Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Archive for the ‘IAEA’ Category

UN Security Council to Discuss Syria’s Nuclear Activities

Posted by K.E. White on July 4, 2011

Slate provides an excellent update on the UN Security Council’s upcoming meeting on Syria.

The IAEA referred Syria to the UN Security Council after being frustrated in its attempts to learn more about Syria’s Dair Alzour nuclear reactor, which was destroyed by Israel in 2007.

From Slate:

Sanctions are unlikely: Iran continues to expand its nuclear activities in defiance of the council, whereas Syria’s alleged violations appeared to have occurred in the past and thus do not seem to represent a present proliferation threat.

Still, one of the three diplomats who agreed to discuss confidential information on condition of anonymity said the planned July 14 discussions are significant. He pointed to the fact that the council found the issue important enough to take it up less then a month after the June 9 IAEA referral.

Syria is already under Security Council perusal. The council on Thursday expressed united support for the U.N. peacekeeping force on the tense Syrian-Israeli border — even while remaining divided over any direct condemnation of Syria’s crackdown on peaceful demonstrators and human rights abuses.

Posted in IAEA, Security Council | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

IAEA Update: Yukiya Amano To Succeed ElBaradei

Posted by K.E. White on July 2, 2009

Amano clinched the two-thirds majority…barely. From The Guardian:

Yukiya Amano collected 23 votes, compared to 11 for Abdul Samad Minty of South Africa, with one abstention, barely giving him the two-thirds majority needed for victory.

Even that tight margin came only after hard-fought preliminary sessions. A March vote between the two men — Amano, backed by the U.S. and like-minded countries, Minty supported by the developing world — was inconclusive, showing the divide separating the two camps.

Thursday’s vote also went down to the wire. It took four rounds for Amano to prevail due to stubborn support in initial rounds for his rival from the developing nations — a split the Japanese touched on his brief post-session comments to the media.

And Bloomberg News offers this:

“Yukiya Amano was, from day one, the preferred choice of the United States and Europe,” Andreas Persbo, a senior researcher at the London-based Verification Research, Training and Information Center, said in an e-mail. “He is generally seen as a competent diplomat and good administrator.”

Amano is the first Asian elected to lead the IAEA, the body charged with preventing nuclear weapons proliferation and promoting peaceful atomic energy use. Japan is the second- biggest contributor to the IAEA budget.

“I am very pleased for this support,” Amano said in a statement to the media. “I will do my utmost to enhance the welfare of human beings, ensure sustainable development through the peaceful use of nuclear energy” and “prevent the threat of nuclear weapons.”

And BBC News suggests his thin margin of victory may hamper Amano’s leadership of the IAEA, though one would expect with the many hot-botten issues facing the IAEA Amano will have ample opportunities to increase his standing among nations that voted against him today:

Correspondents say his narrow victory may weaken his position, as many countries had stressed the need for the new head to be chosen with the broadest possible backing, to be able to tackle the threat of nuclear non-proliferation.

Some diplomats see Mr Amano as less political than the outgoing chief, Mr ElBaradei who, they say, has been too soft on Iran and too ready to speak out on matters outside his mandate.

Posted in IAEA | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Two Nonproliferation Press Notes: Syria Gets IAEA-OK for Nuclear Plant; S. Korea and Brazil Kick Off Nonproliferation Events

Posted by K.E. White on November 28, 2008

Interesting update from Syria, courtesy of the LATimes:

The International Atomic Energy Agency approved a contested Syrian bid for assistance in planning a nuclear power plant Wednesday after being assured that the effort would be closely monitored.     

The United States, Canada and Australia had led Western efforts to freeze the project while allegations of covert activity that could lead to nuclear weapons were investigated. But the U.S. and its allies finally joined a consensus in favor of the aid since they could not have won a vote, diplomats in the closed meeting said.

Syria’s request for the power plant aid, something rubber-stamped for many nations, degenerated into a political tug of war after an agency report suggested Damascus might have tried to build a nuclear reactor in secret…
And I want my tickets to Jeju Island and São Paulo, as any seriously aspiring non-proliferation should–at least this week.
From Brazzil Maganize’s coverage of two United Nations Conferences aiming to focus world-wide attention on WMD proliferation:

São Paulo, BrazilIn the Brazilian city of São Paulo, UN’s Office for Disarmament Affairs has organized a week-long workshop on implementing Security Council resolution 1540. That resolution, adopted by the Council in 2004, focuses on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The workshop aims to enhance national capacities for the management of export control processes at a practical level as well as to improve information and experience-sharing between national expert control and enforcement authorities.

Meanwhile the seventh annual Joint Conference on Disarmament and Non-proliferation issues, organized by the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs and South Korea, is taking place on Jeju Island.

This year’s conference will focus on such concerns as revitalizing the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) process, the nuclear renaissance, a multilateral assurance mechanism for nuclear fuel supply, and non-proliferation challenges in North-East Asia.

Jeju IslandSome 40 representatives of governments, international organizations, academic and research institutions, as well as civil society are expected to participate.

The annual event, which has been hosted by South Korea since 2002, is a forum for dialogue and the exchange of views on pressing security and disarmament-related issues facing the international community, addressing particular disarmament and non-proliferation concerns in the Asia-Pacific region.

Acknowledging that obstacles to nuclear disarmament are daunting, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said last month that it is more imperative than ever to make it a reality given the twin economic and financial crises the world is currently facing.


Posted in IAEA, Nonproliferation, Nuclear, proliferation, Syria, United Nations | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Proliferation Press Roundup: The Nuclear Energy Boom

Posted by K.E. White on February 2, 2008

The world’s energy are ensuring the proliferation of nuclear energy technology—suggesting an easier path for many nations to develop nuclear weapons. The deals will test the IAEA’s ability to foster nuclear cooperation, while ensuring dangerous materials remain safe and nations remain honest about their nuclear intentions. 

IAEA ElBaradei  talks nuclear energy cooperation with Egypt:

During his week-long visit to Egypt, ElBaradei is scheduled to meet with a number of senior officials on cooperation programs between the UN nuclear watchdog and Egypt in the field of peaceful use of nuclear energy, according to Egypt‘s official MENA news agency.

The IAEA chief will also meet with the Cairo-based Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, said MENA.

And America is cranking up its energy partnership with Russia:

U.S. nuclear power reactors will be able to obtain more supplies of Russian enriched uranium for fuel, under a trade deal signed by the two countries late on Friday.

The agreement will provide U.S. utilities with a reliable supply of nuclear fuel by allowing Russia to boost exports export to the United States while minimizing any disruption to the United States‘ domestic enrichment industry.

And Lithuania is one step closer to a joint nuclear energy venture with Sweden and Poland:

Lithuania‘s government won a parliamentary vote on Friday to merge a private and two state-owned energy companies into one group to invest in a new nuclear power plant and build connections to Sweden and Poland.

The vote will give a boost to delayed plans to build the new power station in cooperation with Poland, Latvia and Estonia, all countries that want to reduce their reliance on Russia for energy.

No wonder the International Herald Tribune calls nuclear the “power investment of 2008”:

Britain is part of a broader trend of growing support for nuclear energy in other countries. The French company Areva, the world’s largest builder of nuclear reactors, forecasts that 150 to 300 nuclear reactors will be built in the world from now to 2030. At least 50 of them will be built in China and India, according to news reports.

This is encouraging for global power plant builders like Mitsubishi Heavy Industries,Toshiba through its unit Westinghouse and Areva, which have all benefited from China’s investment in new nuclear in recent years. Analysts figure that decommissioning projects in more mature markets like Britain, Russia, Japan and France could prove to be an even bigger money maker for the nuclear industry. A review of the global decommissioning market, carried out by the Nuclear Industry Association in Britain, estimates such projects to be worth £300 billion over the next 30 years.

Posted in energy, IAEA, Nuclear | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Are Pakistan’s Nukes Safe? Four Viewpoints

Posted by K.E. White on January 10, 2008

Pakistan is entering yet another period of political unrest. But should we worry about Pakistani loose nukes? The answer to that question rests on two critical outcomes: Is Pakistan’s security system durable enough to withstand political chaos? And how entrenched are Islamic radicals in Pakistan command-and-control apparatus?

IAEA Chief El Baradei worries over Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal as he talks to Al Hayat:

I felt a great deal of anxiety over the Pakistani nuclear arsenal. Similarly, when for over a year I dealt with the Iranian nuclear case, I repeatedly warned against the use of force and reminded that we still had a lot of time for diplomatic solutions. We should not think of military solutions in the Iranian crisis or in any other crisis until we have exhausted all diplomatic solutions and are left with nothing but the military solution as a last resort. For now, we are still far from this.

When it comes to the Iranian issue, I continuously fear that the aftermath of any new war in the Middle East and the Islamic world, will not be in Iran which the world fears will have a nuclear bomb ten years from now. What I really fear is the aftermath in Pakistan, a troubled country with too many problems, an Islamic state that interacts with the Islamic world. I fear that an anarchic or radical regime will take over this nation which has up to 30 or 40 nuclear weapons. I fear more that a radical group in Pakistan or Afghanistan will acquire a nuclear weapon.

Pakistan’s foreign office was quick to respond to his concerns. From The Dawn:

“His remarks ignore the fact that the strategic assets of Pakistan are fully secure and under multi-layered safeguards and controls exercised by the National Command Authority,” Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Sadiq said at his weekly press briefing. International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei was quoted by pan-Arab Daily Al Hayat as saying in an interview: “I fear that chaos… or an extremist regime could take root in that country which has 30 to 40 warheads.”

The spokesman said Pakistan was a responsible nuclear weapon state. “Our nuclear weapons are as secure as that of any other nuclear weapon state. We, therefore, believe that statements expressing concerns about their safety and security are unwarranted and irresponsible.”

George Perkovick, a Senior Associate at Carnegie Institute, seems to agree. From his NPR radio interview:

“The military controls Pakistan. The thing the military cares most about is nuclear weapons so nuclear weapons are the most secure entity in Pakistan,” Perkovich said.

“What I’ve been worried about for years is not the nuclear weapons, it’s the domestic situation … the real worry, it’s the future of politics,” he said.

But Trudy Rubin espouses an opposing viewpoint:

The professional qualifications of the top security official were impressive. The system he described was complex and substantial. Counterintelligence on weapons security now comes directly to the top security official, not routed via other intelligence agencies, some of which have had past connections with jihadis.

OK, I said, let’s suppose the Pakistani security system works. But in a time of political uncertainty, could someone with Islamist sympathies take over the entire system? “The Taliban or al-Qaida are in no position to take over the central government and thereby the National Command Authority,” came back the swift answer. This is probably true.

The problem is that Pakistan is entering uncharted political waters. Under President Pervez Musharraf, the military has been ambivalent about taking on Pakistani militants and has become demoralized by losses sustained in jihadi attacks. No political leader except Ms. Bhutto has spelled out clearly that this is now Pakistan‘s war, not a proxy war for American interests.

The greatest fear of U.S. experts on Pakistan‘s nuclear security is that disgruntled insiders could penetrate the security system. I want to believe that the Pakistani security system can weed out bad actors before they get their hands on fissile material. But can we be sure?

Posted in Al Hayat, El Baradei, George Perkovick, IAEA, Mohammad Sadiq, Nuclear, Nuclear Weapons, Pakistan, Trudy Rubin | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

News Update: Syria’s Suspected Nuclear Site

Posted by K.E. White on November 1, 2007

Summary: Fox News talks with David Albright on his satellite analysis of Syria’s suspect nuclear site. And Oxford Analytica speculates on motives for Israel to overreact towards Syria’s mysterious site. And the IAEA investigation won’t make clearing anything up soon. 

Fox News talks with Albright, who suggests Israel’s attack was a rush-job:
 

“The Israelis stumbled upon this, were surprised and acted quickly,” Albright said. “And so we don’t know what evidence they collected or (if) they just panicked and decided to act without knowing and worried about the worse case.” 

Analysis of those previous images, taken by DigitalGlobe, found that the structure could be a nuclear facility at least several years from completion similar to one in North Korea, according to an ISIS report released last week.

Oxford Analytica lists reasons for an Israel overreaction, and suggests this nuclear mystery won’t clear up anytime soon:

The publicly available information could have other reasons for wanting to suggest the site was nuclear:

–Israel is anxious to rebuild an appearance of strength after its perceived setback at the hands of Hizbollah in Lebanon last year.

–Israel may also have been interested in taking action that might cause Iranian leaders to reconsider their own nuclear ambitions.

–Attacking an alleged nuclear facility in Syria–a much easier target than Iran–might serve both purposes.

If the site was a nuclear reactor under construction, it has serious implications for security in the region and on the global stage.

And such uncertainty appears to be crippling the IAEA investigation into the site. From Reuters:

A U.N. watchdog inquiry into a suspected Syrian covert nuclear site bombed by Israel may end inconclusively without more information than satellite pictures that are already available, a diplomat said on Wednesday.

The IAEA has been studying before-and-after commercial aerial photos of the site and has asked Syria for explanations. But Syria has not replied and the pictures alone are unlikely to yield conclusions, the diplomat told Reuters.

“IAEA experts are looking back at the evolution of this facility. But with these pictures alone they feel they may be unable to draw conclusions,” the diplomat, familiar with IAEA affairs but not authorised to speak on the record, told Reuters.

Oxford Analytica points out that Syria is a fully compliment member of both the NPT and IAEA member of the NPT. And guess what? “[The suspected nuclear site] was still several years away from completion and was not required to be declared to the IAEA at its early stage of construction.”

Posted in IAEA, International Atomic Energy Agency, Israel, Nuclear, Syria | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Syria’s Nuclear Update: Syria Denies and Destroys; IAEA Left in the Cold?

Posted by K.E. White on October 19, 2007

So Syria is trying to quell allegations that Israel bombed a nuclear facility within its territory. And all this confusion raises a serious question: Can the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) to effectively lead on nonproliferation efforts?

The equation of the Syrian nuclear press-blitz:

Denial + Destroy = Trust?

JTA Break News reports on Syrian plans to destroy the site, before it can be investigated by impartial parties:

Syria reportedly is clearing the remains of the alleged nuclear facility that Israel attacked last month.

Dismantling the site will make it difficult for International Atomic Energy Agency officials to learn what the facility was used for, the Washington Post reported Friday.

This will make it tough for IAEA inspectors, who noted with concern that IAEA-member Syria had not disclosed the site, in a tough spot.

But don’t worry: the United States has cleared up any confusion, via satellite photographs:

U.N. experts have received satellite imagery of the site struck last month by Israeli warplanes and are analyzing it for signs that it might have been a secret nuclear facility, diplomats said Friday.

One of the diplomats indicated that the photos came from U.S intelligence. Two others said the images, which have been studied by experts of the International Atomic Energy Agency since being received on Thursday, do not at first examination appear to substantiate reports that the target was a nuclear installation, but emphasized that the images were still under examination.

The diplomats, who were briefed on the agency’s receipt of the images, spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because their information was confidential. Officials of the Vienna-based nuclear watchdog had no comment.

The Syrian episode seems to reveal some stark limitations on the IAEA. If member nations cannot be trusted to either disclose nuclear activities or conclusively disprove other nations’ nuclear allegations, how can the IAEA effectively curb proliferation?

Posted in IAEA, International Atomic Energy Agency, Israel, Israeli strike, Nuclear, Syria | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Egypt Protests Eroding EU Support for Middle East Nuclear Free Zone

Posted by K.E. White on October 18, 2007

While Iran and North Korea nuclear ambitions dominate Western headlines, Israel’s undeclared-but-known nuclear weapons (aka ‘nuclear ambiguity) is a substantial hurdle to stemming Middle East nuclear proliferation. 

EU and aspiring EU members have backed off in their support for proclaiming a nuclear free zone in the Middle East. 

The reason? No, not Iran—but Israel. 

Whether one considers Israel’s nuclear forces justified or not, any long-term nonproliferation effort demand that Israel’s (along with India and Pakistan) nuclear status be declared and incorporated into international agreements on nuclear technology (i.e. the IAEA and NPT). 

From the Associated Press

European nations at past general conferences of the International Atomic Energy Agency have voted in favor of establishing a zone free of such arms. But at last month’s session, 25 of the 27 EU nations abstained as did other countries hoping to join the union. In all, 47 nations abstained. 

… 

This year, Israel and the United States opposed two paragraphs — one calling all nations in the Middle East “not to develop, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons,” the other urging nuclear weapons states to “refrain from any action” hindering the establishment of a Mideast zone free of nuclear weapons. Both passages were clearly aimed at Israel, which is thought to have nuclear weapons.

The vote prompted the Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit to send letters of protest to abstaining European nations. 

Arabnews.com describes the irritation experienced by Middle Eastern owing to the West’s tacit endorsement of Israel’s nuclear weapons—complicating nonproliferation efforts in this critical region.

However, the Egyptian and Syrian ambassadors yesterday signaled that their patience was wearing thin. “The fact that many UN and IAEA resolutions with regard to Israel’s nuclear capabilities are not carried out increases the frustration of the Arab peoples and threatens an arms race that could also threaten the peace and security of the region and the world,” said Othman.

He complained that Israel was the only country in the Middle East “to have nuclear weapons and nuclear capabilities which are not under international control.” It was, therefore, a legitimate concern “to ask Israel to join the other countries in the NPT” (the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty), Othman said.

Posted in Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Egypt, IAEA, International Atomic Energy Agency, Israel, Nuclear Weapons | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

ElBaradei goes to India…But To Talk About What?

Posted by K.E. White on October 9, 2007

ElBaradei is in India on a three day tour. His itinerary: inaugurating new cancer treatment technology (the Bhabhatron-II) and the Bhadha Atomic Research Centre in Mumbai. ElBaradei will also be meeting with political leaders, but not in reference to IAEA safeguards for the US India nuclear deal.

The IAEA must approve the US India nuclear deal, and must come to an understanding with India about inspections over nuclear sites. (Note: The current nuclear deal exempts ‘military’ facilities from IAEA inspections. What determines ‘civilian’ vs. ‘military’ nuclear facilities is just one issue that remains to be ironed out.)

The visit may inflame already tense negotiations over the deal within the ruling coalition government. India’s political left, an ally of the majority Congress Party, are not happy over the deal:

“Those who advocate the deal should know that India is capable of developing nuclear energy primarily on a self-reliant basis,” the four communist parties said in a joint release in New Delhi yesterday. “We need not surrender our vital interests to America on this plea.”

Prakash KaratThe New York Times provides an interesting article exploring the leader of the Indian Communist Party Prakash Karat and his party’s spoiler role in Indian politics.

From the Associated Press:

India’s government on Tuesday played down a visit by the chief of the U.N. atomic watchdog, denying he was there to negotiate a landmark nuclear deal between India and the United States that threatens to bring down the government.

Mohamed ElBaradei, whose International Atomic Energy Agency must approve the pact, said he was ready to discuss the agreement whenever Indian officials wished.

Speaking to reporters after a planned meeting with top Indian scientists, he said the “IAEA is ready for talks whenever India approaches me for the talks.”

And from The Hindu News Update:

“IAEA is ready for talks whenever the India approaches me for the talks,” Elbaradei, on a three-day visit to India, said after inaugurating the indigenously developed advanced computerised telecobalt machine `Bhabhatron-II’ for treatment of cancer here.

“The Indian government will have to take a decision,” he said adding, “I will wait for them to come to Vienna to make a formal request (in this regard).”

Posted in ElBaradei, IAEA, India, Prakash Karat, U.S. India Nuclear Deal | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

IAEA-White House Split Over Iran

Posted by K.E. White on October 3, 2007

Proliferation Press blogged earlier on the split between the White House and ElBaradei over Iran. A September 29th Associated Press article by George Jahn probes the same topic.

What is the source of the White House-IAEA divide? Is it a debate over IAEA authority of IAEA, or the Bush White House silencing dissident voices on Iran?

The AP article presents the views of IAEA Director General ElBaradei, the White House, UN inspector David Albright, and CAP fellow Joseph Cirincione:

“It is not only the core of my mandate to clarify Iran’s nuclear history — it is a central Security Council demand,” he told The Associated Press in comments e-mailed Friday defending his work plan and indirectly countering U.S. criticism that key IAEA members should have been consulted on it first.

“I continue, publicly and privately, to urge Iran to suspend,” he added, countering arguments that he is giving short shrift to Security Council demands. “I continue to call for a ‘double time out,’ which is actually the very same concept laid out in Security Council resolution: If you suspend enrichment, we will suspend sanctions.”

But discontent remains, said a senior U.S. official who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to express his views to the media.

“It’s frustrating that he is assisting the Iranians in delaying tactics and helping them do what they want to do,” he said.

David Albright, a former U.N. nuclear inspector, also was critical, saying that “because of the political sensitivity of the issue the board should have been consulted.”

“I think what the U.S. is objecting to is that ElBaradei is trying to use the IAEA to do international diplomacy,” he said. “ElBaradei doesn’t have that mandate.”

Suggesting the cooperation plan is flawed, Albright said that by embracing it, ElBaradei was “fitting the facts on the ground” to try to prevent armed conflict over Iran in a similarly selective way that the Bush administration did to justify the invasion of Iraq.

But Joseph Cirincione, director for nuclear policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, said those critical of ElBaradei “should take a deep, hard look at their own role and record for the war in Iraq.

“We have an American government seemingly itching to go to war, and we find that those who are proposing negotiations and inspections instead of war are themselves coming under attack,” he said.

Posted in Bush administration, David Albright, ElBaradei, George Jahn, IAEA, Iran, Joseph Cirincione, White House | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »