Nuclear diplomacy in London and Paris
Whilst the momentum in intergovernmental negotiations on nuclear disarmament has not been maintained into 2011, the pace of non-governmental activity continues, with a flurry of meetings over the summer. The BASIC Trident Commission met with George Shultz and others from NTI prior to the top level NTI-ELN-Hoover seminar on deterrence in Lancaster House the following day (May 20). Discussion ranged around the tensions of showing movement on disarmament whilst maintaining for now a robust nuclear deterrent.
Paul Ingram (BASIC’s Executive Director) attended several meetings at the Foreign Office, including a seminar on the proliferation impacts of the Arab Spring and plans for the P5 conference in Paris at the end of June. He also attended the Global Zero summit at the Savoy Hotel where former foreign and defense ministers, military chiefs and diplomats, authors and youth activists met to discuss the challenges facing the global nuclear disarmament movement, and the need for urgent action. Whilst there was an upbeat assessment of progress up to now, particularly with progress achieved in 2010, there was also a strong sense of the challenge ahead.
The principal intergovernmental meeting of the season was the ‘P5’ in Paris (June 30 & July 1), meeting to discuss their disarmament commitments as the nuclear weapon states under the NPT. They had last year promised to report progress to the NPT in 2014. The communiqué issued by the French contained encouraging language, and unofficial communication suggested that the Chinese were more cooperative on the agenda than had been feared. We are still a long way away from any formal multilateral negotiations for disarmament, but the talks on principles are essential. Anne Penketh (BASIC’s Program Director) attended an NGO briefing in Paris prior to the conference, but this was a little disappointing in that delegations were unwilling to share a great deal in advance. In their public comments, the P5 did not go beyond their stated positions. BASIC released a report by Andrew Cottey (BASIC’s Board member) on the issues surrounding multilateralism.
NATO’s nuclear policy
We concluded the first leg of our series of Hewlett-sponsored seminars with a two-day, high-level meeting in Brussels on May 23 – 24, 2011, shortly after the deterrence and defence posture review launch in Berlin. The timing was ideal. Speakers included NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General Jamie Shea and U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Missile Defense Brad Roberts. Among the more than 50 participants were many national representatives from NATO missions and senior NATO officials, demonstrating the project’s cumulated reputation. The Ambassadors from Estonia, France, Germany and Norway as well as the First Secretary from the U.S. Mission gave provocative presentations on NATO’s nuclear posture review alongside ourselves and other members of civil society. Our seminar was followed by a dinner for some of the participants hosted by the French Ambassador at his residence, and then another seminar on similar issues hosted by Carnegie Europe.
Later, on June 15 we organized a roundtable alongside the Instituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) in Rome on “NATO’s Nuclear Posture and Burden Sharing Agreements: an Italian Perspective”. The roundtable explored why Italy has not taken an active role in the current debate on TNWs in Europe.
The beginning of May was marked by a tub-thumping speech by Ellen Tauscher, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, who made a cogent argument for taking the Comprehensive Test BanTreaty to the Senate for ratification. However, it became clear from Senators who also spoke at the same meetingorganized by the Arms Control Association that the necessary votes are not there, and the State Department has clarified that the administration will not push for ratification before the 2012 presidential election. Tauscher also stressed that well-meaning foreigners should keep out of the debate, saying that the ratification was a matter for American voters alone. The administration is about to roll out its outreach campaign to “educate” Senate staff on the treaty.
Following the BASIC conference in Brussels on TNWs (May 23 & 24), we wrote to the U.S. principals – Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher, White House WMD coordinator Gary Samore and chief negotiator Rose Gottemoeller to encourage new thinking on the issue of the US tactical nuclear weapons which threaten NATO unity. Samore replied, and Gottemoeller has put two of her aides onto the case and has promised us a considered reply.
As Anne Penketh moves forward on preparations for BASIC’s Malta workshop ahead of the 2012 conference on establishing a WMD-free zone in the Middle East, she spoke with senior administration officials, including Bob Einhorn, Gary Samore and Susan Burk. The administration, at last, is close to finalizing a short list of potential facilitators and host governments for the 2012 event.
Anne also wrote BASIC’s first book review for the new website, saying of Tad Daley’s “Apocalypse Never”:“If you have a nuclear addiction, Doctor Tad Daley has the cure.”
Paul attended the Second International Conference on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament in Tehran June 12 -13, where he delivered a paper on why the Iranians should engage with next year’s intergovernmental conference on a WMD Free Zone in the Middle East. The paper received a positive reception, with senior Iranian officials engaging in debate over the proposals. BASIC will soon be publishing the paper presented, and will use this for further consultation with the Iranian Foreign Ministry.
Paul Ingram and Oliver Meir, Reducing the Role of Tactical nuclear Weapons in Europe: Perspectives and Proposals on the NATO Policy Debate, May 12. This report is the fruit of a year’s informal discussions involving policy makers and diplomats from key NATO member states, at events across Europe before and after the NATO Lisbon Summit last November.
Laura Spagnuolo, Italy’s Tactical Nuclear Weapons, May 20. This paper reviews the Italian position, by piecing together the likely elements and examining the reasons behind the country’s reticence in taking an explicit position on TNWs.