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The Arms Control Association is an "exceptional organization that effectively addresses pressing national and international challenges with an impact that is disproportionate to its small size." 

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

ACA Analysis of Moscow Round of Talks

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(The following appeared as an ArmsControlNow blog post, P5+1 and Iran Nuclear Talks: Slowly Moving Toward a Deal? on June 19, 2012)

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

Given the infrequency of serious, direct talks with Tehran on its disputed nuclear program, the failure to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough in Moscow this week is disappointing but not surprising. At the same time, there was no breakdown and there will be follow-on technical talks in Istanbul on July 3.

The meetings over the past three months have yielded greater clarity on the positions of the sides and point-by-point engagement – a necessary and long overdue, if insufficient, step in reaching an ultimate resolution of the crisis.

As tough as the P5+1 talks have been, diplomacy remains the best option to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. There is still time and an opportunity for diplomacy, but it is essential to reach a deal to prevent that 20% enriched uranium stockpile from growing and soon.

As EU High Representative Catherine Ashton said on behalf of the P5+1 group in her press conference:

“In the last session Dr. Jalili and I spoke about the fact that nobody in that room wants talks for talks sake. And the fact is that they did begin to address the substance for the first time. But there is a very, very long way to go. And I’m sure that Dr. Jalili would say that too.  And that is why we decided on the process that I’ve identified to try and move forward.”

Following an "early follow-on technical meeting" in Istanbul on July 3 to provide further clarification about the P5+1 proposal and "increase understanding of the Iranian response," Ashton said in a written statement there will be further contact at the deputy-level and then an evaluation of "prospects for a future meeting at the political level."

A review of the respective proposals put forward by each side suggests there are still gaps, but that an initial confidence building deal is still within reach if both sides provide greater flexibility and creativity.

None of the five proposals reportedly put forward by the Iranian negotiating team are automatic non-starters. At least three provide a basis for further bargaining:

  • Iran’s reported proposal for “operationalizing” the Supreme Leader’s fatwa against nuclear weapons appears to be a direct response to the urging of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
  • Iran’s call for sanctions relief in return for cooperation with the IAEA could even be considered a paraphrase of the UN Security Council promise of sanctions relief if sufficient cooperation is provided. The key is what kind of cooperation and IAEA inspections Iran would agree to allow and when.
  • Iran’s reported offer to consider limits on enrichment to 20% percent levels also provides a basis for an initial confidence-building deal that would address the most urgent proliferation risk.

The task now is to acquire sufficient detail on the proposals, sort out sequencing issues, and recalibrate positions to achieve a win-win deal at the next round of discussions.

The top priority for the P5+1 (the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, Germany, France, and China) must continue to be a deal that halts Iran's accumulation of 20% enriched uranium—which is above normal fuel-grade and closer to weapons grade—in exchange for fuel assemblies for its Tehran Research Reactor and medical isotopes.

This would reinforce the principle that Iran has the "right" under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty only to enrich in full compliance with safeguards and only for its civilian power needs and could serve as a basis for a broader deal to limit the size and scope of its enrichment program.

A deal to halt enrichment above normal fuel grade would address the highest priority proliferation problem and provide negotiators with more time to address other key issues.

To help get to “yes,” the P5+1 should offer to formally delay or "suspend" the European oil embargo set to begin next month, and/or offer to ease the restrictions European shipping insurers from covering ships that carry Iranian oil to buyers around the world. The effect would largely be symbolic since most EU states have already stopped buying Iranian oil. If Iran does not follow through with tangible steps, these new sanctions could be formally reinstated.

Failure to find a way to halt Iran’s accumulation of 20% enriched uranium would be irresponsible, as it would make it easier for Iran to acquire a faster nuclear weapons breakout capability.

For its part, Iran could make a deal -- and possible sanctions relief – more likely if it would fully cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on inspections of key sites and personnel to ensure that past weapons-related experiments have been discontinued. Last month, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano reported that agreement on a structured approach for resolving outstanding concerns was close at hand. Iran must also clarify when it will allow IAEA inspections under the terms of the additional protocol.

It is past time for Iran’s supreme leader and his team to provide the transparency necessary to ensure that his religious fatwa against nuclear weapons is genuine.

Sanctions Alone Won’t Work; Military Options Are Ineffective, Counterproductive

Some cynics and critics of the diplomatic option will undoubtedly complain that further negotiations with Iran only allow Iran to ‘buy time’ for nefarious nuclear pursuits. Such thinking is illogical, naïve, and dangerous.

The reality is that international and national sanctions will remain in place until Iran takes the steps necessary to provide confidence it is not pursuing nuclear weapons.

Iran’s enrichment program goes no faster or slower as talks continue. But without a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear pursuits, Iran’s capabilities will only grow over time.

Nonproliferation and military experts agree that the so-called military option remains woefully ineffective and would be highly counterproductive. Air strikes on Iran’s facilities would set back Iran’s program for no more than a couple of years, convince its leaders to pursue nuclear weapons openly, and lead to adverse economic and security consequences.

Enrichment “Rights” and Realities

In Moscow, Iran’s negotiators once again made it clear that they will not compromise Iran’s so-called “right” to enrich uranium under Article IV of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Meanwhile back in Washington, some U.S. politicians insist that the goal should be to prevent any enrichment activity inside Iran. Neither position is realistic.

The position of United States and its negotiating partners have correctly pointed out that under the NPT, Iran must also comply with its IAEA safeguards obligations. The Barack Obama administration and its P5+1 partners have made it clear that under very strict conditions Iran would, sometime in the future, having responded to the international community’s concerns about nuclear weapons-related experiments have such a right under IAEA inspections.

In other words, a permanent uranium-enrichment halt would be beneficial and very welcome, but it is not necessary to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, and it is not realistic given the strong support for enrichment across the political spectrum in Iran.

Tying enrichment amounts and levels to the actual needs of Iran’s nuclear power plants, combined with more extensive IAEA safeguards, could sufficiently guard against a nuclear-armed Iran.

There Is Still Time for Diplomacy

Iran has still not made a strategic decision to pursue nuclear weapons and does not yet have the necessary ingredients for an effective nuclear arsenal, but its uranium enrichment capabilities are improving.

The IAEA’s May 25 report indicates that Iran continues to make steady progress enriching uranium to 5% U-235 (from 5451 kg in Feb. 2012 to 6197 in May 2012) and 20% U-235 (from 95.4 kg to 145.6 kg). However, Iran has still not installed more advanced centrifuges that could significantly increase its uranium enrichment output.

Iran has used a large portion of its uranium enriched to 20% U-235–about 43 kg– for fabricating fuel plates for its Tehran Research Reactor, which effectively leaves its current 20% stockpile relatively unchanged, as of May 15.

To reduce the risk of a nuclear-armed Iran, it is essential to reach a deal to prevent that 20% enriched uranium stockpile from growing and soon.

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Given the infrequency of serious, direct talks with Tehran on its disputed nuclear program, the failure to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough in Moscow this week is disappointing but not surprising. At the same time, there was no breakdown and there will be follow-on technical talks in Istanbul on July 3.

Country Resources:

The Urgent Need for an Arms Trade Treaty

Daryl G. Kimball

Late last month, UN officials confirmed that more than 100 Syrians—the majority women and children—were killed following artillery and tank shelling of civilians near the town of Haoula by the forces of President Bashar al-Assad. Despite the brutality of the Assad regime over the 15-month conflict in which some 10,000 Syrians have been killed, Russia, Iran, and possibly others continue to sell weapons to Damascus.

To uphold a proposed ceasefire and help prevent an all-out civil war, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging states not to arm either side in the Syrian conflict. Even as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the Syrian government “bears the main responsibility for what is going on,” yet another shipment of Russian arms is reported to have arrived in Syria.

The crisis in Syria underscores the urgent necessity of common-sense rules to prevent the international transfer of weapons, particularly when it is determined there is a substantial risk of human rights abuses or if the weapons are going to states under international arms embargoes.

Next month, a final round of multilateral negotiations could finally produce a legally binding global arms trade treaty (ATT). For the first time, this would establish common, legally binding standards for the import, export, and transfer of conventional arms and ammunition.

Each year, thousands of civilians around the world are slaughtered by weapons sold to unscrupulous regimes and transferred by arms brokers to criminals and illegal militias. The enormous human toll of this cycle of violence undermines economic and social development and political stability in fragile regions, as well as international security.

According to a recent report published by Oxfam, more than $2.2 billion worth of arms and ammunition have been imported since 2000 by countries operating under 26 UN, regional, or multilateral arms embargoes in force during that time.

To succeed, the United States and other major weapons exporters, including Russia and China, need to put people over arms profiteering and play a constructive role in the upcoming negotiations to secure a treaty with the highest possible standards.

To be effective, an ATT should identify possible criteria for denial of international arms transfer licenses; this list should address human rights, security, and development concerns. A strong treaty should require member states to report regularly on their arms sales and purchases, transfer approvals, and license denials.

Under an effective ATT, states-parties would not authorize a transfer of conventional arms in contravention of UN arms embargoes or when there is a substantial risk the items will be used for serious violations of international human rights law or international humanitarian law, as in the case of Syria.

A key question in the negotiations will be whether the treaty will require states to withhold such arms transfers or simply require that states take into account the potential risks associated with the transfer. The latter approach is simply not acceptable because it will allow many states to ignore existing international obligations and sidestep the basic standards outlined in an ATT.

An ATT also must apply to all types of international trade, transfers, and transactions in conventional weaponry and cover the broadest range of conventional arms possible, from military aircraft to small arms. The British government estimates that at least 400,000 people are killed by illegal small arms and light weapons each year. An ATT also should specifically require that national laws regulate the activities of international arms brokers and other intermediaries.

Negotiators must include ammunition in the scope of the treaty. The world is already full of guns. It is often the supply and resupply of ammunition that feeds and prolongs conflicts and armed violence. Even though the United States already licenses the import and export of ammunition, it has been reluctant to support the regulation of ammunition in an ATT. That position must change. The exclusion of ammunition from the scope of the treaty and from basic reporting requirements would greatly reduce its ability to achieve many of its most important goals.

Although even the most effective ATT cannot stop states from providing aid to regimes and armies that target civilians, such a treaty would make it much more difficult for states, such as Russia, to justify arms sales to the Assad regime and other rogue regimes and militias.

As British Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt has said, the treaty has “the potential to prevent human rights abuses, reduce conflict, and make the world a safer place.” No one, except maybe illicit arms dealers and human rights abusers, should oppose common-sense international law regulating the arms trade.

To help prevent the next humanitarian disaster fueled by the illicit arms trade, President Barack Obama and other global leaders should spare no effort to seize the historic opportunity to negotiate a robust, bulletproof ATT. ACT

Late last month, UN officials confirmed that more than 100 Syrians—the majority women and children—were killed following artillery and tank shelling of civilians near the town of Haoula by the forces of President Bashar al-Assad. Despite the brutality of the Assad regime over the 15-month conflict in which some 10,000 Syrians have been killed, Russia, Iran, and possibly others continue to sell weapons to Damascus.

Fifty Organizations Urge President Obama to Pursue Robust and Effective Global Arms Trade Treaty

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Negotiations at the UN to Begin in July; U.S. Leadership Needed on Key Issues

For Immediate Release: May 24, 2012

Contacts: Daryl Kimball, Exec. Director, Arms Control Assoc. (202-463-8270 x107); Skye Wheeler, Press Officer, Oxfam America (617-840-0039).

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—As part of a growing global campaign to build support for an effective and robust international agreement to regulate international arms deals, more than fifty organizations are urging President Barack Obama to “spare no effort to seize the historic opportunity to negotiate a robust, bullet-proof Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).”

In a letter to President Obama, the organizations call on the U.S. government “to play a strong leadership role” in the upcoming July negotiations to secure a treaty “with the highest possible standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms.”

The letter was endorsed by leaders representing 51 human rights, development, religious, and security organizations, including: Amnesty International USA; Arms Control Association; Friends Committee on National Legislation; Human Rights Watch; NAACP; Oxfam America; National Association of Evangelicals; and others.

The organizations urge the Obama administration to support positions on the several unresolved, key issues that are critical to an effective treaty:

  • Strong Criteria Explicitly Linked to Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law—“The ATT must prevent states from transferring conventional arms in contravention of UN arms embargoes and when it is determined there is a substantial risk the items will be used for serious violations of international human rights law or international humanitarian law.”
  • Comprehensive Coverage—“For the ATT to be effective, the ATT must apply to the broadest range of conventional arms possible—from military aircraft to small arms—as well as all types of international trade, transfers, and transactions in conventional weaponry. The ATT should also specifically require that national laws regulate the activities of international arms brokers and other intermediaries.”
  • Include Ammunition in the Scope of the Treaty—“An ATT that does not regulate ammunition would be like a gun without bullets. The world is already full of guns. It is the constant flows of ammunition that feeds and prolongs conflicts and armed violence. The exclusion of ammunition from the scope of the treaty would greatly reduce its ability to achieve many of its most important goals.”

U.S. officials have said the administration supports the inclusion of small arms and light weapons in the treaty. On ammunition, Ann Ganzer, director of the Office of Conventional Arms Threat Reduction at the Department of State said: “We do not have a problem with the regulation of ammunition. The United States licenses the manufacturing, import, and export of ammunition. The issue comes in with some of the other requirements of the treaty—reporting requirements.”

In the letter, the groups note that: “Thousands of civilians around the globe are slaughtered each year by weapons that are sold, transferred by governments or diverted to unscrupulous regimes, criminals, illegal militias, and terrorist groups. The lack of high common international standards in the global arms trade also raises the risks faced by United States military and civilian personnel working around the globe.”

“To be effective, the new Arms Trade Treaty must include legally-binding criteria that states ‘shall not’ transfer weapons or ammunition where there is a substantial risk they will be used to violate international human rights or humanitarian law,” says Scott Stedjan, Senior Policy Advisor for Humanitarian Response for Oxfam International USA.

According to a recent report published by Oxfam, more than $2.2 billion worth of arms and ammunition have been imported since 2000 by countries operating under arms embargoes. The figures show the extent to which states have been flagrantly flouting the 26 UN, regional, or multilateral arms embargoes in force during this period.

“No one, except maybe illicit arms dealers and human rights abusers, should oppose common-sense international law regulating the arms trade,” the NGO letter to the President notes.

For further information, see:

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The Arms Control Association is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons

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(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—As part of a growing global campaign to build support for an effective and robust international agreement to regulate international arms deals, more than fifty organizations are urging President Barack Obama to “spare no effort to seize the historic opportunity to negotiate a robust, bullet-proof Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).”

Don't Hold New START Hostage to Budget Battles

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Volume 3, Issue 8, May 16, 2012

This week, the House of Representatives will debate and vote on the annual defense authorization bill, which in its current form would hold up implementation of the 2010 New START Treaty unless Congress increases spending on nuclear weapons activities that the Pentagon did not request and does not want.

On May 9, Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee pushed through an amendment by Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio) to the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would block funding for New START implementation unless higher spending targets for National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) nuclear weapons production facilities set in 2010 are met in future years.

In response, the Obama administration issued a warning to Congress yesterday that the President may veto the final bill if these provisions survive, stating that sections 1053-1059 would "impinge on the President's ability to implement the New START Treaty and to set U.S. nuclear weapons policy."

Rep. Turner's partisan "hostage taking" ignores the fact that there is bi-partisan support for New START and bi-partisan agreement among congressional appropriators that additional nuclear weapon budget increases are unaffordable and unnecessary.

Rep. Turner also ignores the fact that twenty years after the Cold War the United States does not need as many nuclear weapons as we plan to maintain. Even after New START is implemented, the U.S. will have 1,550 nuclear warheads deployed on long-range missiles, bombers and submarines.

New START is Too Important for Partisan Games

If the House NDAA provisions to tie up New START were to become law, Russia would likely halt its nuclear reductions as well, risking the treaty's collapse. This would allow Moscow to rebuild its nuclear forces above the treaty ceiling of 1,550 deployed strategic warheads and increase the number of nuclear weapons aimed at the United States.

Moreover, the inspection system established under the treaty could collapse, depriving the U.S. of crucial data exchanges and on-site inspections of Russian forces, undermining transparency and strategic stability.

Rep. Turner and his allies complain that the administration's $7.6 billion request for NNSA weapons activities for  FY2013 is 4 percent lower than projected in 2010, during the New START debate in the Senate.

But they ignore the reality that the FY2013 request is actually 5 percent higher than the 2012 enacted budget. Rather than a breach of faith, this year's NNSA request represents a healthy increase in the face of fiscal pressures imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act.

No Need to Rush New Plutonium Lab

The main issue of contention is a plutonium laboratory, called the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) Facility, to be built at Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico, which the administration deferred for at least five years.

However, far from being upset that the administration was not seeking CMRR funds this year, the House Appropriations Committee complained that the facility should have been shelved sooner.

"By not fully considering all available options, millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent for work which will not be needed until a much later date," the Republican-led appropriations committee wrote about CMRR on April 24.

Even so, Rep. Turner and company warn that without CMRR, the U.S. does not have the capability to make 50 to 80 newly produced plutonium cores or "pits" annually for refurbished warheads.

Their bill would authorize $100 million more for the facility next year, call on DoD to cover future costs and stipulate that it is built no later than 2024 (sections 2804-2805).

The reality, however, is that there is no identified need to produce that many plutonium pits. NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino testified to Congress on April 17 that the U.S. does not need CMRR to maintain an effective stockpile. "That's great news for the country, because we're not forced into making rash decisions on significant investments in a very short period of time. So we have time to evaluate this area," D'Agostino said.

With cost estimates for CMRR skyrocketing from $600 million to $6 billion, the delay is a reasonable response to tight budgets given that other NNSA facilities have "inherent capacity" to support ongoing and future plutonium activities, according to NNSA. CMRR deferral will not compromise NNSA's ability to maintain the nuclear stockpile.

East Coast Missile Interceptor Site is Premature

The House bill also includes a $460 million increase for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) program, including $100 million to study a strategic ballistic missile interceptor site on the East Coast (section 223). This would be in addition to the two sites already built in California and Alaska at a combined cost of $30 billion. The Congressional Budget Office said this new project would cost $3.6 billion over five years, which is likely a conservative estimate.

The Pentagon did not request funding for an East Coast site and does not want it. "In my military judgment, the program of record for ballistic missile defense for the homeland, as we've submitted it, is adequate and sufficient to the task," Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a Pentagon news briefing last Thursday. "So I don't see a need beyond what we've submitted in the last budget."

The White House said the proposal is "premature because the Administration has not identified a requirement for a third U.S.-based missile defense site, nor assessed the feasibility or cost in a cost-constrained environment."

Moreover, the Obama administration is already building an interceptor system in Europe, known as the Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA), to handle potential attacks from Iran, which has yet to deploy long-range missiles that could reach the United States.

The performance of the West Coast GMD system should give pause before deploying a similar one on the East Coast. The GMD system has not had a successful intercept test against since 2008, with two failures in 2010.

According to a recent National Research Council report, which has been misleadingly referenced in support of a near-term East Coast site, the GMD system "has serious shortcomings, and provides at best a limited, initial defense against a relatively primitive threat." Moreover, the GMD system has not been proven effective against a realistic target including decoys.

Building a costly third site for a GMD system that is ineffective and designed to counter a long-range missile threat that may not materialize for many years is not in the best interests of U.S. national security.

Time to Stop Playing Games

It is time to stop playing political games with U.S. nuclear weapons policy. Continued, verified reductions of excessive U.S. and Russian arsenals will enhance U.S. security by reducing the nuclear threat.

As the Pentagon said in January, "It is possible that our deterrence goals can be achieved with a smaller nuclear force, which would reduce the number of nuclear weapons in our inventory, as well as their role in U.S. national security strategy."

Today, Gen. James E. Cartwright, the retired vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and commander of U.S. nuclear forces in the George W. Bush administration, said that U.S. deterrence requirements could be achieved with a total arsenal of 900 strategic nuclear warheads, with only half of them deployed.

A smaller nuclear force would also save money.

The major threats the U.S. faces today, such as proliferation, terrorism or cyber attacks, cannot be addressed by nuclear arms. Rather than demanding American taxpayers cough up yet more money for a new nuclear facility that we don't need, Congress needs to focus on more cost-effective solutions that address the nation's future defense needs.--Daryl G. Kimball and Tom Z. Collina

Note: An earlier version of essay appeared in the May 12, 012 issue of Defense News.

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The Arms Control Association (ACA) is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing information and practical policy solutions to address the dangers posed by the world's most dangerous weapons. ACA publishes the monthly journal, Arms Control Today

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Volume 3, Issue 8, May 16, 2012

This week, the House of Representatives will debate and vote on the annual defense authorization bill, which in its current form would hold up implementation of the 2010 New START Treaty unless Congress increases spending on nuclear weapons activities that the Pentagon did not request and does not want.

Country Resources:

Updating Nonproliferation Criteria for U.S. Nuclear Trade

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By Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director Arms Control Association

Prepared Comments for Nonproliferation Policy Education Center and the Foreign Policy Initiative Forum on
“Tightening Nuclear Nonproliferation Rules: What Congress’ Role Should Be”
May 16, 2012

Since the beginning of the nuclear age, efforts to exploit nuclear technology for energy and for profit have complicated the task of reducing the nuclear weapons threat.

The 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) grants states the “right” to pursue nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, so long as states forswear nuclear weapons and comply with safeguards against the diversion of nuclear technology and materials for weapons purposes. The NPT also obliges the nuclear weapon states not to assist—directly or indirectly—other states’ with the pursuit of nuclear weapons.

The United States has long sought to improve international safeguards standards and prevent the spread of the most sensitive dual-use nuclear technologies—particularly enrichment and reprocessing technologies.

The U.S. Atomic Energy Act (AEA) and the 1978 amendments have set an important global benchmarks for the terms under the United States and others should enter into peaceful nuclear cooperation agreements. And as matter of policy, the United States has sought to prevent the transfer of enrichment or reprocessing technology, which can be used to make nuclear bomb material.

With renewed interest in nuclear energy and the possibility that still more states may wish to pursue enrichment or reprocessing capabilities, it is time to:

  • update the U.S. standards for civil nuclear trade to raise the barriers against proliferation, and
  • ensure that those standards apply to all states with whom we negotiate or renegotiate so-called 123 agreements.

The current policies of the Barack Obama administration to pursue nuclear cooperation agreement on a case-by-case basis creates an uneven set of standards and a mixed-message that undermines the administration’s own efforts to establish tougher nonproliferation rules that apply to all states.

The administration is currently engaged in discussions with several states on possible bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements, seeking somewhat different nonproliferation standards and guarantees with each. That is a mistake.

With the ill-conceived U.S.-Indian civil nuclear cooperation deal, we have already seen how the exemption created for India from the global nonproliferation rules has given others a cynical excuse to break the rules and lobby for their own exemptions. And we have seen no new action by India to improve its nonproliferation and disarmament record as a result.

It is time to reconsider and pursue a better way for future nuclear cooperation deals.

H.R. 1280, authored by Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Howard Berman, Brad Sherman and others, offers a very useful way forward.

It is not perfect, but it is something the administration should support and work with Congress to improve.

The bill would add several new requirements to the nine key requirements already in Section 123 of the AEA.[i] Among the most important new requirements that would be added are:

  • the application of the IAEA additional protocol. Dozens of states have not yet approved an additional protocol, including Algeria, Egypt, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia, whose ambassador to Washington recently threatened that his country would build nuclear weapons if Iran does; and
  • a pledge not to acquire enrichment or reprocessing capabilities/facilities.

I would also suggest that the bill should be strengthened by:

  • clarifying that the recipient state must allow for the application of its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement (CSA) under the terms of the most up-to-date IAEA revisions, which today are known as code 3.1. Why is this important? Some states, including Iran, have a CSA in place but don’t allow IAEA to operate under the updated code 3.1 revisions;
  • requiring termination of U.S. nuclear cooperation in the event the recipient state conducts a nuclear test explosion, is found to be in violation of its IAEA safeguards obligations, or acquires enrichment or reprocessing equipment from sources other than the United States.

H.R. 1280 would not require that states renounce their option to pursue enrichment or reprocessing—which some refuse to do because they claim it is their right under the NPT to do so—but would incentivize those that do by “fast tracking” the Congressional review and approval process for civil nuclear cooperation agreements with countries that meet the new and higher set of standards, including a no enrichment or reprocessing pledge, as the United Arab Emirates has done.

Agreements with states that cannot meet the higher set of standards would be subject to a more rigorous process requiring affirmative Congressional approval.

Article IV of the NPT may, in the view of some states, give them a “right” to pursue peaceful nuclear technology, but the United States also has a right, an NPT responsibility, and an interest not to engage in civil nuclear trade that don’t meet a higher set of standards than those spelled out in the 1968 NPT.

Some nuclear energy industry lobbyists suggest that because states will not want to give up their option to pursue enrichment or reprocessing in the future, H.R. 1280, if enacted, would drive these countries seek nuclear commerce from other nuclear suppliers and put U.S. firms at a competitive disadvantage.

That’s farfetched and it suggests that we should lower the bar against proliferation in order to simply give them a perceived competitive edge.

H.R. 1280 is a very reasonable and common sense approach that would simply put into U.S. law the standards that all nuclear supplier states have already agreed are essential to preventing future proliferation.

In addition, the new and important NSG rule adopted in June 2011—that bars enrichment and reporcessing technology transfers to states without CSAs, have not joined the NPT, do not have an additional protocol in force, or to states in proliferation sensitive regions—makes it highly unlikely that other nuclear suppliers can even offer to transfer enrichment or reprocessing technology or equipment to these states.

For instance even in the case of India, which is actively seeking more advanced enrichment and reprocessing technology and which could use it for its nuclear weapons program, cannot obtain such technology from the U.S., France or Russia under the new NSG rule.

If we are to succeed in limiting the number of states capable of producing nuclear bomb material, all states must be willing to provide responsible leadership and restraint. In the near future, there is no economic rationale for new states to enter the civil uranium-enrichment or plutonium-separation arena.

It is time for the Congress to act and for the Obama administration to provide pragmatic input rather than stiff resistance to this bill, which is fully consistent with the President’s broader nonproliferation strategy and goals.

 


 

ENDNOTE

[i] Section 123(a) lists nine criteria that an agreement must meet unless the President determines an exemption is necessary. These include guarantees that:

  • Safeguards on transferred nuclear material and equipment continue in perpetuity;
  • Full-scope IAEA safeguards are applied in non-nuclear weapon states;
  • Nothing transferred is used for any nuclear explosive device or for any other military purpose, except in the case of cooperation agreements with nuclear weapon states, in which the United States has the right to demand the return of transferred nuclear materials and equipment, as well as any special nuclear material produced through their use, if the cooperating state detonates a nuclear explosive device, or terminates or abrogates its IAEA safeguards agreement;
  • There is no retransfer of material or classified data without U.S. consent;
  • Physical security on nuclear material is maintained;
  • There is no enrichment or reprocessing by the recipient state of transferred nuclear material or nuclear material produced with materials or facilities transferred pursuant to the agreement without prior approval;
  • Storage for transferred plutonium and highly enriched uranium is approved in advance by the United States; and
  • Any material or facility produced or constructed through use of special nuclear technology transferred under the cooperation agreement is subject to all of the above requirements.
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Prepared Comments by Daryl G. Kimball for Nonproliferation Policy Education Center and the Foreign Policy Initiative Forum on “Tightening Nuclear Nonproliferation Rules: What Congress’ Role Should Be”
May 16, 2012

Country Resources:

More Money for Yesterday's Weapons?

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Volume 3, Issue 7, May 8, 2012

 

 

Tomorrow, the House Armed Services Committee is scheduled to approve its version of the fiscal year (FY) 2013 defense authorization bill. Committee chair Buck McKeon (R-Cal.) and strategic forces chair Michael Turner (R-Ohio) are expected to add $3.7 billion more than the Defense Department requested. This includes hundreds of millions of dollars for nuclear weapons and missile defense programs that the military does not want and the nation cannot afford.

Meanwhile, in response to the bipartisan Budget Control Act, the Pentagon is trying to reduce spending growth by $487 billion over the next decade and faces an additional cut of $500 billion unless the sequestration time bomb can be defused by the end of the year.

Reps. Turner and McKeon's proposals to spend more on unneeded projects will eventually take limited resources away from defense programs the nation needs to address real 21st century security threats.

We Don't Need to Rush to Build an Expensive New Plutonium Lab

 

Rep. McKeon's draft defense authorization bill released on Monday includes $100 million for a new plutonium laboratory, called the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) Facility, to be built at Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico.

There is already bipartisan agreement to delay CMRR. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) did not request any funds for CMRR and deferred construction for at least five years. The Pentagon does not support the facility, nor does the GOP-led House Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee.

In fact, the Appropriations Subcommittee complained that the facility should have been shelved sooner. "By not fully considering all available options, millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent for work which will not be needed until a much later date," the subcommittee wrote about CMRR on April 24.

NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino testified in April that the United States does not currently need CMRR to maintain an effective stockpile. "That's great news for the country because we're not forced into making rash decisions on significant investments in a very short period of time. So we have time to evaluate this area," he said.

With cost estimates for CMRR skyrocketing from $600 million to $6 billion, the delay is a reasonable response to tight budgets given that other NNSA facilities have "inherent capacity" to support ongoing and future plutonium activities, according to NNSA.

The FY2013 NNSA budget request represents a healthy 5% increase despite fiscal pressures imposed by the Budget Control Act and the House Appropriations Committee's decision last year to cut the program. This year, the committee did not add additional funds above the administration's $7.6 billion request.

Further increases in the NNSA budget for the CMRR lab are out of step and are not necessary to maintain the existing U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.

But We Do Need New START

 

Compounding the misguided effort to restore CMRR funding, Rep. Turner is expected to try to block implementation of the 2010 New START Treaty unless the funding is provided.

Blocking U.S. implementation of New START, as Rep. Turner's bill  H.R. 4178 threatens to do, would likely result in Russia doing the same. The treaty would unravel, allowing Moscow to rebuild its forces above treaty ceilings and increase the number of nuclear weapons aimed at the United States. Moreover, the inspection system established under the treaty could collapse, depriving the United States of crucial data exchanges and on-site inspections of Russian forces that the U.S. intelligence community depends on for its assessments.

Such outcomes are clearly not in the U.S. national security interest. Yet Rep. Turner would put New START at risk--ignoring the will of the 71 senators who voted for it--to extort additional spending on nuclear weapons that is unsustainable and unnecessary, and that the Pentagon and key members of his own party do not support.

New START remains in the U.S. national interest because the treaty reduces the threat to the United States from Russian nuclear forces, and the administration has managed to save money in FY2013 while still achieving its goal of modernizing the nuclear arsenal and production complex.

East Coast Strategic Missile Interceptor Site?

 

Rep. McKeon's bill includes a $460 million increase for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) program, including $100 million to study a missile defense site on the East Coast. This would be in addition to the two sites already built in California and Alaska at a combined cost of $30 billion.

The Pentagon did not request this funding and does not want it. Gen. Charles Jacoby Jr., commander of the U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace and Defense Command, testified during a Senate hearing in March that, "today's threats do not require an East Coast missile field, and we do not have plans to do so."

Moreover, the Obama administration is already building an interceptor system in Europe, known as the Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA), to handle attacks from Iran, which has yet to deploy long-range missiles that could reach the United States.

The performance of the West Coast GMD system should give us pause before deploying a similar one on the East Coast. The GMD system has not had a successful intercept test against a cooperative target since 2008, with two failures in 2010. According to a recent National Research Council report, the GMD system "has serious shortcomings, and provides at best a limited, initial defense against a relatively primitive threat." Moreover, the GMD system has not been tested against a realistic target including decoys.

Building a costly third site for a GMD system that is ineffective and designed to counter a long-range missile threat that may not materialize for many years is not in the best interests of U.S. national or economic security.

We Don't Need 12 New Strategic Nuclear Subs

 

Rep. McKeon's bill also includes an increase of up to $347 million for the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine replacement program, known as the SSBNX. The Navy did not request this money, and instead wants to delay the program by two years.

By accelerating the SSBNX program, Rep. McKeon hopes to prevent the U.S. strategic submarine fleet from dropping from 12 to 10 operational subs around 2030, and the Seapower subcommittee would require the Navy to maintain a minimum of 12 subs. But in reality the United States has no need for 12 subs and could safely make do with eight--and would save at least $18 billion over ten years by doing so.

Just one U.S. Ohio-class submarine, currently armed with 96 nuclear warheads, could kill millions.

From a national security perspective, a shift to eight strategic submarines would provide a more than adequate nuclear deterrent. Under New START, the Pentagon plans to deploy approximately 1,000 nuclear warheads on strategic submarines. Eight fully armed Ohio-class or SSBNX submarines can meet this target. Therefore, a shift to eight operational submarines would not affect the Pentagon's planned warhead deployment levels.

This budget-saving approach takes advantage of the excess capacity that currently exists on each D-5 missile (which is designed to hold eight warheads but is currently loaded with four or five). Although each missile and submarine would carry more warheads under this plan, the submarines-unlike land-based missiles-would still be invulnerable to attack when deployed at sea.

An Office of Management and Budget (OMB) analysis in November 2011 reportedly recommended that the Navy should purchase only 10 submarines and increase the number of missile tubes from 16 to 20 on each boat. Congress has directed the Navy to prepare a report on more economical options for the new fleet, to be completed by mid-2012.

Time to Stop Playing Games

 

While the Defense Department is seeking reasonable ways to trim spending, Reps. McKeon and Turner are telling the military to spend millions on nuclear weapons and missile defense programs that the Pentagon does not want. This makes no sense, particularly when the Pentagon is trying to reduce spending by $487 billion over the next decade and sequestration looms. The days of ever-increasing defense budgets are over.

In particular, future nuclear force reductions cannot be held hostage to annual congressional debates about the defense budget. It remains in the U.S. national security interest to verifiably reduce excess Cold War U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals.

As the Pentagon's January 2012 strategy document Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense says: "It is possible that our deterrence goals can be achieved with a smaller nuclear force, which would reduce the number of nuclear weapons in our inventory as well as their role in U.S. national security strategy."

The major threats the United States faces today, such as proliferation, terrorism or cyber attacks, cannot be addressed by nuclear arms. Rather than asking American taxpayers to cough up yet more money for yesterday's weapons, Congress needs to focus on more cost-effective solutions that address the nation's future defense needs.--Tom Z. Collina and Daryl G. Kimball

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The Arms Control Association (ACA) is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing information and practical policy solutions to address the dangers posed by the world's most dangerous weapons. ACA publishes the monthly journal, Arms Control Today

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Volume 3, Issue 7, May 8, 2012

 

 

Tomorrow, the House Armed Services Committee is scheduled to approve its version of the fiscal year (FY) 2013 defense authorization bill. Committee chair Buck McKeon (R-Cal.) and strategic forces chair Michael Turner (R-Ohio) are expected to add $3.7 billion more than the Defense Department requested. This includes hundreds of millions of dollars for nuclear weapons and missile defense programs that the military does not want and the nation cannot afford.

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In Memoriam: Stanley R. Resor (1917–2012)

Daryl G. Kimball

Stanley Rogers Resor, who served as a soldier, lawyer, secretary of the Army, arms control negotiator, and chairman of the Arms Control Association (ACA) Board of Directors, died April 17 at his home in Washington, D.C., at the age of 94. Stan touched the lives of many over the course of his long and illustrious career.

Resor was raised in New York and Connecticut by his parents, Stanley B. and Helen L. Resor, who were both prominent advertising executives. Stan, however, chose to become a lawyer.

His law career was put on hold, however, while he served as an officer in the Army’s 10th Armored Division, which saw action in Europe and was engaged in the Battle of the Bulge and siege of Bastogne, where Resor was wounded. Among other honors, Resor was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and the Purple Heart.

After the war, Resor rejoined Jane Pillsbury, whom he had married in 1942. They raised seven sons in New Canaan, Connecticut, and Washington. Jane died in 1994.

After receiving his law degree from Yale in 1946, Resor joined the New York law firm of Debevoise and Plimpton. In March 1965, President Lyndon Johnson appointed Resor undersecretary of the Army; later that year, he was named secretary of the Army. He remained in that post under President Richard Nixon, until June 1971.

As Army secretary, Resor was primarily responsible for the soldiers’ welfare and the challenges of the growing force during the escalation of the U.S. war in Vietnam. He helped develop a plan for replacing draftees with an all-volunteer Army by 1973, although he expressed concern that it could lead the United States into more wars. In 1970, Resor was the first service chief to promote female officers to the general officer rank. In 1971 he moved to end discrimination against African-American soldiers in off-base housing.

Resor did not always see eye-to-eye with his superiors on the conduct of the war in Vietnam. Following the massacre of nearly 500 unarmed civilians at My Lai on March 16, 1968, Resor ordered an investigation and pursued the prosecution of dozens of U.S. soldiers involved. Over Resor’s protests, Nixon succeeded in persuading the CIA to refuse to allow its agents to testify as witnesses, and key congressional leaders denied the prosecution access to the testimony of other key witnesses by putting it under security classification. This forced the Army to drop the charges for all but Lt. William Calley, who was found guilty but was pardoned in 1974.

A few weeks before his resignation on May 23, 1971, Resor expressed doubts about the war in Vietnam in an interview with reporters. He said, “I think it is clear now in hindsight that the cost[s] of Vietnam…were not anticipated, or at least were underestimated. We have learned as we’ve gone. We came to a much more mature recognition that…not just military power but a strategy involving economic and political measures was necessary.”

In 1971, Resor resumed his law practice, but was soon called upon to lead negotiations with the Soviets on conventional arms reductions in Europe. From 1973 to 1978, he served with the rank of ambassador to the Mutual and Balanced Force Reduction (MBFR) talks in Vienna.

NATO’s initial proposals called for phased removal of soldiers with a limit of 700,000 ground forces and 200,000 air forces combined. The Warsaw Pact countered that the two sides should reduce troop levels proportionally rather than to an equal level and that military equipment, including nuclear-capable aircraft, should also be reduced. Progress stalled over estimates of Warsaw Pact forces and the decision in 1979 to deploy U.S. intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe.

Although concrete limitations on forces were not achieved through the MBFR talks, which continued through the 1980s, the process deepened the East-West security dialogue and laid the groundwork for the 1990 Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty. Following his work on the MBFR talks, Resor served briefly as undersecretary of defense for policy under Harold Brown from 1978 to 1979.

In 1979, Resor rejoined Debevoise and Plimpton and became concerned about the worsening trajectory of U.S.-Soviet relations and the nuclear arms race. He joined the ACA board in 1983. Following his retirement from law practice, he served as ACA board chairman from 1992 to 2000 and was an outspoken advocate of verifiable, mutual nuclear arms reductions.

During his time on the board, Resor mentored dozens of ACA staff and oversaw the significant expansion of ACA’s program and policy work. In 1997 he enlisted the support of 50 military and diplomatic experts for a joint letter to President Bill Clinton opposing the expansion of NATO as needlessly provocative to Russia. Over the past decade, he continued his lifelong interest in international security. He remained a steadfast friend of ACA and holds the unofficial record for best attendance at ACA events.

Resor is survived by his second wife, Louise Mead Walker—an arms control advocate in her own right—his sister Helen Hauge, his seven sons and seven daughters-in-law, 20 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Stanley Rogers Resor, who served as a soldier, lawyer, secretary of the Army, arms control negotiator, and chairman of the Arms Control Association (ACA) Board of Directors, died April 17 at his home in Washington, D.C., at the age of 94. Stan touched the lives of many over the course of his long and illustrious career.

Iran Nuclear Diplomacy: Still the Best Option

Daryl G. Kimball

After a long delay, serious negotiations to resolve concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its growing capacity to enrich uranium appear to be back on track. Although no breakthrough was achieved, the April 14 round of talks with Iran in Istanbul established a good foundation for progress.

At the close of the talks, which involved senior officials from China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—the so-called P5+1—EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the two sides will hold expert-level talks and then will meet at the senior political level in Baghdad on May 23. Future political and technical talks, she said, will be guided by the “principle of a step-by-step approach and reciprocity.”

Now the task is to reach agreement on specific, concrete proposals that can help prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, beginning with the most urgent proliferation problems. The top priority must be to halt Iran’s accumulation of 20 percent-enriched uranium, which is above normal reactor grade and closer to weapons grade, in exchange for fuel assemblies for its Tehran Research Reactor, which Iran uses to produce medical isotopes for cancer treatment.

Further uranium enrichment at this level has the potential for significantly shortening the time Tehran would require to build nuclear weapons if it decided to break out of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. A deal to halt enrichment above normal fuel grade would provide negotiators with more time and space to address other key issues.

If Iran received a fuel reload for the Tehran reactor, its needs for medical isotope production would be met for the next decade. Such an arrangement would also establish a principle that Iran would not enrich beyond normal power-reactor grade of about 4 percent as a first step toward restricting Iran’s nuclear program to peaceful uses. The principle that Iran would enrich only according to its power reactor fuel needs could serve as a basis for a deal to limit the size and scope of its enrichment program as a whole.

In the next phase of talks, Washington and its allies also must press Iran to improve cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) by fully implementing its safeguards agreement, intended to verify that its program is peaceful. In addition, Tehran finally must answer long-standing questions about suspected nuclear weapons-related research prior to 2004.

Further transparency measures would reduce the risk of clandestine nuclear work outside of Iran’s declared nuclear facilities, which include its uranium-enrichment plants at Natanz and Fordow, as well as a heavy-water reactor now being built near Arak that could be used to produce plutonium for bombs. In recent weeks, the agency and Iran have been haggling over the IAEA’s proposed work plan to address these issues, with Iran seeking limits on the IAEA’s access.

It is past time for Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his team to provide the transparency necessary to ensure that his fatwa “forbidding the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons” is genuine.

If these and other confidence-building steps are taken, the P5+1 could offer to delay the imposition of a European oil embargo, which is due to be fully in place by July 1.

Iran’s approach to the recent talks, which was more serious than at the previous talks 15 months ago, is a result of the international sanctions and diplomatic pressure on Iran, which are now at an all-time high. As a result, both sides appear to be better prepared to discuss pragmatic proposals to resolve the crisis.

The new momentum for diplomacy should quell loose talk about the “military option,” which would be ineffective and counterproductive. Air strikes on Iranian facilities would set back Iran’s program for no more than a couple of years, convince its leaders to pursue nuclear weapons openly, and lead to adverse economic and security consequences.

Nevertheless, some cynics and critics of the diplomatic option already are complaining that further negotiations only allow Iran to “buy time” for its nuclear pursuits. Such thinking is illogical and dangerous.

Iran’s position is not any better than it was before the talks. International and national sanctions will remain in place until Tehran takes the steps necessary to give other countries confidence it is not pursuing nuclear weapons. If Washington and its P5+1 partners do not seize the potential diplomatic opportunities, the international support necessary to maintain pressure on Iran will erode, and Iran no longer will be seen as the roadblock to a peaceful resolution.

Resolving the nuclear issue will require sufficient pressure and inducements to convince Iran’s current and future leaders they stand to gain more from forgoing nuclear weapons than from any decision to build them. Much more needs to be done, but serious, sustained diplomacy remains the best option on the table. ACT

After a long delay, serious negotiations to resolve concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its growing capacity to enrich uranium appear to be back on track. Although no breakthrough was achieved, the April 14 round of talks with Iran in Istanbul established a good foundation for progress.

Op-Ed: Iran nuclear talks: To keep global support, US must seize diplomatic opportunities

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By Daryl G. Kimball

The following piece was originally published in The Christian Science Monitor on April 23, 2012.

Talks between Iran and the P5+1 in Istanbul April 14 show that negotiations aimed at addressing Tehran's nuclear ambitions appear to be on track. Diplomatic momentum should quell loose talk about the 'military option.' The top priority now must be to halt Iran's uranium enrichment.

After a long delay, serious negotiations to resolve concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its growing capacity to enrich uranium appear to be back on track. Though no breakthrough was achieved, the April 14 round of talks with Iran in Istanbul established a good foundation for progress.

    At the close of the talks involving senior officials from the United StatesBritainChinaFranceGermany, and Russia, the European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the two sides will hold expert-level talks and then will meet again at the senior political level in Baghdad on May 23. Future political and technical talks, she said, will be guided by the “principle of a step-by-step approach and reciprocity.”

    Now the task is to reach agreement on specific, concrete proposals that can help prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, beginning with the most urgent proliferation problems. The top priority must be to halt Iran’s accumulation of 20 percent-enriched uranium – which is above normal fuel-grade and closer to weapons grade – in exchange for fuel assemblies for its Tehran Research Reactor, which Iran uses to produce medical isotopes for cancer treatment.

    Further uranium enrichment at these levels has the potential to significantly shorten the time Tehran would require to build nuclear weapons if it decided to break out of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. A deal to halt enrichment above normal fuel grade would provide negotiators with more time and space to address other key issues.

    If Iran received fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, its needs for medical-isotope production would be met for the next decade. Such an arrangement would also establish a principle that Iran would not enrich beyond normal-reactor grade of about 4 percent as a first step toward restricting Iran’s nuclear program to peaceful uses.

    The principle that Iran would only enrich according to its fuel needs could serve as a basis for a deal to limit the size and scope of its enrichment program as a whole.

    In the next phase of talks, Washington and its allies must press Iran to improve cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Iran must fully implement its safeguards agreement intended to verify that its program is peaceful. It must finally answer longstanding questions about suspected nuclear weapons-related research prior to 2003.

    Further transparency measures would reduce the risk of clandestine nuclear work outside of Iran’s declared nuclear facilities. Those facilities include its uranium enrichment plants at Natanz and Fordow, as well as a heavy water reactor now being built near Arak that could be used to produce plutonium for bombs.

      The IAEA and Iran have been haggling over the IAEA’s plan to address these issues in recent weeks, with Iran seeking limits on access. It is past time for Iran’s supreme leader and his team to provide the transparency necessary to ensure that his religious fatwa against nuclear weapons is genuine.

      If these and other confidence building steps are taken, the international negotiators could offer to delay the imposition of a European oil embargo, due to begin in July.

      In contrast to the last round of talks held 15 months ago, the more serious Iranian approach at the recent talks is a result of the international sanctions and diplomatic pressure on Iran, which is now at an all-time high. As a result, both sides are coming forward with more pragmatic proposals.

      The new momentum for diplomacy should quell loose talk about the so-called military option, which would be ineffective and counterproductive. Air strikes on Iran’s facilities would set back Iran’s program for no more than a couple of years, convince its leaders to pursue nuclear weapons openly, and lead to adverse economic and security consequences.

      Nevertheless, some cynics and critics of the diplomatic option will undoubtedly complain that further negotiations with Iran only allow Iran to ‘buy time’ for nefarious nuclear pursuits. Such thinking is illogical and dangerous.

      The reality is that international and national sanctions will remain in place until Iran takes the steps necessary to provide confidence it is not pursuing nuclear weapons. And if Washington and its negotiation partners do not seize the potential diplomatic opportunities, the international support necessary to maintain pressure on Iran will erode.

      Resolving the nuclear issue will require sufficient pressure and inducements to convince Iran’s current and future leaders they stand to gain more from forgoing nuclear weapons than from any decision to build them. Much more needs to be done, but serious, sustained diplomacy remains the best option on the table.

      Description: 

      After a long delay, serious negotiations to resolve concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its growing capacity to enrich uranium appear to be back on track. Though no breakthrough was achieved, the April 14 round of talks with Iran in Istanbulestablished a good foundation for progress.

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      Holding New START Hostage

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      Volume 3, Issue 6, April 20, 2012

      In the next few weeks, the Republican leadership on the House Armed Services Committee is expected to try to block implementation of the New START Treaty unless the Obama administration agrees to further increase spending on the U.S. nuclear weapons infrastructure. This type of partisan "hostage taking" threatens to undermine U.S. national security, ignores budget reality, and defies common sense.

      Blocking U.S. implementation of New START, as Strategic Forces Subcommittee chairman Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio)'s bill H.R. 4178 threatens to do, would likely result in Russia doing the same. The treaty would unravel, allowing Moscow to rebuild its forces above treaty levels and increase the number of nuclear weapons aimed at the United States. Moreover, the inspection system established under the treaty could collapse, depriving the United States of crucial data exchanges and on-site inspections of Russian forces.

      Such outcomes are clearly not in the U.S. national security interest. Yet Rep. Turner would put New START at risk--ignoring the will of the 71 senators who voted for it--to extort additional spending on nuclear weapons that is unsustainable and unnecessary, and that key members of his own party do not support.

      Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) added his voice to the debate with an April 17 letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee stating that "if modernization efforts to ensure the safety, security and reliability of a smaller stockpile are not sustained, then further reductions to the stockpile should not be considered" until New START expires in 2021. However, modernization efforts are being sustained, with increased spending in FY2013.

      Both Sen. Lieberman's and Rep. Turner's proposals to hold New START and future arms reductions hostage are all pain, no gain.

      Nuclear Weapons Funding is Sufficient

      Critics often point out that the administration's FY2013 $7.6 billion request for National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) weapons activities is 4% lower than projected in 2010, during the New START debate in the Senate. What they tend to ignore is that the FY2013 request is actually 5% higher than the 2012 enacted budget.

      Rather than a breach of faith, as Rep. Turner sees it, the FY2013 NNSA request represents a healthy increase despite fiscal pressures imposed by the bipartisan 2011 Budget Control Act and the GOP-led House Appropriations Committee's failure to fully fund the program last year. In fact, the Energy and Water Development Subcommittee marked up its FY2013 budget this week and did not add additional funds above the administration's $7.6 billion request.

      Given the new fiscal environment, congress cannot expect two-year-old budget projections to remain valid. As Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) put it in March, the New START debate took place "nine months before the Budget Control Act became law," and thus "falling 4 percent short of the [2010-derived] target is reasonable given the fiscal reality facing us today."

      Bipartisan Agreement: We Don't Need CMRR Now

      The administration's FY2013 NNSA weapons activities budget request contains no funding for the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) Facility, to be built for plutonium research at Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico, and deferred work for at least five years.

      For FY2012, the House Appropriations Committee cut CMRR by $100 million, or 33 percent, indicating bipartisan concern about the need for CMRR.

      As House Energy and Water Subcommittee Chair Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) said last June:"Yes, 'Weapons Activities' is below the President's request, but this request included hundreds of millions of dollars for construction projects that are not ready to move forward, capabilities that are secondary to the primary mission of keeping our stockpile ready, and, yes, slush funds that the administration has historically used to address its needs...The recommendation before you eliminates these weaknesses and it is responsible."

      For FY2013, the House Energy and Water Subcommittee has so far not provided any money for CMRR.

      With total cost estimates for CMRR skyrocketing to $6 billion, the delay is a reasonable response to tight budgets given that other NNSA facilities have "inherent capacity" to support ongoing and future plutonium activities, according to NNSA. As a result, the CMRR deferral will not compromise NNSA's ability to maintain the nuclear stockpile.

      When asked at a February hearing if the FY2013 budget request fully meets the requirements to maintain the nuclear stockpile, NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino said: "...it absolutely does, fully meets the requirements, and we'll be able to take care of the stockpile... So the stockpile is safe, secure, and reliable."

      Air Force Gen. Robert Kehler, Commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, testified before the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee April 17, that "I wouldn't want to suggest that the [nuclear] force that's deployed today is not safe, secure and effective. It is. I believe it can achieve its deterrence responsibilities as we sit there today. In fact, I'm extremely confident in that."

      Charles McMillan, director of Los Alamos lab where CMRR would be built, told congress April 18 that the decision to defer CMRR "leaves the United States with no known capability to make 50 to 80 newly-produced pits on the timescales planned for stockpile modernization."

      The reality, however, is that there is no identified need to produce that many plutonium pits and the nation has time to evaluate its options.

      D'Agostino testified April 17 that "We're not hampered by saying the nation has to have a capability right now to make 50 or 80 pits per year in order to take care of the stockpile. That's great news for the country because we're not forced into making rash decisions on significant investments in a very short period of time. So we have time to evaluate this area."

      Assistant Defense Secretary for Global Strategic Affairs Madelyn Creedon testified April 17 that CMRR's planned production capacity would be revisited. She said, "what is the future pit requirement, how big CMRR has to be, how much plutonium it has to hold -- those are all decisions that may in fact change...when we once again resume consideration of the funding and the design of the CMRR."

      New START Resolution of Approval Provides the Path Forward

      In addition to being misguided, Rep. Turner's bill is unnecessary because the December 2010 New START Resolution of Advice and Consent already provides recourse. The resolution's condition 9 declared a "sense of the Senate" that the United States is committed to providing the resources needed to maintain nuclear weapons at the levels "set forth in the President's 10-year plan provided to the Congress pursuant to section 1251 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (Public Law 111-84)," otherwise know as the 1251 report.

      Just in case Congress did not provide sufficient resources in the future, condition 9 of the resolution of ratification states that the President shall submit a report detailing how the administration would address the resource shortfall; the proposed level of funding required; the impact of the shortfall on the safety, reliability, and performance of U.S. nuclear forces; and whether "it remains in the national interest of the United States to remain a Party to the New START Treaty."

      It is the responsibility of Congress to fund programs, and Congress did not fully fund the administration's request for 1251 report activities in FY2012, nor is it likely to add money in FY2013. The Pentagon said in March that it intends to submit the condition 9 report soon on how to deal with the shortfall and on the value of remaining a party to New START.

      New START Still In U.S. Interests

      New START remains in the U.S. national interest because the treaty reduces the threat to the United States from Russian nuclear forces, and the administration has managed to save money in FY2013 while still achieving its goal of modernizing the nuclear arsenal and production complex.

      Future nuclear force reductions cannot be held hostage to annual congressional debates about the particulars of each and every component of the NNSA budget, which is higher than it was before negotiations on New START began. It remains in the U.S. national security interest to verifiably reduce excess Cold War U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals.

      As the Pentagon's January 2012 strategy document Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense says: "It is possible that our deterrence goals can be achieved with a smaller nuclear force, which would reduce the number of nuclear weapons in our inventory as well as their role in U.S. national security strategy." It would also save money.

      The major threats the United States faces today, such as proliferation, terrorism or cyber attacks, cannot be addressed by nuclear arms. Rather than asking American taxpayers to cough up yet more money for yesterday's weapons, Congress needs to focus on more cost-effective solutions that address the nation's future defense needs.--Tom Z. Collina and Daryl G. Kimball

      ###

      The Arms Control Association (ACA) is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing information and practical policy solutions to address the dangers posed by the world's most dangerous weapons. ACA publishes the monthly journal, Arms Control Today.

      Description: 

      Volume 3, Issue 6, April 20, 2012

      In the next few weeks, the Republican leadership on the House Armed Services Committee is expected to try to block implementation of the New START Treaty unless the Obama administration agrees to further increase spending on the U.S. nuclear weapons infrastructure. This type of partisan "hostage taking" threatens to undermine U.S. national security, ignores budget reality, and defies common sense.

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