The Nonproliferation Review

A refereed journal concerned with the spread of nuclear, chemical, biological, and conventional weapons. Featuring viewpoints, articles, and reports on programs, treaties and export controls, terrorism, and the economic and environmental effects of weapons proliferation.
Updated: Jul 13, 2008

Fall/Winter 2000 • Volume 7 • Number 3


The South African Chemical and Biological Warfare Program: An Overview
by Chandré Gould & Peter I. Folb

In 1998, the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) held a first-of-its-kind public hearing into the chemical and biological warfare (CBW) program established under the auspices of the South African Defence Force (SADF) in the early 1980s. Witnesses who gave evidence at the hearing included scientists who had staffed the chemical and biological research and production facilities of the program (Project Coast); the former project officer, Dr. Wouter Basson; and the project manager and former surgeon general. The authors, who conducted a three-year investigation into South Africa’s CBW program in the apartheid era, draw on documents and testimony that were made public during the TRC hearings and the ongoing criminal trial of Dr. Basson. They cover the official justification for Project Coast: the need to counter a perceived threat that chemical weapons might be used against South African soldiers. They then describe the nature of the program and its structure, including the military chain of command, recruitment of scientists, the nature of products researched and developed, international collaboration, and operations linked to the CBW program.

The authors conclude that while Project Coast ostensibly fell under the control and supervision of the military, in reality it was largely designed and executed by Dr. Basson. Although officially proclaimed a strictly defensive program, Project Coast produced irritant gases for crowd control, addictive drugs, and chemical and biological substances for the purposes of killing individuals. The authors argue that South Africa’s CBW program would probably not have succeeded without international support and the complicity of the many scientists involved. In addition, they note that the South African government at the time showed disregard for its obligations as a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention and Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.

Confidence-Building Measures for the BTWC: Performance and Potential
by Marie Isabelle Chevrier & Iris Hunger

This article examines confidence-building measures (CBMs) in the context of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC). It describes CBMs and their development as a concept in international security. It next summarizes CBMs drafted and implemented among the parties to the BTWC in 1986 and 1991, and documents these measures’ subsequent disappointing performance. The limitations of these CBMs prompted treaty parties in 1994 to establish an Ad Hoc Group (AHG) to negotiate a protocol to strengthen the convention’s effectiveness. The AHG is currently negotiating a rolling text and has considered several CBMs as possible elements of the proposed protocol. This article describes the CBMs that have been proposed in these negotiations to strengthen the BTWC and evaluates their potential for building confidence.

The authors find little evidence that CBMs, as defined and implemented in the BTWC, have increased confidence in countries’ compliance or in the effectiveness of the BTWC. The tendency of many countries to neglect the politically binding obligations of the CBMs has eroded initial optimism regarding the potential value of CBMs established in 1986 and 1991. They argue that had a BTWC organization been in place during the last 15 years, it might have contributed toward making the CBMs more useful. The authors also recommend legally binding compliance measures to be included in a BWTC protocol, such as the provision of data on transfers of biological and toxin materials and exchange visits. They conclude that a protocol of legally binding compliance measures, implemented by an independent organization, is the only way to provide constant professional attention to relevant activities in BTWC member states.

Parameters of Stable Deterrence in a Proliferated Middle East: Lessons from the 1991 Gulf War
by Gerald M. Steinberg

This article examines the emerging deterrence system in the Middle East by disaggregating deterrence into four basic components: the cost incurred in the event of war, the credibility of the threat to use a particular weapon, the rationality of the decisionmakers, and the amount and clarity of communication between the actors. Using this framework, it analyzes the Israeli nuclear deterrence policy, and systematically reassesses the interaction between Iraq and Israel prior to and during the 1991 Gulf War.

The author demonstrates that, despite the particular and perhaps unique context, including Iraqi efforts during the Gulf War to trigger Israeli military involvement in order to achieve the political objective of disrupting the US-led coalition, deterrence strategy provided the framework for Israeli decisionmaking. He argues that despite initial fears, decisionmaking on all sides was rational, and catastrophic outcomes were avoided. However, the absence of communication channels and the presence of high levels of misunderstanding and misperception made the deterrence relationship tenuous and uncertain, and in another confrontation or crisis, a successful outcome is far from assured. The author concludes that, given the existing environment, there are no realistic alternatives to deterrence in areas of regional conflict, and some of the alternatives, including the adoption of a preventive or preemptive strategy, are more uncertain and even more destabilizing. Under these conditions, policymakers would be best served by working to reduce the impact of the inherent limitations of deterrence. As demonstrated in the Gulf War case, this means developing channels of communication to prevent misperceptions and misunderstandings, increasing the transparency of decisionmaking, and developing responses that avoid the consequences of the escalation spiral and the commitment trap.

The Impact of National Missile Defense on Nonproliferation Regimes
by James Clay Moltz

The current US debate on national missile defense has centered primarily on the likely impact on Russia’s and China’s strategic nuclear arsenals and the implications for US-Russian arms control treaties, particularly START I and II and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. This article looks at a key but often overlooked point in the NMD debate: the possible impact of NMD deployment on nonproliferation regimes and norms. It argues that the effect of NMD deployment on the integrity and long-term viability of nonproliferation regimes could have a much greater impact on the future of US security than the initial military response of either Russia or China.

This article first explores the nature of forecasting in the US NMD debate and shows how all three major positions in this debate tend to analyze NMD deployment in static terms. It then considers the perspectives of some of the 182 non-nuclear weapon states (NNWS) parties to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. These states, unlike China and Russia, have no reason to fear NMD in terms of the effectiveness of their nuclear arsenals, and yet the vast majority opposes it. The article examines how their opposition to NMD deployment and possible behavioral changes might affect the long-term viability of existing nonproliferation regimes and, in turn, the international security environment. Finally, the article proposes an alternative approach to combating missile proliferation by combining treaty-compliant military means and enhanced nonproliferation measures. By using regime-based incentives to stop emerging missile threats at their source rather than deploying NMD, the author argues, the United States could create a stronger international security community, build respect for its leadership, and provide new venues for international cooperation against potential states of concern.

Commercial Nuclear Trading Networks as Indicators of Nuclear Weapons Intentions
By Jennifer Hunt Morstein & Wayne D. Perry

One of the nuclear proliferation lessons of the last decade has been the extent to which proliferant nations have used the commercial nuclear energy market to procure the materials and technologies needed to develop nuclear weapons. To gain an understanding of the global dual-use trade, the authors apply a methodology knows as Social Network Analysis (SNA) to data on nuclear transactions compiled by the Monterey Institute’s Center for Nonproliferation Studies. They examine 10 years of nuclear dual-use transactions, most of which took place on the open commercial energy market, to show the utility of a macro-level systemic approach for revealing patterns of trade. Their analysis identifies empirically and in a replicable manner critical nations in the proliferation of goods for nuclear weapons.

Applying SNA, the authors show that nations seeking nuclear weapons trade fundamentally differently on the open market than do nations with solely energy intentions. Furthermore, commodities more likely to be used in nuclear arsenal acquisition efforts have distinctly different trading patterns than those more likely to be used for commercial purposes. By using SNA, nations wielding the most influence over the trade of commodities can be systematically identified and evaluated, providing an additional and more efficient foundation for focusing nuclear nonproliferation and counterproliferation policies. Also, this macro-level view of the trading system allows for the identification of patterns that can be used to predict which nations may have nuclear weapons intentions.


Biological Terrorism Targeted at Agriculture: The Threat to US National Security
by Rocco Casagrande

The author argues that the US government has not adequately addressed the threat of terrorism targeted at agriculture. Despite the severity of the threat, the US Congress has failed to provide adequate funding for countermeasures, and US agencies and agricultural industries have not taken the necessary steps to prevent agroterrorist attacks. The author first outlines the relatively low technical barriers to obtaining non-human pathogens. He then shows that agricultural pathogens can be easily employed to harm animals and crops, causing major economic disruption. Next he reviews the types of terrorists most likely to be motivated to resort to agroterrorism. He concludes that measures must be taken both to prevent and to mitigate agroterrorist attack, and offers several specific recommendations.

The Spread of Ballistic Missiles and the Transformation of Global Security
by Aaron Karp

The author contends that missile programs in Northeast Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East have the potential to undermine key aspects of global strategic stability, including the prospects for arms reductions between the superpowers. He argues that the vicissitudes of regional ballistic missile programs increasingly influence the extent of US regional security guarantees and the character of US relations with Russia, China, and even Europe. Moreover, these missile programs almost certainly will be the greatest force determining whether the United States deploys national missile defenses and perhaps even abrogates the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

The author summarizes the major trends in missile proliferation and their implications in three areas: the ability to control proliferation, the risk of renewed arms competition among major powers, and the future of nuclear deterrence. He begins by discussing how missile programs are increasingly driving other weapons programs and strategic considerations, leading the different nonproliferation regimes to become increasingly interconnected. He then reviews present and planned missile development efforts in individual countries, starting with the traditional nuclear weapon states, then turning to emerging missile powers. Finally, he draws out the global implications of missile program developments, particularly for the nonproliferation regime and the credibility of deterrence.

India’s Nuclear Doctrine: Confused Ambitions
by P.R. Chari

The author argues that India’s hastily drafted nuclear doctrine is deeply flawed, the product more of a desire to allay international apprehensions and to provide an electoral advantage for the ruling BJP government than of a clear vision of nuclear strategy. He first examines the administrative processes and influences by which the doctrine was developed. He then provides a context for the doctrine by reviewing India’s nuclear security situation and the technical capabilities established by its 1998 nuclear tests. After commenting on how the tests and the draft doctrine actually reduced India’s security, he dissects specific flaws in the doctrine. He contends its weaknesses are apparent from its general features that seek, almost self-consciously, to distinguish the Indian nuclear doctrine from its Western counterparts. However, that attempt fails, and the doctrine falls back on the general tenets of nuclear strategy and policy that have evolved over the several decades of the nuclear era. He then critiques the draft doctrine from a strategic and arms control perspective. He concludes with a discussion of the unresolved dilemmas either raised in the draft, such as contradictory positions on no-first-use and credible minimum deterrence, or ignored, such as the enormous cost of the proposed triad of nuclear forces.


NPT Export Controls and the Zangger Committee
by Fritz Schmidt

The author, the Chairman of the Zangger Committee, examines the role of export controls in general and the Zangger Committee in particular after the 1995 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review and Extension Conference. He discusses how the Zangger Committee could help increase cooperation between suppliers and recipients and the role the International Atomic Energy Agency should play in NPT export controls.

Implementing the DPRK Nuclear Deal: What US Law Requires
by Henry Sokolski

The author describes the US legal constraints on the implementation of the “Agreed Framework” signed by the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in October 1994. Under the Agreed Framework, the United States as part of a multilateral consortium, the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization, is obligated to provide two light-water reactors to the DPRK. To help provide these reactors, the United States must meet the requirements of the US Atomic Energy Act relating to atomic cooperation. Under this law, the United States must enter into a formal nuclear cooperative agreement with the DPRK prior to the shipment of key US nuclear components needed to complete the two reactors. The author explores the hurdles to the reactor deal posed by the US legislation and congressional actions.

Economics vs. Nonproliferation: US Launch Quota Policy Toward Russia, Ukraine, and China
by Victor Zaborsky

The author examines the US quotas on space launch contracts between US firms and Russia, China, and Ukraine. In June 2000, the Clinton administration decided to eliminate the quota for Ukraine, while for the time being keeping in place the quotas for Russia and China. The author presents the business and security objectives behind US launch quotas and evaluates their effectiveness. He provides an historical overview of the issue, the US aerospace industry’s approach, and the US government’s security considerations. He suggests that a balance of economic and political forces favors lifting the Russian space launch quota.

Statements of fact and opinion expressed in The Nonproliferation Review are the responsibility of the authors alone and do not imply the endorsement of the editors, the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, or the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

The Nonproliferation Review ISSN 1073-6700
Copyright © 2000 by Monterey Institute of International Studies

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