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f_0017098_14622 - 124 Brian Kaper 7 Understanding the soUth...

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Brian Kaper 7 Brian Kaper is a Master of Arts candidate in International Relations at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University. U NDERSTANDING THE S OUTH A FRICAN N UCLEAR E XPERIENCE AND ITS A PPLICABILITY TO I RAN Brian Kaper The nuclear non-proliferation regime is not as strong as it once was. The international community has had trouble reaching consensus on extending the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). North Korea has succeeded in building a nuclear weapon despite being party to the NPT, and now Iran appears to be on the verge of becoming the second NPT violator of the new mil- lennium. But there is hope for nuclear rollback. The suspected Iranian program is reminiscent of South Africa’s previous nuclear weapons program; a program which was disbanded nearly twenty years ago. By looking at the South African experience, the international community could formulate a comprehensive approach to ensure the Middle East does not become the next nuclear hotbed. I NTRODUCTION It is no secret that the global nuclear non-proliferation regime faces a precarious future. While the indefinite extension of the Nuclear Non- proliferation Treaty in 1995 ensured some level of continued cooperation within the establishment, the nature of the extension can also be viewed as a fracturing consensus on the direction of the non-proliferation regime. Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program exemplifies the problematic nature of the non-proliferation regime and its questioned ability to prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons materiel and expertise. As such, it is
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125 Understanding the South African Nuclear Experience and its Applicability to Iran important to not only continue international efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and technical expertise, but the international community must also recognize how to rollback programs that might progress despite international condemnation. South Africa’s nuclear weapons program of- fers the best example of how such a feat can be accomplished. The case of the South African bomb is likely to resemble that of future proliferators; a pariah regime developing nuclear weapons despite international objection and considerable cooperation among the global powers to prevent acquisi- tion. Understanding the reasoning for the bomb’s creation and eventual dismantling within South Africa will shed light on how to approach Iran and its nascent nuclear program. The future of the non-proliferation regime rests with the outcome of Iran’s nuclear program. This is because Iran’s nuclear activities fall within its Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligations and any resulting weap- ons program will speak directly to the non-proliferation regime’s ability to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. There is hope that a favorable outcome for the regime can be reached. South Africa’s now defunct nuclear weapons program offers an important precedent for nuclear rollback.
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