Five years ago today, Xiyue Wang was unjustly detained in Iran while conducting research there for his Ph.D. dissertation. We and others at Covington were honored to participate in the global advocacy campaign that culminated in Mr. Wang’s release in December 2019. Here, for the first time publicly, we discuss our work on his case.
STATEMENT OF STEPHEN G. RADEMAKER
Senior Of Counsel, Covington & Burling LLP
“50 Years of the Non-Proliferation Treaty: Strengthening the
NPT in the Face of Iranian and North Korean Nonproliferation Challenges”
Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and International Terrorism
Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation
Committee on Foreign Affairs
U.S. House of Representatives
March 3, 2020
Chairman Deutch, Chairman Bera, Ranking Member Wilson, Ranking Member Yoho, and Members of the Subcommittees, I appreciate the invitation to appear before you today to discuss the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the two greatest threats facing it today: Iran and North Korea.
I will begin by making some observations about the treaty itself, and then move on to a discussion of the challenges presented by the Iranian and North Korean nuclear weapons programs.
- Reflections on the NPT
You will hear very contradictory views expressed about the NPT. On the one hand, there are those who celebrate its strength, pointing out that, with 191 states parties, it is the one of the most universally-adhered to treaties in history, and that it has limited the spread of nuclear weapons to just nine countries, which is a much smaller number than anyone would have predicted when the treaty entered into force 50 years ago tomorrow.
On the other hand, there are critics who will point out that nine countries is four more than the five countries that are permitted to possess nuclear weapons under the treaty, that permitting even five nuclear weapon states was five too many, and that the treaty is bound to collapse because of its inherent unfairness to the non-nuclear weapon states. For many of these critics, the kind of problem we face today with Iran and North Korea was inevitable, and could only have been avoided if the five nuclear weapon states had moved much faster over the past 50 years to abolish nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth.
Personally I see the NPT as much more a story of success than of failure. It’s remarkable to consider how far the treaty has come from its somewhat inauspicious beginnings, and the many challenges it has overcome in the intervening years.
For starters, there’s the astonishing fact that despite all the complaints about how unfair the treaty is in advantaging five nuclear weapon states over everyone else, initially two of the five nuclear weapon states refused to join the treaty. Neither France nor China acceded to the NPT until 1992, 22 years after the treaty entered into force.
As for the rest of the world, the list of treaty successes is considerably longer than the list of treaty failures. We often forget how many countries were actively exploring the development of nuclear weapons before the treaty came along. Back then it wasn’t countries like Iran and North Korea we were worried about, but rather much more technologically-advanced countries like Sweden, Italy, Switzerland, and Australia–countries that could produce nuclear weapons much more readily than Iran and North Korea if they decided to do so.
South Africa possessed nuclear weapons under the Apartheid government, but gave them up and joined the NPT in 1991. Ukraine found itself in possession of the world’s third-largest nuclear weapons arsenal upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union, but gave that up and joined the treaty in 1994. Argentina and Brazil long appeared to be locked into a nuclear arms race, but in the 1990s they decided that they would prefer a relationship like the one between France and Germany to the one between Pakistan and India, and both countries abandoned their nuclear programs in favor of the treaty.
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Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC)
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At the opening ceremony, President Xi emphasized China’s “five-no” approach to Africa:
[N]o interference in African countries’ pursuit of development paths that fit their national conditions; no interference in African countries’ internal affairs; no imposition of our will on African countries; no attachment of political strings to assistance to Africa; and no seeking of selfish political gains in investment and financing cooperation with Africa.
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Continue Reading China in Africa: Recent Developments