Michael Spies

Hans Blix was the primary witness at a September 26 congressional hearing titled, “Weapons of Mass Destruction: Current Nuclear Proliferation Challenges,” held by the House Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations, chaired by Christopher Shays (R-CT). The hearing also featured two additional panels, one comprised of governmental officials and the other comprised of non-governmental representatives.

Beyond the narrow-minded conception of non-proliferation prevalent in Washington, Blix, focusing on the findings made in the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission’s report, Weapons of Terror, took the opportunity to inform Congress:

A large number–if not all–of the non-nuclear weapon states parties to the NPT consider that the nuclear weapon states parties are seriously failing in compliance with their commitments under the treaty to move to nuclear disarmament.

However, in his prepared testimony Blix declined to highlight the inextricable connection between non-proliferation and disarmament as forcibly as was done by the WMD Commission, which forcefully noted:

So long as any state has nuclear weapons, others will want them. So long as any such weapons remain, there is a risk that they will one day be used, by design or accident. And any such use would be catastrophic.

However, Blix did note that, in the view of the Commission, “nuclear weapons may be particularly dangerous in some hands but constitutes a danger in anybody’s hands.” Thus he reasserted Commission’s pointed rejection of the “suggestion that nuclear weapons in the hands of some pose no threat, while in the hands of others they place the world in mortal jeopardy.”

Two other notable non-governmental panelists, Ambassador Thomas Graham, chairman of the Bipartisan Security Group, and Jonathan Granoff, president of the Global Security Institute, also focused primarily on disarmament issues in their testimonies.

Iran and the Nuclear Fuel Cycle

Blix also highlighted the connection between threats to state security and proliferation, saying specifically in the context of Iran that:

Just as security considerations are important behind some states’ non- adherence [India, Israel, Pakistan] such considerations may also figure among the factors which have led some states’ failure to comply. Iran’s enrichment program appears to go back to the 1980s. If there were intentions to acquire nuclear weapons or getting closer to the option, these might well have been based in suspicions that Saddam Hussein in Iraq was working to develop nuclear weapons and that Iran’s security required a response. The suspicion would have been right.