SYSTEMATIC UNITED STATES DISREGARD OF ITS TREATY OBLIGATIONS JEOPARDIZES NUCLEAR NONPROLIFERATION AND GLOBAL SECURITY
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Source: Institute for Energy and Environmental Research.
Download: full report, executive summary, and appendices.
For release after 10 a.m., Thursday, April 4, 2002, National Press Club news conference
For further information contact:
P R E S S R E L E A S E
Arjun Makhijani: (301) 270-5500
Bob Schaeffer: (941) 395-6773
SYSTEMATIC UNITED STATES DISREGARD OF ITS TREATY
OBLIGATIONS JEOPARDIZES NUCLEAR NONPROLIFERATION
AND GLOBAL SECURITY
New Report Concludes Five Countries - United States, France, Britain, Japan, Germany
- Appear to Violate Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Terms
Washington, D.C., April 4: The United States is disregarding crucial treaty obligations and
creating a dangerous slide away from the rule of law into a power-based world that is likely to
be far more insecure, according to a detailed analysis of U.S. policies and actions in relation
to major security-related treaties released today. The new study, Rule of Power or Rule of
Law? An Assessment of U.S. Policies and Actions Regarding Security-Related Treaties,
was prepared jointly by two non-profit groups, the Institute for Energy and Environmental
Research (IEER) and the Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy (LCNP).
"The United States has violated, compromised, or acted to undermine in some crucial way
every treaty that we have studied in detail," said Nicole Deller, principal editor and co-author
of the report. "Recent shifts of U.S. policy toward greater reliance on military force, including
nuclear weapons, as the main component for securing the people of the United States from a
variety of threats sets a dangerous course and a poor example." Ms. Deller, a lawyer, was a
consultant to IEER and LCNP during the preparation of the report.
The study concludes that five of the signatories to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
(CTBT) - the United States, France, Britain, Japan, and Germany - appear to be violating it
already, though they claim to be in compliance. The apparent violation involves the planned
laboratory thermonuclear explosions in huge new laser devices being built in the United States
(the National Ignition Facility) and in France (Laser Mégajoule). The devices would be used
for experiments aimed at producing thermonuclear explosions of as much as ten pounds of
"The CTBT bans all nuclear explosions, even if the devices in which they are carried out
cannot be weaponized," said Dr. Arjun Makhijani, president of IEER and a co-author of the
study. "It also bans all activities that are designed to encourage or cause nuclear explosions.
The explanations that the United States Department of Energy has offered to suggest that the
planned explosions in NIF comply with the CTBT simply do not stand up to scrutiny. There is
some evidence of an agreement between a few states, not known to all the parties, to brush
this issue under the rug." Britain is helping fund the U.S. laser project. Subsidiaries of a
Japanese company Hoya, and a German company, Schott, are supplying the highly
specialized glass that would be used to make the lasers.
Rule of Power or Rule of Law? concludes that the United States is also flouting its
obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).
"The January 2002 Nuclear Posture Review makes a mockery of U.S. commitments under
the NPT," said Dr. John Burroughs, executive director of LCNP and a co-author of the
study, and an expert in international law as it relates to nuclear weapons. "The disclosure of a
variety of options for use of nuclear weapons, including by preemptive attack, against
non-nuclear weapon states, are contrary to a commitment to a 'diminishing role for nuclear
weapons in security policy' made less than two years ago."
An advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice in 1996 unanimously concluded that
the NPT requires nuclear weapons states not only to negotiate but also to actually achieve
nuclear disarmament "in all its aspects." The study argues that a failure to fulfill treaty
commitments when it involves some constraints on the part of the United States will
undermine the security of the people of the United States. Global cooperation is needed, the
authors say, to detect materials that may be used in dirty bombs, to ensure that international
cargo does not contain hidden nuclear weapons, and to create comprehensive accounts of
nuclear materials to reduce the risk of proliferation.
"The September 2001 attacks on the United States point to the urgent need to marginalize
nuclear weapons and intensify global cooperation on nuclear weapons and nuclear materials,"
said Dr. Burroughs. "Instead, the United States has adopted an irrational policy of elevating
the role of nuclear weapons in its overall military strategy. This will reduce U.S. and global
security, not increase it."
The report makes an important connection between the build up of greenhouse gases and
security and concludes that the United States is violating the United Nations Convention on
Global Climate Change. Ratified by the United States in 1992, it obligates wealthy countries
to take the lead in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
"If food production conditions changes and vast areas of the world are flooded, climate
change could create millions or tens of millions of refugees," said Dr. Makhijani. "This would
pose serious economic and security concerns, in addition to environmental ones. The Bush
Administration's plan to reduce greenhouse gas 'intensity' does not come close to complying
with the Convention on Climate Change by a long shot."
The report details evidence that U.S. policy is drifting away from regarding treaties as an
essential element in global security to a more opportunistic stand of abiding by treaties only
when it is convenient. "The United States is setting itself above the rules and rejecting the
notion that treaties are instruments among equals, in which all parties give up something and
get something," said Ms. Deller. "This is a perilous direction for the United States, which gave
the world the very concept of the rule of law. If the United States sets itself up above the law,
and bases itself on the rule of power instead, what's to stop other countries from doing the
The report recommends that the United States:
- Unconditionally ratify the CTBT and abandon plans for laboratory thermonuclear
- Commit itself to irreversible nuclear arms reductions and help set in motion a process
leading to a global agreement to eliminate nuclear weapons in fulfillment of its NPT
- Reassess its unilateral withdrawal from the ABM treaty and commit itself to negotiated
- Re-engage in the process to create a verification regime under the Biological Weapons
- Set itself long-term goals for large reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to comply
with its climate change obligations and re-engage in the Kyoto Protocol process on that
The other treaties that the report examines are: the Chemical Weapons Convention, the
Treaty Banning Anti-Personnel Mines, and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal
Court. It contains recommendations for action on each.
Contact numbers for other authors: John Burroughs and Nicole Deller: 1-212-818-1861.
The report Rule of Power or Rule of Law? will be posted on IEER's web site by early afternoon
Thursday, April 4, 2002.
Download: full report, executive summary, and appendices.
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