Current US-China Relations

Henry C.K. Liu

Part I: A Lame Duck-Greenhorn Dance

Part II:
US Unilateralism

This article appeared in
AToL on July 1, 2006

State policies or actions are deemed “unilateral” if they have significant impacts on people in other states but undertaken by a single state without the mandate of bilateral or multilateral treaties or in violation or defiance or rejection of such treaties.

US unilateralism did not start with the Bush administration. Its moralistic root traces to Christian Right influence on US foreign policy after WWII, especially over US policy on China. It was the ideological basis for the Cold War with a self-righteous Superpower leading subservient allies who did not have the wherewithal to resist it. It has continued after the end of the Cold War even as allies attempt to assert increasing independence with the disappearance of perceived Soviet threat. The huge power differential between the US as the sole remaining superpower and its former subservient allies gave the US a natural claim and de facto privilege to unilateralism.

President Clinton’s decision to use military force to enforce moral imperialism in the Balkans was based on the view that “US citizens and interests are threatened in many arenas and across a wide spectrum of issues.” These perceived perils as interpreted by US cultural preference range from regional conflicts and insurgency to terrorism and ethnic unrest are viewed as direct threats to US national interests raised to the level of clear and present danger. The interest of the US in maintaining geopolitical stability is predicated on its being a superpower with global economic interests. The US aims to act unilaterally by maintaining a force structure that can conduct simultaneous expeditionary military operations in widely separated theaters around the world against multiple adversaries who may not even be natural allies. This is done by revising its Cold War alliances such as NATO from defensive to offensive regional military assets that the US can deploy at will to achieve US global geopolitical objectives.

The Clinton Doctrine

The Clinton Doctrine subscribes to the proposition that the best way to maintain stability in core regions of US interests such as Western Europe and Japan is to combat instability in periphery regions before it can intensify and spread. It was expressed in Clinton’s February 26, 1999 speech in San Francisco: “… the true measure of our interests lies not in how small or distant these places are … The question we must ask is: what are the consequences to our security of letting conflicts fester and spread … where our values and our interests are at stake, and where we can make a difference, we must be prepared to do so.”

Neoconservative commentator Charles Krauthammer wrote on March 29, 1999 critically about the Clinton Doctrine: “The Clinton Doctrine aspires to morality and universality. But foreign policy must be calculating and particular … … The essence of foreign policy is deciding which son of a bitch to support and which to oppose. One has to choose. A blanket anti-son of a bitch policy, like a blanket anti-ethnic cleansing policy, is soothing, satisfying and empty. It is not a policy at all but righteous self-delusion.”

China is the key SOB nation that US neoconservatives choose to oppose preemptively before it gets too powerful.

Clash of Civilizations

There were other views. Barely two decades after the Cold War, Harvard historian Samuel P. Huntington writes in an article, The Lonely Superpower in the March 1999 issue of Foreign Affairs: “The unipolar moment has passed. Even old allies stubbornly resist American demands, while many other nations view US policy and ideals as openly hostile to their own. Washington is blind to the fact that it no longer enjoys the dominance it had at the end of the Cold War. It must relearn the game of international politics as a major power, not a superpower, and make compromises. US policymaking should reflect rational calculations of power rather than a wish list of arrogant, unilateralist demands.”

Yet Huntington writes in the Summer 1993 Foreign Affairs about the Clash of Civilizations that “the next pattern of conflict … … in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.”

It is common after 9:11 to focus Huntington’s clash of civilizations theme on Islam-Christian conflict. Yet Huntington has a lot to say about Asia in general and China in particular. He quotes MIT political scientist Lucian Pye that China  is “a civilization pretending to be a state.”  He credits common culture as “clearly facilitating the rapid expansion of the economic relations between the People's Republic of China and Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and the overseas Chinese communities in other Asian countries. With the Cold War over, cultural commonalities increasingly overcome ideological differences, and mainland China and Taiwan move closer together. If cultural commonality is a prerequisite for economic integration, the principal East Asian economic bloc of the future is likely to be centered on China. This bloc is, in fact, already coming into existence.”

Further on, Huntington writes: “With the Cold War over, the underlying differences between China and the United States have reasserted themselves in areas such as human rights, trade and weapons proliferation. These differences are unlikely to moderate. A “new cold war,” Deng Xaioping reportedly asserted in 1991, is under way between China and America.” Thus the recent speech by President Hu Jintao at Yale during his summit visit to the US on the peaceful attributes of Chinese civilization will fall on deaf ears in the US.

Huntington pits the West against a coalition of “Confucian-Islamic states”. He sees the conflict between the West and the Confucian-Islamic states focusing “largely, although not exclusively, on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, ballistic missiles and other sophisticated means for delivering them, and the guidance, intelligence and other electronic capabilities for achieving that goal.”  Contrary to evidence, Huntington claims “the West promotes nonproliferation as a universal norm and nonproliferation treaties and inspections as means of realizing that norm. It also threatens a variety of sanctions against those who promote the spread of sophisticated weapons and proposes some benefits for those who do not.” He adds however that “The attention of the West focuses, naturally, on nations that are actually or potentially hostile to the West.”

Huntington goes on: “The non-Western nations, on the other hand, assert their right to acquire and to deploy whatever weapons they think necessary for their security. They also have absorbed, to the full, the truth of the response of the Indian defense minister when asked what lesson he learned from the Gulf War: “Don't fight the United States unless you have nuclear weapons.” Nuclear weapons, chemical weapons and missiles are viewed, probably erroneously, as the potential equalizer of superior Western conventional power. China, of course, already has nuclear weapons; Pakistan and India have the capability to deploy them. North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya and Algeria appear to be attempting to acquire them. A top Iranian official has declared that all Muslim states should acquire nuclear weapons, and in 1988 the president of Iran reportedly issued a directive calling for development of “offensive and defensive chemical, biological and radiological weapons.”

Huntington identifies the sustained expansion of China’s military power and its means to create military power as centrally important to the development of counter-West military capabilities.

According to Huntington, a Confucian-Islamic military connection has thus come into being, designed to promote acquisition by its members of the weapons and weapons technologies needed to counter the military power of the West. The Huntington clash-of-civilizations world view defines the West’s enemies not by what they do, but by who they are. Such a view does not lead to world peace unless all non-Western civilizations are wiped off the face of the earth.

Bush Unilateralism

Critics have cited US decision under the Bush administration to withdraw from the ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missile) Treaty, to violate commitments to the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), to reject the Kyoto Protocol, to invade Iraq without UN approval and to make other hegemonic military-geopolitical-economic moves as evidence of US unilateralism, i.e., a general lack of support for multilateral arms control and global warming agreements, and a blatant disregard for the UN and other multilateral institutions or international consensus.

The cool reception Bush received during his September 2004 address to the 59th session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly was a reflection of how unpopular US unilateralism had become among the international community. US military invasion of Iraq without UN authorization was viewed by many in the international community as a defiance of international law and the unilateral action solicited strong opposition from many governments around the world, including traditional US allies. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called on the world to respect UN authority during his address on the same day as Bush’s. Annan, in an interview with the BBC unambiguously pointed out that any decisions on military action in Iraq should have been made by the UN Security Council and not made unilaterally by a single country. He also criticized Bush’s unilateral policy on Iraq by saying that the war violated the UN Charter and was illegal.

The Kyoto Protocol, opened for signature on December 11, 1997, was signed by 141 nations, including all European and all other developed industrial nations except the US and Australia. The pact went into effect on February 16, 2005, and will expire in 2012. Vice President Al Gore was a main participant in putting the Kyoto Protocol together in 1997. President Bill Clinton signed the agreement in 1997, but the US Senate refused to ratify it, citing potential damage to the US economy as required by compliance, and because it excluded certain developing countries, including India and China, from having to comply with new emissions standards immediately. Bush made campaign promises in 2000 to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. However, as one of the first acts of his presidency Bush pulled the US out of the Kyoto accords, dismissing it as too costly, and described it as “an unrealistic and ever-tightening straitjacket.” Lately, the White House has even questioned the validity of the science behind global warming, and claims that millions of jobs will be lost if the US joins in this world pact, ignoring the larger economic loss from pollution-related health costs and reduction in life expectancy.

China, despite being in the pollution-intensive phase of transitional industrialization, signed the Kyoto pact on May 29, 1998. Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji announced on September 3, 2002 at the World Summit on Sustainable Development that China has approved the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations deposited the instrument of approval of the Kyoto Protocol with the UN secretary-general on August 30.

US policy officially acknowledges that multilateralism is “a core principle in negotiations in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation with a view to maintaining and strengthening universal norms and enlarging their scope” -- as stated in UN General Assembly resolution 56/24 T which also underlined the fact that “progress is urgently needed in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation in order to help maintain international peace and security and to contribute to global efforts against terrorism.” Yet the US asserts that although maintaining international peace and security is its primary goal and overall purpose, in the final analysis preserving national security is equally necessary and essential. “Mutual advantage” is a key factor, for any arms control treaty must enhance the security of all States Parties. Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations since July 2003, former US State Department Policy Planning Head under Colin Powell, described Bush administration support of certain multilateral regimes and organizations but not others as “multilateralism a la carte.”

The five-year review conference for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) held from May 2-27, 2005 at the UN in New York produced a contentious and unproductive outcome. Most participant governments wanted the agenda to mention the decisions taken in the Year 2000 Review Conference, including “the unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon states to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.” (Point 6 of the “Thirteen Steps”) However, the US after 9:11 2001 unilaterally considers the Year 2000 commitments as inoperative relics of a foregone past and refuses to agree to any new agenda mentioning total nuclear elimination.

Nuclear Terrorism

Nuclear terrorism has until recently been a theme only for sensational movies. The possible ways that terrorists could obtain nuclear weapons through manufacturing, purchasing, or theft were difficult and involved formidable challenges and risks, as well as financial and technical resources beyond the reach of typical terrorists who were more likely to employ simpler means. Nevertheless, preventing terrorists from acquiring nuclear material or other radioactive material from power plants, research facilities, hospitals, industry, or from insecure nuclear weapons facilities has become a top priority for all governments. Responding to this threat, the IAEA Board of Governors in March 2002 approved an Action Plan to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. A number of States pledged specific sums of money, including Australia ($100,000), Great Britain ($350,000), Japan ($500,000), the Netherlands (EUR 250,000), Slovenia (EUR 14,000), USA ($1 Million), to a special fund set up to support a plan designed to upgrade worldwide protection against acts of terrorism involving nuclear and other radioactive materials. This amount is a fraction of what is needed to make a top-budget movie.

In approving the plan, the IAEA Board recognized that the first line of defense against nuclear terrorism is the strong physical protection of nuclear facilities and materials. A number of other member states announced in-kind support to the plan, including Finland, France, Germany, India, Romania, and Turkey. Other countries expressed hope to finance or provide support to the plan in the near future. During the Preparatory Committee Sessions for the 2005 NPT Review Conference and at the Review Conference, many states parties and the representatives from the IAEA emphasized the importance of strengthening safeguards of nuclear materials given the increase in the perceived threat of nuclear terrorism. Such concerns are not reflected in the meager funding.

Technological imperative ordains that terrorists would eventually acquire highly enriched uranium and use this fissile material to make simple, portable nuclear explosive devices.  In this context, IAEA highlighted the importance of ensuring comprehensive and effective physical protection of nuclear material. The Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM), opened for signature at Vienna and at New York on 3 March 1980, covers physical protection during international transport, and other IAEA-issued standards provide countries with guidelines on ways to voluntarily secure their nuclear and radioactive materials. However, mandatory and legally binding international standards for the physical protection of nuclear material within a state do not exist. In July 2005, parties to the Convention agreed on major changes to make it legally binding for states parties to protect nuclear facilities and material for states’ peaceful use, storage, and transport. In order to bring the changes into effect, ratification by two thirds of the states parties is required.

The US ratified the Convention on December 13, 1982. China acceded to the Convention on January 10, 1989. On July 12, 1994, China formulated the “Regulations Governing the Protection of Nuclear Materials in Kind During International Transportation,” pursuant to its obligations under the Convention. The regulations came into effect on 15 September 1994. The regulations include provisions on: requiring that the competent state authorities approve all international transportation of nuclear materials; instituting a licensing system, under which without state approval no one can possess, transfer, or transport nuclear materials; requiring that the competent state authorities approve any passage and transportation of nuclear materials in China; investigating any unauthorized acceptance, possession, transfer, replacement, and disposal of nuclear materials; making illegal the stealing or acquiring of nuclear materials through fraud and extortion. The regulations also cover the responsibilities, management, protection categories and measures, and legal responsibilities of the relevant Chinese bodies in charge of nuclear transportation. On April 9, 1996, China ratified the Convention on Nuclear Safety while the US did so three years later on April 11, 1999.

Increasing security concerns over nuclear terrorism demand more international cooperation. The “G-8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction” adopted at the Gleneagles Summit in June 2005 renewed the pledged $20 billion over a period of 10 years to 2012 to secure nuclear and radioactive materials around the world, initially in Russia. States parties to the NPT have generally supported this initiative. Moreover, UN Security Council Resolution 1540 adopted in April 2004 requires states parties to criminalize proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems by non-state actors as an essential undertaking to reduce the dangers of proliferation of WMD to terrorist groups.

Since the NPT was primarily designed to deal with states, it has very little capacity to deal with the new threat coming from non-state actors using nuclear weapons, or material and technology to develop improvised nuclear explosive devices. To prevent and respond to this new threat more promptly, states parties to the NPT are advised to pursue unilateral, bilateral, and multilateral counter-terrorism measures to augment the NPT regime.<>

Nonproliferation and Unilateral Proliferation

The US, as the mainstay of the nonproliferation regime, nevertheless has unilaterally broadened its own strategy for unilateral use of nuclear weapons and is moving toward unilateral development of new weapons. Together with unilateral missile defense development and unilateral moves toward weaponization of space, the US message to the non-nuclear-weapon countries is that it does not rely on the multilateral NPT for security, but instead on its own new star-war weapon systems and unilateral adoption of pre-emptive offensive strategy, which then raises questions on the need for and the effectiveness of the multilateral NPT. Multilateral nonproliferation has since been sustained only by inertia rather than forward movement. Global nonproliferation has come to mean nonproliferation only in the rest of the world outside the US and only in states that the US view with displeasure.  At any rate, US security is no longer directly tied to nonproliferation which has been transformed into a US geopolitical pretext for aggression, much like the defense of democracy. Several states that the US considers as safe allies, such as Israel, South Africa until the end of Apartheid and possibly Japan, have been granted stealth status on the nonproliferation screen, with India now selected as a preferred candidate for US geopolitical exceptionalism. Selective proliferation is now a device to enhance US security.

All Nuclear Programs are Secret

Every country that had successfully developed nuclear weapons did so in secret, not only from other governments but from other legitimate branches of their own governments. The US Manhattan project was carried out in secret without Congressional debate, nor was its use on Japan decided by broad consensus. Nuclear arms and strategy are extraterritoriality to US democratic processes. Both France and the United Kingdom launched their nuclear programs with limited cabinet involvement and no parliamentary debate. The Soviet and Chinese programs were initiated under direct secret orders from the highest level in the Party and government. India announced their program with a nuclear test in 1974 that was a surprise even to many in its own government; Pakistan similarly in 1998; Israel still refuses to officially confirm its program exists; South Africa dismantled its secret weapons program only after the end of Apartheid. Programs in Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, South Korea and Taiwan are conducted in great secrecy while the existence of such programs is treated as open secrets to secure maximum geopolitical effect.

Today Japan is known to have a large stock of weapon-usable plutonium (45,000 kg and growing) as well as the most advanced missile technology. This is the result of deliberate policy established in the late 1960’s. Poised to be able to cross the technical threshold of actual weapons production and missiles assembly on short notice, Japan has already become a de facto nuclear-weapon state, with the capability of producing deliverable nuclear weapons within a matter of months if not weeks. Chinese caution on pushing the US militarily from East Asia is predicated on the prospect of a nuclear-armed Japan coming out from under the US nuclear umbrella. Militarists in Japan would welcome such a development as they argue that the US nuclear umbrella in the final analysis is designed to protect only US national interests which would be inevitably and increasingly incongruent with Japanese national interests as time moves on. Arms control for a non-nuclear Japan is one of the key convergence points in US-China national interests.

North Korea and Iran

North Korea and Iran, the two remaining members of the Axis of Evil now that regime change has been accomplished in evil Iraq with US occupation, have emerged as key issues in the survival of the 38-year-old NPT regime. For achieving US objectives on both “rogue” nations, US-China cooperation is one of the basic prerequisites for success.

The North Korea situation is historically tied to Taiwan.  A quarter of a century after the US normalized its relations with China on January 1, 1979, US-China relations are still plagued by residual Cold War issues of war and peace that were created five decades ago at the beginning of the Korean War. Among these are the linked problems of Taiwan and Korea - two unfinished civil wars in Asia into which the US injected itself at the beginning of the first large-scale armed conflict in the Cold War and linked as key elements in its policy of global containment of communist expansion. The Taiwan issue was created by the US in response to an escalation of the Korean civil war. It is not surprising, therefore, that the recurring crisis over renewed Chinese war warnings on escalating Taiwan maneuvers toward independence is also linked to a mounting crisis over the North Korean nuclear-weapons program. (See: US-CHINA: QUEST FOR PEACE - Part 2: Cold War links Korea, Taiwan - Taipei Times Washington correspondent Charles Snyder reported that the Pentagon has developed a comprehensive operational plan to defend Taiwan in case of an attack from the Mainland. The plan, officially designated “Oplan 5077-04,” is run by the US Pacific Command headquartered in Honolulu. It includes provisions for the possible use of nuclear weapons, involving not only US Pacific forces, but also US troops and equipment worldwide, with potentials for a global conflict that may inevitably involve Russia which sees US control over China as a direct threat to its own security.

Nonproliferation Challenges Facing China and US

At its inception on July 1, 1968, the NPT reflected the international consensus that the spread of nuclear weapons to more states was contrary to the promotion of international peace and security. The Treaty, entering into force with the deposit of US ratification on March 5, 1970, obligates the five then acknowledged nuclear-weapon states (US, Russia, UK, France, and China) not to transfer nuclear weapons, other nuclear explosive devices, or their technology to any non-nuclear-weapon state. Non-nuclear-weapon states parties undertake not to acquire or produce nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices.

In 1992, China acceded to the NPT on March 9 and France acceded on August 3. In 1996, Belarus joined Ukraine and Kazakhstan in removing and transferring to Russia the last of the remaining former Soviet nuclear weapons located within their territories, and each of these nations has become a non-nuclear-weapon state party to the NPT. In June 1997 Brazil became a state party to the NPT. Today, the number of states known to possess usable nuclear arsenals is only three more than the original five of the NPT. Those three additional nuclear-weapon states – India, Pakistan and Israel – are now also the only states in the world not to have joined the NPT. Cuba’s recent accession brought in the last non-nuclear-weapon state; North Korea joined but withdrew from the NPT on January 10, 2003 and now claims to also possess nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, the arsenals of the US and Russia have shrunk from their combined Cold War peak of 65,000 warheads to under 20,000, with that number set to shrink further under the Moscow Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions entered into on May 24, 2002 by President Bush and President Putin, calling for reduction of the combined strategic nuclear warheads of the two nations to a level of 1700-2200 by December 31, 2012, a level nearly two-thirds below current levels.

In its December 2003 White Paper on Non-proliferation Policy and Measures, China states that “China stands for the attainment of the non-proliferation goal through peaceful means, i.e. on the one hand, the international non-proliferation mechanism must be continually improved and export controls of individual countries must be updated and strengthened, and, on the other hand, proliferation issues must be settled through dialogue and international cooperation. … … Unilateralism and double standards must be abandoned, and great importance should be attached and full play given to the role of the United Nations.”

The document pointed out that China “will constantly increase consultations and exchanges with multinational nonproliferation mechanisms, including the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Australia Group, and the Wassenaar Arrangement [on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies]” dropping previous criticism of these export control arrangements for their exclusive and discriminatory nature. The 2003 document increased the level of transparency of China’s export control system, detailing the process and criteria for China’s export control decisions, and specifies the role and responsibilities of key institutional participants within the process.

Chinese arms control advocates have since become frustrated at the Bush administration’s reluctance to publicly acknowledge improvements in China’s nonproliferation behavior; and  the continuing use of sanctions by the US as a method of coercing Chinese entities to refrain from proliferation transfers, particularly with regard to North Korea and Iran. The 2003 white paper aimed to illustrate the progress made in China’s attitude and behavior, notwithstanding the record of relentless US anti-China policy on global dual-use technology sanctions not only from itself but also from its reluctant allies in the EU, and its blatant unilateral abuse of the multilateral nonproliferation regime to further its own national geopolitical advantage.

Focus on Missile Defense

Two years later, China’s State Council on September 1, 2005 issued a new white paper titled: China's Endeavors for Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, in which opposition to US “unilateralism” was deleted.  In it place is a more positive statement: “The international community is in favor of maintaining multilateralism.” The emphasis shifted to a new focus: “China does not wish to see a missile defense system produce negative impact on global strategic stability, bring new unstable factors to international and regional peace and security, erode trust among big powers, or undermine legitimate security interests of other countries. China is even more reluctant to see some countries cooperate in the missile defense field to further proliferate ballistic missile technology. China believes that relevant countries should increase transparency in their missile defense program for the purpose of deepening trust and dispelling misgivings. As the Taiwan question involves its core interests, China opposes the attempt by any country to provide help or protection to the Taiwan region of China in the field of missile defense by any means.”  This is a direct reference to the US-proposed US-Japan-Taiwan theater missile defense (TMD) system.

Many reports on the waste and futility of efforts to develop a missile defense system by technical and strategic experts have appeared in print. Technologically, the system’s difficulty, to shoot a speeding bullet with another bullet, or to shoot a shower of smart bullets that can turn corners and release decoys with a counter shower of smarter bullets, appears to be technically insurmountable and economically inefficient even if the technological hurdles could be overcome theoretically in controlled test conditions.  The complexity ratio faced by the defense in overcoming the continually up-gradable offense is exponential so that the offense will always have the advantage of out-maneuvering the defense. And success in defense depends of total effectiveness while success in offense requires only a statistical advantage.  If only one missile out of a thousand slips through, the game is lost. On a common sense level, the concept borders on pure stupidity. Any child who watches Western movies knows that in a gun fight, the aim is to shoot the shooter, not the bullet from his gun.  For the US, the missile shooter in the Taiwan Straits Theater is China.  When Bush proclaims that the US would defend Taiwan “by any means necessary”, it can only mean an attack on the Chinese mainland over an issue that China considers its own internal affair, a view shared by Nixon and Kissinger in the Shanghai Communiqué of February 1972. For China, Bush’s hostile and belligerent posture over Taiwan is not a good basis for peaceful bilateral relations.

The whole missile defense issue, a component of the full nuclear nonproliferation issue, is shaping up to be a game of non-existent weapon systems in the hands of “rogue” states becoming real in the mind of the US political leadership, with the fantasized threat to be neutralized by a non-operational defense system in the hands of science-fiction superpower super-hawks. It is a fear-mongering game of political shadow boxing, pitting fantasized threats against a fantasy technology to conduct a ritual dance of psychological chicken for geopolitical gain.  The US aims to make the world safe from nuclear weapons that would take alleged rogue nations another decade to produce with a defense system that would take the US another decade to perfect. In the meantime, the US will knock off a few unarmed “dictators” for good measure in the name of freedom, along with a few hundred thousand innocent civilians as unavoidable but acceptable collateral damage.  The scale is fast tilting as to who would end up killing more Iraqi citizens, the Saddam regime during it allegedly evil rule or the open-ended US occupation in the name of freedom.

US as Proponent of both Nonproliferation and Proliferation

Yet the US has been and continues to be a leading proponent of the international nonproliferation regime that it unilaterally is making irrelevant fast. At the domestic level, the US is misapplying for geopolitical aim a system of export control and licensing laws and regulations covering transfers of nuclear technology or materials, including dual-use technology that can contribute to nuclear weapons development. There is also a vast maze of laws requiring sanctions for violations of nonproliferation commitments, and sanctions against non-nuclear-weapons states that obtain or test nuclear weapons. Yet, like free trade, export control is only selectively applied to keep proliferation from “unsafe” states.

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was negotiated, signed by President Clinton in September 1997 and submitted to the Senate where it was vigorously opposed and failed to be ratified. Despite the uncertainty introduced by US rejection of the CTBT, steps toward ending the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament continued, as called for in Article VI of the NPT.  Then in January 2002, three months after the 9:11 terrorist attacks, the Bush Administration released the results of its “Nuclear Posture Review,” announcing that nuclear planning would no longer address the “Russian threat,” as left over from the Cold War, but would develop capabilities to meet a range of threats from unspecified countries. China was on the top of such list before 9:11 and continues to be on the list over the Taiwan situation. The redirection would be accompanied by a large, unilateral reduction in deployed nuclear weapons to a level not affecting US nuclear superiority. While the US has reduced its arsenal of warheads from 150,000 to 10,300, the TNT tonnage of destruction power with bigger warheads still commands the equivalent of 120,000-130,000 Hiroshima-sized bombs. The US nuclear arsenal is designed not merely for massive destruction to win a war, but total destruction of all opponents to rid the world of evil.

However, the new policy also included development of a controversial missile defense capability, and improving the nuclear weapons “infrastructure” to allow resumption of testing and possible development of new weapons at accelerated pace. The Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT) has been a subject of discussion at the Geneva Conference on Disarmament for some years, but little progress has been made. On July 29, 2004, the US declared the FMCT “ripe for negotiations” and “reaffirmed” US commitment to negotiate a legally binding treaty. However, a US policy review concluded that “realistic, effective verification” of such a treaty was not “achievable.”

Responding to Pakistani nuclear expert Abdul Qadeer Kahn’s revelation that he had headed a network that spread nuclear weapons technology and equipment to Iran, North Korea, and Libya, President Bush on February 11, 2004 urged more and stricter controls on nuclear exports, demanding that non-nuclear-weapons states renounce developing capacity to enrich uranium and reprocess plutonium as part of commercial nuclear power programs, while nuclear supplier nations ensure adequate fuel for nuclear plants at reasonable prices. Bush also argued that IAEA’s Additional Protocol for inspections regimes should be required of all NPT signatories, and urged the Senate to consent to it on the part of the US. On March 31 the Senate ratified the protocol (Treaty Doc.107-7, Senate Executive Report 108-12). As a nuclear-weapons state, the US in agreeing to IAEA inspections has the right to exclude any activities or sites that it declares are of “direct national security significance.”  The same exclusion by other nations, such as Iraq, Iran and North Korea, has since been used by the US as pretext for preemptive attack, invasion or threats of such.

In order to engage in international trade in nuclear technology or materials (such as nuclear fuel), US companies must obtain export licenses from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Before an export license can be applied for, there must be in force a bilateral agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation between the US government and the government of the importing nation. The conditions necessary for drawing up and approving an agreement for cooperation, laid out in Section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act, include a 90-day review by Congress. In many cases, congressional review of an agreement for cooperation has been controversial, being based on geopolitical rather than technical considerations.  Congress narrowly allowed an agreement with China to take effect in 1997 only after extended debate and extensive lobbying from the nuclear energy export sector.

In addition to NRC’s licensing and regulation role, the Department of Energy (DOE) also participates in export controls. DOE authorizes the transfer of nuclear technology to countries having agreements for nuclear cooperation with the US via “subsequent arrangements,” the details of which are spelled out in Section 131 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954. In general, NRC deals largely with licensing hardware, while DOE licenses information and knowledge, under regulations defined in 10 CFR Part 810. Finally, the Department of Commerce also is involved in regulating exports of dual-use, nuclear-related commodities under the provisions of the Export Administration Act of 1979. That law has expired since August 21, 2001 and successive Congresses despite several attempts have not passed new legislation. In the absence of an Export Administration Act, US dual-use export control system continues to be dependent on the President’s invocation of emergency powers under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act under which Commerce continues to play a role in export regulation.  The US Department of Commerce has agreed with the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China on procedures to strengthen end-use visit cooperation and help ensure that US exports of controlled dual-use items are being used by their intended recipients for their intended purposes. This understanding will enable increased US exports to China of high-technology items. The US Commerce Department said that this new end-use visit understanding provides an important example of the US and China working together to solve practical problems to the benefit of both their peoples.

US Nuclear Export Policy

US nuclear export policy has undergone major transformations since 1945. An initial emphasis on secrecy and criminality, highlighted by the 1946 Atomic Energy Act, which while putting atomic weapons technology under civilian control supervised by the Atomic Energy Commission imposed a criminal ban on the release of atomic technology to other countries, even to allies that had participated in US atomic research during the war. This served to push countries such as the UK, which had supplied scientific personnel and information to the Manhattan Project team, into constructing their own nuclear weapons and started the first wave of nuclear proliferation.

Julius and Ethel Rosenburgs were executed for espionage under this act despite the fact that bomb experts have since held that their peripheral knowledge of nuclear technology did not allow them to give Soviet intelligence any information it did not already have from other sources, such as Klaus Fuchs, a German born British citizen who had security clearance to work on the Manhattan Project under hydrogen-bomb hawk Edward Teller; and Donald Maclean, one of the Cambridge Five who spied for the USSR on ideological grounds, who served in the British Embassy in Washington during war time. Post Cold War declassified Soviet documents showed that Julius Rosenburg was a lower level asset of no scientific value to Soviet intelligence and Ethel Rosenburg was not involved in espionage in any way except that her brother, a sergeant in the US Army, was a machinist at Los Alamo whose knowledge of the bomb was not central. Yet the Rosenburgs were the only two American civilians to be executed for espionage-related activity during the Cold War. In imposing the death penalty at the urging of Roy Cohn, the young Jewish prosecutor and aide to Senator Joseph McCarthy of McCarthyism fame, Judge Irving Kaufman, the Jewish judge hand-picked by Senator McCarthy for the case, held the Rosenburgs responsible not only for espionage but also for all the war deaths of the Korean War. Many have since suggested that the Rosenburgs, communists and Jewish, were sacrificed by the Jewish right to prove Jewish American loyalty to a nation in the midst of anti-communist hysteria to protect Jewish Americans from wholesale persecution for the predominance of the pre-war Jewish left before the McCarthy era.

The US secretive approach on nuclear technology gave way in 1954 to the active promotion internationally of peaceful uses of atomic energy, which only came to an end in 1974 when the much criticized AEC was abolished following the Indian detonation of a “peaceful nuclear explosion.” The US then adopted a nuclear export policy emphasizing technology control. The event led to a major revision in US policy on nuclear exports, moving nonproliferation toward center stage on the US foreign policy agenda. The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) was mobilized to set strict multinational guidelines for the major nuclear exporting states covering the transfer of nuclear fuel and sensitive technology. The NSG obligated its 45 members to pursue two sets of guidelines for nuclear and nuclear-related dual-use exports. Central to the guidelines, which like other aspects of NSG policy were adopted by consensus, was the principle that only NPT parties or other states with comprehensive (full-scope) safeguards in place should benefit from nuclear technology transfers. The US worked hard to persuade the NSG to adopt the principle of comprehensive safeguards as a condition for export. Under the authority of amendments to the Foreign Assistance Act, the US imposed half-hearted sanctions on Pakistan, cutting off economic and military aid as a result of its pursuit of nuclear weapons in response to the Indian bomb. The US suspended sanctions on Pakistan when Soviet activities in Afghanistan and Soviet-Indian alliance made Pakistan a strategically important “frontline state” and in the Afghan phase of the current war on terrorism. At the height of the nuclear deterrence phase of the Cold War when technological parity was necessary to maintain stability, US intelligence purposely provided nuclear and missile secrets to the Soviets to serve the dual purpose of maintaining nuclear parity and to plant credible moles in the Soviet intelligence system.

India-US Joint Statement

The July 18, 2005 India-US Joint Statement (IUSJS) sets a new direction for US nonproliferation policy.  The IUSJS requires the US to abandon the crucial principle of comprehensive safeguards as a condition for export since India is not a signatory to the NPT. The IUSJS necessitates a fundamental change in US nuclear export policy with the promise by the US president that he will seek to adjust US laws and policies, as well as international regimes, to enable full US civil nuclear energy cooperation and trade with India, a non-NPT state. These adjustments are necessary since India does not have full-scope safeguards in place and is one of only four states (along with Israel, Pakistan, and North Korea) that remain outside of the NPT. By the Joint Statement Bush has in effect announced that technology control is no longer the cornerstone of US nuclear export and nonproliferation policy. Instead, it has given way to a strategy in which geopolitics has primacy and regional security strategy and international economic objectives override those of nonproliferation. Although this shift is not the first time nonproliferation objectives have been subordinated to other US foreign policy considerations, it represents the most radical change in US nuclear export policy.  The unnamed target of the India-US Joint Statement is of course China.

The July 18, 2005 India-US Joint Statement “expresses satisfaction at the New Framework for the US-India Defense Relationship … … to remove certain Indian organizations from the Department of Commerce's Entity List … ... The [US] President told the [Indian] Prime Minister that he will work to achieve full civil nuclear energy cooperation with India as it realizes its goals of promoting nuclear power and achieving energy security. The President would also seek agreement from Congress to adjust U.S. laws and policies, and the United States will work with friends and allies to adjust international regimes to enable full civil nuclear energy cooperation and trade with India, including but not limited to expeditious consideration of fuel supplies for safeguarded nuclear reactors at Tarapur.”  GE, the only US enterprise still in the nuclear business, built the nuclear plants at Tarapur, it had been forced to leave in 1974 when India conducted its first nuclear test.

William C. Potter, director of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at Monterey Institute of International Studies, thinks that the IUSJS reverses more than a quarter century of US declaratory policy.  The Joint Statement suggests that the Bush national security team regards nuclear proliferation to be both inevitable and possibly a useful balance-of-power device in geopolitics. In light of the magnitude of this policy shift and its potential to impact negatively on the NPT, associated nonproliferation institutions, and even elements of the president’s own nonproliferation initiatives, one would have expected the policy announcement to follow a careful and systematic review of the implications of the proposed change. A decision of such national and international security concern would be expected to require input from all major governmental players with nonproliferation responsibilities, including senior officials in charge of nonproliferation policy in the Departments of State and Energy. In fact, however, Potter observes that the new policy appears to have been formulated without a comprehensive high-level review of its potential impact on nonproliferation, the deep engagement of senior nonproliferation experts in and out of government, or a clear plan for achieving its implementation. Indeed, the policy shift bears all the signs of a top-down administrative executive directive specifically designed to circumvent the inter-agency review process and to minimize input from any remnants of the “nonproliferation lobby.”

US Selective Proliferation Since 1964

Yet Potter should know that selective proliferation has been a US policy option since at least 1964. National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 1: The United States, China, and the Bomb - Document 7, As Explosive as a Nuclear Weapon: The Gilpatric Report on Nuclear Proliferation, January 1965 - Source: Freedom of Information Act request to State Department, reads as follows:
“Largely motivated by concern over the first Chinese atomic test in October 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson asked Wall Street lawyer and former Deputy Secretary of Defense Roswell Gilpatric to lead a special task force in investigating, and making policy recommendations on, the spread of nuclear weapons… … some senior officials thought that nuclear proliferation was inevitable and, among the right countries, potentially desirable. Thus, during a November 1964 meeting, Rusk stated that he was not convinced that ‘the US should oppose other countries obtaining nuclear weapons.’ Not only could he ‘conceive of situations where the Japanese or the Indians might desirably have their own nuclear weapons’, Rusk asked ‘should it always be the U.S. which would have to use nuclear weapons against Red China?’ Robert McNamara thought otherwise: it was ‘unlikely that the Indians or the Japanese would ever have a suitable nuclear deterrent.’ … … according to [AEC chairman] Glenn Seaborg’s account of a briefing for Johnson, Rusk opined that the report was ‘as explosive as a nuclear weapon.’  Foot note 2: Rusk thought it better that Asians use nuclear weapons against each other rather than Euro-Americans using them against Asians. Quotations from memorandum of conversation by Herbert Scoville, ACDA, ‘Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons- Course of Action for UNGA - Discussed by the Committee of Principals’, November 23, 1964, National Archives, Record Group 359, White House Office of Science and Technology, FOIA Release to National Security Archive.”

Thus the option of arming Japan and India with nuclear weapon against China took shape immediately after China’s first nuclear test.

Potter wrote in an August 25, 2005 article that the convergence of US and Indian national security interests as two nations most impacted by the rise of China is advocated by Robert Blackwill, US ambassador to India during the Bush first term. Ashley Tellis, former Senior Policy Advisor to Blackwill, in a report issued by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace four days before the Joint Statement by President Bush and Prime Minister Singh, points out that it would be a mistake to attempt to integrate India “into the nonproliferation order at the cost of capping the size of its eventual nuclear deterrent” for potential use against a rising China to protect US interests in Asia. Tellis openly acknowledges the fundamental danger to the global nonproliferation regime posed by the shift in US policy but believes the risk of proliferation manageable and is justified by US geopolitical interests that transcend the benefits of nonproliferation.

This approach is not surprising for if the defense of democracy could be compromised by Cold War geopolitics with US support of dictators, why is nonproliferation different?  Potter observed that this new US policy toward India have antecedents in which nonproliferation considerations in South Asia also took a back seat to other foreign policy and national security objectives, as in the case of Pakistan following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. It also can be discerned after 9:11 in the less-than-forceful manner in which the US pressed Pakistan to reveal the full scope of the A.Q. Khan network. Prior to the July 18, 2005 India-US Joint Statement, however, the trade-offs between pursuing global nonproliferation objectives and those of regional security were never linked as directly or publicly. What made the difference was US attitude toward China as a long-range threat beyond the war on terrorism and the selection of India as a counter balance.

The India-US Joint Statement indicates more clearly than ever before that Washington is not opposed to the possession of nuclear weapons by some states, including those outside of the NPT, only some other states. This new policy of nonproliferation exceptionalism is far more explicit and pronounced than prior routine efforts by the US and its allies to deflect criticism of Israel’s nuclear policies. Unlike the Clinton administration which “had an undifferentiated concern about proliferation,” the Bush administration is not afraid to distinguish between friends and foes. Nuclear weapons, once given, cannot be removed easily, thus such selective policy has a tendency to lock the definition of friends and foes into long time-frames if not perpetuality.

More May Be Better

Some 25 years earlier, Kenneth N. Waltz developed the idea that nuclear proliferation could be a positive geopolitical strategy in his The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: More May Be Better (Adelphi Paper 171; London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1981).  Waltz advanced the view that the spread of nuclear weapons may promote regional stability, reduce the likelihood of war, and make wars harder to start. It was an expansion of the superpower nuclear deterrence doctrine to regional geopolitics. The main flaw in Waltz’ argument is that it was easy to predict superpower rational behavior because each superpower had much to lose by making the wrong move, whereas some smaller powers may operate irrationally from a desperate position of having nothing or little to lose and start a nuclear chain-reaction conflict that no one wants but none can stop.

Non-nuclear-weapons states can be expected to reconsider their nonproliferation commitments in light of the new US proliferation posture toward India. A similar reassessment of the security value of the NPT may be undertaken by states that have not actively pursued a nuclear weapons option, but made explicit the conditionality of their NPT membership on assurances that the international community would not tolerate any additional nuclear-weapons states.

Japan is a critical state on the nonproliferation issue. While Japan has been vocally critical of all Asian nuclear weapons programs, militarism has been on the rise in Japan. Japanese militarism revival skirts post-war Japanese pacifism by arguing that war is more likely to be forced on Japan unless Japan rearms, including the nuclear option. The assurances Japan received in joining the NPT have been rendered empty by US proliferation policy toward India. Decision-making about nonproliferation has become a dynamic process that does not end with accession to the NPT, but will change over time and according to US policy whims.

Iran and India

On February 11, 2004, President Bush gave a major address at National Defense University in which he outlined a new nonproliferation strategy with reference to Iran. He called on the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to tighten its export control guidelines by prohibiting the export of enrichment and reprocessing technology and equipment to countries that do not already operate enrichment and reprocessing plants, such as Iran. The new strategy also aimed to fend off attempts by Russia in recent years to create a special nuclear export exception for India. After the Bush speech, Russia reluctantly halted in late 2004 nuclear fuel shipment for two reactors at Tarapur because of new NSG constraints. The July 2005 India-US Joint Statement commits the US to do for India what it prevented Russia from doing just a year earlier. France and a number of other NSG states have long eyed nuclear market opportunities in India. They can be expected to support the creation of a special export regime for India under the NSG even if it means establishing the principle of exceptionalism. Iranian nuclear negotiators have pointed out the inconsistency of US efforts to deny enrichment technology to Iran, a non-nuclear-weapons state party to the NPT, while supporting nuclear trade with India, a non-NPT state that has a dedicated and demonstrated nuclear weapons program. The inconsistency the new US position is not lost on North Korea. The India-US Joint Statement, cast in terms of geopolitics with regard to China, is a double edge sword. A Congressional Research Service Report for Congress observes that US-India nuclear cooperation could prompt other suppliers, like China, to justify nuclear exports to Pakistan, not to mention Iran and North Korea.

North Korea and Taiwan Proliferation Links

On January 5, 1950, three month after the founding of the People’s Republic of China, President Harry Truman announced that “the United States will not involve in the dispute of Taiwan Strait”, which meant America would not intervene if the Chinese communists were to attack Taiwan where the defeated Koumintang forces had retreated. However, on June 25, 1950 the Korean War broke out, and two days later President Truman reacted by declaring the “neutralization of the Straits of Formosa” on June 27. The Seventh Fleet was sent into the Straits under orders to prevent any attack on the island from the Mainland, and also prevent the Kuomintang forces on Taiwan to attack China, as suggested by General Douglas MacArthur. From that point on, Taiwan has been placed under non-stop US military protection.

Shortly after his inauguration on February 2, 1953 President Eisenhower lifted the US Navy blockade of Taiwan which had prevented Koumintang force, newly regrouped and re-supplied by the US, from counter-attacking mainland China. During August 1954 Chiang Kai-shek moved 58,000 troops to Quemoy & 15,000 to Matsu. Premier Zhou En-lai declared on August 11, 1954 that Taiwan must be liberated. On August 17, 1954 the US warned China against attacking Taiwan, but on September 3, 1954 the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) began an artillery bombardment of Quemoy, and in November, PLA planes bombed the Tachen Islands. On September 12, 1954 the US Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) recommended the possibility of using nuclear weapons against China. And on November 23 1954 China sentenced 13 US airmen shot down over China in the Korean War to long jail terms, prompting further consideration of nuclear strikes against China. At the urging of Senator William Knowland, the US signed the Mutual Defense Treaty with the Nationalist government on Taiwan on December 2, 1954, joining one side of the Chinese civil war by treaty.

On January 18, 1955 PLA forces seized Yijiangshan [Ichiang] Island, 210 miles north of Taiwan, completely wiping out Nationalist forces stationed there. The two sides continued fighting on Kinmen, Matsu, and along the mainland Chinese coast. The fighting even extended to mainland Chinese coastal ports. The US-Nationalist Chinese Mutual Security Pact, which did not apply to islands along the Chinese mainland, was ratified by the Senate on February 9, 1955. The Taiwan Resolution passed both houses of Congress on January 29, 1955. The Resolution pledged the US to the defense of Taiwan, authorizing the president to employ US forces to defend Taiwan and the Pescadores against armed attack, including such other territories as appropriate to defend them.

On March 10, 1995 US Secretary of State John Forster Dulles at a National Security Council (NSC) meeting states that the American people have to be prepared for possible nuclear strikes against China. Five days later Dulles publicly stated that the US was seriously considering using atomic weapons in the Quemoy-Matsu area. And the following day President Eisenhower publicly stated that “A-bombs can be you would use a bullet.” These public statements sparked an international uproar, as NATO foreign ministers expressed opposition to nuclear attacks on China. Nonetheless, on March 25, 1955 US Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Robert B. Carney stated that the president is planning “to destroy Red China's military potential,” predicting war by mid-April. On April 23, 1955 China stated at the Afro-Asian Conference that it was ready to negotiate on Taiwan, and on May 1, 1955 shelling of Quemoy-Matsu ceased, ending the crisis. On August 1, 1955 China released the 11 captured US airmen previously sentenced to jail terms.  This was the First Taiwan Straits Crisis which lasted from August 11, 1954 to May 1 1955.

In the first Taiwan Strait crisis of 1954-55 the USSR, the other nuclear superpower, had been quite ambiguous in its support for China’s campaign to liberate Taiwan, whereas the US had indicated that it was willing to use tactical nuclear weapons in defense of the island. During the crisis, it became evident that the USSR nuclear umbrella was reserved exclusively for the defense of Soviet national interests. The PRC called off its military operations against Quemoy to avoid a US nuclear attack. The crisis solidified Chinese resolve to develop its own nuclear weapons.

An article carried by Huanqiu Shibao (Global Times) on 15 October 2004 recapped a detailed history of Taiwan’s nuclear weapons programs since 1950 when the US and Taiwan planned a nuclear attack on Xiamen.  In the 1970’s the US pressured Taiwan to end a nuclear weapons program started by Chiang Kai-shek in the late 1960's under the auspices of the Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST). The US again pressured Taiwan to end a nuclear weapons program “secretly” restarted by Chiang Ching-kuo in the 1980s after a nuclear scientist, Chang Hsien-i, a US spy, defected to the United States with information on the project. Huanqiu Shibao claimed that even during the Lee Teng-hui adminstration, the words and actions of officials suggested that his administration had resumed the nuclear weapons program. The Huanqiu Shibao article concluded that although Chen Shui-bian has publicly committed to a “nuclear-free home” and never developing nuclear weapons, Taiwan media suspect Chen is playing word games and may want to develop nuclear weapons to prevent unification.

In 1969, Taiwan purchased from Canada a 40-megawatt research reactor and the Institute for Nuclear Energy Research (INER) began work on a fuel-reprocessing facility with equipment purchased from France, Germany and the US under NSG exceptionalism.  With 100 tons of uranium quietly purchased from South Africa, INER by 1973 had a full Plutonium Fuel Chemistry Laboratory functioning. In 1974, the CIA concluded that “Taipei conducts its small nuclear program with a weapon option clearly in mind, and it will be in a position to fabricate a device after five years.” Taiwan president Chiang Ching-kuo responded cryptically to news reports of missing weapon-grade plutonium: “we have the ability and the facilities to manufacture nuclear weapons [but] we will never manufacture them.”

It has been standing Chinese policy that China will deploy a preemptive military option if Taiwan moves towards independence, faces foreign occupation or take steps to acquire nuclear weapons. When President Carter broke diplomatic relations with Taipei to recognize the People’s Republic of China in 1979, the US feared the termination of the US-Taiwan defense treaty could lead Taiwan “to reconsider its nuclear option.” This concern was shared by China and was a key reason for Chinese de facto acceptance of the Taiwan Relations Act, a US domestic law that directly interferes with Chinese internal affairs. The trade off was a freeze on Taiwan’s march toward nuclear armament.

In 1987, CIA agent Chang Hsien-yi, deputy director of INER, alerted his handler to a top-level Taiwan secret order to start up plutonium reprocessing. President Reagan sent a high-level envoy to Taipei with an ultimatum to deactivate the weapons program.  In July 1995, China launched missiles into the Taiwan Strait halting all merchant shipping in one of the world's busiest sea-lanes for a week. While US propaganda described the event as provocative, Washington knew that it was a direct response to pending Taiwan nuclear moves. Taiwan President Lee formally announced: “we should re-study the question [of nuclear weapons development] from a long-term point of view,” while repeating that Taiwan “has the ability” to build a bomb “but definitely will not.” When a second Chinese missile test closed the Straits again in March 1996, President Clinton reassured Taiwan of Washington’s commitment to defend Taiwan and dispatched two carrier battle groups with nuclear capability to the region to get Taiwan to halt its nuclear weapons program.  The Korea nonproliferation issue is tied up directly with the Taiwan nonproliferation issue, and in a less direct way, with nonproliferation with regard to Japan.

Next: Geopolitical Dynamics of the Proliferation Crisis in North Korea