Yes It Is Too Late For Missile Nonproliferation

Too late for missile nonproliferation?

It is a supreme irony that even if the spread of missile technology can be constrained, proliferation of missiles will likely remain unconstrained. Today, more than 30 countries possess missiles with ranges of 150 kilometers or greater. In 2016 alone, nations including China, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States have conducted a spate of missiles tests meant either to develop new missiles or improve existing ones. Most if not all of these tests have showcased missiles based primarily on indigenous technology—underlining the reality that technology denial alone will not prevent missile development.

A few factors help explain these proliferation trends. First, in the words of a UN panel of government experts, “there is still no universal norm, treaty, or agreement governing the development, testing, production, acquisition, possession, transfer, deployment, or use of missiles.” To be sure, concern over missiles is a matter of broad consensus, particularly for missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. But little agreement exists about how to address the WMD missile challenge. At best, the UN Security Council has produced country-specific resolutions regarding instances of missile proliferation that threaten international peace and security, for example where Iran and North Korea are concerned.

Second, a general diffusion of information and technology from the original suppliers means that almost any country that decides to acquire WMD-capable missiles will, regardless of its economic strength and technological capability, manage to do so—despite the best efforts of the international community. Sanctions, or constraints on technology transfers, might slow a missile program. But they are unlikely to stop it if the country is determined.

Third, even if the majority of proliferating countries must beg, borrow, or steal technology and materials in the initial stages of their WMD-capable missile programs, they will eventually establish indigenous capabilities—thus insulating themselves against sanction regimes that seek to block the export of weapon-related dual-use technology.

Two paths. Missile proliferation is difficult to address partly because proliferators, motivations and capabilities for proliferation, and missiles themselves are all quite diverse. Today’s missiles vary from man-portable, shoulder-fired, anti-armor missiles with ranges in the hundreds of meters—to missiles weighing some 100,000 kilograms at launch, capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads, and with ranges exceeding 10,000 kilometers. Almost all nations possess missiles, though their holdings vary considerably in quantitative and qualitative terms. In recent years, even terrorist groups and armed non-state actors have acquired and used man-portable missiles with ranges under 150 kilometers, allowing them to threaten targets such as civilian aircraft.

Against this backdrop, two general approaches to missile proliferation have emerged. The approaches are not mutually exclusive and indeed often overlap. The first is a series of political and diplomatic initiatives at the bilateral, regional, and global levels, including the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation, and three successive UN panels of government experts.

The INF Treaty, signed by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1987, successfully eliminated ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. But the treaty is now in danger of unraveling as Moscow threatens to withdraw from it, partly because of Washington’s withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The Missile Technology Control Regime has had its own limitations. The regime, established in 1987 primarily to curtail the spread of missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, has failed to garner universal appeal because of two key shortcomings. First, its scope was initially restricted to ballistic missiles (and, later, other unmanned delivery systems) capable of delivering WMD or carrying a 500-kilogram payload a distance of 300 kilometers. Conventionally armed cruise missiles were ignored. Second, the regime focuses on horizontal proliferation (the spread of missiles to newer states) rather than on vertical proliferation (qualitative and quantitative improvements in missiles by existing missile-possessing states).

Regime members, partly in response to the regime’s shortcomings, initiated the Hague Code of Conduct, which came into effect in 2002. Unlike the regime, the code does not seek to prevent states from acquiring or possessing WMD-capable ballistic missiles. It merely seeks to promote responsible behavior, through confidence-building and transparency measures, regarding ballistic missiles (though not cruise missiles). While 138 nations have signed on to the code, several key states that possess WMD-capable missiles have not done so—among them China, North Korea, Iran, Israel, and Pakistan.

The second primary approach to missile proliferation involves military and technological initiatives—such as the 2003 invasion of Iraq (intended in part to destroy Iraq’s nuclear and missile programs) and the development of missile defenses.

The Iraq invasion, of course, was meant not just to disarm Iraq but to dissuade other nations, particularly Iran and North Korea, from pursuing missile and nuclear capabilities. But Iran, far from abandoning its contentious programs, embarked on an effort to build missiles capable of delivering a one–metric ton warhead more than 2,000 kilometers away. North Korea, meanwhile, began a series of WMD-capable missile tests that has continued despite increasingly severe international sanctions. The unintended consequences of the 2003 Iraq War, still reverberating more than a decade later, make it highly unlikely that such an approach will be repeated in the near future.

Missile defense programs, meanwhile—which seek to develop the capacity to detect, intercept, and destroy ballistic missiles before they strike their targets—are maturing at a rapid pace and now threaten to undermine strategic stability among the United States, Russia, and China. The latter two countries have embarked on their own missile defense projects, even as they object to the US program. Additional nations, including India, Israel, Japan, and South Korea, will likely deploy or improve missile defense systems in the foreseeable future as a response to missile proliferation. While the effectiveness of these systems remains unproven in many cases, they are sometimes perceived as a partial panacea for the missile threat.

Political and diplomatic initiatives against missile proliferation have been somewhat limited in their effectiveness; the same can be said of military action and missile defense. Yet both approaches are likely to persist. Political and diplomatic initiatives remain crucial to building the norms and instruments that might constrain proliferation, and are also key to encouraging responsible behavior among states that already possess strategic missiles. And the chance remains that these initiatives might one day gain universal adherence.

Military action and missile defense will likely have limited appeal going forward—especially the latter, which is available only to nations that can develop missile defense capabilities on their own or gain protection from another country that possesses such capabilities. But even if missile defense represents a way to respond to missile proliferation, it isn’t likely to curb proliferation. To the contrary, all indications are that missile defense will produce yet more vertical missile proliferation—as nations try to defeat missile defense systems with overwhelming numbers of missiles or other countermeasures.

US Will Fail To Stop The Pakistani Horn

Dialogue with Pakistan focuses on non-proliferation, says US

Pakistani Nuclear Arsenal
— By IANS | Dec 12, 2014 04:06 pm

Washington: Non-proliferation is an important part of dialogue between the US and Pakistan, a top American official has told lawmakers.

“We are very focused in our dialogue with Pakistan on keeping them (nuclear weapons) away from any kind of proliferation,” Jarret Blanc, deputy special representative of State for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told lawmakers in a Congressional briefing here.

“However, as of now, there seems to be no indication of proliferation of nuclear weapons from Pakistan,” Blanc said when Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen inquired about reports of nuclear co-operation between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

“We would look very negatively on any indication of proliferation of any kind, including that. Certainly, a large part of our national security dialogue with Pakistan is focused on non-proliferation issues,” Blanc said.

However, lawmaker Ros-Lehtinen, had reservations about Pakistan’s commitment to non-proliferation and during the Congressional hearing, she drew attention to the former CIA Director Michael Hayden, who has posed the scenario of “a Pakistani nuclear guarantee for the kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the face of an Iranian nuclear weapons programme”.

Posing a series of questions to the US official, Ros-Lehtinen asked, “Do you think that Pakistan would sell Saudi Arabia a nuclear weapon? What can you tell us about their nuclear cooperation? What would other players in the region acquire the technology for? We have heard reports that other countries in the region might be interested as well?”

Blanc replied that the US is not seeing proliferation concerns of that nature.

“Within the limits of what we can discuss here, I would just say non-proliferation is an important part of our dialogue with Pakistan,” he said.

Ros-Lehtinen and other lawmakers had yesterday also expressed concern over Pakistan’s growing nuclear stockpile.

“Pakistan’s nuclear weapons stockpile is reportedly growing faster than any other in the world and is notoriously insecure,” Ros-Lehtinen has said, while chairing a Congressional hearing on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Obama Inaction Will Lead To More Nukes

Obama inaction on Ukraine could impede nuclear disarmament

Obama's Foreign Policy

Obama’s Foreign Policy

The muted American response to Russia’s invasions of Ukraine could have consequences far beyond Eastern Europe, according to security analysts who fear the crisis may discourage countries in the future from swearing off nuclear weapons like Kiev did in a 1994 treaty.

Three years after the Soviet Union’s breakup, newly independent Ukraine was compelled by the three nuclear superpowers to enter into the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, a treaty that guaranteed its signatories would respect the “territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine” and “seek immediate U.N. Security Council action” if the country should face an “act of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used.”

Although the agreement only requires the signatories take immediate action if Ukraine is threatened with nuclear weapons, foreign policy and Russian experts say U.S. inaction risks signaling to countries like Iran, Pakistan and North Korea that their sovereignty could be at risk without a nuclear arsenal.

“Arms reduction should be a policy in consideration for all nations that have them. But I don’t think that’s the reason that Ukraine is experiencing the problems it is having,” said Brad Blakeman, a former adviser to President George W. Bush and former president of the national security group Freedom’s Watch. “The reason is a weak America and a Cold War relationship with Putin where there is neither respect nor fear of the United States.

“The U.S. has no credibility. Why would anyone enter into an agreement with us now?” he asked.

Stephen Blank, a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council who specializes in Russian affairs and international security, agreed.

“To countries like Iran and North Korea, this is one more example that giving up their nuclear weapons makes no sense, because no guarantee will stand,” he said.

Prior to the 1994 accord, Ukraine harbored the third-largest nuclear arsenal in the world. In April Ukrainian parliament member Pavlo Rizanenko told USA Today that many of his colleagues were already discussing the possibility of rearmament.

“We gave up nuclear weapons because of this agreement,” he said. “Now there’s a strong sentiment in Ukraine that we made a big mistake.”

Then-acting Ukraine President Oleksandr Turchynov also wrote an op-ed for The New York Times warning that the apparent consequences of Ukraine’s disarmament “may lead to nuclear proliferation around the world.”

Ariel Cohen, director of the Center for Energy Natural Resources and Geopolitics at the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, said the situation “looks like a disaster for Ukraine, but more importantly, it looks like a disaster for the cause of nonproliferation.

“This is because the three principal nuclear powers guaranteed Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty in exchange for its abandoning its nuclear weapons, and now the Russians are paying a relatively low price for violating the Budapest protocol.”

Mr. Cohen, who spoke to The Washington Times via telephone from Kiev, added, “This sends a strong signal to proliferators such as North Korea, Pakistan, Iran and others that any kind of security guarantees from the existing nuclear club are not worth the paper they are written on. Events in Ukraine have turned a nonproliferation regime on its head.”

The Budapest Memorandum also promised that its signatories would not place undue economic pressure on Ukraine so that it would not be compelled to surrender its power in exchange for financial aid; the current Moscow-Kiev conflict erupted in March after the Ukrainian Parliament ousted former President Viktor Yanukovych for accepting a $15 billion bailout from the Kremlin.

When the crisis began, the State Department issued a press release in March noting that President Obama had called then-acting Ukraine President Oleksandr Turchynov “to assure him of the strong support of the United States,” and also called Mr. Putin to tell him that Moscow was violating the 1994 treaty.

Nearly three weeks later, Russia annexed Crimea, and the Kremlin has also struck back with a public relations campaign aimed at the White House. New Russian military incursions into eastern Ukraine were also reported over the last week, raising talk that Moscow might try to create a Russian state in the region.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has accused the U.S. and EU of “active connivance” in what it referred to as “the coup d’etat in Kiev, acting against the political independence and sovereignty of Ukraine in violation of their obligations under the Budapest Memorandum.”

Last Monday at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak defended the Kremlin to a small group of political science students arguing that the conflict is between Ukraine and its own people, not Russia and Ukraine.

“The biggest problem in Ukraine is that the government in Kiev, instead of talking to their own people, started bombing. And by bombing, they create more and more opposition to Kiev,” he said.

David Satter, a renowned Russian scholar who lived in the USSR from 1976-1982 and was expelled from Moscow last year by Mr. Putin’s government, says the Kremlin is resorting to Soviet-style propaganda.

“What they’re saying [is] not convincing to a world audience,” Mr. Satter said. “It’s not convincing people who have access to objective information, but it is convincing to a population that is relying for its information on state-controlled television, which is in the grip of chauvinistic euphoria right now. They can say anything they want to that kind of audience. The more threatened Putin feels he is, the more he will be tempted to resort to war to distract the Russian public from the truth. People who are swept in the war hysteria may believe a lot of it.”

What Nobel Peace Prize? The Real “Change” (1 Corinthians 15:52)

Is Obama Changing His Mind about Nuclear Weapons

What Nobel Peace Prize?

What Nobel Peace Prize?

Since the start of his presidency, Barack Obama has been clear that one of his major goals was to secure nuclear weapons and materials. As recently as March, at the Nuclear Security Summit in Holland, the president declared: “It is important for us not to relax but rather accelerate our efforts over the next two years.”

Instead, to little notice, the administration has decided to spend money at an even greater rate than before to refurbish and modernize nuclear weapons while slashing the amount it is spending to prevent terrorists from getting or making their own.

According to a new analysis of nuclear security spending by a bipartisan group at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, the administration in its 2015 budget chose to cut nuclear nonproliferation programs in the Energy Department by $399 million while increasing spending on nuclear weapons by $534 million.

In addition, despite missing a self-imposed deadline of April 2013 for ensuring that nuclear materials were safe from terrorists across the globe, the White House at about the same time rejected a confidential Energy Department-sponsored plan to accelerate those efforts by 2016, the year Obama is slated to convene a fourth international summit on the issue.

The proposal, which appears in a May 2013 report obtained recently by the Center for Public Integrity, was intended to address the huge amount of unfinished work in the Obama administration’s nonproliferation plan. It said that more than two tons of portable, easily weaponized uranium were still being held in scores of nuclear research reactors while the world’s supply of another nuclear explosive, plutonium, was growing at a rate of about 740 bombs’ worth a year.

Despite progress, the Energy Department found, there remained enough nuclear explosive material in the hands of civilians to cobble together 40,000 atomic bombs.

The 12-page report in 2013 called for an acceleration of efforts to lock down or eliminate more of these dangerous materials — as well as radioactive isotopes that could be used in bombs that could contaminate large urban areas. But after an interagency struggle that climaxed at a Cabinet-level meeting in January, the White House produced a 2015 budget proposal that slighted many of the report’s key recommendations and reduced spending on nonproliferation programs.

It did so with the approval of Sylvia Burwell, director of the Office of Management and Budget, officials and experts say, after officials decided to prioritize spending on the refurbishment and modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Matthew Bunn, a former White House official and one of the authors of the Kennedy School of Government analysis, described the internal administration discussions this way: “Should they provide more money for nonproliferation, or more money for weapons? It’s clear that weapons won that debate.”

Laura Holgate, the White House senior director for weapons-of-mass-destruction terrorism, did not dispute the budget analysis, but she said the administration’s commitment to nuclear security “remains strong and unparalleled” and the reductions in nonproliferation spending reflected the achievement of many of President Obama’s goals.

“The president’s nonproliferation and nuclear security priorities were protected,” she wrote in an email. “The decreased budget reflects natural and predictable declines based on project completion.”

The report describing urgent unfinished business in nuclear security was prepared by the staff of the Global Threat Reduction Initiative, part of the National Nuclear Security Administration, a semi-independent arm of the Energy Department. The NNSA also oversees the production of nuclear warheads, so internal budget skirmishes between those who favor nonproliferation and those who seek more spending on the nuclear arsenal are frequent.

For the current year, fiscal 2014, Congress authorized $1.95 billion in spending by the NNSA on nonproliferation programs. The White House budget for 2015 proposes $1.56 billion — a 20 percent reduction.

In fiscal 2010, NNSA spending on nuclear weapons was about three times as high as for nonproliferation. Under the proposed White House budget, weapons spending would outstrip nonproliferation spending by over five-to-one—$8.3 billion to $1.56 billion.

The NNSA report found that because of the administration’s four-year effort, “the world today is unquestionably more secure from the threat of nuclear terrorism than it was four years ago.” But, the report added, there are “still serious threats that require urgent attention.”

“Experts continue to believe that terrorists are seeking a nuclear or radiological weapon — either by making one or stealing one,” the NNSA report says. “A handful of highly enriched uranium (HEU) or plutonium the size of a grapefruit is all that is needed to make a nuclear bomb with the potential to kill hundreds of thousands of people. A small capsule of cesium the size of a pencil is enough for a radiological ‘dirty bomb’ that could contaminate an entire city and result in billions of dollars in economic devastation.”

To blunt these threats, the NNSA report — marked “For Official Use Only” — sought to set the following ambitious new goals, to be achieved by December 2016:

– It called for removing or eliminating 1.1 metric tons of weapons-grade uranium and 400 kilograms — over 880 pounds — of plutonium from sites around the world.
– It urged the removal of all highly enriched uranium — that is, uranium that could be fashioned into a bomb — in eight more foreign countries by the same date.
– It proposed that the administration make a better accounting of existing plutonium stocks, decide on ways to dispose of it, and persuade other countries to balance production with consumption so that the net global stockpile will finally begin to shrink. This would be a major accomplishment, since the world’s total accumulation has instead been rising steadily, by 100 metric tons since 1998.
– It proposed accelerating U.S. efforts to convert research reactors that use weapons-grade uranium to burn a form of uranium that cannot easily be used to fuel weapons — calling for 13 more such reactor conversions by the end of 2016.

None of these proposals was adopted.

“Despite President Obama’s well-deserved reputation as an advocate for nuclear security, the Obama administration has been cutting nuclear security programs year after year for most of its term in office,” wrote Bunn, a Harvard professor; William Tobey, deputy administrator for the NNSA’s Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation office during the Bush administration; and Nickolas Roth, a Harvard researcher, in their 32-page analysis.

In addition, the Harvard analysis anticipates reduced spending on nonproliferation programs in the State and Defense departments, based on congressional reports and briefing notes, discussions with agency officials and internal documents, including a copy the NNSA report — which the Center for Public Integrity obtained separately.

The Idiocy of the Nations

Nuclear Testing and the South Asia Arms Race

1998 India Nuclear Test

1998 India Nuclear Test

The Treaty’s relevance and significance was underscored first in 1998 with nuclear tests carried out first by India and then Pakistan, and then again more recently when the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) conducted its own tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013.

Nearly two decades have elapsed since the treaty was opened for signature and yet its entry into force has not been achieved, the consequence of political and geo-strategic obstacles.

In South Asia a nuclear arms race continues, led by India and followed by Pakistan. India has acquired a ballistic missile defense system, invested heavily in satellites, launched a nuclear submarine (the INS Arihant), unveiled ambitious limited war fighting strategies – for instance, its Cold Start military doctrine – and moved away from a concept of deterrence to compellence. Pakistan has responded with, for instance, the fielding of Nasr (a low-yield nuclear weapon), supplemented by full spectrum deterrence. These moves have the potential to erode the prevailing deterrence stability of South Asia, and cause the region to drift toward conflict.

The steady enlargement of nuclear stockpiles and sweeping modifications in conventional as well as nuclear doctrines of these two regional nuclear-armed rivals, combined with a massive influx of foreign technology to India, first under the banner of the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (NSSP) in 2005 and later the Defense Trade and Technology Initiative (DTI) in 2012, have pushed South Asia toward perpetual instability.

According to the U.S. 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review, “the United States supports India’s rise as an increasingly capable actor in the region.” The role of extra-regional players is not only “adding fuel to fire” and exacerbating the already fraught regional security environment in South Asia, it is also pushing India to counter China’s influence in Asia, at the risk of regional as well international strategic stability.

Changes on its eastern border and a bloody insurgency against the U.S. in Afghanistan have had a deep impact on Pakistan’s security calculus. These developments undermine Pakistan’s deterrence equation vis-à-vis India, as it begins to feel marginalized.

The rapidly changing strategic landscape of South Asia brings to mind the words of George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” For India and Pakistan, the history of the Cold War could be a guide. The U.S. and Soviet Union accumulated a vast stockpile of nuclear weapons in the 27 years after the first nuclear explosion conducted by the U.S. in 1945, yet later they were still able to sign the SALT-1 accord in 1972.

However, looking at India and Pakistan’s rationale for nuclear deterrence and the rapid developments in their conventional and non-conventional weaponry, combined with the transformation of their security doctrines toward an increasing reliance on the “power” of nuclear deterrence, it appears that neither country has learned any lesson from the excesses of the Cold War.

It seems that neither India nor Pakistan have reached their desired maximum number of nuclear weapons, the point at which they might feel there is no need to produce more nuclear weapons or delivery systems.

According to a SIPRI report and IHS Jane’s, “India is expanding a covert uranium enrichment plant that could potentially support the development of thermonuclear weapons.”

According to analysts, this could potentially be used to make a thermonuclear bomb – something that India has been trying to develop for quite some time, in order to match China, which already has a thermonuclear capability.

The latest revelations regarding India’s nuclear program have validated and reinforced Pakistan’s apprehensions about its neighbor’s strategic buildup. The reports have the potential to further destabilize the complex regional security alignment. Given that Pakistan does not yet possess thermonuclear weapons, a deadly new arms race in South Asia could ensue, something that Islamabad likely wants to avoid.

Both countries will continue to produce fissile material for new weapons and their delivery systems. If the time comes, they will proceed with nuclear testing to validate their acquired capability and ultimately enhance their international standing, at the expense of established international norms against nuclear weapons tests.

In this context, the CTBT remains an essential component of the global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. Moreover, CTBT constrains the development and qualitative improvement of nuclear weapons and ends the development of advanced nuclear weapons.

At present, 183 states are signatories to the treaty, and 162 states have ratified it. The vast majority of the world’s nations have spoken: no more nuclear testing.

What lies behind this political determination is a vision to bring an end to the age of nuclear weapons, a strong desire to establish an international norm against nuclear testing, and a firm political will to advance the treaty’s entry into force as soon as possible.

Thus far in South Asia, Pakistan and India have not found it possible to sign and ratify the CTBT, a reflection of regional security exigencies. The continued hostility between India and Pakistan, rooted in territorial disputes, has also increased the imbalance and tension between them. Thus, as long as India remains outside the CTBT, Pakistan will continue to keep its options open.

For its part, Pakistan signaled its intention to sign and ratify the treaty in parallel with its regional adversary, India. Moreover, Islamabad “will not be the first to resume nuclear testing.”

It would be prudent for India “as a father state of the CTBT” to take the lead role in signing it. That would enhance its nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament credentials, despite the fact that it received the Nuclear Supplier Group waiver without signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

India’s move to sign the CTBT will strengthen its bid for membership in the NSG. It will also not only put pressure on Pakistan to follow suit, but also put tremendous global pressure on China and the U.S. to ratify the CTBT and pave the way for its entry into force.

With the recent election in India and a new government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, there is a window of opportunity for a bilateral dialogue on regional security and arms control issues. A recent meeting between Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Modi demonstrated that there is ample space for both countries to build trust and transparency, and move forward on key issues that include the strengthening of existing nuclear confidence building measures (CMBs), and addressing the issues of a dangerous nuclear arm race.

It is imperative for the two neighbors to begin discussing nuclear and regional security issues within a parallel setting. The 1998 Lahore declaration could be a starting point.

Khamenei’s Fatwa Show The Way To The End

Khameneis’ Nuclear Fatwa Shows the Way Forward

The New Iranian Fatwa

The New Iranian Fatwa

Since reaching an interim nuclear deal last November, Iran and the world powers have been attempting to finalize a comprehensive nuclear deal by late July.

The Iranian stance on the prohibition of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction was clearly expressed through a fatwa issued by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Addressing more than 120 heads of state and officials at the 16th Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran on August 30, 2012, he stated: “The Islamic Republic—logically, religiously and theoretically—considers the possession of nuclear weapons a grave sin and believes the proliferation of such weapons is senseless, destructive and dangerous.” Ayatollah Khamenei added that Iran “proposed the idea of a Middle East free of nuclear weapons, and we are committed to it.”

Iran has already declared its willingness to secularize that fatwa. Such a move would facilitate and expedite a final nuclear deal between Iran and the world powers. However, the fatwa, with its strong roots in Islamic belief, could also play a constructive role far beyond resolving the Iranian nuclear crisis.

As a first step, there could be concerted efforts to have prominent Islamic leaders from both the Sunni and Shi’a sects speak in unison on the issue of banning weapons of mass destruction. Iran could facilitate the process by inviting thinkers and community leaders from across the world to convene, discuss and collectively endorse a ban on all WMDs.

As a next step, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation could approve and submit the decree to the UN General Assembly. Such a move would create a historic opportunity for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to propose the creation of a forum where religious leaders from all Abrahamic faiths could endorse the ban on the production, stockpiling and use of WMDs. The endorsement from religious leaders representing billions of the faithful would go a long way towards creating harmony and unity among the leading world faiths and accelerate efforts to end WMD proliferation.

Following the endorsement of the ban of all WMDs by the world’s religious leaders, the UN General Assembly could pass a resolution on non-proliferation. Once the General Assembly passes that resolution, it could be further strengthened by convening a committee of experts at the International Atomic Energy Agency—the UN nuclear watchdog—to address loopholes and shortcomings in current WMD treaties.

More than four decades of WMD conventions and a decade of nuclear negotiations between Iran and world powers have brought the limitations of non-proliferation treaties into view. Further measures to internationalize the fatwa against WMDs and address current challenges and shortcomings of nuclear safeguards could include the universalization of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty’s (NPT) Additional Protocol, further intrusive monitoring mechanisms, additional transparency measures with robust verification practices, the introduction of mechanisms for the multilateralization of uranium enrichment facilities, and, finally, placing a 5-percent cap on uranium enrichment levels, which safeguards against possible weaponization.

The sequence of steps outlined above could be a path to use the fatwa to generate renewed impetus for a comprehensive international initiative addressing current and future WMD challenges. It would also pave the way for the UN Security Council to take multilateral measures to introduce new international and national arrangements to strengthen and expand current WMD conventions. Not only would internationalizing the fatwa provide leverage for Iran to contribute immensely to non-proliferation, it would also have positive ramifications on multiple regional and international fronts.

The implementation of NPT by Iran’s government and the upholding of the fatwa by religious figures inside Iran can and would pursue the current objective of ensuring Iran’s peaceful use of nuclear technology. However, transforming efforts to internationalize the fatwa into a legally binding document through international venues such as the UN would bring several major benefits.

First, it would strengthen the NPT and assist in efforts towards the eradication of all nuclear weapons worldwide. Second, it would advance efforts towards the creation of a WMD-free zone in the Middle East. Third, with the religious, social and international endorsements of the concept, all Muslim countries in the region would be obliged to implement national legislation banning all WMDs, which would place added pressure on Israel to join the movement. Finally, it would shed light on WMD proliferation by Western countries, members and non-members of the NPT, as in the case of the provision of technology and know-how for Israel’s construction of nuclear weapons and Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons, which were used against Iran in the 1980s.

Such a new international movement towards the dream of a world without nuclear weapons would place additional and specific pressure on all governments to take robust measures backed by national legislation to prevent any form of WMD proliferation.

The significance of the recent nuclear interim deal indicates the world powers have finally given up resisting Iran’s right to uranium enrichment within the framework of the NPT—and given up threatening it with further sanctions. Therefore, it is an opportune moment for the world powers to utilize the huge potential of Ayatollah Khamenei’s fatwa and the possible comprehensive deal with Iran as a model for contributing to non-proliferation. Such a step would bring us a little closer to the goal President Barack Obama outlined during a speech at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin: “Peace with justice means pursuing the security of a world without nuclear weapons.

Impossible To Stop Nuclear Proliferation

The nuclear danger
Nuclear Testing Monitoring

Nuclear Testing Monitoring
Tuesday, May 06, 2014

The trafficking of nuclear technologies and materials has been a worrisome issue since the early 1950s but after 9/11 it emerged as a global threat. This threat is totally different today because of the widespread dissemination of technological expertise and nuclear-weapons-related knowledge.

Illicit trade refers to trade not authorised by the state in which it originates and is imported by other states in contravention of international law. Last year in October, a Washington-based think tank, Institute for Science and International Security, released a report that indicated more than half a dozen countries – including India, Pakistan and North Korea – as ‘illicit nuclear trade suppliers of concern’. The report further argued that in the absence of immediate measures to control exports, countries like Brazil, Turkey, Russia, Argentina, and portions of Eastern Europe could also become potential suppliers of sensitive nuclear commodities.

Preventing the unauthorised spread of classified information related to nuclear technology is also a difficult challenge because terrorist organisations like Al-Qaeda are likely to gain access to sensitive information that could be helpful in their quest for nuclear capabilities. More recently, newly emerging threats like industrial espionage and cyber-theft have enhanced the chances of leakage of sensitive information critical to the development of nuclear weapons.

Furthermore, these days many dual-use technologies are imported under legal cover and later put to use in the development of nuclear weapons. Such trafficking of nuclear materials involves not only fissile material but other technologies like centrifuges used for enrichment purposes as well. Despite many US-led efforts to secure nuclear materials from vulnerable sites across the globe, mitigating the problem of illicit nuclear trade remains a long haul.

Since the early 1960s, almost all states that have nuclear power status have achieved it using illegal smuggling methods to obtain necessary nuclear material and technology. Over the next five to ten years, the problem may get worse because of the increasing number of actors involved in nuclear black-market trading. Several more countries are striving to acquire nuclear capability and those that already possess nuclear weapons are working to improve them. States with nuclear weapons, including India and Pakistan, are expected to continue procuring from abroad to modernise their nuclear arsenals.

Nuclear smuggling networks have become increasingly interconnected and sophisticated. Countries that have developed secret nuclear weapons programmes, are acquiring nuclear subcomponents and ‘dual-use goods’ to operate nuclear facilities on their own. Control of dual-use goods is extremely difficult because suppliers can easily be misled into believing that these items will be used only for civilian purposes.

Over the past two decades, even in countries like the US and Japan that have very strict export control regulations, shadowy networks of nuclear proliferators have tricked suppliers into selling sensitive material and technologies. In order to hide their final destination, illegal procurements are routed through many other countries, also known as ‘turntables’, with weak or nonexistent export controls.

Some developed countries like South Korea and Japan also have the potential to pose a serious challenge to the nuclear non-proliferation agenda because these countries possess enough technological expertise, fissile material and scientific capacity to build nuclear weapons within a short span of time. So there must be a strong policy to discourage additional countries from building uranium enrichment or plutonium separation facilities and making bilateral and regional agreements to the effect of establishing nuclear weapons free zones (NWFZ) remains the most effective way to achieve the desired outcome.

Another related problem is that developing countries do not give the required priority to strengthening export control laws because of the lack of awareness regarding the threats posed by illicit nuclear trade. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the international community led by the US must pay attention to this issue and impress upon other countries to make and strictly enforce export control laws.

There are widespread apprehensions about Iran’s involvement in covert smuggling operations aimed at obtaining materials and centrifuges for its nuclear program. There are concerns that most of the sensitive commodities were acquired by different trade companies, secretly working for the Iranian government, from other countries in complete violation of the latter’s national trade control laws. After the recent Geneva deal, prospects of a final solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis are somewhat promising but if the deal fails Iran may continue on its path to developing nuclear weapons by acquiring sensitive goods illegally.

One of the serious challenges faced by current export control regimes is the lack of universal methods to detect nuclear trafficking. A well-established early detection mechanism can go a long way in preventing illicit nuclear trade. The US and other major nuclear powers must work to develop a cooperative mechanism to interdict illicit nuclear trade.

The UN Security Council and other multilateral export control regimes can play their role, rendering it almost next to impossible for proliferant states to obtain sensitive goods. Coupled with these initiatives, a ‘Universal Standard against Illicit Nuclear Trade’ must be created to measure and improve compliance efforts by various countries. This benchmark should provide certain incentives to states willing to curb illicit smuggling and pressurise unwilling states to comply with the export control guidelines. Legal processes in all countries should also be strengthened in order to effectively prosecute and punish people involved in the business of nuclear smuggling.

The ultimate goal of these measures should be to construct insurmountable obstacles against illicit procurement networks and nuclear smugglers, minimising the chances of a state or non-state actor being in a position to illegally proliferate nuclear technology. The international community must join hands to conclude legally binding ‘arms control treaties’ stigmatising the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Last but not the least, progressive efforts need to ensure that the FMCT and the CTBT enter into force of before the 2015 NPT Review Conference; this can more adequately save the world from the dangers of nuclear weapons.

The writer is a research scholar and a former visiting fellow at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, California.

Israel Not An Innocent Bystander

Israeli nuclear capabilities and the Middle East

Israel's Impressive Nuclear Arsenal

Israel’s Impressive Nuclear Arsenal

Much media attention has focused on the hysteria surrounding the Iranian nuclear enterprise while Israel’s rapidly growing nuclear capabilities have been largely ignored

Rizwan Asghar
April 08, 2014

With an arsenal of more than 300 weapons and strong delivery capabilities, Israel has already replaced the UK as the fifth largest nuclear power in the world. Israel’s secret nuclear programme now rivals China and France in terms of its size. Since the early 1960s, governments in Tel Aviv have ever maintained an official policy of deliberate nuclear opacity. In 1963, Shimon Peres assured that Israel would not be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons in the region. Most historians are of the view that the policy of neither acknowledging nor denying the existence of nuclear weapons was adopted after a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir and US President Richard Nixon in 1969, in which Israel agreed not to unveil its nuclear strength as a quid pro quo for easing of US pressure on Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Due to its secretive policy, most of the information about Israel’s nuclear programme has been gathered from the evidence provided by whistle-blowers and defected Israeli nuclear scientists.

Many years ago, former International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) head Hans Blix made it public that, “Israel has about 200 weapons, and beating around the bush does not change very much — they are part of the nuclear landscape.” Israel’s nuclear project was originally conceived in the shadows of the Holocaust and as a means to provide the “ultimate security assurance against annihilation”. The exceptional injustices committed against the Jews taught the lesson that Israel could not rely on allies for its defence. Shimon Peres very vocally expressed this thinking when he said that if Israel succeeded in acquiring nuclear capability, no Jews would be slaughtered like lambs anymore. This perception was also bolstered when Israel was forced by the US to withdraw its troops from Egyptian territory during the 1956 Suez Crisis. Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, and Ernst David Bergmann were the principal architects of the nuclear policy and they maintained utmost control over the defence establishment for almost two decades. From the very outset, the process of expanding the nuclear arsenal was very rapid and by the time of the Yom Kippur War, Israel possessed more than a dozen nuclear bombs. Golda Meir further intensified the nuclear efforts.

According to the distinguished US journalist Seymour Hersh, an Israeli scientist secretly gave photographic evidence of Israel possessing more than 100 thermonuclear weapons to the US in 1981. Today, the Israeli nuclear arsenal is believed to include both artillery delivered enhanced radiation neutron bombs and intercontinental range thermonuclear weapons. Israel’s strategic nuclear deterrent is based on a three-branched nuclear capability: strategic bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and submarine-based missiles. The purpose of having this ‘triad’ of delivery systems is to reduce the possibility of an enemy’s attack on all of a country’s nuclear forces and ensure a credible threat of a ‘second strike’. Israel’s nuclear research and production activities are scattered across the country, with a nuclear reactor at Dimona used to produce plutonium, nuclear storage bases at Eilabun near the Sea of Galilee and the national weapons testing laboratory at Soreq. Despite repeated efforts, Israel has never allowed the IAEA to inspect these nuclear facilities.

After 2002, much media attention has focused on the hysteria surrounding the Iranian nuclear enterprise while Israel’s rapidly growing nuclear capabilities have been largely ignored. There is no strong evidence to suggest that Israel’s undeclared nuclear arsenal helped increase its security or bring stability to the region. Rather, it has been a destabilising force. In fact, Israeli governments have repeatedly made threats of a nuclear attack on Arab countries in order to further Israel’s negative ambitions in the Middle East. Ariel Sharon, the former Israeli prime minister, is often quoted as saying, “Arabs may have the oil but we have the matches.” Israel’s ambitions have even gone far beyond the Middle East. In 1983, and again in 2003, Israel even offered to join hands with India to attack Pakistani nuclear facilities.

In addition, the US policy of acquiescence in Israel’s nuclear programme has provided an impetus to Iraq, Syria, Iran and other Arab nations to explore the possibility of nuclear weapons — universally acknowledged as a threat to human survival on this planet. Israel’s nuclear status gave Saddam Hussein a strong incentive to pursue a nuclear weapons programme in the 1980s and early 1990s. Israel has always refused to ratify the NPT, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention. Israel’s refusal to join these treaties has not only undermined the global nonproliferation regime, its worst consequences have appeared in the form of mass proliferation of biological and chemical weapons in Egypt, Syria and Iraq with the purpose to offset Israel’s military dominance in the region. Israel’s possession of chemical and biological weapons has seriously undermined the moral authority of the US stance, which requires Iran to comply with the NPT and international law.

With India and Pakistan, the other nuclear-armed non-signatories to the NPT, the Israeli nuclear programme imperils future nuclear nonproliferation efforts. The nuclear programmes of these countries reinforce the prospect that any future wars could escalate into a regional or global nuclear cataclysm. If the international community is really sincere in its efforts for the establishment of a Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone (NWFZ) in the Middle East, they must press Israel to sign the NPT and take steps towards denuclearisation. None of Israel’s adversary countries has nuclear capability so Israel has not even a deterrence justification to maintain its fastest growing nuclear arsenal. Egypt, Iran and many other Arab countries have already supported the establishment of a NWFZ and such a move would also help to deny Tehran the moral high ground it claims because of western support for Israel’s nuclear programme.

A nuclear-free Middle East could set the stage for a ‘comprehensive peace agreement’ in the region. George Perkovich, a famous American analyst, is of the view: “Our aim should be to create a security environment, and you cannot do that if you do not recognise publicly that Israel has nuclear weapons.” Over the past three decades, the UN General Assembly has passed many resolutions supporting the idea of a NWFZ in the Middle East. Keeping in view the highly volatile geopolitical situation emerging in the Middle East, the international community cannot wait for another three decades to take substantial steps towards achieving this aim.

Russian War Will Increase Nuclear Proliferation

Ukraine and Nuclear Proliferation
Russia’s invasion has made U.S. assurances seem meaningless.

Russian war will increase nuclear proliferation

Russian war will increase nuclear proliferation

Updated March 19, 2014 9:00 p.m. ET
The damage to world order from Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Crimea will echo for years, but one of the biggest casualties deserves more attention: the cause of nuclear nonproliferation. One lesson to the world of Russia’s cost-free carve-up of Ukraine is that nations that abandon their nuclear arsenals do so at their own peril.
This story goes back to the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russia’s nuclear arsenal was spread among the former Soviet republics that had become independent nations. Ukraine had some 1,800 nuclear weapons, including short-range tactical weapons, air-launched cruise missiles and bombers. Only Russia and the U.S. had more at the time, and Ukraine’s arsenal was both modern and highly survivable in the event of a first strike.
Russian forces wait outside the Ukrainian firefighters brigade headquarters. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
The U.S. was rightly concerned that these warheads could end up in the wrong hands, and the Clinton Administration made controlling them a foreign-policy priority. The result was the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances in which Ukraine agreed to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and return its nuclear arsenal to Russia in exchange for security “assurances” by Russia, the U.S. and United Kingdom. Those included promises to respect Ukraine’s independence and sovereignty within its existing borders, as well as refraining from threatening or using force against Ukraine.
Officials in Kiev clearly had the potential for Russian aggression in mind when they sought those assurances, which is one reason they wanted other nations to co-sign as well. China and France later added somewhat weaker assurances in separate attachments to the Budapest Memo.
Ukraine also wanted to take many years to turn over its weapons, but the U.S. wanted quicker action and by 1996 Ukraine had given up its entire nuclear arsenal. It was an important victory for nonproliferation—a success rooted in the world’s post-Cold War confidence in American power and deterrence.
Contrast that with the current crisis. President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron have blasted Russia for its clear violation of the Budapest accord, but those U.S. and U.K. assurances have been exposed as meaningless. That lesson isn’t lost on Ukraine, but it also won’t be lost on the rest of the world.
Had Kiev kept its weapons rather than giving them up in return for parchment promises, would Vladimir Putin have been so quick to invade Crimea two weeks ago? It’s impossible to know, but it’s likely it would have at least given him more pause.
Ukraine’s fate is likely to make the world’s nuclear rogues, such as Iran and North Korea, even less likely to give up their nuclear facilities or weapons. As important, it is likely to make nonnuclear powers and even close U.S. allies wonder if they can still rely on America’s security guarantees.
Japan and South Korea are sure to consider their nuclear options as China presses its own territorial claims. South Korean public opinion is already in favor of an independent nuclear deterrent. And several Middle East countries, notably Saudi Arabia, are already contemplating their nuclear options once Iran becomes a nuclear power. Ukraine’s fate will only reinforce those who believe these countries can’t trust American assurances.
Perhaps the greatest irony is that President Obama has made nuclear nonproliferation one of his highest priorities. In April 2009 in Prague, he promised to lead a crusade to rid the world of nuclear weapons with treaties and the power of America’s moral example. But documents and “assurances” have never kept any country safe from the world’s predators. Only comparable military power or the protection of a superpower like the U.S. can do that. When the superpower’s assurances are called into question, the world becomes a far more dangerous place.
On present trend Mr. Obama’s legacy won’t be new limits on the spread of nuclear weapons. Instead he’ll be the President who presided over, and been a major cause of, a new era of global nuclear proliferation.
To underscore the point, next week Mr. Obama will travel to The Hague to preach the virtues of nonproliferation at his third global Nuclear Security Summit. Also expected: Vladimir Putin.

Iran Negotiations Will Fuel Nuclear Proliferation

Pullback from Middle East Will Fuel Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

Experts say Obama policies not working
Al Qaeda militants in the al-Jazeera region on the Iraqi side of the Syria-Iraq border. / AP
Al Qaeda militants in the al-Jazeera region on the Iraqi side of the Syria-Iraq border. / AP


January 31, 2014 5:40 pm
The Obama administration’s pullback from the Middle East will only fuel the proliferation of nuclear weapons and extremism in the region, experts said on Friday.
The administration has pursued diplomatic solutions aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program and ending Syria’s bloody civil war, experts on the region said at the Hudson Institute. But its reluctance to be more engaged and use the threat of force if necessary to achieve settlements has only produced more instability and chaos, they said.
Officials in Saudi Arabia, Iran’s major adversary in the region, have previously said they would acquire nuclear weapons if Tehran developed them. Critics say the recent interim nuclear deal negotiated between Iran and world powers does not do enough to prevent that arms race from happening.
Peace talks in Syria between President Bashar al-Assad and the rebel opposition have stalled. The now almost-three-year civil war has attracted thousands of foreign jihadists, many from the West, to become battle hardened and then potentially return to their home countries to commit attacks.
Assad has also removed less than 5 percent of his chemical weapons stockpile as part of the U.S.-Russian brokered deal that averted an American military strike on the Syrian regime.
Michael Doran, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and former deputy assistant secretary of defense, said both the Iran nuclear deal and the tepid American response in Syria represent a “quiet revolution” in U.S. policy toward the Middle East.
That revolution means no longer containing Iran’s ambitions of being the region’s dominant power, a long-standing goal of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, Doran said. He pointed to Obama’s comments in a recent interview with the New Yorker about getting Iran to “operate in a responsible fashion” and developing an “equilibrium” between rival Sunni and Shia factions in the Middle East.
“[Iran sees] it as setting themselves up as the dominant power of the region,” Doran said. “I don’t think a conciliatory [U.S.] policy is going to do anything to blunt those ambitions.”
Obama also said in the New Yorker interview that a U.S. goal in the Middle East should be to “work with functioning states to prevent extremists from emerging there.” Doran said that suggests the administration believes that if it can integrate Iran into a new regional security order, it can suppress the more lethal threat of al Qaeda.
However, Iran’s machinations in the Middle East have greatly exacerbated the threat of Islamic extremism to the West, Doran said. Iran, a staunch Shiite ally of Assad, has sent arms and members of its elite Quds Force to bolster the Syrian regime against the rebels.
Sunni states such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey have responded by backing and financing the Syrian rebels to counter Iran’s growing influence. Sunni extremists, such as the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have also poured into Syria after seeing an opportunity to seize territory.
Assad has not helped matters by continuing to bomb his own people, Doran said.
“He is the greatest engine of al Qaeda that there is in the Middle East,” Doran said.
Iran has also cooperated with al Qaeda and Sunni extremist groups such as Hamas and the Taliban in the past.
Hillel Fradkin, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, said even traditional Iranian adversaries are beginning to reassess their options.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has ties to the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood, visited Iran this week to sign trade agreements and called it “a second home.”
“Erdogan thinks Iran has won this phase of the struggle, and that he must make his peace with it,” Fradkin said. “Others may soon feel the same.”
Although Obama may attract support from a war-weary public through his more modest Middle East policy, Doran said there are real consequences to leaving a vacuum in the region for Iran to fill.
A future Middle East crisis will likely involve more nuclear powers and extremist groups, he said.
“Sooner or later the problems of the region are going to come after us—whether we want them to or not,” he said.

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