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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 91, Summer 2009

Disarmament News Review

Obama and Medvedev agree Framework for Strategic Arms Talks

Presidents Obama and Medvedev have signed a Joint Understanding outlining the parameters of a follow-on to START at a summit in Moscow on 6 July.

The Joint Understanding followed from the 1 April Joint Statement, in which the US and Russian presidents pledged to negotiate a follow-on to START, to be concluded by the time the agreement expires on 5 December 2009.[1] The July Joint Understanding was preceded by four rounds of negotiations, led by US Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller and Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov.

According to the Joint Understanding, the new treaty will require each side to reduce and limit their strategic nuclear delivery vehicles (SNDV) to 500-1,100 and their associated warheads to 1,500-1,675. The treaty would contain verification provisions that are simplified and less costly in comparison to START. The reductions would have to be achieved within seven years of the treaty entering into force and it would have a total duration of ten years.

Little change in strategic forces?

Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists notes that while the media has described the proposed cuts as drastic reductions from START levels, the new treaty will not limit the overall warhead stocks of each side as it seeks to limit only deployed systems.[2] Kristensen also notes that the new treaty would not require the dismantlement of any warheads nor would it affect the level of deployed non-strategic warheads or delivery systems, a key Russian position.

Writing for the Guardian, Acronym Institute Director Rebecca Johnson comments that, "If taken as target totals, today's announcement would be disappointing. But the numbers at this stage are less relevant than the significance of the two largest nuclear powers getting back to the negotiating table to work on collective security and commit to progressive objectives for legally binding, verifiable nuclear reductions." She suggests that, "Britain could help by reconsidering its own options and not barging ahead with Trident replacement."[3]

Further discussions on missile defence

The Russians were unable to secure any decision regarding their opposition to US plans to base portions of its national missile defence system in Europe, which remains a potential stumbling block to further progress on disarmament. At the insistence of the Russians, the post-START joint understanding stipulates that the new treaty will include provisions on the relationship between offensive and defensive strategic forces.

More importantly, the two sides agreed to a Joint Statement on missile defence issues that committed them to further discussions. The object of the expert-level discussions would be to: analyze ballistic missile challenges; explore cooperation on addressing ballistic missile proliferation; and to make recommendations on addressing these challenges, giving priority to diplomatic and political methods. In addition, the two sides agreed to accelerate work towards establishing a Joint Data Exchange Center, which would "become the basis for a multilateral missile-launch notification regime."

US-Russia Joint Understanding on strategic offensive arms, 8 July 2009

The President of the United States of America and the President of the Russian Federation have decided on further reductions and limitations of their nations' strategic offensive arms and on concluding at an early date a new legally binding agreement to replace the current START Treaty, and directed that the new treaty contain, inter alia, the following elements:

1. A provision to the effect that each Party will reduce and limit its strategic offensive arms so that seven years after entry into force of the treaty and thereafter, the limits will be in the range of 500-1100 for strategic delivery vehicles, and in the range of 1500-1675 for their associated warheads. The specific numbers to be recorded in the treaty for these limits will be agreed through further negotiations.

2. Provisions for calculating these limits.

3. Provisions on definitions, data exchanges, notifications, eliminations, inspections and verification procedures, as well as confidence building and transparency measures, as adapted, simplified, and made less costly, as appropriate, in comparison to the START Treaty.

4. A provision to the effect that each Party will determine for itself the composition and structure of its strategic offensive arms.

5. A provision on the interrelationship of strategic offensive and strategic defensive arms.

6. A provision on the impact of intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles in a non-nuclear configuration on strategic stability.

7. A provision on basing strategic offensive arms exclusively on the national territory of each Party.

8. Establishment of an implementation body to resolve questions related to treaty implementation.

9. A provision to the effect that the treaty will not apply to existing patterns of cooperation in the area of strategic offensive arms between a Party and a third state.

10. A duration of the treaty of ten years, unless it is superseded before that time by a subsequent treaty on the reduction of strategic offensive arms.

The Presidents direct their negotiators to finish their work on the treaty at an early date so that they may sign and submit it for ratification in their respective countries.

Signed at Moscow, this sixth day of July, 2009, in duplicate, in the English and Russian languages.

Source: The White House website, www.whitehouse.gov.

NATO Launches Strategic Concept Review

NATO has launched the process of reviewing its Strategic Concept at a conference in Brussels on 7 July 2009, but there are already questions concerning whether the Alliance will modernize its stance on nuclear weapons and proliferation, or whether supporters of the nuclear status quo will attempt to ring-fence the issue.

NATO's Strasbourg / Kehl summit held on 3 - 4 April agreed that the Secretary General would "convene and lead a broad-based group of qualified experts, who in close consultation with all Allies will lay the ground for the Secretary General to develop a new Strategic Concept and submit proposals for its implementation for approval at our next summit",[4] expected in late 2010 / early 2011.

In the same statement, however, NATO leaders once again reasserted that, "Deterrence, based on an appropriate mix of nuclear and conventional capabilities, remains a core element of our overall strategy" - a statement that opponents of reform claim recommits the Alliance to retaining its existing language on nuclear weapons. UK Secretary of State for Defence Bob Ainsworth, has already told the British Parliament that this statement "provides the basis of discussions between Allies on a revised Strategic Concept".[5]

Ainsworth's position is in stark contrast to the recommendations of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) Commission on National Security in the 21st Century, co-chaired by former High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina Lord Paddy Ashdown and former UK Secretary of State for Defence and former NATO Secretary General Lord George Robertson. In their report, Shared Responsibilities: A national security strategy for the UK, the Commission recommended that the UK Government "should use all its influence inside NATO to ensure that the review of NATO's strategic concept produces a result sensitive to and supportive of the need for a successful strengthening of the NPT, both throughout the 2010 NPT Review Conference period and beyond."[6]

Addressing the 7 July conference, then Alliance Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said that he hoped that the new Strategic Concept would "finally lay to rest the notion that there is any distinction between security at home and security abroad." He referred to President Obama's vision of a world free from nuclear weapons and the risks posed by Iran and North Korea's nuclear programmes, but was non-committal on the potential role for NATO.

Former US Secretary of State Dr Madeleine Albright - who has now been appointed as Chair of the Group of experts on the Strategic Concept - was prepared to go further, saying that, "We should be united in our support for arms control and for a future in which nuclear weapons play an ever-diminishing security role."[7] Albright's language is welcome as it is an area where NATO could make a real difference to prospects for nuclear non-proliferation. It also appears to echo the call of the 2000 NPT Review Conference for a diminishing role for nuclear weapons in security policies.

Also speaking at the conference, IAEA Director General Dr Mohamed ElBaradei called on the Alliance to decrease heavily its "reliance on nuclear weapons". "Insisting that nuclear is the supreme guarantee is the absolute wrong message to the rest of the world," he said.[8]

Taking office at the beginning of August, new NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (previously Prime Minister of Denmark) used his first press conference to announce the members of NATO's expert panel on the strategic concept[09] and said that he wanted the process to be the "most inclusive process of policy development NATO has ever conducted". The experts are to "consult as widely as possible, in NATO and far beyond, with governments, think tanks, NGOs and other international organizations," along with a "programme of public consultation". Rasmussen said he would "conduct town halls in as many NATO countries as I can, to hear from all walks of life."[10] Whilst Rasmussen said little about his views on the future content of the Strategic Concept, he highlighted NATO-Russia relations, including the scope for joint work on a range of issues including "non-proliferation".

The Strategic Concept is NATO's highest-level political strategy document, providing guidance to Alliance military strategy. It was last revised in 1999, during the last days of the Clinton administration and against the backdrop of the Alliance's war over Kosovo. Controversially, the 1999 Strategic Concept reaffirmed Cold War language committing NATO to nuclear weapons as the "supreme guarantee" of Alliance security - language that has subsequently been used by proliferators in support of their nuclear programmes.

The 1999 Strategic Concept maintained that allied security continued to "require widespread participation by European Allies involved in collective defence planning in nuclear roles, in peacetime basing of nuclear forces on their territory and in command, control and consultation arrangements." It also insisted that, "Nuclear forces based in Europe and committed to NATO provide an essential political and military link between the European and the North American members of the Alliance."

This language now looks increasingly dated as these weapons are increasingly recognized as being obsolete and counterproductive to improving relations with Russia. In December 2008, the US Task Force on DoD Nuclear Weapons Management found that senior figures in US European Command (USEUCOM) see US nuclear weapons in Europe as having "no military value" and see "no military downside" to the unilateral withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Europe.[11]

The role of US tactical nuclear weapons in Europe is now said to be "political" rather than "military", but this too seems dated, as the outcome of the Alliance's Afghanistan mission - which currently appears to be in doubt - now seems much more pertinent to future relations between the US and its European allies.

There is also increasing political opposition to nuclear sharing and the continued basing of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe from the host countries. In January 2009, former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, former President Richard von Weizsäcker, along with former Ministers Egon Bahr and Hans-Dietrich Genscher published an op-ed in New York Times calling for all remaining U.S. warheads to be withdrawn from German territory.[12]

UK publishes Roadmap to 2010

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has launched the UK's Road to 2010 plan,[13] which is intended to "lead"[14] global efforts for a successful NPT Review Conference. The report once again talks about the need to "establish the conditions where we can consider a world free of nuclear weapons", but emphasises that the elimination of nuclear weapons is an "eventual" goal, which "cannot be achieved overnight".

The plan also has a strong focus on nuclear energy, setting out the aim of delivering "in 2010 a renewed and enduring grand bargain on nuclear power, that can underpin our security and prosperity in the decades to come."

Regarding the UK's nuclear weapon system, Trident, the Road plan states that, "Given the certainty that a number of countries will retain substantial nuclear arsenals for the foreseeable future and the continuing risk of further nuclear proliferation, it is premature to judge that a nuclear threat to UK national security will not arise in the future, and the Government therefore judges that our minimum deterrent remains a necessary element of our national security, as well as forming part of NATO's collective security."

The UK's stance on disarmament emphasizes the need for "multilateral" and not "unilateral" steps. "The road to zero requires multilateral disarmament. A decision not to renew our strategic deterrent would commit the UK Government to unilateral disarmament in still uncertain circumstances." But, the point at which the UK would be willing to enter negotiations on its own Trident programme still appears to be a long way off. The document states, "once the strategic conditions are established that allow the US and Russia to make substantial reductions beyond those being currently negotiated of their warhead stockpiles, we believe that it is likely to be appropriate for the UK to reconsider the size of its own stockpile of operationally available warheads."

On 3-4 September, the UK hosted its much-heralded P5 conference on disarmament and non-proliferation, originally proposed by then UK Secretary of State for Defence Des Browne in his February 2008 speech to the Conference on Disarmament and also referred to by Gordon Brown in his March 2009 speech on nuclear disarmament. The meeting appears to have been a low-key event, somewhat short on any substantive agreements. A brief statement posted on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website notes that, "the P5 considered the confidence-building, verification and compliance challenges associated with achieving further progress toward disarmament and non-proliferation, and steps to address those challenges. They looked at ways to increase mutual understanding by sharing definitions of nuclear terminology and information about their nuclear doctrines and capabilities. They made presentations on enhancing P5 strategic stability and building mutual confidence through voluntary transparency and other measures."[15]

Calls to delay the Trident Initial Gate

Meanwhile the UK Government has been facing increased domestic pressure concerning its plans to renew the Trident system.[16] On 16 June, the Liberal Democrats became the first of the major parties at Westminster to withdraw their support for replacing Trident with a 'like-for-like' system. Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg told the BBC that he had "changed his mind" over the issue. "We have to be realistic and candid about what we can and can't afford as a nation," he said.[17]

Parliamentarians of all parties have also called for the UK's 'Initial Gate' decision - due this autumn - to proceed to the next stage of design work on Trident submarines, to be postponed pending further debate on Trident replacement and the alternatives. In June 2009, the cross party Foreign Affairs Select Committee report on Global Security: Non-Proliferation recommended that "the Government should not take any decision at the Initial Gate stage until Parliament has had the chance to scrutinize the matter in a debate."[18] Similarly, an Early Day Motion tabled by Jeremy Corbyn MP (Labour) calling for the Initial Gate decision to "be delayed until Parliament is in session and can be presented with the report for scrutiny" attracted support from 165 MPs of all political parties.

Writing in the Financial Times, former chair of the Public Accounts Committee David Davis MP (Conservative) argues that, "The current pressure on national spending plans mean we have to challenge every government spending decision from fundamental principles. This is particularly true of the big programmes, no matter how politically difficult. One of the obvious, but controversial, big programmes is the proposed Trident upgrade."[19]

In July 2009, a number of UK newspapers reported (and welcomed) a delay to the Initial Gate decision. The Guardian cited government officials as revealing that the decision would be postponed until 2010, after the NPT Review Conference and the final date for a UK general election.[20] The Financial Times described the decision as "a sensible decision" and an "excellent move".[21]

Unfortunately this warm welcome from the media may have been premature. In his response to the Foreign Affairs Committee on 14 August, the Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs states, "Our current plan remains to consider an approvals case in the autumn. We will of course continue to review the most appropriate time to consider this case. Initial Gate is about evaluating the relative technical and engineering merits of potential submarine designs and selecting one broad submarine design to allow for detailed design work to be carried out. Because of the technical rather than policy nature of the decisions required at Initial Gate, Parliament does not get involved in the Department's procurement process at this stage, although we do propose to update Parliament on progress after Initial Gate."[22]

Will UK Defence Review address Trident?

On 7 July Secretary of State for Defence Bob Ainsworth announced that the Government was "beginning a process that will enable a strategic defence review early in the next Parliament".[23] Almost immediately, the Guardian reported that Trident would be excluded from the review. It quoted unnamed defence officials as saying, "There is no sacred cow besides Trident"[24]

At the end of June IPPR's Commission on National Security, led by Lords Ashdown and Robertson had called for a more far reaching review. In its Shared Security Report, the Commission recommended that: "The future of Britain's independent nuclear deterrent should be considered as an integral part of the recommended Strategic Review of Security." "Before any further decision of substance is taken on this matter, Parliament must have a further opportunity to vote," the Commission concluded. The call to address Trident renewal in the context of a Strategic Security review is similar to the Acronym Institute's argument for a Strategic Security and Defence Review in its 2006 analysis of nuclear policy Worse than Irrelevant.

Prime Minister's Statement on the Road to 2010 plan

Statement on Nuclear non-proliferation, 10 Downing Street, 16 July 2009.

I am today laying before the House the Government's Road to 2010 plan. This is a strategy that will lead us into the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference and beyond. The " Road to 2010 " covers every dimension of the nuclear issues that are facing us today and sets out how the UK will play a leading role in tackling them. Next year's conference provides an opportunity to renew and re-invigorate the bargain at the heart of the NPT which grants states access to civil nuclear power in return for a commitment not to proliferate nuclear weapons, and places a responsibility on nuclear weapons states to show leadership on the question of disarmament.

The UK remains committed to the reduction and eventual elimination of nuclear weapons, and to ensuring that nations have access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. All states, including Iran and North Korea, have a right to such access - and we are ready to help, so long as these states reject the development of nuclear weapons. To promote the development of cost-effective civil nuclear technology which cannot be diverted for use in weapons programmes, we are launching a nuclear science centre of excellence. This centre will enhance collaborations between academia, industry and government, both domestically and internationally, to focus on this important and difficult task. The Government is committing £20 million over the first five years to this centre.

All nuclear material must be held securely, to prevent it falling into the hands of terrorist groups or hostile states. The UK believes that nuclear security must become the fourth pillar of the global nuclear framework, alongside civil power, non-proliferation and disarmament. Momentum for greater nuclear security is growing, with President Obama announcing a nuclear security summit in the Spring of next year, which the UK will take a full part in. In order to help reduce the risk that material will be lost or stolen, the UK is making an offer to assist any nation with security improvements should they request our help. This assistance could be in the form of using our expertise to strengthen security, for example through improving facilities or through training personnel. To improve our defensive measures, the Government is also providing an additional £3 million to maintain our world-leading forensics and detection capability at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE).

The Government recognizes that urgent action is required to address proliferation of nuclear weapons. The Road to 2010 plan sets out a phased approach which will enable progress on non-proliferation and multilateral disarmament. In the first instance, steps must be taken to improve transparency of current weapons capabilities, as we seek greater control to prevent expansion of those capabilities. The second stage is verifiable multilateral reductions in arsenals. Finally, we must work globally both to establish the security conditions that will enable a world free from nuclear weapons and to overcome the technical and policy challenges associated with the complete abolition of nuclear weapons. For our part, as soon as it becomes useful for our arsenal to be included in a broader negotiation, Britain stands ready to participate and to act.

There is growing momentum across the globe to tackle these strategic challenges. The UK has been a civil and military nuclear power for many decades and so we have a great deal of expertise to offer. As we head towards next year's NPT Review Conference, I am committed to making the UK a leading nation in the drive to develop credible answers to the nuclear questions that face us today. It is vital that we make progress - I believe this strategy sets out what the UK can do alone and in partnership with other countries in the period up to the conference and beyond to bring us the security and prosperity we seek in the decades to come.

Source: Number 10 Downing Street website, www.number10.gov.uk. Full text of the Road to 2010 is available from www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk.

Iran Nuclear Talks Reach Critical Stage

As Disarmament Diplomacy goes to press, talks on the future of Iran's nuclear programme face a critical month with the threat of increased sanctions if Iran does not respond positively by the end of September, and with key meetings of the P5+1 (also known as the EU3+3, comprising Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the United States) and the IAEA Board of Governors due to take place. Iran has reportedly prepared a new nuclear proposal and is ready to resume talks, although it remains to be seen if this will be sufficient for the country to avert further sanctions.

Since August, there have been media reports that the United States has been considering pushing for an oil and gas embargo against Iran, should it not respond positively to the EU proposal by an unofficial September deadline.[25] During talks in London on a Middle East peace process on 26 August, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supported Hillary Clinton's call for "crippling sanctions" against Iran.

As noted by the Times, Iran imports about 40 percent of its gasoline due to the lack of sufficient refining capacity. Iranian officials, however, have previously said that Iran would respond to such a move by ceasing its oil exports and closing the Strait of Hormuz to commercial shipping.[26]

Difficult diplomatic sell

Diplomatic officials cited by Reuters indicated that Russia and China have made clear to the P5+1 that they will not agree to further sanctions against Iran at this time. Other diplomats noted that the EU was also split on the matter of imposing sanctions on Iran's energy sector. Of the five European countries currently on the UN Security Council, diplomats believed Austria and Turkey would both object to such measures.[27]

Later in August, however, the Belgian and German governments signalled they would push for harsh measures against Iran should it not enter into negotiations on the terms of the P5+1. Diplomats cited in the German news magazine, Der Spiegel, said such measures could involve a gasoline embargo or restrictions in air and maritime transit.[28]

US and France set September deadline

Speaking on the sidelines of the July G8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy, the French and US presidents said Iran would have until September to respond to the P5+1 offer. Sarkozy and Obama both told the press that Iran would be required to respond by the date of the G20 summit, set to take place in Pittsburgh. Sarkozy said, "Between August and September it's for them to decide how they want things to evolve. Pittsburgh is the date."[29]

Several days later Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki announced Iran would prepare a new package of "political, security and international" proposals intended to serve as a "good basis for talks with the West."[30]

The broader G8 did not express support for such an ultimatum, however. In their annual statement on non-proliferation, the leaders of the G8 countries reaffirmed their support for a "comprehensive, peaceful and diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue."[31] They urged Iran to accept the offer advanced by the P5+1 and stressed Iran's "responsibility, as reiterated by UNSC Resolutions, to restore confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear activities."[32]

No progress on Iran at the IAEA's June meeting

In his report on Iran to the June meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors, IAEA Director-General Dr Mohamed ElBaradei indicated no progress had been made since the agency's last report in February. As of 31 May, Iran had installed a total of 7,221 centrifuges at its industrial-scale uranium enrichment plant at Natanz. The IAEA had previously reported that Iran's IR-40 heavy water research reactor at Arak would not come online before 2014.

According to press reports, Iran has allowed the IAEA to verify the design information of the Arak reactor.[33] Iran has also granted the IAEA's request for enhanced safeguards procedures at Natanz, necessary for the Agency to keep pace with the expanding activities at the plant.[34]

New Iranian Atomic Energy Chief

Following the disputed 12 June presidential elections, Iran's Atomic Energy Chief Gholamreza Aghazadeh stepped down.[35] His replacement Ali Akbar Salehi struck a conciliatory tone in his first interview: "instead of a continuation of the hostilities over the past six years, more efforts will be made to obtain mutual trust. So that the case lasting for six years will be closed as soon as possible." Salehi is a physicist, educated in the United States. He formerly served as Iran's ambassador to the IAEA.[36]

France increases presence in the Persian Gulf

On 26 May, France opened its first permanent military base in the Persian Gulf region. The base is located in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, situated 220 km across the Gulf from Iran, on the banks of the Straits of Hormuz.

Dubbed the "Peace Camp," the facility is the first foreign French military site established in 50 years and France's first outside of Europe and Africa.

Though French officials have not commented directly on Iran in connection with the opening of the base, the Guardian described the base as "a symbolic move to show his [Sarkozy's] new tough line on Iran and to compete with Britain and the US for military and commercial influence in the area." The Iranian Foreign Ministry warned that "the escalation of militarism in the region and the presence of distant foreign powers will result in the fragility of security and stability and will lead to an arms race."[37]

Second North Korean Nuclear Test underscores urgency of CTBT and Disarmament

North Korea conducted its second nuclear explosive test on 25 May. The test marked the lowest point in the breakdown of the six party process, that had appeared to be making progress in summer of 2008. Following the test the UN Security Council agreed to further sanctions against North Korea, whilst North Korea stated its intent to resume weaponizing plutonium and to pursue a uranium enrichment programme.

During August, relations between the North and the US and South Korea do appear to have thawed slightly, following a visit by former US President Clinton, triggering speculation that a return to six party talks may soon be possible.

A more significant nuclear test

Although the CTBT has yet to enter into force, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization's international monitoring system detected the test and the agency said it had registered 4.52 on the Richter scale, higher than the first test of 6 October 2006. Russia reportedly announced an estimate of 20kT, though other estimates suggested 1-4kT was more likely.[38]

International condemnation

World leaders immediately condemned the test with President Barack Obama describing it as a threat to international peace and security. UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the test was a danger to the whole world and undermines prospects for peace on the Korean Peninsula.[39]

A Russian Foreign Ministry statement called it a serious blow to international non-proliferation efforts, but emphasized that the issue could only be resolved through the six party process.[40]

China, which usually adopts a more reserved tone on the DPRK, expressed its resolute opposition to the test. Japan also described the test as intolerable and vowed to coordinate efforts at the UN Security Council to take "resolved" action.[41]

UN resolution immediately sought

On 25 May, the UN Security Council meeting in an emergency session called for by Japan began consultations on the response to the test. Council President Russian Permanent Representative Vitaly Churkin read out a brief media statement, describing the test as a clear violation of resolution 1718 and vowing immediately to pursue a new resolution. The Council also demanded that North Korea comply with its obligations under resolutions 1695 and 1718. Churkin added that the test was contrary to both the NPT and the CTBT.

UN Security Council adopts Res. 1874

On 12 June, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1874 (2009), expanding the arms embargo and financial sanctions against North Korea.

The resolution requires UN member states to cooperate with the inspection of cargo carried by ships travelling from North Korea. It permits states to interdict suspected contraband-carrying vessels on the high seas, with the consent of the flag government, if they have "reasonable grounds" to believe the ship is carrying cargo in contravention of resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009). If the flag government does not consent to a search on the high seas the resolution requires the flag government to direct the vessel to a convenient port to undergo the required inspection. Governments are authorized to seize and destroy any prohibited cargo they discover.

The interdiction measures had been pursued by the United States and Japan. Russia and China had reportedly advocated less far-reaching measures, seeking to avoid broad punitive measures that might cause the North Korean regime to collapse or create a humanitarian crisis.[42]

Russia and China join the consensus

Russia described the resolution as adequate and balanced as well as carefully targeted. The Russians also pointed to the fact that the resolution stressed the importance of a political solution to the issue and the resumption of the Six Party Talks, precluded use of force, and that the inspection provisions were drafted to respect international and national laws. China also described the resolution as balanced, saying it contained sanctions as well as positive elements, such as those calling for political solutions. The Chinese indicated the interdiction issue had been sensitive, but noted the resolution does not permit the use of force.

North Korea responds

North Korea's Foreign Ministry responded with a statement ruling out the possibility of disarmament. The statement announced that North Korea would resume the weaponization of plutonium and pursue a uranium enrichment programme.[43]

First interdiction

On 17 June, the US Navy began tracking a North Korean cargo vessel believed to be carrying weapons in contravention of UNSC resolution 1874. The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, stated that the US destroyer USS John McCain would attempt to hail and query the vessel before directing it to a port to undergo inspection. The North Korean ship, believed possibly to be heading toward Burma, eventually turned around and returned to port when confronted by the US warship.[44]

Sanctions applied

On 16 July, the UN Security Council committee responsible for implementing the resolutions against North Korea announced sanctions on five North Korean companies and five officials related to its nuclear, ballistic missile, and military programmes. The committee also announced a ban on the export of a type of graphite and Kevlar filament usable in missiles to North Korea.[45]

Tensions begin to thaw?

In late July, the North Korean Foreign Minister indicated his country was open to pursuing bilateral dialogue with the United States to "address the current situation." According to the New York Times, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterated the US position that it would only engage with North Korea bilaterally in the context of the Six Party Talks. The US Department of State refused to indicate whether or not it had received requests from the DPRK to meet bilaterally.[46]

On 4 August, former US President Clinton secured the release of two American journalists detained by North Korea after allegedly crossing into the country in March. During the meeting, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il reportedly expressed his desire for better relations with the United States, though the nuclear issue was not discussed. Though the White House depicted the former President's visit as a private, humanitarian mission, the visit preceded a thaw in North Korea's relations with its major interlocutors.

Relations with South Korea

On 16 August, South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak called for the resumption of denuclearization and arms reductions talks. Stepping back from the escalating rhetoric over the past several months, Lee announced that his government was, "ready to start dialogue and cooperation with the North over any issue, at any time and at any level."[47]

The announcement followed the release of a South Korean engineer who had been detained by the North for four months.[48] Following this, on 16 August North Korea announced it would re-open the border with the South to family reunion and tourist visits.[49]

Following the 18 August death of former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, Kim Jong-Il sent his condolences and said a five-person delegation would attend the funeral. The South Korean President's office indicated they would not object to the North Korean delegation.[50]

Resumption of nuclear diplomacy?

On 18 August, China's chief nuclear negotiator and Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei visited Pyongyang, to try to persuade the DPRK to return to the Six Party Talks.[51]

The next day a delegation from the North Korean mission to the UN visited New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson in Santa Fe. According to Governor Richardson, the North Koreans requested direct talks with the US government, claiming that the Six Party Talks were not working. Richardson said the North Koreans had offered to put "everything" on the table, though no specifics were raised. White House officials acknowledged that the likelihood of "re-engagement is somewhat greater," though the administration gave no signs it was ready to drop its key condition that the denuclearization talks take place only within the Six Party framework.[52]

CTBTO prepares for Zero-growth Budget

The 32nd session of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) Preparatory Commission held on 8-9 June has directed its Provisional Technical Secretariat (PTS) to prepare a zero-growth budget for 2010, which will be considered by the PrepCom during its 33rd session, from 16-19 November. [53] The PrepCom instructed the PTS to prioritize completion of the International Monitoring System, focusing in particular on installation of stations related to the detection of noble gases.[54]

Executive Secretary Tibor Tóth reported that the CTBTO's monitoring system had "once again underscored its significance and value" in detecting the North Korean test. The test highlighted the "urgency of the Treaty's entry into force."

African Nuclear Weapon-free Zone Treaty Enters into Force

The Treaty of Pelindaba entered into force on 12 August, establishing a nuclear weapon-free zone in Africa. The Treaty required 28 ratifications to enter into force, but a further 23 signatories to the treaty have yet to ratify. With the entry into force of the Pelindaba Treaty, the land area of the entire Southern Hemisphere is now covered by nuclear weapon-free zone treaties.

Yukiya Amano Appointed Next IAEA Director-General

Japan's ambassador to the international organizations in Vienna, Yukiya Amano, was formally appointed on 3 July 2009 to become the fifth Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency. He will take up this position on 1 December, following the retirement of Mohamed ElBaradei after 12 years in the post.

The appointment of Ambassador Amano, 62, comes after months of wrangling during which several rounds of straw polls among the 35-member Board of Governors had put Amano just short of the required two-thirds majority. Amano was supported by the majority of Western countries including the United States, while his closest rival, South Africa's Ambassador Abdul Minty was mainly supported by nonaligned countries.

Yukiya Amano chaired the IAEA Board of Governors from 2005-06. As Chair of the 2007 Preparatory Committee meeting for the 2010 NPT Review Conference, he overcame Iranian opposition to ensure that the PrepCom would have a practical agenda, thereby enabling the NPT review process to address substantive issues more effectively. Prior to this, he had extensive experience in disarmament, non-proliferation and nuclear energy policy and has been involved in the negotiation of major international instruments. As a Friend of the Chair during the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty negotiations 1994-96, Amano was known for engaging constructively with non-governmental organizations, and he later served as Diplomat-in-Residence at the Monterey Institute for International Studies for six months.

Amano has held senior positions in the Japanese Foreign Ministry, notably as Director of the Science Division, Director of the Nuclear Energy Division and Deputy Director General for Arms Control and Scientific Affairs.

No consensus on International Nuclear Fuel Bank

The IAEA Board of Governors has failed to find consensus on either of two proposals for establishment of an international nuclear fuel bank.

The proposals appeared on the agenda of 15-19 June Board meeting. As a result the proposals will be deferred for additional discussions and consultations.[55] Both proposals before the Board at its June meeting involved the issue of fuel supply arrangements rather than more ambitious proposals promoted by IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei, Austria, Germany, and supporters of multilateralization of the nuclear fuel cycle.[56]

The first proposal involved establishing a reserve of low enriched uranium (LEU) under IAEA auspices. According to ElBaradei, the reserve "would be a physical stockpile of LEU at the disposal of the Agency as a last-resort reserve for countries with nuclear power programmes which face a supply disruption for non-commercial reasons."[57] He added that the fuel would be made available on the basis of pre-determined, non-political, and non-discriminatory criteria and would be accessible to all states in compliance with their safeguards obligations.

The second proposal involved support for the Russian initiative to establish a LEU stockpile at the site of the joint Russian-Kazakh International Uranium Enrichment Centre, in Siberia. The reserve would be fully funded by Russia and made available to the IAEA for distribution to states also on the basis of pre-determined criteria. ElBaradei described the proposal as a supplement to establishment of a reserve under IAEA auspices.

Western delegates, such as US representative Geoffrey Pyatt, argued the proposals would facilitate expanded access to nuclear technology. In contrast developing nations have tended to oppose the plan, fearing that it would encroach on their access to nuclear technology.[58] India was particularly vocal in its opposition to the plans. Other prominent developing nations that have expressed opposition include Brazil and South Africa.

US - UAE Nuclear Cooperation

On 21 May, President Obama submitted to Congress a proposed nuclear cooperation agreement between the United States and the United Arab Emirates. The agreement would provide for nuclear cooperation and trade between the two countries, excluding the transfer of "sensitive nuclear technology, sensitive nuclear facilities, or major critical components of such facilities." It also generally limits the transfer of special fissionable material to low enriched uranium. The UAE would voluntarily forgo enrichment and reprocessing and bring into force an IAEA Additional Protocol.[59]

The US is keen to contrast the UAE's relationship with the West on nuclear issues with that of Iran. The agreement highlights is part of a so-called "renaissance" of nuclear power being promoted under the auspices of Article IV of the NPT and concerns about climate change.

Indian ballistic missile submarine begins sea trials

India's first nuclear-power, ballistic missile submarine has started three years of sea trials. With the 26 July launching of the INS Arihant, India has become the sixth county to deploy an indigenous nuclear-powered submarine, behind the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China. India started development of the project, known as the Advanced Technology Vessel, in 1984 with Soviet assistance. A Pakistani official described the launch as "destabilizing" and "detrimental to regional peace and stability."[60]

The vessel can reportedly carry 12 nuclear, K-15 submarine-launched ballistic missiles, which have a range of about 700 km.[61] A second submarine of the same type is under construction. India plans to launch a third vessel by 2020.[62]

OPCW Director-General reports on Chemical Weapons Destruction

As of 30 June 2009, states party to the Chemical Weapons Convention had completed destruction of just over 45% of their chemical warfare stocks. Addressing the 57th Executive Council meeting of the OPCW, its Director-General, Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter, reported that about 37,528 metric tonnes of chemical warfare agents remained to be destroyed in the stocks of five parties to the Convention. The majority of the remaining stocks are held in Russia and the United States. Ambassador Pfirter reported that as of 30 June, Russia had completed destruction of 13,013 tonnes or about 33% of its stockpile. Russia's treaty-based target is the destruction of 45% by the end of 2009. The Director General also reported that as of 30 June the United States had completed destruction of 17,222 tonnes or 62% of its declared stockpile.[63]

Calls for Greater Progress on Implementation at Ottawa Convention Meetings

At the May standing committee meetings of the Ottawa Convention, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), the International Committee of the Red Cross, Switzerland, and Norway have expressed concern related to the large number of states retaining stocks of APLs, ostensibly for research and training purposes as permitted under Article 3 of the Treaty.[64]

Stockpile Destruction

Discussions on stockpile destruction focused on compliance with Article 4 deadlines. The Italian and Zambian co-chairs of the Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction reported that Belarus had missed its destruction deadline, thus joining Turkey and Greece in non-compliance with their Article 4 obligations. The co-chairs also noted that Kuwait and Ukraine had yet to complete destruction.

Victim Assistance

Noting that progress had been made, ICBL pointed to many shortcomings in efforts to coordinate and implement victim assistance and reintegration measures by the VA26 - the 26 states with significant populations of mine survivors. ICBL called for states to use the second RevCon to plug gaps related to adequate plans, international financing, and monitoring of victim assistance programmes.

Mine Clearance

The co-chairs of the Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education, and Mine Action Technologies lamented over the many unforeseen challenges and setbacks to implementation of Article 5. Since 2008, 18 states parties have requested extensions to their treaty-mandated deadlines. The co-chairs pointed to various obstacles to implementation, including "delays in commencing demining and a slow pace of work in some instances, inaccurate and overstated estimates of landmine contamination, disputed territory or borders, problems of access and-often most importantly-a lack of resources."

As noted by ICBL, most states parties that had been granted extensions reported progress to the meeting; ICBL questioned, however, the merits of granting an extension to Venezuela, noting that it had not even started demining within its original ten-year deadline. ICBL cited the need for adequate international funding for demining surveys and clearance.

Preparations for the Cartagena Summit get underway

The First Preparatory Committee for the Second Review Conference of the Ottawa Convention (renamed the Cartagena Summit, to be held from 30 November to 4 December) convened on 29 May in Geneva. Chair-designate Ambassador Eckey of Norway submitted a discussion paper, proposing Summit action on several items, including a comprehensive review of the operation of the Treaty since the First Review Conference, a five-year action plan to replace the 2004 Nairobi Action Plan, and a political declaration following on the 2004 Nairobi Declaration.

In order to facilitate high-level involvement in the Cartagena Summit, in July 2009 the president-designate of the RevCon circulated a draft action plan for the period 2010-2014. The draft plan contains 57 actions related to achieving universality of the Treaty, destroying stockpiles in accordance with the limits set by the Treaty, clearing mined areas, assisting victims, international cooperation, transparency, compliance, and accountability. Ambassador Eckey also circulated a draft decision on intercessional meetings for the 2010-2014 period.

A second PrepCom will be held from 3-4 September 2009 in Geneva, where governments will be able to discuss the draft plan of action.


[1] See Disarmament Diplomacy 90, Spring 2009.

[2] Hans M Kristensen, "START Follow-On: What SORT of Agreement?" Strategic Security Blog, Federation of American Scientists, 8 July 2009.

[3] "Nuclear powers come in from the cold", Rebecca Johnson, www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jul/07/nuclear-powers-us-russia, 7 July 2009.

[4] "Declaration on Alliance Security", issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Strasbourg / Kehl on 4 April 2009, www.nato.int.

[5] House of Commons Hansard, 21 July 2009, column 1209W, www.parliament.uk.

[6] "Shared Responsibilities: A national security strategy for the UK", IPPR, June 2009.

[7] "Launching NATO's New Strategic Concept", Keynote Address by The Hon. Madeleine K. Albright, Principal of The Albright Group LLC and former Secretary of State of the United States, at the NATO New Strategic Concept Conference, 7 July 2009, www.nato.int.

[8] "IAEA's ElBaradei Urges NATO To End Dependence On Nuclear Arms", AFP, 7 July 2009.

[9] The experts are to be chaired by Dr. Madeleine Albright, former US Secretary of State, with Jeroen van der Veer, former CEO in Royal Dutch Shell, as vice-chair. Other members of the group are: Ambassador Giancarlo Aragona (currently Italy's Ambassador to the UK), Ambassador Marie Gervais-Vidricaire (Canada' Ambassador to Austria and the Permanent Representative of Canada to the International Organizations at Vienna), Geoff Hoon MP (former UK Secretary of State for Defence), Ambassador Ümit Pamir (former Ambassador of Turkey), Ambassador Fernando Perpiñá-Robert Peyra (Secretary General of the Club of Madrid), Ambassador Dr Hans-Friedrich von Ploetz (former Ambassador of Germany), Bruno Racine (President of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France), Ambassador Aivis Ronis (Director of the Latvian-Amercian Financial Forum), Professor Adam Daniel Rotfeld (Chairman of the International Consultative Committee at the Polish Institute of International Affairs), Ambassador Yannis-Alexis Zepos (Ambassador of Greece to the Arab Republic of Egypt). In addition, the Secretary General has designated a small NATO team lead by Dr. Jamie Shea, head of Policy Planning Unit, to function as a secretariat and staff support.

[10] "First NATO Press conference, by Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen", 3 August 2009.

[11] Report of the Secretary of Defense Task Force on DoD Nuclear Weapons Management, Phase II: Review of the DoD Nuclear Mission, December 2008, www.defenselink.mil/pubs/pdfs/PhaseIIReportFinal.pdf.

[12] Helmut Schmidt, Richard von Weizsäcker, Egon Bahr and Hans-Dietrich Genscher, "Toward a nuclear-free world: a German view," New York Times, 9 January 2009.

[13] "The Road to 2010: Addressing the nuclear question in the twenty first century", Cm 7675, Cabinet Office, July 2009, www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk.

[14] "Key Government Deliverables for 2009/10", Building Britain's Future, www.hmg.gov.uk/buildingbritainsfuture, June 2009.

[15] "P5 statement on disarmament and non-proliferation issues", Foreign & Commonwealth Office website, 3 September 2009.

[16] See "Proliferation in Parliament", Summer 2009, www.acronym.org.uk/parliament.

[17] "Clegg says no to Trident renewal", BBC News, 16 June 2009.

[18] Global Security: Non-Proliferation, House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, HC 222 of 2008-09, 14 June 2009.

[19] David Davis, "Trident can live to deter another day", Financial Times, 23 July 2009.

[20] Richard Norton-Taylor, "Trident submarine deal delayed", The Guardian, 17 July 2009.

[21] "Sense on Trident", Financial Times, 19 July 2009.

[22] "Global Security: Non-Proliferation: Response of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs", Cm 7692, 14 August 2009.

[23] Defence Strategic Planning, Written Ministerial Statement, House of Commons Hansard, 7 July 2009, column 39WS.

[24] Richard Norton-Taylor, "Trident excluded from defence review", The Guardian, 7 July 2009.

[25] David E Sanger, "U.S. Weighs Iran Sanctions if Talks Are Rejected," New York Times, page A4, 3 August 2009.

[26] Ibid. Agence France-Presse reported that Iran receives the majority of its gasoline from six foreign firms: Vitol of Switzerland; Trafigura of Switzerland and the Netherlands; Total of France; Glencore of Switzerland; British Petroleum; and Reliance of India. See "US will do what it takes to keep Iran from getting nuclear arms," Agence France-Presse, 3 August 2009.

[27] Adam Entous and Tom Doggett, "Iran fuel imports possible target in nuclear standoff," Reuters India, 4 August 2009.

[28] "EU to back harsher sanctions; Iran angry," United Press International, 17 August 2009.

[29] "G8 leaders to pursue Iran nuke talks: Sarkozy," Agence France-Presse, 9 July 2009; US President Barack Obama, Remarks to the Press, US Press Filing Center, L'Aquila Italy, 9 July 2009.

[30] Robert F Worth, "Senior Cleric Says Leaders of Iran Are Unfit to Rule," New York Times, page A10, 12 July 2009.

[31] L'Aquila Statement on Non-Proliferation, G8 Summit in L'Aquila, Italy, 8 July 2009.

[32] Ibid.

[33] In March 2007, Iran had suspended implementation of a 2003 amendment to its safeguards agreement, known as modified code 3.1 of its subsidiary arrangement, which had provided the IAEA authority to verify the accuracy of the design information of nuclear facilities under construction. Iran reverted to the 1976 version of the code, which obligates Iran to provide design information only 180 days prior to the introduction of nuclear material to a new facility, in retaliation for the UN Security Council's adoption of resolution 1747 (2007).

[34] George Jahn, "Diplomats: Iran improves access to nuke activities," Associated Press, 21 August 2009.

[35] Siavosh Ghazi, "Iran atomic chief Aghazadeh resigns," Agence France-Presse, 16 July 2009; "Ali Akbar Salehi: Ahmadinejad Appoints US-Educated Physicist As New Nuclear Chief," Associated Press, 17 July 2009.

[36] "Iran's new nuclear chief urges mutual trust in nuclear row," Xinhua Press Agency, 18 July 2009.

[37] Angelique Chrisafis, "France opens military base in UAE despite Iranian concerns," The Guardian, 26 May 2009. "France opens UAE military base," Al Jazeera, 26 May 2009. Matthew Saltmarsh, "France Opens First Military Bases in the Gulf," New York Times, 26 May 2009.

[38] Joshua Pollack, "Here we go again?" Total WonKerr.com, 25 May 2009; Geoffrey Forden, "North Korea's Design Choices," ArmsControlWonk.com, 25 May 2009.

[39] Justin McCurry, "North Korea: world leaders condemn nuclear test," The Guardian, 25 May 2009.

[40] Statement of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Information and Press Department, Moscow, 25 May 2009.

[41] McCurry, 25 May 2009.

[42] Julian Borger, "North Korea facing tougher UN sanctions," Guardian, p. 19, 11 June 2009.

[43] Blaine Harden, "North Korea Says It Will Start Enriching Uranium," Washington Post, 14 June 2009.

[44] Ewen MacAskill, "US navy prepares to intercept North Korean ship," The Guardian, 19 June 2009; Julian Borger, "Burma suspected of forming nuclear link with North Korea," The Guardian, 21 July 2009.

[45] Neil McFarquhar, "U.N. Penalizes 5 North Korean Companies and Officials," New York Times, page A7, 17 July 2009.

[46] Choe Sang-Hun, "N. Korea Says It's Open to Dialogue," New York Times, 27 July 2009.

[47] Park Chan-Kyong, "S.Korean president calls for arms talks with North," Agence France-Presse, 16 August 2009.

[48] Choe Sang-Hun, "South Korean Worker Freed by North," New York Times, page A6, 14 August 2009.

[49] Mark McDonald, "North Korea to Reopen Its Border to the South," New York Times, page A5, 17 August 2009.

[50] Jun Kwanwoo, "NKorea offers to send delegates to Kim funeral," Agence France-Presse, 17 August 2009.

[51] "China's nuclear envoy to visit North Korea: report," Agence France-Presse, 18 August 2009.

[52] Mary Beth Sheridan, "After Meeting, N.M. Governor Says N. Koreans Are Ready for 'Dialogue,'" Washington Post, 20 August 2009.

[53] The PrepCom also adopted recommendations related to the technical problems within the International Monitoring System, relocation of a monitoring station in Norway, and minor revisions to procurement procedures. Report of Working Group B to the Thirty-Second Session of the Preparatory Commission, CTBT/PC-32/WGB/1, Vienna, 4 March 2009.

[54] Other priorities include IDC focusing on refinement of data products and further development of onsite inspections.

[55] Nuclear Threat Initiative, "IAEA Board Splits on Nuclear Fuel Bank Proposal," Global Security Newswire, 19 June 2009.

[56] See www.iaea.org for more information.

[57] Mohamed ElBaradei, "Introductory Statement to the Board of Governors," IAEA Board of Governors meeting, Vienna, 15 June 2009.

[58] Sylvia Westall, "Obama-backed nuclear fuel bank plan stalls at IAEA," Reuters News Agency, 18 June 2009.

[59] Ellen Tauscher, US Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, "Agreement for Cooperation Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the United Arab Emirates Concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy," Statement before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Washington DC, 8 July 2009.

[60] "India submarine 'threatens peace,'" BBC News, 28 July 2009.

[61] Manu Pubby, "India in n-sub club, Arihant to be inducted in next 2 yrs," Indian Express, 26 July 2009.

[62] Rajat Pandit, "N-submarine to give India crucial third leg of nuke triad," Times of India, 27 July 2009.

[63] Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter, Opening Statement by the Director-General to the Executive Council at its Fifty-Seventh Session, Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, EC-57/DG.15, The Hague, 14 July 2007.

[64] 143,000 mines in 47 states in 2008, according to Landmine Monitor.

This Disarmament News Review was compiled by Michael Spies and Nicola Butler, with contributions from Acronym Institute staff.

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