World Calls for Nuclear Abolition: NATO Leader Calls for an "Increased Role" for Atomic Weapons
July 16, 2016
Elizabeth Philipp and Kelsey Davenport / Arms Control Association & Sputnik News
In a major report, the Arms Control Association concludes that the world has made significant progress on strengthening nonproliferation and nuclear security norms over the past three years but progress on reducing nuclear arsenals has slowed. At the same time, former US Commander of NATO Gen. Philip Breedlove has called for increasing reliance on nukes, arguing that international competition will increase the role of nuclear weapons in the near future.
Assessing Progress on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament
Updated Report Card 2013-2016
Elizabeth Philipp and Kelsey Davenport / Arms Control Association
This report assesses on a state-by-state basis the extent to which key states are fulfilling, abiding by, or promoting normative actions associated with 10 standards identified by the international community as critical elements of the nonproliferation and disarmament regime.
Overall, states made significant progress on strengthening nonproliferation and nuclear security norms over the past three years.
The positive trends in these areas, however, are not matched by action on the disarmament front. Progress on reducing nuclear arsenals has slowed, several states are taking troubling steps to expand their arsenals and develop new delivery systems, and no progress has been made on the negotiation of a treaty to end fissile material production for weapons. The report finds that:
* States possessing nuclear weapons demonstrated a unified effort on state-specific nonproliferation efforts, namely cooperating to achieve the nuclear agreement curtailing Iran's nuclear activities in July 2015, and strengthening efforts to contain the North Korean nuclear program through the adoption and implementation of UN Security Council sanctions measures in 2013 and 2016.
The recognized nuclear-weapons states have made very little progress on reducing the size of their nuclear arsenals. The United Kingdom and the United States took steps to slightly reduce the size of their deployed nuclear arsenals in number, whereas France announced no new reductions in the time covered by this report. China and Russia, however, both increased the number of deployed warheads since 2013. Russia also violated a key disarmament treaty, the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
* Several states are taking actions to increase alert levels and store warheads mated with delivery systems for the first time. China is taking steps toward increasing the alert level of its nuclear weapons, including movement toward launch-on-warning.
Both India and Pakistan are taking troubling steps toward mating nuclear warheads with new delivery systems. India will soon commission a ballistic missile submarine, the Arihant. Pakistan is believed to deploy the Nasr, a short-range battlefield nuclear weapon. Both developments require India and Pakistan to move away from traditional policies of keeping warheads de-mated from delivery systems.
* No positive progress has been made on ending fissile material production in the timeframe assessed by this report, or the two prior. The grades for all 11 states assessed have not changed since the first report was published in 2010. The five nuclear weapons states have maintained official or de-facto moratoriums on the production of fissile material.
The states outside of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) that possess nuclear weapons -- India, Israel, and Pakistan -- have retained failing grades on this criteria for continuing to produce fissile material for weapons. Negotiations on a cutoff treaty remain stalled in the Conference of Disarmament due to objections from Pakistan.
* There is a positive trend toward support of nuclear- weapon free zones. The grades of all nuclear weapons states have improved, due in part to ratification of the protocol to the Central Asian nuclear-weapon free zone agreement by all of the recognized nuclear-weapon states except the United States. Washington also lags behind in completing ratifications to support zones in Africa and the South Pacific.
Israel took supportive, albeit limited steps toward engaging in the process toward establishing a zone in the Middle East, although that process remains stalled after the mandate for holding a conference on the zone ended with the failure to come to a consensus at the 2015 NPT Review Conference.
* Nuclear-weapon states and the non-NPT nuclear- weapon states continue to maintain their moratoria on nuclear weapons testing. China and the United States, whose ratification is required for entry into force, have both demonstrated greater support for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) since 2013. Israel, too, has shown greater support for the CTBT by cooperating more closely with its Preparatory Organization.
* North Korea, by conducting a fourth nuclear test in January 2016, continues to violate the international norm against nuclear testing, as well as several UN Security Council resolutions demanding that it cease such testing. Pyongyang's expanding arsenal, continued nuclear and ballistic missile tests, and aggressive rhetoric earned it the lowest grade of all assessed states.
* Export controls continue to remain a concern, as key states flout international obligations. China continues to sell nuclear reactors to Pakistan and lacks comprehensive lists for controlling the transfers of ballistic missile materials and technologies.
Iran, North Korea, and Syria also received failing grades for failing to implement adequate export control policies and transferring sensitive technologies to other countries or non- state actors.
* A major achievement of the international community for the timeframe covered by this report is the adoption of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to significantly restrict Iran's nuclear program.
Iran has been monitored as a state of concern in this report due to international suspicion that it was illicitly using its nuclear infrastructure for military purposes, and for its ongoing proliferation of ballistic missile technology. The nuclear deal with Iran verifiably limits the state's nuclear activities and puts in place extensive monitoring and verification mechanisms.
Iran's improved grade reflects its renewed commitment to the nonproliferation regime, notably in its grade on the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards standard. Iran's grade radically improved from an "F" to an "A-" by its agreeing to implement the additional protocol to its safeguards agreement. This improvement marks the single greatest improvement on a nonproliferation standard for any state since 2010.
* The United Kingdom once again received the highest grade of all states assessed in this report, and is recognized for possessing the smallest nuclear arsenal of the nuclear-weapon states, as well as its efforts to establish additional agreements to halt nuclear proliferation and enhance nuclear security.
Breedlove: Role of Nuclear Weapons to Increase in Coming Decade
WASHINGTON ((July 15, 2016) -- Heightened international competition will increase the role of nuclear weapons in the near future, former US Commander of NATO Gen. Philip Breedlove said at a nonproliferation forum at the US Department of State. "I think that the role of nuclear weapons, unfortunately, will increase in the short term until we find a path ahead to accomplish some of these goals you are talking about here today," Breedlove stated on Thursday.
Breedlove also noted that nuclear weapons "in the next five to ten years" will become "the weapons of the weak, the poor and the radical." The growing intensity of international competition "will only further some nations' desires to be nuclear or to use the nuclear capability that they have in a more drastic way," Breedlove warned.
In May, Breedlove stepped down from his post as the head of US European Command and the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. During his tenure he oversaw the alliance's enhanced deterrence position toward Russia.
NATO, Washington 'Have No Idea'
How to Respond to Real Threats
(June 29, 2016) -- A recent meeting of NATO defense ministers has been largely focused on ways to counter Russia instead of steps needed to tackle terrorism or deal with the refugee crisis. This serves as an indication that the North Atlantic Alliance and the United States "have no idea" how to respond to real threats, analyst Alexander Khrolenko asserted.
Yet the scale and urgency of global and regional challenges "will not allow the bloc to mask its inability by ostentatious anti-Russian consolidation, rearmament and other activities for long," he added.
Still this is what NATO appears to be intent on doing. Hardliners in the US and NATO have repeatedly accused Moscow of posing an "existential threat" to the United States and its allies. Earlier this month, NATO's former supreme allied commander General Philip Breedlove urged the White House to "increase the resources available to [US] forces in Europe and recognize Russia as the enduring, global threat it really represents."
David Kramer, a former US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor in the George W. Bush administration, shared this sentiment. "NATO needs to demonstrate seriousness of purpose at Warsaw vis-à-vis Putin's Russia and the ongoing threats it poses," he said.
The North Atlantic Alliance is ready to do just that. The upcoming summit in the Polish capital will see the bloc taking measures to increase its military capabilities and enhance its capacity to "project stability," as NATO calls it.
These policy decisions will come at a time when the US has put the first Aegis Ashore missile defense complex online in Romania. The second base is currently under construction in Poland. Russia has been extremely concerned with NATO's increasing assertiveness on the bloc's eastern flank. Things will hardly improve following the summit.
The North Atlantic Alliance could well drastically increase its military presence and activities close to Russia's borders after Warsaw, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu warned on Wednesday. The military and political situation in Eastern Europe and the Baltic region "remains unstable," he said at the ministry's offsite meeting.
"The United States and other NATO members continue to build up their military capabilities, primarily in countries neighboring Russia." Apparently, even these activities are not enough for NATO.
At least this is an impression one gets from a piece in Die Zeit. "Even after almost 20 years of joint foreign deployments, the western alliance still doesn't manage to operate like a single set of troops.
"It remains a pact of national and technical islands," the German national weekly noted. It also compared the bloc to a house that "is still standing only because wallpaper holds up the walls."
If this description looks like a major exaggeration that's because it could well be. After all, in recent months NATO officials have been on an offensive to secure increased budget spending.
Only five member states spent the required 2 percent or more of their GDP on defense in 2015 and some, including US defense chief Ashton Carter want to convince the others to deliver.
In the meantime, the bloc will most likely continue to warn of the non-existent threat emanating from Russia. Earlier this week, the Russian Defense Ministry's spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov warned that as "anti-Russian shouts from 'political pensioners' in the West will only be more prominent" as NATO summit in Warsaw approaches.
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