Tuesday, July 31, 2007

History of American Policies, Part VI: Current Strategies

The 2003 National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction calls for a three-pronged approach:
* Counterproliferation
* Nonproliferation
* Consequence management
While the distinction between counterproliferation and nonproliferation is not clearly articulated, their constituent parts make it clear that counterproliferation deals with the effects of WMD proliferation, whereas nonproliferation seeks to avoid WMD proliferation in the first place. Thus, the Strategy calls for three types of policies to support counterproliferation:
* The interdiction of “WMD materials, technology and expertise” to prevent their transfer to “hostile states and terrorist organizations”
* The deterrence of WMD usage through the threat of “overwhelming force”
* “Robust active and passive defenses and mitigation measures.”
In the realm of nonproliferation, the Strategy identifies six tools for preventing the spread of WMDs:
* Diplomacy
* Multilateral arms control regimes
* Threat reduction cooperation (the foremost such program being the Nunn-Lugar program)
* Controls on nuclear materials
* Export controls
* Nonproliferation sanctions
Most of these have little or no bearing on the non-state transfer of C/BW: interdiction is easier said than done when dual-use technologies are involved; overwhelming force is unlikely to deter shadowy and suicidal terrorist networks; arms control regimes are worth little if not respected by the signatory states; export controls do little to affect the black market; and sanctions – for which there is little political will regarding Russia – will do little to prevent theft of CB/W.

In May, 2003, the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) was launched, with eleven nations agreeing to its Statement of Interdiction Principles. This document calls on states to
(1) “undertake effective measures, either alone or in concert with other states, for interdicting the transfer or transport of WMD, their delivery systems, and related materials to and from states and non-state actors of proliferation concern,”
(2) “adopt streamlined procedures for rapid exchange of relevant information,
(3) “strengthen their relevant national legal authorities… and… relevant international law and frameworks” and
(4) “take specific actions in support of interdiction efforts regarding cargoes of WMD, their delivery systems, or related materials,” primarily relating to boarding and searching ships.
How effective these measures will be in intercepting small quantities of C/BW being trafficked by non-state actors remains to be seen, though the flexible nature of the arrangement, based on actions rather than treaties, may be fruitful. PSI does not have member states, per se, though in August, 2005, Russia sent participants to PSI’s Deep Sabre Exercise. Even if Russia herself is reluctant to participate, active cooperation by the states whose waters vessels pass through or whose flags they fly could limit the ability of non-state actors to remove C/BW from Russia.

In April, 2004 the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1540, calling upon states to refrain from helping non-state actors acquire WMDs, tighten WMD site security and corresponding laws, and share intelligence to fight WMD trafficking. While this resolution should be applauded for recognizing the important role of non-state actors and the threat posed by poor site security, it fails to provide credible incentives – positive or negative – for actually carrying out the provisions described. And thus it leaves intact the basic problem of how to convince another state to take better care of its own weapons stockpiles until they can be destroyed.

The 2006 National Security Strategy points out that “terrorists, including those associated with the al-Qaida network, continue to pursue WMD,” while “advances in biotechnology provide greater opportunities for state and non-state actors to obtain dangerous pathogens and equipment.” However, actual methods of dealing with the proliferation of biological and chemical weapons are not articulated in this document. Instead, the Strategy explains that
The United States is working with partner nations and institutions to strengthen global biosurveillance capabilities for early detection of suspicious outbreaks of disease. We have launched new initiatives at home to modernize our public health infrastructure and to encourage industry to speed the development of new classes of vaccines and medical countermeasures.
None of these efforts, important as they are, do anything to stop C/BW attacks from being launched in the first place. Other measures are needed to ensure that C/BW do not fall into the hands of terrorists in the first place.

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