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Friday, 1st February 2013

Nuclear Trade Controls: Minding the gaps

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

From Executive Summary:

The merits of nuclear trade controls for helping stem proliferation have been strenuously debated for decades. Some have maintained that the policy of secrecy and denial that the United States pursued in the aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a failure and that, instead, sharing the peaceful benefits of nuclear energy under nonproliferation controls and conditions has helped build key elements of the global regime to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. Others argue that international nuclear trade increases the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation. The first view highlights a country’s motives for acquiring nuclear weapons such as national security concerns, domestic politics, or national prestige and emphasizes providing security assurances and building norms, rules, and institutions to discourage the spread of these weapons. The second view stresses technological capabilities and the likelihood that the diffusion of nuclear technology makes proliferation more likely. This view targets denying countries know-how and equipment. Both view-points have merit, and both need to be taken seriously.

Most of the nine countries that possess nuclear weapons today acquired their nuclear arsenals primarily through dedicated military programs, clandestine and illegal procurements, and deliberate assistance from nuclear-weapon states and not through the diversion of imported civil nuclear materials and equipment subject to nonproliferation controls. Most civil nuclear programs are peaceful in nature, and the vast majority of states with such programs are abiding by their nonproliferation commitments. Suppliers have employed their nuclear trade policies as a means of establishing the widely accepted principle that states wishing to take advantage of the peaceful applications of nuclear energy must make effective commitments not to misuse that technology for nuclear explosive purposes and to accept adequate verification of those obligations.

Nevertheless, international peaceful nuclear commerce and assistance carry with them real risks of diversion to nuclear weapons.

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Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

Adrian can be reached at adrian.janes@freepint.com

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