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Archive for the ‘Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty’ Category

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 »

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 »

M.I.A. NPT: Does the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Fail to Deter Proliferation?

Posted by K.E. White on March 26, 2007

According to two academics, the NPT “has not deterred proliferation at the systems level.”

“Enthusiasm for the NPT among proliferation opponents thus appears to be misplaced,” write Dong-Joon Jo (University of Seoul, Korea) and Erik Gartzke (Columbia University).

The academics come to this conclusion by statistically investigating factors that lead countries to proliferate around the globe.

Now one may point out the following: the NPT is not a completely globally regime. The nations that have ‘illegally’ proliferated (meaning not recognized by the NPT) are Pakistan, India, Israel, and most recently North Korea. South Africa also had nuclear weapons, but latter renounced them.

None of those proliferators were members of the NPT—North Korea left the treaty.

This is not to say that Gartzke and Jo have a point: the NPT has not reversed nuclear proliferation.

They are also correct to show that membership within a treaty should not be seen, in and of itself, as a determinate in whether proliferation occurs around the globe.

But they fail to address the legitimatizing power of the NPT, and how it has been used to restrain nuclear proliferation for over three decades.

This is a long-winded way of asking: What’s the right benchmark to gauge success?

For Gartzke and Jo they just look at the numbers: finding that nations have proliferation weapons, and that being a member or not did not seem to have as much weight as “major power status”.

But that is because they treat NPT “membership” as a number, and emphasize the cases of proliferation–(and ignores probable cases of nuclear reversal).

No where do they discuss the NPT as a vehicle for nation-states to develop nuclear policy, instead they want to reduce it to a single anti-proliferation weight.

Ian Bellany writes in Curbing the Spread of Nuclear Weapons:

A final conclusion relates to the NPT itself. Like all good arms control treaties, it should be at constant risk of failure since, like a good nuclear-free zone, it is doing a job work. Its success as an international arrangement is not therefore to be judged by occasional failures as such (which simply demonstrate the fact that it is needed) but by how well its chief backers react and adapt to these emerging realities (3).

Bellany points out an important aspect of the NPT: it is a tool for nation-states to change viewpoints on the global security context. Simply pointing at an objective aspect of the treaty—membership—does nothing to address either 1) nuclear proliferation or 2) the role of NPT plays in the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

The treaty is a forum (as Gartzke and Jo themselves argue), and its success depends on the actions of its members—particularly its permanent five members. Looking at North Korea’s isolation—caused in no small part by its withdrawal form the NPT—seems to suggest that legitimacy does matter when it comes to proliferation.

And the NPT bestows that international legitimacy.

But most troubling, Jo and Gartzke seem to pay no attention to proliferation reversals (such as South Africa and the post-Soviet Republics). They thereby only look to cases of proliferation, and not counter-proliferation, to gauge the treaty’s value.

Conclusion: Dong-Joon Jo and Erik Gartzke fail to actually substantiate their dire NPT conclusions.

Are there problems within the treaty that Jo and Gartzke point out? Yes.

May the world be on the cusp on a nuclear tipping point? Yes.

Has the NPT radically changed nation-state conceptions of international security? No.

But the NPT has undoubtedly contributed to an atmosphere of trust and predictability–as only an international agreement can foster.

Will Iranian resistance break this fragile regime? Perhaps.

But the regime, even if it ended tomorrow, has played a role in limiting the spread of nuclear weapons.

No past proliferator can be used as proof for the failure of the NPT. In fact, the limited proliferation since the NPT’s inception is proof of success.

Again, President Kennedy predicted a world of 15 to 25 new nuclear-weapon states.

And where are we today? Four.

Seems like a roaring success.

Now some may disagree with this baseline for NPT success. But Dong-Joon Jo and Erik Gartzke fail to justify their own bench line—or even articulate one.

Instead they do some statistical magic, offer no historical analysis, and come to ‘hard’ conclusions on the usefulness of the NPT.

Totally (un)impressive.

Posted in Determinants of Nuclear Weapons Proliferation, Dong-Joon Jo, Erik Gartzke, NPT, Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty | 1 Comment »