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"...the Arms Control Association [does] so much to keep the focus on the issues so important to everyone here, to hold our leaders accountable to inspire creative thinking and to press for change. So we are grateful for your leadership and for the unyielding dedication to global nuclear security."
– Lord Des Browne
Vice Chairman, Nuclear Threat Initiative
Kelsey Davenport

Profile: State Dept. Targets ‘Generation Prague’

Kelsey Davenport

Since 2010, the State Department has hosted an annual conference on arms control and disarmament to support President Barack Obama’s vision of a world without nuclear weapons, with students and young professionals in the field as its principal target audience.

In interviews, participants in the conferences praised the meetings while suggesting ways to strengthen the effort.

The State Department uses the term “Generation Prague” to refer to the conferences and the next generation of professionals working in arms control. The term is an allusion to Obama’s speech outlining nuclear policy in Prague on April 5, 2009.

The State Department created the Generation Prague concept in 2010 to provide a “forum and framework for collaboration” with young professionals, students, and foreign governments that were energized by the Prague speech, Erin Harbaugh, outreach officer for the State Department’s Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, told Arms Control Today in an Aug. 25 e-mail.

Now in its fifth year, Generation Prague is an event for “educating and empowering the next generation,” Alexandra Bell, director for strategic outreach in the Office of the Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security, said in the same e-mail.

Young people view nuclear weapons “through a completely different lens” in comparison to other generations because many were born after the Cold War, Bell said. The conferences give emerging leaders an opportunity to discuss nuclear policies that will fit in a more interconnected world, she said.

Making Disarmament ‘Relatable’

Participants at the conference said they benefited from the experience. For Brenna Gautam, a senior at the University of Notre Dame who attended the conference while working as an intern in Washington, the gathering presented “a more relatable image of the issue of disarmament and arms control.” Gautam, a co-founder of her university’s Global Zero chapter, said in an Aug. 20 e-mail that this is important because she feels that nuclear disarmament is “not a very personal issue” for her generation.

Erin Corcoran, a recent college graduate with an interest in the field, said in an Aug. 21 e-mail that, for young professionals to continue making progress in reducing the threat of nuclear weapons, it is important to learn about the gravity of the threat posed by these weapons from “predecessors who lived and worked through the Cold War.”

Officials also say they benefit from the conferences. An Energy Department official said in a July 28 interview that the students and young professionals at Generation Prague have “challenged and broadened his thinking.” He said experts need to be reminded that youth “view the value of nuclear weapons differently” because the weapons do not have the same deterrent value today as they did during the Cold War.

One of the young professionals he mentioned was Kingston Reif, who participated in a 2011 panel and is now the director of nuclear nonproliferation at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.

Reif said in an Aug. 20 e-mail that he was motivated to participate because nuclear threat reduction is the responsibility not only of previous generations, “but our generation and future generations as well.”

Although the conferences bring in high-level officials such as Rose Gottemoeller, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Bell said the State Department has also worked to bring in experts from the “policy trenches” to ensure that the “audience gets an idea of how policy is working from top to bottom.”

Shane Mason said he appreciated the opportunity to meet experts who have been in the field for five to 10 years and support high-level officials. Mason, a research associate at the Stimson Center, said in an Aug. 20 e-mail that these experts provide “practical insights” about finding jobs and developing the necessary skills for the field.

Increasing Participation

Mason said that barriers to careers, particularly at the State Department, “seem pretty insurmountable at times.” Although he acknowledged that budget constraints make hiring difficult, Mason said that young people will not stay in the field if they cannot find jobs.

Bell said a “key driver” for reaching out to young people is demographics, as many experts who “built the arms control and nonproliferation regimes” are reaching retirement age. The State Department “wants to recruit their replacements” and is looking for new ways to hire the next generation of leaders, she said.

Despite the difficulties finding jobs, the number of young people involved in nuclear issues at the global level apparently is growing. Meena Singelee, who has tracked participation by young experts attending conferences that are part of the review process for the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, said the numbers have “gradually increased” since 2010, due in part to “renewed momentum” on disarmament issues and “new priorities” in areas such as nuclear security.

Singelee, executive director of the International Network Emerging Nuclear Specialists, said there remains a “lack of significant participation by young experts from developing countries,” she said.

The State Department is looking to expand Generation Prague to reach international audiences. Bell noted that the State Department has paired with international partners such as the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and representatives from countries including Kazakhstan and Ukraine. Harbaugh said that the State Department sees Generation Prague as “one part of a larger push to engage global youth” and welcomes collaborators.

Moving Forward

Several participants agreed that the conferences could accomplish more. Corcoran said that small-group discussions at future conferences might be useful so that there would be more opportunities to “directly engage” with some of the experts.

Reif suggested that the State Department work with universities on events that bring officials to campuses to “demonstrate that nuclear weapons are not just a problem of the past.”

Gautam agreed and suggested that the State Department work with pre-existing clubs on college campuses that are dedicated to arms control issues. She said a stronger online presence could be helpful in reaching out to students who cannot attend events such as the annual conference in Washington. Streaming the conference live would be a good step, she said.

Harbaugh said that the State Department wants to partner with universities and nongovernmental organizations to “offer more opportunities through the year, in and out of Washington.”

She said plans are already underway for next year’s conference and that organizers hope to make it more “interactive.”

For the past five years, the State Department has hosted an annual conference on arms control and disarmament to heighten interest in the issue among students and young professionals.

China Seen Nearing Sea-Based Deterrent

Brianna Starosciak and Kelsey Davenport

China will soon have its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent, according to a U.S. Defense Department report released last month.

The report said Beijing is placing a “high priority” on updating and developing its submarine force and will soon deploy the Julang-2 (JL-2) submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) on its Jin-class submarine.

The Defense Department is required by law to submit an annual report to Congress on China’s military capabilities and force modernization.

The new Pentagon report estimates that China will begin patrols by Jin-class submarines armed with JL-2 missiles sometime this year. China has three operational Jin-class submarines.

At a June 25 event discussing the Pentagon report, Oriana Mastro, an assistant professor at Georgetown University who specializes in Chinese military and security policy, said China’s current focus is on “defensive nuclear weapons.” But Mastro expressed concern that the Chinese could “start using their weapons the way the Pakistanis do” by “trying to deter conventionally superior countries” with their nuclear weapons.

The JL-2 has an estimated range of 7,400 kilometers, which would allow Beijing to hit Alaska from Chinese waters. The missile was originally anticipated to enter service in 2010, but the program was delayed several times. China conducted two successful tests of the missile in 2012. Last year’s Pentagon report said the JL-2 would reach “initial operating capability in 2013.” (See ACT, June 2013.)

The new report says that China is likely to add as many as five ballistic missile submarines to its fleet over the next decade and then move toward developing a second-generation nuclear-powered submarine.

The Jin-class submarine is designed to carry 12 JL-2 SLBMs. Analysts believe that the predecessor to the Jin class of submarines, called the Xia class, was never deployed outside Chinese waters. The 2011 edition of the Pentagon report characterized the operational status of the Xia-class submarines as “questionable,” a description the report also applied to the JL-1 SLBM, the predecessor of the JL-2. The JL-1 had an estimated range of only 1,700 kilometers. The JL-2, which is the sea-based version of China’s Dong Feng-31 (DF-31) intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), has a much longer range and will increase China’s ability to deter threats from greater distances.

China has emphasized creating a more survivable nuclear force by adding more mobile missiles to its arsenal, the recent Pentagon report said.

Independent estimates put China’s total nuclear force at about 250 warheads of all types; 180 are thought to be nondeployed, or in reserve. In last year’s report, the Pentagon estimated that China has 50 to 75 ICBMs and a large number of shorter-range systems able to deliver nuclear weapons.

One of the mobile missiles that China has deployed is the DF-31A. It is an ICBM with an estimated range of 11,200 kilometers, meaning it can reach most of the continental United States.

China also is developing its road-mobile DF-41 ICBM. The Pentagon report said that the DF-41 is “possibly capable” of carrying multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs). This is the only missile in the Chinese arsenal currently declared by the government to have a MIRV capability, according to the report. The Pentagon report said China probably would equip future missiles with MIRVs.

It is not clear when the DF-41 missile will be deployed. It was most recently tested last December.

According to the Pentagon report, increases in the number of mobile ICBMs and the beginning of deterrence patrols with Jin-class submarines will force China to “implement more sophisticated command and control systems and processes” in order to “safeguard the integrity” of the launch authority for a “larger, more dispersed force.”

Mark Stokes, former senior country director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolia in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense of International Security Affairs, said at the June 25 event that “the most significant aspect of this development” is who will have “custodianship” over the warheads when they are deployed at sea. Currently, China’s North Sea and South Sea fleets do not have peacetime custodianship of nuclear weapons, said Stokes, who is executive director of the Project 2049 Institute. Control now remains centralized, which is a “very effective way of ensuring peace and stability,” he said.

The Pentagon report states that China has more than 1,000 short-range ballistic missiles in its arsenal and is adding conventionally armed medium-range ballistic missiles.

China has also developed an anti-ship missile called the CSS-5 Mod 5 (DF-21D) with a range of 1,500 kilometers and a maneuverable warhead.

A Pentagon report released last month says that China will soon have its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent.

Iran Provides Detonator Details to IAEA

Kelsey Davenport

Iran provided the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with information about the country’s past development of a detonator that could be used as a trigger in nuclear weapons, the agency said last month in a quarterly report.

The report also found that Iran is complying with the measures outlined in an interim agreement it reached Nov. 24 with six world powers that restricts its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.

The “technical exchange” with the IAEA on the issues related to possible nuclear weapons development was the first since 2008, the May 23 report said.

According to the report, Iran supplied information on its need for exploding bridge wire detonators and said that the tests were for civilian applications. Although the report did not specify the application, this type of detonator can be used in drilling for oil and gas.

In the report, the IAEA said its assessment of the information that Iran provided is ongoing. The agency will need to evaluate all of the issues related to possible weapons development together as a “system,” the report said. Iran maintains that its nuclear program is entirely peaceful.

Exploding bridge wire detonators were among the issues included in a November 2011 report to the IAEA Board of Governors in which the agency detailed its allegations of Iranian activities with possible relevance for developing nuclear weapons. (See ACT, December 2011.)

Providing information on the detonators was one of seven actions that Iran on Feb. 9 had agreed to take by May 15 to further the agency’s investigations into unresolved IAEA concerns about Iran’s current nuclear program and past actions.

The Feb. 9 announcement followed an agreement reached Nov. 11, in which Iran and the IAEA pledged to cooperate to “resolve all present and past issues.” (See ACT, December 2013.)

The other actions Iran agreed to take during the February talks include providing the IAEA with access to the Saghand uranium mine and to Iran’s uranium-concentration plant for refining uranium ore; information on the heavy-water reactor at Arak, which is under construction; and access to a center that was used in the past for laser uranium-enrichment experiments.

The May 23 IAEA report said that Iran completed these actions.

Man Charged for Violating Iran Sanctions

The U.S. Justice Department indicted a Chinese national April 28 for violating sanctions on Iran. The indictment’s seven counts include several for the sale of materials that could be used in Iran’s nuclear and missile programs.

The charges against Li Fangwei, also known as Karl Lee, include using the U.S. financial system to facilitate the illegal transactions.

The United States has imposed a wide range of sanctions that prohibit Iran from buying goods that could be used for its nuclear and missile programs. The sanctions are part of a broad effort by the United States and other countries, prompted in large part by concerns that Iran could choose to develop nuclear weapons. Additional sanctions are aimed at preventing any entity from using U.S. financial institutions for illicit business transactions with Iranian banks.

According to an April 29 Justice Department press release, Li’s companies have conducted business totaling $8.5 million with Iranian entities since 2006. The release said Li is a “principal contributor to Iran’s ballistic missile program” and is a supplier of Iran’s Defense Industries Organization and Aerospace Industries Organization.

Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in the press release that the allegations showed that Li used “subterfuge and deceit to continue to evade U.S. sanctions.”

In 2009, Li was prohibited from doing business within the United States without a license from the Treasury Department after investigations concluded he was supplying Iran with banned items that could be used to develop weapons.

According to the press release, Li never applied for a license, and the 2009 restriction forced him “to operate much of his business covertly.” Li developed a network of “China-based front companies to conceal his continuing participation” in activities that violate U.S. sanctions, the release said.

The U.S. government has seized more than $6.8 billion from bank accounts attributed to Li’s front companies. In addition, the Treasury Department added eight of the companies to a list of entities that are blocked from doing business in the United States.

Li is currently a fugitive, and the United States is offering a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest.—KELSEY DAVENPORT

    New Measures

    Iran and the IAEA have agreed on five new actions that Iran is to take by Aug. 25, according to a May 21 joint statement by Tehran and the agency. In one of the actions, Iran has pledged to give the IAEA information dealing with allegations that Iran conducted experiments with certain kinds of high explosives that could be relevant to nuclear weapons. Iran also said it would provide information on studies “in Iran in relation to neutron transport and associated modelling and calculations and their alleged application to compressed materials,” another area with direct relevance to nuclear weapons development.

    Under the other measures, Iran is to give the IAEA information on and access to a centrifuge research and development center and centrifuges assembly workshops and to reach agreement with the agency on the “safeguards approach” for the heavy-water reactor at Arak.

    The IAEA and Iran met May 5 to discuss safeguards for the Arak reactor after Iran provided the agency with updated information on the reactor’s design.

    Iran has said it intends to use the Arak reactor for making medical isotopes, but the international community is concerned about the weapons-grade plutonium the reactor will produce in its spent fuel.

    The May 23 report found that Iran is complying with the terms of the Nov. 24 Joint Plan of Action, an initial agreement reached between Iran and the so-called P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States). These countries are currently negotiating a comprehensive deal during the six-month implementation of the initial agreement, which ends July 20.

    One of the key provisions of the initial agreement deals with Iran’s stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 percent. Uranium refined to that level is more easily enriched further to weapons grade than if it begins as reactor-grade uranium, which is enriched to less than 5 percent.

    As part of the Nov. 24 deal, Iran agreed to dilute half of its stockpile of 20 percent-enriched uranium to an enrichment level of less than 5 percent. The May report confirmed that Iran had completed this dilution as required by April 20.

    The remaining half of the 20 percent-enriched uranium is to be converted to a powder form that can be used to make fuel plates for the Tehran Research Reactor, which produces medical isotopes.

    The IAEA reported that Iran had converted about 67 kilograms as of May 19 and that about 38 kilograms remained to be converted before July 20.

    Talks Continue

    Iran and the P5+1 met again May 13-16 in Vienna to continue negotiations and begin drafting the comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.

    In a press conference after the talks, Iran’s deputy chief negotiator, Seyed Abbas Araqchi, said that there was a good “atmosphere” during the talks but that progress is slow and there is “much difficulty.”

    This meeting was preceded by three rounds of talks in February, March, and April, during which both sides laid out their positions.

    A senior U.S. official said during a May 16 press briefing that the talks have entered the “drafting and negotiating phase,” which both sides knew would be difficult. The official said that there are “significant gaps” between the positions of the two sides.

    A European diplomat familiar with the talks said in a May 20 interview that the size of Iran’s uranium-enrichment program will be “one of the more difficult areas [on which] to find compromise” because the sides remain “very far apart in their assessments of Iran’s fuel needs.”

    Under the interim agreement that Iran and the P5+1 reached in November, Iran’s uranium-enrichment program has been frozen at its current levels for six months. The interim agreement says the program should be defined in the comprehensive agreement by Iran’s “practical needs.” (See ACT, December 2013.)

    Iranian officials define “practical needs” as including the projected needs of Iran’s current and future nuclear power plants, so they are pushing to increase Iran’s capacity to enrich uranium over the next decade.

    Iran currently has one nuclear power plant, Bushehr, for which Russia is supplying the fuel under an initial contract that runs until 2021. Tehran has said it plans to build as many as 20 additional power reactors over the coming years.

    Reuters reported May 15 that a senior Iranian official said Iran would need 100,000 IR-1 centrifuges to produce enough fuel for each plant. Under the interim deal, Iran is currently operating about 10,200 IR-1 centrifuges. The IR-1 centrifuge is Iran’s first-generation model. Tehran is testing more-advanced models.

    The P5+1 “will not accept a 100,000-centrifuge uranium-enrichment program in the earlier phases of the deal,” the European diplomat said.

    The P5+1 has not made any public statements regarding the ideal size of Iran’s centrifuge program under the comprehensive agreement, but independent experts say that the P5+1 is likely to ask for reductions in the current number of operating centrifuges.

    In contrast to the three previous rounds of talks, the two sides did not issue a joint statement after the May talks.

    The diplomat said that the lack of a statement should not be seen as a “negative indication.” Deciding on a joint text for a statement was “not a priority” during the discussions because all sides are committed to reaching a deal, he said.

    During the May 16 briefing, the senior U.S. official said that the parties are “concerned about the amount of time left” but that all parties believe an agreement can be reached by the July 20 expiration of the interim agreement. That accord can be extended for six months if all the parties agree.

    Iran provided the International Atomic Energy Agency with details on a detonator that could be used as a trigger in nuclear weapons, the agency said in a report.

    N. Korea Has Nuclear Missile, Expert Says

    Kelsey Davenport

    North Korea probably can make nuclear warheads that are small enough to fit on its ballistic missiles, and activities at its nuclear test site and satellite launch facility likely indicate that Pyongyang is planning further tests to continue improving its nuclear arsenal, a former South Korean official said last month.

    In a May 19 interview, the former official said that Pyongyang can “likely fit a nuclear warhead on a Rodong missile” although it is not certain that the warhead would detonate properly.

    The medium-range Rodong missile, also known as the Nodong, is a deployed system with a range of 1,300 kilometers. This places South Korea, Japan, and parts of China within its range.

    Experts have expressed skepticism in the past about North Korea’s ability to deliver a nuclear warhead via a missile, but that sentiment apparently is beginning to shift.

    The former official said his opinion was based on recent North Korean statements and actions, including a February 2013 nuclear test and two Nodong missile tests in March.

    But he cautioned against the assumption that North Korea has deliverable nuclear warheads.

    When delivered via ballistic missile, nuclear warheads must survive re-entry into the atmosphere, a process that is difficult to perfect even with “advanced resources and technology,” which North Korea does not have, the official said.

    One of the key difficulties in delivering a nuclear warhead via a missile is making it small enough to fit. The process of making a nuclear device compact enough for delivery is often referred to as miniaturization.

    North Korea conducted nuclear tests in October 2006, May 2009, and February 2013. (See ACT, March 2013.) After the 2013 test, North Korea said the device was “smaller and lighter” than past devices. Partly on the basis of that statement, some experts thought that the 2013 test might have used a miniaturized warhead. No public evidence of such a capability has emerged since then.

    According to a U.S. intelligence assessment released in January, Pyongyang’s “employment concepts”—the ways in which it would use nuclear weapons—are unknown.

    Pyongyang is thought to have four to 10 nuclear weapons that are plutonium based. Last year, it restarted a reactor that produces plutonium that could be separated for additional weapons. (See ACT, October 2013.) North Korea also possesses uranium-enrichment technology, giving it another potential route to making nuclear weapons, but it is unclear how much highly enriched uranium, if any, it has produced.

    According to experts, satellite imagery of the Yongbyon nuclear test site shows continued activity indicative of preparations for another test. North Korea announced in March that it is considering a “new form” of nuclear test, but did not give specifics as to the meaning of that term or the timing of the test. (See ACT, May 2014.)

    In an May 13 article posted on 38 North, a website run by the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, Nick Hansen and Jack Liu wrote that activities at the Punggye-ri test facility indicate that a fourth nuclear test is not imminent, despite speculation to the contrary.

    According to Hansen and Liu’s analysis of satellite imagery, activity in the West Portal area of the site shows continued excavation of a test tunnel. Workers also appear to be widening a road leading to the tunnel portal, Hansen and Liu said. If a test were imminent, North Korea would need to seal the tunnel.

    The two analysts wrote that if a test was imminent, there would be a “high level of activity” in the site’s Main Support Area, which has a key role in preparing for a nuclear test. The current activities “seem consistent with those needed for routine maintenance,” Hansen and Liu said.

    They also said activity is evident at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in northwest North Korea.

    In a May 20 piece, the analysts wrote that recent satellite images show construction projects at the Sohae site that could be intended for mobile launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). They concluded that it is “too soon to make a definitive judgment” on the purpose of these projects, but noted several developments consistent with the hypothesis that North Korea is planning to test ICBMs at the site.

    North Korea has displayed mock-ups of an ICBM known as the KN-08, or Hwasong-13, in several military parades dating back to April 2012.

    According to Hansen and Liu, construction of a “circular facility with a diameter of 50 meters” could be a launch pad for a mobile missile such as the KN-08. The presence of a new reinforced concrete road connecting the possible launch pad to the missile assembly building at the site supports the hypothesis that North Korea is building a mobile launch pad for ICBM tests, they said.

    The analysts said that this hypothesis is also supported by evidence of “ongoing KN-08 engine tests” at the Sohae facility.

    The January U.S. intelligence report said that North Korea has “already taken initial steps” toward fielding the KN-08 but it remains untested.

    North Korea can likely fit nuclear warheads on its ballistic missiles, according to a former South Korean official.

    Saudi Arabia Displays Missiles

    Kelsey Davenport

    In an April 29 parade, Saudi Arabia publicly displayed two ballistic missiles that it purchased from China in the 1980s.

    This display is Saudi Arabia’s first public acknowledgement of the purchase of Dong Feng-3 (DF-3) missiles.

    It remains unclear how many missiles were part of the sale. Estimates range from 30 to 50.

    The DF-3 was developed by the Chinese in the 1960s and first deployed in 1971. Saudi Arabia is not known to have tested a DF-3.

    It is a liquid-fueled, single-stage missile with a range of about 3,000 kilometers for a 1,000-kilogram payload. It can carry nuclear weapons, but the missiles sold to the Saudis have conventional warheads. China reportedly provided guarantees to the United States that the missiles were modified to prevent them from ever being used to carry nuclear warheads.

    The range of the DF-3 allows Saudi Arabia to target Iran. Some experts believe that Saudi Arabia may have displayed the DF-3 as a show of strength, given the hostile relationship between the two countries and Riyadh’s concern about Iran’s nuclear program.

    Saudi Arabia reportedly purchased more-modern missiles from China, including the DF-21, a medium-range ballistic missile. No DF-21 missiles were displayed in the April parade. Reports of the sale first emerged in 2010.

    The DF-21 is a two-stage, solid-fueled missile with a 2,000-kilometer range. China first deployed the DF-21 in 1991. It is considered a more reliable system than the DF-3, and its solid fuel makes it more mobile.

    In an April 29 parade, Saudi Arabia publicly displayed two ballistic missiles that it purchased from China in the 1980s.

    India Tests Ballistic Missile for Subs

    Kelsey Davenport

    India successfully tested a new, longer-range submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) on March 24, Indian news outlets reported last month.

    The test of the missile, known as the K-4, took place off the southeastern coast in the Bay of Bengal using a submerged pontoon. The two-stage, nuclear-capable missile traveled approximately 3,000 kilometers, the news accounts said.

    India did not immediately publicize the missile test. But The Hindu on May 8 quoted officials who were present at the test as calling it “excellent” and saying that they would conduct “many more missions” like it to increase the reliability of the missile.

    The K-4 eventually is to be deployed on Indian submarines, the first of which is currently undergoing testing.

    Avinash Chander, director-general of India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), said May 13 that India would be conducting a test launch of the K-4 from the INS Arihant “within the next few months.”

    The DRDO is the main Indian government entity responsible for developing new, advanced military technologies.

    India announced the successful development of a shorter-range SLBM, the K-15, in July 2012 and indicated at that time that the longer-range K-4 was under development. (See ACT, September 2012.)

    According to the DRDO, the K-15 has a maximum range of 700 kilometers for a 700-kilogram payload.

    Only four other countries—China, France, Russia, and the United States—have the capability to produce SLBMs. Although the United Kingdom deploys such missiles, they are produced in the United States.

    India is planning to develop four nuclear submarines in total, and the boats are designed to carry four K-4 missiles or 12 K-15 missiles. New Delhi is planning to deploy the submarines by 2023.

    India successfully tested a new, longer-range submarinelaunched ballistic missile (SLBM) on March 24, Indian news outlets reported last month.

    South Korea Tests Longer-Range Missile

    Kelsey Davenport

    South Korea last month successfully tested a new ballistic missile that is capable of hitting all of North Korea, a spokesman for the South Korean Ministry of National Defense said at an April 4 press briefing.

    According to spokesman Kim Min-seok, the new missile can deliver a 1,000-kilogram payload at a range of up to 500 kilometers.

    The missile was launched from a test site on the west coast of South Korea on March 23. The launch was the first to take advantage of a 2012 agreement between Seoul and Washington allowing South Korea to extend the range of its ballistic missiles.

    Under a 2001 agreement with the United States, South Korea had been limited to developing ballistic missiles with ranges of no more than 300 kilometers for a 500-kilogram payload. But in October 2012, Washington and Seoul announced a revision to the 2001 agreement, allowing South Korea to extend the range to 800 kilometers. (See ACT, November 2012.) The revision kept the payload cap at 500 kilograms.

    Kim said that South Korea plans to develop missiles with an 800-kilometer range.

    Under these revised guidelines, South Korea will be able to target any site in North Korea from anywhere in its own territory. At the time that the October 2012 revision was announced, the United States said the range extension would allow South Korea to improve its ability to defend against North Korea’s ballistic missiles.

    North Korea is believed to have several varieties of operationally deployed ballistic missiles, including the Nodong, which has a range of approximately 1,300 kilometers. North Korea also is developing intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), although it has yet to conduct a successful test of a missile in that category. It has displayed ICBMs in parades, but many experts have said those missiles were mock-ups.

    The (North) Korean People’s Army complained in an April 5 statement that Seoul did not provide adequate warnings that it was planning to test the missile.

    NK News, an independent website focused on developments in North Korea, reported April 7 that international organizations that provide alerts on missile launches for maritime and aviation purposes were not told that the launch would take place on March 23.

    South Korea last month successfully tested a new ballistic missile that is capable of hitting all of North Korea, a spokesman for the South Korean Ministry of National Defense said at an April 4 press briefing.

     

    Summit ‘Gift Baskets’ Seen As Key

    Kelsey Davenport

    Multilateral commitments “broke significant ground” at the recent nuclear security summit and are key to strengthening nuclear security worldwide, a European official who attended the event said last month.

    He was referring to the joint state-ments, or “gift baskets,” which were endorsed by varying groups of countries at the March 24-25 summit in The Hague. The meeting also produced a communiqué, which was endorsed by all participants—53 countries and four international organizations.

    In an April 11 e-mail, the official said that the communiqué, while outlining “positive actions,” does not represent the “most forward thinking on advancing nuclear security” because not all countries are ready to take certain steps. “Achieving consensus required compromise,” he said, whereas the joint statements “allowed countries to go beyond the least common denominator.”

    More than a dozen new joint statements were announced at the Hague summit. (See ACT, April 2014.) The gathering was the third in the series of biennial meetings started by President Barack Obama in Washington in 2010. The second summit was held in Seoul in 2012. (See ACT, April 2012.)

    The joint statements are mechanisms through which groups of self-selecting states collaborate on multilateral actions in particular areas of nuclear security. They were a new feature of the 2012 summit, building on the individual country commitments, or “house gifts,” of the 2010 summit.

    Many of the joint statements are initiatives that were launched at the 2014 summit, but several build on prior statements released at the 2012 summit. They cover a range of issues, including security of nuclear materials in transport, cooperation on combating illicit trafficking, security of nuclear information, security of radiological sources, and nuclear forensics.

    In addition to a joint statement in which countries pledged to implement existing voluntary guidelines on nuclear security, the European official highlighted joint statements on nuclear forensics, information security, and treaty ratifications as ones that he particularly hoped would produce “significant results” by the 2016 nuclear security summit.

    The 2016 meeting will be hosted by the United States, and many speculate that it will be the last summit.

    Nuclear Forensics

    One of the new joint statements announced in The Hague and led by the Netherlands focuses on nuclear forensics. In contrast to some joint statements, which outlined actions that countries intend to take, the nuclear forensics joint statement presented a number of already completed tools that countries can begin to use, such as a forensics lexicon and an online educational platform for trainings.

    The Netherlands began working on this project in 2011 and has developed “a comprehensive programme to foster cooperation among nuclear and forensic institutes worldwide,” according to the national progress report released by the Dutch during the summit.

    During the summit, each participating country submitted a progress report detailing the actions it had taken to strengthen nuclear security.

    In a March 21 presentation previewing the joint statement, Ed van Zalen of the Netherlands Forensics Institute said that the Dutch sponsored the statement because there is a need to build international capacity to determine the source of nuclear and radiological materials in the event of an incident or theft. One of the actions the Dutch took was the creation of educational platforms that other countries can use for training and technology development for analysis techniques. This will help improve investigations of nuclear security incidents in the future, van Zalen said.

    The statement, endorsed by 24 countries, also supports completion of a survey of good practices for investigating nuclear security incidents and the creation of a platform for expert discussion.

    The countries “intend to continue the work in the field of nuclear forensics,” including the development of new investigative methods, the statement says.

    Information Security

    A joint statement on information security that the United Kingdom sponsored at the 2012 summit was expanded at the 2014 summit.

    The initiative recognized the “fundamental need to protect sensitive nuclear information technology and expertise necessary to acquire or use nuclear materials for malicious purposes or to disrupt information technology based control systems at nuclear facilities.” Thirty-five states subscribed to the statement at the Hague summit.

    Since 2012, the UK has led efforts to develop a code of conduct on nuclear information security. As part of the continuation of the effort, London is working with the World Institute for Nuclear Security to develop a best-practice guide for nuclear operators and with other subscribing countries to identify and disseminate sound practices for securing sensitive nuclear information.

    States that joined the statement at the 2012 summit were asked to provide progress reports ahead of the 2014 summit. The UK published updates on actions that 21 states took to improve information security. Australia, for example, is developing a guidance document for classification of nuclear security information, and Japan included standards for managing and securing information when it set up its new nuclear regulatory agency.

    The European official said requiring states to report on what they have done since 2012 to strengthen information security as part of the joint statement is a “positive step for holding states accountable” for their commitments and tracking progress.

    Treaties

    A joint statement sponsored by Indonesia aims to assist states in meeting a pledge made in the communiqué, which encourages states to become parties to key legal instruments on nuclear security, including the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM), its 2005 amendment, and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.

    The latter convention, which entered into force in 2007, provides a definition of nuclear terrorism and specifies how states should handle offenders and illicit materials when seized. The CPPNM, which entered into force in 1987, sets security standards for nuclear material in transit. Its 2005 amendment would expand the scope of the physical protection measures to cover material in storage. The amendment is more than a dozen ratifications short of the number needed to bring it into force.

    The Hague communiqué said that all summit participants would continue working to meet the goal of bringing the 2005 amendment into force “later this year.”

    At the 2012 summit, Indonesia announced that it would consolidate existing guidance on nuclear security, including measures from the key treaties, simplifying the process for states to update domestic regulations to comply with the treaties and guidelines.

    In its progress report at the Hague summit, Indonesia said that the initiative, known as the National Legislation Implementation Kit, will provide states “with building blocks to develop comprehensive national legislation in accordance with their own respective legal cultures and internal legal processes.”

    In the April 11 e-mail, the European official said this could greatly assist countries that need “comprehensive nuclear security legislation.”

    But a U.S. lawyer with expertise in international law said he was less optimistic about what the kit can accomplish because many of the countries that have not ratified the 2005 amendment would not be helped by the initiative. In an April 17 interview, he said that a comprehensive approach is “less helpful for countries that already adhere to some treaties” and have legislation relating to nuclear security in place, such as the United States. The United States has yet to complete its ratification of the 2005 amendment. (See ACT, March 2014.)

    He also said that some treaties give states discretion in implementing particular aspects of nuclear security and that is difficult to capture in a comprehensive package.

    Kelsey Davenport’s reporting from The Hague was supported by a grant from the Heinrich Böll Foundation North America.

    Multilateral commitments made at the 2014 nuclear security summit are key to strengthening nuclear security, a participating official said.

    N. Korea Warns of New Nuclear Test

    Kelsey Davenport

    North Korea announced that it is considering a “new form of nuclear test,” according to a statement in the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on March 30.

    The KCNA did not provide any further details, but said that the new type of test would help bolster Pyongyang’s nuclear deterrent. Experts speculate that this could involve testing a uranium-based device, a miniaturized device, or simultaneous nuclear explosions.

    North Korea conducted nuclear tests in October 2006, May 2009, and February 2013. (See ACT, March 2013.) North Korea is thought to have four to 10 nuclear weapons that are plutonium based. Pyongyang possesses uranium-enrichment technology, but it is unclear if North Korea has developed nuclear warheads with highly enriched uranium.

    In an April 27 article published on 38 North, a website run by the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, Nick Hansen and Jack Liu wrote that recent satellite images show increased activity “consistent with what would be expected during pre-test preparations,” near tunnel entrances at the Punggye-ri test site.

    Hansen and Liu said that satellite images show what appears to be equipment being moved into the tunnels. The specialists conclude that these activities could indicate that the tunnel entrances have not yet been sealed. Sealing the tunnels is a “key indicator that a detonation is imminent,” they said.

    Pyongyang made its announcement about the new kind of test in response to a March 27 UN Security Council statement denouncing North Korea for several firings of short- and medium-range ballistic missiles in March.

    The statement in the KCNA said the missile launches were part of “self-defensive military drills.” The launches included two medium-range Nodong missiles on March 26 and several dozen short-range missiles over several weeks. The Nodong missile has a range of 1,300 kilometers and is capable of hitting Japan.

    The Security Council unanimously condemned North Korea’s ballistic missile launches as a violation of Security Council resolutions, Sylvie Lucas, Luxembourg’s ambassador to the United Nations and president of the council for the month of March, said March 27 after the body met at the request of the United States to discuss the matter.

    In October 2006, the Security Council passed Resolution 1718, which required North Korea to suspend “all activities related” to its ballistic missile program, including missile launches.

    Further Sanctions

    Lucas said that the members agreed to “consult on an appropriate response” at the Security Council meeting, but did not provide details on what measure the body was considering.

    Joseph DeThomas, a former U.S. nonproliferation official, said April 10 that there will be a “heavy debate” at the UN over passing additional sanctions in the coming months.

    Speaking at an April 10 press event hosted by 38 North, he said that targeting leadership financing could be a “game changer” that brings North Korea back to negotiations but that the small base of U.S. knowledge regarding North Korea makes it difficult to determine who and what the target of the sanctions should be.

    In March, in a report to the Security Council, a panel of experts recommended focusing on implementing existing measures rather than passing further sanctions. (See ACT, April 2014.) Together, Resolutions 1718, 1874, 2087, and 2094 prohibit arms sales and transfers of nuclear and ballistic missile technology to North Korea, ban the sale of luxury items to Pyongyang, and give states broad authority to inspect North Korean cargo suspected of violating these measures if it passes through their territories.

    When asked about the panel’s recommendations, DeThomas said that implementation is a problem in countries with smaller regulatory agencies because they cannot monitor everything at ports of entry.

    Another difficulty in implementing the current sanctions is that some countries take a “narrow interpretation” of the authority granted by the Security Council or are “unwilling to use the authority because of economic and strategic interests,” he said.

    Six-Party Talks

    Meanwhile, the Obama administration dismissed reports last month that the United States was prepared to relax its preconditions for resuming negotiations with North Korea over its nuclear program.

    Washington has repeatedly said that North Korea must take steps to demonstrate its commitment to denuclearization before negotiations resume. (See ACT, October 2013.) Pyongyang said it would abandon and dismantle its nuclear weapons program as part of an agreement in 2005 in return for possible future assistance on a peaceful nuclear energy program. That agreement collapsed in 2009, and North Korea has since taken steps to build up its nuclear arsenal, including restarting a reactor that produces plutonium that is particularly suitable for weapons. (See ACT, September 2013.)

    In an April 11 press briefing, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that “nothing has changed” regarding the U.S. position on preconditions for the talks and that the “approach remains the same.”

    The reports that Washington would relax its preconditions followed an April 7 trilateral meeting in Washington among Glyn Davies, U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, and his Japanese and South Korean counterparts.

    Washington has negotiated bilaterally with North Korea in the past but also together with China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea as part of the so-called six-party talks.

    Those talks began in 2003 with the goal of dismantling North Korea’s nuclear program. The multilateral negotiations were held intermittently until North Korea announced in April 2009 that it would no longer participate.

    Davies also met with his Chinese counterpart, Wu Dawei, in New York on April 14-15 and in Washington on April 18. In addition to hosting the six-party talks, China has the strongest ties to North Korea of the parties involved in the negotiations.

    Last June, Davies said Washington’s current strategy for dealing with North Korea’s nuclear program involves coordinating with partner countries in the region so that they speak with “one voice” before negotiating with Pyongyang on denuclearization. (See ACT, July/August 2013.)

    In an April 15 statement, the State Department said that the United States and China “agree on the fundamental importance of a denuclearized North Korea” and that the countries will continue to work together peacefully to achieve this goal.

    After the April 18 meeting, Wu said that Washington and Beijing have “narrowed the differences” regarding the resumption of the six-party talks and the North Korean situation.

    North Korea said it is considering a new type of nuclear test, but did not provide any details on the nature of the test or the date.

    Iran Claims Progress on Nuclear Deal

    Kelsey Davenport

    Tehran and six world powers are near an agreement on the future of a controversial heavy-water reactor that is under construction in Iran, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said April 19.

    Ali Akbar Salehi said that the six countries (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) had accepted Iran’s proposal to redesign the core of the heavy-water reactor at Arak. He said this would cut the production of plutonium from the reactor but still allow Iran to produce medical isotopes.

    A European diplomat familiar with the negotiations said that “there has been no political decision reached about the future of the Arak reactor.” No single issue in the negotiations will be considered resolved until “all of the issues have been dealt with and agreed upon,” he said said in an April 21 e-mail to Arms Control Today.

    The issue of the Arak reactor is one that Tehran and the six countries, known as the P5+1, are seeking to resolve in a comprehensive agreement over Iran’s controversial nuclear program. The parties have met three times since February. The most recent round took place April 7-9 in Vienna.

    The P5+1 is concerned that Iran could use the plutonium produced by the reactor for nuclear weapons although Iran is not known to have the facilities to separate plutonium from spent fuel. Iran claims that the reactor will be used for research and the production of medical isotopes.

    Iran and the P5+1 reached a first-phase agreement in November that freezes construction of the reactor for six months while a comprehensive agreement is negotiated. (See ACT, December 2013.) Iran also committed in the November agreement, known as the Joint Plan of Action, not to construct a separation facility. Implementation of the initial actions began Jan. 20 and is to last six months. (See ACT, March 2014.)

    If the Arak reactor is completed as designed, experts estimate that it would contain quantities of plutonium that, when separated from the spent fuel, would be enough for about two bombs a year. Salehi said the proposed design modification would cut the plutonium production to one-fifth of what it would have been by fueling it with uranium enriched to reactor grade instead of natural uranium.

    Reactors that use natural uranium are particularly well suited to plutonium production. Reactors that use enriched uranium produce plutonium that is less suitable for nuclear weapons.

    Iran and the P5+1 are scheduled to meet again May 13 in Vienna to continue negotiations on the comprehensive nuclear deal.

    According to the joint statement issued by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, the lead negotiator for the P5+1, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the end of the last round of talks on April 9, the parties will move to the “next phase in the negotiations.” Negotiators have held “substantive and detailed discussions” on all of the issues that will be covered in the deal and will now begin to “bridge the gaps” and “work on the concrete elements” of the comprehensive deal, the statement said. (See ACT, April 2014.)

    U.S. officials have said they hope to reach a final deal by July 20, when the first-phase agreement comes to an end. If an agreement is not reached, the interim deal can be extended by mutual consent of the two sides.

    Meanwhile, the latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on implementation of the first-phase agreement found that Iran is continuing to follow through on its commitments.

    In January, the IAEA began issuing special monthly reports on Iran’s compliance with certain aspects of the November agreement. These reports are in addition to the agency’s quarterly reports on Tehran’s nuclear program.

    The April 17 report confirmed that Iran had completed the dilution of half of its stockpile of 20 percent-enriched uranium to an enrichment level of less than 5 percent, the level typically used in power reactors. Iran agreed to complete the dilution within three months of the parties beginning to implement the agreement.

    U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in an April 17 press briefing that following the IAEA confirmation that Iran had completed the required dilution, the Treasury Department “facilitated the release of a $450 million installment of Iran’s frozen funds.”

    As part of the first-phase agreement, the P5+1 agreed that, over the six months of the deal, it would release $4.2 billion in Iranian assets that are tied up in foreign banks. Including the April installment, about $2.5 billion has already been released.

    The remaining half of the 20 percent-enriched stockpile is being converted to a powder form that can be used to make fuel plates for the Tehran Research Reactor, which produces medical isotopes. Iran has until July 20 to complete this process.

    The IAEA report also said that Iran has not completed a facility that will convert uranium enriched to less than 5 percent from a gas to a powder that is used to make fuel for power reactors. Under the first phase of the deal, Iran committed to convert all of the reactor-grade enriched uranium gas it produced over the course of the six months of the agreement to a powder form.

    According to the IAEA’s November quarterly report, the facility was to begin operations in December. But Iran did not complete the facility in time to begin operations by that date. According to the April 17 report, Tehran informed the IAEA that the facility would be commissioned on April 9, but then put off commissioning the plant. The report said that Tehran did not give the agency a new date for the beginning of operations.

    The first-phase agreement does not specify a date by which Iran must begin operating the facility.

    At the April 17 press briefing, Harf said that, “to this point, all sides have kept the commitments” made in the Joint Plan of Action.

    A senior Iranian official said Tehran and six world powers are near an agreement on the future of a controversial heavy-water reactor in Iran.

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