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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 66, September 2002

News Review

G-8 Adopts $20 Billion WMD Non-Proliferation Programme

On June 27, meeting in Kananaskis, Canada, the heads of state and government of the G-8 (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, US, UK) announced the launch of a 'Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction'. A statement from the leaders declared:

"The attacks of September 11 demonstrated that terrorists are prepared to use any means to cause terror and inflict appalling casualties on innocent people. We commit ourselves to prevent terrorists, or those that harbour them, from acquiring or developing nuclear, chemical, radiological and biological weapons; missiles; and related materials, equipment and technology. We call on all countries to join us in adopting the set of non-proliferation principles we have announced today. In a major initiative to implement those principles, we have also decided today to launch a new G-8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction. Under this initiative, we will support specific cooperation projects, initially in Russia, to address non-proliferation, disarmament, counter-terrorism and nuclear safety issues. Among our priority concerns are the destruction of chemical weapons, the dismantlement of decommissioned nuclear submarines, the disposition of fissile materials and the employment of former weapons scientists. We will commit to raise up to $20 billion to support such projects over the next ten years. A range of financing options, including the option of bilateral debt for program exchanges, will be available to countries that contribute to this Global Partnership. We have adopted a set of guidelines that will form the basis for the negotiation of specific agreements for new projects, that will apply with immediate effect, to ensure effective and efficient project development, coordination and implementation. We will review over the next year the applicability of the guidelines to existing projects. Recognizing that this Global Partnership will enhance international security and safety, we invite other countries that are prepared to adopt its common principles and guidelines to enter into discussions with us on participating in, and contributing to, this initiative. We will review progress on this Global Partnership at our next Summit in 2003."

As detailed in the statement, the initiative sets out "six principles to prevent terrorists or those that harbour them from acquiring or developing nuclear, chemical, radiological and biological weapons; missiles; and related materials, equipment and technology." The principles call on all countries to:

"1. Promote the adoption, universalization, full implementation and, where necessary, strengthening of multilateral treaties and other international instruments whose aim is to prevent the proliferation or illicit acquisition of such items; strengthen the institutions designed to implement these instruments.

2. Develop and maintain appropriate effective measures to account for and secure such items in production, use, storage and domestic and international transport; provide assistance to states lacking sufficient resources to account for and secure these items.

3. Develop and maintain appropriate effective physical protection measures applied to facilities which house such items, including defence in depth; provide assistance to states lacking sufficient resources to protect their facilities.

4. Develop and maintain effective border controls, law enforcement efforts and international cooperation to detect, deter and interdict in cases of illicit trafficking in such items, for example through installation of detection systems, training of customs and law enforcement personnel and cooperation in tracking these items; provide assistance to states lacking sufficient expertise or resources to strengthen their capacity to detect, deter and interdict in cases of illicit trafficking in these items.

5. Develop, review and maintain effective national export and transshipment controls over items on multilateral export control lists, as well as items that are not identified on such lists but which may nevertheless contribute to the development, production or use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and missiles, with particular consideration of end-user, catch-all and brokering aspects; provide assistance to states lacking the legal and regulatory infrastructure, implementation experience and/or resources to develop their export and transshipment control systems in this regard.

6. Adopt and strengthen efforts to manage and dispose of stocks of fissile materials designated as no longer required for defence purposes, eliminate all chemical weapons, and minimize holdings of dangerous biological pathogens and toxins, based on the recognition that the threat of terrorist acquisition is reduced as the overall quantity of such items is reduced."

The initiative also contains guidelines designed to ensure the appropriate and accountable use of all funds. With regard to the potential recipients of such funds, the statement notes: "The Global Partnership's initial geographic focus will be on projects in Russia, which maintains primary responsibility for implementing its obligations and requirements within the Partnership. In addition, the G-8 would be willing to enter into negotiations with any other recipient countries, including those of the Former Soviet Union, prepared to adopt the guidelines, for inclusion in the Partnership."

A White House Fact Sheet (June 27) outlined the relationship between the new initiative and ongoing US non-proliferation assistance programmes:

"The G-8 Global Partnership builds on, and expands, a decade of cooperation between the United States and former Soviet states to reduce and prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, starting with the Cooperative Threat Reduction (Nunn-Lugar) program in FY2002. From FY1992 to FY2002, the United States allocated approximately $7 billion for this purpose. In the President's FY2003 budget request, he has proposed about $1 billion in non-proliferation and threat reduction assistance to former Soviet states - the highest single-year request ever made for these projects. Key ongoing US non-proliferation and threat reduction projects in Russia and other former Soviet states, including Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, will be enhanced under the Global Partnership. These include:

  • Reducing strategic missiles, bombers, silos and submarines;
  • Ending weapons-grade plutonium production;
  • Reducing excess weapons-grade plutonium;
  • Upgrading storage and transport security for nuclear warheads;
  • Upgrading storage security for fissile material;
  • Reducing nuclear weapons infrastructure;
  • Destroying chemical weapons;
  • Eliminating chemical weapons production capability;
  • Securing biological pathogens;
  • Providing peaceful employment for former weapons scientists;
  • Enhancing export controls and border security;
  • Improving safety of civil nuclear reactors."

The Partnership was greeted with warm applause in Congress. In a June 27 press release, former Democrat Senator Sam Nunn - architect, together with Republican Senator Richard Lugar, of the Cooperative Threat Reduction programme - described the initiative as "a major step in the right direction in terms of how the United States and its partners and allies must work together to prevent dangerous groups from gaining control of the most dangerous materials". Nunn added: "The G-8 pledge to spend $20 billion over the next ten years...suggests that member states are willing to back their commitments with much-needed resources. Last tear, a Department of Energy bipartisan task force headed by former [Republican] Senator Howard Baker and former [Democrat] White House counsel Lloyd Cutler set the stage for today's development when it called for a three-fold increase in current Cooperative Threat Reduction efforts."

Speaking to reporters in Kananaskis, Russian President Putin (June 27) urged a responsible presentation of the problem being addressed by the Partnership: "I've read the papers and watched television where it is said that there is a threat of proliferation of arms from Russian territory. There is no basis for this... All the weapons are subject to strict controls. But they do pose a certain threat in ecological terms. That is a fact." The whole initiative, however, was promptly trashed (June 28) by Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov: "Despite all the buzz and propaganda, it is clear that the billions of dollars to be allocated to Russia by western countries are designed to completely annihilate Russia's nuclear missile shield."

Among other G-8 nations, the coolest response came from Japan, with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi remarking rather grudgingly (June 27): "We believe the primary responsibility is with Russia. But because this is a matter that will benefit the whole world, we are willing to contribute, despite our difficult fiscal situation."

On July 25, Alan Larson, US Undersecretary of State for Economic, Business and Agricultural Affairs, testified to the House International Relations Committee on the possibility of using the Global Partnership framework to facilitate a programme of Russian debt reduction through non-proliferation work. The 'debt-for-non-proliferation' scheme has been much discussed in the US in recent months, and is strongly supported by the influential Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) group whose Board of Directors is co-chaired by Sam Nunn and CNN founder Ted Turner. Also testifying to the Committee on July 25, NTI President and former senior Energy Department official Charles B. Curtis expressed his confidence that "converting Russian debt into increased funding for non-proliferation efforts inside Russia would make a vital contribution to global security." Larson clearly agreed:

"The [G-8] initiative allows each partner the flexibility to finance and carry out projects in a manner consistent with its program priorities, national laws and budgetary procedures. Bilateral debt for program exchange is an option for financing projects under the Partnership. We do not know at this point whether others will use debt exchange or more conventional assistance or a mix of both. We do know that debt exchange will be difficult for some of our partners. The administration will consult closely with Congress on the formulation of non-proliferation and threat reduction programs and projects and on the choice between debt or more traditional assistance as a funding vehicle. The administration's concept for how a debt option might work is straightforward. The United States would agree in advance to waive collection of a given amount of debt payments owed by the Russian government to the United States government on Russia' s Soviet-era debt. As a consequence, Russia would be able to make expanded budgetary expenditures for agreed non-proliferation activities. The financial and budget mechanics would be worked out in negotiations with Russia, subject to the requirements of US law. We know the Russian authorities are interested in applying such an approach to part or all of their Soviet-era debt to the United States. Beyond that, there are still many details that would need to be worked out. We need to determine under what conditions we could offer such an option to Russia. The Russians will need to decide whether such a deal would be advantageous for them, relative to other options. I would like to highlight one point, that the administration does not consider this kind of a financing vehicle as debt relief, per se. Financially, Russia does not require further debt relief. ... At the same time, Russia cannot afford to do everything we would like it to do. ... Between 22 and 33 percent of Russians live in poverty. The life expectancy of a man declined from 64 years to 59 over the past decade. The government must cope with persistent financial demands to update its antiquated education and health systems. While Russia has been devoting its own resources to the destruction and control of dangerous materials, budget pressures have made it difficult to proceed with these tasks as fast as the Russian leadership and we believe is necessary. The administration has agreed to consider this exceptional financing option for Russia because of the unique burden Russia bears from the Cold War. It is not in our interest that Russia should face alone the harsh choice between the basic needs of its population or eliminating chemical weapons or excess plutonium."

Related Developments

On June 19, President Bush wrote to Congress extending for a further year an official "national emergency" with "respect to the accumulation of a large-volume of weapons-usable material in the territory of the Russian Federation". The emergency was declared by President Clinton in June 2000; its function is to focus and coordinate federal efforts to reduce the proliferation threats involved. According to Bush: "A major national security goal of the United States is to ensure that fissile material removed from Russian nuclear weapons pursuant to various arms control and disarmament agreements is dedicated to peaceful uses (such as downblended to low enriched uranium for peaceful commercial uses), subject to transparency measures, and protected from diversion to activities of proliferation concern."

On July 1, the Department of Energy announced details of its latest non-proliferation programme with Kazakhstan. According to a press release from the Department's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA): "One hundred and fifty scientists, engineers and technicians at a former nuclear weapons plant in Kazakhstan will turn their talents to commercial production as a result of an agreement announced today by Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham at a conference in Kansas on investment and trade opportunities in Kazakhstan. ... The ULBA Metallurgical Plant, a former nuclear weapons facility in Kazakhstan, will expand and upgrade its capacity for production of copper beryllium (CuBe) master alloy. This material has commercial applications and is a component in a range of products including small appliances, computers, and telecommunications. ... Brush Wellman Inc. of Cleveland, Ohio, and RWE NUKEM Inc. of Danbury, Conn., will partner with UBLA under the agreement. The Los Alamos National Laboratory will provide technical assistance and the [NNSA]...is providing expertise and training. The ULBA project, organized under the NNSA's Russian Transition Initiatives, will convert the beryllium technology used to produce Soviet nuclear weapons to entirely commercial products. ULBA, which produced beryllium products for Soviet military and aerospace applications for nearly 50 years, is expected to reap significant economic benefits from the project, estimated at over $10 billion per year. At least 150 jobs at the plant will be sustained for the next 8-10 years. Brush Wellman Inc. and RWE NUKEM Inc. will invest $4 million in the UBLA project. ULBA has committed over $4.5 million, and the NNSA will contribute at least $1.5 million. In January 2002, Secretary Abraham announced the NNSA's first project at UBLA, in which low-enriched uranium will be separated from uranium concentrates and then made available as a power source to civilian power reactors throughout the world."

Related material on Acronym website:

Reports: Text - Bush continues emergency relating to fissile material in Russia, Washington File, June 19; The G-8 global partnership against the spread of weapons and materials of mass destruction, Statement by G-8 leaders, June 27, Government of Canada website (G-8.gc.ca); Preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, White House Fact Sheet, June 27; As G-8 summit concludes, Japan finds itself in dissenting role, Associated Press, June 27; G-8 clinches deal to decommission ex-Soviet arms, Reuters, June 27; Nunn praises G-8 announcement of global partnership to fight terrorism, Nuclear Threat Initiative Press Release, June 27; Some Russians sceptical of G-8 plan, Associated Press, June 28; Abraham announces second major nuclear non-proliferation effort with Kazakhstan, US Energy Department National Nuclear Security Administration Press Release NA-02-13, July 1; Text - Larson praises G-8 initiative to combat WMD proliferation, Washington File, July 25; Charles B. Curtis, President of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, testimony before the House International Relations Committee, July 25, 2002, NTI text; Consider debt-for-nonproliferation swap, State official says, Global Security Newswire, July 26.

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