Click for next page ( 225


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 224
Non-Pro~iferation of Nucicar Weapons INTRODUCTION There is general agreement in the United States that the acquisition of nuclear weapons by additional states would be contrary to the secu- rity interests of the United States and the world at large. Most other states share this view. Despite this broad international consensus, the development of an effective regime to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons presents many difficult practical problems. This chapter dis- cusses the specific measures that presently contribute to the non-prolif- eration regime and the issues associated with them. The underlying issues associated with the proliferation of nuclear weapons have both political and technical dimensions, which are dis- cussed in the first part ofthis chapter. The motivation to acquire nuclear weapons reflects a state's deepest fears and ambitions. Given sufficient political incentives, most states could in time produce a nuclear weapon, if they obtain the necessary technical talent, know-how, and materials. A peaceful nuclear power program can provide many of the technical assets that could contribute to a nuclear weapons program. The technical component of the non-proliferation regime seeks either to deny critical technical assets to potential nuclear weapon states or to assure that these assets are only made available under safeguarded conditions. Technical controls alone, however, can delay but not prevent a state from obtaining a nuclear weapons capability if it judges this to be in its overriding political interest. The political component of the non- proliferation regime seeks to create both an international environment 224

OCR for page 224
NON-PROLIFERATION 225 and specifically targeted incentives and disincentives to discourage states from making this decision. At the end of World War IT the United States had a monopoly on nuclear weapons and held most ofthe related know-how and technology. Today there are five nuclear weapon states and many states with exten- sive nuclear power capabilities. The United States acting alone obvi- ously cannot prevent nuclear proliferation, since there are now many suppliers of nuclear equipment and materials and importers with many different political, economic, and military perspectives. Efforts to estab- lish an international non-proliferation regime therefore involve a com- plex of unilateral, bilateral, and multilateral undertakings. The practical problems associated with these efforts reflect the underlying issues and the priority that participating states are prepared to give to non-proliferation. The second part of this chapter briefly reviews the history of the proliferation problem and efforts to deal with it. The overlap of the technologies of peaceful nuclear power and nuclear weapons has created a potential conflict between worldwide interest in extending the benefits of nuclear power and concern over further prolif- eration of nuclear weapons. This dilemma underlies the continuing debate as to whether U.S. export policy should be based on "denial" of nuclear capabilities that might be used in a nuclear weapons program or on "constructive engagement" with other states developing nuclear power to encourage them to accept an international non-proliferation regime. The third section in this chapter reviews the development of these approaches and the rationales and issues involved with them. The Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America, which underlie the international non-proliferation regime, are efforts to catalyze and codify national decisions not to acquire nuclear weapons or assist others in doing so. The fourth part of this chapter addresses the role and future prospects of these treaties and identifies the principal issues that have arisen among the nuclear weapon states and the non-nuclear weapon states in defining and developing this international regime. International safeguards are the principal means of verifying compli- ance with the two major multinational non-proliferation treaties. Safe- guards are also the most common condition imposed on nuclear exports. They are therefore a particularly important tool for dealing with states that have not joined the international non-proliferation treaties. The fifth section of this chapter reviews the questions that have arisen over the application and effectiveness of these safeguards. A few states have insisted on remaining outside the international non-proliferation regime. The final section of this chapter addresses the

OCR for page 224
226 NUCLEAR ARMS CONTROL problems of constructively influencing these holdout states and of coor- dinating the efforts of other states that share the concerns of the United States about this problem. An examination of current approaches to non-proliferation demon- strates not only the difficulty and complexity ofthe problem but also the opportunities that do exist to slow, if not stop, the spread of nuclear weapons. Although several states appear to be seriously considering the development of nuclear weapons, a range of possible actions exists to deter this decision in each case. In 1964, when China joined the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and France as the fifth nuclear weapons state, few observers would have predicted that in the next 20 years only one other state would test a nuclear device and that, after the test, India would emphasize its "peaceful" purpose and apparently discontinue an active weapons program. THE NATURE OF THE RISK The Relationship of Proliferation to U.S. and International Security and Stability There is a broadly based international consensus that worldwide security and stability would be best served by limiting the number of states with an independent nuclear explosive capability. From the per- spective of the United States, this would have several advantages. Not only would it reduce the threat of nuclear weapons being used directly against the United States and its allies, but, more significantly, it would prevent the use of nuclear weapons in circumstances that might pro- voke nuclear retaliation against the United States or in local hostilities that might escalate into a broader nuclear war threatening the United States. An increase in the number of states with nuclear weapons, particu- larly those with unstable governments or limited capabilities for tech- nical controls, would increase the probability that nuclear weapons might be used by accident or miscalculation or that nuclear weapons might come under the control of irresponsible leaders. Further prolifer- ation would also increase the probability that weapons might be seized by dissident groups or stolen by terrorist organizations. In view of the complex of potential threats, further proliferation would also greatly complicate the military planning of the United States. These concerns about nuclear proliferation are not confined to the United States or even to states that already have nuclear weapons. Indeed, all states should have an interest in preventing the creation of

OCR for page 224
NON-PROLIFERATION 227 these potential threats to their security. States directly threatened by regional hostilities should have a particular interest in keeping nuclear weapons from being introduced into these conflicts. States without nu- clear weapons generally see the danger of the potential proliferation of nuclear weapons to their adversaries as outweighing the advantages of acquiring nuclear weapons or even the future option to produce them. The adherence of more than 120 states to treaties designed to support non-proliferation and the willingness of these states to pay the price of forswearing the future option of acquiring nuclear explosives demon- strates the widespread recognition of the international security advan- tages of a non-proliferation regime. Significantly, these states include most of the non-nuclear weapon states that could easily develop nuclear weapons. In each case, the state independently concluded that it would be against its overall security interests to undertake such a program or even maintain an option to do so. A small minority of states have been unwilling to accept this non- proliferation regime. However, none of these states has openly pro- cIaimed that it intends to develop an independent nuclear weapon capability. While some of these states have argued that the regime is blatantly discriminatory and offensive to their concept of national sov- ereignty, they have at most only implied that they were maintaining a future option to obtain nuclear weapons. Those few states that appear to be actively developing this option are clearly weighing its consequences very carefully. These consequences include the acceleration of nuclear weapon programs by their adversaries, the possibility of preemptive attacks, and competition with their own conventional military forces for scarce technical resources. Above all, these states must decide whether nuclear weapons are relevant to their actual defense needs. They must ask whether the nuclear option would not only fait to deter their adversaries but endanger their own survival. There have been a few proponents of the concept that the general proliferation of nuclear weapons would serve a useful purpose by ex- tending the concept of mutual nuclear deterrence to potential adversar- ies other than the present nuclear weapon states. They have suggested that the possession of nuclear weapons would engender a deeper sense of responsibility among leaders ofthose states. This notion has received very little support in the United States and has not become a major official argument even among the non-nuclear weapon states that are apparently developing a nuclear weapons option. In addition to the proliferation of nuclear weapon capabilities to more states, there is the frightening possibility of proliferation to subna- tional groups within states. This form of proliferation would most likely

OCR for page 224
228 NUCLEAR ARMS CONTROL occur by the direct seizure of existing nuclear weapons, but the con- struction of crude weapons from stolen weapons-grade fissionable mate- rial and available components cannot be completely ruled out. In the present nuclear weapon states, this threat may exist if weapons are deployed or stored at poorly protected sites and are inadequately se- cured against unauthorized use or where large quantities of weapons- gracle material exist. However, it would present a particular danger in potential nuclear weapon states that are unstable and contain subna- tional groups prepared to engage in terrorism. There are differences of opinion as to the actual extent of the nuclear threat from subnational groups. The ability of a subnational group to detonate a stolen weapon would depend on the state's technical precau- tions to secure its weapons against unauthorized use, precautions that in principle can be very effective. Presumably, these precautions would be least developed in a state that had not had time to develop technical sophistication in the control of its weapons. The seizure of fissionable material or production facilities by subna- tional groups is certainly a real possibility, but the fabrication of this material into a successful explosive, while conceivable, would in prac- tice be an extremely difficult technical task for such a group. However, even the claimed existence of a primitive device in credible circum- stances could be a powerful too! for blackmail. The Technical Problem The problem of controlling nuclear proliferation is greatly compli- cated by the overlap of underlying technologies needed for developing and producing nuclear weapons and peaceful nuclear power. At the outset of the nuclear age, some scientists believed that the dangers inherent in the proliferation of nuclear weapons were so great and the technologies so closely related that nuclear power should not be devel- oped at all. With the massive worldwide investment in nuclear power in the postwar period, the option of prohibiting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy has long been dead, if in fact it ever existed. The critical and indispensable ingredient of a nuclear explosive de- vice is either highly enriched uranium or separated plutonium. Highly enriched uranium is produced by separating the fissionable isotope uranium-235 from uranium-238 in enrichment plants by a variety of different processes. Plutonium, which is produced in a reactor when uranium-238 is irradiated with neutrons, becomes available in a form suitable for weapons when it is separated in a chemical reprocessing facility from the residual uranium and fission products. The underlying

OCR for page 224
NON-PROLIFERATION 229 technical problem arises because these materials and "sensitive" facili- ties with the capability to produce them can, and do, exist in nuclear power programs devoted entirely to peaceful purposes. Most current power reactors use low-enriched uranium, which is not suitable for weapons. However, some high-enriched uranium suitable for weapons can exist in peaceful programs as fuel for certain advanced power and research reactors. In any event, facilities that produce low-enriched uranium could in general be modified to produce high- enriched uranium or be used to feed other facilities to produce a highly enriched product. Plutonium is produced in all nuclear reactors fueled with natural or low-enriched uranium. Although it is not now economically advanta- geous to do so, this spent fuel can be reprocessed as part of a peaceful power program to separate the plutonium for reuse as fuel either in present generation power reactors or future fast breeder reactors. Re- processing can also facilitate the disposal process by separating radio- active waste products into a more manageable form. Although plutonium produced in a nuclear power plant optimized for power pro- duction would be much less desirable for weapons than plutonium pro- duced expressly for that purpose, it is now clear, contrary to earlier hopes, that the reprocessed plutonium could be used in weapons. Stimulated by unrealistically low estimates of the cost of nuclear power and by inflated projections of worldwide electric power consump- tion, a massive buildup and proliferation in uranium enrichment capac- ity occurred during the 1960s and 1970s. Moreover, the demand for nuclear power was confidently expected to be so great that the price of uranium, which was thought to be in short supply, would quickly rise to the point where reprocessed plutonium would be competitive with en- riched uranium for use in ordinary reactors. The anticipated need for reprocessed plutonium stimulated and legitimized worldwide interest in reprocessing facilities that could be built on a more modest scale than an enrichment facility. In this economic environment, the plutonium breeder reactor, which could efficiently exploit the full energy potential of uranium, seemed the next logical technical step despite its very high capital cost. The resulting "plutonium economy" based on plutonium reprocessing and plutonium breeder reactors would have resulted in vast quantities of plutonium at power reactors, reprocessing plants, and fuel fabrication plants and in transit domestically and internationally between these facilities. For example, the plutonium fuel load for a single plutonium breeder could contain enough plutonium to make 50 nuclear weapons. With plutonium recycled in existing thermal reactors, every power re-

OCR for page 224
230 NUCLEAR ARMS CONTROL actor would become a potential recipient of plutonium fuels. A pluto- nium economy would increase the opportunities for theft, seizure, or diversion of plutonium and make it more difficult to achieve safeguards in which a high degree of confidence could be placed. The drastic slowdown in the growth of nuclear power in recent years has caused a glut of natural and enriched uranium on the international market, and the projected plutonium economy has receded into the future. Domestically, the changed prospects in this area are dramati- cally illustrated by the termination of the Barnwell reprocessing plant and the Clinch River breeder reactor and by the increasingly uncertain future of the large new centrifuge uranium separation plant at Ports- mouth, Ohio. Nevertheless, in the longer term the basic proliferation problems inherent in the plutonium economy will have to be faced. Moreover, despite today's unfavorable economic prospects, many states, for a variety of reasons discussed later in this chapter, are still pursuing their earlier interest in sensitive facilities. In the International Nuclear Fuel Cycle Evaluation (INFCE) study, the Carter Administration undertook a major effort to engage the inter- national nuclear community in a critical review of the problems and prospects of the nuclear fuel cycle. The goal was to develop a consensus on the advisability of deferring dangerous developments in the nuclear fuel cycle that presupposed the early attainment of an international plutonium economy. Many of the INFCE participants, confident of the basic economic viability of the plutonium fuel cycle, opposed this posi- tion and refused to consider restructuring their approaches to nuclear power. However, the continued decline in the fortunes of domestic and international nuclear power since the 1980 INFCE report has raised further questions about arguments in favor of the current need for a plutonium fuel cycle. Consequently, despite the Tong history of interna- tional opposition to such efforts, the issue of whether the nuclear fuel cycle should be limited or restructured to build a more secure non- proliferation regime will probably remain active. The current situation, in which uranium enrichment services are in ample supply at reasonable prices and the electric power industry is eager to avoid taking further risks, holds out some prospect of avoiding or at least substantially deferring a worldwide plutonium economy. Plutonium recycled in existing reactors is now clearly uneconomical, and commercial fast breeder reactors are at best a future prospect in a few highly industrialized states. This economic reality should reduce the pressure for additional commercial reprocessing facilities. How- ever, it will not necessarily eliminate interest in small reprocessing plants for the declared purpose of gaining technical experience as a

OCR for page 224
NON-PROLIFERATION 231 hedge against another change in the economics of nuclear power. Nor will it eliminate the current risks posed by the problem states described later in this chapter, which have unsafeguarded enrichment and repro- cessing facilities already in existence or under construction. Although not an immediate problem, technological advances now under development, such as laser isotope separation, could complicate non-proliferation efforts in the future. Laser isotope separation might be used to produce highly enriched uranium in a single step, as opposed to the current multistage processes that can be more reliably dedicated to the production of only Tow-enriched uranium. It could also be used to remove the isotope plutonium-240, which has an undesirably high spon- taneous fission rate, from the plutonium in spent fuel from power reac- tors, improving the plutonium's utility for weapons purposes. If applied by non-nuclear weapon states to the accumulated spent fuel from their reactors, it could greatly enlarge the quantity and quality of weapons- usable material accessible to them. Laser isotope separation plants may also present a special monitoring problem, since they could be much smaller and less distinctive than the large gaseous diffusion plants or even production-size centrifuge plants. Once adequate quantities of enriched uranium or plutonium are available, the problem of fabricating a simple fission weapon should not prove too difficult for any state that has developed even a modest level of competence in the nuclear field. The basic design features of first gener- ation fission weapons are now widely known. A small number of scien- tists and engineers whose experience was derived from a peaceful nuclear power program could develop a workable design. The actual fabrication of a device would require a small team of fairly qualified experts in a number of fields with access to laboratory and fabrication facilities using easily obtainable equipment. Opinions vary as to how necessary a proof test would be for an initial weapon. Some argue on the basis of hindsight that such a test would not be necessary since there would be reasonably high confidence that a weapon produced by a technically competent group would give a signifi- cant yield. However, the weapon designers would probably have little confidence in the actual yield. More significantly, military or political authorities might not share the confidence of their scientists and techni- cians, particularly in a state with little history of technical sophistica- tion. Moreover, a test is the only way a state could demonstrate to others that it had actually acquired a weapons capability. In any event, the development of more advanced fission weapons, and certainly thermo- nuclear weapons, would require testing. At the same time, the ease of making a fission weapon should not be

OCR for page 224
232 NUCLEAR ARMS CONTROL exaggerated. It cannot be done by a clever university student in a ga- rage with tools from the local hardware store. As a practical matter, it would probably be beyond the capabilities of almost any subnational group operating outside of an organized nuclear program. Besides ob- taining an adequate supply of fissionable material, such a group would need qualified experts and technicians in a number of fields with access to equipment and considerable advanced planning to develop a design. Such a group could conceivably construct a primitive device with an uncertain yield of a few hundred tons, although it might have no yield at all. Nonetheless, a primitive device of this type could be extremely destructive in an urban area. Consequently, as noted above, even the claim of such a capability in credible circumstances could be a powerful toot for blackmail. Capabilities Versus Intentions In developing a strategy to prevent the further proliferation of nu- clear weapons, a fundamental issue has been how much weight to give to "capabilities" as compared with "intentions." This issue reflects the inevitable interaction of the technical capabilities associated with nu- clear power with the technology required to fabricate nuclear weapons. To date, non-proliferation efforts have primarily sought to build legal and political barriers against decisions to fabricate nuclear weapons. International agreements have drawn the line at the actual manufac- ture of a nuclear explosive, rather than at the acquisition of underlying technical capabilities that might make this possible. States such as Japan and the Federal Republic of Germany clearly have the technical capability to produce weapons on short notice. The barriers to their doing so are their conviction that it would not be in their net interest and the international legal obligations they have undertaken on the basis of this conviction. These convictions and commitments are very substantial barriers for these countries. The risk that they will override these constraints in the foreseeable future appears correspondingly small. Critics of this approach argue that intentions change and that inter- national obligations can easily be violated or abrogated. Only by limit- ing the underlying technical capabilities can proliferation be prevented in the longer term, they argue. While some half a dozen states may now intend either to build nuclear weapons or to consciously develop an option to do so quickly, probably 20 to 30 countries already have most of the technical capabilities needed to make such a decision. The acquisition of the nuclear materials and facilities needed for a

OCR for page 224
NON-PROLIFERATION 233 nuclear power program, the associated industrial support, and the re- lated infrastructure of trained nuclear scientists and technicians go a long way toward giving a state the technical capability to make weap- ons, especially if weapons-usable material or facilities for its production are available. But there is considerable difference of opinion over the extent to which the prior acquisition of these capabilities makes a nu- clear weapon decision more likely. The French and the Indians built up such capabilities some years before deciding to manufacture nuclear weapons, though at least one of their objectives in undertaking this buildup was to establish the option to make such a decision. On the other hand, Sweden built up such capabilities and seriously debated initiating a weapons program in the 1960s but finally decided that this would be counter to its security interests. Since the mid-1970s, concern over nuclear weapon capabilities has focused on the most sensitive nuclear materials (highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium) and on enrichment and reprocess- ing facilities for their production. Some critics of the present U.S. ap- proach have essentially redefined proliferation as access to these sensi- tive materials. They have largely discounted the offsetting effect of legal and political commitments against proliferation. THE HISTORY OF NON-PROLIFERATION Shortly after World War II, while it still had an absolute monopoly on nuclear weapons, the United States offered in the Baruch Plan to work out arrangements for the international ownership and control of all nuclear materials and facilities. Pending agreement on such an arrangement with appropriate international safeguards, the United States prohibited through the MacMahon Act of 1946 the export of nuclear materials, equipment, or technology. Nevertheless, without di- rect assistance from the United States, four additional nuclear weapon states emerged in the next 18 years: the Soviet Union (1949), the United Kingdom (1952), France (1960), and China (19641. By 1953, with the reported test of a Soviet thermonuclear device and growing interna- tional interest in peaceful nuclear power, it became apparent that the United States could not dictate a policy of denial simply by unilaterally prohibiting exports. In response to this changing situation, President Dwight Eisenhower reversed the policy of denial in December 1953 and inaugurated a policy of constructive engagement with the Atoms for Peace program. This policy was designed to promote internationally the peaceful applica- tions of nuclear energy, provided the recipient state guaranteed that

OCR for page 224
234 NUCLEAR ARMS CONTROL there would be no diversions to military use and agreed to accept safe- guards. The U.S. Atomic Energy Act was revised to reflect this new approach of constructive engagement, and the first of several interna- tional Atoms for Peace conferences, at which much previously classified nuclear technology was released, was held in Geneva. The U.S. efforts to implement the new policy included agreements for cooperation with over 30 states, liberal grants to facilitate the purchase of research reac- tors, training programs, and disclosures of technology. The Interna- tional Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), established in 1957, was based on this approach of open international cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy in return for pledges against diversion to military use and the acceptance of international safeguards. Following the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, interest in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons intensified not only in the United States and the Soviet Union but in many non-nuclear weapon states as well. One result was the negotiation in 1963 of the Limited Test Ban Treaty (Ap- pendix D), which had non-proliferation as one of its main objectives. Nearly every state having a potential capability to make nuclear weap- ons eventually joined the treaty. Another consequence was the Latin American initiative that led to the 1967 Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America, often referred to as the Treaty of TIateloIco. Following the Limited Test Ban Treaty, the United States and the Soviet Union turned their attention directly to the proliferation prob- lem, embarking on the complex four-year multinational negotiation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (Appendix G) or simply the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The treaty, which was signed on July 1, 196S, and entered into force in 1970, has so far been joined by 124 states, including most of the advanced industrial nuclear states. Both the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America were remarkable achievements. They involved commitments by sovereign states that had not yet ac- quired nuclear weapons to forswear that option and to accept interna- tional safeguards to verify their compliance with this self-denying obligation. At the same time, both treaties embodied commitments to facilitate international cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy under safeguards. They thus reinforced the policy of construc- tive engagement. At the time the NPT was negotiated, the United States was the free worId's principal supplier of nuclear power reactors and its only exporter of enriched uranium to fuel these reactors. This situation

OCR for page 224
264 NUCLEAR ARMS CONTROL where there is resident inspection. Consequently, advance notice is al- most always given before an inspection takes place. The agreements also entitle the host state to reject particular inspectors as Tong as such rejection does not impede the exercise of the IAEA's responsibilities. There have been instances of abuse of this right, such as Iraq's refusal during an earlier period to accept any inspectors that were not nationals of the Warsaw Pact countries. Potential Loopholes. Critics point out that there are a number of potential loopholes in the safeguards regime. Since the NPT only re- quires a commitment not to make nuclear explosives, NPT safeguards permit a state to withdraw materials from safeguards if it declares that those materials are to be used for a nonexplosive military purpose such as submarine propulsion. This apparently glaring loophole, which was included in the NPT in response to earlier desires of certain NATO allies to retain an option to develop nuclear-powered submarines and war- ships, has in fact never been exercised by any party to the NPr. The principal protection against abuse ofthis right is to provide by separate agreements (as the United States does in all of its agreements for civil cooperation) that special nuclear materials derived from commercial exports may not be used for any military purpose. Safeguards are designed to ensure that nuclear materials are ac- counted for and that they are not being used in a nuclear explosive program. They do not require any authorization for specific uses short of those prohibited. Thus, if safeguards inspectors found declared and safeguarded highly enriched uranium or plutonium fabricated into shapes suitable for nuclear explosives, they would have no authority to object so Tong as the material remained accounted for and was not actu- ally made into a weapon, although they would presumably report the finding. The proposed international plutonium storage system under discussion in the IAEA could partially remedy this defect. Implementation of Existing Safeguards Whatever the theoretical effectiveness of the existing safeguards re- gime, a general question remains as to how effectively the IAEA uses its existing safeguards rights. Opinions on this issue differ considerably and reflect a complex of practical political and bureaucratic problems involved in operating the safeguards system. The IAEA has limited funds to carry out its safeguard functions. These funds are restricted both by the total resources provided by member states and by the de- mands of a majority of the member states that the IAEA devote a

OCR for page 224
NON-PROLIFERATION 265 greater proportion of its resources to assist the development of nuclear energy than to safeguards. For example, in 1984 the total budget of the IAEA was $130 million, of which $32.5 million was for safeguards. Moreover, in view of demands for nondiscriminatory treatment, the IAEA cannot necessarily allocate its limited safeguards resources on a priority basis to the states that are the most serious proliferation risks. The {AEA also has a continuing problem of finding and retaining technically qualified safeguards personnel, who must be selected with regard to "geographical balance." More serious is the inherent question of the willingness of international civil servants to take the politically difficult or even dangerous actions involved in charging that safe- guards have been materially violated. Finally, the Board of Governors of the IAEA is a very broadly based political body, representing 34 countries. This raises the question ofthe board's willingness to fulfill its function in finding that a material violation has occurred and to call for implementation of the sanctions contemplated by the IAEA Statute. At the same time, it can be argued that, if the safeguards system discov- ered a serious violation, it would soon be widely known and the interna- tional community would be fully informed about the problem. HOLDOUTS FROM THE INTERNATIONAL REGIME The most immediate and challenging problem in the field of non- proliferation is how to deal with the small number of states that have deliberately avoided international commitments and controls in order to preserve a nuclear weapons option that some of them appear to be pursuing. These states must be persuaded that the acquisition of nu- clear weapons would not be in their net interest. This is a formidable diplomatic task. The circumstances are so varied that each country requires separate analysis, and even this must be adjusted to account for changes of lead- ership and local conditions. For example, in the case of Israel the United States has considerable potential leverage, but its use is subject to se- vere domestic political constraints. In the cases of Korea and Taiwan the United States has great leverage and has used it effectively. In the case of Pakistan, competing security and foreign policy objectives have af- fected the United States' willingness to use its available leverage. With others, such as Libya, the United States has little or no direct influence and must rely on other concerned states. In every case the relative priority to be given to non-proliferation is an issue. The most effective diplomatic efforts in this area are usually bilateral, but it is obviously

OCR for page 224
266 NUCLEAR ARMS CONTROL important that other countries not undercut these efforts and, if possi- ble, that they be reinforced through other direct diplomatic approaches. The Countries of Greatest Near-Term Concern The six countries generally considered to present the greatest near- term risks of proliferation are India, Pakistan, Israel, South Africa, Argentina, and Brazil. Each of them has avoided formal commitments to the international non-proliferation regime. None is a party to the NPT; none has accepted full-scope safeguards; neither Argentina nor Brazil has brought the Treaty of TIateloIco into effect; and Argentina and Pakistan have not ratified the Limited Test Ban Treaty. Ind is The only one of this group that is known to have demonstrated a nuclear explosive capability is India, which in 1974 carried out an underground fission explosion that it insisted was for "peaceful" pur- poses. India has a large cadre of trained nuclear scientists, engineers, and technicians. Its unsafeguarded facilities include a large research reactor at Trombay that produced the plutonium for the 1974 explosion, a reprocessing plant at Trombay that reprocessed the plutonium, and a reprocessing plant at Tarapur that will be under safeguards only while reprocessing fuel from safeguarded reactors. It has a number of other unsafeguarded nuclear facilities under construction, including several power reactors and an experimental fast breeder reactor. A change of administration in India in 1977 led to the apparent sus- pension of its nuclear explosive program. But Indira Gandhi, who origi- nally authorized the 1974 explosion, returned to power in 1980 and there have been recurrent concerns that the program may be revived. While India has repeatedly disclaimed any intention of manufacturing nuclear weapons, it has cited China's nuclear weapons capability as a major reason against forswearing a future option to do so. India is also obviously concerned about Pakistan's nuclear developments, which were in turn spurred on by the 1974 Indian detonation. The principal non-proliferation objectives with respect to India are to head off the resumption of its nuclear explosive program and to per- suade it to continue to maintain a prudent export policy that minimizes the risk of India's becoming a source of further proliferation. Since it is no longer possible to deprive India of the capability to manufacture some nuclear weapons, the practical problem is to persuade it that nuclear weapons are not in its overall interest and that it should refrain from further developments in this direction. Failure to contain Paki- stan's nuclear weapon developments would make this task extremely difficult if not impossible.

OCR for page 224
NON-PROLIFERATION 267 Pakistan. Pakistan has been constructing a large, unsafeguarded centrifuge enrichment plant using plans stolen from the URENCO enrichment facility in the Netherlands and parts and components procured from various Western sources. Pakistan also has an un- safeguarded fuel fabrication facility and is constructing an unsafe- guarded reprocessing facility. The only known indigenous source of plutonium for the reprocessing facility is the safeguarded power reactor at Kanupp. While the TAEA earlier acknowledged some deficiencies in its safeguards arrangements at that reactor, these problems have re- portedly been remedied. Over the years considerable evidence has accu- mulated indicating that Pakistan was headed toward a nuclear explosive capability. At the same time, there are important disincentives to a Pakistani decision to carry its nuclear weapons option all the way to a nuclear explosion. This event would almost certainly lead to the resumption of the Indian nuclear weapons program. It would probably also result in a cutoffof U.S. economic and military aid under the present five-year $3.2 billion program, since the authorizing legislation calls for such a cutoff if the recipient detonates a nuclear explosive device or transfers such a device to a non-nuclear weapon state. The transfer provision was in- cluded in view of the concern, which Pakistan claims is unfounded, that it might be persuaded to help other Muslim states acquire a nuclear explosive capability. Pakistan is also reportedly interested in acquiring an additional power reactor from Western sources, although it is not clear how it would pay for it. The United States has attempted to per- suade potential European suppliers that they should insist on a full- scope safeguards commitment from Pakistan as a condition of such a sale. The principal non-proliferation objectives with respect to Pakistan are to head off a test of a nuclear device; to inhibit the completion of its unsafeguarded enrichment and reprocessing facilities; to obtain full- scope safeguards coverage and, if possible, an explicit dedication of the enrichment facility to low enrichment; and to persuade Pakistan to maintain a prudent nuclear export policy that minimizes the risk of its becoming a source of further proliferation. Israel. The declared policy of Israel has Tong been that it would not tee the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East. Neverthe- less, Israel is generally believed to have the capability to manufacture a nuclear weapon on very short notice if it has not already done so. As Tong ago as 1976, a senior CIA official stated that Israel was estimated to have a stockpile of 10 to 20 weapons or their necessary components. Israel has a strong base of highly trained nuclear scientists, engi-

OCR for page 224
268 NUCLEAR ARMS CONTROL neers, and technicians. It has an unsafeguarded research reactor capa- ble of producing enough plutonium for at least one bomb a year and an unsafeguarded reprocessing facility. In addition, it may have acquired enough highly enriched uranium for a number of nuclear weapons from a U.S. facility that could not account for the Toss of the material under . . . . . ncr~m~na sing circumstances. Israel has been careful to maintain a studied ambiguity between its declared nuclear policy and its nuclear capabilities. Apparently, it wishes to maintain an implicit nuclear deterrent while avoiding an open confrontation on the nuclear issue with its neighbors. The principal non-proliferation objectives with respect to Israel are to head off a nuclear detonation, to discourage the deployment of any weapons that might exist, and to persuade Israel that the acquisition of nuclear weapons is not in its net interest. Above all, Israel should be dissuaded from shifting to an openly declared military policy based on a nuclear deterrent. In pursuing these objectives, the United States has much more potential leverage than in the case of any other high-risk country if it is prepared to use it. South Africa The principal focus of proliferation concern in South Africa is its unsafeguarded uranium enrichment plant, which is proba- bly capable of producing highly enriched uranium from ample supplies of indigenous uranium. In 1977 a Soviet satellite reconnaissance dis- covered apparent preparations for an underground nuclear weapon test in the Kalahari Desert, which were privately called to the attention of the U.S. government. As a result of strong diplomatic approaches by the United States and others, plans for the test were apparently discontin- ued. In 1979 a U.S. satellite recorded a signal that many initially thought to be from a nuclear detonation over the ocean between South Africa and Antarctica. A prestigious group of scientists appointed by President Carter concluded that the signal was most likely caused by a micrometeor triggering the detection device and not by a nuclear explo- sion; nevertheless, an element of suspicion has remained. Attempts to persuade South Africa to join the NET and to subject its enrichment facility to safeguards have proved unavailing. While a nu- clear weapon capability would single it out from its potential African adversaries, the military relevance of nuclear weapons to South Africa's security problems is not obvious. The principal non-proliferation objectives with respect to South Africa, in addition to persuading it that the acquisition of nuclear weapons is not in its best interest, are to head off a nuclear detonation; to persuade it to accept safeguards on its enrichment facility and, if

OCR for page 224
NON-PROLIFERATION 269 possible, on all of its nuclear activities; to dedicate its enrichment plant to the production of Tow-enriched uranium; and to persuade it to con- tinue to maintain a prudent nuclear export policy that will minimize the risk of its becoming a source of further proliferation. The South Afri- can government has recently announced that it will accept safeguards on its projected commercial enrichment plant (but not on its operating pilot plant) and will require safeguards on all of its nuclear exports to non-nuclear weapon states. Argentina The proliferation concern in Argentina, which has indig- enous uranium resources and is acquiring a large heavy water produc- tion plant, focuses on an unsafeguarded reprocessing plant, a large unsafeguarded research reactor that has Tong been planned, and a re- cently announced unsafeguarded uranium enrichment facility that is under construction. There appears to be no evidence of a definitive decision by Argentina to acquire nuclear explosives or undertake a program with that end. There are differences of view as to whether the Falkland crisis in- creased the likelihood that the Argentines might move in this direction. The recent change of government in Argentina appears to present a new opportunity to pursue the principal non-proliferation objectives with respect to the country: to persuade it on economic grounds not to proceed with the enrichment plant or, if it does, to subject the plant to safeguards and dedicate it to Tow enrichment; to proceed with ratification of the Treaty of TIateloIco and the negotiation of a full-scope safeguards agree- ment with the IAEA; and to exercise prudence in its nuclear exports so as to minimize the risk of its becoming a source of further proliferation. The last of these objectives is important because of Argentina's past aspirations to become a nuclear supplier to Third World countries. Brazil. The focus of proliferation concern in Brazil has been its 1975 agreement with the Federal Republic of Germany to acquire a uranium enrichment facility and a reprocessing plant. Under the agreement, both facilities would be placed under IAEA safeguards, as would any of their output and any facilities of the same type built by Brazil in the next 20 years. Although the agreement was concluded in 1975, none of the facilities is yet in operation, and there has been a major cutback in the scope of the Brazilian nuclear power program. There have been reports, however, that Brazil is conducting research on advanced iso- tope separation techniques, which would not be covered by the safe- guards provision of the German agreement. While Brazil now has a number of minor unsafeguarded facilities,

OCR for page 224
270 NUCLEAR ARMS CONTROL there is some prospect that it may soon be covered by cle facto full-scope safeguards. Brazil has not yet carried out its commitment in the Treaty of TIateloIco to negotiate a full-scope safeguards agreement. After rati- fying the treaty, Brazil made its entry into force contingent on all Lati In American countries joining the treaty and all eligible countries joining its protocols. This requires Argentina and Cuba to adhere to the treaty (although Brazil might waive the latter requirement) and completion of the pending French ratification of Protocol I. Thus, non-proliferation objectives in Brazil are to achieve full-scope safeguards coverage, to complete the preconditions so that the Treaty of TIateloico will come into force for Brazil, to persuade Brazil that a nuclear explosive program would not be in its security or economic interests, and to persuade Brazil to exercise prudence in its nuclear exports so as to minimize the risk of its becoming a source of further proliferation. Other Holdouts. Cuba's limited technical capabilities make its threat of proliferation less severe than for that of any of the six countries listed above, but it is acquiring a safeguarded research reactor and a safeguarded power reactor from the Soviet Union. Although there is a question in this case whether the Soviet Union will follow its usual practice of requiring the return of the spent fuel, Cuba will probably continue to have de facto full-scope safeguards. Moreover, the Soviet Union is committed by the NPT not to help or encourage Cuba to ac- quire a nuclear explosive capability, and it seems most unlikely that it would tolerate independent Cuban efforts in that direction. Future pro- liferation concerns about Cuba would be greatly reduced if Cuba signed and ratified the Treaty of TIateloIco, an action that the Soviet Union should be in a position to encourage. As discussed above, Cuba's signing and ratifying the treaty would put great pressure on Argentina to ratify, which would bring the treaty into force for all Latin American coun- tries. ~ Notwithstanding their acceptance of full-scope safeguards and other obligations of the NPT, there has been some concern about the actual intentions of a few parties to the NPT. The most notable of these is Libya, whose leader has reportedly made a number of unsuccessful efforts to acquire nuclear weapons directly from other states. These actions, coupled with his open support for terrorist organizations and activities, justify greater proliferation concerns about Libya than its immediate technical capabilities would indicate. Libya has little capa- bility to produce nuclear weapons indigenously, even though it is ac- quiring a safeguarded research reactor and plans to acquire a safe-

OCR for page 224
NON-PROLIFERATION 271 guarded power reactor from the Soviet Union. This situation would be substantially improved if the Soviet Union required the return of the spent fuel, as it has previously done in similar situations. The Middle Eastern parties to the NPT that have aroused some prolif- eration concern are Iraq and Iran. The former was building a safe- guarded nuclear research center, which may have presented some proliferation risks, but this was destroyed in 1981 by Israeli bombing. Reconstruction of the facility has not yet begun. Tran's extremely ambi- tious civil nuclear program under the Shah was suspended by the Kho- meini government, but there are reports that Iran is now negotiating with Western European countries for the completion of one or more of the power reactors involved. All potential suppliers are bound by the NPr to require safeguards on any such reactor and its fuel. But the international irresponsibility displayed by Iran provides serious grounds for concern about Tonger-term proliferation problems in this country. In the Far East, two NPT parties whose potential interest in develop- ing a nuclear weapons capability was of considerable concern in the past are Taiwan and the Republic of Korea. A major disincentive in both cases was the damage that such development would have done to their security relations with the United States and with their ability to con- tinue to obtain vital supplies for their civil nuclear power plants, which provide a substantial portion of their electric power. The United States made use of its special relations with these two countries to convince them that the development of an independent nuclear capability would be ill advised. These two countries do not now appear to constitute serious proliferation risks. While this completes the list of countries generally thought to be of near-term proliferation concern, it must be recognized that if the inter- national security environment changed dramatically if, for example, the current non-proliferation regime or certain alliance relationships disintegrated some of the major industrial states, which clearly have the capabilities to make nuclear weapons on a large scale relatively quickly, might decide to do so. This would obviously have extremely serious implications for international security. The Problem of Coordination with Other Concerned Countries Improved controls on nuclear exports are an important, but clearly not sufficient, toot in seeking to achieve the non-proliferation objectives for the problem countries considered above. The United States can no longer effectively impose these export controls alone but must seek

OCR for page 224
272 NUCLEAR ARMS CONTROL coordination among all significant potential suppliers. These suppliers remain relatively few in number and share some commitment to non- proliferation. A question for the future is how to keep new suppliers who may not share that commitment from undercutting these efforts. This could be a particular problem in the case of China, whose government has in the past opposed non-proliferation on doctrinal grounds. The non- proliferation export regime will be tightened if the Chinese government adheres to its recently announced policy of requiring safeguards on Chinese nuclear exports. The existing non-proliferation regime provides an indispensable framework for coordinating the safeguards on all nuclear exports re- quired by the NPT and the Nuclear Suppliers' Guidelines among the present suppliers. However, differences remain among these suppliers on several important issues. The most fundamental difference is the relative priority to be accorded to non-proliferation compared with other foreign policy objectives. Many of the major supplier countries, while willing to endorse non-proliferation as a goal, do not consider it a major concern from the point of view of their national security. NATO allies have frequently reacted defensively to U.S. non-proliferation ini- tiatives. Accordingly, they have given it relatively low priority in cases where it conflicted with other foreign policy interests, as the United States has also done on occasion. Some of the supplier countries also disagree with the emphasis that has sometimes been placed on capabili- ties rather than intentions. This is understandable, since they also have the requisite capabilities for a nuclear weapons program and therefore wish to emphasize the importance of legal and political commitments to non-proliferation. The ambivalence between a policy of constructive engagement and denial that has characterized U.S. policy is shared by other suppliers. The Federal Republic of Germany has argued that the safeguards and other commitments it obtained from Brazil in connection with the agreement to sell enrichment and reprocessing technology were a posi- tive contribution to non-proliferation. While France did not complete its sale of a reprocessing facility to Pakistan, some French leaders have questioned whether the completion of that sale, which would at least have resulted in safeguards on the facility, would not have been prefera- ble to the present situation where there is an unsafeguarded reprocess- ing facility. The Swiss have argued that the expanded safeguards coverage obtained through the sale of a heavy water production facility to Argentina offsets any proliferation risk involved. The various attitudes toward these basic issues also affect the pros- pects for concerted action in using nonmilitary leverage to head off or

OCR for page 224
NON-PROLIFERATION 273 respond to actions that clearly portend further nuclear proliferation. Such concerted action is limited by the special relationships of certain of the participants to the problem countries, such as that of the United States to Israel or that of France and Italy to Iraq (from whom those countries obtain substantial supplies of oil). Conflicting foreign policy goals, such as U.S. interest in supporting Pakistani resistance to the Soviet threat in South Asia, encouraging the new Argentine govern- ment, and not precipitating default on international loans by Argen- tina or Brazil, also limit such action. Finally, the failure of the United States and the Soviet Union to make progress in nuclear arms control, and the continued emphasis of the nuclear weapon states on the need for and utility of nuclear weapons in an ever-broadening military context, greatly complicate the task of persuading the problem countries not to acquire their own nuclear weapons.

OCR for page 224