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"I want to thank the Arms Control Association … for being such effective advocates for sensible policies to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and most importantly, reduce the risk of nuclear war."
– Senator Joe Biden
January 28, 2004
China

Compliance with Nuclear Arms Control and Nonproliferation Norms Is Eroding, New Study Finds

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All nuclear weapons possessor states failed to make progress to reduce their nuclear arsenals; Key states’ records in nine of 10 nonproliferation & disarmament categories have deteriorated.

For Immediate Release: July 10, 2019

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107

(Washington, DC)—A new, 80-page study published by the Arms Control Association evaluates the recent records of all the world’s nuclear-armed states, as well as several states of proliferation concern and finds that respect for key nuclear nonproliferation norms and internationally-recognized obligations and commitments is eroding.

The report, "Assessing Progress on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament, 2016-2019," is the fourth in a series that assesses the extent to which 11 key states are fulfilling, promoting, or undermining 10 standards identified as critical elements of the nonproliferation and disarmament regime.

Collectively, states fared worse on the majority of criteria when compared with the prior edition of the Arms Control Association’s Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament Report Card covering the 2013–2016 period.

The study comprehensively evaluates the records of China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, India, Israel, Pakistan, and North Korea—each of which possesses nuclear weapons—as well as Iran and Syria, which are states of proliferation concern, from 2016 through March 2019.

“Each of the states that possess nuclear weapons is taking steps to invest in new delivery systems and several are expanding the role of nuclear weapons in their security doctrines," noted Alicia Sanders-Zakre, a co-author of the report. "These trends increase the risk of nuclear weapons use,” she warned.

“Our review of actions—and inactions—by these 11 states suggest a worrisome trend away from long-standing, effective arms control and nonproliferation efforts," warned Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association and co-author of the report. "By documenting the policies of these states over the last decade, we hope this report will demonstrate that support for critical nonproliferation and disarmament norms is eroding.”  

Several of the key findings include:

  • The United States and Russia: The overall grades for both the United States (C+) and Russia (C+) dropped, due partly to Russia’s violation of a key bilateral arms control treaty and the U.S. decision to withdraw from that treaty in response. Both states also expanded the circumstances under which they would use nuclear weapons and are investing in new, destabilizing delivery systems.
     
  • France and the United Kingdom: These two states received the highest overall grades (B) of the 11 states assessed, but neither country has taken steps during the period covered in this report to make additional nuclear force reductions.
     
  • China, India, and Pakistan: All three of these states are increasing the size of their nuclear arsenals and are investing in new nuclear-capable delivery systems. New missiles being developed and fielded by all three suggest that these countries are now storing warheads mated with certain missiles or moving toward that step, which increases the risk of use. China’s overall grade was a C+; India and Pakistan both scored C.
     
  • North Korea: North Korea scored the worst of the states assessed in this report with an overall grade of F. Pyongyang continues to expand the country’s nuclear arsenal and is the only state to have tested a nuclear weapon during the timeframe covered. However, North Korea continues to abide by a voluntary nuclear and missile testing moratorium declared in April 2018 and appears willing to negotiate with the United States over its nuclear weapons program.
     
  • Iran: Through the period covered by this report and until June 2019, Tehran continued to adhere to the restrictions on its nuclear activities put in place by the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal over the course of this report, despite the United States’ withdrawal from the agreement last year and its decision to reimpose sanctions in violation of U.S. commitments. Iran, however, has transferred ballistic missile components in violation of international norms and Security Council restrictions, causing its overall grade to drop to C-.
     
  • Israel: Israeli actions over the past several years in support of ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty earned it a higher grade on the nuclear testing criteria, but its inaction on the Middle East Nuclear Weapons Free Zone and backsliding on negative security assurances caused its overall grade to drop to a C-.

The report reviews implementation and compliance with existing internationally-recognized obligations and commitments.

“The standards and benchmarks in our report do not necessarily represent our ideal strategy for addressing the nuclear weapons threat,” noted Davenport. “New and more ambitious multilateral nonproliferation and disarmament strategies will be needed to meet to future nuclear challenges,” she remarked.

Last week, the U.S. State Department convened a meeting involving more than three-dozen countries, including the five original nuclear weapon states, to discuss steps to improve the environment for nuclear disarmament.

“We hope this report card can serve as a tool to help hold states accountable to their existing commitments and encourage effective action needed to strengthen efforts to prevent the spread and use of the world’s most dangerous weapons,” noted Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. 

“We encourage all states who are serious about strengthening the global nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament enterprise to commit themselves to meet and exceed the existing goals and objectives to reduce and eliminate the nuclear danger,” he urged.

The full report can be accessed at www.armscontrol.org/reports

Description: 

A new report details the extent to which 11 key states are fulfilling, promoting, or undermining 10 standards identified as critical elements of the nonproliferation and disarmament regime. 

Subject Resources:

Assessing Progress on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament: 2016-2019 Report Card

This report is the fourth in a series that assesses the extent to which 11 key states are fulfilling, promoting, or undermining 10 standards identified as critical elements of the nonproliferation and disarmament regime during the period between 2016 and June 2019.

Collectively, states fared worse on the majority of criteria when compared with the prior edition, which covered the 2013–2016 period.

Download this report.

Chinese President Visits North Korea


July/August 2019
By Kelsy Davenport

China and North Korea sought to shore up their alliance at a June summit in Pyongyang between Chinese President Xi Jinping and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. It was their fifth meeting, held as U.S.-North Korean negotiations remain stalled one year after Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump met for the first time in Singapore.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (right) wave during a June 21 welcome parade Xi received on his visit to Pyongyang. The two leaders focused on their talks on economic development and cooperation.  (Photo: Korean Central News Agency)The June 20–21 summit, Xi’s first trip to North Korea, focused on economic development and cooperation between the two countries. The leaders emphasized the importance of stability in the region, but there were few explicit references in official statements from China and North Korea regarding North Korea’s nuclear weapons program or advancing denuclearization.

Xi spoke highly of North Korean efforts to “safeguard peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and promote the denuclearization of the peninsula,” according to a June 20 statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry. He also expressed his hope that talks between the United States and North Korea “will move forward and bear fruit.”

Xi praised North Korea’s “active measures to avoid tension” and expressed concern that North Korea has not received “a positive response from the concerned side,” likely referring to the Trump administration’s reluctance to pursue an incremental approach to denuclearization and peace-building.

The Chinese statement reported that Kim said North Korea is “willing to stay patient” and hopes that the United States will meet North Korea “halfway to seek solutions that accommodate each other’s legitimate concerns.”

The talks likely included discussions on sanctions relief, given North Korea’s frustration with Washington’s unwillingness to lift or waive economic restrictions before North Korea completes denuclearization. China has supported limited sanctions relief in exchange for North Korean steps toward denuclearization in the past.

Prior to arriving in Pyongyang, Xi published an article in Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of North Korea’s state party, outlining his ambitions for a “grand plan” that would lead to “permanent peace in the region.” Xi’s article appears to be the first piece by a foreign leader run by the paper, which focuses on a domestic audience.

He did not offer details on the plan or mention North Korea’s nuclear weapons or denuclearization, but said that Beijing is looking to strengthen “strategic communication” and cooperation with North Korea. He also praised North Korea for its restraint and commitment to dialogue, saying that Beijing supports Pyongyang’s “adherence to the right direction of politically solving the issues” through negotiations.

Xi’s visit to Pyongyang preceded the Group of 20 summit in Japan in late June and may have been intended to gain leverage in contentious trade talks between Washington and Beijing by reminding Trump that China has influence in North Korea, although the Chinese Foreign Ministry denied any connection between the meetings. In a June 18 phone call, Xi told Trump that he was prepared to meet with Trump during the summit, but did not say if North Korea would be a topic of discussion.

Stephen Biegun, U.S. special representative for North Korea, did not seem concerned that Xi’s visit to Pyongyang was indicative of Chinese frustration with the U.S. approach to negotiations or that Beijing would attempt to leverage its relationship with North Korea during trade discussions. “China agrees with us 100 percent” on North Korea policy, Biegun said June 19, adding that he was confident that Xi would “send constructive and appropriate messages” to Kim during the visit.

Negotiations between the United States and North Korea remain stalled, but Kim and Trump recently exchanged letters. Trump received another “beautiful” letter from Kim, he said on June 11, adding that “something will happen that’s going to be very positive.”

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un examines a letter from President Donald Trump in June. (Photo: Korean Central News Agency)The Korean Central News Agency reported on June 23 that Trump’s response to Kim “contains excellent content.” Photos of the letter shared by North Korean media indicate that it was dated June 12, the first anniversary of the Singapore summit.

Despite the positive characterization of Trump’s letter, North Korean media continues to criticize the U.S. approach to negotiations. (See ACT, May 2019.) In a June 4 statement, the North Korean Foreign Ministry said the United States needs to “cogitate” on the “correct strategic choices before it is too late.”

The statement said that, in the year after the 2018 Singapore summit, progress could have been made on the goals agreed by the leaders “had the United States done anything” to “help in addressing the issues on the basis of serious position and sincere attitude.”

Biegun defended the Trump administration’s approach to negotiations in a June 19 speech at the Atlantic Council. Biegun said talks with North Korea remain in a “holding pattern,” but noted “an uptick in activity” over the past week, likely referring to the exchange of letters.

Stressing the importance of flexibility, Biegun said the United States will continue to pursue agreement on the end state of negotiations before pursuing incremental steps in tandem with North Korea, an approach that Kim rejected during the second summit with Trump in Hanoi in February. (See ACT, March 2019.)

“We will never get to our destination if we don’t know where we are going,” Biegun said.

Biegun also said that his North Korean counterparts must be empowered to “negotiate on all of the issues,” adding that working-level talks must address more than peace-building and transforming relations. “We also have to talk about denuclearization,” Biegun said.

 

Kim Jong Un hosts China’s president as U.S.-North Korean talks continue to lapse.

Pentagon Warns of Chinese Nuclear Strength


July/August 2019
By Alicia Sanders-Zakre and Kelsey Davenport

China may have tested its new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) in June, but Beijing has not confirmed the launch. Chinese media first reported that a JL-3 missile was tested in the Yellow Sea’s Bohai Bay on June 2. The JL-3 is an SLBM with an estimated range of more than 9,000 kilometers that is designed for China’s next-generation submarine, which is not under construction. The first test of the JL-3 took place in Bohai Bay in November 2018.

A Chinese Jin-class nuclear submarine participates in a naval parade on April 23. (Photo: Mark Schiefelbein/AFP/Getty Images)The People’s Liberation Army tweeted a photo of the June 2 test, but did not name the missile. The South China Morning Post quoted two military sources saying that the missile test was designed to check an improved guidance system on a deployed land-based ballistic missile and that Bohai Bay was closed for an unrelated military exercise.

When deployed, the JL-3 will extend the range of China’s sea-based nuclear weapons. Beijing currently uses the JL-2, which has a range of about 8,000 kilometers.

According to an annual U.S. Defense Department report released in May, China has invested significantly in its sea-based nuclear forces in recent years.

China completed construction of two more JIN-class ballistic missile submarines, up from four last year, the report says, noting that four of the six submarines are operational.

A fleet of survivable nuclear submarines could reduce China’s incentive to expand its nuclear arsenal, but it also could lead China to increase the alert level of its nuclear forces, Tong Zhao, a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote in an October 2018 report.

This year’s Pentagon report also finds that China has deployed more intermediate-range ballistic missiles
while developing new capabilities, such as air-launched ballistic missiles.

Titled “Annual Report to Congress on Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China,” the Pentagon’s analysis found that China possesses 80 to 160 intermediate-range ballistic missiles, a jump from the 2018 estimate of 16 to 30 missiles, including nuclear-capable DF-26 missiles with a 4,000-kilometer range that were first fielded in 2016.

China’s DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) remains under development, according to the report, which reaffirmed its 2018 assessment that China is exploring road-mobile, rail-mobile and silo-based launch options for the missile. It is expected to carry multiple warheads.

The 2019 report indicates that China has now fielded the DF-31AG, an improved variant of the DF-31A ICBM.

The report asserts with more certainty that China’s H-6K bomber could have a nuclear mission, claiming that “since at least 2016, Chinese media have been referring to the H-6K as a dual nuclear-conventional bomber.”

As it did last year, the report finds that China is still developing two new air-launched ballistic missiles, one of which may include a nuclear payload. Once China is able to deploy these missiles, it would possess a viable nuclear triad—the ability to launch nuclear weapons from the land, air, and sea.

China tests new ballistic missiles, part of a growing arsenal, according to a U.S. assessment.

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This op-ed originally appeared in The National Interest , May 27, 2019. The baffling non-answers from the senior administration officials strongly suggest that the president’s impulse for a grand U.S.-Chinese-Russian arms control bargain is not backed up with a realistic plan. On May 14, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Sochi, Russia to discuss what the State Department called a “new era” in “arms control to address new and emerging threats” with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin. The trip follows reports that Donald Trump has directed his...

Nigeria Ships HEU to China

 

Nigeria shipped its highly enriched uranium (HEU) back to China, making it the 33rd country, plus Taiwan, to become HEU free. Nigeria’s one kilogram of HEU was used to fuel a Chinese-supplied miniature neutron source reactor used for a range of research activities. Although one kilogram of HEU is far less than what is necessary for a nuclear warhead, the fuel was enriched to more than 90 percent uranium-235, which is considered weapons grade.

The HEU was flown to China under monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Experts from China, the Czech Republic, Russia, and the United States assisted in the process. Yusuf Aminu Ahmed, director of the Center for Energy Research and Training in Nigeria, said the country does not want “any material that is attractive to terrorists” and that removal of the material fulfills Nigeria’s commitment to reduce the use of HEU in civilian applications. As part of the project, China converted the reactor to run on low-enriched uranium fuel. The conversion was completed in October 2018 under a commitment that was part of the nuclear security summit process, which took place from 2010 to 2016.—KELSEY DAVENPORT

Nigeria Ships HEU to China

U.S. Restricts Nuclear Trade With China


November 2018
By Kelsey Davenport

The U.S. Energy Department announced new policy guidance regarding China that is designed to prevent Beijing from illegally diverting technologies and materials from civil nuclear activities to military programs.

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry issued new policy guidance intended to prevent China from illegally diverting technologies and materials from civil nuclear activities to military programs. (Photo: Kevin Hagen/Getty Images)The United States “cannot ignore the national security implications” of Chinese efforts to acquire nuclear technology “outside of established processes,” Energy Secretary Rick Perry said in an Oct. 11 press release. The new policy guidance was described as necessary to strike “an appropriate balance between the long-term risk to U.S. national security [interests] and economic interests.”

Chris Ford, assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, outlined U.S. concerns about China’s policy of “military-civil fusion” in July, noting that Beijing is working “to eliminate all barriers between its civilian and defense industrial sectors to promote the free flow” of technology and expertise.

China has “announced, in advance” that they will use anything acquired through civil nuclear cooperation for military purposes if it advances Beijing’s objectives, he said.

The new U.S. guidelines will provide a framework for assessing licensing requests, according to the press release. A presumption of approval will still apply to certain requests for the sale of commercially available technology or extending existing authorizations, but there will be a presumption of denial for exports to China related to small modular reactors, new technology transfers, and any requests to direct economic competitors of U.S. entities.

Currently, U.S. nuclear trade with China is governed by a 30-year nuclear cooperation agreement negotiated in 2015 under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954. Nuclear cooperation agreements require states to meet certain criteria before licenses are issued for the exportation of U.S.-origin nuclear material, reactors, and related technologies.

There will also be a presumption of denial for licensing exports related to the China General Nuclear Power Company. China General Nuclear Power was indicted in April 2016 for “conspiracy to unlawfully engage and participate in the production and development of special nuclear material outside the United States, without the required authorization,” according to a press release from the U.S. Justice Department.

In his July speech, Ford linked the indictment to efforts by China to advance its small modular reactor program. Small modular reactors are less costly and can be incrementally expanded. The small size also means that these systems can be built in less accessible areas and require less land. A number of countries have expressed interest in pursuing small modular reactors for energy generation.

China appears to be ramping up efforts to expand its nuclear exports. In September, Beijing released its draft Atomic Energy Law and invited comments on the provisions. According to an accompanying press release, the draft law is necessary to fill regulatory gaps, clarify policies, and promote the development of China’s nuclear industry.

The draft law contains a section detailing nuclear export requirements and, according the release, encourages and supports Chinese entities participating in the global market.

The stated concern is diversion to military programs.

Pentagon Sees Chinese Missile Advances


The U.S. Defense Department annual report on China’s military power says that Beijing is developing new nuclear weapons delivery systems and is moving to deploy a new missile defense interceptor. The report, released Aug. 16, said China is developing two air-launched ballistic missiles, one of which may be nuclear weapons capable. That missile has been flight-tested five times, according to an April report in The Diplomat. This development is significant because air-launched ballistic missiles cannot be intercepted in the boost- or midcourse phase.

China displayed the DF-31AG intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), an enhanced version of the DF-31A, for the first time in 2017 at the People’s Liberation Army’s 90th anniversary parade, the Defense Department report notes. China “appears to be considering” additional launch options for the DF-41 ICBM, which is still under development after being tested 10 times, including rail-mobile and silo-based launch options, the report notes. The report also cited Chinese development work on a new nuclear-capable bomber, with an estimated range of at least 8,500 kilometers (5,300 miles), that could debut within a decade.

The HQ-19 midcourse missile defense interceptor, which was still being tested in 2016, “may have begun preliminary operation in [w]estern China,” the report states. The system is designed to intercept medium-range missiles, likely from regional countries such as India and North Korea.—ALICIA SANDERS-ZAKRE

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China Develops, Deploys New Missiles


China is advancing its missile capabilities, with the official deployment of an intermediate-range ballistic missile and the reported development of a nuclear-capable air-launched ballistic missile. Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian told reporters on April 26 that China had deployed its first intermediate-range ballistic missile, the DF-26. The missile has a range of 4,000 kilometers and was first unveiled in September 2015. (See ACT, June 2016.) The U.S. Defense Department said that China had deployed the missile in a 2017 report on Chinese military developments. (See ACT, July/August 2017.)

Military vehicles carrying China’s DF-26 ballistic missiles are displayed at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015 during a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. (Photo: Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images)China tested the air-launched ballistic missile, designated as CH-AS-X-13 by the United States, five times between 2016 and January 2018, according to an April report in The Diplomat. The U.S. intelligence community assesses that the missile will be ready for deployment by 2025, according to a source who spoke to The Diplomat. No other country has deployed this missile type, although others have developed it. In March, Russian President Vladimir Putin introduced the Kinzhal missile, which some analysts have characterized as an air-launched hypersonic cruise missile.—ALICIA SANDERS-ZAKRE

China Develops, Deploys New Missiles

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