Daniel Durand is Secrétaire national, le Mouvement de la paix, France
Each of the panelists at the Consultation on NATO Nuclear Policy, National Missile Defence & Alternative Security Arrangement, held in Ottawa on September 28-31, 2001, was asked to submit a short paper relating to the topic of their presentation. The other Consultation participants were asked to submit brief papers responding to one or more of the following questions:
1. What changes to its nuclear policies should NATO be realistically asked to make, in the context of the current review, to move it towards fuller compliance with global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation obligations and imperatives?
2. Are there realistic and credible alternative means of addressing the security concerns that underlie current U.S. interest in missile defense?
3. What are the most realistic short-term or interim measures that should be taken by nuclear weapon states and nuclear alliances to demonstrate a commitment to significantly reducing the political legitimacy and value of nuclear weapons in order to contribute to the goal of elimination?
Building a world relieved of nuclear weapons to make sure the 21st Century does not repeat the horrors and crimes of the 20th century is a demand shared by a majority of people. Yet, in New York, last May 19, non-nuclear weapon states, ” middle ” powers often, and peace organisations have had to put pressure for the NPT Review Conference to come out with a text that really binds nuclear powers to their commitments towards Article VI of the NPT.
The fact that an ” unequivocal commitment ” was reached on the last day and in the last hour of the Conference, even with no specific timebound framework, shows the very limited determination of nuclear powers to envisage alternative security policies to nuclear weapons.
Four months after the New York Conference, public opinion is still waiting for signals of flexibility and of good will to revive the discussion process on nuclear disarmament at the Geneva Conference on Disarmament.
On the contrary, over the last four months, New York’s “improvement ” has been darkened by the stubborn determination of the US administration to conduct its preparation tests of NMD and of a new theater missile defense (TMD). The postponement by the Clinton administration to 2001 of the adoption of this programme is not tantamount to a change of course but results from growing discontent among European and Chinese governments and of the broadened network of opposing organizations that have been preparing for a world protest day on next October 7.
Gaining the implementation of NPT Conference recommendations will require quite an amount of tenacity. Each nuclear-weapon state must take their own initiatives. This is why in France several organizations have urged France to show her will to revive the nuclear weapon elimination process by breaking off her ” modernization ” programme. Nobody would understand in France that after this “unequivocal” commitment towards nuclear weapons elimination (point 6 of the text adopted in New York), after being committed to “more efforts … to unilaterally reduce their nuclear arsenals ” (point 9 of the same text), France could build a fourth nuclear ballistic missile submarine in Brittany, new M51 nuclear missiles and new nuclear warheads (TNN)…. Nobody would understand that after being committed to a “moratorium on explosive tests of nuclear weapons or any other nuclear explosion until the entry into force of the CTBT ” (point 2 of the same text). Nobody would understand that France carries on her research programme in Le Barp near Bordeaux that will use mini explosions conducted by a megajoule laser, to design new atomic warheads…
Nuclear powers could also decide immediately on a moratorium on their research at the Livermore laboratory (California) and in Bordeaux (France) to allow for a complete and rapid ratification of the CTBT, including India and Pakistan. This would bring back these two countries into the disarmament and non-proliferation process.
The underground nuclear tests moratorium played a major role in the conclusion of a CTBT.
Nuclear-weapon states also have the responsibility to unleash the Geneva Conference on Disarmament by creating a committee capable of dealing with all the issues related to nuclear armament elimination.
Any revival of a complete elimination process of nuclear weapons has to be followed by improved international confidence-building and collective security measures.
A number of experts consider that the US administration fears for possible ballistic threats from North Korea or some Arabic states were overestimated. It would be worth studying the Millenium NGO Forum proposal about the construction of a world alert system on missile shots and the organization of a Conference to stop manufacturing ground missiles and long-range bombers.
Confidence building in international relations has been deteriorating: the reluctance of China and Russia has grown after the NMD programme was announced but also after the change of NATO’s strategic concept and its enlargement process to Eastern Europe.
Some NATO unilateral initiatives in the field of nuclear weapons could be some of the first positive signals given. The withdrawal of all the nuclear weapons from the territory of one of the NATO states (outside the United States) – France or the United Kingdom could be a simple and realistic mesure if verifiable and organized in a policy of openness.
NATO declared that to date, no nuclear weapons would be moved to the new applying countries from Central Europe. A reasonable solution could be to further the creation of a nuclear weapon-free zone from the Baltic to the Black Sea. The extension of these areas is actually specified in the final text of the New York declaration.
Other simple measures have been mentioned enough not to repeat them (putting warheads off alert, no first use guarantees). One of the new elements of the post-Cold War period in the nuclear disarmament field could be to increase measures of open policies and of control in verification processes by associating NGO representatives, who, in this field also, have shown growing evidence of their skills and qualifications.
This leads me to consider that the recommendation of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to hold a world conference regarding appropriate measures to be taken in order to get rid of nuclear threats, deserves broad support. This proposal was supported by all NGOs in the adopted declaration of the Forum “We, the peoples…” of last May. We have to take action now so that States, including nuclear-weapon states or NATO states, vigourously join in this declaration. Then, no power could really oppose it.