Nuclear futures and non-proliferation

At an EU retreat in Alpbach, Austria on 23-25 August, three dozen experts from academia, industry and international organisations assessed future developments impacting the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Held in conjunction with the European Forum Alpbach, the seminar on ‘Nuclear Futures?’ concluded that nuclear power will continue to be a significant part of the global energy panorama, particularly in non-OECD Asia. Nuclear energy can help ensure energy security and meet rising energy demands and greenhouse gas emission targets. While renewable sources will make an increasingly larger contribution, technological advancements may also help overcome the serious problems associated with nuclear power. Indeed, how to ensure that nuclear power is provided safely, securely and without abetting nuclear-weapons programmes was the dominant theme of the event. Each aspect of the ‘3S’ framework – safeguards, safety and security – was discussed at length, as well as the role of export controls in ensuring the proper use of nuclear-related trade. Ensuring adherence to each of these principles is fundamental if the nuclear future is not to be bleak.

Three separate units of the European Union joined forces in funding and organising the seminar: the European External Action Service through the EU Non-Proliferation Consortium, the Development and Cooperation – EuropeAid Directorate-General of the European Commission, and the Commission’s Joint Research Cente (JRC).

European Forum Alpbach, Austria - "Nuclear Futures? "

Mark Fitzpatrick
Director, Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Programme, International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), co-founder, EU Non-Proliferation Consortium

Summer 2014, Issue No. 16

NATO needs to be prepared for other possible crises to come

Even if the Ukrainian crisis does not mark a change of paradigm for Czech defence and security professionals, the Czech Republic supports shoring up the Alliance’s defences.
Dr. Ondrej Ditrych is a research fellow at the Institute of International Relations Prague and head of its international security research unit. He is also a lead investigator of the Global Prohibition Regimes project.
The Institute of International Relations Prague joined the EU Non-proliferation Consortium network last year. How would you assess the European landscape as far as strategic studies are concerned?

We are thrilled to have joined the EU Non-Proliferation Consortium network. It is exactly the kind of project that Europe needs. It connects research in strategic studies in order to amass and streamline expertise in this area which has been somewhat diffused and compartmentalized along national academic boundaries. And in doing so, it contributes to creating essential conditions for the EU to become a real 'strategic' actor - in other words, an actor that can be 'felt' on the global stage. Just recall how the U.S. assuming a global role was paralleled – and it was no coincidence - by emergence of the science of international relations, with strategic studies as its subfield. Fortunately, we’re not in the cold war anymore. But it’s difficult to imagine U.S. strategy in those times without theorists outside the government like Bernard Brodie. In today’s Europe, the situation is different as the expertise is obviously here. We don’t need to be starting from the scratch. But we need to overcome the predicament I’ve described above, and I see the role of the Consortium as absolutely essential in that.

Could you describe the purpose of the IIR recently launched project “Global Prohibition Regimes”?

In this project, we seek to conduct a comprehensive comparative analysis of the global prohibition regimes, which we understand as institutionalizations of explicit and implicit norms prohibiting certain activities of both state and nonstate actors (through systemic diffusion in the international space, in international public law as well as domestic criminal law), and processes by which these norms are enforced. Importantly, these regimes, which we divide into three clusters - 'nonconventional' (CBRN), 'humanitarian' (APLs, CMs, and SALWs), and a 'heterogenous' third cluster (drug and endangered species traffic, and cybersecurity) - have to have a globalizing ambition to eliminate leakage and exploitation of loopholes. The overwhelming objective of such comparative analysis is to investigate how power operates in these regimes: which forms it takes, when it is manifested and where, that is, which actors and spaces it concerns. It is obviously an ambitious project, and we’re very lucky to have assembled an excellent international team of experts with various backgrounds to carry it out. Some of them, by the way, are associated with other partner institutions in the Non–Proliferation Consortium network such as SIPRI and DIIS.

More than 20 years after the end of the Cold War, Central Europe has been under the spotlight this year. How does the Ukraine crisis affect Czech security perceptions and its strategic interests?

The impact of the Ukraine crisis is very likely to be seen in the process of drafting strategic documents in the area of security and defence. Currently, this is above all the Longterm Outlook for Defence (2030), which is being prepared at the Ministry of Defence. That said, the crisis does not mark a change of paradigm for Czech defence and security professionals. They feel rather vindicated, for they have seen, by and large Russia as a threat for years. It is important to differentiate these professionals from the current political leadership that has been less enthusiastic in pursuing this line of thought. But even the official statements, which in any case have been intended for domestic, or even one particular political party’s audience, frame Russian government if not as an immediate threat than as a major source of instability. So, I’d say there is a fairly broad agreement that the current crisis may not necessarily escalate, NATO needs to be prepared for other possible crises to come. Therefore, the Czech Republic supports shoring up the Alliance’s defences – if not through permanent deployments in the Central Europe than through exercises, update of contingency plans etc. – and the general trend toward moving to a post-expeditionary phase with the corresponding renewed focus on defence taking into account the changed security environment and the nature of new risks faced by member states’ governments and societies.

Interview conducted by Benjamin Hautecouverture