If the U.S. did nothing but stop subsidizing known proliferators and started following the law, it would be a major change for the better. If in addition, the U.S. fights proliferation in a peaceful, but competitive fashion as early as these threats are anticipated, the U.S. can not only improve its fight against proliferation, it can win.
Our Nonproliferation Policies Lack Strategic Purpose or Effect: - They are too preoccupied with promoting international support of nonproliferation agreements at the expense of enforcing their norms. - To secure these agreements, they are too eager to compromise and cooperate with proliferators at the expense of stigmatizing or leveraging their bad behavior. - Because they generally avoid casting proliferators as entities that oppose US security interests, they lack a vision capable of clearly defining what's a nonproliferation success.
What Should We Do? Take Nonproliferation Controls More Seriously: - stop ignoring U.S.nonproliferation sanctions laws - stop directly subsidizing known proliferators - stop making proliferators nonproliferation regime members (which, frequently exempts them from U.S. sanctions and gives them freer access to strategic technology -- e.g., the IAEA and Western assistance to Iraq nuclear program in the 70s and 80s).
Fight Proliferation As Soon As It's Anticipated Rather Than After Its' Realized: - Start grappling with proliferation threats with the first intelligence reports -- 10-15 years before these threats might be realized -- rather than 10-15 months ahead when the most popular option is to "manage" these problems through appeasement - Tailor long-term strategies against the worst of the proliferation threats so that they either never emerge (e.g., Argentina) or are defused peacefully (e.g., South Africa). -Don't just devise defenses to limit the possible damage that key proliferators might inflict, devise ways to pit our relative strengths against them in peaceful offensives that will restrain them and eventually transmute them into less hostile regimes much as the Cold War did with the Soviets (see "Next Century Nonproliferation").
Have Congress Demand the Above Through Routine Budgetary Oversight - Rather than limit itself to doing annual budget reviews of the $80 million counterproliferation budget, Congress should identify and line-item the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent to fight proliferation, do routine oversight of this activity and hold this funding hostage to performance.
The China Case: What's Wrong - The U.S. is more concerned about China saying it supports the NPT and the CTB than it is about taking effective action so they don't violate these regimes. - Thus, U.S. officials repeatedly praise China for its willingness allow them to claim that China has agreed to adhere to the NPT, CWC, and MTCR even when China's unwilling to affirm such agreements publicly and violates them repeatedly.
- Worse, U.S. officials allow direct U.S. government support of the entities most guilty of proliferation -- the Chinese rocket and nuclear entities U.S. intelligence has identified -- arguing that such commerce will help wean them away from their proliferating ways. - Finally, when China does clearly proliferate, U.S. officials preemptively assume it is a mistake or the result of misguided greed, instead of commerce that is literally paying China to realize its strategic aims to 1) contain its most significant potential competitor in South West Asia --India: 2) upset the ability of its most significant potential Pacific competitor, the U.S., to maintain Western access to Persian Gulf oil and assure Middle East peace; and 3) underwrite the modernization of China's nuclear, strategic rocket, and space forces.
China: What's Needed Enforcement of U.S. nonproliferation sanctions laws:
o Congress should be concerned not only with the Administration's unwillingness to sanction the sale of ring magnets to Pakistan (for which the White House deigned to issue a waiver), but China's M-Family missile assistance to Pakistan and SCUD upgrade and production technology to Iran; its chemical weapons assistance to Iran; and its sale of anti-shipping missiles to Iran, where the White House has behaved as if nothing happened and not even issued sanctions waivers as required by law.
An End to U.S. Subsidies of Known Proliferators:
o DoE-funded AP-600 power reactor cooperation and $800 million in Ex- Im Bank guaranteed loans to complete reactors for China National Nuclear Corp. should be killed until PRC stops nuclear weapons aid to Pakistan and publicly commits to do so. U.S. high -end computer/software sales to PRC strategic weapons facilities also should be killed.
o State and Commerce Department-approved transfers of U.S. satellites to the Chinese missile entities helping Iran and Pakistan should be banned until such missile trade stops.
o The Securities and Exchange Commission should be tasked to reexamine its recent approval of Chinese bonds for sale on the U.S. bond market to make sure that none of the U.S.-raised funds ends up subsidizing Chinese proliferators (i.e., the PLA).
A Moratorium on Making Proliferators Members of Nonproliferation Regimes: o In China's case, the U.S. has undermined the leverage it once had to sanction those helping China modernize its strategic rocket forces -- Russia and the Ukraine -- and over one of the most significant consumers of PRC missile technology -- Brazil. The reason why is the U.S. made Ukraine an MTCR "adherent" for purposes of law and Russia and Brazil members. As such, these nations cannot be sanctioned under U.S. law. This recommends: 1) changing U.S. law to eliminate sanctions exemptions for nonprolifera- tion members and "adherents" and 2) making sure the Executive does not try to fix the Chinese proliferation problem by making China an "adherent" for purposes of law.
An Effort to Anticipate Rather than React to Proliferation Threats: o Congressional focus on developing missile defenses is sound but needs to be complimented by at least as much discussion and debate over our nonproliferation policies, which too frequently accelerate the very threats we must defend against (e.g., China).
o Congress has been briefed by virtually every agency and official responsible for managing proliferation crises after they break but by virtually none of those responsible for anticipating and defusing these problems in advance. CIA's Integrated Regional Threat Group within the Office of Weapons Technology Proliferation and DoD's Office of Net Assessment are perhaps the only places that this work is being done. Yet, Congress has never asked them to testify. This sends a dead wrong message:That reacting to proliferation after it's realized is more important to Congress than anticipating and defusing it.
Routine Budgetary Oversight of Our Fight Against Proliferation: o The number of officials (600-plus) and offices dedicated to fighting proliferation (over 60) are growing so fast, the Executive spends thousands annually simply to get a notional directory of who's who. Congress, should ask the GAO to detail who's spending what and, then, routinely ask the Executive to explain what we're getting for our money.
Next Century Nonproliferation: Victory Is Possible By Henry Sokolski
Since the first nuclear explosion in 1945, day-to-day combat against strategic weapons proliferation has been conducted almost exclusively by specialists. This specialization has kept the fight refined but made victory elusive. What follows is a three-step corrective. First, if the fight against proliferation is ever to be won, senior policy makers and bureaucrats must recognize and overcome the limits of "traditional" nonproliferation. Second, they must see U.S. nonproliferation efforts as essential to sustain the recent wave of newly established liberal democracies, a trend that holds out the hope of pacifying international relations if it is not throttled by hostile regimes now acquiring strategic weapons. Finally, U.S. officials must commit themselves to conducting a long-term competition not unlike that the U.S. waged against the Soviet Union -- to keep potentially hostile, proliferating regimes from gaining any lasting advantage over the U.S. or its friends. This nonproliferation effort -- a less desperate, less simple kind of Cold War -- is what the U.S. should be promoting.
Our Current Quandary
As a policy matter, nonproliferation is being taken less and less seriously. The most recent evidence of this was delivered last fall on Capitol Hill. In a puzzling display of nonpartisan politics, Congress exceeded a White House request to allow Pakistan to receive arms that the U.S. was withholding as part of a sanction against Islamabad's nuclear weapons activities. To be sure, there were Senators 13 Republicans and 32 Democrats -- who thought granting this relief was a mistake. Islamabad, they noted, had repeatedly lied to the U.S. about not having a nuclear weapons program. Lifting so much of the nonproliferation sanction now, they warned, implied that its imposition never made sense in the first place. The majority in Congress, however, disagreed. Pakistan, they insisted, had suffered enough. The U.S. had to be realistic about Pakistan's nuclear weapons capabilities. Besides, the arms sales might improve U.S.-Pakistani relations.
For the record, this was the first and only time that the new Republican Congress had ever exceeded a Presidential request. Perhaps the only thing more peculiar was that few, if any, noticed: It was as if it was expected. In fact, Congressional insensibility to nonproliferation matters has become all too familiar. The White House's reluctance to sanction China for nuclear and missile technology sales to Pakistan and Iran, for example, or to penalize Russia for its missile and nuclear technology transfers to Latin America, Iran, and the Middle East has generated little more than inattentive grumbling from Congress. Nor has it been it much different with the President's overly generous nuclear reactor deal with North Korea or his unprecedented decontrol of militarily significant U.S. computers: Consistently, Congress has said or done little.
It's hard to know why. Certainly. emphasizing the threats posed by the continued spread of strategic weapons has helped garner support for missile defenses and tougher anti-terrorism policies. But perhaps nonproliferation -- trying to prevent the spread of strategic weapons and related technology -- is viewed as being unrealistic; something only idealists do. Then, too, if proliferation is inevitable, why deprive U.S. companies of foreign market opportunities? If real proliferation trouble develops, wouldn't it make more sense to handle it militarily with "surgical" strikes and the like?
Perhaps. But such "realism" seems odd, particularly coming from a Congress that seems so reluctant to send American forces in harm's way. In fact, this approach is not just fatalistic, it's a loser. Consider what would have happened if we fought the Cold War this way. Congress and the President would have assumed that communism and its increased popularity were inevitable and followed the worst commercial instincts of America's European and Asian allies by selling Russia the best of Western high technology. Then, as a hedge against the arms build up and adventurism that the Soviets might pursue, we'd threaten Moscow with preemptive military strikes. Clearly, the Cold War was neither waged nor won this way. Nor would it make sense to use this approach in fighting strategic weapons proliferation. After all, like communism, the spread of strategic weapons is hardly inevitable. In the last four years South Africa, Brazil, and Argentina all publicly renounced their nuclear weapons programs (South Africa actually destroying seven of the bombs it built); Taiwan's and South Korea's nuclear weapons efforts have been checked; and nearly all of these countries (but Brazil) still have their long-range rocket programs on hold.
More important, nonproliferation controls and sanctions, like Cold War strategic trade restrictions, can work. In fact, one of the reasons these nations have suspended their strategic weapons efforts is because of the delay and expense nonproliferation restrictions inflicted on these programs. Such controls will never be perfect, but they do help.
Finally, it's one thing to prepare for nuclear war, to protect ourselves and to counter strike and prevail if attacked. It's quite another, however, to launch preemptive strikes or wage strikes or wage preventative wars in vain hopes of eliminating threats. If by "counterproliferation" the U.S. intends to solve its proliferation problems with preemptive "surgical" attacks, the Cold War -- even with its Vietnams and Koreas -- will soon seem a Zion of peace. In fact, the only thing such raids (and U.S. policy pronouncements supporting them) are likely to hit are Third World political nerves. Only a false sense of "realism" could ignore such realities.
Nonproliferation, Mostly With A Vengeance
Knowing what's wrong about the latest in proliferation "realism," however, hardly suggests that what the U.S. has been doing to fight proliferation is all that sound. Indeed, this realism is itself a reaction to a set of overly idealistic views that have dominated traditional nonproliferation. For decades now the arms control community has promoted its view of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. (NPT) as the way to address proliferation threats. As they -- and now the White House -- see it, promoting the NPT's demands that strategic weapons states disarm and share civilian nuclear technology with nations who pledge not to make bombs, is America's best nonproliferation gambit. Yet, promoting this strategy -- which administration officials have now endorsed for addressing all types of strategic weapons proliferation -- can easily be worse than no strategy at all.
Consider what policies this perspective has produced toward North Korea. The President's advisors boast of having kept North Korea from leaving the NPT and getting them to agree to dismantle several suspect nuclear facilities. This pride, however, ignores that our earlier preoccupation with getting Pyongyang to join the NPT is what allowed it to build these "peaceful" nuclear weapons facilities in the first place. It also glosses over that North Korea is still in violation of the treaty today, and, that according to Central Intelligence Agency estimates, has at least one bomb's worth of material secreted away.
These points should matter. Yet, instead of rethinking how the traditional NPT approach helped cause the North Korean problem, the U.S. simply employed it again in 1994 in hopes of keeping North Korea from leaving the treaty. How? By again shaping an NPT-based deal: In exchange for $4 to $6 billion in modern power reactor technology, the U.S. secured Pyongyang's pledge not to make any more nuclear weapons materials in declared facilities and a promise that they will allow us to look for the material we think they have secreted away sometime after these reactors are built ten or more years from now.
This approach to nonproliferation is not limited to things nuclear. Indeed, the U.S. is now trying to extend it to missile proliferation and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Announced in 1987, this export control regime was supposed to keep the number of nations with large missiles as small as possible by restricting missile technology transfers. Not any longer. Now, in an effort to "universalize" its application and open the regime up to proliferating nations who were once its key targets, White House officials have chosen to expand the MTCR's membership and liberalize previous trade restraints on "peaceful" rocket and drone technology.
Instead of sanctioning Russia and Brazil last year for cooperating in the development of a "peaceful" nuclear-capable rocket, as U.S. law authorizes, then, the U.S. took a more "diplomatic" approach. The White House waived sanctions for both countries, sponsored their immediate entry into the MTCR, and praised them for their professed commitment to international nonproliferation norms. Again, this "progress" came at a cost: Brazil's military is still publicly emphasizing that its space launcher, once completed, can be converted into an intercontinental ballistic missile overnight. Also, as late as the end of the Bush Administration this project's top technicians were in Baghdad helping Saddam build rockets during Desert Shield and then went on to hock rocket expertise in Teheran. As for Russia, it still has not come clean on all of its violations of the MTCR (as suggested by the U.N.'s interception late last year of Russian rocket guidance systems destined for Iraq).
Administration officials, operating under the traditional NPT approach find none of these facts particularly compelling. Instead, they insist that the U.S. must show that it is serious about making the MTCR less "discriminatory." How? Give Russia and Brazil (and nations like them) an incentive to pledge their adherence to nonproliferation norms. Free up Western supplies of missile technology to them for "peaceful" purposes, admit them into the MTCR, and, (coincidentally) make them exempt from missile proliferation sanctions under U.S. law.
The application of such policy "logic" is not limited to nations who claim to adhere to nonproliferation norms. The U.S. has also applied it to nations who are unlikely to adhere or even join the key nonproliferation regimes. Thus, last fall the U.S. Department of Energy announced that it was going to lend nuclear reactor safety assistance to India to strengthen India's commitment to nuclear safety and the "peaceful" use of nuclear energy. India, who has refused to sign the NPT, however, is currently using its "peaceful" nuclear power plants to make weapons materials.
In another case, this January, the U.S. invited six Chinese nuclear engineers to come to the U.S. to study America's most advanced light water reactor design. The idea, here, State Department officials explained, was to show the Chinese the potential peaceful nuclear benefits of adhering to nonproliferation norms (U.S. law prohibits U.S. reactor sales to China until it adheres to the NPT). The engineers, however, are likely to come from the Chinese firm that the U.S. is likely to sanction for selling ring magnets to Pakistan's nuclear weapons effort. Meanwhile, U.S. intelligence agencies have determined that China has been assisting Pakistan and Iran's nuclear, chemical and missile programs.
Getting It Right
Should the U.S. abandon its enthusiasm for tying its nonproliferation policies to the NPT? If it means continuing to interpret the NPT the way U.S. officials currently are, then, the answer is yes. But an alternative is available. The U.S. could insist that the NPT and all other nonproliferation agreements be read to reflect their original intent to prevent strategic weapons spread rather than to promote international technological equality or U.S. nuclear disarmament.
It might well be diplomatic to indulge smaller nations' complaints that the U.S. has not yet eliminated its nuclear arsenal, agreed to suspend nuclear testing, or facilitated the "fullest possible exchange" of "peaceful" nuclear technology and hardware as called for under the NPT. But it's a mistake to suppose that the U.S. must immediately commit to treaty-like obligations on these points to uphold its end of the nonproliferation bargain. In fact, the NPT only speaks of nuclear weapons states' obligation to make good faith efforts toward arms reductions and specifies that nations' have an "inalienable right" to develop nuclear energy only if it is "in conformity with" the treaty's prohibitions against the "direct or indirect" transfer or acquisition of nuclear weapons.
This, in turn, suggests that NPT safeguards for "preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons" ought to consist of more than what nations have currently agreed to. Effective safeguards should do more than have a good chance of detecting diversions; they should be effective and warn early enough to help prevent them. With militant, secretive nations, like Iran and North Korea, such safeguards are hardly possible. Nor is it feasible to safeguard certain strategic materials (e.g., plutonium and highly enriched uranium) or activities (e.g., enrichment or reprocessing) since these bring nations within hours or days of acquiring the very weapons safeguards are targeted against.
These dangerous materials and activities can be monitored. But this is not the same as safeguarding, which requires not just detection, but timely warning of a diversion -- i.e. an alarm that goes off early enough to enable an outside party to intervene to block a military diversion from being completed.
Pretending that existing inspections meet this criteria (when they clearly don't) might bolster the current NPT regime's popularity but at the cost of spreading unsafeguardable nuclear technology. Indeed, given that the commercial use of nuclear weapons usable fuels is unprofitable and unnecessary for generating power, candor about the impossibility of truly safeguarding such materials and related facilities is essential. This might upset Nigeria, Iran, and Indonesia, who like the present NPT "regime", but it would suggest a much sounder understanding of the treaty and make the NPT far more sustainable in the long-run.
These same points apply to missile technology. One might want the MTCR to allow freer commerce in missile technology among MTCR members (this, in order to give members a clear "incentive" to adhere) or to suggest that the MTCR is only concerned about "offensive" or "unsafeguarded" missiles. But pursuing these lines of argument (as our government is currently doing) has little to do with the MTCR's original intent and even less with preventing missile proliferation.
In fact, the MTCR's guidelines are quite clear on the need to control any missile technology transfers -- including those relating to "inoffensive" space launch vehicles, sounding rockets, target drone, and reconnaissance drones made either within or outside the MTCR -- that could "contribute" to a "nuclear-capable missile." Thus, the MTCR requires that all such transfers be considered "on a case-by-case basis" (whatever their destination or announced intent) and recommends a "strong presumption of denial" unless these transfers are made to nations or organizations grandfathered under the agreement -- NATO (circa 1987), Japan, or the former Warsaw Pact.
As for safeguarding "peaceful" space launchers and drones, one might as well attempt to safeguard "peaceful" nuclear explosives. Indeed, large rockets and drones are the aerospace equivalent of such explosives. With a mere change in firing angles, rockets and drones can be converted to military use overnight. Instead of firing a rocket at 90 degrees for peaceful satellite launches, a 45 degree angle can be used to target one's adversary. Similarly, large, high-endurance reconnaissance drones programed to loiter and then return home can just as easily be programed to strike enemy targets. Inspecting these unmanned systems might allow you to monitor their use but in no way would this be a safeguard (i.e., give you timely warning -- enough time to intervene to prevent their possible military use).
Beyond Nonproliferation: A Democratic Wave?
Certainly, reforming our current nonproliferation policies to reflect these realities is overdue. Existing nonproliferation agreements and laws can be reinterpreted to do this and this would at least prevent these regimes from making matters worse. Yet, clarifying what's truly safeguardable and making nonproliferation sanctions and regime membership criteria tougher are hardly sufficient to prevent determined nations from acquiring strategic weapons.
Ultimately, the only protection against such proliferators is to get them to change their minds about needing such weapons in the first place. Such conversions may seem idealistic but they have happened before and are likely to keep happening.
Countries that once had active nuclear weapons programs -- like South Africa, Argentina, and Brazil -- have put them on hold. Why? As these nations became more democratic, their militaries' ability to make costly weapons covertly waned as did the threats these nations perceived from their neighbors.
Additional democratic conversions of this sort are likely. Consider the trends: Although it took all of recorded history to produce the 30 democracies existent in 1960, it took only another 30 years to produce an additional 30. This tendency, in part is driven by economics. Indeed, there is a strong correlation between countries' earned (not accidental -- e.g.. oil -- or/)legitimate -- pilfered) per capita income, which has risen dramatically in the last 40 years, and their probability of being or becoming democratic. As earned per capital incomes have risen, so have the number of democracies. What will the world look like in the next 30 years? The income gap between developed and underdeveloped nations will continue to close, educational and health standards will rise and at least another 15 nations should go democratic.
Will this reduce the threat of war? Critics say no, that the world's liberalization does not guarantee its pacification, that the roots of national antagonisms are too deep, emotionally and historically. They even argue that democratic nations, such as Germany and Japan, may turn against us. Perhaps, but it is difficult to believe that the Germany and Japan of the 1930s has much to do with these nations today. Indeed, one of the few benefits of the Second World War was destruction of the social climate that made Imperial Japan and NAZI Germany possible. All things being equal, then, democratic nations -- Germany and Japan included -- are far less likely to go to war against other liberal states.
Yet, things are rarely equal. Japan and Germany could remilitarize, but not out of ambition so much as out of fear of the possible exceptions to the democratic trend like China, North Korea, Russia, and radical Islamic nations. These "exceptions" are worrisome. As per capita incomes rose in the 70s and 80s in Iran and Iraq, militant hostility to Western nations and liberalism increased and shows no signs of abating. Moreover, the correlation between income and democracy seems to be generally negative among Arab Islamic states.
The Peoples Republic of China (PRC) is also a worry. Incomes are rising but in the short and medium term there's no guarantee that this will lead to democracy or peace as the old regime clings to power. Indeed, if anything, many analysts see Communist China as one of America's and its allies' most likely military competitors. Nor can the Chinese State Committee's nonproliferation pledges be taken very seriously. To the extent this regime chooses to define China's security interests in a fashion that is at odds with those of the U.S. and its allies, its view of what is a proliferation threat (e.g., its export of what it calls "defensive" missiles to Pakistan and Iran) will clash with our views and those of our friends.
Similarly, The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)( is unlikely to observe nonproliferation norms. U.S. officials have asked it to adhere to MTCR guidelines but it still sells SCUDs to Syria and Iran. As for nuclear activities, it is constantly threatening to resume production of nuclear weapons materials at known facilities unless it gets its way in continuing negotiations for two modern U.S.- designed power reactors. And it still prefers to intimidate South Korea with military maneuvers rather than sit down and negotiate peaceful unification.
Finally, there are Russia and the Ukraine. Here the problem is structural poverty: Too much socialism compounded by a lack of government or the rule of law, too little protection of persons or property. With so many strategic weapons and related production centers, Russia and Ukraine cannot help but pose military and proliferation risks.
What's Needed: A More Competitive Strategy
These exceptions are significant and are unlikely to go away anytime soon. The question is what should the U.S. do about them? From a nonproliferation stand point, the U.S. has generally presumed that the worst proliferators can be persuaded somehow to adhere to international norms of good behavior. Thus, the U.S. and France insisted on frequent international inspections of Iraq's "peaceful" nuclear program in the late 1970s and demanded that Algeria join the NPT when in 1991 it was caught secretly constructing an unsafeguarded Chinese reactor. A similar approach was taken with North Korea, Russia and China when they were caught violating their nonproliferation pledges: The U.S. got these nations to promise not repeat their errant behavior and then offered them access to more Western strategic technology.
Such bargaining has been the rule in the 1990s as well save for two exceptions: Iraq and Iran. For these nations, the U.S. has insisted that internationally safeguarded strategic technology be denied along with financial credits that might enable these nations to become fiscally independent. The premise here is that Iran and Iraq's current governments are untenable, but until they give way to more peaceable regimes, we should do nothing to fuel their offensive ambitions.
Given Iran and Iraq's political, financial, and military weaknesses and the West's relative economic strengths, this strategy may work. More important, it suggests the kind of long-term effort that the U.S. and its friends should be attempting elsewhere. Instead of stressing America's relative weaknesses in its fight against proliferation -- its diplomatic inclination to court and make agreements with its enemies and commercial disinclination to impose stiff export controls or trade sanctions -- the U.S. should leverage our superior market economy, high technology, and successful democratic politics to contain and transmute the worse proliferation threats.
What would this mean in the case of North Korea? Instead of trying to keep North Korea from renouncing its membership in the NPT (by pumping a dying tyrannical regime with oil and political recognition), the West might try to unify the Peninsula on terms acceptable to the South. This would take time and money but no more initially than the decade and billions planned to be spent merely to keep North Korea from making more nuclear weapons materials. More important, unlike the defeatist strategy the U.S. is now pursuing, a peaceful offensive aimed at unification is a contest in which the U.S. and its allies hold the economic and political winning cards. After all, both North and South Korea claim they favor unification but all the North has to offer to accomplish this are threats of war. South Korea and its friends, on the other hand, have the cash to rebuild the North and political and economic systems that are far more attractive than Communism.
With Russia, the U.S. might do better to deemphasize simply consolidating nuclear materials under the former Soviet General Staff's control and begin to focus more on the twin dangers of remilitarization and leakage. Indeed, if the U.S. is truly concerned about loose Russian nukes, leaving growing amounts of nuclear weapons materials under Moscow's weak (but increasingly nationalistic) control is, at best, a provisional answer. Here, as Brian Chow of RAND has suggested, the U.S. should appeal to Moscow's desire for superpower recognition by offering jointly to remove proportionate amounts of U.S. and Russian (and, perhaps later, other nations') nuclear materials to agreed neutral locations where it might be monitored effectively to prevent theft and or quick remilitarization.
As for China. the U.S. officials must stop despairing that any reaction to Peking's proliferant behavior (other than American appeasement or inattention) will jeopardize U.S.-Sino relations and, instead, focus on the kind of pacific Chinese foreign policy we want. Indeed, the U.S. should see China's proliferation transgressions as early opportunities to shape U.S.-Sino security relations through the use of selective, precisely-targeted economic and defense cooperation sanctions. Such penalties should be tailored to demonstrate to Peking that proliferation is simply not worth the cost by being relatively cheap for the U.S. to impose but costly to relevant aspects of Chinese commerce and prestige.
Instead of threatening to cut off Most Favored Nation status -- an act that would hurt the U.S. nearly as much as it would Peking -- more selective actions might be considered. When Peking threatens to sell missile technology to Iran and Pakistan or to "test" missiles off Taiwan's coast, the U.S. must be willing early on to target the specific Chinese aerospace firms involved and let U.S. contractors cooperate with Taiwan on missile defenses (thus, demonstrating U.S. resolve to increase its security. ties with Taiwan if China persists in threatening it militarily).
Similarly, when Peking threatens to sell dangerous nuclear technology to Pakistan and Iran, the U.S.should highlight existing U.S. law, which requires a cut off of limited U.S. nuclear commerce and military assistance and ask France and Germany to hold off making new nuclear contracts with China until these matters are resolved. Also, given the Chinese military's need for foreign capital, Peking (and the PLA) should be extremely sensitive to any moves that might lower China's credit rating or access to U.S. bond markets.
In the case of India and Pakistan (where the U.S. has far less commercial activity than in China), a truly competitive strategy should attempt to do more than merely penalize bad proliferation behavior; it should use America's powerful economic influence to foster Indo-Pakistani commerce. Such commerce is critical for peace. Indeed, political extremists have been able to dominate Indo-Pakistani disputes precisely because the moderator of economic intercourse is virtually absent. A debate on opening commerce to India is currently being waged in Pakistan; the U.S. should not be neutral. Just as the U.S. should be willing to penalize Pakistani attempts to expand its nuclear and missile arsenal, it should encourage efforts to increase economic comity by making it easier for Pakistan and India to secure international and private U.S. loans. Such positive incentives are far more likely to foster peace in concert with affording or denying one side military assistance than working the later alone.
Of course, none of this is to suggest that the U.S. should abandon its efforts to defend against proliferation. We must do all we can to limit the damage strategic weapons might inflict on our homeland, forces or operations. Indeed, providing for such defenses has been part of U.S. military planning since the use of chemical weapons in World War I. And, yes, once war has begun, knocking out an adversary's strategic capabilities is a sensible way to limit such harm.
At the same time, military defenses (including counter offensive capabilities) are rarely perfect and are never strategies themselves. This is doubly true in combating weapons of proliferation concern: These arms, by definition, are weapons against which we lack adequate military countermeasures. The idea that U.S. forces can neutralize or "counter" such weapons with surgical preemptive strikes, leak-proof defenses or foolproof electronic or optical spoofing is simply naive. Indeed, defending and counter offending militarily are less prescriptions for victory against proliferation than they are for avoiding the pain of defeat. To be truly competitive against proliferation, the U.S. and its friends must do more than fend off the worst. They must be willing to engage in the type of long-term competition that produced our triumph over the Soviets.
This more serious competition is the one the U.S. has yet to join and it's understandable why. No one wants enemies. Yet, when one speaks of competitors, most diplomats mistakenly assume that any nation, so described, must be a foe. Yet, we compete with friends and allies in a variety of ways peacefully (trade and cultural wars, etc.) all the time. With whom do we need to compete to curb proliferation? Iran, Iraq, and North Korea, should get priority,along with China and Russia (particularly the military and organized crime entities within) if they continue to proliferate.
A Less Desperate, Less Simple Cold War?
What's at least as important as who we target in fighting proliferation is that we consider our efforts as a part of a calmer, more complex successor to the Cold War. Like the strategy of containment that we pursued in hopes that the Soviets' inherent weaknesses and contradictions would give way to a more peaceable regime, we now need to commit ourselves to several long-term competitions.
Progress here, however, presumes that senior politicians will choose to engage in the day-to-day battles currently being waged unassisted (and unguided) by nonproliferation specialists. Until these experts' mistaken NPT mantra is corrected, U.S. nonproliferation efforts are more likely to encourage proliferation than stop it. Progress also requires that U.S. policy makers have a larger vision of victory than merely preventing strategic weapons from spreading: Nonproliferation must not only be effective in blocking or deterring specific transfers, it must help protect liberal democracies. Indeed, only when the fight against strategic weapons proliferation is tied properly to this larger effort will the dangers of traditional nonproliferation and the pitfalls of the latest flawed realism be avoided.