Pugwash Meeting No. 244
Nuclear Proliferation and Security in the Pacific Rim
21-23 January 1999, Hilo, Hawaii
Report by Jeffrey Boutwell
THE Pugwash Workshop on Nuclear Proliferation and Security in the Pacific Rim was organized by the US Pugwash Group and included 21 participants from eight countries. US Pugwash gratefully acknowledges the support of the Cyrus Eaton Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Steve Miller, co-chair of US Pugwash, welcomed the group, while Paolo Cotta-Ramusino chaired the opening session, which focused on the nuclear weapons deployments and strategy of the US, Russia, and China in the Asia/Pacific region.
Nuclear Strategies of the US, Russia and China
THE workshop began with an overview of US nuclear strategy in the Pacific, focusing in particular on the following components. These include:
- Nuclear threats. US policy based on the belief of a continuing residual Russian threat, still partly based in the Pacific, and the potential represented by a modernizing Chinese capability;
- Nuclear proliferation, including the immediate and worrisome issue of North Korea obtaining nuclear weapons and the longer-term implications of a possible domino effect in Northeast Asia if North Korea does go nuclear; there is also the related issue of the evolution of civilian nuclear power in the region (particularly vis-a-vis the plutonium fuel cycle);
- American nuclear commitments to Japan and South Korea (and perhaps implicitly to Taiwan), with the result that deterrence remains firmly embedded in US military strategy;
- Nuclear deployments and targeting: Eight Ohio class SLBM submarines based in the state of Washington are likely to remain a permanent feature of the north Pacific, while public evidence suggests US nuclear targeting is paying increased attention to China and rogue states. By contrast, there has been a denuclearization of the US surface fleet with the withdrawal of tactical nuclear weapons.
- Missile defenses: The US is moving in the direction of national missile defense, within or outside the limitations set by the ABM Treaty, and there is even more support for theater missile defense. Regarding the Pacific rim, US-Japan cooperation continues on a TMD system for protecting Japan, with possible interest on the part of South Korea;
- Nuclear arms control: It’s proving difficult to implement, much less move beyond, START II. It will be important to involve China in future arms control, yet moving from bilateral to multilateral negotiations will be difficult). There is also the complicating factor of missile defense tests and the future of the ABM Treaty.
A presentation on Russian policy vis-a-vis the Asian/Pacific region noted that Russia’s main objective in this period of transition and uncertainty, is not to be pushed out of Asia. While this stance is somewhat comparable to its goal of not being pushed out of Europe, Russia’s status in the Pacific is much more ambiguous. For example, Russia’s status as a dialogue partner with ASEAN (similar to China) is much less concrete than its more substantive role in the OSCE.
Regarding the Russian nuclear presence in the Pacific, a combination of the START I and II agreements has led to the decommissioning of the Yankee and Delta II class subs. As a result, in 1998 the operational fleet consists of 22 SLBM subs (Delta III and IV and Typhoon class). The overall Pacific fleet has roughly 65,000 men, 100 ships, 120 planes, 80 helicopters, and 50 submarines. Yet because of financial difficulties, Russia is unable to achieve its deployment objectives (70 subs, 45-50 deployable in two fleets), so that only 10 submarines are operational in the Pacific at any one time. Regarding theater nuclear forces (TNF) in the Asia/Pacific region, these are far less important in Russian strategy than previously, given the presence of both SLBMs and land-based strategic aviation. While TNF were forward deployed against China and South Korea through the late 1980s, Gorbachev withdrew them to storage deeper into Russia.
The major naval port of Vladivostok will cease being a base for SLBMs, but will continue to have storage facilities for nuclear fuel waste, so Vladivostok will not be a ‘nuclear free facility.’ The facility at Postovaya Bay, 900 km northeast of Vladivostok, will provide storage for decommissioned subs. Vladimir Bay, 300 km northeast of Vladivostok, and Kamchatka Peninsula (Rybachi) have nuclear waste storage facilities as well. At present, however, there is no clear policy on how to decommission and convert these facilities to non-nuclear sites.
Russian officials who support the goal of reducing the Russian arsenal to 1000 nuclear weapons do so for a variety of reasons, including the problem of ‘loose nukes’ (fissile material especially), the threat of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons terrorism, and anxieties over regionalist and separatist trends and the criminalization of Russian society. There are even apprehensions, however minor at the moment, over separatist trends for a Far Eastern Republic.
In the nuclear realm, however, Russia’s main concerns at the moment revolve around proliferation dangers posed by North Korea (e.g., Russian early warning systems were not able to pick up the North Korean missile test over Japan); the transfer of technology with China (is the Russo-Chinese relationship one of strategic alliance or continuing rivalry?); Japan’s plutonium acquisition policy (possibly totaling 85 tons of Pu by the year 2010) and the fact that some feel that Japan could start production of nuclear warheads within four weeks if the political decision to do so was made; South Korean technology smuggling efforts in Russia; and the existence of a highly capable nuclear technology infrastructure in Taiwan.
One way that Russia is seeking solidify its presence in the Asia/Pacific region is through arms sales. Recently, Moscow was negotiating a $1.5 billion arms sale with Indonesia that included a deal for a floating nuclear power plant; these are now unlikely to go forward because of Indonesia’s economic troubles. There have also been a $32 million Mig-29 upgrade deal with Malaysia, the sale of two destroyers and four submarines to China, a $210 million deal with South Korea, the training of Japanese fighter pilots on Su-27 fighter aircraft, and a military cooperation arrangement with India. The post-Cold War period in the 1990s is witnessing shifting relationships between Russia and countries in the region. Where former ally Vietnam now has a trade balance with Japan that is 10 times the volume of its trade with Russia, Moscow is increasing its contacts with former adversaries like Taiwan and South Korea.
In sum, Russia’s security objectives in the Asia/Pacific region can be summarized as follows: minimize proliferation risks, reduce and control the Russian nuclear arsenal, establish a Pacific dialogue involving Russia at all levels, sign protocols by the P5 of the NWFZ in southeast Asia, seek to have the CTBT enter into force as soon as possible, develop and sign the Fissile Material Control Treaty (FMCT), prevent North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, implement export controls in the region, seek a globalization of the ABM treaty, prevent technology smuggling and a Russian brain drain, and develop peaceful nuclear cooperation under article IV of NPT.
Discussion then shifted to China’s nuclear weapons capabilities and policy. It was noted that China has a limited nuclear capability, is committed to a No First Use policy, is strongly committed to international disarmament efforts, and is supportive of the efforts of developing countries to establish nuclear weapons-free zones (e.g., Tlatelolco, Rarotonga, and an African NWFZ). China’s support for nuclear disarmament has included adherence to the NPT (March 1992), the CTB (1996), the 1994 joint US-China statement on multilateral efforts on fissile materials (FMCT), and its support of the IAEA program on nuclear safety. China has also voiced support for complete nuclear disarmament (51st session of UNGA) and for universal NFU adherence through a legally binding document (such as the bilateral Russia-China NFU agreement). China does not deploy its nuclear weapons outside its national borders and is not involved in the development or deployment of missile defenses and space-based weapons systems.
One participant asked about the scope of China’s NFU policy, especially as it affects a non-nuclear country like Japan that might host US nuclear weapons in an emergency. The point was made that NFU is a declaratory policy, and that operational, technical implementation of that policy is what is needed. For example, protecting the nuclear deterrent (i.e., second strike capabilities) is one way to optimize NFU, yet China has most of its capabilities in vulnerable, land-based missiles. It is unclear if China’s NFU policy is purely declaratory, or whether operational measures have been taken to support it. In response, it was stated that China’s NFU policy is unconditional, and that a US nuclear attack even from Japan would not lead to China’s nuclear retaliation against Japan, but against the US. Emphasis was placed on the political importance of other nuclear weapons states adopting a No First Use policy.
The discussion focused on the need for transparency regarding nuclear weapons deployments and policy if a NFU policy is to be credible. Another raised the question of China deploying nuclear weapons in disputed regions, such as the South China Sea. In the west, Russia is trying to do this by not deploying TNW in areas close to some of its neighbors (e.g., the Baltic states). Yet NATO won’t make the same promise regarding nuclear weapons in Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. NATO takes the same position here as China does regarding the South China Sea; there’s no need for such deployments, but no formal commitments are made.
Regarding US nuclear strategy, one participant criticized current American policy as ad hoc and driven more by public attitudes than by strategic rationale. For example, the nuclear weapons program in North Korea poses far more dangers than that of Iraq, yet the West bombs Iraq while trying to bribe North Korea. The point was also made that the Bush-Gorbachev agreement on eliminating tactical nuclear weapons could serve as a model for future cuts, as opposed to engaging in long, drawn-out formalistic treaty negotiations.
Another participant thought it was difficult to see precisely what, if any, real changes the post-Cold War period has meant for Chinese nuclear policies, and that the same is somewhat true for Russia as well. In response, it was argued that, for Russian policy, the US is now no longer the central idee fixe of Russian nuclear deployments and doctrine, and that this doctrine has now expanded to include new actors. For example, Russia has expressed interest in a trilateral deal with China and India on mutual non-targeting. Nonetheless, it would seem that all three major Pacific nuclear powers have not fully considered appropriate new roles, if any, for their nuclear forces.
Workshop participants then heard a presentation on the legacy of nuclear weapons and missile defense testing in the Pacific. Continued contamination at test sites such as Bikini, Rongelap, and Enewetak (US), the Christmas Islands (UK), and Muroroa (France) is but one legacy of the large number of nuclear weapons tests carried out prior to the Partial Test Ban Treaty in 1963. Of more immediate relevance is continued US interest in national missile defense systems and the impact of such testing on Kwajalein Atoll. Should the US engage in full-scale missile defense testing, other Pacific sites that could be affected include the Pacific Missile Range Facility on the island of Kauai as well as Midway, Wake and three sites in Alaska (Adak, Cold Bay, and Kodiak).
Japan, Nuclear Weapons, and Missile Defense
TURNING to Japan, a central question is, what would the removal of the US nuclear umbrella mean for Japan? One response was that the “three no’s” of Japanese nuclear policy (no development, no deployment, and no introduction of nuclear weapons into the country) proclaimed by the Diet in 1971 are still deeply ingrained in Japanese public opinion. On related issues, the point was made that the NPT discriminates in requiring IAEA safeguards on civilian nuclear power in the non-nuclear weapons states (such as Japan and Germany), as compared to the nuclear powers. This discrimination has been a major stumbling block in many countries to supporting an indefinite extension of the NPT.
There was a lively discussion regarding Japan and theater missile defense (TMD), revealing differing attitudes on TMD’s strategic rationale, economic cost, military utility, and even technical feasibility. In the US, there is a definite split between majority elite opinion (con) and public and political opinion (pro). One participant felt that TMD deployments, however imperfect, have political value (e.g., protecting Israelis against Scuds) as well as military value, and that this must considered when evaluating TMD. Some participants were in favor of an incremental development of TMD and the Japanese deployment of reconnaissance satellites. Others mentioned a Japanese Diet resolution on using space only for non-military, peaceful purposes. The point was also made that a Japanese TMD system and reconnaissance satellite capability would need a substantial intelligence and C3 infrastructure to support it, and that these are worrisome paths for Japan to tread. Others pointed to the concerns voiced by China especially regarding the offensive, first-strike potential associated with a TMD system, in terms of threatening an adversary’s second-strike deterrent.
There do seem to have been modest changes in public attitudes (especially in support of a Japanese reconnaissance satellite) following the North Korean missile test on August 31, 1998 that flew over Japan, and these need to be monitored. Yet most participants believed that the social and political taboos in Japan regarding nuclear weapons remain strong, despite the predictions of some that sooner or later Japan will go nuclear (one participated noted that such predictions have been around for decades; Herman Kahn predicted in the 1960s that Japan would have nuclear weapons by 1985). Several participants thought these taboos would remain strong even if Japan were to lose the US nuclear umbrella, while others noted a preference among some Japanese for basing the US security guarantee solely on conventional weapons.
For some participants, however, the question remained: if Korea gets nuclear weapons, wouldn’t Japan? Others thought that, rather than talk about Japan or Korea going fully nuclear, isn’t it more realistic to think that either might develop a ‘fully latent’ nuclear capability that could serve as a deterrent, with potential adversaries knowing that either country could develop a nuclear weapon in short order?
South and North Korea
IN the aftermath of World War II, Korean attitudes were positive regarding nuclear weapons because of their perceived role in forcing Japan’s surrender (despite the fact that 100,000 Koreans died in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear blasts). In the 1960s, both Koreas began exploring the possibility of developing nuclear weapons themselves. Over the years, however, Korean attitudes have become more ambivalent, especially as Koreans found themselves caught directly in the middle of the Cold War. Today, the continued stalemate of non-recognition by the two Koreas is what most complicates the possibility of moving forward on nuclear weapons issues. Korean unification continues to seem a remote possibility, and the two Koreas have not even reached the level of interaction that characterized East and West Germany in the early 1970s.
It was stressed that it remains difficult to know exactly what is happening with North Korean attempts to acquire nuclear weapons. What can be said is that North Korea has played an extremely weak hand, extremely well. Where North Korea previously played the Soviet Union against China, now it is trying to play the US against China. One participant wryly noted that, when North Korea has precipitated a crisis in recent years, the US response is to write a bigger check. At present, however, North Korea may think it has played this hand out. A comparison was drawn between US – North Korean deal and that of Russia and Iran on nuclear reactor, with the major difference being that Iran is under full IAEA safeguards (it was noted that spent fuel at the two new reactors will fall under IAEA safeguards, but this is 10 years away).
North Korea’s number one priority is regime survival, but at least one participant cautioned against equating a regime collapse with the disintegration of the country (i.e., the current regime could collapse and North Korea could still remain communist). North Korea is an isolated garrison state that can withstand much hardship, as most citizens fully believe they are making sacrifices to defend their country. Plus, the North Korean regime has been able to use its starving population to manipulate the West. Others noted that China has more influence with Pyongyang than it is willing to admit, and that not enough effort has been made to get China to use this leverage (if it really wanted to).
One participant stressed that the current Agreed Framework is just that, a framework, not an agreement, and should be construed narrowly. At present, different countries are emphasizing different objectives within the Agreed Framework: the US stresses non-proliferation, South Korea emphasizes the avoidance of conflict on Korean peninsula (Japan feels similarly), while China’s priority is regional stability. What is vitally needed are Four Party talks to replace the Korean armistice with a peace treaty, and more support (especially from the US) for South Korea’s policy of constructive engagement.
There was severe criticism of the Agreed Framework setting a terrible precedent, as the two new reactors slated for North Korea are 10 times larger than the ones they’re replacing and are not even suitable for the requirements of the North Korea power grid. Moreover, North Korea won’t have to comply with the terms of theAgreed Framework until both reactors are delivered, giving Pyongyang the opportunity to find a last minute excuse not to comply.
In defense of the Agreed Framework, one should remember the circumstances prevailing in 1994, when Pentagon thought that force might have to be used to disrupt North Korea’s nuclear ambition, yet there was little or no international support for such a military option. Another participant added that North Korea is probably no closer to acquiring a nuclear weapon now than it was in 1994, and that this might not have been so in the absence of the Agreed Framework. Moreover, there might well have been a conflict on the Korean peninsula in the absence of the cooperation that produced the Agreed Framework, despite its faults.
Nonetheless, one would do well when evaluating the Agreed Framework to recall the case of the Ukraine, where that country voluntarily gave up 2,000 nuclear weapons and received far less in compensation than did North Korea for just pledging not to “go nuclear” (and North Korea violated an agreement to boot).
India, Pakistan and Southeast Asia
DISCUSSION then turned to the political and proliferation ramifications of the spring 1998 nuclear tests by India and Pakistan. One participant stressed the importance of understanding the motivations for India’s test in order to address its implications for stability. For this participant, the domestic and political motivations of the BJP government were primary, with military/security and international motivations secondary. In this view, the India tests were the “tough actions of a weak government.” Mention was made in particular of India’s loss of stature with the decline of the non-aligned movement and its reduced political leverage because of the end of the Cold War. India’s constant aspirations for a permanent seat on the UN security council, and now its status as a nuclear weapons power, could be seen as means to promote India as a more powerful player in the world. Plus, there is the discriminatory nature of the NPT regime. Accordingly, a more equitable international system is needed to help forestall other countries such as India and Pakistan from striving for a nuclear weapons capability. Other, contrary views held that regional and strategic issues were just as important, and that India’s nuclear test was meant to send a signal as much to China as to Pakistan (what one participant referred to as ‘China-envy’).
Regarding wider proliferation concerns, it was noted that the nine member countries of ASEAN possess neither the capability nor the potential for developing nuclear weapons in any reasonable timeframe (10 to 20 years). In terms of public attitudes and government policy, non-proliferation is not a major issue. Nonetheless, there is general sentiment in Southeast Asia that the current non-proliferation regime is discriminatory (though ultimately, all of the ASEAN countries did support indefinite extension of the NPT). ASEAN has been trying to establish a nuclear weapon free zone (similar to Rarotonga) for some 20 years, given that the region has been subject to so much great power intervention.
The session ended with one participant voicing disappointment over how the discussion was proceeding, with arguments about strategic equations being made along traditional lines: Japan-Korea or Japan-China or China-India, etc. The point was made that this represents old ways of thinking and impedes the search for effective ways of reducing or eliminating reliance on nuclear weapons.
Proliferation and Nuclear Energy
THE opening presentation focused on plutonium safeguards and the need for a global non-proliferation norm. Nuclear weapons states such as the US and Russia face different problems but with similar outcomes; where the US focuses on burning or disposing of plutonium (but faces public opposition of where to locate such facilities), Russia is committed to converting plutonium in the nuclear fuel cycle (but has no money to accomplish this).
As of 1994, global stocks of plutonium were estimated to be 1,160 tons, including up to 250 tons in military stockpiles, 790 tons in spent fuel, and 120 tons in separated civil stocks. Of the military total, there are roughly 130 tons in Russia and the FSU, 85 tons in the US, and smaller amounts in France (5 tons), China (4 tons), the UK (3 tons) and the remaining nuclear weapons states (less than one ton in Israel, India, and Pakistan). On the civilian side, only a bit more than 50 percent (500 tons) are thought to be covered by IAEA safeguards.
The key to reducing proliferation risks is to safeguard both processed plutonium and spent fuel, through a variety of institutional arrangements and constraints (NPT, NWFZ, CTBT, FMCT) as well as technical measures (monitoring, inventory control, etc.). The situation with regard to states not party to the IAEA is that Brazil is expected to ratify soon, leaving India, Pakistan, Israel, and Cuba (though the latter has no significant plutonium) still outside the NPT regime. In light of the recent Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests, a major issue is how both states could be brought into the NPT: would they have to give up their nuclear weapons programs (following the example of South Africa), or could they be admitted with special status?
There was general agreement that the most effective way to strengthen the non-proliferation regime will be through a multi-layered approach, through international, regional, and national layers of control and monitoring. Proposals have been put forth for establishing regional confidence building measures in Asia. Also, it is important to establish national materials processing control and accounting procedures (MPC&A) in each state that could be tied into a global network of MPC&A systems. Of interest in this regard is the series of reciprocal inspections between Argentina and Brazil that are carried out bilaterally, outside the IAEA framework.
Japan, Korea and China
IT is estimated that commercial nuclear power capacity in East Asia will double between 1998 and the year 2010, from about 64 GWe to 126 GWe in the countries of Japan, the two Koreas, Taiwan and China.
In a discussion on Japan, note was made that Japanese stockpiles of separated plutonium had risen from 11 tons in 1993 to 24 tons in 1996-97, while quantities of stored plutonium had remained constant at about 5 tons. This is largest amount of plutonium controlled by any non-nuclear weapons state. What are the implications of this stockpile regarding proliferation risks (whether through diversion, terrorist theft, or Japanese development of nuclear weapons)? Additional concerns are the safe disposal of waste and the possibilities of a catastrophic accident. It was assumed by some participants that Japan now has a ‘virtual’ nuclear weapons capacity. There are some estimates that Japan could develop an operational nuclear weapon in about four weeks, given the political decision to do so. While this estimate may be exaggerated, Japan could legally build up a production infrastructure capacity to just below threshold level. Participants characterized this scenario as a “low probability, but high consequence event”, one that could happen in a very different political environment that would overcome Japan’s “nuclear allergy.” Relevant factors could include a combination of diminishing confidence in the US nuclear/security umbrella, high risk tensions in Northeast Asia, and the failure of the nuclear weapons states to substantially reduce their nuclear arsenals in the coming years. All of these factors, if taken together, could well increase possible Japanese interest in a nuclear deterrent.
While a few participants disagreed with the premises of such a scenario, others agreed that, for Japan as well as some other countries, the important variable is political will. For these countries, developing nuclear weapons is not a technical question, given the easy availability of fissile material and technical know-how.
One participant pointed out that the discussion about Japan is the opposite of most proliferation concerns, of worrying about those countries that have nuclear aspirations but lack the know-how. Japan was described as “a latent nuclear power in a deeply de-alerted condition.” Nonetheless, what explains the Japanese non-rational, sub-optimal policies of paying more for enriched uranium (LEU) and of having plutonium you can’t use? Such issues raise the question, especially outside of Japan, of the country’s actual intentions. Mention was made of the article in Foreign Affairs in the summer of 1998 by former Prime Minister Horosawa about the necessity of maintaining the US nuclear umbrella in order to forestall possible Japanese nuclear weapons ambitions.
South Korea’s natural energy situation is similar to Japan, with few indigenous natural energy resources and overwhelming dependence on external sources. There are currently 16 nuclear power plants (light water reactor and Candu), with more planned, that at present supply 50% of the country’s electricity needs. South Korea also has a substantial nuclear R&D and technological infrastructure. New nuclear technologies are being developed, along with safeguard technologies. Storage and disposal of spent fuel is a significant problem (the ‘not in my backyard’ syndrome), and reprocessing is not a short term solution. Although there is a small minority of the public that is in favor of developing nuclear weapons, such sentiments are very limited.
In China, civilian nuclear power was developed in the early 1970s, especially in areas of the country (southeast China) lacking coal and oil. The accelerating demand for energy given economic modernization is driving the need for increased civilian nuclear power, as well as other sources (hydro, coal). China has a wide variety of reactors, so standardization needed for sustainable development. Current output is only 5% of total energy production, yet it is estimated that China could have between 250 and 400 nuclear power plants by the 2050. This increased reliance on nuclear energy is needed because, although China has large untapped hydro resources, these are concentrated regionally (southwest China), long distances away from the massive energy needs of the industrial coastal areas. Plus there are the special environmental and global warming problems of an over-reliance on coal, the use of which is already expected to increase dramatically.
One participant felt that the spent fuel storage problem is not a major problem technically; the problem is perceptual and political. Misperceptions arise not only from nuclear opponents, but from reprocessing proponents. Yet, reprocessing complicates spent fuel storage, it doesn’t simplify it. The same repository is needed in both cases. Reprocessing only makes sense to get plutonium for fast breeder reactors, which most everyone has given up on. In this regard, it is problematic for China to criticize Japan for reprocessing if China has the same plan in mind (it was mentioned that China may have plans to build three reprocessing plants).
Questions were asked about Chinese inventories of civilian plutonium and enriched uranium, and why the military and civilian stockpile accountings are combined. Another participant remarked that the biggest proliferation risk is nuclear theft or diversion from Russia and the FSU. Japan has initiated some cooperative programs with Ukraine and Kazakhstan to help minimize the FSU problem, and the US-Russian Nunn-Lugar program is in good shape, particularly for materials accounting and control. On the other hand, Europe does very little in this regard (except for the Swedes, Finns, and Germans), so there is a need to fully internationalize this kind of support.
While the need exists for supplementary safeguards, one participant thought that countries should not rely overly on IAEA safeguards. More effective would be bilateral inspection systems, such as that between Argentina and Brazil, which the IAEA might think of adopting. It is true that the Argentina-Brazil agreement was made possible by political rapprochement between the two countries, thus making it difficult to think of a similar scheme for Japan and the Koreas, or Israel and the Arabs, etc. As long as plutonium and enriched uranium are in commercial circulation, the threat of diversion will always exist, so let’s talk about taking them out of circulation. Also, the concept of fissile materials control is a misnomer, as stockpiles will continue to exist.
MOX Fabrication and Spent Fuel Storage
THE afternoon session focused on excess weapons plutonium disposition, spent fuel storage in the Far East, and obsolete nuclear submarines in Russia (spent fuel storage). There was discussion of proposals to build a MOX fabrication plant and spent fuel storage facility in the Russian Far East, which could sell fabricated MOX (LWR) to Japan and store Japanese spent fuel (with a specified time commitment, probably 50 years). Such a facility might also store spent fuel from countries such as Taiwan and South Korea. The facility could be financed by Japanese utilities and the Japanese government. Japan could also buy blended HEU from Russia, and the program could be extended to other interested countries.
The benefits of such a plan would be secured financing for plutonium disposition, enhanced transparency, tight materials accounting and control, and economic development in Russia’s Far East. The plan’s uncertainties include possible unrealistic cost estimates, the need for government financing, the uncertainty of Russian politics, and possible consent from the US and China to send Japanese (and Taiwanese) spent fuel to Russia. There are also conflicting interests with Rakkasho.
Alternative proposals for dealing with the problem include shipping MOX fuel to Canada and the proposal for an International Consortium for plutonium disposition that could draw up a more effective and coordinated strategy.
The question was raised about how to avoid conflicts between commercial and security interests that are currently plaguing the US Enrichment Corporation (USEC). What if the price base changes during implementation of the project, so it’s less economically attractive to Japanese utilities and other funders of the project? The USEC was in transition from being a government to a private entity, and had to negotiate a new price deal each year; these are some of the pitfalls to be avoided.
The importance was noted of having any such Russian-Japanese proposal originate from Moscow, as Minatom will have to have partial ownership of idea and construction/ engineering funds will have to be shared with Russian companies. There is also the problem of Russian regional politics and the difficulties of planning large construction projects in the inhospitable Russian Far East.
One participant voiced concern about plans for burning military plutonium in reactors, given that the size of civilian plutonium stockpiles is approaching ten times the size of of the military ones. Are arms controllers being used as stalking horses by recyclers to legitimize reprocessing? Unlike pit storage of plutonium, which is easily quantified and monitored, it is much more difficult to keep track of separated fuels that are shipped long distances.
There followed a description of the Pacific Forum’s CSCAP project, comprised of 18 national member committees and five working groups, one on Confidence and Security Building Measures to evaluate ways to increase nuclear safety and transparency and promote confidence among Asia-Pacific nations. A CSCAP workshop held at the Cooperative Monitoring Center at Sandia National Laboratory explored the feasibility of designing a generic monitoring system. Another meeting held at the Fukishima nuclear power plant in Japan included officials from North Korea. The working group is now drafting a Nuclear Energy White Book that will give an overview of national nuclear energy programs in the Asia-Pacific region.
Several participants commented on the difficulty of trying to inject track II initiatives into decision-making circles of national governments and multilateral organizations (ASEAN, ARF etc.). Another mentioned the utility of specific projects within the framework of track II efforts, such as a joint environmental monitoring center.
The concept of an Asiatom was broached in the late 1970s during the International Nuclear Fuel Cycle Evaluation (INFCE) process initiated by Jimmy Carter. Given previous attempts at regional cooperation and transparency, it is important to articulate precise goals and objectives for current endeavors. Moreover, talk of regional, multilateral structures may be premature, given that Euratom was the product of special relationships in Europe developed over many decades.
Finally, one participant injected a cautionary note, seeing a misdirected focus on nuclear energy by many countries in the Asia/Pacific region, which risks distorting and misdirecting resources that could be better devoted to agriculture and other areas of concern.
A Nuclear Weapon-Free Pacific?
THE history of nuclear weapons-free zones (NWFZ) began with the Antarctic Treaty (1959) and evolved through the Treaty of Tlatelcolco covering Latin America and the Caribbean (1967), the Rarotonga Nuclear Free Zone encompassing the South Pacific (1985), the Bangkok Treaty (1995) covering Southeast Asia (ASEAN), and the Pelindaba (1996) Treaty for Africa (50 states have signed but not ratified).
The Rarotonga nuclear-free zone is not totally prohibitive, it doesn’t prohibit port calls of nuclear- powered ships, the staging of nuclear capable aircraft, or assistance with missile tests. There are three protocols for the nuclear weapons states who might engage in nuclear weapons activities in the Rarotonga zone. The major nuclear weapons powers have all signed these protocols, and all have ratified them except for the US. In addition, it was noted that the Law of the Sea Treaty permits unimpeded access by submarines and other vessels to the world’s oceans and international straits, an especially important issue in the South Pacific and Southeast Asia.
There are currently 100 states that are part of a nuclear weapons-free zone, most of these in the southern hemisphere. And there is continuity between many of the NWFZ, for example between the eastern border of the Bangkok Treaty and the western Rarotonga border, and between the Rarotonga eastern border and the western border of the Tlatelcolco Treaty.
Other proposed NWFZs have been advocated for Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia/Indian Ocean, and Northeast Asia and the Korean Peninsula.
It was noted that some municipalities in Japan (Kobe, the Kobi prefecture) deny port entry of US naval vessels as the US won’t certify that they don’t carry nuclear weapons (adhering to the Navy’s policy to neither confirm nor deny the presence of such weapons). This policy remains in effect even though US policy since the early 1990s has been not to carry tactical nuclear weapons on naval vessels. At present, the Japanese foreign ministry is contesting these local ordinances, asserting that they conflict with the conduct of Japanese foreign policy.
A Northeast Asia NWFZ
PARTICIPANTS agreed that the nuclear weapons issue is especially acute regarding Northeast Asia, which has 3 1/2 nuclear powers and two others under the nuclear umbrella.
Regarding Russian policy and possible support by Moscow for a NWFZ, it was thought that Russian nuclear deployments in Asia are of secondary importance. The negative security assurances given by Russia to Ukraine and Kazakhstan are one form of de-nuclearizing a particular region. The Baltic states were at first interested in a NWFZ until Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic joined NATO. The inclusion of the Central Asian states in a NWFZ could be accomplished with the withdrawal of Soviet tactical nuclear weapons, and legal arrangements for such a NWFZ are now being discussed. A North Asia NWFZ centered in Panmunjom, with a 2000 km radius, would encompass several important Russian nuclear facilities (Vladivostok, Sovetskaya Gaven, Alekseyevka, Ukraina). Such a NWFZ would affect China even more directly, given its ICBM silos and other strategic nuclear force bases at Luoning and Wuzhai (interior) and Qingdao and Shanghai (on the coast). Perhaps a NWFZ treaty limited to non-strategic nuclear weapons would be more feasible.
Another option is a NWFZ limited to the two Koreas and Japan, with negative security assurances provided by Russia, China, and the US (no first use declarations). This option equally attractive to Russia and US in not limiting naval forces. Yet, there is limited interest on the part of the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Russian public, despite general support for the possibility of complete denuclearization (45% yes; 27% no; 28% no opinion).
This is another area where unilateral measures could be more effective, building on the experience of the US and Russian actions to withdraw tactical nuclear weapons without lengthy negotiations, verification requirements, or reporting. But this case was special, motivated in part by events surrounding the August 1991 coup attempt, the risk of the Soviet Union disintegrating in turmoil, and the prospect of ‘loose nukes’. Moreover, the US Army was more than willing to be rid of their tactical nuclear weapons.
While there have been informal contacts on a NWFZ involving Russia and China and other states, North Korea has not been part of these. Plus, China won’t accept a NWFZ that places constraints on such large amounts of territory containing important strategic bases.
In the US, the issue of NWFZs has always been a low priority for both official policy and the arms control community. The US has responded hesitantly if not with hostility to such proposals, fearing constraints on US global military operations. This problem is not so severe now that general purpose forces have largely been denuclearized. Yet many see NWFZs as adding only modest benefits to the NPT, while providing big headaches for US military strategy and deployments. One participant thought there was an overt prejudice in the US arms control community against NWFZs as being too populist and woolly-headed.
Regarding Japan, 50 percent of the public supports the US nuclear umbrella, so support for a NWFZ is still mixed, especially in the absence of firm negative security assurances from Russia and China. Important topics for Japanese consideration of a NWFZ would be technical means of implementation and ways of verifying a No First Use strategy.
It was mentioned that a NWFZ can often help promote other objectives as well. For example, Brazil was part of the Tlatelolco NWFZ before joining NPT; thus NWFZs can induce changes in defense strategy that help promote stability.
Another participant asserted that Japan is already a NWFZ, the two Koreas have reached an agreement on one (though it remains to be implemented), and Mongolia is nuclear-free, so why try to move from this situation to a formal NWFZ where the US nuclear guarantee would have to be replaced with negative security assurances from Russia and China? In addition, negative security assurances are already contained in the NPT (nuclear weapons states commit to not using nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states), so why spend much time and effort getting states to repeat what they’ve already committed to?
The workshop concluded with discussion on the need for continued analysis of the feasibility and desirability of a Northeast Asia NWFZ, especially given the other initiatives currently underway for reducing the risks of nuclear war in the region.
- Dr. Muthiah Alagappa (Malaysia), Director, Regional Economics and Politics, East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii
- Dr. Jeffrey Boutwell, Associate Executive Officer, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Cambridge, MA, USA [formerly: Staff Aide, National Security Council, Washington, DC]
- Dr. Seongwhun Cheon, Research Fellow, Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU), Seoul, South Korea
- Mr. Ralph Cossa, Executive Director, Pacific Forum CSIS, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA; Executive Director, US Committee, Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific (CSCAP)
- Prof. Paolo Cotta-Ramusino, Associate Professor of Mathematical Physics, University of Milan, Italy; Secretary General, Union of Italian Scientists for Disarmament (USPID); Director, Program on Disarmament and International Security, Landau Network – Centro Volta, Como, Italy
- Dr. Victor Gilinsky, Energy Consultant, Glen Echo, Maryland, USA [formerly: Head, Physical Sciences Dept., Rand Corporation; Commissioner, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission]
- Dr. Gert Gü nter Harigel (Germany), Senior Physicist Emeritus, CERN, European Laboratory of Particle Physics, Switzerland; Secretary, Geneva International Peace Research Institute (GIPRI); Council Member, International Network for Engineers and Scientists (INES) [formerly: Visiting Professor of Physics, Columbia University, New York (1983); Visiting Professor of Physics, University Hawaii (1987and 1988); Physicist Max Planck Institute of Physics, Munich; DESY, Hamburg]
- Dr. Michael Jones, Associate Physicist, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA [formerly: Physics Researcher, Rutgers Univeristy]
- Prof. Kumao Kaneko, Professor of International Relations, Strategic Peace & International Affairs Research Institute (SPIRIT), Tokai University, Tokyo, Japan; President, Japan Council on Nuclear Energy, Environment & Security (CNEES) [formerly: Director, Nuclear Energy Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA); Director, Scientific Affairs Division, UN Bureau, MOFA; Executive Director, Japan Institute of International Affairs; Secretary General, Japan National Committee for Pacific Economic Cooperation; Director, United Nations Environment Programme Regional Office for Asia-Pacific]
- Ms. Kaoru Kikuyama, Head, International Cooperation and Planning, Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF), Inc., Tokyo, Japan [formerly: Policy Analyst, JAIF; positions in academia]
- Prof. Michiji Konuma, Member, Pugwash Council; Professor and Dean, Faculty of Environmental and Information Studies, Musashi Institute of Technology, Yokohama, Japan; Visiting Professor, University of the Air; Professor Emeritus, Keio University; Member, UNESCO Physics Action Council; Past-President, Association of Asia Pacific Physical Societies (AAPPS); Honorary Member, Hungarian Academy of Sciences [formerly: President, Physical Society of Japan]
- Mr. Hiroyoshi Kurihara, Senior Executive Director and CEO, Nuclear Material Control Center (NMCC), Tokyo, Japan [formerly: Deputy Director General, Science and Technology Agency; Minister of Japanese Embassy; Director, Division of Development and Technical Support, Department of Safeguards, IAEA; Executive Director and Comptroller General, Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corporation]
- Dr. Steven Miller, Director, International Security Program, Center for Science & International Affairs, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA; Editor-in-Chief, International Security; Member, Pugwash Council; Co-Chair, U.S. Pugwash Group [ formerly: Senior Research Fellow, SIPRI; Assistant Professor, Defence and Arms Control Studies, MIT]
- Dr. Alexander Nikitin, Director, Center for Political and International Studies (CPIS), Moscow, Russia; Deputy Chair, Russian Pugwash Committee of Scientists for Disarmament and International Security; Vice-President of the Russian Political Science Association; Professor, Moscow State Institute of International Relations; Member, Pugwash Council
- Dr. Vladimir Orlov, Director, Center for Policy Studies in Russia (PIR-Center), Moscow, Russia
- Dr. Carolyn Stephenson, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA; Member, Program on Conflict Resolution & Graduate Faculty in Population Studies [formerly: Director of Peace Studies, Colgate University]
- Dr. Mark Byung-Moon Suh (Germany/South Korea), Member, Pugwash Council; Senior Researcher, Free University of Berlin, Berlin, Germany; Member, Advisory Council on Democratic & Peaceful Unification of Korea [formerly: Visiting Scholar, Modern Asia Center, Budapest; Secretary-General, Council on German-Korean Security Studies; Liaison Officer for Korean and US Forces in Vietnam; Director of Studies, WERI-Berlin]
- Prof. Ralph Summy, Director, Matsunaga Institute for Peace, University of Hawai’i, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA [formerly: Australian UNESCO Representative]
- Dr. Tatsujiro Suzuki, Visiting Associate Professor, Sociotechnics of Nuclear Energy, Department of Quantum Engineering and Systems Science, University of Tokyo, Japan; Research Fellow, Socio-economic Research Center, Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry (CRIEPI), Tokyo [formerly: Research Associate, Center for International Studies, MIT; Visiting Scientist, Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research, MIT, etc.]
- Mr. Wang Zheng, International Relations Research Fellow, Chinese People’s Association for Peace and Disarmament (CPAPD), Beijing, China
- Prof. Zhuang Fenggan, Vice Director, Science & Technology Council, China National Space Administration, China [formerly: Chief Scientist, Ministry of Aerospace]