PrintPrint EmailEmail ShareShare CiteCite


Panel II: Global Security Institutions: The Nonproliferation Regime

Presider: Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science And International Affairs
Panelists: Nobuyasu Abe, Director, Center for the Promotion Of Disarmament and Nonproliferation, Japan Institute of International Affairs, and Abdul S. Minty, Deputy Director-General, Department of International Relations and Cooperation, Republic of South Africa
May 19, 2010
Council on Foreign Relations


On May 19, 2010, the International Institutions and Global Governance (IIGG) program held a multisession, half-day symposium on the implications of rising powers for global governance. This event was made possible through generous support from the Robina Foundation.

The Symposium page can be found here: "Rising Powers and Global Institutions in the Twenty-First Century."

ALEX LENNON: I want to welcome you to the second panel discussion. My name is Alex Lennon. I'm the editor-in-chief for the Washington Quarterly and a senior fellow at CSIS.

I want to get the fun stuff out of the way first. I think if I can ask all of you, if they're not already off, to turn off your cell phones not just put them on vibrate so they don't interfere with the sound system.

And the council has also asked me to remind everyone that this session is on the record, and it will be about a half hour discussion among the four of us in front of the room and then we'll open it up for about 45 minutes or so for questions and answers and a discussion with all of you.

I've been looking forward to this session for a number of reasons. The range of expertise among the people on this panel is quite amazing. You all have the individual bios in front of you. I won't take the time to read through all of them.

But collectively, all three of them have served in their own national governments. They are in national governments from three different continents. They are in national government who come from different states of nuclear weapons: a nuclear weapon state in the case of the United States, a country that has both been the only one to suffer a nuclear attack as well as one that is allied closely with a nuclear weapon state, Japan, and one of that is one of the few handfuls to relinquish their nuclear weapons in the case of South Africa, so a set of very different perspectives.

In addition to Professor Allison's perspectives, both having served in a Democratic administration as well as a Republican one, in Presidents Clinton and Reagan respectively in the United States, the other members of the panel have served on many of the institutions that we will be talking about at some point in the discussion, with Ambassador Abe having been the undersecretary general for disarmament affairs at the U.N. and Ambassador Minty having been both a governor on the IAEA Board of Governors as well as director of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the president of the IAEA General Conference in 2006. So we can touch on a whole range of things.

And as you can imagine, when you think about a subject like rising powers in the nonproliferation regime, there can be a huge number of things that will come up in this discussion. The obvious examples of potentially new nuclear states or new nuclear states, such as India and Iran, are obvious ones. There are slightly less obvious ones, although not over the last couple of days, such as Brazil, Turkey, South Africa, Japan and Germany as new diplomatic powers in the nonproliferation regime, and a series of new tools ranging from the additional protocol to the Nuclear Security Summit that was here last month as well as things like the Proliferation Security Initiative and interdiction as new tools of a nonproliferation regime. And we'll touch on all of them.

What I want to do in both Ambassador Abe and Ambassador Minty's case is they've been in New York at the review conference for the Nonproliferation Treaty, of course, the centerpiece of the nonproliferation regime.

But I want to start with Professor Allison by asking him to help us establish a baseline of the nonproliferation regime with this short but not so simple question: is the nonproliferation regime in a state of existential crisis?

GRAHAM ALLISON: Yes. (Laughter.) Maybe I should elaborate briefly. At least in my view, I would say. In the January issue of a local magazine here, Foreign Affairs, I had a piece that starts with the question, could the global nuclear order be as fragile today as the global financial order was two years ago when conventional wisdom declared it to be sound, stable and resilient?

Actually, if I had been more prescient, I would have said, could the euro -- to relate to the session that was just before -- in January, be as fragile as the financial system turned out to be? And in January, if you had asked that question, people would have thought you were slightly nuts. Today it's kind of obvious. As the panel was saying, everybody knows that the euro was so constructive that inevitably it would fall into something like this. Anybody who knew that should be extremely rich because that was a market you can short quite easily. So our ability to judge systemic risk is I think quite limited and we should be modest about it.

But nonetheless, if we see the global nuclear order, of which the centerpiece, as you rightly say, is the nonproliferation treaty, unravel over the next year or two or three, it will be easier to explain why that happened than it will be to explain what happened with the financial crisis.

If I just take -- in the article I identify seven trend-lines that I think are undermining, and I won't rehearse them but I'd just say look at a situation in which if one of the smallest, weakest, poorest, most isolated countries on earth, North Korea, can successfully violate the rules of the regime and defy the demands of the great powers, the U.S. and China, successfully, to a point that over the last 10 years it went from having zero nuclear weapons to having 10 bombs and two tests, with virtual impunity. Oh, yes, it's been sanctioned from time to time. It's also been bribed regularly for meetings.

What does this say about a regime? Or if you look at Iran -- you've got pending now this fourth resolution. As the U.N. works hard and the system works hard to impose U.N. resolutions and sanctions, what's happening in Tehran? Four thousand centrifuges are spinning. They produce eight more pounds of LEU every day. Iran has now mastered the technology to do that, has two bombs worth of LEU if further reprocessed. And maybe they'll trade one of them away but they just keep producing more.

So you'd say, well, how is that part of the regime working? You have the Security Council with unanimous resolutions that demands cessation of enrichment and what happens? So I would say this is not a regime that's healthy.

LENNON: Ambassador Abe, anything you'd like to add? And what's your sense from New York?

AMB. ABE: Yes. Well, if you say nonproliferation regime, you're not only talking about the NPT treaty itself. If you have -- you asked will that treaty exist, I think -- I'm afraid it may become the Byzantine Empire. In my learning of history, I understand the Byzantine Empire lasted for centuries after the Roman Empire collapsed but it became totally irrelevant toward the end of the empire.

I don't want to have to see this situation like that, but the NPT nonproliferation regime consists not only of the treaty; it consists of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the IAEA, recently U.N. Security Council Resolution 1540. Now also we have a nuclear security summit process starting. So we should look at it as a total set of regimes consisting of each different voluntary organizations as well.

And I think the value of international organizations, when you talk about the global institution as we discussed this morning, is that it's interesting. When an institution becomes universal, all membership becomes automatic, people don't pay the dues. But when it's a voluntary small group, there's a dynamic that works. People want to join it and they pay the dues and they try to keep the rules. This is very important.

And the U.S. is still number one power in the world, even though relatively it may be declining. So it has still power to organize such a thing as a nuclear security summit. You set up a new agenda.

And it's very interesting. Even those non-aligned countries who are making all kinds of resistance in the U.N. or NPT Review Conference, when they come to Washington to attend the security summit, they talk about their efforts to prevent proliferation, to prevent anything going to the terrorists. So it is still very important to establish a new group and take an agenda setting and to draw the countries to work that specific agenda. I think that is what we should be looking on.

LENNON: Ambassador Minty, are we in a state of crisis?

AMB. MINTY: Well, the NPT has been in a state of crisis, but developments recently have led us to the conclusion that at this review conference we're at a crossroads.

And certainly the development so far is the atmospherics are very good. I've been leading our delegations from 1995 to all the NPT review conferences and we have a special interest because the '95 decision to extend the NPT indefinitely had a bargain, and that bargain was also that nuclear weapon states would move towards disarmament. This was reinforced in 2000, an unequivocal commitment to nuclear disarmament. Now, from then to now, there's not been much in terms of the unequivocal commitment.

Now, the other distinction we make which is often misunderstood is that in terms of the NPT we talk about disarmament meaning eradicating all nuclear weapons. And it's important to remember than when countries like ours joined it as non-nuclear weapon states, we had before us the nuclear weapons states saying their intention is to eliminate all nuclear weapons. That's why the non-nuclear weapon states signed the treaty. We mustn't forget. It's the only (discriminate ?) treaty in the world. So we want to reach the point where the world is free of nuclear weapons. This is often forgotten.

So we are now watching the Prague speeches and the developments that has made a major difference to the atmosphere of the conference and I think if we work with some element of responsibility and flexibility and restraint, we may get a conclusion that's good. I'm not dismissive of the NPT because it's the only treaty we have and no matter how difficult it is, we should make every effort to ensure that it succeeds.

The nuclear nonproliferation regime, in our view, does not extend to things like the NSG because the NSG is like a private club and it was started to counter India's explosion in the '70s. It is not a multilateral body -- and I speak as a past chairman of the NSG -- but it's a group that works out control structures. It is what it says -- nuclear suppliers' group. It doesn't have the recipients.

So if we want to work in nuclear areas like in all other areas of the world, and we're learning very quickly about this, the whole international community has a stake in peace. We, in South Africa, will be affected as much by a nuclear detonation -- of course, depending physically -- as anyone else. So since we all have a stake, we must all come to the NPT and move forward.

So the Nuclear Security Summit, I was a South African Sherpa. We participated. I would dispute what my Japanese colleague has said. I don't think we say one thing in one country and another in another venue. We've said exactly what we have said anywhere else in our documents. I played a very big part in drafting that communique.

But the concerns we have is we have a thing called the Khan network or the illicit network. When news came out that Iran and Korea got equipment from it, Western leaders and others said it's the biggest threat to the NPT. Now why is it, when over 40 countries are involved in that and most of them developed countries, it's only South Africa that had the first prosecution and yet, people say we (have the name ?) resist nonproliferation?

So I think the record does not speak the truth all the time in terms of how politics takes over the truth. The truth is major European countries, many others have had the Khan network operating there and it's a mystery to us as to why there are no prosecutions.

So I think that we must follow up issues, as we say, that it's important. Iran is important but let's remember, much of the traffic was through the illicit network. So I think more attention should be given to that. We've raised it at the NPT conference. I must say sadly that there's not been much echoing of our kind of concern because the focus is almost exclusively on Iran and to some extent on North Korea.

LENNON: Thanks.

Ambassador Abe, let me start with you on the next question. To add to this baseline of the health of the nonproliferation regime, we have the subject of the conference on the rising powers, new powers that are parts of it. You've spoken at other venues about both potentially the assets that those new powers might bring to the nonproliferation regime as well as the rights and the responsibilities of those new powers to the nonproliferation regime.

What are some of those rights and responsibilities, both the ways that new powers can help the regime as well as ways that it challenges it besides the obvious examples of countries like Iran and North Korea?

AMB. ABE: Well, there's a difficulty. It was easy for me to say the voluntary groups are good and have some role to play. In the meantime, in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, for example, we invited Russia to join. We have invited China to join. We have been gradually expanding the membership. That is necessary because they are all potential suppliers. You have to put them in the net to control the exports.

But in the meantime, when Russia joined, they insisted on a special, specific exemption for the grandfather clause concerning the nuclear reactors in India. China insists on a special exemption for reactors in Pakistan. So sometimes it is very difficult to agree on tight rules in the Nuclear Suppliers Group today because the newcomers insist on making exemptions or making the rules not so tight.

Well, I may also say the U.S. was not innocent in that sense either because the U.S. insists on having the U.S.-India deal made a big exception in the nuclear suppliers group. So it is a very difficult exercise. But by having a cohesion of the group, I think we can still maintain tight control as much as we can. But okay.

I touched on the U.S.-India deal. Okay. It's been done in the Republican administration and the Democrats came in, I understand, they also said, okay, what has been done is done and we have to move with it.

The best we can do as of today is to keep on insisting on India to be strict on proliferation and also keep on the Indians to keep their promises, conditions observed, respected. One thing is the nuclear tests. There's not so very clear but some tacit understanding that India would not test and if it would test, there's to be reaction.

Another thing is that even though the deal was done, I think the countries -- I mean, the NSG should keep on trying to put as much break possible as possible on India to slow down the expansion of the military fissile material production which gives more capacity to India to produce nuclear warheads which encourages Pakistan to work harder and the situation gets worse.

ALLISON: If I could pick up I think to maybe connect these two strands, because I think -- I agree strongly with Ambassador Abe that if we try to think in regime terms, it's not enough to think about the universal treaties, though they're part of it like the NPT, but to think of all the other components because the regime is basically what are all the factors that end up achieving the objective of which the Nuclear Suppliers Group is a good example.

And if I try to connect this for Ambassador Minty with the issue that you mentioned that's going on at the review conference right now, when I look at things that are eroding the regime overall, I would say the Khan network issue, that is the black-gray market activity as reflected in the Khan network, is one of the most dramatic.

And I would say, again, in my list of seven, I mean, right up there with North Korea, is the notion that a -- what Mohamed ElBaradei calls the Wal-Mart of nonproliferation was operating with many, many countries involved including, unfortunately, the U.S. I mean, in New Jersey there was an outlet that was part of this process, Malaysia and many, many other countries -- Switzerland, Dubai. And how many prosecutions, just as you say? So what is it that you're proposing be done about that part of the regime?

AMB. MINTY: Well, if you're putting a question to me, I think first of all, I need to make clear that in our view, the nonproliferation regime stems from the NPT plus all conferences of the NPT. That's universal. The Nuclear Suppliers Group, as I've said, as it is, a self-appointed club; it does not have universality. We cannot therefore expect everyone to comply with it in the same manner. So we need to take those issues as far as possible to the NPT to get growing consensus.

Now, the Khan network, yes, over 40 countries they say. Why are we the only country who also gave a report to the IAEA Board of Governors? I've been on the board of governors since '95, the longest serving member on the board. And we do not get that cooperation from very important countries who say that nonproliferation is top of the agenda for them.

So all I'm saying, without exaggerating it, is that developed countries -- and those 40 are the most -- aren't developing countries. But the common perception is it's the developing countries that are weak on nonproliferation. Now here is a challenge. Why are they not prosecuting? Why are they not taking action? Why is it that for a relatively underdeveloped country like South Africa, we not only have a prosecution but our investigations are so thorough that when they reach the court, the German and Swiss nationals involved plead guilty before the trial commences.

And why did we do this? This is very important. We didn't want the court to go through all the evidence about nonproliferation items because that in itself would, in fact, encourage proliferation. So we worked extremely hard to do this and yet, we come an international conference or other forums where we've taken it and people behave as if the other cases haven't taken place. So it's kind of a political, I think, issue.

ALLISON: But what would you have -- do you have a proposal of what should be done about this?

AMB. MINTY: I think everyone knows what they should do. Those who are involved should investigate, should prosecute. I can't tell them to do that. I don't have stormtroopers. But they can come to the IAEA. We cooperated with the IAEA. The first time we found this we brought the IAEA inspectors on the premises, we showed them everything, we encouraged the IAEA to set a database. They have it. It's a voluntary one. All countries are not contributing to the information. We are the only ones who seems to say IAEA is central this.

And I would say the central body, much more important in some ways than the NSG for the NPT, is actually the IAEA because everyone who's a member of the NPT is required to give its safeguards agreement to the IAEA. There are still some 10 or 15 that have not done so, but that safeguards agreement. Then when I joined the board, we worked out the additional protocol but it is at this stage still a voluntary instrument.

Now, we cannot turn into legality what is not there, so South Africa at this conference has said that although it is a voluntary instrument, particularly countries with the level of technology where they can proliferate have a duty to go to the additional protocol because that would make everybody feel confident about the world. But it's no use getting a small island state that has no nuclear capability to sign that.

And many developed countries are doing that as part of the aid relationship. When they give them aid, they must sign the additional protocol. It makes nonsense of the additional protocol in a sense, if we just want to say 100 countries. But like everyone who's religious is against evil, we all want people to sign the additional protocol, but it makes a real difference only for countries that have some nuclear capability. So we should concentrate on those. I'm not saying others shouldn't sign it.

So the challenge before us now in the next two weeks is to see how far the nuclear weapon states are prepared to go, either with a timeline where they say at this date, we will have no nuclear weapons, or in terms of the following steps.

And what I said a couple of days ago in one of the committees it's not good just waiting for soft type of agreements between the two very big countries. We need all five, as we said in a previous decision of the NPT, all five to engage collectively so they move forward. Now, that leaves us with the other three who are outside besides Korea.

Now, India and Pakistan, you won't solve it through the NSG. You'll solve it through a regional conference and it will have to be a regional security conference just as people are talking about a regional security conference for the Middle East and you cannot ignore Israel as a country with nuclear weapons in that region. If you really want to expand the area of nuclear-weapon-free zones, in Africa we've just ratified our Pelindaba Treaty and it is very good news when Secretary Clinton said that she will now authorize the United States to ratify that protocol which to the African continent will be given security in terms of nuclear attacks from nuclear weapon states and so on -- and so too with other nuclear-weapon-free zones.

So we should be expanding these nuclear-weapon-free zones. We even suggested -- it may sound ridiculous -- Mongolia was declared a one-country nuclear-weapon-free zone. Germany and other countries say they're against nuclear weapons. We said, please declare yourself nuclear weapon free. No one says you must be on it too to declare yourself to do something good.

So if they do that, the other big issue for us at the conference is the whole question of nuclear sharing because we cannot talk of disarmament just focusing on the countries that produce nuclear weapons but if they're sharing nuclear weapons with someone else, you've extended the nuclear umbrella across and that makes it dangerous. And also, nuclear weapons on other countries' soil -- we should clearly withdraw that.

Now, NATO is discussing its own nuclear posture review. We hope very much that the kind of things that have been discussed in the U.S. posture review will be discussed there.

And ultimately, we need to ask the question: what is the use of a nuclear weapon? And we're out of the deterrence area, is any country really envisaging using it, in what conditions? And I think the military needs to use and civil society has to make sure that we talk about this outdated weapon which is likely to create so much destruction if it is used by accident or by design or so on.

LENNON: I want to come back to just a couple of the issues that you raised. Let me turn to Ambassador Abe particularly because you raised the issue about the importance of the IAEA in nuclear weapons going forward and I don't want to distract from the focus on nuclear materials and terrorism which have been raised by the Nuclear Security Summit and the posture review in the U.S.

But given the events of the last couple of days and given the agreement among Brazil, Turkey and Iran, the focus on a lot of the media in the United States has been on the amount of time that has elapsed since that agreement was originally proposed to Iran and how much less of Iran's material is covered by the agreement. Part of it also, though, may appear to be the IAEA's role in the agreement as opposed to the original one.

And Ambassador Abe, if I can turn to you, both for your own reactions as well as from New York about the Brazil, Turkey, Iran agreement, particularly about the role of the IAEA, the potential role of the IAEA or potentially being excluded from the agreement going forward. Is the view in New York that that agreement is positive? Is the view that it seeks to circumvent the IAEA? What's your sense of it?

AMB. ABE: Well, as to this Brazil-Turkey-Iran deal, I think we have to see the exact terms of the agreement to see whether it is useful or not. And I haven't seen the exact original documents of it so I cannot do so.

But the initial concern is that the deal addressed some confidence building steps but it does not address the core issue of suspending uranium enrichment in Iran, which the countries involved in small-group negotiations are concerned about because it brings Iran closer to the capacity to build bombs if their intention is that.

Then the IAEA role I think is basically an honest broker, technical service provider. If they're asked to verify, well, how much amount of low-enriched uranium is shipped out in Iran, kept in Turkey, they keep an eye on them, measurements they can do.

Indeed, the former Director General Mohamed ElBaradei took a more greater task into his hands as a sort of director general of the agency to actively work on the deal. But the new director general is taking a more, I think, passive role and that is the basic role of the IAEA.

ALLISON: In the document that the three parties signed, they referred to the Vienna Group and so they basically are taking it back to the group that initially offered the October agreement so there's an explicit role for the IAEA there.

AMB. MINTY: Yes. I think we should recall that the original agreement was an agreement with the IAEA director general, France, the United States, Russia and Iran. So what has happened is that since that has not moved forward, part of the problem, as we all saw, was that when the Iranian president agreed initially to it, there was a reaction within Iran against it so he seemed to pull back.

What has happened now is that these two countries have gone to Iran and got it back to that step, namely that they should give the uranium out of their country to the other countries, they will then enrich it and then give them the enriched uranium for the medical uses it is going to have in their reactor.

So I think the IAEA cannot avoid being involved. I don't just look on the IAEA as a kind of intermediary or anything. It is a verification body. It is the one that has to tell us that every ounce of the uranium has been dealt with properly, nothing is lost and so on. So I do not think this can go forward without them.

Also, we need France and Russia, and the U.S. because among these countries there are also countries where, after the enriched uranium has been enriched to the 20 percent, they will be able to construct the fuel rods because you can't just put -- I mean, uranium -- many people think if you enrich it, you can do anything with it. It is not like fuel you just put in a car. You need all these things. So they will need France and Russians and obviously the United States involvement. It's a reactor the United States originally had provided to Iran.

So I think that it is a good step in my view. Any step that brings parties close to dialog and confidence building and discussion is a step because, you see, even if you have any conflict that ends in -- God forbid -- a violent confrontation, in the end, you have to discuss matters.

And the one experience we've had in South Africa is in a way everyone expected a race war and a catastrophe. When we went along the course of dialogue, we were able to save that. So in the end, whatever happens, you have to talk. So it's better that you talk earlier. It was Churchill who said, jaw-jaw rather than war-war. But that's not a way of life because obviously at times you have to take action.

The Security Council, in the meantime, has got a document before it, we believe, according to the media. How the two processes are going to follow, we do not know because what will be a pity is that the Security Council gets divided on an issue like this. So we hope that all parties will look at it. There will be time given to consider it and certainly it is important that the IAEA is involved. One cannot have a deal like this without the IAEA.

ALLISON: I think if understood in the context of a comprehensive strategy in which sanctions and pressure and even military threats, particularly by Israel, are part of a whole picture, this could be appreciated as essentially getting almost back to October.

And somebody was talking or asked me about it earlier and I said, if one thought it was a good idea to buy the car that we proposed to buy on the terms that we proposed to buy them in October, then the offer that's at least advertised is almost there -- it's not the end of the game because there's obviously going to be some negotiations. For example, the continuing enrichment to 20 percent which the Iranians say they want to continue to do even if they transfer the material was going to be stopped in the previous agreement.

So I would say it looks to me like they're haggling about that but in the end they'll agree to it. So I would say, it was a good car to buy in October, I think that there's going to be an opportunity to buy a car now.

LENNON: Let me use that as a pivot for the last question before we open it up to the audience and ask Ambassador Minty to answer it. Moving from the Iran agreement more collectively, China has an interesting definitional position in this panel because it's not really a rising power as both a member of the -- permanent member of the U.N. Security Council as well as one of the five nuclear weapon states.

But China along with a number of the other developing countries consistently used the line that sanctions don't work. And it's my opinion that that is overlooked in a lot of the U.S. media coverage.

Is there a sense among developing countries that sanctions are an ineffective nonproliferation tool, particularly from your own country's experience? What role do you believe sanctions can play collectively as a part of a coercive diplomacy strategy? And do you get a sense that developing countries or these new powers as a whole don't believe that sanctions are an effective enforcement tool for nonproliferation?

AMB. MINTY: You see, the problem with sanctions is that it's a very blunt tool. And in our liberation struggle, we constantly asked for sanctions but sanctions then were part of the tool of the internal struggle, so we had a domestic struggle linked to sanctions. And those sanctions were calculated. They were not against all whites, for example, only against racial institutions.

Now, if you look at the history of the United Nations sanctions, often it is an expression of frustration or because they do not wish to take other action, say, the British action over Rhodesia where they should have moved in with troops because of the rebellion against the queen by Ian Smith. So they did that. So it was sanctions as an alternative to using force.

The then perception in the developing countries in Africa was that the kith and kin played a big part. They could send troops to the Caribbean or other parts of Africa, but when white Rhodesians were involved, they didn't wish to. This is unfortunate.

So now these sanctions are not making any real difference to the actual nuclear capacity of Iran. They are targeting financial things, of course some trade, but no one is trading with Iran legally now anyway. So where are we going to find this kind of information about that legal trade if there is any for it?

Secondly, Iran now has the knowledge. It has now enriched. So years ago I was told in the White House and so on that the intention is to try and stop them having the knowledge they have. I think in the history of the dealing with Iran several mistakes were made in the early part. There should have been some dialogue. You know, in the Bush administration there were virtually no dialogue and a commitment not to, although some courageous steps were taken later.

So I do not know if targeted or untargeted sanctions can produce that immediate result. But whatever one does with sanctions or other measures, one must not stop talking, because that link of dialogue almost always allows you to understand the position of the others and then you can act accurately in terms of that.

Very few countries in these kind of critical situations, or indeed, even the NPT give you the true reason in their main statements. You have to build up a lot of experience and understanding to then say, what is the real intention of this? And in our South African experience, we had to put ourselves in the position of the white rulers to help them against themselves, because they would never had freed us if we had gone on like this, but in the final analysis we had to think for them, to say, what are their fears, what are their concerns and so on, and then work out a package.

So I think in that way, in much of conflict resolution, which we are doing a great deal in Africa in terms of conflicts as well, you do need to understand what the parties are concerned about and the real things they are concerned about and get that. So any kind of dialogue should not be stopped in the process of this and I think that is a missing element in this equation.

LENNON: Let me ask Ambassador Abe to jump in. From your experience, do you get the sense that developing countries are more opposed to sanctions as an enforcement tool as part of a coercive diplomacy strategy? Do you believe that these new powers to the nonproliferation regime are more resistant to using sanctions for nonproliferation?

AMB. ABE: In one sentence, you may be right. (Laughter.) But let me talk a little more. In a wider sense, the sanctions sometimes worked but it is very difficult to determine whether it was the sanction that worked to bring the result. I think even though Dr. Minty mentioned South Rhodesia, I think one of the few cases when the U.N. sanctions worked was apartheid in South Africa and Rhodesia. The regimes have changed in essence, but he may say it was other forces that worked.

AMB. MINTY: It was. (Laughter).

LENNON: In a sentence.

AMB. ABE: In nonproliferation, Libya was a successful case when the sanctions in a way worked. There were long imposed sanctions by the West on the oil industry and the other parts. You can also make an argument that was not the major force that forced Libya to change their minds so it's very difficult. But I think there are cases, let me say.

But when some countries say sanctions don't work, therefore, they don't support it, that's sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy. We don't support sanctions so even though they're adopted, they don't cooperate. There are many leaky sanctions and therefore, sanctions don't work so it's a -- you're fulfilling your own theme.

LENNON: Graham, I'm going to give you the last word on this before we open it up.

ALLISON: I do this in my class on sanctions. I say three or four things about sanctions. First, sanctions are mostly gestures. I think Ambassador Minty got it exactly right. Sanctions are something that you can do when you can't do anything or don't want to do anything. That's number one. And I would say that's mostly in the history of the U.N.

Secondly, sanctions give people the illusion of action. So if you said, what are you doing about the problem of Iran? Well, there's nothing we can do. Who can say that, though? We're seeking sanctions. We're having sanctions, rather.

Number three, sanctions in a system in which there are multiple suppliers and in which all the potential suppliers are not part of the sanctions only promote the other parties.

I was talking to a businessman at Davos this year, a Chinese businessman, and he said he was strongly in favor of the sanctions that were being pursued in the U.N. And I said to him, why? I thought your government had a different view. He said, we call this trade promotion. (Laughter.) If you map the sanctions and you map Chinese trade with Iran, they're about the same.

And then fourthly, if we say how successful have the sanctions been, just what Minty said earlier, with respect to Iran, I think that the 4,000 centrifuges are spinning. When the sanctions started, there were zero. There's two bombs worth of LEU. When they started, there were zero. So I don't think extremely successful.

LENNON: With that, we're going to open it up to a dialogue with all of you. If I can ask folks just to wait for the microphone. There's at least four, two in the back and two in the front on either side. When we do call on you, if you could state your name and your affiliation and please keep your questions or comments brief to allow as many members as possible.

I saw Andrew, Barbara and in the middle and the back for the first three and we'll take them in groups as we go.

QUESTIONER: Andrew Pierre, Georgetown University. This has been a fantastic panel. And two of the members of the panel, Ambassadors Minty and Abe come -- have a terrific background in disarmament and nonproliferation, multilateral mechanisms and so on but you also each come from countries that made a decision not to develop nuclear weapons.

And I'd like to ask each of you if based upon the decision of South Africa and the decision early on of Japan, there are some lessons to be drawn in terms of political incentives, disincentives, general foreign policy considerations, the domestic issues in particular, domestic economic issues, technological issues.

From your experience nationally -- but also there are 15 or so countries around the world that have made similar decisions, and Japan, I think it's fair to say, is considered a country if it changed its decisions, could pretty quickly ladder up a military nuclear program, and there's some internal debate in Japan obviously about that.

So I'm interested in the interplay of national decision-making processes and the international type of process that you're discussing this morning. Thank you.

LENNON: Let's take two more. If you can hand the microphone to Barbara two rows behind you. Thank you.

QUESTIONER: Thanks. Barbara Slavin. I wanted just a little bit more on this Brazilian-Turkish deal and what you see as the possibilities within that deal, how to make this car a little bit more attractive, to use Graham Allison's analogy. Do you see a kind of good cop/bad cop role developing where the Obama administration pushes forward with the sanctions at the U.N. but there is still time in Vienna, perhaps, to negotiate something that approximates what they had in October perhaps is a little bit better? And do you think that the Iranian system will support this? There's already a lot of negative commentary coming out against the deal to Ahmadinejad's right, which is something that happened back in October. So I'd be interested in a little bit more your thoughts on how this process might work. Thank you.

LENNON: The third in the back there. Yes. You got it.

QUESTIONER: Thanks. Jeff Laurenti with the Century Foundation. Clearly the question of enforcement of these global regimes is crucial if you're going to get any of the big current nuclear holding weapon states to eventually move down that road to disarmament, so Iran is a hugely important test case.

I'm not sure I share Graham's skepticism about the total inefficacy of sanctions since they've worked in other places. But they seem to work overtime when other factors are also then beginning to accumulate pressures, often internally, on the government that was taking the decision so at odds with the international community.

So I wonder if Ambassadors Minty and Abe might speak to what they think is the timeline for internal pressures in Iran to coincide with the pressures of sanctions. And since it hasn't yet risen in this discussion, to what extent in terms of mobilizing international support for tightening the screws on this violations case is the U.S. continued failure to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty? Is there in any way some connection between U.S. commitment to disarmament manifested in CTBT and being able to round up supporters for nuclear enforcement?

LENNON: Would you like to start?

AMB. ABE: Yes. The Japanese decision on nuclear acquisition -- I think it will be very difficult in Japan to change its policy to acquire nuclear weapons because the sentiment in Japan is we're still very strong against nuclear weapons thanks to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki experience. Therefore, whenever any politician or any commentator in Japan talks, suggests about Japan changing policy to get nuclear weapons, he or she gets immediately sacked and becomes sort of far outside outlier. And so, in that environment it's very difficult to do so.

And also I think even if the government sometimes may change the policy to try to start a program, it's very difficult to get the cooperation of scientists and engineers in Japan. They are so much built in into this anti-nuclear mindset that I think a lot of scientists would reject working on that kind of project. So I think practically it is very difficult.

Then the Iran question, your colleague Joe Nye wrote a book about soft power. I went to one of his book signing occasions. He said, basically, in order to make a country in the world to do what they don't like to do but like to do what you want to do, first is to use the threat of military force. Second is bribe them, pay them. Third is to use soft power. That was his book.

But as I see the Iranian situation for the past several years, the military threat has not had sufficient credibility. The U.S. generals continue saying they don't like to go to war with Iran. There's rumors spreading all the time for the past several years that Israel may take action. It hasn't happened. So I think the people in Tehran think, oh, they're not coming. So that is not carrying the weight.

Second, bribing -- I think the kind of economic package that European three in cooperation with the U.S. offering is not big enough to make the people in Tehran change their mind. So unfortunately, it's not working either way.

And as things go on and the sanctions don't work, I think eventually Iran will get very close to the stage when they can get the nuclear weapons when they want to. I don't know if they have made the decision to get straight, rush straightforward to get the nuclear weapons or stop when they get very close.

LENNON: Graham.

ALLISON: I think on Andrew's question, I think most of us when we think about the nonproliferation regime failed to recognize the premise of the question which is how many states have had serious nuclear weapons ambitions and programs but stopped or actually turned back before they got to the destination. And by my count, it's about 14 or 15. The most dramatic is, of course, the case of South Africa which built nuclear weapons itself and which then eliminated nuclear weapons itself.

So I think trying to think about the lessons of those is an important part of trying to understand how in fact 40 countries that could have nuclear weapons very quickly, if they chose to do so, have chosen not to do so and what are the lessons here. So I think that's a good point to drill on.

Secondly, on Barbara's question which I think is a great question, at least this is -- this is just my personal views but I would say when are sanctions most effective? And I would say, in prospect because the people being sanctioned may imagine that they're worse than they are. In the same way I think when are military threats most effective? Before, not after, because they usually turn out to be less than advertised.

So I think it's quite possible that the combination of sanctions which may be advertised to be worse than they are, though, unfortunately, the Iranians have seen three previous rounds that didn't have all that much effect.

The diplomatic corps in Iran clearly doesn't like being sanctioned, but understandably, that's what diplomats do so that's their business. For the rest, they don't like being isolated, yes. They certainly like the attention that they've gotten from the two -- two amigos or whatever.

But I would say the combination of the threat of sanctions and then improving the deal, I would say watch that space.

LENNON: Ambassador Minty, let me draw you out on Jeff's question in particular as well as answering whichever ones you want to. As you know, there's a lot of skepticism in many corners in the United States about this linkage between the drawdown in the nuclear weapon stockpiles in the nuclear weapon states and the commitment of developing countries to abide by things like the additional protocol or enforcement mechanisms. Can you walk through from a developing country perspective how that linkage might work?

AMB. MINTY: Okay. Let me just say before that with regard to South Africa, you see, it was the apartheid regime that developed what I then wrote about as the apartheid bomb. And so when the apartheid was ended, they worked very hard to get rid of it because they didn't want President Mandela to have it. So let me -- just need to get things in perspective. There is a much bigger question about how many NPT members broke the NPT in helping South Africa, but I won't go into it now.

Now, the problem about it is, do nuclear weapons give you security? Now, the new Democratic government has concluded that nuclear weapons do not give security. They increase insecurity. Now, if that is the case, then those five and plus, the ones outside who have them have to seriously think about it because you cannot tell the rest of us, please don't smoke and you go on smoking. So if it secures you, others may say in a certain situation nuclear weapons may secure them.

So the best argument for nonproliferation is to give up weapons. And as I said at the nuclear summit in our discussion with Sherpas that we need to secure nuclear weapons. But the time when terrorists won't get their hands on it is when there won't be any. So we disagree that nuclear weapons are in the right hands and will get in the wrong hands. They are all in the wrong hands. So we should not have this approach that they are safe in the hands of someone. It's very dangerous thinking.

Now, with regard to Barbara's question, timing is often very important and no one I don't think will disclose from any of the countries involved in the parties that really this threat made us behave in this way. They all claim they did it for good intentions. So that's an open question.

However, the Iranian deal is likely to hold -- and I just say likely -- because two countries from the developing world have been involved in it. So for domestic political reasons, it's much easier for the government to say, we're partnering Brazil and Turkey and so on.

Now, here comes the issue of legitimacy. So you have to often say which are the partners that big powers will work with in order to solve issues? We are not a big power. We went to the '95 review conference with a plan for the indefinite extension when the entire nonaligned movement was against it, against it for very good reasons that if we had it indefinite, nuclear weapon states will never give up their nuclear weapons. They say so to us today, you made a mistake.

But we believe that it was very important to stop all countries from having nuclear weapons and if you had time-bound thing, in 20 years you'll review it, there will be some who'll look around and say, we don't know what will happen in 20 years. Let's leave an option to have nuclear weapons. We thought that was very dangerous.

So we jumped the divide and worked within groups and produced a consensus. We're not a big country. We did it because of our ideas and our approach. And as long as big countries also open themselves up to ideas then we can play a role.

The 2000 review conference, we got a decision by consensus. Again, we are part of a small eight-nation group called the New Agenda Coalition. The nuclear weapon states needed us to talk to them and reproduce that deal. So often one can overcome these things by getting other partners into the equation but legitimacy I think helps.

Now sanctions. Sanctions can induce a change in behavior. Yes, it can. But it can also -- the threat of sanctions sometimes can be more effective than the actual sanctions because you've called a bluff and you're now in a situation.

So I think it is a tool that you have to use very carefully and very scientifically but it is used totally politically because, obviously, it gives an answer to people who may be frustrated and so on.

Now this supreme question, and studies have been done by academics on it and they've interviewed me at length about it. Now, I've asked them what more would South Africa have to do on the nonproliferation side to demand that we will do more if you reduce your nuclear weapons? Nothing.

In our regulations -- we have all the regulations and we've just now confiscated some items from Korea and so on and countries ask us to publicize and we say, no. We're just doing our job implementing a Security Council decision.

By the way, when we were in the Security Council, we voted for all the sanction resolutions against Iran and they were all by consensus. So all the developing countries voted for it, so I think this thing about developing countries do not support sanctions, we have to look at the truth and see what has happened there.

Now, with the CTBT ratification and so on, I don't really think so. I think the demand for an ending of nuclear weapons is a concern that we've all done it. Please do it. The world is dangerous and we shouldn't. And the minute we recognize that there is a linkage, then we will recognize that we cannot make advances on nonproliferation as long as the big nuclear weapon states don't do their job.

So South Africa and the U.S. and the other nuclear weapon states, we have a very good dialogue on issues. We disagree on issues. But it doesn't mean we do less on nonproliferation.

Now where there is a divide, and this could be part of the debate which hasn't come up yet, is where countries want us to undermine the NPT and say, you are not entitled to enrich because you're a developing country. Then we say, oh, no, no. Please stop now because the NPT says you gave us the right for peaceful technology.

Now, in South Africa, we are looking at enrichment, not because we want to build a bomb but because we have a pebble bed reactor we're experimenting with. We have a lot of uranium. We have a policy of beneficiating our minerals. So why should we give ourselves up before we have looked at the economics of it and so on as to whether we can enrich for the reactor we are building and maybe sell it under IAEA safeguards? Why should we be deprived because Iran has misbehaved?

So I think President Obama's thing is those who play by the rules should not be denied their rights is a very important provisory to retain. And there shouldn't be the understanding that because one country has gone a certain way that all developing countries are the same and therefore you do it. If you do that, you lose the legitimacy. And I think -- (inaudible) -- was at 25 to 30 nuclear weapon states. Well we don't have them, so that's a benefit.

Japan is in a difficult area. It doesn't have nuclear weapons but it has a nuclear umbrella. Now, if it didn't have the nuclear umbrella, it has a problem with Korea. So I think we need to recognize that that countries that don't have nuclear weapons are not all without the nuclear weapon umbrella and therefore, nuclear weapons are in that sense in the region. And I think that applies to NATO and so on. So we have to reduce those areas too by increasing security.

LENNON: Let's open it back up to -- two questions in the middle there and then one in the front. Let me take those in turn.

QUESTIONER: Scott Thompson from the Fletcher School, resident in Bali. Just a quick comment on sanctions, and that is I think there's only one case in history where it was 100 percent successful purely because of the sanctions. And it was Uganda in the '70s, which has only one export which is third-rate coffee beans, and there's only one country that imports third-rate coffee beans, and that's the United States, which we all know. So when we cut off the purchase of Ugandan coffee beans, it immediately fell. They had no money.

My question though is -- Ambassador Minty made a comment about feeling comfortable about the world nuclear regimes. I feel a little bit that we're talking on this subject, talking about Iran, Pakistan, et cetera, et cetera. There's been no mention with respect to nuclear weapons of the country that is overwhelmingly the largest holder of nuclear weapons and that has not signed the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty and that's often the case in these discussions in the United States, not in Europe.

And I'm wondering if you have any comment on whether some countries might feel more comfortable about the world if we actually discuss, as you say, let's talk about that one country that we seem to be self-censuring ourselves on.

LENNON: Including the question.

QUESTIONER: Rob Kortel (sp) with Intelex. It just strikes me that this is a game of crocodile tears a lot of the time, and I say that despite being involved in counter-proliferation from a technology side. You know, the U.S. turns a blind eye to Israel essentially. Russia and France turn a blind eye to their clients or semi-clients. So when Ambassador Minty says there are 40 countries, despite the fact that I'm involved in this, I don't know who they are. So we have 4,000 centrifuges being sold to Iran and other components.

So who are they? Is it undiplomatic? I mean, are these the names that can't be named? Is it France, Russia, Germany, who? I think we should be talking specifics.

LENNON: And then here in the front.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. My name is Yahya al-Shawkani from the Yemen Embassy. What do you see are some important differences between the agreement reached with North Korea and the agreement reached with Iran?

LENNON: Which agreement with North Korea?

QUESTIONER: For the nuclear activity in North Korea.

LENNON: Graham, do you want to start this round.

ALLISON: I like the sanctions on Uganda and I take that case. I think that's an interesting one. So if a party has a single export and if there's a single importer and that importer's prepared to act and there's no natural substitute, I'd say that's a good one.

And I like also the proposition that if you were designing sanctions, scientifically or almost scientifically, at least artfully and carefully, you would look at the coordination between what's going on in the internal politics of a place and what's going on externally. And there, in the Iranian instance, to go back to an earlier question, nobody seems to be able to figure out so even Ahmadinejad is getting outflanked by people who otherwise would be strongly in favor of the agreements that he had reached.

In the case of the unnamed state, I think that there's actually maybe one of the people living in New York who will have something more to say about it, but my impression is that events are moving towards what would be at least a one-off international conference to talk about the '95 agreement or agreement to discuss a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East which would bring up the Israel issue straight to the center.

And I think that for the purposes of analytic conversation, while I can understand Israel's posture of ambiguity or of at least asserted ambiguity, but I'd say for analytic purposes that makes no sense to leave that actor off of the table. And I think if one listens especially to the Egyptians, they use that as one of the key arguments for not, for example, doing the additional protocol which seems to be me to be wrong but in any case, that's an excuse.

On the question of the differences between the Iranian case and the North Korean case, if I understood the question, if you take the '94 agreement, if that's the one that was in mind, that agreement throws Iran's -- excuse me -- North Korea's production of fissile material which is the stuff of bombs and successfully did so.

So from 1994 to 2003 when Yongbyon was turned back on, basically North Korea was, quote, "bribed," or induced, or compensated, but in any case, the product was no additional production of bomb usable material and the actions were supply of fuel, supply of food and construction of a light water reactor that was never -- maybe never would have been completed but in any case was certainly being rolled slowly.

In the Iranian case, I think the analogy is a good one because if there's ultimately going to be a package for Iran, it's going to have to include a lot of carrots as well as a lot of sticks.

Now, I think our imagination has been stunted a little bit or another way to say is that the trade, if it occurs, will just be the opening gambit in what then will have to be a more comprehensive set of negotiations that if they were able to get Iran to stop enriching, at least until it overcomes its deficit of confidence, will require a lot of inducement.

AMB. MINTY: I'll just go on the Uganda because I think your history is not correct. I worked a lot in exile with Tanzania and President Nyerere. It was the Tanzanian government that invaded Uganda, removed Idi Amin so coffee didn't come back -- (inaudible).

It happened, and this is important, is that although Idi Amin was attacking African countries and invading them, Tanzania in particular. We even had a situation where major donor countries to Tanzania said, if your troops had used a tin of sardines from any of the Nordic countries, the Nordic countries will stop all aid because they didn't want the Tanzania military to have any food in the invasion of Uganda.

I was at the commonwealth summit in Singapore, 1971, when President Obote was removed and Idi Amin got into power. And at that time, one major Western leader threatened a neighboring country, Zambia, and said, if President Kaunda becomes as loud mouthed as Obote was, he may find himself in the same situation. A British TV program produced a program which said how a general stole a nation.

So Idi Amin seems to have been supported by some countries to take over the government undemocratically and was given, I know, by Britain 10 million aid immediately without recognition. And later, when he turned out to be someone unacceptable, then other things happened.

So it wasn't all a clean slate of a dictatorship that everyone opposed from the beginning. And I say Tanzania paid a very, very heavy price for invading Uganda and removing Idi Amin and placing another system in place for election and so on.

Now, sanctions also can sometimes increase the resolve of the country targeted and the group around them. That's why I was talking of the scientific thing because then you could have pluses and gains. You gain on this, you lose on this, what do you get? And when you withdraw sanctions, what is the process that will take place to resolve that conflict?

So it is a blunt weapon, as many say. If you want to induce behavior, you have to say what is your target and say it. If you just say pressure, then you see what it means is that if that country does give in, it is humiliated because it has to say, I was pressured and I gave in. I'm surrendering. That's almost like a defeat in military terms.

So that's why I say it needs a lot of scientific thought if you're going to be effective because you need to get a win-win situation, not a humiliated country and a victor because then the other issues that remain will not be resolved and they do need, I think, absolute attention.

The additional protocol in the case of Egypt and also some other chemical agreements, there is a factor where those countries want Israel to sign the NPT before they do. So it's some kind of reciprocity that they are engaging in. So it's not for me to say whether they should do it or they shouldn't do it because they're sovereign states making up their own mind.

But I think what we should decide is, is Egypt not signing the additional protocol a nuclear danger? Now, that would depend on its nuclear technology and so on and whether it's exporting or not.

With regard to Israel, it's an extremely difficult issue because, as you say, politically there's a lot of sensitivity about even mentioning the country. At the moment of the NPT review meeting, there are secret talks going on but it's a secret that we know about so it's not a secret, but what is not known is what is being discussed, between the Arab group and the five nuclear weapon states. And I've said to colleagues in the corridors, good. Let's keep them like that and lock them in the room because the conference should not finish until that pressure has built up.

Because, you see, essentially, if the Arab group and the five nuclear weapon states can agree to a formula, then the rest of us will have no quarrel. But if you throw it up to just under 200 countries, then a whole lot of people can come with their ideas and you may not get the mix and the honest discussion and frank discussion that's taken place. So I hope very much that will happen.

Now, there may be problems, some say in the corridors that they may not be able to mention that Israel will come to the meeting and do this so they will have some kind of regional conference without talking about the parties. I don't mind whatever formula they work out as long as there's an understanding between those two parties that this is what we mean and these are the step by step procedures.

And I think the entire conference will be quite happy to leave it to that group if that group takes on the responsibility and says, we will address it, because let's remember that whatever you want to do in terms of a security conference, you cannot do it divorced from the peace process so the atmosphere is important. And since same, the same parties are involved in the peace process, we could leave them to do that if that is an agreement that the conference can come to at the end of this month.

LENNON: Ambassador Abe, I think we're going to give you the last word, especially if I can draw you on North Korea lessons learned for Iran.

AMB. ABE: Well, North Korea, we had the 1992 agreement to denuclearize the entire peninsula. In '94 agreed to the framework agreement, then in 2005 joint declaration to dismantle nuclear program. Every one collapsed and then nothing is working.

But let me tell you that's not the end of the world. You may still have an option two, or option B, in which you work on deterrence and defense. That's what Japan is looking on. So that's what I suspect Israel eventually may end up with. They have to think about defending and deterring Iran rather than stopping them.

A lesson learned from the North Korean case I think it's an important lesson. Partial deal doesn't make sense. The '94 deal made reprocessing, plutonium production stopped as far as that specific facility is concerned. But then, clandestinely they started working on enrichment. There are two materials to produce bombs and stopping only one doesn't make sense.

And also, I think if they ever succeed to make any deal with the Iranians, it is important that they put the cap on both of them. Not only that, you also use heavy water to make thermal warheads. You also use a bomb design. You also need to have polonium or something as an initiator. So those things have to be -- better be covered.

And currently, the IAEA, for example, does not have a capacity to go after bomb design. It is only to have the competence to go after special material, they say. That's basically uranium and plutonium, very limited inspection capacity. And in future time, they may have to expand it.

LENNON: We're good? Okay. I want to remind everyone that this session was on the record. I think the conclusion may be that nonproliferation is global but politics is either national or local. I'll let you to sit on that.

I did mention at the beginning that I was looking forward to this discussion because of not just the expertise on the panel but the diversity of expertise, and I think you'll agree that they delivered with a vengeance on this one.

So if you'll join me in helping thank the speakers for joining us. (Applause.)

You have a five-minute break before Deputy Secretary Steinberg speaks. Thank you.

(Panel break.)

More on This Topic


Global Security Institutions: The Nonproliferation Regime

Speakers: Nobuyasu Abe, Graham T. Allison, and Abdul S. Minty
Presider: Alexander T.J. Lennon

A panel of experts debate the future of the nonproliferation regime as a global security institution.

This session is part of a Council on...