This bulletin, posted on Fridays, highlights significant events in the world of arms control in the coming week, as compiled by staff and friends of the Arms Control Association. (Send suggestions for events to be covered here.)
– Jefferson Morley, Senior Editorial Consultant, Arms Control Today
Missile Defense Faces July Test
The Missile Defense Agency is expected to perform the next flight test for its troubled “Ground-based Mid-course” interceptor system sometime in July. The results will highlight the state of U.S. missile defense systems. In March, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced the Pentagon would redirect funding to field an additional 14 ground-based interceptors in Alaska by 2017 to address rising nuclear and missile threats from North Korea, if the system passes flight tests.
“Target malfunctions” have plagued U.S. missile defense efforts in recent years, according to a May 2013 report from the Center for Public Integrity.
Former Pentagon test evaluator Phil Coyle noted that, “More than $90 billion has been spent since 2002 to develop the means to target incoming threats and intercept them, but without much demonstrated success.”
Background: “U.S. Missile Defense Programs At-A-Glance,” ACA Fact Sheet, June 2013.
IAEA Meets on Road to 2014 Nuclear Summit
The IAEA conference on nuclear security opens in Vienna on Monday, July 1. According to a June 24 news analysis in Reuters, the draft ministerial statement issued in advance of the meeting “looked unlikely to satisfy those who advocate stronger international action to ensure that potential nuclear bomb material does not fall into the wrong hands.”
The five-day conference is not intended to prepare for the 2014 Nuclear Summit to be held in the Netherlands but its work will cover similar issues.
Analysis: On July 1 in Vienna, the Arms Control Association and the Partnership for Global Security will release a report on the status of Nuclear Security Summit process. Look for it at www.armscontrol.org.
NPT’s Approaching Mid-Life Crisis?
July 1 marks the 45th anniversary of the signing of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) at ceremonies in Washington, Moscow, and London on July 1, 1968. Since then nearly 190 countries have signed and ratified the treaty aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.
The NPT’s relevance is under challenge. In May 2010, 189 signatory countries endorsed steps for strengthening the NPT, including for the first time 15 years, a call for establishing a zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Middle East. But in April, Egypt walked out of a meeting of NPT countries to protest the lack of progress toward a convening conference aimed a creating a WMD-free zone in the region.
Background: “Looking Back: The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Then and Now,” by former NPT negotiator George Bunn and John Rhinelander in Arms Control Today, August 2008.