Project on European Nuclear Non-Proliferation (PENN)
PENN Newsletter No. 3 / September 1997

Newsletter

c/o BITS   Rykestr. 13  D-10405 Berlin    Germany    Phone: +49-30-446858-0      Fax: +49-30-4410221

 

Dear friends,

Important things were expected to happen since the last issue of our Newsletter. The EU Summit in Amsterdam in June and the NATO Summit in Madrid in July were announced as milestones in the process of European integration. However, the results of both events were rather sobering: few surprises, no visions. Quite different were two PENN-sponsored events in Schlaining (Austria) and Amsterdam, where experts and representatives from NGOs offered some fresh approaches to the question of nuclear weapons in Europe. We hope that some of the ideas brought forward at these meetings will soon find a larger audience. Greetings from Berlin, the BITS-team.

Reports and Current Activities

Seminar at Amsterdam Summit attracts wide attention

PENN co-organised a seminar on nuclear weapons (NW) in Europe on 15 June in Amsterdam, on the eve of the EU summit held there. A substantial part of the more than 120 participants were also involved in the official summit programme.

The participation of high ranking members of the international community, European politicians and nuclear disarmament experts drew public interest to the seminar. Among the speakers were Admiral Sir James Eberle (Commander-in-Chief Fleet Royal Navy ret.), Mr. C.G. Niehaus, South African ambassador to the Netherlands and Uta Zapf (SPD member of the Defence Committee of the German Parliament (Bundestag), spokesperson for arms control and disarmament.

In his keynote presentation, Admiral (ret.) Sir James Eberle spoke on nuclear disarmament. In his view, "the risks involved in total elimination [of NW] are less than the risks that we would entail if we maintained nuclear weapons, and I have found that argument convincing". He called for further measures such as taking NW off their "365 days, 24 hours" alert status since, in his view, de-targeting does not reduce the nuclear risk. He noted that "Europe can take the lead" in the discussion on total nuclear disarmament.

Concerning the future role of NW in European Security, Martin Butcher (CESD, Brussels) talked about the British nuclear deterrent and European Security, and its relationship to the IGC process. Thierry Tardy (IRIS, Paris) followed up with a comment on the French position. Uta Zapf noted that now is the moment to discuss the future role of NW in Europe in the context of a European Common Foreign and Security Policy. She observed that "as far as I can see, nobody in our European governments really touches this topic, it's a kind of taboo".

In the second half of the seminar, South Africa's Ambassador to the Netherlands, Mr. C.G. Niehaus, pointed to the extraordinary importance of the NPT to South Africa. Niehaus said: "As a country which has voluntarily given up the nuclear weapons option [...], South Africa favours the creation of nuclear weapons free zones as a point of departure, to rid eventually the world of nuclear weapons". A second panel, which included Otfried Nassauer (BITS), Phon vd Biessen (IALANA) and Dr. J.Th. Hoekema (Dutch Member of parliament D'66) focused on the question of the NPT and its importance for the issue of NW in Europe. Mr. Jan Hoekema, (whose D'66 party is part of the Dutch governing coalition) referring to criticism from South Africa in the preparatory Committee of the NPT last April, labelled the nuclear status of new NATO members "a sort of half-half category of nuclear weapon state". Mr. Hoekema continued: "They [the new members] will not have nuclear weapons on their territory, it is not completely ruled out, I must admit that". On the future of European defence he stated that: "[nuclear weapons] can't be European weapons in terms of legal ownership ... because then that would be a violation of the NPT". He hopes "that the offer by the French president would mean that these weapons would remain in the possession of France and Britain" opening the possibility for a European common defence with two national nuclear forces.

Otfried Nassauer presented a PENN research project that reveals the shaky origins of the NPT treaty, and Phon van der Biessen spoke on the international legal status of the NATO nuclear weapons 'user states' (which store US NW on their soil and are prepared to use them).

Karel Koster (AMOK)

A full report of the seminar can be ordered from: Working Group Eurobomb, Karel Koster, Tel: +31 30 2722594 or +31 30 2714376 Fax: +31 30 2714759 E-mail: k.koster@inter.nl.net

***

NGO conference on "A nuclear weapon-free Europe: Visions for Non-Nuclear European Security" at the Peace Center Schlaining / Austria

Well over 120 NGO representatives from 15 European countries, including Poland, Hungary, Russia, Slovakia and Romania, participated in what was the first all-European NGO gathering on nuclear weapon issues since the dissolution of the Warsaw Treaty Organisation. Initiated by INES in September last year, it was co-organized by IALANA, IPPNW, IPB, Peace Centre Schlaining, PENN, and WILPF.

After two rounds of five workshop sessions dealing with all aspects concerning existing nuclear weaponry in Europe and European nuclear strategies by NATO and WEU, as well as presenting proposals of how to abolish NW, the Conference was successful in adopting two extraordinary decisions: 1) A EUROPEAN BRANCH of the ABOLITION 2000 NETWORK was set up; and 2) the SCHLAINING MANIFESTO was agreed upon: this document outlines in-depth the European NGOs position on NATO Expansion and NW in Europe. A brief summary of its Political Programme of Action reads as follows:

All US nuclear weapons should be withdrawn from the soil of non-nuclear weapon states

NW should immediately be taken off alert

Central and Eastern European states currently free of NW should be declared a nuclear weapon- free zone

Negotiations for a NW Convention should be started

All nuclear weapon-usable materials, including tritium, should be unilaterally phased out or prohibited

Levels of conventional armament should be reduced

The OSCE should be considerably strengthened (further outlined in the document)

An early-warning system for conflict prevention should be set up

The Forum for Security Cooperation should elaborate on establishing nuclear weapon-free zones in the OSCE region

Tobias Damjanow

The Schlaining Manifesto is reprinted in the current issue of the INESAP Information Bulletin, it is posted at http://www.aspr.ac.at and it is available by e-mail from: georg.schoefbaenker@jk.uni-linz.ac.at; or: kalinowski@ hrzpub.th-darmstadt.de (from the latter, you can also get a German version) The compilation of action proposals is available from: tobdam@aol.com

***

Ambassador Graham's delegation to push Germany's Nuclear Disarmament role

Former US Special Representative for Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament, Ambassador Thomas Graham (Jr.) will lead a delegation of arms control experts to Germany from September 25 to October 5. Ambassador Graham, who is currently the President of the Lawyers Alliance for World Security (LAWS), and his delegation will be meeting with German officials, parlamentarians, non-governmental- and media representatives in order to encourage the German Government to take a leadership role in nuclear disarmament.

A recent report of the US National Academy of Sciences has recommended reductions of US and Russian nuclear stockpiles to 200-300 weapons each that should be undertaken in the context of global reductions of nuclear weapons. The report also urges the nuclear powers to adopt a "no first use" policy. Ambassador Graham's delegation seeks to gain support for these recommendations from the German Government.

BITS welcomes Ambassador Graham's initiative and is pleased to support the activities of his delegation in Germany. UT

***

Dealerting moves up on the political agenda

Dealerting NW has recently gained new prominence in the nuclear disarmament debate. Reducing the alert status of nuclear forces goes beyond detargeting which has virtually no effect because most nuclear missiles can be reprogrammed within minutes. Steps toward dealerting could include the separation of warheads from their delivery vehicles, and other measures that physically prevent a nuclear missile from being launched.

President Yeltsin, during the signing ceremony for the NATO-Russia Founding Act on May 27 in Paris, caused confusion by announcing that "all those weapons [aimed at NATO countries] are going to have their warheads removed". Yeltsin was later reported to have told French President Chirac that Russia, as a first step, would detarget those of its NW that are aimed at NATO members. The second step would be, on a reciprocal basis, the separation of warheads from their delivery vehicles. In a final step, Russia would then be willing to dismantle nuclear warheads.

The importance of dealerting has been widely recognized in the US as well. A recent National Academy of Sciences study states that "reducing alert rates, decreasing capacities to use NW quickly and with little warning, abandoning plans for the rapid use of NW, and deploying cooperative measures to assure states that forces are being readied for attack" should be an integral part of nuclear arms reduction. Sam Nunn and Bruce Blair suggested, as a first step, the immediate removal of warheads from all but a few hundred NW.

BASIC has recently provided its own analysis of dealerting measures, and proposed that the issue should be taken up by the new NATO-Russia Council. (see publications) OM

***

NATO-Russia Founding Act might provide new framework for nuclear disarmament

The NATO-Russia "Founding Act", signed with great pomp in Paris on May 27 could revive the nuclear disarmament process. The newly founded Permanent Joint Council (PJC), which is going to convene for its next regual meeting on September 22 in New York, has the mandate to pick up issues ranging from security and stability questions, consultations on strategy (including nuclear postures and doctrines), defence policies, military budgets, arms control issues, to NW issues including nuclear safety. It is therefore a perfect forum to prepare the ground for new nuclear arms control measures. The PJC could make a step toward nuclear disarmament by establishing a framework for talks about nuclear doctrine, strategy, postures and safety measures among the four nuclear weapon states involved in the process. Practical steps to support this effort could include an agreement to take NW off 'hair-trigger' alert and to eliminate tactical NW in Europe. This could give new life to the nuclear disarmament process and pave the road for talks among the P5.

PENN members BITS, BASIC, CESD and CIP have analyzed the "Founding Act". (see publications) OM

***

Nuclear Policy under review in Blair's Britain

The Labour government is seriously studying options for changing British nuclear weapons policy. While the new government has emphasized that it intends to retain the UK's Trident nuclear missile system for the foreseeable future, its new policy is to "press for multilateral negotiations."

As evidence of its commitment, the government has submitted the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to Parliament for its anticipated approval this autumn. Britain will likely be the first nuclear-weapon state to ratify the treaty.

The new government has also initated a Strategic Defence Review, the first major internal assessment of British strategic defense policy since the end of the Cold War. It is declaredly based "on the policy principles on which the government was elected." Recent reports indicate that Ministry of Defense and Foreign Office officials are considering ways to implement Labour's progressive agenda.

Policy changes which are under consideration include cutting unilaterally Trident warheads from its current six to three warheads per missile - the same number fitted on Polaris missiles in the 1960s and 1970s. The UK is also considering to take submarines off permanent patrols in the Atlantic. Another option being studied is not to bring the fourth Trident submarine fully into service until around 2000. If implemented, these options would be an important step toward dealerting nuclear weapons, an issue which is of interest to both NATO and Russia.

As a part of the disarmament initiative, Foreign Secretary Cook and Defence Secretary George Robertson also want to reveal the size of the UK's top secret weapons-grade plutonium and uranium stockpiles, and allow international inspections, according to reports. Most important, the Government wants its international allies in NATO to agree to a 'no first use' policy for nuclear weapons, a longstanding Labour goal.

Because of NATO's insistence on the 'first use' option in recent years, and tightly interlinked US-British submarine patrols, these proposals are likely to meet with opposition among NATO partners, notably from the US. Nonetheless, new initiatives from the UK may be just what is needed to give impetus to the ailing nuclear arms control process.

Nicola Butler (BASIC)/LH

***

BITS staff suspected of nuclear smuggling

German banks are very cautious. Recently, BITS received a phone call from its bank requesting "clarification" about the purpose of one of BITS's money transfers. The bank was alarmed because the purpose section of the payment stated "nuclear weapons", and the accountant suspected a nuclear weapons deal. The payment was a reimbursement for a nuclear weapons project BITS had conducted. Despite a clarification, the funds remain frozen until the recipient has proven that the payment was not for a nuclear weapon. Lesson to be learned: when dealing with nuclear weapons, don't let your bank know. ON

Diary

October 17-18, 1997: International Workshop "The Nuclear Legacy of the Former Soviet Union: Implications for Security and Ecology", Berlin, Akademie der Wissenschaften. Organized by BITS in co-operation with the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation. The two day workshop will bring together experts on nuclear issues in the former Soviet Union from Europe, and the United States. It will evaluate past programs to reduce the nuclear dangers resulting from the nuclear heritage of the Former Soviet Union, and identify the most urgent problems today. Participants will then discuss proposals and ideas to deal with the Soviet Union's nuclear legacy, including new arms control proposals. For further information or registration (necessary!) please contact BITS.

November/ December 1997: An International Conference on Nuclear Disarmament has been tentatively scheduled either for 28-30 November or 5-7 December. It is organised by the Geneva-based NGO Committee for Disarmament and the Swedish Peace Council and will be held at Stockholm, Sweden. Main topics include:

Development of East-West relations: NATO expansion, START, unilateral measures

Progress towards a NW Convention

Negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament and other fora

Preparation for the 2nd PrepComm of the NPT Review Conference

Nuclear weapon-free zones

Citizens actions for disarmament

Abolition 2000

Details by e-mail from: NGO Committee for Disarmament: womensleague@ gn.apc.org or Swedish Peace Council: greencross@mbox300.swipnet.se

New publications

Nuclear Weapons and the EU

In time for the Amsterdam EU Summit, BASIC and BITS have published a research paper on "Nuclear Weapons and the European Union". It contains a comprehensive summary of recent steps towards a nuclear European Union and the recent debate within the EU. The research note concludes that a Europe-wide public debate about the future of French and British NW is long overdue. It is important that the discussion be frank, open and transparent, thereby breaking with the secrecy that prevails around the topic today. Furthermore, EU members should seek to develop a joint understanding by all parties to the NPT under which circumstances nuclear sharing violates the NPT. Finally, Britain and France should commit themselves to join the nuclear arms control process.

***

NATO Nuclear Sharing and the NPT

In a collaborative research effort the ASPR, BASIC, BITS and CESD have published a research note raising new questions about the compatibility of NATO nuclear sharing arrangements and the NPT (see last issue of the Newsletter). The report will be distributed to all signatories of the NPT. PENN members will ask governments to consult their national archives to clarify when precisely they were informed about NATO's nuclear sharing arrangements.

***

NATO-Ukraine Charter

At the NATO Summit on July 8-9, NATO and Ukraine heads of state and government signed the "Charter on a Distinctive Partnership between NATO and Ukraine". BITS was able to get hold of a copy two weeks prior to the summit. BITS asked Ambassador Jonathan Dean (USA), Admiral Sir James Eberle (UK), Dr. Sergiy Galaka (Ukraine), Sherman Garnett (USA), Hrihoriy Perepelitsia (Ukraine), Dr. Dmitri Trenin (Russian Federation) and John Borawski (North Atlantic Assembly) to give their view on the implications of the Charter for European Security. These views and the document have been published in a Briefing Note. UT

***

Madrid Summit Briefing Papers:

97.1: The NATO-Russia "Founding Act": Stepping Stone or Stumbling Block for a European Security Architecture? (BITS)

97.2: A Fresh Start for START - NATO Summit Faces Options for Change (BASIC/BITS)

97.3: Conventional Forces in Europe - Arms Control at Risk (BITS)

97.4: NATO Needs a New Approach to the Mediterranean (CIP)

97.5: Removing the Nuclear "Hair-Trigger" - A Priority for the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council (BASIC)

publications can be ordered by using the enclosed form.

BITS would like to thank the W. Alton Jones Foundation for its generous support for the PENN program.

ViSdP / Responsibility at BITS: Otfried Nassauer (ON) and authors indicated: Lutz Hager (LH), Oliver Meier (OM), Ulf Terlinden (UT)

ISSN 1434-4262