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"I want to thank the Arms Control Association … for being such effective advocates for sensible policies to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and most importantly, reduce the risk of nuclear war."
– Senator Joe Biden
January 28, 2004
Kelsey Davenport

New Report Finds NSS Process on Track, But More Work To Do

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For Immediate Release: March 13, 2012

Media Contacts: Michelle Cann, Senior Budget and Policy Analyst, PGS (202-332-1412); Tom Collina, Research Director, ACA (202-463-8270 x104); Kelsey Davenport, Scoville Fellow, ACA (202-463-8270, x114).

(Washington, D.C.) An independent report released today ahead of the March 26-27, 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul finds that states are on track to meet most of the national commitments they made in 2010 to improve the security of nuclear-weapons usable materials worldwide, but that more work, political will, and financial resources are still required to address the ongoing challenge of safeguarding nuclear material.

"States have made significant progress on their 2010 summit national commitments, but that is only half of the story," said Michelle Cann, Senior Budget and Policy Analyst at Partnership for Global Security (PGS) and co-author of the report.

"The commitments on the books will not get the job done. To prevent nuclear terrorism in the years ahead, the global nuclear security system must grow and adapt to new threats," she said.

"Substantial work remains if the summit process is to meet its goal of securing all vulnerable nuclear materials," said Kelsey Davenport, Herbert J. Scoville Peace Fellow at the Arms Control Association (ACA) and co-author of the report.

"The 2010 summit focused attention and galvanized action to better secure nuclear materials, but the actions states took on were never meant to be comprehensive. It would be a huge missed opportunity if states do not make significant new commitments and adopt higher nuclear security standards in Seoul to better safeguard vulnerable nuclear material," she said.

The report, The Nuclear Security Summit: Assessment of National Commitments, published jointly by ACA and PGS, concludes that approximately 80 percent of the 67 national commitments made by 30 global leaders at the 2010 summit in Washington have been completed.

The Seoul Nuclear Security Summit is expected to review states' progress on implementing their commitments and to set the course for future efforts to secure weapons-usable nuclear materials. A third summit is planned for the Netherlands in 2014.

"There is a danger that early successes of the summit process will lead to complacency," said Cann. "It is important to recognize that the nuclear security challenge will not be solved once the 2010 commitments are completed. The Seoul summit must acknowledge that nuclear material security is a long-term challenge that will require stable funding and a global commitment," she said.

"A core achievement of the 2010 summit was that the 47 nations in attendance reached consensus that nuclear terrorism is among the top global security challenges and that strong nuclear material security measures are the most effective way to prevent it," said Davenport. "As a result, vitally important progress has been achieved across the globe," she said.

The 47-page report assesses implementation of commitments by category and by country. Examples of progress made on national commitments over the last two years include:

  • Kazakhstan secured over 13 tons of highly-enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium;
  • Chile eliminated its entire stockpile of HEU;
  • The United States and Russia signed a plutonium disposition protocol obligating each country to dispose of 34 metric tons of plutonium, which is enough weapon's grade material for 17,000 nuclear weapons;
  • Russia ended plutonium production; and
  • Ukraine eliminated two-thirds of its HEU (over 100 kilograms) and is expected to clean out its remaining stockpile by the 2012 summit.

Despite this progress, major work remains beyond the commitments that have been made so far.

"The nuclear material security regime has improved over the past ten years, but it still lags behind the nuclear safety, nonproliferation, and arms control regimes," said Kenneth Luongo, President of PGS. "The 2012 summit provides a window of opportunity to begin the process of reframing the nuclear material security debate and initiating some key changes in strategy."

"We cannot wait for the current patchwork of nuclear security arrangements to fail before building a more permanent, cohesive, and comprehensive international nuclear security governance system," said Luongo.

The full report, The Nuclear Security Summit: Assessment of National Commitments, is available online here.

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

The Partnership for Global Security analyzes the convergence of the security, technological, and economic issues that are shaping the 21st century's global nuclear and biological challenges.

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(Washington, D.C.) An independent report released today ahead of the March 26-27, 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul finds that states are on track to meet most of the national commitments they made in 2010 to improve the security of nuclear-weapons usable materials worldwide, but that more work, political will, and financial resources are still required to address the ongoing challenge of safeguarding nuclear material.

Subject Resources:

NNSA Budget Cuts Los Alamos Facility

Kelsey Davenport

The Obama administration zeroed out funding for construction of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Facility Replacement (CMRR) at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico in its fiscal year 2013 budget request and announced it would delay work on the facility for at least five years.

According to the budget request, the delay will save $1.8 billion from fiscal year 2013 to fiscal year 2017.

The purpose of the CMRR is to support increased production capability of plutonium cores for nuclear weapons and perform technical analysis on nuclear materials. Funding for the new Los Alamos facility falls into the section of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) budget dealing with weapons activities, which include operating and maintaining the infrastructure and facilities necessary to ensure the safety, security, and reliability of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.

Despite the cut in CMRR funding, the weapons activities request of nearly $7.6 billion is five percent above the amount that Congress appropriated for fiscal year 2012. The $7.6 billion budget is, however, $53 million less than the fiscal year 2012 request for NNSA weapons activities.

Sequencing CMRR and UPF

The CMRR cut is a result of the NNSA’s decision to sequence construction of two new facilities at its national laboratories. Because of fiscal constraints, the NNSA said in the budget request, it will prioritize completion of the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee and delay the CMRR. According to the NNSA’s budget justification document, the UPF will “provide new facilities and equipment to consolidate all [enriched uranium] operations at Y-12.”

The CMRR construction can be deferred because existing facilities at the national laboratories have the “inherent capacity to provide adequate support” for plutonium activities, the document said. In a Feb. 13 video, NNSA Administrator Thomas D’Agostino said that the NNSA had adjusted its plutonium strategy and would utilize existing facilities to “ensure uninterrupted plutonium operations” while focusing funding on other key modernization projects. During a conference call with reporters that day, D’Agostino emphasized that the decision was a deferral rather than a cancellation.

For fiscal year 2012, Congress appropriated $200 million for the CMRR, $100 million less than the administration’s budget request. The 2012 budget request’s future-year projections estimated a $300 million request for the CMRR in fiscal year 2013 and $350 million per year in fiscal years 2014, 2015, and 2016. Total project costs for the CMRR already have increased markedly since 2004. At that time, the NNSA estimated that the CMRR would cost $660 million; current estimates place the cost closer to $6 billion.

As a result of the decision to sequence construction of the CMRR and UPF, the NNSA budget request reflects an accelerated building schedule for the Tennessee facility. For fiscal year 2013, the administration requests $340 million for UPF construction and project engineering and design, a $180 million increase over the enacted funding for 2012. The request is also a $150 million increase over what the 2012 budget request estimated for UPF funding for 2013.

Future-year projections for UPF construction based on programmatic requirements were not included in the fiscal year 2013 budget request, which stated that the “funding profile” for the UPF would be “updated and communicated at a later date.” The budget request did provide an estimate of $6.5 billion for the total project cost of the UPF between fiscal years 2005 and 2017. The estimate was based on fiscal year 2012 budget projections.

Some policymakers are questioning the decision to sequence the UPF and CMRR. In a Feb. 17 speech at a nuclear policy conference in Arlington, Va., Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, criticized President Barack Obama for “abandon[ing] key commitments” to modernize the nuclear arsenal and weapons complex, including the CMRR, that the administration made in negotiations with Senate Republicans to help secure Senate approval of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in December 2010.

In a February 2011 message sent to the Senate, Obama said he intended to “accelerate, to the extent possible” the design and engineering phases of the CMRR and UPF and “request full funding” for the facilities when the phases were completed.

However, in August 2011, Congress passed and Obama signed the Budget Control Act, which sets spending caps for fiscal year 2013. During the Feb. 13 conference call, D’Agostino said the legislation led to a “very different” fiscal environment and forced the NNSA to revise its plans.

Life Extension Programs

Elsewhere in the request for weapons activities, the administration asked for nearly $2.1 billion for “directed stockpile work,” an 11.5 percent increase over the $1.9 billion that Congress appropriated for fiscal year 2012. That program is responsible for ensuring the safety and security of the nuclear weapons stockpile.

The rise in the request for directed stockpile work is partly the result of an increase for the B61 life extension program (LEP), which is designed to extend the lifespan of the bomb for an additional 20 years. The B61 is a gravity bomb carried by the U.S. bomber fleet and certified NATO aircraft. Funding for the B61 LEP was increased by $146 million from the fiscal year 2012 appropriation, bringing the fiscal year 2013 request to $369 million. According to budget documents, fiscal year 2013 funding on the B61 LEP will go toward systems engineering and development of components. Production of the refurbished B61 is scheduled to begin in fiscal year 2019.

The increase is partially offset by a cut to the LEP for the W76, one of the two warheads deployed on submarine-launched ballistic missiles. The $175 million request for the W76 LEP represents an $81 million cut from the fiscal year 2012 enacted funding. The NNSA stated in its budget documents that it would reduce the current production rate of the refurbished W76 warheads in order to increase funding for the B61.

The Obama administration zeroed out funding for construction of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Facility Replacement (CMRR) at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico in its fiscal year 2013 budget request and announced it would delay work on the facility for at least five years.

Airborne Laser Mothballed

Tom Z. Collina and Kelsey Davenport

After 16 years and $5 billion, the Airborne Laser, once touted as “America’s first light saber,” has been canceled.

The program’s laser-armed aircraft, or Airborne Laser Test Bed (ALTB), has been placed into long-term storage at a facility informally known as the “boneyard” at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona. Nevertheless, according to a Feb. 14 Missile Defense Agency (MDA) press release, the agency is continuing to develop electric lasers “to significantly reduce the complexity and cost of future directed energy weapons.”

The MDA’s fiscal year 2013 budget request includes plans for removing and demilitarizing the ALTB’s hardware, but no further testing or data collection is planned. The budget documents state that due to limited funding, ALTB test flights and data collection were completed in fiscal year 2012 and the aircraft was prepared for permanent storage. In a Jan. 4 e-mail to Arms Control Today, MDA spokesman Richard Lehner said that the drawdown of the program began last October.

The ALTB aircraft was designed to use two solid-state lasers and a megawatt-class chemical oxygen-iodine laser mounted on a Boeing 747-400F to track and destroy ballistic missiles in flight. It had to face numerous operational challenges, such as the need to fly above hostile territory waiting for target missiles to be launched and to focus its laser at a single point on a moving missile.

The ALTB program, which began in 1996, nearly ended in 2009 when the Pentagon scaled it back to a research program and deeply cut its funding. Then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates canceled the development of a second airplane, saying he didn’t “know anybody at the Department of Defense who thinks that this program should, or would, ever be operationally deployed.”

In February 2010, the ALTB tracked and destroyed a missile for the first time. (See ACT, March 2010.) Two subsequent tests in September and October 2010 failed to destroy the target missiles. In July 2011, the ALTB completed the first laser tracking of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

In the Jan. 4 e-mail, Lehner said that the MDA would collect key ALTB data that are applicable to a “next generation airborne directed energy system for missile defense applications.” The budget request for directed energy research stated that the MDA would shift to “the next generation Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Laser technology” and maintain the skills necessary for the “next generation directed energy platform development.”

Specifically, the Obama administration requests $44.5 million for fiscal year 2013 for directed energy research, $1.7 million below the amount that Congress provided in 2012 for the program. According to budget documents, plans for fiscal year 2013 funding include the exploration of new laser technologies for missile defense.

In a Dec. 12 speech in Huntsville, Ala., MDA Director Army Lt. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly announced that the agency was “within a few years” of a prototype laser operated out of an unattended air vehicle.

Missile Defense Spending Down

Overall, the fiscal year 2013 budget would provide $9.7 billion for ballistic missile defense, down $700 million, or 7 percent, from the $10.4 billion that Congress appropriated for the current fiscal year. Total projected funding is $47.4 billion from 2013 to 2017. This total does not include $950 million in fiscal year 2013 for the Space Based Infrared System-High satellite program.

The missile defense budget includes $903 million for operating 30 ground-based interceptor (GBI) missiles in Alaska and California as part of the Boeing-operated system to protect the United States from limited ballistic missile attacks, primarily from North Korea. The missiles failed in their last two intercept tests, in January and December 2010. The MDA has completed a Failure Review Board investigation of the causes and has recommended fixes, but has not publicly released its report. The next test, called FTG-06b, is planned for sometime in 2012. The MDA plans to have 52 GBI missiles by 2017.

The budget also includes $1.5 billion for the European Phased Adaptive Approach, designed to protect NATO allies from a potential ballistic missile attack, most notably from Iran. The Defense Department said it met its objectives for phase 1 of the European system by deploying one Aegis-equipped ship for ballistic missile defense armed with Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IA missiles and a land-based AN/TPY-2 radar in Turkey last year. The next three phases include SM-3 Block IB deployments in Romania in 2015, SM-3 Block IIA deployments in Poland in 2018, and the addition of SM-3 Block IIB interceptors in 2020 with the capability for “early intercept” of “non-advanced” ICBMs. The MDA would continue converting Aegis-equipped ships, with 32 ships planned for conversion by fiscal year 2017, and buy almost 400 SM-3 interceptors by that year.

The Pentagon also announced that the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) intermediate-range missile interceptor program would be restructured “due to changing priorities and funding constraints.” The proposed revamping reduces the total number of interceptors from 333 to 180 in fiscal years 2013-2017, cutting the budget by $1.8 billion over that period to $2.8 billion, according to budget documents.

After 16 years and $5 billion, the Airborne Laser, once touted as “America’s first light saber,” has been canceled.

British Nuclear Investment Sparks Debate

Kelsey Davenport

The announcement by the British Ministry of Defence that it plans to spend 2 billion pounds ($3.1 billion) on new facilities at the Aldermaston nuclear weapons complex has prompted a strong reaction from members of Parliament who argue that the funding pre-empts the legislature’s October 2010 decision to postpone authorizing development of a new warhead until after the 2015 elections. (See ACT, November 2010.)

In comments published Nov. 27 in The Guardian newspaper, Caroline Lucas, a Green Party member of Parliament, said the ministry’s plan made a “complete mockery of the democratic process” because the ministry had “signed off” on the spending before Parliament decided on whether a new warhead was necessary. A ministry spokeswoman told The Guardian that the decision to invest in new weapons facilities maintains “essential facilities and skills” and “the capability to design a replacement warhead” if it is required.

However, obtaining that capability is not the primary purpose of the investment, said Peter Luff, a Conservative Party member of Parliament and the minister for defense equipment, support, and technology, during a Dec. 7 debate in the House of Commons. Citing the timetable in the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, he said the decision on designing a new warhead would be made “at the right time.” Luff also said that he made “no apology whatsoever” for taking seriously the responsibility for funding measures that the government deemed necessary to maintain and secure nuclear systems. The costs for the new facilities are being “closely scrutinized,” he said.

Under the plan, the government would spend 231 million pounds ($350 million) from 2011 to 2015 on a high-explosives fabrication facility. The 2016-2020 time frame includes funding for a 734 million pound ($1.1 billion) warhead assembly and disassembly facility and 634 million pounds ($980 million) for a plant where uranium components are manufactured and produced.

The British government is conducting a study on alternatives for the United Kingdom’s Trident submarine replacement program, but has said it will not publish the completed study. During the Dec. 7 parliamentary debate, Luff said that releasing the results would be “irresponsible and put national security at risk.”

The announcement by the British Ministry of Defence that it plans to spend 2 billion pounds ($3.1 billion) on new facilities at the Aldermaston nuclear weapons complex has prompted a strong reaction...

Congress Wants Options on Nuclear Subs

Tom Z. Collina and Kelsey Davenport

In the latest sign of political problems for the planned replacement of the United States’ nuclear-armed submarines, Congress has required the Navy and U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) to prepare a report on options for replacing the fleet.

The directive was included in the fiscal year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Dec. 31. It comes at a time of increasing pressure to reduce defense spending in general and questions about the submarine replacement in particular.

The Navy currently deploys 12 Ohio-class strategic submarines, which will start to reach the end of their operational lives in 2027. The Navy wants to have a replacement submarine ready by 2029. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected in June 2011 that the new submarine will cost $6 billion to $7 billion per boat. The Department of Defense has said that it will cost nearly $350 billion to develop, build, and operate a fleet of 12 new submarines through 2075, making it the most expensive part of the Pentagon’s plan to rebuild the triad of nuclear weapons delivery systems, which also includes a new long-range bomber and intercontinental ballistic missile.

In July, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) proposed to reduce nuclear weapons spending by $79 billion over 10 years, in part by curtailing and delaying the new submarine program. In October, 65 Democratic House members called for major reductions to nuclear weapons programs, including the new submarine. They suggested the program be delayed and scaled back from 12 to eight submarines, saying this would save $27 billion over the next 10 years. (See ACT, November 2011.)

STRATCOM Commander Gen. Robert Kehler testified at a Nov. 2 House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee hearing that although the country needs to replace the current Ohio-class submarine, “affordability has to be an issue here” and that Congress did not have to make a decision now on “what the ultimate number of submarines is that we might have to deploy.” The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has recommended that the number of new submarines be reduced to 10, although the Navy reportedly is objecting that 10 submarines are not enough to support five submarines “on station” at all times. (See ACT, December 2011.)

According to congressional staffers, the defense authorization law’s reporting requirement on the new submarine is intended to provide an in-depth review of the various options that have been suggested. It calls for an assessment of procurement and life-cycle costs associated with five options: a fleet of 12 submarines with 16 missile tubes each, as proposed by the Navy; 10 submarines with 20 missile tubes each, as proposed by OMB; 10 submarines with 16 missile tubes each; eight submarines with 20 missile tubes each, which is similar to the House Democratic proposal; and any “other options the [Navy] secretary and the [STRATCOM] commander consider appropriate.”

The report, due by the end of June, must include an assessment of each option’s ability to meet the current “at-sea requirements” and any expected changes in such requirements. This refers to the Pentagon’s policy that five strategic submarines must be at sea and deployed near potential targets at all times to allow for prompt launch of their nuclear-armed missiles. According to the Navy, supporting five forward-deployed submarines requires a total fleet of 12 operational boats, given the current rotation schedule. However, the Obama administration is now reviewing such policies as part of its Nuclear Posture Review implementation study that is expected to provide new guidance to Pentagon war planners.

The report also must assess each option’s ability to meet “the nuclear employment and planning guidance” currently in place and any expected changes in the guidance. This refers to the requirement that a certain number of nuclear warheads be deployed at sea (there are currently about 1,000) and that they be located close enough to potential targets to launch within hours. Changing these requirements would affect the number of submarines at sea and the number of missiles and warheads they need to carry.

Under the act, the Pentagon’s research and development work on the new submarine program would receive $1.1 billion, the amount the Obama administration requested.

In general, authorization bills for defense and other discretionary spending are supposed to provide guidance for appropriations bills, which set the actual spending levels.

Strategic Weapons Appropriations

On other strategic weapons, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012, which Obama signed on Dec. 23, funded research and development for the Air Force’s new nuclear-capable bomber, called the Next Generation Bomber, at $297 million, $100 million more than the administration’s request. The act fully funded the $9.9 million request for developing a new air-launched cruise missile.

Missile defense programs generally received full funding. For example, the appropriations act included the $565 million the administration had requested for procurement of the Aegis ballistic missile defense system. However, several programs were funded at levels below the administration’s request.

The law approved $390 million for the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS), $17 million below the requested amount. Earlier in the year, the program seemed to be headed for deeper cuts after the Army had announced plans to kill it. In the House version of the bill to fund the Defense Department, MEADS received $257 million; in the Senate Appropriations Committee’s version, the program was fully funded.

The system, jointly funded by the United States, Germany, and Italy to replace the Patriot interceptor, has faced years of delays and cost overruns. Congress reportedly funded MEADS primarily to avoid contract penalties of $800 million.

The appropriations act also provides $80 million, half of the administration request, for research and development funding for the Precision Tracking Space System, a new satellite system for tracking ballistic missiles in flight. The CBO has found that this program may not be cost effective because of the other missile-tracking capabilities the United States already has. The House’s version of the defense appropriations act provided no funding for this program while the Senate Appropriations Committee recommended full funding.

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system received $709 million of the $833 million request.

NNSA Funding

The appropriations act provided $7.2 billion for “weapons activities” in the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). That figure is $355 million below the administration’s budget request, but represents a 4.9 percent increase over the fiscal year 2011 appropriation.

Within the “weapons activities” category, the spending legislation fully funded the $224 million request for the B61 bomb’s life extension program (LEP). However, in the report accompanying the bill, Congress expressed concern over the NNSA’s “ability to execute its planned scope for the B61” under an “affordable” LEP and stipulated that only $89 million could be used until the NNSA submits to Congress the results of the so-called Phase 6.2/2A study. The Senate Appropriations Committee recommended funding the B61 LEP request at $180 million in its consideration of the fiscal year 2012 Energy Department appropriation. The report stated that enhanced security measures for the warhead should “not come at the expense of long-term weapon reliability.”

As with the defense appropriations bill, the full Senate never voted on the energy and water appropriations bill.

The legislation also provided less funding than requested for the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) Project at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. The CMRR Project is designed to assist in manufacturing plutonium warhead cores, or “pits.” Congress provided $200 million, $100 million less than the administration request, and said that no “construction activities” for the CMRR Project would be funded for fiscal year 2012. The $160 million request for the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee was fully funded.

As part of its negotiations with the Senate over ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, the administration committed itself to specific funding levels for modernizing the nuclear weapons complex, including construction of the CMRR Project and UPF.

In the latest sign of political problems for the planned replacement of the United States’ nuclear-armed submarines, Congress has required the Navy and U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) to prepare a report on options for replacing the fleet.

End of Nuclear Security Summits Mulled

Kelsey Davenport

The nuclear security summit process could end in 2014, a top adviser to President Barack Obama indicated last month.

In remarks at an Oct. 7 press briefing at the United Nations, Gary Samore noted that the first nuclear security summit, held in Washington in April 2010, endorsed the plan “to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years,” which Obama had announced a year earlier in a speech in Prague. “We do not intend to create a permanent institution with the nuclear security summit,” said Samore, the White House coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) terrorism.

He said he expected 2014 to be the “end point” of the four-year period.
“[A]t that point, it makes most sense for the nuclear security challenge to be transmitted to the broader international community and to the institutions that encompass all of the countries in the world,” he said, citing the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Samore added that although 2014 seemed the “logical” end point, it would be up to the leaders to decide if that was the “appropriate moment” to end the summit process.

Samore is the U.S. sherpa, or lead government negotiator, for next year’s summit, which is to be held March 26-27 in Seoul. In an Oct. 25 e-mail to Arms Control Today, he said that “it made sense to have at least one more summit” after the one in 2012 and, in particular, to have one in 2014 to mark the end of the four-year period.

Speaking at the Oct. 7 press conference, Hahn Choong-hee, the Korean sous-sherpa, or deputy government negotiator, also said the nuclear security process will be transferred to “existing international organizations and initiatives,” but said it was “too early and too premature to say that we are going to finish at a particular time.” He called for a third summit in 2014 to check the progress on the four-year goal of securing all nuclear materials.

Samore said at the briefing that he hoped the summits “will have provided a stimulus for countries to take actions to deal with the global challenge of nuclear security.” Although only 47 countries are participating in the nuclear security summit process, Samore said limiting the number of participants was a practical matter and that “we made sure to make clear that nuclear security is a global challenge that involves all countries.”

Samore expressed confidence in the ability of the UN and the IAEA to continue nuclear security work after the summit process ends, citing their involvement in the Washington and Seoul summits.

The UN, the IAEA, and the European Union participated in the 2010 summit and have attended the preparatory meetings for the 2012 summit. Interpol was added to the list of international organizations invited to 2012 summit. At the Oct. 7 briefing, UN High Representative for Disarmament Sergio de Queiroz Duarte said that strengthening nuclear security remained high on the UN’s international security agenda.

At the Washington summit, 29 countries made more than 50 specific commitments to strengthen nuclear security and help meet the four-year goal. The commitments were based on the consensus communiqué and work plan of the summit, which laid out principles of nuclear security and provided details on how those principles would be implemented.

Laura Holgate, senior director for WMD terrorism and threat reduction at the U.S. National Security Council, said at the press briefing that the countries have made “significant progress” toward fulfilling the principles of the work plan. As the 2012 summit draws closer, Holgate said she expected to see further progress toward meeting the commitments made in Washington and “new pledges of action” to prevent nuclear terrorism and illicit trafficking.

Although the commitments were voluntary and nonbinding, Obama said in an April 14, 2010, statement that the participating countries agreed at the Washington summit that it is a “fundamental responsibility” to secure nuclear materials and facilities effectively.

The UN press briefing took place two days after the conclusion of a preparatory meeting for the 2012 Seoul summit. Sherpas from the 47 countries met in Helsinki Oct. 4-5 to continue working on the Seoul Communiqué, a document drafted by South Korea that will guide the 2012 summit.

In his statement at the briefing, South Korean Ambassador to the UN Kim Sook provided some details on the communiqué, which is in the drafting stage. He said the sherpas at the Helsinki meeting adopted five guiding principles for the communiqué.

One principle cited by Kim is that nuclear security will remain the focus of the Seoul summit. Hahn said that although in the synergy between nuclear safety and security would be discussed in Seoul, safety would remain a secondary issue. The damage to Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant from an earthquake and tsunami last March sparked a debate among leaders over how much emphasis the summit should place on nuclear safety.

The other four principles that Kim listed were that the summit will build on the work of the 2010 summit, national commitments will remain voluntary, no new regime for nuclear security will be created, and the communiqué will “respect” Obama’s vision for securing all nuclear materials in four years.

Hahn said the agenda from the 2010 summit would be broadened to include security of sensitive information and radioactive sources. Although North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons will not be an explicit agenda item, the summit will provide an opportunity to emphasize the need for peace and security on the Korean peninsula, Hahn said.

The sherpas are scheduled to meet again in New Delhi next February to continue discussing the contents of the communiqué and the summit agenda.

The nuclear security summit process could end in 2014, a top adviser to President Barack Obama indicated last month.

GAO Finds Gaps in U.S. Nuclear Tracking

Kelsey Davenport

U.S. agencies are not able to verify the location and physical security of U.S.-obligated nuclear materials overseas, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a report released last month. The document, a summary of the classified report issued to the House Foreign Affairs Committee in June, recommended that Congress consider requiring the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to “complete a full accounting of U.S. weapons-usable nuclear materials [in other countries].”

The Energy Department, NRC, and Department of State disagreed with the GAO recommendations. In responses included in the report, all three agencies said that comprehensive tracking of U.S. nuclear material overseas is unwarranted and impractical. According to the statement from the Energy Department, “[International Atomic Energy Agency] inspection, surveillance, and reporting processes serve as an effective, internationally sanctioned and U.S.-supported tracking and accounting mechanism.”

The report also said Congress should consider amending the Atomic Energy Act to require greater access rights under future nuclear cooperation agreements for U.S. agencies to verify physical protection of U.S.-obligated nuclear materials.

The NRC responded by stating that the report “does not give sufficient weight to foreign sovereign responsibilities for ensuring physical protection” and that the review process conducted prior to negotiating nuclear cooperation agreements adequately assesses physical protection and safeguards.

U.S. agencies are not able to verify the location and physical security of U.S.-obligated nuclear materials overseas, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a report released last month. The document, a summary of the classified report issued to the House Foreign Affairs Committee in June, recommended that Congress consider requiring the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to “complete a full accounting of U.S. weapons-usable nuclear materials [in other countries].”

Support for Nuclear Weapons Funding Dips

Kelsey Davenport

Congressional backing for increased nuclear weapons spending that was evident after last year’s debate on the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty appears to be cracking under the weight of federal budget deficits as a Senate subcommittee last month approved a spending bill that fell $400 million short of the Obama administration’s request for nuclear weapons funding.

In the Sept. 7 vote, the Senate Appropriations energy and water subcommittee provided $7.2 billion for weapons activities for fiscal year 2012. The administration had requested more than $7.6 billion; the appropriations bill passed by the House in July provided $7.1 billion. The fiscal year 2011 appropriation was $6.9 billion.

The National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Directed Stockpile Work, particularly the life extension program for the B61 gravity bomb, sustained one of the larger cuts in the subcommittee recommendations. In explaining the cut in that program, from $223 million to $180 million, the subcommittee focused on the NNSA’s plan to incorporate new safety features into the B61. The subcommittee said that “new safety and security features should be incorporated in weapons systems when feasible, but the primary goal of a life extension program should be to increase confidence in warhead performance without underground nuclear testing.” The House version of the bill allocated $279 million for the B61 life extension program, $55 million more than the NNSA budget request. According to the report accompanying the House bill, “The recommendation moves back funding requested under Campaigns which had been associated with the B61 in the fiscal year 2011 request.” Additionally, the report said that no more than 50 percent of the funding should be obligated until the NNSA meets certain reporting requirements.

Two other Directed Stockpile Work categories, stockpile services and stockpile systems, also received less than the administration requested while the NNSA request for weapons dismantlement was fully funded.

Fiscal year 2011 ended on Sept. 30, but Congress has not yet agreed on funding levels for most departments and agencies. The government is being funded with a short-term spending measure.

Congressional backing for increased nuclear weapons spending that was evident after last year’s debate on the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty appears to be cracking under the weight of federal budget deficits as a Senate subcommittee last month approved a spending bill that fell $400 million short of the Obama administration’s request for nuclear weapons funding.

Books of Note

The India-Pakistan Military Standoff: Crisis and Escalation in South Asia

Edited by Zachary S. Davis, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, 240 pp.

Zachary S. Davis, a senior fellow at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Center for Global Security Research, has assembled a set of articles examining the 2001-2002 Indian-Pakistani confrontation, an extended sparring match between the two nuclear rivals largely overshadowed in Western media by U.S. operations in Afghanistan. The perspectives presented in this volume include first-hand recollections, a diplomatic reconstruction based on interviews, and analyses of the political implications of the events and the means by which future adventures in brinksmanship can be prevented.

The various authors are in agreement that the standoff came perilously close to erupting into war, whether in the form of a limited clash similar to the 1999 Kargil conflict, a full Indian invasion, or a nuclear exchange. Their accounts stress the danger of escalation in an environment in which conventional and nuclear options were intertwined and poorly conceptualized. Former Indian military officer Gurmeet Kanwal claims most Indian military planners believed and continue to believe that a deep drive into Pakistan would shake its commitment to retaliating with nuclear weapons. As a result, they have continued to support the buildup of Indian conventional capabilities. Feroz Hassan Khan, a Pakistani scholar who served in Kashmir across the Line of Control from Kanwal, maintains that the crisis in fact entrenched support for an ambiguous first-strike policy as insurance against conventional defeat. This contrast informs Davis’ conclusion that it and similar “unlearned” lessons from the crisis leave South Asia in a precarious nuclear balance. —XIAODON LIANG


How We Stopped Loving the Bomb

Douglas Roche, Lorimer, 2011, 208 pp.

For 35 years, Douglas Roche has tackled nuclear proliferation in a variety of roles, including Canadian ambassador for disarmament, chairman of the United Nations Disarmament Committee, and founding president of Parliamentarians for Global Action. This book narrates the highs and lows of his international diplomacy and arms control efforts. Roche’s candor provides insight into behind-the-scene realities. The career diplomat pulls no punches in his observations. He criticizes the five countries that the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) recognizes as nuclear-weapon states—China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—for what he sees as their obstruction of nonproliferation efforts. The NPT “is so compromised by forty years of non-action on its key element of comprehensive negotiations for elimination,” writes Roche, “that it cannot achieve a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East.” Roche also weighs in on a number of pressing topics, from International Atomic Energy Agency funding to missile defense. He describes what he argues are the underlying causes of proliferation, such as militarism and poor global economic development. Ultimately, the book is a call to action, warning that a convention banning production and use of nuclear weapons will happen only “once the public rebels against the weapons that would destroy all life.” —FARRAH ZUGHNI

 

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