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JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE ON TREATIES
Nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament
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JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE ON TREATIES
CHAIR (Mr Kelvin Thomson)
Nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament
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JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE ON TREATIES
(Joint-Thursday, 26 March 2009)
CHAIR (Mr Kelvin Thomson)
GRAHAM, Senator Bob
CAMERON, Dr Ron
McINTOSH, Mr Steven
BURNS, Mr Peter
ANGWIN, Mr Michael
UNGERER, Professor Carl
MEDCALF, Mr Rory
HANSON, Dr Marianne Jean
BEHM, Mr Allan John
BROINOWSKI, Professor Richard Philip
SAUL, Dr Ben
- Senator LUDLAM
Content WindowJOINT STANDING COMMITTEE ON TREATIES - 26/03/2009 - Nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament
CHAIR (Mr Kelvin Thomson) —I welcome Senator Bob Graham, former governor and United States senator from Florida and currently Chair of the congressional Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism. Thank you for agreeing to appear before the committee and for giving us some of your valuable time while visiting Australian shores. Although the committee does not require you to give evidence under oath, I advise you, as we do all witnesses who appear at public hearings—and you may be familiar with this process—that this hearing is a legal proceeding of the Australian parliament and warrants the same respect as the proceedings of the House of Representatives or the Senate. Giving of false or misleading evidence is a serious matter and may be regarded as contempt of parliament. Thank you for forwarding a copy of your commission’s report World at Risk. Members of the committee have the executive summary and the full report. I invite you to make an opening statement.
Senator Graham —Thank you very much. I am extremely appreciative of this opportunity to meet with you. You invited me back in December to share some ideas based on the commission that I am chairing. As it turned out, I have the happy opportunity to be in Australia for the next few days and I appreciate the chance to do this face to face rather than through written communication. Our commission was the result of a previous citizens’ commission established by the congress to investigate the events of 9/11. At the conclusion of its report, the committee said that the most dangerous next attack against the United States would occur if the worst weapons fell into the hands of the worst people. Congress responded to that new challenge by establishing our commission with the specific purpose of reviewing our current policies on weapons of mass destruction and making recommendations to the executive and the congress as to reforms.
Our commission was made up of nine people: four Republicans and five Democrats, most of whom had had some experience either in the congress, in the executive branch or in academic areas studying issues of weapons of mass destruction. We had a staff of approximately 30, mainly drawn from the executive agencies with responsibility for weapons of mass destruction. We had an active period of about six months, which resulted in the December publication of this report. The congress has now extended the committee’s term for another year to assist it and the executive agencies in the implementation of the 13 recommendations we made, as well as to conduct public education.
I was talking with you, Chair, before and said that one of the difficulties of this issue, unlike most others that a congressional committee or a commission established by the congress has dealt with, is that something already happened. We had a very famous commission that I referred to that looked into the events of 9/11. We had another commission that looked into events before the Iraq war. They had a frame of reference or a set of facts that people were familiar with. What is daunting about the task that you have is that fortunately there has not been a weapon of mass destruction used in Australia or to a significant degree around the world. So we are dealing with an event that has not yet occurred which is very serious but difficult to get the public—and frequently their representatives—in political office to focus upon. I commend you for taking on this task because we think it is extremely important that the clock is not running to our benefit. We have some time left, but not a great deal.
In our country not only has this been recognised by the 9/11 commission created by the congress but every presidential candidate since 2000, from both parties, has stated that the No. 1 security challenge to the United States is a weapon of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists. That listing includes President Obama. We met with Vice President Biden prior to their administration being sworn into office and they are putting a very high priority on that. Of course, as in most places, other things are secondary to the economic challenges that we now face. But we think that this would be a second or third priority for the new administration.
I will start with the bad news. We made three basic findings. The first was that we have been falling behind, that we are less secure today than we were seven or eight years ago. Many people in my country find that to be a surprising conclusion, because we are all aware of the efforts that have been made, particularly since 9/11, to try to make us more secure. How can it be that in the face of that we have been losing our security? We think the answer is, first, technology, particularly in the area of biological terrorism. I will talk a little bit about that, although I recognise that that maybe outside of your immediate focus.
The technology has been escalating; there are so many more people who know how to weaponise pathogens. There is so much greater capability to adapt pathogens to which we have almost no medical response. That is becoming an increasing danger. In the area of nuclear, more countries are acquiring nuclear weapons; proliferation is accelerating. There is a nuclear arms race in South Asia among Pakistan, India and China. I will talk a little bit about Pakistan as an example. In the last five years, it has tripled its number of nuclear weapons and is on a trajectory to double that again in the next five years. Ten years from now, the largest nuclear states in the world will be Russia and the United States, followed by China, Pakistan and India. We think that is an extremely dangerous development and one that commands the world’s attention.
We are also now in what is being referred to as the nuclear renaissance. For a long time there have been very few civilian nuclear plants built anywhere in the world. Today, there are some 20 or 25 countries that are considering either expanding existing civilian nuclear or starting a civilian nuclear plant. We are concerned that. if that is not accompanied by some appropriate security steps, it will become another vulnerability for the leakage of nuclear materiel into the hands of terrorists.
Finally, in terms of why we are losing ground, al-Qaeda, the principal non-state adversary, has reorganised in the last eight years. By 9/11, al-Qaeda was a very hierarchical organisation. Most of the decisions of any significance were made by Osama bin Laden. In the interval, al-Qaeda has become a franchise operation that has associated itself with local organisations in some 60 countries, where locals tend to provide the people and the operatives who will carry out the plot and al-Qaeda provides the planning, sometimes the materiel and sometimes the financing for the plot. So, our adversary has become more global and more nimble in its ability to carry out an attack. That is bad news No. 1—that we are losing ground in our safety.
Secondly, it is more likely than not—the odds are better than fifty-fifty—that between now and the end of 2013 a weapon of mass destruction will be used somewhere on the globe. The question is asked: How can you make such a statement? We do not say that it is going to happen exactly in five years—it could be four, three, six or seven. But by putting what we thought was a reasonable date of expectation, we wanted to emphasise that this issue has two qualities. First, it is very important; there are few things that could happen that in the world that would be more of—to use an American expression—a ‘game changer’ than a nuclear or a biological weapon that killed thousands of people. Secondly, it is also urgent. We do not have an unlimited amount of time to take the steps that will change that probability. Two weeks after we made our report, the director of our national intelligence in a speech at Harvard University made almost exactly the same prediction as to what he thought the probabilities were of a weapon of mass destruction being used. We think this is not a fanciful risk assessment, but one that deserves our attention.
The third finding was that it is more likely that the weapon of mass destruction will be a biological weapon rather than a nuclear weapon. I mentioned earlier rapid escalation of the science of pathology and the fact that so many more people have the skills to weaponise pathogens. It is also much less technically difficult to do so. It does not require infrastructure of laboratories and equipment, centrifuges and other things that are necessary to enrich uranium. It is also easier to transport and to hide. Many of the pathogens that could be used for weapons can also be used for legitimate medical and other acceptable purposes. We put a particular emphasis on the steps that we need to take to try to reduce this risk of biological attack.
What were some of our recommendations? The first is framed in the title that we gave to the report. This is not a United States, Australian, European or Asian issue; this is a world issue and it will take a world response. There are now 20 some countries from Latin America, North America, across Europe, into Asia and into the Pacific that have the capability of weaponising pathogens for a biological weapon. Each one of those 20 represents some degree of risk to the world. It is ironic that in the United States the closest we have had to a weapon of mass destruction occurred in 2001, when there was a series of letters sent through the postal service and delivered primarily to people in congress and in the media. At the end of that process those letters, each of which contained small amounts of anthrax, had killed five or six people. It cost US$6 billion to clean up the mess that they left and they traumatised the country for months.
The FBI, after some seven years of investigation, concluded that the perpetrator was a single individual—a civilian scientist working for the United States Army at its highest containment laboratory that is supposed to be developing inoculants against biological and chemical weapons. The fact that one person could do so much damage is frightening. The fact that that one person held such a secure position and was under such close supervision is even more frightening. We think that that deserves the world’s attention. I wish I had brought another book that was written by one of our commission members, Dr Graham Allison at Harvard, called Nuclear Terrorism. He calls it the ultimate preventable catastrophe. There are steps we can take, many of which are reflected in this report, that we think will substantially reduce the prospect of a nuclear attack. I personally do not accept the word ‘preventable.’ I do not think you can give zero risk to this, but I think we can reduce it substantially below the fifty-fifty risk we think we are now facing.
At the international level, most of our treaties that attempt to avoid proliferation of both biological and nuclear are products of the 1970s. They have become increasingly inadequate to meet the scale and sophistication of the challenge we are facing today. We spent time at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna and we came away with the sense that it was a very competent agency given the resources and authorities it had. I wish we had listened more carefully to its evaluations of what the circumstances were in Iraq before the invasion started. Secondly, its authorities are inadequate to the current challenge. The initial focus of IAEA inspection was safety—how to make nuclear facilities safe to avoid another Chernobyl. Today there is a second issue of risk security: how do you avoid a nuclear facility becoming the garden plot for some very bad weeds? We think the authorities of the IAEA need to be evaluated in that and other areas.
Thirdly, the IAEA is underfunded and the form of funding is also very unstable. The IAEA is doing fewer inspections per nuclear facility around the world today than it was 20 years ago, primarily because it has fewer resources per facility. As this nuclear renaissance takes hold and more and more new facilities are built, that strain will be even greater. The international community has responded to this by periodically soliciting short-term additional assessments from its members to take on specific projects.
The problem with that is that you cannot build long-term institutional support dependent upon year-by-year decisions as to whether people want to voluntarily make additional resources available. We think that another issue with the International Atomic Energy Agency is to stabilise its financial resources and make them more adequate to the task. I know this is going to be difficult. It is going to be difficult in the United States and I am sure it is going to be difficult in Australia, especially in these economic times, to be talking about increasing the budget for an international agency that for most people is a very distant, somewhat mysterious place. As you get deeper into this issue, I urge you to consider this question of authority and resources for the IAEA.
On the biological side, shortly after the non-proliferation treaty was entered into, there was another treaty called the biological weapons treaty. If anything, it is more anaemic and out of date than the International Atomic Energy Agency and the non-proliferation treaty that it monitors. Again I recognise that that may be outside your jurisdiction. I suggest that you might consider if there is another entity or possible addition to your agenda. As you are the committee with responsibility for treaties, this would be another area that would warrant your attention. Mr Chairman, you said I should talk for more than five minutes and less than 30 minutes. I think I am now in the slot between those two. If it is satisfactory, I will stand at rest available for your questions.
CHAIR —Thank you for outing me in that regard. You mentioned Pakistan in your remarks and said that developments there were extremely dangerous. Your report says that something like 74 per cent of terrorism experts say that Pakistan is the key risk regarding nuclear weapons ending up in the hands of terrorists. You also go on to say that an existential fear of India is the main preoccupation of the Pakistani military and that Pakistan’s deeply adversarial relationship with India consumes strategic thinking in Pakistan. Can you tell us a bit more about that issue? It got me thinking about the US-India civil nuclear agreement, which was described on the same page as leading to Chinese involvement in Pakistan. We need to be able to see around corners.
Senator Graham —I would like to talk about both of those issues. I will start with Pakistan, which is a very serious and complex issue. We describe Pakistan as being the intersection of everything that you would look to to facilitate a terrorist gaining access to a weapon of mass destruction. I mentioned that it has tripled its nuclear capabilities in the last five years. There is a great deal of concern about the level of security on those nuclear weapons. is a country that has a very unstable government and an unstable relationship between the civilian and the military aspects of its government. The north-west corner of the country is effectively out of the control of the government. Pakistan is the wild west of the world today. Pakistan also is a country that has had this 60-year enmity with India that has resulted in a very hair-trigger relationship.
I visited with the general staff of the military of Pakistan in 2001. I asked them, if there were some suspicious activity occurring in India—or, from the Indian perspective, in Pakistan—how they would communicate with each other to avoid an overreaction. The answer was, ‘We don’t talk to each other.’ They did not have anything like the sort of arrangements that existed in the Cold War with the Soviet Union, where for 40 years the concern about an unintended or an accidental launch led to the development of a series of protocols that proved effective in avoiding any such overreaction. One of the recommendations we make in the report is that Russia and the United States could make a contribution to the world by sharing their experience with India and Pakistan in hopes that they would adopt that or whatever would be the appropriate relationship for those two states so as to reduce the level of threat.
Then the final thing about Pakistan is that they have had a history of proliferation. For them this is not a question; this is a chapter of their national experience. The people who participated in that are still alive and with some question as to whether they may still be active in providing information and materials to rogue states and terrorists interested acquiring them. You may recall just a few weeks ago, AQ Khan, who had been under house arrest for many years—although a fairly relaxed house arrest—was now relieved of that. What does that signal about the commitment of the Pakistani government to avoiding a repetition of that support of proliferation? We go on to say that we do not believe the solution to Pakistan—and, frankly, I do not think the solution to Afghanistan either—is primarily a military solution. It has to be a combination of political, economic and diplomatic solutions reaching out to help solidify those institutions that are critical to a democracy in those two countries, such as education. We think this will be another major example of the international challenge.
I will move on to the India pact. I had left the Senate before this occurred, so I will disclaim responsibility. I think it was a very serious mistake by the United States. Unfortunately, it was a mistake in a pattern of mistakes. In our country, major international political issues tend to be represented by the Secretary of State, a very important position held by a high visibility person; today it is former Senator Hilary Clinton. The economic issues are generally in the portfolio of the Secretary of the Treasury or Secretary of Commerce, also typically a high visibility, important personage. The person who represents nonproliferation tends to be a second- or third-tier career individual within one of the executive agencies.
In a stand-off on an issue such as whether we should change our relationship with India on its access to our nuclear materials, you have two powerful people saying it is important to do this for our national strategic interests and for our economic interests and you have this less visible person arguing about proliferation. Not surprisingly, in a dozen or more instances over the past 20 years, proliferation has lost in that stand-off. I think this is the most recent and maybe most significant of those defeats. One of our recommendations was that the President should appoint someone of gravitas to a position to represent the proliferation concerns. Thus far that has not happened. But I am hopeful and encouraged that President Obama will make such an appointment.
The reason for my opposition to the Indian nuclear issue is what I am afraid has now happened. That is, it has become the excuse for other countries to begin to bend their policies on provision of nuclear material. Since the pact went through China has agreed to build two additional reactors in Pakistan and Russia has somewhat moderated its position vis-a-vis Iran’s nuclear aspirations. I hope that we have not unleashed too much havoc on the world. I hope that we will be wise enough not to repeat that mistake. Obviously, the comments I have just made are personal. They do not represent commission or, certainly, position of the government.
CHAIR —I would like to ask about Iran. In your report you talk about the United States being concerned that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon program through clandestine activities and also that the time line for Iran’s acquisition of sufficient highly enriched uranium to build a nuclear bomb is ominously short, ranging from only six months to two years. Can you tell us a bit more about that issue and where you think it should be going?
Senator Graham —We think that both Iran and North Korea are very serious in their potential to be major sources of destabilisation. If Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons, I think it is almost inevitable that Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia would begin to pursue nuclear weapons, destabilising an already very shaky Middle East. In the case of North Korea, it had enough plutonium for two weapons in 2000 and now it is estimated that it has enough for 10 weapons. That is having an effect in places like South Korea and Japan, which are beginning to wonder if they need to start developing a counterweight to North Korea. Our feeling is that for the world community it is unacceptable that that occur and that the goal with North Korea should be to eliminate its current capabilities and roll back its resources to develop further weaponised nuclear resources, and in the case of Iran that it desist from the final step to developing a nuclear weapon. We noted the Obama administration is likely to negotiate directly with both of those regimes to accomplish those objectives. That is another change of policy from the Bush to the Obama administration in our country. We should be prepared to offer big carrots and big sticks to accomplish that, but we should not take the military option off the table as negotiation for a non-military resolution goes forward.
Mr BRIGGS —Thank you for being here, Senator. It is a fantastic opportunity for us to hear what you have to say. I want to touch on two issues briefly. One follows on from the question by the chair about North Korea. Given the seriousness of the situation with North Korea, what do you think China should be doing to curtail this? Do you think it should be taking a more active role with North Korea as a major player in the world?
Senator Graham —Yes, but I would not be too naive. China’s principal goal with North Korea is to avoid a wave of refugees coming out of North Korea into northern China. Again, this is my personal observation. My sense is that they are more interested in that than they are in North Korea expanding its nuclear arsenal. I think the rest of the world cannot just outsource negotiations with North Korea to China alone. The rest of us have to be involved because we have a different set of interests with North Korea.
Mr BRIGGS —I understand that you are speaking for yourself and not for the government. Do you think that China is doing enough to help with this problem?
Senator Graham —No. Right now it is complicated by another fact: The economic reality that we are very dependent on the Chinese essentially to be our bankers as we go deeper and deeper into debt. There was an article in one of the Sydney newspapers about the Chinese position on that. Our leverage on China has been moderated by our economic circumstances. My feeling is that we need to have as one of our priority economic objectives to begin to reduce our dependence on China so that we have a greater degree of sovereignty in our negotiations on a range of other issues. This will be a rough patch between the United States and China.
Mr BRIGGS —I am interested in your comments on Syria and where they are at with development of nuclear weapons technology. How seriously do you see the threat of Syria?
Senator Graham —As you know, a few years ago an Israeli air strike took out a facility in Syria, which was a surprise to the IAEA. The IAEA depends upon its members to be its eyes and ears around the world about where there might be a problem. Apparently those who were aware of this had not reported it to the IAEA, so they were as surprised as most people about the existence of this capability. I think that raises another issue for the IAEA—should it have its own independent capability of assessing developing potential problems? I think the answer is probably yes. As to Syria, I do not think it has the will or means to independently develop a nuclear capacity. It seems to be doing this mainly on behalf of, probably, the Iranians, although that was not totally clear. I think Syria is a country to keep on the radar scope but about which we do not need to be excessively exercised.
Ms PARKE —Thank you for being here today, Senator. It is a wonderful opportunity for us to hear your views. You may be aware that the Australian government together with the Japanese government has established the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament. There was a predecessor, the Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, some years ago. That commission found that the possession of nuclear weapons by any state is a constant stimulus to other states to acquire them and a central reality is that nuclear weapons diminish the security of all states. I am very interested to hear your views on the proposition that while there would necessarily be many incremental steps on the way, the ultimate aim should be the abolition of all nuclear weapons. To that end, perhaps we should be working towards a nuclear weapons convention. What is your view on that?
Senator Graham —I concur with that. While our commission was not of one mind on that, we were anxious to get a report that was unanimous. We alluded to that issue, but it is not one of our recommendations. It is becoming an increasingly accepted option for our nuclear future. Some very respected Americans, such as Henry Kissinger, Republicans and people like Senator Sam Nunn, a Democrat, have advocated that our goal ought to be zero nuclear. I think there is a good chance during the Obama administration that we will substantially reduce our current stockpile and do so in conjunction with the Russians. Our commission visited Moscow last September and they were very interested in this issue of reducing stockpiles. Having a big stockpile of nuclear weapons is expensive and dangerous. Today there are not the real military applications of nuclear weapons that we thought there were during the Cold War. I think a world policy that has that as its objective and has a strategy of how to get to that objective in steps would have considerable and growing support around the world and in the United States. If Australia were to lead the way in that, cheers.
Ms PARKE —Great. In your opinion what are the main barriers to US ratification of the comprehensive test ban treaty? Do you think that the recent change in administration in the United States will be of advantage in changing that?
Senator Graham —That was a subject that we purposely did not make a recommendation on because there is another commission that is looking at US strategic defence policies and which has that as one of its priorities. We did not feel that we should step on its charter. I think the new administration will be more receptive to that. The principal issues are assuring the verification of compliance and the means of assuring that your own nuclear warehouse has safe and also, if necessary, functional weapons. Right now we are doing that by various computer and other non-actual testing bases. But there will be an element in the United States that will say that until we can be absolutely certain that we can verify the efficacy and safety of our nuclear weapons without testing, we should not give up the right to test. I think that is a diminishing voice in America.
Ms PARKE —What is your view about the achievability of a nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East?
Senator Graham —If it happens, and I hope it will, it will be part of the grand bargain. At some point there is going to be a bargain among the Israelis, the Syrians, the Palestinians, the Saudis and the Egyptians and affected states that will include a variety of the most difficult issues. This will be one of them. If we can keep Iran from becoming nuclear weaponised, I think it will make it much more likely that that issue will be positively addressed in that grand bargain.
Senator LUDLAM —Thank you very much for your time this morning. One of your recommendations or proposed actions that the United States should discourage to the extent possible is the use of financial incentives in the promotion of civil nuclear power. You are concerned about the spread of civil reactor technology to other nations. Can you expand a little on why you think that?
Senator Graham —The concern is that as more countries gain access, and particularly countries that do not have regulatory structures and experience in dealing with nuclear, that increases the potential of proliferation. Again, I am now speaking personally. I come from a state that has had a very significant nuclear experience. We have had approximately 20 per cent of our electricity nuclear generated for a long time. It is beginning to diminish now as we have not built a new plant in Florida, or any place else, in the past 25 or 30 years. I come at this issue from a positive perspective. But I also recognise this potential. Our basis was that we did not want to induce countries into nuclear by giving them highly subsidised reactors or materials and then they are not able to manage them effectively. We think the marketplace is one of the guardians of the ability of the plant, once built, to be operating safely and securely.
Senator LUDLAM —Is there not tension or perhaps a contradiction in the articles of the NPT that on the one hand we are trying to lock down these materials and on the other hand promoting nuclear technology world wide, in some cases quite aggressively?
Senator Graham —I think there is a conflict of interest in having the same agency responsible for regulation as is responsible for promotion. This would be another issue that you might put on the agenda when we meet together in 2010 on changes in the NPT. I personally think it ought to be restricted to being a regulatory agency and some other entity would emerge, maybe even a non-governmental entity, to do the promotion.
Ms HALL —Once again, I join with everybody else on the committee in thanking you for your time today. The committee heard from Gareth Evans recently in Canberra. He had just returned from high level discussions on this issue in the United States. He met with most of the major players. But Defence was not involved in those talks, nor was the energy department. He did have a rider that it was only early days in the Obama administration. What is the real mood in the United States towards change in the area of nuclear nonproliferation and the fact that those parties were not at those talks? Is that an indication that perhaps there could be a little bit of reticence in some areas to embrace nuclear nonproliferation?
Senator Graham —I cannot answer the specific questions because I do not know the context in which those talks took place or what the purpose was. I do not sense that there has been a weakening. If anything, I think there has been an increasing interest in the United States in an effective program of avoiding proliferation, particularly of nuclear weapons.
Ms HALL —And that would be supported by the defence department and your energy department?
Senator Graham —Yes. In fact, in our structure the energy department has the primary responsibility for nuclear, including development and safekeeping of our nuclear weapons. It has had a succession of very good leaders from both parties committed to enhancing nonproliferation. The last secretary under President Bush, who was a Mr Bodman, worked very closely with the Russians in accelerating the security of its nuclear stockpile.
Ms HALL —My next question refers to the same area. What is the mood among people in the United States in relation to a reduction in the nuclear arms race and nonproliferation? Is there any groundswell of support, or is there support for maintaining the current level of nuclear weapons?
Senator Graham —I will answer your question, but I will preface it with two things. First, the first, second, third, twenty-first and twenty-second issue is the economy.
Ms HALL —Of course.
Senator Graham —That has overwhelmed everything else. Secondly, like Australians, Americans are not of a mind on any subject. You get the widest range of perspectives. I think the centre of gravity on this issue is moving towards a greater appreciation of the problem and a greater willingness to take steps to avoid the problem becoming the reality. I think the challenge is whether we will get there fast enough to avoid the problem becoming real.
Ms HALL —Okay. Finally, in your contribution today you talked about the IAEA. You said that it had a focus on safety and there should be a greater emphasis on this and that it was underfunded. Do you think there is a strong argument for mandatory contributions by nations at a higher level?
Senator Graham —There is a basic formula that the members accept when they join the IAEA. I think that formula has to be plussed up and there should be less reliance on these periodic assessments and more on having a strong adequate base budget that people can do some long-range planning with. For example, we are going to need to bring a lot more scientists and others who are trained to do this kind of work into the IAEA. It is harder to recruit the quality people we are going to need if we say, ‘Incidentally, the budget upon which your salary is predicated is only good for two years.’ You need give people some sense of a long-term commitment. So I think it needs more resources and more stability.
Ms HALL —What percentage increase?
Senator Graham —I am not going to try to give you a percentage.
Senator BIRMINGHAM —Senator Graham, again, thank you for your time today. I trust you are enjoying your stay in Australia.
Senator Graham —I am having a very fine time. We went on a harbour cruise yesterday and went to the opera last night.
Senator BIRMINGHAM —That is good to hear. Your report covers a lot of things and we all look forward to reading it. I note a recommendation that the United States should—this is a lovely phrase—orchestrate consensus that there will be no new states, including Iran and North Korea, possessing uranium enrichment or plutonium reprocessing capability. Of course, within that you have excluded reference to India and Pakistan. I assume that is, in a sense, accepting a reality that the ship has already sailed on those states. Notwithstanding your concerns about the United States agreement, and given that the NPT worked quite well for the first 20 or 30 years in stopping proliferation and expansion into new states, but obviously has failed in the past 10 to 20 years, how in a practical sense do you think we can help to deliver India and Pakistan, particularly—Israel is another issue but I will stick with the easier ones, if I can dare to call them that—and bring them into some type of constructive framework? Is it possible under the current NPT arrangements, or does it require the type of new nuclear weapons convention that Melissa Parke was asking about previously?
Senator Graham —I think it is probably going to be accomplished through international negotiations with China, India and Pakistan all at the table, because each explains the reason for their acceleration of nuclear weapons in the context of someone else. India says that both China and Pakistan are adversaries and it must be capable of standing them off. Pakistan says India is its problem. And China says India as well as other places around the world are its reason for increasing its nuclear stockpile. At that gathering with those three at the table and representatives of international organisations and individual nations, I think there has to be an overall settlement that includes steps that will assure those countries access to the material they need to maintain what is going to be a very large civilian nuclear capability given their size and economic growth, but without the threat that there will be a major addition to the world’s warehouse of highly enriched uranium. That includes things like having this international nuclear bank that they can draw on.
Senator BIRMINGHAM —You jumped very well into what was going to be my second question about the fuel bank and how that might operate. You obviously see that as integral to an India-Pakistan type solution and saying we can guarantee supply for civilian purposes as long as that is well isolated from any military capability you have. Is that the solution also in a sense to the 20 or 30 or however many other countries may wish to expand into civilian nuclear energy? How do you think such an international fuel bank can best be governed and established?
Senator Graham —Our experience was that, with the exception of those countries that are already weaponising or clearly have an interest in weaponising, the rest of the world is very receptive to the idea of these fuel banks. It is expensive and dangerous to highly enrich uranium. Unless you have a military purpose, it is a very difficult means of meeting your civilian nuclear needs. There is a great customer base out there for a fuel bank. I personally think it should be under the auspices of the IAEA. That is yet another item to add to that 2010 agenda for non-proliferation reform. There would be clusters of countries having responsibility for specific banks. There might be a group of countries in the Asia-Pacific area which, collectively working through the IAEA, would have the actual technical responsibility for maintaining the fuel bank for the countries in that region. There would be similar banks in Africa and Latin America.
Senator WORTLEY —Thank you, Senator, for coming along today and sharing your views with us. Your report states that we need to work internationally to strengthen the capability, systems and powers of the IAEA. Both on this committee and other committees that I been involved in, concerns have been raised about the effectiveness of the IAEA. Can you share with us your views about that? I think you said funding and authority were the two major issues that needed to be addressed. If that does not occur, how effective would the role of the IAEA be into the future?
Senator Graham —The IAEA has been mentioned for the first 20-plus years of its existence as the basic administrator of the nonproliferation agreement and it was very successful. There were almost no instances of leakage of material or expansion of the range of countries that had nuclear weapons. In the last 20 years, that has started to fray. Analysing why that fraying has occurred and then what prescriptions should be used to heal it should be a priority of the 2010 meeting. As a general proposition, it is easier to take an existing institution and strengthen it than to try to build one de novo. I would say build on the institutional strength of the IAEA in the areas that we have discussed, including things like expanded authority over risk as well as safety and expanded authority in areas such as a fuel bank issue, and grant it the resources necessary for the IAEA to be credible and capable of accomplishing those objectives.
CHAIR —Thank you very much for coming along this morning and for sharing with us what are very valuable insights.
Senator Graham —Thank you very much for the opportunity to be here. Australia has demonstrated its commitment to the safe use of nuclear material and the avoidance of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, specifically nuclear weapons. I think you have a great role to play in making the world a safer place.
CHAIR —Thank you very much.
Proceedings suspended from 10.40 am to 10.59 am