Getting to Zero Update

In this issue

Arms control

At a meeting of the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Security and Non-Proliferation at Westminster on July 10 Ambassador Max Kampelman reiterated an earlier call in January this year by US Secretaries Shultz, Kissinger, Perry and Senator Nunn to step back from the brink of nuclear anarchy. Amb. Kampelman was in London at the invitation of BASIC to talk with UK officials and MPs about the growing movement of former senior US officials and politicians with a shared vision of a world without nuclear weapons.

The 2007 Carnegie International Nonproliferation Conference, “Tomorrow’s Solutions,” June 25-26, in Washington, D.C., addressed the critical challenges confronting the nonproliferation regime and offered policy recommendations to stop the spread and use of nuclear weapons and materials. The conference attracted over 800 experts for the two-day event, representing government officials from 31 countries, top policy and technical experts, NGO leaders, funders, academics and the media. Video, transcripts, presentations, and photo galleries from the conference sessions are available on CEIP’s new nonproliferation program website. Click here for full highlights, videos and photos.

Margaret Beckett, the former UK foreign secretary, gave the Luncheon Keynote: A World Free of Nuclear Weapons?, described by Senator Sam Nunn, Co-Chairman, Nuclear Threat Initiative, as “A game changing speech.”

Reuters reported May 22 that the United States plans to let the START nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia expire in 2009 and replace it with a less formal agreement that eliminates strict verification requirements and weapons limits. This would continue President George W. Bush’s practice of repudiating arms control as a means of curbing nuclear weapons while relying more on countermeasures like export controls, interdiction and sanctions.
See also this July 4 Washington Post article and this by Ian Davis, BASIC’s Co-Executive Director: Comment is free: Armageddon in the offing?

Hans Blix writes about the prospects for global arms control in this Boston Review article.

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United States

On June 6, the $31.6 billion House Energy and Water Appropriations Bill was completed by the House Appropriations Committee. As written, the bill would spend $1.1 billion over the president’s request. The bill report appropriated zero funds for both RRW and the nuclear bomb plant. The committee sited a lack of a comprehensive U.S. nuclear weapons strategy and stockpile plan as its reasoning for giving no funds to these two programs. On July 17 the full House passes the Energy and Water Bill.

On June 28 the $32.3 billion Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Bill is completed by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill report appropriated $66 million for RRW, and limits any money to be spent on design and cost studies only. The bill gives no money to the nuclear bomb plant. The bill is $1.8 billion over the president’s request. On July 9-18 the full Senate considered the Defense Authorization Bill on the floor. Debate was not completed and the bill will be reconsidered in September.

The Washington Post reported June 18 that Congress is moving to change the direction of the Bush administration’s nuclear weapons program by demanding the development of a comprehensive post-Sept. 11, 2001, nuclear strategy before it approves funding for a new generation of warheads.

On June 13 the New York Times reported that a federal advisory panel recommended that thousands of former workers at the Rocky Flats, Colorado a nuclear weapons plant be denied immediate government compensation for
illnesses that they say result from years of radiation exposure. The Washington Post reported May 12 that thousands of nuclear arms workers have seen their cancer claims denied or delayed.

On May 9 three U.S. congressmen introduced the Ending Nuclear Trafficking Act. The bill would designate the transfer of nuclear weapons, material or technology for terrorism purposes as a crime against humanity punishable under U.S. law; give U.S. courts jurisdiction over any instance of nuclear smuggling around the world if the intended recipient is a terrorist planning to attack the United States, or in cases where there is a link to US citizens, companies, financing or material support; and mandate that the U.S. representative to the United Nations request that other nations also establish nuclear smuggling as a crime against humanity punishable in their courts and by international tribunals.

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On July 17 the United States and India began a high-level effort to conclude a controversial nuclear cooperation agreement that the State Department said was still within reach. This June 7 Asia Times article reports on complications over the U.S.-India nuclear deal. For details see here, here, and here.


A team of technical, legal and political directors from the UN nuclear watchdog arrived in Tehran on July 11 to draw up a framework to resolve the outstanding issues about Iran’s nuclear program. Asia Times reports that Iran and the IAEA will draw up a plan of action within the next 60 days to resolve all the “outstanding issues”, which include
“information relevant to the assembly of centrifuges, the manufacture of centrifuge components … and research and development of centrifuges or enrichment techniques”. In addition, Iran has agreed to the IAEA’s inspection of the heavy-water reactor under construction in Arak, as well as to short-notice inspection of the uranium-enrichment facility in Natanz.

On July 9 the IAEA announced that Iran has slowed the expansion of its disputed uranium enrichment program. Also on July 9 the Washington Post reported on tunneling near Iran’s nuclear facility at Natanz. See also this ArmsControlWonk article and this Institute for Science and International Security report, New Tunnel Construction at Mountain Adjacent to the Natanz Enrichment Complex.

On May 25 the Institute for Science and International Security released its review of the IAEA report, Iran Making Progress but Not Yet Reliably Operating an Enrichment Plant. The IAEA’s latest report on Iran was released May 23. The New York Times reported that Iran appears to have solved most of its technological problems and is now beginning to enrich uranium on a far larger scale than before. For detail see this ArmsControlWonk post.

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North Korea

On July 19 the IAEA approved inspectors returned to North Korea to verify steps by Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear weapons program. The day before, the IAEA had reported that North Korea had shut down its nuclear reactor and four related facilities. This followed an announcement on July 15 by North Korea that id had begun closing its main nuclear reactor, a plutonium facility at Yongbyon, shortly after receiving a first boatload of fuel oil aid.

The IAEA announced July 3 that the Director General had circulated his report on Monitoring and Verification in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, following a visit by an Agency team to North Korea, 26-29 June 2007. The IAEA´s 35-member Board considered the report at its meeting on July 9 in Vienna.

On June 28, the North Koreans let an IAEA assessment team visit Yongbyon. This was the first time since 2002 that IAEA inspectors had been allowed inside North Korea. Before the team left the country, the government struck a technical agreement that would allow the IAEA to oversee the shutdown of the facility.

United Kingdom

The Sydney Morning Herald reported May 15 that, according to new research, New Zealand sailors used as “human guinea pigs” in UK nuclear tests in the 1950s suffered serious genetic damage may. This may pave the way for a multibillion-dollar lawsuit against the British Government.



Nuclear energy

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