The Bush Administration's Nonproliferation Policy: An Interview with Assistant Secretary of State John S. Wolf

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Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation John S. Wolf spoke with Arms Control Today Editor Miles A. Pomper and Arms Control Association Research Director Wade Boese May 13 about the Bush administration's nonproliferation policy. The discussion followed a recently concluded Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meeting that assembled to plan the 2005 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference (see page 28).

ACT: The U.S. theme at the recently concluded NPT PrepCom was that a crisis of noncompllance currently exists with regard to the treaty. Could you briefly discuss the magnitude of the problem and what the U.S. solutions are to resolving it?

Wolf: In the last dozen years or so, we have seen North Korea fail to comply with its safeguards obligations, violating its Article II and III NPT obligations.1 We have seen Libya admit to having had a nuclear weapons program. ( see ACT, March 2004.) We have seen clear evidence of Iranian violations which in our view constitute Article II and III violations: the clandestine nature of their program, the unwillingness to respond to repeated calls by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) [to resolve questions about the Iranian nuclear program], and the continuing clandestine nature of part of their program. The whole question of the A. Q. Khan network, which has shown that nonstate parties are capable of gathering and selling sensitive nuclear technologies, up to and including nuclear weapons designs. (see ACT, March 2004.) The treaty was put together by states-parties determined to end the increasing number of countries that had nuclear weapons. That's not to mention states that are outside the NPT, which are repeatedly talked about: India, Pakistan, and Israel. So, the treaty, which has three parts-disarmament, peaceful uses, and nonproliferation-can't be successful if the core principle, the one that creates confidence in the international community, is being violated, and it's the compliance pillar that's being violated. That [lack of compliance] clearly will have an impact on other aspects of the treaty.

ACT: How do we bolster the compliance pillar then?

Wolf: We're doing a variety of things to bolster compliance. First of all, we think it's important for the world community to be clear and categorical that it's determined not to see an expansion in the number of countries with nuclear weapons. The six-party process in Asia looks at the North Korean nuclear weapons program and says that the only acceptable solution is complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of [North Korea's) weapons and nuclear programs. The insistent demand by the international community and the IAEA that Iran end its noncompliance and return to compliance is a first step, but I think it will take more than just the IAEA. It will take the international community writ large making clear to Iran that it faces two choices. If [Iran] chooses to continue down the nuclear weapons path, it will face increasing political and economic isolation. The alternative is to give up that path and be restored as a reputable member of the international community. Eibya chose the benefits of coming clean. The work we are doing to root out the A. Q. Khan network makes clear that we are not prepared to accept those kinds of networks.

Then comes a whole set of things revolving around the president's proposals of February 11. (See ACT, March 2004.) There is an increasingly widespread belief that the sensitive nuclear technologies related to enrichment and reprocessing should not spread horizontally.2 We need to continue to strengthen the safeguards capabilities of the IAEA. We did that with a budget increase for the current biennium. We are doing that by looking to see the Additional Protocol become the new universal standard [for safeguards].3 We hope that Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) countries will agree not to sell nuclear technology to countries that don't have in place an additional protocol or certainly [haven't] signed one by 2005. …