Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and Turkey

October 17, 2017

Region Overview

NBC Capabilities and Technological Status

Europe’s diverse composition is reflected in its wide range of current weapons inventories and technological progress. France and the United Kingdom possess the complete nuclear fuel cycle and are nuclear weapon states (NWS) under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey are NPT non-nuclear weapon states, but continue to host U.S. tactical nuclear weapons as part of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)’s nuclear sharing policy. [1] At the height of NATO nuclear sharing in the 1970s, the United States deployed 7,300 tactical nuclear weapons in Europe; as of today, the United States is understood to deploy approximately 180 [2] B-61 gravity bombs in Belgium, Italy, Germany, Turkey, and the Netherlands. [3]

Many states in Europe are dependent on nuclear energy for a significant percentage of their electrical supplies. France derives three-quarters of its electricity from nuclear power plants, and many other European countries possess one or more nuclear power stations, notable exceptions being the Balkan states (except for Bulgaria, which has 2 nuclear power stations), the Baltic states, Norway, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Poland, and Turkey (though some, including Turkey, are in the process of acquiring nuclear power). [4] Many firms based in Europe are responsible for a significant share of the world’s uranium extraction and processing, as well as for plutonium reprocessing.

Modern chemical warfare originated in Europe in 1915 when Germany employed gas against British forces at the Second Battle of Ypres. [5] Ultimately, both sides in World War I developed and used chemical weapons in combat. Many of the most potent chemical agents, including Sarin and VG, were developed in German or British labs. [6] While there is region-wide adherence to chemical weapons disarmament, Western Europe’s chemical production and research industry remains robust, posing ongoing dual-use and export control risks.

Albania imported, but was never able to produce, a significant stockpile of chemical weapons during the Cold War, which were later declared and destroyed in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). [7] Ukraine possessed chemical weapons but not production capabilities upon independence from the Soviet Union, and the weapons were returned to Russia in 1992. [8] Several NATO states, most notably Germany, hosted U.S. chemical weapons during the Cold War, but these have since been repatriated to the United States for destruction.

Although many countries in Europe, particularly Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, have advanced biological research laboratories and medical production capabilities, they have also been adept at developing mechanisms to address dual-use concerns related to biological weapons. [9] Some facilities, such as the United Kingdom’s Porton Down, were once involved in offensive biological and toxin weapons research but have since been converted to purely defensive research. [10] Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom have a highly advanced network of medical firms, medical production capabilities, and research labs that include 14 Biosafety Level 4 facilities, with more under construction. [11]

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Internal Security and Terrorist Threats

Threats to the security and integrity of nuclear, chemical, and biological facilities in Europe emanate primarily from terrorism and social activism. Regional events have influenced perceptions of nuclear technologies in Europe; the legacy of World War II led to an increase in peace advocacy, and the Chernobyl accident increased public concerns about the safety of nuclear energy. The Cold War nuclear arms race also brought about the creation of a strong nuclear weapons abolition movement in Europe during the 1980s, with periodic implications for the security of nuclear facilities and materials.

Political and social debates associated with the deployment of nuclear weapons on European territory are longstanding. [12] In 2009 and 2010, peace activists breached security at a NATO base in Belgium where nuclear weapons are stationed. [13] Nuclear energy and reprocessing facilities have also been subject to protest-related break-ins. In 2012, protesters evaded detection and entered Swedish power plants in Forsmark and Ringhals, hiding on the premises for an extended period of time before being detained by security personnel. [14] Explosive materials were discovered at the Ringhals facility in June 2012, prompting the Swedish government to place the country’s nuclear facilities on alert, although no detonation mechanism was associated with the explosive material. [15]

Terrorist organizations in Europe generally fall into two different ideological categories, regional separatist movements and global organizations. Regionally established terrorist organizations such as the Irish Republican Army (IRA), the Basque separatist movement Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA), and the Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK) separatist movement, are focused primarily on discrete political and territorial aims. [16] Conversely, radical Islamist terrorists in Europe are typically part of global networks, such as Al-Qaeda. [17]

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Illicit Trafficking

At the end of the Cold War, illicit trafficking in Soviet CBRN materials became a concern, but only manifested limited cases in Western and Central Europe. Police in Germany, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria all uncovered proliferation-significant quantities of nuclear material illegally trafficked into their territory in the 1990s. This material was often transshipped through Moldova, Georgia or Turkey, but the traffickers appear to have had significant difficulties finding buyers. [18] Recent law enforcement initiatives such as Interpol’s Project GEIGER and Operation Fail Safe have focused on collating and analyzing information on illicit trafficking activities involving radiological and nuclear materials. [19] However, these activities can only be successful if national police and border guards are diligent in their investigations and report their findings. Europe’s Schengen Agreement has eliminated border checkpoints and passport checks inside of its 26 member states, making it difficult to track individuals or trafficked materials once they have successfully entered the Schengen Area.

Eastern Europe and Turkey have experienced more significant illicit trafficking challenges. Turkey is a major hub for both legitimate and illicit trade, because of its geostrategic position. The concentration of nuclear materials seizures around a number of Black Sea ports – although not limited to Turkey – indicates that it has been one route for illicit trafficking out of the Former Soviet Union. [20] As such, Turkey has undertaken numerous efforts to improve its border control systems, as reflected in the increased ratio of seizures of radioactive materials occurring at border control points as compared with in-country seizures. However, the vast majority of incidents appear to have resulted from the inadvertent movement of radioactive materials rather than concerted smuggling attempts. More recently, Turkey has faced severe border security challenges emanating from the ongoing civil war in Syria and the growth of the Islamic State (IS), a terrorist organization operating in Syria and Iraq. Although Syria’s declared chemical weapons and their precursors were removed from the country in 2014, there is evidence that some stocks went unreported and may have [21] fallen into the hands of opposition forces and could potentially transit the porous Turkish-Syrian border. [22]

European industry has also been the target of Iranian-based proliferation networks. Iranian businesses often establish front companies in Europe aimed at facilitating illicit materials transfers to Iran in contravention of EU export control laws. Protecting sensitive dual-use technology information has also been a major challenge for European industry. A.Q. Khan acquired advanced knowledge of nuclear technology while studying and working in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Khan eventually used the knowledge and contacts he acquired in Europe to develop an enrichment and nuclear weapons program in Pakistan, subsequently establishing the infamous A.Q. Khan network that sold sensitive technologies to customers including Iran, Iraq, Libya, and North Korea. [23]

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1540 Implementation

Export Controls

Europe is a major hub for global export control efforts, as several export control regimes are headquartered in the region. 23 countries [24] in continental Europe are members of all 4 multilateral export control regimes (MECRs) [25] and 12 [26] are not members of any. The remaining countries in Europe enjoy varying levels of MECR membership and adherence.

The European Union plays an important role in the legal status and implementation of export controls regionally. Regulation 428/2009 of the EU sets up a community regime for export control procedures and a common control list. [27] Members are subject to some export controls when trading amongst themselves, and progressively stricter controls for trade with non-member states. The European Commission mandates that any export-controlled or dual-use items for export outside of the EU must receive an export authorization through one of its four approved authorization mechanisms and at the same time abide by the rules of the relevant multilateral regime(s) whose provisions have been integrated into Regulation 428/2009 and its amendments. [28] EU General Export Authorization EU001 puts few limits on exports to Australia, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland Liechtenstein, and the United States, while EU002 covers the export of dual-use items to the rest of the world. [29] All of the EU’s control lists, procedures, and rules are aligned with those of the global multilateral export control regimes to supplement and support those efforts. The EU list is seen a model for many countries outside the region developing their own lists due to its comprehensiveness.

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Regional Outreach

Western Europe is not a major recipient of regional 1540-related outreach activities; it is instead one of the largest providers of such assistance to countries around the world. [30] Many training sessions, summits, workshops and meetings concerning UNSRC 1540 implementation have been hosted in European capitals, sponsored by European regional organizations and foreign ministries, or facilitated by European non-governmental organizations.

Several Eastern European and former Soviet states receive outside assistance in addressing nuclear trafficking and security challenges. The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration’s Second Line of Defense program works to help install radiation detection equipment at border checkpoints, airports, and seaports, and trains foreign partners deemed to be key potential trafficking waypoints. [31] The program is mostly focused on Russia and other former Soviet states such as Belarus, Ukraine and the Baltic States; however, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Greece have also received significant assistance. Most of Central and Eastern Europe, plus Turkey, Malta, Greece, and Portugal are aid recipients under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s Technical Cooperation Europe Program. [32]

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Regional Organizational Work on 1540

Europe has a complex patchwork of regional organizations with security and cooperation mandates, all of whom have had some input on the implementation of UNSCR 1540. The {{glossary-term:”organization-security-and-cooperation-europe”:”Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)”}} has organized consultation meetings with national governments to assist them in developing national action plans. For example, from 26-30 March 2012 the OSCE, the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) and officials of the Republic of Belarus held a consultation in Vienna, Austria to develop a Belarusian national 1540 action plan. [33] Similar meetings were held with Serbia on 24 November 2011, Moldova from 17-18 November 2011, and a general session for the full OSCE membership from 27-28 January 2011.

The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy appointed an EU Personal Representative on Nonproliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) to coordinate the actions of member states and articulate a common EU policy. [34] This representative held bilateral meetings with the 1540 Committee Chairman on 13 September 2010 in Brussels, Belgium. [35] In 2007, the European Commission created the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group, and in 2010, the EU CBRN Risk Mitigation Centers of Excellence project. [36] Both of these agencies assist member states with CRBN materials security and international treaty compliance, and coordinate with international partners to support non-member states’ 1540 implementation progress. From 14-15 May 2012 in Brussels, the European Union organized a Conference “Working with the EU CBRN Centres of Excellence: What concrete role for stakeholders and EU partners?” at which attendees discussed 1540 compliance and implementation. [37] The 11th International Export Conference, jointly hosted by Ukraine, the United States, and the European Union, is another example of EU cooperation and involvement in nonproliferation with non-member European governments and internationally. [38] In April 2013, the European Commission launched the European Security Training Centre (EUSECTRA), which will train personnel to combat trafficking of CBRN materials and facilitate cross-border cooperation and information sharing. [39]

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), whose membership includes both EU and non-EU members, has publicly called for coordination with other international and regional organizations to prevent terrorist access to WMD. Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova have participated in several Eastern Europe and Eurasia-focused workshops and summits through their membership in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), alongside Russia, and other countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus.

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Regional Progress and Challenges

The European Union faces a set of unique challenges and tools for combating trafficking and terrorism with its common market, the borderless Schengen Area, and its commitment to being a model for the rest of the world in nonproliferation. Throughout the EU, states have made strides in implementing their 1540 commitments and have actively worked with countries outside the region to improve implementation at a global level.

Many non-EU states in the region face challenges related to their capacity to balance the economic needs of their industries with wider nonproliferation and international security needs. Some struggle with capacity issues in their border and licensing agencies, but most have worked with international partners in recent years to improve in these areas.

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[1] Malcolm Chalmers and Simon Lunn, “NATO’s Tactical Nuclear Dilemma,” Royal United Services Institute Occasional Paper, March 2010, www.rusi.org.
[2] Julian Borger, “America’s new, more ‘usable’, nuclear bomb in Europe,” The Guardian, 10 November 2015, www.theguardian.com.
[3] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, “US Nuclear Forces, 2012,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 68 No. 3, May/June 2012, https://bos.sagepub.com; Elaine M. Grossman, “Seeking Kremlin Engagement, NATO Weighs Next Nuclear Posture Steps,” Global Security Newswire, 13 September 2012, www.nti.org/gsn.
[4] M. Girard, “Political Decisions and Britian’s Chemical Warfare Challenge in World War I: Descend to Atrocities,” Defence Studies, Vol 8. No. 1, March 2008, pp. 105-132.
[5] M. Girard, “Political Decisions and Britian’s Chemical Warfare Challenge in World War I: Descend to Atrocities,” Defence Studies, Vol 8. No. 1, March 2008, pp. 105-132.
[6] Jonathan Tucker, War of Nerves: Chemical Warfare from World War I to Al-Qaeda (Anchor, 2007), pp. 37-40, 146-147.
[7] Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, “Albania the first country to destroy all its chemical weapons,” 12 July 2007, www.opcw.org.
[8] Lev Fedorov, Khimicheskoye oruzhiye v Rossii: istoirya, ekologiya, politika [Chemical Weapons in Russia: History, Ecology, Politics], (Moscow: Center of Ecological Policy of Russia, 1994).
[9] A. Tegnell et. al, “Development of a matrix to evaluate the threat of biological agents used for bioterrorism,” Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, 63, 2006, pp. 2227-2228.
[10] Joseph Cirincione, Jon B. Wolfsthal, and Miriam Rajkumar, Deadly Arsenals: Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Threats, Revised Edition, 2 Rev Exp. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2005, 61.
[11] “Biosafety Level 4 Labs and BSL Information,” Federation of American Scientists, www.fas.org.
[12] Paul Viotti, “European peace movements and missile deployments,” Armed Forces & Society, Vol. 11 Issue No. 4, July 1985, pp. 11, 1985, 507.
[13] Jeffrey Lewis, “Activists Breach Security at Kleine Brogel,” Arms Control Wonk, 4 February 2010, https://lewis.armscontrolwonk.com.
[14] “Swedish police arrest four activists hiding overnight at nuclear power plant,” BBC Monitoring Europe, 10 October 2012, www.lexisnexis.com.
[15] “Explosives Found at Sweden Nuclear Plant,” The New Zealand Herald, 22 June 2012, www.lexisnexis.com.
[16] William Shepard, “The ETA Spain fights Europe’s Last Active Terrorist Group,” Mediterranean Quarterly, 56, 2002; Ignacio, Sànchez-Cuenca, “The Dynamics of Nationalist Terrorism: ETA and the IRA,” Terrorism and Political Violence, 19, 2007, p. 289; Karen Kaya, “Turkish commanders discuss counterterrorism strategies and lessons learned from 25 years of fighting the PKK,” Small Wars & Insurgencies, 23, no. 3, 2012, pp. 527-541.
[17] Syed Mansoob Murshed, “Threat perceptions in Europe: Domestic terrorism and international crime,” Defense and Peace Economics, 22, No. 2, April 2011, p. 182; Raymond Bonner, Jane Perlez, and Eric Schmitt, “British Inquiry in Failed Plots Points to Iraq’s Qaeda Group,” The New York Times, 14 December 2007, www.lexisnexis.com; Peter Bergen and Bruce Hoffman, “Assessing the terrorist threat: A Report of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s National Security Preparedness Group,” Bipartisan Policy Center, 10 September 2010, https://bipartisanpolicy.org.
[18] William Potter and Elena Sokova, “Illicit Nuclear trafficking in the NIS: What’s New? What’s True?” The Nonproliferation Review, Summer 2002.
[19] “CBRNE Terrorism Prevention Programme,” INTERPOL, www.interpol.int.
[20] Lyudmila Zaitseva, “Organized Crime, Terrorism and Nuclear Trafficking,” Strategic Insights VI, no. 5 (August 2007); Maj. Bruce Lawlor, “The Black Sea: Center of the nuclear black market,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 67, no. 6, 2011, 73.)
[21] Lorenzo Ferrigno, Anne Roche, and Richard Roth, “Diplomat: Syria has four chemical weapons facilities it didn’t disclose,” CNN, 8 October 2014, www.cnn.com.
[22] “Syria Chemical Weapons Facilities ‘Destroyed’,” Al-Jazeera, 1 November 2013; Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, “Announcement to Media on Last Consignment of Chemicals Leaving Syria,” OPCW News, 23 June 2014, www.opcw.org; Zachary Kallenborn and Raymond A. Zilinskas, “Disarming Syria of its Chemical Weapons: Lessons Learned from Iraq and Libya,” Nuclear Threat Initiative, 31 October 2013.
[23] Nuclear Black Markets: Pakistan, A.Q. Khan and the Rise of Proliferation Networks, IISS Strategic Dossier, 2 May 2007; Michael Laufer, “A.Q. Khan Nuclear Chronology,” Non-Proliferation Issue Brief for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 8, no. 8, 7 September 2005, www.carnegieendowment.org.
[24] These 23 Countries are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, and the UK.
[25] 12 European countries with no MECR membership are Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Georgia, Lichtenstein, Macedonia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino, and Vatican City.
[26] “Setting up a Community Regime for the Control of Exports, Transfer, Brokering and Transit of Dual-use Items,” COUNCIL REGULATION (EC) No. 428/2009, 5 May 2009, eur-lex.europa.eu
[27] Security Related Export Controls, Council of the European Union, www.consilium.europa.eu
[28] “Trade topics: Dual use,” European Commission, modified 25 January 2012. ec.europa.eu
[29] “The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) at a Glance,” Arms Control Association, www.armscontrol.org.
[30] “Offers from Member States,” 1540 Committee, www.un.org.
[31] National Nuclear Security Administration, “Second Line of Defense Program,” U.S. Department of Energy, nnsa.energy.gov.
[32] “IAEA Department of Technical Cooperation, Division for Europe,” www.iaea.org.
[33] “Event List and Related Documents,” 1540 Committee, www.un.org.
[34] Oliver Meier, “Interview with Annalisa Giannella, Personal Representative on Nonproliferation of WMD to EU High Representative Javier Solana,” Arms Control Today, 16 February 2009, www.armscontrol.org.
[35] “Event List and Related Documents,” 1540 Committee, www.un.org.
[36] European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG), www.ensreg.eu; CBRN Centres of Excellence, www.cbrn-coe.eu.
[37] “Event List and Related Documents,” 1540 Committee, www.un.org.
[38] “Eleventh Annual International Export Control Conference,” 8-10 June 2010, Kyiv, Ukraine, https://exportcontrol.org.
[39] “New EU training centre to combat illicit trafficking of nuclear and radioactive materials,” European Commission Press Release, 18 April 2013, europa.eu.

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