"I find hope in the work of long-established groups such as the Arms Control Association...[and] I find hope in younger anti-nuclear activists and the movement around the world to formally ban the bomb."

– Vincent Intondi
Author, "African Americans Against the Bomb: Nuclear Weapons, Colonialism, and the Black Freedom Movement
July 1, 2020
Alicia Sanders-Zakre

Indian ICBM Passes Test

India's Agni-5 missile is displayed during a rehearsal for the Indian Republic Day parade in New Delhi on January 23, 2013.  (Photo: RAVEENDRAN/AFP/Getty Images)India successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the Agni-5, for the fifth time. The Jan. 18 test was the first of two reported tests to be completed before the missile can enter service. The missile previously completed four successful “developmental” tests. A defense ministry statement declared that the test “reaffirms the country’s indigenous missile capabilities and further strengthens our credible deterrence.” Indian President Ram Nath Kovind tweeted his support, claiming that it “will boost our strategic defence.”

The Agni-5, first tested in 2012, is India’s first ICBM. With a range of more than 3,100 miles, analysts assess that the missile is being developed to deter China. Officially, China was silent on the launch, but the state-owned Global Times wrote on Jan. 18 that the test “poses a direct threat to China’s security as well as a big challenge to the global efforts of nuclear nonproliferation.” India also tested the Prithvi-2, Agni-2, and Agni-1 missiles in February.—ALICIA SANDERS-ZAKRE

Indian ICBM Passes Test

India Joins Australia Group

India became the Australia Group’s 43rd member on Jan. 19, following a consensus decision at the group’s June 19 plenary. The Australia Group is dedicated to preventing the proliferation of biological and chemical weapons through voluntary export controls. It is the third nonproliferation consortium India has joined in the past two years, after the Wassenaar Arrangement, a conventional weapons export control regime, in December 2017 and the Missile Technology Control Regime, a group committed to limiting the spread of missiles and related technology, in June 2016. (See ACT, January/February 2018.)

“With its admission into the Australia Group, India has demonstrated the will to implement rigorous controls of high standards in international trade, and its capacity to adapt its national regulatory system to meet the necessities of its expanding economy,” according to a Jan. 19 Australia Group press release. Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in a Jan. 19 news briefing that the accession would help “establish…credentials” for India to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which restricts the spread of nuclear technology. India has publicly stated its desire to join the NSG, although China blocked its last attempt in June 2016. (See ACT, July/August 2016.)—ALICIA SANDERS-ZAKRE

India Joins Australia Group

Don’t stop new START

News Date: 
February 5, 2018 -05:00

Final vs. Draft of the Nuclear Posture Review: What Was Changed?

On Friday, Feb. 2, the Trump administration officially unveiled its Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) . Huffington Post leaked an earlier version of the document on Jan. 11. The Arms Control Association team reviewed both versions of the NPR and marked up a copy of the final NPR with all changes from the leaked version. (See our annotated version here .)* The final Feb. 2 document includes revised language and new charts on Russian nuclear doctrine, as well as new language on the proposed submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM) and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. It also...

NPR Rejects CTBT Ratification; NNSA Shortens Testing Readiness Timeline

The Trump administration’s new Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) asserts that “the United States does not support the ratification of the CTBT,” even though the United States and 182 other nations have signed the treaty, and even though there is no technical need to resume nuclear testing.* The review, which generally defines U.S. policy regarding the role of nuclear weapons in security strategy, says “the United States will continue to support the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Preparatory Committee” and “the related International Monitoring System and the International Data Center.” The...

CWC Parties Discuss Chemical Threats

January/February 2018
By Alicia Sanders-Zakre

States-parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) at their annual meeting late last year welcomed progress on stockpile destruction in several states that possess chemical weapons, but continued to argue over chemical weapons use in Syria and express concern over emerging chemical threats. The meeting, also known as the Conference of States Parties, elected the next director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which implements the CWC.

Fernando Arias of Spain was elected with widespread support as the next director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. (Photo: OPCW)States-parties have destroyed 96 percent of declared chemical weapons arsenals. Russia completed the destruction of its chemical weapons stockpile in September 2017, while the United States has destroyed 93 percent of its declared arsenal. (See ACT, October 2017.) Ahmet Üzümcü, OPCW director-general, announced at the meeting that Iraq had completed encapsulating its two remaining bunkers with chemical weapons remnants and that Libya completed destruction of its Category 2 chemicals.

The growing divide between the United States and Russia on the use of chemical weapons in Syria sparked heated debate, but had little impact on the outcome of the Nov. 27-Dec. 1 conference.

U.S.-Russian tensions over chemical weapons attacks in Syria have reached a new high after several attempts to extend the mandate of a body investigating the attacks failed at the UN Security Council in November, largely due to Russia’s vetoes. (See ACT, December 2017.) The Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) had been established previously by the United Nations and the OPCW to determine responsibility for chemical weapons use in Syria. The JIM investigates cases of chemical weapons use in Syria, which are confirmed by an OPCW fact-finding mission.

Andrea Hall, senior director for weapons of mass destruction at the U.S. National Security Council, said in her opening address to the conference that the fact-finding mission has an additional 60 cases to investigate. In 2017, the JIM determined that the Syrian government used sarin gas in Khan Sheikhoun and that the Islamic State used sulfur mustard gas in Um-Housh. (See ACT, November 2017.)

Russia continued to oppose the accusations against its ally, the Assad regime in Syria. Gregory Kalamanov, deputy minister of the Russian Ministry for Industry and Trade, in his remarks called the allegations against Syria “unfounded,” arguing that it was being subjected to a “double standard” and that the countries that supported JIM’s findings were “acting on their own political interests.”

Belarus, with Russian backing, introduced a joint statement calling for the depoliticization of the OPCW, arguing that investigations should be based on “objective and thoroughly verified evidence.” The document was not adopted, but prompted a lengthy and heated exchange involving, among others, Russia, Syria, and the United States.

At the conference, Venezuela unsuccessfully put itself forward as the fifth candidate for the four-person delegation to represent Latin American and Caribbean countries in the OPCW Executive Council starting in May 2018. The unusual move was likely an effort to tilt the balance in the council in favor of Russia and Syria, Jean Pascal Zanders, an independent researcher attending the conference, told Arms Control Today in a Dec. 18 interview.

In an unprecedented secret ballot involving all states parties attending the Conference of States Parties, Venezuela was soundly rejected in favor of the four candidates already selected by the Latin American and Caribbean group as its representatives. Still, several states-parties afterwards expressed concern about the precedent set by Venezuela’s actions, adding that the selection of candidates for the Executive Council should be a decision for the regional groups only.

A joint paper issued by 39 countries presented concerns about the emergence of aerosolized chemical weapons that target the central nervous system. These states maintain that such chemicals, which include anesthetics, sedatives, and analgesics, are different from riot control agents, which produce temporary “sensory irritation or disabling physical effects” and are allowed for law enforcement purposes under the CWC. The paper may signal an effort to put the item back on the agenda for the upcoming CWC review conference, Zanders told Arms Control Today.

South Sudan, one of four countries not party to the treaty, announced that it had completed an internal review that green-lights its accession to the accord. Moses M. Akol Ajawin, director-general for international cooperation in the South Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, announced that the country’s Council of Ministers had resolved on Aug. 25, 2017, to “approve membership in the OPCW,” adding that South Sudan “looks forward to becoming the newest and youngest” state-party.

Fernando Arias of Spain was officially elected with widespread support as the next OPCW director-general. Arias currently serves as Spain’s permanent representative to the OPCW and was previously Spain’s permanent representative to the United Nations. During his candidacy for the post, he pledged to work to prevent the re-emergence of chemical weapons, fight chemical terrorism and engage in public outreach. The Executive Council chose Arias as the final candidate in October from an original field of seven candidates. (See ACT, November 2017.) He begins his four-year term on July 25.

States-parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) at their annual meeting late last year welcomed progress on stockpile destruction in several states that possess chemical weapons, but continued to argue over chemical weapons use in Syria and express concern over emerging chemical threats.

Verification Group Moves to Second Phase

January/February 2018
By Alicia Sanders-Zakre

The International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification (IPNDV) has developed a verifiable framework process for dismantling nuclear weapons and outlined the next phase of its work. It concluded its first phase after convening its fifth plenary meeting in Buenos Aires on Nov. 29-Dec. 1.

Nuclear Threat Initiative President Joan Rohlfing (R) addresses the International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification plenary in Buenos Aires on November 29, 2017.  (Photo: Courtesy of the Nuclear Threat Initiative)The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and U.S. Department of State established the public-private partnership in 2014 to address the technical challenges involved in nuclear disarmament verification. More than 25 nuclear- and non-nuclear-weapon states have participated in the initiative, which has held three working group meetings in addition to plenary sessions. The working groups focused on monitoring and verification, on-site inspection, and technical challengesto verification.

Building on past dismantlement and verification exercises, including U.S.-Russian experience and a UK-Norwegian initiative, the working groups collaborated to outline a 14-step process for verifiable nuclear warhead dismantlement. The groups acknowledged that further work is needed, including testing several of the promising technologies and procedures and addressing additional disarmament steps beyond warhead dismantlement.

The IPNDV will form three new working groups in the next phase of its work to address outstanding issues on verification of nuclear weapons declarations, verification of reductions, and technologies for verification. The work is intended to contribute to the discussion on verification issues at the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference in 2020.

“Specifically, the partnership will be able to leverage its experience and expertise to look into issues such as how to verify declarations, data handling requirements across the inspection process, and the use of technologies to enable measurements of special nuclear material and high explosives, all while preventing the disclosure of proliferation-sensitive information,” Anita Friedt, the acting U.S. assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification, and compliance, said at the opening of the plenary.

NTI President Joan Rohlfing, also speaking at the beginning of the plenary, hailed the initiative as a unifying step forward as international disarmament dialogue grows ever more divisive. “We are doing the difficult ‘technical homework’ over a sustained, multi-year process that will enable future disarmament to take place when the political environment allows it,” she said.

While the majority of the participants have been nuclear-weapons states and so-called umbrella states, which receive security guarantees from nuclear-armed states, such as Finland, Japan, and Poland, a few of the negotiators of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, including Brazil, Mexico and Sweden, also contributed to the effort. Russia and China, which participated as observers in phase one of the project, will not participate in phase two.

Participants describe the IPNDV as part of nuclear-weapon states’ fulfillment of NPT's Article VI, which obligates those states to pursue good faith negotiations towards disarmament.

The IPNDV intends to share the results of phase two at the upcoming 2020 NPT Review Conference, where compliance with Article VI by nuclear-weapon states has long been a point of contention. The first meeting of phase two of the initiative will take place in Sweden in March 2018.

The International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification (IPNDV) has developed a verifiable framework process for dismantling nuclear weapons and outlined the next phase of its work.


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