This note seeks to define the mission and scope
of a possible new British institution, which would draw together
the resources and experience of government organisations, academia
and non-governmental organisations with an interest in the role
that Britain might play in moving the international community
towards a nuclear-weapons-free future. The underlying idea is
that such a future is now on the international political agenda,
as a result of the ground-breaking letter of George Schultz, William
Perry, Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn in the Wall Street Journal
on 4 January 2007, the speech made by Margaret Beckett to
the Carnegie Institute on 25 June 2007, recent speeches made by
the Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary, and
the letter from Douglas Hurd, Malcolm Rifkind, David Owen and
George Robertson in The Times on 30 June 2008. There is
an urgent need to take these ideas forward, by promoting studies
of the concrete political, financial and technical steps which
need to be taken over the next few years if such a goal is to
be realised, and by creating a centre of excellence in which the
necessary expertise can be built up and sustained, and the necessary
international leadership can be promoted.
It is rather clear that to reach the eventual goal
of a nuclear-weapon-free world, the international community will
have to proceed in steps. There is an immediate and pressing need
to prevent the current situation from deteriorating further. This
requires the strengthening of the Non-Proliferation Treaty regime,
encouraging those countries that have not already signed the Treaty
and the Additional Protocol to do so, and ensuring that those
countries which have signed abide by its provisions. In parallel
with this, there is a need for those countries which have already
acquired nuclear weapons to start or continue arms reduction,
arms limitation and other confidence-building measures, both to
fulfil their obligations under the NPT and to move in the direction
of a nuclear-weapon-free world. In the longer term, there is a
need to create the international security framework within which
nations could abandon nuclear weapons altogether as an element
of their defence policy.
The approach proposed in this note is the creation
of a British institution (hereinafter referred to as BRINPARDI)
which would bring together all the expertise which exists in this
country in these matters, and which would contribute an element
of British leadership to the international efforts which are required.
It should be both British and International, in the same way that
SIPRI is both Swedish and Internationali.e. located in
the UK, and predominantly funded from British sourcesbut
open to both individual experts from around the world, and to
funding from outside the UK. It should be a predominantly non-classified
institution, but should be able to draw on the advice of experts
with security clearance as necessary. It should operate in such
a way that it earns the respect of the international community
as an objective, fair-minded organisation, not subject to undue
influence from any national, political or military faction, but
should be regarded by the British government as a reliable source
of information and advice on policy in this area.
Historically, the organisation within the British
government which has provided the key technical leadership in
this area has been AWE Aldermaston, and it is clear that in the
foreseeable future it will continue to have a very important part
to play. However there are various reasons why it should not be
the only player in this field:
(i) Its current mandate from MoD is to concentrate
strongly on its "core mission", which is to maintain
the existing UK nuclear deterrent, and to undertake the necessary
development work to permit the construction of a next generation
of UK nuclear weapons and deployment systems if the UK government
so decides. Its so-called "Threat Reduction" work, which
covers some of the work which would be undertaken in BRINPARDI,
is on a much smaller scale than its core mission work, has a lower
priority, and is subject to a number of constraints.
(ii) Arising from the demands of its "core
mission", it operates a rigid security policy which severely
limits access to buildings within the fence to individuals who
do not have full security clearance. Access would be particularly
difficult for non-UK nationals, especially from countries which
might be able to make an important contribution to BRINPARDI's
(iii) The majority of its staff, particularly
its senior staff who have the necessary experience to make a major
contribution in this field, are highly committed to its core mission,
and do not have a track record of making and publishing innovative
contributions in this field. Although AWE has a substantial, and
growing, programme of collaboration with British universities,
this is overwhelmingly on topics related to its core mission.
(iv) It does not possess, and would probably
not claim to possess, a very high level of expertise in the economic
and international political aspects of this programme, or in technical
aspects which have historically been funded by branches of the
UK government other than MoD.
For all these reasons, this proposal envisages
the creation of a Centre of Excellence in this area, which is
physically located outside the AWE fence, and is not subject to
the problems listed above. Nevertheless, its relationship with
AWE would be rather close, and it would aim to develop a pattern
of collaboration with AWE which is similar to the relationship
between the US JASON organisation and the US defense establishmentsi.e.
enjoying mutual confidence, sharing information to the extent
that national security permits, making use of AWE research facilities
where that can be arranged etc.
The range of activities which this Centre of
Excellence, referred to as BRINPARDI, would cover would include:
International political, economic and
technical data gathering related to the NPT. Development
of rationales for signing & adhering to the NPT.
Analysis of loopholes in the NPT regime,
and development of counter-measures.
Technical & political aspects of
monitoring for compliance with NPT.
Identification of countries, groups and
individuals with responsibility for non-compliance with NPT.
Development of database on trafficking
in nuclear materials and dual-use materials, and technology relating
to the detection of such trafficking.
Development of expertise on the potential
for the creation of radiological threats ("dirty bombs"
etc) and counter-measures.
Development and implementation of a nuclear
Development of "proliferation-resistant"
civil nuclear power and an acceptable international inspection
Arms Reduction, Arms Limitation and Confidence
Development of arms reduction, arms limitation
and confidence-building strategies, including test bans, regional
non-nuclear zones, cut-off treaties etc.
Development of rationales to persuade
individual countries to adopt such strategies (political, military
Monitoring/verification of compliance
with such agreements, including the dismantling of withdrawn weapons
in ways that avoid further proliferation, or unnecessary intrusion
into matters affecting national security or commercial practice.
Secure management of stockpiles of nuclear
materials in NW states.
Identification of political and military
disincentives to complete nuclear disarmament, especially in the
final stages, and finding means of countering those disincentives.
Creation of non-nuclear security regimes.
Identification of economic and social
implications of winding down nuclear weapons establishments, and/or
converting them to civilian missions.
Intensification of the compliance verification
regime as appropriate for the final stages in disarmament.
Nuclear weapon "breakout", both within
NPT-signatory countries and post-disarmament
Creation of an acceptable international
Development of technology to make such
a regime effective in detecting breakout at an early stage.
Development of an effective international
regime to deter breakout.
To be effective, BRINPARDI would need to have
a leader with the outstanding management and communication skills
required in a strongly interdisciplinary centre, who could command
the respect of all those who would contribute to its mission.
It should be located somewhere which is not too far from the key
contributory organisations. It would need to have a significant
permanent staff, and also the ability to attach staff from other
organisations for specific tasks. Above all, it would need to
have a significant budgetperhaps £10 million per annum
initiallyif it is to undertake work at a sufficient speed
to make a real impact on this urgent national/international task.
In view of the interest in the "disarmament laboratory"
concept which has been expressed by a number of senior UK government
figures, it seems not unreasonable to hope that it could provide
a significant fraction of the required funding.
Christopher Watson and
11 October 2008