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16. International non-proliferation and disarmament assistance

Contents

IAN ANTHONY AND VITALY FEDCHENKO

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Summary

As part of the international anti-proliferation effort, a growing number of countries offer practical help to other countries in order to secure or eliminate nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) weapons, the missile delivery systems for such weapons and capacities that might contribute to NBC weapon programmes. The provision of international non-proliferation and disarmament assistance (INDA) is steadily evolving from an emergency programme intended to manage the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the break-up of the Soviet Union to a broader international programme involving new donor states, new recipient states and new types of activity.

Most INDA activities have been carried out in Russia—reflecting the scale of the arsenals, infrastructure and knowledge base developed during the cold war. International non-proliferation and disarmament assistance continues to be a critical element in helping Russia to implement nuclear weapon- and chemical weapon-related arms control and disarmament obligations. The USA and Russia have developed a number of important bilateral programmes for implementing assistance projects. While this bilateral Russian–US cooperation is the most important, other countries, such as Canada, Germany, Japan, Norway and the UK, also make an important contribution.

In addition, INDA is increasingly establishing itself as a significant element of the wider anti-proliferation effort. The efforts to secure and dispose of proliferation relevant items (including materials and equipment) also reduces the risk that such items could be acquired by non-state actors and used to carry out acts of catastrophic terrorism. The geographic and functional scope of assistance is expanding and this expansion is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. At present, the most important initiatives continue to be bilateral. However, some of the programmes currently being evaluated—such as the development of a comprehensive approach to securing powerful radiological sources—are too costly and complicated to be undertaken on a bilateral basis. As new countries become engaged in the overall effort, questions continue to arise about how the delivery of assistance can be organized, financed and coordinated in the most effective manner. The relationship between bilateral efforts, informal coordination mechanisms and the activities of international organizations, in particular the International Atomic Energy Agency, is continuing to develop in this field.

Among the mechanisms used to manage and organize assistance efforts, several particularly important initiatives can be identified. Since their summit meeting in Kananaskis, Canada, in 2002 the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations have been engaged in a sustained manner in organizing non-proliferation and disarmament assistance. These activities were re-designed in 2004. The EU, including its member states at the national level, is seeking to become a more coherent and effective INDA provider as part of a wider effort to further develop and implement the EU Strategy Against the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction adopted in December 2003.

While external contributions play an important role in helping Russia to manage the consequences of the massive militarization of its economy and society during the cold war, the most critical factor in defining and carrying out related projects is the programme of actions undertaken by the Russian Government and entities under its control. The reorganization of the Russian Government by President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin in 2004 included important changes to organizations that play a critical role in implementing INDA projects.

The anticipated expansion of the geographic and functional scope of INDA may bring forward the ‘moment of truth’ for a number of long-standing projects, such as Plutonium disposition and scientist redirection projects, whose non-proliferation significance is clear but which have so far proved impossible to implement.

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