Arms Control Wonk ArmsControlWonk


Greetings fellow Wonks. My name is Melissa Hanham, and I’m the new ACW contributor on the block. I work for Jeffrey and a lot of my day-to-day involves applying technology to policy problems. If its got a map, a model, big data, little data, software, hardware, or satellite imagery, I’m probably into it. And, excited about it. And, I want to tell you about it.

I taught myself, often the hard way, often in the field, and so I’m hoping to use this space to write explainers, how-tos, and do a bit of myth busting. Oh, and geo quizes! That’s right, Wonks, we’re into participatory learning here. So take your feet off the sofa and roll up your sleeves.

A few weeks ago Jeffrey and I taught an AWESOME workshop on geospatial analysis at UC Berkeley. Turns out, I’m a bit of a sadist, and I tortured some grad students… and some undergrads… and some members of the national labs :/

Most of them figured out at least one of these in the 30 minutes allotted. See if you can too!


  • Post the coordinates in the comments
  • EXPLAIN how you got your answer
  • Don’t peek!

Where were these photos taken? (Double click and double click again, to see them bigger)





What follows is a post I originally wrote for my personal blog, Turkey Wonk. The article touches on a lot of the issues Jeffrey and I have talked about in recent podcasts, so I thought I would share it with the Arms Conrol Wonk crowd. Enjoy.


I am confused. This morning, Anadolu Agency reported that Turkey’s Defense Minster, Ismet Yilmaz, wrote in response to a parliamentary question about Turkey’s missile defense tender that Turkey’s future system will “not be integrated” with NATO’s missile defense system.

Here is the tweet:

Reuters picked up on the story and wrote the following:

Turkey will go ahead with plans to order a $3.4-billion missile defense system from China, Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz said, despite U.S. and NATO concerns over security and compatibility of weaponry. Yilmaz said in a written response to a parliamentary question published on Thursday that Ankara will use the long-range system without integrating it with NATO’s system.  Turkey originally awarded the tender to China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp in 2013, prompting U.S. and NATO officials to say the deal could raise questions over security. Turkey later said it was in talks with France on the issue, but Yilmaz said no new bids had been received. ”The project will be financed with foreign financing. Work on assessing the bids has been completed and no new official bid was received,” the minister said.

As of January 2015, Turkey was reported to have decided to put-off “making a hasty ‘final-final’ decision” on the long-delayed T-LORAMIDS tender. The Turkish leadership, according to Burak Bekdil, was continuing discussions with the United States’ Lockheed Martin/Raytheon for the PATRIOT system and MBDA for the SAMP/T, but were watching how both countries’ governments handled the events surrounding the 100 year anniversary of the “Armenian Genocide.” According to Burak Bekdil’s report:

The procurement official did not comment directly on whether Congress’ decision would be a parameter in selecting a winner in the contract, or whether the US contender would be blacklisted for political reasons. But he said: “Our procurement decisions are not free of deliberations on foreign policy.” Both the procurement and defense officials said that although all three bidders are in the picture, they admitted that talks with CPMIEC have not been productive.” I cannot say negotiations with the Chinese contender have evolved as we expected,” the procurement official said. The defense official said: “[CPMIEC is] still in the game. But they don’t stand where they stood when we selected them. We expect all bidders to improve their offers in line with four criteria: better technological know-how, local participation, quick delivery and price.”Turkish procurement officials earlier admitted that technical negotiations with CPMIEC had dragged into several problematic areas and “this option now looks much less attractive than it did [in 2013].”

To add more fuel to the linkage between missile defense decision-making and the Armenian Genocide issue, Daily Sabah – a newspaper that, lets say, has strong ideological sympathies for the AKP – wrote the following:


Was this a Freudian slip, or did Yilmaz gaffe? Here is where the caveats have to come in: Yilmaz is not, lets say, a very strong Defense Minister. He is not exactly a known commodity in Turkey. I suspect that these types of decisions are above his pay-grade and the buck for these politically sensitive decisions stops at a rather large office inside Ak Saray.

In any case, one can tease out three plausible explanations for Yilmaz’s comments. First, he gaffed and Reuters jumped the gun (likely). Second, he is trying to indirectly pressure the Europeans (the U.S. has little hope of winning this, unless Turkey changes its tender terms.) Third, it was a Freudian slip and Turkey has decided to purchase the HQ-9.

Option 1 may be the most plausible:

But that still leaves two issues: The tender itself and the Armenian issue. On the technical side, the issue connecting explanations 2 and 3 is simple: Turkey, as a matter of state policy, has prioritized the development of an indigenous defense sector. To do so, Ankara conditions its purchase of foreign military equipment on offsets. According to the U.S. government, offsets can come in many forms. For example:

  • Offsets: Industrial compensation practices required as a condition of purchase in either government-to-government or commercial sales of defense articles and/or defense services as defined by the Arms Export Control Act and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.
  • Military Export Sales: Exports that are either Foreign Military Sales (FMS) or commercial (direct) sales of defense articles and/or defense services as defined by the Arms Export Control Act and International Traffic in Arms Regulations.
  • Direct Offsets: Contractual arrangements that involve defense articles and services referenced in the sales agreement for military exports.
  • Indirect Offsets: Contractual arrangements that involve goods and services unrelated to the exports referenced in the sales agreement.
  • Co-production: Overseas production based upon government-to-government agreement that permits a foreign government(s) or producer(s) to acquire the technical information to manufacture all or part of a U.S. origin defense article. It includes government-to-government licensed production. It excludes licensed production based upon direct commercial arrangements by U.S. manufacturers.
  • Licensed Production: Overseas production of a U.S. origin defense article based upon transfer of technical information under direct commercial arrangements between a U.S. manufacturer and a foreign government or producer.
  • Subcontractor Production: Overseas production of a part or component of a U.S. origin defense article. The subcontract does not necessarily involve license of technical information and is usually a direct commercial arrangement between the U.S. manufacturer and a foreign producer.
  • Overseas Investment: Investment arising from the offset agreement, taking the form of capital invested to establish or expand a subsidiary or joint venture in the foreign country.
  • Technology Transfer: Transfer of technology that occurs as a result of an offset agreement and that may take the form of: research and development conducted abroad; technical assistance provided to the subsidiary or joint venture of overseas investment; or other activities under direct commercial arrangement between the U.S. manufacturer and a foreign entity.


Turkey’s emphasis on this strategy has long transcended politics. During the 1990s, for example, Ankara’s defense relationship with Israel was based – at least in part – on Tel Aviv’s willingness to play ball with Turkey’s defense industry (and overlook human rights concerns while doing so).

The key difference in this regard is twofold: First, the AKP has adopted anti-western rhetoric to bolster its populist appeal. The rhetoric, while based on genuine political disagreements, is nonetheless an election tactic designed to reinforce the AKP’s post-Gezi/17 December political narrative. Second, missile defense, since 2010, is now a central part of the Alliance’s commitment to burden sharing and collective defense.

Offsets are one thing. The Alliance is another. If Yilmaz’s statement is accurate, than we have a problem. Turkey’s standard argument is that other NATO states – and in particular Greece and the Baltics – have Russian/Soviet systems that are outside of NATO’s emerging missile defense network. Turkey therefore will not be the only member with an independent missile defense system. True. But those systems predate the inclusion of missile defense as a key component of the Alliance’s updated approach to collective security. (And the Cyprus S-300 issue has its roots in Turkey’s objection to the system. Greece has also purchased Patriot, even using them to paint Turkish F-4s during the annual summer dog fights over the Aegean that cost both countries millions in wasted dollars.)

Ankara also argues, albeit indirectly, that they worry about the use of their systems for an “out of area conflict.” Thus, during a conflict with a  neighboring country in the Middle East, Turkey wants the flexibility to use the system as it pleases, rather than face potential restraints should it go to war with an adversary that the West has no appetite to fight. (Syria is a good example of this, but there is another, smaller, state that comes to mind that shall remain nameless.)

These arguments have their merits, but they miss the point. Ankara’s pursuit of offsets and its concerns about fire control are political – and thereby can be addressed via other means within the Alliance itself. If Ankara does opt to go outside of the Alliance structure, it will undermine the concept of collective security at a time when it relies on NATO PATRIOT batteries forward deployed in Turkey for defense against Syrian Scud attacks.

The timing of Yilmaz’s statement could not have come at a worse time. In the past few months, Russia has invaded a sovereign country, increased the number of (presumably nuclear armed) bomber flights around various NATO states, got caught running subs through Sweden’s archipelago, and is developing a new cruise missile. (Hint: At least one is aimed at a target in Turkey. Bank on that.)

As Jeffrey and I have spoken about on our weekly podcast, Russian policy vis-a-vis NATO is to try and split the alliance, which thereby weakens the collective response to issues like, say, the blatant invasion of a neighboring country under entirely false pretenses. This is why Turkey’s decision-making matters. Neither the PATRIOT or SAMP/T would be used to defend Europe proper: the systems are battle field systems, designed primarily to target shorter range ballistic missiles (think Syria, not Russia. The HQ-9 is sold as an AWACS killer and not a missile defense system per se, but I digress). But that is not the point.

The point is that Turkey is a member of NATO. NATO is a collective defense organization. And in 2010, Turkey and its NATO allies agreed to a Strategic Concept that identified missile defense as a key component of its approach to collective security – which Turkey currently relies on for ballistic missile defense. The European system is a smarter choice for a whole host of technical reasons; not the least of which is that they can plug it into the U.S. funded command and control system, which then would allow for the system to access cueing data from the TPY/2 down the road in Kürecik. (I would pick PATRIOT, but I’m trying to think like a Turkish politician.)

This decision, regardless of the technical merits of the systems under consideration, is political. Ankara will, in all likelihood, never be able to export a viable missile defense system, which means it will probably never get a good return on its investment. The intention is different: develop an industrial base to support a defense sector, rather than missiles in particular. Political.

As for Turkish defense policy, that decision too is political. NATO asks that missile defense be part of a collective approach to security issues. NATO guarantees Turkish security. Turkey’s faith in that guarantee is, at its core, political. So this decision will give us all a good sense of which way the political winds in Ankara now blow.


The Iranian nuclear negotiations are among the most volatile arms control and international affairs topics in the news today, with commentators predicting success or failure in equal measure.  Additionally, the current sanctions fight in Congress could have far-reaching implications regardless of whether or not Iran and the P5+1 reach a solution.  Therefore, the event The Endgame: Success or Failure in Iran Nuclear Talks (hosted by the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy in mid-January) was particularly informative.  Ambassador Barbara Bodine moderated a panel consisting of Robin Wright, Paul Pillar, and Ambassador Bill Luers.  Luers and Pillar are on the board of directors of The Iran Project (one can find their reports here).

American and Iranian political concerns make the coming weeks particularly important, regardless of the status of a deal.  All three speakers brought up the political bind the Iranian regime is currently in, and emphasized the divisions within it.  Negotiation breakdown would undermine Rouhani and the moderates by allowing the conservatives to prove that the West has no interest in diplomacy.  Success, however, carries multiple risks for the regime as a whole.  Rouhani’s returning home with a legitimate deal would solidify Persian public opinion on the side of the moderates, and give the President a large degree of political power with his newfound popularity.  Rouhani could channel that power into a liberalization campaign that could undermine the revolution.  A deal would force the Ayatollah to choose between the diplomatic future of Iran (as negotiation success would open up the regime to a host of other positive relationships), and the continuity of the revolution.  The role of the IRGC in such a situation is unclear at best in such a struggle between Shia sentiment, liberalism, and Persian nationalism.  The goals of the (as Fouad Ajami termed them) “turbaned savior[s] from Qom” are unclear at best.

American political concerns also play a significant role in the fate of the negotiations.  Although Congressional Democrats have pulled their support for a new sanctions bill, diminishing the probability of a veto-proof majority, legislation remains uncertain, and the differences between Democrats and Republicans on this issue are narrowing.  Republicans will almost certainly oppose a successful deal, which will allow the President to enact it as an executive agreement until he leaves office, giving the US an 18-month period to test-drive the new relationship with Iran.  Pillar observed that any American actions undermining the deal would lead to the dissolution of international pressure on Iran, since the U.S. would be the belligerent party.  This indicates that the most dangerous phase of the process could be post-deal, with Republicans attempting to pass sanctions legislation that could eliminate diplomatic options and lead to a military confrontation.

Robin Wright made several observations on Iranian youth liberalization.  Sustained population-control rhetoric from the regime along with a comprehensive public education system has created a generation that had educational support, and as such, is currently politically aware and engaged.  This engagement has driven Persian youths to connect with the West, both via social media and other outlets (including Tehran’s underground music culture).  The political awareness of Persian youth makes negotiation success even more important for a regime attempting to demonstrate it can liberalize.

Pillar also remarked upon the United States’ need for a strategic adversary, especially following the fall of the USSR.  U.S. citizens and policymakers have therefore demonized Iran to ensure the existence of a direct enemy.  This view will undermine the ability of the U.S. to accept a deal on the nuclear issue, although, as Amb. Luers observed, the aforementioned “test-drive” period could help legislators and civilians acclimate to the new (old) relationship.  In addition, although a deal could ease tensions, it would not normalize relations, allowing the U.S. and Iran to engage in a U.S./Russia-style tense peace, which could make a deal more palatable.  Finally, other actors could become the new “enemy,” namely the Islamic State (IS) (or Russia, depending on developments in Ukraine).

One set of overlooked parties in these discussions has been America’s Middle Eastern partners outside of Israel.  The current political noise over PM Netanyahu’s upcoming speech has drawn more attention to Israel, and away from Arab nations.  Like Israel, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States fear an Iranian nuclear program, particularly because of religious tensions between the Sunni Saudis and the Shia Iranians.  Partners that do not particularly object to the nuclear program, such as Jordan, may be wary of increasing Iranian power (considering the view that the Islamic State is a reaction to Persian expansionism, and that Sunni infighting obfuscates the true strategic goal).  Increasing Iranian influence could pose a threat to multiple Arab allies.  Luers contended that these misgivings could further impede a deal, whereas Pillar asserted that the reliance of the aforementioned states on the United States for security would ensure their cooperation, despite public protest.

All these observations indicate one simple fact: the coming weeks will be critical to shaping U.S. regional, and arguably global, policy.


Aaron and Jeffrey talk with Theresa Hitchens, the Director of UNIDIR, about life in Geneva, space, and emerging technologies. The podcast begins with some useful tips for cheese lovers and Jeffrey’s advice for finding the perfect sausage, before moving on to a discussion about difficulties in defining a “space weapon,” the Russian and Chinese approaches to space issues, cyber threats, and the need for the US to craft a more comprehensive policy to address future proliferation threats.


Scrivener – a powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents.


It has been a while since I wrote here. Since I am too busy, or perhaps too lazy, to write my own updates, I thought it would be nice to forward something Hugh Chalmers wrote on the recent adoption, by consensus, of the safeguards resolution.

Some of you will know that the last year was difficult for those working in the safeguards community. The so-called State-Level Concept (SLC) was under attack.

Now, ever since the Agency adopted the Additional Protocol, it has worked to streamline safeguards implementation and make it more cost-effective. One way in which the secretariat has aspired to do so is by introducing “integrated safeguards.” This work started in 1998. As the Agency itself puts it, the “term refers to the optimum combination of all safeguards measures available to the Agency, including those from the Additional Protocol, to achieve maximum effectiveness and efficiency within the available resources.” The state level concept is part of this overall effort.

So the state level concept is not news. One can find references to it dating back to the mid-2000s. Despite this, the concept was challenged by a minority of member states over the last year. The principal concern for some states appears to have been that the SLC risked introducing additional rights or obligations for the member states or the Agency, going beyond already adopted regulations (in particular the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and its Additional Protocol). The IAEA Secretariat has made it clear that it does not, and the General Conference has welcomed this in their annual resolution.

Anyway, this is what Hugh Chalmers will put up on the VERTIC website tomorrow:

The 58th General Conference (GC) of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) concluded last week having successfully passed a safeguards resolution that may have secured the future of a previously contentious element of the Agency’s safeguards system, namely the so-called state level concept. The Conference also avoided a controversial resolution over Israel’s nuclear capabilities. Some IAEA member states have argued that the resolution, if passed, could have jeopardised Israel’s engagement with a conference on a Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction Free-Zone (MEWMDFZ). This conference has been viewed as a key step towards a successful review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 2015.

Israel’s Nuclear Capabilities
With the 2015 NPT Review Conference looming over the horizon, and with the November deadline for P5+1 talks with Iran fast approaching, delegates may have been keen to establish constructive and convivial atmosphere. After three years of stalled progress towards a conference on a MEWMDFZ, a series of meetings between Israel and Arab states held at the Hotel Victoria in the mountain resort of Glion, Switzerland, had generated an air of almost cautious optimism. Sustained momentum and continued dialogue could lead to an agreed agenda, and perhaps even a conference itself—which Middle Eastern states would then find diplomatically difficult to avoid. Punishing Israel’s actions in Gaza by singling out their nuclear capabilities at the GC would, as Israel made it clear in its statement to the plenary, have ‘serious implications’ for this burgeoning dialogue. Fifty-eight states were unwilling to take this risk, compared to 45 who were, and the resolution on ‘Israeli Nuclear Capabilities’ was rejected. The last time a version of this resolution passed was on 17 September 2009, with 49 votes in favour, 45 against and 16 abstentions. It has been defeated every year since.

The State Level Concept
The Agency’s efforts over the past year to clarify the ‘state level concept’ at the heart of its safeguards system also paid off. The term was first introduced to the Board of Governors in 2004, but came under unexpected scrutiny in 2012 when Russia led a number of states in expressing concern over its implications. The Agency published two reports; ‘The Conceptualization and Development of Safeguards Implementation at the State Level‘ in 2013, and the 61-page Supplementary Document to the 2013 report in August this year in response to lingering concerns in the Board. This latter report is the result of an intense consultation process between the Agency and its members, which included six technical meetings throughout 2014, and gives a highly detailed account of the state level concept and its implementation.

The state level concept aims to give consideration to the state as a whole. As highlighted by Director General Yukiya Amano in his introductory statement to the Board of Governors on 9 September 2013, it ‘does not change, or go beyond, the existing legal framework for safeguards. It does not alter any State’s legal obligations with respect to safeguards.’ He noted that it ‘enables [the IAEA] to concentrate [its] in-field verification efforts in a State on areas of greater safeguards significance and results in better use of Agency resources.’

After the shortcomings of the Agency’s traditional approach to safeguards were laid bare in the 1990s by the revelations of Iraq’s clandestine nuclear program, the Agency adopted a more holistic approach to planning its safeguards activities. The state level concept allows the Agency to use state-specific factors (such as total nuclear fuel cycle, technical capabilities, and the safeguards agreement itself) to plan safeguards activities, with the aim of improving both their effectiveness and efficiency.

Importantly, the extent to which the Agency can ‘tweak’ its safeguards activities depends upon the range of activities made available to it through individual safeguards agreements with its members. Those with only a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement (CSA) in force would find that very little changes are made to verification efforts in their state from one year to the next, with the original safeguards criteria still providing the primary basis for determining these efforts. In the case of states whose CSA is augmented by an Additional Protocol (AP), the Agency may be able to draw a broader conclusion ‘that all nuclear material in a State has remained in peaceful activities’, and subsequently streamline the implementation of the many activities afforded to it by this augmented agreement.

Trust in the Agency
While the exact nature and origins of the concerns raised in 2012 and 2013 are unclear — state level approaches have been discussed by the General Conference since 2006 without giving rise to similar concerns — the safeguards resolution adopted last week can shed some light. As various drafts of the resolution were released it was clear that while the conference generally welcomed the Agency’s work in clarifying the concept, states felt it necessary to highlight five aspects of this clarification as particularly noteworthy. By emphasising that the Agency is not abusing the concept to acquire the same rights and powers offered by the Additional Protocol, nor is it using information on state level factors for any purpose other than safeguards, the resolution reveals the surprisingly deep level of mistrust held by a vocal minority of member states.

In some cases, this mistrust may have emerged from genuine concern over the manner in which the state level concept was developed and communicated to member states. The Agency’s consultation process seems to have addressed these, and while the conference welcomed continued engagement with the Agency on this issue, it is unlikely that the IAEA will have to make such a concerted outreach on this topic again. In other cases, this mistrust may have emerged from a more general fear over the future direction of safeguards. A former section head of the Agency’s Office of Legal Affairs highlighted this when she associated disputes over the state level concept with a challenge to the Agency’s obligation to verify both the correctness and completeness of a state’s declarations, no matter what agreement they are reported through.

The resolution adopted last week gives little opportunity for such a challenge to take hold within the General Conference. Preambular language stresses the importance of verifying both the correctness and completeness of state declarations, and notes that the Agency’s ability to do this should be increased. Any attempt to mount a challenge to this by objecting to ambiguities or uncertainties in the state level concept will be very hard now that most of these ambiguities and uncertainties are explicitly addressed in the resolution. Nevertheless, the acceptance of the Agency’s approach to safeguards may be tested more at the coalface than in the conference hall. The Agency’s long-running investigation into Iran’s nuclear programme will continue to be a very visible test of the IAEA’s safeguards system. If this system fails to resolve this investigation in a manner that neither compromises a potential diplomatic solution nor tarnishes the Agency’s apolitical status, more questions may be raised in the future as to its suitability.

Disarming Language
The safeguards resolution adopted at the General Conference also goes a long way to cementing the importance of maintaining the Agency’s capabilities to verify any disarmament or arms control agreement it is asked to monitor. While language related to this capability has long been supported by many member states, it has either been rejected for expediency or relegated to the preambular paragraphs. By ‘noting that the Agency must remain ready to assist […] with verification tasks under nuclear disarmament or arms control agreements’, this issue will remain worthy of detailed consideration in many conferences to come.

What happens now remains to be seen. The best outcome would be that member states now feel that they have the assurance that they desired. This would enable the Agency to continue to develop this important safeguards measure in a way that is efficient and adaptive to changes in technology, but above all in a way that effectively builds assurance that member states have comprehensively declared their stockpiles of source and special fissionable material.


For the second year in a row, a PSA regarding the Isodarco conference!

since 1966
Italian Pugwash Group
International School on Disarmament and Research on Conflicts
28th Winter Course on:
ANDALO (TRENTO) – ITALY    -    7 – 14 January 2015
Directors of the Course: Paolo Foradori (School of International Studies, University of Trento, Italy)
Tariq Rauf (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Sweden)

Course Description:
Contrary to ill-founded expectations, the end of the Cold War did not eliminate the threat of nuclear weapons. Although we have likely escaped the danger of a nuclear Armageddon, the presence and proliferation of nuclear weapons continue to pose a serious threat to today’s global security and the risk of their deliberate or accidental use due to human or technical failure is high. The concept of global nuclear governance describes the complex, multi-level web of actors, rules, treaties, informal arrangements, initiatives and networks that together form the regime that the international community has over the years set up to deal with the management and regulation of nuclear weapons, their sensitive technologies and delivery means. The fundamental goal of the system of global nuclear governance is to combat the proliferation of nuclear weapons, thereby assuring the safety and security of nuclear material, while also delegitimizing the weapons’ value and helping create the conditions for sustained progress toward disarmament. The 2015 Isodarco Winter School will address and deepen our understanding of the main elements of the nuclear governance system, review their functions, highlight strengths and limitations, and propose possible remedies to enhance their effectiveness.

Principal Lecturers:
Sameh Aboul Einen (Ambassador, Deputy Assistant Foreign Minister, Cairo, Egypt); Alexei Arbatov (IMEMO and Carnegie Endowment, Moscow, Russian Federation); Nadia Arbatova (IMEMO and Deputy Chair of Russian Pugwash, Moscow, Russian Federation); Jacek Bylica (Principal Adviser and Special Envoy for Non-proliferation and Disarmament, European Union External Action Service); Paolo Cotta-Ramusino (Secretary General of PUGWASH Conferences on Science and World Affairs, Milan, Italy); Mark Fitzpatrick (International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), London, UK); Catherine Kelleher
(University of Maryland, College Park, USA);
Robert Kelley (formerly IAEA Department of Safeguards and Los Alamos National Laboratory, Vienna, Austria); Feroz Khan (US Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, USA; Brigadier (ret’d.) Pakistan Army); Stefan Klement (Strategic Planning Division, European External Action Service, Brussels, Belgium); Alexander Kmentt, Ambassador and Director for Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, Austrian Foreign  Ministry, Vienna, Austria; Jeffrey A. Larsen (NATO Defense College, Rome, Italy); Martin Malin (Managing the Atom, Belfer Center, Harvard University, USA); Grégoire Mallard (Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland); Vladimir Orlov (President, PIR Centre, Moscow, Russian Federation); Benoît Pelopidas (University of Bristol, UK, and CISAC affiliate, Stanford University, USA); Wolfango Plastino (Roma Tre University, Rome, Italy); Enrique Román-Morey (Ambassador of Peru to Portugal; Chairman, 2014 NPT PrepCom; Vice President UN General Assembly 2012-2013); Carlo Trezza (Chairman, Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Italy).

Confirmation is expected from additional eminent scientists who have been invited to lecture at the School.
The course will be articulated in formal lectures, round tables, seminars offered by the participants and general open discussions.


On June 11th, during its rapid conquest of large portions of the Sunni Arab regions of Iraq, ISIS captured the Al Muthanna chemical-weapons production facility (Iraq’s primary production plant under Saddam). However, the plant has largely disappeared from news coverage, following State Department reassurances of its inability to be used for production purposes due to heavy bombardment during the First Gulf War. What, in fact, was inside the plant?  And what remains? This roundup is intended to give an overview of the Al Muthanna facility, and offer resources to help assess the risk it poses in ISIS hands.

Compliance Report – Department of State (AVC) | AVC report on Iraq’s declared chemical weapons in 2013.  The report states:

Due to the fact that the chemical weapon storage facilities (CWSF) bunkers containing declared CW are sealed and have only incomplete UN documentation in relation to their contents, Iraq has had difficulty in formulating its General Plan for Destruction of its declared CW.

It seems that the contents of the bunker, and of Iraq’s chemical arsenal, may not have been as definite as previously postulated.

Al Muthanna Chemical Weapons Complex – | The online library on the CIA’s website provides an overview of the Al Muthanna facility from the 2004 Comprehensive Report of the Special Adviser to the DCI on Iraq’s WMD, a.k.a. the Duelfer Report. [The preceding sentence has been corrected. -Ed.]  The plant itself served as the center of the Iraqi chemical weapons production program.  Throughout the Iran-Iraq war, the plant produced almost 4,000 tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, Sarin, and Tabun.  Egyptian assistance allowed Iraqis to construct the Grad 122 mm rocket delivery system. The program remained relatively secret until 1986, when the BBC aired a segment entitled “The Secrets of Samarra.”  Following Operation Desert Storm, the research facilities and bomb-assembly area were destroyed.  The report then details cleanup efforts post-Gulf War, and into the late 1990s.

Muthanna State Establishment – Federation of Atomic Scientists | The FAS report offers another description of the Muthanna site, further describing the capabilities of the facility, as well as its layout.

Jonathan Tucker, “Iraq Faces Major Challenges in Destroying Its Legacy Chemical Weapons” – CNS | This CNS report from 2010 discusses chemical-weapons destruction efforts up until that time. At the time, Iraq requested United States assistance in the cleanup operation. Iraq has continued to be vocal about its need for assistance, and in 2012, the UK sent a group of experts to train their Iraqi counterparts in disposal techniques.  The risks of leaking chemical agents within the facility make any action extremely expensive, in the range of $500 million according to this report.

2011 Annual Report – OPCW | The OPCW’s overall statement in 2011, covering every state it is in contact with. Due to physical and organizational barriers surrounding Iraqi chemical weapons disposal (the Al Muthanna plant is suspected to have been contaminated by poorly stored chemical munitions), the first site inspections occurred in 2011 via helicopter.  No disposal efforts were made.  The Muthanna facility was one of six CWPF’s that had not been destroyed or converted to non-weapon production.

Iraqi Progress Report – OPCW | Iraq filed a report in 2012 with the OPCW detailing its cleanup efforts regarding the Al Muthanna plant.  The government stated that:

Irreversibly encapsulating in concrete the remnants of chemical weapons in bunker 13 by filling the bunker with self-consolidating (“liquid”) concrete (referred to as “encapsulation”) represents, in Iraq’s view, the safest approach for destruction which would pose the lowest risk to the safety of the personnel involved in the process and to the environment.

The report goes on to discuss Iraq’s proposed disposal plan as of 2012.

Amy Woolf, Paul Kerr, and Mary Beth Nikitin, “Arms Control and Nonproliferation: A Catalog of Treaties and Agreements” - CRS | The report catalogs the most recent available knowledge about CW disposal programs in Iraq.  As of December 2013, Iraq had both submitted a plan for CW cleanup operations at the Al Muthanna site, and was working in conjunction with UK, Swiss, and German scientists in preparation and execution. These efforts were clearly suspended after the ISIS capture of the plant.  It is unclear how much progress was made prior to June 11th.


Experts in the United States have taken note of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s (RMFA) claims regarding “the main problems” with implementation of the Treaty between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles, together with its Memorandum of Understanding and two Protocols, collectively referred to as the INF Treaty, signed at Washington on December 8, 1987, and which entered into force on June 1, 1988.

RMFA specifically states that:

 [W]e have a lot of claims to the United States in the context of the Treaty.  These are tests of target-missiles of missile defence, which have similar characteristics to intermediate-range missiles, production of armed drones by the  Americans, which evidently are covered by the definition of ground-launched cruise missiles in the Treaty. The topic of Mk-41 launch systems, which the United States intend to deploy in Poland and Romania within the framework of the implementation of their “stage-by-stage adaptive approach” to the deployment of a global missile defence, has been quite topical lately.  These launch systems can launch intermediate-range cruise missiles, but their ground-launched version can be perceived as a direct violation of the INF Treaty.

Leaving aside RMFA’s tone, style and indecorous language preceding these partial charges, the only reason RMFA has made public allegations of U.S. violation(s) of the INF Treaty is that the United States has made a public finding that the Russian Federation violated its ban on launches of any ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) of a range banned by the Treaty and that can be a weapon-delivery vehicle.  Moscow has previously raised similar issues in the past, to no result.  Assertion of U.S. violation(s) is not a defense against the specific claim made by the United States in respect of Russia’s GLCM launch and violation, for which RMFA has had no public response, to date.

Regarding the three RMFA claims of U.S. violations of the INF Treaty, please see the following responses:

[T]ests of target-missiles of missile defense, which have similar characteristics to intermediate-range missiles [.]

This issue has been raised repeatedly for as many years as the United States has been launching targets for its Pacific Test Bed from Vandenberg Air Force Base.  It is unclear why, then, in the context of the New START Treaty, specifically under paragraph (3) of Article V of the New START Treaty, Russian negotiators agreed to exclude five silos converted to target vehicle launchers for that treaty’s ban on offense-defense fixed silo launcher conversion, and vice versa.  If severe concern existed at the time, as is evidently and retrospectively declared in RMFA’s press statement, it is thus hard to understand Russian claims made now that, apparently, test launches of target vehicles, generally, are violations of the INF Treaty.  Should Moscow wished to have banned all such tests from any fixed, land-based silo launcher on the pretext of an INF Treaty violation, why did it agree to grandfather already converted silos at Vandenberg Air Force Base?

Further, paragraph (3) of Article VII of the INF Treaty specifically provides, in full, that “If a [ground-launched ballistic missile] is of a type developed and tested solely to intercept objects not located on the surface of the earth, it shall not be considered to be a missile to which the limitations of this treaty apply.”   RMFA may claim that because missile stages used as target vehicles were formerly accountable under START I, when fully assembled, that they can be equipped and fired with nuclear armament, presumably at a range shorter than 5,500 kilometers, and since clearly any missile defense interceptor missile used to strike a target vehicle cannot be limited by Article VII.3 of the INF Treaty.  However, U.S. missile defense tests, to date, have been transparent, and the United States has gone to great lengths to demonstrate to Moscow that its claims are spurious.  While any stage or stages of a missile formerly accountable as a stage or stages of a type of missile accountable as a strategic offensive arm (SOA) were not developed specifically for use as a target vehicle, their continued elimination in this manner is permissible and well within the bounds of residual, non-binding limitations pertaining to each.  None of these formerly accountable SOA stages are used in any offensive nuclear weapon-delivery system in the United States, nor are they interchanged with any SOA.  The United States does not possess and has not possessed any such program, unlike the USSR/Russia, which did interchange the first stage of its SS-25 SOA with the INF-banned SS-20, and was the only permissible exception contained in the INF Treaty, and necessitated the use of portal-perimeter continuous monitoring (PPCM), which is no longer undertaken in either the Russian Federation or in the United States by either side.  Russia had the option argue for continued PPCM in the New START Treaty, even after the United States indicated it no longer wished to continue it.  Russia also may use its quota of inspection/exhibitions under New START to confirm the non-deployed status of any fixed ICBM silo in the United States converted to launch missile defense target vehicles, at least one of which it has already undertaken in 2013.

Further, RMFA’s public comment does not include specific reference to the “similar characteristics” shared by declared, eliminated and banned U.S. INF-range weapon-delivery missiles and any target vehicle used in missile defense tests.  Should Moscow wish to further articulate these characteristics, the United States would be much obliged.

Simultaneously, however, Moscow must also provide a complete, full and consistent declaration as to the characteristics of all ground-launched cruise missiles implicated in the U.S. noncompliance finding it may possess, in a manner identical to the requirements contained in the Memorandum of Understanding Regarding the Establishment of the Database for the INF Treaty, to include any launchers and support equipment, deployment areas and all other required information.  Moscow must undertake to provide the United States with this information, posthaste.  If it is Moscow’s position that it has tested, but not deployed the banned GLCM, then, in in a manner similar to the requirements of Section V of the INF MOU for all intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles that were tested prior to the entry into force of the INF Treaty but never deployed and that were not existing types of intermediate-range or shorter-range missiles listed in Article III of the Treaty, Moscow shall provide identical information, should it admit its violation with respect to the banned GLCM, for the banned missile it has today.  This shall include the numbers of all such missiles and of all launchers of such missiles and which should be listed by the missile support facility at which such items are located.  The location of each missile support facility must also be provided, including site diagrams.

[P]roduction of armed drones by the Americans, which evidently are covered by the definition of ground-launched cruise missiles in the Treaty.

No specific type of “armed drone” is recorded in RMFA’s statement.  Presumably, reference is made to types of U.S.-produced unmanned aerial vehicles capable of aerodynamic flight over the majority of their flight path within a range of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers and which is the rough definition of a GLCM contained in paragraph (2) of Article II of the INF Treaty.  The United States has made every effort in the context of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) to ensure that unmanned systems do not contribute to the proliferation of cruise and ballistic missile technology.  Several Russian sales of various systems have been problematic for these efforts; in particular, its sales of Iskander-E to states like Syria.  Additionally, while exclusively conventionally-armed U.S. unmanned aerial systems are now common in and among our Allies, there is no evidence provided by Moscow proving that any of them are “weapon-delivery vehicles” as the term is used in the INF Treaty.  There is no allegation in the RMFA statement concerning whether or not any unnamed unmanned system has been flight-tested or deployed for weapon-delivery, and thus even if a U.S. unmanned system is launched from land, it does not meet the other tests imposed under the INF Treaty that would render any such system subject to and constitute a violation of the INF Treaty.

Additionally, official Moscow has had no comment on sales of the Club-K Container Missile System, marketing data for which appear to advertise an ability to covertly conceal a cruise missile of shorter-range in and among common commercial freight deliveries, to include marketing of the systems with an unmanned drone or satellite support to guide the Club-K to targets, and includes launches from rail- and road-mobile freight containers/launchers on land, for which such launchers are specifically designed, and from which the Club-K strikes targets located on the surface of the earth.  Flight characteristics and range capabilities are difficult to determine based on publicly available data for the Club-K.

“[The] Mk-41 launch systems, which the United States intend to deploy in Poland and Romania within the framework of the implementation of their ‘stage-by-stage adaptive approach’ to the deployment of a global missile defence.”

The United States publicly announced the first launch of an SM-3 Block IB from a Mark 41 Vertical Launch System (Mk 41 VLS) from Hawaii early this year at the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex (AAMDTC). To date, Russia has not publicly disclosed the date or dates of its launch of any GLCM, which may bear directly on Russian compliance with its binding obligation not to fire any such system in the INF Treaty.  Again, per previously cited text contained within the INF Treaty, a U.S. VLS launcher deployed on land, the exclusive purpose of which is to fire an intercepting missile at an object not located on the surface of the earth, and which is not developed or designed to launch any weapon-delivery vehicle as that term is used in the INF Treaty, does not appear to be a prima facie violation of the INF Treaty.  Furthermore, the United States has offered on a continued basis cooperation with the Russian Federation in the area of missile defense, since at least 2004 under the previous U.S. President.  At each stage, it has been rebuffed with demands for more information that would compromise the military effectiveness of the systems in question or constitute informal limitations on the range, speed, number and location of such defenses, which the United States cannot and will not accept.

It is also wholly unclear whether a VLS based on land would constitute a fixed launcher for a ground-launched ballistic missile (GLBM launcher) under paragraph (3) of Article II of the INF Treaty.  In addition,  paragraph (7) of Artice II states, in full, that “If a launcher has been tested for launching a GLBM or a GLCM, all launchers of that type shall be considered to have been tested for launching GLBMs or GLCMs.”  While sea-based, the VLS can host a variety of missiles, depending on the deployed missile canister.  Certain software changes can also modify the VLS at sea.  However, the VLS deployed in Poland and Romania will not house any missile other than the Raytheon Standard Missile Three, which is of a type of missile developed and tested solely to intercept objects not located on the surface of the earth.

Lastly, as was repeatedly noted to Moscow since 2009, regional, adaptive U.S. missile defenses in NATO pose no threat to the SOA of the Russian Federation, and are not part of a global missile defense system.  However, Russian noncompliance with the INF Treaty is highly likely to result in reexamination of American plans to cancel certain aspects of its Phased and Adaptive Approach to missile defenses, least not in the U.S. Congress, but equally within the U.S. Government as a whole, to include taking required defensive measures to protect any VLS-ashore in any American ally’s territory.  Russia had many options, but by taking a path of noncompliance with the treaty that fundamentally established the conditions necessary for nuclear arms reductions in Europe, it now wishes to return to an arms race.  By intimating that U.S. missile defenses are a violation of the INF Treaty, Moscow perhaps gives away its own rationale for noncompliance.  We should take steps to ensure no advantage results, including defending our Allies and deployed forces from INF-range attack.

Finally, as other U.S. experts have noted, in particular Jeffrey Lewis, it is the Russian Federation, not the United States, that continues to mix conventional and nuclear missile defense.  It perhaps now has begun to mix conventional and nuclear offense in a force of banned INF-range weapons.

Should Moscow wish to engage in a public debate regarding U.S. arms control compliance, both the Government and people of the United States would welcome any such effort.  Citation of legally defective and intentionally vague accusations in response to a specific, public finding of noncompliance achieves nothing.


A quick PSA, courtesy of Jeffrey, regarding the CTBT Public Policy course sponsored by the CTBTO that runs from September 1st to September 9th.  The info link is here, and I have included the majority of it below as well:

About the Course

The course will comprehensively cover the policy and legal aspects of the CTBT, including its entry-into-force and universalization, as well as the CTBT verification technologies and the civil and scientific applications of monitoring data. The course will feature interactive panel discussions and keynote lectures by renowned international experts, as well as presentations on technical and scientific aspects of the CTBT verification regime.

The course will also aim to raise awareness about the importance of the on-site inspection regime, especially in light of the upcoming Integrated Field Exercise 2014. Building on the first week of panel discussions and presentations, the final two days of the course will consist of an interactive exercise, a simulation of a future Executive Council consideration of an on-site inspection request. This exercise will challenge participants to put into practice the ideas and concepts discussed throughout the course.

The CTBT Public Policy Course: Verification through Diplomacy and Science may be taken completely online or in person in Vienna.

There is no registration fee for participation in the course either online or in-person.

More course details, including the course agenda, will be made available soon.

Target Audience

The course is open to anyone interested in the CTBT and its verification regime including, but not limited to, diplomats, government representatives, staff members of international organizations, NDC analysts, station operators, researchers, journalists, students and other members of civil society. Given the timing and scope of this course, newly arrived diplomats or international organization staff members may find participating in this course beneficial.

Course Registration

To register for the course, follow the steps below:

  1. Sign up for a CTBT Education Community account here
  2. After your account has been activated, navigate to the course homepage and self-enrol in the course
  3. If you plan on participating in the course in-person in Vienna, please follow the additional steps below

Please contact us at should you have any questions about the course or the registration process.

In Person Participation in Vienna

Participants who plan to take the course in person in Vienna are requested to submit a CV and brief statement of motivation as part of the enrolment process. The deadline for in-person participation registration is 25 August.

With financial support from the European Union and the Kingdom of Norway, limited funding is available to cover travel to Vienna and accommodation for individuals from developing countries. Participants requiring funding should indicate in their statement of motivation that they request funding for in-person participation and explain how they would benefit from the course and how the skills and knowledge acquired during the course would be put into practice. The statement of motivation should be submitted as soon as possible, but no later than 4 August. Funding is contingent upon the applicant securing a visa if applicable.

Following acceptance, all participants will be expected to complete the online e-learning modules on the CTBT Education Portal prior to the 1 September, as well as obtain a Certificate of Successful Completion by meeting all course requirements by 10 October 2014.

Confirmation of Participation in Vienna

Once your application for in-person participation has been approved, an e-mail notification as well important logistical information will be sent by a course administrator.

Online Course Participation

The course homepage will serve as the main reference point for accessing all course materials including the online interactive modules, quizzes, updates and discussion forums. A live stream of all course lectures and presentations, as well as an archive of these sessions will be made available on the course homepage for later viewing. Participants will also have an opportunity to submit questions and comments to course presenters in advance of each session or in real-time on the course homepage.

The Executive Council simulation will present collaborative opportunities for participants to provide various inputs in support of developing the position and strategy for each country team. Dedicated discussion forums and collaborative workspaces will be available for each country team facilitating cooperation between online and in-person participants. The assignment of country teams will take place on the week of 25 August. Please note that individual requests for country assignments will not be accepted as the assignment of country teams is an automated process.

Course Format

The course will consist of the following elements:

  • robust interactive online modules (available week of 14 July);
  • live lectures from leading CTBT experts (1 – 5 September);
  • a simulation exercise (8 – 9 September);
  • assessment quizzes (to be completed by 1 September);
  • a peer reviewed essay (to be completed by 23 September);
  • and a final quiz (to be completed by 10 October);.

Participants who successfully complete the course requirements will be issued a Certificate of Successful Completion.


The most practical lesson I learned at Generation Prague was to never show up 25 minutes early to a State Department event, as doors typically open 25 minutes after they are scheduled to do so.  My fellow compatriots and I endured 50 minutes of a coffee-less morning until finally, at 8:25, we were processed through security.  Thankfully, the conference inside made the wait worth it.

The list of speakers included Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), Chief of the UN Joint Mission in Syria Sigrid Kaag, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defense Programs Andrew Weber, former Lieutenant General and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Director Frank Klotz, Under Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller, and STRATCOM commander Admiral Cecil Haney.

Aside from a few technical difficulties (such as Lieutenant General Klotz’s microphone not functioning until midway through his speech), the conference went off without a hitch.  It focused on innovation in national security, primarily via the application of technology and youth engagement using social media. Senator Murphy delivered a keynote address in which he emphasized the non-traditional nature of 21st century national security threats.  He argued that nuclear weapons overall have become a liability, due to the rapidly diminishing value of nuclear deterrence.  Cyber threats and small-scale crises neither require nor can be remedied by the blunt force a nuclear solution entails.  Additionally, the traditional concepts of deterrence theory cannot be as readily applied due to the rise of non-state actors, and the increasingly blurred distinction between sovereign nations, proxy organizations, and terrorist groups (e.g. ISIS).  Even when deterrence applies, such as with great powers like the Russian Federation, the cold war era approach to deterrence are no longer effective in areas like Eastern Europe, due to the shift away from traditional ground forces and greater reliance on quasi-covert operations.  Nevertheless, stated Senator Murphy, the threat of United States use of military force must be seen as a credible.

One of the main foreign policy events the conference focused on heavily was the Syrian Chemical Weapons situation. Sigrid Kaag, the head of the UN Joint Mission in Syria, discussed the immense physical, political, and financial obstacles her team encountered during the weapons removal program.  Through her description and the comments of various other speakers, one could detect the consensus that the Syrian Chemical Weapons crisis was being viewed and marketed as an overwhelming victory for the United Nations and the State Department.  The oft-repeated narrative stated that the Join Mission represented a paragon of international cooperation, with ships from a wide variety of nations working tirelessly in tandem to remove chemical agents from Syrian borders for their destruction offshore, despite escalating tensions between the United States and its allies and the Russian Federation due to the Ukrainian crisis.  Despite different approaches, the great powers had come together on this one issue to rid the region of chemical arms, using a little bit of Russian arm-twisting and United States military potential to ensure the compliance of the Assad regime.

The conference also addressed the twin-pronged threat of bioweapons and infectious diseases and pandemics.  Assistant Secretary of Defense Weber heavily emphasized the broad and varied nature of biological threats (making nonproliferation and security efforts focused on biological weaponry extremely difficult).  Biosecurity, more so than any other type of WMD nonproliferation effort, requires international cooperation, due to the ease of producing and distributing biological agents as demonstrated by the 2001 Anthrax Attacks in the United States.  Most importantly, bioweapons only represent half of the threat in biological security, with the destructive ability of naturally occurring pathogens and drug-resistant viruses and bacteria posing a grave threat to peace and stability.  Without international communication, Assistant Secretary Weber argued, containing and responding to biological threats is next to impossible.  Border security becomes much less relevant because of the disparate methods of transmission a virus or bacterium can utilize.  International collaboration becomes the only way to stand a chance against biological threats.

General Frank Klotz shifted the focus of discussion back to technological application, speaking on the role of technology in updating and increasing the effectiveness of existing nuclear technologies, and discussing his experiences at the NNSA.  Technological innovation helps increase the lifespan of older systems, allowing the United States to update existing nuclear infrastructure and improve monitoring capabilities instead of testing new devices and delivery systems.

The penultimate speaker of the conference, Under Secretary of State Gottemoeller, was (in this intern’s humble opinion) the highlight of the conference.  She synthesized the primary points of the prior speakers, and argued that the need to focus on WMD’s is even more critical after the end of the Cold War.  “The Cold War is over,” she stated, “but the ash and trash of the Cold War is still with us.”  Agreeing with Assistant Secretary Weber, Under Secretary Gottemoeller emphasized the benefits of international collaboration, decrying the attempts of various elected officials to disengage from the Russian Federation, despite its policy differences with the United States.  She also specifically identified Asian proliferation as a potential problem in the immediate future, and reiterated General Klotz’s point regarding the need for updated monitoring capabilities.  As Congressional disengagement from the nuclear issue increases, Under Secretary Gottemoeller argued for the importance of social media engagement, both domestically and internationally, to ensure that the United States remains active in preventing WMD proliferation of all types.  Such social media efforts could help renew political interest in an issue that has fallen out of favor on the national stage.  Overall, Under Secretary Gottemoeller tried to make clear the increasing, rather than decreasing, role nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons will have on world affairs in the immediate future.

Admiral Haney finished out the event by focusing on the need to redefine deterrence in the modern world.  Proper application of technology and intelligence, rather than the numerical amount of warheads in the US arsenal, are vital to an effective US deterrence strategy.  As the threat of nuclear war declines, he commented, the threat of the use of a nuclear devise increases.  Nonproliferation and deterrence, therefore, remain just as relevant in the 21st century.