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  Timeline of the Nuclear Age 2000s  2004


North Korea offers to freeze its nuclear program, including weapons and power development, and resume talks on its nuclear weapons program. North Korea states that it is "set to refrain from test and production of nuclear weapons and stop even operating nuclear power industry for a peaceful purpose as first phase measures of the package solution."

Libya ratifies the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), bringing the total number of CTBT ratifications to 109. Under the treaty, Libya will host a radionuclide station, RN41, at Misratah. The station is part of a now 337-facility international monitoring system (IMS) that will verify compliance with the terms of the treaty.

A U.S. team including Stanford University International Relations Professor John W. Lewis, nuclear scientist and former director of Los Alamos National LaboratorySiegfried Hecker, Republican aide Keith Luse, and Democratic colleague Frank Jannuzi visit the Yongbon nuclear facility in North Korea.

Germany’s Federal Environmental Ministry confirms that the corporations that manage the country’s eighteen nuclear power stations are assessing the installation of artificial fog machines as a defense against terrorist attacks from the air on the nation’s nuclear power plants.

Libya ratifies the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)

U.S. President George W. Bush unveils his proposal for a new space program, which includes plans to develop a permanent base on the moon by 2020 as a launch pad for piloted missions to Mars and beyond. Many critics believe that the primary objective of the U.S. mission to Mars is for military benefit, and not just "the spirit of discovery."

An Argentinean Court prohibits Southern California Edison, which plans to ship a 770-ton decommissioned nuclear reactor, from passing within 200 miles of Argentina’s coastline. The ruling is yet another setback for the U.S. utility company, which has undergone a year-long effort to transport the old reactor from San Onofre, California to be buried in Barnwell, South Carolina. Previous attempts to ship the reactor across the nation by train and through the Panama Canal were prevented due to legal problems and forced Edison to resort to a 13,000-mile journey around Cape Horn, South America, considered the most precarious ocean passage in the world.

Reports reveal an exchange of letters between Canadian Defense Minister Donald Pratt and U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, indicating Canada’s willingness to engage in more detailed discussions "in the coming months" on formalizing participation in U.S. missile defense activities. According to the reports, Pratt wrote, "In light of the growing threat involving the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction, we should explore extending this partnership to include cooperation in missile defense, as an appropriate response to these new threats and as a useful complement to our nonproliferation efforts." 

Australia again confirms its intention to participate in the U.S. missile defense project. Prime Minister John Howard calls the move "a logical way to go" after meeting with U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers. According to Howard, "It seems to me a fairly common-sense proposition that if Australia could have access to a system that prevented missiles directed to Australia from arriving in Australia, then it’s something we ought to be part of, and I can’t understand why anybody would be against it."

Siegfried Hecker, a former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory who visited Yongbon nuclear facility in North Korea earlier in the month, states that he left feeling unconvinced that the country could develop a nuclear weapon. Although he was handed what was purported to be a sample of weapons-grade plutonium, Hecker says, "I saw nothing and spoke to no one who could convince me that they could build a nuclear device with that metal." He confirms that the delegates had been shown storage ponds that were used to contain fuel rods but are now empty.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Mohammed ElBaradei urges Iran to cooperate with inspections of its nuclear sites in order to prove that its facilities are not weapons-related. ElBaradei states, "It will have serious implications if they do not continue to cooperate fully."

Libya provides UN inspectors with blueprints that International Atomic Energy Agency spokesman Mark Gwozdecky says are drawings of a device similar to a nuclear warhead. As part of its pledge, sensitive documents and "about 55,000 pounds" of equipment related to Libya ’s nuclear weapons and missile development efforts are flown to the U.S. The equipment includes uranium enrichment centrifuges, uranium hexafluoride, and guidance sets for long-range missiles.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell concedes that Iraq may not have possessed any weapons of mass destruction before the U.S. began a preemptive war on the country last year.

Iraq Survey Group (ISG) team leader David Kay resigns from his post. Kay was appointed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in June 2003 to lead the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. In an interview after his resignation, Kay says, "What everyone was talking about is stockpiles produced after the end of the last Gulf War, and I don’t think there was a large-scale production program in the ’90s." He adds, "I think we have found probably 85% of what we’re going to find."

Following strong denials that its scientists gave high-tech centrifuge designs to Libya, Pakistani investigators conclude that two nuclear scientists, Abdul Qadeer Khan, known as the "father" of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, and Mohammed Farooq, used a covert network to provide nuclear weapons technology to Iran and Libya. The scientists provided blueprints for uranium enrichment equipment, both directly to Iran and Libya and through a network of middlemen. The network of middlemen from countries including Germany, Sri Lanka, and South Africa, also offered assistance to Syria and Iraq but the deals never materialized.

Pakistan officially fires A.Q. Khan for providing information to Libya and North Korea.

French Minister of Defense Michele Alliot-Marie declares that her country has renounced the option of miniaturized nuclear weapons because they do not correspond to the deterrence principles that govern France’s possession of nuclear weapons. However France, like the U.S., is at the stage of preliminary research into these weapons and not at the stage of "development" (perfecting and producing them).

Abdul Qadeer Khan, the "father" of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, signs a confession admitting that he provided Iran, North Korea, and Libya with the designs and technology to produce the fuel for nuclear weapons during the last fifteen years. Pakistani leader General Pervez Musharraf had previously insisted that his country and its nuclear scientists had no role to play in illicit transfers of nuclear technology. The center of the Khan network is suspected to be a trading company run by a Sri Lankan middleman in Dubai, extending to middlemen in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Turkey, and Malaysia.

In a speech at the National Defense University, U.S. President George W. Bush outlines seven steps that his administration will take to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Bush proposes seven key initiatives, including tightening export controls by leading nuclear supplier nations, strengthening intelligence and law enforcement against "rogue" proliferators, and expanding efforts to eliminate or secure nuclear weapons fuel. While his proposals are welcomed as a step in the right direction, many analysts argue that the proposals do not go far enough and that the steps are based on double standards that allow some states to possess nuclear arsenals outside of international inspections and safeguards, while imposing more rigorous standards on other states.

Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mohammed ElBaradei states that the world could be headed to destruction if the spread of nuclear technology is not stopped. In addition to reiterating President Bush’s calls on February 11, ElBaradei makes further recommendations, including bringing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty into line with the demands of the 21st century. He calls on the nuclear weapon states who have signed the treaty--China, France, Russia, the UK, and the U.S.--to fulfill their obligations under Article VI of the treaty by initiating negotiations towards disarmament. The U.S. and China sign a "statement of intent," pledging to increase cooperation between the two nations on a range of non-proliferation and security activities, including efforts to strengthen export controls, international nuclear safeguards, physical protection of nuclear materials and facilities, nuclear emergency management, and radioactive source security.

Links are drawn between China, Pakistan, and Libya in nuclear proliferation as the nuclear plans given to Libya by Pakistan seem to be of Chinese origin.

U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton holds talks with China on President Bush’s Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), and urges China to support efforts in curbing the spread of weapons of mass destruction by helping to seize arms and related materials in transit. China remains non-committal in signing the PSI. During the meeting, Bolton fails to criticize China over reports that nuclear weapons designs found in Libya came from China through a Pakistani network. While confirming that documents were found, Bolton declines to say if China was directly involved in Libya’s attempt to construct a nuclear weapons program.

Pakistani leader General Pervez Musharraf states, " Pakistan would [under] no circumstances permit foreign inspectors to enter the country and monitor its nuclear weapons or civil nuclear facilities." He adds, "Would any other nuclear power allow its sensitive installations [to] be inspected? Why should Pakistan be expected to allow anybody to inspect?"

India and Pakistan agree to a "roadmap" for peace that will begin with high-level talks in May or June of 2004. Talks will include nuclear confidence-building measures, the region of Kashmir, terrorism, and economic cooperation. The talks will end with a summit between foreign ministers in August 2004. The talks will be the first such dialogue in three years, and both counties have expressed their desire for a peaceful settlement of all bilateral issues.

Following failures to launch two ballistic missiles due to satellite error, First Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Colonel General Yuri Baluyevsky announces that Russia has "successfully tested a space vehicle that could lead to weapons capable of penetrating missile defenses." Baluyevsky says the device tested "was a hypersonic vehicle--one that moves at more than five times the speed of sound--that could maneuver in orbit."

The International Atomic Energy Agency, while doing preliminary inspections, concludes that Libya successfully collected plutonium from the black market, but does not specify what amount.

A previously classified report prepared by the Pentagon in October 2003 entitled, "An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security," is revealed. The report predicts that "abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies." Describing nuclear weapons proliferation as inevitable, the report states that "nuclear energy will become a critical source of power, and this will accelerate nuclear proliferation as countries develop enrichment and reprocessing capabilities to ensure their national security. China, India, Pakistan, Japan, South Korea, Great Britain, France, and Germany will all have nuclear weapons capabilities, as will Israel, Egypt, and North Korea ."

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports that Iran has failed to declare its possession of blueprints for a P-2 centrifuge, an advanced uranium enrichment centrifuge used for the production of weapons-grade material. The report also states inspectors found undeclared components of the centrifuge at the Doshan-Tappeh air force base in Tehran. The Iranian Foreign Ministry strongly denies the report, stating that Iran "has not had, nor does it have, military nuclear activities."

The second round of six-nation talks concerning North Korea's nuclear weapons program occur.

At the end of a second round of six-nation talks, the U.S. and North Korea declare they are committed to deepening negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. The two nations pledge to meet in smaller working groups and hold a formal session before the end of June. Although the negotiations end once again in deadlock, diplomats describe the tone during the talks as constructive. During the talks, the U.S. rejected North Korea’s offer to freeze but not permanently give up its nuclear facilities in return for energy aid and security assurances. North Korea rejected the U.S. demand that North Korea agree to the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of all its nuclear capabilities.

Nigerian Defense Minister Rabiu Kwankwaso claims General Muhammad Aziz Khan, chairman of Pakistan’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, has offered military assistance to Nigeria, including "nuclear power." According to Kwankwaso, Pakistan "is working out the dynamics of how they can assist Nigeria ’s armed forces to strengthen its military capability and to acquire nuclear power." U.S. officials suspect that Nigeria is bluffing in its reports in order to spark international concern and obtain aid. The Pakistani government denies its role in the exchange, claiming they had made no such offer to the Nigerian Defense Ministry.

The International Atomic Energy Agency assists Libya in removing highly enriched uranium (HEU) stored at a research reactor facility on the outskirts of Tripoli. The HEU is returned to Russia, where it will be blended down to low-enriched uranium, suitable for civilian reactor use. The $700,000 fuel removal was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Pakistan tests its Shaheen II missile, which is capable of carrying nuclear warheads. With a range of 1240 miles, the Shaheen II can hit targets deep into neighboring India.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors find traces of extremely highly enriched uranium (HEU) for nuclear weapons use in Iran. Iranian officials claimed that nuclear equipment was contaminated by HEU while in transit before arriving in the country.

Libya signs the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Additional Protocol, granting IAEA inspectors broader inspection rights and access to Libya’s nuclear sites. IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei assures that "Libya will continue to reap the full benefits of nuclear applications for peaceful uses such as energy, agriculture, and medicine."

Madrid attacks (also known as 11/3, 3/11, and 11-M), a series of coordinated terrorist bombings, are launched against the commuter train system in Madrid, Spain. The attacks kill 191 people and injure more than 1,800 making them the deadliest terror strikes in Europe since the Lockerbie bombing in 1988, and the worst terrorist assault in Spanish history.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors adopts a resolution criticizing Iran for withholding information on its nuclear program. While welcoming Iran’s agreement to open its facilities to pervasive inspections, the resolution says it "deplored" recent discoveries of uranium enrichment equipment and other suspicious activities that Iran had failed to reveal.

Canadian New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jack Layton announces that Canada is not ready to join the U.S. missile defense program and that his country should halt all negotiations with the U.S. on joining the project. According to Layton, "[Canada] should withdraw from the talks."

International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohammed ElBaradei meets with U.S. President George W. Bush, bringing about an agreement that would strengthen curbs on the purchase and maintenance of nuclear materials around the world. ElBaradei states, "We are facing now the threat of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction which is everybody’s fight. One of the first priorities that I put to President Bush and he fully agreed, is that we need to clean up all the nuclear materials that lie around, either in highly enriched uranium [HEU] in research reactors or in fabrication facilities."

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell announces that the U.S. will reward Pakistan for its support in the war on terrorism by designating the country as a "major non-NATO ally." Powell also offers financial assistance and deterrence capabilities if Pakistan agrees to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and sign the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol.

India successfully test fires its short-range (95-190 miles) Prithvi missile, which is capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Responding to terrorist train bombings in Spain on March 11, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Mohammed ElBaradei underlines the concern that terrorists could one day go nuclear. ElBaradei states, "There’s obviously a high level of sophistication in the terrorist community...That heightens the sense of concern that [terrorists] might get their hands on any nuclear device or nuclear material."

Vasudev Aatre, Chief of India’s Defense Research and Development Organization declares India’s intention, in late 2004, to test its most advanced long-range nuclear-capable Agni III missile, which has a range of some 1860 miles.

During a U.S. House of Representatives International Relations Committee session, Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Daley testifies that the U.S. has "reason to believe" North Korea has offered surface-to-surface missiles to Myanmar. Daley also states that Myanmar "remains interested in acquiring nuclear research reactors, [but] we believe that news reports of construction activities are not well founded."

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) calls upon the international community to help control access to the Shinkolobwe mine. According to industry experts, uranium is being illegally quarried and exported without control. DRC Mining Minister Diomi Ndongala says officials from North Korea and African countries have expressed an interest in DRC uranium in recent years. The Shinkolobwe mine produced uranium for the U.S. nuclear weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan during World War II.

In an "Open Letter" addressed to U.S. President George W. Bush, 49 Generals and Admirals, including former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral William Crowe, Air Force General Alfred Hansen and Marine Corps General Joseph Hoar, ask for a delay in deploying the missile defense system. The letter concludes: "We therefore recommend, as the militarily responsible course of action, that you postpone operational deployment of the expensive and untested GMD (Global Missile Defense) system and transfer the associated funding to accelerated programs to secure the multitude of facilities containing nuclear weapons and materials and to protect our ports and borders against terrorists who may attempt to smuggle weapons of mass destruction into the United States."

Experts from fifteen countries announce that they have joined to form the newly constituted International Nuclear Safety Group (INSAG) to provide authoritative advice and guidance on safety approaches, policies, and principles at nuclear power plants and other nuclear facilities. The group was formed at the request of IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei and Dr. Richard Meserve, Chairman of INSAG, who is the former head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and presently President of the Carnegie Institution. INSAG Members include representatives from Canada, France, Finland, Russian Federation, Spain, Germany, Brazil, United Kingdom, United States, South Africa, Republic of Korea, Japan, Hungary, India, China, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Nuclear Energy Agency.

Pakistan rejects a request by the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect its nuclear facilities.

Iran announces that it has stopped building centrifuges, which can be used for uranium enrichment. Gholamreza Aghazadeh, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, makes the comments as inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency check on its nuclear facilities.

Russian news agencies ITAR-Tass and Interfax report that Russia has designed a "revolutionary" weapon that would render the prospective U.S. missile defense useless. A Russian Defense Ministry official, who was not identified by name, is quoted as saying that if deployed, the new weapon would take the value of any U.S. missile shield to "zero." The official says the new weapon would be inexpensive, providing an "asymmetric answer" to the U.S. missile defenses, which are proving extremely costly to develop.

The U.S. State Department, Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Energy (DOE) give a report to Congress stating that the development of low-yield nuclear weapons (or "mini-nukes") would have "no practical impact" on the administration’s non-proliferation efforts. In a cover letter to Representative Duncan Hunter (D-CA), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, DOE Administrator Linton Brooks writes, "There is no reason to believe that [the] repeal [on a ban prohibiting new nuclear weapons research] has had or will have any practical impact on the pursuit of nuclear weapons by proliferating states, on the comprehensive diplomatic efforts ongoing to address these threats, or on the possible modernization of nuclear weapons by China or Russia."

The International Atomic Energy Agency announces the discovery of trace levels of bomb-grade uranium in Iran.

Charles Karman, Executive Director of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), reports that North Korea can probably make unlimited quantities of nuclear weapons from its plutonium stocks. Although Karman indicates that scientists in North Korea are likely to possess the expertise to convert the plutonium into weapons-grade material, he is unsure about the advancements in their uranium enrichment program.

A report, entitled "Weaponeers of Waste," issued by the National Resources Defense Council reveals that the Bush Administration is spending twelve times more on developing nuclear weapons than it is on efforts to secure and reduce existing nuclear weapons materials. The Department of Energy (DOE) has requested $6.8 billion for nuclear weapons projects for 2005, double that of ten years ago.

Taiwan announces that it will buy advanced anti-missile systems from the U.S., including six patriot PAC-3 missiles worth $3 billion, to counter the missile threat from China. The purchase is part of a deal offered by the Bush Administration to Taiwan in 2001.

Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, known as the "father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapon," confirms that North Korea possesses up to three nuclear devices. Khan also reveals that he dealt with North Korea on the sale of equipment for a second method of producing nuclear weapons - through the enrichment of uranium (as opposed to plutonium). Khan admits to shipping the designs for uranium-enrichment centrifuges and a small number of complete centrifuges to North Korea.

In response to the U.S. plan to position ten missile interceptors in Poland and a radar base in the Czech Republic, the Russians get a sense of provocation similar to feelings during the Cold War. Bush sends Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, to explain to Putin that the U.S. missile plan should not be seen as antagonistic, but rather as a friendly force.

It is reported that Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan had made repeated trips to uranium-rich African countries with his nuclear chiefs and suppliers, dating back to at least 1998. Khan reportedly visited, among other nations, Sudan, Mali, Nigeria, and Niger, where he may have covertly encouraged poverty-stricken, unstable regimes to become interested in nuclear weapons for profit from illicit nuclear deals. Sudan reportedly harbored al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden until 1996.

The Director General of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA), Lieutenant General Ronald Kadish, informs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that he expects to meet President Bush’s goal of having a mid-course missile defense system in place by the end of 2005. This includes fielding approximately twenty operational interceptors at Fort Greely, Alaska and at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California by October 2004. In his testimony, Kadish acknowledges that the missile defense system will not guarantee a total defense against enemy missiles but will provide a "capability to defeat near-term threats of gravest concern."

Mordechai Vanunu is released from Ashkelon Prison in Southern Israel after nearly eighteen years of captivity, eleven years of which he spent in solitary confinement. Although he has been released from his physical prison, Vanunu’s civilian rights are severely curtailed. He is restricted from traveling abroad, approaching ports and borders, and from conversing with foreigners. Upon his release, Vanunu exclaims, "Israel doesn’t need nuclear arms. My message to all the world is open the Dimona reactor for inspection."

A General Accounting Off ice report is released, accusing the Department of Energy (DOE) of moving too slowly to upgrade security at U.S. nuclear weapons sites. The report claims that the current level of protection falls short of meeting the terrorist threat.

The third Preparatory Committee Meeting to the 2005 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) begins at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopts Resolution 1540. The resolution, originally drafted by the U.S., calls upon all 191 member states of the UN to "combat by all means" the spread of weapons of mass destruction. The resolution will require all UN members to "adopt and enforce appropriate effective laws" to prevent "any non-state actor" from being able to "manufacture, acquire, possess, develop, transport, or use nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons and their means of delivery." The resolution not only targets terrorist threats but also requires states, including alleged proliferators such as Pakistan, Iran, and North Korea to adopt laws or regulations to enforce a ban on the transfer of prohibited weapons.

A study conducted by RadioActivist, an independent science organization in Washington, and Tri-Valley CAREs in Livermore, states that artificial radioactivity has been detected near Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California. According to the report, Americium 241, Cesium 137 and Strontium 90 were found in a grass sample collected near Flynn Road, downwind from the laboratory.

Atomic Energy Minister Sergei Antipov announces Russia faces grave environmental and terrorist threats unless international aid is accelerated for dismantling its decommissioned nuclear submarines. Despite the Group of Eight (G8) Global Partnership Initiative in 2002 to spend $20 billion over ten years to secure stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction materials, only $100 million has been spent directly in Russia. Approximately $50 million was spent on the daunting task of dismantling 96 of Russia’s rapidly degenerating submarines.

The U.S. Government Accountability Offices releases a report accusing the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) of moving too slowly to upgrade security at the nation’s nuclear weapons sites and claims that the current level of protection falls short of meeting the terrorist threat.

The 2004 Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meeting of parties for the 2005 Review Conference to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) ends in disarray, after delegates fail to resolve differences on numerous political and procedural issues. Member states adopt only parts of a final report containing the most minimal agreements to enable the 2005 Review Conference to take place. The meeting does not resume an open session to formally close proceedings and fails to produce recommendations or a program of work for next year’s Review Conference. Fulfilling a difficult role, Chairman Ambassador Sudjadnan Parnohadiningrat of Indonesia issues a summary that attempts to reflect conflicting ideas. However, the Chairman’s report is heavily criticized by several states, including the nuclear weapons states led by the U.S., as well as by Iran and Canada. During the PrepCom, priorities to eliminate existing nuclear weapons, stop the further spread of nuclear weapons, and ensure access to nuclear technology and material for peaceful purposes are discussed. The crux of the political debate is whether the emphasis should be placed on the disarmament of the five nuclear weapon states ( Britain, China, France, Russia, U.S.) or the proliferation threat by countries such as North Korea and Iran.

Following the passage of the UN resolution on nonproliferation in April 2004, Pakistan agrees to tighten its rules on nuclear export controls. Approval of a draft bill in the country’s federal cabinet provides a maximum jail term of fourteen years and a top fine of $285,000 for those caught attempting to export material, equipment, and technology related to nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and their means of delivery. Once approved by parliament, the bill will become a law.

Panama signs onto the U.S. Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), agreeing to permit inspectors to board and search its flagships on the open seas if suspected of transporting biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons-related equipment. Panama is the world’s leading shipping registry. Sixty nations are now signed onto the initiative.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) releases a report on the U.S. missile defense project due to be deployed by the end of September 2004. The report, entitled "Technical Realities," finds that the system is incapable of shooting down any incoming wards and finds "no basis for believing the system will have any capability to defend against a real attack." Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), a senior democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, supports the report and calls for the Bush Administration to stop purchasing interceptors until they are proven to work in operational tests.

Strontium 90, considered one of the most hazardous nuclear wastes by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is spilled across nearly two miles of Highway 95 in Roane County, Tennessee at 11:00 am. More than five hours after the spill occurs, authorities finally close the road. Tennessee citizens are outraged that authorities fail to communicate the accident within five hours of the spill. In a predictable display of U.S. public relations, Department of Energy (DOE) spokesman Steve Wyatt announces there is no danger to the public. Highway 95 remains closed until May 16, 2004, after specialists clean and repave sections of the road. The cleanup bill will exceed $1 million. The DOE invites concerned residents to the East Tennessee Technology Park for a free inspection of their vehicle. No reports of contaminated vehicles are filed.

A democratic amendment to shift funds from programs that research new nuclear weapons designs to conventional weapons and better target intelligence is narrowly defeated in the U.S. House of Representatives. Republicans barely preserve $27 million for research on the "bunker-buster," and $9 million for the Advanced Concept program, which includes research on "mini-nukes." Although the amendment does not pass, the 214-to-204 vote is closer than a similar effort last year, signifying growing opposition to the research and development of new nuclear weapons and their implication on spurring proliferation. Some argue that the manufacturing of new nuclear weapons such as the "bunker-buster" and the "mini-nuke" is harmful to U.S. efforts to discourage other nations from acquiring and developing nuclear weapons.

Iran submits a 1000-page dossier on its nuclear activities to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Although Iran’s Ambassador to the IAEA, Pirooz Hosseini, assures that the declaration is full and truthful, the previous dossier submitted by Iran in October 2003 omitted details about potential weapons-related research, including designs and components for advanced centrifuges capable of producing weapons-grade uranium. IAEA Director General Mohammed ElBaradei says that the IAEA hopes to finish the investigations by the end of 2004, but warns that "[the IAEA] does not see the kind of cooperation we would like to see from Iran ." Iran’s President, Mohammad Khatami, acknowledges that Iran will not achieve its goal of having its nuclear file closed in June but maintains that IAEA inspectors have access to all nuclear installations found at military sites. To date, IAEA inspectors report two concentrations of particles of highly enriched uranium, one at the Kalaye electric workshop in Tehran and the other at the Natanz pilot fuel enrichment plant. ElBaradei stresses, however, that the investigations have not concluded and such discoveries do not automatically mean Iran is involved in the manufacturing of nuclear weapons.

The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) conducts a sub-critical nuclear test, code named "Armando," at the Nevada Test Site, located 85 miles north of Las Vegas. United States officials claim that the test is crucial to producing "essential scientific data and technical information used to help maintain the safety and reliability of the nuclear weapons stockpile." The test takes place 963 feet below ground and involves detonating high explosives around plutonium, encased in a steel sphere, while x-rays, radar, and lasers chart the behavior of the radioactive element. The test is conducted to determine the difference between nuclear weapons triggers produced in Los Alamos (made of plutonium) and those produced at Rocky Flats (made of wrought plutonium). "Armando" is the 21st sub-critical nuclear test conducted at the Nevada Test Site and is the third of its series following "Mario" and "Rocco" performed in August and September of 2002.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham announces a $450 million plan to address the issue of nuclear security around the world and to reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism. The Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) aims to minimize and secure the amount of weapons-grade nuclear material currently available. According to Secretary Abraham, "We will do this by the securing, removing, relocating or disposing of these materials and equipment-whatever the most appropriate circumstance may be-as quickly and expeditiously as possible." A main component of the plan involves collaborating with Russia "to repatriate all Russian-originated highly-enriched uranium fuel by the end of 2005."

Vietnam and France sign an agreement to cooperate on the construction of a nuclear power plant. Vietnam is preparing to build its first nuclear power plant by 2020. A feasibility report is currently underway to determine a suitable location in one of its coastal provinces. The development of Vietnam’s energy infrastructure is a major challenge for the industrializing nation, where the government has predicted a shortage of energy by 2015. Some analysts believe that Vietnam’s desire for nuclear power may be connected to its military and security policy. Vietnam’s neighbors--China, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, India, and Pakistan--all possess nuclear capabilities.

Pakistan confirms North Korea’s involvement in the clandestine nuclear black market. North Korea is accused of supplying some 1.7 tons uranium hexafluoride to Libya for its now scrapped nuclear program. North Korea may also have provided Iran and other nations with nuclear fuel, components, and know-how. However, the IAEA is unable to independently verify such claims since its inspectors were expelled from North Korea in December 2002.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers $1.5 million for the next phase of a thyroid study at the University of Utah involving people who lived downwind from where nuclear weapons testing occurred. Southeastern Nevada, Southwestern Utah, and Northwestern Arizona were all hit by radioactive fallout from the above-ground testing that took place at the Nevada Test Site from 1951 through 1962. For decades, there has been debate over how the more than 900 above-ground nuclear weapons tests at the Nevada Test Site have affected downwind residents.

Pakistan claims it successfully test fired the Ghauri (Hatf V), a ballistic missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads. According to Major-General Shaukat Sultan, the missile has a range of up to 1500 kilometers and can carry all types of warheads. The Ghauri missile was developed by Khan Research Laboratories, Pakistan’s main uranium-enrichment facility, which was named for Abdul Qadir Khan, once revered as the father of the country’s atom bomb. The missile test comes just a few days after a new government has taken office in India . Although the new administration in India pledges to continue the peace process with Pakistan, it postpones talks aimed at easing nuclear tensions, saying it needs time to settle in.

Democratic Presidential candidate Senator John Kerry delivers a speech in West Palm Beach, Florida calling nuclear terrorism the gravest threat the U.S. faces and offers a plan to secure nuclear arsenals and materials around the world. Kerry says that defeating this danger will require a new approach to national security and new leadership to repair alliances that have been shredded. Kerry states, "I am proposing a new initiative to prevent the world’s deadliest weapons from falling into the world’s most dangerous hands. If we secure all bomb-making materials, ensure that no new materials are produced for nuclear weapons and end nuclear weapons programs in hostile states like North Korea and Iran, we will dramatically reduce the possibility of nuclear terrorism." Kerry emphasizes the need to safeguard nuclear materials worldwide within four years and says he will lead an international coalition for a global ban on production of material for new nuclear weapons.

The Japanese business daily Nikkei Shimbun reports that North Korea has extended the range of the No-Dong by reducing the weight of the warheads and improving technology over the last year.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announces that it has delivered an overdue and classified report to Congress on how many nuclear weapons the U.S. will keep in the future. Linton Brooks, director of the National Nuclear Security Administration, says that under the proposed Bush administration plan, the U.S. nuclear stockpile "will be the smallest it has been in several decades." In a letter to members of Congress, Brooks says that making the stockpile smaller would require more work on the remaining weapons. He states, "We must continue the administration’s efforts to restore the nuclear weapons infrastructure." In practice, the weapons to be retired will join a long queue at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas, which is currently engaged in "life extension" of existing weapons. The entire U.S. nuclear force numbers some 10,000 total warheads. Russia currently deploys roughly 5,000 strategic nuclear warheads out of an estimated arsenal of some 20,000 total nuclear warheads.

Pakistan conducts the second test in one week of its HatfV ballistic missile, which is part of a series of Ghauri missiles believed to be based on North Korea’s No-Dong missile. According to a Pakistani military statement, the HatfV has a range of 1,500 km. Ghauri missiles were developed by Khan Research Laboratories, which was founded and named after Abdul Qadir Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb.

Assistant Secretary of Environmental Management, Jessie Roberson, resigns her post at the Department of Energy (DOE). Roberson was head of the DOE Accelerated Cleanup Program that was created in order to reduce the cost and accelerate the environmental cleanup process at U.S. nuclear weapon sites. Unfortunately, the DOE program has only adhered to minimal environmental standards and has proposed minimizing cleanup efforts in order to cut costs. Roberson is the third senior level, Senate-confirmed DOE official to resign in the last eighty days. Undersecretary Robert Card and Assistant Secretary Beverly Cook precede Roberson’s resignation. All three officials were involved in environmental cleanup programs at DOE nuclear weapon sites. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham appoints Paul Golan, who is currently serving as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management, to Roberson’s position.

During its 12th public hearing, the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, also known as the 9-11 Commission, issues a report entitled, "Staff Statement No.16 Outline of the 9-11 Plot." One of many revelations, the statement confirms nationwide concerns that nuclear reactors are prime terrorist targets. In the statement, the 9-11 Commission discloses that "unidentified nuclear power plants" were among buildings to be destroyed by hijacked airliners on September 11th. Counter-terrorism specialists provide additional testimony supporting the belief that the U.S. can deter terrorists from striking nuclear reactor sites and irradiated fuel pools by bolstering security and hardening storage containers. However, despite the threats raised by the 9-11 Commission, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has not significantly increased security at the nation’s nuclear sites. Many experts agree that the NRC is slow to respond because the U.S. nuclear industry cannot afford bolstered security due to the industry’s stagnation following the worst nuclear power plant accident in U.S. history at Three Mile Island in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in March 1979.

The Kyodo News Agency reports that former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone once ordered defense officials to look into developing a nuclear capability. In his memoirs due out at the end of June, Nakasone is quoted as saying that, as defense minister in 1970, he asked military experts to investigate the cost and time needed for Japan to develop and deploy nuclear weapons. The experts estimated that Japan could attain a nuclear capability in five years at a cost of 200 billion yen. However, they reported that it would be impossible for Japan to develop nuclear weapons without a testing ground. Nakasone, who was Prime Minister from 1982-1987, told reporters, "I have always opposed [Japan having] nuclear weapons. However, the talk would be completely different if the United States removed its nuclear umbrella. Japan would have to consider many possibilities, including nuclear weapons." Nakasone is among the Japanese politicians who believe that Japan should alter its pacifist constitution and build up its military. After the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the end of World War II, Japan adopted a constitution that includes three principles banning the possession, production, and import of nuclear weapons. However, under the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security and other agreements, Japan continues to rely on the U.S. nuclear umbrella.

At 6:50 am, a fire breaks out at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon, Vermont. The fire burns for an hour but is contained to non-nuclear areas of the site and triggers an automatic shutdown of the plant. No one is hurt during the early morning emergency. However, control room operators at Vermont Yankee do not notify Vermont state officials within the first fifteen minutes of the emergency and are being investigated for violating this federal law.The fire at Vermont Yankee is the third crisis at the nuclear plant in the last two months. In April 2004, cracks were found in the plant’s steam dryer, where radioactive steam is desiccated after leaving the nuclear core. On April 21, 2004, two highly radioactive spent fuel rods were lost and have yet to be recovered.

Foreign ministry officials from India and Pakistan hold bilateral confidence-building talks on nuclear weapons in an effort to normalize relations between the two countries. Nuclear talks between the two countries have been thwarted since December 2001 when relations deteriorated after an attack on the Indian Parliament, which India blamed on Pakistan’s spy agency and Pakistan-based militant groups. At the end of the talks, the two countries release a joint statement saying that they will establish a new nuclear hotline between their foreign ministries to alert each other of potential nuclear accidents or threats. Officials say the dedicated secure hotline is intended to "prevent misunderstandings and reduce risks relevant to nuclear issues." The joint statement also says that an existing hotline between directors general of military operations in both countries will be upgraded and secured. Both countries also reaffirm their commitment to a moratorium on conducting further nuclear tests, "unless, in exercise of national sovereignty, it decides that extraordinary events have jeopardized its supreme interests."

A third round of six-nation talks on North Korea’s nuclear program is held in Beijing, China. In the previous two rounds, the negotiations remained mired in deadlock. However, in the third round, the six countries (China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea, and the U.S.) restate their goal of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and agree to take the "first steps" toward working out a plan for a verifiable freeze of North Korea’s nuclear development and for a package of aid to be given to Pyongyang in return.

U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) launches an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to the Kwajalein Missile Range in the Marshall Islands. The launch is designed to test the reliability and accuracy of the ground-based missile defense system. According to the MDA, the missile contains tracking and telemetry systems to collect data, along with destruction systems in case the launch goes awry. By September 2004, at least twenty anti-ballistic missile interceptors are scheduled to be deployed at Fort Greely in Alaska and at Vandenberg Air force Base in California. The Bush administration is now actively developing and implementing a system that is not fully developed.

While speaking to reporters during an official visit to Moscow, International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohammed ElBaradei says Israel should start talking seriously about ridding the Middle East of nuclear weapons, whether it admits to having them or not.

Secretary-General of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Hassan Rohani says his country will proceed with its decision to make advanced P-2 centrifuges used to purify uranium for use in nuclear power plants or weapons. The U.S., the European Union (EU), and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) claim Iran is making the centrifuges to advance its nuclear weapons program. In a radio address to Iran’s parliament, Rohani states, "They may react bitterly or heighten pressure on us, but that is not important."

The Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor resumes operation following a fire that previously shut down the reactor for 19 days. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announces the cause of the fire was not related to the proposal to increase the reactor’s energy output.

The Vermont Yankee fire brigade responds to yet another emergency. Black smoke billows from a furnace until the fuel supply is turned off. No damages or injuries are reported.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Mohamed ElBaradei announces that the nuclear black market has spread to firms in more than twenty countries, some of them in North America. Demanding anonymity, a senior diplomat says at least one of the firms was based in the U.S. He declines to elaborate, saying that the IAEA "was not yet at the bottom of that story." However, he says what is known about that company sheds new light on the activities of the nuclear black market. The diplomat also says that Syria and Saudi Arabia are being investigated as buyer nations, beyond Iraq, Iran, Libya, and North Korea--the countries known to have contact with Abdul Qadir Khan and his clandestine nuclear network. However, the diplomat said that beyond suspicions prompting a continuing investigation, "there has been no proof" on Syria and Saudi Arabia that would warrant them being reported to the IAEA board of governors.

Polish government officials confirm that talks have been going on with the U.S. for eight months to position the biggest missile defense site outside the U.S. in central Europe. Officials announce that Poland is eager to become a partner. Similarly, officials from the Czech Republic also confirm that talks are under way to establish U.S. advanced radar stations in their country as part of the U.S. missile defense program.

The University of California halts all classified work at Lost Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in order to search for missing computer disks containing classified information and to allegedly shore up some faulty security protocols. A day later, LANL Director Pete Nanos stops nearly all work at the lab. The recent episode is only the latest in a two-decade-long span of security lapses, computer data mishandling, safety hazards, and financial mismanagement under the management of the University of California.

General Charles W. Sweeney, who flew the B-29 Superfortress that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, passes away at the age of 84. Army Air Force Major Sweeney accompanied the Enola Gay, piloted by Colonel Paul W. Tibbets Jr., in his bomber, Great Artiste, on August 6, 1945. When the Enola Gay dropped its uranium-235 bomb, called "Little Boy" on the city of Hiroshima, Major Sweeney’s plane dropped instruments to detect heat, blast, and radiation. Three days later, Major Sweeney piloted a B-29 called Bockscar, carrying an even more powerful plutonium-239 bomb called "Fat Man." At 11:01 am on August 9, 1945, "Fat Man" was dropped on the city of Nagasaki, instantaneously killing more than 40,000 people.

The New Scientist reveals that a new report written by radiation experts for the UK government highlights the cancer risk from exposure to plutonium may be ten times higher than is allowed for in calculating international safety limits. The experts are unanimous in saying that low-level radiation emitted by plutonium may cause more damage to human cells than previously believed.

Retired Air Force Colonel Derek Duke and others scour an area the size of a football field in Wassaw Sound using equipment that detects radiation and large metal objects. They then announced that they may have discovered a missing hydrogen bomb that the Air Force accidentally dropped off the Georgia coast more than forty-five years ago. The crew of a B-47 accidentally dropped the 7,600-pound Hydrogen bomb near Wassaw Sound--a shallow area near Tybee Beach that is about twelve miles from Hilton Head Island--in 1958 after it collided with another jet fighter. The military searched for the bomb for three months following the accident, but never recovered it.

According to a federal audit, efforts to clean up contaminated groundwater around the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in the southern part of Washington state has been "largely ineffective." Thus far, the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) has spent $85 million in an attempt to clean the groundwater, including $8 million a year on its pump-and-treat system, which pulls groundwater out of the ground, runs it through filters, and puts it back. However, the system doesn’t work and, according to the audit, the DoE knows it doesn’t work and yet it is not doing much to find alternative methods. The report recommends that the DoE shut down current treatments, establish concrete goals, and try new technologies. In the mean time, polluted water is draining into the Columbia River .

In addition to almost 300 surveillance cameras, dozens of new Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC 3) missiles are armed and in position at three locations including the Tatoi military base near the athletes’ Olympic Village, to provide a "defense umbrella" over Athens from now until the end of the Olympic Games on August 29. Squadron leader Lieutenant-Colonel Agamemnon Koliakos states, "This particular squadron, along with other missile guided squadrons, is part of an anti-missile umbrella formed in the Athens region for the protection of the Olympic Games." Greece has put in place the most expensive Olympic security plan ever with a total cost of approximately $1.22 billion. Greece has set up a seven-nation security advisory group, including Australia, France, Germany, Israel, Spain, the UK, and the U.S. to provide intelligence and training, and has called on NATO for air and sea patrols. Despite the elaborate security measures, the government has assured there is no indication, or intelligence "chatter," of a potential attack in Greece during the Games, a statement that has been backed by the international police organization Interpol.

Diplomats claim that Iran has defied international concerns and resumed clandestine work linked to uranium enrichment, resumed testing equipment, and resumed producing hexafluoride gas, which when injected into centrifuges and spun can be enriched to a level high enough to make nuclear warheads. Speaking on condition of anonymity, diplomats say that while Iran seems to be only testing the machinery, it has apparently produced some of the gas as a side effect, but they do not know how much gas has been produced or when testing was resumed. This, coupled with disclosures that Iran has restarted building centrifuges, is creating heightened concern that Iran is moving toward full uranium enrichment.

Israel and the U.S. conduct a test of the Arrow anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system at Port Hueneme off the coast of California. This is the first "realistic" test of the system in two years. With U.S. financial backing, Israel has been developing the Arrow ABM system since the first Gulf War in 1991, when the U.S. Patriot system proved less than successful with very few missiles managing to intercept the Scuds launched at Israel.

The Bush administration announces at the 65-nation Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva that it now supports negotiating a treaty to end the production of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium--also called fissile materials--for weapons. The Bush administration’s decision to move forward on the treaty comes after an exhaustive inter-agency policy assessment that was launched last year to review the U.S. position on the treaty. However, United States Representative to the CD Jackie Sanders says that the U.S. has "serious concerns" about the verifiability of such a treaty, despite previous U.S. support for the negotiation of a verifiable ban. The five declared nuclear-weapon states--China, France, Russia, the UK, and the U.S.--have all said they are no longer producing fissile material for weapons. On the other hand, India and Pakistan have active production programs for both HEU and plutonium, and it is likely that their stocks of weapon-grade material are increasing. It is not clear whether Israel is continuing to produce fissile material for weapons purposes. Under the guise of civilian nuclear energy research, other states, including Iran, have built facilities capable of producing fissile material for weapons.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says his country will only reconsider the need for its "deterrent capability" when there is peace across the Middle East and its neighbors abandon weapons of mass destruction. Under a policy of "strategic ambiguity," Israel refuses to admit or deny it has nuclear weapons. However, international experts today estimate the country has arsenal of 100 to 200 nuclear warheads.

Columbia Generating Station, the only nuclear reactor in the Northwest U.S., has to be shutdown manually when its automated shutdown systems fail. Two of 185 control rods at the Columbia Generating Station fail to move into place and have to be inserted manually by reactor engineers.

Jane’s Defense Weekly releases a report stating that North Korea is developing ballistic missiles from decommissioned Soviet hardware that are capable of hitting the U.S. The report suggests North Korea has modified technology used in old Soviet submarines, based on the R-21 and R-27 missile systems, to construct both land- and sea-based ballistic missile systems capable of carrying nuclear warheads. A sea-based missile system will enable North Korea to threaten the mainland U.S. for the first time. It will also place the nation alongside the U.S., UK, France, China, and Russia as the countries that have such a strategic threat. According to the Jane’s report, North Korea is developing a land-based system with a range of up to 4000 km and a sea-based system with range of 2500 km.

On the 59th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, five engineers are killed and at least seven injured during an accident at the Mihama nuclear reactor in Fukui Prefecture, Japan. The accident is Japan’s worst nuclear incident since the 1945 bombing of Nagasaki. The engineers are killed when a pipe carrying superheated steam ruptures, releasing high-temperature steam into the turbine building. There were 104 people in the turbine building at the moment of the incident. The pipe had not been inspected since the reactor was first started in 1976. Officials claim no radiation was released.

Marking the 59th Anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Mayor Icho Itoh warns that the new nuclear weapons that the U.S. wants to develop will cause as much radiation contamination as the bomb dropped on Nagasaki. Mayor Itoh says in a nationally broadcast speech before thousands gathered in the city’s Peace Park, "The ’mini-nukes’ that the U.S. is trying to develop possess terrible power, despite their smaller size. The radiation destruction they will cause is no different from that of the bomb dropped on Nagasaki." Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi also reiterates Japan’s policy banning the production, possession, and transportation of nuclear weapons within its borders. He also vows to continue pressing for more nations to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which would ban nuclear weapons testing and make developing new weapons almost impossible.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves two drugs to treat people who are exposed to plutonium, americium, or curium, opening the way for mass distribution of the drugs. Acting FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford states, "The approval of these two drugs is another example of FDA’s readiness and commitment to protecting Americans against all terrorist threats."

U.S. government officials say they cannot account for three copies of a classified document at the National Nuclear Security Administration’s ( NNSA ) Service Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The officials stop short of calling the copies "missing" and describe the problem as "an accounting discrepancy" instead. However, the officials do say that the FBI has been called in. Officials do not say what the document contains or how long the "accounting discrepancy" has existed. The NNSA Service Center, located on Kirtland Air Force Base, provides business services for the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, including purchasing, human resources, and contract management. NNSA administrator Linton Brooks, says in a statement, "I am disappointed that we have found another case of lax procedures in protecting classified information."

Workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation celebrate the completion of a project to remove millions of gallons of liquid radioactive waste from old, leak-prone tanks. State and federal officials call the achievement a major milestone in the decades-long cleanup of Hanford.

China calls for international consensus and a legally-binding agreement on Preventing an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS). At the United Nations Conference on Disarmament, China’s Ambassador for Disarmament Affairs, Hu Xiaodi, tells delegates, "In our view, the priority concern is to further consolidate an international consensus on prevention of weaponization and an arms race in outer space in the form of a legal commitment or a legal instrument."

Despite wishes for their removal, the U.S. European Command says that U.S. nuclear weapons deployed in Europe will remain where they are. The locations and numbers of nuclear weapons in Europe are classified. However, NATO considers nuclear weapons "an essential political and military link between the European and North American members of the alliance." U.S. Navy Lt. Commander Rick Haupt states, "The alliance will, therefore, maintain adequate nuclear forces in Europe" and their numbers would be at "the minimum level to maintain peace and stability." The U.S. has maintained nuclear weapons in Western Europe since the 1950s as part of its Cold War strategy to counter the threat of the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe. According to reports from various groups, thousands of nuclear warheads were placed in Europe at the height of the Cold War. Treaties with the Former Soviet Union prompted a reduction of weapons even before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and further reductions have taken place since. The U.S. is the only country to deploy nuclear weapons outside its border.

India test-fires an Agni II surface-to-surface missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads. This is the third test of the missile, which has a range of up to 1,560 miles. The two previous tests were conducted in April 1999 and January 2001. According to the Indian Defense Ministry, the missile can carry conventional and nuclear warheads weighing a little more than one ton.

On the 55th anniversary of the first nuclear explosion carried out on the former testing ground in Semipalatinsk (now Kazakhstan), which signaled the beginning of the nuclear era in the Soviet Union, Interfax reports that 81 percent of Russian citizens believe the current moratorium on nuclear testing must be maintained. Conducted by the ROMIR Monitoring Pollster from August 12-17, the national opinion poll involved 1,500 respondents. Of those polled, only 13 percent say nuclear tests must be resumed, while six percent are undecided. Additionally, 41 percent of those polled believe that the nuclear threat has increased over the past ten years, 34 percent say it has remained at the same level, and 19 percent say that the nuclear threat has slightly decreased. Six percent of those surveyed were undecided.

The Energy Employee Compensation Resource Center, a new resource facility for workers employed by the Department of Energy (DoE), opens in Livermore, California. The center will provide assistance for ex-DoE employees who have been exposed to radiation during their employment. Various other centers operate around the country to assist sick workers, but until now there was no center to assist former employees at any of the 35 DoE sites, some of which are the biggest in the nation. At the new center, former DoE employees will be aided in filling out Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program (EEOICP) claims to receive assistance with health expenses related to their radiation exposure.

The New Mexico Environment Department penalizes the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) $2.4 million for violating hazardous waste management regulations. It is discovered that numerous shipments of mixed waste destined for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, New Mexico have not undergone safety inspections and testing. Officials base the $2.4 million fine on 107 drums of radioactive waste shipped between March and July of 2004 that were overlooked by DoE personnel. The waste originated from Idaho’s National Engineering and Environment Laboratory (INEEL). Officials halted shipments between INEEL and WIPP nearly two months ago once it was recognized that proper testing had not been completed. The State of New Mexico Hazardous Waste Emergency Fund will receive 100 percent of the $2.4 million fine to pay for environmental cleanups.

North Korea refuses to attend fourth round talks, accusing the United States of hostile policies.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) releases a new report stating that its inspectors have not found any evidence to support U.S. accusations that Iran has a secret nuclear weapons program. Nevertheless, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says the United Nations (UN) should take punitive action against Iran. Powell states, "We still believe that the Iranians are not fessing up to everything. They still have a program that, in our judgment, is a nuclear program designed to develop ultimately a nuclear weapon." However, it appears unlikely that the Bush administration will find enough support among the IAEA’s 35-member body to be able to refer the matter to the UN Security Council this month to consider imposing sanctions against Iran.

Minatom, Russia’s nuclear energy agency, announces that Russia has deployed extra troops to guard dozens of nuclear facilities across the country. The announcement comes after militants seize a school in the south near Chechnya taking around 150 people hostage and after a suicide bomb attack in Moscow, which kills at least nine people. A Minatom spokesman states, "After the latest terrorist attacks security services decided to send more interior ministry troops to all nuclear sites across the country." The spokesman does not say how many additional troops have been deployed.

South Korea tells the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that government scientists in the country carried out nuclear experiments to enrich uranium four years ago. According to the statement from South Korea, the IAEA will now investigate the disclosure. The statement also says the experiments, which involved producing a minute quantity of uranium using lasers, were carried out by a group of scientists without government knowledge and were soon ended. The government confirms it is committed to only the peaceful use of nuclear energy and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

A report is published in the September issue of Radiation Research revealing the first direct link between thyroid cancer risk and individual radiation exposures. Dr. Scott Davis, an epidemiologist at the Seattle-based Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, led a team of researchers in performing an analysis of thyroid cancer rates among Ukrainians who lived and worked near the site of Chernobyl, the world’s worst nuclear accident. Dr. Scott Davis states, "Before Chernobyl, we almost never saw thyroid cancer in children." Although other estimates are higher, according to official Ukrainian government numbers, the Chernobyl explosion killed 31 people immediately and exposed millions to radiation. Though it was known that cancer rates were higher in the region after the accident, no studies were conducted showing a direct correlation between the amount of radiation exposure and an individual’s risk of cancer.

Two armed nuclear transport ships operated by British Nuclear Fuels Limited, the Pacific Teal and the Pacific Pintail, depart South Carolina with 300 pounds (140 kilograms) of plutonium oxide on board. Both ships are bound for Cherbourg, France. Once the Teal and Pintail arrive in France, the plutonium will be loaded onto trucks and transported to Areva’s Cogema-Cadarache plant to be processed into mixed oxide fuel (MOX) for use in civilian nuclear power reactors. Though U.S. plutonium aboard the Teal and the Pintail has thus far remained secure, many are concerned that greater environmental and terrorist dangers lay ahead.

 Eighty-year-old UK nuclear physicist and nuclear energy advocate Eric Voice passes away. Voice was one of the first western scientists to visit Chernobyl after the nuclear explosion in 1986. He made several visits to the Ukraine to research the effects of the accident on plant and animal life. Voice began his career as "the most radioactive man on the planet" when he volunteered as a guinea pig at AEA Technology’s biomedical research laboratory at Harwell in the UK. The goal of the experiment was to track the movement of plutonium through the blood, bones, and organs.

The United States lifts decades-old export restrictions on equipment for India’s commercial space program and nuclear power facilities, a sign of the increasingly close ties between the two countries. U.S. firms have not been allowed to sell sophisticated equipment or technology to India--seen by the U.S. as a Cold War ally of the Soviet Union--as part of a ban in place for decades to prevent their use for military purposes. The U.S. tightened the curbs after announcing tough trade sanctions on India and Pakistan in response to their tit-for-tat nuclear tests in 1998. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, the U.S. eased the 1998 sanctions, increasingly viewing India and Pakistan as allies in its war on terrorism.

The state of Washington’s Department of Ecology issues a $270,000 fine to the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) for inappropriately shipping nuclear waste from South Carolina to the Hanford complex in southern Washington. State officials argue that 83 storage drums containing radioactive waste were accidentally shipped from South Carolina . Additionally, the waste was accompanied by documentation that was mostly incomplete, inaccurate, or missing. The DoE has 30 days to appeal the fine.

Liechtenstein deposits its instrument of ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, bringing the number of ratifying States in the North American and Western European geographical region to 26.

Brazilian officials and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reach a deal over the industrial uranium enrichment program in Resende, Brazil. The deal allows inspectors to check pipes leading to and from centrifuges to ensure nuclear materials are not being diverted for use in weapons. The deal does not allow inspectors to examine the actual centrifuges, since Brazil vehemently voiced fears over industrial espionage. The deal grants the IAEA only partial access.

On the last day of its week-long annual conference, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) adopts a resolution by consensus that "affirms the urgent need for all states in the Middle East to forthwith accept the application of full-scope agency safeguards to all their nuclear activities...as a step in enhancing peace and security in the context of the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone." While the resolution does not name Israel specifically, it is clearly aimed at the state that is the only one in the region to possess an estimated 200 nuclear weapons. The resolution also calls upon North Korea to "completely dismantle any nuclear weapons programs" and allow international inspectors to return to monitor nuclear activities there.The resolution also calls upon Iran to "immediately" suspend all parts of the nuclear fuel cycle. Despite the resolution, Iranian atomic energy chief Reza Aghazadeh says that Iran had begun the conversion of substantial amounts of uranium ore into the gas needed to enrich uranium, which makes nuclear fuel for reactors, but can also be used to produce the explosive core of atomic bombs. The IAEA sets a deadline of November 25 for a definitive review of Iran’s nuclear program. The U.S. continues to accuse Iran of engaging in an "unrelenting push toward nuclear weapons capability." The U.S. is pushing for Iran to be sent before the UN Security Council, which could impose punishing sanctions.

The CTBT Organization (CTBTO) announces that Tunisia has ratified the treaty. A statement issued by the CTBTO says that Tunisia has two monitoring stations to check for evidence of nuclear test blasts in the region.

On the eighth anniversary of the opening for signature of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), 42 foreign ministers from countries that have already ratified the treaty deliver a statement to the United Nations General Assembly in which they call upon more nuclear states to join their commitment to end nuclear testing by ratifying the CTBT. The CTBT currently has 119 signatories, but it cannot enter into force until 12 key states ratify it--China, Colombia, Congo, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, North Korea,  the U.S., Pakistan, and Vietnam. Finland’s Foreign Minister Errki Toumioja states, "There is a very strong feeling among countries in the world that the threat of nuclear weapons and proliferation has not been adequately met."

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) announces that it has installed a fifth interceptor missile into an underground silo at Ft. Greely, Alaska. One additional interceptor is planned to be installed at the facility by mid-October 2004 and four interceptors are also planned to be placed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California by early next year.

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Su Hon provides the United Nations General Assembly annual ministerial meeting with details of his country’s nuclear deterrent, which he says was developed for self-defense. According to Choe, North Korea has turned the plutonium from 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods into nuclear weapons because the country had "no other option but to possess a nuclear deterrent" due to U.S. policies that he claimed were designed to "eliminate’’ North Korea and make it "a target of preemptive nuclear strikes."

The United Republic of Tanzania ratifies the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, making it the 26th nation in the African geographic region to do so. Tanzania hosts one International Monitoring System (IMS) facility--a radionuclide station--at Dar es Salaam.

The first shipment of weapons-grade nuclear material is transferred out of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Technical Area 18 (TA-18) and moved to the Nevada Test Site. TA-18 has been the target of post-9/11 scrutiny because of its vulnerability to possible terrorist attacks. In October 2000, a mock drill conducted by military forces demonstrated that they could have easily constructed and detonated a bomb inside TA-18 that would have destroyed part of New Mexico. Criticality experiments, which involve self-sustaining nuclear chain reactions, are conducted at TA-18. The Santa Fe City Council recently passed a resolution opposing continued operations at TA-18 citing findings that the facility is neither safe nor secure.

The government of Iraq reports to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that 350 metric tons of high explosives are missing from storage sites subject to IAEA monitoring. In a statement to the IAEA, the Iraqi government writes that the materials went missing “after April 9, 2003, through the theft and looting of the governmental installations due to lack of security.”

Taiwan denies that its nuclear weapons program, which was abandoned in the 1980s, involved experimenting with separating plutonium. The denial comes after allegations surface in Vienna, Austria where International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) diplomats say they found samples indicating plutonium experiments were conducted twenty years ago in Taiwan.

According to a 1991-2002 study by the Norwegian Nuclear Protection Authority, nuclear radiation levels are beginning to decline in the Arctic, years after Soviet nuclear weapons tests and the Chernobyl nuclear accident spewed their fallout over the region. However, the region, with its fragile ecosystems, remains at risk from aging nuclear weapons, submarines, power plants, and waste from the former Soviet Union.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases a report entitled X Marks the Spot, which contends that the U.S. is prolonging its radioactive waste problems and that Yucca Mountain is really just a disguised expansion of the nation’s nuclear industry. The report finds that since the 2002 Senate vote that approved the repository in Nevada, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has extended the operating contracts of 26 nuclear reactors around the country.

The Japanese Atomic Energy Commission issues a revised, long-term national nuclear energy policy. One of the most profound adjustments is the country’s move towards reprocessing spent fuel.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announces that it has temporarily closed public access to its online document library, its electronic hearing docket files, and to NRC staff documents related to NRC consideration of a high-level nuclear waste repository, pending a review to determine what potentially sensitive documents should be removed because they might be useful to terrorists.

By a more than a two-to-one margin, Washington state voters pass Initiative 297, which blocks the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) from sending more nuclear waste to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in the southern part of the state until current waste at the former nuclear weapons facility is fully cleaned up. The measure is scheduled to take effect in 30 days.

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) test-fires the first megawatt-class laser for the Airborne Laser (ABL) system. The test marks the first time a directed energy weapon suitable for use in an airborne environment has been demonstrated.

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) announces that the first phase of the national defense system is completed with the installation of the initial round of ballistic missile interceptors at Fort Greely, Alaska.

Unit 2 at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station unexpectedly goes offline. Officials quickly urge the public to limit electricity usage as Unit 3 at the Generating Station is also offline. Inspectors determine ground wires shorted out in the Unit 2 electrical generator causing the unexpected shutdown.

U.S. Congress cuts funding in the Fiscal Year 2006 budget for the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, a program to modify existing nuclear weapons for new bunker-busting missions and the Advanced Concepts Initiative, an open-ended program that involved research into low-yield nuclear weapons, including so-called "mini-nukes."

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Brazilian government reach an agreement on IAEA inspections. IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei explains that the agreement will allow the IAEA “to do credible inspections but at the same time take care of Brazil’s need to protect commercial sensitivity inside the facility.” Brazil insists on limiting IAEA inspections to protect sensitive technological and commercial interests. The IAEA demands sufficient access to all corners of the Resende plant.

The Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) announces that the project to build two nuclear power plants for North Korea will be suspended for a second year, beginning December 1. According to a KEDO statement, "The future of the project will be assessed and decided...before the expiration of the suspension period.” However, it adds, “The preservation and maintenance work both on site and off site will continue.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) gives South Korea a slap on the wrist for making small amounts of weapons-grade nuclear material and opts not to refer the country to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions. In a statement, the IAEA says "that the quantities of nuclear material have not been significant and that to date there is no indication that the undeclared experiments have continued.” The statement from the IAEA’s 35-nation board of governors echoes previous comments from Director General Mohamed ElBaradei, saying that "The failure of the ROK (Republic of Korea) to report these activities in accordance with its safeguards agreements is of serious concern." However, "the Board welcomed the corrective actions taken by the ROK and the active cooperation it has provided to the agency.”

France, Germany, and the United Kingdom (also called the EU-3) reach an agreement with Iran to suspend Iranian uranium enrichment activities. Hussein Moussavian, Secretary of the Foreign Department of Iran’s Supreme Council for National Security, says on Iranian state-run television, "We have reached a final agreement with the three European powers.” The Iranian government terms "appropriate" a draft IAEA resolution regarding its nuclear program. Government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh says the resolution does not satisfy all of Iran’s demands but is acceptable under the circumstances.

Iran agrees to stop all production and reprocessing of uranium and plutonium in a deal with the European Union.

The Pakistani military announces that it test-fired the “Ghaznavi” or Hatf-III, a short-range, surface-to-surface, nuclear-capable missile with a range of 180 miles (290 kilometers). The missile test was the fifth this year, and Pakistan notified neighboring countries, including India, ahead of time.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov says that the military successfully tested a modernized missile defense system, but he gives no details of the missile involved. According to news reports, Ivanov told Russian President Vladimir Putin that the defense ministry would also “further perfect and modernize the anti-ballistic missile system.”

India test-fires a short-range anti-aircraft missile, named Akash from the Chandipur-on-Sea testing site in the eastern state of Orissa. The 700-kilogram Akash can carry a 60-kilogram warhead, is designed to travel 27 kilometers and can strike several targets simultaneously. Akash is one of five missiles being developed by India’s state-run Defense Research and Development Organization.

The U.S. military announces that it has deployed new missile defense batteries as part of an $11 billion upgrade on the Korean peninsula. The Patriot missile systems are designed to intercept and destroy incoming ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and enemy aircraft.

A federal judge imposes a temporary stay of Washington State’s Initiative 297, which prevents the Department of Energy (DoE) from sending radioactive waste to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in the southern part of Washington state until current waste at the former nuclear weapons facility is fully cleaned up.

The operator of the Salem nuclear power plant announces that the plant would shut down beginning December 3, because the oil that spilled from a damaged tanker has spread dangerously close to its water intake valves. The closure, which is unusual for the second-largest nuclear power complex in the U.S., grew out of fears that booms set up to contain the oil would fail, as they have in other parts of the Delaware River.

A high level UN reform panel issues a report stating that the world system to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons is being rapidly eroded, threatening a “cascade of proliferation.” The report recommends the UN Security Council slow the spread of weapons using an explicit pledge of “collective action” against any state or group that launches a nuclear attack or even threatens such an attack on a non-nuclear-weapon state.

More than fifty public policy organizations call on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to halt plans to dramatically weaken requirements for cleaning up radioactive contamination from a terrorist radiological or nuclear explosive. The groups disclose that DHS is about to release new guidance that could permit ongoing contamination at levels equivalent to a person receiving tens of thousands of chest X-rays over thirty years. Official government risk figures estimate that as many as a quarter of the people exposed to such doses would develop cancer.

United States defense officials announce that China has launched the first submarine in a new class of nuclear subs designed to fire intercontinental ballistic missiles. According to one official, the submarine is, at a minimum, months away from having missiles installed and being deployed. The U.S. military views the move as evidence of China’s intentions to expand both its nuclear weapons and submarine forces.

Japan and the United States sign an agreement for cooperation on the development of a ballistic missile defense system. The deal to cooperate on research, development, deployment, and operations of missile defense comes one week after Japan eased the way by lifting a blanket ban on arms exports. Joint production will require Japan to export components to the U.S.

In the latest incident at the Temelin nuclear power plant in the Czech Republic, more than 5,000 gallons of radioactive water is found leaking from the reactor. Czech officials deny that the spill poses any environmental risk or that it endangers any worker's health.

Iranian Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi announces that Iran arrested ten people on charges of revealing its nuclear secrets to Israeli and U.S. intelligence agencies. Yunesi says the ten arrested were detained in Tehran and in the southern Hormozgan province.