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Arms Control Experts Comment on Bush Nonproliferation Proposals
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Call Issued for a More Comprehensive Preventive Strategy to Devalue and Dismantle Nuclear Weapons


For Immediate Release: February 11, 2004

Press Contacts: Daryl Kimball, (202) 277-3478 x107; Wade Boese, (202) 463-8270 x104; Paul Kerr, (202) 463-8270 x102

(Washington, D.C.): Today, Arms Control Association (ACA) experts praised President George W. Bush for focusing attention on the need to strengthen efforts to prevent the spread of dangerous weapons, but they called on the United States to pursue a more comprehensive and consistent approach to prevent, not preempt, proliferation and end its own "do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do" nuclear weapons policies.

"U.S. nonproliferation policy cannot simply be limited to the 'rogue' states and terrorists that seek nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons," said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. "It must also address the full scope of dangers posed by these weapons in all countries. So long as one state continues to possess nuclear weapons, the danger that they will be stolen or deliberately or accidentally used will persist. In addition, other states will feel compelled or justified to seek nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons and the means to deliver them," added Kimball.

ACA Research Analyst Paul Kerr stated, "The most logical and easiest route for proliferators to acquire nuclear weapons is to go to those states that already possess them, such as Pakistan or Russia. The president missed the opportunity to announce a significant increase in funding for efforts to secure WMD materials in the former Soviet Union and to help reduce the danger of nuclear war in South Asia."

"As President Bush suggested, it is time for the international community to consider new ways to restrict access to dangerous nuclear technologies," said Kimball. Decades of nuclear trade done under the auspices of peaceful and civilian programs has led to the broad diffusion of nuclear technology worldwide and has allowed states to acquire uranium enrichment or plutonium production facilities useful for weapons. The nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty guarantees its non-nuclear-weapon states-parties access to peaceful nuclear technology.

Today, President Bush proposed strengthening the 40-member Nuclear Suppliers Group to further restrict access to items that could be used to develop nuclear weapons and outlined efforts to improve interdiction of shipments of dangerous items under the Proliferation Security Initiative.

"Though important, tightening nuclear export controls and bolstering interdiction efforts are only part of the solution," stated Kimball. "The long-term success of efforts to stop the spread of highly enriched uranium and plutonium production technologies requires the involvement of all states, not just a coalition of the willing. As IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei has suggested, one potentially useful model could be a new protocol to the NPT that would continue to guarantee access to nuclear technology for health, agriculture, medicine, and power reactors but would restrict plutonium reprocessing and uranium enrichment capabilities," Kimball said.

"The President also failed to reaffirm U.S. support for negotiating a global, verifiable treaty-known as a fissile material cutoff treaty-to end the production of uranium and plutonium for nuclear weapons. The entire concept is now 'under review' by his administration," noted Kimball. Negotiation of such a treaty, which the United States has advocated for over a decade, could help bring key states, including Pakistan, India, and Israel into the global nonproliferation system.

"As the President suggested, the United States should help build global support for expanded nuclear inspections under the IAEA by ratifying its Additional Protocol," said Kimball. The Protocol was only recently delivered to the Senate.

"But it is vital that the U.S. help strengthen international monitoring and inspection capabilities in other areas, which can aid U.S. intelligence and provide the basis for collective action against noncompliance," Kimball stated. "The United States must also support the creation of a permanent weapons monitoring and inspection organization under the authority of the Security Council or the UN Secretary-General to help deal with difficult biological, chemical, and missile proliferation cases. U.S. support for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty would help block the development of dangerous new weapons through the implementation of the treaty's valuable monitoring system to detect and deter nuclear explosions and to allow short-notice, onsite inspections."

"The evolving nature of the nuclear threat requires a more comprehensive and robust global nonproliferation strategy than outlined by President Bush," argued Kimball.

"All forms of nuclear proliferation must be addressed. The United States and other global powers can no longer ignore the possession of nuclear weapons by their allies and friends," argued Kerr.

"Although India and Pakistan are not a direct threat to the United States, they do threaten one another, and so long as Israel possesses nuclear weapons, others in the region will likely seek them too. China has aided Pakistan's nuclear program, and in turn, Pakistan has aided North Korea and Iran," Kerr explained.

"The United States and other nuclear-weapon states must lead by example and do far more to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in their own security policies to diminish the importance and lure of such weapons to others," said Wade Boese, research director at the Arms Control Association.

"Instead of exploring new nuclear weapons for new missions, a more sensible policy would be for the United States to reaffirm past assurances that it will not use nuclear weapons against countries that do not possess them and declare that the United States will not be the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict," Boese added.

"In the long run, the continued possession and threat of use of nuclear weapons by a few undermines the security of all. Without more effective U.S. leadership in each of these areas, the struggle against proliferation will fall short and leave a more dangerous world for generations to come," said Kimball.


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The Arms Control Association is an independent, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to promoting public understanding of and support for effective arms control policies. Established in 1971,the Association publishes the monthly journal, Arms Control Today.

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Posted: February 11, 2004