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Control Of Nuclear, Chemical And Biological Weapons No. 419

Adopted 1992
Reaffirmed 1993
Reaffirmed 1994
Amended 1997
Amended 1998
Amended 1999
Amended 2001
Amended 2003
Amended 2006
Amended 2007

Now that nuclear confrontation between Russia and the U.S. is a diminished threat, it is vital to focus on the dire threat to human populations from the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons in the U.S. and abroad. The threat stems not only from the danger that these terrible weapons may be used but also from unsafe storage and disposal of unused weapons, components, and byproducts.

With Russia and the U.S. now committed to drastic reductions in such weapons, pressures must be exerted for all powers possessing them to make similar reductions.

Most important, authorized U.N. agencies must be allowed full and unrestricted rights of inspection and appropriate controls in order to limit the development, transfer to or acquisition of such devastating weapons by other nations.

The Bush Administration has yet to stop the development of new nuclear weapons, such as nuclear “bunker busters.” For decades, the United States has been working on low-yield nuclear weapons which is clearly in violation of Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Recently, funding for the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP), a low-yield nuclear weapon detonated underground in order to destroy buried targets, was ceased, but the new Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) appears to be developing a weapon that is very much akin to the “bunker buster.”

The government is planning a test, the Divine Strake, to see what a “small” nuclear explosion would look like underground and how it would affect underground passages and tunnel ways. Termed by news outlets to be a conventional explosion, this 700 ton detonation of Ammonium Nitrate Fuel Oil (ANFO) is far from conventional. Tests of this magnitude have been carried out before in order to test the explosive power of nuclear weapons. The Divine Strake had been planned to occur in June 2006, but it was delayed and has not been executed as of June 2007. We recommend that the United States halt this test and cease all actions related to the testing of new nuclear weapons.

Additionally, India and Pakistan, non-signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, have now exploded nuclear bombs. Under Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty:

“Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

We call for the gradual and total elimination of all existing nuclear weapons worldwide, and for the worldwide cessation of production of and research on nuclear weapons. A plan of UN- sponsored inspection should be included to hold all parties accountable. Although the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) was signed on May 24, 2002, it does not address strategic nuclear warhead destruction or tactical nuclear weapon limits, the ground-breaking measures that were suggested within the START III framework.

Talks between U.S. and Indian officials regarding India’s right to continue with its nuclear program continue. A deal with India could include overturning a more than thirty year old sanction on the sale of civilian nuclear technology. The United States should not be rewarding India for violating the non-proliferation treaty.

Even with inspections, an additional safe-guarding-strengthening agreement is needed that would give the International Atomic Energy Agency far greater access to known and suspected nuclear sites in Iran and North Korea. The United States government and international intelligence believe that Iran is using atomic energy programs as a cover for illicit development of nuclear weapons. In addition, North Korea announced on October 9, 2006 that it successfully exploded a nuclear bomb, and the North Koreans continue to enrich uranium and research nuclear technology. More recently, the United States has almost reached a deal to transfer $25 million in frozen funds to North Korea. North Korea will ostensibly disable its nuclear facilities once the funds are received. The United States should proceed very cautiously when bargaining with North Korea. If the funds are in fact transferred, the U.S. must stay true to its promise to force the closure of North Korean nuclear facilities; in addition, international inspections of all facilities must be allowed to ensure their closure. In May 2007, Iran announced the expansion of its nuclear program. The IAEA visited a key nuclear facility and stated that it could not tell if enrichment would be for peaceful purposes or not. U.S. negotiations with India are not helping the situation in Iran, as “rewarding” one country for its nuclear program while punishing another is contradictory. First and foremost, a bipartisan resolution needs to be implemented to oblige Iran and North Korea to submit to international inspections of all of their nuclear facilities.

The U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, which played a major role in successfully preventing nuclear arms proliferation, has been abolished, its experienced staff scattered, and its functions transferred to the State Department, where it is buried among the many other responsibilities of the Department. We favor the revival of an independent Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.

The 1975 Biological Weapons Convention prohibits the development, production and stockpiling of bacteriological (biological weapons) as well as their elimination. However, the United States blocked attempts to negotiate unification measures for the treaty.

The threat of biological weapons has become imminent in view of the 9/11 attacks and anthrax incidents. Thus, a rigorous international monitoring system of biological weapons is essential in order to prevent a catastrophe.

ADA also remains committed to the 1925 Geneva Protocol that effectively banned chemical weapons and its successor, the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1997. It is imperative to prevent the extensive use of poison gas, which in World War I resulted in over a million casualties and 100,000 deaths. Despite efforts to avoid another catastrophe, Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against the Kurdish population, killing 5,000 people in 1987.

Whereas the aforementioned treaties ensure that regimes are held accountable for fulfilling obligations under each treaty, measures to enforce these obligations are not strict enough. The voluntary annual information exchange on confidence-building measures (CBMs) does not constitute sufficient transparency. Mere participation and information provided are not satisfactory.

Therefore, ADA urges government action:

  1. To win Senate approval for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty,
  2. To compel all states to comply with IAEA inspections,
  3. To insist on the creation of greater transparency measures, through increased distribution of information and therefore civil society participation,
  4. To demand that the government halt the development of low-yield nuclear weapons that sends the wrong message to other countries about U.S. willingness to use them preemptively,
  5. To halt contradictory policies concerning India, Iran, and North Korea.
  6. To ban the development of all chemical and biological weapons.


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No. 419
Foreign and Military Policy Commission