Pulling Back from the Nuclear Brink: Reducing and Countering Nuclear Threats
Van Nederveen, Gilles, Air & Space Power Journal
Pulling Back from the Nuclear Brink: Reducing and Countering Nuclear Threats edited by Barry R. Schneider and William L. Dowdy. Frank Cass, 5804 N.E. Hassalo Street, Portland, Oregon 97213-3644, 1998, 309 pages, $20.00.
Pulling Back from the Nuclear Brink is the product of a conference held at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, in 1996. Thus, India's and Pakistan's recent entry into the nuclear club was not considered. Some of the contributors to this book, however, do point out that in spite of the best containment and counterproliferation efforts, certain rogue states will always join the nuclear club. All contributors among them, former secretary of defense William Perry, Ambassador Robert Gallucci, and former United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) inspector David Kay-point out that, despite the success stories in South Africa and South America, the quest for nuclear weapons continues and the world must continue to be vigilant. David Kay's essay points out that a determined opponent such as Iraq can defeat national intelligence collection systems and on-site arms control inspections-the staggering amount of material found by UNSCOM is testimony enough.
William Potter critically analyzes nuclear leakage from the former Soviet Union, a topic of today's headlines. Documented cases in his chapter show a systematic attempt by Russian criminal gangs and disgruntled scientists to smuggle out enriched uranium and plutonium. Although he cannot prove direct government involvement, Potter is suspicious in two cases due to what was discovered in the West. The number of attempts gives a good clue as to how extensive the smuggling is.
US government operations to remove nuclear raw materials such as uranium from Kazakhstan have assisted in lowering the risk. Other chapters dealing with Russia reveal to the reader that dismantlement as called for in various bilateral agreements and international treaties is not progressing due to a lack of infrastructure and storage capacity as well as a deterioration of the transportation infrastructure. This, in turn, creates situations that could lead to the loss of nuclear devices or materials. Dr. Perry argues that US counterproliferation efforts must go further in ensuring that Russia disposes and safeguards its materials.
China appears to have a bureaucratic variable in its nuclear establishment, which is under pressure to generate economic and fiscal return for the investments made in nuclear devices. …