How to Lay the Groundwork for '95 Nonproliferation Talks Seven Steps Could Help Build Momentum toward Indefinite Extension of Key Nuclear Treaty

By Maurice A. Mallin. Maurice A. Mallin is a national security and defense analyst with Science Applications International Corporation . | The Christian Science Monitor, August 19, 1993 | Go to article overview

How to Lay the Groundwork for '95 Nonproliferation Talks Seven Steps Could Help Build Momentum toward Indefinite Extension of Key Nuclear Treaty


Maurice A. Mallin. Maurice A. Mallin is a national security and defense analyst with Science Applications International Corporation ., The Christian Science Monitor


THE Clinton administration has put the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction atop its list of international security concerns. Strategies and recommendations for combating proliferation are on their way, as agencies and departments throughout the government give increased attention to the problem.

As part of this effort, the administration is seeking the indefinite extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the cornerstone of current nonproliferation. This is the administration's objective for the 1995 NPT Extensive Conference, where the future of that treaty will be decided by NPT signatories. The United States objective is a desirable contrast to modifying the NPT or seeking a shorter-term extension. Renegotiating the NPT could dilute its effectiveness. The treaty can be improved; but if opened to revision, it might become more difficult to reach international consensus on its objectives.

As nonproliferation strategies are formulated, it is apparent that short-term initiatives can significantly affect the success of the 1995 conference. But failing to act in a number of areas could hinder US objectives at that conference and undermine other long-term US goals. With this in mind, the US should:

Pursue a Comprehensive Test Ban (CBT): Congress has passed legislation that could lay the groundwork for this move. Although not perfect, it would provide a useful basis for the current moratorium on testing. Pursuit of a CTB would tell other states that we take NPT objectives seriously, enhancing US credibility going into the Extension Conference and providing a major incentive to other states considering NPT participation. The administration's "no first test" policy, barring testing through September 1994 unless another state tests first, is a useful step.

Push hard for Ukranian ratification of START I and NPT adherence: If Ukraine is permitted to keep its nuclear weapons and fails to join the NPT as a nonnuclear state, other nations may decide that keeping or acquiring nuclear weapons is preferable to joining the NPT. On the other hand, if Ukraine relinquishes its nuclear weapons, their value may be further lessoned. Thus, Ukraine is a key "test case" of our ability to realize nonproliferation objectives.

Pressure North Korea: North Korea has suspended its threatened withdrawal from the NPT but is not yet allowing full inspections of its nuclear facilities. …

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