Who Are the Nuclear Scofflaws?
Lawrence S. Wittner / History News Network @myHNN
March 30, 2015
Given all the frothing by hawkish U.S. Senators about Iran’s possible development of nuclear weapons, one might think that Iran was violating the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
But it’s not. The NPT, signed by 190 nations and in effect since 1970, is a treaty in which the non-nuclear nations agreed to forgo developing nuclear weapons and the nuclear nations agreed to divest themselves of their nuclear weapons. It also granted nations the right to develop peaceful nuclear power. The current negotiations in which Iran is engaged with other nations are merely designed to guarantee that Iran, which signed the NPT, does not cross the line from developing nuclear power to developing nuclear weapons.
Nine nations, however, have flouted the NPT by either developing nuclear weapons since the treaty went into effect or failing to honor the commitment to disarm. These nine scofflaws and their nuclear arsenals are Russia (7,500 nuclear warheads), the United States (7,100 nuclear warheads), France (300 nuclear warheads), China (250 nuclear warheads), Britain (215 nuclear warheads), Pakistan (100-120 nuclear warheads), India (90-110 nuclear warheads), Israel (80 nuclear warheads), and North Korea (10 nuclear warheads).
Nor are the nuclear powers likely to be in compliance with the NPT any time soon. The Indian and Pakistani governments are engaged in a rapid nuclear weapons buildup, while the British government is contemplating the development of a new, more advanced nuclear weapons system. Although, in recent decades, the U.S. and Russian governments did reduce their nuclear arsenals substantially, that process has come to a halt in recent years, as relations have soured between the two nations. Indeed, both countries are currently engaged in a new, extremely dangerous nuclear arms race. The U.S. government has committed itself to spending $1 trillion to “modernize” its nuclear facilities and build new nuclear weapons. For its part, the Russian government is investing heavily in the upgrading of its nuclear warheads and the development of new delivery systems, such as nuclear missiles and nuclear submarines.
What can be done about this flouting of the NPT, some 45 years after it went into operation?
That will almost certainly be a major issue at an NPT Review Conference that will convene at the UN headquarters, in New York City, from April 27 to May 22. These review conferences, held every five years, attract high-level national officials from around the world to discuss the treaty’s implementation. For a very brief time, the review conferences even draw the attention of television and other news commentators before the mass communications media return to their preoccupation with scandals, arrests, and the lives of movie stars.
This spring’s NPT review conference might be particularly lively, given the heightening frustration of the non-nuclear powers at the failure of the nuclear powers to fulfill their NPT commitments. At recent disarmament conferences in Norway, Mexico and Austria, the representatives of a large number of non-nuclear nations, ignoring the opposition of the nuclear powers, focused on the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear war. One rising demand among restless non-nuclear nations and among nuclear disarmament groups is to develop a nuclear weapons ban treaty, whether or not the nuclear powers are willing to participate in negotiations.
To heighten the pressure for the abolition of nuclear weapons, nuclear disarmament groups are staging a Peace and Planet mobilization, in Manhattan, on the eve of the NPT review conference. Calling for a “Nuclear-Free, Peaceful, Just, and Sustainable World,” the mobilization involves an international conference (comprised of plenaries and workshops) on April 24 and 25, plus a culminating interfaith convocation, rally, march, and festival on April 26. Among the hundreds of endorsing organizations are many devoted to peace (Fellowship of Reconciliation, Pax Christi, Peace Action, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Veterans for Peace, and Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom), environmentalism (Earth Action, Friends of the Earth, and 350NYC), religion (Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Unitarian Universalist UN Office, United Church of Christ, and United Methodist General Board of Church & Society), workers’ rights (New Jersey Industrial Union Council, United Electrical Workers, and Working Families Party), and human welfare (American Friends Service Committee and National Association of Social Workers).
Of course, how much effect the proponents of a nuclear weapons-free world will have on the cynical officials of the nuclear powers remains to be seen. After as many as 45 years of stalling on their own nuclear disarmament, it is hard to imagine that they are finally ready to begin negotiating a treaty effectively banning nuclear weapons―or at least their nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, let us encourage Iran not to follow the bad example set by the nuclear powers. And let us ask the nuclear-armed nations, now telling Iran that it should forgo the possession of nuclear weapons, when they are going to start practicing what they preach.
Dr. Lawrence Wittner (http://lawrenceswittner.com) is Professor of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany. He is the author of “Confronting the Bomb: A Short History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement” (Stanford University Press).
To Go Nuclear or Not: Does the Non-Proliferation Treaty Really Matter?
One should not fall victim to a nonproliferation-centered perspective. This perspective is alarmist by tendency. It attributes highest value to the NPT regarding individual nonproliferation choices. But it puts the superior politico-strategic perspective into brackets, which has greater influence on individual proliferation choices than often assumed. In a stimulating essay, Elbridge Colby argued that the United States should favor geopolitical considerations over the goal of nonproliferation in its alliance policies. Alliances may be regarded as nonproliferation tools. But first of all, they should be seen as geopolitical tools that will not necessarily “prevent” proliferation. Additionally, new research on nuclear history has shown that the United States is far from having a consistent nonproliferation track record. Nonproliferation policy was not an end in itself, but rather one of many competing foreign-policy interests.
Our own research on West Germany and Australia during the Cold War confirms that the NPT had no effect on Bonn and Canberra’s decision whether or not to go nuclear. Additionally, our research shows that U.S. alliances should primarily be regarded as political instruments to maintain U.S. interests and the U.S. power position in geopolitical terms.
In the case of West Germany, the NPT had in fact no nonproliferation effect. Even if the Federal Republic of Germany’s (FRG) accession to the treaty (signing 1969, ratification 1975) cemented the non-nuclear status of the FRG, the NPT was not a necessary or sufficient tool to keep Germany non-nuclear. Given the persistence of the Cold War, the division of Germany, the FRG’s undisputed Westbindung and the national interest to achieve reunification, there was no “danger” that the FRG would go nuclear sooner or later without the NPT. Bonn had constantly pursued a limited nuclear revisionism since the late 1950s when West Germany had started to develop a peculiar form of nuclear policy that was oriented towards NATO and the U.S. nuclear umbrella. In Bonn, any assessment of costs (like a potential loss of protection in NATO and a military intervention at least by the Soviet Union) and gains let the policy option to strive for a national nuclear capability look totally unbearable. The German government even shared a basic thesis of nonproliferation policy: the spread of nuclear weapons would be destabilizing. The German government was in favor of nonproliferation policy. But it did not accept any means to deal with the prospect of proliferation. It rejected the NPT as a means of power politics to consolidate the relative “margin of power” of the nuclear beati possidentes. Originally, the German government rejected the NPT for a couple of other complex reasons, but not because of an interest in becoming an atomic power. According to Germany’s limited nuclear revisionism, Bonn envisaged to bolster the FRG’s position in NATO as a nuclear alliance and to expand Bonn’s influence in nuclear matters without becoming an atomic power. The overall function of German nuclear policy was deeply political. By pursuing a limited nuclear revisionism, West Germany intended to fortify her ties to the West. Thus, Bonn’s nuclear policy ultimately had a geopolitical function. Consequently and regarding West Germany during the Cold War, U.S. extended nuclear deterrence and NATO can be regarded as geopolitical tools and not as positive security assurances, which decisively incentivized Bonn not to seek the national control of nuclear weapons.
As a new book shows, in Australia’s case, the decision about whether or not to go nuclear was not determined by U.S. security guarantees, which were pitifully weak anyway. It was because by the early 1970s, the Asia-Pacific had become a much more stable region. That and the conclusion made by policy makers that Australia would not face any major nuclear or conventional threats without the United States being involved. Furthermore, Washington did little to dissuade Canberra from seeking the bomb. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara admitted himself it would be an entirely sensible option for Australia. Prime Minister Gough Whitlam signed the NPT in 1973, effectively classing Australia as a Non-Nuclear Weapon State (NNWS). It would be misleading to believe, however, that consequently policy makers did not consider nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence as integral to Australian security. A careful examination of the language contained in successive Defence White Papers since the 1970s shows quite the opposite to be true. For example, the 1994 Defence White Paper would state:
… the use of nuclear weapons remains possible… although it is hard to envisage the circumstances in which Australia could be threatened by nuclear weapons, we cannot rule out that possibility. We will continue to rely on the extended deterrence of the US nuclear capability to deter any nuclear threat or attack on Australia.
The decision to sign the NPT did not mean that Australia did not strongly believe in maintaining nuclear deterrence, but rather that policy makers were willing to “outsource” deterrence to Australia’s new primary security partner—the United States; strategically, it was a more cost-effective option. This decision, however, was premised on the fact that Asia had become a pretty stable region in which to live.
Our research about two non-nuclear U.S. allies, West Germany and Australia—which were located in two entirely different political and strategic environments, but both profited from U.S. extended nuclear deterrence—suggests that historical analysis of individual proliferation choices should above all appreciate paramount politico-strategic calculations by decision makers and administrative elites. In both cases, the NPT had no effect on individual proliferation choices. It was really strategic and geopolitical considerations that were integral to remaining non-nuclear and thus being able to accede to the NPT. Now the geopolitical order that underpinned the NPT is on shaky foundations, which should push us to think about the real value of the NPT in international security.
Christine Leah is a Chauncey Postdoctoral Fellow in Grand Strategy at Yale University. Andreas Lutsch is an Assistant Professor, Modern History, University of Wuerzburg, Germany. Both are members of the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project.
Australian uranium shipments planned for 2015 as India ramps up nuclear power
It follows their signing of a safeguards agreement in New Delhi in September, overturning a long-standing ban on uranium exports to the subcontinent.
In his address to federal parliament on Tuesday, Prime Minister Modi said he saw Australia as a major partner in his country’s quest to boost electricity production and address climate change.
“(We seek) energy that does not cause our glaciers to melt,” he said.
“Clean coal and gas, renewable energy and fuel for nuclear power.”
The pair discussed energy security and what Mr Abbott called Australia’s “readiness and willingness” to supply uranium to India for peaceful purposes.
“If all goes to plan, Australia will export uranium to India – under suitable safeguards ofcourse – because cleaner energy is one of the most important contributions that Australia can make to the wider world,” Mr Abbott said.
The agreement is now being examined by the parliamentary treaties committee, which will close submissions on November 28.
There are also talks between officials on administrative arrangements.
Both the treaties process and the administrative arrangements must be finalised before Australian uranium producers can start exports to India.
Minerals Council uranium spokesman Daniel Zavattiero said the industry expected to start shipments next year.
“The industry position is things are moving okay,” he said.
“We expect some point next year it will come into force and become operational, then we can start on shipments and sales.”
Initial sales are expected to start on a small scale, but the outlook is strong.
“It’s very positive for us,” Mr Zavattiero said.
Australia has the largest share of uranium resources in the world but currently exports only 8400 tonnes a year, valued at over $820 million.
‘THE WORLD IS BIGGER THAN 5’ AND THE NON-PROLIFERATION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS
- Erkut Ayvazoğlu
- Updated : 01.10.2014 00:41:44
- Published : 01.10.2014 00:16:25
The Federal Republic of Germany traditionally seeks to have ordinary relations with one of its most important allies, the Turkish Republic. While Germany continues especially good economic relations with the predominantly Muslim country and having several partnerships in other important fields, it seems that there are interesting developments and a kind of rivalry in the background – particularly in recent years. Of course, it is not known what the concrete issues are – at least for now. However, what we know is that under these conditions, instruments such as German media outlets have become more and more striking in the last couple of years with regard to their negative reports about Turkey and its politics. These are both extremely strange and interesting. In addition to the many controversial articles concerning Turkey that have come from German media outlets, in August 2014 for instance, the German weekly Der Spiegel also revealed that the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) has been spying on its NATO ally Turkey since 2009. Furthermore, another German daily, Die Welt, claimed recently that Turkey is seeking to acquire enriched uranium. The article published in Die Welt, which is known for its current bias toward the current Turkish government and president, claimed that Turks are working on building a nuclear weapon with instruction from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In addition, it was also reported without any reasonable proof that the technology to build this weapon was transferred to Turkey by Pakistan.
However, subsequently to the strange assertions in Die Welt both the Turkish Foreign Ministry and the Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız denied the claims. Turkey did not have the intention or technology, such as a nuclear research reactor or a uranium enrichment program, for nuclear weapons production, Yıldız said. The Foreign Ministry also made clear that Turkey attaches great importance to issues of arms control and disarmament. Moreover, it said that the country is a party to all relevant international treaties and conventions including, in particular, the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. It is also an active participant in international efforts in these areas.
After World War II, which resulted in the defeat of Nazi Germany, several concerns arose that those few states possessing nuclear weapons would destabilize international relations and a nuclear war could even be possible. Thus, since the 1960s the main objective has been to prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons, however, there were different opinions in order to achieve this goal. Today, everything could have been different if the Baruch Plan, based on the Acheson-Lilienthal report and submitted to the U.N. Atomic Energy Commission by the U.S., U.K. and Canada, which would have internationalized all nuclear activities from mining to final disposal, had been accepted in 1946 – when the U.S. was the only country that possessed nuclear arms (the Soviet Union did not trust the U.S. disarmament promise – perhaps rightly). Nevertheless, many years later and after other countries also developed their own nuclear weapons, a fundamental event took place: the adoption of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in 1970. The treaty distinguishes between official “nuclear weapon states” (NWS) such as the U.S., Soviet Union, China, France and the U.K. and “non-nuclear weapon states” (NNWS), that is to say, the rest of the world. The NPT distributes obligations but, above all it bans nuclear arms for every state except the NWS, i.e., those five states mentioned above.
Unfortunately, on the one hand, these NWS did not follow their disarmament pledges under the NPT and, on the other hand, NNWS countries developed their own nuclear arms such as North Korea, India, Pakistan and Israel – of course, “illegally.” The NPT issue gets more difficult from the perspective of international law if one examines the case of North Korea, which withdrew from the treaty in 2003, and the case of India, Pakistan and Israel that have never joined the NPT. Ultimately, all four countries possess nuclear weapons as well. So what? Did anyone speak about legality or is there any credibility? In 1995 the treaty was extended indefinitely and there are currently approximately 190 NPT-members, without India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea. Turkey joined the NPT in 1980.
At the beginning of the 1990s, certain European states reacted reluctantly against the announcement that the U.S. administration under President Bill Clinton wanted to advance a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) with the goal of banning all nuclear explosions in all environments for military or civilian purposes. Non-nuclear states welcomed this attitude while the U.K., a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council (UNSC), supported the idea that nuclear tests are necessary for the safety and reliability of British warheads. Later, this opinion changed surprisingly into the position that Britain›s weapons would be safe and reliable even without tests. In a similar way, France changed its former anti-CTBT attitude as well. Ultimately, the CTBT was adopted in September 1996 by the U.N. General Assembly but still it could not enter into force until today.
There are nuclear states such as the U.K. and France who “legally” possess nuclear weapons in accordance with international law. These countries were colonial powers and the U.K. was even a superpower, though, once upon a time. Moreover, there are countries such as Israel, North Korea, India and Pakistan – who acquired nuclear technology under the pretense that if India has the bomb, Pakistan has to possess it as well, which is quite understandable – which possess nuclear weapons as well.
After 2003, EU member states became a little more active in global matters and thus decided to reinforce the current non-proliferation treaties to intensify export controls and extend international cooperation with other states. In that context the EU made efforts within its EU-3 initiative with regard to the revealed Iranian nuclear program. Despite all the developments, the relations between the U.S. and EU improved after a certain period following the Iraq war. Consequently, the EU and U.S. were able to encourage a UNSC resolution that obliges the states to prosecute illegal activities concerning WMD-capable technology.
Despite the obvious and known hypocritical attitude toward certain countries by Western countries concerning nuclear weapons, of course, these steps for non-proliferation are encouraging developments that the global society welcomes. But today we also have to start questioning and challenging the state of mind of those countries that are the NWS, i.e., countries that legally possess nuclear WMDs according to the NPT. And surprisingly, those countries are the so-called five permanent members of the UNSC. As Dr. Cemil Ertem said a few days ago: “When we consider the fact that the five main victors of World War II (China, France, Russia, the U.K. and U.S.) became the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, it is not that difficult to see how and under what circumstances the U.N. was established.”
As one notices, the specific question of nuclear WMDs is not just a case that can be reduced to a German newspaper›s ideological slandering claims. First of all, there is a main fundamental global inequality that causes several other problematic circumstances in global politics. Thus, those needed steps might be started in accordance with some world leaders› recent call to initiate the UNSC reform. In this sense, a few world leaders demanded the UNSC reform during their addresses to the U.N. General Assembly over the past few days, calling for the addition of more permanent and non-permanent seats on the UNSC and the elimination of the veto. In this context, the slogan, “The world is bigger than five,” becomes, therefore, a key statement for the near future. The majority of people around the globe are echoing this call for immediate reform that should be seriously taken into account – otherwise, it might not be possible to solve several other problems that are directly or indirectly related to this issue.
* Political Scientist, Master of Arts, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg
A blatant violation of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
Simply because they can.
Amongst the various accords of arms control and disarmament, Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is widely adhered by most of the countries which gives a testament to the worth of this treaty. Unfortunately, it has a fate of being violated again and again by its own signatory members like very recently Australia signed a uranium deal with India, a de facto but a non-signatory state. Before that, US, a big proponent of NPT, paved way for this kind of illegal nuclear cooperation with non-NPT state India by signing a deal back in2005. The blatant violation of NPT left no room for India to sign this treaty because it enjoys full benefits as if it’s been a NPT member state without any restricted conditions.
Largely based on three pillars of non-proliferation, disarmament and peaceful uses of nuclear energy, NPT serves as a central bargain. “The NPT non-nuclear-weapon states agree never to acquire nuclear weapons and the NPT nuclear-weapon states in exchange agree to share the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology and to pursue nuclear disarmament aimed at the ultimate elimination of their nuclear arsenals.” There are 190 states which have joined the club of NPT. It is extended for indefinite period of time which reflects its obligatory status. In order to make Global Nuclear Non-Proliferation and particularly NPT more fruitful, many substantive initiatives have been taken. They are dominated by export controls regimes like Nuclear Suppliers Group and enhanced verification measures of IAEA Additional Protocols. The sole aim of all these efforts is to end every possible means to acquire nuclear weapons. Within this context, success becomes a far off cry as NPT is in a fix between global and national interests of respective states.
Australia signed a deal to sell uranium to India to cash in on the natural blessing of one third of world’s uranium reserves in the name of its national interest. It is the first non-NPT signatory nation with whom Australia has inked a nuclear deal. Australia is 10th country in the world which has signed a nuclear deal with India. Both the states are joining hands happily by violating the norms of NPT so blatantly. There is a sheer absence of handwringing editorials at the international news desks. Between the celebrations of this so called triumph, no one talks of the sanctity of international arms treaties.
Just recall a few years back, Australia continuously refused to export uranium to India only because of the reason that it was not an NPT signatory. But in 2011, Australian Prime Minister came up with the desire to allow exports to India. Australia upturned its long standing ban on exporting uranium to non-NPT India. A statement was made that ‘we should take a decision in the national interest, a decision about strengthening our strategic partnership with India in this Asian century.” Of course it came with the understanding that India will not use Australian uranium for its nuclear weapons. But what about the use of surplus left over uranium in India after imported uranium is consumed for civilian purposes? Quite vividly, Australia chose national interest over global to have an enhanced strategic partnership with Asian country India.
The deep silence of the world over NPT’s continued violation is not an unusual thing. The US agreed to violate the same NPT a few years ago by sharing nuclear technology with India in exchange for buying India’s vote against Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) platform. The US congressional opposition disappeared after that. It claimed that this deal would strictly revolve around the non-military nuclear usage but certainly lowered the pressure on resources to be used for non-civilian use in India.
The innate goal of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is to make it almost impossible for states to go for development of nuclear weapons. Leo Tolstoy has very aptly stated in his book War and Peace that ‘Writing laws is easy, but governing is difficult.’
Article 4 gives ‘inalienable rights to every non-nuclear weapon state’ to pursue nuclear energy for power generation. In this case, India is neither a member of NPT nor non-nuclear weapon state. These kinds of nuclear cooperation especially by NPT member states to a non-NPT state, like India, are instrumental towards nuclear proliferation and question the viability of a treaty. Despite setting a stage for adherence, the very members showed a path of violation. There exits not a single privilege in NPT which allows signatories to make such exemptions anyway.
This open violation is justified by declaring India as an exceptional case. Ironically, if that’s the case, why is Pakistan left far behind from these privileges? It became a de facto nuclear weapon state simultaneously with India and shares certain equal nuclear traits. It’s nothing more than a discriminatory approach towards Pakistan by the international community.
For India, NPT merely hatches a club of ‘nuclear haves and have-nots’. It was stated by Indian External Affairs Minister in 2007, ‘If India did not sign the NPT, it is not because of its lack of commitment for non-proliferation, but because we consider NPT as a flawed treaty and it did not recognise the need for universal, non-discriminatory verification and treatment.”
This is an irony for global non proliferation regime that there are voices for NPT to be adhered to, but at the same time its own members prefer national interests over the security of the whole globe. All are quiet on this violation of the treaty because it’s a matter of national interests of great powers. For this Lao Tzu, a Chinese philosopher, stated: “The more law and order are made prominent, the more thieves and robbers there will be.”