Friday, December 19, 2008
Prof. Holdren is a leading expert on nuclear non-proliferation and arms control.
In 1997, he chaired the National Academy of Sciences report “The Future of Nuclear Weapons Policy” which made recommendations that are as relevant today as they were then. This NAS report recommended:
· the adoption of a policy of minimum deterrence
· adoption of a no-first use policy
· taking nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert
· reducing U.S. and Russian nuclear forces to 1,000 total warheads
· and explored the issues related to reducing to a few hundred warheads.
Dr. Holdren summarized the findings and recommendations of the report in a 2005 Arms Control Today op-ed in which he noted the need to implement these important recommendations:
“The committee's advice has largely been ignored, however, first by the Clinton administration, which had no appetite for the internal battles that embracing the recommendations would have entailed, and then by the Bush administration, which appears untroubled by the logical disconnect between its expansive view of the role of U.S. nuclear forces and its expectation of nuclear restraint from everyone else … Notwithstanding the unfortunate fate of the 1997 recommendations to date, they continue to constitute a sensible blueprint for reducing the role of and dangers from nuclear weapons in the early 21st century”
“The status quo is not stable. If nuclear weapons roles and dangers are not deliberately and relentlessly made smaller, they will get bigger. The largest nuclear-weapon states must lead the way, not drag their feet. The United States and Russia have managed to dismantle thousands of nuclear warheads and delivery systems made obsolete by the end of the Cold War. Now it is time to get on with dismantling our equally obsolete nuclear weapons policies.”
Three cheers for Dr. Holdren’s appointment!
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
The section entitled “The Contextual World” begins its discussion of “The Pacific and Indian Oceans” as follows:
“The rim of the great Asian continent is already home to five nuclear powers: China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Russia. Furthermore, there are three threshold nuclear states, South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan, which have the capacity to become nuclear powers quickly.”Such colorful writing may enliven the read, but it dangerously distorts the picture of Asian and global security presented in the report. While North Korea, appears to have tested a nuclear explosive device and maintains a conventional military of unusual size, it has by no means earned the status of “power” somehow analogous to Russia, China, and India.
Nuclear weapons may confer political status, but this is as much a dysfunction of contemporary global politics as it is a reflection of some real utility of nuclear weapons in meeting the needs of states. Nuclear weapons are exceedingly dangerous to U.S. and global security and North Korea’s acquisition of nuclear weapons is clearly destabilizing to the region. But nuclear weapons do not transform North Korea’s role in the world; they are a symptom and contributing cause of North Korea’s national tragedy.
Kim Jong Il styles himself an alchemist, hoping nuclear weapons will transform his comparative advantage in ignoring global norms and violating international law into security and foreign investment. It is unclear that he has achieved security or even broken even economically. He has impoverished his people and alienated them from the world community. A small nuclear arsenal may provide him a fig leaf of deterrence sufficient for human rights atrocities and petty criminality, but it has not transformed him into a globally relevant leader.
The U.S. Government should make this clear by consistently and assertively rejecting Kim’s mystical belief that nuclear weapons make him powerful; this includes consistently rejecting the use of the term “nuclear power” to describe any state.
Monday, December 8, 2008
"Europe has already done a lot for disarmament…[and]…Europe is ready to do more."French newspaper Le Figaro reports that the December 5 letter supports further (post-START) nuclear arms control negotiations between the United States and Russia, universal ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and dismantlement of all nuclear installations as soon as possible in a transparent and open way (the article notes that this issue refers particularly to Russia and China which maintain operational testing sites), a moratorium on fissile material production, and short- and medium-range surface-to-surface ballistic missiles.
With regard to a fissile material production cutoff, The Times of India reports:
"The opening without delay and without preconditions of negotiations on a treaty forbidding the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons, as well as the implementation of an immediate moratorium on the production of these materials."Le Figaro notes the intent of the letter is to “raise the debate to the level of heads of state.”
The letter carries added multilateral weight as France currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, a post it will relinquish this month.
President Sarkozy’s letter foreshadows tomorrow’s official launch in Paris of the “Global Zero” citizens campaign for a world without nuclear weapons. Featured leaders of this effort include former United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Margaret Becket who proposed last year that her country become a “disarmament laboratory” to develop the verification procedures and technology necessary to move toward the abolition of nuclear weapons. Entrepreneur and adventurer extraordinaire Sir Richard Branson is another campaign leader – having built the Virgin brand into a global phenomenon, he is perhaps uniquely qualified to again popularize the “unnatural act” of arms control.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Senator McCain's remarks signal a significant change from the Bush Administration in certain important areas, including a renewed commitment to pursuing further legally-binding and verifiable reductions in the number of U.S. and Russia nuclear weapons; opening a discussion on the ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT); strengthening efforts to secure vulnerable bomb-grade material; pursuing negotiations for a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT); and increasing funding for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Questions remain about specific policies, including whether Senator McCain will continue the successful engagement with North Korea to achieve a verifiable dismantlement of its nuclear weapons program, and whether he will be willing to negotiate directly with Iran. Another concern is his support of an ineffective and provocative missile defense which rankles the Russians and does nothing to reduce the more likely risk of a hostile country or terrorist group detonating a nuclear weapon in the United States or from a U.S. harbor.
For a more detailed analysis that I prepared for the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, click here.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
“While we have serious differences, with the end of the Cold War, Russia and theNukes on a Blog’s own Leonor Tomero commented on Senator McCain’s speech on the Brian Lehrer Show this morning.
United States are no longer mortal enemies. As our two countries possess
the overwhelming majority of the world's nuclear weapons, we have a special
responsibility to reduce their number. I believe we should reduce our
nuclear forces to the lowest level we judge necessary, and we should be prepared
to enter into a new arms control agreement with Russia reflecting the nuclear
reductions I will seek. Further, we should be able to agree with Russia on
binding verification measures based on those currently in effect under the START
Agreement, to enhance confidence and transparency. In close consultation
with our allies, I would also like to explore ways we and Russia can reduce –
and hopefully eliminate – deployments of tactical nuclear weapons in
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Most recently, a story from the Spanish newspaper El País (a summary of which appeared on the website http://www.typicallyspanish.com/) reported last week that Teresa Mendizábal, the Director of the Environment Department of the Energy, Environment, and Technology Research Centre, CIEMAT (part of the Ministry of Education), stated that 1,000 square meters of radioactively contaminated material, containing plutonium and americium, have been found near Palomares, Spain.
The contaminated material has been discovered 42 years after the Palomares accident where four U.S. hydrogen bombs fell over the village of Palomares (in the Almeria region in Southeastern Spain) following a 1966 mid-air collision between a U.S. B-52G bomber and tanker aircraft during in-flight refueling (which killed all crew members). Three nuclear weapons were recovered in Palomares and a fourth was recovered from the Mediterranean Sea. While the nuclear weapons did not detonate, two of them contaminated part of the area (releasing more than 20 kg of plutonium according to a PressTV article). In 1966, the US military airlifted contaminated soil from the site of the crash. Cietmat has been conducting monitoring studies of the area for over 40 years, because of concerns about the above-ground and wind-blown soil, and started decontamination in 2004. Now underground contamination from buried soil has been found as well. The article reports that the US military stated at the time of the accident that it air-lifted all the plutonium-contaminated soil (1.6 million tons), but hid the fact that it had buried some remaining soil in two ditches in 1966.
The article notes that until 2004, lettuce was being grown above the buried waste, and there were plans to develop the area. The article indicates that a formal agreement on clean up of the contamination at Palomares (the extent of which was yet unknown) was reached with the United States in 2006, when the United States provided $2 million for the soil studies. The article notes that it is expected that the United States will remove the contaminated underground soil (further negotiations are expected in June with the US Department of Energy when a US delegation will travel to Spain), as Spain has argued that it cannot store plutonium.
The legacy of this incident underscores the unintended dangers necessarily associated with nuclear weapons operations.
Monday, March 10, 2008
The World Congress featured detailed discussions on a variety of related topics, including the signature effort of IPPNW, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) initiated last year under the leadership of Dr. Tilman Ruff of Australia. Other topics inlcuded opposition to the U.S.-India agreement on peaceful nuclear cooperation, the danger of global "nuclear famine" resulting from even a limited regional nuclear war, globalization and militarization, torture, and religious intolerance.
ICAN physician diplomats held meetings with the President and the Prime Minister of India on the margins of the World Congress to encourage India to assert a more active leadership role in moving toward a world free of nuclear weapons. This work builds on the model of physician diplomacy for which IPPNW was awarded the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize and holds substantial promise for widening and deepening the commitment of governments worldwide to work toward the abolition of nuclear weapons on the basis of facts and expert medical testimony physicians are able to provide on the dangers nuclear weapons pose to human life and health.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
“The meeting builds on a recent Hoover/NTI conference “Reykjavik Revisited: Steps Toward a World Free of Nuclear Weapons” and two articles — “A World Free of Nuclear Weapons” and “Toward a Nuclear Free World” — written by George Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn that were published in The Wall Street Journal. It also builds on activities undertaken by the Norwegian government, which leads the Seven-Nation Initiative on nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, including Australia, Chile, Indonesia, Romania, South Africa and the U.K.”Dr. Jeffrey Lewis is surfacing early news from the conference at http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/.
Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre opened the conference (quotes taken from his remarks as prepared for delivery) with a keynote address offering clear direction:
“I hope this gathering will add momentum to a new global effort towards fulfilling the vision of a world without nuclear weapons”a spirit of inclusion:
“our vision must be a joint enterprise – among states, among scholars, among civil society actors, and among peoples…Achieving our vision will require a powerful coalition, and today we see its outlines. Coming together are realists who comprehend the power of idealism and idealists who understand the force of facts and realities.”the perspective of history:
“A world free of nuclear weapons has been a longstanding aspiration of my country’s foreign policy, even during the Cold War. Indeed, it has been a core foreign policy priority for many nations for decades.”awareness of the growing danger of recent years:
“The grim subtext has been a creeping abandonment of our vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. Combined with the short-sighted assumption that, because we have been spared nuclear war to date, because no acts of nuclear terrorism have yet been perpetrated, the status quo is somehow secure. That, my friends, is our Achilles heel: the false assumption that status quo is less risky than change.”and a sober eye to the difficult path forward:
“Let us be clear. Very few, if any, non-nuclear weapon states believe that full nuclear disarmament is possible, or even desirable, overnight. Realists and idealists can agree that nuclear weapon technology cannot be disinvented. International security as we know it is dependent on deterrence postures in which nuclear weapons maintain a pivotal role. But these postures are neither inevitable nor immutable.”So, the Spirit of Oslo emerges over the next two days, we hope that this fusion of perspectives will coalesce into a tangible, ongoing path forward that will include prompt achievement of prudent and verifiable steps toward a world free of nuclear weapons.
“We cannot consolidate and maintain the non-proliferation regime while neglecting the bold vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. We will delay and undermine nuclear disarmament unless we demand robust and credible non-proliferation. Abolitionists can be realists, and realists, abolitionists.”
Monday, February 11, 2008
"to open this framework for all leading states interested in cooperation in order to ensure overall security."Ivanov’s remarks align with recent British statements about the widening of the nuclear arms control process made by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Secretary of State for Defense Des Browne, and former Foreign Secretary Margaret Becket.
Widening the process of negotiated and effectively verified reduction in nuclear weapons to additional states supports compliance with the shared Article VI obligation of all states parties to the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) 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.”While some non-nuclear weapons states parties to the NPT have a tradition of taking this obligation seriously, greater engagement and political capital is needed from many states to respond effectively to the increasingly diffuse danger of proliferation of nuclear weapons and related technologies. The new dangers of an increasingly confusing multipolar balance of nuclear weapons capabilities and transnational proliferation rings argue strongly for more international legal constraints agreed among more players. Clear international legal rules are needed in response to these contemporary challenges, Ivanov emphasizes:
"It is imperative to ensure that the provisions of such a regime should be legally binding so that, in due course, it would really become possible to shift to the control over nuclear weapons and the process of their gradual reduction on a multilateral basis.”While the Bush Administration has preferred its disarmament policy to be unilateral and informal, the fact that both the United Kingdom and Russia have explicitly opened the door to multilateralization of nuclear disarmament negotiations suggests that next steps might be contemplated even while the United States remains disengaged from the process. United States should be preparing now to play a leadership role toward a future regime for the control of nuclear weapons that is legally binding, effectively verified, and multilateral. Watching from the sidelines, we endanger both national and global security by not reflecting our specific perspective, capabilities, and requirements into a process that shows clear signs of both widening and moving forward.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
“The UK has a vision of a world free of nuclear weapons and, in partnership with everyone who shares that ambition, we intend to make further progress towards this vision in the coming years.”Browne continues, emphasizing the need for progress nuclear disarmament to be verifiable, not only to the nuclear weapons “haves,” but also to the non-nuclear weapons states:
“Our chances of eliminating nuclear weapons will be enhanced immeasurably if the Non-Nuclear Weapon States can see forward planning, commitment and action toward multilateral nuclear disarmament by Nuclear Weapon States. Without this, we risk generating the perception that the Nuclear Weapon States are failing to fulfil their disarmament obligations and this will be used by some states as an excuse for their nuclear intransigence.”Browne reminds us that nuclear armament and disarmament are global issues, just as the obligation in Article VI of the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) apply to all states parties to the Treaty. The Government of the United Kingdom has again made clear that it will not abdicate its responsibility for nuclear disarmament nor will it exclude its NPT partners, particularly with regard to its new initiative to develop new technologies for verifying nuclear disarmament.
“Developing such techniques will take time but it is very important it is not undertaken in ‘splendid isolation’. It must be built on the requirements of Nuclear and Non-Nuclear Weapon States alike. We need to consider not only what information we are willing to divulge but also what information a Non-Nuclear Weapon State will want to receive.”Finally, Browne made a strong new proposal to host a conference to actively involve technical specialists from the national laboratories of the United Kingdom, United States, Russia, France, and China:
“the UK is willing to host a technical conference of P5 nuclear laboratories on
the verification of nuclear disarmament before the next NPT Review Conference in
2010. We hope such a conference will enable the five recognised nuclear
weapons states to reinforce a process of mutual confidence building: working
together to solve some of these difficult technical issues."
Friday, February 1, 2008
"The current Australian Government came to office with a new commitment to seekWe welcome this important step forward. But as former Prime Minister John Howard’s August 2007 deal to sell uranium to India – which has since been reversed by the new Australian Government – makes clear, nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament are not always Australia’s top foreign policy priorities. This is easy to understand, of course, bilateral relationships always loom large in comparison to global imperatives in international politics.
to be much more active... as a nation on nuclear non-proliferation and
One way to strengthen efforts to promote nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament and to insulate them from political vaguaries may be to strengthen their institutional advocate. The Australian Safeguards and Nonproliferation Office (ASNO), consolidated under a single Director General in 2003 legislation, supports an impressive tradition of Australian arms control and disarmament leadership. ASNO is also subordinate to Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT):
“The Director General reports directly to the responsible Minister. Since 1994By pulling ASNO out from under DFAT, and giving arms control and disarmament an independent voice, Australian Members of Parliament could ensure that these concerns always reach their Head of Government unfiltered by “clientitis” – the tendency of officials responsible for bilateral relationships to sacrifice other priorities for the sake of those relationships – or by officials who are not daily steeped in the technical, legal, and strategic complexities of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.
this has been the Minister for Foreign Affairs. ASNO is staffed through DFAT on
the basis that it is a division within the Department. The Director General is a
statutory officer, while all other staff were employed under the Public Service
Act 1999, on a full-time basis.”
Until the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) was ploughed under ten years ago and the earth below it twice salted by John Bolton, it may have been the most institutionally successful advocate for arms control in any government, ever. In how many countries does a dedicated advocate of nuclear disarmament with authority and staff report directly to the Head of Government? Establishing an independent ASNO may not be a sufficient or even prudent step toward effective Australian nuclear disarmament advocacy, but since nothing else has worked, it may be time to consider giving nuclear disarmament the bureaucratic priority that trade and development assistance enjoy in many goverments through a greater measure of institutional independence and persistance. If nothing else, it would surely get more serious people talking more seriously about the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons and give lie to the faulty assumption that nuclear weapons are not the common business of humanity.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Following a number of ratifications by smaller states this year, Colombia’s action significantly advances the CTBT toward entry into force as Colombia is one of 44 “Annex 2” states whose ratification is a prerequisite for entry into force.
CTBTO Executive Secretary Tibor Tóth remarked that:
“This is an extremely important event…Colombia's ratification creates a tippingThis bold action by Colombia demonstrates the capacity of all states to contribute to prudent, effective, and verified progress toward a world free of nuclear weapons. Ambassador Rosso Jose Serrano Cadena, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Colombia to the CTBTO said that:
point and brings the Treaty one step closer to taking effect. We welcome
Colombia's move and expect other ratifications from Annex 2 countries to follow
Of the 44 “Annex 2” states only North Korea, India, and Pakistan have not yet signed the CTBT and China, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, and the United States have not yet ratified.
“All peace loving countries must ratify the CTBT…We are sure that this willThe ratification of Colombia leaves only Cuba, Dominica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago not having signed the CTBT and Guatemala not having ratified Treaty among the states parties to the Treaty of Tlatelolco, establishing the Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in Latin America and the Caribbean.
happen. Also the Latin American and Caribbean region are now close to becoming a
complete CTBT continent.”
Monday, January 28, 2008
“This is very important internationally, but also regionally: Malaysia’s
ratification tips the balance in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN) where 6 out of 10 countries now have ratified the Treaty.”The CTBTO points out that, among ASEAN states:
“Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, the Philippines,
Singapore and Vietnam have now ratified the CTBT, whereas Brunei Darussalam,
Indonesia, Myanmar and Thailand have yet to ratify it.”
In our emerging tradition of blind luck in picking states about to sign or ratify the CTBT, we turn to Trinidad and Tobago to play its historic role in globalizing this important instrument for nuclear disarmament.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
The Campaign for Responsibility in Nuclear Trade believes the agreement would: dangerously weaken nonproliferation efforts and embolden countries like Iran and North Korea to pursue the development of nuclear weapons; further destabilize South Asia and Pakistan in particular; and violate or weaken international and U.S. laws, including the Hyde Act, which Congress passed in 2006 to provide a framework for the bilateral U.S.-Indian nuclear cooperation agreement.
“When Congress takes a close look at the Bush Administration’s proposed agreement, it will find a dangerous, unprecedented deal,” said John Isaacs of the Council for a Livable World. “The proposal undermines over 30 years of nonproliferation policy, will increase India’s capability to produce nuclear weapons and its stockpile of nuclear weapons-material, and sends the wrong message to Pakistan during a time of crisis in that country. We feel confident that, under the Congressional microscope, the many flaws of this deal will be exposed, and it will ultimately be rejected for the sake of preserving national security and global stability.”
The U.S.-Indian bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement would allow the transfer of U.S. nuclear technology and material to India. However, it fails to hold India to the same responsible nonproliferation and disarmament rules that are required of advanced nuclear states. The deal will increase India’s nuclear weapons production capability, exacerbate a nuclear arms race in the region, undermine international non-proliferation norms, and encourage the creation of large nuclear material stockpiles. Its contribution to meeting India’s growing energy needs has been greatly exaggerated and it would create economic opportunities for foreign nuclear industries without any guarantees for U.S. businesses.
The pact must win approval from the U.S. Congress, which changed U.S. law in December 2006 to allow negotiation of the agreement, under several conditions that have not been met in the final language of the agreement. Those conditions include a new agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency for safeguarding Indian power reactors and changes to the international guidelines of the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group, which currently restrict trade with India.
Members of the Campaign are working to educate the U.S. Congress and public about the dangers of the deal, and are working with experts and organizations in two-dozen countries to inform deliberation over the deal within Nuclear Suppliers Group and its member state governments.
The new coalition’s partners include: Council for a Livable World, Arms Control Association, Federation of American Scientists, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Washington office, United Methodist Church - General Board of Church and Society, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Institute for Religion and Public Policy, Union of Concerned Scientists, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, All Souls Nuclear Disarmament Task Force, British American Security Information Council, Women’s Action for New Directions, Americans for Democratic Action, Peace Action, Peace Action West, Arms Control Advocacy Collaborative, Beyond Nuclear, Bipartisan Security Group, Citizens for Global Solutions, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and Nuclear Information Resource Information Service.
Advisors to the coalition include Ambassador Robert Grey (Ret.), former U.S. Representative to the Conference on Disarmament and Director of the Bipartisan Security Group; Dr. Leonard Weiss, former staff director of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Energy and Nuclear Proliferation and the Committee on Governmental Affairs; Dr. Robert G. Gard, Jr., Lt. Gen., U.S. Army (Ret.), Senior Military Fellow, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation; Subrata Ghoshroy, Director, Promoting Nuclear Stability in South Asia Project, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Dr. Christopher Paine, Nuclear Program Director, Natural Resources Defense Council.
The Campaign’s website is www.responsiblenucleartrade.com.
About the Campaign for Responsibility in Nuclear Trade
The Campaign for Responsibility in Nuclear Trade, a partnership project of 23 nuclear arms control, non-proliferation, environmental and consumer protection organizations, opposes the July 2005 proposal for civil nuclear cooperation with India and the additional U.S. concessions made to India as a result of subsequent negotiations because they pose far-reaching and adverse implications for U.S. and international security, global nuclear non-proliferation efforts, human life and health, and the environment. More information about the campaign can be found at www.responsiblenucleartrade.com.