Withdrawing from, or abandoning altogether, major arms control treaties would seriously damage the stability provided by international arms control regimes, warn MEPs.
In a report adopted on Tuesday, Committee on Foreign Affairs MEPs call for policies to move forward the reduction and elimination of all nuclear arsenals and create conditions to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons. The ongoing erosion of the global non-proliferation, disarmament and arms control architecture is, MEPs warn, being worsened by the rapid development of new and potentially destabilising technologies such as artificial intelligence-enabled weapon systems, hypersonic missiles, and drone technologies.
Withdrawal from major arms control treaties
In the committee’s report, which analyses challenges and prospects for multilateral arms control and disarmament regimes for weapons of mass destruction, MEPs express fears that withdrawal from major arms control treaties, or the lack of such treaties, would seriously damage the international arms control regimes that have provided certain stability for decades. This would also undermine relationships between nuclear-weapon states, they add. Strongly opposing to the use of weapons of mass destruction as a means to solve geopolitical disputes, MEPs call on all nuclear states to consider decreasing the role and the salience of nuclear weapons in their security concepts and doctrines. MEPs express their full support for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as one of the most universally accepted legally binding instruments. They call States Parties to the Treaty to do their utmost to contribute to a successful and ambitious outcome of the upcoming 10th Review Conference on the NPT, in its three pillars: disarmament, non-proliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The Foreign Affairs Committee stresses the need to ensure the EU plays a strong role in global rules-based non-proliferation efforts and arms control and disarmament architecture as well as preventing the use of any chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapon. It welcomes the EU’s significant continued financial contribution to these efforts.
Activities of North Korea, Iran, China
MEPs are in particular concerned about the continued nuclear and ballistic activities of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in violation of numerous UNSC Resolutions. They encourage the EU to continue its engagement in the dialogues to eliminate all weapons of mass destruction on the Korean peninsula. They also reaffirm their full support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as a key element of the global nuclear non-proliferation architecture, and the report welcomes the EU’s continued engagement with Iran on issues related to civil nuclear cooperation as well as calling on Iran to cease immediately its nuclear activities that violate the JCPOA. This should go hand-in-hand with the lifting of all nuclear-related sanctions, MEPs say. In the report, MEPs regret the withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) by the US and the Russian Federation following Russia’s persistent failure to comply with the treaty. MEPs are particularly concerned about possible re-emergence of ground-based intermediate-range missiles in the European theatre of operations, a new arms race, and re-militarisation in Europe. The report welcomes the commitment made by the US and Russia to continue working towards the achievement of their stated common goal of ensuring predictability in this strategic domain, and reducing the risks of armed conflict and the threat of nuclear war. MEPs are also concerned about the current modernisation and broadening of China’s nuclear arsenal, including hypersonic nuclear-capable missiles. They call on China to actively and in good faith engage in international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation negotiations.
The rapporteur Sven Mikser (S&D, ET) said: “Solid and comprehensive arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament architecture based on binding treaties and reinforced by a reliable and transparent verification mechanism is a key to maintaining peace and stability in the world. While this report voices concern over the ongoing erosion of some key components of this architecture, it is also an expression of the European Parliament’s conviction that the EU can and must play a leading role in weapons of mass destruction disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.” The report was adopted with 35 votes in favour, 7 against and 2 abstentions.