The G-8 Global Partnership and the Gleneagles Summit

June 30, 2005

Testimony of Leonard S. Spector
Deputy Director
Center for Nonproliferation Studies
Monterey Institute of International Studies

US House of Representatives Committee on International Relations
Subcommittee on International Terrorism and Nonproliferation

It is a great privilege to testify before the Subcommittee this afternoon. My colleagues at the Monterey Institute Center for Nonproliferation Studies and I have been closely watching the evolution of the G-8 Global Partner Against Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction. Today, I would like to highlight a number of the initiative’s achievements, as well as a number of concerns that we have regarding its progress.

High-level Attention

The G-8 Global Partnership contributes to US nonproliferation goals at multiple levels. Perhaps the most basic is that it annually focuses the attention of the leaders of the world’s most important economic powers on the dangers of WMD proliferation and terrorism. Indeed, even if it accomplished no more than this, we could consider the Global Partnership something of a success. The expansion of the Global Partnership’s members to include, for example, Australia, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Ireland, the Republic of Korea, and New Zealand; the expansion of its focus, with such measures as the G-8 Action Plan for Securing Radioactive Sources; and the slow but steady enlargement of member state nonproliferation activities in Russia are all positive developments.

It appears, however, that within the G-8 Summit environment, the degree of high-level political interest WMD proliferation and terrorism issues may be diminishing. At Gleneagles, the British have given pride of place to addressing African poverty and climate change, while proliferation will be addressed only under the heading of “other issues.” Advance drafts of the of the G-8 summit statement on proliferation suggest that the final declaration will contain the right words, but will offer little that is new.

Progress is not anticipated, for example, on a key issue identified by the U.K. as one it hoped to advance during its presidency of the G-8, the question of restricting transfers of equipment that could support uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing – the technologies needed to produce materials usable for nuclear weapons.


A similar, if not more pronounced, loss of momentum appears to be afflicting implementation of the Global Partnership. Pledges of funds to fulfill the commitment made at Kananaskis in 2002, to provide $20 billion over 10 years to support nonproliferation programs in Russia, have yet to reach this goal, and actual expenditures by Global Partnership members other than the United States have been relatively limited.

Moreover, a not insignificant proportion of funds pledged and/or expended are being used to underwrite activities that are not central to what I consider to be the core goal of the Partnership, which is to reduce the danger of WMD proliferation and terrorism by securing Russian WMD assets and know-how. Programs to dismantle non-strategic nuclear powered submarines, for example, do little to advance this mission, although providing secure storage for spent fuel from these subs is desirable, since a portion of this fuel may contain highly enriched uranium potentially usable for nuclear arms.

Adding to these challenges is that another major program, the “Plutonium Disposition Program,” which would render tens of tons of weapons plutonium unsuitable for use in nuclear arms, has been stalled for at least two years because of a dispute over who would be liable in the event that an incident occurred during the implementation of the program that caused injury to workers or the public. Recently, the United States agreed to accept the version of a liability arrangement preferred by the Russians, a version that has been used in a number of Russian nonproliferation agreements with European states.

One would imagine that this would have solved the impasse, but I was very recently informed that the Russian negotiators are still refusing to conclude an agreement with us on this matter. It is possible that the problem may be solved before the Gleneagles Summit, but my contacts in the Administration were less than confident about this outcome. Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of dollars in Global Partnership pledges for this program remain untapped. [I should add that neither the Russian nor the US approach to liability would ensure adequate and timely compensation for victims in the event of a catastrophic accident.] [1]

I should also point out while the purpose of this program is to place separated military-origin plutonium into highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel, at a rate of about two tons of plutonium per year, Russia continues its domestic program to take civilian-sector plutonium out of spent nuclear fuel, at nearly the same rate. The Global Partnership has no program to address this anomaly, for example, by offering to build a spent fuel storage capability as an alternative to Russia’s civilian plutonium separation activities.[2]

In a separate area, my colleagues and I are also deeply concerned that the G-8 Global Partnership appears to be doing so little to help secure dangerous biological pathogens. In April of 2004, Dr. William Potter, Director of the Monterey Institute Center for Nonproliferation Studies, spoke at a conference in Moscow describing the situation at that time:

… Although the G-8 pronouncement at the Kananaskis Summit in June 2002 pledged to raise and expend $20 billion to prevent terrorists, or those that harbor them, from acquiring or developing nuclear, chemical, radiological and biological weapons; missiles; and related materials, equipment, and technology, very little work has been accomplished in the biological weapons [BW] area. Indeed, as best I can discern, practically nothing is being done on biological security issues except by the United States. France is making a very modest contribution while Canada, the United Kingdom, and Sweden are providing or have pledged small amounts to the International Science and Technology Center [and the Science and Technology Center – Ukraine] for work that may include bio-security issues.

To be more specific, of the 750 million Euros pledged to the Global Partnership, France has committed 5 million Euros for work on biological issues [cryptically identified in the public accounts I could find as funds for “security renovations at highly sensitive Russian laboratories”]. According to the 2003 First Annual Report by the United Kingdom on the G-8 Global Partnership, the UK had expended 20,000 pounds in 2002-2003 for preparation of its first BW project proposal involving a plant health institute in Georgia, and projected expenditures for another 200,000 pounds for the project in 2003-2004. I have been told by a colleague at CSIS that this money subsequently has been redirected to the ISTC. For its part, Sweden has committed 950,000 Swedish Kroner [or about $130,000] to bio-safety and bio-security projects out of a total Global Partnership pledge of 10 million Euros, while Canada has pledged 18 million Canadian dollars/year for five years to the ISTC, some portion of which is likely to be directed to BW projects. Finally, of its ten-year $10 billion pledge to the Global Partnership, the United States has committed approximately $55 million to enhance the protection of biological facilities in the former Soviet Union, and an additional $10 million to redirect former BW scientists. [3]

Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, the United States, itself – specifically the Department of Defense through its Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, which is the only US agency authorized to do this work — is ending its bio-security activities in Russia well before the job is completed. Canada is planning to step in to take over some of these responsibilities, but it is likely that momentum will be lost and further delays will ensue.

The U.K. had listed this as another one of the issues it had planned to highlight over the past year, but my sources indicate that little new has been accomplished. Under the circumstances, it may be wise to authorize a second US agency, such as the Department of Energy, to take on this work, as the Department of Defense bows out.

It is also important to ensure that dangerous pathogens are consolidated and secured in the former Soviet republics outside of Russia. My colleagues Sonia Ben Ouaghram, Raymond Zilinskas, and Alexander Melikishvili have completed an extensive study on one element of this challenge, the former Soviet Anti-Plague System, whose component institutes dot Central Asia, the Caucasus, and other regions. Nearly all of these facilities have collections of some of the world’s most dangerous pathogens, which are held under highly insecure conditions. My colleagues recently presented their findings regarding the state of the Anti-Plague Institutes at the annual conference of the American Society for Microbiology, and we will shortly be publishing an Occasional Paper on this subject.

Nonproliferation Education

Finally, let me highlight an issue to which we at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies attach very great importance: nonproliferation education. We believe education in this area is the key to inculcating sustained commitments by former WMD scientists, technicians, and managers in Russia and other post-Soviet states not to engage in such activities in the future.

Our Director, Dr. William Potter, who has championed this issue, addressed it in his Moscow presentation, and I would like to quote his principal points on this subject:

On November 22, 2002, the United Nations General Assembly adopted without a vote Resolution 57/60 entitled “United Nations Study on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Education,” and conveyed the recommendations of the study for implementation, as appropriate, by member states and other entities. A key principle underlying the UN study was that education is an underutilized tool for promoting both disarmament and nonproliferation. Although a number of Global Partnership states including Japan and Sweden were key proponents of the UN study and helped to draft its recommendations, and despite the fact that all Global Partnership members supported the recommendations of the UN study, a nonproliferation education and training initiative has yet to be launched under the auspices of the Global Partnership.

While one can imagine numerous ways in which nonproliferation education could be employed to promote the objectives of the Global Partnership, a good starting point for such an initiative might be to provide nonproliferation training to former BW scientists, researchers working with pathogens, generally, and epidemiologists in Central Asia and the Caucasus. The Anti-Plague Institutes and the field stations in the region are in various states of disrepair and insolvency, but the staffs of these facilities include scientists and technicians who are knowledgeable about some of the world’s deadliest pathogens and possess unique collections of pathogenic bacterial, fungal, and viral strains. Accordingly, today the anti-plague systems in the post-Soviet states have the potential for spawning both harmful and beneficial applications. A Global Partnership nonproliferation education initiative might make the difference in steering this potential in a positive direction.


Mr. Chairman, that concludes my remarks this afternoon. I would be pleased to answer any questions that the Subcommittee may have.

[1] For a detailed discussion of this issue, see R. Douglas Brubaker and Leonard S. Spector, “Liability and Western Nonproliferation Assistance to Russia: Time for a Fresh Look?” Nonproliferation Review [Spring 2003]. The liability issue is most urgent in the case of the Plutonium Disposition Program, where an understanding on liability is a precondition for program activities to commence in Russia. Unfortunately, the issue will also be central to the renegotiation of the Department of Defense “Umbrella” Cooperative Threat Reduction Agreement with Russia, which is the basis for some dozen US nonproliferation programs in that country. That agreement must be renewed next year. The United States had hoped to resolve the potential liability impasse in the Umbrella Agreement along the same lines as those proposed for the Plutonium Disposition Agreement, but Russia’s apparent reluctance to conclude the latter agreement has thrown this plan into doubt – placing at risk a wide range of critically important US Department of Defense Cooperative Threat Reduction efforts and related programs at the US Department of Energy.

[2] The UK and France, it may be noted, are also separating plutonium from spent fuel at home, even as they are pledging hundreds of millions of dollars through the Global Partnership to put Russian military plutonium back into spent fuel. Similarly, Japan, which has also pledged substantial amounts to support the Russian effort. is about to begin operating its own large-scale plant to separate plutonium from its protective barrier of radioactivity in spent fuel. In effect, while endorsing the concept that plutonium is safer in spent fuel in Russia, they are creating new dangers elsewhere by taking plutonium out of this protective environment.

[3] “Prospects for International Cooperation on Bio-Security,” Remarks of Dr. William C. Potter, PIR Center Conference, Moscow, April 2004.

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