Thursday, November 02, 2006

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

Well, last time's empty fun fact was an artistic statement (or something), but supplying your own fun fact was a good idea too. This week's fun fact: the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). You can read more about it on good old Wikipedia here. Other topics of interest are the Agreed Framework and NATO.

First Pillar: non-proliferation

“Five states are permitted by the NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty] to own nuclear weapons”—namely, France, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Why? Because they were “the only states possessing such weapons at the time the treaty was opened to signature.”

Second Pillar: disarmament

According to Article 6 of the Treaty, “The states undertake to negotiate toward general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

NWS parties have a formal obligation to “pursue plans to reduce and liquidate their stockpiles”—a formal obligation, that is, which “has never been adhered to by the NPT-recognized nuclear weapons states…. The failure of the NPT-recognized nuclear weapons states to comply with their disarmament obligations, and the unconditional indefinite extension of the NPT, has left a simmering discontent among many signatories of the NPT, and a justification for the non-signatories to develop their own nuclear arsenals.”

Third Pillar: the right to peacefully use nuclear technology

The NPT “gives every state the inalienable right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes,” such as light water reactor nuclear power.
Now, here are some fun facts on NATO nuclear weapons sharing:
  • “At the time the treaty was being negotiated, NATO had in place secret nuclear weapons sharing agreements whereby the United States provided nuclear weapons to be deployed by, and stored in, other NATO states.”

  • “As of 2005, it is estimated that the United States still provides between 180 and 480 tactical B61 nuclear bombs for use by Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey under these NATO agreements.”
Well, so much for nonproliferation. “Under NATO convention, in the event of a declaration of war, these nuclear weapons cease to be subject to [the NPT] treaty. Such a declaration my occur quickly, and in secret; in effect, the NATO nations will become instantaneous overseas bases for deployment and usage of U.S. nuclear weapons. Many would argue that this situation violates the spirit of the treaty, and perhaps even the written rule.”
In Iran:
  • Iran has a uranium enrichment program, which is “a step towards a civilian nuclear energy program, which is allowed under the terms of the NPT”—that good old unalienable right. “However, the United States and the European Union accuse Iran of using this program to help covertly develop nuclear weapons, in violation of the NPT. Iran remains under investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has found no evidence of a nuclear weapons program.”
Now, as for North Korea:
  • North Korean Foreign Ministry statement: “We had already taken the resolute action of pulling out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and have manufactured nuclear arms for self-defence to cope with the Bush administration’s evermore undisguised policy to isolate and stifle the DPRK.”

  • Terms of the Agreed Framework (signed in 1994) include:
    • North Korea’s obligations: shutdown of the Yongbyon nuclear reactor; abandoning construction of two larger nuclear power plants; placing of spent fuel under IAEA controls.
    • What they get in return: two light water reactors to be constructed by 2003, primarily supplied by Japan and South Korea.
    • Soon after, the US came under the administration of the Republicans, who—although they didn’t support the agreement—“agreed to phase out economic sanctions that had been in place since the Korean War.”
The US didn’t deliver on this though, and by 1999 “North Korea warned that they would resume nuclear research unless the US kept up its end of the bargain.” North Korea withdrew from the NPT in 2003.

Here’s a breakdown of the opinions at the 2005 Review Conference of the NPT (happens every 5 years):
  • United States: “wanted the conference to focus on proliferation, especially on its allegations against Iran”
  • Most other countries: “emphasized the serious nuclear disarmament by the nuclear powers”
I don’t believe anybody should have nuclear weapons, but if you’re someone like Iran and the US is trying to stop your nuclear energy program, when the US itself is probably the most nuclear state there is—and quite obviously has no plans for disarmament—then how can you help being angry? Or say you’re North Korea and you were promised some light water reactors (for civilian nuclear energy), and then never got them? Nobody likes a Global Police, or Big Brother, or whatever you call it.


Blake said...

wow, the nuclear weapons thing really has you up in arms.


Lapsura said...

You're not allowed to make any more puns. It's getting...unreasonable.

Blake said...

I scored a goal in soccer tonight. I get to make all the puns I want. :p

Anonymous said...

You should post a link to this fun fact in that thread on strangequarks.