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"No one can solve this problem alone, but together we can change things for the better." 

– Setsuko Thurlow
Hiroshima Survivor
June 6, 2016
Nuclear Nonproliferation

Bush Emphasis on Proliferation Sanctions Stirs Debate

Wade Boese

In a radical departure from its predecessor’s practice, the Bush administration has been gung-ho about imposing proliferation sanctions, levying penalties against foreign companies and individuals 34 times in 2002 and 21 times so far this year.

The rate at which the Bush administration is imposing sanctions is three times greater than that of the Clinton administration, which averaged eight sanctions per year, according to June congressional testimony by Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton.

The change has less to do with changes in the underlying U.S. laws authorizing sanctions than a change in philosophy. Of the laws cited in the administration’s sanctions announcements, with the notable exception of the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000, most were also in effect during much of the Clinton administration’s two terms.

Top Bush administration officials are confident that imposing sanctions can change the cost/benefit analysis of potential proliferators and deter future proliferation. The administration repeatedly warns that countries can do business with the United States or with rogue regimes and terrorists, but not both. But skeptics, including some former top Clinton administration officials, contend that, although the threat of sanctions can be a useful lever to try and change behavior, actually imposing sanctions can have limited utility and be merely symbolic.

The Bush Administration and Sanctions


The driving force behind the policy shift is Bolton, a former senior vice president of the conservative American Enterprise Institute who advocates an in-your-face approach to dealing with rogue regimes. The undersecretary has pushed the State Department to impose sanctions to the fullest extent and has discouraged using legal provisions that allow the president to waive sanctions out of concern for broader national security interests.

In the past, and still to some degree today, various U.S. government entities have been reluctant to impose sanctions because they are generally acknowledged to be a double-edged sword. The State Department, which puts a premium on fostering good relations with foreign governments, has concerns about imposing sanctions for fear of upsetting other capitals, while the intelligence community is cautious about potentially exposing U.S. sources and methods critical to tracking proliferation. Backed by U.S. businesses worried about losing trade opportunities, the Commerce Department has generally opposed sanctions.

The Bush administration is proud of its aggressive sanctions style. Bolton noted in June that “for the first time, the State Department is reviewing every known transfer to Iran” to identify items that could aid Tehran’s pursuit of weapons of mass destruction or missiles.

Since taking office, the Bush administration has imposed sanctions on a total of 32 foreign entities—a term for both companies and individuals. The United States has penalized 18 of those entities multiple times since January 2001. A North Korean firm, Changgwang Sinyong Corporation, ranks as the top sanctions recipient with seven, the latest publicly announced July 25.

Chinese entities appear most frequently on the sanctioned roster. Of the 32 entities, 19 are Chinese. Indian and Moldovan entities are the next most numerous at three apiece. Two Armenian, two Pakistani, one Iranian, one Jordanian, and the Changgwang Sinyong Corporation account for the others. No entities from Russia, which is frequently cited in U.S. intelligence reports as a proliferation source, have been publicly penalized.

U.S. proliferation sanctions generally prohibit the charged entity from signing contracts, receiving aid, or importing arms and dual-use goods from the U.S. government for two years. Sometimes, the penalties can be imposed for longer periods, such as the July 30 announcement that the China Precision Machinery Import/Export Corporation would be sanctioned indefinitely.

Washington may also authorize stiffer sanctions barring commercial imports and exports with the United States. Earlier this year, the United States slapped such sanctions on the Chinese firm China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO), which is expected to lose about $160 million annually while the sanctions are in force.

But NORINCO is an exception. Many of the sanctioned entities do not trade with the United States or receive U.S. assistance. For these reasons, sanction critics assert that sanctions are often ineffectual and provide more psychological satisfaction than practical results.

Bush administration officials disagree. They claim that, even though the United States might do little business with sanctioned entities, the aim is to shame governments to better regulate their trade and brand proliferators as bad actors to discourage any business with them and to serve as warnings to others. Moreover, the officials argue that there has to be some penalty for proliferation to show that the United States is serious about stopping it.

Although administration officials say their sanctions are starting to have an impact, they would not cite specific examples. A senior State Department official interviewed August 25 said that it would take some time before results become evident but also remarked that this administration’s high number of sanctions point to the failure of its predecessor’s approach. This administration is “trying to see what happens when you impose sanctions and leave them in place,” the official stated.

The Clinton Approach

The Clinton administration preferred a more diplomatic approach. It often issued demarches—formal diplomatic notes—to notify foreign governments of activities by its entities that Washington wanted stopped. Sanctions were viewed as an option if demarches and diplomacy did not prove fruitful.

A current State Department official interviewed August 1 described the demarche approach as flawed because demarches reveal more information than sanctions announcements. Proliferators, according to the official, used demarches to better hide their dangerous dealings.

Noting that the intelligence community must approve all demarches, John Holum, Bolton’s predecessor in the Clinton administration, defended demarches August 22. He explained that foreign governments would not know what behavior the United States wanted changed without some details. Holum further stated that the U.S. objective was to change future behavior, not merely to punish offenders.

Bush administration officials say they still use demarches but more selectively than before. Washington might send demarches, rather than immediately applying sanctions, to governments that Washington considers close allies or that have demonstrated histories of responding to or acting upon past demarches.

China Under Scrutiny


No one country better reflects the two administrations’ contrasting styles than China. Between May 21, 1997, and the end of the Clinton administration, no new sanctions were imposed on Chinese entities.

During that period, the Clinton administration’s China policy was often at the center of a political firestorm over the direction of U.S.-Chinese relations. The Clinton administration was trying to negotiate China’s accession to the World Trade Organization against strong opposition from diverse quarters, including those who objected to Beijing’s human rights record and others who saw China as a growing threat to U.S. security. This latter constituency was bolstered by high-profile charges of Chinese nuclear espionage and illegal U.S. business assistance to China’s missile programs.

With regard to nonproliferation issues, Holum said the Clinton administration committed itself to improving the Chinese government’s export controls through intensive talks rather than punishing Chinese entities with sanctions and risking a decline in Chinese cooperation. Although the United States did not sanction any Chinese entities, it did suspend the right of U.S. companies to launch satellites on Chinese rockets. The Clinton administration talks led to a November 2000 Chinese commitment not to export missiles or related technologies capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.

The Bush administration has taken the opposite tack. Beginning June 26, 2001, it has sanctioned Chinese entities 37 times. Paula DeSutter, assistant secretary of state for verification and compliance, said July 24 that Chinese “entities are involved in too many sensitive transfers for the problem merely to be one of imperfect enforcement.”

Robert Einhorn, former assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation in the Clinton administration, said in July that the current administration does not always explain to China why its entities are being sanctioned and what Beijing can do to avoid future penalties. “The frequent imposition of sanctions, moreover, has diluted their value as a means of influencing Chinese behavior,” he added.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Liu Jieyi, a top Chinese arms control official, echoed Einhorn, claiming that Washington does not inform China what its entities are doing wrong. Liu speculated that Chinese firms are being punished for simply exporting to Iran.

Bush administration officials argue otherwise. They claim troublesome trade from China continues, despite Beijing’s unveiling last year of new rules regulating missile and dual-use chemical and biological exports. “In dealing with the issue of China and nonproliferation, we have our work cut out for us,” DeSutter said.


Bush Record on Proliferation Sanctions

Wade Boese

Can more flies be caught with honey or vinegar? The Bush and Clinton administrations would undoubtedly answer the question differently.

Since taking office, the Bush administration has taken a different tack to dealing with proliferation problems than its predecessor. Whereas the Clinton administration generally tried to engage proliferators and entice them to behave better, the Bush administration often seeks to change behavior through isolation and punishment. Although the Clinton administration did penalize and the Bush administration does talk, both have clearly demonstrated their policy preferences.

The two administrations’ different philosophies are reflected in their sanctions records. Over the past two years, the Bush administration has imposed sanctions 55 times on 30 different foreign entities—a term for both companies and individuals. In comparison, the Clinton administration imposed sanctions eight times per year, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton said in June congressional testimony.

The bar graph shows how many times the United States has imposed sanctions over the past four years. The table shows the different entities that the Bush administration has sanctioned. More than half of those entities have been sanctioned multiple times.

Careful readers will note a discrepancy between the two graphics. The total number of sanctions in the table equals 61, while the bar graph shows that the Bush administration has imposed sanctions a total of 63 times. This difference reflects the fact that State Department officials in interviews insisted the Bush administration imposed sanctions eight times in 2001, but specific evidence could only be produced for six.

Table 1. Proliferation Sanctions Levied by the U.S. Government from 2000-2003

Table 2. Entities Receiving Proliferation Sanctions from the Bush Administration

Entity
Country
Times Sanctions Imposed
Changgwang Sinyong Corporation North Korea 7
Q.C. Chen* China 4
China Machinery and Electric Equipment Import and Export Company China 3
China Precision Machinery Import/ Export Corporation China 3
Jiangsu Yongli Chemicals & Technologoy Import and Export Corporation China 3
Wha Cheong Tai Company China 3
Mohammed Al-Khatib* Jordan 2
China Machinery and Equipment Import and Export Corporation China 2
China National Machinery and Equipment Import Export Corporation China 2
China North Industries Corporation, NORINCO China 2
China Shipbuilding Trading Company China 2
CMEC Machinery and Electric Equipment Import and Export Company China 2
CMEC Machinery and Electrical Import Export Company, Ltd. China 2
Cuanta, SA Moldova 2
Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group Iran 2
Hans Raj Shiv* India 2
Mikhail Pavlovich Vladov* Moldova 2
Zibo Chemical Equipment Plant, aka Chemet Global Ltd. China 2
China Metallurgical Equipment Corp. China 1
China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation China 1
China National Machinery and Electric Equipment Import and Export Company China 1
Computer & Communications SRL Moldova 1
Khan Research Laboratories Pakistan 1
Liyang Chemical Equipment China 1
Liyang Yunlong China 1
Liyang Yunlong Chemical Equipment Group Company China 1
Lizen Open Joint Stock Company Armenia 1
National Development Complex Pakistan 1
NEC Engineers Private, Ltd. India 1
Protech Consultants Private, Ltd. India 1
Armen Sargsian* Armenia 1
Taian Foreign Trade General Corp. China 1
Total Number of Sanctions   61

* Individuals personally sanctioned

Sources For Tables 1 and 2: Federal Register and conversations with State Department officials

 

In a radical departure from its predecessor’s practice, the Bush administration has been gung-ho about imposing proliferation sanctions...

Countries Draft Guidelines for Intercepting Proliferation

Wade Boese

The United States and 10 of its closest allies are drafting a document of principles to guide their efforts to interdict shipments of weapons of mass destruction, ballistic missiles, and related technologies to terrorists and states of concern. This “rules of the road” document, which would not be legally binding, could be approved at a September 2003 meeting of the 11 countries in Paris.

Washington is leading the effort to draft the new document as part of its evolving Proliferation Security Initiative, which President George W. Bush first announced May 31. (See ACT, July/August 2003.) The initiative is intended to enhance participating countries’ capabilities individually and collectively to halt proliferation around the globe.

Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom have joined the U.S. initiative. Other countries might also be asked to participate or aid interdictions in the future.

Although the participating countries have identified North Korea and Iran as top proliferation threats, the initiative is ostensibly not directed at any particular country or countries. Government officials from the United States and other countries have refuted descriptions of the initiative as a blockade of North Korea.

In addition to working on the initiative’s guiding principles, the 11 countries agreed at a July 9-10 meeting in Brisbane, Australia, to begin conducting joint exercises to learn how better to coordinate and perform interdictions at sea, on land, and in the air. For the near term, these joint exercises will largely piggyback on or be conducted in conjunction with previously planned training missions and operations. The first exercise, which Australia will host, is scheduled for early September and will take place in the Coral Sea.

The 11 countries are confident they can carry out interdictions successfully, but there is uncertainty about whether they can gather sufficient intelligence to act. Speaking to reporters July 10, Paul O’Sullivan, deputy secretary of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said that perhaps the biggest challenge would be obtaining “enough information about the proliferation activities that are going on in a timely way.”

Crafting new international laws to facilitate interdictions is not a goal of the initiative. Although the chairman’s statement urged participating countries to “take robust and creative steps now,” it also underscored that any actions taken should “be consistent with existing domestic and international legal frameworks.”

Participating countries are still trying to figure out what types of actions are legally permissible. Speaking for the U.S. government, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said August 13, “We ourselves
haven’t hit on the total complete answer to our questions about liability and about international legality.”

One diplomat familiar with the initiative said in a July 30 interview, “Each country needs to do their own homework to find out what they can do.” The official added that the primary objective is to pinpoint “what we are able to do rather than pontificate over what we can’t do.”

Although Taiwan is not part of the initiative, a U.S. State Department official said Taiwan’s early August detainment of a ship bound for North Korea until it offloaded dual-use chemicals was “conceptually” in line with the possible types of action foreseen under the initiative.


 

The United States and 10 of its closest allies are drafting a document of principles to guide their efforts to interdict shipments of weapons of mass destruction...

Bush Emphasis on Proliferation Sanctions Stirs Debate

Wade Boese

In a radical departure from its predecessor’s practice, the Bush administration has been gung-ho about imposing proliferation sanctions, levying penalties against foreign companies and individuals 34 times in 2002 and 21 times so far this year.

The rate at which the Bush administration is imposing sanctions is three times greater than that of the Clinton administration, which averaged eight sanctions per year, according to June congressional testimony by Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton.

The change has less to do with changes in the underlying U.S. laws authorizing sanctions than a change in philosophy. Of the laws cited in the administration’s sanctions announcements, with the notable exception of the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000, most were also in effect during much of the Clinton administration’s two terms.

Top Bush administration officials are confident that imposing sanctions can change the cost/benefit analysis of potential proliferators and deter future proliferation. The administration repeatedly warns that countries can do business with the United States or with rogue regimes and terrorists, but not both. But skeptics, including some former top Clinton administration officials, contend that, although the threat of sanctions can be a useful lever to try and change behavior, actually imposing sanctions can have limited utility and be merely symbolic.

The Bush Administration and Sanctions


The driving force behind the policy shift is Bolton, a former senior vice president of the conservative American Enterprise Institute who advocates an in-your-face approach to dealing with rogue regimes. The undersecretary has pushed the State Department to impose sanctions to the fullest extent and has discouraged using legal provisions that allow the president to waive sanctions out of concern for broader national security interests.

In the past, and still to some degree today, various U.S. government entities have been reluctant to impose sanctions because they are generally acknowledged to be a double-edged sword. The State Department, which puts a premium on fostering good relations with foreign governments, has concerns about imposing sanctions for fear of upsetting other capitals, while the intelligence community is cautious about potentially exposing U.S. sources and methods critical to tracking proliferation. Backed by U.S. businesses worried about losing trade opportunities, the Commerce Department has generally opposed sanctions.

The Bush administration is proud of its aggressive sanctions style. Bolton noted in June that “for the first time, the State Department is reviewing every known transfer to Iran” to identify items that could aid Tehran’s pursuit of weapons of mass destruction or missiles.

Since taking office, the Bush administration has imposed sanctions on a total of 32 foreign entities—a term for both companies and individuals. The United States has penalized 18 of those entities multiple times since January 2001. A North Korean firm, Changgwang Sinyong Corporation, ranks as the top sanctions recipient with seven, the latest publicly announced July 25.

Chinese entities appear most frequently on the sanctioned roster. Of the 32 entities, 19 are Chinese. Indian and Moldovan entities are the next most numerous at three apiece. Two Armenian, two Pakistani, one Iranian, one Jordanian, and the Changgwang Sinyong Corporation account for the others. No entities from Russia, which is frequently cited in U.S. intelligence reports as a proliferation source, have been publicly penalized.

U.S. proliferation sanctions generally prohibit the charged entity from signing contracts, receiving aid, or importing arms and dual-use goods from the U.S. government for two years. Sometimes, the penalties can be imposed for longer periods, such as the July 30 announcement that the China Precision Machinery Import/Export Corporation would be sanctioned indefinitely.

Washington may also authorize stiffer sanctions barring commercial imports and exports with the United States. Earlier this year, the United States slapped such sanctions on the Chinese firm China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO), which is expected to lose about $160 million annually while the sanctions are in force.

But NORINCO is an exception. Many of the sanctioned entities do not trade with the United States or receive U.S. assistance. For these reasons, sanction critics assert that sanctions are often ineffectual and provide more psychological satisfaction than practical results.

Bush administration officials disagree. They claim that, even though the United States might do little business with sanctioned entities, the aim is to shame governments to better regulate their trade and brand proliferators as bad actors to discourage any business with them and to serve as warnings to others. Moreover, the officials argue that there has to be some penalty for proliferation to show that the United States is serious about stopping it.

Although administration officials say their sanctions are starting to have an impact, they would not cite specific examples. A senior State Department official interviewed August 25 said that it would take some time before results become evident but also remarked that this administration’s high number of sanctions point to the failure of its predecessor’s approach. This administration is “trying to see what happens when you impose sanctions and leave them in place,” the official stated.

The Clinton Approach

The Clinton administration preferred a more diplomatic approach. It often issued demarches—formal diplomatic notes—to notify foreign governments of activities by its entities that Washington wanted stopped. Sanctions were viewed as an option if demarches and diplomacy did not prove fruitful.

A current State Department official interviewed August 1 described the demarche approach as flawed because demarches reveal more information than sanctions announcements. Proliferators, according to the official, used demarches to better hide their dangerous dealings.

Noting that the intelligence community must approve all demarches, John Holum, Bolton’s predecessor in the Clinton administration, defended demarches August 22. He explained that foreign governments would not know what behavior the United States wanted changed without some details. Holum further stated that the U.S. objective was to change future behavior, not merely to punish offenders.

Bush administration officials say they still use demarches but more selectively than before. Washington might send demarches, rather than immediately applying sanctions, to governments that Washington considers close allies or that have demonstrated histories of responding to or acting upon past demarches.

China Under Scrutiny


No one country better reflects the two administrations’ contrasting styles than China. Between May 21, 1997, and the end of the Clinton administration, no new sanctions were imposed on Chinese entities.

During that period, the Clinton administration’s China policy was often at the center of a political firestorm over the direction of U.S.-Chinese relations. The Clinton administration was trying to negotiate China’s accession to the World Trade Organization against strong opposition from diverse quarters, including those who objected to Beijing’s human rights record and others who saw China as a growing threat to U.S. security. This latter constituency was bolstered by high-profile charges of Chinese nuclear espionage and illegal U.S. business assistance to China’s missile programs.

With regard to nonproliferation issues, Holum said the Clinton administration committed itself to improving the Chinese government’s export controls through intensive talks rather than punishing Chinese entities with sanctions and risking a decline in Chinese cooperation. Although the United States did not sanction any Chinese entities, it did suspend the right of U.S. companies to launch satellites on Chinese rockets. The Clinton administration talks led to a November 2000 Chinese commitment not to export missiles or related technologies capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.

The Bush administration has taken the opposite tack. Beginning June 26, 2001, it has sanctioned Chinese entities 37 times. Paula DeSutter, assistant secretary of state for verification and compliance, said July 24 that Chinese “entities are involved in too many sensitive transfers for the problem merely to be one of imperfect enforcement.”

Robert Einhorn, former assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation in the Clinton administration, said in July that the current administration does not always explain to China why its entities are being sanctioned and what Beijing can do to avoid future penalties. “The frequent imposition of sanctions, moreover, has diluted their value as a means of influencing Chinese behavior,” he added.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Liu Jieyi, a top Chinese arms control official, echoed Einhorn, claiming that Washington does not inform China what its entities are doing wrong. Liu speculated that Chinese firms are being punished for simply exporting to Iran.

Bush administration officials argue otherwise. They claim troublesome trade from China continues, despite Beijing’s unveiling last year of new rules regulating missile and dual-use chemical and biological exports. “In dealing with the issue of China and nonproliferation, we have our work cut out for us,” DeSutter said.


Bush Record on Proliferation Sanctions

Wade Boese

Can more flies be caught with honey or vinegar? The Bush and Clinton administrations would undoubtedly answer the question differently.

Since taking office, the Bush administration has taken a different tack to dealing with proliferation problems than its predecessor. Whereas the Clinton administration generally tried to engage proliferators and entice them to behave better, the Bush administration often seeks to change behavior through isolation and punishment. Although the Clinton administration did penalize and the Bush administration does talk, both have clearly demonstrated their policy preferences.

The two administrations’ different philosophies are reflected in their sanctions records. Over the past two years, the Bush administration has imposed sanctions 55 times on 30 different foreign entities—a term for both companies and individuals. In comparison, the Clinton administration imposed sanctions eight times per year, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton said in June congressional testimony.

The bar graph shows how many times the United States has imposed sanctions over the past four years. The table shows the different entities that the Bush administration has sanctioned. More than half of those entities have been sanctioned multiple times.

Careful readers will note a discrepancy between the two graphics. The total number of sanctions in the table equals 61, while the bar graph shows that the Bush administration has imposed sanctions a total of 63 times. This difference reflects the fact that State Department officials in interviews insisted the Bush administration imposed sanctions eight times in 2001, but specific evidence could only be produced for six.

Table 1. Proliferation Sanctions Levied by the U.S. Government from 2000-2003

Table 2. Entities Receiving Proliferation Sanctions from the Bush Administration

Entity
Country
Times Sanctions Imposed
Changgwang Sinyong Corporation North Korea 7
Q.C. Chen* China 4
China Machinery and Electric Equipment Import and Export Company China 3
China Precision Machinery Import/ Export Corporation China 3
Jiangsu Yongli Chemicals & Technologoy Import and Export Corporation China 3
Wha Cheong Tai Company China 3
Mohammed Al-Khatib* Jordan 2
China Machinery and Equipment Import and Export Corporation China 2
China National Machinery and Equipment Import Export Corporation China 2
China North Industries Corporation, NORINCO China 2
China Shipbuilding Trading Company China 2
CMEC Machinery and Electric Equipment Import and Export Company China 2
CMEC Machinery and Electrical Import Export Company, Ltd. China 2
Cuanta, SA Moldova 2
Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group Iran 2
Hans Raj Shiv* India 2
Mikhail Pavlovich Vladov* Moldova 2
Zibo Chemical Equipment Plant, aka Chemet Global Ltd. China 2
China Metallurgical Equipment Corp. China 1
China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation China 1
China National Machinery and Electric Equipment Import and Export Company China 1
Computer & Communications SRL Moldova 1
Khan Research Laboratories Pakistan 1
Liyang Chemical Equipment China 1
Liyang Yunlong China 1
Liyang Yunlong Chemical Equipment Group Company China 1
Lizen Open Joint Stock Company Armenia 1
National Development Complex Pakistan 1
NEC Engineers Private, Ltd. India 1
Protech Consultants Private, Ltd. India 1
Armen Sargsian* Armenia 1
Taian Foreign Trade General Corp. China 1
Total Number of Sanctions   61

* Individuals personally sanctioned

Sources For Tables 1 and 2: Federal Register and conversations with State Department officials

 

In a radical departure from its predecessor’s practice, the Bush administration has been gung-ho about imposing proliferation sanctions...

IAEA to Discuss Advances in Iran's Nuclear Program

Paul Kerr

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors will hold a crucial meeting on Iran’s clandestine nuclear activities this month to address concerns that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program. The meeting comes after the agency released an August 26 report saying that “there remain a number of important outstanding issues” about Tehran’s nuclear program that require “urgent resolution.”

That report was the latest in a series of warnings by the IAEA about Tehran’s nuclear activities. Prompted by the United States and other countries, a June IAEA Board of Governors statement called on Iran to resolve concerns created by the government’s failure to report nuclear activities “as required by its safeguards obligations.” The statement specifically called on Tehran to sign an additional protocol to its IAEA Safeguards Agreement and allow the agency to conduct environmental sampling at the Kala Electric Company—a site where Iran might have carried out illegal uranium-enrichment activities. Safeguards agreements are required under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which Iran ratified in 1970, to ensure that member states do not divert civilian nuclear programs to military purposes.

The Board’s statement came just after the IAEA issued a report June 6 about Iran’s undeclared nuclear activities. Agency experts have visited Iran several times during the past two months to verify information Iran subsequently provided about these activities.

The United States has long expressed concern that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program—a charge Iran has repeatedly denied. A State Department official interviewed August 28 said that the most recent report provides “further incriminating evidence” of Iran’s violations of its safeguards agreement, adding that the IAEA needs to continue to pursue these matters.

Iran Considers Additional Protocol

IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei visited Iran July 9 to urge Tehran to conclude an additional protocol, and a group of IAEA experts followed up on his visit on August 5-6 for further discussions about the matter. Since 1997, the IAEA has encouraged NPT member states to sign an additional protocol, which allows the IAEA to conduct more rigorous inspections, including visits to facilities that countries have not declared to the IAEA, in order to check for clandestine nuclear programs.

Although Iran has not yet agreed to sign it, Vice President Gholamreza Aghazadeh said that “Iran views the additional…protocol positively” and will continue discussions with the IAEA, according to an August 13 Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) report. The discussions are for clarifying details about the protocol, he said. Iran told the agency that Iran is “prepared to begin negotiation with the [IAEA] on the Additional Protocol,” according to the August 26 report.

Iran might have softened its stance on the issue of an additional protocol. Although a June IRNA report stated that Iran was conditioning its signing of the protocol on Western countries lifting restrictions on supplying nuclear technology to Iran, Aghazadeh said August 13 that “conditions are not important.” He implied, however, that Iran still wants access to nuclear technology, suggesting that the policy has not changed substantially. Article IV of the NPT says that states-parties “have the right to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.” The United States has laws against exporting dual-use goods and technology to Iran, and Washington has urged Russia to end its assistance for a nuclear program in Iran that Tehran and Moscow claim is for civilian purposes. (See ACT, January/February 2003.)

Secretary of State Colin Powell said August 1 that Iran signing the Additional Protocol wouldn’t be sufficient to satisfy Washington’s concerns about that country’s nuclear programs.

 

 




 

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors will hold a crucial meeting on Iran’s clandestine nuclear activities this month to address concerns that Iran is...

Iran Touts Missile Capability

Wade Boese

In a July military ceremony broadcast on state-run television, Iran announced that the medium-range Shahab-3 ballistic missile is ready for service. If true, the missile, which has an estimated range of up to 1,300 kilometers, could target Israel.

Israel and the United States have long criticized and tried to stop Iran’s ballistic missile programs. Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, described the latest development as an “extremely grave concern.”

Iran, which is also assessed by U.S. intelligence as pursuing nuclear weapons and exploring more powerful rockets than the Shahab-3, contends its ballistic missile programs are solely for defensive purposes.

The Shahab-3 is no surprise to Israel and the United States. In an April intelligence report on ballistic missile threats, the United States described the Shahab-3 as being in the “late stages” of development. Appearing July 11 on “John McLaughlin’s One on One,” Israeli Ambassador to the United States Daniel Ayalon said the Iranians “have not perfected the system yet, but they are working very hard on it.”

Beginning in July 1998, the Shahab-3 has reportedly accrued a mixed record in several flight tests, the last of which took place just weeks before the July 20 ceremony. Tehran described the last test as a success.

Much ambiguity still shrouds the missile. The Shahab-3 is modeled in part on North Korea’s Nodong missile, but U.S. government officials refused to comment on whether Iran could indigenously produce the missile. It is also not public how many Shahab-3s might be available for potential use. The Central Intelligence Agency reported in 1999 that Iran probably had a “limited number” of prototype Shahab-3s that could be deployed in an operational mode.

Israel says it is prepared to defend itself against an Iranian ballistic missile attack. Tel Aviv has deployed two batteries of Arrow anti-missile interceptors and is preparing to field another. Built in cooperation with the United States and designed to destroy short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, the Arrow has yet to be used in battle.

 

 




 

In a July military ceremony broadcast on state-run television, Iran announced that the medium-range Shahab-3 ballistic missile is ready for service...

Iraq's WMD: Myth and Reality

Daryl G. Kimball

The 2003 “pre-emptive” war against Iraq has been lauded by its proponents as a new model to address growing dangers posed by “rogue” states with weapons of mass destruction (WMD). To this day, senior U.S. officials such as Undersecretary of State John Bolton insist that the war was necessary because “the international regime that tried to enforce restrictions on Iraq obviously didn’t succeed.” Or did it?

A far different story has emerged than the one told by President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair. Although Iraq clearly failed to fully comply with UN disarmament mandates, by March 2003 it was apparent from the work of the UN inspectors that Iraq did not retain weapons of mass destruction that could pose an urgent threat. Years of intrusive UN inspections had dismantled the bulk of Iraq’s unconventional arsenal and effectively contained what remained of its WMD capabilities.

Meanwhile, U.S. and British intelligence did not uncover reliable, new information about Iraqi WMD activity to justify the abandonment of inspections. Nevertheless, senior U.S. and British leaders systematically misrepresented earlier national intelligence assessments in order to exaggerate the Iraqi threat and cast doubt on the utility of inspections. Over the last few weeks, each of their key charges has been discredited.

An ongoing public inquiry in the United Kingdom has shown that the September 2003 British claim that Iraq could “deploy some WMD within 45 minutes” was based on questionable single-source intelligence and was included over the objections of some British intelligence analysts. To date, no chemical or biological weapons have been uncovered.

In Washington, a similar pattern of deception occurred. National Security Council officials repeatedly ignored high-level CIA and State Department objections to the charge that Iraq was seeking processed uranium for weapons from Africa. As a result, the discredited uranium allegation was not only repeated in Bush’s January 2003 State of the Union address but in numerous other prewar statements and op-eds by top officials.

Another contested U.S. claim was that Iraq sought high-strength aluminum tubes for enriching uranium. In a classified October 2002 intelligence estimate, however, State and Energy Department intelligence agencies dismissed that interpretation as “highly dubious.” Nevertheless, Bush and his cabinet repeated the claim without qualification. When the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) investigated the claim and found that the tubes probably were for rockets, U.S. officials questioned the IAEA’s credibility.

The administration also charged that Iraq had unmanned aircraft “probably intended to deliver biological warfare agent” and could be used to carry out attacks on U.S. cities. The Air Force intelligence office, however, disagreed, saying that the small aircraft were for reconnaissance. Fresh evidence from Iraq now supports the Air Force assessment.

Another major U.S. charge was that Iraq had mobile facilities to produce biological weapons agents. In April and May, the United States discovered two mobile labs, and claimed they were used for bioweapons agent production. But the Defense Intelligence Agency now indicates the trailers were used to produce hydrogen for weather balloons.

A defensive White House might be hoping that the U.S. Iraq Survey Group will discover new proof of prewar WMD programs. Such findings would not alter the fact that the administration’s most dramatic claims about unconventional Iraqi weapons were wrong. The key question before the war was not whether Iraq had WMD programs in the past. Rather, did Iraq have active programs or weapons posing an imminent threat?

Taken together, the evidence shows that after a decade of inspections and sanctions, Iraq’s nuclear weapons program was dormant. Its chemical and biological weapons programs, while illegal and potentially dangerous, were probably geared to support rapid production capabilities rather than maintaining active stockpiles.

Intelligence is meant to inform government decision-making, not to be invoked or discarded selectively to justify predetermined political decisions. The conduct of the Bush and Blair administrations on Iraq has severely damaged the credibility of their governments, their intelligence assessments, and their leadership on other global issues.

The Iraq episode underscores the fact that international weapons monitoring and inspections are vital to augment limited national intelligence capabilities and provide an objective, factual basis for collective international enforcement of the nonproliferation regime. As the United States faces the next round of WMD proliferation challenges, it cannot afford to abandon its first and best line of defense against global WMD dangers: intrusive inspections and the arms control rules and institutions that make them possible.

Countries Meet to Discuss N. Korean Nuclear Stand-off

Paul Kerr

The United States and North Korea participated in multilateral talks August 27-29 in Beijing to discuss issues surrounding North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. The discussions, which also included China, South Korea, Russia, and Japan, marked the first time the two countries have met officially since April, when they participated in trilateral talks with China in Beijing.

The talks did not appear to achieve any significant breakthroughs. Although participants in the talks appeared optimistic that there would be another round of talks, North Korea cast some doubt on this shortly after the meetings ended. One of the chief reasons behind the impasse is a fundamental difference over timing: the United States insists that North Korea dismantle its nuclear arsenal before discussing security guarantees to Pyongyang or other issues; Pyongyang demands that the United States sign a nonaggression pact and take other steps before it eliminates its nuclear facilities.

Nonetheless, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in an August 29 press conference that the participants now “share a consensus” on several items: a “peaceful settlement” of the crisis through dialogue, the need to address North Korea’s security concerns, the continuation of dialogue and the six-party talks, the need to avoid actions that would escalate the situation, and a plan to solve the nuclear issue “through synchronous and parallel implementation.”

State Department spokeswoman Jo-Anne Prokopowicz said August 29 that Washington is “pleased” at the participants’ endorsement of the multilateral process, according to Agence France-Presse.

Despite positive comments from China and the United States, however, an August 30 statement from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) expressed Pyongyang’s dissatisfaction with the U.S. position at the recent talks, adding that Pyongyang has no “interest or expectation for the talks as they are not beneficial” to North Korea. The U.S. delegation reiterated its demand that North Korea dismantle its nuclear weapons program before addressing other North Korean concerns, according to the statement.

Wang Yi appeared to confirm that the United States had taken a hard-line stance during the talks, telling reporters September 1 that the U.S. policy is “the main problem” in achieving diplomatic progress.

Press reports indicated that the North Korean delegates threatened to test nuclear weapons, but the nature of their statement is unclear. According to an August 29 KCNA statement, North Korea told the other parties that it would not “dismantle its nuclear deterrent force” and “will have no option but to increase it” if the United States does not react positively to its proposal. Hatsuhisa Takashima, press secretary for Japan’s Foreign Ministry, said August 29 that North Korea referenced nuclear weapons but said he would not characterize the delegation’s statement as a threat.

Prokopowicz said August 29, however, that the North Korean statement at the talks was “an explicit acknowledgement” that North Korea “has nuclear weapons, but the United States will not respond to threats.” U.S. officials have said that North Korea made a veiled reference to nuclear testing during the April talks.


Attempting to Defuse a Crisis


U.S. officials had warned that the talks were the beginning of a process and not likely to yield quick results. It appeared that Washington was taking a somewhat harder line going into the talks than its allies.

A State Department official interviewed August 26 said the U.S. delegation, led by Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly, was to “comment” on a North Korean proposal put forward during the April talks. That proposal, according to a South Korean official, offered to eliminate Pyongyang’s two nuclear programs and halt its missile exports in exchange for energy assistance, the completion of nuclear reactors promised under a 1994 accord called the Agreed Framework, normalization of bilateral relations, and an “assurance of non-aggression.”

The April talks in Beijing were an effort to defuse the most recent nuclear weapons crisis with Pyongyang, which began last October when U.S. officials announced that their North Korean counterparts had admitted to a clandestine uranium-enrichment program in violation of several arms control agreements. In the series of tit-for-tat actions and statements that followed the October meetings, North Korea responded to U.S. pressure with several steps: ejecting UN inspectors charged with monitoring the plutonium-based nuclear facilities frozen under the Agreed Framework, withdrawing from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in January, and restarting its nuclear reactor.

Still, the exact status of North Korea’s nuclear program as the August talks began was unclear. U.S. officials said that North Korea told the United States during the April talks that it possesses nuclear weapons, threatened to transfer them to other countries, and referred to testing. Moreover, North Korean officials at the United Nations told the United States that North Korea has completed reprocessing the 8,000 spent fuel rods from its previously frozen plutonium reactor, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said July 15. Washington, however, cannot confirm these claims, Boucher added. During the April talks, North Korea claimed to have reprocessed the fuel rods, Secretary of State Colin Powell told Congress April 30.

Powell has said that reprocessing the fuel rods could yield enough plutonium for as many as six nuclear devices. But even if North Korea has extracted fissile material, it is unclear whether the country has used it to construct any nuclear weapons.

In addition, North Korea further muddied the waters August 29 when for the first time KCNA ran an explicit denial from Pyongyang to the U.S. charges that it had a uranium-enrichment program.

Bush said in a May joint statement with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun that the two countries “will not tolerate” a North Korean nuclear weapon, but U.S. officials have not specified what the United States would do if North Korea produces such weapons anyway.

China Finds a Compromise


The talks came about after intense diplomatic efforts by China to find a workable format—an issue that has been a major impediment to their taking place. Before the April talks, Washington insisted on a multilateral setting while Pyongyang insisted on meeting only bilaterally. Washington says it has insisted on multilateral talks because they will place the maximum amount of pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear program. North Korea has explained that bilateral commitments from the United States are the only way it can be sure that the United States will not threaten its security. (See ACT, May 2003.)

The April trilateral talks represented a compromise between these two positions. Afterward, the United States said it was willing to meet again but that it preferred multilateral talks expanded to include Japan and South Korea. Pyongyang responded that it would participate in such a format but wanted to first hold a bilateral meeting with Washington.

Aspects of the latest talks also represented a compromise. State Department spokesman Phillip Reeker stated August 27 that members of the U.S. and North Korean delegations met bilaterally on the sidelines during the first day of the Beijing talks. South Korean Foreign Ministry official Wie Sing-rak said that the U.S. officials “made comments about easing North Korea’s security concerns,” but he did not elaborate, according to an August 27 Associated Press article.

John Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, said during a July 31 speech that, in addition to multilateral diplomacy, Washington is pursuing two other tracks to counter the North Korean threat. The first is the Proliferation Security Initiative—a broad effort to prevent proliferation by persuading other countries to interdict the transfer of weapons of mass destruction and related technologies. Bolton described the initiative as a vehicle for pressuring the North Korean regime, but countries involved in the initiative are still discussing its specifics, and they have not yet made final decisions regarding interdictions. Boucher said August 18 that the United States is scheduled to participate in interdiction exercises in Australia sometime in September.

Bolton also mentioned the U.S. effort to persuade the UN Security Council to adopt a statement condemning North Korea’s actions. Washington, however, has been unable to overcome Beijing’s opposition to such a measure. Bolton said August 1 that the United States would delay going to the United Nations if multilateral talks make progress.

U.S., North Korea Stake Out Positions

According to the August 29 KCNA statement, North Korea made a proposal at the talks, similar to that made at the April discussions, for settling the nuclear issue. North Korea insisted that the United States end its “hostile policy” toward Pyongyang by concluding a “non-aggression treaty,” normalizing bilateral diplomatic relations, refraining from hindering North Korea’s “economic cooperation” with other countries, completing the reactors promised under the Agreed Framework, resuming suspended fuel oil shipments, and increasing food aid.

North Korea has repeatedly cited Washington’s “hostile policy” as the justification for its nuclear program, expressing fear that the United States intends to attack it in the same manner that U.S.-led coalition forces attacked Iraq in March. It has also cited the U.S. policy of pre-emptively attacking states developing weapons of mass destruction—as described in the Bush administration’s September 2002 National Security Strategy.

The planned U.S. response going into the talks was somewhat difficult to discern. But U.S. officials appeared to expect Pyongyang to take the first step. A senior administration official in an August 22 briefing characterized the talks as the “beginning of a process” and added that the U.S. delegation would “urge” North Korea to comply with Washington’s oft-repeated demand that North Korea “commit to the complete, verifiable, and irreversible ending of its nuclear arms program.”

Whether the United States would offer North Korea incentives to comply was uncertain. In his July speech, Bolton condemned the idea of negotiating with Pyongyang, saying that “giving into [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-il’s extortionist demands would only encourage him and…other would-be tyrants around the world.” Washington has repeatedly ruled out offering North Korea quid pro quos for an end to its nuclear program, and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice has dismissed North Korea’s April proposal as “blackmail.”

A senior Bush administration official said August 22, however, that North Korea’s compliance “could open the door to a very new kind of relationship” with the United States and other countries. This is an apparent reference to the administration’s previously proposed “bold approach,” which involves “economic and political steps” to help North Korea. The administration has repeatedly said that Pyongyang’s elimination of its nuclear program is necessary—although not necessarily sufficient—to reap the rewards of this policy, but the senior official indicated that he was not going to the talks “with some package of rewards in anticipations of progress.” Powell said August 1 that the administration would not “trade” economic incentives at the meeting for North Korean compliance.

Indeed, the administration has also insisted that issues such as human rights, missiles, and conventional forces be addressed before Washington would provide aid to North Korea. The senior official said August 22 that the talks were to be “primarily focused” on North Korea’s nuclear program, but some of these other issues could be discussed.

Washington did, however, indicate some flexibility. Powell said August 1 that the multilateral talks could provide some form of written security assurance to North Korea, although he ruled out a nonaggression treaty. In addition, the senior official said that the United States would not necessarily oppose other countries offering incentives to North Korea. Some of the other participants have indicated their intentions to so.

The agreement to solve the nuclear issue through “synchronous and parallel implementation” is perhaps another indication of U.S. flexibility on it previous position that North Korea had to dismantle its nuclear program before the United States would undertake actions of its own.

The two sides appeared to be far apart on two issues in particular. First, an August 20 KCNA statement emphasized that Washington and Pyongyang should take “simultaneous actions” to arrive at a solution, but Washington did not indicate that it planned to do so. For example, the senior administration official said August 22 that normalization of diplomatic relations was something that could occur “in the future, as progress is developed.” North Korea also has a sequence of steps it insists on following. For example, an August 20 KCNA statement said North Korea has insisted the United States must meet its demands before it could allow inspections of its nuclear facilities.

The second bone of contention is a nonaggression treaty. Although the United States said that it could provide North Korea with written security assurances that have less formal congressional backing, North Korea insisted on a treaty as a guarantee that the United States had reversed its “hostile policy.”

Administration officials have repeatedly said that the United States has no intention of attacking North Korea, and several joint statements, including the Agreed Framework, explicitly state this policy. North Korea, however, argues that the U.S. National Security Strategy—which explicitly mentions North Korea—and the 2002 Nuclear Posture Review indicate that the administration is preparing to attack it. A leaked version of the Bush administration’s January 2002 classified Nuclear Posture Review lists North Korea as a country against which the United States should be prepared to use nuclear weapons.

U.S. officials have offered conflicting statements in the last three months. In June, the administration emphasized pressuring North Korea by persuading other governments to interdict shipments of items such as weapons components and illegal drugs, which are sources of hard currency for North Korea. (See ACT, July/August 2003.) Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz argued in May that the Pyongyang regime was “teetering on the edge of economic collapse” and that this weakness was a “point of leverage” for the United States and its allies.

Powell said August 1, however, that he has no reason to believe that the regime is in danger of “imminent collapse” and that he plans to work with Pyongyang. He also acknowledged that North Korea’s neighbors do not support a policy of causing the regime’s collapse.

 

The United States and North Korea participated in multilateral talks August 27-29 in Beijing to discuss issues surrounding North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. 

Liability Concerns Jeopardize Renewal of Nonproliferation Programs

Christine Kucia

Two U.S.-Russian nuclear security programs administered by the Department of Energy (DOE) could be terminated because U.S. officials refuse to continue them under existing liability agreements that are deemed inadequate.

DOE officials insist that the liability language in the charter of the Plutonium Disposition Scientific and Technical Cooperation and the Nuclear Cities Initiative agreements—both set to be renewed this year—must “include liability provisions meeting U.S. standards,” according to a July 22 DOE press release. The same statement cited Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham: “We hope that the Russian Federation will accept our broad proposal on liability in time to allow for the extension of the Nuclear Cities Initiative Agreement,” which is set to expire September 22. The plutonium cooperation agreement lapsed July 24.

Washington insists on negotiating comprehensive liability provisions for foreign projects carried out in Russia to prevent the U.S. government and its representatives from being sued for accidents or problems that arise during the facilities’ building or operation. DOE operates an extensive array of U.S.-Russian nonproliferation programs under a variety of liability agreements. The plutonium and Nuclear Cities agreements, originally inked in 1998, contain fewer liability protections than language offered in other programs.

Bryan Wilkes, spokesman for DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration, said August 20, “We’re confident the dispute is going to be resolved because the programs are important to both countries. In the short term, this [dispute] will have no effect. But in the long term, if it goes unresolved, it will have a negative impact on the programs.” Wilkes added that, until the liability matter is settled, DOE will not start any new projects in either program.

The Nuclear Cities Initiative provides U.S. assistance to Russia to shut down former weapons production sites that comprised the core of Russia’s nuclear weapons infrastructure during the Cold War and to channel the talents of former nuclear weapons scientists and engineers into non-nuclear or civilian projects. The plutonium initiative enables U.S. and Russian scientific collaboration to help Russia dispose of excess plutonium, and the program is a key component of current efforts to establish mixed-oxide fuel facilities in both countries to begin disposing of 34 metric tons of plutonium under a September 2000 agreement. (See ACT, March 2002.)

Administration officials have sent mixed signals about each program’s future. According to the July 22 DOE statement, Abraham told Russian Atomic Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev that, despite the legal dispute, the United States intends to continue the Nuclear Cities Initiative under a provision that would allow the existing projects to continue.

Yet, State Department spokeswoman Tara Rigler told Global Security Newswire July 29 that projects under the now-expired plutonium agreement have been put on hold pending the negotiation of the liability agreement. Wilkes, however, noted August 20 that some plutonium disposition projects might continue under the auspices of the 2000 Plutonium Management and Disposition agreement. “Things are still moving forward,” Wilkes said.

In a July 22 letter to President George W. Bush, Representatives Chet Edwards (D-TX), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Ike Skelton (D-MO), John Spratt Jr. (D-SC), and Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) called for extending the nuclear security programs while continuing negotiations on liability language. They said that allowing the agreements to lapse or expire would not only jeopardize nonproliferation work in Russia but related plutonium disposition efforts in the United States as well. “The current situation raises doubts about the administration’s commitment to rapidly and effectively addressing the well-known nuclear security and proliferation concerns with Russia,” the members added.

Meanwhile, even the 2000 Plutonium Management and Disposition agreement faces questions about liability protections. Russia and the United States initially deferred liability discussions related to construction work on a facility in Russia that will process excess plutonium into mixed-oxide fuel for use in nuclear power plants—helping Russia fulfill its commitment to dispose of excess weapons-grade plutonium. A government source familiar with the issue warned that the present struggle over adequate liability provisions is the precursor to liability negotiations for building these facilities. Talks will intensify this fall because construction must begin in 2004 in order to meet the agreement’s timeline of beginning plutonium disposition in 2007. According to the source, “Russia needs to take the political decision to run its own facilities without a loophole to sue the U.S. for building the facilities.”

Administration officials point to liability provisions contained in the 1992 Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) umbrella agreement with Russia as the appropriate template for all nuclear nonproliferation programs. The Russian Duma, however, has not agreed to the liability requirements outlined by the United States, which would govern a large portion of U.S. threat reduction activities in Russia, so the umbrella agreement is considered provisional by the governments. Other nonproliferation program agreements negotiated after the CTR umbrella agreement did not contain the same strong liability provisions outlined in the CTR program.

Despite the dispute, other U.S.-Russian threat reduction programs operated by the Energy Department are moving forward. The United States and Russia negotiated access arrangements for a U.S. project to help shut down the last three of Russia’s plutonium-producing reactors in the closed nuclear cities of Seversk and Zheleznogorsk, the Energy Department announced July 17. Under the program, fossil fuel facilities will be constructed to replace the reactors, which still provide electricity to Russian residents and businesses in the region. After the fossil fuel plants are brought online beginning in 2008, the two countries will shut down the plutonium reactors. (See ACT, April 2003.)


 

Two U.S.-Russian nuclear security programs administered by the Department of Energy (DOE) could be terminated because U.S. officials refuse to continue them under existing...

NNSA Folds Advisory Council

Christine Kucia

In a surprise decision, the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) shut down an advisory committee established to review the agency’s research and development portfolio and make recommendations for strengthening its science and technology work. The action drew harsh criticism from several members of Congress.

The committee, which was created June 25, 2001, had a two-year term for its work, and the NNSA decided not to renew it. Committee members included physicists and other scientists with technical knowledge about nuclear weapons, as well as former government officials and experts with experience on a complex range of nuclear policy issues. The committee was created soon after the NNSA was established as a semi-autonomous agency of the Energy Department, when General John Gordon—the first head of NNSA—tasked the committee to “provide advice and recommendations on matters of technology, policy, and operation.” The charter also indicated that the advisory group “is expected to be needed on a continuing basis.” The committee met five times during its two-year term.

The committee’s termination occurred soon after Ambassador Linton Brooks was sworn in as NNSA’s administrator in May. (See ACT, June 2003). According to NNSA spokesman Bryan Wilkes, the group’s members should not have been surprised by its termination because federal advisory committees stand only for two years unless a specific renewal request is made. He added that, in the absence of the committee, the Nuclear Weapons Council—comprised of Brooks and two officials from the military and the Defense Department—will continue to develop guidance on nuclear weapons policy. “Ambassador Brooks has no shortage of advice,” Wilkes said.

Some former committee members disagree. “A committee like this was a very useful thing for NNSA to have,” Raymond Jeanloz, a University of California professor of planetary science, told ACT August 20. He explained that the committee provided analysis, recommendations, and constructive criticism for the agency. “We made recommendations that ended up being implemented. And we served a ‘checks and balances’ role,” he said.

Sidney Drell, a Stanford University physicist on the committee, had harsher words about the group’s lapse. “I presume they did not value us or found us a nuisance,” he said, according to a July 31 article in The Guardian.

Congressional objections drew attention to the committee’s demise. Representative Edward Markey (D-MA) blasted the decision in a July 29 press release. “[I]nstead of seeking balanced expert advice and analysis about this important topic, the Department of Energy has disbanded the one forum for honest, unbiased external review of its nuclear weapons policies,” he said.

Markey also sent a letter to Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, asking for an accounting of the committee under the rules governing groups established under the Federal Advisory Committee Act. The letter called for copies of the group’s final report to be provided to the Library of Congress; asked whether the committee fulfilled its mandate after holding only five meetings over the two-year term; and inquired how NNSA’s administrator will be advised in the future on complex technical and policy issues in the absence of “the only independent contemplative body studying nuclear weapons.”

Despite Markey’s efforts, NNSA continues to guard the committee’s final report. After his office requested copies, NNSA officials sent the final document to its Office of General Counsel, where it awaits further review by the agency. NNSA refuses to estimate when the report will be publicly available.

Jeanloz said he was “surprised” by the department’s decision to withhold the report, which he said was entirely unclassified. “I can’t think of anything in the report that would be detrimental or negative for the current NNSA leadership or NNSA in general,” he said, adding that refusing to issue the report “may make the document seem far more provocative than what it concludes.”




 

In a surprise decision, the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) shut down an advisory committee established to review the agency’s research...

U.S. Pushes Initiative to Block Shipments of WMD, Missiles

Wade Boese

The United States is banding with select countries to clamp down on suspected shipments of weapons of mass destruction, ballistic missiles, and related technologies around the globe. The initiative is in its formative stages, but its focus is convincing other countries to be more aggressive in stopping vessels and confiscating cargo within existing law rather than creating new international laws.

President George W. Bush unveiled the evolving U.S. effort, deemed the Proliferation Security Initiative, in a May 31 speech in Poland. Bush said the United States and its allies would pursue new agreements under the initiative to “search planes and ships carrying suspect cargo and to seize illegal weapons or missile technologies.”

John R. Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, testified at a June 4 congressional hearing that “legal, diplomatic, economic, military and other tools” would be used to pursue the interdiction mission.

The United States is initially limiting the countries it is recruiting for the initiative, but Bush said the United States would seek to “extend this partnership as broadly as possible.” U.S. officials began shaping the effort at a June 12 meeting in Madrid with their counterparts from 10 other participating countries—Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

The new initiative grew from the administration’s frustration over a December 2002 incident in which Spanish forces, acting in concert with the United States, stopped a North Korean shipment of short-range ballistic missiles but ended up letting the ship and its cargo go because they lacked a legal rationale for confiscating the missiles. (See ACT, January/February 2003.) In addition, the missile buyer, Yemen, which Washington sees as an important country in its war on terrorism, complained strenuously. “That was not the favorite moment” of the administration, a senior Bush administration official told reporters May 31.

Yet, it is unclear to what degree the new initiative will enable the United States to avoid a repeat of its December disappointment. The U.S. initiative, at this time, is not aimed at creating or changing international law. Instead, it is focused on determining what actions are possible within existing domestic law of participating countries.

Future interdictions will still be limited to locations where countries participating in the initiative have jurisdiction or are granted the authority to act. Stopping a ship and seizing its cargo in international waters will still require the consent of the country where the vessel is registered.

The senior Bush administration official explained, “And so one of the things we need to do with the countries that are interested is to decide what authorities we need for actions inside territorial waters, inside national airspace, at ports, in the air, to get things done.”

A U.S. Coast Guard official familiar with the initiative said June 17 that its primary purpose is to motivate participating countries to use existing law, authorities, and capabilities better and more actively to tackle weapons proliferation. The goal is to “identify gaps” in current practices and address them, the official said.

After their Madrid meeting, the countries participating in the initiative stated that they would “assess existing national authorities” to see what interdiction measures are possible. They are expected to share their findings at another meeting, perhaps as early as July.

A Democratic congressional aide said in a June 13 interview that the initiative will be a “useful tool but inadequate” if confined to enhancing the individual national authorities of a coalition of the willing. Such moves will do little to stop unwanted trade passing through international airspace or waters, the aide explained.

Proliferators could also seek to shield their exports and imports by restricting their trade as much as possible to the territory of countries not participating in the initiative. Many critical countries, such as North Korea’s neighbors China and Russia, are outside the initiative.

A European diplomat whose country is participating in the initiative said June 10 that there are known proliferation routes and chokepoints that can be targeted. Presumably, the United States will seek to enlist countries that are located along these routes or that serve as major international trade hubs or facilitators. For example, roughly 11 percent of registered cargo ships in 2002 flew the Panamanian flag, according to Lloyd’s Register, an independent organization that compiles shipping statistics used by the International Maritime Organization.

Countries must still work out the specifics of the initiative, although the European diplomat stated it did not involve “reinventing the wheel” but strengthening existing instruments. Another European diplomat said the same day that the initiative would be aimed at closing current proliferation loopholes. Both indicated that the general concept underlying the initiative has been under discussion for months and, in many ways, is already being carried out.

In his June 4 testimony, Bolton noted that, within the past two months, two separate shipments of goods believed to be destined for North Korea’s weapons programs had been seized. Bolton identified France and Germany as stopping one of the deals but did not specify which country or countries acted in the other.

 

The United States is banding with select countries to clamp down on suspected shipments of weapons of mass destruction, ballistic...

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