Russia violated ‘91 START till end, U.S. report finds

Russia continued to violate provisions of the 1991 START nuclear-arms treaty up until the agreement expired in December, raising new concerns that Moscow will violate the pending “New START” treaty now being debated for ratification in the Senate.

The 2010 State Department report on arms-control compliance, which had been requested by Senate Republicans as part of the START ratification debate, also discloses new details showing Iran is secretly working on nuclear-missile warheads, and includes new information about nuclear programs by North Korea and Syria.

On Russia’s START violations, the report stated: “Notwithstanding the overall success of START implementation, a number of long-standing compliance issues that were raised in the START Treaty’s Joint Compliance and Inspection Commission (JCIC) remained unresolved when the Treaty expired on December 5, 2009.”

The unclassified report, “Adherence to and Compliance With Arms Control, Nonproliferation and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments,” is set to be released publicly Wednesday. A copy of the report was obtained by The Washington Times.

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The report said that U.S. and Russian officials sought to resolve the compliance issues.

Release of the compliance report followed dispatch of an earlier State Department analysis to Congress on arms verification that concluded that Russian cheating on the new START treaty would not be significant.

Classified versions of the arms-compliance report were sent earlier to the Senate, and sources said they did not present a complete outline of START issues between 2006 and 2010.

Under pressure from the Obama administration, Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hope to approve the treaty and send it to the full Senate before the monthlong August recess. But that gives Senate leaders only a limited number of working days in September to deal with the treaty before adjourning for the midterm-elections campaign.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry and Indiana Sen. Richard G. Lugar, the panel’s ranking Republican, back the treaty, but the administration still needs the support of several GOP senators to obtain the required two-thirds majority for ratification.

The compliance report is required under the Arms Control and Disarmament Act, and the last report sent to Congress was in 2005. That report also noted several major Russian START treaty violations.

The latest report said that the United States had raised new compliance issues since the 2005 report. 

“The United States considered several of these [issues] to have been closed,” the report said. “A number of the remaining issues highlighted the different interpretations of the parties about how to implement the complex inspection and verification provisions of the START Treaty.”

The recent violations were not identified in detail. However, the report stated that past violations included Moscow’s blocking inspections of mobile missile warheads — a significant problem that specialists say could allow Russia to create a large, hidden warhead stockpile.

The 2005 survey reported those violations and also the issue of Russia’s failure to provide data tapes containing information provided by missile flight tests to ground stations, known as telemetry.

Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican and a key voice in the START ratification debate, stated in a speech in October that Russia also violated START by its development of a multiple-warhead SS-27 missile variant that he said showed Moscow “cheated,” if not in the letter then the spirit of the 1991 treaty.

Mr. Kyl said the administration needed to tell the Senate whether the violations outlined in the 2005 report had been resolved and whether there are provisions for dealing with treaty violations with the new agreement.

On Iran’s nuclear program, the report to be released Wednesday reveals that U.S. intelligence agencies still think that Iran halted work on its nuclear-weapons program in 2003, but provides new details showing that Tehran has failed to comply with International Atomic Energy Agency controls on its extensive nuclear program.

Specifically, the report said Iran has not explained evidence showing that it is working on a nuclear warhead for the Shahab-3 missile, and tested detonators and explosives for nuclear arms.

The report said the evidence showed Iran worked on casting uranium metal into hemispheres, like those used in the pit of a nuclear bomb; evidence of work on detonating a high explosive in “hemispherical geometry,” also for a nuclear bomb; and the modification of a warhead for the Shahab 3. Iran also did underground explosives testing that appeared to be nuclear arms, the report said.

The information on Iran’s nuclear-weapons program was derived from several IAEA member-states and was “derived from multiple sources over different periods of time, is detailed in content, and appears to be generally consistent.”

The report said the nuclear-watchdog group uncovered “credible evidence that Iran has both received nuclear-weapons designs and worked indigenously on its own design.”

“Iran has refused to cooperate with the IAEA during this reporting period and serious questions remain concerning potential military dimensions,” the report said.

On North Korea, the report stated for the first time that the covert Pakistani nuclear-supplier network headed by A.Q. Khan “provided a starter kit for a highly-enriched uranium program with approximately 20 P-1 centrifuges” to Pyongyang.

The report also identified Syria’s covert nuclear reactor at Al Kibar that was bombed by Israeli warplanes in 2007, saying Syria’s actions surrounding the site suggest it was pursuing a military nuclear program. The report said, “Al Kibar was a nuclear reactor being constructed with North Korean assistance.”

“That Syria clandestinely built a nuclear reactor, apparently intended for plutonium production, without providing any information to the IAEA, indicates that Syria was likely pursuing a non-peaceful nuclear program,” the report said, noting that Damascus has refused international efforts to resolve the issue of the reactor.

A new nuclear worry identified in the report is Burma’s apparent effort to develop a nuclear program, again with North Korean assistance. The report said the United States “will continue to be alert to any indications of [Burma’s] nuclear-weapons-related activities or intentions to develop a nuclear-weapons capability.”

The Burma nuclear program began in 2007 with the sale of a Russian nuclear reactor to the military junta.

Chinese state-run companies were also cited in the report for continuing illicit transfers of nuclear technology and equipment with weapons applications.

“During the reporting period, foreign entities continued to attempt to acquire nuclear-related materials and dual-use equipment from Chinese suppliers,” the report said.

 

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

About the Author
Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.

He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.

Mr. ...

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