“Foreign ministers from six major powers trying to curb Iran's nuclear power will meet with the European Union's top negotiator next week to discuss prospects and expectations for upcoming talks with Iranian officials, Britain's U.N. Ambassador said Wednesday.
The ministerial meeting is expected to take place on Sept. 23, on the sidelines of the annual high-level meeting of the U.N. General Assembly, Ambassador John Sawers said.
"It's an important opportunity for the six ministers and (EU foreign policy chief Javier) Solana to have an exchange about how these discussions and dialogue with Iran should be taken forward, what the perspective is, what we're looking for and what a reasonable degree of progress to expect would be," Sawers said.
The U.S., Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany have tried unsuccessfully for several years to rein in Iran's nuclear program.
The talks with Iran on Oct. 1, at the lower level of senior diplomats, would be the first since a 2008 session in Geneva foundered over Iran's refusal to discuss nuclear enrichment.
The U.S., Iran and European Union have expressed hope the upcoming talks could lead to substantive negotiations _ despite Iranian warnings it would not even discuss meeting U.N. Security Council demands that it freeze uranium enrichment.
Halting the spread of nuclear weapons and promoting disarmament are the topic of another major event on the sidelines of the General Assembly _ a high-level meeting of the Security Council on Sept. 24 to be chaired by U.S. President Barack Obama.
The United States has stressed that it wants a broad discussion of nonproliferation and disarmament issues and does not want to focus on any country.
But the draft resolution which the U.S. hopes will be adopted at the end of the council meeting reaffirms previous Security Council resolutions that imposed sanctions on Iran and North Korea for their nuclear activities, even though it includes no names.
Another provision apparently aimed at Iran and North Korea "deplores" the current major challenges to nuclear nonproliferation that the council has determined to be threats to international peace and security. It "demands that the parties concerned comply fully with their obligations under the relevant Security Council resolutions."
Obama pledged in an April 5 speech in the Czech Republic to eventually eliminate nuclear weapons, and the draft welcomes U.S.-Russia negotiations to reduce their nuclear arsenals.
It calls on all countries to refrain from conducting nuclear tests and join the test ban treaty and urges speedy negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. And it calls for improved access to peaceful uses of nuclear energy and stepped up efforts to ensure that nuclear materials and technology can't fall into the hands of terrorists.
The draft also calls for strengthening the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty _ a subject that will dominate next spring's U.N. conference to review the treaty. It requires signatory nations not to pursue nuclear weapons in exchange for a commitment by the five nuclear powers to move toward nuclear disarmament and guarantees non-nuclear states access to peaceful nuclear technology to produce nuclear power.
A "Concept Paper" circulated to council members by the U.S. Mission to the United Nations stresses the broad elements in the draft resolution, saying they "are part of a comprehensive approach to reducing global nuclear dangers and risks posed by terrorist acquisition of nuclear weapons or materials."
"The threats are urgent and real, and the role of the Security Council in addressing these dangers is unique and indispensable," it says. "The summit meeting will help bring renewed international attention and determination to addressing these issues."
The document makes no mention or Iran or North Korea.
But Sawers, the British ambassador, said they must be part of the council's debate on Sept. 24.
"We're quite clear that in order to strengthen the Nonproliferation Treaty and the whole nonproliferation regime, effective action is needed to deal with the concerns on both Iran and North Korea," Sawers told a briefing for a group of reporters.
"We believe that the challenges posed by Iran and North Korea are very substantial and need to be addressed in this meeting," he said. "We will be explicit in that. I'm sure the prime minister (Britain's Gordon Brown) will be explicit in that in his statement to the council."
Sawers said he expected other leaders to raise concerns about the two countries as well. But he stressed that "no one is seeking to use this resolution to advance specific measures being taken on Iran and North Korea," noting that the draft includes no new sanctions.
Available at: http://www.etaiwannews.com/etn/news_content.php?id=1059379&lang=eng_news
2. IAEA's Poor Nations Split on Iran's Attack Ban Bid
(for personal use only)
“An Iranian attempt to ban attacks on nuclear sites suffered a setback on Wednesday when fellow developing nations declined as a bloc to endorse a draft resolution, diplomats said.
Israel has not ruled out military action against Iranian nuclear facilities, which Tehran says are part of a civilian energy program but which the West fears are developing atomic weapons.
An Iranian draft resolution, obtained by Reuters, declares that any attack on a nuclear plant in operation or being built to be a violation of international law.
It urges states to aid any attacked country and others hit by radioactive fallout and asks the International Atomic Energy Agency to pursue a legally binding ban on attacks or even threats of attacks on nuclear facilities.
The Islamic Republic had been due to submit the resolution at the U.N. nuclear watchdog's 150-nation general assembly later this week, with a simple majority required for passage.
But a senior diplomat in the Non-Aligned Movement of 118 developing nations, to which Iran belongs, said it was possible Tehran would withdraw the measure after failing to win a NAM endorsement as a bloc in a meeting outside the assembly.
Iran diplomats could not immediately be reached for comment.
Diplomats said Chile and Singapore blocked a NAM consensus in favor of Iran's measure, leaving its member nations to vote individually as they pleased, which raised uncertainty whether the measure would pass given opposition among developed nations.
Singapore and Chile insisted any such ban be limited to peaceful nuclear facilities verified to be peaceful in nature.
Israel and Western IAEA member states regarded Iran's move as a maneuver to steer the spotlight away from its disputed nuclear activities, rather than real concern about safety and security of nuclear sites.
Iran says it is enriching uranium only for electricity and but has refused to lift restrictions on IAEA inspections or open up to a U.N. watchdog probe into allegations of covert atomic bomb research.
However, Iran has just agreed to October 1 talks with world powers after long dodging feelers for negotiations.
While NAM as a group emphasizes Iran's right under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to develop a civilian atomic program, some members have private misgivings about Iran's behavior and believe it must open up to the IAEA to defuse mistrust.
IAEA member states have passed several non-binding resolutions, the latest in 1990 and also proposed by Iran, which ban "any armed attack on and threat against nuclear facilities."
But Iran says tougher, legally binding action was now needed because Israel had broken such bans in the past.
In 1981, an Israeli air strike destroyed Iraq's only nuclear reactor. Two years ago, Israel bombed a site in Syria that U.S. intelligence officials said was a North Korean-designed nuclear reactor under construction. Syria denies this.
NAM diplomats said Iran's proposal was well-intentioned in principle but it would have been more broadly palatable if, say, Egypt or a Western country, had sponsored it.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSTRE58F41220090916
“The U.S. intelligence community is reporting to the White House that Iran has not restarted its nuclear-weapons development program, two counterproliferation officials tell NEWSWEEK. U.S. agencies had previously said that Tehran halted the program in 2003.
The officials, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information, said that U.S. intelligence agencies have informed policymakers at the White House and other agencies that the status of Iranian work on development and production of a nuclear bomb has not changed since the formal National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran's "Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities" in November 2007. Public portions of that report stated that U.S. intelligence agencies had "high confidence" that, as of early 2003, Iranian military units were pursuing development of a nuclear bomb, but that in the fall of that year Iran "halted its nuclear weapons program." The document said that while U.S. agencies believed the Iranian government "at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons," U.S. intelligence as of mid-2007 still had "moderate confidence" that it had not restarted weapons-development efforts.
One of the two officials said that the Obama administration has now worked out a system in which intelligence agencies provide top policymakers, including the president, with regular updates on intelligence judgments like the conclusions in the 2007 Iran NIE. According to the two officials, the latest update to policymakers has been that as of now—two years after the period covered by the 2007 NIE—U.S. intelligence agencies still believe Iran has not resumed nuclear-weapons development work. "That's the conclusion, but it's one that—like every other—is constantly checked and reassessed, both to take account of new information and to test old assumptions," one of the officials told NEWSWEEK. It is not clear whether U.S. agencies' confidence in this judgment has grown at all since the 2007 statement.
This latest U.S. intelligence-community assessment is potentially controversial for several reasons, not the least of which is that it is at odds with more alarming assessments propounded by key U.S. allies, most notably Israel. Officials of Israel's conservative-led government have been delivering increasingly dire assessments of Iran’s nuclear progress and have leaked shrill threats about a possible Israeli military attack on Iranian nuclear facilities.
Former U.N. weapons inspector David Albright, an atomic-weapons expert who follows Iranian nuclear developments closely, said the U.S. government's current judgments will continue to provoke contention and debate. "People are looking at the same information and reaching different judgments," he said. "Given all the developments in Iran, these assessments are hard to believe with any certainty. Nobody's been able to bring total proof either way."
Israel is not the only American ally that has circulated assessments that contradict the U.S. intelligence conclusion that Iran is not currently pursuing nuclear-bomb development. According to German court documents released earlier this year, Germany's foreign intelligence service, known as the BND, reported in 2008 that “development work on nuclear weapons can be observed in Iran even after 2003."
A European counterproliferation official, who also requested anonymity, said that assessments like the one provided by the BND relied significantly on information collected by German and other intelligence agencies about efforts by suspected Iranian agents and front companies to purchase hardware and technology from Western firms that can be used to design or build nuclear weapons. Such equipment and know-how often has "dual uses"—both peaceful and military applications. But some Iranian purchases have appeared highly suspect. German authorities have been pursuing criminal charges against a German-Iranian businessman who allegedly tried to purchase for Tehran ultrahigh-speed cameras and radiation sensors that are built to withstand extreme heat—equipment that experts believe would be quite useful for nuclear-weapons development, though it could also be used for more benign purposes. The Institute for Science and International Security, run by Albright, recently published a paper on the German investigation.
When it first was made public, the November 2007 NIE was criticized by American and Israeli hardliners for playing up conclusions about Iran's having stopped work on nuclear-weapons development while playing down Iranian advances in its efforts to produce highly enriched uranium, which is the most critical, but difficult to manufacture, element of a primitive nuclear bomb. The NIE said that even though Iran had halted its nuclear-weapons program, it had made "significant progress" during 2007 in installing centrifuges used in uranium enrichment, though U.S. analysts believed that, as a result of technical problems with these machines, Iran probably could not produce enough highly enriched uranium for a bomb before 2010 at the earliest. The Iranians have consistently claimed that they are enriching uranium only for civilian purposes. Low-enriched uranium, which is all that Iran has made so far, is a common fuel for civilian power plants.
U.S. and European counterproliferation experts believe that Iran's centrifuge program has already produced enough low-enriched uranium, an essential precursor to the production of bomb-grade material, to provide feedstock to produce enough highly enriched uranium to make a bomb. However, that is an arduous and technically complicated process. Many U.S. and European experts say that Iran is still experiencing technical problems with centrifuges it would use to produce bomb-grade uranium, which could delay any Iranian bomb program for years.
An Obama administration official says that top policymakers are being told that there is no significant disagreement among U.S. intelligence agencies and experts about the latest assessments regarding Iran's nuclear effort. That may encourage the White House's efforts to continue to try to engage Iran in diplomatic dialogue, including discussion of Iran's nuclear ambitions. A spokesperson for National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair's office, which is responsible for producing NIEs and updates on Iranian nukes, had no comment.
1. China's Envoy Meets North Korea's Nuclear Strategist
The China Post
(for personal use only)
“China's presidential envoy met with North Korea's top nuclear strategist amid intensifying international efforts to persuade Pyongyang to return to talks on its atomic weapons programs.
Dai Bingguo, special envoy of Chinese President Hu Jintao, had a "candid and in-depth exchange of views" on bilateral, regional and international issues with the North's First Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok Ju on Wednesday in Pyongyang, North Korean state media said.
Kang is North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's chief foreign policy brain and has been the main strategist for dealing with the standoff over its nuclear programs for more than a decade. The Chinese delegation also included Beijing's chief nuclear negotiator, Wu Dawei.
The North's Korean Central News Agency said in a brief dispatch that the talks went "in a comradely atmosphere" but did not give further details on their discussions. Still, it is widely believed the nuclear row was a key topic among the "international matters" they discussed in Pyongyang.
China's Foreign Ministry also said in a brief statement that the two sides "held deep discussions on regional and global issues of common interest." It did not elaborate.
Seoul's Yonhap news agency said that Dai, who oversees foreign policy for China, is expected meet with Kim Jong Il.
Wednesday's meeting came as the U.S. is considering Pyongyang's long-held desire for direct talks amid the North's push to reach out to Washington and other negotiating partners following months of ratcheting up tensions with nuclear and missile tests.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported Wednesday that the U.S. special envoy on North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, could visit Pyongyang as early as late October for bilateral talks. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters later in the day that the U.S. is considering the North's invitation, but no decisions have been made.
North Korea has long sought one-on-one contact with Washington, but the U.S. says any such talks would have to be within the context of efforts to resume six-nation disarmament negotiations involving China, Japan, the two Koreas, Russia and the U.S.
Pyongyang withdrew from those negotiations in April to protest international criticism of a rocket launch that other nations suspected was a test of long-range missile technology. It then conducted a nuclear test in May, drawing tough new U.N. sanctions on its weapons exports and financial dealings.
But it has recently tried to reach out to Seoul and Washington. It freed detained American and South Korean citizens, pledged to resume suspended joint projects with South Korea, and also proposed talks with the U.S.
South Korea has been skeptical about the North's conciliatory gestures.
President Lee Myung-bak said Tuesday the North is taking a softer line because it feels the pain of U.N. sanctions. Lee also said that Pyongyang has shown no sign of giving up its nuclear weapons.
South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan said Thursday that the U.S. is expected to decide soon on direct talks with the North. But he said that even if dialogue resumes, U.N. sanctions on Pyongyang should continue to be enforced unless the North takes "visible" steps to disarm.
Available at: http://www.chinapost.com.tw/asia/korea/2009/09/17/225084/Chinas-envoy.htm
2. South Korea Says North Korea Unwilling to Give Up Nukes
(for personal use only)
“South Korea's president said Tuesday that North Korea is showing no sign of giving up nuclear weapons, although the communist regime has made recent conciliatory gestures because U.N. sanctions against it are working.
In a joint interview with South Korea's Yonhap news agency and Japan's Kyodo news agency, conservative President Lee Myung-bak also accused the North of trying to win economic aid while holding on to atomic weapons.
He urged other members of the stalled six-nation talks with North Korea to "redouble efforts" to rid the North of nuclear weapons.
Lee's remarks came as the United States is preparing to accept North Korea's offer to hold direct talks, and they underline his deep skepticism about a neighbor that is abruptly taking a softer line following nuclear and missile tests just a few months ago.
"It appears to be true that North Korea is fairly embarrassed because of greater than expected real effects" of U.N. sanctions, Lee said, according to a published Yonhap transcript. Lee's office confirmed its contents.
"North Korea is using some conciliatory strategy toward the United States, South Korea and Japan in order to get out of this crisis, but for now, North Korea is not showing any sincerity or sign that it will give up nuclear weapons," he said.
North Korea pulled out of talks with the U.S., South Korea, China, Russia and Japan in April, protesting international criticism of its launch of a rocket that other nations suspected was a test of long-range missile technology.
In May, it conducted a nuclear test that drew tough new U.N. sanctions on the North's weapons exports and financial dealings. The sanctions also allow inspections of suspect North Korean cargo in ports and on the high seas.
Amid the sanctions, the North has been taking conciliatory gestures, freeing detained American and South Korean citizens and pledging to resume suspended joint projects and family reunions with South Korea.
The North also has invited Washington's special envoy on North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, to visit Pyongyang for bilateral negotiations that would be the countries' first nuclear talks since President Barack Obama took office.
Over the weekend, the State Department said the U.S. is preparing to accept the offer, but said the talks will be part of efforts to resume the six-nation negotiations.
South Korea has said it does not oppose the direct talks.
Lee said the North's goal with the conciliatory gestures appears to be to "receive economic cooperation while trying to buy time to make it a fait accompli" for it to possess nuclear weapons.
On relations with Japan, Lee said he expects the sensitive ties will improve further with Tokyo's incoming government of Yukio Hatoyama, who is expected to be elected as Japan's next prime minister in a vote in parliament's lower house Wednesday.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iURO8fOyWVOA0ytFlaAGuC9F7R9wD9ANLO980
“India is closely monitoring a draft Security Council resolution moved by the US, asking non-NPT countries to sign the treaty. The draft resolution, which has been circulated by the US, asks signatories to cooperate to rid the world of nuclear weapons and asks countries out of the loop to sign the treaty. Though the resolution is aimed at North Korea and Iran, India is likely to feel some heat.
Sources, however, pointed out that the draft that has been circulated is a work in progress and is likely to undergo changes before it is put to the vote. “We don’t know the final outcome,” sources said. On September 24, US president Barack Obama is set to chair that special meeting of UNSC on nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament where the resolution is expected to be put to the vote.
The draft resolution, which was circulated, asks signatories to “to comply fully with all their obligations under the treaty” and for others to become signatories. It further “calls upon all states that are not parties to the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons to join the treaty so as to achieve its universality at an early date, and in any case to adhere to its terms”.
It also urges all countries “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to nuclear arms reduction and disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control”.
The US has also decided to include a reference to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) asking all countries to “refrain from conducting a nuclear test explosion and to join the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, thereby bringing the treaty into force”.
New Delhi is not overly bothered about the CTBT which will only become an issue after the US and also China ratify the treaty. On the NPT, India’s position has been unwavering, saying that it will not sign a discriminatory treaty. Apart from India, Israel and Pakistan have also refused to sign the NPT. Sources pointed out that India has a clear and unambiguous position on the NPT and CTBT and one that has remained the same from the time the treaties came into being.
This is not the first time the UNSC will be putting such a resolution to the vote. After the nuclear tests in 1998, the UNSC voted and passed resolution 1172 asking India and Pakistan to sign the NPT as well as the CTBT.
Available at: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/India-studying-UNSCs-draft-NPT-resolution/articleshow/5020570.cms
“Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's plans for nuclear disarmament have taken a step forward with a bipartisan parliamentary committee calling for "concrete, demonstrable action" on the nuclear threat.
Mr Rudd has formed a regional disarmament commission co-chaired by former foreign minister Gareth Evans and a former Japanese foreign minister Yoriko Kawaguchi.
The committee has made 22 recommendations, chief amongst them, a call for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty to be brought into force and negotiations to start on a new verifiable Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty.
Treaties Committee chairman Kelvin Thomson said the road to nuclear strife was paved with defensive intentions.
He said the US developed nuclear weapons during WWII after it was attacked by Japan, while Russia developed nuclear weapons during the Cold War to defend against the US.
China developed nuclear weapons to defend against both.
"Because China had nuclear weapons, India felt threatened and developed nuclear weapons. Because India developed nuclear weapons, Pakistan felt threatened and developed nuclear weapons," he said.
"It is important to understand that the friction between nuclear haves and nuclear have nots is alive and well.
"The nuclear have nots have stressed disarmament, that is, obliging the nuclear armed countries to get rid of their bombs.
"The nuclear have nots are frustrated by the lack of progress on disarmament. Too often this divergence of approach has led to international stalemate. Clearly we need to have action on both fronts, disarmament and non-proliferation.
The Australian Conservation Foundation gave the committee a pass, but said it had concerns.
"Australia can never really lead on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament while spreading nuclear risks in trying to become the worlds largest uranium supplier," foundation spokesman David Noonan said in a statement.
Available at: http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/nuclear-disarmament-push-gains-pace-20090917-ftcn.html
2. Will the Stars Align in New York for Test Ban Advocates? A Preview of the Sixth CTBT Article XIV Conference
Center for Nonproliferation Studies
(for personal use only)
“In September 2009 at the United Nations headquarters in New York, the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) will convene the sixth Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (Article XIV Conference). The conference will be attended by representatives from over 100 states and will commence on 24 September, thirteen years to the day since U.S. President Bill Clinton became the first world leader to sign the CTBT. The Article XIV Conference will take place amidst a confluence of events that CTBT proponents have sought after for nearly a decade. After eight years of intransigence from the previous U.S. administration on the Treaty, unyielding persistence from CTBT supporters from all walks of political and civil life seems to have paid some dividends. Not only has President Obama voiced his support for the Treaty in broad measure, but his administration has outlined an ambitious nonproliferation and disarmament agenda with "immediately and aggressively" pursuing U.S. ratification, and working with the international community to achieve the Treaty's entry into force, comprising one of the most vital components of this plan of action. For the first time in almost ten years, there will be one major piece of the puzzle that has been missing at Article XIV Conferences—a U.S. delegation committed to the CTBT. Moreover, the White House has announced that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will lead the U.S. delegation and deliver the U.S. national statement during the conference, another indication of the importance that the Obama administration has assigned to the Treaty.
Words do matter, yet words alone will not pave the way for U.S. ratification, or achieving the Treaty's entry into force. With regard to securing the two-thirds majority necessary for approving the Treaty's ratification in the U.S. Senate, political factors not related to nuclear nonproliferation or national security may stymie the administration's efforts. Internationally, there are eight countries in addition to the United States that must ratify the CTBT in order to achieve its entry into force, three of which have not yet signed the Treaty. Nonetheless, the Article XIV Conference, which will convene concurrently with a UN Security Council summit addressing nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament to be chaired by President Obama, will provide the international community with an opportunity to enumerate steps toward achieving what has remained so elusive over the past half century—a comprehensive global ban on explosive nuclear testing.
The CTBT is a ban on all nuclear test explosions in all environments. Upon the Treaty's entry into force, the CTBTO verification regime will monitor the globe for evidence of a nuclear explosion. The Treaty's verification mechanism consists of a three-tiered regime: (1) a global network of monitoring facilities; (2) the International Data Centre, where data from the monitoring system is analyzed then distributed to member states; and (3) provisions for intrusive on-site inspections in the event of a suspected violation of the Treaty.
The CTBT is one of the most widely subscribed to treaties in history, now boasting 181 signatories and 149 ratifications. The UN General Assembly First Committee passed a resolution in 2008 supporting the CTBT with 168 states voting in favor, three abstaining, and only one state voting against—the United States. However, in order for the CTBT to enter into force all 44 Annex 2 states must sign and ratify the Treaty. "Annex 2 states" refers to a list of countries, mentioned specifically in the Treaty, who possessed nuclear reactors in 1996 (when the Treaty was open for signature) and participated in CTBT negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament. Thirty-five Annex 2 states have already ratified the Treaty. Of the nine Annex 2 states who have not yet ratified, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, and the United States are signatories to the Treaty. Three Annex 2 states—the DPRK, India, and Pakistan have not yet signed the Treaty.
The U.S. Policy Reversal on the CTBT
In a clear departure from the policies of the previous administration, President Obama boldly declared in an April 2009 speech in Prague that he would seek the peace and security of a world free of nuclear weapons. President Obama noted in this speech that as the only state to use nuclear weapons in conflict, the United States has a moral responsibility to act. Obama then outlined the steps his administration would take to begin the process. These steps include reducing the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. national security strategy; negotiating a START follow-on treaty with the Russians before the end of the year; seeking a treaty that verifiably ends the production of fissile materials intended for use in state nuclear weapons; and pursuing U.S. ratification of the CTBT. Vice President Joe Biden was subsequently named to help lead the administration's nonproliferation efforts, including Senate approval of the Treaty's ratification. Vice President Biden spent 36 years in the U.S. Senate, where he was ranking minority leader, and later chair, of the Foreign Relations Committee. As a leader in this committee, Biden led the Clinton administration's efforts to ratify the CTBT in 1999. The decision to task Biden with the responsibility of shepherding the administration's nonproliferation and disarmament agenda demonstrates Obama's commitment to winning Senate approval of the CTBT.
In addition to the selection of Biden to lead the administration's efforts for CTBT ratification, the State Department is relying on newly appointed Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, Ellen Tauscher, and Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Verification, Compliance, and Implementation, Rose Gottemoeller, to reinforce Obama administration's new strategy in the United States and abroad. Tauscher, handpicked by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to help lead in the administration's efforts in arms control and nonproliferation, chaired the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces. She also introduced a resolution (H.Res.882) expressing the view from the House of Representatives that the U.S. Senate "should initiate a bipartisan process to give its advice and consent to ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty." During the Munich Security Conference in June 2009, where approximately 300 participants, including a dozen heads of state from more than 50 countries, gathered to usher in a new era of international relations, Tauscher stated that, "the United States should immediately ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty." Gottemoeller, prior to her recent appointment at the State Department, was with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where she focused on U.S.-Russian relations and nuclear security and stability. Prior to joining Carnegie, she served in various nonproliferation and national security posts at the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Security Council.
The ISS and On-Site Inspection Exercise in Kazakhstan
Progress on the establishment of the International Monitoring System (IMS), which consists of 337 monitoring facilities strategically located around the globe, is sure to receive substantial attention throughout the up-coming conference. The IMS utilizes four monitoring technologies to scan the earth for evidence of a nuclear explosion—seismological, infrasound, hydroacoustic, and radionuclide. The CTBT stipulates that its verification regime shall be capable of meeting the verification requirements of the Treaty at its entry into force. To date, 248 IMS stations—nearly 75 percent of planned facilities—have been certified as meeting the rigorous CTBTO specifications. On 10 June 2009, the International Scientific Studies (ISS) Conference in Vienna, Austria, marked the conclusion of a yearlong project designed to assess the capability and readiness of the CTBTO verification regime and promote increased interaction between the global scientific community and the CTBTO. Approximately 600 participants from roughly 100 countries convened in Vienna in order to share ideas and data, as well as discuss various research findings. One of the many themes covered at the Conference was advancements made in verification technologies, such as the utilization of data mining and data fusion as a means to accelerate current data processing capabilities while improving accuracy and identifying smaller scale events.
Another event that participants at the Article XIV Conference will likely highlight is the successful conclusion of the Integrated Field Exercise 2008, which was conducted at the former Soviet nuclear test site in Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan. The objective of the exercise was to evaluate procedures under development for conducting on-site inspections in the case of a suspected nuclear event. The simulation was conducted in a very difficult environment, and provided the CTBTO with many valuable lessons that will assist the organization in the continued development of on-site inspection protocols. Upon entry into force of the Treaty, the CTBTO could be called on to launch an on-site inspection in any region of the world on very short notice. As evinced by the prompt detection of both nuclear tests conducted on the Korean peninsula, the International Data Centre demonstrated its capacity to quickly and accurately analyze IMS monitoring data. Therefore, the development of credible on-site inspections will constitute the final layer of the Treaty's verification regime, and provide a powerful deterrent to would be CTBT violators.
Positive Signals and Lingering Concerns
In recent months, several events have illustrated the increasing saliency of the CTBT and the significance that the international community has attached to achieving its entry into force. During the 15th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit held from 11 to 16 July 2009 in Sharm El Sheik, Egypt, NAM Heads of State and Government emphasized the importance of achieving universal adherence to the CTBT and stressed the positive role that the Treaty plays in making progress toward nuclear disarmament. Similarly, the G8 adopted a statement on nonproliferation at its recent summit in L'Aquilia, Italy, welcoming President Obama's announcement that he would seek U.S. CTBT ratification and committing to intensify efforts to achieve the Treaty's entry into force. In the statement, the CTBT was described as a principal instrument of the "international security architecture and a key measure of non-proliferation and disarmament." The United States is the only member of the G-8 that is not a State Party to the CTBT. The third session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2010 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty also served to highlight the value of the CTBT as an essential component of the international nonproliferation regime. During the general debate, groups such as the New Agenda Coalition, NAM, the League of Arab States, the European Union, the Arab Group, the African Group, and states including China, Kazakhstan, South Africa, Russia, the United States, and many more all made positive statements about the Treaty. Another important development in the past year is that Indonesia, one of the remaining Annex 2 States whose ratification is required for entry into force, changed its position on the CTBT and announced that if the United States ratifies the Treaty its own ratification would follow.
Notwithstanding these positive developments, a number of recent events have also underscored the political hurdles facing the Treaty's entry into force. The three Annex 2 states that have yet to sign the CTBT appear to be moving even further away from accepting the Treaty. Previously, Pakistan had not rejected the treaty and had noted as early as 1998 that it would accept the Treaty if India did so first. However, in June 2009 Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokesperson stated that due to an altered security environment since Pakistan made its original pledge in 1998, it had no plan to sign the CTBT. Next door in India, Pakistan's nuclear-armed rival, a scientist involved with India's 1998 nuclear tests stated that because its failure to detonate a thermonuclear device, India should not sign the CTBT and instead should resume nuclear testing.The most recent nuclear test in North Korea and the lack of progress on resuming the Six-Party Talks aimed at denuclearizing the Korean peninsula serve as reminders of the long road still to travel in order to achieve the Treaty's entry into force.
The current political momentum and an atmosphere of optimism surrounding the prospects for U.S. ratification and the Treaty's entry into force during leading up to this year's conference stand in stark contrast to the grim environment that encompassed the 2007s Article XIV Conference. Although many states retained cautious optimism at the earlier conference, severe budgetary restrictions due to member states' failures to pay their assessed contributions, continued opposition to the CTBT from the Bush administration, and the perceived weakening of the international nonproliferation regime clouded visions for progress at the 2007 conference.
While the political winds have shifted in the United States, a successful U.S. ratification campaign in the Senate will require serious, sustained efforts. Many agree that there currently exists a window of opportunity to make tangible progress on the international nonproliferation and disarmament agenda. Active participation from the United States at the conference and substantive discussions on means with which to achieve the Treaty's entry into force, as well as a successful conclusion of the special Security Council meeting chaired by President Obama, may lay the groundwork for a strengthened international nonproliferation regime. Nonetheless, failure to make headway on nonproliferation and disarmament measures in the United States, as well as in the international community, may slam shut the current window of opportunity, to the detriment of U.S. security and the peace and stability in the international community. The outcome of the up-coming Article XIV Conference in New York, as well as the impact of the Security Council meeting, will provide invaluable insight on whether the necessary political will exists to further the international nonproliferation and disarmament agenda.
Available at: http://cns.miis.edu/stories/090916_ctbt_conference.htm#fnB8
3. Statement by the Press Secretary on the U.S. delegation to the Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
The White House
(for personal use only)
“The President has asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to lead the U.S. delegation and deliver the U.S. national statement at the Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), to be held on September 24 and 25 in New York City. Since 1999, this conference has been held every other year to provide a forum for discussions on how best to encourage states to sign and ratify this important nonproliferation treaty, especially those states listed in Annex II that are required to ratify the Treaty before it can enter into force.
While the United States sent a delegation to the initial conference in 1999, it has not attended the subsequent four conferences. Accordingly, U.S. participation in this year’s conference will reaffirm the strong commitment of the Obama Administration to support the CTBT and to work with other nations to map out a comprehensive diplomatic strategy to secure the Treaty’s entry into force. To advance the latter agenda, Under Secretary of State Ellen Tauscher will hold a series of bilateral sessions during the Conference. This commitment to realize the promise of the CTBT is part of the President's comprehensive agenda to prevent nuclear proliferation, and to pursue the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons.
Available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Statement-by-the-Press-Secretary-on-the-US-delegation-to-the-Conference-on-Facilitating-the-Entry-into-Force-of-the-Comprehensive-Nuclear-Test-Ban-Treaty/
“Special United States Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, has made an alarming revelation saying that al-Qaeda is trying to seek nuclear secrets from Pakistan and it remains as dangerous as ever. Holbrooke said al-Qaeda is publicly asking nuclear engineers to give them nuclear secrets.
"Al-Qaeda is still there in the region, ever dangerous and publicly asking people to attack the United States and publicly asking nuclear engineers to give them nuclear secrets from Pakistan," Holbrooke said at a reception hosted by the Congressional Caucus on Afghanistan at the Capitol Hill.
Available at: http://www.timesnow.tv/US-sounds-nuclear-alarm-over-Pak/articleshow/4327468.cms
“IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei has thanked the Serbian government for resolving the issue of nuclear waste at the Vinča Institute.
During talks with Deputy Prime Minister Božidar Đelić in Vienna, ElBaradei said that he was happy that the agreement with Russia on the transfer of nuclear waste had finally been signed.
The outgoing International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA director underscored that this was a very time-consuming and expensive project, costing USD 25mn, adding that Serbia had allocated considerable funds to address the problem.
"Serbia has opened a new chapter in cooperation with IAEA," Đelić assessed in talks with ElBaradei.
"The agreement signed yesterday with Russia is a huge step that will help us close a difficult chapter," he stressed, adding that it would take another 18 months to conclude the process.
In Vienna, the minister is also due to meet with Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger to discuss visa liberalization and Serbia's EU integration.
Available at: http://www.b92.net/eng/news/society-article.php?yyyy=2009&mm=09&dd=16&nav_id=61802
2. NATO Seeks Russian Role in Fighting Nuclear Spread
James G. Neuger
(for personal use only)
“NATO’s chief sought closer cooperation with Russia in fighting nuclear proliferation, citing threats from Iran and North Korea as risks to world stability.
“North Korea already is nuclear and Iran is actively pursuing a nuclear weapons capability,” Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a video posting today. “That kind of world is neither in NATO’s nor in Russia’s interest. We can do more to prevent it.”
The proposals by Rasmussen, in office since Aug. 1, marked the first time the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has considered lending a hand in diplomatic efforts to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Moves to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions kicked into a higher gear this week with the announcement of an Oct. 1 meeting between Iran and six leading world powers, the first since President Barack Obama took office.
Iran has defied three sets of United Nations sanctions against uranium enrichment, fueling suspicions in the West that it wants a weapons capability. Iran says it is building power plants and has a right to the technology.
Rasmussen’s overture offered a sneak preview of proposals he will make in a Sept. 18 speech on repairing NATO relations with the Kremlin, which were ruptured by Russia’s 2008 invasion of Georgia, a would-be alliance member.
NATO’s only contact with Iran in the past 30 years was a meeting between senior officials in March, when the alliance declared a joint interest in stabilizing the Iranian border region with Afghanistan.
Rasmussen wants broad cooperation with Russia in containing nuclear threats and was “not trying to imply a NATO role in solving the North Korea problem or in solving the Iranian nuclear issue,” alliance spokesman James Appathurai said.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601085&sid=aG1Vnl.vb4FY
3. Ban Exhorts World to Seize Momentum to Reach Disarmament Goals
U.N. News Center
(for personal use only)
“Recent “encouraging” developments in the disarmament arena have provided a crucial window of opportunity for the international community to achieve its non-proliferation goals, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.
“This is a very rare momentum created [by] the international community,” Mr. Ban told the UN News Centre today in a joint interview with UN Radio and UN Television.
In May, the Conference on Disarmament – the world’s sole multilateral forum for disarmament negotiations – adopted a Programme of Work for its 2009 session, ending a 12-year stalemate and allowing the body to negotiate and substantively discuss strategic disarmament and non-proliferation.
Further, Russia and the United States committed in July to cut their strategic warheads to between 1,500 and 1,675 and their strategic delivery vehicles to between 500 and 1,000, as part of the Joint Understanding for a follow-on agreement to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).
Later this month, US President Barack Obama will chair a meeting of the Security Council focusing on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, including the UN-backed Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).
As Secretary-General, “I will devote my time and energy to making things move,” Mr. Ban said.
In his interview, he also voiced hope that the 64th session of the General Assembly, which kicked off today, will be among “the most historic and crucially important” in the UN’s history, as the world body forges ahead with efforts to combat global challenges ranging from climate change, pandemics and the financial crisis.
On the Middle East, Mr. Ban expressed concern that negotiations on the peace process have not “produced any tangible results despite such a high level of expectations from the international community.”
He said he is optimistic that Mr. Obama and the new US administration will be able to accelerate progress on this front so that Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side in peace.
“This is our vision and this is our commitment,” he underscored.
The Secretary-General recently returned from a visit to Mexico, where he addressed the 62nd annual UN Department of Public Information (DPI) conference with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), whose theme this year was “For Peace and Development: Disarm Now!”
With global military spending topping $1 trillion and rising by the day, he reiterated his appeal to rid the world of nuclear weapons.
“The world is over-armed and peace is under-funded,” Mr. Ban said at the event, which drew over 1,700 representatives from NGOs and experts from 70 countries.
He noted that more weapons continue to be produced and are flooding markets around the world. “They are destabilizing societies. They feed the flames of civil wars and terror,” he stated.
Available at: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=32068&Cr=disarmament&Cr1
“India has designed a new version of the Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR) that will use low enriched uranium (LEU) along with thorium as fuel, according to Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar.
The 300 MWe AHWR, called AHWR-LEU, could meet the requirements of countries with small grids for medium sized reactors, he said.
Dr. Kakodkar made the announcement at the 53rd general conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna on Wednesday.
The AHWR’s safety features would enable meeting the next generation safety requirements such as three days grace period for the operator’s response, elimination of the need for exclusion zone beyond the plant boundary, a 100-year design life and a high level of fault-tolerance.
The reactor’s safety characteristics, such as passive containment cooling system and gravity-driven water pool, were verified in a series of experiments conducted in full-scale test facilities (at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Trombay, Mumbai).
The reactor was manageable with modest industrial infrastructure available with developing countries. Importantly, the high level of radioactivity in the fissile and fertile materials recovered from the spent fuel and their isotopic composition precluded the use of these materials for nuclear weapons.
The reactor’s fault tolerance provided great immunity even from an insider threat. These features, therefore, offered proliferation-resistant characteristics and high security.
“Set to accelerate”
Dr. Kakodkar said India’s nuclear power programme was set to accelerate.
He described 2008 as a year of intense diplomatic activity in which India and other friendly countries with advanced nuclear technologies worked closely to consolidate the framework of cooperation among them.
India was now reformulating its plans for implementing its nuclear power programme in a big way by taking advantage of the emerging new possibilities.
“This year is already a time for results and RAPS-2 (200 MWe, Rajasthan Atomic Power Station) is our first Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) that is operational using imported natural uranium,” Dr. Kakodkar said.
Construction of three PHWRs of 220 MWe each (Kaiga-4 in Karnataka and RAPS-5 and 6) was over. India planned to build a series of 700 MWe PHWRs.
Available at: http://www.hindu.com/2009/09/17/stories/2009091760091000.htm
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