EU Consortium: The Next Three Years

A few weeks ago, the European External Action Service (EEAS) formally confirmed and reinforced its support for the activities of the EU Non-Proliferation Consortium (EUNPC) for the next three years. It is a testimony of the success of this project launched in 2010 which concluded recently its first three years of operations. For the Consortium and the four institutes (FRS, IISS, PRIF, SIPRI) that have joined forces to establish it, it is great satisfaction.

The last three years saw the organisation of two major conferences, two EU seminars, several closed track II events supporting the Arms Trade Treaty or the prospects of a Middle East WMD Free Zone, the launch of a website and a newsletter, the publication of 40 policy papers.
For the next three years, and thanks to the EU support, the EU Consortium will be able to significantly expand its activities. The major conferences will become a yearly event as well as smaller EU seminars. The EUNPC will expand its presence on social media.

Moreover, a whole set of new activities will allow the organisation of a number of ad hoc seminars, the establishment of an help desk to support the EEAS and the launch of a major initiative in terms of non-proliferation training for the next generation of experts. This will significantly expand the reach of the Consortium and offer many opportunities to involve the wider network of European institutes and experts.

This increased EU support creates for the EUNPC an obligation of success. It has been an honor and a privilege to chair the Consortium, and with all partners, we definitely look forward to the next three years.

Camille Grand
Chairman, EU Non-Proliferation Consortium
Director, Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (FRS)

April/May 2014, Issue No. 15

The Ukrainian crisis is a wake-up call for the foreign policy establishment in the West

Whereas the link between non-proliferation and disarmament is under pressure within the NPT review process, the crisis in Ukraine will have a negative impact on the nonproliferation regime in the short term.
Tom Sauer is an Associate Professor in International Politics and head of the Research Group in International Politics at the Universiteit Antwerpen (Belgium). His research interests cover nuclear arms control, proliferation, disarmament, and missile defense. He is member of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs.
What characterizes the Research Group in International Politics at the University of Antwerp in the European landscape of strategic research?

The research group in International Politics at the Universiteit Antwerpen (Belgium) is the only academic institution in Flanders that focuses on issues of non-proliferation, arms control, and disarmament. Consequently, networking with peers happens on a European (ECPR, EU Non-Proliferation Consortium) and global level (Fissile Materials Working Group, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, International Studies Association). Specific research interests of a substantial part of the group are nuclear security, nuclear terrorism, US nuclear weapons policy, US extended deterrence, Iran, missile defense, the emerging powers and the nuclear non-proliferation regime, and the desirability and feasibility of nuclear elimination (including the humanitarian approach). The Group also tries to engage the public by writing op-eds and by commenting in the media. Other members of the Research Group deal with related international topics, like diplomacy (Prof Jan Melissen), geopolitics (Prof David Criekemans) and the role of international organizations (Prof Dieter Kerwer).

The third NPT Prepcom was held in New York last week. How do you assess the current NPT review process?

The NPT has been an essential tool in managing nuclear proliferation. That said, the NPT has also its limits, the major one being the lack of a concrete date for nuclear elimination. As the NWS do not feel the heat, except at the 5-yearly review conferences, and keep modernizing their nuclear weapons, the NNWS will have to wait for a very long time before all nuclear weapons will be eliminated. That is not what they expected when they signed the NPT. As a result, many of the NNWS are becoming impatient. Indications are the failure of the 2005 NPT Review Conference, the Egyptian walk-out at the 2013 Prepcom, the setting-up of the Open-Ended Working Group, the recent lawsuit by the Marshall islands against all nuclear weapon states, and above all the new dynamics of the so-called humanitarian approach that may lead to a nuclear weapons ban. Such a ban will stigmatize nuclear weapons and shift the debate. It will then be up to the nuclear weapon states to explain why they refuse to ban nuclear weapons. Combined with the financial pressure on the defense budgets, a country like the UK may start getting rid of nuclear weapons, which on its turn may trigger a positive domino effect.

What could be the impact of the crisis in Ukraine on the non-proliferation regime in Europe and beyond?

In the short-term, the crisis in Ukraine will have a negative impact on arms control and nonproliferation because of three reasons: first of all because the political relationship between Russia and the US, that was already icy, further deteriorated. Second, the crisis led already to demands for the acceleration of the installment of missile defense in Europe, something that will encourage Russia even more to believe that US missile defense is meant to be against Russia. Thirdly, advocates of nuclear weapons, who have been on the defensive over the last years, see this crisis as an opportunity to speak out. In the medium term, the picture may be rather different. Arms control may be the most likely instrument to start improving the relationship with Russia, like during the Cold War. This crisis is a wake-up call for the foreign policy establishment in the West, which may trigger some introspection. We should find a way to fully integrate Russia (and Ukraine) into the European security architecture. The end result may be much less nuclear weapons in Europe and a compromise on missile defense.

Interview conducted by Benjamin Hautecouverture