27th May 2006 – SUMMARY of the meeting of the Science and Technology Committee, Paris Hall, Palais des Congrès, Paris, France
Brigadier General Philippe Lefort, Chief of Equipment and Capacity Division, Joint Defence Staff, French Ministry of Defence.
1. Michael Mates (UK) started the meeting by welcoming the delegates and giving a few introductory remarks. The members adopted the draft Agenda and the Summary of the Committee meeting in Copenhagen.
A. Consideration of the draft General Report Pursuing Interoperability: the Need for Transatlantic Technological Cohesion, by Pierre Claude Nolin (CA), General Rapporteur
2. In his presentation, the General Rapporteur emphasized that in order to achieve full interoperability of Allied forces in the Information Age, the challenge of net-centricity should be taken into account. While it is crucial to continue to implement the Prague Capability Commitments and to procure strategic lift, air-to-air refuelling, force protection and precision strike assets, it is also vitally important that NATO nations develop network-centric C4ISTAR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance) capabilities as well as the overarching NATO-wide architecture with common protocols and interfaces, wherein all allies could 'plug-and-play' seamlessly and in real time. Without proper attention to network-centric programmes, Mr Nolin asserted, the transatlantic capability gap is likely to increase. The General Rapporteur called for more flexible transatlantic technology transfer and information sharing policies. The leaders of the United States, he said, have to make a strategic choice: would U.S. national interests be better guarded by providing advanced military technology to Allies, thus achieving greater burden sharing through interoperability, or should the U.S. keep these technologies and rely solely on its overwhelmingly superior technology to win future wars and conflicts without the substantial help of Allies.
3. Jérôme Rivière (FR) thanked Mr Nolin for his presentation and proceeded to give an illustration of the issues faced by the Alliance in reference to the friendly competition in military-industrial relations between the United States and Europe. Mr Rivière said that Mr Nolin forgot to mention the Rafael European jet fighter project. He asserted that by offering the JSF project as a business venture, the U.S. has 'held Europe hostage' by impeding EU countries from developing military technologies. This is, he believed, not a sharing of technology but a kidnapping of research efforts. He asked if, given this situation, Europe will be in a position to develop aircraft 25 years from now. Mr Rivière also noted that European defence budgets are limited specifically in reference to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). He emphasized the need to support multinational projects such as the EuroMALE. Mr Rivière also suggested to be careful in comparisons of UAV systems because the systems were different.
4. Mr Nolin replied that he does not intend to portray an idealized world. The General Rapporteur tried to express real concern on this issue in anticipation of the next NATO Summit. The purpose of the report is to create awareness. There are industrial struggles, he remarked, and the delegates will have to deal with them unless leaders affirm that geopolitical reality is more important than industrial reality.
5. Baroness Ramsey of Cartvale (UK) expressed her congratulations for a good report and mentioned three general points. Technology, she noted, only supports the 'human effort' that is key to shaping the reactions of peoples in armed conflict. Secondly, interoperability comes from meeting standards and emphasizing quality over quantity. The real danger is the risk of a 'two tier' alliance that will result unless all nations build their own alliance-compatible networks. Avoiding this 'two tier' structure is the highest priority of NATO transformation. Finally, paragraph 31 of the report states that the Galileo system will be interoperable with the American GPS and Russian Glonass systems. The Baroness wanted to make clear that Galileo is a civilian system and she suggested amending the report to read that the "open services of Galileo" are expected to be interoperable with the "open services" of other systems.
6. Mr Nolin responded by agreeing that the human factor is of primary importance. At the same time, technology gives us the capacity to make decisions faster than human interaction would allow. He also agreed that the delegates must avoid a 'two-tier' NATO.
7. Lothar Ibrügger (DE) remarked that we have to look at the report's conclusion with our budgets and long-term priorities in mind. Paragraph 63, he pointed out, states that it is critical that the U.S. facilitate the sharing of relevant technological capabilities. To be more effective politically, Mr Ibrügger urged that the delegates use the time before Quebec to talk to their national parliaments. He also suggested writing a letter to Defence Ministers of member States and to the NATO Secretary General that would advocate building up the political will to find a real approach for implementing the report's conclusions.
8. Mr Mates indicated his support of Mr Ibrügger's suggestion. Mr Nolin stated that he is already in contact with Foreign Affairs Ministries and the Department of Defence. He said that the Committee's research has given the members a good view of the problem. His concern is that the Heads of State at Riga will not just chat but push the envelope and do something.
9. After the discussions, a short film from Cisco Systems demonstrated the military advantages of asset networking on the battlefield. Following the film, Mr Mates noted that the Committee would soon visit Cisco Systems.
B. Presentation by Brigadier General Philippe Lefort and Colonel Gilbert Botella on France transformation and Networked operations
10. General Lefort began by noting that transformation has characterized the whole of the French approach to networked military capabilities for a number of years. Transformation, he said, involves improving capabilities through constant change and adaptation while developing interoperability with French partners. Objectives include developing essential concepts and using appropriate technologies in a way that allows concepts to drive technological developments, and not the other way round. In his vision, man is at the heart of the transformation process and the end result is that the military can react to events more quickly. This requires that everyone be on the same wavelength in a way that entails significant organizational adaptation.
11. Transformation, General Lefort continued, rests one three pillars: consistency in organization and the command chain, the organization of new capabilities, and adapting human resources efficiently. In this effort, the properly trained and motivated soldier is at the heart of the action. A 'networked' operation entails reaching a decision concerning the objective. This must be an informed decision and the decision loop has to be very short while maintaining a willingness to use fair force and adjusted force. The General then gave a PowerPoint presentation that laid out the mechanics of the French process of military transformation.
12. Teresa Riera Madurell (European Parliament) found the first pillar most interesting, but she noted that however well trained and experienced the personnel is, human mistakes still result. She remarked that organizational mistakes allow human mistakes to occur.
13. General Lefort responded by emphasizing the importance of man's role in the transformation process. The Operational and Technological Laboratory integrates all of the factors discussed here, including the human factor, and the architecture of the process is designed to minimalise human error at all levels of command. In addition, French training places importance on learning ethics. This learning allows men to avoid certain errors during operations. This is important because the smallest error can be taken up in the press. Because officer basic training does not include sufficient battlefield simulations, training in ethnics should allow our soldiers to avoid many errors.
C. The draft Report of the Sub-Committee on the Proliferation of Military Technology on Nuclear Policy of Iran by Diana Štrofová (SK)
14. Mrs Štrofová presented her draft Report on the Nuclear Policy of Iran. She stressed that after years of negotiations, inspections and interim agreements, the year of 2006 has to become the year of decisions. Yet it is essential that these decisions are based on sound understanding of the technical side of the issue, i.e., decision-makers should know exactly what capabilities Iran is developing, what are the chances of converting these capabilities to produce nuclear weapons, how much time it would take, etc. Therefore, the main objective of the Report was to provide overview of different components of Iran's nuclear programme and to try to assess risks stemming from this programme. She concluded that Iran is evidently trying to develop every single element of the nuclear fuel cycle. Most experts agree that from a technological standpoint, Iran will reach nuclear weapons production capability within the next several years. Therefore, the Rapporteur believes that the international community still has time to find a diplomatic solution.
15. Cristian Valeriu Buzea (RO) enquired what role NATO could play in diffusing this crisis, taking into consideration the efforts already undertaken by the international community. In response, Mrs Štrofová stressed that NATO needs to take this issue seriously and support the international initiatives such as the "Russian proposal". The Chairman of the Committee added by saying that the NATO Parliamentary Assembly has a role to play in diplomacy and can therefore be an asset as well.
16. Barbara Haering (CH) pointed out the joint interest in the escalation and acknowledged that Iran has to be stopped in its intentions. She claimed this crisis isolates Iran not only politically, but also economically and scientifically pointing out that international research and development efforts have stopped within Iran. She argued to make it clear to Iran that it could not become a high-tech country with such policies.
17. Mr Rivière stated that the crisis all started with a lie, breach of international treaties and there is the "destroy Israel" rhetoric by the Iranian president. He further went on to say that such behavior makes the problem very acute.
18. Bato-Zhargal Zhambalnimbuev (RU) commented on paragraph 24 of the Report, referring to the Bushehr reactor being built by Russian aid. He underlined that the U.S. planned to do the same for North Korea. He further stressed that the Bushehr reactor poses no threat to the NPT, the Russian proposal is still valid, ongoing and that Russia has a clear understanding of what should be done.
19. Mrs Riera said the report is in line with the views of the European Parliament (EP). She underlined the multilateral framework as essential to the solving of this crisis.
20. Danny Yatom (IL) acknowledged that the report is accurate and serves as a very good basis. He noted that Iran's missiles cover almost all of Europe, and the Shahab 3 covers Turkey and Russia. He drew attention to why do the Iranians want even longer-range missiles with ranges up to 4-5,000 km. He raised concern over the last sentence of the report stressing that there is no more time to engage in discussion, as the Israeli assessment is that Iran is now a few months away for the point of no return, the ability to progress without outside help. He concluded by saying that we need to start thinking decisively on sanctions.
21. Ana Maria Gomes (European Parliament) raised concern over the loss of time and advised to look back further in Iran's history to gain a better understanding of the victim complexity in the people. She underlined the need to push for direct talks between the U.S. and Iran.
D. Presentation on Iran's Nuclear Strategy by Professor Anoush Ehteshami
22. In his presentation, Prof. Ehteshami argued that in Iran, the nuclear debate tended to follow the pattern of debates established over Iran's place in the post-Cold War order. These debates cut across factional lines. One hears conservative elements making the argument against the possession of WMDs, while some reformers passionately argue in favor of developing a nuclear weapons option as Iran's right and a national security imperative. These debates do not seem to have reached a conclusive point in Iran, and the outcome will depend as much on the balance of power between the various factions and the nuclear schools of thought, as on how the West reacts to Iran's nuclear ambitions.
23. The Chairman started the discussion by asking whether if there is still time for a peaceful solution. Mr Ehteshami in response suggested that as there is militarization in Iran, the more pressure the West applies the worse the situation gets. Moderates fall out and hard liners get stronger, because the latter show a willingness to talk. There is also paranoia in Iran about loss of control of nuclear power. Mr Ehteshami opined that the West should ignite broad discussions by informing Iran's society about nuclear costs.
24. Referring to the future scenarios, Peter Viggers (UK) asked Mr Ehteshami to elaborate on the likelihood of Iran's withdrawal from nuclear programs, the so-called "Libya model". Mr Ehteshami assessed that Libya was feeling pressure from isolation and sanctions because of low oil prices. There was militant Islamism plus there were more incentives. It was a combination of elements that allowed progress. In the case of Iran, there is a major cushion by high oil prices, and Iran is not isolated plus they also have a public desire for nuclear power. Also, the West does not seem to offer enough incentives for Iran to consider.
25. Mr Buzea asked whether the international community could be more active in India, Pakistan and Israel in order to remove some tension from Iran. In his response Mr Ehteshami underlined that India and Pakistan being in the NPT would certainly be a positive step, also if we were to preach to Iran, then we should reduce our stockpiles of nuclear weapons. Mr Ehteshami claimed that Russia could take a very positive role in this regard. He concluded by stressing the problem that Iran sees India and Pakistan being rewarded for not being in the NPT, North Korea as being approached and Israel not even being on the agenda.
E. Consideration of the Draft Resolution on Nuclear Policy of Iran, presented by Mr Michael Mates, Chairman
26. Mr Mates presented the draft Resolution. He stressed that while it is not usual to adopt Resolution during spring sessions, the Assembly cannot remain mute on key topics such as current tensions over Iran. The text of the Resolution listed several concrete proposals designed to strengthen the global nuclear non-proliferation regime. Another important message of this Resolution was the insistence on diplomatic means to solve the crisis.
27. Guido Brignone (IT) raised a point of procedure, saying the Italian delegation believes the complexity of this problem makes it impossible to be addressed within this committee. He argued that the problem needs to be studied more in depth, with more precision. He stressed that we need consensus and unanimity on this issue.
28. Lord Jopling (UK) raised concern over Italy's stance, saying it is wrong not to want to move forward on the issue without a consensus. He underlined that we are democrats and believe in the rule of the majority. Mrs Riera acknowledged, in response to the Italian concern, that because there is a Resolution today, it doesn't mean that there can't be another next time. The Chairman further stressed that the worst message would be not do or say anything now. He also stressed that there is nothing against procedure in this Resolution and although unusual, it is proper.
29. Fourteen amendments were received from the U.S., Russian, Romanian and Polish delegations. Nine of them were accepted by the Committee. The draft Resolution, thus amended, was adopted unanimously.
Mr Mates then thanked the delegates and concluded the meeting.