Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The very predictable slippery slope of the US-India deal

Reports that Pakistan and China are discussing the prospects for a nuclear deal similar to the one that the Bush administration has negotiated with India comes as no surprise to those familiar with how the global non-proliferation regime works. It further highlights how harmful the US-India nuclear initiative is for nuclear non-proliferation efforts.

Already last fall, only days after the Senate approved changes to U.S. law to allow an exception for India, China expressed its intention to follow suit.

The United States seems to have opened the floodgates with this deal as France, Australia, and now Japan, are also leaping at the opportunity to sell their nuclear goods to India as the United States is pushing for an exception for India in international guidelines.

France signed an agreement with India in February 2006, and Australia recently announced its intent to sell uranium to India, reversing its long-standing policy not to sell uranium to non-NPT countries. Japan is also jumping into the fray as the heads of Japanese nuclear companies Toshiba, Hitachi and Mitsubishi are traveling to India this week with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to seek nuclear business opportunities. A senior Japanese official prefaced the trip with the comment, “The US has lost the technological edge for nuclear power plants. The world leaders in this technology now are Japan and France."

With international competition lining up to take advantage of the new rules, it remains uncertain whether U.S. businesses will benefit from this deal either in the nuclear arena or non-nuclear defense technologies.

This agreement is a bad deal for the United States on all fronts, and dangerously undermines international security by jeopardizing non-proliferation rules thirty years in the making.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Obama, Hagel introduce non-proliferation bill

Before leaving town for the Congressional August recess, Senators Barack Obama (D-IL) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE) introduced S.1977, a bill

“to provide for sustained United States leadership in a cooperative global effort to prevent nuclear terrorism, reduce global nuclear arsenals, stop the spread of nuclear weapons and related material and technology, and support the responsible and peaceful use of nuclear technology.”
The bill builds on the recommendations outlined in the January 4, 2007 Wall Street Journal op-ed, A World Free of Nuclear Weapons, by George Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn.

It emphasizes that

"securing nuclear weapons and weapons-usable material at their source is the most direct a reliable way to disrupt efforts by terrorist organizations to acquire such material.”
and urges that

“nuclear weapon states should reaffirm their commitment to Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty”
The bill authorizes:
-$50 million for an international nuclear fuel bank (same funding level as proposed in the Senate energy & Water Appropriations bill)
-$15 million annually until 2012 for strengthening the inspection capabilities of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as recommended by Matthew Bunn and Anthony Wier in Securing the Bomb 2006
-an additional $20 million for the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) for FY2008-FY2010
-$15 million for FY 2008 and $10 million for FY 2009 for a nuclear forensics program

It also fulfills an important oversight role by mandating:
-a plan for ensuring that all nuclear weapons and weapons
-usable material at vulnerable sites worldwide are secure by 2012, and annual progress reports
-a report by the National Academy of Sciences on a verification regime for an effective Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty
-two reports on the 2010 NPT Review Conference: one in 2009 detailing objectives, strategy and policies for the Conference and one detailing its outcomes

Lastly, it creates a Commission of 15 Members:
-to provide recommendations on the threat of the spread of nuclear weapons, nuclear weapons technology and nuclear terrorism
-to report on efforts to reduce global nuclear arsenals, the development of new nuclear weapons, the need for nuclear energy, and the contribution of existing multilateral entities

At a time when the United States has walked back from many of its commitments under the NPT, this kind of legislation serves as an important reminder and re-affirmation that successful US leadership and long-term US security depend on maintaining a viable and credible non-proliferation and arms control regime in place, which over time will require substantial, prudent and verifiable progress toward the ultimate objective of a world free of nuclear weapons.

As Congress prepares to finalize the funding levels for non-proliferation and arms control issues (in the Defense Authorization bills and the Energy & Water Appropriations bills), several other important and useful bills have been introduced in the Senate recently.

Among them is S.1914, a bill introduced by Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) with Sens. Collins (R-ME), Durbin (D-IL), Kennedy (D-MA), Feingold (D-WI), Casey (D-PA), that would prevent funding for the design and development of a new generation of nuclear weapons, the so-called Reliable Replacement Warhead, until the new Presidential administration completes a nuclear posture and policy review.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Palau Steps Up for Disarmament

Palau is asserting its sovereignty in new ways (perhaps as confidence wanes in the value of their 2003 inclusion in the Bush Administration’s “Coalition of the Willing”).

The Associated Press reports that Palau has ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), bringing the number of states who have ratified the Treaty to 139.

Also of note, Radio New Zealand International reported on August 1, 2007 that Palau was elected as one of 21 Vice-Presidents of the United Nations General Assembly, the smallest country every to hold that post, according to Marianas Variety. Let’s hope that Palau uses this important moment for small state diplomacy to advance the universality of the CTBT.

If Palau campaigns to bring small states into the CTBT at the General Assembly, they will be successful. More small states ratifying the Treaty would mean less political cover for those that remain outside, advancing the cause of early entry-into-force. In this way, Palau could make a historically disproportionate contribution to international security.

Is Disarmament Still "On the Level" at the UN?

In a statement delivered in Hiroshima yesterday on the occasion of the 62nd anniversary of atomic bombing of that city, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon declared:

“Nuclear proliferation is one of the most pressing problems confronting our world. Tens of thousands of nuclear weapons remain, many of them on “hair-trigger” alert. The emergence of a nuclear black market and attempts by terrorists to acquire nuclear weapons and materials have compounded the nuclear threat. Today, our challenge -- as it was for the founders of the United Nations -- is to make the world safer for succeeding generations. This requires us to continue to work towards a world free of nuclear dangers and, ultimately, of nuclear weapons.”
The Secretary General’s words are laudable, but there is reason to believe the UN’s institutional commitment to disarmament could use added support.

The statement was delivered by Sergio de Queiroz Duarte of Brazil who was appointed last month as the United Nations High Representative for Disarmament “at the Under-Secretary-General level.” The footnote added to Mr. Duarte’s title underlines what it is meant to obscure: that the role of disarmament leadership has apparently been downgraded at the United Nations.
The new situation may still be sinking in at the UN. For example, the webpage of the new Office for Disarmament Affairs bears its new name here and its former, more prominent name of Department for Disarmament Affairs, here. For those of us who recall the integration of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency into the Department of State, the implications are disheartening.

The first Under-Secretary General for Disarmament Affairs, Sri Lankan Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala, was appointed in January 1998, riding high from his leadership of the achievement of the indefinite extension of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Of course, that was before:
  • the South Asian tests of May 1998,
  • the defeat of the CTBT in the U.S. Senate,
  • the dissolution of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency,
  • U.S. abrogation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty,
  • the Russian Duma’s rejection of START II,
  • the termination of the 1994 Agreed Framework,
  • North Korea’s exit from the NPT,
  • the invasion of Iraq, and so on.

The change was announced on February 5 of this year, barely a month after Secretary General Ban took office. Noel Stott of the Arms Management Programme at ISS Tshwane in Pretoria observes that the announcement of the change drew:

“opposition from civil society, the Non-aligned Movement (NAM) and countries such as Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Austria and New Zealand.”

Stott concludes that:

“Whether the new office and a High Representative for Disarmament Affairs at the Under-Secretary-General level will have a stronger impact in support of Member States' efforts to address the threats and security challenges confronting the international community will form a core aspect of any future assessment of Ban Ki-moon’s tenure as Secretary-General.”

We agree. The world is watching, Mr. Secretary General. But issues are usually not elevated by diminishing the rank of their advocates. And today’s disarmament agenda is daunting, including:

  • kick-starting the fissile material cut-off negotiations,
  • the challenge of bringing the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty into force,
  • responding to the Russian announcement of withdrawal from the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty,
  • shoring up nuclear safeguards in the context of the U.S.-India nuclear deal,
  • the expiration of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in 2009,
  • the NPT Review Conference in 2010,
  • the expiration of the Strategic Offensive Reduction Treaty in 2012, and so on.

For his part, former Under-Secretary General Dhanapala was appointed this month to the Board of Dialog Telekom. One may wonder if Mr. Duarte and his successors will receive the same sort of reception from private industry upon leaving UN service “at the Under-Secretary General level.”

Friday, August 3, 2007

Rice Skips, Disarmament Advances at ASEAN Regional Forum

Leon T. Hadar of the CATO Institute observes that Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice’s decision to “prioritize” Middle East diplomacy over attendance at the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum may tend to marginalize U.S. influence in the region; noting that this is only the second time a U.S. Secretary of State has missed the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) meeting since they began in 1994 (the first time was also Secretary Rice in 2005). But the decision may have an unintended consequence for efforts to promote progress toward a nuclear weapon free world.

Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte did attend and made a proprosal on nonproliferation to the 27 foreign ministers in attendance. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Chris Hill briefed the press yesterday in Manila, saying of ARF nonproliferation efforts that:
“we believe that this is the type of issue for which the ARF is ideally suited -- and we had a very good tete-a-tete on that issue. There are some technical problems that remain, but I’m confident that we can find a resolution. And I think the ARF can make a contribution in this field.”
Abdul Khalik of the Jakarta Post reports a slightly different version from Manila:
“Indonesia on Thursday blocked a U.S. proposal to stop the spread of nuclear weapons during the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) meeting in Manila because it did not include efforts toward disarmament…the U.S. then changed the wording of the proposal, but the proposal was dropped because Indonesia insisted the issue of disarmament must be included.”
Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda, who blocked the proposal, explained the connection:
"There's a slightly different approach in the sense that to us nuclear non-proliferation should be seen in the full context, not in separation with other elements, namely disarmament and cooperation on nuclear technology. That's why we suggested that perhaps we should add more elements in the area of cooperation if we're going to develop it in the context of ARF."
Nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament are organically linked through the international legal rule of sovereign equality embodied in Article 2(1) of the United Nations Charter. These objectives are also legally linked through the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which embodies the global norm of nuclear nonproliferation and binds it explicitly to progress toward the ultimate goal of nuclear disarmament in Article VI.

The gentle reminder from our friends in Manila serves the longstanding U.S. interest in enduring nonproliferation and disarmament and hopefully regional cooperation toward these entwined objectives will be strengthened by the exchange (and those observing from the United States will take this important feedback into account in planning for our ongoing efforts toward compliance with Article VI of the NPT). One may wonder if Secretary Rice would have been more successful in swaying her peers than her Deputy was, but we’ll never know because, as Benjamin Disraeli observed, "History is made by those who show up."