BASIC held the fourth of its roundtables this last 12 months, on NATO’s nuclear policy, under the grant from the Hewlett Foundation on April 28th. This time it was in non-NATO Helsinki, in collaboration with the Peace Union of Finland and the Foreign Ministry. Gathering participants from Central and Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Netherlands and Britain, we discussed the deterrence review, relations with Russia and the prospects for NATO contributing more actively to the agenda of global nuclear disarmament. The distinctive nature of the meeting, encapsulating a broad range of perspectives, enabled participants to take a broader and sometimes more progressive view than some of our previous roundtables. Many participants expressed concern over the secrecy and size of Russian deployment of tactical nuclear weapons – a clear incentive for states in engaging with the Russians to reduce the threat.
BASIC’s Trident Commission into British nuclear weapons policy has started to receive evidence and is holding private meetings in London. Evidence can be submitted to BASIC on the website at TC@basicint.org. Public meetings are planned later in the year, in collaboration with national newspapers and other organisations. News of BASIC’s Trident Commission has travelled far and wide beyond Britain. A representative from the Kansas City chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility dropped in to the Washington office to collect our literature to take back to local activists. The Kansas City Plant, which is responsible for the production and procurement of non-nuclear components for nuclear weapons, would be involved in production of the modernized W76-1 warhead for the Trident system, according to Sandia labs.
Chris Lindborg and Christopher Car reviewed the latest developments on U.S. Trident within the context of American and British plans for replacing their nuclear weapons submarine fleets.
Before the Congressional recess, Anne Penketh focused on how the Republicans view the 2012 defense budget at a time when the Tea Party is in full throated cry looking for cuts. But as Mike Turner (chairman of the House Armed Forces Strategic Forces Subcommittee) made clear at one event, they intend to fully fund the modernization of the US nuclear weapons complex, and will try to constrain the Obama administration from any further reductions. Any savings would come from the conventional weapons side, but even there it’s not clear where, as the Republicans retain their faith in ballistic missile defence.
BASIC’s U.S. intern, Lukas Milevski, penned a brief article on the continuity of Senator Jon Kyl’s opposition to the CTBT over the years, before heading back to the UK to prepare for PhD studies.
This morning BASIC published a report on Reducing the Role of Tactical Nuclear Weapons in Europe: Perspectives and Proposals on the NATO Policy debate. The report is the fruit of a year’s informal discussions involving policy makers and diplomats from key NATO member states, at events across Europe organized (by BASIC with partner organizations ACA and IFSH) before and after the NATO Lisbon summit last November.
Brussels – BASIC is holding a roundtable, on May 23rd/24th, on NATO’s nuclear deterrence options, at which we will attempt to pull together the findings of a series of roundtables held throughout Europe over this last year and to feed into the Defence Ministerial a week or two later.
Rome – on June 15th BASIC will hold another roundtable on NATO’s nuclear posture, with particular focus on the future of Italy’s participation in NATO’s nuclear burden sharing arrangements.