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  Library Treaties Non-Proliferation Treaty, NGO Statement 2, 1999

NGO Statement 2

Distinguished delegates! As you recall, the extension in 1995 was to make the NPT review process more effective and to strengthen it. However, both the sessions in 1997 and 1998 illustrated that:

  • Larger disagreement among the parties emerged than before 1995

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  • The scope of nuclear dangers is greater than before.

Unless there is a strong agreement over the meaning and the content of the strengthened review process you, distinguished delegates, will face the challenge of many continuing disagreements as happened in 1997 and 1998.

Your task for this 1999 Preparatory Committee meeting is to prove that you can do much better with both substantive and procedural issues of both the non-proliferation regime and of nuclear disarmament. If this is not done, then the international events of the last three months could put an end to the NPT.

In the early 1990s, there was extensive cooperation between the US and Russia for nuclear security programs (Bush-Gorbachev Initiative, START I and START II). Such programs as the Fissile Material Storage Facility, the program on Plutonium disposition, the Cooperation Threat Reduction program should also be mentioned. Since 1993, when the START II was signed, the process of nuclear weapon reductions has been hopelessly deadlocked. In the meantime, nuclear dangers, stemming from economic decline in Russia, continue to grow.

NATO expansion, US/UK military attacks against Iraq, and the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia without UN Security Council approval, and the passage of bills in the US House and Senate pushing the US closer to a decision to deploy a ballistic missile defense have all provided major disincentives for the Russian Duma to ratify START II. And given the ongoing NATO campaign against Yugoslavia and the negative Russian reaction to it, START II is not likely to go into force anytime soon.

Yet, it is the policy of the US executive branch, with the blessing of the US Congress, to wait on Duma ratification before moving to negotiate deeper reductions under an already agreed outline for START III agreement. In other words, just let the treaty negotiating process run its normal, tediously slow course. This policy falls short of the commitment the US made, along with the other NWS, when the NPT was extended indefinitely in 1995. The second resolution making the NPT permanent binds the P-5 states to make "systematic and progressive efforts" to reduce their nuclear stockpiles. Waiting on START II needlessly prolongs the time that Russia has to keep a huge nuclear arsenal that it can no afford to maintain or safely control. And, even the agreed START III levels, between 2,000-2,500 warheads, remain excessively higher than the levels that Russia will have to reduce to by the early 21st century.

Today, the Cold War threats approach to arms control is ill-suited to address the nuclear threats posed by a politically unstable and economically and militarily weakened Russia. The global landscape, characterized by a lone superpower and an expanding number of nuclear capable states, cannot afford down time for arms control.

Although Russian officials have stated that Russia will have to reduce its nuclear arsenal dramatically over the next decade for economic reasons, they have also indicated that they will postpone such reductions for as long as possible, given the US action on ballistic missile deployment. Graver still, there have been reports that Russia might redeploy tactical nuclear weapons to other CIS republics in response to NATO's military campaign in Yugoslavia. It is worthwhile to record the various developments in Russia that have heightened nuclear dangers.

  • Russia suspended its cooperation with NATO and boycotted the NATO Summit Cooperation on Y2K problem was also curtailed (at least with UK).
  • The Duma Defense Committee proposed to include preemptive strikes in the Russian National Security Policy.
  • In the "Basic Provisions of the Russian Policy in the Sphere of Nuclear Deterrence" approved by President Yeltsin in March, Nuclear Forces are considered as a guarantor of national security and a means to deter aggression against the Russian Federation and its allies.
  • Reorganization of the Russian Command Structure for Nuclear Deterrence Forces, which also experiencing many economic and technical problems, proceeds with troubling political involvement of many officers and workers in parties across the political spectrum.
  • On April 29, at a top-secret meeting of the Security Council on Russia's nuclear arsenal, President Yeltsin signed a decree committing to develop and deploy tactical weapons. He also set out the key tasks for the nuclear defense industry that included developing ways to simulate atomic tests on computers. This is a sign of vertical proliferation. One of the presidential decrees not only contained the concept for the development but also for the use of non-strategic nuclear weapons.
  • Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev said that NATO military operation against Yugoslavia "may prompt Russia to revise a number of its international commitments, including those pertaining to the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty."

The consequences of these developments are very discouraging from the point of view of nuclear disarmament. Instead of a reduction of nuclear arms (and nuclear dangers), we are entering a new arms race. Russia has developed several new missiles, including Topol-27M, and new S-400 system of missile and radar capable of hitting cruise missiles, stealth aircraft, reconnaissance airplanes.

As you may know, at the NATO summit, the revised Strategic Concept was unveiled. NATO has decided to conduct military operations outside the Alliance territory. As Kosovo has shown, this is very a dangerous development. As far as NPT is concerned, decisions such as the Weapons of Mass Destruction Initiative (WMD) mean a possible violation of "negative security assurances" guaranteed in the NNWS, which was one of their major arguments in favor of extending the NPT in 1995.

The disregard for international law and international organizations, as shown by the NATO actions in the Balkans, sets dangerous precedents:

  • the threat or use of force against a sovereign state without corresponding UN authority is incompatible with article 2(4) and 51 of the UN Charter
  • the use of the law of force over international law by three members of the UN Security Council, which are also NWS.

In addition, six NATO member countries are sharing nuclear weapons with the United States (Germany, Italy, Turkey, Belgium, Netherlands, and Greece). In fact, this NATO nuclear sharing policy could be considered as the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Against this ominous backdrop are the very real concerns over safety and control of Russia's nuclear arsenal and vast stockpiles of fissile materials. Bold new thinking and action are needed by the US administration to put nuclear reduction negotiations with Russia not just back on track, but on a course to radically reduce these weapons, ensuring that they cannot be launched on a moment's notice, and safeguarding them and the materials to make them from falling into hostile hands.

Time is of the essence. The US administration should act to supplement the traditional arms control process by pursuing immediate, parallel, reciprocal, and verifiable initiatives with Russia that:

  • Reduce nuclear forces to levels far below those envisioned in START III by
    • immediately declaring US intention to reduce, alongside Russia, to 1,000 deployed strategic nuclear weapons within a decade
    • offering complete transparency on the status of all US and Russian nuclear weapons as the basis for reciprocal reductions
    • subsequently reducing to 1,000 total nuclear weapons on each side
    • seeking agreement from other nuclear weapons states on a ceiling on their current nuclear deployments and beginning multilateral talks on reductions
  • Take the majority of US and Russian forces off hair-trigger, or quick launch alert status, by
    • immediately standing down, alongside Russia, nuclear forces slated for destruction under START II
    • declaring US intention, with reciprocal commitment from Russia, to eliminate the launch-on-warning option from nuclear war plans
    • declaring US intentions, with reciprocal commitment from Russia, to verifiably eliminate massive attack options from nuclear war plans
    • beginning talks among the nuclear weapons states for verifiably removing all nuclear weapons from hair-trigger alert
  • Secure, monitor, and greatly reduce fissile materials and warhead stockpiles by
    • helping to install modern security and accounting systems and providing resources and incentives for sustaining effective security at all Russian nuclear facilities
    • helping to consolidate Russia's fissile materials into the smallest number of sites
    • promote alternative employment in Russian nuclear cities
    • building a comprehensive transparency and monitoring regime for all warheads and fissile materials
    • negotiating reductions in fissile material stocks in excess of that needed to support a stockpile of 1,000 warheads.

The arms control process has been stalemated for six years and is now in jeopardy of being put on hold indefinitely. To continue to let the formal treaty process run its course (waiting on START II) invites a nuclear accident within Russia and the worst proliferation nightmare imaginable.

Distinguished delegates, for the next ten days, it is imperative that you create a list of constructive and politically solid recommendations for the 2000 review conference, as well as your report to that conference. Concerted effort to achieve the goals presented here offer the best hope of not only getting the process moving again, but moving in earnest the two countries toward fulfilling their obligations under Article VI of NPT.

Co-convenors: Jesse James, Committee on Nuclear Policy,
The Henry L. Stimson Center
11 DuPont Circle NW, 9 th fl. Washington, DC 20036, USA
Tel 1.202.691.4025; fax; jjames@stimson.org

Vladimir Iakimets, Center for Russian Environmental Policy, Moscow, Russia