Universal Nonproliferation Regime Compliance: The Relative Success of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime

Christopher Hurtado —  October 30, 2010 — Leave a comment
Universal Nonproliferation Regime Compliance: The Relative Success of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime | Christopher Hurtado

Introduction

Is there one nonproliferation regime among the four (nuclear, chemical, biological, or missile) that has been more successful in reaching the goal of universal compliance? If so, why, in comparison to the other nonproliferation regimes, has it been the most effective and what aspects of it have contributed to its effectiveness? In contrast to the other three nonproliferation regimes, what are the normative and legal basis of this regime that distinguish it from the others? To what does this nonproliferation regime owe the effectiveness of the mechanisms established to implement its compliance verification efforts in contrast with the other three regimes?

All four of the nonproliferation regimes (nuclear, chemical, biological, or missile) have faced noncompliance challenges, verification challenges, normative challenges, and legal challenges. Each of the nonproliferation regimes has demonstrated successes and failures and/or strengths and weakness in the face of each of these challenges. Nevertheless, one of the nonproliferation regimes stands out from the other three. The nuclear nonproliferation regime has been the most successful of the four nonproliferation regimes in reaching the goal of universal compliance.

Normative and Legal Challenges

Nuclear Normative and Legal Challenges

The NPT does not specify how the IAEA is to verify that a NNWS is not diverting nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or explosives. Instead states model bilateral agreements with the IAEA based on INFCIRC/153 to establish the legal foundation for nuclear safeguards. This led to the failure of the IAEA to detect Iraq’s clandestine nuclear weapons program. The IAEA also failed to detect nuclear weapons related R&D activities in Iran and North Korea. The IAEA’s legal authority to investigate weaponization activity not directly linked to nuclear material is limited (Hart, and Fedchenko 100).

Chemical Normative and Legal Challenges

As of mid-2008, the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (ODA) had not finalized technical guidelines and procedures for the investigation of alleged CBW use (Hart, and Fedchenko 102). Unresolved CWC verification inspection issues include the determination of the “endpoint” of CW destruction,  methods for sampling and analysis, and tagging of munition procedures. Some parties contend that the disclosures of other parties are incomplete. The challenge is to “ensure that toxic chemicals held by the states … are consistent with law enforcement purposes.” (Hart, and Fedchenko 103).

Biological Normative and Legal Challenges

Parties to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) are not required to submit annual legally binding declarations to demonstrate their compliance with the treaty. There are also no OSIs nor a BWC inspectorate to investigate alleged CW use or other compliance concerns. Some legislation regarding the implementation of the BWC is incomplete, resulting in inadequate oversight. BWC review conference negotiations do not address actual compliance concerns, tending instead toward institutional processes to better address possible concerns (Hart, and Fedchenko 102-103).

Missile Normative and Legal Challenges

Important suppliers refuse to fully participate in the MTCR. Additionally, its cartel-like nature lends the MTCR a discriminatory appearance, resulting in illegitimacy in the eyes of outsiders. Finally, the MTCR is impeded by the commercial space-launch interests of its members and non-members (Barletta).

Normative and Legal Challenges Conclusion

The nuclear nonproliferation regime has adapted to its failure to detect secret nuclear weapons programs under nuclear safeguard agreements based on INFCIRC/153 through additional protocol (AP) agreements based on INFCIRC/540. These enhance the agency’s ability to detect undeclared nuclear activities and the diversion of declared nuclear materials. Furthermore, the AP allows IAEA inspectors access to undeclared facilities as well to sites adjacent to declared facilities and environmental sampling to detect nuclear weapons related R&D (Hart, and Fedchenko 100).

Verification Challenges

Nuclear Verification Challenges

The same technology used for a peaceful nuclear energy program can be used for a nuclear weapons program. (Hart, and Fedchenko 98).  US and Israeli intelligence have warned that Iran may have a secret nuclear weapons program despite being an NPT NNWS signatory. However, it is very difficult to confirm this (Barletta, and Tarzi).

Chemical Verification Challenges

It is possible to develop chemical weapons in hiding with little to no outside evidence. A program in its infancy can be hidden in a small area inside a single building (Hart, and Fedchenko 97-98). There are also ambiguities when it comes to CW program indicators due to questions about how to put the CWC general purpose criterion (GPC) into practice (Hart, and Fedchenko 98-99).

Biological Verification Challenges

It is also possible to develop biological weapons in hiding with little to no outside evidence and a program in its infancy can be hidden in a small area inside a single building. Additionally, biological agents do not have to be put into munitions until shortly before their intended use. Normally, state-run biological weapons programs rely on standby production capacity rather than stockpiling munitions (Hart, and Fedchenko 97-98). There are also ambiguities when it comes to BW program indicators due to questions about how to put the BWC GPC into practice (Hart, and Fedchenko 98-99).

Missile Verification Challenges

The ability to enforce the MTCR is hampered by the lack of “an implementing agency” to enforce verification (Barletta). In fact, the MTCR is more the beginnings of a regime than and actual regime. Furthermore, the MTCR only deals with export controls. It does not deal with disarmament (Mistry 19).

Verification Challenges Conclusion

Although the dual-use dilemma presents real challenges to the nuclear nonproliferation regime, it nonetheless faces fewer verification challenges than do the other three regimes. Additionally, the nuclear nonproliferation regime possesses the most robust verification system.

Noncompliance Challenges

Nuclear Noncompliance Challenges

Iraq pretended to comply with the NPT while secretly developing nuclear weapons. It is widely suspected that Iran may be doing the same thing with aid from Russia. The United States accepts Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons and unwillingness to sign the NPT(Barletta, and Tarzi). India and Pakistan tested nuclear devices in 1998 (Cirincione, Wolfsthal, and Rajkumar 8) and North Korea did the same in 2006 (Pollack 264). That nuclear weapons states have only made limited progress toward disarmament under the NPT raises doubts about its legitimacy. Furthermore, U.S. reliance on nuclear weapons to counter biological and chemical weapons legitimates nuclear weapons possession and undermines negative security assurances (Barletta, and Tarzi).

Chemical Noncompliance Challenges

In the Middle East, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Libya, and Syria have all produced chemical weapons and all but Israel and Syria have used them to attack neighboring countries. Additionally, Iraq used them on its own population (Barletta, and Tarzi). The international community responded with mere rhetorical opposition to Iraq’s use of chemical weapons while  continuing  aid for its conventional and military WMD procurement (Barletta, and Tarzi).

Biological Noncompliance Challenges

China, Egypt, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Russia, and Syria are all suspected of having biological weapons programs. China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia are all BWC members. Though most of these programs are believed to be R&D programs, Russia is known to have produced and stockpiled BW agents and China, Iran, Israel and North Korea are believed to have done so.(Cirincione, Wolfsthal, and Rajkumar 10, 423-4).

Missile Noncompliance Challenges

In the Middle East alone, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen have all used ballistic missiles and Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Syria, and, foremost among them, the United States, have all used cruise missiles. Russian firms have provided aid to Iran’s missile program. (Barletta, and Tarzi). “The pace, scope, and sophistication of missile proliferation appears to be simply outstripping the MTCR” (Barletta).

Noncompliance Challenges Conclusion

Despite the challenges it faces, the near universal membership in the NPT and its permanent, indefinite extension, the near global blanket of nuclear-weapon-free zones (NWFZs) and the fact that more states have given up nuclear weapons under the NPT than are actively pursuing them all strengthen the norm of nuclear nonproliferation. Another strength to this regime is the completion of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) (Sands).

Conclusion

Although all four of the nonproliferation regimes have faced a multitude of challenges, the nuclear nonproliferation regime has been the most successful of the four in reaching the goal of universal compliance. Its relative success is due in no small part to its ability to adapt to challenges. In 2006, the nuclear nonproliferation regime considered two documents, the first of which listed eleven recommendations for improvements to its safeguard systems including increased laboratory capabilities and an expanded list of materials it would require member states to declare under the AP. The second document suggested the increased use of satellite imagery (Hart, and Fedchenko 100). This is just one more example of how the nuclear nonproliferation regime continues to evolve.

Works Cited

Barletta, Michael. “CNS – CROSS-CUTTING CHALLENGES TO THE NONPROLIFERATION REGIMES.” James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS). James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), n.d. Web. 30 Oct 2010. http://cns.miis.edu/opapers/op3/barletta.htm.
Barletta, Michael, and Amin Tarzi. “CNS – CHALLENGES IN THE MIDDLE EAST TO NONPROLIFERATION REGIMES.” James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS). James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), n.d. Web. 30 Oct 2010. http://cns.miis.edu/opapers/op3/bartar.htm.
Cirincione, Joseph, Jon B. Wolfsthal, and Miriam Rajkumar. Deadly Arsenals: Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Threats. 2nd. Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2005. Print.
Hart, John, and Vitaly Fedchenko. “WMD Inspection and Verification Regimes: Political and Technical Challenges.” Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction: The Future of International Nonproliferation Policy. Ed. Nathan E. Busch & Daniel H. Joyner. Athens, Georgia: The University of Georgia Press, 2009. Print.
Mistry, Dinshaw. Containing Missile Proliferation: Strategic Technology, Security Regimes, and International Cooperation in Arms Control. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2003. Print.
Pollack, Jonathan D. “North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Program to 2015: Three Scenarios.” Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction: The Future of International Nonproliferation Policy. Ed. Nathan E. Busch & Daniel H. Joyner. Athens, Georgia: The University of Georgia Press, 2009. Print.
Sands, Amy. “CNS – THE NONPROLIFERATION REGIMES AT RISK.” James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS). James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), n.d. Web. 30 Oct 2010. http://cns.miis.edu/opapers/op3/sands.htm.

Christopher Hurtado

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Christopher Hurtado is President and CEO of Linguistic Solutions and Adjunct Instructor of Philosophy and Political Science at Utah Valley University. He holds a BA in Middle East Studies/Arabic and Philosophy and an MA in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies. He coauthored Vacation Spanish: A Survival Guide for Mexico, the Caribbean, Central & South America. He is married to children's book author and homeschool mom, Alysia Gonzalez. Together they have nine children. They are active in their church and in their community.

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