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On June 28 and 29, 1999, German and American officials of the Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs as well as other experts gathered in Bonn for a conference entitled „Preventing the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction: What Role for Arms Control?".

It was not the first seminar organized by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation which dealt with proliferation issues. In 1992, we held a conference entitled "The Verification of the Biological Weapons Convention: Problems and Perspectives", and in 1996, we organized the conference "Enhancing the Biological Weapons Convention". While these seminars - as their titles indicate - dealt with biological weapons only, they were international events with participants coming from 7 or 8 countries. This time we decided to do it just the other way round: to deal with biological as well as chemical and nuclear weapons, but to meet only on a bilateral, i.e. German-American basis. Moreover, during previous conferences we took the usefulness of arms control as a means to contain and prevent proliferation more or less as a given, while this time the central question of our conference was of a much broader character: What role can arms control play to deal with proliferation compared with other measures such as deterrence or active and passive defenses?

This approach was based on the assumption that the United States on the one hand and Germany (together with many other European countries) on the other increasingly differ in their views of how to cope with proliferation. While Germans (and many Europeans) take an „arms control first" approach, it seems as if in the United States arms control is, at best, seen as one among other instruments such as deterrence, passive and active defenses or even preemptive attacks against nuclear, chemical and biological arsenals in countries hostile to the U.S. Therefore we felt the urgent need to hold a transatlantic dialogue on these issues.

The papers presented at our conference are collected in this volume. The views expressed here are those of the authors and should not be attributed to any of the institutions for which they are working or to which they are affiliated. As the reader may notice, authors sometimes strongly differ in their views on certain problems, but this only reflects a widening transatlantic gap on proliferation issues. In fact, the decision of the U.S. Senate on October 14, 1999 to reject the ratification of the CTBT, which is strongly supported in Europe, only adds to this development.

We would like to thank the Franziska and Otto Bennemann Foundation for the gracious financial support it provided, without which our conference would not have been possible.

I am also grateful to Aileen Moodie for the professional language editing on all papers. Bärbel Ackermann assisted in the preparations for the conference, and Franziska Bongartz helped with the final editing of the publication. To both of them I feel deeply obliged.

Oliver Thränert, Berlin, October 1999

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© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | net edition fes-library | Februar 2000

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