Getting to Zero Update

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In this issue

 

Arms Control

Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
Preparatory Conference

The first Preparatory Conference (PrepCom) for the 2010
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference opened on April 30
in Vienna. The two-week conference was immediately deadlocked when
Iran objected to an agenda item that called for full compliance
with the NPT. Iran wanted to amend this to read compliance with
“all the provisions” of the treaty to ensure that disarmament by
nuclear-weapons states (NWS) would be discussed, as well as
compliance by non-nuclear weapons states (NNWS) with NPT safeguards
against using atomic energy for military purposes. On May 8 a South
African compromise proposal was finally accepted that will footnote
the phrase to the agenda to specify that “all provisions” of the
pact must be fully observed.

After the 2005 NPT Review Conference spent two thirds of its
time arguing over the agenda and other procedural issues, this all
seems depressingly familiar. This time Iran was isolated and
clearly believed that the disputed clause referred to concerns
about its nuclear program – not unsurprising given that that
several States Parties referred to this in their opening General
Statements. However, a large number of governments also called on
the NWS to fulfil their Article VI (disarmament) obligations. South
African Ambassador Abdul Minty, for example, turned the focus back
to NWS when he said Britain’s effort to update its Trident
submarine deterrent was a step back from the need to “diminish the
role of nuclear weapons in security policies”. See www.reachingcriticalwill.org
for further details of progress at the PrepCom as well as copies of
government statements and working papers.

Unfortunately, the Treaty does not have a mechanism equivalent
to the International Atomic Energy Agency that would assess
compliance with Article VI, and these obligations are not as
specific as the non-proliferation obligations. This deficit and
attempts to remedy it was part of the focus of a draft BASIC Paper
presented at a fringe meeting at the PrepCom on May 3. Organised
jointly with VERTIC, and hosted by Ambassador Landman
(Netherlands), the seminar discussed approaches to balanced
implementation of Articles III and VI of the NPT, with VERTIC
focusing on the former and BASIC the latter. The draft paper will
be updated (to include a detailed review of each of the NWS’ record
in relation to the 13 ‘disarmament steps’ agreed at the 2000 NPT
Review Conference) and published as a BASIC Research Report in the
near future.

 

Fissile material

On April 12 the Associated Press reported that independent arms
control experts from 15 countries, under the auspices of the
International Panel on Fissile Materials
, are drafting a treaty
to ban production of uranium and plutonium for nuclear weapons that
could rival a US text under consideration by the Conference on
Disarmament.

On April 19 the United States and Japan signed off on an
action plan
which will jointly develop ways to prevent nuclear
fuels from proliferating while promoting nuclear power generation
across the world.

 

United States

Nuclear disarmament

The April 17 Defense Daily reported that the Air Force
expects to start decommissioning 50 Minuteman III nuclear-tipped
ICBMs later this year, reducing the size of the nation’s land-based
strategic deterrent by 10 per cent.

 

Nuclear re-armament

On April 22 the Washington Post
reported
on congressional skepticism about and opposition to
Bush administration’s plans to move ahead with a new generation of
nuclear warheads. Congressional skepticism was furthered by the
April release of the report The
United States Nuclear Weapons Program: The Role of the Reliable
Replacement Warhead
by the American Association for the
Advancement of Science. See
this
for detail and this April 30
Scientific American article
. Also see these:

Transcript
of April 27 Arms Control Association Briefing on the Future of the
US Nuclear Weapons Complex and the Reliable Replacement
Warhead

Nuclear
Warheads: The Reliable Replacement Warhead Program and the Life
Extension Program
,” Congressional Research Service, April 4,
2007.

 

Cooperative threat reduction

On April 19 the Partnership for Global Security released its
analysis
of the State Department Fiscal Year 2008 ‘WMD Threat
Reduction’ program budget request.

 

Preventing nuclear
terrorism

The April 26
Guardian
reports on the launch of a massive US program to scan
for radioactive material that could be used by terrorists.

 

Commission on US Nuclear Strategic
Posture

The Washington Post
reported
that the House Armed Services subcommittee voted May 2
to establish a year-long, bipartisan commission to reevaluate the
US nuclear strategic posture for the post-9/11 world.

 

US-India Nuclear
Cooperation

The Hindu reported
here
, here,
here,
and here
on the latest round of technical negotiations with the United
States over the implementation of the July 2005 nuclear
agreement.

On April 20 the Washington Post
reported
that US officials, frustrated by the slow pace of
negotiating final agreements with India on President Bush’s deal to
give it access to civil nuclear technology, have informed the
Indian government that they want a major push next month to
complete negotiations before the deal unravels from bureaucratic
inertia and increased congressional anxiety of India’s dealings
with Iran.

This April 21 New York Times
article
reports on the debate in India over whether limitations
on their nuclear activities offend the country’s sense of
sovereignty.

 

Iran

On April 12 IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei
said
Iran is operating only several hundred centrifuges at its
uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, despite its claims to have
activated 3,000. For detail see Michael Levi’s piece
in The New Republic. In this April 13 article
ISN Security Watch investigated the current status of the
Iranian nuclear program.

The April 15 New York Times
reported
on how the Iranian nuclear program is motivating
neighboring states to develop their own nuclear power programs.

On April 25 Asia Times reported
on the new round of nuclear talks between Iran and the European
Union.

Arms Control Wonk reported
April 26 on the news that the United States is considering a “cold
standby” proposal for Natanz that would allow Iran to retain, but
not operate, some number of cascades.

Iran’s former nuclear negotiator, Hossein Mousavian, was
arrested on April 30 (the same day as Iran objected to the agenda
at the NPT PrepCom in Vienna – see above) on espionage charges, as
a result of “connections and exchange of information with foreign
elements”. Mousavian was a member of the Iranian nuclear
negotiating team until 2005 and before that served as Iran’s
ambassador to Germany. He was a close ally of former President
Rafsanjani.

 

North Korea

On April 14, as the New York Times
reported
, the first deadline for North Korea to shut down and
seal its main facility for manufacturing nuclear weapons fuel
expired, with no apparent move by the North to fulfill its
commitments. See also BBC
News
.

This April 14 Asia Times article looks at
the recent back and forth between the US and North Korea over
moving forward with the agreement to disable North Korean nuclear
facilities.

On April 30 the International Crisis Group released the briefing
After
the North Korea Nuclear Breakthrough: Compliance or
Confrontation?

 

Publications

Abdul Mannan, Preventing
Nuclear Terrorism in Pakistan: Sabotage of a Spent Fuel Cask or
Commercial Irradiation Source in Transport
, The Henry L.
Stimson Center, April 2007.

Robert Alvarez, Radioactive
Wastes and the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership
, Institute for
Policy Studies, April 2007.

Analysis of
House Strategic Forces Subcommittee Markup: FY2008 Defense
Authorization
, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation,
May 4, 2007.

Mark Fitzpatrick, Editor,
Nuclear Black Markets: Pakistan, A.Q. Khan and the rise of
proliferation networks
, Strategic Dossier by The International
Institute for Strategic Studies, may 2007.

Estimates
of the US Nuclear Weapons Stockpile (2007 and 2012)
, May
2007

Lawrence Scheinman, Equal
Opportunity: Historical Challenges and Future Prospects of the
Nuclear Fuel Cycle
, Arms Control Today, May 2007.

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Particulate Depleted Uranium Is Cytotoxic and Clastogenic to Human
Lung Cells, Chemical Research in Toxicology, Volume 20
Issue 4, April 2007.

References

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