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"ACA's journal, Arms Control Today, remains the best in the market. Well focused. Solidly researched. Prudent."

– Hans Blix
Former IAEA Director-General
Daryl G. Kimball

Marking the International Day Against Nuclear Tests

Today is the official International Day Against Nuclear Tests , established in 2009 on the anniversary of the closure of the main former Soviet test site of Semipalatinsk, where more than 456 nuclear explosions contaminated the land and its inhabitants. Largely as a result of the courageous efforts of the Kazakh people to close down the Semipalatinsk site, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev declared a nuclear test moratorium on October 5, 1991. This, in turn, prompted a bipartisan coalition of U.S. legislators, including Sen. Mark Hatfield (R-Oregon), George Mitchell (D-Maine), Rep. Mike...

Nuclear Testing Index, August 29, 2012

Nuclear Testing Index, August 29, 2012 2,045: Total number of nuclear weapons tests before the CTBT was opened for signature in September 1996. 9.14 days: Average time between nuclear blasts. 7: Total number of nuclear weapons test explosions after the CTBT was opened for signature in September 1996. 831.4 days: Average time between nuclear blasts. 1,054: Total number of U.S. nuclear weapons tests, involving 1,148 detonations. 928: Number of nuclear weapons tests conducted in Nevada. 15 megatons: Total yield of the largest U.S. explosion, codenamed Bravo. 715: Total number of Soviet/Russian...

The August 2012 IAEA Report on Iran: An Initial Assessment

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Note: correction on Fordow centrifuge totals (3pm, Aug. 30)

By Tom Z. Collina and Daryl G. Kimball

The IAEA’s latest quarterly report on Iran, now in circulation, finds that Tehran has installed more machines for uranium enrichment in its Fordow underground facility, but has not started to use them. This means that Iran has not significantly increased its rate of enrichment at this facility since the IAEA's previous report from May.

Moreover, although Iran has enriched additional uranium to almost 20%--a level that could be more quickly turned into weapons material--Tehran has converted much of this material to reactor fuel. Thus Iran’s available stockpile of 20% enriched uranium (91 kg) is essentially unchanged from May.

Iran is still continuing enrichment at two sites and seeking to increase its stockpile of enriched uranium in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. Although, the August IAEA report is another troubling reminder of Iran's proliferation potential, it is not a “game-changer” in terms of Tehran’s capability to build a nuclear arsenal if it were to decide to do so.

As White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said August 24, “there is still time and space” for diplomatic efforts to resolve the nuclear standoff. But it is also clear that new and more energetic diplomacy is needed to resolve the most urgent proliferation risks posed by Tehran’s nuclear activities.

Here is our brief summary of key takeaways from the new IAEA report:

Continue reading...

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The IAEA’s latest quarterly report on Iran, now in circulation, finds that Tehran has installed more machines for uranium enrichment in its Fordow underground facility, but has not started to use them. This means that Iran has not significantly increased its rate of enrichment at this facility since the IAEA's previous report from May.

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Bid to Craft Arms Trade Treaty Stalls

Farrah Zughni and Daryl G. Kimball

A month-long UN diplomatic conference to negotiate the first-ever treaty to regulate the international arms trade failed to reach consensus on a final document by its July 27 deadline as a handful of key countries, including the United States, said they needed additional time to resolve their concerns with the proposed draft of the pact.

The meeting, which brought together more than 190 countries at the United Nations July 2-27, overcame procedural difficulties as well as numerous conflicting positions on substance and appeared to be close to agreement on a 12-page treaty text that was circulated by conference president Roberto García Moritán on July 26. The general aim of an arms trade treaty (ATT) is to require that all states put in place national regulations on international arms transfers, establish common international standards for approving the transfers, and mandate regular reporting (see box).

The apparent momentum for an agreement was halted by the unexpected announcement by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation Thomas Countryman of unresolved U.S. objections to the July 26 draft treaty text. Addressing the plenary meeting on July 27, Countryman said he did not see problems with the document’s general framework but that he still had concerns about a few aspects of the text.

The United States “wishes to see all progress preserved for a successful treaty, but I have to say that my capital does not have the time that is needed to address these issues; we need to not take a step backward but to get this right,” Countryman told the conference.

Shortly after Countryman spoke, Russia and a handful of other delegations joined the call for more time to negotiate a final text. In a July 27 story, the Associated Press quoted a Western diplomat as saying the United States had “derailed” the process and that it was likely that no further action would be taken on the treaty until after the U.S. elections in November.

Many states expressed disappointment with the outcome, particularly because the July 26 draft negotiated by the conference had incorporated major U.S. proposals and avoided U.S. negotiating “redlines,” according to several diplomats.

“We came to New York to achieve a strong and robust Arms Trade Treaty. We had expected to adopt such a draft Treaty today. We believe we were very close to reaching our goals,” said the Mexican delegation in a written statement on July 27 on behalf of more than 90 countries, including major arms exporters France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

“Compromises have had to be made, but overall the text…put forward yesterday has the overwhelming support of the international community,” the governments’ statement said.

Some major human rights organizations blamed the United States for the outcome. “This was stunning cowardice by the Obama administration, which at the last minute did an about-face and scuttled progress toward a global arms treaty, just as it reached the finish line,” Suzanne Nossel, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said in a July 27 statement. “It’s a staggering abdication of leadership by the world’s largest exporter of conventional weapons to pull the plug on the talks just as they were nearing an historic breakthrough,” she said.

Key Elements of the Proposed ATT

The July 26 draft text of an arms trade treaty (ATT) would require all states-parties to adopt basic regulations and approval processes for the flow of weapons across international borders, establish common international standards that must be met before arms transfers are authorized, and require annual reporting of such transfers. In particular, the July 26 ATT text would

• require that states “shall establish or update, as appropriate, and maintain a national control list” and “shall designate competent national authorities in order to have an effective and transparent national control system regulating the international transfer of conventional arms.” (Currently only 90 countries have international arms transfer regulations.)

• prohibit arms transfers to states if the transfer would violate “obligations under measures adopted by the United Nations Security Council acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, in particular arms embargoes;” other “relevant international obligations;” or would be “for the purpose of facilitating the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity, [or] war crimes constituting grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions”;

• prohibit an arms transfer if the state determines there is an “overriding risk” that the transfer could be used to “commit or facilitate a serious violation of international humanitarian law,” “a serious violation of international human rights law,” or an act of terrorism;

• require that states “shall establish and maintain a national control system to regulate the export of ammunition for conventional arms under the scope” of an ATT and shall apply the authorization criteria and prohibitions established by the treaty prior to authorizing any export of ammunition;

• require that each state “shall take the appropriate measures, within its national laws, to regulate brokering taking place under its jurisdiction for conventional arms under the scope” of an ATT; and

• enter into force when 65 states ratify the treaty.

Tough Negotiations

Before and during the July conference, it was not clear whether it would be possible for so many states to achieve consensus on a treaty in such a short time. The start of the conference’s work was delayed for two days when a group of countries, led by Egypt, proposed that the Palestinian Authority be granted voting status at the conference. A walkout by some states that oppose voting status for the Palestinians was avoided when a compromise was forged that granted the Palestinian Authority and the Vatican observer status.

Through long hours of parallel working sessions and informal consultations, the diplomats offered divergent perspectives and struggled to reach agreement on core elements of the treaty, including its scope and the criteria for evaluating arms transfers. (See ACT, July/August 2012.) By the last week, bottom-line positions became more apparent, and García Moritán presented a consolidated draft text on July 24. A revised version followed on July 26, just one day before the scheduled close of negotiations.

Some states pushed for an ATT with a relatively broad scope, while others sought a narrower one. In the end, the states could agree only that the draft treaty text should cover seven categories derived from the existing UN Register of Conventional Arms—battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, and missiles and missile launchers—plus small arms and light weapons.

Most states argued that the treaty’s scope should include transfers of ammunition, but some, including the United States, resisted its inclusion in the scope section of the treaty. The July 26 text struck a compromise that would obligate states-parties to regulate only the export of ammunition.

There also were competing proposals on how the treaty should address arms transfers that contribute to human rights abuses. The July 26 treaty text contains a compromise formula that would prohibit an arms transfer if the state determines there is an “overriding risk” that the transfer could be used to “commit or facilitate a serious violation of international humanitarian law,” “a serious violation of international human rights law,” or an act of terrorism.

Toward the end of the conference, treaty supporters were most concerned about the possibility that countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Iran, North Korea, and Syria—all of which had voiced strong opposition to central components of the agreement—might decide to block consensus. Prior to Countryman’s statement, however, no delegation had publicly declared that consensus at the conference would not be possible.

Once it became clear that adoption of a final treaty text was out of the question, the conference approved a report for the UN General Assembly relaying the meeting outcome.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement July 27 calling the forum’s “inability” to conclude its work a “setback.”

“There is already considerable common ground and states can build on the hard work that has been done during these negotiations,” he said.

U.S. Concerns

In his July 27 remarks, Countryman listed a number of specific issues that the U.S. delegation found problematic in the July 26 text. None of the points he raised, however, disputed the core treaty elements, such as the scope, criteria for determining whether an arms transfer should be authorized, and prohibitions on certain transfers.

Countryman criticized language in Article 5 that says the treaty “shall not be cited as grounds for voiding contractual obligations under defence cooperation agreements.” Diplomatic sources say the provision was included at the insistence of India over the objections of many states. Countryman argued that the language was “so broad that it threatened to undermine the treaty’s goals” of setting the highest common standards to regulate the international arms trade. Countryman said a provision of Article 3 stipulating that a state-party shall not authorize a conventional arms transfer that would “violate its relevant international obligations” was too ambiguous. He also said that Article 9, which calls on importing and exporting states to “cooperate and exchange information” with “transit and transshipment” states, would need to be rewritten in a manner that is “consistent with international law.” Countryman did not elaborate on the U.S. objection or how it could be addressed.

Some aspects of Countryman’s critique echoed concerns outlined by a group of 51 U.S. senators in a July 26 letter to President Barack Obama. Referring to the first consolidated treaty text of July 24, the senators said the draft treaty text’s requirements for national regulations on international transfers, including those that transited through national territory, and for national reporting of arms transfers potentially infringe on individual gun-ownership rights under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The lawmakers, including eight Democrats, said they “will oppose the ratification” of any ATT that does not “explicitly recognize the legitimacy of lawful activities associated with firearms.”

In a July 31 press briefing, State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell underscored that, “from our perspective, this treaty and this text, and indeed, in all of the rounds of the text that we saw, in no way would infringe on Second Amendment rights.”

The July 26 text explicitly recognizes “the sovereign right and responsibility of any State to regulate and control transfers of conventional arms that take place exclusively within its territory, pursuant to its own legal or constitutional systems.”

Next Steps Unclear

Most ATT supporters said the July conference’s failure has postponed but will ultimately not prevent the treaty’s adoption. “An ATT is coming. It did not happen on [July 27], but it is coming soon,” said Jo Adamson, British permanent representative to the Conference on Disarmament, in a July 31 e-mail to Arms Control Today. The July 27 multicountry statement affirmed its signers’ determination “to secure” an ATT “as soon as possible.”

The French government said in an Aug. 1 statement, “France is not resigned to this situation. The UN General Assembly…must follow up on this process. The efforts made in recent weeks were not in vain. The text of July 26 must be considered the basis for negotiations whose accomplishments must be preserved.” France said that “this text is not perfect.… [W]e would have liked to see more robust, clearer language on munitions and technologies.”

In an Aug. 21 e-mail to Arms Control Today, Egyptian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Mootaz Ahmadein Khalil said the draft text was “a work in progress” that “provides ample material for proceeding further.”

“Any negotiations for a future arms trade treaty,” Khalil wrote, “must take place within a multilateral framework and under the auspices of the United Nations…. It is important to keep in mind that the value of an ATT depends on its universal adherence including from major arms exporters and importers.”

According to diplomatic sources, treaty backers are considering their options ahead of the next session of the UN General Assembly, which convenes in September. Unlike the ATT diplomatic conference, the UN General Assembly does not operate by consensus, and resolutions can be approved with the support of a two-thirds majority of UN member states.

The United States has maintained that it would accept an ATT only if it were adopted on the basis of consensus. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a July 27 written statement that the United States did not support the adoption of an ATT in the General Assembly. Rather, Nuland said, the U.S. government favors “a second round of negotiations, conducted on the basis of consensus” on a treaty “next year.” At the July 31 briefing, Ventrell acknowledged that, with respect to getting a commitment to another round of ATT negotiations, “We’re not there yet.”

A month-long UN diplomatic conference to negotiate the first-ever treaty to regulate the international arms trade failed to reach consensus on a final document by its July 27 deadline as a handful of key countries, including the United States, said they needed additional time to resolve their concerns with the proposed draft of the pact.

Next Steps for the Arms Trade Treaty

Daryl G. Kimball

The United States has relatively robust regulations governing international transfers of conventional arms and ammunition, but many other countries have weak or ineffective laws and policies, if they have any at all. In the absence of common international standards and national export controls, arms suppliers and brokers exploit the gaps for profit, allowing arms and ammunition to flow to unscrupulous regimes, criminals, illegal militias, and terrorist groups.

That can and must change. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation Thomas Countryman was on target when he said in April that there must be “a new sense of responsibility upon every member of the United Nations that you cannot simply export and forget.”

With U.S. support, UN member states agreed to convene July 2-27 for a diplomatic conference to conclude a global arms trade treaty (ATT) to require national regulations and commonsense standards for arms transfers. Overcoming considerable challenges, the negotiators came very close, but not close enough, to consensus.

After many days and long nights of talks, diplomats from arms-exporting and -importing countries were coalescing around a draft 12-page agreement issued July 26. Most diplomats expected that, with some minor adjustments, a final text would be adopted on the final day.

Hopes were dashed when the United States announced it still had concerns and needed more time to address them. The U.S. move provided cover for Russia and a few others to join the call for delay. Without the active support of the world’s largest arms producer and exporter—$31 billion in U.S. foreign military sales in fiscal year 2011 and $63 billion so far in 2012—the conference could not reach agreement.

The decision by Washington to pull back from the diplomatic finish line surprised many, especially given that the U.S. delegation succeeded in pressing other countries to support its key positions and avoid U.S. redlines. In addition, none of the remaining concerns cited by the U.S. team are core issues.

More than 90 countries, including France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, declared in a statement, “We had expected to adopt such a draft Treaty today. Compromises have had to be made, but overall the text…put forward yesterday has the overwhelming support of the international community.”

The July 26 draft treaty text would prohibit arms transfers to states for the purpose of facilitating the commission of acts of genocide, war crimes, or crimes against humanity and obligate states not to authorize arms transfers if they determine there is an “overriding risk” that the transfer will be used to commit or facilitate serious human rights violations. A compromise formula would require that states establish national export regulations that guard against the irresponsible export of ammunition.

Clearly, the July 26 draft is imperfect. For instance, the list of conventional weapons should be more comprehensive; the requirements for regulating arms dealers should be stronger; the prohibitions on transfers that could lead to human rights abuses should be strengthened; and the reporting requirements should be more robust. Nevertheless, the proposed treaty would help reduce enormous human suffering caused by irresponsible international arms transfers and arms brokering.

The momentum toward a sound ATT must not be lost. The majority of states are determined to move the discussion to the UN General Assembly this fall and to secure an effective treaty as soon as possible. Doing so will not be easy and will require stronger leadership.

The failure of the Obama administration to muster the political will to close the deal on a sound ATT has undermined U.S. credibility on the issue. With the General Assembly due to take up the ATT issue this fall, Washington may have also lost much of its influence and its veto power. Unlike the ATT conference, which required consensus, the General Assembly can adopt resolutions by a two-thirds majority.

With small adjustments to the July 26 text, key ATT backers may move to win UN endorsement of the treaty or, at the very least, reconvene another diplomatic conference designed to quickly adopt a final treaty. The goal must be to prevent key states from once again standing in the way of a strong ATT as well as to conclude an agreement that will be signed by United States, along with other key arms suppliers and buyers.

An ATT has the potential to fill a huge gap in the international security architecture and help protect innocent civilians. The treaty cannot stop all irresponsible and illicit arms transfers, but it can make it substantially more difficult and more expensive for weapons buyers and suppliers to flout commonsense standards.

As Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton argued in a July speech, the United States “can directly pressure those who organize atrocities and cut off the resources they need to continue their violence.” To translate those words into action, Washington must help, not hinder, the conclusion of an effective ATT.

The United States has relatively robust regulations governing international transfers of conventional arms and ammunition, but many other countries have weak or ineffective laws and policies, if they have any at all. In the absence of common international standards and national export controls, arms suppliers and brokers exploit the gaps for profit, allowing arms and ammunition to flow to unscrupulous regimes, criminals, illegal militias, and terrorist groups.

United States, Others Miss Chance on Global Arms Trade Treaty

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Arms Control Experts Urge Key Leaders to Maintain Momentum

For Immediate Release: July 27, 2012, 6:45pm EST

Contact: Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, 202-463-8270 ext. 107

(United Nations, New York) Nearly a year after the start of a UN process to negotiate a new global arms trade treaty, 192 states came close to agreement on a treaty to require better regulation of the global arms trade and to set common-sense standards for arms transfers.

However, the United States, followed by Russia, announced earlier today that a few remaining issues (none of which are core treaty issues) must be clarified and that there is not enough time to resolve them.

"President Obama should have--but did not--provide the leadership necessary to close the deal on the arms trade treaty and help reduce human suffering caused irresponsible international arms transfers and arms brokering," said Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director of the Washington-based Arms Control Association.

Although the U.S. delegation had succeeded in inserting all of its preferred formulations in the treaty text and avoided all "red lines," the conference was told this morning that several issues must be further clarified or language must be further adjusted.

"The important support and momentum for a sound arms trade treaty must not be lost," said Kimball.

A statement read by Mexico on behalf of a group of over 90 countries--including France, Germany, and the U.K.--at the close of the conference declared: "We came to New York to achieve a strong and robust Arms Trade Treaty. We had expected to adopt such a draft Treaty today. We believe we were very close to reaching our goals."

"Compromises have had to be made, but overall the text you put forward yesterday has the overwhelming support of the international community as a base for carrying forward our work," the governments' statement read. "We believed that this would have been possible with extra work today and only very reluctantly now see that this is not possible," they declared.

The group called upon the conference president, Ambassador Moritan of Argentina, "to report to the General Assembly on the progress we have made, so that we can finalize our work. We are determined to secure an Arms Trade Treaty as soon as possible."

At its core, the treaty would establish common international standards that must be met before arms transfers are authorized. It would require regular reporting of such transfers, which would help improve transparency and accountability. It has the potential to close the gaps in the current international system by requiring countries to adopt basic regulations and approval processes for the flow of weapons and ammunition in and out of their borders and for arms brokering. The latest treaty text also recognized "the sovereign right and responsibility of any State to regulate and control transfers of conventional arms that take place exclusively in their territory …."

The most recent treaty text:

  • would have required that states establish national import and export regulations that guard against irresponsible export of ammunition;
  • included a prohibition on arms transfers to states for the purpose of facilitating the commission of acts of genocide, war crimes, or crimes against humanity;
  • would have obligated states not to authorize arms transfers if they determine there is an "overriding risk" that the transfer will be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international human rights law or international humanitarian law.

"We urge the United States and other arms exporters and importers, including China, Russia, the U.K., and India, to work with the large group supporters, especially those most affected by violence fueled by illicit arms dealing, to conclude a sound agreement this year," Kimball urged.

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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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(United Nations, New York) Nearly a year after the start of a UN process to negotiate a new global arms trade treaty, 192 states came close to agreement on a treaty to require better regulation of the global nuclear arms trade and to set common-sense standards for arms transfers.

Country Resources:

New Arms Trade Treaty Within Reach

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Security Experts Urge President Obama to Lead, Not Delay

For Immediate Release: July 27, 2012, 11:30am EST

Contact: Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, 202-463-8270 ext. 117

(United Nations, New York) Nearly a year after the UN launched a process to negotiate a new global arms trade treaty, states are coalescing around a final treaty text.

However, it appears that the United States is balking over a few remaining issues (none of which are core treaty issues) that it says must be clarified and that the U.S. delegation says the decision-makers in Washington may not have time to help resolve.

"President Obama must lead and not further delay this important and long-running process to help reduce human suffering as a result of irresponsible international arms transfers and arms brokering," said Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director of the Washington-based Arms Control Association.

Although the U.S. delegation has succeeded in inserting all of its preferred formulations in the treaty text, the conference was told this morning that several issues must be further clarified or language must be further adjusted.

"Indeed, the Arms Trade Treaty text issued Thursday evening can and should be adjusted today to close loopholes and clarify its protections against illicit arms transfers of all kinds, but there is tremendous momentum to conclude a sound text now. Today is the day to resolve remaining issues and questions," said Kimball.

"The conclusion of a sound Arms Trade Treaty would represent an important step forward for U.S. security and international security that President Obama and the U.S. Congress should embrace," Kimball said.

At its core, the treaty would establish common international standards that must be met before arms transfers are authorized. It would require regular reporting of such transfers, which would help improve transparency and accountability. It has the potential to close the gaps in the current international system by requiring countries to adopt basic regulations and approval processes for the flow of weapons and ammunition in and out of their borders and for arms brokering. The current treaty text also recognizes "the sovereign right and responsibility of any State to regulate and control transfers of conventional arms that take place exclusively in their territory …."

The most recent treaty text:

  • would require that states establish national import and export regulations that guard against irresponsible export of ammunition;
  • includes a prohibition on arms transfers to states for the purpose of facilitating the commission of acts of genocide, war crimes, or crimes against humanity;
  • obligates states not to authorize arms transfers if they determine there is an "overriding risk" that the transfer will be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international human rights law or international humanitarian law.
"We urge the United States and other arms exporters and importers, including China, Russia, the U.K., and India, to work with other states, especially those most affected by violence fueled by illicit arms dealing, to provide the leadership and flexibility needed to reach a sound agreement by tonight's deadline," Kimball urged.


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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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(United Nations, New York) Nearly a year after the UN launched a process to negotiate a new global arms trade treaty, states are coalescing around a final treaty text.

Letter Calls on Obama to Close Loopholes and Support Arms Trade Treaty

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Humanitarian, Arms Control Groups Urge President Obama to Close Loopholes; Support Effective Arms Trade Treaty

For Immediate Release: July 26, 2012

Contact: Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association, 202-463-8270 ext. 107; Frank Jannuzi, Head of D.C. Office, Amnesty International USA, 202-675-8585

(Washington and New York) Major U.S. humanitarian and arms control organizations, including Amnesty International USA, Oxfam America, Arms Control Association, and United to Prevent Genocide, are pressing President Barack Obama to work with other countries close the remaining loopholes in text of the Arms Trade Treaty now under negotiation.

In a letter sent earlier today to the White House, the leaders wrote: "While the July 24 treaty text that has emerged from this month's negotiation falls short in several areas, we believe that with some specific fixes, it still represents an important opportunity to reduce the impact of the illicit global arms trade and save lives, and it should be supported by the United States."

A robust and effective Arms Trade Treaty would establish international standards would ban all arms transfers that could facilitate genocide, crimes against humanity, and serious war crimes. It will also close the gaps in the current international system of laws by requiring countries to adopt strong laws that would govern the flow of weapons in and out of their borders.

"The end is in sight for a global arms trade treaty but its success depends on the United States," said Scott Stedjan, senior policy advisor with Oxfam America. "Washington needs to back a strong text to prevent the negotiations from collapsing."

"We urge the United States and other arms exporters to work with others, especially those most affected by violence fueled by illicit arms dealing, to provide the leadership and flexibility to reach an agreement by Friday's deadline," said Daryl Kimball, Executive Director of the Control Arms Association.

"As Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton outlined in remarks this week at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial on preventing the mass slaughter of civilians, there must be a new emphasis on prevention," stated the letter. "As she said, we can 'directly pressure those who organize atrocities and cut off the resources they need to continue their violence.'"

The letter encourages President Obama and the U.S. negotiating team to address the following issues:

  • ensure that the treaty requires that states establish national import and export regulations that guard against irresponsible export of ammunition;
  • includes a prohibition on arms transfers to states that they know may be used to commit or facilitate acts of genocide, war crimes, or crimes against humanity. This would be consistent with the vision outlined in Secretary Clinton's remarks this week;
  • ensure that states are obligated not to transfer weapons if they determine there is a substantial risk that the transfer will be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international human rights law or international humanitarian law;
  • be adjusted to ensure that it addresses all types of arms transfers, not just "exports," and
  • be adjusted so that it does not allow states to exempt arms sales under previous contracts or defense cooperation agreements that pose a serious risk of facilitating violations of international human rights law, international humanitarian law, or international arms embargoes or otherwise violate the object and purpose of the treaty.

The call to action comes one day before negotiations conclude on July 27.

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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.


July 26, 2012

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20500

RE: Arms Trade Treaty text under consideration

Dear Mr. President,

With one day left to conclude the first ever global Arms Trade Treaty, we write to urge you and your administration to close the remaining loopholes in the treaty text now under negotiation and to urge other key states to support the treaty, which can help reduce the substantial harm inflicted by the illicit arms trade.

As Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton outlined in remarks this week at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial on preventing the mass slaughter of civilians, there must be a new emphasis on prevention. As she said, we can "directly pressure those who organize atrocities and cut off the resources they need to continue their violence."

While the July 24 treaty text that has emerged from this month's negotiation falls short in several areas, we believe that with some specific fixes, it still represents an important opportunity to reduce the impact of the illicit global arms trade and save lives, and it should be supported by the United States.

In the final hours of these ATT negotiations, we respectfully encourage you and your negotiating team to address these very important issues in the treaty text:

  • retains a clear prohibition on arms transfers for the purpose of facilitating -- or with the knowledge that those items will be used in -- the commission of acts of genocide, war crimes, or crimes against humanity. This would be consistent with the policy outlined by Secretary Clinton this week;
  • ensures that states are obligated not to authorize arms transfers if they determine there is a substantial risk that the items will be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international human rights law or international humanitarian law;
  • requires that states establish national import and export regulations that guard against circumvention of the treaty through irresponsible export of ammunition;
  • be adjusted to ensure that it addresses all types of arms transfers, not just "exports," and
  • be adjusted so that it does not allow states to exempt arms sales under previous contracts or defense cooperation agreements that may violate the object and purpose of the treaty.

With these points in mind, we encourage you to use your influence to bring other significant countries on board in order to open the way for the treaty's approval and opening for signature.

Thanks for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Eric Sapp,
Executive Director,
American Values Network

Suzanne Nossel,
Executive Director,
Amnesty International USA

Daryl G. Kimball,
Executive Director,
Arms Control Association

Sarah Holewinski,
Executive Director,
Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict

John Isaacs,
Executive Director,
Council for a Livable World

Don Krauss,
Chief Executive Officer,
GlobalSolutions.org

Raymond C. Offenheiser,
President,
Oxfam America

Bama Athreya,
Executive Director,
United to End Genocide

 

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(Washington and New York) Major U.S. humanitarian and arms control organizations, including Amnesty International USA, Oxfam America, Arms Control Association, and United to Prevent Genocide, are pressing President Barack Obama to work with other countries close the remaining loopholes in text of the Arms Trade Treaty now under negotiation.

Arms Treaty Text Emerges from UN Talks

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Arms Control Group Says Good Agreement Within Sight

For Immediate Release: July 24, 2012

Contact: Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, ACA (202) 463-8270 x107

(Washington, D.C.) Today, the first consolidated draft text of a global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) emerged from arduous negotiations at the United Nations. Governments have just three days to narrow any remaining differences before the conference concludes on July 27.

"The text that has emerged contains several loopholes that should be closed to improve the treaty, but on the whole the document now under consideration provides a solid basis for agreement by all responsible states. With further work in the remaining hours, a good Arms Trade Treaty is within sight," said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Arms Control Association.

"We urge the major supplier states to work with others, including those most affected by violence fueled by illicit arms dealing, to provide the leadership and flexibility to close the gaps in their respective positions and to reach agreement by Friday's deadline," said Kimball.

The July 24 treaty text issued today would require all states to establish national regulations on conventional arms transfers and brokering and require that states not authorize transfers that would violate arms embargoes, that would facilitate acts of genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes under the Geneva Conventions. The treaty draft now before the negotiators would also require states to regulate munitions so that their transfer will not circumvent the goals of the treaty.


The treaty text would also require states to evaluate whether arms transfers would be used to violate humanitarian law, international human rights law, be used by terrorists or organized crime, and if there is a substantial risk the transfer would do so, the treaty would oblige states not to authorize the transfer.

"The current text, however, should clarify that the treaty pertains to all types of arms 'transfers' (not simply arms exports) and clarify that the conventional weapons categories listed in the 'scope' section is illustrative and not exhaustive. The treaty should not, as the text currently suggests, allow multi-year weapons contracts to continue even if states know the weapons will be used for war crimes," Kimball urged. 

"With these adjustments, the Arms Trade Treaty can make a substantial difference in reducing the harm created by the illicit arms trade and it deserves the Obama administration's support," Kimball suggested.

Today, only 90 countries report having basic regulations on the international transfer of small arms and light weapons. Only 56 countries control arms brokers and only 25 have criminal penalties associated with illicit brokering. Worldwide, at least 400,000 people are killed by illegal small arms and light weapons each year, according to the U.K. government.

"The July 24 treaty text goes a long way toward meeting the United States' concerns on key issues, including ammunition and the criteria that states must evaluate before authorizing conventional arms transfers," Kimball said.

As Secretary of State Clinton outlined in remarks today at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial on preventing the mass slaughter of civilians, the United States and others must put a new emphasis on prevention. As she said we can "directly pressure those who organize atrocities and cut off the resources they need to continue their violence."

"An effective Arms Trade Treaty would help fill a gap in the international security architecture and help protect innocent civilians. The treaty can't stop all illicit arms transfers and won't stop all civilian deaths in conflict, but it can substantially reduce the human toll by making it harder and more expensive for weapons buyers and suppliers to flout common sense standards," Kimball argued.

"If by week's end, a few states try to block consensus agreement on a robust Arms Trade Treaty, we would urge the vast majority of states who do support the ATT to seek endorsement by the UN General Assembly and to open the treaty for signature," Kimball suggested.

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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.

Description: 

(Washington, D.C.) Today, the first consolidated draft text of a global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) emerged from arduous negotiations at the United Nations. Governments have just three days to narrow any remaining differences before the conference concludes on July 27.

Nuclear and Missile Systems We Can't Afford, Don't Need

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Volume 3, Issue 12, July 18, 2012

If the Congress and the White House are serious about reducing the booming federal deficit, they must work together to scale back previous schemes for a new generation of strategic nuclear weapons delivery systems and unnecessary spending on a ground-based missile defense system that doesn't work for a threat that doesn't exist.

It has been more than two decades since the end of the Cold War, yet the United States maintains--and is poised to rebuild--a costly strategic nuclear triad that is sized to launch far more nuclear weapons than necessary to deter nuclear attack against the U.S. or its allies.

Today, the United States deploys some 1,737 strategic nuclear warheads, while Russia deploys some 1,492 strategic nuclear warheads. Each side has thousands more warheads in reserve.

Other than Russia, the only potential adversary with a long-range nuclear capability is China, which has no more than 40-50 warheads on intercontinental ballistic missiles. The United States' has more than 30 times as many. Just one U.S. nuclear-armed submarine--loaded with 24 missiles, each armed with four 455-kiloton warheads--could kill millions.

As the Pentagon's new defense strategy correctly asserts, "It is possible that our deterrence goals can be achieved with a smaller nuclear force...."

However, current plans call for 12 new nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines to carry more than 1,000 strategic nuclear warheads into the 2070s, at a total cost of almost $350 billion.

The Air Force is seeking a new, nuclear-armed strategic bomber that would cost at least $68 billion, as well as a new fleet of land-based ballistic missiles. Modernization and operation of the United States' 450 Minuteman III land-based ballistic missiles would cost billions more.

As, then-Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright explained last year, "... we have to recapitalize all three legs [of the nuclear triad], and we don't have the money to do it."

In a time of budget austerity, these ambitious and expensive schemes for a new generation of strategic nuclear weapons delivery systems can and must be scaled back in manageable, cost-effective way.

Likewise, U.S. ballistic missile interceptor programs should be cost-effective, proven through real-world testing, and sized to address threats that actually exist. The fiscal year 2013 budget request would already provide $9.7 billion for all ballistic missile defense programs, and the administration projects spend another  $47.4 billion for these programs from 2013 to 2017.

The administration's missile defense budget includes $903 million for operating 30 ground-based interceptor (GBI) missiles in Alaska and California to deal with a potential limited limited, long-range missile attacks from North Korea or Iran, neither of which have successfully tested such missiles. The system failed in their last two intercept tests, in January and December 2010. The MDA plans to have 52 GBI missiles by 2017.

Despite the GBI program's severe shortcomings and high-costs, some would have the taxpayer spend even more on the program than the administration has requested.

There are four principal ways in which the president and the Congress can trim unnecessary strategic nuclear force modernization programs and trim excess spending from the unproven Ground-Based Mid-Course strategic missile interceptor program--and still retain more than enough megatonnage to deter nuclear attack by any current or future adversary.

1. Rightsize the Strategic Nuclear Sub Fleet

The first step is to reevaluate and reduce the size of the future nuclear-armed strategic submarine force. In January 2012, the Pentagon said it would delay procurement of the proposed Ohio-class replacement nuclear-armed submarine (SSBNX) by two years, starting in 2031 not 2029, which could save some $6-7 billion in the next ten years.

However, without a reduction in the size of the force, the overall cost of the program will remain the same, and take resources away from the Navy's other priority shipbuilding projects. The Pentagon has requested $565 billion for the SSBNX program for fiscal 2013.

By reducing the Trident nuclear-armed sub fleet from 14 to 8 or fewer boats and building no more than 8 new nuclear-armed subs, the United States could save roughly $27 billion over 10 years, and $120 billion over the 50-year lifespan of the program.

Furthermore, by changing prompt launch requirements developed during the Cold War and increasing the number of missile tubes and warhead loadings on each submarine, the Navy could still deploy the same number of strategic nuclear warheads at sea on a smaller, 8 sub fleet, as currently planned under the New START treaty (about 1,000).

2. Postpone Work on a New Strategic Bomber

Second, work on a new strategic bomber should be delayed. There is no rush to field a fleet of new bombers given the Pentagon's plan to retain 60 of its existing nuclear-capable, long-range B-2 and B-52 bombers into the 2040s, which will already cost approximately $4 billion to refurbish over the next 4 years. Delaying work on the new bomber program would save $18 billion over the next decade and approximately $292 million in fiscal year 2013 alone, according to the Pentagon.

3. Trim the Cold War ICBM Force

For additional savings, the Pentagon should reduce its land-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) force from 420 to 300 by cutting one squadron at each of the three Air Force bases where such missiles are deployed and foregoing a follow-on missile program to replace the existing force. This move would save approximately $360 million in operations and maintenance costs in fiscal 2013 alone and far more in future years.

Prudent U.S. strategic nuclear force reductions could also induce Russia to further reduce its deployed strategic nuclear arsenal, which is already 200 warheads fewer than the United States, and prompt Moscow to delay or cancel some of its own costly plans for modernizing its strategic nuclear delivery systems.

4. Don't Spend More Taxpayer Money for Ground-Based Mid-Course Missile Interceptors That Don't Work

The United States already has two GMD sites on the west coast, with 30 interceptors deployed in California and Alaska, to counter a potential, limited long-range ballistic missile volley from a rogue state. Neither Iran nor North Korea has yet deployed long-range missiles that could reach the United States.

The administration's budget request also includes $1.5 billion for the European Phased Adaptive Approach, which involves the SM-3 interceptor system to handle potential attacks involving short- and medium-range missiles from Iran. Iran does have such missiles.

Spending even more for the GBI system--which has not had a successful intercept test since 2008; has had two flight test failures in 2010; and cannot yet deal with decoys--is not prudent. Because the GBI cannot be relied upon to work in real-world conditions and because Iran and North Korea has not successfully tested long-range missiles, pouring more money into the program doesn't improve U.S. national security and drains resources from other, higher priority programs.

More Security for Less Money

Fresh thinking is in order. Programs that address low-priority threats must be scaled back to make room for more pressing national priorities and reduce the deficit. Smart reductions in spending on unnecessary new nuclear weapons systems would enhance U.S. security.--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.

Description: 

If the Congress and the White House are serious about reducing the booming federal deficit, they must work together to scale back previous schemes for a new generation of strategic nuclear weapons delivery systems and unnecessary spending on a ground-based missile defense system that doesn't work for a threat that doesn't exist.

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