Last week, US officials began talks in Moscow regarding Russia’s violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. The agreement bans the testing or deployment of intermediate range cruise and ballistic missiles, those with a range between 500km and 5500 km. In its annual 2014 arms control Compliance Report, the Department of State noted that Russia had violated the pact when it deployed a ground-launched cruise missile, whose unique Iskandar system can fire both cruise and ballistic missiles and a system Russia plans to deploy to Crimea. This cruise missile is not a new development; it was first tested in 2007 and has been deployed in the banned ground-launched configuration since 2009. Nor is it Russia’s only INF violation. Moscow also has converted a single-warhead ICBM into a three-warhead intermediate-range ballistic missile, a violation missing from the 2014 Compliance Report. » More
The United Nations Special Commission and the Iraq Action Team
The UN Security Council first took the initiative to create its own verification disarmament unit under the provisions of Resolution 687, adopted after the Kuwait war in 1991. At that time, the UN Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) became the first subsidiary organ of the Security Council, and was tasked with supervising the removal and destruction of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD)—including its chemical, biological and missile capabilities—and relevant delivery systems, and with measures to prevent their reconstitution.
The Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (DGIAEA)—as opposed to the IAEA secretariat itself, with its institutional structures and decision-making bodies—had been given responsibility for the nuclear-related tasks. In order to fulfil his obligations, the Director General set up the Iraq Action Team, which was also independent of the IAEA’s formal structures, including the Department of Safeguards.
The Iraq Action Team had a two-fold mandate in Iraq: to remove and destroy nuclear-related material and equipment; and to manage an ongoing monitoring and verification programme. It reported the results of its technical analyses to the DGIAEA, who in turn reported the findings to the UN Security Council. » More
Because they raise the costs of war to almost unbearable levels, neo-realists have argued that nuclear weapons exert a stabilizing influence on the conduct of international relations. In practice, however, nuclear proliferation remains one of the major threats to international peace and security today. Specifically in the Middle East, one of the most heavily militarized regions in the world, the fear of a nuclear arms race has persisted for quite some time. Only last week, the United States and other Western governments have stepped up the pressure on Iran after the latest IAEA report on its allegedly peaceful nuclear activities. » More
New York. The 2010 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is underway at the UN Headquarters. Hundreds of representatives from states, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations have come together on the banks of the East River to discuss the regime that governs the containment of nuclear weapons on the one hand and the promotion of civil nuclear energy on the other hand.
Zurich. The International Relations and Security Network (ISN) presents hundreds of news articles, policy briefs, scholarly publications, weblinks and primary resources on the NPT and related topics. A few highlights:
- In “Cost of War: NPT Enmity” Shaun Waterman comments for ISN Security Watch on the showdown between Iran and the US and the long-term impact of the review conference.
- In the ISN Special Issue newsletter from March 2010, David Cliff asks whether the elimination of nuclear weapons is desirable, achievable and sustainable.
- “Nuclear Dangers“, an ISN Special Report from April 2009, examines two pressing perils standing in the way of a nuclear-free world: acquisition of nuclear weapons by emerging powers and smuggling of nuclear material out of former Soviet states.
- “Reviewing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty“, a new book by the Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army War College (SSI), an ISN partner, clarifies the NPT’s ambiguities by following its structure article by article.
- “NPT Briefing Books” published by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), another ISN partner, offer comprehensive background and reference material on the NPT and its associated regime. » More
- Oliver Thränert analyzes the main issues to be discussed at the May 2010 Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). According to him, the challenges of the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs make it difficult to achieve agreement. He also point out to the discord among state parties over whether to
prioritize non-proliferation or disarmament.
- Stephen Aris examines the role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Central Asia. He argues that it is not as anti-western as you would think. Taking into account the growing importance of the SCO to the region, he writes, the West should not exclude a priori the idea of selective cooperation with the SCO on common security interests.