INTERNATIONAL REGULATORY MECHANISMS AND THE CHALLENGE OF NUCLEAR TERRORISM, 1998-2012
Many strategic experts aver that in the 21st century, the most threatening phenomenon to civilization is nuclear terrorism. The study examined this challenge against the background of a global nuclear renaissance, with corresponding dangers to the security, stability, and peace of the globe. We had subjected to scrutiny two pivotal international regulatory mechanisms – the IAEA, and the NPT – put in place to check the spread of nuclear weapons and by extension nuclear terrorism. We had posed three research questions as follows: (1) Do the statutory provisions of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) undermine its enforcement capacity against nuclear terrorism? (2) Are there impediments to the
enforcement capacity of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to act as an effective international regulatory mechanism against the unapproved spread of nuclear technology? and (3) Do the statutory limitations of both the IAEA and the NPT regulatory mechanisms constitute a threat to global security? We adopted two theories – the theory of power politics, and the theory of discontent and frustration – to aid the analysis of generated data. Being a qualitative and non-experimental research, we adopted the observation method of evaluating extant literature, and the explanatory single case ex-post facto design, which expressed itself in a Logical Data Framework. We found, that indeed, (1) the statutory provisions of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) undermined its enforcement capacity against nuclear terrorism; (2) there were impediments to the enforcement capacity of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to act as an effective international regulatory mechanism against the unapproved spread of nuclear technology, and, (3) that the statutory limitations of both the IAEA and the NPT regulatory mechanisms constitute a treat to global security. The findings would have immense strategic implications, especially in this era of globalization. We, consequently, made recommendations, with emphasis on the restructuring of the UN, especially in relation to the greater empowerment of the IAEA and NPT to enable both to become more effective as international regulatory mechanisms in the
fight against nuclear terrorism.
1.1 Background to the Study
The emergence of the nuclear age on a military note in 1945 revolutionized warfare and life in general, and established the issue of atomic control as a lingering global strategic concern. Since then, however, nuclear proliferation has advanced from vertical nuclear proliferation, through horizontal nuclear proliferation to the contemporary global nuclear renaissance which has largely and perilously popularized and deregulated nuclear technology. This paradigmatic shift in energy choice has created a thriving global
plutonium economy and nuclear black market, and also enlarged the contemporary nuclear proliferation list of concern to include the terrorist. In the contemporary age of terrorism, strategic attention has logically been drawn more to the challenge of nuclear terrorism as a critical issue with many strategic experts asserting conclusively that only a firm atomic control capable of denying terrorists nuclear capability suffices to contain the challenge of nuclear terrorism. Nuclear terrorism, the threat or actual application of nuclear technology in the conduct of terrorism, has entered the strategic lexicon and according to strategic experts constitute the greatest threat to global security especially in the 21st century (Barnaby, 2007: Allison, 2004; Ferguson and Potter, 2004). Thus, tackling the challenge of
nuclear terrorism through a firm atomic control was the theme of both the April 2010 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington DC, USA, and the subsequent March 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea. For global atomic control, however, the world to a very large extent still rely on the effectiveness of two international regulatory mechanisms under the auspices of the United Nationals (UN), videlicet, the 1957 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
The foregoing international nuclear regulatory mechanisms are today challenged by the contemporary global nuclear renaissance and the tilt toward sophistication discernible in contemporary global terrorism aptly termed postmodern terrorism which is characteristically noted for mass destruction. Furthermore, recurrent and persistent global energy crisis has created an understandable resurgence in the frantic quest for dual-use nuclear energy fundamentally as a panacea to the daunting externalities and uncertainties discernible in other energy sources. Of utmost strategic concern, however, is that evidently
many of those actors pursuing nuclear technology are doing so with a clandestine view to manufacturing nuclear weapons, and not necessarily for civilian applications as permitted by the charters of two international regulatory mechanisms: the IAEA and the NPT. Most of these actors are from the Global South with a plethora of failing and failed states. This trend termed nuclear renaissance has in exchange with a zero-carbon nuclear energy created a more strategically worrisome and thriving global plutonium economy at a very strategically challenging time when international terrorism is snowballing in sophistication, cadred by creative and dedicated micro actors and mercantilist “holy warriors” of nihilistic
and apocalyptic bent.
Contemporary terrorists enjoy three challenging factors: cadred by hard-to-detect micro actors leveraging advanced technology and the tools of globalization, rare sophistication, and an overlapping with transnational crime (Nemtsova, 2010; Country Reports on Terrorism, 2005/2006). There exists a symbiotic relationship between terrorism and transnational crime (Baker, 2009). Southwell (2002) observes that transnational crime constitutes a threat to global security, safety and stability through; the trafficking of arms and weapons of mass destruction… He concludes that “One further catastrophic side effect of international criminal activities has been the expansion of terrorist activities” (Southwell,
2002:4). Thus, nuclear renaissance, if unchecked, is bound to be leveraged by contemporary terrorists. Sopko (1996-97:3), observes that “Previously distinct issues–proliferation, terrorism, arms control and organized crime – are merging…”
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