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.

  1. 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.


Continue Reading 50 years of the Non-Proliferation Treaty

On January 15, 2020, President Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He signed the much-anticipated “Phase One” trade agreement between the U.S. and China. Set to take effect no later than February 14, 2020, the “Economic and Trade Agreement Between the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China” (the “Agreement”) is the

One week ago, American special operations forces killed the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in northwestern Syria. The next morning, President Trump described the operation in vivid detail and the story was later amplified with accounts from the Secretary of Defense and the National Security Advisor. While the Islamic State was a

Introduction

On October 14, 2019, President Trump issued an Executive Order Blocking Property and Suspending Entry of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Syria. This Order provides authority for the imposition of sanctions (including secondary sanctions) on certain entities and individuals in response to Turkey’s military operations in Syria, which the Order states endanger innocent civilians, destabilize the region, and undermine the campaign to defeat the Islamic State.

The Executive Order provides authority to impose sanctions on parts of the Government of Turkey, current and former officials of the Government of Turkey, sectors of Turkey’s economy, and persons who are otherwise determined to be involved in actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, or territorial integrity of Syria. The Executive Order provides additional authority to impose sanctions on foreign persons engaged in a range of activities that disrupt or prevent a ceasefire in northern Syria, the voluntary return to Syria of displaced persons, or efforts to promote a political solution to the conflict in Syria, or involve the commission of serious human rights abuses in relation to Syria. It further authorizes various secondary sanctions (a) for certain dealings in support of persons whose property is blocked pursuant to the Executive Order, and (b) against foreign financial institutions that knowingly conduct or facilitate any significant financial transaction on behalf of such a blocked party.

Relying on the Executive Order, the Administration blocked all property and interests in property of the Government of Turkey’s Ministry of National Defense and Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, as well as the property and interests in property of the Minister of National Defense, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, and Minister of the Interior.


Continue Reading United States and European Union Impose Additional Sanctions in Response to Actions by Turkish Government

It sounds like the start to a bad joke, but what do the Kremlin, the Chinese Communist Party, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Taliban, al-Qa‘ida, the Haqqani Network, the Islamic State, the Pakistani intelligence services, exhausted members of NATO, nearly every Democratic candidate for president in the 2020 election, and the

In 1998, China announced its “go out” or “go global” policy aimed at encouraging its enterprises to invest overseas. In 2013 this policy was reinforced with China’s introduction of its One Belt, One Road (OBOR) or “Belt & Road” initiative, which seeks to enhance development and trade routes in the region, connecting China with other countries along the ancient Silk road and a new Maritime Silk Road. Significant international anxiety has been expressed about China’s global ambitions generally, and as it pertains to Africa in particular, with some calling China’s OBOR initiative “neo-colonial” and raising concerns about China’s investments in Africa serving as a possible “debt trap.” On the other hand, China’s general policy of non-interference has led African leaders to describe China’s partnership with African countries as a “win-win.”

Below we examine recent trends related to China’s activity in Africa, including China’s 2018 FOCAC pledge of US$60 billion in financing, recent commitments made at the BRICS Summit, and China’s increasing foreign direct investment (FDI) on the continent.

Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC)

On September 3, 2018, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged US$60 billion in financing for projects in Africa. Of this total pledge, US$15 billion will take the form of grants, infrastructure, and concessional loans; US$20 billion will be available in credit lines; US$10 billion for development financing; and US$5 billion to buy imports from Africa. China made a similar US$60 billion pledge in 2015.

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.

It is China’s policy of non-interference that leads many African leaders to echo South African President Ramaphosa’s rejection of the view that a new colonialism is taking hold in Africa regarding China’s investment in Africa.
Continue Reading China in Africa: Recent Developments