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European Security

News Analysis: An End to U.S. Tactical Nuclear Weapons in Europe?

Oliver Meier

NATO’s policy of basing U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in several European countries has lasted long after the end of the Cold War, despite increasing pressure from parliamentarians, disarmament advocates, and public opinion. Now, a more mundane yet more tangible force may now tip the balance against the status quo: money. Public statements from and interviews with government officials and experts in Europe indicate that European governments may not be willing to make the investments in a new generation of nuclear-capable aircraft or participate in relevant technology sharing that would be needed to sustain the policy.

Nuclear sharing was developed during the Cold War to deepen U.S.-European military ties and to create a forum where Europe could have a say in Washington’s nuclear policies. As the Cold War ended, about 4,000 U.S. tactical nuclear weapons remained on European soil, intended to offset Soviet conventional and nuclear forces. In a series of bilateral understandings with the Soviet Union and then with Russia in the early 1990s, President George H. W. Bush sharply reduced that number. Today, an estimated 480 B-61 gravity bombs remain deployed in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, which also possesses its own nuclear arsenal. Of these weapons, 180 are assigned for use by the five non-nuclear-weapon states. These weapons remain under U.S. custody during peacetime but can be released to U.S. allies for delivery in times of war.

U.S. and European officials readily acknowledge that they have held on to the weapons for predominantly political rather than military reasons. In its 1999 Strategic Concept, NATO implied that improved relations with Russia meant that the weapons’ military purpose had largely ended, but called for retaining the weapons as a means of shoring up the political solidarity of the alliance. U.S. and European officials have also seen the weapons as a potential bargaining chip to encourage Russia to part with its own much larger arsenal of such weapons, variously estimated at about 3,000 deployed operational warheads.

But the status quo is imperiled by the aging of NATO’s nuclear-capable fighter fleet. Over the next several years, a number of European NATO members involved in nuclear sharing arrangements have to decide whether to replace aging fighter aircraft capable of delivering nuclear weapons, commonly known as “dual-capable aircraft.” Amid budget pressures and growing public concern, some key groups are beginning to balk. These concerns come as NATO is expected to update the 1999 Strategic Concept, including a possible revision of its nuclear doctrine.

German Disagreements

Discussion of the issue is the most highly charged in Germany, which hosts an estimated 150 U.S. nuclear weapons. Germany relies exclusively on Tornado PA-200 aircraft to deliver U.S. nuclear weapons. The Tornado entered service in the early 1980s and had been expected to be phased out over the next 15 years. Nuclear-capable Tornados are deployed at Büchel Air Base, along with an estimated 20 B-61 bombs. Germany had been expected to begin retiring them as early as 2012.

The Tornados are to be replaced by the Eurofighter (Typhoon), a multinational aircraft built jointly by Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. But the German government in July 2004 told parliament—the Bundestag—that it does not intend to certify the Eurofighter to carry nuclear weapons. Such certification would require Germany and its partners to grant the United States access to Eurofighter technology, which Europeans are reluctant to do because they fear the loss of commercial proprietary information.

Berlin is looking for a way to delay making a decision. In February, the government stated that it might keep some Tornados beyond the expected end of their service life in 2020. The only clear purpose for such a move would be to preserve the ability of the German air force to deploy U.S. nuclear weapons.

Nevertheless, there is concern within NATO about Germany’s long-term commitment to nuclear sharing. A senior NATO official told Arms Control Today June 2 that a decision by the German government to “extend the life of the Tornado would only delay and not solve the issue.”

Such fears are heightened by growing pressure from the Bundestag. Since April 2005, all three opposition parties in the Bundestag—the liberal Free Democrats, the left-of-center Green Party and the socialist Left Party—have introduced resolutions calling for a complete end to Germany’s involvement in nuclear sharing and a withdrawal of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons from German territory.

This year, the debate also is taking place within the government. When the draft of a new Defense White Paper was released to the Bundestag this spring, an unprecedented dispute about German support for NATO’s nuclear doctrine erupted between center-left Social Democrats and conservative Christian Democrats, which together form the governing “Grand Coalition.”

The draft, which was leaked to a German internet site (www.geopowers.com), states that nuclear deterrence will remain necessary to deter hostile states possessing nuclear weapons, including states with a fundamentalist ideology. Echoing earlier NATO language, the draft goes on to argue that “the common commitment of Alliance partners to war prevention, the credible demonstration of Alliance solidarity and nuclear posture require also in the future German participation in nuclear tasks.” The text specifies that this includes “the deployment of allied nuclear forces on German soil, participation in consultations, planning and providing means of delivery.”

This language was immediately and publicly rejected by the Social Democrats and, along with a subsequent position paper, made clear that for the first time that a governing party in Germany was calling for withdrawing from NATO nuclear sharing. The position paper, written by Social Democratic members of the Bundestag’s Defense Committee, categorically states that Social Democrats are “not willing to provide new means of delivery” once the Tornado has reached the end of its service life “in a few years.” Then, Germany’s participation in “tactical nuclear sharing” should end, the Social Democrats demand.

Rolf Mützenich, the Social Democrats’ spokesperson for arms control, told Arms Control Today June 13 that this means that Germany would no longer provide aircraft or personnel to participate in NATO nuclear sharing. Mützenich cautioned that “as long as these weapons exist,” Germany should stay involved in the “strategic operative” aspects of nuclear sharing, namely, it should continue to participate in alliance consultations and decision-making on nuclear doctrine. As a NATO member state, Germany is eligible to participate in nuclear deliberations—in the Nuclear Planning Group for example—even if it does not host nuclear weapons. Mützenich emphasized that as far as he is concerned, Germany’s participation in nuclear sharing should end “as early as possible” before 2012. He called on the German government to closely consult with partners and allies in order to initiate an open debate within NATO on the role of nuclear weapons in today’s world. “In the long-term, nuclear weapons should be abolished altogether. As long as that is not achievable, NATO should renounce the first use of nuclear weapons,” Mützenich said.

Christian Democrats are now the only party in the Bundestag that supports the deployment of U.S. nuclear weapons in Germany and NATO’s nuclear posture. Responding June 9 to questions from Arms Control Today, Christian Democrats defense spokesperson Bernd Siebert rejected the idea of basing a decision on Germany’s future involvement in nuclear sharing on the phasing out of the Tornado. “Instead, it should be a political judgment whether nuclear sharing is still up to date or not.” According to Siebert, the Christian Democrats support Germany’s involvement in nuclear sharing as an insurance against unforeseeable risks and because it “guarantees political influence on the use or nonuse of nuclear weapons.” Siebert said he sees no necessity “to fundamentally call into question NATO’s current strategy.”

The white paper draft was prepared by the Defense Ministry, which is headed by Christian Democrat Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung, and is currently being reviewed by the Foreign Ministry, which is headed by Social Democrat Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier. Discussions on Germany’s future involvement in nuclear sharing are expected to continue when the next draft is debated in the Bundestag.

Italian Uncertainties

Germany is not the only one of the nuclear-sharing participants to have doubts. A new government in Italy is also raising concerns.

Italy’s past Conservative government of Silvio Berlusconi had committed Rome to purchasing both the Eurofighter as well as its competitor, the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), with the JSF taking over the Tornado’s nuclear missions. The JSF, also known as the F-35, is a $35 billion multinational program led by the United States. Partners include the nuclear-sharing countries of Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

But the new center-left government of Prime Minister Romani Prodi, elected in April, has called into question Italy’s commitment to the JSF. Should Italy decide to opt out of the program, the country would be left only with the non-nuclear Eurofighter.

According to a April 17 Defense News report, Giovanni Urbani, aerospace spokesperson for the Democratic Left, which is part of Italy’s governing coalition, proposed on April 11 that Italy “pull out of acquiring the JSF and look at the third-tranche Eurofighter instead, thus boosting a European production line.” New Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema told Reuters on May 21 that “a politics of disarmament must be relaunched, one that invites reflection on part of the great powers, starting with the United States.” Further, Francesco Martone, head of the Rifondazione Comunista-European Left in the Foreign Affairs committee of the Italian Senate, told Arms Control Today June 12 that the new government “should cancel Italian participation in the JSF.” Martone, says that Italy should initiate discussions on nuclear sharing “with a view to free our country from nuclear weapons.” Martone, whose party is part of Italy’s governing coalition, is preparing a bill that proposes to reinvest Italy’s share in the JSF in development aid.

Some in NATO, however, believe that the new Italian government will eventually support the JSF, if only to avoid hefty financial penalties for opting out.

The Bomber Gap

Italy is not the only country to raise questions about whether and how it might go forward with the U.S. fighter. Delays, cost overruns, and disagreements between the United States and its allies about access to JSF technology continue to plague the program. Unless these are resolved soon, Turkey and the Netherlands might not have nuclear-capable aircraft when their current fleet of F-16s starts reaching the end of its service life as early as 2009.

Under current plans, a nuclear-capable variant of the JSF is slated to enter into service in 2012 or later when a fourth version of the fighter could start to roll off production lines. But no JSF partner country has yet committed to buying this series of JSFs. Thus, there is a real possibility that Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey might not be able to deploy dual-capable aircraft for several years, removing these countries’ ability to participate in nuclear sharing.

Some in NATO fear that politicians in member states might put off deciding whether to buy nuclear-capable aircraft until NATO is forced to alter its nuclear posture to accommodate technological and financial realities. “I think politicians will delay making a decision as long as possible. I don’t anticipate any serious discussions on this issue until the 2008-09 time frame,” the senior NATO official said. By that time, it might be too late for some countries to have a smooth transition from nuclear-capable Tornados or F-16s to a follow-on aircraft.

Parliamentarians in the Netherlands and Turkey as well as Belgium have called for debates about their governments’ support for NATO’s nuclear weapons policy. This raises further questions about the ability of governments to make the financial pledges necessary to secure long-term involvement of their countries in nuclear sharing.

For the time being, the Netherlands remains committed to the JSF. However, the Dutch government resigned June 30 and the largest Dutch opposition party opposes involvement in the program. It has vowed to cancel agreements should it become part of a new government after parliamentary elections expected in October. The NIS News Bulletin May 3 quoted Labour Party (PvdA) member of parliament Luuk Blom as predicting that “not a single JSF will be bought under [a] PvdA government. It is to be a firm issue in our election program.” The Dutch Defense Ministry is expected to sign an agreement with the United States at the end of this year governing the production, maintenance, and continued development of the JSF.

Turkey has not committed firmly to buying either the Eurofighter or the JSF. Ankara may decide by the end of 2006 how it will spend $10 billion it has earmarked to buy 100 new-generation combat aircraft. Turkey is already a member of the JSF consortium but may end up buying some Eurofighters as well. According to a June 19 report in the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, the Turkish Parliament on June 12 discussed the presence of an estimated 90 U.S. nuclear weapons at the U.S. air force base in Incirlik. Sukru Elekdag, a member of parliament and a former ambassador to the United States, who initiated the debate, noted that the United States had already withdrawn nuclear weapons formerly deployed in Turkey’s rival, Greece. Moreover, Elekdag stated that it would be difficult to explain the continued presence of U.S. nuclear weapons on Turkish territory to its Muslim and Arab neighbors.

Belgium has sidestepped the issue by investing in a life-extension program for its F-16s, which is expected to keep its fleet flying for another 15 years. But Brussels has rejected an invitation to join the JSF program as a partner, and there appears to be no rush to take a decision on a follow-on model for Belgian F-16s before 2008-2010, in particular with general elections taking place next year. In April 2005, the Belgian Senate unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Belgian government to take an initiative in NATO to review its nuclear doctrine and to initiate the gradual withdrawal of U.S. tactical nuclear from Belgian territory. (See ACT, May 2005.)

A New Nuclear Policy for NATO?

This November’s NATO summit in Riga, Latvia, is also likely to duck the issue of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. The senior NATO official complained that “there are currently no discussions on NATO nuclear policy within NATO” and that “this is not on anybody’s plate.” At most, NATO heads of state and governments are expected to launch a review of the Strategic Concept.

That there is currently no movement to adapt NATO’s nuclear posture was confirmed June 8 when NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels reaffirmed that NATO continues “to place great value on the nuclear forces based in Europe and committed to NATO, which provide an essential political and military link between European and North American members of the Alliance.”

NATO leaders this fall are unlikely to consider changing their 1999 Strategic Concept, which states that “solidarity and common commitment to war prevention continue to require widespread participation by European Allies involved in collective defence planning in nuclear roles, in peacetime basing of nuclear forces on their territory and in command, control and consultation arrangements.” Instead, they are likely to approve a so-called Comprehensive Political Guidance. This document, which was agreed on last year but has not yet been published, apparently confirms NATO’s current nuclear posture.

There is, however, much talk in NATO about a new Strategic Concept to be agreed at a possible NATO summit in 2009, which marks NATO’s 60th birthday and the 10th anniversary of NATO’s current Strategic Concept. Robert Bell, who was NATO’s assistant secretary-general from 1999 to 2003 and previously served as a senior arms control official on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration, told Arms Control Today June 13 that it is not clear that NATO will decide to update the Strategic Concept. If it does, “there is no guarantee” that the issue of dual-capable aircraft will be debated, he added.

Bell detects little willingness within NATO or among member states to change the alliance’s current nuclear doctrine and believes that the responsibility for taking the initiative on nuclear sharing rests with Washington. “Were this or were a new administration to decide to end the program, I do not believe the participating NATO allies would seriously try to stop it,” Bell said.

Indeed, some in the Pentagon favor ending nuclear sharing. A February 2004 report by the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board recommended that the secretary of defense “consider eliminating the nuclear role for Tomahawk cruise missiles and for forward-based, tactical, dual-capable aircraft” because “there is no obvious need for these systems, and eliminating the nuclear role would free resources that could be used to fund strategic strike programs of higher priority.”

In an October 2005 interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had indicated a willingness to leave the future of NATO nuclear deployments up to Europeans. Rumsfeld noted that it is up “to the Germans and to NATO” to pass judgment on the purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons on German soil. “Some countries in Europe made the decision to allow them to be on the continent. It was seen to be in their interest and is still seen that way today as it persists. So one would assume it continues being in their interest,” Rumsfeld said.

Nevertheless, the current timetable means member states participating in nuclear sharing may need to make a decision on whether to purchase dual-capable aircraft before a new nuclear doctrine is in place. Thus, they could end up buying aircraft with a nuclear capability that in the long run may not be needed.

One means under consideration of guarding against this possibility and also deflecting public criticism of NATO’s nuclear posture would be to withdraw U.S. nuclear weapons from Europe but leave the technical and physical infrastructure associated with nuclear sharing in place so that the weapons could be redeployed swiftly if and when NATO considers such a move necessary. A withdrawal of all deployed B-61 bombs would not affect readiness because NATO has already slowed response times of U.S. nuclear forces deployed in Europe from days to months. Member states participating in nuclear sharing would still need to provide dual-capable aircraft, although perhaps in reduced numbers. The air forces of these countries would continue to train for nuclear missions by using a “Realistic Weapons Trainer” and dummy weapons. Fifty-four new trainers were delivered to Europe as recently as February 2004.

From NATO’s perspective, such an arrangement of “virtual” nuclear sharing might have a number of technical and political disadvantages. NATO member states may be reluctant to redeploy nuclear weapons in times of crisis for fear of sending a wrong, escalatory signal. The United States currently deploys specially trained Munitions Support Squadrons of approximately 125-150 soldiers each at every base where U.S. nuclear weapons are stored. These units would either have to remain stationed at bases where nuclear weapons could be redeployed or kept on standby in the United States for possible relocation in Europe. Both are expensive options and may be difficult to justify, given how unlikely it is that NATO nuclear weapons would ever actually be used. There is also a fear at NATO headquarters in Brussels and national defense ministries that NATO’s nuclear policy may over time fade into irrelevance if the real weapons are withdrawn.

Further, advocates of a denuclearized NATO are likely to criticize virtual nuclear sharing as half-hearted and insufficient from a disarmament perspective. Such a move would not enable NATO to reap the arms control benefits associated with a complete termination of nuclear sharing. Thus, Russia may continue to argue that NATO’s nuclear policy continues to stand in the way of a broader agreement on tactical nuclear weapons.

Bell does not believe that there are realistic alternatives to current sharing arrangements and predicts that the current “model will remain until the NATO [tactical nuclear force] comes out altogether and for good.”

Public Opinion

Ultimately, European publics may have the last word. Public pressure on NATO to revise its nuclear policy is growing. A May survey commissioned by Greenpeace on the question of nuclear weapons deployments revealed that almost two-thirds of the populations in those countries (aside from Turkey) that host U.S. B-61 bombs want Europe to be free of nuclear weapons. Anti-nuclear sentiments were strongest in Italy and Germany (71.5 percent and 70.5 percent, respectively) and weakest in the United Kingdom (55.7 percent). The survey also made clear that more, than 15 years after the end of the Cold War, about 60 percent of the people in Belgium, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands are unaware that U.S. nuclear weapons continue to be deployed in their countries.


Brown Supports Continuing UK Nuclear Weapons Program

Gordon Brown, the heir apparent to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, announced his support for developing a successor to the United Kingdom’s strategic submarine fleet June 21. Brown’s support for the program, which could cost as much as $45 billion (see ACT, April 2006), came despite significant public and parliamentary opposition—including within the governing Labour party—to the move.

“In an insecure world we must and always will have the strength to take all necessary measures fro stability and security,” Brown said. The United Kingdom currently deploys 58 U.S.-supplied Trident D5 missiles with up to 200 warheads.



Posted: July 1, 2006

Plans for Missile Defenses in Europe Unsettled

Wade Boese

U.S. plans for establishing a strategic ballistic missile defense base in Europe remain unsettled, but Russian officials are sharpening their criticism of the proposal. Meanwhile, leaders of the 26-member NATO alliance will soon begin weighing options for proceeding with missile defenses in Europe.

The Bush administration has installed nine long-range missile interceptors at Fort Greely, Alaska, and another two at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. A version of the deployed interceptors, which are to hone in on and collide with an enemy warhead in space, has yet to be tested against a target in flight. The first test of this type might occur as early as August.

The Pentagon revealed in 2004 its intentions to expand long-range interceptor deployments to Europe to defend against possible ballistic missile launches from the Middle East. (See ACT, July/August 2004.) Although Missile Defense Agency (MDA) Director Lieutenant General Henry Obering told reporters March 20 that the United States would like to begin work on the project in 2007, no plans have yet been finalized.

MDA spokesperson Rick Lehner told Arms Control Today June 14 that the possible hosts for a base of 10 interceptors have been narrowed to the Czech Republic or Poland because of their location and expressed interest. “Consultations are continuing” with the prospective hosts, according to Pentagon spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Karen Finn in a June 16 interview with Arms Control Today, but she declined to elaborate. The Pentagon’s office of international security policy is heading the talks on the U.S. side.

Marek Purowski, a spokesperson for the Polish embassy in Washington, also told Arms Control Today June 14 that the talks were ongoing but that no decisions had been made. He said many technical details, such as who will control the interceptor’s operation, still needed to be worked out.

Some U.S. lawmakers are also balking at funding the site. As part of its fiscal year 2007 budget request submitted to Congress in February, the administration asked for almost $56 million to begin construction of the European site and for an additional $63 million to begin manufacturing the proposed base’s 10 interceptors. In a defense appropriations bill passed June 20, the House of Representatives zeroed out the base construction and interceptor funds.

The Senate has yet to approve a defense appropriations bill, so the ultimate status of the funding request remains uncertain. Both chambers each pass an appropriations bill, and then they work out the differences between the two before sending a final version to the president.

Russian leaders, however, are not waiting on the U.S. budget process to register their opposition to the proposed missile defense base. Speaking June 7 to the Duma, the lower house of Russia’s legislature, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov criticized the base as one that over time might be used to intercept Russian missiles or secretly house offensive ballistic missiles. “The danger also arises of the use of the planned anti-missile defense silo launchers for clandestine deployment of ballistic missiles,” Lavrov stated.

Lehner dismissed such a possibility. He said the base would have “no offensive capability whatsoever” and interceptors and ballistic missiles have “entirely different configurations for silos.”

Moscow is not alone in presuming that a European-based U.S. missile defense site, in some form, will one day be a reality. A 10,000-page study recently completed by NATO postulates that the most efficient way for building a missile defense architecture in Europe is to use the proposed U.S. site as one of the initial building blocks, according to a NATO official familiar with the study interviewed June 14 by Arms Control Today.

Initially requested in 2002 and officially completed May 10, the “NATO Missile Defense Feasibility Study” concluded that building an anti-missile system to protect all members’ territories was technically feasible and outlined various options for achieving that goal. The NATO official said alliance military planners must now “await political guidance” on which options, if any, to pursue.

The study will be presented to NATO leaders at the alliance’s heads of state summit November 28-29 in Riga, Latvia. If the leaders determine that proceeding with missile defenses is “desirable,” the official said the next step for the alliance will be to define the specific architecture.


Posted: July 1, 2006

European Conventional Arms Treaty in Limbo

Wade Boese

Nearly seven years ago, 30 countries agreed on a revised set of European conventional arms limits to replace caps originally negotiated when the Soviet Union existed and Europe was divided into two hostile military blocs. Yet, the outdated limits remain in effect as NATO and Russia continue to quarrel over the necessary actions for bringing the new limits into force.

The latest NATO-Russian clash occurred May 30-June 2 in Vienna at the third review conference of the 1990 Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty. This accord establishes equal caps, as well as deployment zone limits, on the battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, heavy artillery, combat aircraft, and attack helicopters that NATO and the now-defunct Warsaw Pact could station between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ural Mountains. In November 1999, the 30 CFE states-parties concluded an adapted CFE Treaty that essentially replaced the bloc and zone limits with weapons ceilings for each country. (See ACT, November 1999.)

But the original agreement will remain in force until all 30 CFE states-parties ratify the adapted version. To date, only Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine have done so. Led by the United States, NATO countries are postponing ratification until Russia fulfills 1999 commitments to withdraw its armed forces from Georgia and Moldova.

At the recent review conference, Russia complained bitterly about NATO’s inaction and offered a plan for bringing the adapted treaty into force before the end of 2007. It also suggested that the states-parties provisionally apply the revised agreement’s terms starting Oct. 1.

Moscow is eager for the adapted agreement to enter into force because it provides Russia with greater flexibility on where it stations its armed forces within its territory and contains a provision for adding countries to the regime and having them be bound by arms limits. Russia charges that NATO might deploy large amounts of weaponry in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—three NATO members that share borders with Russia and are not parties to the original CFE Treaty, which contains no accession option.

Joined by Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, NATO members rejected Russia’s proposals, insisting that Moscow must first end its military deployments in Georgia and Moldova. The conference ended in acrimony and without consensus agreement on a final document.

In a June 5 statement after the conference, the Kremlin denounced NATO’s position on Georgia and Moldova as “false and unfounded.” It further declared that the current CFE limits “had largely become obsolete and lost contact with reality” and stated Russia would conduct a “thorough analysis” of the conference outcome for drawing “conclusions concerning…implementation of the present treaty and dialogue with the Western countries on CFE Treaty problems.”

In a speech to the lower house of Russia’s legislature, the Duma, two days later, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reiterated Moscow’s unhappiness. “We do not intend to make it look [like] the 1990 treaty has functioned normally and that we are satisfied with it,” Lavrov said. He also asserted Russia has “done everything” to bring the adapted treaty into force.

Moscow’s record on meeting its past pledges, however, is mixed. On March 31, Russia finally concluded an agreement on closing two Soviet-era military bases in Georgia, at Batumi and Akhalkalaki, by the end of 2008. In the November 1999 CFE Final Act, which was a political document adopted in conjunction with the adapted CFE Treaty, Moscow had committed to completing these negotiations in 2000.

In 1999, Russia had also pledged to vacate another former Soviet military base at Gudauta by the end of 2000. But use of the base, located in the separatist region of Abkhazia, is still being disputed by Georgia and Russia. Tbilisi charges that Russian military forces still occupy the base, but Moscow contends the remaining contingent of some 300 troops are peacekeepers. The two governments have been trying unsuccessfully to agree on terms for an outside inspection of the base to assess its status.

Moscow has made much less progress in departing from Moldova. An estimated 1,400 Russian troops and an ammunition dump totaling almost 21,000 metric tons remain in the separatist Transdniestria region. Russia last removed military equipment from this area in March 2004. Russia had pledged in 1999 to withdraw from Moldova completely by the end of 2002.

Russia’s recent blustering is reportedly making some NATO members, such as Germany and Turkey, nervous about how Moscow might respond to NATO members maintaining their firm stand on Russia withdrawing from Georgia and Moldova. But a U.S. government official interviewed June 8 by Arms Control Today said the alliance is “hanging together.” The official added that the general view of CFE Treaty states-parties, despite Russia’s rhetoric, is that the accord is “working well.”


Posted: July 1, 2006

Chirac Outlines Expanded Nuclear Doctrine

Oliver Meier

French President Jacques Chirac Jan. 19 outlined changes to his country’s strategic policy, providing unprecedented detail about the circumstances under which France might be prepared to use nuclear weapons. The speech at the nuclear headquarters of the Strategic Air and Maritime Forces in Brittany represented the first major speech by Chirac on the subject since 2001.

Deterrence Broadened

Chirac emphasized that France’s nuclear arsenal continues to defend the country’s vital interests. But he broadened the definition of those interests beyond traditional concerns such as the protection of territory and population as well as the “free exercise of sovereignty.” According to Chirac, France’s vital interests now include “strategic supplies and the defense of allied countries.” Even threats or blackmail against these interests could require a nuclear response from Paris, he said.

Chirac also expanded the list of countries to be deterred by the French nuclear arsenal to include states that support terrorists. “The leaders of states who would use terrorist means against us, as well as those who would consider using, in one way or another, weapons of mass destruction, must understand that they would lay themselves open to a firm and adapted response on our part,” Chirac warned. “This response could be a conventional one. It could also be of a different kind.” Following a traditional line of French strategic thinking, Chirac maintained that terrorists themselves cannot be deterred by nuclear weapons.

Chirac’s speech was mainly directed at new regional powers, such as Iran, that possess weapons of mass destruction or ballistic missiles or are threatening to do so. Chirac insisted that France “under no circumstances” would use a nuclear weapon for purely military, as opposed to broader “strategic,” purposes. However, the president also cautioned that France could inflict “damage of any kind on a major power that would want to attack interests we would regard as vital.”

To make nuclear threats against regional powers more credible, Chirac said, French strategic nuclear weapons have been recon figured to be more flexible and reactive, enabling Paris to respond directly against such states. French Defense Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie explained to the Munich Conference on Security Policy Feb. 4 that this means that French nuclear strategy is now designed to have the added ability to hold at risk those who are directly threatening French interests, such as a country’s leadership.

Nuclear Modernization

France does not disclose details about its nuclear arsenal, but outside experts such as Bruno Tertrais of the Paris-based Foundation for Strategic Research have estimated that it possesses 348 nuclear warheads, based on four strategic submarines and 84 nuclear bombers. Some 288 of the warheads are said to have been deployed on M45 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). M45 missiles are believed to carry up to six warheads with a yield of 100 kilotons each. The remaining 60 warheads, with a yield of 300 kilotons, are be lieved deployed on ASMP air-to-surface cruise missiles aboard navy and air force bombers.

France is modernizing all components of its nuclear force. A new M51.1 SLBM is expected to enter service by 2010 and will have an extended range of 6,000 kilometers compared to the 4,000-kilometer range of the M45 it will replace. A new supersonic ASMP- Amélioré missile with an extended range of 400-500 kilometers is expected to enter service by 2007. By 2008, Rafale bombers will carry French ASMPs, replacing the nuclear-armed Mirage 2000N and Super Étendard. New nuclear warheads are under development for the navy as well as the air force and are expected to become operational in 2015 and 2007, respectively. These efforts, Chirac argued, give France “the means to cover threats wherever they arise and whatever their nature.”

The Feb. 9 edition of the French daily Libération claimed to pro vide further classified details, saying that French policy now aims to make firing a nuclear “last warning” more credible. According to the report, France has modified some of its nuclear weapons so that they can be detonated at high altitudes. This would create an electromagnetic pulse and damage an enemy’s electronic systems. France could also detonate a single nuclear weapon at an uninhabited area, for example a desert, in order to demonstrate its resolve to use nuclear weapons more widely. According to the article, the number of warheads on some French SLBMs has been reduced, and these weapons can now be retargeted while submarines are at sea.

Context and Audience

The timing of Chirac’s speech suggests a connection to the escalat ing crisis on Iran’s nuclear program. A French diplomat told Arms Control Today Feb. 9 that preparation of the statement took place in the context of the crisis around Iran’s nuclear program. However, the official pointed out that “the speech was not directed at one particular country; rather, it was aimed at new regional powers” more generally.

Addressing domestic critics of nuclear weapons spending, Chirac said it would be “irresponsible” not to devote about 10 percent of French defense spending (roughly $3.75 billion) to such weapons each year.

Invoking the term “concerted deterrence,” which he had first used in 1995, Chirac also tried to place French nuclear forces in the context of European defense. He renewed an invitation to EU partners to debate “together, the question of a common [European] defense that would take into account of existing deterrent forces, with a view to a strong Europe responsible for its security.”

This overture fell on deaf ears, however, at least in Germany, France ’s closest ally in the European Union. While a government spokesperson in Berlin played down the speech as not indicating a change of French policy, others criticized its timing, content, and style. Andreas Schockenhoff, defense and foreign policy expert for the co-governing Christian Democratic Party, told Reuters Jan. 20 that “[w]e have to convince these countries [like Iran] that their situation isn’t going to get any better if they possess nuclear weapons. I don’t think Chirac’s approach is really the best way to lead this debate and to increase pressure on Iran.”

Gert Weisskirchen, foreign policy spokesperson for the Social Democrats, the other half of the governing coalition, told Spiegel Online the same day that he saw Chirac’s speech “as a unilateral declaration on the part of the French president, and it’s something he ought to have discussed with his European partners first.”

Chirac’s statement contained no news on French arms control policies. France, which is the only nuclear-weapon state to have dismantled its facilities for the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons, continues to support negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty, he said. But Paris otherwise conditions progress in nuclear disarmament on global security and on other nuclear-weapon states’ policies, Chirac asserted.


Posted: March 1, 2006

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

Oliver Meier

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Transatlantic Issues

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

China Arms Embargo

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

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

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

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

Nuclear Disarmament and Nonproliferation

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

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

Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

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

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

Nonproliferation Capacity-Building

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here for a complete transcript of this interview.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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



Posted: September 1, 2005

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

Oliver Meier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Posted: June 1, 2005

Testing Time for Europe's Nonproliferation Strategy

By Oliver Meier and Gerrard Quille

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

16. WMD declaration press release.

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

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

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

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

21. De Visser statement, para. 34.

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

23. EU WMD strategy, para. 21.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted: May 1, 2005

New European Defense Agency Approved

Gabrielle Kohlmeier

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

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

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

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

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





Posted: July 1, 2004

France's Deterrence Policy in Question

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

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

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

Posted: November 1, 2003

The Emergence of a European 'Strategic Personality'

Joanna Spear

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

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

Developments in Europe

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

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

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

The Evolving European Strategic Personality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The EU’s WMD Proliferation Policies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are the EU WMD Policies Taken Seriously?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Implications for the Transatlantic Relationship

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

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

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

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

How U.S. and EU National Security Strategies Differ

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

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

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



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



Posted: November 1, 2003


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