Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Opposition to Nuclear Terrorism

United Kingdom Member of Parliament from Woodspring and Tory Shadow Secretary of State for Defence Dr. Liam Fox addressed the threat of nuclear terrorism yesterday in a speech at Kings College, London. He makes important points about the dangers of nuclear weapons and materials and echoes Professor Graham Allison’s “three no’s: no loose nukes, no new nascent nukes, and no new nuclear states.”

However, his silence is disappointing on the topic of British leadership in the nuclear disarmament process, particularly including specific steps suggested by outgoing UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Margaret Beckett in a speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace International Nonproliferation Conference in June.

Also of interest, Dr. Fox addresses the bargain of the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) directly:
“The time is surely coming for us to revisit the NPT, especially article IV. Unless the international community develops new controls and ownership of both nuclear fuels and spent fuels and unless there are clear economic incentives for countries to accept this new authority, with the major powers willing to effectively police it, then we are asking for trouble.”
One may hope that this envisioned “revisitation” will be one that includes the voices of the international community full of non-nuclear weapon states and nuclear weapon free states who exercise impressive restraint and humility in their defense and security policies by not pursuing nuclear weapons. An imposed change – particularly one that envisions different classes of states with different rights and obligations – would strain an already weakened regime.