Siddharth Varadarajan

Journalist | Writer | Analyst

G8 statement ignores disarmament

There’s loads of advice and fatwas for others but the Heiligendamm statement is silent on the nuclear weapons states’ obligation to get rid of their arsenals and the new ‘Cold War’ that is threatening the security of the world thanks to the U.S. pursuit of missile defence.

9 June 2007
The Hindu

G8 statement ignores disarmament

Siddharth Varadarajan

NEW DELHI: Apart from a stray reference to the “three pillars” of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), one of which is disarmament, G8 leaders issued a declaration on non-proliferation that seeks to restrict the access of countries, including NPT members, to civil nuclear technology but contains not one word on the nuclear weapons states’ treaty obligation to get rid of their arsenals.

Four of the G8’s members — Britain, France, Russia and the United States — are nuclear weapon states. The U.S. is conducting research work on a new generation of nuclear bombs as well as on missile defence. Britain recently took a controversial decision to spend billions of dollars to retain its Trident nuclear weapon system without knowing which nuclear adversary it was trying to deter. Russia has responded to the U.S. missile defence challenge — including the proposed deployment of “early warning” radars in Poland and the Czech Republic with new missile tests and a threat to retarget Europe with its nuclear weapons.

Though the G8 leaders undoubtedly discussed these issues behind closed doors, the four-page “Heiligendamm statement on non-proliferation”, issued Friday, remains silent on the new `Cold War’ that is threatening the security of Europe, Asia and the world.

Instead, it repeats prescriptions aimed at tackling other dangers, real and notional, and threatens to consider “alternative strategies to reduce the proliferation risks associated with the transfer of enrichment and reprocessing goods and technologies” if the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the 45-nation cartel of the world’s major nuclear technology-capable countries, fails to agree to tighter rules by next year.

The statement also repeats verbatim a paragraph on India from the 2006 G8 summit declaration in St. Petersburg, which begins by noting that the eight leaders look forward to reinforcing their partnership with India.

“We note the commitments India has made, and encourage India to take further steps towards integration into the mainstream of strengthening the non-proliferation regime so as to facilitate a more forthcoming approach towards nuclear cooperation to address its energy requirements, in a manner that enhances and reinforces the global non-proliferation regime,” the statement says.

Indian officials say the roundabout formulation reflects the lack of a clear consensus within the G8 on how to view the Indo-U.S. nuclear agreement of July 2005. However, insofar as the statement encourages India to implement the steps it committed and promises “a more forthcoming approach towards nuclear cooperation” in return, it is clear that the two G8 members most ambivalent about allowing nuclear trade with India — Japan and Germany — are ready to go along with the emerging consensus.

But the U.S.-led push to tighten the NSG’s trading rules on reprocessing and enrichment could pose a challenge to New Delhi, especially if this is used to limit the proposed scope of nuclear cooperation with India as and when the cartel considers changing its rules.

On other non-proliferation issues, the G8 statement reiterates the group’s well-known positions: urging all states to observe a moratorium on nuclear weapon test explosions, urging universal adherence to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Model Additional Protocol, and supporting expedited negotiations on the Fissile Materials Cut-off Treaty.

While demands are made usually on Iran of full compliance with United Nations Security Council resolutions to suspend all nuclear enrichment activity, the G8 statement this year adds two significant sentences. It wants the UNSC to fulfil its role as the “final arbiter of the consequences of non-compliance” and says the group is “committed to resolving regional proliferation challenges by diplomatic means.”

Multilateral approaches

The G8 also stressed the importance of “developing and implementing mechanisms of multilateral approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle as a possible alternative to pursuing national enrichment and reprocessing activities.”

Among the models it endorsed were the Russian proposal on multinational centres providing fuel cycle services and the U.S.-led Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP).

However, in an attempt to allay the concern of many countries that the multinational approach would be used to make them give up national facilities, the G8 statement says participation in any multinational arrangement should be “voluntary.”

4 comments on “G8 statement ignores disarmament

  1. Anonymous
    June 20, 2007

    No Sid, it is as much about defence as it is about geopolitics. I donot know whether it has got anything to do with Reaganic rhetoric, it is certainly a technological breakthrough. Even if there is rhetoric, it is certainly not an issue here. Americans have proved that it is possible to establish the shield against the incoming missiles. Also the rhetoric is certainly not like the one emanating from India. Every year you hear about missiles with longer ranges being launched only to wonder where is the original research taking place in India to come up updated versions every few months. Is it IIT, ISRO or VSSC? Being a person involved in optimising underwater missile trajectory, I had an opportunity to witness the following in ISRO and VSSC recently. With 10’o clock arrival, 11’o clock tea/vadai, 12’o clock lunch (all at the expense of the tax payers), 1’o clock Kumudam/Ananda Vikatan reading, 2’o clock chat about family issues, 3’o clock discussion on the office politics, and 4’o clock departure, you wonder whether these Scientists from designation A-Z are capable of developing new technology or buying the Russian technology and giving Indian names. For these ‘kinathu thavalais’ the world only revolves around ‘the national sovereignty’ and nothing more so that you can justify huge invements into these aimless, targetless labs in our own elite INDIAN institutions.Bairavi

  2. Sid
    June 16, 2007

    Mr Anonymous,Who said missile defence is about defending against missiles. It is about geopolitcs and rhetoricRead this

  3. Anonymous
    June 14, 2007

    well missile defence which US is proposing is useless as according to this comprehensive report prepared by American scientists –Report of the American Physical Society Study Group on Boost-Phase Intercept Systems for National Missile Defense: Scientific and Technical IssuesRev. Mod. Phys. 76, S1 (2004) (424 pages)

  4. Anonymous
    June 11, 2007

    There are few issues which will NEVER happen in the next 25 to 30 years.1. Nuclear Disarmament.2. US Security Council Expansion.There is no point even dreaming about these issues. It is better to be practical and plan assuming that these issues will never get addressed.

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This entry was posted on June 9, 2007 by in International Security, Nuclear Issues.



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