New Proposal for Nuclear Arms-Control Suggested
"Can non-nuclear countries make an independent contribution to nuclear arms control?" While conventional wisdom and traditional politics suggest the answer to be a clear "No", political scientists working at the Berlin Information-center for Transatlantic Security (BITS) present a different conclusion. Two days before NATO Foreign Ministers discuss an Alliance report on future options for arms-control, disarmament and non-proliferation, a Policy Note, published by BITS, recommends: Non-nuclear NATO members, prepared and ready to use US nuclear weapons under NATO nuclear sharing arrangements during times of war could and should declare this option obsolete. "Today six non-nuclear NATO members do participate in these arrangements," says Markus Nitschke, one of the authors. "Many US nuclear weapons deployed in Europe serve this purpose." Up to ten B-61 Model 10 nuclear weapons are deployed at Buechel Airbase for use with German Tornado aircraft, if released by the US-President. Similar deployments exist in Belgium, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.
"By giving up the technical capability to use US nuclear weapons, the six non-nuclear NATO countries could transmit a very important message", says Otfried Nassauer, director of BITS. "The role of nuclear weapons is declining. This is a positive signal for US-Russian negotiations on the next steps of nuclear disarmament and last but not least, it safeguards and strengthens the nuclear non-proliferation regime."
The policy note argues that the political and military reasoning, which led to equipping non-nuclear Allies with a capability to use nuclear weapons 30-40 years ago, is no longer valid. In parts it even puts the credibility of NATOs declared policies under risk. "Why should NATOs new members believe in Alliance statements, that they are equally protected by nuclear deterrence and equally eligible to contribute to NATOs nuclear policy, while other non-nuclear NATO members still believe, that they need an actual capability to employ US nuclear weapons to make their voice sufficiently heard in the Alliance?" asks Otfried Nassauer. "We are well aware, that this is still a taboo. However, taboos do have a limited serviceable life-time, too."
NATOs North Atlantic Council will discuss an interim report on future options for confidence and security building measures, arms-control, disarmament and non-proliferation by the end of this week. The report is widely believed to be an important signal for the upcoming Nuclear Posture Review to be conducted by the next US-administration in 2001.
For additional information or a full copy of the Policy Note (in German) please contact the authors, Otfried.Nassauer and Markus.Nitschke, at BITS +49 30 446858-0 or fax +49-30-4410221. An English language abstract will become available shortly.
You can also download the Policy Note from the web: www.bits.de/public/policynote/pn00-7.htm