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

LOOKING BACK: The Nuclear Arms Control Legacy of Ronald Reagan


By Daryl G. Kimball

Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States, died on June 5, 2004, at his home in California. His presidency spanned one of the most tumultuous periods in U.S.-Soviet relations and the history of the nuclear arms race. This article summarizes the Reagan record on nuclear weapons and arms control with the Soviet Union. Some parts of the essay are drawn from “Arms Control and National Security: An Introduction,” published by the Arms Control Association in 1989.

Ronald Reagan came to the presidency as a long-time critic of arms control and detente with the Soviet Union, the preeminent U.S. strategic adversary during his eight years in office. Throughout the 1970s, Reagan had argued that the United States was falling behind the Soviets in the nuclear competition and that U.S. long-range ballistic missiles were becoming increasingly vulnerable to Soviet attack. During his 1980 election campaign against President Jimmy Carter, Reagan contended that the unratified Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty II (SALT II) was “fatally flawed.” As president, Reagan accelerated strategic nuclear modernization plans and launched modern efforts to build a national missile defense system through his Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), raising tensions with the Soviet Union and prompting widespread public concern about the possibility of war between world’s two major nuclear superpowers.

Yet, Reagan’s early opposition to U.S.-Soviet arms control negotiations gradually gave way to a more conciliatory approach that was consistent with his growing concern about the threat of mutual assured destruction. By the time he had left office, Reagan had overcome the reluctance of many of his closest advisers to engage with the Soviets and had forged an enduring diplomatic partnership with Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev. That partnership, combined with strong U.S. and European public pressure for nuclear restraint, led to some of the most sweeping arms control proposals in history and helped usher in a new age in U.S.-Russian relations.

Reagan and Gorbachev eventually concluded the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) agreement and established the foundation for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which was concluded in 1991. Nevertheless, the full promise of Reagan’s and Gorbachev’s proposals for radical nuclear weapon reductions remain unfulfilled. U.S. and Russian nuclear forces, although smaller, still confront each other, and many of the strategic weapons systems promoted by Reagan remain in place or have been revived.

INF and the Reagan Buildup

Soon after taking office, and under pressure from NATO allies, the administration resumed talks to limit intermediate-range nuclear forces based in Europe, a process that had begun under Carter. At the outset of these negotiations, the United States proposed the elimination of all U.S. and Soviet intermediate-range (1,000-5,500 kilometers) nuclear weapons on a global basis, the so-called zero-option, which the Soviets rejected. The two sides would gradually move closer to an INF agreement over the next six years.

Reagan’s first nuclear initiative, however, went in the opposite direction. In October 1981, he unveiled his plan for a major, strategic modernization program to add thousands of additional warheads and a variety of new delivery systems to the U.S. arsenal, while improving U.S. command and control capabilities. The strategic package, which in large part built on previous programs, called for a big increase in bomber forces, including 100 B-lBs and the development of stealth bombers, a new land-based 10-warhead strategic missile (the MX), and new intermediate-range missile deployments in Europe. In addition, he proposed deploying more than 3,000 air-launched cruise missiles on bombers. Reagan called for accelerated development and deployment of the Trident II D-5 submarine-launched ballistic missile and sea-launched cruise missiles.

The MX missile was among the most technically and politically controversial programs of the first years of the administration. The MX was more precise and more powerful but was considered by many to be a destabilizing first-strike weapon. Due to strong bipartisan opposition, the original plan to shuttle MX missiles on an extensive rail network in the western United States was scrapped. In November 1982, after considering more than 30 basing plans, the Reagan administration proposed deployment of 100 MX missiles in fixed silos.

The nuclear buildup also led to increased activity at more than a dozen major aging and unsafe nuclear-weapon production plants and called for continued nuclear testing. Under Reagan’s watch, spending on nuclear weapons research, development, testing, and production totaled $39.5 billion (in constant 1996 dollars), a 39 percent increase over the previous eight-year period.[1] The cost of environmental remediation at these sites now exceeds $6 billion annually.

The aims of the U.S. strategic buildup were twofold: to reduce U.S. vulnerability by expanding the number and diversity of nuclear weapons and to increase Soviet vulnerability so that the United States could acquire the capability to fight and win an extended nuclear war. The prospect of an arms race seemed less frightening to Reagan, who said in 1978 that “the Soviet Union cannot possibly match us in an arms race,” than to his predecessors. Continued Soviet missile programs and a skyrocketing U.S. budget deficit, however, called into question the validity of this judgment.

The proposed buildup was based on the controversial notion that U.S. nuclear superiority would provide greater military and political leverage vis-à-vis the Soviets. The Pentagon’s 1984-88 Defense Guidance document, which was leaked to reporters in 1982, stated that, in the event of nuclear war, “[t]he United States must prevail and be able to force the Soviet Union to seek earliest termination of hostilities on terms favorable to the United States.” To many observers, this statement appeared to reflect a belief that nuclear war could be won, a view that Reagan and his top aides had attributed to Soviet leaders. In public statements, Reagan denied he held this view and said, “Everybody would be a loser if there’s a nuclear war.”

Nevertheless, public concern about the possibility of nuclear war grew as the superpower relationship degenerated into exchanges of hostile rhetoric. An NBC/Associated Press public opinion survey in December 1981 found that 76 percent of Americans believed that nuclear war was “likely” within a few years, an increase from 57 percent just six months earlier. Many arms control advocates argued that Reagan was using dubious claims of Soviet superiority and resisting calls to re-engage the Soviets on strategic nuclear arms control talks in order to achieve U.S. nuclear strategic superiority. They said the effort would only backfire, spurring the arms race to new heights. Moreover, critics of the Reagan buildup feared that an effort to make Soviet forces vulnerable could increase Soviet incentives to launch a first strike in a crisis.

By early 1982, a broad-based citizens’ campaign had coalesced behind the idea of a verifiable, bilateral freeze on nuclear weapons development, deployment, and testing. That year, more than 200 city councils and nine state legislatures passed resolutions endorsing the freeze and, in November, voters in nine out of 10 states passed freeze referenda. Although it was sharply criticized by the White House, growing congressional and popular support for the freeze proposal helped put public pressure on the Reagan administration to initiate strategic arms talks with the Soviets.

Strategic Arms Control

In mid-1982, Reagan agreed to resume strategic nuclear arms reduction talks, dubbed START. The initial U.S. START proposal required much greater cuts in Soviet than in U.S. forces, especially land-based missiles, which comprised the bulk of the Soviet strategic nuclear arsenal. The proposal also omitted constraints in areas where the United States held a lead, such as strategic bombers and air-launched cruise missiles. The Soviet Union rejected the U.S. approach and proposed further reductions within the SALT II framework. Two years of fruitless negotiations followed. Then, in 1983, as the United States began deployment of Pershing II and ground-launched cruise missiles in Europe, the Soviet Union left the bargaining table.

Meanwhile, Reagan’s revised MX deployment plan remained unpopular in Congress. Reagan responded by appointing a commission on U.S. strategic nuclear forces, led by Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft. The commission would later endorse MX deployment and a proposal pushed by some congressional Democrats for research for a smaller intercontinental ballistic missile with one or possibly two or three warheads. The Scowcroft commission also took issue with the claim of hard-liners in the Reagan camp who charged that U.S. forces were vulnerable to a Soviet first-strike and urged the administration to pursue a more flexible and pragmatic approach to the strategic arms talks.

According to some historians of the era, Reagan became increasingly disturbed about the possibility of an inadvertent nuclear exchange after U.S. nuclear war planning exercises in 1983 and 1984, which led the Soviets to upgrade their nuclear alert level. This incident rattled Reagan, who said in a January 1984 speech that the highest priority in U.S.-Soviet relations should be reducing the risk of nuclear war and reducing nuclear arsenals. In a speech delivered to the United Nations just six weeks before the 1984 presidential election, Reagan positioned himself as a peacemaker by calling for a new round of comprehensive arms negotiations with the Soviets.[2]

Star Wars

With the arms talks deadlocked and public and congressional support for a nuclear weapons freeze mounting, Reagan initiated a new chapter in the strategic debate on March 23, 1983, when he announced his aim to develop space-based anti-ballistic missile systems that would render nuclear weapons “impotent and obsolete.” The administration would subsequently call the comprehensive research effort SDI, but it was quickly dubbed “Star Wars” because of the systems’ planned reliance on high-technology laser and beam weapons deployed in space.

In recent years, Reagan administration officials have claimed that the actual technical success of such a system was unimportant; what really mattered was convincing the Soviets that they would have to make unsustainable technological and financial commitments to keep pace with the United States. The Kremlin would therefore be more amenable to arms control agreements. Reagan’s national security adviser, Robert C. McFarlane, claimed that the administration “primarily committed to launching it with the expectation that we would never have to build it because the Soviets would come our way in the arms control setting.”

That was not the public case made by the administration at the time. Reagan and Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger repeatedly held out the promise of an anti-ballistic missile defense system that could provide a “security shield” to protect the population and eliminate the prevailing strategic situation of mutually assured destruction.

Critics of Star Wars asserted that these futuristic defenses would not work effectively, would stimulate a defensive and offensive arms race, and would make war more likely in a crisis by provoking a preemptive strike. SDI also threatened the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which was designed to constrain such a program and which would have to be abrogated or violated long before a deployment decision could be made.

To circumvent these constraints, the Reagan administration in October 1985 advanced a controversial reinterpretation of the ABM Treaty that would allow for the development and testing of space-based and other mobile ABM systems and components. This so-called broad interpretation actually contradicted the treaty, which prohibited the testing and development of space-based defenses and/or development of a nationwide missile defense system.

Twenty years and $124 billion since Reagan’s 1983 speech, the old strategic missile defense program continues[3] and the ABM Treaty is gone. Still far from being operationally effective and reliable, such defenses are now ostensibly designed to counter ballistic missile threats from smaller states, though Russia and China remain wary and ready to counter future deployments.

Nonproliferation Under Reagan

The Reagan administration’s efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons to other states were often secondary to countering the Soviet threat. Although his administration led the way in creating a missile export control organization (the Missile Technology Control Regime), efforts aimed at constraining Pakistan’s emerging nuclear weapons program proved too little, too late. Pakistan was able to leverage its support for anti-Soviet rebels in Afghanistan into a waiver of proliferation penalties and a grant of U.S. military assistance. In place of the penalties, the Reagan administration sought assurances from Pakistan’s military dictatorship that they would not enrich uranium to a level suitable for making nuclear weapons. By 1987, however, Pakistan had already produced enough highly enriched uranium for one or two nuclear bombs. By the 1990s, leading Pakistani nuclear scientists had developed a black-market nuclear trading network.

A New Partner and New Thinking

In January 1985, as the United States deployed new missiles in Europe, the Soviet Union agreed to Reagan’s proposal for resuming arms control negotiations on strategic, intermediate, and defensive weapons. In November 1985, Reagan held a summit meeting with the new Soviet premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, which was Reagan’s first with any top Soviet leader. The Geneva meeting brought a new note of civility to superpower relations but achieved no immediate results. Both sides continued publicly to advocate radical, presumably non-negotiable, solutions to the nuclear dilemma. At the same time, each side continued to develop and deploy new and more advanced weaponry.

In July 1985, Gorbachev proclaimed the first of several unilateral moratoria on Soviet nuclear testing. Despite congressional resolutions urging the start of negotiations on a comprehensive test ban treaty, Reagan did not reciprocate, believing that continued testing was crucial to nuclear modernization efforts and SDI. As a result, comprehensive test ban talks were delayed for another nine years. In January 1986, Gorbachev countered Reagan’s Star Wars initiative with a three-part plan for nuclear disarmament by the year 2000. Although the proposal was uniformly rejected by his administration, Reagan’s private response to his secretary of state, George Schultz, was, “Why wait until the end of the century for a world free of nuclear weapons?”[4]

Prospects for arms control received a major setback when, in May 1986, after several reports alleging Soviet treaty violations, Reagan renounced his previous “political commitment” to SALT I and II on strategic offensive arms, which led to a strong negative reaction from Congress and U.S. allies in Europe and, ironically, added to pressure for limitations on the nuclear buildup.

Meanwhile, the Reagan White House sought to respond to Gorbachev and counter the perception that the Soviet Union was leaning further forward to reduce the nuclear threat. Reagan proposed the abolition of all nuclear-armed missiles with the continued development of SDI, a proposal that was radical even if it would result in a balance of nuclear forces more favorable to the United States. The proposal was rejected by Gorbachev, but the two sides continued negotiations on nuclear arms reduction proposals.

Expectations ran high in the run-up to the Reykjavik summit of October 1986. To the horror of some Reagan advisers, the two leaders privately spoke of the elimination of all nuclear weapons. In the end, however, the meeting defined more modest areas of agreement and remaining problems for a new arms control regime. Although the two sides agreed in principle to the “zero-option” for no intermediate nuclear forces in Europe and to a halving of strategic offensive arms, the meeting deadlocked over the issue of strategic defenses and the proper interpretation of the ABM Treaty.

Closing the Deal

In early 1987, the Reagan administration intensified its efforts to make strategic defenses a key component of U.S. nuclear strategy. A formal move to adopt the new “broad” interpretation of the ABM Treaty and prepare for early deployment of SDI was seriously contemplated by the administration. At the same time, the political furor over the administration’s Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scheme led many in the White House to push for an arms control breakthrough that could revive Reagan’s sagging popularity.

At this critical juncture, Gorbachev’s flexibility helped achieve a breakthrough. Gorbachev decided to de-link the INF negotiations from the larger strategic discussions (including Soviet calls for limiting SDI to a research program) and essentially agreed to accept the zero-option position of the United States on intermediate-range missiles. Gorbachev’s shift was apparently informed by the growing sense that it would be many years before SDI could be deployed. This move set the stage for agreement on an INF Treaty that was signed at a Washington summit in December 1987 and entered into force six months later. The INF Treaty proved to be a political and strategic watershed that helped transform the U.S.-Soviet relationship. The pact established new verification provisions and eliminated an entire class of nuclear weapons, many of which had been deployed under Reagan’s watch.

Work on the draft strategic arms agreement continued during 1988 and at the next summit meeting in Moscow in late May and early June 1988. Despite the earlier success on intermediate-range nuclear forces, the sides failed to resolve remaining differences over the interpretation of the ABM Treaty and the terms of the offense/defense relationship under START. The START negotiations under Reagan would, however, lead to the eventual negotiation and signing of START I by Gorbachev and President George H. W. Bush in July 1991. By 2003, each side had reduced their deployed arsenals to the START ceiling of 6,000 warheads and eliminated many of the missiles and bombers affected by the treaty. Yet, Reagan’s “trust but verify” axiom of arms control has been abandoned in the latest U.S.-Russian strategic arms reduction agreement, which will lower deployments to no more than 2,200 warheads but will not require dismantlement of retired systems or new verification provisions.

Reagan’s mixed legacy has permitted rival claimants to offer divergent views of his role in the end of the Cold War and the easing of nuclear tensions in the 1990s. Some facts, however, are beyond dispute. Reagan presided over a massive nuclear buildup and launched an expensive effort to build a defense against strategic missiles, which exacerbated tensions with Moscow. His military policies catalyzed widespread anti-nuclear activism that increased the political impetus for nuclear arms control. Yet, Reagan’s unconventional leadership style and determination also allowed him to reach out to the Soviet leadership and relate to Gorbachev’s new and bold thinking. Together the two leaders set their nations on a path toward arms control arrangements that reflected their personal abhorrence for nuclear war and addressed domestic and international concern about where Cold War nuclear rivalry might eventually lead without such restraint.

ENDNOTES

1. Schwartz, Stephen, et al, Atomic Audit: the Cost and Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Since 1940. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 1998, Table A-2.

2. Powaski, Ronald E., Return to Armageddon: The United States and the Nuclear Arms Race 1981-1999. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

3, For fiscal years 1984-2004. Christopher Hellman, Council for a Livable World, personal conversation, June 2004.

4. Shultz, George P., Turmoil and Triumph: My Years as Secretary of State. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1993.

LOOKING BACK: The Nuclear Arms Control Legacy of Ronald Reagan

G-8 Summit Advances Bush Proposals

Gabrielle Kohlmeier


At a June 8-10 summit at Sea Island, Georgia, leaders of seven of the other richest countries in the world endorsed some but not all of the nonproliferation proposals that President George W. Bush offered earlier this year. The summit left the president with a mixed scorecard heading into the November U.S. presidential election and 2005 Review Conference on the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

In a Feb. 11 speech at the National Defense University, Bush had offered seven nonproliferation proposals. (See ACT, March 2004.) The summit’s nonproliferation “Action Plan” reflected some of these new initiatives, as well as some long-standing approaches to stemming the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and related delivery systems.

The Group of Eight (G-8) announced their intention to push for new Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) guidelines that would incorporate measures aimed at preventing sensitive items with proliferation potential from being exported to states “that may seek to use them for weapons purposes, or allow them to fall into terrorist hands.” The NSG is a voluntary export control regime now composed of 44 states, including all eight countries at the Sea Island summit. Its members promise to coordinate and restrict their nuclear trade.

Moreover, to forestall proliferation before those changes can be made, the G-8 agreed to a one-year moratorium on inaugurating any new transfers of enrichment or reprocessing equipment and technology transfers to additional states. This agreement makes headway toward Bush’s goal of permanently banning such exports to any states that do not already possess enrichment or reprocessing facilities. But by banning only new transfers, it still permits any pending transfers to continue to be carried out.

The seven other G-8 members—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, and the United Kingdom—endorsed Bush’s call for universal adherence to the 1997 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) model Additional Protocol, which empowers the IAEA to conduct more intrusive inspections and requires states to volunteer more information on their nuclear programs. The action plan asserts that the model Additional Protocol “must become an essential standard of nuclear supply arrangements.” By the end of 2005, the G-8 aims to achieve this goal by strengthening the NSG guidelines. Bush has suggested that date as a guideline by which time any countries that had not signed such an additional protocol be made ineligible for imports to their civilian nuclear programs.

The other G-8 countries lent their support to Bush’s proposal to establish a special committee of the IAEA Board of Governors, which will be responsible for preparing a “comprehensive plan for strengthened safeguards and verification.” The other countries were less willing, however, to endorse Bush’s proposal to prevent any state under investigation for proliferation violations from serving on the IAEA board. Instead, the action plan advised that “countries under investigation for non-technical violations of their nuclear nonproliferation or safeguards obligations should elect not to participate in decisions by the IAEA Board of Governors or the Special Committee regarding their own cases.”

The seven other countries welcomed Russia’s recent decision to join them in the Bush administration’s Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). They expressed support for continuing to expand PSI an informal collaboration of states using existing legal frameworks to interdict shipments of potential proliferation items.

In addition to new initiatives, the G-8 leaders re-emphasized the importance of various existing components of the nonproliferation regime and announced their intent “to help and encourage states in effectively implementing their obligations under the multilateral treaty regimes.” Specifically, the G-8 called on states to subscribe to the International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation, which obligates states to exercise maximum possible restraint in the development, testing, and deployment of ballistic missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The group called for universal adoption of the International Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources, approved by the IAEA Board of Governors last September. It said this initiative would “improve controls on radioactive sources to prevent their use by terrorists.” Further, the leaders reiterated support for UN Security Council Resolution 1540, which requires states to outlaw the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to nonstate actors by implementing domestic legislation controlling nuclear weapons-related material.

G-8 leaders urged all non-states-parties to join both the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The action plan explicitly expresses support for “the use of all fact-finding, verification, and compliance measures, including, if necessary, challenge inspections, as provided in the CWC.” If challenge inspections are utilized, this may mark progress for the CWC. Responding to a question during a March 2004 interview with Arms Control Today about the lack of challenge inspections performed under the CWC guidelines to date, ,Assistant Secretary of State Paula DeSutter alleged that European reluctance had contributed to the past failure to make use of the challenge provisions.

G-8 leaders continued to square off over fulfilling a $20 billion pledge they made in 2002 to combat nonproliferation in Russia and the other former Soviet republics, known as the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction. Bush and other administration officials had expressed their hope to get the $20 billion designated as a floor, or minimal amount to be pledged, rather than a maximum. However, the other countries refused to go along. Moreover, a report issued at the conference indicated that aside from the United States, which had pledged $1 billion per year, the G-8 members had fallen far short of their goals.

Still, there were some advances for the multinational effort. The G-8 members sought to boost their funding base by expanding the partnership to include new donor countries, including Australia, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Ireland, South Korea, and New Zealand.

Prior to the summit, U.S. government officials wanted to expand the partnership to new recipient countries, though Russia as well as some other G-8 countries raised objections, protesting that not enough had been accomplished yet in Russia to warrant the expansion of the partnership to other beneficiaries. (See ACT, June 2004.) Despite Bush’s apparent inability to get agreement for new recipients at the June 8-10 summit, Undersecretary of State John Bolton stated June 9 that he was reasonably confident that at least one other former Soviet republic would be formally inducted as a recipient country by the end of the year.

Although the Global Partnership was not formally expanded to include the former Eastern bloc, the G-8 countries did express their intent to expand the Global Partnership to fund new jobs for Libyan and Iraqi scientists with WMD expertise. In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee June 15, Bolton clarified that, although efforts would be coordinated through the Global Partnership, funds used for these ventures would be in addition to the $20 billion committed to nonproliferation projects in the former Soviet Union.

A number of obstacles besides lack of funding have hampered the progress of the Global Partnership. A key impediment has been the inability of donor countries to reach agreements with Russia on issues such as liability and tax exemptions. Some progress was apparently achieved along these lines at the summit, where Canada and Russia brokered a bilateral agreement that ended a two-year impasse.

At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing June 15 dealing with the ramifications of the G-8 Summit, some senators also questioned how much progress the new Sea Island initiatives would achieve. Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), the panel’s ranking Democrat, asserted that while the agreements and initiatives comprising the action plan sound like progress, he was circumspect as to whether significant new resources would be devoted to those agreements: “Too often, bright new initiatives turn out to be largely repackaging funds that are already in the budget.”.

Senator Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), testifying before the panel, acknowledged that positive agreements were announced but expressed disappointment in the outcome of the summit. “I have yet to hear that progress on nuclear nonproliferation was as dramatic as I had hoped or as dramatic as the world needs.”

 

 

 

 

Interview with Hans Blix

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On June 19, 2004, ACT Editor Miles Pomper, Nonproliferation Research Analyst Paul Kerr, and ACA Executive Director Daryl Kimball sat down to speak with Hans Blix, former director-general of the IAEA.

ACT: Can you tell us about the new Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Commission that you’re heading[1]? What are its objectives, its elements, its status?

Blix: The Swedish government gave me a free hand in putting the commission together, and said they will finance it, giving about $2 million, and asking for a report before the end of 2005. We’re going to commission 15 members, geographically spread, as they should be, [including]: [William] Perry from the U.S., and we have Gareth Evans, and we have one Chinese general [Pan Zhenqiang], and we have another Indian general [Vasantha Raghavan] and then we have some people you know well: Patricia Lewis, she is Irish-British, and Alyson Bailes who is the head of SIPRI.com, and Mr. [Marcos] de Azambuja, from Brazil, Prince El Hassan [bin Talal] from Jordan, and from Russia we have [Alexei] Arbatov, Jr. So it’s a good spread, and very competent….We had one meeting in Stockholm at the end of January. That was the inaugural meeting. We outlined then what kind of studies we want to have made before we proceed. A number of them have come in already and will be before the members, early this month. We have the next meeting in Vienna at the end of June, and that will be focusing on nuclear questions. The third meeting this year will be in Vancouver in November. So with a lot of studies and basic material, I think we will be able to go through a nuclear agenda. I have listed a number of items that I think would be desirable to discuss. I’m not stating what the view should be, that would be presumptuous with so many competent people on board. Then we will go on, of course, with the other weapons of mass destruction—chemical, biological, and missile. I am confident that we will come out with some separate memoranda, and if we agree on that even before, it doesn’t have to be all at the end, but it can also be something in between.

ACT: What do you hope to accomplish with this commission?

Blix: It’s an interesting fact that we have the NPT [nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty] Review Conference at the end of next spring, and the presidential election here in the middle of it all. I’m not sure that will affect our views, what’s to be desirable, but it might affect what could be doable, because it seems to me that there is a difference between what Mr. [presumptive Democratic presidential nominee John] Kerry is saying here, and what the administration has said so far. I have understood Mr. Kerry to say that he would not go along with further work on a new nuclear weapon, and that he would favor an FMCT [Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty][2]. I didn’t hear him say anything about the CTBT [Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty][3], but at least on the two first points I’ve read as to what he said, and I haven’t heard similar sounds coming out of the Bush administration so far.

One of my strong feelings is that we would need to get back to a dynamic work on the disarmament agenda. We have seen lot of suggestions and a lot of new things in the past year, and I welcome much of that—the PSI [Proliferation Security Initiative][4], the discussion about the fuel cycle, etcetera, using NSG {Nuclear Suppliers Group][5]. I have no problems with most of these things, but I think that we need to get back to the bigger issues of the [fissile] cut-off and the Comprehensive Test Ban. I find it politically puzzling that we have not been moving on this agenda. We were celebrating, or we were all seeing and recollecting the Reagan era, and Mr. Gorbachev was here in Washington, and recalled the ambitions that they had - to do away with nuclear weapons. I was at the opening of the Cold War and indeed the end of the Cold War was the greatest thing that has happened for disarmament. Tensions drive armament, and the de-tension, détente, helps to promote disarmament. And it did. Indeed, much has happened. You see the dismantling of weapons, and it’s nice that the problem is rather how to do away with plutonium [more] than anything else.

However, there still remains this fact that this disarmament process has stalled in Geneva for a number of years. There are to my knowledge, no big territorial or ideological issues at stake between great powers and continents or blocs, if there are any blocs any longer. We shall see, of course, more civil wars, we shall see more regional conflict in the world, but we do not see over the horizon any conflict between the blocs, and that being so, it is puzzling that we are stuck in the big disarmament process. A re-launching of the disarmament process would inject a new atmosphere. I’m not going so far as to contend that it would affect the North Korean situation or Iranian situation, but there would be a new atmosphere. It’s hard to work up a great enthusiasm … among the non-nuclear-weapon states at a time when you see a strong reluctance on the part of the U.S. at any rate to move ahead with the big issues that are stuck.

ACT: You mentioned the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty. What do you see as its particular utility?

Blix: I don’t see that anyone needs more enriched uranium today, nor do they need any plutonium today, and in fact, if I read Wolf (correctly) [Assistant Secretary of State John Wolf in the June issue of ACT[6]], here there isn’t any production, hasn’t been any production for a long while. If you take the FMCT and relink it to the uranium situation and to the North Korean situation, where we certainly would like to see an end to reprocessing in North Korea—reprocessing is not per se prohibited under the NPT, and in Iran you have enrichment, and that of course is not prohibited. But if we then say that we need—and I agree with that—a termination of enrichment in Iran, regardless of whether they aim for a weapon or not. I agree there is reason why one could be suspicious. But if we ask that this be terminated for good, and ask for their commitment to that effect, I think that will be easier to sell if at the same time we had an FMCT under which the great powers said “Fine, we will continue to enrich, but we will stop any enrichment, for highly enriched uranium.”

ACT: You mentioned CTBT. In the nonproliferation context, what are the other big disarmament issues that you think there’s opportunity for?

Blix: Well, Comprehensive Test Ban of course.

ACT: Why?

Blix: It would prevent any one of those who can now [from going] further in development of their programs, and it is safer than the situation in which we find ourselves. Of course, they can do a lot of things by computers now, we know that, but still it would be one more obstacle.

ACT: In a speech that you gave in Italy you mentioned a four-tier approach for keeping countries from developing nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. The first tier was reducing the incentives of states to acquire the weapons, then export controls, then international inspections, and finally the reduction of existing nuclear arsenals. Can you explain and elaborate on that a little bit more?

Blix: I’m probably known to the world mostly as an inspector, and I had that function at the IAEA. But I always felt that the first barrier to proliferation is the political one, and sometimes I feel that in the arms control community we tend to look at all these technical fixes, and the control of this material, and that’s fine—I’m not against all that. But let us look at what is the basic thing that drives countries to go for nuclear weapons, or get more of them. It’s security concerns. When you look at Iran, or you look at Israel, or you look at India, Pakistan, Iraq, certainly North Korea, you have to see what are the perceived security concerns they have?

In the case of North Korea, I think it’s absolutely clear that they have that concern. They have been talking about a non-aggression pact, using language that we had around the Stalinist period, and we laugh a little at. But when you look at what they want, it seems to me that they want an assurance that their borders are inviolable, and I don’t see that that part of the problem should be very difficult. I don’t see anyone who wants to invade North Korea, because the problems of taking care of them would be very great.

The other side of the Korean thing may be the more difficult part of establishing inspection, verification, which must be sufficiently far reaching, and you only ever talk about nuclear. What about biological and chemical and missiles in North Korea? In Iraq [biological and chemical weapons were] not that irrelevant, but when you come to North Korea you have the feeling that no one talks at all about it. So inspection I think will be important and it raises special difficulties in a country so hermetically closed as North Korea. But what must drive them a lot is an almost paranoic feeling that they have no friends. They used to have the Russians, and they had the Chinese, etcetera, and they felt stronger earlier. But today they feel on insecure grounds and I don’t think this guarantee should be a difficult one to give.

One could have other views on North Korea. If it is now argued that Iraq was a humanitarian intervention—I don’t remember that was really the main argument at the time, but I see some people arguing it now—then of course you could have a humanitarian intervention in North Korea. It is probably the worst, most inhumane regime you have in the world. But I don’t think anyone wants to press that point today, nor do I. I am in favor of humanitarian intervention in the long run, and I think we ought to feel ashamed about the Rwanda business. But big countries are [not] going to send hundreds of thousands of their soldiers to liberate the country. Maybe if you had another genocide like Cambodia, and media were there, it would happen. And I think it would be good, because that would indicate a high level of human solidarity. But that’s not where we are with North Korea, yet. Therefore I think that it is right to zero in on the six-party talks, and on their demand for a guarantee on inviolability. And when we talk about their demand for oil and for food, etcetera, I [would] see if this can be [done], not as a humanitarian prop-up, but for an evolution of North Korea into a more viable [state]. If North Korea is to have a peaceful exit, what I would like to see would be that the outside assistance, which they no doubt will ask for, be geared toward an economic development in which they will come over in the Chinese direction. Not simply helping them not starve for the next period, but actually leading them somewhere.

Clearly Iran is an area where they have seen the [region] equipping itself with weapons. You had of course first Israel, but Iran must also be aware that Iraq is now termed a sovereign state in a few weeks time, and although I hope that there will be effective verification remaining in Iraq after sovereignty is supposed to be passed to it. Nevertheless, the technical know-how still remains in Iraq. And I’ve seen the holes in the Bushehr reactors, which the Iraqis shot with some Exocet rockets in the past. So, I imagine this will also figure in their thinking.

And while I approve of the diplomatic efforts of the European states[7], which are also coordinated with the U.S.—I think that they must not lose sight of the larger political approach to détente in the Middle East. It seems very far away, and I’m not naïve, and I know it’s not happening tomorrow. However, it has been conspicuous all the time that all the states in that region support the notion of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction. Israel does, and so does Iran. And if you were to move on with the roadmap, and if one were to tackle the central problem of the Middle East, the relations between Israelis and Palestinians, and if that issue is moving forward, I think it will also prove easier to tackle the issues of weapons of mass destruction. I’m not at all against the Europeans’ initiative. But I think in all these cases, we need to remember the political dimension.

Now the third big case, of course, is Pakistan and India. And clearly—although we know that India started its nuclear program because of China, not because of Pakistan, and also that Pakistan then started its program because of India. However, it ought to be much less difficult to approach that situation if you were to have a sub-solution to the Kashmir issue. And one can be a little more hopeful today than we were a couple of years ago. Vajpayee did quite a lot and it’s clear that the Congress party will want to go on. I don’t think that they are going to roll back, like South Africa. If India doesn’t do it then Pakistan won’t do it. But some things might be easier. They might get them to agree and subscribe to a comprehensive test ban, might get them to subscribe to an FMCT. And I think India has always been very reliable in terms of export controls, which Pakistan has not been. But there are lots of other things in reducing the risks that would work if you could diffuse the Kashmiri issue.

Now then, if we were to have, say, a new nuclear weapon being developed in the United States, and if it were clear that we continue to have blocks on the FMCT, then I think that the general atmosphere surrounding these issues will be harder. And you could have a problem in the Middle East. Certainly if Iran were to develop further in the wrong direction, there is a risk for other countries considering going for nuclear weapons. And if the North Koreans move on, well the risks are very, very great. If the North Koreans were to test a weapon, yes, it would be very, very serious.

ACT: When you talked about the political aspect of this, in both Iran and North Korea for example, you’ve emphasized the incentive side—the carrots—rather than the sticks. How effective do you think these kinds of incentives can be in getting states to comply with their nonproliferation obligations?

Blix: Well you have the sticks also, but how serious and how credible they are is another question. If you take North Korea, remember that in the crisis that we had before the Agreed Framework, they were [opinion] articles by [former national security adviser] Brent Scowcroft talking about the possibility of using arms against North Korea. It may be that it scares the North Koreans, but in a situation where you have Seoul in artillery range of North Korea, I’m not sure how credible it is.

In the case of Iran, surely the Iranians must be able to tell themselves that after the Iraqi affair there will not be any great inclination, on the part of the U.S. at any rate, to go for missile strikes. The Israelis might perhaps be a little less away from such an action but on the whole I think that the present juncture is not one where these threats are genuine. It is an uncertainty and the uncertainty about it may be a helpful one. But I would not rate the chances very high that they will be used.

There are other disincentives, and they are, as we know, in the economic sphere. That’s what the Europeans talked about. The U.S. doesn’t have much by way of economic relations with Iran today, but in Europe they do. That should hover in the background. If you begin to brandish them, then it may be counterproductive. Especially when you’re talking in the case of Iran, yes I agree, they have not been forthright, they have not been open. Their lack of transparency increases the suspicion, all of that I agree with.

At the same time, when one asks them to renounce or suspend their enrichment capacity, I think one also has to remember there’s a certain pride in these things, and technological prowess. I have heard it said, Why should Iran have nuclear power, they have oil? No one asked that question when the Shah was about to launch a huge project. I think this nuclear technology is part of the feeling that yes, we are also able to do the most advanced modern technology. As a strong protagonist of nuclear power, I’m not against it. Not least today, when we are seeing attacks on pipelines in Iraq, and when we have a feeling that terrorist movements are trying to scare away Western technicians or Westerners from Saudi Arabia, then we are in getting into a situation that may be similar to the past fear of a cutting off of supplies of oil. And we should be reminded then that with nuclear power you can at least reduce the reliance upon oil somewhat, not that much, but this is one of the most significant ways of doing it for electricity. In long term, if we were to make use of fuel cell cars, instead of gasoline-powered cars, the hydrogen could be produced with the help of nuclear power.

I do not mind countries like India, certainly a huge country, going for nuclear power. I think that’s desirable. But it also leads me to be an even stronger advocate of nonproliferation and of safety in the operation of reactors and the disposal of waste.

ACT: One of the items in your four-tier approach is export controls. There obviously is a problem with the widespread availability of uranium-enrichment technology, a matter of much discussion about how to deal with it. How would you propose dealing with this issue? President Bush has outlined a proposal that involves the Nuclear Suppliers Group, tightening its controls. [IAEA Director-General] Mohamed ElBaradei has mentioned another approach that might involve internationalizing the fuel cycle[8]. Could you comment on this problem and how it might be addressed?

Blix: Having international institutions running big, practical operations like nuclear enrichment plants is not easy. It is something that is within the statute of the IAEA—at the time, it was a much bigger suit than we could fill. But I am not at all against exploring that, and I appreciate that he [ElBaradei] is trying a constructive way on it.

We do have quite a number of non-nuclear-weapon states that have enrichment: Brazil, South Africa, Japan, of course. If we are asking that no one else do it, I don’t think that it can be a hard or fast rule. You may have a country that would develop very fast into using nuclear power much more. And I think it would have to be an arrangement on which you can have some flexibility. Suppose that Ukraine for instance, which has a lot of nuclear power, if they would also go for enrichment then I don’t see any absolute obstacle why that should not be so. At the present time we have licensed five nuclear-weapon states. Should we now license a few more for enrichment, and that’s the end of it? That’s a rigidity. I think we need some sort of flexibility in that for the future.

ACT: But even with that flexibility there is the problem of the illegal black market, which has been made so clear with the A.Q. Khan situation[9]. How does one get at that when there is wider availability of these technologies?

Blix: Using the NSG for these purposes is something that must be contemplated. It’s already being done, and I think that’s maybe a necessity. There have been some thoughts, as you know, about basing the NSG on a treaty basis instead. I think there will be some difficulty in that push. So far I’m not convinced that that is the right way to do it. Then everyone who would like to adhere to it would come in, and I’ve seen how the NSG already now has some difficulties with the tensions within the group that is there. But it is a weapon, the export control is a weapon, and is useful that this group seeks to uphold high standards, and send information to each other. This has been, by and large, helpful.

ACT: One of the reasons there is this concern about the fuel cycle is that it’s very difficult to distinguish between peaceful and military use, short of actually finding a weapon. Is there any way that the IAEA might develop some criteria that would give an early warning or some sense of what the intentions are when people are doing this kind of fuel cycle development? Iran, obviously is one example.

Blix: Well, I think if countries like Iran maintain that they only are only interested in enrichment to produce fuel then it should be in Iran’s interest to increase its transparency and to have impeccable relations via safeguards. If they do not do that, well then I think that is something that will provoke suspicions and concern. So the attitude of the country to inspection and to openness would be one criterion. I’m not saying that you could conclusively draw a conclusion that they’re doing a weapon if they’re not (transparent), but certainly it would be a reason for suspicions, and (would affect) how the outside world treats that country.

You cannot draw a conclusion that, yes they are [making] a weapon. It could also be a question of pride. You have to be cautious. I’ve been asked the question, why did [deposed Iraqi President Saddam] Hussein behave as he did in Iraq, when we now think there weren’t any weapons? I think it had a lot to do with pride. Also perhaps they wished to create the impression that they had weapons although they protested that they didn’t have any. And also personal pride that I think he felt the inspectors were like fleas in his fur. Some of them probably were, as well.

ACT: During our last interview[10], we had talked about the possibility of inspecting everywhere; that was also in your Wall Street Journal piece.

Blix: I deliberately wanted to put inspections third, in order not to overemphasize and say that this is a sort of panacea. It is not. Recently I’ve been trying to explain how far can you come with inspection, how useful is it? When Mr. Cheney said, for instance, that the inspections are useless at best, and instead [the administration relied on] defectors, he clearly went wrong.

On the other hand, I think it’s also risky to say that inspection is the key. Don’t underestimate it, don’t overestimate it. They are like search machines. They have their merits and they have their limitations. The great merit is that they can go into any place legally, they can be entitled to go in, and especially with the [IAEA] Additional Protocol[11], so you can go much further than before. You have the right to have access to the information, to people, to documents, etcetera. But they also have their limitations, they cannot go around the country. For that, they need to have information.

Intelligence on the other hand, they have their sources, they listen, and are spending billions on listening to what we say on our mobile phones, and what Blix: says to ElBaradei…Although what Mr. Khatami says may be more interesting. So they have an enormous amount of that. They have spies on the ground and satellites…that’s sort of common property nowadays.

ACT: But how would you propose, after your unique experience, to enhance inspections? You’ve mentioned the idea of creating a standing inspectorate, similar to UNMOVIC. I’m sure that you’ve thought about how weapons inspections and monitoring could be improved. Could you be a little bit more specific about this?

Blix: I was talking about the nuclear inspections now, but of course with UNMOVIC it would not be nuclear. I’m not suggesting at all that one should do away with the IAEA – the capacity is there, and the OPCW [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] [12] is also developing well and that’s the chemical. But in New York, it would be for biological if it’s needed, or for missiles if it is needed. But my starting point was this: that you have search machines with different capabilities, and you should make use of those. Both of them report to governments. If you say it’s the [United Nations] Security Council, or it is the [IAEA] Board of Governors, well it’s governments. If the governments are actors they should take action, so they receive the information that come from these search machines, and they [national intelligence and international inspections] are both valuable. But don’t mix them, don’t merge them, because I think that’s what happened in UNSCOM with disastrous effects, when intelligence often took over UNSCOM. So these are the two machines.

Now what can we do then with an organization like UNMOVIC? Yes, I would be in favor of a modified mandate that would allow it to continue with a broadened base that could be used ad hoc by the Security Council. It is not a very expensive item for the moment. They are managing on leftovers from the Oil for Food [Program][13], and that will last for a while. But they will need a budget. And the beauty of it is that they are not dependent upon a standing group or standing army of inspectors. Rather, we had the roster system set up for a different reason: that you were not allowed to go in.[14] And so we created a roster system, we train people, they work at home, and they are available like an international reserve that can go in. And it is very economic, they are given the refresher courses, and they learn the latest techniques.So with a relatively low cost you could have a reserve for some inspection.

Now how often would it be called in? Not terribly often…I hope there won’t be so many cases where they’re needed, but it would be there. And, in addition, you could have the standing group in New York, which is not very large now, 30 or 40 people or something, and they could continue with analysis. And they could also serve the Security Council. Carnegie [The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace] advanced the idea of a rapporteur for the Security Council on issues of nonproliferation. It could also be a sort of secretariat-basis for a rapporteur. There are difficulties for a secretariat to report on suspicions. You have to be very, very correct in what you say, or else you will get into trouble. Still, I think that backing up a rapporteur who might be, not a civil servant but appointed by the Security Council, could be of use. In any case, I can’t see any harm coming from that, and it would also fill a gap when it comes to anything to inspect on biological or on missiles. How often that will be I don’t know, but it’s not a very expensive proposition.

And presumably when the U.S. leaves Iraq, there will be some need for a continued inspection in Iraq. This has not been treated yet, and I’m somewhat skeptical about the idea of reducing the rights of inspection there. I don’t think that one should reduce what we have. If you look as Resolution 687 it describes the inspections in Iraq as a system precisely as a step in the direction of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction[15]. So I think that would be a reason for retention of UNMOVIC and since I have no fealty myself any longer, I think I can say that without being suspected of any ulterior motives.

ACT: The fourth item you listed in your speech was reducing existing nuclear arsenals, and obviously one of the discussions that’s likely to come up at the next Review Conference for the NPT is the compliance with Article VI[16] particularly, as you cited, the U.S. possible development of new nuclear weapons, and general disarmament by the nuclear weapon-states. How important do you think that is, and what role is that going to play at the review conference?

Blix: You can also have an item like a treaty-based ban on tactical nuclear weapons. You had the agreement made by Bush the elder to withdraw tactical nuclear weapons from foreign territory[17], but that was not based on a treaty. It’s not a big deal, but it’s one of the things you can do. It would be part of a new momentum in disarmament. They are doing rather well in drawing down. There may be limitation to the speed with which you can do that. We already now have big piles of plutonium and highly enriched uranium. So I’m not complaining about that side of it. They can certainly look at lowering further levels than they have agreed now. But since they can’t take care of all those anyway at the moment, I don’t see that as the most difficult issue.

Now counterproliferation is another. It was not in my list there. And I think I discussed it both in my book and also publicly that after 9/11…[there is a] fear that you could have terrorists or a rogue [state] attacking or making use of weapons of mass destruction. I have some understanding for the argument advanced by President Bush, mainly that if something is imminent, it’s too late. No government—not only the U.S.—no government which is sure that an attack with weapons of mass destruction is coming will wait for it, but they will seek to prevent it. So I understand that, too. But in all these preventive actions, intelligence that comes in, how do you know it will actually occur? I mean the UN Charter is very clear in Article 51, and says that you have the inherent right of self-defense if an armed attack occurs. An armed attack occurs you see it, but if it hasn’t occurred but simply is imminent, how do you know? You will not sit and wait for it, but you are dependent upon the intelligence. And what you can see today, of course is, that after the Iraqi affair there is no political inclination to rely too much on intelligence.

So the whole concept of counterproliferation has been weakened. It’s not gone, because if something is imminent then sure they will act. But they can also go to the Security Council and share the responsibility of a decision. I don’t accept their contention that the Security Council is impotent. I saw that [Prime Minister Tony] Blair said that the council is not there just to talk but also to act. Alright. Within a short day or two after that, the council acted within less than 12 hours to take a decision on Haiti. So if they are agreed they can act.

But in the case of Iraq last spring they were not agreed, and I think it was to the credit of the council that they did not authorize the war. Where would we have stood today if the council had said fine to the Spanish-U.S.-[British] resolution, had authorized it on erroneous premises? They were skeptical of the premises. They were right. Therefore, I think it was a good thing that they didn’t authorize the war. And with the present composition of the council, there is no automatic veto. The Russians, the Chinese are not automatically vetoing things. And therefore the council should not be ruled out as impotent. I think it is there, and if you had a threat that is not within 12 hours, well, I think that you might also share the responsibility in taking action by going to the council.

So one cannot rule out counterproliferation in exceptional circumstances. But at least if counterproliferation implies the use of force, and I’ve usually seen it in that context but it can be more innocent than that. The biggest case of counterproliferation—apart from the Iraqi War—was the Israeli attack on Osarik[18]. You have had assassinations of nuclear scientists in the past, but there might be a more innocent method.

Let me say something more about intelligence, and merging or mixing it with the inspection. This is fundamental. We know now, after the Iraqi affair, that international inspectors under the authority of the Security Council or the board of the IAEA came to conclusions that were closer to reality than what the intelligence agencies did. There are a couple of reasons that helped us on the [inspectors] side. One was that we had the Security Council as our master. The Security Council did not push us or breathe down our neck to come into any particular conclusions. They just said, “You do your professional work, and you report accurately to us.” Intelligence agencies clearly felt there was an expectation that they would come up with something that pointed to the direction of the existence of the weapons because their executive branch of the government wanted that, both in the [United States] and in the [United Kingdom].

The other [factor] was the international civil servants concept, which is strong in the UN and the IAEA. You are there to assemble facts, and submit that to a political level. You are not part of the policymaking. I was very clear to the Security Council that I am not advising what you are to do. I simply am responsible for our job of collecting the data and giving it to you.

In the national governments I think there has been a risk of the blurring, whether we see it, not only in this particular sphere, but we see of course in many areas where government, executive branch, in the policymaking, and selling it to the public, will want to create their own reality. And they repeat again and again the same thing of questionable factual value, and it turns it into virtual reality. I think you might say Iraq is a case where eventually the virtual reality collided with old-fashioned, real reality.

So this distinction between the role and the ability of the international inspectorate to work in their way, that argues in favor of making use of that as a force that can give you important objective data. Not doing away with intelligence data—they have their side, but keep them apart. And as I said the intelligence can provide the inspectors with ideas where to go, because they have other sources than inspectors do. However, what I have seen in the case of Iraq during the ’90s and described in some extent in my book, but [former White House terrorism expert Richard] Clarke has also come up with more material on this, and Gallucci [Robert Gallucci is former deputy executive chairman of the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM)] had a statement before David Albright’s group [Albright is the president of the Institute for Science and International Security] where he described the close liaison between UNSCOM and inspection and intelligence. Now, it was clear when they adopted [Resolution] 687 that intelligence—that UNSCOM was to have intelligence tips from the agencies. It was also stated clearly that the IAEA should not have direct access to intelligence but UNSCOM should designate sites for IAEA to inspect on the basis of the intelligence that they had received.

Now we know that at the end of UNSCOM the bubble burst and we know that UNSCOM was piggybacked directly by intelligence, notably U.S. but also UK intelligence. And that they had listening devices and they listened to traffic in the air and it was not just to identify weapons of mass destruction but [to find out] where was Saddam,where were his mistresses, etcetera. UNSCOM did not even get the result of these things but was just piggybacked, and that bubble burst in January 1999. UNSCOM withdrew at the end of 1998, it burst in 1999. There was plenty of writing about it in the U.S. media, Barton Gellman [of The Washington Post] and others came out with lots of things about it. That, I think, destroyed, the UN legitimacy of UNSCOM.

At the IAEA we had drawn another conclusion at the beginning of the Iraq War and that was that yes, we need intelligence, but it is mainly one-way traffic. They could not come and criticize us for not having found something if they hadn’t told us where to look. So we said please help us, give us something, but its one-way traffic. You tell us, we have safeguards confidential, we get all the information from the state, but that’s safeguards confidential. For us it was natural to say that we are in no position to give you something in return, except if we find something that’s in the interest of the government.

So one-way traffic was what they said, and we went for it. And in the Amorim committee report, which preceded UNMOVIC, you’ll find the same thing, they say one-way traffic. And you’ll find also in my introduction to the Security Council, of UNMOVIC, I stated yes we want to have intelligence. And they asked from whom and I said anyone who wants to give us, but it is in principle one-way traffic. Now in principle, you cannot be absolutely watertight, because if they give you a tip about a place to go, you go there, you find nothing, then of course you have to tell your supplier. And you must also be able to tell the supplier what are you interested in. But it is not a joint operation. And it is not that they can come and say we’d like to look at your archives on this point or that point. And when I read Mr. Clarke[19] now I find that he is describing the important IAEA [inspection] in 1991 when they got stuck in the parking lot. That was an area we were working inspection. However, he says he planned it together with a few outside people. UNSCOM was given the idea to go to this place, yes, but…it was a joint operation that probably mainly was led from the intelligence. In the long run you cannot do that and maintain a UN legitimacy. Especially if the intelligence will piggyback and use the inspections as an extended arm for their operations.

ACT: Let me ask you a question on this issue of role of the international civil servant. Obviously you took a lot of guff from the administration as they were leading up to the invasion of Iraq. And as you said ultimately it’s the government’s decision about what to do on these things. But you must have some advice for the next Hans Blix who might be in this position where you’re trying to persuade the governments that maybe there isn’t this kind of evidence there. How do you do this as an international civil servant?

Blix: Well I never said in the Security Council that I would advise against war. It would be presumptuous of me, and The New York Times was rather good about this and I agreed completely with them. But that is one thing. Mohamed [ElBaradei] explicitly asked for a few more months. You will not find that I said that I explicitly asked for it. They asked me how much more time do you think you would need. And I said well it won’t take years, and it won’t be weeks, but it would be months if the Iraqis cooperate. That’s what I said. Now my personal wish was of course to continue the inspection, and I think that’s probably how people perceived my attitude. But I did not explicitly ask Security Council to vet that.

However, on the question of the evidence, we were not silent. You will find in my book the description of the conversation with Blair—I have the transcript of it, and it is amusing. I think it was in February [2003]. It makes clear that I do not exclude the possibility that there are still weapons. But I am making clear to him that we were not impressed by the evidence that we had. I do say to him that it would be paradoxical if you invaded with several hundred thousand men and you didn’t find anything. This was in February. And he then said, no, no. All the intelligence agencies are agreed. And to top it off he said, “and the Egyptians too.”

So I had no doubt at all that he was [acting] in good faith, nor have I ever suggested that Bush was [acting] in bad faith. But our doubts or skepticism about the evidence began in the autumn because David Albright and his people were doubting the aluminum tubes. And I was doubtful about the yellow cake contract. Not because I had any suspicion at all that it was a forgery, but I felt that yellow cake is a long way from a bomb. And why should the Iraqis bother to import yellowcake. That was my simple layman thought about it.

But then in January and in February we went to dozens of sites given by intelligence—U.S., [British], and others—and found no weapons of mass destruction. In only three cases did we find anything at all, and in one case it was the illegal import of Volga engines, in another case it was the stash of nuclear documents on laser [uranium enrichment], and in the third case was a farm that turned out to contain conventional ammunition. So in no case, of all these dozens [of places] where they suspected there were weapons of mass destruction, did we find anything. That shook us quite a lot. Then came [Secretary of State] Colin Powell with his beautiful presentation—I won’t use another noun for it—his beautiful presentation to the Security Council. Perhaps we should have felt humiliated because he was then presenting all these smoking guns we hopeless inspectors had failed to see. However, I felt more like sitting in a court bench, saying well, the chief prosecutor is now putting forth the evidence then let’s see what the experts say about this evidence. So I let our experts dig their teeth into it. Now there were of course many things they could not check—the intercepted telephone calls and so forth that they could not check. But there were several others that they could check and each they were skeptical about.

Now that was when I said I have to go to the Security Council and also register our doubts about the evidence, and I did so. There I referred to three things, I referred to the fact that you cannot say that simply because something is unaccounted for it exists. Secondly, I referred to the sites that we had been to [that were] not building any weapons of mass destruction. And thirdly, I took up the case of the chemical sites, which Colin Powell had referred to, it was the only one that I took up, and I said the trucks that he had seen they thought were decontamination trucks or that our inspectors had seen and they were then at least water trucks and we had taken lots of environmental samples and seen no traces of chemicals. So, this was still in February [2003], that I went before the council. Maybe I could accuse myself today of not speaking louder, but that was the only voice that came, apart from Albright, who I think persistently pursued a respectable line. And we had the case of the drones, which Wolf came to me and threw on my desk. [20] I didn’t exclude at the time that it could be something but the inspectors were certainly not convinced of it, and we had had no reason to go forward, I can say that.

The case where we came closest to a suspicion was the anthrax, and because we had people analyzing that and it seemed that they could have squirreled away a quantity of anthrax. But I looked at it at very long briefings in which I examined step-by-step and I said, no, this is not conclusive. It is a strong indication, but not conclusive. In retrospect, well I couldn’t exclude even now that maybe we find a cistern of anthrax somewhere, there will be probably debris somewhere. But it was not conclusive.

ACT: What might the outcome have been today if inspections had continued for another three, four, however many months?

Blix: If inspections had continued I think that two things would have happened. First, we would have been able to go to all sites suggested to us by intelligence—[British], U.S., or any other—and since there weren’t any weapons we wouldn’t have found any. And we would have reported that fact, and I think that ought to have shaken the intelligence agencies. We didn’t have bad relations with intelligence, we were not so antagonistic at all. I think it should have shaken them to say “Sorry, but then our sources were bad.” Maybe the time was too short, maybe the number of cases was too short for them to retreat on that, or draw that conclusion. So that would have been the most important [outcome].

The other thing that could have happened was also important, but slightly less work, that was that the Iraqis gave us at the end of February and the very beginning of March, they gave us long lists of people whom they said had participated in the unilateral destruction operation in 1991. I had had discussions about this with Al Saadi [Amir Al Saadi, a senior adviser to then Iraqi President Saddam Hussein] about this, and I said “you must have some documents.” Afterward, I am still puzzled that this country that has fairly good bureaucracy didn’t have any documents. Some diaries came up and that was all. So I said, if you don’t have any documents you must at least have people that participated and they said yes. And eventually they came with this long list of people. And what we would have done would have been to interview these people. And there are difficulties you have with interviewing in totalitarian countries, but nevertheless there were some 80 or so names and in such a large number if you could interview them, there might have been some hope that we would understand more about the operation in ’91. Remember that they came forward and proposed that we should take samples of the soil, we should analyze it, we should come out with some quantitative conclusions which…

ACT: The Iraqis?

Blix: The Iraqis, yes. We went up against that. We would have done it, but I didn’t have much hope I’m not a scientist but I wouldn’t have much hope. But these two things—the interviews, and going to the science would have happened. And I assume that the Iraqis would have continued to give access without any difficulty because they invariably were okay on the access side. But if there had been a renewed cat-and-mouse game, then I am of the view that the Security Council would have gone along and authorized the use of force. However I think its more likely that, having 200,000 or more people at their borders, that they would have continued to gnaw their teeth and give access even to presidential sites[21]. And I think it would have become more difficult then to launch any invasion. This could have gone on over the summer, and I don’t quite see why they [the U.S.-led coalition] could not have waited until the autumn. I understand they didn’t want to have fighting during the summer, but if they had let inspectors go on until the autumn, I think the chances are that the air would have gone out of that. But the result would have been that Saddam [Hussein] would have stayed in power probably. Some people say that he couldn’t have survived the rumor that they had weapons of mass destruction—that’s not so sure, I think. So the chances are that he would have stayed, Saddam would have remained. The sole good result of the war I see is the disappearance of one of the world’s most bad regimes.

However, what would have been the case then? It would have been a little like [Fidel] Castro, like [Moammar] Gaddafi, who is now supposed to be a good boy. It would have been a situation similar, where the world does not intervene on a humanitarian basis but leaves it to foreign policy by obituary as The New York Times calls it elegantly. You wait him out. It would have had many negative aspects, but it also would have had many positive aspects.

ACT: The Bush administration has argued since the war that if inspections had ended that Saddam could have quickly reconstituted his chemical, and biological programs, perhaps even his nuclear weapons. Was it your expectation in the spring of 2003 that if the inspections had been allowed to continue, that they were going to end? Could these inspections have continued for a longer time in your view?

Blix: That was the mandate of the Security Council. UN Resolution 687 distinguishes between the inspections and long-term monitoring. And it was quite clear that when inspections were over, then you go into long-term monitoring. There was no end that wouldn’t require a specific decision of the Security Council. Now with [UN Security Council Resolution] 1284, this system was modified and they constantly introduced what they called reinforced long-term monitoring[22]. Well anyway, they were reinforced inspections, and so they made no difference between inspection and monitoring and there was no limit set to that. The real limit would not be formal, but it would be the risk of a fatigue in the council. A beginning resistance from the Iraqi side, and fatigue in the council, a wish not to implement it, to enforce it. That could have happened but that’s containment. And if they saw a sign of new nuclear things then they would probably pull up their socks again. So that’s the risk of containment. It’s not absent. But there was nothing in the cards at the time. Especially when you look at the situation in the spring of 2003, if they had gone on well, for quite some time, I think there would not have been any fatigue, but they would have watched them clearly. And we have now seen that [during]the whole ’90s, the UN actually succeeded in disarming [Iraq]without really knowing it. And even [from] 1998 to 2002, they didn’t do anything.

So the pressure, the combination, I think, of the risk of something happening militarily. The continued bombing of the no-fly zones, the economic sanctions, and the inspectors milling in the country helped to keep them away. I’m still a bit puzzled in why they played cat and mouse. And although I’m proud of what we did because we didn’t err as much as the intelligence agencies did, nevertheless it is somewhat puzzling that, especially UNSCOM but also we, were not able to conclude that there were not any weapons. And here, for eight years they were there, and UNMOVIC has now shown in the 14th quarter report after I left that there were no weapons destroyed after 1994. There was infrastructure, there were precursors, there were growth materials, but no weapons destroyed after ’94.

And I’m not sure even that UNSCOM ever found a weapon that had been hidden. They found a lot of chemical weapons in Mutanna, but Mutanna was declared. There were more weapons there than [what] had [been] declared, but the site was declared. But the fact then that no weapons were found after ’94 should then have given them and others a thought, a wonder: are they really so smart in hiding them? We went through all the cases in denial of access—cat and mouse—and while we had reports that [Iraqis] drove away with trucks, and that there were weapons that they burned, etcetera, in no case did [inspectors] find any weapons of mass destruction. When they went in eventually—after hours or sometimes after days—they didn’t find anything at all. And you do not drive away with large quantities of chemical weapons if you are being under surveillance. These facts should have struck a stronger bell. But instead we were all, including myself, so impressed by the fact that they were playing with inspectors and drew automatically, uncritically the conclusion “Ah Hah! They must be hiding something.” And that’s not what they did.

ACT: Hindsight is 20/20. You were talking earlier about sort of the need to create a new dynamic in nonproliferation, especially nuclear nonproliferation. Going toward the Review Conference next year, do you have any sorts of specific steps or ideas on what should be on the agenda for the Review Conference, and what would constitute success there?

Blix: I think the comprehensive test ban, FMCT, and the fuel cycle business. The NPT allows enrichment and reprocessing. But this is a subject that must be tackled in some flexible way because we cannot set the rules once for everyone who wants to have it now—that’s the licensees forever. I think this is essential. And of course we’ll have to watch the discussion. Everyone is so focused upon the acute cases, understandably and rightly, but I worry that opportunities are missed. I mean we do live in a détente, after all. It’s bizarre, that we are not doing better.

ACT: We just wanted to ask you one final question on “WMD”. In your recent book you use the term weapons of mass destruction to describe nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and yet there have been many who’ve not been happy about the conflation of these three.

Blix: I agree.

ACT: And yet that’s also the name of your commission. Can you elaborate a little…

Blix: It is so firmly entrenched that we can’t get away from it. We discussed the possibility. We discussed the possibility that we have another name, but no, no. We are stuck with that. I had begun my introduction for Monday by denouncing the concept of weapons of mass destruction, because the only thing they have in common is that we would like to do away with all of them. And biological of course, I mean you could say that, they could lead to mass death. But otherwise, it has some drawbacks in that it allows governments to come forward and say that you know we may have 30 countries in the world with weapons of mass destruction, but we do know that we may have less than 10 which are nuclear weapons. And I think this is part of hyping.

Yesterday I spoke before the Cosmos Club and I began by saying “Look, put these things in perspective.” I’m dealing with weapons of mass destruction, nonproliferation—both expressions are bad—but everyone is absorbed in these in the Western world to the exclusion of other problems. If you go to Asia, you will not find that people say that the risk of use of weapons of mass destruction is an “existential issue,” as Blair said recently. But they said “Well, you know, for those of us who hunger, hunger is more of an existential issue.” I would say for myself, and I think for everybody, that global warming, the threats to the global environment are as great if not greater than the threats from weapons of mass destruction. And that’s why I’m very much in favor for peaceful nuclear power.

So yes, weapons of mass destruction is a bad expression, everyone agrees about that, but at least in the arms control community we know the weakness. The other expression is nonproliferation. The Carnegie Endowment says that it’s a strategy for nonproliferation and they also say it’s a Nuclear Safety Strategy, which I prefer, because when we talk about nonproliferation, there is still the connotation, an echo of the idea that you have five licenses given. And that beyond that anything is bad. Whereas the Carnegie Endowment says no, it is not, and that it is a dual bargain. And I think one must remember that. But proliferation of course doesn’t question the parents. It questions the offspring.

ACT: How do you close that gap between the nuclear haves and have-nots?

Blix: It’s simple. Those who have it should negotiate to do away with it, and those who don’t have it they should recommit not to get it. Now how sincere it was at the outset I’m not so sure. Because it says negotiate toward doing away with the weapons and general and complete disarmament. Any talk about general and complete disarmament in 1968 was not terribly sincere. But since then it has become more important and it has been seen that you cannot simply have an alcoholic telling those who have not yet tasted alcohol that they should stay away from it. And they have committed themselves, at the latest NPT Review there was the commitment, and I think that they realized that if they are not moving in that direction that undermines the commitments of others.


[1] Sweden’s foreign ministry announced the commission’s formation in December 2003. For more details see Arms Control Today, January/February 2004.

[2] An FMCT would prohibit the production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU) for nuclear weapons purposes. For more details see http://www.armscontrol.org/aca/npt13steps.asp

[3] The CTBT prohibits signatories from conducting explosive tests of nuclear weapons. For more details see http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/ctbtsig.asp

[4] For a comprehensive analysis and description of PSI, see Jofi Joseph, “Can Interdiction Stop Proliferation?,” Arms Control Today, June 2004, pp. 6-13.

[5] The 44-member NSG is comprised of nuclear supplier states that have agreed to coordinate their export controls governing transfers of civilian nuclear material and technology to prevent nuclear exports intended for commercial and peaceful purposes from being used to make nuclear weapons. For more details see http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/NSG.asp

[6] See “The Bush Administration's Nonproliferation Policy: An interview with Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation John S. Wolf,” Arms Control Today, June 2004, p. 14-19. http://www.armscontrol.org/interviews/Wolf.asp

[7] See Paul Kerr, “With Deadline Looming, European Foreign Ministers Strike Deal to Restrict Iran’s Nuclear Program,” Arms Control Today, November 2003.

[8] See “Curbing Nuclear Proliferation: An Interview with Mohamed ElBaradei,” Arms Control Today, November 2003, pp. 3-6. http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2003_11/ElBaradei_11.asp

[9] Khan, a key official in Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, ran a covert network of suppliers who transferred nuclear technology to states suspected of developing nuclear weapons. For more information see "The Khan Network", March 2004 Arms Control Today, pp. 23-29. http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2004_03/

[10] See "Verifying Arms Control Agreements: An Interview with Hans Blix, the Outgoing Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC," Arms Control Today, July/August 2003, pp. 12-15.

[11] States concluding Additional Protocols to their safeguards agreements with the IAEA are obliged to disclose to the agency significantly more information regarding their nuclear activities than they would under their original safeguards agreements. Such protocols also increase the IAEA’s authority to detect clandestine nuclear activities. For more details see: http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/IAEAProtocol.asp

[12] The OPCW administers the Chemical Weapons Convention, a 1997 treaty ratified by 160 countries, which bans the use, development, production, and stockpiling of chemical weapons. For more details see http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/cwcglance.asp

[13] The Oil for Food program, which allowed Iraq to sell oil for buying medicine, health supplies, food, and other supplies “essential” for civilian needs, was created in 1995. For more details see: http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2002_10/UNresolutionsoct02.asp

[14] Iraq did not allow the UN inspectors to resume work in Iraq after they left in December 1998 until November 2002.

[15] The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 687 in 1991 after Iraq's defeat in the Persian Gulf War. The resolution formed the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) to verify that Iraq complied with UN-mandated non-nuclear disarmament tasks. For a list of relevant UN resolutions, see http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2002_10/UNresolutionsoct02.asp

[16] Article VI of the NPT reads: “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.” For a complete text of the NPT see http://www.armscontrol.org/documents/npt.asp.

[17] Blix is referring to the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives concluded by George H.W. Bush and former Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev. For details see Presidential Nuclear Initiatives section in U.S./Soviet Russian Nuclear Arms Control factsheet at http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2002_06/factfilejune02.asp

[18] In 1981, the Israeli air force destroyed the French-built Osarik nuclear reactor in Iraq.

[19] Richard Clarke, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War

[20] According to Blix, Wolf arrived at Blix’s office on March 6, 2003 with photographs of an Iraqi Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, as well as a cluster munition, and demanded to know why UNMOVIC had not declared their discovery a breach of Iraq’s disarmament obligations. See Blix, Disarming Iraq (New York: Panteon Books), pp. 221-222.

[21] UN Security Council Resolution 1154 endorsed a February 1998, memorandum of understanding (MOU) between UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Iraq which placed special conditions on inspections of these sites. The MOU did not give Iraq the right to impede the inspectors, but Iraq used these sites to conceal what were believed to be possible weapons activities. Resolution 1441, adopted in November 2002, specifically mandated unrestricted access to these sites.

[22] Resolution 1284, adopted in 1999, authorized the creation of UNMOVIC to replace UNSCOM after UN inspectors were withdrawn the previous year and verify that Iraq had fulfilled its remaining disarmament obligations.

Description: 
Interviewed by Miles A. Pomper, Paul Kerr, and Daryl Kimball

Subject Resources:

U.S. Seeks Expansion of G-8 Nonproliferation Aid

Gabrielle Kohlmeier


The United States is hoping to use a summit meeting next month to win other countries’ endorsement of a proposal to expand a multibillion dollar nonproliferation program beyond Russia, but Moscow is balking.

During a conference in Moscow April 23-24, U.S. Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow indicated that the United States wanted to use its position as host of the June 8-10 Group of Eight (G-8) summit in Sea Island, Georgia, to win the support of five wealthy European nations and Japan for restructuring the two-year-old G-8 Global Partnership Against the Proliferation of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction.

Initiated at the 2002 G-8 summit in Kananaskis, Canada, the Global Partnership involved a collective pledge of $20 billion over 10 years first for Russia’s and eventually for other former Soviet states’ nonproliferation projects, with half the total coming from the United States. (See ACT, July/August 2002.)

In his remarks, Vershbow expressed U.S. support for expanding the Global Partnership both in terms of donors and recipients. The United States would like to solicit additional funds from Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea. At the same time, countries such as Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan are seen as prospective recipients of nonproliferation aid funded through the Global Partnership.

Vershbow also said that expanding the effort to include Ukraine would be a “natural choice.” Those efforts took a step forward in early May, when Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Gryshchenko and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst discussed the possibility of Ukraine receiving international aid through the Global Partnership. During that May 6 meeting, Herbst handed Gryshchenko a letter from Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton welcoming Ukraine’s willingness to participate in the Global Partnership and to abide by the key nonproliferation principles outlined at the 2002 G-8 summit.

As part of its nearly $1 billion annual contribution to threat reduction through its Cooperative Threat Reduction programs, the United States already contributes significant amounts annually to nonproliferation efforts in former Soviet states, including Georgia, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan, as well as Ukraine. Despite U.S. rejection of Ukraine’s formal request to become a recipient member of the Global Partnership last year, the United States counted its funding of nonproliferation projects there as part of its contribution to the Global Partnership in its budget justification to Congress for fiscal year 2004.

In addition to expanding distribution of funds to other former Soviet states, an April 30 Financial Times article suggested that U.S. and British officials want to use some of the Global Partnership funds to redirect Libyan and Iraqi scientists in an effort to keep them from being lured by offers from potential proliferators.

Russia, on the other hand, is reluctant to permit other countries to receive funds from the Global Partnership. Russian officials say that Russia has borne the greatest costs of nonproliferation efforts and claim that only $50 million of the funds pledged by countries other than the United States have actually materialized in Russia.

The actual amount that has been spent is difficult to determine and the $50 million figure does not seem to account for all of the nonproliferation projects that have received non-U.S. G-8 funding in Russia. But both experts and Global Partnership members acknowledge that the quantity spent thus far was significantly lower than what was pledged. Bureaucratic and legal impediments, as well as a lack of political will, were cited by the participants to the Moscow conference as hurdles to the efficacy of the Global Partnership, problems that they hoped would be addressed at the upcoming G-8 summit.

 

 

 

 

U.S. Sanctions Syria

Michael Nguyen

President George W. Bush imposed sanctions May 11 on Syria in response to its occupation of neighboring Lebanon and allegations that it supported terrorism and was pursuing clandestine chemical and biological weapons programs. The sanctions come almost five months after Bush signed the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003.

The law bans the export of military and dual-use items to Syria. In addition, it requires the president to select two additional sanctions from a list of six. Bush chose to ban all U.S. exports to Syria except food and medicine and to prohibit Syrian aircraft from U.S. airspace. This last sanction was largely symbolic, however, as there are currently no commercial flights to or from the United States by Syrian airlines. Syrian trade with the United States is estimated at only $300 million annually.

Bush’s executive order included exceptions that will permit continued trade in spare parts for commercial aircraft and communications equipment. He declined to impose other penalties that would have prevented U.S. businesses from investing or operating in Syria, as well as diplomatic sanctions that would have curtailed official U.S. contact with Syria and/or limited the movement of Syrian diplomats in the United States.

The president also imposed two additional measures that were not called for in the law. First, he directed the Department of the Treasury to freeze the assets of those Syrians that it and the State Department have determined are implicated in terrorism and other sanctioned activities. Second, he directed Treasury to limit relationships between U.S. and Syrian banks.

“Despite many months of diplomatic efforts to convince the Government of Syria to change its behavior,” Bush told Congress May 11, “Syria has not taken significant, concrete steps to address the full range of U.S. concerns.”

The Bush administration imposed the sanctions against Syria one month before the law required a report to Congress on the status of their implementation. However, some lawmakers had expected the sanctions to begin much earlier. In a press conference held April 29, bill co-sponsors Reps. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and lleana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) complained about the delay and said that administration officials had indicated that sanctions would be imposed in February. At the press conference, Engel warned that further delays might force Congress to pass a stronger law in which “no discretion will be provided to the White House while sanctions are toughened.”

To offset the impact of U.S. trade sanctions, Syria has tried to conclude negotiations with the European Union to join the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, giving the country reduced tariffs and duties and greater access to European financial markets. Talks have since stalled repeatedly because of an EU policy which ties trade agreements to nonproliferation behavior. The EU is an important trading partner for Syria, accounting for 60 percent of its total exports in 2002.


 

 

 

 

UN Nuclear Expert Diagnoses NPT Ills, Offers Prescriptions

Wade Boese


Following a recent round of sparring between the nuclear “haves” and “have-nots” over who is most responsible for putting the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) regime at risk, the United Nations’ top nuclear expert said May 14 that all states share the blame.

International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei
presented a sobering assessment of the nuclear nonproliferation regime a week after a contentious NPT states-parties meeting ended. Speaking to the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, he described the regime as “eroding in terms of legitimacy” and warned that more thinking must be done “outside the box” if it is to be shored up.

To achieve success in stemming the spread of nuclear weapons, ElBaradei said that countries with nuclear weapons must move more convincingly to eliminate their arsenals, the international community must be more willing to punish any government attempting to acquire nuclear weapons, and states must be willing to accept greater constraints on the types of nuclear technologies they can possess.

The director-general faulted the NPT’s five recognized nuclear-weapon states—China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—as well as non-NPT members India, Pakistan, and Israel for clinging to their nuclear arsenals and thereby suggesting that such arms confer security benefits, power, and prestige.

He extended this line of criticism to all 26 NATO members for keeping nuclear weapons as a salient feature of the alliance’s defense posture, remarking that nonproliferation was unsustainable if NATO members continued “relying on the nuclear umbrella and [saying] everyone else should sit quietly in the cold.”

However, possession of nuclear weapons by several states does not justify complacency in the face of efforts by additional countries to acquire these arms, ElBaradei indicated. He blasted the international community for failing to confront North Korea when it announced its NPT withdrawal early last year. “If that is not [a] threat to international peace and security, what is?” the director-general asked. He pointed to a widespread perception that “the international community will not respond or would respond selectively” to such violations.

To address this problem, ElBaradei suggested creating some type of UN Security Council “response mechanism.” He pointed out that France is developing a proposal for automatic sanctions if a country withdraws from the NPT.

The director-general also spoke positively of the Bush administration’s call to halt the spread of enrichment and reprocessing facilities to states that do not already possess them. Although the NPT legally permits national ownership of such capabilities, they are key to developing nuclear weapons, and ElBaradei said they simply were not necessary from an “economic point of view.” ElBaradei is convening a group of experts this summer to look at how to address this issue.

ElBaradei further praised a U.S. proposal to end the worldwide civilian reactor use of highly enriched uranium, which is an essential ingredient for nuclear weapons. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham met with ElBaradei May 26 to discuss the U.S. plan.

ElBaradei offered some suggestions of his own as well. He recommended that the current export control regime, which he described as “busted right now,” should entail legally binding, not voluntary, commitments and expand its membership because some countries with nuclear materials, such as India, Pakistan, and Malaysia, are outside of it. ElBaradei’s remarks largely pertained to the 40-member Nuclear Suppliers Group and 35-member Zangger Committee, through which the majority of nuclear suppliers seek to coordinate their export control policies.

Ultimately, ElBaradei warned, the nonproliferation regime is bound to fail if more is not done to address the insecurity that some states feel. “Unless we link nonproliferation to security, I think we will continue to…go around in circles,” ElBaradei said.

A new collective security arrangement not based on nuclear weapons must be built, the director-general argued. He volunteered no specific proposals, however, and noted that constructing such a system and building trust in it would take time.

Until then, ElBaradei suggested one possibility might be to entrust the Security Council with “some remnant nuclear arsenal to deal with…possible cheaters in the future.” He said he raised the proposal “for lack of better ideas” and encouraged more thinking by all.

 

 

 

 

The Nonproliferation Credibility Gap

Daryl G. Kimball


You don’t get something for nothing. More than three decades ago, the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) set into place one of the most important international security bargains of all time: states without nuclear weapons pledged not to acquire them, while nuclear-armed states committed to eventually give them up.

The treaty’s success depends on universal compliance with tighter rules prohibiting the spread of nuclear weapons and related technology. It also requires that nuclear-weapon states fulfill their disarmament obligations and give credible assurances to non-nuclear-weapon states that they will not be subjected to nuclear attack.

Tension regarding the mutual obligations of NPT members is nothing new. Yet, at the recently concluded Preparatory Committee meeting for the 2005 NPT Review Conference, U.S. officials pushed for greater limitations on other states while arguing the United States needs to do little or nothing more on disarmament. As a result, states-parties are more divided than ever about how to enforce the treaty, deal with the three nonsignatories (India, Israel, and Pakistan), and tighten restrictions on the availability of nuclear weapons technology.

Recall that, in 1995, the United States and the other nuclear-weapon states pledged to a set of principles and objectives on nonproliferation and disarmament. They did so in order to win an indefinite extension of the treaty. These goals were reaffirmed and refined at the 2000 NPT conference. The extension of the NPT did not imply the indefinite possession of nuclear weapons. The United States can ill-afford to abdicate its disarmament responsibilities and interests.

Rather than build broad support for a plan to strengthen the treaty in all of its aspects, Bush administration officials chose to use this NPT meeting to level a blunt critique of illicit Iranian and North Korean nuclear activities. With Iran in mind, U.S. officials called on others to support proposals to limit the sale of nuclear technologies that can be used to make bomb material.

This initiative could produce useful but hard-to-win additional limitations on non-nuclear-weapon states’ access to some forms of “peaceful” nuclear technology. Iran’s previously undeclared uranium-enrichment activities do indeed create the possibility that it intends to become the next nuclear-weapon state. There is broad agreement that Iran must fulfill its pledges to allow more intrusive nuclear inspections and make its temporary uranium-enrichment halt permanent.

But achieving these outcomes involves heavy diplomatic lifting. Nonnegotiable U.S. ultimatums, however justifiable, will not do the trick. Nor will they make it any easier for an ongoing British-French-German initiative to convince leaders in Tehran that full compliance with the NPT is in their best interest.

U.S. delegates to the NPT meeting also did their best to block discussion of further disarmament measures, including the possibility of multilateral talks on weapons of mass destruction issues in the Middle East. In an April 27 speech at the conference, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton declared, “[W]e cannot divert attention from the violations we face by focusing on [disarmament] issues that do not exist.”

Or do they? Surely, the United States and Russia have made steady progress in dismantling and securing large portions of their Cold War nuclear stockpiles declared excess under treaties signed more than a decade ago. With the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, the two states have pledged to reduce deployed strategic nuclear forces to fewer than 2,200 warheads by 2012. Nevertheless, these actions are based on decisions taken years ago and are woefully behind pace.

The situation is even worse in other areas. Talks with Russia on verification measures and tactical nuclear weapons remain on the backburner. The administration has initiated research on new types of more “usable” nuclear weapons, stiff-armed progress on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and dithered on the fissile material cutoff treaty. President George W. Bush has also approved nuclear-use policies that undercut previous commitments to nonuse of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states in the context of the NPT.

Sensing that the Bush administration wants to erase any memory of earlier U.S. commitments to these and other disarmament commitments, leading non-nuclear-weapon states, including several U.S. allies, cried foul at the NPT meeting. Arab states continue to be frustrated by the failure to confront the reality of Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal; perhaps as a consequence, they have said little about Iran’s transgressions. The impasse blocked agreement on next steps and even a basic agenda for next year’s Review Conference.

Although there is consensus on the need to strengthen and preserve the NPT, there must also be agreement on how to do so. In the coming months and years, the United States must pursue a more balanced and credible approach that addresses the fundamental obligations of all states. The president’s own nonproliferation proposals, the NPT’s future, and U.S. national security depend on it.


 

 

 

 

The Bush Administration's Nonproliferation Policy: An Interview with Assistant Secretary of State John S. Wolf

Assistant Secretary of State for Nonprolif-eration John S. Wolf spoke with Arms Control Today Editor Miles A. Pomper and Arms Control Association Research Director Wade Boese May 13 about the Bush administration’s nonproliferation policy. The discussion followed a recently concluded Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meeting that assembled to plan the 2005 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference.


ACT:
The U.S. theme at the recently concluded NPT PrepCom was that a crisis of noncompliance currently exists with regard to the treaty. Could you briefly discuss the magnitude of the problem and what the U.S. solutions are to resolving it?

Wolf: In the last dozen years or so, we have seen North Korea fail to comply with its safeguards obligations, violating its Article II and III NPT obligations.[1] We have seen Libya admit to having had a nuclear weapons program. (See ACT, March 2004.) We have seen clear evidence of Iranian violations which in our view constitute Article II and III violations: the clandestine nature of their program, the unwillingness to respond to repeated calls by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) [to resolve questions about the Iranian nuclear program], and the continuing clandestine nature of part of their program. The whole question of the A. Q. Khan network, which has shown that nonstate parties are capable of gathering and selling sensitive nuclear technologies, up to and including nuclear weapons designs. (See ACT, March 2004.) The treaty was put together by states-parties determined to end the increasing number of countries that had nuclear weapons. That’s not to mention states that are outside the NPT, which are repeatedly talked about: India, Pakistan, and Israel. So, the treaty, which has three parts—disarmament, peaceful uses, and nonproliferation—can’t be successful if the core principle, the one that creates confidence in the international community, is being violated, and it’s the compliance pillar that’s being violated. That [lack of compliance] clearly will have an impact on other aspects of the treaty.

ACT: How do we bolster the compliance pillar then?

Wolf: We’re doing a variety of things to bolster compliance. First of all, we think it’s important for the world community to be clear and categorical that it’s determined not to see an expansion in the number of countries with nuclear weapons. The six-party process in Asia looks at the North Korean nuclear weapons program and says that the only acceptable solution is complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of [North Korea’s] weapons and nuclear programs. The insistent demand by the international community and the IAEA that Iran end its noncompliance and return to compliance is a first step, but I think it will take more than just the IAEA. It will take the international community writ large making clear to Iran that it faces two choices. If [Iran] chooses to continue down the nuclear weapons path, it will face increasing political and economic isolation. The alternative is to give up that path and be restored as a reputable member of the international community. Libya chose the benefits of coming clean. The work we are doing to root out the A. Q. Khan network makes clear that we are not prepared to accept those kinds of networks.

Then comes a whole set of things revolving around the president’s proposals of February 11. (See ACT, March 2004.) There is an increasingly widespread belief that the sensitive nuclear technologies related to enrichment and reprocessing should not spread horizontally.[2] We need to continue to strengthen the safeguards capabilities of the IAEA. We did that with a budget increase for the current biennium. We are doing that by looking to see the Additional Protocol become the new universal standard [for safeguards].[3] We hope that Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) countries will agree not to sell nuclear technology to countries that don’t have in place an additional protocol or certainly [haven’t] signed one by 2005.[4] We believe there are some IAEA management reforms that could also be pursued.

Resolution 1540, which [the UN Security Council] passed a couple of weeks ago, was a clarion call to the international community that every country has to raise the levels of its export controls and improve the nature of its enforcement. (See ACT, May 2004.) A. Q. Khan’s successes make clear that it’s possible even with good export controls to export, buy, and assemble sensitive nuclear technology. That’s an enforcement question and a sharing of information question. We will use the Proliferation Security Initiative increasingly as another active tool to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction—nuclear, chemical, and biological—and the means to deliver. [Those are several] things in motion to raise international standards, improve enforcement, and stop shipments of proliferation technologies as they occur.

ACT: Speaking of Resolution 1540, the United States persuaded other countries to accept it on the basis that it was aimed at nonstate actors. However, as you just noted in your remarks, it will require actions by states to toughen their export control laws, so it will be states that will ultimately be held accountable under the resolution. What are the standards to measure whether states live up to their responsibilities under Resolution 1540, and what are the consequences if they do not?

Wolf: The resolution seeks to improve export controls and enforcement measures to stop nonstate parties from acquiring dangerous weapons and technologies. I would submit that the resolution also looks at state-state transactions, as well as state-nonstate transactions. There’s a whole universe of state-state, state-nonstate, nonstate-nonstate, nonstate-state [transactions], and all of those need to be covered by comprehensive export controls and rigorous enforcement. We’re not any safer if it’s state proliferation to another state. We’re certainly not safer if it’s North Korea shipping weapons technology to Iran or if Iran is acquiring weapons technologies through state purchasing agencies.

ACT: At the PrepCom, the United States pushed members to judge compliance by intentions rather than capabilities. This would appear to put more of the burden on the accused rather than the accuser to prove its case. Is this a new interpretation of compliance?

Wolf: No. You have to look at both capabilities and intentions. The intentions part covers, for instance, a willingness to dissemble, false statements, and misdeclarations. All of those have to be in addition to the capabilities, which may be physical. You have to factor in the degree to which a country takes efforts to deceive the international community. North Korea did it. They did it from the get-go. They did it when they signed the NPT. They did it in the Agreed Framework.[5] So, you take all that into account. If you look at my PrepCom statements last week, you’ll see that I pointed to several cases where Iran said one thing in 2003, only to see it disproved by IAEA inspections during the last nine months. That kind of willful deception ought to be part of what countries take into account. Undersecretary [of State for Arms Control and International Security John] Bolton’s speech made clear that, if the test [for determining noncompliance] is simply either seeing a nuclear weapon or seeing a nuclear weapons test, then it’s far too late for the international community to act.

ACT: The recent PrepCom was intended to provide a set of recommendations for next year’s regular five-year treaty Review Conference. However, the meeting concluded with no such recommendations. Why?

Wolf: It was supposed to make efforts to come up with substantive recommendations. PrepComs haven’t. It also was supposed to complete work on a number of procedural issues, and it’s disappointing that it didn’t conclude all procedural work. It did choose a president-elect. It did come up with financing arrangements. It did come up with rules for procedure. But in the end, the Non-Aligned Movement[6] failed to agree to any of several proposals that were on the table on an agenda for the Review Conference. There were at least four, including the chairman’s own proposal, that the United States could have supported. So, in a way it’s disappointing that we failed to complete that work. It is not surprising that it didn’t come up with substantive recommendations. In the history of Review Conferences, that tends to be the kind of thing that gets done at the Review Conference and not before the Review Conference.

The meeting was actually good in terms of the opportunity that it presented to member states to express their views. Thirty-eight countries, I think, expressed concerns about Iran, for instance. Many talked about the problems of compliance. Many called for universal adoption of additional protocols, as well as safeguards arrangements for those states that still don’t have them. Many countries called for improved export controls.

The United States and other nuclear-weapon states had an opportunity to make the case that disarmament is in fact taking place. We reiterated our commitment to Article VI.[7] We talked about 13,000 weapons dismantled. The Moscow Treaty[8] reductions will lead to an 80 percent reduction in U.S. operationally deployed strategic warheads. Nearly 90 percent of U.S. nonstrategic nuclear weapons have been eliminated since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Over the last 10 years, we have eliminated 1,200 strategic bombers and missiles. No U.S. nuclear tests have taken place since 1992. No fissile material[9] has been produced for 15 years. Nine billion dollars has been spent on Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) programs.[10] In the former Soviet Union, over 1,000 ballistic missiles were eliminated, and 6,000 strategic warheads were removed. Seven hundred tons of fissile material have been removed from the weapons stockpiles in Russia and the United States, of which 250 tons of that have been converted to low-enriched uranium. In other words, it gave us a chance to make clear that disarmament is proceeding. But the fact is that it also provided us with opportunities to say the problem is not the nuclear-weapon states. It is the failure of some non-nuclear-weapon states to live by their obligations. And the failure by a few puts at risk the benefits for many.

ACT: Nevertheless, as you alluded to, the Non-Aligned Movement and the New Agenda Coalition[11] both criticized the United States for not doing enough on disarmament. And they also identified as one of the reasons for the failure to come up with [Review Conference] recommendations a U.S. reluctance to reaffirm the 13 steps.[12] Does the United States still support the 13 steps?

Wolf:
On the first point, it’s really interesting that when [the PrepCom was] talking about some of the proposals that the Non-Aligned [Movement] put forward at the last moment, the Russian delegate made the point, for instance, that one of their [Non-Aligned Movement] recommendations is that the nuclear-weapon states should improve reporting. He said that Russia had been providing reports and whenever Russia asked the Non-Aligned Movement, “Well, what do you think of our report? How could it be improved? Where do you see problems?” Russia gets no answers. So, [regarding] this sort of drumbeat about disarmament, some might wonder whether or not people are actually looking at the facts or simply reading the speech from last year without taking account of what happened in the year previous. The CTR programs go forward in Russia and the former Soviet Union; we continue to dismantle strategic weapons systems or they continue to dismantle warheads; we continue to immobilize fissile material, not by the kilo but by the ton; and yet those issues just seem to wander off the table.

ACT: What about with regard to the 13 steps?

Wolf:
The 13 steps were an important conclusion to the 2000 Review Conference. But the world moves on, and the discussion ought not to be locked in 2000. Some things have been overtaken by events. [The upcoming Review Conference] ought to focus next year on what’s relevant for 2005. I will give you one example. One of the 13 steps was the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. The United States and the Russian Federation have terminated the ABM Treaty.[13] So, to spend a lot of time debating whether or not we support that step is a real exercise in irrelevance, and we are not prepared to do it. The treaty does not exist anymore. It was a bilateral treaty, and it was ended legally.

ACT: I think we can all agree on the fact that it’s no secret that the ABM Treaty is no longer in operation, but what about the other 12 steps?

Wolf: I am not going to wander through the other 12 steps now and go through each one. It just does not serve a purpose. We would prefer to talk about the disarmament we are doing, and we are doing a lot of it. We could return to 2000 and pretend that the next five years did not exist, but we would rather start in 2005, see what the world situation is, and discuss where we go from 2005 forward.

ACT: What would the United States see as a successful outcome to the 2005 NPT conference?

Wolf: It’s just critical that the Review Conference takes a strong stand and looks at ways in which we can ensure that compliance takes place. A number of discussions will take place between now and then in specific fora, including the IAEA, its Board of Governors, and the [NSG]. I am not sure that I want to lay out today what our goals are going to be a year from now because I am not sure I can put it in specifics. But we will come back to the theme that we discussed [the last two years], which is that the treaty is put at risk by those few who are failing to meet their obligations and who are seeking to acquire nuclear weapons and weapons capabilities clandestinely.

ACT: Clearly, there is a disconnect between the nuclear-weapon states and the non-nuclear-weapon states on prioritizing disarmament versus nonproliferation. How can the treaty survive if these two groups of states can’t find a way to balance those two objectives?

Wolf: Because none of us have interests in seeing countries like Iran or North Korea have nuclear weapons. All of our security is jeopardized when countries like Iran and North Korea have nuclear weapons programs. What is put at risk for all of us is the ability to continue disarmament by the nuclear-weapon states and peaceful nuclear cooperation because the system just won’t be able to continue to operate in the face of mass violations.

ACT: On this theme of getting tough with proliferators, the administration said little when Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf pardoned A. Q. Khan for leading the largest black-market proliferation ring ever exposed. Does the administration’s blind eye to Khan’s lack of punishment undercut the U.S. message on enforcement and compliance?

Wolf: You made at least two assertions that I do not accept. I am not sure that we were silent, and I am not sure that we have turned a blind eye. We expect Pakistan to continue to take vigorous action both to help identify and then to help root out the Khan network. That is a consistent message. It has not changed, and it’s repeated to Pakistan at the very highest levels.

ACT: Is there confidence then that the Khan network is shut down, or is that still being worked on?

Wolf: We are working on that.

ACT: Pakistan has been very resistant to allowing outside governments or international inspectors into its territory. How can you have confidence that it is fulfilling the needs of shutting down this network if there is not access to their weapons programs, their officials, or to Khan himself?

Wolf: Both through our dialogue with [Pakistan] and through other means. I think we will have a good view as to whether or not they are cooperating. The Khan network is not limited to Pakistan, and so we are active with the United Kingdom, the IAEA, and others in a variety of countries to deal with people and entities elsewhere around the world.

ACT: Why not press the Pakistanis to allow U.S. officials to interview Khan? The United States was very insistent with Iraq leading up to the war that it have the ability to talk to their weapons scientists. Why hasn’t the United States had the same insistence when it comes to Pakistan, which is a U.S. ally?

Wolf: I think we have a continuing dialogue with Pakistan, and I’m not going to go into the details of it.

ACT: The practice of “naming names” is an important element of this administration’s nonproliferation strategy. However, it has been used to publicly name those states suspected of illicit weapons programs rather than their suppliers. For instance, at the recent PrepCom there was some dancing around the fact of not calling on Russia or other European states explicitly for their involvement or ties to Iran. Why shouldn’t suppliers be held as accountable as the recipients?

Wolf: We do hold them accountable. We do hold them accountable to the extent that, if sales of technology and technical assistance violate U.S. laws, we use sanctions, among other things, to take action against proliferators. If you look at the Federal Register, you will see more than several dozen sanctions cases that have been concluded within the last year. (See ACT, September 2003.) We have a very active dialogue with a whole variety of countries when we see entities engaged within a country in proliferation activities. I suppose we have nonproliferation dialogues with a dozen or more countries.

ACT: Russian and Chinese entities regularly appear on the list of sanctioned parties. Are these companies acting independently of their government? Is this something where their government is not enforcing their own export controls or turning a blind eye toward these activities?

Wolf: It would be best to say they are not enforcing adequately their export controls. China now has a new set of export controls. (See ACT, January/February 2004.) One would assume that with the new export controls—if one assumes that it’s not with the acquiescence of the government, and I’m not saying it is or isn’t—then that requires better enforcement. So, we are constantly working with countries like China, but not just China. We do export control cooperation with 40-some countries because your chain is only as strong as the weakest link. You identify China, but if you look at where A. Q. Khan purchased his goods, he worked in western Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. So, it is not any one country. We have a continuing dialogue with China, we have a continuing dialogue on export controls and enforcement with Russia, and we have these dialogues with 40-some other countries.

ACT: Does the United States support China’s bids to join the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)[14] and the NSG?

Wolf:
NSG, yes. MTCR, I do not think we have taken a decision on that yet.

ACT: In an address to the PrepCom, you called on Pakistan and India, who are obviously not parties to the NPT, to refrain from deploying or testing additional nuclear weapons because this would undermine the nonproliferation regime. Why doesn’t U.S. research into new nuclear weapons undercut the nonproliferation regime as well?

Wolf: We have a nuclear stockpile. It actually includes low-yield weapons, and the research and development is simply related to whether they are effective in the configuration they are in. We have made no decision to build a new weapon. We certainly have not tested a new weapon. This is a research and development process. I think there is a clear difference between our nuclear weapons stockpile and the question of deploying weapons and nuclear missiles in a volatile region like South Asia.

ACT: Does the United States support the European Union’s efforts to engage Iran by linking a potential trade agreement to Iran’s compliance with its safeguards agreement?

Wolf: I shouldn’t speak for the EU, but I think the decision to hold up the trade and cooperation agreement was based on a number of issues, including concern about Iran’s proliferation and human rights. The initiative by France, Germany, and the United Kingdom is quite different. (See ACT, November 2003.) All I would say about that initiative is that, to date, there are no signs that Iran is complying with it, as the initiative was originally described to us, and no signs that the initiative has had any palpable effect on Iran’s strategic decision to continue forward toward a nuclear weapons capability.

ACT: Are you saying it is essentially a pointless exercise that they are engaged in?

Wolf: I did not say that. I said, so far it has had no palpable effect. We think Iran is still moving in the direction of a nuclear weapons capability. I guess it would be better to say we cannot measure what impact it has had because it has led to a suspension of some things for now, but we still believe that Iran continues some clandestine efforts, not withstanding their commitments to the EU or the IAEA.

ACT: Specifically on that, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Semmel stated April 29 that “there is strong reason to question whether [Iran’s additional protocol to its IAEA safeguards agreement] is being fully implemented as Iran claims.” What is the strong reason, i.e., what is the evidence that they are not implementing their additional protocol?

Wolf: Because we have good reason to believe it.

ACT: I assume that means it is some sort of intelligence information?

Wolf: Well, no. It is good reasons.

ACT: The United States has repeatedly called on the IAEA Board of Governors to refer the Iran issue to the UN Security Council so that “appropriate measures” could be taken. What types of measures does the United States want the Security Council to take with regard to Iran?

Wolf: We believe that the IAEA Board of Governors has a responsibility [to report noncompliance to the Security Council]. In essence, they found noncompliance with safeguards obligations as long ago as last November. (See ACT, December 2003.) So, if the treaty architecture is to have any validity and have any strength when noncompliance takes place, [the noncompliance] needs to be reported. What the Security Council might do is still a bit of a hypothetical, but it would be far too simplistic to say that the only option would be to impose sanctions. There are a whole variety of things the council could do.

ACT: Such as?

Wolf: As a first step, I expect that it would add its political voice, the voice of the Security Council, in calling for Iran to adhere to its treaty obligation. That would be an important additional political fact that might help wavering countries, which have not yet accepted the noncompliance, to see that, in fact, there has been noncompliance.

ACT: Given that the council took no action after the Board of Governors referred the North Korean case in February 2003, why is the United States pursuing this course with Iran?

Wolf: We think it is important for the IAEA board to take decisions where it has a responsibility to take decisions. We think it is important for the Security Council to act. We don’t want to give up an important tool of the international architecture. It is always perplexing that, when the United States chooses to do something bilaterally or [multilaterally] outside an established international treaty, then we are called unilateralists. But when we say we believe that the multilateral system should address real issues consistent with treaty obligations and the UN Charter, people ask us why we are doing it.

ACT: What will the administration do in the event [the Iranian case] is referred to the Security Council and the Security Council does not act?

Wolf: We hope that the international community will take its responsibilities seriously.

ACT: The United States is calling for the ratification of the model Additional Protocol by every state by the end of 2005 as a condition for it to be eligible for nuclear trade. How is the United States expecting to accomplish this? Is this going to be something that is determined by the NSG, or is this adding a provision to the NPT? What is the process?

Wolf: I suspect that we would like to see the nuclear suppliers all have a common position.

ACT: When you say nuclear suppliers, are you referring to the group itself or also including those countries that are outside the regime such as India and Pakistan, that are becoming second-tier suppliers to programs around the world?

Wolf: To whom?

ACT: Well, with Pakistan you have the Khan network operating from its territory.

Wolf: Well, the Khan network was not government policy. It was private capitalism. India? Is India helping anybody?

ACT: I am not certain that they are, but given that these countries have the capabilities, the material, and the technologies, is it enough just to have the NSG…

Wolf: I am not aware that either of those countries have any intentions to export.

ACT: So, right now the focus is on getting the NSG to make a decision.

Wolf: Right.

ACT: And similarly along those lines, the other major proposal that you spoke about earlier is the denial of enrichment and reprocessing capabilities to those states that do not already possess fully functioning facilities and those that are not in compliance with the NPT. Is this something that will be done through the NSG then as well?

Wolf: We are working in a variety of settings to build support for that proposal. Ultimately, it might come to the NSG, but that is not the only place in which we are addressing it. We are addressing it bilaterally and in other groups. We will address it again in the NSG as we did in March at the experts meeting.

ACT: Another proposal is the creation of a special committee of the IAEA to focus on compliance and enforcement. There is also the call to prohibit countries suspected of or found to be violating their NPT commitments not to sit on the IAEA Board of Governors. My understanding is that some countries have referred to those proposals as being dead in the water right now. Is that the case? Is the United States going to continue to promote these two initiatives?

Wolf: Some people may think they are dead in the water, but we continue to promote them. I am sure we will come back to them both at the board and this fall at the [General Assembly].

ACT: Is there anything that we did not touch on that you would like to expand on or say for the record? This is your chance to get in the last word.

Wolf: No. You have asked a lot of questions. It is never a good policy to volunteer information.

Click here for a full transcript of this interview



ENDNOTES

1. Article II of the NPT commits non-nuclear-weapon states to not pursue or acquire nuclear weapons. Article III obligates those same states to put in place safeguards verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to prevent the diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful purposes to nuclear weapons.

2. Uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing are part of the nuclear fuel cycle, but they have direct application for building nuclear weapons. See “Curbing Nonproliferation: An Interview with Mohamed ElBaradei,” Arms Control Today, November 2003, pp. 3-6.

3. The 1997 model Additional Protocol empowers the IAEA to conduct more intrusive inspections and requires states to volunteer more information on their nuclear programs.

4. The Nuclear Suppliers Group is a voluntary export control regime of 40 states, including the United States and Russia, which pledge to coordinate and restrict their nuclear trade.

5. Signed in 1994 by the United States and North Korea, the Agreed Framework required North Korea to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons and freeze construction and operation of nuclear reactors suspected of being part of Pyongyang’s drive to acquire nuclear weapons.
In exchange, North Korea was promised two different reactors less capable of being used to build nuclear weapons and the delivery of heavy- fuel oil for its energy needs in the interim.

6. The Non-Aligned Movement is a loose coalition of more than 100 states from the developing world, including Iran, India, and Pakistan, which have strongly pushed for nuclear disarmament by the five recognized nuclear-weapon states: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

7. Article VI of the NPT commits the nuclear-weapon states, as well as all other states-parties, to work toward nuclear disarmament.

8. Also known as the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), the Moscow Treaty commits the United States and Russia to reduce their number of operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads to fewer than 2,200 by December 31, 2012. Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin signed the accord, which does not require the destruction of nuclear warheads or delivery systems but simply their separation, in May 2002.

9. Highly enriched uranium and plutonium are fissile materials, which are the materials essential to making nuclear weapons.

10. Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) programs are programs designed to help Russia and other former Soviet states secure and destroy their excess or outlawed nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.

11. The New Agenda Coalition, which wants to see faster progress toward nuclear disarmament, is composed of Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and Sweden.

12. At the 2000 Review Conference, the states-parties agreed to 13 “practical” steps, such as bringing into force the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which could be taken to achieve progress toward nuclear disarmament.

13. Signed in 1972 by the United States and the Soviet Union, the ABM Treaty barred both countries from pursuing nationwide strategic missile defense systems. The United States withdrew from the accord in June 2002 despite opposition from Russia and most of the world.

14. The Missile Technology Control Regime is a voluntary export control regime of 33 countries that pledge to restrict their transfers of missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction.

 

 

 

 

Survey Says: Americans Back Arms Control

Steven Kull

Arms control is being challenged today by proliferation crises from North Korea to Pakistan. Yet, perhaps one of the central challenges comes from those in the United States who contend that rather than strengthening and expanding the multilateral arms control regime, America and its allies should place greater reliance on the use of military threats against potential proliferators.

To find out how the American public feels, the Program on International Policy Attitudes conducted a nationwide poll in collaboration with the Advanced Methods of Cooperative Security Program, both programs of the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland.

The poll found that Americans continue to be highly concerned about weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proliferation. The median respondent estimated that at least 10 countries have secret programs for developing weapons of mass destruction. An overwhelming majority say that preventing the spread of nuclear weapons is a very (84 percent) or somewhat important (13 percent) foreign policy goal of the United States.

Americans also consistently showed strong support for arms control as a tool to address the problem. Ninety-one percent of those surveyed said that the United States should participate in the “treaty that bans all chemical weapons,” and the same number favored participation in “the treaty that bans all biological weapons.” Support for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) is also overwhelming, as is support for strengthening the inspection provisions of the biological weapons treaty. Support for such arms control treaties is robust among all demographic groups and all regions of the country. Though Democrats tend to be more supportive, large majorities of Republicans are supportive as well.

Views on Nuclear Weapons

American views on nuclear weapons exemplify these general attitudes. Clear majorities expressed support for reducing the role of nuclear weapons and ultimately aiming to eliminate them, especially when placed in the context of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). A majority of poll respondents (59 percent) were not aware that the United States has committed to seek the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons as part of the NPT. An overwhelming majority, however, approved of the United States making such a commitment. Eighty-four percent said that doing so was a “good idea.” An even higher 86 percent said the United States “should…do more to work with the other nuclear powers toward eliminating their nuclear weapons.” In each case, more than 70 percent of Republicans and 80 percent of Democrats and independents favored working toward elimination.

Even without the information that there was a quid pro quo as part of the NPT, a majority (albeit a significantly smaller one) favored the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons. Strong support for eliminating nuclear weapons is not a new phenomenon. A 1997 Stimson Center poll[1] found 80 percent in favor of “eliminating all nuclear weapons from all countries in the world through a verifiable, enforceable agreement.” In the same poll, 77 percent said they would feel “safer if [they] knew for sure that no country including the [United States] had nuclear weapons.”

In a similar vein, Americans also supported retaining a commitment the United States first made in 1978 and reaffirmed in 1995 not to use nuclear weapons against countries that have signed the NPT and do not have nuclear weapons. Respondents were presented three options on this issue.

Only 20 percent endorsed the position that the United States “should explicitly retract this commitment, so that countries that have biological or chemical weapons will be deterred from using them out of fear that the [United States] will use nuclear weapons in response.” Rather, 57 percent chose the option that the United States should “reconfirm” its commitment not to use nuclear weapons against countries that do not have nuclear weapons, “so as to discourage countries from trying to acquire or build nuclear weapons.” Interestingly, only 17 percent chose a status quo commitment that would have allowed them to sidestep this choice. That response suggested that the United States “should not make a statement either way, but just leave things as they are.”

Americans in overwhelming numbers also support an international agreement to reduce the number of nuclear weapons on high alert. Respondents were told that “some people have proposed that the [United States] and the other nuclear powers could lower the risk of accidental nuclear war by having a verifiable agreement” to lower the number of weapons on high alert, while “others oppose this idea, saying it is too difficult to make sure that the other countries would not cheat.” When asked their position, 82 percent said the United States should “work with other nuclear powers to reduce the number of nuclear weapons on high alert”; 16 percent said the United States should not do so.

Developing New Types of Nuclear Weapons

One of the most important current issues confronting Congress is whether the United States should develop new types of nuclear weapons, given its obligations under the NPT and its desire to halt nuclear weapons proliferation. The poll tested this in multiple ways. First, respondents were offered a simple question: “Do you think it is or is not necessary for the [United States] to develop new types of nuclear weapons, beyond those that it already has?” By a two-to-one margin (65 percent to 34 percent, including 54 percent of Republicans), a strong majority said they thought it was not necessary for the United States to develop new types of nuclear weapons.

These majorities remained after readers were led through a more nuanced series of arguments for and against new nuclear weapons development. When respondents were then asked whether the United States “should or should not develop new types of nuclear weapons, beyond those that it already has,” 59 percent rejected such development, only six points lower than the majority that opposed such development without having heard the arguments. The majority opposed to new nuclear weapons after the arguments, however, was made up entirely of Democrats and independents (69 percent and 64 percent, respectively). Sixty percent of Republicans came away thinking the United States should pursue such new weapons.

Related to the potential development of new nuclear weapons is the question of whether the United States should ever test nuclear weapons again.

Asked whether the United States “should or should not participate” in “the treaty that would prohibit nuclear-weapon test explosions worldwide,” 87 percent said that it should. Even though there is strong opposition to the CTBT in the Bush administration and among Republicans in Congress, 85 percent of Republicans polled supported U.S. participation.

Today’s attitudes reflect long-standing views. Yet, maybe this support is soft. How would Americans respond if they heard more of the expert debate on the question? To find out, respondents were presented two pairs of pro and con arguments about the treaty. Once respondents had worked through these arguments, they were then asked whether the United States should participate in the CTBT. There was little change. Eighty-four percent said the United States should participate in the treaty, and only 13 percent said it should not.

It seems that a modest majority thinks that the CTBT’s effectiveness in controlling proliferation is likely to be limited, but an overwhelming majority, including both Democrats and Republicans, thinks that joining the CTBT would not be a problem for deterrence and judges that the treaty’s security benefit is well worth the possible costs.

The American public also supports arms control efforts even when they are perceived as potentially conflicting with other foreign policy priorities. In the case of Pakistan, a key ally in the war on terrorism, Americans favored getting tough on Islamabad after Pakistani scientists were found selling nuclear weapons components on the black market, even if it threatened the hunt for members of al Qaeda. Further, they said that the most important lesson from the Pakistani nuclear technology transfers to Iran, North Korea, and Libya was the need to enhance arms control efforts, particularly international inspections.

Other Arms Control Issues

In a related vein, a highly controversial issue is over whether, as part of the biological weapons treaty, international inspectors should be given the right to examine biological research laboratories to verify compliance—something the United States opposes. A portion of the sample was told that “[c]urrently there is some controversy about whether international inspectors should be able to examine biological research laboratories in all countries, including the [United States], to make sure they are not developing biological weapons.” A near unanimous 92 percent said that “international inspectors should have the right to examine biological research laboratories.”

To test a different argument, a different part of the sample heard a different question but offered a similar response. These respondents heard the arguments that, “[i]f international inspectors can look into U.S. biological research laboratories, they may get information that they can use for their country’s advantage in commercial biotechnology and biodefense.” They also heard the counterargument: “Since countries like Iran, North Korea, Russia, and China have signed the treaty, it would certainly be important for U.S. security to be able to inspect their laboratories to seek to make sure they are not developing biological weapons.” After reading these arguments they were then asked their position. In this case, a lesser but still large majority of 76 percent concluded in favor of inspections, with 22 percent opposed.

In the course of the United States undertaking research on defensive measures against such biological weapons, the issue has arisen whether U.S. scientists should develop test pathogens, that is, new infectious diseases, as an aid to developing antidotes in anticipation of hostile parties developing such pathogens as biological weapons.

As this is a complex issue, it was presented together with the key arguments. Ultimately, respondents were then asked whether the United States should or should not invent “new infectious diseases as part of its biodefense research.” A strong majority—68 percent—said the United States should not invent such diseases for this purpose, while only about a quarter (28 percent) favored the idea.

Demographic Differences

Generally speaking, attitudes among men and women on dealing with proliferation are for the most part quite similar. Although women’s support for using U.S. power is sometimes more contingent on it serving global rather than strictly U.S. interests, and women put more emphasis on discouraging proliferation by setting a good example, such differences are by no means dramatic. Many polls since the attacks of September 11 have found that women feel more personally vulnerable to terrorism and WMD threats than men, and it is possible this increased discomfort counterbalances their tendency to show more support for mutual problem solving and nonmilitary approaches.

As has been noted above, although there are differences between Democrats and Republicans, they should not be overstated. Democrats and Republicans generally share the same majority view in support of U.S. participation in international treaties, taking a nonmilitary approach to the problem of proliferation, and dealing with Pakistan. Republicans approve, along with Democrats, the U.S. commitment in the NPT to work toward the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons, though Republicans are comparatively more willing to settle for simply achieving reductions in stockpiles. A notable difference is on the issue of developing new nuclear weapons, which Republicans initially oppose (as do Democrats) but then favor if they hear pro and con arguments before being asked to weigh in (while Democrats continue to oppose). Republicans are more swayed by arguments that question the effectiveness of international regimes and less swayed by arguments about military expenditures.

Conclusion

Clearly, a key finding of the poll is that American public opinion is largely at odds with numerous aspects of U.S. government policy, not only during the Bush administration but earlier as well. If a majority of the public were in charge, it does appear that the United States would be following a policy that pursues arms control solutions to the problem of proliferation much more aggressively than it has and that the United States would be more willing to accept intrusive inspections and constraints on the maximization of U.S. military capabilities.

So, why has this discrepancy not had more of a political impact? One reason is that Americans are not clearly aware that it exists. Fifty-six percent said they assumed that the United States was part of the CTBT, and 74 percent assumed that the United States favors giving international inspectors the right to examine biological research laboratories in all countries, including the United States. A majority (66 percent), however, did perceive the Bush administration as opposed to the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons, contrary to the preferences of the majority.

Would it matter if they were more aware of these discrepancies? Probably it would matter to some extent. Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is a very high-priority problem in the public’s mind, something of which the Bush administration was well aware when it sought to justify the war with Iraq. Also, the costs of addressing WMD proliferation through military force have recently become highly salient to the public, and thus the question of how best to address proliferation is likely to persist.

Still, it is unlikely that the public will get deeply involved in the details of arms control debates. Rather, what the public looks for are indications of the general orientation of their leaders: how much they emphasize cooperation or unilateral action, how much they emphasize principles of reciprocity or self-interest. As to what general orientation they are seeking, Americans are strikingly clear. Asked to choose between two statements characterizing broad policy orientations, only 16 percent chose the one that said the United States “should use its power to make the world be the way that best serves U.S. interests and values.” Rather, 83 percent chose the one that said the United States “should coordinate its power together with other countries according to shared ideas of what is best for the world as a whole.”

Although the public has some awareness that U.S. policy is not quite what they want it to be, many of the dots have not been connected. To be sure, if they were to become more aware of the discrepancy between their preferences and current U.S. policy, they might be inclined to show more support for the view of policymakers presumed to be in the best position to make some judgments. Nonetheless, on balance, this poll suggests that a public that was better informed about these issues would still back a policy that puts greater emphasis on, and is willing to make more accommodations to, efforts to address WMD proliferation through multilateral arms control.

For a complete viewing of the polling charts that accompanied this story, subscribe to Arms Control Today's print edition



ENDNOTE

1. The Henry L. Stimson Center, “Public Attitudes on Nuclear Weapons: An Opportunity For Leadership,” April 1998.



Steven Kull is director of the Center on Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland and author of Misreading the Public: The Myth of a New Isolationism (Brookings Institution Press, 1999).

 

 

 

 

Interview with Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation John S. Wolf

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May 13, 2004
Wade Boese and Miles Pomper

ACT: The U.S. theme at the recently concluded NPT PrepCom was that a crisis of noncompliance currently exists with regard to the treaty. Could you briefly discuss the magnitude of the problem and what the US solutions are to resolving it?

Wolf: In the last dozen years or so, we have seen North Korea fail to comply with its safeguards obligations, violating its Article II and III NPT obligations. We have seen Libya admit to having had a nuclear weapons program. (See ACT, March 2004.) We have seen clear evidence of Iranian violations which in our view constitute Article II and III violations: the clandestine nature of their program, the unwillingness to respond to repeated calls by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) [to resolve questions about the Iranian nuclear program], and the continuing clandestine nature of part of their program. The whole question of the A.Q. Khan network, which has shown that nonstate parties are capable of gathering and selling sensitive nuclear technologies, up to and including nuclear weapons designs (see ACT, March 2004). The treaty was put together by state-parties determined to end the increasing number of countries that had nuclear weapons. That's not to mention states that are outside the NPT, which are repeatedly talked about: India, Pakistan, and Israel. So, the treaty, which has three parts-disarmament, peaceful uses, and nonproliferation-can't be successful if the core principle, the one that creates confidence in the international community, is being violated, and it's the compliance pillar that's being violated. That (lack of compliance) clearly will have an impact on other aspects of the treaty.

ACT: How do we bolster the compliance pillar then?

Wolf: We're doing a variety of things to bolster compliance. First of all, we think it's important for the world community to be clear and categorical that it's determined not to see an expansion in the number of countries with nuclear weapons. The six-party process in Asia looks at the North Korean nuclear weapons program and says that the only acceptable solution is complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of [North Korea's] weapons and nuclear programs. The insistent demand by the international community and the IAEA that Iran end its noncompliance and return to compliance is a first step, but I think it will take more than just the IAEA. It will take the international community writ large making clear to Iran that it faces two choices. If [Iran] chooses to continue down the nuclear weapons path, it will face increasing political and economic isolation. The alternative is to give up that path and be restored as a reputable member of the international community. Libya chose the benefits of coming clean. The work we are doing to root out the A.Q. Khan network makes clear that we are not prepared to accept those kinds of networks.

Then comes a whole set of things revolving around the president's proposals of February 11. (See ACT, March 2004.) There is an increasingly widespread belief that the sensitive nuclear technologies related to enrichment and reprocessing should not spread horizontally. We need to continue to strengthen the safeguards capabilities of the IAEA. We did that with a budget increase for the current biennium. We are doing that by looking to see the Additional Protocol become the new universal standard [for safeguards]. We hope that Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) countries will agree not to sell nuclear technology to countries that don't have in place an additional protocol or certainly haven't signed one by 2005. We believe there are some IAEA management reforms that could also be pursued.

Resolution 1540, which [the UN Security Council] passed a couple of weeks ago, was a clarion call to the international community that every country has to raise the levels of its export controls and improve the nature of its enforcement. (See ACT, May 2004.) A.Q. Khan's successes make clear that it's possible even with good export controls to export, buy, and assemble sensitive nuclear technology. That's an enforcement question and a sharing of information question. We will use the Proliferation Security Initiative increasingly as another active tool to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction-nuclear, chemical, and biological-and the means to deliver. [Those are several] things in motion to raise international standards, improve enforcement, and stop shipments of proliferation technologies as they occur.

ACT: Speaking of Resolution 1540, the United States persuaded other countries to accept it on the basis that it was aimed at nonstate actors. However, as you just noted in your remarks, it will require actions by states to toughen their export control laws, so it will be states that will ultimately be held accountable under the resolution. What are the standards to measure whether states live up to their responsibilities under Resolution1540, and what are the consequences if they do not?

Wolf: The resolution seeks to improve export controls and enforcement measures to stop nonstate parties from acquiring dangerous weapons and technologies. I would submit that the resolution also looks at state-state transactions, as well as state-nonstate transactions. There's a whole universe of state-state, state-nonstate, nonstate-nonstate, nonstate-state [transactions], and all of those need to be covered by comprehensive export controls and rigorous enforcement. We're not any safer if it's state proliferation to another state. We're certainly not safer if it's North Korea shipping weapons technology to Iran or if Iran is acquiring weapons technologies through state purchasing agencies.

ACT: At the PrepCom, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton noted that there have been "at least four" recent cases of NPT noncompliance.

Wolf: I left out Iraq.

ACT: Are there additional countries that the United States is looking at?

Wolf: He also said that we don't exclude that there may be one or more countries that have clandestine programs.

ACT: But the United States has not identified those or named their names yet?

Wolf: He said that we have not excluded. We have not said that the ones named are the only ones about which we are concerned.

ACT: At the PrepCom the United States pushed members to judge compliance by intentions rather than capabilities. This would appear to put more of the burden on the accused rather than the accuser to prove its case. Is this a new interpretation of compliance?

Wolf: No. You have to look at both capabilities and intentions. The intentions part covers, for instance, a willingness to dissemble false statements and misdeclarations. All of those have to be in addition to the capabilities, which may be physical. You have to factor in the degree to which a country takes efforts to deceive the international community. North Korea did it. They did it from the get go. They did it when they signed the NPT. They did it in the Agreed Framework. So, you take all that into account. If you look at my PrepCom statements last week, you'll see that I pointed to several cases where Iran said one thing in 2003, only to see it disproved by IAEA inspections during the last nine months. That kind of willful deception ought to be part of what countries take into account. Undersecretary [of State for Arms Control and International Security John] Bolton's speech made clear that, if the test [for determining noncompliance] is simply either seeing a nuclear weapon or seeing a nuclear weapons test, then its far too late for the international community to act.

ACT: The recent PrepCom was intended to provide a set of recommendations for next year's regular five-year treaty Review Conference. However, the meeting concluded with no such recommendations. Why?

Wolf: It was supposed to make efforts to come up with substantive recommendations. PrepComs haven't. It also was supposed to complete work on a number of procedural issues, and it's disappointing that it didn't conclude all procedural work. It did choose a president-elect. It did come up with financing arrangements. It did come up with rules for procedure. But in the end, the Non-Aligned Movement failed to agree to any of several proposals that were on the table on an agenda for the Review Conference. There were at least four, including the chairman's own proposal, that the United States could have supported. So, in a way it's disappointing that we failed to complete that work. It is not surprising that it didn't come up with substantive recommendations. In the history of Review Conferences, that tends to be the kind of thing that gets done at the Review Conference and not before the Review Conference.

The meeting was actually good in terms of the opportunity that it presented to member states to express their views. Thirty-eight countries, I think, expressed concerns about Iran for instance. Many talked about the problems of compliance. Many called for universal adoption of additional protocols, as well as safeguards arrangements for those states that still don't have them. Many countries called for improved export controls.

The United States and other nuclear-weapon states had an opportunity to make the case that disarmament is in fact taking place. We reiterated our commitment to Article VI. We talked about 13,000 weapons dismantled. The Moscow Treaty reductions will lead to an 80 percent reduction in U.S. operationally deployed strategic warheads. Nearly 90 percent of U.S. nonstrategic nuclear weapons have been eliminated since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Over the last 10 years, we have eliminated 1,200 strategic bombers and missiles. No U.S. nuclear tests have taken place since 1992. No fissile material has been produced for 15 years. Nine billion dollars has been spent on Cooperative Threat Reduction [CTR] programs. In the former Soviet Union, over 1,000 ballistic missiles were eliminated, and 6,000 strategic warheads were removed. Seven hundred tons of fissile material have been removed from the weapons stockpiles in Russia and the United States, of which 250 tons of that have been converted to low enriched uranium. In other words, it gave us a chance to make clear that disarmament is proceeding. But the fact is that it also provided us with opportunities to say the problem is not the nuclear-weapon states. It is the failure of some non-nuclear-weapon states to live by their obligations. And the failure by a few puts at risk the benefits for many.

ACT: Nevertheless, as you alluded to, the Non-Aligned Movement and the New Agenda Coalition both criticized the United States for not doing enough on disarmament. And they also identified as one of the reasons for the failure to come up with [Review Conference] recommendations a U.S. reluctance to reaffirm the 13 steps. Does the United States still support the 13 steps?

Wolf: On the first point, it's really interesting that when [the PrepCom was] talking about some of the proposals that the Non-Aligned [Movement] put forward at the last moment, the Russian delegate made the point, for instance, that one of their [Non-Aligned Movement] recommendations is that the nuclear-weapon states should improve reporting. He said that Russia had been providing reports and whenever Russia asked the Non-Aligned Movement, "Well, what do you think of our report? How could it be improved? Where do you see problems?" Russia gets no answers. So, [regarding] this sort of drumbeat about disarmament, some might wonder whether or not people are actually looking at the facts or simply reading the speech from last year without taking account of what happened in the year previous. The CTR programs go forward in Russia and the former Soviet Union; we continue to dismantle strategic weapons systems or they continue to dismantle warheads; we continue to immobilize fissile material, not by the kilo but by the ton; and yet those issues just seem to wander off the table.

ACT: What about with regards to the 13 steps?

Wolf: The 13 steps were an important conclusion to the 2000 Review Conference. But the world moves on and the discussion ought not to be locked in 2000. Some things have been overtaken by events. [The upcoming Review Conference] ought to focus next year on what's relevant for 2005. I will give you one example. One of the 13 steps was the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. The United States and the Russian Federation have terminated the ABM Treaty. So, to spend a lot of time debating whether or not we support that step is a real exercise in irrelevance, and we are not prepared to do it. The treaty does not exist anymore. It was a bilateral treaty, and it was ended legally.

ACT: I think we can all agree on the fact that it's no secret that the ABM Treaty is no longer in operation, but what about the other 12 steps?

Wolf: I am not going to wander through the other 12 steps now and go through each one. It just does not serve a purpose. We would prefer to talk about the disarmament we are doing, and we are doing a lot of it. We could return to 2000 and pretend that the next five years did not exist, but we would rather start in 2005, see what the world situation is, and discuss where we go from 2005 forward.

ACT: What would the United States see as a successful outcome to the 2005 NPT conference?

Wolf: It's just critical that the Review Conference takes a strong stand and look at ways in which we can ensure that compliance takes place. A number of discussions will take place between now and then in specific fora, including the IAEA, its Board of Governors, and the NSG. I am not sure that I want to lay out today what our goals are going to be a year from now because I am not sure I can put it in specifics. But we will come back to the theme that we discussed [the last two years], which is that the treaty is put at risk by those few who are failing to meet their obligations and who are seeking to acquire nuclear weapons and weapons capabilities clandestinely.

ACT: Clearly, there is a disconnect between the nuclear-weapon states and the non-nuclear-weapon states on prioritizing disarmament versus nonproliferation. How can the treaty survive if these two groups of states can't find a way to balance those two objectives?

Wolf: Because none of us have interests in seeing countries like Iran or North Korea have nuclear weapons. All of our security is jeopardized when countries like Iran and North Korea have nuclear weapons programs. What is put at risk for all of us is the ability to continue disarmament by the nuclear-weapon states and peaceful nuclear cooperation because the system just won't be able to continue to operate in the face of mass violations.

ACT: On this theme of getting tough with proliferators, the administration said little when Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf pardoned A.Q. Khan for leading the largest black-market proliferation ring ever exposed. Does the administration's blind eye to Khan's lack of punishment undercut the U.S. message on enforcement and compliance?

Wolf: You made at least two assertions that I do not accept. I am not sure that we were silent, and I am not sure that we have turned a blind eye. We expect Pakistan to continue to take vigorous action both to help identify and then to help root out the Khan network. That is a consistent message. It has not changed, and it's repeated to Pakistan at the very highest levels.

ACT: Is there confidence then that the Khan network is shut down, or is that still being worked on?

Wolf: We are working on that.

ACT: Pakistan has been very resistant to allowing outside governments or international inspectors into its territory. How can you have confidence that it is fulfilling the needs of shutting down this network if there is not access to their weapons programs, their officials, or to Khan himself?

Wolf: Both through our dialogue with [Pakistan] and through other means. I think we will have a good view as to whether or not they are cooperating. The Khan network is not limited to Pakistan, and so we are active with the United Kingdom, the IAEA, and others in a variety of countries to deal with people and entities elsewhere around the world.

ACT: Why not press the Pakistanis to allow U.S. officials to interview Khan? The United States was very insistent with Iraq leading up to the war that it have the ability to talk to their weapons scientists. Why hasn't the United States had the same insistence when it comes to Pakistan, which is a U.S. ally?

Wolf: I think we have a continuing dialogue with Pakistan, and I'm not going to go into the details of it.

ACT: The practice of "naming names" is an important element of this administration's nonproliferation strategy. However, it has been used to publicly name those states suspected of illicit weapons programs rather than their suppliers. For instance, at the recent PrepCom there was some dancing around the fact of not calling on Russia or other European states explicitly for their involvement or ties to Iran. Why shouldn't suppliers be held as accountable as the recipients?

Wolf: We do hold them accountable. We do hold them accountable to the extent that, if sales of technology and technical assistance violate U.S. laws, we use sanctions, among other things, to take action against proliferators. If you look at the Federal Register, you will see more than several dozen sanctions cases that have been concluded within the last year. (See ACT, September 2003.) We have a very active dialogue with a whole variety of countries when we see entities engaged within a country in proliferation activities. I suppose we have nonproliferation dialogues with a dozen or more countries.

ACT: Russia and Chinese entities regularly appear on the list of sanctioned parties. Are these companies acting independently of their government? Is this something where there government is not enforcing their own export controls or turning a blind eye toward these activities?

Wolf: It would be best to say they are not enforcing adequately their export controls. China now has a new set of export controls. (See ACT, January/February 2004.) One would assume that with the new export controls-if one assumes that it's not with the acquiescence of the government, and I'm not saying it is or isn't-then that requires better enforcement. So, we are constantly working with countries like China, but not just China. We do export control cooperation with 40 some countries because your chain is only as strong as the weakest link. You identify China, but if you look at where A.Q. Khan purchased his goods, he worked in Western Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. So, it is not any one country. We have a continuing dialogue with China, we have a continuing dialogue on export controls and enforcement with Russia, and we have these dialogues with 40 some other countries.

ACT: Does the United States support China's bids to join the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and the NSG?

Wolf: NSG, yes. MTCR, I do not think we have taken a decision on that yet.

ACT: In an address to the PrepCom, you called on Pakistan and India, who are obviously not parties to the NPT, to refrain from deploying or testing additional nuclear weapons because this would undermine the nonproliferation regime. Why doesn't U.S. research into new nuclear weapons undercut the nonproliferation regime as well?

Wolf: We have a nuclear stockpile. It actually includes low-yield weapons, and the research and development is simply related to whether they are effective in the configuration they are in. We have made no decision to build a new weapon. We certainly have not tested a new weapon. This is a research and development process. I think there is a clear difference between our nuclear weapons stockpile and the question of deploying weapons and nuclear missiles in a volatile region like South Asia.

ACT: Talking about the non-NPT states, obviously you have two of the tougher diplomatic assignments in Washington: the Middle East Peace Process and nonproliferation. As you probably know, Tom Graham , a former acting director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, says that its time for Israel to abandon its policy of nuclear ambiguity and declare its nuclear capability. How do you think such an action would affect the nonproliferation regime and the Middle East peace effort?

Wolf: I was not aware that the U.S. government was taking a view on the Israeli nuclear ambiguity so I probably cannot comment on Tom Graham's suggestion because then I would be unambiguous.

ACT: You and other U.S. officials have declared that Libya should serve as a model for both Iran and North Korea. Do you think it is realistic for Iran and North Korea to follow the Libyan example when those two states have completely different relationships and different sets of circumstances with the United States and the world than Libya did?

Wolf: Each one of those is different too. But our message in the six-party talks is that the path for North Korea toward integration in the international community starts with complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of its weapons and [weapons] program. And they get something specific back for it from those important neighbors who they claim are a threat. But they have to start with the first step. If Iran's original concern was that Iraq was developing a nuclear weapon-as it appears that it was-then that program is null and void.

ACT: Going back to the previous question, [Iran] often cites the Israeli nuclear program.

Wolf: I think it is pretty unlikely that Israel is going to attack Iran in an unprovoked way. But a country, which consorts with terrorists, has an active [weapons of mass destruction] relationship with North Korea, has traditionally had kind of expansionist influence in its region, and the size of Iran, with nuclear weapons and missiles would be dangerous in the region and dangerous to all of us.

ACT: Does the United States support the European Union's efforts to engage Iran by linking a potential trade agreement to Iran's compliance with its safeguards agreement?

Wolf: I shouldn't speak for the EU, but I think the decision to hold up the trade and cooperation agreement was based on a number of issues, including concern about Iran's proliferation and human rights. The initiative by France, Germany, and the United Kingdom is quite different. (See ACT, November 2003.) All I would say about that initiative is that, to date, there are no signs that Iran is complying with it, as the initiative was originally described to us, and no signs that the initiative has had any palpable effect on Iran's strategic decision to continue forward toward a nuclear weapons capability.

ACT: Are you saying it is essentially a pointless exercise that they are engaged in?

Wolf: I did not say that. I said, so far it has had no palpable affect. We think Iran is still moving in the direction of a nuclear weapons capability. I guess it would be better to say we cannot measure what impact it has had because it has led to a suspension of some things for now, but we still believe that Iran continues some clandestine efforts, not withstanding their commitments to the EU or the IAEA.

ACT: Specifically on that, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Semmel stated April 29 that "there is strong reason to question whether [Iran's additional protocol to its IAEA safeguards agreement] is being fully implemented as Iran claims." What is the strong reason, i.e., what is the evidence that they are not implementing the additional protocol?

Wolf: Because we have good reason to believe it.

ACT: I assume that means it is some sort of intelligence information?

Wolf: Well, no. It is good reasons.

ACT: The United States has repeatedly called on the IAEA Board of Governors to refer the Iran issue to the Security Council so that "appropriate measures" could be taken. What types of measures does the United States want the Security Council to take with regard to Iran?

Wolf: We believe that the IAEA Board of Governors has a responsibility [to report noncompliance to the Security Council]. In essence, they found noncompliance with safeguards obligations as long ago as last November. (See ACT, December 2003.) So, if the treaty architecture is to have any validity and have any strength when noncompliance takes place, [the noncompliance] needs to be reported. What the Security Council might do is still a bit of a hypothetical, but it would be far too simplistic to say that the only option would be to impose sanctions. There are a whole variety of things the council could do.

ACT: Such as?

Wolf: As a first step, I expect that it would add its political voice, the voice of the Security Council, in calling for Iran to adhere to its treaty obligation. That would be an important additional political fact that might help wavering countries, which have not yet accepted the noncompliance, to see that, in fact, there has been noncompliance.

ACT: Given that the council took no action after the Board of Governors referred the North Korean case in February 2003, why is the United States pursuing this course with Iran?

Wolf: We think it is important for the IAEA Board to take decisions where it has a responsibility to take decisions. We think it is important for the Security Council to act. We don't want to give up an important tool of the international architecture. It is always perplexing that, when the United States chooses to do something bilaterally or [multilaterally] outside an established international treaty then we are called unilateralists. But when we say we believe that the multilateral system should address real issues consistent with treaty obligations and the UN charter, people ask us why we are doing it.

ACT: What will the administration do in the event [the Iranian case] is referred to the Security Council and the Security Council does not act?

Wolf: We hope that the international community will take its responsibilities seriously.

ACT: Speaking of North Korea, the United States has said that North Korea's dismantlement of its nuclear programs will yield benefits. Is the United States prepared to specify the benefits that North Korea will gain?

Wolf: Yeah, but probably not in Arms Control Today.

ACT: In the six-party working group talks, is there some element of this that is being conveyed in more specific terms that has not been given publicly?

Wolf: I'm sure [U.S. envoy] Joseph DeTrani will be glad to speak about what he spoke about after he has spoken.

ACT: Along those lines, there has been some discussion to provide North Korea with a written security assurance. How much progress would North Korea have to make in dismantling its programs to receive this assurance?

Wolf: I am sure these are all issues that will be fully discussed in the various rounds of the working groups and the plenary.

ACT: Let me ask one thing on your speech at the PrepCom. You said, "Should the DPRK do so, the United States stands ready to reduce its sanctions as North Korea takes steps to address our concerns." Does this signal that North Korea will not have to completely dismantle its nuclear programs before receiving benefits from the United States?

Wolf: I am sure my statement meant exactly what it said.

ACT: One other question on North Korea. You described North Korea as an urgent challenge at the PrepCom, yet this administration seems to be plodding along with periodic meetings taking place several months apart. Why doesn't the pace of talks match that of the rhetoric that time is running short? Is the United States prepared to accept a nuclear-armed North Korea for the time being?

Wolf: Just because the six parties get together at the intervals they do does not mean that there is not a lot of working taking place between the meetings. There is. There is a very constant diplomacy taking place.

ACT: With North Korea or among the other five states?

Wolf: There is a very constant diplomacy taking place.

ACT: The United States is calling for the ratification of the additional protocol by every state by the end of 2005 as a condition for it to be eligible for nuclear trade. How is the United States expecting to accomplish this? Is this going to be something that is determined by the NSG, or is this adding a provision to the NPT? What is the process?

Wolf: I suspect that we would like to see the nuclear suppliers all have a common position.

ACT: When you say nuclear suppliers, are you referring to the group itself or also including those countries that are outside the regime such as India and Pakistan, that are becoming second tier suppliers to programs around the world?

Wolf: To whom?

ACT: Well, with Pakistan you have the Khan network operating from its territory.

Wolf: Well, the Khan network was not government policy. It was private capitalism. India? Is India helping anybody?

ACT: I am not certain that they are, but given that these countries have the capabilities, the material, and the technologies, is it enough just to have the NSG…

Wolf: I am not aware that either of those countries have any intentions to export.

ACT: So, right now the focus is on getting the Nuclear Suppliers Group to make a decision.

Wolf: Right.

ACT: And similarly along those lines, the other major proposal that you spoke about earlier is the denial of enrichment and reprocessing capabilities to those states that do not already possess fully functioning facilities and those that are not in compliance with the NPT. Is this something that will be done through the NSG then as well?

Wolf: We are working in a variety of settings to build support for that proposal. Ultimately, it might come to the NSG, but that is not the only place in which we are addressing it. We are addressing it bilaterally and in other groups. We will address it again in the NSG as we did in March at the experts meeting.

ACT: Another proposal is the creation of a special committee of the IAEA to focus on compliance and enforcement. There is also the call to prohibit countries suspected of or found to be violating their NPT commitments not to sit on the IAEA Board of Governors. My understanding is that some countries have referred to those proposals as being dead in the water right now. Is that the case? Is the United States going to continue to promote these two initiatives?

Wolf: Some people may think they are dead in the water, but we continue to promote them. I am sure we will come back to them both at the board and this fall at the [General Assembly].

ACT: Is there anything that we did not touch upon that you would like to expand upon or say for the record? This is your chance to get in the last word.

Wolf: No. You have asked a lot of questions. It is never a good policy to volunteer information.

ACT: Thank you.

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Interviewed by Wade Boese and Miles A. Pomper

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