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former IAEA Director-General

European Security

Arms Control and Proliferation Profile: The United Kingdom

February 2015

Updated: February 2015

This profile summarizes the major arms control agreements, regimes, initiatives, and practices that the United Kingdom subscribes to and those that it does not. It also describes the major weapons programs, policies, and holdings of the United Kingdom, as well as its proliferation record. This profile is one of a series focused on the arms control record and status of key states, all of which are available on the Arms Control Association’s Website at http://www.armscontrol.org.

Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties

 

Signed

Ratified

Biological Weapons Convention

1972

1975

Chemical Weapons Convention

1993

1996

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

-Has linked its signature to that of India.

1996

1998

Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT)

-Has developed nuclear weapons outside the treaty.

1968

1968

Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons

-Party to four of the five protocols.[1]

1981

1995

Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty

1990

1991

Outer Space Treaty

1967

1967

Ottawa Mine Ban Convention

-Banned exports of antipersonnel landmines, but retains and deploys them for defensive purposes.

1997

1998

Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM)

1980

1991

CPPNM 2005 Amendment

- - -

2010

International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism

2005

2009

 


 

Export Control Regimes, Nonproliferation Initiatives, and Safeguards

Australia Group: Member.

Missile Technology Control Regime: Member.

Nuclear Suppliers Group: Member.

Wassenaar Arrangement: Member.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol: Yes, entered into force in 2004.

Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism: Participant.

Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation: Participant.

Proliferation Security Initiative: Participant.

UN Security Council Resolutions 1540 and 1673: The United Kingdom has filed the requested reports on its activities to fulfill the resolutions and volunteered to provide assistance to other states.


Major Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

Biological Weapons:

The United Kingdom had an active biological warfare program from 1936 to 1956. As part of that program, the United Kingdom weaponized anthrax and researched plague, typhoid fever, and botulinum toxin. Today, the British government operates an extensive and sophisticated defensive program that includes research on potentially offensive pathogens.

Chemical Weapons:

During World War I, the United Kingdom produced an arsenal of chlorine and mustard gases. In the 1950s the UK abandoned its offensive capability. In the 1990s the UK joined the Chemical Weapons Convention, and has provided assistance to countries such as Russia to destroy their chemical weapons stockpiles. [2]

Conventional Weapons Trade:

The United Kingdom is a key arms exporter. In 2007, the British government volunteered to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms that in 2006 the United Kingdom had exported two tanks, 37 armored combat vehicles, eight attack helicopters and one missile system, as well as more than 359,000 small arms and light weapons. In a September 2007 arms trade report, the U.S. Congressional Research Service reported that the United Kingdom had agreed to $3.1 billion in new arms export deals in 2006. [3] From 2007 to 2010, the United Kingdom made $14.7 billion in arms trade agreements. From 2003 to 2010, the UK was the third highest supplier of arms to developing nations. [4]

The United Kingdom is spearheading an initiative to negotiate an arms trade treaty to establish standards for global arms exports. In 2008, the UK helped cosponsor a UN Draft Resolution that established a series of Open Ended Working Groups that began to lay the groundwork leading to talks on an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). In July 2012 the United Nations is holding negotiations to try and draft an ATT.

The Nuclear Arsenal, an Overview:

The United Kingdom reduced its deployed strategic warheads to 120, of which no more than 40 are at sea on the Vanguard class submarines at any given time. Previously in October 2010, the UK government announced plans to reduce its total nuclear weapons stockpile to 180 weapons by the mid-2020s. The difference (60 nuclear weapons) will be maintained, but not deployed. [5]

Delivery Systems

Missiles

  • Ballistic Missiles: The United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrence strategy consists exclusively of sea based components.

  • Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles: The United Kingdom maintains one type of ballistic missile system in its arsenal for delivering nuclear warheads. That missile is the U.S.-origin Trident II (D5) submarine-launched ballistic missile, which has an estimated range of roughly 7,400 kilometers. [2]

  • Cruise Missiles: The United Kingdom does not possess nuclear capable cruise missiles.

Submarines

  • The British military currently operates four Vanguard class Trident nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs). Each submarine is equipped with 16 Trident II (D5) missiles, each of these missiles carry up to three 100 kt warheads [6].

  • In June 2012, the British government awarded a contract to Rolls-Royce to build two new nuclear submarine reactor cores. The second core is for the first Successor class vessel, which will be a new generation of nuclear submarines that carry the Trident missiles. The new generation of SSBN are not scheduled to enter service until 2028. [7]

  • British nuclear warheads are only deployed via submarines. Currently, the government maintains four Vanguard-class submarines that carry Trident missiles, which are projected to start reaching the end of their service lives in the early 2020s. In June 2012, the British government awarded a contract to Rolls-Royce to build two new nuclear submarine reactor cores. The second core is for the first Successor class vessel, which will be a new generation of nuclear submarines that carry the Trident missiles. The government will decide in 2016 whether or not to approve full production of the new submarines. [8]There has been political debate over this issue, as the coalition government is currently split over whether or not to spend the money on this project, or find a cheaper alternative. [9]

Strategic Bombers

  • The United Kingdom does not possess nuclear capable aircrafts.  Britain’s dismantlement of the RAF’s gravity based nuclear bombs in 1998 marked the beginning of its maritime-only deterrence strategy. [10]

Nuclear Doctrine

In May 2000, the British government reaffirmed a commitment not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states-parties to the NPT subject to certain conditions regarding their behavior and alliances. London refuses to rule out the first use of nuclear weapons, but has stated that it would only employ such arms in self-defense and “even then only in extreme circumstances.” In 2002 and again in 2003, the British government stated they may use nuclear weapons against rogue states if that state used weapons of mass destruction against British troops.

The British government’s standard practice is to have only one submarine on routine patrol at any given time. The government claims the missiles aboard the submarine are not on alert and that launching a missile would take several days of preparation.

The United Kingdom has conducted 45 nuclear weapon tests. The first test occurred on October 3, 1952, and the last took place November 26, 1991.

Fissile Material

In April 1995, the British government declared that it no longer produces fissile material, highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium, for weapons purposes. As of 2011, the government has declared that its military stockpile consists of 3.2 metric tons of plutonium and 11.7 metric tons of HEU.

The United Kingdom also possesses the world’s largest stockpile of civilian plutonium, with over 86 tons designated for this purpose. The country also stores approximately 28 tons of foreign owned plutonium, the majority of which belongs to Japan. There civilian stockpile of HEU is roughly 1.4 tons.


Proliferation Record

Although a leading supplier of conventional weapons to other states, the United Kingdom is not known to have deliberately or significantly contributed to the spread of biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons to other states.


Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities

The British government has signed protocols stating its intent to respect and not threaten the use of nuclear weapons against states-parties to the Latin American, South Pacific, and African nuclear-weapon-free zones. London has not done so for the Southeast Asian or Central Asian zones.

The United Kingdom is a state-party to the Open Skies Treaty, which enables unarmed reconnaissance flights over all states-parties territories, and has signed the Adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty. The UK, along with other NATO members, is refusing to ratify the latter agreement until Russia fulfills commitments to withdraw its military forces from Georgia and Moldova.

As of 2008, the UK supports the negotiation of a fissile material cutoff treaty, and has stated that the Conference on Disarmament is the appropriate forum for negotiations. Although the British government previously endorsed an “effectively verifiable” cutoff, it has backed off promoting that objective after the United States in 2004 declared it no longer supported that goal.

The United Kingdom signed and ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which bans “all use, stockpiling, production and transfer of Cluster Munitions.” [11] The treaty went into effect August 1, 2010. The United Kingdom joined the United States in invading Iraq in 2003 citing its alleged pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. No evidence has been discovered to support these allegations.

The UK participated in both Nuclear Security Summits, where at the latter they stressed the need to improve safeguards to prevent nuclear terrorism.

London has engaged in negotiations with Iran such as the most recent rounds of the P5+1 talks over Iran’s nuclear activities. The British government supported ratcheting up sanctions on Iran to persuade it to halt certain activities, particularly uranium enrichment. This included a European Union-wide ban on importing Iranian oil that went into effect July 1, 2012.

-Researched and prepared by Alex Bollfrass. Updated by Victor Silva


ENDNOTES

1. The United Kingdom has not ratified Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War.

2. Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, Postnote: Chemical Weapons, December 2001, 4 pp.

3. Grimmett, Richard F., Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 1999-2006, Congressional Research Service, September 26, 2007, 92 pp.

4. Grimmett, Richard F., Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2003-2010, Congressional Research Service, September 22, 2011, 89 pp.

5. International Panel on Fissile Materials, Global Fissile Material Report, 2011, January 2012, 49 pp.

6. SIPRI Yearbook 2013, (Oxford: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, 2012),  p 300

7. Ibid.

8.SIPRI Yearbook 2013, (Oxford: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, 2012),  p 301

9. “Britain to spend $`.7B on sub projects.” United Press International, June 21, 2012.

10. Sayenko, Sergei. “Britain’s coalition split over Trident.” The Voice of Russia, June 18, 2012

11. Federation of American Scientists, Doctrine and Policy. Updated December 5, 2006

https://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/uk/doctrine/index.htm

12. Convention on Cluster Munitions – CCM, The Convention, page visited July 2012, http://www.clusterconvention.org/

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Posted: December 31, 1969

U.S. Cuts Tactical Nuclear Weapons in Europe

Oliver Meier

The United States may have quietly removed all 130 nuclear weapons from its air force base in Ramstein, Germany. Before the withdrawal, Ramstein had been the biggest U.S. nuclear base in Europe. If true, the withdrawal means that there are probably about 350 U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe, down from thousands at the height of the cold war.

In a July 9 report, Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists revealed that Ramstein is missing from a Jan. 27, 2007, list of NATO nuclear bases that are scheduled to receive a Nuclear Surety Staff Assistance Visit, a precursor for an inspection by a Nuclear Surety Inspection. Such an inspection must be passed every 18 month if nuclear bases want to remain certified for nuclear deployments.

If the weapons have been withdrawn, the German air force base at Büchel would be the only remaining U.S. nuclear base in Germany. Presumably, 20 U.S. B61 gravity bombs are deployed there under NATO nuclear-sharing arrangements. Under these arrangements, 140 weapons would still 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.

Guy Roberts, NATO deputy assistant secretary-general for weapons of mass destruction policy and director for nuclear policy, told Arms Control Today Aug.1 that NATO “currently deploys a few hundred nuclear weapons in Europe.” In line with NATO custom, Roberts declined to provide any further information on NATO’s nuclear weapons practice or deployments.

The timing of a possible withdrawal and the reasons for it remain unclear. The German magazine Der Spiegel reported in 2005 that the weapons deployed in Ramstein may have been withdrawn for safety reasons during construction at the site. Kristensen now speculates that the bombs never returned.

NATO is currently conducting an internal debate on the future role of nuclear deterrence. A June 15 Nuclear Planning Group (NPG) communiqué welcomed discussions on “deterrence requirements for the twenty-first century.” Roberts explained that the alliance is reviewing its nuclear posture “as NATO goes through the process of agreeing on a new Strategic Concept possibly by 2009 or 2010.” Roberts expressed hope that a decision could be taken to report findings of those discussions during NATO’s Bucharest summit in April 2008 or no later than the 2009 spring defense ministerial. He said that the NATO secretariat would prefer an early agreement on a new nuclear doctrine.

Little detail about the scope or direction of those discussions is publicly available. Roberts said that, in ongoing discussions on NATO’s nuclear deterrence posture at the NPG and other NATO bodies, there was unanimity among NATO allies that nuclear deterrence, a U.S. nuclear presence in Europe, and burden sharing will remain vital. The NPG communiqué reiterates alliance doctrine that “NATO’s nuclear forces are maintained at the minimum level sufficient to preserve peace and stability” and that the purpose of NATO nuclear weapons is “to preserve peace and prevent coercion and any kind of war.” NATO member states, according to the statement, continue to view nuclear sharing as an “essential political and military link between the European and North American members” of the alliance. Roberts, however, conceded that there were different perceptions among allies on a range of other issues related to NATO’s nuclear posture.

Mixed Reactions

German officials declined to comment on the reports about a possible withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Ramstein, citing the government’s policy of not confirming or denying details of NATO nuclear deployments.

The two ruling parties of Germany’s governing coalition, the left-of-center Social Democrats and conservative Christian Democrats, reacted differently to the news. Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, arms control spokesperson for the Christian Democrats, told the German online magazine stern.de July 13 that a partial withdrawal of U.S. nuclear weapons would not contribute necessarily “to departure of others, such as Iran, from their nuclear ambitions.”

Uta Zapf, Social Democrat and chair of the Bundestag’s subcommittee on disarmament, arms control and nonproliferation, told Arms Control Today Aug. 10 that the withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Ramstein is good news but “by itself does not signify a change in policy” because U.S. nuclear weapons remain deployed at Büchel and in five other European countries. “I think we should use the opportunity to push for a more fundamental debate about nuclear deterrence,” Zapf said.

German opposition parties are going further and are demanding a quick withdrawal of the remaining nuclear weapons. This debate is taking place against the background of persistent differences between the governing parties on the role of nuclear weapons. (See ACT, July/August 2006. )

Posted: December 31, 1969

Conventional Arms Treaty Dispute Persists

Wade Boese

Russia and NATO are still at odds over a European conventional arms pact despite an emergency meeting June 11-15 to discuss their differences. Russia is complaining that its long-standing concerns are still being ignored but has not suspended implementation of the treaty as it previously warned it might.

Anatoly Antonov, who heads the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department of International Security and Disarmament, asserted that other states paid only “lip service” to Russia’s positions at the Vienna gathering. The 26-member NATO alliance issued a statement expressing “regret” that no agreement could be reached.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had said in April that Russia might halt implementation of the 1990 Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, which caps the number of battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, heavy artillery, attack helicopters, and combat aircraft that 30 countries can station between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ural Mountains. Antonov said June 15, however, that a possible suspension was now “closer.”

Under a suspension or moratorium, Antonov explained, Russia would stop treaty inspections, notifications, and data exchanges. It would also consider moot weapons limits on Russian arms deployments in its northern and southern regions, or so-called flanks. But he said Moscow did not intend to increase its weapons deployments or withdraw from the treaty, which requires at least a 150-day advance notice.

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried, who led the U.S. delegation to the conference, told reporters June 12 that Russia had not indicated that a possible suspension was “imminent” but acknowledged that “it is certainly on the table.” A U.S. government official told Arms Control Today June 20 that “everybody is waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

Citing “serious problems” with NATO behavior under the CFE Treaty, Moscow called May 28 for the “extraordinary conference” on the accord. Russian negotiators arrived at the Vienna gathering with a half-dozen “problems” to discuss.

Russia’s main complaint is that NATO countries are refusing to ratify a November 1999 revision of the agreement, known as the Adapted CFE Treaty. Entry into force of that updated accord requires ratification by all the original treaty states-parties. Thus far, however, only Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine have done so.

NATO members are postponing ratification of the adapted treaty, which replaces bloc and geographic arms limits with national weapon ceilings, until Russia withdraws its military forces from the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Moldova. Moscow pledged to do so in documents concluded in parallel with the revised accord at a summit in Istanbul. (See ACT, November 1999. ) Kremlin officials charge the NATO linkage is “artificial.”

Moscow is eager for the adapted treaty to take effect because it loosens Russian flank restrictions, enabling larger Russian force deployments in the volatile Caucasus region, which includes Chechnya. The Kremlin wants to eventually negotiate away the flank limits entirely, but NATO countries have not agreed to do so.

The adapted treaty also contains an accession clause not included in the original treaty. Russian officials are unhappy that NATO members Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovenia are outside the treaty and without weapons limits. The four states have pledged to join the adapted treaty when the option becomes available.

NATO governments maintain that Russia holds the key to making this happen by ending its military presence in Georgia and Moldova.

Russia is working to close two remaining bases in Georgia by the end of 2008. But Georgia charges Russia has not fully abandoned another base, Gudauta, as claimed. This base is located in Abkhazia, a separatist region in Georgia.

The Kremlin’s withdrawal from Moldova has been stalled since 2004. Approximately 1,300 Russian forces remain inside the breakaway region of Transdniestria, where some of the troops are guarding a 21,000-metric-ton ammunition stockpile.

At the June conference, NATO members reiterated proposals to help Russia exit the two states. They suggested that multinational peacekeepers replace Russian forces in Moldova and that a voluntary international fund help pay for the destruction and removal of the ammunition. They also reaffirmed a German offer to lead a fact-finding mission to Gudauta to assess its status.

The Russian delegation dismissed the NATO proposals as nothing new and said the Georgian and Moldovan situations were being handled bilaterally. It insisted that NATO members should start ratifying the adapted treaty or that all CFE states-parties should provisionally apply the updated accord no later than July 1, 2008. NATO opposes this proposal.

The Russian and NATO delegations left the conference saying they were open to further talks, and Germany offered to host another conference for that purpose this fall.

Posted: December 31, 1969

U.S. Reaffirms Europe Anti-Missile Plan

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s June 7 proposal to share radar data on missiles with the United States might be an earnest offer, a cynical ploy to undercut U.S. plans to base anti-missile systems in Europe, or both. Regardless, U.S. leaders say they will continue their current missile defense approach despite strong Russian opposition. (Continue)

Wade Boese

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s June 7 proposal to share radar data on missiles with the United States might be an earnest offer, a cynical ploy to undercut U.S. plans to base anti-missile systems in Europe, or both. Regardless, U.S. leaders say they will continue their current missile defense approach despite strong Russian opposition.

Meeting with President George W. Bush in Heiligendamm, Germany, Putin volunteered the “joint use” of the Russian-leased Gabala radar in Azerbaijan. Putin implied the radar could be used to peer south into Iran, which the United States estimates could develop long-range missiles to strike all of Europe or the United States before 2015. Washington claims its plan to station 10 strategic ground-based midcourse interceptors in Poland and an X-band radar in the Czech Republic is to protect against a growing Iranian threat and poses no danger to Russia.

Putin further suggested that if an actual threat materialized, interceptors could be deployed in southern Europe, Iraq, or on naval ships instead of in Poland, where Moscow contends interceptors could reach into Russia. The interceptors endorsed by Putin would be technically different than those planned for Poland. Instead of aiming to collide with warheads in space, the alternative interceptors would be designed to destroy missiles in their boost phase, when a missile’s rocket engines are still burning shortly after launch.

Although U.S. officials expressed surprise at Putin’s proposal, this is not the first time he has made it. Putin floated essentially the same concept in June 2000 when President Bill Clinton was weighing deployment of a nationwide U.S. defense. (See ACT, July/August 2000. )

Washington rejected the proposal then, in part, on the basis that the technology was not available. The United States currently has programs that might produce ship- and land-based interceptors for boost-phase testing around 2014. (See ACT, June 2007. )

Bush welcomed Putin’s ideas as “interesting.” The two leaders agreed experts from both sides will explore the Russian proposal.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials maintain they will not pause their current effort. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal June 8 that “we’re going to continue to work this with Poland and the Czech Republic.” Engaging with Russia, she added, “doesn’t mean that you are going to get off course on what you’re trying to do.”

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates informed reporters June 14 that the United States saw Putin’s proposal on the Gabala radar as “an additional capability” and not a substitute for the proposed Czech-based radar. The Gabala radar is a Soviet-era early-warning radar designed to spot and track missiles shortly after launch, while X-band radars are supposed to provide more precise flight-tracking data and pick a warhead out of a target cluster flying through space.

The U.S. reaction was not what the Kremlin wanted. Talking to reporters June 8, Putin stated, “[W]e hope that no unilateral action will be taken until these consultations and talks have concluded.” Similarly, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in a Moscow press briefing the next day declared, “[I]t is necessary as a minimum to freeze all the actions in deploying missile defense elements in Europe for a period of at least the study of our proposals.”

Russian officials assert there is no urgency to field anti-missile systems in Europe. They project a long-range Iranian missile threat as at least 15 to 20 years away. Even if Tehran moved more rapidly, Putin claimed June 7 that a three- to five-year lag would occur between the initial test and deployment of long-range missiles, permitting time for defenses to be erected.

Indeed, Putin’s Gabala radar proposal is about sharing data with the United States in order to form a common or joint assessment of Iran’s capabilities. Before initiating any possible defense schemes, such as Putin’s boost-phase concept, there should be mutual agreement about the threat, a Russian government official told Arms Control Today June 14.

Putin suggested as much June 8. “We propose carrying out a real assessment of the missile threats for the period through to 2020 and agreeing on what joint steps we can take to counter these threats,” the president explained to reporters.

The same day, Anatoly Antonov, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department of International Security and Disarmament, stated, “Only after concrete answers are obtained to questions about the nature and trends of missile proliferation should it be decided whether and what military-technical means are needed to repulse this threat.” He later noted that missile defenses should be “the last resort…when all the alternative measures have been exhausted.”

Moscow’s apparent assumption is that data from the Gabala radar will support their position that Iran poses no near-term threat, obviating U.S. plans. “Joint use of the information which this radar station obtains makes it possible…to give up the plans of deploying missile defense elements in Europe,” Lavrov said.

If the United States does not abandon or alter its current missile defense plans for Europe, Russian officials say there will be consequences. On June 8, Putin reiterated warnings that Russia would “target” the Polish and Czech anti-missile sites if they are built.

Putin’s comments followed a May 29 flight test of what Russian officials claimed was a new multiple-warhead ICBM capable of penetrating defenses. Referred to as an RS-24 by Russian officials, the missile is apparently a modified version of Russia’s most modern missile, the single-warhead Topol-M.

In a Jan. 1 data exchange, Russia claimed a total force of 530 ICBMs, of which 44 are silo-based Topol-Ms and three are mobile Topol-Ms. The United States currently deploys 500 silo-based ICBMs but plans to cut 50 of these missiles. (See ACT, May 2007.)

Washington has sought to soften Moscow’s hostility by publicly expressing interest in missile defense cooperation with Russia. But Putin June 4 derided U.S. offers as empty, saying they entail Russia providing missiles “as targets [that the United States] can use in training.”

Putin asserted that day that if Washington did not change course, Moscow would be bound to respond and could not be held responsible for the result. “We will absolve ourselves from the responsibility of our retaliatory steps because we are not initiating what is certainly growing into a new arms race in Europe,” Putin said.

 

Nuclear Talks Waiting on the United States

U.S. and Russian negotiators have put on hold talks on measures to succeed a landmark nuclear weapons reduction treaty while the Bush administration figures out its positions. But U.S. lawmakers are already starting to volunteer their advice.

The 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) is scheduled to expire Dec. 5, 2009. It slashed deployed U.S. and Russian strategic forces from more than 10,000 warheads apiece to 6,000 each and established an extensive verification regime. U.S. and Russian experts met for the first time in March to share ideas on what to do after START’s expiration. (See ACT, May 2007. )

Neither side is advocating exercising START’s five-year extension option. However, Moscow desires a new agreement capping both nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles, while Washington opposes such a formal approach, preferring a loose collection of confidence-building measures.

Arms Control Today has learned, however, that the two governments have agreed to prepare positions for future discussion on at least four issues: information exchanges, facility visits, missile launch notices, and noninterference with national technical means such as satellites. A second U.S. and Russian experts meeting reportedly is waiting on the Bush administration to complete this process and put together a proposal.

A June 18 McClatchy Newspapers report attributed the delay to Washington infighting. The U.S. intelligence community is keen on preserving intrusive mechanisms to keep tabs on Russia’s nuclear arsenal. But this position conflicts with that held by administration officials who say such measures are burdensome and unnecessary because Russia is no longer an enemy.

In a June 21 statement, Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, sided with the intelligence community. Recommending that START verification and transparency measures be extended, Lugar noted that “the predictability and confidence provided by treaty verification reduces the chances of misinterpretation, miscalculation, and error.”

Similarly, Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), chair of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, stated at a June 11 Arms Control Association event that “the intelligence community has expressed concern with losing the verification component provided by START.” Tauscher recommended that U.S. and Russian leaders approve a “bridge agreement that will extend START” until a new agreement can be negotiated.

 

Posted: December 31, 1969

Russia Casts Doubt on Conventional Arms Pact

Wade Boese

President Vladimir Putin and other top Russian leaders recently ratcheted up warnings that Moscow might freeze or end participation in a treaty limiting conventional weapons in Europe if some long-running disputes with NATO are not soon resolved.

In an annual address to Russian lawmakers, Putin said April 26 that Moscow would “declare a moratorium on its observance” of the 1990 Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, which restricts the number and location of battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, and heavy artillery that states-parties can field in Europe. Putin added that if talks with the 26-member NATO alliance did not yield results, Russia will “examine the possibility of suspending our commitments” under the CFE Treaty.

For days and weeks after the speech, there was confusion about when the moratorium would take effect and whether Putin was threatening that Russia might pull out of the treaty.

The Russian news agency RIA Novosti quoted a Kremlin source April 26 as saying Russia would withdraw from the treaty if nothing changed. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov similarly told reporters the same day in Oslo, Norway, that Russia’s “withdrawal from [the] CFE [Treaty] will become imminent” if Moscow’s concerns go unmet.

Still, on May 9, NATO spokesperson James Appathurai told reporters, “I don’t think the full details of what President Putin meant are fully clear yet.”

Appathurai’s comment came a day before Russian General Yuri Baluyevsky, chief of the general staff, visited NATO headquarters in Brussels. The Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta quoted Baluyevsky as telling reporters there that lawyers in Russia’s foreign and defense ministries were analyzing “legitimate opportunities for a moratorium.”

A Russian official told Arms Control Today May 21 that the “moratorium is not immediate.” Without mentioning a possible treaty withdrawal or termination, the official further explained that Russia would “suspend implementation if NATO does not respond positively.”

U.S. and other NATO-member government officials said in May Arms Control Today interviews that Russia had not altered its behavior under the CFE Treaty since Putin’s speech. They noted Russia has made some regular treaty notifications and agreed to a treaty inspection.

The accord does not allow a state-party to suspend implementation. A treaty withdrawal option exists if a country feels that “extraordinary events…have jeopardized its supreme interests.” A minimum 150-day advance notice of an intended withdrawal is required by the treaty.

Consequently, a Russian move to suspend implementation would likely be judged by other states-parties as noncompliance. Compliance issues are supposed to be resolved in the treaty’s Joint Consultative Group.

Putin’s speech came amid increased sparring by Washington and Moscow over a U.S. plan to deploy 10 strategic missile interceptors in Poland (see page 30 ), but Russian officials deny any tie between the recent CFE Treaty policy and the interceptor base.

For several years, Moscow has been seeking to have the 1990 accord replaced by a November 1999 “adapted” CFE Treaty that imposes less stringent restrictions on Russia. Unlike the original treaty, the updated version also permits additional countries to join and adopt weapons limits. This appeals to Russia because it is upset that some newer NATO members, particularly Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, currently have no arms constraints.

The adapted treaty cannot enter into force and legally replace the original accord until all of its 30 states-parties ratify the revised version. Only four—Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine—have completed this step.

NATO members are refusing to ratify the adapted treaty until Russia fulfills promised military withdrawals from Georgia and Moldova. These pledges are known as the Istanbul commitments, after the summit at which they were made. The adapted CFE Treaty was finalized at the same gathering. (See ACT, November 1999. )

The Russian military is belatedly making progress in leaving Georgia, but a similar effort in Moldova halted unfinished in March 2004. (See ACT, January/February 2007. )

Kremlin officials frequently criticize the NATO linkage and complain about being bound by what they deride as an obsolete agreement. In his Oslo remarks, Lavrov stated that Russia “finds itself in a situation where it simply does not want to participate in a theater of the absurd.”

Washington and other NATO capitals are urging Russia to uphold its obligations. Referring to the CFE Treaty as “one of the most important treaties of the 20th century,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a May 15 interview with the Russian radio station Ekho Movsky that Russia should address its concerns “in the context of the treaty rather than trying to get out of the treaty.”

NATO governments also are reiterating that they will continue to delay ratifying the adapted CFE Treaty until the Russian military is out of Moldova and Georgia. NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said April 26 that “the allies attach great importance to ratification of the adapted CFE Treaty, but we have things like the Istanbul commitments which have to be fulfilled.”

Posted: December 31, 1969

Europeans Split Over U.S. Missile Defense Plans

Oliver Meier

European countries are divided over a recent U.S. offer to begin negotiations with Poland and the Czech Republic on basing components of a U.S. anti-missile system on their territories. Washington has proposed building a radar for the system in the Brdy district in the Czech Republic and a site for 10 missile interceptors near Koszalin , Poland , to counter a potential threat from longer-range Iranian missiles aimed at the U.S. East Coast and parts of Europe . The proposal has stirred strong opposition from Russia . (See ACT, March 2007. )

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek stated during a visit to Poland that “both countries will probably answer in the affirmative,” the British newspaper The Independent reported Feb. 20. Subsequently, Prague officially announced that it would begin talks. Some European governments and domestic critics, however, have attacked Warsaw and Prague for this initial positive reaction. NATO appears likely to discuss the issue at upcoming ministerial meetings.

Different Zones of Security

Some European leaders are concerned that the U.S. system would not be able to protect some EU and NATO members against such a threat because they are too close to Iran . According to a March 11 Financial Times report, a recent NATO study found that some southeastern European states would not be covered by the system, which attempts to intercept missiles as they travel through space. Stefan Fuele, Czech ambassador to NATO, told Agence France -Press March 14 that Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, and Turkey could not be protected because of the short distance between Southeast Europe and Iran. Lt. General Henry Obering, director of the Missile Defense Agency, during a March 15 briefing in Berlin confirmed that midcourse interceptors based in Poland would not be able to destroy missiles launched from Iran and aimed at parts of Southeast Europe . Obering stated that this region would have to be protected by separate systems that destroy incoming warheads in the terminal phases of their flight.

Many European governments are not willing to accept such different zones of security. NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in a March 12 monthly video briefing, published on NATO's website, stated that although NATO will not “interfere” in bilateral discussions between the United States and the Czech Republic and Poland, he had the intention “to ensure that there are no ‘A-grade' and ‘B-grade' allies when it comes to security.”

The Role of NATO and the EU

Some European leaders also are concerned about NATO and the European Union being sidelined. Germany is the most forceful advocate for making the U.S. proposal a topic within NATO. Chancellor Angela Merkel in a March 13 interview with German TV station ZDF said that “ Germany prefers a solution within NATO and an open dialogue with Russia ” about U.S. missile defense plans. Alluding to a mandate given at the 2002 Prague NATO summit to examine options for addressing the increasing missile threat to alliance territory “consistent with the indivisibility of allied security,” Merkel argued that NATO missile defense should be “seen as a task for the alliance collectively.”

Currently, NATO is coordinating national efforts related only to tactical ballistic missile defense programs. In September 2006, NATO launched the Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense Program to protect troops in the field against short- and medium-range missiles. The program aims to create the infrastructure and command and control capabilities to permit various U.S. and European systems to work together. It is scheduled to have an initial operational capability by 2010 and to be fully operational by 2016. (See ACT , June 2005. )

A secret, 10,000-page feasibility study prepared for NATO's November 2006 summit in Riga, Latvia outlined options intended to protect NATO member states' territory and population centers against longer-range strategic missile threats. But the alliance's 26 member states could not agree to implement any of the options contained in the study. Instead, they mandated a follow-on study to assess the political and military implications of missile defense for the alliance.

One crucial question is whether the U.S. anti-ballistic missile defenses could be integrated into NATO, as German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung suggested March 2. Ted Whiteside, head of NATO's Weapons of Mass Destruction Center, told ISN Security Watch March 21 that such integration of command and control structures is conceivable and that NATO is already using an integrated command system for theater missile defense (TMD), applying predefined rules of engagement. “TMD should be the model for NATO's acquisition of a missile defense capability over the next few years,” Whiteside argued.

Washington is willing to brief allies and Russia on its plans but refuses to give NATO a say on its intentions for expanding ballistic missile defense to Europe . The United States sees its ballistic missile defense as a national program and wants to establish bases in Poland and the Czech Republic on the basis of bilateral agreements. Obering, in the March 15 briefing, argued that the European components of the missile defense system could complement current NATO anti-missile efforts. He said that U.S. missile defense components could become a national contribution toward an alliance-wide defense system against long-range missile threats if and when NATO decides to establish such a system. Obering was skeptical whether NATO members would be willing to pay the costs for such a system. Costs for the construction of the two bases, which would be assumed by Washington , are estimated to be at least at $3.5 billion. The NATO study is said to have estimated costs for a NATO-wide defense system, depending on coverage and technology, at $10 billion to $20 billion.

Nevertheless, it seems almost certain that NATO cannot avoid the issue. De Hoop Scheffer in his video message promised that U.S. missile defense plans would be discussed at NATO ministerial meetings later in the year, as well as at the April 26-27 informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Oslo . Norwegian Defense Minister Anne-Grete Strøm Erichsen told the newspaper Aftenposten on Feb. 22 that Norway 's basic position in the upcoming consultations would be “to oppose the type of missile defense the United States is planning.” Norway is “very skeptical,” Erichsen said, because it fears new arms races.

Some, like Luxembourg 's foreign minister, Jean Asselborn, would prefer to see the issue discussed within the EU, with the goal of developing a unified European position. “We must not again be caught between America and Russia ,” Asselborn warned March 12 in the German magazine Der Spiegel .

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in a March 18 commentary to the German weekly Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagzeitung (FASZ) stated that “neither NATO nor the EU must be divided over a necessary open debate.” Steinmeier alluded to European divisions over the U.S.-led 2003 invasion of Iraq and argued, “There is no ‘old' and ‘new' Europe , and no one should try to sow such seeds of discord for short-term gains.”

So far, there appears to be little willingness in Brussels to engage in discussions on a missile defense shield. “We are not as Europeans concerned to establish a mechanism of that type,” Javier Solana, the EU's high representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, told the Associated Press March 2. Even though the EU in December 2003 adopted a joint strategy that aimed for greater coherence among member states on security issues, Solana said that it “is for every country to decide” whether to cooperate with the United States on missile defense.

Fears of a New Arms Race

Behind the debate lie differences in how to react to Russia 's statement that the U.S. missile defense plans could lead Moscow to target Poland and the Czech Republic and prompt Russia 's withdrawal from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. (See ACT, March 2007. )

Russia 's strong statements appear to have backfired and strengthened the resolve of central European leaders who favor deployment of the U.S. system. Some in western Europe, however, fear a new arms race between the United States and Russia . French President Jacques Chirac warned during a March 9 press conference that “we must be very careful, as regards this project, not to encourage the creation of new dividing lines in Europe or the return to an obsolete order. To my mind, this project raises many questions to which thought will have to be given before responding.”

A French diplomat told Arms Control Today March 15, however, that not everyone in the French government was prepared to follow Chirac's line. The diplomat said that although some in Paris believe that the U.S. plans could divide Europe, others took a more fatalistic view, arguing that the United States would go ahead with the program anyway and that U.S. interceptors might protect France against ballistic missile threats.

The German government has taken a different tack. Steinmeier, in the FASZ op-ed, warned that “we cannot allow a missile defense system to be either a reason or a pretext for a new arms race.”

Outlook

The United States was hoping to conclude bilateral agreements with Poland and the Czech Republic this year in order to begin construction in 2008 and to have operational bases as early as 2011.

A Polish diplomat told Arms Control Today March 16 that he is still optimistic that the United States would be able to convince European allies of the need for a missile defense system. The diplomat argued that, had Europeans not ignored U.S. plans for developing a missile shield for such a long time, it might have been possible to find a solution to protect all of Europe. “Now, this is an American project, and one cannot expect it to cover all of Europe,” he stated.

The Polish government, however, is not unified in its support for missile defense. In the Swiss paper Neue Zürcher Zeitung Feb. 17, Vice Prime Minister Andrzej Lepper of the populist party Samoobrona, voiced sympathy for Russia 's concern and called for a referendum on the government's plans. The Polish diplomat confirmed to Arms Control Today that such a referendum was a possibility and stated that in any case the Polish parliament would have to vote on the plan. Fifty-five percent of Poles oppose the plan, according to a survey for the Warsaw-based Centre for Public Research.

The Polish government may already be trying to take the heat out of the debate. Polish Foreign Minister Anna Fotyga told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti Feb. 26 that “the negotiating process could last several years because of various technical, legislative, and other issues.” Fotyga remained opposed, however, to making the missile defense plans a European issue. “All I can say with certainty is that, during the discussions, we will prioritize Poland 's security and then the security of Europe and the world,” she said.

Czech Vice Prime Minister and Europe Minister Alexandr Vondra in a March 3 interview with the German paper Die Tageszeitung said that his government was open to a limited debate in NATO on missile defense plans but cautioned that Prague “will not ask Russia for permission” to build the radar site.

Ondrej Liska, chairman of the European Affairs Committee in the Czech parliament, told Arms Control Today March 21 that his Green Party would make its “support for the construction of a radar site on Czech territory conditional on consensus in the EU Council and the NATO Council on U.S. missile defense plans.” The Green Party is the junior partner in Prague 's current coalition government, which also includes Conservatives and Christian Democrats.

Liska, deputy head of the Green Party, said that NATO and the EU first have to agree on how real the threat is from ballistic missiles, whether defenses are capable of defending against such a possible threat, whether such a system could fuel new arms races, and whether missile defenses could have a negative impact on other, cooperative instruments to tackle proliferation. Opposition Social Democrats also said they would condition their support on an agreement within NATO on the missile defense plans.

According to recent polls, a majority of Czech citizens is opposed to building a U.S. missile radar in the country. Of the 72 citizens of the village of Trokavec , where the X-band radar facility is supposed to be built, 71 voted against the government's plan.

Should Poland or the Czech Republic decide to drop out of the project, the United States could consolidate both sites in one of the two countries. Bases could also be built in other countries. Ukraine , for example, has recently indicated some interest in participating in such a system. Russian radio station Ekho Moskvy reported March 19 that Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko was considering whether it should “join the countries that had missile defense plans.” The broadcast, which was translated by the BBC, also quoted Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych as saying that Kyiv was ready for talks and could bring space monitoring capabilities, shared jointly with Russia , into such a system. There has also been talk of basing radars for the missile defense system in the Caucasus, a suggestion that has triggered strong reactions from Moscow .

On Feb. 23, a spokesperson for the British government confirmed reports that London was involved in talks with Washington about the potential deployment of interceptors in the United Kingdom and that the government welcomes “plans to place further missile defense assets in Europe .” Obering confirmed that missile defense bases on British territory would improve the U.S. ability to intercept Russian ICBMs.

“If [the Russians] are concerned about us targeting their intercontinental ballistic missiles, I think that would be problematic from the [perspective of the United Kingdom] because I believe we probably could catch them from a UK launch site,” he told the Financial Times March 7. The United Kingdom already hosts a radar at Fylingdales, which feeds information to the U.S. missile defense system.

Posted: December 31, 1969

UK Nuclear Submarine Plan Wins Vote

Wade Boese

Despite some opposition within the ruling Labour Party, British lawmakers recently approved a plan to start designing a new class of nuclear-armed submarines. The vote puts the country on course toward retaining nuclear weapons until around midcentury, although top officials say that could still change.

Last December, Prime Minister Tony Blair's government proposed building successors to the four current submarines composing the United Kingdom 's entire nuclear delivery force. (See ACT , January/February 2007. ) The first two boats of the existing Vanguard-class fleet are expected to be retired by 2024, and the government contends the inaugural replacement vessel must be operational by then to maintain the current posture of always having one submarine on patrol.

Estimating that it will take 17 years to get the first new submarine from the drawing board to the sea, Blair called on legislators to support the project this year. The House of Commons complied March 14, voting 409-161 to start the proposed submarine design phase. Immediately before, lawmakers defeated 413-167 an initiative to postpone the vote.

Opponents offered a variety of reasons for why a decision was unnecessary this year. Some lawmakers said that the Vanguard-class submarines might be modified to last longer than presumed, while some argued that the new class of boats should take no longer to develop than the 14 years required for the Vanguard fleet. Other lawmakers said it was premature to consent to such a consequential and long-term endeavor at such an early stage.

Blair and his backers, however, argued that the claim that development of the Vanguard fleet took only 14 years neglected to take into account all the work needed to complete the system. They also said that lawmakers should welcome the opportunity to give their input sooner rather than later and warned that if delays mounted, British industry might not be staffed and positioned properly to carry out the project.

Blair assured the House of Commons March 14 that this would not be the final opportunity for lawmakers to have a say on the program. “This parliament cannot bind the decisions of a future parliament, and it is always open to us to come back and look at these issues,” the prime minister stated. He implied one chance would be between 2012 and 2014 when the main contracts for design and construction are supposed to be awarded.

Approximately one-quarter of the 352 members of the Labour Party, which campaigned for unilateral British nuclear disarmament during much of the 1980s, were on the losing side of the two votes. Their defection was offset by strong support for the proposal from the main opposition party, the Conservatives.

The final measure included a commitment to pursue additional steps toward nuclear disarmament in compliance with the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Countries without nuclear weapons pledged to forswear them through that 1968 accord, while nuclear-armed states, including the United Kingdom , promised to eventually eliminate their atomic arsenals.

Whether London would break its NPT obligation by building new submarines was a key issue pitting Labour Party members against each other. Indeed, four members of the government resigned their positions in protest over Blair's proposal. One of them, Nigel Griffiths, who was deputy leader of the House of Commons, argued March 14 that “we must lead the world in campaigning for the eradication of the nuclear threat and we must lead by example.”

Other Labour members echoed Griffiths during the nearly six-hour debate that preceded the two votes. They warned that developing another generation of nuclear-armed submarines would undermine the NPT by signaling that nuclear weapons were vital for preserving a country's security. One Labour member, Jeremy Corbyn, questioned whether adding “vastly enhanced” submarines would be “contrary to the whole spirit of the treaty and likely to encourage proliferation rather than reduce it.”

Blair, other Labour officials, and Conservative speakers asserted the United Kingdom was and would remain in compliance with the NPT, citing past and proposed nuclear reductions. Although developing new submarines is the core of the prime minister's plan, it also calls for shrinking the country's operational nuclear forces by 20 percent, to fewer than 160 warheads. London 's secret stock of reserve warheads is supposed to undergo an equivalent cut.

Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett blasted as “complete and utter rubbish” the notion that constructing new submarines would provoke the spread of nuclear weapons. She further dismissed the possibility of other countries following the United Kingdom 's lead even if it abolished nuclear weapons, saying, “[W]e have been disarming over the course of the past 10 years, with singularly little response.” Since the Cold War's end, the United Kingdom is the sole recognized nuclear-weapon state that has trimmed its nuclear capability to a single type of delivery option and claims to have reduced its nuclear explosive power by about 75 percent.

Submarine proponents repeatedly pointed to other countries' possession of nuclear arms and the suspected pursuit of such arms by other states. The prime minister and his supporters also contended the new submarines would be insurance against the uncertainty of the future, particularly the risk that “rogue” states or terrorists might acquire and use or threaten to use nuclear weapons.

Opponents responded that terrorists would not be deterred regardless of what armaments the United Kingdom brandished and that such a threat was less likely than other dangers, such as global climate change, requiring attention and money. Michael Ancram, a rare Conservative critic, asserted the submarine acquisition costs constituted “a pretty hefty premium against a pretty unlikely threat.”

The government projects that it might cost up to $39 billion to procure four new submarines and nearly $3 billion annually to operate them. Costs could be reduced if London builds only three new submarines, an option Blair has floated.

Skeptics say spending will be higher than estimated because arms programs are prone to exceeding budgets. They point to the United Kingdom 's ongoing and roughly $2 billion over budget Astute-class conventional attack submarine program as the latest example.

A majority of Labour members backed Blair despite, or perhaps because of, their party's past abolition advocacy. Some members appear to attribute, at least partially, the party's poor electoral results during the 1980s to that policy. Explaining his support for Blair's proposal, Labour member Gerald Kaufman stated, “It is one thing to revisit the scene of the crime; it is quite another to revisit the scene of the suicide.”

Still, Beckett said, “today's decision does not mean that we are committing ourselves irreversibly to maintaining a nuclear deterrent for the next 50 years.” She noted lawmakers will have chances in the coming years to affect the United Kingdom's nuclear status by deciding on replacing or renewing British nuclear warheads as well as the U.S.-made and -leased Trident D5 submarine-launched ballistic missiles that carry the warheads.

Posted: December 31, 1969

Blair: Retain UK Nuclear Weapons

Wade Boese

British Prime Minister Tony Blair recently unveiled a plan to extend until about midcentury his country’s possession of a slimmed-down nuclear weapons arsenal. British lawmakers will vote as early as March on the initiative.

The United Kingdom deploys about 200 nuclear warheads aboard four Vanguard-class submarines. Launched separately between 1992 and 1998, these submarines will start reaching the end of their service lifetimes in the early 2020s.

Blair ruled out letting the United Kingdom’s nuclear weapons capability expire along with the current submarine fleet. Describing British nuclear weapons as the “ultimate insurance,” he said Dec. 4, 2006, that it would be “unwise and dangerous” to give them up under current conditions and uncertainty about the future.

Still, Blair proposed that the active force could be trimmed down to less than 160 warheads and maybe three submarines. The prime minister’s plan also envisions a 20 percent cut in the backup warhead stockpile, the size of which is secret.

Blair’s government estimates that designing and building the first replacement submarine will require 17 years. Hence, a decision to begin such an effort, according to the government, must be made this year to be able to continue in 2024 the current practice of always having one submarine on patrol.

Another decision that Blair says must be made this year is whether to participate in the U.S. life extension program for the submarine-launched Trident D5 ballistic missile. British and U.S. submarines are outfitted with this missile, which is currently calculated to last until around 2020. The life extension program is supposed to prolong the missile’s service 20 more years.

The government detailed its case for extending the existing nuclear posture in a 40-page white paper, “The Future of the United Kingdom’s Nuclear Deterrent.” This December 2006 report cites the maintenance and modernization of nuclear arsenals by other major powers, the possibility of additional countries joining the nuclear club, and the threat of nuclear terrorism as reasons for preserving British nuclear forces. “We can only deter such threats in [the] future through the continued possession of nuclear weapons,” the report declares.

Blair acknowledged that terrorists most likely would not be dissuaded by the threat of nuclear attack or retaliation, but implied that such considerations could influence regimes that might aid terrorists. The report asserts that “any state that [the British government] can hold responsible for assisting a nuclear attack on our vital interests can expect that this would lead to a proportionate response.” French President Jacques Chirac enunciated a similar policy a year ago. (See ACT, March 2006.)

In general, the report maintains that the use of British nuclear arms would be considered “only in extreme circumstances” of self-defense or of protecting fellow members of the 26-nation NATO alliance. The government will “deliberately maintain ambiguity about precisely when, how and at what scale we would contemplate use of our nuclear deterrent,” the report states.

Keeping with this policy, the report notes that the United Kingdom reserves the option of using nuclear weapons first. China and India are the only two nuclear-armed countries that publicly say they will not do so.

Although the report registers concern about biological and chemical weapons, it stresses the “uniquely terrible threat” that nuclear arms pose and emphasizes that the British nuclear force’s “focus is on preventing nuclear attack.” A British government official told Arms Control Today Dec. 8 that “the reason why we keep a nuclear deterrent” is the possession of nuclear weapons by other states.

South Africa, which announced in 1993 that it had secretly accrued and then disposed of six completed nuclear weapons, criticized Blair’s proposal as “disappointing.” In a Dec. 5 press release, the South African Foreign Ministry argued London missed an “opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to the irreversible elimination of its nuclear weapons arsenal, consistent with its nuclear disarmament obligations and commitments.”

Article VI of the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) obligates the United Kingdom, as well as China, France, Russia, and the United States, to work toward disarmament. Moreover, the five countries pledged in 2000 at an NPT review conference to “an unequivocal undertaking…to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.”

The white paper defends Blair’s proposal as consistent with British commitments. It states, “We believe this is the right balance between our commitment to a world in which there is no place for nuclear weapons and our responsibilities to protect the current and future citizens” of the United Kingdom.

Blair contended that British nuclear disarmament would not be reciprocated by other governments and, therefore, was impractical. “Unfortunately there is no evidence that any major nuclear power would follow such an example,” Blair argued. “And, as for the new, would-be nuclear powers, it really would be naïve to think that they would be influenced by a purely British decision.”

Then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan made a different argument just days before Blair’s comments. Annan said Nov. 28 that the retention of nuclear weapons by some countries might motivate others to acquire such arms. “By clinging to and modernizing their own arsenals…nuclear-weapon states encourage others…to regard nuclear weapons as essential, both to their security and to their status,” he warned.

Such anti-nuclear weapons views used to prevail inside Blair’s ruling Labour Party, which during the 1980s supported unilateral British nuclear disarmament. But the revival of the party’s fortunes in the 1990s and the election of Blair have been attributed in part to Labour dropping its disarmament stand.

Although some Labour lawmakers in the House of Commons have signaled they will break with Blair in the upcoming nuclear vote, the party’s main rival, the Conservative Party, backs Blair’s proposal. Conservative leader David Cameron stated after Blair’s announcement, “This is our only nuclear weapon, it is a minimum deterrent, and we have the right to replace it.”

The government explored replacement options other than new submarines, but these alternatives, including long-range aircraft and land-based silos, were rejected as more vulnerable and expensive. The government projects that procuring up to four new submarines will cost between $29 billion and $39 billion and extending the Trident’s lifetime will total nearly $500 million.

Posted: December 31, 1969

Russia, West Still Split Over Georgia, Moldova

Wade Boese

The Cold War ended more than 15 years ago, but the legacy of the Soviet Union’s breakup still divides governments. At a recent high-level Brussels meeting, Washington and other Western capitals clashed with Moscow over its lingering military presence related to “frozen conflicts” in Georgia and Moldova.

In a closing chairman’s statement to the Dec. 4-5 ministerial meeting of the 56-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht described European political-military affairs as “anemic, if not stagnant.” In particular, he said, “we are not closer to a solution than a year ago on Moldova and Georgia.”

At the November 1999 OSCE summit in Istanbul, Russia pledged to withdraw its military forces from the two former Soviet republics. Russia’s commitments to Georgia were part of a political act tied to a revision of the 1990 Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, and Moscow’s vow to vacate Moldova was noted in the summit’s political declaration.

But these promises remain unfulfilled. Apart from Moscow’s reticence to let go of its foreign outposts in Georgia and Moldova, the withdrawal has been complicated by the location of Russian troops and weapons in separatist regions inside each country.

In Georgia, Russian forces are in the process of leaving two bases, Batumi and Akhalkalaki, by the end of 2008; but some 300 Russian “peacekeepers” occupy one base, Gudauta, in the breakaway region of Abkhazia. A larger contingent of about 1,250 Russian troops is encamped in Moldova’s separatist region of Transdniestria.

The Kremlin says its soldiers prevent hostilities from breaking out, but Georgia and Moldova contend Moscow is meddling in their affairs. Georgian Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili told the recent OSCE meeting that Russia’s “credibility as an honest broker of the peace process has long been shaken,” while Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Stratan said his country wished to be “free of any form of foreign military or quasi-military presence.”

Led by the United States, Western governments have sided with Georgia and Moldova. Speaking Dec. 4 to reporters attending the Brussels meeting, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns asserted that “if both countries are to be fully sovereign, independent, and truly in control of their territory, then the Russian troops should leave.”

Daniel Fried, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, emphasized a day earlier that “it is critical that there be only peaceful solutions to these so-called frozen conflicts.” He noted, “[T]hese [conflicts] seem obscure, but if they go wrong, they’re not obscure.”

The United States and its 25 fellow members of NATO are trying to exert some diplomatic pressure on Russia to withdraw its forces as soon as possible. Specifically, NATO countries are refraining from ratifying the adapted CFE Treaty. This agreement from the 1999 Istanbul summit would replace the original treaty’s bloc and regional deployment limits on major conventional arms with national limits. (See ACT, November 1999.)

All 30 states-parties to the 1990 agreement must ratify the 1999 version for it to enter into force. Moscow is eager for this to happen because the updated accord would relax constraints on Russian arms concentrations on its territory and allow other countries to join the regime. The Kremlin is upset that some NATO members, particularly Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, have no arms limits because they are outside the original treaty, which has no accession option.

Moscow has repeatedly blasted NATO countries as blocking entry into force of the adapted CFE Treaty. In Brussels Dec. 4, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reiterated a warning that the NATO position “brings into question the viability of the [CFE] Treaty itself.”

The United States and its allies, however, fault Russia for the delay. “Ratification of the adapted CFE Treaty by my government and many others still awaits Russia’s fulfillment of the remaining commitments that were made at Istanbul,” Burns said Dec. 4.

De Gucht further stated, “As for the CFE Treaty, it is hostage to the nonimplementation of the Istanbul commitments, and Istanbul itself is hostage to the nonresolution of the frozen conflicts.” He contended that possible solutions are “now well known” but “what is lacking in most cases is the political will to strike a deal.”

Prospects of this political will emerging soon appear dim. Russia and Georgia continue to disagree over the purpose of a proposed German-led international inspection of Gudauta, and multinational talks on Transdniestria remain suspended.

Yet, in what one OSCE official described Dec. 8 to Arms Control Today as a “small step forward,” Russia and Transdniestria permitted 35 representatives from OSCE members to conduct a Nov. 13, 2006, visit to the main Russian ammunition depot at Colbasna. This marked the organization’s first visit there since Russia last removed some of its estimated 21,000 metric tons of munitions from Moldova in March 2004. Russia has rebuffed Western government requests for follow-on actions.

Posted: December 31, 1969

News Analysis: An End to U.S. Tactical Nuclear Weapons in Europe?

Oliver Meier

NATO’s policy of basing U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in several European countries has lasted long after the end of the Cold War, despite increasing pressure from parliamentarians, disarmament advocates, and public opinion. Now, a more mundane yet more tangible force may now tip the balance against the status quo: money. Public statements from and interviews with government officials and experts in Europe indicate that European governments may not be willing to make the investments in a new generation of nuclear-capable aircraft or participate in relevant technology sharing that would be needed to sustain the policy.

Nuclear sharing was developed during the Cold War to deepen U.S.-European military ties and to create a forum where Europe could have a say in Washington’s nuclear policies. As the Cold War ended, about 4,000 U.S. tactical nuclear weapons remained on European soil, intended to offset Soviet conventional and nuclear forces. In a series of bilateral understandings with the Soviet Union and then with Russia in the early 1990s, President George H. W. Bush sharply reduced that number. Today, an estimated 480 B-61 gravity bombs remain deployed in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, which also possesses its own nuclear arsenal. Of these weapons, 180 are assigned for use by the five non-nuclear-weapon states. These weapons remain under U.S. custody during peacetime but can be released to U.S. allies for delivery in times of war.

U.S. and European officials readily acknowledge that they have held on to the weapons for predominantly political rather than military reasons. In its 1999 Strategic Concept, NATO implied that improved relations with Russia meant that the weapons’ military purpose had largely ended, but called for retaining the weapons as a means of shoring up the political solidarity of the alliance. U.S. and European officials have also seen the weapons as a potential bargaining chip to encourage Russia to part with its own much larger arsenal of such weapons, variously estimated at about 3,000 deployed operational warheads.

But the status quo is imperiled by the aging of NATO’s nuclear-capable fighter fleet. Over the next several years, a number of European NATO members involved in nuclear sharing arrangements have to decide whether to replace aging fighter aircraft capable of delivering nuclear weapons, commonly known as “dual-capable aircraft.” Amid budget pressures and growing public concern, some key groups are beginning to balk. These concerns come as NATO is expected to update the 1999 Strategic Concept, including a possible revision of its nuclear doctrine.

German Disagreements

Discussion of the issue is the most highly charged in Germany, which hosts an estimated 150 U.S. nuclear weapons. Germany relies exclusively on Tornado PA-200 aircraft to deliver U.S. nuclear weapons. The Tornado entered service in the early 1980s and had been expected to be phased out over the next 15 years. Nuclear-capable Tornados are deployed at Büchel Air Base, along with an estimated 20 B-61 bombs. Germany had been expected to begin retiring them as early as 2012.

The Tornados are to be replaced by the Eurofighter (Typhoon), a multinational aircraft built jointly by Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. But the German government in July 2004 told parliament—the Bundestag—that it does not intend to certify the Eurofighter to carry nuclear weapons. Such certification would require Germany and its partners to grant the United States access to Eurofighter technology, which Europeans are reluctant to do because they fear the loss of commercial proprietary information.

Berlin is looking for a way to delay making a decision. In February, the government stated that it might keep some Tornados beyond the expected end of their service life in 2020. The only clear purpose for such a move would be to preserve the ability of the German air force to deploy U.S. nuclear weapons.

Nevertheless, there is concern within NATO about Germany’s long-term commitment to nuclear sharing. A senior NATO official told Arms Control Today June 2 that a decision by the German government to “extend the life of the Tornado would only delay and not solve the issue.”

Such fears are heightened by growing pressure from the Bundestag. Since April 2005, all three opposition parties in the Bundestag—the liberal Free Democrats, the left-of-center Green Party and the socialist Left Party—have introduced resolutions calling for a complete end to Germany’s involvement in nuclear sharing and a withdrawal of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons from German territory.

This year, the debate also is taking place within the government. When the draft of a new Defense White Paper was released to the Bundestag this spring, an unprecedented dispute about German support for NATO’s nuclear doctrine erupted between center-left Social Democrats and conservative Christian Democrats, which together form the governing “Grand Coalition.”

The draft, which was leaked to a German internet site (www.geopowers.com), states that nuclear deterrence will remain necessary to deter hostile states possessing nuclear weapons, including states with a fundamentalist ideology. Echoing earlier NATO language, the draft goes on to argue that “the common commitment of Alliance partners to war prevention, the credible demonstration of Alliance solidarity and nuclear posture require also in the future German participation in nuclear tasks.” The text specifies that this includes “the deployment of allied nuclear forces on German soil, participation in consultations, planning and providing means of delivery.”

This language was immediately and publicly rejected by the Social Democrats and, along with a subsequent position paper, made clear that for the first time that a governing party in Germany was calling for withdrawing from NATO nuclear sharing. The position paper, written by Social Democratic members of the Bundestag’s Defense Committee, categorically states that Social Democrats are “not willing to provide new means of delivery” once the Tornado has reached the end of its service life “in a few years.” Then, Germany’s participation in “tactical nuclear sharing” should end, the Social Democrats demand.

Rolf Mützenich, the Social Democrats’ spokesperson for arms control, told Arms Control Today June 13 that this means that Germany would no longer provide aircraft or personnel to participate in NATO nuclear sharing. Mützenich cautioned that “as long as these weapons exist,” Germany should stay involved in the “strategic operative” aspects of nuclear sharing, namely, it should continue to participate in alliance consultations and decision-making on nuclear doctrine. As a NATO member state, Germany is eligible to participate in nuclear deliberations—in the Nuclear Planning Group for example—even if it does not host nuclear weapons. Mützenich emphasized that as far as he is concerned, Germany’s participation in nuclear sharing should end “as early as possible” before 2012. He called on the German government to closely consult with partners and allies in order to initiate an open debate within NATO on the role of nuclear weapons in today’s world. “In the long-term, nuclear weapons should be abolished altogether. As long as that is not achievable, NATO should renounce the first use of nuclear weapons,” Mützenich said.

Christian Democrats are now the only party in the Bundestag that supports the deployment of U.S. nuclear weapons in Germany and NATO’s nuclear posture. Responding June 9 to questions from Arms Control Today, Christian Democrats defense spokesperson Bernd Siebert rejected the idea of basing a decision on Germany’s future involvement in nuclear sharing on the phasing out of the Tornado. “Instead, it should be a political judgment whether nuclear sharing is still up to date or not.” According to Siebert, the Christian Democrats support Germany’s involvement in nuclear sharing as an insurance against unforeseeable risks and because it “guarantees political influence on the use or nonuse of nuclear weapons.” Siebert said he sees no necessity “to fundamentally call into question NATO’s current strategy.”

The white paper draft was prepared by the Defense Ministry, which is headed by Christian Democrat Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung, and is currently being reviewed by the Foreign Ministry, which is headed by Social Democrat Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier. Discussions on Germany’s future involvement in nuclear sharing are expected to continue when the next draft is debated in the Bundestag.

Italian Uncertainties

Germany is not the only one of the nuclear-sharing participants to have doubts. A new government in Italy is also raising concerns.

Italy’s past Conservative government of Silvio Berlusconi had committed Rome to purchasing both the Eurofighter as well as its competitor, the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), with the JSF taking over the Tornado’s nuclear missions. The JSF, also known as the F-35, is a $35 billion multinational program led by the United States. Partners include the nuclear-sharing countries of Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

But the new center-left government of Prime Minister Romani Prodi, elected in April, has called into question Italy’s commitment to the JSF. Should Italy decide to opt out of the program, the country would be left only with the non-nuclear Eurofighter.

According to a April 17 Defense News report, Giovanni Urbani, aerospace spokesperson for the Democratic Left, which is part of Italy’s governing coalition, proposed on April 11 that Italy “pull out of acquiring the JSF and look at the third-tranche Eurofighter instead, thus boosting a European production line.” New Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema told Reuters on May 21 that “a politics of disarmament must be relaunched, one that invites reflection on part of the great powers, starting with the United States.” Further, Francesco Martone, head of the Rifondazione Comunista-European Left in the Foreign Affairs committee of the Italian Senate, told Arms Control Today June 12 that the new government “should cancel Italian participation in the JSF.” Martone, says that Italy should initiate discussions on nuclear sharing “with a view to free our country from nuclear weapons.” Martone, whose party is part of Italy’s governing coalition, is preparing a bill that proposes to reinvest Italy’s share in the JSF in development aid.

Some in NATO, however, believe that the new Italian government will eventually support the JSF, if only to avoid hefty financial penalties for opting out.

The Bomber Gap

Italy is not the only country to raise questions about whether and how it might go forward with the U.S. fighter. Delays, cost overruns, and disagreements between the United States and its allies about access to JSF technology continue to plague the program. Unless these are resolved soon, Turkey and the Netherlands might not have nuclear-capable aircraft when their current fleet of F-16s starts reaching the end of its service life as early as 2009.

Under current plans, a nuclear-capable variant of the JSF is slated to enter into service in 2012 or later when a fourth version of the fighter could start to roll off production lines. But no JSF partner country has yet committed to buying this series of JSFs. Thus, there is a real possibility that Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey might not be able to deploy dual-capable aircraft for several years, removing these countries’ ability to participate in nuclear sharing.

Some in NATO fear that politicians in member states might put off deciding whether to buy nuclear-capable aircraft until NATO is forced to alter its nuclear posture to accommodate technological and financial realities. “I think politicians will delay making a decision as long as possible. I don’t anticipate any serious discussions on this issue until the 2008-09 time frame,” the senior NATO official said. By that time, it might be too late for some countries to have a smooth transition from nuclear-capable Tornados or F-16s to a follow-on aircraft.

Parliamentarians in the Netherlands and Turkey as well as Belgium have called for debates about their governments’ support for NATO’s nuclear weapons policy. This raises further questions about the ability of governments to make the financial pledges necessary to secure long-term involvement of their countries in nuclear sharing.

For the time being, the Netherlands remains committed to the JSF. However, the Dutch government resigned June 30 and the largest Dutch opposition party opposes involvement in the program. It has vowed to cancel agreements should it become part of a new government after parliamentary elections expected in October. The NIS News Bulletin May 3 quoted Labour Party (PvdA) member of parliament Luuk Blom as predicting that “not a single JSF will be bought under [a] PvdA government. It is to be a firm issue in our election program.” The Dutch Defense Ministry is expected to sign an agreement with the United States at the end of this year governing the production, maintenance, and continued development of the JSF.

Turkey has not committed firmly to buying either the Eurofighter or the JSF. Ankara may decide by the end of 2006 how it will spend $10 billion it has earmarked to buy 100 new-generation combat aircraft. Turkey is already a member of the JSF consortium but may end up buying some Eurofighters as well. According to a June 19 report in the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, the Turkish Parliament on June 12 discussed the presence of an estimated 90 U.S. nuclear weapons at the U.S. air force base in Incirlik. Sukru Elekdag, a member of parliament and a former ambassador to the United States, who initiated the debate, noted that the United States had already withdrawn nuclear weapons formerly deployed in Turkey’s rival, Greece. Moreover, Elekdag stated that it would be difficult to explain the continued presence of U.S. nuclear weapons on Turkish territory to its Muslim and Arab neighbors.

Belgium has sidestepped the issue by investing in a life-extension program for its F-16s, which is expected to keep its fleet flying for another 15 years. But Brussels has rejected an invitation to join the JSF program as a partner, and there appears to be no rush to take a decision on a follow-on model for Belgian F-16s before 2008-2010, in particular with general elections taking place next year. In April 2005, the Belgian Senate unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Belgian government to take an initiative in NATO to review its nuclear doctrine and to initiate the gradual withdrawal of U.S. tactical nuclear from Belgian territory. (See ACT, May 2005.)

A New Nuclear Policy for NATO?

This November’s NATO summit in Riga, Latvia, is also likely to duck the issue of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. The senior NATO official complained that “there are currently no discussions on NATO nuclear policy within NATO” and that “this is not on anybody’s plate.” At most, NATO heads of state and governments are expected to launch a review of the Strategic Concept.

That there is currently no movement to adapt NATO’s nuclear posture was confirmed June 8 when NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels reaffirmed that NATO continues “to place great value on the nuclear forces based in Europe and committed to NATO, which provide an essential political and military link between European and North American members of the Alliance.”

NATO leaders this fall are unlikely to consider changing their 1999 Strategic Concept, which states that “solidarity and common commitment to war prevention continue to require widespread participation by European Allies involved in collective defence planning in nuclear roles, in peacetime basing of nuclear forces on their territory and in command, control and consultation arrangements.” Instead, they are likely to approve a so-called Comprehensive Political Guidance. This document, which was agreed on last year but has not yet been published, apparently confirms NATO’s current nuclear posture.

There is, however, much talk in NATO about a new Strategic Concept to be agreed at a possible NATO summit in 2009, which marks NATO’s 60th birthday and the 10th anniversary of NATO’s current Strategic Concept. Robert Bell, who was NATO’s assistant secretary-general from 1999 to 2003 and previously served as a senior arms control official on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration, told Arms Control Today June 13 that it is not clear that NATO will decide to update the Strategic Concept. If it does, “there is no guarantee” that the issue of dual-capable aircraft will be debated, he added.

Bell detects little willingness within NATO or among member states to change the alliance’s current nuclear doctrine and believes that the responsibility for taking the initiative on nuclear sharing rests with Washington. “Were this or were a new administration to decide to end the program, I do not believe the participating NATO allies would seriously try to stop it,” Bell said.

Indeed, some in the Pentagon favor ending nuclear sharing. A February 2004 report by the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board recommended that the secretary of defense “consider eliminating the nuclear role for Tomahawk cruise missiles and for forward-based, tactical, dual-capable aircraft” because “there is no obvious need for these systems, and eliminating the nuclear role would free resources that could be used to fund strategic strike programs of higher priority.”

In an October 2005 interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had indicated a willingness to leave the future of NATO nuclear deployments up to Europeans. Rumsfeld noted that it is up “to the Germans and to NATO” to pass judgment on the purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons on German soil. “Some countries in Europe made the decision to allow them to be on the continent. It was seen to be in their interest and is still seen that way today as it persists. So one would assume it continues being in their interest,” Rumsfeld said.

Nevertheless, the current timetable means member states participating in nuclear sharing may need to make a decision on whether to purchase dual-capable aircraft before a new nuclear doctrine is in place. Thus, they could end up buying aircraft with a nuclear capability that in the long run may not be needed.

One means under consideration of guarding against this possibility and also deflecting public criticism of NATO’s nuclear posture would be to withdraw U.S. nuclear weapons from Europe but leave the technical and physical infrastructure associated with nuclear sharing in place so that the weapons could be redeployed swiftly if and when NATO considers such a move necessary. A withdrawal of all deployed B-61 bombs would not affect readiness because NATO has already slowed response times of U.S. nuclear forces deployed in Europe from days to months. Member states participating in nuclear sharing would still need to provide dual-capable aircraft, although perhaps in reduced numbers. The air forces of these countries would continue to train for nuclear missions by using a “Realistic Weapons Trainer” and dummy weapons. Fifty-four new trainers were delivered to Europe as recently as February 2004.

From NATO’s perspective, such an arrangement of “virtual” nuclear sharing might have a number of technical and political disadvantages. NATO member states may be reluctant to redeploy nuclear weapons in times of crisis for fear of sending a wrong, escalatory signal. The United States currently deploys specially trained Munitions Support Squadrons of approximately 125-150 soldiers each at every base where U.S. nuclear weapons are stored. These units would either have to remain stationed at bases where nuclear weapons could be redeployed or kept on standby in the United States for possible relocation in Europe. Both are expensive options and may be difficult to justify, given how unlikely it is that NATO nuclear weapons would ever actually be used. There is also a fear at NATO headquarters in Brussels and national defense ministries that NATO’s nuclear policy may over time fade into irrelevance if the real weapons are withdrawn.

Further, advocates of a denuclearized NATO are likely to criticize virtual nuclear sharing as half-hearted and insufficient from a disarmament perspective. Such a move would not enable NATO to reap the arms control benefits associated with a complete termination of nuclear sharing. Thus, Russia may continue to argue that NATO’s nuclear policy continues to stand in the way of a broader agreement on tactical nuclear weapons.

Bell does not believe that there are realistic alternatives to current sharing arrangements and predicts that the current “model will remain until the NATO [tactical nuclear force] comes out altogether and for good.”

Public Opinion

Ultimately, European publics may have the last word. Public pressure on NATO to revise its nuclear policy is growing. A May survey commissioned by Greenpeace on the question of nuclear weapons deployments revealed that almost two-thirds of the populations in those countries (aside from Turkey) that host U.S. B-61 bombs want Europe to be free of nuclear weapons. Anti-nuclear sentiments were strongest in Italy and Germany (71.5 percent and 70.5 percent, respectively) and weakest in the United Kingdom (55.7 percent). The survey also made clear that more, than 15 years after the end of the Cold War, about 60 percent of the people in Belgium, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands are unaware that U.S. nuclear weapons continue to be deployed in their countries.

 

Brown Supports Continuing UK Nuclear Weapons Program

Gordon Brown, the heir apparent to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, announced his support for developing a successor to the United Kingdom’s strategic submarine fleet June 21. Brown’s support for the program, which could cost as much as $45 billion (see ACT, April 2006), came despite significant public and parliamentary opposition—including within the governing Labour party—to the move.

“In an insecure world we must and always will have the strength to take all necessary measures fro stability and security,” Brown said. The United Kingdom currently deploys 58 U.S.-supplied Trident D5 missiles with up to 200 warheads.

 

 

Posted: December 31, 1969

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