Nonproliferation Review November 2005

Volume 12 • Number 3


If You Want It Done Right, Do It Yourself: Explaining British and French Nonproliferation Policy after Iraq
Jason W. Davidson and Michael J. Powers

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Some have argued that the transatlantic rancor over the Iraq war made cooperation, especially on nonproliferation, unlikely. In contrast, in this article, the authors seek to document post-invasion instances of nonproliferation cooperation, with particular emphasis on the Proliferation Security Initiative and the EU-3–the British, French, and German negotiations with Iran over its suspected nuclear activities. In addition to documenting French and British participation in these initiatives, the article also attempts to explain why they have chosen to participate and argues that France and Britain have participated in both efforts because they are committed to avoiding future Iraq-like preventive wars.

Thinking Proliferation Theoretically
Sujeet Samaddar

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Addressing the challenge of proliferation cannot be successful unless the theoretical underpinnings that rationalize acquisition or renunciation of nuclear weapons are understood. Just as theories explain the phenomenon of conflict and cooperation in international affairs, similarly theories must also explain the phenomenon of nuclear proliferation or restraint. Again, just as sound theory helped policymakers in understanding deterrence politics, a theoretical understanding of the dynamics of proliferation that addresses both the effects of nuclear proliferation and its fundamental causes should benefit nonproliferation policymakers. Long-term idealist goals of a nuclear-weapons-free world need to be theoretically reconciled with realist considerations of the obvious power and prestige that is associated with nuclear weapons. Thinking proliferation theoretically must begin with identifying the stakeholders and spoilers of the contemporary nonproliferation bargain. This article proposes a theory without presenting case studies and reserves policy prescriptions based on these theoretical considerations for a subsequent discussion, keeping in mind Nye’s observation that “parsimony suggests that we start with the simple causes, see how much they explain, and go on to more complexity as needed.” Some simple causes are stated and the catalysts that spur proliferation reactions are probed in the hopes of provoking “thinking proliferation theoretically.”

Military Culture and Chinese Export Controls
James R. Holmes

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In recent years, the Chinese government, determined to burnish its reputation as a good international citizen, has striven to bring the nation’s export control system up to global standards. It has issued a series of laws, regulations, and policy statements to that effect. The Bush administration has nevertheless found Chinese performance wanting in this area. The most likely explanation behind the incidents of proliferation that have continued to occur is not, as administration officials have intimated, deliberate policy or simple inattention. While policymaking and lawmaking in Beijing have improved, some intervening variables have remained more constant, imposing a drag on the effectiveness of China’s export controls. The People’s Liberation Army, which has both the incentive and the means to bypass the stringent regulations enacted since 1998, is one such variable. By remaking the military culture in keeping with national policy, China’s top leadership can discourage exports that imperil regional security.

Political Change and Border Security Reform in Eurasia: The Case of Georgia
Cory Welt

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This article presents four challenges to promoting border security in post-Soviet Eurasia, even in those states that have experienced regime change and profess new interest in constructing sound state institutions. The analysis is drawn from the specific example of Georgia–a major recipient of U.S. border security assistance and the site of several intercepted efforts of radioactive materials trafficking–but it is relevant to other states in the region, as well. The challenges assessed are: (1) the gradual nature of border regime reform, (2) tradeoffs that subordinate border reform to other developmental priorities, (3) bureaucratic inertia and politics, and (4) the continued existence of unrecognized territories that lie beyond the reach of the state and of international law.


While Waiting for the Protocol: An Interim Compliance Mechanism for the Biological Weapons Convention
Una Becker, Harald Müller, and Carmen Wunderlich

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The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) regime currently suffers from a lack of effective compliance procedures. Because a legally binding compliance protocol to the BWC is not available, other measures are needed to stabilize the regime against the risk of violations of its rules. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the experiences of UN inspection teams show that among the necessary components of effective compliance mechanisms are an intermediary level between bilateral consultations of states parties and involvement of the UN Security Council as well as independent assessment capabilities. This article suggests that the UN Secretary General could assume such an intermediary function and, using the authority contained in Article 99 of the UN Charter, could investigate not only alleged use of biological weapons but also alleged breaches of the BWC. A standing expert unit in the Department for Disarmament Affairs could provide the independent expertise necessary for such investigations. Such a compliance mechanism could provisionally help stabilize the BWC regime until a permanent compliance system can be agreed.

Deterrence of Nuclear Terrorism with Mobile Radiation Detectors
Devabhaktuni Srikrishna, A. Narasimha Chari, and Thomas Tisch

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The United States has multiple nuclear detection initiatives to secure against a terrorist nuclear attack, including the Container Security Initiative, installation of radiation detectors at U.S. border points of entry, and establishment of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office. The current nuclear detection system architecture falls short of being able to reliably catch fissile nuclear material in transit, specifically shielded highly enriched uranium and plutonium, both within the United States and abroad. Checkpoints at border crossings can be circumvented, and no adequate system is under development to deter the transport of fissile materials. Using nuclear link-budget calculations, we show why a network relying primarily on handhelds, fixed detectors, and portals is not sufficient. We examine the technical, economic, and operational feasibility of a comprehensive national network incorporating in-vehicle detectors to reliably detect and deter the transport of fissile material.


Does Intent Equal Capability? Al-Qaeda and Weapons of Mass Destruction
Sammy Salama and Lydia Hansell

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The prospect of terrorists deploying weapons of mass destruction (WMD) is often referred to as the foremost danger to American national security. This danger has become more realistic because of al-Qaeda’s expanding global network and the expressed willingness to kill thousands of civilians. In the past four years, numerous media reports have documented the group’s ongoing quest for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) capabilities; many reports have detailed al-Qaeda members’ attempts to manufacture or obtain certain chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) agents to use in WMD against targets in the West and the Middle East. Yet the question remains: Does al-Qaeda’s current WMD capability match its actual intent? While most studies of the group have focused on its explicit desire for WMD, allegations of CBRN acquisition, and the killing potential of specific CBRN agents, few open source studies have closely examined the evolution of al-Qaeda’s consideration of WMD and, most notably, the merit of actual CBRN production instructions as depicted and disseminated in the group’s own literature and manuals. The following report will examine the history of al-Qaeda’s interest in CBRN agents, the evolution of the network’s attitude toward these weapons, and the internal debate within the organization concerning acquisition and use of WMD. More so, the following research will assess the validity of actual CBRN production instructions and capabilities as displayed and disseminated in al-Qaeda’s own literature and websites.


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