Saturday, April 26, 2014
Declassified Documents Show Henry Kissinger's Major Role in the 1974 Initiative That Created the Nuclear Suppliers Group
|Henry Kissinger. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Washington, D.C., April 21, 2014– Henry Kissinger played a slightly reluctant but nonetheless highly influential role in establishing the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in the mid-1970s, motivated equally by concern about nuclear proliferation and a desire to keep U.S. officials from "charging around the world, like Don Quixote," according to documents posted today by the National Security Archive and the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project. The newly declassified records also describe France's cooperative role in establishing the NSG, despite French concerns to be seen as pursuing an independent policy on nonproliferation.
During the first months of 1975, when Secretary of State Henry Kissinger's State Department was working with other allies to organize the Nuclear Suppliers Group, it was difficult to make headway with France, a key nuclear exporter which was reluctant to join the effort to regulate exports of sensitive nuclear technology and materials. The French rejected the comprehensive nuclear safeguards that Washington favored because they "did not want to be accused of acting with nuclear suppliers to gang up on non-NPT [Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty] parties and even some NPT countries." Reacting to the U.S. proposal to regulate sensitive nuclear exports to unstable countries, French diplomats argued that it was on "dangerous ground" and that imposing such constraints raised "political dangers." Nevertheless, the French had their own concerns about the spread of nuclear weapons capabilities and when Kissinger made assurances, they came on board the NSG.
The Nuclear Suppliers Group has played a significant role in the history of the nonproliferation system since the 1970s, although the concerns raised by the French indicate why it was a controversial project very early on. The shock created by the Indian "peaceful nuclear explosion" in May 1974 raised questions about the safeguarding of sensitive nuclear technology. With growing competition for sales of nuclear reactors and equipment, U.S. government officials worried about an emerging nuclear proliferation risk that could destabilize international relations and damage U.S. interests. Accordingly, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger authorized a secret diplomatic process to create a high-level group that would establish criteria for preventing the diversion of sensitive nuclear technology and materials into nuclear weapons production. Declassified U.S. government documents shed light on the U.S. government role in the creation of the NSG during 1974-1975. The other founding members were governments on both sides of the Cold War line: Canada, France, Japan, West Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Soviet Union.
Sometimes known as the "London Club," after the location of its headquarters, the purpose of the NSG has been to fill a gap in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1968. The Treaty stipulated that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would provide safeguards for exports of nuclear supplies but it did not create any arrangements for discouraging nuclear exporters from equipping non-nuclear weapons states with sensitive technology. Moreover, NPT Article III covered exports of equipment but did not specify technology as such. Once the NPT had been ratified by many states, large and small, a Swiss academic, Professor Claude Zangger, established a working group of nuclear exporters to develop a trigger list of supplies requiring safeguards. The Zangger Committee, however, did not include technology in its trigger list. That, and France's non-membership — it had refused to sign the NPT — raised diplomatic problems that the administration of President Gerald R. Ford had to resolve.
Among the documents in today's publication:
- A "memcon" of Kissinger's conversation with Canadian Foreign Minister Mitchell Sharp after the Indian "peaceful nuclear explosion" in May 1974. Canada had sold India the nuclear reactor that helped produce plutonium for the test, but Kissinger said that U.S. safeguards were also "lousy" (Washington had made heavy water available to India)
- A memorandum where Kissinger was given the choice of a "low visibility" meeting involving the "most advanced nuclear industrial states" or "a larger, well publicized conference involving numerous other states" He chose the "more restrictive" option, probably to make the meeting more "manageable."
- The initial U.S. proposal for nuclear suppliers' guidelines, including "special restraints" over exports of sensitive enrichment and reprocessing technologies and "stringent" conditions where nuclear exports could exacerbate instability and conflict.
- Records of U.S.-French bilateral meetings where French officials expressed fears of joining a "cartel" of nuclear "haves," being "isolated" at a suppliers' conference, being "pressured to adopt unacceptable policies," or made to look like a "renegade" on nuclear proliferation issues.
- A message to Kissinger expressing concern that news of a loosely safeguarded Brazilian-West German nuclear deal made it urgent to move forward with a suppliers group which included the French, so that such problems could be discussed.
- Messages between Kissinger and French Foreign Minister Jean Sauvagnargues, including Kissinger's commitment that suppliers group agreements would be based on consensus, enabling France to join without fear of group pressures.
- Memoranda on the Canadian-French controversy over "full scope safeguards," during which Washington stayed on the sidelines so as not to isolate the French, who opposed full-scope as part of the NPT, which they had refused to sign.
- The Nuclear Suppliers Group guidelines, approved in fall 1975, which called for "restraint" in the transfer of sensitive technologies and regular consultations between suppliers, including over "sensitive cases" to "ensure that transfer does not contribute to risks of conflict or instability, and included a "trigger list" of items that would require safeguards by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
- An assessment of the 1975 nuclear suppliers' guidelines, in which Assistant Secretary of State for Politico-Military Affairs George Vest wrote that they "served to close many of the loopholes and inadequacies of previous nuclear cooperation agreements between suppliers and recipients," but could not prevent "indigenous" development of nuclear weapons capabilities.
Convincing France to participate in the suppliers group was a central problem; the French had refused to sign the NPT but were becoming more concerned about the spread of nuclear capabilities. Yet, as noted, they were also concerned about appearances — that governments without a nuclear infrastructure would see the suppliers group as a "cartel" designed to keep them down. Indeed, this became a significant objection to the Nuclear Suppliers' Group over the years. Nevertheless, from the U.S. standpoint, French involvement in the project was crucial because the Japanese and West Germans were unlikely to join without the French. After the French government had assented, the suppliers group began meeting although it would operate on a "lowest common denominator" basis in order to keep France from being "isolated" on key issue such as full-scope safeguards. Pre-existing agreements on sensitive cases (e.g., Brazil-West Germany or Pakistan-France) remained subjects of bilateral discussions.
The Nuclear Suppliers Group started out, and remains, an essentially voluntary international organization. From the outset, its guidelines did not have the force of international law and depended on action by the member states to observe and implement them. Nevertheless, the NSG became an important and enduring institution in the nuclear nonproliferation system, supplementing and supporting both the NPT and the IAEA.
During 1976, the NSG expanded membership to broaden support for its objectives. Nevertheless, in 1978, it stopped meeting because of internal differences over the next steps, such as the role of full-scope safeguards. The guidelines, which became public in 1978 when the IAEA published them, served as a reference tool for nuclear export policies, but Washington pressed the other NSG members to tacitly expand the trigger list by seeking prohibitions of specific dual-use exports bound for nuclear programs in such countries as Pakistan. It was not until the 1990 Gulf War, when the West discovered the extent of Iraq's nuclear program, that a consensus developed for tougher nuclear export controls. In this context, the NSG began meeting again and expanded its membership further. It also adopted full-scope safeguards, but years later granted India an exception that haunts the nonproliferation regime.
That the NSG emerged when it did and in the form it took was due in part to Henry Kissinger's role, not least his success in securing French involvement. Yet, as an NSG founding father, Kissinger barely discusses nonproliferation, much less the Group's creation, in his three volumes of memoirs. With his focus on U.S-Soviet crises and diplomacy, SALT I and II, the wars in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and normalization of relations with China, perhaps he sees the NSG as rather small change. Moreover, Kissinger may have found writing about nonproliferation issues somewhat tricky. He and President Richard Nixon had been dismissive of the NPT, but Kissinger changed course during 1974-1975 and that would have to be explained. Moreover, nonproliferation policy during the 1960s and 1970s cannot be discussed without tackling sensitive questions such as the Israeli nuclear program and why Kissinger had acquiesced in it, in contrast to taking a more activist approach to check Pakistani nuclear plans during 1975-1976. Perhaps, Kissinger concluded that this was one issue that resisted his strong interest in using memoirs and other writings to justify his record of diplomacy.
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Okinawa base tensions remain as Barack Obama heads to Japan seeking to shore up Asia Pacific power - Australia Network News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Okinawa base tensions remain as Barack Obama heads to Japan seeking to shore up Asia Pacific power - Australia Network News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
The base on Japan's southern island, America's biggest military base in the region, has been a source of tension for decades.
Okinawa is the poorest province in Japan with the highest jobless rate, and the vast majority of Okinawa's 1.4 million people want the US bases out.
Seiryo Arakaki, the chairman of the local government's committee on US bases, says Okinawa hosts 75 per cent of US bases in Japan but the people are getting little in return.
"Our land has been occupied by the US military," he said.
"We want it returned so we can decide how to use our land.
"We want more control."
Locals are sick of the noise, the military accidents and the crime the US servicemen bring.
Over the years, assaults have been common - the most prominent was the rape and abduction of a 12-year-old girl.
Now the anger is being fuelled by the discovery of what has been left behind.
On a hilltop overlooking the East China Sea sit dozens of abandoned military houses - handed back to locals by the US military as a goodwill gesture.
Mr Arakaki, whose ancestral gravesites are on the land, says no-one wants to move in.
"There is asbestos in the floor tiles and in the ceilings," he said.
"The US military and Japanese government did not tell us."
On the other side of Okinawa city, when the council tried to resurface a soccer field last year, they found a toxic dump. It's now off limits to the public.
"A total of 83 barrels were dug out and the first test results found dioxides inside the barrels and surrounding soil," said Masami Kawamura, a member of a local environment group.
The Japanese defence department has found some of the barrels contain 2,4,5-T, a key ingredient in Agent Orange.
During the Vietnam War, the US bases in Okinawa stored Agent Orange and nerve gas.
Across Okinawa, dozens of toxic sites have been identified and locals fear there will be many more.
The problem for the locals is that under the operational terms of agreement the US has with Japan, the US military does not have to clean up or compensate for any pollution it causes.
"Under the current agreements they'll be responsible for the remediation, if there is even any requirement for remediation of the land," said Colonel James Flynn, the commanding officer of US base Futenma.
"The government of Japan will be responsible for taking care of that."
Many Okinawans don't see themselves as Japanese.
For hundreds of years, they had an independent kingdom with a distinct culture until the Japanese annexed the island in 1879.
Because of the local opposition, the Americans plan to move the airfield to Camp Schwab, in the more remote Nago area of north Okinawa.
The security treaty between Japan and the US protects Japan and its people, but only Okinawa bears the burden. This is wrong, anyone can see that.Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine.
Even this proposal is facing stiff opposition, from locals including Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine.
"The security treaty between Japan and the US protects Japan and its people, but only Okinawa bears the burden," he said
"This is wrong, anyone can see that.
"It's double colonisation by the American side and the other, by the Japanese side."
Chikako Taguchi and her family live in Nago on the Oura Bay, where the US plans to construct two new airfields in a V-shape across the mouth of the bay.
"We've been told it will be 10 metres high from the sea level," she said.
"It will pollute the ocean, kill the coral, and destroy this environment."
The area is home to unique and endangered marine life, which has been recognised by the United Nations.
"A creature called the dugong lives here and this is the local community's sea and my sea," said Chikako's daughter Wakana.
"It's a most precious thing and I'm proud of it."
We've stopped the expansion of US bases before and we did it in a non-violent way, so we can stand up to the huge US military.Protester Hiroshi Ashitomi
Hiroshi Ashitomi has been protesting against the proposed relocation for 10 years and says opposition is growing.
"We have a history of resistance in Okinawa," he said.
"We've stopped the expansion of US bases before and we did it in a non-violent way, so we can stand up to the huge US military."
Mayor Inamine says he has the power to delay the expansion by locking out construction firms, by denying them access to ports and roads.
"I will refuse all applications if the purposes are for reconstruction," he said.
Map: Okinawa base
The US military says while it respects the rights of the protesters, the relocation will go ahead.
Futenma base commander Colonel James Flynn says the security of the region is far too important.
"Despite the fact that there's discussion that Futenma is going away, there's an agreement that a new airfield is to be built and will be built here in the next couple of years," he said.
"We still continue to operate as we have been in order to continue the missions at hand."
The US bases are a central part of President Obama's military re-focus into the Asia Pacific region.
They are also the front line in tensions over the East China Sea, near the region's biggest flashpoint.
The standoff over the disputed islands, called Senkaku by Japan and Diaoyu by China, has brought the two countries close to war and threatened to draw in the United States.
The US wants to maintain its supremacy in the Western Pacific, but it is facing an increasingly assertive China.
In the event of any conflict, the US bases in Okinawa will be a first response and a forward position, and are absolutely essential in America's strategic rebalance back into the Asia Pacific region.
Up to 100,000 troops can be deployed to deal with an unpredictable North Korea and China's growing military might.
"Its location here is critical for not only US interests, but certainly in the alliance with the government in Japan, as well as other partners we have in the region," Colonel Flynn said.
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