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Monitoring Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear-Explosive Materials 5 General Conclusions This study has examined the contributions that current and improved transparency and monitoring could make to verification for all categories of nuclear weapons and their nuclear-explosive components and for nuclear-explosive materials (NEM). Chapter 1 described the goals, context, and historical background for such an assessment. The next two chapters explored the capabilities and limitations of a variety of technical and institutional approaches to the pursuit of transparency and monitoring for nuclear weapons and components (Chapter 2) and NEM (Chapter 3) in a cooperative international environment. Chapter 4 then addressed the special challenges of dealing with noncooperation in the form of retention of undeclared stocks and clandestine production of nuclear weapons and NEM and how cooperation could be used to reduce uncertainties about compliance. As we stated at the outset, the fundamental motivation for this study was to assess whether and how currently available and foreseeable technologies and processes for transparency and monitoring could support the urgent and interrelated goals of reducing the dangers from existing nuclear arsenals, minimizing the spread of nuclear weaponry to additional states, and preventing the acquisition of nuclear weapons by terrorists. The transparency and monitoring technologies and processes we examined could be applied in connection with a variety of approaches to reducing these dangers, including limitations on quantities of nuclear weapons and NEM, limitations on stocks and production of NEM and disposal of excess material, and programs of national protection, control, and accounting for weapons, weapon components, and NEM. We note that increased multinational transparency and cooperative monitoring may also be applied as an approach in its own right, particularly but not solely for reassurance and confidence building. As discussed in detail in Chapters 2 through 4, providing assurance of the size, character, and status of stocks of nuclear weapons, nuclear weapon components, and NEM to parties other than their possessors generally entails (1) declarations and access to supplementary information provided by the possessors to the other parties, (2) additional forms of transparency provided by the
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Monitoring Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear-Explosive Materials possessors, and (3) various types of monitoring by which the other parties can confirm that the declarations are correct and complete. This basic architecture for verification built upon transparency and monitoring applies whether the focus is a few containers of nuclear-explosive material or an extensive nuclear stockpile containing thousands of intact weapons and components and many tons of NEM. Interest in the possible benefits of increased transparency and monitoring has long been limited by two widely held suppositions. The first is that it is simply not technically feasible under present and foreseeable circumstances to verify numbers of nuclear weapons themselves (as opposed to number of delivery systems)—and even less to verify stockpiles of NEM. The second is that any attempt to address the difficulty of significantly increasing transparency about nuclear weapons and NEM would necessarily collide with critical national security needs to protect nuclear weapon secrets. We have attempted in this study to understand and clarify the extent to which these suppositions are in fact valid. We have done so by assessing the challenges for transparency and monitoring for the numbers and status of nuclear weapons and quantities of NEM, the state of the art in technological and institutional approaches for addressing these challenges, and the prospects for improving the state of the art—not only through creating new technologies but also through combining existing technological and institutional capabilities more effectively. As a result of this assessment we have come to the following general conclusions: Current and foreseeable technological capabilities exist to support verification at declared sites, based on transparency and monitoring, of declared stocks of all categories of nuclear weapons—strategic and nonstrategic, deployed and nondeployed—as well as for the nuclear-explosive components and materials that are their essential ingredients. Many of these capabilities could be applied in existing bilateral and international arrangements without the need for additional agreements beyond those currently in force. There are some tensions between sharing information about nuclear weapon and NEM stockpiles and maintaining the security of these stockpiles, but cooperative use of available and foreseeable technologies can substantially alleviate these tensions. The nature of NEM production and the characteristics of NEM and nuclear weapons place some fundamental limits
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Monitoring Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear-Explosive Materials on the capabilities of any system of monitoring and transparency to provide assurance of compliance; accordingly, a degree of uncertainty is inescapable. The biggest challenge to the kinds of cooperation-based verification discussed here would arise if countries tried to give the appearance of cooperation while covertly retaining undeclared stockpiles of nuclear weapons or NEM and/or undertaking clandestine production programs. Where concerns about compliance exist, the synergistic effect of multiple technical and management measures, supported by increased transparency and robust national technical means of intelligence collection, could reduce the risk that significant clandestine activities would go undetected and over time could build confidence that verification was effective. Important transparency measures for both nuclear weapons and NEM need not necessarily be imposed as part of formal treaties but could be undertaken on the basis of informal understandings or unilateral initiatives, for example as part of broader confidence-building efforts. There are both liabilities and benefits of seeking, in the long run, to incorporate measures governing transparency and monitoring of nuclear weapon and NEM stockpiles into formal agreements. The complexity and intrusiveness of the most ambitious measures mean that negotiation of such agreements may be difficult and protracted. But it is precisely the complexity and intrusiveness of some of the relevant measures that, together with the national security stakes, make formal agreements useful to avoid misunderstandings and to provide mechanisms to clarify ambiguities. In addition, formal agreements provide more durable assurance that measures will be sustained over time and across changes in governmental leadership. In the committee’s judgment, the synergistic effect of the approaches discussed in Chapters 2, 3, and 4 in a cooperative environment, coupled with robust NTM capabilities, would substantially reduce current uncertainties in U.S. assessments of foreign nuclear weapon and NEM stockpiles over time. Nevertheless, in view of the sheer size and age of the Russian stockpile (where current uncertainties amount to the equivalent of several thousand weapons), Russia probably could conceal undeclared stocks equivalent to several hundred weapons. In the case of other coun-
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Monitoring Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear-Explosive Materials tries with much smaller programs, absolute uncertainties would be much less, leading to the possibility that these countries could conceal undeclared stocks equivalent to one or two dozen weapons in the case of China, and at most one or two weapons in the cases of Israel, India, and Pakistan. Confidence that declarations were accurate and complete, and that covert stockpiles or production facilities did not exist, would be increased by the successful operation of a monitoring program over a period of years in an environment of increased transparency and cooperation.
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