Strengthening the Non-Proliferation Regime
While its primary focus is on military operations to seize, disable, or destroy adversary nuclear, biological or chemical weapons and missile assets if necessary, counterproliferation was established to support traditional nonproliferation efforts such as diplomacy, arms control, export controls, and intelligence collection and analysis. The Bush administration had relegated non-proliferation diplomacy to a secondary role, preferring to wait until threats emerge and deal with them on a military basis. However, U.S. security can be enhanced if potential threats can be reduced in number and restricted in potency by an aggressive policy of enforcing current treaties and building the non-proliferation regime. This regime should be strengthened to eliminate the threats posed by nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) weapons before they emerge. Global non-proliferation activities can be strengthened through a combination of U.S. policy changes and multilateral non-proliferation initiatives led by the United States.
U.S. policy should be aimed at preventing the spread and use of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons before counterproliferation becomes necessary. The political and military salience of nuclear weapons will need to be drastically reduced to make this leadership for a safer world possible.
Reducing the Importance of Nuclear Weapons
Measures that could be taken by the United States include:
- Renouncing the first use of nuclear weapons;
- Renouncing the use of nuclear weapons against chemical and biological weapons: nuclear retaliation gives states possessing chemical and biological weapons an incentive to acquire nuclear weapons as well, because the punishment is the same for both types of proliferation;
- Ending nuclear sharing programs with NATO allies that create six de facto nuclear states in breach of the spirit if not the letter of the NPT;
- Abandoning research and development of new nuclear weapons: the U.S. is bound to do so under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and should act as a role model for other nations in this regard;
- Ensuring that counterproliferation policy is compatible with the goals of non-proliferation: non-proliferation takes precedence over counterproliferation military attacks, and such attacks should only utilize conventional weapons.
This agenda would show the world that the United States is serious about enforcing the Non-Proliferation Treaty and other non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament agreements.
Multilateral Non-Proliferation Initiatives
In addition to these unilateral measures, the United States should lead the world in a new wave of non-proliferation agreements. The U.S. has a unique position, as the sole global supeprpower, to change the bleak atmosphere at the UN Conference on Disarmament and in the review processes of treaties like the NPT and the BWC by announcing and building support for initiatives to enhance those regimes. Proposals could include:
Inhibiting the development of new generations of nuclear weapons
- Ratify and implement the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), putting diplomatic pressure on others to sign and ratify it.
- Enhance global controls on fissile materials: quickly negotiate and adopt the Fissile Materials Control Treaty (FMCT), increase security for stocks of fissile materials already existing, and gradually transfer them to civilian control under IAEA safeguards.
Reducing the availability of nuclear materials
- Strengthen and expand the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program and other non-proliferation programs by increasing their funding. Since 1991, CTR has disassembled thousands of strategic nuclear weapons, hundreds of missiles, dozens of nuclear submarines, and tons of fissile materials in the former Soviet states with an overall expenditure of less than 2% of the 2003 defense budget alone.
- Use the CTR program as a model for establishing non-proliferation programs in other regions of concern.
Promoting disarmament of the largest arsenals and more effective verification
- Negotiate deep cuts in strategic weapons and eliminate tactical nuclear weapons altogether by improving and building upon the Strategic Offensive Reductions (SORT) Treaty, allowing the entry of other nations into disarmament initiatives, and revitalizing the Conference on Disarmament.
- Strengthen the non-proliferation role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) by providing it with more power and resources, including U.S. intelligence support.
Reducing the threat from chemical and biological weapons
- Pursue non-proliferation response to biological and chemical weapons terrorism by drastically strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and creating stronger verification procedures for the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
As the European Union has recognized in their new strategy to combat weapons of mass destruction, there is a role for coercive measures in preventing the proliferation and use of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. These measures could include the use of force under the auspices of the UN Security Council if all else fails. But, such military action should only be used as a last resort to counter proliferation. Because of this, global non-proliferation efforts play a major role in preventing conflict and the havoc wreaked by WMD use. By strengthening the non-proliferation regime as detailed above, the United States will greatly enhance its efforts to counter WMD proliferation and ensure U.S. security and international stability for the long-term.