The Moscow conference on the Treaty of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) took place on September 6-8, 2012.
The nuclear programs of North Korea and Iran and the old idea in a new shape of making the Middle East a non-nuclear zone (as is known it is hindered by the fact of Israel being a nuclear state) were not the only issues on the agenda.
The conference focused on the prospects and obstacles in the way of strengthening the broader non-proliferation regime.
NPT basic problems
Sergey Ryabkov, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, confirmed the Russian view that the Treaty was the cornerstone of international nuclear non-proliferation regime. All new problems could and should be settled within its framework.
According to the representative of Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs numerous critics, who called for revision of the treaty’s basic provisions or even its abrogation, were unable to come up with anything equal to the existing legal system that continues to favorably influence the non-proliferation regime.
Naturally the broad representation of participants facilitated the exchange of confronting views.
Many a time the “big nuclear five” – permanent UN Security Council members – were reproached for being in a privileged position. For instance, during deliberations devoted to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) the members of Pakistan’s delegation emphasized the fact that the leading nuclear states came up with the idea to conclude the treaty after having conducted hundreds of nuclear explosions and modernizing their nuclear forces.
Other states, including Pakistan, had no time to do it and need to continue tests to guarantee their security.
A North Korean speaker said that being a nuclear superpower the USA continued to enhance the potential to guarantee its superiority while preventing the emergence of new nuclear states. He stressed that for the time being North Korea refrained from tests, but it was closely monitoring the security situation.
The larger were the scale of joint US-South Korean military exercises conducted near the North Korean border the more insecure the country felt, like any other country would under the circumstances. That’s why Pyongyang stuck to the kind of “never say never, we’ll see” stance on the issue of new tests ban.
At the same time the forum participants stressed the CTBT was useful and necessary. General Raghavan (India) said although the treaty was not signed and ratified by many states, still it worked de-facto.
There are 250 monitoring facilities deployed globally to monitor nuclear activities. It has made impossible to conduct clandestine nuclear tests and hide the facts of nuclear accidents.
For instance, the safeguards equipment detected a small scale nuclear explosion conducted by North Korea in 2006. What stands in the way of CTBT coming into force de jure?
According to the Indian representative the reason was the refusal of the USA and China to become parties to the treaty. He said the majority of other non-participants watched them. In case they changed their minds and ratify the document, many others would follow their example including India.
Effective national security guarantees
The issue of double standards came to the fore many a time at the conference. For instance many Russian participants raised again their concern over the US missile defense deployment near the country’s border.
The most disturbing thing is that the missile defense program tends to extend geographically and enhance its technical capabilities. It started in the form of the limited “third” position area in Poland and the Czech Republic to extend later to the South encompassing Romania, Turkey and the Black Sea.
In 2011 the USA announced the plans to deploy the Aegis combat systems in the Persian Gulf. The same thing is happening in the Far East involving the US allies – Japan and South Korea. Tokyo is building its own “regional” missile defense. Being an integral part of the US global system it just strengthens the concern on the part of Moscow and China.
More and more US mobile missile defense systems are deployed along the borders of the Russian Federation.
The United States nuclear potential tends to change the status of deterrence for doctrinal status of a weapon destined for use. It takes place against the background of more frequent use of force by the United States passing over the United Nations and continuous support of “color revolutions” around the world.
The following factors reflecting the gap between the US declarations and practical deals raise concern among Russia’s military experts:
– the nuclear threats declared by Washington are hardly substantiated, missile defense positions are not the best in order to detect and intercept Iranian and North Korean ballistic missiles;
– the program is not transparent (the US doesn’t provide confirmation the announced characteristics are real);
– the fact of deploying missile defense systems along the Russia’s borders helps to gain air superiority on the part of the USA in case of conventional armed conflict;
– the possibility of using missile defense components for nuclear strikes (technically it’s not a big thing to substitute conventional warheads with nuclear ones);
– as a result in case the third and the fourth phases of the Phased Adaptive Approach are implemented according to the existing plans Washington would acquire the capability to rapidly deploy the mobile missile defense components in different parts of the world and correspondingly to weaken the Russia’s deterrence potential in 5-8 years;
Taking it all into account the Russian President D.Medvedev made a quite tough statement in September 2011. It said the further development of the situation may force Russia to take measures in response to strengthen national security and restore the balance of forces. The measures announced included the deployment of Iskander mobile theater ballistic missile in the Kaliningrad region along with other steps to counter the threat.
The reports have appeared recently that Russia plans to introduce an up-to-date analogue of the most powerful ballistic missile of all time – the RS-20, or SS-18, nicknamed “Satan” in the West. The previous version of the missile was eliminated in the 1990s.
At present Moscow deems necessary to take the following steps to prevent the renewal of arms race:
– to receive legally binding guarantees that missile defense systems will not target Russia;
– to receive the guarantees no missile defense striking components will be deployed in the Black, Barents and Baltic seas;
At the same time it should be noted the Russia position also has a weak point. By taking steps to bolster its defense capability Russia is not ready to recognize that some other states have the right to do the same thing.
For instance, Russian and North Korean experts come up with by and large the same assessments concerning the threats coming from the USA. The both parties emphasize the US malpractice of adopting a new doctrine after signing the START – III with Russia in 2010 (came into force in 2011).
The document made precise in concrete terms that going nuclear by NATO presupposed the use US and NATO nuclear potentials. The cooperation with the United Kingdom allows Washington to enjoy unilateral advantages.
As a result the reductions made by Russia and the USA have no relation to London. The interaction of nuclear planning has always existed within the framework of NATO Defense Planning Committee and the Nuclear Planning Group. It has made Moscow take into consideration the nuclear potentials of all NATO states, not the USA only. But the US NATO allies are not involved in the process of any cuts.
There have been instances that have become known, when the intercontinental ballistic missiles taken from the US arsenal as a result of reductions in accordance with the Treaty were deployed on the UK Royal Navy’s nuclear-powered, ballistic missile-carrying submarines.
The North Korean representatives ask if there is any logic concerning the Moscow’s recommendations to bolster their country’s security by international legal guarantees only?
They rightfully say the value and reliability of such guarantees on the part of the USA and the West as a whole were brightly demonstrated in Libya.
The tragic fate of Muammar Gaddafi, who had abandoned his own nuclear program, is an example to draw lessons from. The West displayed much kindness to him for a short period of time. Then he was toppled and killed. It impressed the whole world greatly.
Right now they are trying to do the same thing with Bashar Assad in Syria. The cruel reality makes think twice and not Pyongyang only, but many others as well.
Alexander VORONTSOV, Strategic Culture Foundation