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Experts Call on Nuclear Suppliers Group Not to Bend the Rules

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For Immediate Release: June 20, 2016

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107

(Washington, D.C.)—In a letter to the 48-member states of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a group of 18 leading nuclear nonproliferation experts expressed "deep concern and opposition to pending proposals that could grant India and Pakistan membership in the NSG on the basis of an exceptional political preference—rather than on the basis of a common, strong, and meaningful set of nonproliferation and disarmament benchmarks for NSG membership."

The Nuclear Suppliers Group is are expected to discuss the Indian and Pakistani bids for membership at its plenary meeting in Seoul during the week of June 20.

The experts warn: "It is our assessment that any further country-specific exemptions from NSG guidelines for trade and/or membership without compensating steps to strengthen nonproliferation and disarmament would increase nuclear dangers in South Asia, and weaken the NSG and the broader nuclear nonproliferation regime."

"New membership bids,” the experts write, "should be considered on the basis of whether states meet an agreed set of strong and meaningful nonproliferation and disarmament benchmarks.”

Signatories of the letter sent to the NSG participating governments include two former special representatives to the President of the United States on nonproliferation and the former U.S. negotiator for civil nuclear cooperation agreements.

"Neither India nor Pakistan meets the NSG’s membership criteria,” the letter continues, "nor does either country meet the same standards of behavior as current NSG members, nor is it clear that either state shares the NSG’s basic nonproliferation motivations, including the NSG’s efforts to stem the spread of sensitive nuclear fuel cycle technologies that could be used for nuclear weapons purposes."

Under the guidelines of the NSG, membership requires that a state is a member of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, among other considerations. In 2008, the United States pushed through an India-specific exemption from the NSG’s requirement that a state have full-scope international safeguards in order to be eligible for civilian nuclear trade.

“Unfortunately,” said Daryl G. Kimball of the Arms Control Association, "the United States has in the past month rejected consideration of proposals from some NSG participating governments for a criteria-based approach to membership. The Obama administration should adjust its irresponsible approach."

For the full list of endorsers and the text of the letter, see below.


Don’t Bend NSG Rules Without Steps to Strengthen Nonproliferation

June 8, 2016

Ambassador Rafael Mariano Grossi
Chair of the Nuclear Suppliers Group

Dear Ambassador:

We are writing to express our deep concern and opposition to pending proposals that could grant India and Pakistan membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) on the basis of an exceptional political preference — rather than on the basis of a common, strong, and meaningful set of nonproliferation and disarmament benchmarks for NSG membership.

It is our assessment that any further country-specific exemptions from NSG guidelines for trade and/or membership without compensating steps to strengthen nonproliferation and disarmament would increase nuclear dangers in South Asia, and weaken the NSG and the broader nuclear nonproliferation regime.

Neither India nor Pakistan meets the NSG’s membership criteria, nor does either country meet the same standards of behavior as current NSG members, nor is it clear that either state shares the NSG’s basic nonproliferation motivations, including the NSG’s efforts to stem the spread of sensitive nuclear fuel cycle technologies that could be used for nuclear weapons purposes.

Since the NSG granted an India-specific exemption for India from its longstanding full-scope safeguards standard for nuclear trade in September 2008, the Indian government has not met the nonproliferation commitments it pledged it would meet in return for the exemption: its civil-military nuclear separation plan is not credible; its IAEA Additional Protocol arrangement is far weaker than those of the nuclear-armed states; and the administrative arrangements negotiated by the United States and other nuclear suppliers for tracking India’s nuclear material are insufficient.

India and Pakistan have refused to accept critical disarmament responsibilities and practices expected of all other nuclear-armed states, including a legally-binding commitment not to conduct nuclear tests (such as signing the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty), halting fissile material production for weapons, and reducing nuclear and missile arsenals. Instead they are increasing their nuclear arsenals.

Thus, there is no basis to accept the argument offered by U.S. officials that Indian membership in the NSG would give India more of a stake in the nonproliferation regime.

Pakistan, which has a history of transferring sensitive nuclear fuel cycle technology and is expanding its own nuclear weaapons capabilities, has an even weaker case for NSG membership than India.

In our view, the best way to bolster the global nonproliferation and disarmament effort is to set strong standards for new membership that reaffirm the basic objectives and purposes behind the NSG and strengthen its role as a multilateral institution.

Sincerely,

Susan F. Burk
Former Special Representative of the President of the United States for Nuclear Nonproliferation (2009-2012)

Joseph Cirincione,
President, Ploughshares Fund

John D. Holum,
former U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security

Angela Kane,
Senior Fellow, Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation,
former High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, United Nations

Daryl G. Kimball,
Executive Director, Arms Control Association

Michael Krepon,
Co-Founder, Stimson Center

Edward P. Levine
Chairman of the Board, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation*

Jeffrey Lewis,
Middlebury Institute of International Studies*

Fred McGoldrick,
Consultant, and former Director of Nonproliferation and Export Policy,
U.S. Department of State

Robert K. Musil,
Chairman of the Board, Council for a Livable World*

Dr. Willam C. Potter,
Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar Professor of Nonproliferation Studies,
Middlebury Institute of International Studies*

Randy Rydell,
former Senior Political Affairs Officer in the Office of the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs

Henry Sokolski,
Executive Director of The Nonproliferation Policy Education Center,
and former Deputy for Nonproliferation Policy, Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense

Sharon Squassoni,
Director of the Proliferation Prevention Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies*

Frank N. von Hippel,
former Assistant Director for National Security, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Leonard Weiss,
Stanford University, and
former Staff Director, U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs and chief architect of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Act of 1978

Ambassador Norman A. Wulf,
Special Representative of the U.S. President for Nuclear Nonproliferation (1999-2002)

*Institution listed for identification purposes only.

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The Arms Control Association is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.

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In a letter to the 48-member states of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a group of 18 leading nuclear nonproliferation experts expressed...

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Obama’s India Nuclear Blind Spot

June 2016

By Daryl G. Kimball

Global efforts to prevent the spread of the world’s most deadly weapons depend on universal compliance with rules that constrain the transfer of nuclear technology and concrete action by nuclear-armed states to reduce, not expand, their weapons capabilities.

As President Barack Obama said in his landmark April 2009 speech in Prague “[I]n our determination to prevent the spread of these weapons, rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something. The world must stand together to prevent the spread of these weapons.”

But just a year later, Obama announced that the United States would support Indian membership in the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)—the nuclear technology control organization established in 1975 in response to India’s first nuclear weapons test blast, which used plutonium produced by a Canadian-supplied reactor using U.S.-origin heavy water. 

According to the official NSG website, India’s 1974 test explosion “demonstrated that peaceful nuclear technology transferred for peaceful purposes could be misused.”

After low-level consultations on the issue within the NSG since 2011, U.S. and Indian officials have recently launched a quiet but high-level campaign for their proposal ahead of key NSG meetings this month in Vienna and Seoul. 

Indian membership in the NSG on the basis of an exceptional political preference rather than a common set of nonproliferation and disarmament benchmarks would produce serious, long-term damage to strategic stability in South Asia, the NSG, and the broader nonproliferation regime.

Such a move would compound the damage caused by the 2008 NSG decision to make an India-specific exemption to its full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards requirement for nuclear trade that was pushed through by the George W. Bush administration.

NSG membership currently requires that the state is a member in good standing with the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). India remains one of only three countries, with Israel and Pakistan, never to have signed the NPT. 

Based on its record, India does not meet the same standards of behavior as current NSG members, nor is it clear it shares the NSG’s core nonproliferation goals, including preventing the spread of sensitive uranium-enrichment and plutonium reprocessing technologies. 

India refuses to accept critical disarmament responsibilities and practices expected of responsible nuclear states, including a legally binding commitment not to conduct nuclear tests, such as signing the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), halting fissile material production for weapons, and reducing, not building up, its nuclear and missile arsenals.

India has actively sought to weaken the nonproliferation commitments it was required to take to receive an NSG exemption in 2008. For example, its civil-military nuclear separation plan is substandard, and its IAEA additional protocol arrangement is weaker than those of the NPT nuclear-weapon states. Although India maintains a nuclear test moratorium, leaders in New Delhi have not taken any steps toward signing the CTBT, and they have not agreed to build international nuclear test-explosion monitoring stations on Indian territory.

The NSG’s 2008 India-specific exemption has given India access to international nuclear fuel markets, which has freed domestic supplies for bomb production. Pakistan has reacted by accelerating its own fissile material production capacity and deploying highly destabilizing tactical nuclear weapons.

In April, Obama said he would “like to see progress with respect to Pakistan and India to make sure…they are not continually moving in the wrong direction.”

Another India-specific NSG exemption would undoubtedly move Pakistan in the wrong direction, hardening its resolve to keep pace with India’s ongoing nuclear weapons buildup. It would likely worsen China’s own NSG-noncompliant nuclear trade with Pakistan and make it more difficult to gain other states’ adherence to NSG trade control guidelines. Indian membership in the NSG would also reinforce the perception among NPT member states that the rules just do not apply to nuclear-armed states. 

China, which insists on further dialogue on the matter and notes that NPT membership should remain the standard for NSG membership, may block India’s admittance to the group. Nonproliferation stalwarts, including Austria, Ireland, and New Zealand, may stand firm too. But that could change if the Obama team employs the strong-arm tactics used by the Bush administration against some NSG members to push through the 2008 exemption from key NSG trade guidelines. 

Ironically, Indian membership in the NSG would empower New Delhi to block future efforts by participating governments to ensure that India respects the nonproliferation commitments that it made in order to win the NSG’s support for that 2008 decision. 

If states in the NSG are to be asked to support the objective of Indian membership, it should only be as part of a broader strategy to strengthen the global nuclear order. Anything less represents an irresponsible disregard for long-standing nonproliferation principles.

Global efforts to prevent the spread of the world’s most deadly weapons depend on universal compliance with rules that constrain the transfer of nuclear technology...

Nuclear Suppliers Consider Indian Bid

June 2016

By Daryl G. Kimball

Ahead of this month’s meeting of the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in Seoul, U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have launched a high-level push to secure consensus for India’s membership in the body over the objections of several member states, including China.

Obama first expressed support for Indian membership in the NSG in a November 2010 joint statement with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Since then, the NSG has discussed whether and how to revise its membership criteria with the view toward determining whether India meets the revised criteria.

Within the past year, Modi and other Indian officials have met with the leaders of NSG member states, including Ireland and New Zealand, that originally opposed an India-specific exemption to NSG nuclear trade rules in order to make the case for India’s membership bid. 

India would be the first member of the NSG that is not a party to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). A key criterion for membership in the group is that the country is a party to and complying with the NPT or a nuclear-weapon-free-zone treaty. The NSG was established in 1975 in response to India’s 1974 nuclear weapon test, which was fueled with plutonium produced by a Canadian-supplied reactor in violation of peaceful nuclear use assurances.

In September 2008, following a high-level diplomatic push by the George W. Bush administration, the NSG agreed to make an India-specific exemption to its requirement that recipient states must subject all their nuclear facilities to international inspections in order to prevent the diversion of peaceful nuclear material or technology for weapons purposes. The NSG waiver for India was granted in return for several Indian nonproliferation “commitments and actions,” including maintaining its nuclear test moratorium, supporting negotiations to halt fissile material production for weapons, and developing a plan to separate its civilian and nuclear sectors. (See ACT, October 2008.

Obama administration officials have argued that Indian membership in the NSG would give India more of a stake in the nonproliferation regime. But critics, including Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), who spoke out against the proposal during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on May 24, counter that India still does not meet the NSG’s membership criteria and that the administration is not pressing for further nonproliferation commitments from New Delhi in return for the benefits of NSG membership. 

On May 13, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokes-person Lu Kang made public Beijing’s view that “NPT membership” is a necessary qualification for membership. 

“Not only India, but also many other non-NPT members have voiced their aspirations to join the NSG. Many NSG members, China included, think that this matter shall be fully discussed and then decided based on consensus among all NSG members in accordance with the rules of procedure of the NSG,” Kang said. 

In response to the Indian bid for NSG membership, Pakistan’s foreign secretary, Aizaz Chaudhry, told a senior U.S. official on May 17 that his country has the “credentials” to join the NSG. On May 20, Pakistan’s ambassador in Vienna sent a letter to the chair of the NSG to formally apply for NSG membership.

If the NSG cannot reach consensus at its June meeting, sources suggest the matter may be taken up at a follow-on meeting in September.

Ahead of this month’s meeting of the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in Seoul, U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have launched...

On Nuclear Security, U.S. Must Put Its Money Where Its Mouth Is

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Volume 8, Issue 1, April 15, 2016

The Nuclear Security Summit process and associated U.S. nuclear threat reduction programs have played a vital role in reducing the risk of a nuclear or radiological attack by terrorists. But the threat is constantly changing and may have grown in recent years in light of the rise of the Islamic State group and indications it may have nuclear and/or radiological ambitions.

Despite noteworthy achievements, however, significant work remains to be done to prevent terrorists from detonating a nuclear explosive device or dirty bomb. For example, even after four Nuclear Security Summits there are no comprehensive, legally-binding international standards or rules for the security of all nuclear materials. The existing global nuclear security architecture needs to continue to evolve to become more comprehensive, open, rigorous, sustainable, and involve the further reduction of material stockpiles.

It is thus puzzling that just weeks before the final summit in Washington earlier this month, the Obama administration submitted to Congress a budget that proposed significant spending reductions for key National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) programs that lessen nuclear security and nonproliferation risks, accelerating a trend in recent years of short-sighted cuts to these programs. If implemented, these decreases will slow progress on key nuclear security initiatives, jeopardize the sustainability of those initiatives, and undermine U.S. leadership in this area.

As the Senate and House of Representatives begin their work on the fiscal year 2017 defense authorization and energy and water appropriations bills—which establish spending levels and set policy for Defense Department and NNSA activities—lawmakers should reverse these ill-advised budget cuts. Additionally, Congress should encourage the NNSA to augment its nuclear and radiological security work to help ensure the end of the summit process does not weaken progress toward continuously improving global nuclear and radiological material security.

Disappointing Budget Request

If the risk of nuclear or radiological terrorism isn’t on your mind, it should be. The recent Islamic State group-perpetrated terrorist attacks in Brussels offered another bloody reminder of the danger of terrorism. To make matters worse, reports indicate that two of the suicide bombers who perpetrated the attack had also carried out surveillance of a Belgian official with access to a facility with weapons-grade uranium and radioactive material.

A new report published on March 21 by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs concludes that the risk of nuclear terrorism may be higher than it was at the time of the third Nuclear Security Summit in 2014 due to the slowing of nuclear security progress and the rise of the Islamic State group.

Against this concerning backdrop, the NNSA, a semiautonomous agency of the Energy Department responsible for the bulk of U.S. nuclear security work, in February requested $1.47 billion for core nuclear security, nonproliferation, and counterterrorism programs in fiscal year 2017—a reduction of $62.4 million, or 3.8 percent, relative to the current fiscal year 2016 level. (Note: these figures exclude the administration’s request of $270 million to terminate the Mixed Oxide (MOX) fuel program for excess U.S. weapons plutonium disposition.)

The drop is even steeper when measured against what the NNSA projected it would request for these programs in its fiscal year 2016 submission, which was issued in February 2015. The agency had said it planned to ask for $1.65 billion in fiscal year 2017, or roughly $185 million more than the actual proposal.

The largest proposed reduction in the request is to the Global Material Security program, which improves the security of nuclear materials around the world, secures orphaned or disused radiological sources—which could be used to make a dirty bomb—and strengthens nuclear smuggling detection and deterrence. Within this program, the NNSA is seeking $7.6 million less than last year’s appropriation for radiological material security programs and roughly $270 million less for these activities over the next four years than it planned to request over the same period, last year.

Most experts agree that the probability of a terrorist exploding a dirty bomb is much higher than that of a nuclear device. This is due in large part to the ubiquitous presence of these materials, which are used for peaceful applications like cancer treatment, in thousands of locations and in almost every country around the world, many of which are poorly protected and vulnerable to theft. A new report published last month by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) noted that only 14% of International Atomic Energy Agency member states have agreed to secure their highest risk radiological sources by a specific date.

Along with reducing the budget for radiological security, the NNSA is planning to transition from a primarily protect-based approach for radiological materials to one that emphasizes permanent threat reduction through the removal of sources and the promotion of alternative technologies, when feasible. While it makes sense to seek to replace these sources as opposed to securing them in perpetuity, this revised approach raises numerous questions, including whether some sources will remain vulnerable for longer than under the previous strategy. At the current planned pace, it would take another 17 years to meet the NNSA’s much-reduced target of helping to secure just under 4,400 buildings around the world with dangerous radioactive material—down from a target of roughly twice that just last year.

Elsewhere in the NNSA nonproliferation budget, funding for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Research and Development activities would fall to $394 million from its $419 million fiscal year 2016 appropriation. This program matures technologies used in tracking foreign nuclear weapons programs, illicit diversion of nuclear materials, and nuclear detonations. The NNSA projected a request of $430 million in fiscal year 2017 research and development funding in its fiscal year 2016 request.

The NNSA has defended some of the reductions to the nonproliferation account on the grounds that several major projects have been completed, thereby lessening resource needs, and that the impact of spending cuts can be mitigated by using unspent money left over from prior years, largely due to the suspension in late 2014 of nearly all nuclear security cooperation with Russia. But the cuts proposed for fiscal year 2017, relative to what was projected last year, are significant, especially to the radiological security and research and development programs where the NNSA does not say they will use unspent balances.

An Energy Department task force report on NNSA nonproliferation programs released last year expressed concern about the recent trend of falling budgets for those programs (see chart). “The need to counter current and likely future challenges to nonproliferation justifies increased, rather than reduced, investment in this area,” the report said.

Similarly, Andrew Bieniawski, a former deputy assistant secretary of Energy who ran the NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative during both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations and who is now a vice president at NTI, said last month that the agency’s recent budget requests “do not match the growing threat and they certainly don’t match the fact that you are having a presidential nuclear security summit.”

Many members of Congress agree with these concerns. In August 2014, 26 senators sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget seeking increased funding for NNSA nuclear nonproliferation programs for fiscal year 2016. Though the 2016 request was higher than the previous year’s enacted level, it did not meet the Senators’ desire “to further accelerate the pace at which nuclear and radiological materials are secured and permanently disposed.”

Reinvigorating Congressional Leadership

The global effort to prevent nuclear terrorism is at a key inflection point. While the United States can’t tackle the challenge on its own, U.S. leadership and resources are essential. The Obama administration’s fiscal year 2017 budget request was a missed opportunity to advance many good ideas in this space that haven't received adequate attention and investment.

Congress has a critical role to play in this endeavor, and there are a number of steps it can take this year to sustain and strengthen U.S. and global nuclear and radiological security efforts.

First, Congress should increase fiscal year 2017 funding for NNSA radiological security and nonproliferation research and development efforts, the two programs hardest hit by the agency’s proposed budget cuts. Additional funding would allow an acceleration of efforts to secure dangerous radiological materials and ensure the United States is prepared to confront emerging security and nonproliferation challenges.

Congress should also call for a global strategy, stronger regulations, and increased funding to secure and eliminate the most vulnerable highest-risk radiological sources around the world during the first term of the next administration. This multidimensional effort should entail a number of elements, including: securing the most vulnerable sources (where needed); requiring the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to implement stronger regulatory requirements; supporting universal adherence to the IAEA Code of Conduct on radiological sources; mandating additional cost-sharing by industry; and, where appropriate, accelerating the development and use of alternative technologies. An accelerated international radiological security effort would be consistent with a proposal from Sen. Carper (D-Del.) requiring the administration to craft a plan for securing all high-risk low-level radiological material in the United States.

In addition, Congress should require NNSA to report on its research and development activities and identify opportunities to expand them in areas such as:

  • developing alternatives to high performance research reactors that run on highly enriched uranium (HEU);
  • converting HEU-powered naval reactors to use low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel (the White House announced on March 31 that the Energy Department is forming a research and development plan for an advanced fuel system that could enable use of LEU in naval reactors); and
  • examining ways adversaries could potentially use 3D printing and other new technologies to make nuclear-weapons usable components.

Other ideas that have been put forth to augment NNSA’s (and the rest of the interagency) nuclear security and nonproliferation work worthy of Congressional backing include:

  • completing a prioritization of nuclear materials at foreign locations for return or disposition, to identify the most vulnerable material stocks to focus efforts on, and establishing a time frame for doing so;
  • developing new detection and monitoring technologies and approaches to verify future nuclear arms reductions;
  • outlining a plan for how to expand U.S. nuclear security cooperation with China, India, and Pakistan and addressing obstacles to such an expansion and how they could be overcome;
  • developing approaches to rebuild nuclear security cooperation with Russia that would put both countries in equal roles;
  • building a global nuclear materials security system of effective nuclear security norms, standards, and best practices worldwide;
  • enhancing protections against nuclear sabotage; and
  • strengthening—and sharing—intelligence on nuclear and radiological terrorism threats.

In addition, Congress should seek ways to dissuade other states from pursuing programs to reprocess fuel from nuclear power plants, which lead to the separation of plutonium.

While the Nuclear Security Summit process has seen significant progress in the minimization of highly enriched uranium (HEU) for civilian purposes, global civilian plutonium stockpiles continue to grow. East Asia in particular is on the verge of a major build up of separated plutonium, which could be used in nuclear weapons and poses significant security risks. Japan and China both have plans to reprocess on a large-scale, and doing so would almost certainly prompt South Korea to follow suit.

To its credit, the Obama administration has recently been more vocal in expressing its concerns about these plans. Congress should encourage the administration, and NNSA in particular, to engage in additional cooperative work with countries in East Asia on spent fuel storage options and the elimination of excess plutonium stockpiles without reprocessing.

Over the years, U.S. support for nuclear security programs at home and abroad has resulted in an enormously effective return on investment that greatly strengthens U.S. security, and will be even more important in the years ahead in absence of head of state level summit meetings.

Indeed, there is a long legacy of members of Congress from both parties working together to reduce nuclear risks. For example, in 1991, Senators Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) put forward the “Soviet Nuclear Threat Reduction Act of 1991,” which authorized $400 million to create U.S.-led programs assist the countries of the former Soviet Union secure and eliminate nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, and other weapons. This effort became known as the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program, which has successfully liquidated thousands of Cold War-era Soviet weapons.

Twenty-five years later, the evolution of security and proliferation challenges requires similarly bold and innovative Congressional leadership.

—KINGSTON REIF, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy

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The Arms Control Association is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the dangers posed by the world's most dangerous weapons. 

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The Nuclear Security Summit process and associated U.S. nuclear threat reduction programs have played a vital role in reducing the risk of a nuclear or radiological attack by terrorists.

India’s Submarine Completes Tests

April 2016

By Kelsey Davenport

India’s ballistic missile submarine completed its sea trials in late February and is ready to be commissioned, an Indian official said last month.

In an interview with Arms Control Today, the official confirmed reports that the submarine, the INS Arihant, had successfully completed deep-sea and weapons drills, which were the last remaining tests.

The official did not elaborate on what was included in the Arihant tests, but generally these tests could include testing the submarine’s equipment and systems at maximum depths and its ability to surface quickly. In the March 19 interview, he said that the commissioning could take place within the next month.

The official said that India’s navy will operate the submarine but it will be under the control of the Nuclear Command Authority.

India’s nuclear weapons are under civilian control, with the prime minister acting as chair of the authority, which is responsible for all operational and command decisions regarding India’s nuclear warheads.

India is estimated to have between 110 and 120 nuclear warheads, with enough fissile material for up to an additional 60 weapons. India is believed to keep its nuclear warheads stored separately from its delivery systems. That will not be possible for deployed submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).

India, whose submarine program dates back to 1984, started work on the Arihant in 2009. The submarine’s nuclear reactor went critical in August 2013, and the submarine began its sea trials in December 2014. (See ACT, November 2015.)

The Arihant-class submarine is designed to carry 12 K-15 SLBMs or four K-4 ballistic missiles.

The K-15 is a two-stage ballistic missile that can carry a nuclear warhead an estimated 700 kilometers. India announced the “successful development” of the K-15 in July 2012. (See ACT, September 2012.)

The K-4 is an intermediate-range ballistic missile that can carry a nuclear payload 3,000 to 3,500 kilometers. That range puts Pakistan and most of China within range if India launches the K-4 from the northern Indian Ocean.

The K-4 is believed to require additional testing before it is ready for deployment.

The New Indian Express reported that India conducted a test of the K-4 on March 7. According to the story, the missile was launched from an undersea platform in the Bay of Bengal.

Commissioning of the Arihant will complete India’s nuclear triad, meaning that the country will be able to deliver nuclear warheads from bombers, land-based ballistic missiles, and submarines.

India is working on extending the range and increasing the accuracy of its land-based ballistic missiles.

On March 5, India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said it would test its Agni-5 ballistic missile from a canister around March 15. As Arms Control Today went to press, the launch had not taken place.

The Agni-5 is a three-stage, solid-fueled ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear payload over a distance of more than 5,500 kilometers, the threshold for an intercontinental ballistic missile. It is the longest-range missile under development in India.

Launching from a canister makes the missile more mobile. India successfully tested the Agni-5 from a canister in January 2015. (See ACT, March 2015.) At the time of that test, officials said that the missile was close to deployment. Officials subsequently hinted that future tests might include multiple warheads that could be independently targeted. The Agni-5 was first tested in April 2012.

India’s ballistic missile submarine successfully completed sea trials in February, putting India on the verge of having a nuclear triad. 

Burying the Hatchet: The Case for a ‘Normal’ Nuclear South Asia

March 2016

By Feroz Hassan Khan 

06_Khan.jpgThe global nonproliferation regime faces a major challenge in South Asia. India and Pakistan, two nuclear-armed states locked in an intense and enduring rivalry, are investing heavily in their respective nuclear arsenals and deploying new delivery systems at an alarming rate.

At the same time, both countries are seeking entry into the club of responsible stewards of nuclear capability. Yet, the international community has been unwilling to find a pathway to confer de jure nuclear-weapon-state status on Islamabad and New Delhi, leaving the door to nuclear normalization shut.

The arms race gripping India and Pakistan is part and parcel of what some scholars describe as the second nuclear age.1 This new age is significantly different from the Cold War era referred to as the first nuclear age. It is characterized by geographically linked nuclear-armed states that are involved in varying levels of ideological rivalries and unresolved disputes, which have been exploited by violent religious extremists.2 In its current shape, the global nonproliferation regime is ill equipped to tackle the complexities of this second age wherein three regions—the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia—are subject to potential instability and home to nuclear-armed states that are in defiance of the nonproliferation regime. This article focuses on South Asia, where the potential for a sudden Indian-Pakistani military crisis is profound, conventional and nuclear force postures are evolving rapidly, and a sense of discrimination persists regarding the nuclear world order. In part, these factors are exacerbating the Indian-Pakistani rivalry and driving further noncooperation with the global nonproliferation regime.

For 40 years, Islamabad and New Delhi have refused to join the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and continued to build their arsenals while the international community has exhausted its diplomatic efforts and tools, including sanctions, to reverse, contain, or dampen the Indian-Pakistani arms race. This continued friction has had negative consequences for international security. It is high time for the international community to bury the hatchet by finding a pathway to bring South Asia into the global nuclear order. Doing so would temper the Indian-Pakistani arms race by creating powerful incentives for Islamabad and New Delhi to conform to the behavioral norms and legal obligations expected of nuclear powers.

This article begins by examining the global nonproliferation regime from a South Asian perspective and explains why bringing India and Pakistan into the nuclear mainstream is important. The article then evaluates three different pathways for Indian and Pakistani entry into the global nonproliferation regime: (1) developing political and technical criteria for membership into the regime; (2) engaging in bilateral negotiations with each of the two states on separate, independent tracks; and (3) partaking in multilateral negotiations and forums to reach an arrangement on strategic restraint. The end goal for these pathways, which are not mutually exclusive, is to allow the two countries to enter into export control regimes such as the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Membership in global export control regimes will encourage Islamabad and New Delhi to negotiate bilateral steps toward nuclear stability, safety, and security as promised in the 1999 Lahore Declaration and avail themselves of opportunities for arms control agreements in a region in dire need of nuclear stability.3

A Regional Perspective

The NPT, which entered into force in 1970, offered a grand bargain to countries willing to eschew nuclear weapons acquisition by promising them access to verifiably peaceful nuclear technology and a “good faith” pledge from the nuclear-weapon states (China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States) to reduce if not eliminate their nuclear weapons stockpiles.4 India, Pakistan, and Israel—now de facto nuclear-armed states—did not accept the treaty and are generally described as outliers from an NPT standpoint. India, for its part, decried the treaty as a form of nuclear apartheid wherein the currency of power was the preserve of the five privileged countries that wielded their veto power in the UN Security Council to jealously guard their nuclear monopoly. Proponents of this view painted the nuclear issue in populist terms—a dispute between nuclear haves and have-nots. Moreover, India aspired to be treated as a global power, as it still does. It desires to be in the elite club of haves on par with China and loathes being lumped with Pakistan as a nuclear outlier.

Meanwhile, India and Pakistan saw export control regimes—the NSG, the MTCR, the Australia Group on chemical and biological weapons, and the Wassenaar Arrangement on conventional weapons and dual-use goods and technologies—as Western cartels aimed at denying technology to the Communist bloc and developing world alike, which deepened their perception of the NPT as a form of nuclear apartheid.

07_Khan.jpgIslamabad took particular umbrage at the NSG. Formed in the mid-1970s in response to India’s 1974 test of a nuclear device, the NSG had an immediate impact on Pakistan’s nascent nuclear program, which became a test case for the control regime’s effectiveness and heightened Islamabad’s sense of nuclear discrimination. In addition, the establishment of the NSG prompted a cat-and-mouse game between Pakistani procurement efforts and NSG efforts to block them, a dynamic that contributed to the genesis of the Abdul Qadeer Khan proliferation network.

India and Pakistan resisted the nonproliferation regime for economic reasons and out of principle, but national security imperatives also played a deterministic role. India’s security rationale for developing a nuclear weapons program stemmed from perceived threats from China, and these perceptions continue to drive India’s arms buildup to this day. Yet, India’s moves to modernize its nuclear forces with new delivery systems and ballistic missile defenses to balance against China raise red flags in Pakistan. In this context, the logic behind Islamabad’s decision to develop nuclear weapons is clear. Its program is primarily intended to offset its disparity with India in conventional forces and to prevent nuclear coercion. Islamabad’s current deterrence posture comprises compact-design warheads, short-range battlefield weapons, and medium-range ballistic and cruise missiles. Additionally, both countries have announced plans to introduce sea-based nuclear weapons sometime soon.5

In sum, India seeks to match China at the global level, and Pakistan seeks to match India at the regional level. This has transformed security dynamics in Asia into a security “trilemma,” in which arrangements to apply strategic restraint are becoming problematic.6 In any event, the intertwined arms race in South Asia warrants a more inclusive nonproliferation regime that encourages India and Pakistan to conform to prevailing nuclear norms rather than challenge them, as both states did in the last century.

Confronting a bilateral relationship characterized by a heavily militarized border, major territorial disputes, cross-border terrorist activity, and rapid advancements in nuclear arsenals and delivery systems, the international community should make every effort to discourage arms racing. Nuclear normalization is one path that could temper the security competition between India and Pakistan. Dogmatically rigid adherence to the antiquated nonproliferation regime of five—and only five—nuclear-weapon states simply confines India and Pakistan to a perpetual “outlaw” status that opens the door to unchecked arsenal buildups. The time has come for the regime to break with the status quo in favor of a new approach characterized by flexibility and accommodation for responsible nuclear outlier states. 

Criteria-Based Model

08_Khan.jpgSeveral experts have argued for a criteria-based model for legitimizing nuclear outlier states and bringing them into the nonproliferation regime.7 The premise of a criteria-based approach is that it is inherently nondiscriminatory and thereby allows all non-NPT states a way to undertake the obligations that other members of the treaty have assumed. Such an approach would proscribe making special exceptions for commercial interests and engaging in the politics of alliances and balancing—criticisms that Pakistan frequently levies against the U.S.-Indian nuclear deal.

Another argument for a criteria-based model derives from the combined threat of global terrorism and fear of nuclear accidents such as the March 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. These concerns have diminished the promise of a nuclear energy renaissance and placed greater emphasis on nuclear safety and security. Bringing nuclear outlier states into the nonproliferation regime would allow them to undertake more-robust safety and security measures, pursue closer relationships with nuclear regulatory authorities, and receive better technical assistance from the West.

Attainment of these objectives requires normalization of nuclear relations with India and Pakistan as a first step. Arguably, the nuclear deal with India confers legitimacy on India’s nuclear program, but it is based on exception. India is not legally obligated to undertake the steps NPT nuclear-weapon states are required to take, such as disarmament, but the nuclear deal is nevertheless an incentive for India to conform to nuclear norms. Pakistan, in contrast, has neither nuclear legitimacy nor any nuclear deal that could entice it to follow these norms. Nuclear normalization would simply mean that each country would be treated as “normal nuclear country” if it met certain criteria.8 The two countries could be mainstreamed into the nuclear world order by making them members of the NSG and other export control regimes.9

At the time the U.S. nuclear deal with India was contemplated, there existed no established criteria for nuclear normalization. In making its argument for the lifting of international sanctions, India cited its democratic governance; its good proliferation track record, at least compared to Pakistan, whose reputation was tarnished by the A.Q. Khan scandal; and the promise of nuclear purchases from the international market. For New Delhi, a nuclear deal also was seen as a tool for bolstering India’s case for eventual membership in the NSG.

Pakistan watched the negotiation of the U.S.-Indian deal from the sidelines; it was unable to influence the outcome that led to India’s NSG exemption. Under U.S. pressure, Islamabad lifted its objections at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors meetings to India’s nuclear cooperation agreement with the United States as the agreement went through the board’s approval process in 2008.10 Furthermore, as the years went by and especially after the advent of the Obama administration in 2009, Islamabad realized that, despite private assurances from the Bush administration to the contrary, the prospects for a U.S.-Pakistani nuclear deal were dim. Islamabad then broke its silence, began protesting the discriminatory nature of the U.S.-Indian deal, and vocally expressed its view that the exceptional nuclear deal with India would have a deleterious impact on Pakistani national security. Moreover, Islamabad blocked the commencement of negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT), arguing that the treaty would freeze Pakistan’s nuclear stockpiles at a disadvantage relative to India. The next major development came in 2011, when Pakistan tested the Nasr, a nuclear-capable ballistic missile with a range of 60 kilometers. U.S.-Pakistani nuclear relations dipped to an all-time low.11

Today, Islamabad seeks a criteria-based approach in hopes of legitimizing its nuclear program. Because the prospects for a formal U.S.-Pakistani civilian nuclear deal remain uncertain, Islamabad seeks membership in the NSG primarily to gain legitimacy as a responsible nuclear power and wipe out the legacy of the A.Q. Khan network. Also, Islamabad would prefer to engage in nuclear commerce under the NSG framework rather than outside it. Experts have argued, however, that Islamabad lacks the money to engage in nuclear commerce and that vendors from other countries would be reluctant to invest in Pakistan given its internal security problems. Despite Pakistan’s claim of operating a robust nuclear security system, Western states remain skeptical, surmising that mounting extremism and a deteriorating domestic security environment increase the risk of sabotage.12 Yet, this has not deterred Beijing. China has provided Pakistan with civilian nuclear assistance although Pakistan, like India, is not a party to the NPT and therefore, under NSG export guidelines, would not normally be eligible to receive such assistance. China has argued that such assistance is permitted because the U.S.-Indian nuclear deal set a precedent and because Chinese-Pakistani nuclear cooperation predated China’s membership in the NSG and therefore is “grandfathered.”13

 In light of these considerations, various scholars have suggested several admission criteria to the NSG and other export control groups. The criteria fall into two categories: eligibility criteria and political acceptability for the members of the NSG and other control groups. The eligibility criteria include meeting the various bureaucratic requirements for membership into export control groups as mentioned above. For non-NPT states such as India and Pakistan, entry into the NSG, for example, would require undertaking several steps in addition to those already known for eligibility into export control regimes.14 Pierre Goldschmidt, a former head of the Department of Safeguards at the IAEA, has suggested 14 steps for non-NPT members to become full members of the NSG. In brief, these criteria would require non-NPT members to pledge those undertakings that the five NPT nuclear-weapon states have taken: placing all nonmilitary nuclear facilities under full-scope safeguards, agreeing to ratify an additional protocol to their safeguards agreements, and adhering to all the NSG decisions.15

India and Pakistan could meet most of the eligibility requirements, but may find it difficult to agree to all of the expected concessions due to the salience of nuclear weapons in their respective national security policies and the domestic political unpalatability of compromising too much of what each state might think is its “minimum credible deterrence” requirements. For example, the two states may still resist signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) or ceasing production of fissile material for weapons. Furthermore, meeting the eligibility requirements alone is insufficient to attain membership in the club. Accession will require political negotiations with major powers and states that are members of the export control regimes, as each member state may have individual concerns that may preclude consensus even if India and Pakistan fulfill all the eligibility requirements. To gain international support for their formal entry into the NSG, the two countries would certainly be required to make concessions and accept restraints on their nuclear weapons programs.

 India will likely encounter fewer political hurdles because it has already passed the test once. Furthermore, India has defense and economic ties with major NSG member countries. Pakistan, in contrast, has a steep hill to climb in order to garner international support. Additionally, given Pakistan’s proliferation record and its internal instability, the West would likely seek greater concessions and restraints than it required of India, which Islamabad may find difficult to accept. Although Pakistan demands equitable treatment, most states see India in a different league as a major power and Pakistan as a regional albeit strategically important country.

On balance, India has the edge over Pakistan with respect to criteria-based NSG membership. This would be nightmarish for Pakistan because Islamabad calculates and New Delhi realizes that once India becomes a member of the NSG, the door for Pakistani entry might well be permanently shut because India could block consensus on admitting Pakistan. Sidelining Pakistan from the NSG in such a way would serve only to undermine regional stability.16 It would deepen Islamabad’s sense of indignity and strengthen the position of domestic stakeholders seeking to diversify and expand Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. Accordingly, as much as a criteria-based approach makes sense from the standpoint of fairness and equality, developing political consensus for normalizing nuclear relations with India and Pakistan would require bilateral or multilateral negotiations. 

Separate, Bilateral Tracks

Another model for normalization is for the United States to engage in bilateral negotiations with Islamabad and New Delhi on separate tracks. The goal would be to extract commitments on arms control and strategic restraint from both capitals. In return, the United States would pledge full support for Indian and Pakistani membership in the NSG and other export control regimes. Although this would be a painful and uncertain process, the United States has demonstrated, in the case of India, that a bilateral nuclear deal can be struck with an outlier state through sustained diplomacy, patience, and political will.

Admittedly, the U.S. experience of negotiating with Islamabad and New Delhi on separate tracks to achieve the same outcome has not proven successful in the past. Following the 1998 Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests, President Bill Clinton assigned Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott to lead separate negotiations with the two countries, which then were under sanctions. The goal was to get the sanctions removed and bring relations back to normalcy. Predictably, the negotiations stalled, as neither of the two South Asian countries knew what the other had conceded or negotiated.

09_Khan.jpgDespite the false start during the Clinton years, prospects for successful bilateral negotiations today are improved, as the geopolitical environment has evolved over the past 15-plus years. Washington’s relations with New Delhi have warmed steadily, and both capitals speak of a budding U.S.-Indian “strategic partnership.”

Although the U.S.-Pakistani relationship has been turbulent in recent years, especially since 2011, it currently is on a positive trajectory, albeit with a degree of underlying suspicion and distrust.17 Since 2012, the United States has been engaged in several levels of strategic dialogue with Islamabad, including discussions on charting a path to nuclear normalization. In the fall of 2015, various U.S. media outlets reported that the Obama administration was contemplating a nuclear deal with Pakistan.18 The Indian and Pakistani prime ministers also were scheduled for official visits to the United States in this time frame. Islamabad and New Delhi reacted strongly to these press reports. The ensuing uproar over a supposed U.S.-Pakistani deal forced the Obama administration to clarify that no such agreement was on the table for Islamabad.

It also is likely that negative reactions from both capitals were influenced by the publication of two think tank reports in 2014-2015 proposing road maps to Pakistani normalization.19 New Delhi’s reaction was predictable. A nuclear deal for Pakistan would pull Islamabad out of the hole in which it found itself after the A.Q. Khan episode. Such a renewal of relations would run counter to India’s policy of diplomatically isolating Pakistan.

Islamabad’s reaction to the reports was surprisingly frosty. For years, Pakistan has sought equal treatment and a nuclear deal analogous to India’s. Yet, when these reports emerged, public reaction in Islamabad was not focused on the “normalization” content but on the perception that the government was being forced to concede too much on its nuclear program. Pakistan’s skeptical reaction, however, should not come as a total surprise. U.S.-Pakistani nuclear relations soured in the mid-1970s over Pakistan’s quest for nuclear weapons and have never recovered. Although bilateral ties have ebbed and flowed since then, nuclear issues have remained a persistent irritant in the relationship.20

There were several variations of this negative reaction in Pakistan. One school of thought was based on the belief that the United States is bent on Pakistani disarmament, by force if necessary, and is applying pressure to that end. This theory has existed in Pakistan for some time, but gained traction following the 2011 U.S. commando raid in Abbottabad that killed Osama bin Laden. Pakistani media often portray this theory as if it were official U.S. policy.

The second, less widely held shade of opinion was that the United States had adopted an approach reminiscent of the “cap and roll back” policy of the early 1990s. At that time, Islamabad was under nuclear sanctions under U.S. nonproliferation laws. For some years, the United States sought to cap Pakistan’s production of highly enriched uranium and then roll back the country’s capacity to produce more. In other words, sanctions were being employed as leverage to persuade Pakistan to compromise on its nuclear program. Islamabad, however, was unwilling to comply after having paid the price of nuclear defiance, which included economic sanctions, denial of a modern military capability, and diplomatic opprobrium. The U.S. policy turned out to be counterproductive. Rather than reversing its nuclear program, Pakistan stepped up production of fissile material and diversified its delivery vehicles by acquiring missiles and missile technology. Although the U.S. policy ultimately failed to dissuade Islamabad, the psychological impact of that period continues to linger in some quarters in Pakistan.

The third shade of reaction was that the United States was pressuring Islamabad to weaken its deterrence posture against India. This school of thought champions Pakistani defiance against any concessions on nuclear matters and is deeply rooted in Pakistani society.

One example of this attitude came during Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Washington in October 2015. To dispel rumors of any nuclear concessions, Pakistani Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry issued a press statement justifying the rationale of Pakistani tactical nuclear weapons. This was an effort to preempt any rumor of or speculation about Pakistani concessions on its nuclear arsenal or force posture during Sharif’s visit.21

In all three cases, the voices of conspiracy were so loud that they drowned out and distracted from the central message of mainstreaming Pakistan’s nuclear program. In any event, Islamabad was seemingly ill prepared for negotiation toward normalization. It probably felt pressured from official discussions, publications, and media reports all coming together around the same time. On the basis of these, Islamabad apparently concluded that the terms of any nuclear deal with Washington would require Pakistan to compromise what it considers its vital security interests and would not be palatable domestically. Regional security experts in the United States are well aware that preserving a minimum credible nuclear deterrent posture is of utmost priority to Pakistan’s national security policymakers. Perhaps the fundamental stumbling block for any U.S.-Pakistani nuclear negotiation is that the two countries have different interpretations of what “minimum” and “credible” mean. For example, Islamabad contends that its newly minted tactical nuclear weapons are a necessary and reasonable deterrent against India’s limited-war doctrine known as Cold Start. Meanwhile, U.S. commentators have expressed concerns over the command-and-control, deterrence stability, and escalation control challenges posed by these weapons.22

Multilateral Negotiations

The third approach toward normalization is to engage in multilateral negotiations with India and Pakistan. Multiparty negotiations have seen recent success in the case of the Iran nuclear deal, but in the Indian-Pakistani case, the focus of the talks would be normalization rather than disarmament.

There are several advantages to a multilateral approach. First, it would involve all stakeholders and influential members of the international community, as was the case with the Iran deal. Second, it would not involve opaque, separate-track dialogues such as those during the Talbott negotiations that followed the 1998 tests. Third, its inclusive nature would make it more difficult for critics to allege favoritism—for example, that China is supporting Pakistan and the United States supporting India. Finally, this approach can be pursued in tandem with the criteria-based and bilateral approaches.

New Delhi, however, historically has opposed the multilateralization of what it considers to be strictly bilateral issues between India and Pakistan, such as the Kashmir dispute. For the reasons explained above, India would prefer the bilateral approach in this case. Yet, China and Russia recently set a precedent in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) regarding Indian and Pakistani membership. The two South Asian countries were observers to the SCO, but both were seeking full membership in the organization.23 China opposed Indian entry unless Pakistan was included; Russia opposed Pakistan. After years of discussions and bilateral talks, China and Russia recently agreed to the simultaneous entry of India and Pakistan into the SCO. That model could be one way to break the gridlock surrounding Indian and Pakistani membership in the NSG.

A suggested road map for a multilateral approach for simultaneous entry by India and Pakistan into the NSG could contain the following steps: 

1.   India and Pakistan are treated as normal nuclear states that possess nuclear weapons for national security reasons. Both states should formally reiterate that their nuclear capabilities are exclusively for defensive deterrence purposes.

2.   The international community recognizes that nuclear legitimacy for Islamabad and New Delhi is an important step in curtailing the Indian-Pakistani arms race. Normalization would encourage nuclear stability, security, and safety and would induce the cooperation between the two countries that was described in the 1999 Lahore memorandum of understanding.

3.   The two states agree to separate their civilian and military nuclear programs and fuel cycles cleanly and completely and to place the facilities declared as civilian under internationally agreed safeguards.

4.   The two states agree to keep nuclear weapons on their lowest alert status, with nuclear warheads separated from their delivery vehicles.

5.   The two states agree to adopt the highest global standards of nuclear security and safety and seek maximum assistance in this area from international organizations and countries with advanced nuclear programs.

6.   The two states agree to commence a sustained bilateral dialogue for peace and security with a view toward negotiating and implementing a mutually acceptable arrangement for strategic restraint.

7.   The two states agree to facilitate rather than obstruct the commencement of a global FMCT, maintain their nuclear testing moratorium, and pledge to join the CTBT.

Conclusion

India and Pakistan have come a long way in the nearly two decades that have followed the 1998 nuclear tests. It is time for the global nonproliferation regime to open the door to a normal nuclear South Asia and for India and Pakistan to address the international community’s legitimate concerns over their respective arms buildups.

As it is, India continues to build capabilities for power projection to match China, while Pakistan is building its capacity to balance against India. The interconnected nature of this strategic competition has the potential to create instability given the volatile nature of regional politics and probability of sudden crises that could rapidly escalate to nuclear deployment and possible use. There is a need for a global initiative that could break this gridlock and move away from international trends by incentivizing the two countries to enter into negotiations for an acceptable place in the world nuclear order.

For the reasons discussed in this article, the most promising approach is a process of multilateral negotiations that establishes criteria that India and Pakistan must meet and involves political negotiations. The goal would be to bring India and Pakistan into the global export control regimes, most notably the NSG, and eventually give the two countries “associate” membership in the NPT as de facto nuclear-weapon-possessing states. This status would not make India and Pakistan full members as NPT nuclear-weapon states, but would recognize the steps taken by an outlier country to undertake all obligations and adopt practices and polices as if it were a de jure NPT nuclear-weapon state.

A notional timeline for this process would be as follows: India and Pakistan are allowed into the NSG and other export control regimes within the next four years and thus provided with an opportunity to demonstrate responsible stewardship of nuclear capability. The 50th anniversary of the NPT’s entry into force, in 2020, would be a propitious moment for the nuclear nonproliferation regime to have solved the issue of the outlier states. Although this article focused on India and Pakistan because of the intensity of their strategic competition, the principle and pathway suggested here could apply to Israeli membership as well. Bringing these outlier states into the fold of the global nonproliferation regime would significantly strengthen the regime while providing the states with incentives to undertake responsible stewardship of nuclear weapons for the benefit of international security.

ENDNOTES

1.   Paul Bracken describes the emergence of new nuclear powers in the post-Cold War period as the “second nuclear age.” Paul Bracken, The Second Nuclear Age: Strategy, Danger, and the New Power Politics (New York: Times Books, 2012). See also Ashley Tellis, Abraham Denmark, and Travis Tanner, eds., Strategic Asia 2013-2014: Asia in the Second Nuclear Age (Washington DC: National Bureau of Asian Research, 2013).

2.   Gregory D. Koblentz, “Strategic Stability in the Second Nuclear Age,” Council on Foreign Relations, Council Special Report, No. 71 (November 2014).

3.   A memorandum of understanding was part of the Lahore Declaration of 1999, which was signed by Prime Ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee of India and Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan on February 21, 1999. This was the first bilateral agreement between India and Pakistan after the nuclear tests. The memorandum commits the two sides to discussing security doctrines, arms control, and confidence-building measures to ensure stability. See Toby Dalton, “Beyond Incrementalism: Rethinking Approaches to CBMs and Stability in South Asia,” in Deterrence Stability and Escalation Control in South Asia, ed. Michael Krepon and Julia Thompson (Washington, DC: Stimson Center, 2013), pp. 187-208.

4.   Michael Mandelbaum, “Lessons of the Next Nuclear War,” Foreign Affairs, No. 74 (March/April 1995).

5.   For a comprehensive study of the nuclear strategies and force postures of India and Pakistan, see Vipin Narang, Nuclear Strategy in the Modern Era: Regional Powers and International Conflict (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014).

6.   The term “security trilemma” is attributed to Linton Brooks and Mira Rapp-Hooper. Linton Brooks and Mira Rapp-Hooper, “Extended Deterrence, Assurance, and Reassurance in the Pacific During the Second Nuclear Age,” in Strategic Asia 2013-2014: Asia in the Second Nuclear Age, ed. Ashley Tellis, Abraham Denmark, and Travis Tanner (Washington DC: National Bureau of Asian Research, 2013).

7.   See Pierre Goldschmidt, “NSG Membership: A Criteria-Based Approach for Non-NPT States,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP), May 24, 2011, http://carnegieendowment.org/2011/05/24/nsg-membership-criteria-based-approach-for-non-npt-states; Toby Dalton, Mark Hibbs, and George Perkovich, “A Criteria-Based Approach to Nuclear Cooperation With Pakistan,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Policy Outlook, June 22, 2011, http://carnegieendowment.org/files/nsg_criteria.pdf. 

8.   Mark Fitzpatrick, Overcoming Pakistan’s Nuclear Dangers (London: International Institute of Strategic Studies, 2014), pp. 159-164.

9.   Toby Dalton and Michael Krepon, “A Normal Nuclear Pakistan,” Stimson Center and CEIP, 2015, http://carnegieendowment.org/files/NormalNuclearPakistan.pdf.

10.   Baqir Sajjad Syed, “Ex-Envoy Sheds Light on Mystery About Failure to Block IAEA India-Specific Deal,” Dawn, December 19, 2015.

11.   Feroz Hassan Khan and Ryan W. French, “U.S.-Pakistan Nuclear Relations: A Strategic Survey,” PASCC Report, No. 2014-005 (April 2014.)

12.   The latest Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) Nuclear Security Index has introduced two additional factors—sabotage and cybersecurity—in developing the index criteria. See “The 2016 NTI Nuclear Security Index: Theft and Sabotage,” n.d., http://ntiindex.org/behind-the-index/about-the-nti-index/.

13.   Fitzpatrick, Overcoming Pakistan’s Nuclear Dangers.

14.   For a detailed discussion of this issue, see Mark Hibbs, “Toward a Nuclear Suppliers Group Policy for States Not Party to the NPT,” CEIP, February 12, 2016, http://carnegieendowment.org/2016/02/12/toward-nuclear-suppliers-group-policy-for-states-not-party-to-npt/itxg.

15.   Goldschmidt, “NSG Membership.”

16.   “Nuclear Discrimination Impacting Regional Security, Says Pakistan,” The News (Pakistan), February 13, 2016.

17.   The incidents in 2011 involved CIA contractor Raymond Davis’ killing of two Pakistani citizens in January, the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad in May, and an accidental U.S. attack on a Pakistani military post on the Afghan border in November. For a detailed account, see Khan and French, “U.S.-Pakistan Nuclear Relations.”

18.   David Ignatius, “The U.S. Cannot Afford to Forget Afghanistan and Pakistan,” The Washington Post, October 6, 2015; David Sanger, “U.S. Exploring Deal to Limit Pakistan’s Nuclear Arsenal,” The New York Times, October 15, 2015.

19.   Fitzpatrick, Overcoming Pakistan’s Nuclear Dangers; Dalton and Krepon, “Normal Nuclear Pakistan.”

20.   Khan and French, “U.S.-Pakistan Nuclear Relations.”

21.   “Pakistan Developed Tactical Nukes to ‘Deter’ India: Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry,” Press Trust of India, October 20, 2015, http://indianexpress.com/article/world/neighbours/pakistan-developed-tactical-nukes-to-deter-india-aizaz-chaudhry/. See also “Pakistan With ‘Tactical Nukes’ Ready to Counter Indian Aggression: Aizaz,” The International News (Pakistan), October 20, 2015.

22.   For a Pakistani perspective, see Mark Fitzpatrick, Overcoming Pakistan’s Nuclear Dangers (citing Adil Sultan, “Pakistan’s Emerging Nuclear Posture: Impact of Drivers and Technology on Nuclear Doctrine,” Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad, April 17, 2012). For U.S. perspectives, see David O. Smith, “The U.S. Experience With Tactical Nuclear Weapons: Lessons for South Asia” in Deterrence Stability and Escalation Control in South Asia, ed. Michael Krepon and Julia Thompson (Washington, DC: Henry L. Stimson Center, 2013), pp. 65-92; David J. Carl, “Pakistan’s Evolving Nuclear Weapons Posture,” The Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 21, Nos. 3-4 (September-December 2014): 317-336.

23.   The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a regional organization led by China and Russia and involving six Central Asian states. Its objective is to enhance economic cooperation and combat terrorism, separatism, and extremism. For details, see Asia Regional Integration Center, “Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO),” n.d., https://aric.adb.org/initiative/shanghai-cooperation-organization.


Feroz Hassan Khan is a lecturer in the Department of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He is a former director of arms control and disarmament in Pakistan’s Strategic Plans Division and is the author of Eating Grass: The Making of the Pakistani Bomb (2012). The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not represent the position of any government.

Membership in global export control regimes will encourage India and Pakistan to negotiate bilateral steps toward nuclear stability, safety, and security...

India’s Bid to Join Missile Regime Fails

November 2015

By Kelsey Davenport

India’s bid to join a multilateral regime designed to stem the spread of certain types of missiles and drones failed last month when its application was blocked by Italy, an official who attended the meeting said.

The official said in an Oct. 19 e-mail that Italy’s objection to India’s membership in the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) was likely motivated by a bilateral dispute between Rome and New Delhi unrelated to the regime.

He and other sources cited a 2012 incident in which two Italian marines guarding an Italian cargo ship killed an Indian fisherman. Indian officials arrested the marines, who claimed that they fired warning shots and were attempting to guard the ship. India and Italy are involved in a dispute over the trial.

India said in June that it applied for membership in the MTCR, an initiative designed to prevent the spread of missiles and unmanned systems capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

India’s application for membership was considered at the annual plenary, which was held Oct. 5-9 in the Dutch city of Rotterdam. Membership is determined by consensus of the group, which currently has 34 members.

Vikas Swarup, spokesman for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, said on Oct. 9 that the application was well received but “remains under consideration.”

The regime, which was formed in 1987, defines WMD-capable delivery systems as missiles or drones capable of carrying a 500-kilogram payload over a distance of 300 kilometers. India already possesses a number of missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

MTCR members agree to abide by export policy guidelines designed to limit the spread of technologies applicable to the development of WMD-capable missiles and drones.

Swarup said that India’s membership would “strengthen global nonproliferation objectives.”

From left to right, Indian Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman, Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker speak to reporters after a meeting in Washington on September 22. In a joint statement with India issued that day, the United States expressed its support for India’s entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime at the group’s meeting in October. [Photo credit: Prakash Singh /AFP/Getty Images]The United States backed India’s bid for membership and affirmed its support prior to the plenary in a Sept. 22 statement on U.S.-Indian relations. The Obama administration voiced support for Indian membership five years ago (see ACT, December 2010) and has consistently supported it since then.

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment on India’s unsuccessful membership bid.

When India applied to join the regime, it said that its space program had suffered because it was not a member of the regime. Membership would not ensure that India would be able to purchase restricted items because MTCR guidelines “do not distinguish between exports to Partners and exports to non-Partners,” according to a summary on the MTCR website. But India has argued that membership would raise its profile as a responsible state committed to nonproliferation.

Technology applicable to missile development is also used in space programs. The statement issued by MTCR members after the plenary meeting noted that the regime is not designed to “impede technological advancement and development, including space programmes,” as long as it does not contribute to WMD-capable delivery systems.

India is not the only country to have applied for membership. Nine additional countries are seeking to join the regime, none of which were accepted, said the official who attended the meeting.

 The official said that Russia objected to allowing several eastern European countries, including Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, to join the regime.

The Oct. 9 statement said that individual applications for membership were “thoroughly discussed” and the issue of expanding the membership will remain on the agenda. The last country admitted to the MTCR was Bulgaria in 2004.

States that are not members of the regime can voluntarily adhere to the export guidelines. The statement noted that, since last year’s plenary, Estonia and Latvia pledged to use the regime guidelines as the basis for their export controls of missile-related technologies, and the statement encouraged other countries to do the same.

Sea Trials Progress for Indian Sub

November 2015

By Kelsey Davenport

The Nirbhay, India’s long-range cruise missile, lifts off during a test launch in the Indian state of Odisha on October 17, 2014. [Photo credit: Defence Research & Development Organisation of India]Sea trials of India’s first indigenously built ballistic missile submarine are going well and may include the first test launch of a nuclear-capable missile this month, an Indian official said last month.

In an Oct. 15 e-mail, the official confirmed reports in several Indian newspapers that the next steps for the sea trials of the INS Arihant include test launches of a cruise missile and a ballistic missile and that these tests could take place within the next month.

India, whose submarine program dates back to 1984, started work on the Arihant in 2009. The submarine’s nuclear-powered reactor went critical in August 2013, and it began sea trials in December 2014.

Indian officials have said that they plan to conduct test launches of the submarine’s missiles before the Arihant is ready to go on patrol. Currently, New Delhi says the Arihant will be handed over to the navy to begin service in 2016, ideally before the International Fleet Review, an international naval exhibition, in February. But the deployment of the Arihant has been delayed in the past.

The plan to test a cruise missile from the submarine may have suffered a setback after a land-based test of the missile was aborted last month.

In an Oct. 16 press release, India’s Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) said that, to “ensure coastal safety,” a test of the Nirbhay long-range cruise missile was “terminated” midway through its flight after “deviations were observed from its intended course.” The release said that the Oct. 16 test still met basic mission objectives successfully.

The Nirbhay is likely a nuclear-capable cruise missile with a range of 1,000 kilometers, although India has not confirmed its nuclear mission. India has tested the missile several times, including in March 2013 and October 2014. The March 2013 test was terminated when the missile veered off course. The October 2014 test was deemed a partial success by a DRDO official.

The other missile suitable for the Arihant-class submarine is the K-15, a two-stage ballistic missile that can carry a nuclear warhead an estimated 700 kilometers.

The submarine is designed to carry 12 K-15 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).

India has tested the K-15 missile multiple times, including from a submerged pontoon in 2013, but not from the Arihant.

The DRDO also is developing a longer-range SLBM, the K-4, which will have an estimated range of 3,000 kilometers with a nuclear payload. That range puts Pakistan and most of China within range if India launches the K-4 from the northern Indian Ocean.

India first tested the K-4 missile in March 2014. Each Arihant-class submarine could carry up to four K-4s.

Once the Arihant is on patrol, India will have a complete nuclear triad, which also includes the ability to deliver warheads via land-based missiles and bombers. Currently, only China, Russia, and the United States deploy nuclear warheads across all three delivery systems.

India will also join China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States as the only countries with a sea-based nuclear deterrent.

India has two submarines similar to the Arihant at various stages of construction. 

An Indian official said sea trials of its ballistic missile submarine are going well and may include missile tests this month.

BOOK REVIEW: Turning the Page on Pax Atomica

October 2015

Reviewed by Randy Rydell

The War That Must Never Be Fought: Dilemmas of Nuclear Deterrence
Edited by George P. Shultz and James E. Goodby Hoover Institution Press, 2015, 530 pp.

On June 14, 1946, U.S. representative Bernard Baruch addressed the UN Atomic Energy Commission and launched his country’s ambitious plan for global nuclear disarmament and international ownership of the nuclear fuel cycle.

The plan was not without its conditions. Actual disarmament would occur only after other steps had been taken, most notably the imposition of intrusive controls over the nuclear programs of every other country and the establishment of the International Atomic Development Authority. In 1961 the U.S. Department of State’s press release accompanying the McCloy-Zorin joint statement on “general and complete disarmament” referred to the attainment of that goal “in a peaceful world,” suggesting that disarmament would occur at the end of a very long road, essentially with the dawning of world peace.1

A new collection of essays, The War That Must Never Be Fought: Dilemmas of Nuclear Deterrence, takes a somewhat more practical approach by outlining specific actions needed to achieve and sustain global nuclear disarmament. Although contemporary in focus, the chapters all illustrate the continuity of the primary challenges faced some 70 years ago in this field. Which must come first—peace and security or disarmament? How can sovereign states respond to enforce a nuclear disarmament commitment if it is violated? Does the “inalienable right” to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, as the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) puts it, extend to the technologies that produced the Little Boy and Fat Man atomic bombs? Is nonproliferation a precondition for disarmament or vice versa?

Taking Disarmament Seriously

Edited by George P. Shultz and James E. Goodby, this book is an exceptional contribution to the literature on nuclear disarmament and arms control. Yet, it is more than that. It also is a valuable addition to the wider political campaign to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.

It achieves these goals by inviting contributions from authors of diverse backgrounds, including the military, academia, private research institutes, and many other fields of public service.

The book begins with chapters by Benoît Pelopidas, Goodby, and Steven Pifer that identify the fallacies of nuclear deterrence, including the myth that nuclear weapons are responsible for keeping the “long peace” during the Cold War. Although many self-described realists denigrate disarmament, Pifer offers a defense of the concept as practical, reasonable, and in the interests of the United States and the world community.

The second part of the book delves into specific challenges to disarmament emanating from four regions: Europe, the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia. The omission of Latin America and Africa is unfortunate, given their long record of support for global nuclear disarmament and their many regional actions to advance that goal.

With respect to Europe, Isabelle Williams and Steven P. Andreasen explain the situation in NATO. They describe the dualism of NATO’s stubborn reaffirmation of the role of nuclear weapons as the “supreme guarantee” of alliance security and the organization’s recent recognition of the desirability of eliminating such weapons globally. Pavel Podvig offers an enlightened discussion of Russian interests and motives in nuclear arms control and disarmament, and in their jointly written chapter, Katarzyna Kubiak and Oliver Meier draw the reader’s attention to the critically important policy positions taken by Germany and Poland concerning the future of nuclear weapons.

The three chapters on the Middle East appear as a dialectic, with the thesis characterizing Israel as the responsible nuclear-weapon custodian (Shlomo Brom), the antithesis emphasizing the reluctance of Arab states to participate in regional peace talks as long as Israel retains its nuclear arsenal (Karim Haggag), and the synthesis being a proposal for a middle course incorporating regional negotiations on many dimensions relating to peace and to disarmament in particular with many timetables (Peter Jones).

 In the one chapter on South Asia, S. Paul Kapur focuses on prospects for decoupling “deterrence” from nuclear weapons. He outlines how deterrence can persist even if nuclear weapons are excluded from the region.

East Asia justifiably receives significant attention in this book. This includes an informative chapter on China’s nuclear policies by Michael S. Gerson, who draws attention to the “increasingly important—and potentially dangerous—interplay between nuclear and conventional forces in the modern era.” Li Bin’s chapter refreshingly mentions Article VI of the NPT. He explains the lack of progress in U.S.-Chinese nuclear arms control and disarmament as largely due to what he calls the contrasting “security paradigms” of the two countries—that is, their fundamentally different perspectives on defense policy and strategy. Peter Hayes and Chung-in Moon go beyond the familiar, customary assessments that simply describe the tensions between North and South Korea. They offer a concrete fix for such tensions in the form of a broad regional security regime that includes but is not limited to a regional nuclear-weapon-free zone. Nobumasa Akiyama discusses how Japan has sought to reconcile its support for global nuclear disarmament with its embrace of the U.S. nuclear umbrella.

Goodby and Pifer wrap things up with a conclusion setting forth various conditions for the achievement of a world free of nuclear weapons. Their proposal emphasizes the role of the great powers, in particular Russia and the United States, the countries with the largest nuclear arsenals. Goodby and Pifer emphasize the importance of a multidimensional approach, arguing that conventional arms control and nuclear disarmament goals must be pursued together. The two analysts argue that these goals must be pursued at the highest level of government in summit meetings, supported politically in many international forums, and advanced through a “joint enterprise,” a term used in a series of Wall Street Journal op-eds written by Shultz, Henry Kissinger, William Perry, and Sam Nunn, involving a coalition of like-minded states. The authors also offer a draft communiqué and work plan to advance their proposals.

The Joint Enterprise in Practice

An Agni-3 missile moves through New Delhi on January 26, 2009, as part of India’s observance of its Republic Day. The Agni-3 is nuclear capable.  (Photo credit: Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)One of the key purposes of this book was to put some flesh on the bones of the joint enterprise proposed in the Wall Street Journal op-eds on nuclear disarmament. The authors deserve credit for taking up this difficult mission and for setting forth some ideas on how to achieve it. The Goodby-Pifer proposal places a strong emphasis on summit meetings between key states with nuclear weapons and their allies. Fair enough; as Pelopides wrote, “engage the expected veto player.”

A popular alternative these days is to build a coalition of like-minded states to advocate a nuclear weapons ban, an approach actively being advanced by many nongovernmental groups. Yet, the great weakness of global nuclear disarmament proposals that involve “coalitions of the willing” minus the nuclear-weapon states is in their inability to establish an irrefutable link between the actions of those coalitions and the necessary achievement of a nuclear-weapon-free world. It is difficult to achieve the norm of global nuclear disarmament without the participation of states possessing such weapons. A universal norm, after all, implies universal application.

Aside from the predictable difficulties of engaging the nuclear-weapon states, proponents of this book’s approach will also need a strategy to ensure that the proposed summits will remain focused on nuclear disarmament and not get sidetracked by endless discussions on nonproliferation and nuclear security issues. Most non-nuclear-weapon states oppose the idea that the commitment in the NPT to undertake negotiations in good faith on nuclear disarmament is conditional at all. They are not interested in discussing progress toward disarmament; they want to see progress in disarmament.

These states certainly oppose expanding nonproliferation commitments in the face of what they see as the failure to fulfill the disarmament side of the NPT bargain. While the nuclear-weapon states and their allies are demanding numerous preconditions for fulfilling their disarmament commitments, the non-nuclear-weapon states have not responded in kind by attaching provisos to their own nonproliferation commitments. The longer that disarmament is deferred, however, the more likely it is that this game of “conditions” will be played in the nonproliferation field. The book’s proposed joint enterprise can most successfully address such challenges by remaining a global enterprise with an equitable balance of obligations among all states.

Therefore, it seems that the road to nuclear disarmament will have to involve some players other than the nuclear-weapon states and their allies. In particular, non-nuclear-weapon states and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have important roles to play, as do national legislatures. How they can all fit within the summit proposal offered in this book is unclear.

A protester against NATO nuclear weapons takes part in a demonstration on September 4, 2014, at the alliance’s summit meeting in Newport, Wales. (Photo credit: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images)Non-Nuclear Deterrence

As for the doctrine of nuclear deterrence, its frailties are exceptionally well documented in this book by many authors. Yet, the book’s subtitle, Dilemmas of Nuclear Deterrence, unintentionally diverts attention from another important challenge facing nuclear disarmament, namely, the dilemmas of non-nuclear deterrence.

As the Clinton White House put it in 2000, “Because of [U.S.] conventional military dominance, adversaries are likely to use asymmetric means, such as WMD [weapons of mass destruction], information operations or terrorism.”2 Earlier, Secretary of Defense William Cohen similarly stated that “a paradox of the new strategic environment is that American military superiority actually increases the threat of nuclear, biological, and chemical attack against us by creating incentives for adversaries to challenge us asymmetrically.”3

As these comments suggest, the unconstrained production and improvement of conventional arms can serve as a driver for the proliferation of nuclear and other nonconventional weapons. Thus, the notion that the United States can comfortably rely on expanded and more-capable conventional forces for purposes of deterrence in a nuclear-weapon-free world does not seem to take into account all the possible international responses to this dominant U.S. capability. It is by no means clear that these responses would be fully compatible with global nuclear disarmament.

Beyond Deterrence Alone

In short, deterrence by conventional arms is not necessarily the enabler for global nuclear disarmament that some might wish. More likely, realists in the foreign and defense policy communities will recognize that the global elimination of nonconventional weapons must be accompanied by the regulation and limitation of conventional arms as well as the reduction of military spending.

Furthermore, the realists will have to concede that great progress is needed in establishing mechanisms to advance some fundamental goals of the UN Charter, especially the peaceful resolution of disputes and the ban on threats or use of force. These mechanisms logically would include greater reliance of states on such measures as mediation, adjudication, fact finding, and the “good offices” of globally recognized resources such as the office of the UN secretary-general and regional organizations for international peace and security. Yet, are these institutions prepared to perform that role? This is a work in progress at best, totally dependent on the political will of states to use such resources.

Ironically, WMD disarmament, conventional arms control, the peaceful resolution of disputes, reductions in military expenditures, and strengthening the norm against threats and use of force together comprise the goal of “general and complete disarmament under effective international control,” which is already recognized by all UN member states as their “ultimate goal.”4 Many authors in this volume reach for some form of a “big picture,” but none recalls this particular goal—hence the reader sees Podvig’s “new security framework,” Goodby’s “new global commons,” Brom’s “comprehensive cooperative security regime,” Haggag’s “comprehensive arms control framework,” and Jones’s “inclusive regional security system in the Middle East.” It is not clear what these alternatives offer that are not already intrinsic to the concept of general and complete disarmament, which has been recognized by the General Assembly and enshrined in a dozen multilateral treaties, including the NPT. The key recommendations in this book with respect to nuclear disarmament and, to the extent they are addressed, conventional arms control are fully consistent with general and complete disarmament. What is missing is some recognition of the global support that already exists for this ultimate goal.

Old Challenges, New Openings

Pessimists and optimists will find material in this book to support their views on disarmament. Pessimists will be informed that there is no hope that India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, or NATO will give up its nuclear weapons anytime soon. Reading between the lines, they could also deduce that the absence of nuclear disarmament agencies in the nuclear-weapon states, coupled with the lack of national disarmament legislation, regulations, policies, timetables, and plans, provides some rather compelling grounds to be skeptical about the whole global nuclear disarmament project. To his credit, Gerson addressed this specific challenge in his chapter on China, but the point is valid throughout the nuclear-armed world. Disarmament simply has not been “internalized” in the nuclear-weapon states; until it is, the goal will be all that more elusive.

Catalysts for change, however, should not be underestimated. The determination of NGOs and non-nuclear-weapon states to advance the cause of nuclear disarmament remains strong and is expanding. The rapid growth of the “humanitarian approach” to disarmament is a good case in point, as the vast majority of UN member states have now adopted a joint position in opposition to nuclear weapons on humanitarian grounds, a subject already of three major international conferences with more no doubt to come. Although national leadership from within the nuclear-weapon states is indispensable, the willingness of such leaders to launch disarmament initiatives will certainly be shaped by the wider political climate—a climate that includes public opinion and pressure from the diplomatic community. The more persistent and diverse these forces become, the greater will be the incentive for leaders to adopt a more constructive approach to disarmament. Pressure can shape summits.

Material for a Sequel

Without using the term “pax atomica,” this book dissects the doctrine of nuclear deterrence and exposes it for the anachronistic fantasy that it is in the 21st century. It is less strong in identifying the dilemmas of non-nuclear deterrence in a world without nuclear weapons. It does not take very seriously the role of civil society in advancing the global nuclear disarmament agenda and says very little about the international campaign now underway to advance a humanitarian approach to disarmament.

Yet, none of these are critical shortcomings in this excellent book. They are instead guiding lights for a sequel to build on this solid foundation pulled together by Shultz and Goodby, who continue to demonstrate through their actions and principled leadership that nuclear disarmament not only can work better than any alternative response to nuclear weapons threats, but also is the right thing to do.

ENDNOTES

1.  Bureau of Public Affairs, U.S. Department of State, “Freedom From War: The United States Program for General and Complete Disarmament in a Peaceful World,” pub. no. 7277, September 1961. The McCloy-Zorin joint statement of September 20, 1961, outlined a U.S.-Soviet agreement on eight principles to serve as a basis for future negotiations on general and complete disarmament. Its authors were diplomats John McCloy of the United States and Valerian Zorin of the Soviet Union. See “McCloy-Zorin Accords,” n.d., http://www.nucleardarkness.org/solutions/mccloyzorinaccordstext/.

2.  Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, “A National Security Strategy for a New Century,” January 5, 2000, http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/nss/nss2000.htm.

3.  U.S. Department of Defense, “Proliferation: Threat and Response,” November 1997, http://www.dod.mil/pubs/prolif97/message.html (emphasis in original).

4.  UN General Assembly, “Resolutions and Decisions Adopted by the General Assembly During Its Tenth Special Session, 23 May-30 June 1978,” Supp. No. 4 (A/S-10/4), September 1978, http://www.un.org/disarmament/HomePage/SSOD/A-S-10-4.pdf.


Randy Rydell is an executive adviser to the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation (Mayors for Peace) and a member of the Board of Directors of the Arms Control Association. He served from 1998 to 2014 as senior political affairs officer in the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs and was a nonproliferation aide to Senator John Glenn (D-Ohio) from 1987 to 1998. He was report director and senior counselor to the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, headed by Hans Blix, from 2005 to 2006, when he was also senior fellow at the Arms Control Association. 

Nonproliferation Benefits of India Deal Remain Elusive

June 2015

By John Carlson

In 2005 the Bush administration decided to normalize India’s participation in international nuclear cooperation. In a joint statement with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, President George W. Bush announced that he would work to achieve full civil nuclear energy cooperation with India.[1] Singh affirmed that India was “ready to assume the same responsibilities and practices and acquire the same benefits and advantages as other leading countries with advanced nuclear technology, such as the United States,” and announced a number of nonproliferation and disarmament commitments.

The International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors convenes in Vienna on August 1, 2008, for a meeting during which it approved a safeguards agreement with India. (Samuel Kubani/AFP/Getty Images)In 2007, India and the United States concluded a nuclear cooperation agreement. The following year, at U.S. instigation, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) decided to exempt India from the group’s requirement for comprehensive International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards as a condition for nuclear supply. Ten countries have since signed nuclear cooperation agreements with India.[2]

As a result of the U.S. initiative, India is now receiving the benefits of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) without assuming any of the NPT’s obligations, a situation widely seen as damaging the NPT. Today, as India seeks to join the NSG, it is timely to reflect whether India can be seen as sufficiently “like-minded” for its bid to gain consensus support.

Commitments Undertaken

A key objective for the 2005 U.S. initiative was to encourage India to meet international nuclear norms. If India really did intend to assume “the same responsibilities and practices…as other leading countries…such as the United States,” what might it be expected to do?

India could reasonably have been expected to assume the same obligations and responsibilities as NPT nuclear-weapon states. There is no justification for India to expect to receive more-favorable treatment than these states if it does not accept obligations that are at least as rigorous.[3] Under the NPT, the nuclear-weapon states have pledged to refrain from transferring nuclear weapons to other states or assisting others to acquire nuclear weapons, to require safeguards on nuclear transfers to non-nuclear-weapon states, and to pursue negotiations on cessation of the nuclear arms race and on nuclear and general disarmament.

In addition to these explicit obligations, the NPT contains implicit principles. For example, in the terms of their voluntary-offer safeguards agreements,[4] the nuclear-weapon states implicitly agree to separate their military and civilian nuclear programs. Another implicit obligation, applicable to all NPT states, is effective control of uranium-enrichment, spent fuel reprocessing, and other sensitive nuclear technologies, a commitment that for nuclear-weapon states arises from the NPT Article I prohibition on assisting others to acquire nuclear weapons. This responsibility encompasses acts of omission, such as inadequate control enabling unauthorized transfer of sensitive technology. Similarly, there is an implicit obligation on all NPT parties to maintain effective security for nuclear materials.

The nuclear-weapon states have incurred further obligations and responsibilities by signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and allowing the installation of CTBT monitoring stations, supporting the negotiation and conclusion of a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT), and placing all imported nuclear material under IAEA safeguards.

In the 2005 joint statement, India undertook to identify and separate civilian and military nuclear facilities and programs “in a phased manner,” voluntarily place civilian facilities under IAEA safeguards, conclude an additional protocol to its IAEA safeguards agreement with respect to civilian facilities, continue its unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing, work with the United States for the conclusion of a multilateral FMCT, refrain from transferring enrichment and reprocessing technologies to new states and support international efforts to limit their spread, and secure nuclear materials and technology through comprehensive export control legislation and through harmonization of and adherence to Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and NSG guidelines.

The first three points were reiterated in the 2007 U.S.-Indian nuclear cooperation agreement.

Comparing Commitments

The commitments assumed by India are considerably less than those of the nuclear-weapon states. The analysis below compares the two sets of commitments point by point.

Not transferring nuclear weapons to other states or assisting others to acquire nuclear weapons. India’s commitments not to transfer enrichment and reprocessing technologies to states that do not have them, to establish comprehensive export control legislation, and to adhere to the NSG guidelines and MTCR regime are welcome, but only partially correspond to the obligations impose by NPT Article I. The effectiveness of India’s export control arrangements is not clear at this stage.

Pursuing negotiations on disarmament. India has given no commitment comparable to the one in NPT Article VI. In contrast to the nuclear-weapon states, India has avoided any legal obligation to engage in nuclear disarmament efforts. There is a limit to how far nuclear disarmament can proceed without India. India actually is working in the opposite direction, increasing its nuclear arsenal.

Separating military and civilian programs and accepting IAEA safeguards. India released its separation plan, as the document is known, in 2006.[5] Fourteen of the 22 power reactors that were in operation or under construction at that time have been or will be designated for IAEA safeguards, together with some associated facilities.[6] For the future, India reserves the right to decide which additional facilities, if any, it will place under safeguards.

In the case of foreign-supplied facilities, India is obliged by the suppliers to place these under safeguards. For indigenous facilities, which include enrichment facilities, fast breeder reactors, and other power reactors, the separation plan says India will take into account “the nature of the facility concerned, the activities undertaken in it, the national security significance of materials and the location of the facilities.”

Major parts of India’s civilian program remain outside IAEA safeguards and evidently will remain so in the future. The relationship among civilian safeguarded facilities,[7] civilian unsafeguarded facilities, and military facilities is opaque, especially in view of the provisions of the Indian-IAEA safeguards agreement. This agreement allows safeguarded material to be used in normally unsafeguarded facilities and in specified circumstances to produce unsafeguarded plutonium and allows unsafeguarded material to be used in safeguarded facilities. Such flexibility is particularly problematic given that, unlike the nuclear-weapon states, India continues to produce fissile material for weapons.

The scope of the nuclear-weapon states’ voluntary-offer safeguards agreements varies. The Chinese and Russian agreements designate certain facilities as eligible for safeguards, while the United Kingdom and the United States make all civilian facilities eligible for safeguards. France is in between; all facilities with material under bilateral safeguards obligations are designated for IAEA safeguards. In spite of their variations, however, these agreements are consistent in not allowing the use of safeguarded material in unsafeguarded facilities, or vice versa. Facilities either are designated for safeguards, or they are not.

As for India’s additional protocol, New Delhi has reneged on its commitment, made in the 2005 joint statement and the 2007 cooperation agreement, to apply this to its civilian facilities. India’s additional protocol is the most limited of all. The Chinese and Russian additional protocols apply at least to facilities involved in collaborative programs with non-nuclear-weapon states, while the UK and U.S. protocols apply to all the civilian facilities in those countries. India’s additional protocol, however, does not apply to any facilities. This blatant dishonoring of a specific commitment raises questions about India’s attitude toward commitments.

Safeguards in India have some positive aspects. For example, designation of a facility for safeguards is irreversible. In addition, India has placed a larger proportion of facilities under safeguards than China and Russia have, although nowhere near the examples of the UK and the United States, and the IAEA undertakes inspections at all safeguarded facilities. Nevertheless, the separation between military and civilian programs in India has a long way to go compared with the nuclear-weapon states.

Signing the CTBT and hosting CTBT monitoring stations. Signing the CTBT would be a major step in support of nuclear disarmament. The CTBT requires ratification by 44 specified countries before it can enter into force. Eight of those countries have not ratified the treaty: China, Egypt, Iran, Israel, and the United States, which have signed but not ratified the treaty, and India, North Korea, and Pakistan, which have not signed it.

U.S. ratification depends on gaining the necessary number of votes in the Senate, which the Obama administration is pursuing. The general expectation is that when the United States is able to ratify the treaty, China and most of the others will quickly follow. If India does not ratify the CTBT, however, China could use that as a reason not to do so. India’s position therefore is critical because signing the CTBT will build confidence in its intentions among the other holdouts.

A further negative factor is that late in the CTBT negotiations, India withdrew approval for the four monitoring stations planned for its territory.[8] The absence of these stations detracts from the ability of the CTBT monitoring system to provide effective coverage of a key part of the world—South Asia, China, Central Asia, and the Middle East. India has said it will maintain its unilateral test moratorium, but New Delhi’s refusal to allow these stations can be seen as casting doubt on its commitment to its test moratorium. India should show good faith by allowing the four monitoring stations to proceed and signing the CTBT.

Supporting an FMCT. The effort to achieve a global cutoff of fissile material production for nuclear weapons is another important area in which India could demonstrate its good intentions. Along with North Korea and Pakistan, India is one of only three countries still producing fissile material for nuclear weapons. It is not asking too much for India to seriously consider ceasing production of fissile material now as the nuclear-weapon states did many years ago.[9] Serious moves in this direction would have an immediate effect in reducing tensions with Pakistan. Indeed, India could show leadership by initiating negotiations with Pakistan on a bilateral fissile material cutoff agreement.

Placing all imported nuclear material under IAEA safeguards. Under its agreement with the IAEA, India accepts safeguards on imported nuclear material only if this is required by an arrangement to which India is a party, such as a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement. Today, all established uranium suppliers are NPT parties obliged to require safeguards on all nuclear transfers to a nonparty. It is not known whether all countries supplying uranium to India are insisting on safeguards; if not, they are in violation of their NPT obligations. It would be regrettable if India were taking advantage of this. It would be a welcome gesture of good faith for India to place all imported nuclear material under IAEA safeguards.

Bilateral Agreements

A number of major suppliers—Australia, Canada, Japan, the United States, and the European Union—apply similar conditions for the supply of nuclear material and other goods. They require the recipient country to accept conditions covering areas such as peaceful assurances, application of IAEA safeguards, and consent rights for reprocessing, enrichment to levels above 20 percent uranium-235, and retransfers. The agreements include accounting and tracking requirements so that material and items subject to the agreements can be identified.

India has refused to allow suppliers to track nuclear material, maintaining that IAEA safeguards are sufficient. The IAEA, however, does not distinguish between materials of different origins. Without tracking, material covered by particular agreements cannot be readily identified, making it impossible to know if bilateral conditions are being met.

Because of India’s refusal to accept tracking, the administrative arrangement required for the 2007 U.S.-Indian nuclear agreement to go into effect still has not been concluded.[10] Following President Barack Obama’s visit to India in January, it seems that officials have finally found a practical solution. It appears that the United States would supply nuclear material only in the form of fuel assemblies for U.S.-supplied reactors. This material would stay in a self-contained U.S. bubble within the Indian fuel cycle. India would provide detailed reactor operational information to enable the United States to calculate plutonium production.

It is difficult to understand why India has been so obstinate on this issue. Once India adopts modern nuclear accounting, a step the IAEA is working to help it achieve, New Delhi could easily generate the information required under bilateral agreements in the same way as every other country with such agreements.

Conclusion

On the basis of the terms set by the 2005 joint statement—that India is ready to assume the same responsibilities and practices as other leading countries, such as the United States—lifting the barriers to nuclear cooperation with India cannot be considered a success. The disparity between the commitments assumed by the NPT nuclear-weapon states and those of India clearly shows the opportunity lost in failing to require more of India. As a result of that failure, India has achieved a privileged position, gaining the benefits of the NPT without any of the obligations.

This situation has been exacerbated by the willingness of some governments to compromise nuclear cooperation standards for short-term political gain. Far from assisting India’s integration into the global nuclear community, such compromises will make integration longer and more fraught. Lifting the restrictions on India was intended to bring India into the nonproliferation mainstream. Yet, India has shown limited interest in meeting international nuclear norms and is instead determined to go its own way. This will not be lost on governments considering whether India is sufficiently like-minded to join the NSG.

At a time when Russia and the United States have made very substantial cuts to their nuclear arsenals and the international community is calling for the other nuclear-armed countries to join in arms reductions, India is working in the opposite direction. Indians see access to imported nuclear material as freeing up indigenous material for their weapons program.[11] With its civilian and military programs closely linked, New Delhi is operating on a fuel cycle model that the nuclear-weapon states abandoned decades ago. Moreover, India is increasing production of fissile material, adding to regional tensions.

It is alarming that New Delhi has not articulated the limits of its nuclear ambitions. Indian leaders believe that their country’s principal adversary is not Pakistan, with which it has broad nuclear parity, but China. This suggests India could be considering increasing its nuclear arsenal by a factor of two or three or perhaps more.
It can be hoped that India’s role in international nuclear affairs will be more positive, but a transition from nuclear outlier to leader will require a major change in India’s attitude toward disarmament and regional security.


John Carlson is a counselor to the Nuclear Threat Initiative and nonresident fellow at the Lowy Institute in Sydney. He was director-general of the Australian Safeguards and Nonproliferation Office and chair of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Standing Advisory Group on Safeguards Implementation. The views in this article are his own.



ENDNOTES

1. Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, “Joint Statement Between President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,” July 18, 2005.

2. In addition to the United States, the countries that have signed and brought into force an agreement with India are Argentina, Canada, France, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Namibia, Russia, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. Australia has signed an agreement.

3. For more, see John Carlson, “Challenges and Opportunities for Extending NPT-Related Commitments to Non-NPT States,” Policy Brief, No. 15 (September 2014), http://www.a-pln.org/content/policy-brief-no-15-challenges-and-opportunities-extending-npt-related-commitments-non-npt.

4. Under their voluntary-offer safeguards agreements, nuclear-weapon states under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty can designate facilities that are eligible for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. The IAEA can select from these eligible facilities for conducting safeguards activities. In practice, for reasons of resource limitations, the IAEA conducts safeguards at only a limited number of facilities in nuclear-weapon states.

5. IAEA, “Communication Dated 25 July 2008 Received From the Permanent Mission of India Concerning a Document Entitled ‘Implementation of the India-United States Joint Statement of July 18, 2005: India’s Separation Plan,’” INFCIRC/731, July 25, 2008.

6. Of the 14 reactors designated for safeguards, six already were subject to safeguards because they were supplied by a foreign country. Thus, the net increase for safeguards is eight indigenous reactors.

7. In this context, the term “civilian safeguarded facilities” means the facilities that are listed in the annex to India’s IAEA safeguards agreement.

8. Ramesh Thakur and John Carlson, “How India Can Support the CTBT Before Signing,” Japan Times, April 8, 2015, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2015/04/08/commentary/world-commentary/india-can-support-ctbt-signing.

9. France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States have formally declared that they are not producing fissile material for nuclear weapons. China has not made such a declaration, but is believed to be following suit.

10. A further issue, outside the scope of this paper, is India’s nuclear liability laws.

11. See Akhilesh Pillalamarri, “India’s Nuclear-Weapons Program: 5 Things You Need to Know,” The National Interest, April 22, 2015, http://www.nationalinterest.org/feature/indias-nuclear-weapons-program-5-things-you-need-know-12697?page=show.

The lifting of the barriers to international nuclear cooperation with India was intended to bring New Delhi into the nonproliferation mainstream.

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