Project on European Nuclear Non-Proliferation (PENN)
PENN Newsletter No. 12 / October 2000


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


Dear Friends

the new PENN newsletter arrives with you at an intriguing moment. The General Assembly of the United Nations is voting on proposed resolutions. For the first time the New Agenda Coalition resolution on strengthening nuclear disarmament might be supported by non-nuclear member states of NATO. NATO itself is in the final stages of preparing a review of the Alliance's arms control and non- proliferation policies. In December NATO ministers will have to decide whether to make some constructive input to the coming US nuclear posture review to be conducted by the next president of the United States. And the new president will be elected in less than two weeks time. Finally, the European Union is moving towards a security and defense policy of its own. On November 20 the EU will decide on the details of the composition of its military crisis- management forces. In December it hopes to have interim arrangements for cooperation with NATO in place. Also by December the EU hopes to be ready to decide on the future of the WEU and the Union's internal preparations for enlargement. These developments surely do have one thing in common: They will shape important elements of the future European Security environment.


  • Analysis

NATO’s Arms Control Review - Options for Change

During the Washington Summit in April 1999 NATO committed itself to review the Alliance’s arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament policies. In early September 2000 a first draft for internal discussions was presented. By December NATO Foreign Ministers are expected to discuss an initial report on future options.

NATO’s members are facing an important choice. On the one hand they can help to make progress possible towards future steps of nuclear disarmament and thus help to safe-guard and strengthen the existing non-proliferation regimes. On the other hand they can fail to do so and thus strengthen trends to give nuclear weapons a wider role for the future and eventually give priority to fighting the results of proliferation by military means over preventing proliferation to occur. During its spring meetings the Alliance did not exclude the second option, when adopting a new military strategy labeled MC 400/2.

The scope of the review undertaken by the Alliance has been and still is somewhat controversial. While some Alliance members prefer a more limited approach, others would like to see this process become a full scale review of the Alliance’s nuclear policy and posture. However, any review of substance will eventually lead towards renewed efforts to discuss the Alliance’s (nuclear) strategy and posture. Even more, there is a need for such a discussion as the Alliance’s 1998/99 strategy review on the one hand fell victim to the Kosovo war and thus did not produce much of the necessary debate. On the other hand, it produced a debate whether the role of NATO’s nuclear arsenal should be widened to cope with all WMD threats.

Arms Control Options

NATO is neither a nuclear power nor a state party to existing arms-control agreements or involved in any negotiations that might lead to future arms-control treaties. The Alliance’s room to manoeuvre is thus limited on the one hand and dependent on nuclear member states’ actions on the other hand. However, three of the declared nuclear weapon states are members of NATO, two are involved in formulating the Alliance’s nuclear policy and thus there is no other multilateral institution which could hypothetically influence the future of nuclear arms-control to the same degree as NATO could. NATO is also unique in binding together several nuclear and several non-nuclear weapon states within one alliance. This gives NATO’s deliberations on the future of nuclear arms-control a very specific role.

In its current review the Alliance should concentrate on a limited number of changes that, however, could make a real difference. Five specific suggestions should be evaluated:

  • NATO should strengthen its commitment to include sub-strategic nuclear weapons into arms-control regimes. The Alliance should commit itself to support negotiations and the conclusion of a START-3 Treaty, equivalent to a Comprehensive (nuclear) Arms-Reduction Treaty (CART) at the earliest date possible. Such a treaty should build on the results of the 1997 Helsinki Summit and set a single upper limit for all nuclear warheads allowed for the future. "All" should indeed mean "all" and thus encompass strategic as well as non-strategic warheads, regardless whether they are active, hedge or reserve. Both, Russia and the United States should have a "freedom to mix" their remaining warheads from different categories, when accounting against this single upper limit. The limit itself could be set anywhere between 1.500 – 2.500 warheads.

  • The Alliance should not exclude the option of conducting unilateral initiatives in support of reaching such a bilateral agreement. It should adopt a number of confidence and security building measures and initiatives which might ease the achievement of the goal described in the first suggestion. Among the steps that might prove helpful are:

a) a major initiative to increase transparency on sub-strategic nuclear weapons, their deployment and nuclear doctrine, possibly conducted under the auspices of the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council;

b) an offer to Russia indicating that sub-strategic nuclear weapon deployments in Europe might no longer be necessary once this category of nuclear weapons becomes subject to nuclear arms control;

c) an indication to the Russian Federation that the same is true for sea-based sub-strategic nuclear weapons currently deployed in the US but retained in active status;

d) some strengthened NATO commitment to permanently ban the deployment of sub-strategic nuclear weapons on the territories of all new members to NATO;

e) Finally, NATO should approach Russia over her reluctance to discuss sub-strategic weapons which in part could result from Russian fears not to possess all details necessary for a data-exchange likely to be part of any treaty that includes these weapons. An offer allowing for consecutive but narrowing error margins throughout a sequence of data exchanges could meet this concern, if it indeed exists.

  • NATO should consider to reintroduce the Alliance’s 1990 London language perceiving nuclear weapons as "weapons of last resort". To make the meaning of this term perfectly clear, it should be defined as "an extreme circumstance of self-defence, in which the very survival of a (member) State would be at stake". This language is modeled after the single case of nuclear use or threat, which was not declared illegal by the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice in 1996. In addition, the Alliance might consider issuing a Negative Security Assurance of its own to non-nuclear states. It is crucial that the Alliance makes clear that there is no role for nuclear weapons in the Alliance’s nuclear doctrine to threaten the use or use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states.

  • NATO should consider to announce a review of the Alliance’s 1992 Gleneagles "Political Principles for Nuclear Planning and Consultations" to the effect of reducing the role of nuclear weapons in the Alliance´s strategy;

  • Finally, the Alliance members should initiate a substantial program to assist Russia in dismantling her arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons. This might include financial as well as technical assistance. However, all precautions should been taken so that this program does not become subject to the same type of Russian suspicions that the US Co-operative Threat Reduction program became subject to. This may require that the program be handled and supervised not by NATO as a whole but by one or several non-nuclear NATO nations.

In addition, NATO should clearly declare its support for the 2000 NPT-Review Conference’s program of strengthening nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. It should explore options for co-operation with Russia in strengthening existing non-proliferation regimes and thus reduce the demand for both wide area theatre ballistic missile defenses as well as national missile defenses.

Beyond Nuclear Arms Control

However, beyond the nuclear issue at least two other aspects need to be considered in NATO’s arms control review. Both will have immense impact on the future of European security and stability: The conventional balance in Europe and new concerns resulting from missile defenses.

Superior Western conventional forces and NATO enlargement have caused concerns about the overall strategic stability in the European region. Russia began to mirror NATO’s cold war doctrine of flexible response, which compensated numerical conventional inferiority by reliance on tactical nuclear weapons and a first use doctrine. In order to change the Russian perception the basics of the CFE-process must be reassessed.

CFE is in a crisis. No signatory nation has ratified CFE-2 since it was signed almost a year ago. The guiding principle for CFE-2 became "flexibility" for reinforcements as opposed to stability (i.e. avoiding sudden force concentrations capable to attack) in CFE-1. In addition, CFE-2 does not truly reflect the changes to the European political geography that came about with the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union. The Russian South is Moscow’s greatest concern since the limitations of CFE flank agreements forced Russia to agree to a flexibility oriented approach while national interest would have dictated a stability oriented approach.

NATO could make a substantial contribution to the future of European security by rethinking the basics of CFE and begin to develop a new stability oriented approach to European conventional arms control. The Alliance has been deeply involved in framing the existing agreements. It is in a very advantageous position and should be able to rethink both the numeric limitations imposed and the geographic outline underlying the treaty. A commitment to consult with Russia for the ideas for changes necessary could prove helpful and represent a confidence building measure.

The other non-nuclear issue of concern is NMD. Here again, the Alliance has no direct, but an indirect say. NATO is not a party to the ABM treaty. However, it has become very clear that Russia fears that strategic stability (i.e. deterrence based on the capability for mutual destruction and the combination of rough parity and mutual vulnerability) is coming under severe pressure from the combination of developing US missile defense capabilities and increasing first-strike capabilities resulting from the modernization of the US Trident fleet.

While NATO does not have a say over the national US decision on whether and when to deploy missile defenses, the delay of this decision into the next US-Presidency allows for time, during which the Alliance could

  1. undertake an in-depth analysis of the consequences of missile defenses for strategic stability, the future of bilateral and multilateral arms control as well as for the future of the existing non-proliferation regimes;

  2. seriously consider the consequences of indicating a (gradual) shift in priorities from prohibiting proliferation towards militarily fighting its consequences; and

  3. explore the option for joint initiatives with Russia to effectively strengthen the non-proliferation regimes and allow for the postponement of the decision in principle on whether to give up the ABM treaty or not. The Alliance’s review of its arms control and non-proliferation politics should prepare an initial review of these questions and thus help to prepare the ground for the wider debate necessary.      ON



Ending European Nuclear Sharing

All NATO members are busily reviewing the Alliance’s arms control and disarmament policy in search of interim results to be presented during the December Ministerial. During this process some of NATO’s non-nuclear European allies that currently host US nuclear weapons on their territory for use with their own Air Forces are facing the challenge to decide whether they are prepared to make their own contribution to strengthen nuclear arms control and non-proliferation. They could consider giving up the technical capability to use these weapons, either unilaterally or as a group of states. Nevertheless, these countries would continue to contribute to the Alliance’s nuclear planning and consultation process. Ending European technical nuclear sharing would have an important impact on a number of current arms control and NATO issues.

First and foremost, this step could help to finally initiate the long awaited bilateral negotiations between the United States and Russia on sub-strategic nuclear weapons. The step would signal to Moscow a reduced European reliance on nuclear deterrence and the American nuclear presence in Europe. It would also indicate a European understanding for Russia’s perception that these weapons are an add-on to US strategic capabilities. Thus, this step might help to overcome the Russian reluctance to enter such negotiations. The step could trigger a treaty-based elimination of sub-strategic nuclear weapons from Europe. A unilateral retreat of these non-nuclear countries from the capability to employ nuclear weapons would be a substantial confidence and security building measure in NATO-Russia relations. It could open the opportunity to de-nuclearize their relationships with both NATO and Russia.

Second, the move would alter NATO’s traditional internal debates in two ways. On the one hand, it would be a clear signal that trans-atlantic cohesion is primarily based on common interests and politics, not nuclear weapons. NATO’s new members are said to be fully protected by the nuclear umbrella even though the Alliance is politically committed to neither deploy nuclear weapons on their territories nor train their military forces to use them. If this is true for the new members, it is also true for any member. Being a member of NATO, not having the capability to employ nuclear weapons, brings the Alliance´s nuclear umbrella into their security equation. Thus the debate about different classes of membership and different levels of security would finally come to an end. On the other hand, all NATO members are eligible to participate in NATO nuclear planning and consultations independent of the size and character of their contribution to NATO’s nuclear posture. Countries giving up the technical capability to employ nuclear weapons in times of war do not lose their say in NATO nuclear affairs. Canada deliberately gave up the capability to use US nuclear weapons after the end of the Cold War, but retained its seat in the Nuclear Planning Group. If all non-nuclear members would agree that the status of the new members and Canada is sufficient to guarantee their security and say in NATO’s nuclear decision-making, this might help them to develop a common understanding on the future role and relevance of nuclear weapons in NATO.

Third, all claims and suspicions that NATO nuclear sharing violates the spirit or the letter of the NPT would come to an end. NATO’s members would no longer retain the option to transfer the control of nuclear weapons over to non-nuclear weapon states in times of war. The Alliance’s overall commitment to the non-proliferation regime would thus be strengthened.

Finally, one possible reasoning behind the continued deployment of US sub-strategic weapons in Europe would be reduced. The presence of aging American gravity bombs on the territory of European allies might be maintained mainly to keep an option to deploy modernized nuclear systems if required in future. If all non-nuclear European NATO countries would no longer see any requirement for these weapons, the room to manoeuvre for those hoping to modernize them in future would become more limited. Support for the removal of these weapons already is to be expected from some influential quarters in the American military and defense establishment.      MN & ON



Russia Downsizes Its Nuclear Forces

Recent decisions taken by Russia’s influential National Security Council indicate that the Russian Federation is about to cut her strategic nuclear forces to below future START-2 levels independently of whether the United States is to conduct similar steps. Latest by 2010 they will carry no more than 1.000-1.500 warheads.

According to press reports on the Council meetings, the Strategic Rocket Forces (SRF) will be reduced to 12 divisions by 2006. Further cuts have been suggested. The Russian ICBM force is the largest and operationally most valuable part of Russia’s nuclear deterrent. It might account for no more than 400-500 missiles by the end of 2007, the year when the START-2 Treaty requires fulfillment.

The SRF will lose control over the Military Space Force and the Missile Space Forces by 2002, gained only three years ago. They will be turned into a service arm and no longer be an independent branch of the armed forces. By 2006 they will be integrated into the Air Force.

These decisions are part of a wider restructuring of the Russian Armed Forces, which will be reduced from 1.2 million soldiers to 850.000 in 2003. The number of soldiers and civilian defense employees outside the Defense Ministry will be cut by 250.000 during the years to come.

Russia’s strategic nuclear forces even though financially pampered during the term of their former Commander in Chief, Igor Sergeyev, as Minister of Defense are deteriorating quickly. "I knew that the situation was critical, but I never expected it to be so catastrophic", stated Russian President Putin, while visiting the Northern Fleet in the aftermath of the sinking of the Kursk submarine. And indeed it is. Russia’s military has lived for almost nine years on its substance. The Kremlin knows well that it can not maintain strategic nuclear forces meeting the level allowed under START-2 and Prime Minister Kasyanov has announced that they will be cut back to "the minimum level of nuclear arms necessary for Russia".

"We spend colossal sums of money on the military", said the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, when during a September National Security Council meeting another debate on the future of reforming Russia’s military was held. Putin’s remarks indicate his clear desire not to boost military spending over higher-ranking priorities of government spending such as repairing the energy-infrastructure of his vast empire.

The situation will not become better anytime soon. Russia’s defense budget for 2001 will be significantly less than one third of Germany’s defense expenditure and about one thirtieth of US defense spending. The growth potential is limited. The budget of the Russian Federation amounts to a smaller sum than the West German Laender are to spend in support of the New East German Laender in the same period of time. There is simply not enough money to maintain Russia’s strategic nuclear forces at a level competitive with the United States.

While Russia’s ICBM force officially continues to consist of an impressive number of more than 776 strategic nuclear missiles, the reality is much different. Russian SS-18, SS-19 an SS-24 missiles are aging quickly. Repeated service life extension programs keep some of them operational for extended periods. However, since many of the companies who produced them or key spare parts are now lying outside the Russian borders, maintenance has become increasingly complicated. Only 20 of the new silo-based SS-27 Topol-M ICBMs have become operational over the last two years. The program faces another delay this year and is running much slower than anticipated. The SS-27 was finally accepted by the Armed Forces earlier this year. Plans to deploy a less vulnerable road-mobile version of this missile have been delayed several times. Finally a first flight test with the new version SS-27 was successfully undertaken in September.

The situation in the Navy is even worse. Of formerly 62 SSBN submarines only 26 are accounted as operational by the Russian Navy. In reality the figure might be as low as 13. Reportedly, the Kremlin decided in March that a future force of 12 SSBN might be sufficient. During 1999 the Russian Navy was happy when capable to deploy at least one SSBN at sea with both, the Pacific and the Northern fleet, at any time. Of six Typhoon SSBNs at least three are in-operational, the future of the others is in doubt. Russian Delta IV submarines are undergoing much delayed overhaul. While seven have been built, six are operational. The serviceable lifetime for these boats is shortened by reduced overhaul. The factory building their SS-N-23 missiles is closed since 1996. Four of the six Delta III class boats seem to be still operational. Some other boats may be still in reserve. however they are not currently used for either patrol or training at sea. The new Borey class submarine program has come under much trouble as has the program for developing a new sea-launched ballistic missile. The future of both remains uncertain.

The Air Force has about 55 Tu95MS Bear H bombers and works to finally bring together a fleet of about 16-20 Tu-160 Blackjacks. It has agreed to take over a number of aircraft from the Ukraine and funds to finish the construction of three aircraft at the Kazan manufacturing site. New air-launched nuclear cruise missiles are under development. However, the bomber force is generally perceived as the weakest part of Russia’s deterrent.

Most interestingly, again no changes have been publicly announced in respect to Russia’s tactical nuclear forces. Thousands are still operational. Figures vary from more than 10.000 (Western sources) to as few as approximately 2.000 (Alexei Arbatov). However their role and future becomes increasingly unclear. Many of these weapons are approaching the end of their operational lifetime over the years to come or have already reached it. However, Moscow prefers to neither mention nor officially downsize this part of its operational takeout of service nuclear posture. Probably the Kremlin has decided to quietly dismantle these weapons according to its own schedule and resources while being uninfluenced by either verification, financial pressures or time constraints. ON



CESDP on the Road to Nice

The last two months of the current French Presidency of the EU are going to witness a number of important decisions on the development of its military capability to conduct its own operations in the fields of crisis management, peacekeeping and humanitarian operations. Over the last four Presidencies the EU has been establishing the principles and modalities for a CESDP (Common European Security and Defence Policy). Now a new phase is beginning in which these guidelines will be lent substance with the joint acquisition of capabilities and the finalization of concrete agreements.

In the first place, at the Capabilities Commitment Conference of the 20th of next month EU members and third countries will define which assets they will make available to support the Rapid Reaction Force. According to the military Headline Goal of set at Helsinki, by 2003 the EU should have established a 50.-60.000 strong force to be mobilized within 60 days and deployable for a year for the conduct of Petersberg missions.

Secondly, the joint EU-NATO working groups tasked with elaborating the modalities for relations between both institutions are expected to have finalized their proposals by the European Council Summit in Nice next December. The work of all of these working groups - with the exception of the second one - essentially consists in renegotiating the arrangements concluded between NATO and WEU only a few years ago, and has to be seen in the context of the competencies transfer from WEU to the EU. The first working group has to conclude a security arrangement to govern information exchange and access by EU officials to NATO planning structures. The resulting arrangement will replace an interim agreement already in place that only allows for a limited information exchange. Concerns have been raised about to what extent the classification of documents is compatible with transparency standards within the EU. In the second working group, NATO military experts are assisting the EU on the implementation of the Headline Goal. Making use of NATO expertise can only have a positive effect on the relationship between both organizations, particularly in view of certain signs of mistrust towards the development of an EU military capability displayed by some NATO members. A third working group is tasked with defining arrangements for EU access to NATO assets. This issue can be particularly delicate, since it includes defining suitable scenarios for operations having recourse to these capabilities, the participation of non - EU members of NATO and the question of whether NATO could recuperate its assets in the middle of an EU operation if it needs them for a mission of its own. Given that the EU will not be able to conduct major operations without NATO assets for the foreseeable future, it would not be surprising that the Union chooses to conclude only interim arrangements in the hope that it will be in a better position to enter a permanent agreement once its security structures are in place. Finally, the fourth group has to work out permanent arrangements governing the interaction of both organizations. In parallel to these negotiations, meetings between the North Atlantic Council and the interim Political and Security Committee have already commenced.

However, internal questions need to be addressed. The EU still has to undertake a clear delimitation of the competencies between the Commissioner for External Relations and the High Representative for CFSP, and arrange full coordination among all elements of civilian crisis management on the one side and civilian-military coherence on the other side. Competencies overlapping could lead to duplication or even to the (abhorred) paralysis of EU action when it is needed. Finally, it seems that the destiny of the mutual defense commitment enshrined in Article 5 of the Brussels Treaty, a question of special importance as the Union needs to re-define its nature with a view to enlargement, has been left out of the agenda for an indefinite period of time.   CP



Squabbles about a European (Nuclear) Collective Defense

Amidst rushing towards an autonomous European military crisis management capability during the summer, some influential Europeans still find the time to look at the longer-term future of a Collective European Defense.

Romano Prodi, the President of the European Commission, risked the first shot when visiting Lithuania. He mentioned that the members of the EU would consider an attack on one of its members to be an attack on all of them. Prodi’s statement exactly reflected a long-standing wording used among NATO members to express their commitment to collective defense. While the EU's Amsterdam Treaty does not yet contain the legal authority to plan beyond collective military crisis-management, Prodi’s words reflected the fact that EU members are unlikely to do nothing in the event that one of the Union member states should be attacked.

Next came an international group of influential defense and security experts brought together by the Bertelsmann-Foundation to draft the Venusberg-Report on "Enhancing the European Union as an International Security Actor". The report suggested dividing the development of a truly European Security and Defense Policy into two fifteen year periods. The first would enable the EU to conduct autonomous crisis-management operations, the second would be devoted to developing a collective defense capability.

Last, but not least, the French Foreign Minister, Hubert Vedrine, gave a remarkable interview in Italy’s "La Repubblica" newspaper. Asked whether France might be willing to renounce its nuclear military power in the name of united Europe he said: "To assure the credibility of dissuasion, there is a need for a single dissuader who can affirm in a convincing way: ‘If you threaten the vital interests of my country, you will in turn expose yourself to a vital risk." Talking about Europe, Vedrine added: "Maybe one day this question will formulate itself in these terms. Today it is not that way. Neither France or Great Britain have a place in this logic."       ON



An USO in the Making - Introducing Secrecy into the EU CESD-Policy

On July 26 the Permanent Representatives to the Council of Europe (COREPER) agreed to accept a proposal by Javier Solana, the EU High Representative for the CFSP, to rewrite the 1993 rules for public access to EU documents. By August 14 the proposal had been adopted by written procedure with an 11 to 4 majority by the EU member states. It came into effect on August 23, when published in the Official Journal. While Solana’s proposal had been formally justified by the necessity to implement some system to protect classified information to be exchanged with NATO in case of crisis management operations, de facto it excludes a wide range and whole classes of formerly open EU-documents from public access. If fully implemented the new code might well turn the Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy as well as the CESDP into an USO, an Unidentifiable Submerged Object.

The 1993 rules for public access to EU documents had been an unprecedented experiment in transparency. Since, public access to EU documents and Council of Europe decision-making had made substantial progress. The EU, often criticized for a lack of transparency in the past, since was considered to become an example for a better accountability. EU documents could only be withheld from the public if classified as secret or top secret and only by a case by case basis and on specific reasons. Access to many documents was eased by the EU institutions setting up large databases of documents accessible through the internet. In addition, the Helsinki European Council meeting in 1999 decided to make bibliographic reference publicly available for those documents being classified. However, this decision was never implemented.

The new version turns the code into a system to protect documents on security, defense, military and non-military crisis-management from public access. Documents to be withheld in the future will include classifications top secret, secret and confidential. Any document belonging to a batch of documents containing classified documents might be withheld, too. If information contained originates e.g. from NATO or the US, documents can only be released after prior written approval from this source. The categories of documents to become subject to the new procedure are neither clearly nor narrowly defined and thus might be used to maximize the information excluded from public access.

On September 22 and 28 the Netherlands and Sweden have decided to take the Council to the European Court of Justice over the decision prepared by Solana. Both countries had been among the four nations that opposed the initiative (DK and FI were the other two). The European Parliament Legal Affairs Committee suggested the same action, based on Articles 255 and 28 of the Amsterdam Treaty. The latter Article stipulates explicitly that Common Foreign and Security Policy documents are not exempted from Article 255 that demands for public availability.      ON

For further information on this subject and the related documents please point your browser to: and look at the news-section.



New US Mini-Nukes in the Making?

Some US lawmakers obviously feel a commitment to work on overturning the commitment issued during the 2000 NPT Review Conference by all acknowledged nuclear weapon states to finally eliminate their nuclear postures. Republican Senators Warner and Allard ensured that the FY 2001 Defense Authorization Bill allows to study new concepts for low yield mini-nukes, having an explosive yield of less than five kilotons.

The provision, if it was to become law, would also represent a move to finally overcome a section of the 1993 "National Defense Authorization Act for FY 1994", which stipulates: "It shall be the policy of the United States not to conduct research and development which could lead to the production by the United States of a new low yield nuclear weapon, including a precision low-yield warhead." This legislation was introduced to stop the development of a new generation of nuclear warheads for use in Third World conflicts.

Recent attempts to come back to the low-yield mini-nuke idea were also supported by Stephen Younger, the Deputy Director of the Los Alamos Laboratory, who outlined scenario’s for a 2020 US nuclear posture in a June 2000 paper entitled "Nuclear Weapons in the 21st Century". Younger’s main argument for the introduction of such a new generation of nuclear weapons is that current high yield weapons might often produce a collateral damage sufficient to result in self-deterrence as a consequence. He argues that there are entire classes of hardened and deeply buried targets that could be destroyed by such weapons, while the use of higher yield warheads with all likelihood would not be considered for political reasons. He believes that robust, smaller and easy to maintain Uranium-based gun type assemblies of nuclear weapons can be build without the need to nuclear testing. All this should make them highly attractive for future US administrations since with reduced overall numbers of US nuclear weapons a smaller nuclear weapons production and maintenance complex might be needed.

The case for the new mini-nuke is an old one. As early as in 1992 it was made in papers written for Los Alamos and others in the US defense establishment. A 1992 research paper prepared by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) consulting the Space and Defense Sector of TRW makes more or less identical arguments: "It is generally accepted that the US would not employ ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, or aircraft delivered nuclear weapons having large yields and relatively poor accuracy to achieve destruction of a smaller number of important targets during regional conflicts such as Iraq-Desert Storm", stated W.C. Yengst, the author. He claimed there was "a compelling need to develop a low-yield nuclear weapon", to be employed "with surgical precision and with sufficiently low collateral damage", which could bring a conflict to "a prompt and satisfactory termination". Yengst desiderated sets of targets for which such weapons would be ideal and made a strong argument in favor of specifically developing very low yield deep earth penetrating warheads. Colleagues of his joined in by adding other scenarios in which such weapons might be useful. For example a presentation of Deedee White of SAIC made the case for such weapons being useful when attacking "large area targets" such as nuclear research facilities, airports or a petroleum refinery during "third world contingencies".

While the final fate of the most recent initiative to restart the development of a new generation of nuclear weapons in the US remains to be seen, the likely consequences are obvious. If introduced, requirements for larger numbers of smaller weapons might hamper future cuts into nuclear postures. In addition, a signal will be given to the non-nuclear members to the NPT indicating that the US seems unprepared to eliminate nuclear weapons for several decades to come.      ON



The New NATO WMD Center

At the end of May 2000, after more than a year of negotiations, the awaited Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Center was finally opened at NATO HQ. The mandate for the Center stems from the Washington Summit in 1999 and is part of the WMD Initiative, a NATO effort to ‘respond more effectively to the challenges of proliferation’.

The WMD Center was created to support the Senior Political-Military Group on Proliferation (SPG) in overseeing the WMD Initiative. The official tasks of the Center are to ‘improve co-ordination of WMD-related activities, as well as strengthen consultations on non-proliferation, arms control, and disarmament issues’.

How has this been translated from theory to practice? It took much negotiation within the Alliance to find common ground on what the nature and function of its WMD Center would be. According to NATO sources, differences in opinion arose over a multitude of major issues such as the size of the office, through what administrative office it should be run and how proactive it should be with own initiative taking. Another big issue turned out to be turf-related. Should the center conduct intelligence-related activities and thus possibly compete with the Intelligence Division within IMS (International Military Staff)? It is worth noting that the Washington Communiqué did not mention the word ‘intelligence’ in the Center’s mandate.

Nature of the WMD Center:

The Center is part of the Political Affairs division and is staffed by three professional staff, an assistant and six national experts, who joined the Center in September. An interesting feature of the Center is that it is run within the existing budget of the NATO HQ secretariat. Thus no extra personnel costs result for the Alliance. The IMS members were taken from other offices and the six experts are provided by the member states.

What the WMD Center will do, and not do:

In practice, the Center will gather information from open sources (publicly available information) and from national position papers. It will then incorporate its own research to ultimately produce its own papers and initiate discussion within the Alliance on WMD threat assessment and other relevant topics under the heading of non-proliferation. According to one NATO source, the Center is restricted to focusing on WMD threats as they pertain to the protection of military forces. That is, the Center will not deal with WMD issues in the context of protection of NATO populations against the threats of WMD.

Interestingly, there exists a body within NATO to address the issue of threats of WMD to populations, the Senior Defense Group on Proliferation (DGP). One of the tasks of the DGP is to ‘address the military capabilities needed to… deter threats or use of NBC [nuclear, biological and chemical] weapons and protect NATO populations, territory and forces’. [Emphasis added] The WMD Center will not support the work of the DGP to address the threats of these weapons on NATO populations.

Furthermore, the public information strategy envisioned by the Washington Communiqué will not be one of the tasks for the Center, as was hoped by some Allies. The concern of some Allies was reportedly that the WMD Center would become a NATO forum for member states, especially the United States, to publicly voice their national views on the issues of WMD proliferation.

How will the NATO WMD Center fit into the global non-proliferation regime and what impact, if any, will it have? In cutting out the public information component, the impact on public awareness and the overall contribution to the global debate on proliferation will obviously be limited. In addition, this will not help changing the perception of some of NATO as a closed organization. The WMD Center’s work did not officially start until the arrival of the national experts in September, but has since then, according to one NATO source, already produced useful papers supporting the work by the Senior Political-Military Group on Proliferation.      TS


  • PENN - Suggestes Readings

Subscription of NATO-Notes

PENN’s member CESD has been producing an electronic newsletter named "NATO Notes" for about one year. The newsletter reports about recent security policy related developments at NATO, the EU and other Brussels-based organizations. To get an impression about the type of reporting, read the article on NATO’s new Weapons of Mass Destruction Center in this PENN-Newsletter. It was originally prepared for NATO Notes. If you do not already receive it, please feel invited to subscribe to it. You can do so by sending an email to and see older versions at


  • From the Network

The 'NATO Five Plus' Parliamentarians Meeting in The Hague

The Netherlands, together with Belgium, Germany, Italy and Norway form a 'dissident' group in NATO, in the sense that they agree with the New Agenda Coalition that more steps need to be taken towards nuclear disarmament. Canada, although not part of the group, can be considered an associate because of its public criticisms of present NATO nuclear policy. At the NPT Review conference the five acted as a kind of intermediary between the nuclear weapons states and the NAC. The Netherlands and Norway took the lead in these initiatives. It is generally recognized that the five played an important part in making the successful conclusion of the NPT review conference possible. Ahead is the NAC resolution in the UN (to be voted on at the end of October) and the NATO ministerials in December, where a report on the 'paragraph 32' process will be presented. This process will to some degree evaluate NATO nuclear policy. This is important at this time, because of the promises made at the NPT review conference, which were agreed on by all the NATO member states. The 'para 32 process' may well be stifled in bureaucratic inertia and opposition by the nuclear weapons states in NATO, unless it is encouraged through parliamentary pressure in the countries concerned.

For that reason PENN, together with the Netherlands section of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and Parliamentarians for Global Action, is organizing a conference of parliamentarians from the 'NATO Five' and Canada on Friday 3 November in the Netherlands parliament in The Hague. The meeting will bring together 'NATO Five' parliamentarians, NGO representatives, the diplomatic community in the Hague and government officials. They will participate in a one day conference addressed by experts on NATO nuclear and NPT issues, and will discuss further cooperation with each other.           KK


Staff News

Again a number of staff changes have taken place in the PENN-network. At CESD Christopher Bollinghaus left for the UK Ministry of Defense. Thomas Sköld has taken over producing NATO Notes. In addition, Jens Mosegaard is now working at CESD. At BITS, Denise Groves left for the Conflict Prevention Network of the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik and Steffen Wagner left for the German Association of the Electronic Industries. Markus Nitschke comes in and will work on some PENN related issues. PENN Nederlande has a second staff member for quite some time. His name is Stijn van der Putte. We apologize for not welcoming him earlier. And finally, at BASIC-US, Theresa Hitchens has assumed the position of the Research Director.



  • Diary



7 Nov.

US Presidential & Congressional Elections

13 – 14 Nov.

Marseilles: EU Mediterranean Ministerial and Summit

16 Nov.

Marseilles: WEU-Ministerial

17 – 21 Nov.

Berlin: North Atlantic Assembly

23 Nov.

EU Ministerial with Future Members

27 – 28 Nov.

Vienna: OSCE Ministerial

4 – 6 Dec.

Paris: WEU-ESDA 46th Session, Second Part

5 – 6 Dec.

Brussels: NATO Defense Ministerial Meeting, EAPC, NATO-Russia PJC

7 – 8 Dec.

Nice: EU Summit, Heads of Governors Meeting

14 – 15 Dec.

Brussels: NATO Foreign Ministerial Meeting, EAPC, NATO-Russia PJC

18 Dec.

Washington: EU-US Summit



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


ViSdP / Responsibility at BITS: Otfried Nassauer (ON), Roman Michaels (copy editor) and authors indicated: Karel Koster (KK) - Working Group Eurobomb/PENN Netherlands, Markus Nitschke (MN) - BITS, Clara Portela-Sais (CP) - BITS, Thomas Sköld (TS) - Center for European Security and Disarmament (CESD).

ISSN 1434-4262