Magazine article Newsweek International

Gareth Evans: A Nuclear Watershed

Magazine article Newsweek International

Gareth Evans: A Nuclear Watershed

Article excerpt

Byline: Andrew Bast

World leaders have descended on the United Nations in New York to spend the month reviewing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The agenda is long: Iran, disarmament, and new nuclear plants. NEWSWEEK's Andrew Bast talked to Gareth Evans, former Australian foreign minister and current co-chair of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, about what is becoming a "watershed year" in global nuclear politics.

North Korea has a weapons program. Iran seems to be developing one. Are negotiations and sanctions proving to be an impotent strategy?

They're the only strategy we have. More, I don't think we should abandon the hope of a negotiated solution to both. In the case of North Korea, the genie is partly out of the bottle, but only partly. We have a lot of pressure on them from the regional players in the Six-Party Talks. Ultimately, there's the possibility of the North Koreans agreeing to denuclearize in return for security guarantees and economic support.

And Iran?

The name of the game is recognizing the reality that Iran is determined to retain their enrichment capability and maybe to have full, virtual breakout capability. But it's by no means clear that they are determined to acquire weapons themselves. That's a critical distinction. The international community shouldn't be spooked by them getting very close to that critical dividing line, provided they don't cross it. We've lived with this situation with many other countries around the world, frankly, and there's still enough reason, from my own close involvement with this issue over many years, to believe that the Iranians have made a cost-benefit judgment that the costs of crossing that big red line far exceed any conceivable benefit that flow from it.

With Russia and the U.S. reaching a new START agreement to reduce their nuclear-weapons stockpiles, are we on a road to zero? …

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