Journal of Transatlantic Studies

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 105–122 | Cite as

‘A Train Collision in the Making’? the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Transatlantic Alliance

  • Terry Terriff
Part III: Strategic Issues and Alliance Cohesion


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  1. 1.
    On this point, see Terriff, ‘Fear and Loathing in NATO: The Atlantic Alliance after the Crisis over Iraq’, Special Issue of Perspectives on European Politics and Society, 4 (2004) pp. 419–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Quoted in Joseph Fitchett, ‘Washington’s Pursuit of Missile Defense Drives Wedge in NATO’, International Herald Tribune, February 15, 2000.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    The use of the term ‘European’ effectively includes Canada.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    ‘The Alliance’s Strategic Concept agreed by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council’, Rome, November 8, 1991, Art. 11.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Ibid., An. 49.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Quoted in Martin Sieff, ‘The Nuclear Bee-Sting Theory’, The National Interest, 21 (2003).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    John Lancaster, ‘Aspin Pledges New Military Efforts to Counter Weapons Proliferation’, Washington Post, December 8, 1993. On the internal origins, and debates, about the U.S. initiativeGoogle Scholar
  8. 7a.
    see Henry D. Sokolski, ‘Mission Impossible’, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist, 57 (2001) pp. 62–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    See ‘Aspin Emphasizes Missile Defense In Proliferation Approach’, Defense Daily, December 8, 1993, p. 347.Google Scholar
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    Natalie J. Goldberg, ‘Report: Skittish on counterproliferation’, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 50, (1994).Google Scholar
  11. 10.
    Declaration of the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council (‘The Brussels Summit Declaration’), Brussels, January 11, 1994, Art. 1.Google Scholar
  12. 11.
    For a more detailed discussion of the views of the European allies, see Robert Joseph, ‘Proliferation, Counter-Proliferation and NATO’, Survival, 38 (1996), pp. 117–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 12.
    Goldberg, ‘Report: Skittish on counterproliferation’.Google Scholar
  14. 13.
  15. 14.
    Joseph, ‘Proliferation, Counter-Proliferation and NATO’, pp. 117-18.Google Scholar
  16. 15.
    Declaration of the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council (‘The Brussels Summit Declaration’) Brussels, January 11, 1994, Art. 17.Google Scholar
  17. 16.
    See Aston B. Carter and David Omand, ‘Countering the proliferation risks: Adapting the Alliance to the new security environment’, NATO Review, 44 (1996), pp. 10–15.Google Scholar
  18. 17.
    Final Communiqué, Ministerial Meeting of the North Atlantic Council, Berlin, June 3, 1996, Press Communiqué M-NAC-1(96)63 Art. 7. See also, Final Communiqué, Meeting of the Defence Planning Committee in Ministerial Session, Brussels, June 13, 1996, M-DPC/NPG- 1(96)88, Art. 6.Google Scholar
  19. 18.
    Joachim Krause, ‘Proliferation Risks and their Strategic Relevance: What Role for NATO?’, Survival, 37 (1995), p. 135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 19.
    See, for example, Executive Summary of the Report of the Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States, July 15, 1998; National Intelligence Council, Foreign Missile Developments and the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States Through 2015, September 1999; and United States Commission on National Security/21 st Century, New World Coming: American Security in the 21st Century, Phase I Report on the Emerging Global Security Environment for the First Quarter of the 21st Century, September 15, 1999.Google Scholar
  21. 20.
    For a good example of the compelling nature of the arguments that the U.S. needed to defend itself from at least limited ballistic missile attacks, see Ivo H. Daalder, James M. Goldgeier, and James M. Lindsey, ‘Deploying NMD: Not Whether but How’, Survival, 42 (2000), pp. 6–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 21.
    See Elizabeth Becker, ‘Allies Fear U.S. Project May Renew Arms Race’, New York Times, November 20, 1999Google Scholar
  23. 21a.
    and Doug Struck, ‘Allies Signal Opposition to a U.S. Missile Shield’, International Herald Tribune, July 14, 2000.Google Scholar
  24. 22.
    Quoted in William Drozdiak, ‘Possible U.S. Missile Shield Alarms Europe: Allies Fear Arms Race, Diminished Security Ties’, Washington Post, November 6, 1999.Google Scholar
  25. 23.
    As French Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine reportedly observed following the July 2000 G8 meeting, ‘All those who voiced their concerns to the Americans have stressed the need not to be disproportionate between the threat and the destabilizing possibilities of a NMD program’. Quoted in Struck, ‘Allies Signal Opposition To a U.S. Missile Shield’. See also Becker, ‘Allies Fear U.S. Project May Renew Arms Race’.Google Scholar
  26. 24.
    Quoted in Becker, ‘Allies Fear U.S. Project May Renew Arms Race’Google Scholar
  27. 25.
    Quoted in Struck, ‘Allies Signal Opposition To a U.S. Missile Shield’.Google Scholar
  28. 26.
    Quoted in Fitchett, ‘Washington’s Pursuit of Missile Defense Drives Wedge in NATO’.Google Scholar
  29. 27.
    See Jim Garamone, ‘It’s Not “National” or “Theater”, It’s Just Missile Defense’, American Forces Press Service, March 9, 2001.Google Scholar
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    See Jim Garamone, ‘Rumsfeld Speaks on Missile Defense, Cooperation’, American Forces Press Service, February 5, 2001.Google Scholar
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    ‘In Bush’s Words: ‘Substantial Advantages of Intercepting Missiles Early’, New York Times, May 2, 2001.Google Scholar
  32. 30.
    Quoted in Associated Press, ‘World Wary About Bush Missile Plan’, New York Times, May 2, 2001.Google Scholar
  33. 31.
    See, for example, Graham Allison, ‘We Must Act As If He Has The Bomb’, Washington Post, November 18, 2001; Associated Press, ‘Trail of Clues Left by Qaeda Hints Darkly at Arms Plan’, New York Times, November 16, 2001Google Scholar
  34. 31a.
    and Giles Tremlett, ‘Nerve gas find at camp’, The Guardian. November 20, 2001.Google Scholar
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    Quoted in Elisabeth Bumiller, ‘Next Target in Terror War: Bush Says It Could Be Iraq’, New York Times, November 27, 2001.Google Scholar
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    Bush went on to warn, ‘America will do what is necessary to ensure our nation’s security.… I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons’. All President Bush’s quotes from The White House, ‘President Delivers State of the Union Address: The President’s State of the Union Address’, Washington, D.C., January 29, 2002.Google Scholar
  37. 34.
    Quoted in Howard LaFranchi, ‘US hard line on terrorism alienates allies’, Christian Science Monitor, February 12, 2002.Google Scholar
  38. 35.
    Jospin quoted in Victor Mallet, ‘France urges US to ease stance on terrorism’,, February 8, 2001.Google Scholar
  39. 36.
    Chris Patten, ‘Jaw-jaw, not war-war’,, February 14, 2002.Google Scholar
  40. 37.
    Also see, for example, Judy Dempsey, ‘US foreign policy refuses to heed Europe’s divided voices’,, February 12, 2002.Google Scholar
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    See, for example, ‘Text of Bush’s Speech at West Point’, New York Times, June 1, 2002.Google Scholar
  42. 39.
    Specifically, the document stated: ‘We will enhance diplomacy, arms control, multilateral export controls, and threat reduction assistance that impede states and terrorists seeking WMD, and when necessary, interdict enabling technologies and materials. We will continue to build coalitions to support these efforts, encouraging their increased political and financial support for nonproliferation and threat reduction programs’.Google Scholar
  43. 40.
    See The White House, The New Security Strategy of the United States, September 20, 2002.Google Scholar
  44. 41.
    ‘Interview With Jacques Chirac’, New York Times, September 8, 2002.Google Scholar
  45. 42.
    Quoted in Glenn Frankel, ‘New U.S. Doctrine Worries Europeans: Decades of Coalition-Building Seen at Risk’, Washington Post, September 30, 2002.Google Scholar
  46. 43.
    Adding to European concerns was the U.S.’ new nuclear posture, promulgated in December 2002, which indicated that the U.S. would pursue a new generation of small nuclear weapons for bunker busting, attacking hardened site and so on. The implication was that the U.S. might be willing, as part of its strategy of preemption, to launch a nuclear attack on a non-nuclear state. See Mike Allen and Barton Gellman, ‘Pre-emptive Strikes Part of U.S. Strategic Doctrine: ‘All Options’ Open for Countering Unconventional Arms’, Washington Post, December 11, 2002.Google Scholar
  47. 44.
    For an account of the ins and outs of the transatlantic debates in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq, see Elizabeth Pond, Friendly Fire: The New Death of the Transatlantic Alliance, Washington, DC, Brookings Institution Press, for the European Union Studies Association, 2003Google Scholar
  48. 44a.
    and Philip H. Gordon and Jeremy Shapiro, Allies at War: America, Europe and the Crisis over Iraq, Washington, DC, Brookings Institution Press, 2004.Google Scholar
  49. 45.
    For an overview of the PSI, see U.S. Department of State, Proliferation Security Initiative, (International Information Programs), posted June 2004, at
  50. 46.
    Among the most notable of the interdictions undertaken by the signatories was the seizure of centrifuge parts headed to Libya in September 2003. See Robin Wright, ‘Ship Incident May Have Swayed Libya: Centrifuges Intercepted in September’, Washington Post, January 1, 2004.Google Scholar
  51. 47.
    David Sanger, ‘Bush Proposes Strict Limits on Black Market Sale of Equipment to Make Nuclear Fuel’,, February 12, 2004.Google Scholar
  52. 48.
    Quoted Judy Dempsey and Roula Khalaf, ‘Europe hails Bush’s nuclear curbs call’,, February 12, 2004.Google Scholar
  53. 49.
    ‘Istanbul Summit Communique’, Issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council, June 28, 2004, NATO Press Release (2004)096, June 28, 2004, Paragraph 14.Google Scholar
  54. 50.
    Ibid., Paragraph 15.Google Scholar
  55. 51.
    Some European allies have criticized the U.S. for the differential manner that it has dealt with the three ‘axis of evil’ states, noting that North Korea is a more significant threat than Iraq, yet Washington has eschewed negotiations with Iraq as being pointless and is seeking to negotiate with Pyongyang. The ease with which the U.S. can be deterred explains this differential. As Robert Einhorn, former U.S. Assistant Secretary for Non-proliferation during the Clinton Administration, has observed, ‘North Korea has a lot of artillery along the border that could reach Seoul. That’s why they are so dangerous because they can threaten to kill hundreds of thousands of people with credibility......If anyone sits down and looks at the consequences of confrontation with North Korea they realize it would be very dire and negotiation starts to look a better option’. Quoted in Andrew Ward, ‘North Korea: The bomb as bargaining chip’, Ft.Com, July 10, 2002.Google Scholar
  56. 52.
    It can be argued that one of the aims of the Bush Administration, or at least some of its key members, was that effecting regime change in Iraq would serve to send a compelling signal to Iran, along with North Korea and other potential proliferators, that they too, unless they changed their proliférant behavior, would be the next targets. Indeed, as an unnamed British diplomat reportedly claimed prior to the invasion, ‘Everyone wants to go to Baghdad, but real men want to go to Tehran.’ Quoted in Carol Rivers, ‘Bush’s Foreign Policy May Be All Guns, No Butter’, Women’s Enews, October 23, 2002, at (accessed 02/08/2004).Google Scholar
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    Iran rebuffs Europe on atom plans’, International Herald Tribune, August 2, 2004.Google Scholar
  58. 54.
    A senior U.S. official reportedly has argued that, ‘The Iranians want to drive a wedge between the Europeans and the United States and to drag this process out as long as they can in order to do what they want to do in terms of developing a nuclear capability’. Quoted in Reuters, ‘U.S. Tells Europeans to “Hold Firm” on Iran’, New York Times, July 28, 2004.Google Scholar
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    See Jim Lobe, ‘New Battle Joined Between Realists and Neo-Cons on Iran’,, July 21, 2004, at (accessed 21/07/2004).
  60. 56.
    On the removal of this aspect of the EU’s new security strategy, see Francois Heisbourg, ‘The “European Security Strategy” is not a security strategy’, in Stephen Everts, et al, A European Way of War, London, Centre for European Reform, 2004, pp. 27–40.Google Scholar
  61. 57.
    Howard LaFranchi, ‘Anti-Iran sentiment hardening fast’, Christian Science Monitor, July 22, 2004.Google Scholar
  62. 57a.
    See also, Robin Wright, ‘U.S. Faces a Crossroads on Iran Policy’, Washington Post, July 19, 2004.Google Scholar
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    Steven R. Weisman. Europe and U.S. Agree on Carrot-and-Stick Approach to Iran’., 12 March 2005, at
  64. 59.
    Sonni Efron and Mark Mazzetti, ‘U. S. May Aid Iran Activists’. LA, 4 March 2005, at:,1,1 453738. print.story?coll=la-headlines-world.
  65. 60.
    Roula Khalaf and Gareth Smyth, ‘Iran turns up heat on Europe ahead of talks’., 19 April 2005, at http://news.ft.comlcms/s/1638ca94-b0fd-lld9-9bfc-00000e251 lc8.html.

Copyright information

© Board of the Journal of Transatlantic Studies 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Terry Terriff
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BirminghamUK

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