Project on European Nuclear Non-Proliferation (PENN)
PENN Newsletter No. 4 / December 1997

Newsletter

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

 

Dear friends,

a busy year is coming to an end. Nuclear weapons postures seem to be not very much affected by the recent changes in the European security landscape. NATO and the EU have both taken steps towards enlargement. Both organizations claim to represent cooperative approaches to European security, but neither one has changed its policy on nuclear weapons. NATO insists on the right to deploy nuclear weapons in new member states as well and the EU could still arms itself with nuclear weapons. But there were positive steps last year as well: reductions in the number of nuclear weapons are continuing and the US and Russia have signalled their willingness to make further cuts. Both governments may also be willing start comprehensive talks on a broad range on nuclear weapons issues.

Nevertheless, a lot remains to be done in the next year. The first big event is likely to be the NPT PrepCom to take place in Geneva from late April to May. PENN members will be present to monitor and influence this and other events.

The BITS-team wishes you a great Christmas and a successful New Year!

Reports and Current Activities

NATO-Russia Establish Nuclear Weapons Working Group

NATO and Russia are to establish an experts working group on nuclear weapons in the framework of their Permanent Joint Council (PJC). The decision was taken at the Defence Ministers meeting of the PJC in Brussels on December 3, 1997. This will be the first permanent forum for the discussion of nuclear weapons issues, and also unique because two small nuclear powers, the UK and France, will participate. Furthermore, those non-nuclear weapon states which participate in NATO nuclear weapons co-operation programmes will have their activities opened to outside scrutiny for the first time. The group is expected to meet for the first time early in the New Year.

There will be three items on the initial agenda for this group. These will be :

Tactical Nuclear Weapons

This will include a discussion of accounting methods, doctrinal concerns - particularly (from the NATO point of view) concerns over a Russian move to forward basing of tactical nuclear weapons, transparency, and safety and security issues, including transport and storage. A NATO official noted that NATO would like to discuss tactical nuclear weapons arms control with Russia (in line with the US-Russia agreement in Helsinki earlier this year), but that until each side understood the other's accounting methods this would be impossible. He noted that, at present, the US can only estimate Russian tactical nuclear weapons stocks as being between 8,000 and 16,000.

President Yeltsin's May 27 Statement

At the signing ceremony of the NATO-Russia Founding Act on May 27, 1997, President Yeltsin interrupted the proceedings to declare that Russian nuclear weapons would no longer be targeted on any of the nations present. He also seemed to indicate that Russian nuclear forces would be taken off alert. However, the statement was somewhat confused and the translation imprecise. At that time a NATO spokesman said that NATO would be ready and willing to discuss issues of de-targeting and de-alerting of nuclear forces with Russia in the framework of the PJC. The creation of this experts group fulfils the expectations created at that time.

Safety and Security Issues

This area of discussions will focus on strategic nuclear forces. General Habiger, Commander of US Strategic Command, has recently visited a Russian Strategic Rocket Forces SS-24 missile base to examine its safety and security procedures. At the meeting of the NATO Defence Ministers he proclaimed himself impressed with Russian facilities, although admitting he has visited only one facility and that for a short time. There will be a reciprocal Russian visit to the US in the near future, and the working group will extend the scope of these transparency and confidence building measures. Martin Butcher (CESD)

For further information please contact:

Centre for European Security and Disarmament (CESD), Rue Stévin 115, 1000 Brussels,

Tel. ++32 2 230 0732 fax ++32 2 230 2467 e-mail: nan@gn.apc.org.

***

WEU Panel recommends Consultations on European Nuclear Weapons

A ercent report of the Defence Committee of the Assembly of the Western European Union (WEU) urges European nations to initiate a dialogue on the role of nuclear weapons in European security. The Rapporteur, Lord Newall sees the Franco-German dialogue about the "function of nuclear deterrence in the context of a European defence policy" , which was agreed to in December 1996, as "the basis of European defence. Germany's participation is (...) essential to it and could bring about that of other European countries." The report argues for intensified consultations on closer cooperations in nuclear weapons matters: "Although the United Kingdom, as a nuclear power, is in quite a different position to German, the Anglo-French Committee held the mirror up to what Franco-German dialogue could be. At the start of any consultation, there must be a search for a consensus on the role of nuclear weapons in European security."

The report has the title "The state of affairs in disarmament", Assembly of the Western European Union, Forty-Third Session, 5 November 1997, Report submitted on behalf of the Defence Committee by Lord Newall, Rapporteur, Document 1590, p. 22.

***

International Experts Discuss Nuclear Legacy

In 1991, for the first time ever, a nuclear-weapons state dissolved. Four new nuclear powers emerged on the territory of the Former Soviet Union (FSU). As a result, unique and unprecedented security and environmental problems appeared. Even though today Russia is the only nuclear weapon state on the territory of the FSU, the Soviet nuclear legacy retains a high priority on the European security agenda.

The international workshop "The Nuclear Legacy of the Former Soviet Union: Implications for Security and Ecology" was organized by the Berlin Information-centre for Transatlantic Security (BITS) in cooperation with the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation on October 17-18 in order to raise public awareness on these problems and to start a dialogue among independent experts. Participants - international experts from politics, academia, and the media - looked at existing problems regarding security and ecology in the FSU, and proceeded to analyze the issues from a Russian as well as from an international perspective. The workshop assessed the political environment for the future role of nuclear weapons in Russian security policy. Participants discussed current military planning and the possible impact of further arms-control measures. Finally, the performance of approaches that to-date deal with the nuclear legacy of the FSU were discussed, and proposals to solve remaining problems developed.

The workshop had the goal of asking prominent international experts about their opinion on the situation in the Former Soviet Union. Where do they see the biggest problems? What are relevant developments in security policies? What is the situation with regard to nuclear disarmament? In the first two panels, experts and insiders from the US and Russia assessed the current situation with regard to environmental and security problems. It became clear, that the situation in Russia cannot be described in simple terms. Parallel, and partly contradicting developments are characteristic for the political development in Russia during the last couple of years.

It became also clear, that some of the problems demand immediate action. This is especially true for some of the environmental problems. The situation in the Russian naval nuclear complex for example is worsening so fast that in some cases there is no time left for in-depth analyses of the best approach to solving these problems. Matters are more complicated with regard to current trends in Russian security policy. The views of participants differed on where Russian nuclear weapons policies are headed. While some argued that policy is still driven by political demands, others maintained that not all aspects of Russian military policy are still under central control.

Participants then discussed ways to solve these issues from a Russian and international perspective. Some speakers emphasized that the Russian domestic political process cannot be analyzed in Western categories. The current political situation is complicated by the fact that very few well-established mechanisms for dealing with the nuclear heritage exist. This is one of the reasons why international risk reduction programs often miss their target. In addition, there is frequently a mismatch between the demand and supply side of international assistance. International programs appear to have been most successful where there has been close cooperations with partners in the affected country and region.

What then are sensible next steps to take to reduce the dangers of the nuclear heritage of the Soviet Union? Which course should the nuclear disarmament process take? Have existing approaches succeeded in the past? And most important: What lessons can be drawn from past experiences? With regard to nuclear disarmament there was disagreement whether it is more sensible to design a comprehensive approach, linking different issues or whether the best way to achieve progress is to separately negotiate different steps. Even though there was agreement that de-alerting in principle is a sensible step to take, some participants disputed that there is a real danger of an accidental launch of a nuclear weapon.

The workshop showed that a lot needs to be done to be able to deal with only the most pressing problems. The existing approaches are clearly insufficient to cope with the threats coming from the nuclear heritage. Strategies however, must change not only quantitatively but also qualitatively. Several participants emphasized that the workshop was an important first step in better coordinating security and environmental aspects of threat reduction programs. Discussions clearly showed that environmental aspects and consequences of disarmament and arms control have to be taken better into account. Risk reduction programs also have to be tailored more closely to the needs of the affected institutions. Finally, it became clear that a future dialogue on nuclear disarmament and ecology has to broadened to include representatives of the Southern countries as well as from civil society. Nuclear arms control and its implication for ecology can no longer be an exclusive affair of government officials from the developed world. OM/ LH

A reader containing the presentations made at the international workshop "The Nuclear Legacy of the Former Soviet Union: Implications for Ecology and Security" can be ordered through

BITS, Rykestr. 13, D-10405 Berlin, Tel.: +49-30-4410220; Fax: +49-30-441022; e-mail bits@bits.de.

***

Working Group Eurobomb Initiates Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons In Holland

At present there is no public debate on nuclear weapons in Holland. For that reason the Working Group Eurobomb is initiating a fresh consciousness raising campaign to draw political and public attention to the subject. The aim is to inform the Dutch public, media and decision-makers of present international developments on nuclear weapons and to provide policy alternatives for Holland. Because this country was at the forefront of the fight against nuclear weapons in the 'eighties there is a good chance that informed debate will again arouse public opinion. National elections are coming up in May 1998, so we think that politicians up for re-election will be sensitive to issues which the public think are important.

On Tuesday, 2 December the Working Group Eurobomb held a press conference to mark the start of the campaign. Former ambassador Korthals Altes and Dan Plesch, director of BASIC presented the case for opposing present Dutch nuclear weapons policy. The press conference was timed to take place on the eve of a series of decisions to be taken by the Dutch government on this policy:

* On 9 December Holland voted against the Malaysian resolution at the UN;

* On 9-11 December the Dutch defence and foreign affairs budgets were debated in Parliament; although Holland still has responsibility for a NATO nuclear mission (F-16 bombers at Volkel air base, where about 20 nuclear bombs are stored) no steps are being announced to get rid of it, despite Dutch commitments to the NPT;

* Dutch political parties will shortly be discussing their draft political programmes for the national election in May 1998. There is hardly any mention of nuclear weapons in them;

* Holland is participating in a series of NATO meetings in Brussels which will confirm present NATO nuclear policy, including first use of nuclear weapons.

Dan Plesch illustrated his warnings about the dangers of present policy with the nuclear alarm which took place at the beginning of 1995, when Russian strategic forces were minutes away from launch because a Norwegian weather rocket launch was interpreted as a possible attack on Russia. This showed the need for urgent solutions, such as an agreement to separate the warheads from the launcher systems.

There is an impression amongst the general public, he continued, which assumes that the abolition of nuclear weapons has the highest priority for governments, NATO and UN. This is an incorrect assumption, "How can NATO nuclear doctrine be explained to countries which have met their NPT obligations and abolished their nuclear weapons, such as the former nuclear weapons state South Africa?"

Former Dutch ambassador Korthals Altes stated that "...the silence on nuclear weapons policy in fact means that the modernisation of nuclear weapons, despite all the well-formulated declarations, is quietly continuing." He asked himself: "Do we really want to enter the new millennium with nuclear weapons?"

He suggested that "when the Strategic Concept is discussed in NATO and if we are truly allies, then we could surely argue for a pause and say that we want to think a little bit more about this, because it is a problem which concerns us all."

Korthals Altes also pointed at the 1996 Canberra Commission report and the declaration of the Generals arguing for serious steps towards nuclear disarmament as supporting his position.

The following reports were also presented at the press conference:

* A compilation of excerpts from the written reports of parliamentary debates, statements and letters by the Dutch government and political parties on nuclear issues (Dutch language)

* A translation of the PENN Research note 97.3 describing how NPT treaty obligations have been evaded by a questionable interpretation of the treaty (English and Dutch language)

* A short analysis of Dutch voting on the Malaysian resolution L.37 in the First Committee at the UN (Dutch language);

* A report of the seminar on nuclear weapons in Europe organised in Amsterdam in June 1997 by the Working Group Eurobomb; it includes speeches by Admiral Eberle (ret Royal Navy), Uta Zapf (German SPD member of Parliament) and SA Ambassador to Holland, Niehaus (English language);

* BASIC Paper No. 20 suggesting a new strategic Concept for NATO (English language).

Karel Koster (AMOK)

Further information:

Karel Koster, Working Group Eurobom, p/a Obrechtstraat 43, 3572 EC Utrecht, Netherlands,

Tel: +31 30 2714376, +31 30 2722594, Fax: +31 30 2714759, E-mail: k.koster@inter.nl.net

Diary

BITS and BASIC have new e-mail

Both BASIC and BITS have new e-mail adresses.

BASIC can be reached at

BasicUK@basicint.org

BasicUS@basicint.org

Staff can be rea ched at

"first-letter-of-surname"-last-name@basicint.org

e.g. Nicola Butler at nbutler@basicint.org

BITS can be reached at

bits@bits.de

Staff can be reached at

"first-letter-of-surname"."last-name"@bits.de or

"surname"."last-name"@bits.de

e.g. Otfried Nassauer at

o.nassauer@bits.de or otfried.nassauer@bits.de

***

European Peace Congress Osnarück '98

On the 350th anniversary of the Peace of Westphalia international NGOs will meet in Osnabrück, Germany. During the "European Peace Congress Osnabrück", which will take place fro 29-31 May 1998, representatives and activists from the European peace movement will discuss subjects like Conscientious Objection as a Human Right, Perspectives of Pacifist Action and Conditions of War: Opposing the Military.

For more information, a detailed conference agenda, a newsletter subscription, or registration forms contact:

European Peace Congress Osnabrück '98, Postfach 4124, D-49031 Osnabrück,

Tel. ++49/541/260 650, FAX ++49/541/260 680

New publications

NATO Strategy Review in the Spotlight

On December 16-17, NATO Foreign Ministers met in Brussels to provide basic guidance for developing a new NATO strategy. A recently published BITS Research Note argues that the strategy review is of crucial importance. The authors recommend that the review be conducted in a fully transparent manner and in close consulatation with the Russian Federation. The strategy review - the first one since 1991 - should encompass all aspects of the political and military aspects of NATO's work. NATO's nuclear doctrine is one area where clear options for change exist. Only if the opportunities associated with the review are realized can NATO proof that it has adapted to the new situation in Europe.

For NATO nuclear politics, such an adaption should include a limitation of the role of strategic weapons, negative security assurances for non-nuclear weapon states, a clear no-first-use statement, withdrawal of substrategic nuclear weapons from European soil, support for a treaty on tactical nuclear weapons, ending nuclear sharing arrangements, and immediately dealerting all nuclear weapons. OM

A copy of the research note "NATO's Strategic Review - A Litmus Test for NATO-Russia Relations" can be obtained from BITS, Rykestr. 13, 10405 Berlin, Tel.: +49-30-4410220; Fax: +49-30-441022; e-mail bits@bits.de.

***

Report on PENN Amsterdam Seminar now available

A full report of the PENN seminar on "Nuclear Weapons In Europe" held in Amsterdam in June 1997 is available and can now be ordered from the Working Group Eurobomb for postal charges only.

Please send fax or e-mail to: Karel Koster, Working Group Eurobomb, p/a Obrechtstraat 43, 3572 EC Utrecht, Netherlands

Tel: +31 30 2714376, +31 30 2722594,

Fax: +31 30 2714759, E-mail: k.koster@inter.nl.net

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)

ISSN 1434-4262