Asan Plenum

A View from Germany

At the end of the East-West Conflict, European nuclear security was deeply enhanced by the total disarmament of all U.S. and Soviet INF weapon delivery systems. This was followed by deep reductions of the deployed strategic nuclear delivery systems of both superpowers, and by measures of military confidence building. Germany, France and others supported this process by the unilateral dismantlement of their land-based short range nuclear delivery systems. President Bush and General Secretary Gorbachev contributed to it further with the unilateral withdrawal of most of the tactical nuclear weapons from Europe. France and UK, the only nuclear powers in the EU, reduced their nuclear forces unilaterally, but they did not participate in strategic nuclear arms control. The Nunn-Lugar Initiative and the European TACIS programme flanked these efforts.

Obama`s speech in Prague, the reset in U.S. – Russia relations, and NSTART, offer a new opportunity to enhance nuclear security in Europe. The European Security environment has changed too as consequence of the NATO and EU enlargements, the asymmetric security structure between NATO and Russia and the growing importance of conventional weapons, namely missile defense and the possibility of long range and prompt global strike. Now this is a major challenge for the conceptual restructuring of future conventional and nuclear disarmament and arms control in Europe. Furthermore, perceptions of challenges to security in Europe vary a lot, as a consequence of different historical experiences. Mistrust between Russia and NATO aggravate an early solution. Also, possible external threats can have a growing impact. With regional military cooperation in missile defense, NATO and Russia have a procedural solution for the missile issue, but the regulation of its details needs more time than anticipated. For Russia the final solution of the missile issue seems to be a precondition to go ahead on conventional and nuclear arms control in Europe.

However, without a further development of the cooperative security structure in Europe, future cooperation with Russia on nuclear security issues may run into trouble. This may create challenges for global non-proliferation and the future of the NPT.