February 09, 2004

Nuclear Counterproliferation

Graham Allison sketches out the "three no's":

"The centerpiece of a serious campaign to prevent nuclear terrorism -- a strategy based on the three no's (no loose nukes, no new nascent nukes, and no new nuclear weapons states) -- should be denying terrorists access to weapons and their components. After all, no nuclear weapons or material means no nuclear terrorism; it's that simple."

Read the whole thing.

Here's a key snippet on Iran:

"Iran will be a decisive test of this strand of the new strategy. The administration has declared that the United States "will not tolerate the construction of a nuclear weapon" by Iran and has elicited similar threats from its allies. American assertiveness has galvanized the IAEA to demand that Iran prove a full account of past and present nuclear activity. Unless Iran complies, the IAEA will refer the case to the UN Security Council.

Note the differences between the administration's current approach and the "no new nascent nukes" approach proposed. The administration has named Iran a member of the "axis of evil" and threatened it with regime change. It has tried to persuade Russia to halt construction of Iran's Bushehr light-water nuclear power plant. And it has accepted verbal declarations of support from Iran's trading partners in Europe. The proposed strategy, in contrast, would focus on one objective only: denying Iran material from which nuclear weapons can be made. This would mean preventing Iranian enrichment of uranium or reprocessing of spent fuel to produce plutonium. With Russian President Vladimir Putin as his partner, Bush would remind Iran that in signing the NPT, it forswore nuclear weapons, and he would demand that Iran verifiably dismantle any emerging capability for enrichment or reprocessing.

To win Moscow's support, Washington should accept Russian completion of the Bushehr reactor, confirm Russia's role as fuel supplier to the reactor, initiate joint Russian-American research on new proliferation-resistant nuclear power plants, and agree that Russia become the secure depository for international spent fuel. Fuel supplied at favorable prices to Bushehr would be owned and managed by Russia and withdrawn at the end of the fuel cycle. (Russia's minister of atomic energy has even expressed a readiness to form a joint U.S.-Russian venture to supply this fuel.) To force Iran's hand, the United States and Russia would show Tehran that they are ready to do whatever is necessary to prevent it from acquiring the ability to produce its own fissile material."

This strikes me as a better approach than bumbling about thus.

Posted by Gregory at February 9, 2004 01:45 AM
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