Non-Proliferation: Time For Regional Approahces?

Orbis, Vol. 38, No. 3, Summer 1994, pp. 409-424


Since 1970, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has been the primary mechanism for efforts to slow or prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. This agreement has been the cornerstone of a global non-proliferation regime that includes the verification mechanisms of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), unilateral as well as bilateral limits of exports, and agreements on ballistic missile technology, chemical weapons, and biological agents.

American government officials, and many academics and private analysts, view the goal of non-proliferation as an essential element in US foreign policy, national security, and international stability. With end of the Cold War and other major changes in the international system, the issue of proliferation has gained prominence. The NPT will be reconsidered in April 1995, in a review conference mandated by the Treaty. The Clinton Administration, as well as non- proliferation activists outside the government, have placed a high priority on the indefinite extension of the agreement.1

At the same time, the NPT and the global non-proliferation regime has many critics. The cases of Iraq, North Korea, and deep suspicion regarding Iran's nuclear ambitions have demonstrated the problem of enforcement in the existing system. In addition, there is little prospect of convincing three of the major NPT hold-outs, -- Israel, India, and Pakistan -- to accede to the Treaty, and this refusal is likely to be cited by some signatories as justification for opposing indefinite extension.

As will be argued below, efforts to gain universal acceptance of the NPT and the existing global non-proliferation regime do not provide the only or even the best means for achieving the twin goals of limiting proliferation and preserving the stability and security of the individual states. This article examines the limitations of the NPT, and the possibilities for dedicated regional frameworks to supplement the existing regime.

The Limits of the Global Regime

The NPT was opened for signature in 1970, and since then, over 150 states have signed and ratified this agreement. The basic goal of the Treaty, as stated in Article I, is to restrain signatories from providing technology or materials to other states for use in the development of nuclear weapons. While the five existing nuclear powers were recognized as such, the non- nuclear weapon states (NNWS) agreed not to develop nuclear weapons. However, the NNWSs were allowed by the Treaty to acquire materials, technology, and facilities for civil nuclear applications, and even for "peaceful nuclear explosions". Article IV notes that "Nothing in this treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination ..."

In order to verify that the NNWSs that operate ostensibly civil nuclear programs do not transfer such activity to the development of weapons, the NPT depends on a system of safeguards and inspections. These safeguards are administered by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Upon signing the NPT, member states are required to negotiate an agreement specifying verification procedures for declared nuclear materials and facilities. To limit the impact on national sovereignty, safeguards were designed to be non-intrusive, and to allow for the unfettered operation of "civil" nuclear power and research facilities. The IAEA safeguards were not designed to stop cheating or the clandestine development of nuclear weapons, but, at best, to provide "timely warning" of a diversion to a military program. Evidence of violations are referred to the IAEA Board and Governors, which can then alert the United Nations Security Council. The Security Council and its members can then be authorized to impose sanctions or take military action designed, at least in theory, to block completion of a nuclear weapon.

For the first ten or fifteen years, this system was generally successful. Most states signed and ratified the NPT, and the Treaty established a widely respected set of international norms. However, a few states, including India and Brazil, refused to sign, rejecting the NPT's de jure discrimination between nuclear "haves" and "have nots", and noting that while the non-nuclear weapons states were prohibited from obtaining such capabilities, the major nuclear powers failed to honor commitments in the NPT to reduce their atomic arsenals.2 In 1974, India detonated a nuclear device, but no other states formally joined the exclusive club. A number of states were reportedly seeking nuclear weapons, but the NPT and IAEA system, supplemented by export restrictions and other measures, seemed to retard this process significantly. Slowly, many of the original NPT holdouts joined, including, in the past few years, France, China, and South Africa.

These apparent successes, however, are tempered by the blatant failure in Iraq and the ongoing dispute with North Korea. Iraq was a long-time NPT signatory, and Saddam Hussein's efforts to obtain a nuclear weapons capability were well known for many years. Indeed, as early as the mid-1970s, the evidence clearly showed that the NPT structure was exploited by Baghdad to obtain nuclear technology, rather than blocking these efforts. As Leventhal notes, "Iraq laid to rest a long-standing belief that a state will not join the NPT for the purpose of cheating. In this case, Iraq cheated on its treaty commitments and the treaty did not inhibit Iraq's ability to go forward with a dedicated nuclear weapons program, including the acquisition of unsafeguarded equipment and technology for enriching uranium to weapons grade."3 Iraq acquired nuclear materials and facilities that were not reported to the IAEA, as required by the NPT, and the infrequent inspections and other safeguards on declared civil facilities and material stockpiles were inadequate to insure "timely warning" of diversion. Only after the invasion of Kuwait and the defeat of the Iraqi military in the 1991 Gulf War, the IAEA and the UN Special Commission created by the Security Council undertook intensive inspections that uncovered the extent of the nuclear effort.

Defenders of the IAEA and NPT regime have argued that the Iraqi case was unique, and with some tightening of safeguard procedures, access to intelligence (from the US, in particular), and the use of the provisions for special challenge inspections, additional such cases can be avoided.4 These claims, however, are not reassuring to those states most threatened by potential violations of the NPT. In the Iraqi case, military action was a result of the invasion of Kuwait and the threat to Saudi Arabia, and without these factors, Iraq would probably have developed nuclear weapons without interference. The North Korean case has provided an additional example of the precariousness of the existing non-proliferation regime. Three years of negotiations and pressure from the US have not forced Pyongyang to accept IAEA inspection of all suspected nuclear sites. Other would-be nuclear powers, including Iran and Algeria, are likely to follow the Iraqi route.

The limitations of the NPT/IAEA system result from its universal nature. All states are eligible for membership, and, once they have signed and ratified the Treaty and safeguards agreements, they are free, and even encouraged to exercise their "inalienable rights" to develop a civil nuclear infrastructure. "Non-discrimination between states is one of the underlying principles of implementation; the [regime] does not make judgements about the credibility of a state's non-proliferation commitment."5

The Iraqi and North Korean cases demonstrate that the non- proliferation regime's single standard of behavior is unrealistic and, in such cases, counterproductive. Closed non-democratic states are able to hide evidence of a nuclear weapons program much more successfully than open democratic states. In addition, totalitarian regimes are able to resist the impact of sanctions and survive for a significant period. Thus, leaders who conclude that a nuclear program could escape detection until the last stages, or that sanctions are acceptable (or that the threat of sanctions is not credible), will not be deterred by the existing regime. For these states, it is clear that the IAEA's single and undifferentiated global system of safeguards and inspections and the absence of a credible enforcement mechanism, have failed to stop nuclear proliferation.

In addition, three major states - India, Pakistan, and Israel - remain outside the NPT system and are credited with nuclear weapons capabilities. As will be discussed below, there is no evidence to conclude that the leaders of these states are likely to change their policies, regardless of external pressures, threats of sanctions, or external "security assurances". For these three "hold-outs", the NPT/IAEA regime fails to provide an answer to perceived national security requirements.

Under these conditions, there are two conceptual and policy alternatives to the effort to extend the global NPT/IAEA regime to cover the "problem" states and regions. One option is to reduce the emphasis on non-proliferation, to accept the process of nuclearization as inevitable and irreversible, and develop policies to live with this condition and to minimize the inherent dangers. Indeed, some analysts point to the case of the superpowers and conclude that the development of a regional "balance of terror" can be stabilizing. Kenneth Waltz goes further, arguing that the proliferation of nuclear weapons in areas of regional conflict would inhibit conventional as well as nuclear war.6

There are, however, substantial structural differences between the US-Soviet models of nuclear deterrence and the factors and major actors in regional conflicts. The latter are multipolar and multi-dimensional, involving ethnic, national, linguistic, and religious factors. Wars in South Asia, the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, the Balkans, and other areas are frequent, and escalate quickly, with few, if any limitations on weapons or targets. From this perspective, proliferation of non- conventional weapons to regional powers is seen as dangerous and unstable, and Waltz's models are not reassuring.7

The alternative is to shift the emphasis on non- proliferation to the development of regional regimes as a means of supplementing the NPT and IAEA in those areas in which the existing system has proven inadequate. The regional approach can potentially incorporate the sources of proliferation that are beyond the scope of the NPT. In most problem regions, the proliferation of nuclear weapons is directly related to and inseparable from threats posed from other weapons, both conventional and weapons of mass destruction. While the NPT focuses exclusively on nuclear weapons, without recognition of any link with other weapons or technologies, regional security regimes can include limits on other weapons.

In addition, as will be discussed in detail below, regional regimes provide for the development of verification and safeguards systems that are specifically adapted to conditions and requirements of each region. In those areas such as the Middle East and Korean Peninsula, where the general system of IAEA inspections and safeguard technologies are considered unreliable, more intrusive verification agreements can be negotiated. Local frameworks would not require states to rely on uncertain intermediaries, such as the IAEA Board of Governors and the United Nations Security Council, to take action in the event of violations.

In a number of other areas, regional regimes exist in parallel to global frameworks, supporting the latter by providing the adaptations necessary to fit local characteristics. In the realm of international trade, specific regional groups, including the European Union, supplement the global GATT system. In the realm of non-proliferation, regional frameworks, such as EURATOM and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America (the Treaty of Tlatelolco) predate the NPT framework. As will be discussed in detail below, regional security and non- proliferation regimes would seem to provide the best means of responding to the weaknesses in the NPT framework.

The Regional Approach to Non-Proliferation

Given the various causes of proliferation and the vast differences in verification requirements for diverse states and regions, it would be surprising if any global approach and regime was successful in dealing with all regions and factors. In theory, regional frameworks and regimes can provide more flexibility in developing security arrangements in place of reliance on nuclear weapons, and in applying safeguards and verification systems, than is the case in the global regime. During the past decade, as the inherent limitations of the NPT/IAEA regime have become increasingly visible, discussion, and in some cases, development of regional arms control arrangements has increased. Regional structures already exist in a number of the major "problem areas" for non-proliferation; South Asia (India and Pakistan), South America (Argentina and Brazil), and, in embryonic form, the Middle East.8 By analyzing the specific sources of proliferation in each region, as well as the history of efforts to develop local limitation and security regimes, the potential contributions as well as obstacles of this approach to non-proliferation can be assessed.

South America

In many ways, the South American case is seen as the archetype for regional non-proliferation arrangements and nuclear- weapon free zones. The two primary actors, Brazil and Argentina, are among the few "NPT hold-outs", and have always viewed non- proliferation in a regional context. Indeed, discussion of this framework predates the NPT, and can be traced to 1962, when Brazil introduced the concept of a regional nuclear weapons free zone in the United Nations. This led to the 1967 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America (the Treaty of Tlatelolco). The Treaty established the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America (OPANAL), which is responsible for verification, and is to have the authority to undertake special inspections when requested by the signatories. The treaty is far-reaching in its scope, but in the face of the long-standing nuclear programs of Argentina, Brazil, and, to a lesser degree, Chile, was implemented for many years.

However, in the late 1980s, after the military regimes Brazil and Argentina in both countries were replaced by civilian governments, the situation in the region changed. The new leaders moved to suspend efforts towards the development of nuclear weapons, and began cooperative measures under the 1988 Declaration on Common Nuclear Policy, aimed at prohibiting nuclear weapons and testing.9 These measures include cooperative bilateral verification and inspection, and an agreement with the IAEA for implementation of full-scope safeguards. Argentina and Chile have signed and ratified the Treaty of Tlatelolco, and the Brazilian Senate is expected to complete the final step in this process in the near future.

In 1991, the Argentina - Brazil Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials (ABACC) was established to verify bilateral limitations.10 The headquarters of the ABACC is located in Rio de Janeiro, and operates a staff of eight professionals, and 50 inspectors, seconded from the two countries.11 The inspectors are responsible for implementing the Joint System for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials. Lists of materials and facilities from both states have been exchanged, and verified through on-site inspections.

It should be noted that the bilateral arrangements in this case are not designed to replace IAEA safeguards, but rather to supplement them and to implement them in a bilateral framework. IAEA and ABACC inspectors are to work cooperatively, and the IAEA is authorized to make special inspections to verify the bilateral reports or if "the Agency has reason to question the adequacy of the information it has received."12

Despite these agreements, however, there are still uncertainty regarding the long-term viability of the bilateral non-proliferation framework. In both Argentina and Brazil, there are groups within the military establishment that are reluctant to give up the option of producing nuclear weapons. In Argentina, the continued political power of President Menem, who has supported the development of the bilateral non-proliferation agreements through presidential decrees, means that the process will continue, and Menem has announced that Argentina will sign the NPT before the 1995 Review Conference, even if Brazil does not.13.

In contrast, in Brazil, following the impeachment and resignation of President Collor de Mello, support for the bilateral process has decreased. Analysts conclude that Brazil will probably complete the ratification of the bilateral agreements, but implementation of effective non-proliferation arrangements still faces some long-term obstacles.14

South Asia

India's nuclear policy has always been characterized by ambivalence and internal conflict. In the 1950s, while India was seeking to develop its role as a leader of the Non-aligned movement in confrontation with the superpowers, Nehru favored a policy based on "permanent nuclear abstinence". However, the military and the scientific establishment rejected this view and supported the development of nuclear weapons, arguing that this was necessary to counter "atomic colonialism".15

The pro-nuclear position triumphed in the wake of conflict with China in the first Chinese nuclear test in 1964. The Indian nuclear program accelerated after the 1971 India-Pakistan war, although the Indian military prevailed, as New Delhi became increasingly concerned about a perceived Pakistan-China-USA alliance.16 One year later, the Indian government decided to proceed with the production of a nuclear device, and in 1974, a test was conducted.17 Although there have been no further tests, there are reports that in the past few years, India has produced the components for 75 to 100 weapons, and may have developed the technology for thermonuclear weapons.18

The Pakistani program is essentially a response to the Indian capability, although the Indian conventional threat is also a major source of concern.19 Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto once declared that his citizens would eat grass rather than surrender the nuclear option, and successive governments have continued to develop this option, despite growing American pressures.20 The Pakistani program developed slowly during the 1980s, and, according to some reports, in 1990, during a crisis over Kashmir, all the components for nuclear weapons were manufactured.21

India and Pakistan are prominent hold-outs in the NPT system, and, as noted above, both countries have rejected all pressures, both multilateral and from the United States, to give up their nuclear weapons programs. However, in the past few years, a bilateral framework for the negotiation and implementation of confidence-building measures has been developing. In 1988, Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto met in Islamabad and signed an agreement pledging not to attack each other's nuclear installations.22 The terms state that each party will "refrain from undertaking, encouraging, or participating indirectly or directly in any action aimed at causing the destruction or damage to any such installations or facilities in the other country."23

In 1990, the Kashmir crisis, (which, according to some accounts, posed a danger of a nuclear exchange,24) delayed implementation, but bilateral talks continued. In the fifth round of talks, that took place in October 1991, an Indian official reported that "Pakistan and India had for the first time squarely addressed disarmament issues".25 In January 1992, the 1988 accord was ratified and lists of nuclear power, research, and enrichment installations covered under the accord were exchanged. In addition, in December 1990, Indian and Pakistani military leaders agreed to resume weekly meetings and to negotiate an advance notification agreement to cover military exercises.26

While progress is slow, these negotiations and agreements constitute a foundation for a bilateral approach. Officials from both India and Pakistan have acknowledged the potential benefits of mutual limitations. Pakistan has led this process, at least in a rhetorical sense, and Pakistani officials have introduced a variety of proposals for regional denuclearization in the United Nations, in bilateral discussions, and in other contexts. The proposals include a bilateral treaty renouncing nuclear weapons, mutual and simultaneous signature of the nuclear NPT, and the establishment of a South Asian nuclear weapon-free zone (NWFZ). Some analysts have dismissed these efforts as designed to give Pakistan "the moral 'high ground' in the war of words against India."27 However, there are also substantive incentives for Pakistani participation in a regional limitation regime. Pakistan's nuclear program is largely a response to the Indian effort, and mutual agreement to dismantle nuclear weapons programs would increase Pakistani security. For Pakistan, an ambiguous nuclear option provides the minimal deterrent deemed necessary to balance the Indian capability, and decision makers in Islamabad have indicated a willingness to take measures that would prevent an all-out nuclear arms race.28

For India, three factors contribute to the interest in potential regional or bilateral limitations; 1)the continuing divergence between holding a nuclear weapons capability and the efforts to lead the Third World and Non-aligned movement in the campaign against the nuclear arsenals of the major powers; 2)the high costs of developing a strategic weapons capability; and 3)the inherent instability of the situation and the fear that a crisis over Kashmir or another flash-point could lead to a devastating nuclear exchange. Indian analysts have noted that the nuclear weapons efforts of India and Pakistan have created "a classical 'security-insecurity trap'".29 As in the case of the US and USSR, this situation and the instabilities and uncertainties of mutual deterrence could eventually lead India and Pakistan towards bilateral cooperation and arms limitation agreements.30

There are also significant obstacles to the creation of a bilateral framework for halting or rolling back the Indian and Pakistani nuclear weapons programs. Despite the arguments in favor of limitations, most analysts conclude that there is a "solid consensus among Indian decision makers on keeping the nuclear weapon option open".31 Many Indians still view a nuclear capability as necessary to counter the "atomic colonialism" of the United States and the other major nuclear powers.32 In this context, nuclear weapons are the basis of equality, or even the basis for "asserting a more powerful international role, perhaps even as a vehicle for membership in the UN Security Council."33 Some analysts argue that India has learned to live with the Chinese nuclear capability, and point to the absence of attempts by China to exploit its nuclear advantage vis-a-vis India, but others assert that without limits on China's nuclear force, India will continue to maintain a nuclear capability.34

Nevertheless, the bilateral negotiations between India and Pakistan may allow for the gradual evolution of a freeze in both nuclear programs, expanded confidence building measures, and perhaps, in the longer term, the mutual dismantling of their respective nuclear arsenals. Although this process is clearly slow, and progress is not guaranteed, this approach appears to be more promising than efforts to impose the NPT on both countries.

The Middle East

In contrast to South Asia and South America, in which the development of constraints on nuclear weapons development focus on two central states, in the Middle East the situation is far more complicated. Nuclear weapons development efforts, at various stages, exist in Iraq, Israel, Iran, Algeria, and Libya. In the past, Egypt and Syria have also sought to develop a nuclear infrastructure, and renewed efforts by these states cannot be ruled out.35

In the Middle East, the weaknesses of the global approach of the NPT are most in evidence. The Iraqi case highlighted the weaknesses and lack of credibility in the IAEA verification system and an enforcement process that relies on the member states of the IAEA Board of Governors (which included Iraq until recently), and the United Nations.

In addition, the singular focus of the NPT on nuclear weapons, without reference to the link between nuclear deterrence and non-nuclear threats to national security and survival, is particularly pronounced in this region. The Israeli effort to acquire nuclear weapons began in the early 1950s, in response to fears that the growing conventional forces of the Arab states would eventually threaten national survival. Prime Minister Ben- Gurion envisioned a situation in which the Arab states would use their economic and demographic superiority to develop massive conventional forces. Eventually, the Arab states would be able to field armies that were 3, 4 or even 10 times larger than Israel's forces. After narrowly surviving the Arab invasions of 1948, the Israelis were concerned that the future rounds threatened by Arab leaders would destroy the Jewish state.36

In response, Israel developed a nuclear option as a deterrent or "weapon of last resort", against full-scale attacks that threatened the survival of the state. Although circumstances have changed since the mid-1950s, and the Israeli conventional military capability has grown significantly, "worst case scenarios" are still based on massive ground and air attacks involving Syrian, Iraqi, and Egyptian forces. These scenarios continue to play a major role in Israeli defense planning and the role of a strategic deterrent.37

In addition, as chemical weapons capabilities proliferate in the Middle East, these have also become closely linked to nuclear weapons acquisition. Although the NPT does not provide a mechanism for linking nuclear and other weapons, a framework designed explicitly for the region could provide answers to the problems of verification and the linkage between nuclear and other weapons.

In the past few years, discussions of regional approaches to arms control and regional security in the Middle East have begun. Egypt, Israel, and Iran have all introduced proposals calling for the established a Middle East Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (MENWFZ). Although the details of each proposal differ in important ways, a regional system which includes limits on other weapons, and mutual inspection can be adapted to the particular conditions and problems of the Middle East. The creation of Middle East section of the IAEA, in which Israel, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, and other states would negotiate a mutually acceptable framework has also been proposed. Such a regional structure would force each of the states to address each other's problems and concerns, rather than attempting to use the international organizations, such as the IAEA, to impose limitations unilaterally on the others.

While these proposals can be dismissed as political posturing (as in the case of India and Pakistan), more substantive activities are taking place. The multilateral negotiations that began after the 1991 Middle East Peace Conference in Madrid include a section on Arms Control and Regional Security (ACRS). Four plenary sessions have been held in Moscow and Washington, and a number of subgroups were created to develop CBMs in the areas of information exchange and prenotification, communications, incidents at sea and search and rescue, and to discuss long-term objectives. Participants include Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and a number of North African and Persian Gulf states. (Syria has refused to participate in the multilateral talks until there is "substantial progress" in the bilateral talks with Israel. If the peace process is successful, however Syria is expected to join the ACRS process.)38

The issue of nuclear weapons has been raised in the context of these meetings, and constitutes the main priority of the Egyptian delegation. Israel has rejected immediate consideration of nuclear arms limitations, insisting that first, the peace process must make significant progress on all fronts, and the state of war, that has existed with most Arab states since 1948, be ended. For Israel, confidence and security building measures have priority, followed by limits on conventional forces, chemical and biological weapons, ballistic missiles, and at the end, nuclear weapons. This order has not satisfied the Arab states, but the Israeli position does mark a major change in policy, and, for the first time, signals a willingness to discuss limits on nuclear weapons.

In addition, the discussions and workshops on verification have created the basis for the development of mechanisms for mutual inspection and verification for the region. In contrast to the IAEA system, which relies on verification by a small group of international civil-servants, a regional system would allow each country to obtain direct and detailed information regarding the nuclear activities of all the other parties in the region.

At the same time, however, the two major would-be nuclear weapon states in the region -- Iraq and Iran -- have no links to these discussion, and the radical regime in Teheran strongly opposes the Arab-Israeli peace process. (Libya is in a similar category, and Ghadaffi has made a number of attempts to acquire nuclear weapons.) Iraq is expected to be able to resume its nuclear weapons program when international sanctions are lifted and inspections stop, and Iran is continuing to make progress in developing its nuclear infrastructure. Under these conditions, a nuclear arms regime for the entire Middle East is impossible. While it is possible that domestic political changes would bring moderate regimes into power in Iran and Iraq, the strength of fundamentalist Islamic groups make it more likely that this radicalism will spread in the region.

However, international pressure and strengthened export limitations could conceivably block or delay the nuclear weapons programs in Iran and Iraq for many years. If the other major states in the region were to agree on regional arms limitation measures, external powers, led by the United States, might enforce these limitations on Iran and Iraq. External enforcement mechanisms could be based on UNSCOM (the United Nations Special Commission), which has been searching for and destroying nuclear, CBW, and ballistic missile facilities in Iraq since 1991. In addition, credible mechanisms are required to monitor activities in Iran, as well as to intervene, if necessary. This would also allow the other states in the region to proceed, and the issue of Iraqi and Iranian participation could be reopened in the unlikely event of a change in policy or regime.

The Korean Peninsula

Following the setbacks to the Iraqi efforts in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf war, the North Korean nuclear program emerged as the major challenge to the NPT regime. North Korea has had a nuclear program since the 1950s, but weapons development efforts increased in the late 1970s.39 Pyongyang agreed to sign the NPT in 1985, but did not negotiate a full-scope safeguards agreement with the IAEA. According to reports, in 1987, a 30 megawatt reactor became operational near Yongbyon, and construction of a plutonium extraction facility began.

For over six years, negotiations with the IAEA over inspections and safeguards have continued, while the development of nuclear weapons continued in parallel. In 1991, the United States agreed to remove its nuclear weapons from South Korea, and in early 1992, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) signed the safeguards agreement. In addition, in December 1991, North and South Korea signed a Joint Declaration to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. The Declaration restricts the possession or use of nuclear weapons as well as facilities for nuclear processing and uranium enrichment. However, the agreement did not include verification arrangements and has not been implemented. Since 1992, the Joint Nuclear Control Committee and Subcommittees on Reconciliation, Nonaggression and Exchanvge, have met repeatedly at Panmunjon.40

In March 1993, the DPRK announced its intention to withdraw from the NPT. Under American pressure, this declaration, in turn, was suspended. In addition, IAEA safeguards were tampered with, and access to key nuclear facilities and sites has been denied. IAEA Director Blix informed the United Nations of the North Korean refusal to comply, and by a vote of 140 to 1, the General Assembly approved a resolution calling for North Korean cooperation with the IAEA.41 The United States has discussed the imposition of sanctions with other permanent members of the UN Security Council. This has not changed North Korean policies or led to adherence to the NPT requirements. In other words, in the case of North Korea, like Iraq before the 1991 Gulf war, the NPT has failed.

Given the paucity of contacts with the regime of Kim Il Sung, the motivations for this program are difficult to assess, as are the prospects for the development of a regional security and non-proliferation framework. Some analysts view the North Korean policy as a deterrent against external threats to national survival. They note that the DPRK has become increasingly isolated following the end of the Cold War, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the increasing cooperation between the US and China. The South Korean economy grew rapidly in this period, and Spector speculates that Kim Il Sung's decision to develop a nuclear option may have been the result of "concerns that the regional balance would soon shift" against the North." Possession of nuclear weapons may have been seen as a means of insuring "the continued existence of the Democratic People's Republic on a divided Peninsula and rule out political absorption by the South."42

Following a regime change in Pyongang, it is possible that, a regional security regime, including the reduced presence of US forces in South Korea and CBMs involving Japan, might develop. Under these circumstances, a new leadership in North Korea might be willing to accept IAEA inspection, and to freeze or dismantle its nuclear weapons development. In order to test this option, the United States cancelled the joint military exercises and delayed deployment of Patriot theater missile defense systems in South Korea. As in the case of India and Pakistan, or the Middle East, such a wide-ranging security regime is beyond the scope of the existing NPT framework.

On the other hand, it is also entirely possible that North Korea will be no more responsive to a regional security framework than the it has been to the NPT. If Kim Il-Sung and his successors view a nuclear weapon capability as providing a foundation for regional ambitions, such as the eventual absorption of South Korea, for use vis-a-vis Japan, or for challenging the United States and other external powers, no realistic regional framework will succeed in curbing North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

Evaluation of the Regional Approach to Non-Proliferation

Realistically, the prospects for rapid development of regional nuclear non-proliferation regimes in the "problem areas" are low. However, the probability of success is greater than is the case for efforts to extend the global NPT regime in these regions. In South Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, dedicated bilateral or regional non-proliferation frameworks are more likely to make progress than the existing global regime. (With respect to the Korean Peninsula, the potential for a regional non-proliferation framework may not be clear until the leadership changes.) In these cases, regional arrangements provide the flexibility to meet local requirements and to respond to the complexities of the regional security environment, in sharp contrast to the universal approach of the NPT/IAEA system.

This does not mean, however, that the NPT regime is no longer useful, or that the outcome of the 1995 Review Conference is of little significance. For most of world, the NPT provides an important norm that, in itself, serves as a barrier to nuclear proliferation. For these states, the NPT and IAEA, reinforced by the various supplier limitation agreements, provide a technical framework for the application of safeguards and inspections. In the absence of the NPT, it is likely more non-nuclear weapons states would seek nuclear weapons, and would have less difficulty in obtaining the material and technology.

Rather, regional arrangements can be seen as complementary to the global regime, providing support and extending non- proliferation where the NPT is not applicable. In the case of Argentina, the bilateral framework fostered the decision to accede to the NPT, and it is possible that Brazil will follow a similar course. Even with changes in government that took place in both states in the late 1970s, it is unlikely that either state would have signed the NPT without the development of bilateral mechanisms. Similarly, although India and Pakistan continue to develop their nuclear capabilities, the development of a bilateral framework provides the foundation for mutual limitations in the long term. At the same time, there is no realistic basis for concluding that India and Pakistan will accept the NPT, even in the distant future.

In the Middle East, as noted, the situation is more complicated. In contrast to India and Pakistan, the Iraqi nuclear weapons capability was not developed to insure the survival of the state. Rather, Saddam Hussein's efforts were part of a very broad military build-up, designed to gain regional hegemony and to challenge the American presence in the Persian Gulf. The objectives of the Iranian nuclear effort appear to be similar to those of Iraq; the fundamentalist regime in Teheran has revolutionary goals that extend throughout and beyond the region.

Realistically, Iran and Iraq are unlikely to participate in a regional security framework that provides the type of assurances sought by Israel, including formal peace agreements, diplomatic relations, major reductions in conventional weapons, and mutual verification. At the same time, without these requirements, Israel will reject efforts to curtail its nuclear option. However, a limited framework, combining stiff enforcement of export limitations and military action to prevent Iraq and Iran from becoming nuclear powers, with mutual limits and credible security arrangements for all of the other major states in the region, is conceivable.

The Role of U.S. Policy

In order to foster the development of regional non- proliferation frameworks, the United States will have to change its policy significantly. For many years, US government officials and most of the non-proliferation community in Washington has focused exclusively on the global regime, and viewed regional agreements as threats to the existing NPT/IAEA structure. Beyond the NPT and IAEA, American initiatives led to the formation of the London Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Like the NPT, these are global agreements, based on the concept of "non-discrimination" among participating states, and a single standard of behavior and verification requirements.

In general, US officials as well as the broad non- governmental non-proliferation community in Washington, are wary of regional regimes, particularly when these are seen as competition for the NPT\IAEA system. Many argue that the flexibility of regional frameworks would erode the global norm which has blocked the development of nuclear weapons in most states. From this perspective, even the current system has too much room for maneuver, and rather than dismembering the current system, what is needed is a tighter, less flexible set of rules and regulations for controlling nuclear proliferation. Critics of US policy generally argue for greater pressure on Pakistan, India, and Israel, to gain NPT compliance, rather than a loosening of the global system.43

However, there are some signs of change in American policy, and recognition that such pressures are unlikely to produce a change among the target states. In the Middle East, American policy makers have also shown increasing interest in regional arms control in the past three years. In May 1991, shortly after the Gulf War, President Bush presented an initiative specifically designed to further arms control in the region.44 This proposal marked a major change in the US approach, linking limitations on conventional and non-conventional weapons for the first time. However, the proposal also subordinated the proposed regional measures to the global regime, and called for adherence to the NPT and to IAEA safeguards, thereby demonstrating the confusion of American policy. In addition, the United States is the major sponsor of the Middle East multilateral ACRS talks, and conflict has emerged between these activities and the NPT-oriented non- proliferation policies.

For this process to expand, the United States government will have to distinguish between the objective of furthering non- proliferation, and the exclusive commitment to the NPT, IAEA, and the other global institutions. Indeed, some strong supporters of the NPT and of extension efforts have been paying more attention to regional factors and mechanisms. For example, John Deutch notes that in the case of Korea and Latin America, bilateral agreements can supplement the IAEA inspection regime.45 IAEA Director-General Hans Blix has also raised the possibility of "tailor-made" approaches to inspections in specific countries and "customized, two-tiered verification arrangements cooperatively linked with the IAEA's system."46 Thus, within the non- proliferation community, there is a greater awareness of the need for dedicated regional arrangements to further non-proliferation efforts.


In the months remaining before the opening of the 1995 NPT Review Conference, the efforts to gain support for indefinite extension of the Treaty are going to lead to intense pressures to gain the signatures of the major hold-outs, but there is no evidence that these pressures will succeed. Pakistan, India, and Israel are unlikely to accede to the NPT, under any circumstances, regardless of external threats and sanctions. Indeed, such threats are likely to be counterproductive, and could lead these states to convert their covert arsenals to visible weapons systems. At the same time, renegade signatories, such as Iraq, North Korea, and Iran will continue to pursue their weapons programs, regardless of the efforts, highlighted in the preamble to the NPT, to prevent "the devastation that would be visited upon all mankind by a nuclear war".

While the extension of the NPT is likely to be approved by a majority of signatories, the focus provided by the 1995 conference presents an opportunity to examine the future of non- proliferation. It is time to address the deficiencies of the Treaty's global approach and the specific regional factors that prevent further expansion of the NPT regime. Each of the cases discussed above provides a framework for the development of specific bilateral or regional non-proliferation and security frameworks. Every framework is linked directly to the requirements of the region in which it was developed, and there is no need to elicit a single model or approach to non- proliferation from these cases. In contrast to the NPT/IAEA regime, the regional approach is more likely to succeed in advancing the process precisely because it is not global in nature, does not seek to apply a single standard of behavior to very diverse situations, and does not depend on the fiction of equality among states. References:

0- The author wishes to thank David Litvack and Roberta Kraus for their assistance in preparing the research for this paper.

1- Lewis A. Dunn, "NPT 1995: Time to Shift Gears", Arms Control Today, November 1993, p.14.

2- K. Subrahmanyam, "Export Controls and the North-South Controversy," The Washington Quarterly, Spring 1992, pp. 135- 144.

3- Paul L. Leventhal, " Plugging the Leaks in Nuclear Export Controls: Why Bother?" Orbis, Spring 1992, p. 172.

4- Hans Blix, "Verification of Nuclear Nonproliferation: The Lessons of Iraq," The Washington Quarterly, Autumn 1992, p. 58- 9; Donald G. Boudreau, "On Advancing Non-Proliferation," Strategic Review, Summer 1991, pp. 61-67.

5- Lawrence Scheinman, "Nuclear Safeguards and Non-Proliferation in a Changing World Order," Security Dialogue, December 1992, p. 40.

6- Kenneth Waltz, The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: More May be Better, Adelphi Paper No. 171, (London, IISS, 1981); Shai Feldman, Israeli Nuclear Deterrence (New York: Columbia University Press, 1982); see also Stephen Van Evra, "Primed for Peace," International Security, Winter 1990/1.

7- Yair Evron, Israeli's Nuclear Dilemma (Hebrew),(Israel: Hakibutz Hameuchad, 1987); Steven David, "Why the Third World Still Matters", International Security, Winter 1992/3

8- A Nuclear Weapon Free Zone also was created for the South Pacific (the Treaty of Roratanga), and entered into force in 1986, but this region is not considered a major "problem area" for nuclear proliferation.

9- Zachary Davis, "Non-Proliferation Regimes: A Comparative Analysis of Policies to Control the Spread of Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Weapons and Missiles," CRS, Washington DC, April 1 1991, p.9; On September 5, 1991 the leaders of Argentina, Brazil, and Chile signed the Mendoza Agreement, prohibiting the development, production, acquisition, storage, or transfer, of chemical and biological weapons. See also Michael Krepon, et. al., eds, A Handbook of Confidence-Building Measures for Regional Securilty, The Henry L. Stimson Center, Handbook No. 1, September 1993, p. 15.

10- Brad Roberts, "Arms Control and the End of the Cold War," The Washington Quarterly, Autumn 1992, pp. 39-56; Leonard S. Spector, "Repentant Nuclear Proliferants" in Foreign Policy Number 88 (Fall 1992) p. 26

11- John R. Redick, "Argentina-Brazil Nuclear Non-proliferation Initiatives", Programme for Promoting Nuclear Non-Proliferation, Issue Review No. 3, January 1994.

12- Ibid., p.1.

13- Ibid., p.4.

14- Ibid., p.3; see also Peter D. Feaver, "Command and Control in Emerging Nuclear Nations", Interntional Security, Winter 1992- 93, p. 177

15- p. 261; Ashok Kapur, "India: The Nuclear Scientists and The State, The Nehru and Post-Nehru Years" in Etel Solingen, ed., The Science Compact: Scientists and the State in Comparative Perspective (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, forthcoming).

16- Achin Vanaik and Praful Bidwai, "India and Pakistan", in Regina Cowen Karp, ed., Security With Nuclear Weapons? Different Perspectives on National Security (London: Oxford University Press, 1991) pp. 264, 266.

17- Ibid., p.261. As these and other analysts note, the precise timing of the test was determined by Indian domestic politics, and Indira Ghandi's reelection campaign, but the overall momentum behind the program was more closely related to the perceived external threats.

18- Leonard S. Spector, Deterring Regional Threats From Nuclear Proliferation, Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, March 12, 1992, p.23.

19- Dunn, 1994, p.8; see also Vanaik and Bidwai, "India and Pakistan," p.264.

20- In 1985, the Pressler Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act required the President to certify that Pakistan does not possess nuclear weapons. In 1990, President Bush did not issue such a certification, leading to a cut-off in foreign assistance.

21- Leonard S. Spector, Deterring Regional Threats From Nuclear Proliferation, Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, March 12, 1992, p.11.

22- Bhabani Sen Gupta, "South Asia," in Jayantha Dhanapala, ed., Regional Approaches to Disarmament: Security and Stability, UNIDIR, (Hampshire, UK: Dartmouth, 1993) p.79.

23- Geoffrey Kemp, The Control of the Middle East Arms Race, (Washington DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1992), p.171.

24- Seymour M. Hersch "On the Nuclear Edge", New Yorker, March 29 1993.

25- Bhabani Sen Gupta, "South Asia," p.79.

26- Kemp, The Control of the Middle East Arms Race, p.170.

27- Vanaik and Bidwai, "India and Pakistan," p. 265.

28- George Perkovich, "A Nuclear Third Way in South Asia," Foreign Policy, Summer 1993, pp. 85-104.

29- Vanaik and Bidwai, "India and Pakistan," p.258.

30- Arun P. Elhance, "A Geographical Perspective," in Stephen P. Cohen, ed., Nuclear Proliferation in South Asia: Prospects for Arms Control (Boulder: Westview, 1991), p.124.

31- Vanaik and Bidwai, "India and Pakistan," p.275.

32- K. Subrahmanyam, "Export Controls and the North-South Controversy," The Washington Quarterly, Spring 1992, pp. 135- 144.

33- Ronald F. Lehman II, "Arms Control: Passing the Torch as Time Runs Out," Washington Quarterly, p. 43.

34- Vanaik and Bidwai, "India and Pakistan," pp.267-8; Gupta, "South Asia," p.85.

35- The military cooperation between Iran and Syria, including joint operation of ballistic missile production facilities supplied by North Korea, raises the prospects of similar cooperation with respect to nuclear weapons.

36- Yair Evron, Israeli's Nuclear Dilemma (Hebrew), (Israel: Hakibutz Hameuchad, 1987); and Gerald Steinberg, "Israeli Nuclear Ambiguity: Evolution and Evaluation", in Louis Rene Beres, ed., Security or Armageddon: Israel's Nuclear Strategy (Lexington Mass.: Lexington Books, 1985), pp.29-44.

37- Not all Israeli defense analysts view nuclear weapons as necessary, even in response to "worst case scenarios". See, for example, Avner Yaniv, Deterrence Without the Bomb, (Lexington, Mass: Lexington Books, 1987).

38- See Gerald M. Steinberg, "Middle East Arms Control and Regional Security", Survival, Spring 1994.

39- Leonard Spector, Nuclear Ambitions, (Boulder: Westview Press, 1990), p.125.

40- John Simpson, "The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Regime in 1991", 1992 Verification Report, p.95; Michael Krepon, Dominique M. McCoy, Matthew C.J. Rudolph; A Handbook of Confidence-Building Measures for Regional Security (Washington, DC: The Henry L. Stimson Center, September 1993), p.30

41- Programme for Promoting Nuclear Proliferation (PPNN) Newsbrief, No. 24, 4th Quarter 1993, p.2.

42- Spector, Nuclear Ambitions, pp.124-5.

43- See, for example, the testimony of Ambassador Gerard Smith, Proliferation and Arms Control, Hearings before the Committee on Foreign Affairs, U.S. House of Representatives, May 17 1990, p.4.

44- Fact Sheet on Middle East Arms Control Initiative, White House Office of the Press Secretary, May 29, 1991.

45- John M. Deutch, "The New Nuclear Threat," Foreign Affairs, Fall 1992, p. 129.

46- Hans Blix, "Verfication of Nuclear Nonproliferation: The Lessons of Iraq," The Washington Quarterly, Autumn 1992, p.60.