by NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller at the Seventh EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Conference

  • 18 Dec. 2018 -
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  • Last updated: 18 Dec. 2018 15:39

(As delivered)

Thank you, Jacek. Like Federica Mogherini, I am very sorry to have to leave so early. You know there is no place else I’d rather be – with so many friends and colleagues today and talking about these important issues. But this is budget time at NATO, and I’m afraid my current duties pull me in other directions that are not so natural to my professional background. But nonetheless I need to be present, so I apologise in advance.

I am very impressed that this is the 7th of these meetings. I cannot say that I was actually at the very first of those, but I did participate in some of the earlier meetings in my previous capacity. So I am delighted again to see that these meetings go from strength to strength. I see many truly excellent experts in the field around the room, and I know you’ll have a great discussion today. I take my hat off to you and your colleagues, Jacek, for organising this once again. The consortium has really been doing fantastic work, so thank you for that.

You know, it’s really great for me to have this opportunity to be here today because the dialogue and cooperation between NATO and the European Union have become ever more deep, lasting, and strong. My presence here reflects our shared commitment to a stronger global weapons of mass destruction non-proliferation system.

While both our organisations are based in Europe, today’s security challenges – and, especially, the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction – are global, so I welcome all the partner organisations represented here from around the world.

Of course, as a NATO senior official, you know I’m going to quote our latest Summit in July. I want to highlight the great statement the Brussels Summit delivered on arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation. Allies reiterated how important arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation are to achieving our security objectives. They are an equal partner, when they are done right, with measures for deterrence and defence.

And, of course, enhancing military transparency is a top priority. NATO is committed to strengthening and modernizing conventional arms control and confidence and security-building measures, such as the Vienna Document, as a cornerstone of Euro-Atlantic security. 

However, we have to acknowledge that the global security environment is under enormous pressure, and a lot of that is down to the policies and actions of the Russian Federation. Russia’s use of force against Ukraine came as a wake-up call, but they have been working against the global, rules-based order for longer than that.

Their invasion of Ukraine is only part of a broader pattern of behavior aimed at eroding the security architecture we are enjoying and have enjoyed since the end of the Cold War. Russia continues to seek recognition for their military presence in Georgia, they continue to ignore their obligations under the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, they continue to pose compliance concerns with regard to the Open Skies Treaty, and selectively implement the Vienna Document. Which brings me to the INF Treaty you’ve already heard about this morning.

Let’s be clear – Russia took steps a long time ago to violate the INF Treaty, betting that the West would fail to respond with unity, to stand together, to stand on principle. I first demarched my much-respected senior colleagues from the Russian Federation in May 2013 on this matter. So it has been an issue that two Administrations have worked very hard to pursue. In so violating the treaty, Russia bet, I think, that the West would fail to respond with unity. But Russia was wrong. Allies remain united in their desire to preserve the INF Treaty, but only if Russia returns to full and verifiable compliance by destroying their Treaty-violating missiles, launchers, and related equipment.

And yet, confronted with a choice between returning to compliance or throwing away the INF Treaty, Russia continues to distort and distract. All of NATO stands with the United States in support of their steadfast and consistent efforts, again, over two Administrations to bring Russia back to compliance. Russia has refused, despite collective NATO and individual Allied efforts to convince them to return to compliance. The demise of this vital Treaty, if it happens, lies solely on Russia’s shoulders.

But, beyond the INF Treaty, the threats posed by weapons of mass destruction are only increasing. Russia itself has used chemical weapons on NATO territory and sought to shield Syria from the consequences of unrestrained use of chemical weapons against its own citizens, in violation of its CWC treaty obligations as well as global norms that have existed for 100 years. This assertion of impunity for chemical weapons use has emboldened non-state actors to seek and use WMD, leaving us all worse off.

Going forward, I feel that we must tackle three urgent challenges:

First, the risk of nuclear weapons use has increased, with more in the hands of state actors. Allies must work to ensure deterrence functions effectively. 

And we must also work together to support the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the cornerstone of the multilateral nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime, in the run up to the critically important 2020 Review Conference – the 50th anniversary of the Treaty.

Ambassador Grossi, please know that NATO will do all we can do to help ensure your success.

Second, as I mentioned, chemical use by state actors in recent years requires a concerted international effort to restore the norm against chemical weapons acquisition and use that was born 100 years ago, right here in Belgium on the back of terrible CW use in places such as Ypres. That was 100 years ago – we just acknowledged the end of World War I this year. And the year before, 2017, was a year acknowledging the 100th anniversary of the use of chemical weapons at Ypres, so this is a norm that has its roots 100 years back, and it needs to be strengthened and re-emphasized.  I applaud the extraordinary work of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons for the work underway on attribution, and I welcome Ambassador Arias here today.

Third, the proliferation of ballistic and cruise missiles, particularly those of intermediate and long range, capable of delivering Weapons of Mass Destruction, must be addressed in a far more comprehensive way if we are to have a more secure world.

Despite the diplomatic progress on the Korean peninsula, the threat of North Korean missile development and proliferation continues. It is clear, too, that Iran continues its efforts to develop and test effective and accurate missiles to longer and longer ranges in defiance of the United Nations. And many more countries around the world are turning to enhanced longer-range precision missile technologis, adding instability to conflicts all around the word.

We must work together to stop the spread of missile technology by every instrument available to us. I applaud the work that is being done so far in the Missile Technology Control Regime and also in the Hague Code of Conduct regime. I hope we can continue to drive forward in strengthening and enhancing these important regimes as well as other important regimes of missile constraint and restraint. And I underscore again the necessity of doing everything we can to try to preserve the INF Treaty.


In conclusion let me state clearly what we all know: The world today is a less predictable place than it has been since the end of the Cold War.

The answer to today’s instability is more cooperation among nations, stronger global governance, and resolve in the face of the threats before us.

We need not only to protect, but to strengthen the rules-based international order we have developed since World War II. To make the world safer, we need to reinforce it through stronger and closer cooperation, and we need to work together to develop new ways to counter the threats before us.

The North Atlantic Alliance remains steadfast in its engagement and commitment to support disarmament talks, develop proposals to limit and reduce conventional and nuclear weapons, and to prevent the spread of all types of weapons of mass destruction.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak to you today. I wish you every success in your important discussions.