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– Hans Blix,
former IAEA Director-General

European Security

NATO Posture Review Takes Shape

Discussions among NATO member states and staff on the format and content of a “deterrence and defense posture review” are making slow progress, diplomats and officials involved in the process said last month. It is expected that an informal meeting of defense ministers March 10-11 in Brussels will finalize the terms of reference for that review, which was agreed at the November 2010 NATO summit in Lisbon, the sources said.

Oliver Meier

Discussions among NATO member states and staff on the format and content of a “deterrence and defense posture review” are making slow progress, diplomats and officials involved in the process said last month. It is expected that an informal meeting of defense ministers March 10-11 in Brussels will finalize the terms of reference for that review, which was agreed at the November 2010 NATO summit in Lisbon, the sources said. (See ACT, December 2010.)

According to these sources, it seems likely that the mandate of the posture review will be broad, covering the balance between nuclear and conventional forces as well as missile defense elements in NATO’s defense posture. The proposal by some member states, advanced ahead of the adoption of a new Strategic Concept at the Lisbon summit, to conduct a narrow review, focusing on NATO’s nuclear posture only, appears to be off the table. (See ACT, October 2010.)

NATO’s posture review could be conducted in two phases, the sources said. A consultative phase, lasting several months, would provide an opportunity for member states to brainstorm on the alliance’s future deterrence posture. Drafting of a possible report, to be adopted at the spring 2012 NATO summit in the United States, would begin after the June 8-9 NATO ministerial meetings. According to officials, the deterrence review is likely to be conducted by the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s principal political body, and might be accompanied by a public diplomacy effort, including seminars that involve nongovernmental experts.

Discussions of the format and purpose of a new arms control committee, whose creation was agreed at the Lisbon summit, have turned out to be even more controversial, the sources said. Some, including France, favor a review that is limited in time and scope and is tied to the posture review. Others, including Germany, prefer a broad, ongoing, stand-alone review. According to the sources, there is also disagreement as to whether an arms control committee would be chaired by a NATO official, a member-state representative, or both. These disagreements might prevent a March agreement on the terms of reference for the arms control committee, the sources said.

 

Posted: March 3, 2011

UK, France Sign Nuclear Collaboration Treaty

Robert Golan-Vilella

The United Kingdom and France have agreed to cooperate in maintaining their nuclear weapons stockpiles, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy said last month in a joint press conference.

The Nov. 2 announcement came at the conclusion of a one-day bilateral summit as Cameron and Sarkozy signed two treaties committing their countries to a deeper military partnership. One pact addresses a broad range of defense and security issues. The other states that the two parties will cooperate in nuclear weapons safety and security, stockpile certification, and “counter nuclear or radiological terrorism.”

Under the terms of the latter treaty, the United Kingdom and France will build two joint nuclear research facilities. At one, in Valduc, France, the two countries will perform hydrodynamic experiments on their nuclear warheads. The facility will “use radiography to measure the performance of materials at extremes of temperature and pressure,” British Minister of Defence Liam Fox told the House of Commons Nov. 2. “This enables us to model the performance and safety of the nuclear weapons in our stockpile without undertaking nuclear explosive tests,” he said.

The Valduc site “shall comprise areas for solely national and joint use,” the nuclear cooperation treaty states. Each nation “shall conduct all the trials needed to support its national programmes…without scrutiny from” the other. In addition, each country’s national area is to be staffed by its own personnel, and access to that area “shall be subject to prior approval” by its own national authorities.

The second facility, which will be built at the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Aldermaston, England, will pursue “development work to underpin the technologies used in the [Valduc] facility throughout its operational life,” according to the treaty. No fissile material is to be used in the experiments performed at this location, the treaty says.

In addition to nuclear stockpile management, the two powers agreed to “develop jointly some of the equipment and technologies for the next generation of nuclear submarines,” a joint declaration from the summit said. In non-nuclear areas, the two countries pledged to develop a joint expeditionary force, allow each country’s aircraft to operate off the other’s aircraft carriers, create a framework for addressing cybersecurity issues, and work together to build a new generation of unmanned aerial vehicles, according to the summit declaration.

In his press conference with Sarkozy, Cameron emphasized Paris and London’s common interests as the driving force behind the treaties. He said that the two countries “are natural partners; the third- and the fourth-largest defense spenders in the world, both with nuclear responsibilities and both with permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council.” Sarkozy concurred, stating that “we have common commitments and we will shoulder them together.”

Cameron also highlighted the economic incentives for increased collaboration, saying the policy shift “is about practical, hard-headed cooperation between sovereign countries. It is about sharing development and equipment costs, eliminating unnecessary duplication, coordinating logistics, and aligning our research programs.”

Indeed, the move comes just as both nations are facing severe financial pressures at home. Two weeks prior to concluding the agreements with France, the British government unveiled its Strategic Defence and Security Review, in which it announced that it would cut defense spending by 8 percent in real terms over the next four years. (See ACT, November 2010.) Commentators in the international media immediately identified the need to cut costs as the principal motivating force for the treaties, dubbing the new partnership “the entente frugale.” The term is a play on the Entente Cordiale, an early 20th century agreement between Paris and London that resolved several long-standing disputes and reduced tensions between the powers.

When asked how much money would be saved as a result of the treaties, a spokesman for Cameron said that the British government did not currently have an estimate and that many of the details would be worked out over the next year, according to a press briefing summary from Cameron’s office.

The prescribed duration of the nuclear treaty is the life cycle of the Valduc and Aldermaston facilities, which “shall be 50 years or until such other time as mutually agreed by the Parties,” the agreement says. The defense and security treaty is to remain in force indefinitely.

 

Posted: December 5, 2010

Vienna Document 1999

August 2010

Press Contact: Jeff Abramson, Deputy Director, (202) 463-8270 x109

Updated: August 2010

The Vienna Document is a confidence- and security- building measure in which members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) agree to inspections and data exchanges in order to increase transparency of their conventional forces. With Russia’s suspension of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE Treaty) in 2007 and subsequent loss of transparency around conventional forces, the politically binding procedures and related reports associated with the document have become more important.

Background: The Vienna Document encompasses the goals of the Helsinki Final Act Decalogue of 1975 and incorporates them into a politically binding document. The Helsinki Final Act principles created the initial confidence- and security- building measures that would be elaborated upon, first in the Stockholm Document (1986) and later in the first Vienna Document. The first document, Vienna Document 1990, would have successors in Vienna Documents 1992, 1994, and 1999. All of the Vienna Documents have sought to strengthen the transparency and openness in the OSCE area.

Helsinki Final Act Decalogue[1]

1     Sovereign equality, respect for the rights inherent in sovereignty

2     Refraining from the threat or use of force

3     Inviolability of frontiers

4     Territorial integrity of States

5     Peaceful settlement of disputes

6     Non-intervention in internal affairs

7     Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief

8     Equal rights and self-determination of peoples

9     Co-operation among States

10   Fulfillment in good faith of obligations under international law

 

 

Document Status: Vienna Document implementation is discussed weekly at the Forum for Security Co-operation (an OSCE body) and at annual meetings in Vienna.  Signatories to the document are the fifty-five member states of the OSCE. [2]

During the most recent Annual Implementation Assessment Meeting (AIAM), held March 2-3, 2010, the OSCE’s Conflict Prevention Centre reported that the Vienna Document’s “overall implementation level has remained relatively stable and high." [3] Per the Meeting’s Consolidated Summary, although the number of inspections and evaluations fell in 2009 from their 2008 levels, the number was still above the five-year average. There is some speculation that the economic conditions facing Vienna Document countries could play a part in the lower numbers.

The 2010 State Department report on Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments, which considered treaty and agreement compliance from January 1, 2004 to December 31, 2008, found that “compliance with VD99 has been good.” [4] The report acknowledged that some states did not submit their information for the December meeting but that “most” of the States eventually submitted the required paperwork.

In regards to the sharing of information under the Vienna Document, there was conversation at the March 2010 AIAM that changes may need to be made to the document because of new technology, capabilities, and military structures that have not been accounted for.

Information Exchange: Under the Vienna Document, countries agree to an Annual Exchange of Military Information where information regarding “military forces concerning the military organization, manpower and major weapon and equipment systems” will be shared with other member states. [5] A country that plans to change the structure of their military forces for a period longer than 21 days (such as increasing the size of a combat unit) reports the change to other states. States also share information about their weapon systems and if there are plans to deploy new systems (if so, countries share information about these systems). Under Article II, countries are also expected to provide information regarding their defense planning.  Under a general considerations report, a state provides information regarding their military structure (including specific unit and formation information), major weapons and equipment systems, and their hardware. The specific equipment that is covered by the Vienna Document can be found in Article I.

Year

Number of Submitted Reports (General Considerations)[6]

2009

Not Available

2008

55

2007

54

2006

51

2005

53

 

Year

Number of Submitted Reports (Defense Planning)

2009

47

2008

41

2007

47

2006

40

2005

45

The Vienna Document also says that states should inform other states if “certain military activities” will take place, which means a military activity will be subject to notification whenever it involves at any time during the activity:

  • at least 9,000 troops, including support troops, or
  • at least 250 battle tanks, or
  • at least 500 armored combat vehicles, as defined in Annex III, paragraph (2), or
  • at least 250 self-propelled and towed artillery pieces, mortars and multiple rocket-launchers (100 mm calibre and above). [7]

States also can invite other member states to militarily significant actions for observation purposes. [8] There are some constraints on states, including limits on the number of exercises that can be carried out within a specific timeframe under certain conditions. [9]

If a Vienna Document state has concerns about a militarily significant action, they can request an explanation of the action from the party responsible. If there are concerns after an explanation is offered, the concerned state can request a meeting with the acting party.  Participation in the meeting will be open to any states interested in the action. Either party can also request a meeting of all states, which would be conducted as a joint Permanent Council and Forum for Security Cooperation meeting, where recommendations from states will be considered.

Process: The Vienna Document 1999 encourages countries to host visits to military facilities, create military contacts, and hold joint exercises and demonstrations of military equipment as ways of increasing confidence between states. [10] By November 15, states are expected to submit a schedule of prior notification military activities for the next year.  According to the Consolidated Summary of the 19th Annual Implementation Assessment Meeting , held March 3-4, 2009, “a total of 109 inspection visits in 2008 had resulted in more than 1,000 arms control personnel having the opportunity to meet their counterparts and improve their relations.” [11]

Year

Number of Evaluation Visits [12]

2009

46

2008

41

2007

55

 

Year

Number of Countries Hosting Evaluation Visits

2009

Not Available

2008

44

2007

33

 

Year

Number of Inspection Visits

2009

96

2008

109

2007

88

Under the Document, states can host three inspections on their territory per year and do not have to exceed that limit if they do not wish.  Inspection teams observe notable military activities.  In addition to inspection visits, there are also evaluation visits, which verify data that is part of the information exchange.  A state must host at least one and no more than 15 evaluation visits a year (number of visits is determined by number of units). [13]

Article XI calls for an Annual Implementation Assessment Meeting where states will have the opportunity to discuss questions of implementation, operations, and questions that may have arisen from information that has been exchanged.  The meeting, hosted by the Forum for Security Cooperation, is also an opportunity to discuss confidence- and security- building measures.  If a state has not offered their data at the Annual Exchange of Military Information, held no later than December 15, they are expected to offer an explanation as to why it has not been submitted and an expected date for contribution.

Amendments to Vienna Document 1999: A May 19, 2010 decision by the Forum for Security Cooperation (FSC.DEC/1/10) created a procedure for continuous updating of the Vienna Document, under which decisions that update document text will be called Vienna Document Plus. [14] Every five years the Vienna Document will be reissued with the changes from “Plus” incorporated.  This will not delay the entry into force of changes, which will be effective immediately, unless expressly stated otherwise.  Decisions in Vienna Document Plus will supersede those of Vienna Document 1999 as they are the most recent.

-Researched and prepared by Valerie Pacer



[1] For a more detailed description of the Decalogue, see European Navigator’s explanation http://www.ena.lu/helsinki_decalogue_august_1975-2-19193

[2] OSCE member states are: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Holy See, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, and Uzbekistan

[3] Consolidated Summary of the 2010 Annual Implementation Assessment Meeting (AIAM)

[4] See “Vienna Document 1999 on the Negotiations on Confidence- and Security- Building Measures (page 36) ”http://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/documents/july2010compliancereport072710.pdf

[5] See Article I “Annual Exchange of Military Information” for specific information that is exchanged: http://www.osce.org/documents/fsc/1999/11/4265_en.pdf

[6] Numbers of Submissions can be found in the 2009 AIAM Consolidated Summary http://www.osce.org/documents/fsc/2009/03/37422_en.pdf, 2010 AIAM Consolidated Summary and at http://dtirp.dtra.mil/TIC/synopses/gemi.cfm

[7] Vienna Document 1999, Article V

[8] See Article VI “Observation of Certain Military Activities” for an explanation of observation procedures.

[9] See Article VIII “Constraining Provisions” for thresholds and limits of activities.

[10] See Articles III “Risk Reduction” and IV “Contacts” of VD99 for recommendations.

[11] Consolidated Summary of the 19th Annual Implementation Assessment Meeting 2009 http://www.osce.org/documents/html/pdftohtml/37422_en.pdf.html , pg. 49

[12] Numbers of evaluation and inspections can be found in the AIAM Consolidated Summary 2009 http://www.osce.org/documents/fsc/2009/03/37422_en.pdf and AIAM Consolidated Summary 2010.

[13] See Article IX “Compliance and Verification” for an explanation of measures, including inspections and evaluations.

[14] “Decision No.1/10 Establishing a Procedure for Incorporating Relevant FSC Decisions Into the Vienna Document” (FSC.DEC/1/10) http://www.osce.org/documents/fsc/2010/05/44706_en.pdf

Conventional Arms Issues

Fact Sheet Categories:

Posted: August 24, 2010

Reassessing the Role of U.S. Nuclear Weapons in Turkey

NATO is revising its Strategic Concept; the alliance is due to complete work on the document in November. A key issue in the revision is the deployment of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in Europe as part of the alliance’s policy of extended nuclear deterrence. Although Turkey has long been in agreement with its allies on the value of these forward deployments, it may soon find itself in a delicate position on the question of how to continue the policy effectively.

With other NATO countries such as Luxembourg and Norway supporting them, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands have indicated a desire to reassess the case for continued deployment of U.S. nuclear weapons on their territories. Should these countries advocate withdrawal of U.S. weapons from Europe, Turkish decision-makers might conclude that two fundamental principles of the alliance, namely solidarity and burden sharing, have been seriously weakened. Those principles have been the basis for Turkey’s agreement, since the early 1960s, to the deployment of U.S. nuclear weapons on its soil.

Mustafa Kibaroglu

NATO is revising its Strategic Concept; the alliance is due to complete work on the document in November. A key issue in the revision is the deployment of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in Europe as part of the alliance’s policy of extended nuclear deterrence. Although Turkey has long been in agreement with its allies on the value of these forward deployments, it may soon find itself in a delicate position on the question of how to continue the policy effectively.

With other NATO countries such as Luxembourg and Norway supporting them, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands have indicated a desire to reassess the case for continued deployment of U.S. nuclear weapons on their territories. Should these countries advocate withdrawal of U.S. weapons from Europe, Turkish decision-makers might conclude that two fundamental principles of the alliance, namely solidarity and burden sharing, have been seriously weakened. Those principles have been the basis for Turkey’s agreement, since the early 1960s, to the deployment of U.S. nuclear weapons on its soil.

The issue is contentious within NATO, which makes its decisions by consensus—an approach that was reaffirmed by the alliance’s foreign ministers at an April meeting in Tallinn, Estonia, and by an Experts Group report released in May.

Although final decisions on the deployment of U.S. nuclear weapons probably are not imminent, the debate has already been joined, and Turkey should be an active participant. If Turkey continues to sit on the sidelines of that debate, as it has done until now, it could find itself in an uncomfortable spot: A decision to remove the U.S. weapons from Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands would likely leave Turkey and Italy as the only NATO members with foreign nuclear weapons on their soil.[1] Such a situation would put pressure on Turkey to reverse its long-standing policy of hosting U.S. nuclear weapons on its territory—even more so if the U.S. nuclear weapons are removed from Italy as well. Turkey’s calculus must include an additional element because it has Middle Eastern neighbors that are a source of concern to some allies but with whom Turkey is developing increasingly close diplomatic ties after a long period of animosity that extended beyond the end of Cold War rivalry.

The most sensible course for Turkey is to support the efforts of other host nations to create a consensus within the alliance that would lead to a withdrawal of U.S. nuclear weapons from Europe. That step would help Ankara to continue cultivating relationships with its non-European neighbors and could be achieved without undermining extended nuclear deterrence.

NATO’s New Strategic Concept

Since 1999, when NATO last revised its Strategic Concept, the world has undergone dramatic changes and witnessed tragic events, such as the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, followed by others in Bali, Istanbul, Madrid, London, and Amman. Since the September 11 attacks, NATO, while maintaining its identity as a collective security organization, has accelerated the pace at which it is transforming itself from one focused on defending a particular geographical area against a well-known enemy to one that would be capable of dealing with emerging threats such as international terrorism, which may manifest itself in different forms and almost anywhere in the world.

This process of transformation within NATO has called into question the relevance of the 1999 Strategic Concept to the challenges and threats that the allied countries are facing now and are likely to confront in the future.

The Strategic Concept has therefore been under revision since the alliance summit convened in Strasbourg/Kehl, on April 3-4, 2009. At the summit meeting, NATO heads of state and government tasked the secretary-general with assembling and leading a broad-based group of qualified experts who would lay the groundwork for the new Strategic Concept with the active involvement of NATO’s highest decision-making body, the North Atlantic Council.[2] The report, “NATO 2020: Assured Security; Dynamic Engagement,” was released May 17.

The details of the new Strategic Concept are not yet final, but the Experts Group report and media accounts of the ongoing deliberations give an idea of the general principles that are likely to govern the new document. For instance, during their April 22-23 meeting in Tallinn, Estonia, NATO foreign ministers discussed ways to modernize the organization and held talks on the new Strategic Concept. In those discussions, they shared the view that “the new concept must reaffirm NATO’s essential and enduring foundations: the political bond between Europe and North America, and the commitment to defend each other against attack,” according to a NATO press release.[3]

More specifically, concerning the nuclear strategy of the alliance, Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said that, “in a world where nuclear weapons exist, NATO needs a credible, effective and safely managed deterrent.”[4]

That statement suggests that nuclear weapons are likely to retain their central role in NATO’s forthcoming Strategic Concept. That would satisfy Turkey’s expectations; Ankara is looking f or the continuation of extended deterrence, which has traditionally relied on U.S. nuclear weapons deployed in Europe.

Nevertheless, the positions of the European allies are not fully compatible with that of Turkey. Some western European allies have expressed strong reservations about the presence of U.S. nuclear weapons on their territories, while some central and eastern European allies still support the deployment of these weapons in Europe as a visible sign of U.S. security guarantees for Europe.

The foreign ministers of Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Norway stated in a February 26 letter to Rasmussen that they “welcome the initiative taken by President Obama to strive toward substantial reductions in strategic armaments, and to move towards reducing the role of nuclear weapons and seek peace and security in a world without nuclear weapons.”[5] The letter emphasized that there should be discussions in NATO as to what the allies “can do to move closer to this overall political objective.”[6]

Some central and eastern European allies of NATO attach great importance to the continuation of the extended nuclear deterrence strategy of the alliance and the forward deployment of U.S. nuclear weapons, which they consider to provide credible assurances against the potential threat that they perceive from Russia.[7] There is unanimous support for including tactical nuclear weapons in the next round of nuclear arms control, and there are also views suggesting concomitant withdrawal of all Russian and U.S. tactical nuclear weapons from Europe.[8]

However, even the central and eastern European countries that favor the continuation of nuclear sharing do not want to commit themselves to any obligation to host U.S. nuclear weapons on their territories.[9] This was, in fact, an agreed-on principle within the alliance at the time of their admission so as not to provoke Russia, which was adamantly opposing the eastward expansion of the alliance throughout the 1990s and beyond.

According to the terms of agreement of the NATO-Russia Founding Act of 1997, which was negotiated prior to the admittance of the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland to NATO, the alliance declared it had “no intention, no plan and no reason to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of new members, nor any need to change any aspect of NATO’s nuclear posture or nuclear policy.”[10] Hence, it would be fair to assume that if nuclear weapons are withdrawn from Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands, there are no new candidates to take them.

Should this be the case, Turkey might have to revise its stance vis-à-vis the U.S. nuclear weapons on its soil.[11]

U.S. Nuclear Weapons in Turkey

Turkey has hosted U.S. nuclear weapons since intermediate-range Jupiter missiles were deployed there in 1961 as a result of decisions made at the alliance’s 1957 Paris summit. Those missiles were withdrawn in 1963 in the aftermath of the Cuban missile crisis. Since then, no nuclear missiles have been stationed in Turkey. The only nuclear weapons that have been deployed are the bombs that would be delivered by U.S. F-16s or Turkish F-100, F-104, and F-4 “Phantom” aircraft at air bases in Eskisehir, Malatya (Erhac), Ankara (Akinci/Murted), and Balikesir.[12] All such weapons, whether on U.S. or Turkish aircraft, have been under the custody of the U.S. Air Force.

Turkey still hosts these U.S. tactical nuclear weapons on its territory, albeit in much smaller numbers.[13] They are limited to one location, the Incirlik base near Adana on the eastern Mediterranean coast of Turkey.[14] All other nuclear weapons have been withdrawn from the bases mentioned above.[15] Moreover, the Turkish air force no longer has any operational link with the remaining tactical nuclear weapons deployed at Incirlik.[16] F-104s have not been in service since 1994. F-4s are still in service after modernization of some 54 of them by Israeli Aerospace Industries in 1997. Yet, only the F-16 “Fighting Falcons” of the Turkish air force participate in NATO`s nuclear strike exercises known as “Steadfast Noon,” during which crews are trained in loading, unloading, and employing B61 tactical nuclear weapons.[17] The Turkish aircraft in these exercises serve as a non-nuclear air defense escort rather than a nuclear strike force.[18]

There were two main reasons for Turkey to host U.S. nuclear weapons. First and foremost has been the deterrent value of these weapons against the threat posed by the nuclear and conventional weapons capabilities of its enormous neighbor, the Soviet Union, during the Cold War. Similarly, after the Cold War, these weapons were believed by Turkish military commanders to constitute a credible deterrent against rival neighbors in the Middle East, such as Iran, Iraq, and Syria, which used to have unconventional weapons capabilities as well as delivery vehicles such as ballistic missiles.[19]

A second reason for Turkey to host U.S. nuclear weapons has been the burden-sharing principle within the alliance. Turkey has strongly subscribed to this principle since it joined NATO in 1952. In fact, Turkey had already displayed unequivocally its willingness to share the burden of defending the interests of the Western alliance by committing a significant number of troops to the Korean War in 1950, even before NATO membership was in sight.

Yet, if Turkey is likely to be left as the only country, or one of only two countries, where U.S. nuclear weapons will still be deployed after a possible withdrawal of these weapons from other allies and no other NATO country will be willing to assume the burden of hosting nuclear weapons, Turkey may very well insist that the weapons be sent back to the United States. From Turkey’s current standpoint, this would not be the desired outcome of the current deliberations within the alliance.

According to a Turkish official, the principle of burden sharing should not be diluted. To live up to their commitment to solidarity, which was reaffirmed in Tallinn, the five countries that currently host these weapons should continue to do so for the foreseeable future, the official said.[20]

Deterrence Against Whom?

Because of the view that NATO’s deterrent will be more credible with the presence of forward-deployed U.S. nuclear weapons in the allied territories in Europe, Turkish diplomats believe that the burden of hosting these weapons should continue to be shared collectively among five allies, as has been the case over the last several decades.

Even if all of Turkey’s allies accept this proposal and act accordingly, Turkey will still face a dilemma in its foreign and security policies if it sees the hosting of U.S. nuclear weapons as the only way for it to fulfill its burden-sharing obligations.

Ankara’s continuing support for the presence of the U.S. weapons on Turkish territory could be justified only if there were a threat from the military capabilities of Turkey’s neighbors, the two most significant of which would be Iran and Syria, and if the Western allies shared that threat assessment. There can be no other meaningful scenario that would justify Turkey’s policy of retaining U.S. nuclear weapons on its territory as well as leaving the door open for the deployment of U.S. missile defenses in Turkey in the future. Recent trends, however, appear to be moving from such a threat assessment by Turkey. Over the last few years, Turkey has experienced an unprecedented rapprochement with its Middle Eastern neighbors.

Last year, Turkey held joint ministerial cabinet meetings with Iraq in October and Syria in December. Until recently, Turkey had treated both countries as foes rather than friends. These meetings have produced a significant number of protocols, memoranda of understanding, and other documents on a wide array of issue areas including the thorniest subjects, such as ways and means of dealing with terrorism effectively and using the region’s scarce water resources more equitably.

Moreover, these high-level meetings resulted in the lifting of the visa requirement for Turkish citizens traveling to Syria and vice versa. That action has paved the way to an opening of the borders between the two countries; the borders had stayed closed for decades due to the presence of large numbers of heavy land mines on both sides. The mines will soon be cleaned up with a view to opening huge land areas to agriculture.

In addition to improvements in bilateral relations with its immediate neighbors, Turkey has become more involved in wider Middle Eastern political affairs than it ever has been since the establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923. A key part of this regional involvement is mediation efforts between Israel and Syria. Another element is a willingness to take on a similar role in Iran’s dispute with the international community over the nature and scope of Tehran’s nuclear program, which is generally considered by Turkey’s NATO allies to have the potential for weaponization and thus further proliferation in the region. Top Turkish political and military officials have suggested on various occasions that the most promising way out of the conflict in the longer term would be the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. Against that background, the continued insistence of the Turkish security elite on hosting U.S. nuclear weapons has drawn criticism from Turkey’s Middle Eastern neighbors.[21]

Some of these neighbors, such as Iran and Syria, criticize Turkey’s policy of retaining nuclear weapons because they see the weapons as being directed against them.[22] Others in the Arab world, such as Egypt, portray these weapons as a symbol of Western imperialism.

Turkey therefore will have to seriously reconsider its policy on U.S. nuclear weapons. For this to happen, a debate should take place in the country in various platforms, in closed as well as open forums, with the participation of experts, scholars, officials, and other concerned citizens.

There is a common belief in Turkey that the U.S. weapons constitute a credible deterrent against threats such as Iran’s nuclear program and the possible further proliferation of nuclear weapons in the region in response to Tehran’s program. Others contend that if Turkey sends the weapons back to the United States and Iran subsequently develops nuclear weapons, Turkey will have to develop its own such weapons. These observers argue that even though they are against the deployment of U.S. nuclear weapons on Turkish soil in principle, the weapons’ presence in the country will keep Turkey away from such adventurous policies.[23] Similar views have also been expressed by foreign experts and analysts who are concerned about Turkey’s possible reactions to the developments in Iran’s nuclear capabilities in case U.S. nuclear weapons are withdrawn from Turkish territory.[24]

The negative effects of the weapons deployments on Turkish-Iranian relations need to be assessed as well. Some Iranian security analysts even argue that the deployment of the weapons on Turkish territory makes Turkey a “nuclear-weapon state.”[25] There is, therefore, the possibility that the presence of the weapons could actually spur Iranian nuclear weapons efforts. This issue may well be exploited by the Iranian leadership to justify the country’s continuing investments in more ambitious nuclear capabilities.

Conclusion

A key question for NATO’s new Strategic Concept is whether burden sharing will continue to be construed as it has had for many decades, as suggested by Turkey, or whether it will be altered in response to the combined negative stance of some western European allies regarding the forward deployment of U.S. nuclear weapons.

This situation could lead to a divisive and unnecessary controversy between Turkey and its long-standing allies in the West. By insisting that the weapons remain on European territory, Turkey would not only alienate some of its Western allies that truly want to move the weapons out of their territories, but also create tension in its relations with its neighbors and newly emerging partners in the Middle East.

On May 17, Turkey signed a joint declaration with Brazil and Iran, providing for the safe storage of Iran’s 1,200 kilograms of low-enriched uranium fuel in Turkey in return for the delivery by France, Russia, the United States, and the International Atomic Energy Agency of 120 kilograms of fuel needed for the Tehran Research Reactor.[26] This “nuclear fuel swap” is potentially a breakthrough in the long-standing deadlock in Iran’s relations with the West over Tehran’s nuclear program. There is no question that the degree of trust that Turkey has built with Iran, especially over the last several years with the coming to power of the Justice and Development Party in Turkey, had a significant impact on getting this result.

Iran has so far adamantly refused all other offers. Hence, the Iranian political and security elites who have been closely interacting with their Turkish counterparts at every level over the past several months and years prior to the fuel swap announcement may raise their expectations in turn. They may press for withdrawal from Turkey of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons, which they fear may be used against them, as a way for Turkey to prove its sincerity regarding its stance toward Iran and, more broadly, its commitment to creating a nuclear-weapon-free Middle East.

Turkey clearly has to tread carefully, but the risks should not be overstated.

One concern might be the contingencies in which the security situation in Turkey’s neighborhood deteriorates, thereby necessitating the active presence of an effective deterrent against the aggressor(s). Yet, given the elaborate capabilities that exist within the alliance and the solidarity principle so far effectively upheld by the allies, extending deterrence against Turkey’s rivals should not be a problem. Turkey would continue to be protected against potential aggressors by the nuclear guarantees of its allies France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, the three NATO nuclear-weapon states. Turkey’s reliance on such a “credible” deterrent, which will not be permanently stationed on Turkish territory, is less likely to be criticized by its Middle Eastern neighbors[27] and should not engender a burden-sharing controversy with its European allies.

One cannot argue that once U.S. nuclear weapons that are stationed in Turkish territory are sent back, the nuclear deterrent of the alliance extended to Turkey will be lost forever.

Currently, three NATO members are nuclear-weapon states. Of the NATO non-nuclear-weapon states, only five, as mentioned above, are known to host U.S. nuclear weapons. The remaining 20 members have no nuclear weapons on their territories. Yet, these members enjoy the credible nuclear deterrent of NATO, which remains the most powerful military organization in the world. Hence, the simple outcome of this analysis is that, for NATO members to feel confident against the threats posed to their national security, they do not have to deploy U.S. nuclear weapons on their territory.[28] Turkey need not be an exception to this rule.


Mustafa Kibaroglu teaches courses on arms control and disarmament in the Department of International Relations at BilkentUniversity in Ankara, Turkey. He has held fellowships at HarvardUniversity’s BelferCenter for Science and International Affairs, the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research.


 

ENDNOTES

1. Italy is believed to host U.S. nuclear weapons, but it is not clear whether it wants to get rid of them. For an account of U.S. nuclear weapons deployed in Italy, see Hans M. Kristensen, “U.S. Nuclear Weapons in Europe: A Review of Post-Cold War Policy, Force Levels, and War Planning,” Natural Resources Defense Council, 2005, p. 9.

2. NATO, “NATO’s New Strategic Concept – Why? How?,” May 2010, www.nato.int/strategic-concept.

3. NATO, “NATO Foreign Ministers Hold Talks on New Strategic Concept,” April 22, 2010.

4. Ibid.

5. Jean Asselborn et al. to Anders Fogh Rasmussen, February 26, 2010. For the full text of the letter, see www.armscontrol.org/system/files/Letter%20to%20Secretary%20General%20NATO.pdf.

6. Ibid.

7. Latvian ambassador, personal communication with author, Ankara, March 31, 2010. For a similar approach from the region, see Lukasz Kulesa, “Extended Deterrence and Assurance in Central Europe,” in Perspectives on Extended Deterrence, No.3/2010 (Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique, Paris, 2010).

8. Carl Bildt and Radek Sikorski, “Next, the Tactical Nukes,” The New York Times, February 1, 2010.

9. Latvian ambassador, personal communication with author, Ankara, March 31, 2010.

10. Kulesa, “Extended Deterrence and Assurance in Central Europe.”

11. Retired Turkish ambassador, personal communication with author, Ankara, March 31, 2010.

12. See Mustafa Kibaroglu, “Turkey and Shared Responsibilities,” in “Shared Responsibilities for Nuclear Disarmament: A Global Debate,” Occasional Paper, AmericanAcademy of Arts and Sciences, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2010, pp. 24-27.

13. Retired Turkish air force commander, personal communication with author, Ankara, February 15, 2010.

14. Hans M. Kristensen, “U.S. Nuclear Weapons in Europe: A Review of Post-Cold War Policy, Force Levels, and War Planning,” p.9.

15. Mustafa Kibaroglu, “Isn’t It Time to Say Farewell to US Nukes in Turkey?” European Security, Vol. 14, No. 4 (December 2005), pp. 443-457.

16. Retired Turkish air force commander, personal communication with author, Ankara, February 15, 2010.

17. Hans M. Kristensen, e-mail communication with author, April 22, 2010

18. Retired Turkish air force commander, e-mail communication with author, April 23, 2010.

19. Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction capability was destroyed following the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Iran and Syria still have such weapons in their military arsenals. Hence, the Turkish security elite still consider extended nuclear deterrence to be significant for Turkey’s security.

20. Turkish diplomat, personal communication with author, Ankara, January 29, 2010.

21. Amr Mousa, personal communications with author, Paris, February 1-4, 2010.

22 Mohmood Vaezi and Saghefi Ameri, personal communications with author, Tehran, December 2004.

23. These comments were made by Turkish security experts and analysts in response to a presentation by Mustafa Kibaroglu entitled “US Nuclear Weapons in Turkey and the Evolution of NATO’s New Strategic Concept” at the Strategy Group Meeting of the Turkish Foreign Policy Institute in Ankara on March 31, 2010.

24. Various arms control experts, personal communications with author, Washington, April 12-13, 2010.

25. Mohmood Vaezi and Saghefi Ameri, personal communications with author, Tehran, December 2004.

26. Joint Declaration of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Iran and Brazil, May 17, 2010.

27. The credibility of NATO’s deterrent has been questioned by security analysts both inside and outside of Turkey in various discussion platforms, and some have expressed their concerns about whether NATO countries would really use nuclear weapons against Iran to defend Turkey. There can be no clear answer for such a question, which relates to a dilemma that is inherent in the concept of deterrence.

28. Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen also suggested there are other means for maintaining alliance cohesion: “A more modest option would be for NATO to retain a nuclear task without U.S. nuclear weapons being stationed in Europe.” Daryl G. Kimball and Greg Thielmann, “Obama’s NPR: Transitional, Not Transformational,” Arms Control Today, May 2010.

 

Posted: June 4, 2010

NATO Chief’s Remark Highlights Policy Rift

A comment by NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on the importance of U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe has put a spotlight on disagreements among member states on the alliance’s nuclear posture.

On the first day of an informal April 22-23 meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Tallinn, Estonia, Rasmussen said at a press conference, “I do believe that the presence of American nuclear weapons in Europe is an essential part of a credible deterrent.”

Oliver Meier

A comment by NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on the importance of U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe has put a spotlight on disagreements among member states on the alliance’s nuclear posture.

On the first day of an informal April 22-23 meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Tallinn, Estonia, Rasmussen said at a press conference, “I do believe that the presence of American nuclear weapons in Europe is an essential part of a credible deterrent.”

Diplomatic sources emphasized in interviews late last month that Rasmussen’s statement did not represent a consensus within the alliance. A senior U.S. official said April 27 that “we were surprised by the urgency with which Rasmussen emphasized the importance of not changing NATO nuclear policies.” According to officials, several NATO members subsequently made clear to Rasmussen that they disagree with his statements on the necessity of continued deployment of U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe.

Because the Tallinn meeting was informal, NATO did not release an official communiqué on its results. In an April 23 press briefing, Rasmussen summed up the meeting by saying that ministers had agreed “that a broad sharing of the burden for NATO’s nuclear policy remains essential.” In contrast to his statement the previous day, Rasmussen did not specifically mention the need for continued forward-basing of U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe. He said he expects discussion on nuclear issues among NATO’s 28 members to “continue right up to November when the new Strategic Concept will be agreed,” referring to the next NATO summit in Lisbon, scheduled for Nov. 19-20.

The current debate about the future role of U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe was triggered by the German government’s October 2009 initiative for a withdrawal of remaining U.S. nuclear weapons from Germany and Europe. (See ACT, December 2009.)

Under NATO nuclear sharing arrangements, the United States keeps an estimated 150 to 200 nuclear weapons in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey. These countries would provide aircraft that could deliver U.S. nuclear weapons to their targets in times of war, although the strike mission of the Turkish air force probably has expired. NATO does not provide details of nuclear deployments, but officials in the past have confirmed that “a few hundred” U.S. nuclear weapons are deployed in Europe. (See ACT, September 2007.)

In addition to forward-deployed U.S. tactical nuclear weapons, NATO relies on the nuclear arsenals of France, the United Kingdom, and the United States for nuclear deterrence.

The Tallinn meeting marked the first time that NATO foreign ministers were officially discussing NATO’s nuclear posture, a precedent apparently viewed with trepidation by some in NATO headquarters, who would have preferred to leave discussions on nuclear matters in the hands of defense ministers.

Rasmussen had been forced to put the issue on the agenda by an open letter sent to him by the foreign ministers of Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Norway on Feb. 26, in which the five countries argue for a “comprehensive discussion” of NATO’s contribution to nuclear disarmament. Officials said in interviews that the letter, which had been initiated by the Dutch government, was mainly motivated by fears that existing differences among NATO allies on nuclear issues would be papered over in the new Strategic Concept. (See ACT, March 2010.)

By and large, central and east Europeans appear to be content with the status quo of NATO’s nuclear posture. A March 2010 Royal United Services Institute report, based on interviews with NATO diplomats and officials, concludes that new NATO members generally see no reason “to change existing arrangements.” France, which does not participate in NATO’s Nuclear Planning Group but did join discussions in Tallinn, is consistently cited as also not being interested in changes to NATO’s nuclear posture. Several officials said these positions did not fundamentally change in Tallinn.

“The only thing we could agree at Tallinn was to disagree,” the senior U.S. official said April 27. He emphasized that given existing differences among NATO members, “that was the best we could expect at this point in time.”

In an April 20 interview, a senior German official drew a distinction between “discussions on Germany’s position to work for a removal of U.S. nuclear weapons from Germany and the debate about NATO’s nuclear posture.” He said “the former is a more practical and limited issue, although of high importance to Germany, while the latter relates to the question of how NATO fundamentally will view the role of nuclear weapons in the new Strategic Concept.”

Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said in an April 21 parliamentary debate that he does not “see the need for having U.S. nuclear weapons on Dutch territory as a security guarantee.”

Arms Control Linkage

In an April 22 dinner speech at the Tallinn meeting, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton outlined “five principles” that should guide NATO’s approach to nuclear weapons. According to the written excerpts of her statement distributed at the meeting, they are:

•  “[A]s long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance”;

•  “[A]s a nuclear Alliance, sharing nuclear risks and responsibilities widely is fundamental”;

•  A “broad aim is to continue to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons” while “recogniz[ing] that in the years since the Cold War ended, NATO has already dramatically reduced its reliance on nuclear weapons”;

•  “Allies must broaden deterrence against the range of 21st century threats, including by pursuing territorial missile defense”; and

•  “[I]n any future reductions, our aim should be to seek Russian agreement to increase transparency on non-strategic nuclear weapons in Europe, relocate these weapons away from the territory of NATO members, and include non-strategic nuclear weapons in the next round of U.S.-Russian arms control discussions alongside strategic and non-deployed nuclear weapons."

The recently released U.S. Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) states that talks on reducing the arsenals of nonstrategic, or tactical, nuclear weapons should only commence after the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty has entered into force (see page 38).

NATO allies support the inclusion of tactical nuclear weapons in a future arms control agreement, but Russia has sent conflicting signals on its willingness to include its stockpile of several thousand short-range nuclear weapons in any future arms control regime. (See ACT, April 2009.)

Deliberate Ambiguity

The senior U.S. official on April 27 strongly rejected the notion that Clinton wanted to tie changes in NATO’s nuclear posture to a possible arms control agreement with Russia on tactical nuclear weapons. “This is a complete misunderstanding of Secretary Clinton’s statement,” which was “deliberately ambiguous” on the future of the U.S. nuclear posture in Europe, he said. “The last thing we wanted to do was give a timeline for any changes,” he said.

The NPR states that, with regard to “future decisions within NATO about the requirements of nuclear deterrence and nuclear sharing,” Washington wants to “keep open all options.”

In response to questions at a press conference on the exact connection between NATO and Russian nuclear reductions, NATO spokesman James Appathurai said on April 22 that “what NATO decides, it decides on its own, but it does not take its decision in a vacuum.”

Similarly, the senior German official said that Berlin does not support a linkage between NATO’s nuclear posture and a future agreement with Russia on tactical nuclear weapons. “The decision by NATO to revise its nuclear posture should be based on an internal assessment of changed circumstances. Of course, removal [of tactical nuclear weapons] would also send a signal that we are serious about the objective to constantly further reduce the nuclear arsenals,” he said.

Other sources said that, by linking withdrawal to an agreement with Russia, NATO would relinquish the initiative on arms control. Instead of waiting for Moscow to move, NATO should strive to actively shape the international environment in order to reduce reliance on nuclear weapons, they said.

By contrast, Foreign Ministers Radek Sikorski of Poland and Jonas Gahr Støre of Norway in an April 9 joint open letter argued that, in the field of tactical nuclear weapons, “reciprocity and mutually agreed measures are called for.”

On March 29, the Guardian’s Julian Borger reported in his Web log that the NATO Group of Experts, which is currently developing a first draft of NATO’s new Strategic Concept, would recommend in its report that U.S. nuclear weapons should only be removed from Europe as part of a quid pro quo with Russia. “You cannot get rid of them without reciprocity,” a member of the Experts Group is quoted as saying.

It appears that the reciprocity requirement has subsequently been challenged by at least one NATO member state and that discussions on this point could be reopened or the issue avoided altogether. Other officials additionally cautioned that the Experts Group will not determine the outcome of the Strategic Concept discussions on nuclear issues. Thus, the senior U.S. official on April 16 emphasized that the report will “help to inform the debate about the new Strategic Concept but it will only precede the actual drafting exercise.” The Experts Group report was supposed to be delivered to Rasmussen on May 1, but that date has been postponed for at least two weeks, officially because the flight ban imposed in Europe after the eruption of an Icelandic volcano in April prevented meetings of the group.

Rasmussen on April 23 summarized discussions among ministers by saying that they had agreed “that NATO must continue to maintain a balance between credible deterrence and support for arms control, disarmament, and nonproliferation.” He reconfirmed the consensus view that NATO would decide on any changes to its nuclear posture only on the basis of an alliance-wide agreement and that missile defense “will not replace deterrence, but can complement it.”

The Obama administration in the NPR had stated its intention “to increase reliance on non-nuclear means,” such as missile defenses, for deterrence in regional security arrangements.

The NPR says that the United States will not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states that are party to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty if those countries are complying with their nonproliferation obligations, but officials differed on how this new policy would affect NATO.

The senior German official said the NPR “should trigger an interesting debate” in the alliance “on its own new nuclear doctrine, which, as the NPR [does], should—from a German perspective—further restrict the circumstances under which NATO might use nuclear weapons.” Other officials were skeptical as to whether the alliance would be able to mirror new U.S. security guarantees. The senior U.S. official said April 16 the Obama administration will “want to wait and see how allies respond to the new nuclear doctrine” as outlined in the NPR “before we see whether we can align NATO policies with U.S. nuclear policies.” The issue of restricting the circumstances under which nuclear weapons could be used has not “come up yet in discussions,” he said.

 

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Posted: May 5, 2010

U.S. Taps Romania for Missile Defense

Moving to flesh out its revamped European missile defense plan announced last September, the Obama administration confirmed in February that Romania would host the first deployment of Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) land-based interceptors in 2015 and that Poland would host the next site in 2018. Turkey and Bulgaria may play a role as well, according to administration officials, who are seeking to soothe Russian concerns by inviting Moscow to join U.S.-NATO missile defense plans.

Tom Z. Collina

Moving to flesh out its revamped European missile defense plan announced last September, the Obama administration confirmed in February that Romania would host the first deployment of Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) land-based interceptors in 2015 and that Poland would host the next site in 2018. Turkey and Bulgaria may play a role as well, according to administration officials, who are seeking to soothe Russian concerns by inviting Moscow to join U.S.-NATO missile defense plans.

The Obama administration announced last fall its intention to base missile interceptors in Poland and in southeastern Europe, but exact deployment dates and the specific southern country had not been officially named. Speaking at the Nuclear Deterrence Summit near Washington Feb. 17, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ellen O. Tauscher said SM-3 missiles would be deployed in Romania in 2015 and Poland in 2018 and that both sites would get missile upgrades in 2020.

Romanian President Traian Băsescu broke the news about his nation’s involvement Feb. 4 while Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was in Turkey and Tauscher was in Romania, a former Warsaw Pact member that now is part of NATO. Băsescu said that the system would not be directed at Russia but rather “against other threats,” according to The New York Times. Department of State spokesman P.J. Crowley told a press briefing Feb. 4 that “as we have made clear over and over again, this is not a capability that is directed at Russia.”

Gates later told reporters he was talking with the Turkish government about what role it could play within NATO on missile defense. “We have discussed the possibility of erecting two radar systems in Turkey,” Gates said Feb 8. However, Ankara is reportedly worried about appearing to sign a bilateral pact with Washington against Tehran.

The United States may also hold preliminary talks with the Bulgarian government on hosting parts of the system, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov said Feb. 12, according to Reuters. But in her Feb. 17 comments, Tauscher said, “We’ve not made an offer to Bulgaria about hosting any element” of U.S. missile defenses.

Russian leaders said they were surprised by the news, and they reacted coolly to it. “We have already asked our partners in Washington...what does this all mean and why after the Romanian surprise there is a Bulgarian surprise now,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, according to Reuters Feb. 15. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton responded in a Washington speech Feb. 22 that Moscow has nothing to fear from NATO. “We need to make Russia a partner in our efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation and in missile defense. We invite Russia to join NATO in developing a missile defense system that can protect all citizens of Europe and of Russia as well,” she said.

Russia’s ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, questioned how far such cooperation would go. “We would still like to understand whether the U.S. is really going to hold not only its own finger, but also that of its partners, on the button for using missile defense systems. I personally have very strong doubts about that,” he said Feb. 23 in an interview with Interfax.

U.S. missile defense plans for Europe are a long-standing concern for Russian officials, who say they fear the system could be used to intercept Russian long-range missiles aimed at the United States or even used to launch nuclear warheads at Russia. Gates told a press conference last September that the Russians “believed, despite our best efforts to dissuade them, that the ground-based interceptors in Poland could be fitted with nuclear weapons and become an offensive weapon…for which they would have virtually no warning time.” Russia’s new military doctrine, recently approved by President Dmitry Medvedev, identified U.S. missile defense as a major threat to Russian security, saying it “undermines strategic stability.” The document also underscored the continued expansion of NATO and its “assumption of global functions in violation of international law.”

Deployment Plans Set

Last September, the Obama administration shifted gears from Bush administration plans to deploy 10 long-range interceptors in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic, saying that it would instead deploy shorter-range interceptors against near-term missile threats from Iran and increase interceptor performance over time. (See ACT, October 2009.) According to the administration’s February 2010 Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Review and other sources, this “phased adaptive approach” for Europe includes deploying SM-3 Block IA interceptors, which have a top speed of 3 kilometers per second, on Aegis ships in the Mediterranean Sea and a radar in southern Europe next year. Tauscher told journalists Feb. 15 that the United States does not plan to deploy sea-based SM-3 missiles in the Black Sea, a prospect that Russia has opposed.

By 2015, about 20 land-based SM-3 Block IB interceptors, known as “Aegis-Ashore,” would be deployed in Romania with an improved “kill vehicle,” which is carried by the missile and seeks and collides with the target. By 2018 a second land-based site would be added in Poland with larger and faster (4.5 kilometers per second) SM-3 Block IIA missiles, which are in development and would also be deployed in Romania. The fourth phase, in 2020, would deploy at both sites another SM-3 upgrade, Block IIB, with an improved kill vehicle, which, according to the BMD Review, would have “some early-intercept capability against a long-range missile.”

“We are starting the four-phased approach to fielding a capability in Europe against the emerging Iranian threat, initially against the short- and medium-range threat that exists, and hence our initial emphasis will be on southeastern Europe,” David Altwegg, executive director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), told Pentagon reporters Feb. 1.

The initial SM-3 Block IA and IB deployments at sea and in Romania are not likely by themselves to cause Russia serious concern, according to experts, because these interceptors would not be effective against long-range missiles and, as a result, would not likely derail the ongoing START follow-on talks (see page 40). However, the 2018 and 2020 phases of the Obama administration’s plans, during which Block IIA and IIB SM-3 missiles would be deployed at sea and in Romania and Poland, do appear to give Russian leaders reason to worry and could create problems for the current and future U.S.-Russian nuclear arms reductions talks, sources say. Lavrov told Russia Today TV in October that the revised U.S. plans “would not create problems in its first phase, but we would like more details on further stages.”

Reflecting these concerns, Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak told the nuclear deterrence conference Feb. 17 that the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty “gave predictability” by limiting U.S. missile defense deployments. But with the Bush administration’s withdrawal from that treaty in 2002, “the environment has changed,” he said. “We are not sure that the story that we are hearing is the story that will develop within the time span of the would-be treaty, 10 years,” he said. To deal with this uncertainty, Russia may attach a unilateral declaration to the START follow-on stating that Moscow would withdraw if “strategic stability” was upset by U.S. missile defense deployments, The Cable reported Feb. 17.

In response to that possibility, Senators Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) sent a letter to national security adviser James Jones Feb. 17 warning that “[e]ven as a unilateral declaration, a provision like this would put pressure on the United States to limit its [missile defense] systems or their deployment because of Russian threats of withdrawal from the treaty.” Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.) countered that both sides are free to make unilateral declarations, which are routine and do not justify opposition to the agreement. “They can withdraw unilaterally for any reason, so I don’t know that that’s a good reason to object,” Levin told The Cable Feb. 23, adding, “The United States withdrew unilaterally from the ABM Treaty when we decided it was in our interest, right?”

In their letter, the three senators pledged to work with the administration to fund and deploy the European system, “most especially” the SM-3 Block IIB interceptor.

Funding Request

Meanwhile, the Obama administration’s fiscal year 2011 budget request, which was released Feb. 1, asked for about $10 billion for missile defense. That figure, which includes space-based sensors, is $2 billion less than in fiscal year 2009, when the funding was based on the Bush administration’s request, and $700 million more than in fiscal year 2010. More than $4.2 billion would go to the European system, including $1.5 billion for Aegis ballistic missile defense, $319 million for SM-3 Block IIA, $112 million for the Airborne Infrared Sensor, $94 million for 436 Aegis SM-3 Block IA and IB interceptors by 2015, $1.5 billion for three additional AN/TPY-2 radars (14 total), $455 million for BMD sensors, and $281 million for land-based SM-3, according to the MDA.

“We have shifted our emphasis from the ground-based defense against intercontinental ballistic missiles to the regional threat, short- and medium-range missiles, which comprise about 99 percent of the ballistic missile threat extant,” Altwegg said Feb. 1.

The Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system, which is meant to protect the United States from limited long-range missile attack from North Korea and Iran, would receive $1.3 billion in fiscal 2011, an increase of $317 million. According to the BMD Review, by the end of this year the United States will deploy 30 ground-based interceptors, with 26 at Fort Greely Army Base in Alaska, and four at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. This system can “counter the projected threats from North Korea and Iran for the foreseeable future,” according to the review. The Bush administration had planned to deploy 44 ground-based interceptors.

Meanwhile, a Jan. 31 flight test of the GMD system failed to intercept its target, which was designed to mimic an Iranian missile attack, according to the MDA. In the $150 million test, both the target missile, fired from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, and the interceptor, from Vandenberg, performed normally, the MDA said. “However, the Sea-Based X-band [SBX] radar did not perform as expected,” the agency said on its Web site Feb 1. Later the same day, Altwegg said, “I’m not exonerating the SBX, but I am not saying it was solely an SBX problem.” He said the results of a failure review would not be known for months.

It was the first time the United States had tested its long-range defense against a simulated Iranian attack. Previous drills have imitated a flight path from North Korea, another country locking horns with the international community over its nuclear program.

In a separate test, the Airborne Laser Testbed (ALTB) destroyed a boosting ballistic missile for the first time Feb. 11, the MDA announced. Carried by a Boeing 747 jumbo jet, the ALTB shot down a short-range ballistic missile that was launched from a sea-based mobile launch platform off Point Mugu on the central California coast. However, according to the BMD Review, this program has experienced repeated schedule delays and technical problems since its start in 1996; plans for a second plane were canceled, and the existing aircraft has been shifted to a technology demonstration program. (See ACT, July/August 2009.) Last April, Gates said that the Airborne Laser program “has significant affordability and technology problems and the program’s proposed operational role is highly questionable.” The Pentagon has no plans to revive the program after the recent test because it requires the military to “hover a 747 in enemy territory to shoot down a missile” and carries “an extraordinary cost,” Geoff Morrell, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters Feb 18.

The BMD Review said that, in the future, more emphasis would be placed on conducting realistic tests of interceptors and radars. The Bush administration was criticized repeatedly by Democrats and independent scientists for rushing the GMD system into deployment before it was fully tested and for staging tests that were not operationally realistic. In contrast, according to the review, “The [Obama] administration will take a different approach, best characterized as ‘fly before you buy.’”

 

 

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Posted: March 4, 2010

Ministers Urge NATO Nuclear Policy Review

The foreign ministers of five NATO countries last month called for a discussion of what the alliance can do to advance nuclear arms control and said “the inclusion of sub-strategic nuclear weapons in subsequent steps towards nuclear disarmament” should be part of the discussion.

Caitlin Taber and Daryl G. Kimball

The foreign ministers of five NATO countries last month called for a discussion of what the alliance can do to advance nuclear arms control and said “the inclusion of sub-strategic nuclear weapons in subsequent steps towards nuclear disarmament” should be part of the discussion.

Steven Vanackere of Belgium, Guido Westerwelle of Germany, Jean Asselborn of Luxembourg, Maxime Verhagen of the Netherlands, and Jonas Gahr Støre of Norway made the proposal in a Feb. 26 letter to NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. They said the NATO foreign ministers meeting next month in Tallinn, Estonia, provides “an opportunity to open a comprehensive discussion on these issues.” NATO’s “future policy requires the full support of all Allies,” they said.

The initiative follows several high-level calls for NATO to change its current nuclear sharing policy under which an estimated 150-250 U.S. nuclear gravity bombs are stationed in 87 aircraft shelters at six bases in five NATO countries.

Shortly after taking office, Germany’s coalition government said in an Oct. 24 statement that, in the context of upcoming talks on a new Strategic Concept for NATO, Berlin “will advocate a withdrawal of remaining nuclear weapons from Germany, both within NATO and vis-à-vis our American allies.” NATO states are scheduled to produce an updated Strategic Concept for the alliance by November.

Separately, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski called on the United States and Russia to achieve “early progress on steep reductions in sub-strategic nuclear weapons” in a Feb. 1 joint op-ed in The International Herald Tribune.

“We still face security challenges in the Europe of today and tomorrow, but from whichever angle you look, there is no role for the use of nuclear weapons in resolving these challenges,” Bildt and Sikorski wrote.

Russia is estimated to possess about 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons in various states of readiness. Moscow has indicated that its willingness to discuss the matter depends on the removal of U.S. tactical warheads from NATO bases in Europe. In January 2009, Hillary Rodham Clinton, then the secretary of state-designate, said the United States supports future nuclear arms talks with Russia addressing all types of nuclear weapons—deployed and nondeployed, strategic and nonstrategic.

At a Feb. 23 press briefing in Washington, U.S. Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder said, “This is a discussion we want to have with allies…. [I]t is not something that we want to do unilaterally, and we don’t want any other ally to move in a direction unilaterally to try to change the NATO nuclear discussion.”

 

 

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Posted: March 3, 2010

In Letter, Five Foreign Ministers Urge NATO to Discuss Tactical Nuclear Arms Cuts

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Foreign Ministers of five NATO member states called for discussion of what NATO can do to advance progress in nuclear arms control, including “sub-strategic nuclear weapons in subsequent steps towards nuclear disarmament” in a February 26 letter to NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

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Foreign Ministers of five NATO member states called for discussion of what NATO can do to advance progress in nuclear arms control, including “sub-strategic nuclear weapons in subsequent steps towards nuclear disarmament” in a February 26 letter (PDF) to NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

The letter from the Steven Vanackere of Belgium, Guido Westerwelle of Germany, Jean Asselborn of Luxembourg, Maxime Verhagen of the Netherlands, and Jonas Gahr Store of Norway calls for discussions on NATO’s nuclear policy at the April meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Tallinn and call for an approach that has “the full support of all Allies.”

There are an estimated 150-250 U.S. nuclear gravity bombs in 87 aircraft shelters at six bases in five NATO countries. For more, see < http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2009_12/GermanNuclearStance >.

Posted: February 26, 2010

Russia Drafts European Security Pact

A Russian proposal for a new European security treaty has drawn support from some former Soviet states, but Western government leaders and others have reacted coolly to the plan.

The text of the draft treaty was published Nov. 29 on the Kremlin’s official Web site, which said the pact would “finally do away with the Cold War legacy.”

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sent the draft to the heads of state and international organizations in the Euro-Atlantic region. The proposal came ahead of the Dec. 1-2 ministerial council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Athens, as well as the first meeting of the NATO-Russia Council since the 2008 Georgian-Russian war. Russia had initially threatened to cancel the NATO meeting over what it said was the alliance’s refusal to consider the draft.

Volha Charnysh

A Russian proposal for a new European security treaty has drawn support from some former Soviet states, but Western government leaders and others have reacted coolly to the plan.

The text of the draft treaty was published Nov. 29 on the Kremlin’s official Web site, which said the pact would “finally do away with the Cold War legacy.”

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sent the draft to the heads of state and international organizations in the Euro-Atlantic region. The proposal came ahead of the Dec. 1-2 ministerial council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Athens, as well as the first meeting of the NATO-Russia Council since the 2008 Georgian-Russian war. Russia had initially threatened to cancel the NATO meeting over what it said was the alliance’s refusal to consider the draft.

Speaking on Russian television Dec. 1, Russian Ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said some alliance members were trying to block Moscow’s proposals. The proposals are “suffering from Cold War psychology,” he said. He warned that making decisions “without taking Russia’s interests and opinions into account won’t work.”

At the OSCE meeting, several delegates agreed on the need to improve European security, but few mentioned the Russian proposal. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Dec. 17 the alliance was prepared to discuss the draft but he saw no need for a new agreement. He noted that a security framework already existed in the form of the NATO-Russia Founding Act of 1997, the Charter for European Security of 1999, and the Rome Declaration of 2002.

In the statement on its Web site, the Kremlin said the new European security treaty would be based on the principle that no nation or organization is “entitled to strengthen its own security at the cost of other nations or organizations.” The draft would enable signatories to object to actions by others and call a summit if they considered their security under threat.

According to Article 2 of the draft, parties to the treaty would have to ensure that decisions within the framework of organizations and alliances to which they belong “do not affect significantly security of any Party or Parties to the Treaty” and do not conflict with the new treaty, international law, or decisions of the UN Security Council. Article 3 of the draft treaty says that the parties are entitled to request “information on any significant legislative, administrative or organizational measures” taken by another party if the measures “in the opinion of the Requesting Party, might affect its security.”

Using language that is somewhat similar to the NATO treaty’s, the proposed treaty says that a party would be “entitled to consider an armed attack against any other party an armed attack against itself,” although the parties are not obligated to respond to attacks on fellow members. The draft calls for the UN Security Council, in which Russia holds veto power, to “bear primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security.”

The treaty would be open for signature by states “from Vancouver to Vladivostok,” as well as by NATO, the European Union, the OSCE, and the Moscow-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, which all are members of the CSTO, expressed support for the Russian initiative in a joint statement with Russia issued two weeks before the meeting.

Rasmussen said the OSCE was the most appropriate forum to discuss the draft treaty. In his statement at the OSCE meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the initiative was “designed to harness the potential of States and international organizations to create a truly indivisible space of equal security for all the States of the Euro-Atlantic region.”

Questions Raised

Speaking at the OSCE meeting Dec. 1, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said the Russian proposal omitted the issues of arms control, human rights, and the Georgian-Russian conflict. His comments were seconded by Ian Cliff Obe, head of the British delegation, who also stressed the need for “a resolution of the crisis” of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty. Russia suspended its implementation of the treaty in December 2007. (See ACT, January/February 2008.)

At the OSCE meeting, Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze questioned “the need to redraft” European security “in accordance to the whims of one revisionist power.”

U.S. Department of State spokesman Ian Kelly said Dec. 1 that Washington was studying Medvedev’s draft “carefully.” Any proposal “must build on the existing body of commitments” and structures such as the OSCE and NATO, which “have helped to ensure security in Europe,” he said.

The draft comes 18 months after Medvedev first raised the issue of European security at a June 2008 meeting in Berlin, saying “Europe’s problems won’t be solved until its unity is established, an organic wholeness of all its integral parts, including Russia.” NATO later suspended all joint activities with Moscow in response to Russia’s conflict with Georgia.

Medvedev, Lavrov, and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin have continued to reiterate the need for a new security framework. In an April 20 speech at HelsinkiUniversity, Medvedev said the draft should be seen as a “Helsinki plus” treaty, “born out of the Helsinki process, but adapted to the end of ideological confrontation and the emergence of new subjects of international law.” The Helsinki Accords, signed by 35 countries, were the final act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe in 1975.

According to the State Department’s Web site, that treaty “had a far-reaching effect on the Cold War and U.S.-Soviet relations.” The Helsinki process, which included review meetings, “led to greater cooperation between Eastern and Western Europe,” according to the Web site.

Experts See Problems

In a Dec. 23 interview, Steven Pifer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, described the draft treaty as “very ambiguous.” It is unclear what actions would be considered under Article 2 to have a significant effect on a party’s security, he said. Moscow would probably see NATO enlargement as one such action, while NATO would not accept the notion of a Russian say over alliance decisions, he said. If the Russian draft were accepted without changes, it would trigger “dozens of disputes as to meaning,” Pifer said.

Differences of opinion would arise not just between Russia and the West, but also between Russia and Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Azerbaijan, and others, Pifer said. But the West likely “won’t say no” to dialogue and “even in Washington there is agreement that you cannot just ignore Russia on this question,” he said.

Pifer suggested the West should consider how it could turn the Russian proposal to the advantage of Western interests. “If the West were clever, for example, it might tie its readiness to discuss the Russian proposal” to solving the impasse on the CFE Treaty or at least a restoration of the treaty’s transparency and confidence-building measures, Pifer added.

David J. Kramer, senior transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund, described the Russian proposal as “anticlimactic” in a Dec. 17 interview. Kramer, a former deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs and later assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor, said the main problem with the Russian proposal was that Moscow would be itself violating it. He pointed to Russia’s suspension of the CFE Treaty and invasion of Georgia and said that energy cutoffs, cyberattacks, and export bans affected security in the region as much as military actions. Russia’s attempts to produce disagreements between Western allies will not work, he said.

Gary J. Schmitt, a resident scholar and director of advanced strategic studies at the American Enterprise Institute and former staff director of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a Dec. 16 e-mail that the draft treaty would have committed the United States and its allies to avoiding any new ties to states that Moscow considers to be in its sphere of influence. According to Schmitt, the proposal is “especially problematic in light of recent Russian behavior in occupied Georgia, in the recent military exercises aimed at Poland, in the new laws passed by the Duma authorizing military interventions to protect Russians and Russian-speaking peoples in surrounding states, and in the new authorities the Russian president is seeking enabling him to use the Russian military on his own authority.”

When Lavrov presented the draft treaty Dec. 4 at the NATO-Russia Council meeting in Brussels, he also tabled a working paper proposing an agreement between Russia and NATO not to station military infrastructure in the alliance’s new member states in eastern Europe, according to The Moscow Times. Most of those states, which have joined in three waves of enlargement since 1999, are former Warsaw Pact or Soviet countries.

The draft treaty was released as Kazakhstan was about to assume chairmanship of the OSCE Jan. 1. The Kazakh government will be in charge of preparing a 2010 OSCE security summit, which could become a forum for discussing Medvedev’s initiative. Kazakhstan fully supports Russia’s proposal, Kairat Abusseitov, Kazakhstan’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, said Dec. 9. “This is one of the priority tasks of our chairmanship, to try to work to ensure that talks are launched on the important theme of a new security architecture and to ensure that they produce results,” he said. He made the comments at a London conference, “Towards a New European Security Architecture?”

 

 

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Posted: January 13, 2010

German Nuclear Stance Stirs Debate

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

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

Oliver Meier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Domestic Discussions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Negotiating With the Russians?

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

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

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

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

NATO Reactions

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

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

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

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

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

Allied Reactions

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

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

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

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

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

Notes of Caution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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