Week Ahead March 10-17: Budget Details; Ukraine & New START; P5+1/Iran Talks Resume

The following are some of the key arms control dates and developments to watch in the coming week. WeekAheadSOLO

For more news and analysis on these and other weapons-related security issues, consider subscribing to ACA’s monthly journal Arms Control Today, which is available in print/digital and digital-only editions.

- the Editors at Arms Control Today

March 11: OMB Releases Details on Fiscal 2015 Budget Request

The Office of Management and Budget is due to provide additional program specific details regarding the annual federal budget through the OMB website. Based on details that emerged from last week’s initial budget roll out, the Obama administration’s budget request calls for increased funding for projects to replace U.S. nuclear weapons delivery systems and it reduces funding for key nuclear nonproliferation programs.

For an analysis of the Pentagon budget request for nuclear weapons delivery systems and options for reducing costs, see “The Nuclear Triad, for Less,” by Tom Z. Collina.

March 12: President Obama Meets with Ukrainian PM Yatsnyuk at the White House

President Barack Obama will meet this week with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk in a show of U.S. support for Ukraine’s fledgling new government. According to the White House, the Yatsenyuk meeting will focus on options to peacefully resolve Russia’s military invention in the Ukrainian region of Crimea.

NOTE: Ukraine Crisis and New START

In another potentially escalation of the Ukraine situation, Russian media reports published March 9 suggest that Russia’s Ministry of Defense is prepared to suspend receiving inspection teams as required under the 2010 New START Treaty because of “groundless threats to Russia from the U.S. and NATO regarding its Ukrainian policy are considered by us as an unfriendly gesture and allow to declare force majuere.”

According to the Part Five, Section IX of the Protocol of the New START Treaty, the only basis for the cancellation of inspections are “circumstances brought about by force majuere,” which is an event that is a result of the elements of nature, as opposed to one caused by human behavior.

As Tony Blinken, President  Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser, said on Meet the Press March 9, ceasing inspections as required by New START would be “a serious development.”

Such a step, if pursued by the Russian Federation, could threaten to unravel New START at a very critical time.

Week of March 17: P5+1 and Iran Political Directors Resume Nuclear Talks

Talks will resume in Vienna, Austria on a final phase agreement to resolve concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. In February, negotiators from the United States, its “P5+1″ partners (China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom), and Iran agreed to a framework and timetable to guide the talks. At this meeting, the negotiators may begin to exchange specific proposals for resolving several tough issues.

For further analysis, see: “Final Phase P5+1/Iran Nuclear Negotiations: Realistic Options on the Key Issues,” ACA Issue Brief, Feb. 26; and “Crafting a Well-Rounded Nuclear Deal With Iran,”  by George Perkovich, and “The Case for Zero Enrichment in Iran,” by Michael Singh in the March issue of Arms Control Today.

Posted in Asia, Europe, New START, Nuclear Weapons, Russia, The Week Ahead | Leave a comment

Ukraine, Russia, and the NPT

By Daryl G. Kimball (UPDATED: March 9)

President Vladimir Putin’s decision to send Russian military forces into the Crimean region of Ukraine earlier this month—on the basis of the claim that Ukraine’s discredited former President Viktor Yanukovich requested Russian intervention—has put the world on edge and created one of the most serious political confrontations between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War.

Two Ukrainian air force officers walk away from their decommissioned Tupolev Tu-22M-3, "Backfire" strategic, nuclear-capable bomber in 1996.

Two Ukrainian air force officers walk away from their decommissioned Tupolev Tu-22M-3, “Backfire” strategic, nuclear-capable bomber in 1996.

The Russian military deployments in Crimea not only compromise the integrity of a sovereign country in violation of international law, but the Russian actions are inconsistent with the explicit commitments given to Ukraine in the 1994 deal to help secure Ukraine’s non-nuclear status and bring it into the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). As such, Russia’s actions are also a threat to the integrity of the NPT regime, a cornerstone of the global security system upon which Russia, the United States and more than 190 states depend.

As detailed in an authoritative article in the January 1995 issue of Arms Control Today by Sherman W. Garnett, “Ukraine’s Decision to Join the NPT” (republished further below), the government of Ukraine made the very important decision to remove the nuclear weapons it inherited from the Soviet Union, join the START I Treaty, and become a nonnuclear weapon state party to the NPT.

Ukraine’s decision, Garnett explains, was made on the basis of the January 1994 trilateral statement by then-Presidents Leonid Kravchuk, Bill Clinton, and Boris Yeltsin. That statement, later formalized in December of 1994, linked U.S. and Russian nonproliferation objectives to Ukraine’s economic and security concerns. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, Europe, New START, Non-proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Russia | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

The Nuclear Triad, for Less

The U.S. could save $16 billion by downsizing the strategic submarine fleet from 12 to 8 and still deploy a New START-size force.

The U.S. could save $16 billion by downsizing the strategic submarine fleet from 12 to 8 and still deploy a New START-size force.

By Tom Z. Collina

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned this week that “tough, tough choices are coming” if the Pentagon is forced to make deep spending cuts, as required by law. Options on the table include slashing 20,000 to 30,000 soldiers and retiring an aircraft carrier.

But, so far, the Pentagon says it is not considering options for reducing the high cost of nuclear modernization programs. It should. The United States can stay at warhead levels set by the 2010 New START treaty and still save billions by scaling back and delaying new delivery systems.

Continue reading

Posted in New START, Nuclear Security, Nuclear Weapons, Russia, U.S. defense budget | 2 Comments

Week Ahead March 3-9: IAEA mtg; Pentagon Budget; Nuclear Security; Ukraine & the NPT

As the crisis in Ukraine continues to dominate global attention and the news headlines, several other arms control developments of significance in the coming week. WeekAheadSOLO

For more news and analysis on these and other weapons-related security issues, consider subscribing to ACA’s monthly journal Arms Control Today, which is available in print/digital and digital-only editions.

The March issue of ACT will be available online later this week to all subscribers.

- the Editors at Arms Control Today

Week of March 3: IAEA Board of Governors Convenes

The 35-member International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)  Board of Governors convenes in Vienna. For updates see the IAEA Web site. Among the issues on the agenda are the nuclear programs of North Korea and Iran.

As expected, the IAEA Director-General Amano has reported this morning that Iran is complying with the terms of the first phase deal with the P5+1 group but this is more for Iran to do to meet its obligations. For an analysis of the agency’s most recent quarterly report on Iran, see “IAEA Report Shows Iran Complying with Nov. Deal,”  Feb. 20.

March 3: Netanyahu-Obama to Meet

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets today with President Obama at the White House and will also address the conference of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The final phase P5+1/Iran talks on Tehran’s nuclear program is on the agenda.

For more on critical issues in the talks on Iran’s nuclear program , see: “Final Phase P5+1/Iran Nuclear Negotiations: Realistic Issues and Options,” ACA Issue Brief, Feb. 26.

March 4: Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Rollout

The Office of Management and Budget will release the top-line numbers for the Obama administration’s fiscal year 2015 federal budget request to Congress this week, with federal agencies providing more detailed information on their respective budget requests.

The administration’s request will outline funding for costly modernization programs for U.S. nuclear weapons delivery systems and warhead life-extension programs. Last week, several Senate and House members introduced legislation that would significantly reduce the cost of these progress. See: “Markey and Merkley Introduce Legislation to Cut Bloated Nuclear Weapons Budget.

March 5: Briefing and report release on “Preventing Nuclear Terrorism: Expectations for the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit”

The Fissile Materials Working Group is hosting a special briefing on the nuclear security summit process from 12 noon-2:00 p.m. at the National Press Club, First Amendment Lounge, 13th Floor, 529 14th St., NW, Washington.

Speakers are: Kenneth Brill, former ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency; Kenneth Luongo of the Partnership for Global Security (PGS); Kelsey Davenport with the Arms Control Association (ACA); and Page Stoutland of the Nuclear Threat Initiative.

ACA and PGS will present the findings of  their new report The Nuclear Security Summit: Assessment of Joint Statements, which examines the progress made on the 13 joint statements for action presented at the 2012 summit.

To RSVP or to get an embargoed copy of the report, contact Jack Kimball <jkimball@stanleyfoundation.org>

NOTE: Ukraine Crisis and the NPT

One of the key criticisms of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to deploy military forces in Ukraine’s Crimea region is that it is a violation of 1994 U.S./UK/Russia security pledges made upon Ukraine’s accession to Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). For an in-depth review of the diplomacy leading up to that decision and the details of the commitments, see the Brookings Institution paper, “Getting Rid of Nukes: the Trilateral Statement at 20 Years,” by former U.S. Amb. to the Ukraine, Steve Pifer.

Posted in Europe, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Non-proliferation, Nuclear Energy, Nuclear Security, Nuclear Weapons, Russia, The Week Ahead, U.S. defense budget | Leave a comment

Week Ahead Feb. 24-March 2: Castle Bravo Test Anniversary; Pentagon Budget; NATO Ministers & G8 Partnership Meetings

In the coming days, the staff and editors at the Arms Control Association will be keeping an eye on the following arms control-related developments. WeekAheadSOLO

For more news and analysis on these and other weapons-related security issues, consider subscribing to ACA’s monthly journal Arms Control Today, which is available in print/digital and digital-only editions.

More information and timely analysis is available from http://www.armscontrol.org.

- the Editors at Arms Control Today

March 1: 60th Anniversary of  the”Castle Bravo” Nuclear Test in the Pacific

Ceremonies held this week in Little Rock, Arkansas and the Marshall Islands will mark the controversial March 1, 1954 thermonuclear U.S. nuclear test blast at Bikini Atoll.

Code-named “Castle Bravo,” the explosion reached a yield of 15 megaton, the largest U.S. test explosion and than 1,000 times as powerful as the Hiroshima bomb. Dangerous radioactive fallout from the test spread over more than 11,000 square kilometers, including the nearby inhabited atolls of Rongelap, Utrik and others.

On Feb. 26, Arms Control Today will release a special “Looking Back” essay “No Promised Land: the Shared Legacy of the Castle Bravo Nuclear Test,” by April Brown, co-founder and executive director of the Marshallese Educational Initiative.

Also on Feb. 26, at 12:30-2:00 p.m., Karipbek Kuyukov, of the ATOM Project and Amb. Roman Vassilenko of Kazakhstan will speak on “Towards a World Without Nuclear Weapons Testing” at the George Washington University’s Funger Hall, Room 209, 2201 G St., NW, Washington. RSVP online.

Feb. 24: Pentagon Previews Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is scheduled to provide an early look the Defense Department’s upcoming budget request, including funding for recapitalizing the nuclear arsenal. The United States plans to spend at least $355 billion to maintain and rebuild its nuclear arsenal over the next decade, according to a new report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Members of Congress are expected to push the Pentagon to evaluate alternative options for maintaining the nuclear arsenal at lower cost.

Feb. 26-27: Hagel and NATO Defense Ministers Meeting

NATO defense ministers will meet in Brussels this week to discuss a range of issues. Officials at NATO headquarters and in key capitals continue to try to work out a common strategy for seeking arrangements with Russia to address NATO’s remaining tactical nuclear weapons in Europe and Russia’s own weapons. For more background, see: “Trapped: NATO, Russia and the Problem of Tactical Nuclear Weapons,” by Oliver Meier and Simon Lunn in the Jan./Feb. issue of Arms Control Today.

Feb. 25-27:  G8 Global Partnership Working Group Meets in St. Petersburg

The G8 Global Partnership is a multinational, multi-year initiative to address the threat posed by nuclear, biological, chemical, and radiological materials and expertise and the potential for their acquisition by terrorist groups seeking to launch mass-casualty attacks.

Diplomats from the 27 participating states will meet this week under the chairmanship of the Russian Federation for the first of three workshops this to coordinate their national and international counter-WMD programs. For further information, see “The Global Partnership on WMD: A Work In Progress” by Alan Heyes in Arms Control Today, April 2013.

Week of Feb. 24: Expert Level P5+1 Talks with Iran In Vienna

Experts from the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and Iran will followup the latest round of political talks on Iran’s nuclear program this week in Vienna. See: Feb. 17 U.S. State Department “Background Briefing on P5+1 Talks with Iran.”

Posted in CTBT, Iran, Middle East, Nuclear Weapons, South Pacific, The Week Ahead, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

IAEA Report Shows Iran Complying with Nov. Deal

By Kelsey Davenport

The head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi and Yukiya Amano, Director General of  the International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano, right, after signing an agreement in Tehran on November 11 giving the agency greater access to some nuclear sites in Iran. (Credit: European Pressphoto Agency)

The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi and Yukiya Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano, right, after signing an agreement in Tehran on November 11 giving the agency greater access to some nuclear sites in Iran. (Credit: European Pressphoto Agency)

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) most recent report on Iran shows that Tehran is complying with the terms of a deal negotiated with the P5+1 on November 24. The February 20 report confirms that the Joint Plan of Action has halted Iran’s nuclear activities of the greatest proliferation concern and rolled back the program in key areas. New monitoring and verification measures are also now in place that give the IAEA a clearer picture of Iran’s nuclear program.

The report also provides more detail on the actions that Iran pledged to take in the November 11 agreement to cooperate with the IAEA. As a result of this information, the IAEA has been able to access sites and facilities related to Iran’s nuclear program and received information about Iran’s future nuclear plans. Additionally, Iran is beginning to provide the IAEA with information about its past activities with possible military dimensions. Resolving these past issues and providing sufficient information that these activities have ceased is essential.

Key Findings:

  • Iran’s stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium hexafluoride dropped to 160 kg; as of the last report, Iran had 196 kg of this material in its stockpile.
  • Iran reconfigured its centrifuges at Fordow, and is now producing uranium hexafluoride enriched to 3.5 percent as opposed to 20 percent.
  • The number of IR-1 centrifuges enriching uranium at Natanz remains unchanged at approximately 9,400 machines, and Iran has not installed any new centrifuges.
  • Iran has installed no new IR-2M centrifuges at Natanz, and is not operating the 1,008 that were installed prior to the November agreement.
  • No major reactor components have been installed at the Arak heavy water reactor, and Iran provided the IAEA with the updated design information it has been requesting for years.
  • The IAEA was able to visit key nuclear sites for the first time, including Iran’s centrifuge assembly workshops, rotor production facilities, and centrifuge storage facilities.
  • The IAEA has set up additional surveillance at Natanz and Fordow that will allow the agency to confirm that Iran does not begin operating any additional centrifuges.
  • Iran is beginning to provide the IAEA with information related to its concerns about activities with possible military dimensions (PMDs), laid out in a November 2011 IAEA report.
  • Iran’s stockpile of uranium enriched to 3.5 percent has increased to 7,609 kg, up from 7,155 kg in the November report.
  • Iran is behind schedule on a facility to convert 3.5 percent enriched uranium hexafluoride gas to a powder that can be used to fuel power reactors.
  • Iran announced its intention to begin testing a new centrifuge, the IR-8, at its research and development area in Natanz.

Continue reading

Posted in Iran, Middle East, Non-proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Regions | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Week Ahead Feb. 17-21: Iran Nuclear Talks Resume; OPCW Meets on Syria; Will the U.S. Join Mine Ban Treaty?

This bulletin highlights significant events in the world of armsWeekAheadSOLO control in the coming days, as compiled by staff and friends of the Arms Control Association.

For more news and analysis on these and other weapons-related security issues, consider subscribing to ACA’s monthly journal Arms Control Today. Available in print/digital and digital-only subscriptions.

- the Editors at Arms Control Today

Feb. 18: P5+1 Talks with Iran on Its Nuclear Program Resume In Vienna

Diplomats from the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and Iran will convene in Vienna this week to begin a crucial series of meetings to try to resolve the long-running dispute over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

For more information and analysis, see “Final Phase P5+1 Nuclear Negotiations: Key Issues and Challenges,” by Daryl Kimball and Kelsey Davenport.

Feb. 21: Latest Monthly Report from the IAEA on Iran’s Nuclear Program

By week’s end, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is expected to complete its second monthly report on Iran’s implementation of the first phase agreement with the P5+1 group. According to diplomatic sources who spoke with Reuters, the report is expected to show that Iran is complying with the agreement. It is also likely that the report will show that Iran’s stockpile of lower-grade (3.5%) enriched uranium has increased in recent months. For a summary of the IAEA’s first monthly report see: “IAEA Confirms Iran Is Complying With First Phase of Nuclear Deal With World Powers,” from Jan. 20.

OPCW Executive Council to Meet on Syria CW Mission Feb. 21

Amidst growing frustration among OPCW member states and the UN with Syrian regime over its failure to complete the transfer of its chemical stockpile on schedule to transport ships in Latakia for neutralization outside of Syria, the OPCW Executive Council will meet on Feb. 21 to review the situation. To date Syria has completed three transfers of material amounting to only 11% of its total declared stockpile. For more information, see the OPCW-UN Joint Mission Web site.

NGO Leaders Press for U.S. to Join Mine Ban Treaty at Feb. 19 Event

The U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines is holding a special event in Washington D.C, on Wednesday, February 19 beginning at 9:30am to promote the Mine Ban Treaty ahead of its Third Review Conference in Mozambique in June 2014, as well as highlight the need for a positive conclusion to the U.S. landmine policy review, now in its fifth year. The event will be live-streamed at http://www.uscbl.org/

To RSVP, contact: Andrew Haag (202) 612-4351 or banminesusa@hrw.org

Speakers will include: Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams: Prince Mired Raad Al Hussein of Jordan; Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.); François Rivasseau, deputy head of the EU delegation to the United States, who was involved in the negotiations of the Mine Ban Treaty in the 1990s on behalf of France. Ambassador Amélia Matos Sumbana of Mozambique will deliver closing remarks. The full program is online here.

The USCBL wrote to President Obama on January 31, 2014 urging that “the United States to join the world’s 161 States Parties to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.”

Posted in Biological and Chemical Weapons, Chemical Weapons, Conventional Weapons, Iran, Middle East, Nuclear Weapons, Regions, Syria, The Week Ahead | Leave a comment