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TacNukes News No. 10

TacNukes News summarizes recent developments and resources covering tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) in Europe. In this edition of TacNukes News, the political and security environment relevant to making progress on tactical nuclear weapons arms control continued to deteriorate as Russia-U.S. relations worsened and the Ukraine crisis showed no signs of winding down.

This newsletter is compiled and distributed by BASIC. As part of a broader joint project on reducing the role of TNW in Europe, BASIC is cooperating with the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), with funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

The views expressed in the resources and references below do not necessarily reflect those of the project funder or partners.


The current project page is available here on BASIC’s website.

This will be the last newsletter as the project concludes, but you can subscribe to BASIC’s other email updates to stay on top of these issues and more.


 

IN THIS EDITION

  • PARTNER-RELATED PUBLICATIONS

    • The Ukraine Crisis and Control of Weapons of Mass Destruction: Impacts on German Arms Control Objectives

    • The Experience of Nuclear Weapon-Free Zones

    • A glance at the Ukraine crisis’s impact on nuclear weapons considerations

  • ARMS CONTROL

    • NATO Deputy Secretary General affirms hope for arms control; prospects under additional strain with INF dispute

  • NATO AND RUSSIA

    • Ukraine crisis, military exercises bring more attention to nuclear postures

  • UNITED STATES

    • Congressional committee worried about B61 bomb costs but recommends full financial support

  • COMING UP

    • Release of UK Defence Committee report on NATO

    • NATO Summit


 

PARTNER PUBLICATIONS

  • The Ukraine Crisis and Control of Weapons of Mass Destruction: Impacts on German Arms Control Objectives

    Excerpt: “Russia’s annexation of Crimea will make it harder for Germany to achieve its disarmament and non-proliferation objectives. Joint action by Russia and the United States to reduce their strategic nuclear arsenals appears unlikely in the medium term. And that reduces the chances of tactical nuclear weapons being included – as Germany would prefer – in a future arms control accord. While existing nuclear arms control agreements have not thus far been openly called into question, they may yet become consumed by the ongoing Ukraine crisis.”
    -Oliver Meier, SWP Comments, June 2014
  • The Experience of Nuclear Weapon-Free Zones
    This report examines nuclear weapon-free zones and the lessons-learned that could be applied to the issue of tactical nuclear weapons currently based in Europe. The report was originally a background paper for the SWP-BASIC workshop on: “Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons in Europe: Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures in Practice”, Berlin, March 27-28, 2014.
    -Marc Finaud, BASIC Report, May 29, 2014


 

ARMS CONTROL

Deputy Secretary General affirms hope for arms control; prospects under additional strain with INF dispute

NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow addressed the alliance’s annual conference on WMD Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-proliferation (June 23rd, Interlaken, Switzerland), and reflected on the implications of the increasingly troubled relationship between Russia and NATO countries for future arms control progress:

“One of the issues that we have sought to discuss with Russia was transparency on short-range nuclear weapons. We felt that the vast asymmetry in numbers between Russia and NATO would make negotiations about their reduction or eventual elimination difficult and protracted. But we also felt that transparency measures would serve a most useful purpose: to enhance our security by building trust. Regretfully, that trust is now at a new low.

I do not believe we are entering a new Cold War, as some observers suggest. Even during the darkest days of the Cold War, NATO sought engagement with the Soviet Union. And perhaps we need to revisit some of the approaches that we developed during that period. Even if some of our interests during the Cold War were irreconcilable, we managed to make progress in other areas. And we concluded some far-reaching arms control agreements. Such an approach – pragmatic, and without overblown expectations – might be the right way forward again now.”

The environment for reaching new arms control agreements further dimmed as the United States publicly confirmed on July 28th previous reports, saying that Russia violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty by flight-testing a ground-launched cruise missile in a range prohibited by the agreement (NYT, 7/28). The INF Treaty, agreed between the United States and the Soviet Union in 1987, bans missiles with a range between 500-5,500 km (about 310-3,400 miles). Moscow has denied the contention in the past. Washington is expected to try to resolve the issue with Moscow and to keep the treaty in force (Reuters, 7/29), but the process ahead may be difficult, and the dispute further sets back the confidence needed to address other arms control issues, including on TNW.

Further Reading


 

NATO and RUSSIA

Ukraine crisis, military exercises bring more attention to nuclear postures
Near the end of May, when asked whether NATO might decide to deploy tactical nuclear weapons on newer member territory because of the Ukraine crisis, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen asserted: "At this stage, I do not foresee any NATO request to change the content of the NATO-Russia Founding Act (the 1997 agreement)" (Reuters, 5/19).   The agreement, in part, affirms that NATO will refrain from deploying nuclear weapons or basing large numbers of foreign troops on the territory of its newer member states that joined the alliance during three waves of eastward enlargement between 1999 and 2009. The United States had earlier in the month deployed B-2 and B-52 nuclear-capable strategic bombers to Europe as part of an annual exercise. U.S. Strategic Command said in its press release that the timing was “unrelated to real-world events”.

Russia announced that it was including its Iskander-M tactical missiles (a nuclear-capable system) in previously-scheduled military exercises from May 27-June 5, in the “Western Military District” (GSN, 6/2).  The district includes the Kaliningrad exclave, an area between NATO allies Lithuania and Poland. Russia warned in the past that they would deploy tactical Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad if the United States and NATO proceeded with the deployment of missile defense in Europe (TacNukes No. 8, Russia, 2/24).  There was no confirmation that the system was deployed to Kaliningrad in particular.

 

Further Reading and Resources


 

UNITED STATES

Congressional committee worried about B61 bomb costs but recommends full financial support

The U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and WaterB61-12 Development and Related Agencies recommended meeting the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA’s) full request of $643 million for the B61 Life Extension Program in FY 2015, but warned “...the high cost of the program will continue to exert significant pressure on the NNSA’s budget.” (See p. 130 of June 20th report accompanying bill H.R. 4923, passed July 10, referred to Senate July 14. The Senate’s report has not yet been made available to the public.)

[B61-12 --Photo credit: NNSA]
 

Further Reading


 

COMING UP

  • The UK Defence Committee will publish a report on “Towards The Next Defence And Security Review: Part Two–NATO”
    The Report will be available on the Committee’s website: www.parliament.uk/defcom starting July 31, 2014.

  • NATO Summit in Wales, United Kingdom, September 4-5, 2014
    Review of relations with Russia and impact of the situation in Ukraine, the transition in Afghanistan, a readiness action plan for allies, and defense capacity building for non-NATO countries, are expected to be among the issues on the agenda. NATO website: www.nato.int

 

NATO-Wales.jpg

British Foreign Secretary Hague and NATO Secretary-General Rasmussen unveil 2014 NATO Wales Summit logo
Brussels, Belgium, June 25, 2014. [Photo credit: U.S. State Department]

 

 

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