G-8 Statement on WMDs

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G-8 Statement on WMDs

"The G-8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction"

Position statement

By: Group of Eight (G-8) industrialized nations

Date: June 27, 2002

Source: Available from the U.S. State Department at <http://www.state.gov/e/eb/rls/othr/11514.htm>.

About the Author: The Group of Eight, or G-8, began as the Group of Seven in 1975, when the leaders of the world's largest industrial democracies—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States—began meeting annually to discuss major political and economic issues. It became the G-8 when Russia joined the discussions in 1997, after having participated informally since 1994.


When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, its former republics faced a monumental problem: what to do with the Soviet nuclear arms stockpile amassed during the Cold War, along with facilities for producing such weapons, enriching uranium, and storing nuclear materials. Many of these weapons and facilities were located in several of the old Soviet republics, including Kazakhstan, the Ukraine, and Belarus. Overnight, a number of new nations were, in essence, nuclear powers. Eventually, these nations responded to diplomatic pressure and economic incentives and returned the nuclear materials within their borders to Russia.

The ongoing problem, however, was the safety and security of Russian nuclear materials, as well as other weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The difficulties were manifold. Rapid and momentous changes in Russia created political instability. Power vacuums led to the rise of Mafia-type organizations and corrupt officials willing to trade in arms, including nuclear weapons. Economic conditions deteriorated as the nation tried to make the transition from a communist to a market-based economic system. Russian infrastructure was crumbling, and little money was available to fix it. Rampant unemployment, especially among former communist research scientists in the weapons industry, made them susceptible to recruitment by terrorists.

These conditions exponentially increased the possibility that rogue nations or terrorist organizations, such as Al-Qaeda, could acquire unsecured Russian nuclear materials. Indeed, Al-Qaeda has attempted to acquire fissionable material, and in 2001, documents discovered in an Al-Qaeda safe house showed a grasp of nuclear weapons design.

The nuclear materials unaccounted-for included suitcase bombs (small, one-kiloton nuclear devices that could easily be smuggled into a major city), nuclear artillery shells, hundreds of metric tons of plutonium and highly enriched uranium that could be used to make a dirty bomb, and even full-scale nuclear bombs. The problem was not confined to so-called loose nukes. Also vulnerable was the Soviet stockpile of chemical, biological, and nerve agents. In 1995, the hypothetical threat became real when U.S. authorities, in a two-year investigation, uncovered and thwarted a credible plot to smuggle a stolen nuclear weapon into Miami, Florida.

Throughout the 1990s, the Western nations began to realize that the nuclear threat they faced came less from state actors than from terrorist organizations—and that the problem was international in scope. Accordingly, in 2002, in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, the Group of Eight industrialized nations pledged $10 billion—$20 billion from the United States and $30 billion from the other nations—to help Russia secure its nuclear materials. Reproduced below is the G-8's statement announcing the program.


Statement by the Group of Eight Leaders

Kananaskis, Canada

June 27, 2002

The attacks of September 11 demonstrated that terrorists are prepared to use any means to cause terror and inflict appalling casualties on innocent people. We commit ourselves to prevent terrorists, or those that harbour them, from acquiring or developing nuclear, chemical, radiological and biological weapons; missiles; and related materials, equipment and technology. We call on all countries to join us in adopting the set of non-proliferation principles we have announced today.

In a major initiative to implement those principles, we have also decided today to launch a new G8 Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction. Under this initiative, we will support specific cooperation projects, initially in Russia, to address non-proliferation, disarmament, counter-terrorism and nuclear safety issues. Among our priority concerns are the destruction of chemical weapons, the dismantlement of decommissioned nuclear submarines, the disposition of fissile materials and the employment of former weapons scientists. We will commit to raise up to $20 billion to support such projects over the next ten years. A range of financing options, including the option of bilateral debt for program exchanges, will be available to countries that contribute to this Global Partnership. We have adopted a set of guidelines that will form the basis for the negotiation of specific agreements for new projects, that will apply with immediate effect, to ensure effective and efficient project development, coordination and implementation. We will review over the next year the applicability of the guidelines to existing projects.

Recognizing that this Global Partnership will enhance international security and safety, we invite other countries that are prepared to adopt its common principles and guidelines to enter into discussions with us on participating in and contributing to this initiative. We will review progress on this Global Partnership at our next Summit in 2003.


The G8 calls on all countries to join them in commitment to the following six principles to prevent terrorists or those that harbour them from acquiring or developing nuclear, chemical, radiological and biological weapons; missiles; and related materials, equipment and technology.

  1. Promote the adoption, universalization, full implementation and, where necessary, strengthening of multi-lateral treaties and other international instruments whose aim is to prevent the proliferation or illicit acquisition of such items; strengthen the institutions designed to implement these instruments.
  2. Develop and maintain appropriate effective measures to account for and secure such items in production, use, storage and domestic and international transport; provide assistance to states lacking sufficient resources to account for and secure these items.
  3. Develop and maintain appropriate effective physical protection measures applied to facilities which house such items, including defence in depth; provide assistance to states lacking sufficient resources to protect their facilities.
  4. Develop and maintain effective border controls, law enforcement efforts and international cooperation to detect, deter and interdict in cases of illicit trafficking in such items, for example through installation of detection systems, training of customs and law enforcement personnel and cooperation in tracking these items; provide assistance to states lacking sufficient expertise or resources to strengthen their capacity to detect, deter and interdict in cases of illicit trafficking in these items.
  5. Develop, review and maintain effective national export and transshipment controls over items on multilateral export control lists, as well as items that are not identified on such lists but which may nevertheless contribute to the development, production or use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and missiles, with particular consideration of end-user, catch-all and brokering aspects; provide assistance to states lacking the legal and regulatory infrastructure, implementation experience and/or resources to develop their export and transshipment control systems in this regard.
  6. Adopt and strengthen efforts to manage and dispose of stocks of fissile materials designated as no longer required for defence purposes, eliminate all chemical weapons, and minimize holdings of dangerous biological pathogens and toxins, based on the recognition that the threat of terrorist acquisition is reduced as the overall quantity of such items is reduced.


The G8 will work in partnership, bilaterally and multi-laterally, to develop, coordinate, implement and finance, according to their respective means, new or expanded cooperation projects to address (i) non-proliferation, (ii) disarmament, (iii) counter-terrorism and (iv) nuclear safety (including environmental) issues, with a view to enhancing strategic stability, consonant with our international security objectives and in support of the multilateral nonproliferation regimes. Each country has primary responsibility for implementing its non-proliferation, disarmament, counter-terrorism and nuclear safety obligations and requirements and commits its full cooperation within the Partnership.

Cooperation projects under this initiative will be decided and implemented, taking into account international obligations and domestic laws of participating partners, within appropriate bilateral and multilateral legal frameworks that should, as necessary, include the following elements:

  1. Mutually agreed effective monitoring, auditing and transparency measures and procedures will be required in order to ensure that cooperative activities meet agreed objectives (including irreversibility as necessary), to confirm work performance, to account for the funds expended and to provide for adequate access for donor representatives to work sites;
  2. The projects will be implemented in an environmentally sound manner and will maintain the highest appropriate level of safety;
  3. Clearly defined milestones will be developed for each project, including the option of suspending or terminating a project if the milestones are not met;
  4. The material, equipment, technology, services and expertise provided will be solely for peaceful purposes and, unless otherwise agreed, will be used only for the purposes of implementing the projects and will not be transferred. Adequate measures of physical protection will also be applied to prevent theft or sabotage;
  5. All governments will take necessary steps to ensure that the support provided will be considered free technical assistance and will be exempt from taxes, duties, levies and other charges;
  6. Procurement of goods and services will be conducted in accordance with open international practices to the extent possible, consistent with national security requirements;
  7. All governments will take necessary steps to ensure that adequate liability protections from claims related to the cooperation will be provided for donor countries and their personnel and contractors;
  8. Appropriate privileges and immunities will be provided for government donor representatives working on cooperation projects; and
  9. Measures will be put in place to ensure effective protection of sensitive information and intellectual property.

Given the breadth and scope of the activities to be undertaken, the G8 will establish an appropriate mechanism for the annual review of progress under this initiative which may include consultations regarding priorities, identification of project gaps and potential overlap, and assessment of consistency of the cooperation projects with international security obligations and objectives. Specific bilateral and multilateral project implementation will be coordinated subject to arrangements appropriate to that project, including existing mechanisms.

For the purposes of these guidelines, the phrase "new or expanded cooperation projects" is defined as cooperation projects that will be initiated or enhanced on the basis of this Global Partnership. All funds disbursed or released after its announcement would be included in the total of committed resources. A range of financing options, including the option of bilateral debt for program exchanges, will be available to countries that contribute to this Global Partnership.

The Global Partnership's initial geographic focus will be on projects in Russia, which maintains primary responsibility for implementing its obligations and requirements within the Partnership.

In addition, the G8 would be willing to enter into negotiations with any other recipient countries, including those of the Former Soviet Union, prepared to adopt the guidelines, for inclusion in the Partnership.

Recognizing that the Global Partnership is designed to enhance international security and safety, the G8 invites others to contribute to and join in this initiative.

With respect to nuclear safety and security, the partners agreed to establish a new G8 Nuclear Safety and Security Group by the time of our next Summit.


The United States recognized early after the breakup of the Soviet Union that it was in its own interest to help its former cold war adversary secure its nuclear materials. Accordingly, in 1992, the U.S. Department of Defense provided Russia and other former Soviet republics with funds and expertise under the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program (often referred to as the Nunn-Lugar program after its congressional sponsors, Senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar).

The Nunn-Lugar program had some success in helping Russia dismantle portions of its nuclear arsenal, destroy missile silos and warheads, and secure remaining nuclear weapons storage sites. It also sponsored programs to convert Russia's military industries to peacetime applications. A dramatic moment occurred when the U.S. defense secretary and the Russian and Ukrainian defense ministers, who just years earlier had glowered at one another across an ideological divide, gathered to plant sunflowers over an old missile silo in the Ukraine.

But another dramatic moment occurred on January 25, 1995, when a Russian radar crew picked up a fast-moving object over the Barents Sea along Russia's northern border and was unable to identify it. Russian president Boris Yeltsin was literally one minute away from launching a retaliatory strike when the object disappeared from the radar. The object, it turned out, was a rocket launched from Norway to study the Northern Lights. Norway had notified Russia of the impending launch, but no one had notified the radar crew.

The Nunn-Lugar program was entirely a U.S. response to post-Cold War relations with Russia. Incidents such as the one in 1995, combined with the growing threat of global terrorism, made it the interest of all the world's powers to secure Russia's WMD. Cities such as London and Tokyo were just as vulnerable as New York and Washington, D.C. Knowing this, the G-8 took action.

Two years later, though, the G-8 pledge was not yet having the desired impact. The G-8 nations were $3 billion short on their pledges, and only a fraction of the $17 billion appropriated was spent. Disputes arose with Russia over tax and liability issues and access to sites. Political wrangling delayed, for more than three years, the construction of a plant for destroying Russia's WMD. Project completion dates under the G-8 program stretch well into the 2010s. As Senator Nunn himself noted, "The clock is ticking."



Carter, Ashton B., and William J. Perry. Preventive Defense: A New Security Strategy for America. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 1999.


"Russia's Nuclear Arms Deemed Vulnerable; CIA Says 'Insider' Could Pose Threat." Washington Times. February 23, 2002.

Web sites

U.S. General Accounting Office. "Nuclear Nonproliferation: Security of Russia's Nuclear Material Improving; Further Enhancements Needed." February 2001. Available from <http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d01312.pdf> ( June 30, 2005).

Audio and Visual Media

PBS. "Russian Roulette: A Report on the Safety and Security of Russia's Nuclear Arsenal". February 1999. Available online at <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/russia/> (with video links) (June 30, 2005).