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The role of the EU in the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons

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The role of the EU in the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons
  Clara Portela The Role of the EUin the Non-Proliferationof Nuclear Weapons: The Way to Thessaloniki and Beyond PRIF Reports No. 65  The research for this paper was conducted while the author was a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Security Studies of the European Union in Paris. The authorwould like to kindly thank the Institute ´s team for its support and useful com-ments. She would also like to thank Mr. Bruno Tertrais for his help. 󰂩  Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF) Address of the Author: PRIF • Leimenrode 29 • 60322 FrankfurtTelephone: +49(0)69/959104-0 • Fax: +49(0)69/558481Email: Internet: ISBN: 3-933293-83-9 Euro 10,--  Summary  Over the past few years the EU has begun taking some steps against the spread of nuclearweapons within its Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). At the ThessalonikiSummit June 2003, the European Council adopted its first draft Strategy against the pro-liferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). In order to assess the significance of the Strategy, this paper will first present and evaluate the Union’s record in the field, thenreview the newly released Strategy, and finally make suggestions as to how it can be im-proved.The EU is not an unitary actor in the nuclear non-proliferation domain, being mainly constrained by the diversity of positions of its members as regards nuclear weapons on theone hand and the transatlantic link on the other. The EU notably includes eleven NATOmembers comprising two NWS and four countries that host Alliance’s nuclear weapons,along with four highly disarmament-minded countries.One of the strands of EU action has consisted in taking initiatives aimed at strength-ening the existing regime at multilateral forums. They have been geared predominantly tothe universalisation of treaties and the multilateralisation of arrangements. Examples in-clude the promotion of the indefinite extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT),the entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the adoption of aCode of Conduct on ballistic missile proliferation. In general, the EU performs increas-ingly well at multilateral venues, which offer a favourable framework for internal co-ordination.The effectiveness of the Union’s action remains limited, though. Insufficient means toaccomplish the stated objectives account for that. Furthermore, this policy remains selec-tive in nature, addressing some issues while sidelining others. Important omissions, whichoften illustrate EU reluctance to oppose the US over nuclear issues, are exemplified by theEuropean silence on the NMD question or the weakening of the US-Russian strategicarms reduction process.Another significant strand of action consists of the Union’s approaches to regionalproliferation crises. In this domain, the EU has a fairly uneven and predominantly nega-tive record. It is significantly involved in nuclear-related assistance programmes to Russiain the form of Co-operative Threat Reduction (CTR) efforts. Additionally, the Unioncontributed to facilitate Ukraine’s renunciation of nuclear weapons through the ratifica-tion of the Lisbon Protocol. It has also participated in KEDO while upgrading its diplo-matic role in the Korean peace process. Most recently, the European input has provedcentral in handling the crisis over Iran’s lack of compliance with IAEA requirements.However, the EU has had difficulties in framing responses to some of the most acuteproliferation crises of the past few years. The example of Iraq serves a recent illustration of intra-European disagreement on how to tackle proliferation. The reaction to the In-dian/Pakistani nuclear tests in May 1998 was hardly noticeable. In general, the EU’s ap-proach to avert proliferation is characterised by a tendency to take a comprehensive ap-proach to reducing regional tensions and, in most cases, to follow US-crafted responses.  IIDespite the enhancement of its action during the last decade, the EU is still ineffective as anon-proliferation actor. The Union’s selective approach has privileged non-proliferationover disarmament, and even within the non-proliferation realm, it has emphasised someissues and regions to the detriment of others. The virtual absence of policies directly fo-cused on addressing proliferation constitutes a further difficulty. Finally, the EU does not yet make an effective and concerted use of the means at its disposal.Against this record, the newly released Strategy against the proliferation of WMD reaf-firms the traditional features of the Union’s role, while correcting some of its most obvi-ous deficiencies.Broadly speaking, the Union will be guided by the following primary objectives: theuniversalisation of disarmament and non-proliferation agreements; the enhancement of the effectiveness of inspection/verification mechanisms, especially by improving the de-tectability of violations; the strengthening of export control policies and the expansion of CTR and technical assistance programmes. The initiatives presented in the Action Planinclude some institutional measures designed to upgrade the capacity of action of theUnion, the strengthening of EU internal legislation and a few proposals for EU externalaction. On the whole, the Strategy’s principal emphasis is placed on enhancing the effec-tiveness of the existing regimes rather than in launching new steps to expand the non-proliferation agenda.At the level of means, the Union first reaffirms its current policy, i.e. “to contain pro-liferation while dealing with its underlying causes”. The principal novelty is that the Strat-egy also introduces new instruments. It envisages the introduction of a policy of “sticksand carrots” that links non-proliferation commitments to co-operation agreements orassistance programmes into the EU ’s relations with third countries. Political and eco-nomic levers are included in the list of instruments the Union can avail itself of. Finally,the strategy also foresees the use of force as a measure of last resort, which constitutes anabsolute breakthrough.The Strategy offers some potential for the EU to make a relevant contribution to thenon-proliferation regime, especially since it has framed some answers as to how deal withnon-cooperative states. In order to realise this potential, it is suggested that the Unionconsiders a series of issues in the further development of the strategy.Firstly, it should ensure that non-proliferation objectives are adequately mainstreamedinto the Union’s external relations. To this end, it should concretise the proposed “sticksand carrots” model into a clear conditionality framework with a  Non-Proliferation Clause analogous to the Human rights clauses already applied by the Community in its relationswith Third Countries.Secondly, the EU should further enhance its capacity to act by putting in place an “in-ternal think tank” to craft further non-proliferation initiatives. As far as possible, it shouldfind a satisfactory “division of labour” with the US in the resolution of proliferation crises,complementing US initiatives with other means rather than merely endorsing them finan-cially.  IIIFinally, it should also try to adopt a balanced approach capable of engaging the non-Western as well as the Western world. This includes facilitating the access of Third Worldcountries to civilian nuclear technology, clearly linking forcible counter-proliferationaction to an UN Security Council mandate, and, most importantly, introducing disarma-ment measures into the Strategy.
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