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ACA’s journal, Arms Control Today, remains the best in the market. Well focused. Solidly researched. Prudent.

– Hans Blix,
former IAEA Director-General

European Security

France's Deterrence Policy in Question

French President Jacques Chirac has denied an Oct. 27 report published in the French newspaper Libération that he plans to modify the country’s current policy of nuclear deterrence to “target what the Americans call rogue states.” The paper cites an unidentified French senior military official and indicates that the strategy may evolve over the long term to address a possible threat from China as well.

Chirac’s office issued a statement Oct. 28 stating that his country’s nuclear use policy has not shifted from the deterrence doctrine he outlined in a June 2001 speech at the Institut des Hautes Études de Défense Nationale. However, according to Reuters, French General Bernard Norlain commented Oct. 27 on French LCI television that “there is of course a need to adapt” France’s nuclear policy in light of new threats.

In addition, Libération reported Oct. 28 that France may also examine the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review’s endorsement in January 2002 of low-yield, earth-penetrating nuclear weapons that could be used to destroy underground facilities housing weapons of mass destruction. (See ACT, April 2002.)

Senate Approves NATO Expansion For Seven New Members

Wade Boese

What a difference five years makes. The last time the U.S. Senate weighed extending NATO membership to new countries in 1998, senators debated for four days about how Russia might respond and how much adding new members might cost. But no such concerns marked the debate preceding the Senate’s unanimous May 8 vote endorsing alliance membership for seven additional countries.

With the foreign ministers of the seven candidate countries looking on from the Senate balcony, senators by a 96-0 vote approved the expansion of the 19-member alliance to include Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. In 1998 the Senate backed the memberships of the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland by an 80-19 vote.

This latest expansion moved the alliance even further east toward Russia and, for the first time, included countries that were part of the former Soviet Union—Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Yet, Moscow barely batted an eyelash, unlike the previous round when it protested vehemently. The Kremlin’s subdued response to the growth of its Cold War-era foe reflects in part its warming relations with the West and the May 2002 creation of the NATO-Russia Council, which cemented a closer, more formal NATO-Russia relationship.

Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania also soothed Russian concerns by pledging to accede to an updated version of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty once it enters into force. Moscow had repeatedly stated over the last few years that the three countries should not be admitted to NATO without being parties to the CFE Treaty, which limits the amount and location of heavy weaponry, such as tanks, that its states-parties can deploy.

Russia’s mollified stance was reflected in the Senate debate. In 1998, several senators warned that NATO’s expansion would end rapprochement between Russia and the West and lead Moscow to increase its reliance on nuclear forces. This time, no senator voiced such worries. In fact, Russia was barely mentioned.

Instead, senators indicated that they are more concerned about problems posed to NATO from within rather than from outside. Several senators, led by Carl Levin (D-MI) and John Warner (R-VA), expressed concern that as the alliance grows it will become harder for the alliance to act because it makes decisions by consensus. Senator Jim Jeffords (I-VT) made the strongest statement, declaring, “I am concerned that the alliance has expanded to the point of becoming inefficient and unwieldy.”

Reflecting these concerns, the Senate passed a nonbinding amendment calling on the president to initiate a discussion at NATO on the consensus decision-making rule.

Underlying this Senate initiative, in part, was lingering resentment over the failure of some NATO members to stand firmly with the United States in confronting Iraq over its disarmament. Belgium, France, and Germany strongly opposed U.S.-led military action against Iraq, and Turkey did not grant the United States the use of Turkish territory for launching a northern invasion.

The amendment also called for the president to raise the “merits” of creating a process for suspending a country’s alliance membership if it “no longer complies with NATO principles of democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law.” The process would potentially be applied to a country that became a dictatorship.

The amendment does not specify a U.S. position on either the consensus rule or the suspension issue but only suggests they be brought up for discussion.

Some senators acknowledged that the seven aspiring countries will not contribute much military manpower or might to the alliance, but they expressed confidence that the countries would be able to fill capability niches, such as detecting weapons of mass destruction and demining. They also said they hope the new members will reinvigorate the spirit of the alliance as a club of free-market democracies.

All NATO’s existing members must approve the seven countries’ bids to join the alliance. The United States was the third country to do so, following Canada and Norway. All NATO members agreed last November to extend invitations to the seven countries to join, and they are all expected to approve the seven states’ accession.

The Senate also declared that NATO’s door remains open and that these seven “will not be the last.” Albania, Croatia, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have applied for NATO membership.

 

U.S. Concludes Ukraine Policy Review

The United States completed a review of U.S. policy toward Ukraine in mid-January, concluding that it is in the United States’ best interest to continue pursuing closer ties with Ukraine despite unresolved concerns about its possible export of military equipment to Iraq in violation of a 1990 UN arms embargo.

While describing U.S.-Ukrainian relations as going through their most difficult period since Ukraine’s 1991 independence from the Soviet Union, Steven Pifer, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, said in a February 13 speech that the United States must continue to engage Ukraine and not isolate it. He said the United States would focus on aiding Ukrainian economic and export control reforms, pursuing closer military ties, and bolstering Ukrainian civil society. The latter entails promoting democracy and freedom of the press in Ukraine, according to State Department officials.

This broad engagement, according to State Department spokesman Mark Toner, will take place even though Ukraine “has not satisfactorily answered all our questions” about President Leonid Kuchma’s July 2000 approval of an illicit export of the Kolchuga early-warning system to Iraq. (See ACT, October 2002.) Ukraine contends the export never took place, but a team of U.S. and British investigators who visited Ukraine for eight days last year reported, “The Government of Ukraine (GOU) failed to provide the team with satisfactory evidence that the transfer of a Kolchuga to Iraq could not or did not take place.”

Though the United States intends to pursue better relations with Ukraine, the Kolchuga affair is not going to be forgotten. U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Carlos Pascual noted in a January 9 speech in Washington that “trust has been eroded” between the United States and Ukraine. Another State Department official, who asked to remain anonymous, commented February 21 that the U.S. government intends to be “cautious in contacts with senior [Ukrainian] officials.”

All U.S. assistance to Ukraine during fiscal year 2002 totaled approximately $278 million. Fiscal year 2003 funding is expected to be a little less, but the precise amount is still being determined.

NATO Expands; Members Support Iraqi Disarmament

Wade Boese

At a November 21-22 summit marked by invitations to seven countries to join the alliance, NATO endorsed disarming Iraq, creating a military force capable of fighting anywhere in the world on short notice, and studying missile defenses against all ranges of ballistic missiles. Perfect harmony eluded the summit, however, as Germany and the United States squared off over what happens if Iraq refuses to disarm.

Meeting in Prague, the 19 leaders of NATO members invited Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia to begin accession talks immediately with the goal of becoming full-fledged members by May 2004. Since its 1949 creation, NATO has expanded four times, the last being the 1999 addition of the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland.

The seven new invitees combined have roughly 227,000 active military personnel and military budgets this year totaling $2.8 billion, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies. By comparison, U.S. active duty strength numbers more than 1.4 million troops, and the Pentagon’s budget for fiscal year 2003 is $355 billion.

President George W. Bush downplayed concerns that the seven new members might be unable to contribute much militarily to the alliance’s collective defense due to their small and mostly non-Western forces, saying November 18, “I do believe they can contribute something really important, and that is they can contribute their love for freedom.”

While moving the alliance closer to Russia’s borders and including for the first time a remnant of the former Yugoslavia—Slovenia—the new round of expansion was most notable because of the invitations to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, the three Baltic countries of the former Soviet Union. The summit was the first time that NATO invited any country of the former Soviet Union to join the alliance.

Russia, NATO, and CFE

Moscow, which vigorously protested NATO’s last expansion and wrung pledges from the alliance in May 1997 that it had no intentions or plans to deploy nuclear weapons or permanently station substantial numbers of armed forces on new members’ territories, seemingly resigned itself to the latest expansion, issuing only periodic and muted objections.

Russia’s most common criticism was that Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are not party to the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, which limits the deployment and stationing of conventional weaponry in Europe for 30 countries, including the United States. The three cannot join the CFE Treaty, however, because it does not allow countries to accede. Washington contends that NATO membership and CFE participation are two separate issues.

Nevertheless, the Baltic countries have reportedly indicated that they would favorably consider acceding to an updated version of the CFE Treaty negotiated in 1999 once it enters into force. But that treaty’s entry into force is stalled because NATO members have conditioned their ratification of the revised treaty, which requires all current CFE members to ratify it for it to become legally binding, on Russia fulfilling past pledges to shut down bases and withdraw its forces in Georgia and Moldova. The Kremlin is behind schedule in completing those commitments. (See ACT, September 2002.)

In their November 21 summit communiqué, NATO leaders appeared to suggest to Moscow that future Baltic CFE participation depended upon Russian compliance with its withdrawal commitments. The NATO statement read, “We welcome the approach of those non-CFE countries, which have stated their intention to request accession to the Adapted CFE Treaty upon its entry into force.” It further stated, “We urge swift fulfillment of [Russia’s] commitments on Georgia and Moldova, which will create the conditions for Allies and other States Parties to move forward on ratification of the Adapted CFE Treaty.”

Hosting Bush in St. Petersburg a day after the expansion announcement, Russian President Vladimir Putin commented that Russia did not believe NATO enlargement was justified, but he added, “We do not rule out the possibility of deepening our relations with the alliance.”

NATO repeated that it would keep its door open for other European democracies to join and that Russia is no longer an enemy or threat, but Moscow has said it has no interest in becoming a member. Albania, Croatia, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, however, were passed over on their membership requests.

United Front on Iraq for Now

Although largely devoted to expansion, much of the summit discussion focused on Iraq. NATO issued a statement declaring its support for UN Security Council Resolution 1441 and calling on Iraq to comply “fully and immediately.” The leaders further stated that NATO would take “effective action” to support the UN mission.

But fissures appeared in NATO’s stand, most sharply between the United States and Germany, regarding what would constitute effective action. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said November 21 that effective action would be “whatever it takes to make sure that Saddam Hussein is disarmed.” German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, however, said Germany would not support military action.

U.S. officials downplayed the rift, arguing that the important point is that all NATO members currently agree Iraq must disarm, and Rice said that “we’re not yet at the stage of talking about military action.” Just minutes earlier, however, Rice had told reporters that “the United States is at this point talking to countries, consulting about what might be necessary, what capabilities might be necessary if military action takes place.”

Preparing NATO to Fight

Despite the lack of unanimity over employing military force against Iraq, NATO leaders supported a U.S. initiative to create a roughly 21,000-troop NATO Response Force (NRF) capable of fighting around the globe on as little as seven days’ notice. Use of the force would require consensus by NATO’s decision-making body, the North Atlantic Council.

Expected to be initially ready by October 2004 and fully operational by October 2006, the force is to be comprised of sea, air, and ground assets and be able to operate independently for up to a month. NATO will rotate troops through the new force every six months.

Establishment of the NRF stems from the alliance’s shifting focus of defending against a massive conventional attack from the east to the more disparate and asymmetrical threats posed by rogue states and terrorism.

Also reflecting its changing threat assessment, NATO agreed to study missile defenses against all ranges of ballistic missiles. Before the U.S. June 13 withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that barred defenses against strategic ballistic missiles, key NATO members had publicly opposed U.S. missile defense plans to protect against long-range ballistic missiles, but there is now growing acceptance of the concept.


U.S. Attempts to Sink BWC Review Conference

Kerry Boyd

The United States is demanding that the upcoming Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) review conference make no decisions beyond agreeing to hold another conference in 2006, generating anger among many BWC states-parties.

In talking points distributed to Western allies in early September, the United States called for a “very short” conference, which is scheduled to begin November 11 in Geneva. In meetings with other delegations, Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control Stephen Rademaker originally proposed a 10-minute meeting. The United States, however, took a slightly more flexible stance after allies and arms control experts indicated that was nearly impossible, a State Department official said September 25.
According to the talking points, if the member states attempt to address any issue beyond scheduling another conference in 2006, the United States will publicly list countries it believes are covertly developing biological weapons. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton said in an August 26 speech in Tokyo that Iran, Libya, Syria, and North Korea are seeking biological weapons and that Cuba has “at least a limited” biological warfare research and development program. He said there are other states with covert programs that the United States has not yet named.

The United States has called for a minimal conference out of concern that the meeting will turn into a “train wreck” if countries attempt to address issues beyond agreeing to meet in 2006, the State Department official said.

The United States came under international criticism last year when it said it would not support a proposed legally binding protocol to strengthen the BWC or any efforts to revise the protocol. (See ACT, September 2001.) The BWC lacks any mechanism to verify member states’ compliance, and countries spent more than six years negotiating the draft protocol through an international body known as the Ad Hoc Group to provide such a tool. The United States opposes the protocol out of concerns that proposed mechanisms and inspections might pose a threat to the U.S. biotech industry and biodefense efforts while doing nothing to catch BWC violators. Bolton also said that, despite their success in limiting other weapons, “traditional arms control measures…are not workable for biological weapons.”

In addition to opposing the protocol, the United States created an uproar at the 2001 review conference when it called for an end to the Ad Hoc Group’s mandate to negotiate a legally binding protocol. The conference, at which it had been hoped the protocol would be approved, was suspended for one year with no action taken. (See ACT, January/February 2002.)

The Bush administration continues to call for an end to the Ad Hoc Group, and the U.S. talking points threatened that if the November conference lasts too long the United States would explicitly demand the group’s end. If states-parties meet the U.S. demand for a brief meeting, then the United States would not press the issue at the conference.

The United States offered a package of measures to strengthen efforts to curb biological weapons proliferation at last year’s review conference, but the proposal did not include any legally binding measures. Since then, the United States appears to have moved away from its own proposals and any attempts to strengthen the BWC through states-parties meetings. The United States has told allies that it does not want to hold other meetings to discuss strengthening the treaty before a 2006 review conference.

Despite rejecting the draft protocol and any meetings within the next four years, the Bush administration fully supports the BWC, the State Department official said. The treaty remains “a bedrock of our efforts to counter weapons of mass destruction,” the U.S. talking points say.

The Bush administration has decided, however, that the best way to combat the biological weapons threat is through other forums. Using opportunities beyond the BWC regime avoids the potential that rogue states developing biological weapons programs, some of which are party to the treaty, could scuttle the efforts, the State Department official said.

Other mechanisms the United States is using to combat biological weapons include the Australia Group, 33 countries that coordinate export control policies to prevent biological and chemical weapons proliferation. Bolton also cited new U.S. laws designed to strengthen the country’s ability to defend against biological weapons attacks, multilateral commitments to prevent proliferation in the former Soviet Union, and World Health Organization and NATO efforts to prevent and respond to biological attacks.

The United States has been explaining its position to European states, Japan, South Korea, and other allies. U.S. officials have also discussed the issue with other countries, but the U.S. emphasis is on working with its Western allies, according to the State Department official.

Most of its allies are very unhappy with the U.S. position, according to a Western European official. There might be some room for compromise if countries can agree to hold meetings before a 2006 review conference, such as deciding to meet again in 2003, the official said. There are alternatives that countries could discuss, such as those the United Kingdom put forward in a green paper in June, which included a new international convention to criminalize individual actions to develop, produce, or use biological weapons. However, the prognosis for continuing work is not good, the official said.

Meanwhile, experts from the U.S. pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries and analysts from the Henry L. Stimson Center, a Washington-based policy organization, issued a report in September agreeing with the U.S. decision to reject the draft protocol to the BWC but criticizing the U.S. alternative proposals. “The industry group was genuinely puzzled that their government would advance such tepid proposals after the bioterrorist attacks of 2001 and in view of the continuing efforts of national and subnational actors to acquire biowarfare capabilities,” the report says. The group called for international standards, such as a criminalization treaty.

 

Baltics Deny Plans to Deploy NATO Nuclear Weapons

Christine Kucia

Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia denied Russian allegations in September that they would station tactical nuclear weapons on their territories if they joined NATO.

An unnamed Russian defense ministry official told Interfax news agency September 16, “We have information that some Baltic heads have already expressed their readiness to deploy any type of NATO weapon, including tactical nuclear arms,” if those countries join the alliance. NATO members are expected to approve the accession of the three Baltic countries at a November 19-21 summit in Prague.

Officials from the Baltic states denied that their countries would deploy nuclear weapons on their territories as NATO members. Latvian Prime Minister Andris Berzins blasted the Russian official’s remark as “provocation” and said that “the [Latvian] government has not considered such an issue,” according to a September 16 Baltic News Service (BNS) report. He characterized the Russian comment as “an intentional wish to…create fear and panic among people” prior to the NATO meeting. Linas Linkevicius, Lithuania’s defense minister, told BNS the fears were “ungrounded.”

Estonia’s defense ministry spokesman, Madis Mikko, was somewhat more equivocal, saying that “in the foreseeable future there are no plans” to deploy NATO nuclear weapons, the Associated Press reported September 17. He added, however, that Estonia has not completely ruled out the option.

The possibility that nuclear weapons would be stationed in the Baltics, which serve as a buffer region between Russia and NATO member Poland, has been a source of tension between the alliance and Moscow over the last decade. In an attempt to address Russian concerns, the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act specified that NATO members have “no intention, no plan and no reason to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of new members” and that they do not foresee the need to do so.

For their part, the three Baltic countries have kept a wary eye on Kaliningrad, the small Russian enclave wedged between Lithuania and Poland. Media reports in January 2001 alleged that Russia had moved tactical nuclear weapons into the region—a claim Russian President Vladimir Putin vehemently denied. (See ACT, January/February 2001.) In response to the recent Russian speculation about the Baltic countries housing NATO nuclear arms, Lithuania’s Linkevicius told BNS, “We might have similar fears about Russia’s nuclear weapons deployed in Kaliningrad region.”

Despite the Russian allegation, the candidacy of the Baltic states for entry into NATO appears to be on track, with the alliance prepared to extend invitations to the three countries along with Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia in November, according to a September 26 Washington Post article. Ginte Damusis, Lithuanian ambassador to NATO, said in an interview the same day that although the formal announcement is still several weeks away, work on membership preparations is continuing. Discussions on areas of practical cooperation between the alliance and Russia are “moving forward” in the NATO-Russia Council, the body established in May 2002 to facilitate greater cooperation and dialogue, Damusis said. (See ACT, June 2002.)

The Russian defense official’s contention came as NATO and Russia struggle to construct an acceptable scenario for the Baltic states’ accession to the alliance. In addition to concerns about nuclear deployment in the Baltics, another hurdle was presented September 20 when a Russian official said in a NATO-Russia Council meeting that the Baltic countries should sign on to the adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty prior to their entry into NATO, according to a September 23 Reuters report. If the three countries participated in the CFE Treaty, it would limit the forces that NATO could potentially deploy on their territories.

However, Russia might be using the tactic to stall the NATO enlargement process, a NATO official told Reuters. The CFE Treaty was adapted in 1999, in part to allow new states to join the treaty, but all 30 states party to the original treaty must ratify the adapted version before new countries may accede to the agreement. So far, only two CFE parties have ratified the adapted treaty, with NATO countries refusing to ratify unless Russia withdraws its forces from Georgia and Moldova. (See ACT, July/August 2001.) NATO emphasized in discussions with Russia that enlargement and CFE should remain separate issues, the NATO official said.

 

Russia Has Mixed Success With CFE Implementation

Wade Boese

Russia showed mixed success in July toward meeting commitments under the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty and related agreements, missing a July 1 deadline to vacate a military base in Georgia but reducing the number of weapons located in Moldova.

In November 1999, Russia committed to closing two of its four military bases in Georgia by July 1, 2001, and to withdraw all its CFE-limited weaponry from Moldova by the end of 2001. The CFE Treaty caps the number of tanks, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), heavy artillery, combat aircraft, and attack helicopters that its 30 states-parties can deploy and store between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ural Mountains.

Although it officially handed over control of a Russian military base in Vaziani, Georgia, to Tbilisi on June 29, Russia failed to vacate a base at Gudauta by the July 1 deadline. Moscow claimed the local population had blocked Russian efforts to leave the base and that Georgia had failed to take necessary steps to ensure a safe withdrawal of Russian forces from the region.

Georgia dismissed Russia’s claims, contending that it had proposed alternative ways for Moscow to complete its withdrawal, including destruction of weaponry located at the base, but that Russia had rejected these suggestions. In a July 2 statement released by its Foreign Ministry, Georgia called on Russia to “take immediate and exhaustive measures for timely and complete fulfillment” of its withdrawal obligations.

The two governments are now holding talks to find a compromise, including the possibility of allowing a few hundred Russian troops to remain at the base. They are also trying to negotiate terms for Russia’s withdrawal from two other Georgian bases, which Tbilisi wants done within a three-year period, while Moscow is seeking a time frame of up to 14 years.

In Moldova, Russia is facing a more immediate deadline for complete withdrawal of all of its weapons and forces by the end of 2002. Although Moscow is generally perceived to be dragging its feet on meeting this overall commitment, it made substantial progress in July and August on its obligation to reduce its CFE-limited weaponry by the end of this year. Of the108 T-64 battle tanks and 131 ACVs Russia had in Moldova, just 25 tanks and 57 ACVs remain as of August 28, according to a spokesperson of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is monitoring Russia’s reduction activities in Moldova. Moscow is scheduled to start eliminating 125 heavy artillery pieces in October.

Within its borders, Russia is abiding by its overall CFE Treaty limits but it continues to deploy tanks and ACVs above sub-limits that cap its weapons deployments in its northern and southern regions, according to data from a recent treaty information exchange. The Kremlin claims its non-compliance is necessary to combat “terrorism” in Chechnya.

Russia’s excess is relatively small, numbering not more than 20 tanks and some 130 ACVs above the sublimits, which were outlined in a November 1999 overhaul of the treaty that has yet to enter into force. The United States and its fellow NATO members have conditioned their ratification of the agreement on all states-parties being in compliance with its provisions.

There is speculation that, even though Russia is close to compliance, it is unlikely to reduce its weapons holdings below the sublimits for some time because it may want to send additional forces into Chechnya. The Kremlin may be calculating that it would face less international condemnation and scrutiny by further exceeding the limits than by coming into compliance and then exceeding the limits again.


Countries Conclude Balkan Talks

On July 18, 20 countries, including the United States, wrapped up more than two years of troubled negotiations aimed at bolstering confidence- and security-building measures among states in and around the war-torn Balkans. However, the talks’ final four-page document is modest, consisting mostly of voluntary steps countries may take to build on existing commitments.

Article V of the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords, which ended fighting among Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, called for negotiations “establishing a regional balance in and around the former Yugoslavia.” A chairman for these talks was not appointed until December 1997, and it took Article V participants, including all the countries in southeastern Europe and other interested countries, nearly a year to agree on a mandate. They ultimately decided not to negotiate an arms control treaty capping weapons levels.

Instead, the talks’ objective became obliging Yugoslavia to undertake commitments similar to those in the Vienna Document. A product of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Vienna Document aims to foster transparency and cooperation among the now-55 OSCE member states and calls on countries to exchange information on their militaries, provide notice of certain military exercises, and host foreign military visits.

But the Article V negotiations lost their impetus after Yugoslavia joined the OSCE last November, thereby pledging to adhere to the Vienna Document, following the October ouster of long-time Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. As a result, the “Concluding Document” of the Article V process merely includes several references encouraging countries to expand upon or enhance measures outlined in the Vienna Document. A commission will meet at least once a year to review implementation of the Concluding Document, which will become effective January 1, 2002.

Europe and Missile Defense:Tactical Considerations, Fundamental Concerns

Andrew J. Pierre

In the few months since President George W. Bush's inauguration, administration officials and U.S. press reports have given the impression that European leaders have abandoned their oft-stated reservations about and objections to the U.S. development of missile defenses. The Europeans, it is claimed by administration spokesmen, are for the first time coming to understand the validity of the global missile threat and the fact that it affects Europe's soil as much, if not more, than America's. Moreover, it is suggested, President Bush's strong and clear commitment to missile defense—in contrast to President Bill Clinton's wishy-washy approach—has served as a "wake-up call" to Europe's leaders. According to the administration, not only have the Europeans become persuaded of the inevitability of an American deployment, but having now focused more seriously upon its benefits, they have also dropped most of their objections.

Some support for this claim of a turn-around in European thought can be found in the guarded statements some European leaders made during their first visits to President Bush. British Prime Minister Tony Blair, at the close of a two-day meeting at Camp David in late February, said he would "welcome a dialogue" on missile defense, and the accompanying joint U.S.-British communiqué noted the need to deter "new threats with a strategy that encompasses both offensive and defensive systems." When German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder visited the White House at the end of March, he chose to focus most of his discussion with the president on the Middle East, while indicating that he was reassured by Bush's promise of full consultations on missile defense. French President Jacques Chirac, an early and vocal skeptic of missile defense who consistently drew attention to the risk that abandoning the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty would spur an arms race, has toned down his rhetoric in recent months.

At the same time, in his meeting with Bush, Blair was careful to avoid a direct endorsement of missile defense. During a brief press conference in the Oval Office with Bush, Schroeder indicated that he still had a number of concerns regarding missile defense: What is the nature of the ballistic missile threat? Is a defense technologically feasible? Which nations would be covered by the shield? And although the French may have moderated their public opposition, Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine has stressed the American commitment to consult fully with the allies before moving ahead with missile defense.

The key question now is, are the European nations having an important change of heart, significantly reducing their past reservations about missile defense, or are they pulling their punches, having decided not to press their continued opposition at this time? The answer is complex and has a number of salient elements.

What European leaders have come to accept is that the new American president, being personally committed to missile defense and having placed it at the top of his defense policy platform during his election campaign, is now certain to proceed vigorously—for the Bush administration, the question is not "if" but "how and when." There is every expectation that the administration will propose the architecture of a missile defense plan before the end of the year, probably giving an early indication of its approach within the next months. In addition, many of the European allies have come to acknowledge that there is, in fact, a growing danger from missile proliferation and therefore from weapons of mass destruction. Indeed, given Europe's geographic proximity to a number of "rogue" states, its vulnerability cannot be denied, even though until now European governments have been averse to talking about it too openly because of their reluctance to undertake their own missile defense programs. Finally, all European officials understand that ultimately the decision of the United States cannot but be a sovereign and national one, even though they would hope that considerations involving the Atlantic alliance as a whole be fully taken into account.

But the European leaders' recent desire to avoid confrontation with the Bush administration over missile defense is based primarily on tactical considerations and not on a significant shift in the fundamental concerns that they have about a shield. What the Europeans are saying now should not be taken as their final word on the issue.

 

Tactical Considerations

For the Europeans to respond to the Bush administration's plan for missile defense, there must first, of course, be the presentation of a plan that can be subjected to full and careful analysis in terms of their own interests. Therefore, any pronouncements emanating at this time from Europe are premature. Furthermore, the Europeans know well that the actual deployment of an American missile defense is still years away, probably a decade or more. In other words, it would certainly follow a first Bush administration. Since missile defense in one form or another has been the subject of controversy in the United States for more than 35 years, there is no telling what the policy of a future administration will be. Nor is it possible to foretell future technological developments, which will determine possible missile defense architectures.

In addition to these longer-term considerations, the present reluctance of the Europeans to avoid a confrontation with the new Bush administration is rooted in a number of more immediate, tactical concerns. Prime Minister Blair is facing an election, recently postponed from May to June because of the spread of foot-and-mouth disease. He does not want missile defense to become an election issue, nor does he want to open his government to domestic criticism for allowing a deterioration of the Anglo-American "special relationship," which is somewhat of a myth today but one that is still widely accepted in Britain. Conservative opposition leader William Hague has lambasted the Blair government for failing to wholeheartedly endorse the Bush missile defense approach. While British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook has pointed out that there is no perception of danger in the United Kingdom that would warrant a missile defense and has spoken of the need to respect the ABM Treaty and not increase tensions with Russia through the deployment of missile defense, the Tory "shadow" defense minister, Iain Duncan Smith, has strongly criticized the Blair government for "mindlessly" opposing the idea from the sidelines rather than supporting the United States fully. In Whitehall, the Foreign Office is deeply skeptical of missile defense, but the Ministry of Defense wants to do what is necessary to avoid a row with the Americans.

Domestic political considerations have also played a role in Germany. Volker Ruehe, former Conservative Democratic Union (CDU) minister of defense, and Friedbert Pflueger, chair of the CDU National Committee for Foreign and Security Policies, have criticized the government for not understanding America's need for missile defense and have called for a supportive European policy. However, the dominant view among political elites, including Karl Lamers, foreign policy leader of the CDU Parliamentary Group, is still one of widespread skepticism. Schroeder clearly wishes to avoid opening a debate on nuclear weapons, given the searing and destructive nature of past German nuclear controversies over such issues as intermediate-range nuclear forces, which led to the collapse of Helmut Schmidt's coalition government in 1982 and 16 years out of power for the Social Democratic Party (SPD). Such a debate, close to the 2002 national election, could tear apart both the SPD-Green coalition and the SPD itself. Accordingly, Schroeder has tempered his past criticisms and recently spoken of the need for a NATO-wide approach to missile defense, noting that Germany has an economic interest in not being excluded from European participation in such an endeavor.

With neither London nor Berlin ready to go to battle with Washington at this time, French leaders are momentarily lying low, observing that they are waiting for the explication of the American plan and the promised intensive consultations.

Beyond domestic political considerations, there are a number of other issues at stake in the transatlantic relationship that are of more immediate concern for the Europeans. During his meeting with Bush, Blair extracted a statement of support for a European rapid reaction force under the auspices of the European Union (EU), while muting his criticism of missile defense. Having been one of the two founders of this new military force, Blair was pleased that the many reservations of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and to a lesser extent Secretary of State Colin Powell, which were based on the fear of its duplicating NATO without adding new capabilities, had been overcome. As the Europeans seek to make progress toward a new European Security and Defense Identity, they must overcome the innate reservations that exist in Washington over a venture that many American officials fear would dilute the American influence in Europe. It is already clear that in the run-up to next year's Prague NATO summit, which will take up the further enlargement of NATO, there could well be strong differences between most European nations and the Bush administration over which countries to admit next into NATO and when. There is, for example, much less support in Europe for bringing one or more of the Baltic nations into NATO at this time than there appears to be within the Bush administration.

The U.S. troop level in Kosovo and Bosnia could also clearly become a major bone of contention, should the United States make unilateral withdrawals, as some Bush appointees proposed during the election campaign. And there are significant divergences between the majority of European governments and the Bush administration on other critical issues such as policy toward Russia, policy toward rogue states, the Kyoto convention, and trade matters. Given that the transatlantic highway will need to support an unusually large number of policy discussions and likely controversies over the next years, most of which have a far shorter time fuse than missile defense and are far more relevant to immediate European interests, there is currently little incentive for an early confrontation over missile defense.

The Europeans are clearly pulling their punches for a number of tactical reasons. But the fundamental divergences over missile defense have not disappeared. The Bush administration should take heed not to engage in the self-delusion that it has succeeded in persuading its allies to the cause of missile defense. Public debate in Europe on missile defense has not been widespread, and the issue is only now being given greater attention by the media and the political elite. Most of the discussion has taken place in the three states that have a community of commentators and experts on strategic affairs: Britain, France, and Germany. In these nations, the political elite and media are now giving missile defense more and more attention and, as noted previously, in two of these, there are the stirrings of partisan political debate over the issue.

The Europeans are interested in discussions with Washington aimed toward exploring the content of an allied missile defense, including the nature and level of direct European participation. They acknowledge the long-term dangers of missile proliferation. But there are a host of questions that remain to be answered and issues to be resolved. From the European perspective, the United States has yet to make a convincing, much less compelling, case for a missile defense that is technologically feasible and politically viable in the international context.

 

Fundamental Concerns

Even as European leaders have sought to avoid a confrontation with the United States, their questions and anxieties have increased since the election of President Bush and the certitude that missile defense will be vigorously pursued. This reflects major divergences on a number of critical dimensions of the issue.

Threat Assessments and Strategic Cultures

Most Europeans who examine the issue question the core of the American rationale for missile defense, which is based on the assessment that there is a serious danger from a small number of rogue states that are developing, or could in time acquire, ballistic missiles and that these states are not susceptible to the deterrence which has worked effectively for the past decades. North Korea, Iran, and Iraq are commonly cited, although Libya could be added. Europeans argue that North Korea's motivations for devoting scarce resources to ballistic missiles are explainable to a significant extent as an attempt to gain bargaining leverage in its search for economic assistance and international legitimacy. Missile defense is seen as a disproportionate response to a "famine-ridden Asian backwater with a yearly GDP representing one month's worth of WalMart sales," in the opinion of French strategist Francois Heisbourg.1 When President Bush recently put the missile talks with Pyongyang on hold, ostensibly because of verification concerns, the alarmed European Union immediately filled the breach by announcing that it would send a high-level delegation to the Korean Peninsula for talks to include the missile issue. The right approach toward Iran, it is argued, is to encourage the reformist forces led by President Mohammad Khatami that are now striving to democratize the nation, rather than to treat it as an international pariah. And the best way to limit the missile program in Iraq is to keep Saddam Hussein's regime constrained through sanctions focused on his military programs.

Publics in Europe have yet to follow the missile defense issue very closely, with less than half in Britain, France, Germany, and Italy even having heard of it as of 2000, although this could change as the transatlantic debate proceeds.2 There is hardly any public sense of a ballistic missile threat either from North Korea or from Middle Eastern rogues—even though, as measured by trajectory distances, a threat from Iran or Iraq is more immediately relevant to Europe than to the United States. Indeed, polls indicate that the French public sees the two overriding foreign threats as Islamic fundamentalism and international terrorism. Sir Timothy Garden, former British assistant chief of air staff, notes, "In Europe we don't feel this sense of foreboding and threat which seems to underlie all discussions of NMD in the United States. We feel we are now safer than we can remember in anybody's lifetime. Having lived with the imminent possibility of ballistic missile attack for some 40 years, we now find it refreshing that we have to cast around on the off chance that we might find some small state somewhere that sometime might, for reasons that we can't understand, send missiles toward us."3

Governments, however, have begun listening more seriously to Washington's arguments. In late 1999, the United States briefed European governments about its estimate of the coming ballistic missile threat, and this form of consultation is certain to be renewed and deepened as the Bush plan for missile defense is unveiled. European defense ministries, in particular, acknowledge a theoretical threat, although their timeline for its possible appearance is longer than that of the American intelligence community. But there remains the critical question of whether the planned American response to the threat will not be disproportionate to the threat itself. And what if, Europeans ask, North Korea is persuaded to end its program in return for economic benefits, Iran becomes a democratic and benign nation, and Saddam Hussein's regime comes to an end?

Underlying the varying American and European perspectives are differing strategic cultures. The dominant American way of making threat assessments is to focus on actual or prospective military capabilities, while the Europeans are far more likely to value the estimate of political intentions. Americans look for the military means that a rogue state might use in a crisis or in a situation ripe for blackmail, while Europeans pay more attention to the overall political context. Thus, in fashioning a response, Americans are more prone to use hardware and technological solutions, such as missile defense, while Europeans are more attracted to intellectual software to guide them toward a political solution. A report by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the British House of Commons noted its concern that the "USA over-emphasizes the capability component of the threat equation, when it comes to assessing the extent of the threat it faces, and attaches too little importance to intention."4

Another difference in strategic culture is due to contrasting acceptances of vulnerability. Europeans have had centuries of armed conflicts with their neighbors and numerous invasions of their soil. Consequently, their historical experience has taught them to live with vulnerability and uncertainty. Magical solutions, such as the Maginot Line, have been discredited. Historical realism reigns paramount. In contrast, American soil has been inviolate with the exception of the War of 1812. Although the now-popular term "homeland defense" implicitly suggests that absolute security is achievable, many Americans do not fully recognize that the United States has been vulnerable to missile attack for decades. Technological optimism pervades society. A presidential initiative for a defensive shield of 50 states may therefore be politically attractive despite the costs and uncertainties involved.

Arms Control and the ABM Treaty

The Europeans fear that, should missile defense lead the United States to withdraw unilaterally from the ABM Treaty, the result would be a major breakdown in the structure of strategic arms control, which has been painstakingly built over almost four decades. Although not a party to the treaty themselves, the Europeans remain firmly of the view that it is the dominance of offensive weapons and the resulting deterrence that has kept the peace. They do not agree with Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's characterization of the ABM Treaty as "ancient history." Rather, they see it as being the bedrock of the overall arms control regime for dealing with nuclear weapons, as much now as in past decades. President Bush's reported instruction to his principal aides to think beyond the constraints of the treaty in coming up with a missile defense plan and to design the system they think the United States needs regardless of the treaty's provisions is worrisome to those Europeans who are aware of it. And the movement of the United States away from supporting arms control agreements, such as the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty or the Ottawa treaty on landmines, is viewed as a troubling departure from multilateral cooperation for international security.

An American agreement with Russia to modify the treaty so as to permit a limited missile defense would alleviate many of Europe's concerns. The Europeans would welcome a parallel understanding that led to deep reductions in Russian and American offensive forces—preferably even below proposed START III levels—through either a negotiated agreement or mutually agreed upon unilateral steps similar to the Bush-Gorbachev reciprocal declarations of 1991 concerning tactical nuclear weapons. This could lead to a new mix of offensive and defensive strategic capabilities that still preserved deterrence. But such measures, in the Europeans' view, should be in place before the United States proceeds with missile defense. One concern is that, in a rush to begin building an X-band radar in Alaska this year or next (in order to have a system completed by 2005 or 2006, when intelligence estimates say North Korea might have an ICBM), the United States may violate the treaty or, worse still, that the Bush administration might withdraw from it.

Should the United States move ahead unilaterally with missile defense without an agreement with Russia on revising the ABM Treaty, the Europeans fear that Moscow could respond by withdrawing from START II and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. This, some European experts believe, would reverse the trend of past decades and could lead to a renewal of the arms race. Europeans have also expressed concern about China, which has indicated that it would respond by greatly accelerating its strategic nuclear modernization program with the purpose of overcoming a limited American missile defense.

Ultimately, however, Europeans must focus primarily upon their continent and its security link to the United States. Many European strategists see the dangers of a strategic "decoupling" of the United States from Europe, should there ever come a time when the United States is "protected" from even a limited missile attack and Europe is left "naked." This could undermine the implicit nuclear guarantee and the broader security relationship that has been the keystone of the Atlantic alliance for the past half-century. Were circumstances to arise whereby, in a crisis with a power thought to have a missile capability, there was a need for joint action, the vulnerability of Europe compared to a secure United States might lead to conflicting interests and objectives, ultimately vitiating a collective response. With the United States protected, might not a vulnerable Europe be subject to blackmail by a rogue state? (Of course, the argument can be reversed: might the United States not be more likely to respond if it is safe behind its missile shield?) For such reasons, the Bush administration's rhetorical shift away from a national missile defense has been well received, as has the stated intention to work with the Europeans toward constructing an allied missile defense.

The French and British have special worries related to their own nuclear forces. Although the deployment of a limited Russian missile defense beyond the present Galosh interceptors in the Moscow region, might not significantly degrade their current capabilities, the abrogation of the ABM Treaty and any resulting additional Russian missile defenses could pose a new situation, leading Paris and London to conclude that they must seek an upgrade of their missile forces. An additional dilemma for the British arises out of a likely American request for an upgrade or replacement of the critical early-warning radar facilities at Fylingdales and the joint satellite communications links at Menwith Hill. The Blair government has sought to avoid a public debate on these upgrades because they could violate the ABM Treaty, and ultimately these radar facilities could become the targets of a state seeking to overwhelm a U.S. missile defense. It is acknowledged in London, however, that whatever reservations the British may harbor about missile defense, it would be extremely awkward for London not to cooperate given the historically close collaboration with the United States in both intelligence and nuclear matters.

Similarly, in Denmark there are concerns about upgrading the Thule radar facilities in Greenland. The prime minister of Greenland's Homerule government has spoken of the absolute necessity of maintaining the ABM Treaty if permission is to be given to upgrade the radar for missile defense.

Policy Toward Russia

With the arrival of the Bush administration, there has been a growing divergence between Europe and the United States on how to deal with Vladimir Putin's Russia. This divergence has already impacted the missile defense question and could affect the way issues related to the ABM Treaty are resolved. The initial inclination of the new team has been to downgrade the status of Russia as a world power in American foreign policy and to reverse the policy of engagement in the Russian economy and society that characterized the Clinton years. Money for cooperative nuclear threat reduction activities in Russia is being reduced, and there is talk of enlarging NATO to include some former Soviet states. Moscow's suggestion of an early summit meeting was rebuffed, and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld criticized Russia as "an active proliferator" for providing dangerous technologies to rogue states such as Iran.

The European nations, on the other hand, have sought to build a more cooperative relationship with Moscow. They feel the need to engage Russia on issues ranging from the Balkans to trade to the ABM Treaty. For his part, President Putin has shifted Moscow's attention toward Europe and has sought to strengthen political and economic ties between Europe and Russia. He has engaged in a more active round of bilateral meetings with European leaders than did Boris Yeltsin and was invited to join a European summit meeting in Stockholm. Javier Solana, now secretary-general of the Council of the European Union and former secretary-general of NATO, recently observed that the European Union is rapidly shaping a profound strategic partnership with Russia. The Europeans have indicated to Moscow that they will not allow Russia to drive a wedge between them and the United States. But, with the exception of Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar of Spain, today's governments in Western Europe are led by parties of the center-left that have yet to feel totally comfortable with the new, more "realist" Republican administration. They particularly do not support what they see as evidence of a new American unilateralism, ranging from the rejection of the CTBT to possible troop withdrawals in the Balkans to the U.S. attitude toward the Kyoto Protocol. They want to see the retention of an engaged Western security relationship with Russia.

Accordingly, the Europeans will pay very close attention to how the Bush administration deals with Russia concerning the ABM Treaty. As indicated above, serious negotiations that led either to an amended treaty or to a new treaty that permitted a limited level of missile defense would be well received, probably with a sigh of relief. President Bush's full review of the U.S. nuclear posture now underway is seen as a much needed step. An agreement with Moscow that developed a new mix of a lower level of offensive strategic and limited defensive forces could be the best possible outcome—provided, of course, that the overarching principle of nuclear deterrence was maintained.

Significantly, therefore, some European analysts view Russia as a potential part of the solution to the missile defense conundrum rather than as a contributor to the problem. Russia's recent public recognition that there is indeed a threat from missile proliferation and weapons of mass destruction is seen as a positive step forward. (Interestingly, Russia's own list of rogue-equivalents includes North Korea, Iraq, and Iran.) They welcome President Putin's initiatives in opening dialogue with North Korea and Iran, cognizant of the need to balance the possible benefits that might ensue against the risks and reality of Russian military assistance to these two countries.

In Europe's eyes, potentially the most important Russian initiative was begun when then-Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev presented NATO Secretary-General George Robertson on February 20 with a plan for the joint development of a theater missile defense (TMD). Criticized as being long on generalities and short on specifics, such as technical parameters and cost estimates, Moscow's proposal nevertheless could become the first step toward the development of a cooperative effort between Europe and Russia in defending against rogue states. Reportedly based on the mobile S-300 and the soon-to-be-completed S-400 (similar to the U.S. Patriot), which are intended as air defense systems, such a defense would be more effective against enemy aircraft than missiles. But because it would use interceptors designed only to counter non-strategic ballistic missiles, the system proposed by the Russians would fall within the limits allowed by the ABM Treaty and the 1997 demarcation agreements.

Thus far, the plan has brought little response from the West, and Russia is due to provide further exposition at a meeting of the Russian-NATO Permanent Joint Council in Brussels. Although there are American suspicions that the proposal is little more than a Russian plan to split the European missile defense doubters from the American proponents, there is little to be lost in commencing a dialogue on missile defense with the Russians, and there could be some value. The risks are negligible since Lord Robertson, Chancellor Schroeder, and other European leaders have made it crystal clear that, whatever their doubts about missile defense, they will not allow their countries to be split from the United States.

Opportunity Costs

As the Europeans contemplate missile defense, including their own potential participation in an eventual U.S.-European project, they must also recognize the opportunity costs that would be involved. These opportunity costs are both economic and political. For the United States, a national missile defense could be considered affordable. Initial outlays of $3 billion to $6 billion per year and subsequent growth suggest the cost might reach $100 billion over a decade or more, an arguably manageable amount in an annual defense budget of close to $350 billion. Given the strategic priority that the Bush administration has accorded missile defense, it would find this justifiable.

But Europe has a different set of priorities. A European theater missile defense program that cost as little as 25 percent of the U.S. total would put a very large crimp in national defense budgets. More importantly, as Europe coalesces under the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP), it has other foreign and security policy priorities. Under the Helsinki goals adopted in December 1999, the members of the European Union are committed to fielding a rapid reaction force of 60,000 soldiers by 2003. Such a force, in order to have effective power projection, will require support systems that are currently not available, such as intelligence satellites, advanced command and communications systems, and adequate air transport and sealift capacities. Already, Europe supplies four times as many troops in Bosnia and Kosovo as does the United States. The European Union has undertaken primary responsibility for the reconstruction of the Balkans through the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe. And the costs of enlarging the EU to include new members from central and eastern Europe over the next 10-20 years will be sizeable.

As it is, both ESDP and the Stability Pact have credibility problems due to lack of adequate funding. The United States, for its part, is urging the Europeans to spend more on defense at a time when their defense budgets are declining. Washington is making its full support for ESDP implicitly contingent on the funding of new military capabilities rather than the duplication of the existing NATO force structure. Moreover, the Europeans are being pressed by the United States through NATO's Defense Capabilities Initiative, originated by former Secretary of Defense William Cohen, to acquire the high-tech weaponry needed for the modern battlefield. In addition, the Europeans are struggling with the difficulties of maintaining the high standards of the state-sponsored societal benefits to which they have grown accustomed in such matters as health, education, and pensions. For all these reasons, Europe's present foreign and domestic concerns are more focused on the more immediate problems of Europe, including the Balkans, EU enlargement, and their own societies, than they are on the hypothetical threat of ballistic missiles from distant states that may not be so hostile to them.

 

Toward an Allied Missile Defense

In part to pre-empt and respond to European concerns, Secretaries Powell and Rumsfeld have frequently promised that, in addition to protecting the 50 states, the Bush missile defense plan will be designed to defend America's friends and allies, as well as U.S. troops deployed overseas. How this sweeping commitment, which on its face extends to Asian as well as European allies, will actually be carried out is an intriguing and important question. In dropping the word "national" before "missile defense" this March, Rumsfeld declared that he no longer thought in terms of "national" or "theater" systems and that the purpose of creating a unified approach is to avoid "significant differentials in vulnerabilities" between the United States and its allies.

The concept of an "allied missile defense," a phrase first used in the Bush campaign, is not totally novel. NATO has been working on developing a theater missile defense for several years. In time, this effort could be melded with the new plan for the missile defense of the United States, thereby creating an allied missile defense.5

This coming June, NATO's Consultation, Command and Communications Agency will award two contracts of $13.5 million each for feasibility studies to design a future theater missile defense system for the alliance. According to Robert Bell, NATO assistant secretary-general for defense support and a former defense and arms control official on Clinton's National Security Council, this should put the alliance in position to make a well-informed decision in 2004 on the development of a program and could lead to initial deployments by approximately 2010.6

As presently envisioned, NATO's TMD project will be a multilayered extension of its air defense system with the anti-missile element having two components: a lower-range package including the U.S. Patriot Advanced Capability-3 with some European contributions; and a higher-range package including the U.S. Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), which is scheduled to be deployed in 2007. Such a plan would replace the ill-fated MEADS (Medium Extended Air Defense System) program, the major multinational NATO air defense endeavor of the past decade, which has faced multiple problems and delays.

This new theater missile defense, it is important to note, will not be designed to defend against intercontinental ballistic missiles and will therefore not contravene the ABM Treaty. Rather, it is primarily intended to provide NATO with the ability to protect a corps-size deployment of troops and some limited, close-in territory. It will, nevertheless, give NATO the ability to interdict short-range missiles, such as Scuds, aimed at targets such as cities and ports. There is, therefore, the possibility of an eventual melding of a high-tech missile defense system built for the United States, if and when achieved, with a considerably more limited theater missile defense system built for Europe (or Asia). Whether this constitutes something called an allied missile defense, sufficient to avoid a perception of "decoupling," is an open question.

An allied missile defense that includes a major European TMD component produces a gleam in the eye of European defense industries. Such a project would undoubtedly become the largest transatlantic weapons collaboration of all time. Four sets of major American and European defense contractors have already teamed together. Although the resulting technology transfers would be two-way, the Europeans would certainly benefit the most. This helps account for some of the recent European reticence in criticizing American missile defense plans (e.g., Schroeder's mention of the possible benefits for German industry). French industry has also shown interest, even though the Quai d'Orsay has little good to say about missile defense. And even the Russians have shown an interest in participating in NATO's TMD program, pointing out the opportunities that exist in their own European-wide TMD proposal for technological collaboration.

Of course, there are problems with a potential collaborative effort. European defense planners harbor doubts regarding the extent to which the United States is ultimately prepared for a large amount of high-level technology transfers. And although they concede that there may be a political case for involving Moscow, they doubt that the Russians would be able to bring much scientific knowledge to the table. Another major issue is money. Given the ever-tightening constraints on European defense budgets and the opportunity costs listed earlier, the governments are likely to insist that, if the Americans want allied missile defense, then they should pay for it or at least provide financial assistance. But such an approach is not likely to find favor in a Washington that will be searching for the means to pay for the expensive missile defense of the United States and that has—perhaps wishfully—convinced itself that Europe's interests in its own missile defense are self-evident.

 

Narrowing the U.S.-European Gap

The gap between Europe and the United States on missile defense remains wide. Unlike most of the great transatlantic security debates of the past, such as the controversies over the multilateral nuclear force in the 1960s, the neutron bomb in the 1970s, intermediate-range nuclear forces in the 1980s, and NATO enlargement in the 1990s—all instances in which the Europeans (like the Americans) were split among themselves—the Europeans in today's missile defense debate are generally unified. The fissures are much deeper on the American side.

With a few exceptions, those Europeans who are engaged with the issue have yet to be persuaded that the United States has made a compelling case for missile defense. As we have seen, their skepticism is based upon fundamental considerations, such as the seriousness of the threat, the opportunity costs in relation to other European foreign and security policy priorities, the future of the ABM Treaty and international arms control, and the impact on relations with Russia and China. To this must be added doubts about the technological feasibility of missile defenses and the financial cost of their participation in an allied missile defense project.

The Europeans are calibrating their positions and their diplomacy fully cognizant of the fact that missile defense is a long-term issue. The required technology is not likely to be ready and deployable for a decade. Who knows what U.S. policy will be in 2010? Will there still be rogue states and, if so, which? What will be the true nature of the threat? Although ballistic missile proliferation cannot be discounted—and the Europeans have increasingly acknowledged the problems it presents—they are fully aware that it is only one dimension of the threat from weapons of mass destruction. Still more than the United States, protected by two large oceans, the Europeans are vulnerable to surreptitious entry of biological, chemical, and nuclear materials through their porous borders. For the Europeans, therefore, missile defense is seen as nothing more than a particular solution to a relatively narrow problem.

In addition, European leaders are deeply reluctant to take steps that could open a debate within their own countries about nuclear weapons. The divisive and ugly history of such controversies in Europe, such as the Ban the Bomb unilateral disarmament campaign in the late 1950s in Britain and the Pershing-2 deployment issue in Germany in the early 1980s, is not forgotten. Public support for the British and French nuclear forces has fallen, as has European support for and interest in defense programs in general. The conviction held by many Americans, that if the nation can be protected, it must be, simply does not resonate equally in Europe. European publics know no more about missile defense than the American public knows about the European rapid reaction force.

The Bush administration has promised the European governments close and complete consultations. But what does this mean? Too often in the past close consultations have been more readily proclaimed than performed. The traditional pattern has been to fight the Washington policy wars to the point of exhaustion, after which the results are explained to the allies with the admonition that it would be too difficult to reopen any major issues.

Allied missile defense will require a new approach to consultations if it is to be realized. A true partnership is called for, involving early and extensive consultations. The allies should participate in the decision-making, not just in subsequent decision-sharing. This means involvement in decisions regarding the missile defense architecture to be selected. A multilayered architecture that relies on boost-phase interceptors, for example, would have direct implications for, and could well be integrated with, a European theater missile defense. Similarly, the Europeans should be closely consulted on any renewed American approach to Russia regarding the ABM Treaty and discussions with China and Asian allies. European objections will be reduced and confidence enhanced to the extent that European governments are listened to at an early stage. For the United States to manage this complex endeavor successfully, it will have to accept a deeper level of openness and cooperation with its allies than ever before. An excellent place to start would be President Bush's visit to NATO in June.

 

NOTES

1. Francois Heisbourg, "Brussels's Burden," The Washington Quarterly, Summer 2000, p. 129.

2. Office of Research, Department of State, "Key Allied Publics Say: National Missile What?" July 10, 2000.

3. Comments made at "International Perspectives on National Missile Defense," BASIC Forum held at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, September 18, 2000.

4. Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, Eighth Report, Weapons of Mass Destruction: National Missile Defense and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, House of Commons, August 2, 2000.

5. President Bill Clinton, at the close of a U.S.-EU summit in March 2000 in Lisbon, en route to Moscow for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, did indicate that he was willing to share the planned limited defense shield with U.S. allies and other "civilized nations," but his administration never developed this thought much further.

6. Luke Hill, "TMD: NATO Starts the Count," Jane's Defense Weekly, January 3, 2001.

 


Andrew J. Pierre is a senior associate at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy and adjunct professor in the National Security Studies Program, both at Georgetown University. He formerly served as director-general of the Atlantic Institute for International Affairs in Paris.

Moscow Reportedly Moves Tactical Nuclear Arms to Baltics

Philipp C. Bleek

Russia has reportedly moved tactical nuclear weapons to a military base in Kaliningrad, an action that would contravene its apparent pledge to keep the Baltic region nuclear-free and could violate its 1991 commitment not to deploy tactical nuclear weapons. Russian officials have vehemently denied the allegations.

The move was first reported January 3 by The Washington Times, which cited unnamed intelligence sources and classified Defense Intelligence Agency reports, and stated that U.S. officials first became aware of the weapons transfers last June. Following initial press reports, U.S. news organizations reported senior U.S. officials as confirming that the Clinton administration believes Russia has moved tactical nuclear warheads during the past year to the isolated Russian region, which is located between Poland and Lithuania.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright would not confirm or deny the reports when asked about them January 4, but State Department spokesman Richard Boucher indicated January 3 that the department would be pursuing the issue with Moscow. The Washington Post cited senior U.S. officials as saying they had been closely following Russia's "handling of non-strategic nuclear weapons at stockpile sites" and were neither surprised nor alarmed by recent developments.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called the allegations "rubbish" when questioned by a reporter January 6. And, in interviews with Russian news agencies, Vladimir Yegorov, a former Baltic Fleet commander and the newly elected governor of Kaliningrad, derisively dismissed the allegations as a "dangerous joke" and bluntly denied that the fleet has nuclear weapons.

Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev withdrew nuclear submarines from the Baltic Sea in 1989 and said that Russia was "prepared to come to agreement with all the nuclear powers and the Baltic states on effective guarantees for the nuclear-free status of the Baltic Sea." No formal agreement was ever pursued, but both U.S. and Russian officials, including Baltic Fleet officers, maintain that Russia has committed to keeping nuclear weapons out of the region.

In late 1991, responding to initiatives announced by President George Bush, Gorbachev pledged to withdraw all naval tactical nuclear weapons from service to be either destroyed or placed in "central storage sites" and to destroy all nuclear warheads for artillery and tactical land-based missiles. These pledges were reaffirmed in 1992 by Russian President Boris Yeltsin following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The presence of any stockpiled weapons in Kaliningrad would violate Russia's apparent pledge to keep nuclear weapons out of the Baltics, and the more serious step of deploying tactical nuclear weapons would clearly violate its 1991 commitment. Russian officials have so far failed to clarify whether the Baltic outpost serves as a storage site for tactical nuclear weapons, although U.S. intelligence officials told The Washington Post that Russia used Kaliningrad as a depot for tactical nuclear weapons that were removed from naval vessels in the early 1990s.

Currently, the United States deploys an estimated 200-400 tactical nuclear gravity bombs on NATO bases in Europe, deployments long protested by Russia, and reportedly stockpiles several hundred Tomahawk nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missiles and more than a thousand nuclear-armed gravity bombs. All of these weapons systems are classed as "tactical" and have yet to be included in any arms control treaties, although there has been some discussion of limiting tactical nuclear weapons under a prospective START III agreement. The size of Russia's tactical nuclear weapons stockpile is the subject of considerable speculation, but Russia has almost certainly not destroyed all its artillery and land-based tactical missile warheads, due at least in part to financial constraints.

Many analysts argue that any deployed tactical nuclear weapons would likely be intended to serve as a response to NATO enlargement and Western military power in the face of continued Russian conventional force decline. Russia vociferously opposed NATO's 1999 expansion to include Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. Several Baltic states—Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia—are currently vying to join the alliance in 2002, a move Russian officials have vigorously condemned. Kaliningrad, which is geographically separated from mainland Russia, is considered a key strategic site by Russia's military and would only be further isolated if Lithuania were to join NATO.

Russia conducted a series of war games in June 1999 that simulated a conventional NATO air and sea-based assault on Russia's western and central territory, reportedly beginning with attacks on Kaliningrad. Discussing the "Zapad-99" exercise at a Kremlin press conference the following month, Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev stated that "the decision to use nuclear weapons was made" after conventional defenses "proved ineffective [and the] enemy continued to push into Russia." Sergeyev emphasized that the simulated nuclear use, reportedly several nuclear-armed air-launched cruise missiles, was intended to test "one of the provisions of Russia's military doctrine." (See ACT, January/February 2000. )

Baltic government officials have expressed concern about the reports of nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad, and in a January 7 radio interview Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski called for "international inspections in cooperation with Russia."

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