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Disarmament and Non-proliferation: ong>Towardsong> ong>Moreong> ong>Realisticong> ong>Bargainsong>

Tanya Ogilvie-White; David Santoro

Online publication date: 27 May 2011

To cite this Article Ogilvie-White, Tanya and Santoro, David(2011) 'Disarmament and Non-proliferation: ong>Towardsong> ong>Moreong>

ong>Realisticong> ong>Bargainsong>', Survival, 53: 3, 101 — 118

To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/00396338.2011.586194



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Disarmament and Nonproliferation:

ong>Towardsong> ong>Moreong>

ong>Realisticong> ong>Bargainsong>

Tanya Ogilvie-White and David Santoro

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During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to make ‘the

goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons worldwide a central element of

[US] nuclear policy’ – a pledge that represented a bold break with the

disarmament scepticism of the Bush administration and offered hope that the

deep divisions in the nuclear non-proliferation regime could be bridged. 1 Less

than three months after taking office, Obama expounded his administration’s

disarmament vision in Prague. 2 Even members of the Non-Aligned Movement

seemed impressed: here was a president who shared their commitment to

nuclear elimination, and who could have the means to make it happen. 3

But three years later, disarmament advocates are disappointed and the

nuclear non-proliferation regime remains deeply divided. Much of the

optimism so palpable at the beginning of Obama’s presidency has dissipated,

despite administration efforts and significant successes, most notably the

negotiation and entry into force of the New Strategic Arms Reduction

Treaty (New START). Bold vision and even reductions in nuclear weapons

and their roles are not enough to unite the international community in the

pursuit of disarmament and non-proliferation. Something more is needed.

Obama’s disarmament agenda

The Obama administration’s nuclear-disarmament agenda is hardly

the radical departure many disarmament advocates had hoped for: it is

Tanya Ogilvie-White is a Research Fellow in the IISS Non-proliferation and Disarmament ong>Programong>me, on

temporary leave from her position as Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Canterbury,

New Zealand. David Santoro is a Research Associate in the IISS Non-proliferation and Disarmament ong>Programong>me.

Survival | vol. 53 no. 3 | June–July 2011 | pp. 101–118DOI 10.1080/00396338.2011.586194

102 | Tanya Ogilvie-White and David Santoro

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constrained by the threat perceptions of the United States and its allies and

by their continuing belief in nuclear deterrence. To be sure, Obama has

frequently spoken of his desire for a nuclear-weapon-free world, but the

buzz that surrounded his early months in office led many to over-interpret

his agenda. His administration’s caution has been evident from the start.

‘I’m not naive’, he declared in Prague. ‘The goal [of a nuclear-weapon-free

world] will not be reached quickly – perhaps not in my lifetime. As long

as these weapons exist, the United States will maintain a safe, secure, and

effective arsenal to deter any adversary, and guarantee that defense to our

allies.’ That same caution was reflected in the New

START agreement concluded with Russia in April 2010

and the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review Report, neither

of which dramatically reduced the numbers and roles

of nuclear weapons in US national-security policy. 4 In

fact, the report states that US nuclear weapons should

not only be maintained, but strengthened, and the

administration has allocated substantial sums to modernise the US arsenal. 5

The report also explains that the disarmament process, which requires

incremental steps and multilateral agreement, will be long and difficult, and

that the conditions for a world free of nuclear weapons do not yet exist. 6

There are many reasons for US caution. Although the utility of the US

nuclear arsenal has diminished since the end of the Cold War, the Obama

administration argues that nuclear weapons continue to play a unique role

in protecting US national security and in maintaining international peace

and stability. The Nuclear Posture Review stated that ‘the United States

must continue to address the … challenge of ensuring strategic stability

with existing nuclear powers – most notably Russia and China’. 7 It stressed

that the challenge (for the US–Russia–China triangle in particular) was to

strengthen relations as arsenals decline, suggesting that while progress

towards disarmament is possible, it cannot but be gradual, and nuclear

weapons will remain relevant throughout the process. 8 ong>Moreong>over, the

Obama administration argues that in some circumstances the US arsenal

remains relevant as a deterrent for minor powers, to prevent regional

instabilities and reassure US allies, many of whom are wedded to nuclear

There are many

reasons for US


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security guarantees. 9 On the domestic front, the scope of the administration’s

disarmament agenda is severely limited because it is not universally

endorsed, as illustrated by the strong opposition of several Republican

senators to ratification of New START. 10

Although the disarmament steps the current administration has taken

have so far been relatively small, its wider goals are ambitious. The

administration’s rationale is that a new era of US disarmament leadership

will help strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime: that by upholding

(and being seen to uphold) its disarmament obligations, the United States

will be able to forge greater unity between the nuclear- and non-nuclearweapon

states, encouraging states to redouble their non-proliferation

efforts. 11 In short, the goal is to reinforce the crumbling grand bargains on

which the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is built, between the

five nuclear-weapon states defined as such in the treaty and the remaining

parties (the non-nuclear-weapon states). In response to new US disarmament

leadership, Obama suggested in Prague, ‘countries with nuclear weapons

will move towards disarmament, countries without nuclear weapons will

not acquire them, and all countries can access peaceful nuclear energy’. 12

The need to reinforce these grand bargains or risk the disintegration of

the nuclear non-proliferation regime has been recognised for many years.

Concerns about collapse of the NPT reached a peak during the presidency

of George W. Bush, when US non-proliferation and disarmament policies,

among other developments, aggravated existing tensions between the

nuclear- and non-nuclear-weapon states. In 2002, for example, Brad Roberts,

now US deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear and missile defense

policy, warned that the Bush administration’s nuclear policy appeared to

weaken the US commitment to nuclear disarmament, a stance he deemed

dangerous and ill judged. As he explained at the time:

To lead in the Security Council, to combat WMD proliferation, to serve

as a guarantor of the international treaty regimes is to commit to the

disarmament project … The apparent disinterest in linking the effects

of the Nuclear Posture Review to the principles and purposes of the

[Non-Proliferation Treaty] suggests that the United States is abandoning

104 | Tanya Ogilvie-White and David Santoro

the effort to move the world, in however slow and indirect way, in the

direction of a world in which such weapons could be relinquished because

they are seen as unnecessary. The major powers cannot lead if they come

to be seen as a nuclear aristocracy, and they cannot escape that negative

image if they abandon the nuclear [disarmament] project. 13

Under Obama, the United States (in parallel with its UK ally) has been

attempting to repair the damage. It was assumed that re-asserting US

disarmament leadership was the most obvious way to achieve this, with the

expectation that non-proliferation rewards would soon follow.

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Limits to leadership

That was the theory. In practice, it is not yet clear whether Obama’s policy is

paying off in any significant way. The much-anticipated 2010 NPT Review

Conference did achieve partial consensus on a final document, but the

substantive outcome was disappointing and the divisions that have plagued

the regime are still entrenched. 14 This has naturally prompted questions

over the rationale behind Obama’s agenda: have expectations been too high,

and sceptics too impatient? Or is there a fundamental flaw in the rationale

or the way the agenda has been implemented?

Prominent scholars in the arms-control field tend to praise Obama’s

recognition of the link between nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

There is nevertheless some criticism of the way this linkage has been framed.

Scott Sagan, professor of political science at Stanford University, cautions

that the Obama administration could do a better job of showing that the

nuclear- and non-nuclear-weapon states have a shared responsibility. He

argues that framing the linkage the way US officials did, ‘with the [nuclearweapon

states] seen as responsible for disarmament and the [non-nuclearweapon

states] responsible for accepting non-proliferation safeguards

on their nuclear power programs’ is historically inaccurate because the

terms of the treaty were written to apply to both. He adds that the way the

linkage was framed is also ‘politically unfortunate’ because it prevents a

comprehensive and equitable implementation of the NPT bargains based on

shared responsibilities between states with and without nuclear weapons. 15

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Yet the traditional idea of a grand bargain involving disarmament

in exchange for non-proliferation is unlikely to go away any time soon.

Although there is shared responsibility for nuclear disarmament, influential

scholars and practitioners (especially in the developing world) argue that

these responsibilities are not equal: the nuclear-weapon states have a

primary responsibility. 16 This is true. While Article VI does require all treaty

members to pursue disarmament negotiations ‘in good faith’, the letter and

the spirit of the article (and its subsequent interpretation in practice) have

always been that the nuclear-weapon states would take the lead. 17

The problem with the Obama approach may not be that the rationale

per se is unsound, but that expectations on both sides are over-hyped

and unrealistic, trust and confidence are lacking, and

practical measures to encourage reciprocal disarmament

and non-proliferation steps are elusive. At the moment,

every time the nuclear-weapon states make advances

towards disarmament, they congratulate themselves

and expect the non-nuclear states to reciprocate by

accepting stronger non-proliferation measures. But

while the disarmament steps are seen as progress,

many non-nuclear-weapon states (Non-Aligned Movement members in

particular) do not view them as sufficient. In fact, some believe that the

nuclear-weapon states are not serious about disarmament and that they

are limiting themselves to baby steps purely to justify imposing stronger

non-proliferation and nuclear-security obligations on them. 18 At the last

NPT Review Conference, for example, pressure on the non-nuclearweapon

states to agree that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

Additional Protocol providing for more rigorous inspection of civilian

nuclear facilities should be made the new gold standard of safeguards

was high, in view of the leadership shown by some nuclear-weapon states

towards disarmament. But many non-aligned states suggested, explicitly

or implicitly, that disarmament progress had been insufficient for them to

endorse the protocol. 19 Additional non-proliferation items that failed (at

least in part due to similar concerns over equity and fairness) to generate

sufficient support from the non-aligned members at the conference included

The idea of a

grand bargain

is unlikely to

go away

106 | Tanya Ogilvie-White and David Santoro

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proposals for tougher provisions on non-compliance and NPT withdrawal,

and proposals regarding multinational fuel-cycle arrangements. 20

Deep dissatisfaction over the slow, incremental pace of nuclear

disarmament extends not only to members and observers of the Non-

Aligned Movement, but also to representatives of the New Agenda Coalition,

an organisation specifically formed to promote consensus and to make

progress on nuclear disarmament. The coalition was launched in Dublin

in June 1998, with a Joint Declaration by the foreign ministers of Brazil,

Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Slovenia, South Africa and Sweden

(Slovenia later withdrew). These middle powers seek to make progress

on nuclear disarmament, by building a bridge between the negotiating

positions of the nuclear-weapon states and developing

states in UN disarmament forums (especially NPT

review conferences). 21

This dissatisfaction is a measure of the serious

challenges the Obama agenda faces. At the 2010

NPT Review Conference, the South African and

Irish delegations both questioned US and Russian

disarmament intentions, implying that the nuclear reductions agreed in

New START did not necessarily signal a long-term commitment to nuclear

elimination, but rather could be motivated primarily by short-term concerns

over strategic stability, financial pressures and safety issues. 22 South

African Ambassador Jerry Matthews Matjila argued that, ‘notwithstanding

commendable measures to reduce nuclear arsenals, nuclear weapons

[continue] to be relied on in strategic doctrines; such measures must

be distinguished from steps towards nuclear disarmament: they [will]

not automatically translate into a nuclear-weapon-free world’. 23 He also

expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of tangible evidence of the nuclearweapon

states’ commitment to elimination. Brazil and Egypt, also coalition

members, have been even more outspoken: ‘We are not’, the UN ambassador

for Egypt warned before the start of the review conference, ‘going to accept

that each time there is progress on disarmament that we have to take more

obligations on our side’. 24 Following the release of the US Nuclear Posture

Review, a spokesman for Brazil’s Foreign Ministry echoed the sentiment. 25

Brazil and

Egypt have

been outspoken

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It is hardly surprising that the non-proliferation commitments that

emerged at the end of the conference were disappointing. Action 30 of the

Review Conference Final Document is a case in point, seemingly holding

strengthened safeguards hostage to the ‘complete elimination of nuclear

weapons’. 26

Such results prompt many questions. How much nuclear disarmament

is enough? If recent disarmament steps taken by the nuclear-weapon states

are deemed insufficient, what steps would satisfy the non-nuclear-weapon

states, especially non-aligned members, that enough is being done to fulfil

Article VI commitments? Crucially, exactly what nuclear-disarmament

progress is enough for advances to be made on nuclear non-proliferation?

And for what advances precisely? Conversely, what advances on nuclear

non-proliferation are enough for progress towards nuclear disarmament?

And for what progress exactly? Joseph Cirincione, a nuclear-policy expert

and president of the Ploughshares Fund, once argued that:

Nuclear disarmament and preventing proliferation are two sides of

the same nuclear security coin. Nuclear disarmament builds the global

cooperation needed to prevent new nuclear states and nuclear terrorism;

preventing proliferation creates the security needed to continue

disarmament. You just have to keep flipping that coin over and over. Each

turn makes the world a little safer. 27

The problem is that flipping the nuclear-security coin requires not only

US commitment but international cooperation. And the fundamental flaw in

the Obama administration’s nuclear diplomacy is that it raised expectations

before enough thought had been given to how, in practical terms, this

cooperation could be built.

Finding realistic bargains

The assumption that incremental disarmament can lead non-nuclearweapon

states, particularly non-aligned members, to adhere to stronger

non-proliferation measures is not necessarily false. Current US policy has

already had at least some positive impact: developments such as the April

108 | Tanya Ogilvie-White and David Santoro

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2010 Nuclear Security Summit and the December 2010 endorsement of

the IAEA fuel-bank proposal are signs of growing international support

for strengthening the non-proliferation regime. ong>Moreong> generally, both the

numbers and roles of nuclear weapons are declining in some key nuclearweapon

states, and the political space for disarmament discussions has been

growing, notably in the United States and United Kingdom but also in a

range of other states that have become more vocal about the need to make

progress towards a nuclear-weapon-free world.

Yet more thinking is needed on how to make this happen in practice.

Instead of ambitious but vague promises about strengthening the NPT

grand bargains, it would be more productive to focus on a series of less

ambitious reciprocal mini-bargains, with benchmarks for

implementation, so that expectations are more realistic and

progress towards a nuclear-weapon-free world is easier to

measure. This would help give nuclear- and non-nuclearweapon

states a greater sense of shared responsibility and of

being bound in a fight against common dangers. It would also

help dispel Non-Aligned Movement concerns that the current

disarmament drive is just an illusion, or is part of a Western conspiracy

aimed at imposing stronger non-proliferation obligations on developing

states. On a practical level, setting out clearer, shorter-term NPT bargains

would give states a stronger incentive to produce results, and produce them


The United States is ideally positioned to take the lead in identifying

potential bargains of this kind. This would be a step down from the bold and

ambitious vision Obama set out in Prague, but less is sometimes more. US

officials appear to recognise this, having learnt over the past two years that

raising expectations too much can backfire. Since the 2010 Review Conference,

a thread of realism has appeared in their speeches, with less talk of visions

of a nuclear-weapon-free world and greater emphasis on more immediate

steps the United States intends to take to sustain disarmament momentum. A

notable example is Laura E. Kennedy, US ambassador to the Conference on

Disarmament, who in February 2011 outlined US disarmament priorities for

the year ahead: the pursuit of negotiations with Russia on further reductions

Less is



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in strategic and tactical nuclear weapons, both deployed and non-deployed;

reinvigoration and modernisation of the conventional arms control regime;

a follow-on to the 2009 London Conference on transparency and verification

(to be held in Paris); renewed efforts to promote Senate ratification of the

Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and to revitalise Conference on

Disarmament discussions on the conclusion of a Fissile Material Cut-Off

Treaty (FMCT); and preparations to ratify the protocols of the Africa and

South Pacific nuclear-weapon-free zones (agreeing to respect the status of

the zones and provide negative security assurances to zone members) and,

at a future date, those for Southeast and Central Asia. 28

A crucial question is how progress in these areas can prompt parallel

progress in non-proliferation. Kennedy’s list of priorities suggests

potential bargains, whereby pledges by the United States to make goodfaith

commitments could be used to negotiate non-proliferation steps by

non-nuclear-weapons states. Another place to look for potential bargains

that Non-Aligned Movement states, in particular, might agree to is the

64-point Action Plan that emerged from the 2010 NPT Review Conference.

Although this document was disappointing on many levels, it can at least

help identify areas of consensus. As Sergio de Queiroz Duarte, the UN high

representative for disarmament affairs, has argued, the Action Plan should

not be viewed as an ‘outer limit on what [states] should do’, but rather as ‘a

responsible baseline – something on which to build’. 29 Duarte was referring

specifically to nuclear-weapon states’ disarmament commitments, but there

is no reason why this should not also apply to non-nuclear-weapon states’

non-proliferation pledges. There are a number of possible bargains that

could be considered fair and equitable.

One might be the agreement by the United States to initiate work

towards a convention to ban all nuclear weapons, and to persuade other

nuclear-weapon states to do so, in return for non-nuclear-weapon states’

agreement to work in tandem to gradually adhere to and bring into force

the Additional Protocol, make it a formal condition of nuclear-technology

supply, and implement further safeguards measures as they become

operational. In this way a significant move towards nuclear disarmament

would be traded against important advances in nuclear non-proliferation,

110 | Tanya Ogilvie-White and David Santoro

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benefiting all parties. To be sure, getting the nuclear-weapon states to

agree to a treaty that would prohibit and delegitimise the development,

testing, production, stockpiling, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear

weapons would be challenging given the importance these powers give

their arsenals in their national-security policies. Similarly, getting the nonnuclear-weapon

states to adopt the most stringent verification measures as

the new gold standard would be difficult given that many developing states

view them as a cynical form of technology denial. One possible solution

would be to recognise that because the nuclear-weapon states refuse to

commit to a specific time frame for elimination (as they made clear at the

2010 NPT review conference), work towards a nuclear-weapon convention

could begin with agreement that this provision would be

discussed at a later stage of the negotiations. Similarly,

discussions on extensions of the Additional Protocol would

be earmarked for later. But at least the process would be

launched and solutions to overcome such hurdles could be

uncovered later.

Another example could be adherence by the United States

and the other nuclear-weapon states to the legally binding

protocols of the nuclear-weapon-free-zone agreements they have not yet

signed, in return for a commitment by all non-nuclear-weapon states within

the zones to bring the Additional Protocol into force if they have not yet

done so. This would be similar to, but less ambitious than, the first bargain,

and could be seen as a stepping stone. This bargain would provide negative

security assurances to the non-nuclear-weapon states, and at the same time

enhance verification standards. The bargain would not be easy to strike,

because the nuclear-weapon states insist on the right of transit of vessels

carrying nuclear weapons, consistent with the principle of freedom of the

seas. Equally, bringing some Additional Protocol holdouts into the fold

would be tricky. Egypt, for instance, conditions its adherence to the protocol

on resolving the Israel nuclear issue and would probably not place much

value on the United States and other nuclear-weapon states signing the

nuclear-weapon-free-zone protocols. The fundamental logic of this bargain,

however, makes a lot of sense and should be explored.

At least the


would be


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A third example could be the formal commitment by all nuclear-weapon

states 30 to constrain the development of new types of nuclear weapons,

followed by US and Chinese ratification of the CTBT, in return for agreement

by the non-nuclear states to bring the Additional Protocol into force and

then to considerably increase the obstacles to withdrawal from the NPT.

This bargain would help stem both vertical and horizontal proliferation,

but negotiations would be tough. Most nuclear-weapon states have to date

bluntly refused to accept restrictions on their development of new types of

nuclear weapons. ong>Moreong>over, US and Chinese ratification of the CTBT, itself

an ambitious prospect, would not automatically lead to the treaty’s entry

into force; it would also need to be ratified by Egypt, India, Iran, Israel,

North Korea and Pakistan, many of which strongly oppose it. 31 Properly

managed, however, the prospect of the universal implementaton of the

Additional Protocol and tough restrictions on NPT withdrawal may help

the nuclear-weapon states to make at least some of the required concessions.

Another example could be a pledge by the United States and other

nuclear-weapon states to resolve current double standards with regard

to the supply of nuclear technology to the NPT holdouts India, Israel and

Pakistan by defining specific criteria (involving stringent non-proliferation

measures) under which such trade can be conducted, in return for agreement

by non-nuclear-weapon states to introduce and enforce stronger strategic

trade controls. This bargain would be beneficial to all NPT members because

it would universalise non-proliferation measures and further strengthen

export controls. It will not be easy for the nuclear-weapon states to convince

the non-nuclear-weapon states that the only realistic way forward with

the holdouts is to reverse current policy and allow nuclear trade with

them. But requiring the holdouts to adopt very stringent non-proliferation

measures would not only be a overall plus (or at least less damaging) for the

nuclear non-proliferation regime, it might also become more acceptable to

the non-nuclear-weapon states, which could be encouraged to respond by

strengthening their own export-control mechanisms.

A final example could be agreement by the nuclear-weapon states

to introduce a legally binding moratorium on the production of highly

enriched uranium and plutonium for weapons purposes (and subsequently

112 | Tanya Ogilvie-White and David Santoro

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to engage in a wide-ranging diplomatic effort to convince the NPT holdouts

to negotiate a FMCT, which would then be followed by a treaty to address

existing fissile-material stockpiles), in return for a commitment from nonnuclear-weapon

states not to develop national uranium-enrichment and

spent-fuel-reprocessing facilities. This bargain would reduce the availability

of raw materials needed to develop nuclear weapons without impeding the

use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. It would be difficult to

achieve given China’s strong reluctance to agree to a mere moratorium.

Similarly, many non-nuclear-weapon states are very protective of their right

to develop fuel-producing facilities, and would only agree to such a bargain

with clear and strong fuel assurances from the nuclear suppliers. But the

core logic of this bargain also makes sense and it should be given more


* * *

A number of hurdles would have to be overcome if such bargains are to

be agreed and implemented, and if they are to lead to more ambitious

reciprocal agreements and eventually a nuclear-weapon-free world. Non-

Aligned Movement support for the proposed mini-bargains would depend

on whether nuclear-weapon-state intentions were judged to be sincere. As

the past two years have shown, rebuilding the trust eroded largely (but

not exclusively) as a result of past US nuclear policies, especially the G.W.

Bush administration’s overall disdain for traditional forms of arms-control

and disarmament treaties, the NPT review process, and multilateralism in

general, is proving more difficult than many in the Obama administration

had hoped. Despite US efforts, non-aligned leaders and observers, including

members of the New Agenda Coalition, currently look to the disarmament

diplomacy of France, Russia and China (all of whom are disarmament

sceptics in word or deed) as a more accurate gauge of nuclear-weapon

states’ intentions. 32 Negotiating reciprocal bargains would therefore require

some creative thinking, such as working through regional organisations.

Bringing France, Russia and China on board will not be easy. At the

2010 NPT Review Conference, all the nuclear-weapon states agreed to

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make every effort to accelerate concrete progress towards a reduction in

the global stockpile of all nuclear weapons, regardless of type or location;

to diminish the role and significance of nuclear weapons in military and

security concepts, doctrines and policies; to hold discussions on policies

that could prevent nuclear use and accidents, including further reducing

the operational status of nuclear-weapons systems; and to enhance

transparency and increase mutual confidence. They also agreed to report to

the 2014 Preparatory Committee meeting on efforts to ‘accelerate concrete

progress on the steps leading to nuclear disarmament’. 33 But beneath

these commitments there was an undercurrent of strong resistance, from

France, Russia and China in particular, that led to a watering-down of the

disarmament proposals discussed at the conference. Similar resistance is

likely to complicate efforts to identify realistic bargains. 34 Bringing China into

the fold will be particularly challenging because it is the only NPT nuclearweapon

state that is both expanding and enhancing its arsenal (and it seems

determined to continue). ong>Moreong>over, unlike the other nuclear-weapon states,

China opposes a moratorium on production of fissile material for weapons

purposes and refuses to show the same level of transparency about its

nuclear forces as its peers. 35

Finally, long-running regional disputes in the Middle East, South Asia and

Northeast Asia perpetuate the circular rhetoric that hampers disarmament

and non-proliferation negotiations. In their Wall Street Journal article of 7

March 2011, former US statesmen Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, Sam

Nunn and William Perry highlight these problems:

While the four of us believe that reliance on nuclear weapons for deterrence

is becoming increasingly hazardous and decreasingly effective, some

nations will hesitate to draw or act on the same conclusion unless regional

confrontations and conflicts are addressed … A world without nuclear

weapons will not simply be today’s world minus nuclear weapons. 36

The obvious problem is that even when the will to implement disarmament

and non-proliferation efforts exists, regional security challenges and

priorities sap momentum and prevent progress.

114 | Tanya Ogilvie-White and David Santoro

Progress towards a nuclear-weapon-free world will only be possible

if active work to overcome these hurdles is conducted in parallel with

the negotiation of fair and equitable bargains between the nuclear- and

non-nuclear-weapon states, in a mutually reinforcing process. Nuclear

weapons continue to have significant real and perceived utility, which

vastly complicates the process of agreeing and implementing even slow,

incremental disarmament. At stake is more than just short-term enthusiasm

or sustaining current momentum; it is about securing the future of the

nuclear non-proliferation regime as a whole.

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This article is based on and expands on a key topic of the authors’ forthcoming volume,

provisionally entitled Slaying the Nuclear Dragon: Twenty-First Century Disarmament

Dynamics (University of Georgia Press). Both authors are recipients of Nuclear Security

Fellowships at the IISS under a programme funded by The Stanton Foundation.


1 Speech by Barack Obama,

‘Confronting 21st Century Threats’,

Lafayette, IN, 16 July 2008.

2 ‘Remarks by President Barack

Obama’, Hradcany Square, Prague,

Czech Republic, 5 April 2009.

3 The Non-Aligned Movement comprises

118 member states and 18

observer countries, and represents

the interests and priorities of developing

states. Despite its Cold War

roots, it still plays a major role in

nuclear negotiations at the UN in

Geneva, New York and Vienna.

Leading member states and observers

include Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia

and South Africa. Iran is also very

influential, which creates significant

problems for the nuclear nonproliferation

regime due to Tehran’s

nuclear defiance. Many members,

moreover, are embittered by years

of what they regard as nuclearweapon-state

double standards on

disarmament and non-proliferation.

For further information, see http://

4 The full text of the New START

Treaty and its Protocol is available



The nuclear reductions

mandated by New START are not

overly ambitious: by 650 warheads to

1,550 from the previous arms-control

treaty. Similarly, the Nuclear Posture

Review further reduces the role of US

nuclear weapons but steers clear of

declaring a no-first-use policy. Nuclear

Posture Review Report (Washington

DC: Department of Defense, April


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5 Section 1251 of the FY2010 National

Defense Authorization Act indicates

that the United States ‘will invest

well over $100 billion in nuclear

delivery systems to sustain existing

capabilities and modernize some

strategic systems’, and intends ‘to

invest $80 billion in the next decade

to sustain and modernize the nuclear

weapons complex’ (a figure that was

subsequently increased by nearly

$5 billion). See ‘The New START

Treaty – Maintaining a Strong Nuclear

Deterrent’, The White House, 13 May


sites/default/files/New START section

1251 fact sheet.pdf.

6 Nuclear Posture Review Report, p. 49.

7 Ibid., p. iv.

8 Arguably, the choice of the concept

of strategic stability over the traditional

concept of deterrence suggests

that the United States perceives more

potential for cooperation than for

confrontation in major-power relations.

Nuclear deterrence, however,

remains relevant to manage these

relations because the Nuclear Posture

Review recognises the potential for


9 The review report explains that US

nuclear weapons will continue to have

extended deterrence missions, while

stressing that extended deterrence will

be conducted increasingly with nonnuclear

elements. The recent adoption

of NATO’s new Strategic Concept, for

example, confirms that, in the eyes of

member states, US nuclear weapons

are vital to Europe’s security. See

Strategic Concept for the Defence and

Security of the Members of the North

Atlantic Treaty Organisation Adopted

by the Heads of State and Government

in Lisbon’, 19 November 2010.

10 The treaty was finally ratified by

the US Senate by a 71–26 vote on 22

December 2010.

11 Nuclear Posture Review Report, pp. v–vi.

For similar statements in the report,

see pp. vi, vii, xv–vi, 2, 5, 9 and 12.

12 ‘Remarks by President Barack


13 Brad Roberts, American Primacy and

Major Power Concert: A Critique of

the 2002 National Security Strategy,

IDA Paper P-3751 (Washington DC:

Institute for Defense Analyses, 2002),

pp. 76–7, 81.

14 The conference adopted a final document,

but consensus was only reached

on part of the text, a 64-point Action


15 Scott Sagan, ‘Shared Responsibilities

for Nuclear Disarmament’, Daedalus,

vol. 138, no. 4, Fall 2009, p. 159.

16 For a response to Sagan’s article

emphasising that the nuclear- and

non-nuclear-weapon states have

shared but not equal responsibilities

for nuclear disarmament,

see Mohamed I. Shaker, ‘Shared,

But Not Equal Responsibilities’, in

Shared Responsibilities for Nuclear

Disarmament: A Global Debate

(Cambridge, MA: American Academy

of Arts and Sciences, 2010), pp. 36–9.

17 Shortly after the conclusion of the

NPT, for instance, US Ambassador

Arthur Goldberg noted in a statement

delivered before the UN

General Assembly that there is ‘a

practical order of priorities’ set out

in Article VI, beginning with ‘the

cessation of the nuclear arms race’,

then ‘nuclear disarmament’, and

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‘general and complete disarmament’

as the ultimate goal (see ‘Statement

by US Ambassador Arthur Goldberg,

First Committee, General Assembly,

United Nations, 26 April 1968’).

Article VI reads: ‘Each of the Parties

to the Treaty undertakes to pursue

negotiations in good faith on effective

measures relating to cessation

of the nuclear arms race at an early

date and to nuclear disarmament, and

on a treaty on general and complete

disarmament under strict and effective

international control’ (see Treaty

on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear

Weapons, 5 March 1970). ong>Moreong>over,

over the year, the practice adopted by

the vast majority of states, notably at

Review Conferences and Preparatory

Committee meetings, has been to consider

nuclear-weapon-state leadership

on disarmament not only as a legal

obligation but also as a normative


18 Non-nuclear-weapon-state frustration

over slow, incremental disarmament

is discussed in Harald Muller,

‘A Nuclear Nonproliferation Test:

Obama’s Nuclear Policy and the

2010 NPT Review Conference’,

Nonproliferation Review, vol. 18, no. 1,

March 2011, pp. 219–36.

19 See, for example, ‘Main Committee

II: Statement by Ambassador Antonio

Guerreiro’, 2010 NPT Review

Conference, New York, 10 May 2010.

Guerreiro states that ‘it is simply not

fair to expect non-nuclear-weapon

states, which have already undertaken

unequivocal, credible and verifiable

commitments to foreswear nuclear

weapons, to implement further

enhanced verification measures, while

the international community has yet to

be presented with a timeframe within

which to expect the achievement of a

world free of nuclear weapons’. See

also ‘Address by H.E. Ahmed Aboul-

Gheit, Minister for Foreign Affairs

of the Arab Republic of Egypt’, 2010

NPT Review Conference, New York, 5

May 2010. Aboul-Gheit states that ‘the

implementation by nuclear-weaponstates

of their obligations in the field

of nuclear disarmament, including

through the implementation of the

new START agreement, for which we

congratulate the United States and the

Russian Federation, does not consequently

commit non-nuclear-weapon

states to accept any additional obligations,

other than those stipulated

in the Treaty neither in the field of

non-proliferation nor in the field of

peaceful uses of nuclear energy’. Later

in the same speech he added: ‘Nuclearweapon

states continue to adhere to

nuclear weapons within the context of

inflexible military doctrines which do

not change to correspond to the new

stated policy by their leaderships’.

20 William Potter, Patricia Lewis,

Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova and

Miles Pomper, The 2010 NPT Review

Conference: Deconstructing Consensus

(Monterey, CA: CNS Special Report,

17 June 2010), pp. 13–17.

21 Since 2000, when the coalition

played an important role in building

consensus over the 2000 Review

Conference Final Document (notably

to reach the ‘Thirteen Practical Steps’),

bridge-building efforts have been less

coordinated and less successful.

22 ‘Address by Micheal Martin,

T.D., Minister of Foreign Affairs

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for Ireland’, 2010 NPT Review

Conference, New York, 3 May 2010;

Ambassador Samad Abdul Minty,

‘Perspectives on the 2010 NPT

Review Conference’, 31 March 2010,


ent-times-spring-2010&id=342; Ray

Acheson, ‘The 2010 NPT Review

Conference: Where Do We Go From

Here?’, 7 July 2010, http://disarm.




Sarin, ‘Main Committee I and III’,

Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies

Special Coverage, 2010 NPT Review

Conference, New York, 11 May 2010,

23 Jerry Matthews Matjila, permanent

representative of South Africa to

the UN Office in Geneva, ‘Summary

Record of 1st Meeting, Main

Committee I’, General Exchange of

Views, NPT/CONF.2010/MC.I/SR.1,

2010 NPT Review Conference, New

York, 7 May 2010, p. 4, para. 24.

24 Maged Abdelaziz, quoted in Colum

Lynch, ‘The Nuclear Backlash Begins’,

Foreign Policy, 20 April 2010.

25 Ribeiro declared that ‘the lack of significant

progress on the part of the

nuclear weapons states to effectively

eliminate arsenals renders it too difficult

for the international community

to take effective measures to make the

non-proliferation regime more stable’.

Orlando Ribeiro (Embassy of Brazil),

quoted in Irma Arguello, ‘The Position

of an Emerging Global Power:

Brazilian Responses to the US Nuclear

Posture Review’, Nonproliferation

Review, vol. 18, no. 1, March 2011, p.

189, based on ‘A Better NPR’, speech

at the conference on International

Perspectives on the Nuclear Posture

Review, Carnegie Endowment for

International Peace, Washington DC,

21 April 2010, http://www.

fa=2842. See also ‘Summary Record

of the 2nd Meeting’, General Debate,

NPT/CONF.2010/SR.2, 2010 NPT

Review Conference, New York, 8 June

2010, p. 8, paras 48 and 51.

26 See Deepti Choubey’s interview with

Ambassador Susan Burk (US special

representative of the president for

nuclear non-proliferation) at ‘The

2010 NPT Review Conference: What

Happened and What Next?’, Carnegie

Endowment for International Peace,

Washington DC, 17 June 2010, http://


27 Joseph Cirincione, ‘Toward a

Nuclear-Free Future’, Yes! Magazine,

23 September 2009, http://www.


28 ‘Ambassador Kennedy on Arms

Control and Disarmament

Challenges in 2011’, Geneva Centre

for Security Policy, Geneva, 16

February 2011, http://geneva.


29 Sergio Duarte, ‘NPT Priorities

for Action: A Consultation on

Prioritizing the NPT Action Plan’,

EastWest Institute, United Nations,

9 September 2010, p. 3, http://www.



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30 The new Nuclear Posture Review

stresses that the United States will

not develop new nuclear warheads,

that it will not conduct nuclear testing,

and that it will pursue ratification

and entry into force of the CTBT. See

Nuclear Posture Review Report, pp.


31 Indonesian ratification is also needed

for CTBT to enter into force. Jakarta

has, however, initiated the process to

ratify the treaty very shortly.

32 For an in-depth analysis of the disarmament

policies of France, Russia and

China, see David Santoro, ‘France,

Russia, and China: The Pessimistic

Nuclear Weapon States’, in Tanya

Ogilvie-White and David Santoro

(eds), Slaying the Nuclear Dragon:

Twenty-First Century Disarmament

Dynamics (Athens, GA: University of

Georgia Press, forthcoming 2011).

33 ‘Final Document’, NPT/CONF.2010/50

(Vol. I), 2010 NPT Review Conference,

New York, 28 May 2010, p. 21, Action


34 See Potter et al., The 2010 NPT Review

Conference, pp. 7–11; and Muller, ‘A

Nuclear Nonproliferation Test’, pp.


35 See Santoro, ‘France, Russia, and

China’. For a comprehensive analysis

of China’s strategic priorities (notably

in relation to the United States),

see Lora Saalman, China and the US

Nuclear Posture Review (Tsinghua: The

Carnegie Papers, February 2011).

36 George Shultz, William Perry, Henry

Kissinger and Sam Nunn, ‘Deterrence

in the Age of Nuclear Proliferation:

The Doctrine of Mutual Assured

Destruction Is Obsolete in the Post-

Cold War Era’, Wall Street Journal, 7

March 2011.

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