Chapter 12. Nuclear arms control and non-proliferation
In October 2006 North Korea carried out a nuclear test explosion using technology and material that it had imported for peaceful purposes. The explosion, which followed a series of ballistic missile flight-tests, sent a clear message that North Korea was seeking to develop a nuclear arsenal. The test explosion was widely condemned and the United Nations Security Council responded by demanding that North Korea return to the Six-Party Talks with China, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the USA and imposing financial and trade restrictions aimed at denying North Korea access to the nuclear- and missile-related technology, equipment and expertise.
In January Iran ended the voluntary suspension of its uranium enrichment programme and resumed installation of gas centrifuges at the pilot enrichment plant at Natanz. The move prompted the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to refer Iran’s nuclear file to the UN Security Council, which adopted a resolution in July demanding that Iran suspend all uranium enrichment-related and plutonium reprocessing activities, including research and development, subject to IAEA verification. Iran defied this demand and the Security Council adopted a new resolution in December imposing sanctions targeting Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
The controversial Indian–US Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative—aimed at resuming full civil nuclear co-operation between the two countries—remained in limbo at the end of 2006. In March both sides approved a plan for separating India’s nuclear programme into civilian and military components. In December the US Congress approved an India-specific exemption from the 1954 Atomic Energy Act, a crucial step towards the resumption of trade in nuclear materials and technology. However, India objected to conditions imposed by the US legislation.
At the Conference on Disarmament (CD), the USA submitted a draft text for a global fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT). The text did not include any provisions for an international verification mechanism, which put the USA at odds with most other CD members. Despite renewed efforts during the year, the long-delayed negotiations on a FMCT remained stalled on procedural matters.
Shannon N. Kile (USA) is a Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Non-proliferation and Export Controls Project.