Remarks from Ambassador William J. Burns
Good morning. Let me congratulate at the outset James, Toby, and our Carnegie colleagues for putting together another terrific conference.
With political transitions and simmering nuclear tensions dotting the international landscape, this year’s conference proved to be especially challenging to pull off. I could not be prouder of all of you. I could not be more impressed with your vision, execution, and commitment to make each nukefest even better than the last. And I could not be more honored to welcome our extraordinary speakers and audience – especially those taking part in the new young professional track. You make me feel old, but you also fill me with hope – and optimism.
For all the new energy and purpose the next generation brings to this year’s conference, I see no shortage of the more familiar ashen faces one typically sees at nuclear policy gatherings. If we’re honest, we can all concede that in the nuclear crowd, pessimism is genetic. But it has also engendered some novel – or in undiplomatic terms, dangerous – instincts in many quarters. I can understand what’s behind the frustration. The plodding pace on disarmament. The impunity in the face of stark violations of treaty obligations. And the desire for more security and assurance in a world that seems more complicated and uncertain as each day passes.
For most of my career in government, thinking the unthinkable meant reckoning with the consequences of nuclear use and doing everything possible to prevent it. But there were moments – much like today – when anxiety and fatalism ruled the day. In these moments, leaders contemplate what seemed unthinkable in the very recent past – growing arsenals, developing new nuclear weapons, discarding treaties, abrogating agreements, hollowing out international institutions, and fanning the flames of proliferation.
As some of you will recall, the mood was somewhat different at the last conference. Two years ago, we met during the final stages of negotiations for the comprehensive Iran nuclear agreement. Hope for a deal that would prevent a war and stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon was palpable. That hope was realized. That deal is now in force. All parties are in full compliance. The impending threats of a nuclear Iran and a military confrontation have been averted. And for all the debate about the agreement and for all the endless searching for a “better deal,” the JCPOA remains a significant diplomatic achievement and a model for how to resolve proliferation challenges.
While the deal was never meant to transform Iran or the region overnight, many of us hoped it might bring renewed stability to the international nuclear order. But rather than use the momentum to make progress on other proliferation challenges and build on the agreement’s innovations to strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation regime, we’ve gotten distracted and diverted. Meanwhile, nuclear dangers have increased, and the international consensus on nonproliferation and disarmament has only frayed further.
Since we last met, North Korea has tested more nuclear weapons and made significant advances in its missile capabilities. Russia has deployed a cruise missile in violation of the INF treaty. The arms race in South Asia has accelerated. So has the interest in, and pace of, nuclear weapon modernization in a number of countries, including here in the United States. The once hypothetical risk of entanglement between the cyber, space, and nuclear domains is today a real and present danger. And doubt about the viability of the NPT is growing, together with polarization in the NPT system – most recently underscored by the determined effort of a group of states to push a treaty banning nuclear weapons through the UN.
In this environment, dismantling existing structures and institution with vague hopes of something better emerging can seem appealing. But this sort of “creative destruction” is nothing more than an illusion. In a world of imperfect institutions, imperfect information, and imperfect solutions, the only realistic path before us is to work hard to strengthen and revitalize the nonproliferation regime we have in the real world – not the one we wished we had in a more perfect world. The longer we hold to the myth of creative destruction and the fantasy of perfection, the more intractable the challenges before us will become. This, to me, is one of the key lessons of the first fifty years of the NPT regime. Now is the time to shape and strengthen the future of global nuclear order, not shred it.
This is precisely the spirit which motivates our work at Carnegie. And we’ve tried our best to give it practical meaning.
This morning, my colleagues released a new report detailing the elements of a nuclear firewall between civil and nuclear weapons programs that would patch some of the vulnerabilities of the treaty while strengthening all three of its pillars – nonproliferation, peaceful use of nuclear energy, and disarmament. This report is the product of several years of in-depth technical research and active outreach to key states. And it’s precisely the kind of innovative thinking that can help us navigate the stormy waters we now find ourselves in. Our goal with this work is to build up, rather than tear down, the institutions that successfully managed nuclear risks in the last half century.
As we work to revitalize the regime for the next fifty years, we also have to deal with the very real challenges facing it today. This means continuing to pay very careful attention to the rigorous implementation of the Iran nuclear deal. It means drawing the right lessons to deal with the immediate and even more challenging threat posed by North Korea. It means deploying our diplomatic leverage in South Asia to reduce tensions driving strategic instability. It means maintaining what’s left of the arms control infrastructure with Russia while holding Moscow accountable for its violations. And it means leading by example with our own behavior, including the decisions we make in the coming years about the future of our nuclear posture and arsenal.
Over the coming days, we will have a chance to discuss these and many other imperatives facing the nonproliferation regime on its 50th anniversary. It’s a conversation that requires more than two days, of course, and I hope very much that it will engender further debate, dialogue, and collaboration in the months ahead.
We are very fortunate to kick off the conference with a keynote address by High Representative Federica Mogherini – a remarkable diplomat whose skill, energy, and imagination are uniquely suited to this moment of reckoning for Europe. We had the good fortune to host the High Representative last July to roll out the EU’s new global strategy and she’s very kind to come back to give us an update on the strategy and the EU’s nuclear policy priorities. We are equally fortunate to welcome my friend and former colleague, Karen Donfried, to moderate the conversation following the High Representative’s remarks. Karen has been at the frontlines of trans-Atlantic partnership over the course of many years and several administrations, and is as knowledgeable and thoughtful about this part of the world as anyone I know.
So once again, let me welcome all of you to the 2017 Nuclear Policy Conference, and please join me in welcoming our opening keynote speaker, High Representative Mogherini. Thank you very much.
Transcript from High Representative Mogherini
transcript not checked against delivery
Let me thank you, Bill [William Burns, President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace], and let me thank Carnegie and all of you for being here, and for this invitation. You know how much I care about non-proliferation and nuclear policy: even before I chaired the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program, before I was High Representative or Minister, I was already engaged with the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO), and the broader global non-proliferation community. And I see so many friends here today I am really please to meet again.
Not only are so many of you here in the room, I also see the non-proliferation work done – a work that is key this moment. It is a life-time commitment, but in this precise moment, it is even more important to discuss nuclear policies, and to preserve the rules that were agreed in recent decades through so much hard work, vision and courage.
So I’m particularly glad to be here with you today, for at least two reasons. One, that we really need the expert community to be part of the conversation with policy-makers, to explain what the current rules have achieved, what we still have to build, and why it is so important to strengthen and preserve the global non-proliferation architecture. Second, because we can never stop looking at the way forward, as new challenges arise – as Bill was mentioning -, at the new tools we can develop, and the potential impact of any new agreement.
The European Union organises every year a “Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Conference” precisely for this reason. So it is just natural for me to be here with you – from a personal point of view and from an institutional one, and I would even say from a political one. And let me thank Carnegie and all of you here again for this conference and for your constant contribution to this very important debate. A debate that can and must shape the direction of policy making.
Now in particular, because I see a lot of confusion in today’s world. And even the most basic rules of our international system seem to be called into question. In an era of power-politics and realpolitik, I would like to be as realistic and as pragmatic as I can – being a woman normally this works quite well.
So let me be very clear: the security of our citizens today can only be achieved through non-proliferation and disarmament. It is a matter of security. A new arms race is not the solution to any of the security challenges or threats we face. The Cold-War era is over. The world today is much more complex, much more fragile than 25 years ago. The number of nuclear states has risen – so that there is not just one “nuclear balance” to take into account, but several and overlapping nuclear balances.
Henry Kissinger has explained it incredibly well. I come from a very different background, but I do appreciate the wisdom of the old-school Republican realism, especially in these times. In 2014 he assessed that major powers have over-invested in nuclear weapons, at their own peril. I quote: "The most fearsome of weapons, commanding large shares of each superpowers' defense budget, lost their relevance to the actual crises facing leaders".
As a result, Kissinger assessed, in many cases, I quote again: "Technological supremacy turned into geopolitical impotence". Kissinger argues that the “relatively stable nuclear order of the Cold War” simply belongs to a different era. And in today’s world, some nuclear actors might want to show that they are ready to take “apocalyptic decisions,” even if they would have disastrous consequences for everyone, including themselves.
So, the logic of deterrence could easily become outdated – and this would definitely be the case, if a criminal or terrorist group had to acquire a weapon of mass destruction. In a fragile world like ours, a nuclear balance of terror would be incredibly dangerous. And the only way to make our citizens more secure runs through non-proliferation and disarmament. The only way forward is to invest together in a strong system of truly global rules.
We, Europeans, aim at multilateral disarmament. We all want to guarantee non-proliferation through treaties and verification regimes. This is stated very clearly in our Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy - that I presented at Carnegie a few months ago – and that was agreed by all our 28 Member States – still 28 for a couple of years -, including the nuclear weapon states. So, the European Union will continue to be a strong, consistent, reliable, predictable partner, for all those who believe that security comes through non-proliferation and I guess in this room we are quite the majority. We will keep working as the European Union to preserve, strengthen and expand the current rules.
Think of the Non-Proliferation Treaty: it has been the cornerstone of the global security architecture, and today, as it turns fifty, it has become even more important – not less. Or think of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). North Korea’s nuclear tests have shown once again how urgent it is to make the Treaty enter into force. Its Organisation [CTBTO] has provided already the world with a truly global, hi-tech monitoring system for nuclear explosions – something that no single country alone would be able to do.
Not only do we need to complete this global monitoring network, we must continue to argue for all countries – including this one, the United States of America – to move towards ratification. This would be an investment in America’s security, and in our collective security. The international community needs unity in its response to nuclear threats, to North Korea’s threats. And unity can only be built and preserved if we all abide by the same rules, if our commitments are truly credible. Unity is also what brought us the deal with Iran: America and Europe, Russia and China, working together.
Whatever views you might have on the agreement – and I know here in Washington there are different views - there are some facts that no one can ignore – not opinions, facts. For five times now, five times, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has certified Iran’s compliance with the deal, and it is constantly monitoring Iran’s nuclear programme. I chair regular meetings at ministerial level with the United States, Russia, China, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Iran. And we all assess the implementation of the agreement in all its parts. And the United Nations, as you know well, has thrown its weight behind the deal, endorsing it in the Security Council.
So let me state it very clearly, as I always do: It is an agreement that belongs to the entire international community and that the Europeans are determined to preserve because its full and strict implementation is key to our own security. Multilateral diplomacy has achieved something impossible to achieve by any other means - through unity. There is simply no doubt about it. And this is the path we Europeans want to continue to follow.
A renewed confrontation among world powers will not serve anyone’s interest – it will only make us more insecure, more exposed to these threats. The right path is the one marked by the new START (STrategic Arms Reduction Treaty) and its implementation. This is the kind of cooperation between Russia and the United States that we Europeans would like to see.
Any violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, on the contrary, would endanger a security architecture that, since the end of the Cold War, has made Europe a safer place. A logic of provocation or retaliation cannot apply to nuclear issues. The game has become far too complex and the field far too crowded. A new arms race, far from being a stabilising factor, would spark new tensions, destabilise entire regions and make our world much, much more dangerous.
So the answer to today’s instability, to a shifting global balance of power, is more cooperation and stronger global governance. This is what the Europeans stand for. We need to protect the rules we have, enforce them more effectively together, work on our verification regimes, agree on better rules when the situation requires it, develop new tools and mechanisms when needed. We must strengthen our partnerships, build new international alliances, new formats, new spaces for regional cooperation.
This is what the European Union believes, and this is our strategic interest. I know that other world powers might not share our views. But I also believe that we are going through a moment of transition, a very unsettled situation, and we have a chance to maybe influence the outcome of this transition.
So we need the experts and the academia, the civil society, citizens, those who are dedicated to the nuclear policy agenda to make their voice heard, to make the arguments. We need your expertise and your engagement – not only to analyse the challenges, but also to shape our response, the policy making. To make it more cooperative, which means to us Europeans to make it more effective.
What is at stake is global security. We must have learned something from our tragic history. The world today is a dangerous place – a very dangerous place. It is definitely not the time to play with fire. What is at stake is our own security. That is why you will always find the European Union engaged and committed, for nuclear non-proliferation.
I thank you very much.
Questions from the moderator
Q. You just gave such a strong defence of the rules-based international order that Americans and Europeans built together in the post-war era. I wanted to draw you out on that because I think back to the last time you went to Carnegie when you were launching the Global Strategy, that you really were the lead creator of in the EU; you announced it almost simultaneously with the June referendum in the UK to leave the EU; since then we had the US election that's resulted in President Trump. I think there is a lot of questions today about these serious challenges to this rules-based order – both externally but also within our own societies, our public is questioning some of these foundations that have been unquestioned. The Global Strategy was released back in June: would you reassess it at all today and specifically how do you see the role of the United States in this? I was struck at the Munich Security Conference that many of the questions there seem to be about the US role in this order as much as anything else. So I would love to draw you out on that, thanks.
HR/VP Mogherini: Thank you very much for first of all being here together again, it is great and I can confirm being part of the German Marshall Fund fellowship was one of the best experiences in my life. I have learned so much and I have learned I think a lot about America beyond Washington; so that prepares you also for coming surprises in the future. But, no, I would not reassess the Global Strategy at all. And actually, yes, I was presenting the Global Strategy two or three days after the UK referendum. It is more or less nine months now after that moment – seems much longer but it is only nine months - and as we have started to implement the Global Strategy in number of fields, including European Defence, and that has gone very fast on the European Union side with decisions that we took at unanimity, at 28, including the UK. As you might have noticed, the UK has not even yet started to ask to begin the negotiations nine months after the result of the referendum. So, maybe it is not so true that the European Union is slow and bureaucratic and the others can run; because – you know - democracy needs time and procedures.
And this brings me to the rules: in the Global Strategy we say – and I know we share this analysis here - that the only way to cope with a world that is extremely complex when power is diffused is to find common ground to find solutions to problems. The only way you can try to do this is by building cooperation – regional cooperation, international cooperation – through multilateralism, strengthening this rules-based global order. And here I think we touch on one of the big political, even existential questions of our times that are true internally and globally. How do we see the rules? Do we perceive the rules as a constraint for an individual or an individual country or do we consider the rules as a guarantee for having the game played properly? A guarantee for the weaker? A guarantee for the respect of certain things we decide all together? Up to now the rules were perceived as a guarantee. My perception is that in our societies, more and more, we start to question whether the rules are not a constraint to the success of one at the detriment of – maybe - the other. But in the world, this creates chaos. That is why Europeans will and will continue to stand for rules in the global system – be it on trade, be it on diplomacy, be it on security, be it on nuclear issues.
We see this as an investment in a balanced global order. We have not yet developed a proper global order and I think we have the maturity now to see that an investment in – I will make an example – humanitarian aid in the Horn of Africa is also an investment in our own security, because out of the I do not know of many thousands of young boys and girls who suffer from hunger – a certain number of them might become radicalised, immigrate, destabilise countries or regions. So, we need rules, we need investments that are long term visions; we need to cooperate with partners and friends and we need to find this common ground even when problems seem difficult, as we did with the Iran nuclear deal at the end of the day.
So, no, I would not reassess the Global Strategy. All of that is the European way to security, out of what we have learned from our history that is somehow our shared interest.
The role of the United States – you know, it is a bit a surreal for me because now, it is a few months that be it here or in Brussels or in Munich or elsewhere, one of the first questions is what about the US policy on this and that and I say - you do not have to ask me – can I ask you? It is not for me to say. I see that there is still a certain degree of review of policies ongoing and this is one of the reasons why I am here in Washington this week. I am very pleased and honoured to have welcomed Vice-President Pence for an official visit to the EU to discuss together at an early stage what kind of direction the US policy might take in certain fields where – for us – it is priority number one to make clear where the European Union stands: the Iran nuclear deal, full strict implementation by all in all aspects, the climate change agreement, a free and fair global trade system and I could continue. Some crisis management, we need to do together – Syria, Libya, the Middle East Peace Process - we strongly believe in two states, still.
And one last thing I would like to mention – I was particularly worried to see the news coming from Washington on the budget cuts. I know that this is internal, domestic but I was the day before yesterday in Cairo for meetings with the Arab League, the previous day I was in Addis Ababa for meetings with the African Union. If the United States were to reduce significantly their investments, be it on humanitarian or development aid, peace and security operations, the world and certain regions of the world would get completely destabilised; do not forget that the major Syrian refugee crisis, couple of years ago, started because the World Food Programme was underfunded. I hope there is wisdom enough here to keep in mind that investing in America means also investing in places that are far away – it is your own interest.
Q. You mentioned Vice-President Pence's visit to the European Union which I do think was a powerful example of US commitment to the European project. The President will be going to Europe in the first half of this year, if we think about the G7 Summit in Italy, if we think about the NATO Summit, if we think about the G20 meeting in Germany, do you think there will be a US/EU Summit on the margins of any of those meetings?
HR/VP Mogherini: Could be. I know our teams are working on options. We had last summit last summer at the margins of the NATO Summit in Warsaw, but I have to tell you before that I think that the previous one was two years ago which means that we do not necessarily need to have a summit every year – it would be good but what would be more important than everything for me is to come to a summit or to our regular meetings with clear ideas of what we want to do together. What is our shared interest? Why America needs Europe and Europe needs America? From European side, we have it very clear in mind, we need to work together for our security, we need to work together for our economy, millions of jobs depend on our economic relations across the Atlantic - both in Europe and in America. Probably you can imagine how many jobs in America depend on European investments. And also for the global order, because America and Europe together represent by far, by far, the most powerful force in the world in any possible field.
So, we have clear in mind why we want and we need to work with the United States. I think that a summit would be good; I don't exclude it but I don't confirm it at this stage. The important thing for me in this moment is that we keep this dialogue very much open, frequent as it has been the case – I have seen Tillerson [Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State of the United States of America] very often, Matthis [James Matthis, Secretary of Defence of the United States of America], again Pence [Mike Pence, Vice-President of the United States of America], I will see him again during my visit here, for the second time in a month - that we keep this channel open, that we talk and we see together again how the new US course on some policies will develop; on our side we are quite clear on what we want.
Q. If we think about challenges to the rules-based order, certainly one country that comes to mind is Russia. And there have been concerns about Russian abrogation of the INF [Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces] Treaty, certainly if you think about the European security context, there is no more fundamental challenge to the post-Cold war order than Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 – it seems thus that this scenario where we see strong transatlantic cooperation continue. The EU has renewed its sanctions against Russia, the Trump administration said it is committed to those sanctions as well. How do you see the EU's relationship with Russia moving forward? Do you see any areas to be optimistic about, the implementation of the Minsk cease-fire agreements? Tell us how you see that moving forward.
HR/VP Mogherini: Well, first of all, just a few days ago, we restated our policy on the illegal annexation of Crimea – it was the anniversary, just two days ago. This is a very important thing to restate together that both America and Europe; for Europe – no doubt - and for America as well I understand, it is not conceivable that in our century, borders are changed by the use of force, simply unconceivable. This is a fundamental breach of international law.
Having said that, the two key points I would like to underline about this: one is that, yes, it is fundamental that we coordinate our sanctions policy, but I would also like to get out of a black and white picture where the European policy towards Russia is purely the sanctions. That does not correspond to reality. We work with the Russians intensely at my level, at all levels on the Minsk implementation but also on many other things. The sanctions are an instrument to get the full Minsk implementation. For us, the objective in itself is not keeping the sanctions; for us the objective in itself is solving the conflict and have a full implementation of Minsk. We would be happy to lift the sanctions if we had a full implementation of Minsk.
So, our main purpose is first, to continue to coordinate with our American friends on this, we’ll keep our European unity as we have done over the years regardless of different stories that were told and then, we showed that we could be more united than people expected – I think we are proving that again and again on many different files. Second, we work together to have this full implementation of Minsk which means also supporting our Ukrainian friends in their reform agenda – they are going through a complicated process, including on some reforms they need to undertake under the Minsk agreements.
And third, the European Union and Russia have a certain selective engagement. We work together on some issues very well. I give you two, three examples: we work very well on the Iran nuclear deal, constantly – I would say daily. We work very well on the Middle East Peace Process; we share for sure the same kind of perspective there about the two state solution and we worked always very well within the Quartet on the Middle East. But also on other issues, I think of the fact that just one year and a half ago, the European Union launched its military operation in the Mediterranean to save lives at sea and dismantle the smugglers and human traffickers' networks that was endorsed by the UN Security Council that Russia supported.
So, we have to get out of this picture that the European Union and Russia are not talking to each other, are not working with each other on anything. We have disagreements, we have different positons, we have a serious problem on Ukraine and with the illegal annexation of Crimea that we tackle every single day and on which we need to work together, Europeans and Americans. But on any file, including the ones that are not necessary the easiest like Syria, we do work together on a daily basis.
Q. When I think back to the European Global Strategy, one of the things that struck me was the focus there of turning vision into common action. Just earlier this month, you announced that the European Union was setting up a headquarters for military training operations which seems to be part of turning a vision into concrete action. I was struck by how this was reported at the least in the US and the British press which was very much in the context of the European Union taking greater responsibility for its security in a post-Brexit environment. So, at this moment, when one of the EU's military most capable Member State is planning its exit, it seems that the other Member States in the EU itself want to step up and say they could do more. I would love to draw you out on what you see this new headquarter is signifying and what it is expect to contribute?
HR/VP Mogherini: It was indeed a historical decision. I said on that occasion we have done more in concrete terms on European defence in the last six months than the last six years. Those of you who are passionate about European history know that European defence was at the beginning the very start of the dream of integrating the continent; then for different reasons, we moved to something else. And as we will celebrate 60 years of the Rome Treaty that was the starting point of the EU, and just like on Saturday in Rome, it is quite a reason of being proud for me, to see that we bring there, 60 years after, the first very concrete operational steps for a European Union that is a much more reliable, credible actor on the military side because we have been always perceived and we have always perceived ourselves as a soft power – Venus and Mars and all those things – but actually, we have already now, 16 military or civilian operations around the world, mainly in Africa but also in the Mediterranean or elsewhere; and we do have also military power. So, this decision we have taken will allow us to plan and conduct these operations in a more coordinated manner.
But what strikes me the most is that, you are right, media-wise, it is perceived as the reaction to the UK leaving. But this decision was taken unanimously at 28 and this is going to be implemented in the coming weeks, actually days now, while the UK has not even started to ask to begin negotiations to exit which means we are moving fast, together, in a very concrete manner, still at 28. Why? Because this is not a reaction to the UK leaving; this is a reaction to the fact that for the European citizens, security matters. We are not doing this for the UK, we are not doing this for the US – sorry to disappoint you - we are doing it for ourselves. Then, if it is good also for transatlantic relations – which I believe it is – great! But we are doing this because we know that there is no other way to have an efficient, an effective security system and defence system in Europe, if not through European Union integration and coordination processes.
I give you one example that I raised with Matthis [James Matthis, Secretary of Defence of the United States of America] and I think that was extremely interesting for him. We have all this 2% debate - and this is a NATO debate, I am not going to enter that. But, if you want Member States allies in NATO that are also Member States of the European Union, and that is the large majority of them, to go towards better and more spending on defence: first you have to have rules on our budgets that allowed that to happen and these are EU related decisions. Second, in the meantime you can work on the output. Here we are a security community, so we understand each other. In Europe we spend half - 50 per cent - of what America spends on defence. European output on defence is fifteen per cent of the American one, so we have an output gap in Europe given by the fragmentation of our investments. We do not work on the economy of scale yet. Each and every Member State has its own system and sometimes more than one because we are complicated, we Europeans – which is an advantage sometimes because in a complicated world being complicated yourself helps you to understand things.
But in the meantime the Member States figured out that if they want to get to 2 per cent in defence spending - because another thing that Europeans strongly believe is also investing in climate change or in humanitarian [aid] because this prevents conflicts, so for us that is also an investment in security, especially on the conflict prevention - you need to fill in the gap on the output. You can do it through European Union instruments, because the European Union can incentivise common projects, capability developments, industrial research projects that can bring together Member States to spend better together and have a better output, strengthen the capabilities that then are also the disposal of NATO, because it is Member States owned and Member States are the allies. This can be done only through the European Union. So all those who question the relevance of the European Union should think twice also on defence.
Q. Would you see this is as a first step to a European army?
HR/VP Mogherini: I would not say that. No, because, you know, my main objective is to make things advance. You can use nice, evocative images and words and say “you know 15 years from now”, but that vision if you say it like this might raise so many question marks on the next step to be done that you never get there. So you have to have a horizon, but I focus on the small steps that can bring us there. And again we discussed about European army for decades and we have never moved forward with a joint military command. Now we stopped talking about the army, but we have decided on the common command. I would prefer going that way.
Questions from the audience
Q. On 17 March, the Global Relations Forum International Task Force on the Sustainability of the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) including different experts from 5+1 countries, including my organisation [PIR Centre], India, Turkey, Israel, Iran issued an unanimous statement saying that there is no alternative to the JCPOA and it should not be renegotiated and all the parties should fulfil their obligations in good faith. But at the same time we hear that about the recent British decision of blocking the sale of “yellow cake to Iran” and this is what really concerns Russia, it really concerns a lot of experts worldwide and I wonder what could we do in order to achieve cooperation and fulfilling all the obligations in good faith in which would be after the JCPOA.
HR/VP Mogherini: I fully share the need to fully implement, in all its parts, the JCPOA. Let me stress that this is not a deal that can be partially renegotiated. You know that for sure, but maybe our larger audience does not necessarily know: it is a more than 100 pages of very technical deal that took several years to finalise. And as I said it belongs to the entire international community, it is not a bilateral agreement that can be adjusted here or there. So I do not see the possibility to have a cosmetic or a partial change here or there. And I agree that there is no alternative if we want to avoid that Iran develops a military nuclear programme. So far, as I said, both through the IAEA’s [International Atomic Energy Agency] reports – five of them – and through the Joint Commission Assessments that looks at all the different elements of full compliance in good faith by all actors of the JCPOA, we have always assessed together that there is full compliance in all sides by all actors. And I will personally and the European Union will consistently guarantee that this continues to be the case.
This is for the European Union a key strategic interest and it is also for me a personal responsibility because I still keep the responsibility to chair the Joint Commission and monitor on the implementation. Let me say that this is not only key for security reasons; it is also key for a certain way of conceiving diplomacy and multilateralism. We have invested in this agreement first and foremost because we wanted Iran to be prevented from developing a nuclear weapon and the assessment we have is that this is effectively the case. But there is also a deeper meaning in this which means that even the most difficult and complicated issues can be dealt with by different global powers, having different views but sit together again and again for years, but finally finding a solution, a common ground and implement it together. Two years ago everybody was sceptical about us reaching the agreement and we did it. Then everybody was sceptical the agreement could ever enter into force and we did it. Then everybody was sceptical about the deal being implemented fully and constantly and we did it. So I think we will disappoint the sceptics again and again.
Q: Giving India’s impressive track record on nuclear non-proliferation and the backing it has received from countries like the US itself, you have also led some negotiations efforts in trying to talk with countries like China on the nuclear supplies issues. Do you really see India getting a seat in the table without signing the non-proliferation treaty? And a lot has been talked about the Iran’s nuclear deal, if Iran would to be forced to walk out of it, what would you see as the biggest implication of it and would be the way forward?
HR/VP Mogherini: I will not comment on the part of the question on India. On Iran I do not think personally that Iran can be forced to walk out of the agreement. I think Iran has invested a big deal of technical competences that they have, political capital of the leadership – all of the leadership, from the very top - in reaching this agreement, which was not an easy exercise. And I think they would stay committed to full implementation of the agreement. And as I said, Europeans will always be there to make sure that full implementation is taking place, but also that the environment among us – the 3+3 plus Iran or 5+1 and Iran, no matter how you want to call them – that the environment is constructive, respectful and that good faith applies as mentioned by your colleague. Europe is there to guarantee this. And I am confident that Iran will not either be forced to walk away, nor walk away.
Q: We often talk about Russia’s violations, so my readers often ask if there are concerns on the Russian side concerning the INF that Americans aren’t aware of?
HR/VP Mogherini: If we talk about of concerns of which Americans might be aware of or not, I guess the question is more for you than for me. I cannot speak for the United States yet. But as I said we see the nuclear architecture on nuclear deals as a major achievement that has to be preserved, which first of all means we count on all to stick to commitments and preserve the agreements we have also because this is essential to European security.
Q: You wisely mentioned unity. It is pretty clear that there is a large unity in states that do not have nuclear weapons to those that do to quickly get rid of them. That unity has culminated now into the negotiations that will start next week, as you know, in the United Nations, and negotiations should finish sometime in June for a possible convention to ban nuclear weapons. What do you think that outcome of these negotiations would be and how it would affect our work?
Q. In Europe there is a lot of anti-establishment parties that are getting traction. How would you envisage a message to the people that are unsatisfied with the establishment?
HR/VP Mogherini: The first question is actually easier than the second. I would not have expected that. There is indeed a lack of unity when it comes to the nuclear weapons ban within the broader international community, within the European Union, within NATO. I cannot predict how the negotiations will end up. It seems difficult to me to imagine that a few months of negotiations on this issue will deliver us unified result, I would be surprise in that case, but in Italian we have an expression that I could never translate in English: ‘Hope is the last to die’. Do you say that in English? Yes? Ok. So you never know. But indeed on that issue there is a lack of unity across different set-ups, communities, and that goes beyond the nuclear powers and non-nuclear powers. It crosses a bit lines to my understanding. We always try to facilitate unity, starting from our Member States on common ground, and again let me tell you that what I said during my remarks, there are divisions, there are different views on this issue but there is inside the European Union, including the nuclear powers, a clear common goal of going towards a multilateral disarmament on nuclear issues. This is a common and shared goal we have in the Union.
On anti-establishment, first of all thank you for putting the question this way. Because I have always been convinced that it is not about populism, it is not about far-right, it is about establishment and anti-establishment forces which is a very complicated issue to tackle and I cannot say that I am glad because I am not, but finally we go out of this narrative that this is an European thing. You see it here, it is everywhere in the world. I think it is about taking responsibility from the establishment decision-making. I can give you the European example but I guess here the dynamics might be similar. In the European Union, there is no abstract entity that shows up in Brussels, an alien coming from the moon and materialising in the Brussels’ building, taking decisions and then the 28 [Member States] have to implement. It does not exist. It is the 28 [Member States] Prime Ministers, Presidents, Chancellors, ministers, coming together to Brussels, taking decision, most of the time by unanimity and then going back home and say ‘you know, Brussels asks what we have to do’, which means not taking responsibilities for your own choices. The only place that this does not work is Brussels itself, because Belgium cannot blame Brussels but apart from that – it is true; it is sad, but it is true.
So I think the answer is in us politicians or us establishment – I have a difficult in saying that, but anyway… - not only to be a bit more concrete on the things we do and again look again at the concrete outcome options, operational decisions we take and explain them, but also taking responsibility and explaining why we are taking decisions, why it is good, or in some cases you lose a battle and you explain why you lost the battle and you get the battle next time. Being a little bit more transparent not only on the handling of the budget – which is a very important thing - but then sometimes you see the contradiction of anti-establishment forces that are completely non transparent on handling the money, including public money. So there is not really coherence there. But if we want to take more political responsibility, explaining to our citizens that in the European case Europe is us, it is not a third party. You are from a certain city, a certain country and you have a certain European identity, complementary to the others.
We need to have the political leadership that is able to exercise and explain a European responsibility also because otherwise – sorry I am too long but this is a serious thing – we run the risk of leaving the most dangerous of the paradoxes that you hear, this discourse in Europe being about regaining sovereignty from Brussels - but in the world of today how do you regain sovereignty on a smaller national scale but then you have to go and negotiate with China or the United States? Ok, good luck. But even France or Germany and I often say – I apologise, they must have heard me saying this a lot of the time – European countries are divided in two kinds: the small ones and the ones that have not yet realised they are small in the world of today. I am afraid that this is also true for other places that are a bit bigger, but still need friends, because in the world of today alone you do not go far.
So, I think and often say this, the only way for Europeans to regain sovereignty is through the European Union, through our unity, because this increases our weight. I give you one last example: trade. I know it is not nuclear security related, but do you allow me? I know it sounds strange here that single Member States of the European Union cannot negotiate a trade agreement bilaterally with a third country. This is a common decision we have taken. Why? Because we are much stronger if we negotiate a trade agreement at 28. We are the biggest market in the world, so when we negotiate at 28 or even in the future at 27 we will be the biggest market in the world. We negotiate from a position of strength so it is a matter of being at a negotiating table with more instruments to get a better deal. Obviously, the ones sitting at the other side of the table negotiating the deal might be interested in splitting us but it is not in our interest to split and this should be quite easy to understand. So that is why it is not giving up the sovereignty: it is exercising our sovereignty together which makes us stronger in the world.
Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission