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Post Arms Control

Arms Control

Arms Control, attempts through treaties, proclamations, convention, and tacit agreement to limit the destructiveness of war by controlling the acquisition and use of weapons and military technology.
Historically, warfare appears to be an integral part of human affairs. In 3,000 years of recorded history, most historiansbelieve that not a single year has been free of armed conflict. Yet people have always recognized the folly, waste, and inhumanity of warfare and have continually attempted to limit its devastation and the spread of increasingly destructive weapons.

One of the earliest formal attempts to limit the scope of war was organized by the Amphictyonic League, a quasi-religious alliance of most of the Greek tribes, formed before the 7th century BC. League members were pledged to restrain their actions in war against other members. For example, they were barred from cutting a besieged city's water supply. The league was empowered to impose sanctions on violating members, including fines and punitive expeditions, and could require its members to provide troops and funds for this purpose.

A -The Middle Ages
Because arms technology remained nearly static from the 3rd century BC to the Middle Ages, few attempts were made to control the spread of new weapons. In feudal societies, such as those of medieval Europe or Japan, laws and customs developed to keep weapons a monopoly of the military classes and to suppress arms that might democratize warfare. These customs tended to disappear as soon as some power saw a decisive advantage in the use of a new weapon. In medieval Europe the Roman Catholic Church attempted to use its power as a supranational organization to limit both new weapons and the intensity of warfare. The Peace of God, instituted in 990, protected church-owned property, defenseless noncombatants, and the agrarian base of the economy from the ravages of war. In 1139 the Second Lateran Council prohibited the use of the crossbow against Christians, although not against those the church considered infidels.

B -Early Modern Period
Firearms widened the scope of war and increased the potential for violence, culminating in the devastation of central Europe in the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648). Widespread revulsion against the horrors of that conflict led to attempts in many countries to lessen the brutality of warfare by limiting combat to recognized armed forces, by formulating conventions for the humane treatment of prisoners and wounded, and by organizing logistics to end supply by pillage. These rules prevailed throughout the 18th century, making war a relatively limited and civilized “game of kings.” Many utopian plans for the total abolition of war were also formulated during this period by men such as French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau and Charles Castel, Abbé de Saint Pierre. Frederick the Great, king of Prussia, commented that all these plans needed to succeed was the cooperation of all the kings of Europe. The rise of mass armies during the American Revolution (1775-1783) and Napoleonic Wars (1799-1815) again enlarged the size and devastation of war; yet throughout that period no attempts were made to reduce or limit national arsenals other than those imposed by the victors upon the defeated. The one exception was the Rush-Bagot Treaty (1817), under which Britain and the United States reduced, equalized, and eventually eliminated their naval forces on the Great Lakes.

C -The Hague Conferences
In the 19th century the manufacturing capabilities created by the Industrial Revolution were applied to the production of war matériel. Technological innovation led to the development of rifled artillery, breech-loading rifles, machine guns, and other weapons that revolutionized warfare. The resources of entire nations could now be turned to war, making possible conflicts of unprecedented scale and destructiveness. Although many government leaders saw the arms buildup in Europe as potentially disastrous, nothing was done to reduce armaments until the First Hague Disarmament Conference of 1899.

The First Hague Conference was convened at the initiative of Nicholas II of Russia to control arms development and improve the conditions of warfare. Twenty-six nations attended the conference, which codified the laws and customs of land warfare, defined the status of belligerents, and drafted regulations on the treatment of prisoners, the wounded, and neutrals. It also banned aerial bombardment (by balloons), dumdum (expansion) bullets, and the use of poison gas. Most important, it established the Permanent Court of Arbitration to arbitrate international disputes (although this court had no enforcement powers).

The Second Hague Disarmament Conference of 1907 was marked more by discord than discourse, a sign of the deteriorating world situation. It did further the cause of mediation and arbitration of disputes by establishing additional courts to arbitrate cases involving ships' cargoes seized during war and resolution of international debts. A Third Hague Conference was scheduled for 1915. Ironically, World War I (1914-1918) caused its abandonment.

After the carnage of World War I, the international climate was more receptive to the idea of arms control. During the years between the two world wars, many formal arms-control conferences were held and many treaties were drawn up. The Covenant of the League of Nations established criteria for reducing world armaments. The league's Council was to establish reasonable limits on the military forces of each country and submit them for consideration to the member governments. Members of the league were also called upon to limit the private manufacture of arms and munitions and to exchange information on the size and status of their military establishments and arms industries. The league's lack of enforcement capability, however, made compliance strictly voluntary.

A -Washington Conference
From 1921 to 1922 the Washington Naval Conference was held to establish stable relationships among the naval forces of the various powers. Three treaties were enacted at the conference: the Four-Power Treaty, the Five-Power Treaty, and the Nine-Power Treaty. By the terms of the first, France, Britain, Japan, and the United States agreed to respect the status quo in the fortification of Pacific possessions and promised consultation in the event of a dispute. An associated agreement was signed with The Netherlands regarding the Netherlands Indies (now Indonesia).

The second treaty focused on arms limitations. A 5-5-3-1.75-1.75 ratio was established between United States, British, Japanese, French, and Italian battleships. That is, for every 5 United States and British battleships, Japan was allowed 3 and France and Italy were allowed 1.75. Maximum total tonnage was limited, as well as specification of a maximum single-ship tonnage of 35,000 tons. A ten-year moratorium on battleship building (except to fill out the treaty) and a limit on size and armament were also included. The third treaty was an attempt to accommodate the signatories’ interests in China.

B -Geneva Conference and the Kellogg-Briand Pact
In 1925 a convention in Geneva, Switzerland, banned the use of toxic gas in warfare. By the time World War II began in 1939, most of the Great Powers, except Japan and the United States, were signatories. (Japan signed it in 1970 and the United States in 1974.) This accord has been observed by most of the signatories, although Italy used gas in Ethiopia in 1936. See also Chemical and Biological Warfare. In 1928 the Kellogg-Briand Pact, initiated by France and the United States, was signed by 63 nations. The pact renounced war as an instrument of foreign policy. It made no provisions, however, for enforcing compliance, and many nations only signed it with sweeping qualifications. It had no effect on international affairs.

C -The Fate of Disarmament in the 1930s
In 1930 a naval conference was held in London to amend the Washington Conference treaties. Its most important effect was to change the U.S.-Japanese battleship ratio to 5-3.5. It also extended the battleship moratorium through 1936. In 1932, after nearly ten years of preliminary discussions, a World Disarmament Conference was held in Geneva under the auspices of the League of Nations. The keystone of the conference was the so-called Hoover Plan, which consisted of proposals put forth by the United States based on the concept of qualitative disarmament—that is, the progressive elimination of offensive weapons. The result was to have been an increasingly unfavorable ratio between offensive and defensive power.

Qualifications imposed by many of the major nations, however, diluted the Hoover Plan until little remained but a statement of principles.
A final naval conference was held in London in 1936. There the United States and Britain reaffirmed the naval limitation treaties, with an acceleration clause (that is, one providing for proportional increase in the U.S.-to-British ratio) to counteract any German or Japanese violations. The Japanese, increasingly militaristic and fearful of American and British superiority, withdrew from further negotiations. This was the last major arms-control conference before World War II (1939-1945).

After World War II ended in 1945, considerable support again developed for arms control and for alternatives to military conflict in international relations. The United Nations (UN) Charter was designed to permit a supranational agency to enforce peace, avoiding many of the weaknesses of the League of Nations covenant. Thus, Article 11 of the charter stated that the General Assembly could consider the general principle of disarmament and the regulation of armaments. Article 26 required the Security Council to submit plans for a system of armament regulation. Article 47 established a military staff committee to assist the Security Council in this task.

A -Atomic Arms Race
The development of the atomic bomb by the United States toward the end of World War II brought with it the capability of devastating whole civilizations (see Nuclear Weapons). While the United States still maintained a monopoly on nuclear weapons, it made overtures in the UN for the control and elimination of atomic energy for military purposes. In June 1946, American representative Bernard Baruch presented a plan to the UN Atomic Energy Commission, calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons, international control over the processing of nuclear materials, full sharing of all scientific and technological information concerning atomic energy, and safeguards to ensure that atomic energy would be used only for civilian purposes. The government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) vetoed the Baruch Plan in the Security Council, objecting to the UN’s authority over disarmament and citing the domination of that body by the United States and Western Europe.

In 1949 the USSR exploded an atomic weapon of its own, ending the U.S. monopoly. The possibility of a nuclear war was now present, because relations between the USSR and the West were tense (see Cold War). Both the United States and the USSR were engaged in a race to develop thermonuclear (hydrogen) devices, which have many times the destructive power of atomic bombs. These weapons raised the possibility of ending all life on Earth in all-out war. After 1954, when the USSR exploded its first hydrogen bomb, the primary concern of arms control was to reduce nuclear arsenals and prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons technology

B -Agreements Limiting Nuclear Weapons
In 1957 the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was established to oversee the development and spread of nuclear technology and materials. Two years later a treaty was negotiated to demilitarize the Antarctic and to prohibit the detonation or storage of nuclear weapons there. Both the United States and the USSR were among the signatories.

In 1961 the UN General Assembly passed the Joint Statement of Agreed Principles for Disarmament Negotiations. It was followed in 1963 by a treaty that bound the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union not to test nuclear weapons in space, in the atmosphere, or under water. In 1967 another treaty between the same nations limited the military use of outer space to reconnaissance only. The deployment of nuclear weapons in orbit was expressly prohibited. A second treaty in 1967 banned nuclear weapons from Latin America. One of the most important agreements on arms control was the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty of 1968. Signatories pledged to restrict the development, deployment, and testing of nuclear weapons to ensure that weapons, materials, or technology would not be transferred outside the five countries that then had nuclear weapons (Great Britain, France, China, the United States, and the USSR). In 1995 more than 170 countries agreed to permanently extend the treaty.

In the late 1960s the United States and the USSR initiated negotiations to regulate strategic weapon arsenals. These negotiations became known as the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks. The SALT I negotiations produced two important agreements in 1972: the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty), which drastically limited the establishment of defensive installations designed to shoot down ballistic missiles, and the Interim Agreement on the Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. That same year the two superpowers also signed a treaty barring the testing of nuclear weapons on the ocean floor. The SALT II negotiations, which began in 1972, produced another treaty in 1979 that would limit the total number of U.S. and USSR missile launchers. After the USSR invaded Afghanistan in 1979, relations between the United States and the USSR rapidly deteriorated, and the U.S. Senate never ratified the treaty. During the early 1980s controversy surrounded the placement by the United States of ballistic missiles on the territory of some of its Western European allies. Opposition to this within West Germany (which became part of the united Federal Republic of Germany in 1990) played a part in unseating Chancellor Helmut Schmidt in 1982. In 1983 U.S. antinuclear groups rallied to support a bilateral arms freeze, and U.S. Roman Catholic bishops approved a pastoral letter with a similar aim.

Controversy also surrounded the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) introduced by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. This research program for developing a defense against ballistic missiles appeared likely to undermine the ABM Treaty and challenged the assumptions of nuclear strategy since the beginning of the arms race. Since the late 1940s both deployment of nuclear arms by the superpowers and restrictions upon their use had been founded upon a theory of deterrence. According to this theory, the mutual likelihood of destruction in the event of a nuclear confrontation between the United States and the USSR preserved a delicate balance between the two superpowers. Stable relations between the nations required that they possess a roughly equal capacity to harm each other. Critics of SDI believed that efforts to construct a defense against nuclear weapons would destroy that balance and remove the conditions that prevented nuclear weapons from being used.

Despite these concerns, U.S.-Soviet arms negotiations resumed in 1985. At a summit meeting in Washington, D.C., in December 1987, President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), which eliminated many nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles that had been deployed throughout Europe and the western Soviet Union. The treaty called for the destruction of all U.S. and Soviet missiles with ranges of about 500 to 5,500 km (about 300 to 3,400 mi) and established a 13-year program to verify compliance. The INF treaty was ratified by the U.S. Senate and the Soviet Presidium in May 1988.

C -No nuclear Weapons Agreements
Agreements to restrict or eliminate the production and use of biological and chemical weapons date back to the Geneva Convention of 1925. In 1972 the United States, the USSR, and most other nations signed a convention prohibiting development, production, and stockpiling of biological and chemical weapons. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against Iran during the Iran-Iraq War, and in subsequent attacks on its own Kurdish population, prompted renewed international efforts to ban the use of such weapons. In 1993 representatives from 160 nations approved the Chemical Weapons Convention. This agreement banned production, use, sale, and storage of all chemical weapons. It also mandated destruction of existing stocks of weapons by the year 2005. The United States ratified this convention in 1997, despite concerns about the proliferation of chemical weapons among nations such as Libya, Syria, Iraq, and North Korea that were not signatories to the agreement.

Conventional weapons such as booby traps and land mines also possess enormous destructive capacity. Land mines are especially troubling because they retain their destructive power for indefinite periods of time. The International Committee of the Red Cross estimates that nearly 2 million land mines around the world kill or maim nearly 15,000 civilians every year. Global sentiment against land mines led more than 120 countries to sign a treaty in 1997 banning the use, production, transfer, and stockpiling of the weapons. The effectiveness of the ban was called into question, however, by the refusal of major powers such as the United States, Russia, Turkey, and China to sign the agreement.

As the 1990s began, the United States and the USSR continued to negotiate arms-control accords. In May 1990 Gorbachev and U.S. president George H. W. Bush approved a treaty to end production and reduce stockpiles of chemical weapons. In 1991 the United States and the USSR signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), requiring both nations to reduce their strategic nuclear arsenals by about 25 percent. Both sides also moved to reduce conventional weapons and to continue phased withdrawal of their forces from Europe.

The collapse of the USSR in late 1991 raised complex new problems. The location of strategic nuclear weapons at multiple sites in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus raised concerns about the safety and security of these weapons. The U.S. Congress appropriated $1.5 billion to help these former Soviet states dismantle nuclear weapons and develop safe storage of weapons-grade nuclear materials. In 1992 these countries and the United States agreed to abide by the terms of the 1991 START I agreement.
In 1993 President Bush and Russian president Boris Yeltsin signed the START II treaty. This treaty called for the elimination of almost two-thirds of the nuclear warheads and all the multiple-warhead land-based missiles held by the United States and the former Soviet republics. In January 1996 the U.S. Senate ratified the START II treaty, but the Russian parliament never approved the accord. The START II treaty never went into effect, and in 2002 it was replaced by a new strategic arms reduction agreement known as the Treaty of Moscow.

In September 1996 leaders of the five major nuclear powers—the United States, Russia, China, France, and Britain—and dozens of other countries signed the landmark Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which banned most types of nuclear weapons testing. In order to take effect, however, the treaty must be formally approved, or ratified, by all nations believed to be capable of producing nuclear arms. In 1999 the U.S. Senate rejected the treaty by a vote of 51 to 48. China, Israel, Pakistan, and India are among other known nuclear powers that have not ratified the treaty.
The Senate vote against the treaty drew criticism from many U.S. allies, including Britain, Germany, and France. Senate opponents of the treaty argued that it was unenforceable, and they raised concerns that the treaty left open the possibility that rogue powers, such as Iraq or North Korea, could stockpile nuclear weapons, while at the same time it blocked the United States from upgrading its nuclear arsenal.

The Senate’s refusal to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty came on the heels of another setback. In mid-1998 India conducted a series of underground tests of nuclear weapons. About two weeks later, India’s archrival, Pakistan, detonated its own nuclear devices to demonstrate that it also possessed the powerful weapons. Both nations were internationally condemned for the tests. The United States, the International Monetary Fund, the European Union, and individual nations imposed economic sanctions on India and Pakistan in retaliation. Roughly a year later India tested a ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to any target within Pakistan, and days later Pakistan responded by testing a missile with similar capabilities. In 2002 tensions between the two nations over the disputed territory of Kashmīr raised fears of a nuclear war.

Meanwhile, the United States under the administration of President Bill Clinton reached an important arms control arrangement with North Korea in 1994. Although relations between the United States and North Korea remained tense, under the arrangement North Korea agreed to freeze all work on the infrastructure of reactors and reprocessing plants needed to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons. In exchange, Japan, South Korea, and the United States agreed to provide fuel oil and other economic aid to North Korea.

In 2002, however, this arrangement began to unravel. United States intelligence agencies reported that while being paid not to produce plutonium, there was evidence that North Korea might be at work to enrich uranium or to create the facilities needed to enrich uranium, the other way of obtaining nuclear weapons. That triggered North Korea’s inclusion in the “axis of evil” cited by U.S. president George W. Bush in his State of the Union speech in January 2002. The United States also responded to this intelligence report by halting supplies of fuel oil to North Korea. In October 2002 a U.S. official reported that a North Korean official had admitted that North Korea had a uranium enrichment program. North Korean officials, however, subsequently denied that North Korea had a covert program to develop nuclear weapons with enriched uranium. In January 2003 North Korea expelled United Nations (UN) monitors with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

In April 2003 North Korea told U.S. officials that it possessed nuclear weapons, and in October 2003 North Korean officials said they were extracting plutonium from spent nuclear fuel rods to produce nuclear weapons. In November 2003 the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency repeated its belief that North Korea possessed at least one and possibly two nuclear bombs. However, other former and current U.S. intelligence officials said they were skeptical that North Korea had the technological know-how to produce nuclear weapons. In February 2004 North Korea entered talks with China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States to discuss an agreement that would end North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. In October 2006 North Korea tested a nuclear weapon. In February 2007 the six-nation talks resulted in an agreement in which North Korea pledged to shut down its main nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, which produces plutonium as a byproduct, in exchange for aid. That agreement led to a subsequent North Korean pledge in October 2007 to disable its Yongbyon reactor by the end of the year in exchange for 950,000 metric tons of fuel oil or its equivalent in economic aid. North Korea also agreed to disclose all of its nuclear programs and promised not to transfer its “nuclear materials, technology, or know-how beyond its borders.”

As the world entered the 21st century, both progress and setbacks occurred in arms control. In 2001 the administration of U.S. president George W. Bush announced that it would unilaterally withdraw from the ABM Treaty, laying the groundwork for the deployment of defenses against long-range ballistic missiles. For the first time the U.S. government also announced a policy that under extreme circumstances it would consider using nuclear weapons against a nonnuclear state that employed biological or chemical weapons. The Bush administration, however, also pursued an arms reduction agreement with the Russian Federation, and the two nations signed a treaty in 2002 to deactivate about 75 percent of their strategic nuclear arsenals.
Under the 2002 agreement, both nations were to reduce their active inventories of strategic nuclear warheads from about 6,000 each to about 2,200 warheads each by the year 2012. The agreement, known as the Treaty of Moscow, required ratification by both the U.S. Senate and the Russian Duma (parliament) before it could go into effect. Once ratified the new treaty was to replace the previous START II treaty.

Observers noted that the new treaty contained a number of escape clauses. Either side could withdraw from the treaty with only three months’ notice, and the reductions did not have to take effect until 2012, the same year the treaty expires. The treaty also enabled both nations to place the deactivated warheads in storage or to set them aside as “operational spares” that could be quickly reactivated. Critics of the agreement argued that the deactivated warheads should be destroyed, rather than stored, because of the danger that terrorists could obtain access to stored weapons, which are presumably less well guarded than those in active service.

A -Spread of Nuclear Weapons Technology
In February 2004 Pakistan’s leading nuclear scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan, admitted that he and other Pakistani scientists shared nuclear weapons technology with several other nations for more than a decade, from 1989 to 2000. The countries were identified as Iran, Libya, and North Korea. In a nationally televised address, Khan apologized for his actions. The next day Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf pardoned Khan, whose ties to Pakistan’s leading nuclear weapons laboratory had been severed in 2001 due to financial irregularities.

The initial evidence against Khan came from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and various Western intelligence agencies, including the United States. The evidence included the discovery of documents detailing designs for nuclear weapons and equipment built to enrich uranium for making nuclear weapons. Iranian and Libyan officials themselves turned over some of the evidence to the IAEA. In addition, the United States seized a ship in August 2003 that was bound for Libya with parts for making specialized gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium. Khan had assembled a vast network for sharing nuclear weapons technology that included intermediaries in Dubai, Germany, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and The Netherlands. Khan was reportedly motivated by his desire to see other Muslim nations obtain nuclear weapons, both to help the Islamic cause and to deflect attention from Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program. He was also reportedly motivated by money and had grown enormously wealthy, despite a modest government salary.

Although the disclosure of Khan’s network added more knowledge about the extent of the secret nuclear weapons programs maintained by Iran and Libya, the IAEA concluded that neither Libya nor Iran were close to building a nuclear weapon. The IAEA did find, however, that Iran’s program was more advanced than Libya’s. Libya in 2004 renounced its program to develop weapons of mass destruction, and Iran agreed to an additional protocol with the IAEA to give its weapons experts greater authority to inspect Iran’s territory and facilities. In 2006 Iran announced that it had demonstrated the ability to enrich uranium for use in nuclear power plants, and this ability was confirmed by the IAEA. The UN Security Council subsequently imposed limited economic sanctions on Iran for violating the terms of an earlier agreement. Iran’s leaders also said they intended to set up 3,000 gas centrifuges in a cascade, which would demonstrate an ability to enrich uranium on an industrial scale. Iran continued to insist that its nuclear program was only for peaceful purposes. In August 2007 the IAEA verified that Iran had been able to set up a cascade of about 2,000 centrifuges, well short of its goal of 3,000 centrifuges. The IAEA said Iran was enriching uranium at levels that could only be used for generating electricity.

B -New U.S. Research Program
In late 2003 the United States began funding a research program that could lead to a new type of nuclear weapon known as a mininuke. The mininuke would be the equivalent of 5 kilotons, or 5,000 tons of TNT. By comparison, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, had an explosive power equivalent to 15 kilotons. The purpose of the mininuke is to destroy underground command-and-control bunkers, underground arms depots, and other underground facilities. The research is aimed at developing a nuclear weapon that could penetrate the layers of steel and concrete designed to protect such bunkers without exploding on impact. Some arms control advocates objected to the research, saying it would lead to a new type of nuclear weapon, which would violate the intent of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
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