“Right after I graduated, I interned with the Arms Control Association. It was terrific.”

– George Stephanopolous
ABC News
January 1, 2005
June 2014
Edition Date: 
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Cover Image: 

Books of Note

Deterrence Stability and Escalation Control in South Asia

Michael Krepon and Julia Thompson, eds., The Stimson Center, 2013, 211 pp.

Stability resulting from nuclear deterrence in South Asia “is far from assured” and “is likely to deteriorate if current trend lines continue,” Michael Krepon and Julia Thompson write in their introduction to this volume of 10 essays. Experts in South Asian politics and nuclear weapons programs identify root causes of instability in nuclear deterrence between India and Pakistan and suggest U.S. policies that could help address them. One of these root causes, according to Krepon and Thompson, is the expansion of missile and nuclear capabilities, which has “far outpaced nuclear risk reduction diplomacy in the 15 years since India and Pakistan tested nuclear devices in 1998.” Dinshaw Mistry’s essay reviews the Indian and Pakistani missile programs in detail and argues that the pursuit of short-range and very-short-range ballistic missiles, sea-based missiles, and new types of cruise missiles has “weakened deterrence stability” by introducing missiles that are “more vulnerable to attack, by weakening command and control arrangements, by raising nuclear ambiguity issues, and by making escalation control more difficult.” In another chapter, George Perkovich says that violent extremist groups in Pakistan could provoke crises leading to conventional and perhaps nuclear war and argues that the safest way to reinforce deterrence stability is for the Pakistani government “to make unambiguous efforts to restore the monopoly on the legitimate use of force that is central to modern statehood.” Perkovich concludes that the United States should frame its objectives in terms of stabilizing Indian-Pakistani deterrence instead of countering nuclear terrorism or strengthening the nonproliferation regime.—LANCE GARRISON

Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know

P.W. Singer and Allan Friedman, Oxford University Press, 2014, 306 pp.

This book attempts to fill what the authors describe as the large knowledge gap on cybersecurity issues that exists between the older generation of policymakers that did not grow up with personal computers and the younger generation of users currently growing up in the digital age. P.W. Singer and Allan Friedman, fellows at the Brookings Institution, cover topics ranging from basic issues of how networks and the Internet function to complex issues of cyberwar and cyberweapons. They argue that such weapons, which are capable of destroying pieces of physical infrastructure, will be major elements of future wars. One noteworthy aspect of the book is its historical perspective, which includes frequent references to nuclear weapons and the Cold War. One example is Singer and Friedman’s analysis of the perceived arms race in cyberspace apparently taking place among states. When it comes to developing sophisticated cyberweapons, the authors say the world is at the same point in time as it was in the 1940s with regard to the development of the atomic bomb. A key difference, however, is that instead of two states having the technology, more and more actors are able to develop it. As a result, countries are continually searching for new, more-sophisticated cyberweapons. Singer and Friedman say countries have a choice: either continue to build up their arsenals of cyberweapons and be a “slave to fear” or “recognize the mutual risks that all participants in cyberspace face from this new arms race and explore how we can be responsible stakeholders.”—TIMOTHY FARNSWORTH

The Nuclear Security Implementation Initiative: A Catalyst for Needed Action

Jonathan Herbach

The nuclear security summit that took place in The Hague in March was likely the penultimate gathering in the process that President Barack Obama started in 2009. As with the previous summits, in 2010 and 2012, participating states made a number of pledges to reduce the amounts of nuclear material within their borders and to better secure remaining nuclear and other radioactive materials.

In one of the major developments of this year’s summit, several states went further than before in taking concrete steps aimed at enhancing the legal and regulatory framework with a view to ensuring sustainability of nuclear security efforts.

This was manifested most directly in the initiative on strengthening nuclear security implementation, announced by the Netherlands, South Korea, and the United States and joined by two-thirds of the participating states.[1] The initiative was one of the most publicized outcomes of the meeting and arguably the most significant.[2] It looks toward laying the groundwork for a more robust international system based on national commitments to the application of international principles and guidelines[3] and to continuous improvement of nuclear security regimes through peer reviews and other methods.

The question is how this initiative will actually be put into practice. The commitment to conduct self-assessments, host peer reviews periodically, and act on recommendations stemming from such reviews is fairly clearly formulated, whereas some of the language is quite general, referring to “meet[ing] the intent of” international nuclear security guidelines and “subscrib[ing] to” a set of fundamental principles developed under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Therefore, although the initiative holds potentially far-reaching consequences for the future strength of the nuclear security regime, such consequences will largely depend on how subscribing states choose to interpret the commitments. If the initiative is to have a strong impact, states will need to take the view that it lays a foundation on which they can build through further actions rather than being a final goal in itself.

A Broad Interpretation

Strengthening Nuclear Security Implementation

In the initiative on “[s]trengthening nuclear security implementation,” 35 states that attended the 2014 nuclear security summit pledged to take four main steps and a number of additional actions to support the continuous improvement of nuclear security worldwide. Portions of the initiative text are below.

[Subscribing states] commit themselves to:

1. Subscribe to the fundamental principles (“Nuclear Security Fundamentals”) set forth in the Nuclear Security Series NSS 20, on the Objective and Essential Elements of a State’s Nuclear Security Regime;

2. Meet the intent of the recommendations contained in the following documents and to realize or exceed these objectives including through the implementation and enhancement of national regulations and other government measures:

a) NSS13 (INFCIRC225/Rev.5): “Nuclear Security Recommendations on Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials and Nuclear Facilities[”];

b) NSS14: “Nuclear Security Recommendations on Radioactive Material and Associated Facilities” and The Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources;

c) NSS15: “Nuclear Security Recommendations on Nuclear and Other Radioactive Material out of Regulatory Control[”];

3. Continue to improve the effectiveness of their nuclear security regimes and operators’ systems by:

a) Conducting self-assessments;

b) Hosting peer reviews (e.g., IPPAS) periodically;

c) Acting upon the recommendations identified during these reviews;

4. Ensure that management and personnel with accountability for nuclear security are demonstrably competent[.]

Additionally, subscribing States intend to contribute to the continuous improvement of nuclear security through one or more of the following actions:

  • Contribute to the development of IAEA nuclear security guidance documents;

  • Promote information exchange while respecting confidentiality;
  • Provide nuclear security experts for the conduct of IAEA International Nuclear Security Advisory Service (INSServ), and International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) missions;

  • Make financial or in-kind contributions to the IAEA Nuclear Security Fund;

  • Promote nuclear security culture for management and personnel involved with nuclear security;
  • Support or participate in the development of World Institute for Nuclear Security best practice guides and training activities;
  • Improve cooperation with nearby States to improve international and regional nuclear security.

    The first part of the initiative, points 1 and 2 (see box), commits subscribing states to taking action with regard to elements of their national nuclear security regimes. The fundamentals and recommendations contained in the IAEA Nuclear Security Series, which form the basis of the pledge and reflect international consensus by virtue of their development process,[4] are not legally binding. The initiative does not change this status, nor is that its intention, as stated explicitly in the initiative’s introductory text.

    Nonetheless, it is clear that some adaptation of domestic laws, regulations, administrative systems, organizations, or other measures in accordance with these documents is to be expected in carrying out the initiative. The extent of these changes, however, is left entirely to the subscribing states’ discretion, reflecting the voluntary nature of “gift basket” commitments in the context of the summit process.[5] In order to maximize the utility of the initiative in improving nuclear security worldwide, states should take an approach in exercising this discretion that goes as far as possible in giving effect to the fundamentals and recommendations in domestic regimes. Yet, there is a danger that the general language of the initiative will allow states to declare their commitments fulfilled after having taken only modest steps.

    The effectiveness of the initiative ultimately will depend on states’ interpretation of key terms, such as “subscribe” (to the fundamental principles) and “meet the intent” (of the guidance documents).[6] Principles provide a conceptual basis for guiding subsequent action, but are not concrete rules that can be put directly into practice. In the absence of a description of further steps to be taken in subscribing to the principles, it could be expected that these states, in accordance with the document on nuclear security fundamentals, are committing to putting in place an appropriate and effective nuclear security regime based on the document’s list of essential elements. The term “subscribe” means more than acknowledgment of the importance of these principles; it refers to an acceptance of the principles as an integral part of the national regime.

    The second point of the initiative commits subscribing states to meeting the intent of IAEA nuclear security recommendations and realizing or exceeding the objectives in them.

    “[I]mplementation and enhancement of national regulations and other government measures” are mentioned specifically as methods for fulfilling the commitment, although not the only one. Three recommendation documents form part of the Nuclear Security Series; their intent is to be met by states subscribing to the initiative.[7] Although the intent of international instruments is sometimes difficult to glean, these recommendation documents explicitly mention their purpose in a dedicated section of the text.

    Nevertheless, it is difficult to ascertain exactly what “meet the intent” is supposed to mean. Generally, each of the three sets of recommendations is meant to provide guidance to states in setting up or strengthening, implementing, and maintaining their nuclear security regimes through establishment or improvement of particular capabilities in order to reduce risks of malicious activities. One could identify the collective intent of the recommendations as helping states establish a comprehensive, appropriate, and effective nuclear security regime, thereby fleshing out the principles outlined in the fundamentals document.[8]

    “Comprehensive” refers to the full gamut of measures—prevention, detection, and response—to deal with criminal or other unauthorized acts involving nuclear and other radioactive materials and related facilities. In that way, the Nuclear Security Series documents go beyond what is required of states-parties to the relevant legally binding instruments, which cover only nuclear materials in civilian use or are not specifically focused on physical protection requirements. A remaining issue is that the security series documents apply only to material and facilities in civilian use.

    At a very basic level, subscribing states could claim they had met the commitment under the initiative if, in their estimation, their domestic nuclear security regime was sufficient. In the absence of a monitoring mechanism, states themselves will determine what is appropriate and effective or what meeting the intent of the recommendations entails. Subscribing states should choose to go beyond the goal of following the intent of the guidelines and apply the specific provisions recommended in the documents as much as possible. The more completely the recommendations are followed, the stronger and more harmonized the national regimes will become.

    Reviewing Implementation

    Although not a true monitoring mechanism, the second part of the initiative, point 3, represents a significant development by committing subscribing states to “continue to improve the effectiveness of their nuclear security regimes and operators’ systems” through international peer reviews and self-assessments. The IAEA has promoted both of these methods, aiming to increase the effectiveness of the peer review mechanisms and assisting states in augmenting their capacity to carry out self-assessments.[9] This section of the initiative is clearly linked to the IAEA activities and strategies. Following through on the commitment to host peer reviews is also one of the most easily measurable aspects of the initiative.

    The peer review services are designed to assess a state’s nuclear security regime, including the legal and regulatory framework and physical protection systems for nuclear and other radioactive material, in line with international instruments and recognized best practices. The text of the initiative mentions the International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) specifically, but the language leaves open the option for hosting other types of peer reviews, such as International Nuclear Security Advisory Service (INSServ) missions. Although IPPAS missions focus on a state’s physical protection system in light of established guidelines and international best practices, INSServ missions serve more generally to examine a state’s nuclear security measures and to identify means for improving the broader range of nuclear security activities.

    These voluntary arrangements remain the only international measure of whether states are acting in accordance with nuclear security guidelines, making them essential to building international confidence in states’ nuclear security regimes. The number of requests for such reviews has been increasing over time. The review process identifies issues and makes suggestions for improvement, but it also acknowledges good practices that can then be used to inform recommendations for other states.

    A particularly noteworthy aspect of the initiative on this point is that subscribing states are making a general pledge not only to host peer reviews, but to host them “periodically.” Read in conjunction with the commitment to act on recommendations resulting from the reviews, hosting reviews periodically would seem to mean that subscribing states intend to request regular follow-up missions to review their implementation of the suggested improvements. The states would be encouraged to implement the initiative in this way, thereby putting in place certain features of a structure to monitor the effectiveness of national nuclear security measures. The existence of such a structure, which provides for the collection and confidential analysis of information by a set of experts, should help increase trust in other states’ nuclear security regimes.

    Demonstrable Competence

    Point 4 commits subscribing states to ensuring “that management and personnel with accountability for nuclear security are demonstrably competent.” The nuclear industry has echoed the importance of this point.[10] Developing competence of staff at a nuclear or radiological facility is also part of a learning module under the IAEA educational program in nuclear security.[11] One way to ensure competence would be through required certifications of facility employees with nuclear security responsibilities. For example, a state could include such certifications as part of the licensing process for nuclear facility operators or shippers. The World Institute for Nuclear Security (WINS) has designed a WINS Academy program to support demonstrable competence through certification.[12] Subscribing states could encourage their domestic nuclear industries to make use of this program as part of fulfilling their commitments under the initiative.

    Continuous Improvement

    The initiative concludes with a set of actions aimed at continuous improvement of nuclear security; the subscribing states express their intention to take one or more of the actions. This section seems to be tacked on as an addendum. The form of commitment is weaker (intent to contribute as opposed to a pledge to take action), and not all of the listed activities are of equal weight and detail.

    For instance, the need for states to provide nuclear security experts for peer review missions is a recognized, pressing issue. An increase in the number of requests for these missions—a likely result of the initiative—will further strain the capacity of the current, relatively small pool of experts. This action should be a focus of the subscribing states.

    To be fair, the acknowledgment of this issue in the initiative is already an important first step. Similarly, the action of making financial or in-kind contributions to the IAEA Nuclear Security Fund is essential because the vast majority of the funding for IAEA nuclear security activities continues to come from voluntary contributions.

    These two examples represent concrete actions, but other actions listed in the document are more vague. For example, improving cooperation with nearby states to improve international and regional nuclear security, although in principle certainly important for strengthening the international framework, is very broad and therefore cannot be considered a specific action by itself. When the language is indeterminate in this way, it becomes less likely that the action taken will achieve a particular intended purpose, and it makes it more difficult for observers to assess whether a state is acting in accordance with its commitments.

    Continuous improvement, a concept to which the initiative document refers more than once, suggests an indefinite timeline and reflects the idea that flawless nuclear security will never be achieved. Rather, efforts must be adapted and strengthened in line with changing circumstances. The introductory statement to the initiative explains that the list of actions, although not arbitrarily compiled, is not meant to be exhaustive. In that sense, the list could be reviewed and refined in the run-up to the 2016 summit as states make progress on the action steps and identify other pressing needs.

    The Path Forward

    Because only a short time has passed since the Hague summit, the practical impact of the initiative to strengthen nuclear security implementation is not yet possible to measure. It is clear that the initiative is meant as a long-term strategy to improve global nuclear security rather than as a set of deliverables to be checked off by a certain deadline. Dedication to continuous improvement is essential in this context.

    In the March 25 press conference announcing the initiative, Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans laid out two objectives: helping to eliminate weak links in global nuclear security and building confidence among various stakeholders in each state’s nuclear security measures. It is doubtful that the initiative alone can achieve these lofty goals, but steps can be taken to ensure that it works as a springboard for further strengthening the nuclear security regime.

    First, a goal for the 2016 summit should be to increase the number of subscribing states as much as possible, ideally convincing nuclear-armed holdouts China, India, Pakistan, and Russia to join the initiative. This would give credence to the idea that the guidelines represent international standards, which would have an impact even outside the summit process. Put another way, broader commitment to enacting the fundamental principles and recommendations would legitimize such conduct in a way that would make opposing approaches less justifiable, thereby eventually leading to increased harmonization.[13]

    Second, states should share the information they gain from peer reviews to the greatest extent possible, providing updates as they take steps to follow the recommendations that come out of mission reports. States can exchange a great deal of useful information without compromising security interests. In fact, states-parties to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) are already legally obligated to share information on national laws and regulations that give effect to the treaty, although very few have complied with this requirement.[14] Relevant information that is obtained through the peer review process could be shared by states in such a way as to fulfill the CPPNM obligation. In doing so, states would reinvigorate this existing mechanism for exchanging information and provide a model for other states to do the same.

    Third, participating nuclear-armed states should indicate their intention to apply the relevant guidelines to the security of military-use material and facilities.[15] Although the Nuclear Security Series documents are explicitly meant for application to material and facilities used for civilian purposes, states may naturally extend the relevant provisions as they choose. The IAEA recommendations themselves duly make this point. Perhaps this is what the text of the initiative means by “realize or exceed [Nuclear Security Series] objectives.”[16] Such a step would help rectify one of the major weak links in the international framework, namely the focus on security of civilian material when the vast majority of nuclear material is used in military programs, for which there are no international security standards. Also, it will help lessen criticism that the summit process has largely ignored security issues specifically related to material in military programs.[17]

    Lastly, the initiative should not be viewed as a substitute for continuing to actively pursue increased adherence to existing treaties or for taking additional legally binding action, where necessary. Eight of the subscribing states are not parties to the 2005 amendment to the CPPNM, and seven are not parties to the International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. These two instruments are fundamental components of the nuclear security framework. The announcement of the initiative should not detract from efforts to universalize the nuclear terrorism convention and to bring the CPPNM amendment into force. Instead, it should be seen as helping to achieve broader adherence to legally binding instruments. The IAEA guidelines are designed in part to assist states-parties to the two conventions in applying the treaties’ provisions. For states that are not parties, implementing the guidelines in their domestic systems can lower the threshold to joining the conventions. Only legally binding instruments establish obligations to which states can be held accountable and create a legal basis for sustained interaction through provisions on, for instance, cooperation and consultation. For this reason, a comprehensive underpinning of international law should be the goal.

    Yet, in the absence of states’ motivation to take additional, legally binding measures, this initiative is a highly important development, particularly as thoughts turn to sustaining nuclear security efforts in a postsummit world. The initiative puts subscribing states on a path toward significant improvement of nuclear security. It goes further than ever before in committing states to domestic application of international principles and guidelines and accepting external review of their nuclear security regimes. As always, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. The actions of the subscribing states in fulfilling their commitments will determine whether this initiative serves as a “role model worldwide of excellent and transparent behaviour.”


    Jonathan Herbach is a lecturer in public international law at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, as well as a research fellow specializing in nuclear security and arms control law at the university’s Centre for Conflict and Security Law.




    1. “Strengthening Nuclear Security Implementation,” March 25, 2014, https://www.nss2014.com/sites/default/files/downloads/strengthening_nuclear_security_implementation.pdf. See Kelsey Davenport, “States Commit to Nuclear Rules at Summit,” Arms Control Today, April 2014.

    2. Several commentators have made reference to the significance of the initiative in the broader context of the nuclear security summit process. See Hui Zhang, “Why China Should Observe the Nuclear Security Summit Pledge,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, April 21, 2014, http://thebulletin.org/why-china-should-observe-nuclear-security-summit-pledge7076; Sebastian Sprenger, “Nearly Three Dozen Nations Sign Hague Statement on Nuclear Security Framework,” Global Security Newswire, March 25, 2014, http://www.nti.org/gsn/article/nearly-three-dozen-nations-sign-hague-statement-nuclear-security-framework/; Sharon Squassoni, “Outcomes From the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, March 25, 2014, http://csis.org/publication/outcomes-2014-nuclear-security-summit.

    3. These guidelines are “closest thing we have to international standards for nuclear security,” according to the statement by U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz at the joint press conference announcing the “Strengthening Nuclear Security Implementation” initiative. See Sprenger, “Nearly Three Dozen Nations Sign Hague Statement on Nuclear Security Framework.”

    4. For a description of the drafting, review, and adoption process of the Nuclear Security Series documents, see International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), “IAEA Nuclear Security Series,” June 20, 2013, http://www-ns.iaea.org/security/nuclear_security_series.asp?s=5&l=35.

    5. “Gift baskets” refer to joint statements or pledges to take additional actions made by two or more of the participating states. None of the “outcomes of the nuclear security summit, including the consensus communiqué, are legally binding.

    6. In the IAEA Nuclear Security Series structure, the Nuclear Security Fundamentals document sets broad objectives, concepts, and principles providing the foundation for the recommendation documents, which elaborate the best practices to be used in application of the fundamentals. IAEA, “Objective and Essential Elements of a State’s Nuclear Security Regime,” IAEA Nuclear Security Series, No. 20 (February 2013), http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/Publications/PDF/Pub1590_web.pdf.

    7. IAEA, “Nuclear Security Recommendations on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities (INFCIRC/225/Revision 5),” IAEA Nuclear Security Series, No. 13 (January 2011), http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/Publications/PDF/Pub1481_web.pdf; IAEA, “Nuclear Security Recommendations on Radioactive Material and Associated Facilities,” IAEA Nuclear Security Series, No. 14 (January 2011), http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/Publications/PDF/Pub1487_web.pdf; IAEA, “Nuclear Security Recommendations on Nuclear and Other Radioactive Material Out of Regulatory Control,” IAEA Nuclear Security Series, No. 15 (January 2011), http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/Publications/PDF/Pub1488_web.pdf.

    8. For example, see IAEA, “Nuclear Security Recommendations on Nuclear and Other Radioactive Material Out of Regulatory Control,” p. 2.

    9. IAEA Board of Governors, “Nuclear Security Plan 2014-2017: Report by the Director-General,” GOV/2013/42-GC(57)/19, August 2, 2013, pp. 9-10.

    10. “Joint Statement of the 2014 Nuclear Industry Summit,” March 24, 2014, https://www.nss2014.com/sites/default/files/documents/nis2014-jointstatement_final.pdf.

    11. IAEA, “Educational Programme in Nuclear Security,” IAEA Nuclear Security Series, No. 12 (March 2010), http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/Publications/PDF/Pub1439_web.pdf.

    12. See World Institute for Nuclear Security, “The WINS Academy Security Certification Programme: Support to Demonstrable Competence,” January 2014, https://www.wins.org/files/support_to_demonstrable_competence_final.pdf.

    13. See Alan Boyle and Christine Chinkin, The Making of International Law (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 211-212.

    14. Article 14.1 of the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material states, “Each State Party shall inform the depositary [the IAEA] of its laws and regulations which give effect to this Convention. The depositary shall communicate such information periodically to all States Parties.”

    15. See Global Dialogue on Nuclear Security Priorities, “Comprehensiveness—Understanding Non-Civilian Nuclear Materials,” Global Dialogue on Nuclear Security Priorities Non-Paper, No. 3 (November 19, 2012), http://www.nti.org/analysis/articles/non-paper-3-comprehensiveness-understanding-non-civilian-nuclear-materials/.

    16. “Strengthening Nuclear Security Implementation,” para. 2.

    17. Military-use material has officially been part of the discussion from the beginning of the nuclear security summits. See Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, “Communiqué of the Washington Nuclear Security Summit,” April 13, 2010, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/communiqu-washington-nuclear-security-summit.

    The initiative, one of the most notable outcomes of the recent summit in The Hague, goes further than ever before toward establishing nuclear security standards...

    Book Review: Bringing Pakistan In From the Cold

    Review by Joshua T. White

    Overcoming Pakistan’s Nuclear Dangers
    By Mark Fitzpatrick
    Routledge, 2014, 171 pp.

    Since the earliest days following the nuclear tests by India and Pakistan in 1998, policymakers in the United States and Europe have struggled to envision a realistic path by which Pakistan might achieve some measure of nuclear normalization. Perhaps unexpectedly, the turbulent U.S.-Pakistani relationship of the last several years and Pakistan’s rapidly growing nuclear arsenal have revived rather than dampened interest in a normalization deal. The logic of such a deal hinges on the argument that bringing Pakistan into line with global nonproliferation norms could be a valuable inducement to shaping its behavior in the region.

    Mark Fitzpatrick’s Overcoming Pakistan’s Nuclear Dangers is the latest serious attempt to grapple with the question of how the international community might deal with one of the most problematic nuclear-armed states. The majority of the book is dedicated to a carefully drawn analysis of the various risks of Pakistan’s nuclear enterprise. Only in the last dozen pages does Fitzpatrick connect these risks—in particular, the growing arsenals in India and Pakistan and the potential for an arms race on the subcontinent—to the larger argument that, despite the evident challenges, Pakistan should be offered a path to nuclear normalization. Ten years after Abdul Qadeer Khan’s proliferation network was shut down, he writes, “it is fair to ask how long Pakistan must pay the price for that failure.” This conclusion, which Fitzpatrick admits represents a revision of his own views on the subject, has drawn the most critical attention.

    In making his argument, Fitzpatrick, a former acting U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation who now is with the International Institute for Strategic Studies, sensibly begins with a well-prioritized assessment of the actual risks of Pakistan’s nuclear program. He concludes that media assessments probably have overblown the likelihood of nuclear terrorism and that advances in Pakistan’s nuclear security and safety infrastructures have received far too little attention. Appropriately, he worries more about the developing arms race on the subcontinent, evidenced by Pakistan’s rapidly growing stockpiles of fissile material and India’s “inherent advantage” in facilities for uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing, which can be used in civilian or military nuclear programs; by India’s robust ballistic and cruise missile programs; by Pakistan’s introduction of tactical nuclear weapons; and by the development of sea-based nuclear deterrents.

    Fitzpatrick’s chapter on Indian-Pakistani nuclear competition highlights the growing risks of misperception and command-and-control failures in an environment with new delivery mechanisms and intentionally ambiguous nuclear doctrines. His analysis suggests at a minimum that the next crisis on the subcontinent may escalate more quickly and unpredictably than those of the past.

    Fitzpatrick concludes that, in order to deal with these growing dangers, Pakistan and the international community should “make mutually reinforcing adjustments” by which Islamabad adopts global nuclear norms in exchange for recognition as a “normal nuclear country.” Entirely apart from the details of terms and implementation, there is considerable value to rekindling debate about such a deal. Pakistanis in government, academia, and think tanks spend an enormous amount of time calculating the conditions under which their country might gain global legitimacy as a responsible nuclear state. A generation of nuclear strategists is coming of age in Pakistan convinced that the United States is committed to maintaining a discriminatory regime or, worse, rolling back Pakistan’s nuclear capability altogether.

    That alone is reason enough for credible voices in the United States and Europe to signal that the international community seeks a path for bringing Pakistan in from the cold. At the very least, talking about normalization reinforces to Pakistan the major benchmarks that any deal would likely require in order to win international approval, namely, binding limitations on fissile material production and nuclear testing. Further, holding out the future prospect of full normalization provides incentives for Pakistan’s continued responsible participation in other areas of the global nuclear order, such as its acceptance of International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards on its civilian nuclear facilities and its contributions to the nuclear security summits.

    Scholars who have previously considered the contours of a possible deal for Pakistan have shared two basic and mutually reinforcing assumptions. First, Pakistan’s proliferation record and history of using proxies against Afghanistan and India necessitate that any agreement include conditions more robust than the ones contained in the 2005 U.S.-Indian nuclear deal.[1] Second, any deal would face daunting if not insurmountable challenges on account of the deep mistrust between Islamabad and Western capitals and the still-evolving strategic competition between Pakistan and India.

    On the first point, Fitzpatrick does not stray far from conventional wisdom. He sets a high bar for a nuclear normalization deal, requiring Pakistan to agree to end fissile material production, drop its veto over initiating fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) negotiations in Geneva, sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), and cease its support for groups that conduct terrorism. Tellingly, he does not discuss how this latter condition would be evaluated or verified.

    On the second point—the political and strategic challenges of a deal—Fitzpatrick is frustratingly vague. Fundamental questions about the incentives for Pakistan and the United States and other nuclear-armed states are addressed casually or not at all. Ultimately, this reflects the book’s signature weakness: it fails to seriously acknowledge or address the reality that the incentives for Pakistan and the international community to pursue a nuclear normalization agreement are exceptionally weak.

    With regard to Pakistan, there is no question that its political and military elites seek international recognition as stewards of a responsible nuclear state. It is less clear that those elites believe that the path to such recognition must involve effective restrictions on the size of Pakistan’s arsenal. India, operating under very different geopolitical conditions, negotiated an exceptionally favorable deal with the United States and members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) that neither restricted its fissile material production nor bound it by treaty to a cessation of nuclear testing. Pakistan may well wager that it can hold out for a more lenient deal, even if that takes 10 years or more.

    Indeed, there is virtually no evidence to suggest that Pakistan is ready to foreclose fissile material production in the short term, even if it withdraws its objection to the start of FMCT negotiations. Fitzpatrick suggests that Pakistan may expect that it can attain fissile material sufficiency by 2020—that is, stockpile enough material to generate a “minimum, credible deterrent” in perpetuity. Members of the Pakistani nuclear establishment, however, have been exceptionally careful not to signal a sufficiency threshold, and the competition that the book describes is unpredictable enough to make Pakistani planners nervous about making that assessment prematurely.

    Pakistan may not yet have determined how many low-yield, plutonium-based tactical nuclear weapons it needs to assure its desired deterrence effects against Indian conventional force incursions or if those numbers may need to increase in the future. Alternately, if India moves forward aggressively in developing ballistic missile defense technologies, Pakistan may wish to build up an arsenal of low-yield nuclear cruise missiles and would want to have on hand the requisite plutonium stocks to do so.

    Fitzpatrick argues that agreeing to an FMCT might appeal to Pakistan if the treaty locks in a level of relative parity between it and India in the size of their fissile material stockpiles. This seems unlikely. Particularly after the U.S.-Indian nuclear deal, Pakistan has articulated its concern that even under FMCT strictures, India would be able to utilize unsafeguarded power-reactor plutonium for military purposes.[2] It has also insisted repeatedly in talks in the Conference on Disarmament that an FMCT must address existing stockpiles, not simply future production. Although many outside observers believe that Pakistan already has exceeded the capabilities necessary to establish a credible deterrent against India, officials within the Pakistani nuclear establishment see few incentives to agree to a fissile material cutoff at this time and may believe that even stockpile parity with India would leave Pakistan at a disadvantage.

    The second key reason that Pakistan faces weak incentives for a nuclear normalization deal with the international community is that, while remaining outside the bounds of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), Islamabad already has gained the benefits of civilian nuclear cooperation through deals with China. Notably, China, with which Pakistan also has long-standing economic and military ties, has pledged to construct two large nuclear power plants in Karachi, and deals for additional plants may well follow. China joined the NSG in 2004 and has justified its provision of nuclear equipment to Pakistan by claiming that it was “grandfathered” by earlier Chinese-Pakistani agreements. This is a tendentious reading of NSG guidelines, but neither China nor Pakistan has faced significant diplomatic or economic consequences for the growing civilian energy partnership. Pakistan quite rightly assumes that, as a practical matter, it does not need an NSG exception to realize the fruits of civilian nuclear cooperation and is unlikely to give up much to the United States to attain what it has already secured from China.

    As for the United States, there are a number of reasons to believe that the moment is not right for nuclear normalization with Pakistan. Over the last decade, two developments have colored the politics of such a decision. First, there is not a clear consensus about the value of the U.S.-Indian nuclear deal. Nonproliferation advocates continue to worry that the deal diluted the global nuclear order and the utility of the NPT. For their part, some advocates of the U.S.-Indian bilateral relationship are disappointed that the deal did not do more to bolster trade or widen security cooperation. In truth, it may be too soon to assess the long-term impact of the agreement. Nevertheless, the short-term political impact seems obvious: there is little appetite to expend the political capital necessary for another deal with a non-NPT state anytime soon.

    Second, the years since 2005 have been tumultuous for the U.S.-Pakistani relationship. As a result, the prevailing mood in the U.S. policy community is that inducements offered to Pakistan are fundamentally ineffective in shaping Pakistan’s behavior except in highly specific circumstances. The kinds of conditions that the U.S. Congress would likely want to see as part of a nuclear normalization deal—for example, long-overdue and targeted actions against extremist groups operating inside and outside of Pakistan—have proven over the last decade to be politically toxic to the bilateral relationship, difficult to verify, and easily evaded. Most U.S. policymakers have come to believe that if Pakistan wants to be recognized as a “normal” country, it must ultimately deal with its internal threats under its own initiative and in response to its own incentives, not under inducements tied to nuclear cooperation or conditional financial assistance.

    Where does all of this leave the prospects for a normalization deal? If Fitzpatrick is right and the greatest risks of Pakistan’s nuclear program are related to its growing arsenal and its arms race with India, then an agreement on a fissile material cutoff should be the minimum baseline condition required by the international community. At least in the near term, Pakistan is unlikely to agree even to this minimal condition, as evidenced by the hardening of its stance on FMCT negotiations. A deal might be viable if the United States had something compelling to offer, but it does not. China is already providing nuclear cooperation outside the scope of the NPT, and the nonmaterial benefits of international recognition of Pakistan’s nuclear status are too vague and fleeting to affect its strategic calculations at this time.

    Add India’s incentives to the mix, and the prospects for a deal of the kind Fitzpatrick proposes wane even further. Pakistan has made it clear that it will not agree to a fissile material cutoff or sign the CTBT without agreement by India to do the same. New Delhi has shown little enthusiasm for furthering Pakistan’s quest for nuclear legitimacy and must consider its strategic competition with China in any decision to permanently halt fissile material production or testing. Having already received an NSG exception, India is not inclined to support any carve-outs for Pakistan in the international nuclear regime.

    In short, Fitzpatrick’s proposal of a nuclear normalization deal for Pakistan is disappointingly unrealistic. Although his analysis is provocative, a more rigorous examination of the policy incentives—and the politics—would have pointed to the conclusion that a deal that could provide tangible benefits to Pakistan and the West almost certainly is unworkable, at least for now. Where Fitzpatrick gets it right is in highlighting the risks that continue to accrue from the strategic competition on the subcontinent.

    His book stands as a careful corrective to those who have focused on nuclear terrorism in Pakistan while downplaying the troubling implications of an accelerating arms race in South Asia. Until Pakistan is satisfied with the credibility of its deterrent against India—something that will happen only when it begins to re-evaluate its assumptions about internal and external threats—deals that offer little more than a generalized promise of nuclear recognition will continue to fall short.

    Joshua T. White is deputy director for the South Asia program at the Stimson Center. He served as senior adviser for Asian and Pacific security affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 2012 to 2013.


    1. The Henry J. Hyde United States-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act of 2006 conditioned India’s exemption from the requirements of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act on, among other conditions, India making progress toward concluding an additional protocol to its safeguards agreement, India creating a plan to separate its civilian nuclear facilities from military ones, India’s support for a fissile material cutoff treaty and efforts to halt the spread of sensitive nuclear technology, and consensus approval of the final agreement by the Nuclear Suppliers Group. India and the United States reached an agreement on the final text of the civilian nuclear deal in July 2007, and it was approved by Congress in the fall of 2008. See Paul K. Kerr, “U.S. Nuclear Cooperation With India: Issues for Congress,” CRS Report for Congress, RL33016, June 26, 2012.

    2. See Zia Mian and A.H. Nayyar, “Playing the Nuclear Game: Pakistan and the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty,” Arms Control Today, April 2010.

    In his new book, Mark Fitzpatrick rightly focuses on the accelerating arms race in South Asia as a larger threat than nuclear terrorism...

    Stopping Illicit Procurement: Lessons From Global Finance

    Andrew Kurzrok and Gretchen Hund

    A Hollywood, Florida, conference of specialists in preventing, detecting, and responding to money laundering might not seem to be the most likely spot for the next innovation in nuclear nonproliferation policymaking. Yet, a March speech by Jennifer Shasky Calvery, director of the Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), suggested an approach that regulators charged with stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons would do well to study.

    Shasky Calvery stated that “FinCEN needs to find ways for more dynamic, real-time information sharing, both by and between financial institutions, and with FinCEN and law enforcement.”[1] The information to which she was referring is transaction data related to money laundering that currently reside within banks, casinos, credit card processing companies, and many other types of financial businesses.

    Export control regulators could apply Shasky Calvery’s approach to their own mission. In the nonproliferation context, FinCEN’s anti-money laundering data would be analogous to the inquiries that potential buyers of dual-use commodities place over the phone or on commercial websites. Dual-use commodities have legitimate civilian applications, but can also be used to support nuclear weapons development. If a request appears suspicious, most firms will decline the request.

    Unlike their counterparts in the financial sector, however, export control regulators and private business have few tools with which to gather and disseminate this critical information about the networks illicitly seeking strategic commodities. Taking a page from the anti-money laundering playbook may help stop proliferation procurement.

    Information Sharing Today

    To evade detection, proliferators rarely seek sensitive technologies with obvious nuclear weapons applications, such as centrifuges for enriching uranium. Instead, they hunt for readily available raw materials, industrial tools, and laboratory instruments that they can assemble into the elements of a potential nuclear weapons program. This places the commercial marketplace, from metal distributors to oil and gas supply companies, squarely in proliferators’ crosshairs. Although export control laws exist to prevent such transfers, bad actors will go to great lengths to dupe well-meaning firms by hiding their true identities and motives.[2]

    Like money launderers, proliferators must interact with legitimate finance and trade systems and divulge to their commercial partners some relevant information about themselves or who they claim to be. In an effort to capitalize on this exchange of information, the Department of Commerce encourages firms to remain vigilant against weak cover stories such as a bakery requesting high-performance computers or a buyer seeking semiconductor manufacturing equipment when the destination country does not have an electronics industry.[3] The Commerce Department encourages suppliers to apply extra scrutiny if the buyer exhibits unusual behaviors, such as refusing a servicing plan (perhaps because the item will be resold) or paying cash for an item that typically requires financing.

    These warnings matter because proliferators regularly target the private sector. One alleged proliferator, in conversations with an undercover federal agent described in an indictment, purportedly sought at least 21 separate sensitive items from U.S. companies over a two-year span.[4] A major European parts manufacturer has reported instances of its many sales offices worldwide receiving identical quotation requests from a prospective buyer, presumably hoping that at least one office would fail to conduct the necessary due diligence.[5]

    alternate text

    Click image to enlarge.

    Although the private sector plays a central role in stopping proliferation, there is no requirement under U.S. law for firms that see suspicious behavior to report it to U.S. regulators or law enforcement. The Commerce Department invites but does not require information sharing, stating in its regulations that “[i]f a person learns that an export control violation of the [Export Administration Regulations] has occurred or may occur, that person may notify” the Office of Export Enforcement, which is in the department’s Bureau of Industry and Security.[6]

    To assist industry in reporting potential violations, the Commerce Department maintains a telephone tip line and an online submission capability. In addition, field agents from the Commerce Department conduct outreach visits to companies to introduce themselves as points of contact for questions and tips.[7] The bureau states that the information it gleans from industry is often the most helpful in pursuing cases.[8]

    Despite the government’s efforts to encourage information sharing, it does not always occur. In interviews, numerous industry officials said that they avoid cooperating proactively with the government. The officials take this position for business reasons. Today, there are no protections for a firm that files a tip, so alerting the government to suspicious activity may serve only to draw unwanted attention to the fact that the company has a potential proliferation supply risk. For many firms, simply ignoring an order rather than reporting it is an effective compromise that protects the company’s interests while providing some national security benefit.

    Unfortunately, discarded data are lost intelligence for government and corporate export control officials from other firms. Proliferators are rarely choosy; to succeed, they need just one supplier to fill an order. Nonproliferators, on the other hand, must defend successfully each time. Sometimes, it is only when the orders come together that a motive becomes clear. Although the purchase of any one item alone is likely ambiguous, a series of orders taken as a whole can suggest the motivation for procurement activities. Today, the lack of information sharing can make it difficult for industry or government to see the wider story.

    The Anti-Fraud Approach

    Efforts to stop financial fraud may offer a model for nonproliferation. Criminals such as narcotics traffickers and terrorism financiers need to move their funds without arousing suspicion.

    Money laundering refers to financial transactions that criminals conduct in an “attempt to disguise the proceeds, sources or nature of their illicit activities.”[9] According to FinCEN, money laundering “involves three steps: placement, layering and integration. First, the illegitimate funds are furtively introduced into the legitimate financial system. Then, the money is moved around to create confusion, sometimes by wiring or transferring through numerous accounts. Finally, it is integrated into the financial system through additional transactions until the ‘dirty money’ appears ‘clean.’”[10]

    Because money laundering requires at least the unwitting participation of financial institutions, the private sector often has the best perspective to identify illicit activity as it occurs. For example, internal transaction data enable banks to recognize indicators of potential money laundering, such as repeated transfers of large, round-number currency amounts or trade financing transactions that appear to have unnecessarily complex structures.[11]

    In the United States, the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 (BSA) is the primary piece of legislation to control money laundering. Despite its name, the BSA is relevant to a range of institutions that could be misused for illicit finance, including casinos, money-changing businesses, insurers, and dealers of precious metals and jewelry. A primary requirement of the BSA is that depository institutions must inform FinCEN about unusual transactions through suspicious activity reports (SARs). A report contains information about the institution filing the claim, biographical information about the suspect entity, and a narrative about why the transaction was suspicious. Submitters can include attachments with additional information about the transaction.

    FinCEN uses SARs and other reports required under the BSA to cue enforcement actions and analyze broad trends. Approximately every six months, FinCEN publishes a SAR Activity Review based on the aggregation of individual SAR submissions to highlight recent issues.

    One essential feature of the BSA is that financial institutions submitting SARs are immune from liability arising from the shared information. Because the reports, by definition, need only report on “suspicious” activity, it is nearly certain that some filings will discuss behavior that, although appearing to be illegal, is entirely benign. If the customer were to learn of the SAR, it could sue the filer for defamation or other injuries. The “safe harbor” provision, as the liability clause is commonly known, protects industry and ensures that firms are not punished for fulfilling their legal requirements.

    Although the combination of mandatory reporting with a safe harbor is powerful, it represents only one type of information sharing between industry and government. The 2001 PATRIOT Act added two new dimensions to the financial sector’s information-sharing tool kit. One provision of the act, section 314(a), enables law enforcement officers, through a secure online bulletin board maintained by FinCEN, to ask 22,000 financial institutions whether they have accounts or transactions related to suspects of terrorism and money laundering. This powerful querying capability simplifies what would otherwise be a nearly impossible task of engaging each institution individually. Also, a unified process simplifies responses for respondents. Rather than managing requests from many organizations, financial institutions receive a batch of requests from a single contact every two weeks.

    This cooperation appears to pay dividends. Forty percent of requests from law enforcement organizations receive at least one response from financial institutions. Of those requests with at least one response, law enforcement learns about an average of 8.4 bank accounts and 16.2 financial transactions related to the suspect.[12]

    The second information-sharing aspect authorized by the PATRIOT Act, Section 314(b), is perhaps more radical. The provision permits financial entities assisting in the preparation of SARs to share information related to suspicious activities. Any financial transaction has at least two parties, so sharing information helps the financial entities involved untangle the sometimes complex structures that money launderers use to hide their activities.

    For example, a money launderer might gamble at one casino with the winnings from another casino. “Cleaning” illicit funds through multiple locations makes following the money extremely difficult. If the two casinos work together to match the transactions, however, they may be able to unravel the laundering scheme. As with information shared with the government, a safe harbor provision protects firms that share information.[13]

    The combination of obligations and protections under the BSA and the PATRIOT Act gives financial regulators and institutions powerful tools to combat money laundering. Information can move legally and securely among all interested parties to ensure that all parties with a need to know are aware of suspicious activities and trends.

    Lessons for Nonproliferation

    The anti-money laundering model is a useful precedent for export control regulators and enforcement agents. Through a combination of law, regulation, and policy, financial companies can work together and with the government to identify suspicious activity.[14]

    A safe harbor from prosecution or civil liability may encourage commodity suppliers to be more forthcoming with tips. Although a safe harbor may reduce the number of opportunities for export enforcement agencies to pursue prosecutions, the value of the additional information for U.S. nonproliferation policy will likely outweigh that drawback.

    A rapid-response mechanism for law enforcement could also help the U.S. government quickly assess the scale of a proliferator’s procurement efforts. An efficient request-for-information process, particularly under circumstances in which a safe harbor encourages enhanced reporting of tips, could help law enforcement organizations. Because nonproliferation cases can take years to build, there is a risk that proliferators will continue their activities in ways that authorities cannot track.[15] By polling suppliers, the government would reduce the chances that additional exports would take place without being noticed.

    Better information analysis products could help this process. Some of the officials interviewed said they provide information to law enforcement, but expressed frustration that they did not know whether their tips were useful. Others struggled to understand the top proliferation challenges and how they could help.

    Although limited by the restrictions imposed by classification requirements and the confidentiality of ongoing investigations, government-published trend analysis would provide industry with valuable feedback about its support and ensure that it remains vigilant against the latest threats. FinCEN’s SAR Activity Reviews are a useful precedent of a regular, unclassified analytic product to help inform industry. Appropriate authors of this analysis might include the Commerce Department, the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations unit, or the interagency Export Enforcement Coordination Center.

    It is unclear whether the equivalent of a mandatory SAR is appropriate for suppliers of dual-use commodities. Generally, U.S. law does not obligate citizens to report crimes; alerting the police is considered a civic duty, not a legal one. In this light, the financial industry’s requirement to report suspicious activity is unusual. Although money laundering and proliferation both are crimes with significant impacts, some differences between them raise questions as to whether suspicious dual-use commodity requests should require similar reporting requirements.

    For example, financial institutions generally report on money laundering crimes potentially in progress, rather than the future crimes that could take place if a suspicious order were to be filled. Furthermore, unlike money laundering, proliferation procurement is a relatively specialized criminal enterprise that is prosecuted relatively infrequently. Congress, executive agencies, and industry would need to determine whether the nonproliferation benefits of increased information, particularly when coupled with limited liability, would outweigh the financial and civil liberty implications associated with mandatory reporting.

    Rules to govern how and under what circumstances businesses could share nonproliferation information among themselves might be valuable, although the principles from section 314(b) would likely need to be modified for the nonproliferation context. Because banking transactions are usually between two institutions on behalf of their clients, it is natural for the institutions to cooperate. In this way, both financial entities benefit from the pooled client information and thus better protect their own businesses from money laundering. Because vendors of dual-use commodities exist in a more complex supply chain, information sharing between two firms may not materially improve either firm’s understanding of the proliferation network. Proliferation requires many items; therefore, integrating information from many firms is most likely to help identify suspicious behaviors. A single point of contact, known as a third party, may enable firms to coordinate this information while managing antitrust risks.[16]

    Improving information sharing among U.S. law enforcement organizations and industry is an important first step. Because proliferators target suppliers from many countries, it will be important to consider whether companies and governments can securely share information internationally. Without the legislative safe-harbor protections that could be afforded as part of domestic sharing, companies may fear the liability implications of participating. Further, although law enforcement could handle any domestic misuse of shared information through prosecutions, the international recourses for data misuse are limited. If these challenges prove manageable, however, the resulting globally sourced information would have significant nonproliferation benefits.


    Stopping the illicit spread of nuclear weapons technologies requires global cooperation among governments and industry, particularly on information sharing. Currently, U.S. export regulations do not give suppliers an incentive to cooperate. Instead, doing the right thing and sharing suspicions can create perceived if not actual legal exposure for a company.

    With these dynamics, identifying models that can illuminate new approaches is beneficial. Because money laundering supports narcotics trafficking and terrorism, financial regulators and enforcement agents have developed strong tools to work with industry productively.

    More-effective information sharing will not cure all ills; procurement agents will continue to develop new approaches to circumvent or undermine nonproliferation efforts. Similarly, any proposal should not copy anti-money laundering rules directly into export control regulations. The dual-use commodity supply chain has unique considerations that must be taken into account.

    Implementing a new information-sharing approach will require champions within government and industry. Regulators could execute some elements of improved information sharing administratively, but a safe harbor would likely require congressional action. For any new activity, industry will need to provide input to ensure that any information-sharing proposal is feasible and provides benefits to the private sector.

    Results from the financial sector show that secure information sharing is possible and can help stop crimes. With the lessons from the banking sector in mind, it is worth thinking anew about how government and industry could better share information to stop nuclear crimes. A failure to do so would have consequences that go far beyond the financial ones.

    Andrew Kurzrok is a research scientist and Gretchen Hund is a senior scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington state. The views expressed are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of the laboratory or the U.S. Department of Energy.



    1. Jennifer Shasky Calvery, Remarks to the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists, March 18, 2014, http://www.fincen.gov/news_room/speech/pdf/20140318.pdf.

    2. See U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois, “Belgian Man Charged With Attempting to Illegally Export Aluminum Tubes to Malaysian Front for Individual in Iran,” October 30, 2013, http://www.justice.gov/usao/iln/pr/chicago/2013/pr1030_01.html; Office of Public Affairs, U.S. Department of Justice, “Iranian National Charged With Illegally Exporting Specialized Metals From the United States to Iran,” February 1, 2011, http://www.fbi.gov/charlotte/press-releases/2011/ce020111.htm; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, “3 Charged With Smuggling Technology to Iran,” January 13, 2010, http://www.ice.gov/news/releases/1001/100113losangeles.htm.

    3. Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), U.S. Department of Commerce, “Red Flag Indicators,” n.d., http://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/enforcement/oee/compliance/23-compliance-a-training/51-red-flag-indicators.

    4. United States of America v. Parviz Khaki and Zongcheng Yi, No. 12-cr-00061 (RWR), July 12, 2012, http://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/USDHSICE/2012/07/13/file_attachments/141298/Khaki%2B_Yi_Superseding_Indictment.pdf.

    5. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, “2011 Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference: Atoms for Peace; Transcript,” March 28, 2011, http://carnegieendowment.org/files/Atoms_for_Peace.pdf (remarks of Andreas Widl).

    6. Enforcement and Protective Measures, 15 C.F.R. 764 (2005).

    7. BIS, U.S. Department of Commerce, “Annual Report to the Congress for the Fiscal Year 2012,” n.d., p. 13, http://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/forms-documents/doc_view/683-bis-annual-report-fy-2012.

    8. BIS, U.S. Department of Commerce, “Reporting Violations Form,” n.d., http://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/component/rsform/form/14?task=forms.edit.

    9. U.S. Department of the Treasury, “Money Laundering,” n.d., http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/terrorist-illicit-finance/Pages/Money-Laundering.aspx.

    10. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), U.S. Department of the Treasury, “History of Anti-Money Laundering Laws,” n.d., http://www.fincen.gov/news_room/aml_history.html.

    11. For a list of money laundering “red flag” indicators, see Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, “Bank Secrecy Act Anti-Money Laundering Examination Manual; Appendix F: Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing ‘Red Flags,’” n.d., http://www.ffiec.gov/bsa_aml_infobase/pages_manual/OLM_106.htm. See also Sonia Ben Ouagrham-Gormley, “Banking on Nonproliferation: Improving the Implementation of Financial Sanctions,” The Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 19, No. 2 (July 2012): 241-265.

    12. FinCEN, U.S. Department of the Treasury, “FinCEN’s 314(a) Fact Sheet” April 1, 2014, http://www.fincen.gov/statutes_regs/patriot/pdf/314afactsheet.pdf.

    13. FinCEN, U.S. Department of the Treasury, “Section 314(b) Fact Sheet,” October 2013, http://www.fincen.gov/statutes_regs/patriot/pdf/314bfactsheet.pdf.

    14. FinCEN provisions may encourage financial institutions to share more information than required based on the logic that it is preferable to let the government sift through too much data rather than face a penalty for failing to disclose suspicious activity.

    15. During Khaki, for example, communications with an undercover agent spanned two years.

    16. A 2012 study by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory considered the legal issues associated with information sharing and found them manageable. See A.M. Seward, F.A. Morris, and A.J. Kurzrok, “A Nonproliferation Third Party for Dual-Use Industries—Legal Issues for Consideration,” PNNL-21908, October 2012.

    Results from the financial sector show that secure information sharing is possible and can help stop crimes. Officials working to thwart proliferation procurement should take a page from this playbook.

    Protocol to Central Asia Pact Signed

    Lance Garrison

    The five countries recognized by the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) as nuclear-weapon states pledged last month not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons in Central Asia by signing the protocol to the treaty that established that region as a zone free of such weapons.

    The five countries—China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—signed the protocol to the treaty May 6 at the United Nations on the sidelines of a preparatory meeting for the 2015 NPT Review Conference.

    The zone was established when the treaty entered into force on March 21, 2009. By signing the treaty at a Sept. 8, 2006, meeting in Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan, a former Soviet Union nuclear weapons test site, the parties—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan—agreed not to research, develop, or possess nuclear weapons on their territory. They also agreed to adopt an additional protocol to their respective safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency that would strengthen and broaden the agency’s ability to carry out inspections.

    The Central Asian nuclear-weapon-free zone is the only such zone that previously housed nuclear weapons; Kazakhstan transferred all of its nuclear weapons to Russia in the early 1990s.

    At the May 6 signing ceremony, Thomas Countryman, U.S. assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, called the protocol signing a “significant” step for nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament. Speaking for the Central Asian states at the ceremony, Kairat Abdrakhmanov, Kazakhstani ambassador to the United Nations, said the protocol “is an integral part of the treaty” and called the protocol signing a “historic event.” He said the zone was “the result of collective efforts of all five Central Asian states in their quest to provide security, stability, and peace in the region with a view to create the necessary conditions for the development and prosperity of their peoples.”

    A statement released by the press office of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the signing and reiterated Ban’s “strong support for the further establishment of nuclear­weapon-­free zones.”

    The five countries recognized by the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) as nuclear-weapon states pledged last month not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons in Central Asia...

    Iran Provides Detonator Details to IAEA

    Kelsey Davenport

    Iran provided the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with information about the country’s past development of a detonator that could be used as a trigger in nuclear weapons, the agency said last month in a quarterly report.

    The report also found that Iran is complying with the measures outlined in an interim agreement it reached Nov. 24 with six world powers that restricts its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.

    The “technical exchange” with the IAEA on the issues related to possible nuclear weapons development was the first since 2008, the May 23 report said.

    According to the report, Iran supplied information on its need for exploding bridge wire detonators and said that the tests were for civilian applications. Although the report did not specify the application, this type of detonator can be used in drilling for oil and gas.

    In the report, the IAEA said its assessment of the information that Iran provided is ongoing. The agency will need to evaluate all of the issues related to possible weapons development together as a “system,” the report said. Iran maintains that its nuclear program is entirely peaceful.

    Exploding bridge wire detonators were among the issues included in a November 2011 report to the IAEA Board of Governors in which the agency detailed its allegations of Iranian activities with possible relevance for developing nuclear weapons. (See ACT, December 2011.)

    Providing information on the detonators was one of seven actions that Iran on Feb. 9 had agreed to take by May 15 to further the agency’s investigations into unresolved IAEA concerns about Iran’s current nuclear program and past actions.

    The Feb. 9 announcement followed an agreement reached Nov. 11, in which Iran and the IAEA pledged to cooperate to “resolve all present and past issues.” (See ACT, December 2013.)

    The other actions Iran agreed to take during the February talks include providing the IAEA with access to the Saghand uranium mine and to Iran’s uranium-concentration plant for refining uranium ore; information on the heavy-water reactor at Arak, which is under construction; and access to a center that was used in the past for laser uranium-enrichment experiments.

    The May 23 IAEA report said that Iran completed these actions.

    Man Charged for Violating Iran Sanctions

    The U.S. Justice Department indicted a Chinese national April 28 for violating sanctions on Iran. The indictment’s seven counts include several for the sale of materials that could be used in Iran’s nuclear and missile programs.

    The charges against Li Fangwei, also known as Karl Lee, include using the U.S. financial system to facilitate the illegal transactions.

    The United States has imposed a wide range of sanctions that prohibit Iran from buying goods that could be used for its nuclear and missile programs. The sanctions are part of a broad effort by the United States and other countries, prompted in large part by concerns that Iran could choose to develop nuclear weapons. Additional sanctions are aimed at preventing any entity from using U.S. financial institutions for illicit business transactions with Iranian banks.

    According to an April 29 Justice Department press release, Li’s companies have conducted business totaling $8.5 million with Iranian entities since 2006. The release said Li is a “principal contributor to Iran’s ballistic missile program” and is a supplier of Iran’s Defense Industries Organization and Aerospace Industries Organization.

    Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in the press release that the allegations showed that Li used “subterfuge and deceit to continue to evade U.S. sanctions.”

    In 2009, Li was prohibited from doing business within the United States without a license from the Treasury Department after investigations concluded he was supplying Iran with banned items that could be used to develop weapons.

    According to the press release, Li never applied for a license, and the 2009 restriction forced him “to operate much of his business covertly.” Li developed a network of “China-based front companies to conceal his continuing participation” in activities that violate U.S. sanctions, the release said.

    The U.S. government has seized more than $6.8 billion from bank accounts attributed to Li’s front companies. In addition, the Treasury Department added eight of the companies to a list of entities that are blocked from doing business in the United States.

    Li is currently a fugitive, and the United States is offering a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest.—KELSEY DAVENPORT

      New Measures

      Iran and the IAEA have agreed on five new actions that Iran is to take by Aug. 25, according to a May 21 joint statement by Tehran and the agency. In one of the actions, Iran has pledged to give the IAEA information dealing with allegations that Iran conducted experiments with certain kinds of high explosives that could be relevant to nuclear weapons. Iran also said it would provide information on studies “in Iran in relation to neutron transport and associated modelling and calculations and their alleged application to compressed materials,” another area with direct relevance to nuclear weapons development.

      Under the other measures, Iran is to give the IAEA information on and access to a centrifuge research and development center and centrifuges assembly workshops and to reach agreement with the agency on the “safeguards approach” for the heavy-water reactor at Arak.

      The IAEA and Iran met May 5 to discuss safeguards for the Arak reactor after Iran provided the agency with updated information on the reactor’s design.

      Iran has said it intends to use the Arak reactor for making medical isotopes, but the international community is concerned about the weapons-grade plutonium the reactor will produce in its spent fuel.

      The May 23 report found that Iran is complying with the terms of the Nov. 24 Joint Plan of Action, an initial agreement reached between Iran and the so-called P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States). These countries are currently negotiating a comprehensive deal during the six-month implementation of the initial agreement, which ends July 20.

      One of the key provisions of the initial agreement deals with Iran’s stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 percent. Uranium refined to that level is more easily enriched further to weapons grade than if it begins as reactor-grade uranium, which is enriched to less than 5 percent.

      As part of the Nov. 24 deal, Iran agreed to dilute half of its stockpile of 20 percent-enriched uranium to an enrichment level of less than 5 percent. The May report confirmed that Iran had completed this dilution as required by April 20.

      The remaining half of the 20 percent-enriched uranium is to be converted to a powder form that can be used to make fuel plates for the Tehran Research Reactor, which produces medical isotopes.

      The IAEA reported that Iran had converted about 67 kilograms as of May 19 and that about 38 kilograms remained to be converted before July 20.

      Talks Continue

      Iran and the P5+1 met again May 13-16 in Vienna to continue negotiations and begin drafting the comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.

      In a press conference after the talks, Iran’s deputy chief negotiator, Seyed Abbas Araqchi, said that there was a good “atmosphere” during the talks but that progress is slow and there is “much difficulty.”

      This meeting was preceded by three rounds of talks in February, March, and April, during which both sides laid out their positions.

      A senior U.S. official said during a May 16 press briefing that the talks have entered the “drafting and negotiating phase,” which both sides knew would be difficult. The official said that there are “significant gaps” between the positions of the two sides.

      A European diplomat familiar with the talks said in a May 20 interview that the size of Iran’s uranium-enrichment program will be “one of the more difficult areas [on which] to find compromise” because the sides remain “very far apart in their assessments of Iran’s fuel needs.”

      Under the interim agreement that Iran and the P5+1 reached in November, Iran’s uranium-enrichment program has been frozen at its current levels for six months. The interim agreement says the program should be defined in the comprehensive agreement by Iran’s “practical needs.” (See ACT, December 2013.)

      Iranian officials define “practical needs” as including the projected needs of Iran’s current and future nuclear power plants, so they are pushing to increase Iran’s capacity to enrich uranium over the next decade.

      Iran currently has one nuclear power plant, Bushehr, for which Russia is supplying the fuel under an initial contract that runs until 2021. Tehran has said it plans to build as many as 20 additional power reactors over the coming years.

      Reuters reported May 15 that a senior Iranian official said Iran would need 100,000 IR-1 centrifuges to produce enough fuel for each plant. Under the interim deal, Iran is currently operating about 10,200 IR-1 centrifuges. The IR-1 centrifuge is Iran’s first-generation model. Tehran is testing more-advanced models.

      The P5+1 “will not accept a 100,000-centrifuge uranium-enrichment program in the earlier phases of the deal,” the European diplomat said.

      The P5+1 has not made any public statements regarding the ideal size of Iran’s centrifuge program under the comprehensive agreement, but independent experts say that the P5+1 is likely to ask for reductions in the current number of operating centrifuges.

      In contrast to the three previous rounds of talks, the two sides did not issue a joint statement after the May talks.

      The diplomat said that the lack of a statement should not be seen as a “negative indication.” Deciding on a joint text for a statement was “not a priority” during the discussions because all sides are committed to reaching a deal, he said.

      During the May 16 briefing, the senior U.S. official said that the parties are “concerned about the amount of time left” but that all parties believe an agreement can be reached by the July 20 expiration of the interim agreement. That accord can be extended for six months if all the parties agree.

      Iran provided the International Atomic Energy Agency with details on a detonator that could be used as a trigger in nuclear weapons, the agency said in a report.

      Stage Set for 2015 NPT Review Conference

      Tom Z. Collina, Lance Garrison, and Daniel Horner

      Meeting for the final time before their review conference next spring, parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) gathered for two weeks at the United Nations, but were unable to adopt a common set of recommendations. This outcome could serve as a preview for the 2015 review conference, where disagreements are expected about the pace of nuclear disarmament efforts.

      Enrique Román-Morey of Peru, who chaired the April 28-May 9 preparatory meeting, was unable to bridge differences and produce a consensus report on recommendations for the 2015 conference. At a May 9 press conference after the meeting ended, Román-Morey said agreement was not possible because there was not enough time to resolve key issues, such as the pace of disarmament by the nuclear-weapon states and the establishment of a Middle Eastern zone free of weapons of mass destruction.

      The 2010 NPT Review Conference called for a meeting on a Middle Eastern zone by 2012. Although consultations are ongoing, the meeting has not taken place. In a report to the NPT preparatory meeting, the meeting facilitator, Finnish diplomat Jaakko Laajava, said that the participants demonstrated in the consultations their “readiness to engage, their desire to make progress and their open and constructive approach.” Nevertheless, “divergent views persist regarding important aspects” of the conference, he wrote.

      Mootaz Ahmadein Khalil of Egypt said April 28 that if the meeting is not held, “no progress” on the zone “or on any other issue can be realized.” Egypt has been a primary supporter of the zone.

      Román-Morey said too many nuclear weapons remain in the hands of the five countries that the treaty recognizes as nuclear-weapon states, and he urged those countries to “disarm in a more verifiable and transparent way than they are showing us.”

      Those states—China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—say that they are moving toward nuclear disarmament as fast as they can.

      Rose Gottemoeller, U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, said April 29 at the UN that the number of nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal was 4,804 as of September 2013, representing an 85 percent reduction in the U.S. nuclear stockpile since 1967. “It is indisputable that progress toward the NPT’s disarmament goals is being made,” she said.

      “Is it enough? No, and the president said we want to get to zero,” Gottemoeller said May 9 to the Defense Writers Group. “It’s going to take time; it’s going to take hard work.”

      No President Named

      One action that NPT parties typically take at the last preparatory meeting before the review conference is the naming of the president for the review conference, but they did not do that at the recent meeting. Under the regional rotation used for such assignments, the president for next year’s review conference should be from Africa, but no African candidates have emerged, according to sources involved in the meeting.

      Asked if the lack of candidates indicated pessimism about the review conference, a western European official acknowledged in a May 28 e-mail to Arms Control Today that some of the “obvious” candidates from Africa “are not exactly rushing forward.” That is partly “an indication [of] the expectation [of] how much glory could be gained in 2015,” the official said.

      But he also said the lack of African candidates is an issue that has come up “in other similar processes.” He cautioned against “overinterpret[ing]” this result of the preparatory meeting.

      Progress Reports

      At the NPT review conferences, which take place every five years, the member states often have failed to achieve consensus on a final document. The main disagreements have occurred between states with nuclear weapons and those without them. Article VI of the treaty calls on all states to “pursue negotiations” on “effective measures” related to halting the nuclear arms race and to nuclear disarmament, but no time frame is specified. This ambiguity has created a growing divide between nuclear-weapon states, which say they are making good progress, and non-nuclear-weapon states, which say the pace is too slow.

      In an attempt to hold the five nuclear-weapon states accountable to their commitments, the final document from the 2010 review conference called on these states to report on their progress in getting rid of nuclear weapons and preventing their use. At the preparatory meeting, each of the five states submitted a progress report, which they had shared with one another in Beijing in April. (See ACT, May 2014.)

      Taken together, these reports highlight that one of the challenges ahead for disarmament efforts is that the nuclear-weapon states do not always agree on how to proceed.

      The United States says in its report that its policy is “to achieve the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons, in line with our NPT commitments,” through a “step-by-step approach.” As a next step, Washington “is prepared to negotiate further nuclear reductions with Russia of up to one-third in the deployed strategic warhead levels” established in the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), as President Barack Obama stated in Berlin last year. (See ACT, July/August 2013.)

      The U.S. report also says that the United States “remains open to seeking negotiated reductions with Russia in all categories of nuclear weapons,” including strategic and nonstrategic weapons.

      Russia rejects bilateral negotiations in its report, saying that U.S. and Russian efforts “are no longer sufficient for further progress towards nuclear disarmament,” suggesting that the other NPT nuclear-weapon states need to be involved. In addition, the Russian report says that “it would remain difficult” to eliminate nuclear weapons “if the process is confined to only” the five NPT nuclear-weapon states, meaning that India, Israel, North Korea, and Pakistan might need to be involved as well.

      Russia’s report states that Moscow “stands ready to further pursue verifiable and irreversible limitation of nuclear weapons in compliance with its obligations under Article VI of the NPT.” At the same time, Russia “reserves the right” to use nuclear weapons in response to nuclear and other nonconventional weapons, as well as against conventional weapons, “when the very existence of the State is under threat.”

      China, whose nuclear arsenal is a fraction of the size of the U.S. or Russian stockpile, says in its report that the countries “possessing the largest nuclear arsenals bear a special responsibility for nuclear disarmament and should take the lead in reducing their nuclear arsenals drastically,” meaning that the United States and Russia need to make further cuts in the size of their arsenals before asking China to join in. Beijing also says in its report that it supports a treaty on “mutual no-first-use of nuclear weapons,” the only NPT nuclear-weapon state to do so.

      All five states support the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which China, the United States, and six other key countries have not ratified, thereby preventing the treaty from entering into force. The states also back conclusion of a fissile material cutoff treaty, the negotiation of which has been blocked by Pakistan at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

      ‘Little Significant Progress’

      Many non-nuclear-weapon states said they were unimpressed by the progress reports and rejected the step-by-step approach as too slow.

      Alexander Kmentt of Austria said May 2 that the five reports reflect “little significant progress on nuclear disarmament” since the 2010 review conference reaffirmed commitments toward a world without nuclear weapons.

      Countries pressing for progress on disarmament are supporting a series of conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons use. The first two conferences took place in Norway in March 2013 and Mexico in February of this year; a third is to be held December 8-9 in Austria.

      The nuclear-weapon states have jointly boycotted the humanitarian conferences, with some of them expressing concern that the events could become a forum to build support for a treaty to eliminate nuclear weapons outright. In a sign of growing support for such a ban, the UN’s disarmament committee in New York passed a resolution last November with the support of 129 states calling for the “urgent” start of multilateral negotiations to eliminate nuclear weapons and designating Sept. 26 as the international day for their “total elimination.” (See ACT, December 2013.)

      In her April 29 remarks, Gottemoeller said that “[t]he United States’ deep understanding of the consequences of nuclear weapons use, including the devastating health effects, has guided and motivated our efforts to reduce and ultimately eliminate these most hazardous weapons.”

      In a recent interview with The Asahi Shimbun, she said that Washington does “not support the notion of a nuclear ban treaty,” but continues to back the step-by-step process for the weapons’ elimination.

      Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty members met in New York, but disagreed on disarmament steps and other issues, setting up a possible showdown at the treaty’s review conference one year from now.

      N. Korea Has Nuclear Missile, Expert Says

      Kelsey Davenport

      North Korea probably can make nuclear warheads that are small enough to fit on its ballistic missiles, and activities at its nuclear test site and satellite launch facility likely indicate that Pyongyang is planning further tests to continue improving its nuclear arsenal, a former South Korean official said last month.

      In a May 19 interview, the former official said that Pyongyang can “likely fit a nuclear warhead on a Rodong missile” although it is not certain that the warhead would detonate properly.

      The medium-range Rodong missile, also known as the Nodong, is a deployed system with a range of 1,300 kilometers. This places South Korea, Japan, and parts of China within its range.

      Experts have expressed skepticism in the past about North Korea’s ability to deliver a nuclear warhead via a missile, but that sentiment apparently is beginning to shift.

      The former official said his opinion was based on recent North Korean statements and actions, including a February 2013 nuclear test and two Nodong missile tests in March.

      But he cautioned against the assumption that North Korea has deliverable nuclear warheads.

      When delivered via ballistic missile, nuclear warheads must survive re-entry into the atmosphere, a process that is difficult to perfect even with “advanced resources and technology,” which North Korea does not have, the official said.

      One of the key difficulties in delivering a nuclear warhead via a missile is making it small enough to fit. The process of making a nuclear device compact enough for delivery is often referred to as miniaturization.

      North Korea conducted nuclear tests in October 2006, May 2009, and February 2013. (See ACT, March 2013.) After the 2013 test, North Korea said the device was “smaller and lighter” than past devices. Partly on the basis of that statement, some experts thought that the 2013 test might have used a miniaturized warhead. No public evidence of such a capability has emerged since then.

      According to a U.S. intelligence assessment released in January, Pyongyang’s “employment concepts”—the ways in which it would use nuclear weapons—are unknown.

      Pyongyang is thought to have four to 10 nuclear weapons that are plutonium based. Last year, it restarted a reactor that produces plutonium that could be separated for additional weapons. (See ACT, October 2013.) North Korea also possesses uranium-enrichment technology, giving it another potential route to making nuclear weapons, but it is unclear how much highly enriched uranium, if any, it has produced.

      According to experts, satellite imagery of the Yongbyon nuclear test site shows continued activity indicative of preparations for another test. North Korea announced in March that it is considering a “new form” of nuclear test, but did not give specifics as to the meaning of that term or the timing of the test. (See ACT, May 2014.)

      In an May 13 article posted on 38 North, a website run by the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, Nick Hansen and Jack Liu wrote that activities at the Punggye-ri test facility indicate that a fourth nuclear test is not imminent, despite speculation to the contrary.

      According to Hansen and Liu’s analysis of satellite imagery, activity in the West Portal area of the site shows continued excavation of a test tunnel. Workers also appear to be widening a road leading to the tunnel portal, Hansen and Liu said. If a test were imminent, North Korea would need to seal the tunnel.

      The two analysts wrote that if a test was imminent, there would be a “high level of activity” in the site’s Main Support Area, which has a key role in preparing for a nuclear test. The current activities “seem consistent with those needed for routine maintenance,” Hansen and Liu said.

      They also said activity is evident at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in northwest North Korea.

      In a May 20 piece, the analysts wrote that recent satellite images show construction projects at the Sohae site that could be intended for mobile launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). They concluded that it is “too soon to make a definitive judgment” on the purpose of these projects, but noted several developments consistent with the hypothesis that North Korea is planning to test ICBMs at the site.

      North Korea has displayed mock-ups of an ICBM known as the KN-08, or Hwasong-13, in several military parades dating back to April 2012.

      According to Hansen and Liu, construction of a “circular facility with a diameter of 50 meters” could be a launch pad for a mobile missile such as the KN-08. The presence of a new reinforced concrete road connecting the possible launch pad to the missile assembly building at the site supports the hypothesis that North Korea is building a mobile launch pad for ICBM tests, they said.

      The analysts said that this hypothesis is also supported by evidence of “ongoing KN-08 engine tests” at the Sohae facility.

      The January U.S. intelligence report said that North Korea has “already taken initial steps” toward fielding the KN-08 but it remains untested.

      North Korea can likely fit nuclear warheads on its ballistic missiles, according to a former South Korean official.

      Removal of Syrian Chemicals Stalls

      Daniel Horner

      The effort to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons program made little visible progress in May as none of the chemical weapons materials remaining in Syria were shipped out of the country for destruction.

      Also last month, a team from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) investigating allegations of chlorine attacks in Syria had to turn back from the site it was investigating and return to Damascus after it came under assault.

      Under a schedule set last November by the OPCW Executive Council, the highest-priority chemicals among Syria’s declared stockpile of 1,300 metric tons were to be shipped out of the country by Dec. 31 for destruction elsewhere. Most lower-priority materials were to be out by Feb. 5, and Syria was to destroy the rest of the material domestically.

      Syria, which is responsible for collecting the chemicals from sites across the country and bringing them to its Mediterranean port of Latakia, missed the Feb. 5 deadline and a new deadline of April 27. In the run-up to the latter date, Syria increased the flow of materials to Latakia, with the last shipment taking place April 24.

      According to a May 23 report by OPCW Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü to the Executive Council, 92.0 percent of the declared chemicals to be destroyed outside Syria have left the country. That figure comprises more than 96.5 percent of the highest-priority chemicals and 81.1 percent of lower-priority chemicals, the report said. That leaves about 100 metric tons to be removed and destroyed.

      Syria also possessed approximately 120 metric tons of isopropanol, which it was to destroy domestically. The UN-OPCW joint mission overseeing the Syrian chemical disarmament mission said in a May 20 press release that this part of the effort had been completed.

      Under a timetable set last September by the OPCW Executive Council and the UN Security Council, the Syrian chemical stockpile is to be destroyed by June 30. Once out of Syria, most of the highest-priority chemicals are to be handed over to the MV Cape Ray, a U.S. vessel carrying two mobile units that will neutralize the chemicals while the ship is in international waters.

      Under the agreed arrangements, the Cape Ray will not begin its work until all the chemicals are out of Syria. U.S. officials have indicated that the neutralization process is expected to take roughly two to three months.

      Unofficial observers have said for months that the delays in removing the Syrian material are making the June 30 deadline increasingly unrealistic. In a May 23 letter delivering his monthly report on the Syrian chemical disarmament to the UN Security Council, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that “it is now evident” that “some activities” related to that effort will continue beyond June 30. That appears to be the most explicit official acknowledgment to date that the deadline will not be met.

      Ban said he anticipated that the OPCW-UN joint mission would “continue its work for a finite period of time” beyond that date. During that period, “most” of the remaining weapons elimination activities should be completed, and “successor arrangements” can be put in place, he said.

      According to Üzümcü’s report, the remaining Syrian chemical agents are at a single site near Damascus. Independent chemical weapons expert Jean Pascal Zanders, in a May 26 posting on his blog The Trench, identified the site as the Al Sin facility.

      In his report, Ban said Syria “had long before informed the Joint Mission that it did not have full security control” at the remaining site because of the strong presence of the forces that have been battling the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the past three years. In late April, the Syrian authorities reported that the rebels had “expanded their presence in the area, rendering the remaining active storage facility inaccessible by road,” Ban said.

      The joint mission provided funding for Syria to charter an aircraft to bring in supplies for completing the destruction of the isopropanol and “finaliz[ing] necessary preparations for the eventual transportation” of the other chemicals to Latakia, Ban said.

      Meanwhile, a vehicle carrying an OPCW team to the Syrian town of Kafr Zita on May 27 to investigate allegations of chlorine use was struck by an improvised explosive device, the OPCW said in a May 28 press release adding details to its initial report the previous day. The people in that vehicle transferred to two other vehicles in the convoy, but those later were ambushed, the release said.

      Ultimately, the team members were released following the “intervention of the main opposition group with whom the ceasefire and security arrangements had been negotiated,” the statement said. The team members, who are “safe and well,” returned to Damascus under Syrian government escort, the release said.

      Kafr Zita is in rebel-held territory. The Syrian government and the rebels have charged each other with launching a chemical attack in the area in April.

      The OPCW press release characterized the assault on its team as a “blatant attempt to prevent the facts [from] being brought to light,” but did not identify either side as the attacker.

      More than a month after a revised deadline, Syria still has about 100 metric tons of chemical weapons material to be sent out of the country for destruction.

      Autonomous Weapons Stir Geneva Debate

      Jefferson Morley

      The first multinational conference dedicated exclusively to robotic warfare took place May 13-16 at the UN Office at Geneva as governments around the world confront the emerging technologies that policymakers call “lethal autonomous weapons systems” and headline writers have dubbed “killer robots.”

      The three-day meeting featured diplomats, scholars, and activists debating the implications of new weapons that could automatically target and kill people without human control. Although few such weapons exist now, revolutionary developments in sensors and robotics have stoked fears in some quarters that these weapons systems could make warfare less risky for the attacker and therefore more indiscriminate, but raised hopes in others that they might reduce civilian casualties.

      “Delegations underlined the fact that this meeting had contributed to forming common understandings, but that questions still remained,” Jean-Hugues Simon-Michel of France, who chaired the meeting, said in his report. “Many delegations expressed the view that the process should be continued.”

      Representatives from 87 countries and a dozen civil society groups attended the conclave amid high media interest. Multiple news outlets reported on the meeting of the parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), which bans weapons such as blinding lasers.

      The result of the Geneva meeting was a mixture of urgency and uncertainty among the 100-plus attendees.

      “All too often, international law only responds to atrocities and suffering” after they have happened, Michael Møller, acting director-general of the UN Office, said in welcoming the conference participants, “You have the opportunity to take pre-emptive action and ensure that the decision to end life remains firmly under human control.”

      Five states—Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Pakistan, and the Vatican—submitted statements calling for a ban on the lethal autonomous systems. “Experiences have shown that it is best to ban a weapon system that is deemed excessively injurious or has an indiscriminate effect before it is being deployed [rather] than afterwards,” said Walid Abdelnasser, head of the Egyptian delegation, in Egypt’s statement.

      That call was echoed by most of the civil society organizations in attendance, including the Nobel Women’s Initiative, which submitted an open letter signed by 20 Nobel Peace Prize winners endorsing a ban.

      U.S. officials said talk of a ban or any other specific policy measure was “premature” and often based on an inaccurate conception of the weapons involved.

      “Too often the phrase [‘lethal autonomous weapons systems’] appears still to evoke the idea of a humanoid machine independently selecting targets for engagement and operating in a dynamic and complex urban environment,” Stephen Townley, the State Department official who headed the eight-person U.S. delegation, said in his opening statement. “But that is a far cry from what we should be focusing on, which is the likely trajectory of technological development, not images from popular culture.”

      Mary Cummings, director of the Humans and Autonomy Lab at Duke University, also called for “a debate based on facts, not fear.” In a May 21 interview, she emphasized the need for a “much better understanding of the technology.”

      ‘Meaningful Human Control’

      “We are beginning to develop a shared understanding internationally regarding the issues surrounding this new class of weapons,” said Ron Arkin, a roboticist from the Georgia Institute of Technology, in a May 19 e-mail. Nevertheless, he said, “[t]here remains a long way to go even in terms of shared definitions and terminology regarding autonomy and ‘meaningful human control,’” a concept endorsed by many delegations as a prerequisite for any lethal weapon.

      In two sessions on international law, experts debated whether existing legal instruments could control new kinds of weapons.

      “Many states recognized that existing international law, including international humanitarian law, already provides a robust framework for dealing with new weapon technologies, even if autonomous weapons—like many new technologies—pose some challenges,” Matthew Waxman, an official in the George W. Bush administration, said in a May 19 e-mail. Waxman, a law professor at Columbia University, spoke at the Geneva meeting.

      Christof Heyns, a South African jurist who serves as UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, argued that new legal concepts will be necessary. Heyns’ April 2013 report to the United Nations on lethal autonomous weapons called for a moratorium on such weapons, after which civil society groups urged the parties to the CCW to convene the informal experts meeting in Geneva.

      “I think there was a lot of interest at the meeting in the notion that it will be necessary to ensure that humans retain meaningful human control over each attack, and this concept—in addition to other concepts—has to be developed further,” Heyns said in a May 21 e-mail.

      Stephen Goose, director of Human Rights Watch’s arms division, welcomed the emphasis on meaningful human control, saying in a May 20 interview that it represented a step toward expanding the CCW to cover lethal autonomous systems. But in a May 21 e-mail, a U.S. official countered, “It is premature to consider where the discussions may be leading.”

      The debate about robotic weapons will continue in November when the parties to the CCW will decide at their annual meeting in Geneva whether to renew the mandate to study the issue in 2015.

      “The interest shown in Geneva shows that killer robots need to go to top of the arms control and disarmament agenda,” Goose said.

      The first UN meeting on robotic weapons triggers widespread interest and growing debate about technologies that could kill without human control.


      Subscribe to RSS - June 2014