Argentina and Brazil: The Latin American Nuclear Rapprochement: Conclusion to the Seminar

Dr. Ariel Levite

To close this seminar, I would ask that Gideon Frank now to come to the podium. Gideon, whom we all know, is the Director General of the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission.

Mr. Gideon Frank
Director General, Israeli Atomic Energy Commission

I would like to thank the speakers for a very interesting day.

First my thanks and appreciation to David Albright, and from the Israeli side Eli Levite, for their initiative and help, and many warm thanks to Ambassador Julio C. Carasales, to Dr. Marco A. Marzo, Professor John Redick, and Mr. Kevin O’Neill. Thank you very much for a very interesting seminar.

We are all very happy that this seminar takes place in the Soreq Nuclear Research Center, under the auspices of Shalheveth Freier Center for Peace, Science and Technology.

I personally feel that it is very appropriate, because Shalheveth, as you already heard, was the Director of this Center twice. In 1970 he was nominated for the first time to manage Soreq and from here he was called to serve as Director General of the Atomic Energy Commission. After many years he was called in again to head this Center while it was experiencing some management problems. He did it as always—very well and with some interesting results.

Shalheveth was always fascinated by the interface between science and technology on one hand, and statesmanship on the other. As you well know he had many contributions to that interface: his involvement with PUGWASH, his international achievements as an informal ambassador of the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission and his success in organizing the famous International Conference on Science and Government that was held in Israel in 1989, at the Weizman Institute. I think that it has been proper to hold this seminar here because the interface between science and technology on one hand, and statesmanship on the other is certainly the basic theme of this seminar.

If you will allow me I would like to mention some of my observations following the presentations during this morning and afternoon. First of all, we can observe very clearly the prerequisites for a nuclear “rapprochement” or agreement:

  • long standing peace and full diplomatic relations between Argentina and Brazil. A Utopia from our point of view: the last war was fought 170 years ago;
  • existence of well-established organizations for cooperation between the two states, in addition to regional organizations, with active cooperation especially in the economic field; and
  • a long and gradual process of confidence building.

I was very impressed, Mr. Ambassador, with your emphasis this morning on the fact that, even under such conditions when you do not have real military conflict for almost two hundred years, the process is very slow and gradual.

I think you have persuaded us that confidence building is really the name of the game. Listening to the presentations, especially this morning, I must say that the most significant aspect of the whole process, in my eyes, was that the real change of pace has taken place only after democratization processes have been fully established on both sides of the border. All the above prerequisites are thought-provoking, but I think that confidence building is probably the most significant, and—when you come back to think of it—the most obvious one, although I guess it may shock some parties. It is obvious that you cannot base your confidence in an agreement on verification only.

The well known motto: “No verification can guarantee compliance” is probably derived from an additional need to be sure of the long term intentions of the other side. In most cases, only a stable democratic regime, with its special attributes of freedom of speech and wide range of intrinsic checks and balances, can provide some degree of confidence about the long term prospects of an agreement.

We—as neighbors—are painfully aware of what is going on in Iraq. When we try to analyze what has happened in Iraq we reach a clear conclusion. And the conclusion is this: there never was and never will be, I think, a more strict or stringent verification regime than the one that is imposed on Iraq following the Gulf War. But even this regime is not effective enough. It is the most intrusive regime except for full military occupation. The inspectors can go everywhere, destroy relevant equipment, interview anybody and go inside any place any time. I am not saying that they are doing it, I am talking about the possibilities under that verification regime.

I think that in most democratic countries the police and the internal revenue service together do not have the same legal powers as the verification regime in Iraq. And even under these conditions, if one really tries to analyze what has happened following U.N. Security Council Resolution 687, it is apparent that the results are, at best, a mixed bag. After the first seizure of the “smoking gun” documents, most of the significant new information was provided either by the Iraqis or by Iraqi defectors, and not by the verification regime.

Despite the Herculean efforts of UNSCOM and the IAEA, the Iraqis are still showing us mostly what they want to show, and even with that we have recurrent revelations. The significance, I think, is very clear. Here there is a demonstration that even the strictest verification regime can not produce confidence of the kind necessary for security between neighbors. Only when the political intention exists and is ensured on a long-term basis can a verification regime play a significant part.

I wish to offer a few additional observations.

Treating the nuclear issue is only one component of a total context of relations between countries. It is a very important observation and you described it clearly and skillfully. It is worthwhile noting that the nuclear issue was the last one to be dealt with—only after the water conflict was resolved.

The next remark concerns symmetry. This morning I realized, while hearing your presentations, that bilateral situations, as difficult as they may be, are, at least in theory, basically simple compared to multilateral ones. Maybe that is the reason why even in 1967 both countries were contributing to and signed the Tlatelolco Treaty. It took 25 to ratify its most important clause because of other reasons. But, in theory, this was a simple situation.

There is one demonstration also of bilateral situation even between two coalitions—in Europe. There, even in theory, the solution is not that simple, and we know how many years it took to accomplish it and under what circumstances.

I hate to think about a situation where one will have to deal with an asymmetrical situation, like having three parties, or like—in our case—twenty three parties.

Finally, a remark on mutual inspections. Listening to your talk, I had the impression that you consider the verification of ABACC to be more effective than that of the Agency’s. I must say this is not at all surprising, given the constraints faced by the Agency as an international organization.

We think that there are at least three reasons why mutual inspections should be more effective. First is, of course, the choice of professionals. You can choose the best professionals from the relevant fields. The Agency’s task is more complicated. The Agency has budgetary problems and in selecting its inspectors it must take into account national or geographical distribution. You are free from any extraneous consideration in your choice.

Another factor is the motivation of the inspectors. When a Brazilian inspector goes to Argentina, or an Argentinean inspector goes to Brazil, they shoulder the national responsibility and feel as such. They are personally motivated to look for any wrongdoing. Mutual inspections create intrinsically a general culture under which suspicions are being looked into in a sound technical manner and not only “by the book.” In principle, there is no political embarrassment involved, the inspector’s motivation is clear, without conflicting interest, and consequently, a culture of “don’t rock the boat” does not develop.

The last factor has to do with the information-base supporting the inspectors in the field. Under mutual verification the inspector goes to the field with the full institutional power of his country to back him. Simply said, if his country’s intelligence service suspects anything, he has the information available to his country at his disposal to help him define what is wrong and where to go.

In summary—the mutual verification regime is generally more effective, because it fosters inspectors who are not only competent professionals, but also highly motivated and better informed.

Finally, in conclusion, I would like to thank again the speakers, the participants, and especially the organizers, the management of Soreq Nuclear Research Center, and Dr. Yariv, who is responsible for Shalheveth’s Center.

Thank you very much.