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former IAEA Director-General

European Security

Between Noble Goals and Sobering Reality: An Interview with EU Nonproliferation Chief Annalisa Giannella

Oliver Meier

In October 2003, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana appointed Annalisa Giannella as his personal representative on nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Her main job is to oversee the implementation of the European Strategy Against the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, which was approved by EU heads of government in December 2003 in conjunction with the European Security Strategy.

Giannella’s mandate covers all issues relating to the European Union’s policies on weapons of mass destruction, including the current negotiations with Iran.

In a July 26 interview with Arms Control Today, Giannella discussed a number of external and internal difficulties hampering European efforts to develop an effective and coherent nonproliferation policy. The interview made clear that, on major issues such as talks with Iran, U.S. support for European efforts to halt the spread of weapons of mass destruction continues to remain an essential condition for success. On some issues, including nuclear disarmament and the lifting of the EU embargo on arms to China, Europe and the United States continue to be out of synch.

Overall, the EU seems to have settled for a less ambitious nonproliferation policy. Achieving unity among the 25 EU member states in an enlarged union has become more difficult and sometimes appears to be an end in itself, rather than a means to achieve arms control goals. Given the current impasse on many multilateral arms control issues, the EU is increasingly shifting the focus of its nonproliferation efforts to bilateral agreements and export controls.


On Aug. 5, the EU submitted a comprehensive proposal to resolve the nuclear crisis with Iran. Tehran responded by dismissing the offer as inadequate and restarting uranium conversion operations at its facility in Isfahan (see "Iran Restarts Uranium Conversion"). Still, Giannella contended that talks between the EU and Iran had already had a positive effect in bringing Iran out of international isolation and halting the development of a potential nuclear weapons program.

Giannella predicted that the EU would support referral of Iran’s nuclear file to the UN Security Council if “the negotiation process is broken.” She argued that the positive element of Iran’s cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would no longer counterbalance the mistrust created by concealment of certain past nuclear activities by Tehran. The IAEA has found that Tehran had previously violated several of its obligations under nuclear safeguards agreements requiring Iran to report relevant nuclear activities to the agency.

Still, in Giannella’s view, referral to the Security Council would be the beginning of “a new process” that does not preclude a political solution to the crisis. “Everybody knows that the Security Council can adopt sanctions, but the Security Council also can decide to encourage, to frame the negotiations. The Security Council is a process. It’s not a one-shot event,” she said.

Giannella also said that cooperation with Russia on Iran issues is “excellent.” Russia has completed construction of Iran’s nearly operational light-water nuclear reactor at Bushehr and hopes to build more nuclear facilities in Iran in the future. It has also concluded an agreement on the supply of nuclear fuel and retrieval of spent fuel from the facility. “We take into account the fact that Russia has already concluded a contract with Iran for the supply of fuel for Bushehr I. We also take into account the possibility that Russia would supply Iran with a Bushehr II reactor. On the other hand, we understand that Iran does not necessarily want to depend exclusively on one country and would like to have other guarantees in order to have a power generation program that is totally safe.”

Transatlantic Issues

Giannella acknowledged that transatlantic divisions on arms control issues remain more than two years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, which split EU members and boosted efforts to forge a unified European nonproliferation policy.

China Arms Embargo

Giannella confirmed that the EU still intends to lift the arms embargo against China eventually, saying that “we are always moving in that direction, and we are working in that direction.”

Beijing is pressing the EU to lift its 1989 arms embargo on China, while Washington is insisting that the EU retain the ban (see U.S., Israel Reach China Arms Deal). The current British-held EU presidency is unlikely to move forward on the matter because London is sympathetic to U.S. opposition to lifting the ban.

Giannella outlined a possible concession to opponents of lifting the arms embargo. She said measures contained in a voluntary 1998 code of conduct on conventional arms exports are going to be put into a legally binding Common Position. She also said that the “rules of the code of conduct have been reinforced and complemented.”

Other issues are also likely to come into play. Giannella noted that the EU is in constant discussions with the United States on those issues, including a regular strategic dialogue on Asia as well as a dialogue on East Asia that also includes Japan. As a third factor, she mentioned the necessity for China to make progress on human right issues. Giannella stated that “the decision to lift the embargo will be taken in the light of these three aspects. But as I said, the trend has been set, and it is for our political leaders to assess the balance of these three.”

Nuclear Disarmament and Nonproliferation

Giannella also acknowledged that transatlantic divisions remain on nuclear disarmament. She observed that “there is not necessarily a convergence of views between the EU and the Americans.” She noted that, although EU-U.S. summits usually agree on a common agenda to fight proliferation, past summits were unable to agree on common language on disarmament issues.

Efforts to close the transatlantic gap include planned discussions between the United States and the EU on compliance with arms control and nonproliferation agreements. “We have agreed now to conduct specific consultations in the field of compliance.... Maybe closer cooperation in the field of compliance can help us in allaying the concerns of our American friends. And maybe we’ll have more cooperation in the area of disarmament as well.”

Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

The difficulty of forging common EU-U.S. positions was evident during May’s nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in New York.[1] Despite the failure of the once-every-five-years diplomatic session to agree on substantive measures to strengthen the accord, Giannella voiced satisfaction with the EU’s performance. She argued that, given “the starting positions of our member states, which are very different for political reasons, historic reasons, and because of differences of status in the [United Nations], it was a real effort, a real achievement” for the EU to agree on a common position. This binding document, which was approved by the European Council on April 25-26, provided a consensus basis and guideline for EU action before and during the review conference. The document included 43 specific measures to strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation regime, from making the 1997 Model Additional Protocol the new safeguards standard under the treaty to changes intended to bolster the IAEA.[2]

Giannella said the EU was successful in getting the support of a number of states, including members of NATO and the New Agenda Coalition.[3] She said it was the fault of certain non-European NPT member states, particularly those “who did not necessarily have the same objective as the EU,” that the EU was unable to translate any of the goals contained in the common position into action.

Nonproliferation Capacity-Building

Still, Giannella painted a mixed picture of the EU’s nonproliferation capacities. She highlighted that the EU is increasingly integrating nonproliferation policies into its external relations, in particular by including nonproliferation clauses in trade and cooperation agreements with third countries, and detailed a series of such accords. Such linkages between security and economics have been included in agreements with Albania and Tajikistan; an agreement with Syria has been initialed but has not entered into force because of “other events in the country and in the region;” and there is agreement to include nonproliferation clauses in agreements with the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council[4] and in the renewal of the Cotonou Agreement (African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries). The EU is also negotiating with Mercosur about a nonproliferation clause.[5]

The interview was conducted at a time of institutional crisis for the EU. In May and June, two referenda on the new European constitution failed in France and The Netherlands, raising doubts about the viability of an institutional reform of the Common and Foreign Security Policy (CFSP) of the EU, including the creation of the post of EU minister for foreign affairs. As a result, the EU will continue to have two officials responsible for its CFSP.[6] Giannella, however, was upbeat that this “complication…can be overcome by increasing coordination” within the EU. “I’m not saying that this is an ideal situation, but it’s not necessarily a real obstacle to the development of the CFSP,” she said, referring to the CFSP’s development as a long-term exercise.

Giannella mentioned a number of specific measures the EU has taken to support multilateral arms control institutions, including the adoption of a joint action to support the IAEA. Joint actions enable the EU to become active on a certain issue and outline the scope and purpose of the EU’s operation. In the fall of 2005, the EU plans to adopt a joint action to support the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague, which oversees the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Adoption of another joint action to support the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) is envisaged, but Giannella pointed out that in this case the EU is having difficulties in identifying a partner that would receive European support. That is in part because efforts to negotiate an international monitoring mechanism for the BWC broke down in August 2001, so there still is no multilateral verification agency in the biological weapons area.

The EU also lacks the institutional capacity to pursue all the goals contained in its WMD strategy. For example, a joint action to support the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty will not be worked on until the beginning of 2006 because the EU does “not have enough resources, whether human or financial, to launch too many joint actions in a short period of time,” Giannella said.

Despite these obstacles, Europe continues to pursue an ambitious nonproliferation policy. “Europeans are always in favor of a diplomatic solution, a political solution. If you read the WMD strategy, we say we want to fight against proliferation, but we want to address the root causes of proliferation. We try to understand why there are countries that are attracted by the development of a WMD program,” Giannella stated.

Click here for a complete transcript of this interview.

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


1. For a summary of the review conference, see Wade Boese, “Nuclear Nonproliferation Meeting Sputters,” Arms Control Today, July/August 2005, pp. 22-23.

2. For background on the EU’s nonproliferation policies, see Oliver Meier and Gerrard Quille, “Testing Time for Europe’s Nonproliferation Strategy,“ Arms Control Today, May 2005, pp. 4-12.

3. The member states of the New Agenda Coalition are Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and Sweden. These countries frequently issue joint proposals to advance nuclear disarmament.

4. The Gulf Cooperation Council is an organization founded in 1981 that includes six Persian Gulf states: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates and aims to unify its participants economically and politically in a manner similar to the EU.

5. Mercosur (Mercado Común del Cono Sur) is a 1991 free-trade agreement between Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Bolivia and Chile are associated members.

6. Currently, two officials share responsibility for the EU’s foreign policy. Benita Ferrera-Waldner is the EU commissioner for external relations, working for the EU Commission. Javier Solana is the EU Council’s high representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy. The EU Constitution proposed to unify these two posts and to create the post of union minister of foreign affairs, who would be responsible for the representation of the union on the international scene.



Posted: September 1, 2005

Belgium, Germany Question U.S. Tactical Nuclear Weapons in Europe

Oliver Meier

With May’s nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference as a spur, German and Belgian politicians are calling on NATO to work toward the withdrawal of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in Europe.

On May 2, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, a Green Party member, called proposals to remove these weapons from Europe a “reasonable initiative.” Gert Weisskirchen, the foreign affairs spokesperson for Germany’s Social Democrat Party’s parliamentary caucus, said such a move would “send a signal toward Russia and get the disarmament process moving again.” The Social Democrats and the Green Party form Germany’s coalition government.

German officials said they hope to place the subject on the agenda of a NATO meeting scheduled for June. At the review conference, many non-nuclear-weapon states criticized the United States and the other four nuclear-weapon states for not doing enough to meet their NPT commitment to make good-faith efforts toward disarmament.

NATO Arrangements
Under NATO nuclear-sharing arrangements, an estimated 480 tactical nuclear weapons remain deployed in five NATO nonnuclear- weapon states (Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey) and in the United Kingdom, which also possesses an independent nuclear arsenal. Canada and Greece have ended their participation in nuclear sharing.

The arrangements were developed during the Cold War to increase the other countries’ involvement in nuclear decision- making. The United States has reduced the more than 4,000 tactical nuclear weapons it had deployed in Europe at the end of the Cold War by about 90 percent. It has done so mainly to implement the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives (PNIs) announced in 1991 by then-Presidents George H. W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev. The nuclear weapons remain under U.S. custody during peacetime, but an estimated 180 such weapons can be released to U.S. allies for delivery in times of war.

Experts estimate that Russia still holds at least 3,000 tactical nuclear weapons, although many of these may not be in usable condition. The United States says that Russia has been implementing its obligations under the PNIs “for the most part” but still has questions, particularly with regard to Moscow’s land-based tactical nuclear arsenal. (See ACT, November 2004.)

On April 14, Germany’s Free Democratic Party introduced a resolution in the Bundestag calling on the German government to work toward the withdrawal of U.S. weapons there. According to a February study by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), 150 U.S. weapons are housed in Germany, more than any other European country, with 60 permitted to fall under German command during a conflict.

A week later, the Belgian parliament unanimously passed a similar resolution. According to the NRDC, 20 B-61 gravity bombs—the only type of U.S. weapons still deployed in Europe— are stored at the Kleine Brogel air force base and could be delivered by Belgian pilots to their targets.

NATO and the Department of Defense do not publicly release information on the deployments.

Taking the Debate to a New Level
The parliamentary initiatives on NATO nuclear weapons in Belgium and Germany were both taken in the context of the 2005 NPT Review Conference, but they differ somewhat in their origins and dimensions.

Patrik Vankrunkelsven of Belgium’s Liberal and Democratic Citizens Party (VDP) told Arms Control Today May 9 that he had worked for more than two years to get the support of all of Belgium’s parties for the parliament’s resolution. He said the resolution was intended to trigger discussions in NATO on nuclear sharing, rather than seek simply a withdrawal of U.S. nuclear weapons from Belgium. “People are afraid to go it alone, both in the Senate and in the government,” Vankrunkelsven said. “On the other hand, in NATO everybody is waiting for everybody else” to take the initiative on the question of NATO nuclear sharing.

The resolution, therefore, is careful to frame possible changes in NATO nuclear sharing within a multilateral context. It asks the Belgian government to propose initiatives in NATO calling for the review of strategic nuclear doctrines; the gradual withdrawal of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons to help fulfill NPT disarmament commitments; and the initiation of negotiations between NATO and Russia on tactical nuclear weapons. These talks, perhaps within the formal mechanism of the NATO-Russia Council, would be intended to establish a framework for reducing and destroying U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in Europe, safeguarding and destroying Russian tactical nuclear weapons, and strengthening confidence-building and transparency measures regarding tactical nuclear weapons.

The German Free Democrats’ resolution was more pointed than its Belgian counterpart, calling on the government to “urge the American allies to withdraw tactical weapons deployed in Germany.” The resolution said it was necessary “in order to strengthen the credibility of the nonproliferation regime and as a sign that the disarmament obligations of the nuclear-weapon states are being taken seriously as integral parts of the NPT and are being pursued rigorously.”

The political success of the resolution may have come as a surprise. Perhaps intended to split the ruling Social Democrat- Green Party coalition on NATO nuclear policy, it triggered an avalanche of approving statements from almost all parties. Only the conservative Christian Democrats openly supported the continued deployment of U.S. nuclear weapons in Germany. Ruprecht Polenz, the Christian Democrats parliamentary leader on disarmament matters, questioned in an April 14 debate whether the real motive behind the resolution was the intention of ending the U.S. nuclear umbrella entirely and contended that it should be Washington’s prerogative to decide how to protect its troops deployed in Europe.

The Green Party’s defense spokesperson in the Bundestag, Winfried Nachtwei, countered in a press release on April 29 that “a quick renunciation of nuclear sharing and a complete withdrawal of U.S. nuclear weapons from Europe could give nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation efforts a new and important impulse.”

What Next?
In Belgium, it is not clear if the resolution will press the Belgian government into action. Vankrunkelsven said the initial reaction has been one of skepticism. He and Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht, both members of the Flemish VLD, have stressed the need to work together with NATO allies on this issue and have said that changes in NATO’s strategy should be tied to the dismantlement of Russian tactical nuclear weapons.

In Germany, the Liberal Party resolution was referred to the Bundestag’s subcommittee on disarmament, arms control, and nonproliferation, where it is likely to be debated in June.

More crucially, senior German officials said they intend to press the issue within NATO’s Nuclear Planning Group (NPG) June 9-10. The NPG is charged with making decisions on NATO’s nuclear policies, but in recent years its meetings have become largely a routine exercise and take place only once a year.

German Defense Minister Peter Struck said during a visit to the U.S. base at Ramstein May 6, “I agree with Foreign Minister Fischer that we will bring up this issue within NATO [and that we] will have to clarify this in consultation with the other European allies who also have nuclear weapons deployed on their territory.” Rolf Mützenich, the Social Democrat spokesperson for disarmament, told Arms Control Today on May 10 that he, too, is certain that this time “the debate about NATO nuclear sharing will not go away.”

Apart from Germany, no NATO member state has officially taken a position on the future of NATO nuclear sharing in the context of the recent debate. However, U.S. spokesmen have made clear their preference for the status quo.

“Nuclear weapons deployed in Europe are an essential political and military link between the United States and Europe,” Lt. Commander Rick Haupt, spokesperson for U.S. European Command, told Arms Control Today May 17. “The United States is working with NATO on this issue,” Haupt said. He added that the United States “remains committed to NATO’s Strategic Concept which calls for maintaining nuclear weapons at a minimum level to preserve peace and stability.”

A Pentagon spokesman said that any change would have to take place in NATO. “Should any nation wish to initiate a change to any of these basic precepts, they would be free to initiate such a proposal in the appropriate NATO fora...all of which work on the principle of consensus,” said Major Paul Swiergosz.

Germany made an unsuccessful push in 1998 to persuade the alliance to adopt a policy that it would not be the first to use nuclear weapons. (See ACT, November/December 1998.)

Still, Haupt said that the United States would “remain in support of the strategic concept even if there was a change to it.”

Regardless of the outcome of the political debate, Germany’s nuclear role in NATO is set to expire within the next 10 years. The German Air Force currently only has one type of aircraft certified to deliver nuclear weapons, the PA-200 Tornado, which will be replaced over the next 10 years by the Eurofighter. The German Defense Ministry, in a statement to the Bundestag on July 12, noted that “it is currently not planned and no preparations are being made to enable the weapons system Eurofighter for a nuclear-weapon deployment.” If the government sticks to this line, Germany will have no nuclear-capable aircraft by 2015 at the latest.



Posted: June 1, 2005

Testing Time for Europe's Nonproliferation Strategy

By Oliver Meier and Gerrard Quille

Members of the European Union, shaken by their failure to unite on a pre-war strategy toward Iraq, decided in late 2003 that they needed a new approach for dealing with future challenges from countries with nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. In the realm of stated policy, the European Council in December 2003 adopted the landmark “EU Strategy Against Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction.”[1]

More immediately, three European nations—France, Germany, and the United Kingdom—plunged into negotiations with Iran to prevent escalation of a nuclear crisis with Iran from creating a fresh diplomatic debacle.

The next few months will provide a yardstick for measuring how successful the EU has been in these efforts to shape a coherent approach for dealing with nuclear, chemical, and biological threats. European negotiators are engaged in intensified talks with Iran that seek peaceful means to resolve concerns about Tehran’s nuclear program. At the same time, in a key test of its strategy, the EU has struggled to craft a unified approach to this month’s 2005 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in New York. Success will depend on the EU’s ability to overcome the basic tension that surfaced in the Iraq debate, which was the need for European diplomats to pursue two potentially contradictory goals simultaneously: the development of a unified transatlantic approach on proliferation issues and the strengthening, or at least the preservation, of multilateral weapons of mass destruction (WMD) control regimes.[2]

The Iran intervention and the EU strategy were the result of an intense desire by European leaders to rebuild intra-European relations after the Iraq crisis.[3] Pre-war diplomatic debates had revealed a deep split among Europeans on the value of multilateral arms control inspections as well as on the use of force to enforce compliance with disarmament obligations. More deeply, a unified and coherent strategy was also seen as necessary to counter the new, largely unilateralist U.S. security approach, which emphasized counterproliferation, that was unveiled after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Europeans generally felt uncomfortable with the U.S. inclusion of pre-emptive military action as a nonproliferation tool but had few new approaches to offer as alternatives.

The WMD strategy made nonproliferation a central goal of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), stating that “our objective is to prevent, deter, halt and, where possible, eliminate proliferation [programs] of concern worldwide.”[4]

The Iran Test
The first major test of the new approach has come in Iran. Revelations in August 2002 that Iran possessed clandestine uranium-enrichment and heavy-water production facilities led to an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) investigation and concerns, particularly on the part of the United States, that Iran might be developing nuclear weapons. The resulting IAEA investigation revealed serious breaches of Iran’s safeguards obligations.

Talks between the foreign ministers of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom (the EU-3) and Tehran began in October 2003 as a crisis management exercise. They intended to find a means outside of the UN Security Council of addressing these concerns. No European country wanted a repeat of the Iraq experience where Security Council members had been unable to forge a common position before the U.S.-led invasion, splitting such EU members as the United Kingdom and France.

Still, such direct negotiations are a new type of activity for EU members. Although European nations and the EU have in the past been involved in brokering peace deals and assisting disarmament processes, for example, in the Balkans, Europe has never before taken the lead on such a high-profile nonproliferation issue.

Throughout the talks, U.S. officials have pressed IAEA member states to refer the case to the Security Council. The Europeans, however, have regarded such a referral of the IAEA nuclear file as counterproductive as long as Iran does not break its core NPT commitments by developing nuclear weapons, continues to negotiate, and permits wide-ranging inspections under the additional protocol to its IAEA safeguards agreement.[5] In addition to avoiding another confrontation with the United States at the United Nations, European governments have not been convinced that sufficient political will has existed within the Security Council to agree on sanctions. Europeans have also generally feared that Security Council involvement would escalate the crisis to the point where a diplomatic solution would become impossible. Despite setbacks and the unwillingness of the United States to engage in negotiations with Tehran on its nuclear program, the talks have evolved into a potential example of the new EU strategy to deal with regional proliferation crises.

A key element of this strategy is the use of economic incentives to achieve the political objective of nonproliferation. In relation to Iran, the first application of this strategy took place with the October 2003 Tehran agreement. In that politically binding agreement, Iran promised to suspend enrichment and reprocessing activities in return for the promise of greater cooperation and assistance from the West.

Implementation of the agreement soon ran into difficulties. The deal broke down in June 2004 when Iran announced that it would resume producing centrifuges used in enriching uranium, broke a number of seals that had been placed by the IAEA on equipment relevant to the construction and testing of centrifuges, and announced the restarting of the production of uranium hexafluoride, the feed material for uranium enrichment.

The Paris agreement struck in November 2004 to replace the botched Tehran agreement drew important lessons from its predecessor’s failure. Its terms and scope, for example, were more detailed. In the new agreement, the EU demanded “objective guarantees” that Iran will not misuse its nuclear program for military purposes. By this, the EU means that Tehran should abandon enrichment and reprocessing activities. In return, the EU offered more specific political and economic inducements, including on the resumption of talks on a Trade and Cooperation Agreement. In addition, the duration of suspension was more clearly defined: “while negotiations proceed on a mutually acceptable agreement on long-term arrangements.”

Subsequent talks have been wide-ranging. The process is coordinated and reviewed by a joint steering committee that meets occasionally at the level of political directors. More regularly, three working groups come together to discuss nuclear, technological, and economic cooperation as well as security issues.

To date, the Paris agreement can already be seen as something of a success for European nonproliferation policies. Iran has so far stuck to its part of the deal and suspended enrichment and reprocessing and related activities. Consequently, the agreement has already bought valuable time to seek a sustainable solution. Whether the talks will result in such a long-term solution of the dispute remains to be seen.

In mid-March, the talks passed an important early test when the steering committee evaluated the first phase of the implementation of the agreement. Despite earlier threats to terminate the talks if sufficient progress was not achieved, Iran announced that it had agreed to continue its enrichment suspension for the duration of the talks. Still, no breakthrough has been achieved on the central question of whether Iran will give up its capacity for enrichment and reprocessing completely. At the steering committee meeting, Iran reportedly has offered to limit its enrichment program at Natanz and put the plant under strict international control.[6]

Nevertheless, Iran has offered only to limit its enrichment activities to 3,000 centrifuges.[7] Such a program would be beyond the scope of the pilot plant at Natanz and necessitate operations of the much larger enrichment facility at the site. This would not only complicate monitoring of Iran’s enrichment activities but also significantly shorten warning time should Tehran decide to develop nuclear weapons.

As the talks move forward, the Europeans find themselves facing two problems that might limit their broader ambitions to establish an independent and coherent nonproliferation policy. First, unlike the United States, the EU has few incentives to offer. Iran’s wish list is likely to include the lifting of U.S. sanctions, the delivery of nuclear fuel and nuclear technology, and security assurances, all of which the United States is better positioned to address than the EU. It can thus be seen as a success for Europeans that, following his visit to Europe at the end of February, President George W. Bush initiated a review of the White House’s position toward the European talks. As a result, the United States now appears to support the idea of offering incentives to Iran. Washington has agreed to license civilian aircraft parts for sale to Iran on a case-by-case basis and not to object to Iranian membership in the World Trade Organization. If Washington were to stick to its word, this instance would be one of the few successful efforts by the Europeans to draw Washington closer to its negotiating position. Ironically, perhaps the greatest “carrot” Europe may have to offer Iran is bringing the United States to the bargaining table.

Second, the EU’s insistence that Iran give up its plans to construct a closed nuclear fuel cycle goes beyond its traditional preference for solving nonproliferation problems within the framework of multilateral treaties. The NPT provides no legal basis for the European demand that Iran abandon enrichment and reprocessing activities. After all, Article IV of the treaty provides for the “inalienable right” of non-nuclear-weapon states to research, develop, and use nuclear energy for nonweapons purposes.

Iran has highlighted this inconsistency in the European position and insisted that its right to pursue nuclear energy for peaceful purposes includes uranium enrichment. At the NPT Review Conference, Iran can be expected to repeat its allegation that the international community is making “discriminatory” demands on Tehran. Europeans will find it difficult to justify their position without making Iran a “special case.”

The EU at the NPT Review Conference
The EU has more than 10 years experience of engagement with the NPT. Once France acceded to the treaty in 1992, all EU member states were also members of the NPT. The EU played a crucial role in securing the indefinite extension of the NPT in 1995. The diplomatic campaign it conducted in the run-up to the conference is still seen by many as a model for joint European action.[8] During the 2000 NPT Review Conference, the EU helped to achieve the Final Document, which contained new and specific commitments by the nuclear-weapon states toward disarmament.

In the WMD strategy, the only recommended policy action related to the NPT is to “pursue the universalisation of the NPT, the IAEA Safeguard agreements and protocols additional to them.”[9]

The European Council meeting on April 25-26 approved a new Common Position, which would provide a consensus basis and guideline for EU action before and during the review conference. It commits the EU and its member states “to strengthen the international nuclear non-proliferation regime by promoting the successful outcome” of the 2005 NPT Review Conference.[10] The Common Position contains 43 distinct measures to achieve this goal and mandates the EU presidency to undertake demarches in order to convince both NPT and non-NPT member states of the EU approach.

Still, it appears unlikely this year that the EU will be able to repeat its earlier successes.

The EU’s nonproliferation policy emphasizes improving the verifiability of multilateral treaties and “strengthening the enforcement of obligations” in multilateral treaty regimes.[11] Generally speaking, the EU has moved closer to the United States on many compliance issues, including the possible use of force to enforce compliance, but Europeans continue to favor approaches that take place within multilateral frameworks such as the Security Council.

Like the United States, the EU supports the idea of making the 1997 Model Additional Protocol the new safeguards standard under Article III of the NPT[12] and wants the IAEA Board of Governors to adopt such a new verification norm.[13] Additional protocols allow the IAEA to search for undeclared nuclear activities in states under safeguards and place additional declaration and inspection burdens on states-parties. The additional protocol between the IAEA and EURATOM was able to enter into force before EU enlargement took effect on May 1, 2004. Thus, the 15 “old” EU states are now implementing additional protocols. The EU also will be “working to ensure that the Nuclear Suppliers Group makes the export of controlled nuclear and nuclear-related items and technology conditional on ratifying and implementing the Additional Protocol.”[14] What this means in practice, however, is still being debated. EU members have not been able to agree on what nuclear items should be exportable to states that do not implement an additional protocol.[15] France is apparently interested in limiting such restrictions to sensitive goods only.

The EU has also agreed to some U.S. proposals for IAEA reform. The EU now agrees that “countries under investigation for non-technical violations of their nuclear nonproliferation and safeguards obligations should elect not to participate in decisions by the IAEA Board of Governors or the Special Committee regarding their own cases.”[16] This idea had originally been proposed by Bush in February 2004 and was endorsed at the Group of Eight (G-8) summit in June 2004.

EU officials have focused on the inclusion of all new EU member states in the export control regimes, and its bureaucracy will compile a prioritized list of third countries that could benefit from EU assistance vis-à-vis export controls. A “nonproliferation clause” to be included in agreements with third countries was drawn up and has been included in agreements with Syria, Tajikistan, and Albania as well as between the EU and the African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries—the revised Cotonou Agreement. There are also ongoing discussions to include the clause agreements with the Gulf Cooperation Council and Mercosur countries.[17] As in the negotiations with Iran, this marks one of the few instances where Europe is directly using its economic might to achieve security objectives.

On April 28, 2004, EU member states on the Security Council co-sponsored Resolution 1540 on WMD nonproliferation and contributed actively to its adoption by consensus. Unlike many other states, the commission submitted the Common EU report to the 1540 committee by the October 28, 2004, deadline. The EU WMD strategy also embraces the Bush administration’s Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), a political arrangement that calls for the interception of WMD and related goods.[18]

On other issues, including discussions on reforming Article IV rules governing access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, the EU has simply decided to put off a clear policy decision until after the conference. Two models are on the table: Washington has proposed the creation of a cartel of states possessing nuclear fuel-cycle technologies by denying all states that do not yet possess operational enrichment or recycling facilities technology the capacity to build such facilities. European states, however, have thus far only agreed to a one-year moratorium on delivery of enrichment and reprocessing equipment to other states.[19] This compromise was reaffirmed at the U.S.-EU summits in June 2004 and February 2005.

IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei, on the other hand, proposes multinational control of new enrichment and reprocessing facilities.[20] Europeans possess real experience in multinational management of enrichment plants because the only two examples of such facilities—Eurodif, a French-run enrichment facility in which Belgium, Italy, and Spain participate; and Urenco, a multilateral enrichment company jointly operated by Belgium, Germany, and the United Kingdom—are located in the EU. Nevertheless, the EU has not yet taken clear sides on this issue. The EU has highlighted that any decision on this question “should not create new dividing lines among NPT states-parties and should be balanced, maintaining the fundamental bargain underlying the NPT.”[21] The EU’s Common Position for the NPT Review Conference recognizes that states “may” have to resort to peaceful uses of nuclear energy, urges “the formulation of guarantees to nuclear fuel services, or to fuel itself, subject to appropriate decision,” and calls for a swift start of deliberations within the IAEA on a report by an international IAEA expert group that was delivered to ElBaradei on February 22, 2005.[22]

One major distinction between the EU strategy and that of the United States is the emphasis it places on the regional security concerns that motivate states to obtain nuclear weapons. Such motives could include enhancing regional standing or countering the capabilities of potential regional foes. The Europeans maintain that regional political solutions will offer the best prospect for states to renounce nuclear weapons and join the NPT. Such an approach is seen as useful in the context of the Iran negotiations to support “compliance,” but it is also recognized as a complementary strategy to support processes for universal membership in WMD regimes.

The EU strategy states that member states must “actively foster the establishment of regional security arrangements and regional arms control and disarmament processes. Our dialogue with the countries concerned should take account of the fact that in many cases they have real and legitimate security concerns, with the clear understanding that there can never be any justification for the illegal development of WMD.”[23]

Yet, deeds have yet fully to match words. Apart from European engagement to resolve the crisis around Iran’s nuclear program, EU engagement on regional proliferation issues has only included modest attention to North Korea. Until the political process associated with the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), the international cooperation to supply North Korea with proliferation-resistant light-water reactors, broke down in 2003, the EU supported attempts to resolve the crisis around the North Korean nuclear program. It provided 115 million euros for KEDO and undertook diplomatic missions to Pyongyang, including the visit of the EU-3 in May 2001. For the moment, it seems that the EU has realized that it cannot often be expected to perform the kind of mediating role it has attempted to play vis-à-vis Tehran.

Divisions over Disarmament
Still, the EU policy on nonproliferation has been far more coherent than on issues affecting disarmament obligations under Article VI of the NPT. The establishment of a progressive common policy approach has been blocked by the differences between the two EU states with nuclear weapons—France and the United Kingdom—and other members, including such pro-disarmament countries as Sweden and Ireland. Internal divisions within the EU on disarmament issues have increased. In fact, there is a real danger that the EU will devolve from being a constructive force in the NPT to being simply a microcosm of global divisions on nonproliferation and disarmament between nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states.

The EU cannot collectively agree on the role of the 13 disarmament steps[24] agreed to at the 2000 Review Conference. Although some EU member states, such as the Netherlands, still call them the “benchmark for progress toward nuclear disarmament,”[25] France opposes references to them even in the agenda of the conference, arguing that “disarmament measures need to be taken in such a way as to reinforce international stability, on the basis of undiminished security for all.”[26]

In this way, France has aligned itself with the United States, while others have railed against the U.S. approach. France also objected to a recognition of the value of the 13 disarmament steps in the EU Common Position by opposing a clear reference to the Final Document of the 2000 Review Conference. Even though Paris was isolated within the EU on this issue, it has successfully watered down the commitment of the EU as a whole towards making the 13 steps the yardstick for progress on disarmament. The EU now is committed merely to “help build a consensus on the basis of the framework established by the NPT by supporting the Decision and the Resolution adopted at the 1995 Review Conference, and the final document of the 2000 NPT Review Conference, and shall bear in mind the current situation ….”[27]

There are also divisions within the EU on some specific issues on the NPT disarmament agenda, mostly triggered by the U.S. rejection of some of the 13 steps. On July 29, 2004, the United States announced a change of policy toward the negotiation of a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT), a binding agreement to end production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons. U.S. officials argued that it no longer believes that such a treaty could be effectively verified and that it now favors negotiations on a treaty that does not contain provisions on verification.

This change in policy by the United States has shattered the EU consensus to commence FMCT negotiations on the basis of the 1995 Shannon mandate, which called for including effective verification measures. The United Kingdom has now reluctantly and halfheartedly acquiesced to the U.S. position in an attempt to break the eight-year deadlock at the UN’s Conference on Disarmament (CD) on an FMCT and other arms control treaties. Others such as Sweden insist that the CD negotiate a verifiable FMCT.[28] The EU Common Position has it both ways. It endorses the early start of negotiations in the CD on a “non-discriminatory, universally applicable” FMCT “without precondition” but also mentions the Shannon mandate.[29]

The withdrawal of tactical U.S. nuclear weapons deployed under NATO nuclear sharing arrangements remains a taboo for the EU.[30] Improved transparency and better control of Russian tactical nuclear weapons has been highlighted by several EU member states during NPT preparatory meetings and the Common Position calls “on all [s]tates with non-strategic nuclear weapons to include them in their general arms control and disarmament processes, with a view to their reduction and elimination.”[31] But so far the EU is unwilling talk about such weapons deployed on its own territory. NATO enlargement and the withdrawal of U.S. nuclear weapons deployed in Greece have increased the potential for political movement on this difficult issue, but no consensus on a non-nuclear NATO has emerged yet among European NATO members.

Agreement within the EU on some other disarmament issues may be easier to generate. All EU member states have ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and are supportive of early entry into force of the treaty. The EU has focused on encouraging signature and ratification by non-CTBT member states, in particular those of the 44 states whose ratification is necessary for the treaty’s entry into force but have yet to do so.[32] It remains to be seen whether the EU will resist U.S. pressure at the conference to delete all references to CTBT entry into force from the NPT agenda and any Final Document. Given the EU’s long-standing engagement in favor of the test ban treaty, its position on this issue will be one important test for Europe’s will to articulate an independent position on an important disarmament issue.

In touting its disarmament credentials, the EU is likely to point to its support for the G-8 Global Partnership and similar efforts to secure or destroy former Soviet stockpiles of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and related delivery systems. Under the Global Partnership, the United States has pledged $10 billion over 10 years, and EU G-8 member states (France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom) have pledged a total of 4 billion euros for cooperative threat reduction activities.

Yet, Brussels’ record in this regard is less than exemplary. The European Commission has committed a further 1 billion euros, but most analysts project that, if spending continues at current levels, the EU will only meet half of its pledge. Recently, the European Commission has proposed to stabilize European Community spending on nonproliferation during 2007-2013 with the inclusion of a WMD budget line.

Bridging the Transatlantic Gap
The development of the EU’s WMD strategy is a clear step forward because it provides a coherent framework in which the EU collectively and EU member states individually can pursue nonproliferation policies. On some issues, in particular nonproliferation issues, EU performance has improved since the adoption of the WMD strategy. On nuclear disarmament, deep divisions remain and in some cases have increased.

If the EU is to be successful in its negotiations with Iran and at the NPT Review Conference, it will have to develop a differentiated approach toward the Bush administration’s agenda. This is particularly so as Washington sees nonproliferation and disarmament as two topics that are separated whereas Europeans generally see the two issues as directly connected.

The talks with Iran may provide an opportunity for helping to close the transatlantic gap. Treating Iran as a special case under the NPT would be an indication of European flexibility in applying multilateral approaches to solve regional crises. Moving beyond that to develop an effective and coherent European approach and a unified position on the question of how to treat noncompliant states is likely to remain a challenge. Taking a tougher stance on noncompliance will be difficult for a grouping that includes pro-disarmament states such as Sweden and Ireland, which have a stronger preference for sticking to multilateral principles than do the two nuclear-weapon states, France and the United Kingdom.

Building transatlantic bridges at the NPT review conferences will be much more difficult, given the Bush administration’s skepticism about the value of such multilateral instruments. Europe’s willingness to meet the United States on issues such as compliance, possibly even some disarmament issues such as an FMCT, is not reciprocated by Washington.

All too often in fact, EU arms control policies end up being caught in the middle between the wish to build transatlantic bridges and efforts to develop its own profile, which emphasizes multilateral approaches. Too frequently, the EU’s position on arms control lacks coherence and vision.

Unable to overcome divisions on some significant multilateral issues, the EU is increasingly shifting emphasis toward improving national measures to prevent proliferation. EU support for Resolution 1540 and the almost enthusiastic endorsement of the Bush administration’s PSI, provide Europe with an opportunity to kill three birds with one stone: support for such measures is important in tackling certain aspects of the spread of WMD, it gives governments something to show for their efforts, and they serve to demonstrate European willingness to embrace at least part of the U.S. counterproliferation agenda.

Although these efforts may be worthwhile in themselves and serve to bridge transatlantic differences, they do not live up to the EU’s goal of creating a coherent, effective, and independent nonproliferation strategy that promotes multilateral solutions to arms control problems. In these and other areas, the EU still has yet to prove in the words of its WMD strategy that “a multilateralist approach to security, including disarmament and non-proliferation, provides the best way to maintain international order.”[33]


1. “EU Strategy Against Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction,” Council of European Union, (hereinafter EU WMD strategy).

2. Gerrard Quille, “EU Actions and Policy in Regard to Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Disarmament,” Directorate-General External Policies, European Parliament, January 31, 2005.

3. “A Secure Europe in a Better World: European Security Strategy,” Brussels, December 12, 2003, available at http://ue.eu.int/uedocs/cmsUpload/78367.pdf.

4. EU WMD strategy, intro., para. 2.

5. The EU does acknowledge that Iran in principle can be referred to the UN Security Council for violation of its safeguards agreement. In a statement to the 2004 IAEA General Conference, the Netherlands, speaking on behalf of the EU, stated that “challenges to compliance with the safeguards agreements must be addressed in a manner that upholds the integrity of the [t]reaty and the authority of the safeguards system, including through the referral by the IAEA to the UN Security Council as appropriate.” Justus de Visser, statement on behalf of the European Union, 48th IAEA General Conference, Vienna, September 20-24, 2004, para. 12 (hereinafter de Visser statement).

6. “EU Studying Iranian Plan for Small-Scale Uranium Enrichment,” Agence France Presse, March 25, 2005.

7. Paul Kerr, “U.S. Offer Fails to End EU-Iran Impasse,” Arms Control Today, April 2005, pp. 32-33.

8. See Clara Portela, “The Role of the EU in the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons: The Way to Thessaloniki and Beyond,” Peace Research Institute of Frankfurt Report, no. 65, 2003.

9. EU WMD Strategy, chap. 2, para. 16.

10. “Council Common Position relating to the 2005 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.” Council of the European Union (hereinafter NPT Common Position).

11. See EU WMD strategy. See also “Council Common Position 2003/805/CFSP of November 17, 2003 on the Universalization and Reinforcement of Multilateral Agreements in the Field of Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Means of Delivery,” art. 2.

12. “EU-U.S. Declaration on the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction,” June 26, 2004 (hereinafter WMD declaration press release).

13. NPT Common Position, op. cit. para 17.

14. EU WMD Strategy, chap. 3, para. 30, A4.

15. See “Implementation of the WMD Strategy,” 15246/04, Brussels, December 3, 2004.

16. WMD declaration press release.

17. “’Non-Proliferation Clause’ to Be Included in Agreements With Third Countries: Countering Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction,” available at http://ue.eu.int/uedocs/cmsUpload/st14997.en03.pdf.

18. See “Non-Proliferation Support of the Proliferation Security Initiative,” 10052/04 (Presse 189), June 1, 2004, available at http://ue.eu.int/uedocs/cmsUpload/st10052.en04.pdf.

19. Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, “Remarks by the President on Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation,” Washington, DC, February 11, 2004.

20. Mohamed ElBaradei, “Toward a Safer World,” The Economist, October 18, 2003, p. 43.

21. De Visser statement, para. 34.

22. NPT Common Position, op. cit. paras 27,-29; “Multilateral Approaches to the Fuel Cycle,” Expert Group Report submitted to the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, INFCIRC/640, February 22, 2005.

23. EU WMD strategy, para. 21.

24. See Claire Applegarth, “The 2000 NPT Review Conference and the 13 Practical Steps: A Summary,” Arms Control Today, January/February 2005, p. 8.

25. Bernard Bot, “Reviewing the Non-Proliferation Treaty: The Case for Collective Security,” statement to the Conference on Disarmament, Geneva, March 15, 2005.

26. François Rivasseau, statement to the Third Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2005 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, New York, April 27, 2004.

27. NPT Common Position, op.cit., Article 2 (b).

28. Laila Freivalds, statement to the Conference on Disarmament, Geneva, March 15, 2005.

29. NPT Common Position, op.cit., para 36.

30. See Hans M. Kristensen, “U.S. Nuclear Weapons in Europe. A Review of Post-Cold War Policy, Force Levels, and War Planning,” National Resources Defense Council, February 2005. See also H. Beach, “Tactical Nuclear Weapons: Europe’s Redundant WMD,” International Security Information Service, April 2004.

31. NPT Common Position, op.cit., para 31.

32. See “Council Decision 2003/567/CFSP of July 21, 2003 Implementing Common Position 1999/533/CFSP Relating to the European Union’s Contribution to the Promotion of the Early Entry Into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty.”

33. EU WMD strategy, intro., para. 2.

Oliver Meier, is the the Arms Control Association’s international representative and correspondent based in Berlin and a researcher with the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg. Gerrard Quille is deputy director of International Security Information Service (ISIS) Europe and director of its program on nonproliferation, arms control and disarmament.

Posted: May 1, 2005

New European Defense Agency Approved

Gabrielle Kohlmeier

The creation of a European Defense Agency (EDA) was jumpstarted after receiving a 2 million euros allocation June 14, and being enshrined in the new European Union Constitution June 17. The agency’s mandate involves defense capabilities development, armaments cooperation, and research and technology.

EU officials hope the agency will help find ways to eliminate unnecessary defense spending due to duplication and incompatible equipment, which have decreased the EU’s defense capabilities, relative to the U.S. and other world powers. EU countries have combined defense budgets of €160 billion ($193 billion) and 1.6 million troops, but many lack capabilities such as rapid troop deployment, real-time battle information and precision-guided munitions. By comparison, the U.S. defense budget is currently in excess of $400 billion.

As part of a six-year endeavor to enhance EU defense capabilities, the EDA is expected to begin work within a few weeks, and is to include a staff of 25 by the end of the year. In 2005, the budget allocation is expected to grow to €25 million, and the staff to 80. The EU ministers anticipate the agency will “improv[e] Europe’s defense performance by promoting coherence in place of fragmentation.”

Initially, discord arose between France and Britain over their disparate visions for the agency. France, which sought independence for the agency from the U.S.-led NATO alliance, won out over Britain’s hope of enhancing defense capabilities while working closely with NATO. France withdrew from NATO military bodies in 1955 because of U.S. dominance in the organization. Last minute objections raised by Portugal, over a provision allowing militarily advanced countries, such as Germany, the U.K. and France, to set up arms projects open to others by invitation only, were resolved through wording changes.

However, the three largest European defense contractors criticized the allocation as too heavily focused on staffing the agency, with too little attention given to fulfilling the agency’s mission of research and development, particularly in the face of competitive pressure from U.S. counterparts.





Posted: July 1, 2004

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.)

Posted: November 1, 2003

The Emergence of a European 'Strategic Personality'

Joanna Spear

Is the sound of banging we hear the mending of fences between Europe and the United States or the nailing closed of doors? As has been widely acknowledged on both sides of the Atlantic, the rift between the allies over Iraq has been significant and worrying.1 The crisis has highlighted a key strategic dispute concerning the imminence of threats posed by weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and the wider issue of the adequacy of arms control regimes and diplomacy to deal preventively with these threats. Yet, as serious as these quarrels are, they only scratch the surface of the profound and growing differences between the emerging “strategic personality” of the European Union (EU) and that of the United States.

Over the last few years, the EU has developed its own strategic personality, or a specifically European way of viewing, interpreting, and acting on perceived threats and diplomatic opportunities. This is particularly the case in dealing with threats caused by WMD proliferation. Although the United Kingdom, Italy, and Spain supported the invasion of Iraq, despite the opposition of most other EU member states, there is now a growing European-wide consensus on these concerns. Member states have agreed on policies to deal with WMD proliferation that point to the realization of a common approach to this issue, an approach that emphasizes multilateral, carrot-based diplomacy. This codification of European policy puts the EU increasingly and overtly at odds with the U.S. inclination for coercive, stick-based diplomacy in the form of military force or economic sanctions.

Developments in Europe

The EU has been working to build a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the institutions to implement that policy since the signing of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992. Ironically, the institutional developments within the EU were the original catalyst for serious thinking about common approaches to dealing with security problems (rather than the reverse).2 Yet, for a long time, there was little more than a rhetorical commitment to reaching common positions on international issues, with the debate over what a European defense entity should do masked by “constructive ambiguity.”3 It was only recently that international events stripped away the mask and forced Europe to be more explicit about what its CFSP would be and the types of security issues it would address.4 As late as 2001, the EU had not directly and systematically addressed the major strategic challenges in the international system, including that of WMD proliferation.5

In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, the EU began to consider wider strategic issues. Developing responses to terrorist threats and WMD proliferation were given priority. While these internal deliberations went on, however, international events, particularly Iraq, caused very public schisms between EU members, such as France and Germany, opposed to the Bush administration’s strategy and wartime allies such as the United Kingdom. The crisis over Iraq may have initially stymied the EU, but it has subsequently energized it. In April 2003, Sweden put forward the idea of developing a common position on WMD proliferation, which was accepted by EU member states. More dramatically, Javier Solana, high representative for the CFSP, presented the draft of the first security strategy in the EU’s history to EU leaders at the Thessaloniki summit in June 2003.

In A Secure Europe in a Better World, Solana outlined the three pillars of the common strategy, making clear that the nature of today’s threats means that the EU can no longer limit its attention to its immediate region.6 First, he called for extending the security zone around Europe by bringing stability to areas on the periphery. Second, he urged that the United Nations be reaffirmed as the fundamental framework of international relations, while acknowledging that the institution might have to be defended pre-emptively. Third, the EU security strategy called for new policies to respond to the twin threats of terrorism and WMD proliferation—polices that reflected Europe’s strategic personality.

The Evolving European Strategic Personality

Explaining the notion of a strategic personality, Caroline Ziemke, a pioneer of this approach, wrote:

A state’s historical experience
shapes how it sees itself, how it
views the outside world, and how
it makes its strategic decisions. To
make use of their historical
experience, nations tend to focus
most on those aspects of their
history that have the most
meaning and tell them the most
about who they are and what they
aspire to be.7

The outline of a European strategic personality has emerged through the process of developing institutions for the CFSP and formulating European policy preferences, as well as through interactions with international events and key states. This personality is informed by a wider understanding of European history and the region’s place in the system.

Europe’s historical and cultural proclivities in dealing with threats and diplomatic problems; the issues it pays most attention to; and the way it prioritizes and interprets international events, evolving military planning, and the public statements of EU leaders all provide evidence of “personality traits.” In the case of the EU, we are dealing with a more diverse entity than a state, with a short, intense history. A number of key EU personality facets can nevertheless be identified:

· The sweep of European history is seen as providing evidence that there are better ways to resolve differences than by resorting to force.
· Through the EU’s short history, member states have developed a positive sense of the benefits of international cooperation, multilateralism, and confidence-building measures as the means for addressing potential threats.
· The EU is an entity borne out of a positive experience of multilateral treaties. Even in key areas of potential insecurity such as nuclear programs, the Europeans created a multilateral confidence-building institution, EURATOM, which allowed them to overcome these fears gradually.8
· The EU personality is also informed by a tradition of compromise, of using diplomacy to solve problems. The EU has a habit of seeking agreement, and the search for consensus is the mode of operation in most areas of EU work.9
· There is also particular respect for the rule of law, the institutions that enforce it, and a desire to build global norms to expand international law. As Solana explained, “The development of a stronger international society, well-functioning international institutions, and a rule-based international order should be our objectives.”10
· The EU is a proponent of soft power, of providing economic and political incentives to ensure good behavior, of considering issues holistically, and of progress in one area spilling over into progress in others. Political and economic engagement is favored over confrontation.
· The strategy emphasizes measures to achieve peace and security without the use of force. However, the EU on occasion has endorsed the use of force in protection of core values, often focused on the protection of international institutions or upholding the rule of law.
· The EU adopts a root-causes approach to understanding conflicts and uses a variety of policy tools to try and deal with base problems.

As the EU has been developing, the United States has been moving toward a different position, which leverages its current structural dominance to forsake the international compromises required of those with insufficient power. To be sure, as Robert Kagan has pointed out, the emergence of this new U.S. strategic personality has been an important element in pushing the EU to define itself and abandon constructive ambiguity. In playing to an American audience, however, Kagan understates the extent to which the EU has become more intentionally European through positive choices and not just weakness.11 What we are witnessing is the process of the EU developing a distinct strategic personality.

On the issue of proliferation, the gap in transatlantic relations has widened since the end of the Cold War. Cleavages have opened up resulting from different attitudes toward the use of force and the ability of regimes to solve WMD problems. These divisions were first exposed by the Clinton administration’s announcement of a Defense Counterproliferation Policy (which explicitly mentioned pre-emption) and the European hostility to that short-lived initiative.12 There was also disquiet in the EU over the U.S. refusal to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Ottawa Convention banning anti-personnel landmines.

Yet, those concerns were somewhat muffled under the Clinton administration and have only become full-throated cries with the Bush team. The Europeans perceived the ending of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty as undermining strategic stability, and they have expressed a similarly negative view of U.S. plans to deploy some form of ballistic missile defenses, which are seen as more destabilizing than the original problem. President George W. Bush’s lack of support for burgeoning regimes designed to deal with biological weapons threats and small arms and light weapons problems have all added to EU concerns about U.S. behavior. More fundamentally, the Bush administration’s 2002 National Security Strategy compounded many of the fears of those in Europe about the changing strategic personality of the United States and the consequences of that on the rules and norms of the international system.

The EU’s WMD Proliferation Policies

Yet, at first blush, the EU appears to have closed ranks with the United States. Its recently released “Basic Principles for an EU Strategy Against Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction” moves beyond traditional European approaches to the problem of WMD proliferation by acknowledging for the first time that there may be occasions when it is necessary to resort to force. By itself, this apparent philosophical shift should have pleased Bush administration policymakers, who could tout the change as evidence that their views are winning converts on the Continent.

Any pleasure would likely be short lived, however, given the details of the policy in terms of when and how decisions to use force should be taken. The document makes it clear that the Europeans continue to view force as a last resort, following various gradations of coercive action. Additionally, the EU clarifies what it considers to be the only acceptable route for such action:

When these measures (including
political dialogue and diplomatic
pressure) have failed, coercive
measures under Chapter VII of
the UN Charter and international
law (sanctions, selective or global,
interceptions of shipments and,
as appropriate, the use of force)
could be envisioned. The UN
Security Council should play a
central role.13

Thus, the EU reaffirms its commitment to “effective multilateralism” and seeks to ensure that a European veto remains possible over the use of force against a WMD threat. Solana has subsequently been quite explicit that the EU would not undertake any U.S.-style strategy of pre-emptive military action.14 By contrast, the EU espouses pre-emptive engagement, to stop the problem before it becomes acute.

Despite their very public differences over Iraq, in the Basic Principles all the EU members have accepted a number of policies that are more than the “lowest common denominator,” indeed, they explicitly sought to move beyond that. Moreover, they have shown a clear intent for moving beyond rhetoric, approving an associated Action Plan that sets out what the EU is going to do, a timetable for actions, and the associated costs.15

The Basic Principles document declares that WMD proliferation “constitutes a threat to international peace and security,” immediately putting the issue into the language of the UN and international law. It further stresses multilateral action, baldly stating, “The EU is committed to the multilateral system. We will pursue the implementation and universalisation of the existing disarmament and non-proliferation norms.”16 Indeed, the EU specifically recommends the strengthening of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) through working to ensure “concrete outcomes” from the work of the expert groups.17 This is in direct contrast to the Bush administration’s stance on that treaty. One of the means by which the EU intends to increase the credibility of existing regimes is by preventing cheating through effective verification by “enhancing the detectability of significant violations and strengthening the enforcement of the norms established by this treaty regime.”18 This is an attempt to head off potential U.S. criticisms of the EU’s continued attachment to regimes.

One of the most important advances is a commitment to developing common European threat assessments rather than national or NATO analyses. In the past, the EU gave the idea of establishing such common assessments short shrift, partly to avoid explicitly contradicting NATO—where the United States has a heavy input into policy— and also to avoid the internal arguments that would arise between EU members in very different geostrategic situations. So glaring was this absence that a number of institutions and individuals had jumped into the fray, offering their own assessments.19 Several U.S. commentators also urged the EU to develop its own intelligence and threat assessment capabilities on the assumption that EU judgments would vindicate U.S. threat assessments.20

The EU now has a Situation Center to prepare and continuously update threat assessments.21 Moreover, the plan is also to have a Monitoring Center on WMD Disarmament and Non-Proliferation to ensure that the Action Plan is implemented, collate information and intelligence, liaise with international bodies, and propose measures to prevent and combat WMD proliferation.22 Thus, at least in principle, the EU should soon have a common threat assessment methodology as the basis for forming policies to deal with specific threats as they arise.

The Basic Principles and the Action Plan also show the intention of “mainstreaming non-proliferation policies into the EU’s wider relations with third countries,” including the use of cooperation agreements and assistance programs. The EU will use conditionality via the “carrots” of improving trade, aid, and economic relations with third countries. This is more evidence of the EU preference for soft-power tools and recognition of the role of such tools in addressing the root causes of proliferation problems.

Many of the elements of the new EU policies on WMD proliferation are familiar. For example, the Action Plan also makes much of strengthening export controls. The EU “will take the lead in efforts to strengthen regulations on trade with material that can be used for the production of biological weapons.”23 Although this is a codification of existing EU policies and builds on the efforts of the BWC and Australia Group, it does mark an increased commitment to such approaches.

According to a senior European diplomat, “Essentially, the [United States] and Europeans do not differ about the ends, we differ over the means. We have now set out a credible alternative, anchored on the multilateral system to stop WMD proliferation.”24 What the new documents do is to make more explicit European approaches to the issues. This is important as a coherent statement of EU approaches also gives them a solidity that they have previously lacked. It also marks a more explicit commitment to these policies. They have become the policies that the EU member states and those seeking to join the union—maybe even other states in the system—will coalesce around.

The EU policy on WMD proliferation is informed by its own developing strategic personality and in reaction to and defense against the U.S. abandonment of more traditional approaches to solving the proliferation problem. As the Financial Times noted, this “is the first time the EU has spelt out a systematic alternative to U.S. policy on WMD.”25

Are the EU WMD Policies Taken Seriously?

This is really the million-dollar (or million-euro) question. WMD policies were borne out of the EU’s disagreements over Iraq and were an attempt to ensure that such divisions did not happen again. Are they likely to succeed? As yet, the policies are untested, but some important bits of evidence can be identified.

As the EU moves to tackle the most difficult aspects of the Basic Principles and the Action Plan, the challenge will be keeping together the disparate member states, with nuclear states such as France and the United Kingdom trying to protect their own arsenals while more pacifist states such as Sweden and Ireland are keen to pursue a WMD disarmament agenda. One of the most ambitious aspects of the policy is the intention to re-invigorate the nonproliferation regimes (in the face of U.S. skepticism). A potential first test of this is coming up soon, at the 2005 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in Ireland. The Irish are reportedly keen to show progress on the issue and concerned that it will be difficult to carry the whole of the EU with them.

There are, however, indications that member states are seriously committed. First, the new approach to dealing with WMD proliferation is intended to be the first of a number of action plans to tackle key security problems. Therefore, this policy cannot be allowed to fail. Second, the issue is being driven forward at the ambassadorial level in Brussels. This high-level attention is keeping the issue at the top of member states agendas and maintaining its political momentum. Third, the responsible desk officers in the EU offices of the Commission, Council Secretariat, and Military Staff have a “relatively civilized relationship and an understood division of labor,” so the issue is being constructively handled.26 Fourth, we are already witnessing the implementation of some elements of the policy: the EU is sponsoring an Inter-Parliamentary Conference on Cooperative Threat Reduction in Russia, the EU Presidency is currently circulating a draft document on challenge inspections (which apparently draws on previous British work for the Chemical Weapons Convention), and the EU is cooperating with the Proliferation Security Initiative. Finally, the next two states to hold the EU Presidency, Ireland and the Netherlands, are both pro-arms control and the Irish in particular are keen to have positive outcomes from their tenure.

Another intriguing “straw in the wind” concerns the issue of Iran. The ability of foreign ministers Jack Straw of the United Kingdom, Dominique de Villepin of France, and Joschka Fischer of Germany to strike a deal with Tehran surely marked a signal day in Europe’s arms control efforts, whether or not it is ultimately successful in halting Iran’s nuclear program. As De Villepin remarked to reporters to conclude, “[I]t is an important day for Europe because we are dealing with a major issue.”27

Less noted, but potentially more important for the long-term, is the position that the United Kingdom is playing in that crisis, which is in very stark contrast to the position it took over Iraq’s WMD program. During the Iraq crisis, Prime Minister Tony Blair was criticized for “freelancing,” failing to discuss issues with his European partners before flying to Washington to agree on strategies. Ultimately, to the chagrin of several states in Europe, the United Kingdom sided with the United States rather than with the key players in the EU.

In dealing with Iran, however, the United Kingdom is very much the loyal European player, stating that it will not contemplate the use of force against the state and backing the EU strategy of engagement rather than the policy of isolation that the United States has been prosecuting.28 Blair stated that his government is in harmony with the European approach to the issue: “It has always been, and continues to be, the policy of this government to seek to resolve issues of this nature through dialogue.”29 Moreover, in the last month, the British have significantly changed their position on a European Defense Policy, bringing them much closer to France and Germany and healing some of the wounds of the Iraq crisis.30

Iran had been a difficult case for the EU because of the close ties of some member states to the Iranian government. Nevertheless, over the last few months, the EU stance toward Iran hardened, emphasizing compliance with tough International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) standards. This was not, however, the first outcome from the EU’s own threat assessment procedure (which is hardly up and running) but was based on the assessments of the IAEA, which is increasingly concerned about Iranian behavior.

In its policies toward Iran, the EU has already been applying its Basic Principles, emphasizing the role of politics and economics in dealing with proliferation threats. Thus, the EU General Affairs Council concluded that “progress in these [WMD proliferation] matters and strengthening dialogue and cooperation are interdependent, essential and mutually reinforcing elements of EU-Iran relations.”31 The commitment to engagement is clear, but engagement itself now is conditional. As a European diplomat acknowledged, “If we want to be serious when it comes to Iran’s noncompliance with its nonproliferation treaty obligations, we have to show we have carrots and sticks at our disposal.”32

The EU is actively using both these tools. The EU threatened Iran in July that it might halt political and economic talks if it failed to cooperate with the IAEA. Subsequently, the EU deferred a review of relations with Iran (which was to consider new economic and political agreements) for a month in order to gauge how Tehran responded to the IAEA deadline set for the end of October. In parallel to the “sticks,” the United Kingdom, France, and Germany offered a number of incentives to Iran if it gave up its nuclear program.33 These were followed up by the October visit of the foreign ministers to Tehran to press the case for abiding by IAEA demands. The mission seems to be a success, with Iran pledging “full cooperation” with the IAEA and halting its enriching and reprocessing of uranium as a confidence-building measure.

It is worth noting that it was not the EU’s high representative who flew to Tehran, but its national ministers, indicating that the EU has still got some way to go in terms of institutional clout. Nevertheless, their collective action signals that the EU policies on WMD proliferation may hold the union together when faced with anything less than extreme threats.

Implications for the Transatlantic Relationship

Iran is unlikely to be a unique phenomenon. Rather, it signals the blossoming of a new European assertiveness in picking and choosing how and when the EU will cooperate with U.S. nonproliferation policies. In some cases, such as Iran, the United States and Europe will diverge on means even if they agree on goals. In other cases, such as European support for last year’s establishment of a Code of Conduct to supplement the existing Missile Technology Control Regime and their participation in the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative, there is still room for cooperation with the United States tactically and strategically.34

The Iran example seems to indicate a satisfactory division of labor available here, with the United States as the “bad cop” and the EU as the “good cop.” However, this has been suggested in the past only to be met by U.S. criticisms that this arrangement allows Europe to do too little and undermines a concerted approach to WMD proliferators. Depending on how the United States wants to tackle a particular proliferation problem, this division of labor and EU preference for soft-power solutions will either be seen as help or hindrance. In the case of Iraq, the approach of some EU states was seen as problematic, but Bush described EU initiatives with Iran as “an effective approach.”35

The most fundamental difference between the two continents in coming years will be in how they perceive the value of multinational institutions and regimes in preserving global security and the need for alternative strategies such as pre-emption. The premise of the Bush administration’s policies is that most institutions and regimes are not guaranteeing global security, which is why the administration is advocating proactive policies such as pre-emption. The White House has adopted a policy of neglect toward most of the regimes and institutions and is only currently expending energy and resources on those it considers useful, such as the IAEA. EU member states, on the other hand, view these institutions and regimes as guarantors of stability and security and believe the new EU policies may provide a rallying point for defense of the regimes from those within the United States disturbed by the current thrust of administration counterproliferation polices and from other states and civil society groups looking for alternative leadership on this issue. This is certainly not an outcome that would be welcomed by the Bush team.

In particular, debates over the pre-emptive use of force are likely to continue to divide the allies. In the future, however, especially as the EU grows to include the candidate countries of central and eastern Europe, the debate is less likely to pit “old Europe” against “New Europe” than Europeans against Americans. The EU has put down a marker that it will not contemplate pre-emption in the way that is embodied in current U.S. policy. So, although the development of a coherent policy has healed some of the internal rifts of the EU, transatlantic harmony is unlikely to be the outcome. The European hope may be that the United States recognizes that there is another major player in the ring and steps back to let them operate, but this seems an unlikely outcome to this European.

How U.S. and EU National Security Strategies Differ

Excerpts taken from Basic Principles for An EU Strategy Against Proliferation of
Weapons of Mass Destruction
(June 2003), National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass
(December 2002), and National Security Strategy (September 2002).

U.S. National Security Strategy
EU Basic Principles
The Perceived Threat
We will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes and terrorists to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons. We must accord the highest priority to the protection of the United States, our forces, and our friends and allies from the existing and growing WMD threat. The proliferation of all weapons of mass destruction...and means of delivery such as ballistic missiles constitutes a threat to international peace and security. These weapons are different from other weapons not only because of their capacity to cause death on a large scale but also because they could destabilise the international system.
The Use of Force
While the United States will constantly strive to enlist the support of the international community, we will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting preemptively against such terrorists, to prevent them from doing harm against our people and our country...[T]he United States can no longer solely rely on a reactive posture as we have in the past. To address the new threats, a broad approach is needed. Political and diplomatic preventative measures...and resort to the competent international organisations...form the first line of defence. When these measures...have failed, coercive measures under Chapter VII of the UN Charter and international law (sanctions, selective or global, interceptions of shipments and, as appropriate, the use of force) could be envisioned. The UN Security Council should play a central role.
Fundamental Principles
Our National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction has three principal pillars: Counterproliferation to Combat WMD Use… Strengthened Nonproliferation to Combat WMD Proliferation…[and] Consequence Management to Respond to WMD Use… The three pillars of the U.S. national strategy to combat WMD are seamless elements of a comprehensive approach. The EU is committed to the multilateral system. We will pursue the implementation and universalisation of the existing disarmament and non-proliferation norms. With regard to biological and chemical weapons, we will work towards declaring the bans on these weapons to be universally binding rules of international law.
Stopping the Spread of WMD
One of the most difficult challenges we face is to prevent, deter, and defend against the acquisition and use of WMD by terrorist groups. The current and potential future linkages between terrorist groups and state sponsors of terrorism are particularly dangerous and require priority attention. The full range of counterproliferation, nonproliferation, and consequence management measures must be brought to bear against the WMD terrorist threat…
The best solution to the problem of proliferation of WMD is that countries should no longer feel they need them. If possible, political solutions should be found to the problems which lead them to seek WMD. The more secure countries feel, the more likely they are to abandon programmes: disarmament measures can lead to a virtuous circle just as weapons programmes can lead to an arms race.

1. Philip H. Gordon, “Bridging the Atlantic Divide,” Foreign Affairs 82, no. 1 (January/February 2003).
2. Ian Black, “First Bridgehead for EU Military Staff—Their Own HQ,” The Guardian, May 10, 2001, available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/Print/0,3858,4183972,00.html.
3. See Francoise Heisbourg, “Europe’s Strategic Ambitions: The Limits of Ambiguity,” Survival 42, no. 2 (Summer 2000).
4. Paul Cornish and Geoffrey Edwards, “Beyond the EU/NATO Dichotomy: The Beginnings of a European Strategic Culture,” International Affairs 77, no. 3 (July 2001), pp. 587-603.
5. The EU had, however, undertaken a number of Joint Actions designed to shore up the regimes and arms control agreements designed to prevent WMD proliferation.
6. For a very insightful comparison of EU and U.S. strategic concepts, see Alyson Bailes, “EU and U.S. Strategic Concepts: Facing New International Realities,” International Spectator (forthcoming) (Journal of the Instituto Affari Internazionali, Rome).
7. Caroline F. Ziemke, “The National Myth and Strategic Personality of Iran: A Counterproliferation Perspective,” in The Coming Crisis: Nuclear Proliferation, U.S. Interests, and World Order, ed. Victor A. Utgoff (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2000), p. 88.
8. Darryl A. Howlett, Euratom and Nuclear Safeguards (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 1990).
9. Helen Wallace, “Making Multilateral Negotiations Work,” in The Dynamics of European Integration, ed. Helen Wallace (London: Royal Institute for International Affairs/Pinter, 1991).
10. Javier Solana, A Secure Europe in a Better World, European Council, Thessaloniki, June 20, 2003, p. 8.
11. Robert Kagan, Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003).
12. Joanna Spear, “A European View of Non-Proliferation Policy,” in United States Non-Proliferation Policy, eds. Bernard Finel and Jan Nolan (New York: Century Foundation, forthcoming).
13. “Basic Principles for an EU Strategy Against Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction” (Doc. 10352/03 PESC 315 CONOP 18 CODUN 13 COTER 24), para. 4 (hereinafter Basic Principles).
14. Gerrard Quille, “Making Multilateralism Matter: The EU Security Strategy,” European Security Review no. 18 (July 2003), p. 2.
15. Basic Principles; “Action Plan for the Implementation of the Basic Principles for an EU Strategy Against the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction” (Doc. 10352/03 PESC 316 CONOP 19 CODUN 14 COTER 25).
16. Basic Principles, para. 5.
17. Action Plan, para. 17.
18. Basic Principles, para. 6.
19. See Harald Müller, Terrorism, Proliferation: A European Threat Assessment, Chaillot Paper No. 58 (Paris: Institute for Security Studies, March 2003); Gustav Lindström and Burkhard Schmitt, Towards a European Non-Proliferation Strategy, Institute Note, May 23, 2003 (Paris: Institute for Security Studies, 2003).
20. Kori N. Schake and Jeffrey Simon, “Europe” in Strategic Challenges for the Bush Administration: Perspectives from the Institute for National Strategic Studies (Washington, DC: National Defense University Press, 2001), p. 17.
21. Basic Principles, para. 3.
22. Action Plan, para. 14.
23. Action Plan, para. 17.
24. Judy Dempsey, “EU Foreign Ministers Agree WMDJ Policy,” Financial Times, June 17, 2003, p. 9.
25. Ibid.
26. Interview with author, October 22, 2003.
27. Glenn Frankel, “Iran Vows to Curb Nuclear Activities,” The Washington Post, October 22, 2003.
28. Marc Champion and Scott Miller, “Europe Learns Lessons From Failures Over Iraq,” Wall Street Journal, June 19, 2003.
29. House of Commons, Hansard, Written Answers, Prime Minister, June 23, 2003, col. 615W (written response of Prime Minister Tony Blair to a question from Llew Smith MP).
30. Ian Black and Patrick Wintour, “UK Backs Down on European Defence,” The Guardian, September 23, 2003.
31. House of Commons, Hansard, Written Answers, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, June 24, 2003, col. 702W (written response by Minister of State Mr. Rammell to a question from Mr. Soames MP).
32. Dempsey, “EU Foreign Ministers Agree WMD Policy,” p. 9.
33. Paul Taylor and Louis Charbonneau, “Defying U.S., European Nations Engage Iran on Nuclear Program,” The Washington Post, September 20, 2003.
34. The Proliferation Security Initiative seeks to block the transfer of missile technologies abroad by states outside of the Missile Technology Control Regime. See Wade Boese, “U.S. Pushes Initiative to Block Shipments of WMD, Missiles,” Arms Control Today 33, no. 6 (July/August 2003), p. 26; “U.S.: Interdiction Effort May Affect North Korea,” The Washington Post, August 19, 2003, p. A5.
35. Joby Warrick, “Iran Still Has Nuclear Deadline, U.S. Says,” The Washington Post, October 23, 2003.



Joanna Spear is director of the United States Foreign Policy Institute, The Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University. She was previously a senior lecturer in the Department of War Studies, King’s College, London.



Posted: November 1, 2003

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.


Posted: June 1, 2003

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.

Posted: March 1, 2003

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.

Posted: December 1, 2002

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.


Posted: October 1, 2002


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