Security in a nuclear weapons free world : how to cope with the nuclear, biological and chemical weapons threat

Kelle, Alexander


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Dokumentart: Bericht / Forschungsbericht / Abhandlung
Institut: HSFK-Hessische Stiftung Friedens- und Konfliktforschung
Schriftenreihe: PRIF reports
Bandnummer: 50
Sprache: Englisch
Erstellungsjahr: 1998
Publikationsdatum: 30.01.2008
DDC-Sachgruppe: Politik
BK - Basisklassifikation: 89.87 (Waffen, Kampfmittel), 89.77 (Rüstungspolitik)
Sondersammelgebiete: 3.6 Politik und Friedensforschung

Kurzfassung auf Englisch:

This study attempts to answer the question of how security in a nuclear weapons free world can best be achieved. In doing so, it analyzes the most severe security threats such a world might have to face and the responses that can be envisioned to counter these threats. The study departs from the conventional approach in so far as it starts from the assumption that the difficult transition phase down to a level of zero nuclear weapons has been managed successfully and that a NWFW already exists. However, it is not assumed in this study that a world free of nuclear weapons will be a world free of risks or security threats. Quite to the contrary, a number of security threats are conceivable and have to be taken seriously. Those stemming from the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) will be investigated systematically. Security threats emanating from a conventional military superiority are beyond the scope of this paper and will not be dealt with. In addition, it is not intended to compare the security threats and benefits of a nuclear weapons free world with a world in which nuclear weapons still exist. However, a comparison of the two conceivable model nuclear weapons free worlds will be provided in order to show the pitfalls of a world of so-called “virtual nuclear arsenals”. After an explanation of these two models of a NWFW, i.e. the complete elimination of nuclear weapons and a world without assembled nuclear weapons, the security threats emanating from NBC weapons cited most often in the debates on deep cuts in nuclear arsenals or a nuclear weapons free world are discussed in some detail. These security threats are 1) a nuclear breakout by a) a cheating ex-NWS trying to renuclearize, b) an NNWS allied with a former NWS, or c) a “pariah state” going nuclear; 2) the use or threat of use of biological and/or chemical weapons, Following the explication of these security threats, a set of possible responses will be assessed in terms of their applicability and usefulness to the model NWFW. The responses analyzed include consultation and clarification procedures and mechanisms, the establishment of ballistic missile defense systems, ways of deterring a violation of a NWFW by conventional military means, smart sanctions and positive incentives, and, last but not least, the provision of non-nuclear security guarantees. “Moving” in such a fictional world free of nuclear weapons obviously has to rest on a set of assumptions which can be subdivided into two broad categories. The first concerns relations between states in general terms and is not necessarily directly related to the goal of nuclear disarmament, but nevertheless forms a basic underpinning for the whole endeavour. The importance of these “world order tasks” should by no means be underestimated as a framework for achieving and maintaining a NWFW. The realization of one of the six tasks, however, stands out: the maintenance of stable relations among the major powers. These include not only the current NWS, but also states like Japan, Germany, and a few others. II II While further nuclear reductions are not the most important precondition here (economic and political factors will assume this function), without such stable, non-competitive relations the goal of a NWFW hardly seems achievable. The second category of assumptions is directly related to a NWFW and includes, first and foremost, the verifiability of the absence of nuclear weapons. The verifiability of a NWFW will - for the purposes of this study - be assumed not to cause insurmountable problems. Secondly, it is assumed that the BW- and CW-control regimes will have reached or are at least close to achieving universal participation and that the BW and CW arsenals of the major powers will have been destroyed. Additional characteristics of a NWFW will be outlined in the section on what exactly constitutes up such a world. The study concludes that security in a NWFW is achievable and does not require the implementation of an unrealistic new world order, featuring a world government or the like. The responses which can reasonably be expected to be available for countering the threats emanating from “NBC desires” that a very limited number of identifiable states may still harbor can be expected to be sufficient for the task. As the analysis shows, the motivations for a clandestine acquisition of nuclear weapons in a NWFW in general are low and can be expected to be strongest in pariah states which find themselves in international isolation, feel threatened by their external environment and are governed by an idiosyncratic leadership. In former nuclear weapons states as well as in nonnuclear weapons states which enjoy stable and friendly external relations, the motivation to acquire WMD for security or prestige reasons or for the support of military action can be assumed to be at least close to, if not absolutely zero. Similarly, CBW use is most likely to be contemplated by a regional aggressor facing a conventionally superior intervention force. These NBC threats might occur in a world in which the normative framework against the possession and use of these categories of weapons will be much more developed than in today´s world. The continuous fulfillment of the six “world order tasks” will provide an international environment conducive to the realization of these norms. In addition, the limited number of states who qualify as suspects for NBC proliferation will be known and on the radar screen either of great powers, or of international organizations tasked to implement the NBC conventions, or of both. This should make it possible to calibrate the mix of responses to the individual perpetrator. However, none of the responses which are available in cases of both nuclear and CBW breakout scenarios should be expected to do the job alone. A composite approach that can be confined to the conventional level seems most promising in dealing with potential proliferators. The first line of defense against any conceivable threat scenario will be formed by consultation and clarification mechanisms and procedures, or more broadly, diplomacy. Although this may sound banal, it is not: opponents of drastic nuclear disarmament steps or the complete elimination of nuclear weapons more often than not portray a NWFW as a world in which one would inevitably be confronted with abundant threats to national survival, with hardly any time to react and certainly no time to engage in lengthy discussions or diplomatic activities. It is by no means certain that this will have to be so. On the contrary, the CWC already disposes of a set of useful provisions, and the protocol to the III BWC currently under negotiation can be expected to contain a similar set of provisions. Negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention will certainly not set lower standards than those established in the context of CBW. This means that the critical point might not necessarily be the availability of consultation and clarification procedures, but rather the inability to come to decisions on how to proceed in case of evidence of a violation within a reasonable time-frame, especially if the - long overdue - reform of the UN Security Council cannot be achieved before a NWFW is established. Defense and protection against WMD will also have to play an important role in a composite strategy for securing a NWFW. While missile defenses against WMD attack will clearly be limited in their impact on an aggressor´s ability to effectively disseminate either nuclear weapons or CBW agents, passive defenses against the latter categories of weapons will be essential in countering CBW threats in a NWFW. On the basis of the assumption that CBW use by a regional aggressor is the most likely scenario, one cannot assume that conventional deterrence will always work. Consequently, it is imperative to limit the damage in case deterrence fails. A limited number of casualties will make possible a limited response, keeping potential destruction as low as possible. However, in case the war aim is set as high as the defeat, disarmament and reform of a regional aggressor, CB defenses will again be instrumental in achieving this aim. Smart sanctions and positive incentive, provide another useful tool in addressing a WMD breakout, short of actually waging a war to redress a situation. Sanctions and conditional incentives can be adapted to a variety of violations and transgressions, singling out those in a non-compliant state who bear the responsibility while at least attempting to limit damage to the (presumably) larger part of the population not involved in the WMD related activities. To the extent that the severity of the violation increases and conditional incentives give way to first smart and then all-out economic sanctions, the ability of the imposing states to address those in charge either individually or as a group will increasingly be lost. Yet the ability to differentiate between a regime leadership and its population is also limited in a war, especially when it comes to punishing counter-value or counter-population strikes by conventional military means. This leads to the role and functions of conventional deterrence in a NWFW. Although the above discussion of conventional deterrence cannot be more than a first sketch of a much more thorough analysis to come, it already seems clear at this point that the old cold war inspired concept of conventional deterrence focusing on a massive Soviet attack on Western Europe is largely outdated. It may retain some relevance in a regional context in which two or more smaller states unite with the aim of deterring a conventionally superior regional great power. On a more general level, however, dynamic deterrence postures will have to be developed which are oriented towards the identifiable suspects and take into account their behavioral characteristics. These conventional deterrence postures will have to be updated regularly so that they reflect evolving threat scenarios. The actual use of conventional military force after deterrence “has failed” will almost certainly represent one of the triggers for such an update. Such an anticipated conventional retaliation might appear a very unpleasant prospect to some. However, certain regions of the world might at times present themselves as rather unpleasant places - the occurrence of NBC proliferation in any country would certainly qualify for that characterization - requiring commensurate responses, one of IV IV which would be the use of conventional military means to restore security and international peace. All these measures provide an impressive array of policy tools which make it possible to address the threat to use or an actual attack involving WMD. We can therefore conclude that achieving security in a NWFW by conventional (military) means is not an “unconventional mirage”, and we should make a NWFW in the true sense of the word the declared endstate of all disarmament and non-proliferation efforts and start laying out the roadmap showing us the way towards this goal. Although a number of proposals have already been made for further disarmament steps on the path leading to zero nuclear weapons, the crucial question of which steps to take in which order needs as much further research as the question of how to integrate the disarmament process in a wider security framework, so as to increase the security of states while the individual disarmament steps are pursued. In addition to further reducing the numbers of nuclear weapons, it will be absolutely essential to focus on the establishment of an adequate institutional framework for a NWFW. Currently, both the normative environment and the organizational structures related to disarmament measures are insufficiently developed for a NWFW. Furthermore, security guarantees have to be re-conceptualized so as to divest them of their nuclear connotations.

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