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Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
U.S. to Press for Continued Commitment to G-8 Nonproliferation Program
The Obama administration intends at this weekend's summit of the Group of Eight leading industrial nations to push for sustained funding for a multibillion-dollar program aimed at preventing the proliferation of unconventional weapons, a senior State Department official said in an Arms Control Today report this week (see GSN, Feb. 28).
The G-8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction was established in 2002 by Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The nations in 2011 pledged to continue the program past its originally planned expiration this year and -- joined by a number of other contributor states -- are looking to expand efforts beyond the former Soviet Union.
"Spending $22 billion in 10 years substantially reduced the risk of proliferation of weapons and materials from the former Soviet Union," according to Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation Thomas Countryman. "It was generously funded by G-8 members and others, and its accomplishment is huge. It’s natural, last year and this year, to look into a couple of new dimensions, to look beyond only nuclear materials and consider other proliferation challenges, including biological hazards. It’s also natural to look beyond the former Soviet Union to other regions of the world that confront some of the same issues, in the nuclear, biological, or other fields."
President Obama has already dedicated the United States to delivering no less than $10 billion over a decade to the effort, Countryman said. As chair of the G-8 gathering on Friday and Saturday at Camp David, Maryland, Obama will promote the program to his fellow leaders.
"I think we will be pressing countries to make commitments; whether we will press them to make commitments to specific numbers, I think we’ll see," Countryman said during an April interview.
He added: "It’s tricky to get into the game of setting a number and then setting some of our partners up for public criticism if they are unable to meet that number. We were successful in setting a specific number back in 2002, and we were successful in spending and exceeding that on valuable programs that contributed to global security. It is a different moment in time today economically. And I would be hard pressed to say that there is the same value in setting a specific number target at this moment."
The program's accomplishments as of February included elimination of more than 20,000 tons of chemical warfare materials; disassembly of atomic submarines and the secure removal and storage of the vessels' nuclear waste; augmenting of border capacities to prevent the smuggling of nuclear and radiological substances; and outreach to weapon developers and scientists to prevent diversion of expertise.
Not all anticipated projects and contributions materialized during the sometimes-troubled first decade of the partnership, Arms Control Today noted (see GSN, Aug. 16, 2010). Nonetheless, the partnership is taking on new programmatic challenges.
"What do we do in terms of new fields? I guess I would talk about biosecurity first. It’s not only a question of preventing the proliferation of technology that can contribute to a biological weapons program," Countryman said. "Our entire concept of how the world defends itself against the threat of biological weapons rests upon the capabilities of the world community and individual nations to detect, deter, and respond to biological attacks.
"The detection and the response is the same for a natural or an accidental outbreak as it is for a deliberate release of a biological weapon. And we have already seen that pathogens crossing from the natural environment into the human environment have had health and economic consequences in many parts of the world. It is being able to monitor that, detect, and react rapidly," he said. "This is where the United States has built up its capabilities for national biodefense in such an event and is working hard with partner countries to develop the same kind of detection and response capability, provid(ing) a double insurance policy against both natural and deliberate introduction of disease into the human environment."
Kazakhstan this year became the 24 participating state in the partnership effort, the official said (see GSN, Feb. 24).
"Our cooperation with Kazakhstan in the nonproliferation field has been excellent. ... They’ve been a model partner in this area, and they are also an example of a country that has accomplished so much with the assistance of the Global Partnership program, that they now have the resources and the expertise to share those accomplishments and that experience with other countries in need of the same kind of work," according to Countryman.
"On specific accomplishments, you saw the announcement at the Seoul summit by Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation, and the United States of substantial completion of cleanup at the Semipalatinsk site (see GSN, March 27). Cleanup may be too strong a word -- securing of vulnerable materials at that site," he said. "That’s huge. This was one of the greatest concentrations of vulnerable material in the world. And as we close in on completion of that task, it has been a substantial success for the goal of nuclear security. We have cooperation in the biosecurity field as well, with Kazakhstan, both through the State Department and through other agencies" (Arms Control Today, May 2012).
March 12, 2013
The UNSCR 1540 Resource Collection examines implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540, which requires all states to implement measures aimed at preventing non-state actors from acquiring NBC weapons, related materials, and their means of delivery. It details implementation efforts in all of the regions and countries of the world to-date.
Next Steps in Reducing Nuclear Risks: The Pace of Nonproliferation Work Today Doesn't Match the Urgency of the Threat
March 5, 2013
The fifth in a series of Wall Street Journal op-eds calling for bold action to reduce nuclear dangers.
This article provides an overview of the United States’ historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.