Tracking Number:  388633

Title:  "NPT's Long-Term Viability Linked to Verification Regime." In order to be useful in the long-term, the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) needs an effective way to verify compliance with its mandates. (950424)

Translated Title:  Viabilidad largo plazo TNP depende de regimen de verificacion.; Le succes du TNP depend du regime de verification. (950424)
Date:  19950424

NPT'S LONG-TERM VIABILITY LINKED TO VERIFICATION REGIME (NPT: Delegates express concerns, recommendations) (930) By Jacquelyn S. Porth USIA Security Affairs Correspondent United Nations -- The "long-term viability" of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) "certainly rests on the capability and the efficacy of verification methods," says the president of the NPT review conference.

Jayantha Dhanapala, who is also Sri Lanka's ambassador to the United States, made this observation at the opening of the month-long NPT review and extension conference now underway at the United Nations.

While many people considered verification to be a "peripheral" disarmament issue in the 1980s, Dhanapala recalled April 17, since then there has been "a conversion of international opinion on the importance of verification."

Dhanapala is among many conference delegates who have underscored the importance of verification. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told the representatives of more than 170 NPT member nations that one reason for the treaty's success is the existence of "more diversified means of verification."

Just as no one wants to see new states acquire nuclear arms, he said, no one wants "to be deprived of credible means for verifying that such is not the case. No one wants to return to the period of distrust and absurd competition which provided justification for the arms race."

Peruvian Foreign Minister Efrain Goldenberg-Schreiber told conference attendees that it "is imperative and urgent" to strengthen "the existing multilateral machinery of safeguards, detection and verification."

H.L. de Silva, Sri Lanka's permanent representative to the United Nations, believes the NPT's verification system has been "a prisoner of its vintage" and he urged NPT members to "look at contemporary methods and technologies of verifying compliance."

Although The existing verification regime "derives its authority from Article III of the NPT and is applied to declared (nuclear) facilities," de Silva pointed out, several compliance concerns have arisen from "activities related to undeclared (nuclear) facilities." The NPT review conferences, held every five years, are the only available forum for all NPT members to address "such compliance issues...on an equal footing," he said.

The U.N. Security Council deals with compliance issues "where they affect the maintenance of international peace and security," de Silva explained, but that forum is not open to all NPT parties. Also noting that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which verifies safeguards implementation for the Security Council, has "a membership going beyond the NPT," he added that the council "may have among its membership non-treaty parties."

In an effort to address this problem, Sri Lanka has proposed creating a mechanism to address compliance issues. De Silva contended that "a graduated approach for promoting compliance" could "minimize tensions" which may arise when Security Council enforcement measures are called into question. Such a mechanism, he said, would "enhance confidence in the treaty."

IAEA Director General Hans Blix pointed out that the IAEA last year had responsibility for verification procedures at 170 nuclear power reactors, 158 research reactors and critical assembly plants, and 196 other facilities. And "Significant increases" in IAEA's responsibilities are anticipated, he said, not only because of the accession to the NPT of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, but also because "the quantity of nuclear material under safeguards, particularly plutonium and highly enriched uranium, is also increasingly rapidly."

IAEA'S verification system, Blix said, "is a key component of the non-proliferation regime and the agency is making substantial efforts to strengthen it." NPT safeguards can be made more effective, he said, if states grant the IAEA "greater access to information and sites."

IAEA safeguards inspections increased from 1,981 in 1985 to 2,338 in 1994. Verification is a prominent discussion topic at the NPT conference because of incidents which have occurred in several world regions since the last treaty review five years ago.

"The scale of Iraq's clandestine nuclear weapons program has been a salutary shock for all of us," British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd told treaty members April 18 on the second day of the conference. Citing North Korean activities which have "presented us with a problem," Hurd also singled out Iran, noting that "many of us are anxious" about that nation's nuclear intentions.

German Foreign Affairs Minister Klaus Kinkel said events in Iraq and North Korea make it important for the IAEA to have "the right" to exercise and enforce "special inspections in non-declared sites."

The head of Mongolia's delegation to the NPT, Ambassador L. Erdenechuluun, has argued forcefully for adoption of an improved and enhanced verification system "to provide credible assurances (so) that no undeclared nuclear activities" can escape the IAEA safeguards machinery.

In a study released in March, Patricia Lewis, director of the London-based VERTIC (Verification Technology Information Centre), explained that even past nuclear activities can be detected by using environmental monitoring techniques which sample air, soil, water, vegetation and even exposed building surfaces to determine illegal nuclear activity. The technique, she explained, can have "a significant deterrent effect."

VERTIC is an independent non-profit group of scientists and arms control experts who conduct research on the technologies and methodologies of nuclear verification.

Lewis also noted that the IAEA is creating a computer model "to describe the known paths for nuclear weapons proliferation," which will look at dual-use technology and non-nuclear materials.

In remarks to some of the heads of NPT delegations on April 20, another VERTIC representative, Richard Gutherie, explained advanced verification techniques which are available in addition to on-site inspections such as satellite imagery, seismic monitoring and placing tags and seals on critical equipment and materials.