NATO Chief Says Ukraine Events May Affect European Tactical Nuclear Reductions

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen speaks at the Brookings Institution in Washington on Wednesday. The alliance head said proposals for nuclear arms control in Europe could be affected by Russia's annexation of Crimea.
National Journal
Rachel Oswald
March 20, 2014, 10:16 a.m.

The head of NATO says Rus­sia’s in­cur­sion in­to Ukraine may af­fect the pro­spects for nuc­le­ar arms con­trol in Europe, which already faced polit­ic­al chal­lenges.

“Of course I can­not ex­clude that the events we have wit­nessed in Crimea will also have an im­pact on the think­ing about arms con­trol, in­clud­ing nuc­le­ar policies,” NATO Sec­ret­ary Gen­er­al An­ders Fogh Rasmussen said in Wed­nes­day re­marks at the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion in Wash­ing­ton.

The al­li­ance lead­er did not say wheth­er he was re­fer­ring to po­ten­tial changes in NATO’s or Rus­sia’s po­s­i­tions on the po­ten­tial for pull-backs of tac­tic­al nuc­le­ar arms in Europe, or both.

Even be­fore the events this month in east­ern Ukraine, the in­creas­ingly frosty re­la­tion­ship between Mo­scow and Wash­ing­ton had dampened pro­spects for a new round of bi­lat­er­al arms re­duc­tions that might in­clude U.S. non­stra­tegic nuc­le­ar weapons ded­ic­ated to NATO de­fense.

The Krem­lin has shown little in­terest, in par­tic­u­lar, in re­deploy­ing or elim­in­at­ing its es­tim­ated 2,000 tac­tic­al nuc­le­ar arms with ranges that can reach European soil. By con­trast, the United States fields ap­prox­im­ately one-tenth of that size non-stra­tegic atom­ic ar­sen­al in a hand­ful of al­lied na­tions in Europe, in­stead re­ly­ing more on NATO’s su­per­i­or con­ven­tion­al ca­pa­city for de­fense.

Rus­sia mil­it­ary oc­cu­pa­tion of Crimea and sub­sequent an­nex­a­tion of the ter­rit­ory over the loud protests of Kiev has dis­turbed NATO to a de­gree not seen since the Cold War. The events of the past few weeks have triggered a sig­ni­fic­ant re­think of the role of the West­ern al­li­ance in de­ter­ring Rus­si­an mil­it­ary activ­ity in East­ern and Cent­ral Europe.

The 28-mem­ber de­fense al­li­ance at its last sum­mit in 2012 in Chica­go re­af­firmed that nuc­le­ar arms were a key tool for de­ter­ring would-be ag­gressors. NATO na­tions also said they would work to “cre­ate the con­di­tions” ne­ces­sary for fur­ther cuts to the tac­tic­al nuc­le­ar arms com­mit­ted to NATO.

“We shouldn’t be na­ive,” Rasmussen said on the sub­ject of European nuc­le­ar arms con­trol. “While we will work to­wards a re­duc­tion in the num­ber of nuc­le­ar weapons, we also need more trans­par­ency and we need to re­duce in a bal­anced man­ner” with Rus­sia.

On the sub­ject of NATO mis­sile de­fense, the sec­ret­ary gen­er­al said he un­der­stands that a U.S. plan to de­ploy ad­vanced mis­sile in­ter­cept­ors in Ro­mania in 2015 and Po­land in 2018 re­mains on track. A con­gres­sion­al re­port pub­lished last week raised doubts about that timeline.

“Ac­cord­ing to all in­form­a­tion I have got, there won’t be any change of the timetable as re­gards the de­vel­op­ment of the NATO mis­sile de­fense sys­tem, in­clud­ing the es­tab­lish­ment of fa­cil­it­ies in Ro­mania and Po­land,” Rasmussen said. “The timeline is that we in­tend to provide full cov­er­age by 2018, and so far I haven’t seen any in­dic­a­tions of changes in that plan.”

NATO says the mis­sile shield it is con­struct­ing with con­sid­er­able sup­port from the United States is fo­cused on de­ter­ring at­tacks from the Middle East. Wash­ing­ton has in­sisted that Mo­scow is wrong in as­sert­ing the sys­tem would have any ca­pa­city to block its ar­sen­al of stra­tegic mis­siles. 

However, some NATO mem­bers such as Po­land view the pres­ence of U.S. and al­lied an­ti­mis­sile sys­tems on their ter­rit­ory as at least sym­bol­ic­ally im­port­ant as a de­terrence sig­nal.

What We're Following See More »
WARRING FACTIONS?
Freedom Caucus Members May Bolt the RSC
44 minutes ago
WHY WE CARE

The Republican Study Committee may lose several members of the House Freedom Caucus next year, "potentially creating a split between two influential groups of House conservatives." The Freedom Caucus was founded at the inception of the current Congress by members who felt that the conservative RSC had gotten too cozy with leadership, "and its roughly 40 members have long clashed with the RSC over what tactics to use when pushing for conservative legislation." As many as 20 members may not join the RSC for the new Congress next year.

Source:
SOME THERAPIES ALREADY IN TRIALS
FDA Approves Emergency Zika Test
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday issued emergency authorization for a Zika diagnostics test from Swiss drugmaker Roche, skirting normal approval channels as the regulator moves to fight the disease's spread." Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that a new study in Nature identifies "about a dozen substances" that could "suppress the pathogen's replication." Some of them are already in clinical trials.

Source:
MONEY HAS BEEN PAID BACK
Medicare Advantage Plans Overcharged Government
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

According to 37 newly released audits, "some private Medicare plans overcharged the government for the majority of elderly patients they treated." A number of Medicare Advantage plans overstated "the severity of medical conditions like diabetes and depression." The money has since been paid back, though some plans are appealing the federal audits.

Source:
DESPITE CONSERVATIVE OBJECTIONS
Omnibus Spending Bill Likely Getting a Lame-Duck Vote
3 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

"GOP leaders and House Democrats are already laying the groundwork for a short-term continuing resolution" on the budget this fall "that will set up a vote on a catch-all spending bill right before the holidays." As usual, however, the House Freedom Caucus may throw a wrench in Speaker Paul Ryan's gears. The conservative bloc doesn't appear willing to accept any CR that doesn't fund the government into 2017.

Source:
FBI WARNS STATES
Foreign Agents Have Hacked State Voting Databases
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The FBI has uncovered evidence that foreign hackers penetrated two state election databases in recent weeks, prompting the bureau to warn election officials across the country to take new steps to enhance the security of their computer systems." Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson earlier this month conferred with state election officials, offering his department's assistance in scanning for vulnerabilities."

Source:
×