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Is Non-Proliferation a Lost Cause?

Is Non-Proliferation a Lost Cause?

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Originally published in November 2009, this paper says that the aim of stopping the spread of nuclear weapons is not a lost cause.
Originally published in November 2009, this paper says that the aim of stopping the spread of nuclear weapons is not a lost cause.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: German Marshall Fund of the United States on Sep 30, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Summary: Non-prolifera-tion efforts have swungwildly from successes tofailures. But the aim ofstopping the spread ofnuclear weapons is nota lost cause. In order tosustain its credibility andlegitimacy it is vital nowthat solutions of one formor another are found forthe main challenges thatare faced in India-Pakistan,North Korea and Iran.
Is Non-proliferation a Lost Cause?
Gilles Andreani
Te non-prolieration regime is a cor-nerstone o international security. It is acomplex regime that includes not only the Nuclear Non-Prolieration reaty (NP), but international instrumentsmeant to guarantee the peaceul use o nuclear material and technologies aswell as high-prole institutions suchas the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It was recently comple-mented by provisions aimed at curbingthe illegal transer o nuclear weapons(or components o such weapons) suchas United Nations Security CouncilResolution (UNSCR) 1540, nuclearthreat reduction, cooperative initiatives,and the Prolieration Security Initiative,which seeks to acilitate the intercept o illegal transers at sea.Nuclear disarmament is also part o thatpicture. On the one hand, an eectiveand worldwide elimination o nuclearweapons would, in theory, bring a nalanswer to the prolieration problem.Short o such an ideal outcome, on theother hand, visible progress in nucleardisarmament could contribute to theeectiveness and legitimacy o the non-prolieration regime more generally.Specic disarmament agreements,however, either those in existence likethe ban on nuclear testing—the Com-prehensive Nuclear est Ban reaty—orthose that are planned—like the FissileMaterial Cut-o reaty—directly servenon-prolieration objectives by com-plicating the development o nuclearweapons by aspirant countries.Besides such universal arms controlagreements, non-prolieration is alsoserved by regional treaties, such as thoseestablishing nuclear weapons ree zones.Five currently exist: the latelolco,Rarotonga, Bangkok, and Semipalatinsk treaties.
From good times to badtimes
Te non-prolieration regime and its various components have experiencedan evolution marked by two deeply contrasting cycles over the last 20 years:a cycle o successes rom the end o theCold War to the indenite extension o the NP in 1995 and a cycle o crisesopened up by the 1998 Indian and Paki-stani nuclear tests. Te crises continueto conront us, with the Iranian stando currently posing the most serious chal-lenge to the non-prolieration regime o our time.Te successes o the 1985-1995 periodare well known: the renunciation by Argentina and Brazil o their nuclear
1 Gilles Andreani is a senior transatlantic ellow o the German Marshall Fund o the United States (GMF).Te views expressed are those o the author and do not necessarily represent the views o GMF.
November 2009
Haliax Intnatinal Scuity Fu
Washington • Berlin • Bratislava • Paris
Brussels • Belgrade • Ankara • Bucharest
Pap Sis
military ambitions; the progress o U.S.-Soviet nucleardisarmament with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces(INF) agreement and the Strategic Arms Reduction reaty (SAR); the consolidation o the nuclear succession o theSoviet Union to the benet o Russia alone; the dismantlingo the South Arican nuclear military program and stock-pile; and the successul completion o the ComprehensiveNuclear est Ban reaty.Prolieration crises such as Iraq and North Korea were over-come: the Iraqi program was eectively dismantled aer the1991 Gul War by IAEA inspectors under UN supervision.Following that, Agency saeguards were strengthened underthe 93+2 program, and additional protocols became thenorm. Te 1994 ramework agreement seemed to solve theNorth Korean case. Tat virtuous decade culminated withthe indenite extension o the NP, a diplomatic miraclethat the nuclear-weapons states had not dared to expect.Ever since, almost everything seems to have gone the wrongway. Te 1998 Indian and Pakistani tests were a direct chal-lenge to the non-prolieration regime. Te established nu-clear powers seemed to go rom one extreme to the other intrying to nd a solution rom condemnation and the threato sanctions under UN Security Council Resolution 1172 inthe rst instance, to the 2006 U.S.-Indian Nuclear Coopera-tion Agreement, which seemed to put India’s nuclear activi-ties under only minimal saeguards.Te deeat o the Comprehensive est Ban reaty raticationbeore the U.S. Senate in 1999 compromised a key element o the disarmament program that had made the 1995 extensiono the NP possible in the rst place.North Korea announced in 2003 its withdrawal rom thenon-prolieration treaty—a move whose validity remainscontested—and went on to test a nuclear weapon in 2006. Inaddition, it has been the main provider o missile technology to aspirant nuclear countries.Starting at the beginning o the 2000s, A.Q. Khan, the Paki-stani scientist, and his network were progressively exposedas having disseminated nuclear equipment and design,including weapons blueprints (and not only the relatively crude ones his country had obtained rom China, but thosemuch more elaborate that it had urther developed on thatbasis) to Libya, North Korea, and Iran.In 2003, Iran was discovered to have been conducting en-richment activities in violation o its saeguards agreementwith the IAEA, and urther disclosures o its activities eversince have le no doubt that the country is embarked on amilitary nuclear program. Its ultimate content and purposeremains unknown, though, and possibly has not yet beenully decided upon by the Iranian regime.Nuclear options, which had by and large retreated into thebackground ollowing the end o the Cold War, have beenmore present in the pronouncements and security doctrineso some countries. An obvious case in point has been Russia,but also India, where the nuclear debate has been animatedby a certain national ever ollowing the 1998 testing, andChina, which is still in the growing phase o its military nuclear capacities. In the United States, the 2002 nuclearposture review has been criticized or outlining new nuclearoptions, while the Bush administration sought to ree itsel rom the arms control legacy o the Cold War, especially the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty, which it decided towithdraw rom in late 2001.In the Middle East, the collapse o the peace process, andspecically the end o the arms control and regional security 
“The non-prolieration regime and its variouscomponents have experienced an evolutionmarked by two deeply contrasting cyclesover the last 20 years: a cycle o successrom the end o the cold war to the indefniteextension o the NPT in 1995; a cycle o crises opened up by the 1998 Indian andPakistani nuclear tests.”
talks, started in 1992 within its ramework and only madethe Israeli nuclear exception politically more salient. Te2003 Iraq War—allegedly started by the United States to putan end to Iraq’s nuclear, biological, and chemical activitiesthat in the end proved non-existent—reinorced the appre-hensions o many in the region who see non-prolieration asa biased instrument that avors Israel and the United Statesrather than a universal rule that must be adhered to by ev-eryone. Such cynicism has played to Iran’s benet.Libya’s agreement to renounce its military nuclear programand Cuba’s adherence to the NP—now the most universally adhered to global treaty apart rom the UN Charter itsel—provided only meager compensation or the negative trendsthat have maniested themselves since the late 1990s.
Non-proliferation: A weakened regime
Altogether, they have signicantly weakened the eective-ness and the legitimacy o the non-prolieration regime.It rested on a number o assumptions: non-possession o nuclear weapons would remain the norm; those who wouldtry to violate it would be deterred rom doing so, or at leastwould not benet rom it; the nuclear-powers’ stockpileswould be subject to arms control and would be reduced;and undeclared nuclear countries would continue to show restraint, and would in any case be subject to external con-straints such as the Comprehensive est Ban reaty and theFissile Material Cut-o reaty.In act, the nuclear blackmail o North Korea seems to havepaid o. India and Pakistan have mostly improved theirinternational stature as a result o the 1998 tests and theirnuclear capabilities remain unchecked; the internationalcommunity has not convincingly curbed Iran’s ambitions;the great power status o Russia remains closely linked toits nuclear military capacities; and the United States seemedmore concerned, until Barack Obama’s presidential inau-guration, with keeping all its military options open in thecontext o the war on terror than with reinorcing the globalconsensus to support non-prolieration.Due to these negative trends, many have come to the conclu-sion that the non-prolieration regime is mired in the kindo systemic crisis that calls or drastic changes. Such changesare all the more necessary, such commentators would argue,given that diversication o energy sources in the context o climate change will orce the world to resort to developingmore nuclear energy acilities. Te risks o the accidentalor deliberate spreading o nuclear materials and technolo-gies or military or terrorist purposes can only increase as aresult.
Three possible routes for non-proliferation
Non-prolieration policy can now go in three directions,which are not necessarily mutually exclusive: one is thestrengthening o controls and international measures againstprolierating activities; another is the internationalizationo the nuclear uel cycle; a third is a proactive disarmamentstrategy with the ultimate aim o eliminating nuclear weap-ons altogether, an option put orward last April by PresidentObama.Te rst option was eectively pursued aer the rst Gul War and the UN Security Council’s recognition o nuclearprolieration as a threat to peace and security in 1992. Tishad some important, positive consequences. States are now bound to make prolierating activities a crime under theirdomestic legal systems. A number o them cooperate underthe Prolieration Security Initiative to intercept illicit trans-ers. Te exercise o the right o withdrawal rom the non-prolieration treaty has been qualied and is likely to elicitSecurity Council sanctions i exercised in the uture.Tese achievements, however, suer rom two limitations.With respect to the prolieration activities made possible by the North Korean and Pakistani networks, they amount toclosing the stable door aer the horse has bolted. Further-more, there is no such thing as automatic sanctions in theinternational sphere; the West was divided during the 1990son the scope o Iraqi activities and on how to answer them.India and Pakistan have been transormed in the eyes o theAmericans. Having once been seen as subversive elements inthe international nuclear order o things, they have becomekey partners in the war on terror. Crucial as it may be todeter uture prolieration; decisions on punitive action arealways subject to prevailing political necessities.

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