I wanted to bring readers’ attention to a paper I recently wrote on strategic trade controls. It’s forthcoming in an edited collection, but it’s available now on SSRN at this link. STCs are a subject I’ve been working on for about 18 years, since my days of studying and working with the excellent staff at the University of Georgia Center for International Trade and Security. STCs are an often undervalued but extremely important part of the overall system of WMD nonproliferation law. I wrote this piece based upon both my academic work in the area, and the work on the ground I’ve done over the past few years advising the Government of Jordan on the creation of their new transit and transshipment STC law. I hope some find it a useful explication of the area.
I know I’ve been a bit quiet lately. I am working on a new book on the TPNW in its context within international nuclear weapons law. I’ve also been traveling to Jordan a lot the past few years to assist in their development of a strategic trade control transit and transshipment law and implementing regulations.
Obviously a lot going on in the arms control law world. Most important is probably the imminent demise of New START and the Trump administration’s disingenuous demand that any new nuclear arms control treaty include China.
But in the midst of everything else going on, I have been provided with the newly released 2019 IAEA Safeguards Implementation Report by a friend acting in the interest of transparency. SIRs are always fascinating sources of information about the IAEA’s work. This one comes with an annex describing the facilities subject to IAEA safeguards around the world. So enjoy reading these and I’ll get back to work on my book.
Best wishes to all.
[Cross-posted from The Trench]
From 17 until 28 June I ran an Executive Course on Export Control at the M. Narikbayev KAZGUU University in Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana), Kazakhstan. Its goal was twofold. First, it tested in a real university setting parts of a master’s course on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) dual-use technology transfer controls I have been developing since February 2018. Its second purpose was to attract interest in organising the full master’s course from other Central Asian academic institutes.
Set in the broader context of peace and disarmament education, the Executive Course posed considerable challenges from the perspective of educational methodology and the participants’ varied professional and cultural backgrounds. Contrary to many vocational training initiatives in treaty implementation assistance or strengthening treaty norms, the Executive Course (and the fuller master’s course on CBRN dual-use technology transfer controls) sought to deepen the general understanding of the security concerns about dual-use technologies, make participants understand how these might affect their own work and responsibilities both as a professional and an individual, and help them to identify and address issues of dual-use concern. As a general conceptual framework, the recommendations presented by the Advisory Board on Education and Outreach (ABEO) of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in its Report On The Role Of Education And Outreach in Preventing The Re-emergence of Chemical Weapons (OPCW document ABEO-5/1, 12 February 2018) guided both the preparations and the conduct of the Executive Course.
This blog posting introduces the master’s course, describes the preparations for the Executive course, identifies challenges that emerged in the planning phase and while the course was underway, and discusses how they were overcome.
Find the full report below. One particular paragraph of interest:
24. Iran continues to provisionally apply the Additional Protocol to its Safeguards Agreement in accordance with Article 17(b) of the Additional Protocol, pending its entry into force. The Agency has continued to evaluate Iran’s declarations under the Additional Protocol, and has conducted complementary accesses under the Additional Protocol to all the sites and locations in Iran which it needed to visit. Timely and proactive cooperation by Iran in providing such access facilitates implementation of the Additional Protocol and enhances confidence.
I received a copy of the 2018 Safeguards Implementation Report from a friend. Find a link to it below.
A different friend, Jonathan Tirone, wrote a typically excellent summary of some of the takeaway points from the SIR regarding Iran inspections today over at Bloomberg News. You can find his story here.
For ease of reference, I’ll also paste the text of his story below. All of this is relevant to the current Trump-imposed crisis regarding Iranian compliance with the JCPOA.
Iran Snap Nuclear Inspections Jump as Tensions With U.S. Rise
May 10, 2019, 9:39 AM CDT
Snap inspections at Iranian nuclear facilities jumped last year, underscoring the wide-reaching ability of international monitors to access potential sites that could feed clandestine research.
The finding was included in the International Atomic Energy Agency’s latest Safeguards Implementation Report, which is circulating among nuclear-security officials as the specter of another Middle Eastern conflict rises. Europe in particular has found itself squeezed between hostile governments in Washington and Tehran after the U.S. left the nuclear deal and slapped sanctions on Iran.
According to a copy of the restricted report published this week and obtained by Bloomberg News, inspectors deployed in Iran conducted a record number of so-called complementary accesses for a third year running in 2018. Almost 400 inspectors spent some 1,867 person-days combing Iranian sites and triggered more than three surprise visits a month.
“These snap inspections are a reflection of the concern, particularly among Europeans, that Iran would ramp up nuclear work in a clandestine fashion after the U.S. left the nuclear deal,” said Ellie Geranmayeh, a senior fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.
Iran Snap Inspections
Monitors conducted more than three surprise visits a month last year
Source: IAEA Safeguards Implementation Report
Iran on Wednesday warned that it would abandon some elements of the 2015 accord if European nations failed to come up with ways to protect banking and oil business within 60 days. A day later the U.S., which left the agreement a year ago and is sending a carrier strike force to the Persian Gulf, piled on more penalties.
The escalation is disconcerting to non-proliferation officials who see the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between Iran and world powers as a model agreement, one that bestowed unprecedented powers and access to international monitors.
The agreement “amounts to the most robust verification system in existence anywhere in the world,” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said last month in Washington after meeting with U.S. officials.
Since the deal came into force in January 2016, IAEA inspectors have issued 14-straight reports showing that Iran has remained within the parameters of the deal.
That could change during the third quarter, after the U.S. revoked two waivers that permitted Iran to ship out enriched uranium and heavy water. Delivering his response to a year of U.S. pressure, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that recent enriched-uranium stockpiles would exceed limits if the country isn’t allowed to send its inventories of the heavy metal overseas.
Four years of IAEA verification, amounting to more than 8,000 inspection days and more than 100 snap inspections, have cost about 85.5 million euros ($96 million), or about three-fifths the cost of a single F-35 fighter jet made by Lockheed Martin Corp.
Iran Monitoring Costs
Total inspections costs are less than EU100 million under the deal
Source: IAEA Safeguards Implementation Report
“We’re seeing the cost of keeping peace through this diplomatic accord far cheaper than the cost of a potential military confrontation,” according to Geranmayeh, who advises EU governments. “That’s something to consider for a cost conscious U.S. president that complains about ‘forever wars’. The cost of the deal is a drop in the ocean.”
I recently came into possession of the IAEA Director General’s February 22, 2019 report to the Board of Governors on IAEA verification activities in Iran. See it at the link below. It states in relevant part that
Iran continues to provisionally apply the Additional Protocol to its Safeguards Agreement in accordance with Article 17(b) of the Additional Protocol, pending its entry into force. The Agency has continued to evaluate Iran’s declarations under the Additional Protocol, and has conducted complementary accesses under the Additional Protocol to all the sites and locations in Iran which it needed to visit.
and in summary that
The Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material at the nuclear facilities and locations outside facilities where nuclear material is customarily used (LOFs) declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement. Evaluations regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities for Iran remained ongoing.
This isn’t news other than the fact that the IAEA, once again, determines that Iran is fully living up to its end of the JCPOA, even though the US is no longer keeping its commitments under the deal.
This is in keeping with the U.S. intelligence community’s recently re-iterated assessment that Iran is not currently undertaking activities relevant to developing a nuclear weapon, contrary to high profile yet erroneous assertions by the Trump administration.
It is also remarkable that this report does not mention the trove of documents which Israel claims to have appropriated from a storage facility in Iran and which, Israel says, provides evidence that Iran lied about its past nuclear weapon related activities.
Even though Israel and the U.S. have been lobbying IAEA Director General Amano hard to re-open the IAEA’s assessment regarding the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program, which it provided in 2015 in conjunction with the adoption of the JCPOA, so far the IAEA does not seem impressed by the alleged revelations. At least not impressed enough to change their assessment, or even mention the new claims in this most recent report.
I think it’s important to keep noting that Iran, as well as the other JCPOA parties other than the U.S., are still committed to the deal and recognize its importance. The U.S. decision to cease upholding its commitments under the JCPOA was wrongheaded – based on incorrect assertions about Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA, and in the end clearly just the product of a President who thinks that no deal agreed to by anyone but him is any good.
I’m very pleased to host a guest post from an old friend of mine, and A-list international law academic, James Green. James is Professor of Public International Law at Reading University. He has written widely on international use of force law, WMD proliferation law, and he most recently wrote an acclaimed book on the persistent objector principle.
In this post, James considers what would happen if Bruce Willis movies predicted the future. I’ll leave it to James to explain 🙂
But seriously, this is in fact a very interesting legal area due to the various treaty and customary law principles it implicates. Take it away, James . . .
Planetary Defense and International Law: Balancing Risks
By: Dr. James A. Green
Professor of Public International Law, University of Reading (UK)
Major asteroid impact is a low-probability, but high-consequence risk. Large ‘Near-Earth Objects’ (NEOs) don’t hit Earth often, but there have been at least 5 extinction-events in the history of our planet because of such impacts (not least, the end of the dinosaurs). Of course, low probability risks are easily dismissed, however high the consequences of them manifesting might be, and, until recently, the countries of the world largely viewed the threat posed by NEOs as something best left to Hollywood films like Armageddon or Deep Impact. Limited funding, a lack of coordinated strategies and infrastructure, and a pervading absence of political will all meant that – had a large collision-course asteroid appeared 20 (or even 5) years ago – our chances of responding to it in time might have been pretty slim.
But that’s all changed, following the impact (in more ways than one) of the meteoroid that hit Chelyabinsk in Russia in 2013, which injured over a thousand people. Suddenly, the NEO threat became ‘real’, and major players – the US, Russia and the EU – all started pumping money into NEO preparedness, and developing formal strategies for response (see, for example, the production of the US’s first ever National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy in December 2016). At the UN, we’ve witnessed the recent creation of an embryonic international institutional infrastructure, with new inter-state bodies to detect (IAWN) and respond (SMPAG) to asteroids. The risk of asteroid cataclysm hasn’t changed – it’s still extremely unlikely any time soon, but very likely at some point in the next 100,000 years (who knows when?) – but what has changed is that humanity now has the global political will and infrastructure to begin to be in a position to respond, if needed.
Alongside this, there is an increasingly strong, if not unanimous, scientific view that the use of nuclear weapons would in many cases be our best hope of responding to a collision-course NEO. NASA has quantified the use of nuclear weapons as being between 10-100 times more effective than any non-nuclear alternative. In line with this view, the newfound (post-Chelyabinsk) governmental and inter-governmental focus on NEO preparedness has particularly engaged in developing what we might term the ‘nuclear option’. For example, even before the end of 2013, the US and Russia had mooted working on a nuclear planetary defense initiative together. That now seems to be on hold given current tensions between the two states (Crimea, Trump’s election, Salisbury, you name it), but the very fact that these nations – given their shared nuclear history – seriously considered the possibility of joint nuclear action against asteroids speaks volumes.