Remarks

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the 17th Annual NATO Conference on, Arms Control, Disarmament and Weapons of Mass Destruction Non-Proliferation

  • 06 Sep. 2021 -
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  • Last updated: 06 Sep. 2021 21:19

(As delivered)

Thank you so much, Eirini.
Good afternoon to you all.
And many, many thanks to Minister Kofod, Jeppe, for your remarks, and to Denmark, for organising this year’s NATO Conference on Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation.

Let me also thank Denmark for your long-standing commitment to our Alliance.   
You provide high-end capabilities to our collective defence.
You contribute to the NATO forward presence in the Baltic region.
And you play an important role in the High-North.
Denmark also leads our training mission in Iraq.
And for 20 years, you have made significant contributions and sacrifices in Afghanistan.

We went into Afghanistan to deny terrorists a safe haven from where they could conduct attacks against us.
And for 20 years, no terrorist attacks against NATO countries have been organised from Afghanistan.
Now we have ended our military presence there.
But the efforts of the Danish and other NATO soldiers were not in vain.

Our task now is to preserve the gains in the fight against terrorism and remain vigilant.  We must also do our utmost to ensure that Afghans at-risk who wish to leave are given safe passage. 
We will continue to prioritize this effort, working with Allies and partners.
The crisis in Afghanistan does not change the fundamental need for Europe and North America to continue to stand strong together in NATO.  

Our unity is crucial to tackle the rising challenges in a more competitive world.
Including to deal with arms control, disarmament and the non-proliferation.
And we are determined to continue to play our part.

At the NATO Summit in June, leaders agreed to further strengthen our efforts in this field.
To preserve Euro-Atlantic security.
Uphold and strengthen the international rules-based order.
And help ensure strategic stability worldwide.

This is no easy task.
And we must be clear-eyed about the challenges before us.

Russia continues to ignore and bend the rules. 
It undermines key treaties.
Russia is also modernising its dual-capable and nuclear capabilities, including intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Its hypersonic glide vehicle is now operational.
And it has tested a new air-launched ballistic missile.
And a nuclear-powered cruise missile. 

Meanwhile, China’s nuclear arsenal is rapidly expanding.
With more warheads.
And more sophisticated delivery systems. 
Moreover, China is building a large number of missile silos, which can significantly increase its nuclear capability.
All of this is happening without any limitation or constraint.
And with a complete lack of transparency.

There are also other players fielding nuclear weapons and advanced missile systems.
North Korea and Iran, for example, are blatantly ignoring or breaking the global rules.
And spreading dangerous technology.

So the world is rapidly becoming more unpredictable.
More competitive.
And more dangerous.
NATO is adapting to this changing world.
At the Brussels Summit last June, we agreed NATO 2030 – a transatlantic agenda for our future security.

This means using NATO even more as a unique platform for dialogue on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation.
Bringing Allies and other countries together to advance these critical issues.

I see three goals that require us to continue to work closely.

First, we must preserve the NPT.

This treaty remains the cornerstone of the global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament architecture.
NATO Allies remain strongly committed to its full implementation.
And to a meaningful outcome at the upcoming Tenth Review Conference.
This will be a major opportunity for the international community to strengthen the NPT.
We must all seize this opportunity.

NATO’s aim is a world free of nuclear weapons.
And we are ready to take further steps to create the conditions for nuclear disarmament negotiations.
But any meaningful disarmament must be balanced and verifiable.
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons does not fill any of these requirements.

A world where NATO Allies have given up their nuclear deterrent,
while Russia, China or countries like North Korea retain their nuclear weapons,
is simply not a safer world.

Second, we must strengthen and modernise arms control.  

At NATO, we welcome and fully support the agreement between the United States and Russia to extend New START for five years.
This treaty limits the number of strategic nuclear weapons for both countries.
And contributes to everyone’s stability.

At the same time, we need to include more systems in future arms control.
For instance to cover non-strategic weapons.

We should also address the impact on arms control of emerging and disruptive technologies.
Such as autonomous platforms and artificial intelligence.
They can all be weaponised.
So we need to consider how to develop new rules and standards for these technologies.

And we also need to include more countries in future arms control.
In particular China. 
As a global power, China has global responsibilities in arms control.
And Beijing too would benefit from mutual limits on numbers, increased transparency, and more predictability.
These are the foundations for international stability. 

Third, we need to continue to respond together when treaties are violated.

Russia’s repeated violations led to the demise of the INF Treaty.
And Moscow’s continued development of new missiles poses challenges to our security.
We must remain ready to address them.

This is why NATO Allies agreed a balanced, coordinated and defensive package of measures in response to the Russian missile threat.
And we will continue to respond in a measured and responsible way. 
At the same time, we keep the door open for a meaningful dialogue with Moscow.
To hopefully lay the groundwork for renewed progress on arms control.

Ladies and gentlemen,
NATO has a long track-record in arms control.
And we are determined to continue to play our part.
I expect this to be reflected in NATO’s next Strategic Concept.
Next to our founding Washington Treaty, this is the most important guiding document for our Alliance.
And we will develop it in time for the NATO Summit in Madrid next year.

We have seen in the past that arms control works.
It is our collective responsibility to ensure it also works in the future.
Disarmament can progress.
Proliferation can stop.
But it will take patience and political will.
Working together, we can shape the international security environment for the better.
I count on your continued engagement.
And you can count on NATO’s continued commitment to security and stability. 

Thank you very much.
And I wish you a very good conference.  

Eirini Lemos-Maniati, Deputy Director of NATO HQ’s Arms Control, Disarmament and WMD Non-Proliferation Centre: Ladies and gentlemen, now we have an opportunity for questions from those joining us in person. And maybe those also joining us, the few colleagues who are joining us online. And we have explained a little bit the system of how we can ask questions. So, I will now like to open the floor for questions. Is there are there any questions coming?
 
Yes, so in order to ask questions, you need to ask for the floor and you need to press the button first, Ambassador, would you like to take the floor?

Just one clarification of how to ask for the floor, you all I hope have bought your card you received. And if you need to take the floor you just press and then, your name will pop up. All right.
Ambassador, would you like to take the floor? Yes, now you're going to take the floor.
 
Ambassador Heyman, Permanent Representative of Belgium to NATO: Okay, so somebody has to break the ice I suppose so that we back some. First of all thank you Secretary General for his opening remarks for minister for your remarks earlier today and also now this afternoon, and you know that we're going to embark in NATO know in the next section has set in the next year, more or less on the major exercise which is the update or the next if you wish the teaching concept of NATO, which is going to set up the political basis for NATO as how we see the world in the next, I hate to say 10 years because it's not 10 years but at least for some years to come. So, in today's world it's fair to say that the challenges on the ADN side are very …to say… they are very much present with us we have seen some of them this morning.
 
The main focus of NATO since 2014 has due to the events that we know has been laid on deterrence and defence, how to beef up, one of NATO's particular core tasks that we wondering as to how both of you, perhaps you minister, but also Secretary General, see the relation between the agenda which was in a way forced upon us by events and since 2014 and which actually have not decreased since, and the continuing need for having a robust engagement of NATO and Allies in particular for some of us are very much engaged in that on the ADN side how do we merge or marry if you wish, those two concepts of deterrence and defence, with indeed, the other one, which is ADN. For us, that doesn't mean there is any sort of contradiction but perhaps it is a completely complicated metaphor, some of us might be more problematic than for others, so I don't know how you from your vantage point as Danish farmers are you see that and perhaps sexual if you wish to add whatever would also be good to hear. Thank you.
 
Jeppe Kofod, Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs: Well, thank you for that question/comment, of course, you alluded to, 2014 and the events there. We, of course we need to continue to have deterrence and defence, and especially against the aggression, obviously from Russia. But I think at the same time, the other track we hear, you know with arms control and how important it is to overall security, but also I would say to serve as a frame to, for confidence, confidence building for transparency, for avoiding unintended consequences on attempted episodes to happen. I think it's really important. Therefore I was very curious I have to say, the government was encouraged by the talks that President Biden and Putin had that, you know, led to a strategic dialogue.  I think that's very important for us.

For us, we are a small country, but for us we are very much reliant, we rely on, a whole structure of agreements that can ensure, of course, be able to control, control of proliferation and armament, but also, transparency, confidence building, all of that. So I think we could do both things, well knowing that some of our adversaries are having a very brutal way of acting at the moment. So I think, we are I think we are on the right track but first of all is it's good to take this discussion and.

And in a world theater, it also alluded to, where there are more weapons, more sophisticated weapons, new technology, and more actors that are possessing this technology. We see China on the rise. We see new weapon systems developed by Russia. We see risk of proliferation, I think it's really, really important for overall security that we that we come back to a track where we can have agreements, and structures that can take care of this, so that is our idea. I very much agree we should. And I think we have to thank Jens, for mentioning that. That we should work hard on the next rigidity concept of NATO to ensure that this has a very important role for all security. Thank you.
 
Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General: First of all, I just say that the question araised by Ambassador Heyman is extremely important and actually pinpoints or addresses the core issue related to arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation because it is about, how can we reconcile arms control with deterrence and defence, and the only way to do that is to recognize that arms control is in our own national security interest. 

Sometimes when you read the articles or follow the media you get the impression that arms control is something we do to be kind or nice.

No, it's not about that. It is, it is because it is in our interest to be part of a verifiable balanced arms control non-proliferation and disarmament agreements, because we are safer with them than without them.

And if we can also deliver a credible deterrence and defence with lower number of, for instance, nuclear weapons than if we didn't have these kind of agreements in place before. One way this is obvious, but I think it's important to remind us all about that, because that strengthened the motivation in all capitals to really engage in these issues, because this is about increasing our security through arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation.
 
Second, so that's kind of the fundamental message. The second message is that this is not only kind of a theoretical concept, it has actually worked. We have to remember that during the coldest period of the Cold War, at least during the 1960’s, the 70’s and the 80’s.  The Soviet Union and United States were able to engage in constructive talks and actually make agreements on arms control. So this is not only a theoretical concept.  During the Cold War, we were, the world was able to reach agreement on important treaties on reducing the number of nuclear weapons, and the NPT, and so on.

If there were, since this was possible to do during the Cold War, of course it should be possible to do today. And that also makes the agreement between Russia and the United States to extend the new START agreement so important because, as Jeppe just alluded to the agreement to extend the new START came after a series of negative events, decisions that have taken place over several years. We saw the demise, not least of the INF Treaty but also many other treaties and agreements were actually undermined, or weakened. And then we were all afraid that we lost a really big arms control agreement, the new START was at risk and jeopardized. And there was recent that we were going to see the end of the new START.  

So the fact that the Russia and the United States were able to agree on the extension was important in itself, but is also extremely important because it sent a signal that despite the deteriorating overall relationship between NATO - Russia, the United States - Russia, all the problems we see in Ukraine, in other places, where we see the consequences of Russia's aggressive behaviour. Actually, we are still able to sit down and have meaningful dialogue with Russia on such an important issue as the extension of the new START. So, it is possible, we approved before to reconcile the deterrence and defence, and also arms control that is simply because it is in our, but also in Russia’s or China's or any other country’s interest to have verifiable nuclear disarmament and arms control.
 
Moderator: Thank you very much, Secretary General, thank you very much Minister and also for the points you raised about the fact that it's we should stop portraying arms control for the good and deterrence and defence is for the bad, the thing that was pointed as we heard this morning, I have the next question from Mr. John Nichols [indistinct].
 
Question: Thank you…[inaudible]…I have a question to both of you, to your points about technology.

Do you foresee that we are moving in a direction of one new technological “Cold War” with the West on one side and China and Russia on the other side, and that we have to look back to a new version of the COCOM rules limiting the export of technology, and especially critical technologies to countries outside, what can I say the sphere of like-minded nations to NATO. And if this is necessary to preserve our technological edge that we have relied on for almost 70 years. Thank you.
 
Secretary General: I think it's extremely important to be aware of the technological dimension related to arms control, and under the development of many new weapon systems as I also mentioned in one way or another, we need to address the consequences of new disruptive technologies or artificial intelligence, facial recognition, autonomous systems and especially when they are merged together in new weapon systems, the consequences they have for arms control but of course also for our overall security.

At the NATO summit, as part of the NATO 2030 agenda, we actually made technology, a very important task, because we, as also referred to in the question, our technological edge has always helped to keep us safe and NATO allies and NATO have all the has over handed that technological edge, this edge is now challenged. Not least by the fact that, that, that China is investing so heavily in new technologies that also can be weaponized, used in new different weapon systems, and we have seen for instance, the new hypersonic glide vehicle system on Russia, as an example also how new technologies are used.

So, first of all, we need to make sure that we maintain our technological edge, that we invest together, developed together as NATO allies, technologies, and that's exactly what we do also with the initiative agreed at the NATO Summit to develop a new mechanism to promote, to support technological development among NATO allied countries. We call it DIANA that is a transatlantic institution that should help to further strengthen what we do together on technology. We also need to address resilience and so our societies. We have a very important discussion I think, on 5G, and we have seen already the differences between NATO allies, but we have seen a significant convergence of view on the importance of actually understanding the importance of resilience when it comes to critical infrastructure, including technology.

And then the question of, that we need to at least prevent or avoid ending up in a situation, when we invest heavily in new advanced technologies, and then make them easily available for other countries which are using these technologies to develop weapon systems which are a threat to us. I don't suggest that we should re-establish COCOM, but of course there were reasons to have that discussion during the Cold War, to have that tool as a way to prevent the free flow of technologies from the West to the Soviet Union, and we need to be aware of the same challenges now. And I think that NATO is a perfect platform for addressing these issues, because we are the only place where North American and Europe meet every day.

Of course there are important discussions within, on the resilience technology within the European Union, within different NATO allied countries. But NATO is the framework, the big foundational platform, where all these countries and North America can come together and try to develop some kind of common understanding on technology, policies on technology, but also on how to make sure that we actually keep the technological edge, and that means also not sharing everything with other countries without also assessing the consequences for the development of new novel weapon systems.
 
Minister: I just briefly to add what Jens has stated already very clearly, I mean, the threat on the last part, on resilience of our society, due to new technologies and how it can be used to compromise our security, I think it's very important. I mean it's a collective responsibility, each in our countries and now of course adapting also legislation also in Denmark that protects ourselves against taking over of essential technology in society, for example, in the data market. If that can compromise our security, but I think we are not safe in that area before we all are living up to the standards that we see is needed, so we have a collective responsibility to help and assist other countries that come to our NATO Alliance, very importantly also in EU for that matter.

On the first question, just to say that. You said, I mean technological edge is the fundament for also deterring other to challenge our NATO Alliance. So not only is important to maintain a technological edge to our adversaries, but also to prevent them from going direction where they start to think that they can challenge our Alliance, so therefore it's something that they might also put a lot of support into, that we should keep that in the world that we are in, and I'm very concerned about the different technologies posed by Russia, and China and others, what that can mean for our ability to deter others to go in that direction. So very, very important point raised, because I think we should continue that further. Thanks.
 
Moderator:  Thank you very much for bringing the point of emerging disruptive technologies also in the discussion. Are there any questions from the floor? Secretary General, may I ask one question? And that's related... I see no further question from the floor. What role do you foresee for arms control in the NATO 2030 agenda you just mentioned, the role of emerging disruptive technologies, but … what role do you see in the very important agenda that you set forth in the heads of state governments a few months ago.
 
NATO Secretary General:  If you remember, NATO 2030 is about adapting NATO, and to strengthen the transatlantic bond to go to make sure that Europe and North America continues to stand strong together in NATO and to do that we need NATO to continue to adapt. NATO is the most successful alliance in course of history because we have been able to change when the world is changing.  Therefore, arms control of course is part of that picture, because arms control is critical to our security to our ability to prevent the proliferation of all the weapons of mass destruction. We have seen some serious setbacks over the last years, but at the same time we just have to mobilize even more political will, even more efforts to make sure that we see progress and that is very much in line with the messages, and the thinking in NATO 2030, not least because we also need Europe and North America to work on these issues together.

Many other arms control agreements, INF, new START and also, of course the Strategic Dialogue between Russia and the United States are actually taking place between Russia and United States. But that matters for all of us, that matters for all European allies, and of course also for Canada. And therefore, NATO plays a key role and then we are looking for how to strengthen that key role as support as a political alliance to coordinate, to consult on all issues related to arms control.

For instance, at the NATO summit I welcomed very much, President Biden, spent some time with leaders of NATO allies, to discuss arms control issues, and also before he met President Putin, a few days after, and we had an agreement on extending new START. So based on that window of the five years extension, we then have the strategic dialogue and of course the importance of addressing also non-strategic weapons, intermediate short range weapon systems and so on, novel missile systems. Then again, NATO proves to be an extremely important tool to bring allies together, and to enter, to continue their work, and based on the fact that NATO has been at the forefront of these negotiations for years.  

Back in the 70’s and 80’s when we agreed to the INF, every time they went to the meetings with the Soviet Union, they stopped in Brussels, the United States, consulted allies, negotiated with the Soviet Union, came back consulted with allies, and so on. So, maybe we should not do exactly the same, but thinking of using NATO as a platform is actually one of the main messages in NATO 2030, to strengthen political consultations to strengthen the political dimension of NATO also when it comes to arm control. If we can just add one more thing on technologies that I don't think that we fully realized how much these new disruptive technologies are changing the nature of warfare.

Living in Belgium, I've learned a lot about the First World War and how the world underestimated the consequences of the Industrial Revolution, or on warfare.  And we just must avoid doing the same mistake that even if we in theory, know that all these new technologies would totally change how wars are fought or weapons are working, and that we realize those dangers before we end up in a situation where we really need to get this tested for real. And then of course, also some serious challenges for arms control, because as long as arms control was very much about counting warheads, I think it was, was a relatively easy to agree.

But now when we need to, in a way, deal with algorithms, artificial intelligence, totally different systems, we haven't really developed the tools, the parameters to decide what is verifiable and balanced arms controlled in cyberspace, and with all these new disruptive technologies.  I'm absolutely certain it's possible, but we need them, the experts, we need the political will, we need this combination of real experts on these different technologies combined with the […..] the political leadership. And to sit down, and to find a way forward, as we did back in the 50’s and the 60’s when they started the real work on nuclear arms control. And that the end by saying that in this field, I think, Denmark, and also Jeppe, they are really a strong voice on all the issues related to arms control, and the need to reconcile, the need for the deterrence and defence, and effective arms control and therefore, I also like to thank Jeppe once again for his leadership on all these issues.
 
Moderator: Thank you very much, Secretary General, Minister Jeppe Kofod for your answers to the questions raised in this forum today. You have now posed a number of interesting ideas to us to launch our discussions. We're very grateful for hosting us here today. Secretary General, we're very grateful for giving us your time again to raise your ideas and share with us your thoughts on this important agenda, we're really grateful.  Ladies and gentlemen, this will conclude the public portion of this year's weapons of mass destruction conference, and we will take a few minutes to close the public side. Thank you very much. Thank you sirs, Secretary General.