Submission from Paul Ingram, Executive
Director and Malcolm Savidge, British American Security Information
This submission reviews the strengths and weaknesses
of the present non-proliferation regime. It then looks critically
at various proposals seeking to enforce non-proliferation on the
non-nuclear weapons states [NNWS], while avoiding the nuclear
weapons states' [NWS] commitment to disarm.
In contrast, there is a growing international
consensus that only a major initiative by the NWS to fulfil their
disarmament obligations can make revival and vital improvements
to the non-proliferation regime possible. There is an urgent need
to make real progress before and at the Non-Proliferation Treaty
Review Conference in 2010 [NPT 2010]. There is close correlation
between proposals coming from the Nuclear Security Project which
might be favoured by the new US administration, and the thirteen
steps agreed at NPT 2000, which are widely supported by the NNWS.
Relations between the USA and Russia will be
crucial to success and there are other problematic issues to be
The British American Security Information Council
(BASIC) is an independent research organisation that analyses
government policies and promotes public awareness of defence,
disarmament, military strategy and nuclear policies in order to
foster informed debate. BASIC has offices in London and in Washington
and its governing Council includes former US ambassadors, academics
We look to a world free from the dangers posed
by nuclear weapons; we engage with policy makers and opinion shapers
in a constructive manner, and serve as a trusted source of information
for politicians, government officials and other decision-makers
to promote effective strategies toward nuclear non-proliferation
and disarmament. We facilitate opportunities for transatlantic
dialogue on multilateral nuclear disarmament to flourish and promote
active partnerships within the network of international NGOs in
order to develop practical alternative approaches and strategies
that can achieve progress towards multilateral nuclear disarmament.
1. The current situation
1.1. Our common security improved dramatically
with the end of the Cold War and its associated nuclear arms race.
International collaboration to tackle common security threats
strengthened around that period.
1.2. As the National Security Strategy says:
"While the global stockpile has reduced since the Cold War,
large arsenals remain" and, "Nuclear weapons remain
potentially the most destructive threat to global security".
This submission will focus on nuclear weapons.
1.3. The nuclear arms control regime, particularly
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), has been far
more successful than most experts predicted when it was first
Only 3-4 additional states have acquired nuclear weapons
and the Treaty otherwise has universal membership.
1.4. With the exception of North Korea,
today every state without a nuclear arsenal is locked into the
Treaty as a non-nuclear weapon state with legally enforceable
commitments, and those with civil nuclear power programmes have
a Comprehensive Safeguards arrangement with the International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
1.5. The experience in Iraq after 1991 demonstrated
that strong containment, inspections and destruction measures
could force an unwilling state to disarm. Pressure and diplomacy
have persuaded Libya to abandon its attempt to obtain nuclear
weapons. Other countries such as Brazil have abandoned past military
programmes while developing sophisticated civilian operations,
and several countries such as Ukraine and South Africa have voluntarily
renounced nuclear weapons which had already been developed and
1.6. Nuclear Weapon Free Zones have been
established in a number of regions since the signing of the NPT
in 1968, and if an African Treaty is successfully established,
there will be zones free of nuclear weapons throughout and beyond
the southern hemisphere.
1.7. There have been more disturbing developments:
9/11 highlighted the danger
that certain absolutist/apocalyptic terrorist groups could seek
to kill on a vast scale and might therefore resort to nuclear
The A Q Khan network revealed the
potential for a sophisticated international black market ready
to trade to states and non-state actors in nuclear materials,
components and knowledge.
1.8. Despite its successes, the NPT faces
The "dual use" nature of
the technology was underestimated by the drafters of the Treaty.
Exactly the same enrichment process used to manufacture low-enriched
uranium for civilian use can be used to further enrich the uranium
for military use. Plutonium is a by-product of reprocessing.
The growing number of "latent"
or "threshold" nuclear weapons states could yet make
the political decision to convert civil nuclear programmes to
There are insufficient security measures
to prevent theft or subversion of nuclear materials to terrorists
or "rogue states".
There remain three non-signatory
nuclear-armed states (NAS).
The problem of states cheating or
leaving the Treaty.
Discrimination between five recognised
Nuclear Weapon States and the Non-Nuclear Weapon States is not
The non-nuclear weapon states' (NNWS)
perception that the nuclear weapon states (NWS) have shown insufficient
progress on, and will to achieve, nuclear disarmament, particularly
in the failure to follow through on the commitments made in the
"13 steps", in the Final Document of the 2000 NPT
1.9. If the predicted expansion of nuclear
energy occurs without additional safeguards, more countries will
become threshold states. The UN Secretary General's High-level
Panel (2004) warned: "We are approaching a point at which
the erosion of the non-proliferation regime could become irreversible
and result in a cascade of proliferation."
1.10. Soon after this warning the 2005 NPT
Review Conference and the 2005 UN Summit failed to achieve
any agreement on this issue.
1.11. The Conference on Disarmament has
1.12. The US-Russian relationship has deteriorated
particularly over Georgia, yet is absolutely central to progress
on disarmament and non-proliferation.
1.13. The United Nations, which is integral
to non-proliferation, has been weakened by differences within
the Security Council, not least over the conflict in Iraq.
2. Some agendas for change
2.1. For Richard Perle, writing on the eve
of the invasion of Iraq, this was a desired side-effect of the
"What will die is the fantasy of the
UN as the foundation of a new world order. As we sift the debris,
it will be important to preserve, the better to understand, the
intellectual wreckage of the liberal conceit of safety through
international law administered by international institutions."
2.2. Killing the patient seems too drastic
a remedy for the current ills of the nuclear proliferation regime
even for other neo-conservatives such as the Center for Security
and the Heritage Foundation
in their recent submissions to the US Congressional Strategic
Posture Review Commission [SPRC].
2.3. CSP calls on the US to preserve "existing
nuclear weapons platforms and capabilities", modernise its
"outdated arsenal" and develop and test new nuclear
weapons. It claims that "over the last several decades, the
NPT has been distorted by the preoccupation of its stewards with
nuclear disarmament, rather than with preventing proliferation"
[their italics], claiming that the Treaty enshrines the inequality
of possession, and "places no restriction whatsoever on the
five NWS as regards designing, testing, producing and deploying
nuclear weapons". It calls on the US government to prevent
proliferation by enforcement action "unilaterally, or in
2.4. The Heritage Foundation submission
is more sophisticated, seeking to position its policy of "Damage
Limitation" as middle of the road. Where CSP concentrates
on expanding the variety of types and yields of US nuclear weapons
and of delivery systems, Heritage adds missile defence to the
inventory. It does not hint, as CSP appears to, at counter-proliferation
through war. However, both submissions call for strengthening
the US nuclear arsenal while, expecting the NPT to prevent proliferation
to other countries.
2.5. The flaw in their interpretation of
the NPT is that it ignores half the bargain, which was that in
return for the Non-Nuclear Weapons States [NNWS] not seeking proliferation,
the NWS would pursue nuclear disarmament in good faith. That was
stated originally in article VI, it was the basis on which the
NNWS agreed to indefinitely extend the NPT in 1995, and it was
reiterated at NPT 2000. It was reinforced by the advisory opinion
of the International Court of Justice.
2.6. Legalities aside, abandoning the disarmament
pledge would not be practical politics. If the Treaty permanently
enshrined inequality it could not survive; it would not command
enduring respect within the NNWS.
2.7. In recent research for the Carnegie
foreign ministries of sixteen key and diverse NNWS were interviewed;
there was a uniform demand for the NWS to fulfil their disarmament
2.8. As Mohamed ElBaradei said at the IAEA
annual meeting on 30 September 2008:
"How can I go with a straight face to
the non-nuclear weapons states and tell them nuclear weapons are
no good for you, while the weapon states continue to modernize
and to say 'we absolutely need nuclear weapons'?"
2.9. In relation to military enforcement
action to prevent proliferation "unilaterally, or in coalition",
when Richard Perle spoke in Parliament in November 2002,
he dismissed the possibility of UN inspection, together with pressure
and containment, ever succeeding in removing WMD from Iraq and
advocated pre-emptive war. We know now that Iraq had been forced
to destroy its WMDprobably by the mid-90sand that
war did not provide a simpler and better solution to proliferation
than "international law administered by international institutions".
2.10. The answer to weaknesses in the non-proliferation
regime is not to abandon it but to strengthen it. As previously
stated, to achieve this with the urgency required, the NWS will
have to move much more rapidly, not just towards nuclear disarmament,
but towards reducing the importanceor "salience"of
nuclear weapons in their defence strategies.
2.11. A challenge to moving in that direction
was issued by five former NATO commanders, including Field Marshal
Lord Inge, in January 2008. They advocate maintaining a full range
of options from diplomacy to nuclear attackincluding nuclear
first use and nuclear pre-emption in order to establish "escalation
"Nuclear escalation is the ultimate step
in responding asymmetrically, and at the same time the most powerful
way of inducing uncertainty in an opponent's mind.
"It is important, furthermore, to have
dominance over the opponent's ability to calculate his risks.
It is a very important element of strategy to keep things unpredictable
for the opponent, who must never be able to know, or calculate,
what action we will take."
2.12. However, although strategies of flexible
escalation, unpredictability and creating uncertainty for an opponent
may be clever tactics in the conventional war manuals, it is surely
questionable if they are wise in the nuclear age. In November
1983, there was a misunderstanding over the NATO exercise Able
Archer 83, which the USSR feared was being used as cover for a
pre-emptive nuclear attack. The United States and the Soviet Union
became sufficiently concerned about how close they might have
come to catastrophe that they then sought greater predictability,
mutual understanding and confidence-building in their relations.
2.13. There is the real possibility that
if a nuclear weapon is used in war, sophisticated theories of
flexible escalation would break down, and a total nuclear exchange
would rapidly ensue. If such policies of giving high salience
to nuclear weapons are combined with steady proliferation could
humanity really survive without disaster throughout the coming
2.14. In order to prevent proliferation
urgent action is required now, not just to preserve the present
regime but to strengthen itand the lead needs to come from
"Our chances of eliminating nuclear
weapons will be enhanced immeasurably if the Non-Nuclear Weapon
States can see forward planning, commitment and action toward
multilateral nuclear disarmament by Nuclear Weapon States. Without
this, we risk generating the perception that the Nuclear Weapon
States are failing to fulfil their disarmament obligations and
this will be used by some states as an excuse for their nuclear
3. Evolving mainstream opinion: vision and
3.1. Such an approach has been gaining strong
currency internationally across the political spectrum. It has
been led by the Nuclear Security Project (otherwise known as the
Hoover Group or Reykjavik 2), made up of distinguished former
US Secretaries of State and Defense, and diplomats.
This initiative calls for the nuclear weapons states to give new
impetus to nuclear non-proliferation by taking their nuclear disarmament
responsibilities seriously, working by short-term, medium-term
and long-term steps towards the declared vision of a nuclear weapons
3.2. This initiative is potentially significant
in various ways. It is American, and the world's only superpower
is essential to success. It is rooted in experience of the hard
realities of pragmatic politics and has a strong academic and
research base. It is bipartisan, and not only should these issues
transcend party politics, practically if they do not, accusations
of being "weak on defence" undermine progress. Its eminent
and experienced sponsors have attracted powerful support from
other experts, from across the political and defence"hawk"/"dove"spectrum.
Endorsement by both presidential candidates, Barack Obama
and John McCain,
gave early indication that this would have the support of the
next US administration.
3.3. The Nuclear Security Project (NSP)
questions whether deterrence can work in the event of proliferation
or against the threat of nuclear terrorism.
3.4. Doubts may be felt about the possibility
of a nuclear weapon free world, but:
we are already legally and morally
committed to such an objective in the NPT
a reaffirmation is needed because
of the crisis in confidence in the NPT
the current situation is not sustainable
efforts to move in the right direction
have a stabilising and positive impact
3.5. The question of whether there is a
realistic prospect of abolishing nuclear weapons was addressed
in a thought provoking seminar by Sir Michael Quinlan at the International
Institute of Strategic Studies, London, March 22, 2007,
which engendered a research study supported by the UK Government,
resulting in the Adelphi Paper: "Abolishing Nuclear
Weapons" by George Perkovich and James Acton.
This provides a valuable basis for further discussion of the technical
challenges to be overcome, and can be supplemented by some of
the research papers produced by the NSP Group.
3.6. The Group strongly believes that progressive
steps combined with vision, will create a process that deepens
cooperation and confidence that will in itself overcome some of
the obstacles to eliminating nuclear weapons that today look insurmountable.
"In some respects, the goal of a world
free of nuclear weapons is like the top of a very tall mountain.
From the vantage point of our troubled world today, we can't even
see the top of the mountain, and it is tempting and easy to say
we can't get there from here. But the risks from continuing to
go down the mountain or standing pat are too real to ignore. We
must chart a course to higher ground where the mountaintop becomes
3.7. The NSP approach has been enthusiastically
embraced by the British and other governments. The then-Foreign
Secretary, Margaret Beckett, warmly welcomed the initiative in
a speech at the Carnegie conference in Washington on 25 June
2007 and outlined the government's initial contributionscommissioning
studies into the verification of warhead dismantlement and of
the steps required to achieve zero nuclear weapons.
"The moderate majority of statesour
natural and vital allies on non-proliferationwant us to
do more. And if we do not, we risk helping Iran and North Korea
in their efforts to muddy the water, to turn the blame for their
own nuclear intransigence back onto us. They can undermine our
arguments for strong international action in support of the NPT
by painting us as doing too little too late to fulfil our own
3.8. A similar point had already been expressed
in a more forthright manner in 2004 by the Secretary General
of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei:
"We must abandon the unworkable notion
that it is morally reprehensible for some countries to pursue
weapons of mass destruction yet morally acceptable for others
to rely on them for securityand indeed to continue to refine
their capacities and postulate plans for their use."
3.9. The Government declares a clear and
welcome intention in the National Security Strategy:
"In the run up to the 2010 NPT review
conference, we will lead the international effort to accelerate
disarmament among possessor states, in pursuit of our objective
of a negotiated elimination of all nuclear weapons"
3.10. This agenda has significant cross
party support in both Houses.
4. The key steps
4.1. The 2010 NPT Review Conference
is possibly the most important foreseeable watershed for the wider
non-proliferation regime, so much so that the then Foreign Secretary,
Margaret Beckett identified it over a year ago at her Carnegie
speech on 25 June as key:
"By the time that is held, we need the
international community to be foursquare and united behind a global
non-proliferation regime. We can't afford for that conference
to be a fractured or fractious one: rather we need to strengthen
the NPT in all its aspects."
4.2. The UK Representative at the previous
2005 NPT Review Conference pointed out before the failure
to reach agreement on a final document: "the NPT is a treaty
for us all; it is a treaty from which there can be no turning
back, no evasion of our responsibilitiesall our responsibilities."
4.3. The UK needs to consider now what success
at the 2010 Review Conference would look like. An agreed
final document may indicate improvement on the 2005 experience,
but if it is achieved by avoiding the structural weaknesses in
the regime it will be a pyrrhic victory. Success in 2010 will
require determined action between then and now.
4.4. The most important early initiatives
will rest with the United States and Russia because of the size
of their arsenals and the need to conclude the follow-on to START
during negotiations in 2009. If they can move significantly beyond
the Moscow Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions [SORT] in
terms of total numbers (in the range of 1000-1700 warheads
each), timing, irreversibility, monitoring and verification, then
the other NWS should consider joining the negotiations. However,
there are additional unilateral measures that all of the NWS individually
and collectively should consider to assist in kick-starting the
4.5. All NWS should seriously consider deferral
of any major modernisation programmes. These programmes signal
grave doubts by NWS of the prospects of mutual nuclear disarmament,
and undermine willingness of NNWS to cooperate in shoring up other
critical aspects of the regime, which include more extensive controls
and safeguards of materials and technology.
4.6. There is substantial consensus on early
steps to be considered, as outlined in the table below:
|Commitment to complete nuclear disarmament
|Ratification of CTBT||X
|Fissile material cut-off
|Implement existing treaties||X
|Tighter verification linked to treaties
|Increase warning and decision-times to reduce the risks of accident
|Resolve problems over missile defence||X
|Reduce and eliminate tactical nuclear weapons
|Irreversibility of disarmament measures
|Early deep cuts in arsenals||X
|Establish NPT disarmament body||X
|Reduce role of nuclear weapons in posture
|No "first use" pledge||
|Excess material under IAEA||X
Table compiled by Jeff King, BASIC.
4.7. Particularly significant is the agreement between
the NSP agenda, which is likely to influence the new US Administration,
and the 13 steps adopted by all NPT members within the Final
Document at the 2000 NPT Review Conference, which are viewed
as particularly important by key NNWS.
It could be valuable for the NWS to frame proposals with reference
to the 13 steps.
4.8. The preamble to the NPT speaks of working towards
"the easing of international tension and the strengthening
of trust between states in order to facilitate
of nuclear weapons and their means
" As Sir Michael Quinlan has argued,
success with disarmament proposals depends on creating suitable
In parallel with arms control, then, improved international understanding,
regional conflict resolution and tension reduction are crucial
to minimising risks of nuclear war, dissuading proliferation and
moving towards nuclear disarmament, particularly in key trouble
4.9. Positive signals from the new Administration on
the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) will be welcomed by the
NNWS, though progress on final ratification will depend upon the
new Senate. US ratification could be followed by China, and other
states, but this will require a major and concerted diplomatic
offensive. The CTBT is important in formalising and significantly
strengthening the de facto moratorium on nuclear testing,
valuable in itself and as an important impedance to the development
of nuclear arsenals; a CTBT in force would also deepen the effectiveness
of the CTBTO's established global monitoring network.
4.10. Clear progress on disarmament measures by the NWS
will improve the prospects of the NNWS agreeing to greater safeguards
and controls in relation to civil nuclear energy. Achieving this
in 2010 is particularly important, in view of the predicted
expansion of nuclear energy. Successful negotiation is likely
to be easier before states have developed new capacities.
4.11. There have been a number of supplier proposals
to establish an international facility for the provision of uranium
fuel for reactors worldwide. Such a measure will be essential
if the spread of nuclear power generation, deemed essential by
many countries to address their energy security, does not lead
to the spread of dual-use technologies and a weakened non-proliferation
regime. There are three features of such a facility, currently
under-developed, that are essential if they are to receive the
support of recipient states:
Negotiations will require participation of recipients
and suppliers, right from the start. Otherwise, recipients will
see it simply as a tool for continued discrimination and the withholding
of technology essential to an independent energy industry.
Suppliers will need to agree with the principle
that this is a first step to a non-discriminatory uranium supply
system, which will require them to eventually acquire all their
own uranium from the same system. Just as the government talks
of the need to combine vision with the steps towards a nuclear
weapon free world, so the establishment of a supply system needs
to incorporate the vision of non-discrimination in the longer
It will require credible guarantees that supply
will not be unduly influenced by the principal suppliers. It is
no surprise the Iranian government is able to convince its people
that they cannot rely upon external suppliers, when such suppliers
have pulled the plug with Iran on a number of occasions in the
4.12. Greatly improved verification will be required
for military and civil facilities. Useful initiatives to develop
these have already come from Norway and Britain, but above all
there is an urgent need to expand and increase the resources of
the International Atomic Energy Authority [IAEA]. As William Hague
vividly expressed it:
"As routes to proliferation multiply and become more
difficult to detect, the task allotted to the IAEA grows. It is
extraordinary that 650 IAEA inspectors guard against illicit
nuclear activities in 900 nuclear facilities around the world.
By comparison, as was recently pointed out, Walt Disney World
employs more than 1,000 security personnel to protect its
5.1. HMG recognises that the NWS have a particular responsibility
to break the deadlock and achieve progress in advance of the 2010 Review
Conference, presenting a critical watershed for progress. It was
a significant step for the P5 states to have issued a joint
statement near the end of the 2008 Preparatory Committee,
opening up a precedent for further and more substantial statements
at later NPT meetings.
5.2. The former Defence Secretary, Des Browne, has proposed
P5 states get together for a technical conference to discuss
establishing the technology and procedures necessary to move forward
on the disarmament agenda. This proposal is evolving in discussions
between the states, but it is important to achieve some progress
on this soon.
5.3. Progress is also going to take some concerted, high-level
diplomatic discussion amongst the P5 dedicated to nuclear
disarmament to overcome the obstacles to progress and focus on
concrete steps. Relying upon brief discussions on the margins
of an already packed agenda at general P5 meetings will not
achieve the progress necessary.
6. NATO strategic posture and tactical nuclear weapons
6.1. NATO will hold its 60th Anniversary Summit in April
2009 and is expected to start a review of its Strategic Concept.
As part of this review, NATO will consider the role of nuclear
weapons in its doctrine, and the issue of nuclear sharing. This
presents an opportunity for NATO to consider the means of expressing
solidarity and "common commitment" to security in ways
that do not rely upon expensive and out-dated measures that harm
its own security.
6.2. Tactical nuclear weapons have no military utility
in current or future NATO operations, and present an opportunity
cost to more critical requirements, such as stabilising Afghanistan.
European host countries are soon to face procurement decisions
involving billions of dollars for the next generation of dual-capable
aircraft, at a time of increasing US demands for greater European
contributions to collective military operations, and poor economic
unity may be strengthened if states were released from costly
obligations that are in no-one's interests.
6.3. NATO's nuclear sharing arrangements in Europe today
are legacies from a past overwhelming Soviet conventional superiority
and the threat of a massive invasion that no longer exists and
shows no sign of returning. They simply serve to increase Russia's
sense of threat without contributing to NATO's own security. It
would be irrational to simply hold on to these weapons to punish
Russia's "intransigence". At the very least, the removal
of these weapons will take away a crucial self-justification for
Russia's own tactical arsenal, and improve the possibilities of
a follow-up to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).
6.4. NATO states could rid themselves of this extra resource
burden, reduce the risk of nuclear theft, and achieve a crucial
diplomatic non-proliferation goal by implicitly tying the removal
of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons to the expressed expectation
of clear reductions in Russia's tactical arsenal.
6.5. Perhaps most importantly, the removal of U.S. tactical
nuclear weapons from Europe would signal the sincerity of individual
NATO members' commitments to nuclear disarmament under Article
VI of the NPT. The withdrawal of the weapons would also reassure
NNWS that NATO members honour their international obligations
under NPT Articles I and II, and improve prospects for the 2010 NPT
Review Conference, and be a symbolic starting point for more bold
measures on the road toward a world free of nuclear weapons.
6.6. Eliminating short-range nuclear weapons from Europe
will require delicate consultation within NATO following the Ossetia
crisis, but could ultimately provide the basis for negotiating
an NWFZ across most of the continent.
6.7. A key reason for lack of movement is fear on the
part of European allies that a request to review the situation
would signal a weakening of their commitment to the Alliance and
its nuclear posture, and fear on the part of the Americans that
it would be seen as weakening of their commitment to Europe. Britain
has unquestioned commitment to both, and is in a strong position
to initiate a review of NATO's tactical nuclear weapons without
undesirable political signals being read into their position.
It could play the role of the bridge to which British spokespeople
so often allude.
6.8. NATO's summit in 2010 is likely to discuss
the review of the Strategic Concept, possibly including the role
of tactical nuclear weapons, and comes just a few weeks before
the NPT Review Conference. NATO could have an impact upon the
review conference conclusion.
7. Relations between US and Russia
7.1. The relationship with Russia is central to non-proliferation
and disarmament efforts for five reasons:
Along with the United States, Russia possess by
far the largest nuclear arsenals, and possibly the arsenal still
most vulnerable to theft or accident;
A new Cold War must be avoided;
Russia is a leading global supplier of nuclear
technology, and other energy sources;
Russia is a key permanent member of the UN Security
Council, charged with policing the non-proliferation regime, that
exercises an assertively independent perspective from the United
Russia is a member of both the P5+1 Negotiations
with Iran and the Six-Party Talks with North Korea.
7.2. The prospects for arms control negotiations with
Russia currently look bleak, following events surrounding the
territorial dispute in Georgia. The EU suspended talks on a strategic
pact with Russia on 2nd September,
and President Medvedev appeared to welcome this stance.
There even appears to be some discussion in Moscow of deploying
tactical nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad as a response to ballistic
missile defence facilities in Poland.
7.3. Russia has lost status, and many Russians feel they
have been humiliated in recent years. Although Russia retains
more warheads, technically the US has substantial nuclear superiority.
Even before the crisis of summer 2008 , some in Russia perceived
relations with NATO as a "zero-sum" game, with any gain
of influence (or of former satellites) by NATO a direct affront
to Russia's power.
Several factors in the last ten years have deepened suspicions,
Russian responses to rapid NATO enlargement eastward;
U.S. unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic
U.S. proposals to station radar and missile interceptors
in Poland and the Czech Republic;
NATO support for the break up of Serbia and the
independence of Kosovo;
Russian suspension of its participation in the
Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty; and
Russia was offended by the summary dismissal of
its proposals for closer partnership with NATO.
7.4. It is by no means clear in what future direction
relations with Russia will turn. The view amongst many western
analysts is that recent high oil and gas prices mask a continuing
decline in the capacity of the Russian economy, caused by severe
social and structural weaknesses. The global economic whirlwind
of recent weeks, with falling prices and emerging recession, has
exposed these weaknesses and led to drastic economic policy responses
7.5. Whilst Russia's behaviour in Georgia demands a response
from the international community, targeting agreements that are
clearly in our own interests is a grave error.
"This drift toward confrontation must be ended. However
appropriate as a temporary device for showing our concern, isolating
Russia is not a sustainable long-range policy
that the fundamental interests of the United States, Europe and
Russia are more aligned todayor can be made soeven
in the wake of the Georgian crisis, than at any point in recent
history. We must not waste that opportunity."Henry
Kissinger and George Shultz, Washington Post, 8 October 2008.
7.6. Arms control, weakened by a sceptical Administration
in Washington these last eight years, is all the more important
if relationships are strained. Russia is already upgrading its
nuclear arsenal to penetrate the yet-to-be-installed missile defence
system in eastern Europe, and decisions look likely to be made
to expand their tactical nuclear deployments in western Russia,
unless new diplomatic initiatives are opened up.
8. Missile Defence
8.1. The National Security Strategy statement "we
welcome US plans to place further missile defence assets in Europe
to provide cover for allies" [4.68], contrasts with the cautious
agnosticism with which the Government responded to the extremely
sceptical conclusions of the FAC Report on "Weapons of
Mass Destruction" in 2000. The Government's conversion
to enthusiastic advocacy of missile defence, which appeared to
start early in 2001, may have been driven less by serious strategic
analysis than by Downing Street's over-riding concern with getting
fundamentally close to the Bush administration.
8.2. The FAC Report in 2000 used the criteria, which
President Clinton had set, to assess missile defence: whether
the threat warrants deployment, technical feasibility, cost and
impact on strategic stability. They remain a rational basis for
8.3 The FAC Report cited evidence that the threat from
so-called "rogue states" had been exaggerated, driven
by ideological and commercial interests.
8.4. In retrospect, experience in Iraq provides clear
support for that view. The Iraq Survey Group [ISG], which was
appointed by President Bush, confirmed thatin contrast
to all the claims made before the invasion:
In relation to capacity, Iraq had abandoned all
its nuclear and other WMD programmes, destroyed all WMD, and had
only limited missile and delivery vehicle resources;
In relation to intention, though the ISG suggested
Saddam would have wished to resume WMD programmes in the future,
they based that wholly on regional rivalries in the Middle East,
not on any objective of attacking the USA or Europe.
8.3. It would be wise to be wary of "threat inflation"
(often by the same people and organisations) in relation to the
alleged dangers posed by other "rogue states".
8.4. One of these, Libya, has since negotiated an end
to its programmes.
8.5. Negotiations with Iran will be difficult, but the
unanimous judgement of the USA's sixteen intelligence agencies
in the latest National Intelligence Estimate [NIE]
is that Tehran halted its nuclear weapons programme in 2003, is
less determined to develop nuclear weapons than previously thought
and would be "guided by a cost benefit approach rather than
a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic and
8.6. The Six-Party Talks with North Korea will not be
easy either, but news of a positive response on 12 October
2008 to the US decision to remove North Korea from its terror
list is very encouraging. The nuclear explosion the DPRK achieved
does not mean they are near producing a deployable nuclear weapon,
any more than their failed attempts at testing longer-range missiles
mean that they are near to producing an ICBM. Both may be designed
primarily as bargaining chips for blackmailing countries into
giving them financial assistance and other concessions.
8.7. If negotiations fail, neither Iran nor North Korea
is likely to be able to develop the capacity to launch a nuclear
missile attack on the USA for several years. The only realistic
reason either would attempt to attain such a capacity would be
to deter a US attacknot to deliberately provoke devastating
US retaliation. Repressive regimes care about self-preservation
and can therefore be deterred.
8.8. The National Security Strategy maintains the view
the Government has consistently expressed for over a decade that
no state has or will have in the foreseeable future the capacity
and intention to launch such an attack on the UK.
8.9. The National Security Strategy does mention the
possibility of non-state actors being able to threaten with ballistic
the risk of nuclear terrorism cannot be discounted, the possibility
of such groups obtaining or developing a nuclear ICBM, constructing
a launch pad undetected and successfully firing the weapon, presumably
without prior testing, is remote. Why should they want to, when
a nuclear weapon smuggled in a van would have the advantages of
greater prospect of success, accuracy, surprise and concealing
its point of origin?
8.10. Despite lengthy and colossally expensive experimentation,
there is still tremendous scepticism about missile defence, because
of failures, artificial test conditions and the suspicion that
secrecy is being used to conceal the fallibility of the system.
It is still thought that counter-measures such as metallic decoy
balloons could easily overcome any late-phase system.
8.11. There is the possibility that a system that might
fail under real attack could have the double danger of creating
a false sense of security in the US about risking conflict, while
because strategists in, say, Russia or China would assume on "worst-case
analysis" that it might work, provoking responsive military
8.12. Missile defence has already cost over $100 billion.
It may be suggested that this is solely a concern for US tax-payers.
If, however, the UK is expected to buy into the system, it could
entail extravagant costs for unproven technology against a threat
which the Government does not believe exists or will exist in
the foreseeable future. The exorbitant cost also fuels the fears
of other major states that the system is not really directed against
8.13. The Bush administration's withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic
Missile Treaty also breached one of the Thirteen Steps agreed
at NPT 2000 and, together with a number of other decisions,
gave the impression that the sole remaining superpower had scant
regard for international law and treaties.
8.14. The National Security Strategy expresses the hope
that Russia could be included within the missile defence architecture,
but whatever the prospects of the US genuinely sharing the system
with Russia before, the chances of the two countries attaining
that level of trust in the aftermath of Ossetia seem poor.
8.15. Even if Russia and the USA could work jointly on
missile defence, there is the risk that that could seem threatening
to China. Primarily in response to missile defence, China has
started to increase and upgrade its relatively small nuclear arsenal.
In a disturbing development the US International Security Advisory
Board has suggested that the US should respond by developing new
weapons systems and pursuing "missile defense capabilities,
including taking full advantage of space". This is a worrying
return to arms racing.
8.16. There is a powerful Washington lobby for whom missile
defence is part of a plan for US military dominance. Shaping "a
new century favorable to American principles and interests"
is to be achieved by further military expansion so that US military
forces can "fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous
major theater wars;" "maintain nuclear strategic superiority"
and achieve full spectrum dominance of space including "global
to provide a secure basis for
U.S. power projection around the world".
8.17. In the modern world military and technical superiority
cannot bring lasting unilateral national security. Sustainable
safety can only be based on the common security of all nations
in an equitable, rules-based international order.
8.18. The colossal political and "military industrial
complex" vested interests in the missile defence programme
mean however that currently there is no realistic possibility
of its suspension. There might be a possibility of a moratorium
on the most sensitive construction in the Czech Republic and Poland.
There is no reason to rush ahead with deployment against a remote
threat which may never emerge, if it undermines the prospects
of early progress on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.
8.19. The UK Government should re-assess the strategic
implications of missile defence; how far the threats it is designed
to meet can be resolved by "diplomatic persuasion, arms control,
deterrence and other defensive measures",
which do not destabilise arms control and disarmament. It should
consider whether it should be encouraging the new US administration
to rush ahead with this project, or advising restraint.
9. Non-signatory nuclear armed states (NAS)
9.1. All the while there continue to be states outside
the NPT developing their own nuclear arsenals, there will be simmering
resentment towards their freedom to threaten regional security,
and a motivation within neighbouring states to respond.
9.2. This has been seen in very concrete terms when Arab
states initiated a process during the Review and Extension Conference
in 1995 aimed at bringing Israel into the regime and establishing
a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East. The resolution
passed on the Middle East, proposed by the United States, United
Kingdom and Russia, called upon Israel to disarm, join the NPT
and accept full scope safeguards. Its last point was particularly
"Calls upon all States party to the Treaty on the
Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and in particular the nuclear-weapons
States, to extend their cooperation and to exert their utmost
efforts with a view to ensuring the early establishment by regional
parties of a Middle East zone free of nuclear and all other weapons
of mass destruction and their delivery systems."
9.3. Few efforts have been made to encourage Israel to
join discussions on establishing a framework, leading some within
the region to speculate that this was all simply a ploy to achieve
indefinite extension of the NPT. As a direct result, Egypt played
a central role in blocking any further agreement on strengthening
non-proliferation measures at the 2005 Review Conference
until the issue was addressed. Egypt, with some support from like-minded
states, has said that it will resist any suggestions of a compulsory
or universal application of strengthened Additional Protocols
by the IAEA until the international community deals directly with
the issue of Israel's nuclear weapons. This all casts doubt over
the possibilities of a breakthrough at the Review Conference in
9.4. Although the ambiguity over Israel's nuclear status
may have reduced some of the regional pressures of proliferation,
it has also blocked any developments that might bring Israel closer
in to the non-proliferation regime. While this situation may appear
a prickly but necessary reality to some within the international
community, it is a source of extreme frustration within the region
and an indicator of hypocrisy behind the international regime.
Hasty declarations that expose Israel's position would be a mistake,
but serious attempts to open negotiations around a Middle East
free of weapons of mass destruction are urgent. Israel itself
has signed up to such suggestions, as recently as July 2008 at
President Sarkozy's Union for the Mediterranean summit. Britain
could raise this issue with the new US Administration within the
context of a revived Middle East peace process. Ignoring the problem
risks damage to the NPT.
9.5. The passage of India's Nuclear Suppliers Group waiver
in August and September 2008 was widely criticised for giving
India the benefits of NPT membership (access to nuclear technology)
without the responsibilities. While the US-India deal brings India
into closer involvement with the non-proliferation regime, some
believe it is tantamount to formally accepting their de facto
nuclear weapons status. It is urgent that states consider
strengthening incentives for non-nuclear weapon states to stay
within the regimeit will take more than just talk of an
international fuel bank or equivalent.
9.6. India is committed to negotiating in good faith
towards a fissile material treaty. Supplier states could also
collaborate to strengthen diplomatic requests for India to formalise
their de facto test moratorium and sign up to and ratify
the Comprehensive test Ban Treaty once the United States and China
9.7. Pakistan's nuclear programme has been a significant
source of global proliferation, and the state itself is unstable.
Whilst reassurances have been forthcoming, and apparently confirmed
by western intelligence sources, that the nuclear forces are insulated
from political instabilities, Pakistan's arsenal will remain a
9.8. Kofi Annan's proposal that there should be a special
UN conference on nuclear disarmament to directly involve the NAS
merits serious consideration.
9.9. There is a strain of thoughtparticularly
within the USthat some or all of the NAS should be treated
more favourably than other countries. Indeed some argue that other
US allies, which are regarded as stable democracies or "reliable",
could be designated as "responsible stewards", and could
be permitted or even encouraged to develop nuclear weapons.
9.10. Such concepts are dangerous. In considering national
foreign policy, sensible judgements may be made about other Governments
and there may be "favoured nations"though "reliable"
regimes can change for the worse. Stable international treaties,
however, cannot be based on distinctions which will often seem
to be arbitrary, capricious and discriminatory, influenced by
current national interest. International law must be equitable.
Furthermore, as a matter of practical politics, if "responsible
stewards" develop nuclear weapons, that will be seen as an
incentive for neighbours and potential adversaries to follow their
9.11. As the Government states in the National Security
"We oppose all proliferation, as undermining our objectives
of de-escalation and multilateral disarmament, and increasing
the risk of instability in the international system and ultimately
the risk of nuclear confrontation."
10.1. Iran has been focused on its domestic fuel cycle,
until 2003 in secret, causing suspicion internationally that
its principal purpose is to acquire a nuclear weapon capability.
In the last five years it has been forced to be more open in its
activities, and to accept intrusive safeguards operations by the
IAEA, but continues to improve its enrichment facilities (under
safeguards), and is said by several intelligence agencies to be
only a few years away from possessing a weapons capability. Such
a capability could cause neighbouring Arab states to develop their
10.2. It appears the current strategy of sticks and carrots
has not been persuasive with the Iranians. More extensive sanctions
or forceful strategies do not attract the full support of the
Security Council, and in any case could well be counter-productive.
10.3. If the new US administration engages more directly
in negotiations with Iran, it may improve the prospects of success.
10.4. In the long run, States need to agree to the early
establishment of some form of international fuel bank (such as
proposed by HMG) with guarantees of access credible to all customers.
In the short run, the international community needs to prevent
break-out by Iran. We may need to live with Iran's civil fuel
cycle under significantly strengthened safeguards and inspections,
ideally involving an international consortium [ref John Thomson]
to reduce the change of diversion of materials, technology or
10.5. From an Iranian perspective, the NWS cannot credibly
deny Iran a full civil nuclear programme if they embark on their
own nuclear renaissance and modernise their nuclear arsenals.
11.1. HMG influence on the new US Administration in 2009 could
be the most important contribution it can make to strengthening
the non-proliferation regime. It could use its position within
several international fora, such as the EU, the Commonwealth,
and the group of seven states (Norwegian initiative) to develop
the agenda linking nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
It could collaborate closely with its NATO partners and communicate
to Washington that the United States has the support of its allies
in pursuing this agenda.
11.2. The UK needs to consider now what success at the
2010 Review Conference would look like. An agreed final document
may indicate improvement to 2005, but if it is achieved by avoiding
the structural weaknesses in the regime it will be a pyrrhic victory.
11.3. HMG policy accepts the close connection between
non-proliferation and disarmament. With a change in administration
in Washington, today's government could pick up on its previous
diplomatic agenda that had so successfully influenced the outcome
of the 2000 NPT Review Conference. It needs to work with
other possessor states to devalue nuclear weapons in their doctrines
with a view to negotiating them away. This requires HMG and our
fellow NWS to adopt a plan involving key steps that have been
outlined by the Hoover Group, in several recent commissions, and
to which they are already committed in the 2000 Final Document.
11.4. HMG's proposals to establish a P5 technical
conference to discuss disarmament are evolving, and look likely
to expand to include political discussions. This is a positive
development, and adequate time and resource need to be devoted
to creating a forum to share concerns and solutions.
11.5. HMG could provide leadership within NATO at a critical
juncture to review its Strategic Concept, and remove the remaining
redundant tactical nuclear weapons from Europe. Britain is in
a unique position to do this, when its allies' room for manoeuvre
11.6. All NWS should seriously consider deferral of any
major modernisation programmes.
11.7. HMG needs to involve all relevant statessuppliers
and recipientsearly in the process when considering a fuel
bank and other proposals for the international supply of nuclear
fuel for reactors. This is a critical component of the non-proliferation
project, and is likely to demand important compromises on the
part of suppliers to reassure recipients and provide them with
sufficient comfort to forgo their own domestic options. HMG should
provide leadership in raising the budget and capacity of the IAEA,
as part of the agenda to roll out strengthened universal safeguards
11.8. While it would not be appropriate for HMG to block
the export of nuclear technologies in general, not least because
such a provision is at the heart of the NPT bargain, Britain should
be ready to provide, and on occasion subsidise, the transfer of
technologies associated with other energy sources to address energy
security concerns in a manner that does not unintentionally assist
proliferation of sensitive technologies.
11.9. The downturn in relations with Russia must not
be allowed to undermine progress on arms control and the transformation
of the longer-term strategic relationship. It has implications
for progress on arms control globally, and is increasingly important
for its own sake, as Russia modernises its arsenal and considers
redeployment of tactical nuclear weapons in the West.
11.10. The Select Committee may wish to re-assess missile
defence, with a view to informing Government opinion on the relative
advisability of encouraging rapid deployment in Europe, or of
urging caution on our US allies.
11.11. A successful NPT Review Conference will require
evidence that the international community is doing more to resolve
the issue of Israeli possession of nuclear weapons, the Middle
East peace process and the establishment of a WMD-free zone in
the Middle East.
11.12. Particular attention will need to be given to
ensure that India's waiver by the Nuclear Suppliers Group to receive
nuclear materials and technology, while still being outside the
NPT, does not lead to proliferation elsewhere. It would help if
HMG and its allies pressed India to sign up to the CTBT, particularly
if the United States and China ratify the treaty.
11.13. Consideration should be given to the proposition
of a special UN Conference on Nuclear Disarmament to involve the
Nuclear Armed States outside the NPT.
11.14. Treaties must be equitable, and all proliferation
must be resisted; there can be no special status for favoured
nations because they are "responsible stewards".
19 October 2008
Although the threat then may have seemed less complex, the consequences
of major conflict would have been absolutely catastrophic. As
the Cuban missile crisis showed, the risks were far too great.
The probability of war occurring through accident, misunderstanding
or design was too high to provide indefinite security. Back
Para 3.10 Back
In March 1963, President J F Kennedy expressed concern that by
the early 1970s there might be "15 or 20 or 25"
nations with nuclear weapons. While retrospectively in 2004, George
Bunn, one of the US negotiators of the original NPT, claimed that
without the Treaty "30-40 countries would now have nuclear
M. MccGwire, "The rise and fall of the NPT: an opportunity
for Britain", International Affairs 81, 1 (January
2005), pp 115f. Back
Nuclear Armed States is a term used by George Perkovich and James
Acton, Abolishing Nuclear Weapons, (Adelphi Papers, 48:
396, 2008), referring to all states with nuclear weapons. Back
Are New Nuclear Bargains Attainable?, Deepti Choubey, Carnegie
Report, October 2008, available online at: http://www.carnegieendowment.org/publications/index.cfm?fa=view&id=22229&prog=zgp&proj=znpp Back
"A more secure World", Report of the High-level
Panel to UN Secretary-General, p39, para 111. Back
Richard Perle, "Thank God for the Death of the UN",
Guardian, March 21, 2003. Back
CSP, Towards a New Deterrent, http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/modules/newsmanager/center%20publication%20pdfs/towards%20a%20new%20deterrent%20516.pdf. Back
The Heritage Foundation: Baker Spring, Congressional Commission
Should Recommend a "Damage Limitation" Strategy,
(Heritage Foundation, August 14, 2008). Back
Are New Nuclear Bargains Attainable?, Deepti Choubey, Carnegie
Report, October 2008, available online at: http://www.carnegieendowment.org/publications/index.cfm?fa=view&id=22229&prog=zgp&proj=znpp Back
He spoke to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Global Security
and Non-proliferation Back
General John Shalikashvili, General Klaus Naumann, Field Marshal
Peter, Lord Inge, General Henk van den Breemen, and Admiral Jacques
Lanxade, Towards a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World,
(Lunteren: Noaber Foundation, 2007) 96f. Back
Then Defence Secretary, speech to the Conference on Disarmament
on 5th February 2008. Back
Shultz, Perry, Kissinger and Nunn, A World Free of Nuclear
Weapons, (Wall Street Journal, January 14, 2007) and
other articles in Shultz, Drell and Goodby, passim. See
also www.nuclearsecurityproject.org/ Back
Barack Obama, A New Strategy for a New World, July 15,
2008, Washington D C. Back
John McCain, Speech, University of Denver, May 27, 2008. Back
Even Harold Brown, a former Secretary of Defense and critic of
the Nuclear Security Project, points out that deterrence relies
upon internal stability, rational decision-making, command and
control, and that today's relationships do not fit the criteria.
Harold Brown, New Nuclear Realities, Washington Quarterly
31, no.1 (Winter 2007-8), p.18 Back
The Abolition of Nuclear Weapons: Time for Serious Examination?
Published as Michael Quinlan, Abolishing Nuclear Armouries:
Policy or Pipedream? (Survival, 49 ,4; 2007), 7-15. Back
George Perkovich and James Acton, Abolishing Nuclear Weapons,
(Adelphi Papers, 48: 396, 2008). Back
Shultz, Drell and Goodby, 82. [WSJ, January 15, 2008]. Back
See above, para 3.5. George Perkovich and James Acton, Abolishing
Nuclear Weapons. Back
Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency, published
in International Herald Tribune, 13 February 2004 Back
National Security Strategy, para 4.19. Back
Letter in the Times: Douglas Hurd, Malcolm Rifkind, David Owen
and George Robertson, "Start worrying and learn to ditch
the bomb", 30 June 2008. Also, Early Day Motion 2053 "Nuclear
Security Project", 16 July 2008, originally sponsored
by Margaret Beckett and now by James Arbuthnot, with other co-sponsors
Menzies Cambell, Michael Ancram, Michael Howard, John Reid and
Adam Ingram. As of 16 October this had 29 Conservative,
121 Labour, 27 Liberal Democrat and 10 other signatories. Back
Ambassador John Freeman, 7th NPT Review, para 3. Back
NPT2000: Commitments made by all NPT member states in the Final
Document to the NPT Review Conference 2000, commonly known as
the 13 steps
Canberra: Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons;
Blix: The Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, June 2006: http://www.wmdcommission.org/
UNHLG: Report of the UN Secretary-General's High-level Panel on
Threats, Challenges and Change, Dec 2004
NSG: Nuclear Suppliers Group, January and October 2007, January
Refers to any proposal designed to cut off fissile material production,
or more specifically, the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT). Back
As mentioned above, both Senators Obama and McCain have endorsed
the approach. Back
Are New Nuclear Bargains Attainable?, Deepti Choubey, Carnegie
Report, October 2008 Back
Quinlan 10f. Back
For a useful discussion on this whole subject see Perkovich and
Acton, especially pp69ff. Back
William Hague, Meeting the Challenge of Nuclear Proliferation
in the 21st Century, Address at IISS, July 24, 2006. Back
NATO Alliance Strategic Concept, Press Release NAC-S(99)65, April
24, 1999, quoted in Diakov et al (2004), p. 37. Back
Olivier Meier, "News Analysis: An End to U.S. Tactical Nuclear
Weapons in Europe?" Arms Control Today, July/August
2006, available at: http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2006_07-08/NewsAnalysis,
accessed on 15 September 2008. Back
EU leaders act against Russia with freeze on strategic pact
talks, Ian Traynor in Brussels and Luke Harding in Moscow,
The Guardian, 2 September 2008 Back
Russia Shrugs Off EU "Punishment", Jessica Le
Masurier, Sky News reporter, 2 September 2008 Back
Russia Considers Siting Nuclear Arms in Kaliningrad, September
7th, 2008, online report at:
Gunnar Arbman, Charles Thornton, "Russia's Tactical Nuclear
Weapons, Part I: Background and Policy Issues," Swedish
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According to one leaked extract posted on Amazon, the US-based
bookselling website, Sir Christopher was told by Mr Blair's chief
of staff, Jonathan Powell: "We want you to get up the arse
of the White House and stay there." "Conflict over Meyer
Book Deal", The Guardian, 6 July 6 2006 "The
IoS Interview: Sir Christopher Meyer-No regrets. No apologies",
Independent on Sunday, 13 November 2005 Back
NIE, Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities, (Washington:
National Security Strategy, paras 3.11, 3.25; cf., FAC, WMD, 2000,
p xiv, 36 Back
National Security Strategy, para 3.12 Back
National Security Strategy, para 4.68 Back
Project for the New American Century, PNAC, Statement of Principles,
Thomas Donnelly, Principal Author, Rebuilding America's Defenses,
(Washington: PNAC, 2000) Back
FAC, WMD, , p xviii, para49. Back
The resolution is available online at: http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/legal/npt/1995dec.html£4 Back
National Security Strategy, para 3.10. Back