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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Nuclear Asia

Edited by Joseph Ferguson, Gael Tarleton.

May 2004

Brief Synopsis

On March 18-19, 2004, in Seattle, Washington, the National Bureau of Asian Research, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, U.S. Army War College, Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Energy, Nuclear Threat Initiative, and the Ploughshares Fund co-sponsored a conference to explore the complex topics of nuclear proliferation, regional and global terrorism, and the state of nonproliferation regimes in Asia. The conference drew representatives from government, academe, and nonprofit research institutions from the United States and Asia. This event was an opportunity for policymakers, security analysts, nuclear scientists and engineers, regional experts, and military planners to share perspectives and identify those issues requiring new solutions as the international community prepares for the 2005 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review.

Key Points:

• Nuclear weapons are here to stay in China, India, Pakistan, and North Korea.
• The nuclear proliferation networks are in place. Shutting down A.Q. Khan’s network in Pakistan did not necessarily eliminate the networks.
• The nuclear proliferation networks intersect with other criminal networks—in drug trafficking, human trafficking, and other organized crime networks.
• The networks that support the terrorist groups in Asia are probably intersecting with the networks that facilitate trade between suppliers and consumers in nuclear proliferation trade.
• The terrorist networks may be comprised principally of nonstate actors, but they operate in environments where the state actors may condone or at least tolerate their presence, so any policies or security regimes directed at intercepting or disrupting the terrorist networks must manage the relationship with the state actors involved.
• Many of the Asian states are further developing their bilateral relations with their Asian neighbors to address their mutual security concerns--they are not waiting for a regional, multilateral solution. China, Japan, India and Pakistan are the most notable examples.
• All of the Asian states want to ensure that regional trade and economic development can proceed at a pace that allows them to meet their economic development goals. Export controls cannot be seen as “trade inhibitors.” But if adopting common standards allows export controls to become “trade enhancers”—where nations are viewed as reliable trade partners not engaged in dangerous behavior—then these countires have been open to adopting export control systems that advance their economic interests.

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