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– John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
January 19, 2011

Iran and Foreign Enrichment: A Troubled Model

Oliver Meier

In an attempt to resolve the Iranian nuclear crisis, Russia has proposed a compromise between Iran and the United States and its European allies. To meet Iranian concerns, it has suggested that Tehran be allowed to retain some elements of the nuclear fuel cycle on its territory. At the same time, to assuage the concerns of the United States and the European Union, Moscow has suggested that Iran renounce enrichment—the most sensitive element of the fuel cycle—and participate in a joint venture to enrich uranium on Russian soil. So far, Iran has been sending mixed signals in response to the second part of the offer. Behind Iran’s reluctance may lie an often overlooked chapter in nuclear history: Iran’s experience with Eurodif, a multinational enrichment facility based in France.

Eurodif was founded in 1973 as a joint venture between then-five participating partners: Belgium, France, Iran, Italy, and Spain. The idea was to place an enrichment facility in one country (France) and deliver the products (enriched uranium) to the co-financing partners, which would buy all their enrichment services from Eurodif. From a nonproliferation perspective, the model has distinct advantages. Because the financial partners do not participate in the actual operation of the plant, risks of diversion of technology or fissile materials are minimized. Co-ownership of the plant provides strong assurances of supply. Because France is a nuclear-weapon state, diversion of material to support a clandestine nuclear weapons program is not an issue.

Even though Eurodif is a multinational joint venture, its operation is governed solely by French national legislation. The only other multinational enrichment facility, Urenco, which is based in the Netherlands, operates on the basis of an international agreement among Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. The Urenco arrangement avoids one disadvantage of the Eurodif model: the unequal status of partners participating in the consortium. Because access to enrichment technology is limited to the host state, other Eurodif partners are denied critical information. Thus, it may be difficult for them to make informed decisions about the operation of the plant, such as investments in new technologies.

Since its inception, Eurodif has gone beyond supplying its participating partners with low-enriched fuel for energy production and now exports such fuel to almost 100 reactors worldwide. Eurodif’s provision of 8 million separative work units (SWU) of enrichment services makes it one of the world’s four largest such organizations. Unlike Urenco, Eurodif is not involved in the development of enrichment technology. In the future, both enterprises will move closer together. On Nov. 24, 2003, Areva, the French government-owned company that runs Eurodif, acquired a 50 percent equity interest in Enrichment Technology Co., which owns Urenco.

The biggest hurdle to making Eurodif the prototype for a future extraterritorial Iranian enrichment facility, however, is the tangled history of Iran’s involvement with the multinational venture. In 1974, Iran’s ruler, Shah Reza Pahlavi, lent $1 billion to the French Atomic Energy Commission to build the Eurodif plant. The loan would have entitled Iran to buy 10 percent of enriched uranium produced by Eurodif. In 1977, Iran paid another $180 million for future enrichment services by Eurodif. After Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979—ironically, the year Eurodif began its operation— Tehran cancelled its agreement with Eurodif and halted its payments for enriched-uranium deliveries because Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini initially was not interested in nuclear power. Eurodif never delivered any nuclear fuel to Iran.

A bitter legal dispute followed, during which time Iran demanded repayment of its original $1 billion loan, plus interest. France argued that Iran owed it payments beyond the $180 million for enrichment services ordered by the shah but which were subsequently cancelled. The legal suit was settled only at the end of 1991. Iran was reimbursed a total of $1.6 billion for its original 1974 loan plus interest, and French firms were compensated for their losses, partly through an export insurance company. Iran remained an indirect shareholder through Sofidif, a French-Iranian consortium that has a 25 percent interest in Eurodif.

Ironically, the settlement came just as Iran had changed its position vis-à-vis Eurodif and demanded delivery of enriched uranium based on the old contract. Paris maintained that the contract had expired in 1990. By that time, Iran was already subject to Western sanctions. France refused to deliver the fuel even though Tehran still held an indirect share in Eurodif. Iran views this refusal as proof of the unreliability of outside nuclear supplies and uses the Eurodif episode to argue its case for achieving energy independence by supplying all of the elements of the nuclear fuel cycle itself.


Russia Joins Diplomatic Push on Iran

Paul Kerr

A Nov. 18 report from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei to the agency’s Board of Governors indicated that Iran has only partially complied with a September board resolution that found Tehran in “non-compliance” with its agency safeguards agreement. But the board took no action at its Nov. 24 meeting. Instead, the United States is continuing to support European and Russian diplomatic efforts to persuade Iran to resume negotiations with France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

With U.S. and European support, Moscow also has made Iran a potentially face-saving offer tied to a resumption of negotiations. The proposal would allow Iran to operate a uranium-conversion facility permanently if Tehran renounces the ability to enrich uranium on its own territory.

European-Iranian talks, which were designed to resolve concerns about Iran’s nuclear fuel programs, began in December 2004 but broke down in August when Iran restarted its uranium-conversion facility. Iran had agreed to suspend such operations for the duration of the negotiations. (See ACT, November 2005.)

A Department of State official and a Western diplomat told Arms Control Today Nov. 21 that the Europeans want to give such diplomacy a chance to succeed before moving forward with a referral to the UN Security Council. They also agreed that even an Iranian refusal to negotiate would help build international support for such a referral and for more effective Security Council action because Tehran would be seen as unwilling to compromise.

Under the IAEA statute, the board is required to notify the Security Council if a member state is found in noncompliance with its agency safeguards agreement. Such agreements, required under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), allow the agency to monitor NPT states-parties’ declared civilian nuclear activities to ensure that they are not diverted to military purposes. The Security Council may then take action against the offending state.

In September the board found that Iran had not complied with its safeguards agreement but did not specify when or under what circumstances it would refer the matter to the Security Council. State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack told reporters Nov. 21 that Washington believes Tehran “should be referred to the Security Council, but we will reserve the right to seek that action at the time of our choosing.”

Speaking to a Vienna audience Nov. 17, U.S. Permanent Representative to the IAEA Gregory Schulte reiterated the U.S. view that the council would “reinforce” the agency’s efforts, perhaps by giving the IAEA “enhanced” investigative authority. The IAEA has determined that Iran violated its safeguards agreement by conducting clandestine work on several nuclear programs. The agency is still attempting to resolve a number of questions about Tehran’s nuclear activities, especially its gas centrifuge-based uranium-enrichment program. (See ACT, October 2005.) Uranium enrichment can produce low-enriched uranium (LEU), used as fuel in civilian nuclear reactors, or highly enriched uranium (HEU), which can be used as fissile material for nuclear weapons.

Gas centrifuges enrich uranium by spinning uranium hexafluoride gas at very high speeds in order to increase the concentration of the uranium-235 isotope. Uranium-conversion facilities convert lightly processed uranium ore, or “yellowcake,” into several compounds, including uranium hexafluoride. Under the NPT, Iran is permitted to operate uranium-enrichment facilities under IAEA safeguards, but the United States and the Europeans are concerned that Iranian expertise gained from operating enrichment facilities could support a nuclear weapons program.

Diplomacy Continues

The three European governments say that they will not resume negotiations unless Iran suspends operations at its conversion facility, but both the State Department official and Western diplomat said that the Europeans are willing to have discussions with Iran about resuming negotiations. These talks would likely not be conditioned on Iran suspending conversion.

Iranian officials told the Europeans earlier this month that they would engage in talks, but Tehran has shown no sign that it will stop converting uranium. According to ElBaradei’s report, Iran resumed converting yellowcake Nov. 16 after stopping the facility for a short maintenance period.

According to the State Department official, Iran’s European interlocutors have outlined a new diplomatic approach in a paper circulated to other countries. Under this approach, Iran would be allowed to produce uranium hexafluoride but would have to forswear uranium enrichment on its territory. In return, Iran would receive the economic, technical, and security incentives described in a detailed proposal that the Europeans presented in August. Iran has shown no sign of having seriously considered the proposal.

Under the Europeans’ new approach, Iran would be required to limit its conversion activities to only its domestic uranium reserves and export any converted nuclear material, the official said. This provision is apparently designed to prevent Iran from augmenting its limited indigenous uranium reserves, thus constraining Iran’s nuclear aspirations to some extent. The United States estimates that these reserves are sufficient to produce 250-300 nuclear weapons. (See ACT, September 2005.)

Permitting Iran to produce uranium hexafluoride is a change from the previous U.S. and European policy of opposing any Iranian conversion capabilities. The Western diplomat explained that the Europeans changed their position because the previous one “had not been getting us anywhere.”

As for Washington, the State Department official said that the Europeans have persuaded Bush administration officials that, by demonstrating a good-faith diplomatic effort on their part to resolve the matter outside the Security Council, the compromise would aid efforts to increase international pressure on Tehran to cooperate. The Europeans also argued that, in the event that Tehran makes a genuine decision to forswear enrichment, its conversion program will then be unnecessary and Iran will end it for pragmatic reasons.

Rallying additional international support, especially from Russia and China, is another key component of the U.S.-European diplomatic strategy. Both countries still oppose referring Iran’s case to the Security Council. Their support is considered to be crucial because, as permanent members of the Security Council, either can veto a council resolution.

Indeed, the United States and Europeans are supporting Russian diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis partly because they believe that Russia will support a referral if those efforts fail.

Both the Western diplomat and the State Department official confirmed press reports that Russian Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov presented a proposal to the Iranians earlier in the month that dovetails with the European approach. The proposal is apparently conditioned on Tehran resuming negotiations with the Europeans and would give Tehran part-ownership of a centrifuge plant located in Russia that would enrich Iranian-produced uranium hexafluoride. (See ACT, November 2005.) Iran would not have access to the centrifuges, the State Department official said.

National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley expressed explicit U.S. support for Moscow’s diplomacy Nov. 18, calling the Russian proposal “a good avenue to explore.” Although Iranian officials have been cool to the idea, Hadley stated that it has not yet been rejected.

Despite these diplomatic efforts, the United States and the Europeans may be running out of patience. Both Schulte and the European Union (EU) issued statements to the board indicating that Iran only has a limited time to comply with the September resolution. Neither statement specified a date, however.

Report Details

ElBaradei’s report provides a mixed picture of Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA board’s September resolution.

The resolution called on Tehran to suspend its conversion efforts, as well as provide agency inspectors with procurement documents, interviews with Iranian officials, and access to two sites where Iran is suspected of conducting undeclared nuclear weapons-related activities. These steps are not required by Iran’s safeguards agreement, but the IAEA believes them necessary for developing a complete history of Iran’s nuclear efforts.

ElBaradei told the board Sept. 24 that “[c]larification of these issues is overdue.”

According to the report, Iran has provided a considerable amount of additional information related to its P-1 centrifuge program but comparatively little with respect to other outstanding issues, such as the nature of Tehran’s program based on more-advanced P-2 centrifuges. Iran also has not yet allowed the IAEA access to all of the sites the agency has asked to visit.

Both U.S. and IAEA officials have said previously that Iran’s failure to account fully for its centrifuge procurement activities may indicate that the government has pursued undisclosed centrifuge programs.

Iran also has failed to take other steps called for by the September resolution, such as reconsidering its ongoing construction of a 40-megawatt heavy-water reactor. Iran claims the reactor is intended for peaceful purposes, but the United States argues that Iran intends to use it to produce plutonium.

Uranium-Enrichment Program

During a series of meetings with the IAEA held in October and November, Iran gave the agency additional documents that Tehran said came from a nuclear procurement network run by Abdul Qadeer Khan, who helped found Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program. Iran also allowed the agency to interview two unnamed Iranian officials.

Iran had previously admitted to receiving centrifuge designs and related components from the Khan network. (See ACT, October 2005.) According to the report, the recently submitted documentation related to offers it received from foreign intermediaries in 1987 and around 1994.

Many of the new documents related to the 1987 offer date from “from the late 1970s and early to mid-1980s,” the report says. They include drawings of P-1 centrifuge components, technical specifications related to assembling centrifuges and manufacturing related components, and drawings for a 2,000-centrifuge plant.

Iran also has provided information about its late 1980s and early 1990s procurement efforts, as well as centrifuge components it obtained in the mid-1990s. The report says that the information about the earlier efforts “seems to be consistent with Iran’s declarations” of what it had procured in the late 1980s and early 1990s. However, it draws no conclusion about the materials Iran obtained in the mid-1990s.

By comparison, Iran has apparently provided little new information about its P-2 centrifuge program. According to the report, the agency is assessing documentation that Iran has provided since September indicating that an Iranian contractor who had worked on the P-2 program obtained related materials that it had apparently not disclosed to the IAEA.

ElBaradei’s report says that the agency remains concerned that Iran has conducted undisclosed work on the project. The IAEA has requested additional documentation regarding both programs.

The report also says that the agency is still investigating the origin of some LEU particles found in Iran by IAEA inspectors. Iran has admitted to enriching uranium to very low levels, but the uncertainty regarding these LEU particles suggested that Iran may have conducted additional centrifuge experiments that it concealed from the IAEA.

According to the report, environmental samples taken from a location in an unnamed country where centrifuge components from the Khan network were stored “did not indicate any traces of nuclear material.” That country is known to be the United Arab Emirates.

Although the Western diplomat said these findings indicate that the particles did not come from these components, the State Department official said that Washington is almost certain that, based on an examination of uranium samples taken from Iranian facilities and Pakistani centrifuge components, all the LEU particles in question originated in Pakistan.

Arms Control Today reported in October that, for all practical purposes, the investigation has resolved similar concerns about HEU particles found in Iran.


According to the report, Iran has turned over a document detailing the “procedural requirements” for reducing uranium hexafluoride to “metal in small quantities.” The document also discussed the “casting and machining of enriched, natural and depleted uranium metal into hemispherical forms.”

Iran claims that the document had been “provided on the initiative of the procurement network,” rather than at Iran’s request.

This revelation has generated additional concern about Iran’s nuclear program because shaping uranium in such a fashion is used in developing explosive cores of nuclear weapons. According to the EU statement to the board, “Such a process has no application other than the production of nuclear warheads.”

The Western diplomat said that the document is not a “smoking gun” but does constitute “potential evidence of weaponization.”

Whether the document is evidence of a previously unknown Iranian capability to develop nuclear weapons is unclear. Iran has previously acknowledged that it was offered equipment for casting uranium but maintains that it has never received any such equipment.

Transparency Visits

After months of agency requests, Iran granted IAEA inspectors access to Iran’s Parchin military complex Nov. 1. The visit was the inspectors’ first since January. According to the report, the inspectors “did not observe any unusual activities in the buildings visited,” but the IAEA is awaiting the results of environmental samples taken during the visit before assessing whether Iran conducted any nuclear activities there.

The United States and the IAEA have both expressed concern that Iran has been testing conventional high explosives at Parchin for use in an implosion-type nuclear weapon. In such weapons, conventional charges compress a core of fissile material in order to start a nuclear chain reaction. (See ACT, October 2004.)

The report also says that the IAEA wishes to “undertake additional visits” to the site but does not say why. However, the State Department official said that the agency may still have “suspicions” about Iranian activities at the site. The official also confirmed a Nov. 18 Agence France Presse report that the inspectors saw a high-speed camera during their visit. Such cameras can be used to monitor experiments with high explosives, such as those used in an implosion-type nuclear weapon.

Iran has still not cooperated with the IAEA’s investigation of a physics research center that was operating at a site called Lavizan-Shian between 1989 and 1998, the report says. (See ACT, April 2005.)


Congress Amends Iran Nonproliferation Act

William Huntington

Congress in November amended the 2000 Iran Nonproliferation Act and renamed it the “Iran and Syria Nonproliferation Act.”

The new measure would direct the president to impose additional sanctions against governments and individuals responsible for transferring missile, weapons of mass destruction, and advanced conventional weapons technologies to Syria, now placing transfers to that country on par with transfers to Iran. It would also broaden the scope of the sanctions to cover exports from those countries in addition to their imports and put additional pressure on governments involved in this trade. Whereas the past legislation only held foreign governmental entities liable under the sanctions provisions if they were “operating as a business enterprise,” foreign governments themselves will be liable under the new bill.

The act was amended to remove a clause which could have caused U.S. astronauts to lose access to the International Space Station. That clause prohibits the United States from making space station-related payments to Russia without a presidential certification of Russia’s nonproliferation compliance vis-à-vis Iran. But with the space shuttle program plagued by uncertainty, NASA wanted to retain the ability to use Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft for transportation to and from the space station.

House International Relations Committee Chairman Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) and ranking member Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) chose to add Syria to the legislation when it took up the legislation in October, a congressional source told Arms Control Today. “If the Bush administration was going to weaken an important nonproliferation law, they thought it best to take the same opportunity to strengthen and extend the same nonproliferation law,” this source said. The original Senate version, which was approved Sept. 21, did not contain the Syria provision. President George W. Bush signed the bill into law Nov. 22.

When Congress enacted the law in 2000, it targeted Russia and the Russian Space Agency because of persistent reports that Russia was violating the Missile Technology Control Regime and helping Iran develop ballistic missiles, as well as concern over Russia’s construction of Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactor. The new bill waives restrictions on payments to Russia for space station-related services, including use of the Soyuz. The administration originally requested Congress permanently strike the purchase restrictions, but the new law only allows an exemption from the restrictions through the end of 2011.


IAEA Unlikely to Refer Iran to Security Council

Paul Kerr

On Nov. 24, following an anticipated report from Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors is set to evaluate Iran’s cooperation with a Sept. 24 resolution that found Tehran in “non-compliance” with its agency safeguards agreement. Although Iran seems unlikely to comply with all of the resolution’s demands, there seems to be little chance that the board will refer the matter to the UN Security Council.

Under the IAEA statute, the board is required to notify the Security Council if a state-party to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) is found in noncompliance with its agency safeguards agreement. Such agreements allow the agency to monitor NPT states-parties’ declared civilian nuclear activities to ensure that they are not diverted to military purposes.

However, the September resolution does not specify when or under what circumstances such a referral will take place. Iran violated its safeguards agreement by conducting clandestine work on several nuclear programs and has yet to resolve a number of questions, especially with regard to its gas centrifuge-based uranium-enrichment program. (See ACT, October 2005.) Uranium enrichment can produce both fuel for civilian nuclear reactors or fissile material for nuclear weapons.

IAEA board decisions are usually made by consensus, but a Department of State official told Arms Control Today Oct. 17 that Washington anticipates that the board would have to vote on any future referral decision because of the contentious nature of the Iran dispute.

Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Robert Joseph told an academic audience Oct. 21 that, after receiving such a referral, the council could seek to “reinforce” the IAEA’s efforts, perhaps by calling on Iran to cooperate with the agency and giving the IAEA “new, needed authority to investigate all Iranian weaponization efforts.”

Still, a State Department source told Arms Control Today Oct. 28 that Iran will likely avoid Security Council referral at this month’s board meeting by providing the IAEA with “at least superficial cooperation.” The official would not describe the extent of Iran’s cooperation, but Reuters and the Associated Press reported Oct. 20 that Iran gave the IAEA some documents and allowed agency inspectors to interview a government official.

The September resolution calls on Iran to “implement transparency measures,” such as providing IAEA inspectors with procurement documents and access to certain Iranian officials. These steps are not required by Iran’s safeguards agreement, but the agency believes them necessary for developing a complete history of Iran’s nuclear efforts.

Stalled Diplomacy, Possible Compromises

The September resolution also urges Iran to suspend operating its uranium-conversion facility near Isfahan and resume talks with France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The two sides had been engaged in negotiations since November 2004 to resolve concerns about Tehran’s nuclear program. Iran agreed at that time to suspend operations at the Isfahan facility for the duration of the negotiations, but the talks broke down when Iran restarted the facility in August.

Tehran has said that it is willing to return to the bargaining table but will not suspend the facility’s operation. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Oct. 23 that Iran would continue its nuclear efforts until its “fuel cycle becomes operational.”

Uranium-conversion facilities convert lightly processed uranium ore into several uranium compounds, including uranium hexafluoride, which is the feedstock for gas centrifuges. Iran is permitted to operate uranium-enrichment facilities under IAEA safeguards, but both the United States and the Europeans are concerned that Iranian expertise gained from operating enrichment facilities will support a nuclear weapons program.

The Europeans still want Iran to suspend conversion operations and respond to their August proposal, which laid out incentives aimed at persuading Iran to cease its enrichment program permanently. (See ACT, September 2005.)

But the State Department official told Arms Control Today that the Europeans are now exploring solutions that would allow Tehran to keep a limited uranium-conversion capability, perhaps by permitting Iran to produce some uranium compounds but not uranium hexafluoride.

A Western diplomat asked about this possible compromise said that the Europeans’ formal position is that Iran should give up its nuclear fuel programs. But a “credible” proposal allowing Iran to retain a residual conversion capability would not be “ruled out automatically,” the diplomat admitted.

In an effort to strengthen ongoing multilateral diplomacy, the United States and Europeans have increasingly focused on efforts to persuade Russia, who currently opposes a Security Council referral, to change its position. As a permanent member of that body, Russia can veto any Security Council action. Moscow is also widely believed to have considerable influence on Tehran.

Russia and China—another veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council—abstained from voting for the September resolution. Asked about Chinese opposition to a council referral, the State Department official indicated that U.S. officials believe Beijing would moderate its position if Russia does so.

At a press conference with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters Oct. 15 that the IAEA should “do everything possible” to resolve concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program before referring the matter to the Security Council. But he also emphasized “the necessity” for Tehran to cooperate with the IAEA.

The United States is encouraging Russia to propose creative solutions to facilitate the Europeans’ diplomacy, although there is no indication that Russia will join the talks.

For example, Moscow has proposed that Iran share ownership of a uranium-enrichment plant located in Russia, the State Department official said. Designed to address Iran’s claim that it cannot rely on outside nuclear fuel suppliers, this proposal could be combined with Moscow’s months-old proposal to enrich Iranian uranium in Russia. It would also satisfy Washington’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program, the official added. Lavrov mentioned the joint-ownership proposal to his Iranian counterpart during a recent meeting, and Moscow is awaiting Iran’s reaction.

Washington anticipates that Iran will reject the offer, the State Department official said, but argued that such a decision would demonstrate Iran’s lack of interest in compromise and make Russia more likely to support the U.S. position.

South Africa has also reportedly offered its own compromise that would allow Iran to convert South African uranium to uranium hexafluoride. The gas would then be sent back to the country. South African embassy and foreign ministry officials did not respond to requests for further details.

The Western diplomat, however, said that no country has approached the Europeans with a proposal. In fact, no government is performing an intermediary role between the two sides, the diplomat said.

Iran Adrift?

Tehran’s more aggressive diplomatic stance since Ahmadinejad’s June election has drawn criticism from some prominent Iranian figures, such as former presidential candidate and current head of Iran’s Expediency Council, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who have called for a more moderate approach.

But, whether Iran’s policies will change remains unclear. Iran had shown signs of moderation by its apparent cooperation with the IAEA and its failure to carry out recent threats to resume work on its other enrichment-related facilities. However, Ahmadinejad’s Oct. 26 call for the destruction of Israel provoked widespread international condemnation and cast further doubt on Tehran’s ability and desire to conduct cooperative diplomacy.

Courting the NAM

To try to win greater support for its preferred hard-line position on Iran at the IAEA, Washington has also lately made an effort to reach out to developing countries, such as those belonging to the Nonaligned Movement (NAM).

These efforts, such as a September statement from U.S. Ambassador Gregory Schulte that emphasized U.S. support for peaceful nuclear energy, are meant to counter Iran’s efforts to gain support among developing countries. Iran has portrayed U.S. and European nuclear diplomacy as an attempt to deny such countries access to peaceful nuclear technology.

NAM countries have generally shown some sympathy to Iran at past board meetings and frequently display an ambivalence regarding nonproliferation efforts in general. Although these governments express concern about the spread of nuclear weapons, they also fault the NPT nuclear-weapon states, such as the United States, for lagging in their disarmament commitments under the treaty.

The State Department official and the Western diplomat differed as to the extent to which Iran’s argument has been effective. Indeed, the September vote tally reflects a degree of disunity within the NAM countries. All told, 22 board members voted for the September resolution, with 12 abstentions and Venezuela casting the only negative vote. Aside from Venezuela, all NAM board members either supported the resolution or abstained from voting. But the board has subsequently added some new members less favorable to the United States: Belarus, Cuba and Syria.

Demonstrating the situation’s complexity, U.S. officials are still lobbying India to support a future Security Council referral. New Delhi voted for the September resolution, but issued a statement later that day which disputed the resolution’s key noncompliance finding.

A source from NAM chair Malaysia told Arms Control Today Oct. 19 that the NAM wants Iran to resolve its outstanding issues with the IAEA but is concerned that removing the issue from the agency at this time would be “counterproductive” and could damage the IAEA’s integrity. However, the source indicated that the NAM could eventually support a Security Council referral if Iran persists in its failure to cooperate fully with the agency.

Apparently referring to Washington’s disregard for UN weapons inspectors’ findings prior to the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the source emphasized that the NAM would base its Iran assessments on reports from the IAEA rather than an “individual country.”


IAEA Iran Vote Tally

Paul Kerr

Below is how the then-members of the IAEA Board of Governors voted on a Sept. 24 resolution that said Iran was in “non-compliance” with its safeguards agreement. The resolution was adopted with 22 board members voting for it, 1 against, and 12 abstaining. Some of the board members have subsequently changed.

For Resolution
Republic of Korea
United Kingdom and
Northern Ireland
United States

Against Resolution

Russian Federation
South Africa
Sri Lanka


Agency Report Offers Mixed View on Iran

Paul Kerr

Pressed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors to assess Iran’s cooperation with a three-year-old agency investigation, Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei delivered a mixed assessment.

ElBaradei noted in a Sept. 2 report to the board that Tehran has cooperated by, for example, granting agency inspectors required access to Iranian nuclear-related facilities. But the report also pointed out that Iran has persistently lagged in providing the agency with information regarding the country’s nuclear activities.

ElBaradei had drafted the report at the board’s request after Iran in August ended its suspension of uranium-conversion activities at a facility near Isfahan. (See ACT, September 2005.) By doing so, Tehran violated a political agreement with France, Germany, and the United Kingdom to suspend its uranium-enrichment program while the two sides engaged in negotiations.

ElBaradei said that the IAEA’s ability to “verify the correctness and completeness” of Iran’s statements regarding its nuclear program “will be restricted” if Tehran does not take certain measures, such as providing the agency with documents and access to certain suspect facilities, beyond those legally required by the agency.

Indeed, the report provided few indications that the agency is significantly closer to resolving key outstanding issues regarding Tehran’s nuclear activities, particularly its gas centrifuge-based uranium-enrichment program. Although the report did not contain any evidence of previously unknown Iranian nuclear activities or of Iranian use of nuclear material for military purposes, it nevertheless stated that the IAEA is “still not in a position to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran.”

Uranium-conversion facilities convert lightly processed uranium ore known as yellowcake into several uranium compounds, including uranium hexafluoride. Centrifuges enrich uranium by spinning uranium hexafluoride gas at very high speeds in order to increase the concentration of the uranium-235 isotope. This process can produce either low-enriched uranium (LEU) for civilian nuclear reactor fuel or highly enriched uranium (HEU), which can be used as fissile material in nuclear weapons.

According to the report, Iran has not yet produced any uranium tetrafluoride—the precursor compound for uranium hexafluoride—from the batch of yellowcake that it began to feed into the facility Aug. 8. However, Iran did produce 6,800 kilograms of uranium hexafluoride from 8,500 kilograms of uranium tetrafluoride that it had previously produced and placed under IAEA seal. A diplomatic source in Vienna close to the IAEA, however, told Arms Control Today that Iran continues to have trouble producing uranium hexafluoride suitable for enrichment.

The nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) permits states-parties to operate uranium-conversion facilities as long as they are monitored by the agency to ensure that they are not diverted to military use. The agency continues to monitor the Isfahan facility under such safeguards.

A Key Confirmation

The report noted that the IAEA has largely been able to resolve one outstanding issue concerning Tehran’s centrifuge program. The agency has determined that “most” HEU particles found in Iran by agency inspectors came from centrifuge components imported secretly from Pakistan via a proliferation network run by former Pakistani nuclear official Abdul Qadeer Khan.

The result did not come as a surprise. About a year ago, ElBaradei reported that the agency had come to similar preliminary conclusions. Moreover, the report cautioned that “it is not possible at this time…to establish a definite conclusion” regarding the origin of other HEU and LEU particles found in Iran. The report did not elaborate but said that more information about Iran’s centrifuge programs “could greatly contribute to the resolution” of these questions. The origin of the enriched uranium particles has long been a matter of interest because their presence suggests that Iran had either imported or produced undeclared enriched uranium. Iran has only admitted to enriching uranium to very low levels. However, the Vienna diplomat and a Department of State source said that, for all practical purposes, only the LEU issue remains unresolved. The U.S. official said that undeclared Iranian-produced LEU would likely only reveal previously concealed experiments on Tehran’s P-1 centrifuges, rather than more-advanced P-2 models.

The IAEA’s investigation of Iran’s efforts to obtain P-1 technology seems to be making less progress. Despite the agency’s requests, Iran has provided little additional information about its dealings with foreign intermediaries who provided Iran with centrifuge designs and related components in 1987 and again “around 1994.” Iran also has failed to provide the agency with adequate documentation of shipments of enrichment-related equipment that the country received during the mid-1990s.

Iran has explained its lack of relevant documentation by asserting that the country kept few records of such transactions at the time they were conducted. The report, however, seemed to contest this claim, stating that the IAEA’s investigation into the Khan network “indicates that Iran should have additional supporting documentation that could be useful.”

Both U.S. and IAEA officials have said that Iran’s failure to account fully for its centrifuge procurement activities may indicate that the government has pursued undisclosed centrifuge programs. U.S. officials have repeatedly suggested that the Iranian military is involved in the enrichment program.

Tehran also has not provided any further information about its more-advanced P-2 centrifuge program, the report said. The agency has long been concerned that Iran has conducted undisclosed work on such a centrifuge.

Interestingly, the IAEA also has asked Tehran for the first time “to provide additional details” about the government’s decision to begin its enrichment program in 1985, as well as the program’s progress through 1987. The report did not elaborate, but former IAEA Deputy Director General Pierre Goldschmidt seemed to indicate in a Sept.14 New York Times op-ed that the timing of Iran’s decision to begin the program suggests that Tehran planned to produce nuclear weapons.

“Iran has not provided the requested evidence on why its leadership decided in 1985, in the middle of the war against Iraq, to pursue a uranium-enrichment program when there was no short- or medium-term need to fuel any electrical nuclear power plant,” Goldschmidt wrote.

Other Issues

ElBaradei’s report also provided additional details about Iran’s operation of its Gchine uranium mine. The IAEA is continuing to investigate the “complex arrangements governing the past and current administration” of the mine and an associated plant to process uranium ore. Echoing a June oral report from Goldschmidt, the report stated that the agency is investigating why Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization conducted no work at the Gchine mine between 1993 and 2000 but worked instead at a less promising mine. Iranian officials have told the IAEA that the organization was conducting laboratory experiments on ore from the Gchine mine during that time.

Additionally, the report raised questions about an inexperienced Iranian company’s success in constructing a uranium-ore processing plant at the Gchine mine less than two years after Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization resumed operations there, apparently suggesting that another organization might have previously conducted still-undisclosed work on the project.

U.S. and European officials have told Arms Control Today that the lack of clarity surrounding the mine’s operation suggests that Iran’s military or an affiliated organization might have been working at the mine in an effort to obtain an independent uranium source.

On the other hand, ElBaradei’s report appears to have resolved questions over whether Iran has obtained beryllium, saying its efforts to do so had failed. U.S. officials have expressed concern that, if Tehran acquired beryllium, it could combine it with polonium, a radioisotope with limited civilian applications that Iran has attempted to produce to trigger a nuclear chain reaction in certain types of nuclear weapons. U.S. officials had indicated that the IAEA might have information that Iran had already obtained the material.

U.S. Ambassador Jackie Sanders said before the IAEA board last November that, although Iranian officials have claimed in the past that Iran never procured or worked with beryllium, “[w]e wonder whether the IAEA has found evidence suggesting otherwise.”

Additionally, the IAEA is still asking Iran to allow further inspections at two sites where Iran is suspected of having either worked with nuclear material or performing nuclear weapons-related work. Although agency inspectors have previously visited those sites, Iran has not allowed them to do so recently. Absent evidence that Tehran is conducting nuclear activities at these sites, the IAEA has limited authority to visit them because the sites are not subject to agency safeguards.


IAEA Cites Iran on Safeguards Failures

Paul Kerr

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors adopted a resolution Sept. 24 finding Iran in “non-compliance” with its agency safeguards agreement. The resolution sets the stage for the board to refer the Iranian nuclear issue to the UN Security Council but does not specify when or under what circumstances such a referral would take place.

Iran is being given another opportunity to address the “concerns of the IAEA” regarding Tehran’s nuclear programs, said British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

The 35-member board adopted the resolution by a vote of 22-1, with 12 abstentions. Venezuela cast the sole negative vote. Russia and China, two of the five veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council, were among those who abstained. The mere fact that the board voted on the resolution underscored the issue’s contentiousness. Such resolutions are usually adopted by consensus, with voting a course of last resort.

Under the IAEA statute, the board is required to notify the Security Council if a state-party to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) is found in noncompliance with its agency safeguards agreement. Such agreements allow the IAEA to monitor NPT states-parties’ declared civilian nuclear activities to ensure that they are not diverted to military purposes.

IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei first reported more than two years ago that Iran had conducted clandestine nuclear activities in violation of its safeguards agreement. He reported Sept. 2 that a number of outstanding questions concerning Iran’s nuclear programs, particularly its gas centrifuge-based uranium-enrichment program, still leave the IAEA unable to conclude that “there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran” (see page 30).

During the course of the IAEA’s recent diplomacy with Iran, the United States has consistently attempted to persuade the board to refer the matter to the Security Council. Until recently, however, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom had withheld their support while engaged in negotiations with Tehran. Iran suspended the operation of its enrichment-related facilities, which it would otherwise have been permitted to operate under IAEA safeguards. The Europeans had hoped that a series of incentives would ultimately persuade Iran to cease its enrichment program.

When Iran resumed operations in August at its uranium-conversion facility, however, the talks broke down and the Europeans joined the U.S. push for a Security Council referral. (See ACT, September 2005.) Uranium-conversion facilities convert lightly processed uranium ore into feedstock for gas centrifuges, which can then produce fuel for civilian nuclear reactors or fissile material for nuclear weapons.

The Vote

Still, the Sept. 24 vote came after several days of intensive diplomacy. The three European countries, backed by the United States, initially tried to persuade the board to adopt a resolution that would have referred Tehran to the council immediately, but the measure proved too controversial.

Straw said that the initial draft resolution was modified to accommodate the “concerns of our international partners” who wanted more time for other diplomatic efforts to succeed.

Russia and China opposed a referral, arguing that the issue can be resolved within the IAEA. Russia’s Foreign Ministry urged Iran Sept. 25 to “actively cooperate with the IAEA” to resolve the agency’s concerns “as soon as possible.”

Except for Venezuela, all board members belonging to the Nonaligned Movement, which represents the interests of developing countries, either supported the resolution or abstained from voting—a fact a Department of State official termed “significant.” These countries have generally been more sympathetic to Iran at past board meetings.

ElBaradei told reporters Sept. 24 that he was “encouraged” that the resolution provides an opportunity for continued diplomacy, adding that “the ball now is with Iran to continue to co-operate with the agency as early as possible.”

The Resolution

The resolution states that Iran’s safeguards violations “constitute non-compliance in the context” of the IAEA statute, adding that Iran’s past activities, as well as the lack of “confidence that Iran’s nuclear [program] is exclusively for peaceful purposes have given rise to questions that are within the competence of the Security Council.”

Reiterating an Aug. 11 demand, the resolution urges Iran to suspend operation of its conversion facility. It also repeats several past board requests for Iran to take other steps to demonstrate its peaceful intentions. Like the suspension, these steps are not required by Iran’s safeguards agreement.

For example, the resolution calls on Iran to ratify its additional protocol to its safeguards agreement. In December 2003, Iran signed the protocol, which augments the IAEA’s authority to uncover secret nuclear activities, and has continued to act as if it is in force. To date, the Iranian Majlis (parliament) has not ratified it.

The resolution also reiterates past calls for Iran to “reconsider” its construction of a 40-megawatt heavy-water nuclear reactor. Although Iran claims the reactor is for peaceful purposes, the United States believes Tehran intends to separate plutonium—another fissile material—from the irradiated reactor fuel. (See ACT, April 2005.) According to a recent unclassified U.S. presentation, the completed reactor would be capable of producing enough plutonium for one to three nuclear weapons per year.

Iran has no known facilities for separating plutonium. But it has conducted some separation experiments, which the IAEA is still investigating. (See ACT, July/August 2005.)

The resolution also calls on Iran to “implement transparency measures,” such as providing inspectors with procurement documents and access to non-nuclear facilities.

ElBaradei told the board Sept. 19 that Iran is “a special verification case” and such measures are a “prerequisite for the agency to be able to reconstruct the history and nature of all aspects of Iran’s past nuclear activities.”

Iran’s Reaction

Iranian officials indicated that the government would not comply with the resolution’s demands, although their reactions were somewhat mixed and Tehran’s policy appears to be in flux.

A Sept. 26 Foreign Ministry statement indicated that Iran will end its adherence to its additional protocol, as well as cancel the rest of its “voluntary and temporary concessions,” such as the suspension of its enrichment-related facilities, “[u]nless the resolution is corrected and if there is insistence on its implementation.”

Additionally, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hamidreza Asefi suggested the next day that Iran may withdraw from the NPT if its case is referred to the Security Council.

However, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Larijani, struck a more cautionary note later that day, telling reporters that Iran would adhere to the NPT. As for its additional protocol, he said “nothing is determined yet,” adding that Tehran’s “reaction will depend on what the Europeans will do next.”

Larijani also stated that Tehran is open to negotiations with the Europeans but added that Iran will not shut down its conversion facility.

Some Iranian officials have recently suggested that Tehran might limit its economic interactions with countries that had supported the resolution, particularly the Europeans. But Larijani said that, although Tehran is considering the matter, “we will not do something out of haste.”

Uncharted Territory

The next steps in the Iranian nuclear saga are not entirely clear.

According to Straw, the three European governments are willing to resume negotiations with Iran “within the framework” of the two sides’ November 2004 agreement, under which talks would proceed in the context of an Iranian suspension of fuel cycle activities.

ElBaradei also has been tasked with reporting to the board about Iran’s compliance with the resolution. But in a departure from past practice, the board did not set a due date for the report. A State Department official told Arms Control Today Sept. 26 that the Europeans tried to specify that the report should be delivered to the board no later than its November meeting, but dropped the idea for fear that it would be a “deal breaker” for board members who thought a deadline too provocative.

However, according to the official, the United States, the Europeans, and other “like-minded countries” still have a range of options to trigger a report if Iran does not fully comply with the resolution. For example, they will “probably” call for a special board meeting in October if Iran takes an especially provocative action, such as restarting its centrifuge facility, the official said.

Significantly, the resolution’s requirement that the IAEA board “address the timing and content of the report” to the Security Council could complicate the referral process. The State Department official described the issue as an “open legal question,” adding that there is no clear mechanism for the board to make such a decision.

If the Security Council takes up the issue, it has a wide range of options it can take against Iran, including imposing economic sanctions. But EU and U.S. statements to the IAEA board suggest that, for now, the referral is being viewed as a tool to pressure Iran to return to its previous diplomatic track.

According to the State Department official, Washington envisions an “incremental approach” for Security Council action. A possible first step could be a statement from the council president calling on Iran to undertake the steps called for by the IAEA board, the official said, adding that “such a request…would add a significant degree of pressure on Iran to comply.”


Addressing Today's Nuclear Nonproliferation Challenges: Iran, North Korea, and the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal



Arms Control Association Press Briefing

Friday, September 16, 2005
9:00 A.M. - 10:30 A.M.

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Washington, D.C.



John S. Wolf, President, Eisenhower Fellowships.

Minister Counselor Morten Aasland, Embassy of Norway.

Lawrence Scheinman, Distinguished Professor, Monterey Institute of International Studies.

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


Transcript by:

Federal News Service

Washington , D.C.


DARYL KIMBALL: Welcome to this morning’s Arms Control Association Press Briefing on addressing today’s nuclear nonproliferation challenges. I am Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. ACA is a private, nonpartisan organization that was established in 1971 to educate the public about effective arms control and nonproliferation strategies. We’ve organized this morning’s session at this time because we remain deeply concerned about the world’s multiple nuclear weapons challenges and threats and the failure of the world’s leading states to agree on what we consider to be a balanced and effective action plan to strengthen the beleaguered nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and associated mechanisms such as export control regimes. In a moment, I’m going to turn over the microphone to our expert panelists and then we’re going to take your questions.

But first, I want to set the stage for why we have these three speakers, why we’re covering the topics that we’re covering today, and what issues we think U.S. policymakers in Congress and the executive branch and elsewhere need to think about addressing more seriously. Now, just a few months ago, the UN High Level Panel, cited the effect of the resumption of North Korea’s nuclear weapons-related activities, Iran’s advanced nuclear program, black market nuclear trading, and the specter of nuclear terrorism, growing stockpiles of highly-enriched uranium and plutonium, regional rivalries involving nuclear-armed states, and the failure of the nuclear-weapon states to respect and fully implement their NPT-related disarmament obligations, and the panel concluded “We are approaching a point at which the erosion of the nuclear nonproliferation regime could become irreversible and result in a cascade of proliferation.”

And as we, the Arms Control Association, noted in a statement that we released last April, which is in your packet, successfully addressing these and other challenges will require a new and unprecedented degree of international cooperation and leadership, beginning with the United States. Several Republican and Democratic members of the House and the Senate have heard our call that we issued back in April and have introduced legislation calling for action on several specific nonproliferation and disarmament measures, and one of those resolutions, the text of which is also in your packet, was offered by Senators Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Hagel.

But today, on the 16 th of September, we see that the UN Millennium Summit has failed to provide any recommendations or findings in their historic summit document on nonproliferation and disarmament. They were unable to agree to specific provisions on conventional arms, on halting the transfer of weapons of mass destruction to terrorists, or advancing nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament goals. According to Secretary General Kofi Annan, “There were governments that were not willing to make the concessions necessary…There were spoilers, let’s be quite honest about that.”

This comes on the heels of the disappointing nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference last May at which the member states also failed to put together an action plan to strengthen the NPT regime. I would note that in particular at that meeting, and apparently again in the past few weeks, the United States, as it did at the NPT, rejected references in the summit document to disarmament obligations of the nuclear-weapon states under the NPT, which then opened the door for other states to jump in the summit document negotiations with their own changes and objections. So in my view, and I think the view of many of the members of the Arms Control Association’s board members, these developments will make it all the more difficult to strengthen an already beleaguered nonproliferation system and will make it all the more difficult to persuade other states to foreclose their nuclear options as long as the United States and other weapons states insist on preserving and even enhancing theirs.

And then finally, and this is one of the other topics of today’s briefing, the United States now is seeking to rewrite the U.S. law and policies of the Nuclear Suppliers Group to allow full civilian nuclear cooperation with nuclear-armed India, even though India does not allow for full-scope nuclear safeguards, continues to produce fissile material for weapons, and has not agreed to support any meaningful new, nuclear restraint measure in the July 18 th summit document between Prime Minister Singh and President Bush. So, I think Secretary General Annan hit the nail on the head when he said that the UN members’ inability to adopt measures on disarmament and nonproliferation at the UN summit and elsewhere is a “real disgrace,” and that he hopes world leaders would see this “as a real signal to pick up the ashes and show leadership.”

So we’ve gathered here today three panelists with different backgrounds, experience from the United States and elsewhere, to comment on these developments, to provide their perspectives. Our first panelist is going to be John Wolf, who until quite recently has been on the frontlines of these policy debates. He is currently the president of the Eisenhower Fellowships and he was, from 2001 to 2004, the assistant secretary of State for nonproliferation among other important duties, which are described in his bio in your packet. And I would just add that while John has expressed views in the past that are not always in sync with those of the Arms Control Association, one thing that we really appreciate is his commitment to he Nonproliferation Treaty, and we do appreciate your presence here and your willingness to share your thoughts at this session.

Our second panelist represents one of the several governments that has sought to forge international agreement to strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation system. Minister Counselor Morten Aasland of the Embassy of Norway is here to discuss Norway’s efforts, along with a diverse group of six other nations from non-nuclear and nuclear states, northern states and southern states, to build support for their action plan to strengthen the NPT, and he is also going to try and describe why achieving agreement on such an action plan has been so difficult and what must be done to forge ahead in the international arena.

And our third panelist, last but not least, is Larry Scheinman who is with the Monterey Institute of International Studies. He was the assistant director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency during the Clinton administration with prime responsibility for nonproliferation and arms control. He has had 25 years of experience on nuclear issues and international affairs. Larry is going to help us with an analysis of the proposed U.S.-India nuclear cooperation deal and what the implications of that deal might be for the international nonproliferation order.

So with that, let’s start with John. Welcome, the podium is all yours. And then after we hear from all three speakers, we’ll go to your questions. Thanks.

JOHN WOLF: Thank you, Daryl. I guess I should start by saying a couple of things. Unlike many of the people in this room, I am not an expert on a lot of these matters. I learned a great deal though from my associates when I was assistant secretary for non-proliferation – unfortunately the last assistant secretary for non-proliferation. But I learned a great deal from my colleagues and associates and we’ll talk about some of that today. I don’t represent a government. I proudly did for 34 years. And today I don’t represent Eisenhower Fellowships, of which I am president, because that’s not what Eisenhower Fellowships do.

My task today though is to talk about strengthening the non-proliferation regime and for today’s purpose, Daryl and I agree that I’d probably do best to just focus on one piece, and that is the health of the NPT, where things stand today, and probably tipping my hand just a little bit for what I’m about to say, the steps that I think that the international community can take to revitalize this critical cornerstone of the international nonproliferation and arms control architecture. I don’t propose to wallow through the failed NPT conference last May. I think there is ample fault to go around. Both nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states share responsibility for the missed opportunity, and it was a missed opportunity, as were the discussions in the run-up to this week’s UN summit, which Daryl just described.

I think the world is caught in what I guess I could just best describe as a dialogue of the deaf, if you could use those words together. The NPT really should provide stability and a path for cooperation and the means for action to deal with real-world threats to world peace and security, and instead it’s become a foil for mind-numbing diatribes. When the treaty was negotiated, it had non-acquisition, disarmament, and peaceful uses as three integral parts of one unified whole, and I fear on various sides, there are efforts to break the treaty back into three pieces, and each side would focus on one, toss away the other, and ignore the third. That’s not a path for success.

So let’s start with non-acquisition. NPT is shorthand for the treaty for the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, and that should make clear what the central purpose of the treaty is. In the real world, there are real threats, real breaches of treaty obligations by countries that are both within the NPT and now outside the NPT orbit. And there is a continuing problem posed by nuclear-capable states that were never a part of the treaty. In a number of speeches that I made as the U.S. representative to NPT preparatory meetings and other meetings in 2002, 2003, and 2004, we caution that a treaty that is observed in the breach is a treaty that will fail and that will have serious consequences for all. We caution that states ought not to be selective in their application of the treaty. It’s meant to be a universal template and that may be uncomfortable for individual states in individual bilateral relations, but it was always meant to avoid one-off exceptions that undercut global standards meant to provide global confidence and stability.

Adherence to the treaty really should mean that the international community will not tolerate the acquisition of nuclear weapons and nuclear technology or the exports of such, and that intolerance really should apply to countries within and outside the treaty. The idea was to stop additions to the number of states with weapons and to start and, in due course, conclude nuclear disarmament by those with weapons. The view in the 1960s – and I was pretty young then but I share that view now – the view is that the world would be safer without nuclear weapons. The treaty fails if it differentiates or if members try to differentiate between good states who can be trusted with nuclear weapons and all others. We have never been further from the treaty’s goals and we are moving in the wrong direction.

Well, I firmly support the many measures that President Bush has outlined to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. These include continuing to strengthen the IAEA and universal adherence to additional protocols. This includes adherence by the United States, so I’m disheartened by interagency indolence that is undercutting the president’s commitment. It means strengthening innovative, pluralistic mechanisms like the Proliferation Security Initiative, and it means faithful adherence to Resolution 1540, which is binding on all UN member states, those inside the NPT, and those outside. It means finding a means to end the spread of technologies that enable more countries to reprocess nuclear fuel or to enrich uranium. These are key enabling technologies for acquiring fissile materials. But we need to assure fuel supplies for peaceful nuclear uses and we need to be serious about negotiating a verifiable fissile material cutoff treaty, and to get those producing such materials to stop. It’s time for Washington and the non-aligned to stop speaking as if only one side had truth and history on its side.

Certainly, the NPT is about more than compliance issues. Non-weapon states are correct for tweaking the P5 about their obscure path toward nuclear disarmament as a target of Article VI of the treaty, and there are legitimate concerns about the sui generis status of India, Pakistan, Israel, and now North Korea outside the treaty. But what is most of concern is the palpable unwillingness to call to account those who are cheating. Tolerating or excusing countries’ attempts to acquire weapons capabilities will certainly shrink opportunities for developing countries to use nuclear materials for peaceful purposes. Tolerating or conniving in the proliferation activities by one’s own nationals could, I think, and should lead to such countries being fenced off from high-tech trade and perhaps greater isolation.

The kind of groupthink mentality that refuses to confront proliferation, or which tries to rationalize it, is counterproductive. And why do I say that? Because the spread of nuclear weapons to additional sovereign states is actually a far greater threat to countries in the proliferator’s neighborhoods than it is to the United States. However, we’re all threatened when proliferation and nuclear weapons acquisition is in the direction of non-state actors – terrorists – and to states that have supported terrorism as an element of statecraft.

Now, as regards disarmament, and certainly for the United States – and I’m not an expert – but I’m told there is a better story that we could tell, and more that we could do. It could be that the United States is actually doing a better job meeting its Article VI disarmament obligations than it admits. It could be that we shield the actual progress we’re making in deactivating materials, as well as what we’re doing and intend to do in regard to the actual transformation of fissile materials. Why the obfuscation? Is it just to keep our options open? With our overwhelming conventional capabilities, do we really need to do that? I’m on the side of those who think we should be more transparent. I’m on the side of those who think we can do more. I think it would give us greater leverage to generate more commitment internationally to confront and corral states attempting to go down the nuclear weapons path.

But I also think that more worrisome are two U.S. policy initiatives and the concerns that are shared by many, some in the United States including in Congress, and many abroad. One set of concerns relates to the department of Energy’s program to research a new penetrator warhead. Far more worrisome though is the proposed change in weapons doctrine that envisions using nuclear weapons for WMD pre-emption. Probably one needs to say only one word – Iraq – to raise a huge scarlet warning flag about the risks of such a policy change. In 2003, our commanders and civilian leaders were convinced there would be a chemical weapons response to any military action in 2003, and so we laid down a bright red line, saying how we would respond. Suppose instead some had argued to use nuclear weapons pre-emptively, and suppose we had. What would have been the implications of doing so and being wrong? Whoops is not a good enough response.

There are a dozen or more countries around the world in violation of their Chemical Weapons Convention and Biological Weapons Convention obligations. Few directly threaten the United States, but a number have seriously strained relations with their neighbors, some of which also have clandestine WMD programs. But what’s the message that the United States with its huge conventional capabilities, far-flung intelligence capabilities – we can contemplate nuclear pre-emption? But others, with much more at risk and far fewer capabilities – shouldn’t have the option? Perhaps in a one-dimensional world such thinking makes sense, but that’s not the world that we live in. We need to do a better job shifting the terms of the debate back to the treaty’s basics so it’s non-acquisition, whereas I said, I think the U.S. has made a strong case and proposed a number of measures that should be pursued.

Disarmament – we can tell the story better on what we’re doing and we need to do more and be more transparent. We need to be serious about a fissile material cutoff treaty. My sense is that our negotiators will need to have a whole lot more fire put into their bellies than the lukewarm diplo-speak that they now have. That needs to include verification. How can one pass the smile test in Geneva, saying that an FMCT cannot be verified while insisting vis-à-vis North Korea and Iran that effective verification is essential to any credible outcome.

Even beyond those areas, we need to do more to broaden the peaceful uses. Few developing countries will use nuclear power for power generation, and even fewer will have any reason to enrich or reprocess. But the way the debate is now framed is whether they have a right. And now we’re seen as trying to take that right away. We need to change the terms of the debate. We need to find practical ways to cooperate with countries. I think we should go back to President Eisenhower’s original Atoms for Peace concept; update it to focus on industrial, medical, agricultural, and other uses of the atom. Let’s talk about something concrete that countries could get in exchange if they shelve insistence on their right to enrich and reprocess. Let’s put practical alternatives and real resources into this. Certainly, the dollars one might spend giving others a finite stake in the nuclear debate are far fewer than the billions we have to spend to stop proliferators ourselves.

It’s been fashionable recently to talk a lot about counter-proliferation, but that’s really a defensive concept. Nonproliferation done right is bigger. It requires more resources. It requires more work. It requires better diplomacy. But in the end, I think you get a better result. At Eisenhower Fellowships, we say that dialogue leads to understanding, and understanding sets the basis for collaboration that can yield a more prosperous, just, and peaceful world. Dialogue requires listening, not just talking, a lesson we should add to our efforts to build up an international coalition working to strengthen the implementation of the nonproliferation treaty in all its aspects. To get collaboration in action, we’re going to need understanding, and that means we need to have serious two-way dialogue. It can’t be selective. We have to be consistent, whether the discussion is in capitals or whether it’s within the UN system. Time is short. There’s much to do. Thank you.


MR. KIMBALL: Thank you very much, John, for those refreshing thoughts. Minister Counselor Aasland, you’re up next.

MORTEN AASLAND: Good morning. Thank you, Daryl, and thank you for inviting me to this panel and to speak at the distinguished Arms Control Association. I’d like to say that the ACA is at the forefront when it comes to advocating arms control measures and you provide quality analysis that I know that my colleagues working with these issues in Oslo use very frequently. And it’s an honor for me to be on this panel with two gentlemen with such very distinguished careers.

I would like to share with you Norway’s experience over the last few months with what has been a practical diplomatic effort to find pragmatic ways forward out of the present impasse, because it is pretty much an impasse with regard to global multilateral nonproliferation and disarmament efforts. Let me first say that it seems also to us, as stated by the Arms Control Association in the flyer for this event, and also, I think, very much now by John Wolf, that it is our assessment or point of departure for what we’ve done that the nuclear weapon have and have-nots are drifting apart, and that this is happening at a time when we know the challenges with regard to nuclear proliferation facing all countries are growing more severe. In short, the overall available international instruments and our political will to use them effectively and develop them does not keep up with proliferation trends and challenges that are on the rise. And this is reason for grave concern.

My view, obviously, is quite close to what you were both saying, so you’re not going to get a panel here with sparks of disagreement flying. Many of us shared a deep frustration over the failed 2005 NPT Review Conference in New York in May. There were different views, however, on the degree of failure. Some claimed that the conference was not really a failure after all, and that at least there were very good substantive discussions. My government does not share that last assessment. We believe that in May, an important opportunity was missed to strengthen the global nuclear nonproliferation regime and make needed progress in nuclear disarmament.

Another opportunity to articulate political will and set direction was again, unfortunately, lost at the World Summit in New York this week, which in the end does not at all address disarmament and nonproliferation in its outcome document. We agree with Secretary General Kofi Annan when he summed up the whole summit agenda before heads of state and government on Wednesday, and I would like to quote very briefly from him. He said, “our biggest challenge and our biggest failing is on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament. Twice this year, at the NPT review conference and now at this summit, we have allowed posturing to get in the way of results. This is inexcusable. Weapons of mass destruction pose a grave danger to us all, particularly in a world threatened by terrorists with global ambitions and no inhibitions. We must pick up the pieces in order to renew negotiations on this vital issue.

There is talk, and it was alluded to now, about an erosion of confidence in the whole NPT bargain. We subscribe to the view that the state of affairs in the multilateral disarmament machinery and with regard to the NPT is very disappointing. On the other hand, and I believe this is an important political message, we should refrain ourselves from undermining further the confidence in the NPT. The legal rights and obligations of the NPT remain and the three pillars remain. Nonproliferation, disarmament, and peaceful uses are all essential and part of a whole.

A few words then on the so-called Seven Nation Initiative that Norway has headed up at the United Nations these past months. Shortly after the review conference in May, Norway’s foreign minister was asked by the secretary general to take the lead in developing as strong as language as possible on nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation for the summit outcome document. We knew that this would not be an easy thing. The impasse in New York in May was still very much present, and the fact that non-parties to the NPT would also have a say in the negotiations on the outcome document would make this even more complicated, obviously. Still, it was decided to make an effort and basically to do three things – work the text initially with a limited, selected number of countries representing different views and different situations with regard to the possession of nuclear weapons or not. Secondly, then work to get all, or as many as possible, UN members on board. Thirdly, maintain as much as possible of the substance of this text through the final phase of the negotiations for the outcome document.

Now, the composition of the core group merits perhaps a little bit of attention. It was quite clear for us that they had to come from different regions and represent different views. An initiative or a paper sponsored by Western, like-minded countries alone would obviously not fly and not promote a broad consensus, so we invited the following six countries: Australia, Chile, Indonesia, Romania, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. Those who follow the NPT process will know that these countries have quite different perspectives on nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation. Indonesia and South Africa have for many years been at the forefront of the Nonaligned Movement, the NAM. South Africa is part of the New Agenda Coalition, which has been pushing some of these issues in a UN setting. It was crucial for us to have Indonesia and South Africa on board. At the same time, it was felt that it was essential to have a nuclear power. Those who follow the NPT will know that the U.K. has remained committed to the disarmament obligations adopted at the review conference in 2000.

The seven nation negotiations on a joint ministerial declaration, as well as negotiations on a specific text for the outcome document for the heads of state and government, were not easy. They were hard. And the two texts were obviously compromises. Not surprisingly, upon circulation in New York, a number of countries asked us why did you not have stronger language, for example, on the IAEA additional protocol? Others asked, why did you not have stronger advocacy of full implementation of past disarmament commitments, et cetera. Further examples could be added. We would agree that the text was not ideal. It was a common denominator, but it was not the lowest common denominator. It did provide a bottom-up path toward a possible consensus on the pragmatic package of first steps, and the alternative, of course, was not a full Christmas tree where everybody could hang their favorite decoration, but no tree at all.

As things proceeded in New York, a very large number of countries on short notice expressed support and rallied to the text and the text was also adopted as a basis for negotiations for the outcome document. These negotiations were also difficult. The non-NPT states had very strong views. Norway all along kept in very close touch with the United States government, both at very high levels and on a running basis with the State Department, and in New York. But, I will reveal no secret if I say that some of our proposals or some of the proposals in the texts did not receive strong support or ovation in Washington. Negotiations went on until this week, until heads of state and government arrived in New York. But they did not lead to consensus and the result was, as you alluded to, that there is no section at all on disarmament and nonproliferation in the outcome document. As in the case with the NPT review conference, political differences proved too large and there was not enough will to overcome or put aside differences. A small group of countries had very strong views or have very strong views on some issues, and those views are not acceptable for others. They are either, in particular, linked to stronger or full commitment to disarmament efforts or the primacy, if I may say so, of nonproliferation efforts on the other hand.

I will not run through the substantial elements of the proposed summit document. They are available and we can make them available afterwards if you want to. One last word – where do we stand now? We regret, of course, that the World Summit did not seize this opportunity. A clear message from heads of state and government would have been important. It would have provided political commitment and push and helped set direction. However, while unsuccessful in terms of the outcome document, we do believe that this initiative and the rallying around it did outline a practical approach toward making progress, which is strongly needed, as we all know. It also signaled the value of a cross-regional and cross-group approach and the merits of a fresh approach in the multilateral UN disarmament machinery, which we all know is not a fast-moving machinery. And we also feel that it has helped develop consensus. It’s also put pressure on some countries that we might call holdouts, which is not unimportant.

So Norway will continue to work on these issues. We organized two weeks ago a workshop in Oslo with 24 NPT parties, selected from all regions, exploring ways to continue. Efforts will go on, of course, in various fora, including in various parts of the UN, in the IAEA, and elsewhere. I’ll just mention one specific example, and that is the issue of using the IAEA to promote a proliferation-resistant nuclear fuel cycle. Norway circulated a paper at the NPT review conference in May calling for reduced use of enriched uranium in the civilian sector, with a total ban as a long-term objective. In parallel, we should follow up nonproliferation efforts through the full implementation of Security Council Resolution 1540, including very importantly assistance to developing countries in fulfilling their obligations under that Security Council resolution. We must also seek to universalize the guidelines of the Proliferation Security Initiative, and it’s important, of course, that this not be seen as a Western or a United States project. And we will continue work to strengthen relevant export control regimes like the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which Norway is chairing at this moment.

The present situation with regard to multilateral negotiating efforts on nonproliferation and disarmament is unsatisfactory and it is an untenable situation. The relationship between challenges and escalating trends and available instruments and the degree to which we put them to use is not a satisfactory one. Secondly, we attempted with the other countries in this core group to proceed in a practical manner in the multilateral arena. We felt that approach was worthwhile. Something was achieved. It was unsuccessful in New York, of course, but consensus was built to quite a degree. A path was once again pointed to and there was rallying around a step-by-step practical, pragmatic approach. I think I’ll end right there. Thank you very much.


MR. KIMBALL: Thank you, Morten. Now, our third speaker, Larry Scheinman. I just want to say before you come up that we like to change the lineup of our panels that ACA puts together, but we’ve made an exception for Larry. I think this is the third time that you’ve helped us out with a panel discussion in the last three or four years because you are so knowledgeable about so many things. This morning, I also want to thank you for being here because you’ve had to overcome some sickness. So Larry is dedicated to the cause and a true trooper. I welcome you to the podium.

LARRY SCHEINMAN: I will start out by denying everything that Daryl just said, especially about being knowledgeable. I was asked if I would talk to the question of the recent decision by the United States to change policy regarding civil nuclear cooperation with a country that is not accepting full-scope safeguards, let alone not being an NPT party. I think it can be said that there’s a general sharing of the objective on all sides of the issues of the purpose of trying to counterbalance the rise of Chinese power and to enhance cooperation in the field of counterterrorism when it comes to the U.S. decision to move forward in a new way with India and the civil nuclear fuel cycle sector.

For me and my colleagues, the problem is that in doing so, the United States is either in a position of having to seek or is actively seeking, depending on how you want to characterize that, to reverse decades-old counter-proliferation policy. Removing obstacles to civil nuclear cooperation with India is anchored on the proposition that as a responsible state with advanced nuclear technology and a strong commitment to weapons of mass destruction proliferation, ceasing that, India should share the same benefits and advantages as other such states. To do this entails adjusting long-standing laws and policies of the United States, requiring congressional approval and acquiescence of allies and friends to altering regime policies the United States, in particular, has devoted years of time and effort and diplomatic energy to establish. And as one of the people who has been in this business since almost shortly after the NPT was brought into the public marketplace, I feel very strongly about that shift in approach.

For many, the questions are whether the objective, the strengthening of ties with India in economic, military, and in scientific fields, could have been achieved without compromising important nonproliferation principles, norms, and policies, whether India’s concessions in the nonproliferation sector are significant enough to justify the accommodations to which the United Stats has now committed itself, and what the impact this agreement might have on the nonproliferation regime at large. There’s been an outpouring of opinion and analysis on this subject here and abroad, including, of course, in India, and a forthcoming article in Arms Control Today -- by my colleagues Fred McGoldrick and Harold Bengelsdorf and I -- is one. In our view, if the administration implements the joint agreement without modification, we will have given India a great deal – effective acknowledgement as a de facto nuclear-weapon state, whatever language or terminology one chooses to use, and access to the international nuclear market – in return for what we regard to be largely symbolic concessions in the nonproliferation area. Now, I admit that if you look at the Indian press, you get a totally 180-degree different position: “Why are we doing these things and making these concessions to the United States on the chance that the United States may be able to successfully bring about this change of policy and make it an operational fact?”

These symbolic concessions to which I refer, include the following: to place civil facilities as, and I underscore this, as defined by India and not by the United States or the international community, under IAEA safeguards, the nature of which isn’t specified. I will come back to that point. This could add very little in fact to the nonproliferation regime. Another symbolic concession is to act responsibly in the field of nuclear export, in particular in the area of sensitive technology, enrichment and reprocessing. I say this is symbolic because India already does this. This is not new. This is not taking a step forward. This is simply confirming that India has been in this respect largely a reliable member of the team to prevent the spread of technologies which put us all at risk. To maintain a nuclear testing moratorium is a third concession that has been made in this agreement, but this is something that India has already committed to. They’re not changing course. They’re not saying, “Well, we’ve been on the wrong path and now we need to take a different strategy.” And finally, to work with the United States for conclusion of a multilateral fissile material cutoff treaty, which India has been supporting the negotiation of for some time and probably is very happy to join in this objective now that the United States has said this is not a verifiable treaty if in fact it ever gets consummated.

In short, what is positive and good on the side of India is not really new or a breakthrough, but what is being granted by the United States in return is. What is not conceded arguably overrides what is committed to or, as I said, reaffirmed. In particular, the commitment to halt the production of weapons material, that is to say, a moratorium, that word doesn’t appear in this agreement. And, as we understand it, India was pressed to stop producing now as the United States has stopped producing, and the other nuclear-weapon states have stopped producing fissile material for weapons purposes. India said that’s not something that could be on the table. So the commitment to halt the production of nuclear material in the period leading up to the conclusion of a fissile material cutoff treaty is not there. This is something that would have given further leverage on Pakistani policies and practices. In addition, there is no mention of the Proliferation Security Initiative to which the previous two speakers alluded. A commitment to strong physical protection standards vis-à-vis facilities where weapons-useable materials are located on Indian territory or in locations under its control are not there, but they would have been important additions and these would have been taking it a step beyond where India is today.

And what is left uncertain and problematic among the positive aspects relates to the separation of civil and military facilities on the one hand, and safeguards on the other. As I mentioned a moment ago, the separation of civilian and military nuclear facilities is a matter of Indian decision and acceptance of separation in principle is already under attack in India. Former Prime Minister Vajpayee has questioned acceptance of this principle, and others, such as Mr. Prasad, have noted that separation means having to have dedicated – (audio break, tape change) -- facilities for military purposes that would end up being kept underutilized when not producing materials for nuclear weapons – a costly venture for India, given that it is operating on the principle of minimum deterrence and depends today on incremental acquisition of material from existing civilian nuclear facilities beyond the Dhruva and Cirus research reactors that can provide dedicated supplies.

As for expanded safeguards on facilities designated as civilian, while that is a plus, the question left unaddressed is, what kind of safeguards are we talking about? In theory there are two possibilities. One is a voluntary safeguards agreement along the lines of what the five nuclear-weapon states recognized by the NPT have already employed; that is to say, a voluntary declaration of facilities that either are considered civilian, either all civilian facilities, as is the case with the United States and the United Kingdom, or selected facilities, as is the case with the other three weapons states. So one possibility is to have a voluntary safeguards agreement and use that as a means by which to place whatever civilian facilities are designated under IAEA verification.

The other alternative is a facility-specific safeguards agreement under what’s called Information Circular 66, which is the safeguards document that prevailed prior to the negotiation of the conclusion of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which called for comprehensive or full-scope safeguards.

The nice part about the INFCIRC/66 facility approach is that safeguards are in perpetuity once the safeguards are applied to the facility. That’s the fundamental difference between that kind of an approach and a voluntary arrangement approach. Under the voluntary arrangement approach if one comes to the conclusion that a facility placed under safeguards is now needed for national security or national defense purposes, it can be removed from the list. So it’s really kind of an under-which-shell-is-the-pea kind of approach to the problem.

So in the case of voluntary safeguards, it’s possible, as I say, for the state to withdraw facilities and safeguards for national security reasons, whereas in the case of INFCIRC/66, it is not. The importance of my making this observation will become clear in a moment.

There is, in addition, the question of adherence to the additional protocol to safeguards that was agreed by the IAEA board of governors in 1997, and that is progressively but slowly moving toward becoming the norm for safeguards. We’ve got a long way to go. More access to information, more access to locations is provided by the additional protocol, but none of the three de facto nuclear-weapon states – India, Israel or Pakistan – have bit the bullet on this one, whereas the nuclear-weapon states recognized by the NPT at this point have in varying degrees.

Adherence to the additional protocol in the context of whatever safeguards agreement they come to conclude with the IAEA could be added significance to the legitimacy of safeguards worldwide, and that would be an important contribution that India could make in this regard.

In our article we also discussed the implementation of this kind of an agreement under U.S. law. The Atomic Energy Act, which requires that significant nuclear exports be pursuant to an agreement for civil nuclear cooperation, is something that does not currently exist with India. Our earlier civil cooperation agreement expired in 1993.

For such an agreement, certain conditions have to be met. Under our law, this includes full-scope safeguards by the recipient state, which India would not accept, and therefore, a waiver would have to be required, and prior consent rights to what happens to material that’s been provided by the United States, such as for the reprocessing of spent fuel, would also be required, and that doesn’t exist at the present time. In addition to that, Nuclear Regulatory Commission export licensing requirements, which also include full-scope safeguards, would have to be dealt with, which again involves the possible need for waivers that are subject to congressional approval.

Congressional concerns have already been raised, as reflected in a House amendment of the energy bill this July that would have prohibited export of nuclear technology or equipment to countries that had detonated a nuclear weapon and not signed the NPT. Despite the fact that this amendment was rejected ultimately in conference, I believe we have not heard the last of it.

There is also the question of the Nuclear Suppliers Group that’s already been mentioned by other speakers. Indications are that key members are falling in line behind the United States. The United Kingdom already has done that. I believe Canada recently has indicated that they’re prepared to go along with this, which is a bit of a dismaying event considering that the Canadians were probably burned harder by the Indians than anybody else had been in the past when the Indians took Canadian assistance for civil purposes and used it to produce the material that was used to detonate the device in 1974 under the label, “peaceful nuclear explosion.”

What is particularly important here is what message the United States initiative gives to other group members, and how in the longer run the longstanding effort to bring suppliers to adopt a common set of rules of the game regarding exports will fare. If the United States can move along the path of exceptionalism with respect to one country, what assurance is there that other NSG countries might not follow the same example with respect to states with whom they have special interests?

I might mention in passing here that having come to the conclusion that we have this agreement with India and hoping that the Indian government will fall in line behind some basic thinking on these issues with the United States, the headline in the newspaper that I saw the other day was that India supports the Iranian position that Iran has the right to proceed with the full nuclear fuel cycle.

On that, by the way, I think I agree very much with something that John Wolf said. I’d put it slightly differently. I was the policy advisor to the study that was done by the IAEA on multilateral nuclear alternatives, and the one thing I came away from that meeting, which involved 26 countries, was don’t try to fight this issue on the matter of inalienable rights. Find another way to get at the problem. You lose on inalienable rights. The moment you say you don’t have an inalienable right – which many people here have said is the case – you’re up against not Iran; you’re up against Iran plus about 110 or more countries, all of them unaligned, as well as the Canadians and the Australians, who say, wait a minute, you know, we may not be there yet but we may want to be there at some point, and we have the right to proceed down that road, consistent with our obligations under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. So there’s a problem that arises there as well.

Beyond the Nuclear Suppliers Group issue lies the question of the potential impact of the implementation of the U.S.-Indian joint declaration on the nonproliferation regime as a whole. It opens up a whole hornet’s nest of questions and issues that need to be addressed. Our conclusion is – and I’m going to ask Hal Bengelsdorf, who, as I say, is a co-author, if he would like to perhaps add a couple of comments to this after I just reached this conclusion – is that since Congress will have to deal with this issue one way or another – i.e., responding to requests for waivers or efforts to amend our basic laws – it should take its responsibility and place appropriate conditions on any approval it might give, in particular, insistence that the safeguards to be applied to Indian civil facilities be INFCIRC/66 safeguards; that is to say, safeguards in perpetuity, which is what our law actually requires, and to mandate the administration to press for an expansive declaration of civil facilities.

In short, Congress has an opportunity to shape the future, to shape development in ways that can help to push outcomes in the direction of reinforcing nonproliferation principles and set a sufficiently high bar for exceptions of this kind to mitigate – not prevent but mitigate – the damage that will be done to the regime.

I guess the only other point I would mention here is to reinforce this notion that it’s an unfortunate and costly political decision that’s been made, and the potential to damaging the regime I believe is significant. The purpose of the objective of better relations with India could have been met, in my view and that of many others, without sacrificing the principles and objectives of nuclear nonproliferation.

Thank you.


MR. KIMBALL: Hal Bengelsdorf, if you would like to make a couple of comments.

HAL BENGELSDORF: Thanks, Larry. If you look at this thing it’s a very complex and large issue. In our Arms Control Today article, we’ve tried to do a balanced assessment. We’ve tried to put more specificity in our analysis about what the U.S. got from this deal and what procedural steps one has to go through to reach the goals. I hope you will find it a useful contribution.

But when I look at this arrangement and stand back, I see a whole series of existing or potential ironies that have to be recognized. It would of course be ironic if the U.S., which was the leader in putting together the whole NSG regime, pressing full-scope safeguards, now triggers a process where there’s an erosion of those norms. That’s not the intent, but one worries whether people will ask for other exceptions. One worries whether the Russians might use the Indian example to further rationalize and defend their relationships with Iran.

I find it ironic that the administration has said that it doesn’t recognize India as a nuclear-weapon state, yet in many respects it is. But it goes beyond that. Where this thing sits now if nothing changes is that you have an anomalous situation where India will remain free to continue to proceed with its nuclear weapons program without any restraints, whereas all of the other nuclear-weapon states have indicated that they’re prepared to cap it.

Now, the administration and the Indians will say, “Well, the FMCT will handle that.” Well, that’s only moving fast in geologic terms. I think it would be ironic if the big guys – the French and the British and the Americans – now try to roll over the other NSG members and try to organize and get a consensus. It’s inconceivable to me at this point that this thing can be implemented in the absence of a credible NSG concurrence.

This agreement, without denying some of the movement or minimizing some of the movements that the Indians feel they face, is in a highly vulnerable state. I have great doubts whether we will achieve implementation on a timely basis unless the parties’ try to introduce greater flexibility in there.


MR. KIMBALL: Thank you.

All right, well, we’ve had three-and-a-half comments on the state of affairs. I’m sorry to make your Friday morning a little more depressing than it might usually be, but this is the world we live in.

We have plenty of time for your questions and discussion. The microphone will come to you when you raise your hand. Please identify yourself and state your question.

Yes, sir?

Q: Dan Horner from McGraw-Hill Nuclear Publications. I wanted to follow on the point of the last two speakers but direct it to Mr. Aasland, and as you, first of all, what your government’s position is on the proposed cooperation with India; and secondly, from your vantage point in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, what you see as the likely outcome within the NSG of this proposal. Thanks.

MR. AASLAND: It’s a hard question. Norway hasn’t taken a detailed position on this at all. We are involved, if you like, in particular because we now have the chairmanship of the NSG. There is a clear recognition that this is a very complicated issue, a potential torpedo, for the whole arrangement.

I think that the assessments that were made just a moment ago are assessments or considerations about what might possibly happen are ones that we share, but we have not taken a public decision on the issue so I can’t really say a lot more than that.

MR. KIMBALL: Could you just tell us, when is the next NSG meeting scheduled, and is there any clarity about whether this might even be on the agenda, or is that not yet settled?

MR. AASLAND: I’m not sure whether that’s settled. I can see if I can check into one of the background papers and come back on that.

MR. KIMBALL: Alright. Thank you.

Other questions? Have we covered everything? Yes, sir – Mr. Potman (sp).

Q: Thank you, Daryl. I’m Peter Potman from the Netherlands Embassy. I’ve got two questions, if I may. I would like to direct them to Mr. John Wolf. One is about the move that the U.S. government is now making toward India. To what extent do you believe this is another signal of the United States government, the administration, to walk away from treaty-based diplomacy and a treaty regime-based approach to security in exchange for, let’s say, more realpolitik kinds of approaches stemming perhaps – and I’m wondering what your view is of this because you were very close to it and proud of it – stemming from maybe a basic pessimism about world relations, power relations, and that therefore the conclusion has been with important policymakers that the world can only be managed by managing power relations, and that in that sense, if you can use a treaty to that effect, that’s good. If it gets in the way, you go around it, or you blow up the treaty, or you don’t engage in the treaty.

And then the FMCT I think is a case in point. My country is trying to set up a seminar on verification of an FMCT in Geneva. The U.S. administration is not prepared to send people over. So is it all part of a larger scheme, a paradigm shift, so to speak, in how to manage relations, or is that just overdrawn?

My second question is a bit more specific. You mentioned the doctrine that has now come out of the Pentagon about preemptive strikes. I thought this was simply bureaucratic inertia in the sense that the nuclear posture review of 2002 contains all these concepts – they’re not new – and the possibility of first strike or preemptive strike in a way has always been there, even before that. So to what extent – because you were saying basically that this was new and dangerous, whereas I thought that perhaps it was just –

MR. KIMBALL: Old and dangerous.

Q: Old and dangerous – (laughter) –or is it worse?

MR. WOLF: On the second question, I suppose the thinking in the bowels of the Pentagon that is not operationalized or approved at the top level is the kind of contingency thinking that’s one thing. If it turns into state policy it’s another.

Looking at your first question - and let me be real clear - I’m not speaking for or against the administration. I’m not in it. Looking at the way you phrased your question, I actually wonder whether it’s realpolitik or misguided idealism. They’re very different. I mean, the idealism says that we have these special relationships with democratic states and they’ll share our values and do everything – they’ll think just like we do, and that’s not true of our closest allies, much less countries with a history like India’s.

Walking away – if you’re right that it’s a trend to – if you’re suggesting that walking away from a treaty-based world is the way they’re going, to some new “paradigm” based on managing power relations, I guess I’m never a fan of creating new additional architecture just to have architecture, but if you take the terms of the Supreme Court discussions this week, this is really settled law. Every administration since 1970 has talked about the NPT as a cornerstone of our national security policy, or the cornerstone, and I think it would be a big mistake, as I said, were some to think that we can break the cornerstone into three pieces and move one of them around at our convenience and ignore the rest. So I hope you’re not right.

MR. KIMBALL: All right, let me just speak to the second question that Peter Potman asked on the nuclear strategy. There is a detailed analysis in this month’s Arms Control Today on that subject by Hans Kristensen, and this was actually the first place where the analysis and the findings were published, not The Washington Post. But I would just answer your question by noting that while the basic concepts that are in this joint doctrine that is being reported on are not, at the fundamental level, new, the doctrine does explicitly talk about some options under which nuclear weapons might be used in a preemptive way. So, if anything, it may not be new so much as it is more explicit, and if it is dangerous and old, it is important to keep in mind that this administration promised three, four years ago, that it would pursue a nuclear policy that deemphasized nuclear weapons. And what we see, in fact and in practice, is that the role is being maintained, and I would argue, in some ways being expanded when you take into consideration other developments relating to the development of – or the pursuit of the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator.

We had a few other hands up. Yes, ma’am? If you could wait for the microphone.

Q: I’m Katie Scowfield. I just have a question generally for the panel in regards to your opinion on the EU-3 negotiations. Is that an effective way to handle potential violators of the treaty? Should the U.S. have taken a greater role in dealing with Iran, or are our relations too botched for that? Or should a tougher stance in the EU-3 negotiations, such as taking Iran to the Security Council, be pursued?

MR. KIMBALL: Is that for any one in particular?

Q: Yeah, anyone.

MR. KIMBALL: John? Larry?

MR. SCHEINMAN: (Off mike) – in some fashion with the EU-3 in trying to promote some kind of a dialogue and approach to the Iranian problem. Basically they’re asking, what is your problem? We know what their problem is. In part, it certainly is security, or sense of security, or concern. They have a nuclear-weapon state to their left, a nuclear-weapon state to their right, a nuclear-weapon state to their north, and a big nuclear-weapon state all over the place.

So obviously security is a matter of concern, whether you’re with the ayatollahs or whether you’re even with the more liberal wing of the Iranian populace, because that is a basic concern. So you sit down and you try to work diplomatically through that kind of a problem and see if you can come to a resolution that is mutually acceptable. I think that would be the obvious way for us to try to go, and it’s clear that it’s going to be more difficult now than it had been before.

MR. KIMBALL: Anyone else want to take a shot or has Larry captured the essence?

All right, other questions. Jofi, please, and then we’ll try to get around to the back.

Q: Jofi Joseph, private consultant, formally Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff. My question is for the two members of our panel who have extensive experience in the U.S. government. Secretary Rice is proposing a merger within the State Department of the Arms Control and Nonproliferation Bureaus into a new Bureau for International Security and Negotiation. Some have argued that this is a useful organizational consolidation, essentially carrying out the recommendations of an IG report issued last year. Others argue that it will fundamentally weaken the use of American diplomacy to advance nonproliferation goals. I’m interested in your views.

MR. KIMBALL: Alright. That’s for Larry and John if you want to take a crack at it.

MR. WOLF: It’s not really a question of where the deck chairs are but it’s kind of a question who the captain is and who’s got the helm. And during my three years there I think the lines of communications were confused. The inspector general’s report was really quite detailed on some of the complicated internal battles that probably hobbled our efforts.

So whether there’s one bureau or two bureaus is not as important as what the mission is, who sets it – the secretary of state, undersecretary of state – they should be pointed in the same direction – the assistant secretary of state, and then all of the offices. And if there is a clear direction set and there is good leadership that is policy innovative, and if we use all of the tools at our disposal and not just a few selective tools, then I think, in a way, the amalgamation doesn’t matter. It may be better to amalgamate. I’ll sort of leave it at rearranging the deck chairs isn’t the thing. Who’s up in the crows nest looking for icebergs, who’s driving, and what are the instructions are much more important. The book is still open on whether we’re going to have a successful effort.

On an earlier point, I said I don’t think we should be mesmerized by the word counter-proliferation as some new term of art. Nonproliferation has everything to do with non-acquisition, the message we’re sending on disarmament, and our efforts to promote peaceful uses, and I think we need to have a robust U.S. policy that addresses all those concerns. I think we need to have a consistent U.S. policy that isn’t a policy by exception or some kind of power relationship management. We need to work within a stable system where we will be a principal architect but also a principal beneficiary. So you can read into that, and what I said earlier, all kinds of different things.


MR. SCHEINMAN: I would be inclined to agree on the general principal that John just expressed about deck chairs and captains and crows nests. But I would like to answer your question in an anecdotal fashion, if I may. In my last meeting at the National Security Council on my watch, there was an issue, which I’ll not discuss here, but there was an issue that came up, and in the course of the discussion at the NSC, it became very apparent to me very quickly that a lot of ducks had been lined up – which is not uncommon – all in one nice little row. And I intervened to make a counter-argument to why we should be doing what’s been apparently accepted.

And after I made my argument, another agency of the government, an important one, said, he’s right, and they withdrew their support – they stepped out of line with the other ducks, and that stopped this particular decision from being taken. And as I was walking back to the State Department, this colleague of mine, who was one of John’s predecessors, he said to me, Larry, when the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency is merged into the State Department, this isn’t going to happen. I said, I know, and that’s exactly why it should not be merged.

But we merged the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency into the State Department fully. We always were very closely coordinated. We always had our differences but we worked them out. And now we’re seeing the next stage of that so-called consolidation, and I think what it may do is to take away opportunities to make alternative presentations to win over a position in favor of one approach as opposed to another.

So I do get concerned when I see this happening. I’m wondering who’s going to be the losers in this, especially when I think what’s happening is taking place in the context of an administration that has a particular perspective, which has been expressed here in varying ways up to this point. Arms control is a dead terminology. It was good in the old days, but the Cold War is unnecessary now. And it’s very true that we face rather different challenges than we did 20, 30, 40 years ago, and need to adjust. The question is whether you adjust in the way that’s being done or whether you adjust in a more refined fashion.

MR. KIMBALL: Alright.

Mr. Aasland. Thank you.

MR. AASLAND: If I may add a little point on this, which has a bearing or effect on the Indian-U.S. agreement and its effect on the NSG with regard to the relationship with the institutional set up in the State Department. I think it was our impression – and from the media because this has been all over the media – that the Indian-U.S. agreement was put together with bilateral relationship considerations, and not, at least, the arms control or nonproliferation considerations, which normally would go into the discussion of that important policy shift, were perhaps not prominently present.

And again, from the media it may well be that the American follow up of this in the NSG are not sure whether they have thought through absolutely all consequences and how to take this forward. So certainly we haven’t as the chairmanship. But I’m saying this to make the broader point that of course one of the criteria perhaps of a successful reorganization is that you ensure that the nonproliferation and arms control factors that have a very important role to play in policymaking are given an institutional setup internally that allows that.

MR. KIMBALL: Alright. We’re going to take two questions and then we’re going to take answers to those two questions so we can get through the questions.

Q: Thank you. Peter Kanflo from the Embassy of Sweden. For Ambassador Wolf. You made a number of suggestions for a new or different approach that all the parties to the NPT could take to in fact strengthen the regime, not further weaken it, but in particular you made some suggestions regarding U.S. policy. Could you comment a little bit more about the possibility of these suggestions being taken up as U.S. policy, and also if there is anything other countries could do to support that, because many of these suggestions for all of us seem very sensible. Thank you.

MR. KIMBALL: And then why don’t we take one more question, please.

Q: Hi. Erin Harbaugh (sp) from the State Department. This is also for John Wolf, also from your former bureau. My question is along the same lines as this gentleman. You mention that developing countries should not need nuclear energy and uranium enrichment capabilities, and this debate has been framed in terms of a right to peaceful nuclear energy, and I’m wondering how you feel about the six-party process. Obviously this has been very problematic, this debate, in terms of the six-party process and the discussions that are currently underway in Beijing. And I’m wondering if you feel that we can reframe this debate at this point, and if so, how will we, or is it too late?

MR. WOLF: The first question is what’s the likelihood of the U.S. government moving in the directions I’ve suggested? For that, I suggest you talk to any of the numerous U.S. government representatives who are scattered around the room. Some of those are not actually new ideas, but they’re still ideas in circulation, and it’s opportunities like today’s discussions repeated here in Washington and around the world, whether in Oslo or elsewhere that will help to ventilate these things, and I hope people – like I say, in order for us to go forward, for us to reinforce the treaty on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, to achieve our nonproliferation objectives – and remember how I define them as broader than just stopping the spread of nuclear weapons – for us to achieve our nonproliferation objectives, we’re going to have to have real dialogue, and real dialogue means that we have to go to meetings prepared not only to talk a good game but to listen a good game and try and find common ground. And I hope that some of the suggestions that I’ve put forward this morning are elements that might play into finding common ground.

I guess the terminology is no longer “former bureau” but now it’s “late bureau.” Never mind; we won’t go there. (Laughter.)

Six-party talks. I thought it was a very innovative suggestion. I think that Assistant Secretary Hill is doing a remarkable job. He clearly has much more robust instructions and greater latitude than perhaps the U.S. representative, Jim Kelly, had in the first round or two rounds, and I think this was a very important way to proceed. These kinds of discussions are an avenue to proceed. In the end, whatever is discussed there needs to get a broader international buy-in, and I trust that between the five parties, we are all keeping close contact with others who have an interest – the EU in particular, but also the rest of the world should stay abreast of it and needs to be part of the buy-in for the thing.

I don’t think I expressed doubt about countries using nuclear energy. I would express doubt, and I do believe we’ve got to find an alternative to every country thinking that it not only should have power-generating capabilities or industrial uses of nuclear materials, whether for agriculture, medicine, whatever, but also the ability to generate the materials. In other words, we really do have to find an alternative to everybody having enrichment and reprocessing capabilities, because if you don’t have those capabilities, it’s a much tougher path to fissile material. And as everybody who seems to write about this says, getting the fissile material is the hardest part of getting a nuclear weapon. You want to clamp down on the availability of fissile capabilities, not only as regards states but also in terms of the risk that a non-state group would be able to acquire it. The more spread around it is, the higher the likelihood.

MR. KIMBALL: I just want to add one quick point on the first question about the likelihood of the United States government moving ahead on some of these things and take that slightly differently. I wanted to just remind everyone here of some of the previous discussion that we heard from our friend from Norway, and something I mentioned at the top, which is that there is, I think, quite a broad agreement among a large number of states about several key proposals that have been put forward, that were put forward in the context of the NPT review conference, that were put forward in the context of the negotiations for the Millennium Plus Five document that recognized this balance of responsibilities and obligations under the Nonproliferation Treaty.

All is not lost. I mean, it does come down to a few states, not just the United States, blocking this consensus, blocking progress. We also see in the United States Congress a number of members of the House and the Senate, as I mentioned before, putting forward resolutions that outline a broad, balanced approach to dealing with the myriad proliferation challenges.

So, I mean, I would say that in many ways there is an opportunity for this administration in the years that are left, and certainly beyond the second George W. Bush administration, to make adjustments that allow for progress in several of these areas, and the most important of which is that, as our previous speakers were saying, that the United States does a much better job recognizing its disarmament responsibilities, which are in the natural self-interest of the United States, and that can go a long way towards making some progress in discussing and moving forward on some of these issues like achieving greater restraint on nuclear fuel cycle capabilities.

So that’s just another thought.

MR. WOLF: Something very different, but as I was sitting here thinking about the answer I just gave, one thing I want to be real clear on is when I talked about too much focus, too much mesmerization with counter-proliferation, I actually think counter-proliferation is an essential part of the diplomacy. It’s important to things like the six-party talks, it’s important to the Iran negotiations, it’s an important support for the EU-3.

I wanted to say I was always a big fan and actively involved in helping to increase counter-proliferation efforts. I think it’s important. But nonproliferation is a much bigger concept, and it needs to use all the tools, not just a few of them. Thanks.

MR. KIMBALL: All right. I think we’ve got time for a couple more quick questions and answers. Yes, ma’am?

Q: Mine is actually not going to be a question – I hope you can excuse that – but a clarification. Kelly Anderson from the Canadian Embassy. Just to clarify the Canadian government’s position on the NSG and India. We have not taken a decision yet. We understand the objectives that have pushed the U.S. to this agreement, but we also have some problems with it. This is still under consideration within the government of Canada, so we’re not on a side yet.

MR. KIMBALL: Thank you, Kelly, for that clarification.

Q: Mark Fitzpatrick, soon to be at IISS in London. A follow up question on the U.S.-India deal and the need for unanimity on the part of the Nuclear Suppliers Group if this is to proceed. I’d be interested in views, maybe particularly of Larry, of how likely it is we get the unanimity, and particularly China’s role – what will China demand to go along with this?

MR. KIMBALL: Larry, can you look into your crystal ball?

MR. SCHEINMAN: Mark, I’m not really sure I have a good answer to your question – particularly your second question. I’m not quite clear myself about whether unanimity is an absolute requirement in the NSG – whether it operates strictly on a consensus basis, which would mean everybody is on board, or whether it operates with any kind of a voting approach, because I’ve never actually attended an NSG meeting, I’ve only been on the outside of – it does require consensus. So then that would mean that everybody would have to be on board and follow the same rule.

Your second question – could you just repeat that?

Q: It was, how likely is China to come along, and what would China’s price be?

MR. SCHEINMAN: Well, that’s why I started to say I really don’t have a good answer to that. I don’t know what China’s price would be, but China would obviously have a strong interest in doing business with Pakistan. Pakistan has already indicated they’d like to build 13 power reactors along with those that the Indians will be building even if this does not go through. So I guess China would be looking to an outcome that would facilitate their ability to continue doing business with Pakistan.


The Arms Control Association is an independent, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to promoting public understanding of and support for effective arms control policies.


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Iran Nuclear Abilities Limited

Paul Kerr

Tehran’s Aug. 1 announcement of its decision to restart its uranium-conversion facility near Isfahan has raised concerns that Tehran intends to produce highly enriched uranium (HEU) for nuclear weapons. But three recent U.S. intelligence assessments suggest that Iran’s limited technical capabilities mean that it would take Tehran between six and 10 years to be able to produce nuclear weapons even if it committed to that course and it were allowed to operate its nuclear facilities freely.

For example, in an Aug. 23 interview with Arms Control Today, a Department of State official confirmed that a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) predicts that Iran will not be able to acquire fissile material for a weapon before “early to mid-next decade.” The NIE, which represents the consensus view of the intelligence community, was first reported Aug. 2 in The Washington Post. The official agreed that this figure was, in practical terms, the same as a February Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) estimate that “ Tehran probably will have the ability to produce nuclear weapons early in the next decade,” unless constrained by a nuclear nonproliferation agreement.

These estimates also jibed with an early 2004 intelligence briefing given to congressional staff members, which indicated that Iran would not be able to produce a nuclear weapon until after 2010 because Iran’s program was beset by technical delays and shortfalls.

Intelligence officials caution, however, that there is a great deal of uncertainty in estimating how long it might take any particular country to acquire nuclear weapons.

Iran’s Problems

Iran appears to face difficulties in operating both its uranium-conversion and centrifuge facilities. Uranium-conversion facilities convert lightly processed uranium ore into several compounds, including uranium hexafluoride. Gas centrifuges enrich uranium hexafluoride gas by spinning it at very high speeds. Low-enriched uranium is used to fuel power reactors; HEU can be used to make nuclear weapons. Iran currently has a pilot centrifuge facility and has said it plans to build a much larger commercial facility.

According to the State Department official, Iran had “major problems” with the conversion facility in 2004 when it produced uranium hexafluoride that was unsuitable for enrichment. Tehran also may be having trouble obtaining the proper materials to handle and properly store uranium hexafluoride and other uranium compounds, the official added.

The same State Department official said, however, that Iran may now have overcome at least some of its technical problems. Additionally, a Western diplomat told Arms Control Today Aug. 26 that the facility’s problems could well be overcome in the short term, and pointing out that other countries may be willing to provide Iran with relevant assistance.

Iran also is having trouble with its pilot centrifuge facility, the State Department official said, because it is unable to keep the machines running for a sufficient length of time at the required speeds.

The U.S. Evidence

The same official described Washington’s case for an ongoing Iranian nuclear weapons program as built on a “body of convincing but circumstantial evidence.”

Bush administration officials argue that several factors support the U.S. case. These include Tehran’s past efforts to conceal its nuclear activities, unresolved questions with regard to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) investigation of Iran’s nuclear program, and Iran’s large fossil fuel supplies, which render unnecessary its nuclear power program.

The State Department official also confirmed a July 27 Wall Street Journal article that reported that the United States has what it believes to be documentary evidence suggesting that Iran is attempting to develop a nuclear-weapon payload for its medium-range Shahab-3 ballistic missile. A source in Vienna close to the IAEA said that U.S. officials shared with the agency a picture of a re-entry vehicle “purported to be” the Shahab-3, as well as information on the possible payload dimensions.

Additionally, a recent State Department study indicates that another Iranian claim does not ring true, the official said. Iran has said it wants to build uranium-enrichment facilities to ensure its energy independence, but the country lacks sufficient indigenous uranium to supply a civilian nuclear power program. According to the study, Iran’s known uranium reserves are sufficient to produce 250-300 nuclear weapons but can only provide enough fuel to run a single 1,000-megawatt reactor for six or seven years. Russia has nearly completed constructing such a reactor near the Iranian city of Bushehr and has agreed to supply fresh fuel for the reactor, as well as remove spent fuel. Iran has stated that it wants to build at least several more such reactors.

Washington believes that Tehran has a secret military effort to acquire its own fissile-material production capabilities, but the extent of this activity is unclear. The Washington Post article reported “a fading of suspicions that Iran’s military has been running its own separate and covert enrichment effort.” But the claim that Iran had a parallel, military nuclear program was advanced as a serious theory at the 2004 briefing.

The United States has publicly expressed concern about such a military effort, raising questions, for example, that Iran’s military or an affiliated organization may have begun working at the country’s Gchine mine in an effort to obtain an independent uranium source. The IAEA is investigating the matter. (See ACT, July/August 2005.)

The State Department official added that Iran’s military is involved in the government’s nuclear weapons program in several other ways but did not elaborate. However, the official said that the military appears to be focused on activities such as organization, procurement, and funding. The United States does not know whether the military has been constructing nuclear facilities the official said, but added that there is no evidence of a “brick and mortar building” producing fissile material.

The current U.S. policy to oppose any Iranian conversion or enrichment facilities reflects a long-standing U.S. concern that Iran could use civilian nuclear facilities to obtain nuclear training and technology for use in a covert nuclear weapons program. A November 2004 CIA report stated that IAEA “inspections and safeguards will most likely prevent Tehran from using facilities declared to the IAEA directly for its weapons program as long as Tehran remains a party to the [nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty]. However, Iran could use the same technology at other, covert locations for military applications.”

Both national security adviser Stephen Hadley and the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction have acknowledged that U.S. intelligence about Iran has considerable limitations. Illustrating this point, a former intelligence official told Arms Control Today Aug. 24 that the United States “knew a hell of a lot more” about Iraq’s suspected weapons of mass destruction programs, which were later found to be nonexistent, than it currently does about Iran’s nuclear capabilities.



Iran Restarts Uranium Conversion

Paul Kerr

Iran’s August restart of its uranium-conversion facility near Isfahan has set the stage for a diplomatic showdown this month.

Iran’s action ended a suspension that had been part of a November agreement with France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. For the time being, the Europeans have halted their negotiations with Tehran.

Two days after opening an emergency meeting, the Europeans joined with the United States and other members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors to adopt an Aug. 11 resolution expressing “serious concern” about Iran’s actions and urging Tehran “to re-establish full suspension” of work at the conversion facility. The resolution calls for IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei to present by Sept. 3 a “comprehensive report” on the status of Iran’s conversion activities, as well as other aspects of its nuclear programs.

Iran’s uranium-conversion facility is a key component of its gas-centrifuge-based uranium-enrichment program. Such centrifuges spin uranium hexafluoride gas at very high speeds in order to increase the concentration of the uranium-235 isotope. This process can produce either low-enriched uranium for civilian nuclear reactor fuel or highly enriched uranium (HEU). HEU can be used as fissile material in nuclear weapons. Uranium-conversion facilities convert uranium oxide—lightly processed uranium ore—into several uranium compounds, including uranium hexafluoride.

Iran has ratified the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which does not bar countries from possessing either uranium-conversion or -enrichment facilities. But suspicions that Tehran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program have motivated diplomatic efforts to persuade Iran to go beyond its treaty commitments and give up its enrichment program completely.

Tehran’s decision to resume conversion at this time has reinforced European and U.S. suspicions that Iran is ending the suspension to pursue fissile material production. Iran, which currently lacks an industrial capability to enrich uranium, has no short-term need for uranium hexafluoride. Two Western diplomats told Arms Control Today that a desire to overcome the facility’s technical limitations is likely one motivation for restarting the facility.

Derailed Diplomacy?

Iran notified the IAEA Aug. 1 that it intended to restart its uranium-conversion facility. Iran began feeding uranium oxide into an unsealed portion of the facility on Aug. 8 even though the necessary IAEA surveillance equipment had not yet been fully tested. Two days later, Iran removed agency seals from the facility. The seals had been used to monitor the suspension.

Iranian ambassador Cyrus Nasseri told the IAEA board Aug. 9 that, although Iran will “absolutely not” give up its uranium-enrichment program, “for the present, [Tehran] will maintain suspension” at its centrifuge facilities.

Many observers feared that Iran would restart its uranium-conversion facility, especially after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected president in June. Ahmadinejad’s administration is widely viewed as being less willing than its predecessor to compromise on the nuclear issue. But in Iran’s political system, primary authority over such decisions rests with the country’s supreme cleric, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

In October 2003, Iran first pledged to the Europeans that it would “suspend all uranium-enrichment and reprocessing activities as defined by the IAEA,” but the scope of the agreement was contentious for some time, particularly with regard to Iran’s uranium-conversion facility. Iran continued to conduct work on the facility and eventually produced a small quantity of uranium hexafluoride. Iran later began to convert a quantity of uranium oxide that could eventually produce enough weapons-grade uranium for several crude nuclear weapons. (See ACT, October 2004.)

The ensuing diplomatic crisis eventually resulted in Iran’s November deal with the Europeans. Tehran agreed to suspend work on its enrichment program while the two sides negotiated an agreement that included “objective guarantees” that Iran’s nuclear program would be “exclusively for peaceful purposes,” as well as cooperative arrangements between the two sides on economic, political, and security matters. This new agreement explicitly prohibited “all tests or production at any uranium-conversion installation” and specified that Iran’s adherence to the suspension was necessary for negotiations to continue.

The major point of contention between the two sides has concerned the definition of “objective guarantees.” The Europeans want Iran to cease the enrichment program completely, but Tehran has repeatedly said it will not do so, although it has offered some proposals to limit the scope of the program.

Iran threatened to break the suspension in May but agreed to put off the decision until August while the Europeans developed a detailed negotiating proposal. The Europeans hoped that the proposal’s incentives would persuade Iran to give up its enrichment program. (See ACT, June 2005.)

The detailed economic incentives contained in the lengthy offer, however, do not appear to have affected Iranian policy. After Ahmadinejad’s election and well before receiving the Europeans’ proposal, Iranian officials repeatedly made clear that they would not continue the suspension. In fact, Tehran notified the IAEA of its decision four days before receiving the proposal.

Now, the two sides are at a diplomatic impasse. Although Iranian officials have repeatedly said that they wish to continue negotiations with the Europeans, they have been adamant that any proposal allow Iran to continue its enrichment program.

The Europeans, however, will not hold negotiations “until the Iranians return to the framework” of the November agreement, a French Foreign Ministry spokesperson told reporters Aug. 23, although the three governments will leave open other diplomatic channels.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hamidreza Asefi, said Aug. 28 that Tehran will submit a proposal within 45 days to serve as a “breakthrough with respect to our current standoff with Europe” but provided no details. He also said that Iran may wish to negotiate with other countries in addition to the Europeans.

IAEA Meeting

The IAEA board is expected to discuss ElBaradei’s report during its next quarterly meeting, scheduled to begin Sept. 19. If Iran does not reinstate the suspension, its case could be referred to the UN Security Council, as the United States has proposed. The IAEA has previously reported that Iran conducted clandestine nuclear activities in violation of its safeguards agreement, but Iran’s European interlocutors have said that they would not support a referral as long as Iran adhered to the November agreement.

Under the agency’s statute, the board is required to notify the Security Council if a state-party to the NPT is found in noncompliance with its IAEA safeguards agreements. The council may then take action against the offending state. Safeguards agreements allow the agency to monitor NPT states-parties’ declared civilian nuclear activities to ensure that they are not diverted to military use.

Although the IAEA has been investigating Iran’s nuclear programs for about three years, the resolution notes that there are still several “outstanding issues relating to Iran’s nuclear programme [that] have yet to be resolved, and that the agency is not yet in a position to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran.” (See ACT, July/August 2005.)

U.S. Ambassador Gregory Schulte told the IAEA board Aug. 9 that Washington is particularly concerned about questions concerning the status of Iran’s uranium-enrichment efforts, the extent to which Iran’s military is involved in the country’s nuclear programs, and the “full extent” of Iran’s plutonium-separation experiments. Plutonium can also be used to produce nuclear weapons.

It appears that ElBaradei’s report will produce a rare glimmer of certainty by conclusively revealing the origin of HEU particles that IAEA inspectors found at Iranian nuclear-related facilities. Both a State Department official and a source in Vienna close to the IAEA confirmed an Aug. 23 Washington Post article that said ElBaradei’s report will confirm Iran’s claim that the HEU particles came from imported centrifuge components that Tehran obtained through a proliferation network run by former Pakistani nuclear official Abdul Qadeer Khan.

ElBaradei had previously reported in 2004 that the IAEA’s evidence tended to support Iran’s claim. (See ACT, October 2004.) But centrifuge components provided to the agency by Pakistan in late May for environmental sampling allowed the agency to conclude this portion of the investigation.



Top European Official Discusses Solving the Iranian Nuclear Dilemma and Other Arms Control Matters


For Immediate Release: August 11, 2005


Press Contacts: Miles Pomper, (202) 463-8270 x108; Oliver Meier, in Berlin +49 171 359 2410

(Washington, D.C.): "Arms Control Today's" international correspondent Oliver Meier sat down recently with EU nonproliferation chief Annalisa Giannella to discuss Europe's nonproliferation and security policies and future directions. The interview came as the European Union and three of its member states geared up for a new round of negotiations with Iran. "Arms Control Today" is published by the Arms Control Association.

On Iran, Giannella notes that if Iran's actions were to lead to a referral to the UN Security Council, it would not necessarily mean immediate sanctions. She states, "The Council, of course, is a new process. Everybody knows that the Security Council can adopt sanctions, but also the Security Council can decide to encourage...negotiations. The Security Council is a process. It's not a one-shot event."

Still, she says that Iran would be worse off if the present European-Iranian negotiations collapse. "The negotiations that are underway are, in my opinion, a very good chance for Iran to get out from the difficult situation. So, Iran should not underestimate the fact that if it misses this opportunity, everything will be more difficult," Giannella warns.

The EU nonproliferation chief further notes that the EU proposal takes Iran's position into consideration. She explains, "We take into account the fact that Russia has already concluded a contract with Iran for the supply of fuel for Bushehr I. We also take into account the possibility that Russia would supply Iran with a Bushehr II reactor. On the other hand, we understand that Iran does not necessarily want to depend exclusively on one country and would like to have other guarantees in order to have a power generation program that is totally safe."

In addition to tough negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, the EU has also been at the eye of a storm on arms sales to China. Beijing is pressing the EU to lift its 1989 arms embargo on China, while Washington is insisting that the EU retain the ban. Giannella indicates that the EU's intention is to lift the arms embargo, but says that the EU would place the previously voluntary measures contained in an arms sales code of conduct in a legally binding document and adopt "transparency measures and mutual controls that will apply to exports to countries previously under embargo." She adds, "We have been making a lot of improvements, for ourselves, but also to reassure our partners."

Giannella further notes that the EU is pursuing joint efforts with other countries to bolster their compliance with arms control and nonproliferation agreements. She states, "We have agreed now to conduct specific consultations in the field of compliance...maybe closer cooperation in the field of compliance can help us in allaying the concerns of our American friends. And maybe we'll have more cooperation in the area of disarmament as well."

Giannella has served in her current position since October 2003 and previously served as the European Council's director for security and defense policy and the head of the Council's division for security issues.

A full transcript of the interview is available on the Arms Control Association's Web site: http://www.armscontrol.org/interviews/20050724_Giannella.asp.

For more on the Iranian nuclear program and EU nonproliferation policy, see the forthcoming September 2005 issue of "Arms Control Today."

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The Arms Control Association is an independent, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to promoting public understanding of and support for effective arms control policies.



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