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HomeDOCUMENTSCommittee Meeting Summaries2010Sunday 14 November 2010 - Summary of the meeting of the Science and Technology Committee

Sunday 14 November 2010 - Summary of the meeting of the Science and Technology Committee

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Conference Room, Hotel of Deputies, the Sejm and Senate of the Republic of Poland, Warsaw, Poland

I.    Opening remarks

1.    The Chairman, Jan Arild Ellingsen (NO), Vice-Chairman and Acting Chairman, opened the meeting of the Science and Technology Committee and regretted that the Committee Chairman Michael Mates (UK) had decided to retire from his position in the British Parliament and hence would not be a member of NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA) any longer. Furthermore, he thanked the Polish delegation for their outstanding job in preparing the NATO PA Annual Session in Warsaw.

2.    Both, the draft Agenda [222 STC 10 E] and the Summary of the Meeting of the Science and Technology Committee held in Riga, Latvia, on Sunday 29 May 2010 [159 STC 10 E] were adopted unanimously.

3.    The Chairman explained the procedure for submitting amendments to the draft Resolution Partnering with Russia on WMD Security and Missile Defence [245 STC 10 E] by David Scott (US), General Rapporteur.

 

II.    Presentation by H.E. Ambassador Jacek Bylica, Head of NATO WMD Non-Proliferation Centre on NATO’s Policies and Activities in the field of WMD Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation

4.    H.E. Ambassador Jacek Bylica began by discussing the current policies in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Facing a new security environment, NATO adopted a Comprehensive, Strategic-Level Policy for Preventing the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and Defending against Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Threats in 2009. Its four major messages were the following: first, the Alliance would not seek anymore to solely protect its forces, but also its territories and populations against WMD and CBRN threats. Second, the policy addressed the three dimensions of prevention, protection and preparedness for recovery should the Alliance suffer a WMD attack or a CBRN event. Third, the so-called Comprehensive Approach was a political, civilian and military one. Finally, the paper would stress the importance of reaching out to formal or informal partner countries and, hence, would treat these issues as joint common threats.

5.    In terms of practical co-operation in the field of WMD arms control, disarmament and non‑proliferation, the Ambassador pointed at NATO’s WMD Non-Proliferation Centre’s annual conferences (the last one was held in May 2010 in Prague, the next one would be held in Bergen in June 2011) and the last CBRN Workshop with participants from various NATO member and non-member states. Currently, the Centre plans to organize a workshop on the role of parliaments in the field of WMD arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation together with the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF).

6.    Finally, when talking about NATO’s future nuclear policy, M. Bylica suggested that the Alliance  would probably take a middle approach between continuity with nuclear deterrence due to enduring uncertainty of the international environment, and change due to the Global Zero “Zeitgeist”, the fact that terrorists could not be deterred by nuclear weapons and the financial crisis. While embracing the long-term goal of Nuclear Zero, the NATO would remain a nuclear alliance as long as other countries possess nuclear weapons. The crucial challenge would be to define the appropriate mix between nuclear forces, conventional forces and missile defences.

7.    After the presentation, a British delegate asked about the new Russia  ’s Nuclear Doctrine. The speaker said that official statements accompanying the publication of this doctrine seem to have suggested the lowering of the threshold of the use of nuclear weapons. Ambassador Bylica also noted that Russia had a considerably supremacy vis-à-vis NATO in terms of tactical nuclear weapons deployed in Europe. Furthermore, the problems arising from growing energy production based on nuclear technology and the difficulty to discern military from civilian use of nuclear material and facilities were discussed.

 

III.    Presentation by Lukasz Kulesa, Deputy Director, Strategic Analyses Department, National Security Bureau, on Missile Defense: A View from Poland

8.    In the beginning, M. Kulesa explained the difference between the “old” and the “new” US missile defence (MD) plans for Europe. While the plan of the Bush Administration was based on a silo-based interceptor base in Poland and an X-Band Tracking Radar in the Czech Republic, the one proposed by the Obama Administration is a phased adaptive approach with emphasis on the protection against short range, medium range and intermediate range ballistic missiles, relying predominantly on sea-based capabilities. Possible scenarios for its use could be to defend against hostile missile launches coming from the Middle East as well as against accidental launches. The overall idea would be that all Allies could plug into the US system easily. NATO’s Secretary General was a stout supporter of this idea and it would be up to the New Strategic Concept to make MD a core mission for the Alliance.

9.    M. Kulesa suggested that MD could become a “new glue” for the Alliance  , although some caveats that would need to be taken into consideration: First, MD would only be one among several elements addressing NATO’s threat spectrum. Second, it could create the illusion that NATO’s territories were a 100 percent protected by MD, which would never be the case. Third, although the probability of a retaliatory strike by the Alliance would be improbable, nuclear deterrence would still need to be at NATO’s disposal. Fourth, several related issues had to be addressed, e.g. that the command and control system would need to be based on predetermined scenarios and MD would remain flexible according to the nature of the threat.

10.    The current US  proposal, M. Kulesa explained, was directed against medium and intermediate range missiles, which Russia does not possess according to the INF (Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces) treaty. Although Russia ’s position towards MD plans for Europe remained ambiguous, Russian participation in common MD would bring political advantages. While joint NATO-Russian command and control system was hardly feasible, data exchange as well as consultation on the development of the MD systems would be realistic.

11.    The Chairman asked M. Kulesa how the Polish people would perceive a prospective MD shield. He responded that the earlier MD proposal – widely perceived as more controversial – enjoyed the support of roughly 1/3 of the Polish population. The public support has increased, however, in the wake of the armed conflict between Russia  and Georgia in August 2008. MD if still widely supported in Poland as it is regarded as a manifestation of the Article 5 commitment. A Turkish delegate asked about the reliability of the proposed system in terms of an interception success rate of MD tests. M. Kulesa said that SM-3 missiles – the cornerstone of the phase‑adaptive approach – have a satisfactory performance record in tests. Nevertheless, the US Missile Defense Agency still has much work to do to ensure the reliability of its MD capabilities in tests that resemble combat situations as realistically as possible.

12.    A Russian delegate noted that Russia  would welcome an explicit reassurance that that Europe’s MD system would not be directed against Russia. M. Kulesa answered that the proposed system is tailored to in a manner that make it inefficient against Russia ’s nuclear forces. Any substantial modification would not be unnoticed. Asked about the remarkable change in perception of the two MD proposals (by President Bush and President Obama), M. Kulesa replied that while the general political relationship between the West and Russia has improved, the principal reason for this difference in perception lies in different technical characteristics of the two proposals: the phase adaptive approach clearly focuses on threats originating in the Middle East.

 

IV.    Consideration of the Draft General Report Nuclear/WMD Proliferation and Missile Defence: Forging a Strategic Partnership with Russia  [223 STC 10 E] by David Scott (United States ), General Rapporteur

13.    M. Scott introduced the draft General Report by presenting its main idea: a genuine partnership between NATO and Russia  in well-proven areas of co-operation such as nuclear security and disarmament. The Alliance should take a pragmatic approach instead of relying on grand projects. However, the notion of Global Zero could well serve as a long-term vision.

14.    Furthermore, the co-operation framework could also include biological and chemical security as well as missile non-proliferation and missile defense. Building up MD systems would not contradict the vision of Global Zero, M. Scott pointed out. It would be a second line of defence as long as the non-proliferation system was not robust enough and not every nation would seriously engage on the path down to Global Zero.

15.    Finally, the General Rapporteur presented the updates that were made to the draft report since the Spring Session in Riga, e.g. on the ratification of the New START by the US Senate and the Russian Duma or the new round of sanctions against Iran. 

16.    A Lithuanian delegate questioned the prospect of NATO-Russian co-operation without the same base of values. A member from Poland  also raised doubts about Russia ’s intentions, particularly in the light of Russia ’s new military doctrine. A Russian delegate believed that the people of Russia essentially share the same values as other European, and the Rapporteur pointed out that one does not need to agree on precisely the same values to move forward in the field of WMD non-proliferation, disarmament and missile defense.

17.    Furthermore, a Lithuanian delegate called into question the feasibility of Global Zero. A Russian delegate noted that the concept of Global Zero should not be regarded as absolutist and immovable. For instance, he argued that nuclear weapons might be used to destroy large asteroid that could collide with the Earth. A German delegate doubted that development of missile defence systems, that will never be completely reliable, could actually contribute to the Global Zero vision. In his response, the Rapporteur reiterated his position that a long-term vision was indispensable for co‑operation and the success of the New START would constitute an important step forward. Co‑operation on the basis of trust and verification would be the key. The Chairman has suggested including a paragraph on disarmament verification and confidence building measures and gave an example of the 2007 UK-Norwegian agreement in this area. The Rapporteur agreed to make respective amendments in his report.

18.    The draft General Report on Nuclear/WMD Proliferation and Missile Defence: Forging a Strategic Partnership with Russia [223 STC 10 E] was adopted with minor changes.

 

V.    Presentation by Avi Schnurr, President, The Electric Infrastructure Security (EIS) Council, on Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) and related risks to Critical Infrastructures

19.    Avi Schnurr informed the Committee Members about a potentially immense, but not yet sufficiently acknowledged threat posed by Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) strikes. They could either occur in a natural way in the form of solar flares or by nuclear detonations above the atmosphere. EMPs could cause major electronic blackouts with immeasurable damage to country’s electronic grids with severe consequences for their extremely vulnerable infrastructure (computers, financial systems, etc.). M. Schnurr suggested that electricity could be out for months or years because the grid would need to be assembled completely anew since its components would melt.

20.    On the positive side, many studies on that phenomenon had been conducted in the recent years by US official bodies, and the dangers were now better understood and preventable by upgrading and protecting national electric grids. On the political level awareness of electric infrastructure security had risen and an inaugural summit was taking place in London  in September 2010 to set up a new security framework for the US and Europe.

21.    Having been asked if the urgency of the EMP threat was well understood, M. Schnurr answered that it would be a relatively new subject and democracies would usually tend to respond only after being hit by a catastrophe and not in advance. However, the potential damage of a severe EMP strike was too significant to ignore preventive measures, M. Schnurr warned.

 

VI.    Consideration of the Draft Report of the Sub-Committee on Energy And Environmental Security: A Sustainable Energy Strategy for the Alliance  [224 STCEES 10 E] by Philippe Vitel (France ), Rapporteur

22.    Philippe Vitel (FR) introduced the major tenets of the Sub-Committee’s report. As energy security constituted a contended topic within the Alliance, it would be necessary to put it higher on NATO’s agenda and include it in the new Strategic Concept. The linkage between energy and security is undeniable, as most recently demonstrated by the agreement between the Russian Federation and Ukraine which included gas prices and the extension of the Russian naval presence in Crimea in the same package. The energy vulnerability of some of the Allies, whether genuine or imagined, has very real implications on their foreign and security policies as well as on broader geopolitical climate NATO finds itself in. While NATO should not be involved in energy supply negotiations, it could serve as an important venue to promote the principle of solidarity which could translate into specific actions on a national or EU level. The discussion, exchange of views and joint statements within NATO on energy security are extremely valuable, even if they do not lead to specific NATO policies.

23.    The Rapporteur underscored the importance of linking environmental issues and “green” energy production to this topic. From a strategic point of view, M. Vitel said, this would make NATO member countries less dependent on external energy supplies. He called for the reformation of our energy and environment policies based on energy efficiency and the development of environmental-friendly sources of energy. Subsequently, Committee members discussed the issues of protecting energy infrastructure and the link between conflicts, poverty and energy supply.

24.    The draft report on A sustainable Energy Strategy for the Alliance  [224 STCEES 10 E] was adopted with minor changes.

 

VII.    Consideration of the Draft Special Report Climate Change: Post-Copenhagen Challenges [225 STC 10 E] by Pierre Claude Nolin (Canada ), Special Rapporteur, Presented by Andrzej Galazewski (Poland ), Vice-Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Energy and Environmental Security

25.    Andrzej Galazewski (PL) introduced the report by referring to the wake-up call caused by the heat-induced wildfires in Russia this summer to underline the importance of discussing climate change issues in the Committee. He called for an international discussion that was disassociated from emotions, bias and single events. Instead, it should be conducted in an objective and science‑based manner, which would add to broader public and political support.

26.    However, the necessity to contain the consequences of climate change, M. Galazewski said, would come at an inopportune time. The global economic and financial crisis and the lack of political will by some countries would constitute obstacles to further progress in this field. The report, based on the results of the 2007 IPCC Report among other sources, assessed the Copenhagen Conference and the prospects for a future Post-Kyoto treaty with legally binding emission reduction targets. There is a long list of obstacles that render reaching an international and legally binding climate treaty in 2010 an almost impossible task. Other avenues, such as national, regional or more targeted programmes need to be explored. That said, the report urges to keep pushing for a post-Kyoto treaty. It is important to keep this objective on the agenda because the process of negotiations is valuable in itself. It could help to achieve at least some tangible progress in specific areas, such as clarifying the functioning of specific mechanisms dealing with financial support, technology transfer, national progress verification, and deforestation.

27.    M. Galazewski ended his speech by underlining the potential of NATO member states to lead in the field of emission reduction, particularly in regards of the European’s commitment to reduce them by 30% by 2020. In the subsequent discussion, the Turkish members expressed their disappointment in the results of the Copenhagen Summit and believed that the report should not have focused on it. However, the British, American, French and Canadian delegates suggested that the analysis of failures was necessary and that the draft report assessed the Copenhagen  results and offered options for the future in an objective and balanced manner.

28.    The draft Special Report on Climate Change: Post-Copenhagen Challenges [225 STC 10 E] was unanimously adopted without modification.

 

VIII.    Consideration of Amendments and vote on the Draft Resolution Partnering with Russia on WMD Security and Missile Defence [245 STC 10 E] by David Scott (United States ), General Rapporteur

29.    General Rapporteur David Scott introduced briefly the Resolution on Partnering with Russia  on WMD Security and Missile Defence. The Committee considered the draft report and discussed several amendments submitted by the Polish, Turkish, Lithuanian, Russian and Norwegian delegates. The majority of amendments were acceptable to the Committee.

30.    The draft Resolution Partnering with Russia on WMD Security and Missile Defence [245 STC 10 E], as amended, was adopted.

 

IX.    Election of Committee and Sub-Committee Officers

31.    The Chairman announced the procedure for election of Committee and Sub-Committee Officers for 2010-2011. All re-eligible Committee and Sub-Committee Officers were re-elected

32.  The following candidates were elected by acclamation:

Science and Technology Committee

Chairman:           Jan Arild Ellingsen (NO)

Vice Chairpersons:        Andrezej Galazewski (PL) and  Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale (UK )

 

Sub-Committee on Energy and Environmental Security

Vice-Chairperson          Luisa Salgueiro (PT)

 

Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council

Full members          Jan Arild Ellingsen (NO) and Mario Tagarinski (BG)

Alternate member        Philippe Vitel (FR)

 

X.    Committee’s and Sub-Committee’s activities in 2011

33.    The Sub-Committee Chairman Mario Tagarinski spoke briefly about the Sub-Committee the visits to Kyiv and Chernobyl  (Ukraine ) in July and France in September. In 2011, the Committee plans to visit Germany, while the Sub-Committee on Energy and Environmental Security intends to visit Canada and to participate in a joint four-Committee meeting in London in September 2011.

34.    The up-coming general report will address how to counter threats posed by biological and chemical substances, the Sub-Committee will prepare a report on the nexus between water, food and security, and the Special Rapporteur will prepare a report on military technology in counterinsurgency operations.

 

XI.    Any other business, date and place of next meeting, closing remarks 

35.    The Committee was closed until its next meeting in Varna  , Bulgaria, in May 2011.

 

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