Nonproliferation Review March 2007

Volume 14 • Number 1


Small Arms and Light Weapons Trafficking: Creating an Assessment Framework from the U.S. Experience
Timothy Gildea and Glenn Pierce

Show/Hide Abstract
The impact of small arms and light weapons (SALW) trafficking on civilian populations has received increasing attention from non-governmental organizations (NGO), academic institutions, national governments and international organizations. Within the last 10 years it has been internationally recognized that the proliferation of SALW to areas of civil conflict has led to what the Red Cross describes as “appalling levels of wanton violence.” Concurrent with the increased focus on the destructiveness of SALW is the realization that present national and international import/export regulatory systems are inadequate to meet the challenge of controlling the proliferation of these weapons. Needed in this area of study is more specific information and policy guidance regarding the best methods and practices for implementing effective SALW trafficking controls. In response to the international SALW trafficking problem, this article provides a comprehensive framework to assess the development and operation of international small arms control regimes. It uses the U.S. export control regime as a case study to document, assess, and benchmark how import/export control systems can be optimally employed to control the international SALW trade.

Nuclear Attribution as Deterrence
Michael Miller

Show/Hide Abstract
Recently, post-explosion nuclear forensics, or nuclear attribution, has gained a new spotlight within the scientific and policymaking community working on nuclear weapons. Academics are beginning to ask whether post-explosion forensics might create a replacement for an international nonproliferation regime or at least offer a fallback option to deter states and individuals from selling nuclear materials. This paper examines current attribution technology from unclassified literature and finds the technology to be well developed but not foolproof, such that nuclear attribution currently provides little deterrent value. If current capabilities were publicized more thoroughly, and if the post-explosion process of assessing the evidence were internationalized, states and intermediate actors might be deterred more effectively. This paper also discusses the development of a nuclear fingerprint database; while useful, its impact on deterrence would be minimal.

Good Cop/Bad Cop” as a Model for Nonproliferation Diplomacy toward North Korea and Iran
Curtis H. Martin

Show/Hide Abstract
Scholarly and popular literature in the recent past has framed nonproliferation diplomacy toward both Iran and North Korea as an example of “good cop/bad cop,” a social-psychological strategy borrowed from law enforcement to describe a process for forcing a confession by subjecting a target to stressful emotional contrast. This article examines those two cases, roughly covering the period since 2003 when the most recent attempts to deal with the Iranian and North Korean proliferation threats began, in light of criteria for employment of the good cop/bad cop strategy. There is some evidence that within the framework of the six party talks with North Korea and within the framework of the EU-3-U.S. diplomacy toward Iran, the players seeking nonproliferation have adopted good cop/bad cop roles to that end. The article concludes, however, that while there are similarities to the interrogation room technique, the complexity of the international political environment as compared to the interrogation room has prevented the states involved from successfully adopting or effectively exploiting good and bad cop roles. Substantial and exploitable differences of interest among them, and the availability of alternative “escape routes” for the target state, raise serious questions about the applicability of the good cop/bad cop strategy to these two nonproliferation cases, and even about its applicability in future nonproliferation challenges.

The Economics of Energy Independence for Iran
Thomas W. Wood, Matthew D. Milazzo, Barbara A. Reichmuth, and Jeffrey Bedell

Show/Hide Abstract
Since 1975, Iran has pursued an ambitious nuclear program with the declared goal of long-term energy independence. While this is a worthwhile and generally accepted national planning objective, this analysis demonstrates that Iran’s nuclear program as now structured will not achieve this goal, and in fact may delay it by diverting capital and other resources from projects that would address pressing current energy sector problems and contribute to ultimate energy independence for Iran.

Decontamination and Remediation after a Dirty Bomb Attack: Technical and Political Challenges
Jennifer C. Bulkeley

Show/Hide Abstract
Since September 11, 2001, the U.S. government has spent tens of billions of dollars to improve response plans and capabilities for a potential terrorist attack, but the emphasis on immediate response has left many long-term environmental, political, and technological challenges unaddressed. Although many experts predict that a radiological weapon or “dirty bomb” is a likely weapon of choice, the United States continues to lack the technology necessary to decontaminate a densely populated urban area under political, financial, and temporal constraints. This article explores the likely effects of a dirty bomb (a radiological dispersal device), then assesses past experiences with large cleanup projects in the United States and with radiological disasters abroad to highlight how insufficient technology and unclear bureaucratic jurisdiction might hamper U.S. capacity to execute efficient and effective decontamination following a radiological attack. Despite the progress made since 2001, bureaucratic organizational challenges, political disagreements, insufficient decontamination techniques, waste management needs, and high economic costs are likely to plague long-term recovery. By going beyond emergency response to consider the long-term implications of a radiological attack, pre-event dialogue between government officials, scientists, the media, and the public–including the establishment of appropriate decontamination techniques and long-term plans–can help limit the environmental, economic, social, and psychological damage of a radiological attack and speed eventual recovery.


Second Thoughts About A First Strike
Nikolai Sokov

Show/Hide Abstract
This article critiques recent articles inForeign Affairs andInternational Security that argue the United States could, in the foreseeable future, acquire an assured first-strike capability vis-à-vis Russia and China thanks to technological improvements in U.S. nuclear delivery systems and a general decline in the numbers and capabilities of Russian nuclear forces. Notwithstanding these articles, this analysis finds that mutual deterrence will persist regardless of scale of possible future imbalances because deterrence is a highly flexible phenomenon. A more pertinent question is not whether the United States will be able, in a surprise first strike, to severely cripple Russian response capability, but whether political stakes in any foreseeable conflict could justify the risk of even a small retaliatory strike on the United States. This article also assesses whether theForeign Affairs andInternational Security articles could inadvertently exacerbate an already highly charged anti-American sentiment in Russia, possibly laying the foundation for a revitalization and expansion of the Russian nuclear arsenal.


The U.S. Highly Enriched Uranium Declaration: Transparency Deferred but not Denied
Steven Aftergood and Frank N. von Hippel

Show/Hide Abstract
In February 2006, the Department of Energy (DOE) released its historical account of U.S. production and disposition of highly enriched uranium (HEU) through 1996. The report was unclassified and had been completed in 2001, but it required five years of petitions and appeals under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) before the Bush administration was forced to release it. According to the report, in 1996 the United States had a stockpile of 741 metric tons (MT) of HEU with an average enrichment of 84 percent. Of that stockpile, 178 tons of HEU with an average enrichment of 62 percent had been declared excess for military purposes. In 2005, an additional 40 tons was declared excess, and 160 tons was put into a reserve for future use as naval-reactor fuel. An estimated 5 tons of HEU was lost due to “normal operating losses,” and there was a residual discrepancy of about 3 tons between the number obtained by subtracting cumulative disposition from cumulative production and the actual 1996 stockpile. This paper discusses the value of this information, including the insights that it provides about the feasibility of declaring additional U.S. weapons HEU excess and the ultimate limits of verification of nuclear disarmament.

Space Nuclear Reactors: History and Emerging Policy Issues
Nathan Voegeli

Show/Hide Abstract
Since the early 1950s, nuclear reactors have been periodically advocated for use in space. Recently, there has been a resurgence in promoting nuclear reactors as a viable and necessary component to future space exploration. This article describes various nuclear power sources for space use, explains the desirability of space reactors relative to other forms of power generation, examines the history of their development and use, and considers the difficulties presented for future engineering and production. It demonstrates how current space policy is deficient with regard to regulating the expected development and use of nuclear reactors in space. Because of the extended time frame required for development and testing, a comprehensive policy should be created to allow for the safe and publicly acceptable use of space-based reactors. To that end, the article concludes with three recommendations to advance space nuclear reactor policy.


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 © 2007 by Monterey Institute of International Studies