Rome, 20th-21st April 1993

Official Record

Office of the Clerk of the Assembly of WEU



Wednesday, 21st April 1993




Mr. LENZER (Vice-Chairman of the Technological and Aerospace Committee) thanked the Italian authorities for their hospitality and all participants for their valuable contributions.

He thought the best way to summarise this symposium might be to recall what a Dutch participant had said during one of the discussions: At the present juncture, there were still more questions than answers.

The architecture of a system discussed in the last two days was of course complex. This symposium could therefore merely assess risks, take stock of the situation and define possible options in response to the risks. Regarding the contributions of representatives of industry, the whole problem could be reduced to the question of whether there was a possibility of preventing a ballistic missile threat by means of a global protection system, hence a new security architecture, in which Europe could play an autonomous role. Would this be possible in the framework of WEU member countries and also in a wider context to give the international community of states the wherewithal to repulse any sort of blackmail in whatever area of the world? It was known from events in former Yugoslavia how difficult it was within the United Nations, NATO, WEU and other organisations to reach decisions or even to take action in order to end atrocities. With the end of the bipolar world we had to come to grips with different kinds of threat arising from national disputes, ethnic conflicts and terrorist activities - even state terrorism. The choice was not between measures of non-proliferation and arms control, on the one hand, and active protection or active defence against a threat on the other; no, the aim of the symposium was to make a contribution in a broader framework which of course was not conceivable without political measures and treaty systems to preclude the risks. The question had to be asked, however: what could be done if someone failed to observe the treaties even after signing them? In these cases, which were based on real experience and not theoretical considerations, one had to have the ability to repulse a threat, and this would be possible only by reaching decisions on technical and military options.

The process of European integration could not be separated from security questions which today had to be placed in a global context. Even with the end of the cold war, the risks had not diminished. One could imagine the horrible devastation had the V-2 rockets at the end of the second world war been equipped with warheads capable of mass destruction. As a first conclusion, one should recognise, as already concluded at a previous symposium organised by the Technological and Aerospace Committee, the need to create a space-based monitoring and early-warning system after which it would be possible to consider the option of an anti-ballistic missile defence system. Experience during the Gulf war and at this symposium had shown that high technology could offer certain options and answers in this matter. This, of course, was not a political answer, but giving political answers was not the aim of the symposium. In the framework of the WEU Assembly, it would be necessary to work out recommendations regarding a protection system with due regard to European requirements and taking into account the work already done by the United States. This might lead to a co-operative system, perhaps drawing other countries into what might be a security partnership. First, however, there would have to be risk assessment and risk description. In a second stage, WEU member countries should define their security requirements, and pool the means at their disposal to find an appropriate answer to the different risks. In doing this, it was obvious that Europe also had to consider the American offer of participation in a global protection system. Technical options could not replace political decisions. But a policy could function only if it had operational leeway and for this it needed technical and military options. It was therefore necessary to come to grips with reality.

(The sitting was closed at 4.40 p.m.)

(1). During the discussion, the Russian representative said his country was not in favour of revising the ABM treaties.


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