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"No one can solve this problem alone, but together we can change things for the better." 

– Setsuko Thurlow
Hiroshima Survivor
June 6, 2016
Peter Crail

Iran to Boost 20%-Enriched Uranium Output

Peter Crail

Iran will triple its production of uranium enriched to 20 percent, a senior Iranian official announced June 8, a move Western countries called a provocation.

Tehran also said that it would move the production from an above-ground pilot plant at its Natanz complex to an underground facility that was first publicly disclosed by Western leaders in 2009. (See ACT, October 2009.)

Announcing the enrichment plans during a press briefing in Tehran, Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) head Fereydoun Abbasi, said “This year, we will transfer 20 percent enrichment from Natanz to the Fordow plant under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and will triple its (production) capacity,” Iran’s official Fars news agency reported the following day. The leaders of France, the United Kingdom, and the United States publicly revealed the existence of the Fordow plant in September 2009, accusing Iran of keeping it hidden from the IAEA.

The United States and other Western countries questioned the motivations behind Iran’s recent announcement. “Apart from what appears now to be a clear intent to produce more 20 percent-enriched uranium than Iran needs to make fuel for its one and only research reactor, it also represents another chapter in the changing Iranian narrative regarding why this underground facility [Fordow] was built,” U.S. Permanent Representative to the IAEA Glyn Davies told the agency’s governing board June 9.

Uranium can be enriched to low levels of the isotope uranium-235 as fuel for nuclear reactors or to weapons-grade levels, generally 90 percent and higher, for nuclear weapons. Although 20 percent-enriched uranium is not weapons grade, such material can be further enriched to weapons-grade levels relatively quickly.

Former IAEA Deputy Director-General for Safeguards Olli Heinonen told the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee June 23 that 20 percent enrichment places Iran closer to producing material for weapons “in terms of the necessary technology mastered as well as the time needed to convert the [uranium] to bomb-grade material.”

Iranian officials said the planned threefold increase in production will be accomplished by using a new generation of gas centrifuges that it has been developing for several years. Abbasi said that the new centrifuges, which enrich uranium about three times faster than the machines Iran currently uses, will be installed at the Fordow plant “soon.”

Iran has yet to begin testing its “second generation” centrifuges in full-scale cascades, linking 164 machines together to enrich uranium. Iran initially informed the IAEA in January that it intended to begin such testing, and a diplomatic source said that, according to a June 2 IAEA technical briefing, Iran had begun installing the advanced centrifuges for testing at Natanz.

Mark Fitzpatrick, former deputy assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation, said in a June 24 e-mail that because Iran has been testing smaller batches of advanced centrifuges, “it would not be surprising” if Iran installed full cascades for enrichment to 20 percent. “But Iran probably still lacks a self-sufficiency in all the parts that would enable it to install advanced centrifuges in large numbers,” he said.

Iran began producing 20 percent-enriched uranium at the Natanz pilot plant in February 2010, saying that it needed to do so to make fuel for a research reactor in Tehran that runs on uranium enriched to that level. (See ACT, March 2010.) The move followed a breakdown in talks among Iran, France, Russia, the United States, and the IAEA on a tentative agreement to ship out the majority of Iran’s low-enriched uranium (LEU) in return for fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor. That reactor, supplied by the United States in the 1950s, produces medical isotopes for hospitals.

A commercial-scale plant at Natanz produces LEU enriched to about 4 percent, the level generally used in nuclear power reactors.

The May IAEA report said that, as of that month, Iran produced a total of about 57 kilograms of 20 percent-enriched uranium. Iran says it wants to produce 120 kilograms of 20 percent-enriched uranium for the Tehran reactor, which is believed to have almost exhausted its supply of fuel.

Iranian Permanent Representative to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltanieh told China’s official Xinhua news agency June 13 that “we have to speed up” the production of 20 percent-enriched uranium “because [the] Tehran research reactor is in desperate need [of] fuel.”

The rate at which Iran produces 20 percent-enriched uranium, however, does not appear to be the main time constraint for refueling the reactor. Iran is not believed to be able to manufacture fuel plates for the reactor safely. Heinonen said last November that it would likely take Iran one to two years to do so. (See ACT, March 2011.)

Abbasi said in April, however, that Iran would build an additional four or five research reactors similar to the one in Tehran to increase its production of medical isotopes, requiring more 20 percent-enriched uranium than the 120 kilograms intended for the existing reactor. Iran has so far rebuffed IAEA requests for additional information on such plans, telling the agency in a May 3 letter that it would do so “in due time,” the May IAEA report said.

In his e-mail, Fitzpatrick dismissed Iran’s rationale for increasing its producing of 20 percent material. “The flimsy excuse that more 20 percent enriched uranium is needed for additional research reactors, to be built some time in the future, does not pass the laugh test,” he said. Instead, he suggested, Iran’s goal is to get closer to a capability to make material for weapons.

 

Iran announced that it would triple its production of uranium enriched to 20 percent, increasing concerns that it is trying to get closer to producing material that can be used for nuclear weapons.

IAEA Sends Syria Nuclear Case to UN

Peter Crail

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on June 9 referred Syria to the UN Security Council for violating its safeguards obligations, following a three-year investigation into that country’s alleged secret nuclear activities.

Western governments said the agency’s move was important to maintain the integrity of the nuclear nonproliferation regime, but the vote divided the 35-member IAEA Board of Governors, with several states calling into question the agency’s grounds for sending the issue to the United Nations.

The board referred Syria’s case to the UN in a 17-6 vote following a May 24 IAEA report concluding that a facility that Damascus had been constructing “was very likely a nuclear reactor.” Israel destroyed the facility, located at a site called Dair al Zour, in a September 2007 air strike. (See ACT, October 2007.)

The June 9 board resolution found Syria in noncompliance with its safeguards obligations for failing to declare the alleged reactor to the agency and for not providing the IAEA with design information for the facility prior to construction. U.S. Permanent Representative to the IAEA Glyn Davies said during a press briefing following the board vote that Syria’s action “represents one of the most serious safeguards violations possible.” Washington accuses Syria of building the suspected reactor to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons. (See ACT, June 2008.)

China and Russia voted against the resolution. Both countries are veto-wielding permanent members of the UN Security Council and can block any attempted council action against Syria. Azerbaijan, Ecuador, Pakistan, and Venezuela also opposed the measure.

In a statement before the vote, Russia said that although Syria might have engaged in some wrongdoing, the issue was not one that the council needed to address.

“The site at Dair al Zour no longer exists and therefore poses no threat to international peace and security,” the statement said. The resolution’s preamble says that Syria’s actions “have given rise to concerns regarding international peace and security,” language consistent with the Security Council’s responsibilities under the UN Charter.

Although the resolution received the simple majority needed to pass, 11 board members abstained, leaving the resolution with approval from roughly half of the board. One country, Mongolia, was absent for the vote.

The abstentions included three countries currently holding rotating seats on the Security Council: Brazil, India, and South Africa.

Diplomats from countries that abstained said last month that their governments did not believe that the case for referral was strong enough. They noted that the IAEA assessment concluding that the Dair al Zour facility “was very likely” a reactor was not definitive. “The legal basis was fragile,” one diplomat told Arms Control Today by e-mail June 24.

The diplomat also issued a judgment similar to Russia’s, saying that “if there ever was a threat, it was destroyed by the Israelis.”

IAEA’s ‘Best Assessment’

In his opening statement during the board’s June 6-10 meeting, IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano said, “[T]his is the best assessment of the agency, based on all the information in its possession.” Although diplomats from abstaining countries did not directly dispute the IAEA technical findings on the alleged Syrian reactor, they raised concerns about the agency’s reliance on intelligence information from other countries.

The United States has been a key source of information on the Dair al Zour facility. It first briefed the IAEA on the matter in April 2008, leading to the agency’s investigation.

Former U.S. and IAEA officials said that the board’s decision to act on the agency’s “best assessment” rather than definitive proof of noncompliance was new territory for the IAEA.

Mark Fitzpatrick, former deputy assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation, said in a June 24 e-mail that the IAEA’s “willingness and ability to draw reasonable conclusions in the Dair al Zour case despite Syria’s refusal to cooperate with the investigation set an important precedent.”

In a separate June 24 e-mail, former IAEA Deputy Director-General for Safeguards Bruno Pellaud said that the decision is “a new tool for the IAEA,” but cautioned that it was not as strong as a referral based on a clear noncompliance determination.

Such a precedent may have implications for the IAEA investigation into Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program. The United States has asked the IAEA to make a determination regarding Iran’s suspected work related to development of a nuclear warhead even though Iran has not cooperated with the agency’s investigation into those suspicions.

“We reiterate the urgent need for the Director General to provide to the Board as soon as possible his best assessment of the information related to possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program,” Davies said in a June 9 statement to the board.

Special Inspection Unlikely

Diplomatic sources and former officials said that the IAEA board’s decision to refer Syria’s case to the UN made it unlikely the agency would call for a special inspection to require greater access to sites and information from Damascus.

IAEA safeguards agreements allow the agency to conduct a special inspection if the existing inspection mechanism “is not adequate for the agency to fulfill its responsibilities under the agreement.” Amano has consistently said in his reports to the board that Syria has not provided sufficient cooperation for the agency to carry out its work.

Amano also said in his opening statement that “it is deeply regrettable that the facility was destroyed” rather than being reported to the agency.

The United States had previously said that the IAEA needed to consider calling for a special inspection in Syria. (See ACT, October 2010.) Former IAEA Deputy Director-General for Safeguards Olli Heinonen, who led the agency’s investigation in Syria until last August, also has argued that the agency should make use of this authority.

“It would have been a logical step,” he said in a June 27 interview, adding, “In my view, the case would have been clearer, if the [IAEA] Secretariat would have used all authorities at its disposal.”

Heinonen told the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on June 23, “The special inspection option should still be pursued, or the UN Security Council could also choose to provide wider authorities to the IAEA.”

Pellaud said that “a refusal of a special inspection [by Syria] would have lent much more substance to the referral.”

The special inspection provision has been used only twice: in Romania in 1992 at the Romanian government’s request, and in North Korea in 1993. Pyongyang rejected the inspection, touching off an international crisis leading to a nuclear freeze agreement with the United States a year later.

In an apparent response to the IAEA’s judgment that the Dair al Zour facility was very likely a nuclear reactor, Damascus sent a letter to Amano pledging to work with the agency to resolve the issue. According to diplomats familiar with the letter, sent two days after Amano’s May 24 report, Syria’s Atomic Energy Commission said that it was “ready to fully cooperate” with the IAEA but did not offer any details of what new information or access Damascus would provide to inspectors.

A senior Western official said during a June 3 background briefing that, on the issue of Syria’s sincerity in providing such cooperation, “the proof came yesterday” during a June 2 technical briefing by the IAEA Secretariat. When the IAEA made its case for why it had concluded the Dair al Zour facility was likely a reactor, Syria simply challenged the IAEA assessment rather than offering evidence to back its own claims, the official said.

Syria Already in UN Spotlight

The board decision to refer Syria’s nuclear file to the UN came at the same time that European governments are seeking to place pressure on Damascus for its crackdown against political protests. The day before the IAEA action, France, Germany, Portugal, and the United Kingdom circulated a draft resolution with the Security Council condemning Syria for human rights abuses. Facing veto threats from China and Russia, the sponsors pulled the resolution from consideration, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé told the French National Assembly June 14.

Some IAEA board members were wary of taking action in that political context. A Russian diplomatic source called the IAEA resolution “untimely.”

The senior Western official said June 3 that other members of the board raised concerns that a referral might inflame the political situation in Syria, a prospect the official said was unlikely. “I don’t see a link directly between this [nuclear] issue” and political developments in Syria, he said, arguing that the IAEA has a responsibility to address Syria’s nuclear program irrespective of events in the country.

 

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors referred Syria’s nuclear file to the UN Security Council in a divided June 9 vote. The board action came after the agency determined Syria "was very likely" building a nuclear reactor.

Remarks by ACA's Peter Crail on The NPT Review Process

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The NPT Review Process: Renewing Momentum for 2015

Remarks by Peter Crail, Research Analyst, Arms Control Association, at the ASAN Institute for Policy Studies ASAN PLENUM 2011: Our Nuclear Future Conference
Panel: Evaluating the 2010 NPT Review Conference (Summary)
June 13-15, Seoul, South Korea

The 2010 NPT Review Conference was a major accomplishment. Overcoming multiple obstacles, the Conference reaffirmed the value of the NPT to international security by reiterating prior commitments to strengthen the treaty in 1995 and 2000, and by agreeing to a modest but forward-looking plan of action on the treaty’s three pillars.

Although the final document could have been stronger in many areas, the States Parties left the treaty in a better place than before the conference.

To a large extent the success of the conference was due to the positive momentum going into the meeting, allowing states parties to build upon recent successes in spite of challenges that have remained, or increased, since the collapse of the 2005 Review Conference. Much of this momentum came from a reinvigorated commitment by the United States to work toward a world free of nuclear weapons, a development many Review Conference participants recognized. Also important was the willingness of states to tackle new proliferation challenges, including issues related to nuclear security.

But the true measure of success of an NPT Review Conference is not just a matter of arriving at agreement on a final document. What matters is whether states can individually and collectively meet their commitments by meaningfully reducing the number and salience of nuclear weapons and by preventing their further spread.

Looking Forward

So one of the critical questions now is: what should be done looking forward to 2015 that will provide similar momentum to help the next conference strengthen the NPT? In this regard, the 64-point action plan of the 2010 Review Conference final document is important. The extent to which states will remain confident in the regime will depend largely on the extent to which NPT members follow-through on the steps they committed to pursue last year.

In my view, there are three sets of actions that will likely prove most important to the health of the NPT and to ensuring success in 2015:

  1. Advancing progress on nuclear disarmament by all nuclear-armed states;
  2. Improving the our ability to detect and deter proliferation; and
  3. Implementing the Resolution on the Middle East.

Nuclear Disarmament

The NWS have a key role to play in generating momentum towards a successful 2015 conference by following through on the commitments made in 2010.

Action 5 of the 2010 Review Conference final document presents both an important opportunity and measuring stick for progress on disarmament due to its wide-ranging nature and its call for a progress report at the 2014 PrepCom.

Many of the specific items called for in Action 5 will require steps to be taken by the United States and Russia.

Both still need to lead on deeper nuclear reductions, which does not require agreement on a new treaty in the near term to do so. The continued deployment of 1,550 strategic warheads far exceeds the requirements of nuclear deterrence in the post-Cold War era. Russia is already below New START warhead levels and should continue the ongoing process of retiring old strategic systems. Washington should incentivize and reciprocate this process by furthering its own reductions, recognizing that its existing nuclear missions can still be met with numbers below New START.

In order to address nuclear weapons stockpiles “of all types” and “regardless of their location,” NATO should acknowledge, as part of its Defense and Deterrence Posture Review due to be completed next year, that the 180 or so forward-deployed U.S. tactical nuclear weapons are not necessary for deterrence purposes and indicate its readiness to withdraw those weapons if Russia takes reciprocal measures.

Other NWS have important roles to play too.  The five countries should regularize the discussions held last September and to be held later this month with a view to increasing transparency regarding their nuclear weapon stockpiles, and reducing the role of nuclear weapons in their security policies.

Another key measure of the progress made on disarmament heading into 2015 will be the CTBT. NPT parties agreed last year that the NWS should ratify the CTBT “with all expediency.” On March 29, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon reiterated the Obama administration’s support for prompt U.S. ratification and entry into force, and Under Secretary of State Ellen Tauscher said last month that the administration has begun to explain the administration’s case to the Senate. It will take some time to lay the groundwork for ratification, but a sustained effort can achieve Senate approval before the 2015 conference.

Meanwhile, the United States is not alone. Beijing has said for many years that it had begun the ratification process and it should also seek to conclude that process with the expediency agreed in 2010.

Strengthening Proliferation Barriers

Just as greater progress needs to be made on disarmament, the safeguards regime needs to be strengthened, and all states need to take proliferation risks seriously.

The most important step NNWS can take in this regard is to ratify the additional protocol and support the principle that the protocol is the new safeguards standard with a view to reaching agreement on that principle at the 2015 conference.

The position held by some NNWS that they will not adopt or promote additional nonproliferation measures unless there is further progress on disarmament is a counter-productive approach that only increases reluctance on the disarmament front and abandons the principle that preventing proliferation is an important goal in its own right.

Perhaps more importantly, NNWS have every reason to be concerned about states that disregard their safeguards responsibilities. After all, the vast majority of NNWS are in compliance with their own safeguards agreements, and the few countries that violate those commitments only serve as spoilers for those following the rules.

The best way for NNWS to defend the inalienable rights enshrined in Article IV is to vigilantly protect against those seeking to abuse it.

The IAEA has highlighted for years the refusal of both Iran and Syria to cooperate with its investigations, and both have been found in noncompliance with their safeguards obligations. The agency should be given both the legal tools and the political backing to uncover the extent of any illicit nuclear activities.

More broadly, the understanding reached in 1995 that the peaceful use of nuclear energy should be pursued “in conformity with articles I, II, as well as III of the Treaty,” should be reaffirmed during the next review process. It is through the confidence built by safeguards that countries show that they are in compliance with their article II obligations.

NPT parties should also reaffirm the safeguards requirement to provide early design information regarding the construction of any new nuclear facilities, rejecting any unilateral reinterpretation of that responsibility.

The Middle East Resolution

The agreement to hold a conference on a Middle East WMD-Free zone was critical to the success of the 2010 Review Conference. Building on that decision will no doubt be vital to maintaining confidence in the regime in 2015.

In that light, merely holding the conference is not enough to show that progress has been made; nor should we expect the conference to chart a path to the zone’s establishment in one meeting. There is, however, plenty of room in between.

The most important contribution such a conference can make is the initiation of a process, with identified follow-on steps, to further discuss both definitional issues regarding elements of the zone and potential early confidence-building measures. For instance, all states should recognize that interim steps such as ratification of the CTBT, would contribute to regional stability and reduce nuclear dangers.

Naturally, the challenges to merely hold a conference will need to be surmounted before then. The attendance of all relevant countries will be crucial to any positive outcome, and the participants will need to ensure that there is an atmosphere conducive to constructive discussion, rather than an attempt to isolate Israel. Indeed, the 1995 Resolution creates obligations for all countries in the region to take “practical steps towards” a zone free of WMD and the means to deliver them, as well as refraining from actions that would preclude that objective. Unless such comprehensive responsibilities are recognized, the conference will be a wasted effort.

Building on Success

Last year NPT members reinvigorated the treaty that lies at the cornerstone of the nonproliferation regime. But strengthening that regime is not simply a matter of agreements made every five years. What matters is what states do to carry out those agreements. Over the next four years, states will need to build on their latest success, and generate the momentum that can carry forward the disarmament and nonproliferation agenda once again in 2015.

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Remarks by Peter Crail, Research Analyst, Arms Control Association, at the ASAN Institute for Policy Studies ASAN PLENUM 2011: Our Nuclear Future conference, 2011 Panel: Evaluating the 2010 NPT Review Conference, Seoul, South Korea June 13-15,

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Iran’s First Power Reactor Goes Critical

Peter Crail

After decades of setbacks, Iran’s first nuclear power reactor started operations May 8, according to Atomstroyexport, the Russian state company responsible for the construction and initial operations of the reactor. In a May 10 statement, the firm said that the reactor, located near the coastal city of Bushehr, achieved “the minimum controlled power level” and its first sustained chained reaction two days earlier.

Russian and Iranian officials said in May that it will take weeks for the reactor to reach full power and start generating electricity.

The reactor has undergone a long and complicated construction history with perennial delays. Germany’s Kraftwerk Union began construction of two reactors at Bushehr in 1975 under a commission by the shah, but the project was discontinued following the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

Moscow agreed to take over construction of the first reactor in 1992 with work beginning three years later. Completion of the project has stalled several times since the initial deadline in July 1999.

In public statements, Russian officials have cited technical and financial reasons for the setbacks, but diplomats familiar with the process have said that Moscow also held up construction to place political pressure on Iran over its nuclear program.

The latest delay occurred in February when one of the reactor’s cooling pumps was found damaged, leading to a last-minute unloading of the fuel. (See ACT, April 2011.)

The technical hurdle occurred just weeks before a series of natural disasters crippled a Japanese nuclear power plant and spread radiation from the reactors, raising broader fears about the safety of nuclear reactors, including the Bushehr plant.

Florence Mangin, the French permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), raised such concerns May 5, citing Iran’s unwillingness to join a key international accord on nuclear safety. Azerbaijan’s Trend news agency quoted Mangin as stating that her concerns about Bushehr were not based on the reactor design, but were “a matter of global safety environment, regulatory infrastructure and safety culture.” The French embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for confirmation of and elaboration on Mangin’s reported remarks.

Iran is the only country in the world ready to start a [nuclear power plant] without being a contracting party to the [Convention on Nuclear Safety],” she added.

Iranian officials have defended the safety precautions taken regarding the reactor. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told reporters May 17, “Iran’s first priority has always been the safety of the power plant.”

The startup of the reactor also may carry implications for the prospects of military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Proponents of military strikes against Iran, such as former U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations John Bolton, have warned that waiting until the reactor goes critical carried the risk of spreading radioactive material in the region.

“Once the rods are in the reactor, an attack on the reactor risks spreading radiation in the air, and perhaps into the water of the Persian Gulf,” Bolton told the Fox News Network Aug. 13. He said that Israel should have attacked the reactor by the end of last August, before it was fueled.

Although Bolton expressed concern that Iran might use the reactor to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons, Washington has maintained for years that the Bushehr reactor is not a serious nonproliferation threat. In 2005 the United States dropped its initial opposition to Russia’s construction of the reactor after Moscow secured an agreement from Tehran to return the reactor’s spent fuel to Russia. (See ACT, April 2010.) That agreement is intended to prevent Iran from reprocessing the spent fuel to extract plutonium for weapons.

Under normal operations, light-water reactors such as the Bushehr unit do not produce plutonium of a quality appropriate for nuclear weapons. The reactor operations can be adjusted to produce better-quality plutonium, but such activities would be detectable by IAEA inspectors because they would entail shutting down the reactor very early in its operating cycle.

The Bushehr plant is the first nuclear power reactor in the Middle East. Several countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, recently have signaled plans to build their own power reactors in the coming years.

 

After decades of delays, Iran’s first nuclear power reactor, built by Russian state company Atomstroyexport, began operations May 8. Spent fuel from the reactor is to be sent to Russia.

Sanctions Seen Slowing Iran Nuclear Work

Peter Crail

International sanctions are limiting Iran’s ability to acquire items for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, a UN report evaluating sanctions against Iran said.

The report, a copy of which was obtained by Arms Control Today, adds that “sanctions are slowing Iran’s nuclear programme but not yet having an impact on the decision calculus of its leadership with respect to halting enrichment and heavy water-related activities.” Uranium enrichment and the use of heavy-water reactors are steps that can be used to produce material for nuclear weapons.

The report says that Iran also has continued to violate sanctions by illegally importing and exporting restricted goods, technology, and weapons.

The report was written by a panel of experts formed last November to assess the implementation of four rounds of UN Security Council sanctions against Iran. According to the report, it is difficult to assess the impact of the UN sanctions in isolation, given the imposition of “stronger and more comprehensive” sanctions in place by a number of individual countries and the European Union. The eight-person UN panel made 30 recommendations to the council for strengthening the implementation of the sanctions, including extending penalties to an additional three Iranian individuals and three Iranian entities involved in violating UN prohibitions.

Russia has blocked the public release of the report, issuing complaints about some of its conclusions and recommendations. “We believe that it is a loose and sloppy piece of work, and we believe that there are some recommendations which our experts do not agree with at all,” Russian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin told reporters May 13.

Iran’s nuclear and missile programs have been vulnerable to sanctions because they still rely on foreign suppliers for key goods Iran finds difficult to produce indigenously, according to the UN report.

Such goods include a list of 10 “choke point items” critical for Iran’s uranium-enrichment program, which lies at the center of concerns over its nuclear aspirations. The report notes, however, that some of these items do not fall under international controls. Some of the items are relevant to Iran’s development of more-advanced centrifuges, which would allow Iran to enrich uranium at far greater speeds than it currently can, once such machines are developed and installed. U.S. officials have said that Iran has faced difficulties importing some of these items, such as carbon fiber, for the new machines. (See ACT, April 2011.)

The sanctions also may be slowing Iran’s ability to acquire high-quality goods necessary for its ballistic missile program, the UN report said, particularly in the area of developing and manufacturing solid-fuel missile systems such as the 2,000 kilometer-range Sajjil-2.

According to the report, Iran can produce solid-fuel propellant indigenously, but still relies on foreign suppliers for key materials, such as aluminium powder. The report details a case in which a shipment of aluminium powder bound for Iran, enough for 100 metric tons of rocket propellant, was intercepted by Singaporean authorities last September.

Michael Elleman, a senior fellow with the International Institute for Strategic Studies and former missile expert with the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission in Iraq, said in a May 24 e-mail that “forcing Iran to change suppliers frequently will stress their quality control system, and ultimately the reliability of its solid propellant rockets and missiles.”

Although “supplier disruptions will only modestly impact the production and reliability of their smaller rockets,” he said, “Iranian engineers will be greatly challenged attempting to continue development of the much larger Sajjil-2 because the bigger the solid rocket motor, the more susceptible it is to changes in the starting ingredients.”

Financial Sanctions

UN efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring such items are not limited to denying their export to Iran. According to the UN report, financial sanctions targeting Iranian personnel and firms involved in Iran’s nuclear and missile programs also limit Iran’s ability to purchase sensitive goods.

“Iranian individuals and entities find themselves increasingly cut-off from international financial markets, making it increasingly difficult to find ways to pay in U.S. dollars or euros for the equipment” needed for their prohibited programs, the report said.

The Security Council has imposed financial restrictions on a total of 41 Iranian individuals and 75 Iranian entities determined to be involved in Iran’s nuclear and missile programs. Other countries, including the United States and the 27 members of the European Union, have imposed financial sanctions on additional persons and firms inside and outside Iran.

The UN report notes that the impact that sanctions have had in slowing Iran’s illicit programs has been due in part to states taking greater steps to implement them by “strengthening [national] export controls” and “exercising vigilance through their financial and regulatory bodies, port and customs authorities.”

Because of these efforts, the report concludes, Iran has been compelled to seek items “that fall below controlled thresholds” in order to evade sanctions. These goods do not fall under international restrictions because they are not of sufficient quality or built to the parameters directly relevant for Iran’s nuclear and missile programs, but still can aid Iran in producing controlled items indigenously.

In addition to seeking such items, Iran has employed a number of methods to circumvent sanctions to obtain high-quality goods and technology from major suppliers, the report said. These methods include establishing front companies, concealing items during shipping, reflagging shipping vessels, and masking financial transactions. Several of the panel’s recommendations are aimed at strengthening controls over sensitive goods and technology and bolstering financial regulatory systems in order to combat Iran’s sanctions evasion techniques.

Continuing Arms Smuggling

In addition to evading sanctions against its procurement of goods for its nuclear and missile programs, Iran has been transferring arms abroad although a 2007 Security Council resolution bars Tehran from selling conventional arms and prohibits any country from importing arms from Iran.

The report cites nine incidents since 2007 reported by various countries involving the illicit transfer of conventional arms by Iran. Syria was the reported destination of illicit arms for six of those incidents. “Syria’s apparent role in illegal arms transfers by Iran is a serious violation of its Security Council obligations,” the report said.

Additional reported destinations included Afghanistan, Egypt, and Gambia. Investigation by the panel uncovered no evidence of payment by recipients for the arms shipments, leading to the panel’s conclusion that the arms transfers were not intended to generate revenue. Instead, the panel concludes that through its conventional arms trafficking, Iran’s aim appears to be “increasing its influence in developing regions such as Africa, Asia, and Latin America.”

Congress Eyes More Sanctions

As the UN weighs the impact of international sanctions against Iran, legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in May to expand U.S. unilateral sanctions aimed at Iran’s energy partners.

The House bill, introduced May 16 and sponsored by Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), limits the presidential authority to waive certain sanctions and imposes additional penalties on firms and individuals doing business with Iran’s energy sector, using methods that include denying U.S. entry visas. Ros-Lehtinen said in a May 16 press statement that the new sanctions sought “to close loopholes in current sanctions legislation which have allowed the administration to avoid imposing the full range of available U.S. sanctions against the Iranian regime.”

A Senate bill introduced May 23 is aimed at forcing the administration to impose such energy-related sanctions as well, but it also targets foreign firms doing business with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which increasingly has been engaged in all levels of the Iranian economy.

The 1996 Iran Sanctions Act first targeted firms investing in Iran’s energy sector, but successive administrations have argued that imposing sanctions on U.S. allies and other diplomatic partners would undermine international efforts to address Iran’s proliferation. Sanctions were imposed under the 1996 law for the first time last September, after the law was significantly expanded in June 2010 to include firms selling refined petroleum products to Iran. (See ACT, July/August 2010.)

The Obama administration on May 23 increased the number of firms penalized under the sanctions, targeting an additional seven firms in locations including Israel, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela, all of which provided Iran with refined petroleum. Penalties against the seven firms varied.

The same day, the administration imposed nonproliferation-related sanctions on 14 firms and two individuals for contributing to Iran’s nuclear and missile programs.

Administration officials have pointed out that sanctions do not need to be levied against firms in order to be effective. According to the transcript of a May 24 background briefing by senior administration officials, since last June several major energy firms have stopped doing business with Iran, including providing Iran with refined petroleum and refueling Iran Air flights.

The EU significantly expanded its own sanctions against Iran on May 23, targeting 100 individuals and firms with links to Iran’s proscribed programs. The targeted entities include the European-Iranian Trade Bank, which a senior U.S. official described during the May 24 briefing as “a major Iranian bank that provided access to Iran to European financial markets.”

 

A yet-to-be-released UN report says that international sanctions are hindering Iran’s efforts to import goods for its nuclear and missile programs. But the report cautions that Iran is continuing its efforts to evade sanctions.

G-8 Extends WMD Initiative

Peter Crail

Leaders from the Group of Eight (G-8) major world economies agreed during a two-day annual summit in Deauville, France, to extend a 10-year effort aimed at reducing threats from nonconventional weapons.

The eight countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) launched the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction at the group’s 2002 summit in Kananaskis, Canada. They pledged $20 billion over 10 years to fund projects safeguarding and destroying nonconventional weapons and materials in the former Soviet Union.

In a May 27 declaration from Deauville, the G-8 leaders welcomed “the concrete achievements and measurable results” of the Global Partnership and agreed to extend the initiative for an unspecified period beyond its 2012 expiration. Rather than pledging a given amount of funding for additional threat reduction projects as in 2002, the declaration said that participants in the partnership “will decide on funding of such projects on a national, joint, or multilateral basis.”

In a May 31 interview, Bonnie Jenkins, the Department of State coordinator for threat reduction programs, said the G-8 partners will focus on determining funding and specific projects over the next year, adding that the benefit of agreeing on an extension a year early is that there is time to agree on the details. The G-8 also said it would expand membership beyond the 23 countries that currently participate in the partnership. Jenkins said new partners would likely include participants in last year’s nuclear security summit and other countries already involved in funding similar initiatives.

The G-8 first took up the prospect of extending the partnership during the annual summit last year in Muskoka, Canada, but G-8 diplomats said last month that the eight countries could not reach agreement on extension at that time due to opposition from Germany. The diplomats said that Germany’s concerns about extending the initiative were related both to financial considerations stemming from the global recession and to uncertainties about new types of projects in which it would be more difficult to determine whether funds were being used effectively.

Global Partnership projects initially were carried out in Russia and Ukraine and focused on destroying chemical weapons, dismantling nuclear submarines, disposing of nuclear weapons-usable material, and employing scientists who had worked on nonconventional weapons. The G-8 agreed in 2008 to expand the initiative’s activities worldwide and has increasingly engaged in threat reduction efforts beyond the four priority areas. (See ACT, September 2008.)

Highlighting some of the changes in the nature of Global Partnership efforts since 2002, a State Department official told Arms Control Today last October that “now we’re in a new CTR [Cooperative Threat Reduction] environment that’s not as clear-cut as before,” adding that “we need time to figure out where the threats are, what the priorities are, and what to fund first.” The official said that the new CTR environment involved not only the expansion of activities outside the former Soviet Union, but also new efforts such as biosecurity, radiological security, and export controls.

The May 27 declaration said that the G-8 remained “committed to completing priority projects in Russia.”

The State Department official noted that although Germany did not agree last year to extend the Global Partnership, it was still engaged in funding a variety of other nonproliferation initiatives, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Nuclear Security Fund.

The May 27 declaration also reiterated the G-8’s commitment, first made in 2009, to adopt criteria being considered by the 46-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) for the transfer of technologies related to uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing, both of which can be used to produce material for nuclear weapons. All G-8 members also participate in the NSG, which is meeting this month in the Netherlands.

In 2009 the G-8 agreed to implement for one year the proposed criteria for sensitive exports, pending a decision by the NSG regarding the adoption of such rules. It renewed that commitment in 2010. The NSG has not yet completed its negotiations on the criteria, which were proposed in November 2008.

In a likely reference to a proposal last year that India be allowed to join the NSG and other multilateral export control regimes (see ACT, December 2010), the G-8 said that it would “consider the enlargement of the suppliers’ groups to responsible stakeholders in a manner consistent with the groups’ procedures and objectives.”

A key criterion for membership in the NSG is that the country is a party to and complying with the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) or a nuclear-weapon-free-zone treaty. A decision to allow India to join would mark the first exception to that policy.The NSG was formed largely in response to India’s 1974 nuclear test. Until 2008, India was not eligible to receive exports from NSG members because it is a non-NPT state and does not open all its nuclear facilities to international inspections. But in response to a U.S.-led initiative, the group agreed to lift that requirement for India in return for certain nonproliferation “commitments and actions.” (See ACT, October 2008.)

 

The Group of Eight major economies agreed to extend a 2002 initiative aimed at securing and eliminating nonconventional weapons and materials. The decision comes a year before the original mandate for the effort was set to expire.

Iran Says It Needs More 20%-Enriched Fuel

Peter Crail

Iran will need to increase its production of 20 percent-enriched uranium, Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Director Fereydoun Abbasi said April 11, a move that may further complicate international diplomatic efforts addressing Iran’s nuclear program.

He told the Iranian Students News Agency that Iran will build four or five reactors for research and medical isotope production in the coming years and that the reactors will use 20 percent-enriched uranium fuel. “We will increase the volume of the 20 percent enrichment based on the country’s needs,” he said.

The five permanent UN Security Council members (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and Germany—the P5+1—have stressed that any negotiated confidence-building measure on Iran’s nuclear program must include a halt to Iran’s production of 20 percent-enriched uranium. (See ACT, March 2011.)

After the breakdown of initial talks in the fall of 2009 between the P5+1 and Iran to provide Iran with fuel for its Tehran Research Reactor (TRR), Iran began increasing the enrichment level of a portion of its uranium from 4 percent to about 20 percent in February 2010, claiming that it would use the material to fuel the reactor. (See ACT, March 2010.) The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a report this February stating that Iran produced a total of about 44 kilograms of 20 percent-enriched uranium by the middle of that month.

Most nuclear power reactors operate on uranium enriched to about 4 percent of the fissile isotope uranium-235, but many research reactors, including the TRR, operate on fuel enriched to about 20 percent. Uranium enriched to 20 percent can be used to shorten the time frame to produce weapons-grade uranium, which is generally enriched to about 90 percent or higher.

Since Iran began producing uranium enriched to about 20 percent last year, Iranian officials have issued conflicting statements about whether the country would continue the process if it received fuel from abroad, claiming on some occasions that 20 percent enrichment would stop if Iran received fuel and at other times that it would continue anyway. (See ACT, June 2010.) The Iranian parliament passed legislation last July supporting the continued production of 20 percent-enriched uranium.

Despite Iran’s stated intention to use the 20 percent-enriched uranium to produce fuel for the TRR, its ability to do so has come under question. Former IAEA safeguards chief Olli Heinonen said last November that Iran would still need one to two years to manufacture fuel for the TRR safely.

Centrifuge Manufacturing Site

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted by the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) April 9 as stating that an industrial complex called Taba, about 80 miles west of Tehran, was one of several sites involved in manufacturing centrifuges for Iran’s uranium-enrichment program. Salehi’s statement was in response to a claim two days earlier by the dissident group National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which announced at a Washington press conference April 7 that Iran had used the Taba site to produce parts for about 100,000 centrifuges.

The NCRI is an arm of the Mujahedeen-e Khalq, which the United States designates as a foreign terrorist organization. Although Iran has confirmed the centrifuge manufacturing activities at the Taba site, the NCRI’s claim about the number of centrifuge components produced there is inconsistent with IAEA and expert estimates that Iran has produced components for 10,000 to 12,000 machines.

The IAEA has sought access to Iran’s centrifuge manufacturing sites since February 2006, when Iran stopped providing the agency with expanded access under an additional protocol to its safeguards agreement with the IAEA. Without that protocol, the IAEA does not have the legal authority to inspect Iran’s centrifuge manufacturing plants. IRNA quoted Iran’s IAEA envoy, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, as saying April 12, “Iran has no obligation to allow inspectors to inspect this factory,” referring to the Taba site.

Salehi also announced April 9 that Russia is reloading the fuel for Iran’s first nuclear power plant at Bushehr after it was abruptly unloaded in February due to damage to a reactor cooling pump. He said the plant would go critical early this month.

 

Iran says that it will continue to produce 20 percent-enriched uranium for reactors it intends to build, a move likely to complicate international efforts to address Tehran’s nuclear program.

 

China Proposes Steps to N. Korea Talks

Peter Crail

China last month proposed a three-step process to revive multilateral talks addressing North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

Chinese Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Affairs Wu Dawei outlined the proposed process to reporters in Beijing April 18, following a meeting with North Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye Gwan, who also serves as Pyongyang’s nuclear envoy. Wu said the process would begin with discussions on the nuclear issue between North and South Korea, followed by similar discussions between North Korea and the United States, which would lead to the resumption of the so-called six-party talks.

The talks have been held intermittently since 2003 to address North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. China serves as the chair for the talks, which also involve Japan, the two Koreas, Russia, and the United States. Pyongyang backed out of the negotiations in April 2009 in response to the UN Security Council’s censure of its rocket launch earlier that month.

North Korea rebuffed a South Korean proposal this January to hold bilateral denuclearization talks prior to resuming multilateral negotiations. Diplomatic sources said in April that North Korea preferred to discuss the nuclear issue with the United States.

The new Chinese proposal is a slight variation on a three-step process Beijing proposed in late 2009 that would have begun with talks between the United States and North Korea and followed with preliminary discussions among the six parties leading to the formal resumption of the multilateral talks. The countries were unable to agree on that formula, particularly after the sinking of a South Korean patrol ship in March 2010, which an international investigation determined was caused by a North Korean torpedo. Last November, North Korea also shelled the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, killing two South Korean soldiers and two civilians.

South Korea has demanded that North Korea apologize for the two attacks prior to reviving the six-party talks, a step the North has refused to take. Working-level military talks in February between the two countries broke down over the issue of the two attacks, with the North Korean delegation walking out during the second day of the meeting. (See ACT, March 2011.)

The United States has backed South Korea’s position, with Department of State spokesman Mark Toner telling reporters April 18 that “a successful rapprochement between North and South Korea is an essential first step before we can consider getting involved diplomatically again or even talk about six-party talks.”

South Korea and the United States also have maintained that North Korea must take steps to demonstrate its commitment to making progress on denuclearization.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates provided the first public indication of what such steps may entail during a Jan. 11 press briefing in Beijing when he called on North Korea to adopt a moratorium on further nuclear and missile tests. The UN Security Council has required that North Korea halt such testing since 2006.

In addition, U.S. national security adviser Tom Donilon told a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace audience March 29, “Those [denuclearization] steps must include monitored suspension of their newly declared uranium-enrichment program.”

Last November, North Korea revealed that it had built a uranium-enrichment plant it said was intended to provide fuel for a light-water nuclear power reactor it would construct. (See ACT, December 2010.) The United States and its allies have long expressed concern that North Korea was working to develop a uranium-enrichment capability in secret, allowing Pyongyang to make weapons from highly enriched uranium as well as plutonium.

North Korea denied pursuing an enrichment capability for years, admitting such work publicly for the first time in 2009 after it left the six-party talks.

Although Seoul and Washington have maintained that North Korea must take steps toward North-South rapprochement and denuclearization prior to the formal resumption of six-party talks, the two countries also have suggested that bilateral discussions could happen before such steps are taken. The Korea Times quoted South Korean Unification Minister Hyun In-taek April 18 as stating, “I’m not saying those things are necessarily preconditions for North-South dialogue, but without them it would be very difficult to produce results.”

The last formal negotiations on the nuclear issue between North and South Korea, which took place in January 2009, were aimed at the removal of about 12,000 fresh nuclear fuel rods from North Korea. If used to operate North Korea’s five-megawatt nuclear reactor, the rods could yield enough plutonium for several additional nuclear weapons if North Korea reprocessed the spent fuel.

Diplomatic sources said at that time that North Korea asked for an exorbitant amount of energy assistance in return, making the talks inconclusive.

Former U.S Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson said at a Dec. 21 press briefing in Beijing that North Korean officials told him during his visit to Pyongyang earlier that month that the country would be willing to discuss the removal of the fresh fuel.

Richardson is one of several former U.S. diplomats that have held unofficial meetings with North Korean officials in recent months to discuss the nuclear issue informally. Former President Jimmy Carter also traveled to North Korea at the end of April in an effort to restart negotiations and discuss humanitarian issues in the country.

Efforts to resume negotiations with North Korea come amid warnings that the country might take steps to enhance its nuclear and missile capabilities if talks do not resume. The Korea Times reported April 19 that National Intelligence Service Director Won Sei-hoon told a parliamentary intelligence panel that North Korea is seeking dialogue now, but may carry out nuclear or missile tests or other military provocations if no progress is made. Parliamentary member Hwang Jin-ha, who attended the closed session, told reporters the same day that Won said there was only “a slim possibility” of a nuclear test in the near future, although North Korea could conduct one “at any time.”

Gates said in January that Pyongyang’s continuing development of nuclear weapons and missile capabilities “is becoming a direct threat to the United States,” adding, “We consider this a situation of real concern, and we think there is some urgency to proceeding down the track of negotiations and engagement.”

 

China has proposed a three-step process to revive multilateral negotiations on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. The United States and South Korea, however, say that North Korea must meet certain conditions before talks can restart.

 

UN Bolsters WMD Nonproliferation Body

Peter Crail

The UN Security Council unanimously agreed April 20 to a 10-year extension for a committee that oversees an international effort to prevent terrorists and other nonstate actors from acquiring weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

The council established the committee in 2004 under Security Council Resolution 1540, which requires all countries to adopt and enforce a series of national laws criminalizing the possession of unconventional weapons; securing materials, facilities, and technologies used to make them; and adopting export controls to prevent their spread. (See ACT, May 2004.)

The committee is a subbody of the council. It comprises the 15 council members and is assisted by a panel of eight experts.

The 10-year mandate contained in Resolution 1977 departs from the council’s more limited extensions of the body for two years in 2006 and three years in 2008. Diplomats familiar with the process said the extension was a compromise between council members seeking an indefinite extension of the body, including the United States, and those preferring an extension closer to another three years.

In his final formal briefing to the council as chair of the 1540 Committee Nov. 15, Mexican Permanent Representative to the United Nations Claude Heller suggested a 10-year extension in order to improve long-term planning.

The role of the committee in overseeing compliance was also a matter of debate within the council. Thomas Wuchte, the Department of State’s senior adviser and special coordinator for United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540, said in an April 28 e-mail to Arms Control Today that some countries “wanted to be sure the committee did not become a tool for enforcing compliance or naming and shaming states that still lack the capacity to fully implement [Resolution] 1540 domestically.”

He added that Washington views the committee “as a facilitator rather than enforcer.”

Noting the committee’s role in facilitating assistance, Indian Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Manjeev Singh Puri said in remarks to the council following the April 20 vote that the extension was carried out “with a view to help plan assistance and cooperation programs for states requesting such assistance from the 1540 Committee on a long-term and predictable basis.”

An April 20 White House statement called the continuation of the committee’s work “an important element of the United States’ nonproliferation objectives” and highlighted a March 31 White House announcement that Washington intended to contribute $3 million to a UN-administered fund to support the committee’s efforts to assist states in implementing Resolution 1540’s requirements.

Wuchte said the contribution would be used to “help set up and properly resource the process for coordinating assistance, rather than directly fund assistance programs themselves.” The fund is administered jointly by the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs and the 1540 Committee, although the United States provides guidance for the use of its contributions.

Resolution 1977 encourages states to provide such contributions or to make available free training and expertise to facilitate the committee’s efforts to help states adopt and enforce nonproliferation laws.

Even with the show of support for the committee’s goals by the unanimous adoption of Resolution 1977, some countries were still cautious about its focus on proliferation in the absence of a similar consideration of WMD disarmament. After voting in favor of the resolution, Brazilian Permanent Representative to the UN Luiza Ribeiro Viotti told the council that “restricting our efforts only to fighting proliferation represents a limited perspective.” She called for states that possess unconventional weapons to take “concrete actions” toward disarmament.

Brazil issued a similar call to strike a balance between nonproliferation and disarmament in 2004 when it voted in favor of Resolution 1540, along with several other developing countries.

When Resolution 1540 was passed, many states also expressed strong reservations about the council’s ability to require that countries adopt specific types of national legislation, an authority first exercised three years earlier under Resolution 1373. Approved weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, that resolution requires all states to adopt national counterterrorism laws and was used as a model for Resolution 1540’s nonproliferation mandate.

However, such concerns about the council’s role have “subsided significantly” since 2004, as countries have grown more aware of the resolution’s aims and requirements, a Western diplomat said in an April 4 interview. Wuchte agreed with this assessment, saying, “[P]erhaps the most positive aspect of the negotiations on resolution 1977 was the absence of challenges to the legitimacy of [Resolution] 1540.”

“I think it is fair to say that the 1540 Committee has achieved general recognition as an important component of the global nonproliferation architecture,” he said.

In addition to extending the mandate of the 1540 Committee, Resolution 1977 provides extensive guidance for the committee’s work. The resolution focuses particularly on the committee’s efforts to facilitate the provision of resources, training, and other forms of assistance to countries that face difficulties in establishing laws and enforcement mechanisms to prevent WMD proliferation.

In light of this function, O’Neil Hamilton, who serves as the coordinator on Resolution 1540 for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said in an April 20 interview that the committee plays a particularly important role “as a support structure, especially for the global South,” referring to developing countries.

“Without the appropriate spotlight and needed structural support by the international system [in the form of the 1540 Committee], member states with capacity challenges will not be able to move beyond a minimal level of implementation despite their desire to undertake their obligations,” he added.

Resolution 1977 urged the committee to strengthen efforts to ensure that states seeking assistance in developing their national controls over WMD-related goods were matched with states willing to provide expertise and resources. It also requested that the committee compile a list of “effective practices” for such controls, which may be used as guidance for countries in adopting the required national laws.

The council stressed the need for greater cooperation between the committee and international and regional organizations on Resolution 1540’s implementation. Specifically, it called for such organizations to appoint a coordinator or point of contact.

CARICOM, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the Central American Integration System have previously made such appointments, and other regional bodies have been considering doing the same.

The council tasked the committee with reviewing its operations in five years, as well as prior to the end of its mandate in April 2021.

 

 

The UN Security Council unanimously agreed to a 10-year extension for the committee created by Resolution 1540 to oversee an international effort to prevent terrorists and other nonstate actors from acquiring unconventional weapons.

 

Pakistan Tests Short-Range Missile

Peter Crail

The Pakistani military claimed on April 19 to have successfully tested a 60 kilometer-range nuclear-capable ballistic missile, a move that might indicate Islamabad’s intention to develop low-yield nuclear weapons for use on the battlefield.

The missile, called the Hatf 9, “could carry nuclear warheads of appropriate yields with high accuracy,” the Pakistani military said in a press statement. The statement added, “This quick response system addresses the need to deter evolving threats.”

Pakistan and its nuclear-armed rival, India, have continued to produce fissile material to increase their nuclear weapons stockpiles, and both countries persist in developing and testing ballistic missiles and other delivery systems.

Because of India’s conventional military superiority, however, Pakistan is believed to be seeking both a degree of nuclear parity and a means to neutralize India’s nonnuclear capabilities.

Islamabad is currently constructing additional nuclear reactors similar to those it already uses to produce plutonium for weapons. Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program traditionally has focused on highly enriched uranium (HEU) as the nuclear explosive material. However, plutonium is better suited than HEU to producing the type of compact nuclear weapons intended for use in war-fighting.

 

The Pakistani military claimed on April 19 to have successfully tested a 60 kilometer-range nuclear-capable ballistic missile, a move that might indicate Islamabad’s intention to develop low-yield nuclear weapons for use on the battlefield.

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