EU Strategy against Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction

Hampton Roads International Security Quarterly, October 15, 2004 | Go to article overview

EU Strategy against Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction


Introduction

1. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery such as ballistic missiles are a growing threat to international peace and security. While the international treaty regimes and export controls arrangements have slowed the spread of WMD and delivery systems, a number of states have sought or are seeking to develop such weapons. The risk that terrorists will acquire chemical, biological, radiological or fissile materials and their means of delivery adds a new critical dimension to this threat.

2. As the European Security Strategy makes clear, the European Union cannot ignore these dangers. WMD and missile proliferation puts at risk the security of our states, our peoples and our interests around the world. Meeting this challenge must be a central element in the EU's external action. The EU must act with resolve, using all instruments and policies at its disposal. Our objective is to prevent, deter, halt and, where possible, eliminate proliferation programmes of concern worldwide.

3. Non-proliferation, disarmament and arms control can make an essential contribution in the global fight against terrorism by reducing the risk of non state actors gaining access to weapons of mass destruction, radioactive materials, and means of delivery. We recall in this context the Council conclusions of 10 December 2001 on implications of the terrorist threat on the non-proliferation, disarmament, and arms control policy of the EU.

Chapter I

Proliferation of WMD and means of delivery is a growing threat to international peace and security

4. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery are a growing threat. Proliferation is driven by a small number of countries and non-state actors, but presents a real threat through the spread of technologies and information and because proliferating countries may help one another. These developments take place outside the current control regime.

5. Increasingly widespread proliferation of weapons of mass destruction increases the risk of their use by States (as shown by the Iran/Iraq conflict) and of their acquisition by terrorist groups who could conduct actions aimed at causing large-scale death and destruction.

6. Nuclear weapons proliferation: the Treaty on the Non- proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) must be preserved in its integrity. It has helped to slow and in some cases reverse the spread of military nuclear capability, but it has not been able to prevent it completely. The possession of nuclear weapons by States outside the NPT and non-compliance with the Treaty's provisions by states party to the Treaty, risk undermining non-proliferation and disarmament efforts.

7. Chemical Weapons Proliferation: A particular difficulty with verification and export control regimes is that the materials, equipment, and know-how are dual use. One way of assessing the level of risk is to see whether there is indigenous ability to produce chemical warfare (CW) agent precursors and to weaponise chemical warfare agents. In addition, several countries still possess large chemical weapons stockpiles that should be destroyed, as provided for in the Chemical Weapons Convention. The possible existence of chemical weapons in States not party to the Chemical Weapons Convention is also a matter of concern.

8. Biological weapons proliferation: although effective deployment of biological weapons requires specialised scientific knowledge including the acquisition of agents for effective dissemination, the potential for the misuse of the dual-use technology and knowledge is increasing as a result of rapid developments in the life sciences. Biological weapons are particularly difficult to defend against (due to their lack of signature). Moreover, the consequence of the use maybe difficult to contain depending on the agent used and whether humans, animals, or plants are the targets. …

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