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"I want to thank the Arms Control Association … for being such effective advocates for sensible policies to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and most importantly, reduce the risk of nuclear war."
– Senator Joe Biden
January 28, 2004
July/August 2014
Edition Date: 
Thursday, July 3, 2014
Cover Image: 

Assessing a Nuclear Deal With Iran

Daryl G. Kimball

This month, top diplomats from Iran and six world powers have a historic opportunity to seal a long-sought, long-term comprehensive deal that guards against a nuclear-armed Iran and helps avoid a future military confrontation over its nuclear program.

The negotiation is one of the most important and complex nuclear negotiations in recent decades. Nevertheless, for the United States and the other members of the six-country group (China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom), which is known as the P5+1, the goals are straightforward:

  • Establish verifiable limits on Iran’s uranium-enrichment and plutonium-production capacity that substantially increase the time it would take for Iran to break out of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and try to build nuclear weapons.
  • Increase the international community’s ability to promptly detect and disrupt any future effort by Iran to build nuclear weapons, including at potential undeclared sites.
  • Decrease Iran’s incentives to enhance its nuclear capacity through nuclear fuel-supply guarantees and phased sanctions relief.

Such an agreement, on balance, would significantly improve U.S. and international security.

Negotiators have made progress in some areas, but gaps remain on key issues. Most importantly, they must still find a formula that would reduce Iran’s capacity to enrich uranium sufficiently to guard against an effort to develop nuclear weapons quickly while providing options for fueling Iran’s peaceful nuclear research and power reactors in the future.

Although the two sides are still talking tough, they can and must find win-win solutions. As explained in the pages of Arms Control Today and in the new Arms Control Association report, “Solving the Iranian Nuclear Puzzle,” there is a range of creative, practical options.

Neither side can achieve everything it wants, but with creativity and compromise, each side can advance its core security and political interests.

Even if a nuclear agreement is concluded by the July 20 target date, the drama will not be over. There must be sufficient domestic support in Iran and in the United States to sustain implementation in the years ahead.

Inevitably, some will complain that the nuclear deal does not address human rights concerns, eliminate Iran’s ballistic missile program, or put an end to Iranian support for terrorism. No, it will not, but that is not the goal of these negotiations.

Some may say the deal falls short of their expectations for limiting Iran’s nuclear potential in one area or another. Any agreement that is struck between the P5+1 and Iran should not be evaluated on the basis of any single feature. Instead, it should be judged on its overall impact on reducing Iran’s nuclear capacity and improving capabilities to detect any ongoing or future Iranian weapons program.

Some will argue that, with additional, tougher sanctions, Iran could be coerced to limit its nuclear program even further. Such thinking is naïve and dangerous. Although the nuclear talks may be extended beyond the July 20 target date to resolve remaining issues, efforts to coerce Iranian leaders to make further concessions will likely backfire.

In the final analysis, serious policymakers in Washington and other capitals must consider whether their country is better off with a comprehensive nuclear agreement than without one. They must consider the results of failing to reach a comprehensive nuclear agreement:

  • There would be no constraints on Iran’s enrichment capacity. Iran could resume enriching uranium to higher levels and increase its stockpiles of enriched uranium. The time required for Iran to produce enough material for nuclear weapons would decrease.
  • Inspections of Iranian facilities would likely continue, but would not be expanded to cover undeclared sites and activities, which would be the most likely pathway to build nuclear weapons if Iran chose to do so.
  • Sanctions would remain in effect, and some might be strengthened. Sanctions alone, however, cannot halt Iran’s nuclear progress. Eventually, the willingness of international allies to help implement those sanctions could erode.

Although Iran would still have to overcome significant hurdles to try to build nuclear weapons, such an effort would likely increase the possibility over time of a military confrontation. Yet, even Israeli leaders know that military strikes are not a solution. Such an attack would only delay, not destroy, Iran’s nuclear program and, at worst, would lead to a wider conflict that could push Iran to openly pursue nuclear weapons. Israel would be far less secure.

Some say that “no deal is better than a bad deal.” But it is clear that a good deal is better than no deal, and such a deal is within reach. Those who seek to block an effective agreement have a responsibility to present a viable alternative or take responsibility for its rejection.

This month, top diplomats from Iran and the P5+1 have a historic opportunity to seal a long-sought, long-term comprehensive deal that guards against a nuclear-armed Iran and helps avoid a future military confrontation over its nuclear program.

Getting to Know Tun Channareth

“Getting to Know” is an occasional series that introduces Arms Control Today readers to interesting people active in the world of arms control.

In 1982, Tun Channareth was a young soldier serving as a sentry for the Vietnamese army, which was fighting Khmer Rouge forces in his native Cambodia, when he stepped on a Russian-made landmine. It blew off both his legs. Fifteen years later, in December 1997, Channareth accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Today, he runs a workshop that builds wheelchairs and works as a traveling ambassador for the organization. Fifteen years after the Mine Ban Treaty’s entry into force, Reth, as he is known to all, is one of the world’s best-known campaigners against landmines.

Arms Control Today caught up with him by phone April 3 at his home in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The interview, conducted by Jefferson Morley, has been edited for length and clarity.

How did you get involved in the landmine campaign?

In 1982, I lost both my legs when I stepped on a landmine along the border of Cambodia and Thailand. Afterwards, I just wanted to die. One day, a doctor came close to me to give advice. He told me I had to build a new life…. I didn’t want to listen at all. In 1985, I had my second child. One night she said, “Daddy, please give me money to buy something to eat. All the people in the neighborhood village, they have family. Their parents give them money everyday.” Her speech made me cry. So I started to look for a way to make money. I went to [the Catholic Office for Emergency Relief and Refugees], and I trained there. I started cleaning and repairing typewriters. I learned welding. In 1993, I started making wheelchairs. I began working with Sister Denise Coghlan at the Jesuit Service Cambodia, and she encouraged me to travel abroad, to speak to people about the damage that landmines had done to me. So I told them about all the other people in Cambodia who are like me, whose lives are affected by landmines.

When did you know that this kind of work was what you wanted to do with your life?

It was around 1996, I think. I had two jobs. One, I was still working with the people with disabilities in Cambodia. I thought all the time about their lives, how to help them to get better. I also worked at the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. When they received the Nobel Prize, I started to understand that this job is very important.

When you were a young man, did you ever think you would travel around the world?

Never. Never. Never.

What is the best part of this work for you?

Working with the people with disabilities. I’d like to ask every donor to please help. They are still hungry. They still suffer. I want to help them get better…. They need help. They need clean water. They need toilets. They need education. They need health care centers because their health care center is so far from them.

Do you think your work is having an impact?

I do. In 1993, there were 10 million anti-personnel landmines in the ground [in Cambodia]. Today, things are much better because of the treaty. We still have 4 million in the ground along the Cambodia-Thailand border, the Vietnam border, and so on. They can remove them soon if they have funds. I think they could finish in four years, in five years; [it] depends on the funds.

What do you tell a young person who wants to do this kind of work?

One, I need them to ban the landmines from Iraq. Two, push their government if they don’t sign the treaty. Push them to join the treaties to ban landmines and cluster munitions.

Are you happy now?

I’m really happy. The Cambodian people are always giving. I am smiling at everyone. My life really changed.

The anti-landmine campaigner describes how he became an activist and reflects on his work.

Nuclear Costs Undercounted, GAO Says

Tom Z. Collina

By leaving out major Air Force nuclear missile and bomber modernization programs, the Obama administration underestimated by tens of billions of dollars the amount of money the U.S. government will spend on its nuclear arsenal over the next decade, according to a June report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, reviewed a July 15, 2013, joint report by the Defense Department and the Energy Department’s semiautonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which estimated the two agencies would spend $263 billion on nuclear weapons from fiscal year 2014 to 2023, including $125 billion for nuclear delivery systems (missiles, bombers, and submarines), $97 billion for nuclear warheads and production plants, and $41 billion for nuclear command-and-control systems.

The GAO found that the Pentagon’s $125 billion estimate for delivery systems had the largest discrepancy as it did not include costs for Air Force plans to buy a new fleet of long-range bombers and modernize its fleet of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). “Rather than provide potential budget estimates, [the Defense Department] treated these efforts as zero-cost over the ten-year period of the report,” the GAO said.

Air Force officials, the GAO reported, said that it would be premature to include cost estimates for programs that are in early stages of development because long-term costs are uncertain. The GAO suggested that agencies could include a range of estimates based on available information.

The costs for these Air Force programs would be significant, according to recent estimates. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated in 2013 that the new bomber would cost $32 billion over the next decade, and the Air Force itself estimated that total production, covering a longer period of time, would cost about $55 billion for up to 100 planes, not including development costs.

For ICBMs, a RAND Corporation report earlier this year found that modernizing the planned 400 Minuteman III missiles in silos would cost $1.6-2.3 billion per year, or $60-90 billion over a 39-year life cycle. In comparison, building a new silo-based ICBM would cost $84-$125 billion, and a rail- or road-mobile version would cost $124-$219 billion, RAND found.

A December 2013 CBO report, which included these Air Force programs as well as projected cost growth, estimated that spending related to nuclear weapons would total $355 billion over 10 years, $91 billion more than the administration’s estimate.

By leaving out major Air Force nuclear missile and bomber modernization programs, the Obama administration underestimated by tens of billions of dollars the amount of money...

ATT Moves Closer to Entry Into Force

Jefferson Morley and Daniel Horner

Nine more states ratified the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) in June, bringing the total number of ratifications to 41.

That leaves the treaty needing nine more for the 50 required for entry into force. Eight countries—Australia, Austria, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Jamaica, Luxembourg, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Samoa—deposited their instruments of ratification in a ceremony at the United Nations on June 3, the first anniversary of the ATT’s opening for signature. Sweden ratified the treaty on June 16.

The UN General Assembly approved the ATT on April 2, 2013, by a vote of 154-3, with Iran, North Korea, and Syria in opposition. The treaty regulates the cross-border trade in conventional arms ranging from small arms and light weapons to fighter aircraft and naval warships.

Secretary of State John Kerry signed the treaty on behalf of the United States last September. U.S. officials say the White House intends to submit the ATT to the Senate for approval, but no date has been set. Last October, 50 senators sent an open letter to President Barack Obama declaring they would never vote for the treaty.

In a June 10 interview, Angela Kane, the UN high representative for disarmament affairs, said, “We don’t really expect the U.S. to ratify any time soon.” Kerry’s signing of the treaty at the UN was “powerful,” she said.

The pact needs to include the major arms exporters and importers to be “fully effective,” she said. She noted that China, India, and Russia have not signed the treaty. Those three countries were among the two dozen that abstained during the April 2013 vote.

Nine more states ratified the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) in June, bringing the total number of ratifications to 41. 

Arms Survey Highlights ATT Challenge

Jefferson Morley

The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) faces daunting obstacles in controlling the global conventional weapons market, according to the latest UN statistics analyzed in the 2014 Small Arms Survey. “The ATT process has raised the level of attention and scrutiny given to this issue at the global level, and will undoubtedly continue to do so,” said the annual report compiled by Swiss researchers and released in mid-June. But, the survey added, “the compromises necessary for agreement on the treaty text have left the ATT with few unqualified legal obligations.”

At the same time, the arms trade is burgeoning, according to the survey done by the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. The researchers found that global trade in small arms and light weapons almost doubled between 2001 and 2011, from $2.4 billion to $4.6 billion. The market for small arms ammunition saw the greatest increase, followed by pistols and revolvers, sporting rifles, and sporting shotguns, according to the survey. But exporting countries are not required to report information on the approval or denial of export license applications, and more than half of the major arms-exporting countries do not do so, according to the survey.

“The ATT makes a significant contribution to existing legal frameworks by introducing new standards for the international transfer of conventional arms,” the survey said. “These gains are, however, more modest in comparison with existing small arms control measures.”

The treaty “has the potential to detract attention from ongoing processes,” such as the Firearms Protocol to the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, which requires states to establish criminal penalties for illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, as well as tampering with the markings on firearms, the survey said.

Existing laws regulating trade in ammunition are especially weak, according to a study of seven countries with arms conflicts conducted for the survey. Bullets made in China and the former Soviet Union accounted for the greatest share of ammunition found in Côte d’Ivoire, Libya, Somalia, Somaliland, South Sudan, Sudan, and Syria. “The presence of different types of unmarked cartridges in all but one of the countries and territories under review raises new hurdles for arms monitoring efforts,” the report said.

The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) faces daunting obstacles in controlling the global conventional weapons market, according to the latest UN statistics analyzed in the 2014 Small Arms Survey. 

China Seen Nearing Sea-Based Deterrent

Brianna Starosciak and Kelsey Davenport

China will soon have its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent, according to a U.S. Defense Department report released last month.

The report said Beijing is placing a “high priority” on updating and developing its submarine force and will soon deploy the Julang-2 (JL-2) submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) on its Jin-class submarine.

The Defense Department is required by law to submit an annual report to Congress on China’s military capabilities and force modernization.

The new Pentagon report estimates that China will begin patrols by Jin-class submarines armed with JL-2 missiles sometime this year. China has three operational Jin-class submarines.

At a June 25 event discussing the Pentagon report, Oriana Mastro, an assistant professor at Georgetown University who specializes in Chinese military and security policy, said China’s current focus is on “defensive nuclear weapons.” But Mastro expressed concern that the Chinese could “start using their weapons the way the Pakistanis do” by “trying to deter conventionally superior countries” with their nuclear weapons.

The JL-2 has an estimated range of 7,400 kilometers, which would allow Beijing to hit Alaska from Chinese waters. The missile was originally anticipated to enter service in 2010, but the program was delayed several times. China conducted two successful tests of the missile in 2012. Last year’s Pentagon report said the JL-2 would reach “initial operating capability in 2013.” (See ACT, June 2013.)

The new report says that China is likely to add as many as five ballistic missile submarines to its fleet over the next decade and then move toward developing a second-generation nuclear-powered submarine.

The Jin-class submarine is designed to carry 12 JL-2 SLBMs. Analysts believe that the predecessor to the Jin class of submarines, called the Xia class, was never deployed outside Chinese waters. The 2011 edition of the Pentagon report characterized the operational status of the Xia-class submarines as “questionable,” a description the report also applied to the JL-1 SLBM, the predecessor of the JL-2. The JL-1 had an estimated range of only 1,700 kilometers. The JL-2, which is the sea-based version of China’s Dong Feng-31 (DF-31) intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), has a much longer range and will increase China’s ability to deter threats from greater distances.

China has emphasized creating a more survivable nuclear force by adding more mobile missiles to its arsenal, the recent Pentagon report said.

Independent estimates put China’s total nuclear force at about 250 warheads of all types; 180 are thought to be nondeployed, or in reserve. In last year’s report, the Pentagon estimated that China has 50 to 75 ICBMs and a large number of shorter-range systems able to deliver nuclear weapons.

One of the mobile missiles that China has deployed is the DF-31A. It is an ICBM with an estimated range of 11,200 kilometers, meaning it can reach most of the continental United States.

China also is developing its road-mobile DF-41 ICBM. The Pentagon report said that the DF-41 is “possibly capable” of carrying multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs). This is the only missile in the Chinese arsenal currently declared by the government to have a MIRV capability, according to the report. The Pentagon report said China probably would equip future missiles with MIRVs.

It is not clear when the DF-41 missile will be deployed. It was most recently tested last December.

According to the Pentagon report, increases in the number of mobile ICBMs and the beginning of deterrence patrols with Jin-class submarines will force China to “implement more sophisticated command and control systems and processes” in order to “safeguard the integrity” of the launch authority for a “larger, more dispersed force.”

Mark Stokes, former senior country director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolia in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense of International Security Affairs, said at the June 25 event that “the most significant aspect of this development” is who will have “custodianship” over the warheads when they are deployed at sea. Currently, China’s North Sea and South Sea fleets do not have peacetime custodianship of nuclear weapons, said Stokes, who is executive director of the Project 2049 Institute. Control now remains centralized, which is a “very effective way of ensuring peace and stability,” he said.

The Pentagon report states that China has more than 1,000 short-range ballistic missiles in its arsenal and is adding conventionally armed medium-range ballistic missiles.

China has also developed an anti-ship missile called the CSS-5 Mod 5 (DF-21D) with a range of 1,500 kilometers and a maneuverable warhead.

A Pentagon report released last month says that China will soon have its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent.

Scottish Bid Imperils UK Nuclear Force

Jefferson Morley

The future of the United Kingdom’s nuclear arsenal is in the hands of 4.1 million Scottish voters who go to the polls Sept. 18 to decide whether to end the country’s 307-year union with England and become an independent country.

If the ballot proposal is approved, the ruling pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) has pledged to evict the UK fleet of four nuclear-armed submarines from the naval base at Faslane on Scotland’s west coast by 2020. Having no comparable submarine base, the UK government would then face expensive choices about how to maintain its exclusively sea-based nuclear force.

“It would be an enormous exercise to reproduce the facilities elsewhere,” the UK Ministry of Defence said in an October 2013 analysis of Scottish independence. “It would cost billions of pounds and take many years.”

Although issues of jobs and social welfare programs have dominated the referendum debate, the nuclear defense issue has energized anti-nuclear activists and alarmed UK leaders. Prime Minister David Cameron has taken a strong public stance against Scottish independence, as have his predecessors Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, and John Major.

The Faslane base and the nearby naval armaments depot at Coulport, where the UK’s submarine-launched ballistic missiles are stored, are key to UK defense policy. The UK navy keeps at least one submarine somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean at all times, a posture called continuous at-sea deterrence. Each of the submarines is equipped with as many as 40 highly accurate thermonuclear warheads on U.S.-designed and -built Trident II (D-5) missiles.

The SNP seeks to outlaw such weapons on Scottish territory.

“Trident is an affront to basic decency with its indiscriminate and inhumane destructive power,” the Scottish government declared in a November 2013 brief for independence. “Billions of pounds have been wasted to date on weapons that must never be used and, unless we act now, we risk wasting a further [100 billion pounds], over its lifetime, on a new nuclear weapons system.” The name “Trident” technically refers to the missile, but the term is used in the UK to mean the entire system.

The UK Ministry of Defence, which plans to replace the Trident fleet in the next decade, contends that continuous at-sea deterrence is critically important to the country and its allies. (See ACT, October 2013.) “The UK’s strategic nuclear deterrent plays an essential part in the UK’s and NATO’s overall strategy and provides the ultimate assurance against current and future threats,” according to the ministry’s October 2013 analysis.

If voters approve independence, Scotland and the UK will have to negotiate a host of other issues, from currency to membership in the European Union, that will affect resolution of the nuclear question.

“The 2020 date is, in my view, an initial bargaining position,” Malcolm Chalmers of the Royal United Services Institute in London said in a June 19 e-mail. “The UK would find it very hard to relocate safely and securely over this time frame. I think a more credible scenario is basing in Scotland for a much longer period, perhaps until new submarines come into service (needing infrastructure) around 2030.”

The Scottish government says it seeks “the speediest safe removal” of the weapons “within the first term” of an independent Scottish parliament, which will serve until 2020.

“The most likely option would be submarine basing at Devonport [in southwest England] and a new warhead/missile storage facility in [nearby] Falmouth,” said Chalmers, an opponent of independence. “But the latter, in particular, would take some considerable time—no one knows how long—to build.”

The resulting financial burden could imperil the UK’s status as a nuclear power, said Frances Burwell, director of transatlantic relations at the Atlantic Council in Washington.

“I do think that having to leave Faslane (if that is indeed the result) would add an enormous cost in terms of relocation that would make it difficult for the UK to continue with the nuclear deterrent,” Burwell wrote in a June 19 e-mail.

Chalmers, who advises Parliament on defense issues, said London would not willingly surrender its nuclear weapons.

“The UK—already bruised and humiliated by the loss of Scotland—would be determined to cling on to this symbol of its major power status,” wrote Chalmers.

The UK would be better off without nuclear weapons, argues John MacDonald, director of the Scottish Global Forum and a supporter of independence.

“Surrendering its nuclear capability would showcase the UK as a progressive example to follow and London might well find itself projecting a more authoritative global voice in areas where weapons proliferation threatens to destabilise regional and international security,” MacDonald wrote in European Security in March.

President Barack Obama made the U.S. government’s preference clear at a June 5 news conference in Brussels with Cameron. While emphasizing that the decision whether to leave the UK is “up to the people of Scotland,” Obama said, “[W]e obviously have a deep interest in making sure that one of the closest allies that we will ever have remains a strong, robust, united, and effective partner.”

Two polls taken in June found a slight majority in favor of staying in the UK, according to Reuters, citing the pollsters’ “near consensus that the race is getting ever-tighter ahead of the September referendum.”

On Sept. 18, Scotland is to vote on whether to become an independent country. The results could force costly changes in the United Kingdom’s nuclear-armed submarine fleet.

U.S. Formally Ends Landmine Production

Jefferson Morley

The U.S. government announced on June 27 that it will not produce or acquire anti-personnel landmines and that it intends to join the global Mine Ban Treaty at some point in the future, a stance that did not satisfy activists and officials pressing to rid the world of landmines.

The U.S. government is “diligently pursuing…solutions that would be compliant” with the treaty and “that would ultimately allow us to accede” to it, Douglas Griffiths, the U.S. ambassador to Mozambique, said in a statement delivered at a review conference for the treaty being held in Maputo. The parties to the treaty, which entered into force in 1999, hold these conferences every five years.

The week-long meeting was attended by more than 1,000 people from the treaty’s 161 parties and from international and nongovernmental organizations.

Supporters of the treaty voiced disappointment throughout the conference that the United States has yet to join the treaty, which President Barack Obama endorsed as a U.S. senator in 2007. Although U.S. officials told reporters that their review of U.S. landmine policy, which began five years ago, is not completed, the announced changes fell short of proponents’ hopes for U.S. accession to the treaty.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the most vocal proponent of the mine ban in Congress, called the policy changes “incremental but…significant.”

“The White House once and for all has put the United States on a path to join the treaty,” Leahy said in a June 27 statement. “An obvious next step is for the Pentagon to destroy its remaining stockpile of mines, which do not belong in the arsenal of civilized nations.”

Handicap International, which assists landmine victims in 33 countries, welcomed the change in U.S. policy in a June 27 statement, but said that, “without clear or immediate action deadlines, there is room for concern.”

The International Campaign to Ban Land Mines (ICBL) called the changes “a positive step,” but said the step “falls short of what is needed to ensure the weapons are never used again.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon criticized the United States and other holdouts in a June 24 statement that was delivered to the conference by Angela Kane, the UN high representative for disarmament affairs.

The goal of a world free of anti-personnel mines “has become an attainable reality,” Ban said in the statement. “But we cannot rest as long as anti-personnel mines continue to kill and maim. Some of the world’s largest countries with considerable stocks of anti-personnel landmines remain outside” the Mine Ban Treaty.

The office of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, said in a June 27 statement that Dempsey still considers landmines “a valuable tool in the arsenal of the United States” but that he supports the policy shift.

“The chairman believes this decision on anti-personnel land mines, given our current stockpiles, protects current capabilities while we work towards a reliable and effective substitute,” the statement said.

The U.S. military has an active stockpile of slightly more than 3 million anti-personnel mines, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said at a June 27 briefing. The utility of the landmines will start to decline in about 10 years, and the mines will be “completely unusable” after 20 years, he said.

In his remarks in Maputo, Griffiths said the United States is “conducting a high[-]fidelity modeling and simulation effort to ascertain how to mitigate the risks associated with the loss” of anti-personnel mines.

The United States and 35 other countries are not party to the treaty, but most of them abide by its key provisions, according to the ICBL. The Geneva-based group said only five countries have used anti-personnel mines since 2009: Israel, Libya, Myanmar, Russia, and Syria.

The United States, which has not produced new landmines since 1997, is the world’s largest donor to efforts to reduce the threat of landmines and explosive remnants of war, with $2.3 billion spent on mine action in the last two decades.

Declining Casualties

The treaty has dramatically reduced the number of people killed or maimed by landmines and explosive remnants of war, according to report released at the conference by the global watchdog Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor. In the first five years after the treaty and its provisions for clearing minefields entered into force, 31 countries reported 27,674 people were killed or wounded by landmines. Between 2009 and 2013, those countries reported 13,224 casualties, or less than half of the first five-year period.

In the past five years, Afghanistan had the most landmine casualties, followed by Cambodia and Colombia, according to the Monitor.

The study found that, since 1999, 48 percent of the victims of mines and explosive remnants of war have been children.

 

Renouncing the production of landmines, the White House said the United States would seek approaches that eventually would allow it to join the global treaty banning such weapons.

Fate of Space Code Remains Unclear

Timothy Farnsworth

A new draft of the European Union’s proposed international code of conduct for activities in outer space was released during a May 27-28 meeting in Luxembourg, but despite the revisions, it is unclear which countries will support the code.

“We are fully aware that [the current draft] does not meet the concerns and expectations of all,” Jacek Bylica of the EU, chairman of the meeting, said in his closing remarks.

The meeting was the last of a series of three consultations that began in Kiev in May 2013 and continued in Bangkok in November 2013. The meetings represented an effort to expand the group of negotiating states beyond the established spacefaring countries. (See ACT, May 2013.) During the three meetings, officials from more than 80 countries met to discuss elements of a code, with many disagreements remaining throughout the process.

The EU began the process for establishing a code of conduct in outer space in 2008 by presenting an initial draft at the UN General Assembly as part of a call for proposals for transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities. The goal of the code is to establish guidelines for responsible behavior in space that would reduce the risk of debris-generating events and increase transparency in space operations in order to avoid collisions between space assets and debris.

Most of the changes to the current draft are minor, but there are two notable additions in the preamble. The first notes “the importance of preventing an arms race in outer space” as one reason a code of conduct is necessary.

In an e-mail exchange last month, Michael Krepon, co-founder of the Stimson Center, said the additional language “could be a nod to reluctant parties, but it clearly wasn’t enough to bring Moscow and Beijing on board.”

According to a recent analysis of the consultation process by Reaching Critical Will, which is part of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, some countries, including Brazil, China, and Mexico, say references to self-defense within the draft code encourage an arms race in outer space. They argue that many weapons used for defense of assets can also be used as offensive weapons and that the language on self-defense should be removed.

In contrast, Canada, Japan, the United States, and the United Kingdom and other EU members say the language is consistent with the UN Charter and that the dual-use nature of many space assets and activities warrants references to security issues in any code of conduct, the analysis said.

Another point of debate during the meetings was how a code of conduct would relate to current international law and UN initiatives under way, such as the Group of Governmental Experts on Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures in Outer Space Activities, the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, and the thematic debate to prevent an arms race in outer space within the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva.

The second addition to the preamble is language that endorses initiatives that are politically but not legally binding, citing a July 2013 report by the experts group on space. That report attracted consensus support from a wide range of countries, including China, Russia, and the United States. In a June 10 statement to the CD, Frank Rose, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for space and defense policy, said the experts group’s report, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly last December, “demonstrates the importance and priority of working on these voluntary and pragmatic measures.”

Early in the process for developing the draft code, countries such as Brazil, India, and many Latin American states said there was a lack of transparency in the process and expressed “disappointment over not being sufficiently consulted,” according to the report from Reaching Critical Will.

Next Steps for the Code

According to many analysts, it is still unclear what the next steps are for finalizing a code of conduct, despite Bylica’s hopes to conclude the process by the end of 2014.

According to Bylica’s statement, the draft released during the Luxembourg meeting is not expected to be the final version, and the EU expects to produce a sixth version. But a diplomatic conference to negotiate a final text has not been announced despite calls for one by several countries, the Reaching Critical Will analysis said.

One option could be bringing the final draft of the code to the UN General Assembly for a vote. Many countries, such as Egypt, Pakistan, and Russia, have argued that the UN is the appropriate place to debate a code of conduct. Many other countries, including the United States and EU members, have been against negotiating a code within the UN fold.

But Krepon said in his e-mail that he is “in favor of bringing the concept, if not the language” of the draft code to a vote this fall in the General Assembly. “States that vote against [it] or abstain will clarify their outsider status,” he said.

Alternative to a Code

China and Russia argue that the draft code does not go far enough in preventing an arms race in space and have been pushing within the CD for a treaty that does that.

In June 10 remarks to the CD, Chinese ambassador Wu Haitao said that “the existing legal framework of outer space is not able to prevent weaponization of outer space or effectively prevent the threat or use of force against outer space objects.”

During the June 10 meeting of the CD, Russia and China introduced a new version of their draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects (PPWT). According to Wu, the new PPWT draft takes into account the recommendations from the July 2013 experts group report and the views of different countries.

Although the new draft makes extensive changes to the text and structure of the prior draft, it does not appear to have any new elements, such as language on prohibiting the testing of anti-satellite weapons.

The United States has been critical of the draft treaty since China and Russia introduced the original text in 2008. During his June 10 remarks, Rose reiterated the U.S. position supporting initiatives for arms control in space that are “equitable, effectively verifiable, and enhance the national security of international partners.”

Rose said the new draft PPWT fails to “address significant flaws” in the original version, citing its lack of an effective verification and monitoring regime and its failure to prohibit terrestrially based anti-satellite systems. Responding to the Chinese and Russian argument that the existing legal framework for operating in space needs to be revised, Rose said the current framework established by principles 50 years ago “provides a solid basis for operating in space today.”

Despite revisions made during a series of meetings, it is unclear whether a proposed code of conduct for activities in outer space will attract the support of key countries.

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