G8 Global Partnership against WMD under threat

In a blow to efforts intended to curb the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) around the world, a G8 initiative against proliferation has run into financial trouble due to the global downturn, according to reports earlier this week. Political impetus for the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction appears to be waning sharply as member states struggle with funding issues.

The Global Partnership, established in 2002, was supposed to aid Russia and other, more vulnerable states in dismantling and securing WMD arsenals. Up to now the programme has had a good track record, having, to date, contributed to the dismantling of a number of Russian nuclear submarines and establishment of disposal facilities for its chemical weapons. Other states have also benefited from Partnership initiatives, and the overall picture was one of a programme that, despite some setbacks in dealing with biological weapons, was running more or less on track.

Cracks began to appear, however, after Russia directed a significant portion of the funding to its own efforts, leaving other projects in other countries underfunded. In total, some $18 billion of funding has been used to date, with Russia and the US contributing the majority. Some partners, notably Italy and France, were accused of ignoring financial commitments, charges they vigorously denied. The global downturn, worries over the euro and the enormous costs of bank bailout packages added to the financial and political strain. Acrimony was rife, with some partners feeling disenfranchised from the process.

The June 2010 G8 summit in Muskoka, Canada, was meant to be the venue for the reaffirmation of the importance of the Partnership: confirmation that progress was being made in multilateral efforts to safeguard dangerous materials. Instead, the breakdown in funding – and consequently, trust – has led to indecision over what happens next, although a planned study of project areas by a panel of experts is expected, and may rekindle momentum before the next G8 meeting. The US made a particular effort to keep the Partnership alive by pledging an additional $10 billion in funding. But anyone reading the Muskoka 2010 Accountability Report will find mention of the Partnership conspicuous only by its absence.

Earlier this month Russia formally delaying the destruction of its chemical weapons reserves due to financial constraints. With its implementation of the terms of the Chemical Weapons Convention stalled and the renewal of the Partnership in jeopardy, its following of the terms of Article 3 of the legally-binding UNSCR 1540, which states that “…all States shall take and enforce effective measures to establish domestic controls to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons and their means of delivery, including by establishing appropriate controls over related materials…” may also be affected.

G8 Muskoka Accountability Report 2010

G8 fails to renew nuclear non-proliferation partnership Earthtimes

G-8 Nonproliferation Program Faces Uncertain Future GSN NTI Newswire