"Though we have acheived progress, our work is not over. That is why I support the mission of the Arms Control Association. It is, quite simply, the most effective and important organization working in the field today." 

– Larry Weiler
Former U.S.-Russian arms control negotiator
August 7, 2018
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U.S. Circulates Draft UN Resolution to Prevent Proliferation

The United States is circulating a draft UN Security Council resolution that calls on UN member states to take domestic legal steps to prevent proliferation, particularly the acquisition of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons by terrorists. The resolution implements a call made by President George W. Bush in a speech to the UN General Assembly in September. (See ACT, October 2003.)

Expressing grave concern that “non-state actors are seeking to acquire, traffic in, or use nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons,” the draft resolution urges states to impose tighter export controls, stronger legislation, and better border security. It also calls for states to cut off support to any terrorist group involved with weapons of mass destruction. Additionally, it asks UN members to help implement efforts such as the Bush administration’s Proliferation Security Initiative, which seeks to interdict shipments of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons.

The resolution, however, does not include any measures to require enforcement of its provisions. U.S. officials say little progress has been made in advancing the resolution since it was first circulated in December.

Putin Says Russian Export Controls Must be Improved

Speaking Dec. 3 to Russia’s top security officials, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is among the highest security priorities for Russia but that Moscow’s current approach to the problem needs to be reformed and strengthened.

Although Putin declared that Russia is “consistently fulfilling its international obligations in the field of nonproliferation,” he also contended that in Russia there is no “unity in understanding the very term ‘nonproliferation.’” He complained that a shortage of nonproliferation specialists exists and that, when it comes to certain areas, such as export controls, there is “no right to speak of a coherent system.”

Putin further declared that there needed to be an “in-depth and systemic analysis of all our state activities with respect to nonproliferation” and “more efficient coordination of the activities of bodies of power in this field.”

In a November 2003 unclassified report on global proliferation during the first half of last year, the CIA identified Russia as a key source of dual-use goods and technical knowledge for proliferators. The report stated that Russian entities “continued to be eager to raise funds via exports and transfers.” Of ongoing concern to Washington is Russia’s continued involvement in Iran’s nuclear reactor project at Bushehr, which does have the Kremlin’s official blessing.

Tensions Between India and Pakistan Ease

Relations on the subcontinent appeared to thaw some in December, with Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf suggesting early in the month that he would order Pakistani troops away from the line of control separating the disputed province of Kashmir if India were to do the same. Hopes were high at month’s end that Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee might meet on the sidelines of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit in Islamabad during the first week of 2004. The offers came as two assassination attempts were made on Musharraf within 11 days. Pakistani authorities detained three men in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir in connection with the second attempt, which occurred on Christmas Day.

Arms Experts Rap Congress for Backing Bush Administration's Nuclear Weapons Ambitions



A "Setback" for Addressing Global Nuclear Dangers

For Immediate Release: November 7, 2003

Press Contacts: Daryl Kimball, Executive Director, (202) 463-8270 x107;
Christine Kucia, Research Analyst, (202) 463-8270 x103

(Washington, D.C.): A congressional decision announced today to allow the Bush administration to further explore new nuclear weapons is a “serious error that will be a setback to U.S. efforts to persuade and prevent other nations from developing nuclear weapons,” according to the Arms Control Association, a nonpartisan membership organization dedicated to promoting effective arms control policies.

As part of their consideration of the fiscal year 2004 defense authorization bill, House and Senate legislators complied with a White House request to repeal a 10-year-old ban on research leading to development of new nuclear weapons with yields of less than five kilotons, so-called “low-yield” weapons. They also approved Bush administration proposals to continue researching new types of nuclear “bunker busters” to destroy targets deep underground and shorten the time required to prepare for a full-scale nuclear test from 24 months to 18 months.

“Congress and the Bush administration have made a mistake by opening the door to a new wave of global nuclear weapons competition. The diplomatic and security costs of the Bush administration’s proposals to explore new nuclear weapons far outweigh any marginal benefits such arms might yield,” said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

“This sends a dangerous message that will hamper U.S. efforts to prevent other nations from developing nuclear weapons,” he warned.

Lawmakers have signaled that they also harbor some unease with the administration’s plans to reinvigorate U.S. nuclear weapons research and test preparations. While supporting research into new low-yields weapons, legislators withheld authorization to actually engineer, develop, and test new or modified nuclear bombs. And earlier this week, congressional appropriators cut proposed 2004 funding for studying bunker busters in half-from $15 million to just $7.5 million-and barred the Department of Energy from spending $4 million of an approved $6 million for new weapon concepts until it submits a report on U.S. nuclear stockpile requirements.

This congressional skepticism may help head off future, more dangerous Bush administration nuclear arm proposals, Kimball noted. “Further efforts by this or another administration to win necessary congressional approval for engineering, development, and testing of new or modified nuclear weapons will be vigorously opposed and must be defeated,” he said.

Expert scientists have contradicted the arguments made by proponents of “low-yield” nuclear weapons, saying that new and “smaller” nuclear warheads are dirty, dangerous, and unnecessary. Dr. Sidney Drell, a Stanford University physicist and longtime advisor to the U.S. nuclear program, wrote in Arms Control Today in March, “Even a lower-yield, one-kiloton nuclear warhead (1/13 the size of the Hiroshima bomb) detonated at a depth of 20-50 feet would eject more than one million cubic feet of radioactive debris, forming a crater about the size of ground zero at the World Trade Center.” Drell added, “The result would be a highly contaminated zone and atmospheric fallout that would endanger civilians, as well as military personnel who might be ordered into the area.”

The perceived “usability”of such weapons is a dangerous notion, Kimball argued. “Nuclear weapons should not be considered just another weapon in our arsenal. They are mass terror weapons whether used by the United States or another country,” he stressed.

# # #

The Arms Control Association is an independent, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to promoting public understanding of and support for effective arms control policies to address security threats posed by nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, as well as conventional arms.

Media Advisory

U.S. Reviewing FMCT Policy

The United States has long pushed for a treaty to end the production of the two key building blocks of nuclear weapons, but the Bush administration may change that policy.

Even as the U.S. commitment to other arms control agreements has lagged in recent years, U.S. officials have continued to champion a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT), which would prohibit the production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU) for nuclear weapons purposes. Yet, J. Sherwood McGinnis, deputy representative of the U.S. delegation to the Conference on Disarmament (CD), said Oct. 27 that Washington is “reviewing specific elements” of its policy toward such a treaty. Speaking at the United Nations, McGinnis further added that U.S. support for a resolution that day urging the start of FMCT negotiations by the 66-member CD “is without prejudice to the outcome of that review.” The diplomatic language means that Washington is reserving the right to change its position, although it does not suggest that the United States will necessarily do so.

McGinnis provided no details about the review. Department of State officials in Washington withheld any comment pending the review’s conclusion.

An FMCT has topped Washington’s negotiating priorities at the CD for a half-dozen years, but formal talks had been blocked by other countries’ insistence that the treaty be negotiated in parallel with other agreements on nuclear disarmament or outer space. In August, however, China dropped its demand or U.S.-opposed outer space negotiations, removing what had been seen as the central obstacle to opening talks. (See ACT, October 2003.)

Completion of an FMCT by 2005 was one of 13 steps to which nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty states-parties, including the United States, committed themselves in May 2000. Yet, since taking office, the Bush administration has acted contrary to several of those steps, such as refusing to support the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty’s entry into force and withdrawing from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which barred Moscow and Washington from building nationwide defenses against strategic ballistic missiles.

The United States, as well as France, Russia, and the United Kingdom, have declared that they no longer produce fissile materials for weapons purposes. China is also understood to have stopped. In addition to codifying these actions, an FMCT would be aimed at blocking India, Israel, and Pakistan from any future production of plutonium or HEU for weapons.

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...

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.

India, Pakistan Conduct Missile Tests

On October 4, Pakistan tested its Hatf-4 (Shaheen-1) surface-to-surface missile, which can carry a 500-kilogram payload 750 kilometers, followed by a second Haft-4 test October 8. The last time Pakistan tested a ballistic missile was in May 2002, when it tested three nuclear-capable missiles. (See ACT, June 2002.)

Hours after the October 4 test, India tested an Akash surface-to-air missile with a range of 25 kilometers. Indian Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha said that India would not respond to Pakistan’s second test, Agence France Presse reported October 8.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said October 4 that Washington was “disappointed” by both countries’ tests because they could contribute to a “destabilizing nuclear and missile arms race.”

India and Pakistan each accused the other of having strategic and political motivations while claiming that its own tests were driven by other considerations. Pakistan said it conducted its tests for technical reasons, a Foreign Office spokesman said in an October 7 press conference, while Pakistani Information Minister Nisar Memon accused India of engaging in an arms race, according to Agence France Presse October 4.

Indian Defense Ministry spokesman P. K. Bandhopadhyay stated that India was testing “different parameters of the missile,” the Associated Press reported October 4. Another government spokesperson dismissed Pakistan’s tests as politically motivated, saying they were “targeted at the forthcoming general elections” in an October 4 statement.

India held elections in its portion of Kashmir—a territory India and Pakistan have repeatedly fought over—in September and October to elect a new regional state assembly. Pakistan held national parliamentary elections October 10 for the first time since President Pervez Musharraf took power three years ago.

In a potentially positive sign for the region, India announced October 16 that it would withdraw some troops from the international border with Pakistan, and Pakistan followed with a similar announcement the next day. Neither country, however, announced plans to reduce the number of forces stationed along the Line of Control that divides Kashmir between the two countries.

MTCR Closes Some Loopholes

Members of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) took a step to strengthen their ability to curb cruise missile proliferation during a September 24-27 plenary meeting in Warsaw.

The MTCR is an informal export control arrangement among 33 countries that is designed to stem the spread of ballistic and cruise missiles capable of delivering a 500-kilogram payload to a range of 300 kilometers or more. The MTCR, however, did not previously define the terms “range” and “payload” or specify methods for calculating them. This omission has made it unclear whether certain missile systems are covered by the regime.

At the plenary meeting, the member states agreed to add definitions of “range” and “payload,” as well as methods for their calculation, to the MTCR’s Annex, according to a State Department official interviewed October 22. Consisting of two parts, the MTCR includes “Guidelines,” which establish a common export control policy, and an “Annex,” which lists missile-related items that each country is expected to control through its own national legislation.

Cruise missiles have been a particularly complicated issue because of the relative ease with which their range and payload can be modified—a characteristic that makes it difficult to determine the missiles’ maximum capabilities. By calculating ranges at suboptimal altitudes, some members have argued that certain cruise missiles meet the MTCR’s guidelines for export, although if flown at optimal altitudes the missiles would not meet these guidelines, Richard Speier, a former Department of Defense official, said in an October 24 interview.

The new method for calculating the range for cruise missiles reads: “for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) systems [a category that includes cruise missiles], the range will be determined…using the most fuel-efficient flight profile (e.g. cruise speed and altitude).” According to Speier, the decision to include this language “closed some very important loopholes.”

Cruise missiles have increasingly become a proliferation concern for the United States. A July 3 Congressional Research Service report says that “U.S. and allied forces currently face a threat from short-range, conventionally armed, anti-ship cruise missiles in the hands of a few nations” and warns that efforts to control both the vertical and horizontal proliferation of these missiles might become more difficult as the technology matures.

G-8 Partnership Needs More Funding

U.S. partners have formally pledged about half of the money they promised earlier this year to fund nonproliferation and disarmament projects in Russia, Undersecretary of State John Bolton testified to Congress October 9. Bolton added that legal and logistical obstacles in Russia are hindering negotiations to secure more funding.

At their meeting in June, the Group of Eight (G-8) countries created the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction—an initiative informally known as “10 plus 10 over 10”—which is intended to provide Russia with $10 billion in threat reduction funding from the United States, matched by $10 billion from G-8 and other countries, over the next 10 years. (See ACT, July/August 2002.)

Bolton reported to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that several large contributors have announced funding, including Germany ($1.5 billion), the European Commission ($1 billion), the United Kingdom ($750 million), and Canada ($650 million). Not all pledges that have been made have been publicly announced yet. Bolton added that countries outside of the G-8 might also choose to join the program.

Some countries have been reluctant to provide funds because previous projects have suffered from “poor coordination within the Russian government and among federal, regional, and local entities,” Bolton said.

In addition, he criticized Russia for assisting nuclear and missile programs in Iran and other countries. “Concerns about Russia’s performance on its arms control and nonproliferation commitments have already adversely affected important bilateral efforts and, unless resolved, could pose a threat to new initiatives, including the Global Partnership,” he said. Bolton urged the Russian government to take action to resolve these concerns.

G-8 senior officials are expected to meet later this year to continue discussions on threat reduction efforts.


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