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"I want to thank the Arms Control Association … for being such effective advocates for sensible policies to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and most importantly, reduce the risk of nuclear war."
– Senator Joe Biden
January 28, 2004
Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

Fulfilling the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty's Promise

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2005 Annual Meeting & Luncheon

February 3, 2005

ACA Panel Discussion:
"Fulfilling the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty's Promise"

9:30 - 11:30 a.m.

An ACA-hosted panel discussion on past actions and future steps toward realizing the goals of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

Congressman David Hobson to Address Arms Control Association on
"U.S. Nuclear Security in the 21st Century"

11:45 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Congressman David Hobson (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Appropriations Energy and Water Development Subcommittee, gave his perspective February 3 at the annual luncheon of the Arms Control Association on the proper funding and policy guidelines for maintaining the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile. During the last budget cycle, Chairman Hobson led the Congress in denying Bush administration requests for researching robust nuclear earth penetrating nuclear warheads and low-yield nuclear weapons. He also trimmed administration requests for building a new facility to build new nuclear bomb cores and to diminish the preparation time for the United States to resume nuclear testing if such a decision were made. In a recent Op-Ed in The Washington Times explaining his actions, Hobson wrote, "Not only are these initiatives an unwise and unnecessary use of limited resources, they also send the wrong signal to the rest of the world. When we want countries such as Iran and North Korea to abandon nuclear weapons development, it is hypocritical for the United States to embark on new weapons and testing initiatives."

 

 

 

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Arms Control Association Panel Discussion

Caught in the Middle: The United Kingdom and the 2005 NPT Review Conference

William Walker

Although it may feign confidence, the British government is viewing with trepidation the approach of the 2005 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference. It is anxious about the treaty’s health, even less able than usual to predict how the conference might unfold, and uncertain how to position itself diplomatically.

London is hoping that an atmosphere of cooperation will somehow be established at the conference, the treaty will emerge intact, and an agreement will be reached on some next steps even if there is no final document. Nevertheless, it recognizes that the British government may find itself unable to sustain a consensus within the European Union and marooned between the United States and that country’s critics, with diminished prestige and little influence in any direction. Avoiding such a diplomatic fate is as important to the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair as seeing its preferred policies taken up at the conference.

From its inception, the NPT has been regarded as vital to London’s political and security interests. The treaty has conferred on the United Kingdom the prestige of a nuclear-weapon state and has helped it to avoid the costs and instabilities arising from nuclear proliferation. Equally important, the cooperative international order represented by the NPT is seen as crucial to the United Kingdom’s security and its position in the world. At no time have British governments worried that the treaty might unduly constrain their security policies. On the contrary, the United Kingdom has generally welcomed the prospect of a strong NPT that progressively tightens its grip on state behavior even to the extent of drawing all states, itself included, toward nuclear disarmament. London does not have the history of ambivalence that one finds in Beijing and Paris.

During the 1990s, London attached still greater significance to the NPT and to multilateral arms control. Successive British governments shared the U.S. concept of a “new international order” resting on wide attachment to international norms and laws and welcomed the U.S. and Russian commitments to treaty-bound nuclear arms reductions. Further, unlike the shift in Washington, London’s attachment to multilateralism did not wane or become a battleground. On the contrary, the Labour government that took office in 1997 placed great weight on multilateral arms control when it published its 1998 Strategic Defence Review. Eager to avoid the divisions on nuclear weapons policy that had earlier caused such electoral damage to the Labour Party, Blair’s government sought a new consensus around the maintenance of a true minimum deterrent and active promotion of multilateral restraint.

The United Kingdom, therefore, had a good story to tell at the 2000 NPT Review Conference about the actions it had taken to meet its Article VI obligations. Its nuclear deterrent was being reduced to one weapon system (Trident) operated by one armed service (the British navy) with a ceiling of 200 operational warheads that were being taken off high alert.

Furthermore, the Blair government had secured Parliament’s ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), had ended production of fissile materials for weapons, was keen to negotiate a verifiable fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT), and was bringing all British nuclear reactors and enrichment and reprocessing facilities under international safeguards. London also had expressed a strong preference for the retention of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and negotiation of a third post-Cold War U.S.-Russian strategic arms treaty (START III).

Consequently, the United Kingdom did not hesitate to support the stronger commitments to nuclear disarmament expressed in the 1995 Principles and Objectives and 2000 Final Document. These agreements were consistent with its security goals and were regarded in London as natural outcomes of states-parties’ obligations to implement the treaty and to reinforce nonproliferation and disarmament norms. There was little suggestion, then or now, that these decisions were tactical moves that could later be ignored, as Paris and Washington have recently implied.

With the arrival of President George W. Bush’s administration, the Blair government found itself in a much less comfortable position. It was dismayed by U.S. moves away from multilateral arms control. Indeed, there was anger at U.S. undermining of arms control initiatives in which the United Kingdom had invested heavily (the Bush administration’s attempted destruction of the verification protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention being a notable example). London did not allow its displeasure, however, to upset its close relations with Washington. A pattern of behavior developed. While adopting a stance on arms control and on multilateralism at variance with Washington’s, the alliance with the United States was preserved even when the United Kingdom’s and its European partners’ multilateral objectives were being thwarted. The judgment had formed in Downing Street that the U.S. government could not be deflected from its chosen course. Opposition would therefore damage the transatlantic relationship without bringing tangible benefits. This judgment would lead the United Kingdom down the road toward siding with the United States in the Iraq war, despite grave misgiving in various parts of Whitehall.

After the shock of 9/11, however, the British perspective on proliferation shifted in the U.S. direction. The Blair government recognized that new actors had emerged with potential to cause untold damage if they gained access to weapons of mass destruction and that existing measures were insufficient to prevent the diffusion of relevant capabilities. Indicative of this shift was the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s Non-Proliferation Department’s change of title in 2002 to the Counter-Proliferation Department. This was accompanied by an increasing openness in London, induced partly by the desire to keep in step with Washington, to the use of all instruments of power to shift the behavior of aberrant actors, even if the United Kingdom continued to emphasize the role of diplomacy rather than war (Libya and Iran being held out as examples of what might still be achieved).

Still, the British government remained deeply uneasy, in private if seldom in public, with the aggressive and unilateral approach taken by the Bush administration. It disapproved of its unilateral abrogation of the ABM Treaty and abandonment of the START process, and its unease extended to the intransigent stance taken by the United States at the NPT Prepcom in April 2004.

A general election is expected to be held in the United Kingdom in May 2005 against the background of widespread public disillusion over the transatlantic relationship. Sensitive to electoral risks, there have been signs of some shift in Downing Street’s declared handling of relations with Washington. Efforts are being made to establish “clearer blue water” between British and U.S. policies and to demonstrate that Blair’s close association with Bush has yielded genuine influence over U.S. behavior. This has led in recent weeks to renewed emphasis on the differences between U.S. and British environmental policies and to Blair’s attempts to draw Bush into a stronger commitment to the Middle East peace process.

On nuclear policy, however, the Blair government is still reluctant to oppose the United States, notwithstanding the United Kingdom’s cooperation with France and Germany in striking a deal with Iran to freeze that country’s uranium-enrichment program.[1] Such reluctance was exemplified by the British government’s recent abstention in the UN First Committee’s vote on a verifiable FMCT,[2] a position taken despite strong objections within Whitehall to the verification-less FMCT that the United States now advocates. This decision displays the pitfalls of the British approach: although adopted on the grounds that “some FMCT is better than no FMCT,” it risks reinforcing the impression in other capitals that London is in thrall to Washington and can be used by the United States to divide the opposition.

The Likely Approach
Given its past history, its present diplomatic dilemmas, and the signals coming out of London, a likely British approach to the 2005 Review Conference can therefore be surmised.

Rather than advocating what other countries might do, London can be expected to stress its own Article VI achievements and commitments. Although its major initiatives were launched before 2000, there has been no retreat from the policies announced at the 2000 Review Conference. Attention also will be drawn to studies of disarmament verification techniques conducted by the British Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston, although probably without advocating their replication by the other nuclear-weapon states. A bolder government might sense an opportunity here; the Blair government, however, is unlikely to embarrass its fellow members of the nuclear club.

In an attempt to avoid confrontation with any of its key allies, London can be expected to encourage a spirit of compromise among states-parties, beginning with the major groupings to which it belongs. In particular, it will try (preferably in cooperation with France) to steer in a common direction the stances adopted by the nuclear-weapon states and by the European Union. It recognizes that consensus will be hard to achieve in either grouping. There may be particular difficulty reconciling the obviously conflicting interests and perceptions of the now 25 member states of the European Union, containing among them strongly pro-disarmament governments (including Ireland and Sweden) and a French government that has become increasingly allergic to any talk of disarmament. Shaping a consensus within Europe before the conference has begun could be the United Kingdom’s most significant diplomatic contribution.

London will highlight areas of policy on which there is already broad agreement, such as implementation of the 1997 Model Additional Protocol strengthening NPT safeguards, just as it may discourage proposals on which it sees little possibility of agreement, such as the strengthening of negative security assurances or creation of new institutional machinery to oversee the treaty.

In the time remaining before the 2005 Review Conference in May, London will support efforts to develop common proposals on vital but contentious issues. Among the proposals it would like to see are those governing the transfer of fuel-cycle technologies that can produce fissile materials. It would like such proposals to require verified compliance but not institute blanket denials of trade in such technologies. It does not favor the retreat from Article IV obligations recently advocated by the U.S. government.

Although London will try to focus attention on a forward-looking policy agenda, British diplomats can be expected to emphasize that they are not abandoning old agendas. On the status of the 2000 Final Document, for instance, they will probably emphasize that the document exists and deserves respect but that states-parties should not dwell on recommendations that have been made obsolete by events (the ABM Treaty being an example).

In all of its pronouncements, the British government can be expected to stress the need for unity of purpose in preserving this most vital of security treaties. It will not support the U.S., French, or any other government’s attempt to narrow that purpose or downplay the need for unity across a range of issues. Although the United Kingdom may have embraced the U.S. counterproliferation agenda, it will not welcome a diversionary strategy that focuses the main attention on noncompliant states. The British government holds to the view that the NPT is founded on reciprocal obligation and that its legitimacy will drain away if the treaty’s various provisions and bargains are not respected by all states.

Behind London’s increasingly troubled diplomacy lies a hard security reality: the British government wishes to keep open the medium- and long-term options either to sustain its nuclear deterrent or to discard it so that scarce resources can be used for other purposes. It has recently announced that discussions of Trident’s replacement will begin in the next Parliament. Although the government may lean toward replacement rather than elimination, the disarmament option is bound to be examined carefully and may find a surprising degree of support in a Ministry of Defence for which nuclear weapons are increasingly viewed as an expensive luxury. There is thus genuine political and military interest in London in achieving a stronger NPT-centered security order, partly so that it can at least contemplate nuclear disarmament. Yet, this interest cannot be openly expressed in the United Kingdom, let alone at the 2005 Review Conference, for fear of damaging the first option (maintaining the deterrent) and of setting various political hares running.

Furthermore, it is protection of that first option that places the United Kingdom in such a diplomatic pickle, for it knows that a nuclear force can only be retained at a tolerable cost if the U.S. president and Congress continue to sanction transfers of technology, including nuclear weapons know-how under the recently extended U.S.-UK Mutual Defense Agreement. Thus, sustaining the deterrent often drives the British government toward supporting U.S. policies even when it considers them antithetical to its political and security interests.

ENDNOTES

1. Paul Kerr, “Iran Agrees to Temporarily Suspend Uranium-Enrichment Program,” Arms Control Today, December 2004, pp. 26-28.

2. Wade Boese, “UN Nuclear Disarmament Debate Stalled,” Arms Control Today, December 2004, p. 39.

 

The United Kingdom on Key Nuclear Issues

Nuclear Warhead Arsenal: Fewer than 200 nuclear warheads total.

Latest Nuclear Force Developments: The United Kingdom announced in 1998 that it intended to maintain a minimum deterrent of four nuclear-armed submarines, of which only a single one would be on routine patrol at any given time.

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty: Signed September 24, 1996. Ratified April 6, 1998.

Fissile Material Production for Weapons: London announced in April 1995 that it no longer produces fissile material for weapons purposes. A longtime supporter of an “effectively verifiable” fissile material cutoff treaty, the United Kingdom, along with Israel, abstained from a vote calling for such an agreement at the 2004 UN First Committee.

Nuclear Use Doctrine: In May 2000, the United Kingdom reaffirmed a commitment not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states-parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty subject to certain conditions regarding their behavior and alliances. The United Kingdom is a member of NATO, which reserves the right to use nuclear weapons first in a conflict, although the 26-member alliance deems the possibility of nuclear use as “extremely remote.” London has stated it would only consider employing nuclear weapons in “extreme circumstances of self-defence.”

—COMPILED BY WADE BOESE

Sources: Arms Control Association, Institute for Science and International Security, Natural Resources Defense Council, and national governments.



William Walker is a professor of international relations at the University of St. Andrews, United Kingdom, and heads its School of International Relations. His Adelphi Paper, “Weapons of Mass Destruction and International Order,” was published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in December 2004.

Disarmament: Have the Five Nuclear Powers Done Enough?

Lawrence Scheinman

Article VI of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) calls on parties to the treaty to “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race...and to nuclear disarmament.” This article embodies not only a legal understanding but also a political expectation, particularly on the part of the non-nuclear-weapon states, who in signing the treaty, abjured acquiring nuclear weapons.

While recognizing that stemming nuclear proliferation would be in their national security interest and a good reason to join the NPT, they did not accept that the treaty distinction between nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon states should become permanent any more than they accepted that in forswearing nuclear weapons they would forfeit the “inalienable right” under Article IV of the treaty to “develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination…”

The NPT did not set out a timetable for achieving the goals of Article VI, but it was presumed and anticipated that as conditions in the international security environment permitted, progress would be made toward that end and that realization of nonproliferation objectives and success in efforts to stop the arms race would help to create the conditions for disarmament to proceed. The importance of nuclear disarmament to non-nuclear-weapon states-parties is evident from the fact that differences over disarmament issues was the reason why, in three of the six NPT review conferences held every five years since the treaty entered into force in 1970, consensus on a final document reporting the results of the conferences could not be reached.

Observers are concerned that a similar stalemate might occur at this year’s review conference. In recent years, the nuclear-weapon states, particularly the United States, have been sending mixed signals about their commitment to disarmament, at a time when they are calling on the international community to take steps that some non-nuclear-weapon states view as curtailing their rights under Article IV and other provisions of the treaty.

How Much Progress?
The concerns of the non-nuclear-weapon states have been heightened by the failure of the nuclear-weapon states to make greater progress on commitments they outlined at the two most recent review conferences. The 1995 Review Conference, the first to take place after the end of the Cold War, was also a conference to determine whether to extend the treaty indefinitely or for a fixed period or periods of time. At the treaty’s inception, the non-nuclear-weapon states had favored that it be limited in time in order to permit an assessment of whether it was serving their security needs, including whether the nuclear-weapon states were meeting their obligations under Article VI.

At the 1995 Review Conference, many nonaligned states argued against indefinite extension, convinced that a series of limited-duration extensions would provide a stronger basis for pressing the nuclear-weapon states on nuclear disarmament. The decision to extend the NPT indefinitely was taken in conjunction with two other decisions, one of which contained a set of agreed Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament. The objectives included: completion of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which bans nuclear tests, by 1996; commencement and early conclusion of negotiations on a nondiscriminatory and universally applicable convention banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices; and “determined pursuit by the nuclear weapon states of systematic and progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally, with the ultimate goal of eliminating those weapons, and of all states of general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.” In this manner, permanence was once again linked with accountability.

The 2000 NPT Review Conference, one of the most successful in terms of achieving consensus on a review of the past and projecting these goals into the future, translated the 1995 principles and objectives on disarmament into an action agenda of 13 steps for systematic and progressive efforts to implement NPT Article VI.

A number of these measures are today at the heart of differences between most NPT states and a small group of states-parties, in particular, the United States. These include—but are not limited to—early entry into force of the CTBT, which was rejected by the U.S. Senate in 1999; negotiation of a multilateral and internationally and “effectively verifiable” fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT), a goal the Bush administration views as not practical (see page 25); the application of the principle of irreversibility to nuclear disarmament; and whether the “unequivocal undertaking by nuclear weapon states to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament,”—hailed at the time as an important step forward—is unconditional (as most non-nuclear-weapon states insist) or qualified on achieving general and complete disarmament (as the nuclear-weapon states assert).

Also at issue is the proviso for diminishing the role of nuclear weapons in security policy. This has become a major concern in light of the George W. Bush administration’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR)—a strategic planning document that integrates nuclear weapons into broader aspects of U.S. defense planning—that was submitted to Congress in December 2001. Administration officials contend that the NPR diminishes the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. security policy by establishing a new triad in which reduced nuclear forces are only a part, along with enhanced conventional forces, active and passive defenses, and a defense structure capable of rapidly responding to changes in the security environment. Critics of the NPR, however, view it as reaffirming that nuclear weapons are a critical factor in U.S. defense capabilities in that it proposes exploring possible new weapons (robust deep earth penetrators and low-yield nuclear devices) believed to be more suited to the character of threats now confronting the United States, its allies and friends—all of which leads to conjecture whether nuclear weapons are shifting from deterrence to use.

It was always evident to many, if not all, that achieving nuclear disarmament would be a tall mountain to climb. Arms control and disarmament judgments are not made in a vacuum but in the context of national security interests that are informed by political assessments and conclusions. That context had begun to change in a positive direction even before the end of the Cold War, reflected in a series of unparalleled arms control agreements between the United States and the Soviet Union/Russian Federation. These agreements made deep cuts in the two nuclear superpowers’ arsenals beginning with the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), eliminating an entire class of weapons; followed by the 1991 START I, resulting in the verified reduction of thousands of strategic nuclear weapons; and culminating in the two states’ leaders agreeing to make reciprocal parallel unilateral reductions in 1991-1992 of theater nuclear weapons.

Matters took a quite different turn, however, in the aftermath of the events of September 11, 2001 that among other things brought into focus concern about the conjunction of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction and attention to the danger that “rogue states” might acquire nuclear weapons, harbor terrorists, and then arm the terrorists with these weapons. Disinclined to rely on multinational regimes and institutions that were seen as cumbersome and lacking decisiveness, the Bush administration chose to counter this perceived threat by unilateral means or, where necessary or appropriate, non-institutionalized multilateral arrangements.

The Bush doctrine has had a significant spillover impact on arms control and disarmament and potentially on the nonproliferation regime itself. The effect has been reflected in the three preparatory committee meetings (PrepComs) leading up to the forthcoming 2005 Review Conference. While far from ignored, disarmament shares the stage not only with nonproliferation but also increasingly with questions of treaty compliance and enforcement; terrorism and weapons of mass destruction; and, more recently, renewed attention to strategies for managing sensitive nuclear technologies that can provide to weapons-usable nuclear materials. The U.S. emphasis has been far from universally endorsed, and division over what issues should take center stage at the review conference stalled progress at the PrepComs, including the failure to draft an agenda for the conference.

The Shape of Things to Come
An indication of the contours of discussion and debate on nuclear disarmament in the forthcoming review conference also can be found in the deliberations of the First Committee of the UN General Assembly that concluded its activities in early November 2004. Two resolutions in particular are of interest: one sponsored by the New Agenda Coalition (NAC)[1] that in 2000 was the critical bridge between the nuclear-weapon states and the non-nuclear-weapon states, in particular the large body of states of the Non-Aligned Movement; and the other a resolution cosponsored by Russia and the United States.

The NAC resolution, a much scaled-back version of resolutions introduced at the 2002 and 2003 PrepComs, focused on a limited number of the 13 practical steps on which action was needed: early entry into force of the CTBT, negotiation of an effectively verifiable FMCT, cuts in nonstrategic nuclear weapons, diminishing the role of nuclear weapons in security doctrines, rejecting the development of new kinds of nuclear weapons, establishing a subsidiary body on nuclear disarmament in the Conference on Disarmament, and ensuring the principles of transparency and irreversibility in disarmament measures.

What is significant about this resolution is that for the first time it gained the support of eight NATO states, including Germany, Belgium, Norway, and the Netherlands, who had previously abstained on NAC resolutions. Only the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, joined by Israel and Latvia, voted against it. Speaking on behalf of the United States, the United Kingdom, and itself, France approvingly noted the pragmatic approach of the resolution. But the French representative criticized the resolution’s failure to take account of the progress that was being made toward nuclear disarmament. It also chided the resolution for not taking into account that the obligation of all parties to the treaty extends to nonproliferation as well as to disarmament—undoubtedly a reference to problems of noncompliance by non-nuclear-weapon states-parties.

By contrast, the Russian-U.S. resolution on Bilateral Strategic Nuclear-Arms Reductions (adopted without a vote), called for General Assembly acknowledgement of the contribution and importance of the Strategic Offensive Reduction Treaty to nuclear disarmament. The NAC, while acknowledging the contribution to disarmament of reduced deployments, underscored that reductions cannot replace irreversible cuts and destruction of nuclear weapons and looked forward to total elimination “in line with the obligations of the NPT.” The Non-Aligned Movement stated that the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty reductions do not meet the “unequivocal undertaking under Article VI of the NPT to accomplish the total elimination of…nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament.”

Which side is right in this dispute depends upon where one sits. From a U.S. perspective, Article VI obligations are being fulfilled despite new challenges to peace and security arising from the threat of catastrophic terrorism and despite NPT compliance failures by states-parties. Strategic doctrines that governed Cold War relations have given way to a new security strategy that diminishes the role of nuclear weapons in favor of conventional capabilities, and nuclear weapons stockpiles are being reduced commensurate with a changing security strategy.

This assertion is supported by some concrete actions by the Bush administration. As two well respected independent nuclear experts have noted, “as of January 2005, there are approximately 5,300 operational nuclear warheads in the U.S. stockpile, including 4,530 strategic warheads and 780 non-strategic warheads [and] almost 5,000 additional warheads have been retained in a ‘responsive reserve force’ or are in an inactive status with their tritium removed.”[2] Further, when the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty reaches its current termination date in December 2012, “the current stockpile of more than 10,000 nuclear warheads will be reduced to about 6,000.”[3]

To this is added a whole litany of steps taken since the end of the Cold War that the Bush administration can proffer to demonstrate U.S. compliance with its obligations under the NPT. Among them are removal of four missile submarines from strategic service; elimination of numbers of heavy bombers and missile silos; deactivation of “Peacekeeper” ICBMs—the most accurate ballistic missiles ever designed and fielded, all of which will be eliminated by October 2005; de-alerting of components of the nuclear triad of nuclear-armed aircraft, missiles, and submarines; and the longstanding termination of the production of fissile material for weapons purposes.

The other nuclear-weapon states also can point to measures they have achieved in line with Article VI and the 13 steps of 2000. Russia, the United Kingdom, and France have ratified the CTBT; France and the United Kingdom have taken steps making elements of their nuclear weapons systems consistent with the principle of irreversibility; and the United Kingdom and France have taken some steps toward reducing operational status of their weapons systems. China has committed to a policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons and, along with France and the United Kingdom, Beijing has ratified an Additional Protocol to its safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

However, a number of measures identified in the list of 13 practical steps have not been pursued, and in some cases there has been regression. For example, progress on an FMCT was blocked for five years by Chinese and Russian determination to tie negotiation of an FMCT to negotiations on measures intended to block an arms race in outer space. China’s nuclear weapons modernization activities and Russia’s reversal of its no-first-use doctrine and its reservation of the right to use nuclear weapons in response to a biological or chemical attack or any attack threatening the national security of the Russian Federation has called into question the commitment of those nuclear-weapon states to disarmament.

U.S. actions have drawn the most attention, however. The United States withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, provoking the Russians to prevent START II from entering into force. The Bush administration has also backed away from the 13 steps in its positions on the CTBT, the non-verifiability of an FMCT, and irreversibility as reflected in concluding a reversible Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty.

The U.S. position is that, although it no longer supports all of the 13 steps, it “unambiguously continues to support Article VI and the goal of nuclear disarmament…. We think it is a mistake to use strict adherence to the 13 steps as the only means by which NPT parties can fulfill their Article VI obligations. It is…important not to confuse the political consensus reflected by the 2000 Final Document with the legally binding obligations of the Treaty itself.”[4]

Two Sides of the Same Coin
Nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament are two sides of the NPT coin. When the treaty was negotiated, halting further proliferation was the immediate concern; achieving nuclear disarmament the longer-term goal. As noted earlier, progress on arms control and disarmament is predicated on the existence of a stable and secure political environment and a climate of trust. The end of the Cold War opened a new cooperative and constructive relationship between its two protagonists but did not bring an end to all tensions and conflicts.

Even as the end of the Cold War has permitted significant new disarmament steps, several nonproliferation challenges have emerged to confront the NPT regime, each of which has a sense of urgency: the failures of several parties to the treaty to comply with their commitments and undertakings; the emergence of transnational terrorists who would use weapons of mass destruction against civil society if they could acquire them; and the continued absence of four key states—Israel, India, Pakistan, and, to some degree, North Korea—from the treaty’s constraints. The urgency of these threats and concerns about the capabilities of the regime to confront them has eroded some confidence that the treaty will meet its nonproliferation aims.

Yet, rather than viewing the treaty’s disarmament obligations as an unwarranted nuisance at a time when these nonproliferation concerns have grown, the nuclear-weapon states should see them as useful tools, particularly in dealing with the terrorist threat. An FMCT (step 3) would reduce the availability of nuclear explosive materials, and in conjunction with programs to convert weapons-usable materials for use only in civil activities (a Cooperative Threat Reduction endeavor) would establish an even greater barrier to terrorist access. Activity in support of irreversibility (step 5), such as ensuring safe storage of warheads and fissile materials prior to and after dismantlement and removing nonstrategic nuclear weapons from harms way, would serve the same objective.

Finally there is the question of the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty. The United States and Russia have publicized the treaty as an important contribution to the disarmament process and a demonstration of their commitment to Article VI. The NAC considers the treaty an “important step in the right direction” but comments that “it does not require the destruction of these weapons, does not include tactical nuclear weapons and does not have any verification provisions. The process is neither irreversible, nor transparent.”[5]

The NAC statement can be seen as an indictment or as an opportunity. At this year’s review conference, states-parties will undoubtedly press the nuclear-weapon states to do more to implement and strengthen the NPT in all of its aspects, as evident from the NAC resolution in the UN General Assembly’s First Committee discussed earlier. Assuming that the Bush administration will not change its position on the verifiability of an FMCT or the CTBT, the United States and Russia could give consideration to building on the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, explicitly recognizing it as a basis for the future and not an end in itself. This could include giving consideration to possibly extending its life while striving to reach agreement on even lower numbers of nuclear weapons as well as extending the life of START I, with its verification provisions, beyond its current expiration date of 2009 with a view to considering how to build on those capabilities in order to promote transparency.

There is no doubt that the review conference should and will have to deal with the urgent challenges of compliance, terrorism, and nonproliferation. Still, the flip side of the NPT coin cannot be shortchanged at the risk of generating indifference, if not resentment, which would be costly not only to the success of the conference but to the long-run prospects for the NPT and global security.

ENDNOTES

1. The New Agenda Coalition was launched in 1998 by the foreign ministers of eight non-nuclear nations—Ireland, Brazil, Egypt, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Slovenia, and Sweden—with the purpose of pressuring the nuclear-weapon states to fulfill the obligation they undertook in Article VI of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to eliminate nuclear arsenals. The coalition officially consists of seven non-nuclear nations: Ireland, Brazil, Egypt, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and Sweden.

2. Norris, Robert S. and Hans Kristensen, “NRDC Nuclear Notebook,” Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, January/February 2005.

3. Norris, Robert S. and Hans M. Kristensen, “What’s Behind Bush’s Nuclear Cuts,” Arms Control Today, October 2004, pp. 6-12.

4. Statement of the Deputy, U.S. Representative to the Conference on Disarmament, Remarks to the Second Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2005 NPT Review Conference, May 1, 2003).

5. “Nonproliferation and Disarmament Go Hand in Hand,” International Herald Tribune, September 22, 2004.


The United States on Key Nuclear Issues

Nuclear Warhead Arsenal: Approximately 10,000 nuclear warheads total. As of July 2004, the United States reported it possessed 5,966 deployed strategic nuclear warheads under the terms of the START agreement. It also deploys 480 tactical nuclear weapons under NATO’s stewardship in six European countries.

Latest Nuclear Force Developments: In June 2004, the Bush administration announced it would cut the U.S. nuclear stockpile “almost in half” by 2012. At the same time, the administration has advocated research into new and modified nuclear weapons and worked to extend the lifespan of its existing warheads.

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty: Signed September 24, 1996. The Senate rejected the treaty in October 1999. The Bush administration says it has no plans to resume nuclear testing suspended in 1992, but it does not support the treaty and will not ask the Senate to reconsider it.

Fissile Material Production for Weapons: The United States announced a moratorium on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons in July 1992. Although the Clinton administration was the leading advocate of an “effectively verifiable” fissile material cutoff treaty, the Bush administration announced in July 2004 that a final agreement could not be “effectively verifiable.”

Nuclear Use Doctrine: The United States has pledged not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states-parties in good standing under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty unless they attack the United States in league with a state possessing nuclear arms. Top U.S. officials, however, have repeatedly hinted for more than a decade that Washington might respond with nuclear arms to a chemical or biological weapons attack, regardless of whether the attacker has nuclear weapons. In its secret September 2002 National Security Presidential Directive-17, the Bush administration stated explicitly that U.S. retaliation options for any type of weapon of mass destruction attack against the United States includes nuclear weapons.

—COMPILED BY WADE BOESE

Sources: Arms Control Association, Institute for Science and International Security, Natural Resources Defense Council, and national governments.



The 2000 NPT Review Conference
And the 13 Practical Steps: A Summary

At the 2000 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, states-parties agreed to take 13 “practical steps” to meet their commitments under Article VI of the NPT.

1. The early entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

2. A nuclear testing moratorium pending entry into force of the CTBT.

3. The immediate commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a nondiscriminatory, multilateral, and effectively verifiable fissile material cutoff treaty. The negotiations should aim to be concluded within five years.

4. The establishment in the Conference on Disarmament of a subsidiary body to deal with nuclear disarmament.

5. The principle of irreversibility to apply to all nuclear disarmament and reduction measures.

6. An unequivocal undertaking by nuclear-weapon states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

7. The early entry into force and implementation of START II, the conclusion of START III, and the preservation and strengthening of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

8. The completion and implementation of the Trilateral Initiative between the United States, the Russian Federation, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

9. Steps by all nuclear-weapon states toward disarmament including unilateral nuclear reductions; transparency on weapons capabilities and Article VI-related agreements; reductions in nonstrategic nuclear weapons; measures to reduce the operational status of nuclear weapons; a diminishing role for nuclear weapons in security policies; the engagement of nuclear-weapon states as soon as appropriate in a process leading to complete disarmament.

10. The placement of excess military fissile materials under IAEA or other international verification and the disposition of such material for peaceful purposes.

11. Reaffirmation of the objective of general and complete disarmament under effective international control.

12. Regular state reporting in the NPT review process on the implementation of Article VI obligations.

13. The development of verification capabilities necessary to ensuring compliance with nuclear disarmament agreements.

—COMPILED BY CLAIRE APPLEGARTH

 

 

 


Lawrence Scheinman is a distinguished professor of international policy at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University.

China: A Crucial Bridge for the 2005 NPT Review Conference

Li Bin

China’s unique nuclear philosophy, nuclear arsenal, and attitude toward nuclear nonproliferation mean that Beijing is likely to play a critical role at the 2005 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, serving as a vital bridge between the nuclear “haves” and the “have-nots.”

Among the five recognized nuclear-weapon states, China has the longest and deepest commitment to nuclear disarmament. For decades, Beijing has pressed for “a complete and thorough elimination of nuclear weapons” and consistently stressed the illegitimacy of the permanent existence of these arms, insisting that they will disappear if all the people in the world strongly oppose them.[1]

China has also sought to minimize the role of nuclear weapons in its military planning and diplomacy, contending that nuclear weapons have little military significance and the sole legitimate role of nuclear weapons should be the prevention of nuclear blackmail. For this reason, China has unconditionally committed not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states and has repeated the pledge at the preparatory meetings for the review conference.[2] Indeed, until recently, the Chinese government even challenged the legitimacy of nuclear deterrence, and it still criticizes the policy of nuclear deterrence based on the first use of nuclear weapons. And even though China has the smallest and least sophisticated arsenal of the five declared nuclear powers, China’s leaders have largely contended that efforts to significantly improve the quantity and quality of its nuclear weapons were not warranted.

China’s doctrine and practice in many ways echoes demands that non-nuclear-weapon states have long made: that the nuclear-weapon states need to do more to meet their commitments under Article VI of the NPT to make good-faith efforts toward disarmament. China’s doctrine also reflects the country’s unique status as the least wealthy member of the nuclear five and its sympathy to countries not aligned with either the United States or the Soviet bloc.

At the upcoming conference, the non-nuclear-weapon states, as they have done at every previous review conference, are sure to raise questions about how much the nuclear-weapon states have done to meet their Article VI commitment. If the nuclear “have-nots” are not satisfied with the explanations offered by the nuclear “haves,” their interest in abiding by and strengthening the nuclear nonproliferation regime might waiver. Coupled with technical and economic developments that have made it far easier to acquire nuclear capabilities, the possibility of widespread nuclear proliferation might become more likely.

On the other hand, if the five nuclear-weapon states are able to convince the non-nuclear-weapon states that they have indeed been meeting their commitments, a successful conference could ensure strengthening support for nonproliferation norms. China’s credibility with the non-nuclear-weapon states in this regard could play a crucial role in tipping the conference’s outcome toward success.

To be sure, China is still likely to feel some heat at the conference, even if the conduct of its nuclear weapons program is highly defensible. For example, China signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996 but has yet to ratify the treaty. China’s hesitancy stems less from technical than political obstacles. Chinese lawmakers would like to follow the example of the U.S. Congress in the late 1990s when it provided its advice and consent to ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention and approved implementing legislation. During consideration of that treaty, the U.S. Congress approved some treaty reservations and conditions that convinced Beijing that similar cautions might not be a bad idea when it comes to the CTBT.

China’s lack of transparency about its nuclear weapons program will certainly prompt some scrutiny. But China’s behavior is not without cause as it is in a more difficult position than some of the other nuclear powers: its small and lightly deployed nuclear force makes an easy target for an enemy armed with the right intelligence. This is why China is nervous about nuclear transparency, particularly public declarations about the number of nuclear weapons in its arsenal or the locations in which they are deployed. In the not-too-distant future China might be able to tackle this problem head on; efforts to make China’s nuclear force less vulnerable to a first strike through increased mobility may soon allow China to offer more quantitative transparency.[3]

Nonetheless, at the conference China will surely be pressed to explain whether its nuclear modernization program is aimed at building a large force with strong offensive and war-fighting capabilities—including multiple types of weapons with the ability to launch quickly—or retaining a small force while enhancing its safety and survivability. At the preparatory sessions for the review conference, China indicated that it had chosen the latter course and claimed that the Chinese nuclear program has been cut in the last decade. Such transparency is certainly welcome; as China has emerged in recent years as a major economic power, international concern has risen that it will devote substantial resources to boosting the size of its nuclear arsenal. China’s recent announcement that it has reduced its nuclear program, however, indicates that the size of China’s force is being dictated by political rather than economic judgments.

China’s emergence on the international stage is reflected in the evolution of some of its views on nuclear nonproliferation. China used to take a quite radical position on nuclear nonproliferation. Although it has been defined by the NPT as a nuclear-weapon state for decades, China did not accede to the treaty until 1992, calling it discriminatory for establishing a distinction between the nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon states.

In 1995, at its first NPT review conference after its accession, China began to coordinate its positions with the other nuclear parties. Since then, China’s nonproliferation policy has evolved. On the one hand, China still shares most views with the non-nuclear-weapon states on nuclear issues and supports almost all of their proposals in various disarmament and nonproliferation forums. It has also offered support for various nuclear-weapon-free zones. On the other hand, China has begun to feel that it is part of the nuclear club. It is now quite eager to join various export control regimes, which it previously labeled as unfair. It joined the Nuclear Suppliers Group in January 2004 and is seeking admission to the Missile Technology Control Regime. One likely side effect of this change is that China can no longer be expected to take the lead in pushing for some radical disarmament measures. For example, China will likely not press for nuclear disarmament within a particular timeframe, which could embarrass the other nuclear-weapon states.

At the conference, China can be expected to restate its traditional support for complete disarmament, its no-first-use pledge, and its assurances that it will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states. The fifth traditional policy is opposition to the weaponization of outer space.

But China can also be expected to advance some positions different from those it advocated at the 2000 NPT Review Conference. A significant change is that in 2003 China agreed on the establishment of the ad hoc committees at the Conference on Disarmament (CD) on a multilateral, nondiscriminatory and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other explosive devices. If the United States had not concluded in July 2004 that effective international verification of a fissile material cutoff treaty could not be realistically achieved, there would now be a great opportunity to bring the CD out of a deadlock that has stalled progress in that forum for many years.

In the documents issued by China and the speeches presented by Chinese officials, there appear new offers of nuclear disarmament. One is China’s opposition to tactical nuclear weapons and, indirectly, U.S. research on low-yield nuclear weapons. In a Chinese working paper,[4] China suggested that “no state should research into and develop low-yield easy-to-use nuclear weapons.” The above statement is the first time China formally and explicitly expressed its position on this matter and also represents a major step toward nuclear transparency.

China also has sought a ban on new nuclear weapons designs. At a 2003 conference aimed at bringing the CTBT into force, the head of the Chinese delegation, Ambassador Zhang Yan, suggested that the nuclear-weapon states should refrain from conducting research on new weapons designs.[5] At a NPT-related workshop in April 2004, Liu Jieyi, director general of the Arms Control and Disarmament Department of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, was more explicit.[6] He called on nuclear-weapon states “not to research into or develop new types of nuclear weapons.” China clearly is open to accepting a constraint over new nuclear weapons design, should the other nuclear-weapon states agree, or accepting such an interpretation of the CTBT.

Another proposal is China’s support for de-alerting nuclear weapons. In its working paper, China suggested that “the nuclear-weapon states should take all necessary steps to avoid accidental or unauthorized launches.” China did not specify how this would be done, but a rational way to do this is by de-alerting nuclear weapons. This is also in compliance with China’s nuclear philosophy. If China’s appeal receives positive feedback from the other nuclear states, it is possible that China would go further to issue a more explicit statement about its own nuclear weapon readiness.

China’s unique nuclear philosophy imposes some limitations. For example, China cannot join phased quantitative nuclear reductions. Since it already has a very small nuclear force, it does not make much sense to cut its arsenal step-by-step even if it has the political will to do so. For China, a more feasible approach might be to set a ceiling to be later followed by complete elimination. Still, China’s unique history—and future—means that its views and actions might prove important to making the 2005 NPT Review Conference a success rather than a failure.

ENDNOTES

1.. For discussion of China’s nuclear philosophy, see Cai Lijuan, “On Mao Zedong’s Nuclear Strategic Thought,” Masters Degree Dissertation, Tsinghua University, 2002.

2. “Fact Sheet: China: Nuclear Disarmament,” April 27, 2004. (For this and other statements see China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs at http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng)

3. Li Bin, “China's Nuclear Disarmament Policy,” Harold Feiveson et al., eds., “The Nuclear Turning Point—A Blueprint for Deep Cuts and De-alerting of Nuclear Weapons,” Brookings Institution Press, Washington DC, 1999, pp. 325-332.

4. Working Paper submitted by China, “On the Issue of Nuclear Disarmament and Reduction of the Danger of Nuclear War,” April 28, 2004.

5. “Statement by H.E. Ambassador Zhang Yan, Head of the Chinese Delegation at the Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty,” September 4, 2003.

6. “Statement by Mr. Liu Jieyi, Director General of Arms Control and Disarmament Department, Foreign Ministry of China, on Nuclear Disarmament and Security Assurances,” April 6, 2004.

 

China on Key Nuclear Issues

Nuclear Warhead Arsenal: Up to 400 warheads total.

Latest Nuclear Force Developments: China is engaged in a slow-paced, long-standing modernization of its strategic nuclear forces. U.S. intelligence assesses that China is developing mobile land-based, long-range ballistic missiles and is working to replace liquid-fuel ballistic missiles with solid-propellant models. The Pentagon estimated in May 2004 that China’s current estimated force of roughly 20 ICBMs could triple by 2010.

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty: Signed September 24, 1996. Chinese government officials have stated they fully support the treaty and are waiting on the National People’s Congress to approve the accord.
Fissile Material Production for Weapons: China has reportedly ceased production of fissile material for weapons purposes, although it has made no official announcement. China publicly supports negotiation of an “effectively verifiable” fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT). In October 2004, a high-ranking Chinese arms control official said Beijing was “studying in a serious manner” the U.S. proposal to negotiate an FMCT without verification mechanisms.

Nuclear Use Doctrine: China is the sole nuclear-weapon state to declare publicly that it will not be the first to use nuclear weapons.

—COMPILED BY WADE BOESE

Sources: Arms Control Association, Institute for Science and International Security, Natural Resources Defense Council, and national governments.



Li Bin is director of the Arms Control Program at the Institute of International Studies at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.

The 2005 NPT Review Conference: A French Perspective

Ambassador Jean-David Levitte

For France, the 2005 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference will need first and foremost to confirm the credibility of the NPT as one of the main elements of international peace and security and to demonstrate the efficiency of the review process against a backdrop of pressing challenges.

States-parties will have to restate that the goal of nuclear nonproliferation as established by the treaty remains their priority. We expect them to come up with proposals to solve the problems the NPT faces while respecting a balanced review of the three pillars of the treaty: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards and nonproliferation, disarmament, and peaceful uses for nuclear energy.

A number of ideas put forward this past year by France, other countries, and IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei will surely be considered in the course of the conference. These include proposals on noncompliance, controls over sensitive nuclear technologies, assurances of access to nuclear fuel, suspension of nuclear cooperation with countries violating their commitments, and withdrawal from the NPT. France will also pay great attention to the preservation of cooperation on peaceful uses. The role of nuclear energy for sustainable development should be highlighted in this context.

Important efforts by nuclear-weapon states in the field of nuclear disarmament since the end of the Cold War should also be underlined. Since its accession in 1992 and in response to an international situation characterized by the end of the Cold War and undeniable progress toward complete and general disarmament, France has made a series of major decisions aimed at implementing Article VI of the NPT, which calls for it and the four other nuclear-weapon states (the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, and China) to make “good faith” efforts toward nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament.

All told, since 1990, France has halved the number of nuclear delivery vehicles in its force, and the number of nuclear weapons systems is down from six to two. The share of nuclear forces in total French defence spending has dropped from 17 percent in 1990 to less than 9.5 percent in 2004. These numbers show that France has followed its declared doctrine of “strict sufficiency” in shaping its deterrent force, a key pillar of its security.

France is currently implementing the decisions it has made in the field of nuclear disarmament, such as dismantling the Pierrelatte and Marcoule facilities for producing fissile materials for nuclear weapons. France is alone among the nuclear powers in undertaking this long, complex, and costly process.

France has also adopted several measures from the guidelines outlined in the program of action after the 1995 review conference. That program’s three points were: conclusion of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT); negotiation of a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT); and a determination to press forward systematically and progressively toward the reduction of nuclear weapons as a whole and to work for general and complete disarmament.

France signed and ratified the CTBT and has taken steps to carry out all of its requirements even before the treaty has entered into force. Most importantly, France no longer has nuclear testing facilities. France is well aware, however, that the CTBT has still not entered into force and that hence the states-parties to the NPT have not yet fulfilled the spirit of Point One in the 1995 Program of Action. As a member of the European Union, France supports the Common Position of the Council (European Union Council of Ministers) on the universalization and reinforcement of multilateral agreements in the field of nonproliferation. The French government is also contributing actively to the work of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization Preparatory Commission.

France also supports launching negotiations on an FMCT at the Conference on Disarmament, but this effort in Geneva is stalled. As mentioned before, France no longer has facilities for the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons.

France supports the ongoing efforts to bring about a global reduction in nuclear arsenals. Most prominent among these are the efforts of the United States and Russia, notably through the implementation of the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT). The number of nuclear weapons in the arsenals of these two countries is out of all proportion to the other nuclear-weapon states. Where operationally deployed strategic offensive nuclear weapons are concerned, their reduction to 2,200 or even fewer warheads between now and 2012 will represent an unprecedented step in its scope.

Moreover, France is participating in concrete actions beyond its borders. In particular, it is committed to contribute to Russia’s plutonium disposition program, within the framework of an agreement now being negotiated within the Multilateral Plutonium Disposition Group. This agreement will augment a 2000 agreement between the United States and Russia in which each country agreed to dispose or convert to civilian use 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium. This project is being undertaken within the framework of the Global Partnership of the Group of Eight, to which France has pledged to contribute 750 million euros.

Pursuant to Article VI of the NPT, France is also working for general and complete disarmament. It is active in all areas of disarmament. It is a party to the Biological Weapons Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the Ottawa Convention on the prohibition of anti-personnel mines and to several agreements in the conventional sphere. France adhered to the Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation. France is making constant efforts to secure the implementation, universalization, and strengthening of these instruments.
One other important path to nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation lies in the regional approach, through peace efforts in South Asia and in the Middle East and, where regional conditions permit, through nuclear-weapon-free zones.

Lastly, France has given negative security assurances to more than 100 countries in treaty form. It has also given negative security assurances to all NPT states-parties through a declaration on April 6, 1995. This commitment is consistent with the right of legitimate self-defense as recognized in Article 51 of the UN Charter. States that violate their nonproliferation commitments cannot claim protection under these assurances.

One must also underline the role of positive security assurances that, in the same ways as negative security assurances, provide a guarantee against the use of nuclear weapons to those non-nuclear-weapon states that respect their obligations.

Since its accession to the NPT in the early 1990s, France has fulfilled its commitments in good faith, through a series of gestures whose scale is well known to all NPT states-parties. Our efforts have been made in response to the strategic situation; to the threats to our country, Europe, and our allies; and to the progress in general toward complete disarmament and in the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.

Yet, we know now that, over the same period, certain states have engaged in clandestine nuclear programs. NPT states-parties all placed their confidence in collective security and respect for nonproliferation commitments by other states-parties. The revelations of recent months about nuclear proliferation crises and the networks supplying them have made clear the extent of the threat to the security of each one of us presented by the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

We all understand the prime challenges facing the NPT today if it is to remain a credible instrument in preserving world peace and security. Although efforts to implement the various aspects of Article VI continue, it is imperative to restore confidence in the NPT’s equilibria.

Given the current context of proliferation crises, success at the 2005 NPT Review Conference will rest on the quality of debates, demonstrating that the review process can adequately address the challenges to the NPT, and on the ability of the conference to agree on substantive measures to answer these challenges.

France wishes to participate in a serious, rigorous, and balanced review process of the implementation of the treaty. Achieving consensus on documents is important in this regard, and we hope we will be able to reach in 2005 a result acceptable to all.

 

France on Key Nuclear Issues

Nuclear Warhead Arsenal: Approximately 350 warheads total.

Latest Nuclear Force Developments: France decided in 1996 to eliminate the land-based component of its nuclear triad. Paris is currently moving toward replacing its submarine-launched ballistic missile with a new model.

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty: Signed September 24, 1996. Ratified April 6, 1998. France dismantled its nuclear testing center by July 1998.

Fissile Material Production for Weapons: French President Jacques Chirac declared in February 1996 that France no longer produces fissile material for nuclear weapons. He also pledged that France would dismantle its fissile material production facilities for arms. France publicly supports negotiation of an “effectively verifiable” fissile material cutoff treaty, although it reportedly may be receptive to a recent U.S. proposal on concluding an agreement without a verification regime.

Nuclear Use Doctrine: In May 2000, France reaffirmed its 1995 pledge not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states-parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Paris does not rule out the first use of nuclear weapons.

—COMPILED BY WADE BOESE

Sources: Arms Control Association, Institute for Science and International Security, Natural Resources Defense Council, and national governments.




France's Nuclear Disarmament Actions

September 1991:
Announcement of the early phasing out of Pluton tactical surface-to-surface missiles and AN-52 gravity bombs

August 1992:
France ratifies the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

November 1992:
Cessation of production of plutonium for nuclear weapons

January 1996:
Final nuclear test

February 1996:
Announcement of the closing of the Pierrelatte and Marcoule facilities for the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons and of the Pacific test site; announcement of reduction in the number of ballistic missile nuclear submarines from five to four; announcement of the end of the Mirage IV’s nuclear mission; announcement of the abandonment of the surface-to-surface component of the nuclear forces through the standing down and destruction of the Hadès and S3D surface-to-surface missiles

June 1996:
Cessation of production of highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons

September 1996:
Signing of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, ratified in April 1998

September 1997:
Announcement that no part of its nuclear deterrent forces was aimed at a particular target

April 2003:
Ratification of an additional protocol to its safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency


Ambassador Jean-David Levitte is France’s ambassador to the United States. He has also served as France’s permanent representative to the United Nations and President Jacques Chirac’s senior diplomatic adviser.

Nonproliferation Through Disarmament

Daryl G. Kimball

Sixty years after the first atomic bombings, some 40 countries have the know-how to produce nuclear weapons. If it is true that the nuclear genie cannot be put back in the bottle, why aren't there dozens of nuclear-armed states? The decades-long global struggle against nuclear proliferation has largely succeeded because the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) established effective nonproliferation and disarmament rules and standards.

The treaty and associated measures make it far more difficult for the non-nuclear states to acquire the material and technology needed to build such weapons. Equally important, it commits the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China to pursue nuclear disarmament and has led them to pledge not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear NPT members, thereby reducing the salience of nuclear weapons and the motives for other states to acquire them.

At the 1995 NPT Review Conference, the reaffirmation of the nuclear-weapon states' disarmament obligations was essential to the indefinite extension of the treaty. At the 2000 Review Conference, states-parties went even further, agreeing to a 13-point action plan, including bringing into force the treaty banning nuclear testing, making future nuclear arms reductions irreversible and verifiable, and negotiating a verifiable cutoff of fissile material production for weapons.

As the May 2005 NPT Review Conference approaches, progress on nuclear disarmament is as essential to winning the struggle against proliferation as ever. Sadly, the nuclear-weapon states' recent disarmament record is mainly one of lost opportunity and inaction.

Most disturbing are the brazen claims of senior Bush administration officials that disarmament commitments made at previous review conferences no longer apply. Washington is also actively opposing or sidestepping the most important disarmament measures. As a result, states-parties are divided about how to strengthen the treaty. Leading states, including many U.S. allies, are calling on Washington to revise its policies and adopt a more balanced and productive approach.

President George W. Bush opposes entry into force of the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which would impede development of new types of nuclear warheads by existing nuclear powers and would-be proliferators. China and other key CTBT hold-outs have followed suit by delaying ratification.

Adding insult to injury, Bush has approved a military strategy that calls for new nuclear capabilities designed to enhance the credibility and range of options for the possible use of nuclear weapons. Not only has the United States initiated research on new, more “usable” nuclear weapons, but Russia claims it is developing a more advanced nuclear delivery system.

China continues to slowly modernize its nuclear arsenal of approximately 400 warheads, while France and the United Kingdom are considering nuclear force modernization. Maintaining and expanding reliance on nuclear weapons only undermines nonproliferation efforts by suggesting to other states that nuclear weapons are necessary for their security.

Stalled for years by China, negotiations on the fissile material cutoff treaty are now blocked by U.S. opposition to a verification system. The stance is short-sighted and self-defeating. Such a treaty is effectively verifiable and would lock in the production freeze observed by the NPT's five nuclear-weapon states. It would also cap the supply of bomb material available to NPT holdouts India, Israel, and Pakistan.

The United States and Russia will cite their progress toward securing Soviet-era weapons-usable material and dismantling weapons banned under the 1991 START agreement. While important, their efforts reflect commitments made a decade ago.

They will also tout their newest arms reduction pact, which will reduce their stockpile of deployed strategic weapons. But contrary to arms reduction goals of the 1990s, the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty does not require the verifiable destruction of warheads or their delivery vehicles and will allow each side to maintain massive strategic nuclear arsenals of 5,000 warheads or more past 2012—about 10 times the size of any other states' current nuclear stockpile.

U.S. and Russian leaders have also failed to discuss how they might reduce their so-called tactical nuclear weapons, which total at least 4,000. Greater Russian reliance on such weapons combined with NATO states' reluctance to part with the 480 U.S. tactical warheads based in Europe impedes progress.

Although NPT member states will not likely reach consensus on a new disarmament action plan at the next review conference, they cannot afford to retreat from their past commitments. At a minimum, NPT states must reaffirm their common nuclear disarmament goals, examine how to achieve them, and agree to resume progress on further, specific measures to halt and reverse the nuclear arms race.

By itself, progress on nuclear disarmament will not hold back proliferation. But in the long run, the number of countries with nuclear weapons cannot be held in check if the United States and the other nuclear-weapon states do not hold up their end of the NPT bargain.

Editor's Note

Miles A. Pomper

The nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) regime has been held together for nearly four decades by a central bargain between countries that have nuclear weapons and those that do not. In return for swearing off atomic weaponry, non-nuclear-weapon states have extracted a commitment from the nuclear-weapon states to make good-faith efforts toward nuclear disarmament.

This month, in our second installment of a continuing series of articles examining the challenges confronting the nonproliferation regime, we look at the progress made by the five nuclear-weapon states—the United States, Russia, China, France, and the United Kingdom—in meeting their NPT Article VI disarmament commitments.

In our cover story, Lawrence Scheinman says that the nuclear–weapon states, particularly the United States, have been sending mixed signals about their commitment to disarmament. He suggests some steps, such as the strengthening of a 2002 U.S.-Russian arms control agreement to provide much-needed energy to a slowing disarmament process and a flagging nuclear nonproliferation regime.

Writing from Russia, Alexei Arbatov likewise outlines a series of steps that the nuclear-weapon states, particularly the United States and Russia, could pursue to construct a new approach. But he says that what is first needed is a willingness to acknowledge that old notions of nuclear deterrence are less useful in a post-Cold War, post- 9/11 world and to place a stress on greater cooperation.

Three experts take a look at the record of their countries in meeting their Article VI obligations and the likely strategies their countries will employ at the NPT Review Conference this spring. Jean-David Levitte, France’s ambassador to the United States, notes that France has taken several steps to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in its arsenal and says his country wants to see a “serious, rigorous, and balanced” review of the treaty’s implementation. Li Bin, a Chinese scholar, points out that China’s unique nuclear doctrine allows it to play a crucial role as an intermediary between the nuclear “haves” and “have-nots.” And William Walker, a scholar at St. Andrews University in Scotland, examines how the United Kingdom finds itself caught between the Bush administration’s approach to nuclear disarmament and its own inclinations.

In a related article, John Carlson, a senior Australian government official, looks at another thorny issue: how to verify and cobble together a treaty that would end new production of weapons-related plutonium and highly enriched uranium.

When diplomats from these countries gather in New York in May they are certain to claim that their countries have made good on their Article VI commitments. But as the articles in this issue all make clear, when it comes to discouraging other countries from acquiring nuclear weapons, the five nuclear-weapon states’ actions now and in the future will say more to the rest of the world than their words.

"Repairing the Nonproliferation System"

Sections:

Body: 

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Hans Blix

Wednesday, January 25, 2006
12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m.

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Washington, D.C.

Transcript by
Federal News Service,
Washington , D.C.
(Edited by the Arms Control Association)

DARYL G. KIMBALL: Ladies and gentlemen, if I could please have your attention. Thank you very much. I hope everyone is enjoying their lunch today. We’re running a little behind schedule, and I wanted to get us back on schedule.

For those who were not at the morning session, I’m Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. I want to thank the Arms Control Association members and our Arms Control Today subscribers, in particular, for coming here today. We do this annually. We have not been doing it for 35 years, but I think the tradition began under our former executive director, Spurgeon Keeny. We are going to try to continue it. We will be celebrating our 35 th anniversary at another event later this year, which we will notify you all about.

My job here is to get out of the way so that we can move on to the main event. To introduce our luncheon speaker today is our very own board of director chairman, John Steinbruner. He has been a leader of the Arms Control Association now for many years and a very helpful friend to me and the staff in keeping the ship above water and going in the right direction.

John, please come to the podium.

JOHN STEINBRUNER: As I’m sure all of you are quite aware, Hans Blix has long been one of the most prominent members of the international community dealing with controlling weapons of mass destruction. We are very pleased that he is going to talk with us in this regard.

As [International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)] director-general and later as head of the [United Nations Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC)], he participated in a process that did eradicate the Iraqi nuclear weapons program and provided us, we now realize, with an accurate account of the resulting situation.

I think when all the political dust settles, as presumably eventually it will, that should be recognized as a major accomplishment. And I, at any rate, and I think many other people are grateful for that.

He is currently chairman of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission that the Swedish government has formed, and he is to soon issue a report informing us and inspiring us as to where to go next with this general problem, and I’m sure we all look forward to it.

We are pleased that Randy Rydell, on loan from the Under-Secretary General’s Office for Disarmament Affairs, is at the Arms Control Association helping him with this report and reflecting, I think, the interest of the Arms Control Association and the general obligations under the [nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT)]. I personally hope that this report will encourage people to understand, better than they currently do, that the traditional regulation of nuclear weapons—the traditional arms control agenda if you will—the control of proliferation, and the current obsession with terrorism are not separate subjects. If you are going to deal with one, you are going to have to deal with all three, rather more systematically than we are currently doing. I hope maybe Hans Blix could instruct us along these lines.

Anyway, I will give you the main event here and, again, we appreciate your coming. (Applause.)

HANS BLIX: I know that it is obligatory to start before an American audience with a story so I will do that about a Swedish man who came to heaven and he was told that the custom was that everyone must tell a story of his life or an important event in his life. He then recalled that he had been participating in a rescue operation when a Swedish lake flooded and he had saved several cats and even a number of other items. So he said I will tell the story about that. He was told, “Yeah, well, that is fine, but remember that Noah is in the audience.” (Laughter.) I feel a little like that in this room. I will tell you a story, but there are many Noahs in this room.

I’m glad to have the opportunity to address this expert audience, and I would like to voice my congratulations on the 35 years. I have solid admiration for the association and on the plane over I think that I read every line in the latest issue of your journal, which I think was superb. I learned quite a lot from it.

I left UNMOVIC in New York at the end of June 2003. It was taken over then by my head of operations and deputy, Demetrius Perricos, whom I think has done an excellent job. Obviously, UNMOVIC has shown that it could still make a lot of useful contributions. The question is whether it will survive this summer. I think the Security Council could have good use of a small standing group of experts whom it could draw on and could set up teams of inspectors at very short notice rather than having to recruit them for a longer period of time. UNMOVIC still trains inspectors who are on rosters and I think they could be of good use. Whether that will be the case or not, I do not know.

Now, since 2004, I have been chairing a commission on weapons of mass destruction. It was not selected by the Swedish government. They have financed it kindly. But they gave me a totally free hand in selecting the members, and I have done so. We expect to come with a report here in May 2006. At that time, I hope you will hear more about it. It will be about 50 to 60 recommendations, concrete ones, and they are still in the making. I will not reveal what they are.

Why another report, you may ask? There have been others. Well, the world changes. We must update our thinking at all times. Since 1990, we have had the end of the Cold War. We have had 9/11. We had the experience in Iraq. So what is the situation now? Well, in my view, and I think your view, it is certainly not a rosy one. In the bipolar world of the Cold War, there were lots of important U.S. and Soviet bilateral agreements. There were also global regimes, which were growing; a sort of fabric of global regimes, which tied to each other and which also tied up with the United Nations, the system laid down for collective security.

At the end of the Cold War, there were high hopes. You remember how President Bush the elder said that there was a new international order after the successful intervention in Iraq in 1991. We had the Chemical Weapons Convention after 20 years of negotiations. We had the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty signed. We had a mandate for a [fissile material] cutoff agreement. We had agreements within the U.S. and Russia about doing away with redundant military stocks. And we had the so-called trilateral agreement between the U.S., Russia, and the IAEA about inspection of supplies of plutonium and highly enriched uranium that had become redundant.

We were cheered by the collapse of Soviet communism. Many regional conflicts, many of them by proxy, disappeared. It was a hopeful period. But then came the disappointments. Perhaps the high point of hope was the 1997 Helsinki Summit and the framework for a START III agreement between Yeltsin and Clinton. Instead, what we have seen since are casualties. We saw how the Helsinki framework collapsed, how the [Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM)] Treaty was ended, how the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was killed in the U.S. Senate, how we did not get a cutoff agreement, and how the Biological Weapons Convention [remains] without any agreement on verification. Then, we had 9/11, which has had a tremendous influence and still has, in my view. The result, it seems to me, is that the U.S. has become less keen on arms control and less keen on verification, at least for itself. The very term arms control seems to have disappeared in the latest reorganization of the State Department, which only talks about nonproliferation and security, whereas arms control existed at one time.

Indeed, perhaps it is even worse. We are going perhaps in reverse. The missile shield is a new problematic element in the international context. The growing discussion and preparations for the use of space, not only militarily, but perhaps also the stationing of weapons is an evolution that certainly will provoke some reactions, and already have provoked reactions from the Russian and the Chinese side. One has the feeling of an expounded militarization in the great states. In the U.K, there is discussion about what is to succeed the Trident [submarine-launched ballistic missile]. It seems fairly clear that the British government with a good deal of support from the Labour Party actually will want to have a continuation of Trident. Exactly how is not clear. They say it is going through the Parliament, but there will be a continuation.

[French President Jacques] Chirac, the other day, came out and talked also about the potential usefulness of [ France’s] nuclear potential. There certainly seems to be no walking away or walking back from the nuclear capability in the U.K. and French cases.

The nuclear doctrines also seem to widen the choice of nuclear for military purposes. They widen it in saying that nuclear weapons could be used as deterrent against and perhaps retaliation for use of biological and chemical weapons, other weapons of mass destruction. The Russians are now taking the role of the Western Europeans and saying that if they are met with and threatened by overwhelming conventional forces, which they see on the Western side, they might also be even the first to use nuclear weapons. We hear talk about news of nuclear arms, even about terrorists, the bunker busters, which fortunately were still rejected by the U.S. Congress, as reported in your journal.

Now all this cannot but give some encouragement to others also to go for nuclear weapons. Some, I say, because I think that all countries, however upset they may be about what they see as a double standard, nevertheless will be chiefly influenced by what they consider to be their security situation. That, I think, is not going to lead to a cascade of nuclear-weapon states, an expression that has been used in some contexts.

So we have a reverse, I think, in the field of arms control and disarmament. We also have a stalemate in the international forum. The Conference on Disarmament in Geneva is without even an agenda. They have to use the consensus for it, [but have not managed that for nearly] ten years.

The NPT Review Conference in May 2005 ended in bitterness and absolutely no agreement. The [UN General Assembly Millennium + 5] summit last autumn ended without a single line about nonproliferation or disarmament.

On nonproliferation, which is a central area, there are two perspectives. There is the perspective of some who put an emphasis on Iraq’s breach of the NPT, North Korea’s breach in leaving the NPT, Libya, Iran, and talk about the cascades of the future, which I think is an exaggeration and hype.

On the other hand, I should point out that South Africa walked back. We had a successful solution to the problem in the [former] Soviet Union where Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus did not inherit nuclear weapons.

We have the other perspective from many other states-parties to the NPT that point to the fact that they feel cheated by the 1995 commitments that were made in the context of the extension of the NPT from 25-year validity to an [indefinite] validity. There were a number of commitments made, which since have been brushed aside as from a different era. They feel cheated. Naturally, the enthusiasm [for], the embracement of the treaty has been weakened.

On the scene of the UN and world security, we have seen [former Representative Newt] Gingrich, who was the co-chairman of the congressional committee on UN [reform], had an article entitled A Limited UN is Best for America.

I read the U.S. national defense strategy published by the Department of Defense. I read these cheerful notes. The first one [stated] the end of the Cold War and our capacity to influence global events opened the prospects for a new and peaceful state system in the world. Well, I think that is benevolent and cheerful. But the same strategy also says our strength as a nation-state will continue to be challenged by those who employ a strategy of the weak, using international fora, judicial processes, and terrorism. So I conclude that the esteem for international organizations, including I would assume the United Nations and judicial processes, is not very high when they are lumped together with terrorism and in the main seen as obstacles.

Now, am I thinking pessimistic about the future? Well, there are different lines of development possible. If the U.S. would seek to increase its domination to become what the French call the hyper-power, I fear there may be increasing controversies with China about the Pacific because Taiwan certainly is a flashpoint that is serious; space militarization, competition in space—yes.

There could be another line in which the U.S. and the rest of the world will seek more accommodation and cooperative security and welcome globalization and the fact that a billion Chinese get a higher standard of living and that development is very fast in India. I, for one, think it is wonderful. They have had enough of hardship.

We could also take some consolation in looking backward, not only to the end of the Cold War, but further back. There were only 20 years before the First and the Second World Wars, and we have had 60 years now since the end of the Second World War. The United Nations is 60 today. The League of Nations only became 20 years old and [ACA] is 35.

We also have studies showing that there are fewer wars now; that there are 40-percent less armed conflicts since the end of the Cold War. Many of these conflicts that took place were conflicts by proxy. The wars we have are mostly civil wars. There are also fewer killed in wars than there used to be. So these are hopeful times.

I think that the absence of territorial conflicts in the world and the absence of any ideological clashes are hopeful signs—very different from the Cold War. I’m grateful that I survived the Cold War to see these possibilities for the future.

I am more worried for the longer term, I must confess, of the environmental threats to the world. Mankind developed great capacity for nations to destroy each other. Now they are joining hands to destroy the environment of the world. I saw in the U.S. today that last year was the warmest they had recorded in history.

I also worry about the hyping and the spinning that takes place in international affairs. I read somewhere the saying from Lincoln that you can fool some people all of the time and all of the people sometime but not all of the people all the time. That is not happening nowadays. They consider this as far too pessimistic a view. (Laughter.)

The public relations gurus who sit in their cabinets—near the cabinets at any rate—in the big cities, in the big capitals, they too know that. It leads to a very smart management of media. Of course the world is big and they do not manage everybody, but there is a fair amount of this going on.

You have the wild debate here about the intelligence [about Iraq] and who failed and who succeeded and who was closer to the truth. But there is very little I see in the U.S. press about the fact that [IAEA Director-General] Mohamed ElBaradei before the war in Iraq said the yellow cake-story, the contract between Niger and Iraq, was a forgery. I sat on the Security Council when he said it was a forgery. Well, he used diplomatic language, “it was not authentic.” (Laughter.)

And there is relatively little talk about the fact that we carried out 700 inspections at 500 different sites before the war and we said to the Security Council and to the Americans and the British that we found no weapons of mass destruction. Now, out of these places that we visited—and this is highly significant—there were about three dozen sites, which were given to us by intelligence in different countries, and in none of them did we find any weapons of mass destruction. We found some conventional ammunition in one, a stash of documents in other place, et cetera, but no weapons of mass destruction.

One of the points of the “Butler Committee” that examined the shortcomings of the [pre-war] British intelligence was that they felt that after the revelations and after the reports of UNMOVIC and of the IAEA, the British ought to have reevaluated that intelligence.

My belief is that if we had been allowed to continue with inspections for a couple of months more, we would then have been able to go to all of the sites which were given by intelligence. And since there were not any weapons of mass destruction, we would have reported there were not any. This ought to have given them some thought about the reliability of their sources. Whether it would have prevented the invasion I’m less affirmative about. But it would have been certainly more difficult. There was a momentum in this. A the end of the February and the beginning of March when you have a couple hundred thousand people sitting in the desert that is a momentum itself. You have to take a decision. Either you find a big event and you call it off or you have to move forward. I think that at the very end we were irrelevant. The momentum had caught on and it was too late.

Now, I worry a bit about this spin and momentum on Iran. My starting point is that it is important to induce Iran to forgo enrichment. But I’m not sure that further probing of the intentions of Iran, which might be divided in different groups— Iran is not Iraq—will be very useful if indeed safeguards came up with some documents that show that, yes, they had the plans to do so. Well, that would be a breach of the NPT and that would be a sensation.

But if we find no evidence, can we then exclude completely that there was [never] such intention? And if there was not, they could change their intention in two years. So I think the important thing is that starting and going for [enrichment] cascades in a couple of years they would have the option to do so. The starting of enrichment would bring [ Iran] two years closer perhaps to the option of going for nuclear weapons.

The lead time would be short term and that would be a serious matter in terms of tensions in the Middle East. So I’m decidedly in favor of seeking to induce Iran to stay away from [enrichment]. I would say to them, “Yes, we admit that you have the right to enrich.” I would not try any legal acrobatics, but I would say, “Yes, there is a right to do so for peaceful purposes, but one does not need to exercise every right one has in this world.” One can stay away from exercising a right if it brings other advantages or if it were to bring disadvantages.

Hence, I think that the most important point is to construct a package that will bring not only disadvantages, not only the threat or the stick, but carrots. We have heard a lot about the sticks. There have been some carrots. I thought it was very good when the U.S. came last year and said that they could support the entrance of Iran into the World Trade Organization and could even import spare parts for Boeing planes, which was nice.

But what has been missing, I think, in this package has been the security aspects of it. I cannot help but compare the approach that has been taken with regard to North Korea and that that has been taken vis-à-vis Iran. Now, in North Korea, as I read the media, they have been promised commitments for no attack against North Korea either with conventional or with nuclear means, and that there also would be an opening for diplomatic relations with Japan and with the United States. We have seen nothing similar in the case of Iran.

I noticed that [U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs] Nicholas Burns said that there was not an ambition for regime change. I think that is good; that is fine. Regime changes, we know, from the outside are not that much of a panacea. So I think they should contemplate similar offers to Iran as they have to North Korea.

Now, what about the fora? There is now a drift to the Security Council. Well, it might have the benefits that you get the U.S., the Russians, and the Chinese at the same table. In the case of North Korea after all, we have them together with Japan and the Koreans at the table. That may be an advantage. But I do not think it’s so much the forum for the discussions that are important as the contents of the package that is presented to them.

And, I think, [it] is also a bit inevitable [that it will be sent] to the council once they have held out this as a promise. They do not want to appear like paper tigers by doing something else. The further inquiries by the IAEA have served to slow the procedure somewhat, but I think prestige is an important part of it. In the case of the North Koreans, they are a country that has nuclear weapons. They are discussing outside the Security Council and outside immediate threats. So there is a big difference.

Now, as you know, there have been a good deal of ideas put forward about the [nuclear] fuel cycle. I think they have been prompted very much by the cases of North Korea and Iran; enrichment in Iran and reprocessing in North Korea. I was in North Korea in 1992 and I asked them, “Why do they reprocess? What do they want plutonium for?” They said, “Well, you know, we may want to have a breeder reactor one day.” A very likely story. (Laughter.)

But remember that there was not much fuss about this. If the North Koreans had declared honestly how much they had reprocessed and how much plutonium they actually had, I do not think there would have been much fuss in 1992, despite the fact that one would know that they would get more and more plutonium. So there has become a greater awareness of this risk and I think that is good. It does contain risks.

Now, the thought I have is that the proposals we have seen about the fuel cycle may be well intentioned, and maybe they will lead to some results. But I think it is going to be a very difficult way; the idea of having a fuel bank. Countries that refrain from or renounce enrichment can turn to the bank and they will be allocated [nuclear fuel]. Well, who will sit on the bank board? Will there be a veto? Will they decide who gets enriched uranium and who does not? And, if you made some error in the safeguards report, is that something that will disqualify a country from further allocations of enriched uranium for the fuel for their reactors? I do not say that it is impossible, but I think there are a good deal of difficulties in that way. I think they should be explored.

But I have another idea. Maybe one could think of limitations on the fuel cycle in specific areas. I mean there can be regional arrangements both for enrichment and for reprocessing. But there could also be another kind. Remember that in the denuclearization agreement between North Korea and South Korea in 1992 that there was an element which said there would be neither enrichment nor reprocessing; either in North Korea or South Korea. Fine. I think that will be another element in a new agreement if one is reached.

Now, how about the Middle East? Could one not try something similar in the Middle East? We have for long been talking about a nuclear-weapon-free zone for the Middle East with UN resolutions voted year after year in this respect. We also know that we need a peaceful settlement in the Middle East before you can get anywhere. But what about some commitment to stay away from the fuel cycle, from enrichment or reprocessing?

That, of course, would commit the Iranians from staying away from enrichment, but also all of the others: Syria, Iraq, Egypt, et cetera. But also on reprocessing; it is only Israel that reprocesses at the present time. I assume that they have enough bombs and that they would not be touched by such an arrangement, but maybe they could take a step by committing to no further reprocessing. That would at least be a [cap] on the amount of plutonium that [could be used for weapons].

This may sound to many as a wild idea but I was encouraged to see a report about a study commissioned by the Pentagon called Getting Ready for a Nuclear-Ready Iran that [recommends]—I have not seen the report itself—that Israel should take small, reversible steps toward nuclear disarmament. Well, I think, this would be one. The psychological impact of such a thing, I think, would be interesting because it can be seen by the Iranians as a step toward a more distant goal.

Now, for the world, as I said, I think it is more problematic with restrictions on the fuel cycle. It should be started, but I think it will be very difficult to do it. There are many countries that have lots of nuclear power. Iran, I think, does not have plausible economic reasons to go for enrichment. It has two nuclear power plants. My own country, Sweden, has 10 nuclear reactors in operation and we import enriched uranium. Economically, I do not see [ Iran’s justification] as meaningful. From the point of view of self-sufficiency, self-reliance, in a world in which Iran felt ostracized I can see a little more reason for it.

But you have other countries, like Ukraine, which has a lot of nuclear power, despite Chernobyl. They are building more nuclear power. They are not ruling out the possibility of building enrichment for their own. I mean, their relations with the Russians are not such that they are absolutely sure that they will either get gas or enriched uranium. So, I think, a lot of countries will hesitate.

Now, let me turn to a few other points that are also on the agenda: PSI, the Proliferation Security Initiative. Well, we know that international law allows intervention on the high seas against piracy and slavery and illegal broadcasting, and here now comes also weapons of mass destruction. Now, I can see as a sort of idealistic vision that maybe we need a better policing of the oceans. Maybe we should not only have weapons of mass destruction; maybe drug trafficking should be there, fishing violations—fishing rules are violated very, very much.

But my query about PSI is really how often has it been useful. I saw that [U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation Stephen] Rademaker said that in 11 cases they have made use of it, but I have only seen one case that really worked importantly and that was a ship going to Libya. I think that was before they formalized PSI. [Editor’s note: PSI was launched on May 31, 2003 and the interdiction of the BBC China occurred in October 2003. However, foreign government officials and a former top State Department official told Arms Control Today that the interdiction was not a PSI operation. (See ACT, July/August 2005.)]

I, like many others, also would rather see a global element of this with some supervision of international authority rather than a common effort. It would be [improved as] a joint thing whereas now I have the feeling that it is more the big sheriff assisted by some other sheriffs around the world. I would like to see transparency and some supervision.

For the moment, my hesitations relate more to how useful PSI has been. We have heard a lot about it, but what are the facts? I think transparency could start by reporting on what they actually manage to fish up.

Safeguards and verification is another area. The additional protocol has made progress, and I was happy when it was adopted by the IAEA general conference the last year (1997) that I was the IAEA director-general. We had worked on it for a very long time. The additional protocol has certainly improved the situation a lot, but not so much that there could not be further improvements.

For instance, I was appalled at the time that under the additional protocol, states could still demand that inspectors should have visas. That [requirement] was not in the Chemical Weapons Convention. For heaven’s sake, how can you accept in the chemical weapons treaty that you do away with visas, but not here? There are other things in the additional protocol that also could be sanctioned.

In your [December 2005] issue of Arms Control Today, there is a very good article about the committee that has been set up under the IAEA Board of Governors. It does not have much of an agenda and it is not really ironed out what it will do. But I agree with the authors of that article that an open-ended committee of the board could certainly be useful [in maintaining] attention by members of the board on safeguards and operations of safeguards.

[The committee] could be a support for the director-general because when you are in international organizations and demand Pakistan or anybody to do something, you meet resistance. States are not terribly impressed by international secretariats I can tell you. You can run into resistance. What weapon does [an international organization] have? The weapon you have is that if you do not go along with this I will report to the board. That is what you have. I heard there was a [movie, Team America: World Police] here in the U.S. about Iraq and I feature as a character who tells [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Il that if you do not behave I will report. (Laughter.) And thereafter Kim says, “F**k you, Hans Blix, and chops off my head and it falls down into some poo-poo or other.” I mean this is the way that I get known around the world (laughter), but my reaction is rather to the substance of it.

The report is not such an innocent thing. It may be quite an important thing, actually. But this is the power that the director-general of the IAEA has. He will report to the board because the power lies in the countries that are represented on the board. Now, here he would then have a forum that would be continuously available, whereas the board is meeting only from time to time. So that could be a positive thing. What he says [at the committee] is something that can be picked up by members in support of the agency’s demand for effective safeguards.

There are things that must stay safeguard confidential because if you did not have safeguards confidentiality then members would not accept safeguards. So there are limits to what can be said in that [committee] but, by and large, I think it could be a helpful thing to strengthen the role of the international secretariat.

But it could also be used to weaken the position of the director-general in the sense that he will be subject to a lot of cross currents. Some will say this, others will say that, and he may then have to decide where he stands. That may be not an easy thing at all.

From this point of view having the states sort of hovering all around you and coming with suggestions here and there is less difficult politically, diplomatically to manage. So I think much depends upon how this will be handled in the future. I hope it will be used to strengthen safeguards rather to weaken the position of the director-general.

Now, on verification generally, looking aside from the IAEA and safeguards, one has the feeling that there is almost sort of an allergy in [ Washington] against the use of verification; a disregard for it. They ignored UNMOVIC and the IAEA in the case of Iraq and we see the negative attitude on a [fissile] cutoff agreement where it stated that it is inherently impossible to have effective verification of a cutoff agreement.

I’m worried about that statement because it seems to me that you are thereby also saying that the safeguards we have in Japan on enrichment, South Africa on enrichment, and Brazil on enrichment are useless. I do not think that is a view that we would take. The IAEA is still working on the concept and on the means of making them effective. But it leads me to wonder whether the real negative attitude to the FMCT is a difficulty in having effective safeguards.

I would think after the experience I had in the IAEA and the UNMOVIC, the combination of the use of international verification and national verification is an important one. I think the attitude here has been to give priority to the national one. Even now there is hardly any discussion about what could have been gleaned from UNMOVIC and from the IAEA. It’s all about which intelligence unit in the U.S. knew something and which did not know.

I’m not against national intelligence. I think certainly in this time of terrorism it is indispensable that countries have it. I’m worried about the civil rights aspects of it, okay, but still it’s something that we need to have. But I think that they should realize that you need both. [International] inspectors are on the ground. They have a right to go into installations and we should increase those rights. [National] intelligence does not. They may have spies here and there. They have satellites. They have the eavesdropping on all this.

I think therefore that it is useful when [national] intelligence would tip the international organizations and say why don’t you take a look at this? We did this in the IAEA in Iran when I was still at the IAEA. I went up to some place that [national intelligence] had [identified as suspicious]. It did not contain any enrichment. At that time it was somewhere in the Alborz Mountains. Nevertheless, the technique is the right one: that [national intelligence] should contribute so that an international organization, [like] the [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] or the IAEA, can make use of that. It should not be on remote control, which I think it was in the 1990s. There was the remote control of [the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM)], certainly in New York, and the year UNSCOM was used as a basis of espionage. It was even infiltrated. I think that it lost its international [respect] throughout. So, I think cooperation but not remote control.

Terrorism is of course on the agenda, and will be so. After 9/11, it’s nothing you will trifle with. The Iraq War has not reduced—if it was meant to put an end—[to terrorism]. It has not succeeded in that.

I and the commission that I work with are positive that a great many things are being done in order to have reduced availability of nuclear, biological and chemical materials; to clean up the threat. I think Security Council Resolution 1540 is a very interesting innovation in this context. It is not the first time, but it is one of the first occasions when the council is used as a sort of indirect legislature. It does not say that here is the law that everybody has to apply; it simply says that you must make legislation. Now, here they have the right. It’s a legitimate body to do so and they can do so. They have to be cautious in how far they go, and the representation of the country could also be a problem. Nevertheless, it is a new avenue.

Lastly, what is the outlook for further global regimes and for disarmament? Well, I see that European countries, on average, now spend 1.9 percent of their GNP on military expenses whereas the United States is spending 3.5 percent of its GNP on military expenditures. In Europe, our military forces and our soldiers who go into the army and so forth are given training for peacekeeping, not for territorial defense any longer. So a big change has occurred in Europe, and I think that is for the good. We do not see Russia as a potential enemy so there is no use for it.

If I want to be hopeful and optimistic, it would be that if there are no further wars and if there is no big terrorist event then I think it will be the taxpayer who will react against the enormous military expenses that are here and are still rather big in Europe. I would also have hope for development of the U.N. Peacekeeping has been a very important practical force. The new commission that they have established for peace building I think is a valuable new asset. I would end by saying that after many armed conflicts there have been windows of opportunity. After the First World War, we had the League of Nations. After the Second World War, we have the U.N. After the Cold War, an opportunity was missed, and the U.S. came out in a unipolar world. After the Iraq War, maybe the feeling or the realization that there are limitations to what you can do and achieve by military means may be stronger and perhaps a greater readiness to look for regional agreements, agreements within alliances, and also a broader mode of cooperating with countries. It might also lead to some better acceptance of the United Nations than we have had in the past few years. So I would like to end on that hopeful note. Thank you. (Applause.)

KIMBALL: We have some time for some questions. I would like to first give questions to reporters, such as Jonathan Landay. There are microphones; if you could wait for those to come by.

QUESTION: Dr. Blix, thank you, Jonathan Landay with Knight-Ridder. As you talked about the erosion that has taken place in the nonproliferation regime, I would like to steer you back to the case of Iran. It’s my recollection that the IAEA Board of Governors found Iran in violation in September of its NPT obligations and did not at that time report it to the Security Council. You did not talk about, perhaps, the erosion that could take place further in the regime due to what is going on in terms of Russian and Chinese policy to seemingly prevent this from going to the Security Council after three years of investigation.

You talked about the fact that North Korea, the negotiations are going on outside the Security Council, but it is my recollection that North Korea was in fact referred to the Security Council in 2003. So I would like to hear you expand a bit on whether or not you think it might be useful to go to the Security Council, and then not go with sanctions right away, because I believe that is what the policy is going to be, and refer the situation again back to the IAEA, although with the weight and the imprimatur of the Security Council.

BLIX: Well, in the first place, I think the IAEA resolution did not conclude that Iran had violated the NPT obligations, but it had violated its safeguards obligations, which is some difference. They are not concluded that the intentions of Iran are for going for weapons, in which case that would have been a violation of the NPT.

I did say that I’m not sure that it really matters very much what [ Iran’s] intentions are. I’m in favor of the Iranians staying away from enrichment because if they went for it there would be a much shorter lead time to weapons. But the question is then to me, how do you induce the Iranians to stay away from it? I think that the packages or the offers that are being made on the Western side have been very meager, especially compared to the offers that have been made vis-à-vis the North Koreans.

Now, I also do not think that it matters very much where they discuss about this. The Security Council, as I have said, has the advantage that it would bring the Americans to the table in the first place. So far, we have seen more backseat driving but not actual participation. It would bring the Chinese and the Russians there also, out in the open. That would be an advantage. At the same time, you would get tremendous media pressure. You would get a tremendous expectation [because] economic sanctions and military sanctions would be talked about all the time. I think that is likely [to] harden the Iranian attitude and it may also strengthen the cards of the president there.

Iran is not an Iraq. The Iranian president, I saw the other day, had been criticized in the Iranian Majlis, the parliament, for what he said about Israel. Now, that would not have happened in Iraq. (Laughter.) So it’s not the same thing and I think to strengthen the hardliners on the Iranian side is an unwise thing. This could happen if you talk more—and that would be inevitable—about the economic and military sanctions if you go to the Security Council. So I think it does not help very much to go to the council. They have said that the council is competent to take it up. I agree with that—they would be—but I do not think it’s very helpful. I think it’s more the question of prestige. They are painting themselves into the corner. They have talked about the council for such a long time that [they are worried about] losing their credibility. I regret that somewhat.

You cannot read any article in the Western world without the comment that the Russians and the Chinese are reluctant because they have economic interest. Well, yes, they have economic interest. But they may also genuinely have a consideration of the situation that it is not wise to go for harder means. The proposal the Russians have made for having enrichment in Russia, I think, is a positive one. It would preclude any sudden increase in the enrichment level from four percent to 90 percent. But whether that is compatible with the Iranian’s sense of their prestige I do not know. As in the case of Korea, it is desirable that they be brought in and that they participate because Russia is closer to Iran than what you are. They certainly have no interest in having Iran as a nuclear-weapon state. Nor do the Chinese.

You are entirely right that North Korea was brought to the Security Council for a brief, glorious moment before members of the council were urged to do what they could. [Editor’s note: The Security Council has not acted and the United States, Russia, China, Japan, and the two Koreas have engaged in negotiations, referred to as the six-party talks, in an attempt to resolve the issue.] That’s where we are. I do not really see that fora is important. We know that the Iranians do not want to have it in the Security Council. That is being used then as a leverage, that we might go there, but it might actually be counterproductive, inevitable perhaps, but counterproductive.

KIMBALL: I would just note on Iran that Arms Control Today conducted an interview a couple of days ago with the Iranian ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency that we are preparing for publication probably later this week. [Editor’s note: This transcript can be accessed at http://www.armscontrol.org/interviews/20060123_Soltanieh.asp.] I had a question over here. Yes, sir?

QUESTION: John Liang with Inside Missile Defense. On the Proliferation Security Initiative, you advocated making this more of a joint thing rather than having a big sheriff being assisted by a bunch of smaller sheriffs. Can you sort of expand on how it should be more of a joint effort?

BLIX: Well, [then-Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John] Bolton wrote an article in The Financial Times in which he talked about the nonproliferation policy of the U.S. and said about the PSI that this was so good because it was not a bureaucracy-ruled initiative. It is not based upon an agreement at all. It is not based upon a treaty. It is based upon an understanding.

I remember the time many, many years ago when I was young and the Russians were always advocating that we should not have agreements about arbitration but there should be diplomatic negotiations to solve disputes because in a diplomatic negotiation the big and strong have a better hand than they have in an organized procedure. The rest of the world was not so keen on it. They wanted to have some orderly procedures.

I think the PSI is also one with good intention. It is dominated by the U.S. with lots of bilateral agreements between the U.S. and other countries that they will allow their ships to be boarded by the U.S. I think that if one were to look forward to something like an effective policing in the world against contraband of weapons of mass destruction or drugs, well, then you would want to have something that belongs to the world and is not simply under the control of one state.

We have had a recent affair in Tunis, a big conference about the Internet, and the U.S. nonprofit organization that can control the last piece of our email addresses. It was said that [it was better to] have this under benevolent U.S. control than have it under an international authority with say China and Sudan and a few others on the board. I understand that argument. At the same time, as an internationalist, I think that the system I would like to look forward to is one in which we cooperate and which there is broad participation. But this is not my main concern about the PSI. My main query is how useful has it been? I read a lot about how important this initiative is. Fine. I know one case and I have heard that there are 11. Which are the others?

KIMBALL: Alright. I wanted to see if there is anybody over here. Yes, sir?

QUESTION: Andrew Pierre, Georgetown University. I have two brief questions relating to the nexus, if there is any, between terrorism and nuclear weapons. You mentioned Jacques Chirac’s speech of a few days ago in which he basically justified the French nuclear force at this point as being usable against the terrorist group non-state actors either as a form of deterrence or attack. My first question is do you see any justification for nuclear weapons based on anti-terrorism? What do you think of the risk of a trend growing in which countries justify their nuclear weapons on that basis, given the comprehensive importance, let’s say, of the way we talk about terrorism?

My second question has to do with the fear that surrounds some quarters about the sale or theft of nuclear materials or perhaps even nuclear weapons, and their falling into terrorist hands. Given all the concerns that you have addressed so well this afternoon, how high in your rating would you place this issue?

KIMBALL: Let’s get one more question. If I could have Barry Schweid ask a question.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

KIMBALL: On Iran.

QUESTION: On Iran. You think the U.N. is not really the preferable place because the notion of sanctions hangs in the air. The Iranians do not like to hear about that. The British, the Germans, and the French have been talking to Iran for a long time. That is a format that apparently has not been productive. Could you go a little further in your thinking and tell us what kind of format you have in mind? You did refer to North Korea, I understand, in reference to security guarantees, but how would you go about this differently from the way the European Union, which was not with the U.S. in its views when this all began but now is? Where would you do this? How would you do it differently? Who would be there? And what would make it better than what has been going on all along?

BLIX: Alright. The nexus between terrorism and nuclear weapons; what I would say about the British and the French is that their prolongation and modernization of their nuclear forces, which were once set up against an enemy that no longer exists, can hardly be used against terrorists—the enemies that they see now. On terrorism, I think [British Prime Minister Tony] Blair said, and I agree with him, that hardly anything could be more important against terrorism than progress in the solution of the Palestine issue. This is a general comment that I have on the arms control community that I belong to, which is that we often focus upon the technical military measures and tend to forget the political forces which drive, and can help, because when countries go for weapons and go for weapons of mass destruction, security is a major element. It’s not the only element. There are others like prestige and so forth, but it’s a major element. So I think that Blair was right. I do not really see any helpfulness, any use in nuclear weapons in the context of terrorists. I can understand some of the deterrence reasoning, though I think the members of my commission are very doubtful about whether it has any meaningful deterrent effect today, and that we could live without nuclear weapons altogether. In the context of terrorism? No, I do not see it at all.

The second question you raised was theft of nuclear material and the trafficking. Well, I said I’m all in favor of the cleanup operation, the threat reduction initiative, et cetera, and it’s got much better: the conversion of nuclear reactors from high-enriched uranium to low-enriched uranium, and better locks for the Russians. But they have been doing that since the beginning of the 1990s. I would have hoped that we would have done something in that period, and I think we have. I think it is much better. I think this is an area like the risk of a nuclear accident; the small risk of a big accident. I certainly would be the last to say that you could brush this aside. No, I certainly cannot do that. But I think it lends itself very much to hyping. I’m reading the reports that come out of the IAEA about [nuclear] trafficking and I see that it’s gone down. We also know that most of the things caught in the 1990s were scams. These were Russian crooks, who after the end of communism, were able to lay their hands on mostly pellets or the enriched uranium for reactors or in some cases also small quantities of highly enriched uranium, plutonium, very small things.

I think this is used a lot to excite people. I have seen books about nuclear terrorism that relates endless numbers of anecdotes about what has happened. Well, it’s very easy to excite people and I suppose the developed world needs sort of daily doses of angst. (Laughter.)

While I’m not brushing it aside and favoring all the steps that I have taken, I would not get hysterical about it. I do agree that, yes, there are differences here. The chances for a terrorist group to get hold of a sufficient amount of enriched uranium or plutonium is much smaller than getting hold of, say, cesium or cobalt and making a dirty bomb. Considering how much of this is available in hospitals all around the world and how it lands in scrap heaps, yes, that is much greater, but maybe these guys do not like to be radiated themselves. They commit suicide attacks but maybe it’s another thing to become sterile or to be irradiated themselves. I do not know what makes them tick, but we cannot neglect it. But it lends itself very much to hyping.

Now, the last question about the location of discussions. As the IAEA board has said the council is competent. There could be reasons for moving [the Iran issue] there and it would have the advantage in that it would bring the Russians, the Chinese, and the Americans to the negotiation table. It is a big issue. If Iran moves forward with enrichment, then tensions will increase. That is an important political issue so I can see the justifications for it but I also see the drawbacks of it. There will be a great deal of emphasis on will we now get sanctions; would they go along with economic sanctions? It will start very gently with an appeal to Iran to be completely cooperative with the IAEA in carrying out and answering all the questions they have, but my view is that I do not think it helps very much. It’s supposed to come at the end of that process when we see no evidence that they really are intending. Well, that does not help you one bit because if they say, fine, go ahead with enrichment, then in two years’ time Iran could change its mind.

I think under any circumstances one would like to see Iran to refrain from [enrichment]. And for that, I think you need a much better offer. You said correctly that the U.K., the French, and the Germans have been negotiating with the Iranians now for several years. Isn’t patience running out? Yeah, but what did they offer? They offered things like membership in the World Trade Organization, which was fine, and the U.S. went along with that, which I think was fine. I think that was a new step and I think it was fine. There were the Boeing spare parts. Fine. And there have been investments in the European Union. They even said they would support the Iranians in their nuclear program. So these things and investments I think are fine.

But I do not think it touches upon the security. Now, it could be that the Iranians under no circumstance would go along. Then I think that will be sort of a test. One could indirectly draw the conclusion that, well, after all, maybe nothing really would be good enough to bring them away from it. That would be in itself an important matter. When the Iranians say that they are interested in the Russian proposal, it could be that they are genuinely interested or it may be that they are just temporizing. I do not believe in anybody, but I think it should be tried. Since it was done in the case of North Korea, I do not see why it should not be possible to do it also in this case. North Korea is one case of the “axis of evil” and Iran is another party to the “axis of evil.”

KIMBALL: Thank you. I think this is about all the time we have for questions. Please join me in thanking Dr. Hans Blix. (Applause.) There’s one final thing for Dr. Blix from the Arms Control Association. Just to remind him of the warm welcome he got from the Arms Control Association and a reminder that Washington is not such a chilly place, we have a special Arms Control Association fleece jacket in Swedish blue for Dr. Blix. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

BLIX: I hope it will protect against radiation, too.

KIMBALL : I don’t know about that. Thank you, everyone.

IAEA: Seoul's Nuclear Sins in Past

Paul Kerr

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei issued a report Nov. 11 describing South Korea’s failure to notify the agency of past research that could have potentially aided a nuclear weapons program. The report, however, says there is no indication of recent activity.

The report provides more detail about the IAEA’s investigation—first disclosed in September—of Seoul’s unreported nuclear activities, which date back more than 20 years and include production of plutonium and enriched uranium. (See ACT, October 2004.) Both can be used as the explosive material in nuclear weapons.

ElBaradei said South Korea was required to report these activities as part of its safeguards agreement with the agency. Safeguards agreements require states-parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) to allow the IAEA to monitor their declared civilian nuclear activities to ensure that they are not diverted to military use.

South Korea acceded to the NPT in 1975. It also signed a joint declaration with North Korea in 1991 stating that both countries will refrain from possessing nuclear fuel reprocessing and uranium-enrichment facilities. Such facilities can produce plutonium and highly enriched uranium, respectively.

The report calls South Korea’s failure to report these activities “a matter of serious concern,” but adds that “there is no indication that the undeclared experiments have continued.” South Korea had a nuclear weapons program during the 1970s, but discontinued it later that decade under U.S. pressure. (See ACT, October 2004.)

South Korea has maintained that scientists conducted the nuclear activities without the knowledge of high-level officials.

In a Nov. 26 statement, the IAEA Board of Governors expressed “serious concern” about Seoul’s unreported nuclear research, but also welcomed the government’s “cooperation” with the IAEA. The board did not refer South Korea to the UN Security Council, despite widespread speculation that it might do so. The IAEA is required to report findings of a country’s noncompliance with its safeguards agreement to the council.

Details
South Korea disclosed its nuclear activities after ratifying an additional protocol to its IAEA safeguards agreement in February. Such protocols expand the IAEA’s authority to investigate NPT states-parties’ declared and undeclared nuclear facilities. They also require NPT members to declare significantly more of their nuclear-related activities than required by ordinary safeguards agreements.

South Korea submitted its initial declaration related to the protocol in August. IAEA inspectors have made three trips to the country since then to visit sites associated with Seoul’s nuclear activities.

Uranium Enrichment

According to ElBaradei’s report, South Korea told the IAEA in August that it used the atomic vapor laser isotope separation (AVLIS) method to conduct “laboratory scale” experiments involving “relatively small” amounts of uranium. This technology uses lasers to separate the fissionable uranium-235 isotope from vaporized uranium. “Enriched” uranium has a concentration of uranium-235 greater than the approximate 1 percent concentration that occurs naturally.

The report adds that, in 2000, South Korean scientists at the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) produced 200 milligrams of enriched uranium. While the average enrichment level was about 10 percent uranium-235, some levels reached up to 77 percent—a level theoretically sufficient for a nuclear weapon. Most civilian power plants use fuel with a concentration of less than 20 percent uranium-235.

South Korea began laser research in the 1960s, the report says, and worked on developing AVLIS technology during the 1990s. South Korean scientists conducted several AVLIS-related experiments involving uranium between 1993 and 2000, as part of what government officials claim was a “broader experimental effort to apply AVLIS techniques to non-nuclear materials.” Seoul failed to report the uranium experiments to the IAEA as required by its safeguards agreement.

South Korea produced more than 150 kilograms of natural uranium metal from a less-processed form of uranium, the report says, adding that 3.5 kilograms of the metal were used in the enrichment experiments. Seoul both imported uranium ore and extracted uranium from a domestic mine, the report says.

South Korea also disclosed in October that it carried out an experiment from 1979 through 1981 using another method of uranium enrichment. Called the chemical exchange process, this method runs a solution containing uranium through a column of specially designed material to separate the uranium-235. According to the report, South Korea produced a “very small quantity” of uranium enriched to a degree just slightly greater than that of natural uranium. The government failed to report the use of 700 grams of uranium powder used in the experiment—a violation of its safeguards agreement.

Plutonium Separation

South Korea told the agency in March that in 1982, it had separated plutonium from depleted uranium in a hot cell associated with a research reactor. On Nov. 5, Seoul reported that that it had separated a total of 0.7 grams of the material.

According to the report, the IAEA assessed that only one plutonium separation experiment was conducted at the site and that the experiment could not have been conducted after 1982.

The IAEA began its investigation of the experiments after discovering particles of plutonium at the hot cell in 1997 and again in 2003.

Next Steps
The report states that the IAEA is continuing to assess Seoul’s nuclear declarations as well as investigate several other outstanding issues. The board requested that ElBaradei report on the investigation “as appropriate,” the chair’s statement says.

These include evaluating South Korea’s claim that the AVLIS experiments were only authorized by the president of KAERI. A diplomatic source in Vienna close to the IAEA told Arms Control Today Nov. 15 that higher-level officials were likely aware of the experiments, citing the involvement of 14 government scientists, the use of expensive equipment, and past efforts to deceive the agency.

The IAEA also is investigating the foreign assistance South Korea received for its laser program, although the report does not identify South Korea’s suppliers.

Additionally, the agency is attempting to resolve issues concerning Seoul’s plutonium and uranium-conversion experiments. The agency has asked the government to provide records or detailed explanations regarding its plutonium experiments, but South Korea has said the records do not exist.

According to the report, the IAEA also is trying to resolve a discrepancy concerning South Korea’s indigenous uranium ore. IAEA samples from the ore seem to contradict Seoul’s claim that the material was extracted from a South Korean mine.

The report states that South Korea has “provided active cooperation” since disclosing its undeclared nuclear activities to the IAEA, but Seoul has not always been so cooperative. South Korea originally denied that it had conducted either uranium-enrichment or plutonium-separation experiments. It also delayed giving IAEA inspectors access to its former laser-enrichment facilities until after ratification of its additional protocol. In addition, Seoul did not disclose all of its conversion activities in its August declaration.

 

Walking the Nonproliferation Tightrope

An Interview With Ambassador Sérgio de Queiroz Duarte, President of the 2005 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference

ACT: What are your objectives as president of the forthcoming nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in May, and what would be an ideal outcome of the Review Conference?

Duarte: The president has no objectives besides ensuring that the discussions take place in the best possible mood and the results, as much as possible, are consensual and reflect the will of the parties. The parties may have objectives, but I do not, besides having the conference agree on something that will be useful, forward looking, and advance the aims of the treaty. This is the only objective that I can have as president.

ACT: Are you making progress toward having an agenda prior to the start of the conference?

Duarte: So far, I do not know. What I am telling parties is that it would be very, very difficult to start the conference without an agenda. The responses that I am getting are usually agreeing with that view. I hope that the parties realize the agenda is only a tool, a commencement, an instrument. You are not going to solve substantive differences in the agenda. I hope the parties help me between now and the start of the conference in putting together an agenda.

ACT: What are the consequences if the conference begins without an agenda?

Duarte: The mood will be bad. The sentiment that things are not starting on the right note will be present. It will also be more difficult for me to organize a program of work without an agenda. The procedural steps that should be as smooth as possible at the start will probably be difficult to take. So, I hope that, by the time we meet, we have an agenda.

ACT: As you know, the NPT is comprised of three main elements: preventing the spread of nuclear weapons to additional countries, providing countries the “right” to peaceful uses of nuclear technology, and a commitment by all countries to work toward disarmament. Are all of these elements equal in importance? Should one be given more weight than others? And how interdependent are they?

Duarte: They are very much interdependent. The treaty was conceived in a way in which these elements were meant to be interdependent. Many of the parties start from the view that they are interdependent. Some parties place more emphasis on some of these elements rather than on others and therein lies part of the disagreements that we have. To have a successful conference, the result will have to be balanced between these elements. It is obvious that they are different in nature. The way in which you implement those obligations, the pace at which you fulfill obligations in the three elements is different. We have to be careful to understand these differences in what we wish the parties to do. But I do not think that we can be selective or give exclusive weight to one of the elements to the detriment of the others.

ACT: Some commentators and states-parties are arguing that the NPT and the nuclear nonproliferation regime are under greater duress today than in many years past. What would you judge is the most significant challenge or threat facing the NPT today, and do you agree that this is a time of greater duress than in times past?

Duarte: I have been involved with these matters for a large part of my professional life. I attended a number of review conferences even before Brazil became a member [to the treaty][1] I was at the 18-nation Disarmament Committee when the treaty was presented.[2] So, I have seen this treaty off and on in my professional life several times. There have been other moments of duress and difficulty for the treaty.

Perhaps the emergence of the possibility of nuclear terrorism has added an element of more strain to the situation. It is not something that the treaty is specifically addressed to, but it has bearing on the things that the treaty is supposed to control. In that sense, there is more drama involved in the present situation.
You have instances of noncompliance or at least accusations of noncompliance.[3] You have one party [North Korea] that withdrew from the treaty, which is something that never happened before. You have a sentiment that the nuclear-weapon powers have been less than forthcoming in the fulfillment of their own commitments.[4] I am not saying that this did not happen, but that there is this sentiment on the part of several parties. Then again, on the part of the main powers, there is the sentiment that their efforts have not been correctly understood. So, all of these things add to the difficulties and emotions involved in the treaty. It’s very hard to weigh this situation against similar situations in the past. It’s complicated enough this time.

ACT: You mentioned accusations of noncompliance. Is it likely that the Review Conference might debate new or innovative enforcement measures or mechanisms to encourage treaty compliance or deter or punish treaty withdrawals?

Duarte: I am sure there will be suggestions or proposals to that effect. You asked me before what are the main difficulties. Perhaps the main difficulty that we will face is how to balance a perceived need for greater controls or more effective instruments of safeguards and controls with treaty provisions that ensure the right to peaceful applications of nuclear technology. How to promote the use of nuclear technology and at the same time how to constrain that use—it’s a difficult conundrum that we must address and somehow solve.

ACT: If the 2005 Review Conference does not solve that problem, what is the timeline within which it must be solved? Is there a date by which things spiral too far out of control?

Duarte: I trust that most of the parties to the NPT are responsible and serious in their commitments and in the way they develop their programs. But if we do not have action on certain parts of the treaty, then we probably will not have action on other parts. Eventually, the situation may be one in which the treaty ceases to be seen as effective in all its aspects by different groups of parties. So, there is this danger of the unraveling of the whole system. But I do not think anyone could put a time frame on that.

ACT: Do you think the treaty is still effective today?

Duarte: I think it is. You have over 36 years of the treaty’s existence. Three countries have not acceded.[5] So, instead of the original five [nuclear-weapon states] that the treaty recognizes, you have three additional de facto [nuclear-weapon states], but no more than three. You also have one country that has withdrawn and another that is suspected of breaches, and then you have some 180 countries that have fulfilled and abided by their obligations. Statistically, at least, the treaty has been fairly successful and deserves more credit.

ACT: Brazil is a member of the New Agenda Coalition,[6] which contends there has not been meaningful action by the nuclear-weapon states toward fulfilling their disarmament obligations under Article VI. How can the nuclear-weapon states live up to these commitments, and how important is it that they are perceived as doing so?

Duarte: It is very important that they are perceived to be living up to their commitments. I think it’s a question of confidence, a question of transparency and of improving the climate of mistrust that exists [between the nuclear-weapon states and the non-nuclear-weapon states]. If the measures the nuclear-weapon parties took for nuclear disarmament were perhaps better understood by the remainder of the countries and were accompanied by very clear gestures of a continued commitment to arrive at that end—a reaffirmation which could be done at the Review Conference—it would help a lot to allay some of the mistrust that exists. It is something that each of the nuclear-weapon states-parties must do on its own. I do not have any reason to doubt the seriousness of any of the parties, nuclear or non-nuclear. If they are seriously committed to some steps, they should continue to be committed and fulfill their obligations, but they must do it in a way that will convince the rest of the parties that they are really complying. It is a difficult thing to do.

ACT: How can the nuclear-weapon states do that in a convincing way to the other states-parties?

Duarte: By being as transparent as possible. Transparency is difficult because it involves many responsibilities that a state has regarding its own security, but a little more transparency would go a long way to increase confidence.

ACT: Are you talking in terms of reports or perhaps maybe opening up their stockpiles to inspections?

Duarte: That would be difficult to ask of them. We have to understand that it’s not easy to ask that because it involves security. Lately, they have shown and tried to report more. In the past two years or so, they started reporting and telling the steps they have taken. They should continue to do so and present as many details of not only what they did, but what they intend to do in the future regarding disarmament. It would be very helpful if they did that.

ACT: Should there be a regular reporting requirement as part of the review process?

Duarte: That would be useful. It’s not easy to agree on the elements of that reporting, but it would be useful.

ACT: Several countries spoke out strongly at the last PrepCom that any exploration of new nuclear weapons by the nuclear-weapon states violates the spirit of the NPT and is at odds with the 13 steps on disarmament.[7] The treaty contains no prohibition against the research or development of new nuclear weapons by the nuclear-weapon states, and in fact they built thousands of additional nuclear weapons following the NPT’s conclusion in 1968. Why should the nuclear-weapon states refrain now from any research or development into new nuclear weapons when most of their arsenals are steadily decreasing?

Duarte: Research is one thing, but production is another. The fact that there is research adds to a climate of less-than-complete confidence among the parties. It would be useful if the nuclear-weapon states refrained from doing anything that would be perceived as continued reliance on nuclear weapons. Then again, [research] is not prohibited by the treaty, so we cannot say they are violating the treaty. One can argue that it may be against the spirit of the treaty, but it’s very hard to pinpoint a specific violation.

ACT: At the last PrepCom, the United States contended that the 13 steps were essentially past commitments that were no longer relevant. Yet, most NPT states-parties appear to believe otherwise. Can these two positions be reconciled?

Duarte: I hope they can. What the United States said exactly was that it no longer supported some of the 13 steps. We know from their actions, for instance, that they no longer support the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). I do not know what else they no longer support. Words are very important in this business. You can not support something and still not be in violation of something.

The CTBT continues to exist as such. It has not entered into force, but parties to the treaty continue to do their best to see to it that [the CTBT] will enter into force as soon as possible. Regardless of the fact that the United States—there are others, of course—does not seem willing to ratify it at this time, this should not be seen with too much despondency. It took a long time for the CTBT to exist. We should continue working on [bringing it into force]. It’s not something that we should look at as if no chance exists for further progress. We must keep the treaty alive, waiting for the right moment.

ACT: It is one thing to not signal support for ratification of the CTBT, but it’s another for a possible resumption of nuclear testing, which is something that has been talked about. What impact would a nuclear test have on the nonproliferation regime?

Duarte: If any of the nuclear-weapon countries, which have all been observing a voluntary testing moratorium, resumes testing, it would be a very hard blow to the whole system of nonproliferation, as much as if any non-nuclear-weapon country would be shown to be developing nuclear weapons. Although the nuclear-weapon countries are not bound by any obligation not to test, the blow would be the same.

ACT: One of the other 13 steps was negotiation of a verifiable fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT).[8] There was discussion this past summer about resuming such negotiations after a long delay in the Conference on Disarmament. How big of a boost might the convening of those negotiations give the 2005 Review Conference?

Duarte: It would give a boost. At the UN First Committee today, a resolution was put forward asking for the establishment of a negotiating mandate for such a treaty with certain characteristics, including verification and irreversibility. But one important nuclear-weapon power [the United States] voted against it. There were 174 votes in favor and two abstentions.

ACT: What is the sense among the other NPT states-parties about an FMCT without a verification regime because that is clearly what the United States is espousing?

Duarte: During the 1970s and 1980s, verification was very much a tool that was said to be indispensable to any arms control or disarmament treaty. But suddenly, it seems that it is no longer feasible. The discussion of [verification] has been put on a tactical vein.

I do not know anything about fissile material. I am not a physicist. I do not know whether [a treaty without a verification regime] is feasible. But if you have a treaty of importance on arms control and disarmament that contains no verification provisions, many would perhaps see it as a very weak instrument. Some contend that it would be useful to have even if you do not have verification provisions. The Biological Weapons Convention, for instance, has no verification provisions.[9] It has existed for decades without verification provisions.

ACT: How might the NPT states-parties better involve India, Israel, and Pakistan in adhering to global nuclear nonproliferation standards established by the NPT and other agreements?

Duarte: There is deep division in the NPT membership on that. There are those who would wish to have some sort of association of those countries to the NPT that would recognize them somehow as having nuclear [weapons]. You cannot bring them into the treaty unless you amend it. To amend the treaty would raise many other difficulties. I do not think any of the parties is prepared to open the treaty to amendment for the purpose of bringing in those three countries because then you open it to other amendments and the treaty could then be in very grave danger. I do not know of any proposal by governments aimed at bringing those countries into the treaty. If there would be any such proposal at the Review Conference, then the conference will have to examine it. Some countries say that the three should adhere to the treaty as non-nuclear-weapon countries. They, of course, reject that. So, we are at an impasse on that question.

ACT: Does their continued existence outside the treaty have a negative pull on the treaty, or is that something that is more accepted by the states-parties today?

Duarte: Facts are facts. But the fact that nuclear-weapon countries exist—be they parties or nonparties to the treaty—is in itself a matter of concern for the rest of the world.

ACT: It is widely expected that discussions about the Middle East will dominate a significant amount of time at the 2005 Review Conference. How do you expect the states-parties to address this issue, and what might be some possible substantive measures that can be agreed to regarding this topic, such as the possibility for a Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone?

Duarte: It has always been an important part of review conference deliberations. The next one will be no exception. It has always been a tough question, and it will not be different this time. The nuclear-weapon-free zone issue will not be solved at the 2005 Review Conference. If all the parties involved have an attitude of avoiding too much confrontation and hostility in the deliberations, we may have a chance to preserve what has been achieved and hopefully to progress a little bit. But it is a difficult question, and we have to understand the difficulties that lie in the past. I am not overanxious about achieving final results at the Review Conference because whatever happens is a consequence of other things that the conference cannot control or change.

ACT: Is it possible for the 2005 Review Conference to even adequately deal with the Middle East since Israel is obviously not part of those deliberations? How do you account for that?

Duarte: Israel can always come in and become a party to the NPT. It is not barred from coming in. It would be very useful if Israel came in.

ACT: What is North Korea’s NPT status, and how might states-parties address this unique situation at the Review Conference?

Duarte: Well, they have addressed [North Korea’s] status at previous Prep-Coms by using a procedural device meant to give a chance to the consultations that are taking place outside of the NPT.[10] It was agreed that the best course would be to let the six parties[11] continue to talk without taking a stance on the substance of the matter in the NPT. There have been a couple of things that have happened recently that have stalled the six-party talks. The hope is that they will resume soon. If the six parties continue to hold their consultations, it’s possible that the Review Conference will once again resort to the same procedural device in order to give the six-party talks a better chance of succeeding. But we do not know what will happen between now and May, so it’s only a hypothesis. Parties will have to think about what they want to do.

ACT: Brazil is currently engaged in a public dispute with the IAEA about how much access it should provide IAEA inspectors to its nuclear facilities. Why is Brazil refusing to provide the requested access?

Duarte: First of all, Brazil is not engaged in a dispute. Brazil is negotiating with the IAEA on the application of safeguards[12] to a facility that was declared several years ago when Brazil started to build it. It has always been an open and transparent question. The fact that newspapers make dramas about it does not make it dramatic in itself. We have every reason to believe that we will achieve a satisfactory solution. It’s not a dispute. It’s not a refusal, despite the terms that have been used several times by newspapers. I do not know which interests have fueled those press reports, but the negotiations are continuing in a normal way. If you have a new facility to which safeguards have to be applied, because Brazil abides by the treaties it has signed, you have to discuss with the IAEA the modalities of the safeguards. I am convinced that we will arrive at a solution that will satisfy both parties.

ACT: So, the suggestion that Brazil is trying to prevent inspectors from seeing certain aspects of the facility is not an accurate description?

Duarte: Again, I am not a physicist. The technicians in Brazil say that the technology of the centrifuge is a novel and proprietary technology. It is something they have developed, and they do not want it to be copied. The only thing that I see in the situation objectively is the need to preserve an industrial secret without refusing to have the facility inspected in a way that will completely satisfy the IAEA and the international community as to the objectives of the enrichment. It’s a certain grade for Brazil’s reactors and not for any other purpose. So, it’s a question of protecting the industrial technology and at the same time giving satisfaction as to the complete, peaceful use of the facility.

ACT: How might this issue complicate your efforts as president of the Review Conference?

Duarte: I do not think the issue complicates it. It’s one instance in which you have that basic question: What are the limits of the right to develop and use this technology, and what are the limits of intrusion to ascertain that the right is being used in a way that is compatible with the treaty? It’s a difficult thing to solve.
Again, it’s interesting that only when a developing country comes up with a technology there is drama. When you have thousands and thousands of nuclear weapons and countries that say they rely on such weapons for their defense, it does not seem so dramatic. But when a developing country tries to make a system that will, in some way, improve its position in the market for fuel, then it becomes a danger for humanity.

ACT: Is there anything that we did not touch on that you would like to add about your forthcoming presidency?

Duarte: Not specifically. As president, I hope that all the parties to the treaty come to the conference with a spirit of compromise to deal with the real questions that are troubling the parties, especially the questions that have to do with improving the mechanisms to prevent proliferation and making progress toward nuclear disarmament, which are two of the basic objectives of the treaty. If the result of the conference is balanced between those two considerations, I think we could claim success.

ACT: Would it be a failure if a balanced product was not reached?

Duarte: I do not know if it would be a failure. It would be a pity and a missed opportunity.

ENDNOTES

1. Brazil deposited its instrument of ratification to accede to the NPT on Sept. 18, 1998.

2. Duarte is referring to the 1968 submission of identical draft treaties by the United States and the Soviet Union. The 18-nation Disarmament Committee was a predecessor of today’s 65-nation Conference on Disarmament, which is the sole multilateral negotiating forum for arms control.

3. The United States has publicly charged Iran with illicitly seeking nuclear weapons.

4. Article VI of the NPT commits the nuclear-weapon states, as well as all other states-parties, to work toward disarmament.

5. India, Israel, and Pakistan never joined the treaty. All three have nuclear arsenals.

6. Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and Sweden are the other members of the New Agenda Coalition, which urges faster progress toward nuclear disarmament.

7. At the 2000 Review Conference, NPT states-parties agreed to 13 “practical steps,” to make progress toward disarmament, such as bringing into force the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

8. A fissile material cutoff treaty would prohibit the production of highly enriched uranium and plutonium for weapons purposes. A nuclear weapon cannot be made without one of these two materials.

9. A six-year effort to negotiate verification measures for the Biological Weapons Convention collapsed in July 2001 when the United States announced it no longer supported the talks because it felt the proposed agreement would not deter cheating and would make U.S. companies vulnerable to commercial espionage.

10. PrepCom chairmen have personally taken possession of North Korea’s nameplate at the diplomatic gatherings to avoid dealing with the matter. Christine Kucia, “NPT Meeting Confronts New Nuclear Threats,” Arms Control Today, June 2003, p. 41.

11. China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Russia, and the United States convened talks in August 2003 to address North Korea’s nuclear programs. So far, only three rounds of talks have been held, the last of which occurred in June.

12. Safeguards are mechanisms, such as inspections, seals, and remote monitoring, used by the IAEA to verify that countries are not illicitly diverting nuclear materials and technologies intended for peaceful purposes to build nuclear weapons.


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