- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 30, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

COMMENTARY:

In an article in the Dec. 8 issue of Defense News, we advocated a change to a new multifaceted, multinational policy for dealing with nuclear security in the changed world. We do not believe the old policy of mutual assured destruction, MAD, that underpinned nuclear deterrence in the past will alone continue to be effective in a world of proliferated nuclear capabilities.

The new MARS policy has to encompass many different issues that interplay with the complex subject of national and international security in a nuclear proliferated world. Anyone who doubts the likelihood of further proliferation should read a new book, “The Nuclear Express: A Political History of the Bomb and its Proliferation” by Thomas Reed and Danny Stillman.

The importance of moles, of scientists with divided loyalties, and the interests of current nuclear states in proliferation activities is documented. The authors conclude that despite claims to the contrary, no nation has developed a nuclear weapon on its own. All received assistance from individuals, or other states. These scientists for sale are still out there.

There are two international treaties that apply specifically to nuclear proliferation, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, NPT initiated in 1968, and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, CTBT of 1996. Other agreements attempt to prevent export of nuclear material and equipment to unsafeguarded nuclear fuel-cycle or nuclear explosive activities. Despite these restrictions India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea have now joined the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council as recognized nuclear weapon states. South Africa built and has since dismantled nuclear warheads and Iran is suspected of developing a warhead capability. The new MARS policy has to maintain and enhance the existing agreements, while also encompassing activities to provide defenses against attacks if proliferation continues, even extending to terrorist groups’ acquisition of warheads. success will be highly dependent on developing an improved relationship between the existing nuclear capable nations.

A further complication bound to arise at the forthcoming review of the CTBT in 2010 is the clear desire of all the current nuclear nations to retain nuclear weapons in their national arsenals.

Conclusions that can be drawn from these findings are that despite a lack of policy as to how and under what conditions nuclear weapons might be used in the future, they will remain an important component of several nations’ security posture. However, the lack of willingness of the British, French and American governments to authorize funding for new nuclear warheads, despite recognition that the present stockpiles are aging, indicates how urgently a new policy is required.

It was noted earlier that all five permanent members of the Security Council - China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States - are each reported to be considering the need for new nuclear warheads. If that is so, they all face the same two major problems - how to justify production of a new warhead and whether to put an untested warhead into service or to find a way to test their devices despite the restrictions of the CTBT. This situation cries out for an international solution.

In attempting to identify an international policy for retention of nuclear warheads, a decision has to be made whether to restrict initial discussions to the five original nuclear powers or to admit the other nations. Broadening membership beyond the original five will be exceedingly difficult. Israel has never formally acknowledged it has the weapon, ongoing efforts are under way to convince North Korea to dismantle its own capability though six-power talks broke down again in December 2008, and Pakistan has gone nuclear to counter Indian possession. On these grounds alone, it may seem reasonable to try to reach agreement initially between the original five.

Certainly all five can agree that their desire to retain their nuclear warheads is to deter an aggressor, or if necessary to retaliate against any nation that attacks them. So there is a basis for their coming together despite the remaining mistrust between them. Adding urgency is the current concern about future energy supplies that are certain to encourage several more countries to seek nuclear reactors for power generation. This will increase the risk of diversion of material into a weapons program. As noted previously there are significant numbers of scientists willing to assist in a covert weapons program. The five powers should have a strong common interest in preventing diversion whilhttps://margaret11.newsworld.net/admin/news/stories/352541/#e retaining their own weapons as a last resort.

The events of the last few years, particularly the inability so far to stop the Iranian weapons program, demonstrate clearly the need for unified rather than unilateral action. Statements by individual leaders that the acquisition of a nuclear warhead capability by Iran is unacceptable ring hollow when all five nations are not on board. Pre-emption to prevent acquisition of nuclear weapons has become a far less likely tactic after the Iraq experience.

Bringing all five leading nuclear weapon states together will not be easy, but the stakes are so high that every effort must be made to try to find a common purpose. It represents the first stage of a MARS policy by forcing each of these leading world powers to assess where they are now and how they wish to move forward. Each nation will have its own agenda and concerns regarding the real objectives of the other prospective partners.

Real diplomacy is called for in making this first important step. Despite the concerns about the economy, the incoming Obama administration must give high priority to this issue. The security of the nation rests on it.

Stanley Orman is a former undersecretary of state in the United Kingdom. Eugene Fox is a retired U.S. Army major general.


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