Arms Control, Deterrence, and Preemption in the Fight against Proliferation

By Wortzel, Larry | Hampton Roads International Security Quarterly, October 15, 2004 | Go to article overview

Arms Control, Deterrence, and Preemption in the Fight against Proliferation


Wortzel, Larry, Hampton Roads International Security Quarterly


TESTIMONY OF LARRY M. WORTZEL, Ph.D. VICE PRESIDENT AND DIRECTOR THE KATHRYN AND SHELBY CULLOM DAVIS INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDIES THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION BEFORE THE HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES REGARDING COMBATING WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION March 17, 2004

Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me to address the threats posed by the proliferation of nuclear, biological, chemical, and radiological weapons and the means to deliver them.

The dangers posed to the American people and our allies by such weapons have multiplied significantly in the past few years. Military measures such as deterrence and political means like arms control, which proved reasonably effective during the Cold War, are more difficult in a world with multiple actors that have, seek, and may use such weapons. The existence of non-state actors that function on a global scale, such as al-Qaeda, that may gain access to weapons of mass destruction significantly changes the habitual calculus of deterrence and arms control, particularly because for the terrorists neither regime survival nor the survival of a state is involved in their decision calculus. Indeed, even personal survival is often not a consideration.

In today's threat environment a successful policy for combating weapons of mass destruction addresses the most serious danger to the peace of the world and the security of the United States. As President Bush pointed out in a White House fact sheet on February 11, 2004, chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists or rogue regimes could bring catastrophic harm to America and to the international community.

Diplomatic measures and nonproliferation regimes alone will never be sufficient to curb these dangerous threats; they lack the threat of force. The approach taken by the President in the Proliferation Security Initiative adds another tool to the toolbox as a means between holding meetings and declaring war. A successful policy for combating the spread of weapons of mass destruction, however, depends on using the following four tools in a balanced and concerted way: deterrence, defense, offensive operations, and arms control (including export controls).

Proliferation Security Initiative

The Proliferation Security Initiative, despite the fact that it was launched less than a year ago, has been quite successful in encouraging international cooperation on interdicting illicit trafficking of weapons. It is a creative approach that works to develop cooperation among like-minded states in a manner that allows each to enforce its customs and security programs within its own sovereign territory. Moreover, the PSI has the attraction of being a new international regime into which nations opt of their own volition, without some attempt to create a new external bureaucracy that limits national sovereignty or subordinates it to a supra- national organization. As the Bush Administration works to maintain momentum, the PSI should be driven by the following four principles:

The PSI should seek a healthy competition with the treaty-based (NPT, BWC, CWC) non-proliferation regimes.

It should avoid creating an international bureaucracy.

It should seek to harness the power of sovereign states, not create an internationally based alternative power center.

It should avoid quid pro quo deals in which non-proliferation obligations are obtained at the expense of accepting technology and trade obligations that undermine the non-proliferation goal.

As attractive as this new approach may be, it has limitations. Ships or aircraft that attempt to transport weapons of mass destruction, delivery means, or the technologies to manufacture such deadly weapons must pass through or stop at the customs territories of the cooperating nations. …

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