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former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Missile Proliferation

Controlling the Spread of Ballistic Missiles



Arms Control Association and the Embassy of Argentina Press Briefing

[Click here for a transcript of this event.]

Tuesday, November 23, 2004
9:00 A.M. - 10:30 A.M.

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Root Room
1779 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC

Iran recently announced it has a ballistic missile capable of traveling up to 2,000 kilometers. India and Pakistan regularly carry out tests of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. North Korea is suspected of covertly advancing its longer-range ballistic missile capabilities and marketing its shorter-range ballistic missiles and know-how around the globe. These developments have spurred growing U.S. and international concern about the threat from ballistic missiles. While U.S. efforts to build missile defense systems have received considerable attention, the United States and the international community are also pursuing other approaches to protecting against ballistic missile dangers. The 34-member Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and the 117-member Hague Code of Code Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation are two such measures. The distinguished panelists will discuss these and other missile nonproliferation strategies.


  • Ambassador Renato Carlos Sersale di Cerisano, Director of International Security, Nuclear, and Space Affairs for the Argentinean Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The ambassador recently completed a one-year presidency of the MTCR.
  • Vann H. Van Diepen, Director of the Department of State's Office of Chemical, Biological, and Missile Nonproliferation. He also heads U.S. delegations to MTCR and the Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation.
  • Aaron Karp, Senior Faculty Associate with the Graduate Program in International Studies, Old Dominion University. He is currently a consultant to the UN Secretary-General on missiles and author of "Ballistic Missile Proliferation: The Politics and Technics" (Oxford University Press, 1996).
  • Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director of the Arms Control Association.


For more information about missile proliferation, visit the Arms Control Association's subjects resources on Missile Proliferation and Export Controls.




















Arms Control Association and the Embassy of Argentina Press Briefing

Subject Resources:

Missile Regime Puts Off China

Wade Boese

More than 30 countries dedicated to limiting the spread of ballistic missiles decided in October against letting China join their group because of Beijing’s alleged failure to meet their nonproliferation standards. They also expanded the list of items that governments should be more cautious about exporting.

After gathering Oct. 6-8 in Seoul for an annual decision-making meeting, the 34 members of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) made no mention of China’s membership bid, but a U.S. government official told Arms Control Today Oct. 15 that the absence of such a statement was evidence of Beijing falling short. Members could not reach the necessary consensus to offer China membership because of concerns about Beijing living up to the regime’s export control and behavior standards, according to the official, who added, “They’re not there yet.”

In the weeks preceding the MTCR meeting, the United States imposed proliferation sanctions on eight Chinese companies. One of those, Xinshidai, was specifically accused of missile proliferation. The others, two of which the Bush administration previously penalized for missile proliferation, were punished for unspecified deals with Iran, which Washington charges is covertly seeking nuclear weapons and developing ballistic missiles to deliver them.

Beijing vehemently objected to the U.S. accusations and sanctions. “We are firm and rigorous in our attitude, position, and laws and regulations on opposing the proliferation of [weapons of mass destruction] and their delivery vehicles,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan stated Sept. 23. Deeming U.S. sanctions as “wrong practices,” Kong also warned that they “will not help expand China-U.S. cooperation on nonproliferation.”

Although it failed for now to win MTCR membership, China has made some headway this year in its campaign to gain acceptance as a responsible exporter. Beijing successfully acceded in May to the now-44 member Nuclear Suppliers Group, whose members restrict their nuclear trade. (See ACT, June 2004.)

Ten other countries, including Romania, Kazakhstan, and Slovenia, also saw their MTCR membership hopes at least temporarily dashed.

Meanwhile, MTCR members agreed to exercise greater controls on what they export. Topping the list of new products to be regulated are precision ball bearings, which are critical in building liquid-propellant missile engines.

MTCR members also vowed to focus on stopping proliferators from using intermediaries and front companies to get what they want. The U.S. official said this is a challenge that members are still “coming to grips with.”

India and Pakistan Set Missile Talks

Ianitza T. Ianachkova

India and Pakistan are moving forward in their plan to build on recent diplomatic exchanges conducted between the two Southeast Asian rivals since the new Indian government assumed power in May.

Experts from both countries will meet Dec. 14-15 in Islamabad to discuss a draft agreement for early notification of missile tests, among other confidence-building measures.

The December agreements are expected to build on previous commitments between the two nations, such as the establishment of a hotline between the two chains of command as well as a continuation of the 1998 bilateral moratorium on further nuclear tests. (See ACT, July/August 2004.)

In the meantime, the countries have hardly paused in showing off their military prowess. India reportedly tested its nuclear-capable Prithvi missile Oct. 27 on the heels of Pakistan’s Oct. 12 test of its nuclear-capable medium-range Ghauri missile. The test follows a series of missile tests conducted by each country since May. (See ACT, September 2004.)

Both countries said they were notified of the tests.

New North Korean Missile Suspected

Paul Kerr

North Korea is “in the process of deploying” a new intermediate-range ballistic missile, a Department of State official told Arms Control Today Aug. 18. The missile might be able to fly up to three times as far as previous North Korean missiles, reaching U.S. facilities in Asia.

Although the official emphasized that Pyongyang’s efforts to improve its missiles have been ongoing “for years,” recent press reports have given the issue new visibility.

The official did not dispute press accounts, based on a South Korean Defense Ministry report, that North Korea has been testing missile engines and deploying intermediate-range ballistic missiles. The official also confirmed that the missile is based on a Russian missile, reportedly the Soviet SS-N-6. The official said the United States believes North Korea is deploying the missile in a “road-mobile mode,” although the SS-N-6 was a submarine-launched ballistic missile.

The precise range of the new missile is unclear. Defense Intelligence Agency Director Vice Adm. Lowell Jacoby told the Senate Intelligence Committee in February that a missile similar to the SS-N-6 “could reach U.S. facilities in Okinawa, Guam, and possibly Alaska” if it were developed by North Korea.

The State Department official did not give a specific range for the missile, but several press reports cite U.S. and South Korean government estimates of 2,500-4,000 kilometers. The most advanced version of the SS-N-6 had an estimated range of 3,000 kilometers. A new missile’s range would vary considerably depending on the size of its payload.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov denied that Russia had provided North Korea with missile technology, the Interfax News Agency reported Aug. 5. Russia no longer deploys the SS-N-6.

The State Department official also stated that North Korea is “arguably” in the process of deploying the missile without flight-testing it. The official noted that Pyongyang does not develop missiles in the same way the United States does, pointing to North Korea’s deployment of its Nodong missile after only one flight test as an example of its unorthodox missile deployment practices.

However, Greg Thielmann, who served as director of the strategic, proliferation, and military affairs office in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, expressed skepticism of that possibility. Thielmann told Arms Control Today Aug. 20 that he is “dubious” that North Korea would deploy the missile without testing it, adding that it is “unclear what experience the North Koreans have with [the missile].” He also noted that the liquid-fueled SS-N-6 would carry the same operational disadvantages of previous North Korean liquid-fueled road-mobile systems, such as being more conspicuous and requiring longer launch times than solid-fueled systems.

Asked about press leaks from U.S. officials that Iran is conducting flight tests for North Korea, the State Department official said that it is “always a possibility” but added that the United States does not have solid information that such cooperation is happening. It is not clear that North Korea “would depend on Iran for anything,” the official added. Iran receives assistance from North Korea on its ballistic missile program, according to a November 2003 CIA report.

North Korea has observed a self-imposed moratorium on testing longer-range missiles since 1999. North Korean leader Kim Jong Il told Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi during a May summit meeting that Pyongyang intends to continue adhering to the moratorium. (See ACT, June 2004.)

The longest-range missile North Korea has flight-tested is the Taepo Dong-1, which it launched over the Sea of Japan in 1998. As configured, that missile cannot reach the United States. The longest-range missile North Korea has deployed is the 1,300-kilometer-range Nodong, according to a December 2001 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE).

North Korea imposed the missile testing moratorium after its 1998 tests raised tensions with Japan and the United States. Since then, the progress of its missile development program has remained uncertain. Then-CIA Director George Tenet told the Senate Intelligence Committee in February that North Korea’s “multiple-stage Taepo Dong-2—capable of reaching the United States with a nuclear-weapon-sized payload—may be ready for flight testing.” The 2001 NIE expressed this same judgment, adding that the Taepo Dong-2 could hit parts of the continental United States in a two-stage configuration and all of North America in a three-stage configuration. Neither of those missile configurations has been tested.

Israel, Iran Flex Missiles

Wade Boese

Israel and Iran spent the last weeks of the summer conducting missile tests and exchanging verbal volleys about their determination to match each other’s weapons capabilities.

On July 29, Israel, for the first time, successfully tested its Arrow-2 missile defense system against what was widely reported as a Scud ballistic missile. U.S. and Israeli officials would not officially confirm that the target was a Scud—a mainstay of the Soviet missile arsenal that has spread around the globe, including to Iran—but a Missile Defense Agency spokesperson implied as much, commenting Aug. 13 that the target was a “liquid-fueled short- to medium-range ballistic missile.”

The joint U.S.-Israeli test took place off California’s coast to provide a more realistic test scenario. Israel’s territory is too small and densely populated to fire the Arrow-2 against targets at ranges that would replicate a real attack.

The Arrow-2 system failed Aug. 26 to replicate its earlier success, missing an air-launched target off the coast of California. Although U.S. and Israeli officials said they did not know the cause of the failure, they reaffirmed their confidence in the system, which has been tested a total of 13 times but never used in combat. Israel has deployed two Arrow batteries and is seeking to deploy more of the interceptors.

Unlike U.S. missile interceptors that are designed to destroy enemy targets through collisions, the Arrow-2 carries a conventional explosive warhead. Israel Aircraft Industries, which works with U.S.-owned Boeing Corp. to build the Arrow-2 system, said the July 29 test marked “an important step in proving the system’s operational ability and its response to the existing and growing threat of ballistic missiles in our region.”

With Iraq and Libya currently out of the ballistic missile business, Syria and Iran were clearly the intended audiences. Iran was paying attention. Tehran announced Aug. 11 a successful test of its Shahab-3 ballistic missile, which is estimated to be capable of reaching Israel.

Speaking a few days earlier, Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani said Iran intended to match Israeli military advances with its own missile improvements. Iran declared the Shahab-3 ready for operations last year but is believed only to possess a handful of the estimated 1,300-kilometer-range missiles.

Iranian officials indicated that the August test sought to verify enhancements to the missile’s range and accuracy, but they were vague about whether the test was a flight or ground experiment. A U.S. official refused to comment on that aspect of the test.

The Department of State released an Aug. 11 statement warning that the United States has “serious concerns about Iran’s missile programs” and that it “will continue to take steps to address Iran’s missile efforts, and to work closely with other like-minded countries in doing so.”

In July, Congress approved $155 million in fiscal year 2005 for the Arrow system. Since 1988, the United States has funneled $1.2 billion to the program, the total cost of which is estimated to reach $2.2 billion by 2010.

The missile tests occurred against a backdrop of growing tension in the region surrounding Iran’s nuclear program, which Washington and Tel Aviv charge is intended for weapons purposes and Tehran defends as a civilian energy project.

Complementary or Competitive? Missile Controls vs. Missile Defense

Richard Speier

As cruise and ballistic missile technology has spread around the globe, two approaches to dealing with this proliferation have claimed the greatest adherents. One direction is the long-standing regime—it is now 17 years old—against the proliferation of missiles capable of delivering mass destruction weapons. This is the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), a policy to which 33 governments formally subscribe.

The other is missile defenses, a military program to defend against attacks by missiles that already have spread. Both offer benefits to U.S. policymakers but also have their limitations. Further, although they are in some ways complementary, they are also somewhat competitive.

The MTCR is a supplier regime, that is, it controls exports. It does not represent any kind of consensus among the have-nots that they will not obtain missiles. Yet, the MTCR takes advantage of a fact about missiles that makes them unusually controllable, and that is that missiles of whatever kind require a very large number of bits and pieces, and all of these have to work reliably the first time, under very difficult conditions. Especially for ballistic missiles, the temperatures, the vibrations, the pressure and de-pressurization, the need to keep missiles in storage in the field for long periods all make it very difficult to get these, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of components that need to work together in a missile to work reliably.

You do not need to block every bit and piece that goes into a missile in order to block or slow down the missile program. You just need to block enough of them, and that is what export controls can do. That is what the MTCR has done with some success over the years, especially when combined with active diplomacy, sanctions, and recently the Bush administration’s Proliferation Security Initiative for coordinating multinational interdiction efforts.

The MTCR as a policy has one major element, and that is to draw a very strong line between items that you can export on a case-by-case basis and items for which there is a strong presumption to deny export approvals. That strong line separates a lot of bits and pieces from entire systems—rocket systems or unmanned aerial vehicle systems—that are capable of delivering a 500-kilogram payload to a range of 300 kilometers. In designing the MTCR, we chose 500 kilograms as the weight limit because that is the weight of a relatively unsophisticated nuclear warhead. We settled on 300 kilometers as the range limit because that is the range of a nuclear-capable missile in a relatively compact theater.

We use these numbers in order to have a clear engineering definition to support this line between what you can make case-by-case judgments about and what is strongly presumed to be denied. The rocket systems that are over this line, over the MTCR threshold, are not just ballistic missiles. They are rockets of any kind that can deliver 500 kilograms to 300 kilometers, including space-launch vehicles and scientific sounding rockets, all of which can be adapted to deliver warheads. This was very difficult to get the seven nations, the United States and the rest of the Western economic summit nations, to accept when we negotiated this regime in the mid-1980s—-the idea that you put identical controls on military ballistic missiles and on civilian space-launch vehicles and scientific sounding rockets. Yet, it was absolutely necessary in order to have a strong, unambiguous line that would coordinate the actions of all of the governments.

The other items controlled are entire unmanned aerial vehicles. They might be called “cruise missiles,” “unmanned aerial vehicles,” “reconnaissance drones,” or “target drones,” but if they have the range and payload capability I described, they are subject to a strong presumption of export denial.

Now, there are good missiles and bad missiles in the world. Some defensive missiles are very good, and so we needed some way of defining what it was that the regime was going to target with its export controls. That line is the essence of the MTCR. To begin to fuzz that line is to begin to weaken our ability to control the spread of missiles.

Missile defense can be a complement to missile nonproliferation. In fact, many people from all parts of the political spectrum are coming to the point of view that missile defense and the MTCR may indeed be complementary. The president’s National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 23, issued last year, in fact said that missile defense and the MTCR are complementary.

Why are they complementary? Missile defense attempts to shoot at an offensive missile in its boost, midcourse, and re-entry phases, while missile nonproliferation attempts to shoot at a missile in its research, development, and production phases. They are all trying to stop the same thing. It is just that they are shooting at different points in the trajectory.

There are other ways in which the two complement each other. If missile defense is likely to work—and that has always been a question—but if it is likely to be effective, it makes it less attractive to get in the business of developing missiles in the first place, very much complementing the efforts of the MTCR to stop development. On the other hand, if the MTCR is effective in slowing down or stopping the proliferation of missiles, it reduces the stress that missile defense systems face. So, they really can complement each other.

The problem is that they can also compete with each other. True, most of the systems that are now in use or in major development fall short of the line that I have mentioned, the ability to deliver 500 kilograms to 300 kilometers: the Patriot; the Medium Extended Air Defense (MEAD) system, which is being developed by the U.S. and Europe; most of the versions of the Russian S-300 system; and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system.

Some of the missile defense systems now being developed, however, are over the clear line that I mentioned. For example, the Israeli Arrow system is over the line and, in fact, has been originally demonstrated as a target missile simulating an offensive missile to be intercepted by another Arrow. The U.S. sea-launch system, the SM-3, is slightly over the line. The Ground-Based Interceptors, the large missile defense rockets that are to be based in Alaska and the Vandenberg Air Force Base, are way over the line. The Kinetic Energy Interceptor, which is now in the design phase as a late-generation U.S. missile defense system, has even been described as a small ICBM.

In NSPD-23, the Bush administration stated that the United States should administer the MTCR so it does not impede missile defense cooperation. What does this mean? Does this mean we should begin to fuzz that line in order to spread missile defense interceptors? Because by doing so, we may be sharing very large rockets indeed. These large rockets can be used offensively. For example, the SA-2, a large Soviet air defense missile, was adapted as an offensive missile by India, China, Iran, Iraq, and Serbia. In fact, one of the plans that was discovered to be the next step in Iraq’s clandestine missile development program was to take the SA-2 engines, which were supposed to be limited to being used on missiles compliant with the UN resolutions, and to adapt them to missiles along the Indian design or bigger, to enable them to reach ranges of up to 500 kilometers.

The administration should think long and hard before tampering with the MTCR guidelines. They have worked well for nearly two decades, and once we obscure that clear line, it will not be easy to construct another one. We will be dependent on missile defense as a substitute for, rather than a complement to, missile nonproliferation.

Instead, we should focus on the many effective missile defense systems below the line that can be shared and should use U.S. and allied missile defenses to defend very large areas. For example, the Ground-Based Interceptor, from one site, could defend all of Europe. Indeed, many of the nations being defended need not have access to the rockets themselves. In fact, there is no reason for the United States even to give up control of those rockets. We can operate the defensive system and unify the control of it with our other missile defense systems. It is militarily attractive, and it is certainly attractive from the point of view of nonproliferation.

Currently a private consultant on nonproliferation and counter-proliferation issues, Richard Speier spent more than 20 years in government at the Office of Management and Budget, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. While in government, he helped negotiate the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). This article is adapted from a speech he delivered January 28, 2004, at the Paul C. Warnke Conference on the Past, Present, and Future of Arms Control, which was co-sponsored by the Arms Control Association.





U.S. Accuses Burma of Seeking Weapons Technology

Paul Kerr

U.S. officials are warning that another new concern may be emerging in the clandestine world of proliferation: Burma.

During a March 25 House International Relations Committee hearing, Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Daley testified that the United States has “reason to believe” North Korea has offered surface-to-surface missiles to Burma (called “Myanmar” by the current regime). Daley said Washington has expressed concerns to Rangoon about possible transfers and said the United States would deal with such activity “vigorously and rapidly.” There is no indication, however, that Burma’s attempts have yielded any significant progress and Burmese officials deny accepting such offers.

Responding to questioning from the committee’s chairman, Rep. James Leach (R-Iowa), Daley confirmed that North Korea has provided some military hardware to Burma, but was unable to provide details about what had actually been transferred.

Daley also said that “the Burmese remain interested in acquiring a nuclear research reactor, [but] we believe that news reports of construction activities are not well founded.” Burma’s Deputy Foreign Minister U Khin Maung Win acknowledged in January 2002 that Burma had received “a proposal” from Russia to build a nuclear research reactor. A Burmese embassy official told Arms Control Today April 22 that Burma continues to receive “assistance…from Russia to construct a nuclear research reactor and trainees have been sent to Russia.”

Concerns that Burma is attempting to acquire missile and nuclear technology have surfaced before. In a September 2003 Washington Post op-ed, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) called Burma’s attempts to acquire a nuclear reactor “troubling,” arguing that even a civilian reactor poses “an unnecessary proliferation risk” because terrorists could steal nuclear material from it.

Keith Luse, a senior aide to Lugar on the Foreign Relations Committee, also expressed concern about Rangoon’s possible weapons activities during an April 9 speech at the Heritage Foundation. Asserting that “special attention must be provided to the growing relationship between Burma and North Korea,” Luse argued that the charge that Pyongyang may have transferred both nuclear technology and Scud missiles to Rangoon requires further investigation.

But the Burmese embassy official denied Luse’s charges, saying “there is no truth in statements indicating Myanmar is acquiring assistance in nuclear technology” from North Korea and pointing out that Rangoon does not have diplomatic relations with Pyongyang.

According to a Feb. 13 statement from the Myanmar Information Committee web site, Rangoon “has no desire” to develop nuclear weapons, but “has the right to develop nuclear facilities for peaceful purposes.” In his 2002 statement, Win indicated that Burma is pursuing a nuclear research reactor to produce radioisotopes for medical purposes and to “train our young scientists and engineers.” Additionally, a Burmese Atomic Energy Department employee’s presentation to a 2003 conference in Japan states that “nuclear power introduction [is] desirable for [the] long term” and Rangoon “should consider small” 100-400 megawatt reactors, perhaps to be introduced around 2025.

As a party to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), Burma is prohibited from developing nuclear weapons, but is allowed to have civilian nuclear facilities. Daley told the House International Relations Committee in October that Washington wants to be “absolutely certain” that any Burmese nuclear facility “not be directly usable for nuclear weapons and that it would be subject to the full panoply of international atomic energy safeguards.” Burma has a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Such agreements allow the agency to ensure that parties to the NPT do not divert civilian nuclear programs for military purposes. Burma has also signed the Treaty of Bangkok, which established a nuclear-weapons free zone in Southeast Asia when it entered into force in 1997.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has not publicly expressed any concerns about Burma and nuclear or missile-related activities. A November CIA report to Congress regarding weapons proliferation does not mention Burma, and an agency spokesperson interviewed April 12 declined to comment on Daley’s testimony. The CIA report does mention North Korea’s exports of ballistic missiles and related components to other countries—a longstanding U.S. concern.





U.S. officials are warning that another new concern may be emerging in the clandestine world of proliferation: Burma...

Congressional Delegation Cancels Trip to North Korea at White House Request

A bipartisan congressional delegation led by Representative Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) postponed a late October trip to North Korea after the White House expressed opposition to the visit. “At the eleventh hour, the White House withdrew its support,” Weldon said in a statement. The congressman, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, described the delay as temporary and said a new date for the visit is forthcoming.

The postponement follows indications from the North Koreans that they might consider President George W. Bush’s proposal to provide a written guarantee that the United States will not attack North Korea as part of a multilateral agreement.

“Discussions continue between our delegation and North Korean officials,” Weldon stressed. “The members of the delegation still believe that a congressional visit will positively impact relations between our two nations. In that regard, the North Koreans continue to make overtures that our delegation will have access to the Yongbyon nuclear facility,” where the North Koreans say they have reprocessed spent fuel rods to use in their nuclear weapons program.

Representative Solomon P. Ortiz (D-Texas), a member of the delegation, told Arms Control Today he is “dumbfounded” by the administration’s stance. “We were going there because we think we can be supportive of the administration,” Ortiz said. Ortiz credits the delegation’s June 2003 visit with helping to bring the North Koreans to the six-party talks. (See ACT, July/August 2003.)

Former Negotiator Warns Bush: Last Chance for Diplomacy with North

One glance at the wall in Charles L. “Jack” Pritchard’s new office lined with magazine covers of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il makes clear that the veteran diplomat may have left the State Department, but his interest in striking a deal to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons remains undiminished.

Pritchard left his post as chief U.S. interlocutor with North Korea in late August. Since leaving the executive branch, this often lonely voice for more intensive diplomacy has prodded the Bush administration to engage Kim’s regime in arms control talks, a case he made in a 45-minute interview with Arms Control Today Oct. 28.

The United States wants North Korea to dismantle its recently-restarted plutonium-based nuclear facilities and suspected clandestine uranium enrichment program, both of which can produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. Two previous rounds of talks have not resulted in agreements.

Another round of six party talks is likely to occur, Pritchard said, but he warned that they might well be Washington’s final opportunity to shut down North Korea’s weapons programs. And he fretted that despite President George W. Bush’s recent statements that he will support a security agreement with North Korea, the administration has so far put “no substance on the table.”

“The North Koreans, if they believe that there’s nothing in it for them and we haven’t got our act together” will not return for a next round of talks, Pritchard said. A diplomatic breakdown, he warned, could lead to a sizeable North Korean nuclear arsenal. “This thing has the potential of getting well out of hand,” he said.

In particular, Pritchard said it was possible that North Korea would sell nuclear materials to terrorists or other rogue states if negotiations fail. He acknowledged that his assessment of the likelihood of that threat had changed in the last few years. Until “a couple of years ago,” Pritchard said, North Koreans were “trending away from what we would view as legitimate state sponsors of terrorism.”

Asked why the administration has not gone further in its diplomatic efforts, Pritchard said that “a wide range of views within the administration” has inhibited the administration’s ability to develop “a single, focused effort.”

To maximize the possibilities for a diplomatic breakthrough, Pritchard said the United States should concentrate on persuading North Korea to freeze its plutonium-based nuclear facilities, arguing that the less-developed uranium enrichment program is a much longer-term threat. Pyongyang’s current efforts to reprocess the spent fuel from previous operations of its reactor have “the potential” to yield enough material to give North Korea a total of between six and ten nuclear devices “in the very near future,” he said.

Obtaining such a freeze and addressing North Korea’s perceptions of a military threat from the United States “simultaneously and early will set the stage for the longer-term prospects that would include some form of economic developmental assistance” that could be coupled with a termination of the uranium enrichment program, he continued.

Commenting on preparations for a next round of talks, Pritchard expressed concern that the administration will agree to a date for a next round of talks before having a complete proposal. This approach will allow “those who are opposed to this level and direction” of diplomacy to “stall” the process. If that happens, “time will run out and then there will be a compromise and something less than sufficient will go forward.”

Pritchard stressed the need for a “sustained bilateral dialogue” between the United States and North Korea and recommended that the United States initiate a multilateral working-level meeting “ahead of the six-party talks to get most of the substantive work done.”

Speaking on how an agreement could be verified, an issue which “remains unresolved within the administration,” Pritchard cautioned that obtaining a completely verifiable deal from North Korea ought not become a stumbling block to a settlement. He characterized as “ridiculous” the notion held by some U.S. officials that an acceptable agreement must be “100 percent verifiable.”

Pritchard added that verifiably shutting down North Korea’s plutonium-based nuclear program in a manner acceptable to Pyongyang would be “relatively easy.” He admitted that verifying the elimination of the uranium enrichment program would “be a little bit trickier,” but said the United States should accept a deal if it “looks reasonable” because “if they cheat in the future, we will find out” through national intelligence sources.

He also warned against the alternatives to successful negotiations, arguing that increasing pressure on North Korea in hopes of overthrowing Kim Jong-Il’s regime would fail. Describing the North Korean government as “relatively stable,” Pritchard continued: “In the near term, is there anything on the horizon that suggests that regime change is imminent? No. Nothing. Zero.” He added that, based on accounts of recent visitors to North Korea, its economy “is inexplicably better off than it was a year ago…if you’re looking for things to implode because they’re getting worse, [they don’t] appear to be.”

Moreover, he said that key regional powers, particularly China, would be unlikely to support U.S. efforts to further pressure Pyongyang. “We’ve reached a peak” with Beijing in terms of its willingness to pressure North Korea “because of what the Chinese have perceived as a relatively poor showing by the [United States] in the April and August talks,” Pritchard said. The Chinese “fully expected that the [United States] would have a more mature and flexible approach in April. That was absolutely not the case.” At the time, in fact, he worried that the Chinese “might very well have walked away from their commitment to the six party talks” as a consequence.

Pritchard further cautioned that Washington should not use the talks merely as a means to gain support for a containment policy as opposed to reaching a genuine diplomatic resolution. “The other parties will not buy into it,” he warned.



One glance at the wall in Charles L. “Jack” Pritchard’s new office lined with magazine covers of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il makes clear that the veteran diplomat may...

Israel Allegedly Fielding Sea-Based Nuclear Missiles

Wade Boese

U.S. and Israeli officials have declined directly to address an October news report that Israel was arming U.S.-supplied cruise missiles with nuclear warheads. The news came amid increased international attention to nuclear weapons in the Middle East as the United States and European nations sought to halt Iran’s suspected pursuit of nuclear weapons.

The Los Angeles Times reported Oct. 12 that two senior Bush administration officials said Israel has modified U.S. Harpoon cruise missiles, which can be launched from submarines, to deliver nuclear warheads. The paper added that an Israeli official confirmed the American statements. All three spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., would not respond to the report. When contacted Oct. 20, he simply reiterated Israel’s long-standing position that it will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

Although Israel refuses to confirm or deny whether it possesses nuclear weapons, it is almost universally recognized as having built up an atomic arsenal. Typical estimates of the arsenal’s size range from weapons numbering in the high tens to a couple hundred. Israel fields medium-range ballistic missiles and U.S.-supplied fighter aircraft capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

Department of State spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters Oct. 14 that he would not look into the Harpoon allegation because “it’s not the kind of subject we readily share information on.” Although Washington routinely condemns countries hostile to the United States for seeking nuclear weapons, it stays mum on Israel’s arms.

The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which oversees U.S. military sales abroad, told Arms Control Today Oct. 23 that Israel’s contract for Harpoon missiles does not explicitly prohibit Israel from modifying them to carry nuclear warheads but added that “we have had no reason to believe that the government of Israel had any intention to modify or substitute the warheads of these missiles.”

More than 100 Harpoon missiles have been exported to Israel. The United States, according to DSCA, has also sold Harpoons to 25 other countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.

Robert Algarotti, a spokesman for Harpoon manufacturer Boeing, said Oct. 20 that the company has never studied whether the missile could be armed with a nuclear warhead.

However, a former top U.S. nuclear-weapon scientist and a leading U.S. missile expert interviewed each said the Harpoon could carry a nuclear warhead. They said the issue was whether Israel could build a warhead small enough for the missile, which has a relatively light payload capability of 220 kg and a short range of roughly 100 kilometers.

Israel’s receipt of two Dolphin-class diesel submarines from Germany in 1999 and a third in 2000 was widely perceived at the time as a move to acquire sea-based launching options for nuclear weapons. Past news reports further identified the Harpoon missile, which the United States transferred to Israel several years ago, as the potential delivery vehicle.

The United States is party to the 33-member Missile Technology Control Regime aimed at restricting exports of missiles capable of delivering nuclear, chemical, or biological warheads. Although the regime does not ban such transfers, there is a “strong presumption to deny” them. Washington is further committed in the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty “not in any way to assist, encourage, or induce” nuclear proliferation.

The United States also endorses the concept of a Middle East without weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. Yet it does not press Israel on the subject, saying such an arrangement must be “freely arrived at” by all the countries in the region.



U.S. and Israeli officials have declined directly to address an October news report that Israel was arming U.S.-supplied cruise missiles with nuclear warheads.


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