NATO's Deterrence and Defence Posture Review shows that consensus is not possible

Former IKV Pax Christi consultant and nuclear disarmament expert Laurens Hogebrink reflects in 10 talking points on NATO’s disappointing Deterrence and Defence Posture Review (DDPR) adopted on 20 May 2012 by NATO Summit in Chicago:

1. No serious attention for the DDPR in the Chicago Summit Declaration
Since the Lisbon Summit in November 2010, on both sides of the ocean the issues of the Deterrence and Defense Posture Review (DDPR) were discussed in numerous articles, reports, seminars, and also meetings with national delegations and NATO officials in Brussels. The discussion mainly focused on NATO’s future policy of ‘nuclear sharing’ , the proposals for withdrawing the remaining ca. 180 U.S. tactical nuclear weapons from Europe, and the issue of modernizing the B61 bombs. Still, only one of the 65 paragraphs of the Chicago Summit Declaration of 20 May 2012 is about the DDPR. It seems a conscious effort to play down the lack of consensus among the allies that in fact existed throughout the process since Lisbon.
2. No changes in posture announced 
The DDPR announces no change in NATO’s nuclear posture whatsoever. On the contrary, par. 8 says that “the Alliance’s nuclear force posture currently meets the criteria for an effective deterrence and defense posture.” And par. 31 concludes that “in the current circumstances, the existing mix of capabilities and the plans for their development are sound.” In other words, no need for change now. How many member states will cling to the words ‘currently’ and ‘current’?
3. Confusion about declaratory policy remains
Pressure from several member states to adjust NATO’s declaratory policy to the new policy of the U.S. and the U.K. has failed. There is only a recognition that the three nuclear powers have their own policies and will apply these to their own forces. This means that negative security assurances, in the case of the U.S and the U.K. offered to non-nuclear weapon states that comply with their NPT obligations, are national. Moreover, nuclear weapons assigned to NATO, or having a deterrent function of their own, fall under different regimes. Conclusion: France got its way, Germany and several other allies lost.
4. Green light for modernization of TNW
Par. 11 says: “Allies concerned (IE: the 27 members of the NPG, not France) will ensure that all components of NATO’s nuclear deterrent will remain safe, secure, and effective as long as NATO remains a nuclear alliance.” (emphasis added) In theory, this could apply to strategic weapons only, if TNW would be withdrawn, but in this context it is clearly a plea for modernising the B61 bombs currently also deployed in Europe.
5. Continued broadest possible nuclear sharing
Par. 12 commits the Alliance to ensuring “the broadest possible participation of Allies concerned (NOTE LH: again the NPG members, not France) in their nuclear sharing arrangements.” The only opening is the addition that this also applies “in case NATO were to decide to reduce its reliance on non-strategic nuclear weapons based in Europe.”
6. Little attention for arms control 
Reportedly, at the Strasbourg/Kehl Summit in 2009, the emphasis on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation was a hard-fought achievement, celebrated by Germany, the Netherlands and other allies and repeated many times in NATO statements. However, little of this remains in the Chicago Summit Declaration where it is hardly mentioned. And also in the DDPR text it is fully overshadowed by conventional and missile defence capability needs. The texts on arms control in par. 22 and 23 are meagre and even sceptical.
7. Nothing new in commitment to a world without nuclear weapons
NATO´s commitment to “creating the conditions” for a nuclear weapon free world is linked to the goals of the NPT. This is not new (it is how France wants it to be formulated), but by linking this commitment only to legal obligations that exist for more than four decades, NATO fails to recognize the new political dynamics since Obama’s Prague speech in 2009.
8. No specifics about transparency and confidence building
In earlier texts that were circulated, e.g. a ‘non-paper’ offered in April 2011 by 10 member states, specific proposals were introduced for increasing transparency and confidence between NATO and Russia. Apparently, these proposals were not agreeable for NATO Allies. Instead, developing ‘ideas’ is left to the NATO-Russia Council, which is largely dysfunctional.
9. Russian reciprocity as a condition for NATO reductions of TNW
Despite the warnings of many experts, NGO’s, churches and (mostly anonymous) officials, NATO reductions of TNW are made dependent of reciprocal steps by Russia, “taking into account the greater Russian stockpiles of non-strategic nuclear weapons stationed in the Euro-Atlantic area.” This is not new, but as not even the idea of negotiations is mentioned, it remains entirely unclear what kind of process is envisaged. Moreover, NATO has not even agreed what to expect from Russia: par. 27 leaves it to “the appropriate committees” to consider. No incentives are offered to Russia.
10. No arms control follow-up agreed
Par. 30 makes clear that the mandate of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Control and Disarmament Committee, that was created after Lisbon, will not be prolonged. Instead, another committee will be established with a mandate still to be agreed. Last time this took 8 months. Again, France got its way, Germany lost.
On the website of the German Foreign Ministry, foreign minister Westerwelle welcomed (not for the first time after a weak NATO meeting!) the progress that has been made in the direction of disarmament. “From now on, disarmament is a decisive pillar of NATO’s security strategy.” He also said that Chicago meant “good news” for proponents of a world with less nuclear weapons. To me, the warning by the World Council of Churches prior to Chicago that the DDPR, especially the condition of reciprocity, would be “a recipe for deadlock” seems more realistic. And seeing how the French objections to changing NATO’s nuclear posture have carried the day, one may ask the political question how long Europeans can expect Germany to save the EU while being discarded in NATO. How long can Germany accept that ‘consensus’ means that France wins and Germany looses? 
It is time to recognise that the DDPR, being so meager, shows that there is NO consensus possible about NATO’s TNW. Member states must start making their own decisions.
This article first appeared on the No Nukes website and is reproduced with the kind permission of the author