Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy, SOAS University of London dp27@soas.ac.uk

SCRAP Proposal

You can download a PDF version of this proposal here.

The Strategic Concept for Removal of Arms and Proliferation (SCRAP) proposal offers a draft negotiating text of ‘basic elements’ for General and Complete Disarmament (GCD) with a ten-year implementation period. It uses best practices and can be implemented incrementally to supplement existing initiatives. It presents a rapid countdown to global zero nuclear weapons and can build on humanitarian disarmament initiatives to encompass conventional weapons stocks.

The basic elements of the proposal extend from those proposed by a number of states in November 2007 in an attempt to globalise the 1987 US-Soviet Intermediate Forces Treaty (INF) – which scrapped an entire class of missile. It includes globalising European treaties that govern armoured vehicles, artillery, helicopters and war planes, as well as the technical aspects of the United Nations (UN)-mandated inspection process for Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and the US-Russian strategic nuclear agreements (START).

A realistic prospect

Much can be done to advance a Strategic Concept for Removal of Arms and Proliferation – including setting deadlines to conclude negotiations and implement agreements. It took just eighteen months to overcome the ideological and technological issues governing the Cold War armies.

Today, with this precedent as a guide and no ideological barrier comparable to the confrontation with communism, general and complete disarmament could be agreed within two years of the talks starting.

The basis for a global-disarmament concept already exists in current agreements. Adapting procedures that have worked in the past in order to safeguard our future is more effective than trying to develop a new frameworks and procedures.

The ‘best practice’ lies in the UNMOVIC work in Iraq and in the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). UN inspectors should have access to the permanent members of the Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) as well as to the ‘smaller’ nuclear powers (India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea). These procedures will also be effective in restricting terrorist access to nuclear technology; and they can be adapted to work with biological and chemical weapons.

In practice, the START and Intermediate Nuclear Force (INF) agreements of the Reagan-Gorbachev era should be extended to all states, and include missile defence and Star Wars systems. New START includes an important innovation by establishing a total number of missile launchers regardless of whether they are carrying nuclear or conventional weapons. The practice developed in UNMOVIC also provides a template for intrusive and effective WMD verification. The European agreements reducing and regulating tanks, artillery, helicopters and warplanes should also be globalised and include naval vessels.

Most of the technical work has already been done for all these agreements. Implementation could therefore be swift. The extension of these agreements to naval systems can be achieved technically by using similar categories of weapons to those on shore, as the types are very similar.

Encompassing space weapons can be achieved through launcher inspection and data exchange on previously located assets.

Through this process, 75 per cent of all stocks would be verifiably scrap’d in two years and the remaining quarter would be cut again by 75 per cent in the next two years. After a decade at this rate, the weapons are gone, or a lower limit is agreed.

A policy research agenda needs to be developed for SCRAP. This needs to include the definition of what states are entitled to retain for internal reasons pursuant to the duty of the state to retain a monopoly on the use of force, holdings by private contractors, the interface between small arms and light weapons categories and the lower sizes of weapons under the existing CFE arrangements. Lessons learned need to be shared between the experiences of European arms control and humanitarian disarmament processes.

An international coalition could build upon the important precedents set by the Australia-Japan Commission and the earlier Canberra Commission, the Blix Commission, governmental initiatives by Norway, Germany and the UK, and non-governmental reports from BASIC to Amnesty International, across the spectrum of human security and development. The bonus for citizens in every country, taxpayers, the poor and the global economy as a whole would be immense.

Explanatory Memorandum

GCD is an obligation under Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (1968) (NPT) and has been the subject of UN policy since the its early days. There is an unrealised commitment to hold a 4th Special Session of the UN General Assembly on Disarmament.

SCRAP suggests using proven agreements as a basis for GCD, a priority for the international community reiterated recently by the UN Secretary-General in his Securing Our Common Future Disarmament Agenda.

GCD can ease the humanitarian concerns many states have about a range of weapons, including the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects. GCD has long been a goal of the developing world to prevent humanitarian disasters and to boost sustainable development through disarmament and development.

SCRAP’s focus on a rapid and holistic approach is designed to demonstrate its practicality and to help change the paradigm from a fragmentary and step-by-step approach to one that offers a highly challenging and yet demonstrably practical message to vested interests. Rather than focusing on the trade of weapons, SCRAP emphasizes the humanitarian concerns of deployment, possession and production.

SCRAP’s proposal emphasises the need to focus not only on weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), but also on conventional weapons and on Confidence and Security-Building Measures (CSBMs), the SCRAP proposal can help bypass real and diplomatic obstacles to nuclear disarmament. Many countries that seek or possess nuclear weapons have regional security concerns around conventional weapons threats, for example Israel, Pakistan, China and Russia. Ignoring this dimension damages the credibility of nuclear only disarmament campaigns. By showing that conventional disarmament is practical, we hope to show that introducing it into the disarmament debate is not just another roadblock to nuclear disarmament.

With respect to nuclear and WMDs, it is clear we need to prevent humanitarian catastrophe. SCRAP uses the UN-authorised regime imposed on Iraq, the world’s most effective, proven and comprehensive mechanism for WMD disarmament, and suggests the international community impose it on itself. Not withstanding the highly politically controversial nature of the inspection regime, and the war, the inspection system itself worked. It can be used as a foundation for global application.

There are latent and converging interests in addressing major conventional weapons holdings and proliferation, as well as WMD and there is much to be gained by developing conventional and WMD control and elimination strategies in a mutually reinforcing manner. Globally, the core constituency actively pursuing nuclear and WMD non-proliferation and disarmament can usefully combine with the broader coalitions interested in controlling conventional armaments in the context of weak states and poor levels of development. Zero WMD in the world can be accomplished through a climate of confidence and controls on conventional armaments and new technologies.

The nuclear weapons states talk about the need to create the conditions for zero nuclear weapons but have no concrete plan to that end. SCRAP presents them with one.

Developing a strategy on conventional arms

A number of convergent issues favour a global approach to the removal and non-proliferation of conventional weapons:

  1. Efforts to achieve zero nuclear weapons are easier when we give attention to conventional forces and confidence-building measures regionally
  2. It is already understood that the holdings and production of some categories of conventional arms is an issue, which has led to the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (Ottawa Treaty), as well as the controls on small arms and light weapons (SALW)
  3. Some states see progress on general and complete disarmament as linked to nuclear disarmament in Article VI of the NPT, so globalising some provisions of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), the Treaty on Open Skies and their associated CSBMs offer a means of realising this NPT provision
  4. A major expansion of effective arms control is an effective preventive measure to the well-known conflict pressures arising from international economic dislocation


The long-standing legal commitment to general disarmament embodied in the NPT is in sight. Just as the acronym START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) denotes the nuclear-arms talks leading to the treaties of 1991 and 1993, and New START in 2010, today’s equivalent could be SCRAP – a Strategic Concept for Removal of Arms and Proliferation.

In 1989, NATO and the Warsaw Pact began talks on arms reductions. Within two years, they had signed a treaty that saw 52,000 tanks, warplanes, artillery guns and helicopters destroyed. Similarly, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev reached agreements that dismantled 20,000 nuclear warheads, leaving some 30,000 intact.

In this same period, near-universal agreement banned the test-firing of nuclear weapons; as a result, whereas previously both the U.S. and Soviet Union had been test-firing hundreds of nuclear weapons a year, global test-firings since 1996 have been reduced to almost zero.

We have also had other successes. IN 1975, the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) came into force in 1975, becoming the first multilateral disarmament treaty to ban the production of an entire category of weapons. While the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) came into force in 1997, prohibiting the development, production, stockpiling and transfer of chemical weapons. In 2017, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons announced it had verified the elimination of 67,851 metric tonnes of Category I chemical weapons, which is equal to 96 per cent of the world’s declared chemical weapons.

The continuation of the Nunn-Lugar programme and recent initiatives to revive the Fissile Materials Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) talks, including U.S. President Trump’s administration’s statements that it will support negotiation of an FMCT at the 2018 NPT Preparatory Committee are positive signs. Useful innovations in practical – including non-violent – methods of controlling dangerous commodities including nuclear materials, for example in transport and logistics, have come gradually as the disarmament and arms control mainstream has both dwindled and split.

The novel legislative approach embodied in UNSCR 1540 (2004), which is aimed at preventing non-state actors from acquiring nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, their means of delivery and related materials, is certainly a step in the right direction in the battle against illicit WMD transfers, but it has suffered problems of implementation at the state level.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (Ban Treaty) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 7 July 2017. Signatories to the treaty agree never to develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess, or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. The text was passed with 122 votes in favour, 1 against (Netherlands) and 1 abstention (Singapore). Sixty-nine countries did not vote, including all of the NATO members except the Netherlands and all of the nuclear weapon states.

With respect to conventional arms, the ATT entered into force on 24 December 2014. It has been ratified by 94 states and a further 41 states have signed but not ratified it, and reflects an increased will to regulate the trade of weapons in order to contribute to peace and reduce human suffering. However, to achieve these ends, this concern needs to also be directed at initiatives to reduce holdings of major weapons systems, ordnance stocks and production, and not only to the control of the conventional weapons trade.

Moreover, the parallel surge of interest by the international donor community, reflected in the OECD Development Assistance Committee, in using such standards to measure the success of security sector reforms requires the development of an integrated, risk-based approach to equipment and weaponry, and hence to disarmament, in the re-shaping of military, security and policing institutions – one without the other will not deliver sustained security.

What is needed is not to set aside the useful aspects of the new, piecemeal approach towards proliferation but to reunite them with a renewed ‘classical’ process based on strategies towards disarmament and the use of treaty and rule of law methods – with the associated principles of equity, objectivity, universality and transparency.

This new combination could achieve a more rational division of labour and subsidiarity. Such an approach should fill dangerous gaps in the pattern of coverage and effort, and minimise the double-think and double standards that are rife in current policies and practices.

Draft Text

“Basic elements of an international legally-binding arrangement on General and Complete Disarmament encompassing the elimination of strategic, intermediate-range, shorter-range and short range missiles; verification of the elimination of nuclear weapon manufacturing and stockpiles; verification of biological disarmament and verification of conventional armed forces, disarmament, holdings and manufacture, and for global and regional confidence and security building measures including military exercises and operations; open for broad international accession”


The States Parties to this Arrangement, Guided by the objective of strengthening strategic stability both globally and regionally, Convinced that the measures set forth in this Arrangement will help to reduce the risk of outbreak of war and strengthen international peace and security, Determined to act with a view to achieving effective progress towards general and complete disarmament under strict international control, Emphasizing the importance of the peaceful settlement of disputes between States laid out in Article 33 of the UN Charter, Recognizing the right of States to self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter, Desiring to contribute to the realization of the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, have agreed as follows:

Article I

General Obligations

  1. Each State Party to this Arrangement upon entry into force of this Arrangement and thereafter shall not produce or flight-test any strategic, intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles or produce any stages of such missiles or any launchers of such missiles.
  2. Each State Party to this Arrangement shall eliminate all its strategic-range, intermediate-range and shorter-range and short-range missiles and launchers of such missiles, as well as all support structures and equipment associated with such missiles and launchers, being in its possession or ownership, or being located in any site or on any vessel under its jurisdiction or control, under categories subject to an agreement, so that no later than the agreed date after entry into force of this Arrangement and thereafter no such missiles, launchers or support structures and equipment shall be possessed by each State Party. The forgoing to include ground-to air, air-to air, space launched and anti-missile-missiles. Where states designate missiles as solely for the purpose of launching payloads into space these are included in these aforementioned categories for inspection purposes to ensure the prevention of space-based weapons whether using kinetic or other energy.
  3. Each State Party to this Arrangement shall permit inspections on its territory consistent with the relevant provisions developed by UNMOVIC / IAEA with respect to nuclear and biological weapons and their production facilities to carry out the verified elimination of such weapons and supporting technologies and infrastructure according to a timetable agreed; and in conjunction with the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
  4. Each State Party to this Arrangement shall not produce or test any weapon system of category types described in the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty regardless of whether they are fitted to land, air or sea systems save where it is subject to prior notification and verification.
  5. Each State Party to this Arrangement shall provide data to other States Parties to this Arrangement concerning weapon systems of all category types within the CFE Treaty whether operated from land or at sea.
  6. Each State Party to this Arrangement shall adhere to the Open Skies Treaty.
  7. Each State Party to this Arrangement shall adhere to the Vienna Confidence and Security Building Measures developed by the OSCE.
  8. Each State Party to this agreement shall adhere to the Arms Trade Treaty.
  9. Each State Party to this agreement shall apply the provisions of the Arms Trade Treaty to all conventional arms, munitions and ammunition, as well as to equipment used for military, police or national security purposes. Each State Party to this agreement shall adhere to the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons.
  10. All States party to this agreement shall adhere to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects, and to its protocols.

Article II

Rules of Accounting and Definitions of Types of Weapons systems

Provisions for Rules of Accounting and Definitions of Types weapons and supporting technologies are subject to an agreement pursuant to the adapted provisions of START, INF, UNMOVIC / IAEA, CFE.

Article III

Limitations on numbers of weapons and supporting technologies are subject to an agreement

Article IV

Exchange of Information Related to the Obligations

Provisions for exchange of an information under categories of data, related to the obligations provided for by this Arrangement, are subject to an agreement pursuant to the provisions of START, INF, UNMOVIC, CFE, CSBMs and drawing on the timetables therein.

Article V

Elimination Procedures

Each State Party to this Arrangement shall eliminate all its strategic, intermediate range, shorter-range, and short range missiles and launchers of such missiles, and all support structures and support equipment associated with such missiles and launchers in accordance with the procedures which are subject to an agreement and weapons within the CFE categories based upon the elimination procedures of UNMOVIC, START and INF and CFE. Each State Party to this Arrangement shall reduce the other categories of weapon systems and supporting equipment and manufacturing capability subject to agreement.

Article VI

Rules of Compliance Verification

Rules of compliance verification are subject to an agreement.

Article VII

Definitions shall draw on the relevant paragraphs of the treaties listed herein

Article VIII

The Organization for Implementation of the Arrangement

The States Parties to this Arrangement shall come to an agreement about mechanism of implementation of the subject and the objective of this Arrangement. A framework for discussion will be the timeframes for implementation of UNMOVIC, START, INF and CFE Treaties with a view to completion within a ten year timeframe.

Article IX

Duration of the Arrangement

This Arrangement shall be of unlimited duration.

Article X

Amendments, Signature, Accession, Ratification, Entry into Force, Reservations, Depositary, Authentic Texts

Amendments, signature, accession, ratification, entry into force, reservations, depositary, authentic texts are subject to an agreement.