On 28 October, ISTC Executive Director, Adriaan van der Meer, gave a speech at the Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA) which is included in the list of the Top 10 think tanks in the world in a recent survey carried out by the US Foreign Policy
The International Policy on Non-Proliferation
the International Science and Technology Center
by Adriaan van der Meer
The Japan Institute of International Affairs
Tokyo, 28 October 2008
meeting with representatives of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency
Dear Mr. Chairman,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I feel much honored to have the opportunity today to present my views on the contribution of the International Science and Technology Center to the international policy on non-proliferationin the Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA) which is included in the list of the “Top 10 Think Tanks in the world” in a recent survey carried out by the US Foreign Policy Research Institute.I understand JIIA is the foremost center for developing and disseminating ideas on international relations based on a tradition going back nearly fifty years and contemporary research. JIIA is affiliated with the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. JIIA and ISTC are similar organizations in that they are both implementing agencies dealing with non-proliferation. I consider it a privilege to be here today and to exchange views on matters of high common interest.
The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) is potentially the greatest threat to our security. I would like to acknowledge the important role of Japan in developing the international policy on non-proliferation. The results of the G-8 summit in Hokkaido in July 2008 are clear witness of the strong drive of the Japanese Government on these matters. The G-8 expressed its determination to make every effort to overcome the danger of proliferation of WMD by upholding, strengthening and universalizing all relevant multilateral non-proliferation and disarmament instruments.
Non-proliferation and disarmament in particular when it comes to WMD has always been a subject of high sensitivity and political importance. It continues to be on the top of the international agenda. The challenges we are facing do not only relate to the rapid spread of scientific knowledge but also to the rising number of actors involved and the relationships between them. The amount of information that is accumulating thanks to the rapid advances in science and technology is staggering. There is a need to respond to the rapidity of this development as well as to the complex nature of the advances.
The implications of a nuclear renaissance due to climate change and energy security concerns need to be taken into account. There is also a need for renewed attention to nuclear safeguards, safety and security.
The fundamental technology to construct chemical weapons is widespread and poses new security challenges.
In preparing for this talk I was quite struck by the rapid developments in particular in the area of life sciences, and the relative ease with which biological substances can be applied to undesirable ends. Indeed, the nature of the threat is changing. This can be illustrated by a number of recent examples showing increased activities of non-state actors in the biological sphere. I suppose they are all familiar to you because some of these attacks took place in Tokyo.
I would like to mention some examples.
In 1972 members of the Order of the Rising Sun, who possessed typhoid bacteria cultures with which planned to poison water supply in Chicago and other US cities, the Rajneesh cult’s use in 1984 of food poisoning in ten restaurants in Wasco County, Oregon, in an attempt to influence local elections; and, most notably, the Japanese Aum Shinrikyo sect’s attempts to weaponize anthrax and its successful sarins attacks in 1994 and 1995, most notably against the Tokyo subway system.
Following 9/11, the US postal system was heavily disrupted by the release of anthrax-filled envelopes. Indeed, the United States alone has more than 150,000 clinical laboratories that cannot be monitored effectively without their full and voluntary cooperation in complying with bio-safety and bio-security measures.
In an article in the Financial Times in 2005, Mohammed El Baradey observed that in recent years three phenomena have radically altered the security landscape: the emergence of a nuclear black market, the determined effort by more countries to acquire the technology to produce the fissile material used in nuclear weapons, and the clear desire of terrorists to acquire weapons of mass destruction. This trend necessitates a review and strengthening of the international counter-proliferation regime.
On 15 January 2008 several high profile former US politicians wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the accelerating spread of nuclear weapons, nuclear know-how and nuclear material has brought us to a nuclear tipping point. “We face a very real possibility that the deadliest weapons ever invented could fall into dangerous hands.”
Therefore, the key questions today are:
- How do we best prevent untrustworthy or unreliable people from gaining access to WMD;
- How do we best prevent them using that capability should they nevertheless have acquired it;
- How do we best prepare to mitigate the impact of those weapons if they were to be used;
- How do we persuade such actors not to seek to obtain WMD in the first place?
Progress in answering these questions would be inconceivable without cooperation by the international community.
I tried to review the available literature discussing the effectiveness of the various policy instruments at our disposal. It is true that a wide range of tools is available to prevent, to control, to eliminate or to respond to the proliferation of WMD. There are multilateral treaties and verification mechanisms, national and international coordinated export controls, cooperative threat reduction programs, political and economic levers (including trade and development policies), interdiction of illegal activities, and, as a last resort, coercive measures in accordance with the UN Charter. As the EU has acknowledged in its Non-Proliferation Strategy, while all instruments are necessary, none is sufficient in itself. There is a need to strengthen them across the board and to deploy those that are most effective in each case. Some commentators argue that there is little question that the international security and counter-proliferation measure need innovation and to be adapted to the new developments. The US stated in June 2008 that it “continues to expand its approaches and develop new tools to adapt to today’s changing threats”.
I am aware that we are at the eve of important review conferences to update existing treaties and agreements and of the development of new or revised strategies by major players in the field of non-proliferation. Priorities and funding decisions will be affected by these new strategies. I hope that this will also encourage Japan to increase its contribution.
The International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament, co-chaired by a high level representative from Japan and with the JIIA as an associate research centre, will publish a major report in January 2010 to help shape a global consensus in the lead up to the 2010 NPT review conference.
However, it is important to include in the discussion on these and other related matters the individuals and their institutes that on a day-to-day basis deal with such highly sensitive materials and technologies. It is important to take these underlying factors into account while reviewing various instruments of the overall non-proliferation policy. I hope that the International Commission will also take this aspect into account.
I am of the opinion that in this discussion on evolving new approaches greater attention should be paid to actions preventing proliferation. Prevention is more cost-effective than a cure, as experience in other policy areas has show. In particular, I would like to stress the effectiveness of strengthening a “culture of responsibility” among people and institutions dealing with high risk and sensitive materials. I am convinced that this would be more positive and cost effective than other measures relating to the non-proliferation policy chain. I would like to further explain this point of view.
It is common knowledge that dealing with high-risk materials and technologies, including know-how, has the potential for inappropriate and unauthorized use that could result in great harm. The human factor is a key element of an effective non-proliferation regime. Actions directly targeted at the grassroots level, i.e. individual scientists and engineers are crucial.
Measures to foster a non-proliferation culture are therefore essential. At the level of individual institutes, in most countries standards of oversight, including peer reviews, are in place for individuals working in the fields of science and technology. However, the effects of globalization, such as increased mobility of scientists, raise doubts about the effectiveness of such standards on a worldwide level. At the international level, few programs exist to ensure that institutes cultivate such a “culture of responsibility”. The International Science and Technology Centers in Moscow and Kiev work to instill such a culture. Since becoming operational in the mid-1990s, they have been engaged in redirecting research to civilian purposes. They have promoted greater responsibility and raised awareness of non-proliferation norms among scientists from the former Soviet Union by integrating them into the world scientific community. In today’s world, with easier access to know-how, a drastic rise in the establishment of new research facilities, and a greater emphasis on high-risk research, these aspects of the work of the ISTC and STCU have become even more relevant. I would like to call on the policy- makers in the field of non-proliferation also here in Japan to further recognize these points also when making funding decisions.
THE INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CENTER
ISTC is a non- and counter-proliferation mechanism that deals with the scientific aspects related to non-proliferation. It is a research funding agency that works at the crossroads of international non-proliferation policy and international scientific cooperation. It is an intergovernmental organization in which Japan has played and continues to play an important role since its establishment. Japan is a member of the Governing Board and it holds two key positions in the ISTC, namely that of Deputy Executive Director and Chairman of the Independent Scientific Advisory Committee. This body reviews all project proposals on their merits. Over the years, Japan has made available 61 million USD to ISTC and at present there are63 private partners from Japan including renowned firms such asNissan Motors, Marubeni, Komatsu, and Hitachi.
ISTC was established soon after the dissolution of the Soviet Union when tens of thousands of former weapons scientists found themselves unemployed or underemployed. The situation at that time represented perhaps the biggest proliferation challenge the world has faced. ISTC has countered this challenge and over the years its working methods have evolved to include specific programs aimed at commercialization of research, mobility of scientists, and promotion of institutional capacity.
ISTC contributes to the implementation of the G-8 Global Partnership Program of 2002 against the proliferation of weapons and materials of mass destruction. Progress was reported during the Hokkaido summit of July 2008. The redirection of Scientists is one of the G8 priorities. The G8 in Hokkaido called on the Center to improve the effectiveness in its functioning. Various proposals have been prepared to that extent. I will come back to these points.
The Center assists through its activities in the achievement of the objectives of the UN SCR 1540 on Global Non-Proliferation and Counter-Terrorism, in particular to the implementation of paragraph 8(d) that deals with industrial and academic, scientific, and engineering personnel.
The work of ISTC has helped the implementation of policies in the nuclear and non-nuclear energy fields as well as in the fields of health and environment. As a result of our efforts, I am proud to mention concrete results of our work such as the creation of new job opportunities and new products such as new medicine, new water purification systems and new orthopedic devices as well as to ensure safer aircrafts. It has brought Russian expertise to the Large Hadron Collider of CERN experimenting on the “big bang”. Here in Japan our work has contributed to developments such as the highest strength magnetic field of superconductive magnet for Synchrotron Radiation (SR) facility through collaboration between the Riken Institute and the Budker Institute of Nuclear Physics under ISTC .
ISTC is a matchmaking organization to assist private industry in their technology search i.e. to connect them with the high quality expertise in the various institutes in Russia and beyond. Various privileges exist for example in the field of taxation to contribute to a policy of open innovation.
ISTC has many high level international companies as its partners. This is not a surprise because the Scientific know-how and potential in the Russian and other research institutes is quite high. There are many success stories in a work covering a broad range of areas in the field of nuclear science, the development of new medicine as well as in chemical and biological field. Per project specific arrangements are made as regards intellectual property protection. ISTC is providing training courses in that field to ensure full compliance with international legislation. Our evaluations show that we have complied with the goals of various international and national scientific programs for example in the field of nuclear technology and biotechnology. Our projects contribute to the policy of economic diversification and innovation in Russia and beyond.
Our working methods have evolved during the years and now put greater emphasis on international scientific cooperation, commercialization of research, and building up the capacity of institutes. The Center is becoming increasingly involved in issues related to bio-security and a new-targeted initiative to counter bio-terrorism is under preparation. Work nowadays does not only relate to the human factor but also assists in making laboratories safer and more secure places, to benefit the scientists working there, the surrounding communities, and the wider world, all of which can be threatened if the agents contained within escape or are stolen.
Looking Towards the Future
As I mentioned before, the situation today differs considerably from the situation in the mid-1990s when ISTC was created. This concerns not only the shift in security risks but also the increasingly global nature of the challenges we face. The financial and economic situation in some countries of the former Soviet Union has changed for the better. Initiatives have been taken to better adapt existing tools and methods to the current state of affairs. ISTC has started a discussion taking these new realities into account. It would like to see a true partnership role for Russia and other countries.
Proposals will be discussed at the next Board Meeting in December relating to its working methods and financial arrangements. These proposals relate to:
- the implementation of a programmatic approach so that ISTC is in a better position to contribute to the solution of a number of global problems, such as climate change, renewable energy, and new nuclear technologies;
- obligatory co-financing of programs by the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan; and
- the strengthening of its match-making role between the private sector and scientific and technological institutes. This should also allow for greater involvement by Russian private entities in the work of ISTC.
ISTC also seeks the adoption of a new strategic vision, which would not only emphasize its reinforced role in preventing proliferation, but would also promote the sustainability of various institutes in Russia and elsewhere. The work in the CIS is not finished despite rising incomes and improving economic conditions in Russia and Kazakhstan in particular. Scientific institutes need to be further upgraded in terms of equipment and other related facilities. That is why ISTC is developing policy of added sustainability for a selected number of research institutes. Moreover attention needs to be paid to the downsizing of staff at the various institutes especially of those institutes that carry out sensitive work.
New global challenges present themselves. ISTC is willing to make its accumulated know-how available to other regions in the world. This could be done in close cooperation with our Russian partners especially those that have obtained experience in carrying out re-direction programs. I think that there can be a win-win situation for all. This will allow for new avenues of collaboration and human engagement in non-proliferation matters. Bolder options do present and need further discussion.
Mr Chairman, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to thank the organizers of today’s event for giving me the opportunity to speak on issues that unfortunately almost daily figure in our media.
I would like to close by saying that the international community is facing new challenges to preserve international security. I am convinced that a transformed ISTC can contribute significantly to these security challenges. May I count on the further support of the Japanese authorities in reaching these goals?
Clearly, the efforts undertaken are part of the overarching aim of strengthening the preventive part of a worldwide integrated non-proliferation policy.
I thank you kindly for your attention,