15 de abril de 2009

"O futuro das armas nucleares na NATO" 

· Let me start by thanking the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung for having again invited me for one of their debates; it is always a pleasure to participate in the FES' high-quality panels;
· 2009 is the year of all nuclear debates: the US is preparing its nuclear posture review; NATO is reviewing its Strategic Concept and the world is getting ready for the 2010 NTP Review Conference; all of this is happening in a special context: the US is once again being led by someone who espouses the vision of a world without nuclear weapons;
· We the European Socialists and Social Democrats are taking part in this debate and doing our best to influence it; I have brought with me today a collection of texts collected and edited by the Socialist Group in the European Parliament on "Peace and Disarmament: a world without nuclear weapons?"; please feel free to take a copy and let me know if you need more;
· I am mentioning this because one of the contributions in this book is by Dr. Anthony; he writes about the various proposals on the multilateralisation of the nuclear fuel cycle already on the table, and about the EU's role in helping them come to fruition;
· I was heartened to hear President Obama in mention the idea of a multilateral nuclear fuel bank as one of the elements in his nuclear nonproliferation-slash-disarmament strategy announced in Prague;
· Let me start by briefly referring to Dr. Anthony's excellent study on the "Future of Nuclear Weapons in NATO" and then I will move on to the debate on the Strategic Concept of NATO;


· I like Dr. Anthony's realism: NATO is not going to give nuclear weapons tomorrow; in that sense, what can be hoped for and what must be the main goal of policy-makers and campaigners on both sides of the Atlantic right now is a reduction of the strategic relevance given to nuclear weapons in the Alliance's mix of capabilities;
· I agree with Dr. Anthony's assertion that one possible intermediate step before the total denuclearisation of the Alliance could be an explicit statement reducing NATO nuclear weapons to a role of deterrence against nuclear attacks;
· This brings us to the problem of NATO's nuclear doctrine - or the dangerous lack thereof...
· The Alliance doesn't clearly define its nuclear posture, and certainly doesn't exclude a nuclear first strike;
· Clearly this doctrine still reflects Cold War thinking, where the Soviet Union's overwhelming conventional advantage seemed to justify keeping the option of a nuclear first strike open;
· In fact, NATO - and its European members - pay a heavy price for a nuclear ambiguity of questionable strategic value; leaving all options open has two direct effects, and neither of them contributes to Europe's security:
1. First, leaving the first-strike option on the table indicates to friends and foes all over the world that nuclear weapons still play a vital role in the West's strategic thinking; it represents a structural hurdle to the full implementation of Article VI of the NPT and contributes to placing nuclear weapons at the very top of the wish-list of any aspiring strategic power;
2. Second, and more concretely, this nuclear posture provides doctrinal cover for the presence of over 400 US tactical nuclear weapons on European soil - these are proliferation-prone relics of a by-gone era of Great Power-confrontation; the Blix Commission clearly underlines how much bigger the risk for diversion or theft of these tactical devices are, than their strategic counterparts;

· Which brings us to another important element in Dr. Anthony's argument: while NATO discusses the role of its nuclear weapons in the context of its Strategic Concept, while European states seem to be too shy to really break the taboo of how to square a real autonomous European security identity with a US nuclear umbrella, they actually risk being overtaken by events beyond their control;
· In other words, if a European vision for NATO's nuclear deterrent is lacking, it is very likely that the US' nuclear posture review will decide for everyone else: the reduction of US stockpiles, the reconfiguration of US delivery systems, the effects of US strategic disinvestment from Europe and its efforts to improve relations with Russia could mean that Washington's national nuclear posture review becomes NATO's nuclear posture review;
· Once again, Europe seems to be unable to take the lead in its own security and looks hopefully to the US for a positive outcome; maybe it will get it, maybe not;
· Of course I agree with Dr. Anthony when he says (and I quote) that "creating the conditions in which the stationing of US weapons in Europe can safely be ended might engage NATO and Russia"; the problem of course is how to avoid that Washington and Moscow, following an age-old tradition, discuss bilaterally the future of our security; the debate about the fate of US tactical nukes in Europe has to link up with the one concerning the ability of Europeans to create their own security narrative, which does not include nuclear weapons, but rather allows Europe to effectively deal with the threats of the 21th century;


· As for the discussions on NATO's nuclear weapons in the context of the review of the Strategic Concept, I have to say that I am cautiously optimistic; I think the Declaration on Alliance Security that came out of the Strasbourg/Kehl Summit contains some positive clues about the terms of the debate on the Strategic Concept;
· It still states that (quote) "Deterrence, based on an appropriate mix of nuclear and conventional capabilities, remains a core element of our overall strategy." This is a standard formula on the role of nuclear and conventional forces in Alliance policy; it is not surprising, since no one really expects the new Strategic Concept to abandon nuclear deterrence;
· Nevertheless, one other classical NATO formula is missing; the following sentence, or some version of it, is normally part of any NATO statement on its nuclear posture: "Nuclear forces based in Europe and committed to NATO provide an essential political and military link between the European and the North American members of the Alliance. The Alliance will therefore maintain adequate nuclear forces in Europe." This time this idea is absent;
· Does this mean that the new Strategic Concept will downgrade nuclear weapons in NATO's Strategy? Will it allow for the withdrawal of some or all of the US tactical nukes from Europe? Also interesting is the fact that in the Declaration, the sentence on deterrence is immediately followed by a sentence on disarmament; it says that "NATO will continue to play its part in reinforcing arms control and promoting nuclear and conventional disarmament in accordance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, as well as non-proliferation efforts."
· In short, the language on nuclear weapons has substantially changed in comparison with the 1999 Strategic Concept - let's see whether, and how much, this new tone will inform the new Strategic Concept;
· A final remark about Strasbourg/Kehl; the Summit Communiqué's language on Ballistic Missile Defence is also encouraging; gone is the gung-ho language that came out of last year's Bucharest Summit; the Allies now agreed to say that (quote)

"In response to our tasking at the Bucharest Summit to develop options for a comprehensive missile defence architecture to extend coverage to all European Allied territory and populations, several technical architecture options were developed and subsequently assessed from a politico-military perspective. We recognise that additional work is still required. In this context, a future United States' contribution of important architectural elements could enhance NATO elaboration of this Alliance effort."

· President Obama is clearly leaving all options open;
· It is clear that with the policy shift in the US a lot has become possible; but it would be important to feel that Europeans also have a vision for their nuclear arsenals;
· How will the UK deal with a possible US nuclear retrenchment from Europe? Will France continue to protect its own strategic force de frappe from the trend of financial cutbacks and increasing Europeanization that has marked the reform of its conventional forces? What will Paris and London's response be to a successful nuclear disarmament Treaty between Washington and Moscow?;
· All these questions remain unanswered;
· The 2010 NPT Review Conference will be a decisive test: it will reveal whether the Western nuclear powers are really serious about nuclear disarmament; and the rewards could be huge: while no one expects Iran or North Korea to suddenly give up their nuclear programmes just because Russia, the US , the UK and France are reducing their nuclear arsenals, that is hardly the point;
· What is decisive is to convince countries like Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, Indonesia, or Turkey, that nuclear weapons are losing their strategic value and that the West is coherent in its application of the NPT; this Review Conference will therefore be a unique opportunity to build a global alliance against the worst proliferators;
· And, of course, no nuclear disarmament-slash-non-proliferation strategy can be complete without bringing India, Pakistan and Israel into the fold; we can only hope that a robust involvement in the Middle East conflict by the US will help create the conditions for Israel to reduce its reliance on a nuclear deterrent; the same can be said of the India-Pakistan conflict;
· In the end, the important thing to remember is that none of the threats currently facing Europe (and described in the 2003 European Security Strategy) can usefully be fought with nuclear weapons, or even the threat of their use: proliferation of WMD, terrorism, regional conflicts, organized crime and state failure are all immune to nuclear postures originally designed to prevent Soviet tanks from crashing into Western Germany;
· NATO and its financially challenged nuclear-armed states will have to face up to that fact sooner or later.

Bruxelas, 15 de Abril de 2009
Intervenção em colóquio organizado pela Fundação Friedrich Ebert

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