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Status Brief

Developmental Milestones/Developments to Date:

Current Assessment/State of the Field:




Oppenheimer, AndyCBRN Weapons: The Growing ThreatNATO’s Nations & Partners for Peace, Volume 48 Issue 3. Pages 14-23. 2003

  1. “Before and since the September 11 attacks, evidence has mounted that terrorist groups and terrorist-sponsoring nations are developing or acquiring CBRN capabilities.” – page 16
  2. “North Korea created an international crisis in late 2002, when an official admitted to a US envoy that his country had restarted a programme to produce highly enriched uranium (HEU)” – page 16
  3. “The crisis gathered pace when North Korea withdrew from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT); expelled inspectors from the United Nations-backed International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); and announced it had restarted its nuclear reprocessing plant at Yongbyon to produce plutonium.” – page 16
  4. “The world’s attention is now on Iran, on which pressure is mounting from not just the US, but also from the UN, the EU, and Russia, to sign an Additional Protocol to the NPT to allow the IAEA more access to Iran’s nuclear sites.” – page 16
  5. “…Iranians continue to insist that they are developing a nuclear power industry only, claiming it needs to save its vast oil reserves for export.” – page 16
  6. “The actions of North Korea and Iran threaten to consign the NPT to history if they continue in their current nuclear direction.” – page 17
  7. “Iran also has a well-established CBW (chemical and biological weapons) programme… it has stocks of up to 2,000 tonnes of weaponized CW agents, including choking, blister, and blood agents. The US believes that Iran has also produced the nerve agent Sarin.” – page 17
  8. “Syria is believed to have one of the developing world’s most extensive CW programmes, having allegedly received CW assistance and chemical agents from Egypt in the 1970s, and by 1986 had an indigenous capability to produce and weaponise sarin and VX nerve agents, and mustard blister agent.” – page 17
  9. “Unlike several of its Arab neighbors (Iran, Iraq, and Libya), Syria has never tested CW.” – page 17

NPT, WMD, Export Control, Iran, North Korea, Syria


Kaliadin, Aleksandr, “In Search of an Effective Coercive Strategy to Deter Weapons of Mass Destruction,” Russian Social Science Review, Vol. 49, no. 2, March-April 2008, pp. 77-93.

  1. “The PSI (Proliferation Security Initiative) aims at keeping proliferators away from the materials necessary for developing WMDs and their delivery systems by monitoring the trade routes used for proliferation and intercepting suspicious cargoes.”
  2. “Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), believes that the ‘black market’ in nuclear technologies and materials has become a reality and exists outside the effective control of either the IAEA or the leading special services.”
  3. “(NPT) does not impose sanctions on member states …(BWC) also has no statement on sanctions …(CWC) were not designed to curb proliferation among nonstate structures.”
  4. “An essential flaw of the nonproliferation treaties is that they stipulate no mechanisms for the physical prevention of the activities they ban.”
  5. “The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced its decision to support the PSI on 31 May 2004, on its first anniversary.”
  6. “(UNSCR) Resolution 1540, …helps establish the necessary legal foundations for PSI-related activities. …its key statements and its messages are in line with PSI’s principles.”
  7. “During the first half of the year (2004) PSI participants conducted ten exercises: five at sea, three in the air, and two on the ground.”
  8. “The highly sensitive information on which PSI operations must be based will demand a qualitatively new (and unprecedented) level of cooperation between Russian and U.S. state agencies.”
  9. “Russian … first greeted the initiative (PSI) with restraint, even with skepticism and distrust.” {further discussion on Russian perspective excluded}
  10. “Russia faces complex challenges in balancing the requirements to promote WMD nonproliferation against the need to develop the nuclear and other branches of industry that manufacture and export dual-use goods and technologies and to reassess its regional geopolitical interests.”
  11. “It is vital to Russia’s interests that its strategic stability not be undermined by its neighbors acquiring nuclear arms while Russia is reducing its own strategic offensive weapons–for economic and technical reasons, among others.”

PSI, NPT, BWC, CWC, UNSCR 1540, Dual Use, WMD, Russia


Sanger, David, E., Baker, Peter, “Obama to Adopt Narrowed Stand on Nuclear Arms,” NYT, A1, April 6, 2010.

  1. “Mr. Obama described his policy as part of a broader effort to edge the world toward making nuclear weapons obsolete, and to create incentives for countries to give up any nuclear ambitions.”
  2. “[Obama] seekes to reshape the nation’s nuclear posture for a new age in which rogue states and terrorist organizations are greater threats than tradition al powers like Russia and China.”
  3. “For the first time, the United States is explicitly committing not to use nuclear weapons against nonnuclear states that are in compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, even if they attacked the United States with biological or chemical weapons or launched a crippling cyberattack.”
  4. “White House officials said the new strategy would include the option of reconsidering the use of nuclear retaliation against a biological attack, if development of such weapons reached a level that made the United States vulnerable to a devastating strike.”
  5. “But the President said in an interview that he was carving out an exception for ‘outliers like Iran and North Korea’ that have violated or renounced the main treaty to halt nuclear proliferation.”

Nuclear, Bioterrorism, UNSCR 1540, Nonproliferation, Iran, North Korea, Russia, China, NPT


Mousavian, HosseinIran Wants a Nuclear Deal, Not War” January 21, 2013. The Guardian. Last Checked March 28, 2013.

  1. “Although the report is the work of The Project on US Middle East Nonproliferation Strategy – and is supposedly about nonproliferation – its authors have concentrated on punitive measures against Iran, and none against Israel.”
  2. “However, Iran has been fairly compliant: it has ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and has given the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) more than 4,000 man-days’ worth of inspections in recent years. According to the US National Intelligence Estimate’s assessment in 2007 and 2011, Iran does not have an active nuclear-weapons programme.”
  3. “The demands on capping and exporting go beyond the treaty, and even the additional protocol. More than 70 countries have not yet signed up to the protocol; and certain member states of the IAEA enrich uranium to 96%, with tonnes of uranium stockpiled beyond domestic needs.”
  4. “Iran cannot accept such demands for free, and the IAEA is not in position to negotiate reciprocations.”
  5. “Nevertheless, those familiar with the realities of nuclear negotiations know very well that Iran has both publicly and in private meetings with the P5+1 indicated its readiness to accept all the above major demands. In return Iran expects recognition of its legitimate right to enrichment under the NPT and the lifting of sanctions – but unfortunately the western powers among the P5+1 have not signed up to such a deal.”

Nuclear, Iran, NPT, Nonproliferation, WMD


Dr Muthiah Algappa, “Accept reality of Asian nuclear era” February 19, 2013. New Strats Times (Malaysia). Last Checked April 1, 2013.

  1. “Pyongyang is on its way to develop a nuclear weapon capability that can be delivered at short range and in due course over longer ranges including to the United States, China and Russia.”
  2. ”As expected, the international community has reacted to the test with tighter sanctions and will try to induce North Korea to the long-stalled six-party talks.”
  3. “It is no longer possible for international security assurances to cap or roll back the North Korean nuclear weapons programme. The world must now confront the reality of a nuclear North Korea.”
  4. “North Korea can do little with its nuclear weapon capability except to deter aggression and blackmail.”
  5. “Non-proliferation enthusiasts would contend that accepting the North Korea as a nuclear weapons state would further undermine the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime.”
  6. “The Asian nuclear era is fundamentally different from that of the Cold War. It is opportune to begin exploration of the roles and significance of nuclear weapons in contemporary Asia, develop concepts and strategies germane to the Asian nuclear situation, identity risks and dangers including acquisition by non-state actors, and explore how they may be ameliorated and addressed.”

Nuclear, North Korea, NPT, Nonproliferation, WMD


Fisher, MaxHere’s North Korea’s official declaration of war” March 30, 2013. The Washington Post. Last Checked April 3, 2013.

  1. “First, North and South Korea have technically been at a state of war since the Korean War began six decades ago. So, while this “declaration of war” certainly sounds scary, the rhetoric alone does not change anything substantial.”
  2. “Second, North Korea does not appear to have taken many concrete steps toward actual war.”
  3. “And, third, the Kaesong Industrial Complex, a large facility staffed by South and North Korean workers just on the northern side of the border, is still running smoothly, according to Reuters.”
    Brief of North Korea’s Official Declaration of War Below:
  4. “The important decision made by him is the declaration of a do-or-die battle to provide an epochal occasion for putting an end to the history of the long-standing showdown with the U.S. and opening a new era. It is also a last warning of justice served to the U.S., south Korean group and other anti-reunification hostile forces. The decision reflects the strong will of the army and people of the DPRK to annihilate the enemies.”
  5. “Now the heroic service personnel and all other people of the DPRK are full of surging anger at the U.S. imperialists’ reckless war provocation moves, and the strong will to turn out as one in the death-defying battle with the enemies and achieve a final victory of the great war for national reunification true to the important decision made by Kim Jong Un.”
  6. “…The U.S. made B-2A stealth strategic bomber and other ultra-modern strategic strike means fly from the U.S. mainland to south Korea to stage a bombing drill targeting the DPRK. This is an unpardonable and heinous provocation and an open challenge.”
  7. “The hostile forces will clearly realize the iron will, matchless grit and extraordinary mettle of the brilliant commander of Mt. Paektu that the earth cannot exist without Songun Korea.”
  8. “Time has come to stage a do-or-die final battle.”
  9. “1.From this moment, the north-south relations will be put at the state of war and all the issues arousing between the north and the south will be dealt with according to the wartime regulations.”
  10. “Accordingly, the DPRK will immediately punish any slightest provocation hurting its dignity and sovereignty with resolute and merciless physical actions without any prior notice.”
  11. “2. If the U.S. and the South Korean puppet group perpetrate a military provocation for igniting a war against the DPRK in any area including the five islands in the West Sea of Korea or in the area along the Military Demarcation Line, it will not be limited to a local war, but develop into an all-out war, a nuclear war.”
  12. “The first strike of the revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK will blow up the U.S. bases for aggression in its mainland and in the Pacific operational theatres including Hawaii and Guam and reduce not only its military bases in south Korea but the puppets’ ruling institutions including Chongwadae and puppet army’s bases to ashes at once, to say nothing of the aggressors and the provokers.”
  13. “3. The DPRK will never miss the golden chance to win a final victory in a great war for national reunification.”
  14. “This sacred war of justice will be a nation-wide, all-people resistance involving all Koreans in the north and the south and overseas in which the traitors to the nation including heinous confrontation maniacs, warmongers and human scum will be mercilessly swept away.”
  15. “Holding in high esteem the peerlessly great men of Mt. Paektu, the Korean people will give vent to the pent-up grudge and realize their cherished desire and thus bring a bright day of national reunification and build the best power on this land without fail.”

Nuclear, North Korea, NPT, Nonproliferation, WMD, South Korea, Homeland Security


Sang-Hun, Choe & Landler, MarkNorth Korea Says It Will Restart Reactor to Expand Arsenal” April 2, 2013. The New York Times. Last Checked April 4, 2013.

  1. “North Korea announced plans on Tuesday to restart a mothballed nuclear reactor, the latest in a series of provocations by its leader, Kim Jong-un, to elicit a muted response from American officials, who believe they can wait out Mr. Kim’s threats until he realizes his belligerent behavior will not force South Korea or the United States into making any concessions.”
  2. “American officials still worry about the consequences of any miscalculation, given the hair-trigger tensions on the Korean Peninsula and Mr. Kim’s inexperience at this type of brinkmanship.”
  3. “Still, the announcements by the North’s General Department of Atomic Energy were troubling on a couple of levels: The plan to restart the reactor at the main nuclear complex in Yongbyon reverses gains from a short-lived 2007 nuclear disarmament deal with the United States. And its plan to use a uranium-enrichment plant on the site for the weapons program gives it two ways of producing fuel for bombs, since the reactor produces plutonium.”
  4. “It is unknown whether North Korea’s third nuclear test in February used some of its limited stockpile of plutonium or fuel from its uranium-enrichment program, whose scale and history remain a mystery.”
  5. “The White House said it was reaching out to China and Russia to encourage them to use their influence to urge restraint on Pyongyang. The senior American official said the new Chinese leadership, led by President Xi Jinping, was frustrated by Mr. Kim’s belligerence, which it viewed as a threat to China’s own security.”

Nuclear, North Korea, NPT, Nonproliferation


Associated Press, “Bright future awaits Iran’s nuclear program,” April 3, 2013. BBC Worldwide Monitoring. Last Checked April 4, 2013.

  1. “What Iran is looking for in its nuclear programme is a legal right.”
  2. ”The goal of Global Arrogance in piling up pressure and threatening Iran is to find an excuse for its nuclear programme and prevent it from gaining access to a reliable energy source.”
  3. “The IAEA inspectors have thus far been able to inspect Iranian nuclear sites without any limitation and obstacle in accordance with the NPT.”

Nuclear, Iran, NPT, Nonproliferation


Norman, LaurenceIran Pushes Back as West Awaits Nuclear Offer Response” April 4, 2013. The Wall Street Journal. Last Checked April 4, 2013.

  1. “The U.S. and its European allies want a “substantive” response from Iran when nuclear talks resume in Kazakhstan on Friday which signals Tehran’s readiness to take serious steps to allay concerns about its nuclear ambitions, senior diplomats said.”
  2. “The talks, likely to continue until Saturday afternoon in Kazakhstan’s most populous city, will be the first indication of whether February’s sweetened offer by six major powers is enough to convince Iran to suspend its enrichment of uranium to 20% purity and take other steps to demonstrate its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.”
  3. “Speaking to a roomful of students and reporters in one of Almaty’s leading universities, lead negotiator Saeed Jalili said talks could progress this week but only if the U.S. and its allies accept Iran’s “right” to enrich uranium.”
  4. “As a signatory of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, Iran had a right to enrich uranium for a peaceful nuclear program. But after hiding an enrichment program for years in breach of the treaty, the United Nations Security Council has passed half a dozen resolutions since 2006 demanding Tehran suspend enrichment until it proved its nuclear activities were for civilian purposes.”
  5. “The fact that recent talks have focused on Iran’s enrichment up to 20% purity—considered only a short technical step from weapons grade—has reinforced the sense that the West could live with lower purity enrichment.”
  6. “In its February proposal, the P5+1 called on Iran to suspend its 20% enrichment, remove most of its stockpile of already produced 20% enriched uranium and stop activities at Fordow, a fortified underground military facility near the holy city of Qom.”
  7. “In exchange, Iran could see sanctions lifted on its petrochemical sector and would be allowed to renew trade in gold and precious metals—a move that would ease the tight financial restrictions the U.S. and Europe have placed on the country.”
  8. “According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has kept its stockpile of uranium enriched to 20% purity to well below 250 kilograms—enough to produce one atomic bomb.”

Nuclear, Iran, NPT, Nonproliferation


Rosen, JamesUS, allies debate response to seemingly friendlier Iran” September 20, 2013. Fox News. Last Checked September 20, 2013.

  1. “Recent weeks have seen the newly inaugurated Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, launch what passes, for the Islamic regime, as a charm offensive.”
  2. “Rouhani also has hinted at a new flexibility in the longstanding impasse over Tehran’s march toward a nuclear weapons capability, which has prompted Western allies to impose ever-tougher economic sanctions on the regime.”
  3. “But European diplomats, speaking to Fox News on condition of anonymity so as not to prejudice the allies’ diplomacy, say they do not believe Rouhani’s claim that he enjoys ‘full authority’ to negotiate a resolution to the nuclear issue, as he told NBC News’ Ann Curry on Wednesday in his first interview with a Western journalist.”
  4. “Among the considerations American and allied diplomats are weighing now is whether to respond to Rouhani’s limited but highly symbolic overtures…”
  5. “Such measures, however, would not include the easing or lifting of the economic sanctions, diplomats said, because none of the overtures from Tehran thus far have been directly related to the nuclear work the regime continues to perform.”
  6. “The August 28 report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, estimates Iran produced nearly 50 kilograms of highly-enriched uranium, suitable for use in a nuclear weapons, in the preceding 90 days.”
  7. “Diplomats said the actions would include confidence-building measures from the Iranians, such as the suspension of uranium enrichment, or the agreement not to enrich to certain levels, or the readmission of IAEA monitors to specific sites, in exchange for the easing of the economic sanctions.”
  8. “Veteran Iran watchers caution that previous outreach campaigns by new Iranian leaders have seldom led to substantive progress on the nuclear account – and also that American policymakers have compiled a spotty record, across several administrations, in their efforts to understand and affect Iranian decision-making.”
  9. “‘Iran’s president isn’t unimportant. He has a role to play in the Iranian government and he certainly has influence over Iranian policies. But we shouldn’t assume that Iran’s president is the ultimate decision-maker in Iran. He isn’t,’ Pollack told Fox News.”
  10. “‘At the end of the day, it’s all about the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. And what Ayatollah Ali Khamenei thinks is often the most difficult thing to gauge.’”

Nuclear, Iran, NPT, Nonproliferation, UN