Clinton Accentuates Nuclear Concerns
PRESIDENT Clinton's first major foreign-policy address Sept. 27, at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, outlined a nascent, pragmatic, internationalist leadership role for the United States in the post-cold-war world. His doctrine of ``enlargement'' holds that international cooperation, security, and human rights enforcement will create and bolster the movement for free markets and democratic government. It will require, not only an evolution of US foreign policy at both the executive and legislative tiers, but also a major overhaul of the Byzantine-like UN system.
Mr. Clinton cited the production of fissile material and the testing of nuclear weapons as two exigencies that threaten member states. He urged greater cooperation to prevent nuclear proliferation and deter the development of weapons of mass destruction. A critical pillar of ``enlargement'' must be a re-focused, more inclusive International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with greater authority to conduct on-site inspections and security monitoring of all nuclear facilities.
Failure to integrate US facilities into the IAEA's security oversight programs is potentially destabilizing to the nation's long-term interest in promoting compliance among signatory nations to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). This requires frequent IAEA inspections of declared civilian nuclear programs. Traditional concepts of nuclear security and proliferation are challenged by the breakup of the Soviet Union, creating availability of fissionable material to the global black market.
IAEA intelligence-gathering authorizations and methods are dependent on Western intelligence services. And while IAEA's sources and techniques are vastly improved after the embarrassing revelations of Iraq's extensive nuclear weapons program and the complicity of Western corporations in selling restricted technology to Iraq before the Gulf war, the recent refusal by Iraq and North Korea to comply with inspection procedures highlights the shortcomings of the agency. Without the right to inspect on demand, the IAEA is left depending on selectively enforced sanctions by UN Security Council nations that create the perception that the IAEA is interfering in the sovereign security and technological development of nationalistic third-world nations. It has to balance the security requirements of the international community while preserving the sovereignty of UN member states.
A STRONG IAEA will be needed in the coming years to ensure compliance with the proposed formal agreement by the US and Russia to remove tactical nuclear weapons from ships; formal agreement with China regarding the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons; a North Pacific nuclear-free zone; Intermediate Nuclear Forces agreements; a no-first-use nuclear treaty, and adherence to a Missile Technology-Control Regime.
Two initiatives would create a solid foundation to build on: First, the UN Security Council and General Assembly should grant the IAEA universal access if it can establish a commission of neutral inspectors who would be acceptable to the international community. Second, Protocols I and II - amendments to the Geneva Conventions that specifically address the rights inherent to civilians during civil conflicts and disturbances, which the US accepted in 1977 but has not ratified because of cold-war strategic considerations - should be ratified as soon as possible. US and UN member nations ratification of Protocols I and II would recognize the IAEA's authority to protect civilian populations during a civil war from nuclear terrorism, nuclear material mismanagement, and smuggling of nuclear contraband when political and legal institutions become ineffective, fail, governmental leadership is in question, or diplomatic recognition is nonexistent.
The Clinton administration has demonstrated a willingness to undertake leadership, management, and participatory roles in the UN system. US support of an independent, nonpolitical IAEA, would significantly increase protection from nuclear terror. The Opinion/Essay Page welcomes manuscripts. Authors of articles we accept will be notified by telephone. Authors of articles not accepted will be notified by postcard. Send manuscripts by mail to Opinions/Essays, One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115, by fax to 617 -450-2317, or by Internet E-mail to OPED@RACHELCSPS.COM.