Nuclear Mangos

This blog is intended to provide reliable technical analysis of nuclear issues with non-state actors and nuclear beginner states. Some technical issues have important policy implications that citizens in a democracy should be able to make informed decisions about. The motivation for the blog has been the incredible amount of lies & hyperbole on the Iran situation of early 2006. The blog title is to remind you constantly of the quality of minds in charge of our nuclear security today.

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Location: MA

Until recently I was a physics professor at Harvard, where I taught the nuclear and particle physics course, among others. I've recently left that position to work as an R&D physicist in security applications. I have never done classified weapons work.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The NATO Interpretation of NPT Withdrawal

Via the Project on European Nuclear Nonproliferation:


The key document on the US interpretation of Articles I and II is entitled Questions on the Draft Non-Proliferation Treaty asked by US Allies together with Answers given by the United States. (See Annex 2.) The Questions and Answers were enclosed with a letter from Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, to President Johnson. The letter and the Questions and Answers were then transmitted to the Senate on 9 July 1968, along with other relevant documents, for consideration during the Senate ratification hearings on the NPT. This interpretation was thereby made public on 9 July 1968, eight days after the NPT signing ceremony at which the first 56 nations had signed the Treaty.

They also point out:

The US is the only country which has explicitly stated that once a general war has begun, it would no longer feel bound by the NPT. It has thus created a loophole by which it could withdraw from the Treaty without the three month notice period required by NPT article X. In addition, the US approach implicitly creates a loophole for NNWS members of NATO to withdraw from their treaty obligations and receive US nuclear weapons in the event of war.

The Questions and Answers themselves can be found at PENN; here is the relevant passage from what was transmitted to the Senate:

3. Q. Does the draft treaty prohibit arrangements for the deployment of nuclear weapons owned and controlled by the United States within the territory of non-nuclear NATO members?

A. It does not deal with arrangements for deployment of nuclear weapons within allied territory as these do not involve any transfer of nuclear weapons or control over them unless and until a decision were made to go to war, at which time the treaty would no longer be controlling.

(emphasis mine)

I suspect that there is some diligent diplomat in the Iranian Foreign Ministry who has all this laid out for presentation to the UN Security Council within a few hours of any military action. I wouldn't count on a 3-month grace period before enrichment starts.

Hoist, petard, etc.

2 Comments:

Blogger Andrew Foland said...

The logic of the US position actually has some sense to it; that NPT would have failed in the event. That said, the logic was submitted during negotiation of the treaty, and the other signatories declined to write it in and agree to it.

8:39 PM  
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