DARYL G. KIMBALL,
ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION
AMBASSADOR NORMAN A. WULF,
FORMER SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE PRESIDENT FOR NUCLEAR NONPROLIFERATION
CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE
ANDREW K. SEMMEL,
FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT FOR STATE FOR NONPROLIFERATION
Federal News Service
Edited by the Arms Control Association
June 16, 2008
DARYL KIMBALL: Welcome and good morning, my friends. I’m Daryl Kimball; I’m the executive director of the Arms Control Association. On behalf of the staff and the board of directors, many of our board members are here, let me say thank you to the many Arms Control Association members and supporters who I see this morning. It’s been nice speaking with many of you. I want to welcome all of you to the opening of our annual meeting on “The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty at 40.” We’re going to be discussing the current and future challenges.
Let me just take a moment before we get started to thank our loyal and generous members and supporters; our small but loyal cadre of members and supporters keep us going. They make our work possible. These include our foundation funders, a couple of which are represented here today: The Ford Foundation, the Plowshares Fund, thank you and our other foundation supporters for your ongoing support.
As you saw today, when you registered, we have a thank-you mug for those of you who are Arms Control Association members, to add to what must be a large mug collection at this point. But we like mugs because we drink coffee to keep us moving fast.
Well, today we have a program that’s divided into three segments. This morning’s panel of experts will focus on how we can best address key challenges facing the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Over lunch, which will begin at about 11:30, we will hear from Ambassador Sergio Duarte on his views on making the 2010 NPT Review Conference a success. Then following lunch and beginning at 1:00 p.m., we’ve organized a special panel discussion featuring senior representatives from the presidential campaigns of Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama. They will be speaking about what their respective candidates will do to fortify U.S. and international efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons.
For those of you who are Arms Control Association members and who have the stamina, we have a meeting at 2:45 which will take place in the conference room in the rear. We’ll be holding our formal board election and I will be providing a brief update on the association’s current and future activities.
Now, as many of you are aware but perhaps not all of you are aware, ACA was established in 1971 by several of the leading figures involved in U.S. arms control negotiations, including the negotiation of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. William Foster and George Bunn, who is out in California, can’t be with us today. It’s an honor to have a couple of the others who were part of the NPT and who were a part of the Arms Control Association at its early beginnings, including our former executive director and president, Spurgeon Keeny, and also Larry Weiler, who was at ACDA at the time of the negotiation of the NPT. We were just talking about the difficult good old days, so to speak.
Now, the goal, then, of the Arms Control Association, as now, is to create broad public appreciation of the need for positive steps toward the limitation of armaments and the implementation of other measures on the road to world peace. We’ve traveled far on the road since then, but there’s still quite a distance to go. The NPT has been a big part of that, and as Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala wrote in this month’s issue of Arms Control Today about the NPT, though imperfect in its design and implementation, the NPT has helped avoid the nightmare scenario and vision by John F. Kennedy, who foresaw a situation before the NPT of 20 to 25 nuclear-weapon states. Indeed, the NPT has made the world safer by mandating a system of international safeguards, establishing a global norm against the transfer of nuclear weapons, and extracting a commitment from the nuclear-weapon states to eliminate their arsenals.
But despite these accomplishments, as we all know, the NPT is under a great deal of stress. We’re not going to focus this morning and through the rest of the day on the problems so much as what some practical solutions might be in the next months and years ahead that could, if embraced by a bipartisan majority of politicians and leaders in Washington, could help reverse the negative proliferation trends that we’re seeing today.
So this morning, to start off the day’s events and discussion, we’ve asked three leading experts and practitioners to provide us with their perspectives and insights on three of the key sets of problems facing the NPT regime. Our first speaker is going to be Ambassador Norman Wulf, who was the president’s special representative for nuclear nonproliferation from 1999 to 2002, and served for 14 years with the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and the State Department working on nonproliferation issues, including his role as head of the U.S. delegation to the 2000 NPT Review Conference. Ambassador Wulf is going to talk about, among other things, the challenge and importance of advancing progress on Article VI of the NPT, which commits the nuclear-weapon states to pursue negotiations leading to the cessation of the arms race and nuclear disarmament.
Then, we’ll hear from Sharon Squassoni, who is a senior associate in the nonproliferation program here at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She has extensive experience as a nonproliferation specialist at the Congressional Research Service, and has served in the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and the State Department on nonproliferation issues in her career. She is going to be discussing strategies designed to address the risks associated with the spread of uranium enrichment and reprocessing technology as a problem that’s complicated by Article IV of the NPT, which recognizes the right of non-nuclear-weapon states to research, develop, and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes as well. This is also complicated by the problems created by the smuggling network of A.Q. Khan which, if you’ve been reading the newspapers this weekend, appears to be even more of a problem than we believed before.
Sharon is going to be followed by Andrew Semmel, who’s currently a private consultant. But before joining the private sector, he was deputy assistant secretary for state for nonproliferation from 2003 to 2007 and has worked extensively on Capitol Hill, including with Senator Richard Lugar, Republican of Indiana. Dr. Semmel is going to address the thorny problem of strengthening safeguards and expanding the number of countries operating under tougher safeguards, and monitoring and verification.
Following all of their remarks, we’re going to be taking questions from you for as long as we can, before our next session begins. So with that introduction, I want to invite you, Norm, up to the podium to start us off.
NORMAN WULF: Thank you, Daryl. It’s a pleasure for me to speak to you today. I wondered, after reading through Reykjavik Revisited, if I’d anything new to say. You may wonder, when I finish, whether I’ve had anything new to say, but hopefully there’ll be a few little gems buried in my remarks.
It is not unique that, as we approach the 2010 Review Conference, just as we approached the one in 2005 and before that, that a great deal of concern is being expressed about the fate of the NPT. Attention is being called to all the stresses that are being placed upon that treaty. One of the things I want to spend a few moments on is wrestling with the questions: are things really different this time, or is this just the normal, shall we say, pre-conference hand-wringing that we’ve seen in the past? It may be that my perspective has changed because I’m no longer with government, and therefore no longer paid to be an optimist. (Laughter.)
But my perspective is that things, indeed, are worse today. They’re worse primarily because the things that people are hoping to obtain from the treaty and they are no longer getting the satisfaction. What I would emphasize is that I think the biggest reason that countries who become parties to the NPT do so is because of the contribution it makes to their calculus of their national interest and their national security. Perhaps the largest one, obviously, is the reassurance about the intentions of their neighbors or their neighbors’ programs, and the reassurance that the treaty provides to their neighbor about their activities.
But those, obviously, are only one set of the factors; access to peaceful uses, which Sharon will address, would be another factor. The safeguard system and the security that it provides, as Andy will be addressing, is another. Lastly, perhaps, is the contribution that countries see the NPT making to international peace and security. The whole concept is that the spread of nuclear weapons increases the danger of use, and the danger of use is something we want to avoid and therefore, by becoming part of the treaty, we add to the credibility of the entire regime. So the question is: is the treaty really meeting those needs?
I would have to say that there have been a number of events that call into question that the treaty is meeting those needs. I’m just going to cite a few examples and I’m sure everybody has other examples they could cite, but let me just cite some in no particular order. First, the treaty had a withdrawal clause, obviously, since day one, but no one’s exercised that until 2003, when North Korea announced its withdrawal from the treaty. For three years, there was a deafening silence from the Security Council, one of the major institutions to which withdrawal notifications are sent. It was only after North Korea detonated a nuclear device in 2006 that the Security Council acted. What kind of message does that send about the permanence of this treaty, and whether you can rely upon this treaty?
Another example is the pending U.S. nuclear cooperation agreement with India. It has been sort of assumed that the precondition for nuclear cooperation is full-scope safeguards and NPT party, in more recent years. Now all of a sudden we have an example where the United States has said the principle is no longer all proliferation is bad; the principle is now some proliferation is acceptable. In the case of India, as you know, the agreement would allow for peaceful nuclear cooperation while India continues not only to maintain its existing stockpile of nuclear weapons, but to add to it.
I think, however, the greatest challenge that the treaty faces is the challenge of compliance or noncompliance. The most striking example, obviously, is Iran. More than five years have passed since the board of governors of the IAEA became aware that Iran was not complying. They took over three years and nine resolutions before they finally referred the matter to the Security Council. The Security Council has been wrestling with it. Four resolutions later, what’s happening? Iran is continuing to add to their enrichment capability. You got to wonder, if you’re a country out there, does this really mean that people are going to comply with this treaty and, if they don’t comply, something serious is going to be done about it.
I have to say in the 1990s, we got a false sense of optimism about compliance. We had two easy cases, the first case being Iraq after the first Gulf War in 1991. And there, their action by invading Kuwait was such a clear violation of the U.N. charter and their violation of their NPT obligation was so clear when the inspectors and others got access to Iraqi facilities. That was a very easy job, I would say, to get a Security Council resolution and get some serious Security Council action about Iraqi noncompliance. North Korea was another example where the Security Council was able to act in 1994. But the case at that time, North Korea was and remains, pretty much, an international pariah. So it’s not usually much of a challenge to get a Security Council action. Although, again, I’d note that more recently, it took three years before the Security Council was able to act, even for North Korea. So you have to wonder what the treaty is saying to the parties. Can we rely upon this instrument to deliver what it promises?
Now, lest you think that I’m going to avoid the topic that I’ve been assigned, which was Article VI, let me quickly add that, obviously, in the run-up to the 2000 review conference and, I think, just about every other time, the thing that the United States wants to talk about is noncompliance with other provisions. What other countries, the non-nuclear-weapon states in particular, want to talk about is U.S. compliance or nuclear-weapon states’ compliance with Article VI.
I think it’s fair to say that over the lifetime of the treaty and particularly over the last 15 years, there have been substantial reductions and substantial actions taken by most of the nuclear-weapon states to reduce their arsenals. We had the most recent statement by France indicating, I think, something less than 300 nuclear weapons; we had the public statements by the U.K. indicating less than 200 deployed nuclear weapons. Both of them are substantial reductions. We had substantial reductions in the stockpiles that both the United States and Russia had during the Cold War. So a lot’s been done, but—but is the big word here—a lot remains to be done.
I think we are at the point where countries, the non-nuclear-weapon states in particular, are suspicious, concerned, and almost unbelieving about compliance with Article VI. It is, in fact, due to the end of the Cold War. Countries, perhaps, were willing to give the nuclear-weapon states, particularly the United States and Russia/Soviet Union, a pass, to some extent, about their arsenals because of the Cold War. But now that the Cold War’s over, that pass is gone and they’d like to see some, shall we say, meaningful movement.
I think adding to that pressure for meaningful movement, obviously, was the decision in 1995 to make the treaty permanent. Obviously, by making it permanent, they were not agreeing to make possession of nuclear weapons by the five nuclear-weapon states permanent. That was not the deal. The deal was that there would be continued progress under Article VI toward nuclear disarmament. In 2000, the nuclear-weapon states committed to the so-called 13 steps; 13 steps that, at least for the review conference in 2005 in this administration, the United States delegation, as I understand it, was not even permitted to mention, let alone respond to.
Let me say that, with respect to the compliance by the nuclear-weapon states with Article VI, I’m going to focus most of my criticism and comments on the United States. That’s not, I want to quickly add, because I think the United States bears the greatest responsibility or has been the least compliant. It is because I think this is the country that we have a chance of influencing toward a better, more positive position and, based upon those actions, of influencing the action of other nuclear-weapon states.
Let me also be clear that the U.S. record, over the course of this administration, is not totally negative. We do have the Treaty of Moscow, also known as SORT. It has significant flaws regarding units of accounts, whether deployed or non-deployed; it is not permanent; and it is seriously deficient, or maybe I should say totally lacking, on verification. But it nonetheless represents steps and progress toward lower numbers, and there are even other activities that, in general, could indicate that there continues to be reductions in the overall stockpiles, although the actual numbers have not yet been published.
Offsetting that positive are a number of other actions: the total opposition by this administration to even considering the CTBT and the efforts to develop new roles or new emphasis on nuclear weapons, whether you’re talking about the early efforts on bunker-busters or the efforts on mini-nukes, or even the reliable replacement warhead. But what those actions have done has clearly conveyed to others that the United States continues to believe that nuclear weapons play an essential role, and will continue to play that role. That is not the dream, shall we say, or the hope or promise, of Article VI, that the nuclear-weapon states would move toward nuclear disarmament.
Now, some argue the view that what the United States does really does not influence other countries. They also say that just because we’re not engaging in nuclear disarmament that doesn’t mean other countries are going to decide to proliferate. I think one of the real contributions of the Reykjavik Revisited publication is the following paragraph in the article by Jim Goodby and Sid Drell because I think it pretty well lays to rest that canard. They said those experts are right to believe that several impulses go into the decision-making process of would-be nuclear-weapon states, but they’re wrong to believe that expectations about future trends in the world regarding the role of nuclear weapons and international relations have no part in national decision-making. If decision-makers think the world is going to be increasingly armed with nuclear weapons, and that those are going to be seen as normal and legitimate defense postures, those decision-makers will logically lean toward keeping open the option of building a nuclear arsenal and will exercise that option when conditions seem to require it. Expectations about the actions of others have always played a large part in policymaking, and things are no different in the area of the nuclear weapons.
In short, I believe the expectations are being created for increased reliance on nuclear weapons and for an increasing number of countries that are beginning to look toward that expectation for themselves. Based upon this belief, it is not surprising that I agree with another phrase that we can owe to the Reykjavik Revisited, and that is I do think we are, in fact, approaching rapidly a tipping point; a tipping point in which we either try to recede back and keep in check nuclear proliferation, or a point at which we see many other countries joining in the race.
Obviously, everyone here is aware of the key people behind the Reykjavik Revisited effort—Secretary George Shultz, Secretary Henry Kissinger, Secretary William Perry, and Senator Sam Nunn; I’m going to find a shorthand expression. I notice that people who don’t like what they wrote refer to them as the Gang of Four. With your indulgence, I’m going to refer to them as the Four Statesmen, and refer to their effort as the Four Statesmen’s proposal. If you think that indicates where I stand on the issue, you would be right. But their overall conclusion is that the threat of nuclear proliferation cannot be turned back without a strong global partnership. For that global partnership to be created means the United States must re-engage in a wide range of nuclear control issues, including in a treaty format and not just voluntary or parallel actions.
So now, Daryl, I’m going to get to what you assigned me to talk about, what should be done. Just for grins, I thought I’ll go back and see what we put in the 13 steps. Part of that was a little bit of devilment in me; because the administration didn’t even want to use the term 13 steps during the first five years, I thought I’d use it as often as possible. But secondly, and perhaps more importantly, those 13 steps probably represent the most comprehensive listing of the international community, to date, on actions that need to be taken to fulfill the requirements of Article VI. I’m not going to walk you through each of the 13 steps. I’m going to talk actually in terms of about a dozen steps; most of them, I think, you’ll find very familiar.
The first is drawn directly from the preamble to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty itself, the comprehensive test ban. The opportunity to achieve a comprehensive test ban was missed in 1963 with the Limited Test Ban Treaty, but the preamble says it’s still the objective, the goal that we’re going to shoot for. Clearly, that should be a high priority for the United States. Right into that comprehensive test ban, obviously, is maintenance of a moratorium until such time as one can bring it into force.
A fissile material production ban, another one I think that is obvious, that goes back to 1995. It was in the “Principles and Objectives” document, it was in the 2000 document, it’s in the Reykjavik Revisited document, it’s everywhere. I wish I could be really optimistic that we’re going to see real progress on the fissile material cutoff, but it has been 10-12 years now that the Conference on Disarmament has been struggling with this and they still can’t even get negotiations started. It’s hard to be optimistic. It’s equally hard to envisage another negotiating forum where you can get some countries, such as India, Israel, and Pakistan. to participate. I suspect there are interim steps that could be taken. One, I would suggest, is that perhaps we ought to look at formalizing, more than we have to date, the existing moratorium among the five nuclear-weapon states. Let’s at least start the process and, eventually, perhaps we can bring along some of the outliers.
Irreversibility, another important concept; I guess I could ask the question if anybody here actually believes that deployed versus non-deployed meets the test of irreversibility. I certainly don’t think it does. Clearly, what was contemplated is elimination and elimination not only of delivery systems as been the standard unit of account in the past, but of warheads themselves and perhaps even more important, elimination of production facilities so that further weapons cannot be built.
The Four Statesmen call for establishing the goal of eliminating or abolishing all nuclear weapons. This, obviously, has created excitement on one side of the political spectrum and dismay on the other side. I think the people who call them the Gang of Four are the ones who are most dismayed by the concept of eliminating all nuclear weapons. But I certainly think the Four Statesmen had it correct. If you do not have that objective in mind, even if you can’t plan on achieving it tomorrow, you do have to have that as your overall goal. A public endorsement of that by the United States as the overall goal, without all the caveats of the past, would go a long way, I think, toward starting to create that global partnership that the Four Statesmen talk about.
START II and the ABM Treaty were mentioned in 2000, and while they’re probably not as germane today, the issues that they embody are still germane, and that is further reductions in the number of nuclear warheads by the United States and Russia. It’s now become quite clear that a problem for Russia remains U.S. plans for missile defense; some movement toward agreement on how to cooperatively work on missile defense is needed. So it’s quite clear that further reductions from where we are now to a half, even, one could hope for. Hopefully this afternoon, when we have the two candidates’ representatives speaking to us, we can get some more definitive views of what their plans, their proposals, might be in this area of further reductions.
As we reduce further, verification becomes much more of important, but it also becomes much more difficult. You can no longer rely simply on counting delivery vehicles; you have to start dealing with the question of warheads. It is instructive, as was pointed out in I think the last issue, or perhaps next-to-last issue, of Arms Control Today, there was the Trilateral Initiative where the United States, Russia, and the IAEA spent a fair degree of time basically under the rubric of the Nunn-Lugar program, trying to figure out how to verify that the material that was being safeguarded was the material that came from nuclear weapons. There’s a lot of ingenious ideas, as Tom Shea points out in that article, that could be drawn upon to help us move toward what I think becomes an essential for meaningful verification in the future. It will not be easy, let me quickly add.
Transparency, increased transparency: I want to spend just a couple of my remaining five minutes on transparency, not because I don’t think the United States is transparent, but because I think China is not. I can remember very vividly spending about two hours sitting in the Chinese embassy in Geneva, in the spring of 2000, receiving a lecture from Sha Zukang of China about why China could not accept transparency under any circumstances, and how those with small stockpiles, et cetera, et cetera, can’t accept transparency. I would have been probably much better off not to have raised that issue in the Chinese mission because obviously he had to make sure that the recording devices heard his strenuous objection, and they certainly did.
But it’s certainly true that China lags behind all the nuclear-weapon states in transparency about their program. I believe it is more then past time for the United States to begin a strategic dialogue with China about nuclear weapons. Not one where we simply go in and lecture, but one where we sit down and we talk and we listen. It is certainly true that during the years with the Soviet Union that our years of discussion led to a better understanding of each other. I think it also led to improvements in the nuclear doctrines of both countries. We need to have that dialogue.
As long as I’m making this point, I want to go to a broader point. Article VI is not limited in its scope simply to the nuclear-weapon states. It calls upon all parties to work toward disarmament. Again, let me go back to 2000: the new agenda coalition and the United States, and some of the other nuclear-weapon states, were having some discussion in trying to figure out, as we approached the conference, how we could work our way through the conference. One time, when I was meeting solely with the New Agenda Coalition, I took them to task because while they went out of their way to name specifically the United States and Russia, and the obligations they had, they said absolutely nothing about China. Yet, at the time, China was the only country in the world that was building more delivery vehicles and more nuclear weapons.
So, again, if we are to take these criticisms and if they’re to be taken seriously and appear to be credible, then the Nonaligned Movement itself must broaden and be more comprehensive in its approach and not simply saying, well, we know we can pick on the United States; they’re used to it. It is fair to hold us to a higher standard, no question about that. I hope the United States will always be held to a higher standard than a country like China or a country like Russia. But it is not fair, it is not right, to say well, we’re really interested in getting nuclear disarmament and then not say anything about the country that is actually building nuclear weapons.
Non-strategic nuclear weapons, this is an area that needs to be addressed. It has not been addressed. I think it is more then past time we should be examining a possible tradeoff between U.S. nuclear weapons deployed in Western Europe and Russian nuclear weapons.
Reducing the operational status of nuclear weapons; how many years did we all hear, talk about, and read in the newspaper that we have to be concerned because the Russian infrastructure for handling and dealing with nuclear weapons is deteriorating, and we really can’t trust it. Then, what do we find? The U.S. Air Force is perhaps emulating Russia. It’s clearly past time to lengthen the short reaction time, or let’s just do away with the “launch on notice” concepts that we now have. Let’s build in some real meaningful time for both leaders in the United States and Russia to think about the consequences of their actions as opposed to having them merely react.
Diminishing nuclear weapons and security policy; I think I’ve already said enough about that and Daryl is fidgeting, so I know I need to keep moving.
Lastly, let me say a few words about excess fissile material. Not much has been said about that topic in the last several years. Not much has been added to the excess fissile material that is being either blended down in the case of HEU or in some of the plutonium that is being put into a different status. But those activities are ongoing. There needs to be, in my judgment, additions to those stockpiles of excess fissile material and disposal of that excess fissile material. Hopefully, if we get the reductions called for earlier, we will also end up with excess fissile material that can be permanently put beyond the reach of nuclear weapons.
Let me conclude, Daryl breathes a sigh of relief now, these are the 12 steps that are among those that are necessary to show compliance with Article VI. The U.S. has long argued that the best way to achieve total nuclear disarmament is through incremental steps. I personally remain unsure that we can get to zero, but I do believe the Four Statesmen are fundamentally correct when they say that we should publicly embrace that goal and engage in a series of interim steps. As these steps are taken, I do believe it becomes clearer and clearer to determine what the next steps are and how those next steps become more achievable.
Lastly, let me say that this city, particularly this time of the year has always been treated to all sorts of ideal promises about what should happen in the next four years, and then somehow during the course of the next four years, a lot of it disappears, and we are obviously in that season again. What steps can we take now to ensure that these great ideas that hopefully the candidates will embrace are not simply lost in the bureaucracy and become yet another broken campaign promise? How do we avoid nonproliferation and arms control from being treated as, quote, “business as usual?”
I believe that we are facing an extraordinary threat, and I believe that extraordinary threats require extraordinary means. This for me means that the president, the day after the election, should appoint a prominent individual whose job during the transition is to establish more clearly our nonproliferation and arms control objectives. Then he needs to examine how we achieve them. For me, I do not believe that these priorities can be achieved by merely adding this list of objectives to what is an already burgeoning agenda at the Department of State.
So for me, the seriousness of achieving these measures—I might quickly underscore conveying to other countries the seriousness of our purpose in seeking to achieve these—can best be accomplished by establishing an independent agency. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
KIMBALL: Thank you very much Norm. Next up is Sharon Squassoni.
SHARON SQUASSONI: Well, thank you, Daryl, for the invitation. It’s a pleasure to be here. I thought I was going to be the first speaker and I was thinking about this last night as my six-year-old participated in her very first dive meet. She is about this high and she was the very first diver up there. I asked here later, “were you nervous?” You know, what were you thinking about?” She said, “aw, Mom, I wasn’t thinking, I just dove in.” (Laughter.) But I’ve given this a little bit more thought, but I’m going to dive in here.
Daryl asked me to talk about the challenges to the NPT surrounding Article IV. It’s very fitting actually that I’m sandwiched between Norm and Andy because as everyone is well aware, non-nuclear-weapon states’ perceptions of the bargain of the NPT is influenced by obviously what happens in disarmament and also because the current withdrawal provisions largely pose no consequences for a state that has developed capabilities indigenously that they can amass a breakout capability. And that is what we’re basically talking about here when we’re concerned about enrichment and reprocessing.
Because it’s almost the 40th anniversary of the NPT, I think it’s fitting to look back briefly with a historical perspective. Then I want to focus on how the nature of the problem has shifted and to explore some of the solutions that have been proposed. I am not going to talk specifically or discuss Article IV. There are a lot of people here in this audience that can recite Article IV in their sleep. But let’s just say that the fundamental tension is how to reconcile the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes with preventing states from using their nuclear technology and assets to acquire nuclear weapons. And the $64,000 question—I’m kind of dating myself, maybe it’s the $5-million question—is what is an appropriate nuclear fuel cycle, and if we knew what that was, could we agree on it.
Basically what you’re talking about is where do you draw the line in the fuel cycle. Over time, perceptions have definitely shifted. During the negotiations of the NPT, Swedish Ambassador Alva Myrdal suggested that, well, prohibiting the manufacture of nuclear weapons was maybe a little too late in the game. The NPT never defined what manufacture was. You can see that as states ratified the treaty, particularly West Germany, Australia, and Japan, they were all eager to sort of push that line way down toward manufacture.
When ACDA Director William Foster in 1968 testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he said, “Facts indicating that the purpose of a particular activity was the acquisition of a nuclear explosive device would tend to show noncompliance.” Then he went on to say, well, these are the things that you can do: uranium enrichment and the stockpiling of fissionable material in connection with a peaceful program as long as it’s under safeguards.
Well, times have obviously changed. U.S. Ambassador Jackie Wolcott Sanders told the 2005 NPT review conference—and it’s funny because the words are so similar—“Facts indicating that the purpose of such an activity is the acquisition of a nuclear explosive device would tend to show noncompliance with Article II,” and then she went on to say that examples of activities of concern include seeking certain fuel cycle facilities of direct relevance to nuclear weapons such as enrichment or reprocessing with no clear economic or peaceful justification, as well as violating your safeguards activities and having clandestine facilities.
So what is behind the change of heart? I think we’re all familiar with developments since 2001 of increased concern about possible threats from terrorists ranging from attacks on nuclear facilities to just interest in nuclear weapons and access to radiological materials. Daryl already mentioned the A.Q. Khan network, and as we discover more and more, it becomes increasingly disturbing about transfers to North Korea, Iran, and Libya, not just of this sensitive information and designs related to centrifuges but also obviously Iran’s enrichment and heavy-water production and reactor programs.
We’re equally aware of efforts to restrict enrichment and reprocessing and the offer of incentives for forgoing such capabilities since 2004. Those include President Bush’s 2004 speech while he was at the National Defense University, calling on the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to restrict the transfer of sensitive technology to states with fully functioning capabilities. There also are the G8 moratorium, fuel-bank proposals, and other fuel assurances including multinational fuel cycle centers and the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP).
But these have been proposed in a new context for nuclear energy. For many years, you could argue, since we had the Three-Mile Island and Chernobyl accidents that nuclear power largely had been a kind of a sleepy issue under the technical cooperation umbrella of the IAEA. Today, you could argue that it’s the number-one issue as more and more states express an interest in developing nuclear power.
My count is more than 25 since 2005. The drivers of this are enthusiasm by major industrial states and vendors including the U.S., France, and Russia, and concern about global climate change and energy security. Now, whether or not this expansion meets the optimistic projections of its proponents, the current message, at least to me, is clear: advanced nuclear states support nuclear energy for all. So you may be asking, well, nuclear power is different from enrichment and reprocessing, what does this all have to do with each other?
When you look at expansion, you can have an expansion without reprocessing if you don’t go the fast-reactor route. But that is not what is being considered right now, at least by the United States. You cannot have expansion without more enrichment unless you are willing to entertain heavy-water reactors, which some of us might think would be a setback.
Can we keep enrichment and reprocessing to the current technology holders? I think it’s unlikely. As a matter of fact, if you look at the MIT 2003 Future of Nuclear Power projections, their high projection, which is out to 1,500 gigawatts, which is, I guess, a quadrupling, they believe that many, many, many more states would have enrichment technology.
At the same time, unfortunately, the initiatives designed to dampen demand, such as GNEP, in sensitive nuclear technologies like enrichment and reprocessing have had unintended effects. Ukraine and South Africa are now seeking a full fuel cycle. Canada desires to enrich uranium and is resisting NSG efforts to establish more detailed criteria for restrictions. Under the U.S.-Indian deal, India repeatedly insisted on full civil nuclear cooperation.
So what are our solutions? Well, there are four approaches: an ad-hoc, what I call an ad-hoc, approach; new criteria, which the NSG is considering; three, you can dampen demand; and, number four, you can come up with technical fixes on the ad-hoc approach.
Well, this has largely been done by the Nuclear Suppliers Group since the mid-1970s. They have had a policy of restraint on enrichment and reprocessing technology. This is heavily dependent on diplomacy, on sweeteners. For the most it’s worked, and you have to ask is Iran just an outlier? Are there more A.Q. Khan networks out there? But you also have to ask the question, does this work in the context of enthusiasm for nuclear energy? What if we reach a world of 1,500 gigawatts? Who is going to be enriching? Who is going to be reprocessing? What if breeder reactors, or burner reactors, if you want to call them that, are seriously pursued? And, will a technical recycling of fuel, that is, you’re reprocessing but you don’t separate out the plutonium, solve our proliferation concerns? I’m just raising these questions.
The second approach, new criteria; the Nuclear Suppliers Group has been wrestling with this since 2004. The most recent talks on it have hit a stumbling block. What they’re seeking to do is provide more detail on paragraph six in the guidelines. Those things include things you would expect to see: additional protocol. There is something in there about no replication of technology. There are things in there about regional implications. Of course they put in something about a coherent and rational approach; I don’t know whether enrichment and reprocessing would be coherent and rational. They didn’t, I don’t think, have anything on economics in there. They’re not having a lot of success. Countries, when they’re looking at this enthusiasm for nuclear energy, they want to keep their options open. So it’s not entirely clear to me that this is going to move forward.
The third approach, dampening demand by offering incentives, include fuel banks, multilateral enrichment centers, et cetera. This only works if the target states see it as useful. It’s clear in terms of Iran that they are not interested. But other states, it’s not entirely clear. You need to build a kind of bandwagon effect and that hasn’t happened so far.
Finally, the technical fixes. The conclusion 30 years ago of earlier fuel-cycle evaluations was that technical approaches aren’t going to work so you really need an institutional approach. But now we have Urenco offering its centrifuge technology on a black-box basis. I think it’s Geoff Forden’s work that proposes we should even given Iran centrifuge technology as long as it has a hidden kind of self-destruct mechanism in there. I leave it to you as to whether we should put all of our eggs in that technical-fix basket.
Maybe it’s because I worked at the Congressional Research Service for too long or I’m inherently skeptical, you have to say, well, is this stuff necessary? Do we really need these fixes? You could say, well, enrichment and reprocessing; it’s un-economic. So don’t worry about it. States really won’t seriously pursue it. Before 2004, we really didn’t see many countries interested in getting into the enrichment game, Iran not withstanding. So you ask, well, is it economics? Is it norms? Is it defeatism because countries assume they wouldn’t be offered enrichment technology?
You have to say, well, no, you know, look at Canada or look at South Africa. These are NSG members that were in the inside group. This argument I think assumes that nuclear decisions are economic decisions, but I think we all know that that’s not always the case. The second argument against, well, don’t worry about this says, well, the nuclear renaissance is not going to happen so the pressure will be off. But when we look at what our proliferation concerns are, it’s not really quantity—well, it could be quantity—what’s happening geographically. Even if this large, rapid expansion doesn’t happen, a limited expansion in certain regions could matter. In particular, what happens with Iran matters. When you look at these states that are interested in nuclear power now, half of them are in the Middle East.
The third argument against this is, well, breakout capability is expensive and diversion is tough. States, if they’re really going to try and seek enrichment, they’re not going to do it through a declared facility; they’re going to go for a clandestine approach. Well, they could do both if they have money. A legitimate program might help mask clues of interest.
I have a few final thoughts. It seems to me, when you look at all of this in the context of potential expansion of nuclear power, we’re going to need to manage that expansion, particularly perceptions because the last thing we want is another level of discrimination. Here we have the nuclear-weapon states and the non-nuclear-weapon states. Now we have the nuclear power states and the non-nuclear power states.
Second, I think we have to explore different avenues of attack. One of those is getting the nuclear industry in on this, getting them to not supply countries that don’t have the additional protocol. We need to get them to develop industry codes of conduct.
Lastly, I’m going to be a little more optimistic than you, Norm, although maybe that’s because I worked so long on a cutoff in ACDA. I think we need to use renewed interest in a fissile material production cutoff treaty to steer us toward eventual multilateralization of all enrichment and reprocessing facilities. I think part of the problem we face here is that there is still national prestige associated with these sensitive nuclear facilities; more so on enrichment than reprocessing. It’s not clear to me that a whole lot of countries want to go down that reprocessing route. I’m going to stop there. Thank you. (Applause.)
KIMBALL: Thank you very much, Sharon, for boiling down a very complex subject to its essential elements. Andy Semmel is next.
ANDREW SEMMEL: Thanks, Daryl. First of all, let me say it’s a pleasure to be here to talk on behalf of myself. That’s the good news. The bad news is that when I talk on behalf of myself these days, I have to prepare my own remarks and that means I rely upon the thin veneer of my knowledge and background.
Daryl asked me to focus on the nexus between safeguards, verification, and compliance, and as they relate, obviously, to the NPT. So I’ll do that. I’ll focus on verification through the safeguard system of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) because it’s the sole international mechanism for monitoring nuclear activities and commitments that are undertaken by states in conformity with their NPT obligations.
Needless to say, verification is important to the credibility and the viability of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. When states accept and implement the IAEA safeguards, this serves as a confidence-building measure in which states can demonstrate and ensure other states that nuclear energy is being used solely for peaceful purposes.
But the safeguards are also important because they can set off alarm bells when a country diverts its nuclear material away from peaceful purposes and are not in compliance, therefore, with their safeguards or their NPT obligations. Without this confidence and without the timely alarms that the safeguards and verification can provide, the credibility of the NPT can be weakened and undermined. Proliferation and nuclear terrorism become simply more likely.
The IAEA’s safeguards responsibilities have grown rapidly over the last decade or so. Over the last 15 years, the amount of nuclear material under safeguards has increased about 10-fold. This rapid growth in safeguards requirements is likely to grow even more rapidly in the future for some of the reasons that have already been discussed: the expected renaissance of nuclear energy, fuel cycle technology is becoming more accessible, climate change, and the like.
Safeguards and verification methodologies are works in progress. Some of you know this much better than I, but over the years, they’ve evolved in response to geopolitical changes that have taken place in the international system to meet new challenges. This evolution has essentially been reactive. That is to say, it’s reacted to those events that have taken place. The evolution has evolved in such a way as to make successive demands for greater transparency in states’ nuclear programs.
I won’t go into this very much in depth, but it’s useful to talk a little bit about the background. Initially, safeguards, going way back to the immediate post-1957 period of time, were really applied only at the discretion of states. In the immediate pre-NPT period after France and China joined the nuclear club in the 1960s, there was a demand for internationally, legally binding commitments to halt the further spread of nuclear weapons. In 1967, the Treaty of Tlatelolco, which was the first nuclear-weapon-free zone by the way, made binding IAEA safeguards a requirement for all states-parties. Then the NPT was signed the following year and approved.
The IAEA in the early 1970s then drafted a model comprehensive safeguards agreement, which obliged all non-nuclear-weapon states to conclude and enable the IAEA to verify that their nuclear materials were not being diverted toward nuclear weapons programs. This has remained the core of the IAEA’s verification activities for non-nuclear-weapon states. About 160 states right now have a comprehensive safeguards agreement. About 30 do not and this is one of the problems.
The key event, in more recent times, was the discovery in the early 1990s that Iraq had an advanced, undetected, secret nuclear weapons program. This highlighted some of the weaknesses in the existing safeguards and verification implementation. Basically, the discovery was a catalyst for strengthening the safeguards systems to better verify not only the correctness of a state’s declaration of its nuclear material and nuclear program, but also its completeness. The strengthening of the safeguards came in the form of a Model Additional Protocol.
The Model Additional Protocol, which was approved in 1997, gave the IAEA inspectors a number of tools that they didn’t have at the time. I won’t go into a lot of this, but part of it gave the IAEA inspectors information and access to all parts of a state’s nuclear fuel cycle. It gave inspectors short-notice access to buildings at a site, information on the manufacture of exports, information on sensitive nuclear-related materials and equipment, and information from environmental sampling.
There’s much more to it than that, but the point is that the Model Additional Protocol expanded the information base and the access of international inspectors. This greatly expanded the IAEA’s information base. The major problem is that some 11 years later, today, only less than 80 countries have actually signed onto an additional protocol and put it in force. So there are more than 100 states that are out there that have not yet put an additional protocol into force, which, of course, hampers the authority of the international inspectors to go in and verify.
More recently, the IAEA has sought to look deeper into a state’s program, even beyond the additional protocol authorities, using what they call information-driven or the state-level approach to safeguards. In practical terms, that means the IAEA could use practically any source of information that is available to it in the public sector, the inspections, in-field monitoring, satellite imagery, environmental sampling, and the like. Now, I did that very quickly and there’s a lot more to it than I could otherwise discuss.
What happened with the Iraqi experience in 1991 and 1992 that was discovered was that they did have this advanced nuclear weapons program unbeknownst to the International Atomic Energy Agency and the international community at the time. I think we can expect that what’s going to happen now with the cumulative pressures that have developed out of the Iranian case where there has been at least two decades of undeclared experiments and activities.
Not only the Iranian case, but also the North Korean withdrawal from the NPT; the A.Q. Khan network, the secret supply network that was already discussed; and now the mysteries surrounding the Syrian reactor. These kinds of events suggest that there are inadequacies and some gaps in our safeguards and verification program at the international level. These are likely to give, and they already have, rise to new demands for additional authorities, which I want to talk about, to strengthen safeguards and strengthen verification.
Now, President Bush in 2004, as I guess has been noted by Sharon, proposed a number of things in that speech that he gave at the National Defense University. One of them was to create a committee on safeguards and verification at the IAEA. This was a committee that was designed to set up ways in which we could strengthen international safeguards by giving more authorities and more tools for international inspectors to ensure that a country is not using its peaceful programs and diverting it into nuclear weapons uses.
In short, we eventually got the Committee on Safeguards and Verifications set up at the IAEA. Basically, it flopped. After a number of meetings, it simply atrophied because they could not get any agreements on it. But the Secretariat at the IAEA did propose about 18 different proposals which are all kind of interesting. I want to talk about some of those. There have been other studies that have been done to look at ways in which we can strengthen safeguards and verification in order to respond to the new kinds of developments with respect to Iran, with respect to North Korea, the A.Q. Khan network, Syria, and the like.
I suppose the first thing that needs to be said on this score is that probably the most significant development that would strengthen the NPT at this point in time, putting aside some of these recommendations, is if we get the Iran case resolved the right way. If it’s not resolved the right way, then I suspect that the strains in the NPT and the whole verification system are going to become even greater and the whole NPT may begin to unravel even more.
But let me talk about some of the suggestions, the ways in which we might strengthen safeguards and verification, which is what this panel is all about. There are four different areas, I think, that we can look at; four different clusters of areas that are important. First is to give the IAEA more legal authority than they have now. That’s that continuous process that goes back to the 1960s up until the present. Second is to develop new technologies for detection and monitoring that they do not now have. The third way is to strengthen the international expertise for new methods of verification and safeguards. And, finally, new sources of funding. Let me go through a couple of these very, very quickly.
In the area of new and expanding authorities, the most significant advance, I think, that the IAEA and the international inspectors and verification could take would be the universalization of the additional protocol. As I mentioned before, only about 80 countries have an additional protocol in force. That is to say, the authorities that the International Atomic Energy Agency has can only be applied or implemented in those 80 countries; 100 countries or so lack this.
What’s important here is some of the key countries that may or may not be tempted to move down the trail of developing an advanced nuclear weapons program, simply have not put the additional protocol into place. Brazil, Argentina, Egypt, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, and North Korea are all countries that are in that category. Without universalization of the additional protocol, the IAEA’s legal authority is truncated. As long as inspectors remain—inspections remain uneven from country to country—safeguards and verification will not be fully effective and there will be a confidence deficit.
Some suggest in the area of new and expanded authorities that we move toward an “additional protocol plus” or “additional protocol II.” That is to say, go beyond the logic of the evolution of strengthening safeguards over time. Additional protocol II would be gaining even more access to sights and information related to nuclear material, production, and so forth. I suspect this is a very premature suggestion. Let’s get through the first additional protocol before we go to “additional protocol two.” But it’s been suggested.
A second suggestion that’s been made is the right to private interviews. International inspectors ought to be able to interview key individuals that presumably have some knowledge about programs within a country. This gets very tricky; it gets very difficult for the personal security of those individuals who might be interviewed, but it would be useful to have that authority nonetheless, unfettered. The IAEA also needs more authority to investigate possible weaponization. Right now, that authority is somewhat compromised because it exists only when there is some nexus with nuclear material.
States should be encouraged, voluntarily, to report more information to the IAEA on exports, on export denials, on sensitive technology, on suspicious procurement attempts, and the like. This would seem obvious to most of us here, but, in fact, this does not happen in any kind of vigorous way. There should also be greater willingness to share intelligence and proliferation relevant information with the agency; not just to share it, but to share it in a timely manner and to share it with some authority to use it with all of the protections of sources and methodologies. So these are a number of authorities that could be given to the International Atomic Energy Agency which are ambiguous now or which they don’t have.
Secondary, we need to improve technologies to detect and monitor. Information is the heart of verification. If the IAEA is going to be able to adjust to these new stresses and strains with Iran and the like, they need some more tools in their toolbox. There should be more research and development and investment by member states into the means to detect undeclared nuclear activities and clandestine nuclear activities through innovative technologies. This is ongoing, but some more investment ought to take place in this area.
Some of these tools can be used for remote monitoring, technologies used to provide feedback in real time to the IAEA. The agency should also modernize its forensics capabilities, both at the Seibersdorf Analytical Lab in Vienna and also the network of analytical labs that are now in about eight countries around the world. If the volume of material coming in is going to increase, then you need to increase the forensic and modernize their forensic capabilities.
It should also encourage member states and their private industry to design and build safeguards into reactors and into other aspects of the fuel-cycle process. The U.S. labs can play a major role in this in the same way that they built safety features into reactors in the past. Why not build safeguard features into them as well? I think the member states and industry ought to bear the cost of these new designs.
A third area, staffing and expertise, is very self-evident in many ways. The agency now is understaffed. By the way, the State Department also is understaffed in safeguards capabilities, a point that some of us may want to talk about a little bit more. But the agency is understaffed in safeguards personnel. It’s aging and it’s underfunded. The pool of nuclear experts around the world is not particularly deep from which to recruit and to train and to retain the next generation of verification specialists.
I don’t personally think that the IAEA will have to revise its own personnel policies which, in some ways, are outmoded and sometimes counterproductive. This current and next-generation of specialists will need to be educated and trained in the use of safeguards, really a technology know-how. I suspect the U.S. universities, the labs, and professional associations should all play a role in this regard.
Finally, let me discuss the area of funding and resources. The volume of safeguards and verification are simply not only going to increase, but they’re also going to be more difficult, a point that’s been made by both Sharon and Norm. The volume is going to increase because of the growth in the number of nuclear facilities and become more difficult because of the spread of nuclear technology. And knowledge is likely to grow.
There would be a temptation, as Sharon pointed out, to fill out the nuclear fuel cycle and, in many states, to try to develop enrichment and fabrication, waste management, and so forth. This will put additional pressures on the IAEA and they’ll need additional resources to cope with that. All of this will require, as I mentioned, both additional resources, both human and capital resources.
Some of you know that the IAEA is operated under a real, zero-real growth budget requirement since the 1980s, with one exception a few years ago, actually, when I first came into the State Department. If this continues, the IAEA will simply fall far behind the demands for effective verification. Clearly, the requirements have vastly outpaced funding availabilities.
The IAEA now evaluates activities in about 160 states and over 950 facilities and installations with an annual budget of about 130 million euros. This is roughly the budget of a police force in a large city in the United States or, as I just found out last night, about a third of the public schools budget in Arlington County, where I live. The demands that may be placed on it without resources will simply amount to clearly an international functional equivalent of unfunded liabilities.
A final word on the question of enforcement. The credibility of verification and of the NPT, I think, can be enhanced if violators and cheaters are not only detected and identified in a timely way, but also if there are assurances of the consequences for their noncompliance. There should be a price to pay for violators and for those who do not meet their treaty obligations. The IAEA has no independent legal enforcement authority. It has to rely on the United Nations Security Council for action. And the U.N. record, as pointed out already this morning, has been, at best, mixed, not just on the question of verification, but if you look across the panoply of issues on Darfur and Bosnia, Rwanda, and others. On Iran, we’ve had three U.N. Security Council resolutions mandating international sanctions, but Iran continues to enrich uranium.
So it’s difficult to get consensus in the United Nations Security Council, as we know. But the alternatives are not necessarily any better. The alternatives are either unilateralism or the use of force or inaction. What we’ve got right now in terms of the process of enforcement is not particularly satisfactory. Perhaps there ought to be some changes and reforms and additions to the enforcement side of verification.
What we know is that if the IAEA is given additional authorities, as it was in the case of Iraq, and is enabled to have more access and more information, that is, to inspect anytime, anyplace, international verifiers can do a more credible job. We also know that, or think we know, that the cost and consequences of violations or cheating on the obligations ought to be automatic; that is my suggestion.
Violators should pay some penalty for their violations. By that, I mean they ought to pay some penalty for violations even if the violation is technical. This has been a suggestion made by a number of writers on this question. That is to say, if a country inadvertently violates its obligations, there ought to be some consequences even for those countries. So in the past, when Egypt and Romania and South Korea engaged in unintended, presumably unintended, technical violations, there ought to have been some response to it other than a tepid slap on the wrist.
It seems to me that this would be one very important way of hopefully deterring these kinds of technical violations, but, secondly, it would be a way of promoting a stronger compliance culture on the part of member states. One or two other quick examples. Pierre Goldschmidt had made a suggestion that the United Nations Security Council ought to pass a generic resolution that basically says that that applies to all countries. That is to say, when a country does in fact non-technically violate its NPT or safeguards obligations, there ought to be some automaticity in terms of applying some sanctions or some penalty on that country. This is a way of avoiding focusing on an individual country and avoiding the prospect of a veto by one country or significant softening of sanctions on a given country.
I recently noticed also that Senator McCain stated that countries that are in violation or withdraw from the NPT should return or dismantle whatever they received while in good standing in the NPT. Okay. Finally, let me just mention one other thing because this may come up and I think Norm has already mentioned it on the issue of withdrawal from the NPT. This was a question that was catalyzed by the North Koreans’ withdrawal from the NPT in 2003. There’s been a little bit of a growth industry, cottage industry in terms of trying to develop ways in which we can develop an understanding of Article X of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty—Article X is the withdrawal article in the treaty—in such a way as to interpret it so the understanding is that countries would be deterred from withdrawing on the one hand because there are expectations of penalties and costs associated with, and, if they do withdraw from the NPT, that, in fact, the penalties and the punishment would be sure to follow; punishment in the form of returning all nuclear materials and equipment that have been accumulated while the country that has withdrawn was in good standing and cut off all nuclear supplies through the Nuclear Suppliers Group and other means. The real issue here is, how do you do it? How do you enforce that once you reinterpret Article X in such a way?
So, there are a number of ways on the side of strengthening safeguards, I think, that are important for strengthening verification and thereby strengthening the NPT, as well as ways I think we can also address the question of enforcement in order to also strengthen and reinforce the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Thanks. (Applause.)
KIMBALL: Well, thank you all for your very rich and full presentations. We’ve got a lot of material to discuss. Now is your opportunity to ask the panelists your questions and there are microphones that will be brought to you if you could just please identify yourself and ask your question. We’ll start right here. Thank you.
QUESTION: Andrew Pierre, Georgetown University. Daryl, in his introduction, mentioned the weekend news, so I guess that’s fair game for discussion this morning. For anybody who missed it, yesterday’s Washington Post had an article saying that the design of compact warheads, miniature warheads, appeared on one or more computers, laptops, several years ago linked to the A.Q. Khan network and some Swiss businessmen and that it looked like that information had been transmitted to countries. David Sanger, this morning, talks in the plural, a number of countries that might have received it. I noticed Ambassador Wulf used the term “tipping point.” Very often, in complex situations, there are a number of tipping points. I’m sure you would agree. I wondered to what extent in this nonproliferation field that we’re all so deeply devoted to, that will not be seen as a tipping point? More importantly, perhaps, to the extent that it is possible, can the arms control community and this organization in particular somehow focus itself a bit more in the past on this secretive world of warhead design and the transmission of warhead design to a number of countries which might potentially put them to use? That’s for anybody on the panel who wants to venture into this field.
KIMBALL: Maybe, Norm, if you could start. We were talking about this before we started this morning.
WULF: I think it’s an extremely good question and, obviously, an extremely troublesome development. We’ve always known, I think, in the nonproliferation field that the area of export controls was a very, very useful tool, but it’s a tool of diminishing value; diminishing value because of increasing industrialization. I have to say that I tend to have some doubts as to whether A.Q. Khan really was acting without the knowledge and authorization of his government, but I can understand why we have to pay lip service to that concept.
But with the A.Q. Khan network and the release of this kind of information, both either warhead design and enrichment technology, one has to assume that’s out there now for anybody who has got some money and maybe not even that much money. So the real question is not hiding the secret. Now the question is, can you control enough of the technology, the industrialization process, to try to prevent countries from acquiring a nuclear capability? Obviously, that becomes much more difficult as free trade puts more and more complex facilities in more and more countries. We’ve seen in the case of North Korea that one can build and design a reprocessing capability. We’ve seen in the case of Libya that Malaysia can build enrichment centrifuges. There’s a lot of, shall we say, capability out there.
So the heavy reliance we placed upon export controls has got to be bolstered; we have to find something else to refurbish the nonproliferation regime. The biggest factor needed is political will in compliance issues, for example, and setting an example, creating an example. The question then becomes, who can provide the leadership to demonstrate that political will? Who can provide the example for the other countries of the world?
I think the answer remains, it has to be fundamentally, the United States because we have to go out, I believe, and work extremely aggressively with all of the countries in the world trying to shore up the norm of nonproliferation as an international norm to help make up for the weakening of export controls. That’s another part of the tipping point. I totally agree with you that we are at a serious point in time because of the A.Q. Khan network.
KIMBALL: Andy or Sharon, do you have some thoughts on this question? Or not?
SQUASSONI: Just briefly. Norm made the point that all of the elements of our nonproliferation regime are designed to delay, make more difficult, give countries maybe a second thought about what they are about to embark on. From an intelligence perspective, the real hurdle you’re looking at is the fissile-material production, which we’ve always considered to be the hardest part, not the weaponization.
Weaponization everybody always assumed was six months. Is this really disturbing? Yeah. I think the more disturbing thing about the Kahn network was that it was kind of a full-service salon. It wasn’t just the information, but it was the entire network of manufacturers. I don’t know if this is a tipping point, but it’s certainly a very serious development.
KIMBALL: In listening to Andy Semmel’s presentation for the recommendations that he listed, I think this incident makes several of those much, much more relevant. Giving the IAEA the right to interview certain individuals would have been useful in 2003 when Kahn was outed. It would still be useful today and I think the United States has a responsibility to try to help the IAEA interview Kahn and some of his associates. Pakistan has a responsibility, too, because this is a qualitatively more severe form of proliferation that we’re hearing about now.
This incident makes added IAEA authority to investigate weaponization all the more important. Of course, as Norm was saying, this makes the role of the United States in decreasing the salience of nuclear weapons and strengthening the taboo—I think there is a taboo against the use of nuclear weapons—all the more important. So those are a couple.
SEMMEL: I would just say one thing. Obviously, what this speaks to is some of the weakness of existing international controls that we have through all of the means that are available to us. As Sharon pointed out, many of the dual-use technologies and know-how are being disseminated very rapidly. If Sanger is right, if the cat is out of the bag, then we have to figure out how this would not happen again.
But one of the things this drives home to me, in my own pessimistic view of the world, is that maybe this amounts to a tipping point. It just seems to me that if one of the poorest countries in the world, North Korea, can develop a nuclear weapons programs and even set off a modest nuclear weapon, and if Iran breaks out—a country that has been subjected to close to a dozen IAEA resolutions, three U.N. Security Council resolutions mandating international sanctions, two decades or more of U.S. unilateral sanctions, international ostracism and so forth and so on; you can tack onto that as much as you want—then the system that we’ve got in place right now is simply inadequate and that there are gaps.
We need to begin to identify those gaps and fill them as best we can. It’s very difficult in the international context. Norm is right; somebody’s got to take the leadership role. The United States certainly can do that and I would think that, in the role that I play, that there’s a lot more willingness to take these kinds of steps to fill gaps if somebody takes the lead. There’s a lot more, shall we say, reserve out there in the international community among other countries that, if somebody sort of gets to the head of the line and starts moving, that others will want to go along with long enough to address these kinds of proliferation problems. Quite frankly, we haven’t taken that leadership role in recent years.
KIMBALL: Other questions? If we could get Charles Ferguson right there. Thank you.
QUESTION: Thanks, Daryl. Charles Ferguson, Council on Foreign Relations. My question is to Andy Semmel and I really enjoyed your recommendations. I was nodding my head to all of them and I enjoyed your excellent history of the safeguard system and how it’s evolved. What probably many of us in the room realize, you’ve reminded us, is that every time the safeguard system has kind of jerked forward, it has been because of a crisis.
I think what you’re asking in your recommendations is can we be more proactive? I think what was left out of your talk, which is the really hard thing, and I’ll pose this question to you, is who stymied further development of safeguards? What has stymied further development of safeguards? Is it bureaucracy? Is it inertia? Is it lack of political will? Is it the IAEA board of governors and how it’s made up? Is it the fact that safeguards are perceived as a burden? Is there a way to change that dynamic so it’s not looked upon as a burden, but looked upon as some type of positive thing? As you know, there’s this trade-off that when the non-nuclear-weapon states see more safeguards being applied to them, they want more technical cooperation. So it’s not the tradeoff. We have to sort of buy them off with more technical cooperation. Thank you.
SEMMEL: I think you gave an excellent response to your own question. Part of the problem is, of course, the decision-making in international organizations. In the case of IAEA, it’s very difficult to get 35 members to agree on issues which they’ve historically disagreed on because it entails, among other things at the IAEA, more funding. That is to say, each country would then be committed to providing more resources. I can tell you, for the miniscule amount of funding that this involves for a number of the countries, the intensity of the disagreements is extraordinary that take place in trying to move forward on that.
You’re absolutely right, also, about the balance, at least in the International Atomic Energy Agency, that needs to be struck. It’s a political balance. You have to make sure that there’s enough resources devoted to technical cooperation and technical assistance to the vast number of countries, which are all really concerned about the benefits; the peaceful benefits in health and sanitation and agriculture that derive from nuclear know-how and nuclear technologies that the IAEA can funnel to them, as the case may be. The issue is how you balance that off against some of the larger nonproliferation concerns that the United States has. That’s a very, very difficult process.
It’s a little bit of all of those things. Again, unless there is somebody that jumps out and sort of grabs the reigns on this issue, in the same way that the Four Statesmen have grabbed the reigns on the issue of nuclear disarmament, it’s not likely that we’re going to see a lot of these changes. The changes are going to be, at best, incremental. They’re not going to be any vast, giant leap-forwards, quantum leaps in terms of changes because the process is a very conservative process, very slow-moving. Only when the dangers, the kinds that we all mentioned today, are very self-evident will the international community operate.
The United States, again, I think Norm is absolutely right. We’re in a position, even with our current disposition in the world, I think we’re in a position to take a much more aggressive leadership role. It’s in our interest to do so. It’s not that we ought to do that, but we have our own problems. You know how difficult it is just to get a little bit more funding for the United States into verification and safeguards and to the IAEA. Given the enormous costs associated with it, in the absence of this funding, it’s surprising that we have these kinds of difficulties. I’ve experienced them; some of you have experienced them first-hand as well in the bureaucracy.
So I think it’s all of those kinds of problems, Charles, but I don’t expect any rapid turnaround. As I say, the demands on improving our efforts to ensure compliance are vastly exceeding our ability to deal with them at this point in time. That’s what some of my pessimism is all about.
KIMBALL: I think Norm has a response. If you could make it brief, we are running short on time. We are going to take about two or three more questions before we make our transition to the next session.
WULF: I was just going to quickly add that when we negotiated the Model Additional Protocol in 1997, the biggest problem we had was with Europe and Japan. What broke that logjam was a letter from President Clinton to Chancellor Cole saying the United States would accept the same obligations. I think President Bush in 2001 submitted that protocol for advice and consent in the Senate. The Senate gave that advice and consent in about 2003. Legislation to implement it was passed, now, granted, it is bad legislation. Nonetheless, legislation was passed to implement it in 2006. It’s still not in force. We can’t go back to Europe and sell an additional strengthening of that protocol until we finally do what we’ve said we’re going to do all along.
KIMBALL: Okay. We’ve got Larry Weiler right here, if you’d bring the microphone quickly. Then we’ll take a couple of questions on the other side with Joel and Wayne. Thank you. Larry?
QUESTION: Two points that Norm mentioned that I would like to ask for a response on. First, he just added at the end about the need for, I gather he’s talking about, new machinery to handle all of these many things that have to be done. I think that to only set forth great goals of many things that have to be done without addressing the issue of how in the government you’re going to ever have the capability to address them is a problem. We’re missing a great bit here.
The main thing I would like to address is the question of legitimacy of nuclear weapons. If we accept that there are various strategic reasons why people do or do not go, one of the things is the political will. That has to do with whether or not they believe the world is going to be a world of nuclear weapons. For some reason, we keep going away from the idea of taking action that indicates we really do mean business this time by addressing the issue of nuclear weapons use.
No one addresses that. We did have a gang of three a long time ago: Robert McNamara and McGeorge Bundy and Gerard Smith. We had one president, Johnson, who authorized a no-first-use proposal, which the public does not know about. But it seems to me that to address the issue of the de-legitimizing nuclear weapons while you’re waiting, or at least part of the beginning of addressing all of these other questions before we get to zero nuclear weapons in the world, is what is missing here.
KIMBALL: Thank you. Let’s take a couple of questions over here, please, and then we’ll have the panelists answer the set.
QUESTION: Hi, Jill Parillo from Physicians for Social Responsibility. Thank you very much today for your talks. I was really learning a lot and ready to do a lot of research with some of that. Well, first of all, I just want to add to your story, Ambassador Wulf. I was interning for the Monterey Institute at the Conference on Disarmament. We were in Geneva, but we all flew over to New York for a PrepCom in 2004 so I knew Ambassador Sanders because we were at the Conference on Disarmament together. She sent her third secretary over somewhere during the conference, and he said, “please, can you quickly write down the 13 steps to nuclear disarmament? (Laughter.) We don’t know what they are.” So I actually did have to write them down. Anyways, but my question is for all of you, actually. To receive more concessions in order to prevent the further spread of sensitive fuel-cycle technology, could you mention two or three incentives we could bring to the 2010 NPT Review Conference. Thank you.
KIMBALL: Thank you. Wayne? Over here.
QUESTION: My question is for Andy Semmel. I was listening to all of the very useful steps that you outlined on verification and enforcement. It struck me that one thing that would benefit all of them was that if we had a larger pool of experts who could speak the languages of the targeted proliferating states. It seemed like it would be a relatively cheap investment to have programs in high schools, colleges, and grad schools to teach more students to speak Arabic, Farsi, and whatever other languages would be useful. Do you think that’s a useful approach?
KIMBALL: So we have three questions on the table: what to do about 2010, the no-first-use issue, and then this last question. Norm?
WULF: I’ll quickly do the no-first-use question. I think the rule of declaratory policies remains important. I would say not only should we have a no-first-use policy, but it could also be very useful to reiterate our negative security assurance that was, shall we say, revalidated, if I can phrase it that way, in 1995, prior to the extension conference.
But as important as declaratory policies are, actions are even more important. What I would like to see most of all are some real meaningful reductions in the number of stockpiles in a verifiable and irreversible manner.
SQUASSONI: I would say, just briefly, you asked Jill about incentives we could bring, and you can look at them as gee, should they just be focused in fuel-cycle areas or, you know, broader. Because I think you can’t forget, obviously, the disarmament part of it. I would say the U.S. should come out and say that one or two of its new centrifuge or enrichment plants will be multilateral or multinational. The other thing, we could come with is an effectively verifiable cutoff draft treaty.
SEMMEL: The last question first: on the question of the desirability of having a larger pool of specialists dealing with verification, safeguards and the like, obviously, language capabilities would amplify upon those technical skills that they might not otherwise have. Last year, I addressed a group of graduate students from the University of California system and their entire focus was on international forensics. So there are some programs, Monterey and others episodically, that are dealing with this. But I don’t think there’s any systematic effort to deal with enlarging the pool of expertise.
I mentioned tongue-in-cheek, in my presentation, that even in the State Department, we’ve sort of drained that capability down to a handful of individuals who are very good. So internationally we lack this capability, but also internally we lack it as well. We really got to do something about this rapidly, it seems to me.
In terms of incentives for the 2010 review conference, I’ll retrace some biases here. Whenever anybody mentions the 2005 Review Conference the palms of my hand begin to sweat. (Laughter.) When you want something, you got to consider giving something; to get, you have to give. One of the things that I would have liked to have seen us do in 2005, and now we should do it in 2010, is to simply propose that we would be more forthcoming in technical assistance for the vast majority of countries that are going to be at the 2010 conference. That may or may not sort of open up the gates a little bit more.
I think we ought to seriously think about a re-declaration of the positive security assurances that go back, as well as offering some sense of thinking about negative security assurances as well. But those are very difficult policy nuts to crack. We ought to, this was already suggested, perhaps put much more of our excess fissile material under international safeguards, inspection, and the like. These are all kinds of things that the United States can do to indicate that we are willing to go the extra step if other countries are willing to follow the lead. From a technical standpoint and from a procedural standpoint, the nuclear-weapon states in 2010 ought to try to develop a statement, a combined statement by the five nuclear-weapon states, expressing where we stand as a unique collectivity. Hopefully, if that can be done in a positive way, this would set into motion some really positive expectations about where we’re going to go in the future of the NPT.
KIMBALL: Thank you, Andy. Norm’s presentation at the beginning reminds us that one of the other key steps the United States can take is to be in action to pursue some of those key 13 steps that were outlined in 2000, well ahead of the 2010 review conference itself.
We have time for about one more question. I see around the corner there are some smart people in the overflow area and I want to give them a chance to ask a question, even though they may have arrived just a couple minutes too late. I’m going to let our intern decide who of you will ask the question because I can’t see that way, though you can see me. So go ahead, ask your question please, and tell us who you’re directing it to because they can’t see you either. Or step forward, please.
QUESTION: My name is Morris Klein. It’s to Ms. Squassoni. At the end, she said something about national pride. I’ve heard Iranians speak and they say, why not? Why can’t we have one? Everyone else has them. So the question is, how do we discourage this line of thinking, where it’s our national right to have weapons in this world. Being a former scientist, when there is a will, there is a way. Countries will find a way to have nuclear weapons. Thank you.
KIMBALL: Thank you. That sounds like a good question to end this session on. Sharon?
SQUASSONI: That’s a great question, but I feel like this is a radio show because I can’t see you. (Laughter.) It’s a great question and it applies to, you know, how do we discourage other countries not to develop not just uranium enrichment, but nuclear weapons when we seem to hold them so dear. We would have to take, you know, a position, I think, that would be very hard for us to take. I remember Barry Blechman once standing up at a very defense-heavy conference saying nuclear weapons: we don’t like them; they’re no good; we’re never going to use them; they’re awfully expensive; they create lots of waste; you know, let’s just be frank about it. Everyone in the audience went, oh! You know, we could get up and say uranium enrichment: it’s incredibly expensive; it has environmental consequences; you can’t really make money off of it; and a whole bunch of those things.
But I think those are hard arguments for us to make. You can also push it further on fast-breeder reactors and plutonium in a civil fuel cycle. Nobody, the Japanese, the French, and the Russians, don’t want to say how expensive this is and how hard it is to get the technology to work. I really think the solution, therefore, is just to say let’s not do it nationally. Let’s multi-nationalize it. It’s very hard to come up with a definition of what that is in terms of ownership, management, and all of those things. I haven’t heard anybody really describe it very well. I think that’s the solution. Rather than trying to say, you know, gee, this isn’t such a great approach, we’ll say, well, let’s do it together. We’ll take the national prestige out of it that way.
KIMBALL: Either of you have any pearls of wisdom on that question?
SEMMEL: The only wisdom I would have is what I said earlier, which is that the best way is by setting the example. Sharon’s suggestion, for example, of taking one of our facilities and multi-nationalizing it would be a first good step in trying to demonstrate that this is the way to go. The other, obviously, is with the whole package of de-legitimizing nuclear possession in the first place.
KIMBALL: Please join me in thanking our panelists. (Applause.)