“It will take all of us working together – government officials, and diplomats, academic experts, and scientists, activists, and organizers – to come up with new and innovative approaches to strengthen transparency and predictability, reduce risk, and forge the next generation of arms control agreements.”
– Wendy Sherman
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State
June 2, 2022
Gabriela Iveliz Rosa Hernández

States Condemn All Cluster Munitions Use

October 2023
By Gabriela Iveliz Rosa Hernández

For the second year in a row, states-parties to the treaty banning cluster munitions have condemned any use of cluster munitions by any actor. In a rebuke of Russia, Ukraine, and the United States, they also expressed “grave concern” about the use of cluster munitions in the Russian war in Ukraine and its humanitarian impact. Days later, the Biden administration announced its second transfer of these weapons to Ukraine.

This classroom in Lyman, Ukraine, was destroyed by a cluster bomb in July during the Russian war on Ukraine. (Photo by Gian Marco Benedetto/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)States-parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) held their 11th annual meeting Sept. 11-14 in Geneva. They concluded with the adoption of a final document that highlighted the obligation of the 123 states-parties, including several NATO members, to “never, under any circumstances,” use, develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile, retain, or transfer cluster munitions.

The document said the meeting “condemned any use of cluster munitions by any actor” and “expressed its grave concern at the significant increase in civilian casualties and the humanitarian impact resulting from the repeated and well documented use of cluster munitions since the second [CCM] review conference.”

“This grave concern applies in particular to the use of cluster munitions in Ukraine,” it added.

Under the convention, states-parties have prohibited the use of cluster munitions, which tend to disperse unexploded bomblets across battlegrounds. The bomblets often do not detonate on impact, posing ongoing risks of injury or death to military personnel and civilians who can encounter them long after hostilities have ceased.

After much internal debate, the Biden administration decided on July 7 to transfer thousands of cluster munitions worth up to $250 million and known as Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions (DPICMs) to Ukraine in exchange for assurances about how the weapons would be used. (See ACT, September 2023.)

“By providing Ukraine with DPICM artillery ammunition, we will ensure that the Ukrainian military has sufficient artillery ammunition for many months to come. In this period, the United States, our allies, and partners will continue to ramp up our defense industrial bases to support Ukraine,” Colin Kahl, U.S. undersecretary of defense for policy, told a press conference on July 7.

In announcing another cluster munitions transfer on Sept. 21, the Biden administration argued that the weapons are “helping Ukraine on the battlefield,” but the U.S. Cluster Munitions Coalition said it was “appalled by the…decision to initiate another transfer of these indiscriminate weapons.”

Russia, Ukraine, and the United States are not CCM states-parties, but their activities in the full-scale war that Russia launched on Ukraine in 2022 are being closely monitored by countries that have joined the convention.

In response to the U.S. transfer, and “as president of the Convention on Cluster Munitions that has been signed or ratified by 123 states, we express our concern over this decision,” Abdul-Karim Hashim Mostafa, Iraq’s ambassador to UN international organizations in Geneva, said as the meeting opened on Sept. 11.

In terms of annual casualties from cluster munitions, Ukraine has overtaken Syria, which from 2012 to 2021 experienced the highest total of any country. The Cluster Munitions Monitor, a report published by the Cluster Munition Coalition of civil society groups, totaled 1,172 new cluster munitions casualties worldwide in 2022, the highest annual number of victims since the first report in 2010.

The report said that most of Ukraine’s 916 casualties were due to Russia’s use of cluster munitions. Ukrainian forces used cluster munitions during the first year of the war to a lesser extent. Experts expect the casualty numbers to increase in the years ahead following the Biden administration’s decision to transfer cluster munitions to Ukraine.

Under the treaty, countries commit to clear within 10 years any cluster munitions contaminating the territory they control and pledge to achieve a world free of these weapons. (See ACT, October 2022.) It was announced at the meeting that Bulgaria, Slovakia, and South Africa have completed the destruction of their stockpiles of cluster munitions while Bosnia and Herzegovina completed clearing these weapons from its territory. Peru is now the last state-party with stocks left to destroy.

During the meeting, the Cluster Munition Coalition stressed that “states-parties to the CCM should ensure they do not assist with the transfer or use of the U.S. cluster munitions being sent to Ukraine; for example, they should not allow transit of those munitions through their territory.”

Turkey, which has been accused of transferring cluster munitions to Ukraine, attended the CCM as an observer and told the gathering that “it has never used, produced, imported or transferred cluster munitions since 2005, nor does it intend to do so in the future.” (See ACT, September 2023.)

Ukrainian officials have opted to underscore the perceived military benefits of cluster munitions. Kyiv has requested that Washington transfer unguided M26 rocket projectiles, which can distribute 644 DPICMs into a 200-by-100-meter area and are intended to pierce through armor. The M26 rocket can be launched by the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and the M270 Multiple Rocket Launch System.

“Sending cluster rockets for the HIMARS would greatly increase the number of submunitions delivered by each round. Rather than 70 to 80 per canister, as is the case with the DPICM rounds, the [M26] rockets would carry well over 500 submunitions per canister,” Titus Peachy, a member of the U.S. Cluster Munition Coalition steering committee that helped establish the humanitarian demining program in Laos in 1994, told Arms Control Today.

“Our opposition, of course, is to the indiscriminate nature of the weapon, not the number used. However, the increased number of submunitions only increases the indiscriminate effect. Sadly, it would also make the U.S. disregard for international humanitarian law and the norm set by the CCM even more blatant,” he added.

Civil society activists also have pushed back against the coverage of the cluster munition issue by Russian state-controlled media. Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied that Russia used cluster munitions in Ukraine prior to the U.S. transfer of DPICMs.

“Russia’s state-controlled media are keen to demonstrate civilian harm from Ukraine’s use of cluster munitions. They show unexploded U.S. submunitions, yet disregard Russia’s own failed submunitions,” Mary Wareham of Human Rights Watch wrote on Sept. 6.

The next CCM meeting of states-parties will take place in Geneva in 2024.

States-parties to the treaty banning cluster munitions rebuke Russia, Ukraine, and the United States for the use of the munitions in the Russian war on Ukraine.

Nuclear Weapons in Ukraine

News Date: 
September 1, 2023 -04:00

NPT Meeting Underscores Chronic Divisions

September 2023
By Gabriela Iveliz Rosa Hernández, Jupiter Kaishu Huang, and Daryl Kimball

Despite growing threats to the nonproliferation and disarmament regime, states-parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) failed to bridge fundamental policy differences during a July 31-Aug. 11 meeting in Vienna.

Safeguards agreements and additional protocols were the focus of one side event at the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) meeting at The Hague on July 31-Aug. 11. Panelists included, from left, Takeshi Hikihara, the Japanese ambassador to the UN International Organizations in Vienna; Massimo Aparo, deputy director-general at the International Atomic Energy Agency; Levent Eler, Turkish ambassador to the UN International Organizations in Vienna; and Susan Pickett, head of the IAEA Safeguards Training Section. (Photo by Dean Calma/IAEA)The results of the first preparatory committee meeting for the 11th NPT Review Conference underscored deep fissures over the implementation of key treaty obligations, differences between nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states over disarmament and deterrence, and simmering disputes about nuclear weapons sharing arrangements.

Ideally, NPT preparatory committee meetings should end with a formal agreement on the draft rules of procedure and provisional agenda that is reflected in a formal summary and the chair’s recommendations for the review conference. But increasing geopolitical tensions are making it difficult to reach an agreement on even some of the most fundamental matters.

Due to the objections of various delegations, the Vienna meeting collapsed without the chair issuing a formal summary. That document is meant to put on record what states discussed during the meeting and serve as a blueprint for further discussion. (See ACT, September 2022.)

Instead, the chair’s recommendations to strengthen the preparatory process for the next review conference were issued as a working paper, which has become a common outcome.

Under the NPT, the 191 states-parties are obligated “to pursue good faith measures to the cessation of an arms race at an early date and to disarmament,” while non-nuclear-weapon states are committed to forgo acquiring or developing nuclear weapons and to pursue peaceful uses of nuclear energy under safeguards.

Preparatory committee meetings are intended to review and promote the full implementation of the NPT and forward findings to the review conferences, which are scheduled to take place every five years. (See ACT, July/August 2023.) As with the NPT review conferences, preparatory meetings operate on the basis of consensus.


At the Vienna meeting, numerous states-parties expressed support for implementation of the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which restricts the size of the U.S. and Russian strategic arsenals and is the last remaining arms control agreement between them. (See ACT, April 2023.)

“Countries with the largest nuclear arsenals must continue to fulfill their special and primary responsibilities for nuclear disarmament, effectively implement…New START…and further significantly and substantially reduce their nuclear arsenals in a verifiable, irreversible, and legally binding manner,” the Chinese delegation said in a statement.

Beijing and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) stressed the importance of Russia and the United States furthering the disarmament process by committing to deeper reductions in their arsenals.

Many states, including Australia, France, Japan, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden, and the New Agenda Coalition (NAC), comprising Brazil, Egypt, Mexico, New Zealand, and South Africa, expressed concern about Russia’s suspension of its implementation of New START. Some countries, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary Norway, Poland, Slovenia, South Korea, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States, called on Russia to return to full compliance with New START.

In a statement on Aug. 3, the Russian delegation insisted that Russia “continue[s] to adhere to the central quantitative limits stipulated in…New START…, inform the United States of launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles through an exchange of relevant notifications, and observe a unilateral moratorium on the deployment of ground launched intermediate- and shorter-range missiles until similar U.S.-made weapons emerge in relevant regions.” (See ACT, March 2023.)

In addition to urging Russia and the United States to resume a bilateral arms control dialogue, China, the NAC, and the NAM called for sustained engagement in multilateral formats on NPT Article VI by the five states authorized to possess nuclear weapons under the NPT (China, France, Russia, the UK, and the United States).

The U.S. delegation reported that it had organized a working-level expert meeting with the four other nuclear-weapon states on Aug. 2 in Vienna to discuss strategic risk reduction measures.

Nuclear Sharing

States-parties clashed over nuclear sharing agreements. This discussion was spurred by Russia’s announcement in March that it planned to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus and prompted states belonging to the NAC and the NAM to broaden criticism of nuclear sharing practices.

“[A]ny horizontal proliferation of nuclear weapons and nuclear-weapon-sharing by states-parties constitutes a clear violation of non-proliferation obligations undertaken” under the NPT, the NAM said in a statement Aug. 4. “The [NAM], therefore, urges these states-parties to put an end to nuclear weapon-sharing with other states under any circumstances and any kind of security arrangements in times of peace or in times of war, including in the framework of military alliances.”

The NAC previously criticized nuclear sharing practices in a working paper issued on June 31. On July 2, China called for a “withdrawal of nuclear weapons deployed overseas.” This marked a shift from the 10th NPT Review Conference in 2022, when Beijing criticized nuclear- sharing arrangements more generally and noted that they “run counter to the provisions of the NPT and increase the risks of nuclear proliferation and nuclear conflicts.”

Nuclear Deterrence

The Vienna meeting also highlighted deep divisions over disarmament and the role of nuclear deterrence. “We cannot rely with any degree of certainty that nuclear deterrence is or will be effective, but we know for sure that nuclear deterrence can fail,” the Austrian delegation said in an Aug. 10 statement.

The Polish delegation responded by asserting that nuclear deterrence is essential for the security of some states under prevailing security circumstances and that the security of states cannot be diminished in the pursuit of the goals of the NPT.

Brazil on Aug. 3 criticized attempts by various delegations to distinguish between “responsible” and “irresponsible” nuclear-armed states, arguing that the concept of “responsible” possession of weapons of mass destruction is an oxymoron. “Responsibility is not binary,” said Flávio Soares Damico, Brazil’s representative to the meeting. “Neither are behaviors. Nuclear deterrence doctrines, even the most defensive in nature, always rest upon a credible threat of use of nuclear weapons.”

Nuclear Propulsion

Some states-parties raised nonproliferation concerns about the AUKUS agreement by which the UK and the United States will supply Australia with nuclear-powered submarines fueled by highly enriched uranium. (See ACT, July/August 2022.) Delegates from China, Iran, and Russia described the agreement as a challenge to the nonproliferation regime while other states took a less confrontational approach. “Discussions regarding nuclear naval propulsion should be aimed at strengthening safeguards verification mechanism under the [International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)] framework in a transparent, inclusive, and accountable manner,” the Indonesian delegation said.

The UK and the United States stressed that their arrangement would be done in cooperation with the IAEA and conform with safeguards arrangements. The Australian, UK, and U.S. leaders “have made clear that the provision of conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarines to Australia will be carried out in a manner that sets the highest nonproliferation standard and strengthens the global nonproliferation regime,” according to a U.S. statement on Aug. 3.

Summary Report Debate

According to a brief by Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova, an expert on the NPT review cycle process, NPT states-parties “have never agreed on substantive recommendations, and no factual summary has been adopted by a [preparatory committee] session since 2002. Instead, [the preparatory committee] chairs usually issue draft summaries and recommendations as working papers in their own capacity.” At the Vienna meeting, some states-parties took issue with the chair's summary and argued against including it in the procedural report, while others argued that it should not be included in the documentation of the review cycle altogether.

“A summary should contain facts.… [I]t should not look like the perceptions of the chair,” the Iranian delegation argued on Aug. 11. Indonesia and South Africa, among others, also complained that the factual summary was problematic. “We agree that the text cannot be considered factual,” the South African delegation said on Aug. 11, highlighting how the summary elevated nonproliferation over disarmament issues in the first paragraph.

The chair’s summary said that states-parties reaffirmed the central role of the NPT “as the cornerstone of the nuclear nonproliferation regime and the foundation of the pursuit of nuclear disarmament.” But New Zealand, South Africa, and other countries took issue with the chair's language, which they argued implies a hierarchy of objectives by making disarmament aspirational rather than legally binding.

Iran, backed by Russia and Syria, objected to the summary being listed even as a working paper. The Iranian delegation alleged that the summary negatively singled out Iran and presented a one-sided view of the situation relating to the 2015 nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and that the chair had given preference to the Western group of delegations.

As a result, the meeting chair, Jarmo Viinanen, Finnish ambassador for arms control, removed the factual summary altogether from the review cycle documents, a sign of trouble ahead at the next NPT review conference in 2026. The second preparatory committee meeting is set for July 22-Aug. 2, 2024, in Geneva and will be chaired by Akan Rakhmetullin, Kazakhstan’s ambassador to the United Nations.

Fissures over the implementation of key treaty obligations, nuclear deterrence, and nuclear-weapon sharing arrangements dominated the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty gathering.  

U.S. Says Ukraine Gives Cluster Munitions Assurances

September 2023
By Gabriela Iveliz Rosa Hernández

Following months of internal debate, the United States approved the transfer to Ukraine of thousands of cluster munitions worth up to $250 million after Kyiv offered assurances regarding their use.

Firemen try to put out fire at Donetsk University of Economics and Trade in Russian-occupied Donetsk, Ukraine, on Aug. 5. The city’s mayor told reporters that Ukrainian forces used cluster munitions to attack the building. The United States recently provided Ukraine with cluster munitions, which are banned by more than 100 countries. (Photo by Victor/Xinhua via Getty Images)Cluster munitions are banned by more than 100 countries, including many U.S. allies, because they scatter bomblets across battlefields that sometimes fail to explode on impact and can kill or maim combatants and civilians who encounter duds long after the fighting ends.

The agreement between Washington and Kyiv on July 7 is classified. “The Ukrainian government has offered us assurances in writing on the responsible use of [cluster munitions], including that they will not use the rounds in civilian-populated urban environments and that they will record where they use these rounds, which will simplify later demining efforts,” Colin Kahl, U.S. undersecretary of defense for policy, told a press conference.

When asked by Arms Control Today about the assurances, a U.S. State Department official referred to a tweet by Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov on July 7. The tweet read, “We will not be using cluster munitions in urban areas (cities) to avoid the risks for the civilian populations—these are our people; they are Ukrainians we have a duty to protect. Cluster munitions will be used only in the fields where there is a concentration of Russian military.”

According to another U.S. State Department official on Aug. 3, the assurances cover the batch of Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions (DPICM) approved on July 7, but likely would apply to the next batch as a baseline if the United States decided to approve another transfer. These weapons have a rate of unexploded ordnance higher than 1 percent.

Reznikov’s tweet said that cluster munitions would not be used on the internationally recognized territory of Russia and that Ukraine will keep a strict record of the use of these weapons and their locations.

Ukraine is to report such details to its partners to ensure the appropriate standard of transparent reporting and control. Following the expulsion of Russian forces from Ukraine's internationally recognized territories, these territories will be prioritized for demining efforts, according to Reznikov. According to CNN, Ukraine submitted its first report on cluster munitions use, including the rounds fired and the number of Russian targets destroyed, after a U.S. request on Aug. 9. Two weeks later, the Washington Post reported that the United States was satisfied with Kyiv's follow-through.

Asked by Arms Control Today to comment about the possibility of future cluster munitions transfers to Ukraine by allies who are not states-parties to the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), the first State Department official said that the United States would not discourage or encourage such transfers and that such a decision would be a bilateral matter between the ally and Ukraine. But Washington would like allies to establish assurances similar to those already established with Ukraine on how the weapons will be used, the official said.

In January, U.S. allies such as Estonia also were weighing giving Ukraine cluster munitions, according to EER, an Estonian newspaper. Foreign Policy reported that Turkey allegedly sent similar munitions to Ukraine in November 2022, but Turkey and Ukraine denied that transfer. Meanwhile, Lithuania’s defense minister on Aug. 25 suggested that Vilnius should leave the CCM so it can “acquire and use” cluster munitions, the Lithuanian public broadcaster reported.

Ukrainian officials repeatedly have asked the United States for cluster munitions to defend against the Russian invasion. After finally agreeing, the Biden administration said the decision was not taken lightly. It assessed that the current monthly production of U.S. artillery rounds would not meet Ukraine’s needs. (See ACT, January/February 2023; October 2022).

“Ukraine is short on artillery, and being short on artillery, it is vulnerable to Russian counterattacks that could subjugate more Ukrainian civilians. That is the thinking behind our decision,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on July 7.

Kahl said that the cluster munitions delivered to Ukraine will consist only of those with a dud rate of less than 2.35 percent. “Compare that to Russia, which has been using cluster munitions across Ukraine with dud rates of between 30 and 40 percent,” he said.

But The New York Times reported that the cluster munitions sent to Ukraine are generally known to have a failure rate of 14 percent or more under real-world conditions. The newspaper identified the U.S. munitions as 155mm M864 weapons that can deliver 72 dual-purpose grenades to the target area.

During the first year of the war, Russia is estimated to have fired cluster munitions from a range of weapons, expending tens of millions of submunitions, or bomblets, across Ukraine. Ukraine also has used them to defend against Russia’s brutal assault, although far less often than Russia, according to Human Rights Watch.

Russia, Ukraine, and the United States have not joined the CCM, which prohibits states-parties from developing, producing, acquiring, using, transferring, or stockpiling cluster munitions, but 23 NATO members have.

Civil society groups condemned Washington’s decision to provide cluster munitions. “Beyond making the United States a global outlier, acting in contradiction to partner nations’ and NATO allies’ express ban on and statements against the transfer and use of these weapons could hurt the U.S. ability to forge and maintain coalitions that have been so crucial to supporting Ukraine, and undermines the United States’ ability to criticize other governments who use them. It would also harm efforts to promote other arms control agreements,” the U.S. Cluster Munitions Coalition said in a statement on July 7.

Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and the United Kingdom reaffirmed support for the CCM. The U.S. cluster munitions transfer and other issues will be discussed Sept. 11-14 in Geneva during the 11th meeting of state-parties to the convention.

The United States transferred the weapons, which are banned in more than 100 countries, after Ukraine said they will be used against Russian forces, not in civilian-populated urban areas. 


Allies Ponder the Future of the CFE Treaty

September 2023
By Gabriela Iveliz Rosa Hernández

NATO allies are increasingly questioning the value of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty as Russia continues to wage war on Ukraine and destabilize regional security. Some allies already consider the treaty defunct, a senior European official told Arms Control Today.

A Ukrainian soldier prepares 155mm artillery shells as the Ukrainian Army conducts an operation targeting the trenches of Russian forces in August in the Donetsk Oblast during the Russian war on Ukraine. (Photo by Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)Known as the cornerstone of European security, the treaty, together with the Vienna Document and the Open Skies Treaty, constituted a web of interlocking and mutually reinforcing arms control obligations and commitments administered by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

The treaty established verifiable limits on the number of tanks, armored combat vehicles, heavy artillery, combat aircraft, and attack helicopters that NATO and the Warsaw Pact could deploy between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ural Mountains.

Through unprecedented verification and confidence-building measures such as on-site inspections, the treaty contributed to the destruction of more than 72,000 pieces of treaty-limited military equipment. Losing the treaty would mean losing verifiable insight into the armed forces of countries such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Moldova, although NATO members would not be subject to the ceilings
or verification regime.

In an interview July 13, the European official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the treaty no longer corresponded with the realities of the geopolitical environment. The official referred to treaty states-parties that are NATO members and part of a discreet group within the treaty and thus are subject to group sublimits that restrict their equipment amid the remilitarization of Europe.

Alexander Graef of the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy in Hamburg told Arms Control Today that “some [c]urrent NATO members like Bulgaria, Romania, and Poland are, for the purpose of the treaty, still considered part of the Warsaw Pact group, but signed the CFE [Treaty] as sovereign states.  The overall [treaty] ceilings are still way beyond the currently available numbers of equipment, despite the changing security situation in the region.”

“Only Poland might become a partial exception in the future, depending on the actual scale of its announced weapon acquisitions,” he said.

Polish Prime Minister Jarosław Kaczyńsk reiterated on Aug. 18 that Poland’s goal is a 300,000-member army, including 250,000 active-duty soldiers and 50,000 Territorial Defense Forces personnel. Valery Revenka, who heads the Belarusian defense ministry’s international military cooperation department, noted in an Aug. 23 tweet that the CFE agreement on personnel strength restricts the Polish Army to 234,000 people. He complained that NATO and European leaders who normally advocate compliance with international obligations have been silent on Poland’s plans. Poland announced on March 21 that it would cease to implement certain CFE Treaty articles with regard to Belarus. (See ACT, June 2023.)

Belarusian-Polish border tensions increased after Russia banished the Wagner paramilitary group to Belarus following the group’s one-day mutiny against the Russian Defense Ministry. Wagner’s chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin, was killed in a suspicious plane crash in Russia on Aug. 23.

Russia’s withdrawal from the treaty does not take effect until Nov. 7, but it has failed to implement the agreement since 2007. Formal withdrawal will allow Russia to build up its forces and deploy them closer to its western border although Moscow may remain under treaty limits due to its equipment losses in Ukraine.

Russian ally Belarus shares the status of co-belligerent against Ukraine but remains in the treaty. Treaty states-parties “will have to decide whether to put the 1990 accord to rest, into a coma, or attempt to inject new life into it,” wrote Pal Dunay, former legal adviser of the Hungarian delegation to the 1989-1990 treaty negotiations.

In 1999, states-parties tried to adapt the treaty to reflect the enlargement of NATO because the original treaty had no provision for additional countries to accede to it, but they failed. (See ACT, November 1999.) After Russia ceased abiding by the treaty, the United States and several NATO allies stopped implementing it and imposed countermeasures on Moscow. But they continued implementing the treaty toward all other parties including Belarus, which came to represent Russian interests.

Every year, the State Department reports on CFE Treaty compliance among states-parties. Although a senior State Department official confirmed to Arms Control Today that the United States is in compliance with its treaty obligations, including toward Belarus, the report has not been released publicly. (See ACT, June 2023.) “Due to the unprecedented nature of Russia’s continued aggression against Ukraine and its impact on U.S. and allied security, the…report covering the calendar year 2022 is still under review,” the official said.

According to their declarations to the OSCE, Denmark, Hungary, and the Netherlands have continued complying with the CFE Treaty and the Vienna Document. Romania, in its OSCE filing, noted that Romanian teams are actively involved in verification missions in the OSCE region under the treaty and the Vienna Document. Bulgaria reported that it did not conduct inspections under the treaty and did not receive any inspections but participated in Vienna Document activities.

During the summer of 2023, Arms Control Today spoke on background with more than a dozen European officials. All highlighted their support for the OSCE as an organization and for reimagining the OSCE arms control instruments following the emergence of an expected new European security order. Some noted that the OSCE is the only platform where some states could talk to Russia or to other states with whom they may not otherwise have contact.

Even though the CFE Treaty is battered, “[w]e still have the Vienna Document,” OSCE Secretary-General Helga Schmid said July 26 in Washington.

“At some point after trust is built, you will have to come back to conventional arms control and do it in an inclusive manner; and everyone relevant to European security is around the table” at the OSCE, she said.

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine dealt a serious blow to the OSCE and its arms control instruments. Since the war began, Russia has opted not to participate in the Vienna Document annual data exchange about its forces and its inspection and verification regime.

Some allies already consider the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty defunct, a high-ranking European official told Arms Control Today.  


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