"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

The Enduring Value of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and Prospects for Its Entry Into Force



By Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director(1)

Presentation Delivered at the Ettore Majorana Centre, Erice, Sicily
August 22, 2008

"The one major area ... where the end is in sight, yet where a fresh start is badly needed, is in a treaty to outlaw nuclear tests. The conclusion of such a treaty, so near and yet so far, would check the spiraling arms race in one of its most dangerous areas. It would place the nuclear powers in a position to deal more effectively with one of the greatest hazards which man faces ... the further spread of nuclear arms. It would increase our security. It would decrease the prospects of war. Surely this goal is sufficiently important to require our steady pursuit ...."

-- President John F. Kennedy, June 10, 1963

The history of the nuclear age makes it clear that opportunities to reduce the risks posed by nuclear weapons are often very fleeting. When the right political conditions are in place, governmental leaders must seize the chance to make progress.

In 1958 and again in 1963, U.S. and Soviet leaders attempted to negotiate a comprehensive ban on all nuclear test explosions. They came close but failed to seal the deal. While the latter effort led to the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty, it took another three decades of on-and-off efforts to conclude negotiations on a comprehensive test ban treaty. During that time, hundreds more underground tests propelled further arms racing and proliferation.

Today, the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) remains a vital disarmament and nonproliferation instrument. By prohibiting all nuclear test explosions it impedes the ability of states possessing nuclear weapons to field new and more deadly types of warheads, while also helping to prevent the emergence of new nuclear-armed states.

Moving forward quickly on the CTBT is also an essential step towards restoring confidence in the beleaguered Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) regime. The nuclear-weapon states’ commitment to achieve the CTBT was a crucial part of the bargain that won the indefinite extension of the NPT in 1995 and the 2000 NPT Review Conference document.

U.S. Senate’s Untimely Rejection of the CTBT in 1999

Over the years, the importance of the Treaty to global security has only increased and international support has grown. Today, 179 countries have signed the CTBT, and 144 countries have ratified. Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate’s brief debate and untimely rejection of the CTBT in October 1999, coupled with the George W. Bush administration’s opposition to the Treaty, has slowed the momentum. Nine key states must still ratify to achieve entry into force.

Partially in response to U.S policy on the CTBT, some countries that have signed the CTBT, such as China and Israel, have delayed their ratification processes. Others, including India and Pakistan, have yet to sign the Treaty and are unlikely to do so unless the United States, China, and perhaps other hold-outs, finally ratify.

The situation is self-defeating and counterproductive. Given the U.S. signature of the CTBT and its test moratorium policy, the United States bears most CTBT-related responsibilities. Yet Washington’s failure to ratify has diminished its ability to prod other nations to join the Treaty and refrain from testing. At the same time, there is no need—nor is there any political support—for renewed U.S. testing for new nuclear warheads or for any other reason.

CTBT Helps Prevent Regional Conflicts and Avert Nuclear Arms Race

The CTBT is also needed to help head-off and deescalate regional tensions. With no shortage of conflict and hostility in the Middle East, ratification by Israel, Egypt, and Iran would reduce nuclear weapons-related security concerns and bring those states further into the nuclear nonproliferation mainstream. Action by Israel to ratify could put pressure on other states in the regions to do so. Iranian ratification would help address concerns that its nuclear program could be used to develop and deploy deliverable nuclear warheads.

Likewise, North Korean accession to the CTBT would help demonstrate the seriousness of its commitment to verifiably dismantle its nuclear weapons program through the Six-Party process. The ongoing India-Pakistan nuclear arms race could be substantially slowed to the benefit of both countries if they signed and ratified the CTBT or agreed to an equivalent legal instrument.

The CTBT would help limit the nuclear-weapons development capabilities of the established nuclear-weapon states. For instance, in the absence of a permanent CTBT:

  • China and Russia might test in order to make certain refinements in their nuclear arsenals. With further nuclear testing China might be able to reduce the size and weight of its nuclear warheads, which would make it easier for China to expand and add multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRV) to its strategic arsenal if it wanted to do so. This could dramatically increase the number of nuclear warheads China could deliver; and
  • India and Pakistan could use further testing to perfect boosted fission weapons and thermonuclear warhead designs, greatly increasing the destructive power of their arsenals.

The global norm against testing remains strong, for now. Yet the absence of CTBT entry into force also means that the full range of verification and monitoring tools, confidence building measures, and the option of on-site inspections, are not available to help strengthen the international community’s ability to detect, deter, and if necessary respond to possible nuclear testing.

Moving forward – Prospects for CTBT Entry Into Force

To begin to break the ratification logjam and pave the way for entry into force, leaders in key states must make the right choices in three key areas.

First, it is essential that the next occupant of the White House builds upon growing bipartisan calls for U.S. reconsideration of the CTBT and initiates a serious effort to engage the new Senate on the issue with the goal of winning two-thirds support for ratification by the end of 2010. This is a difficult – but attainable – task requiring favorable political conditions, strong presidential leadership, and a well-executed ratification campaign.

Today, of course, these conditions do not all exist but the prospects and pressure for U.S. action on the CTBT are increasing. A growing array of Republican and Democratic national security opinion-leaders recognize the value of the CTBT and are calling for its reconsideration. (2)

In addition, the presumptive Republican and Democratic nominees for the presidency have, to varying degrees, expressed their support for reconsideration of the CTBT. On May 27, 2008, the presumptive Republican nominee, Senator John McCain, delivered a speech on “nuclear security” in which he said:

“As president I will pledge to continue America’s current moratorium on testing, but also begin a dialogue with our allies, and with the U.S. Senate, to identify ways we can move forward to limit testing in a verifiable manner that does not undermine the security or viability of our nuclear deterrent. This would include taking another look at the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty…”

Whether McCain is interested in some new initiative to “limit testing in a verifiable manner” or will eventually find a way to endorse the CTBT itself is not clear at this point.

The presumptive Democratic nominee for president, Senator Barack Obama (Ill.) is on record in support of U.S. ratification of the CTBT. Obama said in a major foreign policy speech on 16 July 2008 that:

“…we’ll work with the Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and then seek its earliest possible entry into force.”

Whoever wins can at least be expected to take a fresh and early look at the CTBT – and perhaps do much more.

Implementing a Bipartisan Process to Achieve Ratification

Translating pro-CTBT statements into winning over skeptical Senators and amassing a two-thirds majority in favor of ratification will take strong leadership and the commitment of significant political capital.

One factor working in favor of a successful second CTBT ratification campaign is the fact that the current and future U.S. Senate is somewhat different from the one that rejected the CTBT in 1999. The number of new Senators is significant because it means that many who voted against the CTBT are no longer in office.

Nevertheless, Senators will need to be briefed on the issue and their questions and concerns addressed thoroughly, respectfully, and consistently.

If the new U.S. president is fully committed to the CTBT, he should consider appoint a special, senior CTBT coordinator, backed with substantial interagency support and resources, who is solely focused on winning necessary support in the Senate. The administration will have to map out a step-by-step process for laying out the case for why the treaty is in U.S. national security interests through public speeches, expert reports, and hearings on Capitol Hill.

An administration seeking Senate support for the CTBT will likely find it necessary at some point to offer or consider understandings and/or conditions that help address the concerns of some senators who might not otherwise support the CTBT. Conditions that contradict the definitions and requirements of the Treaty or that undermine support for the CTBT by other states should be avoided. Under no circumstances should such end-game bargaining be initiated early in the process of winning the Senate’s support.

A well-prepared ratification effort will have to focus on delivering more persuasive answers on key issues that were at the center of the 1999 debate, particularly:

  • verification of the zero-yield CTBT; and
  • the maintenance of the U.S. stockpile in the absence of testing.

On verification, the 2002 National Academy of Sciences report stated:

“The capabilities to detect and identify nuclear explosions without special efforts at evasion are considerably better than the “one kiloton worldwide” characterization that has often been stated for the IMS. If deemed necessary, these capabilities could be further improved by increasing the number of stations in networks whose data streams are continuously searched for signals. Underground explosions can be reliably detected and can be identified as explosions, using IMS data, down to a yield of 0.1 kt (100 tons) in hard rock if conducted anywhere in Europe, Asia, North Africa, and North America. In some locations of interest such as Novaya Zemlya, this capability extends down to 0.01 kt (10 tons) or less.”

Since the 1999 Senate vote and the 2002 National Academy of Sciences report, the International Monitoring System has only grown in size and sophistication. For example, more than 10 of the IMS primary seismic stations detected the ground tremors produced by the relatively small yield, Oct. 9, 2006 North Korean underground nuclear test explosion near P’unggye, according to the January 2007 newsletter of the CTBTO, Spectrum. The North Korean test blast was estimated by various national, international, and scientific monitors to be less than 1 kiloton (TNT equivalent) in yield.

More significantly, one of 10 experimental “noble gas” monitoring stations that are to be part of the IMS detected trace amounts of unique radioactive material that confirmed the explosion was nuclear. The station, which is located near Yellowknife in Canada’s Northwest Territories, detected two spikes in xenon gas readings, on Oct. 22 and 25, which, on the basis of atmospheric modeling, were consistent with the North Korean test.

When the combination of existing national means of intelligence, as well as world’s network of tens of thousands of civilian seismic monitoring stations, plus the option of on-site inspections are taken into account, no would-be cheater could conduct a nuclear weapon test explosion in underground, underwater, or in the atmosphere without a very high risk of detection.

The other key issue is whether the United States can continue to rely on its stockpile stewardship program to maintain its arsenal under a permanent CTBT? The short answer is: yes.

As the U.S. National Academy of Sciences reported in July 2002, the United States "has the technical capabilities to maintain confidence in the safety and reliability of its existing nuclear-weapon stockpile under [a test ban], provided that adequate resources are made available to the Department of Energy's nuclear-weapons complex and are properly focused on this task."

Though the Energy Department has determined each year for the last decade that the U.S. nuclear arsenal remains safe and reliable without nuclear testing, some claim—as they did in 1999—that as time goes on there may be age-related problems in the nuclear stockpile. (3)

The good news is that all of the technical evidence available shows that such concerns are greatly overstated. New government studies on plutonium longevity completed in 2006 have found that the plutonium primaries of most U.S. nuclear weapons have a minimum lifetime of 85 years, which is twice as long as previous estimates.

According to the National Academy panel, which included three former lab directors, age-related defects mainly related to non-nuclear components can be expected, but nuclear test explosions “are not needed to discover these problems and is not likely to be needed to address them.”

Rather, the panel says, the key to the stewardship of the arsenal is a rigorous stockpile surveillance program, the ability to remanufacture nuclear components to original specifications, minimizing changes to existing warheads, and non-explosive testing and repair of non-nuclear components.

Thomas D’Agostino, acting National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) administrator said in March 2007 that “stockpile stewardship is working. This program has proven its ability to successfully sustain the safety, security and reliability of the stockpile without the need to conduct an underground test for well over a decade.”

Nevertheless, the Bush administration has initiated a new and poorly defined program to design and build new warheads to “replace” certain warhead types already in the arsenal. A chief selling point for the so-called Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program is unsubstantiated assertion that the current approach to stockpile stewardship is unsustainable and unreliable and that RRW will reduce the likelihood that the United States will need to resume testing. The Department of Energy said in 2005 that the goal of the RRW program is to produce a small quantity of new replacement warheads by 2012-2015 for the W-76 warhead.

The W-76 was originally designed to minimize size and weight and maximize the explosive yield. According to a small minority of U.S. nuclear weapons scientists, this might make its nuclear components more sensitive to aging effects. In theory, the RRW is supposed to increase design margins (by using more fissile material) to maximize reliability.

But rather than build new replacement warheads at great cost, the United States could increase confidence in certain warheads by other methods, such as adding more boost gas to increase the explosive energy of the primary stage of the weapon well above the minimum needed to ignite the secondary or main stage.

NNSA officials also argue they can build replacement warheads without nuclear explosive proof testing. However, a recent report by an independent group of nuclear weapons scientists known as JASON found that it is by no means certain that the proposed RRW design can be validated as “reliable.” While many legislators have their doubts, some believe that if the new warheads are indeed more reliable, then test ban skeptics in the Senate should be more willing to support CTBT ratification.

It is doubtful that new warheads would be enough to convince the skeptics and may be more risky for the CTBT. Given that the new replacement warheads are years and billions of dollars away from reality, many CTBT skeptics might argue, as they did in 1999, that it is too early to tell whether the new warheads will work reliably and without proof testing. Furthermore, if Congress once again acts to cut or eliminate the Bush administration’s request for funding the RRW program (which is highly likely), RRW may be a non-factor in any future discussion about the CTBT.

It is also important to consider the fact that building a new generation of nuclear weapons to win support for a global test ban is contrary to the spirit of the CTBT, a chief aim of which is to end qualitative nuclear arms competition.

2. High-Level Diplomatic Pressure Must Continue on “Hold-Out” States

Not only must the next U.S. president and Senate act favorably on the CTBT, but the leaders of states committed to the CTBT must exercise much more consistent, top-level diplomacy in support of entry into force. The numerous statements by individual governments and regional groupings of states are essential but are not sufficient. Too often, they fail to press their counterparts in the nine CTBT hold-out states.

One important opportunity will arrive this September when foreign ministers from CTBT ratifying states will gather to issue their biennial joint statement calling for the Treaty’s entry into force. Another is the next Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the CTBT, likely to take place in the fall of 2009, to help prod the U.S. president and other hold-outs to approve the Treaty.

China merits special attention. For years, Beijing has reported that the Treaty is before the National People’s Congress for consideration but has apparently taken no action to win legislative approval.

3. The Test Ban and Civil Nuclear Trade with India

There is another equally important test of leadership on the CTBT: this week’s Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) debate on the Bush administration proposal for an India-specific exemption from NSG guidelines that restrict trade with states that do not accept full-scope safeguards. The United States’ August 6 proposal to exempt India from NSG rules should be rejected, in part because it establishes no meaningful response or mechanism if India tests again.(4)

It would be highly irresponsible for CTBT signatories in the NSG not to establish CTBT signature as a condition of nuclear trade. If, as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in July 2005, India is prepared to take on the responsibilities expected of other advanced nuclear nations, it is reasonable to expect that India should agree to a legally-binding test moratorium, as the five original nuclear-weapon states have all done.

Incredibly, Indian officials also want terms of trade that would allow supplier states to provide India with a strategic fuel reserve that could be used to outlast any fuel supply cut off or sanctions that may be imposed if it resumes nuclear testing.

The U.S. proposal flatly contradicts provisions in the 2006 U.S. implementing legislation that define the terms of U.S. nuclear trade with India. If NSG supplier states do agree to supply fuel to India, they must avoid actions that might enable or encourage Indian nuclear testing. At the very least, they should establish that, if India were to resume nuclear testing, all NSG nuclear cooperation with India would be terminated immediately and unused fuel supplies from NSG states would be returned.


CTBT entry into force is within reach. With the 2008 U.S. election and the 2010 NPT Review Conference approaching, it is vital to redouble efforts to secure ratification by key CTBT hold-out states, accelerate work to complete the International Monitoring System, and avoid developments that would damage the CTBT regime. The next one to two years may represent the best opportunity to secure the future of this long-awaited and much-needed Treaty.

1. The Arms Control Association (ACA) is a non-governmental organization established in 1971 to promote public understanding of arms control issues and to advocate effective nuclear, biological, chemical, and conventional arms control solutions. ACA publishes the monthly journal, Arms Control Today. Daryl G. Kimball has served as ACA’s executive director since 2001. He previously served as security programs director for Physicians for Social Responsibility (1989-1997) where he helped lobby for the U.S. nuclear test moratorium legislation of 1992 and negotiation of a zero-yield CTBT. Kimball was executive director of the Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers (1997-2001) where he led a group of NGOs in their efforts to win support for U.S. CTBT ratification.

2. “Toward a nuclear weapons free world,” George Shultz,  Henry Kissinger, William Perry, and Sam Nunn, The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 4, 2007.

3. “It’s because of the Stockpile Stewardship Program that I can stand before you today and tell you our current stockpile is reliable and safe today. So, what I fear most is not the reliability of the systems today.  I think they are reliable today.  I sense there’s a cliff out there some place and I don’t know how close I am to the edge of that cliff,” Gen. Henry Chilton, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, in a speech in Washington, D.C., July 22, 2008.

4. See “U.S. Proposal for India-Specific Exemption to Nuclear Supplier Group Guidelines Circulated August 2008,” an Arms Control Association Note for Reporters by Daryl G. Kimball < http://www.armscontrol.org/node/3274>.

Presentation by Daryl G. Kimball delivered at the Ettore Majorana Centre, Erice, Sicily.




Friday, January 19, 2007
11:45 A.M. – 1 P.M.
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Washington, D.C.

Transcript by
Federal News Service,
Washington, D.C.

DARYL G. KIMBALL: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. If I could ask you to give me your attention. Thank you very much.

Welcome to the second part of today’s program. It’s an honor to have so many friends and colleagues with us here today for ACA’s annual membership luncheon. I hope those of you who were downstairs enjoyed the morning session which was certainly a full meal in of itself and I hope you’re enjoying our California-style lunch.

We have a California-style speaker today, who I’m pleased to introduce to you. Howard Berman, congressman from California’s 28th District, is a senior member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. I think you’re the second ranking Democrat right now, correct? Since he joined the House in the 1980s, he’s been one of the leading, though I think unsung, heroes for nonproliferation in the Congress. As the Almanac of American Politics put it—always good to quote the Almanac of American Politics—“There are few House members who’ve made such an imprint on legislation in so many areas as Howard Berman.”

I know that from personal experience; working with his office last year on the much discussed and debated Indian nuclear legislation that he took the lead and offered some alternative legislation to the president’s proposal. He pursued this in a quiet and steady fashion. In the end, if you scrutinize the 50-page or so long piece of legislation, you’ll notice that there are important elements from Congressman Berman’s alternative bill that were eventually incorporated into the final bill that could be the saving grace of our effort to turn this nonproliferation lemon into some lemonade.

In 2005, Howard Berman also was the cosponsor of a bipartisan resolution, H. Con. Res. 133, which we’ve discussed at Arms Control Association events before. This was a vision for how the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) could be strengthened that was put forward just before the 2005 NPT Review Conference. That resolution was unfortunately not adopted by the full House and Senate. But some of the recommendations of that resolution appear in the op-ed in The Wall Street Journal that we’ve discussed at this morning’s panel that was written by Bill Perry, Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, Sam Nunn, and others.  I think Congressman Berman is going to be making some reference to that op-ed today and what it means for what the United States and the Congress should do to strengthen the U.S. government’s nuclear nonproliferation approach.

We thank you, Congressman Berman, for coming to address us and we look forward to your thoughts about what this new Congress can do to lead us forward and to provide some new vision and ideas for dealing with the multiple proliferation threats that we have today. We look forward to your comments. Thank you for being here. (Applause.)

REP. HOWARD BERMAN (D-Calif.): Well, thanks very much, Daryl. Your reference to being second in line reminds me of Tom Foley’s old story that when you’re in Congress and you hear that a member of your party, on your committee, more senior than you, has gotten sick, your first question is, is it serious? (Laughter.)

I’m happy to be here today, particularly because the Arms Control Association has a wonderful reputation. I have great respect for it, particularly because I used it so extensively in dealing with Daryl on the Indian nuclear cooperation legislation. You were part of the group that helped play an important role in educating me and other members and staff on a variety of very complex issues. While the legislation didn’t exactly end the way you wanted—my guess is you didn’t want it—your efforts helped make a bad bill better. Although, on balance, I think it’s still probably a bit of a lemon.

Unlike the administration’s initial proposal to implement the deal, the version enacted into law requires Congress to approve the final nuclear cooperation agreement with India by an affirmative majority vote. Before that vote takes place, the Nuclear Suppliers Group must approve an exemption for India, and India and the IAEA must complete a safeguards agreement.

The bill now includes language that prevents the president from waiving key portions of the Atomic Energy Act and includes a provision that terminates nuclear cooperation if India transfers nuclear or missile technology in violation of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) or Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) guidelines.

Finally, we got 184 votes—far more than I ever expected—for an amendment I offered to condition the exports of nuclear fuel on India’s willingness to halt production of fissile material. Given the strong opposition of the administration, given the tremendous investment by the Indian-American community in passing the legislation and keeping that kind of an amendment out, we really did much better than I think almost anyone thought. Based on my observation of the administration’s negotiating strategy with the Indian government, I think we might want to consider negotiations as an additional outsourcing opportunity, or that’s what we did in this case.

But as a result of this deal, India will be able to increase the size of its nuclear arsenal, since it will no longer be forced to use its scarce domestic uranium reserves to generate electricity. In response, China may push to cut a similar deal with Pakistan, which could further destabilize South Asia. But those are only two of the many nonproliferation challenges we face today and some of them are much more urgent.

North Korea’s launched nuclear-capable missiles, withdrawn from the NPT, conducted a nuclear test, and, some believe, may test again soon. Iran continues to enrich uranium in defiance of the international community and, if it continues on its current course, could have the capability to build a bomb in just a few short years.

Deeply concerned about the prospect of Iran becoming a nuclear power, other countries in the volatile Middle East, including Turkey, Egypt, and the Gulf States, have expressed interest in nuclear technology. Tom Friedman sort of crudely says, if there’s going to be a Shiite bomb, there’s going to be a Sunni bomb.

A. Q. Khan's nuclear black market opened up a whole new dimension of nuclear proliferation. Most troubling of all, the same terrorists that attacked us on 9/11 are dedicated to acquiring WMD and, unlike a state, can’t be deterred. Many of the people who have been dealing with these issues for a long time warn that the nonproliferation regime is teetering on the brink. Jessica Matthews, I think this is her base, recently remarked that the nonproliferation regime that has served us extremely well for years is today on the verge of collapse. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists just announced that they’re moving their hands on their doomsday clock two minutes closer to midnight.

But for me, the stunning development, which has been referenced already by Daryl, was the recent statement by Henry Kissinger, Bill Perry, George Shultz, and Sam Nunn in The Wall Street Journal, arguing for a totally new paradigm. They urge us to transform our entire way of thinking about nuclear weapons. They call for a rekindling of the vision of Reagan and Gorbachev at Reykjavik. I’m just going to quote it because before I knew we were going to talk about it, I had decided to quote it: “Nuclear weapons today present tremendous dangers, but also an historic opportunity. U.S. leadership will be required to take the world to the next stage, to a solid consensus for reversing reliance on nuclear weapons globally as a vital contribution to preventing their proliferation into potentially dangerous hands, and ultimately ending them as a threat to the world. Nuclear weapons were essential to maintaining international security during the Cold War because they were a means of deterrence. The end of the Cold War made the doctrine of mutual Soviet-American deterrence obsolete. Deterrence continues to be a relevant consideration for many states with regard to threats from other states. But reliance on nuclear weapons for this purpose is becoming increasingly hazardous and decreasingly effective.”

They end by saying, “reassertion of the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons and practical measures toward achieving that goal would be, and would be perceived as, a bold initiative consistent with America's moral heritage. The effort could have a profoundly positive impact on the security of future generations. Without the bold vision, the actions will not be perceived as fair or urgent. Without the actions, the vision will not be perceived as realistic or possible. We endorse setting the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons and working energetically on the actions required to achieve that goal.”

More astounding than what they said is who said it. Kissinger, I remember him as a college student and I always assumed that Dr. Strangelove was some composite of Henry Kissinger and Herman Kahn. (Laughter.) George Schultz, I still have an image of George Schultz that’s probably an apocryphal one, but he and Reagan’s other advisors grabbing Reagan by the shoulders as he left that room in Reykjavik exclaiming, you’ve agreed to what? (Laughter.) Go back in there and tell Gorbachev your fingers were crossed. As I recall it, Sam Nunn in the 1980s was closer to build up to build-down than to a nuclear freeze.

Everything we do on nonproliferation, it seems to me and what it seems to me they are saying is, would be more effective if we fundamentally change our perspective. If we continue on our current course, we may be able to delay the complete erosion of the nonproliferation regime, but unless we come to grips with this new paradigm, I think our efforts will ultimately fail. In that context, there are some critical things we should do to shore up the global nonproliferation system.

First, we must dedicate ourselves to the goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons, as we are obliged to do under Article VI of the NPT. While achieving this goal is not feasible in the short run, there’s no reason why we can’t start moving in that direction right away. Under the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, SORT, concluded with Russia in 2002, the number of our deployed strategic warheads will drop from about 10,000 in 1990 to less than 2,200 by 2012, a reduction of 80 percent.

But it’s clear we can live with even fewer weapons as we pursue our goal. An Arms Control Association report from 2005 recommends that 500 operationally deployed weapons and 500 more in ready reserve are enough. Within the next couple of years we need to start thinking seriously about extending the verification mechanism for SORT, which is currently set to expire in 2009 along with the START Treaty. That would be an excellent opportunity to focus on further reductions.

Second, the United States should take the leadership role on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). As you know, the Senate rejected the treaty in 1999, but since that time, we’ve become much more confident in the ability of our scientific establishment to maintain the safety and reliability of what will remain of our nuclear stockpile. With Democrats back controlling the Senate, though by a very small margin, we should diligently pursue the political feasibility of reconsidering the treaty.

With folks like Kissinger and Shultz on our side, perhaps the Bush administration will add this issue to the list of mistakes they are willing to remedy. The CTBT can’t enter into force until it is signed and ratified by 44 specific countries, including India and Pakistan. Strong U.S. support for the treaty and the ultimate goal may persuade those countries to get onboard. But if it doesn’t, we might want to consider the possibility of working with the P-5 (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and other like-minded states to propose a new test ban treaty that doesn’t have such rigid requirements.

Third, the United States should lead a major push for negotiation of a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT). Since the United States, Russia, Britain, and France have stopped production of fissile materials for weapons purposes as a matter of policy, and China’s also believed to have ceased production, this one should be a no-brainer. As you know, the Bush administration has tabled a draft at the Conference on Disarmament (CD) last May. That draft was criticized by many for not including any verification mechanism, but on balance I think it’s a step in the right direction.

I was interested to read Steve Rademaker’s piece in the December edition of Arms Control Today. Citing the conclusions of the congressionally mandated Gingrich-Mitchell Task Force on the United Nations, he makes a pretty persuasive case that the CD has become largely dysfunctional.

The fissile material cutoff treaty has been held up almost a decade by certain members of that Geneva-based body that seek to force negotiations on other proposals, like the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space, which has been opposed by successive American administrations. Rademaker argues that the real motivation underlying these efforts to block an FMCT is not a sincere desire to achieve a so-called balanced program of work, but a desire to essentially kill the FMCT. Whether or not you think an outer space treaty is a good idea, one has to agree that it takes some nerve on the part of certain countries to criticize the United States for not working to eliminate nuclear weapons and at the same time preventing consideration of the treaty that would end the production of fissile material for weapons.

To get around this stalemate in the CD, it might make sense to take the same approach as one might for an alternative to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty: assemble a coalition willing outside the confines of the CD to negotiate an FMCT and then open it up for the world to sign. If all the members of the P-5 were involved in such an effort, then you could gain some sort of endorsement from the Security Council, giving it added international legitimacy. Would this approach work? I don’t know, but we ought to consider trying it.

Fourth, we should abandon once and for all the Bush administration’s efforts to design new nuclear weapons, including the so-called Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, the bunker buster. At a time when we’re trying to convince other nations to abandon their bomb-making activities, these efforts to make nuclear weapons more usable strike many as the height of hypocrisy. We should be doing exactly the opposite: trying to devalue the currency of nuclear weapons and making the argument that their use, under any circumstances, has become unthinkable.

Fifth, the United States should be more aggressive in pushing for the creation of an international fuel bank. There are a variety of proposals on the table for the creation of such a bank, all of which would provide a guaranteed source of civilian nuclear fuel for countries willing to forgo the acquisition of enrichment and reprocessing technology.

This concept has been criticized by some as yet another effort to create nuclear haves and have-nots, but I think it could quickly win broad acceptance if it were implemented in a neutral fashion, understanding that the United States is taking a new approach to the ultimate goal of obligations under the NPT. Perhaps it could be done under the auspices of the IAEA. This should be a very good way for the United States to demonstrate that we are not seeking to limit the ability of countries, even Iran, from enjoying the benefits of a peaceful nuclear technology.

A few months ago, I would have mentioned the additional protocol as a sixth area for the United States to demonstrate leadership, but thanks to the efforts of Senator Lugar, the implementing legislation was passed as part of the India nuclear cooperation bill, albeit in an imperfect form. That process is moving forward.

Finally, in the context of these major nonproliferation initiatives, I’d like to commend Daryl and others at the association for their work on H. Con. Res. 133, the Nonproliferation Treaty Enhancement Act of 2005, introduced by one of the really smart and sensible people in our body, John Spratt. This resolution, which I co-sponsored along with 41 of my colleagues, reaffirmed the critical importance of NPT as the cornerstone of the global nonproliferation regime and urged support for both of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the fissile material cutoff treaty. I look forward to working with you on an updated version of this legislation in the new Congress.

Let me turn to some rather specific programs and then sort of bring this to a halt. Then I’d love to hear your comments because I am a little embarrassed talking about these issues to a group of people, some of whom I’ve known a long time, who know so much more and spend so much time focusing on these kinds of issues. But the House did pass, as part of our “six for ’06,” first 100 hours, however you count them, program, having met in January for the first time in 12 years. I mean, there are bad sides to winning as well as good sides.  (Laughter.)

We passed legislation to implement recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. That bill, which passed the House, includes a number of meaningful nonproliferation provisions, one of which is intended to strengthen the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). As you know, the PSI is the Bush administration’s signature effort to combat proliferation through the interdiction of weapons of mass destruction. The PSI is a useful innovation. But with no underlying treaties, secretariat, or formal obligations for participating governments, it’s now running up against the limits of its effectiveness. So in HR1 we urge the president to establish a defined annual budget for the PSI, clarify the roles and responsibilities of the Departments of State and Defense, and increase PSI cooperation with non-NATO countries. We also recommended that he seek a Security Council resolution to authorize the PSI under international law. We now have a majority who believe there is international law. (Laughter.) And we authorized expanding and formalizing PSI into a multilateral regime to increase coordination, cooperation, and compliance among its participating states in interdiction activities.

HR1 also creates a U.S. coordinator for the prevention of WMD and terrorism in the Executive Office of the President. It’s a great idea; it’s been kicking around for far too long. We’re not that happy with some of the provisions because it doesn’t give the coordinator any budget or personnel authority like that provided to the director of national intelligence. Hopefully, we can beef up this language in conference with the Senate.

Another provision of that 9/11 bill that passed last week removes some of the legal restrictions placed on the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program. If enacted, the president will no longer have to make a series of certifications before those funds are spent. Of course, we want Russia to comply with all the relevant arms control agreements, make a substantial investment of its own growing, considerable resources to dismantle weapons, and observe internationally recognized human rights. But our highest priority must be to keep nuclear materials and other WMD out of the hands of terrorists. The CTR program is critical to those efforts.

According to the Nuclear Threat Initiative’s latest issue of Securing the Bomb, 2005 was a relatively productive year in terms of securing nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union. But 15 years after the inception of CTR, much more remains to be done. Only 54 percent of former Soviet buildings with nuclear materials and 40 percent of sites containing Russian nuclear warheads have received security upgrades, only 40 percent of key border posts in the post Soviet space are equipped to detect nuclear smuggling, and only 35 percent of former Soviet weapon scientists or workers have sustainable civilian employment. Hopefully, the CTR provision in HR1 will play some role in accelerating this vital work.

I won’t take the time out to get into details of another provision of that bill, the Nuclear Black Market Elimination Act, that seeks to deal with underground nuclear networks like the one created by A. Q. Khan.

It’s easy to get caught up in the minutia of many nonproliferation challenges we face today but as Nunn, Kissinger, Perry, and Shultz argue so persuasively, we’ve got to focus on changing our fundamental assumptions. None of the major proliferation initiatives that I suggested we pursue are in lieu of diligently working to stop the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs or preventing terrorists from acquiring nuclear weapons. On the contrary, they just might make those efforts more effective. Even if they don’t, what do we lose by trying?

Tony Billings would probably remember and probably some of you were part of it, in the 1980s we tended to spend some time focusing sort of on these broader questions of arms control and proliferation. Really since the end of the Cold War, since the Republican takeover of the House—at least this member; I have a sense it’s a generally felt thing—believes we get very absorbed in very specific issues; we spend incredible amounts of time. I’m a member of the Iran working group and this caucus and all, and I have a lot of meetings and discussions about specific issues. But there is very little institutional framework for talking about the larger questions that are raised by that article and I think they are very important.

We used to have a breakfast that had outside groups and members who were interested coming together and talking about some strategies, but in a larger context. We don’t do that now. I’m wondering if in the wake of this article, which I think is very important because it has a crossover appeal, of finding a way to get some people to spend more time trying to get those of us who are in Congress, in the House and the Senate, thinking more about these issues. I have no doubt that there are people like Senator Lugar and others who do think a lot about it, but I think the larger issue has gotten lost for the very understandable obsession with trying to deal with these specific issues on a sort of case-by-case basis. With that I’ll stop. Thank you again for inviting me and I’d be interested in your comments about what we might be doing or any questions. (Applause.)

Let me do one thing, though, and that is introduce somebody who’s been a very valuable staff member for me. Many of you have interacted with him and that’s Doug Campbell, who works with me on these issues. (Applause.) He’s my legislative director.

KIMBALL: Comments or questions from the floor?

QUESTION: Congressman, my name is Norman Wulf. You have mentioned just at the end of your comments a lack of institutional structures in the Congress. I’m going to be so brave as to suggest there’s probably a lack of institutional structures in the executive branch as well.

When I first got into this business there was a vast network solely on nonproliferation. There was an assistant director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency that worked solely on arms nonproliferation. In the first of this administration’s terms, there was an assistant secretary whose sole responsibility was nonproliferation. Now the most senior person in the State Department whose sole responsibility is nonproliferation is a deputy assistant secretary. I’m wondering is there anything that Congress can do to help the executive branch have its rhetorical priorities also reflected in the administrative structures. Thank you.

BERMAN: Well, Congress helped to create the situation you are now bemoaning. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I wasn’t going to say that. (Laughter.)

BERMAN: For very different reasons, those who were in control in Congress and the Clinton administration, and my friend Madeleine Albright, wanted to bring things more under the State Department. I think the Republican majority didn’t like the idea of an agency called Arms Control and Disarmament, and we eliminated that. I always thought, apart from any other reasons, just the notion of somebody who doesn’t have to go through somebody else to get something to the White House on charge with these issues had a beneficial effect. I was against that merger but it occurred. We’re not going to undo that now.

I noticed in the context of the India negotiations, those people who were most responsible and interested in nonproliferation issues, it seemed to me, by the end were totally frozen out of the final negotiations. There are different reasons to be for the agreement and then some strong nonproliferation reasons not to be, but you didn’t get that mix into the final negotiations. It was as if people with nonproliferation interests enters, they would just be impediments to reaching the deal we have got to reach in the time we have got to reach it. I guess I want to think more about how to recreate—we mentioned a couple of things in the 9/11 bill—that institutional framework because I think you’re right. Yes?

QUESTION: My name’s Jim Lenard. There was a fair amount of discussion this morning downstairs on the danger of an American military attack against Iranian nuclear facilities. I think a pretty general agreement was that the consequences would be very far-reaching and utterly disastrous. I wonder if there’s anything the Congress could do to deter that possibility in the remaining two years of this administration?

BERMAN: We were talking about this at lunch just a few minutes ago. I told this story, which I guess I can tell again, about Brzezinski writing an op-ed piece maybe six months ago. Yes, it was in July in the L.A. Times. I’m sorry. My friend from The Daily News in Los Angeles is here. (Laughter.) That rapidly shrinking paper, the L.A. Times, that essentially said, this looks like Iraq—talking about Iran—it looks like Iraq, smells like Iraq, it feels like Iraq all over again. They’re going to do it, and here’s what happens if they do it, and then he lists a series of somewhat frightening and very negative consequences that would happen.

I happened to be going to the White House on one of those rare occasions where I get invited to go to the White House the next morning and I took a copy of that article with me.  At the meeting, Steve Hadley was there. I mentioned earlier this Iran Working Group that I go to the meetings of and Hadley was going to come over that afternoon and talk to them. I said, read this piece if you would between now and this afternoon when you come over to the Hill to talk to the Iran Working Group. I would be interested in your reaction. He came that afternoon and he basically said, well, other than the snide comments about the administration in the piece, he said, I have to tell you, I think Brzezinski underestimates the negative consequences of that kind of an attack. From that I took a sense that, notwithstanding some of the alarms, this administration really had no short-term intention of doing anything like that.

But then, as we were having lunch now, I’m thinking, but wait a second, in November a memo leaked that Steve Hadley wrote talking about why Maliki wouldn’t be somebody you’d want to trust with any particularly important mission, whether it was a matter of will or a matter of ability. This very lengthy memo was leaked into the press. Two months later, we are going to be the spine behind Maliki’s effort to put down all the Shiite militias. I guess things can change. But is there anything Congress can do? No, if they’re intent on doing it.

My guess is if it’s kind of a specific, targeted attack as opposed to an invasion, which I just don’t see that in the cards as realistic and possible, they won’t even think of it as something for which they have to come to Congress for an authorization for the use of force resolution. Look, right off the bat, I can’t see what we could do realistically to stop that from happening if that were going to happen. I’m not so sure it’s going to happen.

QUESTION: Jan Lodal. Congressman, given the president’s veto power, the Democratic majority in the Senate, and the next two years and so forth, and the president’s general authority over foreign policy and defense matters, could you sort of sketch a roadmap for how you see getting part at least of this wonderful agenda that you’ve set forth implemented in the next couple of years? How are you and your colleagues thinking about it in terms of what is both important and doable in the next couple of years?

BERMAN: Well, it assumes that me and my colleagues sit around and think. (Laughter.) But it’s things like that article that gets you thinking. I didn’t read it when it came out. I keep forgetting to read the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal (laughter). I’m just throwing out the idea that is there something about people like George Shultz and Henry Kissinger coming out for this that constitutes something? If it’s built on and Congress can bring people in for hearings and circulate it and distribute it and organize and channel it somewhat, can we get people to think about it or at least lay the foundation for reassessing what we’re doing in this area? I don’t want to give you a better answer off the top of my head. I’m still getting over the shock of reading the article.

I’ve talked about some things. It’s certainly something to say as we push some of these initiatives. It’s really something to talk about it. But part of the point of the article is the initiatives we want to push are more likely to be effective if we have gone back to fundamental assumptions and reassess those. It seems to me that was the key part of this. I’m supportive of many things the administration is trying to do. We want to push them harder, we want them not to get caught up in it, but they do seem to be changing. North Korea; that article yesterday was interesting. I want them to be successful in this. I’m just wondering to what extent this article raises the possibility that at least over the long term these efforts will be more effective. Yes?

QUESTION: Randy Rydell. Many issues that come to the attention of senators and congressmen have a high technical and scientific component to them; not just in the national security area, but across the board. Congress decided many years ago to abolish the Office of Technology Assessment. Do you expect that there will be an effort to bring it back and are you satisfied with the current level of technical advice that you receive?

BERMAN: I have a hard time understanding the technical advice that I receive. (Laughter.) There’s an internal process here. I had forgotten; your mentioning it just reminds me that they did that, and why aren’t we thinking about doing this? One of my many different hats, if we ever constitute ourselves, will be chairman of the Intellectual Property Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee. There we’re dealing with this whole issue of what you can patent? Talk about things that get technical. Bluffing is a very good trait.

You just gave me an idea because I know that Speaker Pelosi is very interested and seriously wants to pursue an “innovation agenda.” The Office of Technology Assessment; I don’t know if that reeks for some of an inappropriate government role. I guess it did. That’s why they eliminated it. But we’re not sensitive to that reek so I think this is something I’m going to take from this lunch and bring back.

QUESTION: I want to ask a little bit more on Jan’s roadmap question. You mentioned the 9/11 Commission nonproliferation bill. My name is Paul Walker from Global Green, U.S.A. The 9/11 Commission bill was excellent, particularly Title XII, which dealt with nonproliferation issues that you talked about, congressman. But there doesn’t appear to be any money, as we would say not much horse power, behind the bill. It’s good rhetoric, but we’ve yet to see what’s going to result from this. I wondered if you would tell us what you think the prospects of a large bill like this, 270-odd pages, might be in the Senate, and then actually getting signed or making it’s way through conference and getting signed by the president and putting some money behind some of the measures?

BERMAN: Well, we have been there only two weeks so there is a huge amount of work. You’re absolutely right. My guess is there’s next to zero chance that that bill that we passed will pass the Senate in that form. But there are dozens of ideas just in that title that you mentioned, as well as other things, that are going to become part of an agenda. In part because we were out of power for so long and because we lost, we understand that our majority is no longer an entitlement program. There is a much greater level of contact and communication between House and Senate committees.

I’m starting to see it already in staffers; how they squeeze in and fit in different kinds of things in different ways. The package may not look anything like that in the appropriations process, not for the rest to this fiscal year but for the ’08 fiscal year, in some of the legislation that does pass in homeland security areas. I think there are great opportunities to get different parts of that through, not looking exactly like H.R.1. But I wouldn’t discount or lose hope that we can actually do things. Many of the things we will do, I don’t think necessarily will be the things that get vetoes from the administration.

QUESTION: Matthew Bunn from Harvard University. Thanks for that very interesting talk. Following up on Paul’s thought, I think you shouldn’t write off this year’s appropriations in that there will be a large supplemental request coming up for the president’s budget and I would urge you to look at some supplemental appropriations for certain particular programs. Most of the programs to secure nuclear material and so on aren’t in fact largely money constrained. They’re constrained by limited cooperation with other countries and so on. But there are a few areas where a couple of hundred million more would make a big difference. I’d be happy to talk about that more specifically. You sort of glided over the part in HR1 about black-market networks and I’ll say candidly that I found a little of that provision a little disappointing, because it was essentially –

BERMAN: That’s why I glided over it. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: …a sanctions-only approach. I think there’s only so much you can do about the black market networks through sanctions. As I was saying this morning, I think we need a much more focused approach to helping countries around the world put in place effective export controls, effective transshipment controls, more intelligence sharing on what’s going on with individual brokers and technology marketers, and so on. I think there are opportunities for legislation to put those kinds of things in place, especially since we now have UN Security Council Resolution 1540 that legally mandates that every country in the world has to have these effective controls in place. We’ve done essentially zip so far to actually make sure that that actually happens. I think there are a lot of opportunities there to do more to prevent a recurrence of the A. Q. Khan network.

BERMAN: Yes. I agree. I assume a sanction on some shady Malaysian businessman that he’s not going to be able to do business with U.S. companies or get export licenses is going to have a major impact. We’ve talked about how do we create export regimes in individual countries and some multilateral programs to incentivize those kinds of regimes that distinguish the important from the unimportant, facilitate export of the things that aren’t risky, and then really clamp down on the dangerous stuff. We have done nothing on that whole world of export controls for years because it was such a fundamental conflict really between people like Henry Hyde and Duncan Hunter on one hand and the business community on the other hand. No one made an effort to reconcile those different views, both of which had some legitimate basis, and to produce something. This would be something we should look at. We’re getting too much work from this luncheon. (Laughter.)

KIMBALL: That’s the idea.

QUESTION: Thank you, Congressman. I’m Carol Kalinoski, a consultant here in town working on export controls and nonproliferation. With respect to HR1, especially the section B that proposes various sanctions, I would like to propose that the Congress be mindful that success in export controls only occurs is if we have multilateral agreement. If we have unilateral sanctions, the way it’s currently drafted, there is a large contingent in the industry exporting community that is concerned that the reach to foreign persons and corporations is an extraterritoriality issue that may call out what we call these blocking statutes amongst our allies. Unless we can get multilateral agreement, hopefully at the UN, so that it strengthens the work of the 1540, it’s going to cause more problems for the United States and its trade position than attack the illicit nuclear trafficking network.

BERMAN: Well, I’m not familiar with this blocking provision you’re talking about. I certainly agree generally. First of all, in sanctions, I think we are as extraterritorial as we can be. We’re up to the limit on sanctions and with marginal effects. There’s probably been some disincentives for some investment in Iran, but some consequences that’s hard to quantify. It sure seems to me that ultimately if export controls are not multilateral, they’re not going to work.

QUESTION: But just a point on the blocking statutes. It arises especially with the application of the U.S.-Cuba embargo. There are states, for example Canada, which have passed legislation making it a crime for Canadian companies to comply with the U.S. statute.

BERMAN: But that’s extraterritorial. How can they do that?

QUESTION: Well, the point is that if you were a U.S. company with a subsidiary in Canada, you have to choose which criminal law you’re going to violate.

BERMAN: Right. Yes. Plus it affects Bacardi rum or something. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I have one more idea for you. This is actually an old idea. One of the problems we face in the House is the jurisdiction on nonproliferation is split between Armed Services and Foreign Affairs. There’s a lot more creativity by the people in your committee, but at least the last several Congresses you’ve not passed an authorization.

BERMAN: An authorization on?

QUESTION: State Department.


QUESTION: The old idea was to have a specific title dealing with nonproliferation issues that came out of the Foreign Affairs committee and was attached on the floor to the annual defense authorization bill, which is going to get through the two Houses and will be signed by the president. I think there will be some interest on the part of the House Armed Services Committee of also doing that. The problem that we’ve got is the jurisdiction is between the two committees.

BERMAN: Explain to me when you say when—for instance the Export Control Act—we try to change the role of the Defense Department export controls, it gets sequentially referred to Armed Services. It’s basically a Foreign Affairs Committee jurisdiction.

QUESTION: Well, if you talk to them, they think differently. But all I’m suggesting is that a nonproliferation bill that was reported out of your committee that included many of the points that you’re talking about and that was offered on the floor with the support of Mr. Skelton, I think, would have a real opportunity of being adopted.

BERMAN: In the old days, Henry Hyde and Duncan Hunter saw things much the same way so it didn’t matter where the jurisdiction was because they agreed on where they didn’t want to go.

QUESTION: You got a good list of things. The question is how we get this signed into law, and I would be thinking about a specific title for the defense authorization bill that comes out of your committee and is offered on the floor.

BERMAN: A title to be added as an amendment to the defense authorization bill?


BERMAN: Which is a good bill to add it too because that bill usually gets signed.

QUESTION: That’s right. That’s exactly right. The defense authorization bill is going to get passed and signed by the president and it’s a good vehicle. Thanks.


QUESTION: Hi. Bill Courtney. The Reliable Replacement Warhead issue. Proponents say that if the United States were to go to a Reliable Replacement Warhead this would enable significant reductions in the stockpile that the United States would have to retain and could end a need for nuclear testing. Opponents say that plutonium primaries may last longer than previously thought, and so that doesn’t need to be done now. Do you have a view on that?

BERMAN: Yes. I’d go to the Arms Control Association, to the people I respect, and say, “What do you think of these arguments?” (Laughter.) Or to the Office of Technology Assessment. (Laughter.) But this is what the labs are pushing, right? So just one degree of skepticism, but I’ll be open. Yes?

QUESTION: Herbert Levin. Could you recall the extremely high vote in the House for the agreement with India, and give us some understanding of the motivations of the people who voted for that, putting aside administration stalwarts who would go for anything the president asked for?

BERMAN: Yes. Well, I could start with the people who did it for benign reasons. That’s me. (Laughs.) And then the others. No. (Laughter.) Look, we’re extraordinarily unpopular throughout the world right now. The notion of having a positive relationship with an important growing developing country has a certain appeal when you have hardly any other friends. (Laughs.) I’m serious in a way. People think that the U.S.-Indian relationship, and I think, it’s an important one.

There were other arguments made in favor of it involving energy, although I’m somewhat skeptical on just how much nuclear energy benefits India for environmental and energy purposes. But I think more importantly was the political relationship with India. To be honest with you, even people who were very stalwart nonproliferation people said, at this particular point, that that was very important.

There were two aspects for my decision. One was hearing some people I respect in the nonproliferation community saying, at this particular point, the downsides—once they’ve signed this agreement and pushed it up here—of killing the agreement mean you probably shouldn’t do that. You should try to make it better, you should try to improve it, but at this point, we would be far worse off having agreed to it, proposed it, and killed it than we would if we had never gotten into it in the first place. So that was part of it.

The second part of it just from my own point of view was this is a very different bill—whether it’s ultimately a critical difference, we’ll find out—than it was. It’s very hard to get them to make changes when you say, no matter what you do I’m going to oppose whatever. In other words, in many cases I didn’t get changes and people like me didn’t get changes because we ran over them on amendments. We persuaded them to accept a number of changes. We raised a lot of issues. But the implicit part of that deal, at least because of my role, was in the end that I was going to have to support the final product. Sometimes it’s good to have both. Ed Markey plays a wonderful role, I think, in raising these issues very strongly and passionately. But I also think there’s a role to try and get some substantive improvements in these things that you are pretty sure are going to pass anyway. You’re not going to make a critical difference, but you have to be part of that bargain. I think there’s a role for both and that was the role I decided to play here.

The other part of this is this became a matter of tremendous pride for the Indian-American community in this country. They were activated. They have extensive networks. They worked it very hard and promoted it. I’ve seen it in the context of other issues and there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s politics in America. But it played a huge role for a lot of Democrats who had no interest in the issue, who didn’t know what we were talking about, and who were not on the committees. Oh, so and so wants it or this group of folks came? Sure I’ll vote for it. That also was a big part of this.

At the very end, just on the little provision regarding what happens if the Indian government re-exports? I got very upset because there’s this Iran Nonproliferation Act. We were supposed to get a report on it about proliferation incidents to Iran and the administration wasn’t doing it. We had a hearing. We asked them, and I said, are there Indian proliferation things? I don’t know what’s in it was the reply. The next day after we passed the bill, they certified their report which showed that there were Indian entities that have proliferated. The picture is, oh, India never proliferates. Well, there’s some serious stuff from back in the 1970s, but there also are these ongoing problems. People came to me from the administration and said please, in the conference committee, make your provision sense of the Congress; get rid of this because this will kill the whole deal.

They’re going to get nuclear cooperation. All we’re saying is if they re-export missile or nuclear technology to somebody else [cooperation is terminated.] Are they going to walk away from an agreement which allows them to get nuclear cooperation over that? Oh, that’s what they’re saying, that’s what they’re saying, the administration told us. That was what they were saying, but they didn’t mean it. It was absurd on its face. My problem with our negotiators is that I don’t think we played out this string long enough. When you force yourselves to do something by a certain deadline, the other side hangs tough. They’re going to win. So I refused to change it. They kept it in the bill and the next day the Indians praised the agreement, never mentioned that provision, and they did a 180-degree turnaround. Yes?

QUESTION: Ali, Voice of America. Congressman, in your view, just slightly expanding the focus of the discussion, how significant is the threat of nuclear, chemical, or biological terrorism and what is it that the current administration is doing and in your view needs to be done?

BERMAN: Look, I’m going to assume the threat is quite serious because it seems to me that’s a better assumption than the opposite assumption. Without being a total expert on all that’s being done, I’m going to say I’m sure we’re not doing enough. I’m not quite familiar with what’s in place and what could be easily in place in terms of protecting reactors and in terms of detection machinery at ports and entry points. I’m not really that competent to speak in great detail on this, but I’ll start out with the assumption that it’s a serious threat and we’re not doing enough and sort of go from there.

QUESTION: Is there anything that you think needs to be done?

BERMAN: I’m trying to get out of a specific answer. Yes, I want to see more. I can think of all kinds of things we want to see done. I want to see us deal with the Russians in a different way. I want to see more Nunn-Lugar programs. I want to see greater rigor in our domestic inspection programs and security protection programs. I want national healthcare. (Laughter.) I’ve got a lot of things I want.

KIMBALL: Thank you very much. (Applause.)

BERMAN: Thank you very much.

KIMBALL: Ladies and gentlemen, please consider yourselves participants in one very large meeting with a member of Congress providing ideas. We’ll pursue many of these things with Congressman Berman and I hope our discussions will continue. I ask that all of you who have suggestions about how ACA can advance this big agenda that Congressman Berman talked about talk to our staff and our office, our board members, and I look forward to seeing you in the coming year. I hope you enjoyed your afternoon. Thank you. (Applause.)

Country Resources:

What's Next for India's Nuclear Trade Future: Key Issues before the IAEA, NSG and U.S. Congress



Fresh off the heels of a vote of confidence from parliament, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has renewed a push for nuclear cooperation between the U.S. and India. Late next week, the International Atomic Energy Agency's Board of Governors will meet to consider an unprecedented safeguards agreement for India. Soon thereafter, the 45 member states of the Nuclear Suppliers Group will consider an India-specific exemption to allow civil nuclear trade for the first time in 30 years. The NSG has restricted trade with India and other states that have not signed the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Only then would the U.S. Congress consider a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement between the U.S. and India. As these events unfold, a number of experts are raising alarms about the implications of this agreement on global stability.

Click here for a transcript of this event.


Press briefing to address key issues before the international community on the controversial proposal and outline key conditions and restrictions that would reduce the adverse impacts on nonproliferation.

Panelists include:

  • Ambassador Robert T. Grey, Jr., Director, Bipartisan Security Group, former U.S. Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament
  • Sharon Squassoni, Senior Associate, Nonproliferation Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association
WHEN: Wednesday, July 30, 2008, 9:30 - 10:30 a.m.

National Press Club
Murrow Room, 13th Floor
529 14th Street NW
Washington, DC 20045

RSVP Meri Lugo 202-463-8270 x100; [email protected]
Press briefing to address key issues before the international community on the controversial proposal and outline key conditions and restrictions that would reduce the adverse impacts on nonproliferation.

Country Resources:

Israel's Airstrike on Syria's Nuclear Reactor: Preventive War and the Nonproliferation Regime



A public event co-sponsored by the United States Institute for Peace, the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies and the Arms Control Association

On July 14, 2008, USIP, along with the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation and Studies and the Arms Control Association, co-sponsored an event to examine the nuclear nonproliferation implications of Israel’s September 2007 attack on a Syrian facility believed to have been a clandestine nuclear reactor under construction with North Korean assistance. The panel of speakers included David Albright, Institute for Science and International Security; Avner Cohen, USIP; Ambassador Thomas Graham, Jr., Cypress Fund; Dr. Fiona Simpson, New York University; Leonard S. Spector, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies; and Robin Wright, noted journalist. Daryl Kimball, of the Arms Control Association, moderated.

The speakers addressed various aspects of the Israeli airstrike and Syria’s secret nuclear activities, including Israel’s rationale for taking military action against the facility, the implications of the airstrike, Syria’s actions with respect to the International Atomic Energy Agency and what the IAEA might uncover in relation to the facility.

Albright pointed out the significant evidence that the facility was a nuclear reactor under construction. However, he said, there is little indication of other aspects of a nuclear weapons program in the country. He also argued that Syria’s nuclear proliferation highlighted the need to pay greater attention to the global illicit nuclear trade.

Cohen contrasted the September 2007 airstrike to Israel’s 1981 attack on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor, noting the differences in the nature of and international reactions to each attack. Spector called the muted reaction of the international community to the event “quite striking.” He speculated that the silence was because observers worldwide were “recalibrating” their reactions to such attacks in light of the Bush doctrine of preemptive warfare.

Wright discussed the Middle Eastern political dynamics behind Israel’s strike and suggested that Syria and North Korea did not protest the attack because of their fear of publicity about their own illicit nuclear activities. She also surmised that knowledge of the facility was closely guarded, and that many elements of the Syrian leadership, as well as other states in the region, were unaware of its existence prior to its destruction.

Simpson highlighted the differences between preventive and pre-emptive military action and noted the limitations of the IAEA inspection regime with respect to cases in which evidence of noncompliance is unclear. Finally, Graham discussed the roles of two different types of IAEA states—nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon states, with respect to the attack.

Cohen said, “It was a perhaps the first public discussion in town of an event which is still so publicly obscure. There are still many questions that need to be answered before we can fully evaluate the impact that the attack and Syria’s activities had on efforts to deal with nuclear proliferation.”

For more detailed information, transcripts and audio, go to the USIP Webpage.


A public event co-sponsored by the United States Institute for Peace, the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies and the Arms Control Association.

Country Resources:

Subject Resources:

“The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty at Forty: Addressing Current and Future Challenges”



Arms Control Association (ACA) Annual Meeting and Luncheon
Monday, June 16, 2008, 9:30AM - 2:30PM

1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.

The 2008 Arms Control Association annual meeting and luncheon focuses on the 40th anniversary of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and how the global nonproliferation regime can be strengthened to last another 40 years and beyond.

9:30 a.m. Panel Discussion: Addressing the Challenges Facing the NPT

Click here for the transcript of the morning panel.

  • Andrew K. Semmel, Private Consultant at AKS Consulting and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Nuclear Nonproliferation.
  • Sharon Squassoni, Senior Associate in the Nonproliferation Program of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

11:30 a.m. Luncheon Address: Making the 2010 NPT Review Conference a Success

Click here for a transcript of the luncheon.

1:00 p.m. Panel Discussion: How the Next President Can Strengthen the Nonproliferation System

Click here for the transcript of the afternoon panel.

Click here for CSPAN Coverage

  • Stephen E. Biegun, Representative for campaign of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.); Corporate Officer and Vice President of International Governmental Affairs for Ford Motor Company and former National Security Advisor to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.
  • John D. Holum, Representative for campaign of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.); former Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security and former Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.

Keynote by Ambassador Sergio Duarte, with a panel featuring representatives from the Obama and McCain campaigns.

Country Resources:

How NSG States Can Help Avert a Nonproliferation Disaster



Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association

Presentation to the HBF-ACA Seminar on

“The Proposal for Nuclear Trade with India,” Berlin, May 13, 2008

Forty years ago, the world’s states joined together to create the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). The NPT and subsequent review conferences have established a set of standards and norms that the vast majority of states have agreed to follow in order to reduce the spread and the dangers posed by nuclear weapons. The nuclear weapon states agreed to pursue nuclear disarmament, while the non-nuclear weapon states agreed to foreswear nuclear weapons so long as they retain access to peaceful uses of nuclear energy under strict and verifiable control.

These and other nonproliferation mechanisms have worked remarkably well when properly executed and when the international community has responded with unity to cases of noncompliance. For instance, in response to India’s 1974 nuclear test explosion, which used plutonium derived from Canadian and U.S. supplied equipment and material in violation of India’s peace nuclear use agreements, nuclear supplier states joined together to reinforce the NPT by forming the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Through national laws and the NSG, leading states severely constrained India’s access to the nuclear fuel and technology market and successfully helped constrain the growth of India’s nuclear arsenal.

In 1992, the NSG formally agreed to restrict nuclear trade with states, such as India, that are not members of the NPT and do not allow comprehensive, full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. In 1995, the NPT Review Conference endorsed the principle of full-scope safeguards as a condition of nuclear supply.

But now, the global system for controlling and eliminating nuclear weapons is under increasing stress. The troubles facing the NPT and the NSG derive in large part from:

  • The failure of a few states to fulfill their nonproliferation, safeguards, and disarmament obligations;
  • The failure of a handful of states to join the treaty; and
  • The failure of leading states, including the United States and others to consistently enforce their own nonproliferation and disarmament standards and laws. In the case of India and Pakistan, nonproliferation has too often lost out to competing economic and security considerations with negative results.

The latest example is the July 2005 U.S.-Indian proposal to exempt India from U.S. national laws barring nuclear trade with states that have tested nuclear weapons and do not allow comprehensive safeguards and to carve-out a country-specific loophole in NSG rules to allow a handful of nuclear supplier states to engage in nuclear cooperation with NPT hold-out India.

For its part India pledged to put an additional 8 of its electricity producing nuclear reactors under facility-specific IAEA safeguards by 2014. Six reactors are already under such safeguards. However, it did not commit to any binding restrictions on its ability to increase its nuclear arsenal or test nuclear weapons.

In 2006, the U.S. Congress adopted legislation, known as the Henry Hyde Act, that provides the U.S. president limited and conditional authority to exempt India from the law that bars trade with states that don’t allow full-scope safeguards. In 2007, the United States and India concluded negotiations on a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement, also referred to as a “123” agreement after the section of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act governing bilateral nuclear cooperation.

To implement the deal, further steps must be undertaken. The 35-member International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board has to approve a new and unprecedented safeguards agreement that would cover a limited number of additional Indian “civilian” reactors. Then, the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) would have to agree by consensus to exempt India from longstanding NSG guidelines that require full-scope IAEA safeguards as a condition of supply. If those steps are taken, the U.S. Congress could then consider whether to approve, reject, or add conditions on the proposed U.S.-Indian “123” agreement. Given the numerous discrepancies between the Hyde Act and the “123” agreement, [1] many members of Congress will want to closely examine and possibly place conditions on the resolution of approval.  If the NSG exempts India from the full-scope safeguards requirement, other states including France and Russia could also go forward with their own bilateral nuclear trade deals.

But now, two and a half years after President Bush and Prime Minister Singh proposed the nuclear deal, the arrangement is being buffeted by crosswinds of criticism at home and abroad. Since the Indian government and the IAEA concluded their talks on the new safeguards agreement in March of this year, several leftist parties – which help provide the United Progressive Alliance government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh its governing majority – have threatened to withdraw from the government and force an early election if the ruling Congress party takes the safeguards agreement to the IAEA Board of Governors.

Consequently, it is highly unlikely that the NSG meeting that begins May 19 here in Berlin will do anything more than discuss the proposal to exempt India from the full-scope safeguards condition of nuclear supply. In fact, I believe it is unlikely that the NSG will take a formal decision before the end of 2008.

India’s Unreasonable Demands

If the initiative doesn’t crumble as a result of domestic Indian opposition in the next few months, I believe it will become indefinitely stalled or significantly modified because a growing number of NSG states are unwilling to compromise longstanding nonproliferation and disarmament policies.

Why? While many NSG member states support India’s legitimate nuclear energy goals, the terms proposed by India and the United States go far beyond what many of them are willing—or should be asked--to accept.

The Singh government is seeking unprecedented “India-specific” safeguards that it has asserted shall apply only so long as foreign supplies continue.  Although P.M. Singh reiterated India’s support for a nuclear test moratorium, the U.S.-Indian “123” agreement and draft NSG proposal both fail to explicitly state that renewed Indian testing would lead to a termination of nuclear trade. To improve its fuel production and spent fuel reprocessing capabilities, the Singh government has fought tooth and nail to secure access to enrichment and reprocessing technologies from the United States and other nuclear suppliers for its long-planned fast-breeder reactor program, but which could also be used to improve its military nuclear program.

For those in India who believe it is essential to protect the option to increase the size of India’s arsenal, perfect new warhead designs through renewed nuclear testing, and to obtain more advanced plutonium reprocessing and uranium enrichment technology, such terms may seem logical, if not vital.

It is for India to decide what is best for India, but other states are under no obligation to agree to India’s terms. In fact, the 188 states that are party to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty have taken on solemn legal and political responsibilities that bar any form of assistance to another state that might support a military nuclear program and to support nuclear disarmament initiatives—responsibilities that make it difficult for them to agree to India’s preferred terms of nuclear trade.

Under Articles II and III of the NPT, member states are legally bound to support effective and permanent safeguards against the diversion of technology that might also help in the making of nuclear bombs or bomb material. Under Article VI, they are all legally bound to support measures that would help end the arms race and lead to disarmament. These include the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which 177 states, including the original five nuclear weapon states, have signed. India refuses to sign. Under Article VI, NPT states are bound to pursue a halt to the production of fissile material for weapons purposes.

While Prime Minister Singh restatement India's support for the negotiation of a global fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) is a positive statement, it is not a new or meaningful pledge. India has for several years stated its support for the negotiation of a global, verifiable FMCT. Yet negotiations toward such a treaty have been deadlocked at the Conference on Disarmament since the late 1990s due to differences over negotiating priorities.

NPT member states must also consider the very real possibility that the supply of nuclear fuel to India could free-up its existing (and limited) stockpile and capacity to produce highly enriched uranium and plutonium for weapons. This could allow for the rapid expansion of India's nuclear arsenal from the current rate of some 6-10 bombs annually to several dozen annually. As a result, the United States and other nuclear fuel suppliers could be indirectly assisting India’s nuclear bomb program in violation of their obligation under Article I of the NPT not to assist in any way other states’ nuclear weapons programs.

Furthermore, India’s failure to agree to halt its production of fissile material for weapons (as four of the five original nuclear-weapon states claim to have done and as China is believed to have done) strikes many states as inconsistent with it policy of maintaining a “minimal credible deterrent.” There is no strategic rationale for India amass more than 100 bombs worth of nuclear weapon material when other potential strategic rivals do not possess significantly larger weapons arsenals.

These are real and legitimate concerns that should not be dismissed as unreasonable demands issued by states that would deny what many nuclear nationalists in India believe is a “right” join the few nuclear weapons “haves.” Rather, these are concerns based on the concept that all states should comply with a common set of nuclear weapons restraint measures and that no single state, or group of states, should have a “most favored” nuclear weapons status.

India Would Still Be Outside the Nonproliferation Mainstream

Advocates of the deal in the United States and the other states that might profit from nuclear reactor and fuel sales to India claim that the deal is, on balance, worthwhile because it would bring India into the nuclear nonproliferation mainstream.  Even IAEA Director-General Mohammed El Baradei, who oversees an agency that is mandated to help promote nuclear energy everywhere, has made vague but unsubstantiated claims in support of the deal.

But a sober and careful analysis make it abundantly clear that El Baradei and others who claim  the nuclear deal will strengthen the nonproliferation regime are dead wrong. The nuclear deal fails to bring India into conformity with the nonproliferation behavior expected of responsible nuclear states.

As I and a group of other nonproliferation experts wrote the Director-General in July 2006, the nuclear deal would provide India nuclear trade benefits reserved for countries that have forsworn nuclear weapons or those legally bound to give them up; neither of which is true of India.  The U.S.-Indian deal is not an effective way to restructure the NPT system and would lead to the further unraveling of the basic security bargain established between the nuclear haves and have-nots.

Making any exemption to the nonproliferation rules might only be justified if the nonproliferation and disarmament commitments outlined in the Bush-Singh statement of July 2005 significantly strengthened the global nonproliferation and disarmament system. As of now, they do not.

What Should Be Done?

Nevertheless, unless key members of the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group are prepared to exert the necessary leadership, decisions that may taken within weeks or months at the IAEA Board of Governors and the Nuclear Suppliers Group on the India nuclear deal could further undermine the NPT.

Thankfully, most NSG states appear reluctant to make far-reaching exceptions to existing international nuclear nonproliferation practices and many rightly believe that India should in the very least abide by the same nuclear restraint measures that are expected of other major nuclear states.

First of all, NSG members should not be in any rush to exempt India from NSG rules or commit to support such an exemption, especially given the uncertain degree of support for the arrangement inside India.

If the proposal is advanced later this year or next, at an absolute minimum, the NSG should reject India’s demand for a “clean” exemption from NSG guidelines and insist upon the minimal but still vital requirements established by the U.S. Congress in the Henry Hyde Act of 2006.

Among other things, the Hyde Act requires:   

  • The immediate termination of all nuclear trade with India if New Delhi resumes nuclear testing or violates its safeguard commitments. India, which has not signed the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, is seeking terms would allow continued nuclear trade even if it resumes testing.  
  • An IAEA-India safeguards agreement that applies in perpetuity to all nuclear materials, equipment, and technology and all civilian nuclear facilities in India. New Delhi is seeking an unprecedented “Indian-specific” safeguards agreement that would allow it to remove certain reactors from safeguards if fuel supplies are interrupted, even if that is because it resumes testing.  
  • A clear prohibition on the transfer of enrichment, reprocessing, and heavy water production technology for Indian national facilities. IAEA safeguards cannot prevent India from using knowledge gained from the importation of these sensitive technologies in its nuclear weapons program.

If the NSG fails to establish these restrictions and conditions, NSG guidelines would be less stringent than U.S. law and policy. As a result, other less constrained suppliers such as Russia and France would gain a commercial advantage and undermine longstanding U.S. nonproliferation objectives.

However, if NSG states take their nonproliferation obligations seriously, they should apply further conditions and restrictions than were adopted by the U.S. Congress and take responsible action in six key areas:

First, with respect to the new safeguards agreement with the IAEA, which are almost purely symbolic and hardly worth their ten million dollar or more annual costs, the IAEA Board could and should reject any Indian statement or interpretation that makes the safeguards contingent on the continuation of foreign fuel supplies, which runs counter to the principle of permanent safeguards.

IAEA member states must also consider the fact that partial safeguards in a state with a known nuclear weapons program are purely symbolic and hardly worth their cost, which will be ten million U.S, dollars or more a year. These costs will be paid by individual IAEA member states through the IAEA general fund.

Second, India pledged in July 2005 to conclude an Additional Protocol to its safeguards agreement. NSG states will likely insist that India and the IAEA conclude a meaningful Additional Protocol safeguards regime before any India-specific NSG exemption takes effect. So far, neither the Indian nor the U.S. governments have explained how the Additional Protocol will apply to Indian nuclear facilities or when.

Third, the current U.S. proposal to exempt India from NSG guidelines India would, in the case of a resumption of nuclear testing by India, make the suspension of nuclear trade optional for NSG members. This elastic approach to NSG guidelines should be rejected because it  would undercut the international norm against nuclear testing and make a mockery of NSG guidelines. Instead, NSG members should insist that an exemption from the full-scope safeguards requirement would be automatically revoked in the event of a nuclear test explosion.

Fourth, India is seeking an exemption from NSG guidelines that would open the way for other nuclear suppliers to transfer sensitive plutonium reprocessing, uranium enrichment, or heavy water production technology to India.

This should be a red flag to NSG states because IAEA safeguards cannot prevent such technology from being replicated and used in India’s weapons program. At the moment, the vast majority of NSG members support a proposal for a new NSG guideline that would bar transfers of these sensitive nuclear technologies to non-NPT members, states that have not concluded an Additional Protocol agreement with the IAEA, or states that are not in full compliance with their safeguards agreements. This would exclude India from NSG supplies of enrichment and reprocessing items.

This so-called criteria based proposal to tighten enrichment and reprocessing transfers will be the top items at this month’s NSG meeting in Berlin. Whether it is adopted or not, it is highly unlikely that NSG members will consent to nuclear transfers to India involving reprocessing, enrichment, or even heavy water production items.

Fifth, NSG states should flatly reject India’s attempts to secure nuclear fuel supply guarantees for the lifetime of their reactors to overcome the possibility that foreign suppliers might cut off nuclear trade if India decides to resume nuclear testing or violates its safeguards agreement. Instead, as the Hyde Act suggest, NSG states should stipulate that if NSG states provide nuclear fuel supplies to India, they should only be “commensurate with reasonable reactor requirements,” and not constitute a multi-year strategic fuel reserve.

Finally, NSG states must also take their NPT and UN Security Council commitments seriously. In keeping with the Article VI requirement on all NPT states to support measures that would help end the arms race and lead to disarmament, they should reiterate the call in UNSC 1172 of 1998 that calls upon India to reconsider and sign the CTBT and, along with Pakistan, halt fissile material production for weapons.


Now is the time for Germany (the incoming chair of the NSG) to work with responsible members of the NSG to insist upon guidelines for trade with India that, at the very least, incorporate the minimal requirements mandated by U.S. law, and ideally, go further to minimize the damage to the already beleaguered global nonproliferation system.

For several months, the Arms Control Association and dozens of other nonproliferation experts and nongovernmental organizations have been working to draw attention to the flaws in the nuclear deal and propose fixes. For instance, we organized a letter to NSG member states and several IAEA Board of Governors states in January of this year that was endorsed by more than 130 NGOs and experts from 23 countries.[2]

Based on my conversations with NSG diplomats in recent weeks, I am fairly confident that many of many of our recommendations have broad support within the NSG, and as a result, the proposal will have to be substantially modified and conditioned if it is to gain approval.

If India’s leaders cannot even abide by these minimal standards and decide to reject the deal, that is their choice. However, before they do, they should consider whether continued fissile material production, the option to test again, access to reprocessing and enrichment technology, and special safeguards are worth the cost of losing access to international fuel supplies and power reactors. A careful and sober examination of these questions suggest that the purported security benefits of expanding and modernizing India’s nuclear weapons arsenal and the economic benefits of reprocessing spent nuclear fuel are illusory and their cost are high.

Given India’s laudable past efforts and calls for a nuclear weapons free world, it is also unfortunate that the U.S.-Indian nuclear cooperation proposal has not prompted deeper thinking and discussion within India about the role of its nuclear weapons and why it needs any greater capability.

To this day, Indian politicians cite former P.M. Rajiv Gandhi’s visionary 1988 proposal for nuclear disarmament as a blueprint for action. Realizing its goals will take more than just talk on the part of India’s leaders. It requires leadership by example. While the U.S. and Russia have undertaken several of the “phase I” steps in the Gandhi plan, India now resists two key elements of the plan: the CTBT and a “cessation of the production of nuclear weapons by all nuclear weapon states.” If India were to offer its support for these initiatives, its reentry into the international civil nuclear energy market would be wholeheartedly welcomed and not so vigorously resisted.

1. “U.S.-Indian Nuclear Agreement: A Bad Nuclear Deal Gets Worse,” Background Memo by Fred McGoldrick and Daryl Kimball, August 3, 2007. See <http://www.armscontrol.org/pressroom/2007/20070803_IndiaUS >

2. “Fix the Proposal for Renewed Nuclear Cooperation with India,” Letter from Nongovernmental Organizations, January 7, 2008. See <http://www.armscontrol.org/pressroom/2008/NSGappeal >

Presentation to the HBF-ACA Seminar, Berlin

START Anew: The Future of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty



Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association

Presentation for Roundtable Discussion, Carnegie Moscow Center

May 12, 2008

As a result of the landmark U.S.-Russian Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), our two nations are safer and the world is safer. START helped curb the Cold War nuclear competition by substantially and verifiably reducing U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear weapons holdings.

START slashed strategic nuclear forces of the two sides from 1990 levels of approximately 10,000 deployed warheads each to no more than 6,000 warheads apiece by December 5, 2001. (See Appendix I.) The accord also limits each side to 1,600 strategic delivery vehicles (land- and submarine-based ballistic missiles, plus heavy bombers) and mandates the destruction of most excess delivery systems. In addition, START established a far-reaching system of notifications and inspections that provides an accurate assessment of the size and location of each side’s forces.

START also prohibits interference with national technical means of intelligence, operating in a manner consistent with the recognized principles of international law. START bans the use of concealment measures that impede verification by national technical means.

National technical means are buttressed by a system of cooperative measures which make it easier for satellites to monitor the numbers and locations of strategic forces. START further bans most forms of telemetry encryption during flight tests of ICBMs and SLBMs, which provides additional confidence that such tests are not being used for illegal purposes.

START provides agreed procedures for the conversion or elimination of systems, which provides assurance that such reductions are genuine and cannot be easily reversed. A special system of notifications in numerical and geographical constraints helps control the numbers and locations of mobile ICBMs.

While the U.S. and Russia reached the START-mandated weapons ceilings back in 2001, START still provides a channel through which U.S. and Russian military leaders, bureaucrats, and experts can communicate, allowing them to discuss particular issues and settle disagreements. It provides U.S. and Russian political leaders with predictability and transparency about how each will handle the world’s largest and most deadly nuclear arsenals.

Will START Stop?

Unfortunately, after nearly a year of off-and-on talks on the future of START, it appears that the United States and Russia will not conclude an agreement on the future course of action regarding START before President George W. Bush leaves office. According to our sources in the U.S. State Department, currently there is no follow-up meeting scheduled between the two sides on the matter following the April meeting of Presidents Bush and Vladimir Putin at Sochi.

If the two sides do not succeed in reaching an agreement on the future of START before the end of 2008—and it is not likely that they will—the next U.S. presidential administration will have relatively little time to work out an arrangement on START with President Dmitry Medvedev before START’s scheduled expiration date of December 5, 2009.

Leaders in Washington and Moscow must do better. Although the 1991 START system may require adjustments to reflect present-day realities, it continues to serve as an important foundation for deeper, faster, and irreversible reductions in U.S. and Russian arsenals. Further verifiable reductions in warheads and delivery systems are essential if we are to head-off renewed U.S.-Russian strategic competition and reduce the dangers posed by these excessive, obsolete, and deadly arsenals.

My remarks today will outline:

  • The current impasse facing START;
  • The views of key U.S. Republican and Democratic lawmakers on the subject; and
  • Possible next steps for U.S. and Russian leaders to preserve key elements of START and achieve deeper and verifiable U.S. and Russian strategic reductions.

Missed Opportunities and Multitudes of Weapons

The recent inability to develop a common future strategy for START is nothing new. In the 17 years since START was negotiated and signed, efforts to ratify and implement the follow-on START II of 1993 [1] and plans to begin formal talks on a START III framework agreement [2] have been sidetracked by differences between Washington and Moscow on other issues, primarily missile defenses. Instead of START II or START III, the United States and Russia agreed in May 2002 to the useful but very inadequate Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), which calls for deeper reductions in operationally deployed strategic warheads to 1,700-2,200 each by the year 2012.

Unlike START, SORT does not establish any limits on strategic nuclear delivery systems nor does it mandate the destruction of those delivery systems. Excess warheads may be stored, and no new verification mechanism was established. Making matters worse, the two sides were unable to agree on a common system for monitoring compliance with the limits on deployed warheads and the treaty expires on the day its limitations take effect.

From the perspective of the Bush administration, SORT provides the flexibility to adjust U.S. nuclear forces up or down, depending on the international situation. But SORT’s emphasis on flexibility undermines predictability and confidence in the U.S.-Russian nuclear relationship.

Partly as a result of this history of missed opportunities and nuclear policy inertia, the U.S. and Russia are not true allies, and mutual suspicions linger. Today, the U.S. and Russia deploy some 3,000 to 4,000 strategic nuclear warheads and they store thousands of additional strategic and sub-strategic nuclear warheads, some of which could theoretically be redeployed within weeks or months. The United States is not sure about Russia’s current number of deployed strategic warheads because SORT did not establish a common set of counting rules.

The unsettled nature of the U.S.-Russian nuclear relationship and the rules to manage it are reflected in the differences between the current warhead levels as measured by SORT and START. According to the latest unclassified U.S. government declaration on the number of operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads, the United States deployed at the beginning of 2008 some 2,871 strategic nuclear warheads. (See Appendix II.)

In contrast, according to the latest START memorandum of understanding and START counting rules, the United States has some 5,900 strategic warheads deployed on 1,225 strategic nuclear delivery systems (land- and sea-based ICBMs and bombers). The different figures are due largely to the fact that the United States has converted a large number of its bombers and missiles to conventional missions, eliminated 50 MX missiles and 40 Minuteman IIIs, and it has substantially reduced (or downloaded) the number of strategic nuclear warheads on key land- and sea-based missile systems. Yet, those warheads and delivery systems are still START accountable.

The shortcomings of SORT and the failure of Washington and Moscow to make progress on disarmament beyond the numerical goals outlined a decade ago in START III has reinforced the view among the majority of non-nuclear-weapon states that the five original nuclear-weapon states-parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) do not intend to pursue their NPT-related nuclear disarmament commitments. This has complicated efforts to win support from the non-nuclear-weapon majority who will continue to resist new measures to restrict the spread of sensitive nuclear technologies, strengthen the safeguards system, and respond to cases of noncompliance.

Given that U.S. and Russian officials have so far been unable to agree on the future of START and neither government appears ready to extend START in its current form past its scheduled expiration on December 5, 2009, the situation could get even messier.

The U.S. intelligence community believes, as I am sure the Russian intelligence community believes, that its ability to monitor strategic nuclear weapons holdings would be significantly hindered in the absence of START. If no new verification mechanisms are established, a former U.S. verification official told Arms Control Today in 2005 that the two countries would be “flying blind” in their nuclear relationship.

The loss of START would compound the existing tensions between Washington and Moscow over U.S. plans to install missile interceptors in Poland, as well as Russian worries that the United States might redeploy its reserve nuclear forces and utilize leftover nuclear delivery systems for conventional strike missions. At the same time, Russia is pursuing new strategic missile systems and plans to increase the number of warheads carried by certain missile systems.

The Status of Talks on START

Following President Putin’s call for a new round of U.S.-Russian strategic arms reductions talks in mid-2006, U.S. and Russian experts began discussions in March 2007 on follow-on measures to START, but the two sides have not been able to bridge differences on several core issues. Russia favors negotiating a new treaty that would reduce strategic nuclear warheads to less than 1,500 each, with specific limits on delivery systems. The Bush administration rejects further weapons limits, but has agreed to negotiate legally-binding transparency and confidence-building measures.

While both sides want some verification measures after START, there are differences in their approaches. Russia claims that more intrusive measures, such as on-site inspections, would need to be included in a legally-binding agreement as required by Russia’s domestic laws. U.S. negotiators have argued for understandings that would allow for “visits” to each other’s weapons storage sites.

Given the differences between the White House and the Kremlin on the future of START, the prospects for a new legally binding agreement before the end of 2008 look dim. The next U.S. president, who will enter office in January 2009, will have limited time to work with President Dmitry Medvedev on a new arrangement before START lapses.

Views of Key Lawmakers and the Presidential Candidates

Although the START clock is ticking, the good news is that there is strong support from key Republican and Democratic lawmakers that the U.S. and Russia must make further progress on legally-binding strategic nuclear reductions. Much of the emphasis and concern is focused on the loss of the verification protocols of START.

As Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said in October 2007, “[T]he administration must reject the arguments from some that suggest the U.S.-Russian relationship has moved beyond the need for legally binding treaties.”

In January, Lugar was more specific, when he said “Presidents Bush and Putin must extend the START Treaty’s verification and transparency elements … and they should work to add verification measures to the Moscow Treaty.”

Just last week, Lugar pressed the point again at the nomination hearing of William Burns, the incoming undersecretary of state.

Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Joseph Biden (D-Del.) wrote March 2008 in The Wall Street Journal that “losing the transparency and stability these treaties provide would be a monumental failure for the U.S. and Russia.” Presidents Bush and Putin, he wrote, have “largely abdicated these responsibilities. Their successors will have to act immediately to revitalize both accords.”

In June 2007, 28 key members of the House of Representatives urged action to extend START and achieve deeper reductions. Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), Chair of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the Armed Services Committee and others suggested that President Bush “… carefully consider extending START in its current form in order to enable your and President Putin's successors to negotiate a new legally binding agreement that achieves greater, verifiable reductions in each nation's nuclear forces.”

With new leadership in the White House next year, there is indeed the potential for substantial progress. Each of the remaining U.S. presidential candidates has expressed support for renewed U.S. leadership on nuclear disarmament. In varying degrees of specificity, each has outlined what actions they would pursue.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has said he would seek “world in which there are no nuclear weapons,” and with Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), introduced legislation in 2007 (S. Res. 1977) outlining a strategy to fortify U.S. nonproliferation and disarmament policy.

In that bill Obama and Hagel suggest “taking further steps to achieve deeper, verifiable reductions in global nuclear arsenals and their means of delivery; initiating talks with the Government of the Russian Federation to reduce the number of non-strategic nuclear weapons and further reduce the number of strategic nuclear weapons in the respective nuclear stockpiles of the United States and the Russian Federation in a transparent and verifiable fashion …; taking measures to reduce the risk of an accidental, unauthorized, or mistaken launch of nuclear weapons, including by considering changes in the alert status in U.S. and Russian forces and rapidly completing the Joint Data Exchange Center.”

In a November 2007 article in Foreign Affairs, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) wrote “taking dramatic steps to reduce our nuclear arsenal would build support for the coalitions we need to address the threat of nuclear proliferation...To reassert our nonproliferation leadership, I will seek to negotiate an accord that substantially and verifiably reduces the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals. This dramatic initiative would send a strong message of nuclear restraint to the world, while we retain enough strength to deter others from trying to match our arsenal.”

In a March 26, 2008 speech in Los Angeles, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said, "Forty years ago, the five declared nuclear powers came together in support of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and pledged to end the arms race and move toward nuclear disarmament. The time has come to renew that commitment. We do not need all the weapons currently in our arsenal. The United States should lead a global effort at nuclear disarmament consistent with our vital interests and the cause of peace.”

Will these candidates, if elected, follow through on these commitments? If so, what specific strategies might each of them pursue? At this point, these are unanswerable questions given that the advisors in each campaign have just begun to think more deeply beyond these general statements and there are several more months before inauguration day.

Another key factor in U.S. thinking about the future of START and deeper reductions will be a forthcoming “nuclear posture review.” When Congress approved the fiscal 2008 Defense Authorization Act late last year, it mandated that the Pentagon, consulting with the Energy and State Departments, conduct a separate “comprehensive review” of U.S. nuclear posture for the next five to 10 years. Lawmakers ordered the posture review to be delivered in 2009 with the Pentagon’s next Quadrennial Defense Review, which maps out the department’s thinking about how to structure forces and weapons for the future.

This report, which will not likely be completed until late-2009 or after, need not delay talks between Washington and Moscow on the future of START and the U.S. stockpile, but the nuclear posture review will shape and be shaped by U.S.-Russian discussions on the future of START.

What Should Be Done?

So if the next U.S. president, along with the Russian president want to pursue further, verifiable strategic nuclear reductions, what should they do to bridge the differences that have divided the two sides for the past several years and how do they do it before START expires?

First, the two presidents should meet early in 2009 and declare their intention to dramatically reduce the number and role of nuclear weapons by working closely together to negotiate a new “START plus” treaty that puts each nation on course to achieve far deeper, verifiable, and legally-binding reductions in each nation’s nuclear warheads and missile forces, with the goal of completing the new agreement by 2010. Simply stating this will help build trust and send a strong signal to their respective bureaucracies to focus on getting the job done.

Second, rather than allow START to expire or mask long-simmering differences with halfway measures, Bush’s and Putin’s successors should announce that they will unilaterally but reciprocally continue to observe START until they can conclude negotiations on the new START-plus agreement. While some START restrictions, such as limits on warhead downloading, may affect U.S. and Russian force structuring plans over time, a relatively short extension of START will not adversely affect immediate force structure requirements and SORT obligations.

This approach is in keeping with the spirit if not the letter of Article XVIII paragraph 2 of the START, which allows for the two parties to extend the treaty “for a period of five years unless it is superseded before the expiration of that period by a subsequent agreement on the reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms.”

A new “START-plus” agreement must tackle four key objectives:

  • Mutually acceptable ceilings on the number of delivery systems and the warheads that they carry according to common and verifiable counting rules. With the United States and Russia set to reduce operationally deployed nuclear warheads to no more than 1,700-2,200 warheads by 2012 under SORT, and given that there is no security threat other than the other’s nuclear arsenals that could possibly justify possession of a few hundred strategic deployed nuclear warheads, START-plus should aim to reduce each nation’s deployed strategic arsenal to no more than 1,000 warheads within a period of five years. Russia has already proposed its readiness to reduce its strategic forces to the level of 1,500 or fewer warheads.

Based on each country’s decisions about the number of warheads loaded on delivery systems, the agreement should also establish lower limits on designated nuclear-capable delivery systems.

To provide each side with a certain degree of flexibility regarding how they decide to structure their deployed force, existing START rules on “downloading” should be relaxed to allow each side to achieve deeper reductions by reducing the number of warheads deployed on certain strategic missiles.

  • Ensuring that non-deployed warheads are not available to quickly increase the size of either nation’s deployed strategic stockpile. This could be achieved by limiting the number of warheads that may be loaded on any given delivery system and reducing the ceilings for nuclear-capable strategic delivery systems; and/or, in the next phase of strategic nuclear weapons reductions, a new an intrusive system for verifiably dismantling excess warheads could be established, as was envisioned in the START III framework agreement of 1997.
  • Establishing a streamlined START-style verification protocol. To retain current levels of transparency, accountability, and confidence, current START data exchanges, notifications, and on-site inspections should continue to serve as the basis for START-plus. The two countries could decide what kind of data and types of inspections are still critically important and which are obsolete and could be canceled. The quotas for the number of inspections could also be revised in START-plus.
  • Accounting for  any strategic ballistic missiles that are converted from a nuclear to a conventional, “prompt global strike” mission. Given that the United States plans to deploy a relatively small number of such non-nuclear ballistic missiles, such systems should simply be counted under the START-plus ceilings.

The two presidents must also agree not to allow other difficult issues to stall the START negotiations. NATO expansion, U.S. missile interceptors and radars in Europe, the CFE Treaty, the Balkans and the Caucuses will continue to be difficult issues that will require further but separate dialogue between our two countries.

Later, as the two sides’ strategic arsenals shrink, the United States and Russia should apply further limits on the number of warheads held in reserve, and discuss joint measures for reducing the alert levels of deployed forces. The two sides should also account for and agree to scrap Russia’s residual arsenal of at least sub-strategic nuclear warheads, as well as the smaller U.S. stockpile, which includes 350 warheads stationed in Europe.

With a new push for real nuclear reductions based on the proven principles of START, the U.S. and Russian leaders could achieve what SORT did not: verifiable, phased reductions of strategic deployed warheads to a level of 1,000 or fewer with lower ceilings on the number of nuclear and non-nuclear strategic missiles.

Appendix I

Changes in U.S. Strategic Forces Since 1990

(As of Jan. 1, 2008)

"START Accountable"

Strategic Nuclear Delivery Vehicles

Strategic Nuclear Warheads

September 1990

January 2008

September 1990

January 2008







Minuteman III





Minuteman II











Poseidon (C-3)





Trident I (C-4)





Trident II (D-5)











B-52 (ALCM)





B-52 (Non-ALCM)





















2, 246




1. The United States met the START I implementation deadline of December 5, 2001, seven years after the treaty's entry into force. The treaty limits the United States and Russia each to 6,000 "accountable" warheads and 1,600 delivery vehicles (missiles and bombers). All data is taken from the initial START I Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) of September 1, 1990 and the most recent MOU of January 1, 2008. All figures are based on START counting rules, as negotiated between the United States and the Soviet Union and specified in the treaty text. Thus, numbers do not necessarily reflect those weapons systems that are operationally deployed. For example, under START I, heavy bombers that are not equipped to carry long-range nuclear air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs) will be counted as carrying only one warhead, regardless of the number of bombs or short-range attack missiles that they actually carry. Moreover, 150 U.S. heavy bombers that are capable of carrying ALCMs will be counted as carrying only 10 missiles each, even though they have the capacity to hold 20 missiles each. Finally, U.S. deployed ICBMs and warheads are less than reported. In September 2005, the United States completed the retirement of all 50 MX/Peacekeeper missiles, and it is currently in the process of reducing the Minuteman III fleet from 500 ICBMs down to 450 missiles. 
Sources: START Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) of September 1, 1990 and the most recent MOU of January 1, 2008.

Changes in Former Soviet Strategic Forces Since 1990
(As of January 1, 2008)

"START Accountable"

Strategic Nuclear Delivery Vehicles

Strategic Nuclear Warheads

September 1990

January 2008

September 1990

January 2008



























SS-24 (Silo)





SS-24 (Rail)










SS-27 (Silo)





SS-27 (Road Mobile)




















































Bear (ALCM)





Bear (Non-ALCM)




















1. START I limits the United States and Russia to 6,000 "accountable" warheads each with an implementation deadline of December 2001. Figures are based on START counting rules, as negotiated between the United States and the Soviet Union and specified in the treaty text. Thus, numbers do not necessarily reflect those weapons systems that are operationally deployed. 
2. Strategic nuclear weapons were located in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. Belarus and Kazakhstan rapidly transferred nuclear warheads back to Russia and transferred or destroyed their associated delivery systems. Ukraine completed the transfer of nuclear warheads back to Russia in 1996 and destroyed its last SS-24 ICBM silo on October 30, 2001.

Sources: START Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) of September 1, 1990 and the most recent MOU of January 1, 2008.

Appendix II

Current Strategic Nuclear Forces of the United States

(As of January 1, 2008)

Strategic Delivery Vehicles [1]


Actual N-Capable
Strategic Delivery Vehicles [2]

Strategic Nuclear Warheads [1]


SORT Deployed Warheads [3]

Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs)


Minuteman IIIs



Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs)

on 18 Trident subs

on 14 Trident subs





21 B-2s; 76 B-52s







2,871 [3]

Sources: [1] According to START I  counting rules and January 1, 2008 MoU.
[2] ACA estimates.
[3] As of Dec. 31, 2007, according to U.S. SORT Declaration, May 2008.

Current Strategic Nuclear Forces of the Russian Federation

(As of January 1, 2008)


START-Accountable Strategic Delivery
Vehicles [1]

START-Accountable Strategic Nuclear Warheads [1]

Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs)



Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs)









Source: [1] According to START I counting rules and January 1, 2008 MoU.


1. START II called for reducing deployed strategic arsenals to 3,000-3,500 warheads and banned the deployment of destabilizing multiple-warhead land-based missiles. START II would have counted warheads in roughly the same fashion as START I and would have required the destruction of delivery vehicles but not warheads. Both the Senate and the Duma approved START II, but the treaty did not take effect because the Senate did not ratify the 1997 protocol and several ABM Treaty amendments, whose passage the Duma established as a condition for START II’s entry into force. Following the U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, Russia declared itself no longer bound by START II.

2. In March 1997, U.S. and Russian leaders agreed to a framework for START III, but those talks never got off the ground. START III was supposed to lead to verifiable limits of deployed strategic warheads to 2,000-2,500. Significantly, in addition to requiring the destruction of delivery vehicles, START III negotiations were to explore “the destruction of strategic nuclear warheads…to promote the irreversibility of deep reductions including prevention of a rapid increase in the number of warheads.” Negotiations were supposed to begin after START II entered into force, which never happened.

Presentation for Roundtable Discussion, Carnegie Moscow Center

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Repairing U.S.-Russian Strategic Relations after Bush and Putin



Arms Control Association Press Briefing

Friday, April 11, 2008, 9:30 - 11:00 A.M.

National Press Club, The Murrow Room on the 13th Floor
529 14th St., NW, Washington, DC

Please click here for the transcript.

Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin are seeking to burnish their legacies by touting a raft of U.S.-Russian accomplishments completed on their watch. But the two leaders are leaving U.S.-Russian strategic relations at arguably their lowest point since the Cold War. The two governments are deeply divided on future nuclear arms limits and missile defenses, particularly U.S. plans to deploy anti-missile systems in Europe. The panelists will discuss steps to put the U.S.-Russian strategic relationship on a more stable footing, reduce the two countries’ excessive nuclear arsenals, and craft a more sensible approach to dealing with missile threats and missile defenses.


Ambassador James E. Goodby, Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution and a nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Goodby has held many U.S. government positions, including Deputy to the Special Advisor to the President and Secretary of State on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, Special Representative for the security and dismantlement of nuclear weapons, and chief negotiator for nuclear threat reduction agreements. He recently co-edited with George Shultz and Sidney Drell Reykjavik Revisited: Steps Toward a World Free of Nuclear Weapons. Also with Drell, Goodby co-authored the Arms Control Association report What are Nuclear Weapons For? Recommendations for Restructuring U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces.

Ambassador Avis T. Bohlen, Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University. A former career Foreign Service Officer, Bohlen retired in 2002 from the Department of State after serving in a variety of top positions, including Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria, and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Paris. Much of her Foreign Service career focused on European security issues, arms control, and Soviet affairs. She is a member of the Arms Control Association Board of Directors.

George N. Lewis, Senior Research Associate and Associate Director of the Peace Studies Program at Cornell University. Lewis, who holds a PhD in physics, is also a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He received that society’s Joseph A. Burton Forum Award. An associate editor of the journal Science and Global Security, Lewis has co-authored two extensive reports on missile defense: Countermeasures: A Technical Evaluation of the Operational Effectiveness of the Planned U.S. National Missile Defense System (2000) and Technical Realities: An Analysis of the 2004 Deployment of a U.S. National Missile Defense System (2004).

Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association.
Arms Control Association Press Briefing

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Iran’s Nuclear Program and Diplomatic Options to Contain It



Arms Control Association Press Briefing
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
9:30-11:00 A.M.

Henry L. Stimson Center Conference Room
1111 19th st. NW 12th Floor, Washington, D.C.

Space is limited: RSVP to Peter Crail (202-863-8270 x102 or [email protected])

Daryl Kimball's Introduction

Partial Transcript of Event With Questions And Answers

After two Security Council sanctions resolutions and the prospects for a third looming, Iran continues to expand its nuclear program. A recent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on Iran’s program declared that its knowledge of Iran’s nuclear activities is “diminishing,” although Tehran may be providing enough cooperation with the agency to delay tougher UN sanctions. Meanwhile, Washington says it will only engage in talks with Iran if it suspends its sensitive nuclear activities. The panel will describe the state of Iran’s nuclear program and the diplomatic options that should be explored in order to contain Tehran’s nuclear capabilities. Panelists are:

David Albright, President, Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) and a leading independent authority on the Iranian nuclear program and its history. From 1992 until 1997, he also cooperated actively with the IAEA Action Team focusing on analyses of Iraqi documents and past procurement activities. Albright will report on the status and capabilities of Iran’s uranium enrichment program and discuss the perils of military strikes against Iran’s facilities.

Dr. Hans-Peter Hinrichsen, First Secretary, Political Affairs, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, Washington D.C. Dr. Hinrichsen has worked for the German diplomatic service for 13 years, including four years covering nuclear nonproliferation for the federal Foreign Office in Berlin. Dr. Hinrichsen will discuss Germany’s perspective on options to address Iran's nuclear program and, in the context of Berlin’s role in consultations with the EU-3 and the Security Council, the prospects for additional sanctions.

Joseph Cirincione, Senior Fellow and Director for Nuclear Policy, Center for American Progress. Prior to joining the Center in May 2006, he served as director for nonproliferation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, worked on the professional staff of the House Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Government Operations, and served as staff director of the Military Reform Caucus. Cirincione will outline the potential for direct diplomatic engagement with Iran without preconditions.

Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association.

Arms Control Association Press Briefing

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The Curious Incident in Northern Syria and Its Potential Proliferation Implications



Prepared Remarks by Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association

For the Korea Economic Institute Forum, “What If They Did It? North Korea, Syria, and Nuclear Proliferation,” November 1, 2007

Nearly two months after Israel’s Sept. 6, 2007 raid on a facility in Northern Syria, there is suggestive but ultimately inconclusive evidence that it may have been a small reactor still under construction. Opponents of the six-party process toward the verifiable denuclearization of North Korea are suggesting that possible North Korean involvement may provide reason for a shift in policy regarding the six-party talks and the implementation of the steps outlined in the October 3 joint statement.

Indeed, any North Korean assistance involving the export or technical training, advice, services, or assistance related to items on the trigger list of the Nuclear Suppliers Group would violate North Korea’s and the recipient state’s obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 1718 of October 14, 2006 “to cease the export” of items “which could contribute to DPRK’s nuclear-related, ballistic missile-related, or other weapons of mass destruction related programmes.”

Furthermore, in the recent six-party talks statement of October 3, 2007: “The DPRK reaffirmed its commitment not to transfer nuclear materials, technology, or know-how.” While North Korean assistance may have predated the October 3 statement and even the October 2006 Security Council resolution, it would clearly violate the spirit of its commitments.

The reports citing unnamed sources alleging that the facility was a nuclear reactor and that North Korea might have provided assistance raise extremely troubling questions about Syrian and North Korean behavior. However, I believe that even if there is strong evidence of North Korean complicity, it would be imprudent for the administration or the Congress to take actions or make statements that might scuttle the six party process.

We must recall that in the fall of 2002, the administration accused North Korea of pursuing a uranium enrichment program on the basis of preliminary intelligence assessments that were later revised to reflect that the program was not as advanced as previously believed. Nevertheless, the United States decided at the time to cut-off heavy fuel oil shipments that were part of the Agreed Framework – an agreement some in the Bush administration were only too eager to rip apart. As a result, North Korea kicked out IAEA inspectors, restarted plutonium operations, produced enough fissile material for about 10 bombs, and, in 2006, engaged in an orgy of missile flight testing, and set off a nuclear test explosion.

In the final analysis, U.S. policymakers must weigh whether the risk posed by the possible construction of a Syrian research reactor and possible North Korean assistance warrants the possible delay in verifiably dismantling a known and greater threat: North Korea’s own research reactor; reprocessing plant, and accounting for and taking out of circulation whatever nuclear bombs, nuclear bomb material, and uranium enrichment equipment North Korea may have.

This does not mean that the U.S. policymakers cannot be “tactically tough” as John Bolton argues they should, it just means that their response needs to be carefully calibrated and must amount to more than overheated rhetoric and name-calling.

If Syria was indeed building a reactor and if North Korea was involved, there are other steps the United States could – and should – take to hold the DPRK accountable and ensure that Pyongyang provides no further nuclear assistance to other states without derailing the prospects of verifiably dismantling North Korea’s nuclear program and risking the possibility of further North Korean proliferation transgressions. I’ll go into further detail about this in a few minutes.

In addition, if there is or was credible U.S. or foreign intelligence information or other evidence that Syria was engaged in building a reactor, I believe it should have been presented to the IAEA and/or the Security Council for evaluation so that a collective response – and follow up investigation -- could be undertaken.

As a signatory to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty under comprehensive IAEA safeguards, Syria is obligated under the current interpretation of paragraph 42 of its comprehensive IAEA safeguards agreement (INFCIRC/153) to provide design information on new facilities to the Agency as soon as the decision to construct or authorize construction of a new facility is taken (i.e. well before construction actually begins) in order to create confidence in the peaceful purpose of the facility and to provide adequate lead-time for safeguards preparations.(1)

If Israel or the United States had information suggesting Syria was building a reactor or some other prohibited item, it could have informed the IAEA and/or the Security Council, which could then – and could still -- call upon on Syria to clarify the purpose of the facility and possibly lead to an IAEA investigation and visit to the site.

This is essentially what the United States did in 2002 with information that surfaced about Iran’s unreported nuclear activities at the Natanz site.

Such an investigation could have been and could still be immensely useful not only in understanding the nature of the facility but also the sources of assistance. We must consider that North Korea may not have been the main or sole supplier of nuclear technology and components. Syria is of course suspected of having received assistance from the A.Q. Khan network.(2)

Utilizing the Agency to draw attention to a possible Syrian violation of safeguards would put Syria on the defensive and strengthen the credibility of the institution as an effective and legitimate instrument in monitoring and enforcing compliance at a time when the Security Council and the IAEA are at odds with Iran.

Such a message might also have been more helpful in persuading Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment program, come clean about its nuclear program, and agree to a diplomatic resolution.

In addition, the failure of any state to report any information to the IAEA about possible nuclear safeguards violations, and Israel’s “strike first, ask questions later approach” are also worrisome and unwise and undermine the authority of the IAEA in sifting out the truth in Iran and elsewhere.

Knowns and Unknowns

While there are still more questions than answers at this point, it is important to sift out the “knowns” from the “unknowns.”

Based on that, we might draw some preliminary conclusions, formulate some reasonable hypotheses that might help explain events that have unfolded to date, and consider what should and should not be done in response to these possibilities.

What we “know” is this:

  • Syria and Israel have acknowledged there was a strike on a “military facility” in Syria.
  • Satellite imagery suggests the facility could have been a small research reactor similar in design to the 5 megawatt North Korean reactor at Yongbyon. Such a facility by itself would not constitute a clear and imminent danger to either Israel or the United States given that Syria would also need to have a plutonium reprocessing facility to harvest plutonium for a weapon. Syria already possesses a very small research reactor under IAEA safeguards.
  • We know from commercial satellite imagery that Syria cleared the site after the raid. By itself, this proves little, though it certainly raises suspicions that Syria is trying to remove evidence that the structure could have been used to house a reactor or something else it doesn’t want others to see. The raid itself and Syria’s clearing of the site clearly would complicate any on site investigation by the IAEA or others to determine whether a reactor was under construction.
  • Commercial satellite photos also indicate that construction on the main building was well underway in Sept. 2003, which means Syria may have received assistance sometime before that date. This also likely means that the site has been under Western satellite surveillance for some time and it suggests that U.S. intelligence analysts did not believe that it was a reactor or some other missile or WMD-related facility.
  • Some press reports quote unnamed officials saying that North Korean nationals were present at the site. Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Nuclear Nonproliferation Andrew Semmel also told reporters on Sept. 14: “There are North Korean people there. There’s no question about that,” adding “[j]ust as there are a lot of North Koreans in Iraq and Iran.” Semmel did not clarify what sort of activities the North Koreans were conducting in Syria. This suggests that any information about North Koreans at the site would most likely have come from a human intelligence source or sources, which are not always reliable or precise.
  • This is not the first time there has been a controversy over intelligence assessments concerning the Syrian nuclear program. You might recall that Knight Ridder newspapers, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and others reported that in 2003, Undersecretary of State John Bolton was forced to call off congressional testimony because members of the intelligence community were concerned that Bolton was prepared to assert stronger claims regarding concerns over Syria’s pursuit of nuclear weapons than was warranted by the intelligence.(3)
  • We know that only the top Congressional intelligence and foreign affairs committee members have been briefed by the U.S. intelligence community on the incident. And two of them, Reps. Hoekstra and Ros-Lehtinen, complained bitterly in an Oct. 21 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal that “until Congress is fully briefed, it would be imprudent for the administration to move forward with agreements with state proliferators.”
  • We also know that Administration officials, while declining to publicly comment on the incident itself, have said that the six-party disarmament deal with North Korea would not go ahead if North Korea was found to be smuggling nuclear arms, equipment or know-how abroad.

Asked at a Capitol Hill hearing on Oct. 25 by Democratic Representative David Scott of Georgia if the issue of the Syrian facility had been brought up in disarmament talks with North Korea, Assistant Secretary of Sate for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Christopher Hill said: "Yes, I have raised this issue."

During a Sept. 20 press conference, President Bush was asked a question about the Syrian raid and reports of North Korean involvement to which he said: “to the extent that they are proliferating, we expect them to stop that proliferation, if they want the six-party talks to be successful.”

What May Explain the Events That have Unfolded to Date: Two Theories

So, what actually might have gone on and why is the administration maintaining official silence on the matter?

If Syria was building a nuclear reactor or some other nuclear facility and if North Korea was involved, what is the appropriate course of action to prevent further proliferation of the kind, while simultaneously ensuring that North Korea’s current commitments under the October 3 implementation agreement for the disablement of its nuclear facilities and full declaration of its nuclear program go forward?

Should Congress be fully briefed? What should be done to uncover what Syria was up to and who might have provided illicit equipment and know-how?

Based on what is in the public domain there seem to be two plausible theories:

Theory 1. Given that the Syrian facility was under surveillance and construction for some time and given that the U.S. intelligence community apparently did not believe that it was a nuclear-related project, senior U.S. officials were not confident enough to confront Syria publicly with the charge. Recall the 2003 debate about how to characterize the Syrian nuclear program. Likewise, given that the information suggesting a North Korean presence at the site would likely have come from a human intelligence source or sources, senior U.S. officials might not have had high enough confidence in the information to publicly accuse North Korea of violating its nuclear non-assistance pledges.

Still, based on statements by Christopher Hill and President Bush, it is clear that the matter has been pursued with the North Koreans privately and that the Bush administration has probably already made it clear that if North Korea wants to see the six-party agreement implemented, including removing the DPRK from the state sponsors of terrorism list, North Korea cannot be engaged in any proliferation activity.

If the administration has not already done so, it should demand that the “complete and correct declaration of all of North Korea’s nuclear programs” -- as called for in the Feb. 13 2007 and Oct. 3 six-party statements -- must include a full accounting of all North Korean nuclear-related commerce or technical assistance to other states or non-state actors.

Theory 2. It is also possible that the United States government has information that more clearly demonstrates Syrian nuclear activity at the site and direct involvement by the North Koreans. Even if this is the case, the administration may be forging ahead with the six-party process and taking the matter up with North Korea privately because they correctly understand the value of using the six-party process to verifiably dismantle North Korea’s nuclear program and snuff-out its proliferation activities rather than publicly taking issue with North Korea on the matter and risking the possibility that they will deny their involvement, if only to save face.

As Christopher Hill told reporters Sept. 14: “The reason we have the six-party process and the reason we have put together a number of pretty serious countries in this process is to make sure that the North Koreans get out of the nuclear business.”

Congress’ Role
Under either scenario, it is important that the administration brief relevant Congressional members and committees sooner than later. While there are clearly some members of Congress who will seek to use this incident to undercut support for the appropriation of funds to provide North Korea with heavy fuel oil as called for in the six-party agreement, Congressional support for the administration’s policy and the six-party process will likely erode if they are kept in the dark.

Eventually, Congress and possibly the rest of us will find out more about the events surrounding the Israeli raid and the target – either through official channels or from someone like Glenn Kessler. It is important to note that when there are lives at stake, sources to protect, or ongoing intelligence activities underway, there may good reason to delay providing Congress with a full accounting. However, we are now almost two months beyond the Sept. 6 raid and it is difficult to understand why other members of Congress have not yet been briefed.

Furthermore, even if North Korea was engaged in ongoing proliferation activity, it is likely that the administration could persuade Congress that they should not jeopardize the larger aims of the six-party process by withholding support for heavy fuel oil shipments. Rather, the administration could future “benefits,” such as removal of North Korea from the state sponsor of terrorism list, if it does not fully account for its nuclear program and cease all foreign nuclear and missile assistance.

So in conclusion, what if North Korea and Syria were colluding on a secret nuclear project?

  1. It should be condemned and the IAEA should request access to the site and be provided relevant information from other states as part of an investigation.
  2. The Bush administration and Congress should agree to use – not abandon the six party process to ensure that North Korea is no longer engaged in such activities.
  3. The Bush administration should brief Congress about the episode in order to solidify support for the six party denuclearization agreement and any actions the administration may pursue through the IAEA Board of Governors and/or the Security Council regarding possible Syrian nuclear activities.

Thank you.

1. Prior to 1992, the phrase in para 42 of the IAEA’s comprehensive safeguards agreement (INFCIRC/153), which reads "as early as possible before nuclear material is introduced into a new facility" was translated into meaning that design information for new nuclear facilities needed to be provided to the Agency "no later than 6 months before the introduction of nuclear material into a new facility". This interpretation was included in the General Parts of the Subsidiary Arrangements that are attached to each comprehensive safeguards agreement.
As a safeguards strengthening measure, the Board agreed to a new interpretation of paragraph 42 proposed by the Secretariat in February 1992 (GOV/2554/Att.2/Rev. 2), which requires that design information on new facilities be provided to the Agency as soon as the decision to construct or authorize construction of a new facility is taken (i.e. well before construction actually begins) in order to create confidence in the peaceful purpose of the facility and to provide adequate lead-time for safeguards preparations.  All non-nuclear weapon state NPT parties under comprehensive safeguards were also required to adapt their related Subsidiary Arrangements to take into account the new interpretation.

2. Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Nuclear Nonproliferation Andy Semmel stated on Sept. 14 that “[w]e do know that there may have been contact between Syria and some secret suppliers for nuclear equipment. Whether anything transpired remains to be seen,” further noting that “[w]e’re watching very closely.”
Semmel’s comments mirror a 2004 declassified report to Congress by the director of national intelligence on weapons of mass destruction proliferation. The report, released last year, discusses potential Syrian contacts with the A.Q. Khan network. It indicates that “Pakistani investigators in late January 2004 said they had ‘confirmation’ of an IAEA allegation that [Abdul Qadeer] Khan offered nuclear technology and hardware to Syria, according to Pakistani press, and we are concerned that expertise or technology could have been transferred. We continue to monitor Syrian nuclear intentions with concern.”

3. According to a July 15, Knight Ridder report (“CIA: Assessment of Syria's WMD exaggerated,” by Warren P. Strobel and Jonathan S. Landay), “U.S. officials told Knight Ridder that Bolton was prepared to tell members of a House of Representatives International Relations subcommittee that Syria's development of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons had progressed to such a point that they posed a threat to stability in the region. The CIA and other intelligence agencies said that assessment was exaggerated.”

Presentation by Daryl G. Kimball for the Korea Economic Institute

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