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Annette Schaper
Preventing Nuclear Proliferation: Strengthening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and Implementing the Comprehensive Test Ban

The German Debate

The topic of this paper is the German debate in the public, the parliament, and the government on preventing nuclear proliferation, with a special focus on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). To understand the official policy and the debates, it is useful to keep in mind some general factors influencing the German nuclear arms control and disarmament policy. [ On German nuclear disarmament policy see Alexander Kelle, „Germany", in: Harald Müller, ed., Europe and Nuclear Disarmament (Brussels: European Interuniversity Press, 1998), pp. 81ff.]

The German security situation after the East-West conflict has greatly improved. In 1994, the German government presented a general assessment of security risks that included social, economic, and ecological developments. The perception of a direct nuclear threat to Germany as it existed during the Cold War is no longer a factor. In a list of a dozen security policy goals, arms control ranked second to last. [ Bundesministerium der Verteidigung, Weißbuch 1994. Weißbuch zur Sicherheit der Bundesrepublik Deutschland und zur Lage und Zukunft der Bundeswehr, Bonn, April 1994, pp. 25 ff. Quoted from Kelle, „Germany" in Müller, ed., Europe and Nuclear Disarmament.]

On the other hand, the government has repeatedly emphasized the importance of implementing existing arms control agreements and of continuing arms control efforts. A landmark is then German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel's ten-point initiative of 1993. [ Summary in Nuclear Proliferation News , no. 5, 10 June 1994.] „The prevention or restraining of proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons of mass destruction and corresponding delivery systems is becoming increasingly important. This task ... is a central concern of the German Foreign and Security Policy." [ German Foreign Office, Bericht zur Rüstungskontrolle, Abrüstung und Nichtverbreitung 1997, p. 7, translation by the author.] This support for nonproliferation and arms control has been uncontested since the end of the East-West conflict. It is remarkable because during the preceding decades, there had been several very different phases of German nuclear policies. [ A detailed overview is Harald Müller and Wolfgang Kötter, „Germany and the Bomb. Nuclear Policies in the Two German States, and the United Germany's Nonproliferation Commitments", PRIF Reports no. 14, Frankfurt/M. (PRIF) 1990.] An important factor in this shift has been the 2+4 Treaty of 1990, which is an even stronger nonproliferation commitment for the united Germany than the NPT. In contrast to U.S. security policy, German security policy is totally embedded in international institutions.

In a non-nuclear-weapon state, there is nothing similar to the lobbying of the nuclear weapons laboratories in the nuclear-weapon states. As a consequence, debates on nuclear arms control are less divided than they are in the United States, and arms control opponents like those in the United States do not exist.

There is conservatism concerning the existing North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) strategy on topics such as the nuclear umbrella, deterrence doctrine, deployment of warheads on German soil, and first use. It is remarkable that Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer advocated the adoption of a no-first-use policy by NATO in November 1999, thereby

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breaking a long- time taboo. [ Interview with Foreign Minister Fischer in Der Spiegel , 23 November 1998, no. 48, p. 84.] But this proposal was contested within the government, political parties, academic analysts, and a few press articles. In 1993, the then Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel called for a nuclear weapons register at the United Nations. Apart from these exceptions, the conservatism has led to a rather cautious, status-quo-oriented arms control policy, [ Kelle, „Germany", in Müller, ed., Europe and Nuclear Disarmament .] and these proposals have failed to have any practical impact in international institutions.

There is a long-standing and still lingering resentment of the discrimination inherent in the nuclear nonproliferation regime. The reasons have changed throughout history, but to a large extent this resentment can be explained by perceived or real competitive disadvantages of the nuclear industry. [ This is visible in the debate about the implementation of 93+2. See Annette Schaper, „Detection of Non-Declared Activities Towards Nuclear Nonproliferation", Proceedings of the Workshop on Science and Modern Technology for Safeguards, Arona, Italy, 28-31 October, 1996, pp. 341ff, Ispra 1997.] In recent years, there has also been an increasing impatience with the slow pace of nuclear disarmament.

Traditionally the German profile in international nuclear arms control negotiations has been comparatively low. This can be explained partly by Germany’s status as a non-nuclear-weapon state, partly by historic reasons, and partly by the low rank of nuclear arms control in comparison to other foreign policy goals. An important goal is developing common European Union (EU) positions when possible, but a counterproductive consequence of this goal is that interests of nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states in the EU must be considered, which normally leads to the lowest common denominator. Any strong positions are discouraged. [ See as an illustrative example Rebecca Johnson, „The NPT Third PrepCom: What Happened and How", Disarmament Diplomacy, no. 37 (May 1999), p. 8ff, see especially p. 15.] Those EU member states that rank nuclear arms control high on the list of the numerous EU policy goals, especially France and Britain, have a stronger influence than those whose priorities are ranked differently, for example, Germany, whose EU interests lie more in other fields.

Because nuclear arms control matters are given a low priority, the number of specialists on the subject is rather small. This holds for the government, political parties, and the academic community. Also, any broad public interest or debate on nuclear disarmament has largely ceased after the end of the East-West conflict. One exception was the short protests against the resumption of French testing in September 1995 and some press attention to Indian and Pakistani testing in May 1998.

Strengthening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

After German reunification, the NPT became much more important, and it has developed as the basis of German nuclear arms control policy. The government has repeatedly emphasized this, for example, in the Arms Control and Disarmament Report of 1998:

„The NPT is continuing to be the fundament of the international nonproliferation regime and the nuclear nonproliferation policy of the Federal Government. The Federal Government has repeatedly campaigned the four abstaining states India, Pakistan, Israel, and Cuba for acceding to the NPT and has urged them to follow the international norms of nonproliferation unconditionally."

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Prior to and during the NPT extension conference, the German government has actively participated in a campaign to lobby abstainers to join the treaty and to indefinitely extend the treaty. The reason for this policy, which is remarkably different from the policy in the sixties and seventies, is that nonproliferation is taken seriously as security policy. [ Harald Müller, „Historische Entscheidung? Zur Verlängerung des Atomwaffensperrvertrags", HSFK - Standpunkte Nr. 5, Frankfurt/M. (PRIF) Juni 1995.] Being a non-nuclear state has increasingly been seen as an advantage. This policy on the NPT has not been contested among the four major democratic parties: the Christian Democrats, the Social Democrats, the Greens, and Liberals. Also, the majority of the academic community endorsed the indefinite extension goal. The few exceptions were some skeptical analysts, motivated by impatience because of the discriminatory character of the NPT [ Uwe Nerlich, „Elemente einer neuen Weltnuklearordnung", SWP-S 99, Ebenhausen, September 1994.] or insufficient progress on nuclear disarmament. [ Wolfgang Liebert, „Wie weiter mit dem Vertrag über die Nichtverbreitung von Kernwaffen?" IANUS-Arbeitspapier, Darmstadt, März 1994.]

In order to understand the German policy and debates on the role of the NPT, we must also look at the debates on nuclear disarmament. Governmental officials, politicians, analysts, and activists are well aware that the NPT has two pillars, nonproliferation and disarmament. However, there are differences over which aspect of disarmament should be emphasized. [ Harald Müller, Alexander Kelle, Katja Frank, Sylvia Meier, and Annette Schaper, „Nuclear Disarmament: With What end in View?, The International Discourse about Nuclear Arms Control and the Vision of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World", PRIF Reports no. 46, Frankfurt/M. (PRIF) December 1996.]

The official position has been ambivalent. One example is the official view on the legality of use or threatened use of nuclear weapons, which the government gave before the International Court of Justice. The German position here rested chiefly on two arguments. First, the court should not have an opinion at all because any statement would interfere with state security concerns. Second, the international community has not outlawed nuclear weapons, and there is a risk that „the politically successful strategy of negotiating international arms control agreements on a step-by-step basis" could be undermined by „an unrealistic all-or-nothing approach." [ „Oral Statement of the Federal Republic of Germany at the Public Sitting of the International Court of Justice", The Hague, 2 November 1995, mimeographed copy, p. 9, quoted from Kelle, „Germany", in Müller, ed., Europe and Nuclear Disarmament .] Although many found this statement disappointing, it shows at least the importance that is placed on further arms control measures. Also, further reductions are not contested.

Within the government and the academic community, there are voices who find the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world unrealistic. However, the goal of making progress in reductions is uncontested, for example, progress with the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START), implementing treaties such as the CTBT and START II, creating more transparency on a nuclear weapons register, extending international safeguards in nuclear-weapon states, and negotiating new treaties such as the fissile material cutoff (FMCT), which is devoted a high priority. The interpretation, however, varies. Some interpret such progress as steps in a gradualist approach toward a nuclear-weapon-free world, and others believe that this goal will remain utopian. However, as both sides agree, this different interpretation hardly disturbs decisions on topical policy; the debates do not play an important role. It must also be noted that there are a few nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that campaign for a nuclear weapons convention to be negotiated now. They have also been dissatisfied with the German position on the indefinite extension of the NPT. [ INESAP, „Beyond the NPT: A Nuclear-Weapon-Free World", April 1995.] In sum, it can be said that the German

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government, the leading political parties, and the majority of the academic community emphasize the necessity of progress and are becoming increasingly impatient with the slow pace of nuclear disarmament and arms control since 1995.

The federal government has great interest in strengthening the NPT and its universality. The NPT Review Process and further nuclear arms control measures, especially the FMCT, are singled out as means for strengthening. [ German Foreign Office, Bericht zur Rüstungskontrolle, Abrüstung und Nichtverbreitung 1998, Drucksache 14/810.] These goals and the gradual step-by-step approach are not contested in the government, between political parties, or in the academic community; discussions are limited to the small circle of nuclear arms control experts. The Review Conference in 2000 is seen as an important step toward this end.

With this policy, the outcome of the Third Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) must be judged a disappointment. [ Rebecca Johnson, „The NPT Third PrepCom".] A consensus was reached only on procedural matters, not on substance; none of the political disagreements was solved, which reflects a deepening crisis in arms control. The deadlocks are the same as in the previous PrepComs. Major hurdles are a lack of consensus on how to judge the implementation of a resolution taken on the Middle East in 1995, and the progress on further nuclear disarmament. The outcome since 1995 has been disappointing, even for those who do not believe in a future nuclear-weapon-free world but who favor the gradualist disarmament approach of the next steps. No progress has been made in the START process; the FMCT seems to have a low priority within U.S. security policy goals; the CTBT has not yet been ratified by the United States; and U.S. efforts to weaken the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty seem to endanger further nuclear disarmament. There are no indications that this situation will change soon, and it must be expected that the same issues will be the major subject of debates and disagreements at the NPT Review Conference in 2000. This might severely undermine the credibility of the NPT.

While the United States takes the position that disarmament obligations stem only from the NPT itself, [ Tariq Rauf, John Simpson, „The 1999 PrepCom", Nonproliferation Review 6, no. 2 (Winter 1999) p. 118.] Germany believes that the treaty has been enhanced by the Principles and Objectives (P&O) of NPT review conferences that were agreed upon in 1995 and that explicitly strengthen the NPT's disarmament component. They constitute an important politically binding document.

In order to strengthen the NPT, the German government should be outspoken on this opinion in international forums, and it should repeatedly stress the view that nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation are intertwined. It should also intensify its efforts to persuade the nuclear- weapon states to make more disarmament efforts and to accept more compromises. As a major non-nuclear-weapon state, it should take a leading role in finding coalitions toward this end and starting initiatives on specific arms control subjects. Within this policy, the most constructive methods are avoiding major confrontations and instead finding a working level for the substance instead of procedures. The nuclear-weapon states must be persuaded that it is in their own interest to achieve more substantial disarmament steps.

One of the most important next steps that is also explicitly named in the P&O is the FMCT. A fissile material cutoff treaty would have several benefits:

  • It would put nonproliferation obligations on states outside the NPT;
  • it would reduce the discrimination within the nonproliferation regime;

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  • it would introduce verification measures in states that are not currently submitting to full-scope safeguards, such as nuclear-weapon states and states outside the NPT, thereby further reducing proliferation dangers; and
  • it would give a push to other initiatives aiming at similar goals, especially international collaboration on the security of fissile materials and nuclear disarmament.

At this time, the Conference on Disarmament (CD) is stalled because opinions differ widely on what should be covered by such a treaty. Some delegations want to strengthen the disarmament component, others want just another nonproliferation treaty. In order to achieve progress, compromises must be made. The nuclear-weapon states (NWS) must demonstrate their willingness to take on their own disarmament commitments. Germany as a major non-nuclear-weapon state has the duty to act as an intermediary and push for progress.

Implementing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

Until the end of 1980s, the CTBT was a long-term goal in German nuclear arms control policy. This position changed at the 1990 NPT Review Conference, and the new stance was reaffirmed during the Partial Test Ban Treaty amendment conference in 1991, thereby contributing to the isolation of the United States and Britain. [ Kelle, „Germany", in Müller, ed., Europe and Nuclear Disarmament.] The call for a CTBT was also an element in Foreign Minister Kinkel's ten-point initiative.

During the CTBT negotiations, Germany took rather progressive positions. The most prominent one was the call for a ban on test preparations, which only Sweden joined. [ Rebecca Johnson, „CTBT Negotiations: Geneva Update No. 26", in Disarmament Diplomacy (February 1996), no. 2, p. 10.] The aim was to have an early warning system about low-yield experiments that could undermine the CTBT. This would have exposed certain suspicious activities on test sites at least to public doubt on whether they represent a treaty violation. In February 1996, there were several compromises on conflicting negotiation positions in Geneva, including the German abandonment of this position. Instead, Germany asked for maximum transparency, including transparency on former test sites. It took also the position of regularly offering maximum transparency of CTBT verification activities and user-friendly information to all CTBT states parties.

The scope was also of interest to the German delegation. The spirit of the treaty was understood as preventing any further nuclear weapons innovation. Therefore, all experiments that endanger this goal should be banned. However, contradicting goals were also taken seriously, for example, not impeding civilian research that might be close to military research, as on inertial confinement fusion (ICF). Some civilian ICF research takes place in Germany and in several other non-nuclear-weapon states. The scope issue was negotiated mainly among the NWS. Within the academic community, a few individuals were interested in this subject. They demanded a zero-yield CTBT, which at that time did not seem to be the position of the NWS. [ For an overview of the several technologies that were under discussion to be banned, see Annette Schaper, „The problem of definition: just what is a nuclear weapon test?" in Eric Arnett, ed., Implementing the Comprehensive Test Ban , SIPRI Research Report, no. 8, 1994.] As is well known, as a reaction to the protests against the French tests, the French suddenly changed their minds: on 10 August 1995 President Jacques Chirac announced that France would now support a ban of „all nuclear explosions." This was interpreted as a „zero-option", which includes a ban on hydronuclear tests. One day later President Bill Clinton agreed to the „zero-option". The German understanding that the zero-

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option means no nuclear yield is reflected in Foreign Minister Kinkel’s immediate press declaration of 12 August 1995, welcoming and commenting on Clinton’s declaration of 11 August. Some voices in the activist community repeated the Indian position that the disarmament component is too weak and that other related experiments, including ICF, computer simulations, and hydrodynamic tests, should also be banned. [ Martin B. Kalinowski, „Virtual Nuclear Tests - Can the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty be Circumvented by Computer Simulations?" Working Paper, IANUS-1A/1996.] However, these demands did not have any impact on the government.

The German negotiating positions were remarkably progressive, especially in comparison to many other nuclear arms control occasions. They show the desire to strengthen the disarmament component.

The CTBT negotiations were affected by an underlying conflict, which initially was not taken very seriously but later led to stalemate about the entry into force (EIF). It can be summarized as nuclear disarmament versus nuclear nonproliferation, although the majority of the negotiation partners wanted both. [ On the interests and results of the CTBT negotiations see Annette Schaper, „Der Umfassende Teststopp-vertrag: kurz vor dem Ziel – oder gescheitert?" HSFK-Standpunkte, Nr. 7, Frankfurt/M. (PRIF) August 1996; An English version is: Annette Schaper, „The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty from a global perspective", in: Michael McKinzie, ed ., The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty: Issues and Answers , Cornell University, Peace Studies Program, Occasional Papers, p. 11, June 1997; See also S. Keller, „Some striking similarities and some telling dissimilarities between a cutoff convention and a CTBT", Presentation at a Workshop on The Cut-Off-Convention - Interest, Scope, Verification and Problems, Bonn, 12 December 1996, reprinted as appendix in Annette Schaper, „A Treaty on the Cutoff of Fissile Material for Nuclear Weapons – What to Cover? How to Verify?", PRIF Reports no. 48, Frankfurt/M. (PRIF) July 1997.] The NWS were mainly motivated by the prospect of nonproliferation, such as curbing any future nuclear weapon developments, including the development of thermonuclear designs in the cases of India, Israel, and Pakistan. At the same time, they were interested in minimizing their own restrictions as much as possible. One example is that they even rejected simple preamble language stating that the goal of the treaty is the end of the qualitative arms race. [ Rebecca Johnson, „Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty: The Endgame", Disarmament Diplomacy no. 9, April 1996.] Others wanted a stronger disarmament component because they feared the NWS would also be able to continue the development of new nuclear weapons without underground testing.

India’s demands went far beyond containing the qualitative nuclear arms race. It has continued to insist on a timetable for comprehensive nuclear disarmament. This was attractive to many non-nuclear-weapon states. Nevertheless, it was clear to almost all the negotiating partners that to redefine the aim of the treaty was something the NWS could not accept. India therefore found few supporters for this maximum demand. Many CD members suspected that New Delhi was merely using its plea for disarmament as a pretext to keep its own military nuclear option. Because even its more modest proposals were not accepted, India could justify its abstention by claiming that none of its demands had been met.

Germany would have preferred an entry into force (EIF) clause that puts fewer obstacles to the EIF. It sees the benefits of the treaty in the disarmament component and would not have rejected an EIF without the non-members of the NPT. It signed the CTBT immediately after its opening for signature and ratified it on 20 August 1998.

The prohibition on testing has been taken seriously, although official protests against French testing in summer 1995 were rather weak. The reason is the special French-German

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relationship. Public protests, in contrast, were very strong. The government protested officially in reaction to the Indian and Pakistani tests in spring 1998, and development aid was stalled for a limited time. In contrast to French testing, there were no public protests. Some analysts argued that the official protests should have been stronger in order to confirm and strengthen the prohibition on testing. [ Harald Müller, „Weltpolitische Wasserscheide: Atomtests in Südasien und die Folgen", HSFK-Standpunkte Nr. 3, Frankfurt/M. (PRIF) Juni 1998.] Indeed, in comparison to U.S. or Japanese reactions, the German protests were moderate. Also the public reaction to Indian testing was not very critical, and press reports mostly showed some understanding, although they deplored the events. Many of them cited Indian resentment of the discriminatory character of the nonproliferation regime and criticized the United States for being hypocritical because of the many nuclear tests it had conducted in the past. One explanation for why the official reaction was not more resolute is the traditional hesitation about using sanctions in international relations, unless the event is extremely serious. [ This tradition can be explained by Germany's role as an exporting state and by the historic experience that the policy of breaking off diplomatic relations with all who recognized the former GDR (the so-called „Hallstein Doctrine") turned out to be a failure.]

The next event concerning the CTBT will be the first annual conference on „measures consistent with international law... to accelerate the ratification process in order to facilitate the early EIF", to take place after 24 September 1999. This conference does not have the power to let the treaty enter into force without the requirements laid down in the EIF clause of the CTBT, and has been given the nickname „the hand-wringing conference". It is, however, an important event that may indeed strengthen the international momentum toward ratification and EIF. So far, there has been no public debate, not even within the NGOs that were active during the CTBT negotiations, very much in contrast to the United States. The latest annual arms control and disarmament report does not mention this forthcoming conference. [ See German Foreign Office, Bericht zur Rüstungskontrolle, Abrüstung und Nichtverbreitung 1998, Drucksache 14/810.] However, the importance of the CTBT is repeatedly stressed.

So far, there have been 44 ratifications, but crucial ones, especially that of the United States, are still missing. Other important ratifications are probably dependent on U.S. ratification, for example, those of Russia and China. Therefore, it is important to enhance public pressure in the United States. One means could be holding the conference in New York instead of in Vienna in order to create high publicity and to enable much high-level diplomatic attendance because there are more diplomatic missions in New York. If the conference takes place in Vienna, there will also be a conflict with the dates when the First Committee will meet in New York, and attendance at the conference would be further reduced. However, a majority of ratifiers, especially the Europeans and the Germans, prefer Vienna, because it is the location of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) and many CTBT-related meetings. They fear that otherwise a precedent would be set that would result in too-strong U.S. dominance. However, it would be wise to make an exception and at the same time to make clear that it will remain one.

In order to be more than a „handwringing conference", the conference should decide on measures that are more than mere rhetoric. The Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers has published a list with recommendations, including the following:

  • Signatories should provide financial aid to those who hesitate on ratification because they fear excessive costs.
  • States that have not yet ratified should explicitly be named.

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  • Practical assistance such as information, financial aid, and assistance with legislation should be offered to non-ratifiers.
  • „Carrots and sticks" can be memberships in international organisations and loans or the fear of diplomatic isolation, respectively.
  • The Special Conference should call for sanctions on states that test in future. [ George Bunn, together with Rebecca Johnson and Daryl Kimball, „Accelerating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, The Article XIV Special Conference", A Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers Report, Working Paper, Washington, May 1999.]

Prior to the Special Conference, ratifiers should emphasize its importance in international forums and announce attendance by foreign ministers. They should also take special diplomatic efforts in advance, similar to the 1995 extension conference.

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

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