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– Hans Blix,
former IAEA Director-General

Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

Nuclear Suppliers Discuss Membership

Representatives from the 48 member states of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) met in Vienna last month to discuss possible common membership.

December 2016

By Daryl G. Kimball

Representatives from the 48 member states of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) met in Vienna last month to discuss possible common membership criteria for countries that have not joined the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

The meeting on Nov. 11 was the first since the NSG’s June plenary meeting in Seoul, where states considered but did not agree to separate membership bids from India and Pakistan, neither of which is a member of the NPT. (See ACT, July/August 2016.)

South Korean Ambassador Song Young-wan, chair of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, speaks at an event in Vienna on May 6. (Photo credit: Kresimir Nikolic/IAEA)

In 2008, after a long and contentious debate, the group exempted India from the NSG’s long-standing full-scope safeguards requirement for nuclear trade with non-nuclear-weapon states on the basis of political commitments made by India, including a commitment to abide by its unilateral nuclear testing moratorium. 

Earlier this year, Washington and New Delhi launched a diplomatic push for full Indian membership in the NSG. Pakistan submitted a separate membership bid. But at the group’s meeting in June, China and several other states insisted that NPT membership must be one of the key criteria.

At the Nov. 11 meeting, which was convened by the current chair of the NSG, South Korean Ambassador Song Young-wan, the delegates continued to exchange views on the “two-step” process on non-NPT states’ participation begun at their Seoul meeting. 

Since the June plenary, Song, with the assistance of outgoing NSG chair Rafael Mariano Grossi of Argentina, have consulted states on possible criteria for membership. According to senior diplomats involved in the confidential consultations, NSG states have begun to seriously engage on potential options, but the discussion has not yet reached the point at which a consensus decision might be achieved.

Several states involved in the consultations have suggested that signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) should be included as one of the common criteria for NSG membership, according to diplomats who spoke with Arms Control Today

In September, the UN Security Council approved a resolution reaffirming the importance of the CTBT. (See ACT, October 2016.) Last month, India, which has not signed the nuclear test ban accord, concluded a civil nuclear cooperation agreement with Japan that would be terminated if India conducts a nuclear test.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a statement Nov. 11 saying that “China maintains that any formula worked out should be non-discriminatory and applicable to all non-NPT states; without prejudice to the core value of the NSG and the effectiveness, authority and integrity of the international non-proliferation regime with the NPT as its cornerstone; and without contradicting the customary international law in the field of non-proliferation.”

Posted: November 30, 2016

The Nuclear Nonproliferation Initiatives Mapping Project

Visit the full Project site at NuclearNonProMap.org

Table of Contents

Posted: November 21, 2016

The Strengthened Review Process for the Nonproliferation Treaty

Tariq Rauf argues that the perceived shortcomings of the treaty’s review efforts stem not from the process itself but from deficient implementation by states-parties.

October 2016

By Tariq Rauf

In his article (“The NPT Review Process: The Need for a More Productive Approach,” September 2016), Robert Einhorn proposes that states-parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) desist from striving to achieve a “comprehensive, consensus final document” at the 2020 NPT Review Conference. Rather, he calls for the conference to produce an accurate summary report that assesses NPT implementation, reflecting differences in the views among participating nations, and a forward-looking section on strengthening the NPT that includes both agreed proposals and those not agreed. He bases these and other recommendations on the grounds that the treaty itself does not provide specific guidance on the conduct and outcome of review conferences. 

While several of his proposed solutions to a seemingly dysfunctional NPT review process might appear attractive, none are really new. All have been tried in one way or another in the 1995-2000 and 2000-2005 review periods, including reports reflecting areas of agreement and disagreement, but all efforts failed due to the stubborn inflexibility of the participating nations. 

As someone who was closely involved with the development of the NPT “strengthened review process” in 1995 and 2000, I feel obligated to point out that the perceived shortcomings lie not in the process itself but in its deficient implementation by the states-parties.

The 179 NPT states-parties decided without a vote at the historic 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference to extend the treaty indefinitely. In doing so, they called for “strengthening the review process” and provided specific guidance on the future conduct and output of review conferences and the preparatory committees. As the 1995 guidance was not adequately implemented, states-parties by consensus in 2000 not only reaffirmed the 1995 provisions but also agreed that specific time be allocated at sessions of the preparatory committee to consider specific relevant issues and the consideration of issues at each session of the preparatory committee be factually summarized and transmitted to the next session for further discussion. Further, they directed that the preparatory committee should make every effort to produce a consensus report containing recommendations to the review conference. 

Contrary to Einhorn’s assertion, elaborate agreed guidance exists for the conduct of the review process—it is uncomplicated, easy to understand, and not difficult to implement given good faith, political will, and adequate advance preparations by states-parties. But it has not been implemented in good faith. 

Unfortunately, differences between nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states and among the non-nuclear-weapon states, especially on nuclear disarmament and the establishment of a Middle Eastern zone free of weapons of mass destruction, have been growing unchecked. The resulting rancour, opprobrium, and nonfulfillment of agreed decisions and recommendations led to a collapse of the review process in the 1995-2000, 2000-2005, 2005-2010, and 2010-2015 preparatory committee sessions and to the failure of the 2005 and 2015 review conferences (with a partial success in 2010). Practical ideas to produce better outcomes all were rejected by different groupings of states-parties largely on flimsy grounds. 

Unwilling to place the blame for these failures where it correctly belongs, many delegates and observers have taken the easy road of blaming the review process.

The “strengthened review process” was envisioned to preserve and enhance the authority and integrity of the NPT across all its principal provisions, based on three underlying principles: (1) permanence with accountability, (2) a qualitatively strengthened, on-going review process that evaluates and is forward looking, and (3) pragmatism and dynamism on an evolving basis. In this regard, the strengthened review process aims to be a “living process” responsive to developments affecting the objectives of the NPT and “product oriented” in line with the provisions established in 1995, that is to produce a final document agreed by consensus to give it requisite authority. 


Tariq Rauf is director of the Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-proliferation Programme at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. He was senior adviser to the chair of main committee I (nuclear disarmament) at the 2015 NPT Review Conference and senior adviser to the chair of the 2014 NPT preparatory committee. 

Posted: September 30, 2016

The P5+1 and Iran Nuclear Deal Alert, September 30

Ministers Meet to Review Iran Deal Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) met at the ministerial level to review implementation of the nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The September 22 meeting in New York was the first ministerial-level meeting on the nuclear agreement since the ministers gathered to announce implementation of the deal in January. Iran requested that the meeting take place to review progress on the deal and to raise concerns over the slow pace of sanctions relief. European Union foreign...

Statement on North Korea's Fifth Nuclear Test by Daryl Kimball and Kelsey Davenport

Fifth North Korean nuclear test is alarming and cause for action to freeze its programs and reinforce global testing taboo—Statement by Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball and Director for Nonproliferation Policy Kelsey Davenport, 5am GMT, September 9, 2016.

Reinforcing the Taboo on Nuclear Testing is in the United States' National Security Interests

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In response to a report in The Washington Post, Arms Control Association Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball made the following comments.

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For Immediate Release: August 4, 2016

Media Contacts: Tony Fleming, communications director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 110; Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107

(Washington, D.C.)—In response to a column written by Josh Rogin in The Washington Post, Arms Control Association Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball issued the following comments:

President Obama addresses the Security Council on nuclear non-proliferation and resolution 1887 (2009), expressing the Security Council's resolve to create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons. (Photo credit: UN)We applaud President Obama’s consideration of a politically-binding UN Security Council resolution this fall that would reinforce the global norm against nuclear weapon test explosions and strongly dispute the allegation made by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) that such an effort would "cede the Senate’s constitutional role” on advice and consent of the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
 
It is our understanding that the initiative being pursued by the administration would, as other UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions have already done several times before, exhort those states that have not yet ratified the CTBT to do so and call upon all states to refrain from further nuclear testing and to support ongoing efforts to maintain the monitoring system established to detect and deter clandestine nuclear testing.

With President Bill Clinton’s signature of the CTBT in 1996, the United States ended the practice of nuclear testing and today all but one state—North Korea—respects the de facto moratorium on nuclear testing. 
 
More than two decades after the last U.S. nuclear test in 1992, the United States' nuclear weapons labs are in a better position to maintain the reliability of the U.S. arsenal than during the era of nuclear weapons test explosions.
 
Clearly, in order for the United States to ratify the CTBT and the treaty to enter into force, the U.S. Senate would have to reconsider the treaty and provide its advice and consent to ratification. 
 
In the meantime, it is clearly in the interests of the United States to seek ways to reinforce the de facto global nuclear testing moratorium and make it more difficult for states, including Russia, China, India, Pakistan, and Iran, from conducting nuclear test explosions.
 
We would hope that Sen. Corker and other members of Congress would not attempt to sabotage efforts to increase the political barriers against nuclear testing by other states and to reinforce the existing, but fragile, legal norm against testing that already exists.
 
As President Bill Clinton said upon his signature of the CTBT in September 1996: “The signature of the world’s declared nuclear powers… along with the vast majority of its other nations will immediately create an international norm against nuclear testing, even before the treaty enters into force.”

The most effective way to verifiably end nuclear testing is to bring the treaty into force. To succeed, U.S. leadership is essential.

Bringing the CTBT back to the Senate for another vote requires a lengthy, intensive educational and outreach campaign to present the new information, answer detailed questions, and dispel old myths and misconceptions.

It was through such a process that the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) was approved in 2010. Unfortunately, in recent years, the Senate has shown it is not prepared for a serious discussion of the CTBT. 

The Obama administration has made it clear in congressional hearings, including on December 1, 2015 and July 14, 2016, that it is not pursuing "a prohibition of nuclear testing through a U.N. Security Council resolution.” 

The initiative that the administration is seeking, while not legally binding, would have tremendous political value in reinforcing the global norm against testing and reduce the risk that other nations might use nuclear testing to improve or develop nuclear weapons capabilities that threaten U.S. and global security.

Finally, any efforts by Congress to withhold the U.S. contribution for the global test monitoring system could undermine long-term U.S. security by eroding our ability to detect and deter clandestine nuclear test explosions by countries such as Russia and Iran.

Posted: August 4, 2016

The Complex and Increasingly Dangerous Nuclear Weapons Geometry of Asia

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Asian states Pakistan, India, China, and North Korea comprise four of the world's nine nuclear-armed states. The interconnections of these countries must be considered to fully understand how nuclear nonproliferation can be influenced.

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By Greg Thielmann
July 2016

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While much of the world’s attention is focused on efforts to halt the nuclear and missile tests of North Korea, the nuclear arsenals and ambitions of India, Pakistan, and China also pose significant dangers and deserve more attention.

The complicated nuclear weapons geometry of Asia extends from the subcontinent to the other side of the world. While Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is designed to counter India’s conventional and nuclear forces, New Delhi measures its own nuclear weapons program against that of China. Beijing, in turn, judges the adequacy of its nuclear arsenal against the threat it perceives from the United States’ strategic offensive and defensive capabilities. And in its efforts to mitigate the ballistic missile threat from North Korea, the United States and its allies in the region are expanding their strategic and theater missile defense capabilities.

In order to fully understand how the pace and direction of nuclear proliferation can be influenced, the interconnections of these countries must be considered, along with the kinds of nuclear weapons they have at their disposal.

Posted: July 27, 2016

Progress on Nuclear Disarmament, Nonproliferation Inadequate to Meet Threats, New Study Finds

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A new study suggests that President Obama, failed to make progress in key nuclear disarmament areas during his second term.

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For Immediate Release: July 15, 2016

Media Contacts: Tony Fleming, communications director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 110; Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107

(Washington, D.C.)—President Barack Obama failed to make progress in key nuclear disarmament areas over the course of his second term, but did achieve important steps to improve nuclear materials security and strengthen nonproliferation norms, namely the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, according to a new study released by the Arms Control Association, which evaluates the recent records of all the world’s nuclear-armed states.

The report, "Assessing Progress on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament, 2013-2016," is the third in a series that measures the performance of 11 key states in 10 universally-recognized nonproliferation, disarmament, and nuclear security categories over the past three years. The study evaluated the records of China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, India, Israel, Pakistan, and North Korea—each of which possess nuclear weapons—as well as Iran and Syria, which are states of proliferation concern.

“The United States is investing enormous resources to maintain and upgrade nuclear weapons delivery systems and warheads and is keeping its deployed nuclear weapons on ‘launch-under-attack’ readiness posture. The lack of U.S. leadership in these areas contributes to the moribund pace of disarmament,” said Elizabeth Philipp, the Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellow at the Arms Control Association, and a co-author of the report.

“Obama should use his remaining months in office to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. strategies and mitigate the risks of inadvertent use. Obama could consider declaring that Washington will not be the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict,” said Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association and co-author of the report.

“U.S. leadership could spur China and Russia to take positive actions and improve the prospects for further disarmament. Russia’s decision to develop a new missile in violation of its treaty commitments and Moscow’s rebuff of attempts by the United States to negotiate further nuclear reductions is very troublesome, as is the expansion of China’s nuclear arsenal and Beijing’s steps toward increasing the alert levels of its forces,” Philipp added.

“Several states did take significant steps over the past three years to strengthen nuclear security, including action by the United States and Pakistan to ratify key nuclear security treaties,” said Davenport.

“The July 2015 nuclear deal struck between six global powers and Iran was also a significant nonproliferation breakthrough that has significantly reduced Tehran’s nuclear capacity and subjected its activities to more intrusive international monitoring and verification. While the international community must remain vigilant in ensuring that the deal is fully implemented, blocking Iran’s pathways to nuclear weapons negates a serious nonproliferation concern and demonstrates the consequences of flouting the international norms and obligations,” Davenport said.

“For the third time, the United Kingdom received the highest grade of all the states assessed, while North Korea remained at the bottom of the list with the lowest overall grades. North Korea’s recent nuclear test and its ballistic missile development require the next U.S. administration to pursue more robust engagement with Pyongyang to freeze its nuclear activities,” Philipp said.

“Our review of the record indicates that further action must be taken by all 11 states if they are to live up to their international disarmament and nonproliferation responsibilities. By tracking the progress, or lack thereof, of these states over time, we hope this report will serve as a tool to encourage policymakers to increase efforts to reduce the risk posed by nuclear weapons,” Davenport said.

A country-by-country summary can be viewed here.
The full report card can be downloaded here

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The Arms Control Association is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.

Posted: July 15, 2016

"Perceptions of WMD in the Media" — Presentation by Kelsey Davenport at the 2016 James Timbie Forum

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Kelsey Davenport, director of nonproliferation policy, at the 2016 Timbie Forum on engaging emerging professionals in the field

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Kelsey Davenport, Director of Nonproliferation Policy

Kelsey Davenport, Arm Control Association's director of nonproliferation policy, spoke on "Perceptions of WMD in the Media" and how to engage emerging young professionals in the field of arms control at the U.S. State Department's 2016 James Timbie Forum.

Video of her remarks is available via our Youtube channel, or below.

 

Posted: July 14, 2016

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