ACCESSION NUMBER:257433 FILE ID:NEA205 DATE:12/08/92 TITLE:EXPERT URGES NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION REFORMS (12/08/92) TEXT:*92120805.NEA 12/8/vertic/greene/npt/lessons of iraq/bg sa kf *NEA205 12/08/92 * EXPERT URGES NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION REFORMS (Owen Greene reviews "Lessons of Iraq" 12/8/92) (680) By Berta Gomez USIA Staff Writer Washington -- The period between now and 1995 is likely to be a "turning point" for the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), according to an expert who believes that the current inspection regimes must be reformed -- both to improve their effectiveness and to restore public confidence in the NPT. 1 The changes recommended by Owen Greene, a member of the London-based Verification Technology Information Center (VERTIC), revolve around the strengthening of existing verification structures. In particular, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) should be bolstered by stronger export controls, closer ties to the United Nations Security Council, and better communication with national intelligence agencies, Greene said at a December 8 press briefing to discuss the findings of a new report he wrote for VERTIC. Greene said that in purely political terms, the NPT has been "enormously strengthened" since 1990. France, China and South Africa became parties to the treaty; Argentina and Brazil accepted "full-scope" compliance with its safeguards. Moreover, the fact that all five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council are NPT members could herald a new era of cooperation on various non-proliferation issues. But Greene also warned that dangers abound: instability in the former Soviet Union could lead to new nuclear weapon states, as well as the "incomplete" denuclearization of Ukraine and Kazakhstan. Brazil and South Africa might retain elements of a nuclear weapons "infrastructure," rendering them suspicious. In the VERTIC report, Greene noted that "the absence of India, Pakistan and Israel from the regime, linked with the regional tensions in the Middle East and South Asia, continues to threaten its long-term survival." Continuing tensions in Central Asia or the North Asia-Pacific region could be similarly conducive to nuclear proliferation, the report indicated. "Perhaps most worrying of all is the continuing ambiguity of Ukrainian policy towards nuclear weapons, in which the possibility of confrontation with Russia and the lifetime habits of its ex-Soviet governing elite are probably key factors." Greene also pointed out that the post-Gulf War revelation of Iraq's extensive nuclear weapons program highlighted the limitations of the current NPT verification system and "rocked confidence" in the regime. (Iraq ratified the NPT in 1969, and as late as 1990 was publicly listed by the IAEA as a compliant member.) Although it was believed that national intelligence agencies would alert the U.N. or the IAEA to treaty violations, Greene noted that British (and other national) intelligence agencies were aware of Iraq's nuclear program but chose to downplay its significance for reasons of foreign policy and trade. Having reviewed the problems of the current system, Greene argued that it would be unwise -- and politically unworkable -- to dismantle it entirely and begin anew. It would be preferable, he said, to keep the IAEA "at the center" of the verification system, as long as certain "radical" reforms were adopted. They included: -- "Improved transparency" and a "universal system" of reporting imports, exports and production of all nuclear materials and "sensitive" non-nuclear materials and equipment. -- An increased capacity for frequent inspections at declared nuclear facilities, "particularly in states with relatively small nuclear programs where...a significant quantity of fissile material might be divided between two or more sites." -- An increased capacity for "special inspections" of undeclared sites. The inspections would have to become less predictable, and cover a wider spectrum of facilities. 1 -- Closing "loopholes" that allow states to withdraw fissile materials from safeguards under certain conditions. -- Phasing out civil stocks of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium. -- Linking the IAEA to the international intelligence community. Greene stressed that enhanced verification procedures would be universally reassuring. If Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan agree to the NPT, for example, the strengthened regime can serve to reassure their neighbors and their citizens -- as well as the United States -- of their intentions. NNNN .