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former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Biological Weapons Convention Signatories and States-Parties

November 2020

Contact: Kelsey Davenport, Director for Nonproliferation Policy, (202) 463-8270 x102

The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) currently has 183 states-parties, including Palestine, and four signatories (Egypt, Haiti, Somalia, and Syria). Ten states have neither signed nor ratified the BWC (Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Israel, Kiribati, Micronesia, Namibia, South Sudan, and Tuvalu). The BWC opened for signature on April 10, 1972, and entered into force on March 26, 1975. A country that did not ratify the BWC before it entered into force may accede to it at any time.

For a guide to the terms of the convention, see The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) at a Glance.

Country Signature Ratification/Accession
Afghanistan 4/10/72
Albania -
Algeria -
Andorra -
Angola -
Antigua & Barbuda - 1/29/03
Argentina 8/1/72 11/27/79
Armenia -
Australia 4/10/72
Austria 4/10/72
Azerbaijan -
Bahamas - 11/26/86
Bahrain -
Bangladesh -
Barbados 2/16/73 2/16/73
Belarus 4/10/72
Belgium 4/10/72
Belize [1] - 10/20/86
Benin 4/10/72
Bhutan -
Bolivia 4/10/72
Bosnia and Herzegovina [2] -
Botswana 4/10/72
Brazil 4/10/72
Brunei Darussalam -
Bulgaria 4/10/72
Burkina Faso -
Burundi 4/10/72
Cambodia 4/10/72
Cameroon - 1/18/13
Canada 4/10/72
Cape Verde -
Central African Republic 4/10/72 9/25/18
Chile 4/10/72
China -
Colombia 4/10/72
Congo -
Cook Islands - 12/4/08
Costa Rica 4/10/72
Côte d'Ivoire 5/23/72
Croatia [2] -
Cuba 4/12/72
Cyprus 4/10/72
Czech Republic [3] -
Democratic Republic of Congo [4] 4/10/72
Denmark 4/10/72
Dominica -
Dominican Republic 4/10/72
Ecuador 6/14/72
Egypt 4/10/72 -
El Salvador 4/10/72
Equatorial Guinea -
Estonia -
Eswatini -
Ethiopia 4/10/72
Fiji 2/22/73
Finland 4/10/72
France -
Gabon 4/10/72
Gambia 6/2/72
Georgia -
Germany [5] 4/10/72
Ghana 4/10/72
Greece 4/10/72
Grenada -
Guatemala 5/9/72
Guinea   11/9/16
Guinea-Bissau -
Guyana 1/3/73
Haiti 4/10/72
Holy See 1/4/02
Honduras 4/10/72
Hungary 4/10/72 12/27/72
Iceland 4/10/72
India 1/15/73
Indonesia 6/20/72
Iran 4/10/72
Iraq 5/11/72 6/19/91
Ireland 4/10/72 10/27/72
Italy 4/10/72
Jamaica -
Japan 4/10/72
Jordan 4/10/72
Kazakhstan -
Kenya -
Kuwait 4/14/72
Kyrgyzstan - 10/15/04
Laos 4/10/72
Latvia -
Lebanon 4/10/72 3/26/75
Lesotho 4/10/72
Liberia 4/10/72
Libya 4/10/72 1/19/82
Liechtenstein -
Lithuania -
Luxembourg 4/10/72
Madagascar 10/13/72
Malawi 4/10/72
Malaysia 4/10/72
Maldives -
Mali 4/10/72
Malta 9/11/72
Marshall Islands   11/15/12
Mauritania   1/28/15
Mauritius 4/10/72
Mexico 4/10/72
Moldova - 1/28/05
Monaco -
Mongolia 4/10/72
Montenegro [6] -
Morocco 5/2/72
Mozambique - 3/29/11
Myanmar 4/10/72  12/1/14
Nauru - 3/5/13
Nepal 4/10/72
Netherlands 4/10/72
New Zealand 4/10/72
Nicaragua 4/10/72
Niger 4/21/72
Nigeria 7/3/72
Niue   6/14/18
North Korea - 3/13/87
North Macedonia [2] -
Norway 4/10/72
Oman -
Pakistan 4/10/72
Palau - 2/20/03
Palestine - 1/9/18
Panama 5/2/72 3/20/74
Papua New Guinea -
Paraguay -
Peru 4/10/72
Philippines 4/10/72
Poland 4/10/72
Portugal 6/29/72
Qatar 11/14/72
Romania 4/10/72
Russia [7] 4/10/72
Rwanda 4/10/72
St. Kitts & Nevis -
St. Lucia [8] -
St. Vincent & the Grenadines [8] -
Samoa   9/21/17
San Marino 9/12/72
Sao Tome and Principe - 8/24/79
Saudi Arabia 4/12/72
Senegal 4/10/72
Serbia [2] [6] - 4/27/92
Seychelles -
Sierra Leone 11/7/72
Singapore 6/19/72
Slovakia [3] -
Slovenia [2] -
Solomon Islands [8] -
Somalia 7/3/72 -
South Africa 4/10/72
South Korea 4/10/72
Spain 4/10/72
Sri Lanka 4/10/72
Sudan -
Suriname -
Sweden 2/27/74
Switzerland 4/10/72
Syria 4/14/72 -
Tajikistan - 6/27/05
Tanzania 8/16/72
Thailand 1/17/73
Timor Leste - 5/5/03
Togo 4/10/72
Tonga - 9/28/76
Trinidad & Tobago - 7/19/07
Tunisia 4/10/72
Turkey 4/10/72
Turkmenistan - 1/11/96
Uganda -
Ukraine 4/10/72
United Arab Emirates 9/28/72
United Kingdom 4/10/72
United States 4/10/72
Uruguay -
Uzbekistan -
Vanuatu -
Venezuela 4/10/72
Vietnam 4/10/72
Yemen [9] 4/26/72
Zambia -
Zimbabwe -

Taiwan (the Republic of China) has also stated its intent to abide by the treaty, despite not being a state party. The Republic of China signed the treaty on April 10, 1972 and ratified it on February 9, 1973.

Source: UN Website

Research assistance by Marissa Papatola


1. Succession from the United Kingdom

2. Succession from Yugoslavia

3. Succession from Czechoslovakia

4. Ratification as Zaire

5. Ratification as East Germany and West Germany

6. Ratified as Serbia and Montenegro

7. Ratified as the Soviet Union

8. Succession from the United Kingdom

9. Ratified as South Yemen and North Yemen

Strategic Arms Control and Policy

Country Resources:

Subject Resources:

NATO Presses Stand on Nuclear Weapons

September 2018
By Monica Montgomery

Leaders of the 29 NATO member nations approved changes to the alliance’s policies on nuclear deterrence and nonproliferation during their July 11–12 summit in Brussels.

NATO leaders gather for a working dinner at the Art and History Museum in the Parc du Cinquantenaire in Brussels on July 11. (Photo: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AFP/Getty Images)The 2018 Brussels summit declaration states that “NATO’s nuclear deterrence posture also relies on United States’ nuclear weapons forward-deployed in Europe,” a shift from the alliance’s 2016 Warsaw declaration stating that the posture relied “in part” on U.S. forward-deployed nuclear weapons. Neither the 2014 nor 2012 summit statements explicitly referred to the need for U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe. (See ACT, September 2016.)

This phrasing suggests that NATO credits an increased role to the 150 to 200 B61 nuclear gravity bombs believed to be deployed on the territory of five NATO states (Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey). The move comes after the Trump administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review report published in February, which asserted that the B61 warheads contribute to the “supreme guarantee of Alliance security.” (See ACT, March 2018.)

The 2018 declaration also addressed in stronger terms alleged Russian violations of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. The 2016 declaration highlighted the importance of the INF Treaty and called on Russia “to preserve the viability of the INF Treaty through ensuring full and verifiable compliance,” but the new declaration devoted greater attention to the issue. NATO leaders stated that “the most plausible assessment would be that Russia is in violation” of the treaty, as Washington has asserted for several years, and supported a renewed dialogue between the United States, Russia, and NATO allies to bring the treaty back into full force.

Further, the 2018 declaration deviated from previous summit documents on a number of international nonproliferation agreements and treaties, including the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), the Iran nuclear deal, and the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). Although the 2016 declaration called for the universalization of the CTBT, the 2018 declaration called on all states “to declare and to maintain a voluntary moratorium [on nuclear testing]…pending the potential entry into force” of the CTBT.

The 2016 summit statement commended the Iran deal, but the 2018 document did not mention it. This reflects European efforts to preserve the agreement after U.S. President Donald Trump’s May 8 decision to have the United States withdraw from the accord, which he labeled “a horrible, one-sided deal.” (See ACT, June 2018.)

The 2018 declaration also praised U.S. and Russian reductions in strategic nuclear weapons under New START and expressed “strong support for its continued implementation,” while stopping short of calling for an extension of the treaty beyond its 2021 expiration date. New START had not been mentioned since the 2010 summit document.

The declaration follows the trend of recent NATO summits to highlight the importance of nuclear weapons in NATO strategy amid worsening tensions between Russia and the West.

In addition to changes on the nuclear policy front, the summit also took steps to buttress NATO’s conventional deterrence posture. These included the establishment of an Atlantic Command post, an invitation to Macedonia to join the alliance, and approval of the “Four 30s” initiative to provide in a NATO-Russia crisis 30 troop battalions, 30 squadrons of aircraft, and 30 warships within 30 days to bolster combat readiness.

Prior to the summit, many feared an explosive performance due to Trump’s worsening relationship with allies in recent months. Trump particularly has criticized NATO’s European members and Canada for failing to share the NATO financial burden, despite increases in their defense spending for the fourth year in a row. (See ACT, July/August 2018.)

The alliance meeting ended with leaders disputing Trump’s public assertion that he had won additional defense-spending commitments from them. Still, Jamie Shea, a NATO deputy assistant secretary-general, called the summit declaration “the most substantive…the most complete, [and] the most consensual” NATO agreement in years.

Leaders toughen language favoring forward-deployed U.S. nuclear weapons.

Senators Want Limits in Saudi Nuclear Accord

Energy Minister Suhail Mohammed Faraj al-Mazroui of the United Arab Emirates leaves the stage following his address to the Nuclear Power in the 21st Century International Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi on October 30, 2017. The U.S.-UAE nuclear cooperation agreement is considered the “gold standard” for nonproliferation safeguards.  (Photo: Nezar Balout/AFP/Getty Images)The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a resolution July 26 calling for any U.S. civilian nuclear cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia to prohibit the kingdom from enriching uranium or separating plutonium and require it to bring into force an additional protocol to its safeguards agreement. The resolution comes as the Trump administration negotiates a so-called 123 agreement with the Saudis, and it reflects the complications following recent threats by Saudi leaders to seek nuclear weapons if Iran does so. (See ACT, June 2018.) A 123 agreement, named after the relevant section of the 1954 Atomic Energy Act, sets the terms for sharing U.S. nuclear energy technology, equipment, and materials with other countries.

A key issue is whether the United States will insist that Saudi Arabia agree to forgo making nuclear fuel, as its neighbor the United Arab Emirates did in 2009 to obtain its 123 agreement. To date, Saudi Arabia has resisted the ban and suggested that it seeks to make its own reactor fuel. In addition, Riyadh has neither signed nor ratified an additional protocol, which provides the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with expanded verification rights. Prospects for consideration of the resolution by the full Senate are uncertain.—MONICA MONTGOMERY

Senators Want Limits in Saudi Nuclear Accord

EU Acts to Block U.S. Sanctions on Iran

July/August 2018
By Kelsey Davenport

The European Union adopted measures to protect European entities doing business with Iran from U.S. sanctions, but Iranian officials have said EU efforts are insufficient to persuade Tehran to remain in compliance with the accord.

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj greets to her Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif before a meeting in New Delhi on May 28. Like the EU, India is resisting renewed U.S. sanctions on Iran. “India follows only UN sanctions, and not unilateral sanctions by any country,” she said at a news conference. (Photo: Money Sharma/AFP/Getty Images)The European Commission action on June 6 updating its 1996 blocking regulation to include U.S. sanctions on Iran enters into force Aug. 5, unless more than half of the members of the European Parliament or the EU Foreign Affairs Council object prior to that date. The blocking regulation prohibits EU entities from complying with U.S. extraterritorial sanctions and allows companies to recover damages from such sanctions.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement on May 8 withdrawing from the multilateral nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and reimposing sanctions triggered 90- or 180-day wind-down periods for companies and banks to exit Iran before penalties are assessed. (See ACT, June 2018.) The 90-day period ends Aug. 6.

Despite the EU action, a number of companies already announced they are pulling out of the Iranian market, including Maersk Tankers of Denmark, General Electric, Siemens, Lukoil, and Reliance Petroleum.

Although it was expected that multinational companies would exit the Iranian market irrespective of the blocking regulation, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told the European Parliament on June 12 that the focus is on small and medium-sized enterprises that “are less engaged in the U.S. market.”

Several companies, including French automaker Renault, said they intend to remain in Iran, while others, such as French oil company Total, said they will seek U.S. sanctions waivers to continue doing business with Iran.

In a June 4 letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Mogherini along with the foreign ministers and finance ministers of the E3 (France, Germany, and the United Kingdom) requested sanctions exemptions that would allow European entities to maintain banking channels with Iran and allow existing contracts to go forward. They wrote that, as U.S. allies, they expect Washington “will refrain from taking action to harm Europe’s security interests” and reaffirmed that they consider the nuclear deal critical for protecting “collective security interests.”

There is no indication from the Trump administration that exemptions will be granted. Chris Ford, assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, said on June 11 that the United States is prepared to “lean hard on our partners and the international community” as Washington pursues its strategy of using sanctions to pressure Iran into new negotiations on its ballistic missiles and regional activities, as well as its nuclear program.

The U.S. officials have begun a “diplomatic roadshow” to discuss how to minimize exposure to U.S. sanctions and how to “work together in pursuit of a better, successor agreement,” Ford said at the Center for a New American Security.

Iranian officials have said they will not renegotiate with the United States and will continue abiding by the nuclear deal if the remaining parties can deliver on sanctions relief. Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), said on June 19 that the steps taken so far by the EU are insufficient.

The EU is working on additional options to realize the sanctions relief for Iran envisioned by the nuclear deal. Mogherini said that the “most important challenge now is to find solutions on banking and finance” to facilitate legitimate trade.

The European Commission agreed on June 6 to update the European Investment Bank’s mandate to enable lending to Iran. But it seems unlikely that the bank will decide to finance any activities in Iran. After the announcement, the bank said in a statement that it “is not the right tool” and that the bank cannot ignore the sanctions and remain a “solid and credible institution.”

Although the Trump administration appears unlikely to grant waivers for European entities, it may grant exemptions for projects specified by the nuclear deal. One of the entities redesignated under U.S. regulations as a result of the reimposition of sanctions was the AEOI, which puts at risk companies engaged on these priority nonproliferation projects.

Under the nuclear deal, Iran agreed to remove the core of its Arak reactor and modify it to produce no more than minimal amounts of weapons-usable plutonium. China is working with Iran on implementation. The nuclear deal also required Iran to convert its Fordow enrichment site into a stable-isotope research facility and refrain from any uranium-enrichment activities at the site for 15 years. Russia is assisting Iran in that project.

A State Department official told Arms Control Today on June 15 that no decision has been made on whether to pursue penalties against Chinese and Russian firms working on the Arak and Fordow projects.

Iran has continued to threaten to respond to the U.S. action by resuming prohibited nuclear activities if the remaining parties do not deliver on sanctions relief.

The most recent IAEA implementation report confirmed Iran’s compliance. But the report noted that although inspectors have had access to all sites necessary, more “timely and proactive cooperation by Iran” on access granted under an additional protocol to Iran’s safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would facilitate implementation and “enhance confidence.”

During the IAEA Board of Governors meeting, U.S. diplomat Nicole Shampaine said on June 5 that the agency “should never again have to appeal for ‘timely and proactive cooperation’ by Iran.”

Iran also notified the IAEA that it was opening a new centrifuge production facility. Reza Najafi, Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA, said on June 6 that the decision to open the facility reflect preparatory work “for a possible scenario” and reiterated that Iran will not start “any activities contrary” to the accord at this time.

Building a new facility for centrifuge production is not a violation of the deal if Iran notifies the agency in accordance with its safeguards obligations, which Tehran appears to have done. But if Iran were to produce centrifuge machines at that location in the future, it might breach the limits of the nuclear accord.

Under the deal, Iran can produce advanced centrifuges in line with its research and development plan and can only produce IR-1 machines, which are currently used for enriching uranium, when the number of machines in monitored storage drops below 500. Iran has not yet reached that point.

European leaders try to keep Trump’s action from blowing up the Iran nuclear deal.

NATO Sees Defense Spending Rise

NATO expects to see a 3.8 percent increase in defense spending by its European members and Canada this year, as President Donald Trump hammers the closest U.S. allies to shoulder more of the defense burden.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg gives a press briefing June 7 during a Defense Council meeting at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters in Brussels. (Photo: John Thys/AFP/Getty Images)The increase would be the fourth in a row, although it lags behind last year’s estimated 5.2 percent increase, according to a chart released June 7 by the alliance. “All allies have stopped the cuts,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said following a defense ministers meeting. “All allies are increasing defense spending.”

The increases mean European allies and Canada will have spent an additional $87 billion on defense since 2014, he said. Trump has wrongly claimed credit for this turnaround, which began in 2015 spurred by Russia’s military moves against Ukraine and its subsequent annexation of Crimea, as well as by pressure from the Obama administration.

The increases are unlikely to end the criticism from Trump, who is scheduled to join the leaders of the other 28 countries at the NATO summit July 11–12. Trump’s souring relationship with key European leaders, particularly over his trade policies, may spill over to the defense alliance talks. Following this year’s Group of Seven summit in Canada, Trump tweeted his criticism that the United States spends money “protecting many of these same countries that rip us off on trade.”—TERRY ATLAS

NATO Sees Defense Spending Rise

Chemical Weapons Convention Signatories and States-Parties

June 2018 

Contact: Daryl KimballExecutive Director, (202) 463-8270 x107

The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) entered into force on April 29, 1997, and currently has 193 states-parties. One state has signed but not ratified (Israel). Three states have neither signed nor ratified (Egypt, North Korea, and South Sudan).

For a guide to the convention, see The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) at a Glance.

Country Signature Ratification/Accession
Afghanistan 1/14/93 9/24/03
Albania 1/14/93 5/11/94
Algeria 1/13/93 8/14/95
Andorra 2/27/03
Angola 9/16/15
Antigua & Barbuda 8/29/05
Argentina 1/13/93 10/2/95
Armenia 3/19/93 1/27/95
Australia 1/13/93 5/6/94
Austria 1/13/93 8/17/95
Azerbaijan 1/13/93 2/29/00
Bahamas 3/2/94 4/21/09
Bahrain 2/24/93 4/28/97
Bangladesh 1/14/93 4/25/97
Barbados 3/7/07
Belarus 1/14/93 7/11/96
Belgium 1/13/93 1/27/97
Belize 12/1/03
Benin 1/14/93 5/14/98
Bhutan 4/23/97 8/18/05
Bolivia 1/14/93 8/14/98
Bosnia and Herzegovina 1/16/97 2/25/97
Botswana 8/31/98
Brazil 1/13/93 3/13/96
Brunei Darussalem 1/13/93 7/28/97
Bulgaria 1/13/93 8/10/94
Burkina Faso 1/14/93 7/8/97
Burundi 1/15/93 9/4/98
Cambodia 1/15/93 7/19/05
Cameroon 1/14/93 9/16/96
Canada 1/13/93 9/26/95
Cape Verde 1/15/93 10/10/03
Central African Republic 1/14/93 9/20/06
Chad 10/11/94 2/13/04
Chile 1/14/93 7/12/96
China 1/13/93 4/25/97
Colombia 1/13/93 4/5/00
Comoros 1/13/93 9/17/06
Congo 1/15/93 12/4/07
Cook Islands 1/14/93 7/15/94
Costa Rica 1/14/93 5/31/96
Côte d'Ivoire 1/13/93 12/18/95
Croatia 1/13/93 5/23/95
Cuba 1/13/93 4/29/97
Cyprus 1/13/93 8/28/98
Czech Republic 1/14/93 3/6/96
Democratic Republic of Congo 1/14/93 10/12/05
Denmark 1/14/93 7/13/95
Djibouti 9/28/93 1/25/06
Dominica 8/2/93 2/12/01
Dominican Republic 1/13/93 3/26/09
Ecuador 1/14/93 9/6/95
El Salvador 1/14/93 10/30/95
Equatorial Guinea 1/14/93 4/25/97
Eritrea 2/14/00
Estonia 1/14/93 5/26/99
Ethiopia 1/14/93 5/13/96
Fiji 1/14/93 1/20/93
Finland 1/14/93 2/7/95
France 1/13/93 3/2/95
Gabon 1/13/93 9/8/00
Gambia 1/13/93 5/19/98
Georgia 1/14/93 11/27/95
Germany 1/13/93 8/12/94
Ghana 1/14/93 7/9/97
Greece 1/13/93 12/22/94
Grenada 4/9/97 6/3/05
Guatemala 1/14/93 2/12/03
Guinea 1/14/93 6/9/97
Guinea-Bissau 1/14/93 6/19/08
Guyana 10/6/93 9/12/97
Haiti 1/14/93 2/22/06
Holy See 1/14/93 5/12/99
Honduras 1/13/93 8/29/05
Hungary 1/13/93 10/31/96
Iceland 1/13/93 4/28/97
India 1/14/93 9/3/96
Indonesia 1/13/93 11/12/98
Iran 1/13/93 11/3/97
Iraq 1/13/09
Ireland 1/14/93 6/24/96
Israel 1/13/93
Italy 1/13/93 12/8/95
Jamaica 4/18/97 9/8/00
Japan 1/13/93 9/15/95
Jordan 10/29/97
Kazakhstan 1/14/93 3/23/00
Kenya 1/15/93 4/25/97
Kiribati 9/7/00
Kuwait 1/27/93 5/28/97
Kyrgyzstan 2/22/93 9/29/03
Laos 5/13/93 2/25/97
Latvia 5/6/93 7/23/96
Lebanon 11/20/08
Lesotho 12/7/94 12/7/94
Liberia 1/15/93 3/25/06
Libya 1/6/04
Liechtenstein 7/21/93 11/24/99
Lithuania 1/13/93 4/15/98
Luxembourg 1/13/93 4/15/97
Macedonia 6/20/97
Madagascar 1/15/93 10/20/04
Malawi 1/14/93 6/11/98
Malaysia 1/13/93 4/20/00
Maldives 10/1/93 5/31/94
Mali 1/13/93 4/28/97
Malta 1/13/93 4/28/97
Marshall Islands 1/13/93 5/19/04
Mauritania 1/13/93 2/9/98
Mauritius 1/14/93 2/9/93
Mexico 1/13/93 8/29/94
Micronesia 1/13/93 6/21/99
Moldova 1/13/93 7/8/96
Monaco 1/13/93 6/1/95
Mongolia 1/14/93 1/17/95
Montenegro 10/23/06
Morocco 1/13/93 12/28/95
Mozambique 8/15/00
Myanmar 1/14/93 08/07/15
Namibia 1/13/93 11/27/95
Nauru 1/13/93 11/12/01
Nepal 1/19/93 11/18/97
Netherlands 1/14/93 6/30/95
New Zealand 1/14/93 7/15/96
Nicaragua 3/9/93 11/5/99
Niger 1/14/93 4/9/97
Nigeria 1/13/93 5/20/99
Niue 4/21/05
North Korea    
Norway 1/13/93 4/7/94
Oman 2/2/93 2/8/95
Pakistan 1/13/93 10/28/97
Palau 2/3/03
Palestine 5/17/18
Panama 6/16/93 10/7/98
Papua New Guinea 1/14/93 4/17/96
Paraguay 1/14/93 12/1/94
Peru 1/14/93 7/20/95
Philippines 1/13/93 12/11/96
Poland 1/13/93 8/23/95
Portugal 1/13/93 9/10/96
Qatar 2/1/93 9/3/97
Romania 1/13/93 2/15/95
Russia 1/13/93 11/5/97
Rwanda 5/17/93 3/31/04
St. Kitts & Nevis 3/16/94 5/21/04
St. Lucia 3/29/93 4/9/97
St. Vincent & the Grenadines 9/20/93 9/18/02
Samoa 1/14/93 9/27/02
San Marino 1/13/93 12/10/99
Sao Tome and Principe 9/9/03
Saudi Arabia 1/20/93 8/9/96
Senegal 1/13/93 7/20/98
Serbia 4/20/00
Seychelles 1/15/93 4/7/93
Sierra Leone 1/15/93 9/30/04
Singapore 1/14/93 5/21/97
Slovak Republic 1/14/93 10/27/95
Slovenia 1/14/93 6/11/97
Solomon Islands 9/23/04
Somalia 5/29/13
South Africa 1/14/93 9/13/95
South Korea 1/14/93 4/28/97
South Sudan    
Spain 1/13/93 8/3/94
Sri Lanka 1/14/93 8/19/94
Sudan 5/24/99
Suriname 4/28/97 4/28/97
Swaziland 9/23/93 11/20/96
Sweden 1/13/93 6/17/93
Switzerland 1/14/93 3/10/95
Syria   9/12/13*
Tajikistan 1/14/93 1/11/95
Tanzania 2/25/94 6/25/98
Thailand 1/14/93 12/10/02
Timor Leste 5/7/03
Togo 1/13/93 4/23/97
Tonga 5/29/03
Trinidad & Tobago 6/24/97
Tunisia 1/13/93 4/15/97
Turkey 1/14/93 5/12/97
Turkmenistan 10/12/93 9/29/94
Tuvalu 1/19/04
Uganda 1/14/93 11/30/01
Ukraine 1/13/93 10/16/98
United Arab Emirates 2/2/93 11/28/00
United Kingdom 1/13/93 5/13/96
United States 1/13/93 4/25/97
Uruguay 1/15/93 10/6/94
Uzbekistan 11/24/95 7/23/96
Vanuatu 9/16/05
Venezuela 1/14/93 12/3/97
Vietnam 1/13/93 9/30/98
Yemen 2/8/93 10/2/00
Zambia 1/13/93 2/9/01
Zimbabwe 1/13/93 4/25/97

*Syria sent a letter to the United Nations Secretary-General which said that Assad signed a legislative decree providing the accession of Syria to the Chemical Weapons Convention. In the letter, Assad said Syria would observe its CWC obligations immediately, as opposed to 30 days from the date of accession, as stipulated in the treaty.

    Source: Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

    Chemical/Biological Arms Control

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    EU Moves to Block U.S. Iran Sanctions

    June 2018
    By Kelsey Davenport

    U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran and reimpose sanctions on that country is spurring Europe to block U.S. measures and shore up support to sustain the agreement.

    By pulling out of the 2015 multilateral nuclear agreement, Trump delivered on a campaign promise to “tear up” the deal with Iran, which he has frequently disparaged as the “worst deal ever negotiated.” In doing so, he rebuffed personal last-minute appeals by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel during their visits to the White House in late April.

    President Donald Trump leaves the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House May 8 after announcing his decision to abandon the Iran nuclear deal. (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)Trump said on May 8 that if he “allowed this deal to stand, there would soon be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.” Trump said the process he initiated in January to work with European partners to “fix” the accord is not possible under the “decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement,” despite U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo telling allies days before the announcement that he felt an agreement could be reached to address U.S. concerns. (See ACT, March 2018.)

    Following up the president’s action, Pompeo in a May 21 speech outlined a broad list of demands on Iran and said the United States will impose the “strongest sanctions in history” to force Iran to end certain nuclear activities and missile programs, aid to the Syrian regime and support for militant groups in the region. The set of demands, stopping just short of an explicit call for regime change, sets the stage for further U.S. tensions with European allies and the Islamic Republic.

    Even before Pompeo’s policy speech, Trump’s announcement earned sharp rebukes from Washington’s partners in the agreement, as well as the European Union, and commitments by those nations to continue implementing the accord. The extent to which that is possible is unclear, given that major foreign companies face being cut off from the U.S. banking system and other punishment if they do not adhere to U.S. sanctions on Iran.

    European Council President Donald Tusk was particularly direct in his criticism, tweeting on May 16 that “[l]ooking at the latest decisions of President Trump, someone could even think: With friends like that, who needs enemies?”

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani reiterated Iran’s commitment to continue abiding by the agreement, so long as Iran’s national interests are met, and said he was pleased that “the troublesome member has been eliminated” from the deal.

    But Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that he wants to see “definite reassurance” and “practical guarantees” that Iran will receive the sanctions relief envisioned under the deal.

    Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief, said that guarantees are not possible but that the EU is determined to “act in accordance with its security interests and to protect its economic investments.” She met on May 15 with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and the foreign ministers of France, Germany, and the UK to discuss moving forward without the United States.

    How Might Iran Expand Its Nuclear Capacity?

    In deciding to violate the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, President Donald Trump has put at risk the extensive measures the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) imposed to block Iran from building nuclear weapons.

    How long would it take if Tehran’s leaders now decide to race for the bomb? One accomplishment of the nuclear deal is that it imposed hurdles intended to ensure that Iran could not do it in less than a year. Further, for now, Iran would not be able to attempt it without being detected, thanks to the robust international inspection and monitoring required by the nuclear accord.

    That timeline and the inspection tripwires could, however, become less reliable depending on Iran’s actions following the unilateral U.S. decision to reimpose sanctions.

    Iranian leaders have raised the possibility of abandoning some or all of the tough nuclear restrictions they accepted in 2015 in return for the lifting of nuclear-related international sanctions. Iran could take steps, such as scaling up its nuclear program or reducing cooperation with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors, that would violate its JCPOA commitments.

    “If necessary, we can begin our industrial [uranium] enrichment without any limitations,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on May 8. “We will wait for some weeks and will talk with our friends and allies and other signatories of the nuclear deal, who signed it and who will remain loyal to it. Everything depends on our national interests.”

    Iran currently has 5,060 installed IR-1 centrifuge machines and a relatively small inventory of low-enriched uranium of less than 300 kilograms. Iran could quickly begin enriching the material to 20 percent uranium-235, although it would still take at least 12 months to amass enough uranium enriched further to bomb grade for one nuclear device.

    Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said on April 21 that if the decision were made, it would take just four days to resume enrichment to 20 percent U-235. Enrichment to that level is short of the enrichment level of 90 percent necessary for weapons use, but it would reduce the time needed to produce bomb-grade material. The nuclear deal limits enrichment to levels below 3.67 percent U-235, suitable for fueling nuclear power reactors.

    Iran also could reorient the Fordow underground enrichment complex, which became a physics and technology research center under the deal, and use some 1,000 IR-1 machines there. Iran’s centrifuge-based nuclear infrastructure could be further augmented with the redeployment of some 1,000 advanced IR-2M centrifuges, which were put into monitored storage under the JCPOA. Because these are two to three times more efficient than the IR-1s, their use, along with the IR-1 machines at Iran’s disposal, would reduce the time necessary to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for one bomb to two to three months.

    With the existing IAEA monitoring system in place, all of these steps would be promptly detected. But within months of a decision to exceed the JCPOA limits, Iran could have a vastly shorter “breakout” timeline.

    Breakout calculations must take into account the fact that, before 2004, Iran engaged in an organized program of experiments useful for the development and design of nuclear weapons. U.S. intelligence agencies and the IAEA report that program is no longer underway, although it is prudent to assume that Iran has the know-how to assemble a nuclear device.

    At present, Iranian engineers and scientists, building on past know-how, would likely need at least a year to assemble a workable nuclear device and mate it to a reliable ballistic missile delivery system.—DARYL G. KIMBALL

    Subsequently, at a May 17 meeting of the European Commission, the body agreed to take steps in response to Trump’s reimposition of sanctions, including revising a blocking statute used by the EU in the 1990s to protect entities from U.S. sanctions on Cuba. The blocking regulation “forbids EU companies from complying with the extraterritorial effects of U.S. sanctions, allows companies to recover damages arising from such sanctions from the person causing them, and nullifies the effect in the EU of any foreign court judgements based on them,” according to a May 17 press release.

    The EU is aiming to have the measure in force by Aug. 6, the day some U.S. sanctions go into effect. Although the United States has reimposed sanctions, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced on May 8 that entities would be given 90 or 180 days to wind down activities in Iran before sanctions would be enforced.

    For large, multinational companies with a significant presence in the United States, the blocking regulation is unlikely to provide enough assurance for them to remain in the Iranian market. Several announced that they are winding down business in Iran and exiting contracts.

    The regulation sends a strong political signal, however, and may provide cover for smaller businesses with less of a presence in the United States to continue doing business in Iran. The EU also launched a process whereby the European Investment Bank will be able to support investment activities in Iran.

    EU measures to blunt the impact of sanctions call into question Trump’s plan to pressure Iran back to negotiations. Brian Hook, State Department director for policy planning, in a May 18 press conference described the goal of sanctions reimposition as creating “necessary pressure to bear on Iran to change its behavior and to pursue a new framework” that addresses Iran’s ballistic missile development and its support for terrorism, as well as its nuclear program.

    In the lead up to the 2015 nuclear agreement, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), EU sanctions and EU compliance with U.S. sanctions were a critical part of the pressure campaign that pushed Iran to negotiate. With the EU and China, Russia, and other states retaining business ties with Iran, it is unlikely that the United States will be able to press Iran into new negotiations.

    Trump Draws International Criticism for Quitting Iran Deal

    U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to unilaterally withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal drew unusually strong criticism from U.S. allies and from partners in the negotiations. Some of those reactions:

    “France, Germany, and the UK regret the U.S. decision…. The nuclear nonproliferation regime is at stake.”—French President Emmanuel Macron

    “Imagine all the mutually contaminating civil wars and internecine conflicts that rage across the Middle East today. Then turn the dial, and add the possibility of a regional nuclear arms race triggered by Iran dashing for a bomb. That is the scenario which the agreement has helped to prevent.”—UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson

    Newspapers in Tehran on May 9 headline the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal. (Photo:  Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)“The [deal], agreed to with Iran in 2015 and endorsed by the UN Security Council, is not perfect. It has, however, helped to curb a real threat to international peace and security. Canada regrets that the United States has decided to withdraw…particularly given that, according to the [International Atomic Energy Agency], Iran continues to implement its…commitments.”
    —Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland

    “I believe that it’s not right to unilaterally cancel an accord that was negotiated, that was confirmed in the UN Security Council unanimously.”—German Chancellor Angela Merkel

    “The action plan does not belong to the United States alone but is a domain of the entire international community, which has repeatedly reaffirmed its interest in the preservation and long-term sustainable implementation of the [Iran deal] for the sake of strengthening international and regional peace and security as well as the nuclear nonproliferation regime.... Russia is open to further cooperation with the other…participants and will continue to actively develop bilateral collaboration and political dialogue with the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
    —Russian Foreign Ministry statement

    “The agreement is not perfect, and we must continue to address concerns about Iran’s ballistic missile program and its role in the region…. The U.S. decision is a step backwards. The Netherlands will work with our partners to find a solution that safeguards our own security and that of the entire European Union.”—Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok

    “Australia is disappointed.”—Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop

    Iran has left open the option to resume troublesome nuclear activities in response to the U.S. violation and withdrawal from the deal. In a move likely meant to signal that Iran will leave the JCPOA if the remaining parties to the agreement cannot deliver on sanctions relief, Rouhani ordered the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) to be “fully prepared for subsequent measures if needed, so in the case of need, we will start up our industrial enrichment without limitations.”

    Other Iranian officials, including AEOI head Ali Akhbar Salehi, have specifically said Iran would resume enriching uranium to 20 percent uranium-235, a level that would put Tehran closer to the 90 percent U-235 required for use in nuclear weapons.

    Under the JCPOA, Iran is limited to enriching uranium to 3.67 percent U-235, a level suitable for nuclear power reactors, using no more than 5,060 installed centrifuges. The accord also limits Iran to a stockpile to 300 kilograms of uranium enriched to that level, a measure to hinder any nuclear-bomb effort.

    Yukiya Amano, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, confirmed on May 8 that Iran is meeting its commitments under the accord, and the agency’s May 24 quarterly report on Iran’s nuclear activities further confirmed that Tehran had not taken any steps to violate the deal after Trump withdrew.


    Close U.S. allies push back after Trump rejects personal appeals not to quit the Iran nuclear deal.

    EU Options May Fall Short for Iran Deal

    May 2018
    By Kelsey Davenport

    As U.S. President Donald Trump threatens to break from the Iran nuclear deal, European officials are considering options to try to sustain the international agreement, an effort that some concede is unlikely to succeed.

    Trump threatened in January to withhold waivers necessary to continue the sanctions relief granted under the deal unless France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, known collectively as the E3, reach an agreement with the U.S. administration to address what the president calls “flaws” in the nuclear accord by the May 12 waiver deadline. (See ACT, March 2018.)

    French President Emmanuel Macron (R) and U.S. President Donald Trump watch a military review at the White House on April 24. During his three-day state visit, Macron pressed Trump to maintain the Iran nuclear deal. (Photo: LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images)Since the January ultimatum, the E3 has been negotiating with the United States to reach an agreement that would satisfy Trump but not violate the deal. French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, during separate visits to Washington in late April, each urged Trump to remain in the deal. Macron said there is no “plan B” alternative and Washington should remain in the agreement.

    Despite Macron’s comments, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has said the European Union is considering what steps can be taken to maintain the nuclear accord if the United States reimposes sanctions or pulls out of the deal. Mogherini headed the P5+1 group (China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK, and the United States) that negotiated with Iran.

    It is not clear whether the EU will be able to agree on measures to protect its banks and businesses from any reimposed U.S. sanctions. Even if the EU pursues these options, it is not clear they will provide enough economic incentives for Iran to stay in the deal.

    The waivers that expire May 12 are tied to provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2012 that require countries purchasing oil from Iran to significantly reduce purchases every 180 days or face U.S. sanctions, which include cutting off from the U.S. financial system banks processing such transactions. Even if Trump takes the position that the United States will not immediately enforce the sanctions, countries such as China, India, Japan, and South Korea will have to begin planning to purchase less Iranian oil in anticipation of when the United States does begin to enforce the measures.

    The EU is also a major purchaser of Iranian oil, and despite its commitment to stand by the deal, the measures available are unlikely to give European businesses and banks confidence that they can conduct legitimate transactions with Iran without the risk of being cut off from the U.S. financial system.

    The EU can issue a blocking regulation, which would shield EU companies from U.S. extraterritorial measures, or try and set up dedicated channels to do business with Iran that are insulated from the U.S. financial system. The EU has used the blocking regulation in the past to protect against U.S. sanctions but in conjunction with a commitment from the United States not to pursue penalties against European businesses. Given Trump’s track record of trying to persuade entities to refrain from business with Iran, it is unlikely that such a guarantee would be issued.

    Implementing the blocking regulation would also require consensus approval by the 28 EU states, some of which currently oppose the move because it is unlikely to be successful and risks aggravating the economic rift between the United States and the EU.

    An official from one of the E3 states told Arms Control Today on April 18 that no company or bank will want to be the “first test case” and risk being cut off from the U.S. financial system. He said the best chance to sustain the deal is to reach an arrangement that addresses Trump’s concerns without violating the agreement, but he said he is increasingly pessimistic that the E3 and Iran can reach an arrangement by May 12 that Trump will accept.

    U.S. and E3 officials met in Washington on April 11 to continue negotiations. Although progress was made on some areas of U.S. concern, such as ballistic missiles, “unreasonable demands” from the United States are complicating any compromise language on the timing for phasing out certain nuclear-related restrictions, the European official said. He added that European countries “cannot and will not commit to automatically reimposing sanctions” if Iran resumes permissible nuclear activities after limits expire.

    Additionally, the official said European countries are still seeking commitments from the Trump administration that Washington will meet its obligations down the road and will refrain from making further demands. Even if an agreement is reached between E3 and U.S. officials, Trump’s unpredictability and his record of animosity toward the nuclear accord cast doubt on whether he will support it.

    Further, Trump’s new national security adviser, John Bolton, and his new secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, have called for U.S. withdrawal from the agreement. Unlike their predecessors, who argued against breaking the deal, Bolton’s and Pompeo’s past comments suggest they are unlikely to urge Trump to accept what the E3 may offer.

    If Trump refuses to waive sanctions, Iran may respond to the U.S. violation by breaching the deal’s constraints. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told CBS News’ Face the Nation broadcast April 22 that if the “benefits of the deal for Iran start to diminish, then there is no reason for Iran to remain in the deal.”

    The “world cannot ask us to unilaterally and one-sidedly implement a deal that has already been broken,” Zarif said. Without going into the details of any specific steps, he said Iran’s options include “resuming at much greater speed our nuclear activities.”

    One of those options is resuming levels of uranium enrichment now barred by the accord. Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said on April 21 that if a decision were made to resume enrichment to 20 percent uranium-235, it would only take Iran four days to begin doing so.

    Under the accord, Iran is limited to enrichment levels below 3.67 percent U-235, suitable for fueling electric power reactors. Uranium enriched to 20 percent is not suitable for nuclear weapons, but would put Tehran significantly closer to the 90 percent-enriched U-235 necessary for a bomb.

    Iran’s uranium enrichment to 20 percent and stockpiling of the material accelerated negotiations that led to the 2015 agreement curtailing Iran’s nuclear activities.

    Iran threatens to resume activities barred under the nuclear accord if Trump moves to reimpose sanctions.

    EU Prepares for U.S. Exit From Iran Deal

    April 2018
    By Kelsey Davenport

    While the United States continues discussions with European partners on a supplemental agreement to the Iran nuclear deal, the European Union is starting to prepare for the impact of President Donald Trump pulling out of the accord.

    Brian Hook, director for policy planning at the State Department, said on March 21 he had “constructive” meetings in Berlin with France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, the so-called E3 group, on a supplemental agreement that addresses what Trump regards as “flaws” in the nuclear deal.

    EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini addresses a press conference during a foreign ministers meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels on March 19, 2018. She said the EU is starting to prepare to “protect European interests” in case “decisions are taken elsewhere” not to abide by the Iran nuclear deal.  (Photo: JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)Trump threatened on Jan. 12 to withhold sanctions waivers in May, which would effectively put the United States in violation of the nuclear deal, unless the E3 and Congress act to address his concerns. (See ACT, March 2018.)

    Further, Trump in March shook up his national security team, putting into key positions two officials who have been outspoken in their rejection of the Iran deal. Trump selected CIA Director Mike Pompeo, subject to Senate confirmation, to replace fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and named former UN Ambassador John Bolton, who has advocated military action against Iran and North Korea, as White House national security adviser, succeeding fired Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster. The two ousted officials had clashed with the president over their views that the benefits of maintaining the nuclear agreement exceed any shortcomings.

    Trump’s threat has rattled key European allies, who have lobbied to keep the nuclear deal, and perhaps complicated anticipated negotiations with North Korea, which would have reason to doubt the reliability of any U.S. promises tied to denuclearization. Further, Iranian officials have said such action by Trump would mean their country is no longer bound by the nuclear deal, which could lead to a military confrontation if Iran resumes certain nuclear activities.

    Hook would not predict whether the United States and the E3 would conclude an agreement before the May 12 deadline, but he said conversations were focused on the sunset provisions, or elements of the deal that expire; Iran’s missile program; and stronger inspections. He said that the United States and the E3 are working to “narrow” the differences to see if an agreement can be reached.

    If an agreement is reached, Hook said it will be presented to Trump, who would make a decision on “whether he wants to remain in the deal or stop waiving sanctions.”

    Hook’s meetings with the E3 took place as Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, citing disagreements over the nuclear deal as one of the causes for his dismissal. Tillerson had urged Trump to remain in compliance with the nuclear deal.

    Although the EU did not participate in the talks between the E3 and the United States, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, speaking after the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting March 19, said that the EU is starting to prepare to “protect European interests” in case “decisions are taken elsewhere” not to abide by the deal.

    Mogherini did not provide details on what the EU’s preparations included, but if the United States reimposes sanctions on Iran, it would impact European entities doing legitimate business with Iran.

    Hook said the United States is also “engaged in contingency planning” for “any eventuality.”

    Mogherini, who headed the P5+1 group in negotiations with Iran on the nuclear deal, said the EU is prepared to address Iran’s ballistic missiles and activities in the region through dialogue and separately from the nuclear agreement. The E3 states are looking at sanctions to respond to Iran’s actions in these two areas, but Mogherini said the EU did not discuss any additional sanctions.

    The P5+1 and Iran met in March for the regular quarterly meeting of the Joint Commission, the body set up by the nuclear deal to oversee its implementation. The March 16 chair’s statement called for continued “effective implementation” of the accord by all parties and welcomed the most recent quarterly report of the International Atomic Energy Agency confirming Iran’s “continued adherence” to its nuclear commitments.

    During the Joint Commission meeting, Iran raised what it termed “breaches of obligations or delays” by the United States on sanctions relief. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi called attention to delays in licenses for passenger aircraft sales.

    The nuclear deal specifically references providing licenses for aircraft as part of the sanctions relief granted to Iran.

    Hook said on March 21 that he told Iran during the Joint Commission meeting that the United States would not issue licenses “at the expense of our national security” because Iran uses its commercial airlines to “move terrorists and weapons” around the Middle East. He said he urged Iran to make reforms to its civil aviation.

    Trump also called on Jan. 12 for Congress to pass legislation addressing the flaws he identified in the deal. Members of Congress, however, appear to be waiting to see what comes out of the negotiations with the E3 before acting. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on March 13 that Trump will have to make a decision to waive sanctions by May 12 “based on where the Europeans evolve to.”

    It is “solely the responsibility of the administration to work out something with our European allies,” Corker said. “It’s not Congress’ responsibility.”

    Members of Congress will likely have an opportunity to seek additional clarity from the Trump administration on its approach to the May 12 deadline during Pompeo’s confirmation hearing for secretary of state.

    Pompeo, who served in the House of Representatives during the 2015 congressional debate over the nuclear deal, opposes the agreement. In a July 2016 opinion essay for Fox News, he called for the United States to walk away from the agreement and argued that it has virtually guaranteed that Iran will have the freedom to build an arsenal of nuclear weapons when limitations expire.

    Trump’s threat to walk away rattles key allies.

    Europeans Cut Saudi Arms Sales

    March 2018
    By Jeff Abramson

    As Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman planned visits to Washington and other Western capitals, a number of European countries cut or confirmed prior cessation of arms sales to his country and others fighting in the controversial Yemen war.

    The actions by Germany, Norway, and the Walloon district of Belgium did not appear to alter the arms sales plans of France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, but did build on efforts by the European Parliament and others calling for an embargo on arms shipments to Saudi Arabia.

    Yemenis inspect the damage at the site of air strikes in the Houthi-held city of Saada on January 6. (Photo: STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)Since fighting began in 2015 between the Houthis, who now control Yemen’s capital, and a Saudi-led coalition backing ousted Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, the UN high commissioner for human rights has documented more than 15,000 civilian casualties and noted in February that hostilities were increasing, with all sides responsible for the high civilian toll. In January, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that more than three-quarters of the population, some 22 million people, were in need of humanitarian assistance.

    Recognizing the dire humanitarian situation, the European Parliament adopted resolutions in 2016 and 2017 calling for an arms embargo on the Saudis, citing in a Nov. 30 resolution that “dozens of Saudi-led airstrikes have been blamed for indiscriminately killing and wounding civilians in violation of the laws of war.” Although those resolutions were not binding, a number of European countries have announced policies that reflect concern about further arming Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners. A 2015 UN Security Council resolution already bans weapons supplies to the Houthis.

    Germany announced in January that it would no longer sell arms to parties fighting in Yemen, a policy change struck as part of efforts to form a new coalition government. Germany in 2016 authorized licenses for the export of “war weapons” to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates valued at 21 million and 13 million euros, respectively, according to a German government report. “Military equipment” licenses, which are broader than just weapons, were valued at 530 million and 169 million euros.

    On Jan. 3, Norway announced that it would no longer export arms and ammunition to the UAE, based on “a comprehensive assessment of the situation in Yemen and the increasing risks” associated with UAE military engagement there. The announcement also confirmed Norway’s pre-existing ban on export of arms and ammunition to Saudi Arabia.

    Also in January, Belgian media reported the Walloon region had stopped granting licenses to export weapons to the Saudi Ministry of Defense. Quoting Willy Borsus, minister-president of the Walloon government, the reports cited risks of Walloon weapons being turned against civilians in Yemen. Licenses to the Saudi Royal Guard and Saudi National Guard would continue because those groups do not conduct military operations outside the country, according to the accounts of Borsus’ statements. The Walloon region of Belgium, which is able to make independent decisions on arms licenses, is home to firearms manufacturer FN Herstal S.A. In the past, Saudi Arabia has accounted for a large share of Walloon arms sales.

    Belgium, Germany, and Norway are states-parties to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which includes provisions against selling weapons where they can be expected to be used to commit abuses. Advocates have been pushing treaty members to stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia, but states have generally resisted such direct conversation at their annual meetings. (See ACT, October 2017.)

    Preparatory committee meetings begin this month for the fourth ATT Conference of States-Parties, which will be held Aug. 20-24 in Tokyo. Whether greater attention will be paid to the topic remains to be seen.

    France and the UK, also treaty members, have continued to sell arms into the region and reportedly will be visited soon by the Saudi crown prince. He is expected to tout civil liberties and anti-corruption efforts, but arms sales discussions are likely. His UK visit reportedly was delayed to this month due to anticipated protests about his role in the Yemen war.

    The 32-year-old crown prince, who is a son of the current Saudi king and is his designated successor, is expected to visit Washington as soon as this month. The Trump administration has shown a continued willingness to arm Riyadh, most recently with the Jan. 17 notification of a potential $500 million sale to support Saudi Arabia’s Patriot missile defense system. The United States is an ATT signatory.

    The Saudis are criticized for the number of civilian casualties in Yemen war.


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