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A Watchful Eye
by Catherine Gianaro

A recently published study by the UGA Center for International Trade and Security offers a chilling assessment of how nations monitor weapons of mass destruction.

More than half the countries evaluated by CITS flat-out failed to limit exports of nuclear and biochemical weapons and materials — standards spelled out in various international accords, such as the 1972 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. According to the report Nonproliferation Export Controls: A Global Evaluation, those 10 countries are: Armenia, Azerbaijan, China, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

“What makes it so challenging in the post-Cold War is that we’re living in an age of globalization, where so much technology is transient. It’s become very difficult to manage,” said Gary Bertsch, who directs the center, which studies how effectively governments and companies control sensitive weapons-related technology transfer and trade.

“The kind of research we are doing helps call attention to what is going on,” he said. “It’s in the national interest to have this information.”

The 1972 nonproliferation treaty states that no additional countries may develop nuclear weapons programs and that the United States, Russia and other nuclear powers agree to reduce their nuclear weapons and eventually engage in nuclear disarmament. In 1995, treaty nations voted to extend the agreement indefinitely.

Additionally, companies and governments are prohibited under domestic laws from selling or transferring dual-use technologies — those that have both civilian and weapons use, such as technology used to support nuclear weapons programs, and missile- and jet engine-guidance systems.

“Our research explains how well these laws, rules and regulations are being implemented in all of the involved countries,” said Bertsch, a co-author of the report. “We focus on the ones that have or can develop weapons of mass de-struction.”

CITS scientists use a variety of research techniques, including extensive meetings with government officials. The research culminates with a 72-item evaluation that assesses a grade for each country. “We don’t do confidential or classified research because we think this information is vital to all persons,” he said.

Since last reported in Research Reporter (Spring 1998), the center’s researchers have brought to light much new information about the lack of control some nations have of their weapons of mass destruction, much of which was published in the following books:

  • Reducing the Risk of Proliferation in the Former Soviet Union (1998) by Bertsch and University of Oklahoma’s Suzette Grillot, with a forward by former Sen. Sam Nunn
  • Weapons for Peace, Weapons for War (1999) by senior research fellow Cassady Craft
  • Dangerous Weapons, Desperate States — Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine (1999) by Bertsch and William C. Potter of the Monterey Institute of International Studies
  • Engaging India — U.S. Strategic Relations With the World’s Largest Democracy (2000) by Bertsch and senior research associates Seema Gahlaut and Anupam Srivastava
  • Reluctant Champions — Truman, Eisenhower, Bush, and Clinton: U.S. Presidential Policy and Strategic Export Controls (2001) by CITS associate director Richard T. Cupitt

“There’s always been a lot of speculation on how well countries — like France, the United States or Russia — are implementing their export controls on defense-related trade,” Bertsch said. “We are the first group that has conducted the scientific research that moves beyond speculation. What we have done is turned this highly contested policy debate into rigorous empirical assessment.”


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