US State Department, The United States sees good progress being made in the development and implementation of a comprehensive approach to counter the full range of major weapons threats, according to the State Department's chief security and arms control official.
“The National Strategy to Combat Weapons Of Mass Destruction (WMD) is the first of its kind — a broad, truly national strategy uniting all the elements of diplomacy, intelligence and power needed to counter WMD,” said Robert Joseph, under secretary of state for international security and arms control.
Moreover, he said, that strategy “continues to provide a guide to action against this paramount threat” because it is “flexible and dynamic, suited to the changing nature of the proliferation threat.”
Joseph made the remarks at a conference hosted by the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Washington October 21.
The three pillars of the counter-WMD strategy are prevention, protection and consequence management, Joseph said. Prevention is self-explanatory, involving efforts to keep WMD and related materials and delivery systems from terrorists or rogue states.
Protection refers to counterproliferation, he said, with capabilities to “deter, detect, defend against, and defeat WMD” already possessed by terrorists or rogue states. Consequence management means reducing as much or as many consequences of WMD attacks at home or abroad as possible.
Working from this strategic framework, then, the United States has used diplomacy to combat WMD proliferation in several ways:
– Nunn-Lugar Programs, now funded at record-high levels, provide U.S. assistance mainly to states of the former Soviet Union to eliminate nuclear weapons and prevent their proliferation.
– Global Threat Reduction Initiative reduces fissile and radioactive material worldwide.
– G8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction to persuade America's partners to contribute to the effort against a global threat to the international community.
– Second Line of Defense and Megaports programs to install radiation detection capability at major seaports, airports and border crossings.
– Redirection programs in Libya and Iraq to provide other employment for former weapons scientists and engineers.
– Passage of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1540 to require all states to criminalize WMD proliferation, institute effective export controls and enhance security for nuclear materials.
– Increasing the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) safeguards budget to allow the agency to detect, and respond to, nuclear proliferation.
– Submitting the IAEA Additional Protocol to the U.S. Senate for ratification, and calling for universal adoption of the Additional Protocol, as well as for creation of a new committee of the IAEA board to examine ways to strengthen its safeguards and verification capabilities.
– Proposing that the ability to enrich uranium and separate plutonium be limited to those states that already operate such facilities, and that the world's nuclear fuel suppliers assure supply to states that forego enrichment and reprocessing in order to rectify the greatest weakness in the nuclear nonproliferation system, which is the ability of states to pursue nuclear weapons under the cover of peaceful energy programs.
– Creating the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) to enable countries to use national diplomatic, military, law enforcement and intelligence assets to work in a multinational, yet flexible, fashion to apply existing national laws and international conventions to work multilaterally to disrupt proliferation networks, and to hold accountable the front companies that support them; and
– Withdrawing from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty to develop missile defenses capable of intercepting and destroying a limited number of ballistic missiles from terrorists or rogue states.
This comprehensive approach to WMD proliferation has paid important dividends, Joseph said. He pointed specifically to the exposure and breakup of the nuclear proliferation commercial network built and operated by Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan, as well as Libya's decision to give up its WMD programs and materials as examples of success.
Joseph said he sees three current challenges for counter-WMD efforts. The first, he said, is to end the nuclear weapons programs of North Korea and Iran. “There should be no doubt that both countries have such programs,” he added.
The second challenge is to stop proliferation trade, whether by rogue states, individuals or groups, and to ensure that it does not re-start, Joseph said. Third, he sees a need to keep terrorists from acquiring and using WMD – especially biological and nuclear weapons.
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