Dateline: December 3, 2001

This is the weekly electronic information service of the International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility

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CONTENTS of WNII No. 47/2001


Abolition 2000 homepage: http://www.abolition2000.org    Grassroots News: http://www.napf.org/abolition2000/news/

Middle Powers Initiative Statement on Bush-Putin Nuclear Arms Reduction Plans (as of 27 November 2001; slightly abridged)

At the Bush-Putin Summit, held November 13-15, 2001, President Bush announced plans to unilaterally reduce the US strategic nuclear arsenal from approximately 7,000 nuclear weapons to between 2,200 and 1,700 over a ten-year period. President Putin announced that Russia would make similar reductions. No announcement was made with regard to the large inventories of tactical nuclear weapons in the arsenal of each country. ()

While any cuts in nuclear arsenals are certainly steps in the right direction and we support the positive relationship between the two presidents, we are concerned that these announced arms cuts reflect neither the urgency nor comprehensiveness required to meet the standards set forth in the 13 Practical Steps of the 2000 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, or to prevent nuclear accidents from occurring or nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists. Above all, what was required was a recognition that nuclear weapons do not bring security, and nuclear deterrence is irrelevant to the current world crisis.

President Putin had previously offered reductions to 1,500 strategic nuclear weapons or even lower in START III negotiations. Putin aides had let it be known that this number could go down to 1,000 or possibly lower. The US plan, therefore, did not even go to a level previously proposed by the Russians. Under the current Bush-Putin plan, there will still be enough strategic nuclear weapons in the arsenals of the two countries at the end of ten years to destroy civilization and life as we know it.

The proposed new warhead numbers contradict President Bush's claim that Russia is no longer an enemy, and suggest that this new proposal is a rationalization and modernization of nuclear deterrence rather than a serious move towards meeting the legal obligations of the two countries to eliminate nuclear arsenals. Overall, the proposed cuts reflect an intention of the two countries to continue to rely upon their nuclear arsenals for security for the foreseeable future.

While the earlier Russian proposals did not specify a timeframe, ten years lacks a sense of urgency, particularly in the context that more than ten years have already passed since the end of the Cold War. The two countries had initially agreed in the START II Treaty to reduce their arsenals to 3,500 strategic nuclear weapons each by January 1, 2003. This date was set back to December 31, 2007 by Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin. Now Presidents Bush and Putin plan to take an additional four years to lower the arsenals to 2,200 to 1,700 strategic nuclear weapons.

Unilateral cuts are not bolstered by binding agreements. What is unilaterally cut may later be unilaterally reversed. This is not in keeping with the principle of irreversibility set forth by the parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Under the current plan, it is likely that the plutonium pits of the weapons will be retained by each country for potential future use should a decision be made to re-arm.

Unilateral cuts also tend to undermine the importance of international law by circumventing the process of reaching multinational agreements. US and Russian leadership is needed in bolstering multinational arms control efforts, such as the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Entry-into-Force Conference, which the US recently boycotted. ()

The two presidents failed to address the alert status of their nuclear arsenals. Presently each country has some 2,250 strategic nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert, ready to be fired on a few minutes' notice. This state of high alert makes no sense more than ten years after the end of the Cold War. It increases the possibility of an accidental nuclear war such as almost occurred in January 1995 when a US-Norwegian satellite launch was initially mistaken by the Russians as an attack on their country. It would be prudent for the two countries to eliminate their policies of launch-on warning to reduce the danger of launching to an accidental or unauthorized attack.

The two presidents also failed to address tactical or battlefield nuclear weapons. These are the weapons most likely to be used in a war and are also the most likely to fall into the hands of terrorists. Not to address this issue leaves open the possibility that either country might be tempted to cross the nuclear threshold and use tactical nuclear weapons, at a time when all countries should be working to delegitimize them and thereby help prevent further proliferation.

President Bush had hoped to reach an agreement with President Putin to amend the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty to allow for testing of sea-based, air-based and space-based missile defense systems. President Putin, however, held firm on the importance of maintaining this treaty as "a cornerstone of strategic stability."

President Putin's view of this treaty is in keeping with that of the international community as reflected in the Final Document of the 2000 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, which called for "preserving and strengthening the ABM Treaty as a cornerstone of strategic stability and as a basis for further reductions of strategic offensive weapons."

We would suggest that Presidents Bush and Putin revisit nuclear disarmament issues in a broader framework when they next meet in Moscow in March 2002. Specifically, we recommend the following:

1. In preparation for their Moscow meeting, they make a thorough review of the Final Document of the 2000 Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty with particular emphasis on the 13 Practical Steps set forth therein.

2. Strategic arms reductions be approached with a far greater sense of urgency, and that this urgency be communicated to the public by the two presidents.

3. Strategic arms reductions be set forth in a START III Treaty with provisions for verification, transparency and irreversibility.

4. The alert status of nuclear arsenals and launch policies be placed on the agenda with the goals of taking all nuclear weapons off of high alert status and ending launch-on-warning policies.

5. Tactical nuclear weapons be placed on the agenda with the goal of eliminating these weapons altogether.

6. The ABM Treaty be maintained and reaffirmed as "a cornerstone of strategic stability."

7. An inventory be established and maintained of all nuclear weapons and fissile materials globally, beginning with accountings of all US and Russian nuclear weapons and materials.

8. The above inventory be used to strengthen safeguard and disposal procedures to prevent nuclear weapons and fissile materials from falling into unauthorized hands.

9. The two presidents give their support to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and its ratification by all states needed for its entry into force.

10. The two presidents give leadership to convening a multilateral conference for realizing the "unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear- weapons States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals."


[+] See also: Bush, Putin Summit Ends Without ABM Agreement; Center for Defense Information NMD Update #35, Nov. 20, 2001: http://www.cdi.org/hotspots/issuebrief/ch6/index.html#update 

UN Under-Secretary-General on Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and the Rule of Law

At the 20th anniversary celebrations of the US Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy on 27 November, UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs Jayantha Dhanapala made remarks on "Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and the Rule of Law" in which he explained why the rule of law in this field is still in its "infancy", for example the lack of an institutional infrastructure for the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. He also identified the basis for "sustainable disarmament", a "broad-based constituency that is at once dynamic and institutionalized". His remarks can be accessed at.



2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development: Asia-Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting (Source: Earth Negotiations Bulletin, Vol. 22 No. 08, 3 December 2001)

The Asia-Pacific Roundtable on Sustainable Development and the High-Level Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) took place at the Intercontinental Hotel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, from 27-29 November 2001. The Roundtable and Regional Meeting were attended by over 190 representatives from 46 Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) States, two associate members of ESCAP, four non-ESCAP UN member States, and over 220 representatives from UN agencies, multilateral financing institutions, NGOs and other stakeholders. The Regional Meeting produced two outcomes: a Chairman's Summary of the Roundtable; and the Phnom Penh Regional Platform on Sustainable Development for Asia and the Pacific (Platform), which includes a regional assessment of Agenda 21 implementation, key issues and priorities for sustainable development, follow-up actions, and financing sustainable development.

Detailed coverage can be found at: http://www.iisd.ca/linkages/2002/wsasi/ 


Re: USA: On Campus Conservatives Denounce Dissent (WNII 46/01)

The report by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni which this article in WNII 46/01 referred to, is entitled "Defending Civilization: How our Universities Are Failing America and What Can Be Done About It". It is available online as a PDF file at:


In addition, I'd like to draw your attention to another article on this issue written by David Price, Associate Professor of Anthropology at St. Martin's College. (His forthcoming book is Cold War Witch Hunts: The FBI's Surveillance and Repression of Activist Anthropologists.) It is entitled "Academia Under Attack: Sketches For A New Blacklist" and is available from the WNII Editor as an rtf-formatted email attachment.

If you wish to contact David Price: < >


Long-Term Environmental Consequences of the Vietnam War International Vietnam Environmental Conference http://www.nnn.se/vietnam/environ.htm 

Among its other effects, the Vietnam War left a legacy of environmental contamination and destruction that has yet to be thoroughly examined. The issue is important in its own right, but also for the useful knowledge it may yield regarding more recent and future events of a similar nature. The tragedy of the war and its aftermath have thus produced a sort of laboratory for the study of modern warfare and its environmental consequences.

For details, contact the Project Coordinator Al Burke: < >


No new or changed email or web addresses in this issue.   All INES e-mail addresses and homepages are available upon request from:  

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