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Home > English > Website archives > Globalization, resistance, immigration > Summit ignores disarmament


Summit ignores disarmament

Tuesday 12 June 2007, by Siddharth Varadarajan

There’s loads of advice and fatwas for others but the Heiligendamm statement is silent on the nuclear weapons states’ obligation to get rid of their arsenals and the new ’Cold War’ that is threatening the security of the world thanks to the U.S. pursuit of missile defence.

Apart from a stray reference to the "three pillars" of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), one of which is disarmament, G8 leaders issued a declaration on non-proliferation that seeks to restrict the access of countries, including NPT members, to civil nuclear technology but contains not one word on the nuclear weapons states’ treaty obligation to get rid of their arsenals.

Four of the G8’s members — Britain, France, Russia and the United States — are nuclear weapon states. The U.S. is conducting research work on a new generation of nuclear bombs as well as on missile defence. Britain recently took a controversial decision to spend billions of dollars to retain its Trident nuclear weapon system without knowing which nuclear adversary it was trying to deter. Russia has responded to the U.S. missile defence challenge — including the proposed deployment of "early warning" radars in Poland and the Czech Republic with new missile tests and a threat to retarget Europe with its nuclear weapons.

Though the G8 leaders undoubtedly discussed these issues behind closed doors, the four-page "Heiligendamm statement on non-proliferation", issued Friday, remains silent on the new `Cold War’ that is threatening the security of Europe, Asia and the world.

Instead, it repeats prescriptions aimed at tackling other dangers, real and notional, and threatens to consider "alternative strategies to reduce the proliferation risks associated with the transfer of enrichment and reprocessing goods and technologies" if the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the 45-nation cartel of the world’s major nuclear technology-capable countries, fails to agree to tighter rules by next year.

The statement also repeats verbatim a paragraph on India from the 2006 G8 summit declaration in St. Petersburg, which begins by noting that the eight leaders look forward to reinforcing their partnership with India.

"We note the commitments India has made, and encourage India to take further steps towards integration into the mainstream of strengthening the non-proliferation regime so as to facilitate a more forthcoming approach towards nuclear cooperation to address its energy requirements, in a manner that enhances and reinforces the global non-proliferation regime," the statement says.

Indian officials say the roundabout formulation reflects the lack of a clear consensus within the G8 on how to view the Indo-U.S. nuclear agreement of July 2005. However, insofar as the statement encourages India to implement the steps it committed and promises "a more forthcoming approach towards nuclear cooperation" in return, it is clear that the two G8 members most ambivalent about allowing nuclear trade with India — Japan and Germany — are ready to go along with the emerging consensus.

But the U.S.-led push to tighten the NSG’s trading rules on reprocessing and enrichment could pose a challenge to New Delhi, especially if this is used to limit the proposed scope of nuclear cooperation with India as and when the cartel considers changing its rules.

On other non-proliferation issues, the G8 statement reiterates the group’s well-known positions: urging all states to observe a moratorium on nuclear weapon test explosions, urging universal adherence to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Model Additional Protocol, and supporting expedited negotiations on the Fissile Materials Cut-off Treaty.

While demands are made usually on Iran of full compliance with United Nations Security Council resolutions to suspend all nuclear enrichment activity, the G8 statement this year adds two significant sentences. It wants the UNSC to fulfil its role as the "final arbiter of the consequences of non-compliance" and says the group is "committed to resolving regional proliferation challenges by diplomatic means."

Multilateral approaches

The G8 also stressed the importance of "developing and implementing mechanisms of multilateral approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle as a possible alternative to pursuing national enrichment and reprocessing activities."

Among the models it endorsed were the Russian proposal on multinational centres providing fuel cycle services and the U.S.-led Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP).

However, in an attempt to allay the concern of many countries that the multinational approach would be used to make them give up national facilities, the G8 statement says participation in any multinational arrangement should be "voluntary."