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16. Nuclear arms control




The past year was highlighted by Ukraine's accession to the NPT as a
non-nuclear weapon state and the subsequent entry into force of the
START I Treaty. The entry into force of the Treaty concluded one of the
key pieces of `unfinished business' left over from the cold war and paved the
way for further reductions in Russian and US strategic nuclear arsenals. It
also marked an important milestone in settling the contentious legacy of the
former Soviet nuclear arsenal.

The resolution of the diplomatic impasse over START I was facilitated by
the intensified bilateral denuclearization cooperation between the USA and
Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine. US-funded Cooperative Threat Reduction
programmes shifted decisively from the negotiation to the implementation phase,
as large-scale financial and material assistance began to be delivered to the
former Soviet republics. The bulk of this assistance was earmarked for
strengthening central control over former Soviet nuclear weapons, improving
their physical security and safety, dismantling warheads and disposing of the
fissile materials they contain.

International efforts to halt the spread of nuclear weapons continued to occupy
a prominent place on the arms control agenda. Seven states acceded to the NPT
as non-nuclear weapon states, and regional non-proliferation efforts made some
headway. A framework agreement was reached between North Korea and the USA that
held out the prospect of resolving a serious crisis over North Korea's nuclear
programme. Despite these hopeful developments, the future of the NPT remained
clouded in the run-up to the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference.

The nuclear arms control agenda is by no means completed. Ratification of
START II is in jeopardy as opposition to the accord mounts in the Russian
Parliament. International efforts to negotiate a legally binding global ban on
the production of fissile material for weapons were in 1994 stalled in the
Conference on Disarmament (CD).

The progress made in eliminating nuclear weapons has added new issues to the
arms control agenda. The disposal of fissile materials from dismantled nuclear
warheads poses a serious technical and financial challenge for both Russia and
the USA. They have been unable to reach agreement on a dismantlement regime
with reciprocal inspection arrangements and on cooperative measures to increase
the transparency of national stockpiles of fissile materials.

The major post-cold war trend in nuclear arms control continued in 1994: the
emergence of `deals' in which nuclear weapons or nuclear weapon capabilities
are exchanged for financial and other assistance. Although this approach proved
to be fruitful, concerns have been expressed that it could gradually become a
counterproductive `reward' system for would-be proliferator states.


Appendix 16A. Nuclear weapon destruction


With the implementation of the 1987
US-Soviet Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and with the START I
and II treaties, the dismantlement of nuclear weapons is creating a substantial
and rapidly growing surplus of weapon-usable fissile material.

Warhead dismantlement has been proceeding in both the USA and Russia at a rate
of about 2000 warheads per year. Since each warhead contains some 3 kg of
plutonium and 15 kg of HEU, this process is releasing about 6 tonnes of
plutonium and 30 tonnes of HEU per year in each country.

It is important to make the elimination of these weapons as irreversible as
possible to avoid the proliferation dangers associated with the fissile
material removed. The difficulty lies in eliminating fissile material. HEU can
be dealt with by blending it down for use as reactor fuel, but there is no such
procedure for plutonium and effectively dealing with the proliferation danger
inherent in plutonium stockpiles requires substantially more effort.