Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Archive for the ‘NPT’ Category

P-5 Met in Paris on Nonproliferation; Not Much to Report

Posted by K.E. White on July 4, 2011

The permanent members of the UN Security Council (United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, and China) met to discuss non-proliferation matters last week.  The meeting was held as “the first follow-up meeting of the 2010 NPT [Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty] Review Conference with the 5 nuclear powers recognized by the NPT.”

Shockingly, the conference reaffirmed the importance of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.  Here’s the U.S. State Department’s press release on the meeting.

Posted in NPT | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

NPT Recap: Deepti Choubey’s Report and Chat With U.S. Representative Susan Burk

Posted by K.E. White on July 4, 2010

The Carnegie Endowment offers a stellar assessment of the NPT Review Conference.  First, Choubey offers a concise Q&A formatted report on what the conference achieved.  Second, Choubey chats with U.S. Special Representative Susan Burk, headed of the U.S. delegation to the NPT.

One interesting note, Burk notes Iran’s isolation within the conference.  Iran was the final party to agreed to the final declaration, holding up progress for hours.  On this score, the U.S. showed itself more in sync with the international community than Iran.

Posted in NPT | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

NYTimes Sloppy Reporting on The NPT and Israel

Posted by K.E. White on July 4, 2010

Did the Obama administration snub Israel during a nonproliferation summit earlier this summer?  The NYTimes wants you to think so, and—in so doing—offers a master-class in cherry picking facts.

The NYTimes reports on the costs of America negotiating a successful Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference earlier this summer.  Its focus?  The continuing strains plaguing the U.S.-Israel relationship.

The report portrays the United States as conceding to Arab demands “that the final (NPT) document urge Israel to sign the treaty.”  The reward?  President Obama ensured the quincennial conference would reach a final declaration, unlike its 2005 predecessor.

The article suggests this concession has further chilled relations between the United States and Israel.  But in implicitly shaping this clause of the NPT document as a U.S. concession, the article makes three critical omissions.

First, the document “recalls the reaffirmation by the 2000 Review Conference of the importance of Israel’s accession to the Treaty,” not what I would describing as ‘urging’ Israel to join the treaty.  (2010 Final Document)

But, more importantly, this reference to Israel is not novel.  Indeed, similar language appears in the conference’s 2000 declaration.  (2000 Final Document Article VII, Paragraph 3)

Admittedly, this request was not repeated in 2005.  But the tumultuous 2005 conference ended without any final declaration.

So Obama’s ‘concession’ merely recognized the status-quo.  Shouldn’t the NYTimes explore why 1) Israel expected such a shift and 2) the benefits-and-drawbacks of the status-quo?

But the NYTimes, latter on in the piece, suggests that it isn’t the reference itself, but rather the singling out of Israel—and not Iran’s nuclear program:

The United States, recognizing that the document would upset the Israelis, sought to distance itself even as it signed it.

In a statement released after the conference ended, the national security adviser, Gen. James L. Jones, said, “The United States deplores the decision to single out Israel in the Middle East section of the NPT document.” He said it was “equally deplorable” that the document did not single out Iran for its nuclear ambitions. Any conference on a nuclear-free Middle East, General Jones said, could only come after Israel and its neighbors had made peace.

The United States, American officials said, faced a hard choice: refusing to compromise with the Arab states on Israel would have sunk the entire review conference. Given the emphasis Mr. Obama has placed on nonproliferation, the United States could not accept such an outcome.

But the report omits another two critical facts:  1) Iran has not breached its obligations under the NPT (Iran claims to be pursuing a peaceful nuclear program) and 2) the final document doesn’t single out Israel—it also calls on India, Pakistan and North Korea to join the NPT.  (Paragraphs 108, 109 and 115)

Now was it smart policy for Obama to permit the NPT declaration to mention Israel directly?  I would argue it was his only choice:  if the NPT failed to reach a final declaration in back-to-back meetings, the treaty system would face a legitimacy crisis.

Why does the NPT matter?  It represents the legal basis for 189 countries—including Iran—not to proliferate nuclear weapons.

There are arguments for junking the NPT all-together, a subject the NYTimes article fails to mention.  Instead, the NYTimes settles for swallow reporting and simplistic analysis.

Posted in NPT | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Susan Burk Returns As U.S. Representative to the High Stakes 2010 NPT Review Conference

Posted by K.E. White on April 23, 2009

Update: Susan Burk’s confirmation is still held up after Sen. DeMint’s May 5th ‘hold’ on her nomination.

Summary: Obama has made it clear he sees the “sound” Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty as critical to stemming nuclear weapons proliferation. So what will Obama’s bold nuclear moves-warming up to Russia on a new START treaty, calling for eventual nuclear weapons abolition, and bringing focus back to the NPT-yield? It’s too soon to tell. But the nomination Susan Burk as Special Representative reflects the high aims Obama has for the 2010 meeting. Below is a review of Burk’s testimony to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee and discussion of NPT 2010 meeting’s significance to Obamaland foreign policy.

Two key-if little noted-nominees for diplomatic roles in the Obama White House testified before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday.  Ivo Daalder has been tapped for U.S. Representative on the NATO Council, and Sarah Burk has been nominated for U.S. Representative to the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference.

President Obama’s recently announced commitment[i] to revitalizing the NPT to stem nuclear proliferation brings Burk’s likely role special significance.

Burk, if confirmed, will play a major role in the 2010 NPT Review Conference. Held every five years, these meetings bring together the 188 treaty members to discuss nonproliferation and disarmament issues. With Iran inching closer towards nuclear weapons capability and North Korea reneging on its pledge to disarm, this meeting may be the last chance to exert multinational pressure on these rogue states.

NPT meetings have had a erratic track record. In 1995, with Susan Burk heading up Clinton’s delegation, the NPT treaty was renewed permanently. But the 2000 conference was marked more by what was avoided (fears of collapse in the wake of 1998 nuclear tests of Pakistan and India), and 2005’s has been considered “a near total fiasco.”[ii]

Iran, as a member of the NPT, holds a unique test for the treaty regime. While Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea have developed nuclear weapons since the treaty’s ratification, none were members of the NPT (North Korea left the organization before developing its limited nuclear weapons capability). Iran crossing the nuclear line would represent the treaty’s largest failure-and call into question its grand bargain of nonproliferation in return for peaceful nuclear technology sharing and eventual nuclear weapons disarmament.

Susan Burk’s opening statement offers a concise review of the Obama administration nonproliferation policy aims and the challenges it faces as it heads into the 2010 NPT Review Conference. The administration has an ambitious agenda, calling for:

continue reading article

Posted in NPT | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Irish Nuclear-Free Zone? Ministers Make Joint Appeal Against British Nuclear Energy Plans

Posted by K.E. White on February 3, 2008

From BBC News:

Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie and Irish Environment Minister John Gormley made a joint call.

They are concerned about proposals to include nuclear power as a means of reducing the UK‘s carbon footprint.

“It is bad enough having a nuclear threat off our shores. We should not contemplate having one within our shores,” Ms Ritchie, SDLP, said.

“The shift back towards a nuclear power energy policy in Great Britain greatly concerns me, especially given its close proximity.

Quick Historical Note: The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) came out of a 1958 Irish proposal that aimed to freeze nuclear weapons proliferation.

Posted in Britain, Ireland, Northern Ireland, NPT, Nuclear, nuclear energy | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rowen on ‘Nuclear Free’ Plan: Helps Countries to Get the Bomb

Posted by K.E. White on January 17, 2008

Henry S. Rowen—Hoover Institution Fellow and Former Assistant Secretary of Defense—takes a hit on new policies advocated by George Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn that aim to free the world of nuclear weapons.

While Rowen agrees that more must be done to monitor weapons, build early-warning detection systems, and discarding massive attack plans. But Rowan disagrees that there is any way for the nuclear weapons states (America, Russia, Britain, France and China) to assist other nations in developing peaceful nuclear technology without risking increased nuclear weapons proliferation.

But one must ask: Can nuclear states overtly refuse to help developing countries meet their energy needs, especially when the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty—the international framework for legal procession of nuclear weapons—ensures such assistance?

From Rowen’s essay:

There is a sense that Arab fear of Iran’s nuclear weapons, along with lower confidence in U.S. protection, is causing some of them to want the bomb. These governments understand that the way to do this is to follow the traditional path of building reactors for ostensible civilian purposes because the line between civilian and military uses is thin. Moreover, the economics of nuclear electric power in these countries ranges from bad to atrocious. Making big power reactors is hard and lengthy work; our subsidizing their infrastructure and fuel would not only foster uneconomic power systems, it would speed the creation of easy weapons options.

Nor does the statement obligate recipients to refrain from going to the brink of having nuclear weapons with or without the materials supplied by the “advanced nuclear countries.”

The U.S government has a lot of work to do regarding Iran and the stability of the Persian Gulf, but helping countries to get the bomb is not one of them.

The Shultz-Perry-Kissinger-Nunn op-ed builds on an earlier plan they outlined last year.

Posted in NPT, Nuclear, Nuclear Weapons, proliferation, Rowen, Sam Nunn | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Proliferation News Alert: Critical Chinese Hurdle Cleared by US-India Nuclear Deal?

Posted by K.E. White on August 7, 2007

Summary: China appears to give green-light to US-India nuclear deal, an agreement that gives India–a nation that has not joined the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty–unprecedented access to nuclear technology from the United States. Chinese approval suggests the deal will be approved by the Nuclear Suppliers Group, an international body that regulates international nuclear trade. The recently renegotiated deal must still be re-authorized by the United States Congress.

The Press Trust of India reports on cooling Chinese opposition to the US-India nuclear deal. When asked about the deal, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jiancho responded:

“It is hoped that the international community can explore and properly handle the issue [the US-India nuclear deal] by creative thinking,” Liu said, indicating a significant change of stance.

This is an apparent shift from earlier reads on the Chinese position regarding the US-India nuclear deal. From The Tribune:

China is not happy with the nuclear deal which gives India a de facto nuclear power status. Beijing has so far not disclosed what stance it is going to take when the 45-nation NSG meets to discuss a special waiver for India to allow New Delhi nuclear commerce with the world.

According to voices emanating from Beijing, the Chinese position on the Indo-US nuclear deal has two broad points. One, India should first sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) before it can reap the fruits of the nuclear deal. Two, the nuke deal would alter the strategic balance in the region and fuel an arms race.

The Press Trust article includes more from Liu Jiancho:

“China believes that countries can develop the cooperation on the peaceful use of nuclear energy abiding by their respective international obligations,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jiancho said.

“At the same time, relevant cooperation shall be conducive to the maintenance and strengthening of the effectiveness of international nuclear non-proliferation principles,” Liu told PTI here when asked to comment on the recent agreement between India and the US on nuclear deal.

With the Bush administration pushing for a NSG meeting by the year’s end, 2008 may just be the year the long-stalled US-India Nuclear Deal comes into force.

Posted in China, India, Liu Jiancho, NPT, NSG, Nuclear Deal, Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Nuclear Suppliers Group, Security Studies, U.S. India Nuclear Deal, United States | Leave a Comment »

The India Nuclear Deal: On Life Support or Creeping Steadily Towards Success?

Posted by K.E. White on August 5, 2007

The Bush administration backed US-India Nuclear deal has been a diplomatic rollercoaster. On March 6th, 2006 President Bush announced the US India nuclear deal and pushed Congress to pass the legislation last summer, to only see the deal stalled owing to Indian objections. Now in the twilight of his presidency, the President is pushing for its approval.

But can a now unpopular, lame duck President seal this controversial deal?

Congress passed last summer a bundle of legislative changes allowing America cooperate with India on nuclear issues. While the changes do not amount to an official recognition of India’s non-NPT sanctioned nuclear weapons program, it gives it de facto recognition.

Bush has now unveiled a slightly reworked deal with India, forcing Congress to reconsider the matter—but with one critical change: Democrats now control Congress.

Advocates of the deal point to its realism—it deals with India’s status as a nuclear power—and hope it will foster a strong partnership between two strong democracies.

But critics view the plan as rewarding India for bad behavior, thereby encouraging other countries to develop nuclear weapons. Critics also point to an apparent double-standard: America is encouraging India’s reprocessing facilities while demanding Iran—who claims to be merely developing its civilian nuclear power—stop all nuclear repossessing.

So what’s next for this proposal? Under Secretary of State R. Nicolas Burns lays out the future hurdles succinctly in this recent interview with the CFR:

Two things have to happen before it goes back for a final vote in Congress. First, India has to conclude a safeguards agreement with the IAEA, which I expect will happen in the next thirty to thirty-five days. Secondly, the Indians will need to convince the nuclear suppliers group—this is the group of forty-five nuclear energy powers in the world—that it should give the same kind of international treatment in terms of civil nuclear trade to India that the United States would have just given bilaterally. Once those two steps are taken, then perhaps by November or December we’ll be ready to formally send this agreement to Capitol Hill for a final vote. We hope that vote will mirror the Hyde Act vote which was, of course, an overwhelming vote in favor of India and the United States by Congress.

In India the BJP opposition party has come out against the new deal. While not able to stop Indian approval, the BJP resistance could sap public support for the deal. The Hindustan Times reports on the party’s objections:

The inspections that India would be subject to and the conditions imposed on it under the agreement would be equivalent to those applicable to non-nuclear weapons nations, both he and Shourie stated. For these reasons, the BJP had consistently opposed the deal and former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee had expressed his reservations on the issue even in 2005 with regard to its impact on India’s strategic nuclear programme, they added.

Expressing BJP’s objections to the provisions of the agreement, they said since each party was required to implement the agreement in accordance with its national laws and regulations, there was no doubt that India would be governed by the provisions of the Hyde Act of 2006 and the US Atomic Energy Act, 1954.

Sinha found US commitment on fuel supplies “vague and futuristic”. Besides, as the US would, under the provisions of the deal, retain the right of end-use verification of all its supplies, it would ensure that American inspectors would roam around all Indian nuclear installations, he felt.

And the NGS negotiations may hit a Beijing road block. Ravni gives a good backdrop the coming negotiations, painting China as the critical player:

India has already received broad support from Russia, Britain and France. India’s cooperation and growing engagement with Brazil and South Africa under the IBSA framework has also lead these countries to support India’s use of civilian nuclear technology. Australia [Note: Australia previously opposed to deal], too, seems to have veered around to supporting India’s right to civilian nuclear technology. In the past the NSG has always worked on a consensus and Indian interlocutors will hope to achieve this consensus in their favour. Here the position taken by China will be of great importance to India.

DNA views China as opposing the deal:

China has emerged as a source of concern as India begins the next stage of negotiations for implementation of the nuclear deal. According to a senior official who spoke on condition of anonymity, the government is disturbed by reports of a quiet Chinese effort to block India’s bid for an unconditional waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) for participation in international nuclear trade.

All this seems to only lead to the same murky conclusion: The fate of the US-India nuclear deal, clouded in doubt for over a year, is still uncertain.

Posted in Bush administration, Council on Foreign Relations, India, Nicolas Burns, NPT, NSG, Nuclear Deal, U.S. India Nuclear Deal | Leave a Comment »

Monday Morning Brew

Posted by K.E. White on April 30, 2007

Pakistan on High Alert – Owing to worry over suicide bombing plots and an assassination attempt on the Pakistani Interior Minister. The suspected source? Waziristan. But at least Pakistan and Afghanistan have vowed to fight terrorism—when not jockeying for regional influence.

News-Shocker: UN Chief states NPT suffering a “crisis of confidence.” Iran and North Korea agree.

But at least the message was read by an aide, so the crisis must not be in full bloom. And worry not—preparations for the 2010 review conference are still underway, and fraught with delay.

Serbian ‘Kosovo Guard’ strokes fear of ethnic conflict in Kosovo. Plans for Kosovo independence will undoubtedly cool tensions.

Arianna Huffington asks the obvious on George Tenent’s White House criticisms.

Posted in Arianna Huffington, Ban Ki-moon, Kosovo, Kosovo Independence, NPT, NPT Vienna Conference Meeting, Pakistan | Leave a Comment »

South Africa Going Nuke Again?

Posted by K.E. White on April 8, 2007

No, this is not a return to a nuclear-weaponized South Africa.

South Africa

But South Africa may develop a new nuclear power facility.

This might not seem like big news, but what happens if South Africa—a leading member of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty—demands its own enrichment capability?

That’s unlikely: Any nuclear power expansion in South Africa will most likely be accepted and endorses by the international community.

But one thing is clear: how the major nuclear powers—Russia, America, and Germany in particular—deal with South Africa’s growing nuclear appetite will be watched closely by Iran and other potential nuclear aspirants.

Why the change? Russian interest in uranium. From Mining News Weekly in March:

There is huge interest from Russia in joint ventures with South African companies to mine uranium in South Africa and elsewhere in Africa. The recent agreement between South Africa’s Harmony Gold and Russia’s Renova Group looks like being only the first manifestation of this Russian interest. The outcome of the alignment between these two companies could be Renova buying Harmony’s uranium assets and Harmony buying Renova’s gold assets (these would be two separate deals). Both the South African and Russian governments have pledged to assist Harmony and Renova in the implementation of their agreement.

However, Renova is apparently also seeking other South African partners for uranium-mining joint ventures (JVs). South Africa’s Department of Minerals and Energy is, it seems, willing to draw up a list of local companies that could partner Renova, although the decision of which company or companies the Russians would chose would be made by Renova, on a business basis.


This minor development can even be seen as consistent with South Africa’s nuclear policies of the last two decades. From the Federation of American Scientists:

A primary goal of South Africa’s policy is to reinforce and promote the country’s image as a responsible producer, possessor and trader of advanced technologies in this field. In this connection, South Africa has obtained membership from two important non-proliferation regimes. The Nuclear Suppliers Group [NSG] was established in 1975 to minimise the risk of diversion of nuclear technology and to regulate nuclear technology transfers, control the export of nuclear material, equipment and technology and monitor the transfer of dual-use materials. South Africa became a member of the NSG on 5 April 1995. The Zangger Committee defines and monitors trade in goods and equipment especially designed for nuclear uses. South Africa became a member of the Committee on 21 October 1993.

But at a time when Iran is justifying its nuclear program with calls to nuclear-fairness, any nuclear deal (be it with India or South Africa) becomes significant. Can the NPT regime prove flexible enough to both 1) adequately address nations’ growing demands for nuclear energy while 2) stopping the spread of nuclear weapons?

Posted in Harmony Gold, NPT, Nuclear, Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, power, Renova Group, Russia, South Africa | 1 Comment »