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(1995) European Security Paper: Have European Arms Control Negotiations made little contribution to increasing security in Europe ?

(1995) European Security Paper: Have European Arms Control Negotiations made little contribution to increasing security in Europe ?

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Published by Jeffrey Bradford
The Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions (MBFR), Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE), and Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty are the concern of this paper and assesses the contribution of these regimes by describing them each in turn, looking at their utility alone, and in conclusion their contribution to an overall framework for European security.
The Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions (MBFR), Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE), and Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty are the concern of this paper and assesses the contribution of these regimes by describing them each in turn, looking at their utility alone, and in conclusion their contribution to an overall framework for European security.

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Published by: Jeffrey Bradford on Jan 07, 2010
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 By Jeffrey Peter BradfordEuropean security during the cold-war was of key importance, as during the darkest times of East-Westconfrontation, the failure to maintain it had, as its consequence global catastrophe. In the nuclear andconventional field, attempts were made to improve the security of Europe through negotiations, toalleviate the worst excesses of East-West confrontation, and it is three of these processes; the Mutualand Balanced Force Reductions (MBFR), Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE), and Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty which are the concern of this paper.In order to assess the contribution of these regimes the paper will first describe them each inturn, looking at their utility alone, and in conclusion their contribution to an overall framework for European security, as well as commenting upon their relevance to a Europe which is no longer in aconfrontational relationship with the former Eastern bloc in the post cold-war era.
 In 1968 the NATO ministerial conference proposed negotiations on conventional force levels with theUSSR, because of three key factors. Firstly, there was a common perception that a reduction inmilitary confrontation could allow a reduction in defence expenditure, indeed the Harmel reportcommissioned by NATO in 1967 expressly forbade any further cuts in forces by members pending thestart of MBFR, as the unilateral actions by European NATO governments were adversely affecting thechances of reaching a common negotiation position.Secondly the West wished to regain the initiative in the propaganda war from the USSR whohad recently proposed the CSCE, and lastly the talks were seen as a way of relieving domestic pressurein the US to unilaterally reduce its forces, as negotiations would act as a brake on any timetable for disengagement. In 1971, a member of the US congress proposed an amendment to the draft laws. TheMansfield amendment was defeated with the assistance of Premier Brezhnev, who announced hisintention to participate in the MBFR talks, serving as a catalyst to the commencement of MBFR negotiations.Shortly after negotiations were opened, problems became apparent. The United Kingdom and WestGermany wanted Soviet nuclear forces included, but not NATO nuclear weapons whereas the SovietUnion did not, instead wanting ground and air forces included, whereas NATO only wanted manpower in the armies of both sides to be considered. Eventually the ceilings issue was resolved by settingmanpower limits of 900,000 on ground and air forces, and a 700,000 ceiling on ground forces.Another problem was that of definition, what did "balanced" in MBFR actually mean ? Did itrefer to quantities, or quality ? The Soviet Union introduced another proposal whereby foreign forceswould be included under the ceilings, and be gradually returned to their home state. This createdobvious problems for NATO, as the difference in distance between the West German border and theUSSR, and the West German Border and North America was 4,300 miles, in the Soviet Union's favour.Other problems emerged such as the nature of verification, especially difficult in the case of mobilearmed forces, as compared to nuclear missile silos, as noted by one observer; "Counting troops andarms in the territory of the other party can become a charade - as was the case in summer 1980, whenallied intelligence staffs lost track of the Soviet 6th armoured division - which had been declaredwithdrawn from the Wittenberg region of East Germany to the Soviet Union since October 1979" (1)Another issue that arose was that of how should the geography of the area be related to force balances? Does the terrain favour attack or defence, and should the manpower ceilings be altered accordingly ?In sum, should the reductions by symmetrical (equal) or asymmetrical ? When the talks began tostagnate over technical issues, NATO played its trump negotiating card, the "option 3" - this involvedthe direct offer to have NATO withdraw 1,000 US nuclear weapons in return for the withdrawal of oneSoviet tank army. In effect NATO broke its own negotiation rules, by including nuclear weapons,increasing internal arguments concerning the vulnerability to surprise attack, and the effects a shortfallin nuclear weapons may have. The talks degenerated from this point into various proposals andcounter-proposals. However several one-off withdrawals were made, before the talks lapsed intomediocrity with the end of détente and the start of the second cold war with the invasion of Afghanistanin 1979.
In summary the MBFR talks were a failure in so far as they failed to achieve any tangible results,however, they did facilitate contact and exchanges of positions for both parties, as well as establishinga basis for the CFE process. The process highlighted the difficulty that verification posed in the realmof conventional arms control, the thorn by which the talks collapsed. As summed up by Ambassador Blackwill of the US delegation, "the good news is that we now have permanent check-points; the badnews is that nobody goes through them" (2) The talks also had the by-product of quelling demands inthe US domestic political system for the withdrawal of troops, as noted by one writer, the defeat of theMansfield amendment easing pressure for a unilateral withdrawal of US servicemen "significantlydecreased the likelihood of an accord." (3)
 The key difference in assessing the CFE and MBFR was in the intentions of the participants. The NATO call for negotiations at Halifax, Canada and Premier Gorbachev’s Budapest address, coupledwith the distinct thaw in superpower confrontation, engendered a climate for meaningful discussions totake place. The guiding aim of the CFE talks were to "eliminate disparities prejudiced to stability andsecurity, and to eliminate as a matter of priority the capability to launch surprise attack and to initiatelarge-scale offensive action" (4) The talks also avoided the problem which had dogged the MBFR  process, that of manpower, deciding instead to focus upon key forms of equipment which could bemonitored, and counted more easily, within four zones comprising the ATTU area. The CFE talks alsotook place at a time of general progress in arms control, on one hand the CSCE Stockholm Accord wasnearing fruition, placing tighter controls on military movements, and the INF Treaty was in its finalstages of preparation, indicating a common interest between Europe, the US and the Soviet Union tocurb the military excesses of East-West confrontation. From a technical standpoint, advanced satelliteswere available to both superpowers, making verification in both the nuclear and conventional realmsmore practical.The negotiations moved along at a rapid pace, in comparison to its predecessor, with theSoviet Union particularly making concessions initially, then with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, asnoted by one writer the concessions "dried up" (5) The WTO negotiating team became increasinglyindependently minded, leading to the Soviet military representatives taking over negotiations in a defacto sense. Further the impending break-up of the Union was making CFE problematic for Russia asthe sufficiency rules placing limits on equipment holdings per country, were based on the Eastern Blocscontinued existence. The US, keen to reach an agreement were prepared to drop aircraft from the talks,as they had proven a sticking point, due to problems of definition of aircraft types and role, but theEuropean members were not prepared to accept this, and thus they were included in the treaty. Therethen followed problems over certain forces which the Soviets re-designated as "naval" units thusremoving them from the treaty. Rather than a malevolent move, this was perceived as being an attemptto squeeze every concession possible from the treaty, and in 1991, after the treaty was signed the Sovietambassador announced a resolution to the problem (6)By limiting equipment in geographical regions, along with stringent verification procedures,and an element of disarmament (the level of which has been a source of disagreement betweenobservers/participants), the agreement provides for the security of all the participants, prompting oneobserver to note that, "in many ways the CFE treaty is a combined peace treaty for WW II and for thecold war" (7)Since the original treaty, 33% of surplus equipment has been destroyed, and an agreementconcluded on manpower, through the CFE-1A talks. The problem faced by the CFE has been a simpleone. The treaty was designed to provide security between confrontational blocs, not several states.The key role of the CFE-HLWG has been to incorporate the states formed in the dissolution of theSoviet Union. the first HLWG meeting, concluded with a statement to the effect, "that Treatyobligations assumed by the former Soviet Union should be wholly accounted for by all the newlyindependent states in the area of application and apportioned among them" (8)A further complication arose in September 1993, when Boris Yeltsin formally requested asuspension of Article V of the Treaty, regarding the limitations imposed on military deploymentswithin the flank zone in Russia. This move did not surprise the other signatories, as Russia hadsignificant amounts of hardware deployed around Ukraine and Belarus, where it was not needed, asopposed to the North Caucasus MD where there existed, "serious out-of-Europe risk, growth of separatism and fundamentalism, [which] call for a more effective military presence" (9) In conclusion,
Yeltsin also suggested that "Russia could be forced to take measures that wouldn't respond fully to thespirit of the treaty" (10)On a practical level, the destruction of excess equipment has proven quite difficult both in financial andtechnical terms for the East European states to achieve, for example, "the Azeris found the most practical way to get rid of antique Soviet tanks was to drive them into the Caspian sea" (11) Somecommentators speculate further as to whether or not they can achieve the 100% reductions specified by November 1995 (12) The table below lists the categories of equipment covered by CFE, the limits andthe scheduled reductions (13)
 Nov. 1990 22,092 28,408 18,604 5,332 1,573 76,009Post CFE 19,142 29,822 18,286 6,662 2,000 75,912Change
-2,950 +1,414 -318 +1,330 +427 -97WTO
  Nov. 1990 32,646 43,556 25,836 8,368 1,662 112,068Post CFE 20,000 30,000 20,000 6,800 2,000 78,800Change
-12,646 -13,556 -5,836 -1,568 +338 -33,268
Sufficiency 13,300 20,000 13,700 5,186 1,500
 The INF Treaty (14) solved a problem which had been the result of a previous arms control agreement,the SALT I Treaty. Part of the SALT provisions enabled, and proved a catalyst for the development of a new generation of more accurate, potent nuclear weaponry. The Soviet deployment of the mobile,highly accurate SS-20 missile proved of some concern to the NATO alliance who feared that thisdeployment would at best undermine deterrence, and at worst leave NATO vulnerable to a surprisedecapitation strike, aimed at the political leadership.The United States, keen to allay these fears planned to deploy at first neutron bombs -enhanced radiation weapons that killed people, but had `minimal` effects on property. However, theseweapons caused great public anxiety in Europe, and their withdrawal was forced, both from the publicconcern generated, and from political leaders, who realised that these weapons would undermine rather than reinforce deterrence. In response NATO adopted its `two-track` approach, whereby it woulddevelop the next generation INF, the Ground Launched Cruise Missile, whilst simultaneouslynegotiating with the Soviet Union limits on these future weapons, in return for reductions in the currentSoviet holdings of INF weaponry. Should these talks fail (a deadline of December 1983 was set), thenthe deployment of new US INF forces would go ahead (15)There then followed a period of turmoil in Europe as governments attempted to gain publicopinion for the deployment of these weapons, but somewhat ironically the depiction of the SS-20 threathad raised public anxiety about all nuclear weapons as opposed to merely Soviet ones. In 1981President Reagan announced the `zero-option` whereby NATO would not deploy any new INF if theUSSR eliminated all its older SS-4 and SS-5 missiles, and SS-20s in Europe, and Asia. Alexander Haig the then Secretary of State noted that this proposal was intended to "take the high ground in propaganda, without real expectation that the Soviet Union would ever accept this outcome" (16) Oneweek later, Premier Brezhnev made a counter-proposal involving staged reductions, West of the Urals. Negotiations started, but there was significant reluctance on the part of the US negotiators.President Reagan was against cancellation of the deployment of Pershing II which caused great concernto the Soviet Union, and this alone was enough to reduce the chances of any positive outcome.However, it could be suggested that one key event changed the attitude of the US, making them morewilling to negotiate constructively. After Europe had gained enough support for the stationing of thenew INF forces, the superpower summit at Reykjavik, Iceland saw the new Soviet premier Gorbachev,and Reagan come close to an accord without consulting the NATO allies. Gorbachev had come toIceland with concrete proposals to eliminate INF in order to reduce some of the burden on the Sovieteconomy, Reagan surprised at this, and the Soviet moves towards the US position virtually bargainedaway INF without European input. Prime Minister Thatcher apparently was furious to hear this, havingendured substantial domestic opposition to facilitate the deployment of cruise, and the update of thestrategic deterrent.

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