182 STC 09 E rev 1 - Combating WMD Proliferation
MICHAEL MATES (UNITED KINGDOM) - GENERAL RAPPORTEUR
II. NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION
A. STRENGTHENING THE NPT
III. BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS
IV. CHEMICAL WEAPONS
A. ON NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION
1. The dramatic advances in science and technology have brought to the world an unprecedented level of prosperity, comfort and health. However, they have also introduced mankind to weapons of mass destruction (WMD): nuclear, biological and chemical weapons (NBC), capable of wiping out millions and even destroying the planet. WMD are almost universally considered to be a growing threat. The severity of this threat has led the international community to respond with an impressive number of conventions, treaties and institutions, in addition to regional and bilateral initiatives and programmes to limit or eradicate these weapons. Biological and chemical weapons are banned entirely by respective conventions, while nuclear weapons are still legally owned by a handful of countries that are nevertheless widely expected to gradually reduce their arsenals. However, in spite of concerted international efforts, the threat of WMD falling into the wrong hands remains as acute as ever. In the 2008 Report of the U.S. Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, it was concluded that “the risks [posed by WMD] are growing faster than our multilayered defenses. Our margin of safety is shrinking, not growing.”1
2. Nevertheless, while one can neither “un-invent” nuclear, biological and chemical weapons nor halt scientific progress in these areas, it is of critical importance to continue fostering international non-proliferation endeavours to reduce to the minimum the risk of major incidents involving WMD. These incidents are neither inevitable nor implausible, but it would be a grave mistake to wait for them to occur in order to mobilise the international community and establish a truly robust and impregnable global mechanism of defence against such threats.
3. The NATO PA Science and Technology Committee considers WMD non-proliferation to be its core concern. The Committee has always been a staunch believer in international instruments and conventions: proliferation is a global phenomenon and therefore needs to be tackled on an international level. This report will, therefore, largely focus on possible ways to strengthen the key international treaties that govern nuclear, biological and chemical warfare. The report will pay particular attention to the Iranian nuclear programme, which represents the ultimate test for the global non-proliferation regime. Your Rapporteur also hopes that this report can serve as our Assembly’s contribution to the nuclear non-proliferation debate that is taking place in preparation for the crucial 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference.
A. STRENGTHENING THE NPT
4. The success of nuclear non-proliferation efforts depends on the effectiveness of the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and its watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The Treaty aims to limit the spread of nuclear weapons through three main ‘pillars’: 1) non-proliferation, 2) disarmament, and 3) the right to use nuclear technology peacefully. With near universal adherence, the NPT is regarded as the cornerstone of the multilateral nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime. Only three states are not parties to the treaty: India, Israel and Pakistan. North Korea announced its withdrawal in 2002, but the legitimacy of this decision is widely questioned.
5. The record of the NPT in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons is regarded as encouraging since only three to five nations outside the official nuclear weapon states (NWS) are believed to have NW capability, rather than the several dozen predicted by President Kennedy in the 1960s. Nevertheless, a number of disquieting trends, including the disclosure of the illegal nuclear network of A.Q. Kahn - a former Pakistani nuclear official - Iran’s clandestine activities and North Korea’s withdrawal, reveal evident loopholes and imperfections of the existing non-proliferation regime. Efforts to rectify and improve the regime failed totally at the 2005 NPT Review Conference due to fundamental disagreement over priorities between the West and the developing countries. The Treaty’s viability depends on a balance between nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament, and yet both sides maintain that one of these facets is receiving less attention than it should.
6. There have been fears that another failed Review Conference in 2010 will erode confidence in the NPT’s validity and lead to the break out of states from the regime. The Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for the eighth NPT Review Conference has been at work to prevent a repeat of the 2005 meeting. It has now held all three sessions, which were scheduled to be conducted prior to the Conference.
7. The most recent PrepCom meeting for the 2010 NPT Review Conference was heralded as a much-needed success story after the discord that had characterized previous NPT meetings. The agenda and all significant procedural decisions for 2010 were adopted expeditiously. Indeed, analysts have predicted that, barring any unforeseen and dramatic deterioration in relations, there is a strong possibility that the 2010 review conference will open smoothly and progress without the procedural delays that marred the 2005 Review Conference.2 However, while the negotiations on the Chair’s three successive drafts established a solid framework for recommendations to be negotiated in 2010, and debate reflected broad areas of common ground, no agreement was made on substantive recommendations to transmit to the review conference.
8. Indeed, across the three sessions, discussions have indicated a considerable measure of continuity in the key debates surrounding the NPT. NWS signatories remain skewed towards compliance and away from disarmament. The U.S. and the UK, in particular, pressed their claims that preventing proliferation of nuclear weapons was the highest priority for Treaty compliance. Iran, the Democratic Popular Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Syria have been singled out for criticism several times, and demands were made that they return to full, transparent compliance with their nonproliferation obligations.
9. By contrast, the NNWS, those within the non-aligned movement in particular, continue to give assurances that their disavowal of nuclear weapons remains firm, but insist that acceptance of additional restraints, as well as the long-term viability of the Treaty, depend upon much more significant progress on disarmament. There were calls from Arab League states for universal adherence of the Treaty, and to establish a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons. They particularly want Israel to accede to the NPT as a NNWS without restriction or condition, and demand that the international community assume responsibility for this. Whilst the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) countries believe that NPT Article VI constitutes a formal obligation on the NWS signatories to disarm, the NWS signatories argue that it only requires them “to negotiate in good faith”. Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Ireland and South Africa are especially vociferous on disarmament.
10. In spite of the disagreements highlighted above, discussions at all three PrepCom sessions indicate a number of potentially encouraging areas of progress. First and foremost, the NWS and the US in particular show signs of readiness to make more progress in the field of disarmament. Under President Bush, the U.S. avoided formal arms control treaties, preferring instead to unilaterally reduce the U.S. arsenal.3 This put it at odds with other NWS signatories. Although there remains a lingering ideological rift within the NWS signatories – most notably over the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which the U.S. has yet to ratify – these differences are subsiding under President Obama. Indeed, during the last two sessions the group have issued joint statements after not having done so for some eight years.4 The consolidation of this influential group bodes well for future negotiations. Nevertheless, certain differences among the NWS still exist: reportedly, China and France are emerging as potential naysayers. France seems to be uncomfortable with the vision of a nuclear weapons free world, which is currently championed by the new U.S. Administration. China’s behaviour also surprised many because their negotiators were unprepared to discuss substantive matters.
11. President Obama has stated that he intends to work with the Senate to secure the ratification of the CTBT at the earliest practical date and “then launch a diplomatic effort to bring onboard other states whose ratifications are required for the treaty to enter into force.”5 Indeed, at the 2009 PrepCom meeting, President Obama’s promise to pursue U.S. ratification of this treaty ensured that CTBT entry into force was prominently advocated in the first draft of recommendations. In this draft, the importance of Article VI was underscored with the calling for an action plan to set practical, achievable and specified goals and measures to lead to the elimination of nuclear weapons.6 Notably, there is now bipartisan consensus that the U.S. needs to comply with its nuclear disarmament obligations under Article VI of the NPT before other countries will support other U.S. non-proliferation initiatives to counter, for example, nuclear terrorism and rogue states.7
12. The prospects of the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT) also look brighter. FMCT would prohibit the further production of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium. Since uranium enrichment and plutonium separation processes are likely to become increasingly widespread, accounting for and controlling the fissile materials that are produced or otherwise available is the only secure method of ensuring that new bombs will not be developed. Given that the NWS are believed to have ended their production of fissile material for weapons in the 1990s, the proposed FMCT would primarily constrain non-NPT states India, Israel, and Pakistan.
13. Negotiations on such a treaty were stalled by China, Pakistan and Iran. China may see the need to preserve an option for future fissile material production in light of a potential build-up of Indian nuclear forces or U.S. ballistic missile defences. Pakistan is concerned that a fissban could perpetuate existing imbalances with regional rival India while Iran appears to see opposition to initiation of fissban negotiations as a means of leverage vis-à-vis the international community in its ongoing battle over its nuclear activities.8 The Bush Administration’s position was that an FMCT could not be effectively verified, and that “time-consuming and… futile efforts” to do so should be avoided.9 In 2006, the U.S. submitted the only draft FMCT that any government has submitted thus far that did not contain any provisions for international verification.10 The two major verification issues are: 1) the difficulty of determining that highly enriched uranium is not being diverted to weapons from the naval-reactor fuel cycle; and 2) whether undeclared fissile material production capabilities might be present in nuclear-weapon-related facilities.11
14. By calling for a verifiable treaty, the Obama Administration appears to have rejected its predecessor’s position.12 Indeed, Obama’s commitment has inspired confidence that the FMCT will be given the proper consideration. On 29 May 2009, Obama restated his commitment to the passage of a verifiable FMCT and commended the Conference on Disarmament on its resumption of FMCT talks. Notably, for the first time since 1996, the 65-nation Conference on Disarmament unanimously agreed on a 2009 agenda to resume arms control talks. The Conference agreed to set up a working group to carry out full negotiations on “an international ban on the production of new nuclear bombing making material.”13 Although the consensus is a sign of progress, it should be noted that existing reservations concerning the FMCT are likely to endure.
15. An additional challenge to disarmament has been the need to replace the U.S.-Russian Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which expires in December 2009. Under this treaty, the U.S. and Russia agree to reduce their deployed strategic arsenals to 1,600 delivery vehicles and 6,000 warheads. The 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) sees the states agree to limit their respective arsenals of operationally deployed strategic warheads to 1,700 to 2,200 by 31 December 2012. The expiration of START would have meant the loss of the ability to legally limit and verify the two countries’ still enormous numbers of deployed nuclear weapons and delivery systems.14
16. Presidents Medvedev and Obama announced during their meeting in April 2009 that their negotiators would begin work on a new, comprehensive, and legally binding agreement on reducing and limiting strategic offensive arms to replace START. On 6 July 2009, both Presidents signed a Joint Understanding committing both countries to reduce their strategic warheads to a range of 1500-1675, and their strategic delivery vehicles to a range of 500-1100.
17. Quite significantly, these figures reflect a new level of reductions of strategic offensive arms and delivery vehicles that will be lower than those in any existing arms control agreements. The successful renewal of the U.S.-Russian arms control process is considered significant. Deeper nuclear reductions help strengthen the NPT, the first line of defence against the spread of nuclear weapons. Moreover, the responsible reduction in U.S.-Russian nuclear weapons is fundamental in securing the willingness of non-nuclear weapons states to uphold their own NPT commitments.
18. Signs of positive developments and certain enthusiasm on the disarmament side of the NPT have prompted a group of nations – Australia, Costa Rica, Malaysia - and the New Agenda Coalition – to take one step further and propose a Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC), an international treaty that would prohibit the development, testing, production, stockpiling, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons, as well as provide for their elimination.15
19. However, it remains to be seen if new disarmament initiatives will also help achieve progress in the area of nuclear non-proliferation. On top of the hopeful changes outlined, a new and potentially dangerous trend emerged at the 2008 PrepCom: more states than ever before were prioritising Article IV (stipulating “inalienable right” to nuclear energy) above Article VI (nonproliferation), reflecting a shift from a previous era when treaty effectiveness was judged mainly against progress on nuclear disarmament and prevention of proliferation.16 This shift was primarily due to nuclear energy supplier states now using rhetoric about the “inalienable right” to promote multinational uranium supply schemes “at the reasonable price”, multinational fuel reprocessing programmes, and global investments in nuclear power plant construction.17 Some analysts fear that promotion of such schemes will distort the natural energy market and will encourage energy-hungry nations to opt for nuclear power. The consequences of this rapid spread of nuclear energy are unpredictable.
20. There are a number of systemic influences that hinder progress on non-proliferation issues.
i. Strategic nuclear deterrence is still highly valued by the states that practice it, especially given the heightened degree of flux in the international system since the end of the Cold War.18
ii. The prestige attached to nuclear weapons is prized in the developing world, e.g. India and Iran.
iii. The process of complete nuclear disarmament may appear too complicated and uncertain to attract broad support. For example, questions remain over: the stability of deterrence as numbers approach zero; verification issues; the governance of the nuclear fuel cycle; and the enforcement of compliance.19
iv. There is no consensus on how to respond to a state’s break out in the condition of complete disarmament.20
21. In addition to the NPT, there is a range of other multinational or bilateral initiatives that deal with nuclear proliferation that need to be mentioned.
1. Proliferation Security Initiative
22. Launched by the U.S. in May 2003, the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) is an informal arrangement that aims to stop shipments of biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons, as well as delivery systems and goods to produce such weapons, to those countries of proliferation concern to PSI participants. More than 90 countries currently support the PSI.21 Although the PSI does not grant governments any new legal authority, participants pledge to act when necessary to help seize or thwart dangerous trade at sea, in the air, or on land, and readily share information among one another as appropriate.
23. Although the State Department maintains that “the results of our interdiction efforts must necessarily be kept in classified channels because of sensitive sources and methods”, it has released claims that PSI co-operation has prevented the export of controlled equipment and dualuse goods to Iran. One PSI partner has allegedly also intercepted the export of heavy waterrelated equipment to Iran’s nuclear programme.22 These results, however, remain questionable, as it is unclear how many interdictions by PSI states would have occurred without the existence of the initiative.23
2. UN Resolution 1540
24. United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1540 was conceived as enforceable international law, designed to counter the threat of terrorist acquisition of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter which addresses “threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, and acts of aggression”, the resolution requires UN member states to adopt and enforce appropriate and effective laws prohibiting any non-state actor from manufacturing, acquiring, possessing, developing, transporting, transferring or using nuclear, biological or chemical weapons and their means of delivery, in particular for terrorist purposes. A provision of the Resolution establishes a ‘1540 Committee’ tasked with collecting comprehensive reports from states’ parties on progress towards the implementation mandatory steps. The Security Council (SC) recently extended the mandate of the 1540 Committee until April 2011 as not all states have fulfilled their requirements in implementing the Resolution as yet.24
25. There has been broad international support for the UNSCR 1540 as evidenced in international public statements, and the relatively high submission of national reports on implementation steps and plans.25 In as far as the Resolution has inspired “at least a modest increase” in national measures to prevent WMD terrorism, according to some proliferation experts, it can be regarded as a success.26
26. However, there are many questions regarding the prospect of universal state adherence to its obligations.27
ii. There are additionally many uncertainties concerning the definitions of terms in the resolution. Although states must meet the Resolution’s legally binding requirement to institute ‘appropriate’ and ‘effective’ measures to deny non-state actors NBC weapons, the Resolution does not define these terms.
iii. Another issue that has come to light is the low priority of non-proliferation to many developing states. Burkina Faso, Peru, the Republic of Namibia, Oman, for example, contend that the resolution does not apply to them because they lack the weapons or materials targeted by the Resolution.
iv. Other states maintain that they do not have the capacity or the resources to execute the mandate of the Resolution.
v. Finally, since measures to prevent the spread of NBC weapons and related materials and technologies can only be as effective as the capability and willingness of the relevant national authorities to enforce them, a significant factor limiting the effectiveness of such measures is the degree of corruption (indicative of the likelihood that authorities may either ignore or actively contribute to proliferation even when nonproliferation laws are in place).
27. It remains to be seen whether adequate legal measures can be developed or implemented to deal with non-compliance, and even if non-compliance can be agreed upon, the lack of a common understanding among states as to what the Resolution requires poses additional difficulty.
3. The Nuclear Supplier Group
28. The NSG is a group of 45 nuclear supplier countries that seeks to voluntarily prevent the use of peaceful nuclear technology for military purposes by restricting nuclear and nuclear-related exports according to consensually agreed guidelines. The NSG already requires IAEA safeguards as a condition of supply, but has been discussing whether to include the Additional Protocol to the IAEA as a requirement for the transfer of some technologies since 2005. Brazil, who has yet to sign an additional protocol with the IAEA, is firmly opposed to making the step a condition of supply of enrichment technologies on the grounds that this measure would compromise the right of nondiscrimination in nuclear trade enshrined in Article IV of the NPT. In a concession to Brazil, the latest ongoing discussions at the time of writing propose a relaxation of the rules to allow the Additional Protocol standard to be waived if regional arrangements could offer similar levels of non-proliferation confidence.28
4. Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism
29. In 2006, the presidents of Russia and the U.S. launched a Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT). The initiative aims to foster international co-operation to prevent terrorists from acquiring, transporting, or using nuclear materials and radioactive substances, and carrying out hostile actions against nuclear facilities. Three years after its inception, the GICNT—now a 76 partner-nation tool for countering nuclear terrorism—continues its emergence as an important venue for co-ordinating and sharing security, response, and law enforcement best practices.
5. Safeguarding Nuclear Weapons
30. There is generally a consensus that the U.S. Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) programmes have accomplished a great deal since their inception. To date, thousands of nuclear warheads have been dismantled and dozens of potentially nuclear weapons and fissile material sites have been secured in Russia and countries of the former Soviet Union.29 Indeed, in some ways the programme is a victim to its own success, with a large number of its programmes having been completed or rapidly coming to an end. For instance, in September 2008 the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) reported that it had completed upgrades at more than 85% of the Russian nuclear warhead sites of concern and is on schedule to finish the job by the end of 2009.30 Analysts have noted that these developments have been reflected in, for instance, the NNSA’s reduced request for funds: in 2009, US$ 24.5 million was requested for a programme to shut down Russian reactors that generate weapons-grade plutonium and replace them with fossil-fuel power plants, where the programme had received US$ 141.3 million in the previous fiscal year.31
31. In recent years, the continued viability of these projects has been questioned. For instance, there have been strong calls for realignment in the nature of the enterprise given that Russia now possesses a stronger economy that could better afford to pay for its own security.32 However, analysts argue that despite the perception that Russia is a newly wealthy country, rich in oil and gas, the threat of theft, diversion, and proliferation of nuclear weapons remains very real and a key component of international security for all nations.33 Concerns that the heightened tension between the United States and Russia in 2008 would impact non-proliferation work have been largely unfounded. Analysts are confident that the programmes will continue, despite any political differences the two nations have; they have also contended that there are inherent risks in such a strained relationship.34
32. In 2002, the G8 countries created a new and expanded entity, the G8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, otherwise known as the Global Partnership (GP). They also collectively pledged to provide US$ 20 billion over the next decade to catalyse and accelerate progress on this non-proliferation.35 Since major U.S. programme accomplishments related to implementation of the U.S.-Russian 1991 START and 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), the GP has focused its efforts largely on fissile material security in Russia and countries of the former Soviet Union.
33. Initially, there was considerable interest in expanding the partnership. Within the first two years of its existence an additional 13 countries and the EU joined the partnership and provided contributions ranging from US$ 75,000 to several hundred million dollars annually.36 However, in recent years the GP’s expansion appears to have stalled; no country has joined since 2004, and more than 80 % of the world remains outside. In light of the emergence of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) in 2006, which aims to prevent non-state actors from gaining access to nuclear materials, there is a possibility that this newer initiative has attracted popular participation to the detriment of the GP.
34. The increasingly global nature of nuclear commerce and proliferation threats is the most prominently cited reason for the need for the GP (and the CTR programme) to re-examine its priorities. However, in spite of the global nature of the threat, the overall effort remains culturally, politically, and financially rooted in the former Soviet Union. At the 2009 G8 summit, the GP confirmed the goal of geographic expansion; however, it reiterated that it was first determined to meet commitments to accomplish ongoing projects in Russia, especially in the areas of chemical weapons’ destruction, nuclear submarines’ dismantling and related work.37
35. Many GP members have not yet fulfilled their sizeable financial pledges.38 However, analysts point to issues that hinder progress with fulfilling financial pledges, which include: insufficient facility access, difficulties in negotiating agreements, and the lack of requisite legal protections, such as tax exemptions and addressing liability matters.39 While progress has been made in bypassing some of these obstacles, for instance, through donors piggybacking onto existing bilateral agreements, many of these issues remain.40 More significantly, efforts by the U.S. to seek a further GP pledge, similar to the one made in 2002 have been resisted in some quarters. Reportedly, Germany resisted, due to its focus on economic growth and the developing world.41 Indeed, the global financial crisis and recession are likely to have reduced donors’ desire to commit further funds.
36. Some analysts have argued that as the GP does not include an authoritative mechanism for coordinating efforts of the various countries, this can sometimes result in problems including misplaced priorities and duplicative or inconsistent efforts. Indeed, even with the establishment of a Senior Group and an expert-level GP Working Group, the projects and priorities continue to reflect the goals of the individual funding countries. It has been argued that the absence of such a mechanism will continue to compound the lack of central direction and coordination of the various programmes.42
37. In light of the ongoing political instability in Pakistan and the current offensive against the Taliban in the northwest of the country, the safeguarding of nuclear weapons in Pakistan has also gained increased international attention. Some observers have voiced concern that Pakistan’s strategic nuclear assets could come under the control of radical elements in the government, or be obtained by terrorists. According to most public estimates, Pakistan currently possesses approximately 60 nuclear weapons, although it could have more.43 According to a US Department of Defense report, Islamabad’s nuclear weapons “are probably stored in component form,”44 which suggests that the nuclear warheads are stored separately from their delivery vehicles. The fissile cores of the weapons are also reported to be separated from the non-nuclear explosives.45 While separate storage is generally considered to provide a layer of protection against accidental launch, it may be easier for unauthorized people to remove a weapon’s fissile material core if it is not assembled. Moreover, dispersal of the assets may also create more potential access points for acquisition and may increase the risk of diversion.
38. In recent years, Pakistan has taken a number of steps to increase international confidence in the security of its nuclear arsenal. Following the 11 September 2001 attacks, Pakistan dramatically overhauled its nuclear command and nuclear structures and implemented new personnel security programmes. Moreover, since the 2004 revelations that a procurement network was being run by a former Pakistani nuclear official, A.Q. Khan, Pakistan has further implemented a number of steps to improve its nuclear security and prevent further proliferation of nuclear-related technologies and materials. Initiatives such as strengthened export control laws, improved personnel security, and international nuclear security programmes are widely considered to have improved Pakistan’s nuclear security situation.
39. U.S. officials and military command continue to express confidence in the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. Most recently, on 29 April 2009, President Obama stated: “I’m confident that we can make sure that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is secure, primarily, initially, because the Pakistani army, I think, recognizes the hazards of those weapons falling into the wrong hands. We’ve got strong military-to-military consultation and cooperation”. 46 Similarly, Defense Intelligence Agency Director, Michael Maples, recently stated that Islamabad “has taken important steps to safeguard its nuclear weapons”, although he also pointed out that “vulnerabilities exist.”
6. U.S.-India deal
40. In response to a longstanding border dispute with China and China’s growing nuclear arsenal, India developed its own nuclear weapons programme, declining to accede to the NPT on the basis that it was discriminatory.47 Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) restrictions and India’s refusal to sign the NPT did not prevent India from developing its own resources for each stage of the nuclear fuel cycle and power generation. India continued developing its own nuclear weapons technology as well, achieving self-sufficiency for all key components for weapons design, testing and production in the late 1990s. India has more than enough uranium to supply its nuclear weapons programme, but because the amount of nuclear fuel required for the electricity generation sector is far greater than that required to maintain a nuclear weapon, the NSG’s uranium export restrictions constrained the expansion of civil nuclear power generation in India.
41. On 18 July 2005, the Indo-U.S. civilian nuclear agreement was announced, in which India agreed to separate its civil and military nuclear facilities and place its civil nuclear facilities under permanent IAEA safeguards, in exchange for full civil nuclear co-operation between itself and the U.S. (excluding the transfer of civil enrichment and reprocessing items and other sensitive technologies). The agreement allows India access to nuclear fuel and technology without requiring it to sign the NPT, as other countries must do. It was supported as a means of advancing nonproliferation, fulfilling India’s soaring energy demands, and boosting a U.S.-India strategic partnership. There were financial considerations as well – the world’s major nuclear technology companies want a share of the estimated US$ 150 billion for the construction of nuclear power plants in India.48 The IAEA Director General, Mohamed ElBaradei, has endorsed the deal on the basis that it both advances the non-proliferation agenda and is an important step towards satisfying India’s growing need for energy.49 Nuclear rivals, Pakistan and China, on the other hand, did not support the nuclear agreement.
42. The agreement was officially signed on 10 October 200850 following a series of complex steps – the amendment of U.S. law, a civil-military nuclear Separation Plan in India, the negotiation of an exemption for India by the Nuclear Suppliers Group, and an India-IAEA inspection agreement, for example. The U.S. Congress gave its final approval for the deal on 1 October 2008, although the announcement of this was overshadowed by the financial crisis in the U.S., and the terrorist attacks in Mumbai.51
43. The deal proved very contentious in India, especially amongst the leftist parties who fear that it gives the U.S. too much leverage over India’s foreign policy.52 It once threatened to topple PM Manmohan Singh’s government, which survived a confidence vote in Parliament in July 2008 by forming a new coalition. Critics fear assistance to India’s civil programme could free-up additional radioactive material for bomb-making purposes.
44. Critics also argue that it creates a dangerous precedent, effectively allowing India to expand its nuclear power industry without requiring it to sign the NPT, as other nations must. This represents a double standard in favour of India, which might undermine the arguments for isolating Iran and North Korea over their nuclear programmes, spelling disaster for international nonproliferation efforts in the long-term.53 Proponents argue that the deal demonstrates that the international community is prepared to distinguish between countries that are increasing cooperation with the nuclear non-proliferation regime - like India - and those that defy it. The deal may also raise regional tensions, accelerating a nuclear arms race if it creates fears in Pakistan that India is outpacing it.54
C. TEST CASE 1: IRAN’S NUCLEAR PROGRAMME
45. When discussing nuclear proliferation, the most outstanding question is the true nature of Iran’s nuclear programme. Your Rapporteur believes that this issue merits a separate chapter of this report.
46. The dynamics of the Iranian nuclear issue have evolved significantly since November 2006 when the NATO PA Science and Technology Committee adopted its report on Iran’s Nuclear Policy (178 STCMT 06 E bis). Today, it is clear that the Iranian nuclear programme has expanded significantly, in a manner some deem incompatible with the purposes of civil fuel production, and that the Iranian negotiating position has become less flexible as facts changed on the ground and as the West opened up new venues for engagement. These developments require a reassessment of Iranian nuclear policy and the international community’s approach to resolving the stalemate.
1. Current capabilities
47. To achieve a break-out capability, Iran needs to both be able to construct a nuclear weapon and to amass a significant amount of explosive fissile material. Weapons design work is considered unlikely to be a major impediment in Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.55 Iranian military entities are believed to have clandestinely carried out weaponisation work in the past and, although this work is estimated to have halted in 200356, it is widely judged that it can be resumed at any point and successfully completed, if such a decision were to be made by the Iranian leadership.57 Thus, the main challenge for Iran in gaining nuclear weapons capability remains the production of a sufficient amount of highly enriched uranium (HEU) or the separation of weaponsusable plutonium. Centrifuge enrichment appears to be the most likely method for Iran to achieve a nuclear weapons capability.58 Iran has rapidly expanded its centrifuge programme over the past two years, both in quantitative and qualitative terms. As of 19 February 2009, Iran was operating more than 5,400 centrifuges, a dramatic increase from the 550 centrifuges that were enriching uranium in January 2007.59 Installation work is continuing on three more units of centrifuges, as reported by the IAEA (February 2009) and, when completed, will bring the total number of centrifuges at Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) to 15,000. In addition, Iran has also significantly improved the operation of its centrifuge cascades, which now work at near-capacity and produce low enriched uranium (LEU) at a rate of about 2.5 kg per day of low enriched uranium hexafluoride (UF6), a substantial advance over previous capabilities.60
48. The accumulation of enough low-enriched uranium, as feed for the production of sufficient amounts of highly enriched uranium, is considered a key benchmark in the achievement of a nuclear weapons capability. Experts believe that about 700-1,000 kg of LEU would give Iran the capability to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for a nuclear weapon, even taking into consideration the technical difficulties that Iran has experienced in the past, as well as the low operational efficiency of the P1 centrifuge. With moderate confidence, the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) expects Iran to be technically capable of producing enough HEU for a weapon sometime during the 2010 – 2015 timeframe.
49. According to the latest IAEA data, the overall total of Iranian low-enriched UF6 stockpile reached some 1,010 kg. According to the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) estimate of LEU stockpile required for the production of a nuclear weapon, this amount represents a nuclear weapons break-out capability. As the institute’s experts proclaim in their report of 19 February 2009, “the quantity of LEU in the form of uranium hexafluoride accumulated by Iran, which equates to approximately 700 kg of low enriched uranium (where the uranium mass is given), is sufficient for the production of enough weapongrade uranium for a single nuclear weapon, should Iran take the decision to further enrich its LEU stockpile.”61
50. As daunting as this assessment of Iranian capabilities sounds, it denotes only a latent weapons capability. In order to obtain weapons-grade material Iran would still have to enrich its accumulated LEU stockpiles to HEU. All nuclear material at the Natanz FEP is under strict IAEA surveillance and is currently accounted for. If Iran attempted to produce HEU at the Natanz facility inspectors would become aware almost immediately. Current safeguard mechanisms, however, have not protected against the predicted break-out scenarios involving a clandestine facility.62
51. Indeed, the disclosure of a second enrichment plant at Qom was only made by Iran in a letter to the IAEA on 21 September 2009, after the Iranian government became aware that Western intelligence agencies had discovered its existence.63 Iran is obliged under its safeguards agreement to report to the IAEA the planning of facilities, which includes a uranium enrichment plant. However, Iran unilaterally withdrew its obligation in October 2005 by stating that it would no longer voluntarily implement the provisions of the Additional Protocol. The President of Iran, therefore, currently claims that Iran’s decision to inform the IAEA took place a year ahead of its obligation, since the facility is not scheduled to be operational for a further 18 months.64 Indeed, analysts await greater clarification as to the current workings of the plant.65 Early estimates, however, suggest that it is well sized to allow Iran to move quickly from producing nuclear material to highly enriched uranium.66 U.S. officials have been quoted as saying that while the plant is not yet completed, it is designed to hold approximately 3,000 centrifuges, which can produce enough enriched uranium each year to produce a bomb, if further refined to weapons grade purity.67
52. Iran has also been able to produce a newer generation centrifuge of the type IR2 and IR-3.68 As the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) projects, if Iran were able to produce and operate large numbers of the more efficient centrifuges, its ability to produce HEU would greatly improve and the worse-case time frame might become closer to reality. Generally, due to the dispersed nature of the Iranian centrifuge programme and the developed indigenous capacity to produce centrifuge components, Iran is believed to be in a position to replicate facilities quickly and clandestinely, if it so wishes, and the full scope of its current centrifuge facilities and activities remains an open intelligence question.69
53. Finally, contrary to resolutions by the UN Security Council, Iran has not suspended its work on heavy water-related projects, including the construction of the heavy water moderated research reactor, IR-40, at Arak and the production of fuel for that reactor. Once completed, the reactor could produce about 9 kg of plutonium if Iran had the capability to separate it from the spent nuclear fuel. The IAEA inspectors do not have full access to the facility.
54. A nuclear weapons capability does not necessarily denote the actual acquisition of a nuclear weapon. It is possible that Iranian leadership would decide to remain at the stage of latent capability without actually producing a nuclear weapon. The lesser of two evils, such a development would still profoundly transform the strategic and political configuration of the Middle East, possibly stimulating a proliferation cascade. Furthermore, as the 2007 NIE points out, a political decision not to produce a nuclear weapon would be inherently reversible at any point. Therefore, it would not represent a permanent resolution to the Iranian nuclear crisis.
2. Intentions behind the nuclear programme
55. Iran continues to insist that its enrichment programme is entirely for peaceful purposes. Its history of concealment and non-compliance with the IAEA, however, give substantial ground to suspicion, in addition to earlier breaches. First, Iran still refuses to co-operate with the IAEA to alleviate its concerns regarding its past weapons-development activities – a request continuously reiterated by the Agency. Furthermore, as mentioned above, Iran suspended implementation of the revised Subsidiary Arrangement and the Additional Protocol. The recent disclosure of the secret enrichment plant has also raised fresh concerns over Iran’s intentions for its nuclear programme.
56. Furthermore, expert examinations emphasize the incongruity of current Iranian enrichment efforts with the stated goal of establishing a self-sufficient civil nuclear energy programme. ISIS noted as recently as February 2009 that Iran is close to exhausting its supply of uranium ore and has not developed the sustainable levels of indigenous uranium mining needed to meet the requirements of even a single Bushehr-type reactor for commercially viable production of fuel.70 Furthermore, Iran’s current centrifuge capability for LEU production is 60 times lower than that needed to fuel the Bushehr reactor annually.71 If, however, Iran is seeking to establish the capability to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for a nuclear weapon, its existing stock of uranium hexafluoride is enormous (enough for over 35 nuclear weapons) and its current centrifuge programme – more than adequate (enough to produce one or two nuclear weapons per year).72 IISS further adds that if the enrichment programme were for commercial purposes, Iran should have operated the cascades continuously for much longer periods of time to improve their efficiency and ensure their long-term viability before beginning industrial-scale production, as the experience of other fuel producing countries has shown. If its purposes, however, are quickly to stockpile sufficient amounts of LEU for a military break-out, the long-term reliability of its machines becomes less relevant.73
57. All these facts, in addition to the continued non-compliance with five UNSC resolutions, indicate that Iran has failed to ensure transparency and build confidence in the non-military nature of its programme. At present, Iranian intentions with regard to the purposes of its nuclear enrichment seem at best dubious, and at worst a clear proliferation threat.
3. Effect of sanctions
58. The ability of the international community to influence Iranian decision-making on the nuclear issue and the scope of its nuclear programme has a mixed record. The November 2007 NIE, marking a significant shift from previous assessments, stated that Tehran’s decisions are driven by a cost-benefit analysis of possible options, which is why Iran suspended its weapons programme in 2003 as a result of international pressure. Thus, the NIE judged that Iran is susceptible to influence from the international community and not determined to acquire a nuclear weapon in any circumstances. Such analysis, if accurate, would render the imposition of sanctions as the most fitting approach to curtailing the Iranian nuclear programme. Others, however, point out that the threat of sanctions, rather than their actual imposition, has been a more powerful deterrent.74
a. Impact on the nuclear programme
59. One of the main purposes of the sanctions imposed on Iran is to deny it the supply of equipment and material necessary to produce nuclear weapons. UNSC Resolution 1737, unanimously passed on 23 December 2006, banned financial and technical assistance to Iran’s enrichment, reprocessing, heavy-water and ballistic-missile programmes and froze the assets of individuals and companies linked to Iran's nuclear programme. The four subsequent UNSC resolutions prohibited trade in additional dual-use materials and technologies and expanded the list of entities subject to an asset freeze. However, even today Iran is still able to acquire some equipment via illicit trade with foreign suppliers.75
60. Iran has been most active in its efforts to circumvent sanctions through re-export arrangements76, particularly via the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia.77 China and India have also been mentioned as possible smuggling targets with insufficient implementation of export controls.78 Recently, evidence has emerged that Russian entities may also have been transferring sensitive nuclear technology to Iran.79
b. Economic impact
61. From an economic point of view, the role of sanctions is also somewhat ambiguous. So far five UNSC resolutions have been imposed on Iran, freezing the foreign-held assets of a number of Iranian entities and imposing travel bans on certain individuals. In addition, the United States, the EU, Australia and others have gone beyond the resolutions’ demands by expanding the lists of banned individuals and organizations. Additional measures provide for a range of nationallyimposed sanctions that include reaching out to the banking, insurance, and energy sectors to warn them of the high costs and penalties of business with Iran.
62. The financial isolation strategy, so far primarily directed at Iran’s banking industry, has produced some results. In 2007, the OECD revised Iran’s credit risk rating from five to six on a seven point scale, as a result of which the cost of export credits to Iran increased by 30% and the overall level of credit diminished. Iran’s business community cannot get letters of credit or set up bank-transfer arrangements for international transactions, and must use cash rather than electronic transfers. On the other hand, however, Iran has been able to turn increasingly to smaller banks in Dubai and Bahrain, China, Southeast Asia and Latin America that place less emphasis on reputational risk.80 As the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports, stopping money flows to Iran is particularly challenging because the Iranian government draws upon a large network of state-owned banks and parastatal companies.81
63. International financial constraints have also exacerbated Iran’s high unemployment and high inflation rate. Its oil and gas industry continues to face shortages for spare parts and long-deferred investment in infrastructure. Over the four months leading up to February 2008, commodity prices reportedly rose by 50%, as a result of the extra cost of routing business through Dubai. Some point out, however, that much of the domestic economic downturn can be equally blamed on President Ahmadinejad’s failed economic policies.82
64. There are several factors that have diluted the economic effect of the current sanctions strategy. Some claim that Russia and China have prevented the imposition of sanctions that would have a truly adverse impact on Iran and that Russian and Chinese companies have stepped in to secure business opportunities that became available after the withdrawal of Western firms. Similarly, many European countries are also seen as reluctant to adopt unilateral sanctions measures with the goal of avoiding a ‘lose-lose’ situation of losing national competitive advantage in addition to failing to influence Iranian decision-making.83
65. Most importantly, Iran’s leading role in energy production complicates efforts to isolate it. Oil export revenues represent nearly 80% of Iran’s total merchandise export earnings. Overall, Iran’s cumulative trade with the world has grown since the U.S. imposed sanctions regime.84 The actual impact of sanctions is also difficult to assess due to the sharp increase in oil prices until autumn 2008, which shielded Iran from much economic pressure.85 Given the current global financial crisis, however, this is likely to change. If oil prices remain low for a sustained period of time, the impact on Iran’s oil and gas industry would affect its wider economy to a point at which sanctions are expected to have a significantly greater effect.86
66. There is also further scope for exacerbating pressure. While it exports large quantities of crude oil, Iran imports 40% of its domestically consumed gasoline due to the shortage of refining capacity.87 Stopping the petrol imports could be an effective way of influencing the country’s costbenefit calculations. The resulting rise in petrol prices would drive up public discontent and immediately hammer home to ordinary citizens the high cost of the nuclear policy.
67. Another option would be to restrict investment in Iran’s dominant revenue earner – the oil and gas industry. However, sanctions that hamper Iran’s ability to produce oil and gas are not cost-free, given the global demand for increased oil supply. The U.S. has unilaterally imposed sanctions with the goal of impeding the development of Iran’s oil and gas resources. While U.S. officials and experts have noted a slowdown in investment in Iran’s oil and gas sectors, there is still significant interest in financing projects in Iran’s energy sector.88 Many international energy companies are still active in Iran.
c. Political impact
68. The impact of sanctions has been perhaps most tangible from a political point of view. In particular, the unexpected Russian and Chinese support of the – albeit limited - sanctions strategy sent an important political message to the Iranian establishment. The demonstration of a unified international position against Iranian enrichment provoked an internal political debate, which at times reached the point of rebuking President Ahmadinejad’s unnecessary international provocations and rhetoric.
69. At the same time, it is worth noting that the sanctions regime has often served to provide a political cover for the government’s failing policies. As mentioned earlier, some analysts attribute many of the economic drawbacks that Iran is experiencing to the regimes’ own mismanagement of economic policies, rather than the growing international isolation. Furthermore, it should also be emphasized that the nuclear issue has often been used to cater to Iranian nationalism and serves as a unifying factor among different Iranian political strata. It has frequently been pointed out that the nuclear programme today is elevated to an issue of national pride. Some note that sanctioning the programme often provides a strong impetus for national mobilization against what could be perceived as a common enemy in the face of the international community.89
70. Despite the somewhat varying impact of sanctions, experts recommend continuing and strengthening the same approach, and strongly discourage considerations of any type of military intervention as dramatically counter-productive. Only credible diplomatic approaches can provide a solution to the Iranian nuclear stalemate.
4. Recent International Initiatives
71. In this context, several new initiatives have been launched recently to try and resolve the Iranian nuclear crisis. Perhaps the most significant among them was the so-called “freeze for freeze”, also known as the “double freeze”, proposal. The proposal promised a freeze on further sanctions on Iran in exchange for Iranian cessation of new centrifuge installations. Following Iran’s initial interest in the proposal, the first pre-negotiations meeting was convened in Geneva on 19 July 2008. Eventually, Iran rejected the plan on the grounds that the freeze on sanctions was too limited and should be extended to existing sanctions, and that a suspension of its centrifuge installation is unacceptable.
72. Other noteworthy recent initiatives include the concept of multinational ownership and management of nuclear enrichment. Iran has repeatedly voiced its support for an international consortium, on condition that enrichment takes place on Iranian soil. In May 2008, Iran formally tabled with the UN a negotiating proposal calling for the establishment of enrichment and nuclear fuel production consortiums in different parts of the world – including Iran, without, however, indicating that it intended to place its own facilities under international supervision.90
73. With a new American Administration in 2009, new opportunities for engagement with Iran were expected given President Obama’s willingness to hold direct talks with Iran with no preconditions. It is of note, however, that the joint statement issued by the EU-3 plus 3 prior to the March 2009 IAEA Board meeting reiterated past statements, and called on Iran to meet the “requirements” of the IAEA Board of Governors and the UNSC and to implement and ratify the Additional Protocol.91 Similarly, the 1 April 2009 US-Russian joint presdential statement, released during the G20 summit in London, addressed the issue of Iran but did not lay out any new proposals, instead it called on Iran to implement relevant UNSC resolutions.
74. However, the EU-3 plus 3 meeting on 8 April 2009 displayed a renewed commitment to reinvorgate the dual track strategy. In what is considered a major split from the previous US administration’s policy, the Obama Administration announced it would be present at all futher meetings between the EU-3 plus 3 and Iran. As significantly, it was announced that the EU-3 plus 3 were to address an invitation directly to Iran to talks without preconditions.
75. The scheduled talks between EU-3 plus 3 and Iran on 1 October 2009 took place against the backdrop of the revelation that Iran had constructed a previously undisclosed enrichment plant. During the meeting, Iran agreed to open its newly revealed plant near Qom on October 25 2009, and to send some of its enriched uranium abroad to be converted into fuel for a small reactor producing medical isotopes. Senior officials estimate, however, that if Iran possesses secret stockpiles of enriched uranium, the accomplishment would be limited. Although the enriched uranium is considered to represent approximately 1,200 kg; as much as 75 % of Iran’s declared stockpile. Analysts agree that Iran’s agreement to export most of its declared stockpile for processing represents a major accomplishment for the West, reducing Iran’s ability to construct a nuclear weapon quickly and buying more time for negotiations to bear fruit.
D. TEST CASE 2: NUCLEAR AMBITIONS OF DPRK
76. North Korean nuclear infrastructure started taking shape in the 1950s. In 1985 North Korea signed the NPT Treaty, from which it unexpectedly withdrew in 2003. The NPT membership provided the Kim regime with assistance from the Soviet Union, and to some extent from China, on nuclear research, nonetheless its sudden withdrawn did not produce equal sanctions. Following the withdrawal from NPT and the restart of nuclear operations in 2003, South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, and the United States undertook negotiations with Pyongyang known as Six-Party Talks. In 2007, two agreements were reached, which called for the DPRK to shut down, seal and disable its nuclear facility at Yongbyon. In July 2007, the IAEA confirmed that the Yongbyon nuclear facility had been shut down and sealed; on June 2008, North Korea handed over its "complete and correct" declaration of all its nuclear facilities and destroyed the cooling tower of its 5 Mw(e) experimental reactor at Yongbyon. However, the fears of reversibility of the denuclearisation process of 2008 were confirmed in April 2009 with the reactivation of the power plant.
77. In April, North Korea launched a communications satellite carried by a rocket Unha-2 resulting in a technical failure and in a political chain reaction still in motion. The launch generated fears that North Korea is developing long-range missile capability. Following the UN Security Council condemnation, Pyongyang expelled IAEA inspectors and reactivated Yongbyon power plant. In May it performed its second nuclear test (the first having taken place in October 2006) and stated that it would no longer take part in the Six-Party Talks and that it was not bound by any previous agreements92. The response from the UN Security Council was severe and unanimous. In June it passed resolution 1874, with the participation of China, North Korea's most important ally and trade partner. The resolution includes a total ban on North Korean weapons exports and tight controls on its arms imports, to be enforced through inspections of North Korean air, land and sea cargoes. However, the implementation of such a resolution is challenging because it would require timely intelligence sharing. Additionally, cargo searches are a sensitive and dangerous undertaking given the risk of escalation of tension should North Korea resist. To escalate the containment of Kim’s regime, in July the UN Security Council banned travel and froze assets of 10 North Korean individuals and businesses linked to the country's nuclear and ballistic missile programme. North Korea responded with the announcement that it was on the verge of developing nuclear warheads with highly enriched uranium, in addition to plutonium-based nuclear weapon capability.
78. North Korea has conducted numerous missile tests, including several hundred short-range Scud-class and medium range No Dong-class ballistic missiles, and is suspected to be developing an intermediate range ballistic missile93. North Korea is a major exporter of missile technology to various countries including Egypt, Iran, Libya, Pakistan, Syria, and Yemen, thus amplifying international concerns over its technological advancements.
79. North Korea’s intentions surrounding the last nuclear test remain unclear. Speculations on this matter range from gaining concessions from the Obama and L, ee Administrations, to pointing to a power struggle within North Korea for the successor to Kim. However, it seems that Kim's regime has no intention of giving up its nuclear arsenal. Instead, it is currently demanding that it be recognized as a nuclear weapon state, no matter what incentives the outside world may offer94.
80. According to recommendations of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, solutions should be targeted towards specific objectives. If the goal is to contain North Korea’s abilities to advance its arms capability, financial restrictions and tightened arms embargoes on critical items and technologies would be the best answer. If the goal were to contain proliferation and nuclear technology spill over, international responses, such as the Resolution 1874, would serve this purpose95.
III. BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS
81. The threat posed by bioweapons (BW) is often underestimated, possibly because thus far no major incident was registered, apart from the 2001 anthrax attack on the U.S. Congress. However, non-proliferation experts widely believe that it is only a matter of time before such a major incident occurs. In its eminent report, the U.S. Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism concluded that “terrorists are more likely to be able to obtain and use a biological weapon than a nuclear weapon”.
82. The cornerstone of international efforts to curb the proliferation of biological weapons is the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological and Toxin Weapons, also known as the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). It bans the development, production, and acquisition of biological and toxin weapons and the delivery systems designed for their dispersal. The treaty entered into force on 26 March 1975. Currently, there are 163 official state parties to the Convention, while 13 more have signed, but have yet to ratify it. As the first multilateral disarmament treaty to ban the production and use of an entire category of weapons, the BWC is a significant contribution to the development of the international counterproliferation framework. However, as of today, it has failed to guarantee the practical implementation of an effective bioweapons non-proliferation safeguards regime.
83. The BWC has been undercut by its failure to achieve universal membership. There are altogether 19 states which have neither signed nor ratified the Convention. Some notable nonparties are Israel, currently a non-signatory state, and Egypt and Syria, which signed the Convention in 1972 but have not yet ratified it.
84. In addition, the absence of a formal verification regime and an international implementing organization to monitor compliance with the requirements of the Convention has further limited its effectiveness. The inability to establish meaningful verification measures is to a large extent due to the fact that biological activities, equipment, and technology have both peaceful and military applications, making it difficult to discern bioweapons-related activity from legitimate uses in scientific research and commercial industry. Compliance with the Convention is ultimately denoted by the underlying intent to develop sophisticated biotechnology, which cannot be determined with confidence until after the fact. Taking advantage of this ambiguity, the Soviet Union, for instance, was able to clandestinely develop a massive biological weapons production complex, all while being party to the Convention.
85. The need to ensure greater transparency and deter such noncompliance with the Convention has long been recognized by the international community. However, efforts to adopt a legally binding verification mechanism have thus far failed. A process of negotiations on a draft BWC protocol to supplement and strengthen the Convention went on for six years, only to collapse in 2001 after the U.S. pulled out from the talks. Among the reasons for its withdrawal, brought forward by the Bush Administration, were the protocol’s false premise that the Convention was verifiable, and the potential of its intrusive inspection regime to compromise national security information and undermine legitimate commercial activity. While some judge such reasoning as fundamentally sound96, the suspension of negotiations on the protocol weakened the nonproliferation regime, leaving it without an effective enforcement mechanism.
86. As a partial solution state parties have agreed to hold a series of annual intersessional expert and political meetings to discuss and promote common understanding and action on a range of topics to strengthen the Convention. The Sixth Review Conference of the Convention in Geneva in 2006 established an Implementation Support Unit (ISU) to contribute to the goals of ensuring adherence and implementation of the Convention. There are growing expectations of a renewed international effort to strengthen the Convention at the 2011 Review Conference, not least in view of the 2008 election of the new American Administration.97 While nonaligned countries are generally vocal in endorsing a resumption of talks on a compliance mechanism, Western states remain cautious, particularly with regard to the feasibility of establishing effective control measures.98
87. Today, the BWC Confidence-Building Measure (CBM) process is the only formal and potentially universal mechanism for increasing the transparency of biodefense-related activities. However, BWC state parties are politically, but not legally, bound to submit specific data about BWC-relevant activities on an annual basis. Not even half of all parties to the Convention made a CBM submission in 2007, and many of the CBM submissions received were often incomplete or inaccurate.99 Continuing secrecy at some biological research facilities and expanding national biodefense activities continue to raise concerns about BWC compliance. Several Russian biological research facilities are closed to outsiders. Chinese intentions and activities remain opaque. The U.S. government has also expanded its biodefense work, raising concerns that these efforts could further blur the line between permitted and prohibited activities.100 These developments, including past successes at concealment, have raised the threat of bioweapons proliferation.
88. The problem of verifying bio-weapons sensitive activity has further been compounded by the continuing global spread of biological research and the new achievements in biotechnology. The world-wide dissemination of advanced biotechnology and the weak BWC enforcement mechanisms have significantly raised the risks of misuse of biotechnology by non-state parties. Current proliferation and bioterror threat assessments point to the fact that, even though work with dangerous pathogens and toxins is expanding rapidly, relatively few countries have implemented strong pathogen and laboratory security and biosafety measures.101 Many countries, particularly in the developing world, lack even basic safety and security regulations or the means to implement them. Law enforcers remain insufficiently authorized, trained or equipped to carry out necessary tasks to prevent biological crimes.102 Although, it is estimated that no terror groups have yet successfully obtained an operational capability to carry out a mass casualty attack, many, including Al Qaeda, are known to have sought to acquire and use biological or toxin weapons.103
89. Yet, efforts to advance global action against bioterrorism face significant political and economic challenges, including differences in national priorities and capabilities. In the West, bioterrorism remains a primary concern. However, in most developing countries, primary concerns are the risks to human and animal health from natural disease outbreaks. Developing countries thus tend to resist counter-bioterrorism initiatives that might impede or divert resources from efforts to strengthen public health and agriculture.104 Such policies obstruct the development of effective biodefense capabilities.
90. The challenge of reducing biological risks is also complicated by the increasing importance of the private sector and academia in biotechnology and the life sciences. Engaging these nonstate actors is critical, but many participants in industry and academia do not appreciate stringent oversight. The drafting of concrete guidelines for scientists involved in such a broad research area has proved difficult and at present no clear procedures, structures, or support systems exist for addressing the problem of dual-use research in the life sciences.105 Despite the fact that the 2005 and 2008 intersession meetings of the BWC parties were devoted to the content, promulgation and adoption of codes of conduct for scientists, no formal codes were produced.106 In fact, some claim that it is not realistic to believe that a single broad code can be enacted and suggest that state parties focus on creating a narrower set of guidelines and appropriate oversight mechanisms that would govern small groups of scientists in national biodefense research programmes.107
91. Several focus areas have been emphasized for the future development of effective biodefense capabilities. They include the fostering of a “culture of security awareness” within the life sciences community to prevent the misuse of biology for warfare or terrorism; and the development of medical countermeasures, public information strategies and disease surveillance systems to help mitigate the consequences in the case of a bioterror attack.108 The development of microbial forensics, which can help identify the perpetrators of a bioterror attack and their accomplices, has also been noted as a potentially important deterrent of bioterrorism.109 Currently, a focal point of international efforts to counter bioterrorism is the WHO’s (World Health Organisation) Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network. However, its role is largely one of coordination, which is why infectious disease surveillance and response capabilities at the national, regional, and international levels remain fragmented, uneven, and inadequately staffed.110 More needs to be done to streamline international surveillance and response capabilities.111 Most recently, as part of the UN’s Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) began developing an online Biological Incident Database (BID). To assist Member States in preventing and combating terrorism, BID categorizes the causes of disease outbreaks as natural, accidental or deliberate. It provides a platform for information sharing, fostering a better understanding of the range of biological incidents as well as past responses and lessons learned.112 As no such international comprehensive resource database previously existed, the BID is an important step towards global biodefense capacity building.
92. Chemical weapons (CW) are perhaps the least lethal category of WMD, but they have been employed much more frequently than nuclear or biological weapons. CW, although hardly a weapon of mass destruction in the true sense, can still inflict serious suffering and cause death. Chemical agents such as VX, sarin gas, hydrogen cyanide, mustard, lewisite, chlorine and phosgene can paralyse, choke, burn, blind and cause other, sometimes lethal, effects on a human body. Revolutionary breakthroughs in biochemistry and nanotechnology can also encourage development of new generations of more toxic and destructive CW.
93. CW were widely used in World War I, and – despite the 1925 Geneva Protocol prohibiting their use – in a number of subsequent local conflicts, most notably the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. Major military powers refrained from using CW during World War II and the Cold War, but they have accumulated vast stockpiles of these weapons. Destruction of these stockpiles is the key objective of the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The Convention enjoys nearly universal adherence, with a few notable exceptions, including North Korea, Syria, Egypt and Israel.
94. Under the terms of CWC, six nations declared the volume of their CW stockpiles and committed to destroying them within certain deadlines and in a safe and environmentally friendly manner, under supervision of the CWC verification body, the Organisation for the Prohibition of the Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Some of these six nations have already either achieved their CW destruction targets or are very close. However, the two countries possessing 90% of the global CW stockpile – Russia and the United States – are very unlikely to meet their deadline of April 2012. As of January 2009, the United States has destroyed roughly 16 thousand tonnes (almost 60%) of their Category I (most dangerous) CW. The United States now plans to eliminate its CW arsenal by 2017. With Russia, the situation is even less encouraging – only 12 thousand tonnes (less than 30%) of their vast stockpile has been destroyed so far. The pivotal Shchuchye facility, built in co-operation with the U.S., started operation in March this year, but it still appears highly unlikely that Russia will achieve its destruction targets within the next decade.
95. CW are generally considered obsolete in modern warfare; they cannot serve as an effective deterrent. Politically major military powers agree on complete elimination of this type of weapons. The slow pace of chemical disarmament is related to technological, financial and administrative impediments rather than political obstacles. Eradication of CW on a large scale has begun already in the wake of World War II, when large volumes of CW (particularly those captured by the Allies in Germany) were buried at the bottom of the sea.
96. Unfortunately, like the NPT, CWC also faces a similar disagreement over priorities between the industrial and developing nations. The latter emphasise the need to step up destruction of the world’s largest CW stockpiles. Iranian diplomats insist on describing any violation of the 2012 deadline by Russia and the U.S. “as a clear case of serious noncompliance”, which has to be punished accordingly. Developing nations also call for a ban on new “non-lethal” weapon research and production in the West and in Russia.113 Western countries, on the other hand, believe that more OPCW capabilities should be directed to monitoring the chemical industry in unpredictable countries (currently OPWC uses 80% of its verification budget to monitor CW destruction and 20% to inspect chemical industry114). They are also concerned that North Korea and Syria refuse to sign CWC. Both of these countries are suspected of having CW capability, possibly as a means to strengthen their position vis-à-vis South Korea and Israel respectively. Syria, as well as Egypt, insists on linking chemical disarmament with nuclear in the Middle East, referring to Israel’s alleged nuclear weapon capability. International efforts to separate these two areas have proved fruitless thus far. Recently, Jane’s Intelligence Review journal published satellite images showing that Syria recently embarked upon a new CW programme, building more sophisticated CW storage facilities and deploying and adapting Scud missiles within the CW complex.115
97. Terrorist groups have shown interest in CW, mainly due to the relative ease of acquiring the necessary precursors that are widely used in commercial chemical plants. Moreover, certain types of de facto CW are used legally by police and special forces, mainly for riot control. Some of these substances can have lethal effects, as was visibly demonstrated during the ill-fated hostage crisis in a Moscow theatre in 2002. The use of an incapacitating gas, based on the drug fentanyl, by Russian Special Forces units killed hundreds of people. The danger posed by CW as a tool of terror became evident after the Tokyo subway incident in 1995, when a religious sect, Aum Shinrikyo, dispersed sarin gas, killing 12 people and injuring several dozens. In March 2007, insurgents in Iraq reportedly used chlorine gas in one of their attacks.116 Incidents involving chemical agents are still rare and have yet to draw substantial public attention, but the further spread of chemical industry and emergence of new revolutionary techniques will considerably increase the probability of a major CW attack.
98. Between 1946 and 1972, some 300,000 tonnes of chemical weapons are estimated to have been tossed over the sides of ships.117 However, the full extent of this dumping is unlikely to ever be known, due mainly to inadequate documentation of operations at the time of dumping and the subsequent loss or destruction of records that may have been taken. This method raises serious environmental concerns. Although there are disagreements over some of the details of chemical breakdown under various seabed conditions, it is clear that the munitions are subject to corrosion effects rendering them fragile or even resulting in leakage of CW agents.118 Moreover, there is evidence to suggest that certain types of explosive can become extremely unstable with the passage of time. 119
99. The issue is global in nature, and has the potential to affect many littoral nations. Indeed, chemical weapons and other surplus munitions were dumped in many of the world’s large bodies of water, including the Baltic Sea, the North Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Indian Ocean, the North Sea, the North and South Pacific Oceans, the Tasman Sea, and the White Sea. The high financial cost (and possible political uncertainties) associated with any recovery or remediation effort continues to inhibit the willingness and ability of states to take action. Moreover, technical specialists generally recommend that dumpsites not be disturbed until or unless there is a compelling reason to do so.120
A. ON NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION
100. Non-proliferation experts have come up with a number of practical suggestions that could enhance the NPT and ensure the success of the 2010 Review Conference. Your Rapporteur wishes to commend the following ideas:
* Achieve tangible progress on the entry into force of CTBT and FMCT as well as on the replacement for START;
101. In addition to the NPT itself, a number of measures need to be taken to strengthen its watchdog, the IAEA. The report by the Non-proliferation Policy Education Center, led by a prominent U.S. non-proliferation expert Henry D. Sokolski, provides useful guidance in this regard. Among other things, the report suggests the following:
* Reversing existing rules in a way that would require nations in question to prove the innocence of their nuclear programmes, rather than tasking the IAEA to prove their guilt. Should the Agency come to a conclusion that it is unable to confirm compliance, the country-neutral sanctions would automatically come into the effect. This approach is also strongly promoted by Pierre Goldschmidt, former IAEA Deputy Director and head of the Department of Safeguards.
102. With regard to the case of Iran, analysis of the evolution of Iranian negotiating positions seems to point to a conclusion that the more Iran managed to expand its nuclear programme, the less co-operative it has become in accepting any negotiation demands for suspension of its nuclear enrichment activity. As Iranian capabilities improve, analysts predict that a rollback of the programme will no longer be possible. Many observers therefore argue for accepting enrichment in exchange for intrusive inspections and full transparency and judge that a prolongation of the current approach would only allow Iran to continue to develop its enrichment capability without sufficient safeguards being put in place.121 Others, however, underline that offering a fallback option that legitimises enrichment in Iran could pose proliferation risks. Mark Fitzpatrick, in IISS’s November 2008 report, notes that the non-proliferation benefits of intrusive IAEA inspections would be offset by the increased potential for break-out as a result of Iranian access to technology and experience of production. In addition, conferring legitimacy to the enrichment programme, according to the report, would significantly weaken the West’s negotiating position. Moreover, legitimising enrichment in Iran could contribute to a regional proliferation cascade.
103. Based on these considerations, it appears that any technical solution demanding less than complete cessation of enrichment and full transparency at the present moment would not be sufficient to guarantee the prevention of Iranian nuclear armament but could simply drive it underground or postpone it to a future date. The only permanent resolution to the crisis would thus be to find a political compromise that would promote a strategic decision by Iranian leadership not to seek nuclear weapons.
104. North Korean nuclear progress raises international concerns for its effects on the balance of power in the region and the fear of trans-national nuclear technology spill over, therefore necessitating a firm response from the international community. After the adoption of the Resolution 1874, the key challenge is to ensure its full implementation. The application of financial restrictions and tightened arms embargoes on critical items and technologies would also be useful to contain North Korean nuclear advancements.
B. ON BIOLOGICAL AND CHEMICAL WEAPONS
105. The following suggestions are commended:
* Seek universal adherence to both Treaties – BWC and CWC, and decouple that process from broader geopolitical considerations;