Friday, August 29, 2008

Post-NSG U.S.-India Nuclear Deal Update

On August 21 and 22, the NSG held its first extraordinary plenary session to discuss a U.S.-sponsored waiver to exempt India from international rules barring nuclear trade with countries that do not accept full-scope safeguards over all of their nuclear facilities. Below is a summary and analysis of what transpired.

Opposition widespread

Much to its chagrin, India’s demand for a “clean” and “unconditional” exemption from NSG guidelines was not nearly as uncontroversial as India hoped it would be. All told, 20 countries objected to one or more aspects of the proposed waiver. According to Phil Goff, New Zealand’s Minister of Disarmament and Arms Control, “Around 50 amendments have been proposed to the original text, with many countries speaking in favour of amendments.”

New Zealand was part of a group of six “like-minded” states that led the charge in expressing numerous reservations with the proposed waiver. The other members of this group (hereafter “the Group of six”) included Austria, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Switzerland. In a joint opening statement, they declared their intention to increase “the level of comfort with the proposed exemption,” by introducing “substantive amendments…based on concepts already enshrined in UN Security Council Resolutions, in domestic legislation of NSG Participating Governments and in bilateral nuclear supply agreements which NSG Participating Governments have concluded over the years.”

Based on the accounts offered by diplomats who attended the two-day session, the proposed amendments would provide for three key conditions: 1) the periodic review of India’s compliance with its nonproliferation commitments, 2) a prohibition on the export of uranium enrichment and reprocessing of spent-fuel technologies, and 3) the immediate termination of the waiver if India conducts a nuclear test. If these provisions sound familiar, it is because they are. As one EU diplomat put it, "it's fair to say the issues raised follow closely in line with what is in the Hyde Act."

Despite some reports to the contrary, the Group of Six did not insist that India to sign the NPT or CTBT as a precondition for an exemption. “While New Zealand remains a strong advocate of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and would welcome India’s accession to these treaties,” said Goff in press conference earlier this week, “we have not included these elements in our package of proposals.”

India blames the U.S.?

India appears to be genuinely shocked by what transpired at the NSG last week. Eager to capitalize on the inability of the ruling Congress-party led governing coalition to deliver a clean and unconditional waiver, the Hindu nationalist BJP, the main opposition party in the Indian parliament, characterized the August 21-22 session as “fiasco that is the result of shoddy homework.”

Yet the emerging consensus in New Delhi seems to be that the United States didn’t do enough to make India’s case. “Things are really very clear,” said a senior Indian official after the NSG failed to approve an exemption for India. “There was an agreement in 2005 in which we both made certain commitments. We have delivered on all of ours. Now the Americans have to deliver the NSG…not us.”

Hindu correspondent and blogger extraordinaire Siddharth Varadarajan argues that the U.S. purposely avoided lobbying on India’s behalf:

At the NSG…all world powers were active supporters of the India initiative (Russia, France, Britain), passive supporters (Japan, Germany and Canada) or neutral (China). With this degree of policy coherence at the great power level, there was no way a sincere [sic] American effort to deliver a clean and unconditional waiver for India would have run aground. What happened at Vienna, however, was a coordinated attack in which the smaller states were encouraged to do Washington’s business for it.
At least one NSG diplomat corroborates Varadarajan’s charge:
The U.S. was quite inactive in lobbying countries with known concerns about the deal before the Aug 21-22 meeting….Their failure to lobby actively may well have been because they were hoping to use other countries to do their dirty work, and insert conditions they were not in a position to insert themselves because they feared the likely reaction from India.
What’s next?

Having failed to secure an exemption during the August 21-22 session, the NSG is scheduled to meet for a second session beginning on September 4. The U.S. is working on a revised waiver proposal that will have to balance the nonproliferation concerns of the Group of Six and India’s desire for a clean and unconditional exemption.

What might such an revised exemption look like? According to M.V. Ramana, a nuclear expert at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Environment and Development (CISED), Bangalore, India,
The US will probably try to persuade India to accept at least one of the three proposed conditions, namely, exclusion of enrichment and reprocessing technology….It is hard to say if India will agree to this while accepting a periodic review of its non-proliferation commitments and cessation of cooperation in case of an Indian nuclear test…..But it seems even more unlikely…that the NSG dissenters will be satisfied with such a modified draft.
Despite the U.S.’s best efforts to persuade the Group of Six to soften its stance, there is not yet any indication that Group is prepared to back away from the core concerns it raised during the first NSG session. Here’s to hoping that that remains the case through the September 4-5 session.

In sum, the ball appears to be in India’s court: either it accepts some meaningful conditions or it does not. If it does not, it can either walk away from the U.S.-India nuclear deal or try its luck in a third extraordinary plenary session. A third session would almost certainly prevent the U.S. Congress from taking action on the deal before the Bush administration leaves office.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Missile Defense Monitor: Kirk's Proposed Missile Defense Amendment

Staying on the theme of Republicans who want to use the Russian invasion of Georgia to bolster support for the need for a third missile defense site in Europe, Congressman Mark Kirk (R-IL) intends to “offer an amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill to fully restore funding cuts to the Missile Defense Agency's budget for the deployment of U.S. Ballistic Missile Defenses to Poland and the Czech Republic.” His (flawed) reasoning?

"As Russian ballistic missiles rain down on Georgia, we should honor our commitment to allies in Poland and the Czech Republic that asked for our help," said Kirk, a member of the Appropriations Committee and a U.S. Navy intelligence officer.

"To maintain regional stability and protect our NATO allies, Congress should honor this request from our allies who are concerned about Russia’s invasion of Georgia."

"In May, the United States had not reached an official agreement with either Poland or the Czech Republic on the deployment of our missile defenses," Kirk noted. "Today, the Polish and Czech requests are formal after Russian missiles hit targets in Georgia. Congress should support the requests of the Polish and Czech people to have these defenses."
Expect to see most Republicans and some conservative Democrats in both the House and Senate declare their support for such amendments as they mark up and debate their respective versions of the FY 09 defense appropriations bill next month.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Missile Defense Monitor: How the conflict in the South Caucuses is impacting Congressional views on missile defense

Last week, I noted that some Republican lawmakers have indicated that they intend to use Russia’s invasion of Georgia to overturn the funding and construction restrictions imposed by the Democratic-led Congress on the Bush administration’s proposal to place a missile defense system in Europe.

According to CQ’s Josh Rogin, Senate Republicans are already all but declaring victory:

Appropriators and Armed Services panels in both the House and Senate had conditioned funding for the European sites on four major elements. They include ratification of the agreements by the Czech and Polish Polish parliaments, which could occur by the end of the year; a required analysis of alternatives by an independent research group, which was was completed and sent to Congress in July, and certification by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates that the missile defense system can actually shoot down incoming missiles.

“Every objection has been addressed and every demand raised by the Democrats has now been met,” said Senate Armed Services panel member James M. Inhofe , R-Okla. “It is now left to Congress to act swiftly in fully funding the European site.”

Added one Senate GOP aide: “Republicans will think they have a very strong hand now. They’re argument will be that NATO wants it, Poland wants it, the Czech Republic wants it, so why don’t the Democrats want it?”
Except that every objection has not been addressed and every demand raised by the Democrats has not been met. First, neither the Czech nor the Polish parliaments have approved the agreements. While parliamentary approval appears likely in Poland (both the government and the lead opposition party support the deal), Czech parliamentary approval remains in doubt. Czech officials hope to submit the agreement to the Czech parliament sometime in November, although some analysts maintain that the deal will not be voted on until 2010.

Second, someone should duly inform Senator Inhofe that the system has yet to be tested. According to an October 2007 report by Dr. Charles McQueary, the Department of Defense's Director, Operational Test & Evaluation “the effectiveness of the European assets cannot be assumed.” A robust test program of the system consisting of at least three flight tests is necessary for any determination of operational effectiveness.

The Missile Defense Agency hopes to complete all three tests by 2010. Yet tests of the existing U.S.-based system have frequently been delayed, in some cases for many months. In addition, given that only 7 of the previous 13 tests of this system have been successful, more than three tests could be required to confirm the system's operational effectiveness.

Encouragingly, House Democrats appear to be standing firm. In the words of House Strategic Forces Subcommittee Chairwoman Representative Ellen O. Tauscher (D-CA):
The events in Georgia have nothing to do with the interceptors the U.S. is considering deploying in Poland, and Congress believes that this system is untested and fails to defend against current and emerging threats….Congress will not be funding an untested system, period.”

Friday, August 22, 2008

Missile Defense Monitor

Big news on the missile defense front this week as Poland and the United States signed a missile defense agreement. For an assessment of what it all means, check out this analysis I just published on the Center's website.

Also, Center Executive Director John Isaacs appeared on the Newshour with Jim Lehrer on Wednesday to discuss the agreement. A transcript, audio, and video of Isaac's appearance can be found here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

2008 Democratic Party Platform on Nuke and Nonpro Issues

The final 2008 Democratic Party platform, as approved by the Platform Committee at its meeting on August 9, was recently floated around. (To my knowledge, the Republican Platform Committee so far has not circulated a final version.) Provided below are the relevant portions on nuclear weapons and other nonproliferation issues.

Preventing the Spread and Use of Weapons of Mass Destruction

We will urgently seek to reduce dramatically the risks from three potentially catastrophic threats: nuclear weapons, biological attacks, and cyber warfare. In an age of terrorism, these dangers take on new dimensions. Nuclear, biological, and cyber attacks all pose the potential for largescale damage and destruction to our people, to our economy and to our way of life. The capacity to inflict such damage is spreading not only to other countries, but also potentially to terrorist groups.

A World Without Nuclear Weapons

America will seek a world with no nuclear weapons and take concrete actions to move in this direction. We face the growing threat of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons or the materials to make them, as more countries seek nuclear weapons and nuclear materials remain unsecured in too many places. As George Shultz, Bill Perry, Henry Kissinger, and Sam Nunn have warned, current measures are not adequate to address these dangers. We will maintain a strong and reliable deterrent as long as nuclear weapons exist, but America will be safer in a world that is reducing reliance on nuclear weapons and ultimately eliminates all of them. We will make the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons worldwide a central element of U.S. nuclear weapons policy.

Secure Nuclear Weapons and the Materials to Make Them

We will work with other nations to secure, eliminate, and stop the spread of nuclear weapons and materials to dramatically reduce the dangers to our nation and the world. There are nuclear weapons materials in 40 countries, and we will lead a global effort to work with other countries to secure all nuclear weapons material at vulnerable sites within four years. We will work with nations to increase security for nuclear weapons. We will convene a summit in 2009 (and regularly thereafter) of leaders of Permanent Members of the U.N. Security Council and other key countries to agree on implementing many of these measures on a global basis.

End the Production of Fissile Material

We will negotiate a verifiable global ban on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. We will work to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons technology so that countries cannot build–or come to the brink of building–a weapons program under the guise of developing peaceful nuclear power. We will seek to double the International Atomic Energy Agency’s budget, support the creation of an IAEA-controlled nuclear fuel bank to guarantee fuel supply to countries that do not build enrichment facilities, and work to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

End Cold War Nuclear Postures

To enhance our security and help meet our commitments under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, we will seek deep, verifiable reductions in United States and Russian nuclear weapons and work with other nuclear powers to reduce global stockpiles dramatically. We will work with Russia to take as many weapons as possible off Cold War, quick-launch status, and extend key provisions of the START Treaty, including its essential monitoring and verification requirements. We will not develop new nuclear weapons, and will work to create a bipartisan consensus to support ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which will strengthen the NPT and aid international monitoring of nuclear activities.

Prevent Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Weapons

The world must prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. That starts with tougher sanctions and aggressive, principled, and direct high-level diplomacy, without preconditions. We will pursue this strengthened diplomacy alongside our European allies, and with no illusions about the Iranian regime. We will present Iran with a clear choice: if you abandon your nuclear weapons program, support for terror, and threats to Israel, you will receive meaningful incentives; so long as you refuse, the United States and the international community will further ratchet up the pressure, with stronger unilateral sanctions; stronger multilateral sanctions inside and outside the U.N. Security Council, and sustained action to isolate the Iranian regime. The Iranian people and the international community must know that it is Iran, not the United States, choosing isolation over cooperation. By going the extra diplomatic mile, while keeping all options on the table, we make it more likely the rest of the world will stand with us to increase pressure on Iran, if diplomacy is failing.

De-Nuclearize North Korea

We support the belated diplomatic effort to secure a verifiable end to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and to fully account for and secure any fissile material or weapons North Korea has produced to date. We will continue direct diplomacy and are committed to working with our partners through the six-party talks to ensure that all agreements are fully implemented in the effort to achieve a verifiably nuclear-free Korean peninsula.

Biological and Chemical Weapons

We will strengthen U.S. intelligence collection overseas to identify and interdict would-be bioterrorists before they strike. We will also build greater capacity to mitigate the consequences of bio-terror attacks, ensuring that the federal government does all it can to get citizens the information and resources they need to help protect themselves and their families. We will accelerate the development of new medicines, vaccines, and production capabilities, and lead an international effort to detect and diminish the impact of major infectious disease epidemics. And we will fully fund our contribution to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and work to ensure that remaining stockpiles of chemical weapons are destroyed swiftly, safely, and securely.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Center’s Alan Pearson to Blog from International Meeting on Biological Weapons

Dr. Alan Pearson, Director of the Biological and Chemical Weapons Control Program at the Center, is attending and blogging from the 2008 Meeting of Experts of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) in Geneva all this week.

Click here to read his daily updates on the Center’s website.

The meeting will focus on the oversight and regulation of biodefense and other research in the life sciences, as well as measures to improve biosafety and biosecurity. These politically contentious issues have gained renewed attention in the United States following the FBI’s conclusion that the 2001 anthrax attacks were an inside job by Army biodefense researcher Bruce Ivins.

Background information on the BWC is available here, while information on key issues addressed at previous meetings is here.

And, of course, to learn more about the Center’s Biological and Chemical Weapons Control Program, click here.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Reflections on the U.S. Proposal to Exempt India from NSG Guidelines

Last week, the Bush administration began circulating its proposal to exempt India from NSG rules barring nuclear trade with countries that do no accept full-scope safeguards over all of their nuclear facilities. Much like most other aspects of the U.S.-India nuclear deal, the proposal is a nightmare. As ACA Executive Director Daryl Kimball puts it:

The Bush administration’s proposed India-specific exemption is a nonproliferation disaster that could effectively end the NSG as a meaningful entity.
Amazingly (or perhaps more accurately, not surprisingly) the proposal is even weaker than the pre-decisional draft circulated by the U.S. in 2006. The Hindu’s Siddharth Varadarajan provides a nice summary of the key differences:
Gone is the paragraph calling on NSG members to strive for the earliest possible placement of all Indian nuclear facilities under international supervision. Gone also is the conditionality that had been built into the earlier draft, wherein nuclear sales were allowed so long as member states were satisfied India continued fully to meet its non-proliferation commitments. The proposed NSG exemption is still linked to India abiding by its commitments, but not in a way that could conceivably allow for immediate suspension of supplies in case an individual member believes India has reneged on its promises. Further, India’s adherence to future NSG guidelines has been qualified, albeit indirectly, by linking implementation to its participation in the decision-making process, and Indian access to dual-use items — regulated by Part 2 of the NSG’s guidelines — has now explicitly been brought in.
The draft guidelines do not exclude enrichment and reprocessing equipment. And they make no reference to a cut-off mechanism in case of any action by India, though there is a new reference to the maintenance of “contact and consultation” by NSG members “on matters connected with the implementation of the Guidelines taking into account relevant international commitments and bilateral agreements by India.”
India has demanded a “clean” and “unconditional” exemption and that is exactly what the U.S. proposal would give it. Of course, such an exemption flagrantly contravenes the conditions and restrictions contained in the Hyde Act. Which begs the question: Why has the Bush administration been so quick to cave to India’s demands? I’ve encountered four different interpretations (not all of which are mutually exclusive):
1. The Bush administration actually believes that the exemption is absolutely consistent with U.S. law.

2. Cognizant of the significant opposition to the deal within Indian domestic politics, the Bush administration is hesitant to do anything (e.g. insist that the terms of the exemption comport with the Hyde Act) that could compromise Prime Minister Singh’s tenuous hold on power or otherwise derail the deal.

3. According to diplomats from certain NSG member states, the Bush administration is circulating a weak proposal as “a tactical U.S. move to overcome India's aim to win a ‘clean and unconditional’ waiver by prompting resistance from NSG states.” Varadarajan also sees such a strategy at work.

4. The Bush administration is pushing for a clean exemption at the NSG as a way to force Congress to undo the conditions contained in the Hyde Act. The idea here, says Center for American Progress National Security Analyst Andy Grotto, is that “by getting the NSG to approve an exemption devoid of conditions, the administration sets up the Congress as the obstacle standing before American industry doing business with India while the French and the Russian nuclear industries go on a feeding frenzy there.” Thus, “there is no way the U.S. Congress will allow French and Russian companies to get all the contracts-and the Bush administration knows it.”
In any event, the proposal is generating strong opposition from several NSG member states. Here’s to hoping that it is enough to derail the deal.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Missile Defense Monitor: Missile Defense and the Military Industrial Complex

According to a disclosure form filed on July 21 with the House clerk's office, defense contractor and aerospace firm Raytheon spent nearly $1.5 million lobbying various government institutions on a variety of issues, including ballistic missile defense.

Kind of reminds me of what a Cold-War era President once warned against:

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Leonor Tomero on the Future of GNEP

The Center’s Leonor Tomero recently published an excellent article in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists Online on the future of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP).

Tomero argues:

The rush to expand nuclear energy has resulted in many ad hoc developments, an increased interest in sensitive nuclear technologies, and a weakening of rules governing nuclear trade. GNEP has exacerbated the risk of nuclear proliferation while many other proposals do not offer a foolproof solution. Clear rules and a careful, concerted international approach to limit proliferation are needed. Although Congress has slowed GNEP's implementation, it may already be too late (or at least too difficult) to convince non-nuclear weapon countries to give up their nuclear ambitions. Yet, halting the spread of sensitive nuclear technologies and establishing a fair international system--rather than encouraging a system of haves and have-nots--will be crucial to ensuring that the risks associated with an expansion of nuclear power remain manageable.

Click here for the full article.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Hiroshima Remembered

Sixty-three years ago today, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima Japan, the first ever use of such a weapon. The components for the bomb had recently completed a 5,000 mile journey aboard the USS Indianapolis from San Francisco to the island of Tinian in the Pacific Ocean. Unloaded and assembled to form “Little Boy,” the bomb was then loaded aboard the Enola Gay, which dropped it on Hiroshima, killing an estimated 140,000 people. The nuclear Pandora’s Box had been opened forever.

Click below to watch a portion of the BBC’s documentary, “Hiroshima,” which recreates that fateful morning. The clip also includes first-hand accounts from Hibakusha (survivors of the bombing) and the crew of the Enola Gay, as well as the footage of the bombing as seen from the plane.

The BBC has made available a number of other clips from the documentary, including: Truman's Ultimatum, Preparing for Take-Off, The Destroyer of Worlds, Dropping the Bomb, and Chaos & Debris.

Newsreel coverage of the bombing at the time can be found here. Described by a disturbingly excited narrator, it includes footage filmed by the Japanese the day after the bombing as well as footage of Hiroshima a year later.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

European Missile Defense Update

Last week, the Center released an update on missile defense in Europe. Authored by NoH's own Kingston Reif, the report concludes that two recent developments have all but ensured that the "third site" will not be completed by the Bush administration's 2013 target date, and that it will fall to the next President to determine the fate of the European deployment.

First, the Czech and Polish governments are still far from giving final approval to place elements of the U.S. missile defense system on their territories. The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act passed by Congress included a provision limiting construction on the third site until the Polish and Czech governments give final approval.

Second, unlike U.S. missile defense interceptors currently deployed in Alaska and California, which are powered by three-stage booster rockets, the interceptors planned for Europe will have only two stages. The two-stage configuration has yet to be tested, and many experts have expressed concerns about its readiness for realistic combat scenarios.

According to a report released by Dr. Charles McQueary, the Department of Defense's Director, Operational Test & Evaluation, a robust test program of the system consisting of at least three flight tests is necessary for any determination of operational effectiveness. Initially, Bush administration officials ignored the Dr. McQueary's assessment and continued to maintain that the two-stage interceptor only required two tests.

Reif's full report can be found here.

Monday, August 4, 2008

National Security Legislative Wrap-Up

Congress has recessed for the summer and the two political conventions. It next returns to business on September 8. Last week, the House Defense Appropriations Committee completed its mark-up, or writing, of the Fiscal Year 2009 Defense Appropriations bill. The only details available at this time are listed in a committee press release. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed a motion to bring up the Fiscal Year 2009 Defense Authorization bill (already passed by the House), but was blocked by Republicans who insisted on a vote first on off-shore drilling for oil. On September 8, there is another vote scheduled on bringing up the Defense Authorization bill. With only three weeks of session scheduled for September, it is still less-than-certain that the authorization bill will ever be brought up.



On July 30, the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee marked up the bill. While details will remain scarce until the full Appropriations Committee considers the bill in September, the subcommittee approved $487.7 billion, $4 billion below the President's request and $28.4 billion above the Fiscal Year 2008 enacted level. There is no funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is contained in the already approved Supplemental Appropriations Bill. The bill requires a report from the Secretary of Defense on his plans to close the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prison.


On July 16, the House approved the Fiscal Year 2009 State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs appropriations bill. On July 17, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the bill. Both bills provide $36.6 billion in funding and represent the largest component of the Fiscal Year 2009 International Affairs Budget. When combined with the proposed $1.3 billion in funding for the International Food Aid Programs (Agriculture Appropriations) and $300 million for the Global AIDS Fund (HHS-Labor Appropriations), total spending for the FY09 International Affairs Budget will be $38.2 billion. This spending level represents a $1.6 billion reduction from the Administration's request and a $4 billion increase or 11% increase over FY08 base spending levels.


As the bill tends to take up to two weeks of Senate floor time, the measure has been put off until September -- and many never be considered by the Senate. Majority Leader Harry Reid tried twice to bring up a motion to proceed to the bill, but the motion was blocked by Republicans insisting that the Senate vote first on drilling for off-shore oil. The 51 - 39 vote on July 31 on the motion to proceed was nine votes short of the required 60 votes.