A Realistic Prospect

Much can be done to advance a Strategic Concept for Removal of Arms and Proliferation – including setting deadlines to conclude negotiations and implement agreements. It took just eighteen months to overcome the ideological and technological issues governing the Cold War armies.

Today, with this precedent as a guide and no ideological barrier comparable to the confrontation with communism, general and complete disarmament could be agreed within two years of the talks starting.

The basis for a global-disarmament concept already exists in current agreements. Adapting procedures that have worked in the past in order to safeguard our future is more effective than trying to develop a new frameworks and procedures.

The ‘best practice’ lies in the UNMOVIC work in Iraq and in the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). UN inspectors should have access to the permanent members of the Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) as well as to the ‘smaller’ nuclear powers (India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea). These procedures will also be effective in restricting terrorist access to nuclear technology; and they can be adapted to work with biological and chemical weapons.

In practice, the START and Intermediate Nuclear Force (INF) agreements of the Reagan-Gorbachev era should be extended to all states, and include missile defence and Star Wars systems. New START includes an important innovation by establishing a total number of missile launchers regardless of whether they are carrying nuclear or conventional weapons. The practice developed in UNMOVIC also provides a template for intrusive and effective WMD verification. The European agreements reducing and regulating tanks, artillery, helicopters and warplanes should also be globalised and include naval vessels.

Most of the technical work has already been done for all these agreements. Implementation could therefore be swift. The extension of these agreements to naval systems can be achieved technically by using similar categories of weapons to those on shore, as the types are very similar.

Encompassing space weapons can be achieved through launcher inspection and data exchange on previously located assets.

Through this process, 75 per cent of all stocks would be verifiably scrap’d in two years and the remaining quarter would be cut again by 75 per cent in the next two years. After a decade at this rate, the weapons are gone, or a lower limit is agreed.

A policy research agenda needs to be developed for SCRAP. This needs to include the definition of what states are entitled to retain for internal reasons pursuant to the duty of the state to retain a monopoly on the use of force, holdings by private contractors, the interface between small arms and light weapons categories and the lower sizes of weapons under the existing CFE arrangements. Lessons learned need to be shared between the experiences of European arms control and humanitarian disarmament processes.

An international coalition could build upon the important precedents set by the Australia-Japan Commission and the earlier Canberra Commission, the Blix Commission, governmental initiatives by Norway, Germany and the UK, and non-governmental reports from BASIC to Amnesty International, across the spectrum of human security and development. The bonus for citizens in every country, taxpayers, the poor and the global economy as a whole would be immense.

How can you become involved in SCRAP?

SCRAP proposes timetables and a draft treaty for consideration at the United Nations General Assembly, which takes place in September every year. Support our efforts to have SCRAP introduced at the UN General Assembly by sending a letter of support to your government.

If you are a SOAS student interested in working for SCRAP, please fill in this form here