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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

18 July 2002

"U.S. Approaches to Nonproliferation," by John Wolf

(John Wolf discusses U.S. nonproliferation challenges) (2060)
(The following article by Assistant Secretary of State for
Nonproliferation John Wolf appeared in the latest issue of "U.S.
Foreign Policy Agenda" devoted to the topic "Weapons of Mass
Destruction: The New Strategic Framework." This article and the rest
of the electronic journal, which was published on July 18, may be
viewed on the Web at:
http://usinfo.state.gov/journals/itps/0702/ijpe/ijpe0702.htm. There
are no republication restrictions.)
U.S. Approaches to Nonproliferation
By John S. Wolf
(Denying proliferators WMD technology and expertise is "a central
framing element" of U.S. nonproliferation policy, says Assistant
Secretary of State for Nonproliferation John Wolf. He sees the key
U.S. challenges as: reducing and ceasing WMD materials production;
stopping Iran's acquisition of WMD and missiles; stopping nuclear and
missile proliferation in and from South Asia; strengthening export
controls, especially on Iraq; and strengthening the International
Atomic Energy Agency.)
"Every nation ... must take seriously the growing threat of terror on
a catastrophic scale -- terror armed with biological, chemical, or
nuclear weapons.... Some states that sponsor terror are seeking or
already possess weapons of mass destruction; terrorist groups are
hungry for these weapons, and would use them without a hint of
conscience.... In preventing the spread of weapons of mass
destruction, there is no margin for error, and no chance to learn from
mistakes. Our coalition must act deliberately, but inaction is not an
option." (President George W. Bush, speaking on the six-month
anniversary of the September 11 attacks)
Marshalling international efforts to deny proliferators the material,
equipment, expertise, and technology necessary to pursue weapons of
mass destruction (WMD) and the means to deliver them has long been a
priority of the U.S. government. But the terrorist attacks last
September 11 and the subsequent anthrax deaths spurred a new sense of
urgency in the fight against proliferation. What the president was
making clear is that this effort is not just one of many foreign
policy challenges; it is a central framing element, and we must win.
What is clear, too, is that our challenge has grown in complexity as
WMD and missile technology has proliferated. Today's threat is shaped
by non-state as well as by state actors, including extremists who will
not hesitate to use WMD if they can get their hands on them.
We also must be concerned by the increase in regional instability that
comes from the spread of WMD and their delivery systems. It is true in
the Middle East; it is true in East Asia; and it is most clearly true
today in South Asia. Moreover, WMD and missiles constitute a clear and
direct threat to U.S. forces deployed around the world, as well as to
our allies and friends.
Our first priority has to be security against WMD and missile use,
development, deployment, and export. With that in mind, let me offer
my views of key global nonproliferation challenges and steps we are
taking to address them.
Reduce and stop production of WMD materials
Dealing with the large quantities of excess WMD systems and related
material, technology, and expertise in the former Soviet Union
continues to be our most immediate challenge and highest
nonproliferation priority. The United States is pursuing a wide array
of cooperative programs in Russia and the new Eurasian republics. Our
objective is not only to help them meet their arms control
obligations, but also to control and dispose of excess WMD materials
-- in particular excess nuclear weapon materials -- and to ensure that
nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and missile expertise does
not leak to states of concern and terrorist organizations.
To these ends, the United States is working to: speed up material
protection, control, and accounting programs at up to 40 sites in the
former Soviet Union to reduce vulnerabilities of fissile materials;
secure material in fewer, consolidated sites; and dispose of fissile
materials declared excess to defense needs. We have further reinforced
efforts to permanently shut down Russia's three remaining reactors
producing weapon-grade plutonium. We are working with Russia and
allies to develop more cost-effective programs to dispose of excess
weapon-grade plutonium, and working with Kazakhstan to secure 300
metric tons of spent fuel -- containing three tons of weapon-grade
plutonium -- from its BN-350 breeder reactor.
Another priority is securing dangerous biological pathogens in the
former Soviet Union and resuming assistance to destroy chemical weapon
stockpiles in Russia. The United States is concerned about the rate at
which Russia is moving to comply with its obligations under the
Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and the Chemical Weapons
Convention (CWC). We are searching to find common ground with Russia
on this issue. We are also committed to the scientist redirection
programs at the Science Centers in Moscow and Kiev, which are designed
to prevent former Soviet weapons experts from providing WMD and
missile expertise to proliferators and terrorists.
Stop Iran's acquisition of WMD and missiles
The proliferation threat posed by Iran is stark and multifaceted. Iran
has an ambitious nuclear program, longstanding chemical/biological
programs, and a rapidly increasing ballistic missile program. At the
same time it is a leading exporter of support for terrorist groups.
Iran is actively seeking to develop and improve all aspects of its WMD
and missile programs. Its clandestine effort to produce fissile
material is a particular worry. We should be under no illusions: Iran
is intent on acquiring nuclear weapons and is actively seeking the
foreign assistance it needs to achieve this objective.
We continue to have an active dialogue with Russia on this issue. In
our dialogue, we are forced to juxtapose those broad areas of
cooperation that have developed over the past year-and-a-half as a
result of meetings between Presidents George Bush and Vladimir Putin
with Russia's continued assistance to Iran on missiles, sensitive
nuclear technology, and advanced conventional weapons. We are working
hard to convince Russia that cooperation with Iran on missile- and
nuclear-related technology and destabilizing conventional weapons is a
threat both to regional stability and to Russia's own security
interests. Meanwhile we are working to ensure that China and other
countries do not step in to replace Russia as a supplier of WMD- and
missile-related technologies to Iran. Stopping North Korea's
missile-related exports to Iran and elsewhere is a key part of the
agenda we wish to pursue with Pyongyang.
Stop nuclear and missile proliferation in and from South Asia
The threat that WMD and missile programs pose to regional stability is
nowhere more evident than in South Asia, where one million troops face
off on the India-Pakistan border. The presence of WMD and missiles in
the region has increased dramatically the danger of miscalculation
during times of crisis, and the resulting regional instability
magnifies the risk of these weapons falling into the hands of
terrorists. Yet there is no near-term prospect of getting India and
Pakistan to relinquish their nuclear weapons and missiles.
While the recent sharp escalation in tension between India and
Pakistan has reminded us all of the pressing danger of unchecked
proliferation, it is not yet clear that Pakistan and India have drawn
the right conclusions from this crisis about the dangers their WMD and
missiles pose. We hope that confidence-building measures like keeping
weapons and delivery systems separated, halting fissile material
production, and restraining nuclear and missile programs can be
implemented. Tightened export controls are also vital to ensure that
India and Pakistan do not become sources of, or transshipment points
for, sensitive materials and technology.
Strengthen export controls, including on Iraq
All efforts to secure existing WMD- and missile-related items will be
futile if we are not able to cut off the flow of arms and sensitive
WMD/missile technologies through strengthened export controls. We
urgently need to strengthen the implementation and effective
enforcement of export controls on a multilateral basis and add
terrorism to the scope of their coverage. Without broad cooperation
among export and transit countries, sensitive dual-use items and
technologies cannot be effectively controlled. Adherence to the
guidelines and control lists of the multilateral export control
regimes is vital to the success of our nonproliferation efforts. To
help, the United States is expanding its Export Control and Related
Border Security Assistance cooperation with other countries,
particularly those in Central Asia, to help them strengthen their
controls. But even with well-intentioned laws, it is essential that
governments commit to vigorous enforcement and exemplary judicial
action for those caught violating controls.
Strengthening and enforcement of export controls is particularly
important in the case of Iraq. Iraq flaunts its hostility to the
world; remains in violation of its U.N. and Nuclear Weapons
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligations; supports terrorism; and
has continued to pursue WMD, missile, and conventional military
programs in contravention of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
In May 2002 the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution
1409, which puts in place new U.N. export controls on Iraq that focus
on denying Iraq the wherewithal to reconstitute its weapons programs.
By freeing up trade in goods for purely civilian use while maintaining
controls on militarily useful items, this system makes clear that the
international community interposes no obstacles to efforts to assist
the Iraqi people.
Strengthen the International Atomic Energy Agency
Mindful of the world's near miss with Iraq, and of new risks from
countries like Iran and North Korea, we must improve and fund
effective safeguards on nuclear power users and the ability of the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to ferret out covert weapons
efforts. The Additional Safeguards Protocol sets an important new
nonproliferation norm that every country should accept. The IAEA also
has a central role in verifying the Agreed Framework with North Korea.
But carrying out new tasks requires more resources. We need to ensure
that the IAEA gets the financial, technical, and political support
that it needs. The Board of Governors endorsed proposals to strengthen
and expand IAEA programs for the worldwide protection of nuclear
materials, radioactive sources, and nuclear facilities against acts of
terrorism. The United States strongly supports those initiatives and
is urging member states to ensure that the IAEA has the resources
needed to put them into practice.
Strengthening the IAEA is part of our overarching goal of
strengthening international agreements, arrangements, and
organizations devoted to nonproliferation and of strengthening
compliance measures. It should be clear that the United States places
great importance on multilateral efforts to control WMD and
technologies, but I want to emphasize this point. The United States is
strongly committed to the existing international nonproliferation
treaties, including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Chemical
Weapons Convention, and Biological Weapons Convention, as well as to
nonproliferation regimes like the Zangger Committee, the Nuclear
Suppliers Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Wassenaar
Arrangement, and the Australia Group.
September 11 has given a new sense of urgency to a danger that we all
have been concerned about for some time, and in that sense it provides
an opportunity. The scope of those attacks has underlined the need to
take vigorous action now to end the possibility that terrorist groups
or rogue states could launch even more devastating attacks in the
future. Proliferation of WMD and missiles is an urgent and profound
threat to the security of all states and requires urgent action.
-- All states should elevate security against WMD and missile
proliferation to an overarching imperative that trumps other,
secondary considerations.
-- Suppliers of WMD- and missile-related technology should end such
cooperation now. Security against WMD and ballistic missile attacks is
a first-order imperative on which there should be no compromise.
-- All states should strengthen nonproliferation regimes such as the
Nuclear Suppliers Group.
-- Nations should immediately secure their WMD and missiles to the
highest possible extent and help other states that lack the resources
to do likewise.
-- Similarly, states should immediately increase the effectiveness of
their export control systems and assist other states to the same end.
The United States appreciates the cooperation and assistance the world
community has shown since September 11. We hope now to build on that
cooperation to move forward in strengthening nonproliferation efforts
across the board. We have had clear warning of the enormous danger
posed by WMD and missile proliferation. Now it is incumbent on us all
to act decisively.
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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