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THE IDEA: America’s most acute national security threat is a catastrophic attack with nuclear weapons. Yet the United States has lacked a coherent and vigorous strategy to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons to states and terrorist groups. Unmet priorities include bolstering leadership and funding for threat-reduction programs and negotiating a new bargain to close the loopholes within the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which must be substantially strengthened to meet today’s challenges. To accomplish these goals, the nuclear weapons states must revive the old bargain embodied in the NPT: leveraging deep and verifiable cuts in existing arsenals to achieve more stringent controls on nuclear materials and technologies. THE NUCLEAR BREACH
It is no accident that the administration initially based its case for war against Iraq on Saddam Hussein’s alleged nuclear program and regularly evoked the image of the mushroom cloud,1 or that during a contentious September 2004 presidential debate, the one issue on which the candidates agreed was that nuclear proliferation posed “the single most serious threat to the national security of the United States.”2 The use of a single nuclear weapon on American soil could kill hundreds of thousands of people and would forever change the way we live and the liberties we enjoy. This reality makes nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists or hostile states the single greatest threat to America’s security. Yet when it comes to preventing the spread or use of these weapons, Washington’s engagement has been sporadic. After September 11 the president had an opportunity to galvanize domestic and international support to accelerate threat reduction programs with the former Soviet Union and extend them to other at-risk states. Instead, existing threat reduction programs were permitted to drift forward at the same pace and scope—in five years the administration requested a mere 5 percent increase in the budget it inherited.3 Progress by these programs has been steady, but far too slow, and their total budgets comprise one-quarter of one percent of defense spending.4 In a national security budget of half a trillion dollars it should be a priority to close this critical breach as soon as possible.5 There is substantial public support for making the nuclear threat a top priority. When Americans were asked to prioritize the “most important foreign policy goals” from a list of thirty, the top response was “keeping nuclear weapons away from countries and groups
The Century Foundation conducts public policy research and analyses of economic, social, and foreign policy issues, including inequality, retirement security, election reform, media studies, homeland security, and international affairs. The foundation produces books, reports, and other publications, convenes task forces and working groups, and operates eight informational Web sites. With offices in New York City and Washington, D.C., The Century Foundation is nonprofit and nonpartisan and was founded in 1919 by Edward A. Filene. Headquarters: 41 East 70th Street – New York, NY 10021 – 212.535.4441 – 212.535.7534 (fax) – firstname.lastname@example.org – www.tcf.org DC Office: 1333 H Street, NW – 10th Floor Washington, DC– 202.232.8958 – 202.483.9430 (fax)
that are hostile to the U.S. and our allies.”6 Two other nuclear concerns made the top five, while many goals prioritized by the foreign policy establishment (such as protecting oil supplies, establishing a stable and secure government in Iraq, and spreading democracy) failed to crack the top ten.7 Vigorous action to address these threats would find substantial political support.
THE UNFULFILLED MANDATE
Despite rhetoric about the urgency of controlling nuclear proliferation, the administration’s efforts to prevent a nuclear attack have lacked coherence, leading to delays in securing Russian weapons material and paralysis in addressing nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea. The current national security strategy—which highlights the utility of nuclear arms, advocates developing new weapons systems, and calls for a broad array of missile defenses—has alienated both allies and competitors and has contributed to the erosion of multilateral efforts, including the collapse last year’s non-proliferation review conference. The net result: America is today more vulnerable to a nuclear attack than at any point since the end of the Cold War.8
THE THREAT AND THE CURRENT RESPONSE
The challenge facing America can be boiled down to three distinct, but ultimately inseparable, problems: 1. the vast quantities of nuclear materials, especially in the former Soviet Union, that remain vulnerable to theft and diversion; 2. loopholes in the international non-proliferation regime that, unless mended, could lead to a world awash in nuclear-armed states; and 3. the hard cases, Iran and North Korea, that appear determined to acquire nuclear weapons even in the face of high costs. In response to this multifaceted challenge, the current administration has focused almost exclusively on the last problem, which it has defined as “rogue” regimes defying an international consensus against proliferation. This approach shines the spotlight on the activities of Iran and North Korea, with little attention on the broader problems posed by illicit arsenals in India, Pakistan, or Israel; the tens of thousands of weapons in Russia, the United States, France, Britain, and China; or the potential for dozens of states to go nuclear should the security climate change. The current approach manifests itself in narrow and tactical measures rather than a coherent strategy to repair structural problems within the nonproliferation regime. The Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), for example, usefully facilitates efforts among sixty countries to share intelligence, coordinate export controls, and interdict illegal shipments, but to be sustainable it must be better integrated into international law and
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existing institutions.9 The administration’s nuclear deal with India, which is pending approval in Congress, may provide bilateral strategic benefits—but at the cost of facilitating a larger Indian arsenal and encouraging Russia and China to offer similar packages to other states. Missile defenses might provide a hedge against nuclear attack, but will spur countries to develop countermeasures, either by enhancing or enlarging their arsenals. The invasion of Iraq ensured that Saddam Hussein would not acquire nuclear weapons, but has proved deeply counterproductive and prohibitively expensive. These narrow fixes might work if the nuclear status quo were sustainable. Unfortunately there is not a single nuclear crisis, or even several crises—there is instead a flawed nuclear system that seems ordained to spin off crisis after crisis, indefinitely. Iraq and North Korea are two manifestations of the nuclear problem, but they will not be the last. So too are terrorist networks and criminal syndicates, which have tried with increasing frequency and sophistication to attain nuclear arms. These crises, which involve the world’s most dangerous weapons, demand zero tolerance for error. The notion of a stable status quo is a myth. As the independent Canberra Commission noted in 1995, the situation in which “nuclear weapons are held by a handful of states which insist that these weapons provide unique security benefits, and yet reserve uniquely to themselves the right to own them” is “highly discriminatory and thus unstable; it cannot be sustained.” This vulnerability is accentuated by loopholes in the NPT, which some states interpret as permitting them to come a screwdriver's turn from the bomb. In the past, each state that has acquired nuclear weapons has done so to counter another nuclear power or to gain an elite status symbol, a pattern that leads the Canberra Commission to warn that “the possession of nuclear weapons by any state is a constant stimulus to other states to acquire them.”10 Without a change in the current dynamics, we are headed toward a nuclear attack by terrorists on American soil and toward a world of twenty or thirty nuclear states. These futures may be preventable, but only by decisive action on a new strategy.
A NEW STRATEGY
The United States needs a comprehensive strategy to address the three tiers of threats: a more effective international effort to secure loose nuclear weapons and materials, a new bargain to repair the NPT, and a new willingness to negotiate a comprehensive resolution to crises in North Korea and Iran. Each of these goals requires tough engagement by Washington with both allies and adversaries. This Security and Opportunity Brief outlines each of the threats, and what the United States can do to address them better.
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1. THE THREAT OF LOOSE NUKES
The theft and trafficking of nuclear materials is not a hypothetical threat but a documented reality. In one three-year period, German authorities “reported more than seven hundred cases of attempted nuclear sales, including sixty instances that involved seizure of nuclear materials.”11 The Nuclear Threat Initiative maintains a list of “anecdotes of insecurity” that offer sobering details from dozens of confirmed incidents and hint at the breadth of possible threats.12 Today, fifteen years of cooperative threat reduction programs have reduced but not eliminated the threat from Russia and the former Soviet republics, where tens of thousands of weapons were produced in a vast nuclear infrastructure spanning ten “closed” nuclear cities and at one time employing a million people.13 In securing these risks, a 99 percent success rate could still mean catastrophic failure. With security upgrades on only half of Russia’s nuclear buildings housing weapons-usable nuclear materials, we are nowhere near that level of confidence.14 It would be a mistake, however, to focus entirely on Russia. It has been well documented that Pakistan has engaged in multiple transfers of nuclear technologies and materials, and that its intelligence services have ties to radical jihadists. What is less understood is where Pakistan stores its weapons or fissile materials (which are dispersed to reduce vulnerability to an attack by India) and what levels of security they receive.15 While controls are better in the other nuclear states, “red team” exercises in the United States suggest that no country’s arsenal is completely secure from well-organized terrorists.16 The threat of nuclear diversion is not limited only to states with nuclear weapons, either. Each of the hundred or so research reactors operating with highly enriched uranium, dispersed across forty countries, provides a proliferation threat. In many cases, as former Senator San Nunn has noted, “the raw material of nuclear terrorism” is “secured by nothing more than an underpaid guard sitting inside a chain-link fence.”17
ADDRESSING THE THREAT OF THEFT OR DIVERSION
The most effective way to prevent terrorism with nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons is to secure materials at their source. Once they are in the hands of terrorists, it may well be too late, since interdiction, law enforcement, and deterrence are far from certain tools.18 Russia’s vast arsenals and infrastructure have not disappeared. Despite fifteen years of threat reduction programs, by the end of fiscal year 2005, only “54% of the 230 buildings in the former Soviet Union containing weapons-usable nuclear materials have had comprehensive security upgrades.”19 At today’s rate, the United States may not secure these weapons and materials as late as 2020.20
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Since their inception in 1991, U.S.-Russia bilateral programs, which include the Pentagon “Nunn-Lugar” programs named after their congressional cosponsors as well as programs at the Departments of Energy and State, have dismantled thousands of nuclear warheads and missiles, secured dozens of Russian depots housing dangerous materials, provided work for unemployed weapons scientists, and secured stocks of highly enriched uranium.21 These programs, however, have not always had the full support of either government, and have lurched forward in fits and starts. Impediments have ranged from inadequate funding to poor interagency coordination to issues of liability. None of these challenges is insurmountable, but each will require political will. Experts have argued for several reforms that would accelerate the programs: ! Political leadership. Shortly after September 11, the president declared that America’s greatest threat “lies at the perilous crossroads of radicalism and technology.”22 Yet, as Graham Allison has noted, the administration’s attention focused almost exclusively on one side of the equation—terrorist groups and the states that harbor them—and “missed almost entirely the ‘supply side’ of this challenge: neutralizing the means by which terrorists might mount a nuclear attack”23 Allison conjectures the contrast if the president’s speech to the joint session of Congress on September 20 had included a page on fighting nuclear terrorism and called for a $10 billion crash program to secure the most vulnerable weapons in the Soviet Union in the next one hundred days, appointed a high-level ambassador-at-large to head up the effort, and requested an infusion of threat reduction funds. The president never declared war on nuclear terrorism, and failed to make threat reduction programs an urgent priority in discussions with foreign leaders and members of his administration. Nowhere is this clearer than on the issue of oversight. “Today, if the president asked, at a cabinet meeting, who is responsible for preventing nuclear terrorism, six or eight hands in the room might go up, or none,” Allison observes. This arrangement is unacceptable when the biggest impediments to these programs have been bureaucratic and managerial. The effectiveness of threat reduction programs depend on coordination between the Departments of Defense, Energy, and State, each of which manages overlapping components of the program. These agencies, despite their own politics and priorities, must act in synchronicity: dismantling a nuclear weapons research site does little to increase our security unless jobs can be found for its scientists. Agencies must simultaneously coordinate with Congress, which attaches certification requirements to funding, and with the National Labs and intelligence agencies that offer verification expertise. Most contentiously, they
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must engage in negotiations with their Russian counterparts, some of whom suspect that threat reduction programs are a cover for American espionage. Threat reduction programs have on occasion ground to a halt over these issues. Most recently, liability was the issue: as initially negotiated, the program held Russia liable for any catastrophes that might occur, even if they were caused by American contractors, a provision Russia has sought to terminate. This disagreement was permitted to fester, with the entire framework salvaged only by a last minute compromise in June, 2006. As a first step, the president should appoint a senior coordinator for threat reduction, most likely seated at the National Security Council, who can resolve interagency differences and provide executive attention to the issue when needed.24 This organizational move will not solve the problem, but it is a necessary measure to elevate the threat reduction agenda. ! Transfer funds to threat reduction. The threat reduction budget has only seen modest increases since September 11, and continues to constrain the scope of programs. The administration should request, and Congress should deliver, an infusion of funding for threat reduction. These funds could be made available by a transfer from any number of programs within the half-trillion dollar Pentagon budget (see Box 1 for some context). Box 1. FY 2007 budget request, in billions of dollars: ! ! ! All nuclear threat reduction programs: $1.1i Missile Defense Budget Request for FY 2007: $11.1ii Operating, maintaining and modernizing nuclear bombers, missiles, and submarines: $11iii Department of Energy nuclear weapons activities, including R&D: $6.4iv Military operations in Iraq: $60
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/nuke/RL31957.pdf http://www.cdi.org/friendlyversion/print version.cfm?documentID=3301 http://www.americanprogress.org/atf/cf/ %7BE9245FE4-9A2B-43C7-A5215D6FF2E06E03%7D/KORBREPORT_9-22.PDF http://energy.gov/news/3150.htm
American threat reduction programs with the former Soviet states cost about $1 billion in 2006 and have averaged $600 million per year since 1992.25 Compared to other defense and homeland security spending, this modest expenditure constitutes a bargain—and perhaps the most efficient security investment in the budget. Yet the Bush administration’s support for the program has been inconsistent. The president, in fact, proposed cutting $41 million (9 percent) from the 2001 Pentagon threat reduction budget.26 Today’s modest increases from preSeptember 11 funding—a total of 19 percent over five years—have only occurred because of congressional action (the president requested a 5 percent increase during that period).27
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Security upgrades have been slowed by funding uncertainties. In 2001, a comprehensive bipartisan review of threat reduction programs headed by Howard Baker and Lloyd Cutler emphatically called for a major boost in threat reduction funds, to $30 billion over eight to ten years.28 Last year, an assessment of the Baker-Cutler commission’s goals, found that “the United States has failed to dramatically hasten efforts” as Baker-Cutler had urged, and that at the current rate, the United States may not reach its goal of securing Russia’s weapons and materials until 2020–2030.29 Even if funding were increased from $1.1 billion to $3 billion per year—which is what Baker-Cutler and other assessments say is needed30—the investment would be a bargain compared to our other nuclear-related programs, such as the $17 billion requested this year to maintain America’s oversized nuclear arsenals or the $11.1 billion for ballistic missile defense.31 It would be far less than the $5 billon the United States spends per month in what was billed as a counterproliferation effort, the invasion and occupation of Iraq to ensure it would not have weapons of mass destruction (WMD).32 Why do these programs receive incomplete support at home? There is a deep suspicion among some conservatives that these funds are wasted by corrupt officials or that they permit Russia to free up funds to strengthen its military. Skeptics include Vice President Dick Cheney, who opposed starting the program when he was secretary of defense in 1991. While it is undeniable that Russia has been an imperfect partner in threat reductions, this does not change the fundamental reality: these weapons will not be secured without Moscow’s consent and participation. Congress has a fiduciary responsibility here, but certainty of every dollar spent will be little consolation if a Russian weapon finds its way to an American city. ! Globalize threat reduction: In 2002, the United States and its G8 partners pledged $20 billion over ten years, including $10 billion from the United States, for a new “Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction.” But the initiative, as noted by Harvard’s Securing the Bomb report, “has nothing global about it except its name, and only a dribble of non-U.S. funds in the Global Partnership have so far been focused on improving nuclear security measures.”33 Building a fully multilateral program, following the model of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) or the Nuclear Suppliers Group, has some clear benefits. First, it assuages Russia’s anxiety that the real goal of the program is its disarmament at the hands of its Cold War adversary. In addition, a multilateral model allows the export of threat reduction to other at-risk states. Bunn and Wier note that “Cooperation with states with small nuclear weapons arsenals, such as
Pakistan, India, China, and Israel, is likely to be especially difficult. For all of these states, nuclear activities take place under a blanket of almost total secrecy, and direct access to many nuclear sites by U.S. personnel is likely to be impossible in the near term.”34 A multilateral model would allow each nation to design its own nuclear security system with support—in the form of technical expertise, funding and standards—from an international agency backed by broad international consensus. ! Avoid linkages: Both the administration and Congress must recognize threat reduction as a critical goal in its own right, rather than a means to achieve other ends. In the past, each has sought to use non-proliferation funding to Russia to pry concessions on other goals such as human rights reform. The idea that making this aid conditional could be a sufficient lever to, say, reform human rights in Russia is fanciful. In fact, Russian leaders tend to care far less about these programs than do their American counterparts, especially since many believe that the true aim of the program is to gather intelligence on Russia’s arsenal. Placing conditionality on funding is deeply counterproductive—and hardly the way to address the most fundamental threat to America’s security. None of these reforms alone—from internationalization to increased funding to enhanced presidential attention—is sufficient to deal with the scope of these problems, but each is necessary if we are to hasten progress.
2. THE FRAGILE REGIME
Iran and North Korea, India and Pakistan, Israel and Libya: these exceptions are not unanticipated anomalies. Each tear in the fabric of the non-proliferation regime reveals the tensions under which the system strains. Box 2. Article VI of the NPT Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.
About forty states possess the dual-use materials and technologies necessary to build nuclear weapons should they decide to do so.35 Moreover, the proliferation of international networks that trade in illicit goods, of which the A. Q. Khan network is only the most notorious, make it increasingly possible for states or groups without advanced nuclear programs to procure weapons technology. Far more stringent nuclear controls are needed, but they will not be achieved in the current climate of rancor and distrust. As was starkly demonstrated at the 2005 NPT
Review Conference, asking for concessions from non-nuclear weapon states will require a show of good faith by nuclear weapon states on their commitments to the NPT. The NPT was negotiated in 1968 as a bargain between nuclear and non-nuclear states. Non-nuclear states agreed to forgo nuclear weapons in return for access to peaceful nuclear technologies and a promise that nuclear weapons states would “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament.”36 In subsequent years, nuclear-weapon states have focused on the articles of the treaty that prevent further proliferation, while non-nuclear weapon states have focused on the disarmament clause. Because the treaty contains specific measures to prevent new states from acquiring nuclear weapons but contains no enforcement mechanism or timeline by which nuclear states must give up their weapons, it is widely seen as enshrining a system of “nuclear apartheid.” A more sustainable nuclear regime cannot be achieved without the United States leading the way. Yet Washington’s actions over the past decade have deeply undermined its credibility. The Bush administration’s December 2001 Nuclear Posture Review called for a “a range of options” not merely to deter but “to defeat any aggressor” using nuclear weapons, while the National Nuclear Security Administration (the Energy Department agency in charge of stockpile stewardship) launched a Readiness Campaign “to revitalize the nuclear weapons manufacturing infrastructure.”37 Meanwhile, the Washington repudiated the thirteen-step roadmap for implementing Article VI that had been unanimously endorsed the 2000 NPT Review Conference.38 These policies suggested to other states that the United States had no intention of ever eliminating its weapons, that it sees nuclear weapons as legitimate to use in conflicts (unlike chemical and biological weapons), and that it in fact intends to strengthen and expand its nuclear capabilities. The Bush administration asserts that it has made deep cuts in the U.S. arsenal, citing its 2002 agreement with Moscow to reduce its nuclear arsenal by 2012.39 However, the Washington-Moscow pact is a sharp departure from the START treaties that it replaces. It contains none of the verification measures that are the backbone of arms-control treaties, excludes tactical nuclear weapons, and requires no destruction of warheads, only their removal from delivery systems. Moreover, it expires the day it comes into effect, legally permitting each nation to immediately redeploy its stockpile. In short, the pact shifts the bilateral nuclear framework onto new track where verification does not exist and the destruction of warheads is optional—a track to nowhere. The current administration has increased America’s reliance upon nuclear arms to achieve political and security objectives. The usual rationale for retaining nuclear weapons is not that they can be used effectively, but that they provide can provide a “strategic ambiguity.” By refusing to rule out the use of nuclear weapons (for example, in response to attacks involving biological or chemical weapons), nuclear weapons
presumably serve as a deterrent against non-nuclear aggression. In reality, however, it strains the imagination to conjure up a scenario where American interests would be served by the use of a nuclear weapon. The Kosovo and Iraq air wars demonstrated that America’s conventional airpower is sufficient to achieve every deterrent aim for which a nuclear weapon would be considered. The remaining role ascribed to nuclear weapons is their utility in destroying deeply fortified underground bunkers. Yet the notion that a nuclear “bunker buster” could be used surgically is a myth. “Current experience and empirical predictions indicate that earth-penetrator weapons cannot penetrate to depths required for total containment of the effects of a nuclear explosion,” a National Academy of Sciences study noted, calculating that civilian casualties from an attack in or near urban areas “can range from thousands to more than a million.”40 Other critics note that a bunker buster would still require high, and possibly unrealistic, precision in target selection, have a low likelihood of success, and result in devastating fallout.41 Any use of nuclear weapons would shatter the sixty-year nuclear taboo, blackening America’s image in the world and inviting future asymmetrical retaliation. Nuclear weapons have no utility in today’s world other than the deterrence of other nuclear arms. A nuclear-weapon-free world would benefit all nations, but especially the United States. The United States is among the most likely targets for nuclear terrorists. Moreover, nuclear weapons may not have military utility for America, but they certainly do for its adversaries. They can raise the risks of intervention, allowing a dictator such as Kim Jong Il with a handful of weapons to hold in check all of America’s might. Washington should reverse its march toward a more aggressive nuclear posture and usher in a nuclear stance in line with its international obligations, its non-proliferation objectives, and common sense. This decision is central to America’s national interest: the non-proliferation regime cannot be saved without bold and decisive action. The United States should take the following steps: ! Declare that nuclear weapons are no longer central to U.S. security: Starting with a bottom-up Nuclear Posture Review, the next administration should declare that it no longer holds nuclear weapons as central to its security strategy, and that their only legitimate purpose is to deter other nuclear weapons. Washington should take several long-overdue steps to convince others that it is serious: affirming that it will never use nuclear weapons first, or use them against non-nuclear states; endorsing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) for ratification; prohibiting the development of new nuclear weapons; and reducing the alert status of its arsenals.42 The United States should also engage in negotiations for a new nuclear weapons treaty to succeed the Moscow pact—negotiations that would culminate in a treaty to control tactical nuclear weapons and verifiably reduce both countries’ strategic
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arsenals to around 500 deployed warheads. Defense analyst Larry Korb calculates that “shifting to a deployed arsenal of 600 warheads with another 400 in reserve—an arsenal fully capable of deterring known threats and hedging against unforeseen contingencies—would generate $13 billion in savings” per year.43 ! Reaffirm America’s commitment to Article VI: The United States has backed away from its commitment to nuclear disarmament, arguing that because the clause places nuclear disarmament in the context of general disarmament that nuclear weapon states are under no legal obligation to reduce their arsenals (though it argues that its recent reductions are nevertheless consistent with the spirit of Article VI.)44 This position is deeply divisive and counterproductive. The president should reaffirm that America, like all states parties to the NPT, is legally bound by each of its Articles and remains committed to entering into good faith negotiations toward complete, verifiable, and irreversible disarmament. Box 3. From the IPSOS-Public Affairs Poll, March 21–23, 2005 “Which statement comes closest to your view? . . .” % “No countries should be allowed to have nuclear weapons.” 66 “Only the United States and its allies should be allowed to have nuclear weapons.” 13 “Only countries that already have nuclear weapons should be allowed to have them.” 11 “Any country that is able to develop nuclear weapons should be allowed to have them.” 5 “Only the U.S. should be allowed to have nuclear weapons (vol.)” 1
Unsure: 4 A statement affirming the goal of disarmament would take international pressure off America and put the spotlight on the other nuclear weapons states, which have generally stood back and allowed America to bear the heat. This position is consistent that of the American public, which overwhelmingly supports the principle that no state should have nuclear arms (see Box 3).45 Nuclear arms can never be “uninvented,” but there are many sound proposals on how to verifiably place the world’s arsenals into a state of latency. To show that it is serious about this initiative, the United States should propose and fund a highlevel “track-two” disarmament panel to examine the potential paths to disarmament.
Tighten nuclear controls: The U.S. negotiating team arrived at the 2005 NPT Review conference with a plan for tightening nuclear controls, including universalizing adherence to the Additional Protocol and making it a condition of nuclear supply, closing an NPT loophole by restricting enrichment and processing technology, and creating a safeguards committee on the IAEA Board of Governors.46 These plans were dead before they were announced, however, because of the rift between nuclear and non-nuclear weapons states over their respective NPT commitments. A recommitment by the United States to its Article VI obligations could create new opportunities for stringent measures against proliferation. Support the IAEA’s effort to prohibit use of Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) in civilian reactors: The NPT permits all states access to peaceful nuclear technology, a right which many states claim extends to all aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle, including uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing. But the right to uranium enrichment is not self-evident within the Treaty. The NPT should be supplemented with a protocol to spell out that no state has an inherent right to uranium enrichment. A new multilateral regime must be established to ensure the secure provision and removal of nuclear fuel, at below the national cost of production, to each state that forswears enrichment and reprocessing and submits to stringent safeguards.47 To address verification concerns, the U.S. must support stronger inspection mechanisms and the establishment of an internationally monitored fuel bank under the IAEA. This measure will require a concerted diplomatic push, which the United States could only credibly conduct with its house in order. The benefits would be immense: it would close the loophole that Iran and others have sought to exploit and would, according to Mohammad El Baradei, Nobel laureate and head of the IAEA, solve “at least 80 percent of the problem.”48
Bolster funding for the IAEA: The IAEA is our first line of defense against proliferation, and U.S. funding for the agency, leveraged by others, is one of America’s best investments. In recent years, the agency’s responsibilities have expanded dramatically (especially with the Additional Protocol, which permits rapid inspections) while its base of resources ($273 million for all its activities in 2006) has increased too modestly.49 Jon Wolfsthal of the Carnegie Endowment has argued that the agency’s safeguards budget requires an increase of $50 million per year over the next three years, and that an “investment endowment” is needed to permit longer horizon projects “to improve efficiency and make better use of new technology.”50 Skeptics of the nuclear control regime often dismiss it as unverifiable. This is largely inaccurate: IAEA monitors have been quite effective at detecting and deterring illicit programs, as Iraq’s inability to gain WMD has demonstrated.
Nevertheless, technical gaps remain. The United States should work with its allies to bolster non-proliferation research, both at its domestic weapons labs and through the IAEA, focused on technical innovations in monitoring nuclear programs. Today the national labs at Los Alamos and Livermore perform some non-proliferation research, but their mission should be further transformed to focus on America’s top nuclear concerns: the prevention of nuclear terrorism and the verification of arms-control measures. Bold steps are needed to adapt the NPT to today’s challenges. The 2005 NPT Review Conference demonstrated that non-nuclear states will be reluctant to accept additional restraints without assurances that the nuclear states are acting in good faith on their disarmament commitments. Since it is today the United States that has most provocatively disavowed those commitments, only a bold recommitment by the U.S. can resolve this impasse.
3. THE TOUGH CASES: NORTH KOREA AND IRAN
Iran and North Korea pose two imminent threats to the non-proliferation regime. If Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons, it would discredit the non-proliferation regime and create incentives for Saudi Arabia and Egypt to advance programs of their own. The international community has missed its opportunity to prevent North Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons, but its challenge today is equally critical: preventing Pyongyang from producing more weapons and dissuading it from exporting them. A full analysis of the challenges posed by these two states is beyond the scope of this brief, but they merit passing mention. ! Containing North Korea: For six years the Bush administration has been paralyzed and internally divided on how to address North Korea. The current plan has crystallized around the idea of using pressure from North Korea’s five neighbors to force the regime to abandon its weapon program or collapse. China is the lynchpin to this a strategy, and its $2 billion of annual trade and investment in North Korea give it significant leverage. Yet to imagine that Beijing will coerce Pyongyang is unrealistic. China opposes sanctions, claiming they will cause instability and undermine Korea’s market reforms, and sees North Korea as a useful wedge against U.S. hegemony in the region. Moreover, Beijing-Pyongyang relations are marked by acute mistrust and ideological differences, leading the Crisis Group to recently conclude that “expecting China to compel North Korean compliance will only waste more time and give Pyongyang longer to develop its nuclear stockpile.”51
The fundamental problem is that nothing Washington is willing to offer is sufficient, while none of its threats are credible. Even hawks have quietly taken the military option off the table, and sanctions are meaningless without China’s participation. As for regime change, none of the likely outcomes are desirable. Those who have called for the collapse of Kim Jong Il’s regime should be careful what they wish for: repugnant as the current government may be, the likely alternative is chaos, a failed state awash in arms both nuclear and conventional. Taken in isolation, the nuclear issue is beyond resolution. The solution is a comprehensive package that goes beyond quid pro quo on nuclear issues and offers Pyongyang genuine incentives for genuine change. Michael O’Hanlon and Mike M. Mochizuki have argued that an oversized military and a moribund economy is a major factor in Pyongyang’s behavior, and that a comprehensive package of deep conventional arms cuts on the peninsula and economic assistance for the North could transform the dynamics of the U.S.North Korean relationship.52 A deal that verifiably disarms North Korean and integrates it into the region could hardly be termed appeasement. Libya’s decision to abandon its weapons programs demonstrates that serious negotiations, backed by the appropriate carrots and sticks, can yield results even with unsavory regimes.
Box 4. Recommendations: Reducing the threat of loose nuclear and biological weapons ! ! ! Appoint a high-level coordinator Double threat reduction funding Internationalize threat reduction programs and expand them to new countries
Reduce America’s reliance on nuclear arms ! ! ! Conduct a bottom-up review of the role of nuclear weapons in America’s security Reaffirm America’s commitment to Article VI Announce bilateral efforts with Moscow to verifiably reduce arsenals below SORT levels
Strengthen the NPT ! ! ! ! ! Prioritize measures to close the fuel-cycle loophole Press for U.N. action to prohibit HEU in civilian reactors Bolster the IAEA safeguard’s budget Tighten multilateral export controls Initiate and fund international non-proliferation research centers
Iran and North Korea ! Cease trying to address the nuclear issue in isolation
Preventing Iran: Iran has violated its IAEA safeguards agreement by engaging in a clandestine pilot program to enrich uranium and has developed, through legal and illicit activities, capacities that could lead to nuclear-weapons. Its apparent readiness to move to weaponization is a major challenge to the non-proliferation regime. Tehran is at least four years from acquiring a nuclear weapon, offering a window for diplomacy.53 Until very recently, however, the administration has seemed implacably set against negotiation. In the past four years, Iran has sent no fewer than three separate invitations to open back-channel talks, and was each time rebuffed.54 As in the case of North Korea, it is hard to imagine a solution emerging from a narrow focus on the nuclear question, the tack that recent negotiations have tried to take. Instead, the United States should enter into multilateral but direct talks aimed at a comprehensive resolution that addresses a fuel-cycle agreement, economic and political relations, unfreezing of Iranian assets, security assurances, and ending Iran’s support for terrorism.
The administration’s approach of half-steps and tactical adjustments has not reduced the nuclear danger. Neither have costly investments in missile defenses, which provide an uncertain answer to missiles from rogue states and no answer whatsoever to nuclear terrorism. Unless the United States makes profound changes in its non-proliferation strategy it could soon face a terrorist group with nuclear arms or a world of a dozen or more nuclear states. Bold diplomacy is needed to revive the bargain embodied in the NPT, trading deep and verifiable cuts in existing arsenals for more stringent controls on nuclear materials and technologies. Bold negotiation is needed to accelerate and globalize the threat reduction programs that serve as our only reliable line of defense against nuclear terrorism. The change begins with the recognition that loose nuclear materials, in the words of the Baker-Cutler report five years ago, still pose “the most urgent unmet national security threat to the United States.”55 It also requires recognizing that nuclear weapons have no role in today’s world, except perhaps to deter other nuclear weapons. This reality is understood by the dozens of generals, admirals, and political leaders who have recognized that nuclear weapons are morally abhorrent and politically useless.56 They are gripped as a hedge against some unspecified threat, but their existence perpetuates the risks they are purported to counter. The only long-term solution to the nuclear dilemma is the elimination of all nuclear weapons, a position that resounds with two-thirds of the public and could anchor a progressive foreign policy vision.
See, for example, Secretary Condoleezza Rice’s statements on September 7, 2003. “CNN Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer,” Aired September 7, 2003, available online at http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0309/07/le.00.html. Transcript, The First Bush-Kerry Presidential Debate, September 30, 2004, available online at http://www.debates.org/pages/trans2004a.html. From FY2001 to FY2005, appropriations increased by 19 percent, but “most of the increases in U.S. nonproliferation funding came at the initiative of Congress, not the administration. If Congress had simply approved President Bush’s requests without change for FY 2002–2005, total threat reduction funding during the period would have been only 5% higher.” Anthony Wier, William Hoehn, and Matthew Bunn, “Threat Reduction Funding in the Bush Administration: Claims and Counterclaims in the First Presidential Debate,” Managing the Atom Project and RANSAC, October 6, 2004, available online at http://bcsia.ksg.harvard.edu/BCSIA_content/documents/funding_debate_100604.pdf. The Bush administration has requested $1.077 billion in fiscal year 2007 for programs to control nuclear weapons, materials, and expertise around the world, or approximately one quarter of one percent of defense spending. Matthew Bunn and Anthony Wier, Securing the Bomb 2006, Nuclear Threat Initiative, July 2006, available online at http://www.nti.org/e_research/stb06webfull.pdf. This year America will spend over half a trillion dollars on defense, significantly more in real dollars than it spent in any year over the 1980s, when it was engaged in the Cold War. See “The Long-Term Implications of Current Defense Plans and Alternatives: Detailed Update for Fiscal Year 2006,” Congressional Budget Office, Congress of the United States. Available online at http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/70xx/doc7004/01-06-DPRDetailedUpdate.pdf. The United States will spend more than the three times the combined military spending of China, Russia, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, Cuba, and Syria. See “U.S. Military Spending vs. the World,” Center for Arms Control and NonProliferation, February 6, 2006, available online at http://www.armscontrolcenter.org/archives/002244.php.
6 5 4 3 2
“American Attitudes toward National Security, Foreign Policy and the War on Terror,” Security and Peace Institute, April 13, 2005, available online at http://www.tcf.org/Publications/InternationalAffairs/americanattitudes.pdf
In addition, a 2003 poll found that 40 percent of Americans “often worry about the chances of a nuclear attack by terrorists” while an even greater number, 53 percent, “often worry about the chances of nuclear war.” “Two Years Later, the Fear Lingers,” Pew Research Center, September 4, 2003, available online at http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?ReportID=192. Nuclear, biological, chemical, and radiological weapons are often grouped together as Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). This terminology masks the orders of magnitude that separate nuclear and certain biological weapons from their less potent counterparts. This paper will focus primarily on the threat posed by nuclear weapons, though a case could be made that certain biological weapons can pose just as catastrophic a risk.
Joseph Cirincione, “A New, Effective Non-Proliferation Strategy for the United States,” Testimony before U.S. House of Representatives Committee on International Relations, March 30, 2004.
“Report of the Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons,” January 30, 1997, available online at http://www.dfat.gov.au/cc/cchome.html. Graham Allison, Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe (New York: Times Books, 2004), p. 71.
Matthew Bunn, “Anecdotes of Insecurity,” Nuclear Threat Initiative, last updated on January 16, 2004. available online at http://www.nti.org/e_research/cnwm/threat/anecdote.asp. The Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute for International Studies maintains a more
comprehensive public database: “NIS Nuclear Trafficking Database,” Center for Nonproliferation Studies, last updated June 30, 2006, available online at http://www.nti.org/db/nistraff/index.html.
Allison, Nuclear Terrorism, p. 73.
Bunn and Wier, Securing the Bomb, 2006. Figures are from unpublished data provided by Department of Energy, May 2006.
15 16 17
Allison, Nuclear Terrorism, p.78. Allison, Nuclear Terrorism, p. 83–86.
Remarks of Former Senator Sam Nunn in London, January 20, 2003, “Preventing Catastrophic Terrorism,” January 2003, available online at http://www.sgpproject.org/events/sam_nunn_remarks.html. For example, only five percent of the millions of shipping containers entering the United States each day are scanned. See Susan E. Martonosi, David S. Ortiz, and Henry H. Willis, “Evaluating the Viability of 100 Per Cent Container Inspection at America’s Ports,” in The Economic Impacts of Terrorist Attacks (Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND, 2006), available online at http://www.rand.org/ise/container_inspection.html.
Bunn and Wier, Securing the Bomb, 2006. Figures are from unpublished data provided by Department of Energy, May 2006.
Brian D. Finlay and Andrew J. Grotto, “The Race to Secure Russia’s Loose Nukes,” Center for American Progress, September 13, 2005, available online at http://www.americanprogress.org/atf/cf/%7BE9245FE49A2B-43C7-A521-5D6FF2E06E03%7D/NUKES.PDF.
“Nunn-Lugar Report, 2005,” August 2005, available online at http://lugar.senate.gov/reports/NunnLugar_Report_2005.pdf.
“President Bush Delivers Graduation Speech at West Point,” White House news release, June 1, 2002, available online at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/06/20020601-3.html. Allison, Nuclear Terrorism, p. 132.
See recommendations from: John P. Holdren, “The Threat from Surplus Nuclear-Bomb Materials,” testimony to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Subcommittee on Europe, 104th Congress, 1st Session, August 23, 1995; John Deutch, chair, Combating Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction: Report from the Commission to Assess the Organization of the Federal Government to Combat the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (Washington, D.C.: Deutch Commission, July 1999), available online at http://www.fas.org/spp/starwars/program/deutch/11910book.pdf); and Howard Baker and Lloyd Cutler, co-chairs, A Report Card on the Department of Energy’s Nonproliferation Programs with Russia (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Energy, Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, January 10, 2001), available online at http://www.hr.doe.gov/seab/rusrpt.pdf. Amy F. Woolf, “Nonproliferation and Threat Reduction Assistance: U.S. Programs in the Former Soviet Union,” CRS Report for Congress, updated June 26, 2006, available online at http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/nuke/RL31957.pdf. The total includes $415.5 million for the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program at the Department of Defense, $530 million for nonproliferation programs at the Department of Energy, and $71 million for programs at the State Department.
Philipp C. Bleek, “Bush Seeks Cuts in Pentagon Threat Reduction Programs,” Arms Control Association, September 2001, available online at http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2001_09/ctrsept01.asp. Anthony Wier, William Hoehn, and Matthew Bunn, “Threat Reduction Funding in the Bush Administration.”
United States Department of Energy, “A Report Card on the Department of Energy’s Nonproliferation Programs with Russia,” January 10, 2001, available online at http://www.ceip.org/files/projects/npp/pdf/DOERussiaTaskForceReport011001.pdf. Finlay and Grotto, “The Race to Secure Russia’s Loose Nukes.”
See also Lawrence J. Korb and Robert O. Boorstin, “Integrated Power: A National Security Strategy for the 21st Century,” The Center for American Progress, June 7, 2005, p. 33, available online at http://www.americanprogress.org/site/pp.asp?c=biJRJ8OVF&b=742277. Also Vladimir Orlov, “Cooperative Threat Reduction: A New Paradigm for Disarmament?” Strengthening the Global Partnership, November 18, 2003, available online at http://www.sgpproject.org/events/2003_nov18_geneva.html. Total threat-reduction spending: Woolf, “Nonproliferation and Threat Reduction Assistance.” Missile defense request: “Missile Defense Budget Request for FY 2007,” Center for Defense Information, February 8, 2006, available online at http://www.cdi.org/friendlyversion/printversion.cfm?documentID=3301. Total nuclear spending: “about $11 billion a year will go to operating, maintaining and modernizing the bombers, submarines, and missiles that carry the 6,000 operational nuclear weapons in the American arsenal, with the remaining $6 billion going towards maintaining the warheads. During the Cold War, the United States spent less than $4 billion a year on average on these nuclear weapons activities.” Miriam Pemberton and Lawrence Korb, “Report of the Task Force on a Unified Security Budget for the United States, 2007,” International Relations Center, May 3, 2006, available online at http://www.fpif.org/fpiftxt/3253. Of the administration’s $72.4 billion supplemental, submitted in February 2006, approximately $60.8 billion is for the Iraq War (this includes military and nonmilitary spending). See “Iraq Cost of War Counter”, National Priorities Project, available online at http://nationalpriorities.org/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=182.
33 34 35 32 31
Bunn and Weir, Securing the Bomb 2006, p.23. Ibid.
The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty lists forty-four nuclear-capable states in its Annex II. The United Nations General Assembly, Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), adopted September 1996, available online at http://www.ctbto.org/treaty/treaty_text.pdf. U.S. Department of State, Statement by Stephen G. Rademaker, “U.S. Compliance with Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT),” February 3, 2005, available online at http://www.state.gov/t/ac/rls/rm/41786.htm.
U.S. Department of Defense, Nuclear Posture Review Report, January 8, 2002. Available online at GlobalSecurity.org: http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/policy/dod/npr.htm. Christopher Paine, “Weaponeers of Waste,” Natural Resources Defense Council, April 2004, available online at http://www.nrdc.org/nuclear/weaponeers/weaponeers.pdf. “Our Hidden WMD Program: Why Bush Is Spending So Much on Nuclear Weapons,” Slate, April 23, 2004, available online at http://www.slate.com/id/2099425/. The 2000 Review Conference Final Document included thirteen practical steps for systematic implementation of Article VI of the NPT, and of Paragraphs 3 and 4(c) of the 1995 Decision on “Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament.” See The United Nations, “Final Document 2000 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons,” May 2000, available online at http://disarmament.un.org/wmd/npt/finaldoc.html. Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control Stephen Rademaker argues this point in his statement at the 2005 NPT Review Conference, UN General Assembly, May 2, 2005: “The United States remains fully committed to fulfilling our obligations under Article VI. Since the last review conference the United States
and the Russian Federation concluded our implementation of START I reductions, and signed and brought into force the Moscow Treaty of 2002.” Available online at http://www.un.int/usa/05_089.htm.
National Research Council of the National Academies, Effects of Nuclear Earth-Penetrator and Other Weapons (Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, 2005), available online at http://newton.nap.edu/execsumm_pdf/11282. Robert W. Nelson, for example, makes some of these points in “Nuclear Bunker Busters, Mininukes, and the U.S. Nuclear Stockpile,” Physics Today 56, no. 11 (2003): pp. 32–37. Reducing alert status would have the additional salutary effect of making accidental nuclear war less likely. See Bruce G. Blair, The Logic of Accidental Nuclear War (Washington: Brookings Institution Press, 1993). Pemberton and Korb, “Report of the Task Force on a Unified Security Budget.” Rademaker statement, 2005 NPT Review Conference.
Associated Press/Ipsos Poll, conducted by Ipsos-Public Affairs, March 21-23, 2005, available online at http://www.pollingreport.com/defense.htm. Rademacher statement at the 2005 NPT Review Conference.
Ashton B. Carter and Stephen A. LaMontagne. “A Fuel-Cycle Fix,” The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (January/February 2006): 24–25, available online at http://bcsia.ksg.harvard.edu/publication.cfm?program=CORE&ctype=article&item_id=1345. “IAEA Chief Promotes Nuclear Fuel Plan,” Nuclear Threat Initiative, October 6, 2005, available online at http://www.nti.org/d_newswire/issues/2005/10/6/6C312C3F-16BC-4720-9AD8-74016A16AE1D.html. International Atomic Energy Agency, “The Agencies Programme and Budget, 2006–2007,” July 2005, available online at http://www.iaea.org/About/Policy/GC/GC49/Documents/gc49-2.pdf. Jon Wolfsthal, “Promote Multilateral Nuclear Nonproliferation Efforts” in Restoring American Leadership (Security and Peace Initiative, 2005), available online at http://www.securitypeace.org/pdf/chapter2.RAL.Nuclearnonprolif.pdf. “China and North Korea: Comrades Forever?” International Crisis Group, February 1, 2006, available online at http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=3920. Michael O’Hanlon and Mike M. Mochizuki, Crisis on the Korean Peninsula: How to Deal With a Nuclear North Korea (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003), pp. 16–21. In August 2006, reporter Steve Coll writes “I gather that in private briefings the Bush Administration’s intelligence analysts focus on a five-to-seven-year window.” Steve Coll, “Blueprints for Disaster,” New Yorker, August 2006, available online at http://www.newyorker.com/online/content/articles/060807on_onlineonly. Korb and Boorstin, “Integrated Power.”
Howard Baker and Lloyd Cutler, “A Report Card on the Department of Energy’s Nonproliferation Programs with Russia.” For one example see “Statement on Nuclear Weapons by International Generals and Admirals,” December 5, 1996, available online at http://prop1.org/2000/genint.htm.
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