"The Arms Control Association’s work is an important resource to legislators and policymakers when contemplating a new policy direction or decision."

– General John Shalikashvili
former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Russia, Iran Finalize Spent Fuel Agreement

Christine Kucia

Russian Atomic Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev concluded but did not sign an agreement with Iranian officials in late December stipulating that Russia will import the spent nuclear fuel generated over the next 10 years by Iran’s nuclear reactor at Bushehr.

Russia agreed in 1995 to help Iran construct the reactor and to provide the required nuclear fuel, drawing opposition from the United States, which believes Iran is attempting to build nuclear weapons. Russia promised the United States that it would import and reprocess spent fuel from the reactor, rather than leave it in Iran, in order to decrease proliferation concerns. But the provisions for returning the spent fuel to Russia have never been formally finalized, and Russia has refused to send nuclear fuel to Iran until they are.

Rumyantsev was expected to sign the agreement December 25 at the conclusion of a visit to Iran, according to a December 16 report by the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), Iran’s official news service. Speaking to reporters December 27 in Moscow, Rumyantsev said that other Russian ministries and agencies must first review and approve the accord, but he said, “We hope that such an additional agreement will be signed with Iran within a month.”

Meanwhile, Moscow remains engaged with Tehran in discussions on building as many as six other reactors in Iran. A joint study on whether to construct a second reactor at Bushehr will commence “in the next few months,” Iranian Vice President Gholamreza Aghazadeh said at a December 25 press briefing. Rumyantsev indicated at the same briefing that proposals Russia made in July 2002 for constructing reactors at other sites in Iran were already being discussed with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials. (See ACT, September 2002.)

Addressing Washington’s vehement objections to Russia’s cooperation with Iran, Rumyantsev stressed in a press conference December 27, “Our cooperation is in full accordance with all the international commitments of the countries which possess nuclear technologies.” He added, “Before making a decision on building the second unit it is necessary to additionally discuss technical and economic issues.”

Iran is a state-party to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and the Bushehr reactor will be subject to inspections by the IAEA. When operational, the unit will produce around 1,000 megawatts of electricity for Iran. IRNA reported December 25 that during Rumyantsev’s visit Russia and Iran had agreed to expedite work on the Bushehr reactor, which has fallen behind schedule. It is slated to be operational by the end of 2003.

Russian Atomic Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev concluded but did not sign an agreement with Iranian officials in late December stipulating that Russia...

An Extra Year for Russian Withdrawal from Moldova

Wade Boese

Acknowledging that Russia would not meet its end-of- 2002 deadline to withdraw all of its military equipment and troops from Moldova, the 55-member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) took note December 8 of a Russian pledge to finish the task within the coming year.

Russia committed in November 1999 to withdraw all of its heavy weaponry limited by the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty from Moldova by the end of 2001 and to remove the rest of its military forces from the country by the close of 2002. Moscow completed the first part of its withdrawal on time, but implementation of the second has barely been started. (See ACT, September 2002.)

By the end of 2002, Russia had shipped a total of eight trainloads of weapons and equipment out of Moldova. Approximately another 100 trainloads of weapons, ammunition, and other military equipment remain. Equipment to help destroy some of the more than 40,000 tons of stockpiled ammunition is still sitting at a local airport after arriving in Moldova last April and June.

Moscow contends that it is not to blame for the lagging withdrawal. Russian military forces in Moldova are located in the Transdniestria region, which is an enclave of ethnic Russian separatists. The Kremlin claims that the separatists are blocking their withdrawal and demanding that Russia compensate them for removal of the weaponry and equipment, in part by writing off a $100 million gas debt owed by the region to Russia.

Russia’s failure to withdraw its forces from Moldova, as well as its lingering dispute with Georgia over how long Russia has to abandon two bases in that country, are holding up entry into force of a 1999 revision of the CFE Treaty. NATO countries insist that Russia fulfill its withdrawal commitments in Moldova and Georgia before the 19 members of the alliance ratify the updated treaty, which requires ratification by all 30 CFE states-parties for it to become legally binding.

The adapted CFE Treaty is designed to limit the amount of heavy conventional weaponry allowed on each of its states-parties’ territory rather than balancing the arsenals of NATO and the now-defunct Warsaw Pact, as did the original treaty, which was signed in 1990.

Acknowledging that Russia would not meet its end-of- 2002 deadline to withdraw all of its military equipment and troops from Moldova, the 55-member...

Countries Agree to Negotiate on Explosive Remnants of War

Wade Boese

States-parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) agreed December 13 to negotiations on addressing the dangers posed by unexploded munitions on the battlefield and to continue discussing possible limits on anti-vehicle mines.

Opened for signature in 1981, the CCW is designed to prohibit or limit the use of weapons deemed to be “excessively injurious” and those that are indiscriminate and could kill or injure noncombatants. The convention, which now numbers 90 states-parties, is comprised of four separate protocols that ban or restrict the use of nondetectable fragment weapons; incendiary weapons; blinding lasers; and mines, booby traps, and other devices.

CCW states-parties, including the United States, met in Geneva December 12-13 to hear reports by two working groups of governmental experts established in December 2001 to explore the issues of explosive remnants of war and mines other than anti-personnel mines—essentially anti-vehicle mines. The states-parties then approved the two groups’ recommendations, which called for negotiation of an “instrument” on explosive remnants of war and further exploration of the mines issue.

Precisely what type of arrangement will be negotiated to address explosive remnants of war remains unclear. The states-parties used the word “instrument,” which to the United States indicates that the final product will not be legally binding. Other countries disagree, claiming that the states-parties have agreed to negotiate a “protocol,” which would be legally binding. Among these other countries are ones that desire bans on specific weapons, such as cluster munitions—a step the United States strongly opposes.

The negotiations will focus on preventive and post-conflict remedial measures. These measures could include improving self-destruct and self-deactivation mechanisms on weapons, warnings to civilians, the supply of information and equipment for handling and destroying unexploded munitions, and clearance responsibilities.

China questioned the feasibility of making self-destruct and self-deactivation mechanisms better, arguing that not all countries have the economic and technological capacity to carry out such work. Instead, China suggested that efforts should be dedicated to establishing a principle of user’s responsibility for clearance and to improve the reliability of munitions.

Joined by Russia, India, and Pakistan, China continued to oppose a past U.S.-Danish proposal to negotiate a new CCW protocol restricting the use of anti-vehicle mines, although its position slightly softened over the past 12 months. In December 2001, Chinese Ambassador Sha Zukang contended that there was “no evidence” that anti-vehicle mines “led to serious humanitarian problems”; but at the latest meeting, Sha said, “We do not deny that [anti-vehicle mines have] caused certain humanitarian problems.”

Nevertheless, Sha added that mines were “effective defensive weapons” and that no further work needed to be done, claiming that the existing CCW protocol on mines was sufficient. Yet, he said that China recognized the interest of other countries to explore the issue and that Beijing would “show flexibility” to allow the discussions to continue.

The explosive remnants of war negotiations and the continued discussions on mines will again be carried out by two separate groups of governmental experts in three 2003 sessions scheduled for March 10-14, June 16-27, and November 17-24. CCW states-parties will then meet November 27-28 to review the experts’ work and, if necessary, decide on future action.

States-parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) agreed December 13 to negotiations on addressing the dangers posed by unexploded...

OPCW Annual Report Cites Progress, Problems

Kerry Boyd

By the end of 2001, India and the United States had destroyed 20 percent of their most dangerous chemical weapons, according to an annual report the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) released in October. The OPCW, which oversees implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), also said that other states were making progress in destroying chemical weapons and related facilities, despite some major delays, but that financial difficulties had led it to conduct fewer inspections than scheduled.

Four CWC states-parties have declared that they possess chemical weapons, which the convention prohibits and requires to be destroyed. Two of those countries, India and the United States, completed destruction of 20 percent of their Category 1 chemical weapons stockpiles—agents with high potential for offensive use—ahead of the April 29, 2002, deadline set by the CWC. In October the CWC conference of the states-parties agreed to grant an extension to the two other countries—Russia and an unnamed CWC member state believed to be South Korea—to destroy 20 percent of their Category 1 weapons. (See ACT, November 2002.)

India and Russia finished destroying all their Category 3 chemical weapons in 2001, according to the report. Category 3 weapons are munitions, containers, or equipment that do not contain chemical agent but are specifically connected to the use of chemical weapons. The United States had destroyed more than 99 percent of its Category 3 chemical weapons by the end of 2001 and has since completed the effort. The unnamed country had completed destruction of Category 3 weapons in 1999. Efforts to destroy Category 2 weapons—chemicals that do not fall under Category 1 but could be precursors to Category 1 chemicals or otherwise have offensive potential—in India and Russia were also “well underway” in 2001, according to the report. The United States and the unnamed country have not declared any Category 2 weapons.

By the end of 2001, all but two of the then-145 CWC states-parties had fufilled their treaty obligation to declare any chemical weapons and related facilities they have to the OPCW, continuing a positive trend of more states complying with the declarations requirement, the report says. At the end of 1999, 34 member states had yet to submit their declarations, but by the end of 2000 only five countries had failed to do so. “This positive development greatly facilitated the Secretariat’s planning of inspection activities, particularly for the first three months of 2002,” according to the report.

The OPCW verified that in 2001 states-parties destroyed “957 tonnes of chemical weapons agent contained in 219,592 munitions items and bulk containers and 289,580 unfilled munitions, devices and specifically designed items of equipment in three of the four chemical weapons possessor States Parties,” the report says. The organization also verified that 27 former chemical weapons production facilities were destroyed and eight were converted for nonmilitary uses.

Because of financial difficulties, however, the OPCW conducted only 200 inspections in 2001—68 percent of the 293 inspections budgeted for that year. The organization’s budget for 2001 was more than $62 million, and the secretariat scaled back the number of inspections to avoid a deficit, according to the report.

Meanwhile, Thailand deposited its instrument of ratification of the CWC with the UN secretary-general on December 10, 2002, becoming the 148th state-party to the CWC January 9, 2003.

By the end of 2001, India and the United States had destroyed 20 percent of their most dangerous chemical weapons, according to an annual report...

Chemical Weapons Destruction Begins at Gorny

Russia’s first chemical weapons destruction facility began operations December 19 at Gorny in the Saratov region. The facility destroyed 840 kilograms of mustard gas on its first day, said Alexander Kharichev, advisor for the Russian state commission on chemical disarmament, according to a December 20 Interfax report.

Russia officially opened the Gorny facility August 21 but did not plan to begin destroying weapons there until December 2002. (See ACT, September 2002.) Russia’s chemical demilitarization plan, issued in July 2001, calls for completing destruction of the weapons stored at the Gorny site, mostly mustard and lewisite agents, by 2005. Under the plan, Russia would begin scrapping chemical weapons at two other facilities, Shchuch’ye and Kambarka, in 2005.

Under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), Russia was supposed to have destroyed 20 percent of its most dangerous (“Category 1”) weapons by April 2002, but the country missed the deadline and is just now beginning the destruction process. In October the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which oversees implementation of the CWC, extended the deadline for Russia to meet the 20 percent mark. The CWC requires member states to complete all chemical disarmament by 2007, but Russia has requested permission from the OPCW to push its deadline back to 2012. The organization is considering the request. (See ACT, November 2002.) OPCW inspectors are at the Gorny facility and will monitor the destruction process there.

In a December 25 press release, Russia expressed gratitude to Germany, the European Union, and the Netherlands for providing financial and technical assistance at Gorny. “We hope for as fruitful international cooperation in the future during the construction of new chemical disarmament facilities in Kambarka and Shchuchye,” the release said. Meanwhile, Russia and Poland signed an agreement December 17 for Poland to provide more than $100,000 and scientific assistance for Russian chemical disarmament.

Zinoviy Pak, the head of the Russian Munitions Agency, said that Russia has budgeted $174 million for destroying chemical weapons in 2003—about the same as Russia’s 2002 chemical disarmament budget, the Associated Press reported December 25. Russia will need substantial foreign financial assistance to meet its CWC deadlines.

Deadlines Extended for Russian Chemical Demilitarization

November 2002

By Kerry Boyd

States-parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) decided at an October 7-11 meeting to extend “in principle” two interim deadlines for Russia to destroy part of its chemical weapons stockpile, but they postponed a decision on Russia’s request to extend two other deadlines, including the deadline for destroying its entire stockpile.

The decision, made during the seventh session of the Conference of the States-Parties held in The Hague, affects the deadlines for Russia to destroy 1 percent and 20 percent of its Category 1 chemical weapons stockpile, which consists of agents with high potential for offensive use. The states-parties, however, did not establish new specific deadlines. The conference authorized the executive council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which oversees implementation of the CWC, to establish a specific date for the 1 percent deadline and to recommend a new deadline for the 20 percent mark, which will be considered when the conference reconvenes for its eighth session in October 2003.

Under the CWC’s original terms, Russia committed to destroy 1 percent of its stockpile by April 29, 2000, and 20 percent by April 29, 2002. The states-parties had already extended the 1 percent deadline for Russia from 2000 to 2002. (See ACT, June 2000.) The convention also requires member states to destroy 45 percent of their Category 1 weapons by April 29, 2004, and the remainder of their stockpiles by April 29, 2007, but Russia has said it will miss those deadlines. It has asked the OPCW to extend the final deadline until 2012. The conference has not yet decided whether to grant Russia an extension for its 45 percent and 100 percent deadlines.

In opening remarks to the conference, OPCW Director-General Rogelio Pfirter noted that the executive council emphasized at its last meeting that Russia must do everything possible to meet its deadlines for destruction. The council had also called on states-parties that provide assistance to the Russian chemical demilitarization program to continue their support, he added. (See ACT, October 2002.)

Meanwhile, the United States and India “have met their obligations to destroy 20 percent of their declared chemical weapons stockpiles within five years after the entry into force of the Convention,” Pfirter said, adding that all states-parties with declared Category 2 and Category 3 chemical weapons “have fulfilled their obligation [to complete destruction] within the five-year time frame established by the Convention.”

The conference, which was attended by representatives from 109 of the 146 CWC states-parties, approved a 2003 OPCW budget of more than $67.9 million—about a 10 percent increase over the 2002 budget.

Despite some positive changes, the U.S. General Accounting Office issued a report October 25 that concluded the OPCW’s inaccurate budget projections have been principally responsible for its large deficits. “The organization has consistently overestimated its income and underestimated its expenses,” the report says. The budget deficits have hindered the organization’s ability to conduct inspections, as required by the CWC.

The organization has counted unpaid assessments owed by member states as income and “overestimated reimbursement payments for inspections conducted in member states with chemical weapons-related facilities,” according to the report. Such member states owed the organization more than $2 million from inspections as of June 2002, including the United States, which owed more than $1.4 million.

The report calls on the U.S. secretary of state to work with the OPCW to develop a “comprehensive” budget plan and to report annually to Congress on progress improving the OPCW’s budgeting system.


Deadlines Extended for Russian Chemical Demilitarization

U.S. Funds Released for Shchuch'ye

November 2002

By Christine Kucia

A U.S.-sponsored chemical demilitarization program in Russia received a boost October 23 after President George W. Bush signed the fiscal year 2003 defense appropriations bill, which released funds that had been withheld from fiscal years 2000-2002 “for the planning, design, or construction of a chemical weapons destruction facility” at Shchuch’ye.

Congress requires that the president certify Russian compliance with certain conditions, such as abiding by arms control treaties, in order to provide funding for Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) programs, which include nuclear, biological, and chemical nonproliferation and disarmament projects.

In fiscal year 2000, President Clinton certified Russian compliance, but Congress denied funding for Shchuch’ye. In addition to the usual CTR certification requirements, some Republicans who questioned Russia’s commitment to destroying its chemical weapons stockpile denied funding again and inserted a provision into the fiscal year 2001 defense authorization bill imposing additional conditions on funds for the chemical demilitarization program. Among the requirements, the secretary of defense must certify that Russia has declared its entire chemical weapons stockpile and that Moscow is committed to allocating at least $25 million per year for Shchuch’ye’s construction and operation.

The Pentagon has been unable to certify these conditions and has therefore been prevented from spending money on Shchuch’ye that was allocated after the legislation was passed. The 2003 appropriations bill provides the president with the authority to waive the certification requirements, allowing the Defense Department to spend the backlogged funds and money to make up the 2000-2001 gap.

President Bush had asked Congress to grant him the authority to waive the conditions and allow the Shchuch’ye project to proceed. The House and Senate finally agreed to grant a one-year waiver authority as part of the appropriations bill in order to release the money withheld from fiscal years 2000-2002.

The congressional requirements and the Pentagon’s decision not to certify Russia’s compliance, however, might still prevent expenditure of funds allocated for fiscal year 2003. Waiver authority for 2003 funds was not in the appropriations bill. Although the fiscal year 2003 defense authorization bill could grant the president waiver authority for the general CTR program and the chemical destruction project, Congress has not yet completed it.

Before Congress passed the appropriations bill, Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), a key proponent of the CTR program in Congress, accused his colleagues in July of dangerous foot-dragging on the waiver issue. He declared, “It has been more than five years since the U.S. and Russia, each, ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention but no Russian chemical weapons are being destroyed…. Almost two million rounds of chemical weapons in relatively small and discrete shells [are] awaiting elimination at Shchuch’ye.” Lugar urged Congress to grant the president permanent waiver authority.

U.S. Funds Released for Shchuch'ye

U.S. Begins Trimming Nuclear Forces

November 2002

By Christine Kucia

The United States has begun dismantling its Peacekeeper ICBM force and converting two Trident nuclear submarines to carry conventional weapons in the first move toward reducing its deployed strategic warheads to the 1,700-2,200 limit established by the U.S.-Russian Strategic Offensive Reduction Treaty.

On October 1, crews at F. E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming began dismantling the first of 50 Peacekeeper missiles, each capable of delivering 10 independently targetable warheads at variable yields, according to Jenna McMullin, spokeswoman with Air Force Space Command. One-third of the force will be retired in each year of the three-year dismantlement program at a total estimated cost of $400-500 million. The deactivation and dismantlement of each missile will take about 17 days, McMullin noted. Warheads removed from the Peacekeepers will be stored, and some are slated to replace older warheads on Minuteman III missiles.

Meanwhile, the USS Ohio ceased its nuclear role on September 30 upon its return to Bangor Naval Submarine Base in Washington, The Seattle Times reported October 1. The Ohio will head to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for a two-year conversion program slated to begin in October 2003, according to U.S. Navy spokeswoman Elissa Smith. The submarine is the first of four that will be refitted to carry as many as 154 conventional Tomahawk or Tactical Tomahawk land-attack missiles, bringing the U.S. nuclear ballistic missile submarine fleet down to 14 boats. The newly fitted submarines are scheduled to become operational in 2007 at a total estimated conversion cost of $3.4 billion.

The reductions in land-based and submarine-launched nuclear forces come after the Bush administration outlined its strategic plans in the 2002 Nuclear Posture Review. By 2007, according to the review, the United States will reduce the number of operationally deployed warheads in its arsenal from around 5,900 to 3,800 by eliminating the Peacekeeper ICBM platform and converting the four Tridents, along with downloading some warheads from other ICBMs and bombers. (See ACT, January/February 2002.)

It is unclear which warheads the United States will subsequently remove from operational deployment to meet the 2,200-warhead limit by the strategic reductions treaty’s 2012 deadline, but after the modifications to the U.S. force structure currently underway, there are no plans to dismantle further delivery vehicles. According to leaked portions of the nuclear posture review, after 2007 “no additional strategic delivery platforms are scheduled to be eliminated from strategic service.”

A September 24 Congressional Budget Office report on the financial implications of the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty concluded that retiring delivery platforms and warheads would save more money than removing and storing warheads and keeping many delivery platforms, as the Bush administration plans. “Removing or retiring delivery platforms…offers the potential for significant savings”—around $5.1 billion in savings by 2012, according to the report. Simply removing and storing warheads while retaining the delivery platforms, however, will cost an estimated $105 million in the next decade, the report says.

U.S. Begins Trimming Nuclear Forces

U.S. Reportedly Offers Russia Deal on Bushehr

November 2002

By Paul Kerr

The United States has reportedly offered Russia access to spent nuclear fuel if it ends its role in constructing a nuclear reactor near the Iranian city of Bushehr. The State Department would not directly confirm that the lucrative offer had been made but said October 23 that the United States would be willing to offer the transfer “of spent reactor fuel currently held by third countries” to Russia as incentive to halt nuclear cooperation with Iran.

Russian Atomic Energy Ministry spokesman Yuri Bespalko expressed doubts about the sincerity of Washington’s proposal, however, citing Washington’s failure to fulfill a promise of removing trade restrictions imposed by the 1974

Jackson-Vannick Amendment, according to the October 22 Washington Post article that first reported the deal. A Bush administration official interviewed October 30 differed with the Post’s account, saying that a spent fuel deal has been discussed for several years and that Russia was more receptive to it than the spokesman’s statement suggests.

The official said that several countries are seeking ways to dispose of their nuclear waste and would be interested in paying Russia to take it from them. Washington would have to approve the transfer of most of the material because the United States originally supplied it and has agreements with recipient countries requiring Washington’s permission for shipment to third parties, the official explained. (See ACT, July/August 2001.) The official said that a decision has not yet been made as to whether Russia would store or reprocess the fuel, but said that the United States prefers storage.

The State Department placed the deal’s value at “potentially…over $10 billion”—significantly more than the Bushehr project, which is widely reported to be worth about $800 million.

The offer was reported while John Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, was traveling in Moscow October 20-22. Bolton acknowledged that he had discussed Russia’s assistance to Iran’s nuclear and missile programs with Russian officials, but he denied that the United States had offered any incentive to halt this assistance. “The idea of that kind of quid pro quo trade-off is simply an inaccurate representation of the nature of the relationship between Russia and America today. We wouldn’t offer such an arrangement, and the Russian government wouldn’t accept it,” he said during an October 22 press conference in Moscow.

Russia’s assistance on the Bushehr project has long concerned the United States. The State Department asserted that such assistance could aid Tehran’s nuclear weapons program, according to an October 23 statement. Moscow raised Washington’s ire when it released a draft document July 26 that called for the construction of additional nuclear reactors in Iran. (See ACT, September 2002.)


The United States has reportedly offered Russia access to spent nuclear fuel if it ends its role in constructing a nuclear reactor near the Iranian city of Bushehr. 

Russia Uses Opiate-Based Gas on Militants

Russian law enforcement authorities stormed a Moscow theater October 26 after pumping gas into the building, where Chechen militants were holding more than 700 people hostage. Many hostages were rescued, but 115-117 hostages died from the effects of the gas, according to media reports.

Despite Russia’s early reluctance to name the gas, Health Minister Yuri Shevchenko said in a press conference October 30 that it was based on the opiate fentanyl. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list fentanyl as an “incapacitating” chemical agent.

The death toll and Russia’s early reluctance to identify the gas have raised concerns that the use of the substance might violate the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which Russia ratified in 1997. Shevchenko said, “No chemical substances that could fall within the international weapons convention were used in the course of the operation.”

The CWC does not prohibit “riot control agents,” defined as chemicals that “can produce rapidly in humans sensory irritation or disabling physical effects which disappear within a short time following termination of exposure,” although it bans the use of such agents in warfare. Some analysts expressed concern that the gas used in the theater might violate the CWC because of the fatalities it caused.
It is unclear whether CWC member states, including the United States, which has its own “non-lethal” chemical agent program, will decide to challenge Russia’s use of the gas under the convention.


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