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1 juli 2008

40 jaar 'Nucleaire Non-Proliferatie Verdrag". Documenten en veel nieuwe informatie op NSA website

Global Arms Control Agreement Achieved Despite Doubts by Key Regional Players; Australia's Prime Minister Wanted "Nuclear Option"; Brazil Saw NPT as "Affront to Brazilian Sovereignty"

Washington, DC, July 1, 2008 - Near the end of the protracted negotiations that produced the historic Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) 40 years ago, U.S. government officials warned that countries could legally reach "nuclear pregnancy' under the Treaty and then withdraw and quickly acquire nukes, according to declassified U.S. government documents published on the Web today by the National Security Archive.

The documents detail the well-known resistance to the NPT from countries like India ("China at her back, and Pakistan lurking on the sidelines") but also from more unusual objectors such as Australia (concerned that the Western Pacific security situation might worsen) and Italy (unhappy about the "second-class status" of non-nuclear states). The documents suggest that the current crisis in the NPT system has deep historical roots, but also that current headlines overlook the long-term achievements of the NPT regime.

During the mid-1960s, prior to the NPT, U.S. intelligence had warned that as many as 15 countries had incentives to become nuclear weapons states, but after the Treaty was signed, only five additional countries have developed such weapons (Israel, India, Pakistan, South Africa, and North Korea, while South Africa has renounced them). How much of an impact the Treaty had on keeping the numbers low can be debated, but the non-nuclear standard that it set remains a central goal of the world community to this day.

To commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the signing of the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), 1 July 1968, the National Security Archive publishes declassified U.S. government documents on the negotiation of one of the most significant multilateral arms control achievements of the nuclear age. The declassified record shows that this was a complex and difficult achievement not only because disagreements between Moscow and Washington complicated the talks, but important and influential countries either opposed the NPT outright or had so many reservations that they would not sign in July 1968. The ongoing crisis of nuclear proliferation can be traced back to the 1960s, when it was evident that more than the Treaty was necessary to check a quest for nuclear weapons.

The documents included in this briefing book present evidence of:

* The protracted effort to negotiate Article III providing for safeguards and international Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) inspection, which U.S. officials believed was a "key element in the effort to curb nuclear proliferation."

* Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's opposition to the NPT because it would deny India a nuclear option: "With China at her back, and Pakistan lurking on the sidelines, she foresaw no alternative but to keep open her option on the production of nuclear weapons."

* Brazilian objections to the Treaty as an "affront to...sovereignty" and as an obstacle to developing a capability to produce "peaceful nuclear explosive devices" that the Treaty prohibited.

* The "chain reaction" problem: because India would not support the Treaty, neither would Pakistan. Moreover, with Brazil not signing the Treaty neither would Argentina or Chile.

* The protracted effort to negotiate Article III providing for safeguards and international Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) inspection, which U.S. officials believed was a "key element in the effort to curb nuclear proliferation."

* The complex problem of winning West German adherence to the NPT; special U.S. assurances notwithstanding, Bonn remained on the fence during the months after the negotiations ended, although President Johnson jokingly observed that "the Germans had practically written the Treaty as it stands now."

* Opposition to the NPT in Australia where Atomic Energy Commission officials were confident in their ability to build a nuclear weapon "on short notice" and where the Prime Minister opposed "giving up the nuclear option for a period as long as twenty-five years when [Australia] cannot know how the situation will develop in the area."

* Internal U.S. government debates over whether to issue a declaration assuring the non-use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states.

* As the NPT was nearing UN approval, a State Department analyst pointed out a serious flaw: states could legally reach "nuclear pregnancy" under the Treaty, withdraw from it, and quickly acquire a weapons capability. To reduce that risk, the United States had to maintain a global presence so that vulnerable countries would not feel pressure to make nuclear decisions.

During the years after 1968, important countries like Italy, Australia, and West Germany would overcome their doubts and sign the Treaty; by 1970, enough countries had ratified it to put the NPT into force. Nuclear non-proliferation became a benchmark for international conduct, but the policy tensions and internal contradictions documented above remained enduring problems in world affairs. While Argentina and Brazil eventually signed the NPT, Israel, India and Pakistan remain outside the system. Moreover, NPT signatories, such as South Korea and currently Iran, not seen as risks during the 1960s, would test the limits of the system by undertaking a range of nuclear activities that appeared to conflict with the NPT's spirit, if not its letter. That some countries are willing to take unilateral military action to thwart proliferation risks suggests that more than the NPT system is in crisis. Nevertheless, that the world community could reach a consensus, even a shaky one, forty years ago on such a fundamental goal warrants commemoration as well as recognition that determined efforts at multilateral diplomacy can make a difference.

Visit the National Security Archive's Nuclear Vault for more information about today's posting.
(bron: persbericht NSA)