Getting to Zero Update

In this issue:

 

Commitments to disarmament and arms control

The Hoover Group Call to Action 2

The 'Hoover Group' - George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, Sam Nunn and William Perry - published a renewed call to action in the Wall Street Journal on January 15, sparking off another flurry of debate. This came a year after their original letter in the Journal triggered a series of responses from governments and civil society around the vision of a nuclear-weapon free world. The growing and impressive list of elite US supporters include seven secretaries of state, seven national security advisors and five former secretaries of defense. All have in their time played key roles in developing the US nuclear arsenal. Their call is for a clear vision and for clear steps to get there, including a test ban, a fissile material cut-off treaty, renewed bilateral treaties with Russia leading to deeper and verified cuts, taking warheads off hair-trigger alert and scrapping operational plans for massive nuclear attack, the development of cooperative ballistic missile defense and early warning systems and strengthened security. Also of note, Henry Kissinger and the rest of the Hoover Group may discuss these issues when they meet with Yevgeny Primakov in Oslo, Norway next month.

On January 10, former high-level military leaders from the United States and Europe, including General (ret.) John Shalikashvili (United States) and General (ret.) Dr. Klaus Naumann, KBE (Germany), released a report in which they argue that leaders of nuclear countries in NATO should not drop the option of using nuclear weapons first and that nuclear weapons are 'indispensable' because there is 'no realistic prospect' for a world free of nuclear weapons, contradicting the Wall Street Journal call to action. The full report may be found here.

 

US Government Commitment

On December 20, the US Special Representative for Nuclear Nonproliferation, Christopher Ford, spoke at the UK Foreign Office Wilton Park conference about the goal of zero nuclear weapons:

So this is where we are today, with the United States engaged in broad diplomatic outreach efforts and ongoing dialogue not just about numbers, doctrine, and treaty interpretation, but also about our vision for the future - and about how one might actually hope to achieve nuclear disarmament. The United States has reaffirmed its commitment to disarmament, offered a vision of a zero-weapons future, and engaged in unprecedented discussion of how actually to achieve this. [emphasis added]

The full text of Ford's presentation may be found here. He also delivered a presentation on "Nuclear Disarmament and the 'Legalization' of Policy Discourse in the NPT Regime," at an event hosted by The Nonproliferation Review on November 29 in Washington, DC.

 

US Presidential Candidates' Statements and Positions on Nuclear Weapons

The Democratic Presidential Candidates on Nuclear Weapons Elimination, Joseph Cirincione and Alexandra Bell, Center for American Progress, via the Huffington Post, January 17, 2008, (Includes a chart that lists the former cabinet members who now support the elimination of nuclear weapons.)

Issue Tracker: The Candidates and Nuclear Nonproliferation, Council on Foreign Relations, Updated January 16, 2008.

Where the presidential candidates stand on nuclear issues, Lawrence Krauss, The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, January 9, 2008.

 

Support in South Carolina for Disarmament

The Union of Concerned Scientists commissioned a poll that reveals the attitudes of likely Republican and Democratic primary voters in South Carolina toward US nuclear weapons policies. UCS explained in its press release on December 13 that it wanted to conduct the poll in a "conservative" and "pro-military" state that is also influential in the Presidential primaries. Sixty-eight percent of Democrats said they agreed that "the next president should make reducing the nuclear weapons arsenals of the United States and other countries a major priority." For the same question, 46% of Republicans agreed. For more results and details on how the poll was conducted, see the following documents for the Democratic voters and the Republican voters.

 

Russian Perspective on START Replacement

News agencies reported at the end of November that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is calling for START I to be replaced by a legally-binding agreement between not only the United States and Russia, but by a treaty that would include other countries. Lavrov criticized the Moscow agreement (SORT) that pertained to deployed nuclear warheads (and not ones stored in reserve) and disagrees with the Bush Administration's position that a new agreement will not need to be legally-binding. Echoing these sentiments, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said that a strong binding agreement should follow START I, which he had signed on behalf of the Soviet Union, and said that verification and inspections are still crucial after the end of the Cold War, but lamented that he did not see any talks forthcoming. Gorbachev made his remarks at the beginning of a conference on nuclear disarmament at Harvard University on December 4. START I will expire in 2009.

Other recent developments could influence prospects for a follow-up treaty. Russia officially suspended its involvement in the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty on December 12, which sets limits on troops and weaponry across Europe, in response to NATO expansion and the planned deployment of missile defense bases in Eastern Europe (see more in the section on Missile Defense below).

 

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown, in a speech to the Chamber of Commerce in Delhi, India on January 21, renewed the UK government's commitment to move toward a nuclear-weapon free world. He said: "I pledge that in the run-up to the Non Proliferation Treaty review conference in 2010 we will be at the forefront of the international campaign to accelerate disarmament amongst possessor states, to prevent proliferation to new states, and to ultimately achieve a world that is freer from nuclear weapons." The theme will be developed by Defence Secretary Des Browne later in the week.

 

General Assembly Resolutions

On December 5, the UN General Assembly adopted numerous resolutions related to nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament. One resolution called for the Conference on Disarmament to begin negotiations toward a ban on the production of military fissile materials and also called on members to make deep cuts to nuclear weapons arsenals, with the overall goal of elimination. Another resolution called on members to decrease the operational readiness of their nuclear weapons.

 

Country reports

United States

Elimination of funding for the 'RRW'

In mid-December, the US House of Representatives and Senate eliminated funding earmarked for the development of a new nuclear weapon, called the "Reliable Replacement Warhead" (RRW). In the same bill (fiscal year 2008 omnibus spending), they also instructed the President to submit to Congress in 2008 a plan to secure nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons-usable material by 2012, and a new nuclear weapons strategy, to be developed in consultation with other governmental and non-governmental organizations. The bill also increased funding for nonproliferation programs. The President signed the bill into law on December 26.

See also: Appropriations FY 2008 - Nuclear Non-Proliferation Highlights, Leonor Tomero, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, December 21, 2007.

 

US nuclear reductions in warheads and facilities

President Bush announced on December 19 a reduction by 15 percent in the active US nuclear weapons arsenal, which is scheduled to be completed by 2012. For a useful analysis of what the announcement means, see the December 19th blog entry by Jeffrey Lewis at ArmsControlWonk.com.

The US Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) also announced the same week that more than 7000 jobs would be cut from the weapons program and 600 buildings that currently serve the nuclear weapons complex will be closed or abandoned. On January 11, the NNSA released the plan to 'streamline' the US nuclear weapons program. The plan is set forth in a draft Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (SPEIS).

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report in November (dated October 2007) which called on the NNSA to improve the safety of the three US national nuclear weapons labs. The GAO reports that "nearly 60 serious accidents and near misses" occurred between 2000 and 2007, many "causing serious damage to workers or facilities." The incidents included worker "exposure to radiation, inhalation of toxic vapors and electrical shocks."

 

GAO calls for review of program funding former-Soviet scientists

A GAO Report released in December is skeptical about the continued necessity of the US Department of Energy's 'Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention' program that provides economic aid to scientists from the former-Soviet Union with the aim of dissuading them from selling their knowledge to terrorists. It claims that many of the scientists were too young to have been part of the Soviet-era nuclear establishment and that some had no background in nuclear, chemical or biological sciences, and also queries whether there remains an economic need for the program.

 

Guards caught sleeping at weapons plant

The NNSA announced on January 16 that seven guards have been caught sleeping at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant since 2000. The Y-12 plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee dismantles old weapons, makes uranium parts for warheads, and serves as the main storage site for highly enriched uranium in the United States. The announcement comes after a video showed guards sleeping at a Pennsylvania nuclear power plant. The revelation of the problems at the Pennsylvania plant led to the dismissal of the contractor responsible for managing the guards, which was Wackenhut Corporation. Wackenhut Services, Inc., which has been responsible for managing the Y-12 guards, was a subsidiary of Wackenhut Corporation until 2002. The House Energy and Commerce Committee had announced on January 7 that it was launching an investigation into the Pennsylvania incident as well as a comprehensive review of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's operations.

In January, the Air Force released an updated manual on Nuclear Weapons Maintenance Procedures (posted by the Federation of American Scientists). The revised version comes six months after crew at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota mistakenly uploaded nuclear cruise missiles to a B-52. Armed with these nuclear weapons, the B-52 eventually flew 1,500 miles over the middle of the country until it landed in Louisiana.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has picked Paul Wolfowitz, former Deputy Defense Secretary and most recently President of the World Bank, to chair the International Security Advisory Board. In this capacity, Wolfowitz will offer guidance on arms control and nonproliferation, and on other foreign policy issues for the State Department.

 

Iran

Since the last GTZ Update, the United States released a summary of its National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, which stated that Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program in the fall of 2003:

We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program; we also assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons. We judge with high confidence that the halt, and Tehran's announcement of its decision to suspend its declared uranium enrichment program and sign an Additional Protocol to its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Safeguards Agreement, was directed primarily in response to increasing international scrutiny and pressure resulting from exposure of Iran's previously undeclared nuclear work.

However, Shervin Boloorian explains in a BASIC Note that factors other than international pressure may have played a significant role in Iran's decision to halt its nuclear weapons program.

On January 13, the IAEA announced that Iran agreed to wrap up any remaining questions about its nuclear program within four weeks. However, the United States continues to push for a third round of sanctions at the United Nations, pointing to Iran's failure to abide by previous resolutions. The P5+1 states agreed a draft text of a resolution to be discussed over the next few weeks before voting at the Security Council. Reports are mixed (see RT video), but it would appear the emphasis is on support for the IAEA negotiations and no additional sanctions other than naming of two more Iranian banks.

 

Further reading

Prospects for an Iranian Nuclear Deal
Gary Samore, Council on Foreign Relations, discussion at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC, January 11, 2008.

Iran and the US: Key Issues from an American Perspective
Anthony H. Cordesman, CSIS, January 3, 2008.

Understanding the NIE
Sharon Squassoni, Proliferation Analysis, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, December 13, 2007.

Understanding the Key Judgments in the New NIE on Iranian Nuclear Weapons
Anthony H. Cordesman, CSIS, Revised December 6, 2007.

Assessing the NIE
George Perkovich, Proliferation Analysis, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, December 4, 2007.

Iran's Nuclear Program and Diplomatic Options to Contain It
David Albright, Dr. Hans-Peter Hinrichsen, Joseph Cirincione, and Daryl Kimball, transcript of press conference sponsored by the Arms Control Association; held at the Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC, December 4, 2007.

Iran's Nuclear Program: UN and IAEA Reporting and Developments
Anthony Cordesman, CSIS, November 27, 2007.

 

Pakistan

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan on December 27 caused analysts and politicians to speculate about the stability of the government and the security of the country's nuclear arsenal. On January 8, the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat quoted IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei as having said that he was concerned about the security of the nuclear arsenal in Pakistan. Pakistani officials expressed surprise and rejected the remarks. The IAEA later said that ElBaradei's remarks had been taken out of context and were not intended to focus only on Pakistan but on nuclear security in the region in general.

During a US Presidential debate in New Hampshire on January 5, the Democratic candidates commented on how they would approach Pakistan and expressed skepticism about the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.

 

Further reading

Politics More Dangerous than Nukes, Analyst Says
George Perkovich of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on NPR's Day to Day (audio of interview), December 28, 2007.

How Not to Handle Nuclear Security
Zia Mian, Foreign Policy in Focus, December 14, 2007.
(Discusses why the US track record on securing its own nuclear arsenal has not necessarily been an ideal model for Pakistan to follow.)

Building Confidence in Pakistan's Nuclear Security
Kenneth N. Luongo and Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Naeem Salik, Arms Control Today, December 2007.

Inside Pakistan's Drive to Guard Its A-Bombs
Peter Wonacott, Wall Street Journal, November 29, 2007.

 

India

India plans to resume talks with the IAEA soon. The discussions are to address the safeguards that are required as part of an agreement with the United States to open trade in civilian nuclear technology. Meanwhile, on January 15, the new Australian government suggested that it would negate the deal that the previous Liberal-National Party coalition government of John Howard made with India last August, which would have allowed the sale of uranium to India for its energy program. Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said that the Australian Labour Party has made a commitment not to sell uranium to countries that are not members of the NPT. His remarks came after a general meeting with a special envoy from India. However, a government spokesman later said that Australia would not necessarily block the sale of uranium to India from other countries. France expressed an interest in cooperating with India on its civil nuclear program and further discussions are expected on January 25 when French President Nicolas Sarkozy visits the country.

See also: 'Experts and Organizations from 23 Countries Call on States to "Fix the Proposal for Nuclear Cooperation with India," Arms Control Association Press Release, January 9, 2008.

 

North Korea

According to the Bush Administration, the North Korean government failed to meet an end-of-the-year deadline to disable and dismantle its main Yongbyon reactor and to present a complete list of its nuclear programs. North Korean officials claimed they had already met conditions by the end of December and that the other members of the Six-Party Talks had failed to deliver their side of the October bargain, including the delivery of one million tonnes of fuel and removing North Korea from the US list of states that sponsor terrorism. On January 8, US negotiator Christopher Hill returned to South Korea to resume discussions.

On January 13, South Korea's foreign ministry gave President-elect Lee Myung-Bak a report outlining a plan for the 'complete' dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear program by 2010 and for separate talks for a peace agreement to formally end the 1950-1953 Korean War.

On January 17, Jay Lefkowitz, President Bush's envoy on North Korean human rights, caused a political storm when he said before an audience at the American Enterprise Institute that North Korea would probably not give up its nuclear program under the Six Party Talks before President Bush leaves office and that human rights conditions should be linked to security issues. The White House made a point of disavowing his remarks and reaffirming its support for the Six-Party Talks a day later.

The New York Times reported on January 19 that the administration was demanding North Korea explain its purchase of aluminum tubes appropriate for the conversion of uranium gas into nuclear fuel.

See also: North Korea's Plutonium Declaration: A Starting Point for an Initial Verification Process, David Albright, Paul Brennan, and Jacqueline Shire, The Institute for Science and International Security, January 10, 2008.

 

Syria

DigitalGlobe of Longmont, Colorado released satellite images on January 11 showing that Syria is rebuilding on the same site that was the target of an Israeli air attack back in September, said by some without public evidence to have been a nuclear reactor under construction.

 

Norway

Norwegian Finance Minister Kristen Halvorsen announced on January 11 that Norway would be dropping three companies from its global pension fund because they have been involved in the production of nuclear weapons or cluster munitions. The three companies are: Hanwha Corporation, from South Korea; Serco Group PLC, from Britain; and GenCorp Inc. from the United States.

 

United Kingdom

The Sunday Times reported on January 13 that a four-year old UK government investigation into the activities of Peter Griffin has apparently been dropped, though no reason has been given. Griffin, a British businessman and engineer, was accused of supplying to Libya equipment that could help produce nuclear weapons, and of being a member of the AQ Khan network.

 

Missile defense

The United States continues to push for a missile defense system for Eastern Europe, arguing that the system is needed to defend Europe against missiles that could contain nuclear warheads. The proposal, which includes plans to place ten missile interceptors in Poland and a radar base in the Czech Republic, has caused anxiety in European capitals, and especially in Moscow. Russians have argued that the US missile defense proposal is contributing to current tensions in arms control and led to Russia's decision to suspend the CFE Treaty.

Poland's new Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, says that he wants more time to consult with other countries affected by the plan, including Russia. Since taking office in November, Tusk has expressed doubts over the project and has asked the United States for extra security measures around the proposed missile sites, such as bolstering short and mid-range air defenses, in return for cooperation.

Polish opposition is growing, with fears for its impact on relations with Russia and its attraction to terrorist attack. Some Europeans are also questioning the necessity of a missile shield ostensibly to defend against a future Iran after the release of the US National Intelligence Estimate suggested Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003.

The Director of the US Missile Defense Agency, Lt. General Henry Obering III visited the Czech Republic in mid January hoping to garner support, keen to begin construction by the end of the year. Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has indicated his intention to seek Parliamentary approval for the plan after the NATO Summit in Bucharest in April, but Czech leaders have not set a firm deadline for concluding any missile defense deal. More talks were scheduled for this week.

NATO has invited Russia to attend the Bucharest Summit. Disagreement over the installation of a missile defense system in Eastern Europe would likely be high on the agenda. Russia has assigned a new Ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, and the appointment is expected to make NATO-Russia Council discussions tougher. NATO's Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, recently commented that Russia's appointment of Rogozin, "...is, sadly, not going to change the differences of opinion between Russia and NATO on issues like Kosovo or missile defense."

 

Further reading

Missile Defense Update #1
Center for Defense Information, January 24, 2008.

DOT&E's 2007 Assessment of Missile Defense: Wobbling Along
Victoria Samson, Center for Defense Information, January 18, 2008.

NATO and Missile Defence: Implications for Germany before the Bucharest Summit
Alexander Bitter, SWP Research Paper, December 2007.

Missile Defence and European Security
Stephen Pullinger (ISIS-Europe), study for European Parliament, Policy Department External Policies, November 2007.

 

Publications

Ban the Bomb. Really
Michael Krepon, Henry L. Stimson Center. Article appears in The American Interest, Winter (January/February) 2008.

Off Target: While the White House talked about WMD, it quietly gutted efforts to stop their spread
Kurt Pitzer, Mother Jones, January/February 2008.

A Look Back Reveals Forward Thinking
Walter Pincus, Washington Post, January 14, 2008. (Covers highlights from the recently released [in declassified form] Special National Intelligence Estimate called "Prospects for Further Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons" from 1974.)

Atomic body set for US control
Sylvia Pfeifer, Financial Times, January 10, 2008.

Following START: Risk Acceptance and the 1991-92 Presidential Nuclear Initiatives
Matthew Fuhrmann and Bryan R. Early, Foreign Policy Analysis, January 2008. (Detailed abstract. Full article available online for a fee.)

WMD Insights December 2007-January 2008.

Abolishing Nuclear Armouries: Policy or Pipedream?
Michael Quinlan, Survival, International Institute for Strategic Studies, Volume 49, Winter 2007-08. (Article available for purchase online.)

Know nukes: Why is our worst national nightmare so misunderstood?
Mike Miliard, The Phoenix, December 31, 2007. (Interview with Michael Levi about the threat of nuclear terrorism.)

Nuclear Non-Proliferation News from the Acronym Institute
(Monthly digest of UK news focusing on Trident and Missile Defense), December 20, 2007.

Nuclear safeguards for a new nuclear age
Charles D. Ferguson, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, December 19, 2007.

COMMENTARY - ARE WE SAFE? Preventing a nuclear terrorist attack on the US
Graham Allison, Patriot Ledger, December 19, 2007.

The Nuclear Jihadist: The True Story of the Man Who Sold the World's Most Dangerous Secrets...And How We Could Have Stopped Him
Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins, Twelve (Publisher), December 2007.

Is There Any Fizz Left in the Fissban?
Prospects for a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty, Ambassador Paul Meyer, Arms Control Today, December 2007.

Nuclear Weapons: Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty
Jonathan Medalia, Congressional Research Service Report for US Congress, Updated November 30, 2007.

Beyond War: How Engaged Are We?
Steve Andreasen and Steven N. Simon, Star Tribune, November 26, 2007.

The Seventh Decade: The New Shape of Nuclear Danger
Jonathan Schell, Henry Holt and Co. Metropolitan Books, November 2007.

On Nuclear Terrorism
Michael Levi, Harvard University Press, November 2007.

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