Rome, 20th-21st April 1993

Official Record

Office of the Clerk of the Assembly of WEU




Tuesday, 20th April 1993


(The sitting was opened at 9.42 a.m. with Mr. Lopez Henares, Chairman of the Technological and Aerospace Committee, in the Chair)

Mr. SOELL (President of the Assembly). - In deciding to hold today's symposium on Europe's defence against ballistic missiles, the Technological and Aerospace Committee is responding to one of our Assembly's vocations: to anticipate events and open debates that have not yet been started by governments. On many occasions and in several areas, the WEU Assembly has thus been able to guide the Council's thinking and prepare its decisions.

It is clear, however, that, in this particular matter, the Assembly is raising quite a delicate subject with the result that certain governments are somewhat reluctant to follow it. Now that the major threat that had been hanging over Western Europe for more than forty years seems to have disappeared, no external power seems to be threatening our territory and the economic difficulties we are now facing are leading our countries to make substantial reductions in the funds they earmark for military investment, it may indeed seem paradoxical to discuss an undertaking that is, in any event, very costly and does not seem essential.

Yet, the very reasons which make the development of an anti- missile system covering Western Europe less topical encourage reflection here and now, without the constraint of events, on the way Europe can ensure its security in the coming decades. It will probably be several years before our governments make the choices they feel necessary and far longer before they implement them and it is not until the next century, at the best, that we can expect an effective system to be installed to protect Europe against any form of aggression.

It is indeed very difficult to talk about major investment for setting up a defensive system without being able to say what threat it is intended to counter. This is no doubt one of the reasons why the governments hesitate to tackle this matter and they are certainly right not to wish to point to potential enemies just when they are carrying out controlled disarmament on which they wish to build a new security order in Europe. Our aim is certainly not to cast doubt on the intentions of one or other of them and still less to jeopardise all that has been done to set peace on new foundations, one of the most important of which being the limitation of armaments.

Two points deserve our attention. The first is the existence and proliferation throughout the world of ballistic systems and weapons of mass destruction against which the treaties now seem to be nothing more than paper barriers. The second is the weakness of some of the political foundations of stability and peace in many regions of the world, some of which are on our doorstep. We are accusing no one of warlike intentions by noting these facts and asking ourselves what they imply for the future of our security. It will be all the easier for us to promote the controlled limitation of offensive armaments if we are in a position to face up to the danger such weapons may represent. It will also be less difficult for us to take part in operations such as humanitarian assistance, conflict prevention or crisis management if we are better able to protect ourselves against threats, blackmail and any action taken against us.

We should also determine how autonomous Western Europe can and must be in this area. Can it have confidence in a global system such as the one the United States is now considering deploying outside the American continent or should it shoulder the burden of a regional system that would be under its control? This not just a question of technical data. The governments' decisions will obviusly have to take full account of political data that our symposium cannot analyse. However, the governments that now refuse to tackle them cannot be blamed, but a parliamentary assembly must not hesitate to take the risk. The fact that we have invited American and Russian speakers so as to have a better knowledge and understanding of the way they envisage the role their countries will have to play in a collective undertaking designed to ensure the security of everyone shows clearly the spirit of openness with which our Assembly is tackling the question of anti-missile defence.

It is the privilege of a parliamentary assembly to be able to tackle, without constraint and without committing the governments, the problems that it believes to be important now and for the future. Our purpose is not take a decision on them but merely to bring them into broad daylight by calling on experts capable of revealing the full extent of the debate from the political standpoint and from that of the technology involved. The wish I express in opening this symposium is not that we culminate with a programme of action but, more simply, that we discuss the elements of a debate which, mark my words, will make itself felt in the years ahead and which the political authorities will no longer be able to avoid. It is with this in view and within these limits that I welcome the initiative taken by the Technological and Aerospace Committee under the firm leadership of its Chairman, Mr. Lopez Henares.

Once again, we owe our presence here to the good will of the Italian authorities, on whom our Assembly has so often called in organising its symposia. Our decision to call on them once again did not stem solely from the charms of a Roman spring nor even from the fact that Italy is now exercising a particularly active Chairmanship of the WEU Council. It is also due to the fact that Italy, at the crossroads of continental Europe and the Mediterranean, was the first country to be awakened to the dangers of the proliferation of ballistic missiles and its industries, for long involved in a number of multinational projects, have always welcomed the prospects of broad European co-operation in armaments matters. I wish to express my particularly warm thanks to its Minister of Defence, Mr. Ando, and to the staff of his ministry who enabled this symposium to be held in the premises in which we now find ourselves. Without their support, that of the entire Italian Government, the Italian Parliament, its delegation to our Assembly and its Chairman, Mr. Foschi, we should have been unable to organise this meeting.

Finally, I wish, in particular, to congratulate our colleague and friend, Mr. Lenzer, Rapporteur of the Technological and Aerospace Committee, who has done so much to guide the Assembly's thinking on anti-missile defence, a new area for it. It was he who, thanks to the report he presented to the Assembly in December 1992, guided our work in the direction it has taken. At our forthcoming session, it will be for him to draw political conclusions from the symposium so as to induce the Council to take account of a dimension of European security that has so far been too often neglected.

Finally, I must thank the speakers who have agreed to come to introduce the topics that we are to tackle here, be they representatives of governments, experts on political matters or representatives of industry. I invite them to express themselves freely during this symposium. It will be for the parliamentarians to draw lessons from what they have to say and from the answers to questions and to reach political conclusions.

We shall thus be able to give the full weight of sound argumentation and in-depth thinking to the recommendations that we are to adopt at our session next June after taking cognisance of the report that Mr. Lenzer will present to the Assembly on behalf of the Technological and Aerospace Committee.

I should like to bring this brief introduction to a close by expressing my very best wishes for a highly successful symposium and trust that, to an even greater extent than all those which have preceded it, it will affirm WEU's vocation as recognised by the Twelve in the Maastricht Treaty: to play a full part, in its own area, in the development of a European Union in which external and joint security policy will find an essential place. It is this wish that leads me, without delay, to declare our discussions open.

Mr. FOSCHI (Chairman of the Italian Delegation).- First, I wish to thank the Minister of Defence, Mr. Ando, who, as Chairman of the WEU Council, has already organised, in this very place, the seminar on new defence models in which the parliamentary Assembly of WEU was able to play an active part. Mr. Ando is now providing the venue for the symposium which our colleague, Mr. Lopez Henares, was so anxious to hold and for which he has, moreover, been able to draw up a very full programme and bring together top-ranking speakers on the complex subject that is to be tackled during these two days of discussions.

In reality, the subject corresponds to the order adopted by the WEU Assembly on the basis of a fundamental report, that of Mr. Lenzer. At its session last December, the Assembly instructed the Technological and Aerospace Committee to organise a symposium on problems relating to anti-ballistic missile defence, as President Soell has reminded us. This requirement emerged from the realisation that the rapid development of advanced ballistic missile technology and the proliferation of such technology in the third world meant new challenges for Europe and the entire world: the response to these challenges and their consequences still have to be analysed in full.

The concept of is at present undergoing radical change, a change linked with this era, which is similar in character to the immediate post-war period. The "new security" must adapt itself to changes in technological conditions and also to a peril of a different type (we are now at a stage where the threat is scattered and unforeseeable) and to a financial situation which is forcing us to restrict defence budgets. In this context, the question of anti-missile defence has been partly left out of the debate on new defence models, perhaps also because it mainly concerned the two superpowers, actors in a political environment that was totally different from the present one.

As a result of the Gulf war, we have been led to concentrate on other defence-related problems. Personally, I am convinced that this symposium will make an effective contribution to advancing the debate on a topic that is essential for the security of our countries and for the architecture of the security system that we are trying to build with WEU, in particular following the mandate stemming from the Maastricht Treaty.

The American GPALS (global protection against limited strikes) programme, a subject on which, moreover, the new United States administration does not yet seem to have expressed its views, is a version of the SDI (strategic defence initiative) launched by President Reagan. The SDI's initial aim was to create an almost completely impermeable umbrella of protection against attacks by missiles that the Soviet Union might have targeted on the territory of the United States or its allies. In spite of progress with advanced technology relating to the implementation of the programme, in spite of the lasers, neutral particle beams, directed energy, guidance systems and satellite platforms that have, to a great extent, allowed the United States to prove its clearer superiority over the Soviet Union, it has become evident that the proposal to deploy an impermeable space shield would be almost impossible in the near future, even at very high cost. The nuclear disarmament programme and the disintegration of the Warsaw Pact, followed by that of the Soviet Union, made quite superfluous such an expensive project, which the United States Congress has always been reluctant to finance.

The GPALS initiative seems, in principle, to be of interest to the European countries of WEU but more particularly southern European countries such as Italy, for various reasons. First, anti-ballistic missile protection, even limited, would be a significant guarantee against the proliferation of missile technology in the Mediterranean basin, whereas such proliferation is inevitable in the long term in spite of obstacles that may be placed in its way, particularly in the Near and Middle East. If the Mediterranean countries concerned obtained missiles, the absence of defence might, on the contrary, involve a clear risk, and an even greater one in the case of missiles with nuclear or chemical warheads.

The implementation of the GPALS project also might help to maintain the link between European and American theatre strategy, thus largely avoiding the effects of the withdrawal of American conventional and tactical nuclear forces from our continent. It would also ensure the protection of remaining American (and allied) forces, thus facilitating the maintenance of the United States military presence in Europe. Positive effects would also be felt in the solidity of NATO integrated military structures, particularly as there is already a very high degree of integration in air defence.

Extending cover to the Central European countries and to Russia itself would be a first form of worthwhile co-operation with those countries in the security area.

With more particular regard to the policy of non-proliferation of missiles, stress should be laid on the growing importance, in this delicate sector, of the missile technology control regime (MTCR).

Set up in 1987 on the initiative of the seven most industrialised countries wishing to intensify the control of transfers of missile systems capable of carrying nuclear warheads, the MTCR now has twenty-three members including, for once, all twelve countries of the European Community.

At the plenary meeting in Oslo in July 1992, it was decided, in accordance with an initiative taken by Italy and other European countries at the previous plenary meeting held in Washington in November 1991, to extend the control regime to missiles capable of carrying not only nuclear warheads but also chemical and biological warheads. As a consequence, the application of this principle means modifying the parameters relating to range of action and payload (hitherto fixed in MTCR directives at 300 km and 500 kg respectively). Application of the control regime has thus been extended to all weapons of mass destruction.

These measures are obviously of particular importance to Italy, whose geostrategic position exposes it to missile attacks, even by medium-range missiles, now being tested and which certain Mediterranean countries might obtain. As an example, I wish to underline that, at the recent plenary meeting of the countries belonging to the MTCR, held in Canberra last March, it was learned that a programme for a missile with a range of action of almost 1 000 km and capable of carrying a payload of 1 000 kg is believed to be at an advanced stage of development in North Korea. According to various sources, the first launching tests of this missile, the No-Dong 1, may take place at the end of 1993 or beginning of 1994.

North Korea is also believed to have contacted countries that might wish to procure this type of missile. These countries include Libya, already in possession of the Scud-B system produced by the former Soviet Union (with a range of about 300 km) whose basic concept is copied in the No-Dong 1, with increased range and payload.

In a more general framework, examining the programmes of countries with missile technology, it may be noted that Russia, Ukraine, China and North Korea are continuing to supply third countries - including Iran, Libya and Syria - with missiles that can carry nuclear, chemical and biological weapons with ranges between 300 and 3 000 km.

It should be noted that, while recent contacts with Russia seem to have produced some result, i.e. improved control of its exports, China has given no assurances in respect of the sale of complete launching systems. The Ukrainian Government, for its part, has emphasised that it did not intend to renounce its missile industries, considered to be among the most highly-developed in the world, even though the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs recently affirmed that his country recognised the problem of non-proliferation and control of ballistic technology, which should rule out any form of co-operation with third countries. Recent approaches by western countries in Pyongyang do not seem to have been more successful: the North Korean Minister for Foreign Affairs curtly rejected these initiatives, describing them as interference in Korea's internal affairs, and adding that information about the export of North Korean missiles to Iran and current co-operation with Syria were merely figments of western propaganda.

Egypt, India, Indonesia and Pakistan, together with the countries already mentioned, Iran, Libya and Syria, are at present carrying out independent missile development programmes. It is disturbing to note that, in view of the situation that I have just briefly described to you, the United States is at present the only country actively engaged in research and development for a system of defence against ballistic missiles -as Mr. Lenzer has already pointed out in his report - whereas, for geographical reasons, it is less vulnerable than Europe.

It is increasingly urgent, from this point of view in particular, for WEU to develop the necessary co-operation in the framework of NATO.

I apologise for having said more than necessary in welcoming you, at the risk of curtailing unduly the speaking time of the illustrious speakers who are to address us this morning. However, I felt I should explain the reasons for the importance of our subject.

I wish, once again, to thank Mr. Lopez Henares, the Technological and Aerospace Committee and the organisers and also the Ministry of Defence for its hospitality and co-operation.

In wishing you success in your work, I confirm the will of the Italian Delegation to the parliamentary Assembly of WEU to contribute, through its ideas, to anti-missile defence for Europe and to endeavour in the appropriate forums, during this year of Italian presidency, to translate the results of this symposium into action to be taken to promote the European dimension of security and defence that we have undertaken to set up through WEU.

Thank you and good luck in your work.

Mr. LOPEZ-HENARES (Chairman of the Technological and

Aerospace Committee). - After the opening address by our President and the warm welcome by the Chairman of the Italian Delegation, I wish to remind you briefly - and, I must confess, with satisfaction - that our committee, by organising this symposium on anti-missile defence for Europe, is continuing a valuable and useful tradition that it inaugurated in 1973 by holding regular symposia on topical matters in its area of responsibility.

A particular feature of these symposia is that they bring together experts with very different backgrounds: universities and research institutes, industry and the armed forces, and also journalists and others interested in exchanging views with parliamentarians, representatives of governments and international organisations. The aim of symposia such as the one starting today is to allow a free and open discussion of the difficult problems raised by co-operation in military - and particularly aerospace - equipment.

The success of earlier events of this kind organised by our committee allows us to note that they have given considerable impetus to the shaping of ideas and have also helped the governments concerned to decide what position to adopt and to take decisions.

Thus, I would remind you that, in March 1988, our committee organised a symposium in London on European co-operation in armaments research and development.

On the basis of conclusions drawn from that symposium, the Assembly recommended that the Council give impetus to the work of the IEPG (Independent European Programme Group) and establish a European advanced defence research agency. Today, it can be seen that the activities of the IEPG have increased considerably and that it has now been decided to incorporate this group in WEU. Furthermore, we hope that the WEU Council's decision to study the conditions for setting up a European armaments agency will soon lead to concrete results.

In March 1990, the Technological and Aerospace Committee organised a symposium here in Rome on observation satellites - a European means of verifying disarmament and, as a follow-up to an Assembly recommendation, the Council decided to create the WEU satellite centre in Torrejon, which is to be inaugurated officially in a few days' time, and to ask European industry to conduct a feasibility study of the development of a European space-based observation system.

We meet today for our committee's seventh symposium since 1973 but I do not believe that we have ever tackled such a delicate or even controversial subject. I renew the thanks our President has already expressed to all the speakers. Allow me to stress, on this occasion, how much we regret having been unable to avoid a partial coincidence between the dates of this symposium and of the conference on systems of defence against theatre missiles being held in Washington. These unfortunate circumstances have caused difficulties for a number of participants, so we are particularly happy that experienced speakers from the United States - to whom I convey a warm welcome - are nevertheless in our midst. Allow me also to welcome the presence of two representatives from the Russian Federation.

As you can see from the programme, we have a very full agenda for these two days, which compels me to ask all speakers to limit their addresses to fifteen minutes if they possibly can so as to allow sufficient time for the discussions.

I hope the discussion will be a lively one - perhaps even controversial - and I invite all those present in the hall to play an active part.

(Mr. Lopez Henares then announced that Mr. Ando, Minister of Defence of Italy, had been delayed and would speak after General Jean).

Problems raised by the development and proliferation of advanced ballistic missile technology