Conference Report of the 10th Annual Foreign Policy Conference 2009

October 19, 2009
by Heidi Hermisson
Here you can find the conference report of the 10th Annual Foreign Policy Conference 2009 "A World Without Nuclear Weapons or Nuclear Anarchy? – The Future of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Regime" which took place on September 10 and 11 at the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Berlin.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

  • Opening remarks by Ralf Fücks
  • Keynote speech by Oliver Meier
  • Strategic diskussion: "Why now? - From renewed arms to a nuclear free world"

Friday, September 11, 2009

  • Panel I: "Saving the nonproliferation regime - Strategic proposals for the Review Conference 2010"
  • Panel II: " Nuclear energy and nuclear weapons: an unavoidable mesalliance?"
  • Forum I: "Preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middel East"
  • Forum II: "Arms control and non-proliferation in South and East Asia"
  • Closing Panel: "Getting to Global Zero? The future of the non-proliferation regime beyond 2010"
Photo: jtjdt (Source: This photo is under a Creative Commons License.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Opening Remarks
Ralf Fücks, President, Heinrich Böll Foundation, Berlin

Ralf Fücks opened the conference by providing a historical framework for the current debate on nuclear nonproliferation and explained why the Böll foundation in Germany is the right place to discuss it. The pinnacle of interest in the topic was in the 1970s and 80s, when hundreds of thousands of people in Germany demonstrated against the arms race. One product of this movement was the founding of the Green party in Germany, which remains opposed to nuclear power and arms. Interest in nonproliferation waned after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War.

The nuclear debate has now been brought to the forefront again as discussions are underway about nuclear programs in North Korea, Iran, India and Pakistan. There is concern about terrorists gaining control of nuclear weapons, and Fücks declared that “nuclear anarchy is no longer out of the question”. Recently a campaign for “Global Zero,” or a world without nuclear weapons, was launched by many foreign-policy heavyweights and endorsed by U.S. President Barack Obama. This momentum coincides with the impending expiration of the START I treaty and negotiations on its renewal, as well the Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) next May.

Also contributing to the resurgence of the nuclear debate is the issue of nuclear energy, which some are advocating as an alternative source of energy in the fight against climate change. Fücks, however, stated that “anyone in favor of nuclear energy is also risking the spread of nuclear weapons.” He concluded by noting that Germany has a great tradition of advocating peace and needs to do more to help reach “Global Zero.”

Keynote Speech
Oliver Meier, Arms Control Association, Berlin

Oliver Meier started by declaring that President Obama’s support for a nuclear-free world has ushered in a new era of nonproliferation. Never before has the United States committed itself to such a goal, and this opens opportunities to seriously reconsider nuclear policies. Meier acknowledges, however, that the concept of nuclear deterrence is still important to many countries, and disarmament will have to occur gradually.

Meier then turned to his main argument – the need for a doctrine of no-first-use among the nuclear powers and a focus on deterrence only. He argued that this policy would have a positive effect on the nuclear powers themselves, on the relationship of nuclear states to one another, and on the entire nonproliferation regime. There are also positive signs that this will be possible: no-first-use is reportedly a central and much-debated aspect of the new nuclear posture review of the United States, and NATO is also debating the role that nuclear weapons will play in the defense and security of the Alliance. While China is the only P5 state to have a no-first-use policy, India does as well.

He also addressed some of the difficulties in obtaining a no-first-use agreement. Many countries, including Russia, see nuclear weapons as a way to compensate for a lack of conventional military strength. Neither France nor Great Britain preclude the use of nuclear weapons in response to biological or chemical attacks, although Great Britain seems open to coordinating this policy with Washington. India, Pakistan and Israel have all developed nuclear weapons in response to regional issues, and it may prove difficult to incorporate them into a multilateral system.

Meier would like to see the no-first-use policy on the agenda of the Review Conference for the NPT. Its inclusion could contribute to the legitimacy of the NPT, strengthen regional planning and stability, and possibly pull nuclear states outside of the NPT into the regime. He also believes such a policy “would make it much easier for the U.S. and Russia to make deeper cuts in their stockpiles.” He concluded by pointing out that nuclear weapons do not deter terrorists and stating that the issue of nuclear weapons prevents international cooperation on issues such as energy and climate change.

Strategic diskussion: "Why now? - From renewed arms to a nuclear free world"

  • Claus Wunderlich, German Federal Foreign Office, Berlin
  • Henry Sokolski, Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC), Washington
  • Vladimir Orlov, The Russian Center for Policy Studies (PIR), Moscow
  • Chair: Ralf Fücks, Heinrich Böll Foundation, Berlin

Claus Wunderlich pointed out the momentum for nuclear disarmament that has been building over the last few years. However, he cautioned that “the road to nuclear disarmament is going to be a very long one.” He stressed that the upcoming NPT review must be successful, as another failed review would undermine the treaty’s credibility. He sees Iran and North Korea as the biggest challenges to the nonproliferation regime. He recommended the following concrete steps: first, a START I follow-up treaty to reduce U.S. and Russian stockpiles. Secondly, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) must be put into effect, starting with U.S. ratification. Third, a halt in the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons (also known as the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty; FMCT) would be a “clear sign that the nuclear age is over.” There must also be a proper monitoring regime for civilian fuel cycles.

In response to a question from Ralf Fücks on the removal of tactical nuclear weapons from Europe, Wunderlich advocated a common European voice on the issue. He also noted that Russia possesses many tactical weapons, which it regards as a compensation for its lack of conventional weapons, and it will be hard to persuade them.

Vladimir Orlov also sees a window of opportunity on nuclear disarmament between the “major nuclear shareholders,” the U.S. and Russia, which is due to new thinking in Washington and a new flexibility in Moscow. Nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation is the “key priority” of Russian national security. He agrees that tactical missiles in Europe are unnecessary and doesn’t want to see them used as bargaining chips in negotiations between the U.S. and Russia, and sees it as particularly outdated that the U.S. has tactical weapons stationed outside of their territory. He pointed out that the vast majority of Russians believe nuclear weapons play a vital or very important role in their national security, and that politicians must be sensitive to this. He believes that a political resolution is possible with Iran. Orlov identified Israel as the “key destabilizer” of the NPT and warned that attention must be paid to reducing military budgets worldwide.

Henry Sokolski argued for dealing with the reality of the nuclear nonproliferation regime and warned against exuberant expectations of Global Zero. He is not happy with the steps being taken towards Global Zero and sees some of them as self-defeating. He sees passing the CTBT, for example, as a merely symbolic step, and one which will be difficult nonetheless. He agrees that tactical weapons are obsolete, yet removing them is still a politically difficult topic for some countries such as Turkey. Sokolski would like the international community stop “blinking” on Iran’s nuclear program, and would like more focus to be on arms control in Asia.

In the next round, panelists addressed each other’s comments and took questions from the audience. Oliver Meier pointed out that the recent U.S.-India deal has raised accusations of double standards when dealing with countries outside the NPT. Orlov doesn’t think sanctions are working against Iran, and he feels that engagement will get better results than confrontation. He contended that all countries have the right to the peaceful use of nuclear power, and that some cannot be allowed to do so simply because we label them “good” or “bad.” Emily Landau from Tel Aviv responded directly to this statement, contending that all countries are different and must be treated differently, and refuted his earlier claim that Israel is the major threat of instability in the Middle East.

Photo: Jackson Boyle (Source: This photo is under a Creative Commons License.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Panel I: "Saving the nonproliferation regime - Strategic proposals for the Review Conference 2010"

Oliver Thränert, German Institute for International and Security Affairs, Berlin
  • Martin Briens, French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Paris
  • Fiona Simpson, Center on International Cooperation, New York University
  • Nobumasa Akiyama, Hitotsubashi University and Japanese Institute of International Affairs, Tokyo
  • Chair: Sylke Tempel, Internationale Politik, Berlin
  • Fiona Simpson addressed the shortcomings of the last review of the NPT treaty in 2005 and discussed the outlook for the next review conference in May 2010. The last review was a failure; since then, the issues of Iran and North Korea have remained unresolved and efforts to multilateralize the fuel cycle have been stymied. Although 91 members have signed up for new safeguard protocols, these are not mandatory, and the IAEA remains under-funded. Despite the increased optimism about the next review, Simpson thinks expectations should remain modest. “The last preparatory meeting demonstrated that serious cracks remain on how issues should be prioritized,” and mentioned that passing the CTBT would be no “slam-dunk” for the U.S. Congress. She sees noncompliance as the thorniest issue, because there is only so much the NPT can do, and it remains easy for a country to cheat on inspections.

    Oliver Thränert began by pointing out that the world would look very different, and not safer or better, if the NPT didn’t exist. He sees the starting point for the upcoming conference positively, although he cautioned that the Obama administration cannot achieve everything on its own, and he is doubtful that the CTBT or a renewed START treaty will be ratified before the NPT review. Thränert would see it as a success if everyone could agree to the three pillars of the NPT as well as the thirteen steps agreed upon in 2000. He would also like to see a strengthening of Article 10, which would make it harder for countries to withdraw from the NPT.

    Martin Briens stated that Iran is the “pivotal issue” among the factors that will impact the outcome of the NPT review conference. The second issue will be how the U.S. and Russia, who possess 90% of the world’s stockpiles, are proceeding with disarmament. It will also depend on the willingness of key Middle East actors to seek compromise. He would like to see the review conference move past rhetoric and address real-world issues, find a sense of common purpose on the three pillars of the NPT, and pave the way for the future of the nonproliferation regime.

    Nobumasa Akiyama is cautiously optimistic about the review of the NPT, although he remarked on the lack of action from former reviews. He believes that a sign of success would be to reach a consensus on benchmarks and the thirteen steps mentioned earlier. He also explained that it is not a source of pride for to Japan to be cited by Iran as their model for a nuclear program. Finally, he sees the lack of a strategic dialog as the major problem in East Asia, and it is Japan’s goal to establish such a regional dialog.

    In response to a question regarding a no-first-use policy, Briens replied that he doesn’t think a world without deterrence is necessarily safer, and doesn’t think France needs to sign on to the no-first-use policy. Both he and Thränert made a point of saying that they wanted Iran to suspend enrichment during negotiations, but they are not demanding that Iran can never return to a peaceful nuclear program at some point.

    Panel II: " Nuclear energy and nuclear weapons: an unavoidable mesalliance?"

    • Rebecca Harms, Member of European Parliament, Brussels
    • Henry Sokolski, Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC), Washington
    • Clóvis Brigagão, Centre of the Americas Studies, Cândido Mendes University, Rio de Janeiro
    • Chair: Barbara Unmüssig, President, Heinrich Böll Foundation, Berlin

    The chair asked all of the panelists to discuss their perception of the “Siamese twins” of civil and military use of nuclear power, and to address the resurgence of civil nuclear power in the world.

    Rebecca Harms, one of the original protesters against nuclear power in Germany, addressed the myth of the “nuclear renaissance” currently underway. There have been no new nuclear reactors built in the U.S. since 1979. In Europe, only two new reactors have been built since 1986, both of which have been economically disastrous, and the number of operating reactors has dropped since the Cold War. Harms sees the nuclear renaissance campaign that European companies are conducting in various parts of the world (such as Africa, in Arab states, South America and Indonesia) as a risk, as these countries are not at all prepared for the technology, having no industry, properly trained staff, etc.

    Henry Sokolski refuted the claim by many governments, including that of the U.S., that light water reactors are harmless. These can be used to make weapons material, and can in fact be used for a military program. He also criticized the IAEA’s inspections and ability to keep up with new developments. He believes that “we are not thinking clearly when we say there is a sharp line between a reactor and military activity.” He addressed the economic cost of nuclear power, saying that it is very expensive and cannot compete with other alternative energies.

    Clóvis Brigagão pointed to the agreements between Argentina and Brazil as a model for regional nuclear activity, with verifiable measures for accountancy and control. He claimed that Brazil has become a nuclear power exclusively for peaceful purposes and pointed out that this is enshrined in the Brazilian constitution. Brazil is a signatory to the NPT, but it sees the new protocols as anachronistic and wants to negotiate them, not have them dictated by the P5.

    When given the chance to respond to the statements of the other panelists, Sokolski expressed his concern that Brazil is also interested in military uses for its nuclear program. He welcomed the creation of a global alternative energy agency which excludes nuclear power.

    Rebecca Harms stated that “the idea that so-called civil nuclear energy can contribute to combating climate change must be abandoned.” She pointed to both the military and environmental risks of pursuing nuclear energy. Harms called for a complete renunciation of nuclear power and insisted that public money should not be used to finance reactors.

    Clóvis Brigagão pointed out that although the Brazilian military is interested in a nuclear bomb, Brazil is a thriving democracy with a constitution and public dialog that prohibits them from acting on such ambitions.

    Forum I: "Preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middel East"

    • Emily Landau, Institute for National Security Studies, Tel Aviv
    • Arzu Celalifer Ekinci, International Strategic Research Organization (USAK), Ankara
    • Marc Berthold, Heinrich Böll Foundation, Berlin
    • Chair: Andrea Nüsse, Tagesspiegel, Berlin

    Emily Landau addressed the nuclear program in Iran. She characterized the international community’s efforts to deal with Iran as a failure and pointed to strong suspicions and statements that Iran’s nuclear activity is of a military nature. Iran is becoming a “hostile contender for regional hegemony.” Although it directs its most malicious rhetoric toward Israel, other states in the region also feel threatened. The key to moving forward rests on the possible nature of U.S.-Iranian negotiations.

    Landau distanced herself from the “good state or bad state” rhetoric, as she thinks this is problematic. However, not all states are the same in terms of the threats they face nor in their behavior, and there are norms that apply in the international sphere.

    Arzu Celalifer Ekinci called for a nuclear-free zone throughout the Middle East, with trust and transparency strengthened by IAEA monitoring. She believes that double standards – especially on the part of the U.S. – endanger the NPT. Turkey sees its worst-case scenario as an isolated Iran. Ekinci spoke out against the classification of states as either Western-friendly or non-Western-friendly. She advocated a policy of “conditional engagements” with Iran which would include security guarantees and take Iran’s legitimate security concerns into consideration.

    Marc Berthold addressed the issue of double standards being applied to Iran by pointing out that Iran is now in violation of the NPT treaty of which it is a signatory. He refuted the notion of a Western strategy against Iran, and pointed out that there have been five UN Security Council resolutions issued against Iran’s activities. Regarding possible negotiations, the U.S. has more carrots to offer Iran, while Europe has more sticks and sanctions that it could employ. Iran does have legitimate security concerns, but its rhetoric toward Israel is a detriment to eye-to-eye discussions. In its last proposal, Iran hinted that it is not going to respond seriously to Obama’s overtures and will continue to play for time instead.

    In response to a question about Turkey’s role in negotiations with Iran, Arzu Celalifer Ekinci said it could be a facilitator in the negotiations, but that it had little to offer Iran, so its role would rather be that of a “transmitter.” Ms. Landau agreed that the serious negotiations had to be done by the U.S., as it is the only party that can offer Iran the regional deal it seeks.

    Forum II: "Arms control and non-proliferation in South and East Asia"

    • Pervez Hoodbhoy, Department of Physics, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad
    • Arundhati Ghose, India’s former Ambassador to the United Nations, New Delhi
    • Christian Wagner, Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, Berlin
    • Chair: Julia Scherf, Heinrich Böll Foundation, Berlin

    Mr. Hoodbhoy started out by declaring the idea that having a small number of nuclear weapons will suffice for deterrence “has been blown out of force by history.” He pointed to the situation in Pakistan and India, both of which have been building their nuclear arsenals. However, he believes that the arms race in South Asia can be halted and that China-India antagonism is not a visceral one, pointing to growing trade between the countries. Although the Pakistani government maintains that its nuclear arsenal is well-protected from terrorists, Hoodbhoy noted that “the most sensitive organs of the government have been successfully targeted by fanatics,” and feels that this is a long-term concern.

    Ambassador Ghose believes that the focus of world security rests in Asia, and that the regional disputes there can have global repercussions. She explained that China has refused to discuss India’s concerns about the Chinese nuclear program and that India’s new deal with the United States has hardened China’s position. A dialog on the region’s security has recently begun with a trilateral meeting of India, China and Pakistan in Shanghai. She believes the bilateral relationship between Pakistan and India was favorable until the Mumbai attacks, and although the two governments are trying to work through it, “terrorism today is the most worrying element in this relationship.”

    Christian Wagner pointed out that all three countries developed nuclear weapons for different reasons. India did so to be in the same league as China, not because of a Pakistani threat, and Pakistan developed them in order to match India. Although China and India still have a territorial dispute, trade between them is growing and the situation is peaceful for now. He stated that the India-Pakistan relationship is at its best level in 60 years, and that the reaction after the Mumbai attacks was much better than after the attack on the Indian parliament in 2002.

    All of the panelists then had a chance to respond each others’ statements and to take questions from the audience. Hoodbhoy agreed with Ambassador Ghose that India doesn’t currently intend to do more testing, although some in the country are pushing for it. He believes there are groups of fanatics in Pakistan who want to attack India, and although the Pakistani government is trying to prevent this, India must consider how it will react if it happens again. He agrees with Mr. Wagner that India-Pakistan relations were at their best ever until Mumbai, and credited this to General Musharraf.

    Ambassador Ghose agreed with Mr. Hoodbhoy that having Pakistan’s arsenal under the control of the army is the best solution for now, but it pointed out that it is difficult to have talks related to nuclear confidence building measures (CBM) when an organization which sees India as its mortal enemy is in control of the nuclear arsenal.

    Mr. Wagner pointed out that the India-U.S. deal was approved by all nuclear powers, including China, and he finds it an interesting approach to getting a country back into the nonproliferation and inspection regime.

    Closing Panel: "Getting to Global Zero? The future of the non-proliferation regime beyond 2010"

    • Jürgen Trittin, Deputy Parliamentary Chairman, Alliance 90/The Greens, Berlin
    • John Steinbruner, Center for International and Security Studies, University of Maryland
    • Arundhati Ghose, India’s former Ambassador to the United Nations, New Delhi
    • Chair: Ralf Fücks, President, Heinrich Böll Foundation, Berlin

    Mr. Steinbruner observed that as it is not actually possible to get rid of nuclear explosive material, there will always be the need for reliable controls. He sees the operational state of the weapons in Russia and especially in the U.S. as one of the biggest risks of possible disaster. “It is not strategically justifiable to have one moment’s notice to deploy thousands of weapons.” A change in the security relationship between the major players is a prerequisite to a comprehensive deactivation of nuclear forces in the U.S. and Russia. Finally, he sees no chance of mitigating global warming without increasing nuclear power generation.

    Ambassador Ghose spoke about the challenges of meeting India’s energy demands and the possibility of doing so using nuclear power. As the country experiences rapid growth, its demand for electricity is on the rise. Before the Indo-U.S. deal, nuclear power accounted for only a 3% share of India’s energy mix. India hopes to increase this to 25% by 2035. She believes that all countries’ security concerns need to be addressed before a worldwide consensus can be reached on Global Zero. Ambassador Ghose would like to see more controls on the transfer of technologies. A major problem she sees is that many countries regard nuclear weapons as a benchmark for cutting-edge technology, a way must be found to change that perception.

    Jürgen Trittin tried to dispel two myths that he sees in the nuclear debate. The first myth, as Ambassador Ghose mentioned, espouses that nuclear technology is the most advanced technological level a country can attain. This myth persists despite the fact that the arms race ended twenty years ago, and needs to be dispelled completely. The second is the assertion that nuclear energy is indispensable if we want to effectively combat climate change (as Mr. Steinbruner argued). Trittin pointed out that nuclear power covers only 3% of the world’s energy needs, and that the technology is prohibitively expensive. 1.6 billion people do not have electricity and the world cannot afford to meet that demand with nuclear power. He called for Germany to do more to make disbarment a priority, and called for a strict multilateralization of the fuel cycle.