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II. Iran and nuclear proliferation concerns
III. North Korea’s nuclear programme and the Six-Party Talks
IV. The Indian–US Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative
V. The fissile material cut-off treaty
VI. International cooperation to improve nuclear security
In 2007 Iran’s nuclear programme remained at the centre of international controversy. Iran continued to install gas centrifuges at its pilot uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, leading the United Nations Security Council to adopt Resolution 1747, demanding that Iran suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities and imposing additional sanctions on Iran.
In August Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) finalized a work plan to address outstanding safeguards compliance issues in Iran and set a timeline for concluding remaining issues related to the IAEA’s investigation into Iran’s past nuclear activities. However, there continued to be controversy over allegations that Iran had carried out undeclared studies related to nuclear weapons. In December the USA released an unclassified summary of a new National Intelligence Estimate that concluded ‘with high confidence’ that Iran had halted its nuclear weapon programme in the autumn of 2003 and had not resumed it.
In February 2007 the Six-Party Talks—between China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Russia and the USA—agreed an Action Plan under which North Korea would shut down for the ‘purpose of eventual dismantlement’ its nuclear facilities at Yongbyon in return for energy assistance and other economic and political benefits. However, North Korea failed to disable the nuclear facilities and to provide a comprehensive declaration of its nuclear programmes and past activites by the year-end deadline set out in an October 2007 agreement for implementing the Action Plan. There were two main controversies left unresolved by the North Korean declaration: how much plutonium North Korea had separated; and whether North Korea had engaged in suspected work on uranium enrichment.
India and the USA announced a draft ‘123 agreement’ that specified the terms governing the resumption of Indian–US trade in nuclear material and technology that was envisaged in the 2005 Indian–US Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative (CNCI). The draft agreement was criticized in the USA for contravening conditions imposed by the US Congress in 2006 which were aimed at ensuring that the CNCI complied with US non-proliferation and other legislation. It continued to face strong political opposition in India.
In Geneva the Conference on Disarmament (CD) again failed to open the long-delayed negotiations on a global fissile material cut-off treaty. The CD remained unable to adopt a work programme because of a dispute over whether to establish negotiating committees for other items on its agenda. Several states continued to show a general lack of enthusiasm for concluding a ban, at least in the near term, on producing fissile material for weapon purposes.
Shannon N. Kile (United States) is a Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Non-proliferation and Export Controls Project.