Nonproliferation Review July 2005

Volume 12 • Number 2


The 2005 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference: Mission Impossible?
John Simpson and Jenny Nielsen

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The 2005 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) failed to produce any agreed action plan for addressing nuclear disarmament or proliferation. Detailed discussions and negotiations on such a plan were much curtailed because of procedural wrangles. This article describes the evolution of the conference and argues that changes in the international political environment and problems inherent in the revised NPT review process agreed at its 1995 Extension Conference contributed to the meager outcome. The main issues raised by delegations in their plenary statements, working papers, and the limited time available for interactive discussion are summarized, and three perspectives are offered on the reasons for the lack of any substantive product. Finally, the implications of that failure for the NPT, its review process, the wider regime for international nuclear governance, and nuclear disarmament, nuclear nonproliferation, and the peaceful use of nuclear energy are examined.

The Proliferation Security Initiative: The Asia-Pacific Context
Andrew Newman and Brad Williams

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The Asia-Pacific is emerging as a critical region in the fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) is an aggressive global strategy designed to interdict the transport of these weapons and associated technologies. However, some observers have suggested that the ”Asia-Pacific” has given the PSI a less than enthusiastic reception. The authors posit a more sanguine view. They caution against taking such a holistic approach to the ”Asia-Pacific.” Asia does not speak with one voice when it comes to security, and opposition to the PSI is not as widespread nor deep-rooted as may have been anticipated. In addition, the PSI’s informal structure encourages flexibility, enabling states to participate in certain activities while eschewing others that may be technically or politically untenable.


Space Weapons and Proliferation
Michael Krepon with Michael Katz-Hyman

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The prospect for an arms race figures prominently in the arguments of boosters and detractors of space warfare. However, the most likely outcome of U.S. plans to place weapons in space is not an arms race, but a further degradation of the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and an increase in the amount of proliferation. Both China and Russia are likely to respond to any U.S. space weapons with inexpensive space weapons and a cessation of cooperative nonproliferation programs. During the Cold War, space warfare was avoided due to the detrimental effects such weapons would have on the physical and political environment. Today, these same effects can be seen through the prism of proliferation.

India and the New Look of U.S. Nonproliferation Policy
William C. Potter

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U.S. nuclear export policy has undergone major transformations since 1945, and the most recent change, as expressed in the July 18, 2005, India-U.S. Joint Statement, represents an especially significant shift in policy. The document reverses more than a quarter century of U.S. declaratory policy, suggesting that the current U.S. administration regards nuclear proliferation to be both inevitable and perhaps even favorable. This article investigates this policy shift, looking at the history of U.S. nuclear export policy and the potential ramifications of the new policy on the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The author also touches on the potential effects of the Joint Statement on Indian-Pakistani relations. Finally, it is suggested that it is not too late for India and the United States to change the new policy with more consideration for the NPT and the Nuclear Suppliers Group initiative.

Preventive Attacks against Nuclear Programs and the “Success” at Osiraq
Dan Reiter

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Advocates of the preventive use of force against emerging nuclear, biological, or chemical programs often look to the allegedly successful 1981 Israeli airstrike against Iraqi nuclear facilities at Osiraq. According to the conventional wisdom, this attack may have prevented Iraq from going nuclear before Operation Desert Storm in 1991. This article assesses the claim that the 1981 attack substantially delayed Iraqi acquisition of nuclear weapons, both by revisiting older debates and by introducing new evidence from Iraqi defectors. The article casts doubt on the conclusion that the attack was successful, for three reasons: 1) the reactor itself was not well equipped to generate plutonium for a nuclear weapon; 2) likely illegal plutonium production would have caused a cutoff in the supply of nuclear fuel and an end to weapons activities; and 3) the attack may have actually increased Saddam’s commitment to acquiring weapons. These conclusions have implications for the Bush Doctrine, as the lack of success in 1981 casts doubt on the possible success of future attacks against nuclear programs.

The Exercise of National Sovereignty: The Bush Administration’s Approach to Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation
Jofi Joseph

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Skeptics of the Bush administration have castigated the latter’s strong aversion to formal international agreements in responding to the threat of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), citing unilateral actions as the default alternative. Yet this critique misses the growing emergence of a conscious framework guiding the administration’s actions: an emphasis on the exercise of national sovereignty and the corollary principle of sovereign responsibility. Rejecting the paradigm of arms control as the answer to WMD proliferation, the current administration instead advocates a toolkit of alternative mechanisms based on the full exercise by individual nation states of their domestic authorities and rights under international law, acting in their capacities as responsible citizens of the global community. This paper will examine that philosophical approach and its concrete application through the following policies: 1) the Proliferation Security Initiative; 2) enforcement of national laws and regulations as exemplified by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 and the U.S. proposals for consideration by Biological Weapons Convention signatories; and 3) preemptive warfare to disarm the WMD programs of a threatening state.


Is Taiwan Getting Serious about Export Controls?
Mark Wuebbels

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Taiwan’s international status is such that the country’s ability to trade and to supply certain goods and technologies remains its primary means of practicing diplomacy and asserting international influence. U.S. pressure to conform to international nonproliferation standards has made the issue of export controls a troubling one for Taiwan. Limiting Taiwan’s economic relations affects its ability to sustain itself economically and to maintain productive relations with other nations. On the other hand, as a recipient of U.S. high-technology transfers and security assurances, Taiwan cannot ignore the directives of the United States. The article focuses on this dilemma and how a shift in power to the Democratic Progressive Party is affecting Taiwan’s choice between placing limitations on its global economic power or risking being cut off from U.S. technology and losing U.S. security assurances. In order to address this challenge properly, Taiwan will need to reassess its fundamental economic and security interests.


Statements of fact and opinion expressed in The Nonproliferation Review are the responsibility of the authors alone and do not imply the endorsement of the editors, the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, or the Monterey Institute of International Studies.
The Nonproliferation Review ISSN 1073-6700
Copyright © 2005 by Monterey Institute of International Studies