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Nuclear proliferation

Nuclear proliferation is in general the spread of nuclear technology (including nuclear power plants). The phrase is most commonly used to specifically describe the spread of nuclear weapons, especially from nation to nation.

The primary focus of anti-proliferation efforts is to maintain control over the specialized materials necessary to build such devices because this is the most dificult and expensive part of a nuclear wepons program. (In the Manhattan Project, 90% of the budget was dedicated to isotope separation and enrichment). The main materials whose generation and distribution is controlled are highly enriched uranium and plutonium. The scientific and technical requirements for weapons development, although non-trivial, are generally available in order to develop rudimentary, but working nuclear devices. (The Nth Country Experiment is an excellent example of this).

The International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) safeguards system under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has been an international success. It has involved cooperation in developing nuclear energy while ensuring that civil uranium, plutonium and associated plants are used only for peaceful purposes and do not contribute in any way to proliferation or nuclear weapons programs. In 1995 the NPT was extended indefinitely.

Most countries have renounced nuclear weapons, recognising that possession of them would threaten rather than enhance national security. They have therefore embraced the NPT as a public commitment to use nuclear materials and technology only for peaceful purposes.

Table of contents
1 External links and references

The NPT Origins And Objectives

The successful conclusion, in 1968, of negotiations on the NPT was a landmark in the history of non-proliferation. Its indefinite extension in May 1995 was another. At present, 187 states are party to the NPT. These include all five declared Nuclear Weapons States (NWSs): China, France, the Russian Federation, the UK and the USA.

The NPT's main objectives are to stop the further spread of nuclear weapons, to provide security for non-nuclear weapon states which have given up the nuclear option, to encourage international co-operation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to pursue negotiations in good faith towards nuclear disarmament leading to the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons.

The International Atomic Energy Agency

The IAEA was set up by unanimous resolution of the United Nations in 1957 to help nations develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Allied to this role is the administration of safeguards arrangements. This provide assurance to the international community that individual countries are honouring their treaty commitments to use nuclear materials and facilities exclusively for peaceful purposes.

The IAEA therefore undertakes regular inspections of civil nuclear facilities to verify the accuracy of documentation supplied to it. The agency checks inventories and undertakes sampling and analysis of materials. Safeguards are designed to deter diversion of nuclear material by increasing the risk of early detection. They are complemented by controls on the export of sensitive technology from countries such as UK and USA through voluntary bodies such as the Nuclear Suppliers Group[?]. The main concern of the IAEA is that uranium not be enriched beyond what is necessary for commercial civil plants, and that plutonium which is produced by nuclear reactors not be refined into a form that would be suitable for bomb production.

Scope of safeguards

Traditional safeguards are arrangements to account for and control the use of nuclear materials. This verification is a key element in the international system which ensures that uranium in particular is used only for peaceful purposes.

Parties to the NPT agree to accept technical safeguard measures applied by the IAEA. These require that operators of nuclear facilities maintain and declare detailed accounting records of all movements and transactions involving nuclear material . Over 550 facilities and several hundred other locations are subject to regular inspection, and their records and the nuclear material being audited. Inspections by the IAEA are complemented by other measures such as surveillance cameras and instrumentation.

The aim of traditional IAEA safeguards is to deter the diversion of nuclear material from peaceful use by maximising the risk of early detection. At a broader level they provide assurance to the international community that countries are honouring their treaty commitments to use nuclear materials and facilities exclusively for peaceful purposes. In this way safeguards are a service both to the international community and to individual states, who recognise that it is in their own interest to demonstrate compliance with these commitments.

The inspections act as an alert system providing a warning of the possible diversion of nuclear material from peaceful activities. The system relies on;

  1. Material Accountability - tracking all inward and outward transfers and the flow of materials in any nuclear facility. This includes sampling and analysis of nuclear material, on-site inspections, review and verification of operating records.
  2. Physical Security - restricting access to nuclear materials at the site of use.
  3. Containment and Surveillance - use of seals, automatic cameras and other instruments to detect unreported movement or tampering with nuclear materials, as well as spot checks on-site.
All NPT non-weapons states must accept these full-scope safeguards. In the five weapons states plus the non-NPT states (India, Pakistan and Israel), facility-specific safeguards apply. IAEA inspectors regularly visit these facilities to verify completeness and accuracy of records.

The terms of the NPT cannot be enforced by the IAEA itself, nor can nations be forced to sign the treaty. In reality, as shown in Iraq and North Korea, safeguards can be backed up by diplomatic, political and economic measures.

Iraq and North Korea illustrate both the strengths and weaknesses of international safeguards. While accepting safeguards at declared facilities, Iraq had set up elaborate equipment elsewhere in an attempt to enrich uranium to weapons grade. North Korea attempted to use research reactors (not commercial electricity-generating reactors) and a reprocessing plant to produce some weapons-grade plutonium.

The weakness of the NPT regime lay in the fact that no obvious diversion of material was involved. The uranium used as fuel probably came from indigenous sources, and the nuclear facilities concerned were built by the countries themselves without being declared or placed safeguards arrangements. Iraq, as an NPT party, was obliged to declare all facilities but did not do so. In North Korea, the activities concerned took place before the conclusion of its NPT safeguards agreement.

Nevertheless, the activities were detected and brought under control using international diplomacy. In Iraq, a military defeat assisted this process. With North Korea, possibly posed the most intractable situation confronted by the IAEA. But significant compensation in the promised provision of commercial power reactors eventually helped resolve the situation.

So, while traditional safeguards easily verified the correctness of formal declarations by suspect states, in the 1990s attention turned to what might not have been declared, outside the known materials flows and facilities.

Undeclared nuclear activities

In 1993 a program was initiated to strengthen and extend the classical safeguards system was initiated, and a model protocol was agreed by the IAEA Board of Governors in 1997. The measures boosted the IAEA's ability to detect undeclared nuclear activities, including those with no connection to the civil fuel cycle.

Innovations were of two kinds. Some could be implemented on the basis of IAEA's existing legal authority through safeguards agreements and inspections. Others required further legal authority to be conferred through an Additional Protocol. This must be agreed by each non-weapons state with IAEA, as a supplement to any existing comprehensive safeguards agreement. Weapons states have agreed to accept the principles of the model additional protocol.

Key elements of the model Additional Protocol:

  • The IAEA is to be given considerably more information on nuclear and nuclear-related activities, including R & D, production of uranium and thorium (regardless of whether it is traded) and nuclear-related imports and exports.
  • IAEA inspectors will have greater rights of access. This will include any suspect location, it can be at short notice (eg. two hours), and the IAEA can deploy environmental sampling and remote monitoring techniques to detect illicit activities.
  • States must streamline administrative procedures so that IAEA inspectors get automatic visa renewal and can communicate more readily with IAEA headquarters. All these elements focus on nuclear materials. They enhance the IAEA's ability to provide assurances that all nuclear activities and material in the country concerned has been declared for safeguards purposes.
  • Further evolution of safeguards is towards evaluation of each state, taking account of its particular situation and the kind of nuclear materials it has. This will involve greater judgement on the part of IAEA and the development of effective methodologies which reassure NPT States.

Limitations of safeguards

The greatest risk of nuclear weapons proliferation lies with countries which have not joined the NPT and which have significant unsafeguarded nuclear activities. India, Pakistan and Israel are in this category. While safeguards apply to some of their activities, others remain beyond scrutiny.

IAEA safeguards together with bilateral safeguards applied under the NPT can, and do, ensure that uranium supplied by countries such as Australia and Canada does not contribute to that proliferation. In fact the worldwide application of those safeguards and the substantial world trade in uranium for nuclear electricity make the proliferation of nuclear weapons much less likely.

The Additional Protocol, once it is widely in force (currently 54 states have signed it and 18 have ratified it), will provide credible assurance that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in the states concerned. This will be a major step forward in preventing nuclear proliferation.

Other IAEA developments

In May 1995, NPT parties reaffirmed their commitment to a Fissile Materials Cut-off Treaty to prohibit the production of any further fissile material for weapons. This aims to complement the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty agreed in 1996 and to codify commitments made by USA, UK, France and Russia to cease production of weapons material, as well as putting a similar ban on China. This treaty will also put more pressure on Israel, India and Pakistan to agree to international verification.

Another initiative relates to plutonium (Pu) and spent fuel. For uranium, safeguards take account of its nature: natural, depleted, low-enriched or high-enriched (above 20% U-235) and the corresponding degree of concern regarding proliferation. A similarly differentiated approach is being considered for Pu. Two or three categories are possible: degraded Pu (eg in high-burnup fuel), low-grade Pu (eg separated from spent fuel of normal burnup) and high-grade Pu (eg from weapons or low-burnup fuel). The first two correspond to what is generally known as a reactor-grade Pu, sometimes defined as having more than 19% non-fissile isotopes.

Additional arrangements

There are also several other treaties and arrangements designed to reduce the risk of civil nuclear power's contributing to weapons proliferation.

Implementation of IAEA safeguards in the 13 non-nuclear weapon states of the EU is governed by a Verification Agreement between the country concerned, EURATOM[?] and the IAEA. Safeguards activities are carried out jointly by the IAEA and EURATOM. A revision to earlier arrangements, the New Partnership Approach (NPA), was agreed in April 1992. The NPA enables the IAEA itself to deploy more of its resources in member states where independent regional safeguards systems are not in place.

Shortly after entry into force of the NPT, multilateral consultations on nuclear export controls led to the establishment of two separate mechanisms for dealing with nuclear exports: the Zangger Committee in 1971 and the Nuclear Suppliers Group[?] (NSG) in 1975.

The Zangger Committee, also known as the Non Proliferation Treaty Exporters Committee was set up to consider how procedures for exports of nuclear material and equipment related to NPT commitments. In August 1974 the committee produced a trigger list of items which would require the application of IAEA safeguards if exported to a non Nuclear Weapons State which was not party to the NPT. The trigger list is regularly updated. The Zangger Committee now has 31 member states.

The NSG, also known as the London Group[?] or London Suppliers Group[?], was set up in 1974 after India exploded its first nuclear device. The main reason for the group's formation was to bring in France, a major nuclear supplier nation which was not then party to the NPT. It included both members and non-members of the Zangger Committee. The group communicated its guidelines, essentially a set of export rules, to the IAEA in 1978. These were to ensure that transfers of nuclear material or equipment would not be diverted to unsafeguarded nuclear fuel cycle or nuclear explosive activities, and formal government assurances to this effect were required from recipients. The Guidelines also recognised the need for physical protection measures in the transfer of sensitive facilities, technology and weapons-usable materials, and strengthened retransfer provisions. The NSG began with seven members -- the USA, the former USSR, the UK, France, Germany, Canada and Japan - but now includes 35 countries.

Additional Discussion of Unsanctioned Activity


Up to the late 1980s it was generally assumed that any undeclared nuclear activities would have to be based on the diversion of nuclear material from safeguards. States acknowledged the possibility of nuclear activities entirely separate from those covered by safeguards, but it was assumed they would be detected by national intelligence activities. There was no particular effort requiring the IAEA to attempt to detect them.

The Iraqi regime had been making efforts to secure a nuclear potential since the 1960s. In the late 1970s a specialised plant, Osiraq, was constructed near Baghdad. The plant was attacked during the Iran-Iraq War and was destoryed in a pre-emptive strike by Israeli bombers in June, 1981.

Not until the 1990 NPT Review Conference did some states raise the possibility of making more use of (for example) provisions for "special inspections" in existing NPT Safeguards Agreements. Special inspections can be undertaken at locations other than those where safeguards routinely apply, if there is reason to believe there may be undeclared material or activities.

However, inspections in Iraq following the UN Gulf War cease-fire resolution showed the extent of Iraq's clandestine nuclear weapons program, it became clear that the IAEA would have to broaden the scope of its activities. Iraq was an NPT Party, and had thus agreed to place all its nuclear material under IAEA safeguards. But the inspections revealed that it had been pursuing an extensive clandestine uranium enrichment program, as well as a nuclear weapons design program.

The main thrust of Iraq's uranium enrichment program was the development of technology for electromagnetic isotope separation (EMIS) of indigenous uranium. This uses the same principles as a mass spectrometer (albeit on a much larger scale). Ions of uranium-238 and uranium-235 are separated because they describe arcs of different radii when they move through a magnetic field. This process was used in the Manhattan Project to make the highly enriched uranium used in the Hiroshima bomb, but was abandoned soon afterwards.

The Iraqis did the basic research work at their nuclear research establishment at Tuwaitha, near Baghdad, and were building two full-scale facilities at Tarmiya and Ash Sharqat, north of Baghdad. However, when the war broke out, only a few separators had been installed at Tarmiya, and none at Ash Sharqat.

The Iraqis were also very interested in centrifuge enrichment, and had been able to acquire some components including some carbon-fibre rotors, which they were at an early stage of testing.

They were clearly in violation of their NPT and safeguards obligations, and the IAEA Board of Governors ruled to that effect. The UN Security Council then ordered the IAEA to remove, destroy or render harmless Iraq's nuclear weapons capability. This was done by mid 1998, but Iraq then ceased all cooperation with the UN, so the IAEA withdrew from this work.

The revelations from Iraq provided the impetus for a very far-reaching reconsideration of what safeguards are intended to achieve.

North Korea

In contrast, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) provides an example of safeguards succeeding in their aim of detecting a violation of safeguards obligations. It was subsequently brought to the attention of the international community through the UN Security Council.

The DPRK acceded to the NPT in 1985 as a condition for the supply of a nuclear power station by the then USSR. However, it delayed concluding its NPT Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA, a process which should take only 18 months, until April 1992.

During that period, it brought into operation a small gas-cooled, graphite-moderated, natural-uranium (metal) fuelled "Experimental Power Reactor" of about 25 MWt. It exhibited all the features of a plutonium production reactor for weapons purposes and produced only about 5 MWe. North Korea also made substantial progress in the construction of two larger reactors designed on the same principles, a prototype of about 200 MWt (50 MWe), and a full-scale version of about 800 MWt (200 MWe).

In addition it completed and commissioned a reprocessing plant for the extraction of plutonium from spent reactor fuel. That plutonium, if the fuel was only irradiated to a very low burn-up, would have been in a form very suitable for weapons. Although all these facilities at Yongbyon[?] were to be under safeguards, there was always the risk that at some stage, the DPRK would withdraw from the NPT on some pretext and use the plutonium for weapons.

One of the first steps in applying NPT safeguards is for the IAEA to verify the initial stocks of uranium and plutonium to ensure that all the nuclear material in the country have been declared for safeguards purposes. While undertaking this work in 1992, IAEA inspectors found discrepancies which indicated that the reprocessing plant had been used more often than the DPRK had declared. This suggested that the DPRK could have weapons-grade plutonium which it had not declared to the IAEA. Information passed to the IAEA by a Member State (as required under the IAEA's Statute) supported that suggestion by indicating that the DPRK had two undeclared waste or other storage sites.

In February 1993 the IAEA called on the DPRK to allow special inspections of the two sites so that the initial stocks of nuclear material could be verified. The DPRK refused, and on 12 March announced its intention to withdraw from the NPT (three months notice is required). In April 1993 the IAEA Board concluded that the DPRK was in non-compliance with its safeguards obligations and reported the matter to the UN Security Council. In June 1993 the DPRK announced that it had "suspended" its withdrawal from the NPT, but subsequently claimed a "special status" with respect to its safeguards obligations. This was rejected by IAEA.

Once the DPRK's non-compliance had been reported to the UN Security Council, the essential part of the IAEA's mission had been completed. Inspections in the DPRK continued, although inspectors were increasingly hampered in what they were permitted to do by the DPRK's claim of a "special status". However, some 8,000 corroding fuel rods associated with the experimental reactor have remained under close surveillance.

Following bilateral negotiations between DPRK and the USA, and the conclusion of the agreed framework in October 1994, the IAEA has been given additional responsibilities. The agreement requires a freeze on the operation and construction of the DPRK's plutonium production reactors and their related facilities, and the IAEA is responsible for monitoring the freeze until the facilities are eventually dismantled. The DPRK remains uncooperative with the IAEA verification work and has yet to comply with its safeguards agreement.

Iraq was defeated in a war, which gave the UN the opportunity to seek out and destroy its nuclear weapons program as part of the cease-fire conditions. The DPRK was not defeated, nor was it vulnerable to other measures, such as trade sanctions. It can scarcely afford to import anything, and sanctions on vital commodities, such as oil, would either be ineffective, or risk provoking war.

Ultimately, the DPRK was persuaded to stop what appeared to be its nuclear weapons program in exchange, under the agreed framework, for about $US5 billion in energy-related assistance. This included two 1000 MWe light water nuclear power reactors based on an advanced US System-80 design. there was also the prospect of diplomatic and economic relations with the USA.

South Africa

One further case of attempted nuclear weapons proliferation should be mentioned. Here, the state concerned had a nuclear power program producing nearly 10% of the country's electricity, whereas Iraq and North Korea only had research reactors.

In 1991, South Africa acceded to the NPT, concluded a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA, and submitted a report on its nuclear material subject to safeguards. However, the IAEA's initial verification task was complicated by South Africa's announcement that between 1979 and 1989 it built and then dismantled a number of nuclear weapons. The IAEA was asked by South Africa to verify the conclusion of its weapons program.

In 1995 the IAEA was able to declare that it was satisfied all materials were accounted for and the weapons program had been terminated and dismantled.

Threshold States

India and Pakistan (with Israel) have been "threshold" countries in terms of the international non-proliferation regime, possessing, or quickly capable of assembling one or more nuclear weapons. Their nuclear weapons capability at the technological level was recognised (all have research reactors at least) along with their military ambitions, and all remained outside the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which 186 nations have now signed. They are thus largely excluded from trade in nuclear plant or materials, except for safety-related devices for a few safeguarded facilities.

In May 1998 India and Pakistan each exploded several nuclear devices underground. This heightened concerns regarding an arms race between them, with Pakistan involving China, an acknowledged nuclear weapons state. Both countries are opposed to the NPT as it stands, and India has consistently attacked the Treaty since its inception in 1970.

Relations between the two countries are tense and hostile, and the risks of nuclear conflict between them have long been considered quite high. Kashmir is a prime cause of bilateral tension, its sovereignty being in dispute since 1948. There is persistent low level military conflict due to Pakistan backing a Muslim rebellion there.

Both engaged in a conventional arms race in the 1980s, including sophisticated technology and equipment capable of delivering nuclear weapons. In the 1990s the arms race quickened. In 1994 India reversed a four-year trend of reduced allocations for defence and despite its much smaller economy, Pakistan was expected to push its own expenditures yet higher. Both have lost their patrons: India, the former USSR, and Pakistan, the United States.

But it is the growth and modernisation of China's nuclear arsenal and its assistance with Pakistan's nuclear power programme and, reportedly, with missile technology, which exacerbate Indian concerns. In particular, Pakistan is aided by China's People's Liberation Army, which operates somewhat autonomously within that country as an exporter of military material.


Nuclear power for civil use is well established in India. Its civil nuclear strategy has been directed towards complete independence in the nuclear fuel cycle, necessary because of its outspoken rejection of the NPT. This self-sufficiency extends from uranium exploration and mining through fuel fabrication, heavy water production, reactor design and construction, to reprocessing and waste management. It has a small fast breeder reactor and is planning a much larger one. It is also developing technology to utilise its abundant resources of thorium as a nuclear fuel.

It has 14 small nuclear power reactors in commercial operation, two larger ones under construction and ten more planned. The 14 operating ones (2548 MWe total) comprise:

  • two 150 MWe BWRs from USA, which started up in 1969, now use locally-enriched uranium and are under safeguards,
  • two small Canadian PHWRs (1972 & 1980), also under safeguards, and
  • ten local PHWRs based on Canadian designs, two of 150 and eight 200 MWe.

The two under construction and two of the planned ones are 450 MWe versions of these 200 MWe domestic products. Construction has been seriously delayed by financial and technical problems. In 2001 a final agreement was signed with Russia for the country's first large nuclear power plant, comprising two VVER-1000 reactors, under a Russian-financed US$ 3 billion contract. The first unit is due to be commissioned in 2007. A further two Russian units are under consideration for the site. Nuclear power supplied 3.1% of India's electricity in 2000 and this is expected to reach 10 per cent by 2005. Its industry is largely without IAEA safeguards, though a few plants (see above) are under facility-specific safeguards.

As a result India's nuclear power program proceeds largely without fuel or technological assistance from other countries. Its power reactors have been among the worst-performing in the world (re capacity factors), reflecting the technical difficulties of the country's isolation, but are apparently now improving significantly.

Its weapons material appears to come from a Canadian-designed 40MW "research" reactor which started up in 1960 (well before the NPT), and a 100MW indigenous unit in operation since 1985, both using local uranium (India does not import any nuclear fuel). It is estimated that India may have built up enough weapons-grade plutonium for a hundred nuclear warheads.

The country has at least three other research reactors including the tiny one which is exploring the use of thorium as a nuclear fuel, by breeding fissile U-233. In addition, an advanced heavy-water thorium cycle is under development.

India exploded a nuclear device in 1974 which it has consistently claimed was for peaceful purposes. Others saw it as a response to China's nuclear weapons capability. It was then universally perceived, notwithstanding official denials, to possess, or to be able to quickly assemble, nuclear weapons. In 1997 it deployed its own medium-range missile and is now developing a long-range missile capable of reaching targets in China's industrial heartland.

In 1995 the USA quietly intervened to head off a proposed nuclear test. The latest tests are unambiguously military, including one claimed to be of a sophisticated thermonuclear device, and their declared purpose is "to help in the design of nuclear weapons of different yields and different delivery systems".

Indian security policies are driven by:

  • its determination to be recognised as the dominant power in the region;
  • its increasing concern with China's expanding nuclear weapons and missile delivery programs; and
  • its obsession with Pakistan, with its presumed nuclear weapons capability and now the clear capability to deliver such weapons deep into India.

It perceives nuclear weapons as a cost-effective political counter to China's nuclear and conventional weaponry, and the effects of its nuclear weapons policy in provoking Pakistan is, by some accounts, considered incidental. India has had an unhappy relationship with China. Soundly defeated by China in the 1962 war, relations were frozen until 1998. Since then a degree of high-level contact has been established and a few elementary confidence-building measures put in place. China still occupies some Indian territory. Its nuclear weapon and missile support for Pakistan however is currently a major bone of contention


In Pakistan, nuclear power is insignificant in terms of total energy production and requirements, supplying only 1.7% of the country's electricity. It has one small (125 MWe) Canadian PHWR nuclear power reactor from 1971 which is under international safeguards, and a 300 MWe PWR supplied by China under safeguards, which started up in May 2000. A third one, a Chinese PWR, is planned. Enriched fuel for the PWRs will be imported from China.

It also has a 9 MW research reactor of 1965 vintage, and despite denials there are persistent reports of another "multipurpose" reactor, a 50 MW PHWR near Khushab[?], which is presumed to have potential for producing weapons plutonium.

Pakistan's concentration is on weapons technology, particularly the production of highly enriched uranium suitable for nuclear weapons, utilising indigenous uranium. It has at least one small centrifuge enrichment plant. In 1990 the US Administration cut off aid because it was unable to certify that Pakistan was not pursuing a policy of manufacturing nuclear weapons, though this was relaxed late in 2001. In 1996 USA froze export loans to China because it was allegedly supplying centrifuge enrichment technology to Pakistan. Indian opinion is in no doubt about Pakistan's nuclear weapons capability.

Pakistan has made it clear since early 1996 that if India staged a nuclear test, it had done the basic development work and would immediately start assembling its own nuclear explosive device. It is assumed to now have enough highly-enriched uranium for up to 40 nuclear warheads.

In April 1998 Pakistan test fired a long-range missile capable of reaching Madras in southern India, pushing home the point by naming it after a 12th century Muslim conqueror. This development removed India's main military advantage over Pakistan.

Pakistan's security concerns derive from India's possession of a nuclear weapons capability, its development of short and intermediate-range missiles and, since their partition in 1947, its defeat by India in two of three wars, notably in East Bengal, now Bangladesh.


The public stance of the two states on non-proliferation differs markedly. If anything, Pakistan appears to have dominated a continuing propaganda debate.

Pakistan has initiated a series of regional security proposals. It has repeatedly proposed a nuclear free zone in South Asia and has proclaimed its willingness to engage in nuclear disarmament and to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty if India would do so. It has endorsed a United States proposal for a regional five power conference to consider non-proliferation in South Asia.

India has taken the view that solutions to regional security issues should be found at the international rather than the regional level, since its chief concern is with China. It therefore rejects Pakistan's proposals.

Instead, the 'Gandhi Plan[?]', put forward in 1988, proposed the revision of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which it regards correctly as inherently discriminatory in favour of the nuclear-weapon States, and a timetable for complete nuclear weapons disarmament. It endorsed early proposals for a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and for an international convention to ban the production of highly enriched uranium and plutonium for weapons purposes, known as the 'cut-off' convention.

The United States has, for some years, and more vigorously under the Clinton administration, pursued a variety of initiatives to persuade India and Pakistan to abandon their nuclear weapons programs and to accept comprehensive international safeguards on all their nuclear activities. To this end the Clinton administration has proposed a conference of nine states, comprising the five nuclear-weapon States, Japan, Germany, India and Pakistan.

This and previous similar proposals have been spurned by Indian observers. India countered with demands that other potential weapons states, such as Iran and North Korea, should be invited, and that regional limitations would only be acceptable if they were accepted equally by China. The USA would not accept the participation of Iran and North Korea and such initiatives have lapsed.

Another, more recent approach, centres on the concept of containment, designed to 'cap' the production of fissile material for weapons purposes, which would hopefully be followed by 'roll back'. To this end India and the United States jointly sponsored a UN General Assembly resolution in 1993 calling for negotiations for a 'cut-off' convention. Should India and Pakistan join such a convention, they would have to agree to halt the production of fissile materials for weapons and to accept international verification on their relevant nuclear facilities (enrichment and reprocessing plants). In short, their weapons programs would be thus 'capped'. It appears that India is now prepared to join negotiations regarding such a Cut-off Treaty, under the UN Conference on Disarmament.

Bilateral confidence-building measures between India and Pakistan to reduce the prospects of confrontation have been limited. In 1990 each side ratified a treaty not to attack the other's nuclear installations, and at the end of 1991 they provided one another with a list showing the location of all their nuclear plants, even though the respective lists were regarded as not being wholly accurate. Early in 1994 India proposed a bilateral agreement for a 'no first use' of nuclear weapons and an extension of the 'no attack' treaty to cover civilian and industrial targets as well as nuclear installations.

Having promoted the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty since 1954, India dropped its support in 1995 and in 1996 attempted to block the Treaty. Following the 1998 tests the question has been reopened and both Pakistan and India have indicated their intention to sign the CTBT. Indian ratification may be conditional upon the five weapons states agreeing to specific reductions in nuclear arsenals. The UN Conference on Disarmament has also called upon both countries "to accede without delay to the Non-Proliferation Treaty", presumably as non-weapons states.

Both India and Pakistan will have noted that the agreement between the United States and North Korea over the future of its nuclear program shows that would-be nuclear weapons states can be handsomely rewarded for nuclear intransigence. It is clear that some political figures in India and Pakistan perceive the North Korean Agreement as an exercise in successful blackmail against western powers. Hence India is certain to use its increased leverage to political effect internationally, as the world comes to terms with a new, declared nuclear weapons state.


Israel is also thought to possess an arsenal of potentially up to several hundred nuclear warheads, but this has never been openly confirmed.

An Israeli nuclear installation is located about ten kilometers to the south of Dimona, the Negev Nuclear Research Center[?]. Its construction commmenced in 1958, with French assistance. The official reason given by the Israeli and French governments was to build a nuclear reactor to power a "desalination plant", in order to "green the Negev". The purpose of Dimona is widely assumed to be the manufacturing of nuclear weapons, and the majority of defence experts have concluded that it does in fact do that. However, the Israeli government refuses to confirm or deny this publicly, a policy it refers to as "ambiguity".

When the United States intelligence community discovered the purpose of Dimona in the early 1960s, it demanded that Israel agree to international inspections. Israel agreed, but on a condition that US, rather than IAEA, inspectors were used, and that Israel would receive advanced notice of all inspections.

Some claim that because Israel knew the schedule of the inspectors' visits, it was able to hide the alleged purpose of the site (manufacturing of nuclear weapons) from the inspectors, by installing temporary false walls and other devices before each inspection. The inspectors eventually informed the U.S. government that their inspections were useless, due to Israeli restrictions on what areas of the facility they could inspect. In 1969, the United States terminated the inspections.

In 1986, Mordechai Vanunu, a former technican at Dimona, revealed to the media some evidence of Israel's nuclear program. Israeli agents kidnapped him from Italy, drugged him and transported him to Israel, and an Israeli court then tried him in secret on charges of treason and espionage, and sentenced him to eighteen years imprisonment.

See also: nuclear disarmament, nuclear weapon, nuclear reactor, nuclear warfare, United Nations, Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

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