Nonproliferation Review • 15.1 • March 2008

Volume 15 • Number 1


View this issue’s note from the Editor


View this issue’s contributor bios


Ambassador Thomas Graham Jr. • Ivan Oelrich • Marylia Kelley • Pavel Podvig • Matt Martin • Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen


Paranoid, Potbellied Stalinist Gets Nuclear Weapons: How The U.S. Print Media Cover North Korea
Hugh Gusterson

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Mainstream American print media coverage of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program has been deeply flawed, a reality that skews policy debates and confuses public perceptions. Even simple factual descriptions of the parties’ obligations under the 1994 Agreed Framework have often been inconsistent and partial, informing readers about North Korea’s obligations more than U.S. obligations, and rarely acknowledging U.S. failures. The media repeated allegations about an illicit North Korean uranium enrichment program based largely on anonymous sources, who made what seem now to have been misleading statements. Journalists rely for comment on administration officials or members of Washington think tanks, while making little effort to gather opinions from academics, those on the left (as opposed to centrist liberals), or experts in Southeast Asia. Journalists also frequently present Kim Jong Il in ways that erase the Korean perspective on U.S.-Korean relations. Accurate, nuanced coverage of events on the Korean Peninsula is vital in producing an informed public and a policy-making process that is judicious, supple, and intelligent. This article concludes with various ways in which the media could better report on North Korea.

Identity Politics and Nuclear Disarmament: The Case of Ukraine
Christopher Stevens

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Policy makers and scholars have drawn improper lessons from the Ukrainian case of disarmament. Employing a content analysis of Ukrainian and Russian news sources, as well as a series of interviews with Ukrainian officials conducted by the author, this paper argues that Ukraine did not surrender its nuclear arsenal because it received compensation or faced financial and technical hurdles in securing effective command and control over the weapons. Instead, Ukraine surrendered its nuclear weapons due to a lack of demand for them. The historical interactions between Ukrainians and Russians led the majority of Ukrainian leaders to reject a conception of the Ukrainian national identity that cognitively perceived Russia as a security threat. Only with a proper understanding of this case study can the international community understand how the nonproliferation norm succeeded.

Wake Up, Stop Dreaming: Reassessing Japan’s Processing Program
Masafumi Takubo

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Japan’s reprocessing program is proceeding at full speed, despite concerns about its effects on international efforts to control nuclear proliferation. Testing of the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant using actual spent fuel started on March 31, 2006, and the goal for commercial operation is February 2008. If started, Rokkasho will be the first commercial-scale reprocessing plant in a non-nuclear weapon state, capable of separating 8 metric tons (MT) of plutonium per year. If this occurs, under current plans the total amount of plutonium possessed by Japan will grow from about 45 MT to about 80 MT by 2011, close to the same amount of separated plutonium manufactured for the U.S. nuclear weapons program. This paper discusses the history of efforts to build and operate Rokkasho and whether there is any prospect for a change of direction. It argues that Rokkasho should not open before a dialogue among stakeholders can be held on alternative means of managing spent fuel, such as interim dry cask storage.


Surmounting the Obstacles to Implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1540
Monika Heupel

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UN Security Council Resolution 1540, which binds all states to implement generic nonproliferation obligations, has been hampered in its effectiveness by serious delays and problems in implementing its obligations. Getting nations to carry out its requirements depends on applying a division of labor strategy to the problem. Such a strategy would be based on the Security Council’s 1540 Committee and other participants—such as international and regional organizations, regimes, state actors, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)—all working together to maximize their competences toward applying the resolution. To create and maintain momentum, those involved must improve their efforts to address the various challenges to such implementation. The Security Council should strengthen the structural foundation of the 1540 Committee, and the 1540 Committee should act as a clearinghouse for assistance with implementing the resolution. Those bodies that provide assistance should make more help available to more states and cooperate closely with the 1540 Committee. NGOs and regional organizations should pressure advanced states to fulfill the resolution’s requirements with the necessary urgency, and individual states and international organizations should explore ways to accommodate frequently articulated grievances that dilute the legitimacy of Resolution 1540.


The Iran Threat: President Ahmadinejad and the Coming Nuclear Crisis, by Alireza Jafarzadeh, and Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions, by Shahram Chubin
Reviewed by Barbara Slavin

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Two Iran-born authors present divergent estimates of the threat posed by Iran’s accelerating nuclear program and recommend starkly different solutions.

Failed Diplomacy: How North Korea Got the Bomb, by Charles Pritchard
Reviewed by Kenneth Quinones

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Failed Diplomacy, by Ambassador Charles L. “Jack” Pritchard, begins in the middle of the two-decade effort to end North Korea’s quest for a nuclear arsenal. Unfortunately ignoring the complex story of the Clinton administration’s diplomacy, to which Pritchard contributed at the National Security Council and at the Department of State, he concentrates on the Bush administration’s efforts since 2001, declaring that the six-party talks have failed. Pritchard focuses on his short tenure in the Bush administration as U.S. special envoy for negotiations with North Korea, and on administration infighting over how best to deal with Pyongyang. Denied access to classified documents, Pritchard relies on personal recollection, media reports, and some academic studies, limiting his narrative’s depth. Given that the talks and diplomatic efforts continue, his judgment that the six-party talks have failed, like the book, seems premature. Readers will gain from the book, but should bring to it restrained expectations.

The Arsenals of Folly: The Making of the Arms Race, by Richard Rhodes
Reviewed by Karthika Sasikumar

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Richard Rhodes, renowned historian of the nuclear arsenal, has written a meticulously detailed account of the last days of the Cold War. He reveals the mechanisms of persuasion and influence—cloaked in an aura of hard-headed realism and technological savvy—that orchestrated the arms race, and left thousands of nuclear warheads in the stockpiles of the nuclear weapon states. Rhodes describes the evolution of nuclear doctrine in the United States and the Soviet Union up to the early 1980s. However, the subtitle of the book is somewhat misleading because two-thirds of the book is devoted to the unmaking of the race. Cold War history still holds many lessons for us, and this book provides a refreshing change from the triumphalist narrative in which the United States won the Cold War by gritting its teeth and outspending the Soviet Union in military technology. Instead, Rhodes argues that the arms race was unnecessarily prolonged by U.S. presidents who were captive to (neo)-conservative ideologues.


Statements of fact and opinion expressed in The Nonproliferation Review are the responsibility of the authors alone and do not imply the endorsement of the editors, the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, or the Monterey Institute of International Studies.
The Nonproliferation Review ISSN 1073-6700
Copyright © 2008 by Monterey Institute of International Studies