"In my home there are few publications that we actually get hard copies of, but [Arms Control Today] is one and it's the only one my husband and I fight over who gets to read it first."

– Suzanne DiMaggio
Senior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
April 15, 2019
European Security

To Russia, With Love?

By Greg Thielmann Last week's 20th anniversary commemorations of the 1991 Soviet coup attempt prompted some personal reflections on other events affecting relations between Washington and Moscow during that turbulent period. Two years before the coup, a visit by U.S. warships to the Soviet Black Sea Fleet's home port of Sevastopol made a significant contribution to thawing Cold War animosities. At that time, the Associated Press reported a "riotous welcome" from the citizens of that closed Crimean city, a characterization I can attest to as a U.S. Embassy officer witnessing the event. USS...

Original Nuclear Weapons States Need to Walk the Walk and Fulfill Their NPT Disarmament and Nonproliferation Commitments

By Daryl G. Kimball and Peter Crail This week's meeting of senior officials from the five original nuclear weapon states (the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China) in Paris for the second meeting on nuclear weapons policy issues is a potentially important step toward multilateralizing the nuclear disarmament enterprise. Their joint press statement (full text below) released today by the so-called "P5,"reaffirms the importance of the 64-point Action Plan approved at the 2010 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference and specifically Action 5, which...

Germany Opposes United States on China-Pakistan Nuclear Deal

By Oliver Meier in Berlin The German government believes that Chinese plans to export two nuclear reactors to Pakistan are covered by the existing policies and understandings of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and that the 46-nation export control organization should not even discuss the deal at its meeting this week in the Netherlands. In response to a set of questions asked by opposition Social Democrat members of the German Bundestag on Germany's nuclear export control policies, the government explained that it views the planned export of the Chashma 3 and 4 nuclear reactors to Pakistan...

UK Takes Initial Steps to Replace Trident

Robert Golan-Vilella

The United Kingdom has approved the preliminary investment in its next generation of Trident nuclear submarines and selected a design for the submarines, British Defence Secretary Liam Fox told the House of Commons last month.

This “initial gate” investment represents the first of two decisions that must be made for the replacement to go forward. The second (“main gate”) decision to begin constructing the submarines is scheduled for 2016, as the British government outlined in its strategic defense review last October. (See ACT, November 2010.)

In a May 18 speech, Fox said the new fleet of submarines “will be powered by a new generation of nuclear propulsion system,” which “will allow our submarines to deliver our nuclear deterrent capability well into the 2060s if required.” The government also agreed on the outline of the submarine’s design and the amount of material and parts that will need to be purchased prior to the main gate decision, he added.

Fox explained the United Kingdom’s continued need for a nuclear capability by saying that “we cannot dismiss the possibility that a major direct nuclear threat to the U.K. might re-emerge.” In remarks to the House of Commons that same day, British Prime Minister David Cameron called London’s nuclear weapons “the ultimate insurance policy against blackmail or attack by other countries.” The United Kingdom’s entire nuclear arsenal of fewer than 160 operational nuclear warheads is deployed aboard four submarines armed with Trident ballistic missiles; this number is slated to fall to no more than 120 by the mid-2020s.

In advance of the main gate decision, the government will conduct a review of “the costs, feasibility, and credibility of alternative systems and postures” to the proposed replacement plan, Fox said. The review is to be led by Nick Harvey, the minister of state for the armed forces and a member of the Liberal Democrats.

The Liberal Democrats, the Conservative Party’s partners in the coalition government that assumed power last year, generally oppose the current plan and favor greater steps toward nuclear disarmament. In contrast to the current plan of maintaining “continuous at-sea deterrence” based on submarine-launched ballistic missiles, the review will consider options such as putting nuclear warheads on cruise missiles, Harvey told the Financial Times May 24. This would be cheaper and could provide a future government with more flexibility, Harvey said.

Fox estimated the cost of the submarine replacement to be 20-25 billion pounds ($33-41 billion), of which approximately 3 billion pounds is scheduled to be spent before 2016.


The United Kingdom approved the initial investment in its next generation of nuclear submarines and chose a design for the new fleet.

Reducing the Role of Tactical Nuclear Weapons in Europe: Perspectives and Proposals on the NATO Policy Debate

Edited by Paul Ingram and Oliver Meier

NATO Posture Review Takes Shape

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.


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.

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.


Vienna Document 1999

August 2010

Contact: Jeff AbramsonNon-Resident Senior Fellow for Arms Control and Conventional Arms Transfers, [email protected]

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.


Number of Submitted Reports (General Considerations)[6]


Not Available











Number of Submitted Reports (Defense Planning)











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]


Number of Evaluation Visits [12]









Number of Countries Hosting Evaluation Visits


Not Available







Number of Inspection Visits







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:

Trident: Alternatives and potential cost cutting?

Are there viable alternatives? By ACA Intern Daniel Salisbury The costs of the British Trident nuclear deterrent have emerged as an issue in British politics; with HM Treasury looking to cut costs and the Ministry of Defence insisting that cuts are unnecessary. While the current plan for a "like-for-like" renewal of the system was passed in 2007, the British government could choose to make more aggressive cuts to the program. Two pieces highlight the range of options facing the British government. In " Continuous at-Sea Deterrence: Costs and Alternatives ," Malcolm Chalmers of the Royal...

UK Strategic Defense and Security Review Avoids the Main Strategic Question

HMS Vanguard, one of four Royal Navy SSBN vessels By ACA intern Daniel Salisbury The U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has been ruffling feathers in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in recent weeks. He has ruled that Trident, the U.K. nuclear deterrent , will now be paid for by the MoD and not a special Treasury fund. This is putting the already strained MoD budget under even more pressure. The Financial Times reports that he made the following comment when questioned during his recent India trip: "All budgets have pressure. I don't think there's anything particularly unique about...


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