Quantifying Progress in Reducing WMD Threats Getting Tougher: Report

Missile-launch tubes removed from a ballistic missile submarine in January 2010 are eliminated with equipment and services provided by the U.S. Defense Department's Cooperative Threat Reduction program. A new congressional report warns it is growing more difficult to quantify progress in reducing the global threat posed by weapons of mass destruction.
National Journal
Rachel Oswald
June 26, 2014, 6:54 a.m.

A re­cent con­gres­sion­al re­port sees grow­ing dif­fi­culty ahead in quan­ti­fy­ing pro­gress in U.S. ef­forts to se­cure and elim­in­ate weapons of mass de­struc­tion.

Chan­ging cir­cum­stances — in­clud­ing some not­able suc­cesses — are the cul­prit, ac­cord­ing to a June 13 re­port by the Con­gres­sion­al Re­search Ser­vice pos­ted on­line by the Fed­er­a­tion of Amer­ic­an Sci­ent­ists.

After more than 20 years, many U.S. pro­grams au­thor­ized by the Nunn-Lugar Act to dis­pose of So­viet-era nuc­le­ar and chem­ic­al arms are al­most done with their work. Thou­sands of nuc­le­ar war­heads and hun­dreds of long-range bal­list­ic mis­siles have been des­troyed as part of the Co­oper­at­ive Threat Re­duc­tion ini­ti­at­ive.

But as dis­arm­a­ment work in the former So­viet Uni­on winds down, the United States in­creas­ingly is fo­cused on the less quan­ti­fi­able goal of re­du­cing the po­ten­tial for non­state act­ors op­er­at­ing in the Middle East and Africa to ac­quire un­con­ven­tion­al arms.

“As the United States has ex­pan­ded its threat re­duc­tion as­sist­ance to na­tions out­side the former So­viet states, and as the pro­grams have em­phas­ized co­oper­at­ive en­gage­ment, ca­pa­city-build­ing, and best prac­tices in­stead of weapons dis­man­tle­ment and fa­cil­ity se­cur­ity, the prob­lem of meas­ur­ing pro­gress has grown more com­plic­ated,” con­cludes the CRS re­port.

Re­cent ex­amples of this new ca­pa­city-build­ing work in­clude a U.S.-fin­anced pro­ject to build a high-se­cur­ity bio­lo­gic­al labor­at­ory in Kaza­kh­stan, the de­ploy­ment of ra­di­ation scan­ners at Azerbaijan’s Baku Air­port, and the train­ing of Kenyan and Ugandan armed forces to re­spond to a WMD ter­ror­ist at­tack.

“While par­ti­cipants in the [CTR] pro­gram may be con­fid­ent in their abil­ity to share know­ledge and build co­oper­at­ive re­la­tion­ships, they may be less con­fid­ent in their abil­ity to meas­ure the re­la­tion­ship between fund­ing and pro­gress in co­oper­a­tion,” the re­port by Con­gress’ in­tern­al think tank notes.

“However, most of the threat re­duc­tion as­sist­ance cur­rently un­der way is more dif­fi­cult to quanti­fy,” the con­gres­sion­al ana­lysts ex­plained. “In many cases, pro­gress is evid­ent in ac­cess to de­cision makers and op­er­at­ors, and suc­cess is re­flec­ted in the growth of re­la­tion­ships.”

The re­port said that met­rics could po­ten­tially be de­veloped for threat-re­duc­tion ef­forts, based in part on sur­vey tools used in re­lated pro­jects that at­tempt to gauge pro­gress in such fields as “a coun­try’s li­cens­ing, en­force­ment, in­dustry out­reach, and non­pro­lif­er­a­tion re­gime ad­her­ence.”

Mean­while, U.S. Co­oper­at­ive Threat Re­duc­tion ini­ti­at­ives have played high-pro­file roles in re­cent in­ter­na­tion­al non­pro­lif­er­a­tion wins. CTR fund­ing was used to re­pair a chem­ic­als de­struc­tion fa­cil­ity in Libya that was dis­abled by the 2011 re­volu­tion, pav­ing the way for the North Afric­an coun­try last year to fi­nally des­troy the last of its chem­ic­al arms. Sim­il­arly, the U.S. MV Cape Ray, which is set to shortly be­gin des­troy­ing Syr­ia’s chem­ic­al war­fare ma­ter­i­als, was also equipped us­ing CTR funds.

What We're Following See More »
AKNOWLEDGING THE INEVITABLE
UAW: Time to Unite Behind Hillary
18 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.

Source:
AP KEEPING COUNT
Trump Clinches Enough Delegates for the Nomination
20 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."

Source:
TRUMP FLOATED IDEA ON JIMMY KIMMEL’S SHOW
Trump/Sanders Debate Before California Primary?
21 hours ago
THE LATEST
CAMPAIGNS INJECTED NEW AD MONEY
California: It’s Not Over Yet
21 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Clinton and Bernie Sanders "are now devoting additional money to television advertising. A day after Sanders announced a new ad buy of less than $2 million in the state, Clinton announced her own television campaign. Ads featuring actor Morgan Freeman as well as labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta will air beginning on Fridayin Fresno, Sacramento, and Los Angeles media markets. Some ads will also target Latino voters and Asian American voters. The total value of the buy is about six figures according to the Clinton campaign." Meanwhile, a new poll shows Sanders within the margin of error, trailing Clinton 44%-46%.

Source:
TEMPORARY OR NOT?
Rick Wiley Bolts the Trump Campaign
22 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Donald Trump on Wednesday parted ways with Rick Wiley, his national political director, just six weeks after the Republican operative joined the campaign." Wiley joined just six weeks ago, as Trump said he would be a "tremendous asset as we enter the final phase." But yesterday, Trump said in a statement that "hired on a short-term basis as a consultant."

Source:
×