Getting to Zero Update

In this issue:

 

Arms control

On March 30 the Conference on Disarmament disappointingly and dangerously delayed its decision on a proposal for work in 2007. The proposal would initiate negotiations on a ban on the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons, and continue discussions on preventing an arms race in outer space (PAROS), nuclear disarmament, and negative security assurances (NSAs). Because some delegations insisted they needed more time to decide on the proposal, a special session to revisit the issue will be scheduled for later in April. For further details see: http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/political/cd/speeches07/reports.html

 

Iran

This March 17 Asia Times article analyzed the draft resolution imposing new sanctions on Iran for defying demands to suspend uranium enrichment. See text of Security Council Resolution 1747 here. The Washington Post reported that the new sanctions agreed by the major powers at the UN are unlikely to hurt Iran much. See also this UPI analysis. The government of Iran denounced the sanctions and in retaliation announced that it would limit cooperation with the IAEA.

On March 18 Russia informed Iran that it will withhold nuclear fuel for Iran's nearly completed Bushehr power plant unless Iran suspends its uranium enrichment as demanded by the UNSC.

Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Director Gholamreza Aqazadeh announced on April 9 that Iran has reached the stage of producing "industrial nuclear fuel" and mass production of centrifuge machines. But there is likely less than meets the eye in that announcement. See Arms Control Wonk here and Total Wonker here.

 

Further reading

ISIS Report: Iran's Centrifuges: How well are they working?, by Jacqueline Shire and David Albright, Institute for Science and International Security, March 15, 2007.

Hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade: Iran's Nuclear Crisis: Latest Developments and Next Steps, Testimony by David Albright, March 15, 2007.

ISIS Imagery Brief on Iran: Further Construction at Arak 40 MW Heavy Water Reactor, By David Albright and Paul Brannan, March 20, 2007.

NIE on Irans WMD Programs, Arms Control Wonk, March 27, 2007.

Potential Development of Nuclear Weapons Technology in Iran, Illustrated Lecture, Emirates Center of Strategic Studies and Research, Abu Dhabi, 13 December 2006.

Yossi Melman and Meir Javedanfar, The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the State of Iran, March 2007

 

North Korea

Joseph Cirincione, writing in Foreign Policy, discussed how the U.S. got the intelligence wrong on the North Korean nuclear program. The result: the administration's decision to tear up a successful agreement-using a dubious intelligence "finding" as an excuse-propelled the tiny, isolated country to subsequently build and test nuclear weapons, threatening to trigger a new wave of proliferation.

 

Further reading

ISIS Report on North Korea: Phased International Cooperation with North Korea's Civil Nuclear Programs, By David Albright, March 19, 2007.

 

Russia

On March 20 Bloomberg reported that Russia will let the United Nations use some of the country's enrichment capacity in Siberia, making it easier for nations such as Iran to get atomic fuel and harder for them to gain the knowledge needed to build nuclear bombs. The international atomic fuel center in Angarsk, Siberia, about 100 kilometers east of Lake Baikal, will be a "market- based structure'' offering enrichment to countries developing or planning to develop atomic power.

 

United Kingdom

Scotland's Sunday Herald analyzes the recent vote in the British House of Commons to begin the process of replacing the Trident nuclear weapons system.

 

United States

The Washington Post reported March 18 on the recommendations of a prestigious scientific committee on U.S. plans to develop new nuclear warheads. The committee said that before moving ahead with these plans, the Bush administration should develop a bipartisan policy regarding the size of the future stockpile, testing and nonproliferation. The committee's report, due out this month, comes at a time when the Bush administration is asking Congress to approve $88 million for cost and engineering plans that could lead to a decision next year for production of a new Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) for the nation's current submarine-launched intercontinental ballistic missile.

Towards the end of March Gen. James Cartwright, the head of U.S. Strategic Command, in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee gave the administration's most explicit statement yet that a need for explosive testing would not end U.S. plans for a next generation of nuclear warheads, despite the self-imposed moratorium on nuclear blasts since 1992.

 

Publications

Jofi Joseph, Strategic Mistake: The neoconservative approach to nonproliferation has been a disaster. Why Bush cant disarm Iran, Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, Issue #4, Spring 2007, (free registration required).

William C Bell and Cham E Dallas, Vulnerability of populations and the urban health care systems to nuclear weapon attack examples from four American cities, International Journal of Health Geographics 2007, 6:5.

Hearing on U.S. nuclear and strategic policy options, Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, Senate Armed Services Committee, March 21, 2007.

Nuclear Nonproliferation: Progress Made in Improving Security at Russian Nuclear Sites, but the Long-term Sustainability of U.S.-Funded Security Upgrades Is Uncertain, U.S. Government Accountability Office, February 28, 2007.

Combating Nuclear Smuggling: DNDO Has Not Yet Collected Most of the National Laboratories' Test Results on Radiation Portal Monitors in Support of DNDO's Testing and Development Program, U.S. Government Accountability Office, March 9, 2007.

Nuclear Nonproliferation: Focusing on the Highest Priority Radiological Sources Could Improve DOEs Efforts to Secure Sources in Foreign Countries, U.S. Government Accountability Office, March 13, 2007.

Combatting Nuclear Smuggling: DHSs Decision to procure and Deploy the Next Generation of Radiation Equipment Is Not Supported by Its Cost-Benefit Analysis, U.S. Government Accountability Office, March 14, 2007.

Lewis Dunn, Gregory Giles, Jeffrey Larsen, Thomas Skypek, Foreign Perspectives on U.S Nuclear Policy and Posture: Insights, Issues and Implications, Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

Matthew Bunn, Troubled Disposition: Next Steps in Dealing With Excess Plutonium, Arms Control Today, April 2007.

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