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Posts Tagged ‘Eliminating Nuclear Threats’

A Positive Take on the Evans-Kawaguchi Nuclear Threat Report

Posted by K.E. White on January 16, 2010

Last month “Eliminating Nuclear Threats: A Practical Agenda for Global Policymakers”—a joint Australian-Japanese project—was released. While much reaction has been critical, Haaretz correspondent Amir Oren writes this positive editorial:

It is no longer possible to dismiss as negligible the possibility that a fanatical organization will get nuclear arms, materials or know-how from one of its patrons, take advantage of a gap in security and carry out a mass suicide attack. This could happen on a plane, a ship anchored in an American port with a missile launched from the sea, or a truck racing in from Mexico to the American side of the border in California or Arizona. It could also happen if an American who has converted to Islam or is the son of immigrants (like Maj. Hasan) does what Timothy McVeigh did with different motives when he blew up the Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, but this with a nuclear weapon.

To deal with nuclear terror it will be necessary to deal with states that sponsor it. To do so, it will be necessary to update the proliferation regime worldwide. Israel will also have to be included in this. Though this is an apocalyptic vision, there is scope for immediate action.

In April Obama will host an international nuclear security summit. It is not clear who will represent Israel there. If the representative is at the very highest level, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also chairs the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, and not the commission’s director general, he will have to defend Israel’s position and not merely recycle the demands concerning Iran.

In May, shortly after Obama’s summit, a committee will meet – as it does every five years – to review the state of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty regime. Israel is not a signatory to this treaty and is therefore not subject to the regime, but there is significance for Israel in the conjunction of the nuclear meetings and what happens in advance of them.

Last month the report “Eliminating Nuclear Threats: A Practical Agenda for Global Policymakers” was published by the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament. Heading the commission were former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans and former Japanese foreign minister Yoriko Kawaguchi. Also on the committee were 13 statesman and experts, among them former American defense secretary William Perry, retired German chief of staff General Klaus Naumann (a good friend of Israel who served as head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Military Committee) and Turki Al Faisal, who headed Saudi intelligence for a quarter of a century. This group of people is privy to many secrets and have access to all the latest information…
The report treats it as fact that Israel is a country in possession of nuclear weapons outside the Non-Proliferation Treaty with an estimated 60 to 200 weapons, some of which are positioned. It mentions a very common assumption that Israel has ceased to produce fissile material but will not explicitly relinquish this route before there is a significant improvement in its security environment. The report recommends applying pressure on Israel – as well as India and Pakistan – to do so.

Evans, Kawaguchi and their partners are aiming at a practical solution. They write: “Recognizing the reality that the three nuclear-armed states now outside the NPT – India, Pakistan and Israel – are not likely to become members any time soon, every effort should be made to achieve their participation in parallel instruments and arrangements which apply equivalent non-proliferation and disarmament obligations.”

The most creative idea in the report is this establishment of a parallel structure, the meaning of which is recognition of the atom’s settlement blocs – a next-generation NPT…

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Australian-Japanese Report Provides General Overview of Disarmament & Nonproliferation Issues

Posted by K.E. White on December 21, 2009

A new report provides detailed and wide-ranging recommendations to halt the spread of nuclear weapons. Sponsored by the Japanese and Australian governments, the report seeks to influence ongoing preparations for the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty next summer.

The report also comes before a nuclear security summit hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama next April.

Without a chance to read it, for now I’ll offer this critique from Greg Sheridan at The Australian:

In its political analysis, the report often seems to exist in a kind of parallel universe, where all states pay attention to the UN and do just as they’re told and all disagreements are solved by negotiation. That may be a laudable end, but pretending the world is like that does not help policy-makers take sensible decisions.

More generally, he argues that nuclear disarmament will be possible when even the prospect of major war is unthinkable. Well, yes, I suppose if you’ve achieved total world peace you may be able to negotiate nuclear weapons away. But for the next 1000 years or so we’ll still have to grapple with them.

Evans is very taken with the idea that all states possessing nuclear weapons should declare that their only purpose for having them is to deter other nations from attacking them or their allies with nukes. Yet he recognises that the “no first use” declaration of the old Soviet Union was “almost universally dismissed as purely a propaganda exercise”, and that similar statements by other powers are greeted with cynicism. Therefore, he says, “it may be better to settle in the first instance for a different formulation of essentially the same idea”. That, sadly, just about sums up this report: a different formulation of some very tired and unrealistic ideas.

The report is often very confusing. It states baldly that the problems of North Korea and Iran’s nuclear programs can be solved by negotiation, without the slightest evidence of this being true. Evans states that the Iran situation looks unlikely “to be resolved by the further application of coercive sanctions”.

The report takes the mistaken standard international left line against national missile defence, even while asserting that theatre missile defence is a good thing, and acknowledging that you can’t really distinguish one from the other. And on and on. This report serves certain bureaucratic and even political ends. It does nothing for nuclear disarmament.

And Sheridan isn’t alone. This Times of India article expresses India’s frustration with the report.

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