Conferences, Videos & Testimony
Regional Safeguards in Latin America: Implications for the Middle East?
October 27, 1997
Seminar Sponsored by The Institute for Science and International Security
Washington, D.C. and
The National Center for Middle East Studies
Cairo, Egypt October 27, 1997
Table of Contents
Evolution of the Argentine-Brazilian Nuclear Rapprochement
Questions and Discussion
Origin and Role of Argentina’s and Brazil’s Nuclear Programs, and the Role of the Military and Non-Governmental Scientists in Changing the Climate on Nuclear Development
Questions and Discussion
ABACC: Designing and Implementing Bilateral Inspections in Argentina and Brazil
Questions and Discussion
Summary: Latin American Experience and Lessons
Questions and Discussion
List of Figures
Aly Sadek, National Center for Middle East Studies (NCMES): I’d like to welcome you all to this seminar on regional safeguards in Latin America and the implications for a regional system in the Middle East.
During the last week of March 1997, Dr. Said Hamied and I represented the National Center for Middle East Studies at a meeting in Washington, D.C. on the elimination of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Middle East. There we met for the first time Mr. David Albright, the President of ISIS. David’s participation in this meeting indicated that ISIS had a clear interest in developments in the Middle East in general, and on the topic of arms control in particular. These impressions were confirmed by his proposal to convene this seminar in Egypt.
This seminar deals with the experience of some Latin American countries in setting up a nuclear weapons free zone (NWFZ). However, we all know that there are broad differences between the situation in Latin America and the Middle East. Nevertheless, the success of Argentina, Brazil and other Latin American countries in establishing such a zone and overcoming obstacles that hindered the fulfillment of this goal is worth studying.
There are several lessons to be derived from this experience that could be useful in the Middle East context. But there are many differences. From a political point of view, the tense and conflicting relations among Latin American states were generally kept within the boundaries of the usual regional framework of developing countries. On the other hand, relations between countries of the Middle East are unique and completely different that those of Latin America. The Middle East has been the arena of five wars between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
War did not come to an end until the famous peace initiative undertaken by Egypt’s late president, Anwar Sadat. The initiative, as we all know, resulted in a bilateral peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. Subsequently, there followed by a treaty between Jordan and Israel, and mutual recognition between Israel and the Palestine Authority. This led to the beginning of peace talks between the two parties, but since the current ruling coalition under Benjamin Netanyahu took power in Israel, the situation has severely deteriorated.
With regard to the subject of nuclear arms, the situation of Latin America is different from the Middle East as well. Most Latin American countries have similar or equal scientific capabilities and facilities in the nuclear field. Furthermore, none of them ever obtained nuclear weapons. The situation in the Middle East is totally different. In our region, only Israel monopolizes nuclear weapons. It has an abundance of nuclear bombs and delivery systems. On the other hand, none of the Arab counties have nuclear weapons; Egypt, the largest country in the Middle East, adopted the strategy of non-acquisition of nuclear weapons in the 1960s. Thus, nuclear nonparity is one of the main causes of instability in the Middle East. This situation encourages some of the extremist forces in Israel to retreat from the peace strategy and push the region to a new era of conflict, maybe war.
Judging by my personal experience in security issues and disarmament, I am confident of the feasibility of ridding the Middle East of WMD. Such an arrangement would be a vital element that would ensure the security of every country in the region, including Israel, Egypt and every other Arab country—including Iraq.
There are many aspects of the Latin American experience that are worth studying, including: the technical aspects of the Latin American NWFZ; transparency; the institutions that have been set up; the contents and scope of the inspection regime; international and regional security guarantees; and those steps which were taken as confidence building measures.
To conclude my opening remarks, I would like to thank everybody for attending this seminar. I would like to thank in particular the staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and his excellency, Ambassador Mahmoud Karem, for their support, which enabled us to invite this distinguished group of specialists and experts to discuss this vital subject. I also want to thank ISIS for making arrangements to prepare for this seminar and see that it has come to fruition. Thank you.
Now, I will turn the floor over to Mr. Albright.
David Albright, Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS): Thank you very much. I’m very happy to be here and am looking forward to a full day of presentations and discussions.
I’m well aware, as all on this panel are, of the differences between Argentina and Brazil and the Middle East. However, we have found that there are many useful lessons that can be drawn from this experience. We are very pleased to be in Egypt to discuss these lessons with you.
ISIS and the National Center have decided to record this session in order to prepare a transcript. We will give the speakers a chance to edit their comments for clarity and style. We have found that such records can be quite valuable. Last year, we conducted a seminar in Israel, and followed this procedure. This transcript of that event was eventually made public, and I assume that this transcript will also be made public. We hope that this is acceptable to everyone.
Again, we are honored to be here in Egypt. I’d like to turn the floor over to Professor Redick, and move right into the first session. I’ll let Dr. Redick introduce himself and the rest of us.
Return to Table of Contents
Evolution of the Argentine-Brazilian Nuclear Rapprochement
John Redick, University of Virginia: Thank you David Albright and Dr. Sadek. I am pleased and deeply honored to be here in Egypt, and am very appreciative of the hospitality of the National Center for Middle East Studies for hosting this meeting, and to ISIS for organizing our discussion. To introduce myself, I am an associate professor at the University of Virginia where I teach and undertake research on issues of nuclear proliferation. My research interests have focussed principally on Latin American nuclear issues, and I have conducted considerable field research for many years. I have been associated with several prominent U.S.- based foundations working in the arms control field.
Egypt has a long and highly distinguished position of leadership in the arms control and disarmament field which includes, but extends far beyond, the Middle East region. Egypt’s early and sustained leadership in the Geneva Committee on Disarmament, among the non-aligned nations, and its continued leadership within the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), at the First Committee of the U.N. General Assembly, and in regional fora within the Middle East, are recognized by all serious experts in the arms control and disarmament field. Egyptian scholars and experts have helped define and develop the extensive body of historical experience of Middle East security, arms control and confidence-building measures. It is primarily from this historical experience that you, and your colleagues will, I deeply hope, draw inspiration and ideas to forge a system of regional peace and security in the Middle East. Nations from outside the region, including the nuclear weapon states and others, can be supportive of your efforts, but the leadership will come from within the region, and especially from Egypt.
This being true, other regional experiences can provide ideas and practical implications which may be modified, adopted, and ultimately prove useful to the search for a fair, just, and enduring peace in the Middle East. One such region with an interesting—and potentially relevant—story is Latin America. The successful Latin American experience in developing bilateral and regional mechanisms for controlling nuclear weapons has greatly contributed to the peace, security, and well-being of all nations in Central and South America. In many ways this Latin American experience is unique to that region, and, of course, there are vast differences between the Middle East and Latin American regions. Yet it is also true that Latin America as a region has been marked by strong competition and occasional serious conflict. This competition, rivalry, and suspicion could have led to the development of nuclear weapons and other WMD. While there are varying interpretations as to just how close certain Latin American nations were to developing nuclear weapons, the far more important point is that Latin American nations chose not to do so, and instead developed some innovative arms control mechanisms. Why this happened, how these mechanisms are evolving, and the possible implications for other regional situations such as the Middle East is the subject of our presentations.
The Latin American experience in controlling nuclear weapons is a very interesting and important story, and I have followed it closely for over three decades. I have had the pleasure of personally knowing many of the leaders of the Latin American efforts—none so great as the late Alfonso Garc¡a Robles, former Foreign Minister of Mexico, and father of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, which created the Latin American NWFZ. For this accomplishment he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
I mention Ambassador Garc¡a Robles in order to make a simple, but profound, point: the importance of individual tenacity and vision. The Latin American nuclear rapprochement did not just happen; it was the result of years of efforts by individuals in many Latin American nations, including in the region’s two leading nations, Argentina and Brazil.
It is unfortunate that one of Argentina’s most distinguished senior diplomats, Jul¡o Carasales, who has not only represented his nation at the highest levels in many fora, but is also his nation’s outstanding expert on nuclear policy and disarmament, is unable to be with us today because of illness. Ambassador Carasales had to cancel his participation in this seminar at the last minute, and it is unfortunate, because I know that he would have given an illuminating presentation on how this rapprochement developed over time.
Let me briefly pause to introduce the speakers who will be giving presentations today. Dr. Marco Marzo of Brazil brings the vitally important perspective of a professional practitioner. A former official in the Brazilian Nuclear Energy Commission, Dr. Marzo is now a key leader in Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials (ABACC), the agency which administers the bilateral verification and inspection regime. ABACC is very much a “work in progress,” particularly as it defines its responsibilities relative to those of the multilateral verification regime, the IAEA. Mr. David Albright, President of ISIS, is a scientist who has worked for many years on nuclear proliferation issues throughout the world. Focusing on the intersection of science and policy, ISIS is highly respected for its independence and objectivity. David Albright brings a clear, seasoned, and analytical perspective to these discussions.
My assignment is, in effect, to set the stage for the main attraction, that is the presentations which will follow, and perhaps, to plant a few seeds of ideas which may prove useful. My focus is on two mutually reinforcing measures by which Latin American nations have successfully curbed nuclear competition and largely eliminated prospects for nuclear weapons development in the region. The first of these is The Latin American NWFZ, as embodied in the 1967 Treaty of Tlatelolco, and the second is the Argentine- Brazilian nuclear rapprochement, which resulted in the establishment of the Joint System for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials (SCCC) and ABACC.
A highly respected environmental scientist from my institution, the University of Virginia, has done pioneering research on the interaction of sand storms from the Sahara Desert blowing across the Atlantic, and the Amazonian rain forests of South America which have a profound impact on global weather. In a similar fashion, and as a point of historical interest, the seeds of the Latin American NWFZ blew westward to South America from the Middle East. In 1961, nuclear weapons testing by France in the Sahara Desert produced a highly critical reaction throughout the region, and nurtured discussion of a continent-wide NWFZ for Africa. Brazilian diplomats then brought the concept back to South America in the early 1960s and, in so doing, stimulated the interest of the then Mexican Ambassador to Brazil, Alfonso Garc¡a Robles who ultimately spearheaded the negotiating process. In the subsequent years between 1960 and the beginning of the final negotiations in Mexico City in 1964, discussions continued in the Geneva Disarmament Committee, in the U.N. First Committee, and in various Latin American capitals. In addition, the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis provided a certain catalytic momentum and velocity to these discussions as Latin American leaders, to their horror, found themselves potential nuclear targets due to the nuclear miscalculations of the superpowers.
In other words, there were complex and multiple incentives for Latin America’s efforts to explore and achieve regional nuclear arms control. The movement had deep, indigenous roots growing out of inter-American regional meetings in the 1950s, but also nourished by ideas and experiences transplanted from the Middle East and Africa. The Latin American effort was also a reaction to an immediate—and deeply serious—global crisis, and represented a shared desire to insulate the region from superpower rivalry. But it was also an effort to curtail significant bilateral rivalries within the region that could have led to ruinous results.
In a similar fashion, regional control mechanisms for nuclear weapons and other WMD in the Middle East region may ultimately evolve in response to multiple incentives and motivations. These incentives would include, of course, a desire to control the undeclared Israeli nuclear arsenal, but might also include the need to mitigate rivalries among Arab nations (which in turn are exacerbated by the existing Israeli arsenal). And, like Latin America, yet another long-term incentive may be an eventual shared view by Middle East nations that regional control mechanisms for WMD will result in reduced threatening involvement by non- regional nations.
The process that was followed in the very earliest stages of the Latin American NWFZ negotiations is both interesting, and possibly relevant, to long-term Middle East nuclear arms control efforts. Prior to the initiation of formal negotiations, an informal preliminary group of diplomats from some Latin American nations met in Mexico City in 1963 to attempt to resolve a number of issues. These “semi-official” preliminary discussions were quite successful in setting the stage for the more formal Preparatory Committee, which conducted the complex negotiations from 1964 to the signing of the treaty in 1967. Moreover, the Preparatory Committee was composed of only nations from the region; non-regional nations, including nuclear weapon states, were present only as observers. This negotiating process allowed Latin American nations to resolve among themselves certain contentious issues, thereby enhancing prospects for a successful conclusion of the negotiations.
By most interpretations, for a NWFZ to be effective and deserving of support, it must have the participation of all important nations in the region. Yet, contrary to this conventional wisdom, the Latin American experience demonstrates that a NWFZ can have value while initially lacking the participation of all core regional nations.
For over 25 years following the 1967 signing of the Tlatelolco Treaty, the Latin American zone existed without the full participation of key regional nations: Argentina, Brazil, and Chile. By any calculation such as GNP, population, or nuclear development, these nations were regional leaders, but, for a variety of reasons, they chose not to become full parties to the regional regime.
During the long absence of these nations, many experts dismissed the value of the partial Latin American zone by ignoring certain points which may have relevance for the Middle East. First, while lacking participation of key regional nations, the zone had value by providing mutual assurance to those Latin American nations which chose to become full parties to the treaty. That is, by incorporating most Latin American nations, the zone helped mute traditional rivalries, and eclipsed prospects for a regional chain reaction of nuclear competition.
Of comparable significance was the fact that, despite the lack of full participation by core nations, the Tlatelolco Treaty defined a regional “norm” that there would be no nuclear weapons in Latin America. Those Latin American nations that chose not to become full parties of the zone were viewed as at variance with the common will of their regional neighbors. The existence of the partial zone emphasized a common goal shared by most Latin Americans, and a shared presumption that, in the course of time, the zone would include all nations. In the Middle East, WMD already exist, and current political conditions limit prospects for participation of all nations in a weapon-free-zone.
Yet, the Latin American experience suggests that there is value in negotiating a partial zone as a step toward regional stabilization and eventual achievement of a region-wide agreement. A partial zone is a prudent long-term investment because it may help shape the future regional norm.
The Latin American NWFZ treaty includes certain innovative entry-into-force procedures which could be useful in the Middle East. Fashioned as an act of political expediency, the procedure, under Article 28, Paragraph 2, allowed Latin American nations to waive certain requirements and allow the treaty to come into immediate force for their territory. The features that could be waived included the completion of IAEA safeguards by all Latin American nations, and conclusion of supporting protocols by nuclear weapon states and non-regional nations with territorial interests in the area covered by the zone.
This procedure also allowed those Latin American nations that chose, at the time, not to become full parties, to still retain an organic link to the treaty. This was accomplished by making a legal distinction between “Contracting Parties,” that is, full parties, or those nations which had signed and ratified, but waived the aforementioned provision of Article 28, thereby allowing the treaty to come into force for their territory, and “Signatories,” that is those nations which had signed and ratified, but not waived the Article 28 provision and, for which, the treaty was not yet in force. Signatories, such as Brazil and Chile, therefore retained a legal mechanism by which to influence the conduct of the treaty, as defined in Article 6, while final authority remained with the full, Contracting Parties.
The possible future relevance to the Middle East is that it suggests means by which nations not yet prepared to become full parties to a regional agreement could, nonetheless, have a legal relationship to a partial zone. Under the Tlatelolco model, Signatories had very limited influence, such as the right to call a meeting of all Parties and Signatories to discuss issues relevant to the agreement. But even this limited role provides Signatories with both a voice within the zone, and a concurrent obligation to take no actions contrary to the objectives of the agreement. Such a phased, or two-tiered, relationship could provide a means of linking all Middle East nations both to an agreement for a partial zone in the short-term, and to a long-term process for completing a region-wide NWFZ.
The Tlatelolco Treaty helped set the political context for nuclear rapprochement between Latin America’s two leading nations, Argentina and Brazil. The Tlatelolco Treaty negotiations in the mid-1960s encouraged the two nations for the first time to begin to discuss and develop common positions on sensitive nuclear issues. For many years following completion of the negotiations, these common positions were limited to shared opposition to a perceived unequal and discriminatory nonproliferation regime, especially as regards the NPT and the so-called Nuclear Suppliers Group. However, over a number of years, these common positions evolved into regional nuclear confidence-building measures and finally into the establishment of the bilateral accounting and inspection regime (ABACC), acceptance of full-scope IAEA safeguards, and full membership in an amended Tlatelolco Treaty. Evolution of bilateral nuclear cooperation in turn encouraged economic, military, scientific, and political cooperation.
As noted earlier, both nations chose not to become full Tlatelolco Treaty parties for over 25 years following the completion of the negotiations in 1967. However, during that period, the Tlatelolco goal of a region totally free of nuclear weapons resulted in a pledge by both Argentina and Brazil to take no actions contrary to the objectives of the treaty. In promising to respect the goals of the agreement, the two rivals were also sending an important bilateral confidence building message to each other: that their competition should not extend to nuclear weapons development. The simple, but profound, lesson of this Latin American experience is that establishment of even a partial NWFZ can help mitigate historic rivalries between competitors, reduce bilateral tension, and promote mutual confidence and trust. Without the pre-existing Tlatelolco regime, nuclear competition between Argentina and Brazil might have taken a very different and tragic path, resulting in the destabilization of the entire South American region.
At this point I turn to the third part of my presentation: the extraordinary and precedent-setting bilateral verification and inspection agreement established by Argentina and Brazil. The term “rapprochement” is often used to describe the current relationship between the two nations, particularly on nuclear issues. It refers both to their bilateral relations and to their gradual integration into the nonproliferation regime. Nuclear rapprochement was not, however, pre-destined or inevitable. Historically the two nations were political, military, and economic rivals for leadership in South America. While experiencing no direct, bilateral armed conflict since the 1820s, the rivalry nonetheless had a distinct nuclear dimension with the potential to assume a military dimension. Both nations had developed, independently, the nuclear fuel cycle, and possessed nuclear facilities not subject to regional or multilateral safeguards.
Assertive nuclear programs were accompanied by a nuclear theology grounded in opposition to the nuclear non-proliferation regime. As already noted, both nations rejected the NPT, full-scope IAEA safeguards, the Nuclear Suppliers Group, and were not full parties to the NWFZ. Both expressed active interest in so-called peaceful nuclear explosives (PNEs), and were involved in questionable nuclear export activities, including exports to nations in the Middle East. In the case of Argentina, as is well known, there was substantial cooperation with Middle East countries to jointly develop the Condor II missile.
While the aforementioned information is a matter of public record and is not controversial, there are differing interpretations as to whether either or both nations had clearly defined intentions to develop nuclear weapons. My personal view is that most Argentine officials, both military and civilian, that were involved in the nuclear program did not favor nuclear weapons development, although, as noted earlier, there was interest in PNEs. There was an appreciation, at the highest levels, that development of nuclear weapons might ultimately impede the civil nuclear program due to the inevitable strong reaction of foreign nations. There was also concern that it would stimulate a nuclear arms race with Brazil, a race Argentina would ultimately lose owing to Brazil’s superior resources.
The extent of Brazilian engagement in nuclear weapons development in the late 1970s and early 1980s remains unclear, and a matter of continued speculation and controversy. Like Argentina, Brazil possessed several unsafeguarded, sensitive nuclear fuel cycle facilities. Unlike Argentina, Brazilian military authorities had established a semi-secret “parallel” program, one facet of which included a shaft in the north central region, apparently for nuclear testing. My own interpretation is that some elements within the military in the early 1980s intended to develop and test a nuclear explosive device, but there was no consensus on this point within the military-dominated government. Moreover, there were other reasons why the military was interested in development of indigenous nuclear technology, namely nuclear-propelled submarines.
Despite the clear potential for military development, nuclear competition between Argentina and Brazil evolved into nuclear cooperation. The reasons why this occurred are complex, and in most ways unique to the Latin American situation. There are, however, aspects of this process with possible implications for other regions, including the Middle East. As mentioned previously, the existence of the partial Latin American NWFZ, and the commitment by Argentina and Brazil not to undercut its objectives, was a important factor.
In addition, beginning in the late 1970s, some limited technical and scientific contacts between the Argentine and Brazilian nuclear energy programs began. Following resolution of certain energy and water related problems in the Rio de la Plata area in 1979, the two nations signed a 1980 agreement for nuclear fuel cycle cooperation. This agreement was achieved on the occasion of a visit by the Brazilian president, General Figuerido, the first such head-of-state visit in a generation. Parenthetically, General Figuerido had previously lived in Argentina for a number of years, and had a cultural affinity for that nation, which many in the Brazilian leadership lacked.
It is significant that these, and earlier, confidence-building steps were undertaken during periods of military, non-representative, government in both nations. This illustrates that progress toward nuclear restraint can occur with non-democratic governments; military dominated governments can, and do, have objective reasons for supporting such efforts.
Nonetheless, the return to democratic government in Argentina and Brazil accelerated and deepened the nuclear rapprochement. Under democratic governments from the mid-1980s on, economic and trade issues assumed greater importance. For the first time in their 150 year history, real progress began toward a Southern Cone free trade area, and political cooperation became possible for the two historic rivals.
In the late 1980s, the civilian presidents initiated a series of reciprocal visits to indigenous unsafeguarded nuclear installations. These were not formal inspections per se, but as invited visits they had enormous symbolism as confidence-building measures. Other confidence- building measures adopted by the two nations in the late 1980s included the voluntary mutual advance notification of significant nuclear activities, such as opening a new enrichment plant; systematic technical exchanges between nuclear energy commissions; and the creation of a Standing Joint Nuclear Policy Committee, composed of representatives of foreign ministry and nuclear energy commission personnel. The Standing Joint Nuclear Policy Committee was designed to consider a wide variety of technical, economic, and political issues pertaining to nuclear cooperation. It was, in part, from the work of this Standing Committee that ABACC eventually evolved. This Argentine-Brazilian nuclear rapprochement experience underscores the importance role of certain procedural and confidence building measures in building closer relations over time.
As Marco Marzo will discuss in more detail, the bilateral verification and inspection regime entered into force in December 1991. The regime was formally linked to the IAEA through the Quadripartite Agreement in March 1994.
Let me conclude with several observations:
First, the bilateral nuclear arms control arrangement was successfully undertaken in the context of overall improving economic, political and military relations between the two nations. But the lesson of this experience is not to suggest that nuclear arrangements must await the resolution of all outstanding political issues.
Quite the contrary. The Argentine and Brazilian political leadership throughout the 1980s, both civilian and military, used bilateral progress on nuclear issues as a catalyst to stimulate and reinforce cooperation in other areas. This suggests that enlightened leadership can utilize both the sensitivity and the symbolism of nuclear issues to help prod and pace cooperation in other political and economic areas.
Second, key domestic elements in both Argentina and Brazil contributed to this nuclear rapprochement, particularly the foreign and finance ministries, the military, and the scientific communities. As one might expect, the foreign ministries in both countries were highly sensitive to the diplomatic costs of staying outside the international nonproliferation regime. They also realized the potential tragic costs, better than most, of a bilateral nuclear arms race.
The foreign ministries worked hard with their allies in the Argentine and Brazilian congresses to convince some in the military that nuclear cooperation was desirable. In Argentina, the foreign ministry had a particular advantage in this regard, because the Argentine military had been discredited by the Falklands/Malvinas War. In arguing for change in nuclear policy, the Argentine Foreign Ministry was in fact arguing for the end of Argentina’s political isolation. The Brazilian Foreign Ministry was motivated to shift Brazil’s nuclear policy as part of a larger foreign policy objective—that is, to achieve greater global stature and leadership for Brazil, including a permanent membership on the U.N. Security Council.
The finance ministries and business interests in both countries also were strong advocates for a change in nuclear policy. Greater cooperation would remove an impediment to foreign investment and trade. As the two countries moved towards democratic governments, there was a commitment to open previously closed and inefficient markets to foreign investment. Access to advanced western technology was viewed as essential to the modernization process, and change in the nuclear policy was essential to facilitate that objective for both nations.
The military in both nations generally supported a change in nuclear policy, owing to their concern that a military nuclear program would siphon resources away from other priorities. Both the Argentine and Brazilian military increasingly viewed the idea of nuclear competition as illogical. Indeed, there has been a fascinating evolution of military cooperation between the two countries in recent years. The Falklands/Malvinas War, in a very interesting way, encouraged the Argentine and Brazilian militaries to cooperate by demonstrating that both nations were vulnerable to external powers in the South Atlantic, where both countries shared geopolitical interests. The inability of the inter-American security system to provide support for Argentina in the war also reinforced the need for both countries to cooperate militarily. Their mutual vulnerability was a key lesson of the Falklands/Malvinas War.
Scientists, both in and out of the governments in both countries, also played a particularly important role in bringing about greater cooperation. In both nations, nuclear physicists and their professional societies promoted public discussions of the need for regional and multilateral nuclear arms control. These individuals and organizations were key lobbying elements before the Argentine and Brazilian congresses and presidents. On an official level, scientific exchanges between the nuclear energy commissions in the two nations contributed to mutual understanding, collegial respect and familiarity with each other’s nuclear programs. The opportunity to exchange views, work on common research projects, safeguard technologies and so forth, was a very important, if subtle, confidence building process. These scientists also came to realize that terminating nuclear programs with military potential would also help assure access to needed technology from countries with more advanced nuclear programs.
Finally, the Argentine-Brazilian arrangement suggests certain distinct advantages that bilateral or regional machinery may have relative to multilateral machinery. In particular, the ABACC system was crafted to meet the needs of the effected countries. As such, it was much more politically acceptable than the multilateral system, which is often perceived as being imposed by more powerful, non-regional nations. This suggests that the bilateral model may be more suitable to certain regional situations, where one or more parties distrusts the multilateral non-proliferation regime and resists full-scope IAEA safeguards. In the Argentine-Brazilian model, the bilateral machinery, ABACC, assumes the principal responsibility for the administration of nuclear safeguards and inspections. The IAEA is directly involved and has certain, carefully defined prerogatives, including the right to conduct special inspections. But the relationship between ABACC and the IAEA is still evolving and will continue to change over time.
The advantages of the ABACC system, which may have relevance to other areas such as the Middle East, include the rapidity of the process by which inspection results go directly to the governments through ABACC’s Commission rather than filtered through the more circumspect IAEA reporting procedures. The greater efficiency and effectiveness of the bilateral system, in turn, contributes to more manageable and cost-effective safeguards. The higher motivation of ABACC inspectors relative to IAEA inspectors, owing to the fact that ABACC inspectors are from the immediate region rather than from around the world, is another distinct advantage of the bilateral system. ABACC inspectors are also better trained than IAEA inspectors. Moreover, these inspectors are drawn from their respective nuclear energy commissions and facilities, and possess familiarity and mutual rapport with their colleagues that derive from years of technical exchanges and cooperation.
In conclusion, I believe that both the bilateral/ABACC and the regional/Tlatelolco models contain a number of concepts that may be adopted to the profoundly difficult objective of achieving peace and security in the Middle East. On the bilateral level between Argentina and Brazil, there were certain processes of particular importance, notably: the reciprocal visits by the heads of state to nuclear facilities; the advanced notification of significant nuclear activities; the gradual development of scientific cooperation, including systematic technical exchanges between the nuclear energy commissions; and the creation of a Standing Joint Committee on Nuclear Policy, which ultimately evolved into the bilateral nuclear verification and inspection machinery that is in force today.
On the regional level, the preexistence of a region-wide NWFZ was of considerable importance to the Argentine-Brazilian nuclear rapprochement. The Tlatelolco Treaty was both a confidence building measure and a regional framework in which a dynamic and innovative bilateral inspection and verification regime could develop and flourish.
I hope that the experience and success of Latin America, with its own unique set of circumstances and conditions, may be useful to governments in the Middle East as they look to a more peaceful and productive future in the region. Thank you very much.
Questions and Discussion
Aly Sadek: Thank you very much for your presentation, Dr. Redick. I would now open the floor to questions so that we may begin to discuss the issues that you’ve raised.
Seminar Participant: What were the political motivations of Argentina and Brazil at the different stages of the rapprochement? While your presentation gave an overall view, it is not an a priori analysis. I would like to know whether the nonproliferation community in the United States expected beforehand that Argentina and Brazil would take such a step.
John Redick: That’s an excellent question. In my opinion, the U.S. nonproliferation authorities were highly skeptical for many years about Argentina’s and Brazil’s motivations as they developed their rapprochement. Some even suggested that Argentina and Brazil were cooperating with each other in order to get around international safeguards and to avoid being incorporated into the nonproliferation regime.
I disagreed with this conventional wisdom. Based on my research, I believed that most leaders in both Argentina and Brazil never desired to develop nuclear weapons. A few military elements, particularly in Brazil, were interested in developing so-called PNEs and undertook measures to do so. The objective of most of the leadership in both countries was to fully master the nuclear fuel cycle for purposes of national development, and to implement a vigorous and independent nuclear program.
This being said, I believe that it is also true that neither country had a clear view as to where the rapprochement was going, especially in its earliest or even middle stages. They initially intended to develop a bilateral process where they could mute their nuclear competition and resist the multilateral nonproliferation regime, which they both viewed as discriminatory. Based on my interviews with high-level officials, in as late as 1988 most leaders in both countries did not expect their nation to adopt full-scope IAEA safeguards or to integrate into the global nonproliferation regime. For a variety of interesting reasons that situation evolved, but it was not the intended objective at the beginning of the process.
David Albright: I would like to add one thing on this point. It’s unfortunate that Ambassador Carasales could not be here at this seminar because he had planned to address this issue.
I would say that people in Argentina and Brazil were genuinely surprised about how the rapprochement developed. There was nothing inevitable about this process. From my own experience—during the 1980s when I worked with the Brazilian Physics Society—there was genuine surprise at the pace of change.
But there were also periods of frustration. For example, after Alfons¡n became President of Argentina, he wanted things to move quickly. He energized the foreign ministry to take control of the nuclear project and to find a solution to this problem with Brazil. But the Brazilian military stopped him cold. Alfons¡n had to retreat from an ambitious program to obtain mutual inspections, settling instead for mutual visits. As a result of the Brazilian military’s opposition, I think there was a great deal of frustration in the Argentine foreign ministry between 1985 and 1987. This shows how dynamic this process was. It was not ordained to be a success.
John Redick: I agree.
Marco Marzo, Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials (ABACC): I would like to add that the nuclear relationship cannot be considered in isolation from the broader political and economic context. The rapprochement between Brazil and Argentina was in several other areas besides the nuclear area.
As you know, in the mid-1980s both countries, plus Uruguay and Paraguay, created a common market in South America. For this effort to be implemented, it was important to have nuclear cooperation, or at least greater trust and confidence. If you have suspicions about your neighbor, then you can not have economic cooperation with your neighbor. I think this was very important. There are a lot of internal and external political reasons that affected the rapprochement.
Seminar Participant: Was the level of nuclear development between the two countries symmetric or asymmetric? If it was symmetric, then this a reverse application of the balance of terror that exists between the nuclear weapon states. If the relationship was asymmetrical, then it needs a different interpretation.
John Redick: The programs were comparably advanced, but different in scope. Argentina introduced nuclear power a decade before Brazil and emphasized natural uranium technology in contrast to the latter’s utilization of low-enriched uranium. There was symmetry in terms of their knowledge-base on sensitive nuclear technology in that both nations developed indigenous enrichment facilities at approximately the same time, albeit of a different type. Argentina developed gaseous diffusion technology, whereas Brazil focussed on centrifuge technology. Both Argentina and Brazil developed, and subsequently closed, reprocessing facilities.
Marco Marzo: I think it is very difficult to describe the situation ten years ago as being symmetric. Basically, today Brazil has a more developed enrichment program than Argentina. But ten years ago, when we started that program, Argentina had much more experience in reprocessing. I would say that now there is more or less some symmetry.
Seminar Participant: I think Dr. Redick gave a very bright expos‚ about how the Latin American NWFZ came to being and about the Argentine-Brazilian nuclear rapprochement. He also discussed very interesting elements in the realm of security and confidence building measures between Argentina and Brazil.
How would you envisage the development of these elements to match the situation in the Middle East? That is, how would you convince Israel that negotiating and entering into Middle East NWFZ is in its best interests? What are some of the bilateral measures that Egypt and Israel could carry out?
John Redick: I should frame my answer with the caveat that I am not a Middle East expert. The Latin American experience suggests that reciprocal heads of state to nuclear installations were of enormous symbolic importance. These visits were not formal inspections, but they contributed to a process which resulted in a bilateral inspection agreement. It occurs to me that something analogous to this could be very important to building confidence in the Middle East. When these visits occurred in Argentina and Brazil, they were very much in the headlines of both countries, and they stimulated a positive feeling of mutual trust. Beyond that, the Argentine-Brazilian nuclear experience suggests the importance of quiet contacts and state- to-state courtesy. For example, it became the practice that if one country was going to do something in the nuclear area that it thought might cause concern, that country would privately inform the other before the activity became public knowledge. These notifications were carried out at the highest levels, and, consequently, encouraged confidence that resonated throughout the respective governments. In addition, I talked earlier about the importance of technical/scientific exchanges between the nuclear energy commissions. These are some of the measures which contributed to the Argentine-Brazilian nuclear rapprochement and might, under certain circumstances, be useful in the Middle East.
David Albright: I’d like to add a few things. I’m also not a Middle East expert, but I do have some experience studying the nuclear programs in the region. The message that I’ve heard from Israelis and also from some Americans is—don’t demand too much. In a sense, Argentina demanded a lot from Brazil in 1985 and was rebuffed. Then they had to settle for small measures. In the Middle East, it has been my experience that one party’s “small measure” often does not seem so small to another party. So it is very difficult to find things that don’t prompt a negative reaction.
The opening of the new Egyptian reactor offers an opportunity for technical visits between Israel and Egypt. It could be a starting point that could promote technical exchanges. I don’t think the political leadership should get involved in such a step. But a technical visit seems possible to do.
Another thing that I think would help is if the level of rhetoric between Israel and Egypt was reduced, particularly over suspected nuclear accidents, charges of nuclear testing, and the like. Reducing the level of rhetoric could make cooperation and technical discussions a little easier. This way, neither country is put in the position of defending some activity that is innocuous or that may not even have occurred. Not jumping on a “highly critical bandwagon” would help to promote some cooperation.
In my career, I’ve worked with and for organizations that have tried to limit the activities of the U.S. nuclear weapons production complex. In the mid-1980s, we were very worried that the United States was embarking on a process that could have lead to a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. To create a political movement that would actually go the other way, we had to start very small. I think you are now seeing the fruits of that labor in the United States, where after at least a decade of very hard work to slow down nuclear weapons production—to stop fissile materials production, to end nuclear testing, to stop the production of new nuclear weapons—you are now seeing a genuine movement within the government for nuclear disarmament. It’s unprecedented in U.S. history. It’s a small movement. Its very difficult for it to make progress, but it is nevertheless being articulated now for the very first time—that nuclear disarmament is a possible endpoint in negotiations with Russia and the rest of the world.
This experience suggests the need to be patient and committed. In this context, one should be sensitive as to how criticisms of nuclear establishments bring about defensive reactions. So in the Middle East, there are small steps that could be taken that would improve the atmosphere or the climate.
Amb. Mahmoud Karem, Ministry of Foreign Affairs: May I, Mr. Chairman, at the outset express some personal sentiments? I’m extremely happy and pleased to see David Albright in Egypt. The embryonic discussion that we had less than a year ago in New York about this seminar has become a reality, as we see here today. I would like to congratulate David for pursuing this idea through to its fruition. May I also express my personal sentiments to you, Mr. Chairman and for your esteemed and august center for convening this very important session. I hope that there will be many lessons to learn as we proceed through the day.
I listened with great interest to the statement made by Dr. Redick, and would like to thank him for some very thought provoking ideas. I have some general comments regarding what he said.
Basically, I agree with him that the Tlatelolco regime did not proceed smoothly and faced challenges from the time it started. But I am particularly grateful to him for the point he made that the “kickoff,” if you will, of the whole idea of a NWFZ came from a declaration on the denuclearization of Africa, which was adopted by a summit of the Organization of African Unity in Cairo in 1964. It is interesting to note the spill-over effect of that idea on other regions of the world. In Africa, the Cairo declaration was launched in 1964, but was not finalized until 1996 on the 11th of April, so it took us much longer than Latin America to see the fruition of that idea.
There are salient challenges to the regime in Latin America, and I would like to note some of those myself.
First, there was Guantanamo.
Second, the regime was launched as the very first NWFZ in a densely populated area. This challenge really made a difference, because what had happened previously were treaties which only established zones, or prohibited the emplacement of nuclear weapons, in unpopulated areas like the seabed or Antarctica.
The third challenge was the relationship to the NPT, and that again was a very difficult relationship. Two countries in the region chose to withhold their full accession to the NPT.
The fourth challenge was the role of the military, and it is interesting to see how, as time went by, the military’s nuclear aspirations turned peaceful. That is very interesting.
But now we have a general recognition of the concept and legitimacy of NWFZs. Brazil has introduced a resolution in the U.N. General Assembly on the establishment of a NWFZ in the southern hemisphere in its entirety. That has only become possible following the establishment of an African NWFZ, through the Rarotonga Treaty, and hopefully a NWFZ in Southeast Asia.
There are facilitative factors that made it easier to establish the Tlatelolco Treaty. Parity, for example, between Argentina and Brazil, is very interesting.
Mention has been made to Ambassador J£lio Carasales, whom I happen to know quite well. I’ve worked with him on projects before. But one of the hats that Ambassador Carasales wore in bridging the gap between Argentina and Brazil was really not nuclear. Rather, the Ambassador presided over a river authority between several countries.
Latin America is a homogenous continent. The countries speak the same language, they have similar cultures. This factor became very visible, for example, when OPANAL was established. It became possible, because of what I have just mentioned, to run OPANAL smoothly and to have people from different parts of the continent sit together.
In contrast to the Middle East, Latin America lacks the presence of a multidimensional conflict, one that is historical, cultural, political, territorial and sometimes religious in nature. This conflict has exploded in the face of all those who are dealing with the issue of establishing a NWFZ and a weapons of mass destruction free zone (WMDFZ) in the Middle East.
I am particularly interested in what Dr. Redick said about the concept of a partial NWFZ. We need to emulate examples from Latin America and custom tailor them to see how they can best serve the Middle East. But I must warn you: if we custom tailor and emulate examples in the field of confidence building measures, and ignore structural arms control, I think we will be missing a golden opportunity.
Conducting bilateral visits to reactors is all well and good, but Egypt can easily get information on Nahel Soreq, which is fully safeguarded by the IAEA. Nahel Soreq is not the problem. The problem is Dimona.
There is a structural difference between the technical visits that happened in Latin America and what you are proposing for the Middle East. The technical visits in Latin America were between leaders and occurred at unsafeguarded facilities. Emulating that in the Middle East would not be possible, because I believe such visits would only be at safeguarded facilities.
But I would be very interested to learn more about your interpretation of the partial zone concept. I think this is a very good concept. In the League of Arab States, for example, they are conducting a similar project on establishing a WMDFZ. That effort has had difficulty in addressing many questions, such as the definition of the zone. Should we begin with core countries and expand to the periphery? What is the geographic definition of the zone?
Basically—again this is building on what a previous seminar participant mentioned—what is the value of establishing a NWFZ in the region between members who have no military nuclear activities, who have all signed full-scope safeguards agreements with the IAEA, and who are all parties of the NPT—without the presence of Israel? That is a very serious challenge, but again, if I am to say anything, I am very much interested in the elaboration of this concept of a partial zone.
John Redick: Thank you. That was a masterful discussion of the OPANAL/Tlatelolco system. I doubt that I can add constructively to your excellent comments except to observe that the Latin American NWFZ had value to Latin American nations, many of which lacked a nuclear infrastructure or an interest in nuclear weapons. As you know, there are natural rivalries in South America which could have been fueled by nuclear developments. In addition to Argentina and Brazil, there is an Argentine-Chilean rivalry, a Chilean-Peruvian rivalry, and many others. Because of Tlatelolco, the legal mechanisms preceded the development of nuclear infrastructures and therefore muted the competition.
The Middle East is a very different, more complex and infinitely dangerous situation. The relevance of the Latin American experience is limited, but there are some ideas and general concepts that may prove useful in the Middle East at the appropriate point. One such concept is the development of a bilateral nuclear verification regime, similar to ABACC, and its relationship to the existing multilateral nonproliferation regime. Marco Marzo will discuss how this dynamic process is developing.
As regards the partial nuclear-weapon-free concept, in Latin America it established a framework into which Argentina, Brazil and Chile became integrated at a much later point. The partial zone had real value for those nations which were Contracting Parties, and relevance for Signatories which were, nonetheless, linked to the treaty. It suggests a conceivable means by which Israel could be engaged in a long-term process of integration into a regional nuclear verification arrangement. In other words, there may be a point in the on-going Middle East situation where the idea of a partial zone—including parties linked to, but not yet full parties to, the zone—may have relevance. It is a concept which I believe is worth serious study be regional experts and leaders.
David Albright: John, I’d like to ask a follow-up question. The Tlatelolco signatories had constraints on them, and therefore Argentina and Brazil had a tough time talking about nuclear weapons. I personally believe that parts of the military did want nuclear weapons, particularly the army in Brazil. But Tlatelolco constrained the two countries by allowing them to only have PNEs.
In the Middle East, what types of constraints might be placed on Israel? Could a partial zone constrain Israel from expanding its nuclear arsenal? Would it mean that they’d have to accept that a NWFZ is an inevitability for the region—would that be implicit?
John Redick: In my view, there could be such constraints. If a partial zone were negotiated in the Middle East, Israel might be engaged as a Signatory, analogous to the relationship that certain Latin American non-parties had for many years regarding Tlatelolco. That is, there was a commitment on their part to become, at an appropriate point, a full party to the treaty, and in the interim to take no additional actions contrary to the treaty’s objectives. Moreover, such nations had a legal relationship to the treaty and, as Signatories, certain, limited opportunities to affect the operation of the treaty. Something analogous could be explored in the Middle East.
Let me close with an important point: While the Tlatelolco negotiators knew they wished to accomplish a region-wide NWFZ, they were also aware that it would prove a complex and difficult process. Along the way the process took some interesting twists, but through perseverance and creative diplomacy, they reached their objectives. The road is much more difficult in the Middle East, and the stakes are higher, but the effort is very worthwhile.
Seminar Participant: Thank you for your presentation, Dr. Redick. I have some questions that I would like for you to discuss.
First, the gradual rapprochement that took place did not prevent Brazil from undertaking all measures to prepare for a nuclear test. Though you’ve called it a “peaceful nuclear explosive,” there is no difference between a PNE and a nuclear weapon. It seems that it was not until after these preparations were discovered that things changed dramatically. So, my first question is whether this was a critical issue that led to the ABACC arrangements and if the United States played a role in this undertaking.
Second, with all of its historical developments and all of these arrangements, why has Brazil still not joined the NPT?
Third, what does ABACC provide, in terms of safeguards and inspections, that the IAEA can not provide? Thank you.
John Redick: The United States played a supportive role in the process between Argentina and Brazil in developing ABACC. But the process, as David Albright said, unfolded very quickly and I think it was a considerable surprise to the United States. Since ABACC has come into being, I believe that the United States has been highly supportive. The U.S. Department of Energy is working very closely in a variety of ways with ABACC, as are agencies of other governments.
Regarding the second question, Brazilian President Cardozo has asked the Brazilian legislature to approve the NPT, and the issue is now before the Brazilian Congress. I suspect that any formal action will be delayed until after the presidential election in 1998, but perhaps not.
In my opinion, there is no logical reason why Brazil would not ratify the NPT, since it has already effectively accepted full-scope IAEA safeguards. There may be political reasons that make joining the NPT difficult. Part of it is a holdover from Brazil’s adamant opposition to the NPT for many years.
The third question was of particular interest to me: what does ABACC give that the IAEA arrangement does not? I think there are many ways to answer that, but the most important way for me, as a student of Argentine and Brazilian politics, is that ABACC gave the Brazilian leadership the way to do something that it wanted to do. They wanted, ultimately, to become part of the nonproliferation regime, but to join the NPT would have been politically disastrous a few years ago. So ABACC gave them another way of forming a good relationship with Argentina, muting the competition between the two countries, and ultimately linking ABACC to the IAEA. This route, in effect, accomplished the results that would have been extremely difficult politically if they tried to enter the NPT directly.
Marco Marzo: From the formal, legal point of view, ABACC and the IAEA have the same rights and obligations. But, there are important differences, since the ABACC system is a regional safeguards system and the IAEA maintains an international safeguards system.
For example, the IAEA is constrained by universal criteria when applying safeguards. The IAEA has to apply the same safeguards at fuel fabrication plants in Spain as they apply in fuel fabrication plants in Brazil or anywhere else. ABACC, as a regional organization, is less constrained by universal criteria.
ABACC can also apply more restrictive safeguards. For example, the IAEA’s safeguards criteria for enrichment plants is to detect the diversion of 75 kilograms of 235U. ABACC has established a detection limit of 30 kilograms—less than half of the IAEA criteria. We can apply this lower level, but if the IAEA established lower limits it would provoke a very difficult discussion in the Board of Governors and the General Conference.
Also, the inspectorate of ABACC is chosen from the best experts from the two countries. The IAEA has a permanent inspectorate.
But I think the most important difference is the informal channel of communication. If there is a suspicion, ABACC can directly ask the inspected party about it. We can ask for access to the facility, to the building, maybe in a formal or an informal way, and we get access. In the case of the IAEA this is very difficult. The IAEA is trying to implement provisions allowing greater access as part of its program to strengthen safeguards. But with the bilateral relationship, such communications are much more direct.
Aly Sadek: Thank you Dr. Redick for your presentation and thank you all for the discussions that followed.
Origin and Role of Argentina’s and Brazil’s Nuclear Programs, and the Role of the Military and Non-Governmental Scientists in Changing the Climate on Nuclear Development
Fawzy Hammad, NCMES: Good morning ladies and gentlemen. It gives me great pleasure to share this session with our speakers. At least for me, this is a very important day, because having first-hand information on what has taken place in Latin America, and the pioneering experience of ABACC, is of great importance to us here.
We have here two distinguished speakers. Dr. Marco Marzo, the Senior Planning and Evaluation Officer from ABACC and Mr. David Albright, whom you all know. Dr. Marzo, please.
Marco Marzo: Thank you Dr. Hammad. I have been asked to talk about the evolution of Argentina’s and Brazil’s nuclear programs, and how relations developed between the two countries in the nuclear field. As I do this, I would like to share with you my own perspective as a nuclear scientist who was involved in Brazil’s nuclear energy program and as a participant in the exchanges, events and negotiations that led to the Bilateral and Quadripartite agreements.
The cooperation between Argentina and Brazil can not be viewed in isolation. From the beginning of the rapprochement in the early 1980s, both countries had broad international problems. The Brazilian economy was very bad, and suffered a crisis in 1982. In Argentina, the main problem was the Falklands/Malvinas War with the United Kingdom. The difficulty in implementing the 1980 agreement on peaceful uses of nuclear energy therefore can not be viewed in isolation.
The way in which Argentina and Brazil came together in the nuclear field is astounding. From my own personal point of view, if you said to me at that time, in 1984 or 1985, that there would be a rapprochement between Argentina and Brazil, that the Bilateral Agreement would be signed in 10 years, I would have said that you were crazy. Because from my perspective, the situation was the following: as the Director of the Safeguards Division in Brazil at the time, I never had met any of my counterparts in Argentina. Occasionally, there would be encounters at international symposia, but these encounters never went beyond formalities. I was not well informed about nuclear developments in Argentina, and they wer