Friday, 24 December 2010

Wikileaks Reveals Secret US Government Contact With North Pole?

NATO Monitor has a policy of not using Wikileaks cables and this unsourced cable has not been verified. However, its importance for NATO security in the High North cannot be doubted, so, at this time of year we believe it is appropriate to publish it in full so that our readers can make up their own minds. NATO Monitor cannot verify the source or author of the cable, but believe that the author is a genius!












SUBJECT: Upcoming Arctic Negotiations - Background for USDEL

(SU/NF) Negotiations scheduled for December 16 in [location redacted] represent an important opportunity for the USG to improve relations with a globally influential Northern neighbor while increasing the delivery of child-oriented luxury/leisure goods to the United States. This cable provides background information on the North Pole’s enigmatic leader and his policies.


(SU/NF) Mr. Santa Claus is the undisputed leader of North Pole. He has been in power for many generations, and we see no prospect for polar regime change. While reported to be “jolly,” some overseas critics note that North Pole has never had an election, and that workers there toil under intense deadline pressure (one BIG deadline!). These workers - referred to disparagingly as “elves” -- work in what - but for the temperature! - would be referred to as “sweat shop conditions.” Claus is said often be quite cross with the elves -- one contact characterized his leadership and management style as “an iron fist in a red flannel glove.”

(SU/NF) Claus dominates the political and economic life of one of the world’s most isolated societies. Communication with the outside world is limited to one delivery of mail each year (mid-December, incoming only).

Claus is the only citizen permitted to travel, and he only leaves North Pole once each year. Perhaps in an indication of concerns about personal security we note that Claus ALWAYS travels at night, and never publishes his itinerary.


(SU/NF) Through his connections in Hollywood, Claus has over the years carefully cultivated the image of a kindly, avuncular senior citizen. But behind the scenes he has shown himself to be capable playing an almost Nixonian brand of political hardball. He seems to have a harsh, black and white, good and evil, with-us-or-with-the-terrorist worldview. We are told that each fall, Claus’s staff prepares for him a worldwide “enemies list.”

Enemies are listed as “naughty,” friends as “nice.” To prepare this list, Claus seems to make use of a sophisticated intelligence network. One staffer told us (in an arrogant tone): “Look, it’s like this: He’s gonna find out who’s naughty and nice.” And then, a threat: “You better not pout, you better not cry.” Claus himself reportedly checks the enemies list… twice.


(SU/NF) Claus has reportedly surrounded himself with a small group of sycophantic advisors. We hear from contacts that no dissent is tolerated.

Claus’s wife (Mrs. Claus) is widely seen as “the real power behind the toy bag.” Also influential is a my sterious figure referred to only by his first name: Rudolf. Claus frequently seeks “guidance” from this person.

Post has not had contact with him, but the name does raise the prospect of Russian influence. Other influential advisors reportedly include staffers named Donner and Prancer. Claus’s relationship with an aide nick-named “Vixen” has raised eyebrows in conservative, traditional North Pole society and has caused unsubstantiated rumors of personal indiscretion.


(SU/NF) There have also been rumors of substance abuse. One sarcastic doggerel that has recently been muttered by Claus-critics (with obvious use of drug slang) says: “The stump of a PIPE he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke it encircled his HEAD like a wreath...” Other observers note that Claus is almost constantly giggling: One contact notes: “He has a broad face and a little round belly that shakes when he laughs like a bowlful of jelly.” Another observer told us: “His eyes-how they twinkled!

His dimples were merry. His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry. His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow. And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.” Our DEA office note that Claus and his inner circle seem to have developed a sophisticated global shipment network that allows for clandestine delivery of packages. They also note that Claus and his advisors are frequently overheard discussing “snow” and “ice” and “candy.” Clearly, the rumors of drug abuse have to be given some credence.


(SU/NF) The North Pole economy is highly seasonal, and is dominated by the export of leisure/luxury goods aimed primarily at the under 10 demographic. The Claus government recently came under criticism after the IMF carried out its first ever Article IV consultations. North Pole exports were found to exceed imports by 6,000,000 percent. In fact, the IMF found essentially no imports (they bring in only a small quantity of egg-nog). This trade surplus has caused one prominent Washington pundit to claim that the “North Pole makes China look like a free and open currency market.”

(SU/NF) Rumors of Claus’s alleged communist leanings were quite common during the Cold War years. Observers frequently noted that Claus ALWAYS dressed in red, and promoted “a gift-based economy.”

(SU/NF) There is a strong internationalist and humanitarian streak in North Pole economic policy. International Development is a high priority - Claus attempted to add an additional goal (The Right to Toys!) to the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. He is a big supporter of UNICEF.


(SU/NF) Claus’s views on environmental issues are nuanced: for obvious reasons he is deeply concerned about global warming, but he has not been a strong supporter of CITES and other efforts to protect endangered species.

He is clearly not fond of Polar Bears, quipping to the press that “Those damn bears are always trying to eat the elves” and that if it was up to him, “they’d be a whole lot more endangered.” Claus does, however, seem quite fond of Reindeer. And Post believes we can count on North Pole support for our efforts to save the whales. Claus has no strong feelings on Cetaceans, but we hear that he has a long-standing grudge against Iceland (a whaling country). This is apparently related to a 1979 episode in which a bouncer at a Reykjavik night club denied Mr. Claus and his elf entourage access, and made disparaging comments about both their attire and their physiques.

(SU/NF) Perhaps in another indication of his concern about global warming Claus has made “a lump of coal” an important symbol of societal disapproval.


(SU/NF) For many years Claus and his staff have annually flaunted international flight clearance procedures, and he regularly crosses borders without submitting to document checks or customs inspections. This has recently caused FOX News to question Claus’s commitment to the war on terror. DHS is very concerned that Claus’s very lax immigration policies and non-existent border controls are making the North Pole a potential avenue for the infiltration of terrorists into the United States. Claus himself has frequently come close to arrest (usually on charges of trespassing or breaking and entering).

(SU/NF) Claus obviously could be a key figure in the coming war for the Arctic. While we cannot take his support for granted, we are encouraged by the participation of North Pole assets in an annual U.S. Marine Corps exercise (“Toys For Tots”).


(SU/NF) USDEL should be aware that North Pole culture puts a premium on late night socializing. The preferred beverage is milk (WHOLE milk) and the preferred food is cookies (CHOCOLATE cookies). Carrots are also sometimes provided. Most entertaining takes place close to chimneys.


(SU/NF) Long considered the alpha dog of the high north, Claus has a complex personality that mixes a strong ego, a desire to be the center of attention, and a burning desire for adoration and celebrity. He is a very challenging diplomatic interlocutor. While he has his flaws, Post believes that Claus will be in power for many centuries to come. Like him or not, we believe that Santa Claus is a leader we can and should work with.

New START Ratification Resolution Establishes US Policy on Tactical Nuclear Disarmament Talks in Europe

The US Senate ratified the new START strategic arms treaty on December 22nd, despite intense partisan opposition from those determined to inflict a defeat on President Obama. Secretary General Rasmussen welcomed the ratification on behalf of NATO allies who endorsed the treaty strongly in the Lisbon Summit declaration. While the treaty is modest in its aims, failure to ratify would have been a tremendous blow for the US and NATO in relations with Russia.

Interestingly, the ratification resolution makes it US policy to open talks with Russia on tactical nuclear weapons within a year of entry-into-force of the Treaty, and in the meantime to work on increasing transparency between the US and Russia on tactical nuclear weapons, and to extend cooperative threat reduction to assuring the safety and security of Russian weapons. NATO allies are to be consulted.

While the ratification debate has been marked by a generally negative tone and anti-Russian sentiment, this provision is to be welcomed. having refused to discuss these issues for years, Republicans in the Senate sought to criticise new START for not dealing with tacnukes. As a result, this clause was added to the ratification resolution. NATO has already allowed for this in the outcome of the Lisbon Summit and it is to be hoped that ratification by the Duma will allow these talks to go forward.

The resolution can be found here and on tacnukes reads:
(12) Tactical nuclear weapons .-(A) Prior to the entry into force of the New START Treaty, the President shall certify to the Senate that- 
i) the United States will seek to initiate, following consultation with NATO allies but not later than one year after the entry into force of the New START Treaty, negotiations with the Russian Federation on an agreement to address the disparity between the non-strategic (tactical) nuclear weapons stockpiles of the Russian Federation and of the United States and to secure and reduce tactical nuclear weapons in a verifiable manner; and

(ii) it is the policy of the United States that such negotiations shall not include defensive missile systems.
(B) Not later than one year after the entry into force of the New START Treaty, and annually thereafter for the duration of the New START Treaty or until the conclusion of an agreement pursuant to subparagraph (A), the President shall submit to the Committees on Foreign Relations and Armed Services of the Senate a report-
(i) detailing the steps taken to conclude the agreement cited in subparagraph (A); and
(ii) analyzing the reasons why such an agreement has not yet been concluded.
(C) Recognizing the difficulty the United States has faced in ascertaining with confidence the number of tactical nuclear weapons maintained by the Russian Federation and the security of those weapons, the Senate urges the President to engage the Russian Federation with the objectives of-
(i) establishing cooperative measures to give each Party to the New START Treaty improved confidence regarding the accurate accounting and security of tactical nuclear weapons maintained by the other Party; and
(ii) providing United States or other international assistance to help the Russian Federation ensure the accurate accounting and security of its tactical nuclear weapons.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Senior UK Leaders on NATO Nuclear Policy

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Lord Owen and Lord Browne, all former ministers, have written an article on NATO nuclear policy for the website of the European Leadership Network for Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, in which they are prominent members.  They write that:
the new Concept must allow for NATO’s founding ideas of collective defence, the transatlantic link, and burden-sharing to be retained but applied to challenges far different from those faced at the time of the Alliance’s formation. This is far from an easy task but it is a vital one, and nowhere is it more needed than in the area of NATO nuclear policy.

This is surely correct, and nuclear policy has been an area where the Alliance has been , most resistant to change, with its members (except perhaps the Balts) all knowing that the current situation is untenable, but tip-toeing around a rather awkward problem. Indeed, they write:
In our view, if NATO is to remain of central relevance to the security challenges we face today, the Alliance must address this issue head-on and not seek to by-pass it.
In order to achieve a 'reduction and consolidation' of the 180 or so US nuclear weapons still forward based in Europe, the ELN urges NATO to work with cooperatively with Russia and:
To facilitate this engagement, we are also calling for an updated Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty and for the NATO-Russia Council to support cooperative dialogue with Russia on ballistic missile defence.
They also call for a reduction in the salience of nuclear forces in NATO doctrine, for the Alliance to state that the only role for nuclear weapons is to deter nuclear attack. This would build on US and UK changes in doctrine which have, de facto, already shifted Alliance nuclear use doctrine in this direction. They warn to that if the Alliance doesn't act together then a series of uncoordinated unilateral national decisions will undoubtedly weaken the Alliance. This is surely true. NATO members including Germany and Belgium are very unlikely to spend the billions of Euros needed to renew their dual-use aircraft over the coming decade or so, without which their nuclear mission will simply wither away.

In addition, the basis of NATO nuclear sharing is a legal ruling in the US in the 1960s that, in times of 'general war' the NPT has failed in its purpose and is no longer in force. The NPT RevCon this spring agreed unanimously that the NPT remains in force under all circumstances. This opens NATO policy up to international challenge, since all NATO states agreed with this RevCon interpretation.

As the NATO deterrence review moves forward, the Atlantic Alliance can either take hold of this issue and decisively lead in international non-proliferation and disarmament efforts, or it can just let the drift continue, thus weakening the Alliance, as these former defence and foreign ministers of the right and the left have so correctly said.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Good Advice for NATO from the European Leadership Network

NATO Monitor didn't post on the release of this European Leadership Network statement on NATO nuclear policy at the time. But now NATO has agreed to hold a deterrence review, it is worth a good look.

The ELN is a trans-European network of senior statesmen and women who are working for multilateral nuclear disarmament, and for a secure Europe. They come from most European countries, north south east and west, from Ireland to Russia, from Norway to Greece. The network is comprised of former defence, foreign and prime ministers, as well as senior generals. They are conservatives, christian democrats, liberals, social democrats, socialists and greens. They have enormous experience in international security work, and their views merit attention.

In the case of NATO nuclear policy, their statement notably calls for a greater emphasis by NATO on arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament as tools for security-building and asks some very pertinent questions:

  • What can NATO do to help establish safe conditions for the adoption of deterring nuclear attack as the sole purpose for its nuclear weapons, consistent with the declaratory policy goal as stated in the US NPR and with our suggested ambition to reduce the number and roles of nuclear weapons in the NATO arsenal?

  • Are NATO’s current nuclear arrangements the only available and credible option for providing European allies with reassurance against nuclear threats? What alternative options are available that could provide this reassurance while also allowing NATO to do more to support international moves toward multilateral nuclear disarmament? What might the risks and benefits of each of these alternatives be?

  • What alternatives to current nuclear burden-sharing arrangements might be available, if any, that could both maintain the political cohesion of the alliance and maintain the principle that nuclear risks and burdens are shared across the alliance?

  • How can NATO best maximise the security of nuclear weapons on its own territory?

  • What would the implications of any changes to NATO nuclear policy be for NATO relations with Russia, approaches to reassurance on Article V commitments within the alliance, and consideration of issues such as missile defence and conventional forces in Europe?

  • This is exactly the kind of debate NATO needs, and Secretary General Rasmussen could do much worse than to convene a meeting with the ELN for an in-depth examination of NATO's future deterrence policy.

    Analysis on NATO Nukes in the Strategic Concept from Arms Control Association

    Just a quick note that Oliver Meier has a good piece in the latest Arms Control Today. You can read it here. I was taken with this quote:
    The U.S. official said the language on nuclear sharing “was very carefully drafted.” He maintained that it does not preclude future changes in NATO’s nuclear posture. “It applies very nicely to a situation where a country suggests that it is no longer possible for it to participate in nuclear sharing for domestic reasons,” he argued. “The questions allies need to ask [are]: What kind of participation in nuclear sharing is politically acceptable? Is participation by one country enough? Is it sufficient if two countries participate?” 
    These will be key questions for NATO as it moves forward. Already Greece and Turkey have given up the nuclear sharing role. The UK no longer bases US nukes. Will NATO be able to act to gain some credit for removal of the few remaining tactical nuclear weapons in Europe before national reductions mean all credibility is lost? That would be the sensible course of action, but France seems dead set against it.

    Defence Planning for the Baltic States

    In October 2009, NATO Monitor reported on discussions at an informal Ministerial meeting on contingency planning for the defence of the Baltic States (See here). At the time, NATO Monitor reported on the difficulties associated with starting that process, and the unhappiness felt by the Baltic States at what they felt was a second-class citizenship in NATO, and the vulnerability they felt in the wake of the 2008 Russo-Georgian war.

    Now we learn from a report in the Guardian, based on a cable released by Wikileaks, how this situation was resolved. The Guardian reveals that secret plans have been drawn up, and were approved at the Lisbon Summit. They say NATO contingency planning is detailed:

    Nine Nato divisions – US, British, German, and Polish – have been identified for combat operations in the event of armed aggression against Poland or the three Baltic states. North Polish and German ports have been listed for the receipt of naval assault forces and British and US warships. The first Nato exercises under the plan are to take place in the Baltic next year, according to informed sources.
     The Guardian says that:
    The decision to draft contingency plans for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania was taken secretly earlier this year at the urging of the US and Germany at Nato headquarters in Belgium, ending years of division at the heart of the western alliance over how to view Vladimir Putin's Russia.
    In the run up to the drafting of the new Strategic Concept, this process would have been important. Newer NATO members had significant concerns that missions such as ISAF in Afghanistan were replacing traditional territorial defence, and that western European NATO states were not really prepared to enforce the Article V defence guarantee. However, it is equally important for the Alliance not to be seen to be fueling a new Cold War. Russia is a NATO partner, and has indeed been invited to participated in the new NATO missile defence system.

    Russian sources have told the Guardian that they are"bewildered" by this news:

    A source in Russia's foreign ministry said the information disclosed by WikiLeaks and detailed in the Guardian caused "a lot of questions and bewilderment with us".

    The Nato-Russia summit in Lisbon last month had adopted a statement that "clearly says the security of Nato countries and Russia is intertwined, and the NRC [Nato Russia Council] member states will refrain from any use or threat of the use of force against each other," the source told Interfax.
    "Russia has repeatedly raised the question about the need to ensure that there is no military planning aimed against one another," the source added.
    "Obvious facts" demonstrated that "Russia is not building up its military presence near the borders of the countries mentioned in the release, but on the contrary it is coherently reducing heavy weaponry in the Kaliningrad region," the source said.

    All of which goes to show how hard it is for the Alliance to tread the line between building a cooperative relationship with Russia and dealing with the fears and suspicions of Eastern Europeans. NATO members need Russian support in Afghanistan and in dealing with nuclear negotiations with Iran. If a new Cold War is to be avoided, then a cooperative security relationship within Europe will also be needed. The release of the Wikileaks cable is ill-timed as it brings out into the public issues which would be much better dealt with by diplomats behind the scenes at present. The release has the potential to damage emergent NATO-Russia cooperation, and to weaken the hand of President Medvedev against those on the Russian side who oppose working together with a former foe. One good way to ensure that no lasting damage is done would be for NATO to come back to the table with proposals for reviving the suspended Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, and adapting it further to meet the realities of 2010.

    Saturday, 20 November 2010

    What NATO leaders Will Discuss on Afghanistan

    James Appathurai, NATO Spokesman, gave a press briefing yesterday. He talked about all the Summit issues, including decisions expected on Afghanistan, saying:

    We will be joined here by all of the 48 countries, the 20 partners and NATO allies who are contributing forces to the mission in Afghanistan, as well as representatives of important international organizations, the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, the World Bank, the European Union, and of course President Karzai, because this is about his country.

    We expect to see two main decisions taken here. One is to launch the process of transition whereby beginning in the first half of next year, early next year, district by district, province by province, Afghan Security Forces will take lead responsibility for security in their own country. In essence, President Karzai has laid out the vision, the aim, that by 2014 Afghan Security Forces should be in the lead for security operations throughout Afghanistan. That is an aim the whole international community has endorsed. That is the goal for which we are working. It must be a conditions-based process, but we are quite confident that the conditions can and will be in place with a goal of Afghans being in the lead for security by 2014 to be met.

    The second decision we expect from the ISAF meeting is an agreement between NATO and Afghanistan on a long-term partnership that goes beyond the combat mission and that is broader than the combat mission. It is a political commitment to the long-term future of Afghanistan. It has very clear areas in which NATO will continue to support the development of the country in terms of training and other capacity-building. And it sends a clear message that NATO will stay as long as it takes to help Afghanistan find its feet and become resistant to terrorism. That is in Afghanistan's interests, it is in the interest of the region, and it is in our interest as an international community that terrorism can find no safe haven in Afghanistan and that Afghanistan is able to resist terrorism on its own.
    The Guardian has a good piece on the Summit work on Afghanistan here.
    Of course, the prospects for success are very mixed. Even a definition of what success is proves elusive. NATO continues to suffer attacks in Pakistan as well as Afghanistan (see this story, and this one too), and its ability to win any kind of military victory has to be questioned.

    Indeed, some still debate the entire rationale and approach of the West to Afghanistan over the past decade. This was an interesting short piece on those lines.

    The Need for Civilian Protection in Afghanistan

    NATO forces have increased significantly in Afghanistan in the past year. The counter-insurgency mantra of enhancing security for civilians as part of winning hearts and minds is a central part of discussion as leaders turn to Afghnaistan this morning.

    However, a new report from Oxfam and 28 other aid organisations active in Afghnaistan shows that the goal of civilian protection is not being met. The report, Nowhere to Turn: The Failure to Protect Civilians in Afghanistan provides a sobering verdict on ISAF operations and the prospects for 'success' in Afghanistan (whatever that would look like). It says:

    As the conflict continues to intensify, Afghans are increasingly caught between PGF seeking to win their "hearts and minds" and an insurgency that, in many areas, is utilizing increasingly violent tactics. Experience in Afghanistan has shown that when one party to a conflict makes the population the prize, the opposition is likely to make them a target. Building schools in highly insecure areas often turns them into targets for the insurgency; healthcare clinics are bombed, mined and occupied by both sides, including PGF who may be paradoxically engaged in building clinics in neighboring districts; and in the south and east, anyone associ-ated with the government or IMF is a target for assassination. Strategies to "protect the population" all too often do anything but.
    This really matters as the COIN strategy considered so successful in Iraq (although that is debatable) is not working in Afghanistan, and the effects of failure are appalling for the Afghan people As NATO leaders try to find a way forward in Afghnaistan that doesn't look like failure for the Alliance and does at least something for the country itself, they should consider the recommendations of Oxfam and its partners who know the country so well:

    The insurgency continues to grow, violence is spreading and some ana-lysts even fear a new civil war. Yet this failure to protect civilians from the escalating conflict, now and in coming months, is not inevitable. More can and must be done to minimize the harm to civilians, especially as ISAF begins to handover responsibility for security to the Afghan gov-ernment.


    To ISAF:

    • Issue a directive outlining procedures to provide redress to those civilians affected in the course of military operations. Work with the Afghan government to effectively and transparently investi-gate civilian casualties.

    • Allegations of both past and present criminal acts and violations of international law must result in meaningful investigations, prosecution and disciplinary procedures.

    • Avoid night raids if at all possible and utilize regular law en-forcement measures instead.

    • Terminate implementation of ALP and other community defense initiatives. Instead, devote greater resources to the development of a professional and accountable ANP.

    • Actively promote, support and monitor all the measures that the Afghan authorities need to take to ensure lawful conduct by ANSF, and ensure that respect for rights is an integral part of training and advice given to ANSF.

    • Ensure that all soldiers are familiar with and trained in the Civil Military Guidelines for Afghanistan and adhere to them through-out their deployment.

    To ANSF:

    • Increase the capacity to report and follow up on civilian casualty incidents, allegations of harm to civilians and human rights viola-tions.

    • Allegations of both past and present criminal acts and violations of international law by ANSF must be taken seriously and result in meaningful investigations and disciplinary measures.

    To the Afghan Government:

    • Establish a civilian casualty tracking unit, which would regularly investigate allegations of harm and make its procedures public, as well as the findings of investigations.

    • Reform Code 99 to address corruption and ensure greater trans-parency and consistency, including measures to improve access to the fund by those that have been harmed by AOG.

    • In addition, a clear procedure should be established for ensuring ANSF adhere to or at least behave in a way that is consistent with the existing ISAF compensation guidelines.

    • Terminate implementation of ALP and other community defense initiatives. If they must move forward, establish an independent monitoring mechanism for community defense initiatives. Con-duct an audit, the results of which should be made public, to as-certain the impact and status of past community defense initia-tives.

    To the International Community:

    • The UN, through OCHA, should immediately seek to establish re-lationships with ANSF and IMF at appropriate levels to ensure that there are mechanisms in place to investigate and address in-cidents of IHL violations.

    • The UN, through OCHA, should fulfil its commitment to imple-ment a full, effective training and awareness-raising programme for all relevant actors on the Afghanistan Civil-Military Guide-lines, as well as a system for monitoring breaches of the guide-lines.

    • The lead nations of Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) should establish and implement a plan to gradually phase out PRT-provided assistance and other militarized forms of aid. This transition strategy should prioritize an increase in funding and support for national and international civilian organizations.

    To AOG:

    • Minimize harm to civilians and damage to their property in the conduct of all operations and prioritize the protection of civilians. Take all feasible measures to distinguish between civilians and combatants, and avoid using disproportionate force.

    • Seek to limit the adverse impact of military operations on aid ag-encies, their staff and operations.

    • Ensuring that operations do not lead to forced displacement or the denial of the right of freedom of movement and other rights of displaced Afghans.

    • Improve efforts to investigate, recognize and address allegations of harm to civilians caused by AOG operations.

    Missile Defence Agreed (again)

    NATO leaders approved the development of an Alliance missile defence programme as part of the Strategic Concept. There was controversy about linking the deployment of missile defences to further nuclear disarmament, largely from France. But there is agreement that a NATO BMD programme can fill the need for a major defence effort to cement the trans-Atlantic link once played by tactical nuclear weapons. As Secretary General Rasmussen said to journalists “Missile defense will bind the NATO allies closer together”.

    The Strategic Concept paragraph n missile defence reads:
    We will ensure that NATO has the full range of capabilities necessary to deter and defend against any threat to the safety and security of our populations. Therefore, we will:

    • develop the capability to defend our populations and territories against ballistic missile attack as a core element of our collective defence, which contributes to the indivisible security of the Alliance. We will actively seek cooperation on missile defence with Russia and other Euro-Atlantic partners;

    There are a number of useful stories on this here, here and here.

    There are dissenting voices. US conservatives oppose spreading the BMD decision to include Russia, something that the Obama administration has made a central part of the reset of relations with NATO’s former enemy. They claim that Russian participation will render any system ineffective. (See this for example)However, since US conservatives are inveterately and irrationally hostile to Russia, and also backed enormous spending on missile defence systems that demonstrably do not work, probably cannot work and even if they did could be easily tricked by countermeasures, we probably shouldn’t take their views to seriously.

    More serious for NATO was the Turkish objection, based on regional sensitivities, notably refusing to name Iran as a potential enemy which made the missile shield necessary.
    Any such stance was dropped from official documents and the missile shield (effective or not) will go ahead.

    Over dinner, Alliance leaders decided to invite Russia to participate. The cost of the proposed system is said to be some $270m over the next ten years, which ensures it will be extremely limited. The US spends far more each year to very little effect. Of course, NATO Summits have been agreeing to work on missile defences since the early 1990s, with few results. Let's see where this one takes us.

    Nuclear Weapons Aspects of the Strategic Concept

    Over the next few days NATO Monitor will take a look at different aspects of the Strategic Concept, starting with a first take on the nuclear aspects of the new paper.

    The new Strategic Concept has both similarities and striking changes on nuclear policy with the Concept agreed at the 1999 Summit in Washington DC. It reflects, as do most NATO documents, the divergent positions of member states trying to come to a consensus. Thus, the the Preface to the Concept says that it:

    .. commits NATO to the goal of creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons – but reconfirms that, as long as there are nuclear weapons in the world, NATO will remain a nuclear Alliance.
    Some have expressed disappointment at this, seeing it as a statement of the status quo. (See for example the BASIC and the Arms Control Association joint press release) For another, more positive analysis of the new Concept see Hans Kristensen’s blog for the FAS here.

    However, it is necessary to look at the policy as a whole, and to differentiate between tactical and strategic nuclear weapons, to see the possibility for change built into the new Concept. NATO leaders were never going to make a dramatic announcement on the withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Europe, especially given Eastern European and French opposition. What it has announced is the creation within the Alliance of the circumstances under which that withdrawal can happen.

    On nuclear forces the concept now says:

    16. The greatest responsibility of the Alliance is to protect and defend our territory and our populations against attack, as set out in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. The Alliance does not consider any country to be its adversary. However, no one should doubt NATO’s resolve if the security of any of its members were to be threatened.

    17. Deterrence, based on an appropriate mix of nuclear and conventional capabilities, remains a core element of our overall strategy. The circumstances in which any use of nuclear weapons might have to be contemplated are extremely remote. As long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance.

    18. The supreme guarantee of the security of the Allies is provided by the strategic nuclear forces of the Alliance, particularly those of the United States; the independent strategic nuclear forces of the United Kingdom and France, which have a deterrent role of their own, contribute to the overall deterrence and security of the Allies.
    Thus far, the language is drawn fairly closely from the 1999 Concept. The US, UK will continue to provide strategic nuclear forces so long as they have them and NATO requires it. These strategic forces provide the ‘supreme guarantee’ of Alliance security, and the circumstances for their use are still said to be ‘extremely remote’.

    However, on tactical nuclear forces (precisely the area of most controversy) the differences are striking. This is the culmination of a year in which first Germany, then others including The Netherlands, Belgium and Norway, have worked for change in NATO policy, particularly that regarding European based US nuclear bombs.

    The old Concept was explicit on the need for tactical nuclear weapons in Europe:

    63. A credible Alliance nuclear posture and the demonstration of Alliance solidarity and common commitment to war prevention continue to require widespread participation by European Allies involved in collective defence planning in nuclear roles, in peacetime basing of nuclear forces on their territory and in command, control and consultation arrangements. Nuclear forces based in Europe and committed to NATO provide an essential political and military link between the European and the North American members of the Alliance. The Alliance will therefore maintain adequate nuclear forces in Europe.
    In the new Concept the statement on these weapons as an essential transatlantic link has gone. This is a major change in an area where the alliance had come under strong criticism. In addition, the language on Allied participation in nuclear policy has also been significantly weakened. The Alliance now wishes to:

    .. ensure the broadest possible participation of Allies in collective defence planning on nuclear roles, in peacetime basing of nuclear forces, and in command, control and consultation arrangements;
    It places less importance for the alliance as a whole on cross-NATO participation of nominally non-nuclear states in alliance nuclear operations. The new Concept clearly allows for NATO nations deciding to opt out of the nuclear sharing process, under which some nations host US nuclear forces and train their own air forces for nuclear missions in wartime. This possibility of change is reinforced by new language:

    National decisions regarding arms control and disarmament may have an impact on the security of all Alliance members. We are committed to maintain, and develop as necessary, appropriate consultations among Allies on these issues.
    This allows individual nations to take decisions to reduce or eliminate nuclear weapons, the nuclear sharing countries which wish to opt out can do so. Only consultations are necessary to facilitate this process, not the permission of the Alliance Thus Germany, which has expressed a strong desire to end nuclear sharing and have US nuclear weapons withdrawn from its territory now has a mechanism blessed by NATO under which this can occur, and most importantly it is a national decision.

    NATO has also committed itself to further multilateral arms control:

    With the changes in the security environment since the end of the Cold War, we have dramatically reduced the number of nuclear weapons stationed in Europe and our reliance on nuclear weapons in NATO strategy. We will seek to create the conditions for further reductions in the future.
    This is placed in the context of ambitions to achieve a nuclear weapons free world:

    We are resolved to seek a safer world for all and to create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons in accordance with the goals of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, in a way that promotes international stability, and is based on the principle of undiminished security for all.
    One can argue that the continued nuclear role of the Alliance runs counter to this desire, but the fact that France has signed up for it at all in a NATO context is striking.

    The Concept says that NATO has no adversaries, thus no targets for its nuclear forces, but it explicitly links US forces in Europe and Russian tactical nuclear forces in a  a curious echo back to the Cold War The purpose it seems is to get Russia engaged in future arms reductions talks beyond the New START Treaty currently bottled up in the Senate. NATO will work with Russia to try to encourage a reduction of tactical nuclear forces by Moscow, but NATO appreciates it is in too weak a position to force reductions as a quid pro quo for its own 200 or so nuclear bombs in Europe, seeking transparency and deployment changes:

    In any future reductions, our aim should be to seek Russian agreement to increase transparency on its nuclear weapons in Europe and relocate these weapons away from the territory of NATO members. Any further steps must take into account the disparity with the greater Russian stockpiles of short-range nuclear weapons.
    NATO send s a strong signal to Russia that this arms control is part of a wider security building process in Europe:

    NATO-Russia cooperation is of strategic importance as it contributes to creating a common space of peace, stability and security.
    This sends Russia a very positive signal that NATO wishes to engage it as a partner, and sees that as so important that the desire for partnership is written not only in a communique but in the Alliance's main document on security. It will be interesting to see how far progress on issues like BMD cooperation goes at the NATO Russia Council today and in the future. Cooperation over Afghanistan is also vital to NATO.

    Overall this could have been much less positive. There was no chance that this concept would state that the weapons would be withdrawn. A more decisive change might have been to remove rather than weaken the stated need for Allied cooperation in nuclear policy. However, France led very strong opposition to any kind of change, resisting to the last moment the slightest weakening of NATO policy. Some states in Eastern Europe have also been concerned at allowing anything that might dilute US security guarantees for NATO against Russia, at the same time as the US is trying to build a more friendly security relationship with its former foe. Easterners are none too happy at this. All this constricted options for change, but the new Concept is positive in that it allows for change on the tactical nuclear front in a way that France cannot block.

    There will need to be a rewrite now in the Military Committee paper which is the basis for implementing changes in the Strategic Concept. This process is much more secretive even than the Strategic Concept negotiations which, since the experts group began meeting a year or so ago has been opaque and undemocratic. This revision will need to incorporate something that went unmentioned in the Strategic Concept. Both the US and the UK have rewritten their nuclear doctrines this year. They have said they will not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear countries that are not in material breach of the NPT. Since NATO as an Alliance cannot override national doctrine, NATO doctrine has itself changed de facto. During the Bush years the Alliance was shifting, however slowly and in however ambiguous a fashion, towards US counterproliferation doctrine which allowed for the (possibly preemptive) use of nuclear forces against nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and other targets. (For a detailed treatment of this topic see a previous report) This more recent shift, even unheralded, has taken NATO in a much more positive direction towards the devaluing of nuclear forces in Alliance strategy.

    The work will continue. It is thought, and the communiqué is likely to say more about this, that the Alliance will conduct a ‘deterrence review’ in 2011 and the possibility for change is very strong. The concept says:

    .. continue to review NATO’s overall posture in deterring and defending against the full range of threats to the Alliance, taking into account changes to the evolving international security environment.
    Sources within the Alliance have said that there was a drive to conduct a ‘nuclear posture review’ along American lines, but that this was blocked by the French. The 'deterrence review' will most likely happen in the coming year or so. Involving the full range of conventional and nuclear forces, France will participate.

    In conclusion, this new Strategic Concept contains some change in reduced role for nuclear forces, but there is a lot of work to be done. Non-nuclear states in the NPT are unlikely to be satisfied and will continue to pressure the alliance for more change.

    Friday, 19 November 2010

    Summit Overview on Missile Defence

    The major business of the NATO Summit will be the new Strategic Concept, which will replace the one agreed in 1999. NATO has undergone a process over the past year leading to this point, a process which has, unfortunately, been far less open and democratic than it could have been. A chance for a major political revitalization of the Alliance has been lost, as parliaments and civil society have not been given the chance to input into the process in any meaningful way – thus buy-in by the political class is very limited. The latest relaunch of the NATO presence in Afghanistan is also on the agenda. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen briefed the press earlier this week:

    The Summit will put in place an Alliance that is more effective, more engaged and more efficient. More effective because NATO will invest in key capabilities like missile defence, cyber defence and strategic and tactical airlift. More engaged because NATO will reach out to connect with our partners around the globe, countries and other organizations. And more efficient because we are cutting fat, even as we invest in muscle. For example, by slimming down our command structure by about 5,000 personnel.

    A decision to develop a NATO-based missile defence to protect our populations would be a major step. It would make our territorial defence even more effective and it would bind the allies even stronger together. And the decision to reform and rationalise our command structures, our agencies, and our headquarters will make the Alliance fit for purpose and ready to meet the security challenges of the 21st Century.

    All of that will be enshrined in the new Strategic Concept. The new Strategic Concept will guide the Alliance for the next decade. It will serve as a lever for continuous reform towards a more effective, efficient and flexible Alliance so that our taxpayers get the most security for the money they invest in defence. Which makes the new Strategic Concept a key outcome of the Summit.

    (The full Press Conference can be seen here.)

    Significant problems remain before the Summit Communique can be issued. One of the trickiest is missile deefence. Turkey will only agree to allow the missile defence programme to go ahead if NATO says nothing about potential missile threats - while the US is intent on naming Iran as the source of potential missile threats to NATO. Turkey must also agree to host a radar for the system to be effective for the whole of NATO territory, something so important to the Alliance that it broke the proposed mid-course missile defence system the Bush administration wanted to deploy in Europe.
    "We do not perceive any threat from any neighbor countries and we do not think our neighbors form a threat to Nato," says Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
    Turkey fears that Iran, an important trade partner will be angered if it goes ahead with the NATO missile defence programme. They also want the US to put pressure on Germany and France to allow an advance on Turkish negotiations for EU membership in return for concessions in NATO - something very unlikely to succeed. You can read about their position in depth here.)

    However, even if a deal can be done with the Turks, there are other problems to solve. Notably, the French are insistent that the missile defence programme is not in any way seen as replacing nuclear weapons as a deterrent to attack. France. The US sees BMD programmes as enhancing deterrence, France does not. It fears that pressure to reduce and eliminate its nuclear forces will grow if it accepts that missile defences can play such a role. Dealing with this objection will be a difficult part of the Summit's work. A discussion of the French-German talks on the topic can be found here.

    More later.

    NATO Summit Opens in Lisbon

    After a few months out of business we'll be commenting on the Lisbon Summit this weekend. The NATO website has good coverage here.

    Friday, 23 April 2010

    NATO Nuclear Policy Discussed in Tallinn

    NATO Monitor has been quiet of late, but returns to the fray to discuss developments at the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in Tallinn.

    As the NATO website says:

    Ministers discuss future of NATO's nuclear policy and prospects for missile defence

    In itself, this is fairly unusual. Issues of NATO force structure are the province of Defence Ministers, and Foreign Ministers rarely if ever get involved. Even the once significant Nuclear Planning Group has been reduced from biannual two day meetings to an annual hour long check-in. Nuclear weapons have a very low salience in day to day NATO affairs. Strange for weapons which are said by the Alliance to be essential for trans-Atlantic unity.

    So to have a North Atlantic Council debate reported in a banner headline on the NATO website makes this a far from ordinary occasion. The report is short, and fairly anodyne (see below). One point that NATO chose to highlight does strike the Monitor as strange.
    a broad sharing of the burden for NATO's nuclear policy remains essential
    The Alliance has 28 members. Three are nuclear weapons states with their own arsenals. Four other states participate in NATO sharing programmes – The Netherlands, Belgium, German and Italy – and their air forces are equipped and trained for nuclear missions. In addition, Turkey has US weapons based on its soil.

    This hardly represents a broad sharing of the nuclear burden. Less than 1/3rd of NATO nations have any direct involvement in nuclear defence. More than 2/3rds of NATO members turn up for the NPG once a year and rely on the US nuclear umbrella for their defence.

    If this is so important to NATO, why is it so little discussed and why do so few participate? Just asking.

    The NATO website report reads:

    NATO Foreign Ministers discussed in Tallinn how to take forward the Alliance's nuclear posture, with an eye to the new Strategic Concept, as well as issues surrounding missile defence.
    Ministers agreed that the nuclear issue is important in NATO's work on the Strategic Concept, and that the Alliance remains, as always, firmly committed to maintaining the security of its members, but at the lowest possible level of nuclear weapons.
    They stressed that a broad sharing of the burden for NATO's nuclear policy remains essential and that decisions on the Alliance's nuclear policy will be made together. NATO's unity will remain absolutely firm.
    Allied ministers highlighted that NATO must continue to maintain a balance between credible deterrence, and support for arms control disarmament and non-proliferation.
    According to the Secretary General, in a world where nuclear weapons exist, "NATO needs a credible, effective and safely managed deterrent. Nevertheless, the Alliance must also do what it can to support arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation". Foreign Ministers stated that missile defence, while not replacing deterrence, can complement it.
    Allied representatives considered during a dinner discussion issues related to missile defence, including cost, command and control, as well as how to engage Russia on this issue “to the benefit of Europe’s security and its political unity”, as the Secretary General has said.
    At the Lisbon Summit in November, NATO nations will decide whether to take on Alliance missile defence as a NATO mission.

    Thursday, 21 January 2010

    Is Poland Ready to Agree the Removal of US Nuclear Weapons from Europe?

    An interesting piece of analysis from the Polish Institute of International Affairs has come to my attention. It dates from last March, and is entitled “Reduce US Nukes in Europe to Zero, and Keep NATO Strong (and Nuclear). A View from Poland.

    The Polish government is a strong supporter of the maintenance of US nuclear weapons in Europe, and as such is beginning to find itself at odds with most of its allies. Poland has even mooted privately the possibility of deploying US nuclear forces to Poland if those countries which currently host such weapons which them to leave.

    This paper is unusual in that it comes from Poland (usually considered a hardline supporter of US nuclear basing in Europe) but is rooted much more firmly in the European mainstream. It suggests that Polish interests and opinions are also much more nuanced than is generally thought outside Poland. As the author writes:
    The usefulness of nuclear weapons is perceived by Poland within the wider context of assuring the viability of the transatlantic link and the credibility of NATO’s Article 5 (mutual defence clause). Russia is often mentioned in the context of Article 5 commitments, but it should be stressed that safeguarding the political cohesion of the Alliance and strengthening its conventional military capabilities are currently much more important for Poland’s interpretation of Article 5 than is the nuclear factor.
    This is interesting, and there is another extremely significant paragraph in the paper:
    The conventional wisdom holds that the countries of Central Europe, and especially Poland, would strongly object to any changes in the NATO nuclear posture because of their fear of Moscow. This is an oversimplification. Certainly, Poland, as well as other Central European nations, is interested in an alliance which can credibly fulfill its defence and deterrence function. As a consequence, as long as NATO is serious about remaining a military alliance (and not a kind of global crisis management organization), and counts three nuclear weapon states among its members, the nuclear component should be an integral part of the “Article 5 package”. The extended deterrence, especially that provided by the United States to its European allies, both in its conventional and nuclear forms, remains a significant reason to treat the Alliance as the most important guarantee of the security of Poland. Does it mean that any changes in the nuclear strategy of NATO are a taboo for Warsaw? Not necessarily, but such changes would need to be conducted in a way that does not weaken the transatlantic link nor the image of the Alliance as a credible security provider in the eyes of outside actors, including Russia.
    If the article is a genuine reflection of the full range of debate on the role of nuclear weapons in ensuring NATO’s Article V commitments to the defence of NATO territory, then it is most welcome. It indicates that Poland is ready to sit within an emerging consensus in the Alliance, and possibly paves the way for the removal of all US nuclear weapons from Europe.