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European Security

German Nuclear Stance Stirs Debate

The German government’s explicit support for the withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Germany has triggered a debate within NATO and revealed differences among Germany’s governing parties, official statements and comments during interviews suggest. NATO allies will now have to debate the German initiative and the future of U.S. nuclear deployments in Europe during the current review of NATO’s Strategic Concept.

The new German coalition government supported the withdrawal in its Oct. 24 statement of its policy program. Against the background of the upcoming review conference of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) “and in the context of the talks on a new Strategic Concept for NATO,” Berlin “will advocate a withdrawal of remaining nuclear weapons from Germany, both within NATO and vis-à-vis our American allies,” the statement said.

Oliver Meier

NOTE: Click here to read a February 26 letter to the Secretary General of NATO from the chief diplomats of Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, and Luxembourg. (PDF)

The German government’s explicit support for the withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Germany has triggered a debate within NATO and revealed differences among Germany’s governing parties, official statements and comments during interviews suggest. NATO allies will now have to debate the German initiative and the future of U.S. nuclear deployments in Europe during the current review of NATO’s Strategic Concept.

The new German coalition government supported the withdrawal in its Oct. 24 statement of its policy program. Against the background of the upcoming review conference of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) “and in the context of the talks on a new Strategic Concept for NATO,” Berlin “will advocate a withdrawal of remaining nuclear weapons from Germany, both within NATO and vis-à-vis our American allies,” the statement said.

The document represents an agreement involving the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), its partner the Christian Social Union (CSU), and the Free Democratic Party (FDP). It marks the first time that the government of a NATO country has publicly promoted the removal of U.S. nuclear weapons from its territory and, according to several sources, has already triggered discussions on the future of NATO’s nuclear policies.

Previous German governments had raised the issue of the future of U.S. nuclear deployments but never so clearly called for a nuclear-weapon-free Germany. (See ACT, May 2009.) Canada and Greece are believed to have initiated a quiet withdrawal of U.S. nuclear weapons from their countries.

According to an Oct. 29 analysis by Hans Kristensen posted on the Federation of American Scientists’ Strategic Security Blog, the United States still deploys 10 to 20 B61 free-fall nuclear bombs at Büchel Air Force Base in western Germany. Kristensen concludes that the United States keeps a total of 150 to 240 nuclear weapons in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey. Under NATO nuclear sharing arrangements, these countries would provide aircraft that could deliver U.S. nuclear weapons to their targets in times of war. (In his analysis, Kristensen says he believes that the strike mission of the Turkish air force has expired.) NATO does not provide details of nuclear deployments, but officials in the past have confirmed that “a few hundred” U.S. nuclear weapons are deployed in Europe. (See ACT, September 2007.)

NATO allies consult on these arrangements and other aspects of the alliance’s nuclear policies in the Nuclear Planning Group (NPG). NATO is currently reviewing its 1999 Strategic Concept, including its nuclear policies, and hopes to reach agreement on a new concept by the end of next year.

Domestic Discussions

FDP defense spokesperson Elke Hoff told Arms Control Today in a Nov. 13 e-mail that the members of the coalition were able to agree only after “a tough struggle” on the goal of creating a nuclear-weapon-free Germany. According to a knowledgeable source, the compromise formula in the government program in the end had to be agreed at the highest level, by party leaders Chancellor Angela Merkel of the CDU and incoming Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle of the FDP. Hoff emphasized that the two parties now jointly support the initiative and that “the goal of withdrawal of the remaining nuclear weapons from Germany is thus a solid part of our government’s program.”

The new government places its initiative in the context of global nuclear disarmament by stating that it emphatically supports “President [Barack] Obama’s proposals for new far-reaching disarmament initiatives – including the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.” At a Nov. 5 press conference during his introductory visit to Washington, Westerwelle underlined Germany’s support for the “peace policy and the disarmament policy pursued by the American administration” and stated that “we want to do whatever we can not only to accompany it with words but also with deeds.”

Hoff said the new government views its initiative both as a disarmament measure and a contribution to nuclear nonproliferation. “We want to send a signal and fulfill our commitments under the NPT 100 percent,” she said.

NATO nuclear sharing arrangements have been repeatedly criticized during meetings of NPT states-parties as being at odds with the treaty’s letter and spirit. (See ACT, June 2008.)

A senior German Federal Foreign Office source said in a Nov. 11 interview that “the interagency process to implement the program of the new government has begun.” In the past, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Defense has supported continued German involvement in nuclear sharing and deployment of U.S. nuclear weapons in Germany. Officials speaking privately indicated that the political agreement to initiate withdrawal is unlikely to lead to a quick change in that position.

Westerwelle had taken a clear position on the issue of withdrawal during the campaign before the Sept. 27 election. On Aug. 16, for example, Westerwelle told the Associated Press that, if elected, he would conclude negotiations with German allies on the complete withdrawal of U.S. nuclear weapons from Germany during the four year-term of the new government. After his designation as foreign minister, in an Oct. 27 interview with the German journal Internationale Politik, he insisted that Germany should lead when it comes to be nuclear disarmament and “could set an example by working within NATO toward the withdrawal of U.S. nuclear weapons still stationed on our soil.”

The CDU and the CSU are the only parties in the Bundestag that have recently supported nuclear sharing and Germany’s participation in the arrangement. In the past, Merkel had emphasized that nuclear sharing provides Germany with a unique opportunity to be involved in the nuclear weapons policies of NATO allies. After the election, during a Nov. 10 parliamentary debate on the new government’s policies, Merkel mentioned neither withdrawal nor nuclear sharing and merely argued that the new government wants to make sure that NATO’s new Strategic Concept “will also put the issue of disarmament on the agenda.” Andreas Schockenhoff, the CDU member of parliament responsible for foreign and security policies, told Arms Control Today in a Nov. 11 e-mail that the government’s new position does “absolutely not indicate a break” with past policies of the conservative party. “A withdrawal of U.S. nuclear weapons from Germany would not at all mean that we are no longer part of nuclear sharing,” he argued. Schockenhoff pointed out that Greece no longer has U.S. weapons deployed on its territory but is still taking part in nuclear sharing. Participation in NATO’s NPG, for example, is not linked to hosting U.S. nuclear weapons. “Germany’s active participation in the transatlantic Alliance is therefore not at stake,” he wrote.

Negotiating With the Russians?

Differences continue to exist among the German coalition partners on the conditions for withdrawal. Previous German governments placed removal of U.S. nuclear weapons in the context of negotiations with Russia on tactical nuclear weapons. According to the source close to the negotiations on the government’s program, it was a conscious decision during discussions on the government’s program not to include such a linkage. By contrast, Schockenhoff in the Nov. 10 parliamentary debate mentioned an additional precondition by stating that removal of U.S. nuclear weapons should be pursued in close consultation with allies and “in the context of disarmament agreements.”

Russia is believed to possess more than 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons in various states of readiness. According to many observers, these weapons pose a particular security risk because many are small and easy to use, making them a potential target of terrorist groups. In interviews, several German and NATO officials pointed out that the Obama administration has said it intends to include tactical nuclear weapons in the next round of nuclear arms control negotiations with Russia, due to begin once the current talks on a follow-on agreement to START are completed.

At the same time, the Obama administration seems to have reconsidered the previous U.S. stance that NATO nuclear weapons are a bargaining chip in future talks with Russia on tactical nuclear weapons. In July 30 remarks at a U.S. Strategic Command symposium on nuclear deterrence in Omaha, Robert Einhorn, the Department of State’s special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control, posed the question of whether the United States “as an inducement to Russia to limit or consolidate its tactical weapons, should be prepared to reduce or eliminate the relatively small number of U.S. nuclear weapons that remain in Europe,” according to Global Security Newswire.

A U.S. official said in a Nov. 11 interview that Washington’s position on whether U.S. tactical nuclear weapons deployed in Europe should be a future bargaining chip with Russia is “nuanced.” He explained that the United States is “not talking about the mere elimination of the whole class of nuclear weapons but about devaluing the importance of nuclear weapons.” Given the disproportion in the size of Russian and U.S. tactical nuclear weapons stockpiles, he said, “What incentive would there be for Russia to enter negotiations on these weapons even if NATO were to put all its weapons on the table? Frankly, it would be difficult to get the Russians to the table in the first place.”

NATO Reactions

The senior Foreign Office source confirmed that the issue of withdrawal will be discussed in the context of the ongoing NATO discussion about a new Strategic Concept and “would be on the arms control agenda as soon as possible.” Schockenhoff emphasized that “a consensus within NATO on this question is a precondition for any changes,” but said that he “expects positive reactions by NATO allies to this project because disarmament and arms control play an important role in the alliance.” Hoff emphasized that “it will be particularly important that talks with our allies in NATO about a withdrawal of U.S. nuclear weapons from Germany will be conducted on the basis of rational criteria and free of Cold War reflexes.”

According to several sources, a presentation by German representatives of Berlin’s new position in the NATO Council did not trigger a direct reaction by allies. Yet, German representatives were apparently approached on a bilateral basis by several NATO allies who were seeking clarification of Berlin’s position on nuclear sharing. The U.S. official said the new German government’s initiative to advocate a removal of U.S. nuclear weapons from Germany has indeed prompted “a lively debate within NATO.” That debate so far has been limited to “informal discussions and corridor chatter” rather than formal consideration of the proposal, he said, adding that the discussions “are certainly going to be interesting.”

Several officials predicted that formal consultations would be unlikely to take place before the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) is completed in early 2010, making it unlikely that NATO countries will be able to present a coordinated stance on the future of nuclear sharing at the next NPT review conference.

Obama administration officials have apparently promised to brief NATO allies in January on the NPR, although it is unclear whether Washington will give allies an opportunity to provide input into the outcome.

During a Nov. 3 press conference with Westerwelle, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen evaded a question on whether the removal of all nuclear U.S. warheads from Europe, and in particular from Germany, would be conducive to alliance security. He did say that it is “only natural that there is a political discussion and a discussion in our publics about our nuclear strategy” and “noted with satisfaction” assurances by the new German government “that any steps and any discussion or any decision will take place in a multilateral framework.” Westerwelle took pains to point out that Germany would not move ahead unilaterally, saying that “we will take decisions together.… [T]he new federal German government is not aiming at going matters alone.”

Allied Reactions

The Dutch government also reacted cautiously. According a Nov. 2 press release posted on the Dutch Foreign Ministry’s Web site, Westerwelle and his Dutch counterpart, Maxime Verhagen, agreed that “the current international situation presents an opportunity to take new steps” to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in Europe, but “stressed that unilateral disarmament is not on the cards.” Verhagen said that “involving NATO in nuclear negotiations between Russia and the United States” would be “the best way of eliminating the largest possible number of nuclear weapons.”

However, there are divisions on this issue among the three parties that form the Dutch government. A Sept. 9 article in the Dutch daily de Volkskrant quotes Labour Party foreign affairs spokesman Martijn van Dam as saying that the Netherlands should invite Obama to remove the U.S. nuclear weapons from Dutch territory. “The Netherlands should tell the American president Obama: come and get them,” van Dam said. Christian Democrats and the Christian Union, who are in a coalition with Labour, do not agree with this and on Oct. 15 rejected three parliamentary resolutions that supported withdrawal of nuclear weapons. Labour voted in favor of two of the resolutions, but rejected one that supported unilateral action by the Dutch government.

A senior Belgian official told Arms Control Today in a Nov. 16 e-mail that “Belgium is and remains supportive of a world free of all nuclear weapons” and welcomed the U.S. commitment to that goal. The official argued that Belgium should now “actively contribute to a coherent and result-oriented strategy, [which must] be agreed within the relevant multilateral frameworks, in the first instance within NATO.” He cautioned that “none of this can be done unilaterally, we must be committed to multilateral consultation and decision-making.”

The Belgian parliament has repeatedly urged the government to take action toward withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Belgium and Europe. On Oct. 15, legislation proposing a ban in Belgium of the production, storage, sale, transport, and possession of nuclear arms was introduced.

Many observers have noted that the issue of providing assurances, including extended deterrence, to U.S. allies while the United States pursues a nuclear-weapon-free world is one of the contentious issues in the NPR. Referring to the issues surrounding withdrawal of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons, the U.S. official indicated that “the Obama administration is certainly going to be interested in exploring these issues in the context of the review of NATO’s Strategic Concept.” He predicted that “the current administration will be much more receptive to the ideas advocated by Germany than the previous administration” and said that the current U.S. ambassador to NATO, Ivo Daalder, personally has a strong interest in nuclear disarmament. Before taking his new position, Daalder co-authored an article in the November/December 2008 issue of Foreign Affairs on “The Logic of Zero,” which argues for strong U.S. leadership on nuclear disarmament.

Notes of Caution

In a Nov. 9 interview with MDR Radio in Berlin, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gave a cautious response to the question of when the United States might withdraw nuclear weapons from Germany, saying that “we have to be very careful about how we evaluate the different threats, the need for deterrence.” Clinton pointed to differences among allies on the need for U.S. nuclear deployments in Europe. “NATO is the appropriate forum to consider all of the ramifications, because we have obligations to states further east. We have obligations to states in the Balkans and further south,” she said.

German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, in a Nov. 19 speech in Washington, explicitly warned that new NATO members might take over Germany’s role in nuclear sharing, should U.S. weapons deployed in Germany be withdrawn unilaterally. Guttenberg said that when discussing the future of nuclear weapons in Germany, “we have to keep in mind what any step means, as a consequence.” Pointing to NATO’s 1996 promise not to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of new alliance members, Guttenberg said that “we could have partners in mind who probably would be glad to offer their grounds and their soil for any weapons. But the question is whether that makes sense, then, for the security structures within Europe.”

NATO’s 1996 statement that it “has no intention, no plan and no need to station nuclear weapons on the territory of any new members” was essential to reducing Russian opposition to former Warsaw Pact members joining the alliance.

One option to reduce NATO’s nuclear profile would be consolidation of U.S. weapons in a few states. A 2006 NATO report by Jeffrey Larsen entitled “The Future of U.S. Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons and Implications for NATO” concludes that one option is for NATO to decide “to move all of its nuclear weapons to storage sites in southern Europe to be closer to the most likely near-term threats.” Kristensen in his Web log cites rumors that “have circulated for several years about plans to consolidate the remaining weapons from the current six bases to one or two bases” in Italy and Turkey. Officials interviewed for this article differed as to the likelihood of such an option. The U.S. official stated that such a proposal is “now more likely to be realized than in the past, not so much because of the German initiative but mainly because of the change in U.S. administration and its new nuclear weapons policies.” Others pointed out the preliminary nature of the discussions and that NATO’s High Level Group is currently only beginning consideration of various options for NATO’s future nuclear posture. These officials also emphasized that placing nuclear weapons only in Italy and Turkey might be controversial in those countries and would face a number of practical and political hurdles.

Kristensen wrote in his blog that “Turkey does not allow the U.S. Air Force to deploy the fighter-bombers to Incirlik that are needed to deliver the bombs if necessary, and has several times restricted U.S. deployments through Turkey into Iraq.” Aviano Air Base in Italy, where U.S. nuclear weapons would presumably be concentrated, is already overburdened with conventional missions, he said.

Article corrected January 21, 2010. Original article misstated the date of Germany’s September 27 national election.

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Posted: December 31, 1969

Interview with Annalisa Giannella, Personal Representative on Nonproliferation of WMD to EU High Representative Javier Solana

Description: 

Interviewed by Oliver Meier

Body: 

Interviewed by Oliver Meier

On Feb. 16, Arms Control Today international correspondent Oliver Meier spoke with EU nonproliferation chief Annalisa Giannella to discuss Europe's nonproliferation and security policies against the background of the new U.S. administration taking office. Giannella has served in her current position since October 2003 and previously served as the EU Council of Ministers' director for security and defense policy and head of the division for security issues.

ACT: What do you think will be the impact of the change in administration in Washington on European efforts to strengthen arms control and nonproliferation agreements?

Giannella: I think that it will have a revitalizing effect. Since the adoption of the European Security Strategy and the [weapons of mass destruction (WMD)] strategy,[1] we have been very active in supporting what we call effective multilateralism, in support of universalization but also of effective implementation of all the multilateral treaties and conventions, as well as supporting new treaties which would fill the gaps in the nonproliferation/disarmament regime.

We must say that, over recent years at least on some of these points, we have not had full convergence of views with the United States. The emphasis has always been on nonproliferation. There was no consensus on nuclear disarmament, for instance. On the Biological Weapons Convention, there was no possibility of agreement on a verification protocol. The EU has always been in favor of entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), but the United States didn't want to ratify the treaty and join our effort to promote universalization.[2] On the fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT), the United States even put forward a proposal for initiating negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament (CD) but opposed the very idea of verification.[3]

However, there have been quite a number of areas where we had very good cooperation with the Bush administration, including Iran of course. For instance, we have both and sometimes jointly been supporting the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1540.[4] We have been cooperating together with the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs and the 1540 Committee in support of the resolution. We have been working in synergy in the area of export control assistance to third countries. We have regularly compared notes about the assistance projects that we launch for third countries. The problem we have had was basically with the way we viewed our support for some multilateral treaties and conventions.

With the Obama administration, we are looking forward to the fullest cooperation and synergy because, from what we read and see and hear about Obama's intentions, they are very much along the same lines as the EU approach. We see that now the United States will be in favor of entry into force of the CTBT, is in favor of a verifiable FMCT, and in addition we also have a very open statement in support of a call for a world without nuclear weapons and the intention to start negotiations for a phased, verifiable, irreversible, transparent elimination of nuclear weapons.[5] This will also contribute to establishing a much better atmosphere in the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) review process. We think that we have a better chance of getting very good results in the next few years with the United States and EU working together in the same direction.

ACT: Are there areas where you think differences will continue with the new administration or might even grow?

Giannella: It is very difficult to judge because so far we have not had very precise and detailed proposals from the U.S. side. So we have to base ourselves on what we have read in speeches by President [Barack] Obama, Vice President [Joe] Biden, and Secretary of State [Hillary Rodham] Clinton. From what I have seen, I don't think there would be any divergence of views as far as weapons of mass destruction are concerned.

Maybe we will still have some slight differences on conventional weapons because the EU is in favor of and is actively promoting negotiations on an arms trade treaty.[6] I'm not yet sure that the Obama administration will be entirely supportive of this.

ACT: On the recent initiatives on arms control and nonproliferation that were taken during the French presidency, particularly during the December 2008 meetings, there was for example a new document, "New Lines of Action," which outlines a variety of measures. Mainly it seems aimed at improving internal coherence among EU member states.[7] I found very few initiatives to strengthen multilateral instruments. Why is this, and are there any additional initiatives planned to strengthen multilateral instruments?

Giannella: In fact, the document that was agreed under the French presidency, the New Lines of Action, is just an additional document. It is additional with respect to our WMD strategy, which remains valid, and with respect to the priorities for implementation of the strategy, which were also adopted by the same meeting of the [EU] Council [of Ministers].[8] So, you are right that the new Lines of Action is more an improvement of coherence among the EU member states, but we still have the list of priorities for the implementation of the strategy. We still have an approach based very much on work in support of multilateralism and also on cooperation with other countries. These documents have to be seen as a whole and as complementing each other.

ACT: Another additional instrument that was approved was a draft code of conduct for outer space activities.[9] This was also presented to the CD by the Czech presidency.[10] Can you explain the added value of the EU code in comparison to other instruments on space security? What is your time frame for agreement on a consensus document? In this context, how do you want to engage Russia and China particularly on this issue?

Giannella: I'm glad to have this opportunity to stress that the fact that the council agreed [to] this draft doesn't mean that the draft is a document that cannot be modified. The ministers gave an endorsement to this draft as a basis for consultations with third countries. So it is an official EU initiative, but of course the text is really very open to modification in the light of comments by partners. The purpose of this code is to enhance safety, security, and predictability of outer space activities. It is a code because the assessment, which was made within the EU, was that there was no consensus, for the time being, for a legally binding instrument. On the other hand, there are more and more activities in outer space, and therefore something needs to be done. We do not want this document to replace or to prevail over instruments which already exist and most of which are legally binding.

There are a number of conventions and treaties in the area of outer space, but subscribing states would commit themselves to full implementation of these instruments whereas nonsubscribing states would commit to take steps to accede or to adhere to these instruments. This is because we don't want to exclude the possibility for countries who may not wish to ratify to decide nevertheless to implement the provisions of these instruments. Then there are also transparency measures, confidence-building measures, notification, registration, et cetera. We believe that this code will improve the situation in terms of confidence building and transparency, and we think that this initiative is not a substitute. It does not stand in the way of negotiation of a treaty if everybody agrees on the idea of a treaty preventing weaponization of space, as proposed by Russia and China.[11]

Now, you ask me how do you want to engage with Russia and China as well as other partner countries. Actually, we have started to engage. We have already had a first round of informal consultations, and now after endorsement by the council, we have started a round of formal consultations which will involve not only the United States, Russia, and China, but also other main partners of the EU and space-faring nations. So we are consulting Canada, Japan, India, South Korea, Brazil, et cetera.

ACT: Do you have a time frame for these consultations?

Giannella: We were in Canada a couple weeks ago. We will be in Asia in March. There will be other countries that we will meet in the margins of multilateral meetings.

ACT: There's no target date, is there?

Giannella: We hope that if consultations go reasonably well and if the modified version can be accepted by most of the countries, we will be able to convene an ad hoc conference maybe at the end of the year or beginning of next year. Of course, all of this depends on how these consultations go.

ACT: The EU made legally binding its code of conduct on arms exports.[12] Why did it take so long to make the code legally binding, and what impact do you think the change in the legal character will have on actual exports from EU member states?

Giannella: As you know, the content of the common position [on arms exports] is 90 or 95 percent identical to the content of the former code of conduct. However, there are some improvements. The criteria [for arms exports] are the same, but the scope is wider in the sense that, for instance, the common position covers brokering and intangible transfers. But the fact that it is legally binding gives the instrument a different status, and it makes the EU a very credible actor as [a] promoter of the arms trade treaty. We are proposing to the international community the negotiation of a treaty governing the arms trade, and we are demonstrating that we ourselves are already committed to a legally binding instrument. This is a question of coherence. We could not propose a legally binding instrument if we did not already have legally binding commitments among ourselves.

ACT: Turning back toward the NPT, can you generally say what your expectations for the review conference are at this stage? Do you expect there to be a new EU common position to be agreed?[13] What specific issues might the EU try to focus on in that context?

Giannella: For the review conference, our position is classical and is largely the same although the text of our common position [on the NPT], which was adopted before the last review conference, will probably be adapted next year.[14] We think that the review conference has to address the three pillars in a balanced way.

We have to work on nonproliferation and peaceful uses. In this context, one of the issues on which we should focus is the multilateral nuclear fuel approaches. We have to work on those approaches because it is clear that there are more and more countries turning to nuclear energy for civilian purposes. It is also clear that it is for each country to make its own energy choices, and if a country is in compliance with the treaty, clearly it has the right to have nuclear energy for civilian purposes. We have to make sure that programs for nuclear energy are developed in such a way as to avoid any proliferation risk and to meet the highest standards in terms of safety, security, and nonproliferation. The only way we can do that is through multilateral nuclear fuel approaches.

We need to work on disarmament, and I think that the statements by President Obama give us very good grounds to hope that we can have progress on the nuclear disarmament pillar.

In addition, the EU has already put forward a paper on withdrawal because we want to better specify the procedure and the conditions for withdrawal. We want to work on export controls, we want to work on safeguards, on nuclear security, et cetera. We have a lot of items, but I think if we could have progress on multilateral nuclear fuel approaches and on disarmament, it would be a big success.

ACT: There is a new discussion on a nuclear weapons-free world. France and the United Kingdom have both explained their positions and expanded to some degree their positions on nuclear arms control during the last year.[15] Last December, French President Nicolas Sarkozy as acting EU president wrote a letter to Ban Ki-Moon explaining the EU's stance on nuclear disarmament.[16] How does this initiative in your assessment differ from past EU positions on nuclear arms control and disarmament?

Giannella: It is no secret that, on nuclear disarmament, the lowest common denominator between EU members was extremely low. The situation has started to improve over the last couple of years precisely because there has been a modification of the position in the United Kingdom and most recently in France. Now that the Obama administration is taking a very different position with respect to nuclear disarmament, this will also facilitate the further evolution of the French and British approaches because nuclear disarmament cannot take place on a unilateral basis. It has to be a negotiated process amongst the five [NPT nuclear powers]. The more Obama elaborates his approach, the more easily France and the United Kingdom will elaborate their own approaches and vice versa. It will be a mutually reinforcing process and will encourage Russia and China to move as well. Since the other countries in the EU have had no difficulty in being much more in favor of nuclear disarmament, this will help us to develop the EU position in a positive way.

ACT: One specific proposal that Sarkozy made in the letter to Ban Ki-Moon was the inclusion of tactical nuclear weapons in general arms control and disarmament processes. Do you think if this were to happen, this would also affect the deployment of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in EU countries also?[17]

Giannella: It is premature for me to make comments on specific elements in the Sarkozy letter or in proposals made by other main actors. All these elements need a thorough examination, a thorough discussion. I think that the Sarkozy letter was meant to give a message that there is a new readiness to discuss these issues. How exactly the question of nuclear disarmament will develop, what exactly will be the elements for an agreement, it is too early for me and maybe for others to say.

ACT: There has also been a reversal of U.S. policies on CTBT ratification. What generally do you think Europe can do to speed up entry into force? Specifically, are there any lessons or experiences that Europe can offer to U.S. senators to convince them that U.S. security will be enhanced by approving the treaty?

Giannella: The EU has set a precedent because our own nuclear-weapon states, France and the United Kingdom, have ratified the CTBT very quickly. That means the CTBT does not necessarily entail any risk or danger even for countries which, after all, still believe in nuclear deterrence. Second, the EU has been working a lot in support of the entry into force of the CTBT. We have made demarches in support of ratification in countries which have not ratified, in particular in the countries listed in annex two of the treaty. Only a few months ago, we agreed on an energetic action plan in support of its entry into force.[18]

That is not all. We believe that the monitoring system of the CTBT has to be credible. We have also tried to use that leverage in our campaign. The fact is that the CTBT monitoring system can also be very useful for civilian purposes, for civil protection purposes. It can help, for instance, to give an early warning of tsunamis or earthquakes. So, it can be very much in the interests of each and every country to make use of this monitoring system. The EU is contributing financially to some activities which help the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization to maintain credibility and to further develop the monitoring system. Over the past two or three years, the council has adopted a couple of decisions by which we have supported training courses for monitors, for improvements of the monitoring system including radionuclides, noble gas, and many other things. We believe that an effective monitoring system is an important element in making the CTBT attractive.

ACT: The Obama administration has offered direct dialogue with Tehran without preconditions, which has long been the EU position. What is your assessment of Iran's reaction to the new U.S. position on this dialogue?

Giannella: I don't know whether the offer of the United States is to have direct talks without preconditions. If "without preconditions" is being taken to mean that there is no need for Iran to suspend or freeze enrichment activities, I am not sure if this is what is meant by the U.S. administration. I have understood the U.S. administration position as being that they are ready to be more directly involved with Iran in each and every phase of the negotiations on the nuclear issue and that they also want to have a direct channel of communication covering not only the nuclear issue but also other important issues such as the Middle East, Afghanistan, Iraq, et cetera. This is very positive, this can only increase the possibility, the hope, for positive developments in the EU-3 Plus 3 process with Iran. But I'm not sure that there will be such a dramatic change in the U.S. position that it might deal on the nuclear issue only bilaterally and at no condition. This is not our reading. The preconditions are set in UN Security Council resolutions.

The other question is how the Iranians have reacted to the new statements by the U.S. administration. I think the reaction is typically Iranian. Instead of saying, "Okay, happy to see that now we have an interlocutor who is ready to talk to us. We are ready to talk as well, and maybe both of us should calm down our rhetoric," we hear "The Americans should apologize for what they have done in the past." Iranians are very difficult people to deal with, and I hope that American statements are not misinterpreted in Iran as unconditional acceptance that Iran need take no steps in order to the meet the criteria of the Security Council.

ACT: Now Iran's enrichment program is gaining speed and is proceeding much faster than many experts had predicted. Do you think direct dialogue can actually wait until after the Iranian presidential elections in June? What will be the EU-3's and EU's role in the context of such new talks?

Giannella: There is this debate about whether we should or should not wait until the presidential election [in Iran]. It is clear that it is difficult for Iran to take a bold decision in a transitional period. On the other hand, when we think about the data concerning the development of enrichment in Iran, they have already produced more than 1.000 kilograms of low-enriched uranium, they already have 4,000 centrifuges in operation, they have 2,000 more centrifuges under test, et cetera. That means that, in a few months, they will have produced a quantity of enriched uranium which could be then enriched further to highly enriched uranium and would be enough to produce one nuclear device. Of course, other elements are needed to weaponized, et cetera, but in a few months Iran will reach a really important threshold.

Against this background, I think that we should not wait. It would be better not to wait. How many chances we may have to pressure Iran into making a major policy change I don't know, but I would not wait. My personal opinion is that we should not waste time.

ACT: The other side of the new U.S. position on this is that if Iran does not accept the new offer, more sanctions will be needed. What steps do you see member states and the EU as a whole taking to heighten pressure on Iran, and what can the EU do to engage Russia and China more on this?

Giannella: As you know, we have been implementing the Security Council resolutions very fully, and not just fully but always a little beyond the letter of the Security Council resolutions. We have been a little tougher or more comprehensive. Now we are re-examining the list in order to see whether any updating is needed. This is already a way of increasing pressure. We share the U.S. position that we have to work on the dual-track approach, which means that, on one hand, we have to be open to negotiations and, on the other hand, as long as Iran does not meet the UN Security Council requirements, we have to increase pressure.

What do we do to engage Russia and China? We regularly have meetings with them together with the Americans, and I hope that the increased readiness by the United States to engage directly with Iran, to be involved in all phases of negotiations with Iran, will make Russia and China more ready to adopt new sanctions if Iran continues to refuse to engage.

ACT: You don't sound very optimistic on this.

Giannella: Clearly we haven't had maximum convergence of views on this element over the last two months, but don't forget that the U.S. position was also much more prudent in terms of negotiations. So maybe we will find a new balance with more openness to negotiations and pressure.

ACT: On Russia particularly, at the Munich security conference, Javier Solana said that the Medvedev proposal for a new European security architecture should be taken seriously and that there should be an engagement and a debate on this issue.[19] Could you specify what this means for the security dialogue of the EU with Russia, what specific topics the EU could become engaged on, and how the division between old and new EU members, if you like, in terms of approaching Russia can be overcome?

Giannella: I hesitate to respond to your question because this is really beyond my remit. I am responsible for disarmament, nonproliferation, and arms control. What I can tell you is that, in my area of competence, we do have very good cooperation with Russia, and we are looking forward to improve it even more. We work and consult a lot with Russia on nonproliferation [and] disarmament issues, and we also have good practical cooperation with Russia on disarmament projects. We consider and we treat Russia as a major partner of the EU.

ACT: One of the areas of cooperation is the Global Partnership, which is due to expire in 2012.[20] There is going to be a discussion starting on whether to extend the Global Partnership and maybe also to support its geographical expansion. Do you have a position on this already?

Giannella: We are basically in favor of some geographical expansion because we think the objective of Global Partnership cannot be limited to Russia and the former Soviet Union. If there are proliferation threats, [Group of Eight (G-8)] members should address them. On this issue, we do have an open discussion with Russia in the context of the G-8.

ACT: Thank you very much.



[1] Council of the European Union, "A Secure Europe in a Better World: European Security Strategy," December 12, 2003, www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cmsUpload/78367.pdf; Council of European Union, "EU Strategy Against Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction," December 12, 2003, register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/03/st15/st15708.en03.pdf.

[2] The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) bans all nuclear explosions anywhere. It has been signed by 180 countries and ratified by 148 states. The treaty will not take full legal effect until nine key states, including the United States, ratify the accord. See Arms Control Association, "The Status of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty: Signatories and Ratifiers," February 2008. [at http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/ctbtsig.asp... numbers do not match up, I will work on this]

[3] A proposed fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) would outlaw the production of highly enriched uranium and plutonium for weapons purposes. A nuclear weapon cannot be made without one or the other. In July 2004, the Bush administration changed the U.S. policy position on an FMCT, announcing that it does not believe an agreement can be crafted to protect against cheating. This has further complicated the commencement of negotiations on such an accord. See Wade Boese, "Bush Shifts Fissile Material Ban Policy," Arms Control Today, September 2004, pp. 20-21.

[4] Resolution 1540, adopted in April 2004, is a legally binding effort that requires all states to implement a variety of domestic measures to prevent nonstate actors from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery, and related materials.

[5] "Arms Control Today 2008 Presidential Q&A: President-Elect Barack Obama," December 2008, special section.

[6] In 2006 the UN General Assembly voted to work toward establishing "common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional weapons." A UN group of governmental experts on August 26, 2008, adopted by consensus a report that called for further study within the UN in a step-by-step manner and on "the basis of consensus" of an arms trade treaty. See Jeff Abramson, "Arms Trade Treaty Discussion Creeps Forward," Arms Control Today, December 2008, pp. 53-54.

[7] Council of the European Union, "Council Conclusions and New Lines for Action by the European Union in Combating the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Their Delivery Systems," 17172/08, November 23, 2008, available at http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/08/st17/st17172.en08.pdf.

[8] Council of the European Union, "Report on the Implementation of the European Security Strategy: Providing Security in a Changing World," S407/08, December 11, 2008, http://www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/EN/reports/104630.pdf.

[9] Council of the European Union, "Council Conclusions and Draft Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities," 17175/08, December 17, 2008, http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/08/st17/st17175.en08.pdf.

[10] "Statement by the Czech Presidency on Behalf of the European Union: 'PAROS,'" Geneva, February 12, 2009, http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/political/cd/speeches09/1session/12feb_EU.pdf.

[11] In February 2008, Russia and China co-sponsored a proposal at the CD to ban weapons in space. See Wade Boese, "Russia Pushes Pacts as U.S. Kills Satellite," Arms Control Today, March 2008, pp. 50-51.

[12] Council of the European Union, "Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP of 8 December 2008 Defining Common Rules Governing Control of Exports of Military Technology End Equipment," 355 OJ 99, December 13, 2008, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2008:335:0099:0103:EN:PDF.

[13] Common positions are designed to make cooperation more systematic and improve its coordination. EU member states are required to comply with and uphold common positions that have been adopted unanimously by the council.

[14] Council of the European Union, "Council Common Position 3005/329/PESC of 25 April 2005 Relating to the 2005 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons," 106 OJ 32, April 25, 2005. (http://www.sussex.ac.uk/Units/spru/hsp/documents/2005-0525%20NPT%20CP.pdf)

[15] On February 4, 2008, British Foreign Minister David Miliband presented a six-point plan on nuclear disarmament, in which he described conditions for achieving a world free of nuclear weapons. After this interview, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in a March 17 speech further elaborated the British position and suggested that the United Kingdom would be ready to participate in broader negotiations "as soon as it becomes useful for our arsenal to be included."

[16] On December 5, 2008, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in his role as acting EU president, wrote a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, outlining the EU position on nuclear arms control issues. Among other things, the letter calls for increased nuclear weapons transparency and initiatives on tactical nuclear weapons. http://ambafrance-se.org/france_suede/spip.php?article2084

[17] It is estimated that the United States still deploys between 150 and 240 B61 bombs in Europe. Under nuclear sharing arrangements, as many as 140 weapons can be assigned for use by Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey, none of which have their own nuclear arms. These weapons remain under U.S. custody during peacetime but can be released to U.S. allies for delivery in times of war. See Oliver Meier, "NATO Mulls Nuke Modernization, Security," Arms Control Today, September 2008, pp. 37-39.

[18] Council of the European Union, "Council Joint Action 2008/588/CFSP of 15 July 2008 on Support for Activities of the Preparatory Commission of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) in Order to Strengthen Its Monitoring and Verification Capabilities and in the Framework of the Implementation of the EU Strategy Against Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction," 189 OJ 28, July 17, 2008, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2008:189:0028:0035:EN:PDF.

[19] On June 5, 2008, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev proposed a new security treaty for Europe. Medvedev elaborated on his proposal in more detail in a speech on October 8 at the World Policy Conference in Evian, France.

[20] The Group of Eight (G-8) Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction is an initiative launched in June 2002. The initial participants pledged $20 billion over a 10-year period to this effort, including $10 billion from the United States and, to date, have primarily funded projects in Russia.

Posted: December 31, 1969

UK Auditor Criticizes Trident Renewal Plan

The United Kingdom's National Audit Office (NAO) has questioned the Ministry of Defense's ability to replace its aging Trident nuclear missile submarines before they start being retired from service in the early 2020s. In a Nov. 5 report, the NAO raised concerns over the tight schedule of the program as well as its cost, design, and management. The government stated, however, that the program is on schedule.

Manasi Kakatkar

The United Kingdom's National Audit Office (NAO) has questioned the Ministry of Defense's ability to replace its aging Trident nuclear missile submarines before they start being retired from service in the early 2020s. In a Nov. 5 report, the NAO raised concerns over the tight schedule of the program as well as its cost, design, and management. The government stated, however, that the program is on schedule.

The Trident system in service since 1994 consists of four Vanguard-class submarines, each carrying 16 U.S.-supplied Trident D5 missiles equipped with up to three nuclear warheads. (See ACT, December 2005.) The submarines are due to be retired in 2024, and a minority of lawmakers had suggested several years ago that the United Kingdom did not need to rush to replace a system that would be in service for several decades. Some had argued that there was no necessity for an independent British nuclear arsenal in a post-Cold War world and asserted that building new nuclear-armed submarines would represent a lack of British commitment to the disarmament obligation of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). (See ACT, April 2007.)

At the behest of then-Prime Minister Tony Blair, however, parliament voted in 2007 to maintain the United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent by replacing the submarines with a new class of submarines in 2024 and extending the life of the Trident D5 missiles. The total cost of the project is estimated to be $22-30 billion and is aimed at providing an effective and operational nuclear deterrent until the 2040s.

In a December 2006 white paper, "The Future of The United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent," the British government announced a reduction in its overall warhead stockpile by 20 percent, from fewer than 200 warheads to fewer than 160 operationally available warheads. The paper indicated that the United Kingdom has the smallest stockpile of nuclear weapons among the five NPT nuclear-weapon states, a distinction China has also claimed.

In its report, the NAO criticized the Trident replacement program for insufficient budget oversight, lack of contingency planning, and monopoly suppliers. It found that the current cost estimates do not reflect the whole-life costs for the system and do not account for any contingencies or value-added tax. The NAO also warned of insufficient oversight of the budget. It has asked the government to prepare robust estimates of the whole-life costs and the possible extension of the lives of the submarines by September 2009.

The NAO expressed concern over the monopoly of BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce in supplying the submarines and the nuclear reactors on them. It worried about how the government would incentivize the suppliers to maintain schedules and achieve value. Stressing its point about meeting deadlines, the NAO pointed to a program to provide the navy with Astute-class submarines that is 41 months late and more than $1 billion over budget.

It also warned about the shortage of navy personnel skilled in operating nuclear reactors and monitoring nuclear missiles, which could jeopardize the United Kingdom's primary nuclear deterrent. The problem is likely to get worse in the years to come, according to the NAO.

The 2007 vote authorized British participation in a U.S. plan to extend the life of the Trident D5 missiles to 2042, after which they would retire from service. The United States has so far not provided any guarantees of the compatibility of the new missiles to be developed as replacements for the Tridents with the new submarines that the United Kingdom plans to build.

Some critics argued for extending the lives of the submarines to 40-45 years from the current 25-year life span. According to the Defense Ministry, however, it would be risky to extend their life more than five years. A longer extension, defense officials said, would be costlier than the current plan. It would require replacing many of the major parts, such as control systems, electrical systems, and possibly even the main engine and gearbox mechanism. The new submarines would include advanced safety standards, computer systems, and improved nuclear reactors that generate more power for the same amount of fuel, saving money.

Posted: December 31, 1969

U.S. Signs European Anti-Missile Deals

The Bush administration has moved closer toward its goal of establishing long-range anti-missile outposts in Europe, completing basing agreements recently with the Czech Republic and Poland over Russian objections and threats. The earliest that site construction could start is late next year if lawmakers in the United States and the two host countries back the effort. (Continue)

Wade Boese

The Bush administration has moved closer toward its goal of establishing long-range anti-missile outposts in Europe, completing basing agreements recently with the Czech Republic and Poland over Russian objections and threats. The earliest that site construction could start is late next year if lawmakers in the United States and the two host countries back the effort.

U.S. talks with the Czech Republic and Poland to host a missile tracking radar and 10 long-range ballistic missile interceptors, respectively, stretch back to at least 2004, although official negotiations began early last year. Concerns about Iran's ballistic missile programs drive the effort, say U.S. officials. Russia, however, sees itself as the target and vigorously denounces the project, warning periodically that the sites, if built, will be in Russia's nuclear crosshairs.

Meeting Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice the day the U.S.-Polish pact was signed, Polish President Lech Kaczynski Aug. 20 expressed optimism that his country's legislators would approve the project. A few weeks earlier, a similar statement likely would have been seen as wishful thinking given that a majority of Poles reportedly opposed the plan, but Polish public opinion shifted after Russian armor and aircraft pounded Georgia beginning Aug. 7.

Although Polish government officials have not drawn a connection, Russia's show of brute force might have been a factor behind Polish and U.S. negotiators reaching a deal on the anti-missile site Aug. 14 after more than 18 months of talks. In an Aug. 17 interview with Fox News, Rice said Russia's actions had stiffened the attitudes of some of its neighbors, citing as one example "Poland, the fact that we are moving forward on missile defense." She also denied any official linkage, stating Aug. 20 "the timing, of course, is simply the timing of when the agreement was completed."

Yet, Michael Wyganowski, a former Polish diplomat who is now executive director of the Washington-based Center for European Policy Analysis, told Arms Control Today Aug. 20 that he saw a "direct correlation" between the U.S.-Polish pact's conclusion and the Russian-Georgian conflict. He contended that the Polish government became more willing to make a deal in order to stay in step with its public's changing mood as Russia pressed its attack.

Prior to the Russian-Georgian fighting, Poland was seeking increased U.S. military assistance and weapons supplies, including shorter-range anti-missile systems, as part of a final agreement. The negotiated deal only commits the United States to establish a consultative mechanism with Poland to discuss its military modernization needs and to deploy to Poland a single Patriot battery, which typically consists of five missile launchers. Patriot interceptors are designed to counter aircraft and short- to medium-range ballistic missiles.

A principal negotiator of the pact, John Rood, the acting U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, told reporters in Warsaw Aug. 20 that the deployment of the U.S. Patriot battery was "significant" because it meant that there would be two U.S. sites on Polish territory. Polish officials have been clear that their interest in hosting U.S. missile interceptors has much less to do with protecting against a possible Iranian missile threat than developing a closer relationship with the United States.

The Czech Republic did not make similar demands as Poland in its negotiations with the United States, enabling an accord to be reached much earlier, on April 3. It was formally signed July 8. Unlike the Polish deal, the text of the Czech agreement has been made public.

The Czech agreement grants the United States exclusive control of the base and operation of all missile defense activities, although the Czech Republic is to be informed "promptly" of any "engagements." Washington is to pay the full cost of building, operating, and maintaining the site. The Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency (MDA) estimates that costs for initially getting both the Czech and Polish bases up and running will be as high as $4 billion.

U.S. personnel at the Czech base are not to exceed 250 in number, and the Czech government will maintain an office with a representative and staff there. The agreement requires Prague's approval of all site visits by non-U.S. foreign personnel. Russia had appealed for permanent liaisons at the proposed U.S. anti-missile sites, but the Czech and Polish governments adamantly objected, recalling their past Cold War histories of unwillingly hosting Soviet forces.

The agreement is scheduled to be submitted to the Czech parliament in September, and a Czech diplomatic source told Arms Control Today Aug.19 that a vote could take place the following month. When Polish lawmakers might vote on the U.S.-Polish accord has not been announced. The two basing pacts are legally-binding executive agreements, but both contain withdrawal clauses that can lead to their termination.

Congress has made Czech and Polish parliamentary approval of their respective agreements a condition for funding Pentagon requests to start building the anti-missile sites. Current law also forbids the Pentagon from spending money to acquire or deploy the 10 interceptors designated for Poland until the secretary of defense certifies that the interceptor model can work, following "successful, operationally realistic flight testing." Although some missile defense proponents in Congress are suggesting that the Russian-Georgian conflict justifies relaxing the conditions to accelerate congressional funding for the deployment, Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), chair of the strategic forces subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, released an Aug. 20 statement that "Congress will continue to insist...that the secretary of defense certifies the system is operationally effective before any funds can be used for acquisition or deployment."

The MDA plans to conduct the first flight test of the interceptor in 2009 and then two target intercept attempts in 2010. The interceptor will be a modified version of the approximately two dozen U.S. strategic interceptors currently deployed in Alaska and California. Since 1999, versions of those interceptors have scored seven hits in 12 attempts, but the Pentagon's weapons testing office assessed earlier this year that those tests have not been "sufficient to provide a high level of statistical confidence in [the system's] limited capabilities."

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), the Democratic nominee for president, has generally said he would support missile defense efforts if they are effective and not too costly. His Republican counterpart,Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), is a strong advocate of missile defense and called the recent U.S.-Polish agreement "an important step."

Posted: December 31, 1969

Georgian Conflict Clouds Future Arms Pacts

Wade Boese

Russia's August military intervention into and diplomatic recognition of two separatist Georgian regions casts doubt not just on their future political status but also that of a pair of already languishing treaties limiting battlefield weapons in Europe.

The fate of the 1999 Adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty for several years has been tied to the presence of hundreds of Russian military "peacekeepers" located in the disputed Georgian provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as well as the separatist region of Transdniestria in Moldova. NATO members have maintained they will not ratify the arms treaty, preventing it from taking effect, until Russia withdraws its forces as it pledged to do when it joined 29 other countries in signing the adapted agreement.

If brought into force, the adapted accord would introduce fresh limits for those countries on their tanks, armored combat vehicles, heavy artillery, combat aircraft, and attack helicopters, replacing similar caps that currently apply from the 1990 CFE Treaty. (See ACT, November 1999. ) Russia last December suspended its participation in the original treaty, faulting NATO members' failure to act on the adapted treaty and their unwillingness to adjust some arms limits to Russia's satisfaction. (See ACT, January/February 2008. )

In the aftermath of Russian-Georgian fighting that erupted Aug. 7 and ended with an Aug. 15 ceasefire, it appears that the Russian contingent in the two Georgian enclaves, whose leaders have declared a permanent break from Georgia, will be larger and more heavily armed than before. For example, Russia allegedly is deploying some land-mobile short-range SS-21 ballistic missiles to South Ossetia. Russian forces also seem to be settling into positions in a so-called security zone as well as other checkpoints in Georgia outside the independence-minded regions.

U.S. officials decried Russia's piecemeal and slow military exit. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking to reporters Aug. 18 while en route to a NATO meeting that saw the 26-member alliance suspend its consultative forum with Russia, said, "[I]t is our very strong view that it didn't take that long for Russian forces to get in [to Georgia]; it really shouldn't take that long for them to get out."

Several present and past U.S. and foreign government officials interviewed in August by Arms Control Today said the Georgian situation does not bode well for the Adapted CFE Treaty. Jeffrey McCausland, a former director for defense policy and arms control on the National Security Council, said Aug. 15 that the recent conflict and its aftermath put the accord into a "deep freeze." The other current and ex-officials, many who asked not to be identified, voiced similar or starker assessments.

McCausland argued it will be "difficult" for some time to try and bring the adapted treaty into force because the leaders of NATO in general and the leaders of Georgia and Russia in particular are going to be more reluctant to "make major concessions" or "back down" with no agreed settlement on the contested Georgian territories. The Kremlin's Aug. 26 recognition of the two regions' claimed independence likely will further all sides taking harder lines. Another former senior U.S. official familiar with CFE Treaty matters told Arms Control Today Aug. 14 that it was "unlikely" any countries would soon "go full bore with clever diplomatic solutions" to move ahead on the Adapted CFE Treaty.

During the past several months, NATO had proposed to Russia that some alliance members would begin their national ratification processes of the adapted treaty in parallel with Russian troop withdrawals out of the breakaway regions in Georgia and Moldova, in contrast to conditioning ratification on the completion of the pullouts. (See ACT, May 2008. ) Only Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia have completed ratification of the adapted agreement.

Moscow for many years has pressed NATO capitals to follow suit and bring the revised treaty into force because it imposes more lenient limits on Russia's weaponry deployed in its Caucasus region and contains an accession clause, unlike the original treaty, that enables additional countries to adopt weapons ceilings. Former Soviet republics Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are NATO members but are not party to the original CFE Treaty, meaning they have no current arms limits, which Russia says is unacceptable.

The past and current U.S. officials generally agreed that Russia was not thinking about the Adapted CFE Treaty when it ordered its forces into Georgia to respond to what Russia claims were Georgian provocations. Instead, McCausland argued, Moscow's priority was sending a message to Georgia, other Russian neighbors, and NATO about Russia's determination to preserve what it sees as its traditional sphere of influence. Severely criticized by Russia, NATO in April declared its intentions to eventually invite Georgia and Ukraine to become members. (See ACT, May 2008. ) NATO Aug. 19 reaffirmed that goal.

Just as the Adapted CFE Treaty's fate most likely was not at the forefront of Russian concerns when it initiated its military foray, the treaty's future will not be that high on any country's agenda very soon, speculated most of the officials interviewed by Arms Control Today. Michael Wyganowski, a former Polish diplomat who headed his country's delegation to CFE Treaty meetings in 1999, noted Aug. 20 that the accord was being relegated further to the sidelines by a conflict that actually underscored the importance of limiting conventional arms holdings.

The former senior U.S. official said that, in the near term, governments will have to think on a strategic level about the new period of relations Europe, Russia, and the United States appear to be entering. The official dismissed the notion that it might be a "return to the Cold War" but also contended that the assumption by many of the past two decades of a "benign European security environment" had to be questioned.

At a tactical level, some government officials of NATO members say the Georgian conflict might lead alliance members to discuss sooner than expected scaling back their implementation of the original CFE Treaty. When Russia started refusing inspections and halting treaty information exchanges and notifications as part of its suspension of the agreement, NATO members said they would continue to fulfill their treaty obligations but warned that they might stop if Russia failed to reverse course. Moscow has yet to revive its participation or give any indication that it plans to do so.

Foreign governments and international monitors are still trying to sort out how many Russian forces took part in the Georgian operation and where they were originally based. If Russia had been implementing the original CFE Treaty at the time, it is unlikely the amount of heavy weapons systems involved would have required treaty notifications on Moscow's behalf because of the presumed temporary nature of the deployments. The adapted treaty, however, includes more rigorous requirements on notifications regarding weapons-levels changes or transit and, if it had been in force, likely would have obligated Russia to share more information on its military movements before and during the Georgian conflict.

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Posted: December 31, 1969

Rethink European Missile Defense

Within weeks of entering office, the next U.S. president will be confronted with dozens of pivotal choices. One of the most important will be whether to install untested missile defenses in eastern Europe to deal with an Iranian missile threat that does not exist.

The decision should be easy. Deployment should be deferred until the system is proven effective in realistic tests, allies are on board, and a new agreement with Russia delineates the size and capability of strategic missile defenses. (Continue)

Daryl G. Kimball

Within weeks of entering office, the next U.S. president will be confronted with dozens of pivotal choices. One of the most important will be whether to install untested missile defenses in eastern Europe to deal with an Iranian missile threat that does not exist.

The decision should be easy. Deployment should be deferred until the system is proven effective in realistic tests, allies are on board, and a new agreement with Russia delineates the size and capability of strategic missile defenses.

Yet, after years of partisan posturing on missiles and missile defense, few decisions on the subject have been rational or easy. For more than a decade, proponents of missile defense have hyped the threat of long-range missiles from the likes of Iran and North Korea and pushed for anti-missile systems that are not ready for prime time.

For instance, in 1998 an influential commission chaired by Donald Rumsfeld dismissed earlier intelligence findings and warned that any nation with a well-developed, Scud-based missile infrastructure would be able to flight-test a long-range missile within five years. A decade later, neither Iran nor North Korea have successfully flight-tested intermediate-range or long-range missiles.

Rumsfeld’s report spurred missile defense acolytes to argue that testing and development of strategic missile defenses should no longer be constrained by the U.S.-Russian Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Over Russian objections, Bush withdrew from the treaty in 2002. Since then, the administration has poured roughly $8 billion a year into the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency, conducted limited testing, and rushed a handful of ground-based strategic interceptors into Alaska and California ahead of the 2004 election.

In 2007 the administration announced plans for a new ground-based, long-range anti-missile system in Europe. It wants 10 interceptors in Poland and a new radar in the Czech Republic by around 2011. In response to sharp objections from Moscow, Bush has said the deployment is not intended to counter Russia and would be limited. Leaders in Moscow remain unconvinced, and Congress has withheld full funding until the interceptors can be proven to be effective and the host countries approve basing agreements.

Like Bush, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain enthusiastically supports missile defense as a way to guard against rogue-state “blackmail.” He has gone even further and asserted that missile defenses also serve “to hedge against potential threats from strategic competitors like Russia and China.” The presumptive Democratic nominee, Sen. Barack Obama, has voiced doubts about the effectiveness of strategic anti-missile systems and called for a greater emphasis on more capable short- and medium-range interceptors. Neither has addressed the European missile defense issue directly.

No matter who enters the White House, a course correction on the European component of missile defense policy is in order. If it is not already clear, the next president will soon realize that the case presented for the system simply does not stand up.

Although intelligence assessments suggest that Iran’s nuclear program requires urgent diplomatic action, it is not predicted to have a long-range missile capability until 2015 or later. Even if Iran were to acquire and threaten the United States or its allies with nuclear-armed missiles, such aggression could be deterred by other means.

The new president also will learn that strategic missile defenses cannot be relied on to protect in a real-world crisis. The new, two-stage interceptor for the European site has not yet been built, let alone tested. An October report from the Pentagon’s Office of Operational Test and Evaluation recommends at least three flights tests, a process that could not even begin until 2009 and would take several years to complete.

Meanwhile, the Polish government is demanding that the United States pay for costly upgrades to Polish air- and short-range missile defenses to counter Russian targeting of the proposed anti-missile site. Although other NATO allies have agreed to discuss the U.S. missile defense proposal, many are skeptical and have not endorsed it.

An open-ended deployment made over Moscow’s objections would also seriously impede work with Russia on a range of other vitally important issues, including strategic arms reductions, the prevention of nuclear terrorism, and curbing Iran’s nuclear program. Instead of choosing this path, the next administration should take the time needed to reach a new agreement with Russia for missile defense cooperation and avoid renewed strategic conflict. The key will be to agree to firm limits on the number of strategic missile interceptors that might be deployed in eastern Europe and elsewhere, as well as to complete a long-delayed joint early-warning center to build confidence and avoid miscalculation.

After decades of spending, ambitious timetables, and overstated threat warnings, it is past time to restore reason to missile defense policy by deferring deployment of a new anti-missile site on Russia’s border that is unnecessary and imprudent.

Posted: December 31, 1969

The EU’s Nonproliferation Efforts: Limited Success

Oliver Meier

In 2003, European states, shaken by their inability to unite around a common strategy toward Iraq, determined to forge a common and independent approach to dealing with proliferation threats.[1] Five years later, the EU's hopes of being an independent power broker on arms control and nonproliferation issues have only been partially realized, with both external pressures and internal fissures and constraints limiting Brussels' heft on the international stage.

In October 2003, the foreign ministers of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom ignored protests from the United States and reached an agreement with Iran to work toward a resolution of the crisis regarding Tehran's nuclear program. In December of that year, European Union (EU) member states adopted the European Security Strategy (ESS) and the associated EU Strategy Against Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, which called for effective policies to strengthen multilateral regimes and to address the root causes of instability and proliferation in cooperation with the United States and other key partners. 

Since 2003, the EU has played a leading role in the ongoing effort to curb Iran's uranium-enrichment program, but its ability to make progress has been limited by the recalcitrance of Iran and the United States, and its negotiating role has been eclipsed at times by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Russia. Internal fissures, including differences between nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon states and the failure to approve an EU constitution, have limited Brussels' ability to carve out an independent stance on such issues as missile defense, nuclear disarmament, and the future of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

To be sure, leadership change in the United States and the streamlining of the EU's foreign policy bureaucracy offer the prospect that Brussels in the next few years could come closer to the goals the EU set for itself five years ago. Yet, given the experience of the past five years, there is widespread skepticism that these opportunities will be seized.

Iran

In October 2003, more than a year after Iran's clandestine nuclear program was publicly revealed, the foreign ministers of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom (the so-called EU-3) negotiated a deal with Iran in which Tehran vowed to declare past nuclear activities and promised improved cooperation with the IAEA. In return, the EU-3 prevented referral of Iran to the UN Security Council, which Washington supported. In November 2004, Iran and the EU-3 signed the Paris agreement, in which Iran pledged to voluntarily suspend enrichment-related and reprocessing activities until a long-term agreement had been worked out. Although Washington continued to discourage negotiations between the European states and Iran, the move deflated U.S. pressure for a Security Council referral.

As the war in Iraq increasingly commanded U.S. political attention, Washington's opposition toward EU negotiations became less pronounced. After President George W. Bush traveled to Europe in February 2005, Washington for the first time backed some incentives offered by Europe to Iran, such as support for Iran's membership in the World Trade Organization and the supply of spare parts for civil aircraft if Iran were to halt its enrichment program and other fuel cycle-related activities. Yet, at nearly the same time that Washington was relaxing its pressure, Iranian attitudes began to harden, particularly following the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iranian president in August 2005.

Since that election, the EU has sought to keep the negotiating process alive. In June 2006, the EU-3 plus China, Russia, and the United States (the "EU-3+3") offered a new package of incentives to Iran.[2] The offer came after Iran had resumed certain nuclear activities and the UN Security Council for the first time had imposed sanctions on Iran, in February 2006.

Throughout this period, EU officials have sought to maintain a united stance against what they see as Iranian efforts to chip away at these sanctions without giving up its nuclear ambitions. Since last fall, Iran has carried out a work program with the IAEA to address some of the past questions that had raised international concerns about whether it truly intended its nuclear facilities for peaceful purposes. Yet, Tehran has still moved forward with its uranium-enrichment program, despite calls from the Security Council to suspend it.

The IAEA's efforts have drawn criticism from European diplomats who fear that agency director-general Mohamed ElBaradei would allow the Iranians to sidestep the UN sanctions and the EU-3+3 negotiations and issue Iran a clean bill of health. A senior official from an EU member state on April 14 argued that it was not possible "to close Iran's nuclear file" even if the program of work agreed between the agency and Iran is completed. He said that, in addition to resolving questions related to past Iranian activities, it was also necessary to build confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's current nuclear program.[3]

European officials also have said that the recent U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) did not justify backing away from UN sanctions. In December 2007, a U.S. NIE concluded that Iran had halted its nuclear weaponization efforts by 2003, further undermining the hard-line approach taken by the Bush administration. In response to a parliamentary inquiry on the NIE launched by the Green Party in the Bundestag, the German government on January 10 maintained that the NIE had "confirmed the international community's justified doubts about the peaceful character of the Iranian nuclear program" and simply refused to answer any questions about the validity of the NIE's findings, citing confidentiality concerns.[4]

An EU official explained that the EU is now pursuing a dual-track approach for Iran. "The first one-pressure through sanctions and readiness to start negotiations-is aimed at convincing Iran to stop its controversial nuclear activities. The second one is aimed at keeping [the] unity of the EU-3+3."[5]

Some EU members, particularly France, have called for the union to take more aggressive measures on its own. In September, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said "We have to prepare for the worst, and the worst is war."[6] Kouchner also called for tougher EU sanctions above and beyond those agreed to by the UN Security Council. His calls have met with little support, with Europeans opting to follow the German preference for a gradual increase of pressure through the adoption of moderate and reversible UN Security Council sanctions.

With presidential elections in the United States in November 2008 and in Iran in 2009 ahead, European efforts to resolve the nuclear crisis in Iran are effectively in suspension.

After the last direct contact with Iranian lead nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili on November 30, 2007, Javier Solana, the EU's high representative on foreign policy, stated his disappointment. "I had expected more from the talks with the Iranian delegation."[7] According to Iranian statements, both sides have not been in contact since then. On March 16, Solana was quoted by the Chinese news agency Xinhua that a next meeting might take place in "30 days to 90 days."[8]

The EU official also said that an improved package of incentives to be offered to Iran now under consideration is aimed only partly at kick-starting negotiations and also has to be seen against the background of keeping the EU-3+3 unity. "This is more a matter of presentation than of substance," he explained.

Despite the lack of success in convincing Iran to limit its nuclear program, some decision-makers judge the EU's effort at resolving the nuclear crisis as a success. "It is true, we have not been able to convince Iran to improve international confidence by suspending critical nuclear activities" the EU official stated. "However, after initially being skeptical of Europe's involvement, Washington is now fully supportive of a negotiated agreement along the lines proposed by the EU," he argued.

Grzegorz M. Poznanski, deputy director of the Department for Security Policy at the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, concurred on April 17. "The EU involvement in the talks with Iran is an example for the union's ambition to become involved in big issues and [that it] has the teeth to do just that," he said. "This is not the EU's fault that there has been no success so far in resolving the nuclear crisis with Iran."[9]

EU Versus NATO

For most Europeans, NATO is responsible for their collective defense, although the EU has increasingly expressed a desire for greater autonomy on defense issues since 1999. Thus, the EU is now in charge of several peacekeeping operations, and institutionally the European Defense Agency is supposed to oversee and coordinate procurement of military hardware.

Despite these aspirations and in spite of the fact that it will have a serious impact on European security, the EU has remained all but mum on a recent headline issue: the planned deployment of U.S. missile defense facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic. The issue has instead been left to NATO, where differences between Europeans persist. Although some countries call for a stronger link to NATO or even an integration of U.S. missile defense capabilities into an alliance-wide defense, Warsaw and Prague have so far not been willing to give other NATO members a say on the timing, scope, and content of bilateral agreements under negotiation with Washington. That dispute was not resolved at the April 2-4 NATO summit in Bucharest, which gave basic support for a missile defense system but left details to be resolved.

Early on, Solana, who had been head of NATO before becoming the EU's foreign policy chief, decided that the EU should not become involved in the issue. Initially, Solana argued that the EU lacked the capability to develop its own missile defense system and therefore was not able to take a position on the bilateral agreements under negotiation between the United States and two EU member states. On April 3, Solana presented the Romanian newspaper Adevarul with another reason for European lack of action by stating that, "under the Treaty of the European Union, the EU is developing a foreign and security policy which does not extend for the time being to territorial defense. This aspect falls under national responsibility and, for some of our member states, this means through NATO."[10]

The senior official from an EU member state backed Solana by arguing for a pragmatic course of action. "When thinking about whether to discuss an arms control issue in the EU or in NATO, you have to consider where you can make most progress," he cautioned. "On missile defense, little would be gained by raising the issue in the EU."

Ondrej Liska, deputy chairman for foreign affairs of the Green Party, who is the junior partner in the Czech government, offered a different view. "There are provisions in the Treaty on the EU that could have been used to initiate such a debate [on missile defense,] but the member states have not found the courage and the will to get rid of their old protective mentalities," he wrote.[11] Liska argued that "the U.S. intentions are to have lasting and profound impacts on the foreign and security policy of the EU."

Early attempts to explore possibilities for a joint position on missile defense within the EU apparently did not get very far. Poznanski said that "Poland has informed its European partners about its plans concerning missile defense, both bilaterally, and ad hoc in the EU Council, when EU partners have requested such briefings." To date, the EU Council has not taken a stance on the issue.

Privately, EU officials admit that the EU could have played a more active role on missile defense, and some argue it should have been more assertive. Concerns about the lack of official EU involvement are also widespread among members of the European Parliament. Karl von Wogau, Conservative chairman of the European Parliament's Security and Defense Subcommittee, argued that it would have been "desirable" if the planned deployment of missile defense components in the Czech Republic and Poland "would have been agreed at the European level."[12]

The debate is taking place against renewed fears that Europe might once again find itself in the uncomfortable middle between Russia and the United States. Wogau points out that the European Parliament wants to ensure that "Europe is not separated into zones with different levels of security." Wogau argues that NATO "has to take into account specific European security interests" in setting up a future missile defense system's infrastructure and command structure. He believes that NATO has now accepted this point of view because the communiqué of the April 2-4 Bucharest summit reaffirms "the principle of the indivisibility of Allied security as well as NATO solidarity."[13]

Asked about the dangers of renewed conflict between the East and West in Europe, Poznanski replied that he does not believe "that there is a possibility of going back to the Cold War in Europe. There are several institutionalized dialogues on strategic issues taking place between the EU, Russia, and the United States, including the NATO-Russia dialogue. The EU can play an important role as a partner to both the United States and Russia. This should be seen as an opportunity to be seized, rather than as a risk to be faced."

The EU's lack of a coherent position on missile defense is lamented by many, but its silence on another key European security crisis, Russia's suspension of the 1990 Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), is widely accepted. Solana has repeatedly called the CFE Treaty a "cornerstone of European security," but the treaty's demise has not been an issue for the EU as a whole,[14] primarily because NATO has historically coordinated its member states' positions on conventional arms control. Thus, a French diplomat highlighted the fact that the EU "is at an disadvantage" vis-à-vis NATO because the alliance has a long track record of dealing with issues such as the CFE Treaty and missile defense.[15]

Nuclear Disarmament

With review conferences on the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions recently concluded, the next diplomatic nonproliferation challenge for the EU will be to develop a strong common position for the 2010 NPT Review Conference. Common positions are binding agreements adopted by the EU Council and designed to make cooperation more systematic and improve its coordination.

Many EU officials remain concerned about the stalemate on strategic nuclear arms control between Russia and the United States. In a statement to the European Parliament on April 8, Solana warned of "the difficulties that we may be facing in 2009 and 2010 when all the major agreements on disarmament will come up for renewal." The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) will expire at the end of next year and the NPT review conference will take place just a few months later. Solana stated that "it will be important for the EU and its citizens to have the possibility of avoiding a vacuum between now and then" and urged the United States and Russia to "renew" START and reaffirm past unilateral pledges on nuclear disarmament, which he described as "fundamental pillars of our strategic security."[16]

Hopes for a more active EU arms control policy have been fueled by recent British and French statements on nuclear disarmament. Each country continues to modernize its nuclear arsenal but both recently announced cuts in their numbers of operational warheads. The French diplomat insisted that President Nicolas Sarkozy in his March 21 speech on nuclear deterrence had made "unprecedented gestures" for a nuclear-weapon state, for example by publicly announcing that the fact the force de frappe now maintains fewer than 300 nuclear warheads. He called the nuclear disarmament section of the speech "innovative."[17]

The United Kingdom recently announced a 20 percent cut in the number of operational warheads, and unusual for any nuclear-weapon state, British Defense Secretary Des Brown in a statement before the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament on February 5 recognized that nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation are connected, implying that continued reliance on nuclear deterrence may fuel proliferation.[18]

EU officials express caution about the significance of the shifts in British and French nuclear policies. The EU official described the two countries' statements in favor of progress on nuclear disarmament as helpful but warned that "it is too early to tell" whether they reflect a substantive shift, enabling a more proactive EU policy on some nuclear arms control issues. Poznanski pointed out that the United Kingdom's position on nuclear disarmament is "not surprising" because its work on nuclear arms control verification "has been going on for several years." He also stated that there is "a possibility of a French change of mood on nuclear arms control. This would potentially raise the lowest common denominator on nuclear arms control in the EU, especially in the light of 2010 NPT Review Conference."

The EU also has a problem in forging common positions on other issues on the nuclear nonproliferation agenda, such as the U.S.-Indian nuclear deal. Annalisa Giannella, Solana's personal representative on nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), has repeatedly warned that preferential treatment for India will undermine the EU's efforts to bring third countries to accept and implement tougher export control standards. Giannella has also voiced concerns about the deal's overall impact on the nonproliferation regime. Thus, she stated at a conference in Madrid in November that "only when solutions are discussed and agreed in a multilateral framework [are they] felt as legitimate and have a chance to be fully respected." Giannella went on to state that this is why "the nuclear deal with India has raised and continues to raise so many questions from the point of view of the credibility of the NPT. We have here a case where a country is rewarded without adhering to all the rules subscribed by the vast majority."[19]

These isolated warnings, however, do not necessarily reflect the consensus among member states. The EU official conceded that early attempts to develop a joint position among the 27 EU members on the U.S.-Indian nuclear deal have not been conclusive so far and have been abandoned because of significant differences among member states.

Nuclear-weapon states France and the United Kingdom openly support the agreement while many other EU members remain opposed.

The development of a coherent European position on the spread of proliferation-sensitive technologies is also complicated by France's desire to boost exports from its powerful nuclear industry, particularly to the Middle East. Since Sarkozy was elected president in May 2007, Paris has concluded bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements with Algeria, Libya, and the United Arab Emirates and is preparing such agreements with Jordan, Morocco, and Qatar. No attempt has apparently been made to coordinate these potentially proliferation-sensitive sales through the EU. For this, France has been criticized by one of its closest partners, Germany. Asked about Sarkozy's policy to promote nuclear energy exports to the Middle East, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung December 17, 2007, that he "cannot recommend to view nuclear energy as the solution to the world's energy problems and to spread nuclear reactor across the world and in regions where there is no guarantee that this technology will be handled competently and where no sufficient certainty exists regarding political stability."[20]

Different interests and backgrounds complicate the creation of a united EU position on the multilateralization of nuclear fuel cycle activities. Officially, the EU supports efforts to establish safe fuel-supply mechanisms that fulfill four criteria. According to a joint EU paper submitted to the 2007 NPT Preparatory Committee, these factors should be proliferation resistance, assurance of supply, a balance of rights and obligations, and market neutrality.[21] In reality, member states have now put forward a variety of proposals that are not necessarily complementary. Thus, the four supplier states, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, initially all supported the six-nation Concept for a Multilateral Mechanism for Reliable Access to Nuclear Fuel, submitted in June 2006.[22]

Germany, which has a national policy of phasing out nuclear energy, also has submitted its own proposal on a "Multilateral Enrichment Sanctuary Project," which calls for the establishment of a new enrichment facility in a special area under control of the IAEA.[23] Notably, Germany is the only nuclear fuel supplier that is not a partner country of the U.S. Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, which some in Berlin view as not sufficiently taking into account the interests of potential recipient states.

Austria, which is not using nuclear energy for electricity production, also has introduced its own proposal on a gradual multilateralization of the nuclear fuel cycle, and the United Kingdom is pursuing its idea of issuing "enrichment bonds" as a means of guaranteeing enrichment services.[24]

Technical Support for Nonproliferation

Because progress on many major arms control issues has largely eluded the EU, it has shifted attention to other topics, such as monetary support for international arms control bureaucracies, strengthening of export control regimes, and better national implementation of nonproliferation commitments.

Since the European Security Strategy was adopted, the EU has adopted a dozen joint actions to support multilateral regimes and institutions involved in tackling nonproliferation and disarmament issues, including the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the Biological Weapons Convention, and the 1540 Committee. Joint actions are coordinated actions by EU member states involving the mobilization of resources in order to attain specific objectives set by the EU Council.

Most recently, it adopted two such actions on April 14, one giving 7.7 million euros to support the IAEA's work on nuclear security and verification and one appropriating 2.1 million euros to support the World Health Organization's biosafety and biosecurity programs. The bulk of European nonproliferation funding still goes toward Global Partnership programs, aimed at dismantling and securing the WMD legacy in Russia and other post-Soviet states. In addition to pledges by member states, the EU has promised $1.4 billion toward the Global Partnership. Yet, some member states, particularly France and Italy, have been slow in implementing their pledges.[25]

In other cases, EU nonproliferation goals sound ambitious but get bogged down in bureaucratic infighting. EU arms control policies have long been hampered by competition between the European Commission (the executive body and main bureaucracy of the EU) and the Council of the European Union, which includes individual representatives from each of the EU member states.

For example, the EU Council in December 2006 endorsed a concept paper written by Giannella in cooperation with the European Commission on the creation of a Weapons of Mass Destruction Monitoring Center. The goal was to establish a cooperative working method for the EU Council Secretariat, the European Commission, and member states "to work together and ensure better synergy in the fight against the proliferation" of weapons of mass destruction, according to the EU's website.[26] Yet, a WMD center still does not exist, and the idea seems not to have moved beyond discussions on the issue. As Poznanski explains, "Reaching agreement on some of the big, strategic issues is not so easy when you work on the basis of the lowest common denominator, as we do in the EU. Therefore, the focus of the EU nonproliferation and arms control policies is often more on technical issues, where agreement can be reached more easily."

What Impact Will the Lisbon Treaty Have?

So far, the EU's ambition to become a more effective global actor on nonproliferation and arms control has been only partly realized. As the senior official from an EU member state admitted, "The EU's room [to] maneuver is limited on issues where member states' positions are too far apart, such as missile defense and the planned nuclear cooperation agreement between the United States and India." Nonetheless, an institutional streamlining of the EU's foreign policy, a possible reassessment of its arms control goals, and a redefinition of its relationship with NATO may all lead to a more energetic EU approach to arms control and nonproliferation issues in the future.

Progress on urgently needed institutional reforms was delayed for several years by the 2005 failure of an effort to win approval from some member states for a constitutional treaty that would have strengthened the union's foreign and security policy apparatus. The December 2007 Lisbon Treaty, which copies most of the constitution's provisions on foreign and security policy issues, could help make the EU's foreign policy more efficient and effective. That treaty still must be ratified by most EU member states but is expected to enter into force as early as January 1, 2009. Among the most visible changes in the foreign policy sphere will be the new posts of EU president, to be elected for two and a half years, and high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, effectively the union's foreign minister. The high representative will be "double-hatted," meaning that he or she will act in personal union as vice president of the European Commission and as the EU Council's representative on foreign policy, a potentially difficult combination. "This will be a mission impossible," the EU official warned.

The future role of the high representative will likely depend on his or her personality as well as interaction with the EU president. Potentially, the high representative could take the lead in representing EU member states collectively in arms control negotiations, such as in the talks with Iran.

According to press reports, Solana will continue to serve as high representative at least during an interim period when the Lisbon Treaty is being put into practice, which some say could last from months to a few years.[27]

Another novelty under the Lisbon Treaty is the European External Action Service (EEAS), which will consist of EU Council and European Commission staff as well as diplomats seconded from member states. The EEAS will assist the high representative but potentially also represent the EU as a whole abroad and in international organizations, including nonproliferation regimes. Although many details of the service's funding, role, and composition remain to be worked out, it is likely to create at least some bureaucratic pressure toward a more coherent EU foreign and security policy. An early indication of the bureaucratic hurdles to be overcome is the fact that the European Council Secretariat and the European Commission are preparing separate proposals on the EEAS. Implementation of the Lisbon Treaty will also help to consolidate the complex EU funding structure on arms control and nonproliferation, although the European Commission and the EU Council will continue to operate separate budgets.

Meanwhile, some unlikely connections appear between entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty and arms control. Liska indicated that there have been signals from elements of the Czech Conservative coalition party that it would link ratification of the Lisbon Treaty to the ratification of the bilateral agreement between Washington and Prague on the construction of a missile defense radar site. "I personally would consider that as a form of unacceptable blackmail," Liska said.

A New Security Strategy?

Against the background of the upcoming fifth anniversary of the ESS, EU member states are currently considering whether to update Europe's security strategy. The idea of revising the ESS had originally been put forward in August 2007 by Sarkozy, who wanted to push for a "bolder" EU.[28] On December 14, 2007, the EU Council asked Solana "to examine the implementation of the [ESS] with a view to proposing elements on how to improve the implementation and, as appropriate, elements to complement it, for adoption by the European Council in December 2008."[29]

That process, which could likely result in an annex to the ESS, is ongoing. According to the EU official, several proposals have been floated following Sarkozy's statement, but member states have not formally agreed on any specific course of action. The official also stated that no concrete preparations are currently taking place for an updated WMD strategy. Decisions on a revision of an ESS, including a possible update of the WMD strategy, are likely to be taken under the French EU presidency during the second half of 2008.

Several decision-makers support such a review, echoing the point made by Poznanski that "a review or an update of the [ESS] might be opportune because we will have a new institutional setting for the EU's Common Foreign and Security Strategy after the Lisbon Treaty comes into force, with the new position of high representative for foreign affairs and security policy and the [EEAS]." Such a review, however, may not necessarily lead to a more ambitious text. The senior official cautioned that a revision may not be in the interest of those that support the goals in the ESS because discussions may not result in a more ambitious document.

A New Division of Labor With NATO?

The EU's role on arms control issues will also be influenced by the future division of labor between NATO and EU. The relation between the two Brussels-based organizations on foreign and defense issues has always been competitive. A new push to realign the two institutions may be facilitated by the intention of the French government to rejoin NATO's integrated military structure. Given the interest of some within NATO to give the alliance a stronger role in nonproliferation and counterproliferation issues, such a development may also force the EU to reassert its role on nonproliferation and arms control issues.

So far, attempts to raise NATO's arms control profile seem not to have borne fruit. On December 7, Steinmeier and his Norwegian counterpart Jonas Gahr Støre called in a bilateral statement for NATO countries "to do more for disarmament."[30] In reaction, the NATO council launched a review, of which the Bucharest summit took note. Yet, NATO leaders merely tasked the NATO council to keep the alliance's contribution to arms control, disarmament, and nonproliferation "under active review."[31] The goal apparently is to prepare another report on arms control for NATO's 60th anniversary summit next year.

During that summit, NATO is also expected to launch a long-planned review of its 1999 Strategic Concept. A new Strategic Concept would have to address the role of nuclear deterrence in alliance strategy, a topic with implications also for European nonproliferation policies. Not only would the two European nuclear-weapon states have to be part of such an agreement, the United States still deploys nuclear weapons in three EU non-nuclear-weapon states-Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. Liska argues that this is an issue where Europe should act. "The EU should go ahead with disarmament initiatives even alone and set an example to the rest of the world," he said. "It should negotiate the withdrawal of U.S. nuclear weapons from its territory and start reducing its own arsenal."

In the end, Europe's ability to become a more effective actor on nonproliferation and disarmament will depend first on overcoming internal divisions and reducing the role of nuclear deterrence. Second, the EU will have to develop joint arms control agendas with Russia and most importantly with the United States. As a new administration takes over in Washington, the old diplomatic chestnut that the EU will have to become more effective and the United States more multilateral will gain new urgency.

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Oliver Meier is the Arms Control Association's international representative and correspondent based in Berlin and a researcher with the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg.


ENDNOTES

1. See Oliver Meier and Gerrard Quille, "Testing Time for Europe's Nonproliferation Strategy," Arms Control Today, May 2005, pp. 4-12.

2. In the EU-3+3 talks, negotiators representing the EU's three largest countries (France, Germany, and the United Kingdom) plus the EU's high representative on foreign policy have been negotiating on behalf of the EU together with permanent Security Council members China, Russia, and the United States.

3. Senior official from an EU member state, telephone interview with author, April 14, 2008.

4. "U.S.-Geheimdienstbericht zum iranischen Atomprogramm," Antwort der Bundesregierung auf die Kleine Anfrage der Fraktion BÜNDNIS90/Die Grünen, Printed matter 16/7702, January 10, 2008.

5. EU official, telephone interview with author, April 14, 2008.

6. "France Warning of War with Iran," BBC News, September 17, 2007, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6997935.stm.

7. "Brief Remarks by Javier Solana," European Council Press Release S348/07, November 30, 2007.

8. "Solana Hopes to Meet Iranian Negotiator for Talks," Xinhua, March 16, 2008.

9. Grzegorz M. Poznanski, telephone interview with author, April 17, 2008.

10. "HR Solana Interview for Adevarul," April 3, 2008, www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/en/sghr_int/99717.pdf.

11. Ondrej Liska, e-mail communication with author, April 22, 2008.

12. Karl von Wogau, e-mail communication with author, April 16, 2008.

13. "Bucharest Summit Declaration," NATO Press Release 2008(049), April 3, 2008.

14. See, for example, "Speech by Javier Solana at the 44th Munich Conference on Security Policy," Munich, February 10, 2008.

15. French diplomat, interview with author, April 4, 2008.

16. "Address by Javier Solana," Council of the European Union, S129/08, April 8, 2008.

17. "Speech by Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic at the Presentation of Le Terrible in Cherbourg," March 21, 2008.

18. Des Browne, "Laying the Foundations for Multilateral Disarmament," Speech at the Conference on Disarmament, Geneva, February 5, 2008.

19. "EU Aide Worried by Calls to Drop India WMD Clause," Reuters, March 2, 2007; Council of the European Union, "Speech by Mrs. Annalisa Giannella at a Seminar on Nuclear Proliferation," Madrid, November 6, 2007.

20. "Das deutsch-französische Verhältnis pflegen wir nicht aus bloßer Tradition," Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, December 17, 2007 (interview with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier).

21. Preparatory Committee for the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, "Multilateralization of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle/Guarantees of Access to the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy," NPT/CONF.2010/PC.I/WP.61, May 9, 2007.

22. "Communication Dated 31 May 2006 Received from the Permanent Missions of France, Germany, the Netherlands, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America," IAEA, GOV/INF/2006/10, June 1, 2006.

23. "Communication Received from the Resident Representative of Germany to the IAEA With Regard to the German Proposal on the Multilateralization of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle," IAEA, INFCIRC/704, May 4, 2007.

24. Oliver Meier, "News Analysis: The Growing Nuclear Fuel-Cycle Debate," Arms Control Today, November 2006, pp. 40-44.

25. See Paul Walker, "Looking Back: Kananaskis at Five," Arms Control Today, September 2007, pp. 47-52.

26. "EU Strategy Against the Proliferation of WMD," Council of the European Union, 16694/06, December 12, 2006.

27. See Mark Beunderman, "EU Faces Raft of Open Questions Over Diplomatic Service," EUobserver.com, November 27, 2007.

28. John Thornhill, "Sarkozy in Drive to Give EU Global Role," FT.com, August 28, 2007.

29. "Brussels European Council 14 December 2007 Presidency Conclusions," Council of the European Union, 16616/1/07 REV 1, February 14, 2008.

30. "Germany and Norway Call for NATO Disarmament Initiative," Federal Foreign Office Press Release, Berlin, December 7, 2007.

31. "Bucharest Summit Declaration."

 

Posted: December 31, 1969

France Upgrades, Trims Nuclear Arsenal

Wade Boese

Showcasing France’s newest nuclear-armed submarine March 21, French President Nicolas Sarkozy extolled the enduring value of nuclear weapons to his country’s security while he also vowed to reduce their numbers. The French president further called on other states to dismantle their nuclear weapons testing facilities and forswear certain missiles.

Sarkozy, elected last May, delivered his first major speech on France’s nuclear weapons and nuclear policy at the Cherbourg shipyard where the country’s newest ballistic missile submarine, Le Terrible, was on display. That vessel is the fourth of the Le Triomphant-class and is scheduled to be commissioned in 2010 and armed with France’s newest ballistic missile, the M51.1. The submarine will carry 16 of the missiles, which have an estimated range of at least 6,000 kilometers and are capable of carrying six nuclear warheads.

Sarkozy noted that the addition of Le Terrible and the M51.1 ballistic missile, which will be retrofitted on the other three Le Triomphant­-class submarines, is only part of France’s effort to modernize its nuclear forces. He also said that the Rafale combat aircraft this year will start carrying the upgraded, nuclear-armed ASMP-A cruise missile. The Rafale is replacing the Mirage 2000N and Super Étendard as France’s nuclear delivery aircraft. France previously eliminated all of its ground-launched nuclear-weapon systems.

Nonetheless, Sarkozy announced that France would reduce its force of air-delivered nuclear warheads by one-third. He said the move would lower the overall French stockpile to less than 300 warheads, a total that Sarkozy said was “half of the maximum number of warheads we had during the Cold War.” Although nuclear-armed states jealously guard details about their arsenals, public estimates suggest France would still field the third-largest nuclear arsenal behind Russia and the United States, which both possess several thousand nuclear warheads.

Although declining in numbers, Sarkozy emphasized that French nuclear weapons were not diminishing in importance. He described the weapons as the “ultimate guarantee” of France’s independence and “decision-making autonomy.”

After singling out Iran as a growing threat, Sarkozy warned that “all those who would threaten our vital interests would expose themselves to severe retaliation.” He also claimed a European role for France’s nuclear weapons, declaring, “By their very existence, French nuclear forces are a key element in Europe’s security. Any aggressor who might consider challenging it must be mindful of this.” Sarkozy’s predecessor, Jacques Chirac, in a similar 2006 address had invited other European states to discuss a “common [European] defense that would take into account…existing deterrent forces.” (See ACT, March 2006 .) There was little response.

Sarkozy indicated a decision to use nuclear weapons would not be taken lightly. He argued French nuclear weapons were “strictly defensive” and that their use “would clearly be conceivable only in extreme circumstances of legitimate defense.”

Turning to other nuclear-armed powers, Sarkozy urged them to follow France’s lead by dismantling their nuclear weapons testing facilities. He also specifically called on China and the United States to ratify the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which the two countries have signed. France in April 1998 ratified that accord, which outlaws nuclear explosions, and three months later completed dismantlement of its nuclear testing center.

Sarkozy also asked China, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States to join France in “transparency measures.” He did not specify what those measures were, but he invited foreign experts to verify the dismantlement of France’s two military fissile material production plants, Pierrelatte and Marcoule. In 1996, France announced it had ceased producing fissile material, plutonium and highly enriched uranium, for weapons purposes. In his Cherbourg speech, Sarkozy reiterated French support for starting long-stalled talks on a global fissile material production ban for arms.

In addition, Sarkozy endorsed negotiations to ban short- and intermediate-range surface-to-surface missiles. Such a prohibition would not affect the M51.1, which is a long-range missile, or the air-launched ASMP-A cruise missile. Sarkozy’s call follows a February Russian proposal to institute a global ban on ground-launched short- to intermediate-range missiles, which the United States and Russia have already forsworn through the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. (See ACT, March 2008 .)

Sarkozy’s nuclear agenda resembles that enunciated over the past year by the United Kingdom. The British government decided early last year to explore developing a new generation of nuclear-armed submarines while it touted a decision to cut its operational nuclear forces to fewer than 160 warheads. (See ACT, January/February 2007 .) Des Browne, the British defense minister, also recently invited American, Chinese, French, and Russian nuclear weapons scientists to participate in a future conference on verifying nuclear disarmament. (See ACT, March 2008 .)

Posted: December 31, 1969

Bring the Adapted CFE Treaty into Force

Body: 

International Appeal

This appeal was initiated by former diplomats and senior research associates from different nations and research institutions in Europe and North America in order to support the ratification of the Adapted Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. The treaty is a key element of the European security structure and an indispensable political symbol of security cooperation which should not be destroyed.

It is with great concern that we, the undersigned, note the Russian Federation’s announcement that it intends to suspend implementation of the 1990 Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty on December 12, 2007. We fear that such a move could not only doom the CFE Treaty, but that it also could prevent the entry into force of the 1999 Adapted CFE Treaty, thus risking a collapse of the entire CFE regime. Such a development would undermine cooperative security in Europe and lead to new dividing lines and confrontation.

The CFE Treaty is a cornerstone of European security and the key element of the cooperative approach to security as agreed upon in the Charter of Paris of November 1990. The accord’s invaluable verification regime, including regular information exchanges and on-site inspections, has shown that confidence and security can be better achieved through cooperation and openness than by competition and secrecy. Additionally, stability throughout Europe is increased by adherence to specific limitations.

But now, due to disagreements between NATO and Russia,the whole regime is in serious danger. Russia asserts that the combination of NATO expansion and the alliance’s failure to ratify the Adapted CFE Treaty threaten Russian security. NATO states claim thatthe continued presence of Russian forces in Georgia and Moldova, despite a prior commitment by Moscow that they will be withdrawn, does not permit ratification of the revised accord. We firmly believe thatall the states-parties should abide by the core CFE principles and that current disagreements must not be allowed to erode or destroy a regime fundamental to the security of the whole of Europe.

The CFE Treaty made a substantial contribution to ending the Cold War, enabling the peaceful unification of Germany and the peaceful transformation of the states of Central Europe and the successor states of the Soviet Union, and preventing inter-state conventional war in Europe. Indeed, the treaty resulted in the destruction of more than 60,000 heavy conventional weapons and the eliminationin Europe of capabilities for large-scale offensive action and surprise attack. Conventional stability also contributes to making nuclear weapons in Europe unnecessary.

Beyond that, the CFE Treaty has contributed to stabilizing sub-regional military power relations and to limiting sub-regional arms races. The treaty also has provided a model for regulating the military aspects of violent conflicts in Southeast Europe. If the CFE regime is maintained, it can serve as a model for other regional peace and stability processes.

Bringing the Adapted CFE Treaty into force is an important means to include more states in an integrated European arms control regime and thus maintain and extend key elements of security cooperation in Europe. Entry into force of the Adapted CFE Treaty also is necessary to ensure that the instruments of European security cooperation keep pace with the global challenges to European security today, including the new threats posed by transnational terrorist actors. Its loss will resurrect past problems and yesterday’smistrust.

We therefore appeal to the governments of all CFE states-parties to preserve the CFE regime and bring into force the Adapted Treaty as early as possible. Ratification by those who have not yet done so should go hand in hand with constructive new approaches to resolve current disputes.

All states and peoples of Europe would lose if the CFE regime, an unprecedented instrument for the preservation of peace and with greatest importance to Europe’s future, would now be destroyed.

Signatures (As of November 28, 2007)

Altes, Edy Korthals, Ambassador (ret.), The Netherlands

Beach, Sir Hugh, General (ret.), The United Kingdom

Bertram, Christoph, former Director of The International Institute of Strategic Studies, London,
and former Head of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, Berlin

Boden, Deiter, Ambassador (ret.), Deputy Head of the CFE Delegation of the Federal Republic
of Germany (1989-1992)

Boese, Wade, Research Director, Arms Control Association, Washington

Brzoska, Michael, Director, Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of
Hamburg

Croll, Peter J., Director, Bonn International Center for Conversion

Czempiel, Ernst-Otto, former Executive Director of the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt

Dean, Jonathan, Ambassador (ret.), former Head of the Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions
Delegation of the United States

Dorn, Walter, Chair, Canadian Pugwash Group

Dunay, Pal, Faculty Member, Geneva Centre for Security Policy, and former Legal Advisor of
the CFE Delegation of Hungary

Dunkerley, Craig G., Ambassador (ret.), former Special Envoy of the Secretary of State for CFE, The
United States

Ekéus, Rolf, Chairman, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute

Finney, John, British Pugwash Group

Gärtner, Heinz, Austrian Institute for International Affairs

Gessenharter, Wolfgang, Helmut Schmidt University of the German Armed Forces, Hamburg

Goldblat, Jozef, Vice President, Geneva International Peace Research Institute, and Resident Senior
Fellow, United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, Geneva

Gyarmati, Istvan, Ambassador, Director, International Centre for Democratic Transition, and
former Head of the CFE Delegation of Hungary

Hartmann, Ruediger, Ambassador (ret.), former Head of the CFE Delegation of the Federal
Republic of Germany and former Federal Government Commissioner for Arms Control and Disarmament

Hippel, Frank von, Professor, Princeton University, The United States

Joetze, Guenter, Ambassador (ret.), former Head of the OSCE Delegation of Germany and
former President of the Federal College of Security Studies, Berlin

Keeny, Jr., Spurgeon M., former Deputy Director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency,
and former Head of Theater Nuclear Forces Delegation of the United States

Kelleher, Catherine McArdle, Professor, Watson Institute, Brown University and University of
Maryland, The United States

Kimball, Daryl G., Executive Director, Arms Control Association, Washington

Klein, Jean, Professor, Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne University, and Research Associate, French
Institute for International Relations

Kryvonos, Yuriy, Colonel (ret.), Senior Officer, Conflict Prevention Centre, OSCE Secretariat, and
former Head of the Conventional Arms Division of Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Lachowski, Zdzislaw, Senior Researcher and Project Leader of the Conventional Arms Control
Project, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute

Lever, Sir Paul, Ambassador (ret.), Chairman, Royal United Services Institute, and former Head
of CFE Delegation of the United Kingdom

Lodgard, Sverre, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs

McCausland, Jeffrey D., Visiting Professor of International Law and Diplomacy, Penn State
Dickinson School of Law, and former Director for Defense Policy and Arms Control, National Security Council Staff, The United States

Meerburg, Arend J., Ambassador (ret.), The Netherlands

Mendelsohn, Jack, Adjunct Professor, George Washington University and American University,
and former U.S. Representative on NATO’s Special Political Committee for Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions

Mueller, Harald, Director, Peace Research Institute Frankfurt

Mutz, Reinhard, former Acting Director of the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the
University of Hamburg

Neuneck, Götz, Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy,
University of Hamburg, and Germany Pugwash Group

Resor, Stanley R., Ambassador (ret.), former Head of the Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions
Delegation of the United States

Rhinelander, John, former Legal Advisor to U.S. Strategic Arms Limitation Delegation

Sharp, Jane, Kings College, The United Kingdom

Schmidt, Hans-Joachim, Senior Research Fellow, Peace Research Institute Frankfurt

Staack, Michael, Director, Department of Social Sciences, Helmut Schmidt University of the German
Armed Forces, Germany

Steinbruner, John, Director of the Center for International and Security Studies, University of
Maryland, and Chairman, Arms Control Association, Washington

Tetzlaff, Rainer, Board of Trustees, Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of
Hamburg, and Lecturer, Europe College, Hamburg

Trenin, Dmitri, Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Deputy
Director, Carnegie Moscow Center

Wagenmakers, Henk, Ambassador (ret.), The Netherlands

Zagorski, Andrei, Senior Research Fellow, Center for War and Peace Studies, Moscow State
Institute of International Relations

Zellner, Wolfgang, Deputy Director, Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy, University
of Hamburg, and Head, Centre for OSCE Research

Country Resources:

Posted: December 31, 1969

Europe Eager to Preserve CFE Treaty

Wade Boese

Many European governments are increasingly anxious about the future of a treaty limiting conventional arms in Europe, but officials say there should be no cause for immediate alarm if Russia suspends implementation of the accord. The Kremlin maintains support for an updated version of that treaty and, in a related move, recently withdrew some Russian military forces from Georgia.

Completed the year before the Soviet Union’s 1991 disintegration, the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty placed equal caps on the battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, heavy artillery, combat aircraft, and attack helicopters that the two superpowers and their allies could deploy between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ural Mountains. Aiming to avert massive surprise attacks by either bloc, the treaty limited how many forces could be stationed in central Europe and concentrated in Europe’s northern and southern regions, the so-called flanks.

Referred to as a “cornerstone” of European security, the CFE Treaty is typically hailed for leading to the destruction of more than 60,000 weapons and building confidence and trust among its states-parties through an extensive verification regime. Last May, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice deemed the accord “one of the most important treaties of the 20th century.”

But with the Soviet Union’s collapse and NATO’s expansion to include 10 new members, including former Soviet allies and republics, the treaty’s value has waned in some eyes, most notably in Moscow. Consequently, CFE states-parties in 1999 negotiated an adapted version of the treaty, which among other things replaces the bloc arms limits with national weapons ceilings. (See ACT, November 1999. )

All 30 of the original treaty’s states-parties must ratify the adapted treaty for it to take effect, but only four have done so. The 22 CFE Treaty states-parties that are NATO members have been linking ratification of the adapted treaty to Russia fulfilling military withdrawal commitments regarding Georgia and Moldova. Russia made those pledges at the same summit at which the adapted treaty was completed.

Moscow contends the issues should not be linked and that the adapted treaty must be brought into force as quickly as possible to supplant the original treaty. One of Russia’s many criticisms of the older pact is that four NATO members (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovenia) are not party to it and therefore do not have any arms limits. The four cannot join the original treaty because it lacks an accession provision, but they will be able to accede to the adapted treaty after it enters into force.

With U.S.-Russian tensions escalating over a Bush administration plan to install strategic anti-missile systems in Europe, Russian President Vladimir Putin in July announced Russia would stop implementing the original CFE Treaty in six months unless NATO addresses Russia’s raft of concerns with the accord. In November, the Russian parliament’s two chambers approved the possible Dec. 12 suspension.

Contemplating a Suspension

The United States and its European allies are urging Russia not to carry out its threat. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier co-authored an article published Oct. 29 in the newspapers Le Figaro and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung warning that “an erosion of the CFE Treaty could spark new arms races and create new lines of confrontation.”

Several government officials from different European states told Arms Control Today in November interviews that the two foreign ministers’ concerns were principally of a long-term nature and that NATO members would work to prevent further confrontation even if Russia ceased implementing the CFE Treaty. Almost all of the officials asked not to be named and requested their country not be identified because of the sensitivity of the current situation.

All the officials agreed that the best result would be if Russia opted to “suspend its suspension.” A minority expressed hope that Russia might not act on its threat, but a majority seemed resigned that Moscow would not apply the brakes.

Russia has not been clear on what a suspension might entail. Russian officials have suggested that participation in inspections and data exchanges would cease, but they have not said whether Russia will stop attending meetings of the Joint Consultative Group, the treaty’s Vienna-based forum for implementation discussions. Moreover, Kremlin officials previously stated a suspension would not lead Russia to exceed its limits or redeploy its forces, but more recent media reports have quoted General Yuri Baluyevsky, chief of the general staff, as saying that such options would be kept open.

All the European government officials interviewed by Arms Control Today said NATO members likely would continue initially to provide data exchanges and notifications if Russia stopped. The purpose of doing so, they said, would be to maintain those channels for Russia to resume cooperation and to signal to other countries that one country’s choice not to abide by the treaty does not provide leeway for other states-parties to eschew their legal obligations. Aside from Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, and Ukraine are the other seven non-NATO CFE states-parties.

The officials generally downplayed possible Russian force buildups, at least in the short term, but acknowledged that concerns are greater for countries nearer Russian borders, such as the three Baltic countries, Norway, and Turkey. Several of the officials stressed, however, that “security cannot be divided.”

A Norwegian official interviewed Nov. 19 by Arms Control Today said his country has both “political and practical reasons” for preserving the CFE framework. But he noted that if Moscow were to increase its forces anywhere, it would most likely be in southern Russia.

A prolonged Russian suspension, some of the officials said, eventually could compel NATO countries to re-evaluate their defense planning. Michael Wyganowski, a former Polish diplomat who worked on CFE Treaty issues and is now executive director of the Washington-based Center for European Policy Analysis, told Arms Control Today Nov. 15 that absent data from Russia and arms limits on Russia, other European military planners would have to alter their “assumptions.” He speculated that if Russia walks away from the CFE regime, it could be a sign that Moscow sees military power playing a bigger role in its policy “toolbox.”

Still, the European government officials stressed the importance of not overreacting to a Russian suspension. In such a case, one official stated there would be no need to “panic,” while another official said it would be crucial to keep the “dialogue and doors open” with Russia.

During the past several months, the United States and its NATO allies have sought to persuade Russia to stave off the suspension, but some say the dialogue has been mostly one way. At multilateral meetings near Berlin and in Paris and at U.S.-Russian bilateral meetings in Moscow and Geneva, U.S. and European officials say the West offers proposals while Russia reiterates its problems and adds to its demands. One European official familiar with the talks told Arms Control Today Nov. 15 that there was “no sign that the Russians were seeking solutions to avoid a suspension.”

Georgia and Moldova

NATO members maintain they have insisted on conditioning the ratification of the adapted CFE Treaty in order to avoid having Georgia and Moldova feel abandoned. Both those governments want Russia’s forces to depart their two territories, and a key principle of the adapted treaty is that foreign deployed troops must have host-state consent.

Russia’s withdrawal from Moldova stalled in 2004, leaving approximately 1,200 Russian troops and about 21,000 metric tons of ammunition behind. But the Kremlin has been slowly reducing its forces in Georgia. In mid-November, Russia finished withdrawing its forces from the second of two bases it promised in 2005 to vacate. (See ACT, July/August 2005. ) With that step, only about 200 Russian troops, which Moscow says are peacekeepers, remain in Georgia.

A complicating factor in completing the withdrawals from Georgia and Moldova is that the remaining Russian forces are located in separatist territories. NATO members have volunteered financial assistance to facilitate the withdrawals and proposed that international peacekeepers replace the Russian troops. Moscow has declined these offers, claiming in part that the local ethnic Russian populations would not feel as safe with non-Russian soldiers.

Some NATO members in recent months have suggested starting ratification of the adapted treaty in conjunction with continued Russian withdrawal activities. On Nov. 5, David Kramer, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, testified to the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe that the “goal” would be to “send a constructive signal to Moscow that NATO stands by this treaty.”

The Flanks

Despite its discontent with the original treaty, Moscow also is not entirely happy with the adapted treaty. For instance, Russia dislikes provisions that would allow some NATO members to host temporary deployments of foreign forces above their arms limits.

Another top Kremlin complaint is that the adapted treaty maintains modified versions of the original treaty’s flanks limits on Russia. Those caps constrain the amount of forces that Russia can deploy on its own northern and southern territory, including the unstable Caucasus region. Moscow is calling for the abolishment of its flanks limits.

There is no consensus among NATO members about what should be done with the flanks. But many of the officials interviewed by Arms Control Today said it would be impractical to “open up” the adapted treaty to deal with the flanks before the agreement entered into force. One official volunteered that a potential compromise could be a pledge by NATO to review the flanks issue after the adapted treaty’s entry into force.

Kouchner and Steinmeier appeared to hint at this option. Contending that all the current CFE Treaty disputes cannot be resolved in the short term, the two foreign ministers suggested governments should “proceed on the understanding that even after the entry into force of the Adapted CFE Treaty, the door will remain open for further amendments.”

Posted: December 31, 1969

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