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14. Major trends in arms control and non-proliferation



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In 2003 the issue
of how to respond to the proliferation of nuclear, biological and
chemical (NBC) weapons and their delivery systems continued to occupy a
central place on the foreign and security policy agenda both of states
and international organizations. Recent information has underlined the
serious shortcomings in the level of knowledge about the NBC weapon
programmes of states. Previously unknown weapon-related activities have
come to light in several states, and new information highlights the
need to re-evaluate what had been thought of as relatively solid
conclusions about the pattern of NBC weapon programme development.

the critical need to generate more accurate information and assessments
of current trends and developments was underlined, multilateral arms
control treaty regimes did not move any closer to agreement on how to
identify violations of existing treaties and agreements, or how to
respond where such violations are detected. The conflict in Iraq was
preceded by a complete failure in the effort to develop a common
approach to implementing the UN Security Council resolutions related to
Iraqi disarmament.

May 2003 US President George W. Bush announced the creation of the
Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). The purpose of the new
initiative is to intercept ships, aircraft and vehicles suspected of
carrying nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, ballistic
missiles, and related technologies to or from ‘countries of
proliferation concern’. It allows participating states to detain and
search suspect shipments as soon as they enter their territory,
territorial waters or airspace. Bush’s announcement was quickly
followed by the formation of a core group of 11 nations (Australia,
France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal,
Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States) that has begun pooling
intelligence and organizing military exercises. Three additional
countries (Canada, Norway and Singapore) subsequently began to
participate in the activities of this core group while a large number
of other states have associated themselves with it. Russia joined the
PSI on 31 May 2004.

legal basis for the PSI is the subject of controversy. Although
activities carried out to date suggest that current national and
international laws will provide a sufficient basis for most of what the
PSI envisages, additional clarification will be needed in the case of
shipments of dual-use items that have civilian applications as well as
roles in constituting WMD—which international law does not address. The
PSI could have a positive effect by bringing about closer international
coordination among national agencies and authorities charged with the
enforcement of existing export control laws and other relevant national
legislation. A practical mechanism for cooperation and information
exchange between these national authorities is currently lacking.

13 December 2003 the Council of the European Union adopted the EU
Strategy Against Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The
document drew on a set of basic principles agreed in June 2003 and set
out in more detail the approach of the EU to addressing the threat of
proliferation. The EU agreed an Action Plan in June 2003 that contained
a specific and measurable set of projects, programmes and objectives as
well as identifying the finances required to implement the agreed
measures and specifying the source of that financing. At the time the
WMD Strategy was adopted, the Council agreed on a procedure for
monitoring and reviewing its implementation at the General Affairs and
External Relations Council (in which the foreign ministers of the EU
member states participate) on a six-monthly basis, thereby guaranteeing
continued high-level political attention for the issue.

control has focused on measures to help manage the potential security
risks posed by militarily relevant quantities of weapons held by
states. The attacks carried out in the United States on 11 September
2001 focused attention on two threats that were not previously
addressed: weapons in the hands of non-state actors; and the threat
posed by the use of items not normally thought of as weapons. In 2003
consideration was given to the role that a number of legal instruments
which are not thought of as part of arms control might play in managing
these threats. In particular, attention was paid to instruments that
can help to secure sensitive materials and prevent their diversion to
unauthorized end-users and dangerous end-uses.


Dr Ian Anthony
(United Kingdom) is SIPRI Research Coordinator and the Leader of the
SIPRI Non-proliferation and Export Controls Project. In 1992–98 he was
Leader of the SIPRI Arms Transfers Project. His most recent publication
for SIPRI is SIPRI Research Report No. 19, Reducing Threats at the Source: a European Perspective on Cooperative Threat Reduction (2004). He is also editor of the SIPRI volumes Russia and the Arms Trade (1998), Arms Export Regulations (1991) and SIPRI Research Report No. 7, The Future of Defence Industries in Central and Eastern Europe (1994), and author of The Naval Arms Trade (SIPRI, 1990) and The Arms Trade and Medium Powers: Case Studies of India and Pakistan 1947–90 (Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1992). He has written or co-authored chapters for the SIPRI Yearbook since 1988.