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"In my home there are few publications that we actually get hard copies of, but [Arms Control Today] is one and it's the only one my husband and I fight over who gets to read it first."

– Suzanne DiMaggio
Senior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
April 15, 2019
November 2015
Edition Date: 
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Cover Image: 

India’s Bid to Join Missile Regime Fails

November 2015

By Kelsey Davenport

India’s bid to join a multilateral regime designed to stem the spread of certain types of missiles and drones failed last month when its application was blocked by Italy, an official who attended the meeting said.

The official said in an Oct. 19 e-mail that Italy’s objection to India’s membership in the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) was likely motivated by a bilateral dispute between Rome and New Delhi unrelated to the regime.

He and other sources cited a 2012 incident in which two Italian marines guarding an Italian cargo ship killed an Indian fisherman. Indian officials arrested the marines, who claimed that they fired warning shots and were attempting to guard the ship. India and Italy are involved in a dispute over the trial.

India said in June that it applied for membership in the MTCR, an initiative designed to prevent the spread of missiles and unmanned systems capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

India’s application for membership was considered at the annual plenary, which was held Oct. 5-9 in the Dutch city of Rotterdam. Membership is determined by consensus of the group, which currently has 34 members.

Vikas Swarup, spokesman for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, said on Oct. 9 that the application was well received but “remains under consideration.”

The regime, which was formed in 1987, defines WMD-capable delivery systems as missiles or drones capable of carrying a 500-kilogram payload over a distance of 300 kilometers. India already possesses a number of missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

MTCR members agree to abide by export policy guidelines designed to limit the spread of technologies applicable to the development of WMD-capable missiles and drones.

Swarup said that India’s membership would “strengthen global nonproliferation objectives.”

From left to right, Indian Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman, Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker speak to reporters after a meeting in Washington on September 22. In a joint statement with India issued that day, the United States expressed its support for India’s entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime at the group’s meeting in October. [Photo credit: Prakash Singh /AFP/Getty Images]The United States backed India’s bid for membership and affirmed its support prior to the plenary in a Sept. 22 statement on U.S.-Indian relations. The Obama administration voiced support for Indian membership five years ago (see ACT, December 2010) and has consistently supported it since then.

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment on India’s unsuccessful membership bid.

When India applied to join the regime, it said that its space program had suffered because it was not a member of the regime. Membership would not ensure that India would be able to purchase restricted items because MTCR guidelines “do not distinguish between exports to Partners and exports to non-Partners,” according to a summary on the MTCR website. But India has argued that membership would raise its profile as a responsible state committed to nonproliferation.

Technology applicable to missile development is also used in space programs. The statement issued by MTCR members after the plenary meeting noted that the regime is not designed to “impede technological advancement and development, including space programmes,” as long as it does not contribute to WMD-capable delivery systems.

India is not the only country to have applied for membership. Nine additional countries are seeking to join the regime, none of which were accepted, said the official who attended the meeting.

 The official said that Russia objected to allowing several eastern European countries, including Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, to join the regime.

The Oct. 9 statement said that individual applications for membership were “thoroughly discussed” and the issue of expanding the membership will remain on the agenda. The last country admitted to the MTCR was Bulgaria in 2004.

States that are not members of the regime can voluntarily adhere to the export guidelines. The statement noted that, since last year’s plenary, Estonia and Latvia pledged to use the regime guidelines as the basis for their export controls of missile-related technologies, and the statement encouraged other countries to do the same.

Sea Trials Progress for Indian Sub

November 2015

By Kelsey Davenport

The Nirbhay, India’s long-range cruise missile, lifts off during a test launch in the Indian state of Odisha on October 17, 2014. [Photo credit: Defence Research & Development Organisation of India]Sea trials of India’s first indigenously built ballistic missile submarine are going well and may include the first test launch of a nuclear-capable missile this month, an Indian official said last month.

In an Oct. 15 e-mail, the official confirmed reports in several Indian newspapers that the next steps for the sea trials of the INS Arihant include test launches of a cruise missile and a ballistic missile and that these tests could take place within the next month.

India, whose submarine program dates back to 1984, started work on the Arihant in 2009. The submarine’s nuclear-powered reactor went critical in August 2013, and it began sea trials in December 2014.

Indian officials have said that they plan to conduct test launches of the submarine’s missiles before the Arihant is ready to go on patrol. Currently, New Delhi says the Arihant will be handed over to the navy to begin service in 2016, ideally before the International Fleet Review, an international naval exhibition, in February. But the deployment of the Arihant has been delayed in the past.

The plan to test a cruise missile from the submarine may have suffered a setback after a land-based test of the missile was aborted last month.

In an Oct. 16 press release, India’s Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) said that, to “ensure coastal safety,” a test of the Nirbhay long-range cruise missile was “terminated” midway through its flight after “deviations were observed from its intended course.” The release said that the Oct. 16 test still met basic mission objectives successfully.

The Nirbhay is likely a nuclear-capable cruise missile with a range of 1,000 kilometers, although India has not confirmed its nuclear mission. India has tested the missile several times, including in March 2013 and October 2014. The March 2013 test was terminated when the missile veered off course. The October 2014 test was deemed a partial success by a DRDO official.

The other missile suitable for the Arihant-class submarine is the K-15, a two-stage ballistic missile that can carry a nuclear warhead an estimated 700 kilometers.

The submarine is designed to carry 12 K-15 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).

India has tested the K-15 missile multiple times, including from a submerged pontoon in 2013, but not from the Arihant.

The DRDO also is developing a longer-range SLBM, the K-4, which will have an estimated range of 3,000 kilometers with a nuclear payload. That range puts Pakistan and most of China within range if India launches the K-4 from the northern Indian Ocean.

India first tested the K-4 missile in March 2014. Each Arihant-class submarine could carry up to four K-4s.

Once the Arihant is on patrol, India will have a complete nuclear triad, which also includes the ability to deliver warheads via land-based missiles and bombers. Currently, only China, Russia, and the United States deploy nuclear warheads across all three delivery systems.

India will also join China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States as the only countries with a sea-based nuclear deterrent.

India has two submarines similar to the Arihant at various stages of construction. 

An Indian official said sea trials of its ballistic missile submarine are going well and may include missile tests this month.

Pakistan, U.S. Said to Be Talking on NSG

November 2015

By Daniel Horner

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (left) meets with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House on October 22. [Photo credit: Aude Guerrucci-Pool/Getty Images]Pakistan and the United States have been holding discussions about Islamabad’s possible admission into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and the Pakistani actions that would open the door to such a move, according to reports in several media outlets and accounts by a former Pakistani official and other observers contacted by Arms Control Today.

In these descriptions, Pakistan would take certain arms control measures and in return would gain the international legitimacy of membership in the NSG. The group, which currently has 48 members, sets guidelines for nuclear trade so that the exports do not contribute to proliferation. The NSG is not a formal organization, and its guidelines are not binding.

By all accounts, any NSG deal with Pakistan would be substantially different from the one reached with India in 2008. At that time, the NSG agreed to an exception to its rule that banned exports to countries such as India that did not open all their nuclear facilities to international inspections.

Admission to the NSG was not part of that package, but in November 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama endorsed India for NSG membership. (See ACT, December 2010.) The NSG, which operates by consensus, has not agreed to that step.

In conjunction with the 2008 NSG waiver, the U.S. Congress approved a cooperation agreement that allows nuclear trade with India although New Delhi operates nuclear facilities that are not under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.

Since the U.S. and NSG exceptions for India were granted, Pakistan has complained of unfair treatment and argued that the suppliers should adopt a so-called criteria-based approach for countries that do not meet the group’s requirement of a fully safeguarded nuclear program. Under this approach, these countries would have to take certain steps to demonstrate they are responsible nuclear states.

Like India, Pakistan uses its unsafeguarded nuclear facilities to produce material for a nuclear weapons program.

In an Oct. 27 e-mail to Arms Control Today, a senior administration official said the United States has “not entered negotiations” on a nuclear cooperation agreement with Pakistan and is not “seeking an exception for Pakistan within the Nuclear Suppliers Group to facilitate civil nuclear exports.”

A few days earlier, after Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Oct. 22 meeting with Obama in Washington, Indian media reported similar comments by an unnamed U.S. official. 

One congressional analyst said in an Oct. 27 interview that the senior administration official’s formulation might not preclude an effort to bring Pakistan into the NSG if it were by the criteria-based approach. The official declined to comment on that possibility.

In a report issued in August, Toby Dalton of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Michael Krepon of the Stimson Center said, “We agree with Pakistan’s position that membership in the NSG should be criteria-based, but only if the criteria strengthen nonproliferation norms—well beyond those adopted by India to gain the NSG’s stamp of approval in 2008.” For example, they propose that Pakistan limit production and deployment of short-range delivery vehicles and tactical nuclear weapons, “which are unavoidably the least safe and secure weapons in Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.”

If the NSG accepted Pakistan as a member and allowed trade with Islamabad, “companies other than those from China are unlikely to invest in Pakistani nuclear power stations,” Dalton and Krepon said. China currently has an active nuclear trade with Pakistan in spite of the NSG guidelines.

In an Oct. 27 interview, Feroz Khan, a retired Pakistani brigadier general and former director of arms control and disarmament affairs in the Strategic Plans Division of Pakistan’s National Command Authority, said discussions with Pakistan on “nuclear normalization,” including entry into the NSG, have been taking place “for quite some time.” Some of the actions under discussion were similar to the ones described in the Dalton-Krepon report, he said. But Pakistan and the United States have not agreed on “a clear road map,” he said.

The U.S. and Pakistani governments have not officially confirmed the discussions about Pakistani NSG membership, but an Oct. 16 Wall Street Journal story quoted a senior U.S. official as saying, “The idea is to try to change the dynamic, see if helping [the Pakistanis] on the NSG would be a carrot for them to act” to place some restraints on their nuclear weapons program.

The discussions were first reported by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius.

Pakistan and the United States reportedly have been holding discussions about Islamabad’s possible admission into the Nuclear Suppliers Group. 

Reconsidering the Test Ban Treaty

November 2015

By Daryl G. Kimball

Two decades ago, on August 11, 1995, President Bill Clinton announced the United States would seek the negotiation of a true, zero-yield global nuclear test ban treaty, thereby ending the practice of using nuclear weapons detonations to proof-test new designs. 

Clinton also directed the Energy Department and the nuclear weapons laboratories to embark on an ambitious and, at the time, unproven science-based stockpile stewardship strategy using surveillance, experimental modeling, and refurbishment to maintain the existing arsenal. 

The decisions opened the way for the conclusion of negotiations on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996. The treaty has effectively halted nuclear explosive testing worldwide (only North Korea has conducted nuclear tests since 1998) and slowed the global arms race. The International Monitoring System (IMS) established by the treaty to verify compliance is operational. With 183 state signatories, the treaty is now a centerpiece of the international nuclear nonproliferation system.

But the door to the resumption of nuclear testing remains open, largely because of the U.S. Senate’s highly partisan and rushed vote to reject ratification of the treaty in 1999 and the United States’ failure to reconsider the treaty in the 16 years since. U.S. inaction has, in turn, given the leaders of the seven other states that must ratify the CTBT for its entry into force an excuse for delay.

At an event last month commemorating Clinton’s 1995 actions, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Secretary of State John Kerry suggested that the Senate should re-examine the CTBT in light of the proven success of the Stockpile Stewardship Program and the advances in the IMS to verify compliance with the treaty.

“The factors that led some senators to oppose the treaty in 1999 have changed, and so, choices should change as well,” Kerry said.

At the event, the directors of the three U.S. nuclear weapons labs each provided their strongest public affirmation to date that the stewardship effort has been “a success” in “sustaining high confidence in the stockpile.” As Moniz put it, “[E]very science-based stockpile tool that had been planned [is] delivering results and, in many cases, well beyond the original expectations.”

Kerry noted that the IMS, which was still under construction in 1999 and is now 90 percent complete, is providing real-time data around the clock to detect and deter clandestine nuclear tests. In 2012 a National Academy of Sciences panel found that the IMS, national technical means of intelligence, and civilian seismic networks are now so powerful that no potential CTBT violator could be confident that a nuclear explosion of military utility would escape detection.

Kerry said he was “determined that, in the months to come, we’re going to reopen and re-energize the conversation about the treaty on Capitol Hill and throughout our nation.”

Such an effort is welcome and long overdue, but it cannot be done hastily. Bringing the CTBT back to the Senate for another vote requires a lengthy, intensive educational and outreach campaign to present the new information, answer detailed questions, and dispel old myths and misconceptions. To date, President Barack Obama has not devoted the effort necessary to ultimately achieve CTBT ratification, and in his short time left in office, he cannot win enough support for the treaty in this Republican-led Senate.

Yet, the renewed focus on the CTBT at this time is crucial because the treaty still matters for U.S. and international security in the 21st century. 

As Siegfried Hecker, the former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, has written, the main reason is that “it is critical to erect as many barriers as possible to the resumption of testing. Ratification of the CTBT and its entry into force is the most important such barrier.”

With the CTBT in place, the United States can reduce the likelihood of successful, clandestine nuclear explosive testing and inhibit the development of new types of strategic nuclear weapons by other countries. 

The test ban would make it far more difficult for nuclear-armed states, including China, India, and Pakistan, to perfect the more compact warhead designs that would allow them to field missiles armed with multiple warheads. It also would add another impediment for states such as Iran that might consider the nuclear weapons option in the future.

U.S. action on the CTBT would prompt other holdouts, such as China, India, Israel, and Pakistan, to consider ratifying the treaty. Even with possible U.S. reconsideration and ratification of the CTBT in 2017 or 2018, entry into force is still years away.

In the meantime, it is essential that U.S. leaders seek and support ways, including actions by the UN Security Council, to reinforce the de facto global nuclear testing moratorium and make it clear that further nuclear testing would be a threat to international peace and security.

Two decades after the decision to permanently forgo nuclear explosive testing, the United States is still not reaping the security benefits that would come with CTBT ratification. The Obama administration is right to invite senators to reconsider the CTBT. Before rushing to judgment, senators should carefully consider the new information and analysis of the issues surrounding this longest-sought, hardest-fought nonproliferation goal. 

Two decades ago, on August 11, 1995, President Bill Clinton announced the United States would seek the negotiation of a true, zero-yield global nuclear test ban treaty...

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