The independent resource on global security

12. Nuclear arms control and non-proliferation

Contents

Overview

I. Iran’s nuclear programme and international concerns

II. Russian–US nuclear arms control

III. Developments in multilateral arms control and disarmament

IV. International cooperation to enhance nuclear security

Summary

Nuclear arms control and non-proliferation had a mixed record during 2014.

 

Iran’s nuclear programme and international concerns

Efforts to address long-running international concerns about the scope and nature of Iran’s nuclear programme continued to be a key focus of nuclear non-proliferation efforts.

Negotiations continued between Iran and France, Germany and the United Kingdom (E3), China, Russia and the United States (+3), facilitated by the European Union (EU)—jointly referred to as E3/EU+3—‘to reach a mutually agreed long-term comprehensive agreement that would ensure Iran’s nuclear programme will be exclusively peaceful’. As part of the first step towards this agreement, Iran undertook a series of voluntary measures as laid out in an interim Joint Plan of Action (JPA) agreed between the E3/EU+3 and Iran on 24 November 2013.

Implementation of the JPA began in January 2014. Initially agreed for a period of six months, the JPA was extended in July for a further six-month period until November, and subsequently extended again for an additional seven months to the end of June 2015.

At the request of the E3/EU+3 and Iran, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) undertook to monitor, verify and provide periodic progress reports on Iran’s implementation of the nuclear-related measures set out in the JPA. Pursuant to the JPA, among other measures, the IAEA reported that Iran had not enriched uranium hexafluoride (UF6) above 5 per cent at its declared facilities during 2014. In addition, all Iranian stocks of UF6 enriched to up to 20 per cent uranium-235 (U-235) had been further processed through downblending and conversion into uranium oxide (UO2). Iran did not make any further advances to its activities at the Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) at Natanz, the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant (FFEP), or at the under-construction Arak reactor (IR-40). Iran provided daily access for the IAEA to its enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow.

Throughout 2014 Iran continued to implement its safeguards agreement with the IAEA in relation to the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (Non-Proliferation Treaty, NPT). Iran also continued to implement the safeguards-related ‘Joint Statement on a Framework for Cooperation’, agreed between the IAEA and Iran in November 2013, and designed to resolve all past and present issues of safeguards relevance. By the end of the year as reported by the IAEA, Iran had completed 16 of the 18 measures under the Framework for Cooperation with two remaining outstanding since May 2014. The IAEA continued to emphasize the need to accelerate the work on all outstanding issues including those specified in the Framework for Cooperation for it to be able to comprehensively understand Iran’s nuclear programme—including any possible military dimensions—and report on its assessment to the IAEA Board of Governors. During 2014 the IAEA maintained its safeguards conclusion that although it had continued to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material at the nuclear facilities and locations outside facilities declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement, the IAEA was not in a position to provide credible assurance on the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran. Therefore, the IAEA could not conclude that all nuclear material in Iran remained solely in use for peaceful activities.

 

Russian–US nuclear arms control

The strategic arms reduction dialogue remained at an impasse between Russia and the USA, although both sides continued to implement the 2010 Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START), albeit at a slow pace. At the same time, the two countries engaged in mutual recriminations over compliance with the 1987 Intermediate- and Shorter-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

 

Developments in multilateral arms control and disarmament

The Conference on Disarmament (CD)—the world’s sole multilateral forum for negotiating arms control and disarmament agreements—once again failed to agree on a Programme of Work and thus was unable to commence negotiations on any item on its agenda. The CD held a High-Level Segment in March, where foreign ministers addressed the conference.

The Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the NPT held its third and final session at the United Nations in New York, but was unable to agree on recommendations to the review conference for further action on nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament.

Mexico hosted the second international Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in February, and Austria hosted the third conference in December. More than 150 states attended along with civil society and international organizations, the hibakusha (survivors of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki). Both conferences highlighted the lack of national and global capacity to deal with the humanitarian and environmental consequences of a nuclear explosion. Austria made a national pledge calling for the global prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.

The third in a series of Nuclear Security Summits was held at The Hague in March. The communiqué adopted at the summit reaffirmed support for strengthening security of nuclear material and facilities and agreed to hold a fourth (and last) summit meeting in the USA in 2016.

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