John Burroughs, J.D., Ph.D., is Executive Director of the New York-based Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, the UN Office of International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms. He represents LCNP in Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review proceedings, the United Nations, and other international forums. Dr. Burroughs is co-editor and contributor, Nuclear Disorder or Cooperative Security? (2007); co-editor and contributor, Rule of Power or Rule of Law? An Assessment of U.S. Policies and Actions Regarding Security-Related Treaties (2003); and author of The Legality of Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons: A Guide to the Historic Opinion of the International Court of Justice (1998). He has additionally published articles and op-eds in journals and newspapers including the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the World Policy Journal, and Newsday. Dr. Burroughs also is an adjunct professor of international law at Rutgers Law School, Newark.
Sergio de Queiroz Duarte was the United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, with the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs. He was appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in July 2007 and retired in February 2012.
Ambassador Duarte served the Brazilian Foreign Service for 48 years. He was the Ambassador of Brazil in a number of countries, including Austria, Croatia, Slovakia and China In 2005, he was the President of the 2005 Seventh Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
+ Nuclear Weapons and Divine Intervention
Since the mid-1990’s progress in multilateral efforts in the field of disarmament has eluded the international community. In the past, the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament was successful in negotiating important international instruments such as the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). It was also at the Conference’s predecessor organ, the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee, that a draft Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was discussed before being sent for endorsement by the United Nations General Assembly and eventually becoming the cornerstone of the internatioal non-proliferation regime.
For nearly two decades now, however, the Conference, which was established in 1978 by the I Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly devoted to disarmament with a specific negotiating mandate, has been unable to agree even on a program of work. In recent years, results of the yearly sessions of the I Committee of the General Assembly and the United Nations Disarmament Commission have been equally disappointing. No agreement has been possible on the major items under consideration by these multilateral organs.
By contrast, efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons can be generally considered quite satisfactory. After such weapons started to proliferate in 1945 only nine States, to date, have acquired autonomous atomic armament. One nation voluntarily dismantled its nuclear weapons and three others renounced the nuclear military option and divested themselves of their arsenals.All four joined the NPT as non-nuclear weapon States. So far, non-nuclear Parties to the Treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons have complied with their obligations under that instrument. Since the Democratic Peoples’s Republic of Korea announced its withdrawal from the NPT and conducted nuclear test explosions, no other nation followed that path. Only four States are currently not Party to the NPT. Nuclear weapon free zones have been established in large regions of the world, encompassing 113 States, plus Mongolia.
Clearly, efforts to achieve the elimination of existing nuclear weapons have been lagging painfully behind. The two States that possess the largest arsenals announced reductions in their nuclear forces. The latest such cuts should be completed in 2018, although there is no independent verification system to confirm the results reported. At the same time, however, they continue to devote large financial and technological resources to “modernize” their weapons and refuse to accept irreversible, verifiable and legally binding obligations to eliminate nuclear armament. The lesser possessors are also reticent about engaging in similar commitments and all nine nuclear-weapon States continue to argue that their atomic armament is essential for their own security.
Some progress has been achieved in securing nuclear materials in order to prevent their acquisition and use by non-State actors, although much additional work is needed in this direction.
Meanwhile, civil society organizations are stepping up efforts to highlight the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any nuclear detonations as a basis for their demand for an immediate ban on the production, possession and use of atomic weapons. Widespread support for these efforts, however, was dismissed as a “distraction” by nuclear-armed States, which continue to advocate a “step-by-step” approach mainly through proposals such as a “cut-off” on the production of nuclear material for weapons purposes by non-nuclear nations, while their own large stocks would be untouched. Many non-nuclear States argue that such a measure would be irrelevant and redundant, since that production is aready prohibited to them by the NPT, under verification by the IAEA. In their view, a “cut-off” as proposed would simply widen the gulf between “haves” and “have nots” and further restrict their civil nuclear industry with no gain for nuclear disarmament.
Despite the auspicious adoption of a Plan of Action at the 2010 Review Conference of the NPT, prospects for the forthcoming gathering of the Parties of that Treaty in 2015 seem quite bleak. As the deadlock in multilateral disarmament organs continues, no headway has been made onthe key issue of the convening of a conference on the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. Due to the deterioration of the political situation in that region there is little hope that a breakthrough could be achieved by the time the Parties to the NPT meet in April-May next year. At the same time, events in the Ukraine and its borders with Russia brought about a serious deterioration of the political climate between the West and Moscow, drastically compromising the possibility of further progress in bilateral arms-reducing agreements, let alone in multilateral forums. The prospect of an accelerated arms race in Northeast Asia and the Pacific also worries observers and governments alike. Concern about this situation seems to have prompted a reputed institution devoted to studies on non-proliferation and disarmament matters to open a public contest for fresh suggestions and proposals that may facilitate progress. It is doubtful that any new, original and untried ideas will come out of that contest, but it is worth the effort. In any case, it is fitting, in this context, to recall the words of former United States General Lee Butler, head of the US strategic air command (Stratcom) whose mission is to control nuclear weapons and strategy. Twenty years ago, he wrote that mankind had so far survived the nuclear era “by some combination of skill, luck, and divine intervention, and I suspect the latter in greatest proportion.” These words sound frighteningly true to-day.
The current stagnation in disarmament efforts described above carries the risk of an increased arms race and further proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The international community must redouble its efforts to avert such dangers. The human race cannot longer be held hostage to doctrines of nuclear deterrence that contemplate the use of such means of mass destruction even against non-nuclear States. It is high time for mankind to start relying on common sense rather than on divine help.
*Ambassador (ret.), former United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs
Siegfried S. Hecker is a professor (research) in the Department of Management Science and Engineering and a senior fellow at CISAC and FSI. He is also an emeritus director of Los Alamos National Laboratory. He was co-director of CISAC from 2007-2012. Hecker currently is on sabbatical working on a book project and will return to Stanford in the summer of 2013 to resume his research and teaching.
He is also an emeritus director of Los Alamos National Laboratory.
William Lanouette is a writer and policy analyst who has specialized in the interplay between science and politics. His doctoral thesis (at the London School of Economics) studied the use and abuse of scientific information by American and British legislators – a topic that prepared him well for work as a Senior Analyst in energy and science issues at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (1991-2006).
Before joining GAO, he was a reporter for Newsweek, a writer for The National Observerand National Journal, and Washington Correspondent for The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – with freelance pieces for The Atlantic, The Economist, and Scientific American.
Bill has written about nuclear weapons and nuclear power since he covered the SALT talks in 1969, and is the author of Genius in the Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard, The Man Behind the Bomb.
Steven Lee is a Professor of Philosophy at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, New York and the author of several books on ethics and nuclear weapons. The titles include Intervention, Terrorism, and Torture: Contemporary Challenges to Just War Theory Springer, Morality, Prudence, and Nuclear Weapons Cambridge University Press, 1993
Joseph Masco, Author of The Nuclear Borderlands:The Manhattan Project in Post-Cold War New Mexico, looked at the nuclear age by exploring how the end of the Cold War challenged concepts of security and risk for the diverse communities working in and neighboring Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. His current work examines the evolution of the national security state in the United States, with a particular focus on the interplay between affect, technology, and threat perception within a national public sphere. He is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and of the Social Sciences at the University of Chicago where he writes and teaches courses on science and technology, U.S. national security culture, political ecology, mass media and critical theory.
Benoît Pelopidas is a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford University. He received his Ph.D. in political science from Sciences Po (Paris) and the University of Geneva in 2010 and was a postdoctoral fellow at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in 2010-2011. Since 2005, he has been teaching international relations at Sciences Po (Paris), the University of Geneva and the Monterey Institute of International Studies (Graduate School of International Policy and Management).
In 2010, he won the “Outstanding Student Essay Prize” from the Doreen and Jim McElvany Nonproliferation Essay Competition and in 2011, he was awarded the “Best Graduate Paper 2010” from the International Security Studies Section of the International Studies Association. Also in 2011, he won the SNIS Award 2010 for the Best Thesis in International Studies from the Swiss Network for International Studies.
He published When Empire Meets Nationalism: Power Politics in the US and Russia (with Didier Chaudet and Florent Parmentier; Ashgate, 2009) as well as articles in The Nonproliferation Review, the European Journal of Social Sciences, the Swiss Political Science Review, and the French Yearbook of International Relations.
His research focuses on epistemic communities in international security, renunciation of nuclear weapons as a historical possibility, the uses of nuclear history and memory and French nuclear policies.
His Giving Up Nuclear Weapons Ambitions is forthcoming with Sciences Po University Press in 2012.
Randy Rydell is Senior Political Affairs Officer in the Office of Ms. Angela Kane, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs at the United Nations. He served from January 2005 to June 2006 as Senior Counsellor and Report Director of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission (Blix Commission) and Senior Fellow at the Arms Control Association in Washington, D.C. He joined the UN secretariat in 1998, where has served as an adviser to Under-Secretary-General Jayantha Dhanapala and his successors, Ambassadors Nobuyasu Abe and Nobuaki Tanaka.
Rydell worked for Senator John Glenn between 1987 and 1998 as a member of the Professional Staff of the Committee on Governmental Affairs of the United States Senate. He assisted in the drafting and subsequent enactment of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act of 1994 and other legislation. He also served as a staff member of the Senate’s Arms Control Observer Group.
He was an international political analyst at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory from 1980 to 1986, where he studied the problem of the global spread of nuclear weapons.
He worked as a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for Science and International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University from 1979 to 1980.
He received a B.A. in Government and Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia (1973), an M.Sc. in International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science (1974), an M.A. in Political Science from Princeton University (1977), and a Ph. D. in Political Science from Princeton (1980).
Alyn Ware, a former kindergarten teacher and peace educator from New Zealand, is an international consultant on nuclear disarmament and the global coordinator of Paliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament. A winner of the 2009 Right Livelihood Award (sometimes called the ‘Alternative Nobel Peace Prize’), which rated him “one of the world’s most effective peace workers,” Ware was instrumental in a World Court case which affirmed the general illegality of nuclear weapons, has drafted nuclear disarmament resolutions adopted by the United Nations and coordinated the development of the Model Nuclear Weapons Convention, now being promoted by the UN Secretary-General.