"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
December 2008
Edition Date: 
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Cover Image: 

December 2008 Bibliography

Of Special Interest

Bolton, John R., "Obama and Missile Defense," The Wall Street Journal, November 13, 2008.

Bunn, Matthew, Securing the Bomb 2008, Project on Managing the Atom, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, November 2008, 183 pp.

Defense Science Board (DSB), Defense Imperatives for the New Administration, 64 pp.

Fitzpatrick, Mark, "Supplying Nuclear Power to the Middle East-With a Safety Switch," The National, (United Arab Emirates), November 21, 2008.

National Audit Office (UK), Ministry of Defense: The United Kingdom's Future Nuclear Deterrent Capability, November 3, 2008, 34 pp.

Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, Nuclear Disarmament: What to Do With a Vision of Zero, November 13, 2008.

Tucker, Jonathan B, Trafficking Networks for Chemical Weapons Precursors: Lessons from the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies Occasional Paper No. 13, November 2008, 43 pp.

I. Strategic Arms

Blaker, James R., Avoiding Another Cold War: The Case for Collaboration with China, American Security Project Perspectives, November 2008, 12 pp.

Evans, Robert, "U.S., Russia to Meet in Geneva on Ageing Arms Pact," Reuters, November 12, 2008.

Grossman, Elaine M., "Bush Administration Seeks to Leave Strategic Arms Treaty Option Open for Obama," Global Security Newswire, November 20, 2008.

Hoffman, Michael, "341st Missile Wing Fails Nuke Inspection," The Air Force Times, November 14, 2008.

Kramnik, Ilya, "Outside View: Russia Boosts Nuclear Punch," United Press International, November 4, 2008.

Maack, Benjamin, "The Cold War's Missing Atom Bombs," Der Spiegel, November 14, 2008.

Myers, Steven Lee, "Russian Hopes Obama's Win Will Warm Relations," The New York Times, November 16, 2008, p. A13.

RIA Novosti, "Russia, U.S. May Sign New START Treaty in Mid-2009," November 6, 2008.

Rogin, Josh, "Democrats Cool to Nuclear Stockpile Modernization," Congressional Quarterly, October 30, 2008.

Thomsen, Vibeke Brask, France: Disarming or Upgrading?, ISIS European Security Review Number 41, November 2008, 7 pp.

United States Air Force, HQ-Level Office Created for Nuclear Mission, Press Release, November 3, 2008.

II. Nuclear Proliferation

Finn, Peter and Pincus, Walter, "Report Sees Nuclear Arms, Scarce Resources as Seeds of Global Instability," The Washington Post, November 21, 2008.


Sen, Ashish Kumar, "CTBT Could Be Thorn in US-India Ties," The Tribune (India), November 7, 2008


Albright, David and Brannan, Paul, Arak Heavy Water Reactor Construction Progressing, Institute for Science and International Security, November 13, 2008, 3 pp.

Associated Press, "Iran Says it Now Runs More Than 5,000 Centrifuges," November 26, 2008.

Blitz, James, "Britain and France Step Up Pressure on Iran," Financial Times, November 24, 2008.

Bozorgmehr, Najmeh, "Iran's Banks Struggle with Credit Shortages," Financial Times, November 4, 2008.

Broad, William J., and Sanger, David, "Iran Said to Have Nuclear Fuel for One Weapon," The New York Times, November 20, 2008, p. A12.

Cordesman, Anthony, Iran's Nuclear Weapons Programs: Work in Progress, Center for Strategic and International Studies, November 6, 2008, 69 pp.

Fathi, Nazila, "In Rare Turn, Iran's Leader Sends Letter to Obama," The New York Times, November 7, 2008, p. A6.

Ganjia, Akbar, "The Latter-Day Sultan," Foreign Affairs, November/December 2008, 7 pp.

Giacomo, Carol, "New Beltway Debate: What to Do About Iran," The New York Times, November 3, 2008, p. A30.

Heller, Jeffrey, "Olmert Says No U.S. Pressure on Israel Over Iran," Reuters, November 28, 2008.

Hosenball, Mark, and Isikoff, Michael, "Opening a Door in Tehran?," Newsweek, November 6, 2008.

International Atomic Energy Agency, Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and Relevant Provision of Security Council Resolutions 1737 (2006), 1747 (2007), 1803 (2008) and 1835 (2008) in the Islamic Republic of Iran, GOV/2008/59, November 19, 2008, 4 pp.

Investor's Business Daily, "The Fat Lady Hums," November 20, 2008.

Karimi, Nasser, "Iran Proposes Nuclear Plants With Arab Countries," Associated Press, November 30, 2008.

Khalil, Ashraf, and Richter, Paul, "Some Israelis Feel an Urgency to Attack Iran," Los Angeles Times, November 2, 2008.

Kittrie, Orde F., "How To Put the Squeeze on Iran," The Wall Street Journal, November 13, 2008.

Lawder, David, "U.S. Treasury Tightens Banking Sanctions on Iran," Reuters, November 6, 2008.

LaFranchi, Howard, "Iran: Will Talks Happen Under Obama?," The Christian Science Monitor, November 21, 2008.

McGirk, Tim, "US Puts Pressure on Israel to Refrain from Attacks," TIME, November 24, 2008.

Reuters, "Israel Cautions Against Obama Dialogue with Iran," November 6, 2008.

Reuters, "Miliband Urges Gulf to Pressure Iran in Nuclear Standoff," November 23, 2008.

Reuters, "Iran Reports Rocket Launch Amid Nuclear Tensions," November 26, 2008.

Taghavi, Roshanak, "Iran Strives to Expand Oil Refineries," The Wall Street Journal, November 1, 2008.

The Washington Times,
"To Contain and Deter Iran," November 13, 2008.

Wright, Robin, "Stuart Levey's War," The New York Times, November 2, 2008, p. MM29.


Agence France-Presse, "Israel Urges US Not to Rule Out Military Option in Iran," November 7, 2008.

Harel, Amos, "MI Chief: Dialogue Can Halt Iranian Nukes," Haaretz, November 19, 23008.

Horovitz, David, "Gilad: We Won't Let Iran Go Nuclear," The Jerusalem Post, November 20, 2008.

Jerusalem Post, "Livni Urges Obama Not to Talk to Iran," November 6, 2008.

Jerusalem Post, "Israeli Air Force Chief: We Are Ready to Deal with Iran," November 19, 2008.

Melman, Yossi, "U.S. Study Urges Obama to Press Israel Over Nuclear Program," Haaretz, November 16, 2008.

North Korea

Agence France-Presse, "US Asks Australia, NZealand, EU for N Korea Energy Aid: Seoul," November 1, 2008.

Agence France-Presse, "SKorea to Press for Sampling at NKorea Nuke Plants," November 13, 2008.

Agence France-Presse, "US Expects NKorea to Formally Agree to Sampling in Beijing," November 24, 2008.

Associated Press, "US Official Meets North Korean Delegation," November 7, 2008.

BBC News, "N Korea Rejects Nuclear Sampling," November 12, 2008.

Bolton, John, "One Korea," The National Interest, November/December 2008, p. 25-28.

Chang, Jae-Soon, "N. Korea Ready to Deal With Obama Administration," Associated Press, November 7, 2008. 

The Economist, "Going, Going, Going Again," November 20, 2008.

Herskovitz, Jon, "Peeks at Ailing Kim Reveal Black Hole on North Korea," Reuters, November 6, 2008.

Kim, Hyung-Jin, "NKorea Says Kim Jong Il Visits 2 Army Units," Associated Press, November 4, 2008.

Ramberg, Bennett, "A Smarter North Korea Policy," The Christian Science Monitor, November 7, 2008.

Reuters, "South Korea Likely to Provide Nuclear Deal Aid to North Korea," November 16, 2008.

Solomon, Jay, Pokharel, Krishna, and Wonacott, Peter, "North Korea Plane Was Grounded at U.S. Request," The Wall Street Journal, November 1, 2008.

United Press International, "Group to Propose North Korea Plan," November 1, 2008.


Associated Press, "Leader: Pakistan Won't Be First in Nuclear Strike," November 23, 2008.


Aji, Albert, "Syria Blames Israeli Bombs for Uranium Traces," Associated Press, November 12, 2008.

Heinrich, Mark, "IAEA Finds Uranium Traces at Syrian Site: Diplomats," Reuters, November 10, 2008.

Heinrich, Mark, "U.S. Says IAEA Hardens Fear of Covert Syria Atom Site," Reuters, November 21, 2008.

Jahn, George, "Diplomats: US, IAEA Chief Clash Over Syria," Associated Press, November 24, 2008.

International Atomic Energy Agency, Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Syrian Arab Republic, GOV/2008/60, November 19, 2008, 4 pp.

Jahn, George, "Syria All But Rules Out More UN Nuclear Inspection," Associated Press, November 21, 2008.

III. Nonproliferation

The Economist, "When Nuclear Sheriffs Quarrel," October 30, 2008.

The Economist, "What to Do With a Vision of Zero," November 13, 2008.

Evers, Läslo, "Measuring 'Inaudible' Sounds to Detect Illegal Nuclear Tests, And Analyze Atmosphere," ScienceDaily, November 5, 2008.

Landau, Emily B., "To Paris and Back: WMD Free Zone in the Middle East?" WMD Insights, November 2008.

IV. Missiles and Missile Defense

Agence France-Presse, "US Offers Russia Fresh Proposals on US Missile Defense Plan," November 6, 2008.

Agence France-Presse, "Russian President Sees Obama Flexible on Missile Defense," November 23, 2008.

Associated Press, "Poland: Obama Made No Promise on Missile Defense," November 9, 2008.

Barry, Ellen, and Kishkovsky, Sophia, "Russia Warns of Missile Deployment," The New York Times, November 6, 2008, p. A6.

BBC News, "Russia to Move Missiles to Baltic," November 5, 2008.

Castle, Stephen, "Russia Backs Off on Europe Missile Threat," The New York Times, November 14, 2008.

Grossman, Elaine M., "Congress Chides U.S. Missile Defense Management," Global Security Newswire, November 3, 2008.

Gelfand, Lauren, and Ben-David, Alon, "New Missile Marks 'Significant Leap' For Iran Capabilities," Jane's Defense Weekly, November 14, 2008.

ITAR-TASS, "Russia Calls for Physical Guarantees for Non-Deployment of ABM System in Europe," November 18, 2008.

Katz, Yaakov, "Russia Tells Syria: No Missile Sales for Now," The Jerusalem Post, November 21, 2008.

Lappin, Yaakov, "Israel, Germany Develop Nuclear Warning System," The Jerusalem Post, November 17, 2008.

Lukyanov, Fyodor, "The Real Issue Isn't a Shield in Central Europe," The Moscow Times, November 19, 2008.

Reuters, "Poland Expects Obama to Proceed with Missile Shield," November 5, 2008.

Solovyov, Dmitry, "Russia Sees Hope of Missile Progress with Obama," Reuters, November 9, 2008.

Thompson, Mark, "Why Obama Will Continue Star Wars," TIME, November 16, 2008.

The Times of India, "India Successfully Test Fires Shaurya Missile," November 13, 2008.

Martin Sieff, "Japan Eyes Own Early Warning Satellite," United Press International, November 5, 2008.

V. Chemical and Biological Arms

Black, Ian, "The Legacy of Chemical Warfare," The Guardian, November 26, 2008.

Schneidmiller, Chris, "U.S. Boosts Funding for Last Two CW Disposal Sites," Global Security Newswire, November 6, 2008.

Sutherland, Ronald G., Chemical and Biochemical Non-Lethal Weapons: Political and Technical Aspects, SIPRI Policy Paper 23, November 2008, 40 pp.

VI. Conventional Arms

The China Post, "Big Users of Cluster Bombs Stall on Treaty," November 9, 2008.

Heilprin, John, "UN Members Give Go-Ahead on Proposal to Curb Arms," Associated Press, November 1, 2008.

Lyons, Alistair, "Israel's Lebanon War Showcased Cluster Bomb Horrors," Reuters, November 27, 2008.

RIA Novosti, "Conventional Forces Treaty a Year After Russia's Moratorium," November 18, 2008.

Reuters, "China Urges U.S. to be Careful on Taiwan," November 6, 2008.

Schwirtz, Michael, "Georgia Fired More Cluster Bombs Than Thought, Killing Civilians, Report Finds," The New York Times, November 6, 2008, p. A18.

The World Tribune, "Saudis Are Top Arms Buyer in Developing Worlds," November 4, 2008.

VII. U.S. Policy

Bennett, John T., "Shortlist Sketched for DoD Team," DefenseNews, November 10, 2008.

The Boston Globe, "Gate's Nuclear Brief," November 3, 2008.

Cornwell, Susan, "Election Breathes New Life Into Nuclear Debate," Reuters, November 3, 2008.

United States Government Accountability Office, U.S. Agencies Have Taken Some Steps, but More Effort Is Needed to Strengthen and Expand the Proliferation Security Initiative, Report to Congressional Committees, November 2008.

Grossman, Elaine M, "Strategic Arms Funds Tilt Conventional in 2009," Global Security Newswire, November 7, 2008.

Grossman, Elaine, "Senior U.S. Official Doubts Conventional Global Strike Value," Global Security Newswire, November 26, 2008.

Shanker, Thom, and Drew, Christopher, "Pentagon Expects Cuts in Military Spending," The New York Times, November 3, 2008, p. A12.

Ullman, Harlan, "Defense Spending: Don't Shortchange the Pentagon," The Washington Times, November 26, 2008.

VIII. Space

Brown, Peter, "China Fears India-Japan Space Alliance," The Asia Times, November 12, 2008.

Cameron, Rob, "'I Will Not Weaponize Space' - Will Obama's Words Return to Haunt Him?," Radio Praha (Czech Republic), November 5, 2008.

Kaufman, Richard, Hertzfeld, Henry, and Lewis, Jeffrey, Space, Security and the Economy, Economists for Peace and Security, September 2008, 36 pp.

Khan, Urmee, "EU Developing 'Militarized' Space Policy Which Could Trigger 'Arms Race'," The Telegraph, November 21, 2008.

Lee, John, "Why China Wants to Win," International Herald Tribune, November 12, 2008.

Zaitsev, Yury, "The Historic Beginnings of the Space Arms Race," RIA Novosti, November 3, 2008.

IX. Other

Agence France-Presse, "Russia, Libya Sign Civil Nuclear Deal as Kadhafi Visits: Tripoli," November 1, 2008.

Chivers, C.J., and Barry, Ellen, "Georgia Claims on Russia War Called Into Question," The New York Times, November 7, 2008, p. A1.

Goncalves, Odair Dias, "Brazil: Why Go Nuclear?" The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November 21, 2008.

Hibbs, Mark, "No New Sino-Pakistan Agreement for Export of Chinese PWRs," Nucleonics Week, November 6, 2008.

Hibbs, Mark, "Size of Grid, Load Profile, Could Keep Oman From Building Nuclear Plants," Nucleonics Week, Nov. 13, 2008, p. 14.

The Hindustan Times, "India, Russia Set to Sign Nuclear Accord Next Month," November 17, 2008.

Hoffman, David E., "Report on Nuclear Security Urges Prompt Global Action," The Washington Post, November 18, 2008, p. A25.

The New York Times, "Gone Missing," November 2, 2008, p. WK9.

Rubin, Barnett R., and Rashid, Ahmed, "From Great Game to Grand Bargain," Foreign Affairs, November/December 2008, 5 pp.

Sestanovich, Stephen, "What Has Moscow Done?," Foreign Affairs, November/December 2008, 5 pp.

Shull, Aaron, The Global Nuclear Security and Security Regimes, The Centre for International Governance Innovation, Nuclear Energy Futures Paper No. 2, November 2008.

World Nuclear News, "China and Kazakhstan Sign Cooperation Agreements," November 4, 2008.

Letters to the Editor

Transparency Is Key to Avoiding Space Conflict

Brian Weeden's review ("Space Weaponization: Aye or Nay?" November 2008) succinctly analyzes the space weaponization debate. A central step to ensuring that space is used for the "peaceful benefit of all states," however, is to institutionalize cooperation in space. This, in turn, rests on the concept of transparency.

To bolster mutual confidence and decrease the likelihood of confrontation in space, states must develop institutions, rules, and procedures for transparency. "Transparency" describes a condition of openness through which states signal their intentions and capabilities by obtaining or exchanging information on items or activities of interest to all parties involved. States increase their confidence about whether an activity is occurring and receive early warning of suspicious behavior.

In practice, transparency builds from broader exchanges between political leaders as well as military-to-military contacts on defense spending, doctrine, plans and operations, and decision-making processes, among others.

In its most intrusive form, transparency involves full accounting of all declared activities, often through agreements. To encourage states to engage in reciprocal and observable activities that signal their commitment to behaviors that avoid miscalculation and war, we need mutually understood declaratory policies and doctrines-basic "rules of the road."

Transparency requires states to exchange sensitive information and share perceptions about risks and threats. As the superpowers realized during the Cold War that they could inflict extraordinary harm on each other with nuclear weapons, Moscow and Washington gradually learned that transparency improves security and thus developed standard operating procedures to avert confrontation and escalation.

Similarly, we need transparency because inadequate knowledge about intentions and actions in space increases fear and insecurity. Space-faring states should pursue policy initiatives to help them understand what others are doing and what those actions mean.

One step is to acknowledge that the absence of transparency in space is a serious problem. All future summit meetings between national leaders of space-faring states should discuss transparency in space. Bilateral and multilateral discussions provide opportunities to help policymakers discuss what space transparency means, why opacity is dangerous, and why conflict in space would be dangerous and unacceptably costly. Civilian and military officials need regular dialogues if they are to foster realistic expectations about each another and to develop policies for using space peacefully to enhance economic prosperity and technological progress.

Finally, states should discuss transparency within regional frameworks. High-level ministerial meetings could include China, the European Union, Japan, Russia, and the United States, plus such aspiring space powers as India, Iran, Malaysia, and South Korea. Regional discussions could address military-to-military deliberations and scientific exchanges while encouraging unofficial but candid dialogues among states on shared interests and concerns.

Such discussions will help space-faring states develop channels of communication that could prove helpful during a crisis. More importantly, such measures could lead to an informal or formal framework on space rules of conduct.

There is rightly skepticism whether "talk shops" will mitigate competition in space when the gulf in capabilities is so great. Consider the United States. With its tremendous technological lead and overwhelming dependence on satellites for military, intelligence, and commercial activities, states might doubt Washington's commitment to such discussions because it has the most to lose in any efforts to improve transparency. The problem was expressed by one military official, saying "We don't want to tell the world what our capabilities and limitations are, because that would help the enemy."

Mutual suspicion exacerbates misperceptions and compels states to make worst-case assumptions about others. It is vastly preferable for space-faring states to formulate their assessments in the open rather than wandering aimlessly in the dark.

Transparency for space depends on three interrelated questions.

First, can states build cooperation in space without transparency? What levels of knowledge of each other's capabilities do states need to develop cooperation?

Second, can true cooperation in space exist among states with widely unequal capabilities? Will states relinquish a commanding lead in space, and will more-capable states sacrifice more than they gain?

Finally, do disagreements between states-the United States and Iran, or between China and Russia and the United States-pose fundamental impediments to transparency in space? Can states cooperate in space despite other disagreements and tensions?

Despite these daunting policy challenges, optimism is in order because states have bridged deeply held differences before and can do so again with space. 

William C. Martel, associate professor of international security studies at The Fletcher School at Tufts University, is author of Victory in War: Foundations of Modern Military Policy (2007). 

Only the United States Can Lead the Way on Nuclear Disarmament

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates delivered a speech to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Oct. 28 ("Bush Administration Sets Russian Arms Talks," November 2008) in which he addressed the future of nuclear weapons in the 21st century. The succinct argument he offers for maintaining an arsenal of nuclear weapons is based on two pillars, deterrence and assurance-an unstable foundation.

Gates said he worries about the "credibility" of our nuclear arsenal, based on the "safety, security, and reliability of our weapons." He makes a common inversion in placing greater concern on the safety and security of the weapons than that of the people they are intended to protect. In fact, nuclear weapons cannot provide security to their possessors; they can only be used to threaten or massively destroy an opponent. It also seems unlikely that a potential adversary of the United States would believe it could attack the United States with impunity because it calculated that the U.S. arsenal was something less than 100 percent reliable.

In the end, Gates believes the United States must rely on a "credible deterrent," as opposed to providing leadership to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons. "To be blunt," he says, "there is absolutely no way we can maintain a credible deterrent and reduce the number of weapons in our stockpile without either resorting to testing our stockpile or pursuing a modernization program." He seeks a modernization program that would include the revitalization of the U.S. nuclear weapons infrastructure and the development of a new nuclear warhead, the Reliable Replacement Warhead, which Congress has turned down on several occasions. To follow the Gates plan would be to send a message to the rest of the world that the United States, although the world's most powerful state, finds nuclear weapons useful and will rely on them for the foreseeable future. Rather than contributing to U.S. security, this is a formula for promoting nuclear proliferation, which in the end will be harmful to U.S. and global security.

Secretary Gates summarizes his position in this way: "Try as we might, and hope as we will, the power of nuclear weapons and their strategic impact is a genie that cannot be put back in the bottle-at least for a very long time. While we have a long-term goal of abolishing nuclear weapons once and for all, given the world in which we live, we have to be realistic about that proposition."

It seems clear that Gates' position is a self-fulfilling prophecy. In our current world, only the United States, due to its enormous military might, can provide the necessary leadership to achieve the elimination of nuclear weapons. If U.S. policymakers believe it cannot be done, that the genie cannot be put back in the bottle, it will not happen.

On the other hand, if U.S. policymakers adopted a different approach, one in which the United States sought to end its reliance on nuclear weapons and pressed the other nuclear states to come along, the prospect of a world with zero nuclear weapons would become realistic.

This does not mean unilateral U.S. nuclear disarmament. It means a negotiated agreement for the phased, verifiable, irreversible, and transparent elimination of nuclear weapons. It would not be easy, but the alternative is to continue with the status quo and drift toward nuclear catastrophe. Nuclear weapons do not and cannot protect their possessors. Retaliation is not protection. All countries, including the United States, would be more secure in a world without nuclear weapons. We can move cautiously, but we must move determinedly toward that goal. Only the United States can lead the way. 

David Krieger is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.


On page 50 of Arms Control Today’s October 2008 issue, the news analysis “Type, Targets of Sanctions Shift in Bush Administration” and its accompanying graphs should have taken into account six additional Iranian entities sanctioned under Executive Order 13382 in October 2007. The six entities are branches or subsidiaries of Banks Mellat and Melli that were not specifically named in the original Department of Treasury press announcement.

Editor's Note

Miles A. Pomper

President-elect Barack Obama will take office next month as the United States finds itself at a crucial crossroads in its nuclear weapons policy. Within the next year, the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia is set to expire, and the new administration is expected to conduct a review of the U.S. nuclear posture that will help set the course for the U.S. nuclear arsenal and U.S. weapons complex for years to come.

Obama has made clear the direction in which he wants to move: toward the global elimination of nuclear weapons. This month's issue includes Obama's responses to a series of written questions from Arms Control Today sent prior to the election. In this special section, Obama provides details of his views on U.S. nuclear weapons policy, missile and space policy, and other key arms control and nonproliferation issues.

This month's cover story, our interview with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, provides another valuable perspective on these issues. Kislyak is not only Russia's new ambassador to the United States but a former deputy foreign minister who often led negotiations on arms control and nonproliferation issues. He answered questions on subjects ranging from a potential follow-on agreement to START and the controversy over the Bush administration's proposal for a missile defense system in Europe to Russia's controversial suspension of implementation of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, as well as its approach to Iran.

Three U.S. experts provide their advice to the president-elect on future U.S. nuclear weapons policy. Richard L. Garwin says that the next administration should aim for a smaller nuclear stockpile and weapons complex that still provides challenging work for the country's nuclear weapons laboratories. Jeffrey Lewis argues that despite calls by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and others, there is no imminent need for a new U.S. nuclear warhead and the next administration should instead enhance current efforts to extend the lifespan of existing stockpiled warheads. Christopher F. Chyba explains why the Obama administration needs to look more systematically at the effect its decisions about the U.S. nuclear posture will have on nuclear nonproliferation efforts.

Our news section this month includes articles on how Obama's election is affecting the discussion about placing a U.S. missile defense system in Europe, Israeli concerns about how the new U.S. administration will deal with Iran's nuclear program, potential new rules at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) tightening standards on transfers of sensitive nuclear technology, and an analysis of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, set to open for signature this month.

Sharon Squassoni takes a look back at the landmark Nuclear Nonproliferation Act (NNPA) of 1978. She writes that although the NNPA has helped inspire significant global efforts to tackle nuclear proliferation, including through the NSG, many of the concerns that motivated its passage 30 years ago have yet to be fully addressed.

A Fresh Start? An Interview with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak

Interviewed by Daryl G. Kimball and Miles A. Pomper

Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, Russia's new ambassador to the United States, has assumed his post at a critical time in U.S.-Russian relations and at a point when presidential transitions are underway in both Moscow and Washington. Kislyak has served in a number of senior foreign policy positions in Moscow. Most recently, he served as Russia's deputy foreign minister where he played the lead role on arms control and nonproliferation issues. On November 14, Arms Control Today spoke with Ambassador Kislyak about his views on a number of issues in U.S.-Russian strategic relations, including missile defense, future strategic arms reductions, the status of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, and Russian views on how to deal with Iran's nuclear program.

ACT: One of the more immediate security challenges facing the United States and Russia is the December 2009 expiration of START, including its verification regime.[1] Obama has told this magazine that he wants to work with Russia to "make deep cuts in global nuclear stockpiles" during his first term and "extend the essential monitoring and verification provisions of START I prior to its expiration." Would Russia be willing to extend START if necessary?

Kislyak: It is difficult to say what you mean by "extend." Do we extend it the way it is, do we extend it for five years, do we extend it for two? All of these questions need to be discussed between our two teams.

If you ask me where we are currently, having discussed all these issues for quite a long period of time, I would say unfortunately I cannot report to you that we are satisfied with the level of agreement between us and the current administration of the United States on this particular issue. We have quite different views as to what the follow-on to START should be. We think there needs to be an extension of START, preserving the main systematic structure of the agreement, which does not mean we need to carbon-copy the agreement. It is large and had a strong emphasis on the destruction of weapons that have been fulfilled completely by the United States and Russia.[2] We need to focus on things that do provide guarantees for stability in the future. That would certainly include limitations on delivery vehicles. Also, we need to be sure deployment modes do not change in a way that will be threatening to each other. Those elements of START that can provide stability for the future, we want to preserve in the future agreements.[3]

With lowering levels, I am not discussing with you now what the exact numbers I think that need to be filled in. It is something that should be negotiated between the delegations. One should not negotiate through the press, but I am trying to help you to understand how we see the follow-on to START. Sometimes the treaty was criticized for being too lengthy and too complicated. I would say it was not too lengthy because it was addressing challenges that we had at the [time of] signing of the agreement. We were entering a process that was new to us, new to you. That was the first agreement to practically reduce strategic components of both sides.

But by now, after the treaty is almost completed, we have accumulated a wealth of experience on how to implement it. We are now concerned about taking pieces that we know how to implement and to import them in the follow-on agreement that would be providing guarantees for the stability of the future. One of the most important things for us is that [the START follow-on] addresses delivery vehicles because you have to be sure that the deployment modes of both sides would not be any more threatening than they are now. Hopefully, they will be less so, more predictable, and at a lower level. That has always been our philosophy and position on this issue, whereas the philosophy of the U.S. government is a little bit different. What our [U.S.] colleagues are suggesting basically is not a follow on to START but rather an extension or a follow-on to the Moscow Treaty.[4] Those are two different treaties, but they are mutually complementary. The Moscow Treaty, partially at least, was relying on the verification procedures and the system of mutual exchanges provided for in START. Those are two complementary things and not substitutes for one another. What we would like to see happening is that we have a follow-on to START that will be picking up those elements that are still important today and would provide extended stability in our relations, hopefully at the lower levels covering everything: delivery vehicles and [warhead] deployments. A Moscow Treaty plus the follow-on to START would do the trick.

ACT: A hybrid approach?

Kislyak: It is not a hybrid. The Moscow Treaty is there. It is valid until 2012. Currently, we have to resolve the issue on what is to succeed START. The first discussion on what we are going to have afterwards needs to be taken before December of this year. The treaty will expire unless anything else is created or decided in a year. If we do not have anything in January 2010, we will wake up, all of us, in a situation where there are no limits on delivery vehicles and no limits on anti-ballistic missile defense.[5]

I'm asking myself, are we going to be better off in terms of providing stability in our relations and in the world context? I think it would be a very unfortunate , if not dangerous, situation, because it is a kind of free-for-all of strategic arms and we might lose the mutual constraints provided for on a mutual basis by arms control agreements.

ACT: Can you be a little bit more specific in terms of what Russia is looking for in terms of which verification provisions from START should be continued? It was not clear if you wanted those in the future agreement.

Kislyak: Yeah, we do want the follow-on to be providing for verification, exchanges of information, and transparency. It is not that we favor just political declarations. We want to be sure that if we do have an agreement, the agreement needs to be verified and that the American side will be as compliant as we are.

As to the particularities of what we want-once again, I do not negotiate in the press.

ACT: Former President Vladimir Putin said at one point that Russia would be prepared to reduce its strategic forces down to 1,500 warheads or less.[6] That has been interpreted in different ways. What does that mean in terms of whether those warheads would be counted under the SORT [Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty] system or START? Can you provide any clarification of what he meant or what was meant in those comments?

In moving forward in talks with the United States on strategic systems, what is Russia's view about how best to deal with the United States' interest in converting some of the strategic systems that are armed with nuclear warheads to conventional warheads? How might that be taken into account in these future discussions?[7]

Kislyak: First of all, the numbers. We are certainly willing to go lower. That has always been our position, even at the time of negotiating the Moscow Treaty. The number of 1,500-there is nothing magic about it. Those are the numbers as a target that we are willing to negotiate with our American colleagues on. So whatever the mechanism is for arriving at this number, we are willing to be open and stick together. What we want to see happening is the mutual constraints provided for in START should not be lost because they do provide stability and are one of the important things that also should be preserved and should not be discarded.

As to the idea of converting nuclear strategic weapons into conventional weapons, we are very much concerned about this concept. We don't believe that, so far, that there is a mechanism that would ensure that it would not be destabilizing. We have been told that this conversion of strategic delivery vehicles into non-nuclear ones would not affect Russian security, but that's easily said. It is difficult to understand how it could be guaranteed; how one can be relaxed about a number of delivery vehicles that can be reconverted at any time, and secondly can have strategic missions. So, we do not agree in principle because we do not know of any guarantees that it is not going to be threatening to our security.

ACT: To date, U.S. and Russian arms control treaties have focused on strategic weapons. Yet, many analysts outside Russia have raised concerns about the size and security of Russia's stockpile of tactical nuclear weapons, as well as whether Russia has fulfilled past commitments to reduce these weapons.[8] Under what conditions would Russia be willing to provide a full accounting of these systems and start verifiably disposing of them?

First and foremost, on the security of these weapons, this issue has been talked about many times. In my opinion, having been involved in negotiations, I do not know of a single case where there has been a real problem with the safety and security of Russian nuclear weapons.

The United States has to work more seriously on how it deals with this issue. The latest reports on these issues that we know of indicates that a lot of things need to be looked at in this country.[9] I saw statements by the secretary of defense on this issue suggesting that there were decisions made in order to reinforce control of your stockpile and your components, and situations where some elements of them would find themselves in different countries. It is not acceptable, and we are certainly looking forward to seeing more control in this country of your components. As far as we are concerned, certainly, one cannot be complacent at any time, but the system of protection of Russian nuclear weapons is very, very stringent.

I remember, I think it was in Bratislava, that both sides, the presidents and the staffers and the advisers, had discussed the issue of safety of components of nuclear weapons. They agreed there was a good level of protection in both countries.[10] But one of the ideas was that we should never be complacent about it. That is something that is the case in my country. So I take exception to the notion that our nuclear weapons are insecure. Our strategic forces can be considered as secured.

As to the scope of nuclear weapons in negotiations, I think we need to be aware that the nuclear weapons unfortunately do not exist in isolation. It is also [a] part of military culture on both sides. We see that we have difficulties to even negotiate a follow-on to START that regulates the strategic component of [U.S. and Russian] forces.

At the same time, when you come say to the European situation we see a lot of imbalances in conventional weapons. We see a very disappointing situation with the CFE [Conventional Armed Forces in Europe] Treaty. We still believe the CFE Treaty that was negotiated for the situation when two opposing military blocs existed still regulates the relations between two groups of countries. We see that one group is no longer and the other is expanding and taking bit by bit the quotas that were given to the group that is no longer there, suggesting that the treaty doesn't work. It is something that is so surreal and does not provide the sense of stability, that we were forced to send [for the Russian moratorium] a strong signal to our colleagues that this situation should be corrected.

Some years ago ... on the initiative of Russia, we started negotiating the [adaptation] to the CFE Treaty that provides a little bit different approach.[11] It is not an ideal document either, but at least it does provide more predictability in this field by providing for two networks of limitations, not on the basis of groupings, but on individual membership to the treaty. We did expect that this treaty would have been in force already, say, five years ago. And what happens? Nothing. The adapted treaty has not entered into force. Our colleagues in the United States and NATO have decided not to start ratification of the treaty. The conditions for ratification, as far as we are concerned, are official; and we think that, first and foremost, there was lack of [NATO] interest in seeing it enter into force.

However, Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Belarus did ratify the [adapted] treaty, so we live in a very asymmetrical situation in terms of conventional buildups in Europe. I am not suggesting there are enormous buildups that are immediately threatening or deployed to prepare a tank attack, like we were concerned about in Cold War times. But the situation is that there is an expansion of conventional weapons in one grouping that is still there. The situation in conventional arms control is not satisfactory.

ACT: Is it fair to say then that the quantity of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in Europe is not the main concern or the main motivation for why Russia would be prepared to retain its weapons?

Kislyak: It is one of them. We have always advocated the repatriation of all weapons to one's own territory. We do not keep nuclear weapons beyond the territory of Russia, and we have always advocated that it would be a good idea for the others to do the same.

ACT: If the United States was willing to withdraw those tactical nuclear weapons, would that change Russia's position on consolidating, reducing, or eliminating its tactical nuclear weapons?

Kislyak: It would certainly be a serious factor, but would it be enough? I think we need to have a little bit more complex discussion between us and the United States and between us and NATO on the security environment in Europe.

ACT: On the CFE Treaty, Russia last year suspended implementation of it.[12] When does Russia intend to resume implementation, and what actions will it take to bring the Adapted CFE Treaty into force?

Kislyak: Well, I do not believe that we are interested in resuming implementation of the current CFE Treaty [without it being adapted]. You know how the CFE Treaty works? You have the current CFE Treaty that is the old one, and we have an adapted treaty. The adapted treaty does not exist without the first one, so in order to have an adapted treaty in force, we have to have both (The old one to be adapted by the new one). So, the moment that the adapted treaty is in force, we will have both: the old one, as amended by the treaty of adaptation.

But legally speaking, we are already there. We have ratified the adapted treaty, so in a way, we are waiting for others to join us. It is not us blocking the treaty and implementation; it is us waiting [for the others].

ACT: The argument on the other side is that you have not fulfilled these political commitments.

Yes we have. We have fulfilled everything that is applicable to the CFE Treaty implementation.

ACT: What about the withdrawals from Moldova and Georgia that were supposedly tied to the Adapted CFE Treaty?[13]

Kislyak: No, no, no, we have done everything that is related to the treaty, we have withdrawn all TLE [treaty-limited equipment] from Moldova in time. But there are political agreements between us and Moldova and us and the United States on the political environment there. They are bilateral understandings. Same with Georgia, on the withdrawal of our bases. Our bases are no longer there, we have withdrawn them. But the Georgians also were under commitment to do several things, and they have failed to do so. But in any way all this goes beyond what was required to implement the treaty.

By the way, by the same token, one of the commitments of Istanbul for all of us, including the United States, was the ratification of the Adapted CFE Treaty. It is yet to be implemented [by the West].

ACT: The United States and Russia share the challenge of dealing with Iran's ongoing enrichment program, as well as Iran's construction of the Arak heavy-water reactor.[14] Just briefly, in your view, what do the United States and Russia and other members of the Security Council need to do in the near future to fortify the existing strategy or adjust the existing strategy to persuade Iran to suspend its enrichment program and comply with the IAEA investigation of its past nuclear activities?

Kislyak: Well, I do not believe we need to reinvent the strategy. This strategy has two basic components. One is based on decisions made by the IAEA Board of Governors enumerating for the Iranian government what needs to be done to return credibility to its program. The Security Council has adopted already four resolutions that are beefing up the requirements of the IAEA. So there have been strong but measured signals of the international community to Iran that it is expected to comply with the IAEA requirements. And that was reinforcing the latest [UN Security Council] resolution from September. It [the September resolution] was short but, I think, very important, with a serious message.

What needs to be done also is to try to engage in discussion with Iranian colleagues and work out the benefits, for them and for all of us, if they do cooperate with the requirements. The six [China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States] have produced a package of ideas which I think is a good one. It provides for the Iranians, if they choose to pick it up and to develop it with us through negotiations, an excellent opportunity to expand cooperation not only with us, but also with Europeans, with the United States, with China, on a very, very broad range of issues, including nuclear energy, even scientific research, and many other things that would help them to be more integrated into the world economy. That is an offer of cooperation by countries "from the Atlantic to the Pacific," to the Iranian colleagues. That is something we try to reinforce when talking with Tehran. We are very much interested in seeing the Iranian government understand that this package is an honest one. We are satisfied that the American government is more and more involved in promoting this package. We saw Bill Burns, together with us, at the Geneva meeting back in the summer, which I think was a good message reinforcing that if we do have an agreement on this package, the United States will be part of it.[15] That is a very important part.

There are a lot of concerns on both sides. There is a lot of mistrust on both sides that needs to be overcome. That is the track that, I think, is a little bit underdeveloped so far, and we need to work more on that.

ACT: Russia has asserted that the Bush administration has pursued several policies that threaten to upset U.S.-Russian strategic relationship and stability. Foremost among these is this administration's effort to base 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a new radar in the Czech Republic. Why is Russia concerned about 10 interceptors, and why does it keep threatening to target the proposed U.S. installations?

Kislyak: It is not about 10 interceptors per se. We certainly understand that these 10 interceptors and the radar stationed in Czech Republic are not isolated components. They are elements of strategic anti-ballistic missile deployment. We see this for the first time, as far as I understand in history, that the United States is planning to deploy strategic components of its forces in Europe. It is close to us. This is about destabilizing deterrence. There are several bases of strategic offensive force in the European part of Russia that will be within range of this system. What is planned to be deployed is not just an observation or [early] warning radar, this is a battle management radar. We understand that most probably it is not the last [planned] deployment in the region. There might be others. I do not know when or where. We see it not as 10 innocuous missiles being deployed. We see it as an element of a bigger picture. This picture seems to be increasingly destabilizing and potentially more destabilizing in the future. That is the concern.

ACT: What measures or actions could the United States take to mitigate Russian concerns about the proposed deployment?

Kislyak: We had proposed an alternative idea of cooperating against what was the stated goal for this deployment, and that is to offset the possibility that the deployment would appear threatening to other countries.[16]

ACT: Is there any possibility that your government and the Obama administration could build on this administration's proposals for joint threat assessment, limiting interceptor deployment, and pursuing a joint missile defense architecture?[17]

Kislyak: What we had proposed was to join our monitoring systems, including our radar station in Azerbaijan. There would be a system strategically located in the region that might be of service in the future of missile defense. What we were proposing was to create a joint monitoring system that would be giving all of us on a joint basis the possibility to monitor what is happening and what is not happening. That is equally important.
We also proposed that we will conduct a discussion as to what we can do and need to do together in order to offset any possible threat if and when it appears. We do not see a credible threat to the United States appearing any time soon, at least not in my opinion, to strike the United States from this region. To threaten the United States from that region one has to have missiles of 8,000 to 11,000 kilometers range, and I do not see an industry in this region that would be capable any time soon to produce that kind of system.

When it comes to arguments about the need to protect Europe, I do not believe Europe asked for protection. It was decided for Europeans without consulting Europeans. The problem is that we also have specialists on ballistics and trajectories and mathematics, and we understand that, had it been the goal to protect Europe, maybe we would have used a different scheme of deployment to protect all of Europe. So if this is not to protect the United States and it is not to protect Europe and if there is no threat to offset, then the only "clientele," as they say, for this system would be Russia. Russian territory is very close, and we have components of strategic deterrence there. That is the concern. We are concerned that this system is an added element (close to our borders) to the overall effort to undermine strategic deterrence. And we, you and us, have not yet abandoned strategic deterrence.

ACT: Bush discussed with Putin a few months back, I believe at Sochi, the possibility of limiting the scope of that deployment, in addition to the Russian proposal that you just outlined.[18] Is that a realistic area for future discussion because you did just say that the concern is not 10 interceptors per se, but the possibility of a broader and more robust missile defense capability of the United States?

Kislyak: No, these elements will be serving as part of a layered defense. Nobody was offering to us any limitation of the strategic missile defense of the United States. I never heard of any proposals of that kind. It is not nearly enough [to alleviate Russian concerns] because we have had that kind of discussion in the past and we have raised our concerns. To be honest, we have not seen those concerns always being taken seriously.

ACT: Russia is a strong proponent of negotiating an agreement to prevent an arms race in outer space.[19]

Yes, we are.

ACT: U.S. officials contend there is no arms race in space and that Russia's proposals are neglecting to address the real danger of terrestrial based anti-satellite systems. What is Russia's response to the U.S. arguments, and why has Russia made outer space a priority?

Kislyak: We made it a priority because we are concerned if you start an arms race in outer space, you would not be able to disinvent it. It is going to be destabilizing if it is allowed to take place. The notion that there is no arms race in outer space does not sound to us credible because we are concerned that there will be programs in the future that might lead to deployment of striking weapons in outer space. That is a problem. I remember there were a number of statements, even by experts outside of the government here, that had begun to advocate that kind of program should be accelerated. We understand there is a lot of thinking about this and, at some point in the discussions about the strategic defenses in your country, there were ideas to deploy various versions of weapons into outer space.

So, this issue has not been withdrawn from the table. We are concerned if that happens, and if others would have to reciprocate, if we will bring the competition into outer space, it will become increasingly destabilized and, in the long term, strategically dangerous. It will undermine [also] the ability of countries to explore outer space for peaceful purposes. So, there are many components why one can be concerned. We are very much satisfied that a lot of countries supported us in a vote for resolutions at the United Nations. The appreciation of the problem seems to be almost universal. It is only the United States that does not join us yet. We will see what the future will bring to us.

ACT: Many former U.S. statesmen are now calling for a renewed emphasis on making progress toward the goal of the elimination of nuclear weapons. Do Russia's leaders see this goal as feasible? Do they share the views of Kissinger, Schultz, Perry, Nunn, and many others, that the nuclear-weapons states can and should move quickly on concrete steps to realize this goal?[20]

Kislyak: As the ultimate goal, yes, but in order to achieve this goal, a lot of things need to be done. Certainly the lower you go, the more complex the situation becomes. As we go down, we need to be sure that nuclear weapons are not going to appear in other countries. You need to work toward increasing the guarantees of nonproliferation at first. Secondly, we need to have all other [nuclear-armed states] on board. Third, we need to be sure that while we are moving toward this goal, how are the other components of security to be assured? It is complex. It is a very, very complex goal, but it is a noble goal. We can work toward this goal. It has always been our commitment in the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, but we need to take first steps first.[21] The first priority for us and probably for you, today, is to decide what is going to follow-on to START. That would be a first step. That is a very good goal that needs to be worked on, I'm afraid, for a quite a long period of time.

Click here for a complete transcript of the interview.


1. START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) I calls for the reduction in the number of Russian and U.S. strategic nuclear arsenals of each party. Signed in July 1991, START I entered into force in December 1994. START I runs for 15 years with an option to extend the treaty for successive five-year periods. Extension provisions call for parties to meet at least a year before the treaty expires in December 2009. Neither the United States nor Russia supported a five-year extension. For a discussion on what might follow START I, see Alexei Arbatov and Rose Gottemoeller, "New Presidents, New Agreements? Advancing U.S.-Russian Strategic Arms Control," Arms Control Today, July/August 2008, pp. 6-14.
2. All member states to START I met the agreed December 5, 2001, implementation deadline.
3. The basic terms of START I call for reductions in delivery vehicles and deployment modes, so that seven years after the entry into force of START I and thereafter, numbers do not exceed 1,600 deployed ICBMs, submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and heavy bombers for each side. It also limits the number of warheads attributed to ICBMs, SLBMs and heavy bombers. No more than 4,900 may be on ICBMs and SLBMs, 1,540 on heavy missiles, and 1,100 on mobile ICBMs.
4. The Moscow Treaty, also known as the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), was signed by Bush and Putin in 2002 and came into force in June 2003. SORT differs from START I in that it limits the number of operationally deployed warheads, whereas START I only limits "accountable" warheads attributed to their delivery vehicles. SORT calls for both parties to limit their nuclear arsenal to 1,700-2,200 operationally deployed warheads each.
5. The now-defunct Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty was signed by the Soviet Union and the United States on May 26, 1972, and entered into force on October 3, 1972. The treaty barred Washington and Moscow from deploying nationwide defenses against strategic ballistic missiles. The United States withdrew from the treaty on June 13, 2002.
6. See "Statement of Russian President Putin on Strategic Reductions and Preservation of the ABM Treaty," Arms Control Today, December 2000, p. 30.
7. The Global Strike Initiative is a Pentagon initiative that would convert some long-range SLBMs to deliver conventional warheads instead of nuclear ones. See Wade Boese, "Panel Endorses U.S. Global Strike Initiative," Arms Control Today, June 2007, pp. 34-35.
8. Collectively known as the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives (PNIs), President George H. W. Bush and Premier Mikhail Gorbachev both announced unilateral strategic reduction measures in the fall of 1991. The United States alleges Russia still has not fulfilled all of its PNI destruction commitments, and Moscow opposes the continued stationing of hundreds of U.S. tactical nuclear gravity bombs in Europe, which the PNIs did not cover. See Oliver Meier, "NATO Mulls Nuke Modernization, Security," Arms Control Today, September 2008, pp. 37-39.
9. In August 2007, a B-52 flew from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, unknowingly carrying six nuclear warheads. See Zachary Hosford, "Congress, Pentagon Probe Nuke Overflight," Arms Control Today, October 2007, p. 48. Additionally, the Pentagon revealed in March 2008 that four classified fuses to nuclear weapons had been mistakenly shipped to Taiwan in August 2006. See Jeremy Patterson, "Taiwan Fuse Shipment Reveals Nuclear Security Gaps," Arms Control Today, May 2008, pp. 46-47. In response to the mishandlings, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates appointed a task force headed by former Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger to review nuclear security and command and control and fired the Air Force secretary and chief of staff.
10. The Bratislava Initiatives were announced in a joint statement on nuclear security cooperation issued by Bush and Putin in February 2005. Both presidents reaffirmed commitments to making securing vulnerable materials a top priority, as well as to work together on energy, counterterrorism, and space cooperation. These initiatives have contributed to efforts to remove highly enriched uranium (HEU) from Poland and Libya, secure U.S.-origin HEU around the world, and convert HEU-fueled reactors to operate on low-enriched uranium (LEU).
11. The Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, signed in November 1990, set equal limits on the amount of tanks, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), heavy artillery, combat aircraft, and attack helicopters that NATO and the former Warsaw Pact could deploy between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ural Mountains. With the breakup of the Warsaw Pact and the dissolution of the Soviet Union after the Cold War, CFE Treaty states-parties overhauled the treaty in November 1999. The Adapted CFE Treaty replaces the bloc and zone weapons limits with national and territorial arms ceilings, and Russia notified signatories of its intended suspension of the original CFE Treaty in July 2007.
12. See Wade Boese, "Russia Suspends CFE Treaty Implementation," Arms Control Today, January/February 2008, p. 46.
13. After three years of negotiations, the Adapted CFE Treaty was concluded and signed at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) summit in Istanbul in November 1999.

NATO members' concerns regarding Russian compliance to the adapted treaty imperiled the official signing of the agreement. Several states, including Russia, made last-minute political commitments in an package called the "Final Act" to quell these doubts. Under the agreements, several NATO members pledged not to increase their territorial ceilings of treaty-limited equipment (TLE), and Russia agreed to reduce its TLE in Georgia and withdraw its military presence from Moldova.

Only Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine have ratified the adapted treaty. The United States and NATO allies have conditioned their ratification of the Adapted CFE Treaty on Russia fulfilling its Final Act pledges. See Wade Boese, "CFE Adapted at OSCE Summit in Istanbul," Arms Control Today, November 1999, p. 23.
14. Iran has been making preparations for the construction of a 40-megawatt heavy-water research reactor near the town of Arak since the 1990s and began construction on the plant in 2004. The site was made public in 2002 by an Iranian dissident group, prompting an IAEA investigation at the previously undeclared site. Iran claims that the reactor will be used to produce medical isotopes, but the configuration of the reactor also makes it suitable for producing high-quality plutonium for nuclear weapons. Because of this concern, the UN Security Council has demanded that Iran suspend construction of the reactor. The IAEA has also requested that Iran provide updated design information for the reactor. Iran has not cooperated with the Security Council or the IAEA regarding these measures and continues construction of the plant, which is slated for completion in 2011. Iran completed construction of a heavy-water production plant to provide heavy water for the reactor at the same site in 2006.
15. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns participated in a July 19 meeting between the permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and Germany and Iran to discuss proposals addressing Iran's nuclear program. Burns' participation marked a reversal of U.S. policy prior to the meeting in which Washington refused to send a representative to meetings with Iran until Tehran complied with UN demands.
16. See George N. Lewis and Theodore A. Postol, "European Missile Defense: The Technological Basis for Russian Concerns," Arms Control Today, October 2007, p. 13.
17. See Wade Boese, "U.S. Reaffirms Europe Anti-Missile Plan," Arms Control Today, July/August 2007, pp. 23-24; Wade Boese, "Report: No Progress on Missile Defense, Nukes," Arms Control Today, October 2007, p. 40.
18. See Wade Boese, "Bush, Putin Leave Arms Disputes Unsettled," Arms Control Today, May 2008, pp. 27-28.
19. Russia is a vocal supporter of an international agreement against the weaponization of space and has supported the creation of an ad hoc committee of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) to focus on the issue. In February 2008, Russia and China co-sponsored a proposal at the CD to ban weapons in space. See Wade Boese, "Russia Pushes Pacts as U.S. Kills Satellite," Arms Control Today, March 2008, pp. 50-51.
20. See George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger, and Sam Nunn, "A World Free of Nuclear Weapons," The Wall Street Journal, January 4, 2007, p. A15; George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger, and Sam Nunn, "Toward a Nuclear-Free World," The Wall Street Journal, January 15, 2008, p. A13. For a more in-depth discussion, see George P. Shultz, Sidney D. Drell, and James E. Goodby, eds., Reykjavik Revisited: Steps Toward a World Free of Nuclear Weapons (Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 2008).
21. Article VI of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty obligates nuclear-weapon states to work toward nuclear disarmament.

Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, Russia's new ambassador to the United States, has assumed his post at a critical time in U.S.-Russian relations and at a point when presidential transitions are underway in both Moscow and Washington. Kislyak has served in a number of senior foreign policy positions in Moscow. Most recently, he served as Russia's deputy foreign minister where he played the lead role on arms control and nonproliferation issues. On November 14, Arms Control Today spoke with Ambassador Kislyak about his views on a number of issues in U.S.-Russian strategic relations, including missile defense, future strategic arms reductions, the status of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, and Russian views on how to deal with Iran's nuclear program. (Continue)

LOOKING BACK: The 1978 Nuclear Nonproliferation Act

Sharon Squassoni

The 1978 Nuclear Nonproliferation Act (NNPA) sought to tighten the criteria for nuclear cooperation and reshape the nuclear fuel cycle. Many of its provisions have been forgotten, but the NNPA regained notoriety this year with the approval of the U.S.-Indian nuclear cooperation agreement. The objectives of the NNPA are timeless and in no danger of being achieved soon.

The solutions proposed by the NNPA may still be necessary to ensure the long-term viability of the nuclear nonproliferation regime, particularly those related to sensitive parts of the nuclear fuel cycle-uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing-that can produce fissile material either for fuel or for weapons.

Origins of the NNPA

Over the years, the NNPA has been most often associated with a critical turn in U.S. nonproliferation policy that required countries to belong to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in order to receive U.S. nuclear exports. Stung by India's 1974 nuclear test and mindful of the plans of other states outside the NPT to acquire sensitive technologies, the United States concluded that full-scope safeguards should be a prerequisite for nuclear supply. Eventually, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) adopted the same condition for supply in 1992. Although this can be viewed as a major success of the NNPA, a closer look at what it tried to achieve, however, reveals a set of far-reaching goals that are frustratingly no closer to fruition today.

When the NNPA was signed into law 30 years ago, analysts struggled to explain the wide-ranging impact of the complex bill on U.S. nuclear exports and policy. The Congressional Research Service devoted a 35-page report to explaining its provisions in clear English. A flurry of articles appeared in such high-profile venues as Foreign Affairs to decry the new restrictive measures of the NNPA and U.S. nonproliferation policy in general. Most focused on the folly of the United States in moving the goalposts in nuclear cooperation at a time when U.S. dominance in the nuclear market was waning.

Experts can argue precisely why the NNPA evolved as it did, but the context is fairly clear. In the early 1970s, technically competent states in Asia and Europe sought to reduce their dependence on the United States as virtually the sole supplier of reactors and nuclear fuel by developing their own fuel cycle capabilities. The perceived need to diversify supply only grew stronger after the 1973 oil shock, which had two effects. First, states recognized the need to shift away from oil to generate electricity. Second, general concern about fuel supplies led states with nuclear power programs to conclude that reprocessing plutonium from spent nuclear fuel would ultimately be necessary to make the most of finite uranium supplies. The oil shocks were a key impetus for states such as France and Japan, which were greatly dependent on foreign resources for energy, to invest heavily in nuclear energy.

Until 1971, the United States had supplied about 90 percent of the reactors in the western world and dominated the low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel market through what could be described as unfair business practices-setting LEU prices artificially low (below the cost of production) and discouraging foreign enrichment ventures. A stab by the Nixon administration at encouraging some foreign enrichment plants in 1971 backfired. Europeans balked when told that they would be given access to unclassified gaseous diffusion technology, which requires enormous amounts of electricity to run, while U.S. firms would have access to more competitive, but classified, centrifuge technology.

The decisions to create both URENCO, the British-Dutch-German enrichment venture, and Eurodif, the French-run enrichment partnership, were validated by U.S. difficulties in meeting contractual obligations to supply LEU fuel just a few years later. In June 1974, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) "closed the books" on enrichment and made some existing contracts "conditional," as it discovered U.S. enrichment capacity would not be able to meet demand. Reportedly, the AEC even returned checks for services.[1] One year later, reorganization of the AEC into the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA) threw U.S. nuclear exports into a tailspin. The United States did not export any LEU for nine months while the NRC and ERDA sorted out their responsibilities and regulations.

More troubling than Europe's development of commercial fuel-cycle capabilities was the decision of these new nuclear suppliers to spread the wealth. After learning of the U.S. decision not to supply LEU, the Brazilians promptly concluded a contract with the Germans to acquire a full nuclear fuel cycle while France concluded reprocessing plant contracts with Pakistan and South Korea. The contracts were eventually abandoned after intense diplomatic lobbying by the United States. However, coupled with the ominous 1974 India nuclear test, it was clear that coordinated supplier restraints were needed.

Other factors were also critical in setting the scene for the NNPA. In the wake of the Indian test and facing pressure from Congress, which was highly engaged in those issues at that time, the Ford administration concluded that it would not continue to support spent fuel reprocessing because of concerns about proliferation. The Carter administration, entering office in 1977, took this a little further and sought to discourage allies from using plutonium as fuel in the civil fuel cycle. French, German, and Japanese allies were, unsurprisingly, very unhappy with U.S. decisions, particularly because they wanted to reprocess U.S.-origin spent fuel.

An Imperfect Instrument With Idealistic Objectives

Several precursor bills introduced before 1977 contained more stringent requirements for U.S. exports than would ultimately wind up in the NNPA. For example, one bill sought to ban foreign reprocessing of U.S.-origin spent fuel; another sought to make U.S. nuclear exports contingent on a state forgoing all enrichment and reprocessing, not dissimilar to the bilateral arrangements the United States is now pursuing with some states. A separate legislative tack was simultaneously pursued to impose sanctions on the acquisition of enrichment and reprocessing capabilities by certain states through the Symington and Glenn amendments to the Foreign Assistance Act.

Fundamentally, the NNPA sought to make the international nuclear fuel cycle a less attractive platform from which to develop nuclear weapons. The NNPA envisioned sticking to a once-through fuel cycle that would avoid using separated plutonium, or separated uranium-233 (U-233), or HEU. To realize that vision, it would be necessary to defer commercial deployment of breeder reactors, create terminal spent fuel storage facilities, and assure countries that they would have a reliable supply of LEU, through the creation of an International Nuclear Fuel Authority and an interim fuel stockpile. It would also be necessary to get serious about universal NPT compliance and better International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. Supplier states would have to agree not to transfer sensitive nuclear technologies, such as uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing.

The NNPA had a major impact on U.S. nuclear export controls, notably levying a requirement that recipient states have full-scope safeguards. Eventually, other NSG suppliers adopted the same prerequisite but only after the shock of Iraq's pre-1991 weapons of mass destruction transgressions. The NNPA's more far-reaching goals, including an International Nuclear Fuel Authority, a fuel bank, and multinational enrichment facilities and spent fuel repositories, have remained out of reach. None of these have been pursued with any success, yet they are virtually all on today's agenda.

In many ways, the NNPA attempted to legislate an earlier U.S. objective to internationalize the nuclear fuel cycle. Such proposals under the 1946 Baruch plan were viewed suspiciously by some countries as a way of maintaining what was then U.S. nuclear hegemony. The Atoms for Peace program of the 1950s abandoned the idea of institutional frameworks to control proliferation, opting instead to place trust in bilateral safeguards to ensure the peaceful uses of the atom. By the mid-1970s, however, it was becoming clear that perhaps the newly minted NPT needed to be shored up.[2]

Had the United States truly been seen as a reliable supplier in the years just prior to the NNPA, a backlash against U.S. policy might not have resulted. The question today is whether the objectives of the NNPA are still worth pursuing. If so, how?

Lessons for Today

The nuclear nonproliferation regime today is under stress from several different directions. The recent crises are well known: North Korea's withdrawal from the NPT and nuclear test; Abdul Qadeer Khan's sale of sensitive uranium-enrichment technology to Iran, Libya, North Korea, and perhaps others; and Iran's violation of its NPT obligations and refusal, despite numerous UN Security Council resolutions, to suspend its uranium-enrichment program. These last two crises illustrate the fundamental difficulties in controlling what are essentially dual-use technologies, those that can be used to make fuel for power plants or for weapons.

Although the NNPA did not create the International Nuclear Fuel Cycle Evaluation project completed almost three decades ago, it provided additional impetus by requiring in Section 105 of the bill that the president initiate a re-evaluation of all aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle. One of the basic conclusions of that project was that institutional approaches to nonproliferation were needed in addition to whatever technical improvements might be possible. Most of the current proposals to reduce the risks of expanded fuel-cycle capabilities are not very different from those of 30 years ago, such as regional fuel-cycle centers and fuel banks. The urgency of promoting such institutional approaches vanished when nuclear industry growth slumped after the Three Mile Island accident in 1979 and low uranium prices made plutonium recovery relatively unattractive. These proposals are relevant once more because of renewed interest in nuclear power.

At this writing, dozens of states have announced intentions to pursue nuclear energy for the first time. Fundamentally, a major expansion of nuclear power need not pose greater proliferation risks if two basic principles are applied: there should be no growth in the amount of direct, weapons-usable fissile material nor in purely national enrichment capabilities. The implication is that civil reprocessing of spent fuel should be curtailed rather than expanded. Solutions such as fuel leasing or international spent fuel repositories could help in this regard. Iran has agreed to leasing fuel from Russia for the Bushehr plant, and Russia is open to taking back spent fuel from all its nuclear partners. The question is whether other suppliers, such as the France, Japan, and the United States, could follow suit.

Similarly, institutional solutions can help diminish the possibility of uranium-enrichment plants being used covertly to produce HEU or providing a latent capability should a state decide to withdraw from the NPT. On the supply side, the NSG has been exploring tighter supply criteria to provide additional confidence in states' intentions, and others including IAEA Director-General ElBaradei have proposed internationalizing any future facilities so that their misuse or appropriation might be made more difficult or be deterred or prevented. Criteria include having full-scope safeguards and a version of the 1997 Model Additional Protocol in force, among others. An additional protocol grants safeguards inspectors additional authority and information.

On the demand side, the situation is a little more complex because the proposals have almost all originated in the supplier states, apart from the conditions established by India in its new cooperation agreement with the United States. Supply assurances to provide incentives for states to forgo domestic enrichment programs include layered guarantees, fuel banks, and shares in existing enrichment ventures.

Some states have already begun to agree to fuel assurances. Ukraine reportedly has stepped back from its plans to develop a full fuel cycle and will join the Russian enrichment center at Angarsk. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) issued a policy declaration this year that states it will forgo uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing in favor of long-term arrangements with governments and contractors primarily for economic reasons, but also because of the international concerns about sensitive fuel-cycle capabilities in developing countries. Not coincidentally, the UAE signed a nuclear cooperation with the United States in November.

India and the NNPA

The recent U.S.-Indian nuclear cooperation agreement is not the only controversial nuclear cooperation agreement to be approved by Congress in the wake of the NNPA. Others include the 1985 agreement with China, which was held up because of China's nuclear transfers to Pakistan, and the renegotiated agreements with Japan (1987) and Euratom (1995), both contentious because of the issue of U.S. consent to reprocess U.S.-origin spent fuel. Although the Chinese, Japanese, and Euratom agreements were all controversial in their day, provoking hearings and resolutions of disapproval, the Indian agreement posed an entirely different dilemma because it called into question a fundamental tenet of U.S. nonproliferation policy and law for 30 years, that the United States should cooperate only with states that have signed the NPT. More than that, however, certain elements of the agreement threaten to throw other U.S. fuel-cycle assurances into disarray.

India, in the 2005 Joint Statement and in the 123 agreement itself, required three kinds of fuel supply assurances: help in establishing a strategic reserve of fuel, a supply agreement with the IAEA, and assurances that the United States would find alternate suppliers if the United States had to cut off supply with India for any reason. India obviously desired to avoid a repetition of the 1980 U.S. cutoff in nuclear fuel to India's Tarapur reactors. That termination occurred because India failed to meet the NNPA's requirement for full-scope safeguards in non-nuclear-weapon-state recipients of U.S. nuclear exports. (India is considered a non-nuclear-weapon state under the NPT.) Although this requirement was waived by the 2006 Hyde Act, a cutoff could occur should India test another nuclear weapon. Future tests are not "grandfathered" into the U.S.-Indian 123 agreement.

Remarkably, India's Tarapur reactors never stopped operating because they lacked nuclear fuel, despite the U.S. cutoff. Other nuclear suppliers helped plug the gap: first France, then China, and now Russia. Eventually, however, India began to experience shortages in domestic uranium supply because of the 1992 NSG decision to require full-scope safeguards that resulted in operating some reactors at much lower capacities. Ironically, just at the time when the NNPA's full-scope safeguards requirements began to pinch, they were dropped.

States that are now considering fuel assurances are obviously not motivated to seek them for the same reasons as India. The bar for them is set much lower. The idea behind fuel assurances for other states is to provide incentives for them not to acquire the capacity to enrich uranium or reprocess spent fuel. Although national strategic stockpiles of fuel have not been featured prominently in proposals, an IAEA role in assuring supply and ensuring alternative suppliers have been elements of other proposals.[3] Still, other characteristics of the U.S.-Indian 123 agreement may complicate the picture.

The first is that India insisted on "corrective measures" that could be taken if fuel supplies were cut off. Although never publicly defined, such corrective measures are thought to refer to India's removal of its indigenous reactors from safeguards to accommodate domestic, unsafeguarded fuel in the event of a cutoff of foreign fuel. Clearly, NPT non-nuclear-weapon states-parties would not have this option, but the precedent of connecting safeguards obligations to guaranteed fuel is troubling.

Second, the India 123 agreement provided, in principle, consent for India to reprocess U.S.-origin spent fuel, pursuant to negotiation of subsequent arrangements. India would need to build a new reprocessing plant for that purpose. This could place India among the small group of states that are accorded such privileges, raising the question for other states such as South Korea.

Third, the agreement also allowed, in principle, for cooperation in enrichment and reprocessing, provided that the requirements of the Hyde Act are met for engagement in a bilateral or multilateral program devoted to improving proliferation-resistant fuel cycles and an amended 123 agreement is approved. Such cooperation may never be pursued by the United States, particularly under a new administration, but its possibility raises questions about where to draw the line in restricting sensitive nuclear technologies. If the NSG is able to implement criteria on which it has been working in this area in the near term, the issue of such cooperation with India could melt away.

Revisiting the NNPA?

The successes and failures of the NNPA may be more relevant than ever as the nuclear nonproliferation community continues to grapple with the dilemmas posed by India, Iran, and a potential expansion of nuclear energy across a wide swath of states. New institutional frameworks are needed to curb enthusiasm for engaging in uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing. The United States, no longer the pre-eminent nuclear supplier, must gain wide support for implementing a vision of a nuclear fuel cycle that poses fewer proliferation risks than before. Moreover, the United States needs to begin taking seriously the NNPA's call to identify alternative options to nuclear power to meet countries' energy needs, particularly low-carbon-emitting sources.

The 110th Congress passed legislation to help fund the Nuclear Threat Initiative's fuel bank, which is a positive step toward implementing some of the more far-reaching objectives of the NNPA. Another idea on the table has been to tighten congressional approval of subsequent arrangements for reprocessing by amending the Atomic Energy Act. Given how Congress failed to adequately review the U.S.-Indian nuclear cooperation agreement, it is not clear that greater authority would result in greater oversight. Perhaps the biggest impact Congress might make on other countries' fuel cycle decisions would be to overcome nuclear waste storage roadblocks in the United States and start to build support for taking back spent fuel of U.S. origin. The world cannot expect and should not desire Russia to be the sole nuclear waste repository. Such an effort could be valuable in allowing U.S. policymakers to confront the true costs of nuclear power and proliferation directly.



Sharon Squassoni is a senior associate in the nonproliferation program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.




1. Lawrence J. Franko, "U.S. Regulation of the Spread of Nuclear Technologies Through Supplier Power: Lever or Boomerang?" Law & Policy in International Business, Vol. 10 (1978), p. 1181.

2. Lawrence Scheinman, "Equal Opportunity: Historical Challenges and Future Prospects of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle," Arms Control Today, May 2007, pp. 18-22.

3. Frank von Hippel, "National Fuel Stockpiles: An Alternative to a Proliferation of National Enrichment Plants?" Arms Control Today, September 2008, pp. 20-24.


The 1978 Nuclear Nonproliferation Act (NNPA) sought to tighten the criteria for nuclear cooperation and reshape the nuclear fuel cycle. Many of its provisions have been forgotten, but the NNPA regained notoriety this year with the approval of the U.S.-Indian nuclear cooperation agreement. The objectives of the NNPA are timeless and in no danger of being achieved soon. (Continue)

Iran Forges Ahead on Enrichment

Peter Crail

Iran is finalizing its installation of a second set of 3,000 gas centrifuges at its commercial-scale uranium-enrichment facility and is preparing to install a third set, according to a Nov. 19 report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Tehran is therefore showing no sign of suspending its uranium-enrichment efforts, contrary to UN Security Council demands. Meanwhile, Iran is also continuing to develop its ballistic missile capabilities, but it is unclear whether it is successfully employing more-advanced missile technologies.

Iran Steadily Expands Enrichment

According to the IAEA report, Iran is currently operating close to 3,800 centrifuges in two separate units of its commercial-scale uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz. When completed, this facility is intended to house roughly 48,000 centrifuges, divided into 16 units each with about 3,000 machines. A senior UN official stated during a Nov. 19 background briefing that Iran is close to running another 2,100 centrifuges and can likely begin feeding them with uranium hexafluoride by the end of the year, for a total of about 5,900.

Uranium hexafluoride is the feedstock used in the uranium-enrichment process. It can be enriched to low levels to fuel nuclear reactors or high levels for potential use in nuclear weapons.

Using this feedstock, Iran has accumulated about 630 kilograms of low-enriched uranium (LEU) hexafluoride. Although this material is only enriched to the levels needed for nuclear power reactors, there is no apparent need for such material at this time. Russia has agreed to provide Iran's first and only nuclear power reactor with fuel.

If reintroduced into its centrifuges, Iran would be capable of rapidly enriching this material to higher levels suitable for weapons. David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, estimates that Iran would need to process 1,030-1,180 kilograms of LEU hexafluoride in its centrifuges under optimal conditions to produce enough highly enriched uranium (HEU) for a nuclear weapon. (See ACT, November 2007.)

At this time, however, all nuclear material at Iran's declared facilities are subject to IAEA monitoring. Moreover, a December 2007 National Intelligence Estimate judged "with moderate confidence that Iran probably would use covert facilities rather than its declared sites" to produce HEU for nuclear weapons.

A senior UN official said Nov. 19 that the IAEA has not received concrete information of clandestine uranium-enrichment facilities operating elsewhere in the country. At the same time, the agency has consistently noted that it cannot rule out the presence of undeclared nuclear activities unless Iran implements an additional protocol to its safeguards agreement providing greater access to inspectors. Iran stopped implementing its version of the 1997 Model Additional Protocol in 2005.

Iran is also continuing to operate its centrifuges near their expected capacity. Iranian officials claimed in 2006 that its first-generation centrifuges had a feed rate of about 70 grams of uranium hexafluoride per hour, and the IAEA assessed that Iran was operating its centrifuges "close to" this rate during inspections in August. (See ACT, October 2008.) The centrifuges have continued to operate at this rate in the succeeding months as well.

Iran's first-generation centrifuge is based on Pakistan's P-1 centrifuge. Pakistani nuclear official Abdul Qadeer Khan secretly acquired the technology for the P-1 centrifuge from the European enrichment consortium Urenco during the 1970s. Khan in turn provided the technology to Iran and other countries during the 1980s and 1990s.

In addition to the P-1 centrifuge, Iran acquired a more advanced design, the P-2, which can enrich uranium about 2.5 times faster than the P-1. (See ACT, November 2007.) Iran is currently conducting tests of two designs based on the P-2 model, named the IR-2 and IR-3, at a pilot enrichment facility also located at Natanz. Iran is only feeding these test centrifuges with limited amounts of uranium hexafluoride.

Beyond the two units containing operating centrifuges, the report notes that Iran has been preparing three more units for centrifuge installation. Iran told the agency that it intends to begin installing P-1 machines at one of these units at the beginning of 2009.

Iran does not appear ready to begin installing its more advanced centrifuge models just yet. The senior UN official stated that although it may be possible for Iran to install its IR-2 or IR-3 centrifuges at any of the units it is currently preparing for installation, "it would be quite a surprise" due to Iran's inability to run them proficiently at this time.

Although Iran has stated plans to continue introducing centrifuges into its commercial-scale facility, it is unclear how many additional machines Iran is equipped to install. The senior UN official noted that, prior to the resumption of Iran's enrichment program in 2006, the IAEA assessed that Iran manufactured enough components for about 10,000 P-1 centrifuges. Because Iran does not have an additional protocol in force, the agency does not have access to Iran's centrifuge manufacturing sites and cannot judge how many additional centrifuges Iran has manufactured since then.

Tehran's continued work on its enrichment program is being carried out in violation of five UN Security Council resolutions. Three of those resolutions have imposed penalties targeted at persons and entities believed to be involved in Iran's nuclear and missile programs. (See ACT, April 2008.)

IAEA Receives Less Cooperation From Tehran

Although Iran's declared enrichment operations are carried out under IAEA monitoring, the report noted two areas in which Iran has not provided cooperation.

Iran did not allow the agency to carry out an Oct. 26 visit to the site of its heavy-water reactor at Arak, which has been under construction since 2006. The agency claims that it retains the right to visit the facility even though Iran suspended its implementation of a subsidiary agreement to provide early design information to the IAEA. Iran did allow such a visit in August.

As a result of this denial, the agency has to rely on satellite imagery to assess progress on the construction of the reactor. The senior UN official said it would be some time before the facility was operational. The UN Security Council has demanded that Iran halt this construction due to concerns that it may be used to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons.

Iran has also failed to provide additional information requested by the agency regarding alleged Iranian activities that the IAEA said points to "possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program." In its May 26 report, the agency outlined a series of questions regarding these activities that the agency posed to Iran in the preceding months. (See ACT, June 2008.) A senior UN official said Nov. 19 that Iran has not provided any cooperation in answering these questions in recent months.

Iran Continues Solid-Fuel Missile Work

In addition to building up its nuclear capacity, Iran has continued work on its ballistic missile program. Iran Nov. 12 tested a two-staged missile named the Sajjil that Iranian officials said has a range of about 2,000 kilometers and uses solid fuel. The Sajjil has the same appearance and claimed capabilities of a missile Iran tested last November, called the Ashura. (See ACT, January/February 2008.) Uzi Rubin, former director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization, told Arms Control Today Nov. 20 that the Sajjil is simply a different name for the same system.

The test demonstrates Iran's continued pursuit of a solid-fueled, medium-range ballistic missile capability. The use of solid fuel provides some advantages over Iran's liquid-fueled systems, which have comprised much of Iran's medium-range ballistic missile arsenal. Among these advantages are a shorter launch time, easier handling and storage, and the possibility of deploying smaller missiles. Iran has also said that its liquid-fueled Shahab-3 missile has a range of 2,000 kilometers.

At this range, Iran would be capable of striking targets outside the region, including parts of the Balkans and eastern Europe.

It is not clear if Iran can reach these distances. Striking such ranges and beyond will likely require Iran to master the process of staging, in which additional sets of engines are stacked on top of one another, firing at different times along the missile's flight path. Iran is not known to have successfully tested a multiple-stage rocket or missile. Its most recent tests of such systems, in November 2007 and in August 2008, both failed. (See ACT, September 2008.) The Sajjil test was reportedly unsuccessful.

Following the test, Washington reiterated its call for establishing a missile defense system in Europe. Pentagon spokesperson Bryan Whitman told reporters Nov. 13, "This testing is another reminder of the importance of establishing a missile defense site in Poland and in the Czech Republic to defend the U.S. and Europe against a threat that is developing in Iran." The U.S. missile defense proposal is designed to intercept missiles with longer ranges than the systems that Iran has tested to date.


Iran is finalizing its installation of a second set of 3,000 gas centrifuges at its commercial-scale uranium-enrichment facility and is preparing to install a third set, according to a Nov. 19 report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Tehran is therefore showing no sign of suspending its uranium-enrichment efforts, contrary to UN Security Council demands. Meanwhile, Iran is also continuing to develop its ballistic missile capabilities, but it is unclear whether it is successfully employing more-advanced missile technologies. (Continue)

Israeli Officials Wary of U.S. Shift on Iran

Peter Crail

With the incoming U.S. administration of President-elect Barack Obama pledging to pursue a policy of "tough diplomacy" with Iran, including opening the possibility of direct talks with Tehran, Israeli leaders appear to be warily bracing for the expected shift in the U.S. approach to one of Israel's most serious security concerns. Israeli officials have frequently expressed support for a diplomatic resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue but have focused on strengthening international efforts to place economic and political pressure on Tehran. The rising concern comes as Israel is undergoing its own political transition, with general elections scheduled for this February.

A number of Israeli officials have questioned the utility of U.S. dialogue with Iran. At a Nov. 7 press conference following a meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak doubted Iran's willingness to engage in dialogue in good faith, stating that "Iran continues to try to obtain a nuclear weapon and continues to cheat everybody by holding negotiations on the control of such weapons."

In particular, Israeli officials appear wary that a shift in policy toward engagement may weaken the current sanctions efforts aimed at Tehran. Israeli Foreign Minister and potential prime minister Tzipi Livni urged caution about the timing of direct talks, telling Israel Radio Nov. 6 that "premature dialogue at a time where Iran thinks that the world has given up on sanctions may be problematic," adding that such dialogue may be construed as "weakness." When asked if she supported U.S. dialogue with Iran, Livni responded, "[T]he answer is no."

In recognition that U.S. and Israeli aims regarding Iran may diverge, part of Israel's security establishment also appears to fear that a U.S.-Iranian dialogue may be successful in addressing U.S. concerns, but not those of Israel. The Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reported Nov. 23 that a draft Israeli National Security Council annual situation assessment, which is to be presented to the Israeli cabinet in December, "recommends close cooperation with the U.S. to prevent a deal between Washington and Tehran that would undermine Israel's interests."

One key Israeli official, however, suggested a potential benefit from U.S. talks with Iran: the likelihood that such dialogue will be a route to stiffer sanctions. Amos Yadlin, the head of Israeli Military Intelligence, said in a Nov. 17 lecture in Tel Aviv that he is not opposed to U.S.-Iranian talks, highlighting that if such talks should fail, "there could be a greater realization that sanctions and the diplomatic campaign against Iran should be stepped up." He added that Iran is "very susceptible" to economic pressure at present due to the global economic crisis.

Israeli officials have frequently called for strengthened punitive measures to place pressure on Iran. In a Nov. 17 speech to Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called for "greater force" to confront Iran, stating that Washington must lead an international effort to make it "more costly to Iran to pursue nuclear weapons than to give it up."

In addition to being open to direct talks with Iran, Obama has called for expanding sanctions against Tehran to apply pressure on the regime. During a June 4 campaign speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Obama said that the United States and its allies should "find every avenue outside the UN to isolate the Iranian regime," including imposing additional financial sanctions and cutting off refined petroleum exports to Iran.

In the general elections scheduled for Feb. 10, 2009, the leading contenders to replace Olmert as prime minister are Livni, who is also the Kadima party's head, and Likud party leader and former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Although the issue of Iran looms large in Israeli foreign and security policy, it has not been the subject of significant attention during the Israeli elections. A former Israel Defense Forces official told Arms Control Today Sept. 25 that "the nuclearization of Iran is not a partisan issue in Israel. There are hawks and doves in each party."

The issue was on the agenda of the final meeting between the current leaders of the two countries when Olmert visited President George W. Bush in Washington Nov. 24. Olmert told reporters following the meeting that there was a "deep understanding about the Iranian threat and the need to act in order to remove [the] threat." He also rejected the notion that the United States sought to pressure Israel against taking military action against Iran.

Former U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations John Bolton suggested in June that the "optimal window" for Israel to strike Iran would be after the U.S. elections and prior to the inauguration of the new president Jan. 20, noting particularly that "an Obama victory would rule out military action."

Israel has said that it reserves the option to take such an action. In a Nov. 18 Der Spiegel interview, Commander in Chief of the Israeli Air Force Ido Nehushtan said that the air force is "ready to do whatever is demanded of us" to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons, but that such an action "is a political decision."

In recent months, however, senior Israeli political officials have voiced opposition to military action. In a Sept. 7 interview with the Sunday Times of London, Israeli President Shimon Peres asserted that "the military way will not solve the problem," adding that "such an attack can trigger a bigger war."

Israeli Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit, a former contender in the Kadima party leadership elections, spoke out in even stronger terms against an Israeli strike against Iran. Ha'aretz quoted Sheetrit Sept. 21 stating that "Israel must on no account attack Iran, speak of attacking Iran, or even think about it."


With the incoming U.S. administration of President-elect Barack Obama pledging to pursue a policy of "tough diplomacy" with Iran, including opening the possibility of direct talks with Tehran...

Time for a Systematic Analysis: U.S. Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Proliferation

Christopher F. Chyba

The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act requires the next secretary of defense, in consultation with the secretaries of energy and state, to conduct a comprehensive review of the nuclear weapons posture of the United States.

The review must consider the role of nuclear forces in U.S. military strategy; requirements and objectives for deterrence; the relationship among nuclear deterrence, targeting strategy, and arms control objectives; the role of missile defense and conventional strike weapons; the levels and composition of nuclear delivery systems; the required nuclear weapons complex; and the active and inactive nuclear weapons stockpile, including plans for replacing or modifying warheads.[1]

The legislation does not explicitly call for the review to study what impact changes in the U.S. nuclear posture would have on nuclear weapons proliferation, although the reference to "arms control objectives" might be taken to encompass this. Yet, the incoming Obama administration will make its nuclear weapons decisions in the face of an array of diverging and sometimes contradictory assertions about this impact. Rather than merely selecting among these assertions, the new administration should conduct a comprehensive analysis and explicitly build it into nuclear weapons policymaking across the board. Core nuclear weapons decisions must rank among the incoming president's top priorities, despite an extremely crowded security and economics agenda. The nuclear posture review itself must be driven by the White House if it is to achieve consensus for the president's objectives.[2]

Diverging Assertions

In January 2007, former Secretaries of State George Shultz and Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of Defense William Perry, and former Senator Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) advocated nuclear weapons abolition in a Wall Street Journal editorial and asserted that a "solid consensus for reversing reliance on nuclear weapons globally" would be a "vital contribution to preventing their proliferation into potentially dangerous hands."[3] In their 2008 follow-on editorial, these authors added that "[t]he accelerated spread of nuclear weapons, nuclear know-how and nuclear material has brought us to a nuclear tipping point." Preventing this, they asserted, requires a clear statement of the ultimate goal of nuclear disarmament: "Without the vision of moving toward zero, we will not find the essential cooperation required to stop our downward spiral."[4]

Speaking at the American Academy in Berlin in June 2008, Nunn put the point more directly: "[W]e believe [that, with a U.S. commitment to disarmament,] it would become more likely that many more nations will join us in a firm approach to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons and materials and prevent catastrophic terrorism.... We cannot take these steps without the cooperation of other nations. We cannot get the cooperation of other nations without the vision and hope of a world that will someday end these weapons as a threat to mankind."[5] Others have argued that a vision for nuclear disarmament may influence future decisions by countries considering nuclear weapons development [6] or may help ensure that countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Japan, South Africa, and Sweden do not reconsider their decisions to forgo or give up nuclear weapons programs.[7]

Despite this, skeptics have been quick to insist that disarmament advocates have failed to establish a causal connection between the pursuit of disarmament and the prevention of nuclear weapons proliferation. In November 2007, The Wall Street Journal published a reply by former Defense Secretary Harold Brown and former Deputy Defense Secretary John Deutch titled "The Nuclear Disarmament Fantasy," in which the authors declared that "[a] nation that wishes to acquire nuclear weapons believes these weapons will improve its security. The declaration by the U.S. that it will move to eliminate nuclear weapons in a distant future will have no direct effect on changing this calculus. Indeed, nothing that the U.S. does to its nuclear posture will directly influence such a nation's (let alone a terrorist group's) calculus." Such steps, they assert, would also not "convince North Korea, Iran, India, Pakistan or Israel to give up their nuclear weapons programs." [8]

Brown and Deutch are hardly alone. A 2004 report to Congress by the secretaries of state, defense, and energy argued that "rogue state proliferation...marches forward independently of the U.S. nuclear program" and that "North Korea and Iran appear to seek [weapons of mass destruction (WMD)] in response to their own perceived security needs, in part, to deter the United States from taking steps to protect itself and allies in each of these regions. In this regard, their incentives to acquire WMD may be shaped more by U.S. advanced conventional weapons capabilities and our demonstrated will to employ them to great effect."[9]

Former Bush administration Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control Stephen Rademaker agrees that U.S. nuclear weapons policy is irrelevant to Iranian or North Korean nuclear decision-making, which he argues is driven by hunger for power and prestige. Nevertheless, he asserts, "[s]o long as there is one nuclear weapon remaining in the U.S. inventory, [arms control activists] will point to this as the root cause of nuclear proliferation."[10]

A group of 11 members of the Bush administration's International Security Advisory Board (ISAB) to the Department of State have argued that a key role of U.S. nuclear weapons policy is to help prevent nuclear proliferation by providing a "nuclear umbrella" to countries-31, by the authors' count-that might otherwise be tempted to develop their own nuclear weapons.[11] Similarly, the full ISAB claims that "[t]here is clear evidence in diplomatic channels that U.S. assurances to include the nuclear umbrella have been, and continue to be, the single most important reason many allies have forsworn nuclear weapons."[12] If this were the most salient nonproliferation role for U.S. nuclear weapons, careless moves toward disarmament might in fact drive proliferation rather than curtail it.

A Comprehensive Analysis

Even this small sampling of U.S. writings on the connection between U.S. nuclear weapons policy and nuclear proliferation reveals a host of diverging assertions. A systematic analysis remains to be formulated, but it is not difficult at least to frame such an analysis. Any upcoming revision of U.S. nuclear weapons policy should incorporate, as an intrinsic part of a nuclear policy and posture review, such an analysis of probable and possible impacts on the nonproliferation regime. This is not, of course, the same as saying that international impacts of U.S. policy should determine U.S. nuclear weapons policy. Still, it would be foolhardy and self-defeating not to try to understand and account for connections between U.S. decisions and the nuclear nonproliferation regime.

It may seem odd even to suggest that such an analysis is necessary. After all, an explicit connection is made between disarmament and nonproliferation in Article VI of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Article VI pledges all parties to the treaty and therefore the nuclear-weapon states in particular to pursue nuclear disarmament.[13] This is commonly viewed as representing one of three bargains contained in the treaty; in this case, the Article II pledge of the treaty's non-nuclear-weapon states not to acquire nuclear weapons is matched by the Article VI promise of the nuclear-weapon states for their eventual elimination.[14]

This connection between disarmament and nonproliferation was strongly reaffirmed as a condition of the 1995 indefinite extension of the NPT and expanded in the "13 practical steps" toward implementing Article VI agreed to at the 2000 NPT Review Conference. Certain commitments, including a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the proposed fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT), were made in 1995 by the nuclear-weapon states as part of a package to obtain the NPT's indefinite extension, so it is difficult not to see fulfilling this bargain as important to the ongoing health of the NPT. Indeed, Jayantha Dhanapala, president of the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference, has written that "[t]he extension of the NPT was achieved largely because the long-stalled [CTBT], generally seen as the litmus test of nuclear disarmament, was close to adoption."[15] Asked in a private survey what steps nuclear-weapon states could best take to demonstrate their commitment to disarmament, diplomats from 16 non-nuclear-weapon states prioritized the CTBT and FMCT, followed by further nuclear stockpile reductions.[16]

Apparently there has been little direct connection between U.S. nuclear weapons policy and decisions taken by Iran or North Korea to move toward or away from nuclear weapons. If anything, the historical evidence is for an anti-correlation because these countries vigorously pursued their programs during the same period that the United States substantially cut the size of its nuclear arsenal and pursued little nuclear modernization. During this same period, however, countries such as Argentina and Brazil moved away from nuclear weapons programs. An analysis of nearly 20 cases of nuclear reversal since 1945 identifies a range of factors that have been important in U.S. efforts to achieve the reversal of nuclear weapons aspirations, including the creation of a norm against proliferation and the U.S. exercise of restraint in its own nuclear strategy.[17]

Certain U.S. allies could plausibly be pushed toward proliferation if they became sufficiently worried about the medium-term credibility of U.S. security assurances. There is also the argument, presented in the leaked portions of the Bush administration's 2001 Nuclear Posture Review and its 2002 National Security Strategy, that various military capabilities, including nuclear weapons capabilities, might dissuade certain countries either from choosing to proliferate or from attempting to match the United States in symmetric capabilities. Claims about the influence of U.S. nuclear weapons on different countries' proliferation decisions point in many directions at once.

Time to Disaggregate

Clearer thinking about the proliferation-relevant effects of U.S. nuclear weapons policy would be helped by disaggregating categories of countries that may be influenced by U.S. decisions. In doing so, we may find that some steps toward nuclear reductions bring with them pressures both against and for nuclear proliferation, depending on the different countries being considered. At the least, we need to understand this landscape for the purpose of risk analysis for any proposed steps. More expansively, the United States needs a comprehensive strategy that seeks to maximize nonproliferation effects and to minimize any proliferation drivers of its nuclear weapons policy. It may be necessary to supplement particular steps taken to reduce the salience of nuclear weapons in U.S. foreign policy-steps taken, at least in part, to counter proliferation-with accompanying efforts to offset any resulting pressure toward proliferation.

A conceptual first step is to divide states into four categories. Of course, in the end, countries will need to be addressed on an individual basis. A Brazilian diplomat recently remarked that "[t]here are no clean quid pro quos because nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states can't be organized into blocs."[18] Nevertheless, even the simple typology of four categories of states demonstrates the need to look across a range of states and their relationships to the nonproliferation regime, rather than exclusively emphasizing any one category.

In particular, when assessing the proliferation effects of changes in U.S. nuclear weapons policy, it will be useful to consider the impact on the following four categories of states: (1) the current nuclear powers; (2) determined proliferators; (3) nations relying on U.S. security assurances; and (4) other non-nuclear-weapon states. We should also consider two cross-cutting categories: states that have previously suspended nuclear weapons programs but are technically capable of reversing this decision; and the nuclear supplier states.

Current Nuclear Powers

It will be necessary to assess the role of U.S. nuclear weapons and use doctrine, including the role of U.S. ballistic missile defense programs, on the "vertical" proliferation and nuclear doctrines of the other nuclear powers, including the other four NPT-recognized nuclear-weapon states (China, France, Russia, and the United Kingdom) as well as India, Israel, and Pakistan. This is a vast topic. Specific important issues would include the interaction between U.S. nuclear policy and Chinese strategic plans, the ongoing evolution of the U.S.-Russian strategic relationship, and the influence that U.S. nuclear use doctrine may have on other countries' doctrinal choices.

Beyond issues of vertical proliferation lies the extent to which U.S. nuclear weapons policy influences other nuclear powers' decisions regarding "horizontal" proliferation, decisions that range from the establishment and enforcement of their own physical protection and export control regimes to their participation in multilateral initiatives and processes and their willingness to support particular actions, such as sanctions against countries that appear to be in pursuit of nuclear weapons. To date, advances in physical protection and export controls among the nuclear powers apparently have been somewhat insulated from issues of nuclear weapons posture.

Determined Proliferators

A determined proliferator is a country that appears to be making a serious effort toward nuclear weapons or nuclear weapons capability. "Determined" is not meant to be synonymous with "inevitable" or even "implacable." The country's policy may prove to be reversible, as was the case for Libya.

There is something close to a consensus among U.S. commentators that states such as Iran or North Korea are not strongly directly affected in their pursuit of nuclear weapons options by the details of U.S. nuclear weapons policy. This undermines some hopes for dissuasion, for example as expressed in the 2001 Nuclear Posture Review, which reportedly stated that U.S. military forces, including nuclear forces, would be used to "dissuade adversaries from undertaking military programs or operations that could threaten U.S. interests or those of allies and friends."[19] Evidently, neither Iran nor North Korea were dissuaded from their nuclear programs by U.S. nuclear capabilities, although fears of U.S. military action may have played a role in the Clinton administration winning North Korean support for the 1994 Agreed Framework and in driving the programmatic and geographical diversity of Iran's nuclear initiatives. Libya's long and complicated decision to renounce its WMD programs seems to have been influenced by fear of U.S. military capabilities, although there is little evidence that U.S. nuclear weapons specifically played an important role. [20]

The United States has repeatedly demonstrated its willingness to use its conventional forces as a coercive or even regime-changing tool. Famously, after the end of the Persian Gulf War in 1991, India's chief of army staff was quoted saying that the lesson of the war was "[d]on't fight the Americans without nuclear weapons." [21] Indeed, there is a commonly expressed U.S. view inside and outside the Bush administration that overwhelming U.S. conventional capabilities have provided a stronger driver for nuclear proliferation than nuclear weapons. [22]

The remaining question is the extent to which countries that are already nuclear powers or that are pursuing nuclear weapons or a nuclear weapons option can be influenced indirectly by the overall strength of the nonproliferation regime and in particular by actions initiated or supported by non-nuclear-weapon states-parties to the NPT.

Assured Nations

A key disagreement in U.S. thinking about the nonproliferation regime is whether the regime is more threatened by a failure of U.S. leadership with respect to NPT Article VI obligations or by a failure of U.S. assurance policy, i.e., the confidence that regional friends and allies have in U.S. security commitments and ultimately the U.S. nuclear umbrella. The U.S. nuclear deterrent assurance provides an important reason why Japan has not pursued its own nuclear weapons capability, even while its stockpile of plutonium provides it with a hedge. [23] The ISAB "is convinced that a lessening of the U.S. nuclear umbrella could very well trigger a [nuclear proliferation] cascade in East Asia and the Middle East."[24] A survey undertaken in 2006 by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency concluded that U.S. extended nuclear deterrence was less critical now to many countries that relied on U.S. security assurances during the Cold War, but that extended deterrence was still seen as "essential to security" by Australia, Japan, Turkey, and new NATO members. [25] Were just one power nudged toward a nuclear weapons acquisition decision by changes in U.S. nuclear weapons policy, that would be a risk sufficient to merit serious concern and mitigating steps.

Other Non-Nuclear-Weapon States

The vast majority of non-nuclear-weapon states that are signatories to the NPT are not under specific U.S. security assurances and are also unlikely to pursue nuclear weapons on their own. They nevertheless may play a crucial role in the overall health of the nonproliferation regime, whether through the vigor with which they adopt and implement UN Security Council Resolution 1540, requiring all countries to implement improvements in the control of WMD-related technologies; their willingness to adopt versions of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) 1997 Model Additional Protocol for expanded nuclear inspections and monitoring; or their willingness to support sanctions or other steps against determined proliferators and thus influence those and other countries' decisions.

There has been too little empirical work dedicated to understanding what role U.S. nuclear weapons policy actually plays in these states' nonproliferation decisions. Disentangling rhetoric from reality and being conscious of how discovered answers to this question may depend on the preferences of the analyst asking the question or on the bureaucratic institution the non-nuclear-weapon-state official represents, may prove especially challenging. For example, foreign ministry officials might be more likely to blame pursuit of nuclear weapons on U.S. nuclear weapons policy and Article VI failings, whereas individuals working on the technical program within an energy or defense ministry might be motivated by quite different drivers.

A subset of these countries is especially influential and demands the greatest study. Within the New Agenda Coalition, these include Egypt and South Africa. [26] South Africa, for example, is estimated to hold more than 300 kilograms of weapons-grade highly enriched uranium (HEU) in storage at Pelindaba, under IAEA monitoring. [27] Because it has built and then dismantled half a dozen nuclear weapons, it must be considered a latent nuclear power. It cautioned in 2005 that although proliferation concerns may require improved controls on peaceful nuclear energy, the NPT is "not an à la carte menu from which states parties may choose their preferences" and that "[t]here is a growing concern that while demands are being made for non-nuclear-weapon states to agree to new measures in the name of non-proliferation, concrete actions towards nuclear disarmament are neglected."[28] Its representative on the IAEA Board of Governors repeated this formulation in 2006 in the context of global efforts to reduce civilian use and availability of HEU, a fundamental nonproliferation objective.[29]

A recent advisory commission to the IAEA, chaired by former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo and including members from 17 other countries, concluded that "progress toward disarmament, or the lack of it, will deeply affect the success of the IAEA's nonproliferation mission" and warned that many non-nuclear-weapon states are reluctant to implement the 1997 Model Additional Protocol, phase out HEU, or enter into multilateral fuel-cycle arrangements without further progress on nuclear disarmament. [30] Diplomats of U.S. allies, including Australia, Canada, Germany, and Japan, have "resoundingly" stated in anonymous interviews that progress in disarmament measures, taken to include the CTBT and FMCT, would make it easier for them to work for progress on nonproliferation with the developing countries represented by the Nonaligned Movement. [31] The same message was concluded from a broader survey of written material complemented with individual and group discussions conducted by SAIC. [32] Note that Australian and Japanese officials have also indicated the importance of the U.S. extended deterrent. This either illustrates different views co-existing within a government's bureaucracies or shows that these countries view at least some important steps in nuclear disarmament as compatible with maintaining a credible extended deterrent.

In addition to the four categories of states just considered, cross-cutting categories should be considered. One such category is the list of nuclear-capable states, either those nearly 50 states that have the industrial and engineering capacity to pursue nuclear weapons [33] or that subset that once pursued nuclear weapons but subsequently reversed direction. [34] Outside the determined proliferators category, assuming that nuclear transfer can be prevented, these states are those of most direct concern when considering the effects of U.S. nuclear weapons policy on proliferation decisions. Similarly, the nuclear supplier states are of great interest with respect to the role of U.S. nuclear weapons policy on decisions to proliferate relevant technology. Increasingly, states that are not traditional suppliers (recalling the Malaysian company Scomi Precision Engineering's role in the A.Q. Khan nuclear smuggling network, for example) may be important as well. [35]


There is a clear and powerful diplomatic connection, embodied in NPT Article VI and in that treaty's indefinite extension, between U.S. and other permanent Security Council members' nuclear weapons policy and nuclear nonproliferation. The Article VI connection, however, only captures part of the story. With respect to certain states, U.S. moves toward nuclear disarmament may have little influence on proliferation objectives or, in some cases, might even provide pressure toward proliferation. This does not mean that substantial reductions in U.S. nuclear weapons or other steps, such as CTBT ratification, consistent with Article VI should not be pursued. The existing evidence is that these steps would advance U.S. nonproliferation objectives with non-nuclear-weapon states, although some, such as CTBT ratification, are viewed as long overdue and are unlikely to lead directly to further movement on nonproliferation by the non-nuclear-weapon states. [36] Rather, it means that as the United States does so, it should be clear about what it hopes to achieve, be clear about what such steps will not achieve, and pay close attention to the mitigation of any proliferation risks.

The Bush administration's nuclear posture gave the impression overseas of having expanded the potential circumstances under which and the countries against whom nuclear weapons might be used. [37] This posture clearly carries its own proliferation risks, by alienating potential partners in the struggle against proliferation within the NPT framework and signaling to all the ongoing salience of nuclear weapons in foreign policy. National security objectives of the new U.S. administration should include mitigating these risks as part of a careful overall change in nuclear posture. A framework for the systematic analysis of proliferation consequences should be part of a comprehensive strategy that seeks to maximize nonproliferation effects and minimize any proliferation drivers of U.S. nuclear weapons policy.

Christopher F. Chyba is a professor of astrophysics and international affairs at Princeton University and served on the National Security Council staff in the first Clinton administration. With Ambassador George Bunn, he is editor of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy: Confronting Today's Threats (2006). An earlier version of this paper was presented at a Stanley Foundation discussion on July 31, 2008.




1. National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, Pub. L. No. 110-181, Sec. 1070, 122 Stat. 3, 327 (2008).
2. Janne E. Nolan, An Elusive Consensus: Nuclear Weapons and American Security After the Cold War (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 1999).
3. George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger, and Sam Nunn, “A World Free of Nuclear Weapons,” The Wall Street Journal, January 4, 2007, p. A15.
4. George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger, and Sam Nunn, “Toward a Nuclear-Free World,” The Wall Street Journal, January 15, 2008, p. A13.
5. Sam Nunn, “The Race Between Cooperation and Catastrophe” (speech, American Academy, Berlin, June 12, 2008), p. 2.
6. Sidney Drell and James Goodby, “The Reality: A Goal of a World Without Nuclear Weapons Is Essential,” The Washington Quarterly, Vol. 31, No. 3 (Summer 2008), p. 30.
7. George Perkovich et al., Universal Compliance: A Strategy for Nuclear Security (Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment, 2005), p. 150.
8. Harold Brown and John Deutch, “The Nuclear Disarmament Fantasy,” The Wall Street Journal, November 19, 2007, p. 9.
9. “An Assessment of the Impact of Repeal of the Prohibition on Low Yield Warhead Development on the Ability of the United States to Achieve Its Nonproliferation Objectives,” March 2004 (report submitted to Congress in response to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004) (hereinafter PLYWD report).
10. Stephen Rademaker, “Blame America First,” The Wall Street Journal, May 7, 2007, p. 15.
11. Kathleen Bailey et al., “White Paper on the Necessity of the U.S. Nuclear Deterrent,” August 15, 2007.
12. International Security Advisory Board (ISAB), “Report on Discouraging a Cascade of Nuclear Weapons States,” October 19, 2007, p. 23.
13. China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States are the nuclear-weapon states recognized by the treaty. All other parties are non-nuclear-weapon states under the treaty. Only four countries (India, Israel, North Korea, and Pakistan) are not parties to the treaty. Article VI of the NPT reads, in full, “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”
14. The NPT’s three bargains are often described to be (1) a bargain between the non-nuclear-weapon states and the nuclear-weapon states that the former will not acquire nuclear weapons (Article II) but the latter will ultimately give them up (Article VI); (2) a bargain between the non-nuclear-weapon states and the nuclear-weapon states that the former will not acquire nuclear weapons and will submit to safeguards and verification to ensure that that is so (Article III), but nevertheless retain an “inalienable right...to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes” and “have the right to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy” (Article IV); and (3) an implicit bargain among the non-nuclear-weapon states themselves that each will forgo nuclear weapons, provided the others do so. This last understanding alleviates the “prisoner’s dilemma” that each non-nuclear-weapon state faces in deciding to forgo a powerful military technology.
15. Jayantha Dhanapala, “Fulfill and Strengthen the Bargain,” Arms Control Today, June 2008, pp. 14-16.
16. Deepti Choubey, “Are New Nuclear Bargains Attainable?” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, October 2008, pp. 15-17.
17. Ariel E. Levite, “Never Say Never Again: Nuclear Reversal Revisited,” International Security, Vol. 27, No. 3 (Winter 2002/03), pp. 59-88.
18. Choubey, “Are New Nuclear Bargains Attainable?” p. 3.
19. “Nuclear Posture Review [leaked excerpts],” January 8, 2002, www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/policy/dod/npr.htm.
20. For a discussion of the drivers for the Libyan decision, see Bruce W. Jentleson and Christopher A. Whytock, “Who ‘Won’ Libya? The Force-Diplomacy Debate and Its Implications for Theory and Policy,” International Security, Vol. 30, No. 3 (Winter 2005/06), pp. 47-86.
21. Patrick J. Garrity, “Why the Gulf War Still Matters: Foreign Perspectives on the War and the Future of International Security,” Center for National Security Studies, July 1993, p. xiv.
22. See, e.g., Kurt M. Campbell and Robert J. Einhorn, “Avoiding the Tipping Point: Concluding Observations,” in The Nuclear Tipping Point, ed. Kurt M. Campbell, Robert J. Einhorn, and Mitchell B. Reiss (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2004), p. 323. See also PLYWD report.
23. Kurt M. Campbell and Tsuyoshi Sunohara, “Japan: Thinking the Unthinkable,” in The Nuclear Tipping Point, ed. Kurt M. Campbell, Robert J. Einhorn, and Mitchell B. Reiss (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2004), p. 236; Hajime Izumi and Katsuhisa Furukawa, “Not Going Nuclear: Japan’s Response to North Korea’s Nuclear Test,” Arms Control Today, June 2007, pp. 6-11.
24. ISAB, “Report on Discouraging a Cascade of Nuclear Weapons States,” p. 23.
25. Lewis A. Dunn et al., “Foreign Perspectives on U.S. Nuclear Policy and Posture: Insights, Issues and Implications,” DTRA01-03-D-0017, TI-18-05-21, December 12, 2006.
26. The New Agenda Coalition comprises Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and Sweden. This group of middle-power countries is credited with driving the 13 steps agreement at the 2000 NPT Review Conference.
27. David Albright, Frans Berkhout, and William Walker, Plutonium and Highly Enriched Uranium 1996: World Inventories, Capabilities and Policies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), p. 391.
28. “Statement by the Republic of South Africa on the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy (Main Committee III), New York, 2-17 May 2005,” www.dfa.gov.za/docs/speeches/2005/mint0822a.htm.
29. Abdul Minty, “South African Perspectives on Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU)” (statement, International Symposium on Highly Enriched Uranium, Oslo, June 19-20, 2006), www.nrpa.no/symposium/documents/Minty%20HEU%20Oslo%20June%202006.pdf.
30. “Reinforcing the Global Nuclear Order for Peace and Prosperity: The Role of the IAEA to 2020 and Beyond,” May 2008, pp. 15-16, www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/News/PDF/2020report0508.pdf.
31. Choubey, “Are New Nuclear Bargains Attainable?” pp. 17-18.
32. Dunn et al., “Foreign Perspectives on U.S. Nuclear Policy and Posture.”
33. See Jacques E.C. Hymans, The Psychology of Nuclear Proliferation: Identity, Emotions, and Foreign Policy (Cambridge: CUP, 2006), p. 4. For a discussion of the criteria comprising “nuclear-capable,” see Stephen M. Meyer, The Dynamics of Nuclear Proliferation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984), app. B.
34. Levite, “Never Say Never Again.”
35. Chaim Braun and Christopher F. Chyba, “Proliferation Rings: New Challenges to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime,” International Security, Vol. 29, No. 3 (Fall 2004), pp. 5-49.
36. Choubey, “Are New Nuclear Bargains Attainable?”
37. See Dunn et al., “Foreign Perspectives on U.S. Nuclear Policy and Posture.”



The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act requires the next secretary of defense, in consultation with the secretaries of energy and state, to conduct a comprehensive review of the nuclear weapons posture of the United States. (Continue)

IAEA Report Raises Suspicions on Syrian Site

Peter Crail

A Syrian facility destroyed by Israel last year could have been a nuclear reactor, a Nov. 19 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report determined. Although the IAEA has not completed its investigation, its early findings appear to support U.S. claims made in April that Syria was constructing a nuclear reactor in secret with North Korean assistance at a site called Dair al Zour. (See ACT, May 2008.)

According to the report, the investigation faces serious challenges due to the bombing of the facility by Israel in September 2007 and the subsequent bulldozing and construction over the site by Syria. (See ACT, November 2007.) Moreover, due to the lack of information provided to the agency regarding the facility, IAEA inspectors did not arrive until nearly 10 months after the facility was destroyed.

In spite of these challenges, the IAEA has uncovered evidence that potentially points to undeclared Syrian nuclear activities, including the presence of uranium particles found at the site and Syrian procurement activities consistent with the construction of a reactor.

IAEA Discovers Traces of Uranium

One of the key pieces of evidence uncovered during the IAEA inspection of Dair al Zour was the presence of a "significant number of natural uranium particles" in some of the samples taken from the site. The agency noted that this uranium was produced through chemical processing and was therefore man-made. Speaking in regard to the uranium particles, a senior UN official said during a Nov. 19 background briefing, "[T]hat kind of material should not be there." The official further noted that the size of the particles was "extremely small," making it more difficult to tell its exact composition and therefore its potential purpose.

The possible origin of any man-made uranium particles is far from clear. Syria pursued a small-scale effort to extract yellowcake uranium from phosphates in technical cooperation programs with the IAEA during the 1980s and 1990s. Yellowcake uranium is chemically processed uranium ore and is the result in one of the first steps in manufacturing nuclear fuel.

According to the agency, financial difficulties prevented these uranium-extraction projects from moving beyond the experimental stage. It is unclear whether Syria has pursued any undeclared efforts to fuel a nuclear reactor. An unclassified 2005 CIA report to Congress judged that, "in 2004 Syria continued to develop civilian nuclear capabilities which may also be potentially applicable to a weapons program," including uranium-extraction technology. This judgment did not appear in subsequent annual unclassified reports to Congress in 2006 and 2007.

If the U.S. intelligence assessment of the design of the alleged Syrian reactor is correct, such a plant would be able to operate on natural uranium fuel, which requires only limited steps beyond yellowcake uranium to purify it into uranium dioxide and fashion it into metal fuel rods. During an April 24 briefing, U.S. intelligence agencies claimed that the facility was a reactor based on the design of North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear plant. The senior UN official surmised that the uranium particles could have been reactor fuel but that further analysis was needed to come to any conclusion.

Damascus claims that the uranium came from Israel. In a Nov. 11 response to the agency's findings, Syria alleged that "the only explanation" for the presence of the uranium particles "is that they were contained in the missiles that were dropped from the Israeli planes onto the building."

Although some types of munitions contain depleted uranium, the senior UN official stated that "not one single depleted uranium particle has been found so far."

Activities Consistent With a Reactor

A number of other verification activities undertaken by the agency have also suggested that the Dair al Zour facility was a nuclear reactor. Making use of available satellite imagery of the facility prior to its destruction, the agency assessed that its size and layout were similar to those of a reactor. The IAEA also noted that a pumping facility on the Euphrates River that still remains after the facility's destruction provides a pumping capacity "adequate for a reactor [of] the size referred to" by U.S. intelligence.

The agency has also sought clarification regarding Syrian procurement activities that the IAEA judged "could support the construction and operation of a nuclear reactor." The report cautioned that it was possible that such equipment was intended for a non-nuclear use.

Lastly, the report stated that the agency has requested visits to three additional sites in Syria that may have installations "of relevance to the activities" at Dair al Zour. The IAEA determined from satellite imagery that Syria landscaped these sites and removed large containers shortly after the agency's request. The senior UN official noted Nov. 19 that the agency did not have any information suggesting that any of these locations were involved in producing fuel for a reactor or reprocessing spent nuclear fuel from a reactor.

A reprocessing capability is necessary to extract plutonium from spent nuclear fuel to use in nuclear weapons. The U.S. intelligence community judged that the Dair al Zour facility was intended to produce this spent fuel. The 2005 CIA report assessed that Syria was developing hot cell facilities, which can be used to extract plutonium from spent nuclear fuel.

Investigation Hampered by Bombing, Syria

The agency report stressed that its investigation was "severely hampered" by Israel's bombing of the facility and "the late provision of information" regarding the site. Following the destruction of the facility and media speculation that it was a nuclear reactor, IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei called on any state with information regarding the facility to share it with the agency. Nearly eight months had passed between the time that Israel destroyed the facility and when the United States provided information to the IAEA in April.

In the months following the bombing, Syria plowed over the site and erected new buildings whose purpose is unclear. The agency stated that both the bombing and the removal of the remains has made the investigation "more difficult and complex."

The IAEA has also been hampered by Syria's failure to fully cooperate with its requests. Although Damascus provided full access to the Dair al Zour site, it has not fulfilled the agency's requests to turn over documentation regarding the purpose of the destroyed facility to back up claims that the building was a military installation of a non-nuclear function. Moreover, Syria has rebuffed agency requests for additional visits to Syria and inspections of the three additional sites.

Despite the current difficulties faced by the agency in carrying out its investigation, the senior UN official said Nov. 19 that the agency is unlikely to carry out a special inspection in the near future. Special inspections invoke a rarely used legal authority mandating that a state provide the agency with additional access to information and locations beyond those covered in routine inspections. This authority may be invoked either in cases in which there is the possibility of a loss or removal of nuclear material or in which the IAEA cannot ensure that safeguards are applied to all nuclear activities and material in a state based on the information that state has provided. The IAEA Board of Governors determined in 1992 that special inspections should only occur on "rare occasions."

The board has invoked its special inspections authority twice in its history. The first was carried out in 1992 at the invitation of Romania to clarify nuclear activities carried out under the ousted regime of Nicolai Ceausescu. In the second case, it mandated a special inspection in North Korea in 1993 following a discrepancy in North Korea's nuclear accounting. Pyongyang refused to comply with the inspection, resulting in the board referring the issue to the UN Security Council and a tense standoff.

In addition to the agency's investigation, the United States has stated that it will pursue answers regarding any North Korean involvement in a Syrian nuclear program within six-way talks on Pyongyang's nuclear program. (See ACT, October 2007.) North Korea has been reluctant to discuss this topic but has committed to Washington that no such assistance is ongoing and that none will occur in the future. (See ACT, July/August 2008.)


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