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25 Living with the Bomb* Gary Samore Gary Samore is Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair of the Council on Foreign Relations. Prior to this he was Vice President for Global Security and Sustainability at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Senior Director for Nonproliferation and Export Controls at the National Security Council. He is available at . * This essay is a revised version of a paper presented at the “Asian Proliferation 2015: North Korea, Iran, and Consequences for the Global Nonproliferation Regime” workshop, sponsored by The National Bureau of Asian Research, Washington, D.C., December 14, 2006. [This page intentionally left blank.] 27 samore The Proliferation Scenario The Year is 2015… S ince the end of the Bush administration in 2008 efforts to disarm North Korea have failed. Despite the February 2007 six-party agreement, which shut down North Korea’s plutonium production facilities, Pyongyang has refused to take additional steps to disable North Korea’s nuclear facilities or to relinquish its existing stocks of fissile materials and weapons. North Korea is now thought to be capable of delivering a first generation nuclear warhead on its Nodong intermediate range missile. Experts estimate that North Korea has produced enough plutonium for around two dozen nuclear weapons and is nearing completion of a 50-megawatt reactor, which is theoretically capable of producing annually enough plutonium for nearly a dozen nuclear weapons. North Korea also continues to develop its long-range Taepodong missile, which will eventually be able to threaten targets in the United States. In the Middle East, efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons have also collapsed. After the UN Security Council failed to impose serious sanctions, Israel took matters into its own hands, bombing key Iranian nuclear facilities in January 2009, in the final days of the Bush administration. In response, Tehran withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and evicted International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors, citing Iran’s need to develop an “independent” defense capability and vowing to rebuild its nuclear program without international monitoring. In the last few years, rumors and intelligence reports indicate that Iran has rebuilt its enrichment facilities at a secret, undisclosed location and has begun to produce highly enriched uranium for weapons. For its part, Tehran has announced that “it will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons in the Middle East.” Tehran has also continued to develop its Shahab-3 intermediate range missile and has launched a new program to build a “peaceful” space launch vehicle. Assuming this gloomy scenario—that both North Korea and Iran are nucleararmed states by 2015—consider the following questions: 1. To curb the further spread of nuclear weapons beyond North Korea and Iran, what might an effective global regime outside the NPT framework look like? 2. How might North Korean and Iranian nuclear capabilities impact the nuclear weapons programs, policies, and doctrines of Asia’s nuclear weapon states (Russia, China, India, and Pakistan) and the United States? 3. How might these states (i.e., the Asian nuclear powers and the United States) respond to reduce the threat posed by North Korea and Iran? nbr analysis 28 What Might an Effective Global Regime Outside the NPT Framework Look Like? The legal weaknesses and limitations of the NPT regime are well known. Some of these shortcomings have been vividly illustrated by the cases of North Korea and Iran. While in violation of its IAEA safeguards under the NPT, North Korea invoked its “rights” under Article X of the NPT to withdraw from the treaty with impunity, thereby ending its obligations to accept international inspections of North Korea’s nuclear facilities and renouncing the regime’s commitment not to develop nuclear weapons. For its part, Iran is exploiting its “rights” under Article IV to develop a nuclear weapons capability under the guise of a peaceful nuclear program. In both cases, limits on the inspection capabilities and authorities of the IAEA (even under the Additional Protocol) have made it more difficult for the Agency to detect clandestine nuclear activities. In addition, a number of non–nuclear weapon states have complained that the nuclear weapon states have failed to carry out their obligations under Article VI of the NPT to move toward nuclear disarmament. The most important weakness in the global regime revealed by North Korea and Iran is not legal shortcomings in the treaty, however, but rather a lack of political will among the big powers (specifically, the five permanent members...


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