Controlling the Bomb: International Constraints on Nuclear WeaponsAre Not Enough

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Controlling the Bomb: International Constraints on Nuclear WeaponsAre Not Enough

May 19, 1993 22 min read Download Report
Seth Cropsey
Seth Cropsey
Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, Director of Hudson's Center for American Seapower

(Archived document, may contain errors)

941 May 19, 1993 CONTROLLING THE BOMB INTERNATIONAL CONSTRAINTS ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS ARE NOT ENOUGH INTRODUCTION Could the Persian Gulf war have gone nuclear? The suggestion is not so farfetched.

After the war, nuclear weapons inspectors uncovered evidence that Iraqi efforts to obtain a nuclear weapon were much further advanced than Western governments had believed.

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (MA)-an organization affili ated with the United Nations that monitors nuclear programs worldwide-discovered that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was only months away from construction o f a nuclear weapon. Saddam was building a nuclear weapon despite the fact that Iraq is a signatory to the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT which is the centerpiece of the inter national communitys campaign to prevent the spread of nuclear weapon s. In signing the NPT, non-nuclear states forswear the development of nuclear weapons.

Charged by the U.N. with monitoring international compliance with the NPT, the IAEA regularly inspects nuclear research and power facilities to prevent the diversion of osten sibly peaceful nuclear facilities to weapons programs. But Iraq had built extensive weap ons development facilities clandestinely, outside the view of IAEA inspectors, in clear violation of Iraqs commitment under the NPT not to acquire nuclear weapo ns.

The revelations about Iraqs secret nuclear weapons progrsim, combined with North Koreas March 11 announcement of its decision to withdraw from the NPT, have raised questions about the value of the NPT and the competence of the IAEA in detecting and pre venting the diversion of nuclear power technology and materials to weapons pro grams. The revelations also have prompted many in Congress to advocate expanding the IAEAs inspection authority to search for facilities that member countries have con 1 For on e of the harshest assessments of the IAEA, see Gary Milhollin, The Iraqi Bomb, The New Yorker, February 1,1993. ceded. Proponents of strengthening IAEA also recommend increasing U.S. funding for the IAEA from about $22 million a year to over $27 million.

While there are ways to improve the IAEA, there are limits to what the agency can do.

It is a common misunderstanding that the IAEA is responsible for enforcing the NFT. In fact, it is responsible only for detecting the diversion of peaceful nuclear facili ties and materials to military purposes. Further, as an international organization, the IAEA must seek a consensus among its member states. These include the very nations whose nuclear inspects and on whose cooperation it,ultimately must rely. Th i s limits the IAEAs effectiveness because individual countries may refuse to allow inspectors to search for nuclear facilities they have hidden. The uncovering of Iraqs secret program was possible only because the inspections were forced on Baghdad as a co n sequence of its defeat in the 1991 Gulf war prevent. The IAEA charter directs the organization to assist its member countries in de veloping nuclear technology. This is a result of the original Eisenhower Atoms for Peace proposal for the peaceful use of n uclear power that served as the foundation for the MA. Thus, the IAEA inadvertently may be assisting some countries in gaining the technical expertise to develop nuclear weapons.

Given these circumstances, it is clear that tinkering with the IAEA will not substan tially slow the spread of nuclear weapons. Therefore, the U.S. needs to be cautious about the various proposals for strengthening the IAEA. Rather than relying exclusively on the IAEA to curtail the spread of nuclear weapons, the U.S. needs a poli c y backing up a strengthened IAEA with stronger U.S. action. Thus, the U.S. should The IAEA also may be contributing to the very problem of proliferation that it seeks to d Urge the IAEA Board of Governors, the organizations policy-making body, to focus in spections on countries that pose the most urgent proliferation threats.

The IAEA historically has conducted its inspections of nuclear facilities ac cording to the number of nuclear facilities a particular country possesses and the ease of confirming that these facilities have not been used for military pur poses. As such, countries which pose little threat of developing their own nu clear weapons, such as Germany and Japan, are inspected repeatedly, while countries such as Iraq have received relatively fe w inspections. Since the risk of proliferation is based on the desire of specific governments to acquire nu- clear weapons; not on the number or type of nuclear facilities any particular nation possesses, the schedule of IAEA inspections should take into a c count the compliance record compiled by individual members d Scale back the IAEAs technical assistance programs, which help member coun tries develop their own nuclear industries. The IAEAs assistance of member countries in developing their nuclear indust r ies can run counter to its non-pro liferation mission. By providing these countries with the technology to pro duce fissionable material, the IAEA can inadvertently be assisting a secret nu clear weapons program. Before Congress increases funding for the I AEA to improve inspections, the money for the technical assistance programs should first be reduced. This will force the IAEA to be more careful about which countries it assists and the sort of assistance it provides. Before Congress gives more money to t h e IAEA, it should be assured .that the funds will not 2 go to assist a country like Iraq. Nor should they be used to improve the capac ity of nuclear programs to produce fissionable material spectors. There is no reason why the U.S. must rely on the IAEA a lone to dis cover whether a country is diverting nuclear material to the production of weapons In addition to expanding its intelligence programs to monitor nu clear proliferation, the U.S. should insist on performing its own inspections to supplement tho s e conducted by the-IbEA:While,the Clinton Administration should press for inspections in all countries suspected of violations, it should insist on inspections in all countries receiving nuclear fuel and technical assis tance from the U.S. Refusal to acce pt supplemental U.S. inspections should be interpreted as a signal that the country is trying to obtain nuclear weapons.

Washington should then cut off all nuclear fuel supplies and technical assis tance programs d Press for non-proliferation inspections o f foreign nuclear facilities by U.S. in- d Press to halt the growth of uranium enrichment and reprocessing facilities These technologies are essential to producing highly enriched uranium and plutonium, the key ingredients for producing nuclear weapons. O f course these facilities are also used for making fuel for non-military nuclear reactors.

To prevent countries from building uranium enrichment and reprocessing fa cilities of their own, the U.S. should propose establishing reprocessing facili ties in the U.S. and the other nuclear weapons states designated by the Nu clear Non-Proliferation Treaty: China, France, Great Britain, and Russia?

The goals should be not only to prevent the proliferation of enrichment and reprocessing facilities, but to limit international trade in the most sensitive ele ments of nuclear weapons production d Reserve the right to use military force to defend America from nucl e ar prolifera tion threats. No arms control effort, no matter how tightly written or strictly implemented, will stop proliferation completely. Some countries will refuse to participate in an arms control agreement, or if they do agree, they will vio late i t . Therefore, the U.S. will need to maintain the military capability to stop the transfers of sensitive nuclear production equipment and technology to hos tile countries and to disable or destroy nuclear weapons facilities. Covert ac tions and military ope r ations are appropriate.means for counteringmuclear proliferation if it endangers American national security I 2 While the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty designates the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as one of the five states designated to possess s u ch weapons, Russia is expected to succeed the USSR in this capacity 3 THE INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN TO CONTROL THE SPREAD OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS The centerpiece of the international effort to curtail the spread of nuclear arms is the 1968 Nuclear Non-Prolif erat i on Treaty (NPT Under this agreement, five designated nuclear weapons states-the U.S Britain China, France, and Russia (which re places the Soviet Union) pledged not to provide nuclear weapons or the technology to construct them to other countries. These f ive weapons states also agreed to support peaceful nu clear programs in non-weapon states.

Non-weapon states signing the NPT meaning all others that acceded to the Treaty, promised not to acquire nu clear explosives and to place their nu clear facilities u nder international safeguards. The NFT currently has over 150 participating states. The ra tionale behind the NPT is to use the desire of non-weapon states to ac quire nuclear technology, primarily as a means to generate electrical power, as an incentive to gain pledges to forswear building nuclear arms Countries on the Waiting List to Join the Nuclear Club and Their Membership in International Nuclear Organizations Signatow Member NPT I I North Korea has announced its intention to withchw fiom the NPT.

UO W NPT=Non-Froliferation Treaty, IAEA=lntemationaI Atomic Energy Agency. The Nuclear Club k made up of Britain, China France, Russia. and the US The primary responsibility for de tecting the diversion of nuclear tech nology to weapons purposes rests with t h e International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA The IAEA was cre ated in 1957 as an outgrowth of President Dwight Eisenhowers Atoms for Peace plan first proposed in a December 8, 1953, speech to the U.N. General Assembly. Eisenhower offered to help other count ries to take advantage of the peaceful uses of nuclear power.

Underlying this proposal was the assumption that the most effective way to stop nuclear proliferation was for the U.S. and other nuclear powers to achieve greater control over the trade in nuclear technology.

The IAEA was formed to serve two purposes: to facilitate international cooperation in developing nuclear energy programs for peaceful purposes, and to monitor whether na tions receiving nuclear technology were using it to build weapons. Alt hough the IAEA was established before the NPT, it was accorded the role of safeguarding against the di version of nuclear technology under the terms of the NPT. The IAEAs responsibility was to confirm that a non-weapon state was using its nuclear faciliti e s only for peaceful 4 purposes. While the IAEA has the right to inspect facilities, it has no power to enforce compliance with the IWT. Enforcement is the responsibility of the international commu nity. The IAEA reports annually to the U.N. General Assemb ly and to the U.N. Security Council. When a country is caught violating the NPT the Security Council is supposed to recommend action to enforce the agreement.

Headquartered in Vienna, the IAEA consists of three main organizations: the Board of Governors th e General Conference, and the Secretariat. The Board of Governors is the senior policy-ann-of the Agency=.Its 35 membersserve oae-year terms. The General Con ference is comprised of delegates from each of the IAEAs 114 member states Its role is confined l a rgely to organizational questions. Proposals before the General Conference must be approved by two-thirds of the members present. The Secretariat, led by a Direc tor General, performs the daily functions of the IAEA. These include inspections of nu clear f acilities and technical assistance to member states. The Director General, currently Hans Blix of Sweden, is elected to a four-year term by the Board Governors with the ap proval of the General Conference. The IAEA budget in 1990 was about $178 million wi th the U.S. contributing about 22 million.

The IAEA inspection staff monitors nuclear facilities throughout the world to detect whether nuclear materials intended for peaceful purposes are being used to construct weapons. These inspectors, who may be drawn from any member country, monitor the transfer of nuclear materials to nuclear facilities. Nuclear weapons can be produced from either highly enriched uranium or plutonium. Highly enriched uranium consists of at least 90 percent of the uranium 235 isotope . Low-enriched uranium, which consists of about 3 percent of uranium 235, is used in most power reactors. Since natural uranium contains less than 1 percent uranium 235, some degree of treatment, or enrichment, is re quired to produce fuel for nuclear powe r reactors. The IAEA monitors the fuel to assure that it is not enriched further to produce bomb-grade material.

Plutonium is produced from natural or low-enriched uranium fuel in power reactors as the fuel is spent during power production. The reaction cy cle transmutes small quantities of the uranium fuel into plutonium, which must be extracted from the spent fuel. This ex traction procedure is called reprocessing. In this instance, the IAEA inspectors account for the spent fuel to ensure that none has be e n used for producing plutonium through reprocessing. Plutonium also can be used as a power reactor fuel. While the U.S. has abandoned its plutonium fuel program, Britain, France, Germany, and Japan have contin ued theirs. Where power reactors arei fueled with plutonium, the IAEA inspectors must account for the plutonium to ensure that none has been diverted to produce a nuclear weapon.

While the majority of facilities inspected by the IAEA are those that have been de clared by individual governments, the I AEA has the authority to conduct uninvited spe cial inspections of the nuclear facilities that are not acknowledged by the member govern ment. But it has shown reluctance to undertake such special inspections without authori zation from the U.N. Security Council. The reason: the IAEA depends on a consensus in making decisions and is reluctant to accuse a member of violating its non-proliferation commitments. Such timidity was a key factor in Iraqs ability to dupe nuclear inspectors.

Iraq constructed severa l secret nuclear facilities which it refused to acknowledge to the IAEA. Prior to the Gulf war, the IAEA did not order special inspections of Iraqs nuclear facilities because it feared undermining the Agencys international consensus I 5 Building on the NP T The efforts of the IAEA were supplemented in the 1970s by two international organiza tions which established guidelines for the export of nuclear materials, production equip ment, and technologies. The first was the Non-Proliferation Treaty Exporters Com m ittee organized by advanced countries, often referred to as the Zangger Committee, after its Chairman, Swiss nuclear expert Claude Zangger As a result of the Zangger Committees work ten countries, including the U.S Britain, and the Soviet Union, establish e d in Au gust 1974a list of nuclear materials and production equipment that would not be ex ported unless the purchasing country abided by IAEA safeguard These countries have since been joined by several other countries, including Japan and Sweden, capable of ex porting nuclear technology.

The Zangger Committee guidelines were expanded through meetings of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, another association of countries that export nuclear technology. Mem bers of this group are the U.S Canada, France, Britain, Japan, the Soviet Union, and West Germany. The Nuclear Suppliers Group agreed in January 1976 to expand on the Zangger Committee guidelines by including France (which was then neither a signatory to the NPT nor a participant in the Zangger Committee The g r oup also agreed to im pose export guidelines not only on nuclear technology, but on nuclear materials and pro duction equipment. Other countries have since adopted the Nuclear Supplier Group guidelines as well. These countries are Australia, Belgium, Czec h oslovakia, East Ger many, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, and Switzerland! The Nuclear Suppliers Group, during a meeting in March 1991, established additional export guide lines on equipment used to produce nuclear facilities and equipmen t that could be used either in the nuclear sector or other industries IRAQS NUCLEAR WEAPONS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM The combination of international control mechanisms on the export and use of nuclear materials, production equipment, and technology is designed to detect and ultimately deter circumvention of the NPT. But the system is far from perfect, as the revelations re garding Iraqs secret nuclear weapons program have made clear.

Begun in the mid-l950s, Iraqs nuclear program was at first modest. Baghdad ope ned a Soviet-supplied research reactor in 1968 and acceded to the NPT the following year. In the 1970s Iraq became more ambitious, acquiring French assistance for its nuclear power and research program5 The French agreed to help Iraq build two reactors at the Tuwaitha site near Baghdad. The larger of the two reactors was known as Osirak. The project quickly raised concerns about proliferation because the Osirak reactor required highly en 3 Leonard s. Spector, Nuclear Proliferation Today (Cambridge, Massach usetts: Ballinger, 1984 pp. 446-4

47. The original ten countries were: U.S., Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Norway, the Soviet Union, and West Germany 4 Ibid pp. 447-45 1 5 For a detailed desc ription of Iraqs nuclear program prior to the destruction of Tammuz I reactor by the Israelis in 1981, see ibid pp.165-188 6 riched uranium fuel, a material suitable for constructing an explosive device. In addition the reactor was capable of producing sm all quantities of plutonium.

The Iraqi government also bought from Italy the technology needed to extract pluto nium from treated uranium, which is necessary to construct an explosive device. Iraq purchased large quantities of processed uranium ore and sma ller quantities of depleted uranium from Brazil, Italy, Niger, and Portugal. This uranium could be transformed into weapons-grade plutonium in the Osirak reactor Iraq7sdrive to velop-nuclearweapons-was3et b-ack when Israeli jets destroyed the Osirak react or on June 7, 19

81. Attempts to rebuild the reactor after the raid were ham pered because of several of Iraqs suppliers of nuclear technology-primarily France and Italy-would not provide assistance until Iraq first complied with IAEA safeguards. But Iraq launched a more vigorous effort to obtain nuclear weapons as its 1980-1988 war with Iran wound down. This increased activity resulted in a series of revelations in 1989 about Iraqs secret nuclear program. In 1989 Western governments discovered that Iraq w as trying to obtain uranium enrichment centrifuges, which are used to increase the con centration of the isotope uranium 2

35. On March 28,1990, a U.S. Customs Service sting operation led to the arrest of five people in London for attempting to acquire nu clear bomb triggers for Iraq6 Despite these revelations, the full extent of Iraqs nuclear program did not become ap parent until after the end of Operation Desert Storm in early 19

91. As a condition for ter minating the conflict U.N. Security Council Res olution 687 required Iraq to destroy all of its nuclear weapons facilities. To implement the resolution, the Security Council in structed the IAEA to conduct inspections of Iraqs nuclear facilities, beginning in May 1991 Before the inspections began, Iraq revealed for the first time that it was roducing its p own processed uranium ore (called yellowcake) at its Al-Qaim facility. But the Iraqis deliberately understated the scale of their uranium-enrichment program. During their sec ond inspection in the sum m er of 1991, WEA inspectors photographed Iraqis removing uranium enrichment equipment at Falluja, some forty miles west of Baghdad.* Subse quently, Baghdad was forced to admit in a July 7,1991, letter to the Security Council that it was clandestinely opera ting three separate uranium enrichment programs, each using a different technology ing all remaining nuclear sites. Baghdad submitted a list of additional facilities three days after the deadline of July 25,19

91. This list revealed that Iraq also had moun ted a secret program for reprocessing plutonium. But even this list was incomplete. Another in spection discovered a previously unknown facility, called the Al-Furat project9 Iraqs deceptive practices toward the IAEA inspectors led to a U.N. deadline for reveal 6 7 Leonard S. Spector, Nuclear Ambitions (Boulder, Colorado: Westview, 1990 pp. 192-193.

David Kay, testimony before the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Senate Hearing 102-422 Nuclear Proliferation: Learning from the Iraq Exper ience (Washington, D.C Government Printing Office, 1992 p. 14 8 Ibid p. 15 9 Ibid 7 .In September 1991, an IAEA inspection team discovered at a petrochemical facility near Baghdad over 45,000 pages of documents outlining the full scope of the Iraqi nu cle a r weapons program. The documents removed all doubt that Iraq was managing a very ambitious clandestine nuclear weapons program he discoveries made in the earlier in spections led the IAEA to supervise the destruction of Iraqi nuclear facilities at Al Athe er and other locations in April, May, and June of 19

92. The August 1992 IAEA in spection led the inspection teams leader, Maurizio Zifferero, to declare that the Iraqi nu clear program was at zero. But the IAEA also recommended caution, arguing that Iraq still refiiinsthe scientific expertisemd technical know-how to resume its nuclear weap ons program.

IAEA inspections continue in Iraq despite Saddams footdragging and frequent non compliance. The Iraqis are hostile toward the IAEA inspectors, often trying to intimidate them with threats of force. Western observers speculate that the Iraqis may be trying to prevent the IAEA from discovering a secret underground nuclear facility 11 IRAQS NUCLEAR PROGRAM SPURS CONGRESS INTO ACTION The dramatic revelations un e arthed by the inspections of Iraqs nuclear program have spurred Congress to consider several legislative proposals to strengthen the IAEA Among these is an increase in U.S. funding for the IAEA and an expansion of its author ity to conduct inspections of s o-called undeclared nuclear facilities. Companion mea sures offered in the last Congress by Representative Edward Markey (H.R. 2755) and then-SenatorTimothy Wirth (S. 1601) would direct the U.S. to undertake multilateral ne gotiations to expand the inspec t ion authority of the IAEA. Two other companion mea sures, introduced by Representative Fortney Stark (H.J.Res. 351) and Senator John Glenn (S.J.Res. 216 recommend giving the IAEA the power to impose fines on coun tries that violate safeguard procedures. S t ark and Glenn also proposed expanding the cov erage of IAEA safeguards to include facilities that manufacture equipment, such as centri fuges that are used to produce fissionable material or nuclear explosives. While neither of these proposals was enacted in 102nd Congress, attempts certainly will be made to adopt them in the current 103rd Congress Meakness of the IAEA Action Proposals There are two problems with Congresss approach to strengthening the IAEA. First congressional reformers focus almost exclu s ively on the IAEAs inspection mandate while ignoring the fact that the IAEAs role in assisting supposedly non-military nuclear industries inadvertently contributes to the problem of proliferation. Second, the proposal by Representative Stark and Senator G l enn overlooks the weaknesses of the IAEA which can work only when a consensus exists among its members. Although a strong in ternational consensus produced dramatic results in ferreting out Iraqs nuclear secrets this was an unusual situation because of th e obvious threatening nature of Iraq. Such an 10 1bid.p. 16 11 Reuter, Iraq Seen Unable to Make A-Bomb. The Washingron Post, September 5, 1992, p. A30 8 international consensus may be lacking in the future if the offender is less bellicose than Saddam Huss ein.

It would be unwise for the U.S. to become overly reliant on the IAEA for curtailing the spread of nuclear weapons. The agency has failed in the past, and it will surely fail again. America needs a stronger policy, one that does not depend exclusively on the good will and agreement of other nations STRENGTHENING THE MEA The U.S. should recognize the IAEA has both strengths and weaknesses. Once this is realized, the Clinton Administration can develop an anti-proliferation policy that seeks not only to r e form the IAEA, but to prepare for the times when it will surely fail. Thus the U.S. should d Urge the IAEA Board of Governors to focus inspections on countries that pose the most urgent proliferation threats Some countries receive far fewer IAEA inspectio n s than others. For example, while Iran and India are seldom inspected Canada, Germany, and Japan, together account for two-thirds of IAEA inspections.12 To be sure, Canada, Germany, and Japan have more nuclear facilities to inspect than Iran or India, and these facilities are of types that need to be closely monitored to account for the whereabouts of their nuclear fuel. But there is no indication that these three countries have attempted to use their nuclear fa cilities to build nuclear weapons. The same c annot be said of India, which exploded a nuclear device in 1974, and Iran, which is believed to be pursuing a nuclear weapons program. Therefore, the IAEA's system for scheduling inspections is not only wasteful and inefficient, but ineffective because it targets the wrong countries.

The risk of nuclear proliferation posed by a country is based on the nuclear ambi tions of its government, not merely on the number or type of its nuclear facilities.

Therefore, the IAEA should revise its inspection schedules to concentrate on the most likely threats of nuclear proliferation, such as Iraq. The IAEA also should establish a minimum number of inspections even for countries with spotless records. No country should be allowed to exempt itself from the inspection p r ocess d Scale back the IAEA's technical assistance programs, which help member countries develop their own nuclear industries The IAEA historically has allocated funds equally to inspection and technical assis tance programs. In 1992, roughly $65 million w ill go to each of these activities.13 This division of resources, largely the result of demands by Third World members, is mis placed. More funds should be given to inspections than to assisting non-military nu clear programs. Before the U.S. makes large- s cale increases in its contribution to the 12 Telephone interview on June 12,1992, with David Sloss, of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency 13 These figures were supplied by the International Atomic Energy Agency Liaison Office in New York 9 IAEA budge t , it should demand that the IAEA give a higher priority to its inspection or safeguard budget ation mission. Since this assistance sometimes ends up helping tyrants like Saddam Hussein to build weapons, it should be curtailed. Before Congress increases fu n ding for the IAEA, it should press it to reduce spending on technical assistance to question able countries like Iran and Iraq. It is disturbing that the IAEA in 1990 provided Iraq The IAEAs technical assistance to nuclear industries runs counter to its n o nprolifer d with $266,OOO&tecknical assistan~e i d Press for non-proliferation inspections of foreign nuclear facilities by U.S. inspectors When the U.S. and other nuclear supplier states provide nuclear fuel or facilities to so-called non-weapons states, they generally require that the recipient country allow periodic IAEA inspections of its facilities. The U.S. and other nuclear suppliers rely heavily on the IAEA to warn them if nuclear fuel or facilities are used illegally to man ufacture weapons.

The I AEAs Director General, Hans Blix, has emphasized that much of Iraqs illegal nuclear activity was conducted secretly at sites not monitored by the IAEA. Indeed, on October 8, 1991, he told the U.N. Security Council: The lessons from Iraq are almost written on the wall. No inspection system can blindly grope for undeclared facili ties.15 But Blix is sidestepping an important point. Iraq was able to produce unde tected small amounts of lutonium from uranium at its Tuwaitha facility, which was under IAEA safeg uards.Ps Therefore, there is reason to believe that IAEA safeguards may not be adequate to prevent a determined regime from attaining nuclear weapons.

The U.S. need not rely exclusively on the IAEA to discover whether the NPT is b eing violated. In addition to focusing its own intelligence assets on detecting nuclear weapons development programs, the U.S. should insist on performing its own inspec tions of nuclear facilities to supplem&t those conducted by the IAEA. Supplemental in s pections could be stipulated as part of a sales agreement with a foreign countrys nu clear agency. In addition, the U.S. could provide inspection services as part of an agreement between other countries. For example, it could assist South Korea in in spec t ing the nuclear facilities of North Korea. While these inspections should in no way be interpreted as a substitute for IAEAinspections, they can help lessen the IAEAs heavy inspection burden. However, if a country refuses these supplemental in spections, i t should be interpreted as a sign of bad faith and as a possible indication that an illegal nuclear weapon program is underway 14 According to the International Atomic Energy Agencys 1990 Report onTechnical Assistance 15 Blixs statement is reprinted in Za c hary S. Davis and Warren H. Donnelly, Iraq and Nuclear Weapons Congressional Research Service, March 2, 1992, p. 8 16 Leonard S. Spector, Deterring Regional Threatsfrom Nuclear Proliferation (Carlisle Barracks: U.S. Army War College, 1992 p. 17 10 d Press to halt the proliferation of enrichment and reprocessing facilities Enrichment and reprocessing technologies are essential to producing highly enriched uranium or plutonium, the key ingredients for producing nuclear weapons. Thus the spread of enrichment a nd reprocessing facilities around the world is itself a nuclear weapons proliferation threat The USi: argued in the-NuclearSuppliers Group in 1975 that nuclear supplier states should prohibit the transfer of uranium. enrichment and reprocessing technology and fa cilities as a means of preventing nuclear pr01iferation.l~ The U.S. should revive this proposal and plan to establish a multilateral agreement between nuclear weapons states and non-weapon states to govern the transfer of uranium enrichment and rep r ocessing technologies. The U.S Britain, China, France, and Russia would pledge to make en riched uranium or plutonium fuel available to non-weapons states if they pledged not to build their own enrichment or reprocessing facilities. Nuclear suppliers also would 18 agree to bar the export of enrichment or reprocessing facilities and their components.

The near-term goal should be to prevent the spread of enrichment and reprocessing fa cilities beyond those countries already possessing them a/ Reserve the rig ht to use military force to defend America from nuclear proliferation threats No non-proliferation agreement, no matter how tightly written or strictly enforced will completely prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. IAEA inspections did not deter Iraq fro m trying to build nuclear weapons. While these barriers slowed the Iraqi nu clear weapons program, the 1981 Israeli raid on the Osirak reactor and the 1991 Pers ian Gulf war were mainly responsible for Saddam not getting the bomb.

The IAEA has fairly broad authority to inspect the nuclear facilities of member states, but it is not an enforcement agency. According to the MEAS charter, the IAEA Board of Governors has three options when it discovers violations. First, it can curtail or suspend nuclear assista n ce to the offending country. Second, it can demand that the member state return materials and equipment made available to it. Third, it can sus pend the countrys IAEA membership. However, the IAEA has no direct authority to dismantle, destroy, or otherwis e render harmless any nations nuclear facilities. In Iraqs case, this authority was provided by U.N. Security Council Resolution 687 which conditioned the February 27,1991, cease-fire in the Persian Gulf war on the dis mantling of Iraqs weapons of mass des truction.

To take such strong action in the future, the IAEA will need a supportive interna tional consensus and the specific approval of the Security Council. But such conditions may not be forthcoming. Given the inherent weaknesses of the IAEA as an inst itution the U.S. must be prepared to block, by military force if necessary, the transfer of sensi 17 Spector, Nuclear Proliferation Today, pp. 448-449 18 Title I of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act of 1978 contains the legislative authority for the Clint o n Administration to pursue such an agreement. tive nuclear production equipment and technology when they:pose a threat to U.S. se curity and interests. Further, Washington must be prepared to disable or destroy weap ons facilities if a transfer already ha s taken place. Covert actions and military opera tions are both necessary parts of such a policy. Covert actions could include interdict ing clandestine shipments of sensitive nuclear production equipment and weapons components. Military options include bo m bing missions such as the one undertaken by the Israelis in 1981 Also U.S. special operation forces may be called upon to disable or destroy a nuclear weapons facility. In both cases, emphasis should be placed on de veloping &lihy tactics that reduce the r isk of disbursing radioactive material CONCLUSION The revelations about Iraqs nuclear weapons program underscore the weaknesses of the IAEA as a watchdog against nuclear proliferation. Iraq is not likely to be the last country to try illegally to acquire nuclear weapons. North Korea announced its with drawal from the NPT on March 12, 19

93. It also announced it would bar IAEA inspec tors from two suspicious sites In order to address the weaknesses in the international nuclear inspection system, the U.S. fi rst will need to convince the IAEA to revise its inspection schedule. Second, it should demand that the IAEA change its budget priorities, to assure that inspection activi ties are funded more generously than technical assistance programs for nuclear indu s tries. It should back such a demand by refusing to give the IAEA more money until its current priorities change. Third, the U.S. should conduct its own inspections to supple ment those performed by the IAEA. Fourth, the U.S. should forge an international agree ment that halts the trend toward the proliferation of uranium enrichment and reprocess ing facilities around the world. Finally the U.S. must be prepared to take covert or even overt military action to stop nuclear proliferation when arms control fa ils to do the job.

This policy will build on the International Atomic Energys Agencys strengths, while compensating for its weaknesses. International agreements are not enough in the war against nuclear proliferation. A threat as serious as this requires U .S. action beyond rely ing on the good faith of the likes of Saddam Hussein.

Baker Spring Senior Policy Analyst 12


Seth Cropsey
Seth Cropsey

Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, Director of Hudson's Center for American Seapower