November 21, 2016

Nuclear Deterrence, NATO and the Role of Parliamentarians

The new NATO Strategic Concept (November 2010) and the Defence and Deterrence Posture Review (May 2012) are rather disappointing.

In March 2010 the Deutsche Bundestag (German Parliament) passed a resolution sponsored by all parties (except the Left), that dealt with the future of nuclear weapons.

In the context of the ongoing debate on a new strategic concept we encouraged our government to engage within NATO for a diminished role of nuclear weapons, and to promote the idea of arms control and disarmament – nuclear and conven-tional. We further requested our government to actively seek the removal of nuclear weapons from German soil. In addition, we promoted the idea of a Nuclear Weapons Convention.

In another motion, sponsored by the Social Dem-ocrats we voiced protest against the modernization of tactical nuclear weapons and called for negotiations on sub-strategic nuclear weapons.

We had hoped that the Strategic Concept would accept arms control and disarmament – be it nu-clear or conventional – as an important element of NATO’s security agenda, and that the new Strategic Concept would accept the reality that NATO has no use for nuclear weapons, and that nuclear deterrence is a relic of the Cold War.

We also urged NATO in our resolution in the Deutsche Bundestag to enter a restrictive policy concerning Missile Defence, in order to consider Russia’s security interests and fears.

Not much of this has materialized. Fact is that NATO “maintains the full range of capabilities necessary to deter and defend against any threat to the safety and security of our populations”1NATO. “NATO Strategic Concept and the Defense and Deterrence Posture Review.” May 20, 2012. http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/official_texts_87597.h tm?mode=pressrelease. , and that to this respect it declares nuclear weapons a core component of its capabilities, and that the current nuclear force posture is necessary. NATO declares that “as long as nuclear weapons exist NATO will remain a nuclear alliance”2Ibid. . To make things more complicated, the new Posture Review confirms that – although seeking to create the conditions for further reductions of non-strategic nuclear weapons assigned to NATO – those allies where US non-strategic nuclear weapons are sta-tioned will ensure that all components of NATO’s nuclear deterrent “remain safe, secure and effective for as long as NATO remains a nuclear alliance”.3Ibid.

What does this mean? European allies are respon-sible for the carriers. In the case of Germany this is the Tornado. Do we have to buy new carriers or modernize Tornado, when the U.S. modernizes their non-strategic nuclear weapons? The Tornado should have been phased out by 2012 – it was prolonged – for how many years? 2025, or even longer?

Our task is to work strongly towards preventing modernization of US non-strategic nuclear weap-ons, and start a new attempt in European countries to remove these weapons from European soil.

We have to get away from nuclear sharing and thus come to new arrangements to reduce NATO’s reliance on non-strategic nuclear weapons.

NATO should be obliged to adhere to the Action Plan of the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference and start implementation also in its own policies. NATO includes three nuclear weapon states: the United States, Great Britain and France. All the other states are non-nuclear weapon states, and they should press the nuclear weapon states to comply with their obligations out of the NPT: “accelerate concrete progress on the steps leading to nuclear disarmament” as agreed up in action 5 of the 2010 Action Plan.4United Nations. 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Final Document, Vol. I, UN document NPT/CONF.2010/50, p. 21. http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=NPT/ CONF.2010/50%20(VOL.I).

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • UTA ZAPF is a German politician and member of the Bundestag. Since 1998, she has been the chairperson of the subcommittee for “Disarmament, Arms Control, and Nonproliferation” of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Bundestag. In addition, she serves as Co-President of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND) and is a member of the European Leadership Network and Global Zero. She specializes in disarmament, security policy, arms control, crisis prevention and Southeastern Europe. After studying literature, she became a teacher in adult education and is also a freelance editor.

References   [ + ]

1. NATO. “NATO Strategic Concept and the Defense and Deterrence Posture Review.” May 20, 2012. http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/official_texts_87597.h tm?mode=pressrelease.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. United Nations. 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Final Document, Vol. I, UN document NPT/CONF.2010/50, p. 21. http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=NPT/ CONF.2010/50%20(VOL.I).
Rob van Riet

About Rob van Riet

Rob van Riet is Coordinator of the Disarmament Programme at the World Future Council. In addition, he has been U.K. Coordinator of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament (PNND) since 2011 and has served as the Director of the Nuclear Abolition Forum since its founding in 2011. He was a co-author of the InterParliamentary Union/PNND Parliamentary Handbook Supporting Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, released during the 127th Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly in Quebec City, Canada, in October 2012.

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