President Barack Obama speaks at a joint news conference with Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev on July 6, 2009, after they signed a preliminary agreement to reduce the world's two largest nuclear stockpiles by as much as a third.
Look Ahead -- President Obama Chairs UN Security Council Session on Nuclear Nonproliferation
A First for an American President
September 22, 2009
Author: Sasha Talcott, Former Director of Communications and Outreach
President Obama plans to introduce a nonproliferation resolution while chairing a session of the UN Security Council on September 24, with the aim of advancing the Administration's nonproliferation agenda. Though Iran and North Korea are not mentioned specifically in the resolution, they are likely to dominate leaders' discussions on the sidelines.
In advance of the session, below is some "required reading" for each of the major issues at stake.
The topic of Iran will most likely be addressed on the sidelines of the meeting, as the Obama Administration and its allies discuss negotiation strategies in advance of the October 1 P5+1 meeting with Iran in Turkey.
- We Should Talk to Our Enemies -- by R. Nicholas Burns
- A New Red Line for Iran -- by Graham Allison
- Iran's Nuclear Deception -- by William H. Tobey
- Constraining Iran's Nuclear Program: Assessing Options and Risks -- by Matthew Bunn
- The Paradox of Iran's Nuclear Consensus -- by Kayhan Barzegar
North Korea leader Kim Jong Il reportedly told a Chinese envoy last week that the country is ready to return to multilateral nuclear talks.
- US and China Must Stand up to North Korea -- by Martin Malin and Hui Zhang
- Ending North Korea's Nuclear Ambitions: The Need for Stronger Chinese Action -- by Hui Zhang
- North Korea's Nuclear Program: Looking Forward -- by Graham Allison, Martin Malin, and Hui Zhang
Key Aspects of the Obama Administration's Nuclear Nonproliferation Resolution
President Obama plans to propose a nuclear nonproliferation resolution to the UN Security Council on Sept. 24. Here are some key aspects of it.
A World Free of Nuclear Weapons
"Create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons"
The resolution follows a speech by President Obama in Prague earlier this year, in which he pledged "America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons." It comes in the wake of a renewed push for a nuclear-free world, notably championed by Henry Kissinger, Sam Nunn, William Perry, and George Shultz.
- Toward a Nuclear-Free World - oped by George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger and Sam Nunn (endorsed by Graham Allison, Matt Bunn and Ashton Carter)
- Time to Bury a Dangerous Legacy -- by Graham Allison
A view of the International Atomic Energy Agency's boardroom in Vienna.
Strengthening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
"Reaffirming its firm commitment to the NPT [Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons] and its conviction that the international nuclear non-proliferation regime should be maintained and strengthened to ensure its effective implementation."
The NPT, designed to limit the spread of nuclear weapons, is arguably one of the world's most successful global treaties. Many argue that the nonproliferation regime is at risk and that it is essential to strengthen the NPT to prevent a cascade of nuclear proliferation.
- Strengthening the Nonproliferation Regime: Lessons of Proliferation Crises -- by Matthew Bunn
- Bombs We Can Stop -- by Matthew Bunn
- The Global Nuclear Future -- by Steven E. Miller
- Nonproliferation After North Korea -- by Joseph S. Nye
- Securing the Nuclear Renaissance: Testimony to the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade -- by Graham Allison
- Funding for U.S. Efforts to Improve Controls Over Nuclear Weapons, Materials, and Expertise Overseas: A 2009 Update -- by Andrew Newman and Matthew Bunn
"Calls upon all States to adopt and implement an Additional Protocol."
Traditional safeguards focus on monitoring declared facilities. The Additional Protocol, completed in 1997, develops measures that would help the IAEA detect undeclared facilities and activities as well, thereby providing states with greater assurance that a country's nuclear activities are peaceful in nature.
- How IAEA Safeguards Work -- by Matthew Bunn
- Reinforcing the Global Nuclear Order: The Role of the IAEA -- by Graham Allison and Matthew Bunn
- Nonproliferation, Safeguards, and Export Controls -- by Matthew Bunn
- IAEA Safeguards: Dealing Preventively With Non-Compliance -- by Pierre Goldschmidt
"Calls upon States Parties to the NPT to comply fully with all their obligations under the Treaty"
"Calls upon all States that are not Parties to the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) to join the Treaty so as to achieve its universality at an early date, and in any case to adhere to its terms"
Several states -- notably, Pakistan, India, and Israel -- have not joined the NPT. Additionally, North Korea dropped out in 2003. The "adhere to its terms" clause may establish the NPT as the universal standard even for those who have not joined.
"Gravely concerned about the threat of nuclear terrorism"
President Obama has labeled nuclear terrorism "a threat that rises above all others in urgency" and announced an ambitious goal of securing all nuclear material within four years.
- Securing the Bomb 2008 -- by Matthew Bunn
- Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe -- by Graham Allison
- The Armageddon Test -- by Rolf Mowatt-Larssen
- Frequently Asked Questions about Nuclear Terrorism -- by Matthew Bunn
Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, right sitting, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, left sitting, sign a nuclear cooperation agreement at a ceremony in Rome's Villa Madama residence, Feb. 24, 2009.
"Encourages efforts to advance development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy in a framework that reduces proliferation risk and adheres to the highest international standards for safeguards, security, and safety."
- A Nuclear Revival Needs New Cooperation -- by Matthew Bunn and Martin Malin
The Fuel Cycle: A Multilateral Approach
Encourages the work of the IAEA on multilateral approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle, including assurances of nuclear fuel supply and related measures
Some worry that a spread of nuclear power worldwide will also result in the proliferation of nuclear weapons. One proposal to mitigate that danger is to put control of uranium enrichment under multilateral control, rather than under control of a single country. One such proposal would guarantee low enriched uranium to non-nuclear weapons states that have placed all of their peaceful nuclear activities under IAEA safeguards.
- Internationalization of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Goals, Strategies, and Challenges -- Report, The National Academies Press
- Buffett's Gamble Tips the Odds Toward Nuclear Nonproliferation -- by Graham Allison
A State's Withdrawal from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty
Undertakes to address without delay any State's notice of withdrawal from the NPT...and affirms that a State remains responsible under international law for violations of the NPT committed prior to its withdrawal.
North Korea is the only signatory to the NPT that has subsequently withdrawn.
Minimize Highly Enriched Uranium for Civilian Uses
"Calls upon all States to manage responsibly and minimize to the greatest extent that is technically and economically feasible the use of highly enriched uranium for civilian purposes."
Many university research reactors across the United States and worldwide still run on highly enriched uranium, the easiest material from which to make bombs. On balance, these are not well-secured and pose a danger of nuclear theft. The Bush Administration launched an effort in 2004 to convert these facilities to low-enriched uranium; this is making progress, but there is still more to be done. Some civilian power reactors and medical reactors also continue to use HEU.
- Preventing Nuclear Terrorism: An Agenda for the Next President -- by Matthew Bunn and Andrew Newman
- Bombs that Won't Go Off -- by Anthony Weir and Matthew Bunn
Members of the media: To speak with faculty and experts at Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center regarding President Obama's nuclear resolution and the UN nonproliferation session, please contact:
- Sasha Talcott, 617-495-7831, email@example.com
- Sharon Wilke, 617-495-9858, firstname.lastname@example.org
For additional publications on these and related issues, see the Belfer Center's Project on Managing the Atom website.
For Academic Citation: