Lecture 2 - Climate change
by Dr Jamie Shea, Director of Policy Planning in the Private Office of the Secretary General
Ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome everybody to the Institute for European Studies where today we are hosting the first of a series of lectures on NATO, but basically security in general. We have with us Dr. Jamie Shea, Director of Policy Planning...still, I hope?
...at NATO's Private Office and he will start his first lecture on proliferation. Now, just as you see this first of the lectures I would like to remind you that these lectures are taped and will be broadcast on the NATO web-site, but then also as a courtesy to our speaker, please, switch off your mobile phones in case you haven't done that yet. So, Jamie, the floor is all yours.
Shea: Anthony, thank you very much indeed and I'd like as the first word of this new series of NATO lectures to, as always, thank you and the Institute of European Studies for once again so graciously offering to host this series. It is always better to be outside NATO headquarters in front of a real group of students; and thank you, of course, to the students today for being here. I am always impressed what a free sandwich and a free glass of orange juice can do in terms of attendance.
So, hopefully, you will still be here for the sixth lecture even if by then we will probably have to offer you caviar and champagne, but it's good to see you here today.
I must also apologize right from the outset that my strong cockney accent is even worst than it is normally, because I am suffering from a very heavy cold, but the show must go on, n'est-ce pas? And I will do my best to communicate above my running nose. So it's good to see you here.
Now, as Anthony pointed out, this is going to be a series of six lectures, in which what I am going to try to do is to look at the threats that face the Alliance today, but the international community more generally; and ask the question what are the most “threatening” threats. Are we taking some of them too seriously? Are we taking others not seriously enough? How threatening are these threats in reality?
Now the background for this, as you can see also from this very nice screen behind me, is the new NATO Strategic Concept. You may or may not be aware, if you are not aware you will be in just a couple of seconds, that over the last few weeks a group of experts under the chairmanship of former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has started the work of examining the health of the Alliance with the view of making recommendations next May to the NATO Secretary General on what should be the future of the Alliance. What should be in and what should be out of the new NATO Strategic Concept. And whenever you do this exercise of a White Paper, as we say, in national governments or a defense review or a strategic review, the starting point, obviously, is to look at the environment, in which you have to operate.
Therefore, obviously for an organization like NATO, which deals with defense and security, the key question is what are the key challenges that are going to affect the safety of our citizens and not just what are these challenges, but what are the possible responses where NATO could be more involved. Once you are clear on what your challenges are, it's much easier then to design a new NATO structure or organization to fit those particular tasks. So what I would like to do over these next six lectures is to look at six particular issues.
Today we'll begin, as Anthony mentioned, with the theme of nuclear weapons and proliferation. Is the nuclear genie definitively out of the bottle? And what does the proliferation of nuclear weapons mean for the possibility of war and peace in the 21st century?
Next lecture I am going to look at climate change, which of course is now an increasingly fashionable topic, but an increasingly urgent one as well; and ask from a security point of view, and ask how is climate change likely to play out in the international relations and what kind of new or old security challenges in a more reinforced way will climate change bring?
Third lecture I am going to look at international terrorism. Eight years after 9/11 2001 is al-Qaeda, is international terrorism still the massive threat that it seemed when the World Trade Centre was attacked and the Pentagon was attacked eight years ago?
Fourth lecture I want to look at energy security and I'll ask in particular are we going to a world of energy scarcity where nations will be increasingly competing with each other, perhaps in military forms, for ever scarcer energy resources; and what are the threats to our critical energy infrastructure.
Lecture number five I am going to look at failed states. There are a lot of them about and therefore is NATO likely to be engaged in the next 15 years in failed states in the same way that we've been engaged in the Balkans, in Afghanistan over the last 15 years? Can you really do “mission impossible” and resurrect failed states and make them healthy?
And, finally, lecture number six – cyber attacks. What are the real dangers from a security point of view to hacking into computer systems? Is a cyber attack the equivalent of a military offensive when it comes to threatening vital interests of a state? That's, if you like, the menu which I am offering you over the next few weeks and, as I said, I'd be very glad to see you back at future lectures.
Now let's get on with the topic of today – nuclear weapons. For those of you – and I don't see many in this room, fortunately – of my generation growing up under the sort of the shadow of the nuclear bomb has been a somewhat intimidating and sobering experience.
The sword ort of Damocles of nuclear destruction has been with all of us, of course, since the nuclear weapon was first invented and first used sixty five years ago at the end of WWII.
Nuclear weapons, unlike previous weapons, made civilization reversible for the first time. Indeed, when I was slightly younger than most of you, there was a whole fashion of movies – you remember “Dr. Strangelove” with Peter Sellers, which I think is still as young today, as it was in 1960, when it first came out and a whole range of books, which all sort of predicted, you know, what would be the consequences of living in a world where there had been a nuclear war.
One of the first books that I read as a child was the book called “On The Beach” by Nevil Shute, which described Australia with just a few people left alive recovering from the aftermath of a nuclear war and trying to begin civilization once again from the Stone Age.
There was therefore a great deal of worry at the question of could we survive a nuclear war and, if so, how? Would, for example, the use of nuclear weapons create a nuclear winter, which would bring about a permanent ice age? In other words if you weren't killed by the nuclear explosion you'd be killed by the environmental impact that would come afterward.
And yet the paradox, as I am sure most of you are fully aware, is that on the one hand there was this apprehension and these fears, even a great deal of pessimism about the chances of escaping a nuclear war in one's lifetime, nuclear weapons after all couldn't be “disinvented” and they seemed destined to proliferate, but, on the other hand, ladies and gentlemen, there was also the reality that we lived what the American historian John Lewis Gaddis called, at least in Europe, the “long peace” - a period in Europe where we had longest period of peace since the days of Charlemagne.
Nuclear weapons paradoxically receive some of the credit for that, because there was the sense that the dangers of nuclear use were such that each side deterred itself as much as the other from the mutual destruction.
The only purpose of a nuclear weapon was as kind of guarantee that another person's nuclear weapons would not be used against you.
Therefore, the worst weapon ever invented had a curious peacekeeping role in the sense of making war between the Soviet Union and the United States unthinkable.
And, indeed, despite all of the emphasis on proliferation and the mood of gloom and doom, we still are in the situation today when the nuclear weapons have been used on only two occasions and both, of course, at the end of WWII 65 years ago at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Now, of course, this attitude may be a bit too complacent, I realize that fully well. The first reason for the complacency is, of course, that the superpowers did come close, at least on one occasion, to an actual nuclear exchange. That was in October 1962, of course, during the Cuban missile crisis.
Second is that there had been, of course, from time to time a series of shocks where a technical failure in an American radar system or a Russian radar system, as happened during the 1990's, when the Russian leadership for a while mistook the launch of a Norwegian weather satellite as a possible US launch. It was rapidly cleared up, but there was a moment of hesitation, so a technical failure, even a flock of geese flying over the American NORAD air defense system in the 1970's could provoke full-scale alert, and Henry Kissinger famously put the American nuclear forces on a “defcon-1” strategic alert during the Yom Kippur war, the Arab – Israeli war in 1973.
So there have been (even if nothing quite as close to the Cuban missile crisis), several moments of panic. And secondly, of course, it has to be said that although nuclear deterrence did, yes, keep the peace in Europe, it certainly did not prevent lots of other wars going on outside of Europe, in which the two superpowers fought each other by proxy.
And it's calculated that up to 25 million people were actually killed in those very conventional but still very destructive wars. That said, of course the major fear today is that everything was fine as long as the two superpowers alone had the monopoly of nuclear weapon, more or less in equivalent capacities and those two superpowers have developed a series of arms control agreements. You remember the SALT process in the 1970's – Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, the START process in the 1990's – Strategic Arms Reduction Talks, various treaties, even an agreement in 1972 between Nixon and Brezhnev on the prevention of nuclear war.
As long as the two superpowers developed this kind of understanding, both had an interest in surviving, both believed in the victory of its ideology and, therefore, had an interest in staying alive to see the victory of its ideology. So as along as it was basically the Soviet Union and the United States, everything was more or less OK, as they knew how to handle the nuclear weapon.
But, of course, the fear today is that we are on the verge of a new wave of proliferation, in which several “new kids on the block” are in the process of acquiring a nuclear capability. And can we rely upon these “new kids on the block” to show the same degree of rationality, the same degree of self-restraint and caution and the same interest in their own survival as powers – not to use the nuclear weapons and to consider that the nuclear weapon is simply an insurance policy against, as I said earlier, somebody with nuclear weapon using it against you.
So, in a nutshell, where we are today? Well, I think we again face a paradox: on the one hand – yes, the number of nuclear states has expanded, but on the other hand, the number of nuclear warheads is less than 50% of what is was in 1982, when Jonathan Schell wrote his famous book “The Fate of the Earth”, which was, at least for my generation, the major anti-nuclear tract of today.
Today we have about 23,000 nuclear warheads in existence in the world. Now it's good that this is less than 50% of what we had in 1982, but the bad news is that this still represents 2.3 million Hiroshima's. So that is still enough to destroy the world several thousands of times over.
This figure, therefore, is clearly still an excessive number. Where are we in particular?
Well, the United States has 5200 deployed nuclear warheads; Russia - about 4138; France - 350; UK – 160 and China anywhere between 100 and 200. Those are the five official nuclear powers, declared nuclear powers that also happen to be, as all of you know, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.
Interestingly, of the new nuclear weapons in the world today 95% are in the hands of the two countries – United States and the Soviet Union or Russia as it is now, a lapsus – Russia today. I'll come back on it in a moment.
Second is the “new kids on the block”, as I call them. India has about 100 warheads, according to calculations, Pakistan about 60, North Korea – anything from 6 to 12, Israel, which has never confirmed officially that it is a nuclear power, has an unspecified number. There are various guesstimates, but nobody, apart from the Israelis of course, knows for certain, and South Africa did have a nuclear programme, but gave it up in 1993.
So, in other words, although, yes, there have been several new entries into the world of nuclear weapons, there have been some successes of countries, which have voluntarily agreed to terminate nuclear programmes. I mentioned South Africa at the end of the Apartheid period and thereafter. Other examples are Argentina and Brazil; other countries have been operating programmes in the past, but have decided to desist.
So, the prognostication of John Kennedy, President Kennedy, back in the 1960's that by the end of his presidency, which should have been 1964 (because, tragically, he was assassinated before, as you know), his prediction that by 1964 there would be 25 nuclear states has still not come true even 40 years later.
Indeed, in the 1960's it was calculated that 23 countries either had nuclear weapons, or have conducted a nuclear research programmes, whereas today we have just 8 confirmed nuclear states.
So the number of warheads is going down and the proliferation at least in the past has not been as bad as many predicted.
That said, however, of course today there are fears that that happy situation of relative consistency and stability is about to change. Why? I think the first reason is the fear or worry that the impact of climate change, particularly the reduction in the use of fossil fuels, like coal and oil is going to lead to a rediscovery of nuclear.
Already, my country, the United Kingdom, Finland and many others have decided to renew their nuclear programmes. Others, like Germany, which decided some time ago to abandon nuclear power, are re-thinking, as nuclear power particularly in an age of escalating or very volatile oil prices, becomes a more commercially viable option.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has calculated that we may well go from 300 civil power plants in the world today up to as many as 1400 by 2050, as well energy demand is predicted to soar by 45% over the next 20 years.
Now, these are only predictions but of course it does mean that if there are more and more countries that have civil nuclear programmes potentially like Iran today with the possibility of processing their own uranium fuel to feed their nuclear reactors, then it's going to be very, very difficult indeed to monitor so many countries and make sure that they are not secretly diverting the nuclear fuel or enriching it to produce weapons-grade material for nuclear weapons themselves.
Second issue is what Muhammad al-Barade'i, the outgoing head of International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna has called the “nuclear Wal-Mart”.
This is, of course, an increasing fear that the private sector, companies or individuals, can trade in nuclear materials, obviously, for profit.
You may recall the case of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of the Pakistani nuclear bomb, who was exposed a few years ago as having conducted a very lucrative private business in trading nuclear materials right across the world, selling this information to countries like Libya and many others. And he was eventually and for a long time placed under the house arrest by the Pakistani authorities. This is the most notorious example, but there certainly have been many others. Therefore, what good is it if states tighten up the rules on nuclear export controls, if this private sector is left largely unregulated?
Number 3. The great worry about the future of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty.
Now, for much of my lifetime the hope of safeguarding against nuclear proliferation has resided in the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, which was concluded in 1968 and implemented in 1970, and today virtually all of the countries in the world with three exceptions – Israel, India and Pakistan – participate in the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty.
But nobody would deny that this Treaty has become increasingly vulnerable.
The first reason is Article 6, which specified that the nuclear powers would agree to disarm – eventually, give up their weapons, in return for the non-nuclear powers agreeing not to acquire nuclear weapons and agreeing to safeguard inspections to make sure that they would not illicitly divert civilian nuclear programmes to military use.
So, of course, as we now go into the fourth decade of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty there are those who say: “well, the nuclear powers haven't kept their share of the bargain” – they haven't disarmed or they had a bit, but not by much, they still rely upon nuclear weapons for their security and, therefore, why there should be a “two-class tier” in the international community – those who are entitled to have nuclear weapons, they say they need them for their security, and those who are denied them. So either the nuclear “haves” go down, or the nuclear “have nots” go up.
And Muhammad al-Barade'i himself, who participated in a conference on the Strategic Concept that we at NATO organized in Brussels last July, said the following about this. He said: “We must abandon the unworkable notion that it is morally reprehensible for some countries to pursue weapons of mass destruction, yet morally acceptable for others to rely on them for their security and indeed to refine their capacities and postulate plans for their use”.
So, we are stuck with this central conundrum - if the “haves” do not disarm how can we persuade the others not to arm in the first place?
You can live with that situation for a while, but not, of course, forever and ever and ever.
The second problem, ladies and gentlemen, with the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty is that is allows legally - legally – a country like Iran today to process its own fuel with its own reactors to at least a grade of 3.5%, which allows you to run a civilian power station on the assumption that you are not then going to jump the final step into a weapons programme.
But, of course, if you can do 99% of the process legally and then you have only to do the final 1% illegally, it is very difficult, of course, to prevent a country from acquiring nuclear weapons.
So how can we fix this problem, which preserves everybody's legitimate right to use nuclear power for peaceful civilian purposes, but avoiding the problem of everyone having their own enrichment plant and facility?
Then, the fourth reason why we may now experience more proliferation – regional rivalries.
Jaswant Singh – the former Indian Foreign Minister once said that the “nuclear age entered India, India's neighborhood, when China became a nuclear power in October 1964”.
In other words, as soon as my neighbor had had it, I need to have it too. For the reasons of prestige or for the reasons of security, but clearly countries don't only make these decisions alone in terms of their own programmes, but very much in conjunction with what they perceive their neighbor is doing. And therefore the problem is that the proliferation becomes self-replicating. He has it – I need to have it. He has it – I need to have it. And so on...
And, of course, at the moment, as you know, those of you who have studied this will see that in the wake of the Iranian activities there's lots of speculation that other countries in the Gulf region will then need to react themselves by developing their programmes. So how can you again stop this kind of ongoing proliferation?
Finally, of course, there is the fear of nuclear terrorism. The idea of, as George W. Bush once put it, “the worst weapons in the hands of the worst people”.
And in fact, President Obama when he gave his speech in Prague earlier this year when he called for a vision of a world without nuclear weapons, said, I quote: “In a strange turn of history, the threat of a global nuclear war has gone down, but the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up”. Precisely because there is this belief that individual terrorists would not show the same rationality, as states, when it comes to not using these capabilities.
It's not easy, ladies and gentlemen, frankly to assess just how serious the prospect is of a terrorist getting access to a nuclear weapon. We do know from intelligence sources and revelations that al-Qaeda has actively been pursuing nuclear technologies and indeed we have also been monitoring the diversion of nuclear materials from laboratories particularly in the former Soviet Union. Indeed, it is reported that 1,300 incidents of nuclear materials being traded out from the former Soviet Union have taken place since 1993.
Although it also has to be said quite frankly that sometimes these have been frauds. For example there is this famous story of Osama bin Laden trying to buy a lot of uranium when he was living in Sudan some years ago and this turned out to be a mockery, so he lost his money very badly on that. It was a fraud. So, at least we know that terrorists are interested in this, even that, of course, that doesn't mean to say that they will ever be able to get the material or master the technology.
I mean, it's much easier for example to get one's hand on a biological or chemical product rather than a nuclear weapon, which does require a quite large superstructure. You can't hide it in your suitcase. Still, the fear is there.
So, ladies and gentlemen, our group of experts as it meets to look at Strategic Concept – how worried should it be about this situation in terms of the security of the Alliance?
Well, some are quite relaxed about this situation. For example, there is a very well-known professor at the University of Chicago John Mearsheimer who said: “well, you know, deterrence basically works. If the American nuclear weapon neutralized the Soviet nuclear weapon during the Cold War, then why can't the Indian nuclear weapon neutralize the Pakistani nuclear weapon”, etc, etc, etc. – A world of proliferation is not necessarily more dangerous. nuclear weapons are such terrible weapons that anybody is going to think twice before using them, and this can help to stabilize the situation. So that's one view.
But, of course, another view is the one that I personally share is that this would be accepting a terrible, terrible, terrible degree of risk, particularly if a country having nuclear weapons, which seems stable one minute, is then taken over by a group of radicals next minute who then gain automatic access to nuclear facilities. And, ladies and gentlemen, just think back to 9/11, think back to 9/11, where then there was a terrorist attack on the United States that killed 3,000 people. That transformed international relations. We are still living in the shadow, in broad security terms, of that attack. It defined the next decade and probably beyond. But it was not a nuclear attack. In fact, it was done by box-cutters. You remember? Not even guns.
Now imagine a nuclear weapon being used by one state against another, no matter how remote…That would totally transform lives and international relations probably for a century, if not more. So, although this may have a low probability, the catastrophic consequences are such that I personally believe that we should not live with a kind of complacent view that deterrence will work, but should try to do what we can to reduce the importance of nuclear weapons in security perceptions and, therefore, the need to have them and to acquire them, as much as we possibly can.
Now, how are we going to do this?
Very briefly, because I want obviously leave you time to ask me questions and I hope you will have questions. Normally, on this subject you will have questions. I am not sure if the answers will be as good, but we'll see about that in a moment.
The first thing I think is that the major powers have got to renew their commitment, as President Obama has done, to a nuclear-free world. In other words, to confirm that we mean what we said in Article 6 of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty back in 1970, that it was our intention to work towards the world, in which nuclear weapons will ultimately be abolished, even if you can't totally “disinvent” them.
We know that this is not going to happen overnight, obviously. And we know that as long as states see threats they will be reluctant to give up nuclear weapons, if they believe that they enhance their security. That's obviously true. It will obviously be a step-by-step process. But again, positive as a goal is a way of delegitimizing in the long run the reliance upon nuclear weapons. So, I think, we should stick to that goal and indeed it's not just, if you like, left-wing people and sort of radical NGOs who argue this, but indeed back in 2007 four pillars of the American strategic community Henry Kissinger, Sam Nunn, Goerge Shultz and Bill Perry – all former Secretaries of State or Secretaries of Defense or Chairmen of the Armed Services Committee, like Sam Nunn – said precisely this in a very famous newspaper article that they saw that we would be much better off without nuclear weapons than with them, even if this is not something that can be achieved overnight.
Second thing, the NPT, the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty Review Conference is going to be coming up next year. It's very important before the NPT starts to fracture that we reinforce it. How are we going to do this?
Well, a commitment, of course, to arms control by the nuclear powers is certainly going to help, particularly commitment that brings in China or others because this has been a Russia - United States bilateral affair for many years. But other ideas too. For example, making it illegal to withdraw from the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty that some countries, like North Korea, have done in the past. A question of making it impossible for countries to acquire nuclear technology if they have not agreed to the so-called Additional Protocol of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, which means mandatory challenge inspections, a much more intrusive inspection regime than was in the original agreement or the obligation to hand back nuclear technology to the supplier if you’re found to be cheating.
These are some ideas, ladies and gentlemen, in circulation of how you can reinforce the NPT.
I think also that, as President Obama has made clear, the United States and Russia also have to set an example. As I said earlier, they still have 95% of the nuclear weapons in the world today.
I, therefore find it encouraging that Russia and United States now talk about post-START or “son of START” - I don't think it has a name yet - but a new treaty.
Because at the moment the existing agreement between the US and Russia, which is START-1, which dates from 1991, is due to expire on the 5th of December this year. And we don't quite want to be in a situation where there is no ongoing agreement regulating the activities of these two very important countries. And the United States has proposed new ceilings, which would limit the number of warheads from 1500 to 1675 and the number of delivery vehicles (delivery vehicles being a technical jargon for missiles and bombers) from 500 to 1100.
To have that in place before the NPT Review Conference next year would set a good example to the others of the willingness of the two major powers to actually go down.
This is not going to be easy, obviously not, because there are always other factors that come into play. You've have seen that – Russia in particular would like to have guarantees on American missile defense programme as a pre-condition for a new START Agreement.
I think personally again – speaking personally – United States also has an interest not only in limiting Russia's strategic weapons, but also a very, very large number of tactical short-range systems that Russia has from the old days of the Soviet Union but still there is momentum there and let's hope it is followed.
Another thing that we have to look at most urgently is to try to put a cap not just on the nuclear weapons themselves, but also on the missiles that deliver them. Because, frankly, ladies and gentlemen, nuclear warhead is not much use to you if you don't have a missile to carry it for 5,000 km or whatever and deliver it to the target you're seeking.
And there has been a proliferation in a number of countries that have intermediate-range ballistic missile capabilities. Every week you see North Korea, India, Iran, Pakistan, many countries test-fire these intermediate-range rocket systems and yet, paradoxically, only Russia and the United States are held by any kind of international agreement limiting these systems – the INF Treaty (Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty) that goes way back to Ronald Reagan times in the late 1980's. So, we need to universalize these and also beef up other arrangements that exist, like Missile Technology Control Regime that put export control on ballistic missile technology.
Let me just mention a few final things that we can do.
Test Ban Treaty. It exists, it exists! But there is a problem – the United States has yet to ratify it and of course the US role, as always, in this area will be absolutely essential and eight countries overall have to ratify it, particularly those countries, which have nuclear weapons, before it can come into force, but this is important.
The United States has carried out about 1000 tests since 1945, Russia has carried out over 715 tests. Others too – Britain, France, many other countries have conducted tests. India, Pakistan in 1996-97 – a whole series of tests.
And if you ban testing, you don't make it impossible to develop nuclear weapons – computers can do a lot today – but you do make it much, much more difficult and much more costly. So we need to bring this treaty into effect, as quickly as we can.
We also need to ban the production of fissile material – we don't need any. We have today, ladies and gentlemen, in the world 7,000 tons, surplus tons, of uranium fissile material. That is enough to build 300,000 nuclear warheads. So, in other words, we can power the world's nuclear reactors for civilian fuel, electricity, more or less indefinitely without ever needing to produce any more fissile material.
Indeed, Muhammad al-Barade'i, I mentioned him already, came up with a plan, which to me makes a lot of sense, for a nuclear fuel bank. In other words, a sort of central petrol station run by the United Nations, where countries would get their fuel and would reprocess their spent fuel rods under the international supervision. I mean, you all have cars, but you don't have your own petrol station, do you? You are quite happy to go to Texaco or BP, so we fill up from a collective entity and we should do the same here as well.
And finally, we should continue to do what we can in terms of international law to make it harder and harder and harder for states to trade in nuclear weapons materials. The UN Security Council Resolution 1540 of April 2004 goes in this direction of calling upon states to do more to safeguard their nuclear assets, to stop them being stolen or illicitly transferred and to have more stringent export controls.
So, in conclusion, the nuclear genie is certainly out of the bottle, yes, but that does not necessarily mean that we have to raise our arms in total surrender before the vista of an increasingly dangerous world of irrational nuclear proliferators. The major powers of the world have no interest in that scenario whatsoever. And if they do come together and act together, particularly with the Review Conference of the Proliferation Treaty next year there is still time, to my view, to prevent that proliferation happening.
Now, conclusion: what does that mean for the group of experts and the work in NATO on the Strategic Concept? I think it means essentially three things. The first thing is what can we do at NATO to build relationships with countries like India, China, Russia (with which we have a relationship already), Pakistan and so on? To build a consensus around the view that we have to work together and send a clear common message to potential proliferators, like Iran, to use those networks and partnerships.
Secondly, what should NATO do to become more involved in the arms control debate, the debate about how to establish new rules?
We represent, after all, United States, Canada, the major European countries, we are large part of the voice, we are three Permanent Members of the UN Security Council. And we've been rather quiet on this subject, frankly, in the last few years, as we have been involved in Afghanistan or in the Balkans. To my mind, this is just as important for our security
and we should try to develop common NATO positions at the United Nations in these negotiations and the time is to do that, is to start now.
Conclusion number 3.
NATO still has nuclear weapons as part of its strategy. And I don't see that changing in the immediate future. Particularly if there are some who would be worried that we are going towards a more dangerous and less predictable world, in which the continuing existence of nuclear weapons in the NATO strategy is a kind of hedge – a guarantee against uncertainty, but as we go forward with a view to more arms control, more disarmament one of the really critical questions for the group of experts in the Strategic Concept is how in the Alliance we are going to balance that continuing sense that our deterrence is composed of both nuclear assets, including new capable aircraft based in Europe, as well as reliance upon the American, British and French strategic systems, nuclear weapons, conventional weapons as part of our strategy?
How are we going to balance that against the idea of NATO also being prepared to make its contribution to the broader debate on disarmament and arms control, so that our policy is, if you like, not “one set” for us and “another set” for others.
I think this is going to be one of the central questions, which we in the Alliance will face in the future.
And on that I will thank you very much for your attention. Hope that it will stimulate some questions and now I will do my best to answer. So, who would like to start?
Q: - I was just wondering how NATO would see US – India nuclear deal and its implications for the NPT review conferences?
A: Well, this is being controversial, as you know, including in the United States itself, because on the one hand it does make sense for the United States to engage an important country, like India, in some kind of bilateral negotiation on nuclear issues. Undoubtedly. Because, as I said, India is not a signatory of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty and, therefore, it absolutely makes sense that the US can assist India in developing its peaceful nuclear power by buying a modern American technology, is useful. All the more so, India has the largest population in the world now – 1.2 – 1.3 billion and, like China, its energy is largely based on burning coal, which is a massive environmental polluter. So, if you want to deal with global climate change, having India using less carbon and more alternative fuels, like nuclear, and putting less soot into the atmosphere every day is certainly a common global priority. So, from that point of view it makes a lot of sense.
On the other hand, this of course means, too, that there could be some kind of international involvement in the Indian programme. The real problem is that under this agreement Indian nuclear military programmes are not concerned and some people have sort of expressed anxiety that if India is getting civil nuclear help from the United States, it does not need to use any of its military nuclear fuel for civilian purposes and therefore could obviously use it for its military programmes. The second thing is that, of course, it is not easy when you are dealing with a country, like Iran to say: “Iran, you must be part of the NPT arrangement and conform to these arrangements rigorously”, if Iran sees that India is being given an arrangement, which is outside the NPT. So, my sense is that it depends on the long-term future. If this is a way of bringing India progressively into a multilateral conversation on the role of its nuclear programmes in the way that, and it would be my hope, that this would ultimately bring India into the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, even as a declared nuclear state, subject to safeguards and inspections, this would be a good thing. So, we obviously have to see how the future evolves in that respect.
Q: - Jamie, a few days ago, the media reported that the new German government intends to file a request that the United States would withdraw the nuclear weapons from the German bases. How would that affect the symbolism implied in NATO solidarity? How would that affect the Alliance?
A:- Well, my sense on that is that, well, this is a position that has been expressed in certain circles of the Free Democrats, which is now, as you know, the junior coalition partner in the German government, which was formed yesterday. It is not the position of the CDU, the majority party. And in any coalition, obviously there is compromise. Naturally. Looking at the government programme, it’s not my impression that this will not be put on the NATO agenda any time in the immediate future. Firstly.
The second thing is the United States itself is carrying out nuclear posture review, which means looking at all of America's nuclear weapons, requirements for nuclear weapons, in the US, as well as forward bases. It is due to come out probably in January or February. It makes sense in the Alliance to wait for the US to have its nuclear posture review, because these weapons are all owned by the United States, as you know, (even if some of them are carried in the European aircraft, but these are American weapons) and then it's going to be easier to decide on a NATO policy.
And thirdly, as I mentioned, the Strategic Concept exercise has to look from a NATO-wide prospective at these issues and decide, as I said at the end of my remarks, what is the appropriate balance between continuing to rely upon a minimal nuclear deterrent for one’s security, while contributing to an overall movement, to an overall arms control dynamic, which is reducing still further the role of nuclear weapons in international security.
So before anybody, if you like, fixes on a national position I think it is probably going to be most helpful a) to wait until the American nuclear posture review and, secondly, to wait for the Strategic Concept to analyze that and to come up with recommendations.
It is obviously, as you said yourself, going to be much easier if we all move together as Alliance on this. I should add though that NATO has already carried out very substantial reductions. I mean, when I first joined the Alliance (so long ago that most of you weren't even born, maybe your mums and dads weren't even thinking about you being born either), in those distant days when I joined the Alliance in the 80's we had 7,000 of these nuclear weapons in Europe. I mean, a massive number. Today the actual NATO figure is classified, so I can't give it to you, but it's in the couple of hundreds.
So, there has been this enormous reduction and every NATO communiqué talks about having the lowest number commensurate with our security and further reducing as far as possible the nuclear part of the equation. So, my sense is that the debate is not just about eliminating, the debate is also about continuing, where you can, to reduce to the smallest number, which is commensurate with your security needs. And a lot of this has been done already.
Q: - Why there are so many talks about the programme of Iran, while there are other states in the region, like Israel, that have nuclear weapons? And so on. Why there are so many talks that Iran maybe, eventually, will have nuclear weapons? And there is not so much talking within NATO about the nuclear weapons of Israel?
A: - Good! Thanks very much for that. I think the worry about Iran is two-fold. First of all, we cannot deny this, but there has been a lot of rather bellicose rhetoric from the Iranian leadership, particularly vis-a-vis Israel, as you know. And, of course, when you have a country, which could be acquiring nuclear weapons, but indulging in a very hostile rhetoric against its neighbors and other countries that creates uncertain situations.
Let's be frank. People always ally nuclear weapons to the character of government and regimes, that's clear, and therefore certain regimes create more anxiety than others. Secondly, Iran has a pattern of behavior, which contradicts its official statements. The Iranians say that they are not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons, but then many of their actions in terms of the programmes they run, their reprocessing, a habit of secrecy, for example, are totally consistent with trying to acquire nuclear weapons. For example, Iran is a country, which has vast amounts of oil and natural gas and still has this focus on developing nuclear capability. That's fine, that's perfectly legitimate, because in fact Iranians say if they have nuclear power they can sell their oil and natural gas abroad and have money for it. OK, that's perfectly legitimate. Then why if it's only developing nuclear power for civilian peaceful purposes, why does it refuse offers from Russia, offers from the other countries to give it a guaranteed supply of nuclear fuel? Why continue to insist on having Iranian own processing facility? Why insist on being able to enrich fuel to degrees higher than 3.5%. For example, the latest issue is that Iran is now trying to acquire fuel enriched to above 20%, ostensibly for medical purposes.
What I am saying is that if Iran would be a little bit more transparent... You know, we've recently discovered a secret new processing facility at Qum, which was inspected a couple of days ago by the International Atomic Energy Agency. If there was more sense of trust and transparency, I think it would be easier to deal with. But as long as there is this contradiction between declared so-called peaceful intentions when it comes to civilian power and actual practice of developing or acquiring technologies, which are perfectly consistent with nuclear weapons, I think the West, and not just the West, also other countries, is going to be on the guard. You've got to remember that China and Russia, which are participating in the negotiations, in the past have also backed sanctions for a lack of total cooperation with United Nations on this.
Q: - But why not on Israel?...It is hostile also to its neighbors like Lebanon, Syria. It also does not have transparency policy towards the NPT and towards other international organizations. If Muhammad al-Barade'i has visited Israel and talked with Sharon about eventually inspecting the nuclear facilities, but I am never hearing Western media and Western policy-makers to have the same policy on Israel. Why don't the Western policy-makers have the same policy on Israel? – to be harsh, to look at the nuclear facilities and so on...?
A. - I take your point, to the extent that it’s true. As I said, one of the issues here is the avoidance of a sense of double standards. I referred to this quite a lot in my remarks. Now, Israel is not part of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, you're correct. And Israel has kept a practice of great secrecy about its nuclear programme.
Indeed, there was a very interesting moment when the former Prime Minister Olmert declared in Berlin a year ago shortly before he stepped down that Israel did have a nuclear capability and this created a scandal in Israel because it was for the first time that the Prime Minister had broken away from the policy of “neither confirming, nor denying” on this particular issue but generally assumed that yes, Israel does have a nuclear capability and it is the case that many other countries justify, for example, programmes in chemical weapons or biological weapons, (which they call the “poor man’s” nuclear bomb) by the need to have some kind of capacity vis-a-vis Israel; and my sense is that – yes, what we should be doing is ultimately bringing all countries, including India and Pakistan, and I said this a moment ago, North Korea too, back into a universal nuclear proliferation regime, in which everybody would be respecting the same rules.
But if we have a situation where we tolerate the ongoing addition of new nuclear powers to the eight that we already have, this is going to become infinitely hard. So, irrespective of the merits of Israel or any other state, to my mind, we have to, at least, sort of stabilize the situation around the idea that we are not going to tolerate, to the extent that we can, the emergence of new nuclear powers. Let's consolidate where we are and then bring everybody into the system and then go down but you can't on the one hand be tolerating more nuclear powers entering the scene, while you are trying to, as I said, to put the genie back into the bottle and go down.
Again, a lot has to do with the character of the states. Israel doesn't go around threatening to destroy other states, to remove them from the map. You tend to link these weapons inevitably to the character of certain regimes and certain governments and some cause more anxiety than others. This is simply a fact of life. Clearly, your generation hasn't worried about these issues as much as my generation did.
Q: - On Pakistan. What's NATO's assessment of the probability of terrorist networks acquiring nuclear weapons capabilities? What is NATO' view and what could be done about it?
A: - One fear has always been that nuclear states would become destabilized. We already had, (when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, you remember particularly in the Bush Administration, George H. W. Bush), a great deal of anxiety about “loose nukes”. – What would happen?...
Particularly, as Ukraine (overnight, because of the collapse of the Soviet Union) became the world's second, or third biggest nuclear power for a while. And then there was a lot of hard American diplomacy to persuade Ukraine to give those weapons back to Russia in exchange for American economic assistance. So that was massive proliferation problem, which was thankfully avoided. But I use this as an example to show that – yes, there is always anxiety about what would happen if a nuclear state collapses into chaos or a much more different, much more radical hostile regime would take over.
When it comes to Pakistan, I don't have details because they are very, very secretly guarded about the safety measures surrounding the Pakistani nuclear weapons. What the little that I know suggests to me is that the Pakistani military is very aware of this and has those weapons under very tight guard and command and control. That said, two weeks ago there was an attack against the Pakistani main army base Rawalpindi, which you saw, when terrorists successfully penetrated that extremely guarded base and then took over one of the buildings. It was eventually dealt with, but it does show that terrorists, yes, can get inside Pakistani army bases. Still, my sense is that these weapons are closely guarded.
The scenario that would concern us is not that the terrorists will smash their way into the army base and steal a nuclear weapon. No, it's obviously more complicated than this. The real danger would be if the different form of government will take over, which would be a very radicalized, very hostile government, which then obviously would have control over those nuclear weapons. What is our policy there to make sure this does not happen? – Obviously by supporting the present civilian government, President Zardari, as much as possible.
And you see the United States for example moving in this direction already by, for instance, creating a new aid budget of a billion dollars over the next five years for Pakistan, so that Pakistan can invest in schools, in development of its economy and so on, to preserve stability. It's no good just fighting the radicals, no matter how welcome (in Waziristan or Swat Valley), if you don't have another programme, which is, of course, to develop the Pakistani economy.
That said, I am quite sure, without knowing the details, that the United States has a dialogue with the Pakistani authorities on these issues.
And you know, the US has got lots of experience in the safety of nuclear weapons, particularly, the so-called PALs (permissive action locks), which certain keys and codes are making impossible to use a nuclear weapon, unless you're a part of state authority. And for example, the United States over the years invested very heavily in Russia, in the former Soviet Union in safeguarding nuclear sites, working on security and so on. So, there is a programme. For example, you may recall Senator Dick Lugar, Senator Nunn, who developed something called the “Cooperative Threat Reduction Programme” in the former Soviet Union to help, particularly Russia, improve the safety of its system and I am sure that something similar could be easily developed for Pakistan as well.
Q: - You shortly mentioned the Fissile Materials Test Ban Treaty...
Shea: - Yes, the Cut-off Treaty. Sounds painful, doesn't it?
Q: - Do you think there is a chance that there will be one very soon in the short term, or not?
A: - Well, that's a good question.
I think that the Obama Administration certainly wants to revitalize these Treaties. As you know, one of the main problems, frankly, that we had in the last 10 or 15 years was the sense that the country with largest stocks of nuclear weapons, the United States, was not the one, which was setting the example. You remember, the United States did not ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, for example, at the time. The problem in Washington was that the Congress wanted to see a 100% perfect treaty. But you know if you, in life, will only ever accept the 100% perfect solution to anything...you know, the 100% perfect wife or the 100% perfect husband or the 100% perfect job, you know, or the 100% perfect children – you'll never get them! Or you'd be waiting a long time. And therefore, to use a phrase, “the perfect became the enemy of the good”, and I think in the sense that the United States was not committed also had a spill-over effect into areas, like the Cut-off Treaty. Or another thing, which that I didn't have time to mention today, is the Verification Regime for the Biological Weapons Convention, which still lacks proper verification regime.
Now the Obama Administration has promised to reverse this and, I think, this is obviously going to increase the prospects. But the issue will be the following, and this has already happened with Iran. The Iranians, coming back to your question, say: “Look, you tell us not to process our own nuclear fuel, you tell us to rely upon a fuel bank, but how can we be guaranteed that that we will have that access to the fuel bank? That you are not going to suddenly say ‘a-ha, gotcha! We’re cutting it off’, because you haven't behaved or you have done something that we don't like or whatever?”
For example, the Iranians were in a consortium called EURODIF where they had a 10% share but they were cut out of it. So they say: “Look, you guys broke your promises to us in the past, so how can we trust you? And, therefore, we will process our own fuel, because that's the only guarantee we have...”
So, we are going to have to come up with a sort of international treaty that does guarantee countries access to fuel, irrespective, if you like, their foreign policies. Because if there is the sense that you make hostile statements and the next day – “bang! You’re cut-off!”, then the countries would want to have their own processing facility and the Cut-off Treaty will become an impossibility.
So we are going to think very hard about this idea of guaranteeing access and delink it from the fact that we don't like a particular country or its day-to-day politics.
Right...Well, in that case I would like to thank you all for being here today and for being such a good audience and, as I said, the next one will be on climate change and I hope you will be here on that occasion as well.
Look forward to seeing you again.
Thank you very much.