New Give for Non-proliferation? Part II

New Give for Non-proliferation? Part II

4: Non-proliferation and disarmament

Two lines of conflict put the NPT under pressure right from the start:

  • between those who have and those who do not have nuclear weapons, and
  • between sellers and buyers in the nuclear market. The sellers of nuclear reactors are mainly Europeans, Americans, Russians, Japanese and South Koreans.

The nuclear-weapon-free sellers in the north had a close relationship with several of the nuclear powers and still do, so the dividing lines largely merge into a north-south divide , or rather: a conflict-filled relationship between west and south.

While the nuclear-weapon-free countries have made many new commitments over the years, it has been difficult to get the nuclear powers to disarm. Sweden’s chief negotiator and Nobel Prize winner Alva Myrdal felt cheated. The supervisory conferences in 1980 and 1990 broke down because of this, and the conferences in 1975 and 1985 smoothed over the contradictions. The end of the Cold War brought progress, but it did not last long. In 2001, the United States withdrew from the so-called ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missiles) agreement, which banned defense against long-range ballistic missiles. The Russians then withdrew from the START II agreement on strategic nuclear disarmament.

A new agreement from 2002 on restrictions on long-range weapons was strictly speaking no disarmament agreement: it had no provisions on information exchange and verification, ie control of compliance with the provisions of the agreement, and rather looked like a press release. Then followed many years without any negotiations. The ceasefire agreement (see facts) did not enter into force, negotiations to halt the production of bomb material did not materialize, and the guarantees that nuclear weapons would not be used against countries that had renounced them were further weakened. The NPT and the associated non-proliferation regime were in the process of escalating.

5: Restart between USA and Russia

This was the situation when Obama came on the scene. The United States and Russia pressed the “restart” button, got the relationship on a better track and in April 2010 agreed on a new disarmament agreement called New Start . A separate summit on nuclear terrorism, on American initiative, has just been held in New York. Today, many believe that the biggest threat to the use of nuclear weapons today comes from terrorist networks such as al-Qaeda , and this issue will also be discussed at the oversight conference.

At the same time, the United States published the guidelines for its nuclear weapons policy in the coming years. Hereafter, the United States undertakes not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against countries that have renounced such through membership in the NPT. About. 180 of the world’s well over 190 states are covered by the insurance.

Exceptions are the other nuclear powers and states that, in the United States’ view, do not comply with NPT regulations, primarily Iran . Deterring other nuclear powers is the main issue, but the United States is not ready for a doctrine of non-first use. Such a doctrine would mean that nuclear weapons have one and only one function, to deter others from using theirs. There is a captivating logic of disarmament built into such a doctrine, for it follows that no one would need them if no one had them. The US guidelines state that the US will work to create the necessary conditions for a transition to non-first use.

Once the New Start is ratified (finally approved), the United States will have a new round of negotiations with the Russians on major cuts. A good outcome depends on agreed solutions to many political problems and can take many years. The two big ones from the days of the Cold War must reduce their stocks much more, before they can join the smaller nuclear powers in multilateral negotiations on a nuclear-weapon-free world.

In the meantime, there are many who sit back and wait and see what happens. According to, China, India and Pakistan are gearing up. Israel is not subject to any restrictions and is protected by the United States and others. France is without enthusiasm for much of what Obama is doing. The dispute over the disarmament obligations in Article VI will therefore continue at this supervisory conference as well.

6: Middle East

Tensions between the nuclear powers and the nuclear-weapon-free states are reflected and intensified in the Middle East – in the conflict between Israel, which is outside the NPT, and all the others that have joined. When the Arab states agreed to make the NPT permanent, it was not because they preferred this – primarily they were in favor of a limited extension, but because at the same time a resolution was adopted that advocated making the Middle East a zone free of weapons of mass destruction ( chemical, biological and nuclear weapons).

However, nothing has been done to follow it up. The Arab countries therefore believe that their obligations have been met with broken promises. Consequently, they say no to new arms control obligations. For example, Egypt has not acceded to the Chemical Weapons Agreement, the Biological Weapons Agreement, the Test Ban Treaty, the Additional Protocol to Expanded Security Controls, or the Agreement on Africa as a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone.

In addition, the challenge comes from Iran , which has led a number of countries in the Middle East to launch nuclear programs. The aim of these programs is peaceful – for civilian use only – but clearly enough, many want to get room for maneuver in case something goes wrong.

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty 2