Nonproliferation Review July 2010

Volume 17 • Number 2


View this issue’s note from the Editor


View this issue’s contributor bios


Jacqueline Shire • Irvin R. Lindemuth • In Memorium: Stephen J. Ledogar


Organized Crime and the Trafficking of Radiological Materials: The Case of Georgia
Alexander Kupatadze

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Based on unique empirical data, including interviews with smugglers of radiological materials and the investigators who track them, this article discusses nuclear smuggling trends in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Smuggling in Georgia mainly involves opportunist smugglers and amateurs, as opposed to professional criminals and terrorists; however, this does not mean that radiological smuggling is devoid of professionalism or organization. The article demonstrates that professional criminals are rarely involved in smuggling due to the unreliable nature of the market for radiological materials and the threat radiological smuggling could pose to professional criminals’ ability to wield political power and operate legal commercial enterprises.

Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty: How the Dominoes Might Fall after U.S. Ratification
Liviu Horovitz and Robert Golan-Vilella

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President Barack Obama has pledged to secure the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which was previously rejected by the U.S. Senate in 1999. This article attempts to predict the potential implications of Washington’s ratification for the treaty’s future by analyzing the positions and options of the eight other essential holdouts. The authors conclude that without the United States to hide behind, facing domestic and international constraints, and lacking substantial strategic reasons to remain outside the treaty, most holdouts will move toward ratification. Nonetheless, the process is likely to be time consuming, and several of the key actors remain unpredictable.

Acquiring Foreign Nuclear Assistance in the Middle East: Strategic Lessons from the United Arab Emirates
Bryan R. Early

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has laid out an ambitious plan to become the first Arab country to possess a civilian nuclear energy program. Central to that effort has been the Emirati government’s ability to obtain foreign nuclear assistance. This article traces the UAE’s strategies for overcoming the obstacles that stood in the way of nuclear suppliers providing assistance. It examines the approach taken by the UAE to assuage the safety and security concerns of nuclear suppliers, how the UAE leveraged its alliances with France and the United States to obtain their cooperation, and its strategies for engaging domestic interest groups in supplier states. The generalizable elements of the UAE’s strategies are discussed and used to provide insight into the prospects for other Middle Eastern states’ bids to obtain similar assistance. The article concludes with a discussion of the potentially transformative aspects of the strategies employed by the UAE in shaping other countries’ pursuit of nuclear energy in the region.

From Proliferation to Peace: Establishing a WMD-Free Zone in the Middle East
Sara Kristine Eriksen and Linda Mari Holøien

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Despite both regional and international efforts to establish a weapons of mass destruction-free zone (WMDFZ) in the Middle East, regional support beyond mere rhetoric seems unattainable. The lack of commitment to WMD disarmament results from the complexity of regional security dynamics, which are characterized by a high level of weaponization and crosscutting conflicts. This article examines a strategy for WMD disarmament in the Middle East. First, such a strategy must reflect the motives underlying a state’s WMD aspirations. Security and prestige may be identified as two motives that affect the acquisition, and thus also the abandonment, of WMD. Second, Egypt, Iran, Israel, and Syria are important actors because their reasons for desiring WMD cannot be considered apart from each other, and progress will consequently depend on the inclusion of all these actors. In this regard, we recommend the establishment of a parallel process between efforts to establish a WMDFZ and peaceful relations in the Middle East. Solving central problems, like the lack of political determination and security cooperation, is vital to create consensus on the final framework of a zone. This study suggests a way forward by analyzing the central causes of conflict in the region and recommending ways to resolve them in order to establish a WMDFZ.

Alternative Narratives for Arms Control: Bringing Together Old and New
Amanda Moodie and Michael Moodie

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The efforts of President Barack Obama and his administration to restore the United States as a driving force of multilateral arms control and nonproliferation negotiations are commendable, yet the lack of progress on such issues over the last eight years has ensured that U.S. policy has not kept pace with changes in the geostrategic environment and the evolving security agenda. Meanwhile, an alternative agenda has been articulated by non-Western countries. This article focuses on the arms control perspectives of Non-Aligned Movement states and others that have begun to embrace the idea of ”disarmament as humanitarian action.” It explores this idea in the context of recent initiatives and argues that if the Obama administration wants to make progress on its arms control and nonproliferation priorities, it should consider a multifaceted approach that incorporates this emerging alternative agenda.

Creating Suns on Earth: ITER, LIFE, and the Policy and Nonproliferation Implications of Nuclear Fusion Energy
Fabian Sievert and Daniel Johnson

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Concerns about climate change and energy security have prompted some countries to revive dormant nuclear fission power programs to meet growing energy demands and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. However, this so-called nuclear renaissance based on fission would have major drawbacks in the areas of safety, security, and nonproliferation. Nuclear fusion, however, is portrayed by its proponents as mitigating these drawbacks, and scientists continue to pursue fusion’s promise with two large-scale projects: the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), and the Laser Inertial Fusion Engine (LIFE) reactor. Although supporters often hail fusion as proliferation resistant, the technology could be used to create weapons-usable fissile material. This article explains how fissile material could be created in ITER or LIFE and analyzes other nonproliferation implications of fusion; the authors discuss the various challenges faced by ITER and LIFE.


The Security Implications of China’s Nuclear Energy Expansion
Yun Zhou

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Nuclear energy is an integral part of China’s energy strategy and will increasingly contribute to China’s total energy supply. China has more than twenty civilian facilities, including power reactors, mines, and enrichment plants, to support its nuclear power program. As China operates more nuclear plants, more nuclear materials will be produced and stockpiled, and more nuclear facilities will be spread around the country. To ensure that this expanded network of nuclear facilities does not increase the risk that nuclear materials will be diverted or become the target of attack, China will need to develop more reliable domestic nuclear security strategies. China is also poised to become a major exporter of nuclear energy technology. China has committed to keeping nuclear technologies out of the hands of dangerous states and/or sub-state organizations, but in order to fulfill its nonproliferation obligations as well as its treaty-based commitment to share nuclear technologies, China will need to strengthen nuclear export controls and practices. This report examines and evaluates security measures at Chinese civilian nuclear power plants and suggests ways to improve them. It also reviews current export control policies and systems, identifies likely challenges to the expanding nuclear sector, and proposes possible solutions.

Turkey’s Nuclear Comeback: An Energy Renaissance in an Evolving Regional Security Context
Şebnem Udum

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As worries have grown about global warming and the sustainability and price of fossil fuels, the demand for nuclear energy has increased, and nuclear power is increasingly viewed as a reliable and clean resource. However, the so-called nuclear renaissance coincides with an international security environment in which the norms of nuclear nonproliferation seem to be eroding. Turkey, a non- nuclear weapon state, plans to generate nuclear power to meet future energy demands, but it is aware of and concerned with regional proliferation trends. Questions have also been raised regarding Ankara’s rationale for using nuclear energy, as well as its potential motivations and capabilities regarding future proliferation. This article will provide an overview of Turkey’s nuclear energy history and plans, as well as the proliferation-related questions that could arise; it will also look at the domestic debate on nuclear energy and Turkey’s status as a non-nuclear weapon state.

Strategic Trade Controls in Taiwan
Togzhan Kassenova

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Because it is a producer and supplier of high-tech dual-use goods as well as a major transit point for WMD-related and military items, Taiwan represents an important case study of national export control systems. Taiwan is not an official member of the major multilateral export control regimes, yet it remains committed to nonproliferation goals. The article explores the strategic trade controls of Taiwan within the context of its nonproliferation policies and commitments. The author discusses the strong and weak aspects of Taiwan’s strategic trade controls by looking in detail at key components of the country’s export-import control system: legal basis, licensing system, enforcement and compliance mechanism, government-industry outreach, and adherence to nonproliferation treaties and multilateral export control regimes.


Investigating the Rubble of Syria’s Secret Reactor: How to Help the IAEA Accomplish Its Critical Mission
Gregory L. Schulte

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Damascus has severely impeded an investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) into Syria’s construction of a covert nuclear reactor, which was destroyed in a 2007 Israeli air strike. Pressing Damascus to cooperate with the inquiry is necessary to ascertain that there are no other undeclared activities in Syria, to determine the role of North Korea in the construction of the reactor, and to help prevent future clandestine efforts. With Damascus doing its best to avoid the investigation, securing Syrian cooperation will require adept diplomacy backed by the prospect of special inspections and, if necessary, a referral to the UN Security Council. The case of Syria’s secret reactor highlights areas in which the IAEA needs buttressing, from the enhanced sharing of information, to reporting that is less political and more forthright. The case also illustrates the downside of politicizing IAEA investigations and supports the new director’s apparent intent to return the agency to its core technical tasks.


Preventing Catastrophe: The Use and Misuse of Intelligence in Efforts to Halt the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, by Thomas Graham Jr. and Keith A. Hansen
Reviewed by Torrey Froscher

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The U.S. intelligence community’s (IC) efforts to monitor foreign nuclear programs have been severely criticized in recent years. Ambassador Thomas Graham Jr. and Keith A. Hansen offer some much needed perspective by discussing the real-world difficulties and challenges involved in tracking these programs; Graham and Hansen also explore the complexities of the relationship between intelligence and policy. In reviewing key proliferation developments since the end of the Cold War, they conclude that intelligence judgments have been right more often than not. In the case of Iraqi WMD, the authors acknowledge IC shortcomings but emphasize policy makers’ misuse of intelligence information. Although the IC has recently increased its support of counterproliferation and other more direct means of coping with a world rife with proliferation, the authors generally limit their focus to treaty monitoring and programmatic assessments. Nonetheless, the book provides a sound introduction to the intersection of intelligence and weapons proliferation, as well as background information on topics ranging from how national intelligence estimates are made to the history of presidential influence on U.S. intelligence.

Banning Weapons of Mass Destruction, by Frederick N. Mattis
Reviewed by Patricia M. Lewis

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Frederick N. Mattis’s book,Banning Weapons of Mass Destruction, examines how to build a framework for a worldwide ban on nuclear weapons. He proposes a Nuclear Ban Treaty (NBT) different in concept and content to the already-proposed Nuclear Weapons Convention. He makes the case for outlawing and eliminating nuclear weapons, succinctly dismissing the incremental approach as ineffective in achieving the end goal of nuclear disarmament. Central to the concept of developing an NBT is that the treaty would be the starting point, not the destination, committing states to elimination and to beginning the process. Mattis develops a proposed treaty framework with stages for dismantlement and addresses entry into force, reservations, withdrawals, and verification.


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.
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