3-6 MAY 2010 - VISIT TO NEW YORK, NORFOLK AND WASHINGTON DC, UNITED STATES
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COMMITTEE (STC)
1. The future of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime depends, to a large extent, on the outcome of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, which took place in New York from 3-28 May. A delegation of ten members of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s Science and Technology Committee (STC), led by STC Chairman Michael Mates (United Kingdom) and ViceChairman Senator Pierre Claude Nolin (Canada), participated in the Opening Session of the Conference.
2. The meetings addressed key challenges facing the NPT, including strengthening the international safeguards system to curb nuclear proliferation, further steps to reduce existing nuclear arsenals, tackling cases of non-compliance, such as Iran’s nuclear programme, and promoting a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East. The NATO PA delegation had an opportunity to hear addresses by UN Secretary General Ban KI-Moon, Director General Yukiya Amano of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), US Secretary of State Hillary Linton, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton and other prominent international leaders.
3. It is possible that this year’s Conference will not repeat the failure of the previous Review Conference in 2005, mainly due to progress in the area of nuclear disarmament, namely the conclusion of the new START Treaty and the publication of the new U.S. Nuclear Posture Review. However, deep disagreements still remain between some of the Non-Aligned Movement countries, which object to the introduction of more intrusive international verification measures, and official nuclear weapon States, which are being accused of disarming too slowly. It remains to be seen if a compromise among the members of the NPT will be found before the conclusion of the Review Conference.
4. The delegation also had briefings on New York City security issues, highlighted by the recent terrorist bombing attempt in Times Square, and visited the NATO Allied Command Transformation (ACT) in Norfolk to discuss the Alliance’s transformation. The group also learnt about the threat of bioterrorism from experts in Washington D.C., at a roundtable organised by leading U.S. biotech company Emergent BioSolutions.
5. Before the beginning of the NPT Review Conference, the Assembly delegation had briefings at the Turkish Mission to the United Nations (UN) by Ambassador Ertu?rul Apakan, Dr. William Potter, Director of the James Martin Center for Non-proliferation Studies, and Col. Paul Van Der Heijden, NATO Military Liaison Officer to the UN.
6. Ambassador Apakan stressed that after the failure of the 2005 NPT Review Conference, the global nuclear non-proliferation regime is at a critical stage. He said that all three pillars of the NPT – nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and right to peaceful use of nuclear energy – were equally important and must be strengthened in a balanced manner. He hoped that the 2010 Review Conference will succeed in this task. The Ambassador particularly stressed the need to avoid the nuclear arms race in the Middle East and supported the proposal to establish a nuclear weapon-free zone in this region.
7. Dr. Potter said that there is a possibility that this Review Conference will go down in history as a success, but mainly because the failure of the 2005 Conference set the bar of success very low. The key factor that causes certain optimism is the change in a position of the United States, which is now saying “yes” to some ideas that the previous administration would have dismissed as unacceptable. However, the United States alone will not be capable of ensuring success; more significant contribution of other official nuclear weapon states will also be necessary. Dr. Potter also noted that member states are divided into a number of groups with different agendas and there is no strong bridge that could bring their positions closer towards a consensus, as was the case with the New Agenda Coalition at the 2000 NPT Review Conference. He suggested abandoning the backward-looking strategy (focusing on breaches of the NPT in the past) and avoiding naming names. Forward-looking strategy is the only option to reach consensus and to achieve tangible results at this Review Conference. The speaker also stressed that unless there is some creative proposal on the Middle East problem (e.g. appointing a UN special negotiator on resolution of regional issues), the Conference might fail.
8. Col. Van Der Heijden spoke about NATO-UN relations. He stressed that the amount of UN peacekeepers has risen considerably over the last several years, and most of the troops come from Asia and Africa. NATO nations are contributing fewer troops to UN missions. Therefore, the visibility of the Alliance within the UN is lower than the Allies tend to assume. However, the practical co-operation between the two organisations is increasing significantly, particularly due to a number of important issues that both NATO and the UN are facing: Kosovo, Afghanistan, piracy, etc.
9. The NATO PA delegation attended the Opening Session of the NPT Review Conference on 3 May at the UN Headquarters in New York. A number of influential international figures addressed the conference. Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary General, stressed that the NPT should remain the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. He suggested strengthening the regime by focusing on five benchmarks:
1. further progress on nuclear disarmament;
10. Yukiya Amano, Director General of the IAEA, said that IAEA inspectors were not in a position to confirm that Iran’s nuclear program is entirely peaceful.
11. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran said that the possession of nuclear weapons is “disgusting and shameful”. He criticised “certain nuclear weapon states” for the slow pace of nuclear disarmament and accused them of threatening to use such weapons against other countries, including Iran. The President of Iran said that the NPT regime is unfair as it does not guarantee the right to peaceful nuclear programmes to all member states. He also announced that Iran was prepared to endorse the fuel exchange deal.
12. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reaffirmed the commitment of the United States to the vision of the nuclear weapon-free world. The recently concluded new START treaty shows that the United States and Russia are taking “irreversible, transparent, verifiable steps to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in our arsenal”. The United States has also enhanced the transparency of its nuclear arsenal and reaffirmed its commitment not to use its nuclear weapons against countries that are in full compliance with the NPT. Mrs. Clinton also supported the idea of establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. She announced that the United States will commit additional $50 million over the next five years for a new IAEA Peaceful Uses Initiative.
13. On Iran, the US Secretary of State noted that it “has defied the UN Security Council and the IAEA, and placed the future of the non-proliferation regime in jeopardy.” She called on Iran to abandon its “efforts to divert and divide”, to be constructive and to comply with its international obligations.
14. On 4 May, members of the STC continued discussions on the future of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime with Ambassador Martin Ney, Deputy Permanent Representative of Germany to the UN. He stressed that the equation of 1968 (when the NPT was signed) is not there anymore: many developing countries are disappointed with the pace of nuclear disarmament and feel that they are being denied access to nuclear technology for peaceful programmes. The revitalisation of the regime should take place in all three of its pillars: disarmament (emphasising the notion of Global Zero); non-proliferation (universalisation of the Additional Protocol and other measures) and peaceful use (placing uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing facilities under multinational control). With regard to Iran, the Ambassador noted that a broader international response is needed: national sanctions alone will not be effective and will only result in Iran switching its partners. However, in order to induce Iran to abandon its ambiguous nuclear programme, one needs to offer the Iranian people a real choice and incentives – a blunt pressure on Iran will not work as the majority of the population support the government’s nuclear endeavours.
15. The NATO PA delegation also received a set of briefings on New York City security, organised by Michael Balboni, former Deputy Secretary for Public Safety for the State of New York. For security reasons, some sensitive and detailed information provided during these briefings is not on the record.
16. In his remarks, Mr. Balboni spoke about the recent incident, in which a terrorist attempted to set off a bomb in New York’s Times Square. The failure of this attempt is a manifestation of a high level of preparedness of the respective agencies and the people of New York for such threats. The evident increase of terrorist activities in recent years is disturbing as it is extremely difficult to deal with asymmetrical warfare. On the other hand, the Christmas Day and the Times Square bombing attempts show that terrorists are often not very skilled. Mr. Balboni emphasised the role of citizens, for instance, in the case of the Times Square incident, the vigilance of a street vendor.
17. Terry Hastings, Deputy Chief of Staff for the New York State Office of Homeland Security (OHS), discussed the role of OHS in preventing, protecting against and preparing for terrorist attacks and other hazards. He stressed that intelligence analysis and information-sharing is key to preventing incidents such as the Times Square bombing attempt. OHS also conducts counterterrorism training and exercises, including for WMD-related scenarios. OHS supports Operation Safeguard, designed to reach out to private sector communities to create a partnership and a better public awareness of potential terrorist indicators and suspicious activities within the State’s 16 Counter-Terrorism Zones. In terms of critical infrastructure protection, OHS conducts site visits to identified critical facilities in conjunction with federal, state and local partners, and the private sector owners/operators. The Office also assists with the development of protection plans and information-sharing efforts with relevant stakeholders. Mr. Hastings also discussed technological capabilities employed by Homeland Security officers.
18. General Patrick Murphy, Adjutant General of New York State, discussed the contribution of the New York State National Guard to the safety and security of the people of the State. With almost 20,000 members across the State, the New York National Guard assists various civil authorities domestically, and also contributes to American missions overseas. It has army, naval and air components. The National Guard operates under the Governor on a daily basis, but it also has federal jurisdiction. Its mission is to assist other agencies (e.g. police, fire department, airport security, etc. – 53 local, state and federal partners in total) when they need additional capabilities.
19. The New York National Guard has undergone significant transformation, moving from a stationary posture towards a more flexible and effective one. Members of its Joint Task Force Empire Shield are ready to assist civilian authorities on short notice. They also conduct patrols of airports or Pennsylvania Station and other mass transit hubs. The new strategy focuses on the most likely terrorist targets in the New York Metropolitan area, home to 19 million people. Gen. Murphy also described state-of-the-art technological capabilities that are at the disposal of the National Guard. He concluded that the State of New York is a model for other states’ respective agencies.
20. Ronald J. Masciana, Deputy Chief of the Office of Security at the Metropolitan Transportation Agency, discussed the existing vulnerabilities of the New York public transportation grid and the strategies employed by the Agency to address potential terrorist threats. He paid particular attention to the threat of bio terrorism and discussed technologies that are being used or developed to minimise this threat.
21. From New York, the NATO Parliamentarians travelled to Norfolk, Virginia, and visited the NATO Allied Command Transformation. On behalf of ACT, LGEN retired Jim Soligan, Deputy Chief of Staff, welcomed the delegation and, in his introductory remarks, emphasized the importance of co-operation with national parliamentarians.
22. Brigadier General Jose Demaria gave an ACT Command and Policy briefing. He stressed that the role of ACT is to lead NATO military transformation, to facilitate the development of costeffective technology solutions for NATO missions and to enhance the interoperability of NATO forces. It sees itself as the Alliance’s leading agent for change. ACT works in close cooperation with member states, non-governmental organizations, academia and industry. Various agencies and centres of excellence under the aegis of ACT are positioned across the Alliance.
23. ACT’s approach to military transformation is evolutionary, not revolutionary. In terms of capability development, ACT defines how future operations will be conducted and the capabilities they will need, and then helps nations to acquire – individually or collectively – these capabilities, to train and educate their troops for future operations, and to develop relevant military doctrines and standards. The goal of ACT is to incorporate short, medium and long-term capability development into an integrated conceptual framework. The development of mid-term capabilities (e.g. intelligence fusion, Network-Enabled Capabilities, command and control systems, etc.) is an area in which ACT brings greatest value to the Alliance.
24. ACT is contributing significantly to development of the Comprehensive Approach for the NATO mission in Afghanistan. It is working on an Action Plan identifying specific measures to make the Comprehensive Approach operational. ACT also helps nations to align their national defence planning with the goals of the Comprehensive Approach.
25. During the discussion with NATO Parliamentarians, Gen. Soligan and Gen. Demaria described the role of ACT in drafting the new NATO Strategic Concept. ACT provides advice as well as expert papers on specific issues such as space security, cyber defence, future command and control systems, etc. Gen. Soligan noted that identifying new challenges is only a first step – once politicians decide to include, for instance, energy security as part of the Alliance’s mandate, it is up to agencies such as ACT to develop what it really means in terms of capabilities and doctrine.
26. Major General Kjell Ove Skare discussed the highly acute problem of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) that are responsible for roughly 70% of Allied casualties in Afghanistan. ACT’s Counter-IED Integrated Project Team is working to reduce this threat to the troops. The IED threat will not go away anytime soon, and the main objective is to prepare the troops to deal with this threat. Apart from technological advances to detect IEDs better, intelligence sharing in order to enhance situational awareness is crucial. Also, co-operation with non-military law enforcement agencies and other civilian actors is indispensable. Multinational co-operation, including common funding of equipment and joint training, is fundamental to better protect against this threat. The role of parliamentarians in ensuring adequate funding, removing caveats and promoting international co-operation is of critical importance, particularly in the context of shrinking defence budgets across the Alliance. Unmanned and robotic technologies to detect and neutralize IEDs are too expensive for many Allies, so sharing capabilities and pooling resources among the Allies is key.
27. Major General Jaap Willemse discussed the involvement of ACT in the development of the NATO missile defence system. NATO is pursuing a two-track approach
28. Gen. Demaria also introduced one of the key projects of ACT in recent years – the Multiple Futures Project. The Multiple Futures describe four plausible worlds in 2030:
1. The Dark Side of Exclusivity (describes how globalisation, climate change, and the misallocation of resources significantly affect the capacity of states to maintain sovereignty);
29. While none of these futures will develop in a pure form exactly as described, they are a means to stimulate new insight and to help shift our focus from the urgent issues of today to the important issues of tomorrow. These futures present NATO with unprecedented opportunities to influence positively the future environment, and at the same time help ensure that the Alliance is agile and flexible enough to respond to the unpredictable and complex challenges the future will bring.
30. After the briefings at ACT, the Assembly delegation had the opportunity to visit the USS Carr, a multi-task frigate of the United States Navy.
31. On 6 May, the STC delegation had a series of briefings with experts on bioterrorism and biodefence in Washington DC. The briefings were organized by Emergent BioSolutions, a leading partner of the US Federal Government for developing, manufacturing, and supplying critical biodefence medical countermeasures.
32. In his introductory remarks, Fuad El-Hibri, Chairman of Emergent BioSolutions, said that as the world is becoming a smaller place, it also becomes more vulnerable to a bioterrorist threat. Developing medical countermeasures is critical for reducing the impact of a bio-attack. These countermeasures can be highly effective. Close government-industry partnership is extremely important: the government articulates the demand, attracting capital, talent and resources, while the private sector, as a more effective producer, actually develops the required capabilities in practice. Emergent BioSolutions is a good example of such a partnership: having acquired its main production facility from the state in Lansing, Michigan, the company received initial government support and was able to grow into an effective producer of quality products and a major supplier for the Department of Defense. The company‘s lead product is BioThrax, the only licensed vaccine for the prevention of anthrax disease. However, to fully protect the population against bio-attacks, a number of new countermeasures against every single pathogen need to be developed. According to Mr. El-Hibri, this objective is achievable within a decade, provided adequate government-industry partnership is fostered.
33. Daniel J. Abdun-Nabi, President and CEO, gave a corporate overview brief. He stressed that the key customer of the company is the government and its various agencies. He also noted that while anthrax is the most probable pathogen of choice for terrorists, other agents also require special attention, particularly tuberculosis. While it is not a man-made pathogen, tuberculosis represents a serious threat for our people and economies. Emergent BioSolutions is currently working on a tuberculosis vaccine.
34. The next speaker, H. James Saxton, former US Congressman, underscored the important role of legislators in raising the public awareness of the bioterrorist threat. Our societies and the political leadership must be vigilant and make sure that the necessary defense mechanisms are in place. Anthrax represents a particular threat as it is relatively easy to produce (instructions can be found in the internet) and to disseminate (e.g. in a subway system). Also, only small quantities of anthrax agents can have a devastating impact. In addition to medical countermeasures, such as vaccines developed by Emergent BioSolutions, it is also necessary to develop real-time sensors to detect deadly pathogens.
35. During the discussion, experts were asked why bio-attacks so far have been so rare and limited in their scope. The explanation might be related to the possibility that terrorist organizations are waiting for an opportune moment for a big strike in one of the Western capitals. If it happens, our societies will ask politicians what has been done to prevent such an attack and to prepare for it. Besides, if our nations are prepared and have sufficient stockpiles of countermeasures, terrorists would be discouraged from striking. Both NATO parliamentarians and the American participants admitted that the level of awareness in Europe is lower than in the US. Funding for biological countermeasures in Europe is limited, not least because of the prevailing view that governments overreacted (and overspent) to the swine flu outbreak last year. Nevertheless, the speakers urged European Allies to do more on accumulating adequate regional or national stockpiles of medical countermeasures.
36. Dr. Robert Kadlec, homeland security veteran, discussed the history and the current state of biological warfare. He stressed that there is mounting evidence of increased interest by terrorist organizations – such as Al Qaeda – in deadly pathogens, as well as in recruiting biologists. With globalization, the threat is becoming increasingly real. He described the efforts of the US Government in increasing the nation’s immunity to bio-attacks. He stressed that most of the necessary legislation is in place in America, and the government – both the current and the previous one – pays adequate attention to this issue. Dr. Kadlec stressed that immunization of all citizens is not realistic, but having at least some stockpile for the first responders and victims is an absolute necessity.
37. Dr. Tevi TROY, Visiting Senior Fellow of the Hudson Institute and former Deputy Director of the US Department of Health and Human Services, also stressed that in the US there is a bipartisan agreement on biodefense and this is one of top priorities for the government. In the wake of the 2001 anthrax attack on the Congress, the relevant legislation was adopted and the funding of research on countermeasures and diagnostics increased. Other nations are making progress as well: Dr. Troy mentioned several important projects in Turkey, Australia and Austria. However, the European Union could do more to make its bio industry more robust. NATO should also consider biodefence measures, even in the context of its Article 5 mission, because bioattacks could have a profound political, economic and physical affect on a stricken nation. The structures of the Alliance could be used to share information and to avoid unnecessary duplication of efforts. Other recommendations include closer co-operation of intelligence agencies; enhancing physical security of bio-research facilities; establishing a secure database of pathogens and countermeasures for the Allies; and stimulating investment.
38. Michael Rogers, member of the US House of Representatives, made the closing remarks, urging his European colleagues to support policies and measures designed to protect our societies from biological threats.