Bomb Scare, by Cirincione, Joseph
- ISBN: 9780231135115 | 0231135114
- Cover: Paperback
- Copyright: 7/31/2008
|List of Figures and Tables||p. vii|
|Building the Bomb||p. 1|
|Controlling the Bomb||p. 14|
|Racing with the Bomb||p. 21|
|Why States Want Nuclear Weapons-and Why They Don't||p. 47|
|Today's Nuclear World||p. 84|
|The New U.S. Policy||p. 110|
|The Good News About Proliferation||p. 125|
|Nuclear Solutions||p. 139|
|Afterword: The Shape of Things to Come||p. 158|
|Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.|
From the Chapter "Nuclear Solutions"
SOLVING PROBLEM 3: PREVENTING NEW STATES
Most of the news, debate and discussion of nonproliferation problems have focused in recent years on the two or three states suspected of developing new weapon programs. In part, this is because the overthrow of these governments, particularly in the Middle East, has overlapped with other political and security agendas. The war in Iraq was only partially about eliminating Saddam Hussein's weapons capability, though that was the major justi?cation for the war. As former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz famously admitted, "For bureaucratic reasons we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on."
The crises with Iran and North Korea are serious, but proliferation problems cannot be solved one country at a time. As the Carnegie study notes:
Attempting to stem nuclear proliferation crisis by crisis -- from Iraq, to North Korea, to Iran, et cetera -- ultimately invites defeat. As each deal is cut, it sets a new expectation for the next proliferator. Regime change by force in country after country is neither right nor realistic. The United States would bankrupt and isolate itself, all the while convincing additional countries that nuclear weapons would be their only protection. A more systematic approach that prevents states within the NPT from acquiring the nuclear infrastructure needed to produce nuclear weapons is the only real sustainable option.
While the specifics and politics vary from country to country, a comprehensive, multidimensional approach is needed for all the threats we face from new nations acquiring weapons. Iran, by far the most di?cult of the cases, can serve as a model of how such an approach could work.
Think for a moment about what it will take to convince the current or future Iranian government to abandon plans to build between six and twenty nuclear power reactors and all the facilities needed to make and reprocess the fuel for these reactors. Plans to do so predate the Islamic Republic. The United States, in fact, provided Iran with its ?rst research reactor in the late 1960s (it is still operating at the University of Tehran) and encouraged Iran in its nuclear pursuits. In the 1970s this encouragement included agreement by senior of?cials such as Henry Kissinger, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Richard Cheney that Iran could develop indigenous facilities for enriching uranium and for reprocessing the spent fuel from nuclear reactors. Then-ruler Shah Reza Pahlavi developed plans to build 22 nuclear power reactors with an electrical output of 23,000 megawatts. Iran's current leaders say they are merely continuing these plans.
Whatever its true intentions, it will not be easy to convince Iran that while it could proceed with construction of power reactors, the country must abandon construction of fuel-manufacturing facilities. It will likely require both the threat of sanctions and the promise of the economic benefits of cooperation.
This is the package of carrots and sticks that made up the negotiations between the European Union and Iran. Calibrating the right balance in this mix is difficult enough, but the package itself is probably not sufficient to seal a deal. In 2005 and early 2006, the hard-line government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad further complicated the issue with its harsh rhetorical insistence on proceeding with the nuclear plans and pointed threats to Israel. While the rhetoric may eventually fade, at the core, Iran or any country's reasons for wanting its own fuel cycle capabilities are similar to the reasons some countries want nuclear weapons: security, prestige and domestic political pressures. All of these will have to be addressed in order to craft a permanent solution.
Part of the security equation can be addressed by the prospect of a new relationship with the United States that ends regime change efforts. Iran would need some assurances that agreements on the nuclear program could end efforts by the United States and Israel to remove the current regime. The United States has told North Korea that it has no hostile intentions toward the state and that an end to that country's program would lead to the restoration of diplomatic relations. Similar assurances will be needed for Iran. But there is also a regional dimension. Ending the threat from an Iranian nuclear program will require placing the Iranian decision in the context of the long-standing U.S. goal of a Middle East free of nuclear weapons. It will be impossible for a country as important as Iran to abstain permanently from acquiring the technologies for producing nuclear weapons—at least as a hedge—if other countries in the region have them (the dynamic noted by the 1961 National Intelligence Estimate decades ago). Iran's leaders will want some assurances that there is a process under way that can remove what they see as potential threats from their neighbors, including Israel. For domestic political reasons, they will want to present their nuclear abstinence as part of a movement toward a shared and balanced regional commitment.
Many readers might throw up there hands at this point. "Israel, give up its nuclear weapons? Impossible!" But such nuclear-free zones have been created in other regions which, though not as intensely contested as the Middle East, still had to overcome substantial rivalries and which saw the abandonment of existing programs (in South America) and the dismantlement of actual weapons (in Africa and Central Asia). Little diplomatic effort has been put behind the declared U.S. policy in recent years—certainly nothing on the scale of the effort Republican and Democrats needed to create the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and its support mechanisms in the 1960s and 1970s.
Ridding the region of nuclear weapons will, of course, be difficult, but it is far better than the alternative of a Middle East with not one nuclear power (Israel) but two, three, or four nuclear weapon states—and with unresolved territorial, religious, and political disputes. The latter is a recipe for nuclear war. The key issue is to get the process going, so that states in the region can have some viable alternative to the pessimistic view that the Middle East will never be nuclear free. A distinguished group of twenty nuclear experts representing a cross-section of national and political views recommended in 2005 that part of the solution to a "nuclear-ready Iran" was to encourage Israel to initiate a "Middle East nuclear restraint effort" that would begin by shutting down the Israeli production reactor at Dimona. Israel, the group convened by the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center said, should then show that it was willing to take further steps, including dismantling all its missile-producing facilities and handing over control of its weapons-usable missile material to the IAEA, as long as other states in the region did the same.
In order for this plan or any similar plan to succeed, there will have to be a concurrent e?ort to change fundamentally the way nuclear fuel is produced and reprocessed. Doing so would satisfy a nation's security considerations that it does not have to build its own facilities in order to have a secure supply of fuel for its reactors. Some Iranians see the current negotiations as a new effort by the West to place them, once again, in a dependent relationship. This time the West would not control their oil, they say, but the energy of the future, nuclear fuel. Iran, indeed any nation, will not permanently acquiesce to a discriminatory regime that adds to the existing inequality—allowing some countries to have nuclear weapons while others cannot—by now allowing some countries to make nuclear fuel while others cannot.
As detailed in the previous section, reforming the current system will require overcoming billions of dollars worth of corporate and national investments and core national commitments to the present methods of producing and disposing of nuclear fuel. Thorough reform, however, is the only sure way to prevent more and more nations from acquiring the technology that can bring them—legally—right up to the threshold of nuclear weapons capability.
The key is to begin moving in this direction. A first step could be crafting with Iran a compromise agreement that would allow some processing of uranium to take place inside Iran, for example converting uranium to the gas used in centrifuges, but shipping the gas to Russia for enrichment and fabrication into fuel rods. The Iranian government could declare that it was using Iranian uranium to fuel Iranian reactors, but the world would have kept Iran from constructing the facilities that would bring it close to weapons capability. This interim step could hold for several years as a more permanent fuel supply regime was constructed.
Finally, these discussions must take place in a world where nuclear weapons are being devalued as measures of security, status, and technical achievement. Just as it is fruitless for parents to try to convince their children not to smoke while they are reveling in a two-pack-a-day habit, it will be impossible for other nations to refrain permanently from acquiring nuclear weapons while they remain the currency of great power status. As the Carnegie authors concluded, "The core bargain of the NPT, and of global nonproliferation politics, can neither be ignored nor wished away. It underpins the international security system and shapes the expectations of citizens and leaders around the world."
Breaking the nuclear habit will not be easy, but there are ways to minimize the unease some may feel as they are weaned away from dependence on these weapons. The United States and Russia account for over 95 percent of the world's nuclear weapons. The two nations have such redundant nuclear capability that it would not compromise any vital security interests to quickly reduce down to General Habiger's recommended level of 600 total warheads each. Further reductions and the possibility of complete elimination could then be examined in detailed papers prepared by and for the nuclear weapon states. If accompanied by reaffirmation of the ban on nuclear testing, removal of all weapons from rapid-launch alert status, establishment of a firm norm against the first use of these weapons, and commitments to make the reductions in weapons irreversible and verifiable, the momentum and example generated could fundamentally alter the global dynamic.
Such an effort would hearken back to the early Truman proposals that coupled weapons elimination with strict, veri?ed enforcement of nonproliferation. Dramatic reductions in nuclear forces could be joined, for example, with reforms making it more difficult for countries to withdraw from the NPT (by clarifying that no state may withdraw from the treaty and escape responsibility for prior violations of the treaty or retain access to controlled materials and equipment acquired for "peaceful" purposes). It would make it easier to obtain national commitments to stop the illegal transfer of nuclear technologies and reform the fuel cycle. The reduction in the number of weapons and the production of nuclear materials would also greatly decrease the risk of terrorists acquiring such materials.
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