oxide fuel facilities in both countries to begin disposing of 34 metric tons of plutonium under a September 2000 agreement. Both agreements are set to expire this year if not renewed. Christine Kucia, “Liability Concerns Jeopardize Renewal of Nonproliferation Programs With Russia,” Arms Control Today, September 2003, p. 40.

12. Paul Longsworth is the deputy administrator for defense nuclear nonproliferation of the NNSA.



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Interview With John Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security

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John Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, discussed the Bush administration's new Proliferation Security Initiative during a November 4 interview with Arms Control Association Research Director Wade Boese and Arms Control Today Editor Miles Pomper.

ACT: Could you explain what the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) is and how it fits into the broader Bush administration strategy to prevent proliferation?

Bolton: We believe that the existing system of national export control systems [and] multilateral export control agreements were not completely effective because there's still a thriving black market in WMD components, technologies, and production materials. And what we wanted to do was to find more active ways of dealing with the ongoing trafficking in all of these WMD-related materials-not to replace the export control regimes, but to do something that would be more effective in handling all of this trafficking. And based on what we've seen with the So San interdiction1 [and] based on a variety of law enforcement and other operations that had been conducted, we felt there was a potential to have a multilateral agreement that would allow us to do that-to conduct interdiction of WMD trafficking at sea, in the air, and on land. That's why, following the president's announcement of the initiative in Krakow, Poland, on May 31, we were pleased [with the reception]. Actually the Spaniards volunteered to host the first meeting [and] we then had a series that led to the promulgation in Paris of the statement of interdiction principles2 that represented the agreement of all 11 countries on what our obligations would be as participants in the PSI and what we would then take to other nations and explain the PSI to them and seek their support for it. It is intended as a way of encouraging greater involvement by a variety of countries in stopping the trafficking in weapons of mass destruction and WMD-related materials through more vigorous exercise of the existing national and international authorities that we already have.

ACT: Following up on that, you said you did not want to replace existing export control regimes, arms control treaties, or groups. Is it simply a supplement to those? Or do you envision changing or supplanting some of those regimes?

Bolton: No, we see it in addition. We see PSI as an interdiction activity. In fact, I think it was actually in the meeting in Madrid3, we talked about what to do with the Australia Group4, the MTCR5, how they would relate to PSI and basically what we said was we were not going to reinvent the wheel, we were not going to try and redefine the commodities involved or anything like that. But that what we would do was to ask our representatives to the Nuclear Suppliers Group6, Wassenaar7, the whole range of multilateral export control regimes to see what they might do to enhance their regimes to make them more effective in ways that would complement the interdiction activities that we contemplate taking under the PSI.

ACT: Some media reports suggest that PSI involves stopping illegal trade in drugs and other non-weapons contraband. There are other reports that this is the beginning of a blockade of North Korea. Is either description accurate?

Bolton: Neither description is accurate. We've never contemplated that the initiative would involve anything other than the trafficking of WMD-related material, and it was never contemplated as a blockade of any place. We are obviously worried about some places more than others as proliferants or would-be proliferants. In fact in Brisbane8, at the meeting there, the 11 PSI participants said that North Korea and Iran were two states of particular concern. But this is something we see as a global activity. We stressed we think it is worldwide problem and it requires a worldwide response.

ACT: PSI is described as targeting "rogue" countries and terrorist groups. What about shipments of WMD-related goods to Israel, India, and Pakistan?

Bolton: What we're concerned about are rogue states and terrorist groups that threaten instability, and threaten their neighbors with the use of these WMD. There are unquestionably states that are not within existing treaty regimes that possess weapons of mass destruction legitimately. We're not trying to have a policy that attempts to cover each and every one of those circumstances. What we're worried about are the rogue states and the terrorist groups that pose the most immediate threat. And that's why there was consensus, as there was at the G-8 statement at Evian and the U.S.-EU summit declaration this past summer, for naming North Korea and Iran specifically.

ACT: Was it geared toward countries that are threats to the United States and other participants or those that may likely use these weapons in conflict, such as India and Pakistan, which routinely threaten each other?

Bolton: I think what we're worried about is the issue of the threats to the 11 states that are participants in the regime now, but also to others that would like to join. The issue of outward proliferation, for example, you could have cargoes that come from any number of countries that contain dual-use chemicals that could be used for chemical weapons production, or chemicals that have legitimate industrial uses, but may also be particularly important in plutonium reprocessing or something like that, that we would consider interdicting. But we certainly never thought at the outset of the negotiations, or today for that matter, that we could write an encyclopedic description of everything that the PSI would encompass. We would try and work on a case-by-case basis to see what the pattern of interdictions that we accomplished actually looked like.

ACT: Does PSI empower its participants with authority to do anything that they legally could not do before the initiative's creation?

Bolton: PSI is a political arrangement at this point, and we contemplate that's what it will be over a sustained period of time. We think we have very substantial authorities under existing national and international treaties and export control regimes to do a lot of what we're doing, and we consider also that there are aspects of customary international law that give us authority as well.

ACT: What are some of the legal constraints on possible interdiction activities? Are there any you would like to see eliminated or changed?

Bolton: Well, there are essentially an infinite number of potential circumstances and variations and permutations where interdictions could take place, and for as many different hypotheticals as there are, there are different levels of authority. We think we've got plenty of authority as it stands now. It is not the case that all of the interdictions will take place in international waters or international airspace. Probably more likely is that most of them will take place in national territory where national authorities are strongest. We understand that there are circumstances in which our authorities may be ambiguous or open to question, and there are almost certainly circumstances where authority under current national and international interpretation doesn't exist. And, under those circumstances, the 11 PSI countries have talked about the prospect for seeking additional authority, either to clarify an existing ambiguity or fill a gap where no authority exists. Right now, for example, there are amendments being considered to the Suppression of Unlawful Acts at Sea Convention, which is an international maritime organization which has over 90 states party to it, where there are provisions concerning weapons of mass destruction that are being discussed among the parties to the convention. And the 11 PSI countries also talked about circumstances where one could envision a Security Council resolution that might give authority in certain circumstances. So I think there's general agreement that seeking additional authority might be useful at some point and that we would consider it when it became appropriate.

ACT: Is there any effort now underway to go to the Security Council to broaden the mandate or to get its blessing so that you can take additional actions?

Bolton: No, I think the general view of the 11 countries was that, and I don't speak for all of them, but I think this is a fair summary: it's usually, the history of the Security Council in granting enforcement authority, has usually been in the context of a specific problem and a specific country that people were concerned about, and we thought probably it would be best to leave the evolution of that to circumstances as they develop. But there are three permanent members of the council among the 11, and I think we have a lot of common understanding of how things work, and that we would talk about it at future meetings.

ACT: How does PSI fit in or square with President Bush's proposal to get a UN resolution on outlawing WMD trafficking in general that he spoke of earlier this year?

Bolton: Well what he said in the speech in September was that he wanted to strengthen national laws criminalizing WMD-related behavior, and to bring the national export control regimes up to international standards, and we're in discussions now with other Security Council members about what that resolution would look like, but we don't contemplate at this point, nor do the other PSI members, seeking Security Council authorization.

ACT: And how is that resolution proceeding?

Bolton: We're working away on it. Consultations continue.

ACT: What are the main challenges facing PSI and how can they be overcome?

Bolton: Well, I think the first thing that we're doing now-we really started after the Paris meeting where the statement of interdiction principles was adopted-the United States went out to every country that we have diplomatic relations with, provided them with a copy of the statement of interdiction principles, and tried to explain what the PSI was about, and solicited support from the country, depending on the circumstances of the country. Some states are flag states for ships, some states are coastal states, some states have borders that are used for transshipment, some states are important manufacturing states, obviously there's overlap there as well. But we've been soliciting both public statements of support and ways of working with countries that are particularly important, some of the big transshipment countries and big transshipment centers and that sort of thing. That public outreach function is something that has consumed a lot of our time diplomatically since the Paris meeting. I think explaining the thinking behind the initiative and what the states that have become participants in it have agreed to and what might follow in the future has been the major [activity]. I wouldn't describe it as a problem so much, but a necessary next step so that we can gain broader support for the initiative.

ACT: What about intelligence and knowing what is out there on the oceans? I've seen a number of people speak to the problem of having timely, actionable intelligence.

Bolton: I think obviously before you can interdict the WMD-related shipment, you have to know about it. It is the case that much of the interdiction work that may occur under the PSI will never be publicly known, or at least not for a long time because it will be done in intelligence or law enforcement channels, and we contemplate that it won't all be dramatic interdictions at sea. But the point of the effort is to increase the amount of interdictions, whether it's done by law enforcement or it's done by other cooperating countries, customs officials, or by the military. We've had meetings of the intelligence services of the 11 countries that are participants, and they've had a lot of discussions about how to establish better communication among them, how to arrange the expeditious sharing of information when it's appropriate to support an interdiction operation and we've made a lot of progress both on that side and the operational side since we began the discussions back in Madrid.

ACT: Going back to your outreach activities, after the London meeting9, there was a statement by the British government about how over 50 countries have now voiced their support for the initiative. Can you us some sense of who those 50 are and what their support is?

Bolton: Well it's actually much higher now. In the London meeting, which was about a month after the Paris meeting, we had gone out to a lot of countries at the time, and there were countries that were very interested that said, "we'd like to study this and we don't want to react until we've had a chance to examine it." Since the London meeting, a lot more have come back in and said "this is a good idea and we want to support your efforts, how can we cooperate?" and that kind of thing. There are counties all over the world. I think one of the positive aspects of this is that there is very broad support for it.

ACT: Two countries that have expressed some reservations are Russia and China. Can PSI be effective without their active cooperation, particularly with regard to North Korea?

Bolton: Well the Russians have said to us that they have no objection to engaging in interdiction activities against WMD trafficking. We've been talking to them at all kinds of levels, both before and after the Paris meeting, and we've extended invitations to them to participate in operational meetings with PSI experts, and I think that's something that is part of the ongoing diplomatic dialogue. The Chinese have told us very clearly: they support the concept behind the initiative, and that they're prepared to engage in joint activities dealing with WMD trafficking. I think that while there are probably further conversations that should be had, I'd actually say their reactions have been reasonably positive. They've inquired about the applicability of the initiative in North Korea, and we've ensured both of them that it's not intended as a form of blockading North Korea. It's a global initiative designed to deal with a global problem.

ACT: So why have they not formally joined?

Bolton: Nobody else has formally joined. We've got 11 countries when we started out and we still have 11 participants. I think the number will go up slightly, but we're not looking for large diplomatic meetings. We're looking for operational capabilities that actually increase the level of interdictions that are taking place. And as I say in practical terms-and I've done the discussions myself, and they've been done at higher levels as well-both those countries have said that they're willing to cooperate and engage in interdiction against WMD trafficking.

ACT: The U.S. intelligence community continues to identify Russia and China as being sources of WMD-related goods and being participants in proliferation or as being proliferators. So how does that square with their general support for this initiative?

Bolton: Well, I think we have made it plain in our discussions with both countries, both in diplomatic channels and, where appropriate, through the imposition of economic sanctions, that we want enhanced performance by them in terms of outward proliferation activities by entities in those countries. But I think one can certainly square their cooperation with us in PSI-related activities with our working with them to get their own performance to be better. If we insisted that we'd only cooperate with countries that were completely perfect, it'd be a pretty small group of countries that we had been cooperating with. You know, there are companies in the United States that violate our export control laws. When we find them, we prosecute them. I mean, our record isn't perfect either, but we have a strong law enforcement response when one of our companies violates our export control laws.

ACT: You noted before, with regard to the Hague Code of Conduct on Ballistic Missiles, that it is not valuable to bring in countries or participants that may not live up to their obligations. Noting that Russia and China may be a little less than perfect, why do you have a different perspective on PSI versus the International Code of Conduct?

Bolton: Well, certainty we want everybody who cooperates with PSI activities to subscribe to the statement of interdiction principles and to the philosophy of nonproliferation that lies behind it. I think that is a substantial difference between the Hague Code and PSI. PSI is entirely operational. What we care is about is more and better interdiction efforts. I think if a country's cooperation in international interdiction efforts 1) helps the overall cause and 2) has the spillover effect of getting them to do better in their own domestic enforcement, I think that's all for the good.

ACT: Since the launch of the initiative, have there been any interdictions?

Bolton: Well, there have been some, but they have not been made public-and won't be made public.

ACT: So you won't discuss those with us?

Bolton: No.

ACT: Can you give us a number?

Bolton: No. I think President Bush made this analogous point shortly after September 11, in terms of the campaign against terrorism, is that a lot of this will be done clandestinely and has to be. There's nobody involved in PSI in the government who would be more eager to get some of these successes out in public than I would be. But the fact is, you have to recognize that that could be actually more damaging to the overall effort than simply carrying out the interdictions and keeping them necessarily confidential. That's part of the ongoing struggle against this unfortunately flourishing black market in WMD material.

ACT: In your recent speech in London, you made reference to a dangerous materials initiative. That was the first time I've heard of it. Can you elaborate a little more on what that is?

Bolton: We can get you some additional materials on that, but that is intended to supplement a lot of the activity that we've had in export controls, border controls, looking at assisting countries that have problems with chemical weapons remains or perhaps BW facilities, or radiological sources or remnants of aspects of nuclear programs. They might not be able to undertake a clean up of a facility or something like that. What we've done is taken some activities that have actually been carried out before and tried to conceptually group them together, like the Vinca reactor-the removal of the spent fuel from outside of Belgrade, somewhere in Serbia, and took the fuel back to Russia.10 If you think of radiological sources, in particular, which are unregulated, but if accumulated could be the basis for a radiological weapon. Collecting that sort of thing and neutralizing it or destroying it…These are activities we have conducted in the past, but we want to do more of it and group it together.

ACT: We should expect more funding for this initiative?

Bolton: We're probably a couple months away from saying much more in specific terms, but I think the reason I wanted to put it in the London speech was we were ready to start talking about it, to alert people that we were going to move forward on it.

ACT: Is it a Department of State initiative?

Bolton: Principally, but I think there are a lot of activities that DOE and DOD are engaged in that would fit under that rubric as well.

ACT: In that speech you also discuss North Korea a little bit and mention that we should not give inducements to reverse actions that are in violation of treaty commitments. How does that square with the president's recent statements on U.S. willingness to offer North Korea multilateral security guarantees?

Bolton: Well, I think he's been very clear that we're not going to succumb to North Korean blackmail or reward North Korean bad behavior-I think that's exactly the same thing I said.

ACT: A U.S. official [at] the First Committee said that that U.S. is reviewing its policy on the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty.11 We've been pressing for this treaty for over a dozen years. Can you give us an idea why we're conducting a review on it now?

Bolton: I don't have the statement in front of me. I think it speaks for itself. I don't really have anything to add to it.

ACT: Two prominent inspectors, Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, have come forward with some proposals recently about how new initiatives that might be undertaken by the UN and multilateral agencies. Mr. Blix talked about permanent inspectors for biological weapons and missiles. ElBaradei talked about multilateral controls and transparency of all enrichment and reprocessing activities. I was interested in your thoughts on these proposals.

Bolton: I think with respect to the latter, I think there's a lot of concern about the gaps in the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) that allow countries to undertake a lot of activity that brings them closer to a nuclear weapons capability, but which don't violate any of the existing provisions of the NPT, and I think that's something we need to take a look at. In terms of inspector corps, we have the IAEA12, we have an OPCW13, and I don't see a pressing need at the moment for any other inspector corps and I don't anticipate any of that going forward.

ACT: Thank you.


Notes:

1. On December 9, 2002, U.S. and Spanish forces intercepted a ship, the So San, in the Arabian Sea transporting North Korean short-range Scud ballistic missiles. The United States permitted the shipment to be delivered following Yemen's claim of the missiles. See Arms Control Today, January/February 2003, page 25.

2. The White House published the agreed statement on interdiction principles September 4, 2003, on its Web site at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/09/20030904-11.html. The Paris meeting took place September 3 and 4, 2003. See Arms Control Today, October 2003, page 24.

3. The Madrid meeting occurred June 12, 2003. See Arms Control Today, July/August 2003, page 26.

4. Established in 1985, the Australia Group is a voluntary, informal, export-control arrangement through which 33 countries, as well as the European Commission, coordinate their national export controls to limit the supply of chemicals and biological agents-as well as related equipment, technologies, and knowledge-to countries and nonstate entities suspected of pursuing chemical or biological weapons (CBW) capabilities.

5. Established in 1987, the voluntary 33-member Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) aims to limit the spread of ballistic missiles and other unmanned delivery systems that could be used for chemical, biological, and nuclear attacks.

6. Established in 1975, the voluntary 40-member Nuclear Suppliers Group aims to regulate the transfer of nuclear materials and goods for peaceful purposes to prevent them from being employed in nuclear weapons programs.

7. Established in 1996, the Wassenaar Arrangement is a voluntary export control regime whose 33 members exchange information on transfers of conventional weapons and dual-use goods and technologies.

8. PSI participants met in Brisbane, Australia July 9 and 10, 2003. See Arms Control Today, September 2003, page 27.

9. In October 2003, PSI participants met for three days in London. On October 8, they held a simulation of how to intercept an airplane suspected of transporting WMD. The following two days, the participants discussed guidelines for boarding ships and other implementation measures. See Arms Control Today, November 2003, page 38.

10. In August 2002, the United States joined with Russia and Serbia to transfer highly enriched uranium from the Vinca Institute of Nuclear Sciences in Belgrade to Russia. See Arms Control Today, September 2002, page 18.

11. On October 27, 2003, a U.S. government official announced at a meeting of the UN First Committee, which is the forum used by countries to discuss disarmament issues, that the United States was reviewing "specific elements of our policy regarding an FMCT." See Arms Control Today, November 2003, page 43.

12. The IAEA is the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is charged with verifying that non-nuclear-weapon states-parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty are not diverting nuclear materials and goods to illicit nuclear weapons programs. The IAEA has inspectors that carry out this mission.

13. The OPCW is the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which has the responsibility of implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The OPCW has 181 inspectors to verify that countries are adhering to the CWC prohibition against chemical weapons.

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Interviewed by Wade Boese and Miles A. Pomper

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Interview with Charles L. "Jack" Pritchard, the State Dept's former special envoy for negotiations with North Korea

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Charles L. "Jack" Pritchard, the State Department's recently retired former special envoy for negotiations with North Korea, discussed the Bush administration's North Korea policy in an Oct. 28 interview with Arms Control Today Editor Miles Pomper and Arms Control Association Research Analyst Paul Kerr. The interview took place shortly after President George W. Bush said the United States is willing to provide a multilateral agreement that it will not attack North Korea.

ACT: What do you think the situation is now vis a vis talks with North Korea, particularly after President Bush's recent statement [concerning a possible security guarantee]?

Pritchard: The Secretary of State has embellished on [Bush's statement], and we now have a public offer of a written security assurance, not further defined, for which the North Koreans have followed an extraordinarily predictable script coming out three days later on the 22nd, saying "Ahh! What a laughable matter. No fool would entertain that kind of bizarre offer." Three days after that, on the 25th, came what most people would have expected-the North Koreans saying, "we're willing to look at this offer." Now, the operative part is the clause they put in there: "if this means that the U.S. is prepared to switch its hostile attitude and prepared to accept the principle of simultaneity as we laid out in our packaged deal in April." That's a big, huge "if." So things are moving very rapidly on the form side. Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National's People's Congress, is headed tomorrow to Pyongyang. The North Koreans have done this deliberately in advance of that trip so they don't have to be seen as knuckling under pressure of the Chinese. All these things are going to play themselves out. They will setup and agree to next round of six-party talks. But again, there is no substance on the table here.

ACT: You say that their behavior is entirely predictable. Why do you say that?

Pritchard: For me, I could have written this script two weeks ago. I've been saying all along that I had no doubt that the North Koreans would come to another round of talks. As an example, Wu Bangguo has been attempting to go, you know, the Chinese don't want to lose momentum, they want to get this nailed down, they want a date. Wu has tried on two previous occasions to set up a trip. He's the number two guy in China and the North Koreans have said "not yet." And then they finally said, "you can come after the twentieth." All of which was calculated to let them watch and see what Bush did on his Asia trip. So they weren't in a position of having to say yes or no to the Chinese before finding out what the president did or did not do during the trip. They go through a pattern of things, and right now because there is no substance on the table, this is all form and it's going to play itself out.

ACT: When you say there's no substance, you don't think our offer…

Pritchard: What is the offer? Besides the fact that the president has said that he's willing to look at [security assurances], but what? Is it the Ukraine model? (ACT: The United States, Britain, and Russia issued a Memorandum on Security Assurances in December 1994 after Ukraine acceded to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The memorandum stated that none of those countries would threaten Ukraine with economic coercion or military force "except in self-defense or…in accordance with" the United Nations Charter.) The answer is, don't know.

ACT: And we've said this before too.

Pritchard: The president has said these things orally. The secretary of state has said he could envision that we'd be able to put something on paper. Now, it's a more formal declaration by the president and it has to go through the process of looking at the model things we're willing to do. You can't just write this unilaterally. You've got to put your thoughts together and get it blessed within the administration. We're not even close to doing that. Then you've got to market it with the other four partners, then you've got to figure out how you're going to play it in the six-party plenary, which will probably fall flat on its face. Or you can do something more substantive, either directly with the North Koreans within the context of six-party talks, or, what I would hope they do, which is kind of a working-level meeting ahead of the six-party talks to get most of the substantive work done. But right now…

ACT: Bilateral or multilateral working meeting?

Pritchard: It can be multilateral. It ought to be multilateral. Within all of this, there has to be, in my opinion, has to be strong, sustained bilateral dialogue. Not an independent dialogue, not a parallel dialogue. It all is part of working in the six-party. But you've got to have some dialogue.

ACT: Where are you hearing that they are in terms of the internal process? Are you saying nothing has happened?

Pritchard: You're one week into the offer. And no one has suggested that they have got something in hand. My personal concern is that they're going to work this thing backwards and they're going to work it form over substance, and that is, the Chinese will be successful in getting the North Koreans to agree-everyone's going to pick a date, and we will have a date. And yet we will not yet have an administration position on what it is that we're going to do there. That puts an extraordinary amount of pressure on the negotiating team itself, and those who are opposed to this level and direction now have the upper hand. They can stall, they can nibble away, time will run out, and then there will be a compromise and something less than sufficient will go forward.

ACT: What would you conversely…

Pritchard: Conversely, the ideal would be, other than letting the Chinese continue down in the theoretical of getting the North Koreans to agree to a next round, do not set a date until you've got something to work with. That way, you've got the ability to…you know, if it takes six weeks to develop, fine. Let it develop. Get it right. Get it substantively correct. Work with your allies, then set a date. [We went] into the April and August talks with an agreed locked-in date before there had been any development of what the U.S. was going to do there. It just doesn't make any sense at all. The concept is fine, but the U.S. right now has blown off any sense of urgency about shutting down the North Koreans' plutonium program at Yongbyon. So why not get it right? Because in my opinion, you only have one opportunity to do it in the next round of talks. After that, I think the North Koreans, if they believe that there's nothing in it for them, and we haven't gotten our act together, they're not coming back.

ACT: Would you say then, so far, that what the Administration is doing enough to keep the Chinese and others happy?

Pritchard: I certainly don't believe that it is motivated in that sense. I think there are some legitimate motivations. The problem is, it hasn't gone beyond the superficial. Not only is there nothing wrong with six-party talks, at this point in time in the administration, two-and-a-half years plus into it, it's the right way to go. We began the process in February of this year with the Secretary's suggestion to the Chinese in terms of hosting and organizing a five-party set of talks that later turned into six-party. Right way to go. What we didn't realize is how fast and the depth to which the Chinese would in fact engage themselves in this. So it's not a question of keeping them happy and busy. The Chinese are committed to this for their own specific reasons and it's a good thing. The U.S. involvement in this needs to go beyond a satisfaction that we've now captured this in a multilateral setting and are not having to deal directly with the North Koreans exclusive of a multilateral setting. We need to go beyond that and find ways to exploit it to get to a resolution that shuts down North Korea's nuclear program.

ACT: And why do you think it hasn't gone beyond that? Is it because the president has been unwilling to broker these differences in the administration?

Pritchard: That's speculation. The specifics of this is that there has been such a wide range of views within the administration on how to deal with this, and after, again, more than two-and-a-half years, [they] have been unable to bring this into a single, focused effort.

ACT: So they've just sort of done the minimum, okay, we're going to do multilateral, and then no one's…

Pritchard: Your words. I'm not saying we've only done the minimum. We just haven't exploited the opportunity for success.

ACT: In terms of this statement, would it rule out any sort of preemptive attack on North Korea's nuclear facilities?

Pritchard: It all depends on what it is they want to do. The Ukraine model is actually a pretty good document. Part of the language here says, "The United States, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland reaffirm in the case of the Ukraine their commitment not to use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear-weapon state party to the Treaty of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, except in the case of an attack on themselves, their territories, or dependent territories, or armed forces or allies by such a state in association or alliance with a nuclear weapon state." This isn't all that restrictive. It doesn't prohibit the defense of a nation there, but it's something to look at. Whether this turns out to be the model acceptable to the other five parties, don't know. But you really have to put something on the table to look at. But to answer your question, from a North Korean point of view, this is precisely what they would want: a guarantee of non-preemption by the United States.

ACT: Does it seem like something we can offer politically?

Pritchard: Let's put it into the framework here. If this is offered as part of a resolution of the nuclear problem in Korea-as an example, if the North Koreans have agreed to and implemented a freeze at Yongbyon, and if we are on our way to a resolution that will get rid of the North Korean nuclear weapons program to include HEU [highly enriched uranium] at some point there and they are in the process of doing that, then it is precisely what the U.S. ought to be offering (ACT: The United States says that North Korea possesses a program to produce nuclear weapons using HEU). It is conditional in its nature. As long as the North Koreans are living up their end of the deal, why wouldn't the U.S. set aside the right of preemption as long as progress was being made in the direction we wanted?

ACT: So far the discussion has been about the security guarantees, but presumably there's an economic and food aid component.

Pritchard: That component is, what I believe, to be a part of a larger picture. There are pieces in which to go after. The urgency for us is shutting down Yongbyon. Putting a freeze in place. It is not the HEU that is the critical factor in the next 'x' number of months or years. It is what is going on right now: the reprocessing of 8,017 spent fuel rods. The potential adding to a suspected arsenal of one to two, making that six, eight or ten in the very near future. For a country that needs zero nuclear weapons, why would you want to see them in possession of an extraordinary amount of excess nuclear weapons that could ultimately find their way out into either the black market or into non-state player's hands? So that's our urgency. For the North Koreans, there is a-what they perceive to be hanging over their head-is a threat by the United States. So moving that aside, so they can continue down what they are perceiving to be a path of economic reform and normalization with their neighbors-however we judge that as unimportant -but that's what's important in the near term for them. So solving those two pieces of the puzzle simultaneously and early will set the stage for the longer-term prospects that would include some form of economic, developmental assistance.

ACT: Would you say, as someone who knows the North Koreans well, how realistic is the notion that they would sell nuclear materials?

Pritchard: I don't put anything out of the realm of the possible…. Ask me a couple years ago "Would they have done that ?"and I would have said "No. They would have done everything short of that." They were moving away and trending away from what we would view as legitimate state-sponsors of terrorism. I am not so sure about the future. When, if you paint a scenario that says: the talks are not succeeding, we are not peacefully and diplomatically resolving the problem and we are concurrently squeezing the North Koreans - from their point of view, as an example, the Japanese shutting down remunerations and flows of money from Japan to North Koran - that commercial trade is being curtailed. And they view the PSI [Proliferation Security Initiative], the Pacific Protector exercises and future ones, as precursors to an isolation and containment policy. (ACT: PSI is a U.S.-led multilateral effort to interdict shipments of weapons of mass destruction and related materials.) Put in that light, is it possible that, in combination with their views of this administration, the North Koreans might do something? Yeah. I hope that is not the case, but I don't dismiss it as not possible.

ACT: What do you think are the prospects for securing an effective verification regime for North Korea, something that we can live with?

Pritchard: Yeah, that's a huge question. It's one that remains unresolved within the administration. It was the beginning problem, in terms of what is acceptable. The attitudes early on have been, if it is not one-hundred percent verifiable, it is not verifiable. I find that to be, in my own personal view, ridiculous. I can't imagine, anything less than total regime change to be verifiable. So what are you willing to do, what are you willing to accept in terms of what is verifiable, what is possible? Can you shut down all their known programs? Can you verifiably shutdown the plutonium and nuclear weapons program at Yongbyon, and will it be acceptable to North Koreans? Yes, that one's relatively easy. Getting to the HEU is going to be a little trickier and our level of confidence about the verifiability of it will be up in the air. But I err on the side of, "if it looks reasonable, go with it" because at some point in time, just as we have discovered their HEU program, if they cheat in the future, we will find out. And doing it in a multilateral setting means that, in addition to the U.S., there are four sets of other eyes in the world community at large that will help detect leakage of verifiability. So I don't subscribe to it's a hundred percent open verification. I can accept less.

ACT: What kind of remote monitoring, on site access, what combination, would be good for monitoring plutonium, HEU program?

Pritchard: There is a precedent that I go back to, and that is Kumgchang-Ni. (ACT: Kumgchang-Ni is a suspected nuclear weapons site visited by a U.S. inspection team in 1999.) While we know now that it was not a nuclear-related facility, we did not know that at the time and it was and is a sensitive North Korean military-security location, with a high degree of security around it. Even though we still don't know what it is designed to be, but even under those circumstances, over a period of intense engagement and negotiations, we ended up with… access [for] … inspectors with sophisticated equipment that had access, in this case, on two occasions with a year in between, and the right to go back until we were satisfied that it was not what we initially suspected. So the model and the precedent is there. I think that some element of on-site inspections are in fact possible and required. Things where we know there is an existing program, the reestablishment of monitoring, as we had through the IAEA, is required and necessary. There are variations or combinations that can and will work and can be negotiated.

ACT: Turning to their HEU program, there's been very little said publicly about it. Can you give us a sense of how advanced you think it is?

Pritchard: I can't, only because [of] previous access to classified material, and there's speculation about this. Do I believe that they are churning out enriched uranium as we speak? No. But I can't quantify nor do I know how long it will be, nor [what] the size of the program will ultimately look like.

ACT: Turning to the role of the other participants in the Beijing talks, we talked about them just a little bit. The administration has talked a lot about the role of our allies putting pressure on North Korea, characterizing the talks as being successful in that way. But to what extent have our allies influenced our decision to be more conciliatory, more reasonable, willing to compromise?

Pritchard: There are two aspects to that. One is the reality of what's going on in the rest of the world, meaning Iraq. And the other is, over time, the South Koreans continue to express their concerns about any approach other than a peaceful one on the peninsula. That came home for the president when he visited South Korea in February of 2002. It was then-I don't if it was the first time, but he certainly voiced in a question and answer session at the Blue House with President Kim Dae-Jung-he said the United States has no intention of invading North Korea. That was designed as a message not to the North Koreans, but for the South Korean public at large. The developing relationship with China is what's most interesting here, that from this administration low-point of the EP-3 …from that point until now, it has been an upward and rapidly moving, better relationship with China. There has been some accommodation, particularly in moving to the six-party talks with the Chinese. You may recall Dai Bingguo, the Vice Minister who came to town to talk to Powell, there was a great deal of desire to take into consideration Chinese concerns. Some movement can be attributed to the kind of developing relationship we have with China.

ACT: This is just pure speculation on my part, but I also see that the Commerce Secretary is giving a major speech today on China's market access and are trying to get the Yuan and everything else. Do you think there's flexibility on these issues because we're trying to press them on economic issues at all?

Pritchard: No, I don't think there's a connection. And I am not an economics person, but the most recent concerns about the RMB, the currency, and trade, have come-in terms of public awareness-after we begun the process of moving towards six-party talks. I don't think there's a quid quo pro of any kind or a degree of flexibility we're showing towards one or the other.

ACT: To what extend do you think the other participants, particularly China, are able and willing to exert pressure on Pyongyang?

Pritchard: I think we've reached the peak with the Chinese at this point, because of what the Chinese will perceive or have perceived as a relatively poor showing by the U.S. in the April and August talks. The Chinese, prior to January of this year, were far more empathetic towards the North Koreans. But for whatever reason, they've come to their own conclusions that they had to get involved and they've applied a degree of pressure on the North Koreans to bring them into the six-party setting. They fully expected that the U.S. would have a more mature and flexible approach in April. That was absolutely not the case. The Chinese, I thought, might very well walk away from their commitment to the six-party talks because of the poor U.S. performance. They did not. They were committed, they got the six-party talks going. The U.S., from the Chinese point of view, did not do well in that. You recall shortly following the six-party talks, when Vice Minister [Wong Yew] was in Manila, and asked "What is the problem here?" and he said the U.S. is the biggest obstacle to resolution of the problem. Now part of that was designed with a North Korean audience in mind. Part of that was because is because he believes it.

ACT: With regards to the question of six-party talks, what more needs to be done by the other parties at the next round? I know you talked about presenting a concrete solution, but what would constitute progress?

Pritchard: Not only progress, but the minimum that we need is a North Korean commitment, if not an actual putting into play, is a freeze on the activities at Yongbyon. Time is not on our side in this matter. If they haven't already, as they claim, they will shortly, or certainty in the near future, complete the reprocessing. We need to shut that down. That's an imperative. Because I don't believe we have a third or fourth round of six-party talks that we can count on down the road. And likewise, to keep the North Koreans engaged in this, there has to be a discussion about the concerns they have. What they offered in April are absolutely non-starters. And the U.S. should have told them on the spot in April, six-plus months ago, "No, these are not acceptable proposals." But what we've done is we've allowed the North Koreans to have the diplomatic high ground by saying they've put a "reasonable proposal" on the table, and the U.S. just hasn't responded to it. And now they're couching, six months later, their potential, continued involvement in six-party talks in the terms of the proposal that they put on the table in April which wasn't acceptable. So we've got to put this back into an acceptable discussion of what is possible in addressing not only their concerns, but what is reasonable and doing it in a simultaneous fashion.

ACT: What aspects were not…

Pritchard: The North Koreans, for example, said that once the United States turns back on the heavy fuel oil and vastly expands food aid, then we will tell you our intention of doing this. Then once the U.S. signs a non-aggression pact, then we will commit to doing the next thing. These things are not bizarre from a North Korean point of view, but they were clearly, absolutely unacceptable. They're old kind of ideas. They talked about compensation for the delay of the LWR. The North Koreans are as culpable as any other factor in the delay of the LWR, and there's no compensation that should be considered or given, so that should be taken off the table. Those things continue to persist because we failed to take them off the table early on.

ACT: So that proposal became the working proposal by default?

Pritchard: It is by default-it is a non-working proposal, but it is the only thing out there. We've had plenty of time to make the U.S. the driver in these talks and we are not.

ACT: I know this is speculation, but is it an unreasonable fear that some in the administration may support these talks simply to get other countries on board for containment policies, believing that the talks are going to fail?

Pritchard: It's not unreasonable in a theory. The problem is, lacking a sustained U.S. commitment to pull up all the stops, make the diplomacy work, it is a naïve view, because the other partners-the Russians, the Chinese, the South Koreans, the Japanese-will see through a very shallow attempt by the U.S. to use this in the manner that you are speaking. They will not buy into it. Whereas, after the first round of the six-party talks, you heard people thumping their chests and saying "we've succeeded in containing, there's now five against one." On paper, for seven minutes during that day, that might have been true, but it's no longer true.

ACT: What happens if the next round of talks is perceived to produce no tangible gains? You said this was probably the last shot we had.

Pritchard: I think the practical effect of this is that there will not be a coalition of five against one-the North Koreans will walk away. The problem will become as to whether or not the North Koreans perceive the Chinese as unduly supporting the U.S. in light of the failure. Who do the Chinese blame? If they blame the North Koreans, then I think you can expect to see the North Koreans move rather rapidly down their nuclear program and that the first sign of their unhappiness with the Chinese will be their public declaration of being nuclear weapon state. So this thing has the potential of getting well out of hand.

ACT: How would you assess the alternatives to a negotiated solution-tighter export controls, the containment aspects of our policy?

Pritchard: There are elements that are going on the periphery in terms of tightening down, that are in of themselves absolutely appropriate. There is an economic initiative going on in terms of shutting down illegal drug trafficking, prostitution, other things along this line, money laundering, counterfeiting-should have been doing that a long time ago. The North Koreans shouldn't have a free pass about that. Likewise, the Proliferation Security Initiative…why weren't we doing that a long time ago? So there are elements that are fine, but they're not going to work by themselves. The idea that everything is going to fall into place in the coalition of five out of the six is going to stay intact, and that the South Koreans, the Russians, the Chinese are going to be clamoring to join PSI is not going to happen. So we will have an ineffectual, but slightly stronger, containment policy towards North Korea.

ACT: But clearly, some in the administration believe to some extent that other nations would fall in line with that. Let's give them as much benefit of the doubt as possible, I guess a lot of it is based on the possibility of regime change in North Korea. How likely do you see that? How stable is this government?

Pritchard: For what it is, it is relatively stable-that is, it's a dictatorial regime. Period. If Kim Jong-Il falls off his horse and dies, will the regime survive, because it's otherwise a vibrant organization? No. When he leaves, in my opinion, that spells the beginning of the end of North Korea. There will be no hereditary transition to a younger son. There will not be anything other than a temporary triumvirate of military officers that will preside over the demise of North Korea. The regime, in my opinion, will last only as long as Kim Jong-Il does. But now, in the near term, is there anything on the horizon to suggest that regime change is imminent? No. Nothing. Zero. So anybody pinning their hopes that in the race against the North Korean nuclear program and the race towards regime change, that somehow pinning their hopes on regime change that will then affect the former…go play the lottery.

ACT: To get a little more specific, we've heard the argument voiced in an Arms Control Today article (See ACT, October 2003) that the North Koreans have managed to make some changes to their economy to where people in local areas have small micro-economies to cushion the blow of the communist failings. Is there anything you have to say about that?

Pritchard: The problem is that I don't have the specifics, I have the anecdotes as an example. You look at the last several years of North Korea, and it's gone through a transition from patron alliances with the former Soviet Union and China to that having essentially gone away with some subsistence stability provided by China now. They've gone through the death of Kim Il-Sung, they've gone through massive famine, and they're still here…Almost to a person, people who I've talked to who have been to North Korea recently say it is inexplicably better off than it was a year ago. Now, is that attributed to the July of last year reforms that have taken place? Probably not. I don't know. If you're looking for things to implode because they're getting worse, it doesn't appear to be. Something's going on. Is there now a base development there of micro-economies that is holding everything together? I doubt it. Does what is going on now support the theory that regime change is [out]. The answer is: No it doesn't, but I can't tell you why. Most people will look at the reform efforts going on and say "too little, too late, doesn't matter, hyper-inflation, etc. …" But something is happening that is creating some element of maneuver room for the North Koreans.

ACT: One last question, a bit of a historical question, but I think it is relevant. When the United States and North Korea were meeting towards the end of the Clinton administration, there was a bit of interaction going on before the talks, was the issue of uranium enrichment raised with them?

Pritchard: No. Not that I can recall in any specific terms. The uranium enrichment was probably an embryonic concern at the time. We had probably seen some intelligence reporting of dabbling, for the lack of a better word. It didn't look like more than small-scale R&D. I don't remember any effort to talk to them about HEU.

Description: 
Interviewed by Miles A. Pomper and Paul Kerr

Country Resources:

Curbing Nuclear Proliferation: An Interview with Mohamed ElBaradei

Mohamed ElBaradei


ACT: Obviously, it looks like there’s been some good news this morning coming out of Tehran. I just wanted to get your reaction to Iran’s announcement that it will allow IAEA inspections and suspend its uranium-enrichment activities.

ElBaradei: Yes, it’s encouraging news…[but] I still need to be briefed on Iran’s exact commitment. However, this is in line with their commitment to me last week that they are ready to come with a full declaration of all their past nuclear activities and they are ready to conclude a protocol to regulate their future nuclear activities.

And if the news today is correct that they are also ready to suspend, or apply a moratorium on, their enrichment activities as a confidence-building measure, as called [for] by the [the IAEA Board of Governors] in their decision last month, then I think this will open the way for hopefully a comprehensive settlement of the Iranian issues through verification and through political dialogue.

ACT: If this does play out in term of the details that you are hearing, would this address the fundamental concerns that the international community has about Iran’s nuclear programs?

ElBaradei: Well, I think we still have to verify whatever declaration we will get and make sure that it is comprehensive and accurate. So, that would take care of the past activities. We then also need to have the protocol and make sure that all future activities in Iran would be under our verification. As you know, we never have 100 percent certainty. That’s why we would like to have in Iran and everywhere else a continuous process of inspections, and we need the authority of the protocol to enable us in a country with an extensive knowledge and program to do a comprehensive job.

So yes, if we get a comprehensive declaration and we are able to verify that it is accurate and complete, and if we get the protocol and we are able to implement the protocol in all future activities in Iran, then I think this would be a leap forward in terms of the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.

ACT: Have you discussed the latest talks at all with the [European]
foreign ministers?

ElBaradei: I think I am going to have that…either tonight or tomorrow.

Export Controls for Nuclear Weapons Technology

ACT: Switching to another subject, we just read your very interesting article in the [October 16] Economist. You mention that the “sheer diversity of [nuclear] technology has made it harder to control both procurement and sales” of that technology. What steps would you suggest to alleviate this problem?

ElBaradei: You mean in terms of export control or overall?

ACT: Export control or any other steps we can take to deal with this diversity of technology that you mention.

ElBaradei: I think export control is obviously something where we need to continue to tighten the screws. It is becoming more and more difficult; a lot of these items are dual-use, but I think that one possibility is to obviously link arms export controls to the conclusion and implementation of additional protocols. I think it would be particularly good to see an item that could be used toward a nuclear activity that could only go to a country where the [IAEA] applied a comprehensive and in-depth verification through additional protocols. But export control is just one aspect of the problem and, as you saw in the recent Economist, there are lots of things that we need to do, concurrently if you like, because they reinforce each other.

ACT: Can you elaborate a little more on those? What sort of sequence do you envision, and what are the possibilities—political possibilities—of implementing those steps as well as the other suggestions that you made?

ElBaradei: Well, I think that the first thing, which is probably the easiest, is to make sure that countries that are parties of the NPT (nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty) have safeguard agreements and additional protocols enforced. I think the second step is to make sure that the export control regime is more inclusive, more transparent. The reporting requirements, for example, are shared. For the international community to be vigilant, for efforts to import items for weapons. Again, as I suggested, we need to look into whether the sensitive parts of the fuel cycle need to be multilateralized, such as enrichment and reprocessing activities. In other words, keep national control from weapons-usable material as far [away] as we can. I think that is a very important measure in the regime. To remove HEU (highly enriched uranium) or limit very much HEU and plutonium from the fuel cycle, and if it were to be used, again, it would be under multilateral control.

That will be a major step forward. That will take time, and we need to think about how to move in that direction. Then, obviously we need to continue—and that was not in my Economist piece—we need to continue to work on drivers or incentives for why countries work to acquire nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction. These are your standard reasons: instability, insecurity, festering disputes, deteriorating economic and social conditions in many parts of the world.

And again, obviously continue to work to delegitimize nuclear weapons. We continue to have nuclear weapons relied on as a weapon of choice. If that policy were to continue, we continue to have countries who are in a security bind, if you like, or perceive themselves to be in security bind to look for acquisition of nuclear weapons. So, we need to delegitimize the nuclear weapon, and by de-legitimizing…meaning trying to develop a different system of security that does not depend on nuclear deterrence. But also, we need at the same time to provide some system of inclusive security where countries do not feel that their security is threatened and they need to provide themselves a deterrent like the big boys. These are issues that we need to look at; they all reinforce each other. There is a relationship between all these measures.

I firmly believe that in the long run you cannot just continue to have the privileged few relying on either nuclear weapons or the nuclear weapons umbrella and others are told, “You cannot have nuclear weapons,” because again we continue to have these failures. We continue to act as simply fire brigades, trying to put a fire out somewhere, and then we discover there is a fire erupting somewhere else. We need to change the whole nonproliferation security environment and with that also have a much more inclusive, comprehensive nonproliferation regime.

Changing the Nonproliferation Regime

ACT: You’re calling for some significant changes. I guess you don’t think that the nonproliferation regime is doing that very well right now. Is that fair to say? Would you characterize things that way?

ElBaradei: I think it is fair to say that it is under a great deal of stress, and if I am asking for significant changes, it is because the world is going through significant changes. A few years back, the terrorist phenomenon was not the major phenomenon we had to face. Efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction were not with the intensity we see in the last few years. The security threats are changing, and with it our response needs to change.

ACT: Now, the steps you called for—are these things the IAEA can implement on its own, or does this need political action by the member states?

ElBaradei: Well, I think we need…first of all, we need the realization by member states that the system we have right now is inadequate and needs to be improved. Once you have that, you know, sinking in, that feeling that you need to change the system, then I think we can move forward. Some of these measures, of course, we can do within the confines on the IAEA. That’s basically the question of more comprehensive safeguards, more intrusive verifications, possibly multilateralizing the sensitive aspects of the fuel cycle.

Other parts, of course, have to be dealt with somewhere else, primarily in the United Nations— developing a better system of collective security or energizing the system of collective security, trying to intervene early in situations of threats of weapons of mass destruction or massive violation of human rights. So, it’s between the agency, between the United Nations, between some of the regional organizations like the European Union, NATO. Everybody has to chip in, I think, and see how we can have a functioning system of collective security where we do not continue to face the threat of countries trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction or particularly nuclear weapons. Right now what we have is countries [having nuclear weapons] because of historical incidents. They developed them in the ‘50s and ‘60s or…that again, that was not meant to be the norm in the future. It was suppose to be a temporary situation. We need to bite the bullet and see how we can move beyond nuclear weapons deterrence, and I think that we have not done that yet.

ACT: Many critics argue that one weakness currently in the nonproliferation regime is that it allows states-parties to withdraw after acquiring the equipment necessary to develop fissile material. Do you have any recommendations for overcoming this problem?

ElBaradei: Well I think, again, the whole system needs to be linked to security. I mean, it is not…we should not and I see undue reliance on saying that countries are in the system and they need to comply. That’s correct. But we also need two things. The system needs to continue to serve their security needs. You cannot expect them to continue to participate as a part of the system if their security is not being served. And the fact that they can withdraw from the treaty…I mean, that’s true, but that doesn’t mean that’s the end of the road.

If you look, I think, in 1992, there was a Security Council meeting at the summit where they had heads of states and government. At that meeting, I think they issued a declaration saying that the proliferation of nuclear weapons—I think weapons of mass destruction—is a threat to international peace and security. What does that mean? That even if a country were to move out of the regime, and there are indications that they are developing weapons, the Security Council is going to come back after them. So yes, countries have a right to opt out of the regime if their supreme national interest, or what have you, is threatened, but that does not mean that the Security Council cannot come back after them—not because they walked out of the regime but because their situation is a threat to international peace and security.

If you want a treaty whereby there is no withdrawal whatsoever, you then have to have a universal treaty. That’s what I am really arguing at the end of the day—that you have a regime which prohibits nuclear weapons, which is universally applied and which is regarded as a peremptory norm of international law, which means that whether you are in or out, you are bound by that regime. But we are still a long way from that because the regime that we have now is not universal: you have countries outside the regime, and even inside the regime are countries, that continue to have nuclear weapons. So under the present regime, countries need to keep this opting-out clause because they might be in a position or their security, as they say, might be threatened by a state, and they need to opt out.

It is clearly a weakness. But we need to deal with [that] short term by saying to those who want to walk out that walking out is not clearly justified or that the Security Council can in fact examine the situation and might come to a different conclusion. And in the long term, let’s work for a universal regime where it is applied and there is no opting out.

Limiting Access to Nuclear Technology

ACT: I had a question about Article IV of the NPT, which was a chief incentive for countries to join the NPT and which provided for the sharing of peaceful nuclear technology. Given the concerns raised about the spread of dual-use nuclear technology, do you think that there is anything that can be done to provide countries with other incentives to belong to the nonproliferation regime? And if so, what would they be?

ElBaradei: To provide other incentives, you mean…

ACT: Yes, because Article IV is suppose to be an incentive, but it’s caused a lot of concern about dual use [for both civilian and military applications] of technologies.

ElBaradei: Well, first of all, we now have everybody with the exception of India, Pakistan, and Israel, and I don’t think these three countries are going to join by simply providing them an incentive, in terms of technology. They already themselves have the technology, in many ways, indigenously developed.
But on Article IV, I don’t think Article IV is a problem. I think the problem under the NPT is that you can have the full gamut of fuel-cycle technologies, and that really is the problem. The concern is not that a country has a power reactor or a research reactor. The concern is that the country might have a reprocessing capability or an enrichment capability, which would enable it to develop nuclear weapon-usable material. And I think in the future one can think of having, in my view, possibly an additional protocol to the NPT, whereby you limit the right of—the individual right of—countries to have certain parts of the fuel cycle.

Again, I come back to the multilateralization of the fuel cycle. So, you can say “Article IV is applicable, we will give you the technology to use it for health, agriculture, medicine, radiotherapy, cancer treatment, water, you can have it for research reactors, you can have a power reactor. But if you need enriched uranium or you need to reprocess plutonium, that should not be under national control, it should be under international control or the very least some sort of multilateral process.” You would continue to provide the technology, you would continue to give countries access to the technology, but you would restrict the parts of the fuel cycle that create the most concern, and these are, in my view, the reprocessing and enrichment and also, possibly, a final repository where you have spent fuel with plutonium in it.

Realizing Article VI Disarmament Commitments

ACT: Getting back to the question of nuclear weapons states and delegitimizing nuclear weapons, what do you think would be some of the most important near-term steps that nuclear weapons states could take toward meeting their Article VI disarmament obligations?

ElBaradei: I think, to start, they need to have a major reduction in their existing arsenals. I read we still have something near 30,000 warheads in existence. That’s absolutely unjustifiable by any scenario of nuclear deterrence. We can still have, I think, the nuclear weapon states can have major, major cuts in their nuclear arsenals to show their commitment toward—to show that they are serious in implementing their commitment under Article VI. We still have the CTBT (Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty), which has always been regarded as a key to the implementation of Article VI, unratified. We still have the FMCT (Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty), which would put a cap on fissile materials for weapons. We are not even able to agree on a method to negotiate for the last 10 years.

So, these are to me three clear indicators of the seriousness of the weapon states on moving forward implementing Article VI. Even the CTBT is not really the panacea because, as we know now, we can do a lot of testing through computer simulation and subcritical testing.

So, at the very minimum, at least we have a ban on nuclear testing, we have a ban on producing yet again additional material for weapons, and [we] try to move energetically on getting rid of many of the stockpiles that are still in existence; even if they are not operational, we still need to dispose of all the warheads. When we come to a situation where we have hundreds instead of the thousands we have, then we need obviously to take the second step, and that’s what sort of alternative security regime we will have if we are to dispose completely of nuclear weapons.

But we are not even there yet because we are still far away from reaching this low threshold, which would force us at that time to think of the alternative system, although in my view we need to start thinking today of what kind of world we can have if we do not have nuclear weapons and how we can assure our security. We definitely need a reliable system of security, but a system that does not rely on nuclear weapons, and possibly more of an inclusive system that does not rely on unilateral or preemptive use of force but rooted primarily in the collective security system which we have under the UN Charter. If you have a collective system of security, then you need to develop. Again, the system you have now is almost dormant. You need to deal with the new threats. How do you deal with the possible cheats, even if you ban nuclear weapons? How do you deal with imminent threats of massive abuse of human rights, genocide? You need to have a collective system but also a collective system that is not paralyzed by veto or by [lack of] consensus—a collective system that is dynamic, that even in certain situations has to be preemptive. Given some of the risks right now, we cannot just wait until things happen. You need to take the initiative, and you need to be preemptive. But you need to be preemptive within a collective system and based on an international legitimacy.

ACT: Do you think the nuclear weapons states’ stance on their Article VI commitments has influenced other countries’ decisions maybe to lag in concluding additional protocols to their safeguards agreements?

ElBaradei: Yeah, I think some of the countries have been, frankly, grumbling that no progress on nuclear disarmament has made them rethink their obligations, the urgency of them concluding additional protocols. I heard that argument made here in the [IAEA] by a number of large and small non-nuclear weapons states: Why should we rush into an additional protocol if the weapon states are not energetically pursuing [the] Article VI process?

India, Israel, Pakistan

ACT: Turning to the outliers of the NPT—India, Israel, and Pakistan—they’ve obviously been a persistent concern for nonproliferation advocates. Do you think the NPT can survive without these countries’ membership, and if they choose to stay outside the treaty, is there any progress that can be made short of getting them to sign up?

ElBaradei: I think the NPT can survive—has survived—without them. But I think, ultimately, that the nonproliferation regime will not survive without them. The NPT is a part of the regime, and if we talk about the regime—global, universal, enduring—then it will not survive without the three. Until we manage to bring them into the regime, I think we need to continue to start a dialogue with them. I for one believe that, rather than just trying to continue treating them as pariahs, we need to try and see how we can engage them as partners in an arms control process, maybe not necessarily under or within the framework of the NPT but within the framework of a larger arms control process.

As you probably know, they were supposed to be a part of the FMCT, they were supposed to be a part of the CTBT, [but] they haven’t yet joined either of these. None of them have ratified the CTBT, and we don’t yet have serious negotiations regarding the FMCT. I think we need to engage. I think the policy, right now in my view, the wise policy would be to engage these three countries and not just to continue to treat them as an outsider because, in the long run, we need to get everybody on board. And if we haven’t succeeded to get them through the NPT, we need to think of other ways to get them on board.

North Korea

ACT: Turning to the question of North Korea, in the event that a settlement to this crisis is reached, what do you think needs to be done to verify a freeze or a dismantlement of the nuclear facilities, in terms of technical tools or a political agreement?

ElBaradei: Well, again we do not know what exactly they have right now. We need to go back in the country and do a proper verification. And I think we need at a minimum an additional protocol with the safeguards agreement and possibly some additional rights to ensure that we have a powerful system to detect every aspect of the nuclear program. I think we clearly need all the intelligence information that we can get. We need satellite imagery, which we now use almost as a routine. We need environmental sampling.

I think, with the new technology, the verification system is becoming much more powerful than, say, a decade ago. But we need the authority to apply that system, which means right of access, right of no-notice of inspection, right of getting all the information we need. So, I would say, at the minimum, I think we would need the additional protocol and possibly again, if we go back and discover that we need some additional authority, then we need to make North Korea understand that they should be as transparent as possible.

Again, if I can revert back to Iran for a second, I made the statement in the last couple of months that, you know, sometimes if you have a complex nuclear program that has not been subject to verification and you need to create credible assurance, you cannot just stick to the legal requirements of a safeguard agreement or protocol, but what you are really looking for is absolute comprehensive transparency by the country. If the country is cooperating, if they are claiming they have nothing to hide, they have every interest to work closely with us.

So, the short answer is yes, we need as much authority that we have—at the minimum, additional protocols—but expect that we might ask for an additional measures of transparency by North Korea if we are not able to resolve certain issues through simply [an] additional protocol or safeguard agreement.

ACT: Is there anything you can say about North Korea’s uranium-enrichment program?

ElBaradei: Not really. You hear that they confess to having an enrichment program, you hear again that they have denied that they have an enrichment program. So, the only way to really get the facts is to go back and do verification. At this stage, I am not able to say with any degree of confidence whether they do or do not have a uranium-enrichment
program.

ACT: Technically, as you know, it is much more difficult to verify a uranium-enrichment program. How confident are you that, if you did have access there, you would be able to verify whether or not they had a uranium-enrichment program?

ElBaradei: It’s not easy because, as you said, uranium enrichment could be a very small facility and you cannot detect it through environmental sampling. But we will have to continue to rely on information, intelligence information, satellite monitoring, environmental sampling. But also I think the key to any verification process is to continue doing that. We will never, even after a year or two, be able to say, “We have 100 percent certainty.” We don’t have 100 percent certainty anywhere, and therefore the solution is to be there all the time, and I think North Korea will not be an exception. We will reach a point when we say, “Yes, we believe that we have no indication they have anything undeclared.” But that’s not sufficient. We need to continue to be there all the time, and as I said, if they are cooperative, cooperating with us, if they are showing transparency, then we have a higher degree of certainty, but in all situations, we need to be there all the time. Can I give 100 percent assurance? No, I can’t, in Korea or anywhere else. The answer is that I am there all the time to be able to catch anything which we have not detected previously, and if a country were to be detected in noncompliance, then obviously…then the international community has to react and they have to react strongly to any breach or any
violation.

 


Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), shared his perspective on a number of nonproliferation issues during an October 21 interview with Arms Control Today editor Miles Pomper and ACA research analyst Paul Kerr.
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Interviewed by Miles A. Pomper and Paul Kerr

Interview with Hans Blix, Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC)

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Hans Blix, outgoing Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), shared his perspective on a number of Iraq disarmament issues during a June 16 interview with Arms Control Today editor, Miles Pomper, and ACA research analyst, Paul Kerr.

What follows is a transcript of the interview.

ACT: So let me just start with maybe the most general question, I'm sure one that you've heard before: Are you surprised that U.S. forces haven't found any weapons of mass destruction [WMD] yet?

Blix: No, I would not say I am surprised, but nor would I have been surprised if they had found something. Our position was always that there was a great deal that was unaccounted for, which means that it could have been there and the Iraqis had not explained what had happened to it, except to say in a general way that it was all destroyed in the summer of 1991.

We warned, and I warned specifically and explicitly, against equating "not accounted for" with "existing." And you'll find that we consistently said that Iraq must present any proscribed items or provide evidence of what has happened to them. And if they do not succeed in providing evidence, then the conclusion for us is that one cannot have confidence that these are gone and that therefore, at least in the past, in terms of the past resolutions, there was not a ground for lifting sanctions.

I am surprised, on the other hand, that it seems that so many of the U.S. military seemed to have been convinced that there would be lots of weapons of mass destruction, particularly chemical weapons, for them to take care of as soon as they went in and that they would practically stumble on these things. If anyone had cared, in the military circles, to study what UNSCOM [United Nations Special Commission] was saying for quite a number of years, and what we were saying, they should not have assumed that they would stumble on weapons.

ACT: What do you think accounts for the discrepancy between this assumption on the U.S. military side and what was in the UNSCOM reports and what you found in your investigations?

Blix: I think primarily little attention to the United Nations and what it does up in New York and more attention to the huge organization that is the U.S. military force.

ACT: It's not a question of different intelligence methods of gathering things or political pressures or other factors?

Blix: No--well, of course there was a lot of political feeling that Saddam was bad, which was true, and which I shared (laughter). But going from there to saying that "well it was a foregone conclusion that there was a lot" [of WMD] was not really tenable logic. It is true that he had the intention and he had these programs; we all know that. And, in popular thinking, maybe, if you have someone committing a crime once you are inclined to think there will be a second time. But if you are a lawyer, if you are in a court, you are not supposed to say that it is automatic that someone who is accused a second time is guilty because he was guilty the first time. I think the matters have to be looked at on the merits, and this is what we tried to do here and that we were being cautious.

ACT: What do you think the lack of prohibited weapons finds says about the effectiveness of the investigations that you carried out and that the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] carried out? You got a lot of criticism at the time from the administration and other people about how effective they were and do you think that this shows you were more effective than they claim?

Blix: Let's distinguish between what is said at the official level with what is said at other levels. I mean, my relations with the U.S. mission here, with their representatives to the Security Council, with their representatives in the State Department, and Condoleezza Rice, the National Security Adviser, were--there was no criticism of what we were doing. On the contrary, there was support for it. And even at the time when the media were suggesting that we were withholding some evidence, there was no such suggestion made on the Security Council. These were spins that came at a lower level.

ACT: On the substance of the question, do you think that your investigations were more effective than perceived at the time, whatever the origin of the criticism?

Blix: I think our investigations were quite effective, but we never claimed that we could get into the last cave or corner in Iraq, and, when I was at the IAEA, [current IAEA Director-General Mohamed] ElBaradei and I both said that there will always be a residue of uncertainty, however far you can get. Now I think that given the many things unaccounted for we were relatively far from hitting that residue, so we were never conclusive about it. There is only one case when we really got very close to asserting that there was something left, and that was with the anthrax, where I think we certainly had strong indications that everything hadn't been destroyed in 1991. But having gone through the evidence of that case with the particular scientists here, I came to the conclusion that the evidence was not compelling, so we stopped short of saying that it does exist.

Now, we too, of course, were aware that the Iraqis must have learned a lot about concealment in the years and knew a lot about the techniques of the inspectors. So, we could not be sure that there were not underground stores that exist. We in fact were looking for ways in which one could explore that particular area, but you can't look into every cave in a big country. We were also looking into the question of mobile transport of WMD, because it was alleged that they moved things around all the time. Which is hardly plausible for a whole stock of chemical weapons for a country, but there could have been some. And this was an area in which we were really looking at for things. So we didn't exclude that we could stumble upon something. And the question came then when, you remember, we found the chemical weapons warheads which were empty of any chemicals but we found 12 of them and then another four I think, and we asked ourselves, and I said to the Security Council: "Is this the tip of the iceberg? Or is it simply broken up pieces of an ice that has broken in the past?" And I wouldn't answer it at the time, kept both possibilities open. As I look at it today, perhaps I'm a little more inclined to think that it was debris from the past.

We looked at the stash of documents which we found on the basis of a tip from an intelligence agency. And again this had been said from intelligence in the past that the Iraqis were farming out documents to farmhouses and individuals and did not have them in archives. So the find was fitted into that picture. Could it have been part of a more general behavior? We still don't know. But it could also have been an individual scientist who brought documents home, even though some were confidential. Both possibilities are open and we never found another one, but I don't exclude that it could have happened.

ACT: Can you speculate on why--

Blix: Ah, one point more. That is that, if you study our latest report, in the appendix we have information about when did UNSCOM, in particular, find things and when did they destroy things. And you'll find that, in the first place, UNSCOM hardly ever stumbled upon something or found something that really was concealed. It was declared--either the sites were declared or the weapons were declared. And they destroyed practically all--the vast majority was destroyed before the end of 1994. After 1994, through their investigations and through the Kamel papers,1 they managed to identify that a number of things had been tainted, had been used, in installations, equipment had been used for the production of weapons-then they decided, this must be destroyed. So the little things were destroyed of that, but not weapons. And, I think that it is a detail now that the U.S. hasn't found anything and we didn't find anything. I think it's interesting to go back and see that, in fact, after 1994, not much was found and destroyed. That has escaped attention. I don't think we have called much attention to it either but it struck me, and so we brought that forward.

ACT: Let's talk a little about the Kamel papers. One of the criticisms that was made before was that the investigators didn't find things on their own, that they were basically relying on defector testimony. How would you rate [defector testimony] versus on-the-spot investigations in terms of their effectiveness of getting at weapons programs and what is there?

Blix: Well, of course, if you count Kamel as a defector, which he was, this was a very valuable source of documents. But, it did not lead anybody to a new weapon that was hidden. It demonstrated that they had weaponized biological weapons and, according to what the Iraqis said, then destroyed them. So, it was a very interesting piece of history. It showed that they'd been lying, but [defectors] didn't lead directly to any weapons. In the nuclear field, it revealed that the Iraqis had a crash program under Kamel from the end of 1990 and to some part of 1991, in order to make a nuclear weapon out of fissionable material, which were under safeguards, and that they just didn't have time to do it. However, it did not lead the IAEA to any more fissionable material. It had already been taken out of Iraq by the time they found the Kamel papers. So, it was very interesting historically, revealed something that the Iraqis had kept quiet about, but it did not lead the IAEA to any weapons.

And when it comes to comparison between the value of defectors and the value of other intelligence or what the inspectors found, I would say that the IAEA, for which I was responsible at the time, did a pretty good job, with the exception of these crash programs about which we knew nothing. However, it was in discussions with Professor Jaffar [Jaffar Dhai Jaffar, Deputy Chairman of the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission] that the big revelations came about the program. And through very painstaking research by our team, led by Prof Zifferero [Maurizio Zifferero, former Deputy Director of the IAEA and head of the IAEA's Iraq Action Team] not by David Kay [chief inspector of a nuclear weapons inspection team in Iraq and now Special Advisor for Strategy in the WMD search in Iraq]-he had no notion of their nuclear program. He was not a nuclear physicist. But Professor Zifferero, vilified by Mr. Milhollin [Gary Milhollin, director of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control], he was the one who really traced the program and understood it.

ACT: You mentioned the mobile laboratories when we were talking a little bit earlier. If they were, as the Iraqis claim, not used for biological weapons but were actually producing hydrogen [for civilian purposes], why didn't they declare them? Doesn't it strike you as strange?

Blix: Yes, a little. I mean, we were the ones who said to the Security Council that we asked the Iraqis for the images or declarations of whatever could have been seen as mobile and they gave us a number of photographs and none of these really fit with the ones that have now been discovered. Maybe there is some explanation for it but we are not aware of it. And I agree, it is puzzling and not the only puzzling detail.

ACT: More broadly, let's say that the Iraqis have been telling the truth all along and that they don't have these weapons, why would they not show the evidence of that and avoid a war?

Blix: I agree with you, I think it is a little bizarre. Maybe they considered them to be not a dual-use item. If they were to produce hydrogen, as they say, for weather balloons, was that a dual-use item at all? Maybe it had not drifted up to Amin and to al Saadi [Hussam Mohammed Amin, head of the Iraqi National Monitoring Directorate and Amir Al Saadi, a senior adviser to then Iraqi President Saddam Hussein].

Ewen Buchanan (UNMOVIC Public Information Officer): Maybe they didn't bother to tell the others.

Blix: I do not immediately jump to the conclusion that it was a lie. It could be.

ACT: Not just on that particular program but in the general sense of all their--of all the things you were missing.

Blix: Why didn't they declare everything?

ACT: Yeah, why not come clean?

Blix: When it came to biological, clearly they were lying and they knew that. Now, why did they do that if they had no weapons left? I'm not sure that the logic and the emotions and psychology works exactly the same way as they might do here. Maybe they felt ashamed to admit weaponization? I mean one theory why they - if they had no weapons after '91, then of course there's a much bigger enigma than that, and that is why did they behave all along as they did during the whole 1990s? Because they suffered through sanctions all the way through. And I've been speculating about it and I think more people than I will speculate about it.

One speculation that's been made in the Washington Post, which may have been plausible is that, while on the one hand they would say to the Security Council, "We've done everything, now you lift sanctions." On the other hand, maybe they did not mind that people say, "Well maybe they have something"-a deliberate ambiguity. It's possible-the mystique of maybe having some biological weapons, maybe they're playing around. That is one possibility. Now, why should such a mystique - why should they pursue that until they are occupied? That seems a little peculiar. Maybe by the force of its own logic or by miscalculation, brinksmanship.

And I have one other speculation and that's regarding pride. I saw that the chief minder of the chemical sector --when he was asked this question-he talked about pride. And I think that goes fairly deeply into my view of how inspections should operate here, that the Iraqis are very proud, as are the Pashtuns in Pakistan, the Afghans are extremely proud people. And that [the Iraqis] felt that, okay, these resolutions are accepted by us. We will live by them, but not one inch longer, not more intrusion than is absolutely [necessary], and they were legalistic about this.

I find it very hard to understand some of their denials of access that they had otherwise, where they were quibbling about five inspectors or ten inspectors going in, and eventually going into a house that was totally empty. There must have been a strong element of pride, and that was why when I came here from the very outset, I said we are in Iraq for effective and correct inspections. We are not there for the purpose of humiliating them, harassing them, or provoking them. There were many other elements too that we differed from UNSCOM, but this was one and I still think that pride might have been an element and, while we had lots of frictions and difficulties with them, in any case, we had I think a less difficult relation than UNSCOM had. We had, in particular, never any denial of access, and we had a good deal of cooperation when it came to setting up the infrastructure. So did UNSCOM have cooperation, but they of course had many denials of access.

ACT: In your recent report, you said that Iraq was cooperative in terms of process but not equally cooperative in terms of substance, and that the long list of unresolved disarmament issues had not shortened. On the other hand, you also said that inspections contributed to a better understanding of previous weapons programs. Could you elaborate a little bit? How does the inspection produce a better understanding if no outstanding disarmament issues were resolved?

Blix: Well, I think that there are biologists that learned more about [the Iraqi] biological program. We were given access, for instance, to some binder of documents-a fairly extensive thing-which did give them a better understanding. But it did not explain or give evidence that 8,500 liters were all they had [the total anthrax production that the Iraqis had acknowledged to UNMOVIC] or that they'd all been destroyed.

In the chemical field, we were interested in explanations about VX and whether it was stabilized or not stabilized. I'm told, by the experts that they understood some things better, obviously.

Buchanan: If I could chime in. From the UNSCOM days, it is true, the better understanding often led to more questions rather than anything else.

Blix: That's true. Take the Air Force documents.2 I mean, they did give us the Air Force documents. The famous Air Force document was given to us and we examined it and everybody agreed it was authentic. And it raised new questions. There was one enigma gone and another one coming up.

But as to the first part of your question about the difference between cooperation on process and on substance: Yes, of course, from the outset they were cooperative on process, and this was a marked difference from the past. And we were also trying to be as professionally correct as we could, although they accused us of being spies from time to time and asked "why could you ask such questions, these are not legitimate questions." But at the same time we felt that on the substance, they were to be active-as the council resolution required-and the 12,000 pages that we received as the declaration we thought were not really containing much new, mostly repetition of old finally complete declarations from the past. This was almost arrogant--that was our view, maybe we were mistaken in this judgment, but that was how we saw it, and similarly when they gave us 400 names, we had more names ourselves. And, combined with their assertion that these are "so-called disarmament issues," it was a somewhat arrogant attitude - we perceived it as such.

And that was the background for my statement in January, that they were not of substance, and that statement shook them. When I came back the next time, they were--[Iraqi Vice President Taha] Ramadan was indignant about it. It shook them clearly. And then it seemed to me that they changed very much, and they suggested all kinds of methods. They also zeroed in on the points which they knew that we were particularly interested in: on the VX, and on the anthrax, and on the SCUD missiles. So from that time, they became proactive, not just active but proactive. And we welcomed that.

However, we had to look at everything with cold eyes and examine [these efforts, which] didn't really solve anything. And in that respect, I warned the council that it may not, and eventually as we analyzed and submitted our thirteenth report, no we don't think that it really solved any of the issues of the past. As an example, we talked about the idea they had that we should take soil in places where they had poured anthrax into the ground, examine the soil, and look at the products that were there and see whether we could draw some conclusions about the quantities of anthrax that had been poured into there. Well our scientists were skeptical about it, but we were willing to go along and try the experiment. And so there was an effort, but whether this was an attempt to throw more dust in our eyes, or whether it was a genuine desperation on their part, that they had no other evidence, we don't know. We simply had to conclude that we did not have more evidence.

We also said in the discussion of interviews that, if you don't have any documents, then clearly interviews become even more important. They gave us lots of names of people who had taken part in the transport of missiles and the destruction of anthrax and the destruction of VX, and this was the most interesting avenue we would have pursued if we had remained, with all the handicaps that you have, in pursuing interviews in a totalitarian country. And I still feel a little puzzled that they could have detailed lists about even who transported what in 1991 without keeping any records of how much they transported. That's mystifying to me, though I do not exclude that there could be some natural explanation that they could destroy all the stuff, they could destroy all of the documents, but they couldn't destroy all the people, even in a country like Iraq.

ACT: As you said, they seemed to be getting a little more cooperative, at least giving you the semblance of cooperation, toward the end, if the inspections had continued, do you think you would have been able to get more substantive cooperation out of them or was it bogged down in this difficult process?

Blix: Well, it seems to me that the interview process would have been the most promising of them. Maybe they would have found some further documents, occasionally found some, but not very many. We thought that after we had found this stash of documents, that when they appointed [former Minister of Oil, General Amer] Rashid, and it was the [Rashid] Commission that could get the documents all over the country. I thought that if they had them-now this is a moment for them to do it [turn over the documents] without loss of face-they would find themselves in the right. I applauded their department officials. The same way with the commission they appointed after we had found the 12 warheads. It is far better-this now could be done without loss of face. But nothing came of it.

Now what would have happened then, if we had not been able to clear up and give really solid evidence, was that there would have been more indications of cooperation in substance yes, but still a lot of things would have - might have - remained unaccounted for, which wouldn't have been very satisfactory. And we don't know where we would have gone, maybe the U.S. would have said, "Well we are waiting for two months, this is it, that's the end of it." And others would have said, "They are really cooperating now, there are no problems." What we really are in now is continued containment. Now that was not a welcomed word in Washington, they didn't like the idea of containment, they wanted something decisive. And, well, their patience was not even enough for us going until March, so at what time point would they have lost patience? I don't know.

I'm not opposed to containment, and I said so at the time. I agree that containment has its drawbacks. In particular, and I think I mentioned it publicly that, there could be a fatigue in the Security Council, that the guard will be let down. I understand that also. So, it has some shortcomings. At the same time, I think one must be-then see what shortcomings has the other solution. All of the lives lost, all of the destruction, and we haven't seen all the other drawbacks that may come from it, nor have we seen all the benefits that could have come from it. They'll be on there - the balance of that particular account is not finished. But I was not personally against aerial containment actually that we had for a long time.

And in particular when you look at the most important-I mean, we-you and me talk about WMD as if it were one homogenous area, which of course it is not. I mean, the nuclear is vastly more important and there's a question of whether we really want to call chemical weapons "weapons of mass destruction." Biological [weapons are] more like terror weapons than weapons of mass destruction. However, in the nuclear field, I think that it was clear that it would have taken quite some time before they were up and running again because the whole infrastructure was destroyed. They could have, I agree they could have, succeeded in importing 18 kilograms of plutonium. They might have had the expertise to make a bomb, yes, but even that would have required some infrastructure, so the matter of intervention to prevent further development in the nuclear field was probably the weakest; it was the most important area, I agree, but it was the weakest.

ACT: When you had to leave Iraq, what were the disarmament tasks that were the most pressing, the issues you really wanted to get resolved?

Blix: I think that mobile business was. That and the underground [facilities for concealing prohibited weapons and related equipment]. And we had taken it up with the Iraqis, both of these items, and we were discussing concepts for how to approach the mobile business with the Iraqis and with others. We talked about having checks at the roads with Iraqi staff and us having helicopters, dashing in here and there, taking samples of these random checks and so forth. We never got to that, it wouldn't have been easy. None of the police forces we talked with gave us a really good model for it, but we were working on that.

And this goes back-the mobile thing went back to my experience in the IAEA in 1991. After all, the calutrons were on trucks, and they were, it was an IAEA team headed by Mr. Kay, who helped to take pictures of it. So we had experience that the Iraqis did move things around on trucks, but whether they were live things or debris, that was another matter. In any case, they had the habit of moving things by trucks in the big country, so that was not implausible. This was one experience from the past. But as Al-Saadi said to me when we talked about moving biological stuff around, he shook his and said merely the collision risk of all this stuff on the highways would have deterred him. I didn't write it off because of his remark, but I understood him.

ACT: I just have a couple of questions about the inspections, the process, getting into the weeds a little more. I have heard some say that there is no such thing as no-notice inspections, and he asserted that even during UNMOVIC's time in Iraq that the Iraqis had advance notice, that it was routine practice to give the Iraqis advance notice of inspections. Is that accurate? If it's not, was there any evidence that you noticed that the Iraqis knew you were coming?

Blix: No, we have heard people say that UNSCOM was penetrated and for that reason, the Iraqis would have known and, in some cases at any rate, that we were coming. We know that when our inspectors set out from the Canal hotel, Iraq would watch in what direction they were going and I know there were some cases our people sort of went around Baghdad so they alerted them all around the country. But once, of course, you are on the road, well then, they will observe that and the minders will inform those who maybe are in the direction they are coming and could prepare. However, we do not believe we were penetrated by the Iraqis here or in the Canal hotel. We do not think that any of these [Iraqis] actually knew where we were coming, until we were setting out on the road and they could start guessing it.

Now, added to that, I think is that, if they have a few hours notice, there is no way you can dismantle a missile program or move out a hell of a lot of chemical weapons. But you can of course squirrel away documents, vials-yes, that can be done. And UNSCOM had seen in the past how they were taking away some documents. But as for hardware, I think that's much harder unless it's small pieces of various kinds.

Buchanan: I think there was a common misunderstanding. Just because the Iraqis went out with us didn't mean to say they knew where we were going. People say, "why do you take them along with you?" They just followed, quite literally. And, yes, it's true, we would say to the chemical minder, "We want to meet you tomorrow in the morning at 8 o'clock because we're going out again." We just say the chemical team is going out at 8 in the morning but not where. There were some of these commentators that we talk of, yes and tomorrow we want you to take us to al-Qa'qa.

Blix: The only cases where we or the IAEA actually told them were in cases where we needed equipment to do something in particular, but they were very few cases. So I don't think this is really tenable.

ACT: I was going to ask you about a comment that [President Bush's national security adviser] Condoleezza Rice made during a March 9 interview3 when she said that "the IAEA missed--"

Blix: Yeah, thank you, wonderful. I've been looking for that. What date was it?

ACT: March 9th.

Blix: Nine. Nine of March. Good. (laughter) I'd like to see the evidence for that. (laughter) I'm sure she didn't find that evidence herself.

ACT: But my question was--

Blix: She refers to 1991, '95, and '98.

ACT: Right, and I was asking if you could comment on the accuracy of that statement.

Blix: Well, I've been intrigued by this statement, and [Secretary of State] Colin Powell also referred to, I think 1991, and I've seen [Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul] Wolfowitz says that we were ready to close the nuclear weapons chapter before--when?

ACT: Three months after the end of the Gulf War.

Blix: I don't frankly understand. I'd love to see what evidence they have, in fact I love evidence in general (laughter). But I'd love in particular to see this since I was responsible for the IAEA at the time. Now, what we can say and I have said to [all this] is that, before the Gulf War, the IAEA had a safeguard system that was constructed by august member states, and which we operated to the full satisfaction of the said august member states. (laughter) And that this system was inadequate to discover undeclared installations and it was even asked to go to strategic points, to stretch its limitations to see what it could do within it. And the said august states woke up to the necessity of beefing up the system when it was discovered that Iraq had a great deal that was not declared. It would not have been politically possible to move in that direction before this disaster. And I am part of the disaster, yes. But neither did the CIA nor even Mossad to my knowledge know that the Iraqis had undeclared installations. Well we were in good company and I do not see why the IAEA alone should bear the burden for that.

We did take steps to beef it up when they came to fruition in 1997, the additional protocols which have not yet been ratified by-there are lots of people, states that have not done it. But nevertheless they are on the way and this is an interesting and promising development.

Now so much for '91. We did not see evidence of a nuclear weapon at the first inspection, but I think almost very shortly after the first inspection. We were there before UNSCOM- we could see that they had a program of enrichment, the calutrons were discovered there relatively early and identified. We did not jump from that conclusion that they have the bomb, nor would it have been permissible to do so. However, we asked - we certainly did not say or conclude that they have it. And it was relatively soon - or soon enough that they came with a drawing of the weapon. And so, I don't understand what the critics have mention in 1991. (It's true that in the safeguards report, that came in early 1991, the safeguards department probably reported that it had not seen any diversion of any fissionable material under safeguards but it didn't pronounce itself about anything that was not placed under safeguards.

So, that's 1991. For 1995, the critics have in mind the Kamel papers that revealed the crash program that Iraq had in 1990 and 1991. We didn't know about that. Well, the program failed, but we couldn't fail. This was nothing that went on in 1995; it was going on in 1990. And for 1998, I had no idea what the critics referred to.

So I think it would be very interesting if these criticisms that were never made at the time, by the United States or anybody else, at the IAEA--that this be substantiated. I've seen Mr. Milhollin and others say this - that doesn't surprise me the slightest - but I was taken aback when it came from Condoleezza Rice. I know she didn't do the research herself; I'm sure it would have been more solid then. But I would be very interested to know what was that basis of it.

ACT: How would you describe-since you're talking about Dr. Rice-how would you describe the U.S. participation and commitment to the inspection process before the war? Was the United States doing all it could do to enable your inspections to succeed? Were other countries, such as France and Russia, doing all they could do to support the inspections?

Blix: Well, in the early stages, there was not so much intelligence, and we asked for it from Colin Powell and others-Condoleezza Rice-and we were sure that we would get it. I would say that after 1441, the resolution, was adopted, and after the president had met Mr. ElBaradei and myself, there was more intelligence given, and at no time did we really complain about lack of support-lack of intelligence yes, but lack of support no. No, they helped us to run courses here, offered us equipment, etc. We were not complaining about that.

And, as of January-some time around January, I guess-I did not also complain about the number of sites intelligence that we were getting. The problem was rather that the U.S. or elsewhere-I don't want to distinguish between the various intelligence agencies-that they did not lead us to interesting sites. As I have said publicly several times, we went to a lot of sites given to us by intelligence from around the world and in only three cases did we find anything and in none of these cases did it relate to weapons of mass destruction. Now, at this stage, in the middle of June, when the U.S. inspectors have been there for quite some time and I think have probably gone to all of the rest of the sites and they haven't found them very helpful either. So should anyone be surprised then, in retrospect, that we did not?

Now where did [the information about] these sites come from? Some came from satellites, and it's not so easy to see everything and conclude the right things from satellites, and many came from defectors. So, while I by no means want to belittle the value of defectors' information, I think I like the more experienced - the professionals in the intelligence [community] - are very cautious about the information they get from defectors, and I think the whole case of the Iraqi affair bears out that you have to treat such affairs with prudence.

ACT: U.S. officials were reportedly frustrated with some of your reports to the Security Council. Is that accurate, and how would you respond to that?

Blix: If they are, I think they ought to be more articulate. My boss was the Security Council. I take my instructions from them, I read every ounce of criticism that came from the council. I do not see any criticism there.

ACT: So these were, as you said, certain lower level people?

Blix: Well, maybe that's a technique that you give spins on something at a lower level and you read in the newspapers what some people feel there at the official level. This might be suppressed, I don't know, but in any case at no time did I feel any criticism from the Security Council. On the contrary, I think I felt support and appreciation.

I read about, of course, the most flagrant cases, where allegations to the newspapers that we had suppressed information about the drones and about the cluster bombs probably. But we felt both cases were areas where we were exploring, where we were not ready to say that these are violations. And I have not seen that the U.S. has come out to say that these were violations, that these were smoking guns. So, I don't think that we were so wrong. If they had still felt that way, I assume they would not have been all that tight -lipped about it.

ACT: If you had to assess your own tenure there, how successful were you? How would you sum it up?

Blix: I would say that we have - we showed something that was not a foregone conclusion. Namely, that it was possible to create an international inspection mechanism that was effective, that worked under the Security Council, and that was independent of intelligence agencies but cooperated with them and had assistance from them. And I think that this is a valuable experience for the future because I think that there may yet be a need for international inspections.

Inspections under international organizations have greater acceptability in the world and I think they have also greater credibility than national inspections. Thereby, I don't say that national inspections have no credibility. If the inspectors who are in Iraq now come up with 100 tons of chemical weapons, well that's it. But we have seen how they have been jumping somewhat to conclusions on the mobiles. And I can see the pressure they're under but nevertheless one has to be cautious about that. So, I think there may be use in the future for this and that the experience is valuable and it's my reading of the Security Council that this is also the view of the council. I have not heard the U.S. dissent from it. Sure, the U.S. is a big country and there are many people in Washington, and I understand-as well as you-I understand there are some people there who are deeply skeptical about it and also people who would like to see it under their own control, rather than under of some more-or-less anonymous, international civil servants. This I understand, but there are arguments against this and that is both the credibility and the acceptability of it.

Now this is intriguing because we have different kinds of inspections in the world, and I remember saying at the State Department when we discussed Resolution 1441 that you could have had another one - that the Security Council could have asked the United States to set up the inspections from the beginning, just as it asked the U.S. to lead them in the Korean War. But that was not what they did. In resolution 1284, they said we should set up an inspection that was independent and where the inspectors were international civil servants, as contrasted to the inspectors under UNSCOM who remained civil servants and had per diems and travel expenses from the United Nations. Now there was a signal in this that we were to have a geographical distribution as in the United Nations system, that it was to be an international inspectorate and not any kind of adjunct to western intelligence.

ACT: You were saying something about this permanent body and lessons for the future. You wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal a few months ago about inspections everywhere.

Blix: Well, the headline was theirs, don't you know. The headlines are always yours, I take no responsibilities for headlines. (laugh)

ACT: Yes, but could you elaborate more on what your notion of this organization and how this would function?

Blix: Well, we read now about the North Korean situation that the U.S. and others say that it must be irreversible and it must be verifiable, so I ask myself now what kind of verification are they planning for North Korea? Are they planning bilateral American inspections? Or are they still looking at the IAEA, or do they want to have inspection system under NATO, or what? I don't know. But the IAEA has the safeguards agreement with the operator, and to my knowledge the U.S. is supporting the safeguards system, even to the extent of asking for more funds for it. Although I haven't seen that they do the same thing for the OPCW [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-the international organization that carries out inspections under the Chemical Weapons Convention]. Maybe they did, I haven't seen it.

So I think the U.S. is also not throwing out inspections but it's natural for some people who have command of an area that they would like to have it all under their control. Well, I understand these guys, but there are some things you can gain by being together with others. You may have to give something, but you also gain something. Therefore, I think there may yet be opportunities for it.

I can go back to the early days of the nuclear sphere, when the U.S. sold technology and hardware to other countries, and they had bilateral American inspections. There were American inspectors going to the countries to check that what they had sold was used only for peaceful purposes. Now that was transferred to the IAEA, through explicit agreements, transferred to be multilateralized and institutionalized. And there were several reasons behind that. I think that's what both UNSCOM and UNMOVIC have shown is that we can have very effective inspections under an international system. In Iraq, maybe with the exception of something that will come up, we have not been accused of not having been effective. They were both correct and effective.

Now things might have been different if the Iraqis had stonewalled, but then you report [that]. I mean, the chances that inspectors will catch anybody red-handed are not very great. A country that is about to act in such a way would rather deny access, but then you would have smoke. Rather than a smoking gun, you have smoke. And that is interesting enough because that sets in motion the alarm bells and sets in motion the diplomatic, economic, and other measures that the government can take.

This is what happened in the case of North Korea. We didn't find a smoking gun-in fact, we don't know how much more plutonium they had than they declared. But they were not - it was not an honest report that they had. They had reprocessed more than once, [although North Korea declared that they had only reprocessed once] so they must have had more plutonium now. This was smoke. The Pentagon and the CIA came to the conclusion later that they had one or two bombs. Well, the IAEA has never said that. It's possible, because they might have reprocessed the whole batch. It's conceivable, but it's the worst case scenario, as it were. It's legitimate for them to play with that

But what the IAEA achieved then was getting the smoke coming up, setting in motion the whole procedure with the Security Council and the formidable [Robert Gallucci, lead U.S. negotiator on the 1994 Agreed Framework that attempted to freeze North Korea's nuclear weapons program] who came to an Agreed Framework, which I think probably was the best-or least bad-we could do at the time. I've never felt any criticism here.

ACT: There is speculation that Iraq destroyed prohibited weapons pretty recently before the U.S. invasion. Do you think this is possible, given UNMOVIC and IAEA's presence, that they could have destroyed the weapons without your knowledge?

Blix: This is not the only explanation we heard. One explanation is that they took things to Syria. Another one was that they dug it down so deep that they didn't have time to dig it up. The third one would be that they have already given it to terrorists. And the fourth one is they destroyed it just before the U.S. came or just before the inspectors came. Well, I see these explanations with increasing, accelerating interest and curiosity, but I'd like to see evidence of any one of them.

But to your precise question, I think it would have been difficult for them to hide the destruction of rather large stashes of chemical weapons under the noses of the inspectors. I don't exclude anything in this world.

ACT: Do you think any chemical or biological weapons that are still there would still be viable?

Blix: It varies. Any biological weapons that were dried, like dried anthrax, that would be viable. Even slurry might--might not be. A lot of the chemicals would not be viable.

Buchanan: A lot depends on the agent. Botulinum toxin has a very short life.

Blix: And the precursors might be there.

ACT: Now that you're moving on, in terms of UNMOVIC, at this point, what role can and should UNMOVIC play?

Blix: Well, it's entirely up to the Security Council. We are its humble servants.

ACT: Presumably, they might take your advice.

Blix: I'm not so sure. Well, maybe some of them (laughter). No I think there are two things that could be in the future. One is the verification of disarmament. A report by the inspectors who are there now would have greater international credibility if they were examined and if the reality were examined by international inspectors. Whether they are interested in that, I don't know.

The second is long-term monitoring. Will they want to have long-term monitoring in Iraq? That's still not rescinded from the resolutions. It was in all the resolutions and the resolutions also talk about this future zone free of weapons of mass destruction. I think there's something a little paradoxical about reducing the institutionalized transparency by doing away with something that was there, especially if we are looking for an enhanced verification for the region at some stage, including the Additional Protocol [an agreement designed to provide for more rigorous IAEA inspections]. And you would do away then with any verification [that Iraq does not possess biological weapons]. So you would have inspectors presumably on safeguards and the NPT [nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty] and chemicals maybe. But they would be a step backwards on inspections. So for the long-term it's a possibility, and I think that would be better in the hands of international inspectors than national ones.

But for the rest, the UN Security Council had in UNSCOM's and UNMOVIC's archives and personnel a unique, elite trained force. Especially the roster of inspectors is a practical and inexpensive way of holding an inspectorate ready. Valuable particularly regarding missiles, a priority for which you have no international organization. I do not think that the council wants to send ad hoc inspections every week, but it could be from time-to-time, and it would not need to have a very big stable force here. We would organize the training forces and organize the roster and the readiness.

For the rest, I think that they should write up the experiences here in some sort of digest because if they do not retain UNMOVIC then maybe they will set up something in the future and the document has experiences from both [UNSCOM and UNMOVIC] which are valuable.

ACT: For some sort of institutional memory ?

Blix: We have ourselves some of that already. We have the handbook that we worked out and which was not made public but which was used and made available to our College of Commissioners that might not be applicable in the same way to another situation because it was somewhat tailored to the resolutions, of course. Nevertheless, there is a lot to be learned, I think we can learn for the future. We have tried to commit to paper some of these experiences.


NOTES

1. Hussein Kamel, Saddam Hussein's son-in-law, who directed Iraq's illicit weapons programs, defected in 1995. Shortly after, Iraq provided inspectors with papers from Kamel's farm detailing their offensive biological weapons program

2. A document indicating that Iraq had used fewer chemical munitions during the Iran-Iraq war than it had previously stated.

3. Excerpt from "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," ABC TV, March 9, 2003:

Condoleezza Rice: It's extremely important not to draw conclusions too early about who is making progress on a nuclear program. I was a little concerned that IAEA remarks about the Iraqi nuclear program the other day seemed to draw certain conclusions.

George Stephanopoulos (Off Camera): It said they hadn't revived the nuclear program.

Condoleezza Rice: Right, and the IAEA of course missed the program in '91, missed the program in '95, missed it in '98. We need to be careful about drawing those conclusions particularly in a totalitarian state like Iraq.

Description: 
Interviewed by Miles A. Pomper and Paul Kerr

Country Resources:

ACT Interviews Undersecretary Bolton on North Korea

Interviewed by Miles A. Pomper

Arms Control Today Editor Miles A. Pomper met with John R. Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, on April 15 to discuss the U.S. approach toward North Korea. Tensions between the two countries increased last October when U.S. officials announced that North Korean officials had acknowledged to Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly that the country was pursuing a uranium-enrichment program, which would violate its commitments under the 1994 Agreed Framework and other nuclear nonproliferation commitments. Since then, the United States has cut off supplies of fuel oil pledged to North Korea under the Agreed Framework, and North Korea has withdrawn from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), removed seals and monitoring devices from its plutonium-based reactor and nuclear facilities, and expelled International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors.

Until recently, North Korea insisted that it would only consider bilateral talks with the United States to discuss its nuclear program, but the United States insisted on a multilateral forum. On April 12, North Korea signaled it might drop its demand that any talks involve only the United States and North Korea, although it continued to hold the United States ultimately responsible for reaching a resolution. On April 16, U.S. officials announced that North Korea, the United States, and China would hold talks in Beijing April 23-25.

Bolton was sworn in as undersecretary on May 11, 2001. Before joining the State Department, Bolton was senior vice president of the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington policy organization. A lawyer by training, Bolton was a partner in the law firm of Lerner, Reed, Bolton & McManus from 1983 to 1999. He has held several government positions, including assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs from 1989 to 1993 and assistant attorney general from 1985 to 1989.

The following is a transcript of the interview.

ACT: On Saturday, the North Koreans seemed to hint that they were open to a multilateral format for negotiations, and the president was apparently very pleased about that. Do you think this is a breakthrough, and what is the state of the diplomatic dialogue with North Korea?

Bolton: I do think that the North Korean statement represents an acknowledgement that the multilateral approach to the question of the nuclear weapons is appropriate. That is something we've been insisting on for some time. The problem posed by North Korea's nuclear weapons program is not a bilateral problem between them and us; it is a problem for the region as a whole because of threat it poses to the nearby countries, and it is also a global problem because it's a direct challenge to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and it's also because of North Korea's well-documented proliferation behavior with missiles and other advanced systems and weapons of mass destruction.

It's a problem because of what they might do in terms of outward proliferation. So, we do see it as global problem; we've approached it that way. It's one reason that we've sought to have the IAEA board of governors refer the question to the [UN] Security Council-which they did some weeks ago, why we thought the Security Council was an appropriate place to discuss this obvious threat to international peace and security, and why we've sought to have a multilateral forum to have the issue considered in. So, from that perspective, I think the statement was a step forward. Now, what exactly it means and how it will play out at this early stage or at this stage, it's too early to tell. Events could move fairly quickly, but sitting here today I just don't know that. We're prepared, as we've said for quite some time, to have discussions in a multilateral context, and we'll see what develops from here.

ACT: Do you have any additional preconditions on any discussions?

Bolton: Well what we've said, going back months now, is that we expect the complete verifiable dismantlement of the North Korean nuclear weapons program before bilateral talks would proceed. That was the position in October, when [Assistant Secretary of State] Jim Kelly went and when the North Koreans admitted they had a nuclear weapons program, and that's the position today, too. But in terms of discussions in a multilateral context, we're fully prepared for that to proceed.

ACT: And was there any diplomatic response-obviously we saw the president's statement [on multilateral talks]-but was there any contact, message to the North Koreans about setting up a dialogue, or any specifics?

Bolton: Well, they have been communicating principally with the Chinese, who have been advancing, with them, the idea of various formulations for a multilateral conference. We have proposed a number ourselves, but the president wanted to be clear we weren't focused on one formula or the other, so the actual arrangements, I think, will be handled by the Chinese, who have indicated that they would be willing to host such a conference. Probably in Beijing, which would be fine with us.

ACT: No dates have been set?

Bolton: No. No, like I said, that could move quickly, or not -I just don't know at the moment. We're prepared, if it happens in a relatively short period of time, or whatever the circumstances may be.

ACT: Are you planning, or any other administration officials planning, for instance, to go to China to advance this process?

Bolton: I think it's too early to answer that. I mean, we'll have to see what the logistics of the conference look like. We've been in consultation with the Chinese at all levels from the president to [Chinese President] Hu Jintao, Secretary [of State Colin] Powell, former foreign minister Tang [Jiaxuan], the new [Chinese] foreign minister, myself, Jim Kelly-at all levels on this.

ACT: When they announced their willingness to hold multilateral talks, the North Koreans also referenced a "bold switchover in U.S. policy" that seemed to tie into the notion of a bold package, which we had advanced before Assistant Secretary Kelly was there. Is that still on the table as far the U.S. in concerned? Is that something down the road that we could see as an outcome of these talks?

Bolton: I think it's a possibility, but as I said-as was the case in October-they have to have the dismantlement of the nuclear weapons program before that becomes possible. That is because the uranium-enrichment program in particular was a violation of the Agreed Framework, as well as the nonproliferation treaty. And obviously, since October, they have taken a lot of steps at [the nuclear facility at] Yongbyon that are very troubling, and everybody is familiar with the expulsion of the IAEA inspectors, the unsealing of the reactor in the reprocessing plant, and all the rest of that.

ACT: Is there anything more specific on what you would be prepared to offer them in terms of that or what you would demand of them in terms of that, beyond the nuclear question?

Bolton: No, I think that it is, as the president said earlier last summer, what a bold initiative would look like. That didn't go anywhere because of the evidence we had of their ongoing uranium-enrichment program. I think the ball is really in their court at this point in terms of the dismantlement of what they have now, which is two nuclear weapons programs.

ACT: The Russians and the Chinese appear to have put out more pressure recently on the North Koreans. First of all, is that so, how helpful has it been, and what do you think of the prospects for bridging the gap between the U.S. position and the Russian-Chinese position?

Bolton: Well, I think there is complete agreement at the declaratory level among China, Russia, and the United Sates, and that is that it is not acceptable to have nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula. In that sense, we certainly are all at the same point. I think that the North Korean statement about not sticking to a particular dialogue format was probably caused by a variety of factors. Number one, the realization that the president was serious when he said that he wanted multilateral talks. Number two, the successful conclusion of the conflict in Iraq. Number three, I do think Chinese and Russian persuasion. Now I don't mean to say that the causes were in that particular order. I don't know what the order was; I think that's trying to judge what went on in the mind of the North Korean leadership-which is not something that we can particularly do with accuracy-but I think it was some combination of those three factors.

And I do think that it reflects the Russian and Chinese view that we take this matter seriously but that we're prepared, if there's a true multilateral environment, to see if there's not a way to work it through to a solution. Now I note that there have been statements attributed to North Korea since the Saturday statement [announcing willingness to engage in multilateral talks] to say that they don't want Russia and Japan to participate in these multilateral talks. That requires further analysis; that's certainly not the view we hear from Russia and Japan-they very much want to be involved in such conversations. And that's-we've been prepared to accept that before. So, I think that's one of the things we need to analyze a little bit more closely.

ACT: Do you think it's important to have Russia and Japan there?

Bolton: Again, I think the president has tried to show flexibility on what the formula is. Certainly, there's a strong argument that all five of the legitimate nuclear weapons states in the NPT should be present at some point. And certainly, that includes Russia, as well as Britain and France. Japan has an obvious equity in this matter, given its geographical location and threat that a nuclear-equipped North Korea would pose. So, I don't think ultimately there's a multilateral solution unless these equities are taken into account, but I don't think that necessarily translates into the shape of the table at the first meeting, and I think it's substance that we want to focus on, not process.

ACT: Is there anything more that you'd like the Russians and Chinese to do in terms of advancing dialogue?

Bolton: Well, I think there was a very helpful statement by Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov on Friday of last week, where he said-I'm sure you can get the transcript from Reuters or somewhere like that-what he said was, basically that we think the North Koreans have to take steps here, and we don't rule out sanctions at some point down the road if the North Koreans are not cooperative. That reflected a change in the Russian position.

You know, our view has been, one of the reasons we wanted to get this into the Security Council is because we thought that was the appropriate international institution to consider it, but that we were not pressing, right now, for sanctions. We thought if the North Koreans took the more responsible approach, we wouldn't need to get to the sanctions point. At some stage, there were some who were saying the Russians and the Chinese would never agree with sanctions. Obviously the Russian position on that has changed, and we think that's helpful, too. Not because that means sanctions are our first preference; our first preference is to get the North Koreans, on their own, to dismantle their nuclear weapons programs. But I think you can see from the vigorous efforts that China made to try to put this international multilateral conference together and from the statements of the Russians that they have been moving more vigorously to try and get the North Koreans to see reason on this.

ACT: Earlier this year you characterized as "very serious" steps North Korea had already taken in terms of its plutonium and uranium program. Maybe you can illustrate a little bit more what you mean. What does it mean if North Korea continues with nuclearization; how will it affect the region; how will it affect the global proliferation regime, and so on?

Bolton: Well, I think the course that the North took through this clandestine effort to gain an enrichment-uranium-enrichment capability-posed a very serious threat, because it was a rejection of all of their public commitments: the nonproliferation treaty, the safeguards agreement, the North-South joint denuclearization agreement, and the Agreed Framework. And it cast great doubt on the credibility on finding a successor agreement that we would have any confidence that they would follow. And likewise, the steps that they took to unfreeze Yongbyon-moving towards a nuclear weapons capability through plutonium reprocessing-was also very troubling. Now we know what we know about Yongbyon; we don't know everything about the uranium-enrichment side of things, although we do know that their international procurement efforts on that continue. So the real issue here is when North Korea is going to stop further progress on its nuclear weapons program. Basically the ball remains in North Korea's court because of the actions they have taken and whether it gets more serious or not is also in their hands. If they begin reprocessing, if they launch another ballistic missile, as people have said, that would make it even more serious, but we're hoping-that's why we're pressing for a diplomatic solution, to avoid that potential.

ACT: I guess my question is more specifically, what is the threat of a nuclear-armed North Korea? What would that mean to the region, and what it would mean to the United States?

Bolton: Well, I think it poses a threat to everybody in the region and would be very destabilizing and cause enormous concern to South Korea and Japan and enormous concern to us and others with an interest in the area. And, once they achieve a nuclear weapons capability, because of the risk that they are selling technology, fissile material, and complete weapons, the global proliferation risk would also be considerable.

ACT: Given that, are there any kind of red lines that we've laid down, either directly or indirectly, in terms of steps that they would cross that would bring punitive action, military action? For instance, reprocessing?

Bolton: No, we haven't declared anything to be a red line, in part because the idea here is to get the North Koreans into a multilateral negotiations framework, and not to speculate about how bad things would get if they continued visibly to move towards an additional nuclear capability. What we've said in totality is that all options are on the table, and we're not going to go beyond that. The president has directed, and our efforts have been aimed at, a diplomatic resolution, and that's really what our concentration is on.

ACT: Do you think we could live with a nuclear-armed North Korea?

Bolton: Well, our objective is the peaceful elimination of North Korea's nuclear weapons program. The stress is on peaceful, but it is also on elimination of the nuclear weapons program.

ACT: What do you perceive as North Korea's intentions? Why are they doing this-building up these nuclear weapons and pulling out of the NPT?

Bolton: I think, given their record of proliferation of ballistic missiles and other weapons technology, I think they see a nuclear capability as a potential source of hard currency. I think they see it as a bargaining chip vis-a-vis us, and I think they see it as leverage that they can apply to their neighbors to get additional tangible support for the regime.

ACT: You said last week you hoped a number of regimes would draw a lesson from our actions in Iraq, particularly North Korea. Some critics have said, on the other hand, North Korea itself has said that there is another lesson to be drawn, which is to move quickly toward a nuclear weapons program and not cooperate with international inspectors and so on. How would you respond to that?

Bolton: Well they sure, they could draw that lesson-it would be the wrong lesson to draw. The Iraqis did fail to cooperate with international inspectors, they did maintain an aggressive denial and deception posture, and they did frustrate UNMOVIC [inspectors in Iraq] and the IAEA. The appropriate lesson to draw is that ultimately weapons of mass destruction or efforts to get them are inappropriate for these countries-that they should give them up. I don't think you can say that having eliminated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein that that gives any encouragement to any other regime to continue to seek such weapons, and I think the general view in the international community is that people who have adhered to international treaties ought to comply with them. And so, in that situation, the lesson for countries that are in noncompliance with treaties they've entered into is pretty strong, and that's something that throughout this administration we've stressed. Whether it's the BWC [Biological Weapons Convention], the CWC [Chemical Weapons Convention], or the NPT, if you adhere to a treaty, you ought to live up to your obligations under it.

ACT: So you don't think that lack of military action against North Korea, versus the military action in Iraq, lends credence to this criticism at all?

Bolton: No, not at all. I think the actions are completely different. Iraq comes after 12 years of defiance of Security Council resolutions and after a UN-granted cease-fire that they repeatedly violated. That's why, in fact, Iraq is not an example of preventive warfare. This is not quite like the 30-years war in Europe, but it's the conclusion of a war that's gone on for 12 years-12 years of Iraqi resistance to the very cease-fire agreement that they signed up to back in 1991.

ACT: In terms of what North Korea actually has, there have been conflicting reports from the CIA about whether they have the plutonium to make a nuclear weapon or whether actually have nuclear weapons themselves. Can you shed any light on what is a more accurate analysis of that? Do they actually have nuclear weapons at this point?

Bolton: Well, I think [Defense] Secretary [Donald] Rumsfeld has said publicly that we think they probably have one or two. You know, I think that's a pretty authoritative statement.

ACT: South Korean President Roh, as you probably saw last week in the Washington Post, said that he was certain that they did not have nuclear weapons.

Bolton: I'll go with Secretary Rumsfeld.

ACT: Talking about the uranium program, when did the North Koreans start procuring parts for the uranium program?

Bolton: I don't know that they necessarily have. the technology that the Iranians and North Koreans are both using is something that was stolen from the Urenco technology; in other words, this is a uranium-enrichment approach through a centrifuge cascade approach that has been followed by a number of rogue states. The fact that various rogue states are using the same technology doesn't necessarily tell you that one got it from the other. It's possible, but it doesn't tell you that definitively; they could have purchased it out there on the black market.

One of the things that I'm hoping for to come out in the post-conflict stages in Iraq is that we might learn about the "netherworld" of WMD procurement. Obviously, we'll learn a lot about Iraq's WMD programs, but I'm hoping that if the files haven't been destroyed or the scientists haven't disappeared, that we'll learn, not because the Iraqis were participating in these programs, but learning about front companies, financial channels, all kinds of ways in which these programs were put together. That would tell us a lot about how to pursue nonproliferation in a variety of other contexts as well, as one of the benefits of the Iraq operation.

ACT: What I was trying to get at was a sort of a timeline in terms of when you thought the North Koreans, whether they procured them from a particular country or not, when they started getting the parts for these centrifuges?

Bolton: We can…what we've concluded, I think, is that this goes back-the North Korean uranium-enrichment effort is a serious attempt to get production scale capabilities-goes back to about 1998. That we know of. It may go back earlier than that; we don't necessarily know, but it's a program that has been out there for quite some time.

ACT: Why, then, did you wait until 2002 to confront them-for Secretary Kelly to confront them?

Bolton: We didn't really wait. What happened was, in a fashion, certainly unprecedented in my experience, is that a lot of information came together in roughly the summer of 2002 that pointed unmistakably to North Korean production scope enrichment efforts, and Secretary Powell and others were very clear to us that they wanted us to think about this, to evaluate the evidence, and to be very sure of it and to make sure we didn't do anything that anyone could accuse us of acting precipitously. So you know, the information came in; we evaluated it, we studied it, we thought about it, and there was uniform interagency agreement that that is what the North Koreans are up to. It was at that point that the decision was made to send Jim Kelly, so it was a process. Actually, in terms of governmental decision-making, it was very quick.

ACT: How long would you say?

Bolton: From three or four months from the beginning, when we began to appreciate what this information was revealing to us and the decision to send [Jim]-and Jim's actual trip was about three or four months later.

ACT: Let me ask you a couple of questions on Syria. First of all, how serious a threat do you think their WMD capability represents?

Bolton: Well, they have a very serious chemical weapons capability. We've been saying that for some time-goes back to the speech I made at the BWC review conference, or on CWC that I talked about that and talked about their chemical weapons capability. So these are real programs; there's no doubt about it. We've also been concerned about what might be happening in the nuclear area as well, in addition to missile and cruise missile capabilities.

ACT: What about the nuclear issue?

Bolton: Well we don't-well they've got, they're getting outside assistance in the civil nuclear area. There are a variety of things that they've got that we're concerned about from a weapons point of view. I'm not saying they're doing anything specific; I'm just saying it's a worrisome pattern that we've seen, and I think that has been our view, well, before the onset of the second gulf war.

ACT: Has that changed-the chemical weapons part? I know Secretary Rumsfeld mentioned they've been doing some testing recently. As you said, this is kind of a long-standing concern in terms of the chemical weapons.

Bolton: Well, I think what has aroused the extent of the comments in the past couple of weeks has been not their existing weapons programs, although we've been concerned about them, we've spoken publicly about it. But about concern that there might be shielding of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, that there might be assistance in the form of facilitating trans-shipment of military supplies to the Iraqis and providing refuge for top Iraqi leaders. So in other words, these are all things-and support of terrorism, of course-things that have been prominent in the past couple of weeks.

ACT: My last question on Syria is what are you looking at as of the options in dealing with this situation? I know general comments have been made by Secretary Powell and others. For instance, I know that in terms of sanctions, the Syria Accountability Act-past congresses or administrations have said "we don't want this to move forward"-has there been any talk of you changing your position on that issue?

Bolton: Well, I think what we're-we're on a fast moving situation now, at least we have been in the past couple of weeks with active military hostilities underway, and I think the level of seriousness is reflected in the kind of comments the president, Secretary Rumsfeld, and Secretary Powell have made. And you're asking me today a question that will appear in a periodical a month from now. I think we're looking at it in a day-by-day basis, but I don't think you can blink at the seriousness of the problem.

ACT: Can I ask you one more question? Ambassador [U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations John] Negroponte recently said that U.S. policy is not just a matter of getting North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions; it also must have a verification regime that will work. What would constitute such a regime?

Bolton: We-we're discussing internally what a complete and verifiable dismantlement would mean in practice, and we've got some excellent ideas that we're considering; we've gotten some consultation on that internationally, as well. We don't have a final package at the moment, but I would say our thinking is well advanced on that, and it's provided an opportunity-not that I'd go looking for reasons to do this-but it's provided an opportunity to do some very good and detailed thinking on what that kind of verification would require.

ACT: Is there any model that you're using, something that you've viewed as successful?

Bolton: No, actually what we did in this case was to start from the ground up and say, "What kind of effective verification system would you devise?" As I said, I wouldn't go out looking for reasons to do this, but it has provided an opportunity to do some new and creative thinking. And as I said, we're in consultation within the administration and internationally.

ACT: With the IAEA?

Bolton: Well, with British and French and others, to discuss what this might look like.

ACT: And is there any administration plan to turn the unilateral freeze on the North Koreans' unilateral moratorium on their flight-testing of their missiles into a permanent freeze?

Bolton: Well, I think that would be something to see if we get into a multilateral context whether that is something worth discussing. We have had concerns that, although there is not actually launch testing on the Korean Peninsula, that the North Koreans might be benefiting from data from launch testing elsewhere, like in Iran. That's something that we're concerned about.

 

Expounding Bush's Approach To U.S. Nuclear Security: An Interview With John R. Bolton

Arms Control Today met with John R. Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, on February 11 to discuss the Bush administration’s strategic nuclear policy, its ongoing negotiations with Russia, and its approach to nonproliferation.

In the interview, Bolton acknowledged for the first time that the United States did not offer Russia amendments to the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty before announcing its withdrawal December 13. Bolton also questioned the value of the negative security assurances the United States has offered non-nuclear-weapon states since 1978, but the State Department subsequently indicated that U.S. policy had not changed and that the Bush administration does support negative security assurances. (For more information, see U.S., Russia Agree to Codify Nuclear Reductions.)

Bolton was sworn in as undersecretary on May 11, 2001. Before joining the State Department, Bolton was senior vice president of the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington policy organization. A lawyer by training, Bolton was a partner in the law firm of Lerner, Reed, Bolton & McManus from 1983 to 1999. He has held several government positions, including assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs from 1989 to 1993 and assistant attorney general from 1985 to 1989.

During Bolton’s time as the nation’s top arms control official, the Bush administration has generated controversy by announcing the U.S. intention to withdraw from the ABM Treaty and by rejecting an internationally negotiated protocol intended to help strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention. Currently, the most prominent arms control debate concerns how to implement President George W. Bush’s proposal to reduce the number of strategic nuclear warheads the United States operationally deploys to 1,700-2,200, as well as Russia’s offer to reduce its nuclear forces. Although the administration recently said it would codify the reductions in a legally binding arrangement with Russia—a commitment not clear in November when Presidents Bush and Vladimir Putin initially announced the cuts—the Pentagon has said that warheads removed from operational deployment will be stored in a reserve force rather than dismantled. This position has been criticized by Russian and American experts, as well as U.S. congressional leaders, who want to see the warheads and their delivery vehicles dismantled in order to make the reductions as difficult as possible to reverse.

J. Peter Scoblic, ACT’s editor, and Wade Boese, the Arms Control Association’s research director, met with Bolton in his office at the State Department. The following is a transcript of their conversation.

ACT: Secretary Powell said last week that he expects the United States and Russia to sign a legally binding accord to reduce the number of offensive strategic weapons that they deploy. In earlier months, the administration had suggested that it would prefer an informal agreement because Cold War-style treaties are unnecessary, given our new relationship with Russia. Why has the administration changed its mind?

Bolton: Well, I don’t think we have changed our mind. I think the point about not wanting Cold War-style treaties remains entirely valid, and the reason for that is that, in many respects, the way those treaties were negotiated reflected the geostrategic environment of the Cold War. That environment is now very much different, and our relationship with the Russian Federation is very much different. In those circumstances, you don’t want to be negotiating a kind of formal agreement that actually exacerbates diplomatic tensions as much as it might have the prospect of relieving them. So, the issue is looking for the right kind of agreement that reflects the new relationship, which could well take the form of a treaty or something other than a political declaration. We’re still in the process of deciding that. We’re having conversations with the Russians. We’ve told them for quite some time we’re open as to form. They have also said they’re open as to form. We’ll have to see how it works out.

ACT: What did Secretary Powell mean by “legally binding agreement”?

Bolton: Well, that would be something that could be a treaty, could be an executive agreement, might be something else that would embody the offensive weapons numbers.

ACT: Is there a preference for a treaty or an executive agreement on the U.S. side?

Bolton: At this point, we’re still open as to form. I’m sure as we get closer to May that decision will be made.

ACT: When we are speaking about a legally binding agreement, are we talking about the numbers of the warheads, are we talking about transparency, are we talking about verification? What exactly is the substance of this?

Bolton: Well, I think we’re still contemplating exactly what we mean by that—what the most appropriate format would be, how it would be structured, and that sort of thing. And I think that’s all part of the negotiating process.

ACT: The administration has indicated that it wants to reduce the number of deployed strategic warheads to 1,700-2,200 and that it wants to place many of the downloaded warheads in a “responsive force” that could be reconstituted within weeks, months, or years. The Russians have indicated that they want to make these cuts irreversible by destroying the warheads. Is the United States considering a commitment to destroy the warheads it removes from deployment?

Bolton: Any agreement we reach with the Russians will be consistent with the nuclear posture review that was basically concluded, and what we do with the downloaded warheads would really be a matter for us to decide, and that would follow the same pattern that has obtained in prior strategic weapons agreements, which do not provide, one way or the other, for what happens to downloaded warheads or warheads above the limits of the treaty. We’ve discussed this with the Russians. Secretary Powell has discussed it with President Putin, and I think the fair thing to say is there are a number of different views within the government of Russia on that, and I think, as our discussions go forth, we’ll have a better sense of exactly what their position is.

Let me just say that a lot of these questions you are asking go to the negotiations that are underway now, and therefore there aren’t hard and fast answers to them. That’s the nature of being in this kind of negotiation. I don’t know when you plan to publish this, but if it’s another couple of months from now, it may be that those things have been resolved, that they’ve been announced publicly. It may be that they haven’t been resolved. I just don’t know. I’m just trying to let you know that, when you are in medias res like we are here, it’s just not possible to give necessarily definitive answers to some of these points.

ACT: As you stated, the START agreements did not call for the destruction of warheads, and the administration has said that a number of times. But those treaties called for the destruction of the missiles and the bombers. Is the administration planning on destroying the delivery vehicles that carried the warheads?

Bolton: Well, it’s already part of the Department of Defense’s plans, and it was discussed again in the nuclear posture review, for example, to download four Trident submarines and to phase the Peacekeeper missiles out of operation. What would happen over the course of the life of the nuclear posture review with respect to other platforms would depend on circumstances, but the key—and one of the main differences between this nuclear posture review and prior strategic frameworks—was the focus on operationally deployed warheads, and that’s why this review came to the conclusion it did at the level that it did.

ACT: When outlining the framework for START III in March 1997, Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin agreed that the two sides would explore measures relating to “tactical nuclear systems.” Does the Bush administration intend to try and reach an agreement with Russia on tactical nukes?

Bolton: I think we’re certainly willing to discuss tactical nukes with them. It’s a different subject from the strategic subject, and I don’t anticipate that in the run-up to the May summit, we will be looking for an agreement on that issue. But we have raised this issue with them periodically over the past year, and I’m sure we’ll continue to discuss it with them.

ACT: Is it a high priority for this administration?

Bolton: Well, it’s a different circumstance. Our first priority is missile defense, which we have now resolved satisfactorily. The second priority is going to be discussions about the offensive warheads, which we are now engaged in. The next priority is the discussion of Russian proliferation behavior, which we have also raised with them. But the issue of tactical nuclear weapons is obviously still out there.

ACT: In the nuclear posture review, the administration said that we’re not sizing our nuclear force relative to the Russians’, but aside from a prompt counterforce strategy aimed at Russia, what contingency does the administration expect that could require 1,700-2,200 deployed strategic warheads?

Bolton: I think there are a lot of contingencies that are inherent in the planning that underlies the nuclear posture review. I’m not going to get into specifics because that still remains classified, but the issue has never been one just of bean-counting—of how many warheads there are or whether they’re operationally deployed or in the response force. The overall question is whether we think we’ve got a deterrent capability that’s robust enough to prevent a first use against us and also that we’ve got an adequately sized force in the event there’s a need to use it.

ACT: I guess what confuses me is, if we’re not sizing our force specifically relative to the size of the Russian force, what could we possibly aim 1,700-2,200 warheads at?

Bolton: Well, I think it’s in the contingency that you would need to have that number of warheads for the targets that we think would be important. This is not a case where there’s just an abstract decision to pick a certain number, and a lot of planning went in to deciding what the range of operationally deployed warheads would be. That is obviously still very highly classified, and I think what we can say is that we think the numbers that were arrived at were adequate for our defensive purposes, consistent with the president’s stated objective of having the lowest number of warheads possible consistent with that objective.

ACT: Can you give a sense of what specific contingencies require us to keep a responsive force of several thousand warheads that could be reconstituted within weeks, months, or years?

Bolton: Uncertainty. Uncertainty about the world. Uncertainty about the geostrategic circumstances that we might face due to threats that we can’t foresee. I think central to this thinking in the nuclear posture review is the need—while we bring the operationally deployed numbers of warheads down—is the need to retain flexibility in the event that the international context that we live in changes. There is a whole series of other things in the nuclear posture review, in addition to warhead levels, that are also important, such as fixing the deteriorating nuclear infrastructure, making sure that we’ve got scientific and other capabilities to be able to test within a period of 18 months if there is a need to do so. We’re in a very different position from the Russians, who still have a huge nuclear infrastructure left over from the Cold War, and the need to have that kind of assurance is very real, especially if you come down to relatively low numbers of operationally deployed warheads.

ACT: Is one of the unforeseen possibilities—one of the geostrategic contingencies that we are preparing for—a resurgent Russia, a Russia with whom our relations are not as positive as they are now?

Bolton: It’s not a question of preparing for it. It’s a question of acknowledging that the world today is likely to be different from the world 10 years from now and that there are a whole range of uncertainties that are out there that you can’t even necessarily put a particular probability on. But the risk of renewed threat to us from countries that might have nuclear warheads is obviously one of those contingencies. Hopefully, as time goes by, we will see the theoretical size of the response force and even the range of operationally deployed warheads go down. But there’s nothing inevitable in life, and I think that’s what is inherent in the planning assumption.

ACT: There are some analysts who are concerned about a resurgent Russia that could even be overtly hostile to the United States in the future. Given that nothing is inevitable and that we don’t know what to expect from the future, doesn’t it make some sense to try to lock in progress in the U.S.-Russian relationship now by making cuts to our warhead levels as difficult to reverse as possible?

Bolton: I think that is exactly what we’re doing in terms of the president’s decision to take down our number of operationally deployed warheads. But you can’t lock in something if there’s a dramatic political change in another country. And I think it’s that degree of realism that informs our overall approach to the offensive weapons question.

ACT: Wouldn’t it be beneficial to lock in Russia at a lower number so—

Bolton: You’re not going to lock them in if there is a substantial political change. In other words, locking them in—in every one of these treaties there’s a supreme national interest clause that allows somebody to withdraw. We just invoked it to withdraw from the ABM Treaty. You don’t lock anybody in forever as long as there is a withdrawal clause. It is the flexibility to deal with something that we can’t contemplate now that we think is important.

ACT: In 1995—

Bolton: And you disagree with that? I’m just curious. The “lock in” notion seems to me to require treaties—under the theory as I understand what you are saying—to require treaties that don’t have withdrawal clauses. Otherwise, you are not locked in. And then, let me just say, if somebody violates the treaty, what are you going to do? You going to sue them? Let’s be clear about what “lock in” means, and I don’t think the treaty itself, even without a withdrawal clause, is going to lock them in because there is no court you can go to get specific performances.

ACT: I think the question was going to the idea that, if relations do sour and if there is a crisis situation, that a treaty—even if it is possible to withdraw from it within six months or whatever—provides a time frame and a period of stability that would help the United States and Russia, or whatever country, work out their differences before having to respond by building up their deployed warhead levels.

Bolton: I think if there were substantial change in the international environment that would cause us to be concerned about what our offensive warhead level was, it wouldn’t be something that could be worked out in six months. What we’re looking at are big changes over long periods of time. It could go in the other direction as well. It could result in substantially closer, warmer relations with a number of countries, where we could kind of play the operationally deployed number of warheads going down too. The point is not to be precluded, on our part, from relatively rapid change if our security circumstances warrant that kind of change.

ACT: In 1995, Secretary of State Warren Christopher reaffirmed U.S. negative security assurances, which—and I’m going to paraphrase here—say that the United States will not use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear-weapon state unless that state attacks the United States or its allies in association with a nuclear-weapon state. Is that the policy of this administration as well?

Bolton: I don’t think we’re of the view that this kind of approach is necessarily the most productive. What we’ve tried to say is that we’re looking at changing the overall way we view strategic issues, and a large part of that is embodied in the outcome of the nuclear posture review. It’s certainly reflected in the ongoing strategic discussions that we’ve had with the Russians and reflected in the discussions we’ve had with a number of other countries as well. So, I just don’t think that our emphasis is on the rhetorical. Our emphasis is on the actual change in our military posture.

ACT: So, right now, the Bush administration would not make a commitment to non-nuclear-weapon states under the circumstances I outlined, that it would not use nuclear weapons—

Bolton: I don’t think we have any intention of using nuclear weapons in circumstances that I can foresee in the days ahead of us. The point is that the kind of rhetorical approach that you are describing doesn’t seem to me to be terribly helpful in analyzing what our security needs may be in the real world, and what we are doing instead of chitchatting is making changes in our force structures, that we’re making in a very transparent fashion. We’ve briefed the Russians, friends, and allies as well about the nuclear posture review, and we’ll let our actions speak.

ACT: Aren’t those commitments also codified in the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty [NPT]?

Editor's Note:

In this exchange, ACT made a mistake, and Undersecretary Bolton correctly pointed out that in the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) the nuclear-weapon states did not commit themselves to refrain from using nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states. However, as the follow-up question indicates, the United States made a pledge not to use nuclear weapons, known as a negative security assurance, in the context of the NPT in 1995—a pledge further formalized in UN Security Council Resolution 984.

Secretary of State Cyrus Vance first articulated U.S. negative security assurances in 1978. The United States made a similar pledge in 1995, prior to the NPT review and extension conference, to shore up the non-nuclear-weapon states’ willingness to extend the treaty indefinitely. Secretary of State Christopher said, “The United States reaffirms that it will not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons except in case of an invasion or any other attack on the United States, its territories, its armed forces or other troops, its allies, or on a State towards which it has a security commitment, carried out or sustained by such a non-nuclear-weapon State in association or alliance with a nuclear-weapon State.”

That pledge—and similar pledges made at the time by Britain, China, France, and Russia—were then noted in Security Council Resolution 984, which was approved in April 1995. In a 1998 speech to the Arms Control Association, Robert Bell, then-senior director for defense policy and arms control at the National Security Council, said that negative security assurances had been “codified” by the Security Council resolution, suggesting that the United States considered its pledge legally binding. Bell also said that the negative security assurances had been “reaffirmed” in 1997 by a presidential decision directive (PDD-60) on U.S. nuclear weapons policy.

Following the public release of this interview, the Bush administration reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to negative security assurances, saying that no change has been made in U.S. policy. For more information, see news article on p. 23.

Bolton: In the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty? Suppose we can get the treaty out and look. What section did you have in mind?

ACT: That is a good question. I don’t have a particular section in mind.

Bolton: Being a lawyer, I like to read sections.

ACT: I can appreciate that.

Bolton: [Examining the treaty] This is about nonproliferation in the sense of technology transfers, and all that sort of thing. I’m not sure really where it goes to the question you’re raising about use.

ACT: Well, part of the 1995 extension and review conference—that was the context within which Secretary of State Christopher made his statement, or reiterated or reaffirmed the U.S. position. So, essentially, I think other members of the NPT look at that as an important commitment by the U.S. as far as the NPT is concerned. So, are you in a sense backing away from that? Does that suggest we are not taking our commitments to the NPT seriously?

Bolton: We take our obligations under the NPT very seriously. In terms of what was said at the 1995 and 2000 NPT review conferences, we’re reviewing all of that in the context of our preparation for the 2005 NPT review conference. And I think those statements, as I said before, were made in a very different geostrategic context, so I think it’s important for us to review them looking toward the 2005 review conference.

ACT: On a more theoretical level, what role do nuclear weapons play generally in preserving U.S. security in the post-Cold War world? Is it strictly a retaliatory deterrent capability, or do we also need a war-fighting capability?

Bolton: Well, I think the nuclear arsenal is central to our ongoing security needs. Hopefully, it will never be used in anything other than a deterrent capability. But in the God-awful circumstance where deterrence failed, where some regime is just not susceptible to deterrent theories, we would certainly want an arsenal that was capable of being used and being used with effectiveness. That has been, I think, the view of every administration since the development of nuclear weapons.

ACT: So the Bush administration’s nuclear doctrine is relatively similar to the doctrine of the administrations that have preceded it?

Bolton: Well, that is a big statement. The whole point of the nuclear posture review was to look at the changed circumstances in the world and come up with a new force structure, new levels of operationally deployed warheads, and new levels of looking at the role of the nuclear arsenal in our overall defense posture. And I think that’s what we have done. Obviously, circumstances change, the conditions under which the deterrent is kept up change, and that’s what we’re trying to implement.

ACT: What I’m getting at is, the administration has suggested that it has a new way of thinking about strategy and a new way of thinking about nuclear weapons. But a deployed level of 1,700-2,200 strategic warheads suggests a counterforce strategy, which is a strategy—as you say—that has been in place for decades now. So, I’m not quite clear what the difference is.

Bolton: Well, it’s a difference of going from just under 6,000 operationally deployed warheads to 1,700-2,200. I think that is a fairly dramatic reduction, which if we are able to achieve would be something, I think, overall very positive for the international environment.

ACT: Is that not still mutual assured destruction?

Bolton: To the extent that there’s a potential opponent that has its own large nuclear capability. The whole point of deterrence theory is not to get to the actual use of the weapons, and it may be that that’s what we will face; it may not be. I can assure you that in terms of the review, people were not sitting around having theoretical discussions. They were trying to determine what the lowest number of warheads would be consistent with our overall security. And this is where they came out.

ACT: You’re emphasizing “new,” you’re also emphasizing that we are going from 6,000 down to about 2,200 to 1,700. But back in 1997, there was a commitment by Presidents Yeltsin and Clinton to go down to about 2,000-2,500. What is radically new about going from 2,000-2,500 down to 1,700-2,200?

Bolton: I think the question is not simply a bean-counting exercise of how many numbers you are talking about. The nuclear posture review looks at a completely different role for nuclear weapons in our overall defensive posture, and, although the number of warheads sounds the same, I think it is actually different. I think operationally deployed is probably different from the kinds of counting rules they were talking about—it reflects a different approach to the nuclear triad and to the new triad that the nuclear posture review refers to.

ACT: Would the United States consider using nuclear weapons in retaliation for a chemical or biological attack?

Bolton: I think that’s a hypothetical question that really doesn’t serve much purpose in getting into. In the Persian Gulf crisis, the administration had already decided not to use nuclear weapons if Iraq in fact used chemical or biological weapons after the actual hostilities broke out. But it was decided not to tell [Iraqi Foreign Minister] Tariq Aziz that in Geneva—to let him worry about what the consequences might be. And I think there was a good reason to take that approach then. I think it’s a good reason to leave it like that now.

ACT: In an interview with Arms Control Today, published in September 2000, then-candidate George W. Bush declared that he would “offer Russia the necessary amendments to the ABM Treaty so as to make our deployment of effective missile defenses consistent with the treaty.” But Russian officials, including President Putin, claim the United States never offered amendments to the treaty before President Bush announced the U.S. intention to withdraw on December 13. Did the U.S. propose specific amendments to the ABM Treaty?

Bolton: We proposed a variety of different ways to deal with the threat of ballistic missiles held by rogue states and the possibility of accidental launch to see if there wasn’t some way that we could reach agreement with the Russians that would be mutually acceptable to move beyond the ABM Treaty as written. And we had extensive discussions with them. I think in the period after the first meeting between the two presidents at Ljubljana that Secretary Powell and Foreign Minister Ivanov met something like 16 or 17 times, and God only knows how many telephone calls they had. We had many, many other meetings at many other levels. I went to Moscow seven times in the fall of 2001 to meet with a variety of Russian officials, and my counterparts at the Department of Defense did the same. The Russians came here. We had a very intense diplomatic effort to see if there wasn’t some mutually satisfactory way to get out of the constraints of the ABM Treaty and allow us to build a limited national missile defense, which is what candidate Bush had committed to. Ultimately, that didn’t work out satisfactorily, but we were as creative as we could be in trying to offer the Russians a whole different series of measures that we hoped we could have reached agreement on. As I say, unfortunately we were not able to do it, and we had to announce our withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, which now allows us, frankly, to go on and focus on other issues like codifying our agreements on reduced offensive weapons.

ACT: So, you are saying that the United States never proposed actual amendments to the ABM Treaty?

Bolton: What we said was we’re not going to get into a line-in, line-out amendment of the ABM Treaty because, in fact, that would have been impossible. The treaty is very well written. It was intended to prevent the creation of a national missile defense system, and that’s exactly what it did and that’s exactly what we wanted to do. But we discussed a whole range of other possible approaches to the problem with the Russians that, for their own reasons—no doubt good and sufficient to them—they declined to follow.

ACT: Excuse me, sir. I don’t mean to press this, but I just want to make sure I’m perfectly clear. So, the answer is that we did not offer Russia specific amendments to the ABM Treaty, is that right?

Bolton: We didn’t do line-in, line-out amendments. We talked about ways possibly with a new treaty that would replace it, or other ways that would give us what we wanted in terms of freedom from the constraints of the ABM Treaty as written. And I think the Russians understood exactly what we were talking about. They have a very sophisticated knowledge of the subject and the treaty, and it was not something they were prepared to agree to—despite, I think, good-faith efforts on their part and on ours—to see if there wasn’t a mutually acceptable way to get beyond the ‘72 treaty.

ACT: Very briefly, could you describe some of those ways you discussed? There was a column, I believe by Jim Hoagland of The Washington Post, a couple of weeks ago where he mentioned that there was an offer to extend the treaty—extend the U.S. remaining within the treaty for a period of two years or so—but by what mechanism would we have done that? What kind of options were we discussing?

Bolton: Well, I think there were a whole range of options that we were discussing that extended over a six-month period. There were a lot of meetings and a lot of discussions looking—and the nature of those discussions is throwing out ideas and seeing who is responding to them. It’s not unusual in those kinds of consultations. So, there were a lot of things we wanted to do in terms of testing and development, perhaps ultimately deployment, of missile defense systems that were not fixed, land-based systems, which is the only provision in the—the only kind of ABM system that the treaty allows. So, it would have required giving us the freedom and flexibility to do that, and, as I say, ultimately the Russians decided that they couldn’t live with that.

ACT: The administration has said that it wants to pursue a limited missile defense designed against accidental launches and rogue states and terrorist ballistic missile attacks. Would the administration consider a new agreement with Russia that would codify limits on missile defenses?

Bolton: I don’t see, at this point, that there is any need or any prospect for an agreement on missile defenses. I think we’ve said from the beginning that we want to be free from the constraints of the ABM Treaty and be able to develop, across the range of possible architectures, a limited national missile defense system, and I think, now that we have given notice pursuant to the ABM Treaty of our withdrawal, that’s what we are going to do once the treaty ceases to exist.

ACT: Are we considering—within the broad framework or the strategic framework, are we considering transparency agreements and confidence-building measures with Russia on missile defenses?

Bolton: Sure. We are considering a lot of—we’ve had discussions. In fact, we are having more discussions next week in Moscow on the kinds of transparency and possibly even joint work that we can do with the Russians, whether bilaterally or in the context of Russia-NATO relations or others on missile defense, because one of the points we made to them is that, in many respects, we face the same threats from rogue states and that if anything, given the geographic proximity of some of these rogue states, it is the Russians who face the greater threat. So, our offer to work with them and to continue to tell them what our activities are, as I say, even to have them join in some of those activities, remains on the table.

ACT: Are we looking at options of cooperating with the Russians on missile defenses?

Bolton: Sure. I think in some respects, particularly with what used to be called theater missile defense, I think there are a number of areas where we can work with them productively. Those are being explored, and hopefully we will continue them. I think one of the useful outcomes of the discussions we’ve had so far is the prospect for greater military-to-military conversations, so that they can each get to know what the other does a little bit better and find joint projects that they might, on both sides, find useful to pursue.

ACT: In the past weeks and couple of months, the administration has made a point of what has been called “naming names”—pointing out instances of specific states that it feels are violating international norms and agreements, culminating obviously in President Bush’s statement in the State of the Union that Iran, Iraq, and North Korea constitute an “axis of evil.” Can you explain to me how naming names furthers U.S. security interests, and what comes next now that we have named names?

Bolton: I think the most important thing, politically, behind naming names is to focus people’s attention on noncompliance with existing agreements. If countries are willing to sign agreements and then lie about their performance, they’re perfectly willing, it seems to me, to sign other agreements and lie about their performance under those. So that by isolating and putting a spotlight on the countries that are clearly violating their existing obligations, I think it focuses people’s attention on what the real problem is. When you have a large multilateral agreement the overwhelming number of states are complying with but a small number are not, the problem is the noncompliers. The problem isn’t everybody else. This is not therefore an agreement really of equals. It’s an agreement that contains people who are abiding by their word and people who are not. And focusing on those who are not seems to me to be the correct thing to do for those who are in compliance with their word. What comes next depends on the behavior of the noncompliant states. Some of them may conclude that it is just not worth the cost to them politically, and perhaps economically, of lying about their international behavior, but part of the answer to the question depends on the noncompliant states. In effect, they have the key to their political jail cell in their hand.

ACT: In discussing noncompliance and naming names, the United States contends that a number of states are pursuing or possess chemical weapons capabilities, including at least one country that is a member of the Chemical Weapons Convention [CWC]. Why hasn’t the United States called for a challenge inspection under the Chemical Weapons Convention to help resolve its concerns?

Bolton: The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW] formally, which is the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention, is a very troubled organization for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is its management. There are a whole host of issues raised by challenge inspections that require our attention and require also an effectively operating OPCW. We are thinking about the possibility of asking for challenge inspections, but our focus right now is on the management questions at the OPCW because, if those questions are not resolved, the organization itself will not be able to function effectively, and the whole CWC will not be able to function effectively. So, that’s what our focus is, and I think that until we resolve that—I don’t want to say this absolutely—but until we resolve these management issues, I think it would be risky to put a big burden on the OPCW, which it may fail.

ACT: How are we proposing to resolve these management issues?

Bolton: We are having ongoing diplomatic discussions, and I wouldn’t want to go any further than that at this point.

ACT: Coming back to countries that we feel are not in compliance with their obligations, Clinton administration officials have said that in December 2000 they were close to finalizing a deal with North Korea—

Bolton: It’s not a deal that we would have agreed to.

ACT: It’s not a deal you would have agreed to?

Bolton: And I don’t think they were close anyway.

ACT: Can you explain, assuming for a second that there was a deal to stem North Korea’s ballistic missile production and/or exports, can you explain why that wouldn’t have been a deal that the United States—

Bolton: It was grossly inadequate in its verification and compliance provisions, along the lines they were talking about. My reading of the record is they were still quite far away from agreement. I hope that’s true, because if they really thought they were close to agreement, as I say, in the absence of any kind of effective verification and compliance, it would have been an extraordinarily risky deal for the United States.

ACT: Other than a diplomatic effort like that one, what options do we have for getting rid of the North Korean ballistic missile threat, such as it is?

Bolton: Well, I think the ball is in North Korea’s court. The president said last summer that we were prepared to talk to them. They never picked up the phone. I’m not sure they have any inclination to pick up the phone. In any event, we’ve looked at their active biological weapons program, their violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. This really is a state that, as the president said, is one of the most dangerous regimes on the planet, having some of the world’s most destructive weapons. The president said very clearly in the State of the Union that we weren’t going to sit by while this threat remains. He is going to South Korea next week and let’s just hope the North Koreans have read the State of the Union message and act accordingly.

Interviewed by J. Peter Scoblic and Wade Boese

Deadlocked and Waiting At the UN Conference on Disarmament

December 2000

Interviewed by Wade Boese

Ambassador Robert T. Grey, Jr. has been the U.S. permanent representative to the UN Conference on Disarmament (CD) since October 1997. The CD, which convenes in Geneva for several weeks three times each year, has met since 1979 as a forum for multilateral disarmament negotiations.

This year, the 66-member conference successfully passed its agenda—consisting of broad categories that are open for discussion—but was unable to reach the consensus needed to establish a program of work, which is composed of mandates outlining discussions or negotiations on selected topics. For example, the work program could establish an ad hoc committee to conduct formal negotiations on an issue, with the goal of eventually concluding a treaty, or to hold discussions on a topic, aiming simply to explore members' views. Without a work program, the CD cannot formally negotiate or discuss any agenda item.

After completing negotiations on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1996, the conference was unable to reach consensus on a work program in three of the next four years. In 1998, the conference did agree to a work program and began negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) in August, but it made little headway before its negotiating session ended September 9. Though all CD members currently support FMCT negotiations, a few have insisted that those negotiations can only take place if negotiations are also conducted on nuclear disarmament and prevention of an arms race in outer space, a linkage that the United States has opposed.

Prior to heading the U.S. delegation to the CD, Ambassador Grey led the State Department UN Reform Team. He was counselor for political affairs for the U.S. Mission to the UN from 1989 to 1994 and acting deputy director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency from 1981 to 1983. Before holding these posts, Ambassador Grey was the Political-Military Affairs Bureau's deputy office director in the Office of Military Sales and Assistance and the executive assistant to the undersecretary of state for political affairs. He joined the Foreign Service in 1960.

On November 27, Arms Control Association Senior Research Analyst Wade Boese spoke with Ambassador Grey about the causes of the current stalemate at the CD and the possibility of progress. The following is an edited version of their conversation.

 

Arms Control Today: When I interviewed you two years ago (see ACT, October 1998), you expressed cautious optimism that the Conference on Disarmament would begin negotiations in 1999, specifically on a fissile material cutoff treaty. But now, after CD sessions in 1999 and 2000, the conference is still deadlocked and has not agreed on a work program in the last two years. Why?

Ambassador Robert T. Grey, Jr.: First, the CD actually did get started for a brief couple of weeks on an FMCT a couple years back, in August 1998. That decision to go forward was heavily influenced by international concern over the nuclear weapons tests that India and Pakistan carried out that spring. But since everyone knew that the CD could not really achieve anything in the few weeks left in that year's session, some countries probably went along with the decision to establish an ad hoc committee as a show of their "good faith." In other words, I doubt that all 66 members of the CD really had a strong commitment to FMCT negotiations as an independent endeavor for its own sake.

In January 1999, the situation turned out to be considerably more complicated. Basically, there were two issues that blocked work that year and in 2000. The first one, which I think we may now have worked out, was the interest of the non-aligned countries to get something started on nuclear disarmament in the conference. As we worked with them, it became clear that there was a possible way to accommodate their interests, and we have come up with a proposal to discuss nuclear disarmament in the conference—various aspects of it—but we would not negotiate on it. This seems to be where the consensus has emerged on that issue, and therefore I think that hurdle really is behind us. We have ways to work out the exact wording for discussions on nuclear disarmament, in return for getting FMCT negotiations.

The next issue that arose and became more acute was the Chinese insistence that they wanted outer space negotiations. It started about 18 months ago when the Chinese declared that, if there were to be FMCT negotiations, there had to be a negotiation on banning weapons in outer space. This was a new demand that really came up about the time of NATO's military intervention in Kosovo in March 1999. The Chinese have stuck rigidly to that position ever since. China is still insisting that, if we are to have a negotiation on an FMCT, the conference must also have negotiations on banning arms in outer space along with the negotiations on nuclear disarmament in the CD, which were requested by the non-aligned states. Now I don't think that is a real Chinese position, but that is what they are saying in public.

ACT: Why do you say that's not a "real" Chinese position?

Grey: I don't think China is ever going to agree to negotiations in the CD on nuclear disarmament. I think they are being a little disingenuous on that issue, for they have never shown any willingness to talk about their own nuclear arsenal. But they really do want, and are insisting on, something on outer space.

ACT: Why does the United States not support negotiations on the prevention of an arms race in outer space?

Grey: The United States does not feel there is an arms race in outer space. We think the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which bans weapons of mass destruction in outer space, is adequate and sufficient. In addition, the treaty permits the use of celestial bodies only for peaceful purposes and prohibits their use for military establishments or maneuvers or for testing any type of weapons.

Nevertheless, we are prepared to discuss outer space in the context of a work program in the conference.

We are not prepared to negotiate a treaty banning outer space weapons at this stage of the game. Our position is very simple. We see no need to negotiate on outer space, but we are willing to talk about outer space in an ad hoc committee. We are also willing to talk about nuclear disarmament. In return, we expect to get FMCT negotiations started.

This package is basically what successive CD presidents have proposed, beginning with the Algerian presidency of the conference in July 1999. It was followed up by the Belgian president and most recently by the Brazilian president this August. That is the package where consensus seems to be emerging. We would have ad hoc committees on outer space and nuclear disarmament to talk about what we could conceivably accomplish. In return, the CD would have active negotiations on an FMCT. With the exception of the Chinese, Pakistanis, and Russians, everyone is prepared to accept that kind of a package.

ACT: If the United States were to compromise on outer space negotiations, do you think any other countries would oppose the start of formal talks on the subject? In other words, is the United States the principal opponent to such negotiations?

Grey: We are prepared to have ad hoc committees to discuss what perhaps could be achieved or couldn't be achieved on outer space and nuclear disarmament, whatever the case may be, in return for FMCT negotiations. Those are both significant concessions on our part, and that's where the consensus has emerged amongst the conference. A fissile material cutoff treaty is the only thing that people have agreed to over the last several years and is ripe for negotiation at this time. Many countries have commented that other topics are not ripe for negotiations now and that a phase of organized discussions would be needed before any such negotiations could conceivably begin.

ACT: At the conference, you have described the pursuit of negotiations on an arms race in outer space as "unwise and unrealistic." Why?

Grey: The United States does not think that negotiations on outer space is a proposal that makes any sense. There is no arms race in outer space at all. Even if we were to deploy President Clinton's proposed limited national missile defense (NMD) system, which we haven't decided to do, that would not involve putting arms in outer space. So, we are just not prepared to entertain outer space negotiations.

ACT: Some countries have argued that it makes sense to address the issue of outer space before there is an arms race there. What is your response to that?

Grey: It's like saying, let's outlaw new conventional weapons. It's impossible to predict with any clarity what is or what isn't going to be a problem in the future.

ACT: Does President Clinton's September 1 decision not to authorize deployment of the proposed NMD system increase the possibility that countries will be less strident in their pursuit of negotiations on outer space or more willing to compromise?

Grey: It is hard for me to say from the perspective of where I am sitting. All I can say is that you would expect that would be the case. But it certainly has not manifested itself in any changed position of the Chinese, the Russians, or the Pakistanis.

ACT: Russia has said that it supports FMCT negotiations and that it also wants outer space negotiations. Have the Russians, like the Chinese, formally linked the two issues?

Grey: Russia supports the Chinese position and made the linkage here—no agreement on a work program unless it includes outer space negotiations. I would say that's fair as a statement of Russia's bargaining position, although it is clearly unrealistic. But Russia has no interest whatsoever in doing anything with nuclear disarmament.

ACT: What impact, if any, do you think Russian President Vladimir Putin's proposal to hold an international conference next spring on preventing the weaponization of outer space will have on the work at the conference?

Grey: I don't know, it's very hard to say. I mean, it hasn't been fleshed out and there has not been any formal considered reactions to it by delegations represented in Geneva. The CD is currently in recess, so we will have to see as we get closer to January when the conference resumes what various positions are on that. But, as I said, the reality is that three countries, one of whom called for the outer space negotiations, are blocking action in the CD. So it is hard for me to predict what those three countries are going to do in the near future.

ACT: Does Pakistan also support talks on prevention of an arms race in outer space?

Grey: The Pakistani perspective is basically that they are sympathetic to the Chinese and are absolutely wedded to the Chinese position insisting on negotiations on all three issues.

ACT: You have had a number of exchanges with the Chinese ambassador on negotiating priorities within the CD, and you have consistently talked about the danger of linkage within the CD. How do you respond to the Chinese ambassador's charge that the U.S. insistence to drop "linkage" simply reflects Washington's wish to negotiate only on what it is interested in without addressing the concerns or interests of other CD members?

Grey: Very simple. As I said, with the exception of the Chinese, the Pakistanis, and the Russians, every single member of the CD is prepared to accept a work program tomorrow that we could accept. There would be three ad hoc committees: one discussing nuclear disarmament, one negotiating on an FMCT, and the third one discussing outer space.

ACT: Why is negotiation of an FMCT the top U.S. priority at the CD and what does the United States want to accomplish through it?

Grey: The idea would be to negotiate a treaty that would effectively, and forever, bar the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. That would mean the five nuclear-weapon states of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) [Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States] and the three states that allegedly have nuclear weapons which are not members of the NPT [India, Israel, and Pakistan] would forever cease producing fissile material that they could install in nuclear warheads. This prohibition is a necessary step in the long-term process of nuclear disarmament, and it is the only step in this general field that the CD can negotiate now. We believe the treaty's main focus should be on uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing facilities, and that is where it would have real teeth.

ACT: In the final document of the 2000 NPT review conference, the NPT parties agreed to the immediate commencement of negotiations on an FMCT, looking for a conclusion of those talks in five years. How realistic is that given the current state of the conference?

Grey: Obviously, if you are working in an environment in which there has to be unanimity on a work program and there are three countries blocking that consensus, it is hard to imagine you are going to get there in five years if you can't start negotiating now.

ACT: You have mentioned this rule of unanimity a couple of times. Do you think that the rule of consensus needs to be addressed so that the conference can operate more effectively? Should unanimity be abandoned as an operating principle of the conference?

Grey: It's been helpful in the past to require unanimity, because a multilateral treaty negotiated in the face of active opposition by key countries could actually end up undermining international peace and security, instead of enhancing it. Yes, the requirement for unanimity blocked progress in 1999 and 2000, after doing the same thing for all but the last month of the 1998 session. But it is unlikely that the rules of procedure will be changed because you need unanimity to change the rules of procedure. Although any scoundrel can hide behind unanimity, on balance the requirement is a good thing to have.

ACT: In one of your speeches at the conference, you stated that in the U.S. view "holding FMCT hostage to negotiations on outer space is simply a poorly disguised effort to block FMCT negotiations altogether." Why would the Chinese want to block FMCT negotiations?

Grey: I can only speculate. Certainly in the back of my mind—and I'm told in the conference that I'm not the only one who has this suspicion—the Chinese reluctance to get going on an FMCT may suggest that they are having second thoughts about it.

ACT: Why would they have second thoughts?

Grey: Well, I can't speak for them. I just think that, if you look at their behavior, it is a legitimate suspicion. They certainly have not done anything as a number of other countries have, including ourselves, in showing any transparency about their fissile material stocks or in terms of showing people what capacity they have to produce fissile material. We have closed down our production facilities and have shown them to outside visitors, including colleagues from Russia and China. The British and French are very transparent. The Russians are relatively transparent. Only the Chinese have not showed any willingness to engage in transparency. In addition, they have repeatedly declined to declare a moratorium on the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons.

ACT: Does your perception reflect the view of U.S. intelligence reports that China is currently modernizing its strategic forces?

Grey: Well, that's on the public record. They are doing that and have been for a number of years.

ACT: Do you think this would impact their position on FMCT negotiations?

Grey: I don't know if it would impact their position on it per se, but clearly they are the only people who are really engaged in an upgrade of that caliber.

ACT: In the past, other countries, such as Egypt and Pakistan, have really pushed the issue of wanting to include fissile stockpiles within an FMCT. Will that issue be raised again if the conference ever decides to begin work on an FMCT?

Grey: It will certainly be raised. But the first step is to halt the present production, freeze it, and then at some point in time address the existing stocks of fissile material, while reducing the stocks of nuclear weapons. The question of fissile material stockpiles will certainly be hammered hard by a number of Middle Eastern countries, most notably Egypt, and clearly the Pakistanis will raise it. They are very interested in addressing existing stocks in India, but not as interested in getting rid of their own.

ACT: Would it be a powerful enough issue that it would block progress on an FMCT?

Grey: How to address stockpiles will certainly be the toughest issue if we get a negotiation started. It's very clear that it will be the most contentious one and will take the longest time to sort out. None of the five recognized nuclear-weapon states support the idea that an FMCT should include obligations related to existing stocks of fissile material.

ACT: If a compromise is reached on the outer space issue, might general nuclear disarmament still prevent consensus on a work program to begin negotiations?

Grey: I don't think so. I think we have got that one. In broad terms, we have an acceptable compromise worked out there. I think the exact wording will be along lines that we could accept, along with most of the other members. The only question mark would be the Russians, and frankly I think, if that was the only thing between the conference getting a work program established, something would be worked out.

ACT: Why do you raise the Russians in particular?

Grey: They are not terribly enthusiastic about doing anything on nuclear disarmament in the conference. They are much more cautious about it than we are. Until you get to the endgame, you can't tell what their ultimate position will be, but clearly the Russians are not enthusiastic about it. Further reductions in nuclear arms have to be negotiated with the United States on a bilateral basis, and it is not clear that anything said in the CD can contribute to that.

ACT: You mentioned that a mandate for discussion on nuclear disarmament was very close, and at the conference you actually used the term "only a few words remaining" to describe how close the CD was to finding a mandate. Could you explain what those few words are?

Grey: No, not really. I want to politely punt on that. We don't have an exact formulation on the table. We have several words, but clearly if you look at the combinations of them there are ways our concerns could be met without giving away the store, and I think there are ways other peoples' concerns could be met. There are a number of ways one could get around the wording problem. Until we have a final paragraph or piece of paper with the words written down, I can't tell you which words should come in and which ones should go out. We are literally within five or six words of an agreement that satisfies everyone.

ACT: This will only be limited to discussions, not negotiations, correct?

Grey: That is exactly right.

ACT: At the CD, it appears you spend a lot of time defending the U.S. record on nuclear disarmament. Do you think the rest of the world is dissatisfied with the pace of U.S. and Russian progress in reducing their arsenals? And do you feel their dissatisfaction is warranted?

Grey: I think that one of the things we have done here is to try to make the record of what we have accomplished clearer, because this is a little bit like an ivory tower, if you will, in terms of what is really going on. So we have had a senior official from the Defense Department come over and brief on what we have been accomplishing both in NATO and in our bilaterals with the Russians. We have some Department of Energy and Department of State officials come over from time to time discussing the nuclear disposal program and the various ongoing programs the Department of Energy has with the Russians, because these people in the CD need to know what's happening. It's not that we are defending the record; it's that we are trying to make them aware that there is a record and there are things actually happening while they sit around on their duffs over here and do nothing.

ACT: In the final document of the 2000 NPT review conference, the nuclear-weapon states agreed to an "unequivocal undertaking" to accomplish "total elimination" of their arsenals. How will this pledge impact the work of the conference?

Grey: It certainly was warmly received by a number of countries, including the so-called New Agenda Coalition [Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and Sweden]. For the first time this year, we were also able to support their resolution on disarmament in the UN General Assembly. That is a considerable step forward, I think, and it reflected the fact that their resolution was largely based on wording adopted by the NPT review conference.

ACT: Why didn't the success of the NPT review conference have an immediate impact on or carry over to the Conference on Disarmament this year?

Grey: I think that's very simple. The question of the ABM [Anti-Ballistic Missile] Treaty and missile defense was not an issue at the NPT review conference because the NPT does not deal with that. It is an issue at the CD because the Chinese have made it an issue. There is something in play here that was not in play at the NPT review conference.

ACT: Do you think the Chinese have a legitimate right to raise the question of the ABM Treaty at the Conference on Disarmament, or do you think because it is a bilateral treaty that they should not be able to do so?

Grey: Well, you know this is a place that operates on unanimity. Clearly, making linkages between subject A and subject B, whatever they are, is not helpful in the context of the conference's work. The ABM Treaty is a bilateral treaty; our position is that we can work this out with the Russians, we don't need any help. Making linkages at the CD is not going to move the process forward.

Traditionally, we used to decide issues on their own individual merits, not on whether someone thinks that something else should be in play at the same time. The latter is an absolutely splendid way to guarantee gridlock. I think we should negotiate on the merit of each individual proposal. If you look at the merits, everybody agrees we should be negotiating an FMCT.

ACT: What are the chances for starting any negotiations or for passing a work program while the United States is pursuing an NMD system? Will this be a continuing roadblock to work at the conference?

Grey: Well, I can say that, out of the 66 conference members, 63 of them are prepared to go ahead on the basis of the proposal I described, which has been put out by successive presidents; three are not. The conference works by unanimity. Are these three countries going to change their minds any time soon? I can't predict that.

ACT: What impact, if any, do you feel the Senate's October 1999 rejection of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty [CTBT] had on the conference?

Grey: Surprisingly little. I say that because I thought it would have. But the way the executive branch reacted to the Senate's rejection of the CTBT—its strong statements that it is continuing to work on it, the fact that it has been working the issue, and the fact that U.S. representatives continued to show a firm commitment to the CTBT in international bodies—convinced other countries that the United States is serious and sincere. People were disappointed, but they understood what happened and are convinced that over time this is going to change. Fortunately, at least in the Senate, it looks like we are going to have a better environment for some of these issues in the future than we've had in the past.

ACT: What if the next administration is not as active in supporting the CTBT?

Grey: If the position of the executive branch changed in a way that weakened U.S. support for the CTBT, it would obviously have a negative impact on all sorts of arms control.

ACT: The international community seems to be increasing its attention on the issue of small arms. Do you think the CD will eventually play a role on this issue or negotiate a treaty on small arms?

Grey: There is certainly an interest in looking at small arms, but I do not think there is any clear view that it ultimately should be something that is negotiated in the CD. This is not a subject we have spent a lot of time on here, but it seems to me that there are a number of people who are less than enthusiastic about doing it in the CD, most notably the Chinese. There also seems to be a tendency on the part of some that maybe you should deal with small arms at a regional level first and see what needs to be worked out later at the international level.

ACT: Wouldn't the CD, though, as the only multilateral forum for disarmament, be the ideal place for such a treaty to be negotiated?

Grey: It depends on how you decide to deal with the problem. If you decide to deal with it through regional regimes like nuclear-weapon-free zones, that is one way you can do it. The other alternative would be to do it as an international regime. But I don't think people have gotten far enough along in their analyses, studies, and discussions to come down firmly one way or another. There are many ways you can skin this particular cat.

ACT: What impact do you think the expanding lead of the United States in advanced conventional weaponry, precision-guided munitions, electronic warfare, unmanned aerial vehicles, and so forth has on the future of arms control, non-proliferation, and disarmament in general? How are other countries going to perceive and react to our growing lead in advanced conventional weapon technologies?

Grey: That's a complicated question. One of the concerns people have—and I think it's a real concern—is that conventional capabilities are expanding at a staggering rate. This was clear from the outcome in Kosovo and from the fact that this intervention went on without NATO sustaining any casualties. There is an indirect link to missile defense and other questions related to nuclear weapons—at least in the sense that countries may have to reflect whether they can manage two major efforts at the same time. If I try to think about the situation from China's perspective, perhaps the Chinese are wondering whether they can afford all this and can actually bring it off. Another question is whether European countries could work out an appropriate approach to missile defense while they are also developing a conventional army that really is ready to intervene in trouble spots. The Europeans have striking needs in regard to conventional weapons; just look at the astronomical cost of this stuff. Can they meet all these challenges at once?

One possible reaction is to try to outlaw potential weapons or techniques before they've even been invented or at least before they've been adapted for military purposes. For example, the Russians have been pursuing a First Committee initiative on information technology, and their underlying goal seems to be some kind of pledge not to interfere with each others' computers or other facilities involved in the flow of information. In other words, let's outlaw something before we figure out what it is. But outlawing certain kinds of computers or computer techniques is like trying to outlaw telephones. Like telephones, computers have many different functions, and the ways they are used and operated keep changing before our eyes.

Given the complex uncertainties that relate to various defense needs, plus the large amounts of money that may be involved, people come out of the woodwork and say, "Well, let's have a deal not to invent anything." It isn't going to work.

ACT: You mentioned Kosovo again. How much of the Chinese position or advocacy of negotiations on outer space reflects not only their concern about national missile defense, but also their concern about the ability to gather information and how this is used by the United States to operate with superiority in the conventional warfare arena?

Grey: Let me turn it around and say that the Chinese are concerned because one, NATO is expanding to the east and two, because the Kosovo intervention took place without what they thought was the proper authorization of the UN Security Council. If you take those two elements together, plus the fact that the United States has a huge lead in advanced technological capabilities related to a wide range of weapons systems, they believe they have cause for serious concern. They are not worried about Kosovo per se; they are worried about the possibility that the United States might wish to intervene in an area they consider much more important to their security than Kosovo.

ACT: Such as Taiwan?

Grey: Well, or Tibet or whatever. That's what they are afraid of. They thought their seat on the Security Council immunized them from any involvement in their domestic affairs. In a world that's seen the Nuremberg trials and a few other things, the fact of the matter is the world community does take an interest in things that occur in your backyard or in what you say is your backyard. And that's the reality they haven't quite adjusted to.

ACT: Do you think they are using the CD and outer space as another means to guard against possible intervention in their sovereignty?

Grey: They are against "hegemony."

ACT: Do you think the deadlock in the CD reflects a declining interest in arms control and disarmament in general, or is it just because of the specific issues that have arisen at this time?

Grey: I don't think it reflects a declining interest. I think it reflects a frustration with what you described correctly as a technologically expanding, highly innovative international environment where people get concerned about their ability to keep up.

ACT: Are you still optimistic about the future work at the conference?

Grey: Much less optimistic now than I was two years ago.

ACT: So you don't see any quick conclusion or compromise that will help us get around this issue of outer space?

Grey: I don't see anything further the United States can or should do. We have made some significant concessions already. We've agreed to set up an ad hoc committee to discuss outer space in the CD. That is very significant. We have agreed to set up an ad hoc committee to discuss nuclear disarmament in the CD. That is pretty substantial. I don't see us making any new moves.

The reality is that we are going to have a new administration. When the dust settles, there will be a settling-in period that will be somewhat more hectic than most. I would expect the Russians and the Chinese and others will wait and see how a new administration settles in and what initiatives it is prepared to take in the national security area and with regard to arms control. Other countries are also going to assess where the new administration is coming from and what its objectives are, before they decide to play or not in the CD and elsewhere.

ACT: So we shouldn't expect any quick progress next year at the CD?

Grey: I wouldn't expect any white smoke coming out of the chimney for a while, no.

ACT: What do you think must take place for the CD to be productive next year?

Grey: The Chinese have to change their minds.

ACT: Will it only be the Chinese, or do you think the Russians and the Pakistanis would then step forward and say, "No you are not going to hold any negotiations unless you agree to outer space negotiations?"

Grey: I think if the Chinese change their minds it changes the atmosphere. They created the problem; they have to solve it.

Interviewed by Wade Boese

Anticipating Inspections: UNMOVIC Readies Itself for Iraq

 

In January, Hans Blix was appointed executive chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), an inspectorate established to replace the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) and assume its task of verifying that Iraq was disarmed of all weapons of mass destruction and missiles with a range exceeding 150 kilometers.

Following UNSCOM's withdrawal from Iraq in December 1998 and amid increasing pressure to ease the sanctions that had been in place since the end of the Persian Gulf War, the UN Security Council heatedly debated how to address Baghdad's continuing noncompliance with its disarmament obligations, originally laid out in Resolution 687. In March 1999, a UN panel headed by Brazilian Ambassador Celso Amorim released a report concluding that while the bulk of Iraq's weapons programs had been dismantled by UNSCOM, a "reinforced, ongoing monitoring and verification" system was needed.

In December 1999, Security Council Resolution 1284 set up UNMOVIC and charged it with monitoring Iraq's weapons programs and identifying any "key remaining disarmament tasks." It stipulated that once Baghdad had "cooperated in all respects," sanctions would be suspended. The resolution also created the College of Commissioners, a group of diplomats and disarmament experts charged with providing "professional advice and guidance" to the executive chairman.

UNMOVIC began operation in March. To date, it has submitted an organizational plan to the Security Council, which was approved, and has met once with the College of Commissioners. The first training session for UNMOVIC staff is set to begin in New York in July, but Iraq has so far given no sign that it will allow inspectors into the country.

Born in Uppsala, Sweden, Blix pursued a distinguished career in the Swedish foreign service, culminating in his appointment as minister of foreign affairs in 1978. In 1981, he assumed the post of director-general at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), where he served until 1997. Under Blix's leadership, the IAEA, working with UNSCOM, played a crucial role in dismantling and monitoring Iraq's nuclear weapons program after the Persian Gulf War.

On June 12, Arms Control Today Editor J. Peter Scoblic and Research Analyst Matthew Rice met with Blix at UN headquarters in New York to discuss UNMOVIC's mandate, its preparations for inspections, and the prospects for beginning work in Iraq. The following is an edited version of their conversation.

 

ACT: Former UNSCOM executive chairmen Richard Butler and Rolf Ekeus have expressed concern as to what could have happened since inspectors left Iraq in December 1998. On the other hand, former UNSCOM inspector Scott Ritter has said that 18 months is too short a time to rebuild programs that took 20 years to set up. What could Iraq have done in this time? How worried should the international community be?

Blix: Well, I do not have any preconceived notions as to what Iraq could have done. But if I take the nuclear area, which I know best, there is no way that they could have built up an enrichment capacity in that period. Of course, it is possible that they could try to buy a nuclear weapon, but the Iraqi path in the past was one of going after enrichment, and that requires a considerable infrastructure that would be seen from satellites. We have no indications of that happening.

An area in which Iraq could have conceivably done more would be the missile program because they are permitted missiles with a range of 150 kilometers and under; so factories producing them are also permissible. A number of missile factories were apparently hit in December 1998 during the airstrikes by U.S. and British forces, but there are reports that they have been rebuilt since then. Now, what has taken place inside, under those roofs, that is not seen by the satellites. I would have to rely upon the people that know much more about missiles to make a determination, but prima facie, missiles would be an area in which Iraq could have done something. It is certainly an area that will require monitoring in the future.

Concerning chemical and biological weapons, I think that is something the weapons experts will have to determine, and we will have a lot of quite competent experts.

ACT: Are you receiving any information on the current status of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs?

Blix: We should try to learn as much as possible, even without having inspections on the ground. Therefore, we have expressed gratitude to the United States for continuing to show us overhead pictures from satellites. That goes on. And of course, we are grazing the fertile ground of the media and collecting what comes from there.

We have no intelligence data, and I don't want to have any until we have our own intelligence expert on board. I've had some contact with national intelligence agencies and have had some discussions, but there has been nothing significant in this regard. What we are also focusing on is for our current staff to work on the substantial dossiers and inspection reports that we already have here. There is a lot to analyze. Clearly, however, work is not at full speed.

ACT: Is there any indication that Iraq is trying to rearm?

Blix: No, I don't think you can say that. Sometimes there are reports in the media from intelligence organizations that they are watching the procurement efforts here and there, but we have nothing to substantiate that.

ACT: Once they are in Iraq, what will be the first task for the UNMOVIC inspectors?

Blix: The first inspections will have to establish new baselines. The weapons-related facilities and weapons-capable facilities have stood there one-and-a-half years now. UNSCOM inspectors had knowledge of what they looked like in December 1998, and UNMOVIC will now go in and see if there have been any changes and, if so, what those changes suggest.

After that, we will develop a work program. Resolution 1284 demands that we come up with a work program to deal with the key outstanding disarmament issues 60 days after we have started work in Iraq. Indeed, the College of Commissioners made the point that UNMOVIC cannot very well come up with a full work program telling the Security Council what it intends to do before it has established new baselines. We need to see that rebaselining. So, work in Iraq cannot mean the moment when you send in the first inspector.

ACT: If the situation in Iraq now were the same as in December 1998, what tasks would remain in order for Iraq to be disarmed? What are the key disarmament tasks that Resolution 1284 asks you to define?

Blix: We don't know yet which particular disarmament points remain to be cleared up. It is generally believed that the biological-weapons sector has the largest number of question marks. Among the others, missiles is the most advanced in terms of being cleared up, and the nuclear is considered to have the fewest question marks. But it will be a sensitive task for us to zero in and say what the important key disarmament tasks are, as we must do under 1284.

We will also use another broader concept contained in Resolution 1284: "unresolved disarmament issues." I have already asked the current staff here what they see as unresolved disarmament issues. It is not the first time this has been done. The Amorim report listed a number of things in a condensed chapter and, in early 1999, Richard Butler issued a large report setting out what UNSCOM had achieved and what remained.

However, I do not think that I will have a final paper on the unresolved disarmament issues until the new staff is on board because the Security Council wants us to look at the issue with fresh minds. I value the experience that is here, but I also want to have new people take a look at what remains to be done. The new staff will define what they consider to be the unresolved issues. Out of those, there will be a distillation process to pick out those that are important—the key disarmament tasks. As to which issues those will be, I have no preconceived ideas.

I am sure that Iraq will be very interested to know where we are going on this matter even before they invite inspections, but as the resolution is written, they cannot. They certainly cannot have the final list. Because the report has to go to the Security Council for approval, what we say could theoretically be modified by the council. But I would imagine that our professional judgment will carry some weight with the council. At least I hope so.

ACT: The unresolved questions that are not deemed key disarmament tasks, will they fall off the work program?

Blix: No, I don't think so. Resolution 687 and its mandate of complete WMD disarmament remain in effect. But all the unresolved questions will not be relevant for the council's determination as to whether they should suspend the economic restrictions, because that only requires testimony from us about "cooperation" and "progress" on key disarmament duties.

If I take an example from the IAEA, which I still know better than the UNMOVIC area, there was a question of whether there was some foreign input into Iraq's design of a weapon. That question, I think, was never cleared up, and it was an outstanding issue for a long time. Now, you can discuss—and I'm not taking a stand on it—whether it was important to know who this foreign entity was even if you have come to the conclusion that Iraq has no nuclear infrastructure, no nuclear capacity, et cetera. Does the question of who helped them still remain a key disarmament issue? You could say that the "full, final and complete disclosure" demand of Resolution 707 is not satisfied if such an issue is still unresolved. But is it a key disarmament issue? I don't know. So, I think that's going to be an illustration of where judgment will have to be exercised.

ACT: Have former UNSCOM professionals applied for positions in UNMOVIC?

Blix: By far, the majority—two-thirds, probably more—have left. After the Baghdad operation collapsed at the end of 1998, most people left. So, a relatively small group remains here. I have said that there will be no automatic transfer of UNSCOM staff to UNMOVIC. They will have to indicate an interest to stay, and then I will have to compare their credentials with those who apply from the outside. Clearly, having been here and being knowledgeable on Iraq's weapons programs is an important factor. But it is not the only one. Some people in some governments have taken the view that we should have fresh minds all over the place, that there should be a clean slate. I have said no, there should be both innovation and institutional memory. This is what we are getting. Overall there will be a good many more people from the outside than those who remain from UNSCOM. One should remember that most of UNSCOM left earlier.

ACT: Does the fact that there could be a long wait before work begins in Iraq make recruitment any more difficult?

Blix: I haven't seen any one candidate so far in New York who has seemed worried about that. If they are sitting here for six months, then maybe it could become a problem. But that is not my hypothesis.

ACT: You have said that you intend to make full use of short-notice inspections without harassing or coercing Iraq. What did you mean by that?

Blix: We do not intend to provoke, to harass, or to humiliate Iraq with our inspections. The word "intend" is important, because I am not leaving it to Iraq to say that we cannot do something because of how they feel about it. It is UNMOVIC that will judge whether an action is provocative or humiliating in the judgment of a reasonable person. And I think I am a reasonable person.

Another adjective I will use is "correct." We don't want to have cozy relations with Iraq. We are an inspectorate, and we have the task given to us by the Security Council to solve the key disarmament questions, in addition to monitoring. This we shall do. In doing so, I would like the organization to be knowledgeable and correct.

I think we will need institutional memories. It will delay things if we were to have an all together new staff, but I want those who go in to display correct UN conduct. I'm not saying anything about the past. I am just saying that for the future, I want effective and correct inspections.

ACT: Concerning the espionage issue, you have placed a premium on maintaining what you have described as a "one-way street" of the flow of intelligence to UNMOVIC. What will you do differently than UNSCOM?

Blix: Well, I am not sure that I can tell you. I'm not exactly sure what UNSCOM did. I am following the pattern that I established myself at the IAEA. Of course, I read many allegations about what went on with UNSCOM, but I have not undertaken any investigation of UNSCOM's practices, and I don't think that I need to. I have the impression that there were many inlets for intelligence and that there were different groups handling what came in.

In our organizational diagram, which UNSCOM did not have, intelligence falls under "outside information sources." That covers both media, anything open, and other outside sources that are not so open. I will try to be firm about keeping intelligence in this area.

I have publicly taken the view that intelligence is valuable. Defectors do not come knocking at UNMOVIC headquarters. They go to governments, and it is valuable to have much of that. It can give you ideas as to where it might be useful to go or about questions that you should ask. But we also know that there is almost as much disinformation around the world as there is valid information, and I would like to have a professional in this area who would be able to assess with a critical eye what is coming in. He may have to have assistance from someone on the biological or chemical side to assess the veracity of something, but we have to be able to give assurances to those who supply us with intelligence that this is the only person who gets it, and that the providers have to decide how much further it will go. I have reserved the right to see it myself, and this person who is in charge of outside information sources should also see it all.

If we want to make use of intelligence for an inspection or for questions during an inspection, then I think the supplier should judge if such use is permissible or if it will jeopardize their source. In part, this is in order to keep the confidence of providers that their information is not going to float around freely. We are being very firm that it stays here. The providers will have to give their permission for any further dissemination. I practiced this in the IAEA, and it worked. We had intelligence from various sources. I don't think where the intelligence comes from really matters—it is the critical examination to which it is subjected that counts.

Another important point is that we are not in the intelligence-trading business. We are not an intelligence organization. We are not giving anything to suppliers in return. We are not an espionage organization, whatever Iraq has said. Now, it is conceivable, of course, that some UNSCOM staff were in double emploi, that they had two positions. That is unacceptable. All I can say is that if I find individuals working for other agencies, I will throw them out, and I think they will understand why.

However, I must also be clear that in order for us to get information that is relevant, it may well be that we will have to describe to intelligence providers what we are interested in. It is not that we are mute and governments come and offer us information. It is not that extreme.

There is an important difference between UNMOVIC and the IAEA in that the IAEA safeguards agreements specify that information that countries give shall be confidential. UNMOVIC doesn't have safeguards agreements with Iraq; we go to the Security Council and report to its members. Nevertheless, our mandate is to look for weapons of mass destruction. It is not to look for where Saddam Hussein is or where Iraq's anti-aircraft artillery is, et cetera. We should not do anything that is outside the parameters of our mandate.

ACT: What does "cooperation" mean in terms of Resolution 1284?

Blix: This may be an issue that we need to discuss with the College of Commissioners because Resolution 1284 simply says that the Security Council shall suspend economic restrictions provided that Iraq has cooperated in all respects for 120 days, and one part of that cooperation is progress with respect to the key disarmament issues. Whether UNMOVIC's judgment on such progress is the final word is a matter still for discussion.

Under Resolution 687, it is true that there was a difference between my view when I headed the IAEA and that taken by UNSCOM. I took the view, interpreting paragraph 22 of Resolution 687, that our determination on Iraq's disarmament did not automatically translate into a lifting of the sanctions, whereas the tendency in UNSCOM was to say that its determination was decisive. I was skeptical of such an attitude. It is for the Security Council to make the determination as to whether Iraq has complied with its obligations.

There will always be a residue of uncertainty, and that was a concept that eventually was accepted by the Amorim report and by the Security Council and I think by most people. There may be computer programs, engineers, scientists, and maybe even a prototype centrifuge lying around. You can never guarantee that such things do not exist. We tell the members of the council how far we have come, and it is then for them to decide whether that satisfies the resolution's articles about neutralizing Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Because there will always be that residue of uncertainty concerning Iraq's WMD programs, I do not think it is fair, nor was it supported by the resolution, for the IAEA or for UNSCOM to determine what level of uncertainty should be tolerated. That is for the Security Council to do. I think I am inclined to feel the same way about UNMOVIC, but there I would like to defer until there has been some discussion, because these are matters that could very well be politically sensitive.

ACT: Along those lines, Scott Ritter recently argued that UNSCOM's perceived need to account for all WMD material was partially responsible for its downfall. (See ACT, June 2000.) Are you saying that you are going to move away from that—to not needing to account for every last scrap of material and documentation?

Blix: As I said, it is for the Security Council to determine how much uncertainty they will tolerate. I often draw a comparison between Iraq and South Africa. The IAEA was in South Africa and asked to verify that they had done away with their nuclear weapons. We came in and the South Africans said, "Here is a bunch of documents. And we think they are relevant to you. If you want any other documents, just tell us, and we will give them to you. And here are the sites that we think you should visit, and if you want to go to any other sites, military or whatever, just tell us and we will take you there."

That was, of course, evidence of an attitude of cooperation. They saw inspection as an opportunity to demonstrate and convince the world that they had nothing. I am trying to suggest to Iraq: "You say that you have nothing. Here is an opportunity. Convince us by what you do, and convince us by what you give us that there is nothing left. You do not have credibility." If we are firm, we have credibility. If we are cosmetic, we too have no credibility. So, we will say if we think Iraq has cooperated. But the ultimate judge, I am inclined to think, is the Security Council.

And, of course, I still maintain that we will never come to the last nut and bolt, and I think that is accepted now. But how many missing nuts and bolts are acceptable will be determined by the Security Council. We will describe in as accurate terms as we can what we have done, where we are, and then leave final judgment to the council.

ACT: How would you describe UNMOVIC's relationship with the secretary-general and the Security Council?

Blix: In formal terms, of course, the reports of UNMOVIC are channeled to the Security Council through the secretary-general. He submits them. He can add something. In doing so, he can put his gloss on it if he likes, which was the same with UNSCOM. In addition, I trust that I can continue to look to the secretary-general for advice and discussion. I don't formally have to do that. We have a mandate of our own. However, I personally appreciate [UN Secretary-General] Kofi Annan's judgment very much, and I have an excellent relationship with him. Jayantha Dhanapala [UN undersecretary-general for disarmament affairs] and I are also old colleagues, and I appreciate his judgment too. So, I look on these relationships in practical terms more than in formal terms.

UNMOVIC is a subordinate organ of the Security Council. Therefore, all of our allegiance is to the council; we take our instructions from it. Resolution 1284 is the absolute guideline for me, and nothing else. If any one member of the Security Council wants me to do something other than what is called for in Resolution 1284, I would say that I am not obliged to do so. At the same time, I think there is a clear attitude in the council that they do not want us to come running to them for help and instruction all the time. They have other things to do. I also think that we should have informal contacts with the president of the Security Council. So far, I have met with every monthly president of the Security Council, so we have a channel in that direction. What our relationship with the council will be like if the situation with Iraq gets hot, I don't know.

ACT: Does the Security Council have the political will to push this issue with Iraq, to get UNMOVIC into the country?

Blix: It is more a question that there are different wills in the council. My overall impression has been that when the Security Council stands united, the power and influence it has is considerable, but where they have divided views, even though they might only be expressed in abstentions, the influence is much more limited. This leads me to the conclusion that UNMOVIC should act in such a way as, at the very least, to avoid widening the differing views that exist there and, if possible, to help them converge.

Once again, I refer to Resolution 1284 for absolute guidance. That is a valid resolution. It was accepted—though weakened somewhat by the four abstentions—and we can see how some of the reservations of those who abstained continue to guide their attitudes. The resolution would have been stronger if there had been unanimity. On the other hand, it is still a valid resolution, and it is binding not only on Iraq, but on all of the members of the Security Council as well. So that is what we have to go by.

But for us, there is a great advantage if the members of the Security Council are agreed. I think that the College of Commissioners may be able to help because it has individuals from the permanent five members of the Security Council and other professionals, and it will permit a freer discussion then you can have in the Security Council.

ACT: Describe your interactions with the Russians, French, and Chinese over the past few months. Are they accepting Resolution 1284 as valid, and are you receiving their full support?

Blix: I have no doubt that on two principal points they are united and there is no dissent in the Security Council. One is the wish that Iraq retain no weapons of mass destruction and that it not revive any WMD programs. The other is a view that UNMOVIC shall have all of the rights of inspection that the prior organizations had—that is, immediate, unrestricted, and unconditional access. I don't think they waver on that.

But there are clearly other differences among them on Iraq policy, some not relating to Resolution 1284. There is the view among some that the current bombing [in the no-fly zones] is not sanctioned by the Security Council and should not take place. There is the view of some that the no-fly zones do not have a basis in Security Council resolutions and should not exist. Council members have not yet defined what kind of financial control regime they should have once they determine to suspend the economic restrictions; so there are unresolved matters relating to the full implementation of the resolution.

Resolution 1284 resolved a number of things, but not all, and we should try, if possible, to reduce the number of differences rather than exacerbate them. So far, we have done reasonably well. The organizational plan was successfully approved by the Security Council, with some reservations by the Russians. Nevertheless, they accepted that the plan was in line with the resolution. At this point, the Russians have said that they do not want to pass any judgment until they have seen how UNMOVIC develops and implements the plan. They will hold their card until they have seen that. And there were somewhat softer but similar attitudes by a few of the others.

The Russians also had some reservations because they wanted to have a special group dealing with potential frictions with Iraq, a group of political advisers within UNMOVIC. I have not included such a group in the organizational structure. I have said that I will have a group of senior advisers and that it will include staff that know something about the positions of Washington, Moscow, Beijing, and other places. I will listen to them, but if they are not agreed, clearly I will have to fall back on my own judgment. UNMOVIC is not operating by voting. The same applies to the College of Commissioners. If they seek and come out with some consensus and thereby facilitate consensus in the Security Council, that is fine. But there is no guarantee that they can do this. In the end, I have to do what the resolution puts me in this position to do.

So, there were some reservations over the organizational plan. Some would say that the organizational plan was the design of the ship and that now we are recruiting the sailors and developing the navigational charts. We are now in the process of hiring the crew, and the resolution talks about broad geographical recruitment, and so it shall be. It will be very broad. Of course, there are a number of areas of the world that do not have expertise in weapons of mass destruction, notably Africa. It will be much more difficult to find people from there. But there will be a broad geographical recruitment. The Security Council knows pretty well who the senior officials will be, and I have had no criticism of that. UNMOVIC's top echelon has been accepted, and I hope that we can continue with that and get a crew with good credentials and good geographic representation.

The third step will be defining the operational rules—how we will go about the inspections. We are in the beginning of that process, and we had early input from the College of Commissioners. I hope that in the summer we can go further, and that at the next meeting of the college, which will be in August, we will be able to define that even more and get their advice. Sometime later, we will see if Iraq is favorable at all.

ACT: Let's talk about that for a minute. Iraq has given no indication that they intend to cooperate. Have you seen anything different? Do you expect them to cooperate?

Blix: No, I have not seen anything different, and yes, I expect them to cooperate.

ACT: How does one move them from their present position to one that allows you and your inspectors to begin work?

Blix: I think the Iraqis should move themselves. I think that the most important thing for them is to study and assess what is in Resolution 1284 for them. Resolution 687 is still there, which speaks about lifting sanctions when there has been neutralization of all WMD and ongoing monitoring is in place. Resolution 1284 is an additional path for them to follow. Here, the criteria are different. They can have a suspension of the economic restrictions provided that there is cooperation and resolution of some key disarmament issues. I guess that they are assessing how valuable it would be for them to have a suspension of the restrictions, and exactly what suspension means. I cannot tell them; it is for members of the Security Council to decide, and I am sure that they have had preliminary discussions about that already.

Although Iraq is now rejecting Resolution 1284 and the commission, I am sure they are watching what the architecture of it is. I am sure they are watching to see whether UNMOVIC will be a true international body or if it will be a group of seconded state representatives, which is how they tended to regard UNSCOM. And they are probably interested to see how we will define the inspection procedures. Lastly, they will be interested in what things we consider unresolved disarmament issues and key disarmament tasks.

I think this will take some time. People ask me sometimes if I am trying to initiate any contact with Iraq. The answer is no. My door is open to all ambassadors, including the Iraqis, but why should they make contact at a time when their position is that the commission is irrelevant and they reject Resolution 1284? Discussion with me would not be consistent with that position.

ACT: Iraq has flat-out refused to cooperate, but you seem to be suggesting that Baghdad is considering the ramifications and potential benefits of Resolution 1284. Do you think that their public refusal is simply a ploy and that they are seriously weighing their options and considering cooperation?

Blix: No, I think they probably say to the world what they mean—that they would like to see a termination of the bombing, that they would like to see a termination of the no-fly zones, and that they would like to see a termination of the sanctions. That is their bid to the Security Council. They also seem to say that they could accept some inspections should these things happen. That is their position. What their position will be in two or four months time, I don't know. I am the servant of the Security Council. If the council assumes that UNMOVIC will go in, then who am I to depart from that assessment? I was hired on the assumption that Iraq will allow inspectors into the country, and therefore I assume that myself.

I may add that in my personal view it would be in Iraq's interest to accept 1284. I am sure that they are looking around the horizon. They have one very firm view now, but the waters under this ship will be moving, not standing still.

ACT: You are optimistic. Do you have any sort of time frame?

Blix: We have a time frame. We are moving as fast as we can to do what the Security Council has instructed us to do with the organization, the recruitment, the training, et cetera. We could not possibly do any inspections until the end of August. Toward the end of autumn, we will be up and running, as they say. I hope by that time the government of Iraq will have warmed to the idea that this commission is one with which they are ready to cooperate and they will have found that the economic restrictions will not be lifted except in fulfillment of Resolution 1284.

ACT: Do you think there is any flexibility in the Security Council about amending the sanctions sections of Resolution 1284 to induce Iraqi cooperation?

Blix: I don't see any indication in that direction. I think every comma will remain.

ACT: Do you think you can demonstrate, in the process of assembling and training the UNMOVIC team, that UNMOVIC will be a different organization from UNSCOM and thereby gain the further support of the Security Council and the cooperation of Iraq? Or will that not be apparent until your inspectors begin work in Iraq?

Blix: Well, it's not just organization and recruitment and training. It's also the other two elements we have talked about: the definition of our inspection procedures and of the remaining outstanding disarmament issues. I don't know whether those elements will be enough. I think these are part of what Iraq is going to look at. But I think that Iraq is perhaps even more interested in the paragraphs about suspension of sanctions and the financial provisions, as well as the bombing. They will look at all these things, and then we'll see.

I think it is important that they know in advance what inspection procedures we will want to follow. I don't think that there is any room for negotiation about that because the procedures are laid down by the Security Council. Those are the parameters under which we operate—neither expanding them nor reducing them. We do not expand them to cover anything but the weapons of mass destruction. We are not looking at their anti-aircraft artillery; we are looking for missiles.

But nor are we entitled to reduce and surrender anything that the Security Council has laid down. I've been saying that it is the Security Council's role to implement the resolution, and we are a part of that. It is not my task to persuade the Iraqis in any sense. It is my personal view that it would be advantageous for them, but I have not been asked by the Security Council to sell the resolution, nor am I entitled to give any discount on it. That leaves very little wiggle room to meet them. We will have to tell them how we intend to go about the inspections. The more that they know about that in advance, the better. It might encourage cooperation if they can say, "Well, fair enough, we know what you intend to do." I think that will hopefully be a way to reduce potential frictions.

But clearly, on some minor points, Iraq can suggest that it might be more practical to do something this way or another way—where the Iraqi escorts meet you in Baghdad, what time do you give them a telephone call, et cetera. There are minor points within what the Security Council has laid down, but I do not foresee myself sitting in long discussions with Iraq about how inspections are to be run. The Security Council has laid down our responsibility, and I feel no freedom to deviate from that. And I hope the Iraqis do not feel that I have that freedom.

ACT: The Iraqis have said that the burden of proof is on the international community to demonstrate that Iraq still has weapons of mass destruction. How do you respond?

Blix: This reasoning is misplaced. The argument comes from criminal procedure, where the prosecutor has to prove the guilt of the accused, and if the prosecutor doesn't do that, then there is a presumption of not guilty. However, we are not interested in that here. We are in a situation where the world wants to have confidence that Iraq does not retain or rebuild the capacity for weapons of mass destruction. You do not build confidence by presumptions. You build it by demonstrating cooperation.

It is true that the IAEA, UNMOVIC, and Iraq cannot prove the absence of the smallest pieces of things. But it is less difficult for Iraq, who sits on all of the documentation and all of the personnel, to come up and demonstrate something than it is for UNMOVIC or the IAEA to do so. Therefore, I think it is legitimate to ask them that they do that. And if, unlike in the case of South Africa, you get to a site in Iraq and you see them running out of the site with briefcases of documents, that is not likely to lead to increased confidence.

Iraq cannot prove—no one can prove—that a big country is free of everything that could be relevant. I would agree that this is not feasible. But the name of the game is to re-establish confidence. To do that, Iraq needs to do precisely what Resolution 1284 mandates: namely, cooperate.

Anticipating Inspections: UNMOVIC Readies Itself for Iraq

Prospects for Progress: an Interview with Ambassador Tibor Toth

Ambassodor Tibor Tóth, Hungary's Permanent representative to the UN office in Vienna since 1997, is chairman of a negotiating body known as the Ad Hoc Group, which has met in Geneva since 1995 to draft measures to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). The BWC, which entered into force in 1975, outlaws biological weapons and their means of delivery but contains no formal verification mechanisms.

The Ad Hoc Group, mandated by a special conference of states-parties chaired by Tóth in 1994 to improve the convention's effectiveness, has been developing a legally binding protocol to the BWC. Since the summer of 1997, the group has based its negotiations on a rolling text of the draft protocol. The rolling text relies on a tiered system of declarations, visits, and investigations to ensure compliance with the BWC and envisages a regime that offers significant benefits to states-parties in terms of scientific and technical cooperation.

A number of key issues in the negotiations remain unresolved, such as how the protocol should deal with the transfer of biological agents and dual-use equipment and whether the protocol will leave room for existing export control groups, such as the Australia Group. Other points of dispute include the role and scope of visits, exactly which types of facilities should submit declarations, what procedures will be required to launch an investigation, and what terms in the protocol need defining. (See text box, and news story.)

Ambassador Tóth has been chairman of the Ad Hoc Group since its inception, before which he chaired the ad hoc group of governmental experts on verification measures for the BWC. Tóth joined the Hungarian Foreign Ministry in 1977 and served as ambassador at large for non-proliferation from 1996 to 1997 and as deputy state secretary of defense in charge of international matters from 1994 to 1996. He has also headed Hungary's delegations to the UN Conference on Disarmament and the UN General Assembly First Committee.

Seth Brugger, managing editor of Arms Control Today, met with Ambassador Tóth at the United Nations in New York March 24 to discuss the Ad Hoc Group's activities and prospects for progress.

The following is an edited version of their conversation.

ACT: The Ad Hoc Group has been meeting for over five years. Could you describe what the group is trying to accomplish and whether it has been successful in meeting its goals?

Tóth: The group was mandated by the 1994 special conference of states-parties to develop measures to promote compliance with the Biological Weapons Convention. The group's mandate clearly identified areas in which the group should invest its time and energy. As a result, what is emerging after the more than 50 weeks of negotiations since the special conference are measures intended to strengthen compliance with the Biological Weapons Convention and to enhance its implementation-measures such as declarations of biodefense and industry facilities, visits to those facilities, possible investigations, and cooperative arrangements, all of them underpinned by confidentiality, organizational, and other auxiliary provisions.

ACT: Do you feel the group has been successful in meeting its mandate?

Tóth: The group has gone through different stages since January 1995. Between January 1995 and July 1997, it identified the main building blocks for the future draft protocol to the BWC. In July 1997, the first version of the so-called draft rolling text emerged. Between July 1997 and October-November 1998, the group fleshed out that text. To give you an idea, the volume of the draft rolling text multiplied four to five times in that time, and there was a very significant increase in the number of brackets, which indicate controversial issues. So, a peak was reached in October-November 1998 with 3,200 brackets in the rolling text, which meant about 10 brackets per page.

Between January 1999 and January 2000, another phase occurred in which more than 50 percent of the brackets were removed. By the end of the first session in 2000, there were less than five brackets per page, on average, in the rolling text. In the March 2000 session, which is the second session of this year, we saw a slowdown in the clean-up process, which is, in my judgment, a natural part of the negotiating process. This indicates that we will have to add new efforts and new techniques to remove the remainder of the brackets with more formal work, more investment in exploring possible compromises, and probably a more comprehensive set of proposals as well.

ACT: The rolling text is, as you've indicated, pretty far along now. What areas have been largely agreed upon?

Tóth: Roughly speaking, I would say that we have three categories of maturity in the rolling text. First, you will find areas in the rolling text where the number of brackets is insignificant, areas such as confidentiality, national implementation, assistance, legal elements, and organization. On these issues, there is very little room to negotiate because further negotiations might do more harm than good. They might not lead to the removal of the few remaining brackets, but just bring in controversial text to areas that are otherwise clean.

We have other areas where the text is consolidated and difficulties are not so controversial. These areas are the preamble, to a certain degree; general provisions; and the lists of agents and equipment. I would venture to say that even the so-called promotional aspects of scientific and technical cooperation measures are in relatively good status. I should also include investigations in this second category, with the exception of very specific aspects.

The third category relates to declarations, declaration formats, visits, transfers, thresholds, and definitions. In this area, if you take visits, for example, the consolidation of the text is significant; there is a good maturity of the text. But at the same time, there are difficult issues to face: what role should visits play, what should their character be, what should the underlying procedures for visits be, what facilities should be covered by visits. Of course, the answers to these questions depend on how wide the declaration net for facilities will be. There is another question that is very closely related: how to reflect declaration triggers in the declaration formats. On these issues, options are well identified. What is needed is some judgment, a mix of technical judgment and judgment of a more general nature, about the pros and cons these measures might bring to different states-parties. For the regulatory aspects of cooperation, the transfer and export control-related elements, the text is not as consolidated as it is for some of the compliance measures, and there are very serious conceptual differences as well. There are even more conceptual differences on the issue of possible thresholds and certain categories of definitions, which are referred to by some delegations as "basic definitions."

ACT: You've mentioned a number of areas that are considered controversial, such as the role of visits. What do you see as the way forward in this area?

Tóth: I think the first step would be to further consolidate work on declarations. This involves deciding how to define, in practical terms, what is relevant for the protocol and what is not; how to find the right trade-off between catching in the declaration net those facilities that should provide information about their activities, and, at the same time, making the job manageable and meaningful. That is, the declarations should not try to collect data of such volume that it cannot be processed, or the processing of which would not be commensurate with the size of the future BWC implementing organization. Such a mass of data might be more difficult to protect if it is not handled in an appropriate way. That would be the first step.

The second step is to think over in different capitals the role to be assigned to potential measures between declarations and investigations, that is, visits. States need to decide whether the intention is to have a set of flexible tools to provide deterrence without resorting to more heavy and politically damaging acts like investigations. The answer to this question might define the deterrent value different parties give to the so-called randomly selected/transparency visits. It may also clarify the value added by flexible, low-key remedial tools such as the so-called clarification procedures, which include visits.

Of course, the potential pitfalls of visits are relevant as well. First of all, from the point of view of preserving national security information and commercial proprietary information, we need a very careful analysis of what might be included in the visits package that guarantees states-parties that their concerns over national security information and commercial proprietary information will be met. This could be done not by removing major provisions of visits, but by making adjustments that might have a positive impact.

We will need a careful analysis of how much the future organization can afford, administratively and financially, in terms of visits. We will have to adjust either the number of visits or states-parties' expectations, or both, so that a meaningful visits regime can be realized while, at the same time, maintaining a manageable burden on the future organization, one that is within the financial limits being envisaged by the states-parties.

ACT: Another controversial issue has been the role of export controls in the protocol, particularly how the protocol will deal with existing national export controls and export control bodies, such as the Australia Group. How can progress be made in this area?

Tóth: The issue, as you rightly pointed out, remains controversial. My feeling is that there is an understanding that the issue will have to be addressed in the context of the basic pillars of the Biological Weapons Convention, like Article I, which defines what is legitimate under the convention; Article III, which deals with the transfer issue; Article IV, which describes the national obligations of states-parties in areas laid out in Article I; and Article X, which calls for cooperation and exchanges.

The challenge for negotiators is to find a solution within these parameters that does not contradict any of these articles, a solution that is based on the basic pillars of the convention. In line with some well-articulated and often-differing expectations regarding the future protocol, the protocol should not take away anything that is viewed as a functioning element of the regime. At the same time, it should provide elements that add value to the wider regime, and by the regime I mean not just the protocol itself but the wider Biological Weapons Convention regime.

ACT: I understand that there is also difficulty with definitions-what terms in the protocol might need defining. Can you offer a suggestion on how progress can be made on this issue?

Tóth: Not at this stage. I hope I might be able to at a later stage in the light of further consultations on the value different categories of definitions might add to the protocol.

ACT: Can you explain how the protocol's implementing body is likely to be structured?

Tóth: As we discussed, this issue will have to be approached from different angles. One angle is the functional angle, which will depend on the size of the declaration net and how many facilities will be caught in this declaration net, the number of declarations to be filed, the number of visits to be carried out annually, and the number of additional activities that will have to be carried out in the field of cooperation. There will have to be judgment about the possible future size of the organization required to fulfill these jobs.

At the same time, states-parties have certain ideas about how much they will be ready to spend on the new organization. The estimates that were aired in informal discussions were around $30 million. Based on these functional expectations and resource-allocation expectations, one could have a rough idea about what the size of the organization might be. For example, with an organization of about 250 people and a budget of around $30 million, as suggested by some studies, it might be possible to carry out about 100 visits and inspections annually with the necessary administrative support that is needed for the inspectorate to undertake these visits. Those are the numbers that are presented in very comprehensive studies published by Bradford University and the Federation of American Scientists. As I understand, a new study by the Federation of American Scientists will also address this issue. They might provide more details.

As for the structure of the organization, the organization will have to cover the main provisions of the future protocol. The proportions of manpower and financial allocations will require close attention as early as the preparatory committee phase before the protocol's entry into force, when institution-building will start.

ACT: The Chemical Weapons Convention [CWC] has been in force for almost three years now. Are there lessons that can be learned from this convention's implementation that can be applied to the protocol and the negotiations on the protocol?

Tóth: I think so. What is encouraging is that feedback on the lessons to be drawn from the Chemical Weapons Convention is being considered when elements are being incorporated into a future package. Of course one will see differences between the Chemical Weapons Convention and the activities foreseen under the BWC protocol. In certain cases, it is difficult to say whether those differences are derived from what we have learned from the CWC's implementation or whether they are related to the differences between biological agents and chemical agents.

In the area of declarations, an important lesson is to be careful with projections concerning the number of facilities to be declared. In the case of the Chemical Weapons Convention, there is nearly an order of magnitude of difference between some of the estimates that were made earlier on facilities expected to be declared and the results that turned out.

Another area is the lead time needed for implementation stages. In the case of the Chemical Weapons Convention, some of the deadlines for initial declarations, for example, created a situation where the secretariat had some difficulty dealing with tasks because submissions were peaking at the same time and implementation efforts had to be carried out in a relatively concentrated manner. The situation would have been even worse if all the states that possessed chemical weapons joined the Chemical Weapons Convention at the time of the entry into force. Provisions are being drafted in our negotiations to ensure the timely submission of declarations, another requirement identified as a result of the CWC's implementation.

Additionally, drawing on some of the lessons from the Chemical Weapons Convention's implementation in the area of confidentiality, we will probably see an enhanced set of confidentiality measures in the protocol that provide additional safety nets, trying to prevent leaks of information and to provide remedies if such situations arise. So, codification of the Chemical Weapons Convention and the convention's implementation have provided some important benefits to the Ad Hoc Group delegates sitting in Geneva.

ACT: Moving back to the issue of compliance measures, what types of parameters are under consideration for investigations? How much freedom will the inspectors have once they arrive on-site? What type of equipment will they be allowed to bring with them?

Tóth: Some of the major aspects of this issue are still open. For example, in terms of inspectors' freedom, it's still a question of how large the investigation area will be. Provisions on the treatment of the inspectors, to a certain degree, are quite close to provisions in the Chemical Weapons Convention. There are important limitations on sampling in the protocol stating that there will be no removal of samples from the sites and that sampling will be a last resort. Also, the whole question of decision-making on launching an investigation is very much open: whether it will be a so-called green-light procedure where the future executive council will have to vote to permit an investigation, or whether it will be a red-light procedure where the investigation is launched automatically and halting it will result only from an explicit decision of the executive council.

How a field investigation can grow into a facility investigation is also an issue to be explored further. However, the issue of investigations examining the outbreak of disease is, in my judgment, in a relatively consolidated state, which is an encouraging sign.

ACT: Opponents of the protocol in the United States have been concerned about invasive on-site verification measures that they feel could lead to the loss of commercial proprietary information, a topic that you touched on before. In particular, there is concern over the prospect of foreign nationals entering sensitive U.S. facilities. What measures are included in the protocol that might allay these concerns?

Tóth: Since the very beginning of the negotiations, negotiators have been quite sensitive to the concerns of not just delegations, but of industry, as well. One could pinpoint elements in the protocol that are intended to address those concerns.

In the area of declarations, first of all, the intention is to find the right trade-off between the necessary level of transparency and requests for information that is not relevant to transparency or that might be commercially sensitive. You will find a good reflection of that intention in the declaration formats, which do not require the submission of sensitive commercial proprietary information.

In the case of visits, the negotiators are trying to find the right trade-off between providing the necessary insight into some facilities' activities without compromising the facilities' commercial interests. We intend to accomplish this by very clearly defining the purpose and the scope of the visits and by not making visits more intrusive than is really needed.

In addition, the Ad Hoc Group has already elaborated confidentiality rules on how information in the future organization should be handled and how personnel should behave. These are preventive auxiliary measures, which are in addition to measures related to declarations and visits.

Another set of provisions are so-called remedial measures, steps that will have to be taken in case there is a leak of confidential information. These elements have a certain deterrent character as well. Measures like lifting the immunity of not just the personnel, but, as distinct from the Chemical Weapons Convention, the director-general of the future organization. There is even discussion about lifting the immunity of the organization as well, in the event that states-parties unanimously agree that such a decision should be made. So, there are at least four or five mechanisms to address the commercial and national security information concerns of states-parties.

ACT: How will the protocol deal with states that refuse to cooperate with either routine activities or special circumstances, such as investigations?

Tóth: I think we have to divide this issue into two parts. If by routine activities we mean compliance measures, like declarations or visits, these are measures prescribed by the protocol and, of course, the expectation is for states-parties to fulfill those obligations.

Again, based on the lessons of the Chemical Weapons Convention, there are certain provisions built into the protocol to take care of potential problems, like countries not submitting declarations or not submitting declarations in a timely manner. There are complete provisions for the implications of these scenarios, addressing what kind of rights might be suspended for those states-parties that are not fulfilling these obligations.

As for visits, there is a set of provisions on how consultations and clarifications might be handled, starting with the lowest level of interaction, that is political consultation; ending with the highest level of treatment, like holding a special session of the Conference of States Parties; and including well-staged steps to pursue between these two extremes.

In cases that investigations are refused or provisions of the convention are not implemented and the mechanism to take care of such problems is rejected, the issue might leave the framework of the protocol or the convention and might be taken up by the UN Security Council.

ACT: The United States seems to have followed a strategy of seeking to reduce the impact of the protocol on its biotech industry and its biodefense infrastructure. At the same time, some non-aligned states have opposed mandatory clarification visits, believing that they would be subject to more of these visits than Western countries. Some analysts feel that these negotiating strategies come at the expense of developing more robust compliance measures. What are your thoughts on this matter?

Tóth: The degree of intrusiveness of future compliance measures, especially visits, will be defined, to a certain degree, by

functional requirements. But as your question implies, different constituencies are, of course, trying to shape the functional requirement to reflect their own interests.

My feeling is that the emerging visits regime in the protocol is probably second-to-none and is quite comparable to other arrangements, hopefully both quantitatively and qualitatively. Let us compare the number of visits possible under the BWC protocol with those under the Chemical Weapons Convention. We have to be careful here because the protocol is not yet complete, but we have projections. The protocol will focus on relevant facilities, so declarations will probably be nearly an order of magnitude lower than was the case with the CWC. At the same time, the number of visits to be carried out by the future organization will be within the CWC's order of magnitude, at least until the OPCW [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] focuses on the destruction of chemical weapons stockpiles. This facility-to-visits ratio will be achieved with an organization that is intentionally planned to be half of the OPCW's size.

Here, I would like to call attention to the category of clarification visits, which has no comparable equivalent in the Chemical Weapons Convention. These visits are a really flexible tool used to address certain concerns at the lowest possible level of controversy, without resorting to more controversial investigations. This new framework can be traced to some recent arrangements, like the IAEA's Additional Protocol, again, a lesson drawn from another field.

So, if I take these elements into account, I remain optimistic that the visits package, both quantitatively and qualitatively, will be second-to-none. And as I mentioned before, we are trying to take into account both commercial proprietary information-related and national security-related concerns because of another lesson drawn from the Chemical Weapons Convention: the life-cycle of a legal arrangement does not end at the negotiations. It has to be signed, ratified, and implemented by states-parties. For all these stages, it is extremely important to find the right trade-off between the interests of the regime and national interests. The challenge is to balance these interests in a way that will not affect the effectiveness of the future arrangement.

ACT: Until somewhat recently, it is my understanding that the United States did not take an assertive stance during the negotiations. Did the lack of U.S. leadership hamper the negotiations before, and now that the United States is playing more of a role, how do you feel it has impacted the negotiations?

Tóth: President Clinton made a statement in January 1998 about U.S. expectations vis-à-vis the conclusion of this protocol. The extent to which delegations have a prominent role and the success or lack of success in promoting national objectives cannot be measured in terms of articulated positions or how frequently a certain delegation takes the floor.

I think at the end of the day, the expectations of each and every delegation, and the outcome of the negotiations, will have to be compared. My hope is that no delegation will be in a position at the end of the day to say that its expectations have been totally fulfilled. If that is the case, it would mean we had arrived at a balanced package of solutions, which would make no delegation happy, but which each and every one of them would accept.

ACT: My understanding is that the next step in the negotiating process is to move from the rolling text to a chairman's text. What is the purpose of the chairman's text and what criteria need to be met before you can set to work on it? When do you anticipate the release of this text?

Tóth: The process, up until now, has been an incremental one, and my feeling is that it will remain such. My hope is that there will be a natural transition from one stage to another, where, compared to the present stage, we will have even more private discussions and informal, transparent consultations. In the event that these different channels of communication are not just intimate and in-depth, but are efficient as well, it might be possible to identify solutions that could bring together a comprehensive set of proposals. It is too early to speculate exactly when the time will be right for that because it is very much dependent upon the outcome of the different sets of consultations.

ACT: How would the chairman's text serve to further the negotiations? What purpose will it fulfill?

Tóth: I think we have to think not in terms of whether there should be a chairman's text, but in terms of what the functional requirements of the negotiations are. It is important to conclude the negotiations with a protocol of good quality and without prolonged political or technical disputes. Based on these functional elements, the participants of the negotiations will have to judge if the situation has progressed far enough for a comprehensive set of proposals or for a chairman's text, which should be based on very in-depth and intimate preparatory discussions.

ACT: Analysts seem to differ with regard to whether the Ad Hoc Group will be able to conclude its work before the fifth review conference, scheduled for 2001. At the same time, delegations disagree on the need to increase the pace of the negotiations. What are your thoughts on the negotiations' pace and meeting the so-called 2001 deadline?

Tóth: I know we have spent as much time in negotiations as was the case for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty [CTBT], around 50 weeks of negotiations, though we should keep in mind that in strict physical terms our protocol is more voluminous than the CTBT. On the one hand, as I mentioned, we have made real progress in cleaning up the rolling text. We are in a situation where, compared to the CTBT, we shouldn't be ashamed of the existing situation, in terms of "bracket pollution." At the same time, the time available for the endgame seems to be a bit shorter than it was for the CTBT. In the CTBT's case, there was practically a continuous endgame, with just the Conference on Disarmament breaks interrupting. We are still having three-to-four week sessions; this year, 12 to 14 weeks will be spent on negotiations.

My feeling is that the remaining issues will not necessarily be solved with much more time. At this stage of the negotiations, what we need is a political judgment. If the judgment is made, and if the outcome of this judgment is a positive one, then we will be able to complete the negotiations in the time frame prescribed for us, even if it involves a special conference before autumn 2001. If the political judgment is not as favorable as I would like to see, then we will have to come back to your original question, but I hope we will not need another interview because of this question.

ACT: What do you feel is the final push needed to enter the endgame or to conclude the protocol?

Tóth: The push might be generated by the positive dynamics of the negotiations up until now. What is surprising then is that the push might be provided by further lack of progress because it would indicate that we have to think over the endgame that awaits us. Hopefully, it is not contradictory that there is also a need to make a political judgment.

What might help this political judgment is the "implosion phenomenon." We have invented for these negotiations a new technique called "Part Two" text, a set of new proposals issued each session. These are small packages, small comprehensive sets of proposals or revisions from Friends of the Chair. As a result of this process, unlike in some other negotiations, we were able to significantly reduce the number of brackets. This process might take us close to the implosion of remaining brackets in important parts of the protocol, which might speed up the political decision-making process.

ACT: And if the push doesn't come and the deadline is missed, what are the consequences for the protocol's future, the future of the Biological Weapons Convention, and, more broadly, the global non-proliferation regime?

Tóth: I am quite frequently reminded that I am more optimistic than I should be. Still, I would like to remain within the domain of positive thinking and rephrase the question in a positive way: what kind of advantages will conclusion of the protocol bring forward?

The development and adoption of a verification protocol would in itself demonstrate the determination of the international community to raise further legal, political, and moral barriers against biological weapons and non-compliance with the Biological Weapons Convention. Besides that, the verification protocol would add value to other areas of the wider biological weapons prohibition regime as well.

The recent difficulties for arms control and disarmament further emphasize the urgent need for the conclusion of the negotiations. As the only multilateral disarmament negotiation being held, the Ad Hoc Group's work is the only effort that can send a positive message. It would take any other negotiations three to five years from now to reach a similar level of endgame maturity and ability to make a positive difference. The BWC protocol is the sole current source of reinforcement to faith in cooperative multilateral management of security challenges.

ACT: You had referred to the possibility of alternative negotiating strategies to move the negotiations forward. From what I understand, the European Union has suggested adopting new negotiating techniques. How do you feel about that?

Tóth: I think as we narrow down remaining issues of controversy, it will be clearer and clearer that it might be difficult to find solutions for certain issues in a narrow context. It is a natural phenomenon in the negotiations that countries try to have a balanced give-and-take. Because of that, there is a need to think more comprehensively about this give-and-take and about building blocks for a comprehensive set of proposals. Thus, it will be more and more important to run some of the discussions not in isolation, but to combine the present Friends of the Chair discussion format with a more integrated and more holistic approach. In addition to the ongoing formal work, what might be needed is an increasing degree of private consultations both by the Friends of the Chair and by the chairman, as well as more open-ended informal consultations that hopefully will result in formulations that might be building blocks for the final comprehensive set or sets of proposals.

ACT: The protocol needs to be ratified by Biological Weapons Convention states-parties to be applicable to them. In the event that some states-parties do not ratify the protocol, this could result in a two-tier system. Do you feel that that could be a problem?

Tóth: There are some important aspects to this question. First of all, what will be the entry-into-force formula for the protocol? Another aspect is what will be the provisions in the protocol for solving the relationship between states party to the protocol and states not party to the protocol. Both of these elements might provide different answers to your question.

But independent of the outcome of discussions on these two issues, which are quite complicated, yes, one should not preclude the possibility that there might be different categories: states-parties to the protocol, states-parties to the convention, and states not party to the convention. We probably need incentives to have the widest appeal to states to join the first category, to provide a certain grace period in which countries can move to the first category.

What are some positive incentives to attract the attention of those countries that are not necessarily opposed to the protocol but do not have the political or the public attention vis-à-vis these issues? In that respect, it is extremely important to have a meaningful set of cooperative measures in the protocol because it will be a clear-cut benefit, especially for developing countries, in the area of strengthening public health; public health infrastructure; and disease surveillance, control, and management mechanisms. At the same time, in light of the transnational character of some diseases, be it naturally occurring or man-made, these cooperative arrangements should not necessarily be limited just to developing countries.

ACT: Could you explain what kind of progress the last negotiating session has made on the areas of contention?

Tóth: The progress in this session was slower than in the previous ones, which might be an indication that we have to incrementally adjust our negotiating techniques to the changing situation. By now, we have very well isolated the remaining islands of controversy in a sea of clean text and will have to find solutions to them. At this point, these solutions will have to be more political than technical, based on weighing the pros and cons of the protocol. My sincere hope is that in this final judgment, to be made in different capitals, the positive elements will eventually outweigh the constraints the protocol will impose on all states. If the emerging outcome of the negotiations is making each and every participant equally unsatisfied, that might be a clear sign that a decent compromise is on the horizon.

Interviewed by Seth Brugger

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