I salute the Arms Control Association … for its keen vision of the goals ahead and for its many efforts to identify and to promote practical measures that are so vitally needed to achieve them. -

– Amb. Nobuyasu Abe
Former UN Undersecretary General for Disarmament Affairs
January 28, 2004
March 2015
Edition Date: 
Tuesday, March 3, 2015
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White House Reviewing Nuclear Budget

March 2015

By Kingston Reif

After months of signals that U.S.-Russian nuclear security cooperation beyond 2014 was in jeopardy, most work in that area now has ended, according to news reports and Energy Department budget documents. But some limited work will continue in 2015, according to Energy Department officials.

In a meeting last December in Moscow, Russian officials informed their U.S. counterparts that Moscow was ending U.S. cooperation with Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear corporation, and U.S. access to Rosatom facilities, the Boston Globe reported Jan. 19.

Joint work to upgrade the security of eight Rosatom sites containing weapons-usable nuclear material “will not be completed with U.S. funding, due to Russia’s discontinuation of this joint work,” according to the Energy Department’s detailed justification of its budget request for fiscal year 2016. Joint work to sustain previous upgrades also is ending, said the document, which was released Feb. 2.

The document states that U.S. support for efforts to convert reactors in Russia that still use highly enriched uranium (HEU) to use low-enriched uranium will continue but be limited to the six pilot reactors that are part of a 2010 agreement between the Energy Department and Rosatom. “The U.S. role in additional reactor conversion cooperation in Russia is anticipated to be limited to only technical exchanges,” the document said.

The Globe article reported that the United States will also no longer provide money to install radiation detectors at Russian ports, airports, and border crossings to deter and detect nuclear smuggling.

Since the end of the Cold War, Russia and the United States have cooperated on an array of nuclear weapons dismantlement, material security, and nonproliferation activities inside Russia and the other states of the former Soviet Union. These efforts have been pursued primarily under the auspices of the U.S. Defense Department’s Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program and the Energy Department’s nuclear material security programs.

In June 2013, Russia and the United States agreed to a pared-down replacement for the old CTR agreement. The new arrangement allowed the Energy Department to continue nuclear security activities with Rosatom, but terminated activities involving the Russian Ministry of Defense. (See ACT, July/August 2013.) Many of the activities with Rosatom were scheduled to continue through 2018.

In a Jan. 22 statement, Rosatom said that it would “be ready to return to the cooperation when the American side is ready for that, and certainly, strictly on the basis of equality, mutual benefit, and respect.”

In a Feb. 19 e-mail to Arms Control Today, Energy Department spokesman Derrick Robinson said Russia will fund the security work the Energy Department had been planning to carry out.

Despite the end of work with Rosatom, some cooperative activities would continue, including the repatriation of Russian-origin HEU from third countries, security work with a number of non-Rosatom nuclear sites, and bilateral exchanges on topics such as nuclear security culture and transportation security, Robinson said.

Congress voted last December to withhold the Energy Department’s $92.3 million fiscal year 2015 budget request for nuclear material security work in Russia. (See ACT, January/February 2015.) It is not clear from the budget documents how much money, if any, the Energy Department requested for work inside Russia in fiscal year 2016.

In a Jan. 23 Washington Post op-ed, former Sens. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) described Russia’s decision to cut off most aspects of its nuclear security cooperation with the United States as “short-sighted” and “a major setback in the global effort to secure nuclear materials.”

Nunn and Lugar co-sponsored the legislation that established cooperative threat reduction efforts with Russia in the early 1990s.

Budget Speeds Cruise Missile Development

March 2015

By Kingston Reif

The Obama administration is proposing to increase spending to accelerate by two years the development of a new nuclear-armed cruise missile, according to budget documents released Feb. 2.

The increase in proposed spending is part of a major funding hike in the fiscal year 2016 budget request for programs to sustain and to rebuild nuclear-armed missiles, submarines, and bombers and their associated nuclear warheads and supporting infrastructure. An updated cost analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released on Jan. 22 estimated that the administration’s nuclear weapons spending plans would cost $348 billion between fiscal years 2015 and 2024 (see box).

Some current and former U.S. defense officials have questioned whether the modernization plans can be implemented as currently conceived, given continued pressure to reduce military spending. (See ACT, September 2014.)

An air-launched cruise missile is flight-tested in February 2012. (U.S. Air Force)The Air Force is seeking $36.6 million in fiscal year 2016 for research and development for a long-range standoff weapon, more than 10 times as much as the $3.4 million that Congress appropriated for the current fiscal year. The new standoff missile, would replace the Air Force’s nuclear-armed air-launched cruise missile (ALCM), which has been operational since 1986. ALCMs are carried by long-range bombers and can attack targets at great distances.

Meanwhile, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a semiautonomous agency of the Energy Department, is requesting $195 million to begin refurbishing the existing ALCM warhead that would be delivered by the new missile. That is an increase of $186 million above the fiscal year 2015 appropriation of $9.4 million. The first refurbished warhead is now scheduled for completion in 2025, two years earlier than the NNSA proposed last year.

The fiscal year 2015 budget request delayed development of the new ALCM by three years. An Air Force spokeswoman told InsideDefense.com at the time that the delay was caused by “warhead uncertainty and…continuing fiscal challenges.”

Overall, the administration requested $561 billion for national defense in fiscal year 2016, which includes the Defense Department’s regular budget activities and the Energy Department’s nuclear weapons programs.
This spending proposal is nearly $39 billion above the spending caps set by Congress in the 2011 Budget Control Act. If Congress does not raise the spending caps or cut the president’s budget request down, automatic, across-the-board cuts will have to be made to the request before the new fiscal year starts on Oct. 1.

Triad Spending Grows

The budget request also substantially increases investments in next-generation nuclear submarines, bombers, and land-based missiles.

CBO Updates Nuclear Cost Study

Current U.S. plans to sustain and modernize its nuclear arsenal will cost $348 billion over the next decade, or 5 to 6 percent of the total costs of the Obama administration’s plans for national defense, according to a January report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
The report is an update to the cost study that the CBO released in December 2013, which put the price tag for U.S. nuclear forces between fiscal years 2014 and 2023 at $355 billion. The update estimates the cost between fiscal years 2015 and 2024.
The $7 billion dip from the 2013 estimate is due to “budget-driven delays in several programs, including a three-year delay for the new cruise missile and its nuclear warhead,” the update said.

The CBO spending projection is approximately $51 billion more than the $297 billion 10-year estimate the Defense and Energy departments provided to Congress last year.
The report was released just before the administration’s fiscal year 2016 budget request, which sought increased funding to accelerate the development schedule for the new cruise missile and improve the management of the nuclear force. These funding increases are not reflected in the CBO’s latest cost update.

In a Feb. 2 press briefing at the Pentagon, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work expressed concern about the growing costs of the nuclear mission. “We need to keep the old equipment and systems going,” he said, “but it is becoming more expensive for us to do so and requiring us to divert resources in that regard.”—KINGSTON REIF

    The highest-priority and most costly program remains the Navy’s plan to replace its current fleet of 14 Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines with 12 new subs, called the SSBN(X). Under the Navy’s budget request, the program would receive $1.4 billion in fiscal year 2016, an increase of $100 million above the fiscal year 2015 appropriation. A December 2014 report by the CBO estimated that the cost to build the 12-sub fleet would be more than $100 billion, with the first boat entering service in 2031.

    Proposed funding for the Air Force’s plan to build up to 100 new long-range strategic bombers continues to rise steeply. The Air Force is seeking $1.25 billion in fiscal year 2016, an increase of $332 million over the fiscal year 2015 appropriation. The new bombers are scheduled to enter service in the mid-2020s, and the entire fleet could cost as much as $80 billion to produce, according to some estimates.

    The program to develop a replacement for the current force of 450 land-based Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles also would get a big boost under the administration’s request. The Air Force is requesting $75.2 million for the program, an increase of $68.3 million over the appropriation for the current fiscal year. The potential replacement missile is slated to begin deployment in fiscal year 2027.

    The budget request also includes $1.1 billion in new funding to address the professional and ethical lapses and poor morale plaguing the nuclear force, according to the Associated Press. (See ACT, December 2014.) This proposal would support 1,120 additional military and civilian personnel working on Air Force nuclear issues and accelerate investments in Navy shipyard infrastructure. The Pentagon plans to spend $8 billion for these and other force improvement efforts over the next five years, the AP said.

    Gen. Mark Welsh, chief of staff of the Air Force, warned last month that if Congress fails to raise the budget caps, across-the-board cuts would slash “roughly 66 percent of currently planned [Air Force] funding intended to modernize nuclear systems and infrastructure.”

    Warhead Request Pleases GOP

    NNSA nuclear warhead maintenance and infrastructure programs would receive $8.9 billion in fiscal year 2016, an increase of $667 million, or 8 percent, above the fiscal year 2015 appropriation.

    The NNSA weapons budget would increase spending to rebuild the B61 gravity bomb and ALCM warhead, refresh a key part of the W88 submarine-launched ballistic missile warhead, and build a new uranium-processing facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

    Some Republican lawmakers have criticized previous administration requests for NNSA weapons programs for allegedly not comporting with the spending levels proposed by the administration in 2010 during the ratification debate over the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. This time, however, two Senate Republican staffers praised the fiscal year 2016 NNSA weapons request.

    The budget request “is a good sign and represents the President’s commitment to modernize the [Energy Department] nuclear weapons complex,” one staffer told Arms Control Today in a Feb. 18 e-mail.

    A second Republican staffer said in a Feb. 19 interview that the request is “90 to 95 percent consistent” with what President Barack Obama promised five years ago.

    Although it is unclear what Congress will do to address the mismatch between the budget request and the budget caps, some lawmakers have said they doubt that the budget request for nuclear weapons programs is realistic. In a Feb. 13 interview with Weapons Complex Monitor, Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), chairman of the House appropriations subcommittee that oversees the NNSA, said that the agency has “more in [its] total overall budget than we’re going to have, frankly, when we get done with the budget resolution.”

    The Obama administration is proposing to increase spending to accelerate by two years the development of a new nuclear-armed cruise missile.

    NNSA Nonproliferation Budget Gets Boost

    March 2015

    By Kingston Reif and Daniel Horner

    Final dose rate measurements are taken for a shipment of Hungarian highly enriched uranium on November 4, 2013, before it is transported to Russia. (Sandor Tozser / IAEA)After proposing major spending cuts for Energy Department nuclear nonproliferation programs in last year’s budget request, the Obama administration is asking for $1.7 billion for these efforts in its fiscal year 2016 budget request, an increase of $90.7 million, or 5.6 percent, above the fiscal year 2015 appropriation.

    In a Feb. 4 telephone interview with two reporters, Anne Harrington, deputy administrator for defense nuclear nonproliferation in the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), said the NNSA had been disappointed with last year’s proposed budget and that “there was a commitment that we would not have that happen again this year.” She added, “Not only did we keep that commitment, but we got a small increase.”

    The nonproliferation programs are part of the semiautonomous NNSA, which also is responsible for maintaining and modernizing U.S. nuclear warheads. Funding for NNSA activities in that area would rise to $8.9 billion in fiscal year 2016, up $667 million from the fiscal year 2015 appropriation (see page 27).

    Realignment Drops GTRI

    The budget request reflects a realignment of NNSA nonproliferation efforts. The new budget is divided into the categories of Material Management and Minimization, Global Material Security, Nonproliferation and Arms Control, Nonproliferation Construction, Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation R&D (research and development), and Nuclear Counterterrorism and Incident Response.

    Gone are the programs that used to be called the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), International Material Protection and Cooperation (IMPC), and Fissile Materials Disposition. Global Material Security and Material Management and Minimization include different parts of what used to be the GTRI and the IMPC programs. Construction of the mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel facility is now listed under Nonproliferation Construction.

    The counterterrorism program used to be housed within NNSA’s weapons program. When these efforts are included in the calculation, total proposed nonproliferation spending for fiscal year 2016 is $1.9 billion.

    Global Material Security has the task of improving the security of nuclear materials around the world, securing orphaned or disused radiological sources, and strengthening nuclear smuggling detection and deterrence. The goal of Material Management and Minimization is to reduce global nuclear security threats through disposition of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium, HEU minimization by converting research reactors and medical isotope production facilities to the use of low-enriched uranium (LEU), and removal of excess HEU and separated plutonium.

    In a letter to employees of her office last December, Harrington said that two rationales for the realignment were to arrange the office more functionally and establish “synergy among like sub-programs.”

    The activities now performed under Global Material Security would receive $427 million in fiscal year 2016, an increase of $2.5 million above the fiscal year 2015 appropriation. Efforts to accelerate the protection of the most harmful radiological sources, which used to be performed under the GTRI program, would receive a $15.9 million boost to $154 million.

    Material Management and Minimization programs would receive $312 million, an increase of $38.7 million over the fiscal year 2015 appropriation. Nuclear material removal activities, which also used to be performed under the GTRI program, would get a $45.5 million increase to $114 million to remove HEU from miniature neutron source reactors in Africa and to prepare for future shipments from Europe and Japan.

    In the budget request, the administration proposes a significant curtailment of previous plans for nuclear security work inside Russia. The requested funding for activities that used to be housed under the IMPC program, which performed most of the NNSA’s security work in Russia, is $100 million below the level projected in the fiscal year 2015 budget request.

    Harrington said that funding previously planned for Russia was repurposed for other nonproliferation activities. It is not clear from the budget documents how much money, if any, the NNSA requested for work inside Russia in fiscal year 2016 (see page 26).

    Elsewhere in the NNSA nonproliferation budget, funding for Nonproliferation and Arms Control, which used to be called Nonproliferation and International Security, would rise slightly, from a fiscal year 2015 appropriation of $126 million to $127 million. Spending for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation R&D, which focuses on technologies used in tracking foreign nuclear weapons programs, illicit diversion of nuclear materials, and nuclear detonations, would rise to $419 million from its $393 million fiscal year 2015 appropriation.

    Priorities Questioned

    Some analysts said the fiscal year 2016 budget request does not go far enough in addressing several key nuclear security issues.

    In a Feb. 19 e-mail to Arms Control Today, a source who has followed nuclear threat reduction budgets closely questioned the decision to spend $15 million less than the administration had projected it would spend in fiscal year 2016 on the activities that used to be associated with GTRI, particularly with the last nuclear security summit scheduled to take place next year.

    Construction personnel guide a glove box into place at the mixed-oxide fuel fabrication facility at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina on September 29, 2010. (NNSA)Another analyst, Kenneth Luongo, a former senior adviser on nonproliferation policy to the energy secretary, told Arms Control Today in a Feb. 19 e-mail that, in the wake of “the abrupt and sharp curtailment in US-Russian nuclear security cooperation,” NNSA nonproliferation efforts “can and should be supplemented with new missions.”

    Luongo, who is president of the Partnership for Global Security and a member of the Arms Control Association Board of Directors, added that the administration must also create “a new and compelling narrative for [its] nuclear security activities and budgets” and that the job “will have to be done quickly in order to preserve the core of expertise and political relevance of the NNSA nuclear security mission.”

    MOX Funding

    The administration asks for $345 million for fiscal year 2016 for construction of the MOX fuel plant at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. The facility is designed to turn surplus plutonium from the U.S. nuclear weapons program into fuel for power reactors.

    Last year, in announcing its request for fiscal year 2015, the Energy Department said it would put the project on “cold standby” as it explored other options for getting rid of the plutonium. (See ACT, April 2014.) The administration requested $196 million for construction, but Congress appropriated much more than that, $345 million, for the current fiscal year.

    During a Feb. 2 conference call on the fiscal year 2016 budget request, NNSA officials said the new request reflected the current year’s spending figure. But NNSA Administrator Frank Klotz said $345 million is “not the optimum spend rate if you are serious about delivering in a reasonable, prudent amount of time a construction project.”

    Robert Raines, NNSA associate administrator for acquisition and project management, said no element of the construction was being stopped but that the work was being done more slowly than the NNSA had planned in the timetable it was following before it decided to seek alternatives to the project.

    In a Feb. 6 interview, a source familiar with the deliberations on the project’s budget said the fiscal year 2016 request was “a really big deal” in light of what the prospects for the plant’s future seemed to be last year. The climate is “much different” this year, he said, and suggested that the appropriation for fiscal year 2016 could be more than the $345 million that the Energy Department is requesting.

    But Edwin Lyman, a senior staff scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, said in a Feb. 20 interview that “everyone can see that [the MOX project] is a waste of money but no one can stop it.” Lyman, who recently wrote a report on “the failure of MOX and the promise of its alternatives,” said that, for some lawmakers, it might be difficult to oppose construction of the plant until the Energy Department has published its assessment of the alternatives and recommended a new course.

    After proposing major spending cuts for Energy Department nuclear nonproliferation programs in last year’s budget request, the Obama administration is asking for a $90 million increase in its fiscal year 2016 request.

    U.S. Rejects N. Korean Offer on Testing

    March 2015

    By Kelsey Davenport

    Sung Kim, U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, testifies at a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on January 13. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)North Korea offered in January to halt nuclear testing if the United States would cancel an annual spring military exercise with South Korea, but Washington rejected the proposal.

    The Jan. 9 offer was reported in Pyongyang’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), which said that the joint military exercises are a “root cause of escalating tension” on the Korean peninsula. According to the KCNA article, Pyongyang called on the United States to contribute to easing tensions by suspending the exercise. The article said that North Korea would “take a responsive step” in exchange and suspend nuclear testing.

    North Korea communicated the offer to the United States using a “relevant channel,” according to the news agency.

    State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said at a Jan. 12 press briefing that the joint exercises will continue and that North Korea’s offer is an “implicit threat” that “inappropriately links” the exercises to the possibility of a nuclear test.

    A nuclear test is a “clear violation” of North Korea’s obligations under multiple UN Security Council resolutions, while the joint military exercises are “transparent, defense oriented, and have been carried out regularly and openly for roughly 40 years,” Harf said.

    Washington is open to dialogue with North Korea, but Pyongyang must take “steps toward denuclearization” before credible negotiations resume, Harf said.

    As part of the so-called six-party talks, which began in 2003 and include China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States, North Korea pledged in 2005 to dismantle its nuclear weapons program and facilities. In 2009, however, the talks broke down when North Korea said it would no longer participate.

    A Chinese analyst said in a Feb. 20 interview that Beijing is “critical of the U.S. decision to reject outright” North Korea’s proposal. The analyst said Washington’s “blindness and arrogance” will not lead to meaningful talks with North Korea. Pyongyang may not offer additional opportunities in the future, he said.

    Sung Kim, the U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, said in Jan. 13 testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the United States has made it clear to North Korea that “the door is open to meaningful engagement” but better bilateral relations must be based on “a willingness” by North Korea to “fulfill its denuclearization commitments.”

    North Korea has “consistently rebuffed or ignored” U.S. offers for dialogue and instead responded with provocations, he said.

    Since the six-party talks fell apart in 2009, North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests and restarted a heavy-water reactor that produces weapons-grade plutonium.

    Experts on North Korea questioned the U.S. assertions that suspending the military exercise is not possible.

    Robert Carlin, a former senior policy adviser to the U.S. special representative, said on Feb. 11 that the North Korean proposal has a historical basis because the United States suspended joint military exercises with South Korea in 1992. The United States said at the time that the exercise, dubbed “Team Spirit,” was intended to promote North Korea’s cooperation with international nuclear inspectors.

    Carlin, now a visiting scholar at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University, said refusing North Korea’s offer because UN Security Council resolutions already forbid nuclear tests ignored the 2012 Leap Day agreement.

    In February 2012, the United States and North Korea negotiated a deal under which North Korea agreed to a nuclear and missile testing moratorium in exchange for food aid. (See ACT, April 2012.)

    The agreement disintegrated when North Korea attempted to launch a satellite in April 2012. The United States said satellite launches were prohibited under the agreement, but North Korea disagreed. (See ACT, May 2012.)

    Carlin said that North Korea knew its latest proposal would be rejected but it was meant as a “starter engine” for talks. Given the recent expansion of North Korea’s production of material for nuclear weapons, Carlin said that talks are opportunities to “uncover what is possible” in negotiations and that the consequences for choosing not to talk with North Korea “could be dire.”

    The Chinese analyst also criticized President Barack Obama’s Jan. 22 comments on YouTube, during which he predicted that North Korea would collapse.

    The analyst said that such comments would only “instigate additional provocative actions” by North Korea.

    The KCNA said on Feb. 4 that it saw no reason to negotiate with the United States, given Washington’s intention to “bring down” North Korea’s government.

    The United States rejected North Korea’s offer to halt nuclear testing in exchange for a suspension of joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises.

    India, U.S. Cite Progress on Nuclear Deal

    March 2015

    By Daniel Horner

    President Barack Obama (left) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hold a joint press conference at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on January 25. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)India and the United States in late January reached what President Barack Obama described as a “breakthrough understanding” on two issues that have held up nuclear trade between the two countries under a deal reached under President George W. Bush.

    The understandings, announced Jan. 25 during Obama’s visit to India to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, deal with the issues of liability in case of an accident at a foreign-supplied reactor in India and with the tracking of U.S. material exported to India.

    The second issue concerns the so-called administrative arrangements that are a standard part of U.S. nuclear cooperation with other countries. Like other nuclear exporters, the United States maintains those arrangements to ensure that the material it sends to other countries for their peaceful nuclear programs does not end up in weapons programs.

    The two sides released little specific information on what they had agreed, but interviews with sources from industry, Congress, and elsewhere who had been briefed by administration officials provided a generally consistent picture of the U.S.-Indian understandings.

    As the sources described it, the approach endorsed by Modi and Obama would provide much of the information obtained from standard U.S. administrative arrangements, but in a more roundabout way. Under standard arrangements, the U.S. partner assumes most of the burden for the tracking, but in the case of India, the United States would have to do much of the work itself, one source said.

    India balked at the standard arrangements because New Delhi considered them costly, intrusive, and unnecessary, the source said.

    According to several accounts, India insisted that the United States obtain information on the exported material and its course within India from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which applies safeguards to the nuclear facilities that India has designated as civilian. The IAEA information, however, provides only an aggregate picture of the material in the facilities it safeguards rather than identifying the material on the basis of the country that supplied it.

    A second source, a former U.S. official, described his conception of the way the arrangement was likely to work in practice. He said the material the United States would send to India would be in the form of fabricated fuel elements. If India reprocessed the spent fuel coming from that fresh fuel, New Delhi would tell Washington the amount of plutonium that was separated and the amount that it fabricated into mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel (so called because it is a mixture of plutonium and uranium oxides), he said. It also would have to report the amount of spent fuel that the reactor had produced, he said.

    With that information and knowledge of the characteristics of the fuel and the reactor in which the fuel was irradiated, the U.S. government could make its own calculations of the amount of plutonium contained in the spent fuel, the former official said. From that starting point, the United States could determine how much plutonium was separated and not fabricated into MOX fuel, he said.

    The United States is to meet once a year with India to compare figures, the former official said. He said it was not clear to him how the two sides would resolve discrepancies.

    Under the 2007 U.S.-Indian nuclear cooperation agreement and a follow-on accord from 2010, India has permission to reprocess spent fuel that comes from U.S.-supplied fresh fuel or was irradiated in a U.S.-supplied reactor. (See ACT, May 2010.) But the reprocessing must take place in a facility “dedicated to reprocessing safeguarded nuclear material under IAEA safeguards,” according to the 2007 agreement.

    India does not have such a facility and has not begun to build one. Its current reprocessing plants are not under safeguards.

    The January announcement is the latest development in a saga that began with a joint July 2005 statement by Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh laying out a blueprint for easing U.S. and international nuclear trade restrictions on India, which is not a party to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. In 2006 Congress passed legislation known as the Hyde Act, opening the door to nuclear trade with India but establishing certain reporting and monitoring requirements to ensure that U.S. nuclear exports were used only for peaceful purposes.

    One source who was involved in that debate and was critical of the overall deal said the newly announced arrangements appeared to meet the requirements of the Hyde Act.

    The former official said that, from the descriptions he had received, the procedure seemed equivalent to the standard administrative arrangements. It “should give us the information we need to know [although] in an unconventional way,” he said. But he emphasized that the recently announced accord is on an understanding in principle. The two sides need to draft the administrative arrangement, and “it remains to be seen” if they can “find language that is mutually acceptable,” he said.

    At a Jan. 26 press briefing, Ben Rhodes, U.S. deputy national security adviser for strategic communications and speechwriting, said, “The Indians certainly came to the table with increased information-sharing and exchanges that met our concerns.”

    Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and U.S. President George W. Bush arrive for a joint press conference at the White House on July 18, 2005. At the press conference, the two leaders announced a new policy on U.S.-Indian nuclear cooperation. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)Congress approved the India agreement in 2008, but U.S. companies have not signed any contracts for significant nuclear exports to India. The questions about U.S. monitoring of exports have been an obstacle, but for the companies—especially General Electric and Westinghouse, which have hopes of selling reactors to India—a larger issue has been their concern that they could be found liable in case of an accident. In most countries with nuclear power plants, the operator, not the supplier, is potentially liable for accidents at nuclear facilities.

    To address those concerns, India is proposing to create an insurance pool and to establish that its national law is compatible with the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, under which reactor suppliers cannot be held liable. Several of the sources expressed skepticism that the steps would be sufficient to convince General Electric and Westinghouse to build reactors in India, but these sources emphasized that the companies would have to be the ones to decide.

    At the Jan. 26 briefing, Rhodes said the Indian and U.S. governments believe that “they have reached an understanding on these critical issues that have been an impediment to moving forward in the last several years.” But he acknowledged that “it’s ultimately up to U.S. companies to make their own determinations about whether and when to invest in India and to move forward.”

    India and the United States reached what President Barack Obama described as a “breakthrough understanding” on two issues that have held up nuclear trade between the two countries.

    Countries Meet on Arms Trade Treaty

    March 2015

    By Jefferson Morley

    Representatives of more than 80 states-parties and signatories to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) gathered in Trinidad and Tobago last month to discuss the location of the treaty’s future secretariat and reporting requirements for the global effort to regulate the arms trade.

    At the Feb. 23-24 meeting in Port-of-Spain, the capital of the island state, more than 40 delegations spoke during the discussion of the secretariat’s location, according to social media reports from the conference. Three countries—Austria, Switzerland, and Trinidad and Tobago—are vying to become permanent home to the secretariat. Among the issues discussed were the size and cost of the secretariat and the need for “geographical balance.” No decision on the location was made.

    Attendees also reported on presentations on how treaty participants can develop common reporting procedures on arms transfers. The Baseline Assessment Project, launched in 2013 by the Stimson Center in Washington, studied 44 countries and found a wide range of reporting requirements on arms transfers. The meeting closed with a discussion of reporting templates and the schedule of submissions. All parties to the treaty are required to submit an initial report on their national implementation efforts by Dec. 24.

    Opponents of the treaty also attended the meeting as a result of the intervention of the U.S. State Department. Tom Mason, a Washington representative of the Rome-based World Forum on Shooting Activities, said department officials asked the conference organizers to drop a provision requiring attendees to support the “object and purpose of the treaty.” Eight members of gun-user and gun manufacturing organizations attended, according to the list of conference participants.

    Treaty opponents have found themselves isolated in international forums. The only governments that voted against the ATT in the UN General Assembly in April 2013 were Iran, North Korea, and Syria. Twenty-three countries abstained.

    The preparatory conference in Port-of-Spain was the first of three planned meetings before the first conference of states-parties, which is scheduled to be held in Mexico City in September. The next preparatory meeting for that conference is scheduled to take place April 20-21 in Vienna.

    The ATT, signed by 130 countries and ratified by 62, entered into force on Dec. 24, 2014. The United States has signed, but not ratified it.

    Representatives of more than 80 states-parties and signatories to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) gathered in Trinidad and Tobago last month...

    India’s Agni-5 Closer to Deployment

    March 2015

    By Kelsey Davenport

    India’s January 31 test launch of the Agni-5 is shown in this video image. (DRDO)India successfully tested its Agni-5 ballistic missile from a road-mobile canister for the first time in January, moving the missile one step closer to deployment, according to an Indian official.

    Avinash Chander, director-general of India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), said in Jan. 31 statement that the success of that day’s test from the mobile canister is “a new milestone,” allowing the Indian armed forces to “stop anywhere and launch” the Agni-5.

    The Agni-5 is a nuclear-capable ballistic missile first tested by India in April 2012 and then again in September 2013. (See ACT, May 2012; October 2013.)

    The three-stage missile is solid fueled and can carry a 1,500-kilogram payload a distance of 5,000 kilometers, according to news reports of past tests and information released by the DRDO. A 5,000-kilometer range puts all of China within reach.

    A range of 5,500 kilometers is generally considered the threshold between intermediate-range and intercontinental ballistic missiles. A missile’s range can be extended by lightening its payload.

    Chander said that the road-mobile canister for the Agni-5 makes it “highly survivable” and provides an assured retaliatory capability. Such a capability is important, given India’s no-first-use policy for nuclear weapons, he said.

    In a Jan. 31 statement, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the DRDO on the successful test and said the Agni-5 is a “prized asset” for India’s forces.

    The Modi government terminated Chander’s contract as head of the DRDO earlier in January. Chander left the organization on Jan. 31, after the test was completed.

    Chander said that one more test is necessary before the Agni-5 can be deployed as part of India’s nuclear arsenal. After that, “the objective is to begin induction by the end of this year” if possible, he said.

    Chander said the DRDO is not currently working on missiles with ranges longer than the Agni-5. Although technically possible, the Agni-5 “takes care of our existing threat perceptions,” he said.

    India successfully tested its Agni-5 ballistic missile from a road-mobile canister for the first time in January, moving the missile one step closer to deployment, according to an Indian official.

    Nuclear-Weapon States Discuss NPT Issues

    March 2015

    By Daryl G. Kimball

    Senior officials from the five nuclear-weapon-state members of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) met in London last month for discussions on “the mutual confidence and transparency…that [are] essential to make progress towards multilateral nuclear disarmament,” according to a joint statement issued on Feb. 6.

    The meeting, which involved officials from China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, is the sixth of its kind since 2009. The effort began in 2008 when UK Defence Secretary Des Browne suggested a technical conference on verification of disarmament among the five states.

    According to the joint statement, the London meeting covered disarmament verification, a glossary of disarmament-related terms, efforts to start talks on a fissile material cutoff treaty, and the states’ common reporting framework for the upcoming NPT review conference. The group discussed the challenges in bringing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty into force and “decided to continue regular technical meetings aimed at enhancing the [treaty’s] verification regime and to hold a workshop on data quality objectives for radionuclide measurements for on-site inspections.” For the first time, parts of the meeting included representatives from some non-nuclear-weapon states.

    In their statement, the five states reaffirmed “their commitment towards achieving a world without nuclear weapons in accordance with the goals of the NPT.” They argued that “a step-by-step approach to nuclear disarmament that promotes international stability, peace and undiminished and increased security for all remains the only realistic and practical route to achieving a world without nuclear weapons. To this end, the [group] discussed issues related to international security and strategic stability and their nuclear doctrines in order to enhance mutual understanding in these areas.”

    The joint statement did not define the elements of that step-by-step process, and it is not clear if there is agreement among the group about what those steps are and how or when they should be pursued.

    Senior officials from the five nuclear-weapon-state members of the NPT met in London last month for discussions on “the mutual confidence and transparency…

    UK Downsizes Its Nuclear Arsenal

    March 2015

    By Jefferson Morley

    The United Kingdom has reduced its nuclear arsenal by 25 percent, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told the House of Commons on Jan. 20. During a debate over the replacement of UK nuclear forces, Fallon announced that the government had fulfilled a 2010 commitment to reduce the number of deployed warheads on each of the country’s four Trident submarines from 48 to 40. “The total number of operationally available warheads has therefore been reduced to 120,” Fallon said. Previously, the UK reported having 160 operational warheads.

    The government’s 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review report stated the reduction would give the country a “minimum deterrent” to potential enemies, while saving money as well as honoring “our commitment vigorously to pursue multilateral global disarmament.”

    In the Jan. 20 debate, Scottish National Party leader Angus Robertson and other critics said the Trident force was useless as a weapon and should be abandoned.

    “I have yet to hear a supporter of Trident convincingly explain in what circumstances they would be prepared to justify the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women, and children and the causing of massive environmental damage to the world for generations to come,” Robertson said.
    Fallon defended the government’s definition of minimum deterrence.

    “Unfortunately, those reductions [in the number of Trident warheads] have not encouraged other states seeking a nuclear weapons capability to forgo their attempts,” he said, “nor have they encouraged some other states that already possess nuclear weapons to follow our example. It is our conclusion that it would be rash further to disarm unilaterally while the capability to threaten us remains.”

    The United Kingdom has reduced its nuclear arsenal by 25 percent, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told the House of Commons on Jan. 20.

    Russia and the Big Chill

    March 2015

    By Daryl G. Kimball

    Since the 2014 ouster of the pro-Russian president of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s persistent effort to annex and destabilize parts of Ukraine has undermined European security and the rules-based international order. The Ukraine crisis has sent already chilly relations between Moscow and the West to the lowest point in more than a quarter century.

    U.S.-Russian cooperation in the sensitive arena of nuclear weapons has not yet been seriously affected, but it is at risk, and further progress is on hold. In July, the United States formally accused Russia of testing a ground-launched cruise missile in violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. The dispute has made what is left of the bilateral U.S.-Russian nuclear dialogue even more difficult.

    The Kremlin continues to say “nyet” to U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2013 proposal for a further one-third cut in U.S. and Russian deployed strategic warheads and delivery systems. Moscow argues that deeper cuts in strategic nuclear stockpiles must take into account U.S. strategic ballistic missile interceptors, conventional prompt-strike weapons, and the nuclear arsenals of other states.

    Both sides continue to implement the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) and recognize their disarmament commitments under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), but there is no serious dialogue on follow-on measures.

    A further escalation of the conflict in eastern Ukraine could set back the nuclear relationship still further. Mikhail Ulyanov of the Russian Foreign Ministry told RIA Novosti in January that Russia could revise its commitment to New START in response to “unfriendly” U.S. actions.

    Some members of the U.S. Congress have already threatened to halt funding for implementation of New START to send a message to Moscow. Others want to accelerate costly U.S. nuclear force modernization plans and explore new types of nuclear weapons.

    In a January letter to the Pentagon, two House Armed Services Committee leaders, Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) and Michael Turner (R-Ohio), even called for the possible deployment of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in NATO states on Russia’s border.

    Rather than protect Ukraine or NATO, these radical steps would further undermine strategic stability and international security. Given the potential for a direct conflict between Russia and NATO, neither side should use nuclear weapons to send political messages or lower the threshold for nuclear weapons use.

    Moscow’s actions in Ukraine require a unified response involving diplomacy, sanctions, and NATO conventional deterrence. But the new Russian challenge cannot be resolved with nuclear weapons or the buildup of U.S. nuclear capabilities.

    Russia and the United States no longer are in the type of ideological competition they had during the Cold War, but they remain locked in a relationship of mutual assured destruction. The world’s daily survival still depends on the stability of nuclear command and control on both sides, mutual restraint, and effective government-to-government communication.

    As Rose Gottemoeller, U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, said in a Feb. 18 address, “It is [in] times like these that arms control proves its worth. Arms control measures provide stability and predictability even when other things fall into disarray.”

    New U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control measures are not coming soon, but it is in both sides’ interests to resume active discussions on new, creative proposals to reduce the size and enormous cost of their excess strategic and tactical nuclear arsenals and to resolve disagreements about missile defenses. Both countries deploy nuclear forces that are ready for prompt launch and in numbers that far exceed any common-sense deterrence “requirements.”

    To begin, the two sides should jointly declare at the 2015 NPT Review Conference that they will begin formal negotiations within one year on a follow-on to New START, which expires in 2021. A follow-on agreement should aim to cut each side’s strategic deployed arsenals to fewer than 1,100 warheads and 500 launchers, including any conventional prompt-strike weapons.

    Such talks can and should explore a wider range of issues, including transparency and confidence-building steps on tactical nuclear weapons and joint understandings on missile defense capabilities and deployments.

    To build momentum, the two sides also could announce they will, in parallel, accelerate New START implementation to meet the treaty’s limits of 1,550 deployed warheads and 700 strategic launchers ahead of the 2018 deadline.

    The two sides also should reiterate their commitment not to test, produce, or deploy missile systems prohibited by the INF Treaty—that is, those with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers—and agree to special inspections to resolve compliance concerns. Russia and the United States also could work together to engage other states in talks on limiting and eventually phasing out all nuclear-armed cruise missile systems. This would allow the two countries to forgo expensive modernization programs for such missiles and head off dangerous cruise missile buildups around the globe.

    Today, as during the Cold War, effective, persistent nuclear arms control leadership is in the best interests of Russia, the United States, and the world.

    U.S.-Russian cooperation in the sensitive arena of nuclear weapons has not yet been seriously affected, but it is at risk, and further progress is on hold.


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