While North Korea's return to six-party talks dominates today's proliferation press, another important development in America's counter-proliferation strategy is wrapping up today.
The Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT), a US-Russian led program launched in 2005, is finishing a two-day summit in Rabat, Morocco.
Morocco officially joined the 12 other members of the soon-to-be enacted program, becoming the first predominantly Arab nation to join the GICNT.
The Washington Post reports on the event:
Joseph [U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control] also said that participant states should work together to deny terrorists access to nuclear or radioactive materials, prevent nuclear terrorism, and respond in case of a nuclear attack by terrorists.
After this meeting, he said, we would expand the number of countries willing to endorse the initiative's principles and carry out necessary preventative measures and proactive actions, including enacting or changing relevant laws to prosecute nuclear terrorists.
Joseph also said that the project would be modeled on the three-year-old Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) that began with a small group of partners and now is backed by 80 countries who want to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
PSI and GICNT represent the Bush administration's attempts to address the problems nuclear proliferation and terrorism.
Instead of working on the international level, starting at the Non-Proliferation Treaty or the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), PSI and GICNT represent a hegemonic approach to arms-control: with the US and Russia unveiling programs and then pushing for greater membership.
Such an approach limits dissent (from countries like India, Pakistan, Israel or Iran), but can prove difficult to administer without board international support.
As such PSI has a mixed record: rapidly gaining members, but still having to define its enforcement authority.
PINR analyst Dr. Harsh V. Pant contended his in piece, ''The Demise of the Global Arms Control Regime'', that arms-control agreements work best when seen as mutually beneficial-- not attempts by major states to hem in other states.
For long, major powers have deftly used various arms control provisions to constrain the strategic autonomy of other states in the international system. India's nuclear tests were the first direct challenge to the great powers and the result has been a complete overhaul of the international security environment. The demise of the international arms control regime is a small part of that overhaul.
India has always been dissatisfied with the global non-proliferation and arms control regime because it constrained its autonomy to make foreign policy decisions as dictated by national interests. It argued that an inequitable regime that gave only a few countries the permanent right to nuclear weapons and denied others this right was inherently unstable. It is this fundamental instability that has come to haunt the global nuclear order today.
A new global security architecture is needed if there is to be an attempt to tackle the emerging problem of proliferation and terrorism since the old security structure has largely failed.
PSI and GICNT show great importance of quiet diplomacy in securing international security. While the Bush administration's regime-change approach may cause headaches for years to come, ensuring these programs are capable and effective by the administration's end would be a valiant and much-needed service to the American public.
The challenge for the Bush administration will be to make these programs durable, able to bring short-term and long-term protections from the proliferation or nuclear materials and weapons.
Middle East News Online, Canada
"This is designed to build a partnership of countries that are committed to countering nuclear terrorism." U.S. Undersecretary of State Robert Joseph said. "We do know that nonstate actors -- terrorists -- are very interested in acquiring this type of capability and would not hesitate to use it."
The meeting stemmed from a G8 summit in July 2006 that established a framework to prevent nuclear insurgency strikes. Officials said the summit in Rabat discussed security improvements at civilian nuclear facilities, investigations of suspected nuclear smuggling and enhancement of accounting procedures for nuclear and radioactive substances.
Other Links of Note:
“13 Nations Meet on Nuclear Containment.” John Throne, Associated Press.
State Department Press Release. October 26th, 2006.
“Persian Gulf exercise, Morocco meeting advance U.S.-initiated anti-proliferation project.” Herald International Tribune, Associated Press.
Biography: Robert Joseph, Under Secretary on Arms Control. Right Web. (Views presented are not endorsed by Proliferation Press)
“S. Korea's fear of clash with North is absurd.” The Jerusalem Post. Associated Press.