John McCain seems to have broken with President Bush today on several aspects of his nonproliferation policy.
He is more favorable to international treaties, for starters. He recognizes that the United States and Russia, with the vast majority of the world’s nuclear weapons, must take the lead in eliminating those weapons.
The United States cannot and will not stop the spread of nuclear weapons by unilateral action. We must lead concerted and persistent multilateral efforts. As powerful as we are, America's ability to defend ourselves and our allies against the threat of nuclear attack depends on our ability to encourage effective international cooperation. We must strengthen the accords and institutions that make such cooperation possible.However, he is vague about the treaties. He seems to say that we must work with Russia to extend the START treaty, but his words are weaker than that, and he doesn’t mention that START is used to verify the Moscow Treaty, which he doesn’t mention at all, although he does say he would like “a new arms control agreement with Russia reflecting the nuclear reductions I will seek.” Not clear whether those reductions would be below the Moscow Treaty’s 2200. We should “move quickly with other nations to negotiate a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty” and “seriously consider Russia's recent proposal” to expand the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty to include other countries in banning these missiles. He is also willing to talk to China on strategic and nuclear issues, hopefully bringing them into a warhead-reduction regime.
He would increase funding for the IAEA and the Cooperative Threat Reduction programs, and “ensure the highest possible standards of security for existing nuclear materials.”
He would ask the Joint Chiefs of Staff to review nuclear strategy and policy. Congress has already asked for a review, in connection with funding the Reliable Replacement Warhead.
He would “like to explore ways we and Russia can reduce -- and hopefully eliminate -- deployments of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe.”
He would continue the existing moratorium on nuclear testing, but he sounds doubtful about the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
On a number of issues, he seems to be shoulder-to-shoulder with President Bush. There are the platitudes that the North Korean nuclear program must be “completely, verifiably and irreversibly ended” and that we must keep nuclear, chemical or biological weapons out of the wrong hands. He supports the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Accord. He likes missile defense.
He addresses the problem of the civilian nuclear fuel cycle being used to develop weapons with both sticks and carrots.
… countries that receive the benefits of peaceful nuclear cooperation must return or dismantle what they receive if they violate or withdraw from the NPT… We also need to reverse the burden of proof when it comes to discovering whether a nation is cheating on its NPT commitments…It is for suspected violators to prove they are in compliance…Finally, to enforce treaty obligations, IAEA member states must be willing to impose sanctions on nations that seek to withdraw from it.Of course, the problem of proving a negative remains, whether it is the responsibility of the IAEA or of an accused country. Like that uranium enrichment program that North Korea doesn’t seem to have that broke up the Agreed Framework and opened the way for that underground test.
The carrots are difficult too. McCain recommends “international guarantees of nuclear fuel supply to countries that renounce enrichment and reprocessing,” but by international, he seems to mean from one nation to another. This simply won’t fly, as it hasn’t in the past, because no nation wants to entrust its energy security to another.
He’d like an international repository for nuclear waste, too. Sort of NIMBY writ large.
There’s some saber-rattling against Iran.
Overall, it’s a better set of policies than I might have expected, but still a long way to go. I am skeptical of promises for increased funding and initiatives that don’t sound very different from what has gone before. Some of this will be difficult to work out, and his commitment is not stated strongly.
New York Times (second paragraph is incorrect)