Bien que préoccupant depuis longtemps les experts des questions de sécurité, la prolifération n'est véritablement
devenue un sujet politique de premier plan qu'à la faveur de la dernière décennie, marquée simultanément par la nucléarisation du sous-continent indien, par le renforcement des régimes
internationaux de contrôle (TNP, CW, MTCR) et par la découverte de fraudes dont le nombre et la gravité ont surpris les observateurs.
La Collection « Proliferation Papers » du Centre d'études de sécurité de l'Institut Français de relations Internationales (IFRI) [cf. le lien correspondant de ce blog] rend compte avec un brio particulier des profondes transformations de l'environnement international qui sont intervenues, qui sont en cours ou qui pourraient intervenir tant en matière de prolifération / non-prolifération que sur le registre de la dissuasion nucléaire ; il suffit d'en prendre pour preuve les quelques documents suivants :
- Toward Transatlantic Cooperation in Meeting the Iranian Nuclear Challenge (George Perkovich) - Proliferation Paper n°14
- Five Scenarios for Iranian Crises (George Perkovich) - Proliferation Paper n°16
- Deterrence Today : Roles, Challenges and Responses (Lewis A. Dunn) - Proliferation Paper n°19
- New Wines in Old Bottles (Yuri Fedorov) - Proliferation Paper n°20
- Iran's ‘Risk-Taking' in Perspective (Shahram Chubin) - Proliferation Paper n°21
- Principles for Reforming the Nuclear Order (George Perkovich) - Proliferation Paper n°22
- Heading for the Fourth Nuclear Age (Ariel E. Levite) - Proliferation Paper n°24
[The First Nuclear Age (1945-1967) : Surviving and Learning Through Crises ; The Second Nuclear Age (1968-1992) : Building and Managing Stability ; The Third Nuclear Age (1993-2010 ??) : Complacency and Disillusionment ; Toward a Fourth Nuclear Age ?]
D'autres documents phares participent à renforcer cette perception d'une densification des mouvements en cours dans ces domaines, tels que, par exemple, les suivants :
- Multilateralisation of Nuclear Fuel Cycle : a Comparison of Existing Proposals (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute - SIPRI -)
- The United Kingdom's Future Nuclear Deterrent Capability (report by the Comptroller and Auditor General)
- Vers un retrait des armes nucléaires de l'Otan ? (André Dumoulin) in Défense
nationale et sécurité collective, novembre 2008).
Quels enseignements pouvons-nous tirer de l'ensemble de ces travaux ?
Sur un plan général, les réflexions de George Perkovich et d'Ariel E. Lavite explicitent et analysent avec un brio particulier les ressorts et les déterminants des transformations en cours, les défis qu'elles emportent ainsi que les exigences que la Communauté internationale doit s'employer à satisfaire pour garantir la paix, la sécurité internationale et la stabilité stratégique.
George Perkovich : " The international safeguards system which is intended to detect and therefore deter military applications of nuclear material and technology has been strengthened enough to keep pace with those new developments. In 1997, the IAEA adopted a model Additional Protocol that, where adopted, requires states to disclose much more information about their nuclear activities, and provides for the short-notices inspections and new monitoring techniques that could enhance the IAEA's capacity to detect violations. Yet, fewer than 90 states have implemented this protocol, and those that have not include Algeria, Belarus, Egypt, Iran, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Syria, the United States, Venezuela and Vietnam. Moreover, safeguards are only a part of the system to monitor nuclear programs and to detect and deter proliferation.
Similarly, France and Germany have put forward proposals to make it more difficult for states to withdraw from the NPT, or at least to clarify the procedures for doing so and the penalties for withdrawing after having been found in non-compliance with safeguards requirements. But key non-nuclear-weapon states have resisted those proposals while China and Russia have not put their weight behind them. This increases risk of hedging on non-proliferation commitments and weakens confidence in the overall nuclear order.
Thus, the original nuclear order is weakening rather than strengthening, and efforts to reverse that trend and establish a reformed order that will reduce risks of proliferation in 21st century conditions are foundering. The U.S. have enough power to motivate others to seek to balance it, but not enough to solve global problems and ensure a global order on its own. Meanwhile, no other power or coalition of states has the will or capacity to supplant the U.S. in leading the necessary creative process. The U.S. are unlikely to abandon leadership, but to achieve its interests and also to create global public goods, the United States and its allies need the cooperation of Russia, China and major regional powers.
Indeed, in order to strengthen the nuclear order, the three nuclear-armed states that are not party to the NPT - India, Pakistan and Israel - must also be integrated into the broader non-proliferation regime. Among other things, hey must accept the same obligations to disarm nd control exports of relevant technology, material and know-how as the original five nuclear-weapon-states. No process or forum now exists to include those three states. The U.S. led an initiative to change existing rules - nationally and within the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group - to offer full nuclear cooperation with India in return for Indian adherence to some non-proliferation rules. The "U.S.-India nuclear deal" has many shortcomings that fall beyond the scope of this paper, but one could argue that a major flaw is the omission of Pakistan and Israel from the integration process. Any serious effort to reform the nuclear order - which the India deal is not - would have to establish criteria for bringing Pakistan and Israel into the non-proliferation and disarmament processes."
Ariel E. Levite : "Over 60 years after the dramatic advent to the world scene of nuclear weapons we may now have come full circle. Nuclear weapons are slowly making their way back to the center of the political agenda. And once again no holds are barred in discussing what to do about them. Mainstream thinkers and prominent practitioners alike are asking aloud the most fundamental questions regarding our nuclear destiny. Can we (continue to) live with nuclear weapons, and conversely, can we risk living without them ? What would we risk by trying to get rid of them, and what would be the peril associated with failing to do so ? Can we ‘disinvent' nuclear weapons and, if so, how should we go about doing so responsibly and in a verifiable fashion ? Conversely, how high of a risk are we running by even raising doubts about the utility of nuclear deterrence, let alone by actually trying to do something to realize this vision ?
Where are seem to agree is that we are coming dangerously close to the nuclear precipice. This naturally gives rise ton an increasingly intense effort to urgently re-examine what would it take to reintroduce a measure of stability into the nuclear order. Have we reached the point where the offensively dominated nuclear deterrence regime where the wherewithal is possessed by the few has become unsustainable ? Will it be inevitably replaced with one where nuclear weapons are in the hands of the many, including possibly non-state actors ? By a defensively dominated nuclear order that trades the logic of ‘deterrence by punishment'fot ‘deterrence by denial' as the default option in a multipolar nuclear context ? By a mixture of both whereby missile defenses complements and reinvigorates classical nuclear (and conventional) deterrence by providing a measure of protection against erratic or reckless nuclear possessors ? Or perhaps by a goal nuclear abolition irreversibly ridding the world of all nuclear weapons ?
Similarly, the hopes and risks associated with nuclear energy have also resurfaced as a serious related bone of contention. Some of the debate sounds strikingly familiar. It centers on questions such as the maturity of nuclear power technology, its viability for the generation of energy in a relatively cheap and reliable way, and its capacity to do so without running excessive risks of nuclear proliferation, safety, security and waste management. But this debate soes have a new twist, introduced by heightened concerns over global warning, energy security, and the dramatically improving track record of nuclear power plants. Unsurprisingly, the answers given to these questions currently remain inconclusive and tend to vary greatly over time and from one nation to another. This, however, is hardly an academic debate, and its outcome is clearly germane to the broader nuclear order of concern here. This holds especially true even if one contemplates nuclear disarmament, given the inherently dual-use nature of nuclear technology. Nor will it change if access to nuclear power remains potentially synonymous with access to the nuclear fuel cycle.
The prospect of a nuclear renaissance, in turn, forces us to question whether we can afford (politically, economically, and above all strategically) either to procrastinate in devising new global rules to regulate this domain or to sustain the current ‘laissez faire' environment. This seems especially pertinent because the current fortunes of nuclear power vary greatly and swing sharply neither merely on the basis of the absolute merits of nuclear power nor even on its relative ones in comparison to other energy sources. Extraneous political considerations and/or narrow, myopic economic interest could still lead to careless dissemination of nuclear power in the absence of proper safety, security, proliferation, and environmental safeguards commensurate with its sensitivity. This concern assumes some urgency given that nuclear technology has an active life of decades and its products for millennia, while rolling back decisions that have been made or technology that has already been transferred is excruciatingly difficult.
In the final analysis, there is one important feature that does seem to set apart the overall current nuclear debate from earlier ones, namely its truly global nature. The power to shape the global nuclear future now lies in the hands of a far large number and strickingly different mix of stakeholders, governments, coalitions thereof (such as the ‘Nex Agenda Colalition') and non-governments (from NGOs and ad hoc commissions all the way up to Al Qaeda) alike, through influence both of the arms control and disarmament processes and agendas as well as their actions on the ground. This is not dissimilar to the situation presently characterizing either the efforts o resuscitate the global financial system or to fight global climate change. This could, at best, be a guarantee for securing a more equitable and widely subscribed outcome. At worst, though, it could also prove a recipe for paralysis and nuclear anarchy. So the pressing challenge in front of us is to navigate successfully between this set of incentives and hurdles in the effort to shape a benign ‘fourth nuclear age'. We must do so recognizing that muddling through is likely to result in the rapid emergence of its far more frightening variant.
It is perhaps appropriate to close on a philosophical afterthought regarding the evolution of the nuclear order. Il might be helpful to look at the fate of this particular regime from a broader historical and comparative perspective on international regimes ? The contemporary nuclear order has not merely endured but has in fact helped enhance global stability for over a generation, notwithstanding fundamental transformations of the world during this period. By any account this constitutes a remarkable accomplishment, all the more so if we bear in mind the extremely unfavourable odds faces since its inception. Its track record becomes all the more impressive when viewed against the perspective offered by looking at the fortunes of other international regimes (such as the monetary and financial regimes). Yet this framework also suggests that we ought to consider it both unusual and fortunate if any international regime survives for a generation. Assuming this observation is indeed correct, it may actually have profound practical implications. Because it implies that it is not merely unwarranted but also counterproductive to deny any longer the nuclear regime's demise or to look at it with the stigmatization and victimization that is typically associated with such an attribution (or admission) of failure. If we can dispense with such attitudes, the road may actually be paved for adopting the innovative solutions necessary either to resurrect this regime or build another one in its stead. "
La Communauté internationale doit s'attacher à apporter sans délai des réponses claires à l'ensemble des questions soulevées dans ces analyses sauf à courir le risque de laisser se développer de nouveaux imbroglios particulièrement préjudiciables à la sécurité internationale et à la stabilité stratégique. L'Union européenne s'y emploie d'ores et déjà dans la limite des compétences que lui ont attribuées les Etats en la matière (cf. à cet égard l'article intitulé L'UE est particulièrement active dans son soutien à l’AEIA en matière de sécurité et de vérification nucléaires et les articles auxquels il renvoie).
Pour la seconde partie de cet article, voir : Dissuasion et prolifération nucléaires : où en sommes-nous ? - seconde partie - (nouvelle édition)
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