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G-8 Leaders Set to Approve Nonproliferation Plan

By Mike Nartker

Global Security Newswire

SAVANNAH, Ga. — The leaders of the world’s top eight economic powers are expected to approve a nonproliferation action plan later today that includes a one-year freeze on the export of uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing capabilities, a U.S. senior administration official said yesterday.

The plan is set to be approved during this year’s summit of the Group of Eight — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States — being held from yesterday to Thursday at Sea Island, Ga. The plan, which the senior administration official described as one of the “most significant” issues being considered by the G-8, includes several nuclear-related nonproliferation measures intended to follow up on proposals made by U.S. President George W. Bush earlier this year (see GSN, Feb. 12).

During a Feb. 11 speech at the National Defense University, Bush called for the elimination of a “loophole” in the current nuclear nonproliferation regime that allows countries to develop a nuclear weapons program under the guise of seeking civilian nuclear power. Among the measures Bush proposed was a ban on the export of uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing capabilities, which can be used to develop both weapon-grade materials and civilian nuclear power plant fuel, to those countries that do not already possess such capabilities. The G-8 action plan set to be approved today includes a one-year freeze on new initiatives to export enrichment and reprocessing capabilities, as well as a one-year deadline to develop new guidelines for such transfers, the senior administration official said.

The G-8 action plan is also expected to seek a mandate that countries sign Additional Protocols to their International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards agreements as a requirement to receive civilian nuclear equipment, according to the senior administration official. The Additional Protocol gives the agency the authority to conduct more intrusive monitoring of a country’s nuclear activities. 

The issue of using the Additional Protocol as a prerequisite for transfers of nuclear equipment was discussed last month in Sweden at this year’s meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a multilateral export control regime that governs trade in nuclear-related technology, a U.S. State Department official told Global Security Newswire yesterday on the sidelines of the summit (see GSN, May 28). Group members then indicated support for requiring that the Additional Protocol be ratified and entered into force by countries seeking nuclear equipment, but no decision has yet been made, the State Department official said.

Following Bush’s proposals earlier this year, the G-8 action plan is also expected to endorse the creation of a special committee of the IAEA Board of Governors responsible for strengthened safeguards and verification, the senior administration official said. The action plan is further expected to endorse the recusal of countries under investigation by the agency from both the IAEA board and the new special committee regarding their cases, the official said. 

In addition to measures intended to strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation regime, the G-8 action plan would also endorse several broader nonproliferation measures, according to the senior administration official. For example, the G-8 leaders are expected to announce today the addition of seven donor countries to the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, a G-8 initiative launched in 2002 to pledge $20 billion over 10 years to fund nonproliferation projects, primarily in Russia. The official said the new donor countries include Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, New Zealand (see GSN, June 1), South Korea and the Czech Republic. The contributions of the new countries to the Global Partnership are expected to be initially modest, the official said.

The official said that Canada and Russia are set to soon announce the signing of a bilateral agreement that would allow Canada’s pledged contribution of $739 million to be fully implemented in Russia. In addition, the European Union has indicated that it would increase by the end of the year its pledged contribution, which stands at more than $1 billion, the official said.

In addition, the Global Partnership is also expected to be expanded to help fund the redirection of former Libyan and Iraqi WMD scientists to civilian research projects, the senior administration official said. The official said that former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein maintained a cadre of as many as 1,000 scientists and technicians with the knowledge needed to relaunch Iraq’s nuclear weapons efforts, of which the United States has identified 400 to 500 who need to be redirected to civilian research (see related GSN story, today).

The partnership aims eventually to add other former Soviet states as recipients of the G-8 program’s funds, and U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton today told GSN that such a development could take place by the end of the year (see related GSN story, today). However, this week’s summit is not likely to announce that decision, the senior administration official said yesterday.

The G-8 action plan is also set to include an agreement to expand and strengthen the Proliferation Security Initiative, a U.S-led effort launched last year to interdict shipments of WMD-related cargo, the senior administration official said. The United States has recently called for the initiative to be expanded to target facilities that produce WMD-related materials and proliferation financiers, as well as WMD-related cargo shipments. 

The senior administration official also said that the G-8 action plan would include an endorsement of U.N. Resolution 1540, which requires all U.N. members to criminalize WMD proliferation (see GSN, April 29).

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