Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs
Cairo, Egypt, 10-15 November 2005
In Working Group I of the Annual Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs in Cairo, Egypt (10-15 November 2005) there was practically unanimous concern that the global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime is in a profoundly bad shape and faces its greatest crisis since the end of the Cold War, if not since the advent of the nuclear era. The 2005 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference has been an outspoken failure and little to virtually no progress has been achieved with regards to the many dimensions of the global nuclear arms control process. Particular concern was expressed about the fact that the debate on the advisability of having a nuclear weapons option seems to be re-opening in at least some of the non-nuclear weapon states.
Yet it was recognized that opportunities exist to revert to the process of stimulating both horizontal and vertical nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. Among the openings available is notably the negotiation of a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT). A view was expressed that at least some of the states that have already ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) could consider a further step by announcing unilateral entry into force of the CTBT for them, on an individual basis, thus committing themselves to behave as if the Treaty has already entered into force, and act according to all obligations the Treaty involves. The need to proceed energetically with thorough preparations for the next NPT Review Conference in 2010 with the view of ensuring its successful outcome was also stressed.
The group was reminded that the United States and Russia, still by far the two largest possessors of nuclear weapons, should lead the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament process. Among the measures proposed for the renewal of the disarmament process, the view was expressed that the United States and Russia should, as first priority, take their nuclear weapons off hair-trigger, eliminate the launch-on-warning option from their nuclear military strategies, implement a parallel decrease in operational readiness of their strategic forces, and openly exclude – along with other nuclear weapon states that have not yet done so – any first use of nuclear weaponry. There were calls on the United States and Russia to immediately start negotiating a new strategic arms reduction treaty that may significantly reduce the deployment of nuclear weapons. However, there were also comments to the effect that in the current geopolitical situation a simple return to form and agenda of the superpower dialogue of the 1970s and 1980s was hardly possible, and that the latest negative developments in the area of outer space security would additionally complicate efforts to reduce their large numbers of nuclear weapons.
It was noted that while states may have different views as to whether over the past two decades Iran has just failed to fully live up to its safeguards agreements with the IAEA or more broadly with its obligations under the NPT, the main objective should be to find a just and endurable solution, based on Iran’s continued adherence to and compliance with the NPT. Several participants emphasized that possible penalties deriving from such failures should be commensurate with the violation committed, as well as applied consistently and in a non-discriminatory way. The need to avoid decisions that could undermine the credibility of the IAEA and the United Nations Security Council was emphasized. The complex security situation in the area, including the assumed possession of nuclear weapons by Israel, was also mentioned. While Iran’s inalienable right to undertake peaceful nuclear activities was not questioned, a number of participants called for an immediate commencement of negotiations to address the concerns of all sides involved. Several participants held the view that Iran should be induced to temporarily suspend sensitive fuel-cycle-related activities such as uranium enrichment, ratify the Additional Protocol, cooperate with its associated inspections, and to offer full cooperation with the IAEA. At the same time, a view was expressed that insisting on suspension of uranium enrichment activities as a precondition for negotiations may lead to a loss of time, and a more effective approach could be an agreement of Iran not to expand in any way, for the duration of negotiations, its current nuclear activities, and ensure that such a freeze could be verified by the IAEA. In any case, it is important to stimulate mutual confidence building in the region and to avoid any destabilizing action that may complicate the search for both short-term and long-term solutions, including any provocative and inflammatory rhetoric language.
A number of participants share the view that the recent nuclear test by the DPRK constitutes a serious set-back in global efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation. Still, it is believed that a renewal of negotiations in the 6-party framework is not only necessary but could generate a basis to come out of the present deadlock between the government of the DPRK and the other 6-party group members. It also has to be recognized that the DPRK faces multiple security threats, including but not limited to the absence of a formal peace agreement with the United States, and that the present foreign policy and nuclear strategy of the United States are not beneficial for advancing a solution to the current impasse or allowing the establishment of a sustainable and peaceful co-existence of the DPRK and the United States. The DPRK should be given the confidence that its survival is not in any way under threat, and ought to be provided with adequate security guarantees to this effect, notably by the United States. In this context an idea was put forward that revisiting the lessons learned from the resolution of the 1962 Cuban Missile crisis could be useful. The commitment to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula should be adhered to, and the DPRK should agree to verifiably renounce once and for all from the possession of nuclear weapons, as well as recommit itself to the NPT and Additional Protocol, in exchange for the provision of appropriate safety guarantees it desires.
Excerpt of the Working Group 1 Report, by Bob van der Zwaan
Co-Conveners: Francesco Calogero and Sergey Batsanov
Rapporteur: Bob van der Zwaan
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