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Nuclear News - 10/13/2006
RANSAC Nuclear News, October 13, 2006
Compiled By: Luke Schlichter

A.  Russia
    1. Concern Grows Over Nuclear Fuel Shipments, Galina Stolyarova, St. Petersburg Times (Russia) (10/13/2006)
    2. Long-term storage facility for SNF from nuclear icebreakers opens at Atomflot in Murmansk, Anna Kireeva, Bellona Foundation (10/12/2006)
B.  Iran
    1. EU to declare nuclear talks with Iran over: diplomat, Agence France-Presse (10/13/2006)
    2. Iran intends to develop full nuclear fuel cycle - president, RIA Novosti (10/11/2006)
    3. Iran dossier moves to U.N., no deal on sanctions, Reuters (10/11/2006)
    4. Iran and Indonesia to discuss nuclear cooperation: ambassador, Associated Press (10/11/2006)
    1. Be clear with North Korea, Sam Nunn, Co-Chairman, Atlanta Journal-Constitution (10/13/2006)
    2. World powers move closer to sanctions on North Korea, Jack Kim, Reuters (10/13/2006)
    3. N. Korean Threat Different for China, Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times (10/13/2006)
    4. What Will Stop North Korea, Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post (10/13/2006)
    5. Sleepwalking towards nuclear proliferation, Ian Davis, The Guardian (10/12/2006)
    6. N Korea warns against US pressure, Financial Times (10/11/2006)
    7. Diplomat says test was smaller than expected , Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian (10/11/2006)
D.  Russia - DPRK
    1. Russian deputy FM heads to N. Korea to discuss nuclear test, RIA Novosti (10/13/2006)
E.  Cooperative Threat Reduction
    1. Russia to discuss nuclear waste disposal projects with IAEA, RIA Novosti (10/13/2006)
F.  Nuclear Proliferation
    1. U.S. Fears Export of Technology, Peter Spiegel and Greg Miller, Los Angeles Times (10/11/2006)
G.  Nonproliferation Diplomacy
    1. Nuclear treaty must be updated or fall obsolete: experts, Pascal Mallet, Agence France-Presse (10/12/2006)
H.  India
    1. US gives assurances on Indian nuclear deal, Agence France-Presse (10/13/2006)
    2. Helsinki prefers silence on nuclear deal, Siddharth Varadarajan, The Hindu (10/13/2006)

A.  Russia

Concern Grows Over Nuclear Fuel Shipments
Galina Stolyarova
St. Petersburg Times (Russia)
(for personal use only)

As Western European countries examine opportunities to send more spent nuclear fuel for reprocessing in Russia, St. Petersburg's strategic location means much more of it would pass through the city.At present, cargo containing radioactive material passes through St. Petersburg at least ten times a month, said Alexander Shishkin, director of Isotope, a state-owned enterprise responsible for such shipments. Arriving by sea, the nuclear loads are then sent to treatment facilities in Siberia.

In 1999, Russian environmentalists failed to ban the import of spent nuclear fuel from abroad.

In December 2000, the State Duma voted overwhelmingly to adopt the practice of importing irradiated fuel from other countries. Supporters of the project then said that the money the business would raise would be used to develop Russia's nuclear industry, as well as improve its safety record and help clean up contaminated areas.

But ecologists' concerns have risen again as alarming details about the flawed safety regulations of the trade come to light.

Vladimir Slivyak of the Russian environmental group Ecodefence, said an investigation the group conducted showed that engine drivers and other staff on trains typically do not know they are transporting radioactive material.

"We have established several cases when the carriages were not even marked appropriately with a special sign saying 'radioactivity'," the expert said.

"Besides, Russian railways are not immune to traffic accidents. On a recent occasion, a bridge under construction fell on a passing train. It was a lucky coincidence that the train was not carrying uranium."

Environmental groups complain they are not officially informed about the nuclear traffic, and when they find out about a particular load and check the containers for radiation levels, they often find the containers unattended.

In July, environmentalists at the local branch of Greenpeace discovered six containers in Kapitolovo in the outskirts of St. Petersburg stocked with radioactive material that the ecologists claimed was emitting radiation well over the accepted safety level. The wagons were not guarded.

"This kind of transportation would make a perfect gift for terrorists, both in the sense of accessibility of radioactive material and as a most vulnerable potential object for attack," Dmitry Artamonov, head of the local branch of Greenpeace, was quoted as saying.

Greenpeace previously found 37 containers marked as "radioactive material" and stationed in Kapitolovo. That was in May and the material was again left unguarded.

However, the unguarded transportation of radioactive material in Russia in most cases falls within the regulations governing the traffic.

"According to the instructions issued by the Russian Atomic Energy Ministry, armed guards are required only for one type of radioactive material, uranium hexaflouride," Shishkin said, adding that only as much as a single accompanying specialist has to be assigned to travel with any other kind of radioactive material.

For security reasons, any information about the transfer is difficult to obtain from officials, with their main concern being that the release of such information would spark panic among members of the public.

"Ordinary people have to be prepared to deal with this subject," said Maria Rozhdestvina, aide to the Environmental Prosecutor of Leningrad Oblast. "Pouring out information to the general public who know nothing on the subject would simply stir groundless mass hysteria."

But ecologists disagree.

Environmentalists argue that engine-drivers on trains have to be given extra training and deserve the right to be informed about cargo they are responsible for.

"Naturally, the state would rather not tell them; in Germany, rail transportation of radioactive material was banned for three years very recently because the drivers refused to be involved," said Matthias Eickhoff, spokesman of the group Widerstand gegen Atomanlagen (WIGA) in MЯnster, Germany. "The official reason was that close proximity to these containers would put them at an increased risk of impotence. And labor unions nationwide supported the appeal."

Eickhoff said it costs German companies three times less to send irradiated left-overs to Russia than to reprocess them at home and blamed his home country for being immoral.

"This is unethical; every country that decides to use nuclear technologies has to be responsible for any costs and consequences involved," the expert said. "Burdening other countries with it and choosing one state as the world's nuclear waste storage, however difficult the circumstances of this state may be, is despicable."

In June 1999, the Nuclear Power Ministry and a U.S.-based Non-Proliferation Trust (NPT), signed a letter of intent, according to which Russia would accept at least 10,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel from Switzerland, South Korea and Taiwan for reprocessing and storage for at least 40 years.

For its services, Russia would charge between $1,000 and $2,000 per kilogram of spent fuel � much cheaper than other countries which store and reprocess foreign nuclear fuel.

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Long-term storage facility for SNF from nuclear icebreakers opens at Atomflot in Murmansk
Anna Kireeva
Bellona Foundation
(for personal use only)

The Murmansk Region has accumulated a large amount of spent nuclear fuel from nuclear icebreakers. The spent nuclear fuel (SNF) is being stored in floating technical bases � three highly radioactive nuclear service ships called the Lotta, the Imandra, and the Lepse � as neither regional authorities nor the country as a whole have suitable storage facilities.

Atomflot has therefore constructed a safe, on-land storage facility that will significantly decrease the dangers of storing radioactive waste in the Murmansk area.

�This is the first such project in Russia, that is, the first container-type storage facility for SNF in Russia,� said Sergei Zhavoronkin, director of Bellona-Murmansk. He said the technologies used on the storage facility project could be applied at other facilities, in particular at the notorious Andreyeva Bay.

�This is a multi-faceted project,� Mustafa Kashka, deputy technical director of Russia's Northern Nuclear Fleet told Bellona Web. �Implementation will enable us to raise the safety level for fuel storage, because on-shore storage is more secure than (storage) at sea.�

�On the other hand, the storage facility will enable us to unload the Lotta base, and free up vessels so they can take more active part in getting fuel off submarines,� Kashka said.

Project technical characteristics

The container-type SNF storage facility is meant to store fuel that at present cannot be reprocessed due to Russia's lack of state-of-the-art reprocessing technology. The fuel can be stored at the facility for up to 50 years.

The facility is designed to hold 50 TUK-120 ferroconcrete containers. The transportation assemblage guarantees nuclear and radiation safety during transportation, loading and unloading of SNF and during SNF storage operations.

The TUK-120 cask was developed specially to transport and store SNF from nuclear submarines. It includes three hermetically sealed barriers that guarantee secure storage of SNF.

During development of the TUK, research was carried out into long-term dry storage of SNF that proved that storing SNF in an inert medium and preventing moisture from entering the cask's environment would see storage lifetimes limited only by normative demands on control of the fuel state, and could reach 50 years of safe storage time.

Following a positive testing programme, the container was certified to Russian and international standards. The containers are built to withstand fire, flooding, and major shocks like aircraft impact.

�Cutting-edge technologies were used during the design of the containers. The containers were made at Sevmash and meet all requirements. The constructions have been through serious tests,� Zhavaronkin said.

Project history

Originally, Atomflot planned to build a storage facility for SNF from nuclear transport reactors. The facility was planned to be large-scale, but construction started during Perestroika and was later halted.

Building No. 5 at Andreyeva Bay, where construction was suspended, was later restructured as a dry storage facility.

�We must give the British their due,� Kashka told Bellona Web. The British company Crown Agents won a contract from the British Department of Trade and Industry, and both administer and provided oversight for the project.

The final touches on the project coincided with the reorganization of a number of Russian government organizations, as a result of which no government expertise bodies were working for six months.

As a result Russia and Britain agreed that, while a state environmental assessment project was being approved, the basis for the beginning of preparatory construction work would be the results of a civilian environmental assessment conducted by Bellona-Murmansk in 2004.

�The British side trusted us, which meant we were able to reduce project implementation time by a year, thereby making significant financial savings,� Kashka said.

Project planning started in December 2003, construction work got under way in 2004, and a state commission finished the storage facility in August 2006.

�The short agreement period for all documentation and construction of such an important facility is very important,� Zhavoronkin said. �It is good that we did not get bogged down in red tape. I can say with certainty that British taxpayers' money was well spent.�

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B.  Iran

EU to declare nuclear talks with Iran over: diplomat
Agence France-Presse
(for personal use only)

EU foreign ministers are to formally end negotiations with Teheran over Iran�s nuclear ambitions at talks in Luxembourg on Tuesday because of a lack of results, a European diplomat said on Friday.

The ministers are due to declare that �negotiations with Iran have terminated because of a lack of results,� the diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

However, a draft of the meeting�s conclusions dating from October 11 and seen by AFP does not include that sentence.

Other diplomats said that the most recent version was not as strongly worded and left the door open to further negotiations.

At the meeting in Luxembourg, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana is due to give an account of talks with Iran, which the major world powers have asked to end its uranium enrichment activities.

Solana acknowledged last week that talks had ground to a halt, sparking discussions about possible sanctions against Iran in the United Nations Security Council.

He also said that he planned no further meetings with Iran�s top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani.

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Iran and Indonesia to discuss nuclear cooperation: ambassador
Associated Press
(for personal use only)

Iran and Indonesia plan to discuss cooperation in nuclear technology for nonmilitary purposes during an upcoming visit by Indonesia's Vice President Jusuf Kalla to Iran, Iran's ambassador to the country said Wednesday.

Bahruz Kamal Vandi said nuclear power was one of several alternative energy sources he and Kalla discussed in a meeting.

"(Nuclear) energy is very important to the two countries to reduce their reliance on current sources of energy," Vandi told reporters here.

Vandi said a possible "concrete" policy on nuclear cooperation will be discussed during Kalla's visit to Iran.

Kalla would visit Iran after the ongoing Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, an official at his office said, without providing a specific timetable. Ramadan is scheduled to end during the last week of October.

Iran is trying to bolster support among fellow Islamic-majority nations for its nuclear power ambitions. Indonesia, which supports Tehran's right to tap nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, plans to have a nuclear power station by 2015.

Indonesia desperately needs energy to meet rising electricity demand while reducing its fuel imports to pay for its existing power plants.

The country became a net oil importer recently due to faltering output and investment in the energy sector.

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Iran dossier moves to U.N., no deal on sanctions
(for personal use only)

Major powers failed on Wednesday to bridge differences over what sanctions to impose against Iran for its nuclear program and sent the dossier to the U.N. Security Council, the U.S. State Department said.

Political directors from the permanent members of the Security Council -- the United States, France, Russia, China and Britain -- as well as Germany held a video conference call and decided the "action" on Iran would go to the United Nations, said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.

But McCormack said the six nations had not yet agreed on what sanctions would be imposed against Iran, which failed to meet an August 31 U.N. deadline to give up uranium enrichment or face sanctions.

"There are still discussions that remain to be had on exactly what sanctions will be in the (U.N.) resolution," said McCormack after the call.

Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, who represented the United States on the call, said the Security Council was expected to start drawing up the resolution by the end of the week or early next week.

"(We are looking for) a sanctions resolution that will raise the cost to the Iranians of what they are doing in the nuclear realm," said Burns, according to a transcript of his remarks.

China and Russia have been reluctant to agree to punitive measures against Iran and some European allies such as France have also been reticent over such measures.

McCormack said there was general agreement on sanctions but not on the exact measures to be imposed. "It's a matter of hammering out exactly which elements of the sub-set (of sanctions) will be in that resolution," he said.

After North Korea announced this week it had tested a nuclear device, the Security Council has been focused on what punitive measures to impose against Pyongyang and action could be delayed on Iran due to this.

"I will expect the North Korea resolution will be the first thing but they will start work on the next couple of days on Iran," said McCormack.

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Iran intends to develop full nuclear fuel cycle - president
RIA Novosti
(for personal use only)

Iran is determined to develop full nuclear fuel cycle technology, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday.

"They [the West] must know that possession of the full nuclear fuel cycle technology is the desire of the whole Iranian people," he said at a public meeting.

The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1696 July 31, demanding that Iran suspend uranium enrichment by August 31 or face possible economic and diplomatic sanctions. However, an IAEA report said Tehran refused to suspend the program and blocked IAEA inspectors from inspecting Iran's nuclear facilities.

Last week, the United States and Britain renewed their calls for international sanctions against Iran after negotiations between the country's key nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana failed to produce any breakthrough.

Ahmadinejad said Iran acts in the nuclear sphere within international law, and is willing to continue talks on its nuclear program [with the international community].

"Why should we do it [declare a unilateral moratorium on nuclear research]?" the Iranian leader said. "If our nuclear cycle is dangerous, then yours is dangerous, too."

The six powers mediating the Iranian nuclear issue, the five permanent UN Security Council members, plus Germany, have been trying to persuade Iran to accept a package of incentives, and suspend uranium enrichment, which many countries believe is the beginning of an Iranian nuclear weapons program.

Deputy foreign ministers of the Iran-six mediators will discuss the Iranian issue in a video conference Wednesday, and will forward their conclusions to their representatives at the UN Security Council in preparation of a draft resolution on Iran.

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Be clear with North Korea
Sam Nunn, Co-Chairman
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
(for personal use only)

North Korea's nuclear program and its recent test create not only the threat of a nuclear arms race in Asia, but also the danger of sale or leakage of nuclear weapons or materials to groups that will use them.

I hope this event will be a wake-up call in unifying the international community not only to confront the threat posed by North Korea, but also to formulate a broader and more effective approach to nuclear threat reduction worldwide.

The first goal must be to fix the problem that we failed to prevent. We need to insist that North Korea fulfill the commitment it made in 2005 for a nuclear weapons-free Korean peninsula. This demand must be backed by tough economic sanctions that are supported by China, South Korea, Russia, Japan and the United States � and the sanctions must come quickly.

A united and speedy response that can be built upon is more important than a perfect response. We must also make it clear to North Korea that there will be dire consequences if it acts to use or spread nuclear weapons or nuclear materials. We must make sure North Korea understands that unlike our previous warnings, we really mean this one.

In order to try to prevent a nuclear arms race in Asia, the United States should publicly reiterate our security guarantees to Japan and South Korea. These two nations and their citizens must be reassured that they remain under the nuclear umbrella of the United States and that we will regard an attack from North Korea against South Korea or Japan as an attack against the United States.

Achieving a nuclear-free Korean peninsula will require a combination of carrots and sticks to help convince North Korea (and show other nations such as Iran) that it will be far better off without nuclear weapons than with them.

While we are urging our allies to sharpen their sticks on sanctions, we must be willing to cook our carrots on both economic and security assurances.

The Bush administration must get beyond the counterproductive ideology that views talking to our adversaries as a reward for good behavior and refusing to talk as an effective punishment. History shows that nations rarely give up nuclear weapons without credible assurances about their security. In the case of North Korea, these assurances must come from several nations, but must begin with an extensive U.S.- North Korean dialogue.

North Korea is a crisis in itself, but it is also a sign of a growing worldwide nuclear threat. More nations are acquiring and seeking to acquire nuclear weapons. Growing energy needs mean more nations may seek the capacity to make nuclear fuel, which could also give them the capacity and technology to make nuclear weapons materials. Terrorists are seeking nuclear weapons and materials as the list of their potential suppliers expands.

To fight back against these rising nuclear dangers, the world must accelerate the security of and elimination of nuclear weapons and materials around the world.

The world must support civil nuclear power programs while preventing the spread of nuclear weapons materials and technology through:

*Creating a nuclear fuel bank under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency, so nations can be assured of getting nuclear fuel without having to build their own capacity to make it. (In Vienna, Austria last month, our Nuclear Threat Initiative made such a proposal backed by $50 million in funding.)

*Establishing a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty to ban production of nuclear weapons materials and require inspections and monitoring of all plutonium processing and uranium enrichment facilities to ensure that they are not creating materials for military use.

*Phasing out highly enriched uranium in civil commerce to sharply reduce the chance that terrorists can acquire the material they need to build a nuclear weapon. This should include converting nuclear research facilities that use highly enriched uranium to low-enriched uranium.

The world must strengthen export controls and the Proliferation Security Initiative to prevent the spread of nuclear technology and know-how through the black market, as happened in the case of A.Q. Khan, the Pakistani nuclear scientist.

There must be a global initiative similar to the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program with the goal of helping countries meet their nonproliferation obligations, including U.N. Security Council Resolution 1540, which prescribes cooperative action to prevent trafficking in weapons of mass destruction.

North Korea's nuclear program can only be dealt with successfully with the cooperation of the United States, China, South Korea, Japan, Russia and our European friends.

The spread of nuclear weapons and materials is the world's greatest threat.

We are in a race between cooperation and catastrophe. This is a race we must win.

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N. Korean Threat Different for China
Mark Magnier
Los Angeles Times
(for personal use only)

China's reaction to North Korea's nuclear test announcement early this week was unusually swift and forceful. Within hours, the normally slow-to-react Chinese government characterized Pyongyang's action as hanran, meaning brazen, a term generally reserved for its worst enemies.

By midweek, however, China was sounding more like its old self: calling for dialogue, eschewing confrontation and warning against comprehensive economic sanctions, even as it redoubled efforts to bring its longtime ally back to the negotiating table.

As North Korea's top supplier of energy and food, Beijing is viewed as the key to a tough international response at the United Nations to North Korea's declared nuclear test Monday in defiance of Security Council warnings. And Washington argues that China must be a "responsible stakeholder" if it wants a leading role in international politics.

But with its go-slow stance, Beijing has been exposed to criticism that it is squandering a golden opportunity to display global leadership.

The problem, analysts say, is that China draws much different conclusions than Washington, even in the middle of a nuclear crisis, because it has a very different idea of what's important and what it needs to prosper.

Whereas the U.S. and Europe view a nuclear North Korea as a fundamental threat to the global order, China sees it less as a problem in its own right than as a catalyst for other headaches, including the possible destabilization of the Korean peninsula and militarization of Japan.

"America wants to see North Korea go away, representing the final victory of the Cold War," said Alexandre Mansourov, a security expert with the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu. "China's interests, however, lie in keeping North Korea in place. China's not doing this because it loves [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Il, but because it wants the buffer to remain."

Furthermore, Beijing appears to be less worried about a nuclear-armed North Korea.

"There's a big perception gap," said Jin Linbo, Asia-Pacific director at Beijing's China Institute of International Studies. "China has a different assessment of the danger."

Beijing already lives in a tough neighborhood where nuclear neighbors are abundant. It nearly went to war with a nuclear Soviet Union in the 1960s and more recently watched Pakistan and rival India join the club. China is not all that impressed by Pyongyang's nuclear technology, analysts add, nor does it see itself as a potential target.

China's position bears similarities to that of the U.S. from the Civil War to World War I, says Jin Canrong, vice dean of foreign relations at People's University in Beijing. It is industrializing rapidly, weathering a huge population shift from rural to urban areas and is grappling with enormous social problems related to rising expectations and a widening wealth gap.

In the same way America was primarily isolationist as it focused on internal development, China seeks enough time and international stability to lift its people out of poverty, ease societal stresses and keep enough money flowing to maintain the Communist Party's monopoly.

A bigger danger than North Korean nuclear weapons from China's perspective is Washington destabilizing the region. Beijing apparently believes it needs North Korea as a buffer against the 30,000 or so U.S. troops stationed in South Korea to guard against an attack by Kim.

China, along with Russia, fears that sanctions could lead to a change of government in Pyongyang and growing U.S. influence close to home. Sanctions presaged the U.S.-led NATO removal of President Slobodan Milosevic in Yugoslavia and the 2003 invasion of Iraq that unseated President Saddam Hussein.

Moreover, if Kim fell, the risk of refugees flooding across the border into China is a frightening economic and social prospect.

Also weighing on China's mind is a fear that precipitate action could disrupt its courtship of South Korea, analysts say. If the Pyongyang government collapses in the near future in the wake of sanctions or direct military action, the United States would retain significant influence over a Seoul-dominated Korean peninsula. Keeping Kim in place, on the other hand, could eventually see both Koreas in China's camp.

"South Korea is the big prize in all of this," said Ralph Cossa, executive director of the Honolulu-based Pacific Forum, affiliated with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Since relations between Beijing and Seoul were normalized in 1992, China has watched approvingly as anti-American sentiment has grown in South Korea, U.S. troop levels have declined, China has supplanted the United States as Seoul's largest trading partner and trendy young Koreans have dropped their English-language classes in droves to study Mandarin. A sign of China's growing confidence is its support for South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon as the next U.N. secretary-general. A decade ago, Beijing would have condemned a similar nominee as a U.S. puppet.

None of which is to say that Pyongyang doesn't infuriate Beijing. Despite receiving much of its food and an estimated 70% of its energy from China, North Korea is often ungrateful and defiant, knowing that China's interests would be hurt by its collapse. The way Pyongyang sees it, analysts say, Beijing merely writes the checks while it is doing the heavy lifting in the front-line battle against what the two governments perceive to be Western imperialists.

North Korea has also timed its outbursts with seeming disregard for its giant neighbor.

Its 1998 missile launch over Japan's main island of Honshu boosted Japanese public support for a U.S. missile defense plan, hurting Beijing's interests.

Pyongyang's February 2005 announcement of reactivated nuclear activity, in the middle of Chinese New Year, infuriated Beijing officials who were forced to cut short their holiday.

And the announcement of the nuclear test Monday morning occurred during one of the most important political events on the Chinese calendar � the Communist Party's four-day Central Committee meeting.

Chinese leaders, with their love of pageantry, don't like tearing up their domestic or foreign scripts. The declared test by Beijing's mercurial neighbor not only overshadowed the meeting but discredited President Hu Jintao's main foreign policy initiative: six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear issue, involving the U.S., South Korea, Russia and Japan in addition to China and North Korea.

Beijing's biggest nightmare emerging from the crisis would be a nuclear Japan, although it remains confident that won't happen given divisions in Japanese society and Washington's fears that such a development would spur a regional arms race.

Though Beijing sees far less danger in a nuclear North Korea than does Washington, it remains under pressure to bring its stance somewhat more in line with the U.S. position. Too many other countries are angry, and Pyongyang's defiance threatens to embolden other nations aspiring to become nuclear powers, undercutting the global stability China needs to grow and prosper internally. Nor can Beijing afford to alienate the Americans, its biggest customers, by appearing too cozy with Pyongyang.

China apparently also figures it would have more influence by supporting and watering down a U.N. sanctions resolution than it would through outright opposition. Seoul and Beijing both know that North Korea can take more punishment right now: The fall harvest gives the impoverished country some breathing room.

This all leaves Beijing seeking an equilibrium closer to the U.S. position but not so close that it deals a death blow to Kim's government.

Adding to China's lumbering pace this week, analysts say, is its cumbersome decision-making system. Because policy for centuries has been made by a tiny elite behind closed doors, the system can fall short during periods of rapid change as other parts of the government await directives handed down from on high.

Beijing has certainly taken more global responsibility, as seen by its recent decision to send 1,000 peacekeeping troops to Lebanon. By and large, however, it tries to avoid getting entangled in too many overseas commitments, in keeping with its multi-decade game plan.

"China measures history in centuries, not the next quarter," said Mansourov of the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies. "There's a notion that China will play out an American scenario, but they don't see it that way. They have a very different national interest."

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What Will Stop North Korea
Charles Krauthammer
Washington Post
(for personal use only)

"It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union."

-- President John F. Kennedy,

Oct. 22, 1962

Now that's deterrence.

Kennedy was pledging that if any nuke was launched from Cuba, the United States would not even bother with Cuba but would go directly to the source and bring the apocalypse to Russia with a massive nuclear attack.

The remarkable thing about this kind of threat is that in 1962 it was very credible. Indeed, its credibility kept the peace throughout a half-century of the Cold War.

Deterrence is what you do when there is no way to disarm your enemy. You cannot deprive him of his weapons, but you can keep him from using them. We long ago reached that stage with North Korea.

Everyone has tried to figure out how to disarm North Korea. It will not happen. Kim Jong Il is not going to give up his nukes. The only way to disarm the regime is to destroy it. China could do that with sanctions but will not. The United States could do that with a second Korean War but will not either.

So we are back to deterrence. Hence the familiar echoes of the Cuban missile crisis with North Korea's rude entry into the nuclear club this week. The United States had to immediately put down markers for deterrence. President Bush put down two.

One marker, preventing a direct attack on our allies in the region, was straightforward, if bland: "I reaffirmed to our allies in the region, including South Korea and Japan," the president said in a nationally televised statement, "that the United States will meet the full range of our deterrent and security commitments." It is understood by all that the decades-old American nuclear umbrella in the Pacific Rim commits us to attacking North Korea -- presumably with in-kind nuclear retaliation -- were it to attack our allies first.

Gruesome stuff, but run-of-the-mill in the nuclear age. The hard part is the second marker Bush tried to put down: proliferation deterrence.

We are in an era far more complicated than Kennedy's because his great crisis occurred before the age of terrorism. The world of 1962 was still technologically and ideologically primitive: Miniaturized nuclear weaponry had not yet been invented, nor had modern international terrorism. Yasser Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization gave the world that gift half a decade later with their perfection of the political airline hijacking.

Terrorism has since grown in popularity, ambition and menace. Its practitioners are in the market for nuclear weapons. North Korea has little else to sell.

Hence Bush's attempt to codify a second form of deterrence: "The transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States, and we would hold North Korea fully accountable for the consequences of such action."

A good first draft, but it could use some Kennedyesque clarity. The phrase "fully accountable" does not exactly instill fear, as it has been used promiscuously by several administrations in warnings to both terrorists and rogue states -- after which we did absolutely nothing. A better formulation would be the following:

"Given the fact that there is no other nuclear power so recklessly in violation of its nuclear obligations, it shall be the policy of this nation to regard any detonation of a nuclear explosive on the United States or its allies as an attack by North Korea on the United States requiring a full retaliatory response upon North Korea."

This is how you keep Kim Jong Il from proliferating. Make him understand that his survival would be hostage to the actions of whatever terrorist group he sold his weapons to. Any terrorist detonation would be assumed to have his address on it. The United States would then return postage. Automaticity of this kind concentrates the mind.

This policy has a hitch, however. It works only in a world where there is but a single rogue nuclear state. Once that club expands to two, the policy evaporates, because a nuclear terror attack would no longer have a single automatic return address.

Which is another reason why keeping Iran from going nuclear is so important. With North Korea there is no going back. But Iran is not there yet. One rogue country is tolerable because it can be held accountable. Two rogue countries guarantees undeterrable and therefore inevitable nuclear terrorism.

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World powers move closer to sanctions on North Korea
Jack Kim
(for personal use only)

U.N. powers moved closer on Friday to slapping sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear test after Washington, responding to China's concerns, proposed a resolution that specifically rules out military force.

"I don't want to say we've reached agreement yet, but many, many of the significant differences have been closed, very much to our satisfaction," U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton told reporters.

North Korea has said it would consider tough U.N. measures as tantamount to a declaration of war and remained unrepentant in the face of international condemnation.

Washington's "hostile policy toward the DPRK has gone beyond the tolerance limit and a dangerous atmosphere of confrontation reminiscent of that on the eve of war is now prevailing on the Korean Peninsula," its state news agency, KCNA, said.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is the North's official name.

As the U.N. Security Council neared agreement on steps hitting North Korea's nuclear and missile programs with economic and weapons sanctions and a ban on luxury goods, South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun held talks in Beijing with Chinese leaders on their isolated and defiant neighbor.

"Both leaders supported the U.N. Security Council taking necessary and appropriate measures," Song Min-soon, a South Korean national security adviser, told reporters, without specifying what those measures should be.

China and South Korea have more sway over Pyongyang than any other countries, but the North's announcement on Monday that it had conducted a nuclear test has shaken their policies of political and economic engagement.

China and Russia, which both hold veto power on the Security Council, balked at some of the tough measures in an early draft resolution, forcing a U.S. compromise draft that could go to a vote as early as Saturday.

Russia sent Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alexeyev to North Korea on Friday to examine ways to defuse the crisis.

"We intend to do everything we can to rule out the development of events along the worst, confrontation scenario," Alexeyev said explaining the goal of his visit in remarks posted on the ministry web site

Anxious China

Diplomats said the fate of the new draft largely depends on Beijing, which was unusually critical of North Korea after the nuclear test, but which is also anxious to avoid driving North, with its 1.2 millionong army, further into a corner.

The revised U.N. draft eliminates a blanket arms embargo but bans heavy conventional weapons.

It also retains a provision that allows nations to inspect cargo moving to and from North Korea to prevent trafficking in nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said he was prepared to offer warships to any blockade enforcing U.N. sanctions.

But as North Korea's old Communist ally and neighbor, China fears the consequences if pressure on North Korea causes the impoverished country to collapse, potentially sending a wave of refugees across their 1,400-km (850-mile) border.

China and South Korea say they are still hoping to engage North Korea, bringing it back to six-country talks aimed at ending its nuclear arms program.

The talks, which China hosted and which also group the two Koreas, Japan, the United States and Russia, have been on hold for nearly a year.

"The two leaders urged the North to keep its promise to denuclearize the Korean peninsula, not take any action that further worsens the situation and return to the six-party talks," South Korea's Song said, referring to Roh and Hu.

Japan, by contrast, has urged a tougher response to North Korea. Its cabinet on Friday formally approved sanctions against the North, including banning imports and blocking North Korean ships from entering Japanese ports.

The steps, adding to sanctions Tokyo imposed after North Korea fired a salvo of missiles in July, also include prohibiting the entry of North Korean nationals except those living in Japan.

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Sleepwalking towards nuclear proliferation
Ian Davis
The Guardian
(for personal use only)

North Korea's nuclear weapons test at Hwaderi near the Chinese border is a serious threat to international security and the credibility of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime. It becomes the ninth country, and arguably the most unstable and most dangerous, to join the club of nuclear weapons states. Pyongyang has also broken the informal eight-year global moratorium on nuclear testing (the last tests were made by India and Pakistan in 1998) and it is the first Non-Nuclear Weapon State (NNWS) signatory to the NPT to cross over to the dark side.

Although North Korea announced its withdrawal from the treaty in January 2003, by actually testing a weapon, if that is proven, it has chosen to end years of ambiguity.

A nuclear-armed North Korea raises the spectre of a nuclear arms race in East Asia with the increased possibility of a devastating regional conflict. South Korea and Taiwan have curtailed previous nuclear weapon programmes, in part because of US pressure and security guarantees, and until now Japan has refrained from the military development of its extensive civil nuclear programme.

As well as representing a "preventable" failure of President Bush's foreign policy, the nuclear test can also be attributed to a double failure of the international community to strengthen the NPT in 2005: at a review conference in May and world summit in September. At the time, Kofi Annan said that the world seems to be "sleepwalking" down a path in which more and more states feel obliged to obtain nuclear weapons.

It is therefore imperative that the current confrontation be expediently resolved through diplomacy, with the ultimate aim of verifying North Korea's nuclear disarmament and a return to the NPT. It goes without saying that this will not be easy. But since the Cold War, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, South Africa and Libya have all gone non-nuclear - so it can be done, although North Korea is clearly the biggest challenge (alongside Iran) to date.


So where do we go from here? The Bush administration and leading Republicans have been unwilling to negotiate directly because they view concessions as a reward for unacceptable behaviour, and do not believe the North Koreans are willing to stick by commitments made. Hence, the demand on North Korea to satisfy tough preconditions at the start of negotiations. But a negotiated solution ("containment plus engagement"), however challenging, is the only long-term means of resolving the current confrontation. The other two options most often discussed, military action or containment and further isolation, offer no feasible route to a lasting resolution.

Military action is strongly opposed by US allies in the region since targeted air strikes against North Korea's nuclear facilities risks retaliatory strikes against South Korea and Japan and the potential for a regional, possibly nuclear, conflict. There will also be calls to increase the North Korean regime's isolation in an attempt to accelerate its eventual collapse. Tokyo and Washington, for example, are putting even more pressure on the South Korean government to terminate its "sunshine policy" of trade, tourism and openings to the north, and for China and Russia to cut off the trade and oil supplies that have been Kim Jong-il's main lifeline. But the isolation strategy has already proved counterproductive. And North Korea is already a failed state with the potential of mass starvation among its 20 million people.

In addition to strong condemnation of the nuclear test explosion, a return to high-level dialogue through the six-party talks process is the only way forward. Complementary North-South Korean dialogue to ease border tensions and US dialogue with allies in the region to reinforce their nuclear abstinence are also crucial. This may include negotiating a new basis for a US military presence on the Korean peninsula perhaps modelled on NATO's Partnership for Peace. In particular, it will require the new Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, to recognise that the test has not fundamentally altered the truth in Kofi Annan's Tokyo speech last year, when he held up Japan as a beacon of the message that nuclear weapons are not essential for greatness: "You have shown that a State does not need nuclear weapons to be 'normal.' Nor does it need to be armed to the teeth in order to exercise influence. The sources of true greatness lie elsewhere."

It will also require the now discredited "pre-emptive doctrine", implemented in the 2002 US National Security Strategy, to be assigned to the dustbin of history. For all of the public talk of going on the offensive and not allowing additional countries to go nuclear - President Bush drew a red line in May 2003, declaring specifically that the United States "will not tolerate nuclear weapons in North Korea" - this strategy has seen one country without weapons of mass destruction torn apart on the mistaken belief that it had them (Iraq), the one that was closest to becoming a nuclear weapon state go on to do so (North Korea), and the third increasingly being backed into a corner with growing pressure to follow suit (Iran).

In many of the issues that are challenging a globalised world, including nuclear proliferation, soft power is better alternative to projection of hard power (economic or military). In matters of desired regime change or change in a regime's behaviour, patient, long-term engagement is more likely to result in a satisfactory outcome.

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Diplomat says test was smaller than expected
Ewen MacAskill
The Guardian
(for personal use only)

A North Korean diplomat admitted yesterday that the country's nuclear test was smaller than expected, as doubts were expressed in western capitals about North Korea's claim to have successfully exploded a nuclear weapon.

While few argue Kim Jong-il's regime faked the whole event by packing a disused mine with conventional explosives, there is a growing view that while Pyongyang did carry out a nuclear weapons test it was only partially successful.

Quoting an unnamed North Korean diplomat at its embassy in Beijing, South Korea's Hankyoreh newspaper said the diplomat claimed the test was a success and "smaller in scale than expected".

"But the success in a small-scale [test] means a large-scale [test] is also possible," Associated Press quoted him as saying.

The US administration said yesterday it might take weeks to establish the truth and it might be impossible ever to be sure what happened. Tony Snow, the White House press secretary, said it was possible the test was something less than it appeared and the intelligence community was continuing to assess the explosion.

US monitoring stations and Japanese planes are sampling the air and water around the peninsula for traces of radiation. South Korean officials estimate it will take two weeks to get a clear idea. But if the North Koreans have been able to seal the mine, as claimed, there would be no radiation to detect.

The speculation was prompted by reports of a relatively modest test. Estimates of its power range from Russia's guess of 15 kilotons - the same as the Nagasaki bomb - to France's claim it may have been 500 tonnes, an unusually small amount.

"Politically it seems very odd to design a test weapon with a yield of just 1 kiloton, because people will have anticipated a larger device and think it just fizzed. That the yield wasn't higher suggests the test was not entirely successful," said James Acton at the London-based group Vertic.

Mark Fitzpatrick, a former US state department diplomat and now a senior fellow for non-proliferation at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, said yesterday: "It is my assumption it was a nuclear test."

Seismic charts from global monitoring stations may still hold clues. In particular, seismologists are checking for signs that the shockwaves emerged from a single point, evidence that a small nuclear device was used instead of the equivalent amount of conventional explosives, which would occupy a room 100 metres square.

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N Korea warns against US pressure
Financial Times
(for personal use only)

Whether North Korea holds a second nuclear test or not will depend on US policy toward the country, a senior official in Pyongyang said Wednesday.

The comments from Kim Yong-nam, who as president of the Presidium of the Supreme People�s Assembly ranks second to Kim Jong-il in the North Korean hierarchy, came after a brief scare that North Korea had held another test in the morning. United Nations Security Council members continued to confer on how to respond to the first test held Monday.

In an interview with Japanese news agency Kyodo, Kim Yong-nam said: ��The issue of future nuclear tests is linked to US policy toward our country. If the United States continues to take a hostile attitude and apply pressure on us in various forms, we will have no choice but to take physical steps to deal with that.�

An unidentified foreign ministry official told the North�s official Korean Central News Agency that �If the US continues to hassle us and add pressure, we will consider this as a declaration of war and subsequently take physical measures.�

In his interview, Kim reaffirmed Pyongyang�s position on boycotting multilateral talks on its nuclear program while US financial sanctions remain in effect. ��We cannot attend the six-party talks while various sanctions, including financial sanctions, are imposed on us,�� he said, adding that, ��Even as economic sanctions increase by day, our economy in general has entered a rising trend.�

NHK, a public broadcaster in Japan, initially reported the second North Korean test early in the morning, citing Japanese government sources as saying there had been an unusual tremor in North Korea at about 7.40am local time. Later NHK said the government was still gathering information and analysing reports of the tremor.

South Korea quickly dismissed the report. Yoon Tae-young, spokesman at the presidential office, said no seismic tremor has been detected.

In Washington, White House spokesman Tony Snow said: �This is a bum steer. The South Koreans haven�t detected any new seismic activity, nor have we. We are knocking this down.��

In Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a parliamentary panel that Japan did not have information indicating another test had been conducted. Taro Aso, the foreign minister, told the same panel that his government had information that North Korea might have conducted a second test but that it had not been confirmed.

Some continue to question the first test. �Given the weak intensity, it�s still very difficult to say if it was a blast of conventional explosives or a nuclear blast,�� French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said in a radio interview. �If it was nuclear, it failed, which doesn�t distract from its gravity.��

Despite the lack of confirmation of the second test, South Korean stocks weakened on Wednesday morning, with the benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index falling 0.38 per cent to 1,323.31 in the first 15 minutes of trading. The Korean won was trading at Won961.45 to the US dollar, down Won1.95 on Tuesday�s close

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun rebuffed Pyongyang�s justification for going nuclear. �North Korea says the reason it is pursuing nuclear (weapons) is for its security, but the security threat North Korea speaks of either does not exist in reality, or is very exaggerated,� Roh said.

The Japanese government is to hold an emergency security meeting Wednesday evening to decide on unilateral sanctions to respond to the first test, NHK reported. One measure under consideration would be a blanket ban on North Korean port calls in Japan.

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D.  Russia - DPRK

Russian deputy FM heads to N. Korea to discuss nuclear test
RIA Novosti
(for personal use only)

A Russian deputy foreign minister has set off for North Korea to discuss its recent nuclear test with the country's leadership, the ministry's official spokesman said Friday.

Alexander Alekseyev heads the Russian delegation at the six-nation talks on the North Korean nuclear problem.

North Korea claimed Monday it successfully conducted its first nuclear weapons test, drawing a chorus of international condemnation, even from traditional allies such as China.

Several countries, led by Japan and the United States, have called for tough UN sanctions against the impoverished Communist state.

However, Russia voiced its hopes the six-nation talks on the North Korean nuclear problem will be resumed as soon as possible, and announced that it delivered Wednesday 12,800 tons of grain to North Korea as part of the UN World Food Program.

"We will make every effort to prevent the situation from degenerating into the worst, confrontational scenario," Alexeyev said. "Notwithstanding the urgency of the situation, we call on all sides to exercise forbearance and calm."

President Vladimir Putin said earlier this week that diplomacy should be the only way for the international community to dissuade North Korea from further nuclear tests.

North Korea, South Korea, Russia, Japan, China and the United States have been engaged in talks on the nuclear issue since 2003, discussing aid and security guarantees for the secretive regime in exchange for a renunciation of its nuclear program.

The talks stalled last November over Pyongyang's demands that the U.S. lift sanctions imposed on it for its alleged involvement in counterfeiting and other illegal activities.

North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003, and in February 2005 announced it had acquired nuclear weapons. Negotiators have proposed aid and security guarantees for the Pyonyang regime in exchange for a renunciation of its nuclear program.

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E.  Cooperative Threat Reduction

Russia to discuss nuclear waste disposal projects with IAEA
RIA Novosti
(for personal use only)

Russia's federal nuclear power agency said Wednesday it would meet with officials from the UN nuclear watchdog later this week to discuss cooperation in scrapping Russian nuclear submarines, and building radioactive waste storage facilities.

The meeting with the International Atomic Energy Agency's 12-nation Contact Expert Group, to be held in Munich October 11-13, will feature reports on some of the nuclear waste management projects currently being implemented in Russia with the help of member countries, including Germany Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Great Britain and the United States.

These will include programs to dismantle decommissioned nuclear-powered submarines of Russia's northwestern fleet under the G8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction; to build a disposal facility to recycle solid radioactive waste from icebreakers operated by the Russian shipping company Atomflot; and to decontaminate the Gremikh military base, near the border with Norway.

The contact group was established under the auspices of the IAEA in 1996 to promote and coordinate international radioactive waste projects in Russia. Along with the UN nuclear watchdog, it also comprises the European Commission, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, and the International Science and Technology Center.

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F.  Nuclear Proliferation

U.S. Fears Export of Technology
Peter Spiegel and Greg Miller
Los Angeles Times
(for personal use only)

The sanctions demanded by U.S. officials in response to North Korea's announcement this week that it had tested a nuclear device would focus on closing pathways to proliferation of weapons technology.

But U.S. officials say any such effort would have to focus on the air and land routes through China and Russia that the government in Pyongyang has used in response to American monitoring on the high seas.

Since the 1990s, the Pentagon has used naval ships and aircraft to track and even intercept weapons shipments coming out of North Korea.

"Our folks pay very close attention to the vessels they are using and where they go; we stay on top of this one," Adm. William J. Fallon, the U.S. military's top officer in the Pacific, said last month. "One thing we can't do anything about is the air movement, because it goes over Chinese or Russian airspace. It's up to those countries to do things."

The new United Nations sanctions resolution proposed by the United States would direct all members "to undertake and facilitate inspection of cargo to or from" North Korea. In effect, it would require China to help close the gap in American efforts.

It's a challenge unlike any yet faced by U.S. diplomats and military officials. Until now, nations that have developed a nuclear capability have not viewed their new weapons as potential export commodities, as many believe Pyongyang does.

U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that they were still collecting data on Monday's declared blast, and knew little about the device involved. One military official said the Pentagon was awaiting data from its lone WC-135 "sniffer" aircraft, which was stationed at Kadena Air Base in Japan at the time of the North Korean test.

At the U.N., Chinese and Russian diplomats resisted tougher proposals by the Americans and Japanese, and U.S. Ambassador John R. Bolton dismissed a North Korean threat to launch a nuclear-tipped missile if Washington refused direct talks. Diplomats hope for a vote on a response to North Korea by Friday.

Past international efforts to block exports and enforce embargoes have had limited and short-lived success. But North Korea's use of Chinese routes for conventional weapons exports raises the concern that it may attempt to use similar means to transship nuclear technologies.

"In the early days, it is absolutely true that the North Koreans sent both missiles and missile fuel and components to the Iranians and the Syrians by sea," said David Kay, a former U.N. weapons inspector who specialized in nuclear proliferation issues. "But they now know that's not a good way to do it, so most of it goes overland via China."

Kay said that, from China, the weaponry probably is flown to places such as Iran and Syria. North Korea also has sold missile technology to Yemen and Pakistan.

The Bush administration has complained repeatedly that Beijing has not lived up to agreements to stop North Korea's shipments of weapons technologies. In testimony last month before a U.S. government commission, State Department officials said they "remain deeply concerned" over China's lack of commitment to its nonproliferation promises.

Thus far, however, U.S. proliferation concerns have centered on Pyongyang's trade in parts for long- and medium-range missiles. By some estimates, North Korea is the world's dominant exporter of ballistic missiles. An evaluation by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies estimated that missile sales had earned the North Korean government hundreds of millions of dollars, making it a significant source for hard currency.

But deliveries of missile components have begun to shrink in recent years as North Korea's traditional customers, particularly Iran, have developed their own capabilities. Experts fear that Pyongyang will view nuclear technology, and nuclear material such as plutonium, as a replacement revenue source.

"The thing that worries most people is actually the export of fissile material itself," Kay said.

"I don't think people are worried at this stage about North Korea sending weapons to Iranians or terrorists," Kay added, "although there is virtually nothing on the face of the Earth that the North Koreans have gotten their hands on that they haven't been willing to sell."

China has let North Korea ship missile parts through its territory and airspace and has exported missile systems to rogue governments itself. But U.S. officials consider Beijing less likely to tolerate North Korean nuclear shipments because such exports could undermine China's status as the only nuclear power in East Asia.

"North Korea is China's neighbor, so they, in a sense, have a more proximate cause for worry than even the United States," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

Nonetheless, enforcing any tightened counter-proliferation regime, even with Chinese cooperation, would be challenging, U.S. officials and arms experts said. The Pentagon can track ships, but it is nearly impossible to determine precise cargoes.

"The ability to recognize every single thing that's on every ship is a challenge," Adm. Fallon said.

The administration's proposed U.N. resolution would essentially establish an international agreement to allow the boarding of ships suspected of carrying prohibited items to or from North Korea.

Pentagon officials, however, said that any large-scale effort would be many times more complicated than tracking the vessels, and would require the participation of other countries. As a result, tactical planning has not begun for a U.S. blockade of North Korea, a Defense Department official said.

"The presumption is this would have to be an international effort," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. "You can't willy-nilly stop every ship; you need to search methodically."

Similarly, China's ability to monitor North Korean deliveries across its border may be limited. Beijing polices the border, but experts say the frontier remains somewhat porous and that China may not be employing the most modern sensors and other detection equipment.

"It's like moving drugs into the United States from Mexico," Kay said. "The Chinese could do a far better technical job than they've been doing. Radiation detectors along the Yalu River" � between North Korea and China � "would be a good thing, but they can be beaten."

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G.  Nonproliferation Diplomacy

Nuclear treaty must be updated or fall obsolete: experts
Pascal Mallet
Agence France-Presse
(for personal use only)

The nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has been ridiculed by North Korea and possibly flouted by Iran and risks becoming obsolete if it is not urgently revised, experts warned.

"North Korea's nuclear test has dealt it a heavy blow. The NPT is in agony," said Georges Le Guelte, head of research at the Institute of Strategic and International Relations (IRIS) in Paris.

On Wednesday, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana told EU lawmakers that he shared concerns about "the failure, in the last analysis, of the non-proliferation treaty."

He said the text, concluded in 1968 and which entered into force two years later, "has gone through five revisions already and none of the five revisions has been able to face the difficulties and the holes that it has."

"This regime should be adapted to the realities of today and not the realities of yesterday," he said, following North Korea's claim Monday that it had tested a nuclear weapon, sparking worldwide outrage.

Signed by 189 countries -- North Korea pulled out in 2003 -- the treaty is the only multilateral agreement designed to stop atomic weapons from spreading, and it also offers a framework for the development of civilian technology.

The signatories acknowledged that the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain had the bomb but the five powers also made a commitment in it to disarm at some undetermined time in the future.

India, Pakistan and Israel did not sign and are now nuclear powers, although the latter refuses to confirm that it has such weapons.

The NPT appears unable to contain the nuclear ambitions of Pyongyang and those suspected in Tehran, although the Islamic republic denies the allegations, yet some blame the nuclear powers themselves for the problem.

"You can't say that the treaty cannot be applied, only that the major powers who are its guarantors have not done a lot to ensure that it is respected," said Le Guelte.

According to Dominique David, executive director of the French Institute for International Relations (IFRI), the NPT must, above all, be reinforced.

"If it turns out that the test by North Korea really was a nuclear one, it would mean that a country that had committed itself in writing not to build a bomb would have definitively violated the NPT," he said.

He said that Pyongyang's duplicity is self-evident but hard to sanction.

"The problem is that there is no way of sanctioning a country suspected of violating the treaty, when that country pulls out of it at the last minute, just before it acquires a nuclear weapon," he said.

Shannon Kile, senior researcher at the Stockholm-based peace research institute SIPRI, proposed that the treaty be beefed up to deal with such cases.

"In case a country withdraws, it has to give up all its nuclear infrastructures that it has acquired under the NPT," for example, he said.

He pointed out that the document has two main weaknesses.

"The nuclear technology is inherently dual use: the infrastructure for making the fuel for the nuclear plants is the same for nuclear weapons -- that's the central dilemma since the NPT's founding," he said.

"The other weakness is how can you stop a state that is determined to cheat. North Korea was clearly cheating," he went on.

"In the future, the five nuclear powers have to make serious commitments towards disarmament," he warned. "Double standards are not possible anymore."

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H.  India

Helsinki prefers silence on nuclear deal
Siddharth Varadarajan
The Hindu
(for personal use only)

Despite a series of high-level bilateral meetings culminating in Thursday's summit between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Finnish counterpart Matti Vanhanen, Finland � which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union � continues to withhold public support from the U.S.-India agreement on civil nuclear cooperation.

But Indian officials familiar with what transpired at the summit-level dialogue cautioned against reading too much into Helsinki's official silence on the matter.

They said the Finnish side showed a much greater understanding of the initiative but did not want to take an open position yet since it represented the whole of the EU and there was no Europe-wide position on the deal as yet.

At a joint press conference here, Mr. Vanhanen dodged repeated questions whether his Government was in favour of the Nuclear Suppliers Group making an exception for India in its otherwise rigid rules prohibiting nuclear sales to countries that do not have full-scope safeguards.

Mr. Vanhanen first took refuge in the absence of a European consensus on the issue, and, when pressed to discuss his country's own national position, declined to do so.

"I am not going to give our individual position," he said. However, he did express the hope "that India can take part in all the international agreements we have in the field of nuclear energy."

Key investor

Finland, which is emerging as an important investor in India, is also the first European country in 15 years to begin building a new nuclear reactor. When completed by Areva and Siemens in 2009, the Olkiluoto 3 pressurised water reactor will produce 1600 MW of electricity.

The lack of a European consensus and Finland's own ambivalence reflect the dilemma many smaller NSG members face in trying to reconcile their traditional stand against nuclear weapons with the reality of India's rising strategic profile and need for `climate-friendly' energy.

Last month, at the opening ceremony of the 17th World Congress of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War in Helsinki, Finland's Foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja said the task of upholding the NPT regime "is not made any easier by the U.S.-India nuclear cooperation agreement, which leads to granting India, a country outside of the NPT, rights that are denied from countries subscribing to the Treaty."

Same views

On other issues, however, the two principals seemed to be on the same page. Dr. Singh deplored North Korea's nuclear test and urged quick resumption of the six-party talks, as did his Finnish host, who added that Pyongyang should "stop and give up" its nuclear weapons programme. And both men stressed the importance of high-technology related investment between Finland and India.


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US gives assurances on Indian nuclear deal
Agence France-Presse
(for personal use only)

A top US official has given assurances that the United States wants to go ahead with a key civilian nuclear deal with India, easing fears for the agreement raised by North Korea's atomic test.

US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns said in an interview broadcast Thursday that Washington was "determined" to implement the deal.

"We are determined to fulfil the commitments we made to the Indian government," Burns told NDTV.

Burns said he had been in touch with Indian officials to "assure that the US wants to go forward on all of the definite initiatives that President (George) Bush and Prime Minister (Manmohan) Singh talked in March."

The accord -- reached during Bush's March visit -- aims to give New Delhi access to previously forbidden nuclear technology to generate electricity to fuel its rapid economic growth.

Under the terms of the deal, India -- which conducted nuclear tests in 1974 and 1998 and has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) -- will separate its civilian and military plants and put the former under international safeguards.

Washington for its part agreed to amend its 1954 Atomic Energy Act to allow nuclear commerce and trade in technology with a non-NPT signatory.

The US Congress gave its thumbs-up to the deal in July but a vote has been delayed in the Republican-controlled Senate that will shortly hold polls to elect new members.

North Korea's announcement earlier this week that it had conducted a nuclear test had however given rise to doubts about whether US lawmakers opposed to the deal would allow it to go through.

Burns however said Congressmen and Senators were aware of the "world of difference between India and North Korea."

"India is a peaceful, democratic, law-abiding leader of the international community. North Korea is the reverse of all that," he told NDTV.

"There is great trust that the commitments the Indian government has made to us will be fulfilled and we are very confident that the India deal will be approved by a substantial margin, at least we hope it will.

"We have been encouraged by the great number of senators, Democrats and Republicans, who have come out to support the agreement," Burns added.

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