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"[Arms Control Today] has become indispensable! I think it is the combination of the critical period we are in and the quality of the product. I found myself reading the May issue from cover to cover."

– Frank von Hippel
Co-Director of Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University
Kelsey Davenport

U.S. Cites Evidence of Syrian Sarin Use

Kelsey Davenport

The U.S. intelligence community has determined with “varying degrees of confidence” that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against its own people, the White House said last month.

The April 25 letter, sent to Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), said that the nerve agent sarin may have been used “on a small scale” in Syria but that the United States cannot confirm “how exposure occurred and under what conditions” because the “chain of custody” for the evidence, which included “physiological samples,” is “not clear.” More evidence is needed to provide “some degree of certainty” to inform U.S. decision-making, said the letter, which was signed by Miguel Rodriguez, President Barack Obama’s director of legislative affairs.

Last summer, Obama said that the use or movement of chemical weapons in Syria is a “redline” for the United States and there would be “enormous consequences” in the event of either action. (See ACT, September 2012.)

A White House official reaffirmed this redline in a April 25 press briefing, but in an apparent reference to erroneous intelligence on Saddam Hussein’s weapons program prior to 2003, said that the United States has learned from its “recent experience that intelligence assessments are not alone sufficient” and “credible and corroborated facts” are necessary to determine if chemical weapons were used. If such a determination is made, “all options are on the table” for a U.S. response, the official said.

Obama said in April 26 remarks that the United States will work with the international community to obtain “strong evidence” of chemical weapons use, which he said would change the calculus of how Washington approaches Syria.

Because Syria is not a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which requires member states to declare and destroy their chemical weapons, the exact size and composition of its program is unknown. However, according to the U.S. intelligence community’s most recent “Worldwide Threat Assessment,” Syria possesses a “large, complex, and geographically dispersed” chemical weapons program, which includes a stockpile of chemical warfare agents, such as sarin, sulfur mustard, and VX, that can be delivered by “missiles, aerial bombs, and possibly artillery rockets.”

The April 25 letter said that the administration believes that the Assad regime “maintains custody” of Syria’s chemical weapons and that any use of chemical agents “very likely” would have been by the regime.

The U.S. statement follows similar allegations made by France, Israel, Qatar, and the United Kingdom. In an April 26 interview with the BBC, British Prime Minister David Cameron said there is increasing evidence that chemical weapons have been used, likely by government forces. Three days earlier, Brig. Gen. Itai Brun, head of the Israel Defense Forces Military Intelligence research and analysis division, said that, “to the best of our understanding,” there was lethal use of chemical weapons in Syria.

UN Action

In the April 25 letter, the Obama administration said it would push for a comprehensive UN investigation to evaluate the evidence of chemical weapons use.

After allegations that chemical weapons were used near Aleppo on March 19, Assad requested that the United Nations investigate the claims. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the UN would investigate in conjunction with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which oversees implementation of the CWC, and the World Health Organization. (See ACT, April 2013.)

The team planned to begin investigations in Syria early last month, but in an April 17 statement, Ban said that Syria has not allowed investigators into the country due to a disagreement over the scope of the UN inquiry. Syria wants the UN investigation restricted to the March 19 incident, which it blames on the rebels, whereas Ban said the mission must be to investigate “all the allegations” made by member states.

Paul Walker, a former senior adviser for the House Armed Services Committee, told Arms Control Today in an April 25 e-mail that the first step is to allow UN inspectors to visit all the sites they requested to see, meet possible victims of the alleged attacks, and review the medical reports from the injured and dead. He said any samples taken should be “strictly controlled and analyzed by OPCW licensed labs.” Laboratories on the territories of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council could also be used “in order to bring in the Russians and Chinese,” said Walker, who now is director of security and sustainability at Global Green USA.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a April 25 statement that, on the basis of the intelligence assessment, the redlines “have been crossed” and action must be taken to prevent large-scale use of chemical weapons. She said the UN Security Council should take “strong and meaningful action to end” the conflict in Syria.

If new accusations are referred to the Security Council, Russia, a main ally of Syria, will be the “big elephant” in the room because Moscow will feel it is being outmaneuvered by Ban, the United States, and Israel, said Walker, who is a board member of the Arms Control Association.

The U.S. intelligence community has tentatively concluded that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its own people, but is seeking further evidence.

Amano Reports No Progress on Iran

Kelsey Davenport

Clarification made online on June 4, 2013.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has not made “any progress” in talks with Iran on clarifying Tehran’s responses to the agency’s concerns about the possible military dimensions of Iranian nuclear activities, IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano said last month.

The IAEA first laid out its suspicions about Iranian nuclear efforts allegedly relating to weapons development in a November 2011 report to its Board of Governors. (See ACT, December 2011.) Iran and the IAEA have met nine times since then to negotiate a framework for resolving the agency’s concerns, but have failed to come to an agreement about the scope and sequence of the investigation. At the most recent meeting, on Feb. 13, IAEA Deputy Director-General Herman Nackaerts said the two sides had not set a date for further talks. (See ACT, March 2013.)

In his March 4 remarks to the board’s quarterly meeting in Vienna, Amano discussed the findings of a Feb. 21 IAEA report on Iran’s nuclear program and said that Tehran “is not providing the necessary cooperation” to enable the agency to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear activities in Iran.

In a Feb. 22 letter to Amano, Iranian Ambassador to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltanieh disputed the findings of the Feb. 21 report, saying that “all declared nuclear material in Iran is accounted for” and remains under IAEA surveillance.

Iran, P5+1 Hold Technical Meeting

Iran and six world powers held a technical-level meeting in Istanbul on March 18 to discuss the details of proposals put forward by each side during negotiations in February to address international concerns over Iran’s nuclear program.

Iran and the six countries—China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, known as the P5+1—had agreed on arrangements for the March meeting during Feb. 26-27 high-level political negotiations in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The Almaty talks marked the resumption of negotiations between the parties after an eight-month hiatus. (See ACT, March 2013.)

The meeting allowed experts from the two sides to “explore each other’s positions on a number of technical subjects,” according to a statement issued after the March 18 meeting by a spokesman for Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief and P5+1 lead negotiator. Ashton did not attend the meeting; Stephan Klement, her personal representative on nonproliferation issues, led the P5+1 delegation on her behalf.

The statement confirmed the agreement from the February meeting that high-level political talks will resume in Almaty April 5-6. In his statement after the March 18 meeting, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said the talks should progress toward a path that recognizes Iran’s “peaceful nuclear rights and obviates the concerns” of the international community.

Meanwhile, in a March 18 statement marking the Iranian holiday of Nowruz, U.S. President Barack Obama said that the United States and the international community are ready to reach a diplomatic resolution that would “give Iran access to peaceful nuclear energy” while resolving concerns about the “true nature of the Iranian nuclear program.” Iran must take “immediate and meaningful steps to reduce tensions,” Obama said.

The current P5+1 proposal is based on a package offered during talks last year. (See ACT, July/August 2012.) U.S. officials said it was updated to reflect developments in Iran’s nuclear programs over the last eight months. In a March 16 forum in Brussels, Ashton described the proposal as a “first confidence-building measure” rather than the “end package.”

In key changes, the revised proposal reportedly provides limited sanctions relief and allows Iran to keep a portion of its stockpiles of 20 percent-enriched uranium. The stockpile of 20 percent-enriched uranium is a key concern of the P5+1 because uranium enriched to that level can be further enriched to weapons grade with relatively little additional effort. Iran maintains that it needs the 20 percent-enriched material to produce medical isotopes.—KELSEY DAVENPORT

    Last November, at the previous board meeting, Robert Wood, the U.S. representative to the IAEA, said the United States would urge the board to take “appropriate” action in March if Iran did not begin substantive cooperation with the IAEA. Despite Amano’s assertion that no progress was made, the board did not take any new action.

    In a March 29 e-mail to Arms Control Today, a State Department official said, “If Iran continues to refuse to cooperate with the IAEA and take steps to come into compliance with its international nuclear obligations, the United States will work with our friends and allies on the Board of Governors to agree on the most appropriate action to deal with Iran’s intransigence.”

    The official noted that the group of six countries, known as the P5+1, that is negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program “made a joint statement, welcoming continuing but purposeful negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran, and calling on Iran to stop stonewalling the IAEA and answer the outstanding questions about its possible nuclear military activities.”

    In his March 6 statement to the board, Joseph Macmanus, who succeeded Wood as U.S. representative to the IAEA, said the United States would “not accept further delay” by Iran in implementing its IAEA obligations and that “the separate P5+1 diplomatic process cannot be a substitute for such implementation.”

    Macmanus said that the board will need to “consider carefully, and soon,” what steps must be taken to “hold Iran accountable for a continued cycle of deception and delay.”

    IAEA Report

    Tehran is moving forward with the installation of advanced centrifuges at the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant, according to the Feb. 21 report. That facility produces reactor-grade uranium enriched to 3.5 percent.

    The report confirmed that, on Feb. 6, Iran sent the IAEA a letter with information on the planned cascade configuration for the second-generation, or IR-2M, centrifuges, but did not include any details from the letter. As of Feb. 19, 180 centrifuges and empty centrifuge casings were installed at Natanz, according to the IAEA. The unit of the building in which the centrifuges are being installed can hold 3,000 machines, according to experts familiar with the facility. Although experts agree that these machines will be more efficient than the first-generation centrifuges, it is not clear how much more efficient they are going to be. (See ACT, March 2013.)

    Iran also is continuing to test advanced centrifuge designs other than the IR-2M. The report noted that Iran installed the IR-6 and IR-6S models in its research and development area at Natanz for the first time and began testing the machines.

    The IAEA also verified the production of Iran’s first fuel assembly for the heavy-water reactor being constructed at Arak. Iran has said the Arak reactor would not be operational until early 2014. The fuel assembly was transferred to a research reactor for irradiation testing.

    Iran maintains that the heavy-water reactor will produce medical isotopes, but experts argue that it is ill suited to that task and poses a proliferation risk because it will produce plutonium more suitable for weapons than a light-water reactor does. Iran does not have a known separation facility and has not declared its intention to build one.

    The report also noted an increase in Iran’s stockpile of 20 percent-enriched uranium to 167 kilograms from the 135 kilograms noted in last November’s report. If Iran decided to enrich uranium to weapons-grade levels, the task would be much easier if it were starting with material enriched to 20 percent rather than reactor-grade uranium.

    According to the IAEA, approximately 250 kilograms of 20 percent-enriched material, when further enriched to weapons grade, is enough for one bomb. Tehran maintains that it needs to produce uranium enriched to 20 percent to fuel a currently operating research reactor that produces medical isotopes.

    U.S. Assessment

    The U.S. intelligence community’s annual “Worldwide Threat Assessment,” issued on March 12, said that although Iran has made progress that “better positions it to produce weapons-grade uranium” using its declared uranium stockpile and facilities, Iran “could not divert” material from its current stockpile for further enrichment without discovery.

    In testimony the same day to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said it remains unknown if Iran will decide to build nuclear weapons and that the decision to do so rests with the country’s supreme leader.


    The April 2013 news story “Amano Reports No Progress in Iran” said that according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), about 250 kilograms of 20 percent-enriched uranium, when further enriched to weapons grade, is enough to make one nuclear weapon. That figure has appeared in published articles and was confirmed as accurate by an IAEA staff member, but the IAEA has not made such an estimate in an official document or statement.

    The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has not made “any progress” in talks with Iran on clarifying Tehran’s responses to the agency’s concerns about the possible military dimensions of Iranian nuclear activities, IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano said last month.

    UN Imposes New Sanctions on N. Korea

    Kelsey Davenport

    The UN Security Council on March 7 unanimously adopted a resolution imposing new sanctions on North Korea in response to Pyongyang’s third nuclear test.

    Several former U.S. officials, however, said that heightened sanctions will not defuse the escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula.

    At a March 7 press briefing after the sanctions were adopted, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Resolution 2094 demonstrates to Pyongyang the “increasing costs” of “defying the international community.” But in testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the same day, Stephen Bosworth, a former U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, warned that the United States should not be “under any illusions that sanctions are going to solve this problem.”

    Resolution 2094 builds on three earlier resolutions, dating back to October 2006 (see box), that require North Korea to refrain from nuclear and ballistic missile testing and abandon its nuclear program. The resolutions also restrict North Korea from importing conventional weapons, luxury goods, and materials to develop its nuclear and missile programs. Resolutions adopted in October 2006 and June 2009 were responses to nuclear tests, while the third resolution, passed Jan. 22, followed North Korea’s satellite launch last December. North Korea is prohibited from launching satellites because the technology is directly applicable to ballistic missile development.

    In addition to extending the list of materials that Pyongyang cannot import, Resolution 2094 gives states broader rights to inspect cargo that passes through their territories if the states suspect that the cargo may contain illicit materials being imported or exported by North Korea.

    At the March 7 hearing, Glyn Davies, who succeeded Bosworth as North Korea envoy in January 2012, said the interdiction measures in the resolution were a positive step because the export of armaments is a “key source of income” for Pyongyang. The United States should keep working in this area “first and foremost,” he said.

    The resolution also prohibits “bulk” cash transfers into North Korea, restricts Pyongyang’s financial activities, and calls on UN member states to “exercise enhanced vigilance” over North Korean diplomats.

    Carney said that the Security Council also “will take additional measures in the event of another nuclear test or launch.”

    Security Council Sanctions on North Korea

    Over the past seven years, the UN Security Council has adopted four resolutions imposing sanctions on North Korea in response to Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile activities. All four resolutions passed unanimously.

      Resolution 1718 (Oct. 13, 2006). Adopted in the wake of North Korea’s first nuclear test in October 2006, Resolution 1718 prohibits Pyongyang from conducting future nuclear tests or ballistic missile launches and calls for a complete halt to efforts to pursue nuclear weapons development. The resolution bans a range of exports and imports, notably military weapons and equipment, and imposes an asset freeze and travel ban on people and entities tied to the nuclear program. The resolution also establishes a monitoring body to assess implementation of the sanctions and investigate reported violations.

        Resolution 1874 (June 12, 2009). Further sanctions on North Korea were included in Resolution 1874 in response to the country’s second nuclear test, conducted in May 2009. The resolution imposes restrictions on Pyongyang’s weapons development programs and tightens sanctions on additional goods, including all imports and exports of weapons, and on additional persons and entities with ties to the nuclear program. Financial transfers or loans that could be used to aid the development of nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles also are prohibited. States are authorized to inspect and detain cargo passing to or from North Korea through their territory on land, sea, or air if the cargo is suspected of being used to develop nuclear weapons.

          Resolution 2087 (Jan. 22, 2013).Resolution 2087 was passed after North Korea’s December 2012 rocket launch and again condemned Pyongyang’s pursuit of a ballistic missile program. It calls on North Korea to resume the six-party talks with China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States. It strengthens existing sanctions and calls again for states to enforce inspections of North Korean cargo suspected of being involved in the nuclear program and found in transit within a state’s territory. The resolution calls on states to “remain vigilant” in monitoring sanctioned individuals and entities.
            Resolution 2094 (March 7, 2013). Passed in response to North Korea’s third nuclear test in February 2013, Resolution 2094 condemns the test, expands and strengthens existing sanctions, and gives states broader rights to inspect, detain, and destroy North Korean cargo suspected of including banned materials. The resolution especially targets Pyongyang’s access to hard currency by denying “bulk” cash transfers into North Korea and calling for sanctions on any assets or bank accounts tied to Pyongyang’s nuclear program. It sets further limits on imports of luxury goods to target elites in North Korea and freezes the assets of and issues travel bans on additional individuals and entities tied to the nuclear program.—ALEXANDRA SCHMITT

               

              North Korean Response

              The day after the sanctions were adopted, the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson as saying that Pyongyang viewed the sanctions as a “hostile act” that is “creating [a] vicious cycle of tension.”

              The ministry also announced that the 1953 Armistice Agreement, which ended hostilities in the Korean War, would be invalid as of March 11 and reiterated its earlier statement that the joint denuclearization declaration it signed with South Korea in 1992 was void. Under the terms of the joint declaration, both countries agreed not to test, produce, receive, store, deploy, or use nuclear weapons.

              Another former U.S. special envoy to North Korea, Joseph DeTrani, said on March 21 that North Korea’s rhetoric and actions were no longer “normal” and that the situation “needs to be defused quickly.”

              Speaking at a March 21 event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, DeTrani, who also served as director of the National Counterproliferation Center and now is president of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, said that Pyongyang’s actions over the past month have been an attempt to “lock in its nuclear program” so that “negotiations become nonproliferation discussions, not disarmament discussions,” that therefore focus on preventing North Korea from spreading its weapons or technology to others.

              U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice reiterated the U.S. policy of denuclearization in a March 7 statement, saying that the “entire world stands united” behind this goal.

              Bosworth, who is dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, said in his testimony that a solution to North Korea’s nuclear program will come only by addressing “broader considerations of a peace treaty to replace the armistice,” diplomatic relations, economic aid, and energy assistance.

              China’s Role

              DeTrani said China could play an important role in defusing the building tension and in reinstituting talks with North Korea, noting that Beijing played an integral role in bringing Pyongyang into the six-party talks in 2003.

              Those talks, which also include Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States, broke down in 2009 when Pyongyang declared it would no longer participate. In 2005 the talks resulted in an agreement under which North Korea in 2007 dismantled its heavy-water reactor, which had produced enough weapons-grade plutonium for an estimated four to eight warheads.

              Bosworth said he was not optimistic about relying on China. Beijing faces an “essential conundrum” because China does not want a nuclear-armed North Korea but is concerned that too much pressure may cause the regime to collapse, he said.

              Officials argue that China needs to play a stronger role in implementing existing sanctions. Davies said in his testimony that the United States takes Chinese officials “at their word” that sanctions are being enforced but that Washington will “continue to engage” with Beijing to “ensure that the Chinese do the maximum amount they can” in this area.

              Intercepted Cargo

              On March 18, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga confirmed reports from last November that Japan had intercepted a ship from North Korea carrying aluminum rods that Pyongyang is banned from exporting because they are suitable for building centrifuges. (See ACT, December 2012.)

              The cargo was shipped through China last August on a Singapore-flagged ship, according to the statement. Suga did not confirm the final destination of the cargo. Newspapers, however, quoted officials in November as saying it was bound for Myanmar. In a Nov. 27 letter, U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), who left office in January, asked Myanmar President Thein Sein to explain the shipment. The Myanmar government said that the materials were being shipped to a private company, rather than the state.

              Former officials testifying at the March 7 hearing agreed that North Korea’s illicit networks pose a significant proliferation concern. Robert Joseph, former undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, told the committee that North Korea is a “serial proliferator” and “will sell what it has” to states and subnational groups. DeTrani called these proliferation concerns a central issue and said China is aware of them.

              The UN Security Council on March 7 unanimously adopted a resolution imposing new sanctions on North Korea in response to Pyongyang’s third nuclear test.

              Amano Endorsed for Second IAEA Term

              Kelsey Davenport

              The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors on March 6 endorsed Yukiya Amano to serve a second four-year term as the agency’s director-general.

              The 35-member board voted by acclamation to renew Amano’s term, according to a statement by John Barrett of Canada, the board chairman. The IAEA’s 159 member states now must formally confirm the board’s decision at the agency’s General Conference in September. Amano’s new term will begin in December.

              Amano did not face any competition for the post. That contrasts with 2009, when he needed five rounds of balloting to secure the necessary two-thirds of the board’s votes. At the time, several countries expressed concern that Amano, then Japan’s representative to the board, was too close to the United States and would not be an independent director-general. (See ACT, May 2009.)

              In a March 6 press conference following the board meeting, Amano said he was “deeply grateful” for the trust of the board members.

              Meanwhile, Tero Varjoranta of Finland has been tapped to succeed Herman Nackaerts as the agency’s top safeguards official in October, the Finnish government said in a March 4 press release. Nackaerts, who is retiring, has led the agency’s negotiations with Iran over its controversial nuclear activities.

              The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors on March 6 endorsed Yukiya Amano to serve a second four-year term as the agency’s director-general.

              North Korea Conducts Nuclear Test

              Kelsey Davenport

              Defying warnings from the international community, North Korea conducted its third nuclear test Feb. 12 at its underground testing site, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) announced. The blast prompted discussion of the need for a new policy toward North Korea, which had conducted a rocket launch two months earlier.

              The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) confirmed seismic activity in the area “with explosion-like characteristics,” the organization said in a press release later the same day. In his State of the Union address, also on Feb. 12, U.S. President Barack Obama condemned Pyongyang’s “provocations,” saying they will only “further isolate” the country.

              The nuclear test was not unexpected. On Jan. 24, North Korea announced that it would conduct a nuclear test, but did not give a specific date. The announcement came two days after the UN Security Council passed a resolution strengthening sanctions against Pyongyang in response to North Korea’s Dec. 12 satellite launch. UN Security Council resolutions prohibit Pyongyang from such launches because the technology required for a satellite launch is directly applicable to ballistic missile development.

              North Korea conducted previous nuclear tests in October 2006 and May 2009, although the 2006 test likely misfired partially, according to experts. Pyongyang declared its withdrawal from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in April 2003. Other parties to the treaty have not formally recognized the move, and UN Security Council resolutions from 2006 and 2009 require Pyongyang to halt its nuclear activities and refrain from nuclear testing.

              In the KCNA statement, which was issued shortly after the test, Pyongyang said it would continue testing and building its arsenal unless the United States recognized its right to launch satellites and develop its nuclear program.

              North Korea is estimated to have enough plutonium for approximately four to eight weapons. As a result of a 2005 denuclearization agreement, Pyongyang currently does not have the ability to produce more plutonium, but has been developing the capabilities to produce highly enriched uranium (HEU). A key question about the February test is whether the device was made from HEU.

              Experts say that determining which fuel was used for the nuclear core of the bomb will be very difficult even if the radioactive gases produced by the test are detected by remote monitoring systems. To date, CTBTO radionuclide stations have not detected signs of the test, nor have any national governments publicly reported radionuclide readings from their systems.

              According to the CTBTO press release, the seismic activity picked up on Feb. 12 by the organization’s global monitoring system was 4.9 in magnitude, making the explosion about twice as large as the May 2009 test, which was estimated to have produced a yield of two to six kilotons. North Korea’s 2006 nuclear test explosion is estimated to have had a yield of less than one kiloton.

              During the run-up to the test, experts had said another possible goal would be to test a miniaturized device so that North Korea eventually could place nuclear weapons on its missiles. The KCNA statement said the test had used a miniaturized device. That claim is difficult for outsiders to substantiate, and the statement did not provide additional details.

              “The 2006 and 2009 tests demonstrated that North Korea can build a nuclear device, but that its nuclear arsenal is likely restricted to bulky devices that would need to be delivered by plane, boat, or van, thereby greatly limiting their deterrent value,” Siegfried Hecker, former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, said in an interview published Feb. 14 on the website of Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, where Hecker now is a senior fellow.

              “This test makes Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal appear more threatening by taking it one more step closer to possessing a missile-deliverable nuclear weapon,” but the North Koreans “have yet to demonstrate that they have developed an intercontinental ballistic missile” (ICBM), he said. To develop an ICBM capable of delivering a nuclear payload, North Korea would require much more flight-testing of its long-range missiles and additional nuclear tests, Hecker said.

              Calls for New Policy

              Following the most recent nuclear test and satellite launch, many experts and government officials are calling for a new policy toward North Korea.

              The current U.S. policy, which administration officials have dubbed “strategic patience,” calls for increasing pressure on North Korea through sanctions while waiting for it to indicate that it is willing to come to talks with a serious intention to follow through on its earlier commitments to abandon its nuclear weapons program. Only then will talks with North Korea resume, according to U.S. officials.

              Talks between North Korea and five other countries—China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States—broke down in April 2009 when North Korea indicated that it no longer would participate. Additionally, on Jan. 23 of this year, North Korea formally voided a 1992 joint declaration with South Korea that pledged to keep the Korean peninsula free of nuclear weapons.

              Speaking on Feb. 19 at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies’ conference in Seoul, Robert Gallucci, a former U.S. negotiator with North Korea, said that U.S. policy toward North Korea has “failed to reduce the threat posed by North Korea to the security of the region.”

              To move forward, Gallucci said, it is necessary to determine the intentions of North Korea’s nuclear program. If Pyongyang’s purpose in developing its nuclear arsenal is to deter an attack by the United States or South Korea, there is “hope for diplomacy,” and the right combination might be found to defuse the situation and build trust, he said. In this case, talks should “address a range of political, economic, and security issues” rather than focusing solely on the nuclear program, but the “endgame” must envision North Korea abandoning its nuclear program, Gallucci said.

              On the other hand, if North Korea’s purpose is to threaten the United States with ICBMs or to unify the Korean peninsula by force, then “constant avoidance of conflict,” rather than easing tensions, may be the best that can be achieved, said Gallucci, who now is president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. (The Arms Control Association, which publishes Arms Control Today, receives funding from the foundation.)

              Also speaking at the Asan Institute conference, Chung Mong-joon, a member of the South Korean National Assembly, said it is very unlikely that North Korea will give up its nuclear weapons. Therefore, he said, the United States, which withdrew all its tactical nuclear weapons from South Korea in 1991, should strengthen extended deterrence by returning those weapons to South Korea.

              In South Korea, there appears to be growing public support for that move after the third test. A Feb. 13-15 poll by the Asan Institute indicated that two-thirds of South Koreans favored the return of these weapons to the country. A similar number supported the idea of South Korea building its own nuclear arsenal, according to the institute.

              Another former U.S. policymaker with experience negotiating with North Korea, Joel Wit, argued Feb. 19 that the United States and other countries should continue diplomatic engagement with Pyongyang regardless of whether an agreement can be reached. Diplomacy “provides clarity” about North Korea’s intentions and helps build diplomatic coalitions, particularly with China, he said.

              Further Sanctions

              The latest North Korean nuclear test is likely to produce further sanctions, Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said Feb. 12. The Security Council is considering a number of measures, including financial sanctions, she said. North Korea already is subject to a wide range of Security Council and U.S. sanctions designed to impede Pyongyang’s progress on its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

              Further unilateral action by the United States appears likely. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said in a Feb. 12 press release that he is working on legislation aimed at ensuring that North Korea “pays a price for its continued reckless behavior.”

              In a Feb. 24 e-mail to Arms Control Today, George Lopez, a former member of a UN panel that assessed the implementation of sanctions against North Korea, said that it is unlikely that instituting new financial sanctions will have the same impact that they did in the past.

              Lopez said that there is no “low-hanging illicit financial fruit”—equivalent to Banco Delta Asia, whose assets the U.S. Treasury Department froze in 2005 after an extensive investigation into the bank’s activities—that could be targeted by financial sanctions. Nevertheless, the United States may put particular banks in China and in the region on “extra warning” and issue statements that they are “off limits” to U.S. and U.S.-related financial entities if they are suspected of dealing with certain North Korean entities, he said. Lopez suggested that the financial sanctions passed by the European Union, including restrictions on the use of gold, can be instructive for “newer and creative measures.”

              Furthermore, he said, additional sanctions do not solve the problem of Chinese enforcement of existing sanctions. Chinese leaders may be more likely to support increased enforcement efforts if they believe that there is a potential for Japan and South Korea to move forward with the development of nuclear weapons and missiles, Lopez said.

              Defying warnings from the international community, North Korea conducted its third nuclear test Feb. 12 at its underground testing site, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) announced. The blast prompted discussion of the need for a new policy toward North Korea, which had conducted a rocket launch two months earlier.

              Iran Installs Advanced Centrifuges

              Kelsey Davenport

              Iran announced last month that it began installing advanced centrifuges at its production-scale uranium-enrichment plant at Natanz, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that the installation of 180 advanced centrifuges had begun.

              Fereydoun Abbasi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said in Tehran on Feb. 13 that Iran is “carrying out the installation” of the new centrifuges and would be “starting them up gradually.” When operational, they would be used to produce uranium enriched to 3.5 percent, he said. Uranium enriched to this level is suitable for nuclear power reactors, but Iran’s sole nuclear power reactor is fueled by enriched uranium provided by Russia.

              For that reason and others, some countries have said Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons capability. With further enrichment, the reactor-grade fuel could be made suitable for use in a nuclear weapon. Iran insists that its nuclear program is entirely for peaceful purposes.

              Tehran notified the IAEA on Jan. 23 of its intention to start installing the new machines, known as the IR-2M, according to the IAEA quarterly report on Iran released Feb. 21. The IR-2M is a second-generation model based on Iran’s original gas centrifuge, the IR-1. According to IAEA reports from 2012, Iran has been testing the IR-2M in its research and development area at Natanz for years, but the advanced centrifuges had not been introduced into the facility there that produces enriched uranium.

              The IAEA report did not state how many of the new machines Iran planned to install, but it said that the Jan. 23 letter mentioned installing them in a particular unit at the Natanz enrichment plant. That unit can hold approximately 3,000 centrifuges. When operational, these centrifuges could significantly increase Iran’s ability to produce enriched uranium, as they are likely to be more efficient that the IR-1s. According to the IAEA report, Iran was producing uranium enriched to 3.5 percent and 20 percent at Natanz, using approximately 9,300 IR-1 centrifuges.

              In Feb. 8 remarks in Washington, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called Iran’s intention to install the advanced centrifuges “disturbing,” but affirmed the U.S. commitment to negotiating with Iran. (See "P5+1 Revises Proposal Ahead of New Talks.")

              Iran maintains that its nuclear program is peaceful and that the uranium enriched to 20 percent is necessary to fuel the Tehran Research Reactor, which produces medical isotopes. The international community is concerned about the growing stockpile of 20 percent-enriched uranium, which can be transformed relatively easily into weapons-grade material.

              Iran also produces uranium enriched to 20 percent at its facility at Fordow, but there is no indication that Tehran plans to install the advanced centrifuges at that facility. In its November report on Iran, the IAEA said approximately 2,800 IR-1 centrifuges, Fordow’s maximum capacity, had been installed at the facility already.

              Increased Efficiency

              According to Abbasi, the new centrifuges are “more durable” and “more efficient.”

              R. Scott Kemp, a former science adviser in the State Department’s Office of the Special Advisor for Nonproliferation and Arms Control, said that it is difficult to predict how the new centrifuges will perform because a centrifuge’s performance in a cascade could be “significantly different” from its performance as an individual machine. In an enrichment plant, numerous centrifuge machines are linked together into cascades.

              In a Feb. 14 e-mail to Arms Control Today, Kemp said that although Iran can make the IR-2M and therefore understands its characteristics, the real question is whether Tehran “can supply or obtain the needed raw materials,” particularly carbon fiber, to mass-produce the new centrifuges. A June 2012 report by a UN Security Council panel of experts that monitors the implementation of sanctions against Iran identified high-quality carbon fiber as a material that Iran was unlikely to be able to produce domestically.

              According to former IAEA Deputy Director-General Olli Heinonen, now a senior fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, the installation of 3,000 advanced centrifuges could double Iran’s output of uranium enriched to reactor grade.

              Speaking at a Feb. 6 event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Heinonen said the IR-2M optimally is about six times more efficient than the IR-1. Because of sanctions, however, Iran is unlikely to have obtained the highest-grade materials for manufacturing the centrifuges and therefore is unlikely to reach that level, he said. A tripling or quadrupling in efficiency might be a more realistic estimate, he said.

              Iran-IAEA Talks

              Also on Feb. 13, IAEA representatives met with Iranian officials in Tehran to continue negotiating an approach for the agency’s investigations into the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear activities. Iran and the IAEA have been meeting for more than a year in an attempt to reach agreement on the scope and sequence of the investigations.

              Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA, led the Iranian delegation. In remarks after the meeting, he said that the parties had made progress and agreed on “some points,” but he did not specify what the points were.

              IAEA Deputy Director-General Herman Nackaerts, the agency’s top safeguards official, said the parties “could not finalize” an agreement and did not comment on whether they had made progress. He said that the IAEA “will work hard to try and resolve the remaining differences.” The two sides did not agree on a date for another round of talks, Nackaerts said, adding that “time is needed to reflect on the way forward.”

              Iran announced last month that it began installing advanced centrifuges at its production-scale uranium-enrichment plant at Natanz, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that the installation of 180 advanced centrifuges had begun.

              P5+1 Revises Proposal Ahead of New Talks

              Kelsey Davenport

              For an analysis of the Feb. 26-27 Almaty talks, click here.

              Six world powers revised their proposal for negotiating with Iran over its controversial nuclear program ahead of a new round of talks, which were scheduled to resume in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on Feb. 26 after an eight-month hiatus.

              Negotiations between Iran and the six countries (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States), known as the P5+1 because the group comprises the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany, stalled in June after three rounds of talks in three months. At the time, negotiators from the two sides said they had addressed critical issues during the meetings but that gaps remained, preventing the scheduling of another round of talks. (See ACT, July/August 2012.)

              British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Feb. 6 that the P5+1 would approach the talks at the next meeting with an “updated and credible offer for Iran.” A U.S. State Department official confirmed Feb. 7 that the proposal that the P5+1 brought to the negotiations for the 2012 meetings has been updated to “reflect developments that occurred since June” in Iran’s nuclear program, but did not provide details on the changes.

              A Reuters news report on Feb. 15 quoted Western officials as saying that the United States might consider lifting sanctions that prevent countries from paying Iran for oil and other commodities with precious metals if Iran stops its production of 20 percent-enriched uranium and closes the Fordow enrichment plant. At a press briefing that day, a White House spokesman declined comment on that issue.

              It is unclear if Iran updated its proposal prior to the Almaty talks. On Feb. 4, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said that Iran was “ready to offer objective guarantees compatible with all legal standards and international conventions that Iran will never deviate from the peaceful purposes it is pursuing in its nuclear program.”

              The talks come amid growing concern that the opportunity for negotiations may be limited because of internal Iranian politics preceding the country’s June presidential elections. In his Feb. 12 State of the Union address, U.S. President Barack Obama said that the Iranians “must recognize that now is the time for a diplomatic solution because a coalition stands united in demanding that they meet their obligations.”

              The P5+1 proposal discussed during the 2012 talks required Iran to shut down the Fordow facility, halt the process of enriching uranium to 20 percent, and ship its stockpile of uranium that had already been enriched to 20 percent out of the country. The stockpile and continued production of 20 percent-enriched uranium are a primary concern for the P5+1 because uranium at this enrichment level can be turned into weapons-grade material more quickly than uranium prepared for power reactors. Iran maintains that it needs uranium enriched to 20 percent to fuel the Tehran Research Reactor, which produces medical isotopes.

              In return, under the 2012 proposal, Iran would receive fuel plates for that reactor, international assistance in nuclear safety and for construction of a light-water reactor, and spare parts for civilian aircraft.

              Iranian officials rejected the proposal, saying that it did not address their principal concerns, namely, sanctions relief and recognition of the right that Iran claims it has under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to continue enriching uranium.

              Since the June negotiations, Iran’s nuclear program has continued to make progress. The international community, concerned over the advances, has increased pressure on the regime by passing further sanctions.

              On Feb. 6, a new U.S sanctions measure went into effect. It requires that non-Iranian banks facilitating payments for Iranian oil hold the funds and use them only for bilateral trade between Iran and the country in which the bank is located. If a non-Iranian bank allows the payments to go to an Iranian bank or transfers them to another country, it could face U.S. sanctions.

              The U.S. measure also tightened controls against payment to Iran in precious metals. That measure particularly had an impact on Turkish trade with Tehran, as Ankara had been paying for imports from Iran with precious metals such as gold.

              Iran’s stockpile of 20 percent-enriched uranium also has increased, although Tehran apparently does not have enough to make a nuclear weapon. Iran has a known stockpile of about 167 kilograms of 20 percent-enriched uranium. Experts estimate that, with further enrichment, about 250 kilograms would be sufficient to make a bomb.

              Additionally, Iran announced that it would begin installing its next-generation centrifuges at its Natanz uranium-enrichment plant on Jan. 23, a development that could dramatically increase Iran’s ability to produce enriched uranium once those centrifuges are operational. (See "Iran Installs Advanced Centrifuges.")

              Six world powers revised their proposal for negotiating with Iran over its controversial nuclear program ahead of a new round of talks, which were scheduled to resume in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on Feb. 26 after an eight-month hiatus.

              EU Urges Middle East Meeting in 2013

              Kelsey Davenport

              The European Parliament passed a resolution Jan. 17 calling for a conference to be held in 2013 on establishing a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

              The meeting was supposed to be held last December, but was postponed.

              The resolution “deplores the postponement” of the meeting and urges the conveners and the member countries of the European Union to ensure that the conference takes place “as soon as possible in 2013.” The resolution said that key elements of the zone should include compliance by all countries in the region with comprehensive International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards, including adherence to an additional protocol that gives the agency greater latitude to carry out inspections; a ban on fissile material production for weapons; and accession by all states in the region to the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention.

              The commitment to hold the 2012 meeting was a key part of the final document of the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference. (See ACT, June 2010.) Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the UN secretary-general were named the conveners of the conference; Finnish Undersecretary of State Jaakko Laajava later was chosen as the facilitator.

              The meeting was scheduled for December in Helsinki, but the conveners announced Nov. 23 that the conference would be postponed due to disagreements on “core issues” and to “present conditions in the Middle East,” according to the U.S. statement. At the time of postponement, no deadline was set for rescheduling or holding the meeting, although Russia called for it to be held as soon as possible in 2013.

              Before the postponement announcement, all of the countries except Israel that are expected to be part of the proposed zone verbally committed to attending the meeting, although there were indications that Iran said it would attend only after learning that the conference would be postponed. (See ACT, December 2012.)

              In a Jan. 22 statement to the Conference on Disarmament (CD), Wafaa Bassim, the Egyptian representative to the CD, called on the co-conveners “to set, without further delay,” a date for the conference before the NPT preparatory committee meeting that is scheduled to be held in Geneva from April 22 to May 3.

              According to news reports, the ministerial statement issued at the end of a Jan. 13 Arab League meeting in Cairo said that the group would consider boycotting the NPT preparatory meeting if action was not taken.

              In a Feb. 11 e-mail to Arms Control Today, an Egyptian Foreign Ministry official also called for action but without referring to the boycott. He said “steps should be taken” to encourage Israeli participation, but “not at the cost of further delay.” He also said the current domestic situation in Egypt made pushing for the conference “less of a priority issue” for the foreign ministry than it has been in the past.

              The U.S. State Department did not respond by press time to a request for information on the steps the United States is taking to reschedule the conference, but Laura Kennedy, the U.S. ambassador to the CD, said in a Jan. 22 statement that the United States stands by its commitment to hold a conference that is “meaningful” and “includes all states of the region.” The statement urged the states to “engage directly with each other to bridge conceptual differences.” The EU resolution also referenced the importance of all countries in the zone participating in the conference when it is convened.

              Russia will continue to work actively toward convening a meeting, Alexey Borodavkin, Russia’s representative to the CD, said Jan. 22.

              The European Parliament passed a resolution Jan. 17 calling for a conference to be held in 2013 on establishing a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

              Prospects for Iran-IAEA Deal Fluctuate

              Kelsey Davenport

              The outlook now “is not bright” for promptly finalizing an agreement between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran to allow the agency to begin investigating key aspects of Iran’s nuclear program, IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano said Jan. 11.

              Amano’s comments in Tokyo, which were reported by Reuters, are the latest in a series of agency officials’ up-and-down assessments of prospects for the agreement, which is intended to address IAEA concerns about the Iranian program, including possible weapons-related activities,

              On Dec. 14, a day after a meeting with Iranian officials in Tehran, IAEA Deputy Director-General of Safeguards Herman Nackaerts told reporters in Vienna that he expected to “finalize the structured approach” at the next meeting and begin “implementing the plan shortly after that.” Nackaerts, the agency’s top safeguards official, said the parties had agreed to meet again on Jan. 16.

              Over the past year, the IAEA and Tehran have been negotiating a framework agreement to resolve the agency’s concerns over Iran’s possible weapons-related activities. In an annex to a November 2011 IAEA report, the agency outlined its evidence of activities related to Iranian development of nuclear weapons, including experiments with high explosives, detonator development, and fitting a warhead onto a missile. (See ACT, December 2011.)

              Iran maintains that its nuclear program is entirely for peaceful purposes.

              In a Dec. 14 statement, Iranian Ambassador to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltanieh confirmed his country’s participation in the Jan. 16 meeting, but did not say if he expected a deal to be finalized at that time. He said that “good progress” was made during the Dec. 13 meeting.

              The new momentum in the talks came a week after Amano said that the agency had “intensified dialogue” with Iran over the past year but that “no concrete progress” had been made.

              In Dec. 6 remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, Amano said that the agency is committed to continuing negotiations but that talks with Iran should not continue endlessly “without producing any concrete result.”

              Until Tehran responds to the IAEA’s outstanding concerns about possible weapons-related activities, the agency is still not in a position to declare that all of Iran’s nuclear materials are being used for peaceful purposes, he said.

              Deal Uncertain

              This is not the first time that IAEA officials have announced that they had nearly concluded their negotiations with Iran.

              On May 22, after a meeting in Tehran on the structured-approach document, Amano said that a deal was “quite close.” (See ACT, June 2012.) Subsequent meetings in June and August, however, did not result in an agreement.

              Olli Heinonen, a former IAEA deputy director-general for safeguards, said that it “remains to be seen” why the hopes for a deal “have not materialized.” In a Dec. 17 interview, he said that the “creation of hope” that an agreement is within reach could be an Iranian negotiating tactic to “buy time for the P5+1 talks, to build enriched-uranium stocks and capabilities, or to do both.”

              The P5+1 talks are a parallel set of negotiations between Iran and six countries (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) on Tehran’s nuclear program. Those talks, which are expected to resume in January, have been on hold since June (see box).

              Talks With P5+1 Not Finalized, Iran Says

              Iran and six world powers are discussing the time and venue for resuming negotiations on Iran’s controversial nuclear program, Iran’s lead nuclear negotiator told reporters during a Jan. 2 trip to India.

              Saeed Jalili said Tehran “accepted that these talks should be held in January.” The European Union “offered dates and a venue,” but has not heard back from Iran, a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Jan. 4. Ashton is the lead negotiator for the six countries—China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—in the talks with Iran.

              Negotiations between Iran and the six countries, known as P5+1, were halted in June after three rounds of talks in as many months failed to make concrete progress on a resolution. (See ACT, July/August 2012.) Iran maintains that its nuclear program is entirely peaceful.

              Amid the discussions of resuming negotiations, new EU sanctions, which EU foreign ministers had approved at an Oct. 15 meeting, went into effect Dec. 22. The new measures expand on previous sanctions, in part by further restricting EU countries’ financial transactions with Iranian banks and imports of natural gas. (See ACT, November 2012.)

              The United States adopted new sanctions Jan. 2, when President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2013. An amendment by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) expands on existing sanctions, targeting international companies doing business with Iran’s shipping sector. The legislation also imposes sanctions on the sale of certain commodities, such as graphite, aluminum, and steel, that are used in shipbuilding but also can be used to develop Iran’s nuclear program. The sanctions must be put in place by July 1.

              A U.S. measure set to go into effect Feb. 6 further limits Iran’s ability to repatriate payments from its oil exports. The provision, which is part of legislation that was signed into law Aug. 10, requires that non-Iranian banks facilitating payments for Iranian oil hold the funds and use them only for bilateral trade between Iran and the country in which the bank is located. If a non-Iranian bank allows the payments to go to an Iranian bank or transfers them to another country, it could face U.S. sanctions.

              The U.S. Treasury Department also added seven companies and five individuals to its list of sanctioned entities for providing Iran with goods or services related to Tehran’s proliferation-sensitive nuclear activities. This designation prohibits transactions between any of the sanctioned individuals or companies with the United States and freezes their assets held under U.S. jurisdiction. The list of individuals included the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Fereydoun Abbasi. The organization was added to the list in 2005.—KELSEY DAVENPORT

              Heinonen added that progress on the IAEA talks with Tehran is “tied with the progress of the P5+1 talks with Iran.” He said that the IAEA’s work would advance if there were “real progress” in P5+1 talks.

              Concerns About Parchin

              In his Dec. 6 comments, Amano reiterated the IAEA’s interest in obtaining access to Parchin, an Iranian military installation where some of the alleged weapons-related activities may have taken place. Iran has denied the IAEA access to the site; satellite imagery of Parchin indicates activity that Amano described as “quite intensive” and that he said could “severely” undermine the agency’s “capacity to verify” what occurred at the site. Amano said that the activities observed by the agency included the demolition of buildings, the removal of soil and fences, and an abundant use of water. According to experts, Iran could be attempting to use water to wash away traces of explosives.

              Despite these activities, access to Parchin would still give the agency a “better understanding” of Iran’s past work at the site, Amano said.

              In his Dec. 6 remarks, he said that the IAEA delegation traveling to Tehran for the Dec. 13 meeting would visit the Parchin site “if possible.” On Dec. 14, Nackaerts said that the IAEA had not been given access to the site so far.

              In the interview, Heinonen said that access to the site would help the agency establish if Iran’s activities are a “normal reconstruction effort” or “actual sanitation” designed to obscure evidence of weapons-related work.

              The outlook now “is not bright” for promptly finalizing an agreement between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran to allow the agency to begin investigating key aspects of Iran’s nuclear program, IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano said Jan. 11.

              Global Partnership Revamped in 2012

              Kelsey Davenport

              A coalition of countries fighting the spread of nonconventional weapons identified new project areas and expanded its geographical focus over the past year to address emerging threats, the U.S. representative to the group said Dec. 20.

              The Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction also improved coordination among its members and with international organizations, Bonnie Jenkins, coordinator for U.S. threat reduction programs and the 2012 chair of the partnership, said in an interview in her State Department office. The United States has handed off leadership of the group to the United Kingdom for 2013.

              The Global Partnership began in 2002 as an initiative by the Group of Eight (G-8) industrialized countries—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—to prevent terrorists from acquiring or developing nonconventional weapons. The eight countries pledged $20 billion over 10 years, with half of the money coming from the United States. During that period, the partnership focused primarily on large projects in Russia and other former Soviet states, including the dismantlement of nuclear submarines and the destruction of chemical weapons.

              The coalition, now 25 countries, is developing an identity that is broader than the G-8, Jenkins said. Nevertheless, the country holding the rotating annual presidency of the G-8 also chairs the partnership for the year.

              During the G-8 May 2011 summit in France, the group agreed to extend the original 10-year mandate of the partnership and expand the scope of the work to include nuclear and radiological security, biosecurity, further opportunities in civilian research for scientists with weapons expertise, and assistance to countries in implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1540. Adopted in 2004, Resolution 1540 requires all countries to enact legislation to prevent the proliferation of nonconventional weapons and their means of delivery.

              The partnership countries also expressed an interested in working in regions beyond the former Soviet Union and funded projects in 2012 in countries including Brazil, Libya, and Nigeria.

              The United States pledged another $10 billion to support the coalition’s work from 2012 to 2022, although the funding is subject to congressional approval. Other participating countries said they would continue to support the partnership financially, but did not set an overall funding level as they did in 2002.

              In the interview, Jenkins said that the 2011 decisions to expand the mandate and to work in new regions were important because the “threat keeps evolving” and the concerns of the 1990s and early 2000s are “not the same as those faced today.”

              During discussions among the G-8 about the extension of the partnership, Germany expressed concern that continuing to fund the coalition could be difficult due to the global economic recession and that, with smaller projects planned for the future, it would be more difficult to determine if the funds were used effectively. (See ACT, June 2011.)

              A Canadian official, however, told Arms Control Today in a Jan. 8 e-mail that he felt that the concerns in 2011 over extending the partnership had “largely abated” during the past year because countries are continuing to provide funds for new projects that are achieving “measurable results.” While chairing the partnership in 2010, Canada pledged to work toward the extension.

              German officials did not respond to requests for comment.

              The expanded mandate meant that the partnership needed in 2012 to provide a platform to inform countries of the opportunities that exist for projects addressing the new priorities, Jenkins said, noting that some countries did not have much experience funding projects in these areas. To accomplish this information exchange, she oversaw a change in the format of the partnership’s meetings, including increasing the number of days that the members met and inviting international organizations to participate. The attendance of these organizations also helps ensure that the partnership is complementing their work and not duplicating it, she said.

              In the past year, there was increased involvement by partnership countries that are not G-8 members, Jenkins said. Prior to 2012, such countries typically were invited to two of the four meetings held each year. Now they participate in each meeting, the 2012 yearly report on the Global Partnership’s activities said. The report is written by the country that chairs the group and agreed to by the other participating countries.

              In 2012 the partnership established five subgroups to work on specific issues. Three of them—focusing on biosecurity, membership expansion, and so-called centers of excellence, which assist states in meeting international obligations to prevent proliferation threats—began meeting last year. Two additional subgroups, on chemical security and nuclear and radiological security, were approved last October and are to begin meeting this year, the report said.

              Increased Coordination

              With the partnership’s expanded mandate and broader geographical focus, improving coordination among its members was one of the primary U.S. goals during Washington’s chairmanship, Jenkins said. The biosecurity subgroup oversaw two “flagship” programs, which represent a new form of coordination and collaboration with international organizations, she said.

              Although all Global Partnership decisions are made by consensus, flagship projects involve a number of countries working together and are designed to foster “collective decision-making,” Jenkins said. The partner countries’ funding limitations have created a need to find “new and innovative ways to address” threats, and the flagship projects are a way to meet that need, she said.

              One of the flagship projects, support for post-eradication efforts for rinderpest virus, a deadly disease that affects cattle and similar species, “highlighted collaboration” between partnership members and international organizations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Organisation for Animal Health, the 2012 report said. Rinderpest was eradicated in 2011, but remaining stockpiles of the virus must be destroyed or safely stored in laboratories. Although it does not infect humans, introduction of the disease into communities that rely on cattle has caused famines in the past.

              Jenkins said this type of biosecurity is a priority for the United States because it is necessary to bridge the “divide between heath and security.” She said that bringing together health and security officials to prevent, detect, and respond to biological threats is vital because it is not always immediately clear whether outbreaks of disease are natural or intentional.

              Further Expansion Planned

              Increasing the number of member countries in the Global Partnership was another focal point for the United States, Jenkins said. The subgroup on membership expansion identified 18 countries to target as potential new members; several of these countries are considering membership and could join the group in 2013, Jenkins said.

              Adherence to the principles established when the Global Partnership was formed in 2002, which include commitments to six actions to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction and related materials, remains the first criterion for membership, she said. In 2012 the subgroup also looked for countries that are regional leaders or have expertise in areas related to the group’s nonproliferation efforts, Jenkins said. A financial commitment is not a prerequisite for joining, she said.

              In particular, Jenkins said, incorporating more perspectives from underrepresented regions is important for the expanding focus of the initiative. Until Mexico attended a meeting in Stockholm last August, the partnership had never had a Latin American participant, she said, noting the importance of Mexico’s perspective as an observer during a meeting focused on work in that region. Mexico joined as a full member in December.

              She added that in her view the partnership could continue to expand but should remain “an action-oriented initiative.”

              Supporting Nuclear Security

              Jenkins said the Global Partnership has a “synergy” with the biennial nuclear security summit process that began in Washington in 2010, where national leaders endorsed President Barack Obama’s goal of securing all nuclear material in four years. Promoting the goals of the summit process will be a U.S. priority for the subgroup on nuclear and radiological security, she said.

              The 2012 report said that the subgroup in this area could “raise the profile” of nuclear security efforts and help provide funding and technical assistance for projects that are within the summits’ priorities, including protecting nuclear materials and facilities, improving countries’ capabilities to prevent nuclear smuggling, and enhancing national export control systems.

              Some experts have identified the partnership as a possible high-level forum to continue advancing the goals of the nuclear security summit once that process ends. Officials from the United States and other countries have said that the 2014 summit in the Netherlands could be the last. (See ACT, December 2012.)

              Jenkins said no decision had been made on that point. She said the role of the nuclear security summit process probably would have to be filled by several organizations, one of which could be the Global Partnership.

              A coalition of countries fighting the spread of nonconventional weapons identified new project areas and expanded its geographical focus over the past year to address emerging threats, the U.S. representative to the group said Dec. 20.

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