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College of Law professor invited to congressional hearing

August 12, 2008

Professor Orde Kittrie of ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law testified July 24 at a hearing of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs.

The hearing was titled “Saving the NPT and the Nonproliferation Regime in an Era of Nuclear Renaissance.” In his testimony, Kittrie described the nuclear nonproliferation regime as “at a tipping point, with its viability in the balance.”

The primary reasons for the regime’s decline, Kittrie says, include a recent lack of political will to sanction proliferators, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verification and monitoring authorities that are too weak to promptly and reliably catch proliferators, the increased availability of nuclear weapon and associated technology, and a sense that the nuclear-weapon states – particularly the United States and Russia – have not lived up to their disarmament commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Noting that “international laws violated with impunity soon cease to exist,” Kittrie, a leading expert on nuclear nonproliferation, says “the rapid advance of Iran’s nuclear program in clear violation of international law is by far and away the No. 1 threat to the vitality of the nuclear nonproliferation regime.”

He says that “an Iranian nuclear arsenal, should it be achieved, seems likely to unleash a cascade of proliferation across the Middle East,” which would “likely lead to the worldwide collapse of the already tottering nuclear non-proliferation regime.”

Kittrie urged Congress to pass pending legislation that would tighten sanctions against Iran, to “help convince Iran’s leadership that the price for its nuclear program has become too high.”

He also encouraged Congress to help strengthen the IAEA’s verification and monitoring authorities, help secure nuclear weapons materials worldwide, reduce the risks posed by the expansion of civilian nuclear programs, and support progress toward the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.

Other panelists at the hearing were Graham Allison, former assistant secretary of defense and the founding dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and Pierre Goldschmidt, former deputy director general of the IAEA.

Kittrie is the chair of the Nonproliferation, Arms Control & Disarmament Committee of the American Society of International Law. He serves on a National Academies of Science committee created by Congress to issue a report, in time for the next administration, on how to improve U.S. government programs to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.